Pondero’s Day Off

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Warning – Photo heavy post.

It felt a little like playing hooky. There are plenty of things that should be done at work, and I’m probably behind on several of them. But I’ve been looking for a convenient opportunity to take off on a Friday for a non-camping overnighter. One-by-one the multiple appointments on my calendar for Friday disappeared. It looked like an opportunity to me. So I packed up a saddlebag on Thursday evening, and made arrangements with Mrs. Pondero to meet me for a late lunch in Lindsay, Texas.

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For me, a mini-tour like this, in a Texas August, means virtually all miles are before lunch. I was rolling by 6:15 am.

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I had made reservations at an inexpensive hotel in Bowie, Texas for the night. So I was able to travel with fairly minimal (for me) gear. There are, however, many miles with NO services. I carried lots of water.

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Several miles down the road, the sun finally rose out of the early morning haze. A classic Texas ranch land scene.

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This one kept a close eye on me as a passed by. Perhaps I should have made this the first photo since I was riding through towns that were a part of the Chisholm Trail.

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We don’t have what you’d call mountains in this part of north Texas, but we do have some rolling hills that offer occasional places to view distant horizons. I found later in my trip that this is even more true northwest of my house.

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I spent a fair amount of time searching for ways to maximize time off of highways and spend time on low traffic roads like this paved one.

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But most of my first day was spent on constantly rolling gravel roads.

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I learned that gravel roads west of my house are rougher, rockier, and sandier that I’m used to riding. There were many places that I would have preferred to have higher volume tires than my 38mm Lierres.

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All morning long…

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This late in the summer, and this far west, I don’t expect to find streams with flowing water. The few I find are flowing under bridges.

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In this case, however, I actually was so far away from any populated area the stream flowed right across the road.  Very strange for me.

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I didn’t get out much after riding in to Bowie and having a wonderfully satisfying burger for lunch. I showered, cooled off, and made good use of my hotel room while the sun blazed through the afternoon. I took a few minutes to think about not being at work. A little before sundown, I went out and rode through town a little, but didn’t get any particularly interesting photos.

The Longhorn Cafe is locally famous, and I can see why. My cheese and bacon omelet was fantastic, the staff was friendly, and the tab was surprisingly small.  The coffee was serviceable.

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It was another early start, but it didn’t take long to get into the rollers.

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There were hundreds of old homesteads, barns, and handsome farm/ranch homes along my tour route. I photographed only a few. This old tractor caught my eye and made me turnaround and snap a through-gate shot.

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Lots and lots of this.

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It was a beautiful morning, it wasn’t too hot yet, and it seemed time for a little cockpit image whimsy. Don’t you wish you were there?

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Montague County Courthouse. When I first moved up to north Texas, I learned that the locals pronounce “Montague” with only two syllables… (mon – tayg’)

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Up and down…

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…wind around. I got into a rhythm of using only my front derailleur. Big ring for downhills and middle ring for uphills…repeat until done.

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There were more paved roads on the second day, and less climbing. I was traveling mostly east and gradually losing a little elevation.

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Saint Jo is a charming little town. There appears to be a certain pride here and the square was beginning to fill up with a farmers market when I arrived.

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No action at the local custom boot maker as yet.

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But plenty of action at the coffee shop where I paused for some refreshment.

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I took my iced coffee and muffin to the park in the middle of the town square. I enjoyed the shade, breeze, and general goings on.

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Ah, here’s one of those old houses that has seen better days. Just off the frame was a gigantic bovine laying in the shade…couldn’t be bothered.

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Much of the day was on roads exposed fully to the sun.

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So when I’d pass through a small town crossroads (this one is Myra, Texas), I use the shade as a good excuse to check the cue sheet again.

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My tour ended at the Lindsay city park only 0.4 miles from Dieter Brothers Restaurant. I arrived in time to cool off, stretch my legs, and reflect back on my great fortune to get away for this mini-tour before meeting Mrs. Pondero for an outstanding BBQ lunch.

IMG_0136After lunch we brought the noble A. Homer Hilsen home. Best bike ever. He had just successfully completed a two-day rural road mini-tour (58 miles on Friday, and 55 miles on Saturday) in the middle of a blazing Texas summer. I think he was tired.

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Just a Few Details

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A small single-prop airplane, purring like a kitten, sneaks up behind me in the dark.

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Tiny pebbles, tossed by knobby tires, land on the brim of my straw hat, rolling and rattling like pool table balls in a track from the pocket to the gathering end.

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Other pebbles, tossed into my sandals, gather there until I tilt my foot, flap my heel, and pour them out like gravel out of a dump truck bed.

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Like a diligent bartender shining shot glasses, I wipe the gravel dust off the inside of my enamel mug with a bandanna.

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Sitting at the picnic table sipping freshly-brewed coffee, remembering the good times like a lonely old man in a rural diner.

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Beads of sweat accumulate on the back of my wrists, and sparkle like dew drops on early morning grass.

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The back half of the side slit in my MUSA shorts flaps in the breeze like a friendly wave.