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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22 thoughts on “Pondero’s Day Off

  1. Excellent post, Chris. The warning at the top is hardly warranted- I, at least, tune in equally for your prose and your photos.

    I write you tonight from Portneuf, Quebec, which I am currently passing through for work. I have an old steel mtn bike for exploring the various places I stop (leaving for supper on it right after this) but spending far too much time in the giant diesel pickup provided for the job. But I can’t complain…

    In the northwest of Australia, where I was 14.5 long/short years ago, the paved highway (singular) even dip down at some stream crossings and is engineered to be submerged in ‘the wet’ (one of 2 seasons there.) Your wet crossing reminded me of it.

    Also, although I am able to stick Sanger, Bowie, and Lindsay, TX, into the best-known mapping site to get an approximate idea of your route, I wonder if you have any interest in sharing anything more detailed? As a geographer by training and inclination, I do like a map to peruse…

    Many thanks,
    Robin

  2. Hi Chris: I think one reason everyone likes Pondero is because few of us have ever seen countryside looking anything like where you ride. I found your comment about using only the front chainring shift interesting. I have one bike with triple rings that I almost never shift rear cogs on. Using just the front, I get gear-inches of 50, 70, and 90. These three are perfect for my riding. Most of the time I’m in the middle ring at 42-16. Your mention of the Chisholm Trail reminded me of Wes Hardin at around age nineteen driving cattle on the Chisholm headed for the big Kansas stockyards and railheads. Some Mexicans behind Wes got impatient and ran their own cattle right over Wes. Big mistake. Wes killed all the Mexicans with just his pistol and then ordered his men to bury them. ~Keith

  3. Awesome! How hot is it thismtime of year? St. Jo,sounds and looks like a great little town. By the way, my mtn bike is named Fresca Longhorn, because it has wide handlebars like a longhorn cow. Peace, Jo

    • Well, I shouldn’t try to make the heat sound more than it really is. There are plenty of folks dealing with temps in upper 90s/low 100s. The enjoyment factor just drops dramatically for me at the mid 90s point. That means I need to be done by mid day.

  4. I call this riding “Wanderneuring”. Not letting a time limit get in the way of an otherwise nice ride.

    Best Regards, R Zeidler

    >

    • Yes! To be honest, I probably would have lingered longer in some of the nicer spots if I wasn’t trying to finish before the temps became unpleasant. When Fall arrives, however, these rides might take all day!

    • The Hilsen did a very nice job, and it fits me extremely well. On the rougher stuff, I gave the Atlantis a lot of thought. It might be with the new tires, it would have been the perfect bike for that route.

  5. Chris, I always enjoy your posts. In this one I could feel the Texas summer heat! The road pics reminded of some of the scenes in the film “Cool Hand Luke”. I get the feeling you like doing solo rides where you can ride as you please. Enjoy!
    ~ Richard riding his Sam Hillborne, the other “best bike ever”-:)

  6. Your photos really capture the area of Texas where you’ve ridden, such a nice slice of the Chisholm trail, small Texas towns with boot shops and places for an enjoyable cup of coffee, great gravel roads (something we definitely lack in Southeast Arizona!). I envy you quite often Chris!

  7. Pingback: Trials & Misadventures | Pondero

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