The Unplanned

IMG_6985A rare (for me) night brew…and foreshadowing

My “go-to” S24O destination is at one of the two Lake Ray Roberts State Park Campgrounds (Johnson Branch up north or Isle du Bois Branch near the east end of the dam). I can be there within an hour and a half, and I’ve been many times. I’ve got my favorite spots. I have an idea which spots would be best for various seasons or weather conditions. I have an idea about what to expect.

IMG_6990Colder than it looks…and more foreshadowing

But even my rather civilized outings so short, so familiar, and so near to home can bring me the unexpected. It is the unplanned things that make these little outings little adventures. So this post is about the unplanned.

I didn’t plan…

  • To arrive at the Park and learn that most of the primitive camping spots were already taken, and the spots I had in mind for myself were already taken. But I found a nice quiet spot that worked well.
  • To test my new Thermarest pad as a raft on an ocean of spilled coffee inside my tent as I was settling in for the night. But I learned that clean-up duties can be substituted for reading as camplife entertainment.
  • To wake up to 29 degrees in the morning. I had planned for mid-30s. But for some reason, I packed my vapor barrier for my sleeping bag. I slept fine.
  • To learn that my fire steel will not ignite my alcohol stove in 29 degree weather. But if I put my stove in a plastic bag, crawl back into my sleeping bag, and put the stove between my legs, it will warm up enough to ignite.
  • To leave half my breakfast at home (eggs).  But I still had my oatmeal.  So I at least had something warm to eat.
  • To actually consume some gas station coffee. I needed a little more fuel for the windy ride home (remember no eggs), and learned that it was serviceable in a pinch.

IMG_7008Trails are more rugged than they appear…and, yes, more foreshadowing

And finally…

  • To learn that my GoPro camera, threaded to my tripod and covered snugly with my Carradice flap, can be shaken loose and lost as I bounced along with all my gear on the trails. Actually, I didn’t discover that until after I arrived back at home, and that one still stings a little.

Epic Lollygagging 2017

This is the post that provides key information for the 9th Annual Fall Finale 50ish Mile Country Path Ramble. This year’s information post includes bonus photos of Blue Moon leading the reconnaissance expedition. That was a huge responsibility because this year’s route has been modified. The key differences in the route are (a) it is a couple of miles shorter, (b) includes less mileage on FM roads, (c) omits the Rosston General Store, and (d) includes a few new segments. The route for 2017 is similar to what we’ve done in the recent past, but Blue Moon wanted to shorten it a little and trade FM road mileage for County Road mileage. Regrettably, he had to sacrifice a crowd favorite stop in Rosston, but was able to keep the delightful Greenwood stop on the route.

1Blue Moon takes his reconnaissance seriously


This year’s Ramble will be on Saturday, November 11. We will roll out of my driveway at 9 am. That means you should arrive in time to make all needed preparations BEFORE 9 am. Sometimes we have a fire going, or some breakfast tacos to munch. We always enjoy admiring our friends bicycles. This is a social ride, so arriving an hour early would be brilliant!

2He wants you to know you’ll see gobs of barbed wire


The Ramble is a ride I do each year on a Saturday near the end of autumn. The primary objective is to spend a few hours riding a bicycle with others on rural north Texas roads.  A goodly fraction of the route is on gravel roads (about 44% this year). Historically, it’s length has been in the 40-50 mile range. This year totals 48.

This year’s route, weather permitting, will be about 2 miles shorter than last year, and will include a couple of new segments. In the past, I have offered two options.  The standard route, and a shorter interior loop of approximately 35 miles which omits the Greenwood stop. Blue Moon urged me to omit the short route option this year. There are no services on that route at all. Officially, I probably will omit it. However, if you want to come and are not comfortable with the 48 mile route, let me know.

The pace is what I call “conversational” because I think of this as a social kind of touring ride.  We will stop for snacks, photographs, or just because.  Since I’m participating in the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I am definitely planning to stop for a coffee brew-up. Like last year, I plan to have cue sheets available for those who might wish to ride faster or slower than me.

3Blue Moon allowed for my favorite coffee brew-up spot on the route (mile 14.5)

4Blue Moon approves of the brew-up spot in front of the grove

5The Ramble has gone through Leo in the past, and Blue Moon wanted it back this year

In addition to the coffee brew-up on the route, a sort of tradition has emerged to drive into town (Sanger) after the ride to refuel with Mexican food at Miguelito’s. Any who wish to join before making their way back to the big city are welcome to join the group for a little more bicycle-related socializing.

6Not far past Leo, we’ll get to see the big hole


Anyone who is interested in being a part of what is described above is welcome to participate. If you plan to join me, I would appreciate an email message (cj dot spinner at g mail dot com) or a blog post comment telling me that you will be here.  My preparation plans are dependent on the number of folks participating, so please help me with this. If you plan to join us and haven’t already contacted me, please do so now.

7Blue Moon knows we all want to stop at the Greenwood Grocery for grub (mile 27)

8…and admire the classic ad mural…

9…and the park…


If you need my address and/or directions to my little place on the prairie, send me an email.

10Blue Moon made sure we’d have plenty of creek crossings

11Blue Moon suggested routing through Slidell

12Did he mention barbed wire?

13…and gravel roads, we love our gravel roads!


Plan ahead. If this Ramble thing sounds like a good time, block out the day and get it on your calendar now. Then make your contingency plan in case you can’t finish the route for any reason. Finally, let me know you are coming. Bring a friend.

14We are sad when the last gravel segment turns to pavement

I always want folks to know that I’m not hard-core.  I can ride if it is a little cold, or a little drizzly, but I don’t like cold AND wet.  On days like that, I will send you on your way with a cue sheet and my best wishes, and then spend the rest of my day by the fireplace (join me there if you wish).

The other thing to emphasize for this ride is that you are responsible for you. This is not a T-shirt ride, there are no entry fees, and no (official) sag services. That said, Mrs. Pondero has been known to rescue a few folks in the past. She has a pick-up and a cell phone, and often tries to join the group at Greenwood at the time she expects some of us to be there (noonish?).

We’ll have only one place to stop for restroom, water, or snacks (Greenwood, mile 27). You should have a back-up plan for a mechanical problem, and beware…some areas on the Ramble route do not have cell phone service.  Yes, it’s rural.

Any questions?