stoveOf the many things to admire about the Trangia stove, I have a clear favorite. The stove is a reliable soldier, and it’s admirable qualities are perfectly harmonious with trips afield. It is durable, simply made, simple to operate, relatively light, uses easily obtained fuel, and is silent in use. There is, however, a slight whisper of a sound when it is ignited. It is a sound that might be missed in urban settings. But in the kind of quiet places that outdoor enthusiasts seek, the gentle kiss of flame with fuel vapor makes a “wumpht” that sounds happy and eager for the work ahead. It delights me without fail.

Elegant Transport

img_5159I suppose that the superior elegance of bicycle transportation is nowhere more clearly understood than while riding in the city. That is the environment that allows so many comparisons with other means of transport. It is true that, on my rural rides, I sometimes feel like a clipper ship sailing through waves of prairie grass. But mostly I’m isolated in my movement. The cows stand there chewing, and I sail by. There is an elegance of flow across the empty rolling landscape, but no basis for comparison.

Compared to automobiles, pedestrians, trains, and buses, the elegance of the bicycle glows like the the warm light of a well-established campfire on a crisp fall evening. Trains and buses require the traveler to adjust to rigid, established routes and schedules. Traveling by car requires the traveler to spend great gobs of time queuing at all manner of traffic controllers, for the number of cars is staggering and they consume so much space. Then, there is even more cumbersomeness. The car must be stored someplace not proximal to the start or destination. The pedestrian fares better than these constricted and constrained noise-making contraptions, but he moves so slowly. He must bear the entire burden of his daily appurtenances. He transfers his weight from one foot to the other in a long series of hammer jolts. All these, from the saddle of a bicycle, seem utterly barbaric.

I notice all these things while riding through the city. The advantages of my mode of travel stand out in stark contrast to my fellow travelers. My wheels roll smoothly on a route that I choose. In the numerous bike lanes, I roll past so many stopped cars directly up to the intersection at traffic lights. My bicycle carries my load, and simply glides through the city silently, smoothly, and swiftly. The bicycle shines as the elegant aristocracy of transportation like the moon outshines the stars.

Less Than 2 Weeks


The Eighth Annual Fall Finale Fifty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble rolls out at 9 am on Saturday, November 12…less than 2 weeks from now. This post is to remind those of you who might be considering joining us to make a decision, make a plan, invite your friends, and come on out.

This post is also for folks who haven’t joined us before…to explain what it is we do. Veterans of the ride have a pretty good idea on what to expect. In many ways, this year’s ride will be very similar to what we’ve typically done for the last few years.


This year’s Ramble will be on Saturday, November 12. 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.


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. Historically, it’s length has been in the 40-50 mile range.

This year’s route, weather permitting, will be the same as last year.  There will be two options.  The standard route which includes the communities of Greenwood and Rosston is approximately 50 miles.  The shorter optional route is smaller loop-within-a-loop that bypasses the two communities (so no services at all) and is roughly 35 miles long.

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 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.

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 sag services. We’ll have a couple of places to stop for restroom, water, or snacks. 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.


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.


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


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.

Any questions?

GAP Tour, Part 4


img_5487Lovely morning in Ohiopyle State Park

img_5556Steve descends a steep one

img_5567img_5558Steve and I went into town for breakfast and spend some time at the river


img_5455img_5566Some of the nicest sections of the trail for us was here


img_5535img_5538img_5554Rivers, hills, and trees filled my senses

img_5569The Rambler performed wonderfully


img_5575img_5497img_5552img_5541Steve and Carey with backlight highlights

img_5441View of Meyersdale from our room



Meet-up with John (@cnyriv) and Andy (@anianph79) for dinner

All the orange-y colored wood in the above photo reminds of the time Titus spent out scrambling in the pumpkin patch…


GAP Tour, Part 3

img_5461Steve cooks on a chilly morning

img_1306img_5464Carey’s morning cheer

img_5532Camp, after the fog lifted

img_5546img_5507Cruising to Connellsville

img_5513Library coffee shop stop

img_5440img_1307img_5572img_5527img_5463Ohiopyle State Park, we camped on the right side near the top

img_5411img_5398Carey works culinary magic with water outdoors.

Like is father above, Titus also plays with water outdoors. Someday soon, he’ll join us on tour.


GAP Tour, Part 2

 We could see the trail from our hotel room

Rusty and me at Big Dog Coffee

 Pittsburgh skyline

   Pre-lunch highlights

 Pedaling, conversing, and wondering how long it takes to get out of the big city

Bridge view

Semi-covered bridge 

 Glamour shot of the Rambler while Carey finishes lunch

 Finally escaped the city, serious touring now

 Post-lunch highlights

 Starting dinner in camp

…and sometime after dinner, but before bedtime, is a good time for story time. Which reminds of that time, just before our tour started, when I shared some story time with my grandson, Titus…