Archive | August, 2010

A Few Rides

22 Aug

Not a lot happening in my two-wheeled world right now, although I have been on a few rides this past week.  They’ve all been short, sweet, and low key, but wait ’til the middle of September!

With the help of Garmin and my air-conditioned Tacoma, last weekend I came up with what I thought was a great 75-mile scooter route for the Austin Scooter Club; and just to be sure, Monday my friend Kami and I did a pre-ride on our non-air-conditioned Vespa and Vino.   While it was a good, enjoyable scooter route, it was way too long to be out on hot asphalt in the summer heat.  Didn’t spend time sightseeing and taking pictures, but did have a nice brunch at Ramos Mexican Restaurant and Discoteca in Manor.  Now it’s back to the map-making drawing board to cut down the mileage.

   

Wednesday I rode Lizzie out to Marble Falls to get some more practice with the GoPro video camera.  Of course, I had to stop at the quintessential small-town Bluebonnet Cafe for an eggs-and-pancakes breakfast.  This place has good food, great pie, and the parking lot is always full of motorcycles on weekends.  Notice the “Pie Happy Hour” sign on the far left side of the building in the first picture. 

Since I was already out that way anyhow, I decided to check on the “blooms” on that prickly pear cactus I talked about in the last post.  Found the location and exact cactus and discovered several of the “blooms” had been eaten and the leftovers were full of seeds.  I’m embarrassed to say it finally dawned on me that those weren’t blooms at all, but fruit.  Doh!   For today’s school lesson, this link is interesting if you like that sort of thing.    By the way, the fruit is called “tuna” in Mexico.  Huh?

These guys know how to deal with the heat!  What I want to know is, how do they deal with those pointy things stuck to their heads?

Here are the results of my video practice.  Each time I take the video I learn something new, and each time I put it all together with the editing software I learn something new.  It’s getting there.

Marble Falls Video

This morning Desha, Wendy, Holly (leading her first group ride), and I rode out for an early-morning breakfast at the Wimberly Cafe in Wimberly.  Of course, the one time I didn’t get everything ready to go the night before,  I woke up late and forgot the helmet attachment for the video camera.   So much for trying the video on a group ride.   However, I did find a two-headed turtle on the square outside the cafe!

Back home in Austin, I stopped at a gas station to fill up so it will be ready to go on the next ride.   After the fillup, wouldn’t you know, Lizzie’s battery was d-e-a-d, dead.  Happens a lot in this kind of heat.  My friends Lynda and Dave, who live nearby, quickly came to the rescue with a jump start and Lizzie was safely home in no time.   Besides being lucky to have friends that will drop everything to help out, it’s lucky the battery went dead today and not, for instance, on a ride in the middle of September!

Peace on the Road!

BT

Test Ride

12 Aug

Yesterday I went for a short ride to enjoy the beginning-to-fade-green landscape and test a helmet mount for my GoPro video camera.   I say “short ride” because right now it’s way too hot to stay out past noon without wilting.  Did a simple out-and-back on the ole standby ride, Hamilton Pool Road and Old Spicewood Road.  It’s nice to know there are still places like this close to Austin, although we’re losing most of the open range to fences. 

There isn’t much to talk about since the ride only lasted a few hours.  However, there was one exciting moment.  Rounding a curve, Lizzie’s front wheel came dangerously close to hitting a long, dark rat snake that was stretched across the road sunning itself, but it slithered off in the nick of time.  Watch out, rats!

Here is a prickly pear cactus that’s about to bloom on meandering Old Spicewood Road.  Remind me to get out there next week to check on those blooms!  Sounds like a good reason for a ride, don’t you think?

This shows the new helmet-mount setup for the GoPro.   It’s a bit odd having it up there where I don’t know what’s going on, and you can see where I’ve zip-tied the casing shut and attached a tether — just in case.  Having to feel around through a glove to work the controls is actually easier than I thought it would be.

Here are a few excerpts from the ride.  The first low-water crossing is the Pedernales (“Per-den-al-es”) River, which is obviously suffering from the lack of rain.  You can see this is taken west of Austin at the edge of the Hill Country, as opposed to the flat blackland prairie to the east, shown in last week’s scooter ride.  This setup gives the camera a soft human-sized cushion for absorbing vibration, and you can see that cushion did a pretty good job of keeping it smooth even while crossing a cattle guard!  (If you have trouble playing the video, click on “HD” on the bottom bar to turn off high definition.)

Test Ride Video

I’m sorry to say that’s the best I’ve got for you right now, which isn’t much.  This month might be a little short on content thanks to the heat, but just you wait ’til the middle of September!

Peace on the Road!

BT

P.S.  Hot off the press. . . New England Part Two in the right sidebar!

Hot Scoots!

6 Aug

Remember The Best Kept Secret from a few weeks ago where I did a pre-ride?  Well, the official Austin Scooter Club ride was last Sunday and, in spite of the forecasted hundred-degree temps, 16 die-hard people on 14 scooters showed up at Thunderbird Coffee for 80 miles of hot scooter fun.  

Fortunately, we left early enough that there wasn’t much traffic.  With the help of Desha, a pair of Scala communicators, and a cohesive group of riders, we managed to get all 14 scooters out of Austin without losing anyone at a red light.   There was still plenty of green scenery, which is unusual for this time of year, and the cotton and sorghum fields are coming along nicely.  I gotta tell you, though, speaking as someone who grew up in Iowa, every summer I wonder what the farmers are thinking when they plant corn down here.   No offense.  I’m just wonderin’. . . and sayin’. . . .

Here we are at the New Sweden Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is supposed to be “the most photographed church in Texas.”  That 104-foot steeple is truly impressive.  We pulled up right about the same time people began arriving for services and I was feeling a little underdressed — until a group of sweaty bicyclists stopped at the front.  Guess the congregation is used to that sort of thing by now.

After a pleasant country ride, next stop on the agenda was to grab a cold drink in Coupland and ride up the hill to the Huntington Sculpture Foundation grounds.  As usual, the sculptor, Jim Huntington, was working, but more than willing to talk.  Born in 1941, he grew up drawing WWII airplanes and knew he wanted to be an artist by the time he was three years old.  He started out as a painter and didn’t begin working with stone until the seventies.  I’ll guess I’ve had five separate conversations with Jim, and each time I gain a little more insight into what it means to be a true artist.  What a fascinating man, unconditionally devoted to his art.

Most everyone appreciated the gardens and would like to have stayed longer, but our faces were red and it was good to get going and feel some breeze.  Here is a short video showing a little bit of the ride into Elgin, although I accidentally deleted (Doh!) the section I really wanted you to see!  If your computer doesn’t play high definition, move your cursor to the  upper right-hand corner of the large black square.  Click on the “HD is on” to turn the high definition off, and it should work for you.  This middle-aged, non-digital brain has spent many hours figuring out bit rates and codecs, blah, blah, and I think you’ll see a major improvement in the video quality.  Now I can relax and go have some fun with it!

So you’d think by the time we’d all eaten our fill at Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse and the temperature was rising to miserable, that everyone would be ready to go home, but not this bunch.  After a scenic ride past Decker Lake and into Austin, about half of us stopped at Las Delicias Paleteria Y Neveria for some south-of-the-border frozen deserts, including Mexican ice cream, every type of fruit bar you can imagine, chocolate-covered frozen strawberry bars, and chocolate-covered bananas on a stick.  Refreshing!  Didn’t try the ice cream since I’m lactose intolerant, but the other deserts are made from real fruit – unlike heavy, sugary-sweet, fake-flavored American popsicles.  Each time I stop here I wonder why I don’t do it more often, and I’ll definitely be coming back soon for another pineapple aguas frescas.  Mmmmm, good.

About three o’clock when the temp was hitting 102, we all reluctantly faced the fact that we’d have to brave the heat one more time for the hot scoot home and said our good-byes.  Another scooterrific ride with the ASC!

Peace on the Road!

BT

P.S.  Check out Biketrash Holiday New England Part One now showing in the right sidebar!

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