Category Archives: Rides

Ready or not for the LBJ 100

Life’s been a bit hectic for me lately as I’m trying to launch a couple of ideas, so my blog has suffered, although not as much as I did yesterday.  Last year I decided to try the LBJ 100 Tour on a whim.  I’d driven by the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall Texas a number of times on my way to Fredricksburg.  Each time I told myself I’d be back some day to take a tour of the ranch.  LBJ’s legacy is hard to escape when you’re living in Central Texas.  Each Spring, the Bluebonnets and other wildflowers are a constant reminder of Lady Bird Johnson’s impact along the Texas highways.  It’s a spectacular bouquet of colors that you have to see to believe.  We don’t really have Fall colors where I live, but we do have wildflowers in Spring.

So, I figured why not combine one of my favorite things to do (cycling) with one of my other favorite interests (history).  It’s also one of the first century rides available and a challenging one at that.  Last year, I really struggled on the back stretch between Sandy and the Ranch.  I’d skipped the rest stop at Sandy because they were out of water and I still had one bottle left.  It was only 13 miles to the next rest stop so I figured how bad could it be.  I was wrong.  It was uphill most of the way from what has to be the lowest part of the ride to the highest part of the ride.  Leading up to that section you were pretty much coasting downhill for quite a ways.  Then there was the wind.  I struggled to stretch my water those 13 miles and started cramping as I rolled into the last rest stop where some kind woman recommended some Pickle Juice.  It tasted awful, but worked like a charm.  Within a minute or two my cramps were gone…magic stuff.  I now bring some along on every century ride.

This year, I’m in much better shape so I figured I was better prepared and it would be an easier ride.  I prepared my things the night before and even cleaned my bike, so I was ready…or was I?  The morning started off rather uneventful with a stop at my local Starbucks and a nice easy drive to Stonewall, where I arrived about an hour before the ride.  I started to get ready to ride and realized I didn’t have my helmet.  I’d put it right by my front door so I wouldn’t forget it.  Unfortunately, all my other stuff was elsewhere so I walked right by it on my way out the door.  Riding without a helmet is not something I like to do and it’s suicide on a ride with over 1000 other riders.  This year’s ride must have had over 1500 riders, many of whom are not very experienced riding in large groups closely bunched together.

Thanks goodness for Bike World San Antonio

So I was off to find a helmet.  Lucky for me my friends at Bike World San Antonio arrived with just one helmet.  It wasn’t exactly my size, but it fit enough to protect my head.  A guy I’d parked next to also forgot his helmet.  He’d thought about not riding until his wife located one for him to wear.  When I got back to my car, he was already there resting.  He got up to walk around a bit and I noticed his face, shoulder and knees were pretty banged up.  He accidentally clipped a wheel of another rider and landed face first in the road.  One of my other friends actually saw it happen.  He lost two of is front teeth.  It reminded me of my own wreck a few months ago.  My face still feels numb from that accident, but all my teeth are still me.  Good thing he was wearing a helmet.

I started the ride with one of my ride buddies who is a much better climber than me.  We ride pretty evenly even though I tend to lag behind on hills.  I do manage to catch up on the downhill sections and sometimes pull him along on windy flat sections.  I experienced chain suck on one of the first longer hills and had to get off the bike to get my chain back on (time to adjust the front derailleur).   By then he was gone.  We’d started out at a pretty good pace and I hadn’t been on my bike in 2 weeks so my heart rate was higher than I wanted.  I rode on and off with a group of people.  The long uphill stretch was still pretty tough and I struggled to maintain a decent pace.  This time I did stop at the Sandy rest stop as well as the one they added a little more than half way between it and the last rest stop, mainly to fill my water bottle.  I skipped the last stop and powered in from there.  I picked up a group of riders that passed me on the uphill stretch as I got my second wind and cruised in at a little over 20 Mph.  Overall, I averaged 17 Mph, which was much better than last year’s 15 Mph, but it didn’t feel that way.  It was still fun and the scenery is spectacular.  It’s a very well supported ride and it’s just cool to ride around on the LBJ Ranch with all its reminders about arguably one of the most tumultuous times in American history.  This is one of those must-do rides.  If you do it, consider an overnight in Fredricksburg, it’s only 20 minutes away.  Don’t forget to stop at the Becker Vineyards and try some of their excellent wine.

Stats for the LBJ 100 Tour.

The cool gear channel

You won’t find it on the array of channels offered by your local cable company. If you’re a regular reader or follow me on twitter/facebook you know I spend a fair amount of time on my bike, much of it riding solo.  It’s not that I’m anti-social or don’t like riding with others, it just works out that way.  It’s hard to find a group of riding buddies that ride at exactly the same pace as you do and have exactly the same training needs or goals.  Even when I ride with a group, we often ride at apart for a portion of the ride.  The larger the group, the more likely it is that I’ll find someone who rides at my pace, or reasonably close to it.  That’s one of the reasons I like organized rides.   Other reasons include seeing friends I don’t get to ride with very often, meeting new friends and getting the opportunity to check out the gear other cyclists use.  The last reason is pretty important because there are many options for cyclists and limited local channels where you can find gear.  This isn’t a knock on the local bike shop (I’m a huge fan), it’s simply a matter of economics.  The shops can really only afford to stock items that most people will buy, which limits the number of specialty items they can carry.

The internet has created the channel for these specialty items.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine how a product will work on your bike by just looking at a picture.  Sure, Youtube videos have enhanced the ability of the makers of specialty items to demonstrate their wares, but there’s never a substitute for being able to see the product up close or, better yet, see  it being used on the road by a cyclist.  That’s where a large organized ride provides vendors and riders to experience these specialty products first hand.  There’s lots of time to check stuff out as you’re riding in a group for miles and miles and miles.  Sure, the scenery is nice, but after a while, your mind wanders and that’s when I use this time to see what gear others are using.  Here’s a couple of things I saw on the Austin Cycle Camp / Bicycle Sportshop Resolution Ride a few days ago.

Tim and I at the start of the Resolution Ride

It should no secret that I like unique and somewhat outlandish jerseys, after all, many of my cycling friends find me wearing a jersey that looks like something from the movie Close Encounters of the 3rd kind.  But that’s exactly the point. Unless you’re part of a team, why wear the same jersey or kit everyone else has? It’s important to me that my jersey is easily visible and that it stands out.  I ran into my twitter friend Tim and he was sporting his Test Dummy jersey.  I love this jersey.  I can also relate to the sense of humor that resulted in him getting this jersey.  We both recently experienced crashes that required a visit to the emergency room.  However, this jersey is probably more appropriate for my youngest son, who’s got preprinted forms at the local ER.

Velovie Vitesse SE

On the ride I spent a fair amount of time riding behind a bike I’d never seen before.  While many bikes look alike to most folks, I’ve come to appreciate their subtle differences and this one caught my eye.  It was a Velovie Vitesse and I’d never seen one of these before.  I asked the rider about their bike and she described it as a Cervelo competitor.  I’ve always thought Cervelo bikes were cool, but some of that probably had  to do with the fact that their designer’s name, Gerard Vroomen, just makes them sound fast.  Anyway, I checked out Velovie and found out that they only sell their bikes online.  In fact, they have a rather interesting program where you can purchase a previously owned Velovie at a discounted price to make it more reasonable to try one of their bikes.  These bikes are all less than 2 years old and are often bikes that other Velovie owners have traded in for different Velovie models.  I like this concept because it’s a smart business decision.  It allows the company to build up brand loyalty and differentiate themselves.  It works because the rider I spoke with was very passionate about how much she liked her ride.  Although it sounds French, Velovie is a US company based in Arizona.

The Italian Road Bike Mirror

On the way back from Andice, I rode with a group of riders for a few miles until they dropped me.  I like to ride fast, but this group kicked it into another gear about 5 miles in and I decided I wasn’t willing to hurt myself to hang with them. It’s always a bit unnerving to ride in a tight bunch at speed when we’re 3 or 4 abreast.  One thing I’d noticed on the way out was that the group tended to decelerate rapidly at the base of every climb.  If you’re not paying attention, this can be a disaster because invariably, someone will clip a wheel and all of a sudden it’s mass carnage.  Sure enough, this happened just after we passed FM 3405 on our way back.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Shortly thereafter I passed a rider who had one of these mirrors that was apparently part of his handlebars.  I slowed to ask him about it and he told me it was The Italian Road Bike Mirror.  What’s cool about this mirror is that its barely larger than your bar end and doesn’t get in the way.  Yet it provides you critical visibility to what’s in your blind spot on that side of the bike.  This is crucial when there’s a crash in the group you’re riding with because you won’t have time to turn around to see if you have room to go left or right.  That’s why you often see a bunch of riders go down in a race after one of them falls.  The results are never pretty.  I really like this product and will probably get one.  I thought I’d wait until I need some new bar tape because you have to wrap your bar tape around the mirror to fasten it to your handlebars.  Very cool!

I think if I owned a local bike shop, I’d give riders an opportunity to suggest products they liked on a ride that I sponsored.  What a great opportunity to find out what my prospective customers would buy.

Have you found an cool gear on any of your rides that you’d like to share?  Let me know.

P.S.  Thanks Ray for that great picture you snapped of Tim & I.

Do you ride or drive to your ride start?

I once again met up with one of my regular ride groups on Saturday.  The ride start was a little over 5 miles from my house and it’s a pretty easy ride over there, so I rode my bike there.  The reality is that I feel a little silly driving somewhere to then ride my bike, especially if it’s close.  Why waste quality bike time?  Besides, I love finishing my cup of coffee and rolling out of my driveway on my bike.

I do have some criteria about making the decision to drive or ride.  Generally, if it’s 10 miles or less to the start, I’ll consider riding.  I won’t ride if it’s dark.  I’ve done that once or twice and I usually end up riding too fast and pay for it later in the ride.  It’s hard for me to gauge my effort level when I can’t see the readout for my heart rate monitor.  The other thing I worry about is the limited visibility.  When you ride to the start of a ride, you always run the risk of a mechanical issue, such as a flat tire and that’s harder to do when you can’t really see what’s in the road.  Then you keep your whole ride group waiting even before they start their ride.  I never want to be that guy, you know the one that shows up and even before getting out of the gate, has mechanical issues.

People are always surprised when I tell them I rode my bike to the start of a ride.  Most of the time, I think it’s because they can’t really picture a route that gets them there safely.  I consider myself fortunate because I have lots of options when I roll out of my driveway.  I know there’s a few readers out there who live in my town, so I thought I’d post some links to some of my regular routes that I can take right from my neighborhood.

I have similar options from the office where I work because my office is located right along a designated bike route in Austin, TX.   So, next time you’re heading out to your ride, ask yourself if there’s a way to get there on your bike.  You’ll get a little extra quality bike time and you’ll get an opportunity to warm up at your pace.

Favorite Shop Ride

Today I participated in the Jack & Adam’s Steiner Steakhouse shop ride for the second time.  I’d done this ride once before back in September.  I found this ride through the Austin Cycling Meetup group I had joined a few months back.   The plan was for our group to meetup about 15 minutes before the start of the ride.  The weather was nice enough so I decided to ride my bike to Steiner Steakhouse along Bullock Hollow Road.  Last time, I took a right on Oasis Bluff.  This time I decided to straight up Bullock Hollow Road.  Let me tell you, it may not be as steep, but it’s actually harder.  It was all I could do to keep my pedals moving.  I arrived at Steiner Steakhouse right at 8:15 after traveling about 10 miles.

I immediately spotted my friend Allison who’s also our meetup organizer.  She does a good job making sure those who RSVP’d for our meetup actually meet one another and today was no exception.  I ran into a few people I knew from previous meetups as well as one of my regular riding partners, Robert.  The shop ride has 2 options, a no-drop 15 mile ride for beginners and a 30 mile ride that is split into intermediate and advanced riders.  Robert and I decided to take off with the advanced group.  I fell behind climbing the big hill at the Crystal Falls Country Club, but managed to catch up to a few of the stragglers from my group just as we turned back onto Lakeline Blvd.  I stopped there to detach the sleeves from my convertible wind jacket and let my wife know where I was on the route. I managed to catch a few of the stragglers from my group before getting back to Steiner Steakhouse.  I ended up riding a total of 42 miles with a few decent hills in there, bringing my weekly total to 219 miles.  This is the most I’ve ridden in quite some time and I could really feel it in my legs.  I’m going to have to pay closer attention to how I train to get myself in better shape.

The best part of this ride is the discounted brunch at Steiner Steakhouse afterwards and the plan was to have my wife meet me there after the ride for some of their delicious pancakes.  If you’ve not been there, they have excellent food and a killer patio.  It was fun chatting with my ride buddies.  I’d been to Steiner Steakhouse for dinner and our meal excellent then as well.  But, brunch on the patio with that view on a cold clear day made for a relaxing time.  The best part is getting your bill and realizing it’s cheaper than McDonald’s.  Awesome!

My wife wants to try the 15 mile route one of these days, but it was pretty cold this morning so we’ll probably wait for warmer weather, but this ride will be on our calendar from now on.  If you’re looking for a social ride with an opportunity to relax with new friends you made on the ride, I highly recommend this shop ride.

I have lots to be thankful for

Earlier this week I attended an engagement party for a close family friend and his new fiancée.  As toasts were made, I couldn’t help but think about the new chapter in his life that was about to begin.  Lots of good times ahead for them.  I got up early yesterday to go for a long solo ride.  I enjoy these rides because it gives me time to reflect on what’s happening in my life.  I again thought about that moment on Tuesday evening and remembered my own new chapter that began about 18 years ago.  Thanksgiving week began with the birth of our first son.  It wasn’t an easy time for my wife, but she still managed to pull together our first Thanksgiving in at our home, with the help of her mom and a cousin.  I was still on cloud 9 after the arrival of our new family member, Erik.  I was so proud and I still am.

Now Erik is 18 and finishing up his last year in high school.  Someone once told me that my job as a dad was to create memories, so that’s what I did.  Sometimes life gets pretty busy so once in a while it’s good for the soul to think back and remember those times.  But we shouldn’t just limit our reflection to the week of Thanksgiving or even the holidays in general.  Sometimes I do this when I’m out riding my bike and yesterday was one of those days.  It was a pretty windy day, but I was lost in my thought and hardly even noticed.  I thought about the various chapters in my life and how I felt at the time.  So many experiences, some bad, but mostly good ones.  Somehow the bad experiences always seem inconsequential when I look back at them.  Then I wonder how many more chapters there will be and what they will be about.

I feel especially thankful to be riding my bike again.  As I mentioned earlier, I started riding again for health reasons.  My weight had ballooned and my blood pressure was getting pretty high, something had to change.  I was making good progress until about 6 months ago and even bought a new (to me) bike.  6 months ago I was lying in a hospital bed fighting an infection after my emergency hernia surgery.  I knew things weren’t going well and if the infection didn’t get better, my doctor would have to go back in and find the problem…not good.  Fortunately, they gave me some stronger antibiotics and soon I was back at home.  My recover was slow and painful, but after about 6 weeks I was finally able to get back on the bike.  My core was a mess and I knew I had to take it easy.  Then, just as I was making good progress I had a bad crash.  I wasn’t sure how soon I’d recover from that, but I did.  I still get spooked bombing down hills where it’s difficult to see the road contour, but I keep doing it so I once again can put that bad experience behind me and keep riding.

That’s why I got up before dark this morning and headed down to the Veloway to ride with the folks from Austin Cycle Camp on their Cranksgiving Ride.  It was a ride just for fun and today we were doing paceline laps at the end of Mopac, each lap faster than the previous one.  I hung with the lead group for a little while, but got dropped about 1/3 of the way into the last lap.  I tried to catch up for another mile or two, but they turned on the afterburners and were soon gone.  I still managed a good ride and great workout with a fun group of riders.  Then it was time to head home to spend the rest of the day with my family.

On the way back, I began to think about what I was thankful for and decided to spend a few moments writing it down.  First, I’m very thankful for my wife.  We’ve been married almost 20 years and I can’t imagine life without her.  I’m also thankful for my boys, who have taught me a lot over the years (shhh, don’t tell them).  I’m especially thankful that my youngest son is still with us after his near fatal accident on a school playground. I’m also blessed with wonderful friends who are constantly coming in and out of my life.  We often gather at my weekend home on Lake Buchanan in an ever widening circle for happy hour.  Lots of smiles and lots of laughter along with unforgettable sunsets.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I’m also glad to have met so many wonderful people who all have one thing in common, they love to ride bikes.  This year I made a concerted effort to get to know some of the riders I share the road with and have made some fun new friends.  Finally, I’m just glad to be able to ride.  I hope to be doing a it a very long time.  I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences with my wife, who’s finally starting to ride and liking it.  So with that, starts yet another chapter in my life.  It’s all good and certainly deserves thanks.

A bit more of a ramble than usual…what are you thankful for?   Spend a few minutes thinking about it every once in a while.  Life’s too short to not appreciate all the good things.  Better yet, write it down…it’ll make you think about it.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I hope all of you get to spend it with those who mean the most to you.

Favorite Fall Rides

Fall arrives a little later in Central Texas than other places in the country, but it’s finally here.  We had our first cold front that actually brought cold, dry air into our area.  This means the mornings can be quite chilly, but it usually warms up during the day.  It’s not unusual to have 30, 40 or even 50 degree temperature swings.  This also makes it a challenge to dress for cycling because you don’t want to be too cold, but you really don’t want to be wearing a lot of extra clothes or have to bring them with you on longer weekend rides.

Fall also means it’s time for one of my favorite rides, the Wurst Ride.  This ride starts in South Austin and takes you through Gruene into New Braunfels.  The Wurst Ride also coincides with Wurstfest, which is a celebration of sausage in New Braunfels, Texas.  New Braunfels is one of a few towns in Texas founded by German settlers back in the mid 1800s.    Another, Fredricksburg, was actually settled by one of my ancestors.   Like many organized bike rides, the Wurst Ride is also a benefit ride, but I think most folks come out because it ends  in a beer garden where they serve you never ending sausage, brats and beer.  They also have some pretty good live music and it’s fun to catch up with friends on the ride.  Somehow, I never make it to Wurstfest even though I got a ticket in my packet.  Next year I plan to spend the night and actually go to the festival.  My friends who have gone describe a party that sounds a lot like Octoberfest in southern Germany.  I still had a great time and the weather was perfect.

Today I decided to ride from my house out to a tiny town called Andice.  There’s not a lot to Andice except for the Andice General Store.  This store also cooks a mean burger, or so I’m told.  Inside is a rustic atmosphere that matches the exterior facade.  The ride out to Andice is enjoyable as well.  You have nice wide shoulders where you can easily ride side-by-side with a fellow rider.  The route gets quite scenic as well once you get past FM 2243.   The weather was much like yesterday.  I waited until 9:30 and by then the temperature had already risen to the mid 50s.

Next weekend is Tour Das Hugel.  I think I’m going to give it a try but I’m still not sure I will make it.

Pflugerville

Today I headed out to Lake Pflugerville to ride with some friends from the Austin Cycling Meetup group for a 30 mile ride through the East Texas farm country.  Lake Pflugerville is a popular meeting place for a number of different ride groups, runners and triathletes.   I’d been out there several times previously for a Tuesday evening Austin Cycling Association ride, so I was familiar with the route.  Today we did it in the reverse direction from the way we did it on Tuesday evenings, so I was glad our ride leader brought along extra maps.

When I got my Lemond road bike 13 years ago, I would sometimes head out to Pflugerville to ride.  Back then, we would head out from Pfluger Park near downtown Pflugerville (if you can say a town of 1800 has a downtown) and ride through what was then farmland.  Now it’s subdivision after subdivision, clear signs of Austin’s explosive growth over the last 20 years.  Even so, there’s still plenty of farmland left and that’s a good thing.  It’s always nice to ride with a group down these roads because there are virtually no cars.  You have plenty of opportunities to ride side by side (usually no more than 2 abreast) and chat with your fellow riders.

There’s also plenty of unique sights along the way.  One of them is the New Sweden Church.  This church is visible for miles because it sits on top of a slight rise in the middle of farmland.  Anyone who’s ridden one of the many Pflugerville rides will immediately recognize this church.  I stopped just long enough to snap this photo.  We also saw lots of horses as well as some rather interesting horned animals whose species I couldn’t identify.  Some of the roads can get a little rough because the prevailing method of paving out here is chip and seal.  One particular road had a narrow smooth track about 1 car tire width.  I joked with one of my riding partners that it was a single track road.  Overall, it was a peaceful ride.  Wind usually a factor out here and today was no different.  We estimated it at about 18 Mph or so.  If you’re interested in trying this route, here’s the route map.   Chances are, if you just bring your bike to the Lake Pflugerville parking lot, there’s a group of riders leaving from there.  Bring plenty of water, there’s virtually no place to stop for refills.

LIVESTRONG Challenge Highlights

As I’d mentioned previously, I really wanted to do the LIVESTRONG Challenge, but felt that my health issues over the summer might preclude me from participating.  Thanks to the great support of my friends I raised $500 in a very short period of time and was ready to ride.  When I signed up for the challenge, I joined the Austin Cycling Meetup team because I’d ridden with a few of their members previously.  Three of us were going to ride the 90 mile route and we had arranged to meet at the start.

I made some last minute adjustments to my bike the night before and was ready to roll.  I woke up early that morning, which is pretty typical for me.  It always seems that I can’t sleep well the night before a big ride.  I don’t know if it’s the anticipation of the ride or thinking about the mental checklist I had made so I wouldn’t forget anything.  Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up for an organized ride without a critical piece of equipment.  I stopped by my local Starbucks on the way out for my usual large latte and some banana bread.  I feel like Norm from Cheers when I walk in there because everyone knows my name as well as what I will order, but that’s a subject for another day.  I ordered an extra shot because I knew I was going to have to keep up with Darryl, with whom I was riding for the first time.

Traffic was pretty light at 6 in the morning…until I got to Dripping Springs.  While they did have the traffic flow pretty well organized and police officers channeling traffic, it was still a circus.  It reminded me of a family vacation we took where we visited my folks in Sarreguemines, France back in 1997.  We were over there during the Tour de France so I suggested we head down to Colmar, which wasn’t too far from where my parents lived.  That year, Jan Ulrich was the heavy favorite to win and he grew up not to far from Colmar, across the border in Germany.  Colmar is a historic town whose normal population is about 65,000 people.  This day what seemed to be over a million people descended upon this town.  You couldn’t even drive near the town because they had all the roads blocked off.  Instead, you were directed to a large field that was filled with cars as far as the eye could see.  Hundreds of buses shuttled fans from the parking lot into Colmar.  There weren’t quite that many people in Dripping Springs that morning, but the atmosphere was very similar.

After parking and getting my bike assembled, I headed to the start.  I managed to squeeze through the 1000s of cyclists to find my ride mates.  Over 3,100 cyclists were participating and we had raised over 3.1 million dollars for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  They even had Patrick Dempsey there.  After the announcers whipped the crowd into a frenzy (well, ok, maybe not quite like that, but we were all pretty pumped), we were on our way.

I managed to hang with Darryl and Robert for about the first 30 miles.  I was struggling  a bit to keep up with them as we started into the hillier section of the course because as you can see, they are about 1/2 my size.  I would always catch them on the downhill sections because that’s where I have blazing speed.  As they say, “what gravity giveth, gravity taketh away.”  We stopped at a rest stop to regroup and wait for a few other members of the group that had fallen even further behind.  They finally arrived and told us to go on without them.

Darryl, Robert and I rode together for a little while longer before they dropped me for good.  I decided to ride my own pace so I wouldn’t burn myself out later in the ride.  Before we separated, we passed a couple of guys riding with prosthetic legs.  It was quite remarkable actually.  They were able to pedal using both pedals.  I never did learn their story, but felt inspired after that.  If they could ride that far, how lucky was I?  I realized that I was quite fortunate to be able to get on my bike whenever I wanted and ride.   Now, whenever I’m wavering about riding, I’ll think back to those two riders and realize that I really have no excuse not to get on the bike.  It makes me appreciate that I can still do this that much more.  As a cyclist, you’re always searching for motivation that you can use when the going gets tough, when you need to summon your inner Jens.  There were lots of ride highlights and it was fun spending time with friends on the bike, but seeing those two cyclists was definitely the highlight of my ride.

One of my favorite routes

Last time I wrote about routes that are surprisingly rural in an urban area.    These are often special treats for me because it allows me to escape from the Austin traffic.  As I’ve mentioned before, I always enjoy getting out on my bike because it gives me time to think and clear my head.  Sometimes I don’t even notice where I’m riding because I’m lost in my thoughts.  But not today.

I left my house and headed through a couple of neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods all used to be part of rather large ranch that ran down to Lake Travis.  Now the cattle and pastures have been replaced by homes, a country club and the high school my kids attend.  I don’t really have to go all that far to get away from all of this.

The majority of today’s route takes me down FM 2769 and Lime Creek Road. It’s a little over 19 miles in total.  These roads are narrow two lane with a few hills and lots of twists and turns as they run along the shores of Lake Travis.  In spite of Austin’s tremendous growth over the 25 years I’ve lived here, this are has changed very little.  There are a few more homes along this route, but it’s still not very populated.  In a lot of ways, it’s like Spicewood Springs Road between Loop 360 and Research Boulevard.  There’s less traffic along this route as well since the City of Cedar Park completed their portion of the Anderson Mill Road extension.  All of this makes it an ideal bike route.

There’s one rather steep and long hill along this route that is guaranteed to take your breath away.  This hill is always a challenge for me because it’s so steep that if I sit in my saddle, my front wheel lifts off the ground, so I pretty much have to stand up all the way up the hill  It’s about a 1/2 mile and an elevation gain of 300 feet or so. This is also part of the route used by the US Postal Service Racing team during their winter training sessions.  In fact, one year after Lance Armstrong had won his first Tour de France victory someone actually spray painted the names of each member of the team on this hill.

The power of social networking

I posted a question to my facebook friends asking if I could get enough support between now and the end of next week to qualify for the LIVESTRONG challenge.  Based on the overwhelmingly positive response I got, I signed up for the 90 mile route.  A few of my friends are doing this route and I’m looking forward to riding for a good cause.  It makes you appreciate the opportunity to get out and ride.  I always feel better when someone else benefits from my efforts.  At the time of this posting I’m a bit over half way to my fundraising goals thanks to my awesome friends.

My life has been touched by cancer in a few different ways.  While I was still in high school, my mom actually did cancer research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.   When my youngest son was just a year old he had to be hospitalized with pneumonia.  He ended up on a wing of Brackenridge with many young cancer patients.  My wife and I were deeply moved by this experience. When Lance was first diagnosed with cancer, a group of my friends and I rode the first Ride for the Roses.  Within the last 12 years, two people very dear to me succumbed to this disease.  It was very difficult to watch them suffer.

So, here’s your chance to help fight this terrible disease.  Lots of progress has already been made, but there’s still work to do.  If you can, please help out by donating whatever you’re comfortable with here.  There’s also a link on the right hand side of this screen.  Thanks for reading this and following my blog.