Sunday, January 29, 2006

Texas Winter Trip - The Drive North

January 27-28, 2006
Not much to talk about on the drive home. We had hoped to ride more, but the forecast called for rain on Friday and Saturday (which did happen) so we high-tailed it out of Texas and headed home. We spent the night in Aubrey with my cousin Sharla and her husband Jerry in their new home. Its a nice place in an intentional community outside of Aubrey, TX.

On Friday we drove to KCMO. Stopped in at (1) Broadway coffee and bought several lbs of espresso for redistribution and (2) the Acme Bicycle Company.

On Saturday we drove home, arriving at about 4PM. Along the way we had a great lunch at Cafe Baratta in Des Moines, which was the day's highlight. We will return there whenever we are in Des Moines.

The photo in this post is from Luckenbach, TX.

Texas Winter Trip - Utopia

January 25-26, 2006.
Today is the first day that we didn't use the truck for anything. We did a 50 mile ride out of our door. It was the Utopia-Vanderpool-Leakey loop. Its a challenging ride with two substantial climbs plus a number of other hills.

Our lunch stop was in Leakey at a deli-grocery store next to the hardware store. The food was very good. I had a burrito and the deli manager made Kay a cheese sandwich. After lunch, on FM 1120, we encountered fresh tar which really gunked up our tires. Rocks, grass and everything else just clung to to tires. I had to clear them off on the route and then more substantially when we arrived back at the ranch.

After the ride we ran into John and Jessie, the ranch house owners. John is the quintessential Texas gentleman. Takes off his hat when he greets a woman and is very cordial. We've come to know him a bit by way of our multiple visits to his ranch,. He let us know that the roads are being widened to accommodate bicyclists and growing auto traffic. We even saw two people surveying the low water crossings and taking pictures. John and Jessie have three dachshunds, one had passed away a year ago.

Weather was great, high tempts were in the mid-60s.

On Thursday the 26th we did a 24 mile out-and-back ride to Vanderpool. We needed to drive to Aubrey (North of Dallas) and start heading north.

Texas Winter Trip - Boerne

Tuesday, January 24.
We reluctantly left Austin knowing full well that we are headed to the Red-State part of Texas, which is probably everywhere except Austin. Good food would become a rarity from this point forward, for starters.

Today's ride is from Boerne, a charming little town that is NW of San Antonio. Today's ride is a 66 mile ride that goes to Luckenbach, and this is another ride that we have done in the past. This route has both the best and a little of the worst riding that we've done in Texas. The ride back from Luckenbach goes via Old San Antonio Road and Old Number 9, and it is some of the best cycling that I have encountered out here. Unfortunately, we had to use Highway 87 to get to Boerne. One mile-long segment of Hwy 87 is narrow, busy and fast. The traffic is managed by a traffic light and, if you hit it wrong, you can get a pack of cars to deal with. This was our case. A 4x4 board fell off of a passing truck and slid past us at about 30 mph. Fortunately it didn't flip or it could have been serious trouble. We'll do this route again but we'll need to avoid Highway 87 next time.

The ride started at Britton's Bike Shop, where the shop manager let us park. We stopped by later and bought a pair of gloves and some socks. Post ride dinner was at the Dodging Duck, a Brew Pub on River Drive. Not bad, although its on a lower plane that what we have become accustomed to.

Highlight of the day was seeing an armadillo very close up. He was busy on the side of the road plucking away in the grass and didn't mind that we were circling and taking photos. Perfect weather today... about 70 degrees and sunny.

After the ride we drove to Utopia and McFadin's ranch house, where we are staying for the next two days.

Texas Winter Trip - 2 Days in Austin

January 22-23, 2006.
We drove from Dallas to Austin on Sunday the 22nd. Our accomodations are at the Brava House, a B&B that is walking distance to 6th and Lamar, where Whole Foods corporate offices and flagship store are located. The Whole Foods store is awesome, with several eat-in options within the store. The Bruschetta was great, as was everything else we had.

Our accomodations were very nice, and we'll return the the Brava House. The only room available was the Fitzgerald Suite, which is a two room suite. The sofa pulls out to a bed and the suite could accomodate 4 people, if close proximity isn't an issue.

Monday, January 22 is our first day of riding. First we had to deal with some car trouble that we encountered on this trip. The truck would miss at low idle speeds. We made it to Austin and went to Maxwell Ford. The coil failed, and evidently took out a spark plug as well. The plug wires were also due to be replaced. $722 later we are as good as new. We needed a car, so we rented a minivan for the day.

The ride started in Bastrop, which is about 25 miles east of Austin. The ride is a 46 mile loop that we had done once before. The weather was great, ~60 degrees and partly sunny. A good ride, although FM304 can be a bit busy with traffic. The route goes through Bastrop and Beuscher State Parks, both of which are scenic and hilly. Post ride lunch was at the Green Chai, a vegetarian restaurant in Bastrop. Great food and coffee, we'll return there again.

Texas Winter Trip - The Drive South

January 20-21, 2006.
The lack of sun has got to me this year. Its usually gray and dreary in the upper Midwest in January, but this year I just can't take it. So we headed off to Texas for some riding. On Friday, January 20 we packed the truck and drove south. Got as far as Cameron, MO when we had enough of the ice that the freezing rain left on the roads. I-35 in Iowa had been salted and was dry. Missouri was another story... cars and trucks in the ditch at an increasing rate.

On Saturday morning we stopped in at Broadway Coffee in KCMO. Had an espresso and grabbed an LB of beans for the week. We'll stop back through for a more substantial purchase on the way back. Also stopped to ACME Bicycle Company but couldn't hang out until 10AM when they opened. We will try them again on way back too. We drove to Dallas on the 21st and stayed at the Fairfield Inn near I-635 and Greenville Road. Decent place, we'd stay there again.

Sunday the 22nd was to be our first day of riding. Our plan was to join the Greater Dallas Bicyclists for a group ride, but the rain changed our plans. Instead we toured the 6th Floor Museum, which we both enjoyed.