Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bad Day to Bicycle

It has been a bad week on the bike! Monday I had a flat on the commuter bike as I left the office, but I put the spare tube in and was good to go, but there was a "clicking" noise that I could not identify on the way home, but I finally determined it was a broken spoke...not a big deal, usually. I took the wheel to a bike shop, and the rim was cracked, so I have to purchase a new wheel. My commuter is a very old bike with 27 inch rims, so it is really time to upgrade the front AND rear to 700C rims. Then, tonight, Mrs. Bicycle Bill and I were going to go on our regular evening ride to Palmer and back, and I had a BLOWOUT five miles from home! (Of course it was on the rear wheel.) I put the spare on, and my attempt to air it up with a CO2 cartridge was woefully unsuccessful. I'll never ride without a frame pump again. Mrs. Bicycle Bill rode "like the wind" back home and brought the car while I walked my bike two miles. She would have made it back sooner, but got caught by a train (of course)! Here are the photos of today's so-called "bike ride".

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rambling Around a SMALLER Town....

Today was a beautiful, sunny Spring day, so I packed a light lunch and rode North from Ennis to Palmer. The ride to Palmer is one I do regularly as a short training ride, often accompanied by my wife, Rhonda. I had the day off today and she had to work, so I rode solo. We like this ride because we can go straight out Main street from Ennis, and after crossing FM 879 at Garrett, there is almost no traffic; it is almost like having a designated bike path there is so little traffic!

I stopped at the gazebo that is on main street next to the railroad tracks. Doesn't this look like the perfect spot for a picnic on a Spring day? Tomorrow this will be a rest stop for the Lancaster Country Ride that is sponsored by the Greater Dallas Bicyclist. I rode their 46 mile route a couple of years ago, but will have to miss it again this year because of some other committments. It is a really well managed rally with some great roads through bluebonnet fields if you ever get a chance to participate in it.

I love to see Old Glory paint the breeze, even if she is a little tattered. I've got some friends in Palmer that I'm pretty sure will donate a new flag to replace this one next week.

I carried a light lunch, but I was tempted to leave it on the bike and go to Jenny's Cafe. Jenny's has real good food, and on Friday nights the place is packed with patrons enjoying the food and the live, local entertainment. It's almost like, karoke, but it is a live band that apparently can play just about anything you want to sing. Check it out some Friday night!

Looking East and West down FM 878 or Jefferson Street, one of the main streets through town. This really is small town America.

Just South of the downtown area are these two charming old buildings, the First Baptist Church and the Griffith/Blocker home. The church is very active, and recently built a new building for their child care ministry. Mrs. Frances Ann Blocker lived in this home for years until she passed away a few years ago. I remember Mrs. Blocker as one who was very proud of her community and very interested in its historic preservation.

This is a photo of Wester Insurance and Real Estate. James Wester started this agency many years ago, and now my friend Jerry Wester thinks he runs it. James is still there most every day though, so I figure he is still in charge, but humors Jerry by letting him THINK he runs the agency!

Leaving the Palmer Metropolitan Area, you might be able to tell it is an uphill trip back to Ennis, and against the prevailing Southerly winds. This is where it becomes a training ride more than a joy ride. I averaged 15mph going the 7.5 miles to Palmer, and my average speed when I got home was just over 12mph. You can do the math and figure out how much difference uphill and against the wind make on a bicycle. It is still a lot of fun, though!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

EARLY Morning Ride


Today I decided to get a little exercise on the bike, then ride back home to clean up before the commute in to work. Since it is only about a mile to the office, I can come back home clean up, and then pedal leisurely into the office, fresh as a daisy!
This view looking North on Preston Street reminds me of when I was a kid delivering the Dallas Morning News. Early mornings are generally quiet and peaceful. The amber lights around Ennis are a lot different from what we had in the 60's when I was growing up, but they are softer and helped make the ride more pleasant. One thing I had not thought of before I left the house was the swarms of bugs that flew towards my headlight, and therefore all over me!Well I passed a herd of COWS! Do you know where you would find cows near a nice neighborhood in your hometown?

As I was riding South on Park Street, I passed my first field of bluebonnets. They were not really photo worthy yet, but a real harbinger of Spring. I think by this weekend, a ride to the country will be in order to get some bluebonnet photos.

I was not the only guy out getting exercise in Ennis this morning, if you look closely you can see a man walking on the nice concrete path on top of the dam at the old lake. Another thing I see a lot of these days on my commute to work in the mornings is school buses. Back in the day, the buses only ran for the kids that lived in the country, if you lived within two miles of your school, you went by foot, bike, or private car. I'd love to see more kids walking or biking to school again....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ramblin' Around a BIG town!

Rather than cruise around Ennis this morning, Rhonda and I took her vintage Univega Gran Rally and my Fuji Newest 1.0 about 35 miles North to ride in the Tour Dallas. The Tour Dallas is held about this time every year. We first participated in this rally two years ago, and have looked forward to returning. We rode an easy 20 miles this morning with about 4000 other cyclists. The photo above is the Dallas skyline looking North from City Hall. The skyline has changed a LOT since I worked there in the late '70's!
The rally started from in front of Dallas City Hall, but the closest parking we could find was in front of the Federal Building a few blocks away. It was a little cool before 8 this morning, but Rhonda was dressed for it...we are just about ready to head for the starting line. Here also is a picture of City Hall. Yes, the building does look like it is going to fall on you!
This is the view from the starting line...it looks like a sea of cyclist...but I commented to Rhonda that while there were about 4000 cyclist here, at Wichita Falls there will be about 14,000 for the Hotter N Hell Hundred in August.Our starting position was between City Hall and the Library. This is a picture of the picture that hangs on the side of the library, encouraging use of the facility by children. Aren't you glad we have such a nice library in Ennis that gets so much use by our youth?

The City flags showed how little wind there was this morning, so different from the gales I have been riding in all week. It was a beautiful day for a bike ride...YOU should'a been there!

In the shadow of skyscrapers, the camera flash reflects off of the luminescent cycling gear.Riding one's bicycle with a large group of cyclists with varying degrees of experience requires concentration, at least until the crowd begins to thin out. Rhonda is concentrating on the other cyclists, as well as the road conditions. All of the precipitation and cold winter has caused significant road damage in Ennis as well as Dallas. We saw one of the biggest bike wrecks ever on one of the Dallas bridges two years ago when the cyclist front wheel went into a crack in the road surface, stopping the bike abruptly and sending the cyclist over the handlebars.

This photo is looking across the viaducts towards the Dallas County Jail.

The city architecture blends the old with the new.

Since we only rode 20 miles, we stopped at only one rest stop. Most bicycle rallies have a rest stop about every 10 miles. The Tour Dallas always has plenty of wonderful volunteers serving at the rest stops, and this one was well stocked with water, gatorade, fruit, cookies, trail mix, etc. You meet the nicest people on these rallies also.

These two photos are of "finish line village", back in front of Dallas City Hall where we started. They had delicious pizza for all of the participants, along with other booths to visit and entertainment. Bicyling as a sport and/or hobby is really a pretty inexpensive proposition. Bicycles are really not too expensive if you use them for transportation to replace your automobile for short errands, and going to a rally like this is a lot of fun. Rallies usually cost around $25.00 to enter, and most of them give you a tee shirt, perhaps a water bottle or some other useful souvenier, plus many of them feed you afterwards, not to mention the goodies at the rest stops. Try it...I think you'll like it!