Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Belated Weekend Report

For once I feel like I had an incredibly productive weekend.

I went out with Mom on both days and did a lot of clothes and shoe shopping both for Vegas and to cope with the Texas summer heat. I picked up a couple of pairs of sandles and lots of capris and sleeveless shirts.

I've been wanting to repot the peace lily I keep at work, so we went into the newly opened Lowes to see if they had any cute pots. Silly me...I just can't seem to get out of a hardware/garden store without a new houseplant.

Didn't get any riding in, but did a bunch of work on my bike. I installed the new stuff from Cyclegadgets. The Kisan headlight modulator is giving me trouble, and I'm expecting a call back from the great guys at Kisan Tech this morning. BMW seems to be keeping them on their toes as far as Canbus and pin-out wiring changes.

As a last proof of my productivity for the weekend, the BMW got it's first ever wash. Yup, first wash at just over 6000 miles. Yeah, I'm bad. Mom shamed me into washing *Big Green Truckly* too. The she pulled the Mini out of the garage and made me help her wash it. Not that it actually needed it.

I'm flying out to Vegas tomorrow afternoon. Watch this space for pics and reports!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Farkle Time!

It's been a while since I bought anything for my bike, but I've been doing a whole lotta commuting lately, and feeling slightly naked. My YZF had all sorts of safety oriented gadgets installed and I just haven't managed to get it together to order them for the ST.

I got onto cyclegadgets and ordered a Kisan Headlight Modulator, reflective tape to make my saddlebags go nuclear at night, a medical information pouch that sticks to your helmet (+1 for dad), and a Formotion thermometer. I also need to take the time to install the hyperlights (blinky red led strips) that I pulled off the Yzf before selling it.

Woohoo! Blinky shiny bike. Well, *ominous voice* SOON, anyway.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Marble Falls Ride

A few weeks ago, when I rode out with Scratch and the Inks Lake camping crew, they all told me that I was turning back “just before the good stuff.”

Well, that’s been weighing pretty heavily on my mind, so I resolved to get out there and check out the alleged “good stuff.” Yesterday I found myself with no planned group rides and my parents gave me a pass to go have fun while dad recuperated from his week in New York on business.

I’ve had this route planned for a few weeks, so I loaded it onto the GPS Friday night and got up early on Saturday morning to belt out a nice 500 mile day including such local celebrity roads as Lime Creek, 1431, and Bee Creek.

I started by heading up 290 to 362 to Navasota. With the plan of doing scenic 390, the La Bahia highway, I took some less-traveled connector roads where I found this little guy in a field. There was a life-size faux giraffe in the next field over, but I was too busy gaping at it and trying to decide if it was real or fake when I rolled past it.

390 was pretty and nicely twisty. It felt good to finally be getting out on my own. It’s fun to ride with other people and socialize during stops, but sometimes I just like to be able to not stress and ride my own pace. I like to stop in the middle of the road and dig out my camera when I see a good shot. You really can’t do that in a group ride. They start sending out rescue squads. It also can annoy the person behind if you are mid-group.

Here’s one that caught my eye at some point. I think it was on 390.

I was intending to do FM 969 through Lexington, but was intimidated by the gravel road construction around the turn-off, so I farted around on some other roads in that area (trying to get through). On FM908 I learned that “pavement ends” means exactly that, even 20 miles after the sign. All I can say is that the road looked fine within sight of that initial sign. Well, it was a nice interlude and a pretty out and back. I kept looking for another way through, but all the county roads branching off it were dirt.

At that point I had to just go to US290 and slab it into Austin. I needed to keep moving if I wanted to be in Marble Falls at a decent lunch hour.

It started getting nicely twisty on Bullick Hollow Rd toward Volente. The scenery was decidedly hill-like, with scrubby pines and rocky soil. Lime Creek Road was completely awesome. It was similar in feel to many areas of the Sierra foothills, strongly reminding me of a little trip on Cherry Lake Rd that I took with T and Sean a few months ago.

Not long after turning onto Lime Creek Rd, I came up on another rider on a red sportbike in full leathers. He was riding very relaxed on the straights and putting a knee out on the curves. I followed him and we soon came upon another car moving slowly through the turns. I was anxious to pass, and I think it showed so he waved me by. I was soon able to pass the car, followed by the other rider. He easily stayed in my mirrors through the next turn, so I waved him past me. Showing a good amount of skill, he disappeared in a few corners, but reappeared soon. I like to think that he was intentionally slowing down to warn me about appropriate speeds for the few tighter corners we came up on, but that could have just been his preferred pace. In any case, I followed him until the end of the road, where he took a turn-out to go back for another run. I waved and continued on my way.

There were 50+ riders lined up on the shoulder at the intersection of Lime Creek and 1431 as I made my turn. A few in the rear were holding their hands up in impatience as I passed. A mile or two down the road a policeman was getting himself into place to direct traffic. It was then that I realized that I would not be able to stop for pictures at all during the 30 miles of 1431. I really did not want that line of bikes in front of me.

I enjoyed the curves, but sure enough, about 10 miles from Marble Falls, I started getting buzzed by sportbike riders wearing black vests with big wicked-looking “R” patches on the back. Obviously this local club did not believe in proper riding gear, because I’d never seen so much bare skin going so fast through turns. Lots of scantily clad pillions too. You just don’t see that much in the SF Bay Area.

I’d say about 20 riders passed me by the time I made it to Marble Falls and turned onto 281 toward my chosen lunch destination. The Blue Bonnet CafĂ© is world famous for it’s good home cooking, notably chicken fried steak and pie. While I waited in the 20 minute line I overheard someone say that “even President Bush has eaten here.”

When I’m at a local place, I try to eat what the locals eat, so I had a nice serving of chicken fried steak followed by a slice of banana cream pie (always a favorite of mine). Twas good!

I got to chatting with another rider going solo today who was seated next to me on the counter. When I asked where he was from, I could tell he really got a kick out of the hand swoops and turn-counting 1..2..3..…8..9… turns down Lime Creek Rd. It sure would be nice having a commute worth reliving.

I headed out of Marble Falls to the south, taking a few very deserted country roads to get the Bee Creek Rd (two-thumbs up). At one point there was cactus all over the side of the road.

I headed through Austin toward my next road highlight. I’d heard good things about Park Road 1 through Bastrop and Buescher state parks. I got there after the ranger station closed, and only had a ten dollar bill, anyway. The ranger driving a truck around said that it was free if I didn’t stop to take a hike or park to use any facilities.

The speed limit was slow, but the road was single lane and had many blind curves. Beautiful scenery: with piney woods, lakes full of fishers and bathers, and lots of elevation changes.

Getting back on highway 71, I headed for La Grange, Round Top, and Bellville via scenic FM roads. I got onto US290 at Hempstead and headed home, arriving before dark. 495 miles and some very enjoyable roads under my wheels.

Map of my entire day. (mostly correct). Route file in MS S&T.

Close up of the route west of Austin.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Wildflower Ride

So I did a little 300 (or so) mile ride last Sunday. Big thanks to Cindy (Chatterbox) on TWTex for organizing. I’ve been pretty busy this week and didn’t even look at my pictures until earlier today. Cindy posted a nice trip report here. At least *someone* has been on top of things, eh?

Lessee…. We met up at Denny’s in Hempstead for breakfast at 8:00 but didn’t end up leaving until almost 9:30 because people kept showing up and asking if they had time for a “bite to eat”. The group grew to a healthy 10 bikes including one 2-up couple.

“The Big Spank Daddy” led us out through various small towns and mildly twisty roads. We first headed west, and then south under I10. I’m still not quite sure where I am when out on these rides, and it doesn’t really mean anything to most of the people reading this. I'll post a map once I take the time to grab it off the gps.

I would like to note that not long after passing I10 there was a section of road with 3 or 4 uphill sweepers. For just a minute or two, it felt like California’s Highway 9. Then it was back to Texas' mild twisties.

We had lunch in some small Texas town (Weimar?) at the Bel Aire Diner. The food was fine, but I really hoped that the dilapidated looking Bel Aire Motel next door was defunct.

Now for the pics. BTW, most of these are max 800 pixels in one direction, but display smaller on the blog. If you copy/paste the pic link into a browser window, you’ll get the full size. Of course, I have much larger versions of each, but I don’t like to post huge files.

Bikes stopped by field of yellow flowers:

Farmhouse & white flowers

R1200ST with bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and poppies (?)

Bison! And the tractor. Can't forget the tractor.

My favorite!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My April Fools Bunny & New Job!

Well, before the day is over, I'd just like to say "Happy Birthday" to Ariana (Ari). She is 6 years old today. I can still remember picking her up from the breeder and bringing her down to San Luis Obispo. She had a nice comfy cage and some parsley and carrots while she settled in that first night. This picture is from several years ago. She was probably no more than a year or two old when it was taken.

She's been a great pet. She was all I had during my last 2 years of college. She was mostly loose in my bedroom and would do all sorts of "cute pet" things. She liked to wake me up in the morning by licking my face, and jump up into my lap for petting when I was up all night writing papers or modeling buildings.

These days she chooses to relax in a nice big chewable cardboard box and runs laps around the living room at night. If you wiggle your fingers, she comes running for attention. Awww.

Started my job!

In other news, I started my new job last Wednesday. I accepted an offer from a firm that does high end hotels and restaurants all over the country. It's been interesting at work so far. Very different from residential, but I'm trying to absorb everything that I see and hear.

I've already got a business trip (my first!) coming up. There is an industry convention in Las Vegas at the end of April. The entire firm of around 10 people is going. We're staying at the Wynn. (woohoo!) It sounds like I might need to buy some new clothes for this trip. I've never been much into "hip" going out clothing, but the schedule for LV sounds like it includes lots of cocktail parties and exclusive invite-only "events" with product reps.

On top of that, sounds like I may be going with a team to Philadelphia in a few months to do a site visit/survey on a project I've started to work on.

So good so far. And yes, gonna get some riding in tomorrow. Check back for *mas wildflower* pics in a day or two.

Oh, and I got a PM the other day from "Texas T" on TWTex that I really should update my profile cause "Yer a Texan now girl! Stand tall and be proud!" Done. And thanks for the reminder, Brian.