Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Traditionally the new year is welcomed with a burst of Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne." The song begins by posing the question, "should old friends be forgotten?" Christine and I decided some time back that our friends and experiences of  biking should not be forgotten and we started documenting our good (and sometimes bad) times with our biking avocation and adventures. The endeavor had nothing to do with new year at the time. We enjoyed riding but have a propensity to "forget" what we did, where, and with whom. Hence, we started writing up our rides so that we would remember "old times." And we wanted others to join us on our rides, so we wrote some beginner's pages to let people know there are common problems as one starts riding, so don't get intimidated and not join the crowds.
Similarly, "Auld Lang Syne" is a call to remember long-standing friendships. The concept fits right in to friendships developed during group rides, as well as discovering friendly people on tours. We do not wish to forget any of the special people we run across and feel honored to publish pictures of the special people in our blog stories.
So as 2011 ends and we welcome 2012, we pause to reflect on the good times we had, the people we have met, and then wonder how 2012 can top our past adventures.
We are never sure of the future, but a good way to start it is to wish everyone

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
And here's a hand, my trusty friend
And gie's a hand o' thine
We'll tak'A cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

"May there be a goodly share on every table everywhere". 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

T'was the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there. 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
 And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

 More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
 And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

 His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
 He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem "T'was the night before Christmas" has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the poem St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeer!

The display was part of a trolley car Christmas lights tour that some members of the San Angelo Bicycle Association participated in on 12-12-11. The display of small, three dimentional tableaux is presented by the Greater Santa Rita Homeowners' Association and Santa Rita residents.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Bicycling

 The San Angelo Bicycling Association has already had a lot of fun in the Christmas spirit. But first, let's set the stage with a cast of characters. We have Mrs. Claus
And a lot of little helpers.

This weekend was packed with Christmas fun. On Saturday, December 3, the club participated in the Concho Christmas Parade, and on Sunday, we held the annual Ride Through the Christmas Lights along the Concho River. The lights ride is for all of San Angelo and especially families and kids.

The parade was among the kick off activities of San Angelo's Christmas celebration that lasts until December 31. To lead the Christmas cyclers, we had Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
 AKA Christine Jones along with Dorothy Langdon.
Followed by Santa (AKA Roy Jones) with Gene Potter, the incoming SABA president.
And lots of helpers on the ride. Rick, Liz, and Velma.
 Debbie and Bill Yohman
Connie Dunagan
 Kevin and Becky Dierschke
 And many more riders. Of course there were lots of floats; a sampling below:

 No parade is complete without the horses.
 And off we go. It was quite dark so we were glad the parade directors insisted on all participants, floats, etc. to have lights.
 It was a lot of fun to hear the kids (and big kids) shout "There's Santa" and "Hi Santa".

 The route was dark. This is one of the "official" pictures taken by one of the parade organizers.

Next day: Ride Through the Lights

 Despite the weather of "feels like 36" with a threat of rain (did sprinkle on us), a lot of "big kids" showed up.
 But this is what the ride was all about.
Santa led the group out, but was quickly overtaken by some young riders.
And then more riders.
Kids demonstrating our club's no-drop style of riding. "Fast" ones hold up and wait for the others to catch up.
And while we were waiting, Rick and Velma roll in with their tandem. Before the year ends, we really want to thank Rick and Velma for all their help and work for the club this year. Velma served as the vice-president and did an outstanding job. And Rick was the high non-officer volunteer of the year. Thanks, thanks to both of you.
Not many of Santa's photos came out so I would like to end the story with the coverage of the event by our local television station: Follow this link

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New Beginning

 Christine's new bike.
For those with a discerning eye, yes, we have crossed the line. New adventures in the wilderness. New trips into pastures. New, fearless treks on super chunky chip seal.
Roy's new bike.
Note, not once have I called the bikes Mountain Bikes. That is because mine is more of a Hill Bike, and can't even make it up some of the hills, much less any mountains.
No snickering from anyone from San Angelo. This was our first outing. You have to start somewhere. For those not from San Angelo, Strawberry Trail is a short, flat, winding course for kids and the cautious. I think I saw some training wheel ruts, but I have to admit, once I got over 4 mph, some of those curves were challenging.  
 Christine negotiating a turn on Strawberry Trail. (Editor's note: The uber-caution was precipitated by the falls on each the two previous mtb rides...otherwise I'm pretty much fearless.)
 With our feet now wet, we ventured off onto a nature trail that led to a bird watching station.
 When you peep through the fence, this is what you see. But if you ride back there, you scare all the birds away. Sort of defeats the purpose of going to the bird watching sanctuary.
 Back in civilization, Christine decided she was just going to stick to the paved areas. She was going to take it easy on our first outing despite the fact it is hard to take it easy in 54 degree weather with the wind NNW at 22 mph and occasional, interesting gusts of wind. She was trying out some of her new cold weather gear and it worked. (Now I think I hear snickering from other parts of the country such as Edie from Massachusetts or Wilbur from Minnesota  To them, 54 is a balmy afternoon. Not sure if they have wind up there, haven't heard them complain about the wind but have heard mention of snow drifts.) 
 I, being more adventuresome, decided to get off the paved road as I was now on an off-road hill bike. Winding Snake Trail was a little lot more challenging than Strawberry Trail. As the sign says, Winding Snake would just zig and zag for a longer time than Strawberry.  
The silly snake they named this after liked to zig and zag up and down hills.
 Forgot to mention. Rapidly way back on Strawberry Trail, I found you could not just ride along and take a picture of the scenery or surroundings such as you can on a road bike. On a "mountain bike," one is using the upper, lower, middle part of the body and hopefully have the brain engaged. So, the pictures posted are for the most part taken from a stopped position. If I recall this terrain correctly, I did not stop to take a nice picture. I stopped because my "mountain bike" couldn't make it up this hill.
 Huh? I was finally on some relatively flat terrain but the sun was in my eyes. I decided to "slow down" as I did not know the trail well enough to go "fast." I was blinded so I stopped--and in the sun--it appeared my trail just disappeared. How could the trail just end? As my eves adjusted, some tumble weeds had blown into the trail blocking it. I did a cyclocross maneuver and continued on my way.  
 It was way down the path when it dawned on me. Why didn't I move the tumble weeds? Another biker moving much faster than I was could round the corner for a big surprise. Could be an oweee.   
 Slowly I came out of the wilderness and almost back into civilization.
 I said slowly.
 Ta Dah. Civilization AKA Burkett Trail. Has a water fountain and rest room facility. A jumping off point for mountain bikers who know what they are doing--and can do it.
 Me? It was time to start heading back to the staging area. I took this trail. (Forgot its name). Christine, who met me at Burkett Trail, decided to continue on the paved areas and would meet me back at the parking lot.
 Going back was not all downhill and smooth trails.
 The obligatory fall.
All of our mountain bike friends tell their war stories of falling, bruising, bleeding, and landing in cactus/thorns. So now I have mine. One can see that the trail is on a slight decline with a curve. I was going pretty fast, probably 6 mph, and hit the sand on the outer part of the rut. Front wheel went out from under me and plunk! When I hit the ground, I slid backwards a little, just enough to slide into a cactus thorn.

Although I did not bleed or bruise, I now have my war story. And I hope that it is my worst one in all of the upcoming adventures on a real mountain bike.
All's well that ends well. And my end didn't have any remaining thorns that needed to be removed.

Post script: On the return route, Christine became adventurous and took a short cut back to the parking lot using Tasajillo Flats. She negotiated it quite well and may even join me on the next ride as I seek out flatter trails, fewer rocks, fewer hills, less steep inclines/declines, fewer thorns, fewer cacti, fewer tumble weeds, fewer tight curves, and less sand. And a spa at the end of the trail.