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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pictures and Commentary for Day 1 of the Southeast Texas Loop

Got sidetracked and will submit the pics and commentary for Day 1 of the SE Texas loop tomorrow morning.

YouTube Video on the Ortlieb Pannier Carry System

This video describes a feature of the Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Pannier that allows it to be attached to the Ortlieb Pannier Carry System.

It allows you to take the Pannier off your bike and in a matter of seconds attach it to the carrier and walk off with it as a backpack.

It really is a great Bike and Hike feature.

Stay tuned for more information on the use of the Ortlieb Panniers on my 400 mile southeast Texas loop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZdzif7eQzM

Here's a link to the Ortlieb website:

http://www.ortlieb.com/index_black.php?lang=en

Galveston Island State Park Video on YouTube

This is Day 1 of my 400 mile Southeast Texas Loop and I'm at Galveston Island State Park.

GISP borders the Gulf of Mexico on the south side of the park and Galveston Bay on the north side of the park and has hiking and paddling trails with GPS coordinates on the Park map.

The hiking trails wind through the brackish (mixture of salt and fresh) water of the tidal marsh and includes a loop around a number of fresh water ponds. This park has an abundance of wildlife including pelicans, hawks and shore birds.

Here's the link to the YouTube video I did while on the Clapper Rail Trail:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2W9encmSBc

Here's a link to the Galveston Island State Park website:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/galveston/

Starting the 400 mile Southeast Texas Loop this morning

I've done a couple of trial rides with the new set-up and it will take some getting used to.... the bike obvious handles differently with the loaded panniers and other equipment on it.

I've went back through everything to see what I could do without and lightened the load a couple of pounds, but that's pretty much it.

This is as much as I will ever have on the bike - I'm fully loaded for camping out during wintertime with 2 days of food.... any other time of the year and without the plan to camp out I would be at least 20 lbs lighter... so this is definitely a "Max Limit" case....we'll see how this set-up works.

Based on feedback from several folks who read my blog, I'm going to post to the blog differently this trip... Here's the plan:
  • I'll take the pictures and video during the day.
  • Then download them at the end of the day to my Netbook.
  • I'll then upload all the pictures for that day from my Netbook to the blog and do a "Summary of the Day" post with the pictures in chronological order and commentary and observations added.
  • It will make one post longer but will create a better, easier to follow continuity for the day's events. That seems to be the format that people want to see and I'm good with that.
I've done my final preparations including:
  • adding all the destination phone numbers to my Contact List
  • adding destination addresses to my Verizon Wireless Navigator
  • printing out Google Maps for each day and a detail map of entry and egress to each specific destination
So that's about it.... feel free to text me at 979-285-7219 anytime.

See you in Galveston!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Road Racer to Highway Hauler - the Final Results!

Check out the final results of my addition of the Ortlieb Panniers, Handlebar Bag and Rack Pack to the Old Man Mountain Racks with this YouTube Link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12-ZcRRp8vw

This video shows the final results of adding front and rear Old Man Mountain Racks and an Ortlieb Matched Set to a 2007 Trek 1500.

I'll be using this bike on an 8-day 400 mile tour through southeast Texas and then a 1260 mile tour from Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles / Hollywood / Malibu CA with an intermediate diversion to Grand Canyon NP and a final 3-day exploration of the largest urban National Park in the world - the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Road Racer to Highway Hauler Video #2

Here's a link to the 2nd video on changing my 2007 Trek 1500 into a Touring Bike capable of carrying 60 lbs of gear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAFjKSj91RU

In this video, I talk about the Old Man Mountain racks I mounted on my 2007 Trek 1500 - the OMM Sherpa on the front and Red Rock on the rear - and the steps to install the racks as well as some tips for improving the fit of your panniers to your racks.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Turning a Road Racer into a Highway Hauler - Part 1

Here's a YouTube link to the the first video on what I'm doing to my Trek 1500 road bike to turn it into a cross country touring bike.
 
 
There's lots of equipment information in this video including my selection of tires, bike computer, helmet, lights, gloves and most importantly racks and panniers.
 
I'll have several more videos showing the assembly progress and finally the packing process before I go on a "try all the new stuff out" 400 mile loop through Southeast Texas.
 
Then the real test will come.... a 1250 mile ride down the old Route 66 from Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles CA and on to Malibu and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Did a Loop through Brazoria County today

Today was one of those days where I probably could've done a lot better on several things....

I got up this morning with the intention of joining in on the Tuesday morning Brazosport Bicycle Club ride. 

Let me digress here a minute.... I've finally got enough data on a particular phenomenon that keeps occurring over and over to determine that it is real and it's here to stay.... so here goes.... here it is....

I've gotten a lot slower at doing things - there.... it's out.

I don't understand what is happening.... I mean 7 or 8 years ago I would've got up, got going and been prepared to leave for this little bike ride in maybe 30 - 45 minutes.... now it takes me an hour and a half...

What's up with that?

Everything takes longer.... it's so annoying.... I'm so slow now.... and I forget things.... I used to have a photographic memory.... now I have to run around with a stupid little list in my pocket and write things down so I don't forget them.

So anyway.... I end up getting to the Park and Ride area where the bike ride starts about 5 minutes before 8.... and nobody's there.... Oh well - guess I'll go it alone.

Which I did.... so I'm tooling west down 332 toward Brazoria and first thing I notice is it's cold.... hello... what a thing to notice when you're out on the road on a bicycle.

I had become a victim of the Gulf Coast Temperature Shuffle!  You see.... 45 degrees in New Mexico or West Texas is no problem.... heck - it's shirt sleeve and shorts weather just as long as you're doing something... like riding a bike.... but down here on the Grand Gulf Coast where it's 92% humidity.... 45 degrees is cold!

Here's the 2nd little mirage..... when you're in New Mexico, you're pedaling up and down hills so 1/2 the time you're going pretty slow and you're working real hard.... well in good ole LJT (Lake Jackson Tx), it's flat as a pancake.... so when you pedal harder, you go faster and when you go faster there's more convection (that's a fancy word that means the wind takes the warmth from your body)..... then you're basically pedaling through water-laden air so Geez I guess that's enough about the weather miscalculation....

So I got close to the 332 bridge across the Brazos River and hung a riggit on 521.... heading for 35 between Angleton and West Columbia... and it was a nice ride.... I was getting the feel for being back on a road bike and finding the right gear for the conditions and finding the right position on the bike.... decided to pull over and raise my seat a bit.... that helped give me a little bit more power.... and then I was fiddling with the new handlebar mounted mirror and jacking with the new Cateye Strata Double Wireless Bike Computer that shows all the usual suspects plus cadence which I love.... kinda like a rev limiter for me.... tells me when I need to upshift and downshift based on my pedaling rpms.

So all is going well and I hit 35 and hang a left headed for the Bar X .... a big country subdivision on 35.... I hit the 35W shoulder and notice there's construction and quite a bit of debris on the shoulder which I'm doing my best to manuever around and through and I'm approaching the Bar X entrance and I ride around another pile of crud (by this time I should've realized it would've been better to be on the outside of the right lane instead of the shoulder..... but you know me.... I'm slow (see above).... so all of a sudden....

I hear this metal clicking sound.... now let me be the first to say I don't like to be riding a bike down the road and have the solitude of my AC/DC Back in Black shattered by a metallic clicking sound.... kinda makes you sick at your stomach.... last time I heard that I blew out a rear rim in Hamilton Tx and had to lay over an extra day to get a new one UPS'd in..... so I block off the steam and shut down the boiler room.... unclip my right shoe and ease to a stop and dismount to take a look and what do I see....

A freakin' thin, horse-shoe shaped metal clip protruding from the sidewall of my brand new 700x28 Bontrageur Hardcase - you know the "bulletproof" ones I just had put on at Bike Barn - Score Road 1 Bontrageur Hardcases 0... so what do you do when you see what amounts to a razor blade lodged in your tire?  You take a picture to document the damage right?  No! You reach down there and yank out the offending element and then hear the whoosh of air escaping from the tire.... kinda like pulling your finger out of a hole in a dike....

So I rolled my bike across 35 to the Bar X entrance and into the  Post Office box building and commenced to changing the tube.... and let me say right off I hate changing road bike tires.... I obviously have never learned the right technique cause it always ends up taking about twice as long as it should and is accompanied by a lot of cussing and some sore fingers.... speaking of fingers... mine were cold.... I had bought some really good cold weather gloves at Sun & Ski Sports a couple of days ago but did I bring 'em on this bike ride.... Naaaa..... course not.

So I'm sitting there with cold fingers changing the tube... I get the new tube in and the first bead on and I'm working on the last 8" of the 2nd bead.... obviously I've missed learning something about replacing a tube along the way.... because it seems nearly impossible to get that last 6 - 8" of the 2nd bead on without busting a finger, a gut or a blood vessel in my eye or something....I just can't get it...

My fingers are cold so what do I do?

What they tell you not to do.... use a lever.... and I pinch the tube and hear the air blowing out of it....

Am I good or what?

I had only brought 2 tubes with me and no patch kit (another stupid move) so now I'm sitting there looking at the last tube and thinking... Man what an idiot!

So what you gonna do.... cry foul or Man Up! 

So I did it right the 2nd time and got back on the bike and did a little tour around Bar X and waved at the deer and only succeeded in making a fool out of myself and getting even colder...

I figured... forget this....I'm heading to West Columbia and get me a cup of coffee and a plate of enchiladas.... but first I took a right on 36 and pulled into Walmart in West Columbia....

Mission - buy a couple of throwdown tubes to replace those recently holed and find me some more clothes - cheap.... which I succeeded in doing .... and in grand style.

I bought some light grey Fruit of the Loom warm-up bottoms and a bright Yellow-Orange warm-up top for $7.50 each - the warm-up top color matched the color in my new Pearl Izumi bicycle shoes perfectly so I'm feeling right smart and stylish about now... matching stuff up and all...

Now to the eating stuff.... I got directions to Lucy's Mexican Food joint - it was south on 36 heading out of West Columbia to Brazoria on the left.... had the enchilada platter and a couple of cups of coffee and felt better about the day.... I had done some stupid stuff but recovered nicely... so now I wanted to ride some more....

Which I did.... down 36 through Brazoria through Jones Creek to a left on CR 400 and a right on 2004 and then came into my subdivision the back way by the hospital and hit 31 mph with a nice tail wind down Hospital Drive.... that was fun...

So I pull into my driveway and get off the bike and open the garage door to put my bike away and the garage is empty....

No truck in the garage.....

Cause I drove it to the Park and Ride on 2004 and left on my bike ride from there.... I told you I was getting forgetful.

I just shook my head, mumbled a couple of unspeakables under my breath, got back on my bike and rode it across town to my truck..... put the bike in the truck and drove back to my house.....

What can I say?

Typical Day....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Catching up on the last couple of days

The weekend was very busy....

Saturday - I made a list of several bicycle shops and other places I wanted to visit on the southeast side of Houston and did just that.  Here's the list:
Here was my route:

Stopped by Cory's Bicycles and met Cory and talked a bit and gave him a couple of Discovering America on 2 Wheels cards.

I bought quite a bit of stuff at the Clear Lake Bike Barn:
  • Bontrageur Hardcase 700x28 tires
  • Tire Liners
  • Cateye Strata Double Wireless (includes cadence) Bike Computer (couldn't get my old one to work)
  • Rear Brake pads
  • Genuine Innovations Tire Inflation Kit
  • Had all this stuff installed by Thad while I talked shop with Clint.
While the bike work was going on, I got in my truck and drove over to Bay Area Schwinn and talked to Bob who is an accomplished bike builder... we talked specs on bike and tires....

Then I went around the corner to Webster Bicycles and talked to Reuben and Billy... bought some Shimano All Terrain shoes and Rock n Roll lubricant.

Went back to Bike Barn, picked up my bike and headed down Nasa Rd 1 to I-45 and saw the Ski and Sports on the corner of I-45 and Nasa Rd 1 and stopped to check that out... turned out to be a good decision - the Bike Department Manager there, Robert Ethridge is a good guy to talk to about anything bicycle related especially touring.... because he's done it and is doing it and does the whole Randonneuring thing too - what's Randonneuring? Check this out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randonneuring  http://www.houstonrandonneurs.org/

When I left Sun & Ski Sports, I headed down I-45S to Fry Electronics.... Holy Mackerel - this place looks like a miniature Astrodome.... wanted to check out the videocams I had been researching... ended up doing that and looking at High Definition Samsung TVs and Bose V20 Surround Systems.... don't do this.... because once you do.... you'll probably end up dropping some big bucks cause these things are incredible.... I didn't buy anything there.... called the wife and told her the specs and the costs... but it's on the "Wish List" for 2010....

Geez... go home already.... before you go broke!

So I did....

Got up Sunday morning and decided to do the Brazosport Bicycling Club Sunday ride -
http://www.brazosportbicycleclub.com/

I jick-jacked around and didn't get up to the departure point by the 8:00 am launch time but passed a man - woman pair on a tandem on the way up there.... they came rolling up while I was at the Park and Ride assembly point - enter Robert and Kathy - 2 of the nicest folks I've ever met.

We made a quick plan and route and took off.... and what a blessing the ride and the conversation was....

We ended up doing a 48 mile route at about 18 mph and I enjoyed every minute of it.... I hadn't ridden but about 4 times in the past month so I needed to stretch my legs on my road bike and I did just that... and having Robert and Kathy on the tandem right next to me in excellent conversation the whole way kept my mind off the fact that I had only ridden 4 times in the past month.

Here I am.... doing this cross country tour thing.... and I'm having problems keeping up with R & K... this guy Robert is the whole package.... big, strong, smart, articulate and entertaining... with the perfect complement of sweet wife Kathy.

Like I said.... what a blessed accidental encounter....

But as I've said many times.... sometimes the best plan is a busted plan....

and the People I meet are the Best Part of....

Discovering America on 2 Wheels

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Submitting a Comment to a Post on this Blog

Here's some info to address a "glitch" in the Blogger.com format (that I can't do anything about) regarding the "Post A Comment" box that normally appears below each post that allows a reader to submit a comment that can be viewed my anyone reading the post.

Bottom line is that if I put a link to a website in a post and that link is wider than the post text field such that it "runs over into the next line" or "wraps around", then the "Post A Comment" box WILL NOT APPEAR below the post.

To get around that little annoyance, there are 2 Options:
  • Option 1: Click on the tiny "0 Comments" icon at the bottom of the post.  That will bring up that post out of "Blog Archives" with the "Post A Comment" box restored and you can submit a comment by typing your comment in the box and clicking on the "Post Comment" button.
  • Option 2: Find the title for that post in the "Blog Archive" located on the right side column of the blog. You may have to scroll up or down depending on what post you are currently reading to find the "Blog Archive".  I currently have the blog set to display the 10 most recent posts.  Once you've located the "Blog Archive" then scroll up / down on the "Blog Archive" to find the title of the Post you want to submit a comment on and click on that title.  That will bring up just that post with the "Post A Comment" box restored and you can submit a comment by typing your comment in the box and clicking on the "Post Comment" button - just like Option 1.
Here's some "Screen Captures" that illustrate the above instructions:





Hopefully, Blogger.com (run by Google) will correct that issue in the near future, but for now this seems to be the quickest way around the problem.

I want to thank those folks who have submitted comments and invite everyone to submit comments / suggestions / criticisms on the posts or on the blog and content itself.

Please tell me....
  • What you like...
  • What you don't like...
  • What content / information is useful...
  • What you could do without...
  • The favorite post you've read...
  • The worst post you've read...
  • What you would change about this blog if you were doing it...
  • About the Best Experience / Best Ride you've ever had on your bike...
  • Anything.... just submit a comment on your thoughts about....
Discovering America on 2 Wheels

I also want to thank "RJ" for the post that he submitted some time back about how I did Leg 1 and Leg 2.... in a nutshell, RJ suggested that I do some research on Bicycle Touring Equipment and invest in some quality equipment that will improve my enjoyment of the overall experience.

As you can tell from my recent posts, I've done just that and am anxious and excited to try out the new equipment on my Southeast Texas Loop -


So your comments help me too and they may help other readers of this blog.

Hopefully, I've made it clear that I'm no "expert" on long distance bicycle touring and it's relatively obvious to even the most casual cyclist that I haven't used the latest and greatest or more classical touring equipment and techniques.

Bottom line is that I welcome and appreciate your comments so please keep them coming!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update on Upgrades / New Things I'll be using / trying out

As promised, here's a report on my plans to change / upgrade and add new equipment for the 392 mile Leg 3A - Southeast Texas Loop and the 1168 miles of Leg 3: Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles CA:
  • 2007 Trek 1500 Road Bike - I used to ride my road bike more when I was riding with my son and doing the Hotter than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, Tx each year.... but over the last couple of years, it's just been sitting in the garage.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I evaluated taking my Trek 3700 Mountain Bike and doing some modifications to it to make it more "road efficient".  This is the bike that I rode for 510 miles from Lake Jackson Tx through the Texas Hill Country to Fort Worth and then 750 miles from Fort Worth Tx to Santa Fe NM.  It would do the job and it's still an option but when I laid out the itinerary for the 1168 miles of Leg 3 I realized I was going to need to travel greater distances to get from town to town where lodging was available.... and I remembered those 20+ mph headwinds that alway seem to be coming out of the west.... so here I am.... taking my Trek 1500 Road bike and testing it for "touring".  The Pro's for using the Trek 1500 are that it's light and fast and has great components, more gears, more aerodynamic profile for the rider based on the geometry of the bike.... it's a road bike.... it's built to go fast on the road.  The Con's are that it doesn't enjoy the more beefed up frame construction of a Mountain Bike or a Touring Bike.... it has 700x25 series road tires... not the 26" fat tires of a Mountain Bike or the 700x32 tires of a touring bike.... the "skinny" road tires will have much less rolling resistance but they also provide less "cushion" and "support" for carrying heavy loads down the road.... but I've talked it over with several bicycle shops and they see no problem if I keep the total "extra load" to < 60 lbs.
  • Tire Upgrade for the Trek 1500 - initially I was going to go with the Specialized Armadillo tires as mentioned in the "Data Dump" post.... but after doing more research, reading quite a few "comparison" reviews and talking to several cycle shops in Houston, I think I'm going to go with the Bontrageur Race X Lite Hardcase -  http://bontrager.com/model/06999 -  Here's a link to a forum discussion comparing the Specialized Armadillos and the Bontrageur Hardcase - http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-360522.html  - I've heard and read a consistent theme that the Bontrageur Hardcase has about the same level of "bulletproofness" as the Specialized Armadillo but rides, rolls, grips and performs a whole lot better.   I'm going to the Clear Lake Bike Barn - http://bikebarn.com/ - today to get 'em installed.... so we'll see.
  • Pedal / Bike Shoe change for the Trek 1500 - I have 2-sided Shimano clipless pedals on there right now that I use with a Shimano "Road" shoe.... I'm planning on going to a Shimano PD-A530 clipless pedal - http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/pedals/mountain/product.-code-PD-A530.-type-pd_mountain.html - that will allow me to ride with a "bicycle shoe" on one side of the pedal and a regular "street shoe" on the other side.  I will likely also go to an All-Weather Multi-purpose Bicycle shoe like the Shimano SH-MT60 http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/shoes/mtb/product.-code-SH-MT60.-type-.html
  • Add front and rear racks to the Trek 1500 - after spending quite a bit of time researching and talking to folks in the know about racks and panniers, I decided to INVEST and I say INVEST in CAPS because quality stuff isn't cheap in this category.... in some quality racks and panniers.  Because the Trek 1500 doesn't have factory attachment points for front and rear racks on the respective forks, I went with the Old Man Mountain Racks - Sherpa for the front - http://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/RackPages/FrontRacks.html - Red Rock for the back - http://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/RackPages/RearRacks.html - I talked with John at Old Man Mountain and these are about the beefiest racks in the business and they come with all  the hardware and on-line illustrated installation instructions and they'll fit my Trek 1500 Road Bike or my Trek 3700 Mountain Bike (even though it has a front suspension) so these will basically do everything.
  • Add front and rear panniers, handlebar bag and rack bag to the Trek 1500 - Geez, panniers are just like everything else in the world nowadays... you got about umpteen choices ranging in price, size, quantity and quality from low to HIGH and everything in between.... I went round and round on all this stuff but finally defaulted to the....
William Miller "Rule of 3" decision making philosophy....

Oh I haven't told you about this....

You can take this one to the bank and collect interest on it.... it's nearly bulletproof.

Here it is -

When faced with a decision about anything of consequence, value or life altering influence....

and following countless hours of research on your own....

Do the following -

Pick 3 completely independent, unbiased, informed sources (people) and ask them what they would do...

IF YOU GET THE SAME ANSWER FROM THE 3 COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT, UNBIASED, INFORMED SOURCES (PEOPLE) .....

THAT'S THE ANSWER!

So when I applied that to the decision about panniers.... you know what the "Rule of 3" yielded....

ORTLIEB PANNIERS - http://www.ortlieb.com/index_white.php?lang=en&m1=0&m2=0&file=p-search.php

These things are completely waterproof, high capacity, versatile, secure and high quality.... these will last a lifetime.... so there you go.

I ended up buying them at theTouringStore - http://www.thetouringstore.com/
  • Various other items for the Trek 1500 - I already have a Cateye Bike computer on my bike.... I just need a new battery for it... I may change out the seat to the one I have on my Trek 3700... it's a Bell Sports Mountain Bike Saddle - http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bell-Sports-Mountain-Bike-Saddle/10400616?sourceid=1500000000000003260420&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=10400616 
  • High Definition Video cam - I've had Sony Videocams in the past and have been very happy with them, but I've also used Canon cameras my whole life.... I had a Canon A-1 35 mm and a Canon EOS Rebel and now I have a Powershot A720is.... so I started comparing the Sony HD video cams to the Canon HD video cams and what I found out is that the Canon HD video cams match or exceed the Sony HD video cams in nearly every category..... for about $300 - $400 less!  Right now I'm leaning toward a Canon Vixia HF-200 - http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=177&modelid=17994 - it lists for $749 but they've got a $200 instant rebate on them right now.... so they're priced at nearly every store for $549.... and the reviews are really good on them - cnet.com really likes it - http://www.cnet.com/1770-5_1-0.html?query=canon+vixia+hf200&tag=srch%3Ba - and the features and price are right.  I see a lot of "con" review comments on the crappy Pixela software that comes with the camera for editing and manipulating the "m2ts" format AVCHD files (read more about AVCHD here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVCHD) - but there's easy to use, inexpensive software out there to "convert" the m2ts files to mpeg-4 format that can be easily edited.  Wondershare makes one of the "conversion" software solutions - http://www.dvd-ripper-copy.com/video-converter-platinum.html - I've used their software for converting Powerpoint files to .wmv files and it's simple and easy and maintains most of the original resolution of the images.
  • Finally.... check this out.... http://www.goprocamera.com/index.php?area=2&productid=29 - is that cool or what?  I don't know whether I'll get a Helmet Cam or not.... but if I do... it'll likely be this one.... it's amazing for $300, you can get a near "broadcast quality" videocam with all the attachments and accessories to go along with you.... wherever you go.... diving off down a mountain bike trail.... or jumping off a bridge or jumping a car over whatever.... I tell you.... only in America!
Ok - now finally - how am I gonna pay for all this? 

Well, I've got quite a bit of stuff I could part with....

I've hunted and fished a lot over the years and ended up with a lot of stuff I just don't use anymore....

Guns, Bows, Rod and Reels, Deer Feeders, Deer Stands, Decoys, Clothes, Storage Building for all the "stuff"....

I've sat down and made a list with some reasonable values for each one... and I think I can sell all this stuff over the next month or so through a combination of Garage Sale and cheap ads in the local bargain and come up with enough to pay for all the bike item purchases....

If you won't something bad enough, you'll do what it takes to get it....

Out with the Old and In with the New....

I guess that's part of .....

Discovering America on 2 Wheels

Leg 3A - Southeast Texas Loop

As I said in my "Data Dump" post, I'm working on a lot of different things right now... one of which is the concept of using my Trek 1500 Road Bike as my "touring bike" for the 1168 miles of Leg 3 from Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles / Hollywood / Malibu CA.

I'll go into the details of what I'm doing on "equipment change / upgrade" in another post.

What I'm planning right now is an 8-day / 392 miles of cycling / 45 miles of hiking "warm-up / equipment checkout / get back in road shape" Southeast Texas Leg 3A.

Here's a snapshot of the Excel worksheet for the 1st pass Plan for that route -
 
 
Here's what that route looks like on a map:
 
 
This plan allows me to address a lot of things with one trip:
  • Get used to riding my road bike.
  • Check out all the new equipment while I'm still "close to home" - this includes new tires, front and rear racks, panniers, video camera, tent, etc.
  • Gets me back in "touring" shape - I really haven't been doing that much riding since I've been back in Lake Jackson and I need to get a few hundred miles under my belt in readiness for the 1168 miles of Leg 3 from Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles CA
  • Need to go visit my Dad.... He lives in Beaumont and I haven't seen him in a while and I miss him....
  • Would like to check out the Texas State Parks, National Park sites and City Parks in my area.... this takes care of 5 of them in one fell swoop -
  1. Galveston State Park - Galveston Tx http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/galveston/
  2. Village Creek State Park - Lumberton Tx http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/village_creek/
  3. Big Thicket National Preserve - Kountze Tx http://www.nps.gov/bith/index.htm

So there you have it.... a Southeast Texas Loop that you can do in 8 days that takes you through a beautiful section of Southeast Texas that includes:

  • Views of the Gulf of Mexico
  • Trips through the wetlands of the Gulf Coast
  • Foray into the Piney Woods and one of the few truly untouched Wilderness Areas of America..... the Big Thicket of East Texas
  • Lake side biking and hiking at Lake Livingston and Lake Houston

.... and finally, I'm not planning on staying in any motels on this 8-day trip.... it'll be camping out at parks all the way except for 1 night in Beaumont where I stay with my Dad.... which means I'm doing this trip on the cheap... my budget (not shown on the Excel snapshot) for this trip is $250 .... that includes the campsite fees.... $15 / day to eat on and some extra in there for miscellaneous.
 
Like I've said many times before..... Discovering America on 2 Wheels doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money or go far far away from home....

Sometimes it means you take advantage of what you already have and what is in your area.....

Stay tuned for more details....
 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Data Dump on "Discovering America on 2 Wheels" - Grab an Extra Cup of Coffee... or a Beer.... You Might Need it!

First of all.... Welcome to Discovering America on 2 Wheels

And thank you to those folks who have become Followers and those who are reading my blog and viewing my videos on YouTube - Keyword Search for "WillsOnWheels" and....

And thanks to the new folks who are dropping in for the first time....

You know this effort, project, lifestyle, vocation, new job, fork in the road.... whatever you want to call it.... is going just about like every other major new thing I've ever done in my life.....

You start out discovering some new path... you get a little bit of information... do a little research... do a little bit of planning... and then take off down that path.

Everything is Fresh and Exciting and you find out there's a Whole New World out there... down this path that you've chosen... and you're like a Kid in a Candy Store... first off, you're in shock that this much candy could even exist in one place... and once you overcome that little bit of Sensory Overload, you find yourself darting from jar to jar and grabbing a sample and stuffing it in your mouth as fast as you can... you go through a Voracious Consumption of this Great and Wonderful New Thing....

and then you end up with a Belly Ache... Ok maybe not a belly ache... bad metaphor...

Let's go back to the "path" metaphor... you take this path and the birds are singing and the sun is shining and it's a great day to be alive and the path passes through a brushy area that obscures the path ahead and you pass through that and suddenly you're standing on the edge of a Huge Canyon.... it's Beautiful, it's lit up by the Sun in a  Collage of Colors and Textures that could only be described as magical.... and it goes for as far as the eye can see... and there you are... just looking at it... right there on the edge... wanting to Explore and Experience this Beautiful Place... but with no way to access it.

Such is my experience so far with Discovering America on 2 Wheels - there's a Great Land out there to be explored and discovered....

It's like Christmas Morning with an endless pile of presents all wrapped in a ribbony road... and it's calling to me to just dive in and start ripping off the ribbon and wrapping paper to see what's inside of each one..... there's an opportunity to do this for a lifetime as a lifestyle and as a career...

But like everything else worth doing.... there are obstacles.... OOPS!  I mean opportunities... and that's the way everything is... you start learning something new or doing something new... and there's this initial "rush" of progress and then you hit the first "plateau"... the sprint turns into a walk... the walk turns into a rest... and sometimes the rest turns into a retrace of a part of the path already walked....

So Whaddaya do? 

Well, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life... and most of them were made because I made the same errors:
  • I got in a hurry.
  • I didn't get all the facts... I didn't do my homework.... I listened to someone else.... I didn't do due diligence...
  • I ignored my gut... my instincts... that little voice in my head.
They say as you get older, you get wisdom and experience.... I don't know if that applies to me.... I don't consider myself all that wise and my experience with experience is that it's usually involves learning what NOT  to do... that's why they call it experience... if it was a good thing, they'd call it a "Happy Memory" or something.

So.... get to the point already OK?

First off, I need to define what it is I'm trying to do with Discovering America on 2 Wheels.... Why does this blog exist? Why am I doing this? What are my goals? What is my brand? ...... so here goes.

Sometimes it's best to describe something (especially if you're going into it blindfolded.... kinda like I feel right now) by describing what it is NOT!  Discovering America on 2 Wheels IS NOT.....
  • a short-lived random rant by a guy in middle-age crisis mode who lost his mind and abandoned his family and took off across America poorly equipped in the Dead of Winter... although it may look that way!
  • just a bicycling blog.... it's not just for die-hard cyclists....
  • a traditional bicycling tour site, adventure and blog...
  • a collection of poorly organized images and thoughts about my life...
Ok.... enough of the Reverse Psychology.... Process of Elimination Stuff.... so what is

Discovering America on 2 Wheels

It is:
  • a Blog about bicycling.
  • a Discussion / Analysis / Technical Take / Philosophical View of Touring America on a Bicycle.
  • a Palette for display of images and video that bring once in a lifetime encounters and everyday activities into your home and into your consciousness.
  • a Virtual Tour of America.... it's roads, towns, cafes, businesses, terrain, parks, trails.... its Tragedies and Triumphs.
  • a Forum for display and discussion of anything and everything that encompasses, envelopes and consumes our Time, our Lives, our Hopes and Dreams.... whether that be Activities, Culture, Entertainment, Food, Drink, Religion, Media, Politics, Economics, Finance, Opinion, Philosophy....
Discovering anything is not about restricting the Discovery.... it's about Expanding your Horizons!

About now you might be thinking.... What's this guy been smoking? What Turnip Truck did he just fall off of? or Wait till he falls off that Cloud he's on....

That's fine....

think what you will....

but think....

Or Dream....

something....

there....

that's what it's all about....

If all Discovering America on 2 Wheels does is make you think, make you dream, make you imagine and make you want....

to do something.... to try something.... to experience something.... new and positive and fulfilling that you've never done before... or just take up on something you left off... left behind... abandoned... forgot about... ignored...

then I've met my goal....

Speaking of Goals.... Objectives.... here's a few Goals - Short and Long Term - that I have for Discovering America on 2 Wheels:

Goal #1 - Do Leg 3: Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles / Hollywood / Malibu / Pacific Coast CA - 1168 miles with a 3-day camp/hike at Grand Canyon National Park.  Goal Date for Beginning is 03/22/10 and Completion is 04/16/10.  I've already done the logistics / mapped out a route / done the mileage / figured out where I'm gonna stay, done a budget, etc. Here's a piece of the plan for the 1st 5 days of the trip:



Goal #2 - Increase Public Exposure / Viewing / Readership of Discovering America on 2 Wheels to  greater than 1000 views per day on the blog and 100 views per day total of videos on YouTube by the end of April 2010.  Here are specific things I am doing to reach that goal:


  • Sent Letters of Introduction to Discovering America on 2 Wheels to several large papers throughout the US - NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Phoenix Sun, etc. as well as papers in Texas - Houston Chronicle, Austin Statesman, Dallas News.  Here's a link to the story John Loman of the Brazosport Facts (my local paper) did on my adventure so far: http://thefacts.com/story.lasso?ewcd=ba85d842ad452953

  • Researched advertising costs for Discovering America on 2 Wheels in the large national papers above and worked out an advertising plan / budget.  First ad will be next Thursday through Sunday in the LA Times.  It will run for 4 days in print and 11 days on-line.  I will follow with an ad in each major paper each week between now and when I begin Leg 3.

  • Set up the Discovering America on 2 Wheels blog for Google Analytics so I could get more details on the Views and Where they're coming from so I can track the affects of advertising in the bigger papers and the number of views over time.  This will help me determine if there is a base of interest for what I'm trying to do.

  • Registered a domain name at GoDaddy.com for Discovering America on 2 Wheels - This is so that if I do want to host my own website in the future, I have a place to do it. 


Goal #3: Improve the quality of videos / images I bring to Discovering America on 2 Wheels and have high quality equipment that can be used to do video for advertising for Sponsors.  With that goal in mind, I've spent some time researching Video Cameras looking for the following criteria:
  1. HiDef 1920x1080
  2. MPEG-4 format
  3. Would prefer 5.1 Surround Sound built in and capability of external / wireless mic
  4. Image Stabilization
  5. At least 16GB of internal memory
  6. Ease of downloading and editing with Windows Moviemaker or software provided by Camera mfgr.
  7. Good Optical Zoom - minimum 15X.... 20X would be better
  8. Minimum 4MB resolution still camera
  9. Flash
  10. Light weight and compact
  11. Rugged and Reliable
  12. Long Battery Life
  13. Less than $700
  14. would prefer it to be "self standing" so I could set it on a flat surface and take a picture.... this restricts many of the "pocket" video cams with the vertical "palm" configuration
If anyone has a recommendation on a video cam, please leave a blog comment or send me an e-mail at arhth1@yahoo.com


Goal #4:  Evaluate Options for New / Different / Modification of Existing / Already Owned Bicycle Equipment to Improve Efficiency of Riding by 20%.... the logistics of Leg 3 require me to average about 65 miles per day which is about 15 miles per day more than I averaged on Leg 1 and Leg 2 and I want to do those 65 miles in the same or less time.... which means I have to do something different... Here's what I've evaluated so far:

Option 1: Modification of my existing Trek 3700 Mountain Bike (that's currently in storage in Santa Fe NM).  Here are the modifications I've evaluated for making my Mountain Bike more "roadworthy".
  • Go to a narrower, puncture resistant tire - from a 26x2 Moutain Bike Tire to a 26x1.5 tire made by Specialized known as the "Armadillo" - these tires are as close as you're gonna get to bulletproof - Here's the link to the Specialized Armadillo Tire site: 
          http://www.specialized.com/zz/en/bc/SBCEqSuperSection.jsp?ssid=ArmadilloTires&eid=355

       Cost of a pair = $80
  • Change the rear gear cassette from an 11-28 to an 11-34.... in layman's turns it's lower gears.... easier to go up hills.... the original cassette on the 2007 Trek 3700 was an 11-34 (what they call a MegaGear) but when I cracked the rear rim in Hamilton Tx on 12/14/09, I had to go with what was in stock at the closest bike shop to get back on the road ASAP.... and that was an 11-28.... going to an 11-34 is like giving me 2 extra gears on the low end when I'm lugging up the 7% grades where it will really make a difference. Cost = $33
  • Add Clipless pedals - I'm looking at the type that have clips on one side and pedals on the other so I can ride with a Mountian Bike Clip shoe or a regular shoe but I do plan on riding with bicycling shoes this time - specific pedals I'm looking at are the Shimano PD-A530 Clipless Pedals - cost = $75
  • Add a Bike Computer with Cadence, Speed, Mileage for Day and Trip - This will help me determine how fast I'm riding, maintain constant cadence (pedal revolutions) and set goals for speed, distance and time and track them throughout the day... looking at the Cateye Strata Double Wireless - Cost = $50
  • Lower the handlebars and add handlebar ends that together would allow a lower ride profile on the bike and decrease wind resistance and improve aerodynamics - Cost = $40
  • So for about $280 + tax.... I can turn my Mountain Bike into something more of a Touring Bike.
Option 2: Use my Trek 1500 Road Bike (currently at my house) instead of my Trek 3700 Mountain Bike (currently in storage in Santa Fe NM). 

Typically road bikes are not built for cross country touring but Leg 3 will be different in many ways. 

First off, I will be camping out at only 2 places -

1) in the middle of the trip on days 11 - 14 of a 27 day trip at Grand Canyon National Park.  I plan to mail my Camping gear (currently in storage in Santa Fe NM) from the Santa Fe Post Office to the Grand Canyon Village Post Office and picking it up there when I ride in, so I won't be carrying it for the 550 miles from Santa Fe to Grand Canyon NP.

2) the 2nd place I'll be camping out is the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  That's at the end of my trip - days 24 - 26.... so when I'm done camping at Grand Canyon NP, I'll mail my camping gear from the Post Office in Grand Canyon Village to the Malibu CA Post Office and pick it up there....

Why am I telling you all this? 

Because that's part of the process of doing something like this... you try something... you want to get better... you evaluate new ways of doing things...

This opens up the possibility of me using my Trek 1500 Road Bike for the 1168 miles of Leg 3...


It really doesn't require many modifications.... I would upgrade the tires to the largest 700 series tire which will fit the forks.... I've talked with Bike Barn in Clear Lake and they tell me a 700x28 will fit and Specialized makes an Armadillo tire in that size for $45 each.  Here's the link to the 700x28 Armadillo tire:

Most road bikes don't have the typical attachment points for racks but there are racks made that clamp to the rear fork.... such as Old Man Mountain...


and finally I'm looking at panniers (basically they're saddlebags for your bike that mount to the aforementioned rack) Here'a a store that specializes in bicycle touring racks and panniers.

http://www.thetouringstore.com/

Goal #5: Secure Sponsorship - Advertising Revenue - Donations to cover expenses for Leg 3. 

This one may actually be the most difficult.... these are tough times.... companies have cut back.... sponsorship and advertising budgets are smaller and are being scrutinized more closely to obtain the most bang for the buck... and the public is cutting back on its budget for "discretionary spending". 

But you know what....I'm still gonna try.... I'm coming up on my 1000th post to this blog.... I've got nearly 50 videos on YouTube.... some instructional.... some documentary.... and some just plain fun and entertaining....

http://www.youtube.com/

Just enter "WillsOnWheels" in the Search window at the top and you'll pull up a listing of all my videos.

Here are links to videos on YouTube that document my adventure so far:

Leg 1 Lake Jackson Tx to Fort Worth Tx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OreLXBGv9n8

Leg 2 Part 1 Ft Worth Tx to Lake Mineral Wells State Park

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfXgqyMb5-k

Leg 2 Part 2 Lake Mineral Wells State Park to Clovis NM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08MbQuJuqlM

Leg 2 Part 3 Clovis NM to SW of Anton Chico NM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfjJf_dvMzE

Leg 2 Part 4 SW of Anton Chico NM to Santa Fe NM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfLsfawzFdU

I'm gonna do Leg 3.... with or without outside funding....


But if you feel like you've been entertained in any way or learned something or just laughed at some of the stuff I do or write about, please consider making a donation by clicking on the "Donate" button at the top of the blog.  It's done through PayPal and is quick and easy to do.

Here's a link to a post where I detailed out all the expenses for Leg 1 and Leg 2 to give you some idea of what it cost.

http://willsonwheels.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-it-costs-to-discover-america-on-2.html

Just scroll down once the window comes out and you can read the post.

I've also added a section at the top of the blog with links to:

  • an "Introduction to Discovering America on 2 Wheels" - this is a letter I send out via e-mail to familiarize folks with the origin, background and content of this blog and the journey it chronicles.
  • a "Welcome to New Readers" - a follow up discussion of the ride, the blog and how to more effectively navigate and enjoy it.
  • the aforementioned post on "What it Costs to Discover America on 2 Wheels".
And if you don't wanna donate or just don't have the extra money... that's fine too... just sit back and enjoy the ride...

Discovering America on 2 Wheels is a Snapshot and Summary of Who I am and What I do and What I Like and What I Don't Like and How I Think and How I live My Life and a Whole Lot More!

It's not for everybody.... but I think if you spend some time reading this blog and watching the videos, you'll come away with something of value...

Maybe you'll even find yourself on your own journey of ....

Discovering America on 2 Wheels

Monday, February 15, 2010

Introduction to "Discovering America on 2 Wheels"

Hi! Some of you have known me a long time, some of you I just met in the last month…. some of you have never heard of me. My name is William Miller and I just completed a wonderful bicycle adventure from my hometown of Lake Jackson Tx (south of Houston on the Gulf Coast) to where my son lives in a northeast suburb of Fort Worth - North Richland Hills.

I took a northwesterly route through the Hill Country of Texas to Inks Lake State Park about 50 miles northwest of Austin and then turned northward along Highway 281N and then bending northeastward on 67 N and then I35 into Fort Worth. The trip ended up being a little over 500 miles. I camped out in state parks, stayed in economy motels and even spent one night under a gazebo in a guy’s yard in Adamsville, Tx.

Some people may call my bicycle trek a Sabbatical…. others may call it a case of middle age crisis….. still others may just call it crazy and stupid…. for me it was just time.

I’ve been an avid cyclist off and on over the last 9 years beginning as a way to lose weight and get back in shape, then as a way to spend time with my son (who I did a couple of 100 mile rides with) and always using it as a way to just get out, exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.

Over the last couple of years, my weight had crept up, my blood pressure was higher than it should have been, my chronically painful left knee was getting to the point of causing a limp, my attitude was as painful as my knee and it was getting to the point where it was time…. to do something. I’ve never been a big believer in gradual change and I’m not a big fan of medicine and surgery….. I’m more of a “set an impossible goal and die trying – if it don’t kill you, it’ll cure you” sort of guy.

My family and I had spent Thanksgiving camping out at Inks Lake State Park – a beautiful Hill Country park 50 miles northwest of Austin – which we have visited many times over the past 12 years. I had brought my mountain bike with me and spent one day riding the roads leading into the park. I returned from my ride with a hair-brained idea….. I had my bike…. I had my clothes and gear – why not just leave from Inks Lake State Park and ride from there to my son’s house in Ft Worth? My wife could drive my truck back to Lake Jackson. I could visit my son, fly back out of Dallas and he could bring my bike when he came down for Christmas… sounded reasonable to me. Well, that idea survived a few sentences of discussion with my wife who wisely advised me that I needed to drive us back home and approach such an endeavor with a little more thought and planning. It’s funny how reason and hair-brained ideas seem to always come in conflict with each other. Reason won the day…… for a few days.

The week after Thanksgiving found me working through the logistics in my mind, looking over a Texas map, calculating distances, making lists and plotting my revenge on reason. By Friday of that week, my itinerary was roughed out, my clothes and gear were laid out and I had bought a seat post mounted rack for my bike and bolted an 8-gallon Action Packer to it. Not pretty but functional. Camping supplies, bike supplies and food and eating related items went in the Action Packer and clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and an 8x10 tarp went in a backpack…… Action Packer on the back of the bike…. backpack on the back of me…. all 3 items went on a Trek 3700 Mountain bike – a moderately priced, sturdy mountain bike I’d been riding for a couple of years. Now for the grand delusion….. who wants to ride a bike with 25 lbs on the back of the bike and 35 lbs in a backpack from Inks Lake State Park to Fort Worth when they can ride it from Lake Jackson to Inks Lake State Park and then to Fort Worth….. double the distance – double the fun – right?…… if it was a good idea before it had to be a great idea now! Now you know how things like this get started…

So….at 12:30 pm Sunday, December 6th, I left Lake Jackson in a slow drizzle knowing only a beginning point and an end point with 510 reasons to make a left at the next block, ride the circle back around to my house, ease up into the driveway, walk the bike into the garage, go back into the house, get a beer, sit down and watch a football game…. but I didn’t. I kept pedaling…. in the rain…. in the sun... in the wind... and I found something in the next town, in the next mile, over the next hill and at the bottom of the last pedal stroke.

I found out I wasn’t as old as I thought I was. I found out it doesn’t take a lot of money, expensive equipment and expert advice to have a really unique, once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventure. I found out there are a lot of pretty places I hadn’t seen in Texas. I learned about the history of Texas. I ate at some the best places in Texas and they weren’t 5-star restaurants and it didn’t cost me $20 a plate. I discovered that the entrepreneurial spirit was still alive and well in America. I realized how hard small town Texas and the small businessman has been hit by the recent economic crisis. I found that hospitality, generosity and the willingness to help a stranger was not a thing of the past but was alive and well in the hearts, minds and lives of people I met all along my 500 mile route….. I was the victim of several random acts of kindness…. People offered their time and expertise and shared their conversation and property with a 47-year old bearded stranger riding a bicycle by their little corner of America. As the miles ticked away with each turn of the wheel, I found my cynicism, the pain in my left knee and my extra weight slowly but surely melting away. Yeah, there were a few jerks along the way that seemed to have a death wish for cyclists, but by and large, I found hard-working, kind and helpful people who accepted me at face value….. it may sound corny or sentimental….. but in the end, I found hope…. Things are bad, but people are good…. and sometimes doing something crazy and seemingly impossible is the best way to find good in others….. and in yourself.

I’ve earned a living as a chemical engineer but I’ve always loved the outdoors and I’ve always had a passion for writing and photography. When I’d completed my bicycle trip, I started putting together a chronicle of my trip with the cell phone text messages, pictures and audio that I had sent my family along with some added commentary on unique elements of the trip as well as points of interest and people I met and the businesses they run. At some point, I realized that I not only enjoyed myself on my trip but I also enjoyed writing about it. You probably know where this is going….. a blog!

My wife’s nick-name for me is “Wills”. When I told my son and his fiance’ about my bicycling blog, my future daughter-in-law suggested “WillsOnWheels” for a blog address.

So over the course of a few days, I input all the text messages, pictures and commentary from my 12/6 – 12/19/09 510 mile bicycle trek to my blog:

http://WillsOnWheels.blogspot.com/

I hope you take the time to visit my blog and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together and living the unique experience it documents. Whether you are an avid cyclist or a person who enjoys learning about good places to eat or someone who just likes to read about the fun and exciting things that happen to you on a cross-country bicycle trip, I think you’ll find something of interest…. maybe something that makes you smile…. makes you mad…. makes you cry….. or just makes you think.

My ultimate goal is to continue this journey of discovery of self and surroundings - to push myself to the limits in a self propelled tour of America. I want to bring the sights, sounds, tastes, and towns of America to those who make it what it is – a great country with great people and beautiful scenery!

It may seem kind of crazy, but right now this mountain-bike-pedaling, backpack-hauling, 18-wheeler-dodging, diner-sampling, small-town-touring, hill-climbing-and-bicycle-overhauling, state park-and-rest stop-cruising adventure is a big part of my life. And even crazier, I'm considering the idea of turning it into a living... my wife is sharing anecdotes from my bike trip with a whole group of friends and co-workers, and, apparently, people want to hear more. She said I should try my hand at "adventure journalism". I plan to explore different formats, venues and approaches.

The blog is my first step - a travel log with pictures, observations and opinions, reviews and commentary on anything and everything I do, come in contact with or use – mechanics and logistics of bicycling cross country, towns I go through, terrain I ride over, parks I stay at, hiking and biking trails I go on, equipment I use, points of interest I visit, places of business I come across, restaurants and caf├ęs I eat at and motels I stay at.

I’d also like to write newspaper or magazine-type stories and reports from the field, or even a narrative or short stories or a book.

The idea is about as crazy as riding 500 miles across Texas on a bicycle in the winter time when I first set out on December 6, in a cold rain, hunched over my bike, with little shelter from my backpack, itself wrapped up in a plastic lawn and leaf bag, with ends flapping in the wind behind me. But I was game for that adventure, and it more than met my expectations. So I might as well check out a crazy new career path, and explore if there actually is an interested audience out there.

And guess what…. I didn’t stop in Ft Worth Tx…. I just completed the 2nd leg of my Discovering of America on 2 Wheels, a 750 mile ride west across northern Texas and into New Mexico ending in the state capital of Santa Fe NM. That grand adventure is chronicled with another 600 posts in my blog!

I’ll be beginning my 3rd leg soon…. Wanna know where I’m riding to? Here’s a hint…. Think “Bright Lights… Big City…and... Movie Stars!”

If you’d like to follow along with me on this wild and wacky bicycle quest to Discover America – it’s as easy as accessing my blog:

http://WillsOnWheels.blogspot.com/

and I also have videos on YouTube that can be accessed by YouTube Keyword "WillsOnWheels".

Using the latest in Verizon Wireless Products, Services and Technology, I make real-time inputs to the blog by submitting the text, pictures and video straight from the road or trail from my Verizon Wireless cell phone. At the end of the day, I’ll fill in the details of the day and provide a more extensive description and commentary of the day’s events using a VZW Gateway Netbook. This is a work in progress and I’m learning the tools, techniques and technology of doing something like this as I go…. so please bear with me and feel free to submit comments and suggestions to my blog and become a Follower. Finding out what works and doesn’t work is part of the fun of it.

Feel free to forward this information to anyone you think would be interested in riding along with me on my blog.

Thanks in advance for your support…..and I’ll see you down the road while we're

Discovering America on 2 Wheels.

William Miller
Discovering America on 2 Wheels
Cell: 979-285-7219
E-mail: arhth1@yahoo.com
Blog: http://WillsOnWheels.blogspot.com/
YouTube Keyword: “WillsOnWheels”



Doing a little prep work on some pork loin

Randall's - my local grocery store - ran the pork loin on special again so I bought $4.34 of it and... 1) Cut off the sinew - 2) Cut cross grain into 3/4" thick wafers - 3) Lightly coated w/ olive oil - 4) Dusted w/ meat tenderizer, salt, pepper and garlic salt in that order - 5) Will seal up and put in fridge for Quick Fix skillet dishes for the next couple of days... total prep time... < 5 minutes... took me longer to text this message!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sounds of Brazos Bend Video 2

video

And finally..... the sounds of Brazos Bend.... Video 1

The Red-winged Blackbirds, Coots and Grackles were creating a symphony of sound as the day at Brazos Bend came to a close...


video

I've lived here 25 years and been to Brazos Bend countless times....

And I've never seen the park more beautiful and alive as it was today... the high water had flushed out all the debris and the water was clear and the sun and clear water combined to create imagery of Brazos Bend I had never seen before.... with reflections and shapes that combined reality with reflection....