Bike MS Training, April 12 – 13: A windy weekend

And the countdown continues, only 2 more training weekends before Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas during the first weekend of May! The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway, 86 and 67 miles respectively. This is my 7th year participating in a Bike MS ride, fundraising for the National MS Society in honor of my godmother and other family members that have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis. If you can, please consider making a donation in support of my participation.

This weekend the wind was strong both days, blowing out of the south. For my long ride on Saturday, I planned a route that headed east from my house and then south pretty quickly, meandering through the outskirts of Austin down to Buda and then heading straight north. It was a ride full of surprises. Take a look at my photos while I remember the surprises.

The wildflowers were everywhere. Bluebonnets behind the fence, yellow flowers near the road:

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At some point at the beginning of my ride, a large truck drove by with a Rottweiler hanging out the passenger window. Just as it passed me, the dog barked at me. I’m lucky I stayed on my bike. The BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin was this weekend, and I saw this sign in preparation for the riders rolling into Austin on Sunday.

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Bluebonnets and Indian Paint brushes at MLK and 183:

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I passed the Yellow Bike Project headquarters on Webberville:

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A fancy ice cream food truck passed me:

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A guy and his dog skateboarding along 5th street:

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Crossing town lake:

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More wildflowers:

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Pink winecups:

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Farm land:

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The yellow flowers are Engelmann’s Daisies.

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Blue sky, green trees:

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The wind on this stretch of road was coming at my side and I had multiple moments of wondering what would happen when it blew my bike out from under me. The trees provided a bit of a wind break from time to time.

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I crossed I-35 in Buda:

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A place call Cleveland’s! No idea what it is, but it’s on the main drag in Buda.

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My route called for me to ride up South First Street. I thought it had bike lanes, but it didn’t. I made the decision to cut over to South Congress instead. About the time I hit South Congress, I realized my bike wasn’t shifting the front derailler. It took me a bit, but I finally figured out the battery in my electronic shifting system (Shimano Ultegra di2) was dying. Apparently I hadn’t checked it in about two weeks. The good news is that the rear derailler continued to shift for the rest of my ride, which is more important then the front derailler anyhow. I’ve only charged the system twice in the year I owned it, so it’s hard to remember to check it.

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I crossed Lady Bird Lake on the pedestrian bridge only to find a surprise on the other side – a festival had closed down my route so it took me a bit of time to figure out the best way to get around it.

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A new painting on the railroad bridge:

 

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I finally made it home after 73 miles of adventure and headwind.

On Sunday, it was also windy so I headed out for a 30 mile ride around town. I didn’t take any photos because you’ve basically seen the route plenty of times before :)

 

 

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Bike MS Training: April 5 – 6: Spokes N Spurs ride

And the countdown continues, only 3 more training weekends before Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas during the first weekend of May. The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway. This is my 7th year participating in a Bike MS ride, fundraising for the National MS Society in honor of my godmother and other family members that have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis. If you can, please consider making a donation in support of my participation.

This weekend I rode the Spokes N Spurs, a ride benefitting Spirit Reins Ranch. Spirit Reins transforms the lives of children and families impacted by abuse, neglect and other trauma by healing the past, strengthening families and communities, and building hope for the future. While not the first time I did this ride, it was the first time in quite a while. It’s a good ride, well-supported and goes through nice country roads out of Liberty Hill, Texas. Saturday was cool, with a chance of rain. I ended up wearing a jacket and did not regret it.

The ride starts in the dirt driveway of the ranch:

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Two horses were out to send us off:

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Small country road:

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Ranch gate with bluebonnets to the right:

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Bluebonnets amongst the rocks:

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Oh the things you see, fire hydrants lining a driveway:

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There were times it felt like I could see for miles – this was looking out over a small valley:

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Two horses checking me out:

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About halfway through the ride, the skies starting getting very interesting…

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We rode under a couple of railroad tunnels / bridges made out of black railroad wood:

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A bike and bluebonnets:

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We went through the non-existent town of Oatmeal, TX.

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Ominous skies. I did not get rained on, luckily, but the wind really picked up when we were near the dark clouds.

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Bike selfie at a rest stop:

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The skies from the rest stop:

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The Oatmeal Cemetery and some great sky:

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Some fluffy sheep, some shorn sheep:

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I added a few extra miles at the end of the ride to meet my training plan. I ended up riding 67 miles on Saturday.

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Bike MS Training: March 29 – 30th, checking out Salado

One month to go! In just four weeks, at the beginning of May, I’ll be riding the Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas. Please consider making a donation in support of my participation! The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend I decided to try a “new-to-me” charity ride: The Salado Smokin’ Spokes, a ride that benefits the Salado Volunteer Fire Department. I headed up to Salado early on Saturday morning to ride 70 miles. It was clear, but cool, so I had to wear leg and arm warmers ( on top of a warm long sleeve base layer.)

A picture from the starting line:

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There was a guy at the start that was riding a recumbent that had a yellow plastic shield with a cloth yellow covering. It was weird. It reminded me of the banana bike that I sometimes see in Austin.

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The ride started and we crossed I-35 on an “under construction” portion. Somehow I managed to not start my Garmin on time. The course on the other side of the interstate was beautiful.

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This ride was especially interesting in the way that the riders were all grouped for the majority of the ride. In many charity rides, I end up riding along for much of the ride, but I was basically never alone during this ride.

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Bright red barn:

 

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Random hill:

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Can you see the lake in the distance? It’s called Stillhouse Hollow lake.

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A retreat for patriots. Non-patriots need not apply.

 

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Lake close-up:

 

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For awhile we road along the recently repaved frontage road of 190. It wasn’t too bad actually, because there was very little traffic on it.

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Bluebonnets!

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The lake, again. I caught up with the group of cyclists in this photo and basically got a good draft off and on for the rest of the ride.

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Lovely country road. I didn’t get a good picture, but there were tons of bluebonnets in the fields along this road.

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A fence made out of bicycles:

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The view from one of the rest stops – their was a very large special events and conference center spread out along this road. In front of the building in this photo is a stream with a little waterfall.

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Horses:

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We ended up a dirt road for a while towards the very end of the ride:

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Church, waterfall, and picnic tables:

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The view from the park where we started and ended the ride, it looked like special events / wedding venue across the stream:

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I ended Saturday’s ride with a sandwich at a cafe in Salad0 and a chai latte. I think that chai latte was the best I’ve ever had. Of course, biking lots of miles does strange things to my taste buds. I rode 68 miles in all.

 

On Sunday it was very windy again and I headed south from my house for a ride through the neighborhoods.

A modern house that catches the eye on Shoal Creek blvd:

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Love the big agave plants:

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The view across Shoal Creek into some backyards:

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The pedestrian bridge that connects Far West with Shoal Creek:

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I rode 25 miles on Sunday.

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Bike MS Training, March 22 – 23: Rosedale ride

My training continues for the Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas during the first weekend of May. The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Rosedale ride, a fundraiser for the Rosedale School, the only AISD for children with multiple disabilities. I’ve done this ride almost every year since I’ve started riding, and they always have the best volunteers and route assistance. Every turn marked, often with volunteers in costume to point us in the right direction, great rest stops, and plenty of SAG vehicles.

While the forecast said the morning would be warm with almost no wind, there was definitely a wind out of the south, but I was still able to average 17.5 mph. The course was a bit different this year and the roads were not nearly as bumpy as I remember.

Saturday morning was dreary, and a bit damp. The traffic was bad getting into the ride at Samsung Semiconductor, so they started us 15 minutes late. At least we had the UT band to entertain us. You can see their tubas in the background. They played Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and then I proceeded to have that song in my  head for the entire 62 mile ride.

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At the start location – Samsung out on Parmer Lane.

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The first of many cows hanging out along the road.

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The route was well-marked with signs and volunteers.

 

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I ran into a friend along the route, wearing an awesome pink and green kit.

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I passed a rural Cessna airport. You can see the windsock and how the “no wind” prediction was a lie.

 

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Countryside railroad crossing

 

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Donkeys!

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Quaint little farm

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Riding into Coupland, TX:

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Downtown Coupland, as far as I can tell:

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The rest stop in Coupland was staffed with boy scouts. The cutest little Cub Scout was shouting to us about water, gatorade, and free snacks. See him there in the blue?

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The Coupland rest stop:

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House with a white picket fence, on Manda Carlson Road, out in the country:

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Rest stop on Manda Carlson Road, at the old two room school house:

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The New Sweden Church:

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And the cemetery just a bit further down the road:

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Windmill:

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The last rest stop, at a church:

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The last turn on the route had volunteers all dressed up and cheering:

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The finish line featured a cheer squad from a local school:
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Finish line selfie!

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Sunday’s ride was entirely too windy, with a cool northernly wind. I was able to get in 20 miles and felt like I was crawling at few points where it was uphill into the wind. I rode north to the Wells Branch neighborhood and took a few photos of the nice park trails.

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Bike MS Training, March 15 – 16: The ride must go on…

Well, it was a rough weekend for biking. At least I finally got my Bike MS fundraising page up! In case you missed it, I’m riding the Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas during the first weekend of May. The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway. My in-laws live in Fort Worth, so it will be great to know some spectators again.

The forecast for this past Saturday called for rain, but not until noon. Even as I left that house at 8:30 am, the forecast said rain at noon. I left in a fog / light mist. As I went further north, the fog and mist got worse. By about mile 5 I’d call it light rain. From there, it basically alternated between mist to actual rain for almost the entire ride. I hit one dry spot as I rode over the Mansfield Dam on my Dam Loop route. You don’t get any photos because of safety, I was too busy hanging on to my handle bars. I was drenched when I got home, but at least I rode 52 miles. Later that day, as I enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon at SXSW, I silently cursed those weather forecasters.

On Sunday, the forecast called for a cold front with blow-you-down winds to roll in. When I woke up, the winds weren’t supposed to start for about 90 minutes. However, 30 minutes later after I finished breakfast and went out on my ride, it was windy. And dreary. At least I only had to ride 20 miles, right? Well, at mile 6 I heard my front wheel hissing… fourth flat in 3 weeks! Just after I changed my rear tire so that I wouldn’t flat anymore this training season… and my front gets a flat. It was hissing, but only slowly losing air. I found the source of hiss, and there was almost no mark on my tire. I pulled out the tube with the slightest puncture and decided to “boot” the tire with a dollar bill so that if there was something on the inside of the tire (even though I couldn’t feel anything) it wouldn’t cause another flat. It was so windy that as I tried to install the new tube, the dollar blew away and I had no idea where it was supposed to go. Oh well. I pumped up the tire and rode on, into a cold and nasty headwind.

Luckily, the new tube held and I eventually turned out of the headwind and took a few photos for you. It was such a relief to turn into the Balcones / Spicewood neighborhood.

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The neighborhood has a golf course.

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Some of the houses I ride by in this neighborhood are amazing. This one was recently redone:

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This one is being renovated and will be on the market soon, choose your paint colors now! (It says that on the sign, if you can see it)

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I love the eclectic architecture in this neighborhood. Some houses are obviously different, like this one. On one street, there’s even a house that looks like a castle!

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As I came out of the neighborhood onto Jollyville Road, the sky became blue… and I could see how the wind was pushing the clouds out. It was pretty awesome.

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This was a really spectacular view, with the sun just on the edge of the cloud line:

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On the road that brought me into my neighborhood, the clouds were all spread out.

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And luckily I made it home without any more flats. I guess I’ll be changing that front tire too because I would like to avoid flats for the remainder of this training season!

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Bike training, March 8 – 9: Everything that can go wrong…

It was a crappy weekend for my bike training. I’m getting ready for the Bike MS: Sam’s Club Ride up in the DFW area at the beginning of May so it’s important that I am able to get in my bike rides. Saturday was rainy and in the low 60s. When I decided to go out riding, it wasn’t raining yet, but I knew it would so I headed down to the Veloway to ride loops in case it started pouring – I could quickly and easily get back to my car because each loop is only 3 miles long. However, once I got there I realized I didn’t have my bike shoes. Since I can’t ride without them, back home I went to grab them. I blame the muscle relaxers I’ve been taking after straining my neck Thursday evening while riding my bike downtown. Really. And rain it did… my first loop was only misty but halfway through my second loop, it was definitely raining. I was able to keep riding until my last loop (miles 21 – 24) when the wind picked up and I got quite cold. I called it quits at that point, at a much shorter distance than I was hoping. I was drenched from head to toe. I didn’t get photos because of the rain.

Sunday started out cold and windy. After checking that my shoes were dry from Saturday, I looked at that weather and saw that later in the day it would warm up and the wind would die down. Because of that I waited to leave until about 1 pm. I headed north on Parmer Lane into a light headwind, hopeful that I would have a great tailwind on my way home.

The day started out very dreary, but at least it wasn’t raining. It was cold so I was bundled up.

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Eventually I was able to spot bits of blue in the sky. I always love this part of this route… you see the road forever in front of you.

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At mile 19 I realized my rear tire was low and slowly leaking… the same tire that went flat last weekend. I changed the tube and successfully filled up the tire with a CO2 cartridge and was on my way.

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If that were the end of my story, this wouldn’t have been a bad ride. But oh no. I kept going on Parmer to try to reach my turn around point at 25 miles, but at mile 22.5 I realized my rear wheel looked kinda low. I turned around right away so that I wouldn’t be stranded quite so far from home if the tire indeed went flat again. I pulled over and put the rest of my CO2 into the tire. At that time, a kind stranger pulled over and gave me an extra cartridge. Thank goodness, because I had to pull over a few more times to top off the rear tire with that CO2 cartridge. Oh yeah, I passed some llamas but only managed to get a photo of one llama.

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I was able to keep going to mile 35, where there is a conveniently located Bicycle Sport Shop. I went in to use their floor pump and was able to hear a leak as I pumped up the tire. I found a small piece of wire sticking out and removed it. One of the shop employees changed this flat for me. Guess what? The first tube he put in went flat immediately too! The second tube held. And as soon as I got home I ordered a new set of tires. I can’t deal with all of these flats, and I noticed that the tread pattern on the rear wheel was quite worn compared to the front wheel. I rode a total of 45 miles Sunday.

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Making a rustic industrial free-standing corner shelf set

Sometime soon I’m going to share the details of our sitting room and dining room renovation, but for now I’m going to share the set of corner shelves I built. I call them rustic industrial because I left the wood in it’s raw state and I used black metal pipes spray painted oil rubbed bronze as support for the shelves, in the same style as the rustic industrial dog bed I built for my favorite pup. I wanted a set of corner shelves more substantial then the set I had for many years, about 5 feet tall with 5 small shelves in a light oak color. After I sketched out my idea for the new shelves, it took me about a month to find enough time to finish the job.

I used 12″ wide pine boards. I cut 6 sections of one foot and two feet long each so that I could attach the sections together to make corner shelves. This isn’t where I actually cut the boards, but I did use that table saw. I just thought you might enjoy my dog photobombing my picture, like she always does.

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In order to attach the metal pipe to the side of the shelf, I used a 1″ x 2″ pine board to support the shelf. To attach the support board to the shelf, I used a counter sink bit to drill through both boards.

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Counter sink bits:

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Close up of the countersunk screw. Before I stained the wood, I used wood filler to fill the hole.

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After I attached the support board to all of the shelf pieces, it was time to attach the one foot and two foot boards together, but first I had to plan the supports for the bottom shelf so that all of the brackets would fit. I spray painted the hardware with oil rubbed bronze.

 

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To attach the one foot and two foot sections together, I used wood glue and a clamp before putting the screws into the brackets.

 

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After the shelves were assembled, I stained them with TimberSoy Walnut stain and then finished them with quick drying polyurethane. While being watched by my dog.

 

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Attaching supports to the bottom shelf (6″ black metal pipes and floor flanges):

 

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Try to ignore our very messy workbench in the background of this next picture. I assembled the shelf layer by layer, making sure that the shelves were level and that the brackets were attached in relatively the same place. it wasn’t the easiest task. The back corner was supported by threaded rods screwed into something called “ceiling flanges” that were all spray painted with oil rubbed bronze. I used some super glue to lock the threaded rods to the flanges so that they were all the same length. You can see the side supports which are 72″ black metal pipes spray painted oil rubbed bronze.

 

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After the shelves were assembled, I put them in the dining room corner. And then took many photos of them for you to enjoy and to see how they fit in with the other furniture. I haven’t full accessorized the shelves yet.

 

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I took a photo of the dog bed next to the new curtains so you could compare them to the corner shelves and of course the dog chose to lay in her bed at that moment. She’s the best photo bomber :)

 

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