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Bike MS Training: August 29 & 30 – Almost time for Bike MS Rock’n Hot!

Next weekend is my biggest training weekend, the weekend I ride 100 miles, all in one day! The Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride is the following weekend and it goes from Little Rock, AR to Hot Springs and back over two days. Normally, Bike MS events have a 100 mile option for the Saturday route, but this ride somehow does not. What it does have is a lot of climbing on both days, for a total of 140 miles, and 8,000 feet of elevation gain between the two days. To make up for the lack of a 100 mile option, I will ride 100 next weekend, and it’s going to be a one way ride, so prepare yourself for too many biking photos. This weekend I rode 80 miles out east on familiar roads to get ready and then on Sunday another 40 miles of hills.

This year, I ride Bike MS in memory of my godmother Barbara Hoffman who died of the progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis in December 2014. She was diagnosed with the disease when I was young and I watched it progressively devastate her life from that point on. Please consider supporting my 8th annual Bike MS ride and helping to put an end to MS by donating to the National MS Society.

And now for some photos from my rides. I started out Saturday morning as the sun was rising to beat the heat. The sunrise was lovely because of some wispy clouds in the sky. None of my photos do it justice, of course.

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I headed southeast from home and hit a short section of the southern walnut creek trail. If you look closely, you can see a sliver of Decker Lake in this photo.DCIM100GOPRO

Throughout the ride, I saw these white flowers, which looked like wild garlic, except normally a wild garlic stalk is a single stalk. These flowers were part of a many branch stalk plant.DCIM100GOPRO

For the first time I went by the entrance to the Travis County East Metro Park. It was a very nice, new park. I think I’ll take my dog back there for a walk sometime.

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There’s a horse hiding in this photo. Can you find it?

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I rode on a few roads I’ve never been on before and was chased by 5 dogs! It always is saddening to see that people just let their dogs free range like that. What if they get hit by a car while chasing a cyclist down the street?? I also saw a few tied up to really short chains which makes me even sadder… poor doggies. I didn’t get photos of any of the dogs that chased me since I was busy worrying about whether they were dangerous (they weren’t). I did get a photo of 4 dogs that were properly fenced in and not on short chains. What, you can’t find the 4th? Look up on the porch!

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The same section of the ride that had all the dogs also had many chickens. It seemed like every house had a sizable flock. It was a challenge to get a photo of chickens in the yards with my GoPro, but I think this one worked out:

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Back to roads I’ve ridden before – and an old rusty bridge next to a new concrete bridge:DCIM100GOPRO

This field had so many giant round hay bales.DCIM100GOPRO

Wispy clouds over a giant country house:DCIM100GOPRO

I went through the small town of Elgin so I could stock up on water. It has a cute little train station in the downtown square.

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Saturdays are some sort of market days which were just getting set up when I rode by. On the right is some old canon with a plaque. I should go back and explore sometime.DCIM100GOPRO

Elgin city hall is a lovely brick building:DCIM100GOPRO

Texas country side roads, complete with cow.DCIM100GOPRO

Passed a large group of cyclists:DCIM100GOPRO

The water tower has a smiley face!DCIM100GOPRO

Small town church and water tower in Lund, TX.DCIM100GOPRO

My ride ended on familiar roads, so I didn’t take many more photos. I rode 80 miles, averaging over 16 mpg. It was a good ride and I was thankful for the cool temperatures and cloudy skies on the first part of the ride.

On Sunday, I rode a very familiar route on Loop 360. I’ve been using this for hills often lately so I didn’t take many photos.

At the corner of Amherst and Adelphi, there’s a really lovely new community garden:

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Loop 360 houses on the ridge, lit up nicely by the morning sun:DCIM100GOPRO

There looked to be a small brush fire on 360, a collection of fire trucks and police cars were around:DCIM100GOPRO

A small view of downtown:DCIM100GOPRO

Sunday’s ride was a hilly 40 miles.

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Bike MS Training August 22 & 23: Ride those hills

My Bike MS event is drawing closer, only two more training weekends left! The Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride goes from Little Rock, AR to Hot Springs and back over two days, 140 miles, and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. I’ve been getting serious about riding the hills around Austin so I can be prepared for all of that climbing. This weekend I rode 112 miles with 6,900 ft of elevation gain to get ready. I ride in memory of my godmother Barbara Hoffman who died of the progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis in December 2014. Please consider supporting my 8th annual Bike MS ride and helping me meet my fundraising goal by donating to the National MS Society.

Saturday’s ride was a new route to me, heading due south from home into a decent headwind. The winds have been light these last few weekends so I was definitely spoiled and sad to deal with stronger winds again. I rode two extremely steep climbs, one to get off of loop 360 at its southern end and the other was coming up Barton Creek Blvd to get on 2244. I think I would have fallen off my bike if I tried to dismount and walk up either hill.

I started off just after 7 am with the sun just beginning to show itself.

Sunrise over Mopac

Sunrise over Mopac

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Sunrise on Loop 360

The morning sun illuminated the enormous houses on the hills along 360. DCIM100GOPRO

The view to the west while crossing the 360 bridge:DCIM100GOPRO

I triggered the speed sign! I wasn’t speeding though…DCIM100GOPRO

Nice south Austin neighborhood:DCIM100GOPRO

Part of my ride went along the very southern end of Mopac to where it ends, passing the Slaughter Lane Alamo and this awesome artwork on the side of the building:DCIM100GOPRO

Part of the southern end of Mopac is fittingly sponsored by the Salt Lick:DCIM100GOPRO

I rode on (bike) Route 66!DCIM100GOPRO

I took a meandering route through some neighborhoods off of Southwest Parkway. Through these stone gates are where the really really big houses live:DCIM100GOPRO

What you can’t see about this enormous house is that to the left is a covered walkway connecting to a whole other building, about as big as my house. Huge!DCIM100GOPRO

Pretty view along Southwest Parkway:DCIM100GOPRO

I turned on to Barton Creek Blvd and enjoyed some really nice rolling hill riding with beautiful scenery:DCIM100GOPRO

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And then came the climb. So steep I wasn’t sure if I would stay on my bike. Luckily I did and I made it to the top to 2244. This picture of the top of the hill does not do it justice.

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From there I headed over to loop 360 and back north to home for a 72 mile ride.

On Sunday I wanted to ride hills again, so I rode out and back on 360 for 40 miles.

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Bull creek from one of the bridges:DCIM100GOPRO

Midway Food Park, towards the southern end of 360:DCIM100GOPRO

Big house up on a ridge:  DCIM100GOPRO

360 bridge and Lake Austin:DCIM100GOPRO

My legs were definitely worn out after Saturday’s hills, but I’m glad I got in good hills on Sunday as well. After warming up for a bit on a few hills they stopped complaining.

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Bike training August 15 & 16: Riding surprises

Only three more training weekends left until the Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride which goes from Little Rock, AR to Hot Springs and back over two days, 140 miles, and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. I ride in memory of my godmother Barbara Hoffman who died of Multiple Sclerosis in December 2014. Please consider supporting my 8th annual Bike MS ride and helping me meet my fundraising goal by donating to the National MS Society.

This Saturday I followed a similar route as last Saturday, doing a version of the Dam(n) Loop so that I could ride hills. Luckily, this weekend it was about 5 degrees cooler than last weekend when I complained about the heat in my post. That cooler (but still hot) weather was accompanied by some great clouds.

I started my ride at 7 am with the sunrise.

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There were lots of clouds around creating a picturesque sky hard to capture with my GoPro.

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The green landscape, blue sky, and clouds made the ride down loop 360 very pretty:DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

Once on Bee Caves I realized I saw some spots of rain in the distance. First I thought “yay, rain!” Then I thought “Wait, I might have to ride through that…”

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And not too long after making the turn onto 620, it happened. I got rained on. But the sky wasn’t completely covered in clouds so I knew it wouldn’t last that long, and it didn’t.DCIM100GOPRO

I even got to see a rainbow behind me!

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Which was nice because not very long after that the annoying happened. Rear flat!

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After getting to the north end of 620, I snaked through some neighborhoods in Cedar Park to hit Lakeline Blvd and ended up in Leander.

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I hit a different section of the new paved trail along the 183 toll road. It is wide and pretty smooth except for when you hit some wood bridges!

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The trail goes by Cedar Park Center, home of the Texas Stars.DCIM100GOPRO

I exited the trail at the same point as I did last week, but coming from the north this time.DCIM100GOPRO

Saturday’s ride was not nearly as hot as last week’s ride because of the cloud cover and rain. I averaged 16 mph over the 72 mile, 3,500 fit elevation gain route.

On Sunday, I had a volunteer orientation at the Austin Animal Center so I used that as my bike ride. I rode there and back for a total of 37 miles round trip.

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Making Blueberry Chia Jam

It must be blueberry season. They’ve been abundant at the grocery store and I can’t stop buying them. I can only eat so many with breakfast and my summer Vegetarian Times magazine had a collection of blueberry recipes. I made the blueberry chia jam – it’s a refrigerator jam with only minimal sugar so it’s much healthier than store bought jam.

I followed the recipe and didn’t add any extra maple syrup after it cooled. If I make this again, I’ll probably use our vast supply of honey to sweeten the jam.BlueberryJam-2 BlueberryJam-3 BlueberryJam-4This was my first experience cooking with chia seeds. They thickened the jam, but are soft and you can’t even tell that you’re eating them.BlueberryJam-5

It was great on toast, either plain or over some cream cheese. I also drizzled some extra honey over the jam sometimes when I wanted it to be sweeter. I’d definitely make this recipe again.BlueberryJam-6 BlueberryJam-7

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Bike training August 8 & 9: Is summer over yet?

It’s my 8th year training for, and riding in, a Bike MS event. This year, I’m riding the Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride which goes from Little Rock, AR to Hot Springs and back over two days, 140 miles, and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. I ride in memory of my godmother Barbara Hoffman who died of Multiple Sclerosis in December 2014. Please consider supporting my 8th annual Bike MS ride and helping me meet my fundraising goal by donating to the National MS Society.

This weekend I realized that this heat is here to stay. We had such a nice, long, mild spring with lots of rain and now we’re paying the price with 100+ degree days and brutal sun. I try to get my long rides done by noon (and even then it’s hot hot hot) so I have to start early, just as the sun is coming up around 7 am. Maybe next weekend I’ll slap on the bike lights and start earlier. Saturday’s ride was 70 hot, hilly miles to help me prep for lots of climbing in Arkansas.

Good morning, sun:DCIM100GOPRO

Starting south on loop 360:DCIM100GOPROThe clouds were a welcome sight in the morning, keeping the sun off of me for a while:DCIM100GOPRO

Riding along a ridge with good views:DCIM100GOPRO

Picked up my late grandfather’s favorite snack at the gas station since I didn’t have enough bike jersey pocket foods at home. Brought back some memories.DCIM100GOPRO

This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the lake was beautifully sparkly as I approached the bridge in front of Mansfield Dam:DCIM100GOPRO

After making it all the way north on 620, I took a turn to the north on Anderson Mill. Eventually I made my way over to the 183 toll road and took a brief turn onto the new pedestrian and bike trail. Pretty nice! Could use some more shade though.DCIM100GOPRONext I rode on a road I haven’t tried before, up in Cedar Park. It seems new with small trees and a very wide sidewalk:DCIM100GOPROThen I entered the land of the enormous suburban high school sports stadiums:DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

I made it home right around noon, at which point it was definitely too hot.

On Sunday I rode 30 miles around town. I went over on Jollyville Rd and then through the Arboretum and used the bike path the connects from Barnes & Noble over across loop 360:DCIM100GOPRO

Mesa Drive has relatively fresh bike lines, including a dotted line wherever there is a driveway indicating it’s ok to turn through the bike lane. Seemed a bit overkill.

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Shoal Creek Blvd is having massive utilities work done and has a bunch of detours leading me down a road I’ve not been on before. Love the Purple Martin Houses and the pretty red standing cypress flowers at this house:DCIM100GOPRO

I will focus on ride more hills on my next few Sunday rides to make sure I can handle two days of decent climbing in a row!

Blueberry, lemon, honey & thyme infused vodka

Blueberries have been everywhere in the grocery store lately, and they’re delicious, so I infused some with lemon slices, honey from our bee hive, and thyme from our garden.

I tried it tonight, and it’s delicious. I made a light drink with Topo Chico, a squeeze of lemon, the vodka infusion and Creme de Cassis, garnished with a few raspberries. Yum!

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