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2016 Bike MS: The Road Divided – ride recap

Well, the big day finally arrived! Last Friday we packed up all my bike stuff, and our dog, into our car and drove straight north on I-35 until we hit Norman, OK (just south of Oklahoma City). Thanks to almost 40 donors and a generous matching donation from my employer, I raised $2,900 for the MS Society! And, it’s not too late to donate if you’re interested. I really can’t thank everyone enough, many who have donated each of the 9 years that I’ve fundraising for the MS Society.

During our drive, we stopped in Fort Worth for lunch with a friend and then in Norman to see a cousin’s new baby. The weather forecast for Sunday was showing a strong chance of thunderstorms, so the ride organizer made the decision Friday afternoon to proactively cancel Sunday for safety reasons. It was quite disappointing, even more so when it didn’t rain at all on Sunday on the route. At least we got rained on during the drive back to Austin.

I rode 100.5 miles on Saturday, the first 70 miles were mostly north, so the strong wind out of the south was incredibly helpful. The 100 mile route went very close to the finish line in Guthrie, and then out northwest to a small town called Crescent. The portion of the ride that went out to Crescent and back was quite difficult… so crossing the finish line was quite the relief.

And now, for the barrage of photos:

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Waiting for the start, wearing last year’s top fundraiser jersey from the Bike MS Arkansas ride

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A view of the start – including the crazy blue bike thing…

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Riding through the Oklahoma University campus

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Oklahoma University castle type building

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Small church on campus

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Sun rising over the cemetery

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Long straight roads

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Some sheep along the side of the road… in a more developed area than you might expect

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We rode next to Tinker Air Force base, which was surrounded by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman

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One of the entrances to the Air Force Base

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Arriving the “lunch” rest stop at mile 44, meeting Carl and Molly

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The rest stop was at a camp building

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There were inspirational signs placed along the route

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Bike path!

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About to cross highways and the Oklahoma River, which is a US Olympics training area

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Oklahoma River

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OKC skyline

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People marching for an unknown (to me) cause, wearing purple shirts

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Old house in downtown

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Another old house

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Approaching the Capitol building with an oil derrick in front of it

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Better view of the oil derrick

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Capitol building

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I saw SO MANY CHURCHES. It put Austin’s church density to shame. In one stretch of road about a mile long, I passed 7 churches!

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Nice smooth road – a welcome change from the mostly bumpy Oklahoma roads

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A little amusement park, gearing up for Halloween – you can sort of see the giant spider on the side of the roller coaster

 

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The views on the roads north of OKC were some of the nicest on the ride

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Pleasant Hill cemetery (with a backwards ‘N’?)

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Old stone house out in the country

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Entering “Historic Guthrie” – this was about 10 miles before I hit the actual downtown area

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Cows

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Second rest stop at mile 70 – just on the outskirts of Guthrie, and right before I started the hardest part of my ride. I was the first rider to hit this rest stop!

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From the rest stop in Guthrie I headed northwest, first crossing the Cimarron river which reminded me of the color of cinnamon

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See? Kinda reddish

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Looking the other direction

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A haunted house on the outskirts of town

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The dirt out here was really red

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Lots of inspirational signs on the 100 mile route

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Horses

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Out towards Crescent, the clouds were really ominous

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But luckily the storm stayed to the west

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I basically alternated between riding straight north and then straight west

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Very red dirt, very dark clouds

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I paused briefly at the rest stop in Crescent and talked to the friendly volunteers

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They had lined the road with signs

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Crescent is not very big…

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I came across these squiggly lines painted on the road from time to time, but have no idea what they mean

 

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Small town cemetery

 

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Red cliffs

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Where’s a good tailwind when you need it? Especially appropriate at this point since I was riding against a pretty heavy headwind for the last 15 miles.

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Back in Guthrie I got to take photos of some old buildings

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Including this bike shop which had a penny farthing out front!

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Downtown Guthrie

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The Oklahoma Territorial Museum

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Getting so close to the finish!

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The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple

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The finish line finally in sight

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If you look closely you can see Carl and Molly behind the guy in the green shirt

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100.5 miles!

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Crossing the finish

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Posing with my favorite dog

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Final Bike MS Training weekend!

I’m getting close to my fundraising goal for Bike MS: The Road Divided! Can you help me meet my goal?

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and next weekend I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease.

For my last big training ride, I headed south to San Marcos so that we could visit the new location of Middleton Brewing. The weather was much hotter than my last few long rides, with high humidity. Hopefully next weekend in Oklahoma is much more pleasant! Saturday’s route totaled 86 miles and had a few detours, but was overall a nice ride.

In order to get to San Marcos at a reasonable time, I left home at 7 am, just as the sun was coming up and the full moon was going down.

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Good morning sun!

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This cemetery confuses me – it’s incredibly overgrown, but next to a well-tended cemetery. Both are within Austin city limits!

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Crossing the Lady Bird Lake damn

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My shadow, Lady Bird Lake, and the Austin skyline

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A firefighter training facility

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Church on the outskirts of Austin, and it’s accompanying cemetery

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There was an event at the Circuit of Americas and I was passed by many fancy cars when riding by the track, including 3 Corvettes in a row

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A little farm with handmade signs listing the price for goats, sheep, chickens…

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The same farm with some sort of little shade shelters in a field of wildflowers

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Small country road

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Lots of little purple wildflowers along the side of the road

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Fancy new school near Kyle

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Long flat road

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Small pond and lots of clouds

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For some reason I saw many donkeys on this ride. This the best donkey photo.

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And another donkey

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Rolling country road

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Railroad bridge, close to San Marcos

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Another railroad bridge, with a low water crossing and big stone supports

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After meeting my husband, we found a food truck lot, had a delicious lust at Wanderlust and then visited Middleton Brewing for a tasting and to pick up a bottle of their latest release. 

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Bike MS Training Sept 10 & 11: Riding out to the breweries

ONLY ONE MORE TRAINING WEEKEND LEFT! This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and in just over a week and a half I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? I’m almost 50% to my fundraising goal and I would be honored by your support!

This past weekend I got to do another destination ride, where I left from my house and ended up at a place that serves alcohol. This time, I rode 80 miles to Jester King brewery and Last Stand brewing on Saturday where my husband met me with lunch. Jester King had a beer release we wanted to try, and Last Stand was hosting an Oktoberfest party. On Sunday, I rode 42 miles closer to home.

Saturday’s ride started off pretty cool for Texas in early September. As I rode north the clouds became pretty ominous. And then it started to get really windy. Next, it started raining big stinging rain drops, that might have been small pieces of hail. I had to pull over and seek cover next to a large stone sign for a few minutes until it slowed down enough to ride again.

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Very ominous looking sky

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Can you see the rainbow? It’s pretty light.

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Lots of greenery everywhere

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Small town church

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Cows walking through a field

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Big playground in north Austin

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View from Southwest Parkway

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BBQ ahead, in the little trailer you can hardly see by the red building

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Cool driveway entrance

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After arriving Jester King, I got to enjoy the newest release of La Vie en Rose. It was quite good.

On Sunday I rode some very familiar roads and therefore didn’t end up with many photos.

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You can kinda see the light purple wildflowers along the roadside

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Lots of hay bales

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Yellow AND purple wildflowers

 

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Bike MS Training, Labor Day Weekend: I almost rode to Canada

We attended a wedding along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota over Labor Day weekend. And I do mean north – we flew to Minneapolis and then drove straight north through Duluth to Lutsen along the shore of the lake. We had mostly lovely weather on our trip and my father-in-law ferried my old bike up from Iowa so that I could ride it in Minnesota. I know, he’s pretty awesome.

The wedding started fairly early on Saturday, so I had to get out early to get ready in time. There’s really only one paved road to put in significant mileage along the North Shore. I chose to go north because the traffic was lighter and road shoulder was nice. I rode just over 60 miles  (Canada wasn’t that much further north!) and got some lovely photos.

On Sunday, my husband and I rode south along the Gitchi Gami trail down to Temperance River State Park, did a bit of hiking, had lunch, and rode back up to Lutsen for a total of 23 miles.

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? The big ride is just two weeks away in Oklahoma!

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These two buildings, plus just a few more, make up the entirety of Lutsen

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Early morning sun

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Early morning shade

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Another lodge

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A glimpse of Lake Superior

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Trailhead for Cascade River state park – we hiked from this area on Monday

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Going down over a ridge

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Pretty cliffs

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Jagged rocks

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Small cemetery as you enter Grand Marais

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Entering Grand Marais – you can just barely see the lake

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Beginning of the shopping area

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Grand Marais harbor

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Grand Marais harbor – we ate at the restaurant on the right on Monday (it was delicious)

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Riding along the harbor

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On the north side of Grand Marais

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Crazy sculptures and rock piles in front of this house

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Little fire department

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Itty bitty town hall

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View of the lake

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Close up of the rock piles

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Little stream

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Some small purple and yellow wildflowers

Enjoying the wedding later that day:

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Bike MS Training Aug 27 – 28: Riding to Treaty Oak Distilling

Riding the same routes from my house for long distance training starts to get monotonous after a while, so sometimes I convince my husband and our friends to meet me in an exiting locale so I can ride my bike there. This weekend, I planned a route to Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs. Treaty Oak turned some awesome ranch land into a distillery, an experimental brewery, and a generally awesome place to hang out. They have cocktails on tap!

This weekend, I rode 76 miles to Treaty Oak on Saturday, and then another 43 on Sunday, my longest riding weekend yet! Good thing, with only one month to go until Bike MS: The Road Divided. This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS?

The last two weeks in Austin have been cooler than usual. It’s still hot, but way less so than normal. I mean, we’re talking highs in the 80s sometimes! It’s August, people! I totally appreciate these lower temps though, because I don’t have to get out quite so early on my bike to beat the heat. Saturday was pretty sunny and I got some lovely photos.

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A bunch of vultures in a tree

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An old cemetery along Springdale Rd

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There are actually two cemeteries in a row along Springdale

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Creepy soldier statue in the bed of a truck, with a “Veterans for Trump” banner…

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Crossing the Colorado along 183

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Crossing on the bridge

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View from the bridge

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Santa in a tree, missing his head

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Trails and pedestrian bridge in Richard Moya park, near the airport

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Country road

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Another country road

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Bright pink trees

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Roadside flowers

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Longhorn statue

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Old farm building, along a major road in Buda

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Entering Old Town Buda Historical District

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A church in Buda (I think)

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Old fancy house

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Food truck lot, outside of Buda

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Coming up on the Salt Lick

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Fall Creek Vineyards, across the street from the Salt Lick

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The Salt Lick

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Crossing a stream

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Riding along a ridge

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Riding along a ridge

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Had to cross a flooded road, right before getting to Fitzhugh Rd

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Carl was waiting for me at Treat Oak!

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We had lunch, and a few delicious drinks at Treaty Oak, while hanging out with our friends

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And then, we stopped in at Argus Cider to taste test their latest ciders. It was on the way home, I swear!

Sunday’s ride started out cloudy, which kept the temperatures cooler.

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Cows in a very green field

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Everything is so green!

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White wildflowers in a field

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Building a new bridge

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The church on Cameron Rd from a distance

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More cows

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“Prinz Farms” has a semi truck logo

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Horses!

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The Cele Store

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Close up of the church – you can see it in this photo, but there is a large cemetery in the back

 

 

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A whole lot of Bike MS training is still going on…

I’ve not had time to post my latest training weekend updates, but that’s actually a good thing because many of my rides have been on the same roads, and I end up with the same photos. Seriously, who wants to look at the same photos week after week?

So, you’re spared because I put 3 weeks of photo into this one post! For this favor I must ask – will you be the first person (other than me) to donate to the MS Society in honor of my 160 mile, 2 day bike ride? Bike MS: The Road Divided is just over a month away! This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease.

What training have I been doing you ask? Well, let me share some stats.

During the last weekend of July (3031) I rode a combined 105 miles. On Sunday I even did some hill training! The first weekend of August (67) I rode another combined 105 miles, and it was unbearably hot for the longer ride on Saturday. I then took a weekend off of riding while visiting family in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This past weekend August 2021 I increased my mileage and rode 110 miles. The weather this weekend was rainy which kept our temperatures WAY down – it was such a pleasant change!

Now, for my download of photos:

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Early morning, July 30

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This farm sometimes has horses hooked up to a pole that they walk circles around – you can see two if you look closely.

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Two more horses

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Theme of the day: horses!

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Countryside pond

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Country graveyard

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Falling apart shack

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What did I say about horses?

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Smiley faced water tower

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Big sky country

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“Lakeview Christian Center Church. All is Welcome”

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“Rev’s Resale Shop”

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Pretty day – can you tell how hot it was??

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Cows this time

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Presbyterian Church in Elgin

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This house always fascinates me

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A little park in Manor

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Sunday, July 31 I rode some hills on Loop 360 and saw the ever present peaches and tomatoes tent

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A sign for me

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Multi-colored cliffs

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View from the Pennybacker bridge

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Early morning Saturday August 6th – house with a patio above the carport

 

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Dog agility course

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Quiet country road

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Little pond and some cows

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Donkeys!

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Cow – in the same field as the donkeys

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Serpent

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oh hey, a horse

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Fancy ranch entry

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Old rail station in Elgin

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Sunday, August 7th – some new to me roads

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Little road, not so far from home

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Sad, closed Kiddie Acres on Howard Lane

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Early morning Saturday August 20 – is it going to rain? Also, cows.

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Cows enjoying the not so hot, damp weather

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Um, horses!

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Freshly paved 95

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Clouds appear more ominous than they really are

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Horses lay down!

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Small country road

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Pretty Elgin house

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Popular Elgin Post Office

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Another pretty yard at an Elgin house

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The sign says Elgin Cemetery, but it’s black and fades into the trees

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Sheep

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This big ranch is for sale!

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Lots of tags on the railroad cars along Littig Road

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Lots of hay

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Sunday, August 21 – a very flooded Brushy Creek

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Small country road

 

 

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Two fresh fig recipes: fig blueberry crisp and fig cookie bars!

It finally happened… the figs on our monster fig tree started to ripen! I tried two new recipes this year with figs that both turned out fantastic.

Fig and Blueberry Crisp

I basically followed this Food Network recipe with some slight modifications:

  • I used 3 cups blueberries and 3 cups figs and added a bit of lemon zest to the fruit mixture
  • I did not add nutmeg or pecans
  • I did add some ground ginger, probably about 1/2 teaspoon

Fruit mixture and topping:

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Fig Cookie Bars

While the crisp was super easy to throw together, fig cookies bars (also called fig newtons) required more work, spread across two days for me. For the cookie part, I mostly followed this Fresh Fig Newtons recipe from Sugar Dish Me. For the jam in the middle, I looked around at a number of recipes and ended up using:

  • 2 lbs fresh figs, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. After the boil starts, reduce to a simmer and continue to stir / mash from time to time. After 45 min or so, the jam should be thickened.

Note: this jam did turn out quite sweet, so next time I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup probably.

For the cookie part, I changed the Sugar Dish Me recipe by:

  • Reducing the butter – I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Omitting the orange zest – I didn’t have an orange and wasn’t sold on this anyhow.

The bars were a huge hit. If only they weren’t so much work!

Making jam:

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Finished jam:

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Finished cookie bar sheet:

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Mmmm… delicious!

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