Bike Training: July 11 & 12

After two weekends off from bike training due to vacation in Saint Martin (rough, I know), I finally got back home to Austin to put in some good miles on my bike. Bike MS Rock N Hot Ride is only 6 weeks away! My fundraising page will be up soon, I promise. On Saturday July 11 I planned a route mostly east from my home, 64 miles in total with a 15.7 mph average. The morning started out thankfully without much sun so the temperatures were mostly pleasant. I rode part of the Southern Walnut Creek Trail:

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On the north end of the trail, it just ends and you have to ride through grass / gravel to get back on the road. I assume that has something to do with property ownership, but it’s super annoying especially if it’s muddy.

 

 

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Visibility wasn’t that great for the first part of the ride – usually I get nice views on this road:

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Then the sun came out and it got hot.

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I like this old abandoned farm house out in the countryside:

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And the sunflower field next to this cute little olive green house:

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Railroad bridge!

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Tree tunnel on Littig Road:

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A train was blocking the road, not moving. It moved slowly out of the intersection as I approached. When I crossed the tracks I could see the engineer dressed in a long sleeve button down bright green shirt with white polka dots and a red hat. I guess if you’re a train engineer, you better dress the part!

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It was a lovely day for a photo of this Asian temple I see coming back into town on North Lamar:

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On Sunday I did an around town ride of 30 miles, but the GoPro battery failed me again… Stay tuned as I continue to catch up on my bike training posts and get my fundraising page in order!

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Bike training: June 20 & 21

It’s official! I’ve registered for the Bike MS Rock ‘N Hot Ride in Arkansas, which goes from Little Rock to Hot Springs and back in September. It’s been on my Bike MS bucket list for a few years, so it’s time to check it off. I’ll be sure to share my fundraising page as soon as I get it put together and make my donation!

I realize this bike training update it a bit late. I thought I’d work on it while we were on vacation in Saint Martin, but that did not happen. It was vacation after all, and I did blog about that trip, mainly so we could remember what exactly we did while we were there.

Anyhow, way back in mid June we went up to Oklahoma City for a wedding, with a pit stop in Fort Worth. On Saturday, I got to ride 66 miles straight north and meet Carl in Salado. From there we continued driving to Fort Worth. It was, of course, windy out of the south so I got a nice tail wind which helped me keep a high pace. With all of the charity rides I’ve done out of Georgetown, many of the sites on my route were familiar.

County church on Cameron Road:

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The flatness with a smattering of trees:

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Cool pond with some cute miniature buildings in it:

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Historical marker about the handful of graves you can barely make out in the middle of the field:

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This seemed to be some sort of water park, probably for waterskiing:

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Longhorn!

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Pretty purple flowers along the roadside and white picket fence:

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Low water crossing. Thankfully it was open!

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Mix of old and new cemetery:

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Biergarten in Walberg:

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Deer along the side of the road:

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On Sunday I headed out from my in-laws to do a shorter 28 mile ride on the Fort Worth trails. Overall, this ride was much better than a ride I did around Fort Worth a few years back. One of my first sites was a large Fort Worth church to contrast with the country church from the day before:

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I had to ride for a while before making it to the Trinity Trail, Fort Worth has this terrible way of marking all lanes with these rounded white domes that could certainly eject you from your bike if you’re not careful:

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Shortly after getting on the trail, I had to cross to the other side of the river. The low water bridge was partially covered by about an inch or two of water. I’m not sure I would have tried the crossing bridge if I hadn’t seen two cyclists cross it in front of me:

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Close up view. I had to get off my bike and step over some of the logs.

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After not very long, I came up on a running race on the trail. It was a 5K / 10K / Half Marathon. And it was hot. These runners at the furthest point were running the half. I question the judgement of the group that decided to schedule a half marathon in the summer in Texas.

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The Trinity Trail has had a number of improvements lately, including this cool looking bike sculpture which likely also doubles as a bike rack.

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It was a bit of a pain to continuously pass runners, especially when they were running in both directions.

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Cute little food truck area along the trail.

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Nice pedestrian bridge.

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In a couple spots the river flooded over the trail and there were alternate routes, including just riding on the grass.

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The spot where I got off the trail had a bike share station.

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Downtown Fort Worth had some nice bike lanes.

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A nice historic neighborhood that I rode through.

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Saint Martin last day: Watching planes land at Maho Beach

Tuesday was our last day in Saint Martin. Our flight back to the states wasn’t until 3 pm so we had some time to enjoy some final sights. I started out with a run again, but this time on the beach. I went to the north end of Orient Beach, where some studio apartments we had considered renting are located. So glad we didn’t rent those! The seaweed smell down there was intense and there was no beach bar. Obligatory beach run selfie:

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After I returned and we finished packing, we walked down the street to a little bakery / creperie for breakfast. I had an apple beignet and a croissant. Croissants at the french bakeries were delicious, so much better than I’ve ever had in Austin.  Carl loves crepes and I finally talked him into a breakfast crepe. He had one with apricot jam.
  After we loaded everything into the car we headed to Maho beach to watch the planes land while hanging out at Sunset Bar & Grill. We got great views of the planes coming in to land right over the beach.  The big, most exciting fight of the day is a KLM 747 from the Netherlands.
  It’s the one you see in all the photos.   So I got some photos too. None of the planes came in as low as they sometimes do, but it was still cool to watch.
 After that we drove around a bit and did some final shopping before going the airport to wait in the longest, slowest lines for everything. When we landed in Atlanta, we were able to very quickly breeze through customs because of the global entry program we’ve both signed up for. I highly recommend it if you are a frequent international traveler!

Saint Martin day 10: Kayaking to Ilet Pinel 

On our final full day in Saint Martin, I started out with a short run, just to be able to upload a GPS track from Saint Martin. I first ran on the flat roads but then headed up a hill from some lovely views that I stopped to photo and then instagram:

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Once I was back, we decided to go back to our favorite beach, Ilet Pinel. This time, we decided to rent a double kayak and kayak our way over there. The beach where you get the ferry or rent kayaks had a huge amount of seaweed washed up on shore. Which then rots. This entire corner of the island smells awful because of the seaweed. Luckily, the wind blew into Saint Martin rather than towards Ilet Pinel, so we were quickly able to escape the smell after we paddled a bit beyond the seaweed.  As we were paddling hard into a very stiff headwind, this kiteboarder was standing on a shallow section in the water before he started riding.
  A pelican on the rocks near Petite Clef, a tiny little island on the way to Ilet Pinel.  We made it eventually. It was definitely an arm workout because of the high winds.
    This time, we lounged at the other beach bar, called Yellow Beach. There’s a good reason all the things we read talked about Karibuni beach bar, which we did on our first trip over. The food we had for lunch seemed to be frozen stuff they deep fried. Everything was plain, boring, and way overpriced 😦
  We did see the iguanas. all sizes of them… they were taking food from people’s hands!   In the early afternoon, the server started putting out tables in the water – they had giant pointy ends that he would work into the sand and then leave a bucket of ice with a bottle of wine. It was great to watch these people get progressively drunker.
  For dinner, we stayed close to home, eating at La Voile Blanche. Carl started off with a giant salad.  I had the creole tasting menu, and once again my dinner wasn’t very exciting. I started with a trio of smoked fish. It was giant for being a starter.
  Carl had a lamb shank, which he says was very good.  My conch fricasee was not exciting. Not spicy, the conch was very tough, and there weren’t enough vegetables. 
  Dessert was fantastic through, bananas flambe again. This one was paired with a delicious macaron. 

Saint Martin day 9: Pic Paradis and Loterie Farm

On Sunday we ventured up the steep, narrow, and windy road to the highest point on Saint Martin, Pic Paradis. We were told if we headed for the radio tower off to one side of the peak, we’d find a trail to hike up the ridge. It turned out to be a short trail but the peak had amazing views. 

The view of etang aux poissons (a salt pond) and Le Galion:
  Marigot:

After coming back down the hill a bit we stopped at Loterie Farm, an old plantation that has a micro climate that is wetter than the rest of Saint Martin. It has hiking trails, extensive zip lining, a super fancy pool you have to pay to access, and two restaurants on site. We were there to hike and did a relatively short hike through the trees and past some springs.
  After climbing up jumbled rocks for a while we came to a great overlook with a view of Marigot.  
  After making it back down we stopped in the Tree Lounge for refreshing frozen drinks of course.  
The we headed into the Hidden Forest Cafe for lunch. I had the salad special which was very good.

Carl went for a fish sandwich, but it wasn’t as good as the one he’d had at a beach club previously. 
   
After lunch we headed back to Orient Bay and lounged on the beach chairs there. The visibility was the best it had been all week and the color of the water was gorgeous, despite the high winds. 

  That night we went to Philipsburg for dinner. Before eating we strolled along the boardwalk but most places were closed because it was Sunday. We did pause at a little bar with a few locals and had some rum punch.

I took a few long exposure shots along the boardwalk. I love the one below because the dog laying all alone on the beach was a common sight, the island has a high number of wandering dogs.  
  For dinner we went to Chesterfields, a place our Fodors book claimed is a hit with tourists and locals. We found the food good, but once again, not great. I missed a photo of our conch appetizer. Carl had a steak and I had grouper.  
 

Saint Martin day 8: Hiking to Petite Cay from Anse Marcel

 On Saturday we started with breakfast at the little French bakery and cafe across the street from our apartment. We both ordered breakfast sandwiches which were served on an entire half of a baguette. We also had delicious croissants so half of my sandwich went back as leftovers.     

On our bike tour guide’s recommendation, we headed to a trail head in Anse Marcel to hike around Pointe des Froussards to Petite Cayes, a secluded set of beaches.
The first part of the hike was a gravel road that took us above Anse Marcel with a view of the marina there when there was a break in the brush. Next came some single track trail with interesting plant markers along the way. There were giant air plants which are apparently related to pineapple, this one was growing on a rock:

  

After climbing some rough trail for awhile we were rewarded with fantastic views of Petite Cayes.  

But then of course we had to scramble down some huge rocks to get to the water.      

We found a nice shaded bench to hang out on, read, and eat lunch. We explored the coast line and Carl swam in the waves for a bit before we hiked back out.   

We obviously deserved frozen fruity drinks after our hike so we stopped at a little bar on Anse Marcel beach and had some delicious drinks.  

Then we swam in the calm waters before heading back to our apartment.   

That evening we went into Grand Case for dinner at La Villa. The main waiter was super friendly and started us out with a free glass of champagne and an amuse bouche of tasty cold vegetable soup.

We started with an appetizer from the special board, baked Brie cheese with asparagus and a side of salad, all very good.  

For my meal I ordered the scallop appetizer, not realizing how tiny the scallops would be. At least they were delicious, paired with avocado, tomato, and sweet potato. Many of my much larger meals were not nearly this good.   

Carl had duck breast for his dinner and says it was very good, one of the better meals he had on vacation.   

Our dessert was a pear tart paired with a cold pear compote and caramel ice cream. Caramel ice cream isn’t my favorite, but the tart and compote were amazing.