Tag Archives: Texas

The approach to El Paso


I put down my Elmore Leonard book on the approach to El Paso

As there are many new things to see, new to me at least

There are sandstone hills, topped with scrub brush

So neatly arranged it appears to be combed hair, cornrows maybe


The back of the hill reveals a gaping wound

As if the skull of a 19th century white man taken apart by an Apache

Of course the wound is from the white man

And the 21st century war he calls progress


The alien green patch of a golf course

Looks as ludicrous as it does enticing

Over watched by a mountain ridge

That appears to be an exact replica of a dog’s jaw


Then we land & work begins

Or at least that’s what we called it



Juniperus Ashei – The devil’s tree

Does the devil have a tree?
If so, I could tell you what it would be
A Mountain Cedar
Deliverer of allergy fever

Pollen clouds rise in the south
Delivered on warm winds straight into your mouth
On what should be a glorious warm winter day
You simply feel like hell is having its way

Pressured eyeballs try to escape your brain
Fire blazes in your throat as you pray for rain
Breathing, such a challenge as to feel optional
Juniperus Ashei are you really from Dante’s stable?




Still Summer

Here it comes, mercury rising

The warning is over

The attack has begun

The furnace arrives

On a tidal wave of sweat


It is strange how things evolve

What was once a welcome change

A comfort, the promise of new

Is now a test of endurance



Following 25 years of damp cold

A great thaw ensued

Now, no longer, now overdone

Yet the annual temptation to leave

Passes almost as suddenly as it arrives



I actually wrote most of this at the beginning of summer, then it was relatively pleasant for a few weeks & I decided not to post it. Yet here we are in September, still in the high 90s (mid 30s C) & despite it being a “very mild summer”, it is still bloody hot & I am so over it. I want to go outside during the day & not have to immediately take a shower! I don’t miss England all that often, but when I do, it is usually in the middle of a Texas summer 🙂


As the temperature drops

And the sun light fades to a paler shade

A small victory is won

The victory of surviving the summer


The spoils of the victory are called fall

Fall around here is not what you would expect

Fall here is what most call summer

Beautiful weather, happy kids


The freedom to do things outside is restored

No longer is a gallon of sweat mandatory for every move

The joy of open windows, the lack of artificial air

The anticipation of future festivities


Such a joyous time of year

Rich beers

Warming soups

Happiness abounds




Tour de Goatneck – 2013

My cycling season has not quite gone as planned. I skipped the ride I was scheduled to do in May as it was the week after my vacation & frankly I was exhausted and didn’t want to go do it. The ride I had planned on doing in June clashed with my Mum visiting from England, so obviously I didn’t do that. Unfortunately when I don’t have the commitment of a big ride coming up, my recreational / training rides tend to become less frequent also. So a couple of weeks ago I went ahead & signed up for the 2 big north Texas rides to get me going. I’ll be doing the Hotter Than Hell 1200 on August 24th, but before that came the 2013 riding of the Goatneck in Cleburne, TX.

I had ridden the Goatneck in 2010 & 2011, doing the 40 mile route each time, I signed up for the 40 again this time but immediately regretted that & changed my mind to the more challenging 70 mile route. Irritatingly they sell it as a 100 Km route, which is stupid, because 100 Km is 62 miles, not 70. I decided to do the 70 for 2 reasons, 1 because if I’m going to ride 100 miles at the end of August then 70 is pretty good training, but more so, I can ride 40 miles with hardly any preparation, 70 on the other hand, that is a challenge.

Unfortunately I only had 2 weeks to prepare & being in Texas cycling after work in July is demanding, if you can even talk yourself into doing it. I think I only got about 45 training miles done, but I also did 4 10k efforts on my rowing machine plus a couple of days at the gym. I’d have liked to have cycled more but I felt pretty confident about my conditioning going into the ride.

The ride itself, is probably the best there is in north Texas. The routes are really well marked out, there are police at EVERY intersection holding traffic for the riders. The rest stops are very frequent & well stocked with the usual Gatorade, water, fruit & other snacks. Everyone helping out is super friendly which translates to the riders too. If you are a cyclist within range of DFW & you have not ridden the Goatneck, make plans for next July!

The route was nice, there were a lot of hills though, you might think of north Texas as being as flat as a pancake, believe me, it is not, especially on a bike. Apparently we had some downhills too, but I only remember 2 sections which just lead into more big climbs. Usually I enjoy the climbs, but for whatever reason, on that day my legs had no uphill power. I started the day riding with a friend, but after probably 10 minutes I just let him go & concentrated on taking care of my legs. It was extremely frustrating to be passing people on the flats only to have them fly by me uphill. To make things worse after 30 miles or so the side my left quad started to cramp if I stood up on the pedals. I fought through it for about the next 10 miles but then the pain was worrying, it felt like something was going to snap, so I stayed sat down at all times on the hills, even slower – ugh. On the bright side, the weather was amazing for riding, it stayed overcast until around 11:15 & the temp didn’t get past the mid 80s.

Still, I made it about 39 miles before my first rest stop, not by design, I missed the one 8 miles earlier. My bottles were completely empty by that point & I needed to stretch. I  stopped very briefly at the next stop also, because the line for the facilities was so bad at the previous stop. Then I made my 2nd and final refueling / stretch stop at 55 miles in. I like that rest stop, although it was smaller this year than in years past, I remember it well, knowing that you are on the home stretch from there (14 miles to go) is comforting. Unfortunately the next 7 of those miles is another painful uphill slog, about 60 miles in I was questioning the decision to go over 40 miles. I am very happy I did though, after all I wanted a challenge & that is what I got. I met the challenge well, even if my legs did not fully cooperate & the last 10 miles were mostly fueled by stubbornness. It felt great to finish. Now to get ready for the HHH 🙂

Goatneck Elevation


Distance: 69.52 mi
Time: 4:35:39
Moving Time: 4:14:50
Avg Moving Speed: 16.4 mph
Max Speed: 41.0 mph
Avg Speed: 15.1 mph

Calories: 2,420 C
Avg HR: 153 bpm
Max HR: 175 bpm

Elevation Gain: 3,663 ft
Elevation Loss: 3,663 ft
Min Elevation: 540 ft
Max Elevation: 954 ft

Avg Temperature: 73.8 °F
Min Temperature: 66.2 °F
Max Temperature: 84.2 °F

goat-1656 - 1100

Shades of Brown

So many shades of brown
I never knew there were so many
Brown in the trees
Brown on the ground
Brown everywhere

Its eighty degrees
Its twenty degrees
Its 50 degrees
The wind is blowing like a hurricane
There’s sheet ice on the ground

What is this nonsense?
It’s silly season
It’s winter in North Texas
Nobody told me
There should be a warning sticker