Bike Tour to Lake Lavon

My buddy Michael and I left on Saturday morning from Frisco, Texas, to head to Lake Lavon in Wylie, Texas. I rode to Hidden Cove Park in Frisco, Texas, last weekend and decided that the parts of the route was not the best suited for bicycling. So, instead of riding my bike to the starting point, this time around, I had my lovely wife drop me off at the starting point.

We carried our gear on our bikes and tent camped overnight at Left Fork Park on Lake Lavon. We rode back to home today.

Below is our route:

Day 1 route

Day 2 route


Michael's trusty Fuji Touring Bike was very well equipped but not overloaded. You have to see some of the enhancements he has made to the bike, in person, to appreciate it fully.
My Co-Motion Americano loaded with front bags and sleeping bag and tent in the rear. I could have avoided the sleeping bag, but I wasn't sure if it would get chilly around 3 AM in the morning. I was glad I brought it along, it did get a bit chilly early in the AM.
From our rendezvous point, we headed southeast towards our destination, through various parts of Frisco, Texas. If y'all wondered where internet comes from, now you know :)
In Frisco, along a quite boulevard, we saw many statues. I took photos of many of them. I have shared some that I thought were worth sharing.
I suppose this is a snake or some sort of a worm? Interesting, no matter what!
This one reminded me of an Aligator Gar. This was a rather large statue.
We headed out of Frisco towards Plano on not so busy roads and some busy roads. We shared the lane whenever it was prudent to do so.
Our route included some of the paved trails in DFW. Here is Michael trying to make a "tandem" out of our two bikes on the Bluebonnet Trail.
Co-existence of high tension power lines and people! I am sure there are many controversies surrounding these power lines, but I could not but enjoy the bluebonnets, while I was there.
Children were out playing on the trail and it was a perfect day for photographing children surrounded by bluebonnets.
Michael walked down the memory lane when he showed me the house where he grew up. Nothing like having a good touring buddy, I tell ya :)

Rest stop at the Target store in Plano. We opted to take turns instead of locking up the bikes.
An Alamo look-alike Plano, Texas. I am told that this one is a car dealership now. Go figure!
We stopped for lunch in Plano at a world-famous Chinese restaurant.
The food was inexpensive and tasty. They had vegetarian and meat dishes. We were starving and what seemed like a lot of food, initially, turned out to be really not too much for a pair of hungry cyclists.

We saw some interesting yard ornaments in this front yard in Wylie, Texas. If you zoom-in, you will see some of them.
Finally, we made it to East Fork Park. Yay!
It was interesting to drive our loaded bicycles through the Park gate. The hosts were not expecting us to arrive by bicycles.

After checking-in, we went straight to our campsite, setup our tents and started preparing dinner. I had taken my Trangia Alcohol stove and the Clickstand kit with me. On the other hand, Michael had created his own alcohol stove. Here is an adaptation of a alcohol stove that Michael has made out of a Heineken beer can, a copper-rich (1966) penny and parts of a bicycle spoke. It worked like a charm!
I took some precooked Indian food with me. These precooked items are not terribly unhealthy, based on the nutrition information provided on the package. The best part is that they taste pretty good and they are close to a $1 per pack.
Dinner is served! I had not anticipated eating both packs of food, but I was quite hungry. I had to supplement this meal with an apple and about 25 raw almonds.
After dinner, we walked down to the beach, which was just a few yards away from our campsite.
The water had receded quite a bit as you can tell from the picture below.
For some reason, I liked this piece of driftwood in the water. Reminded me of a rhino for some reason.
We saw many pieces of rocks, like the one pictured below, with some funky looking holes in them. We could not figure out what caused these holes. Any ideas?
Design in the rocks found on the beach! I found the design interesting and it reminded me of jigsaw puzzles.
View from Campsite - 1
View from Campsite - 2
View from Campsite - 3
View from Campsite - 4
Upon returning from the beach, we went to check out a couple of Geocaches. The first one was easy to find, but the second one was off the park property and we didn't feel like venturing out.
Look closer and you might actually find something in the picture below!
Not a good photo, perhaps, but we found tons of Bullfrogs at this park!
Upon completion of our Geocahing adventure, Michael went looking for snakes on the beach. Michael is a snake aficionado and he found this Diamondback Water snake (non-venomous) on the beach. It was not a very big snake, but it was quite mischievous. It bit my friend several times and made him bleed, but Michael did not seem to mind.
Eventually, Michael and the snake decided to part ways!
After all this excitement, we sat around and talked about a wide range of topics from Bicyling to World Peace and eventually went to bed around midnight. I only slept okay during the night and was up at 0730. After the morning ablutions, we both prepared our respective breakfasts. I had my usual camping breakfast of oatmeal with raw almonds & apple and a cup of coffee.
After breakfast, we packed up and headed back towards Garland, Texas. Interesting Jeep we saw on our way back!
Garland, Texas, has some very nice looking subdivisions, including Firewheel, pictured below.
Ah, that Shaggy dog posing for a soft drink :)
Michael and I said parted ways at Garland, where I hopped on DART's Blue Line, transferred to the Green Line at Pearl Street, which took me to Farmers Branch. I rode back to Irving from Farmers Branch. Interesting bike hangars on DART. What do you think? I didn't think much of it to be perfectly honest.
Goodbye, DART!

Today's ride was challenging, although it was much shorter than yesterday's, because of the wind gusts. I think the wind was blowing at a steady 20-30 MPH from the South West, the exact direction of our return route from Lake Lavon.

Areas to improve:
  1. Pack less for S24O: I have gotten better at this, having done 2 S24O's before this one, but I still have a ways to go, in some areas. For example, I want to carry less fuel next time. I carried an entire Trangia bottle full this time as well. I might try taking a pair of pajamas next time instead of carrying my sleeping bag, if I am camping in warmer weather.
  2. Take a Chill-pill/Sleep-aid: It is okay to take your sleep-aid at night during a S24O. At least in my case, I am wary of new places and don't quite fall asleep, even if I am dead-tired. A non-habit-forming sleep-aid, might be quite alright. I slept roughly 4.5 hours last night and I was groggy all day today and not getting enough sleep takes the fun out riding.
  3. Improvise Charging Electronics: I want to check out some of the devices for charging USB devices from the power generated by the dynamo hub. This might actually be a better idea than carrying two cell phones or extra batteries, especially given such a device might charge the GPS and the camera battery. If you know have any good pointers in this regard, I would greatly appreciate it if you could please share it with me.
  4. Buy a Water Purification System/Filter: Sometimes I do wonder about the quality of the water coming out the taps at campsites. I would like to research portable water filters and water purification systems a bit more. Any pointers?
  5. Spend more time composing: I hurried through taking photographs on this trip (my own personal choice) as I wanted to get to the campsite before dark. Chris and I had to setup our tents in the dark during our trek to Lake Mineral Wells last summer and I did not want a repeat of the same experience this time around. But, I do want so spend more time photographing the scenery next time around. I might even consider taking a SLR with me.
Things I did well:

  1. Eat well and drink plenty: During my LCI certification back in February, I was required to make two presentations, one of which was on Nutrition and Hydration for a cyclist. I remember the contents of  my presentation almost verbatim to this day, but the key takeaway for me was that it is important to drink plenty of water* and eat healthy meals during a long distance ride. I think I did very well in this area during this S24O.
  2. Sleep is critical: I slept well on Friday night and so  Saturday's ride was reasonably easy for me. I think I did a good job getting the essential shut-eye Friday night.
  3. Choose a reliable riding partner:  My riding partners for the last two S24O's have been nothing short of fantastic. Thanks to Chris and Michael. Need I say more?
All said and done, it was a wonderful weekend trip, as wonderful as this flower!
I hope you had a great weekend as well!

Peace :)

15 comments:

  1. It's good to see you back out there, and thanks for the detailed report. It looks like a fun trip and that you are becoming quite skilled. Hopefully, I can get back out for at least one more S24O before it gets too hot out.

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  2. Thanks for keeping McNair company for the last leg of his adventure this weekend!! While I don't worry too much about him, it's always nice to know he has someone with him when he is out on excursions like this. He made it home a bit sunburned and tired, but very, very happy with how it all went. Another good time on the old bike for the old man...gotta love it!!!!

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  3. That looked great!
    Except for the snake.

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  4. Very nice report and it is good to hear your load was less.

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  5. Thanks for coming along. I had a great time and can't wait for the next one!

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  6. Looks like a fantastic trip! Lots of fun, and good pictures. I especially liked the sunset over the lake, but the snakes were pretty wild, too.

    If you want to travel lighter, an SLR is not the way to go!

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  7. Smashing report...
    Your front panniers look pretty large....what capacity are they?

    I have just invested in some Ortlieb Front Rollers- they only have a capacity of 12.5L each but as my kit is all ultra light and only weighs about 16 pounds in total, it is more a case of spreading the gear around the bike (stability) than carrying extra gear.

    -Trevor

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  8. @All - Thanks for your comments!

    @Chris - the weather is still not too hot and I hope you get one more S24O too!

    @Steve - would you like to join me in a S24O sometime?

    @Michael - I agree on the SLR adding weight, but I am still hopeful I can drop buncha other stuff from my list and take a SLR, some day :)

    @M's - Michael did get sunburned, but like you observed, we did have a good time!

    @Limom - That snake was not too bad. I have never played around with snakes on my own, but it was interesting see someone do it.

    @McNair --- Thanks for a lovely S24O!

    @Trevor,
    The front panniers are Arkel GT-18's. Their capacity is 18 Liters, I think. More info here: http://www.arkel-od.com/us/all-categories/touring-bike-bag/gt-18-grand-touring-front-pannier.html. The panniers themselves are not the lightest, but I figured I will buy the most durable one, so that I don't have to worry about'em during a tour. In the long run, I would like to replace the two front panniers with a Carradice Camping bag. I will have to drop a few things, but it will be fun to experiment with.

    Peace :)

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  9. Hi Chandra: Fun Post! I'm wondering if that stone is actually calcified wood? The penny-beercan stove looks interesting..sorry I'm not a camper, but how does it work?

    I assume DART is trying to allow for more room for seats by having the bikes hang, but getting them up there and removing them could be awkward on a crowded day!

    Your trip looked like a lot of fun! Next time ask your wife to pick you up AT the DART stn for your return trip home! (no one would know!) :) :) ;)

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  10. @PA,
    Thanks for stoppin' by!
    I suppose that stone could be calcified wood. I have no clue, yet.

    The penny-beercan stove works on Denatured Alcohol. You pour some alcohol into the can and simply light it up. Supposedly, the penny acts as a regulator. It worked as well as my commercially produced stove.

    Here is more info on these stoves: http://www.jureystudio.com/pennystove/index.html

    Great suggestion on hitching a ride back home from DART. My only hope is that my wife hasn't read your comments LOL!

    Peace :)

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  11. Hi Paddy,

    As the stove heats up, the alcohol fumes inside heat up and build up pressure. The penny is covering the filling hole on the stove and acts as a regulator, releasing extra pressure. This keeps the flames coming from the "jets" at a fairly consistent height.

    Here's a picture of the stove in action:
    http://i899.photobucket.com/albums/ac195/McNair/Stoves/HeinyStove.jpg

    As for the holes in the "rock," this was fairly soft material and would crumble with a little effort. From what I've been able to google, there are bivalves that burrow into rock, sandstone or clay and will live there for as long as it is hospitable. Judging from the amount of freshwater clam shells scattered about on the shores, I'm guessing that is what made the holes.

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  12. McNair,
    Thanks for the details on the stove, "rock".
    Peace :)

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  13. Thats a wonderful post Chandra! Thanks to your crazy friend for posing ... autsch!!!
    Nice place to rest for the night... spiders, frogs and snakes :-)

    Liebe Grüße,
    Pia

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  14. Chandra,
    Saw your beautiful photos of bluebonnets under power lines and am hoping you might give the Houston Parks Board permission to use it (with you credited of course. We're working with a bunch of local cyclists inspired by the power line trails in the Metroplex, and would like to help get trails built in utility corridors down in Houston. We're supporting two bills in the State Legislature (SB 1793 & HB 3802) and are doing push cards & a poster to get the work out, and your photos would be perfect. You can email me at catherine@houstonparksboard.org, and check out our Facebook page, Utility Line Hike & Bike Trails, as well as the Houston Parks Board website (houstonparksboard.org).
    We'd love to have your help in making Texas more bike-friendly, a few trails at a time!
    My best,
    Catherine

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  15. Catherine,
    Thanks for stopping by.
    You have my permission to use the picture.
    I will check out your website and FB links.
    Peace :)

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