RAGBRAI Day 7: That’s a wrap

All across Iowa, residents pulled up lawn chairs and watched the parade pass. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
All across Iowa, residents pulled up lawn chairs and watched the parade pass. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

It’s time to pack up my lycra cycling kit and get used to wearing shoes without cleats again.

I ticked off the final 50 miles of RAGBRAI this morning and dipped the tires of my bicycle into the Mighty Mississippi before noon.

Kimery Duda poses in front of a mural in a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Kimery Duda poses in front of a mural in a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

The biggest impression I’ll take away from this seven-day, 420-mile rolling carnival? Iowa is filled with generous, friendly people who might think cyclists are a little crazy, but open their homes to them anyway.

Last night June and Dan Henderson of Washington, Iowa, invited us to camp in their back yard and swim in their neighborhood pond. Dan even pulled out his guitar to serenade us as the sun settled behind the cornfields that cover so much of the state. And June, who runs a small gift shop in town, told me that her shop did two week’s worth of business in the span of a single day.

We went to bed as fireflies winked over the dewy grass, and woke up early, ready to bring our ride home.

Sweet corn is a staple food of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Sweet corn is a staple food of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Today’s ride featured a corn dog for breakfast, a homemade cinnamon roll for a mid-morning snack, a  stroll across the crazily-swinging bridge of Columbus Junction, a few moments cycling along a guy riding one of those big-wheeled antique bicycles and another visit with the ride’s oldest participants.

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, and Lucy Bonham, 89, stop to chat on the final day of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Clarence Rosenberg, 90, and Lucy Bonham, 89, stop to chat on the final day of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, met up with his female counterpart, Lucy Bonham, 89, at the top of a hill in one little town, where they paused to catch their breath and compare notes about how the ride has gone.

This makes 24 RAGBRAIs for Bonham, who attached a little sign to the back of her bike to let folks know her age.

“A lot of kids holler at me that I don’t know, and that’s so refreshing and nice,” she said.

Rosenberg said his week had gone well, with no real problems.

No telling how much pie riders ate during this year's RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
No telling how much pie riders ate during this year’s RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Today’s ride was relatively short and flat, a nice way to end a week on a bicycle.

Now I’ve got that 13-hour van ride home ahead of me.

Pam LeBlanc reached the Mighty Mississippi today.
Pam LeBlanc reached the Mighty Mississippi today.

RAGBRAI Day 6: I’m finally used to this, and tomorrow it ends

After six days of riding, my body is finally used to it. But our ride finishes after tomorrow's 50-miler. Photo by Kimery Duda
After six days of riding, my body is finally used to it. But our ride finishes after tomorrow’s 50-miler. Photo by Kimery Duda

We rolled away from the YMCA on Day 6 of RAGBRAI this morning under cloudy skies and much cooler temperatures.

Six days in and I finally feel like my body is used to the routine.

At first, my quads burned and my neck ached. But now I feel strong, like I could do this every day. And that’s the thing – at home, I manage an hour-long swim and an easy bike ride every day. But I’ve pretty quickly adjusted to five or six hours of cycling a day. Already I can tell my legs are stronger.

Mr. Porkchop is famous for its roadside pork chop stand. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Mr. Porkchop is famous for its roadside pork chop stand. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

There’s so much to see. Every town we ride through – four or five every day – turns out to watch our rolling carnival. Homeowners set up lemonade stands and pull chairs onto their front lawns. They ring cowbells and hoot and holler as our massive stream of lycra-clad bodies wheels past.

 

And at night, they open up their homes.

Tonight we’re staying outside the little town of Washington, where a family has allowed us to pitch our tents in their yard and grill fajitas on their back deck. They set out bottled water for us, and opened up a bottle of wine. Now the homeowner is pulling out his guitar, preparing to play music.

Other highlights of the day?

Petting a calf, lamb and two piglets at a small petting zoo.

 

Cornfields make great bike racks. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Cornfields make great bike racks. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Eating a giant smoked pork chop from a food trailer known as Mr. Porkchop.

Riding my bike alongside Batman.

Stopping at a stand handing out free sweet corn.

Admiring a bunch of weathered old barns.

 

This old barn was one of many we passed along the road. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
This old barn was one of many we passed along the road. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

Tomorrow marks our last day of riding. My legs might appreciate the break, but I’m feeling a little sad.

I’ll have to adjust to a world where cars take priority over bicycles once again.

RAGBRAI Day 5: Stylish kits, slip n’ slides and banjos

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Sun’s up, time to put on the cycling shoes. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

That’s five days down and two to go. I’ve learned a lot by riding my bike across Iowa with more than 15,000 people. Among them?

1. Cornfields swallow humans whole.

Kimery Duda of Austin steps into a cornfield. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Kimery Duda of Austin steps into a cornfield. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

2. Never pass up an opportunity to use a slip ’n slide in front of a hay field.

 

We stopped to cool off on the slip 'n slide. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
We stopped to cool off on the slip ‘n slide. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

3. Watermelon-themed cycling kits are the bomb.

This guy special-ordered this cycling kit all the way from Australia. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
This guy special-ordered this cycling kit all the way from Australia. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

4. If you don’t have a watermelon-themed kit, try a tutu.

Fashion is an important consideration at RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Fashion is an important consideration at RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

5. Everyone needs a bicycle-themed temporary tattoo.

We've got two more days of riding to finish our trip across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
We’ve got two more days of riding to finish our trip across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

6. The fictional character Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly from the television show “MASH” grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa, where I’m staying at the local YMCA for the night.

7. Banjo music makes you pedal faster.

A banjo player serenades the stream of passing cyclists. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
A banjo player serenades the stream of passing cyclists. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

8. Half the population of Texas, including Lance Armstrong, is pedaling across Iowa this week.

9. Dill pickle slices do not belong on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

10. You really don’t need a map at RAGBRAI. Just follow the bikes in front of you.

I'm carrying a route map, but it's impossible to get lost. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
I’m carrying a route map, but it’s impossible to get lost. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

RAGBRAI Day 4: Thelma and Louise, PB&J, Lance Armstrong and a mechanical bull

Thelma and Louise take a break for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Thelma and Louise take a break for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Today I added another 65 miles to my two-wheeled trip across Iowa.

But instead of hanging onto the end of the fast-rolling pack from Velo Views, which organized this trip to Iowa for the 420-mile RAGBRAI bike ride, I opted for a slower-moving journey, with pit stops for as many different roadside attractions as possible.

The Iowa Craft Beer tent is located just a few miles from the finish line each day of RAGBRAI. Photo by P am LeBlanc.
The Iowa Craft Beer tent is located just a few miles from the finish line each day of RAGBRAI. Photo by P am LeBlanc.

My friend Kimery Duda parachuted in for a few days. I stumbled into her outside the high school in Leon this morning, where my group spent the night in the choir room of the local high school.

Our theme for Day 4? An epicurean tour of Iowa. We saddled up, intent on hitting as many food stands as possible. I’d say our journey ranks as a booming success.

Today's eating tour of Iowa included peanut butter sandwiches made with PB&J, plus crushed potato chips and pretzels. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Today’s eating tour of Iowa included peanut butter sandwiches made with PB&J, plus crushed potato chips and pretzels. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

I started with a hot grilled cheese sandwich from a food trailer, one of hundreds along the route, while Kimery paid $5 to ride a mechanical bull.

New York, Iowa, was one of many towns we rolled through on Day 4 of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
New York, Iowa, was one of many towns we rolled through on Day 4 of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

We rolled through New York, Bethlehem and Confidence. We stopped for fruit smoothies and photographed a giant bicycle made of hay bales. We missed the llamas and goat races, but took advantage of the popular peanut butter and jelly trailer, where you fill out a paper order form indicating what you want on your sandwich (wheat or white bread, crunchy or smooth peanut butter, grape, strawberry or raspberry jam, and extras like pretzels, crunched up potato chips, honey, bananas and more to stuff between the bread.)

Kimberly Duda, left, owner of the Expedition School in Austin, joined me on Day 4 of RAGBRAI.
Kimberly Duda, left, owner of the Expedition School in Austin, joined me on Day 4 of RAGBRAI.

I made lots of friends, too.

We met Thelma and Louise, Sara from Vermont, and a guy riding what looked like a pedal-powered bullet. Batman cruised by on a recumbent cycle, and I road about 15 miles with my friend Nathan Turner from Austin. We chatted with people from Chicago and San Diego, Fort Worth and Iowa.

Kimery Duda of Austin rides a mechanical bull. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Kimery Duda of Austin rides a mechanical bull. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

And about 6 miles from the finish, Lance Armstrong zoomed past while I slogged up a monstrous hill.

Exhausted by the effort, I stopped at Beekman’s for a scoop of peach ice cream, listening to the chug-chug-chug of the old-fashioned engine turning the cranks of the ice cream maker.

From there, we walked a few hundred yards down the road to my favorite stop of all, the Iowa State Craft Beer tent, which serves about 40 different kinds of Iowa-made brew.

We met Ole the bull, the mascot of a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
We met Ole the bull, the mascot of a small Iowa town. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

We’ve passed the midway point in our expedition, and I’ve learned the importance of chamois butter, which keeps the undercarriage in proper working condition for long hours on the bike.

Tonight we’re camping in someone’s yard in Centerville.

Four days down, three to go.

I’m a sweaty, dirty, pedal-pumping eating machine, and I’m ready for more.

Bring on Day 5.

RAGBRAI Day 3: 90-year-old cyclists, sleeping at school and church dinner

Clarence Rosenberg, 90, is riding across Iowa for the fourth time this year. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Clarence Rosenberg, 90, is riding across Iowa for the fourth time this year. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

Meet Clarence Rosenberg.

At 90 years old, he’s working on his fourth full RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile bicycle ride across the entire state of Iowa.

This year’s ride cuts across hilly southern Iowa, and today’s route covered 59 miles. That’s after 50 on Sunday and 75 on Monday.

It’s wearing me out, but I love a trip that physically exhausts me. It makes the reward and recovery part even sweeter.

Towns along the RAGBRAI route open their homes to the cyclists, who pitch tents and sleep in their yards. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Towns along the RAGBRAI route open their homes to the cyclists, who pitch tents and sleep in their yards. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

The towns along the RAGBRAI route unroll the carpet. Residents open their houses to more than 15,000 cyclists, who camp in their yards and shower in their homes.

Tonight our group of eight from Velo View Bike Tours is sleeping in the choral room of the local high school in the small town of Leon, population less than 2,000 people.

A cyclists relaxes at a beer stand along the RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
A cyclists relaxes at a beer stand along the RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Tonight we’re sleeping in the choir room of the local high school in Leon. (Glee club tonight!) We ate a spaghetti dinner served up at the local Catholic church.

Tomorrow’s a big day. Riders choose between 68 miles or an optional loop to make it 100 miles.

The ride celebrates all things Iowa, from farmers to cornfields to craft beer and beautiful roads to cycle. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
The ride celebrates all things Iowa, from farmers to cornfields to craft beer and beautiful roads to cycle. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Rosenberg, the 90-year-old, is planning on the century. That’s just how he rolls.

He’s logged thousands of miles over the years, and plans to ride nine centuries before the 2016 season ends.

Rosenberg’s son, who’s in his mid-60s, is tagging along for this year’s ride. He smiles broadly when I tell him I admire his father.

He’s proud of his dad, too. Clarence spent 30 years as his wife’s caretaker after she had a stroke at 52, he tells me. She’s passed away now, and Clarence is making up for lost time.

Clarence’s advice on living a long time?

“Keep on pedaling.”

I think I will.

Participants in RAGBRAI collect bands for each ride they complete. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Participants in RAGBRAI collect bands for each ride they complete. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

RAGBRAI Day 2: Johnny Carson’s house, more hills, more pie

Cyclists roll into Corning, during Day 2 of RAGBRAI, a 440-mile bike ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Cyclists roll into Corning, during Day 2 of RAGBRAI, a 440-mile bike ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

Don’t believe anyone who tells you Iowa has no hills.

“Gargantuan, rolling hills!” someone screamed as we started slogging up another one, on Day 2 of RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile bike ride across Iowa.

About 10,000 people registered to do the entire ride. Thousands more bought day passes. Officials say more than 19,000 cyclists took to Iowa roads yesterday as part of the event.

Pam LeBlanc poses in front of a cornfield. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Pam LeBlanc poses in front of a cornfield. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Last night we camped alongside about 400 other people on private property in the small town of Shenandoah.

It felt like Mardi Gras. Or Woodstock. Or something with lots of beer-fueled craziness, loud music and tents.

 

Cyclists relax in front of an Iowa farm house during RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Cyclists relax in front of an Iowa farm house during RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

We also got a brief rain shower, followed by a double rainbow. (“Awesome double rainbow, dude!”)

This morning, we hit the road a little after 7 a.m., because we knew we had 75 miles to pedal.

Highlights of the ride?

Gooseberry pie.

Antique cars parked on the side of the road.

A sign advertising “the axe murder house.” (We didn’t stop, but many did.) The birthplace of Johnny Carson.

 

A double rainbow formed over Shenandoah, where cyclists camped after the first day of the seven-day RAGBRAI ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
A double rainbow formed over Shenandoah, where cyclists camped after the first day of the seven-day RAGBRAI ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

A roadside slip ’n slide stand. Food stands selling ham balls. A roadside farm animal petting zoo, complete with goats, lambs, pigs, chickens and cows. A “big boar.” (Or so another sign propped next to a trailer containing a pig read.)

My quads are tired and my neck hurts a little, but I’m loving this glimpse of rural Iowa.

We’ve pedaled through a dozen or so tiny towns, and everyone who lives in each one comes out to watch the parade. Folks sit on lawn chairs in their front yards and wave, farmers on tractors nod. Horns honk, kids holler and a few people even toss mardi gras beads.

 

Campers hang out in a swimming pool in Shenandoah after riding 50 miles on Day 1 of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Campers hang out in a swimming pool in Shenandoah after riding 50 miles on Day 1 of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Tomorrow we’ve got 59 miles on the agenda. And the day after that I’m staring down the barrel of a 100-mile day, if I decide to take the long option.

Cross your fingers my quads hold up.

Day 1 of RAGBRAI, in the books

Cyclists pose next to a sign in Tabor, Iowa, on the first day of RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Cyclists pose next to a sign in Tabor, Iowa, on the first day of RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

 

Chalk off the first 50 miles of RAGBRAi, a 440-mile bicycle ride across Iowa.

I’m here with eight folks from Austin, on a trip organized by Velo View Bike Tours. We drove 12-and-a-half hours in a van to get here on Saturday, and today we rolled out on our bikes.

Cyclists stop to eat pork chops from a roadside trailer during RAGBRAI, which started Sunday. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Cyclists stop to eat pork chops from a roadside trailer during RAGBRAI, which started Sunday. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

So far we’ve pedaled past corn fields and pork chop stands, waved to farmers and stopped in towns. I petted a burro, watched a drill team perform to a drumlins and got my photo taken with a mayor of one small town.

This is cycling heaven.

It's all about peace, love and bicycles in Shenandoah, Iowa, an overnight stop on this year's RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
It’s all about peace, love and bicycles in Shenandoah, Iowa, an overnight stop on this year’s RAGBRAI route. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

For one week, cyclists take priority. People who live along the route know not to drive unless they have to, so the roads are nearly car free.

The cyclists get into it, too. This is a ride, not a race. The only competition? To see how much you can consume. I’m on a mission to eat pie every day. We passed folks with stuffed chickens on their heads, jam boxes blasting and grins spread across their faces. The sun blazed, the heat rose, the fun brewed. I’ve been told not to miss the Mr. Porkchop food trailer or the naked rope swing.

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So far, we’ve been through Glenwood, Malvern, Tabor and Randolph. We’re camping tonight in Shenandoah; I’m writing this from a camp chair. We’ve ordered pizza, and Oskar Blues Brewing is handing out free cans of beer. Nobody loses weight on RAGBRAI.

People are camped all over the place. Some are in team buses, outfitted with kegs and cookstoves, hammocks and coolers full of food.

Amanda Huyck, 40, another Austin cyclist, started her food tour with a brat, a bag of chips and a Gatorade at midmorning.

A group of cyclists with Velo View Bike Tours shows off temporary tattoos. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
A group of cyclists with Velo View Bike Tours shows off temporary tattoos. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

“What I liked about that was it was 10:30 in the morning. I wish in my everyday life I could eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning,” Huyck said.

She also stopped at a pickle stand, where, it turns out, you can buy a pickle pass for $12 that gets you a pickle every day on the route.

“Then the pickle guys told me I was only 9 miles from the finish, so I slowed way, way, way down and put my bike in its baby gear and started talking to people,” Huyck said.

When she got to Shenandoah, the finish point for the day, someone pointed her to a bar where she could have her obligatory Bloody Mary, then she headed into camp.

On tomorrow’s agenda? A 75-mile ride with 4,000 feet of elevation. Don’t believe anyone who tells you Iowa is flat.

It’s not.

Take water, avoid peak heat, when you hike strenuous River Place Trail

The River Place Nature Trail offers plenty of elevation change if you're training for a backpacking trip or mountain adventure. PHOTO BY RALPH BARRERA/Austin American-Statesman
The River Place Nature Trail offers plenty of elevation change if you’re training for a backpacking trip or mountain adventure. PHOTO BY RALPH BARRERA/Austin American-Statesman

 

A quick reminder: It’s hot out there. Remember to hydrate, and pay attention to temperatures.

Reader Terrie DeWitt, who lives near the River Place Trail in far northwest Austin, wrote to say she’s had to assist several people recently who either didn’t carry enough water with them or weren’t fit enough to tackle the steep, rugged route.

The 6-mile round-trip trail is one of the few places in town steep enough to get your muscles in shape if you’re training for a backpacking trip or mountain climbing adventure.

You’ll huff and puff your way up plenty of rocky steps as the trail winds through canyons and hilltops along Panther Hollow Creek. Dogs on leashes are allowed.

But don’t try to hike it at 5 p.m. on a hot summer day. Rather, go early, before the heat of the day turns Austin into a sauna. And bring plenty of water – for yourself and your dog, if you bring one.

“The River Place trail is really treacherous when it’s 100 degrees,” says Terrie DeWitt, who hikes the trail frequently. “People have no idea how tough it is.”

She’s encountered dehydrated and overheated hikers and dogs. One couple, who hiked from the lower trailhead to the upper trailhead, came to DeWitt’s nearby house asking for water. She had to drive another hiker back to his car after he couldn’t complete his out and back walk.

“They think they’re going to do the round trip, but they get up here and they’re disoriented,” DeWitt says.

If you plan to hike the trail, DeWitt suggests doing it no later than 8 a.m.

“You can do the 3-mile loop on the lower trial without doing the mountainous part,” she says. “Or you can park one car at the bottom and leave another at the top.

The trail is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. It has two access points — 4207 River Place Boulevard and 8830 Big View Drive. Free. For more information, go here.

Hottest Day of the Year ride set for Aug. 13

Cyclists pedal through the city during the 2015 Hottest Day of the Year Ride. This year's ride is set for Aug. 13. File photo by LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Cyclists pedal through the city during the 2015 Hottest Day of the Year Ride. This year’s ride is set for Aug. 13. File photo by LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Biking around Austin in August can feel like rolling across a giant iron skillet with a blowtorch aimed at your face.

It’s hot, people. But rather than whine, the Austin bicycling community suggests you embrace it.

To help you do that, Bike Austin will host its annual Hottest Day of the Year ride at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.

The supported ride starts from three separate locations – Beverley Sheffield District Park, 7000 Ardath Street; Govalle Park, 5200 Bolm Road; and Gillis Neighborhood Pool, 2504 South Durwood Avenue – and will include stops at some of Austin’s best watering holes and swimming spots.

Healthy snacks will be provided at each stop, and the after party at ATX Factory will include free food, beer, live music, a bounce house and photo booth.

Cost is $5 for members of Bike Austin or $10 for non-members. To register, go here.

Here’s the schedule:

  • 1:30 p.m. – Sign in and fuel up.
  • 2 p.m. Wheels down.
  • 5:30 pm Arrive at ATX Factory, 5323 Levander Loop.
  • 6 p.m. Group photo.

Sponsors include Bicycle Sport Shop, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Ride a bike; see the world (or at least the city)

Pam LeBlanc poses in front of a mural in downtown Austin. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Pam LeBlanc poses in front of a mural in downtown Austin. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

 

Today, you get a list. Specifically, a list of noteworthy things that I’ve seen or experienced lately on my bike commute.

Depending on the day, I pedal between 7 and 20 miles around Austin, getting to and from swim practice, work and interviews. Sometimes I have to take my car, because I need to get to faraway appointments. Still, for the last eight or nine years, I’ve averaged about four days a week on two wheels.

I used to think that would be hard. Then I tried it.

I get a lot out of it, too. I avoid gridlock traffic because on a bike, I’m always moving. I dash over creeks, watch for critters and listen for birds. I get to see buildings sprout downtown. I greet the hard-hat crew, lunch boxes in hand, as they march through city streets before dawn.

And without even trying, I get exercise. I like to think that keeps my legs looking cute. (Humor me, please.)

Sometimes, in the heat of July and August, I question my sanity when I’m grinding up Lamar Boulevard, but fresh spring mornings and crisp fall afternoons make up for the struggle.

Without further ado, my list:

  • Orangey-pink sunsets and sunrises.

    Pam LeBlanc rolling in wildflowers off of Bull Creek Road. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.
    Pam LeBlanc rolling in wildflowers off of Bull Creek Road. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.
  • Murals.
  • The biggest frog I’ve ever seen.
  • Thong guy, up close.
  • Crews rowing on Lady Bird Lake.
  • Construction workers reporting for duty.
  • Friends out for a run or walk.
  • Snakes, slithering across the hike-and-bike trail.
  • Wildflowers.
  • A yard filled with chickens.
  • Sometimes, the mayor or police chief.IMG_3886
  • A rat, sauntering across a downtown intersection.
  • Two weeks ago, a dive-bombing flying cockroach.
  • A squirrel, aiming for my spokes, then bouncing backward after impact.
  • Once, the presidential motorcade.
  • Nutrias, in Shoal Creek.
  • BMX bikes popping like popcorn at the Ninth Street bike park.
  • People living under bridges.
  • A polydactyl cat named Daedo.
  • A Mexican restaurant serving margaritas.
  • Neighbors driving their cars.