Monday, June 25, 2012


Most nights this week, my dad and I have been up late trying to get an old computer running again. A Cromemco Z-2D to be precise, the first computer I ever used in my life, in like 1978 or '79, when I was either 4 or 5. Everything appears to be in working order but we can't get it to boot. Could be anything. Fortunately, computers from that era are easy to work on. They're slow and simple and the documentation includes full schematics. Stunningly, the chips and electronics are still available too, and cheap. The struggle has led to way too many late nights though, including Saturday night.

Sunday morning we'd planned on riding Grapevine early, but as we had, again, been up till 2, we rolled out of bed after 10 and it ended up being a little after noon before we actually got going, right as it really started to get warm.

The Northshore Trail is a loop along the north shore of Grapevine Lake. There are 3 or 4 places you can park. The internet suggested Murrell Park because it was free and shouldn't be too crowded. We found this to be true.

I'm not sure whether it was pure coincidence, or if grapes and grape vines are common in the area (thus the name), but we parked right in front of a massive tangle of them.


They looked and tasted a lot like muscadines but they had much smaller seeds.

It was already over 100 degrees but there were plenty of folks out enjoying the trail. Several mountain bikers came through the lot while we were getting ready and a half dozen or more trail runners passed by as well. I guess if you live here, 100 degrees is no big deal.

Not 3 miles in, my dad flatted.


There are some fairly gnarly rocks here and there at Grapevine, and they kind of sneak up on you.

Earlier, at the car, we'd both noticed that we hadn't any spare mountain bike tubes. I had a road tube and between us we had patches and boots, Co2 and a pump, so we figured we'd be OK.

We were OK all right, but it took tremendous effort to get the tire off, much more effort to clean the old Stans off from when he last ran it tubeless and only slightly less to get the patches to stick. The patches didn't work though and we eventually just threw the road tube in there and headed back to the car. I dug and dug and did eventually find a mountain bike tube.

The road tube was holding up though, and rode well, so we didn't swap it right away, but I brought a second road tube just in case and we hit the reset button on the ride.


The last time we'd been to Grapevine had to have been 10 years ago, or maybe even more and the trail sure has changed since then. We only vaguely remembered it, but we both remembered old, rutted roadbeds and acres of sand. Since then, it's been rerouted and mostly now consists largely of rolling, flowing singletrack, punctuated with stream crossings, bridges, and the most interesting bits of the old trail.

The surrounding woods has a lot of different flavors too, so the trail isn't just the anonymous singletrack that so many massively rerouted trails often become.

There was scrubby woods...

 Scrubby Woods

Grassy woods...

 Grassy Woods

Woodsy grass...

 Woodsy Grass

And several runs along the edge of the lake...

 Northshore Trail - By The Lake

At the extreme east end we discovered the Rockledge Park, teeming with people swimming, boating and sunbathing.


They had the right idea. The temperature was climbing and we were just making it worse by exercising. In the woods it was like an oven and out in the open we were exposed to the full, direct fury of the sun.

 O Meu Padre

Neither of us got sunburned, but standing out in it made my skin hurt. "Ha, ha. White people."

We shredded back west, which for some reason seemed slightly easier. It might have been net downhill, or we might just have gotten a good feel for the trail.


Either way, we made it back to our lot quickly and tanked up at the local drinking fountain.

It's hard to see in this photo, but a wasp was hanging around, drinking from the pools of water that the overspray caused.

 Wasp Drinking

It would buzz around if you used the fountain but then as soon as you left, it went right back to drinking.


We pushed further west, passing ruins of the old route to either side with increasing frequency. Up around that end, the trail runs almost through people's backyards too. It actually lies on Army Corps land but somebody must have gone out there and surveyed to be sure where the borders were because it sure feels like it's in their yard.

Eventually the trail looped back and followed the shore in the other direction.

Shortly before making it to Rockledge earlier, we'd run into a guy who'd flatted his back tire and had been walking for half an hour. We didn't want to part with our only spare mountain bike tube but we stopped to patch it for him. His tire came off easily and the patch looked like it would be sufficient but right then another guy rode up with a spare that we could just throw in. Turned out that guy was largely responsible for the transformation of the trail from the one-way, rutted, degrading mess it had become into its current incarnation. For this, we thanked him. He also kept mentioning "the mad house" at the other end, and giving us mileages in reference to it.

We had no idea what he was talking about, but in due time...

 MADD House

Ahh, MADD (not "mad"):

 MADD House Dedication


Now it made sense.

Not a half mile from there, my dad flatted again, while riding through sand, of all things. I guess that road tube just couldn't hack it. We swapped it quickly that time. I can't remember ever having dealt with so many flats in one ride.

The rest of the trail went quickly and easily.

There was some other 4 mile loop nearby but we declined. The heat was getting to my dad, more than it usually does for some reason. Could be all those late nights. It was definitely hot. The thermometer in my car said 101 but a bank on the way back showed 105.

Hey, it's summer in Texas. It's hot. What are you gonna do?

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