Bruce's bike ride reports

Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hot Fun In The Summertime

Yes, as Sly and The Family Stone sang it way back when, when it's Summer, the heat is up and the fun is too. Despite sales trips out of town and rainy days that have dampened my mileage for the year, I'm still close to 2,000 miles for the year and that's fine. When not riding in or being the admin for a RUSA ride on Saturdays, I still post the club C pace (13 - 15 mph avg. 40 - 50 miles long) outings. There don't seem to be too many riders in that group anymore. Some have moved up to B or A group and others don't ride these days. I feel like a school teacher as I graduate a new class each year from C to B and look for the next batch of riders taking up serious cycling. None on the horizon right now though.  It may not be long that I'll be just posting a note; "Going for a ride, company welcome." and pedal solo or with a few others. If the distance is short, I can go faster. I can't hold the pace though for 50 or 60 miles.

Today, we rode a pretty loop between a suburb of Prattville (Booth) and a small community in south Chilton County known as Enterprise. Jennifer suggested this ride some time back and so it is known as "Jenn's Enterprise". It was warmer and more humid than forecast, sunnier and the wind was opposite the prediction of the night before. Other than that the weather app was right on target. I didn't wear sunglasses due to the forecast and I should have. I'm glad I put on sun block anyway, or I would have burned.  6 of us set out and were soon met by the B group which started earlier on a metric century and planned to catch us on the way. They had 10 speedy spandex whippets but it was still good to exchange greetings as our groups merged for a hundred yards or so. Plenty of fluids today and rest stops as needed to manage sweating and core temp. The air was drier by 11:00 AM but it got very hot.

Some of our riders are on their way back from one thing or another. Jenn is still not fully back from a bout with C. Difficile that required 2 separate hospitalizations and had her "scratching" (to use her term) on death's door. Dawn has a cartilage-less knee which was giving her problems today. She really had to ease up over the hills. Stan has been off the bike tending to ill family members so he is still working on getting back to 100%.  I have no reasons to explain being slow like others do. I'm just slow :) Sarah and Tim were riding just fine. I'm proud of them all.  Still other friends not present today are mending from one thing or another. Stafford broke a bone in a crash with a dog in late June. Holly is getting back into shape after her bike was rear ended by a car. Tony was with family today, but had recent foot surgery. Jeff who wiped out on the last turn of Sunday's social ride and left some skin on the road was out looking good with the B riders today.  It all serves as a reminder to me to appreciate what we have including opportunities to enjoy our rides.

The first stop was the store at Posey's Crossroads. They have not let cyclists use their bathroom for one excuse or another since new ownership has come in. For years prior to that, we did and bought fluid and food refills there.  Today it was a "flooding" issue. That didn't stop a store employee from using it though. Now that Dollar General is open across the street, we'll have to move. Anyway, Sarah needed to GO, so Jenn tells her about a spot behind the office building just down the street. People are IN the office! Sarah is obviously experienced at this because she click clacks in her cleats in and out of the secret spot in back in just a moment or two. Two questions form in my mind. How does Jenn know where this spot is and how is Sarah so adept at utilizing it?  This is reinforced later at another location where Jenn points to a secluded spot for Sarah again.  At least guys use trees, in the woods,  you know? Or plumbing at the Enterprise Store Stop where they were more welcoming.

We ended up with a moving average in the C range and everyone said they really enjoyed the ride. Especially Sarah. ;)

My wife's cousin Becky who lives in LA asked me a little while back for some help in finding the right bike. She previously had a TREK race bike but doesn't want to go that way again. After some back and forth, I thought the perfect bike for her would be a Rivendell Betty Foy or Cheviot, but they are quite spendy. I hunted around and remembered a small boutique company out on the west coast that has bikes made in the same factory as many other brands, including Rivendell, but at a much lower price. Becky agreed and so I am working with Trey at Cycle Therapy in Rome GA (where I ride every other week) on building this bike. Trey also sells custom steel framed bikes (they make them locally) and rides steel often himself. He "gets" what I'm after here for Becky. I posted the picture on FaceBook and it got a lot of likes. In case you missed it:

It should be ready in a couple of weeks. It's a French style bike. The goal is that it feels just right and she never even knows the thinking that went into matching the parts together, I'm very excited to be part of the project. It should come in at about 1/3 the cost of the Rivendell. Or what you might have bought a Riv for back in 2000 or so. I have 2 Rivs and love the ride, the handling and the dependability. I am really looking forward to a pedal with Becky after she gets the bike.

I mentioned RUSA earlier. We have an intro ride, called a "populaire" coming up on 8/19 down on the coast at Orange Beach. It's 100KM (62 miles) and you get the BEACH after the ride. I can't believe more people haven't signed up, but so far it's me and about 4 others. In Sept, there is a more challenging 400K ride from Florala through the FL panhandle and back.  This is our first year at Alabama Randonneurs with rides in the south part of the state. If no riders from the area want in, we'll drop that idea next year. Most of our routes are in the Mid and north areas. As the admin (called an RBA) I hope to have routes all over the state. There is a tedious process to get them certified, and I have a local 200K to work on now that we will run next year.

I've committed to ride a century (100+ miles) with friends in Tallassee next month and in October I'll ride our club century (workers ride - I work the event itself), and I'm doing the rest of the RUSA events this year either pedaling or supporting. Plenty on my calendar bike-wise.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

We're Back On Our Saddles Again!

To paraphrase the country music classic. Yesterday, the regional cycling season kicked off with the Restoration Ride in Alpine AL. It's a fundraiser for a grist mill historical exhibit and in the 3rd year of existence drew its largest crowd to date. As always, it was wonderful to shout "Hi!" to those riders one only sees at these types of events, since they don't live near me. Our River Region was well represented and a number of us rode together. Club nabobs Bonnie and Robert had the new jerseys with them which they passed out. I put mine on over the wool I wore to the event and it served well as a windscreen on a damp, cool and overcast day. It sprinkled some too. Here's a picture taken just before the sun went behind the clouds for good.

It was a pleasant outing and I enjoyed the rideshare conversation up and back (90 mins each way +/-) as well as chitchat with a variety of local and out of town cyclists who I fell in with at different points along the way. I met a couple of new people including a fellow Rivendell rider from the Auburn area. My pace was a bit slower than usual, and I finished refreshed and ready for more. I reminded myself to do this more often :)  The post ride food was very good and I was delighted to see a table with a "Vegan" sign on it! There were other plant based eaters present too so it was a very nice touch.

The nicest thing, and the one that I am still somewhat emotional about, came while a group of us were sitting around eating after the ride. Somehow the topic of how one of our riders got started in cycling came up. One of those at the table said that it was because of me. Then one after another repeated that. I said that I just love bikes and riding and it's a joy to share that with others. But to know that people are getting good out of it and are now themselves sharing it with others is very satisfying to me. I told Sharon about it when I got home and got a little teary. And I'm not usually like that. 

Leaving the parking lot to go home, we soon came upon a rider with a large backpack, heading the same way we were. Brian Toone of course! His training ride for the day included a pedal from Birmingham, the Restoration Ride, and a return pedal to Birmingham. Brian is training for this year's RAAM. He placed in the top 10 on his last outing and looks to improve this year. Nice guy too. I rolled the window down and called out to him and he said hi back but I'm sure he had no idea who it was. 

RUSA season in Alabama starts next weekend with the Homestead Hollow 100K. I'm looking forward to it.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

At the Close of Another Year

While there are yet a few weeks left in 2016, a space of a few hours opened up today because Sharon is not  back from a visit to her mother and the weather is not inviting for a Sunday Social pedal. As is true for many people, I often write based on how I feel. Our feelings inform our faith, politics, and relationships. The problem is, our feelings, mine included, are often wrong. In the worst case, we ignore facts and proceed as we feel. Sometimes, we acknowledge facts but try to shoehorn them into our feelings, instead of adjusting our perspective to the facts. Surely, my very few readers have seen examples of this from many sides during the recent political season. It happens in cycling too.
Despite being sure I was slower than ever, unable to climb a hill without an eBike assist and feeling like I *NEVER* ride anymore, the 2016 ride data says otherwise.

I rode at a FASTER average pace than anytime since 2011. The most climbing and most miles since 2012. More 100Ks than ever. And of course, I have pictures showing me smiling with a large variety of friends on rides all over 5 states. Here is my favorite:

 So, not so bad right? Aside from the fact that the extended cardio probably keeps my genetically sketchy (heart and circulatory issues run on both sides of my family) ticker working beyond its original service life, it elevates my mood, burns off untold bags of potato chips and allows me to enjoy the company of people I really like.

In my first year as the Regional Brevet Administrator for Alabama (that's with Randonneurs USA) our region put on 6 rides and attendance was good. 9 more are planned for 2017, including rides of 300KM and 400KM. I plan to ride all our 100KMs, one of our 200KMs and the 300KM. Depending on how I fare on the 300KM, I'll decide if I should try the 400KM (which is mostly in FL).  I also plan to ride several of the Alabama Backroads Century Series (ABCS) and other charity rides. I'll volunteer at the Montgomery Bike Club "Glassner Autumn Challenge" and ride the Tour Autauga in Prattville, the Restoration Ride in Alpine, the Cycling For Sight in Montgomery, Tri-States 100 in Dothan and the Children's Home ride in Talladega. I'll also pack my bike when I travel (after DST returns) and get in mid week miles mostly with the "Rome Rides A Bike" crowd. Other goals for 2017 include making cycling more widespread and more inclusive locally. We are pleased to have had more minority participation this year, but it's still a very caucasian recreation. Cycling is a unifier. We all look just as silly to outsiders in spandex no matter our politics, religion, accent, or skin color. Cyclists of all types stop to stand around and kibbitz while someone changes a flat tube. (Am I right?) Let's keep taking down barriers while we ride and then leave them down when off the bike. I'll be teaching a basic cycling course for the City of Prattville in the Spring. Hopefully, we'll get some kids and parents off to a safe start and on their bikes. The more people we have pedaling, the better it is for all people who pedal in terms of advocacy and popular mindset.

Although I've never worked as a school teacher, I think I have the same feelings at year end that they do when students advance to the next grade, as another group of C riders moves up to B or faster. I am glad to graduate my "students" but sad to lose their regular company on rides. We still connect from time to time of course when more than one pace group is on the same ride. That is, I miss them until the first of the next crop shows up at a ride! Frankly, the thing I love best about riding is introducing cycling (hopefully SAFE cycling) to new riders each year. Comfort bikes are traded in or sold as people upgrade to clip in pedals, faster rigs with battery powered shifters, lots of carbon, and generally support the cycling business. I still ride the same lugged steel bikes with old school drivetrains and somehow get to where I want to go. "I may not be fast but I am comfortable" is still my tag line. I am pleased to think that after my pedaling days have ended, (hopefully not in the NEAR future!) there will be riders who remember a short old guy in wool who rode in unpadded shorts on leather saddles and was still able to help them adjust the cleats on their clip-ins or get a larger cog cassette to work on the shifter they already had instead of buying new.

Cycling remains a great opportunity to spend quality one to one time with people as we pedal. I hear personal stories and we share ideas as we share the experience. In many cases, it has been a ministry opportunity as well. Speaking of one to one, I smile to think of the couples who have either met on our Sunday social ride or for who the rides have played a role in their relationship. An engagement was just announced last week. There has already been a wedding and a number of current dating pairs. I won't name names, but you all know who you are and you make me happy to be included in your circle of cycling friendship. There are others who I ride with that I just love like sisters and brothers.

I hope to see some of you on a ride soon.

Merry Christmas, and a safe and happy 2017

tailwinds always.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Life changing

That's what I've described the modification of my blood pressure medication to friends as. About a year ago, I started on a blood pressure medicine to combat my hereditary hyper-tension. It helped somewhat, but didn't get the numbers to where my doctor wanted them to be. My  weight is only about 10 lbs over goal and I both eat a healthy (mostly) diet and get exercise. Instead of upping the dosage again on the drug, he added a second element that works as a blood vessel dilator. To be honest, I don't think it's helped with my blood pressure, BUT, it has helped in several important ways. For one, my habitually cold hands and feet are now warm to normal human temperature. For another, blood flow to my heart is better and my athletic performance is notably better. For the third, I have a much greater sense of well being. Instead of going through the motions of exercise and riding my bike, I wake up looking forward to it each time. I'm really, really happy about it. I may not live any longer, but I am sure enjoying the life I live more. And, my BP is lower than it was. So that may help with more years to enjoy the company of loved ones and friends too.

Speaking of cycling, I've been busy. As the new RBA for Alabama in Randonneurs USA, I've organized a 100K and a 200K and have a 300K ride to administer coming in 2 weeks. I've also ridden several permanent populaires, as I work on a P-12 award with 2 cycling buddies from Auburn. This will be my first RUSA award. I even bought the jersey. My 1st non wool purchase in many years!

The old 1980 Nashbar Mark III (UJB, by Maruishi for Arnie Nashbar) got fresh paint from an excellent nearby source and was rebuilt as a Riv-ish tourer. Gone are the mustache bars and ancient 105 double drive train. The cockpit and drive train from the Saluki frame set only sold last year to Kellie (who has done a lovely job in re configuring that bike) went on this bike, along with a neat decal "Old Man Peterson's Ferrous Velocipedes". The old head tube ornamentation was just a decal which was stripped off in the paint  process. Jeff's  pewter "Madonna del Ghisallo" head badge takes its place. No Roman Catholic here, but the image of Mary and Jesus inside a chain ring is cool.  Here's a picture of the bike, now dubbed "Ferrous Bueller."

I think it really came out well and I've ridden it on two brevets since the rebuild. It's very comfortable. I ride less with the local club these days. Out of town most weeks, and schedule competition with rando events cut into club ride time. It's still nice to get out with the gang when I can though. This week, I worked in the Montgomery/Selma/Birmingham area so I was able to get to the Tuesday and Thursday evening rides. They were very enjoyable and well attended. Yesterday was a 41 mile club ride and my first on a tandem. I stoked for Max and we are going to carry that forward to next weekend's Dothan Tri-States century ride. It was a good workout, and we went faster than I would have solo. Tomorrow is the annual Memorial Day Metric. Ferrous gets the nod as steed of the day. I'm hoping for nice weather and a pleasant pedal. Kathy has threatened to keep me company in the rear of the pack too so i won't ALWAYS be straining for a glimpse of taillights in the distance. My average pace is up a little, but this ride is hilly and it will get hot so I don't expect a fast ride. The next two weeks should give faster times due to the layout of the routes.

It's nice to find satisfaction in riding again. Nice to pedal new roads and find new friends. Nice to enjoy time with old friends on well worn routes too. It's just good. :)


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sportease Cycling lights Review

Last year, Stephen Dionne of Sportease World (Ontario Canada) contacted me (as ride chair of the local bike club) about some tail lights his company had made but couldn't sell for some reason. We never did connect on that, but I heard from him again a week ago regarding some new products. I was offered a good discount to buy and try their new headlight and they tossed in a free tail light to seal the deal. I bit on the bait and the items were promptly delivered to my door. My review of each follows. Sportease is a small company founded by Stephen and his wife. He describes himself as an avid cyclist who wrecked on a ride and broke ribs and collarbone because he couldn't see a pothole at night and who wanted a better light for less $ than what he found in the current marketplace. Both items reviewed below have a definite quality feel to them.

1.) The Mini Beacon Headlight. This small unit is impressive. It attaches via a rubber O-ring. The box should contain 4 of different sizes of them (mine had none, but I found one to use in my excess bike parts bin. They are mailing me the ones missing) to fit various sizes of tubing. The unit has a solid strong feel to it. It is made of machined aluminum. It comes in a durable zippered box that fits a plug in recharger, a USB recharger and a helmet mount. The supplied rechargeable battery is a lithium model. It comes in a fabric case that has velcro so you mount it on the bike by wrapping the case around the bike tube of choice and then securing with the velcro. This is okay, but the case cannot be tightly attached this way and the battery slides down towards a bottle cage when put on the seat tube. The battery holder needs a shaped piece of rubber so it can grip the tube, IMO. I took the battery out of the fabric case and tested it bare, securing it with a Dinotte (another brand of bike lite) battery velcro strap.  That was much better. The battery comes with a long cable. This allows you to place it anywhere you want and still reach the headlight mounted on a handlebar or you can wear the battery on your belt and mount the light to your helmet. I had mine on the seat tube and wound the cable around my top tube a few turns which worked perfectly. It did not get in the way of my usual frame pump under the top tube also.
    The light has 4 modes. High (1000 lumens), Medium (600 lumens) and low (300 Lumens) steady beams plus a flash mode (1000 lumens). Battery life is 6 hrs on high and longer on each of the other options. The power button illuminates blue for easy location at night and to tell you that you have enough battery. It turns red when your charge gets low (30% of charge) which is your warning that you have only 30 minutes left of charge. In fact you can do a battery test to see how much you have.  Simple button pushes cycle you through all the choices. On a day light ride yesterday, my faster buddies got way out ahead me. They said that looking back, they couldn't see me, but they sure could see the light flashing. At night, on a dark street, the medium setting lights up a full lane width of road, while high lights up the entire road ahead. Really lights it up. Low would only be useful for urban riding with good street lighting or if riding in a group where many lights provide plenty of illumination.
     The light unit stayed in place on the handlebars despite bumps in the road. The battery pack slid down and stopped at the water bottle cage, but did not get in the way of pedaling at any time. On balance, this is a seriously good light at a reasonable price. The lithium battery keeps the weight low too. The storage box is better than expected. One nit pick; The very skimpy instruction sheet has tiny print if your eyes are old like mine. Overall, a recommended buy. Info here:  (buy it on Amazon)

2.) The Flare Tail light. This ingenious little light is not bright enough for daytime use but is fine for hours of darkness. It has a spring loaded gripper and you squeeze the two legs to open the gripper which then grabs your seat post or other tube when you let go. It has an internal USB charged lithium battery and comes with a charging cable, although it works with the cables that come with many phones and other devices. The two legs each have multiple LEDs and there are two settings of steady light and a flash mode. I show only a handful of seatpost and that is filled by an underseat saddle bag, so I attached mine to the seat tube. Because seat tubes are angled, the light faces slightly down. This did not diminish the night time visibility much. Also, there seemed little difference at a distance in how bright the two settings appear, so I use the low setting for longer battery life. The gripper is rubber lined and will not mar the bike tube. This light has no reflector area, so you still need a red rear reflector to be legal on the roadway at night. Some tailights have both a light and a reflector (which  has to meet state requirements. In Alabama: "red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector."  Code 32-5A-265)  This light is visible for 1/4 mile or more behind the bike. When your battery gets low, the unit blinks rapidly to tell you that you are at 20% of charge.
Package Data:
Weight is 50 grams
60 lumens on High steady.
30 lumens on Mid steady.
60 lumens of flash.
6+ hours in High steady
19+ hours in Mid steady
12 hours in Flash

 The best feature of this light is how easy it is to remove it and put on another bike. It would be better with an angled construction that puts the light directly back, but it is still quite visible. 19 hr is a great run time on a usable brightness. Overall, I think this light would be a great buy at a lower price, and is an okay buy at the current price. Something to jump on if on sale or with a coupon. As an aside, with the mini beacon on the bike, this light fits in the beacon's storage case along with the accessories when not in use.

Info Here:

Let me know any questions. I will be using my pair of lights on my week night rides all Summer.


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