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

Monday, December 29, 2008

Making the Grade

I finished last weekend 107 miles shy of the 3,500 set as my annual goal for the year. The weather here in FL has been conducive to riding, with today being best of all. Almost calm air (reflected in a 13% improvement in average speed) pleasant sunshine and blue, blue skies. Plotting a course of at least 25.4 miles would get me to the finish line.

I did part of Saturday's ride again, enjoying Buckeye Rd once more. I paid more attention to the water filled ditches this time. The round dark shapes in them were, on more careful inspection, rubber, and not reptilian. In fact, I saw no alligators this trip. That is actually a good thing. A couple of locals on knobby tired mountain bikes waved and encouraged me to go faster. They were unacquainted with my riding habits!

Today I went up to Sun City and stopped at the Race Track gas station next to I-75. It was packed with vacationers going or coming. One fellow with a hybrid on the back of his SUV stopped to talk about biking. He's heading to Naples, and I suggested he try Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The traffic in Sun City was thick but most of the way had bike lanes or shoulders to ride on. I stayed off the golf cart paths, which the seniors use. I reasoned my chances were better with the regular traffic :)

It was a nice ride, and I could have gone further, but the Sun was starting to feel a little strong on my neck and arms. 33.2 miles was the distance and the 3,500 mile mark was acheived. This may be the last ride for the year, but I'm off work on 1/1, so we'll start the New Year off right. 1/2 will be quiet at work, so a bike commute is possible, if the weather cooperates. Another good way to start the year. I always advertise my rides in club posts as 13 - 15 avg speed and for the year, it's an overall average of 14.2 mph. I climbed over 118,000' this year as well, and will continue to do hills frequently. I never like the hills, but I do need the work.

Happy 2009 one and all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Cowbell

That's what my ride needed today. Anything to distract me from the wind howling in my ears. I thought it was a bear yesterday to pull back home into the gusting winds, but today it was even stronger, and steadier. Our weather is supposed to change for the colder tomorrow, and this may be a precursor to the expected front. It was delightful to cruise WITH the wind at 18 - 23 mph, but far less fun for the longer pull home into the wind at about 11 mph. I passed one other rider going the opposite way and we waved, but that was it. She was a local I'm sure, on a light blue Trek compact design frame. The area has citrus groves and cattle farms and cows have been out both days. Here are some having a late breakfast:

Fruit picking crews were out today and the trucks were loading with beautiful orange fruit.
Artificial coloring not needed.

I heard a couple of dogs but none came out to harass me. About 1/2 way through the ride, I pulled over for a little rest stop. This picture really captures how I feel about riding. It matters little how fast I go, just that forward progress continues to be made.

Yesterday, two wrong turns were made, but that did not happen today. I get so involved in watching the traffic around me, the road, the sights, that I sometimes miss the turns. As long as I have the time, it's all good.

Once I headed back to the East, the full force of the wind hit. Coming off the fields, it felt like pedaling through jello. The key is to find a gear ratio and cadence that I can stay at for a long time. There is a natural tendency to hunker down in headwinds and that causes hand pain and saddle aches. I have to force myself to relax the upper body. To that end, these longer duration headwind rides are excellent training. Not much hill work here though.

I passed this crowd having lunch. They didn't budge as I approached. Perhaps they meant to invite me to share their meal? Or looking at the slow progress I was making, maybe they thought that I was their next meal. Florida has a lot of buzzards, let me tell you.

Being in the aircraft hangar business, I saw a sign for Manatee Airport, so I headed down the side road. This is a single grass strip, and features a wide assortment of ancient and rusty recreational and aviation equipment. A number of planes were for sale, and others were tethered under this rusted shade port made of tubing and canvas. One of our competitors erects hangars made of tubes, but I doubt whether they supplied these rinky dink shades.

I'm inching ever closer to the annual goal. Maybe tomorrow or Monday, it will happen.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yo Wimauma!

We're down in FL for Christmas. Yesterday was a great family gathering with assorted Aunts, grandparents, etc. There was no shortage of food and good conversation, and the weather down here is, in a word, warm. While Orange County CA has frost on the roof tops, SeaTac has hip deep snow, and airline delays can be found across much of the country due to unusually harsh winter weather, it's warmer than normal down here, and mostly sunny. I puttered a little yesterday in street clothes, just waving to holiday celebrants, both the 2 and 4 footed varieties. I was up way past my bed time, having become hooked on a TV show, "House." I never watched it, but USA had an all day marathon and between 8 and 11 PM I caught several episodes. You figure eventually they will run out of obscure disorders that only House can divine, and then only after lots of drugs. For now though, it's pretty good acting and some oddball plot twists that keep it interesting. Much better than Kingdom Hospital (Steven King's series) that got silly very quickly.

This morning was not rushed. I enjoyed listening to all the critters. Nana & Papa have 7 acres across from Little Manatee River State Park and get all sorts of wildlife on the property. They have had wild hogs, bobcats, a panther, turtles and snakes. Coral snakes lately, and they are very venomous. They have also collected an assortment of strays that they refer to as "pets." The senior member of their pack is Bootsie, a psychotic cat. Bootsie shares the house with Lady, a Chiuaua who thinks she really is a lady. Talk about a pampered, spoiled dog! She adores Papa and he returns the feeling. The feral garage stray cat, Tank, has now transformed into a neck stole, frequently draping herself around Papa's neck. I'd like that in Winter. In July, not as much.
Now there is Ruby, a Rhode Island Red hen who appeared one day and decided to stay. Tank plays with her. She sleeps in an oak tree and in a bit of gender identity problems, advertises the sunrise the way males of her species are prone to do. She lays very nice eggs (free range!!) when they can be found. She also is not a tidy eater, scratching the leaves and planter mulch completely in her search for tender morsels. And she does not use a litter box, of course.

My morning coffee and animal theater time was followed by a cruise on the old Nasbar criterium bike. It's set up as a country bike with fatso 650B tires and it is geared just right. I really am surprised at how much I like it. Here it is again resting in the shade and leaning against some palmettos.

I intended to ride 16 miles to Big Bend and watch Manatees, but the distance turned out to be a lot more, by the more rural route I took. The wider shoulders and fewer cars were definately the way to go, but I knew I had to keep some energy in reserve for the ride home. I checked out Manatee Airport, Gulf City, and Ruskin, and went on down to the canals leading to Tampa Bay. No manatees there, but it's not cold enough to draw them in yet.

Here's the canal at the end of College Pt Rd. Sleepy and relaxed down there today. The gears on the small chainring are low enough that this bike handles well off road. Race bikes get pretty skittish on anything other than smooth paved roads, so I like being able to go anywhere.

These flags at Southside Baptist church will give you some idea
of the wind. It was gusting to around 20 - 22 and pretty steady in the 15 - 17 range. There is nothing to cut it down along much of the route and of course it was
blowing harder coming in than it was going out. Isn't that ALWAYS the way? Ruskin was a neat little town, with bike lanes! I passes strawberry stands, but I think that it's too early in the season for them to be ripe yet.

Plenty of wildlife today too. A hawk was by the side of the road with something that had recently been caught for his lunch. Great Blue Herons, Tri Color Herons, Egrets, Buzzards of course. A little over 40 miles today and that last pull into the wind, Oy what a good work out. Only 50 miles to make my annual goal!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ramer Mosey

After two weekends of mid 30s temps in succession, mid 60s weather today was a welcome early Christmas gift from the universe's Chief Meteorologist. Certainly, it was an opportunity to turn the cranks which was not to be missed. 4 of us were to meet for a Club Lite down at the Pintlala church but Joe couldn't make it. That left Roger (not the club president, the other one. Can we shorten that to "NTCP?" This also stands for "Na/Taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide" but we can keep them straight, can't we?) and Mike, a recent addition to the club to join me on the way.

We had a great ride today. The terrain was its usual interesting rolling self, and we enjoyed the easy pace and free flowing conversation as well. The uphill cruise to Ramer was mostly in calm air. The ride back was okay until we turned west from Hobbie Rd into what had become a stiff breeze. Especially coming off the open fields. Cedric (at the store) tried to tell us that it was all downhill, but we are not just off the boat yesterday! It did smell wonderfully in the store, as someone was making an entree for a later lunch festivity. Somehow Roger wrangled an invite to come back and join the lunch down in Ramer. I like that about him, he looks for interesting and unusual persepectives on our common condition. Roger, hope you'll tell us how it went.

Not much dog activity and traffic was light. I pointed out the club ride landmarks to Mike: The Day Lily House (no flowers now of course) the Blue house, the German Shepherd house. Also, someone's favorite tree, off the corner of Smiley Ferrry & East Hickory Grove. You never know when that sort of info comes in handy.

I got to know Mike better on the trip too. He's good people. Sadly, when his wife the Major finishes the class they are here for, who knows where Uncle Sam will dispatch them next? That's been the biggest adjustment for me, coming to the Montgomery area. Many of the people that I have really come to enjoy riding with, and wanted to spend more time with end up getting transferred out of the area. The military people are used to it and deal with it pretty well.

When it got pretty windy, I said to Roger, "don't you think the young guy should get out front and pull?" Mike looked around, "which one of us is the young guy?" he asked. It's you Mike, by a LOT :) Of course, when he got out front, those peppy YOUNG legs dropped us old foggies in a heartbeat.

And lest you worry dear reader, that the weather threw me a wardrobe curve, be assured that it did not. Wool everywhere: jersey, shorts, and socks, and I was very comfy all the way through.

We ended up with approx 35 miles in 2:25. It was just about perfect for not quite in shape riders with a free morning to go out and ride. When the bad weather moves through here tomorrow, we'll be glad that we got this ride in.

Just a few more days left in the year and I am 107 miles shy of my annual goal. CAN I DO IT? I'll let you know :)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ho Ho Ho, Bike Club Christmas Party!

Yes, ho, ho, ho to you Roger for hosting this year's club holiday gathering. Great turn out and I even recognized a couple of people there! You get to where you know people by their bikes, so when they are in street clothes with a plate of appetizers in hand, your mind goes blank. "Lance, uh, uh, what-was-it-again?" The food was tasty and the conversation filling. I met a few spouses and significant others who do not come out and ride. I was asked by several folks at the party if I had on a wool shirt tonight. One of those who asked was even still sober at the time. Could you smell me? Wool doesn't have an odor people!!Get with the program here.

I caught up on who had done what to their rides to make them even more tricked out than before. That of course is easier than making the engine stronger by, say, riding. I know, I know, the Alice Doctrine states that you cannot ride at any temperature less than your age. Louise finally took the compact crankset plunge (I also put one on the MArk III). She loves it. It was dear in cost, but less expensive than fixing a flat tire for her. (The last two times she brought flats into the shop to be patched, they sold her a new bicycle). Bill has built his Salsa into the 2 wheeled version of a Shelby AC Cobra. He has to have a visiting mechanic come with a torque wrench and tensionometer to micro adjust after each ride. "It's like tuning a Ferrari" he said. NO joke, he REALLY said that. I am not innocent either, I must confess. I have been getting wool stuff to wear left and right. I may be the only one around who is unhappy at our current 65F temps.

I was tickled to learn that someone DOES read this blog! Never met him before, but he and his main squeeze have me 1/2 talked into riding the Erie Canal (you need VERY wide tires to stay up on canal water, I think) or maybe Key Biscayne to Portland ME. Depends on whether they have a regular length or a long weekend free, they said. I'm not sure, but I will probably need more than even a long weekend. My bikes don't go fast enough for whirlwind touring. Something about the engine seems lacking.

Bill showed no quarter as he spilled the beans about my various fauxs pas (Irina, our recent returnee from studying in France will have to advise me on the plural of that) to anyone in ear shot. Then Jack chimed in, "Remember the time he left me for dead by the side of the road..." I knew it was time to vamoose. After hearing ALL the reasons why people are not riding these days, it looks like after the holidays before the good old Club Lite days fire back up. In the meantime, it was good to see you all, have a safe and Merry Christmas and a happy and mile filled new year.

I'll be the one on the lugged steel bike. Wearing wool.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cool Runnings

The thermometer said 28F when the sun rose today. By ride time, it had skyrocketed to 36F. At least the winds were calm. I met Joe at the Village Green park for an 8:30 start. Two new faces came by as well, Monty and Ken. And new as in new to cycling. Not just new to Club Lite. They had bikes. Still on the "need to get" list were things like: Gloves (Brrr!), spare tube, patch kit, pump, tool kit. Stuff like that. Actually, Ken had most of it. He had a CO2 kit, but he hadn't tried it out yet. Michelle can surely give him lessons. I'm a pump type myself. If you freeze the grass blades but miss the valve stem with your ONLY CO2 cartridge, you still have a flat. With a pump, you run out of arm before you run out of air. When you're cute like Michelle, guys fight for the chance to pump your tires up. Ken, you don't have that going for you buddy. Sorry. Since no one had a flat, it all was good.

Monty was spending some extra time in the parking lot after the rest of us had cleared the vicinity so we doubled back to check it out. Seems his spd cleats would not go into the pedals. After watching for a little while, it appeared that the tension in the pedals was way too tight. Ken's pocket tool had the right hex key, so Monty was able to loosen it and away we went. For a couple of new guys, they handled themselves pretty well. We had the abbreviated version of the Beginner ride safety talk before mounting up, and no problems came out during the ride. Monty wanders too close to the center line for my taste (Many careless vehicles come across into our lane, even just a little) but how could I complain since JOE does the same thing! No close calls today, just some irate drivers. One old guy laid on his horn and he had NO reason to. We were behaving then.

Ken did the 16 mile version: He turned around at the Holly Mart in Elmore. The rest of us headed up Cesarville Rd to The Boys Store in Slapout. On the way, we passed a solo rider going south and exchanged greetings. A few minutes later, he was behind me in the paceline. "Who's back there?" I asked. "Scott Angus" came back the reply. Hmm, doesn't SOUND like Chief Break-A-Sweat, I thought. Turns out we have TWO guys with the same name in the area. This new one hauls pretty quickly, so the two Scotts would probably have a good ride together. Sweat might even happen. New Scott was very congenial and says that people refer to drafting him as being like "riding behind a UPS truck." I could really enjoy riding with him :) Another shining moment was when he was behind me in the line and asked if my bike was running White Industries hubs (Yes it is) . He didn't get the Paul Neo Retro brakes, but he did good.

Scott went all the way around to Millbrook with us before heading back to his home base. Monty was hanging in with us in good shape all the way. I think that once he dials in his new ride and figures out what works best for him in the way of gear and clothes, he'll really enjoy himself. "How often do you guys ride centuries?" was what he asked me today about mile 23. He's thinking in the right direction anyway. We didn't harass him too much. He thought his front derailer was out of adjustment becuase he couldn't get the large chainring. At a break, I looked at it, pushed the lever and went right on it. "It's the rider, not the shifter" I reported. :) His STIs had indicators in the hoods which were new to me. When you have friction bar ends like I do, you miss all the latest techno stuff. The gear position thingies he had looked pretty cool.

The way back was quicker than the way out, despite the headwind which kicked up. Plenty of dogs today, but all were friendly. The bell worked 100% of the time. The ride finished for us at 13.7 avg, in the advertised (phatt tire bike) range of 13 - 15. I may kid about the riders and the gear, but I keep it straight when giving route, grade and speed info. It matters to me to know what I'll be facing, so it may matter to others too. Joe had to make it somewhere on time so he and Scott left us in a cloud of dust the last 8 miles. Hope he enjoyed his day regardless.

Rides seem a little tougher in the cold, but I am glad when they are over that I've done the work. Learning from last week, I went baselayer: LS SWOBO wool, jersey: LS Nike wool, Livestrong DriFit jacket over it all . Wool Jonesware shorts under medium weight Hind tights. Defeet wool socks in swoosh hi tops, with toe covers on. Ibex wool gloves. Wool Walz cap under the helmet. Worked very well. I've been fighting off whatever is making the rounds in our part of the world this week, so it wa a little harder than I'd like to pedal. After about 10 miles though, I felt warmed and loose, and didn't think about it again. How great it is that we can just get on a bike and ride. THAT never gets old.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ready for Spring to come, already.

It's been about a month (Since 11/8) since my last Club Lite ride. A month ago it was in the 60s. Today it was in the 30s. Guess which temperature bears the Bruce seal of approval? There were 4 of us today at John Hall for an 8:30 roll out, and we all made comments about "out of shape" or some such. Some faster riders came out as well: Richard, Patty, Dan, and Vanessa cooked along smartly. They left after we did, rode further than we did, and returned to the cars before we did. 'Nuff said?

I had on my birthday suit. Literally. The base layer and long sleeve jersey were BD gifts of Joneswares Wool, as were Ibex wool gloves. Wool Joneswares shorts and wool socks (is there a trend here?) too. Some tights over the shorts and a wind breaker over all that. Wool cycle cap by Jackie Walz on top. I have been taking some ribbing at home for wearing basketball shoes on my bike. I got the things (on closeout) for cheap when I was coerced to come out for the church league basketball team. While Woody Harrelson may not be able to jump like Wesley Snipes, I can't even get my feet more than an inch or two off the floor. Needless to say, I did not stay on the BBall squad, but still had the sneakers. They're black with yellow piping and a yellow Nike Swoosh. UGLY. But wait! What lately unretired cycling Texan sells a line of Nike sportswear in black with yellow trim? Presto chango, these are now my LIVESTRONG cycling shoes, and are considered uber cool by my fellow riders. They all are so jealous now: hunting up another pair is a fruitless exercise. Courtesy of Ebay, I already had a pair of actual Livestrong dri-fit shorts, and today the nice Fedex ground driver brought a year end closeout from Lance: (or one of his elves. Does he have eleves too?) a Livestrong Dri-Fit jacket.

Bottom line is that the clothes took the weather out of the equation. Too bad I couldn't order up more legs though. I was breathing heavily when we started and wondered if I could even do 35 miles. It took about 7 miles for everything muscle wise and cardio wise to warm up and then it was pretty much okay. I carry a lot of weight too. A steel bike, fattish tires and typically, everything except a kitchen sink in my saddle bag. Today the 24 oz water bottle (another BD item) was on the bike so I carried 44 oz all told. Oh, and I think I carried another couple of lbs around my waistline. Yet another BD gift, and all that good T-Day week eating at middle sister's too.

Joe came today, and relaxed along with us some. Mostly he was a mile ahead. We know because his Dinotte tail light is visible that far. He said he was out of shape, but his riding didn't reveal it. Therese came out and I suckered, err, persuaded her to take a clown looking jacket off my hands. It's pink and silver and blue. Oh wait! It looks GOOD on a girl. Hmmm..... Could that Ebay seller have lied when he said, "sure it's for a guy. Paypal or check?" New guy Mike was along too. He and his wife are here for just a year to attend one of the many classes at the Air Force base that go by an acronym. MKY MSE or something like that. I could never keep that stuff straight when I worked for Uncle Sam. Life was simpler back then too. Your fatigues were just one color. My eyes hurt looking at some of the camo patterns they have these days. I notice that Air Force and Army people have different camo schemes. I guess the Air Force doesn't want their troops to be seen when they are in the air. Army people are more often on the ground, so we had to blend in with trees and grass and stuff like that. I think I could spot an Air Force person in a plane or under a parachute pretty fast though. Their camo is just not that good.

We wore whatever it was that we had and rode to the store on US 231, then back to the cars. The Sun was out only fleetingly and when it went behind the overcast, it was damp and cold. It's hard for me to remember to drink enough when I ride in the cold and today was no exception. I ran into cramps about 2 hours out and had to drink all that was in the bottles. It helped and spinning the last 7 miles back really helped. You wouldn't think a month away would do that, but it did. Everyone said they had a good time regardless of the weather, or my snailish pace. Mike said the headwind didn't bother him much, to which I suggested that he ride in FRONT for a while. I need to connect him with that other guy who says he loves the wind. Hopefully, Mike will come out and join us again, and maybe bring along his wife too. I'm glad that we got the ride in, all things considered, and now there is some good football in the offing to watch on TV. Nice Saturday on balance.

It's time to start on winter bike projects too. The handlebars on the Ram will be re wrapped, and the interrupter brake levers removed. They never see any use, why have them? Brake cables will be replenished then as well. I already did the chain on that bike (got 4,000 mi on the original one. It was nothing fancy), and the BB looks good. The wheels have serviceable bearings and we'll get that done as well.

If I wake up with legs tomorrow, I expect I'll go ride somewhere. I already know what happens when I don't ride, I guess I better keep it going.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Update

No, you didn't miss any ride reports. We drove up to my middle sister's in WV on Weds and came back yesterday, to rain. If it clears this afternoon, I'll get in some miles, just to stretch my legs. I do have a bike with fenders, after all.

It had been 4 or 5 years since my two sisters and I were last co located for a visit, and the time this week went very well. They're great gals and I am glad we got some time together. The nieces were lovely as well, and the other side of my sister's family, there for the grand buffet of Tur-Kay (or maybe the jumbo jugs of wine?) were very entertaining. Hopefully, they all feel similarly. I have been threatened with bodily harm if I upload the video of us singing Christmas carols to the tune of baby sister's guitar picking, so you'll have to imagine some bad singers who invent words for songs as memories fail. The guitar part was the only portion on key. It really was a highlight of the trip for me! AND, my brother in law is getting interested in a new bike! We verified his PBH and found that he should be on a 62 cm frame. He has a 56 now, with the seat post way up, and his hands hurt from leaning too far down to get the flat style handlebar on a Diamondback Sorrento. I see him on a tourer or cylcocross frame with semi knobbies and very low gears for those mountainsides they live on.

The drive up and back was pretty enjoyable too. After totally disdaining them, I found that an ipod can be pretty interesting. A great playlist, some loud singing, and I only had to navigate! Traffic was light, and we skirted most of the rains by heading home west first, then south. Only after catching the news last night, did I learn that Montgomery had over 3" of rain yesterday. Our rain gauge shows 1.7" here. In other news, our HS team won its semi-final football game and plays long time foe, Hoover (the school that had an MTV series going for a while) for the title. In 2005, Hoover beat us, and they beat Daphne in 2006. We won the past two years (over Hoover and Spain Park) and are heading for a threepeat. The current starter at Alabama, John Parker Wilson was the QB at Hoover who beat us. Hoover has won 1/2 a dozen state titles recently so they have a longer winning history, but we're gaining. Why HS football interests me, I do not know. My own alma mater, lost it's PSAL championship game last weekend. Their last title win was in '72. Last trip to the game was like '82. At least they made teh finals this year. Go Seahorses!!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hooray For Woolies!

The kind you wear.

There was some talk about bike rides today. One comment by Robert suggested that since it would be 35F at 9 Am, rides should start at 10:00. Robert was off by a degree. It was 34 when I shoved off at 9:00. Remarkably, I was alone on my bike! With a birthday upcoming, I was gifted with some Joneswear wool: a turtleneck base layer and (2) two color jerseys (a long and a short sleeve), as well as Ibex wool gloves with cool, antelope pattern rubber grippies on the palm. Today, I wore a very thin Swobo base layer and then the Joneswear turtle neck, the short sleeve wool jersey and covered it all with a Comp-Velo (our local race team. The company I work for is a minor sponsor) team wind jacket. (Swobo/Jones/Jones/Velo. Reads like a Egyptian sarcophagus, doesn't it?) Wool Joneswear shorts and a pair of Hind tights kept me warm below deck. Joneswear wool socks in Nike Air hi-top BBall shoes on my feet (You never know when you'll pedal by a good pick up game of 2 on 2) and I was good to go. Oh, a wool bike cap under the helmet. A gal (Jackie Walz) up north hand makes these and sells them very reasonably on Ebay. You can email her any special request you have and she is able to stitch it up for you. You can also buy regular (somewhat fancier and pricier) stuff at their family's store. Wool keeps you warm when it gets wet. and it doesn't stink.

Despite what my guffawing critics think, thin merino wool wicks away sweat in the summer and keeps you cooler than any of the new hi tech fabrics. And once again, it doesn't stink. It is more work to wash, when you finally decide it's time. I get 4 - 6 wearings between washing, btw.

The bigger problem today was a month has elapsed since I last seriously did hills. My legs are indeed grumbling..

The route was an adaptation of our Prattville Loop Hill drill from the Summer series that the club has had the past couple of years. I chose the heaviest bike in the garage, with fatso 38.5 mm Ourson tires. On a cold day, the cush is great. For some reason, you feel the jarring of bumps more keenly when it's cold out. Average speed was down a mph or two, so what? It was sunny and lovely, and I thought about cadence and effort level management. The Holly trees are bursting with bright red berries now. I noticed several on Durden Rd. A rare freight train came through town and that meant stopping to wait and watch it go by. This crossing lacked barriers, so it is a GREAT idea to stop at tracks and look before proceeding. I stopped downtown at Heritage Park as always and took in the scenery. A deli is now open on Court St, and its location duly noted for a lunch time expedition on some work day.

There is some talk about a trip up to WV for Thanksgiving. My middle sister, who is the prospective hostess, left me a wall comment on Facebook this week. She said she'd "call in a couple of days" to discuss details. So far no word. Should I take the hint? There is a ham in our fridge to bring, but I suppose we could eat it here ourselves :) The youngest of us 3 sibs is in NJ and puportedly driving to WV as well. Probably 4 or 5 years have slipped by since we spent the holiday together. Certainly not since the move to Heart of Dixie.

A word about Ginger in Plant City. She's all grown up now, but when she was younger, we attended the same church. Her older sister was one of the JHS/HS kids I had for Sunday School maybe one or two terms. She's been fighting and doing well against lymphoma for some time. Recently, it flared up and she's had a marrow transplant. Lots of details but the short of it is that for about the 2d time in my life, I heard a calling to pray on her behalf specifically for a step she was going through at that time. She reported later in her blog that she felt better (at the time I was praying, natch) and thanked everyone that prayed for her. I haven't talked much about the "calling" thing, and who knows which prayer it was that was efficacious? Okay, I sort of think I know. I pray for lots of people and things all the time, as so many of us do. It's a very special feeling though to have a distinct sense of calling, step out and do it (you are foolish to trust God right? What if it doesn't work out? That's how we feel mostly.) and see a result. I know it does a lot for MY faith. We're doing a Sunday study in John, and in numerous instances, we read that the purpose of the miracles performed was so that people would come to faith, or come to better faith. So, Ginger is still in a lot of prayers, mine included. Just the regular ones today though. :)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where did iBob go?

That Frappr map of lugged steel bike types was getting annoying, so with the magic of the "del" key, POOF! and it's gone. An "iBob" is someone on the internet (the "i" part) who likes lugged steel bikes. The name comes from an old email list called the Bridgestone Owners Bunch (The "Bob" part) Bridgestone makes tires which is what they are known for in the US these days, but they make, and used to sell in the states, steel framed bicycles. They pulled out of the market at about the time that Trek and Cannondale, followed by Specialized were really taking things over but they still sell in Japan and other places. A lot of people who had them started writing about them and the list came about. Bridgestone type bikes are still sold in the US by several companies, notably Rivendell (Walnut Creek CA) which is staffed by the folks let go when Bridgestone left the scene. Bridgestones and Rivendells are like older style English bikes (intended to carry most of the load in the rear) as opposed to French bikes (which are set up to carry most of the load, "porteur" style, up front) Too much information?

I've set Mark III up with a big Acorn brand saddle bag in the back, chock full of the usual goodies. If for no other reason, I am usually welcome on club rides as my saddle bag is likely to carry anything anyone might need along the way. Tubes, tools, TP, band aids, SPF 50, lip balm, rain wear, Golf Digest, practice balls and a folding club (handy while someone is changing a flat),
you name it. At the moment though, Mark III isn't going anywhere. His rear wheel is removed and a home built trainer wheel mounted in its place. Last night, I began my winter struggle with trainer stand sessions. I hate, hate, hate, the trainer stand. I did find that doing it on a bike you like, and to Led Zeppelin, makes it very liveable. The new Brooks saddle is a bit hard still, but the shorter intervals now are good for taking care of that without damaging ME.

Even on Fridays, when I get home an hour earlier, there is not sufficient day light for a decent ride. I guess this is it, the regimen till Spring. So it's weights twice and trainer stand twice and Weds night off to teach the kidlets. We'll see if I have legs in March..

No miles at all this past weekend. I went around the neighborhood, less than 10 miles, but the wind was rough and it wasn't any fun. Catching up on letters and fixing a pen was a better way to spend the time. I caught some football on TV too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Not beneath my wings

The wind that is. Today's relaxer ride was anything but! A brisk swirly breeze that was surely a headwind in 3 of 4 compass directions was quite the cardio work out!! After 10 miles, the wind was pushing me backwards, so Therese said, "You want me to pull for a while?" Was THAT a lifesaver! I caught my breath and tried to stay near her for the next 6 miles or so. I did a little more after that, but my legs were worn out. Coming back and cleaning up, I finally got a relaxer in.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Leaves are Falling

The temperature was a good 20 degrees warmer this morning when we set out riding, than it was last Saturday. That’s partially due to warmer weather this week, but also to Alice’s good sense to start riding at 9 AM (which would have been 10 last Saturday) . This gave the sun a shot at taking the chill off things. The shady areas were still certainly cool enough and I felt very comfy all day with a thin wool long sleeve base layer and a short sleeve jersey over it. Wind jackets build up too much sweat inside, which soaks the clothes and makes me colder. Wool breathes and wicks away moisture. Just as it is cooling in the summer, it’s plenty warm in the winter.

6 other Club Lite riders came in answer to Alice’s clarion call. 3 other cyclists exchanged greetings with us, but they had further and faster plans than we did. I hadn’t seen a couple of the Club Lite people for quite a while, so it was good to be together on a ride once again. Michelle is back at it after her bout with an as yet cause undefined abdominal infection. After her many protestations that she was “just easing back in to riding” she was so far out ahead of us, it was ridiculous. She lopes along at 20 mph. Imagine if she TRAINED. Another one off medical leave is Mary. She too was happy to be aboard the bike again. I think that had she not decided to toss her chain off, she might have raced away with Michelle. Mary is one of those “sneaky fast” riders. Talks to you all nice and sweet, and then woosh! see ya, sucka! I truly enjoyed conversing with each rider as we shifted around and ended up together for long enough to chat. It was surprising to hear that people who were surely on the other side of the political spectrum from me chose the same or most of the same candidates that I did. The big topic on everyone's minds is the economy. It affects everyone, but not all in the same way.

The day was absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies, just like Skynard sang of, and nice colors (courtesy of more rainfall this year). Winds were calm when we started, but picked up to a steady 15ish with gusts to 20 (headwinds of course!) at the end. I snapped some pictures along the way, and rather than comment on them, some are just below. All these and more can be found on Flickr as well.

This was the first run on the NXO-B (the red bike) with a changed out crankset and rear gears. It came set up like a criterium racer and the gearing was too tall for me anyway, let alone dragging up hills. The front has a Campy Veloce compact now and the rear has larger gears. Hills were much

better today and I really liked the bike.

There were a number of highlights and I would be remiss to omit mention of them.

Michelle treated everyone to bananas at the Ramer Store.

I learned that Mosely’s store in Pintlala has a WINE TASTING. I shudder to think where they grow the grapes for that.

Phillip went to get a bottle of wine for Alice to note her birthday today, but came back with a beer instead. Happy BD no matter what, Alice!!

And the highest highlight….. Tommy was wearing wool socks

Final tally was about 35 miles at 14.2 mph for me. I’m already looking forward to the relaxer ride tomorrow.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

leaves turning, pedals churning

(As always, you can click on any picture to see a larger size version)

The little hybrid maple tree that Alex and I struggled to plant almost 3 years ago (the red clay does not easily yield to a shovel) has grown and is finally showing some nice color! You can see in the picture that my neighbor's grass has obligingly gone dormant for the winter, but mine is still green. I suppose one more mowing is in my near future. Not today though as Bill R and I decided to check out Fall colors in and around Autauga County.

I posted the ride to the club, but it was just the two of us who showed up. Robert said he never saw the post and Joe was at a homecoming game of some school in Tuscaloosa. At least they had a chance of winning this weekend. The boys across the state in Auburn fared not so well. I think the only team with a lock was our local, rated #1 in the state, high school team. The Prattville Lions did indeed win handily over another good team on Friday.

The route we chose was the Autauga Loop, as posted by local cycling legend Mike Munk. I've only ridden it once before, but have done parts of it on the Tour Autauga, a cancer care fund raiser ride. In fact, Bill Duke, who is the man behind Tour Autauga, buzzed by Bill & I as we were getting ready this morning in the BP parking lot. Bill was going out to help oversee an Eagle Scout project and couldn't ride, but did share that he has a new Trek Madone incoming, and he is quite excited about it. Let's see, excited about a new bike, hmmm. A show of hands for anyone who can relate, please!

It was 38 F here in Prattville but only 32F out in the country when we started. Thanks God, for providing merino sheep, that's all I can say! We bundled up, hit the store where we were parked for last minute supplies and headed out on the road. To help us get warm, the first 6 miles of the ride was a constant 2% to 3% upgrade. It was good work and it warmed our leg muscles nicely. We were prepped for the bigger climbs to come, that's for sure. The route as we ended up doing it is 55 miles +/-, and I think Bill's GPS registered about 2,400' of climb. My legs registered at least 2,300', and they are fairly accurate. They were sore and tired so I know we went up, frequently. There was a range of grades, with 10% or 11% being the max. The toughest one to me was about 36 miles out, probably because it was when my legs were already noticeably tired.

The morning was gorgeous, with still air and golden sunshine, contrasting with deep gray shade in the dells.

Here's a view showing the beginnings of some color, and the rolling hills that we were on all day. This is about 6 miles east of Evergreen. Although it was warm enough in the sun to make us perspire, any movement was still chilly. While Bill kept full arctic suit on for a while, I removed my wind breaker here and tucked it away. Nothing else came off of me the rest of the trip.

Here's Polar Bill :

He has a wool Swobo jersey under his jacket, which has zip off arms. That seems like a pretty useful feature. Bill is on his Surly Pacer today. It's set up with 28 mm tires and smooth Campy running gear. It sounds like a Swiss watch when it shifts. He is very pleased with how this particular build came out.

We took a break at Milton and then went down CR 1 (the western edge of the county) past the old church. Lady Bird Johnson grew up here, living with an aunt and her grandparents for a number of years during childhood. There is a historical marker just past the church.

Here I am standing by it. I'm riding the Rivendell Rambouillet today, hence the logo jersey. Actually a lot of the kit I have on is from Rivendell. Over Ibex wool cycling shorts and knee warmers is a pair of MUSA (Made in USA) shorts, a line that Rivendell started. The black long sleeve wool undershirt is from there too.

In case you want to READ the maker, here it is:

At the south end of CR 1, we shifted on to AL 14. It's much lighter in traffic out that way than here in town, and there is a narrow strip of smooth shoulder for us to roll on. We only had a few miles to go until the Statesville Store, our 1/2 way stop. A hand lettered sign on the door at the store read "Take your hat off immediately upon entering." Below that it said, "This is not a joke." I took mine off but replaced it after seeing other men wearing hats in the line at the cashier. Statesville carries the Selma paper, not Montgomery, and seems more old AL than new.

We headed south from the store after filling our water bottles and emptying ourselves, and wound along the Alabama River. A quick duck down to the Steele boat ramp gave us a pause to see the river closer. We put our bikes in low gear and Cyclo crossed (CX'ed) across the dirt to the edge of the fall off. Despite the trees, you can see the view here:

Not everyone had the day off to cycle. Today was a busy day in the fields and farms, and if you thought that the cotton industry in Alabama had ceased in the 1860s, it did not. This harvester was very impressive and you could see the cotton flying around inside.

Here's Bill (with the zip off sleeves zipped off now) by a field not yet harvested. Plenty of cotton visible behind him.

A few off bike breaks relieved our sit bones and life was uneventful until we crossed AL 14 again and were on CR 45. My front tire was making kind of squishy rubber noises as I grunted up the climbs. This was due to a lack of air inside it. I pumped it back up and it promptly went back down. So Bill got a 10 minute nap break while I changed the tube. I wanted Mike's 30 second tube change record to stay intact, so I was very deliberate in my motions. Despite this, I dropped a lot of things, some more than once. Cold hands and a tired body can do that to you. Sitting on the ground with the wheel in my lap, pumping the tire back up provided Bill with endless amusement. Eventually, it felt solid enough to ride on, and we departed.

I was tired and had to manage my effort level to avoid exhaustion on the climbs but never really over did it. We both felt pretty good by the end, although I have to say that Bill was never working very hard to begin with. He is still in great shape after training for the "Cheaha Challenge" some time back. Slowing down to ride at my pace was a "relaxer" ride for him. He said the hills were a good work out, and the scenery worth seeing too. We heard many deer in the woods, and saw hawks hunting the fields as they were cleared. My intent was to do this ride at 13 - 15 mph avg, and we ended up around 13. It felt like I worked a lot harder than that and it should have been a faster result, but that's what it was. The value in the ride was the enjoyment of it and the company along the way. That met and exceeded my expectations.

The week ahead will hold some work on the Mark III. A Campy 50/34 compact crank set and Suntour 14 - 28 7 speed freewheel need to go on. That will make it much better for me on the hills here. (It has a NOS SunTour 52/42 crank and a 13 - 23 freewheel now.) I'm also SERIOUS about dropping some weight. That will make the hills easier too. No special tools required either.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Steel is REAL Baby!!

What a great afternoon to be out on a bike.

In this morning's Sunday school lesson, (John 4) Jesus is sitting by a well in Sychar, waiting for someone to come by and get him a drink (this leads Him into a teaching moment about temporary thirst quenching and the permanent kind). He's tired from a full morning of walking up from Jerusalem. I am positive that Jesus would have been thrilled to have a country bike available for the trip. As it happens, I was ON a country bike myself this afternoon, covering more miles (33) in 2 hours +/- than a hiker could normally travel in a full day. He would have been a basic steel frame kind of guy too, I believe. It's rugged, adaptable, very wide ranging in application. Of course, you don't get to stop as much and have deep conversations that get taught to others 2,000 years later when you zip by on a bike. So maybe Jesus was okay with the walking part.

Therese and I were both on our steel steeds today. She had Halloween socks on, but I didn't get a picture. Here is a picture of our rendezvous point though. It gets frequent mention but has not appeared in a blog photo yet. There is a gazebo in view, and a band shell out of range to the left. A 3/4 mile walking path goes around the edge and it is used pretty regularly. Small, but pleasant, and a taste of small town, USA.

Our turn around point today was the same as last Sunday, The Boy's Store. It's close to Lake Jordan and on a morning ride, where there is more time, we continue on to Lake Jordan and cross it. There are some pictures of this in earlier posts. Local retail tycoon, Keith Holley calls most of his locations "Holley Marts" but this one keeps a peculiarly sexist moniker. Here it is:

Keith owns the store across the street too. It's called, anyone? anyone? Buehler? "The Girl's Store."

As we often do, we turned up past Holtville HS and then down the lovely Hogan Rd. Wide areas of cotton fields are showing white and ready to harvest. The cattle are out and active and there is a red tinge now in the maple leaves. It was uphill and into the wind on the way out, but it was good work. I was on the Saluki and this was the frist real excursion on new rubber. I got Grand Bois Oursons in another deal and they are very comfortable. The size is 1 1/2" which is FAT, but they roll about 2 mph faster, on average, than the Col deLa Vies that I decided were too slow for me, and sluggish up hills.

On the way back, which was downhill and with the wind behind us, we made much better time. Nestled in a corner of Millbrook is the old community of Sand Town. Coming through it, we saw some locals on bikes and I had to turn around and get a picture of this one:

The rider didn't give me his name, but the bike is a cool collection of various parts and sub assemblies that he said he's "gotta finish someday." Uh, the frame is STEEL, Baby! You know, it's great that you can pedal through a different neighborhood than your own and stop a total stranger on his bike and ask to take his picture, and he is cool with that. It's a bike thing. I like it. More people need to ride bikes and stop and talk (maybe about being thirsty and so forth) and show some interest by taking each others pictures. One thing I like is the high spoke count and fat tires this guy uses too.

Have a great week everyone!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yay for a Pretty Saturday!

I've been looking forward all week to a ride today. We're busy at work trying to cement some deals and process ones we already have. Some people with prayer needs have been on my mind and in my prayers a lot this week too. So first off, Ginger and Rhonda, if you guys are reading, hugs and prayers for each of your situations. Also, I teach 3rd and 4th grade kids at church on Weds nights (Book of Proverbs basically) and while I pray for all of them, one in particular has been sort of a mission for me lately. The rides are my relief valve for the tensions of the week, let alone exercise and enjoyment.

But on to the ride report.

Although today began with some fog, the Sun burned it off and we had nice weather for most of our Club Lite ride today. Ann, Tommy, Joe, and I met at the John Hall Store for an 8:30 departure. When I arrived, cars with empty bike racks were already there; evidence that more gung ho than us riders were already out turning the cranks.

It was 54F but the misty conditions made it feel cooler. Having already agreed by emails that this ride would be both brief and relaxed, I opted for the Bike Dork look today. (I have been told that ALL bike outfits look dorky, but you know how it is. Some people make ANY outfit look great and others, such as yours truly look less good no matter what threads happen to be hanging on my frame.) I was certainly comfortable through the entire temperature and cloudy/foggy to Sun range we encountered. Ann and Joe dressed like our path would lead to the South Pole, while Tommy just looked kind of normal. Here's Arctic Annie: You decide. It was 65F at our return when this picture was taken.

We decided to do an easy out and back to Fitzpatrick. It's only 12 ish miles each way and pretty level roadbed all the way. A few gentle changes to elevation, but nothing much. The downer for that route has always been the atrocious condition of the section that runs along the old railway route (some maps still show the RR, but it has long been gone.) People have lost mirrors, pumps, pocket change and probably dental fillings while rattling down the mile and half of un remitting chuckholes and coarse pavement. It always gave me a sense of superiority though. FINALLY, somewhere it made sense to be on a steel framed bike with fat tires and a leather saddle. (As an aside, Mark at Chain Reaction asked me this week, "So, have ever actually RIDDEN a carbon frame Bruce?" Like, what's your point Mark? Are you suggesting something about carbon there? It's okay. I like Mark, and try to send potential victims, err customers, his way when I can.)

Today however, the curtain came down on my mile and half of coarse cobbled Kindgom. CR 2 is now paved. It is beautiful. Smooth as silk and a delight on any frame bike you could think of. Here are a couple of pics:

This first one shows the new roadbed and Ann, Joe and Tommy. You can see there is a gravel shoulder now as well as a new roadway.

The second one was suggested by Ann. To dispel the rumor that I have no friends, she thought having a picture would be good proof.
She was nice enough to pay the other 2 models in the picture to pose with me for the effect.

After the photo shoot was over we continued to head home. The breeze picked up. How many times have you wondered, "Where did that headwind come from?" I can assure my readers that the winds were calm on the way out. Flags were standing straight out in the breeze by the time we were done. We took turns in the lead and while I got a good work out, it wasn't all that tiring. I did think that a mustache handlebar leaves something to be desired in headwind situations. I enjoyed it at other times though. This is the first bike I've owned that had them.

Here's a picture of "Mark" (The frame model is a Mark III)
I'm also still breaking in the Brooks saddle for it, so shorter rides ARE better for now. It has 650B wheels and 32.8 mm file tread tires. Very cool. I think we averaged about 16 mph on the ride, but I am not sure. I forgot to reset my cyclometer before we started. It was close to the target range anyway (I ride 13 - 15 mph mostly)

As we were coming up the hill about 4 miles out, all of a sudden I hear Joe yell, "Watch out!" and I hear a crash! Looking back, there was Joe getting a detailed view of the pavement from an inch away! Yikes!! I turned around to come back to him just as Tommy came up to us. Ann was in the lead and, still going up grade, from where she stopped to look back as well. Hmm, what happens when you stop on a hill? CRASH! Now there are TWO riders on the pavement. Ann didn't want Joe to feel bad I guess. Joe said he caught my rear wheel, but I honestly didn't feel a thing. Ann just tipped over and kept going. Kind of like a "can't clip out in time" happening. I was afraid Joe hurt his elbow but all that winter gear came in handy as padding and he seemed to be Okay. Ann landed on her, err, a better padded part than an elbow. Joe experienced what happened in my Dec 2006 mishap: your head whips down hard at the ground in even a slow speed fall. You realize immediately the value of a helmet. Joe's hit the asphalt hard and I told him not to be a cheapskate but to replace the helmet. Not an old wives tale, Helmets ARE not reliable after just one hard impact. And let's face it, being able to tell his wife, "Honey, I don't want to buy new bike stuff, but I just HAVE to." is pretty sweet.

Back at the cars, the express train of early fast riders pulled in and we exchanged howdy dos. Then Bilee and Patty drove in, fresh from a lower body weight room work out. They're both in training for the next Sr. Olympics and we are all very proud of them. We cut them no slack however, and they return the favor. Bilee came over to see Joe's boo boo and fussed over him like a team trainer. "Is there any blood Joe?' "Aww, just a little bit." he replied as he peeled the legging down to show her. At the mention of blood, Patty was interested too. Bilee then told Joe he had "good leg muscles, btw." I tell you, He's just a chick magnet. A tiny dab of blood, a tear in the leggings and he's got a babe for each arm. The rest of us could only bask in his glow. Tommy made sure he got very little glow. He was back leaning on his truck. I had to get close enough to get the pic and details for the blog report of course.

So there you have it. A nice morning with friends. Or paid models who posed as such. Tomorrow should be another chance to get some exercise in and enjoy the (finally!) beginning of Fall colors.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Fall!

What a beautiful Autumn weekend this has been, weather wise. After a cold front came through on Friday with some much appreciated rain, the temperatures have dropped to the very comfortable 60s and 70s as daytime highs. Great weather to ride a bike! I wish I could gush about wonderful colored foliage, but so far it's been pretty dull and disappointing.

I'm not any kind of a racer, and especially not a cyclocross ("CX") racer, but our local bike shop sponsored team hosted a CX event this weekend at Prattville's Cooter Pond Park. A Cooter, for the citified elites, is a turtle. I have only recently checked the park out, and it turns out to be very nice. The pond connects to the Alabama River and the boat launch ramp draws a large crowd on a nice weekend like this. The upper level of the park is set on a hill that gives a great overlook of the pond, and is refreshed by unobstructed cooling breezes. Comp-Velo Race Team captain Dave had a great plan. A 4 wheeler driven by Trevor with a trailer carried the marker stakes and tape, and slowly made its way along the route. Dave and Chris tossed out the stakes at 15' parallel intervals and on one side Bruce, Keith, Carl, and Ed hammered them in. On the other side, Chad hammered them in. We each had small sledge hammers, and our arms quickly tired. Except for Chad, who builds houses for a living. No biggie for him to knock these in, obviously. Two teams came behind running the yellow barrier tape. It looked really cool, and several folks had bikes along to give the route a test run after it was done. I haven't heard the race results yet, but Dave will post them soon enough.

Putting the course up took the place of my morning ride, but I figured a cool day would be a good opportunity to mow once I returned home. I had every intention of mowing, but when I came out to do it, there was Mike across the street and we stopped to chew over the latest City Council meeting happenings. A developer wants to put in gov't subsidized apartment housing adjacent to our subdivision. For a number if reasons, including insufficient infrastructure for what's already there and a burgeoning crime problem in the existing apartments, both adjoining subdivisions petitioned the city to say "no." So they delayed the discussion for another month. Maybe if fewer citizens show up then, the developer will have a better shot at bending the city to his will. I hope not.

Anyway, Mike and I also agreed that Friday's rain had greened up our lawns so prettily, and the grass was really growing slowly now, if at all, so heck, why mow? That was good enough for me and I spent my yard time pulling some weeds instead and grooming the Star Jasmine vines I've been training on a lattice all year. Then I set up the bike repair stand in the driveway and cleaned and serviced the bikes. I also played "Musical Saddle Bags" which is where you move them around on the bikes to see which one goes best where. Does anyone else do this? It's almost as exciting as swapping tires around. I did that last week, and decided that the Saluki does great with fat, treaded Grand Bois Oursons while the NXO-1 is slicker with the skinnier file threaded Cypres rubber. The Rambouillet stays in Paselas most of the time. Great tire comfort wise, but a little light on tread life.

Today's sermon was pretty good. Unlike my readers I am sure, I cannot say that I remember all the sermons that I hear. Today's stood out for its content, composition, and its delivery. The gist is, don't just talk the talk ON faith, walk the walk OF faith. A concept applicable across a wide range of situations. There's more of course, but that will give you the idea.

After some left overs for lunch, I met up with Carol at Village Green Park. Robert said he'd come too, and sure enough the stealth car from Coventry with the inscrutable Japanese phrase on the license plate rolled in. We were also joined by Tim (resplendant in his gareeeen "To Jack and Back" MS 150 jersey) Mike and Chris. This was my first meeting of Mike and Chris, and Carol claims to know me from a prior ride, but I was probably so far behind I couldn't tell.

We pulled out for the Slapout store into a pretty good breeze. I pulled a few miles, but asked Robert to take the lead as my pace was too slow for the new folks. Later, Chris took over from him. It was a hard pace for me, mostly uphill to Slapout often at 18 - 20 mph. We paused for an indoor plumbing break at Elmore and here is a pic outside of Holley's showing new riders Carol and Mike, with that famously aforementioned Jack Jersey on Tim too.

We averaged 16 mph door to door and frequent readers will know that my comfort zone is a mile or two slower per hour. Sounds like a small difference, but yes it matters. After a brief confab at the Boy's Store we decided to part company at Hwy 143. Carol and I headed south from there and the rest went north to Deatsville and the lovely 12% grade climbs of Alpha Springs. I gave them directions, and Robert had my cell #. Since no one called, I trust they made it back to the cars alive. Hope they enjoyed the ride.

It was a workout for me in any case, and I immediately downed 2 Advil upon getting home. Next week, I'll be back to my "relaxer" ride status, but perhaps others will want to push the envelope and ride faster. In the meanwhile, a week of work awaits. Tailwinds till next time!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's Wrong with these Pictures?

One of the threads on (an excellent online site for logging your bikes and rides, as well as sharing pictures stories and ideas with other cyclists) is "Pictures From a Recent Ride." I usually enjoy seeing the world from the saddles of other riders. Some of the folks are talented with a camera to start with, so it's already good stuff, even before adding cycling content.

This picture has a problem. Can you tell what it is? No, it's not that the
Venti Cappuccino is not overly sugared.

Here's another picture with the same problem.

Note that the drink selection has improved tremendously however.

The issue with BOTH pictures?

They are CARBON BIKES!!! The riders are obviously tasteful enough to carry great beverages, but they are not riding on STEEL frames.


How many of you figured it out?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wah Wah, Little GTO

I can hear Ronnie and the Daytonas now, can't you? They sang an ode to the GTO, the best that Pontiac had to offer in the way of a muscle car. The 1st US production sedan to offer an OHC engine in fact, if I recall correctly. GTO can mean other things too though. Take a look at this picture:

Here is birthday boy JackWeedy in his golf ball optically bright jersey, a color referred to as Garbage Truck Orange by the gent on Jack's right. (What does he know? He's wearing a lizard on his jersey.) I suppose that the visibility is great, but I hate having to wear shades because a fellow rider's jersey is blinding me.

While we're still thinking musically about fast cars, the gal on Jack's left could be called "Little Red Corvette." kathy has been working out big time and she lays down rubber embarrassingly fast. We old guys were happy to have her around to pull for us, that's for sure.

If you don't remember the song about the GTO, it goes like this:

Listen to her tachin' up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine

C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO

We were hearing that whine ourselves and we wondered what
it was. John got behind Jack
and saw the same thing that I did. Here's a picture
so you can see it too.

Yes, Jack
likes the "Dry Look" in his hair and on his chain. No, the
red you see is not the new color that chain lube comes in.
It is the rust you get when there is no chain lube. With
that whine, we
were hesitant to go all the
way on today's route plan. It was Jack's
birthday ride and he wanted to get in 48 miles. We don't want to spill
any beans, so we won't tell you which birthday this is, okay?
With a couple of chain links sounding like they were frozen, we took the cut
for the 41 mile version and made it back okay. Dogs were pesky today
although everyone of them obeyed the brass bell warning. Kathy got out
ahead of us once and two dogs surprised her. She screamed for real! It was
very impressive. Cows looked at Jack dumbly when he mooed at them.
We all
wondered how Jim (who was missing today) gets the cows to respond
but no one else
can. Jim's ex-special forces. If he tells us how to do it, he might
have to kill us.
We saw a pair of riders at the Ramer store, but didn't know them
and they didn't stop to chat. Ran into the Bass Master himself, Ray Scott
at the church parking lot.We tried to give him some lunch location ideas,
but I think he knows the area better
than we do.

Telling him about Red's Schoolhouse made me hungry. Then Jack tells me

Bilee is doing the combo Red's Schoolhouse and Sikes and Kohn shoe sale
next Saturday. I've already committed to help set up at Cooter's Pond
(a CX race will be held there) next Saturday so I'll miss that ride.
The Spring shoe sale is better anyway.
So we ended the day with 4 intact chains, no road rash or embedded materials
our bikes or bodies and we did 40.7 miles in 2:47. It was a nice ride,
great company, and I hope to do it again, soon.

Maybe a different car though..
giddy up, giddy up, 409.....

Friday, October 10, 2008

On Your Mark!

The three bikes in the garage were getting lonely. I could tell. When a friend emailed that he hadn't worked since a June layoff and he wanted to sell some of his bikes to raise cash, I hit upon a win-win scenario. The Heron he was offering was very similar to the Rambouillet already here, but if he ever happened on a Bridgestone XO-1, I would be interested. Or a Rivendell Atlantis type bike. As it happens, my left coast pal said, he did indeed have a sort of XO-1 bike and he would be inclined to offer it for sale. So here it is: A 1980s Nashbar Mark III criterium race frame that has been converted over to a 650B bike, with cool looking mustache handlebars. There are lots of neat new old stock parts on the bike, but I am making some changes to make this more of a practical riding bike in the hills than a show bike. The candy apple red Imron paint job draws approving glances no matter what is hung on it. I've already changed the saddle to a leather Brooks B5N and hung a Baggins saddle bag from it. I need to swap smaller tires on to it, and replace the front and rear gears (the crankset and the free hub) to get a wide range of gears for climbing. I'm already working deals to sell some surplus tires and use that towards a new Chorus crankset. Chorus is on the Saluki and it works very well, in addition to being nice looking. The Suntour set in the picture is great looking too and one day I may find the right use for it.

Here is a picture of Mark in my garage with the changed saddle and saddle bag.

Anyway, I did 10 miles of hills on "Mark" last night and really enjoy being on it. I'll try it for the 16 - 20 mile after church ride on Sunday. It's a big frame for me, a 53 cm, and I can JUST stand over it without doing personal damage, but it feels super once I am on the move. It was far less money than any of the others, but I am selling the go fast KHS to restore the funds used to buy it. Alex will take some pictures of it this weekend and it will go on ebay. Once the # is back down to 3, I can always reason that they are lonely, say when an Atlantis comes up reasonably priced :)

After virtually NO rides last weekend, I am pumped about meeting John at Pintlala tomorrow and doing a nice ride. No need to race, but a good workout will be great. I got the Bicycle Jones!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"With a rebel yell- "more, more, more"

Today was day two of the 2008 Alabama MS150, and we had more miles, more hills, more heat, and more wind than we did yesterday. Other than that, it was easy peaszy. There were no emergency runs for misplaced items, and I woke up on time, so the day started better than yesterday. Breakfast was served at the check in tent. Pancakes the size of a 9" skillet, still liquid in the center, OJ, and doughnuts. As many caffeine addicts noted, there was no coffee. The quicker cyclists in the bunch did early morning sprints to Starbucks and came back in time for the ride. I had some AWFUL cup-at-a-time stuff at the hotel lobby, and called it good. As I expected, I only saw Darren and Chad at the start. I did snap a picture of the Floyd Landis autograph on Darren's bike:

I couldn't find my riding companion from yesterday, Camille, so I rode solo a while until I saw that Luther and his pal were riding at a perfect pace for me. Both wore yellow "Top Banana" numbers, meaning they were very successful in fund raising last year. My number was white this year, but has been yellow before, and may be again as well. Luther pulled in at the 1st rest stop 11 miles out, and there we parted company. As I did yesterday, my plan was to pass that one (we also passed the final one on the course, only 6 miles from the end). I rode by myself again for a while and then saw a familiar figure and even more familiar yellow tires ahead. It was Camille. The two of us then ran into Lin and Aaron (who Camille knew) and the 4 of us pretty much took turns pulling all day. It worked out well. The ride today was prettier than yesterday, and would have been more enjoyable, had I not started out with tired legs from yesterday.

The rest stops were well placed and the volunteers were generally very freindly. Here is a picture of Fullylugged and Camille at the "Disco Divas" stop. They had a boom box going and provided a meal and show to each new batch of arriving riders. Y-M-C-A, Saturday Night Fever, and other hits were danced to. I am in wool shorts, and there is a wool Tee shirt under the Copaxone jersey. My dear friend in IL, Rhonda, sent it to me for this ride. She has far more experience with the effects of MS than she would prefer, and Copaxone is a treatment used for MS. Camille is wearing a top banana jersey from last year. I have so many jerseys hanging in the closet that I declined one for this year's ride. They are the nicest looking so far though. I did get a tee shirt and a hat for having ridden several times over the years.

Most of the rest stops had various themes. The number of riders was less and less as we progressed. For one thing, many riders opted for the shorter route today, and many were faster than we were. We were not the last ones in though and were well ahead of the time deadline. Some of the stops even provided a security detail to watch our bikes while we were away from them. This fellow was actually a little too friendly to be much use as a guard dog. The crowd he attracted did the job just fine though. At several stops I got a lot of questions about my bike. Those who know me are aware that I'm usually tight lipped about anything bike related, but it can pried out from me after a while. Okay, actually I'll plaster you with bike talk until you cry "uncle."

So, we ended the day with 79.4 miles and about 5 1/2 hours of pedal time. My seat is a bit sore and I got too much sun, but not seriously too much. I'll be sending out a thank you to all my supporters, but if you were one of them, THANK YOU. If you weren't and you want to be, my donations web page is open for 30 more days.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 MS 150 Day 1

Despite the flurry of last minute come-ups at the office, I did leave after lunch and packed my gear, got in the car, and drove the 3 1/4 hours to Gulf Shores. I haven't seen a love bug since moving away from FL in 1997, but my windshield was plastered solid with them on this trip, beginning just as I left Montgomery County. Forgotten too was how they make vision impossible when driving into the sun in late afternoon. I found the hotel okay and after checking in for the MS ride and getting my rider packet, I found some dinner in a nearby shopping center. I had baked spaghetti. It was pretty mundane, but the carbs were of the useful variety when a long duration bike ride is in the offing.

Returning to my room, I got out the kit intended to be used and applied the jersey number, got the water bottles filled with Propel, grabbed the socks, helmet liner, shoes. Wait a sec. Shoes? Where ARE they? Back in my closet at home would be the answer. Okay, it's now 7:30 and I have until 9:00 to locate a shoe place. Fortunately, I ride in sandals (old school metal pedals with MTB power grip straps) and these are pretty available anywhere. The Timberlines I just loved were not available in my size, but some Nike ones were. Here they are in a sandal panda. (Click on the pictures to get a larger size)

Phew! I did not relish the prospect of riding in the office shoes. Bikers look goofy to non riders, but we do have our own sense of what is de rigeur. The socks are Amici Veloci (Amechee, Veloshay) which is an online cycling club of charity riders. I have an A-V jersey too, but it fit me once upon a time, but does no longer.

This morning, I was up on time, and grabbed a coffee at the hotel lobby. Then I jumped in the flivver and cruised on over to the MS ride start point. I parked in the wrong place, moved, parked again and got my bike out. Hmm. Water bottles. Where would they be? Back in the hotel room would be the answer. Pack it all back up, go back to the room, get the water bottles, and find a third parking space. There was still time for a snack at the start. If you could find in the dark. Here is a picture of our O'Dark-thirty gathering.

I don't know how many riders there were, but it seemed well attended. There were 2 other Montgomery Club riders that I saw, Darren and Chad. One rides at 25 mph avg for a century, and the other at 17-18. Both are way faster than I ride. I'll see them next tomorrow in the parking lot, I am sure. Darren showed my his newly tricked out Bianchi 928. He was running Token TT wheels today and the bike looked fast just standing still. The thing that really sets it apart for the rest is the autograph from the Solvay Pharmaceutical salesman that Darren got when he was racing this season. (,,22038-2-0,00.htm)
Their sales guy is also a decent bike rider. Chad is on a pretty nifty Cervelo, and I was on the fully lugged steel thing that I usually sit on. No carbon or titanium anywhere. A Brass bell, fat tires, and a duffel bag hanging from a leather saddle. It never disappeared into a crowd at the rest stops.

This year, we began the ride with the beach loop, which is a super change. Calm air in the morning makes the beach so pretty. Later in the day, the winds can easily get very strong, as they did last year. About 6 miles out, I fell in with a gal who rides for the Druid City bunch. We are both on BikeJournal and we had some other riders who we knew in common. Our pace was similar. Camille was quicker in the flats, and I was speedier up climbs. We each ended up pulling about 1/2 the time and had a great time chit chatting about being aging Baby Boomers, and bikes. After the beach loop of about 15 miles, we climbed the tallest hill of the day: the Foley Beach Expressway bridge. A couple of pictures:

Both were taken at the top of the climb. The 2 gals had blown past me like I was standing still earlier, and slowed way down on the climb. Here I am in my full wool kit. Hat, jersey and shorts are all merino. I was super comfy all day, over the temperature range. If I look like I am gasping for air, I am.

The ride itself was very nice. The rest stops are NOT as good as ours in Montgomery, but they were more than adequate and staffed by friendly volunteers. At our lunch stop, an MS patient in a wheelchair thanked me for riding for her. That was what happened on my 1st ride in 2003, and which made this an annual fund raiser that I am glad to do. We passed one rider down on the grassy shoulder of a road. There was a crowd around her and my guess is a moment of paceline inattention. If you tag the rear wheel of the bike in front of you, you will fall most of the time.
We made it back okay, taking just at 5 hours of riding time. The "Wharf," where the ride starts this year, is a nice place, with all sorts of upscale opportunities to lighten your wallet. Plenty of boats to see as well. Here is a shot as we passed by.

Finally, we pulled the last 5 miles or so into a stiffening breeze.
I stopped just outside the finish point to get this last shot of the marina flags. They give some idea of the wind.

Banquet dinner tonight, get a good night's sleep and do a different 75 miles tomorrow!


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