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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Prattville Loop

Between April and September, while the daylight is long enough to permit after work rides, we rotate 4 routes in and around Prattville on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Weds is Club Time Trials night, and Mon and Fri are not scheduled. This is the 3rd or 4th year that I've led these rides. I used to do them myself and just started inviting others to come along. It's become something we do each year, and that's good. The routes are all hillier than an average club ride, which is the point. It's also why many flat landers do not come out. Hill climbing uses different muscles than spinning on the flats, and yes, there is even a proper technique to employ for efficient climbing. I've gone from hating hills, and the burning quads they bring, to searching for hills to try. My legs still hurt, and I hate it when I run out of gas on a climb, but I'm better than I used to be and I don't duck a hill if it's on the route. Like lots of things, the way to get better at hills, is to climb a lot of hills.

There were only three of us tonight, but we had a great ride. I tell you, we'll wish we still had this cooler air to ride in, very soon. It was about 65 at the start with a wind of 8 - 10. I had wool base layers top and bottom and a snazzy Rivendell (by Woolistic) jersey. MTB shorts from Performance obtained for $9.99 via eBay. I felt fine on the first 1/2 but cold on the second, having no sleeves or leg warmers. Paul Fournel writes, "sometimes it's good to be cold on a bike" and I agree with him. The cold tonight sharpened my appreciation of everything. The sound of the chain on the gears, gravel as the conti gatorskins ran over it, my own breath.

Austin, John and I did the loop around town for the first time since our pal Phil took a tumble a couple of weeks ago. We missed you buddy. Thought about you as we pedaled past your house. Didn't see you out on the lawn anywhere though. Cycling is always educational. I learned something new tonight, even. I always "tip my hat" to cars that left me pass. John informs me that the gesture implies an "empty head" on the part of the driver. I'm not sure I agree. Or, there are a lot of drivers in the tri county area who don't care much for me. One driver did not care much for John and was jawing at him, when the load he failed to secure on his truck spilled out on the roadway. We just kept pedaling. He had to stop of course. Yes, there is justice sometimes.

I'll post a ride description for all the routes we run, for blog readers who may not have seen club posts in the past.

This ride is 20 - 23 miles (depending on options) with 5 climbs, totaling only about 1,100' but they are fairly steep. We go through neighborhoods, an industrial area, downtown and past the High School. We pass the municipal pool and the library. It's pretty much all of Prattville in an hour and a half. Tonight I rode 23.5.

Notes for people not on the club list who may want to ride:

Thursday night: Millbrook Wal-Mart. (AL 14 just east of I-65) To avoid the issue of traffic back ups, caused by yours truly laboring slowly up CR 009 immediately as we leave the parking lot, we can run the route in reverse. that way, we'll be speeding DOWN said hill. As always, be ready to roll at 6:00 PM.

A request was received for another beginner ride this Sunday. I'm up for it, if there is interest. Please let me know. 2:30 has worked well for me schedule wise. We have done rides of 10 and 15 miles. Some of you beginners should also be thinking about coming out on a Club Lite ride. These are no-drop (we don't leave anyone behind) and lots of fun. Watch for a Club Lite post later in the week (usually by Thursday).


Sunday, April 27, 2008

They're Baaaaaccckkk!!

In what may be a club first, we had beginner rides on back to back Sundays. And Jackie and Clarence were here both times! Jackie made it on time and rode. Clarence missed the boat, but went out anyway, had chain issues, and retreated to the parking lot, where we said "Say Hey!" upon our own return.

What a nice turn out from club regulars! Thanks to Sam, Bill, Brooks, Jack, Trevor for coming out and welcoming new riders. It's good to remember that we were ALL new riders once, and might have trembled at the thought of biking 10 miles. We had new rider Darryl with us, and the Beemer/Lexus/whatever that buzzed us turned out to be Angela wanting in on the ride as well. We pointed her to the Matthews Post Office where she parked and jumped on the paceline as we zipped by. Okay, we were doing about 11 mph, so she just tagged along with us.

I sort of fibbed to Jackie to get her to try a "little different 10 miles" than the flat ride from last week. She was smiling at the end though, when I fessed up to taking her 15 miles on what is basically a Club Lite route. She is a near future Club Lite-er I am sure. Darryl is already at that point, he just needs to show up at one. Angela is into sports too, so she'll be riding miles and miles in no time.

2 of our three new riders today were on mountain bikes. For street use, I suggest you try switching your knobby tires to 1 1/2" semi slicks. You'll have a nicer time on the road. This Panaracer is an excellent choice, and there are many others.

Also, ladies on MTBs, I notice that your water bottles are impossible to get at while riding. Other water bottle options include a Camelback back pack water system, seat or handlebar mounted water bottles, or an adapter to allow you to mount the bottle to the top tube, or seat tube:

An inexpensive tube adapter:

A pricier seat bottle set up.

Tailwinds until next time!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tour Autauga

Prattville is not known as a biking town. Montgomery isn't either, for that matter, although it has a cadre of very good riders. Prattville does have 1 cycling event each year, the Tour Autauga, which is the brainchild and 100% project of local Bill Duke. He and his family do it all. Today was the 3rd year running, and I've ridden all three. The area is familiar of course, I ride the Autauga hills twice a week in season and sometimes at greater length on the weekends. Only 25 pre registered this year, and Bill was afraid that it would not be a good show up. Proceeds from the event are donated to cancer charitible work. When I arrived at Spinners Park for the ride, the lot was full! Providentially, 50 more riders came down and registered day of, so the concern then became, "do we have enough food for the rest stops?" Bill's sweet wife was manning the sign in table looking like she just went 10 rounds with a heavyweight contender. Turns out she rolled her Xterra on I-65 recently and was airlifted to the big time hospital for repairs. I don;t think they airlifted the Nissan though.

I signed on to do the 62 mile route (my usual choice for these things) but a fellow club member mentioned wanting company on a 30 mile ride, so I did the shorter edition this time. With 2,500' of climb or thereabouts, my legs don't feel slighted in the exercise dept. Bill asked me which route I was on, and I told him. He made a face and said something about having a little "surprise" for me at mile 40. Hmmm. Water balloons? I do poke fun at my companions on rides and I can understand a little revenge :) We'll never know now. There were plenty of Montgomery Bicycle Club jerseys in the parking lot, maybe one of my buddies will give me the scouting report for the 40 mile secret.

The day started out cool and damp. About 63 F, dead calm, and cloudy. Rain was forecast for the afternoon. I wore wool base layers top and bottom. This was the trial run for my new "Steep & Cheap" merino tee shirt. $14.95 and worth a try, I figured. British Army surplus wool boxers down below. The wool worked GREAT. It kept me warm when it was cool and damp, and comfy when I started to get hotter and sweatier. Afterewards, I peeled off the jersey and the wool tee dried right up, and doesn't smell. Since it was a cancer support ride, I wore Amici Veloci colors today: jersey and socks. A cancer survivor in CA started this online club of cyclists who ride to support the effort to battle the disease and help the sufferers. It's the jersey in the picture you see of me for this blog. It translates, "Fast Friends." Not very fast here, but yes on the friend part. The ride starts uphill and generally climbs for the first 10 miles. Then you're up and down for 10 miles and finally mostly down on the return. I don't like to start uphill. My muscles need a while to warm up. Today they started complaining right away, and I labored for a while, reminding Peggy that she wanted ME to go with her! Finally, after the first rest stop at 10 miles, the iginition turned on and it was pretty comfortable from then on. My avg speed climbed all through the ride in fact and I highballed the last couple of miles in the 20s, which is heady stuff for me and my duffle bag under the saddle, type bike. The colors in the clover are fading, and the clouds kept it from being a pretty day. Peggy saw a sheep dog at work, with sheep. I saw some young foals, and the usual bird activity.

I think my best memory will be the peanut butter and honey sandwiches at the last rest stop. MMM, MMMM, good! I'm back on the bandwagon, diabetes wise, after ignoring it and pretending to be immortal since December. I've felt like crap and been tired, so I got back to the proper diet this past week, cutting out the stuff I shouldn't have. The high energy output of riding allows me some sweets though. (I started back up with my finger sticks and have decent #s again. I feel better too. Funny that should follow, eh?) If there are any ride pictures for the event, I'll link to them.

It was good to see some people not ridden with in a while. Frank is still on the old school tires surplus out of my parts box and he likes them a lot. Phil gave me more info on the condition of the other Phil (who wrecked 2 weeks ago on a Thursday night ride). Fairly new road rider Robert is trying his first ever century, and a hilly one at that too. Ahh, to have those young legs and a can do attitude! Richard, Bill, Patty and Bilee of course, Roger (The prez, not the other one) was there and finally we spoke about the Ride of Silence (that will be another post) that we're trying to get some momentum under.

I do some charity rides all through the year, but as many of you know, the Multiple Sclerosis MS Ride is my big one. I actively raise funds for that ride. A number of my readers have already pitched in, to my great appreciation. If others are interested, email me for more info and a link to my MS donations page. Pen Friends alert: There will be the usual Pen auction this Summer. The proceeds will by a donation to the MS ride.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go your own way. You can call it another lonely day.

(Thanks to Lindsay Buckingham for the post title)

I posted to the bike club the idea that since our club ride was named for a fallen comrade, (He was killed while riding his bike) we should consider being part of the ride of silence. The only reply today was from a rider who suggested that a ride where I was unable to speak might be very enjoyable. Ahh, such friends. Later, someone else posted that it might be a good thing after all to do the ride.

Tonight was the Posey Crossings ride. 4 others joined me, including Mr. Smarty Shorts. He got his wish, as I exchanged few words with him. They all avg about 16 - 18 mph and i am steadfastly 13 - 15. Tonight I finished just shy of 15 mph. At the meeting place, I explained the route to the others and told them to pull out ahead of me. With purposeful intent, I rode at the pace that felt good to me. My legs were sore from the past weekend at the outset, but after 30 minutes, all aches were loosened up and things felt really good. We all re connected at the store, but didn't stay together long. This is a lovely ride, with significant downhills. Of course, after the fleeting thrill of high speed descents, I have to labor up the other side of the valleys. The scent of jasmine was heavy in the air and I am sure that I also smelled magnolia or gardenia. Then too, there was the redolent odor of freshly cut grass, still full of moisture from the rains on Friday night. The views towards the setting Sun from the ridge as you climb it are excellent. On other days, I've seen purple clouds full of water approaching from the very same ridge. That's when I find a faster gear for sure.

I finished the ride just as the Sun passed below the horizon, which was the plan to start with. It was a great run. I am deeply appreciative that I live in a place with interesting terrain, plenty of uncrowded roads and a climate that permits year round riding. And that I can get out and do it, of course.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Biking for Office

If the 3 main presidential contenders rode bicycles, which ones would they ride?

I am not a fan of political mud slinging. Debate is fine, but few people can discuss issues they hold dear and maintain a civil demeanor. Then too, winning the argument becomes more important than weighing the arguments and choosing that which is better. Sometimes, one’s own position turns out not to be so great after all. Wise people actually learn from others who know more or think in clearer terms.

It’s no different in the cycling world. We argue about frame materials, (steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber) components (campy, shimano, SRAM), sizing philosophy (small frame, large frame) and tire sizes (super skinny to plush fatties). Are you a carbon fiber diamond frame race lite wheel set with a Campy 10 speed gruppo, or are you an aluminum grip shifting Barcalounger on wheels, aka “recumbent?” I confess that I’m a lugged steel traditionalist. Give me bar ends or give me death! I only regret that I have but 32 stainless steel double butted spokes to give for my country! Well, you get the idea.

In the last election cycle we saw that George W. Bush rode a bike that was well matched to his personality: a rough shod Trek mountain bike. A brute machine with no finesse, and made in the best tradition of the heartland. It matched up well with his plain homespun can-do directness that no number of oil money millions (or having an ex-prez for a dad) could change. On the other hand, his challenger, John Kerry rode an elite Serotta; hand crafted in the exclusive Catskills of New York, befitting his New England aristocracy (a member of the Forbes clan and child of a foreign service officer) background and his billionaire heiress wife’s fortune. The cotton tennis shorts he was pictured riding in though say “Total Fred!”

What, I wonder, would Hillary, Barak and John be riding if they had bikes which matched their personal styles and backgrounds? My web research indicates that Barak does not bike, although he thinks they should be in a transportation plan. I didn’t dig up anything on Hillary or John. So this is all conjecture on my part.

Let’s put the candidates on our bikes of choice, what would they be? Here are my ideas about possible bikes for these people, not their suitability for the office they aspire to. I do notice a recurring theme about the origin of these bikes, and wonder how much influence is exerted beyond biking? Feel free to opine!

Hillary Clinton: Here’s a senator who doesn’t feel the need to be fit. Not a jogger like her husband, probably does NOT spend time in the kitchen making those famous chocolate chip cookies either. She talks a lot though, and wears yellow often. I don’t know why exactly, but the yellow thing bothers me. Maybe you have to EARN yellow if you ride a bike? She needs a bike that’s slow, easy to manage and allows for plenty of mind numbing chatter along the rail trial. She’ll never get on a road on a bike. Ever. I see her on fat tires, shocks, padded seat. Available at Wal-Mart (she was on their board of directors). Looks like a bike, won’t really work very well if you take more than a block or two. Used to be a great name in the field, now co-opted by a conglomerate and made in China, but the spin doctors try to recall the glory days (kind of like unions): Schwinn Skyliner Comfort Bike. $149.95

John McCain: Yeah he’s contemporary with King Tut, who was more a chariot guy than a cyclist, but he’s pretty darn fit. His wife is loaded with cash from a fat beer distribution fortune, but John tries to appear to keep things separate, to give more of the self made man look. He also has an eye for well made mechanical things, which is what you might expect from a pilot. His bike has to be made in America, or least sold by a company that makes SOME bikes in America. We don’t expect to see him on a silly frilly bike, so I’d put him on a Trek 2.3. Aluminum frame (from Taiwan or China) and Shimano drive train (From Japan, except what they buy out from Taiwan and China) But Lance rides Trek, so it FEELS American. It’s a well made bike and a great value. Which is how this Senator approaches things like Air Force tanker contracts and pork barrel spending. $1,699.99

Barak Obama: This guy is supposed to be a runner, not a rider. I suppose he runs in between cigarettes. Okay, he quit during the campaign, but you know the craving is still there. He showed up at a women’s race though and got his picture taken with 2 sweaty lovelies. Maybe they’ll convince him. Mrs. O might have to try it too. Barak’s lack of riding experience is akin to his lack of governing experience. He hopes for change, or something like that, and he definitely wants to be different. If you don’t agree with him, you might be a racist. Recumbent riders are a lot like that. They fanatically claim their hands shoulders and butts never hurt, and they can pedal forever. If you talk about how much better diamond frames climb and handle corners, they get super defensive. When they come to a hill which is to be climbed, the world isn’t fair. Neither is politics. We’ll put Sen. Obama on a Sun EZ-1 SX recumbent About $700.00 Made in, anyone, anyone? China.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Begin with Beginners

First, let me say that I learned how to turn on the allow comments feature. Not that anyone had any comments, but there you go.

Second, we had a DOZEN riders turn out for the first beginner ride of the season. Wonderful! We did a controlled 11 mile ride at about 10.5 mph. It is a flat course except for 1 hill midway in each direction. People learned or brushed up on group riding skills, how to select the right gear for a hill, and getting out of the wind when you get tired.

Afterwards, 3 of the riders hung around and we turned in another 16 miles in another hour. That was exercise for me on the fat tire bike, but it felt good nonetheless.

Not quite 100 miles this weekend, but pretty close.

Welcome to My Blog

Hi, my name is Bruce and I like lugged steel bikes. I bring up the rear on most organized rides. It seems that no amount of training has any appreciable effect on my average pace. To be more accurate, I suppose I should say that it has no effect on my comfortable average speed. A closely guarded secret is that I can actually go fast when I really need to. But I ride because I love to ride, not because I love to go fast. I began cycling in 2001, when I came back from a week long mountain back pack trip, feeling like I was going to die. The skinny school runner and wrestler had yielded to a portly little desk jockey. My knees and back did not support running any more, so I tried a bike and LOVED it.

A cavalcade of various machines have spent a short stay in my garage as I tried out various designs and sizes. Generally, they sold for at least as much as I paid for them. So now I know that I am happiest on a road sport layout, and with a 26" wheel set (It fits my 5' - 6" stature better than 700 mm does). The bike most often ridden is a Rivendell Rambouillet. "Always williing, ever able" is the headbadge motto, and that describes the bike. Stable mates include a Rivendell Saluki and a KHS 800. The Saluki is a touring bike, currently with soft 38 mm Col De Vies mounted for an upcoming trip on dirt and crushed rock along the C & O towpath. The KHS is a go fast bike that is the winter trainer machine as well as an occasional road ride, when I feel nostalgic for the fast old days. The Ram came new, the Saluki is a higher end build bought used, and the KHS was my own build from a NOS Reynolds 853 frame bought as a left over.

I ride with the Montgomery Al Bike Club. A great group of people, where I have made good friends. Or at least people who don't run from the room when I arrive. What I lack in ride speed, I try to supplant with writing wit, and so have become a regular poster of club ride reports. Some club members indicate that they enjoy these and so as Carl's suggestion (make that threats of bodily harm) and help, here is my launch of the MBC ride report blog.

A few older posts were put in, as much for practice in blog posts as anything else, but I have more if you want them. Just email me if you want some forwarded to you, or you can look at the club's Yahoo Group Website. A few pictures are in my photobucket album. I'l add more this year as we go.

My current read is Paul Fournel's "Need For The Bike." That's me, I have a need for the bike. Do you? I'm not a fast or slow rider, a trend setter or a retrogrouch. I am a cyclist. You should be too. It's a great life.


The Old Howard 100 report

8 MBC types (that I could identify as such) went to Marion for the 4th edition of the Old Howard. The day was beautiful, and about 290 total riders were there. We were led by the guy in a striped shirt on the high wheeler. Gee, how do you do trackstands on that thing? Judging by how often he was at rest stops before us, I think he supplemented that fixie (no gears on a high wheeler) with his Honda Accord.

Bill and Joe were feeling like manly men today and they finished the 70 mile course an hour before the rest of us. As we sat at refreshments, it became an hour and half wait before we arrived. Kind of like that fish which grew with each retelling of the tale. Cathy was there early with them too. I tell you that gal can ride. She said she only did 50 miles, but who's buying THAT?

Bill and Joe returned to mortal size when Gregg Hartley pulled in from the century ride. The only one wearing our colors on that distance. Good on you! My car mates took out their frustration on me all the way home. What a bunch of comedians!

Okay, seriously, it is great to have friends to do this sort of stuff with, and I met all of them through the club.

There was entertainment along the way as well. In the parking lot, our neighbor said she partied too hard last night. (she's a Birmingham Bicycling Babe, or something like that) and she whipped out a "cleaner in a can" chain kit and proceeded to degrease her bike while still racked on her trunk. What a mess that made! We shared Mike's method with her, and she said it sounded worth a try. What's Mike's method? Show up at the maintenance class next month and find out.

The towns we rolled through, Newbern and Greensboro, were like backgrounds from period movies. Just lovely. Pretty farms along the way too. Rest stops were well stocked and located in pretty places. They were crewed by college sorority and fraternity kids.

Math is not a major offered at Judson, I am pretty sure. The "70" mile ride was actually 65.5 miles. I did it in my usual range of 13 - 15 (14.4 actually) so I was very pleased, and not exhausted when done. This was Robert's 1st organized ride and he had fun. Joe and Bill were debating which of them was more manly. After the ride, Bill and Joe wanted to slip over to the casino and play blackjack. I told them that Sunday school is at 9 tomorrow, and they should be there!

a couple of pictures are avail at my Photobucket album.


See some of you tomorrow at 2:30!

Thrills and spills

5 of us took off from AL 14 and CR 75 on the Prattville loop, as advertised. We would have had 6, but one went to Tuesday night's venue for some reason. Don't know if he got in a ride or not. It was a perfect evening for a ride. As Austin noted, "I looked outside and thought do I want to do a system upgrade on my computer, or ride?" Well, duh. He was sporting a club jersey, so I guess we know how the call went.

We split up downtown. The over 50 set took the low Gin Shop Hill climb past Continental Eagle, while the young legs pounded up Deer Trace with its wicked little 20% climb. When the spry fry were late in joining us at the fountain we headed back towards the base of the hill. Then Auston called me on my cell to say that Phil had spilled descending Gin Shop. Wow! I pedaled back up to where they were and some kind Samaritan had taken Phil (we thought) to get to a doctor. Another rider, who we did not know and who was providentially in the area, said he had a truck a mile away and would come back for the bike. I waited with Austin and Robert, and John headed back home (he came straight from his house, and the light was getting low). I looked at Phil's Lemond, and a spoke was loose on the Bontrager Race Lites, allowing the front rim to adopt a wavy gravy attitude. Robert was behind Phil on the road and said it looked like he just lost control of the bike going down the hill. I know little about low spoke count, high tension wheelsets, so perhaps Mike Munk or some other more informed person than I can bring the club at large up to speed on any recommended maintenance for others who may be sporting similar wheels.

Phil actually came back with the other rider in the fellow;s truck , and got the bike, then took Phil to his nearby home, where his family could take over. Phil, weigh in with the doctor's report when you can.

After we saw Phil safely off, and talked briefly about the whole situation, Austin said that looking at Phil's helmet, it may have saved his life. Helmets are mandatory on club rides, and having crashed myself, I also know they save lives. If you don;t wear one, get one. Wal-Mart sells inexpensive ones. If it fits, and has the ANSI sticker inside, it can save your life. And, as a reminder, helmets are single crash use items. If you slam your head in one, no matter how good it may still look (the helmet, not you) ditch it for a new one. There can be hidden damage in these things.

By now it was turn on the lights time and we stepped up the pace for the second half of the ride. The 3 of us had lights and we basically rode together. Thanks guys for slowing down so the old geezer could get a little protection from your lights. we made it to the parking lot before twilight ended; that last stretch on Old Ridge was our reward at about 25 mph.

Hope to see some of you at the Old Howard on Saturday. Let's wear our club jerseys if you have one.



Am I my brother's keeper?

This post was originally written in February 2007

The question in today's ride report title was famously asked many years ago and is commonly seen to have a broad application, beyond just those who are genetically siblings. It certainly applies to cyclists out for a randonee (French for "excursion") in the countryside.

I was surprised and delighted when Bilee posted the Mt. Carmel Church luncheon ride for today. Surprised because it is not yet spring, and delighted, because it's a fun ride! After talking to Bilee, it turns out that Alice is the true mastermind behind today's feast, and gets all our well-deserved thanks. For those who have yet to do this, we gather at Pintlala Baptist Church, ride 35-ish miles, make lunch and gab a while, then ride some more until we get back to our cars. Those who have had all the fun they care for after climbing up to Mt. Carmel can take the provisions vehicle back to the starting point. Someone needs to, anyway. Today the menu included peanut butter (homemade by our our master chef, Charles Farrow!) two flavors of jelly, bananas, cookies, Fig Newtons, and drinks. There was some "gorp," too, (raisins/peanuts/M&Ms) as we used to call it on Scout hikes as kids.

We had about a dozen riders today. The weather was wonderful, starting out as arm-warmer temperature but warming up as the sun rose in the sky. Half of the riders had on the new Club jerseys and they looked really good. I need to remember to wear mine next time. I did have club arm warmers on--is there partial credit? We took the first half of the club metric-century route which most of us had not ridden in several months. The road was good and traffic low. There was plenty of chit chat along the way. Jim, glad to hear that your wife is coming along. Ann, we miss you, and hope your knee clears up soon. John has a cool 3-day ride idea for the Ladiga Trail. I bored Bill silly with my work-related insurance cases. He's faster than I am so he was able to escape by pedaling to the front of the pack. His brother, Britt, rode with us today. Britt is more of a mountain biker but has a Bianchi road machine which came late last year. Joe and I were very glad that the headwinds this week were half or less of what they were last Saturday.

We had a flat-free day, no crashes, and no real dog problems. Several canines ran to check us out but none were too difficult to deal with. We saw dog owners out too and they did their best to corral the mutts. I think for the most part the dogs just would have preferred to run with us, if they could have. At a couple of stops I noticed Bilee and Alice having a little trouble with clipping in. I suggested that they try Mephistos, like I have. They really are comfy on and off the bike and I never have trouble with clipping in or out. Okay, okay. They don't HAVE cleats. (I use an MTB-style power grip strap instead) And NO, my wool jersey was not uncomfortably hot, thank you very much.

We made sure we had everyone at all the turns. Sometimes this involved extra waiting/resting time. About 4 miles from the end, we realized we were missing Britt and Jack. Jack called Bilee on the cell phone to say he had lost Britt too. We decided that it should be a family matter and that his brother Bill should go look for him. Bill asked the title question, which launched a whole discussion on how we have dealt with our siblings. "Yeah, stand on that ant hill. They're littler than you, don't worry about it." "What? you want ME to bring you pain killers? I am not in pain." It was truly eye opening and hilarious. And here I was thinking that only I gave my sibs a hard time. Apparently not. Well, Britt broke up our reminiscences by showing up. Without Jack. Jack was apparently only a mile behind us but I am sure it took him 30 minutes to do that mile. Anyway, all together again, we headed for home. I always like to get behind John on the last leg of a ride. His bike is like that proverbial horse heading for the barn. John and Jack and I made a little line and we took turns pulling into the wind which only seemed tough because we were flagging in our energy levels.

Our peleton breakaway group was told to turn left at the Day Lily House, rather than right, so we were about 3 1/2 miles shy of what the others did. I showed 49.77 miles at the end, so I lapped the parking lot to get over 50. As it turns out, I brought up the tail end of the wagon train, and averaged 14.8 mph. We would have gone slower if anyone needed to, but I didn't really care to go any faster. Others were more sprightly so they trucked along at a smarter pace. We did over 1,800 feet of roller climbing today, so it was a great hill-repeat workout, too. I think a steady grade of the same climb would have been easier.

Thanks again to Alice and friends for putting this on. Membership fees are coming due, so spread the word. Get people signed up, suited up, and riding.

Tailwinds everybody.


The Polar Express

This post was originally written in January 2007

No, Chris Van Allsburg did not join us today, but we had his weather forecast for sure. It was 27 frosty degrees when "Louise" and I rolled out of the driveway this morning. When we showed up at the end of the ride it was a tropical 43. Yikes! And the 5-mph zephyr of a breeze forecast turned into a pretty steady 10 -12 out of the NNW, brisker when coming unobstructed over open fields.

I wore a thermal cap under a balaclava on my head. For torso protection, Under Armour tee shirt, a Lands End polyester pile warm shirt and a wind stopper Hind jacket. Bike shorts overlaid with Pearl Izumi winter tights did leg duty, feet had sock liners, wool socks, shoes and shoe covers. Finally, Pearl Izumi lobster claw gloves.

The head and legs were fine. The torso got a little cool, when I perspired so much that it was wet all the time. The lobster claws were too warm and I changed them out half way to lighter full-finger gloves. My feet were frozen solid. This bike has spd cleats and they are metal and suck the heat right out of you. I un- clipped and rode the last 7 or 8 miles on the street shoe side of the pedals which helped the temperature problem a lot. I lost half the pedal stroke power of course, though.

There were four of us to start and the route was very nice. When we had sun (and/or a tailwind) it was divine. Richard and new guy Tom (who wore only a bathing suit, I think; he's from up north somewhere) on his way-cool blue Pinarello, took the lead and actually turned in a few extra miles because they're so gung ho. Or they missed the turn. :) Frank and I loped along and enjoyed a great time talking about potential new bike builds, the joys of 50s plumbing (ours, not our houses') and stuff like that. The companionship is really the best part about club rides and more companions would have been appreciated today. If only to block the wind better for Frank and me. Actually, Jason caught us at the corner of Pike Road and Ray Thorington. He was a late arrival to the meeting point, but resplendent in his Team CSC get up. I thought David Zabriskie had joined our club ride for a second, until I saw Jason's face.

So we did a shade over forty miles, enjoyed the morning, and hope to see more of you next time.

If you have time on your hands before a certain football game tomorrow, let me know. I plan my usual Sunday afternoon spin in Prattville or Millbrook. And let me iterate, I ride at Lite speed (avg today was 14.7, for example). Usually my pace picks up during the year as we ride more, but it's never really very fast.

Hope y'all don't lose too much money on those refugees from Baltimore, 'cause ole Rex is gonna complete some passes...


"The world lies right beyond the handlebars of any bicycle." D. Behrman

Anyone have that Number?

This post was originally written in December 2006

It's really a good idea to carry the cell phone numbers of one's co-riders when cycling. My ride today will illustrate that point. Five of us started off from Pintlala and as my recent history has been, I went pretty slowly. I was the only real Club Lite speed rider out there. The others were very nice and very courteous, offering to wait for me at stop signs, but I know the roads and did not want to delay their ride. Today would have been a great day to ride with Wendell. Where were you, Wood? Anyway, on the way north, after leaving Mt. Carmel Church where we had taken a break, the others were out of sight and I was surprised by a pit bull that galloped out from under a hedge. I didn't see him in time and I hit him, full on in his rib cage (could have been a her, I dunno). My front wheel turned right and I smacked the asphalt, first hip, then elbow, and then whiplash-y, head. The dog was yowling and took off running across the street to the trailer trash yard he was from. The occupants looked out the windows, saw me, and closed the shades. Not what we might call responsible people. I was lying in the roadway, near the edge, and could not move. I suppose, had I heard the approach of a car, I would have managed somehow, but I had to wait on the highway for a few minutes until I was sure I wasn't bleeding, or that nothing was jutting out in odd ways, and of course I had to wait until I could move my left leg, which was numb. The Trek helmet did an admirable job on head protection . While lying in the road, and realizing my immobility, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. It rang, I was connected, but no one answered. This happened twice. Note to file: Montgomery County 911 is off on Saturday mornings. I was finally able to stand, and considered going over to give the dog's owners a piece of my mind. Bad idea. One, the yard was occupied by several amazed dogs. Two, I already knew they were unfriendly and that 911 would not come to my rescue if they decided to finish off what the first dog had started. Three, I discovered I could not walk. Not a step. My left leg will not support any gait at all. I stood on the shoulder with the bike as a support. It looked OK, except for a handlebar moved around, and I fixed that easily enough. What to do, what to do? I could call home and ask for a bailout, but I didn't want to upset anyone there, so I decided to see if I could PEDAL. Getting my leg over the top tube was really uncomfortable, and I did not clip in for fear that I would not be able to twist my feet to clip out, but I could pedal. It seems that I landed on the hip flexor area and mine are decently developed, which may have helped cushion underlying bone and cartilage. Or maybe it's that extra fat I am still trying to get rid off. Either way, nothing felt broken, just numb. I pedaled almost eight miles back to cars, up hills on that darn granny gear. Well, it's really a blessing that the bike has a granny, it was very handy today. I would have called to the other riders, had I taken any of their numbers with me. I am sure someone would have come back to help me. These are nice people, just not mind readers. So if you ever ride with me, let's be sure we exchange phone numbers before we leave. Because you just never know.

When I got home, I needed help to get out of the car and into a bath tub. The bath felt fantastic. I'm walking (if you can call it that) with one of our old Boy Scout days hiking staves. I hate to inconvenience others, and my brand new birthday long sleeve jersey is torn when my shoulder hit the road. Really lucked out on the road rash, just a bit on the elbow. The bike has not a scratch. :) The dog has new respect for cyclists. :) :).

If I'm not there next week, you'll know why. But have a rescue plan ready!

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