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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

1st Ride of Summer

Ah yes, summer in Alabama. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." I don't know how often I've heard that phrase, but it has sure been a lot. Today it wasn't so hot but it WAS humid. It caused me to sweat up a storm, and deal with salty eyes all day.

Bilee put up the usual post, "Wendell has to work this weekend, so he wants to ride 25 miles at 7 AM" She of course, was riding faster and farther elsewhere. A relaxing ride with Wendell sounded pretty good to me, so I said I'd be there, with the fat tire touring bike. Good buddy Bill called the other day to say he liked the long slow ride plan too, and we agreed to accompany Wendell until he turned back to the cars, then we would add as many miles as time and energy would allow. Bill intended to bring out his Rivendell-ish Surly. Finally, other good buddy Jeff came by the other night and said he planned to come out on the vintage Gilles Berthoud touring rig. (GB is a high end, hand crafted line that's been around a while. Very old fashioned, but still popular with a certain set)

This morning, I got an email telling me that Bill's family has other ideas about his day, so he is joining Bilee in the "faster" camp, so he can be done early. Jeff came out though and we were joined by Jim and Chad, and 3 miles out by Tim, so it was a good group after all. We set out from Pintlala Baptist and headed to the country. The first picture above is of Wendell on his breakaway. Now, for those that don't know, Wendell (or "Wood" as the gal he lives with calls him, the sly devil) rides a Civil War era Cannondale R200, with a squeezable elephant head on the handlebar. The bike is "Babar" to his friends. Wendell has a nice Campy Athena or Chorus drive train, but prefers to save wear and tear, so he uses 1 and only 1 gear. He also pedals consistently at 1 and only 1 cadence. His riding is like his demeanor, very affable and laid back. Wendell is your ticket if you want to enjoy a ride, both for the conversation and the easy pace. Imagine my surprise then, when Wendell kicked in the jets and went flying up a hill far out in front of us. Chad, a sliver of soon to be 10 th grader (gosh I wish I had started riding when I was that age!) is seen in the picture trying to catch Wendell. And Chad is on the race team!. Who knew the upcoming Tour de France would inspire Wendell so?

I hung back and eventually caught up. In the meanwhile I thoroughly enjoyed being out with Jeff on his way cool bike. If only it wasn't French. Here's a picture (apologies on the lack of focus) of Jeff on the go. This bike features a stay mounted pump and a generator that you pull up on a seat tube mounted lever to engage.

We stopped to regroup at various junctures and to be sure we had every one. Today was the 1st try out of a new pair of Joneswares merino wool cycling shorts. They were by far the most comfortable shorts I have ever used on a bike. Unfortunately, the bottom center seam began to come open. With no underwear beneath it, an interesting wardrobe malfunction might have ensued. In the meantime, I was peddling merrily along, blithely unaware of the danger lurking below. A wool jersey was also very comfortable. Several amazed people asked if I was sure you can wear wool in the summer. "Sheep do it all the time," I replied. It does much better when wet with perspiration than cotton or synthetics, and does NOT smell. Alex took a picture for me with his closeup lens of the seam opening in the shorts and I'll email the maker to see what they say.

Here is a picture of the usual suspects. You can play "Where's Waldo?" There are two wool jerseys being worn; your mission is to find them. We parted company with Wendell and Jeff at about mile 18. They turned to head back to where the cars were parked. From there, the rest of us picked up the pace a little and headed to Ramer. It was a lovely ride. Partly cloudy conditions kept us from roasting in the sun. The green is lush and dense and some of the low spots in the road were still quite cool as we rolled through them. This ride has some rollers and the total climb is about 1,350'. Not much overall, but a few stretches are actually pretty steep.

We pulled on in to Ramer and the place was pretty uncrowded today. In fact, we didn't see any other riders along the route. When things are quiet like that, you don't have to stop to find "facilities." A tree will do. here is a picture of Jim "Back To Nature"
coming back onto the road. Jim is my hero, really. He will turn 70 on his next birthday and he still looks like a Greek god. I'm not saying which one though....

The thought crossed my mind of racing Chad to the finish, but as soon as I mentioned it, he took off for the cars and was there maybe 1/2 hour before the rest of us. No way I could catch him. I ribbed him about being a wheel sucker behind me and he was showing that he did not need to be pulled along. Next time, I'll just ease up next to him and say, "Race you to the cars!" Tim wanted to get more miles so he went on up the road to the next town (Snodoun) and Jim and I paced each other back to the start point.

The tally was 41 miles at 14.5 mph. The rain which loomed early on dissipated without ever wetting us. When I got home, an eBay score was waiting in the mail. A vintage Castelli Italian wool jersey in excellent condition. Anyone want to ride tomorrow?


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