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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Can I drown in my own sweat?

This was today's pressing question. It was hot, humid and the air was oppressively still. Perfect biking weather you say? The clouds, while adding to the moisture factor, certainly kept the sun off our backs for a while, but in the end, I was a soaked, squishy mess. But it was a good ride!

There was quite a turn out at Pintlala for the un-official club ride. July's official rides are actually at Emerald Mountain bridge. The bulk of the riders who came here today went out on a 50 mile Lowndesboro loop at rapid pace. Today we had a visiting Cat 2 rider, and I assume that he helped keep things moving along. "Kid Missle" (Chad) was there too, on his major wow factor brand spanking new Cervelo bicycle. Some teens want a car, Chad wanted what Team CSC wins on. Go Chad! Looks like Sastre will wear yellow in Paris on a Cervelo tomorrow in fact. Here are a acouple of pics of folks getting ready to scoot. I must be one the few who gets their bike and gear ready the night before a ride. I saw plenty of tire pumping, saddle adjusting and even some aero bar removing going on in the parking lot.
Anyway, after everyone had finished whatever prep work they do, the gang took off on their ride.

Here is a picture of the faster group heading out. A couple of good riders and nice bikes in this photo.

Jeff, Tim and I headed out on more of a tour than a training ride. This was Jeff's 1st ride in a while. His son was assaulted and shot during a robbery attempt and was severely injured. Jeff and his wife Meesoon have been spending lots of time on care for their son as you might imagine. It was good to know that things had improved to the point that a ride was possible. Hopefully, his son's recovery will be complete and soon.

We intended to do "Alice's Backwards Ramer Metric". The inimitable Alice crafted this route a couple of years ago and it works nicely. The club Metric has no store stops (there are rest stops on the annual century event) so this route allows 3 store stops more or less evenly spaced, and a hose spigot at the Mt. Carmel Church parking lot as well. Most of the climbing comes in the 1st half of the ride, when riders are fresher in the legs as well. Our ride today resembled nothing so much as a "Slinky" toy. I am the quickest up hills, The other two are way faster going down the hills. Jeff and I are about equal on the flats, while Tim can crank it up. We were continullay alternating the lead. Stops at the turns made sure we all stayed in touch. Jeff had planned on 30 ish miles and so he left us at Butler Mill Rd and headed back up to the cars. Tim and I pushed on to Ramer, where Cedric regaled us with some local history. It seems that the old capitol building dome was shipped from Cahaba to a church in Lowndesboro. Tim knew about the church in fact. Speaking of churches, Tim pointed this one out to me and I stopped to snap a picture. Maybe Moses had a cousin who got the directions wrong and missed the Mt. Sinai exit? Tim's wife has written a book about intersting things you can see in Alabama. The house with all the crosses (see a prior post for pictures) is in her book, "Alabama Troubador" which I'll have to get and read now of course. Tim is also an author and I threatened to read his books as well (since he is a history professor, the books are on stuff like the Mexican Revolution. Viva Speedy Gonzales!!) He did say that they are not just written for academics!

After we left Ramer, the sky started to cloud up and guess what? A HEADWIND came up. Oh joy. By this time I had emptied two water bottles, and (2) 32 oz bottles of light sugar fitness water from our 2 store stops. ALL of it was sweated out all over me. I was soaked, my gloves and handlebar tape were wet, my over shorts were wet as was my saddle. The straw that did it was when the sun block, applied to my face (supposedly waterproof) started to get in my eyes. I just couldn't see a thing unless I constantly wiped them. Fortunately, my legs kept going of their own accord. You have to cycle to know how it is. Your legs go on auto pilot. At least I had over shorts though. Tim's lycra racer pants opened up a LARGE hole, with thread streamers trailing in the breeze behind him. "Tim do you know your shorts may not make it?" "Yeah," he replied, "I need to order a new pair. I only have the one." Yeah. Good idea there. And yes, I snapped a picture of it and of course Tim, I can email you the pic if you like...(evil grin)

We decided that the build up of clouds warranted a detour, and we hacked 10 miles off the total route. It was still a tough workout anyway. Tim was sailing along at 20 on the flats after descending from Ramer and I stayed with him for 12 - 15 miles, but that was TOO fast for me. I paid the price for running my muscles out of fuel. I had to ease up and only began to recover about the time we hit the parking lot at the end. All in all, it was good to be out on a ride and parts of it were great. Total mileage was a hair over 54 and our pace average was 14.3 (13 - 15 was the advertised range) so it ended up fine. The rain has already come, so the weather observation was accurate. More miles tomorrow, we hope!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not much of a mid-week

Ugly weather brought Tuesday's outing up short, after just 8 miles. We got to climb Gin Shop Hill though, TWICE. Tonight was better, if you like hot, stagnant air and 100% humidity, and the full 20 miles was "enjoyed." A new wool jersey by DiMarchi (cheap at was really comfortable and the hand crafted wool cap worked again. At the end of the ride, the dome was dry. Gotta love it.

The 1st big hill on Tues was unexpectedly hard. It was a bit better tonight, but I really didn't feel good until about 1/2 way out on the ride. All of a sudden, it was like the valves opened up, and fuel was flowing. I finished the ride energized and would have enjoyed some more. We had a new rider Tues (Bo) and today another one (Preston) both of whom are way faster than I am. They're also young enough to be my kids.

Looking forward to the weekend!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mid Summer Beginner Ride

We don't usually have beginner rides in the Summer. "Here's your chance to sweat in high heat and humidity" is not a great advertising slogan for new cyclists. Lanna emailed this week though about setting up a ride for today and it worked out for a few of us. It wasn't that bad after all, weather wise, and I wouldn't mind doing it again if there is interest in the next couple of weeks.

5 riders pulled out of Village Green Park and went on a 16 mile out and back (we averaged 12 mph) to the Elmore store on mostly flattish pavement today. Welcome to brand spanking new rider Chelsea (a lovely incoming 11th grader) and first time with us rider, Brian ("Lastonein" on Brian was on a great old fully lugged steel Dave Scott Ironman frame too. Gotta love it. Also back was recent beginner Jackie M (Jackie O bowed out due to a conflict). Chelsea's mom, Lanna who has been with us many times, rounded out the party. Here are some pictures. Brian's wife, Michelle is an ace photographer. If you see these, Michelle, remember I shot them from the saddle of a rolling bicycle. Without all the fancy gizmos that your camera has too. Brian and Michelle are talented musically as well. She was the honcho of our VBS and sings in the choir, and he was one of our guitar picking song leaders for an army of little kidlets. The VBS was a success, due to their efforts and that of many others, but I'm glad to say we closed the book on this year's edition last night. Now I can just go back to teaching Sunday School. Gideon is up tomorrow. You like your fleece wet or dry? I'll take mine in wool, thank you very much...

No singing or playing music, but everyone enjoyed roadside entertainment of another sort today as I couldn't remember how to convert my frame pump head from Presta to Shrader to put some air in Jackie's tire. Eventually, "Oh yeah! This piece has to come out and turn around!" occurred to me and we finished the pit stop and got back on the road. My cyling computer was on the fritz today, so as usual, I enjoyed the ride a whole lot more. I really need to toss that thing and just ride. Something about listening to your body instead of staring at a stupid screen. But no, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a battery....

The cicadas were in song, cows stayed on their side of the fences and the dogs were well mannered. And has anyone else noticed how rich the color of the crape myrtles is this year? Temps were in the 70s to start, but in the 90s by the time I made it back to Prattville.

I'm glad to report that all beginners arrived back alive and said that they were going to ride again! Our area has a high turn over of riders due the military transfers in and out of the school at our local base, so I like to get locals to become involved as well. Longer term memebers help with stability.

I wore a wool cycling cap today under my helmet for the 1st time. A gal in Portland hand sews these in a variety of patterns and colors. I have to say that hands down, it beats any other cap I've tried for sweat management. No, it's NOT hot because it's wool either. If anyone is interested, I can give them contact info. I ordered 2 more for myself. Salt in my eyes is a major issue every summer and this was a real help. No problems at all after 3 hours out there (I added miles to the beginner ride both coming and going.) A wool Rivendell jersey and wool Ibex shorts made it an all wool wear day. Okay, no more about wool for a while. Hey, is that a moth over there?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

17 years in the making

The first enjoyable thing I noticed today was the loud sound of cicadas as I pedaled through a heavily treed section of road. I thought how great it was that some bugs began preparations many years ago for my riding pleasure today! The first thing I noticed on the ride today was less enjoyable. Both the temperature and the humidity were around the 90 mark.

This past week has been a strain at work. You know how it is, things that should not bother you do, because you're already rubbed raw. The cycling analogy is when you get so tired that a little zephyr screams like a gale in your ears and the up slope to a traffic signal burns your legs like the Col du Vent. No Club Lite ride was posted for today. The idea of a long car drive across town to do a quicker pace line did not appeal to me, and so I turned over and went back to sleep when my alarm sounded. I got up an hour later, and enjoyed some coffee. THEN I went out intending to do 50 ish miles in and around Prattville, at a pleasant, but not too tough pace.

The news about Tony Snow was sad. He died from colon cancer today, just a week after my cousin Gary did. Tony's mother died of it too, as did Gary's Aunt (my grandmother) I suppose that puts my work stuff into perspective. I think Gary's memorial service is today, up in Manitowoc WI. His sister will tell me about it later. I wanted to ride solo today. No wisecracks about being slow, or riding steel, or wearing wool. I'm slow because my engine is slow, not because I don't ride a lot, or sweat a ton, or get into the fine details of bikes and bike riding. My heart-lung machine just doesn't put out like some other people's. When I ride alone, I don;t worry that I am holding someone back either. Its also a great time to work through issues and cleanse my system of both angst and adrenaline. I wanted to stop and take pictures today too.

I wore the nice red jersey that Cecil gave me, and the humidity soaked it. It hung on me and rubbed my nipples raw. I should have worn a base layer, or just gone with a wool jersey. The wool Ibex shorts (new with tags but discounted a lot, courtesy of eBay) were superb. I had JUST cleaned my bikes and re lubed the chains last weekend. This fact will bear later on in the story.
Fixed and moveable artHere we are on a downtown side street. I call this picture, "Fixed and Movable Art" It's the local art society with a piece imported from Walnut Creek, CA in the foreground. The pictures below are from Main St. It really is a lovely little town. You can read more about the pictures if you care to at the Flickr Album (Fullylugged's photostream, of course)

Then I went for a loop south of town and took some pictures:

The sign had a message that certainly made sense to me!! As you can see, Prattville is in the very beginnings of the Appalachian Piedmont, rising in red clay hills above nearby Montgomery which sits down on a plain of yellow prairie soil. There are no tall hills here, but you go up and down a lot. I was chased by a couple of dachshunds at various times. Those battery operated size pooches are no trouble. I encourage them to run faster. It's the pit bulls and rottweilers that I like to see inside fences. They can easily run at 24 mph for quite a while, and deliver a nasty bite. It was a pit bull that got in front of me and caused my wreck in 12/06. I took the loop through Indian Hills. It has no tribally organized native Americans any more, but the hills are still there.

Coming down back towards town is the local landmark known as "Hell House."

The owner has passed away, but the family left the display up. The seminary students reading this (yeah, right!) can dicker on the fine points of his theology, but the display is an attention getter. Soon I was back down town, and took the pictures at the top of the page. I pulled around to my favorite locally eatery and came on a group leaving the place and chatting about Tony Snow. I chimed in and one of their number offered to work as a cameraman taking the two pictures below.

It's obvious that I am too well acquainted with Marchelle's wonderful baked goods, and mornay sauce entrees.

At this point, I was ready to saddle up and head up on the north side of town for another loop. The clouds were getting dark, despite a forecast of AFTERNOON showers, and my chest was getting pretty well abraded, so I opted to pedal on home. Good thing. About a half mile closer to home that LAST TIME, the heavens unzipped and the water dumped out. I mean 2" of rain fell straight down faster than a Brit can say "Bob's your uncle." I was really glad that my wallet and camera were in the water proof saddle bag, that there was no lightning, and that I was close to home. I also prayed that passing cars would not drench me with water, standing deeply in the streets. I was already plenty wet, no problem there, but you can't see when you're getting a wheel spray of water from a Caddilac Escalade. Providentially, the only water splashed on me was that made by my own wheels. Wool socks in Tevas shed water easily, and wool bike shorts are also no trouble when wet. One of these days, I'll get a whole ride in, but truth be told, we need the rain, more than I need the miles. I could do with less dessert at Marcelle's though. And of course, the bike needs to be cleaned and lubed once again...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The end of the line

It sure was a nice 3 day weekend. Wonderful long ride with Frank on Friday and a normal length one with the club yesterday. The shrimp boil for the 4th sure was great too. Thanks to Susan and David for that invite. I intended to ride today after church but didn't. The weather threatened (we got about a dozen drops of rain in all) and there were a few "to-dos" around the house so I ditched that idea. My legs were tight from the prior two days anyway; although a couple of laps around our subdivision loosened them up a little.

I happened to be home though when my cousin Carol called to say her brother Gary passed away from his colon cancer. He only found out about it 6 weeks ago, when he thought it was a matter of Crohn's acting up. Carol and I had a really good talk. We met for the 1st time in 2001 when each of us, doing family tree research, contacted the same person, who put us in touch with one another. Neither of us knew of the other. Her father and my grandfather were brothers. We have since gotten to be pretty friendly, and I care for her and her husband Bud very much. When I went to WI to meet them, I also met her sister Anita, my great aunt Marie, and of course, Gary. He was the kind of guy I wished I had more time to know better. I noted in a post a few weeks ago that we finally had a very touching email exchange and as it turns out, that was to be the end of the line for our conversations of any sort in this world. While Gary was not to my knowlege a person of faith, I had prayed previously that it might not be the end of our conversations in the next. He called his situation, "The reality of mortality." Facing one's death has a way of bringing things we set aside into a sharp focus. Perhaps time will show that he was led on the same path as me. I won't know until then.

I copied the emails to Carol, and I was very happy to hear that she found them of comfort. It worked out just fine that I was sitting here at my desk when she called and not out riding. Providentially, you might say. :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

There's nothing wrong with my bike.

Ann asked me if there was a problem with my bike, when we were just about 2 miles from the end of today's ride. She said she noticed I had slowed down. I was doing 17 mph when she passed me. On a Club LITE ride. No ma'am. Any speed deficiencies are purely due to the lack of horsepower in the engine. The bike is great. I'm glad others care enough to make sure mine is running though.

There was quite a crowd at the Pintala Church this morning. The regular club was supposed to reel of 50 ish miles at 18 - 20. Someone who was with them will have to do the report. By the time the Lite group made it back, the regulars had already put their bikes back on the cars. We were happy celebrate Jack's return to club rides following his medical roller coaster ride. Likewise, John (now retired!) was a welcome sight. Tom, Jim, Wendell and new rider Jackie filled out or cadre. She will be in the regular group but wanted to get her feet wet with a more relaxed and conversational outing. Here are a couple of pics of Jackie, the group, and Ann and Tom pulling the team across the countryside.
As you can probably tell, we're not quite ready for the Tour de France just yet. With all our medical issues, it's questionable how many of us would pass the drug tests as well.

The temperature when we started was around 75, and the winds were calm. It was another beautiful morning for a bike ride. The plan was to take the 30 mile route to the Ramer store. Jackie could get to meet Cedric, and experience the excitement of winding your way through the butcher department to look for the bathroom. John pointed out that not too may years ago, they had a wooden building out back which you used instead. In fact, the Fitzpatrick store still does! We'll have to show her that one next time.

The ride is typical of southern Montgomery county, with lots of rollers, but no really steep or big climbs. After my thorough workout yesterday, it was fine with me. Jackie is new to Alabama and couldn't get the theme from "Deliverance" off her mind. We tried to assure her that she would not fall prey to deep woods weirdos on this bike ride. As long as she stayed out of a canoe, anyway.

I have meant to take a picture of a building on Butler Mill Rd for some time now. It looks like it could be a gift shop, or a plant store, but I never see it open. It's called "Longview" and here are are 2 pictures of it, close up and a "Long" view. It's in a lovely nook of the woods.

We ended up with 35 miles and I averaged 14. I am sure Ann was WAY faster Þ~~~

Have a great weekend everyone. There's a bike ride in France on TV at 3 that I may watch.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day!

It's great to live in a free country. No matter which policies over the years I have agreed with and voted for, or marched in protest of, I am unabashedly proud of and thankful to all those who have given their time, talent, treasure, or even their lives, so that we who live here do so as a free people. In a lighter vein, among other things, today I am free from work, and so I pointed the front wheel of the Rambouillet down the highway. With gas prices so high, no one wants to come up from Montgomery these days, and besides which, there is a limited pool of riders who actually LIKE our hills. I decided to go whole hog and save gas myself, and rode over and back to the ride start, turning a 44 mile hill climb into a 60 mile one. Frank, as always, had 60 miles in before the sun came up. He was wearing his usual sausage casing today (a yellow Under Armour long sleeve shirt). It looks odd, but that stuff is excellent for temperature and moisture management. Hence its popularity with athletes under their uniforms. With the TdF starting tomorrow, yellow is a good color to have on.

When I left the house at 6:45, it was cool and the air calm, and I gradually warmed up my legs on the cross town leg of the ride. It was delightful. It was still nice when Frank and I set out on the main portion of the route at 7:30. By 9:30, it was HOT. The sun today is powerful, and the light breeze was not enough to cool anything off. We took well deserved breaks at Posey Crossings and Bubba's in Marbury. By the time we got there, I was soaked and sweat was cascading off my head and going everywhere. With 35 miles done, I had as much to drink as normally over 45 miles. And I still couldn't stay hydrated! Here you see my helmet liner and towel draped on the bike during a store stop to dry them out.

Leaving Marbury, we came through Alpha Springs, where there are 2 big climbs of 12% and 13%. The second one really took it out of me. I asked Frank to pause when we got to CR 40, and we found some shade at a church just off the corner. The GU pack ("best before 10/07." Now, they gave this out at the KidOne ride THIS Spring, ya know?) and a granola bar along with more fluids helped ease the pain and we headed off once more after a few minutes. I opted to part company with Frank before turning on CR39. He is a far stronger rider and not sufferenig at all on the hills. I however, really didn't need that 3rd mega climb since my sartorius muscles were locking rigidly at any serious push on the pedals (When that happens, you focus on using OTHER muscles. I climbed with glutes and hamstrings as much as I could. They did not hurt at all.) I had some hills to climb on the alternate route, but no killers. At one point, they hurt like the dickens and I tried to work through the cramps. Then all of sudden, the muscles relaxed and both legs worked like they should again. That's the first time I've experienced such a sensation.

I ended up coming back south down CR 23 and then over Old Ridge Rd to McQueen Smith. There are 5 climbs on that part of the roadway, but none are too hard. The bummer was turning towards AL 14 at the end on what is usually a 24 mph down grade, and feeling a stiff headwind making 17 tough to manange. I pulled over and took a picture of this flag to show the wind, but of couse it slacked off, then started up again once I was back on the bike. It's good to have a flag picture today anyway :)

I averaged 15 mph for the 1st 45 miles, but only 13.5 overall with the crawls up the final hills. 60.5 total miles and a hair over 3,000' of climbing (that's a lot in my book)

New Joneswares wool cycle shorts were great. I recommend them highly. No seam seperating on this new pair. They come with/without a chamois pad. I got it without. Don't need it on the Selle An-Atomica saddles. There is a rumor of a shrimp boil, so I must needs go investigate. Happy 4th everyone! Thanks especially to Frank for seeing if I was dead or alive.

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