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

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a Conspiracy!

My son's girlfriend is reading "The Alchemist" right now. The author's premise is that the universe conspires to give us what we want, if we just let it. I'm not buying Paulo Coelho's pseudo theology in it's entirety, but I grant that sometimes things do work out when you don't expect them to.

Earlier this week, a club member asked for a Beginner ride for himself and his wife. We set a time and I posted the ride. Then some others emailed to say they were also coming. Then the original couple asked for a time change, which we didn't do because the others were set for the original time. The first couple canceled the day before the ride, then 2 others who committed to ride canceled a few hours before the ride due to a sudden come up at work. Imagine my surprise then to arrive at the meeting venue and find a parking lot full of people with bikes! In addition to the beginners, a couple of regular riders made the trip up from points south to take part and welcome the newer folks.

We did the normal, pretty flat, back roads amble and kept the pace at a comfortable 11 - 12 mph. I checked frequently with the new riders to be sure they were okay with it, and they were. The few upgrades slowed them a little, but not badly at all. I rode the route as a single speed, which I really enjoy. You never change gears. Try it sometime, it's a nice change of pace from constant shifting.

The late afternoon was pleasant, and not working too hard, we did not drown in sweat. I forget how nice it is to look around and soak in the scenery, talk to the cows, and share conversation with the other riders. Yes, it drops my year-to-date average speed (by 1/100th of a mph maybe), but like, who cares? Everything did fall into place for a relaxing and satisfying ride.

Mid week rides conclude this week, and it will be time to put an old tire on the rear of the KHS to use on the trainer stand until next Spring.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mind - Body Disconnect

Two mid week rides this week. Same route both times. Almost didn't ride the 1st time; chest tight with stress, innards feeling jiggly, generally not feeling perky. Rode anyway. Started out into the wind (which was uphill too, of course) and then the wind died 1/2 way out, so there was no help on the opposing leg of the trip. It was work all the way, and I never felt like my breathing was right, and it never felt smooth or easy. At the end, I was glad that I'd done the ride, because I felt a little less tense.

Rode the same route last night. The wind was pleasant in my face, my pedals spun easily. The climbs were good exercise and my legs felt strong as I worked up to the tops. Everything felt smooth and I was sure I had clobbered the previous ride time. I did better it, but only by 1 minute. It turns out that for both nights, the performance was virtually the same, but the sensation was totally different. Apparently, my legs do not tune in to what my brain is thinking. That's good to know, because if I get to where I don't think I can go any further, the legs can and will continue to spin the cranks.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Club B & W

After very little riding this past week in the high 90s temps, a ride this morning sounded like a great idea. No one seemed to commit to going, so I was prepared to go solo the 40 odd miles to Ramer and back if need be. A new green wool Ibex jersey (a great score on Ebay) came in the mail this week and it matches the Saluki, so that was the bike to ride.

For starters, it was not in the 90s this morning. It was in the 50s!!!! Here is the picture to prove it taken just as I got to Pintlala.

Plenty of speed wagons showed up in the parking lot and they took off promising one another to stay at 18 -19 this week, not 21 - 23 like Bilee and Patty had them up to a week or so prior. It was good to see Dan and Vanessa all well and bright eyed. She came back from high altitude training with some offbeat bug high up in her innards and making her very sick. Then Dan caught it as well. Dan said "You know it's serious when Homeland Security calls to find out where you've been in a foreign country because you have such an unusual bacteria." I am sure we have no hidden bio-terrorists in our club.

Finally, Wendell arrived and I knew that he and I could ride together. He wanted to ride for about 25 miles and get back home to work in the yard. I was happy to have the company, and knew I could continue on myself, if more miles were needed. This is Alex's weekend to mow, but the more I thought of it, the more I decided I wanted the lawn to look GOOD, and I agreed with Wendell's plan. Besides, mowing in cool weather is far better than what I agonized through last week.

We rode the top part of the club metric in reverse, putting the US331 store stop at about the 18 mile point, which worked out just fine. The weather was fantastic. Light breeze, brilliant Sun, cool temps. The wool worked great as it always does. Coming back on Butler Mill, Wendell threw a chain off some how and got it really tangled up. Here he is trying to keep the chain in place and un tangle it by rotating the bike. I kid you not.

I let him play with it for a minute or two. I asked him who built the bike. It is a Cannondale R200 (Cadd 2) frame with Campy Record triple crankset, Chorus brakes, Athena hubs, Mavic open pro wheels, and a Dedacciai Deda Murex Stem. I know it didn't come from the factory that way (those are all high end race components from the late 80s to mid 90s). It's a great looking bike (featuring a rubber "Babar" elephant head squeeze horn on the handlebars) The shifter cables are crisscrossed under the down tube and the only one around here who builds like that (that I have seen) is Phil at Cycle Escape. Sure enough, Wendell got the frame from a fellow who moved on to CO, and Phil built it up for him with some nice old parts.

I spent some more time giving Wendell a hard go about un chaining, and then coasting forever to find some shade, instead of pulling off into the 1st driveway. Then I came and took a closer look.

Finally I asked if I could help. We turned the bike back over, and I fished a rubber glove out of the saddle bag so I could grab the chain and stay clean. We slipped the chain back in place and were off in a trice. All jokes about "exams" aside, a rubber glove makes a sleeve for your spare tube and then protects your hand from grease during chain removal/replacement. You can pull one on right over your cycling glove, so it is very convenient. Turn it inside out when you put it back in the saddle bag to keep things clean. Toss it when you get home.

The turn onto CR 24 came way too soon, I was not ready for the ride to end. It was fun to chat and not feel pushed. We averaged 14.4 mph (13 - 15 was the advertised range) which is fine for a fat tires, front and rear bags touring rig.

I look out on a new mowed lawn, and am glad that it's all done.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dog Days are here again

It's August in Alabama. Need I say more? It's been wicked hot and stifling humid. A casual saunter around the block produces a sweat soaked tee shirt. Not primo cycling weather. Despite that, I got in 2 nice midweek rides last week after work. Saturday was then to be the big ride of the week, and to clear the day of chores, I took the lawnmower out on Friday after coming home from the office. JackWeedy (our excellent biking lawn care guy) put grass growing/weed destroying stuff down last week which was well watered in. This yielded a dark green, dense and lush bermuda grass lawn. Which was very tough to mow with my manual propelled mulching mower (no comments from the peanut gallery!). Especially in the heat. I took two breaks and was still totally whipped afterwards. It took most of Saturday to recover, as I was good for little else all day.
I rose early to go on the club ride, which was to meet at 7, but 1/2 way there, I realized that my cap, helmet and gloves were back on the dining room table. No riders without helmets on club rides allowed. I had to turn around and scrub the mission. Upon arriving back home, there was no energy happening to ride solo.
Sunday afternoon, I put on my Grant P wannabe outfit. Nylon MUSA shorts, silly cycling (longer arms and higher collar than a street shirt) seersucker long sleeve shirt over a thin wool tee shirt and a green (matches the color of the bike) Elrond's cap and slowly rode all the new local subdivisons to see what has been going on lately. About 20 miles all told on the Saluki. First, Grant's fashion sense may work well in San Francisco, where Mark Twain reported that the Summers are cold, but a soaked cotton shirt hangs heavy on an Alabama rider. Ditch that idea. The ride itself was fine with lots of interesting things to look at and folks to wave to and I was beginning to feel normal again. Sunday started early for me, rising at 4:30 to take my son to Birmingham Airport. He is in Washington DC for the week at a college student conference. In fact, I heard (but was at work and did not see) that he was on CSPAN2 yesterday, discussing what books students should read. The mail lady brought a Baggins front rack bag (bought from someone on the RBW list) and I put it on the Saluki, along with the Baggins "Keven" bag hanging from the saddle. The Carradice zip roll has moved over to the Rambouillet. Two larger bags, a Carradice Cadet and an Acorn, wait on the shelf for longer trip requirements. The Ostrich front/rear set has been sold and will ship out when the buyer's check arrives. Anyway, it was hard to stay awake in church (I got back from Birmingham in time to have breakfast and then go over to church) and focused on the sermon (which was supposed to deal with Melchizedek, but which wandered off some) and harder to stay awake once I found my recliner chair following a shower in the afternoon. At least I was awake through Sunday school. Which I was teaching. (Jephthah, and yes I stayed on topic)
The forecast for today is 97F and humid, with T-storms a possibility. I may be reading "Bicycling beyond the Divide" in air conditioning, instead of actually bicyling beyond anything. We'll see how the day goes and all that....

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