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

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!

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