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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wrapping up the weekend

Even with all our rain over the past few days, a ride has been managed each of the past 4 days. This afternoon, it was the beginner/relaxer ride. Carol H was back with us for the 1st time in many months. She left our company on the way back so that she could pick up the pace a little. We met up with her again near the end of our second loop. She had gone up Cobbs Ford Road and now knows why we like to ride the route to go DOWN that particular hill.

New rider Virgina made her first appearance today too. New as in new bike and new to our rides. A friend of Bill's, she was a delight to have along. Of course, she provided the required "new kid" entertainment moment. She pulled her left foot out of the toeclip at a stop, and leaned to the right. Initiation rites over, she had no further mishap. She fell on grass, so the bike was okay. Oh, Virginia will have a bruise tomorrow and a nick, but she looked unfazed by it all. 

Jo continues to get stronger. No longer lagging on the climbs that used to be tough for her, she'll be getting skinnier, higher pressure tires soon, I bet. And then she'll want something with a more aero position. Don't fret about it Jo, many of us have been there and done that! I liked hearing her ask if we could do the extra loop because she likes the downhill on Cobbs Ford!

Peggy made us all look like wimps. She RAN for 30 minutes before we got there, changed her outfit and then rode out in front of the pack! Of course, she missed the turn heading back to the cars and was too far ahead for me to catch her. I figured that being a local, she wouldn't get lost. Bzzzz! Wrong!  She back tracked and caught up with us after a while back at the parking lot. Her next stop was going to be to ask the firemen for directions. Well, other riders have gotten help from Millbrook's municipal agencies before, it wouldn't be the first time for a club member to ask for help!

We did have annoying incident with a pick up truck who wanted to make a right turn off Main St and didn't want to wait to let us pass through the intersection. He did in the end, but it's a reminder to bike defensively.

The green of the wild fields was deep and dark and luxurious. Spots of yellow and white and pink dotted the landscapes and thick bunches of claret red clover brimmed over the roadway shoulders. The air was cool and we all wore long sleeves. I said to Jo that we would wish for days like today, headwinds and all, in the sweltering rides of summer. Plenty of water in the yards in Coosada, and the ditches were filled. I'm thankful that our neighborhood drains well.

I was energized from the ride, and already sweaty, so I pulled out the lawnmower and did the yard. I'm glad to have it done.

Have a great week, everyone.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

After the fox!

The rains finally ceased around lunch today, leaving 5.6" total since Friday, but the streets dried fairly quickly and it seemed a good chance to get in a ride. For the 1st time this season, I did the venerable "Prattville Loop." I'd embed the map, but it only works in Internet explorer, and I use Firefox. Here's a link to it if you want to check it out:

This route has a markedly different feel depending on the direction in which you ride it. For years, I only rode it counter clockwise with short steep climbs and long fast descents, but for the last year or so have preferred clockwise, with its longer steadier climbs. I rode the Rivendell Raod bike today and it climbs well. A very different feel from the Rambouillet. Funny, I love whichever one I'm on, but it takes a little to get used to the other one when changing. I did the ride about 1 mph slower than I will later on in the season, no biggie. At lunch this week, buddy Bill claims that his Campy Eruus wheels with bladed spokes give him a 1 mph speed increase over the round spokes on his Surly Pacer. I think his cyclometer is just out of adjustment, personally :)

The coolest part of the ride today was climbing Bridge St at Gin Shop Hill. A red fox was in the roadway ahead of me with something that must have been lunch in his nouth. He trotted on for a while and I called out, "Hey Fox!" He turned, and did a 90 degree turn into the tree line. But it was still cool.

Earlier, Alex and I did a lap of our subdivision. He tried out the Nashbar, and said it felt really good. I held out the offer that he could ride it tomorrow and join us on the beginner ride. He said he was afraid he'd poop out along the way. He's 21, does jiu jitsu, and thinks he has less wind than a bunch of older less fit people? Come on!!

I'm behind last year in the mileage dept, but that's what happens when you get much needed rain on some weeknds, or get sick. I still enjoy riding when I can get it. Hopefully again tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dexter's Bike Lab

This bike came as a 650B conversion. That is, it was originally built as a 700 mm race bike and a prior owner changed the wheels from 700mm OD (622 rim size) to 650 mm (584 rim size) which allows beefier tires and a lower stand over. The wheels were pretty unusual. Light and fast, and made in limited quantity. I used them when I did my own 650B conversion of the Rivendell last month. Since then, I've been hunting for a suitable solution for this Nashbar. My 1st attempt was to use an economy set of Sun CR 18s on Shimano Nexave hubs. They worked, BUT. For one thing, as an economy set, they did not spin easily. The rear hub is 135 mm wide, while the frame is 126. The Sun rims are too big. Instead of 584, they measure about 587. You need steel tire irons to mount wire bead tires! Fixing a flat on the road is daunting. Tonight I received a set of Kenda K40s. these are 590 rim size (the old 26" x 1 3/8") and they fit on great. They ride like the $10.95 tires they are, however, and if you inflate to over 35 lbs the tires pop off the rims. Here's the rear wheel with a Kenda.

So, I looked around for ideas, and noticed the wheel set that originally came on the Rambouillet. It's a 559 (26") size, and has been "resting" ever since I picked up a set of Velocity Aeroheat / Phil hub wheels. Hmm, how looong a reach do the long reach Tektro 556 brakes have?

Just enough, it seems. The original issue cartridge pads had to come out, but with some Kool Stops intended for other brakes installed, proper rim contact is achieved and stopping power is good.

The completed bike looks okay! I may put tan sided Paselas on, but that can wait. It rides MUCH better now as it is! I'll take it out for a longer test tomorrow. Bottom bracket is 10 1/4" from the floor. or 1/4" lower than it was as a 650B with 32 mm tires. The tires now are 28s

Anyone need a set of Sun/Nexave wheels? Free Kendas tossed in :)
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

No VO2 Max!

I have been wondering why hills are such a pain in the rear (literally, and legs too) to drag my butt up these days. It's not so much that my leg muscles ache, it's that there is no horsepower coming from the engine at the core. I wonder, "is it congestive heart failure?", "too much sugar?" etc. Jim R set me straight today, "You know your VO2 Max goes down every year past 50 don't you?" Well, no Jim, that's news to me. Now I have something to EXPLAIN it. My lungs cannot get enough oxygen into the blood to provide oomph for big muscular exertions. It would still be better to have the ability to scoot up the hills than an explanation of why I can't. I think that dropping about 30 lbs would help what oxygen there is be more effective, so I am SERIOUSLY on the plan again. This butt is decreasing in size, and I mean it. I may have to find that hacksaw in the garage to make it happen though...

Our ride today was just about all rollers all the time. Nothing very steep or very tall, but very many of them, to be sure. Great to see Peggy out for the first time this year. Mary too. Jodi was back. She did not lose her keys or lock them in her car this week. She did however lose a water bottle somewhere along the way. I love riders that are always reliable sources of blog material. Especially ones that don't READ the blog :) Joe was "along" too. He gets so far ahead of us, you can't really say he's with us, but we do touch base at the stop signs. Both of us have seen downturns in our construction related businesses lately and we feel the same way about having to reconfigure our companies to suit the available work load. Not fun. New Club Lite-er Mike was out today too on a cool Cervelo. Mike has been on a Millbrook ride before but this was his first Pintlala club ride. Mike is a psycholgist. He used to work for the state, now he's at Faulkner. I asked him to explain why we put ourselves through the hill and wind torture on our bikes, like we did today. I think he has to get back to me on that one. He had no ready answer. Alice was missing sad to say. After organizing the ride, she came down with a bug and felt discretion was the better part of valor this morning.

We turned in 33.4 miles on a route that a couple of us tried out a month or two ago. We really liked it. The weather was wonerful. 50 ish to start and warming to mid 60s. Breeze of about 10 in our faces for 70% or so of the way, adding to the workout and the good natured gripes. We all averaged somewhere in the 14 - 15 area avg speed. We advertise Club Lite as 13 - 15, so we were good.

There was also a great turn out of fast Club Regular Riders.  Sam and Sammy were both out. Sammy displayed the colors of Team Holstein. Here's a pic:   I kid you not, that was his jersey. He even asked me if I had a camera to take his picture. Sam was more sedately attired, if that word can ever apply to cyclists.  Robert came out as did Vanessa, Scott BAS, Richard and Bill T. There was an unidentified Air Force object looking young, slim, and fast. Don't know him. Bilee led the train out of the station, and from Sammy's Face Book entry, they flew for 60 miles and had a grand old time. Great to see them all.

This was the second time out on the Rivendell and it is a wonderful bike. Plenty of room for the rider to upgrade, but the bike is pretty cool as it is. I wanted to get a second set of the same wheels to put on another bike, and found that the Velocity Aerohead in size 650B was a one time limited run for a single vendor. I'll figure something out if none turn up, but I have emailed that Aussie vendor to see if they still have any. There is a NOS set of D-A hubs in my parts basket, but in all probablity I'll just wait till I find something that works and is more widely available.

I brought home Peggy's bike to play with and enjoyed giving it a look over this afternoon. She offered $ to me to do it, but I held out for something even better. Her famous Glassner Ride cookies. She's agreed to pony up a plate of good ones, but we'll have to wait and see!

Looking forward to a ride tomorrow after church!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

And with Spring comes the rain....

Unlike last week, this weekend has been waterlogged.  I did get the dead grass from prior years "scalped" this week. For the 1st time in my almost 56 years, I BAGGED the trimmings, rather than mulch. There was a lot of it, and it was all dead junk. Now the rain will soak in and accelerate the fledgling shoots of green already appearing. Every Bradford Pear and Redbud tree on our street is showing blooms or buds, and the local dogwoods are flowering too. 1 1/2" so far today and more expected tonight, tomorrow and Monday.

There was a couple of hours-long window where I could have taken the fendered Hound Dog out for a spin, but it just wasn't a nice day for a ride. Instead, I enjoyed my fountain pens, hung out with my son as he asked me to supervise his automotive maintenance work, and then swapped tires and wheels around on my bikes.

Next Saturday is the Atlanta Pen Show (and I am looking forward to meeting up with some fountain pen collecting pals) so my only weekend riding will be on Sunday. Perhaps I'll be able to get out after work on a weeknight as well.

Hope you're able to ride where ever you are, or enjoying the quiet of a rainy day if you're not.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring is almost here...

What a great run of nice weather we're having! For the 1st time in recent memory, I was able to get out and ride on both weekend days! Saturday was the shakedown cruise for the Rivendell. It flows like a stream, handles like a deer. If only I could ride like the wind.. Okay, seriously, the frame is forgiving but not spongy. The handling is extremely crisp. You can lay this bike way over to take turns fast and there is no hesitation. The BB is fairly low due to the 650B conversion, 25.5 mm is the height, compared to 27.5 on the Saluki which is a 650B by design. For this reason, I wouldn't try to pedal hard through a fast turn, but never came close to pedal strike in ordinary maneuvers. The 170 mm crankarms help, longer legged folks on 175s might have different issues with the pedals and the pavement.

I liked the randonneur bars, and the down tube shifters. The bike is light and responsive. Michelle got off her carbon Giant and gave it a quick pedal. She said it felt surprisingly light, but she did not feel ready to go off anywhere on it. Turn out was pretty good for the club rides as it happend.

Here's the regular crowd:

And here are the more sedate and refined folks:

Don't let the HED TT wheels on the custom Trek Madone throw you off. Bilee is pretty sedate when she wants to be. (Like when she and Patty are NOT training for the US Sr Olympics) Although after being caught on film trying to infiltrate our group, she hung her head and went back to the speedy people.

We had great weather to ride in. The jackets you see were all removed and packed away before 10 miles had been pedaled. The sun peeked in and out, and the breezes made us work for the miles.

Sunday was the relaxer ride up in Millbrook. We had 9 or 10 come out, and most of us did two loops for a little over 21 miles. Just good company and a nice way to spend an afternoon. Had a new guy out with us, and he felt good on a borrowed Saluki. He looked good on it too. A couple of riders failed to change clocks and missed a good time and a couple more were tied up with setting up a Bingo game. Let;s see, Biking or Bingo? Hmmmm. Can you win a bike at Bingo? If not, I'm riding.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Following that wheel...

Just an update on the broke spokes wheel saga. Dropped it off at the shop on Saturday as they were about to close.

Saturday: "We'll put it up here on the truing stand so we do it 1st thing on Tuesday morning."

Tuesday afternoon: "Was this your wheel? No? Hey! Where's Bruce's wheel? Oh, behind that other stuff. How about we have it for you Wednesday?"

Wednesday AM: Phone rings, "We're out of #272 spokes. If we order them today, we'll have it tomorrow for sure."

Wednesday lunch: I meet Jeff for (really good) Jamaican chicken and buy his spare set of 650B wheels. Sun CR-18 rims on Nexave C500 hubs. Fine for back up duty.

Wednesday evening after church: I discover that the Sun CR-18 rims run more like 587, not 584 and it takes steel implements to mount or dismount tires. The front goes on Okay. The new Conti tube in the rear, sssssssssssss. I take a 9 speed cassette (12- 26) off a Bontrager and put it on the Nexave. Perfect fit. Phew.

Today: No calls so far. Will swing by and check on the good wheel tonight on the way home...

This evening:  I met Bilee outside the bike shop. She looked perfectly coiffed and composed, although the Pearl Izumi shorts and jersey indicated she had been riding! Yes, her injury is healed and she rode FROM the doctor's office as soon as he gave her the okay. Seems she interrupted Mark at his work, so the delay in readying it was entirely HER fault, she said. Good to see you Bilee. Glad you're back on your bike too. Mark did in fact have the 2 spokes Alex broke replaced.Along with ALL the others on the drive side of the wheel. The chain had mauled them pretty good. Since he had the freewheel off, I took it home that way.

Once home, I moved the Dura Ace Freewheel I had off another hub and on the Sansin. Then I put tires on and aired up the wheel. Voila! The Rivendell rides again. A slight clunk now, an inner link is slightly akimbo and I only feel it in the idler pulleys. It's always something else, isn't it?

Anyway, I replaced the tube in the back up wheel and aired it up as well. Now all bikes have wheels, rubber, and adjusted brakes. Is there a club lite ride this Saturday?

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