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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mid week hot

The jet stream is still parked in a loop that is holding our area of the nation in a warm handed grip. It's been around 100 F every afternoon, which has lessened my enthusiasm for riding. Yesterday, I puttered in the yard; watering the parched looking spots as well as the shrubs. And my newest reclamation project, a dancing lady orchid (yellow Oncidium to the floral literati among us). It has survived years of neglect, so what will it do with proper food and water, one wonders? Sunday afternoon, while it was also too hot to ride, I tinkered with the Rivendell Rambouillet. One thing led to another, and what began as merely replacing a brake cable which was showing some rust turned into a mini make over for the bike. Here is what it looked like when it came new back in Jan 2007:

Bruce and RB0841

I have since had to replace the bar tape, as southern sweaty rides will wear one out. It looked pretty much the same though when I went for a slightly different look, now that it has over 5,000 road miles on it. Here's how it came out:

More Ram than lamb?Black and blue

I like the black accenting a lot, and the fatter tires are fast yet a lot more comfortable. A number of other Riv owners have made positive comments about it as well. It has new wheels and tires here, bar tape and a black saddle bag. I removed the extra brake levers to give more hand space on the bars, which entailed new cables and housing. It was a fun afternoon, with a good result.
Tonight though, my body told me it needed to RIDE. Yes, it was about 100F. Yes a HOT wind was blowing at 12 with gusts to 18. I decided to go for about an hour and see how it was. As long as I kept my output under control, it was fine. Throwing a few "hot" laps made me VERY tired, and when I finished the 10 laps (around my 1.1 mile block), the body felt well worked out. We'll see if I'm sore tomorrow, but if not, then I'll ride again on Thursday.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

If you can't stand the heat....

Biking during the summer months in the southeast US is going to be a hot affair. You know that going in. While today is technically a day or two away from summer, every kid knows that summer starts when school lets out. That's why it's called "summer vacation," silly. None of that common knowledge helps much when you roll out at 7 AM and it is already 80 degrees and humid. I turned to Tim as we pulled away from the parked cars onto Flowers Rd and said, "Enjoy it. This is the coolest temperature we'll see all day." Truly, if you can't stand the heat, you won't want to cycle in Alabama between May and September.

Alice posts the Club Lite rides. She does spin class during the week, and stays pretty aerobically fit. 15 - 16 mph is her target range for riding. I really, really like Alice, but have to disagree with her characterization of Club Lite as 15 - 16 mph avg. If we were on a rail trail, sure, no problem. We're not though. Our rollers are well known (courtesy of the annual supported club ride, The Glassner Memorial. It's always on Labor Day weekend) for tiring out even legs used to tall climbs.

Today, after about 6 miles, I decided to fall back from the 15 - 18 that this crew of high rollers was cruising at and keep company with Wendell. He stays around 12 - 13, and if I had to deviate from my usual pace of 13 - 15, I wanted it to be on the slower side today, not the faster. We enjoyed a conversational pace as well as well paced conversation, but Wendell opted to cut his ride short and I had to "kick it up a notch" to hang with the other guys.

The day was gorgeous, beyond the steady rise of the temperature. Winds were calm to start and never much of an issue. They provided some cooling action when we rested. Our advance scouts always found us some shade to rest in and I took advantage to re hydrate each time. I have always perspired PROFUSELY from the top of my head, so I feel like I am riding with someone running a hose of warm water on me all the time. A brim cap under the helmet at least diverts the flow away from my eyes, or the salt in my sweat would blind me all the time. Wool has turned out to be best for me, wetness-management-wise. It wicks away a lot of the water, it is still comfortable when wet, and dries odor free. In addition to a wool cap under the helmet today, I wore a sleeveless thin merino shirt. And the Boosuckers once again over wool boxers. It all was pretty comfy. Just pretty wet.

I was reminded on the ride today that if you wear spandex, and have gained a little weight, your modesty will suffer when the sun shines on that tautly stretched fabric across your back side. And it's not a pretty sight, either.  I'm just saying, it's good that baggy shorts never have the same issue.

Since the last ride on it, I swapped wheels and tires out on the Rambouillet. It's now running  (26") Velocity Aeroheat  rims / Phil hubs and 37 mm Panaracer Pasela tires. I very much like the set up. These are the biggest tires the bike can run (well, maybe a 38 would fit in if one were made) and they are smooth, plush and fast. They are also the biggest rubber that the ShimaNO SLR brakes will reach around, although I have some bigger Tektros avail, if the fork were wider. Which it's not.

We came across some black headed vultures at a fresh armadillo road kill and they reluctantly ceded the road way to us as we approached. Flapping to a low roost in a nearby tree, they waited for us to pass by. I chimed the brass bell at them anyway, and they sounded their replies. I thought THAT was pretty cool. I like birds in general, so anything bird related is interesting for me.

As always, it was good to see the crowd on the ride. John C was especially cognizant of my taking a bit more time and water (I drank and sweated 66 oz in just 2 1/4 hrs!) and he was kind enough to make sure I was not dead somewhere along the roadway. Alice assured me that she would direct EMS to my last known location. No, she would have checked on me too. I decided to linger 5 more minutes at the last rest stop and get a few more ounces of water inside, and let my absolutely torrential sweat pour get under control, before heading out again. I was never exhausted or cramping, but wanted to KEEP it that way. I'm glad I took the added few minutes, because as I sit here and clack this entry out, I feel good. Not depleted and beat as happens when over heating occurs.

I ended up with around 34 miles at around 14.45 avg spped. Pretty normal for me, but shy of the posted target zone. None seemed to mind though. Not me either. This is my second club ride while on this attempt at the Dr. Atkins Diet, and I am pleased that energy level is not a problem so far. I used Propel and low cal Vitamin water as fluids and drank about 85 cals worth. Far more calories were expended on the ride, so my daily net carb count was not affected. I am down 7 lbs since last Friday, which I am pleased to report.

Now, I'm looking forward to the beginner ride tomorrow. It may be shortened due to heat, and it will be slower, but it will happen!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Biking in BDUs

I had to learn what the term BDU means, because it post dates my own service in the Armed Forces. When I worked for my Uncle Sam, I wore an all dark green outfit made of cotten sateen with a matching baseball cap. The official name for the color was Olive Green, # 107, and we call the outfit "fatigues." I was usually pretty fatigued any time I worked in them, that's for sure. Scientific advances in camouflage led to the introduction of various patterned schemes which made the wearer harder to notice against the intended background, whether it was trees, shrubs, or desert. The uniform was made of more comfortable and durable fabrics and redesigned with more pocketc and more secure pockets and a better fit that didn't tire you out, just to take a walk in them. These became known as Battle Dress Uniforms, or BDUs. They come in varieties by branch of service and by theater of usae, but they are alike enough to be recognized as a family.

Cycling apparrel has similarly changed over the years and varies by type of riding and the morphology of the rider. On today's ride a discussion of how effective a bright tail light on a bike is, as far as alerting vehicle drivers to our presence goes, digressed into a discussion of how one's jersey selection helps or hinders the same visibility. Is a light any more visible than a bright yellow shirt, for instance? Wendell looked like a day glo golf ball in one of those yellow jerseys in fact. Joe has the ultra bright Dinotte taillight. We compared the two.
140R-AA-R Taillight You can see this from at least 1/2 mile back in daylight, and a mile a night. We judged Wendell and Joe a toss up in the day, but nodded to Joe for the night time look. This light is not cheap, but it does work. Bilee was our first rider to sport one and we called it her butt laser, as she mounted it immediately under her seat, not down on the post as shown here.

John R then noted, "And then there's Bruce, who dresses in BDUs for a bike ride." I think he meant that my dark green (OG107!) woolistic jersey and butternut shorts looked right out of an Army recruiting flysheet. Dark brown wool cycling cap and black wool socks enhanced my stealthiness, I suppose. But I enjoy old fashioned stuff. The pens I collect are mostly vintage, the bikes I ride are lugged steel, and the skinniest tire you'll find on any of them is 32 mm. (Modern road bikes run 23 - 25 mm as a rule) Today, I ran 34 mm tires in fact. Neither the outfit nor the bikes affect my rding much, except to make it more comfortable than I used to be, when I rode and dressed pretty much like everyone else still does. You might say that I've taken the road less travelled, that's all.

The ride itself was very nice. John R, John C and Jim agreed to go around 36 - 40 miles with a store stop along the way. No copperhead nipping at our heels today, but Tim came across another turtle 1/2 way across the road. He dismounted and moved to the side which had a pond nearby. This may or may not be the side of the road that the turtle was trying to reach. Of course, this may have been the same turtle from a few weeks ago, who is wondering, "When is that human going to let me get ACROSS this street and find a mate?"  Speaking of mates, Jim headed off to find the men's tree at one of our stops, and John R ran after him calling, "hey will you hold my bike?"  Where's Bill when you need him for anything? He's the designated bike holder. Anyway, after Jim and John came back from the woods together, we were sure asking them some tough questions.

We took turns in the lead and made a nice pace, without killing ourselves. This despite some headwinds that picked up in the last 15 miles due to the storm front approaching. The cylcometer tallied 38.3 miles at 15.4 avg speed, which is above my average, so it's a wonder that I am even functiional this afternoon. We pulled back into the parking lot literally minutes before raindrops began to fall, and we are all pleased on that score. No one fell, no one flatted, and no one found any dangerous wildlife. Pretty good stuff.

Next week is Father's Day. How about celebrating with a bike ride?


Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Klondike Gold Rush

In 1897, gold was discovered near Dawson City in the Yukon territory, and hopeful adventurers stampeded north to try and make some of 12.5 million ounces mined in the area since then their own. Almost as valuable as gold after a hot bike ride a couple of hours long is a frozen cold square of chocolate covered ice cream. Yes, the John Hall Store now has Klondike Bars!

  I got one after today's ride and when it was spotted by the other riders who were stowing bikes and engaging in after-ride chit chat, there was a stampede to rival that of the Yukon! I think the bike club cleaned out the store's supply today.

The ride itself was pretty darn good. We had a big turn out and broke down into about 3 sub sections going various lengths. Michelle called in 30 mins prior to start time to ask where we where. No one else had showed up where she was in Pintlala. That made sense, since we were in Cecil, at the John Hall Store. She said to start without her, and she'd catch up. We pulled out at 8:00, and she did in fact find us not 10 miles out. Pedalling along at 22, she overtook us quite handily, as Club Lite is advertised in the 14 - 16 range average speed. She pulled up just as Michael and I were helping Jim with a flat tire. I already had a pump out, but Michelle was THRILLED to offer us her CO2 gizmo. Readers with good memories will recall the LAST time Michelle tried to use her CO2 inflator. By way of compromise, Jim pumped up the tire workably firm, and then topped it off with CO2. I think HE recalled the story of the earlier CO2 event. His tire was good for the rest of the ride though so all was well.

Before we reached the flat tire point, we had our nature encounter for the day. Peggy screamed louder than I have ever heard her, someting that sounded like, "ssssssssnnnnAAAKKKKEEE!"  or similar. I was looking all around and saw nothing. Then looking down, I had to move quickly to my left to avoid running over said snake. It was a copperhead, which you hardly ever see, and the snake thought my fully lugged bike was pretty cool too. At least to judge from the other rider's comments. "Did you see that snake reach up to get his foot?" Uh, how high was he guys?  They said he missed me by 4". At least.

We alerted an oncoming jogger (iPod equipped) to look DOWN as well.

Today was the initial ride in new "Boosucker" shorts.

 I kid you not. With a name like that I had to get a pair. A bamboo/poly blend in a seersucker weave. They are super comfy both on and off the bike. No chamois (but then I rarely wear one anyway) and they look good, and not like bike shorts. Except for the reflective tape on the back of the leg hems. Well, hopefully that'll draw an admiring glance once in a while, eh?
If you have boosucker envy, you get 'em at After the ride, I mowed the yard in them and they were just as great. No bunching or dragging on you when wet. Here's an action shot:

I know. It looks more like a brie and Bordeaux ride than a sweat producing effort. I can only say that they feel better than I look in them.

We did Michelle's favorite route which includes Highlog rd. The Johns were speculating that recent rains would leave a treacherous muddy path to manage on Highlog, but those of us who went there found only a short stretch of packed sand and the usual coarse asphalt. It was really a fun section and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

After the Fitzpatrick store stop, we turned and did the 12 miles to home. I finished dead last, and a show of hands for who is surprised at that, but since I averaged 15.48 mph (32 miles all told +/-) on a LITE ride, I am quite content. Michael even asked me if I'd fed the squirrels something extra today.

It was a good ride in that there was time and opportunity to catch up with a number of people. I told Tim how much I am enjoying his book on the Mexican Revolution. He and his wife are going to Nashville this Summer. I knew they are musicians, but did not know she is a songwriter too. Chatted a lot with Michael. He and Julie have found a place near her next duty station, but they wouldn't mind coming back and riding again with us. That may happen if she comes back to the Air College when next promotion time comes up. Michelle and I kicked around business, politics and religion. And the interaction of those 3. I like her new car too. Kathy talked about some friends coming to visit, and Peggy was going to study up some on snakes.

The weather was so nice. Temps stayed in the 60s and 70s, the sun was out and the winds were light or calm. All the dogs obeyed the bell. Mark this one down as one to remember in the hot hot days of August.

There is a beginner ride scheduled in a couple of weeks on 6/21. A heretofore non riding, but dues paying member (Sharon) of the club is planning to come out. A few of her friends are thinking about it too. I'm sorry we have to wait 2 weeks to get to it, but she's out of town from now until then. Her new Trek Pure Lowstep came in yesterday, and has seen some around the block trial action.

You'll notice that the seatpost is placed well back of the bottom bracket. That allows a very low seat height, but maintains good pedal efficiency. The seat is like an easy chair. The tires are 47s, but use high pressure and fast tread. Not designed for aero rider position, but at speeds of up to about 15 mph, that won't matter.

More details and pics after we ride.


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