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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Just Another Ordinary Day

Another nice morning to be on a bicycle under blue skies in Alabama! Turn out was lighter today than last week, although we had two new faces. Rich (who actually rode last week along with Bob of new leather saddle fame, but who I drew a total blank on) and Mitchell (who I exchanged emails with during the week) joined us, and we were glad they did. Rich is fit in the way I wish I was at some point in my life, but never made it. He has the kind of build that adapts to just about any athletic undertaking. (But can he hit my curveball? Maybe that's where I'll have him! Oh wait, can I still THROW a curveball?) Rich came out on his Colnago Sprint (lovely, lightweight fully lugged steel frame circa 1982) which he has set up as a single speed with a White Industries hubset. BikeSnobNYC might give him a pass, although he flirts with danger, running purple spoke nipples in back and gold ones in front. The next thing you know, he'll be wheeling around on one of these:

You can take the different color wheels idea too far, IMO.

Mitchell is a runner currently nursing a back injury, so cycling provides that cardio outlet he still needs. He had not gone this far before, having JUST gotten a bike (Trek 2.1 I think) and been on all of 2 prior local rides, but he was fine. His bike came with that option that I can't purchase at any price: young legs. Both guys live in Prattville, so there is no reason why we can't tool around town together. Or they can tool, and I'll bring up the rear. I asked Rich where he lived, and replied "A subdivision called Highland Ridge." Uh, so do I. It doesn't get more convenient than that!

Tim started with us, but was riding farther and faster, and when Rick's Riders came by on their century, he hitched his caboose to their train. We all chatted briefly at Mt. Carmel church, we on a rest break and they just pausing to say hello. Jim and I were the 'experienced" 1/2 of the squad. If we had been smarter, we would have used that experience to hook some bungee cords on the young guys bikes and worked less. We did the 36 mile Pintlala Option route on MapMyRide which has a blend of flat and rollers and enough diverse scenery to make it interesting. No snakes on our ride, but Richard J reports his group encountered a copperhead. Peggy nearly ran over one in a prior post here. No dogs for us either. We stopped at the US 331 antiques store and purchased drinks and snacks, which they also sell. I inquired about fountain pens, but none were to be had. Not surprising, I almost never find them in antique places. No pocket knives either.

We ended our jaunt with 36.5 miles and averaged 14.95. It was a good workout. Looking forward to a relaxer ride tomorrow!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bonnie and Lola break new ground.

"Ello ellay Lola!" Isn't that how the song by the Kinks goes? Then there's the classic from Damn Yankees, "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets" too. Lola wanted a flat ride for her 1st club outing and she got it. Today was Lola's debut, with rider Sharon on board. Lola is a crank forward design TREK Pure. It was also the first club ride for Joanna's new bike, a TREK 1.2 that she has named Bonnie for her good looks. We had 10 riders all told for the usual Sunday afternoon relaxer/beginner ride. Michelle and her son Phillip joined us, as did John and Frank, both of whom pedaled to the park meeting place from their respective homes. New rider to the group Jamie also came down to join us from his nearby home, but from the look of him he is far from new to riding. Hope to catch some hills with him soon. Clarence made a for a 3rd newish rider on a new to him bike. He started with a comfort bike recently but has now upgraded to a TREK 5200. John helped him with a seat height adjustment in the parking lot, using the old PBH x 0.883 formula. That is what I use too. Clarence and Jo are both still practicing that clip out thing. Jo's spilled a few times this week, and so has Clarence. To show us how he does it, Clarence fell over after clipping out on the wrong side at the END of the ride today. He landed in pine straw, and seemed none the worse for wear. To be honest, I don't miss cleats one bit. I took them off a year or so ago and seem to ride just the same.

Here's the happy troupe with nattily knickered Frank the Crank on "Col. Mustard" (a custom, S&S Coupled, Bilenky) leading the way:

The new bikes (Bonnie & Lola) are on the right of the picture below

I rode Mark, my Nashbar steel frame from the 80s, and I have to say, it's not as pretty with its current set up as it used to be, but it rides GREAT. Those "awful" 700D wheels I got from Jeff have finally found a home. The Conti Touring tires on them are really really nice and the wheels roll smoothly. After our 10 miles of 10 - 12 mph, several folks took a brisker turn up the Cobbs Ford Rd hill to add some more saddle time. The beginners all made it, no sweat, and I'm sure will see Bonnie and Lola again soon. I'm loving this weather too. 80s is so much better as a temperature range than 90s. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weather Rewind

After an unrelenting hot couple of weeks, with temps dancing close to the 100F mark, today featured ride time in the 70s and 80s, with low humidity. What a great day to ride. Understandably, there was a high turnout at Pintlala Baptist and the crowd separated out into groups based on speed and distance. The 2 Johns, Jim and I ended up with a hair under 40 miles, doing one of the variants of the loop down to Ramer and back. The scenery has been pictured before, as have my riding buddies, so I didn't shoot any new pics.

I rode Louise, on freshly pumped up tires and she still fits like a glove. I am thinking that I need a smaller cog on that freewheel. If nothing suits in my inventory, I'll have to order something. Gee, what torture to have to order bike stuff! :) There are a few other neat little gadgets I want, so maybe I'll qualify for free shipping somewhere. We'll see.

It was a relief to find that I had legs today. The last couple of rides have been iffy, energy wise, due to my low carb diet. Today was just a regular ride, and I am very appreciative of that. I had a Banana en route, and mixed some Powerade 50/50 with water down at the Ramer store, but those carbs were burned off long before I made it back to the parking lot. I ended up with 14.54 avg speed, which is close to the top end of my 13 - 15 often advertised pace.

Bob, who was with us at the beginning of the ride has a good report for the recent Selle AnAtomica saddle he bought following my suggestion. There are places it pays to save weight, if you want to be quicker, but your saddle isn't one of them. A comfortable saddle allows to to pedal with power more efficiently and keeps you from using your arms and shoulders (wasting energy too) to unload some pressure.

There was only limited animal interest on the ride today. Some friendly puppies greeted us at a pause under a shady tree, but when one jumped up to lavish affection on Jim, his claws cut Jim's arm, which bled quite a bit for a while. yes, Jim IS a red blooded American. we have proof now.
Later, a donkey we passed brayed louder than I'd ever heard before. We don't know what he was saying, but he meant it.

Tomorrow will be another beginner/lite ride. With the nice weather, we may have a decent showing.

Be careful out there on the roads people.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Looking for my legs again

After last week's embarrassing ride, where I ran out of gas with 20 miles left to go, and had to walk up TWO hills, I decided to eschew the club ride scene and go it solo today. It would have had to be a later ride anyway, as I spent the morning as a bike course volunteer for the Kid's Triathlon at the Bell St Y. Btw, watching kids spin furiously by on trials bikes

, or lumber along on monster truck tired all terrain cycles

 was quite something. I offered to do a little talk next year on how the kids could get the bike they owned as prepared as possible to give them their best time. At least 50% of the bikes needed only a saddle height adjustment and more air in the tires, or gosh, some cheap skinny tires for race day.

Anyway, with the change of regime at Club Lite, the pace is a tad quicker than it used to be. I was in a comfy 13 - 15 (14.1 IS my average) mph groove, but the group stays up near 16 these days. Funny how just 1 or 2 mph matters. In 15 minutes, you've been dropped by 1/2 a mile, and you unconsciously work to get back up, and it tires me more than I care for. Yes, some of this is due to my current low carb diet, but some of it is just due to not having a great engine under the hood. It runs on both sides of my family, so it's just something to be dealt with. What might be best is just to post to see if anyone wants to do a "touring pace" (12 - 15 mph) ride of the same mileage as Club Lite, or even more. Perhaps others wish for something more in common time than the alla breve that the group does now. The promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition, not the Brandenburg Concertos if you know what I mean.

After last Saturday, I started to wonder if I could climb ANYTHING anymore, so today I went and did a longer version of my old standby ride around town. It was also a chance for the first ride on a recently received saddle (Selle An Atomica, laced)
I threw in Deer Trace with its short "wall" as well as some added miles elsewhere along the route. It was good to find that in all cases, I was able to pedal up the climbs and never felt particularly in distress. It was pretty warm out, and I did not charge up the hills at full bore, but never ran out of gas, nor felt any pains in my chest, etc. I least I fell that I rely on my legs to get me there.

The new saddle is pretty comfy for starters, but needs breaking in. It looks nice on the bike, almost a dead match for the color of the handlebar tape. I took off the canvas saddle bag this week and hand washed it in the sink, along with another one, and they came out very well. I have to re wax the cotton though if I want it to be water proof. I'm not sure that I care.

Sunday afternoon relaxer ride tomorrow. Clarence went and upgraded his ride from a rail trail machine to same year Trek 5200 that Becky bought out in Covington. I told him I'd help him dial in his fit, but he looked pretty good on it today at the Y (he was riding with the kids as a volunteer) I'll still be on something that I can pedal in sandals :)


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!

There was no chance to do the "Memorial Day Marbury Ride" on Memorial Day this year, but I did set out on its close cousin, a ride through Marbury and Alpha Springs today. It's been a while since I last trudged up the 10% - 13% grades in that neck of the woods, and I wanted to see how a ride like that, on the Atkins Diet, could go.  Yesterday, a fine time was had in Cecil with Mary and Peggy, and it was no trouble at all running in the upper end of my usual pace (13 - 15 mph). I averaged 14.6 over a course of rollers. (I finally took that oddball GT Bikes 587 size wheelsest from Jeff out for a real ride, using some Continental 590s that would stay on, if not pumped up to full pressure. The bike ran great and I love the tires) For that ride, I added about 10g of carbs the night before. For today, I added 12g, figuring that 10 seemed to be a good number. Uh, no.

The whole diet thing was kicked off by Michael who surreptitiously shot a picture of me from behind, the day I  first wore the BooSucker shorts. All I could think of was, "Look at my huge buttage!"  It was awful! So a month ago I decided that less junk in my trunk would equate to better hill climbing speed. I was 171 then (a lot for a guy not quite 5' - 6") and am 157 now (about 1/2 way there). The thing is, while Atkins works well for me weight wise (and blood sugar wise, since I have had to deal with high a1c -diabetic- values in the past) it is not a way to put gas in the tank when your muscles need instant energy. Today, I was really hurting by about mile 20, so when we stopped at "Bubba's" (Faithful readers will remember Bubba. He drives a diesel tow truck, missing a door, and its horn plays the Confederate battle charge.  Mrs. Bubba has always been nice to us though. She runs the cash register.)  I picked up TWO Kellogg Nutri Grain bars. TWO with 25 g of carb EACH. Surely 50g of carbs would recharge my dying lower members. Sadly, this was not the case. The second half of the ride was a painful slog, and S-L-O-W up them hills. For the two steepest ones, I actually dismounted and walked the upper 1/2s of. I mean, It was about the same pace as I was RIDING at anyway. Sheesh.

The ride itself was great. Beautiful weather, with temps under 90 the whole time through, quiet roads and lovely scenery. Bob cancelled, Frank and Michelle showed, and we were off at "touring pace." About 2 miles out, a pack of dogs harassed us and a mini van pulled up and slowed. The van then went around us, and passing us, tried its best to lay down a patch of rubber. This is a mini van, remember. Frank turned to us and said, "Did you SEE the look that woman shot at me? If looks could kill, I'd be dead." I said, that I hoped she would leave Frank and take out some of the dogs, personally. A half mile later, the min van is heading back our way! "Uh oh." Is she packing heat? Is she going to lecture us that cyclists do not belong on the roads? NO!! The window rolls down and reveals TIM, who wanted to know, A) Why we left before 7 AM (He waited at the wrong school and finally figured that out, then hot footed it over to where we started from) and B) Why we didn't wait for him since he told Frank he was coming! I don't know about all that, but as a woman, he is not at all fetching. I think Frank needs work on his identification skills.

So we gave Tim a nearby location to park at and he met us just 2 miles out from the start and was excellent company all the rest of the way. We yakked about tires and bottom brackets, and optimal crank arm lengths and all the stuff that bike nerds like and no one else does. Michelle, as usual, was an elegant (in her new Castelli get up) figure in the far distance.  This after telling us how concerned she was about being able to climb the hills. Michelle, you did fine. We were all able to stay pretty close together through the 1st half of our trip but when I hit the wall at mile 20, Michelle and Tim cruised on ahead, while Frank circled back and chit chatted with me. To make sure I wasn't delerious, I think.

Even on the second half of the trip, the flat sections weren't bad, but there was very little flat to be had. The bulk of the climbing is in the second part of the route. Along Hwy 143, south of Marbury, a large hawk came out of a low tree or off the ground and passed very close to Frank. It happened too quickly to get a camera out. Exciting, anyway. CR 20 out of Old Kingston up to White City is freshly paved and a delight to ride on. 20 into Marbury is as coarse as ever.

We tallied 44 1/2 at the end, and I think about 2,600 total feet of up and down. Maybe Frank has it GPS'd and can let me know. So today was below the low end for me avg pace wise, only around  12.5 (the walking part really hurts one's average)
but that's not an unreasonable 'touring pace'. (yeah, whatever works, Bruce)  And I have a better idea of how to prepare for the next time I feel like dragging less adipose tissue up hills.

Happy 4th to everyone, I am off to friends to enjoy the afternoon!


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