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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Glassner Century Workers Ride

Our bike club annual supported century ride is coming up on Labor Day weekend, so the organizers did a mini version for the ride volunteers this weekend. We rode the same routes with the cue sheets, and were regaled with fresh beverages and provender at the actual rest stop locations. There were two groups, with the quicker pace people opting for the 54 mile route which is new this year and 4 of us going slower and thinking about 54 or 62 miles. We'd make up our minds as we got closer to the split off point. I helped map out the 54 mile version. It's one of my favorites to ride on a Saturday morning. I designed it as 51 miles, to make it easier for people than the 62 (which actually measures 64), but it was stretched just a little to connect to existing rest stops.

We hit the road at 7 AM and it was pleasantly cool, but very foggy and humid. Moisture was condensing on my skin and bike. My glasses were so fogged up, they were useless. I rode for a while with them down on my nose, peering over them. With a field of view limited by the cap visor above and the opaque lenses below, I felt like a medieval knight in a helmet, looking through the eye slit. After about 10 miles, I just took the glasses off and put them in a back pocket. It was amazing how much more comfortable I was without them, and I saw well enough to enjoy the ride thoroughly.

Here's a picture of a wet dog:Wet Dog by you.

This was taken at Rest Stop #1. The fog had JUST lifted and the sun was peeking out. Here is a picture of the rig and the rider. I am starting to tweak the set up on the Saluki in preparation for a multi day solo ride across TN along the Mississippi River Trail. The picture shows another wet dog. This one is wet from sweat too in addition to the dew.
Going by you.

Generally, it was pretty comfy, although after the ride, I rotated the handlebars upwards about 10 degrees. The Grip King pedals were very provided a good base for my feet, the Grand Bois Ourson tires rolled well over the chip seal and other poorer pavement portions of the ride, while staying reasonably plush and not too slow on the better pavement. I felt good in wool jersey, shorts, and socks.

Michelle and Charles supplied water and Gatorade, along with bananas, breakfast bars, and peanut butter and jelly "tacos." There were fresh grapes as well. We really didn't need anything else. After leaving Rest Stop 1, I noticed that Peggy's rear wheel was a-kilter in her frame. A loosened quick release was allowing the chain side to move forward, pushing the other side toward the chain stay. We stopped and I fixed it. She later let us know that she also had brake rub from a mis adjusted brake caliper, which we did not check for. She thought her legs were just weak. :) I've done the same thing myself before. Peggy decided to turn back to the cars, and Alice went with her. That left just Jim and I of the original group.

At rest stop 2, Jim announced that he was definitely going for 54 miles, not 64. I wanted 64, and Michelle and Charles would have gone out to Rest Stop 3 to support me, but it was silly to make them do that for just 1 rider. I changed my mind and stayed with Jim. The support car rode out in front of us, but we told them they were not needed, and they headed back to the parking lot to set up lunch. Jim had a sudden energy burst and disappeared over the hills in front of me, I never saw him again on the ride. It was fine being alone and I just settled into my "all day" pace and turned the cranks. When I am out on the road touring, slow and steady will be the rule of the day. When the sun got too strong, I pulled over and took 5 in teh shade. No worries. Because I'll be riding TN in October, I'll probably bring a wider than normal assortment of stuff to wear. The temps may change a lot. A trial fit shows that a rear rack with a pair of panniers a saddle bag for misc and a small front rack bag are are than adequate. All the clothes I intend to bring total only 5 lbs, but there will be some other stuff adding another 5 lbs or so. The list may change as weather forecasts for the tour duration become reliable. I won't be camping, but I do want to change into street clothes at night before going to dinner.

Anyway, I trailed the others by a little bit but made it back before lunch was all gone. Phillip provided portobello mushroom sandwiches which were excellent. There was a pasta salad which I did not try, and beverages too. It was nice to sit in the shade and chat while we ate. The ride came out to 55.5 miles at 14.2 mph avg, which is pretty usual for me. On a fatter tired, heavier bike, over rolling hills, it was fine.

I'm looking forward to working SAG next Saturday, and riding myself on Friday and Monday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dothan Tri States 100

Yesterday was the 7th annual ride for the Children's Miracle Network, down in far Lower Alabama ("L.A."). I missed last year, but have ridden the others. I went out for the century course once, but otherwise do the metric. The longer ride takes you through snippets of GA and FL as well as AL. The metric gets just 2 states, while the shorter, out and back ride stays home, so to speak. This year, Frank and I carpooled down on Friday afternoon and stayed at the Best Western. Frank loves food. In a gourmet way, not a gourmand one. He recently went to visit family where he was surrounded by people who love to cook. A match made in Heaven, I'd say. We didn't have a lot of great dinner choices in Dothan, but Olive Garden filled the bill. I dropped off the Atkins plan to fill up on pre ride carbs. Steak Gorgonzola - Alfredo. Thanks to the online nutrition info, I can calculate a meal of about 1,520 cals and 104 net carbs (toss in a breadstick and a sliver of Frank's Caprese flatbread). This was followed up in the morning with breakfast at Waffle House (IHOP wouldn't open for a while and we wanted to eat and get going) I scaled back some, and the carbs were limited to hash browns with a couple of eggs. Frank was still in carb up mode, and had a couple of the waffles. As a button wearing member of the Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen, my big need was coffee! Anyway, add another 25 - 30 carbs for the hashbrowns. Keep in mind that my normal intake is about 25 carbs per day and around 1,800 cals. I looked at this like an "experiment." How would this affect my overall diet program? Would a half a day of cycling erase all that carbohydrate?

We checked in for the ride and unpacked our bikes. It was a very rainy drive down and a 50% chance of rain during the event, so I packed a rain jacket in the saddle bag along with a helmet cover, and rode with the saddle bonnet on over the leather seat. That precaution of course insured that there was not a drop of rain. Even when it would have been appreciated to bring some relief from the beating Sun and high temperatures.

There was a good turn out for the ride and while I don't know the count yet, I bet it is their best showing to date. The Pecan City Pedalers sent a 20 rider contingent from Albany GA. (I'm planning on doing their century in a few weeks) My buddy John from Montgomery came down, as did Paul from Clanton. Other than that we saw no one we knew by name, but we did see familiar faces  from other rides in the parking area. Frank met some Polish people and was able to practice his USAF Polish translation skills. He either complimented the guy on his bike, or told him where the bathroom was, I'm not sure. They reverted to English quickly. The mayor of Dothan thanked us for coming and asked everyone to enjoy a post ride meal somewhere in town and help the local economy.

Plenty of snazzy race team kits and hot bikes of course. The currently viral video, "Performance" by MC Spandex  ( came immediately to mind. Frank took off to do the 100, while John and I let the teeming masses stream by and then headed out to ride the "metric." The morning was cool enough, but vey humid and our all day pain in the neck - GNATS - were abundant. I took the '79 Nashbar/Maruishi crit bike, which is now a 650B with mustache bars down for the ride. It's never been out for a long ride, and it just received new wheels. I built a set from ebay rims (Synergy) and some NOS D-A Uniglide hubs that had been waiting for an opportunity in the parts box for some time. Uniglide was Shimano's early freehub design from 1982 - 1989 or so. The cassettes (if you can find them) will fit on today's Hyperglide hubs, but not vice versa. You still need a Hyperglide lockring if using that hub as well. The course has some smooth pavement (especially the FL portion) but is generally rough chipseal. The 32 mm tires and steel frame were excellent over that surface. I enjoyed the handlebars for about 40 miles, after which my wrists were uncomfortable. I'll leave the mustache set up alone (I really like the looks) but not plan on them for longer rides. Drop bars are certainly the way to go if you are doing a lot of miles. I also left the saddle bonnet on, and while it took away a little from the comfort of a well broken in seat, it wasn't too bad.

The course was well marked and the 3 rest stops were staffed by very friendly people. They were better supplied than in years past, that's for sure. They are still not at the level of our own Montgomery club century, or what I expect to see in Albany, but they were more than adequate. One of the stops had HEED (Hammer Nutrition beverage) which I tried for the 1st time. It was far superior to Gator Ade, which I can't stand. Actually, I brought my own packets of Propel, which I mixed with water at the rest stop.  There were some sample packets of Hammer gel to try. I liked the vanilla! I also tried Hammer electrolyte capsules and didn't think they helped me one iota. I'll pass on all that stuff next time. Rest stop spacing is still a problem on this ride. The 1st stop is 22 miles out. That's fine for better riders, but too far for the kind of average folks the organizers looked for to come out and support the cause. Then the next stop is only 13 miles after that. The 3rd stop is 21 miles away again, and then only 10 miles to the finish. The interval between 2 and 3 was an issue for me, as it was very hot and humid and I ran through 2 bottles of water and was tired and thirsty 6 miles from the stop. John graciously shared some of his water with me, and that worked out. Obviously, they could try to take 4 miles off the long ones and add to the shorter ones.

I saw a familiar face at a rest stop. I asked him if he usually wore a US Military Academy jersey. He replied that he did. "Is your name Mark?" I asked. "No, Scott." was the answer. "I get that wrong every time, don't I?" I asked. He said that yes, I did, but he couldn't remember my name either. "Where's the beard?" He asked me. "That's been gone for several years." Anyway, I've ridden with Scott in this event as well as several others over the years. He lives in Panama City and often comes out with his wife. She didn't make it this time, but she's still riding. Scott did recall that I can be found on old school steel frame bikes though. Scott and I were both doing the ride sock-less in sandals today, which was kind of cool. Literally :) I was the only one in a wool jersey and seersucker shorts though. The jersey was an eBay Kucharik and it developed a hole in the back, so I tossed it afterward. It was too large an opening to mend. Swobo and Joneswares definately make better quality stuff than Kucharik or Ibex, for those who care. And Swobo is the better of those two.

The route offered little shade and the sun got pretty strong as it climbed. John and I reeled in a number of riders who jumped out to fast starts but who were wilting or cramping. Frank says that a significant number of century riders had to be sagged in, due to heat and dehydration. I felt the same way between miles 45 - 56, but managed to deal with it. I had a toe cramp, sole of the foot cramp and a thigh (sartorius) cramp at different times. By drinking and relaxing as I pedaled each time, they went away. The thigh cramp forced me to take the hills more easily than I otherwise could have, but did not affect flat speeds at all. Iron man John had no issues of any kind. I don't think his jersey was even damp. It WAS optic orange though. You could see him from 2 miles away. John noticed the only unusual sight of the day too. I completely missed it. A man was in his driveway with a PUMA on a leash. You know, the large cat. I don't know if my dog deterrent bell would deter a charging great cat, so I'm pleased not have had to find out.

We started the ride at 7:30 sharp and we rolled back in to the cars at 12:30. So 5 hours including all 3 rest stops. We logged 66 1/2 miles and averaged 14.6. That's in my normal range and probably a tad high for this distance and the 15 mph headwind we took turns pulling into for much of the way back. Cyclists will understand; the air is fairly calm early, so we had some tailwind on the outbound portion, but the winds pick up as the sun moves higher in the sky and the headwinds were stronger on the return. The course was not especially hilly. Maybe 1,100' total? MapMyRide says 650' +/-, but it misses all the little intermediate steps. Still, not more than our 20 mile Prattville loops can offer. We stretched out and rested while we waited for Frank. I told John that I figured to see him at 2:30, having ridden many miles with him before. Sure enough, I pointed to my watch to show John 2:26 PM as we saw Frank pull up to the check in area. He changed clothes quickly and we followed the mayor's advice by stopping in to Chili's for lunch. I was still too tired and hot to eat a lot, so I had a chicken Caesar salad. (LOW CARB!) while Frank filled the rest of the table with a huge steak, beans and rice, lemons and soup. John made himself fajitas or some such so he was between us in hunger I suppose. It was a good lunch and a good time. We said our goodbyes and headed home to Montgomery.

I weighed exactly the same after arriving home as I had the day before, so the great gorge out did not pile on the pounds. Next weekend is the club century "workers ride" so I'll do that metric on Atkins and compare how I feel. Depending on the results, I'll know which way to go food wise when I go over to Albany and ride their 100 mile route.

Beginner ride today! and NO GNATS!!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

August is upon us

We're still riding from Pintlala this month.  With the club's annual century ride there in a few weeks, we like to create a strong presence in the minds of local drivers, so that they are accustomed to seeing cyclists out and about. We also look for any road hazards that need marking prior to turning 300 or so of our closest pals loose on the course. Today we rode the 36 mile route that I put on MapMyRide some months back. It has something for everyone and you can get a nice workout riding it. The faster group left 30 mins prior to us, and we didn't see them until the very end of our ride as they passed us in the final 2 miles on their way back in. They were indeed cooking along. Our ride started out too briskly for me, but after I got all my perkiness out, I settled down and just enjoyed the ride. The others were quicker, but we re connected a number of times along the way. I always ride 13 - 15 mph avg, and today ended up with 36+ miles at 14.2 mph. Very normal for me.

The air was calm today, and as humid as it is, a breeze would have actually been a plus. Except for when Michelle tried to figure out how her new pepper spray worked. With the recent emails to the list on unruly dogs causing or nearly causing accidents, she went out and got equipped. She was telling me about it and happened to mention that they sold 2 types, a mist and a spray, and she got the spray, but she wasn't sure how it worked. I reminded her of the time that she pulled out a never-used-before CO2 kit and instead of filling her tire, she froze the grass. Here she is "showing" me the pepper spray.

Uhh, Michelle, could you NOT point that thing my way?  So, she goes off to the side and undoes the safety and shoots it. It's a MIST, and I'm thinking, "please Lord, NO wind!!"   We did get a few dogs later, but I don;t think the spray came out. I was trailing the other riders by then (so what else is new?) and just pedaled hard right AT the dogs, growling at them. They could tell I was ready to sacrifice my body in order to put a hurting on them, and they ran away! At least that's how I choose to remember the story.

We took a rest at Mt. Carmel church and then proceeded on to the antiques store in Sellers on 331. It backs up to Boyd Springs Rd, so you can miss it (as Tim did in fact, last time we rode here) if you are not paying attention. The store has a pair of coolers and we cleaned them out of Gatorade. They also have indoor plumbing, which is handy when you need it.

In addition to Michelle, here are Peggy, Jim and new rider Anthony. College Professor Tim is smart enough NOT to stand in the Sun on a hot day. He extended the same courtesy to another turtle, stuck out on the roadway. As before, he stopped, dismounted and carried the critter to the grass shoulder. I never know if it's the side which the animal was hoping to be on or not..

and here's a close up of Anthony

So there you have it. I took the mustache handlebar bike today and it was very comfy with 37 mm Contis on and did not affect my pace in the slightest.  Looking forward to a casual ride tomorrow if the weather holds.


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