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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanks for Thanksgiving

The waning sunlight on Sunday afternoon reminds me that Thanksgiving weekend is drawing to a close. It's been a good one, and in addition to all the things I have been thankful for and which I mused upon at this time of the year, I am thankful for having this long weekend. Each of the days has brought some mixture of adventure and/or pleasure. Really, we kicked it off on Weds night with a family dinner to a) note our 33rd anniversary and b) pick up our previously ordered complete all courses included Turkey dinner to go. As Sharon noted on FaceBook, "Dinner for 3 at Mimi's, $50. Having your 21 year old son offer to pick up the tab, priceless."

Thursday morning, 4 of us braved to 30s temps and rode the hilly loop around our little town. It was a great workout and fun to be out. Friday, I got to ride a longer hillier ride further out in the country with one other rider, and yesterday, it was the relaxed club lite ride (although hillier than I recalled from prior excursions there) with a different riding partner. All started out in the 30s and ended in the 50s. Wool worked well each time. As nice as it has been today (20 deg warmer than Weds!) I just haven't been in the mood to ride, other than a spin in the neighborhood.

We dog-sat for a family we know from church for two of the days. Abby is an ancient, shaky, graying wiener dog who waddles as she bounces through the grass. Hard of hearing, and possibly of thinking, the only parts of her that I know work are her teeth (she buried 3 of them in my finger) her nose (she can find anything in a trash can) and those parts of her that require cleanup when used indoors. I was not unhappy to see her go, but understand how it is with dogs when they are in a strange place.

Alex and his pal Steven hankered for a ham (had all the turkey they could stomach?) so they went to the store and came back asking how to make it. Suffice it to say that our refrigerators are full of left overs.

Jeff came over yesterday afternoon and we covered the bases I love so much: sincere coffee, bicycles, and pens. I made a pot of French Roast, we looked at my bikes and talked wheels and tires, and he showed me his newest toy, a Bianchi Pista. He left it with me to play with. Today, I PUT ON A HELMET and tried a fixie for the first time. Then I went back and re read Sheldon on fixes. I think I'll try it again. I'm eager to get trackstanding down :) This bike is geared 42/16 which is fine for flats but a bit rugged for climbing. Maybe I just need to practice. Next Jeff played with some fountain pens. He liked a '48 Parker model 51 vac Demi. I like his taste. It's about the perfect size and balance. This particular example is in near new condition too. Most of my preferred inked writers are about the same size, whether made by Parker, Pelikan, Sheaffer, etc.

Alex and I hung lights on our house yesterday and got all the decorations down from the attic. Usually Alex (with his youth and cat like agility) does all the high work and I stay down low. Yesterday though, he was sliding more than he was comfortable with, so we exchanges places and I finished the roof work. The Keen shoes I reviewed recently give really good grip on steep pitch roof shingles.

Yesterday afternoon we also gave away our 9' tall fake tree because it is too large to a family who had a use for it. Later, we shopped at several stores for a better sized replacement but saw nothing that was satisfactory. Oh, and I watched most of the Auburn/Alabama game as well.

Sunday school (5th Commandment) and church were good today. I enjoy preparing the lessons, and our class has well read and thoughtful people who add a lot to the discussion. Alex decided that it probably was a good thing TODAY that he got up when I roused him, and came to church with us. Our guest preacher spoke on making a deliberate turn aside from our intended paths to inquire about God. His text was the story of Moses going to investigate the burning bush.

So now I need to look over some papers, make sure I've cleaned all the pens that Jeff dipped, and get mentally ready to get back to work. And in 15 more miles, I'll get 3,000 for the year (outdoor miles only counted) Very good weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off with their heads!

Or, more accurately, "let's change their heads."  My other hobby besides cycling, as some readers may recall, is the collecting and restoration of fountain pens. As with bikes, I also like to see if parts play well together when mixed and matched in ways unintended by the manufacturers. This involves different combinations of parts, mostly nibs, feeds and sections, to achieve what is to me the most satisfying combination for the writing experience. Ball pointers can't relate, I know. When you write with wet ink that glides across the page, and the width and intensity of your line changes to suit the mood of the either the author or the text being laid down, well, it just brings a whole new level to the doing of it. Here is a shot of some of the pens in my current user line up. The user line up consists of 20 +/- pens and the make up changes as some pens are cleaned and returned to display while others take their place with ink inside. Here is a picture taken tonight of the users with mixed and matched parts: (forgive the jargon which follows. Pen people will decipher it okay)

 From left to right they are...

 An early Pelikan 100 (ca 1930) with a 1920's flexible Waterman #4 nib.
 A 1995 Pelikan "Originals of Their Time" 1931LE with an actual 1931 era Pelikan 100 nib.
A 1990s Pelikan 150 (featuring a Chris Burton custom binde) and an old style M600 OM nib
A Columbus (celluloid by Yamazaki) Academia with a Sailor Magellan nib.
A 2008 Bexley Watley with a 1920s Waterman Ballpoint nib
A 2008 Dani-Trio Cum Laude with a Waterman 200 series OB nib.

  They all write really nicely.  Anyone need a snailer? I'm all caught up here.  :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Review of Torino Lace

Originally submitted at

Go out and about in style and comfort with the Torino Lace lifestyle sneaker from KEEN. The waterproof leather upper is prepared for wet conditions; a unique stitch pattern adds stylish interest. An EVA footbed offers cushioning for lasting comfort as you explore the urban landscape. Product featur...

Unusually comfortable shoes

By Fullylugged from Prattville, AL on 11/10/2009


4out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels too wide

Pros: Comfortable, Attractive

Best Uses: School/Work, Casual Wear

Describe Yourself: Athletic, Practical, Comfort-oriented

A little odd in appearance with a low narrow heel and a wide higher front. Exceptionally comfortable to wear and walk any distance in (on level ground or on slopes). The sole is extremely adaptive to the walking surface. The stitching in the sole (decorative only?) begins to wear quickly. I wear these with jeans away from work and with business casual slacks at the office. They are shoes, not sneakers as advertised, and would not do well for sports use.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Time to Fall Back

I am not a fan of standard time. Let me confess that up front. I hate the early end to a day's daylight. Never a night owl, I'm up with the sun, or before it, and ready to close my eyes once it sets below the horizon. All that being said, one plus to standard time is that it is light and warmer one hour earlier than before the change. I put up a list post about doing a Fall foliage ride today, out in the western part of the county. I've done this ride each of the past two years. Both times, only one other rider came along. Today, no one did. The one commitment I had bailed so that he could tuck his head down in a pace line with the speedsters. I understand of course. Bike merchants sell new bikes on the premise that they will make you "faster" so people want rides where they can go "fast." Whatever that really means. My regular like minded rider was out in Vancouver this weekend, so he was on his own to find a ride.

The route came from Mike Munk's Bamacyclist web page and it's a good mix of curving, sloping rural roads. The ride was 54 miles long and included 2,350' of climb, with a maximum grade of about 10%. Temps ranged from 44 at the start to 72 by the end. It makes setting up a bit of a challenge. I took the Rambouillet with the smaller cogset. It currently has 37 mm Panaracer Paselas on, and these are excellent over coarse back roads, and the dirt road detours I took to get a few of the pictures. Pumped to 65 psi, they are still surprisingly quick. The slowness of the overall pace (13 mph avg) was more due to my lallygagging, looking around, and generally not being in a hurry. And 2,350' of climbing. And the 15 mile pull home into a suddenly brisker breeze.

I parked at the epicenter of life in Autaugaville, the BP gas station. It features a clean restroom and pleasant staff. I was undecided on which jacket to wear, and decided on a lighter wind shell (the Comp-Velo one) over a long sleeve wool jersey, over a wool tee shirt. Wool shorts and knee warmers below and tall wool socks (a steal at Costco! Thanks to Steven D for the lead) to close out leg coverage. I took the jacket off at the 1st rest stop, 15 miles out. I could have kept going, but Louise needed a rest. Here she is at the corner of CR 40 & CR 1. 

The idea was that the leaves would be really pretty today. They were pretty green, pretty much, although touches of color showed up here and there.

The day was just lovely. These are two views of the same ridge. I went up and down over it several times, and the 1st shot is looking west while the second is looking back east.

Plenty of critters to look at. I rode with a 6 point buck for about 100 yds, while he looked for an opportunity to jump back into the woods.  Here's a 2 pointer that was not in any hurry to move.

Hawks were everywhere and other birds too. The only dogs I met were black Labradors. If you know labs, you know they were not a threat. People waved, but mostly I saw no one else, and very few cars. I ducked down to Steele Landing to use the restroom there, and the lot was full of pickup trucks with empty boat trailers. No people though.

Most of the day I kept running a Seals & Croft melody though my head, "We may never pass this way again." You know, the refrain part that goes, "and all the years will come and go, take us UP, always UP."  Here I am near the crest of yet another hill.

Up, always up!

Okay. sometimes i DID go downhill. It was fast and sweet and cold. Pretty too.

The fields were busy today. Peanuts are being worked and so is cotton. Here I rode down to a cotton processor to snap a picture of the bike and the bale, both in the same shade of blue.

This was just before the stop at the Statesville store.Statesville is in our county but is closer to Selma. Prattville was once the world leader in cotton gin manufacturing. Both cotton and cotton gins have declined here in Alabama over the years, replaced by industries like aerospace engineering and automobile manufacturing.

It was a good workout of a ride, despite the sedate approach I took. I needed the work and enjoyed the saddle time. Hope to ride tomorrow after church as well, but it will be a shorter cruise in any event.


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