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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The 2010 edition of the Old Howard

As we have done in the past, Bill, Joe, and I shared a car ride over to Marion, AL to participate in the Old Howard. Named for a now defunct college, but put on by the successor school (Samford University) with the help of the current occupant of the grounds (Judson College). The funds raised go towards economic development of a region with high unemployment. I didn't do a head count but it seemed like a nice turn out. Sunshine this year, unlike 2009, where we started off in the rain. We rode the 76 mile option, but I did not ride with the two of them. While they brought race bikes, I brought my "Hound Dog."  I knew the course an decided comfort over some very coarse roads and loose gravel sections would be better than an extra 1 - 2 mph in avg. speed. Here we are before the ride, a Seven (Joe), a Salsa (Bill), and a Saluki.


A gal I'd ridden with on a couple of MS 150 rides, last time being 2 years ago, remembered me and came over to say hi. That was nice. Her friend looked at my get up and asked, "Is there some wool in that?" Uhh, Ibex jersey and shorts and Defeet wool socks. Yep, I guess there is. No, it's not itchy and no it's not too hot. Sheep wear it all Summer, in fact. Then she said she was allergic to wool. Okay. Along the way, at rest stop #2, a fellow came up and said hi. He remembered me from the same stop last year. Nice guy.

A few miles out, the riders split. Most people saw a sign for a detour and took it to avoid some gravel patches on the original route. I went with the minority and risked the gravel. It wasn't bad actually. Two sections of 100 - 200 meters. Only one of the two was "loose" and my 35mm tires were pretty secure on it. The detourers rode 3 fewer miles and missed rest stop #1. It's at a very old home, used as part of the interior design curriculum at the college. And with so few riders there was NO wait to use the bathroom!

Brilliant blue skies as we headed north to Goldsboro. A town that still has antebellum homes (provided some back drop for the move "To Kill a Mockingbird," or so I was told). Most of my pictures came out fuzzy, but here are a few.

Typical of the route between the towns we saw:


Rest stop crew inside a Volunteer Fire Dept at mile 58:

There were a couple of interesting bikes and characters out there too. This guy did the 45 mile route with a fat stogie cigar in his mouth the whole way. Unique "kit" as well.

This steel framed beauty only rode the 1st mile, but led us all out of the start:

The winds shifted as the day wore on, so that it was in my face for about 75% of the time. Seemed like more of course. I did the 1st 50 miles at about a 15.3 avg, but the long pull into the headwind started to slow me down. Here at 55 miles, I am doing 14.3 and that was in fact the final avg for the whole day.

I was having a pretty good time though, riding mostly by myself and passing a number of jack rabbits who lagged, as the sun got hotter and the hills higher. One fellow asked me how I got ahead of him, as he remembered passing me earlier. "I think I was faster up the hills," I replied. "You'll go by me again when we get to the flat.

When I got back to the start, Joe and Bill were already changed and had eaten. They were famished (I show burning 3,650 cal myself) but were willing to wait for me to do the same. Knowing that there was no Atkins friendly food avail, I declined. Using the packed sports wet towel, I cleaned off a bit, changed my shirt and we headed home where I had a proper shower and real food. Despite looking as salted as a pretzel, I did not have a single cramp. The salt addition (1/4 tsp per bottle) to sports drinks is doing the job. I also ate enough aloing the way so as to never be hungry (I had a total of 1 PP&J sandwich and 6 Quaker Oats granola breakfast bars (about 90 cals each) I drank ether Nuun or Propel. The Sun was very strong, and I aplied SPF 30 blocker before the start and again at the 1/2 point. Despite that, my arms were covered with blisters at the end. Painless, and I popped them, and no sign of them this morning.

As we rode home, we passed many century riders coming in. Some were still a good 1 1/2 or 2 hrs of pedal time out! They might have been wiser to choose the 75. Perhaps they just wanted to take in Selma and the famous Edmund Pettus Bride.

The ride had 2,550' of climb according to my Garmin, although it felt like less. The mid week hill rides are certainly helping me with climbing stamina. We had two good ones this past week. Both were well attended, both were good workouts and I was pleased with how each ride went for me. I used the Mark III for both and realized that its mustache bars are excellent on climbing work. Frank (who came along for both outings) attributed the improved climbing performance to my skinnier butt, although the bars had something to do with it, I am sure.

Next week is the Tour Autauga and several people I know have said they are riding it.  I should find someone I can stay up with. Planning to do the metric.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This 'n That

Last Sunday, I led a club beginner ride and we had a couple of new faces along for the ride. A 13 year old who was very pleasant to have around and who could easily ride farther and faster than we were doing, and a woman who was in town from Mobile, visiting a local pal who is a club member. We just did the out and back to the Holley Store in Elmore and it was a lovely day to be out for a ride.

Tuesday, we rode the Indian Hills - Wadsworth Loop circuit and had 8 come out for what turned out to be a great outing. Plenty of hills to climb, good company, and I had legs to get up all of the climbs, without getting too tired. I like it!

Rained Thursday, so I went with Sharon to a team captain meeting of the Millbrook "Relay For Life." SHE is the church team captain, and I have been drafted as her adjutant. So far, not much momentum from the church people but we have a few weeks yet.

Today, I went down to Dothan (a 2 1/2 hr drive) to ride in "Peddalin' For a Cure." It was the 1st edition of that ride there and they did a bang up job. Excellent routes offering a variety of scenery and well marked. Even potholes and upcoming stretches of rough pavement were marked so there were no surprises. I rode the 65 mile option. The 1st and last thirds were hilly, while the middle part seemed flatter to me. The climbs were almost all in the 6% - 9% grade range. Total elevation gain was 2,737' according to the Garmin. The last big one was a work out. You come to it at 50 miles and it goes up for what seemed like forever. Wind was only a factor towards the end, when I was beginning to tire a little, and it kicked up a little in intensity. Rest stops were only 12 miles apart, so you can stop or skip it and know another one was not too far away. Good selection of stuff to eat, including honey and peanutbutter sandwiches, marathon bars, fruits and some candies. I stayed with my granola bars and the 9g of sugar marathons. My new mix of 1/4 tsp of salt in with a bottle of Nuun or Propel worked great today. Not a sign of a cramp anywhere! To mix up on the road, 2 packets of fast food salt = 1/4 tsp. If you can't find salt for your to go burgers, you know where to look. The volunteers were plentiful and extremely nice. The only thing I would change about the rest stops is moving the Port-a-lets farther away from the food table. The last rest stop was set up well this way, the others, too close. I only stopped once to take a picture. We travelled through several towns I had never heard of. Slocumb, Dundee and Clayhatchee to name a few. But when we came to Wicksburg (NOT Vicksburg) I had to snap this picture:


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Weekend

Our first Prattville Ride of the season was on Tuesday evening. 8 riders turned out, which was a nice crowd. It was good to see some faces not seen in a while. We did the Prattville Loop and all went well for about 1/2 way, until one rider experienced a rear derailleur cable malfunction. Facing a 20% grade, her chain was stuck on the smallest cog. Not a happy situation, so she and another rider turned tail and headed back to the cars. I ended up going up the climb, waiting around at the top, then going 1/2 way back down looking for them, before heading back UP the climb, and going back down the other side, and finally using my cell phone to ascertain their status. We finished the ride in spirited style, as the delay at Deer Trace (the hill) set us back 20 minutes or so, and we try to beat nightfall back to the cars. Tim made my day when, catching up to Ron and I at the very end, he asked, "When did you get fast?" (I think he meant up the hills). "Smoke and mirrors," was my reply, but he made me smile nonetheless.

No ride Thursday, as Sharon and I went to Maundy Thursday services at our church. Maundy might be related to the Latin mandatum (commandment) because Jesus instituted the sacrament of communion along with a "new command" that he told his friends gathered around the Passover Seder table. He told them to love one another as He had loved them. It may also relate to the old English maunders, or alms baskets. English royalty has for years given out special alms on the Thursday of Holy Week. In any case, the service focused on the last supper and the new communion. We came up in groups of 12 to sit at the table and take communion there. I enjoyed that a lot more than a rather long narration about the disciples in the run up to and following the events of this week. (We also went for Good Friday. That service focused on how Jesus met the requirements of atonement spelled out in Leviticus, chapter 16)

Sharon asked if I could show up for another yard day on Saturday, and we agreed that I would ride in the morning, and dig in the afternoon. In fact, we met after my ride at Southern Homes and Gardens and picked out a Moonfire Japanese Maple and a half dozen Hostas to plant. For the ride, I chose a fairly level area out east of town, and emailed Michelle to see if she might come. When she agreed, I posted the ride to the club email list and got a few positive replies. Jeff alone could not make it, but another rider, Dan, came out in his place. So Michelle, Joe, Bill, and Dan joined me for almost 40 miles. I advertised teh ride as being a 13 - 15 mph average. The temperature to start was 57F, SO much nicer than the 43F of the prior week, I wore no jacket, just a Swobo s/s wool jersey with a Woolywarm sleeveless tee under. Swobo wool shorts too. I was delighted to see Bill in a wool Surly jersey! The merino evangel is spreading! And what's more, Bill rides a steel bike too! With a leather saddle! Carbon cranks and fork though. He said he has ordered a lugged steel fork from Rivendell to replace the carbon unit, and I'm happy to hear that. Rivendell has a fork replacement program to try and get carbon forks off bikes as a potential safety risk. They call it the "carbonomas" or Carbo, no mas! you could say.
50-718d-thumb It's a reaction to things like this result of a run in with a squirrel:

Anyway, we shoved off from the John Hall Store at 8:00 AM. Michelle wanted a ride that was "not too tough. I haven't been on my bike since November." Of course, she mentioned to Sharon this week that she goes to the gym EVERY morning at 5:00 AM and has been spinning on the stationary bikes all winter! She took off at 17 mph and accelerated from there! Here's a picture 10 miles out from the start. Michelle is leading just OVER the rise, then Dan, Bill and Joe. I am well back and doing 18 as I snapped the shot. They are puling away, uphill, at 22 mph.

The return of green is much appreciated, and the combination of cool air, lively songbirds, colorful blossoms and green carpet made for a most enjoyable outing even if I spent some of it by myself!. I saw them in the distance mostly but caught up at the first rest stop at mile 15.

We stayed in closer formation on the next 10 mile leg to the US 231 store, and after that, my legs seemed to find some energy reserves and I either pulled or was close to the front all the way back in. Or maybe it was the tail wind, who knows?
No mechanical issues for anyone today and everyone seemed to enjoy the ride. Dan is a competing triathlete who had a duathalon last week and was looking for an easy ride for this day. Despite that, he got a good lead on us near the end, despite our 18 - 20 mph final leg average. We finished at 16.5 mph and a hair under 1,100' of climb. It was a super time. I rode Louise, the Rambouillet, and once again am surprised at how much I like the "new" Ultegra double crankset. It is used of course, but new to me. The closer Q spacing and shorter crank arms suit me to a tee. My cadence average was 77, an improvement as I try to get to 85.

I brought a pair of Zoic MTB shorts to pull over the Swobos and a Cotton Tee to replace the jersey and go tree shopping in. After some discussion with the garden shop people, and our surreptitious fact checking via Blackberry, we realized that did not know what they were talking about and we used our own best judgement on the tree. We agreed on a Moonfire becuase it has red leaves and is not too big when full grown. After returning home, changing to yard clothes and having lunch, I got outside. Alex and Sharon joined me, with Alex helping on my project and Sharon providing "executive management" over placement decisions and some potted plant relocation. First we had to extricate an enormous and well rooted bush from the planter. This involved sawing off most of it so we could get at the base, then digging (me) and axe chopping roots (Alex) as we came to them, and finally pulling it free. Then we dug (mostly Alex) the new hole and added soil amendments (mostly me)
and finally put the tree in. Here's a photo montage by Sharon's Iphone of it all:

This morning (Easter: He is risen indeed!) started off with excellent coffee, scrambled eggs (with pesto, cream, and mozzarella) and Lox (thanks Honey!) and some quiet time to read, write, and reflect. After church and lunch, I'm leading a beginner's group at 2 PM. They'll do 16 flattish miles and I'll ride to and from to add 12 more.


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