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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Although wandering rain showers have been forecast all weekend, rides were managed both Saturday and today, Memorial Day. For Saturday, I headed on over to Cecil, AL and joined the Club Lite crowd. Hadn't seem some of them for a while and an easy lope on two wheels sounded like just the ticket. I told Sharon we'd be done in time for me to drill anchor holes in the brickwork of our house and mount a flagpole in time to observe the holiday.

We had a good turn out of a baker's dozen riders and headed out in high spirits. Here's Mary Ashley leading the pack.

It was warm and humid, as you can tell from our kit clad, Lance bike riding refugee from the race circuit. Mary just has one speed, FAST, at least on flats.  We lost our ride leader, when John had a flat on his lovely new blue and white TREK Madone. I used to give John grief over the number of flats he had. I suspected that the tubes he bought in bulk when on sale spent too much time on the seat of his car in the Sun. It's been a while though, so this must have been just one of those things. He said not to wait on him, so we didn't. Joe pulled off in the lead, and typically for him, spun up to 200 rpm and 22 mph. A couple of rabbits went after him and I found myself pedaling alone for much of the day. Anne and Delayne did a 180, when someone called out, "Who left the lift gate on their SUV open?" They decided on a shorter route anyway and kept each other company for 23 miles. Assuming a "Lite" ride of 13 - 14 mph avg, I brought the Rambouillet with it's heavy fat tire set up. It was comfortable, but it was work to get it going quickly, and I ended the day at 16 mph avg. Not a hilly ride, but almost 1,000' of rollers all told.

After the ride I drilled about 2/3 of the 1st of 3 flagpole bracket holes and decided that the drill bit was too dull, and it was taking too long, and I was too tired to fool with it any more. Sunday after church, Alex and I went to Home Depot, got a new drill bit for the brickwork, and between us got all the drilling done. We had a flag raising ceremony inspired by a certain WW II picture.                      

 Today, 5 of us did my "Memorial Day Marbury Route." That's what I called it after the first time, a number of years ago, and I try to ride it each year. This year, we stretched it from 60.8 miles to make it a metric century, by adding a detour to the Alabama Confederate War Veterans Park. The morning radar showed random storms all over the place, but we shoved off anyway. I packed the rainsuit which pretty much ensures we won't get wet. We were two vets (Ron and me) and 3 active servicemen (Mike, Bill, and Charlie)  Ron has an SUV of a mountain bike with all sorts of gear attached. Multiple bike computers, slots for 8 water bottles, double handle bars (drops and a straight bar) racks on racks, and fenders, and a lot of is held together with zip ties, He is a strong rider and has been doing hills with us during the week as well. Here are Ron and the SUV:


  My Saluki is on the left and Charlie's Specialized is to the right. The headstones belong to Civil War vets. The facility was an old age home for them after the war, and I think the last one passed away in 1934. Why is there a rain cover on the Lil Loafer in the front of the Saluki? Because It was a handy place for it should it rain. Underneath is a second one in black that stays on the Loafer to keep it dry in the rain, should the yellow one go on my helmet. Twice we encountered rain and providentially, we were at service stations and able to take cover while the frog strangler deluges fell. Each time, I fit the rain bonnet to my helmet and each time the weather subsequently cleared. The roads were still wet though.

The fields still looked good to me. Hay is being cut and baled all over now:

and new crops are just coming up, including cotton, still widely grown here, as are peanuts and corn.

Here's everyone but me at the park:

We had plenty of everything on this ride. Humidity early was horrendous, rains torrential (although as noted, we found shelter both times) the Sun HOT and strong later, dogs plentiful and active, and LOTS of hills. We climbed a total of about 3,300' and there were 2 or 3 grades of 13 %, including the last climb which felt worse because we were 60 miles into the trip. At 55 miles, one of the riders indicated he was out of gas and not feeling well. He noted he was no longer sweating and wisely opted to finish his day at the last store stop. It's better to ride smart and come back another day than to overdo it and risk real health damage. The 1st rider in went back and got him with a car and that was the right way to play that hand.

Ohh! I forgot to mention: After the Boys Store in Slapout, I forgot to release the parking brake! (It's a nifty little stretch cord that grabs your brake lever and prevents the bike from rolling.)

So, I pedaled 6 miles wondering why I was so sluggish having just had a nice rest stop with a food bar and a banana. And I kept up the pace with that brake on! Okay, it wasn't at full capacity, but still......

Final tally for me was 13.9 avg for 63.6 mi. Not bad on a heavy bike and it was super comfortable on all the hardscrabble sections we covered, railroad tracks and other bumps in the road. The fenders of course were just the thing today. I rode in sneakers today, Vitruvians.     Order the Symmetry II now!     They make shoes with a special insole for people of various arch

configurations. Having a Low arch, it's often hard to find one just right, and they do the job at a reasonable price. They worked out fine as biking shoes on the Grip King pedals as well. Btw, Grip King is a misnomer, when wet, there is NO grip, but you adapt and it works out.

  So, a good weekend on many fronts, including a great dinner last night with friends who stopped on the way from Tn to FL to see us.  Tailwinds everyone. See you on a ride in June!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Metric

No big time miles leader here, but I did want to average a metric or longer ride a month, as a minimum this year. Today I got # 5 in and it was a very enjoyable spin through south Montgomery County. Joe and Roxy came along, and Patty was with us for the 1st half or a bit more. Patty was taking a day off from her training. Having qualified for the Sr. Olympics again, (she triple gold medaled in cycling a few years ago) she'll be doing a lot of riding that is faster and harder than my legs and lungs are up for. For a little town, Montgomery seems to have more than its fair share of very fine and accomplished riders.

I pulled off Maxy Fasty tires from the Rivendell Road, and replaced them with the just received Pascenti Pari-Motos. The tires install easily with bare hands, and it was not too difficult to assure a good bead seat during inflation. These tires are 38mm in size but only 300g in weight. For comparison, a skinny Continental GP4000 23 mm clincher weighs (per Competitive Cyclist) about 230 g and is about 1/5 the volume. The supple casing allows the tire to move smoothly over rough roads. It also climbs like a demon. GREAT traction when you stomp the pedals down and it corners like a sure footed cat. To me though, the BEST thing is how they look. My Rivendell "road" bike is now my "Roadster" bike.

I know that saddle looks like a dangerous weapon, all nosed up, but think in terms of a horse's saddle. I sit on the flat area in the back and the front is like the pommel on the equestrian saddle. Anyway, back to Elrond's new shoes (He IS a Rivendellian, after all). The bike started life as a 700 size wheel machine, but when the frame set came my way, I built it up as a 650B bike. There is plenty of clearance in the fork and seat stay areas:

BUT, there is just barely enough at the chain stays:

The tires ride great!  Fast as anything else, and great in corners. The roads today were pretty coarse:


 but I was comfortable the entire way. Our average speed was in the middle 15s, which is quick for me, considering that we were under a broiling Sun, had lots of humidity, and 2,810' of climb all told, according to the Garmin 705.  We stopped at the quarter points to rest and refuel. Our 1st stop was Mt Carmel church. The only water is from a garden hose and it sure tastes like it too. The other stops were stores and I got a 32 oz bottle of low or no carb sports drink at each place. I also used the rests to munch on a cereal or granola bar. That, plus adding salt to my drinks seems to have helped significantly with cramps. I had none today and am thankful about that. Sweating was heavy, and I drank 166 oz total on a 65 mile ride, or about double (or more) than what I would drink under more favorable weather circumstances.

We rode through green, green rural countryside. Some typical shots:

Joe spinning up an incline on his custom Seven:

and Roxy coming up behind me on his Trek:

Roxy and I were happy to be back at the cars following the ride.:

Good ride. 65.4 mi, 140 avg HR (Zone 2) and almost 3,200 cals expended. Not that the scale would move any. It didn't. You can't tell from the picture, but I am in wool. Socks, shorts and jersey are all merino and all were comfortable all day. It was 73F and very humid at the start and 92F with a bit drier air by the end. Patty saw a turkey, although she followed that by saying it could have been a vulture. No other interesting wildlife came our way and only a couple of dogs today. None that really made us nervous.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lots of Sun today

Long day outside today. First up was a 50 miler, solo. I took the Saluki, so I wouldn't feel all racy. I wanted to just enjoy the ride. I'll spill the beans and say that despite killer headwinds coming back in for 20 miles or so, the ride was 7 1/2% faster than the last time I was up that way, back in March, and that was on a racier bike, iirc. I planned to skedaddle by 7:30 Am, to be back by 11:30 and clean up for the afternoon of business golf that was on the agenda. A little late getting out, I was still on 15 mins behind coming back, including rest stop times.

The brick on our house came from this now shut-down plant. Until residential construction picks back up, it's just not needed.
You can see unsold stacks of bricks to the right of the fuel oil tanks. The fuel fires the kilns they use to bake the bricks.

The ride was through a nice assortment of terrain and generally pretty views. I really like this house which features extensive lawn plantings on a very large front yard.

The mid point of the ride is Lake Jordan which had plenty of activity today. Lots of people fishing.

About the time I took this picture, the winds picked up. When I wasn't trying to hold my pace against them, it was very refreshing. A humid day with temps of 91F, every little bit helped, comfort wise.  Here is my last break, at a corner. I was getting somewhat tired and a granola bar and a saddle break both sounded great. Between the lake and this rest, is a 13% grade section that had me sweating profusely from the head. The salt I've been adding to my Propel seems to really be helping as once again, zero cramps. I had 4 bottles of fluid over the whole 49.7 miles. I could have had a 5th bottle and not minded it, but I was too lazy to stop and buy one. (The 1st stop had a 2/$2 sale, so I used 1 and put the 2d in the front (L'il Loafer) bag for later. It stayed cold! Oh, I had an Ibex short sleeve jersey and Kucharik wool shorts today. A cotton Rivendell cap in Saluki green, and wool socks in Nike (Rack Room) sandals that I confiscated from son Alex due to non use.

With about 15 miles to go after the stop, I was beginning to think I might be so late due to wind that I would miss the golfing. The local town syndics must have thought overwise, becuase after turning the corner, here's what I saw:

I made it back in time to jump in the shower, change, load the golf gear, make a ham & cheese to go and arrive at Quail Hollow Course with 14 minutes to spare! Ofc ourse, they did NOT have me registered for the event! (I returned my invite the  first day) Gracious as ever, they quickly found 3 nice guys for me to "play" with. That is, I occupied cart space and occasionally provided a useable shot, but more often comic relief. None of us were great, but all had the odd good shot. As a team we scored -1 for 18 holes, and I was glad we did not need to hang around for awards presentations.

So, 9 hours in the Sun today. Most with SPF 30. Some in the shade. I have a red area on a wrist that I must have missed with the applicator. Nothing else is KILLING me right now. Except my ankle, which I twisted on the second hole when the soles of those Nike sandals (Hey, who else has shoes that work for BOTH bikes and golf?) detached and caught the turf, causing my incident. I'm banking on the powers of a good night's sleep to help it feel better in the morning.

The Prattville rides last week were both good workouts. We lost Ron on Thursday when his chain broke. He had a spare and tools as well as a cell phone to call for an extraction if needed. Michael broke a spoke on Weds and missed the Thursday ride. I think the Tuesday group made it intact. Our pace is picking up from 13.5 avg when we began in late April to about 15.5 now. Nice to see. These rides are all challenging with the hills.

Sunday school lesson is done, time for bed.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Meandering in May

For the 3rd Saturday in a row, I did not ride. Next weekend, I am committed to a golf tournament so unless I can get in a very early outing, it will be a full month without a metric or longer ride. Many people would not consider a round of golf akin to a prison term, but I am a terrible golfer. No amount of lessons makes any difference. This is a business thing, a best ball team effort and my attendance there matters to some people, so I'll show up and put my best foot forward, if not my best swing. This is an annual thing and sometimes a lucky putt of mine actually gets used as a team stroke. One year, I chipped in from the fringe. That sort of thing. After spraying yellow foam practice balls all over the yard last night, I know I'd better find a driving range this week, unless I want to exhaust my complete inventory of golf balls on the course next weekend.

There was no ride for me Thursday either this week; our family was in Dothan for the funeral of a much loved family friend. She was a special young lady who lost a battle with cancer after 6 years. As her mom put it, "Don't forget to hate cancer." I won't. I wore my Amici Veloci (cancer charity cyclists) jersey in a "Pedalin for a Cure" ride down that way a month or so ago in fact.

Tuesday was a great romp through the hills around Prattville. I had my fastest climb up Deer Trace (our local 20% er) ever. Very satisfying. That old Japanese steel frame bike with 'stache bars climbs like a goat. The more I ride them, the more I like those bars too. I took off the Brooks B17 saddle and Out Your Backdoor saddle suitcase 
replacing them with a B5N saddle and a burrito wrap tool kit.

The saddle was NOS from Ebay. Originally furnished as an OEM item on Raleigh bikes, it is the same shape as a B17N with lighter leather than Brooks normal supply, has lace holes, chromed rails and is pebble grained. It was as hard as rock, sitting as it did since the '70s in a bag on a shelf. I've been Proofide - ing it on the underside for about a year, and it has become softer again. I've said many times that I do NOT race, but there must be some subliminal reason that my hill ride is now a full pound lighter. Hmmm....

It was Louise the Rambouillet who went out yesterday though.  Terry ("T2"), a gal with MS who has been riding with me some and whose bike I've tweaked for her, asked about a 30 miler for Sunday afternoon. It would be her longest outing ever. I posted it to the club list, and 9 riders came out! I ended up with almost 50, biking to and from the start point, and had plenty of workout as we had a stiff headwind (I pulled almost the whole way. When I didn't, the rider who did got down on aerobars and made me work to keep up!) Louise sports a racy Ultegra double instead of her original equipment Sugino low range triple, but I never needed the lowest combo I carried up any of the rollers we faced. I had about a 16 mph average going until the last 6 miles or so, when my legs bonked into the wind. I pulled over and rested 5 minutes, letting the granola bars I chowed down percolate through my system. No speed wagon when I started up again, but not a slug anymore. I still lost about 1 mph in overall average, ending under 15. The ride was planned as a casual one, but you know how it goes. Someone in the group kicks it up and everyone goes. Terry paired off with Ron, on his 50 lb SUV of a world tourer. They went much slower, but at the right pace for them. A MUSA seersucker shirt was very comfy over a wool Tee. Some new shorts from Zoic were outstanding!  I saw them at the website for $25/pr and bought two. The liners alone go for $30 and you get one in the shorts. I took them out and rode with just a pair of regular boxer briefs quite happily. The fabric has 92% nylon and 8% spandex and it moves nicely with you and does not flap in the breeze. Super comfortable.

So miles in May are not what they might be, but some biking is making its way into the crowded weekly schedule. In two weeks, nothing planned, so maybe I'll get that next metric in!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Unsettled weather has been making its way across our area for the past week or more. The Tour Autauga faced strong showers about 2/3 of the way through last Saturday. I missed that ride. I was all packed to head out, no matter what the weather, but my internals kept giving me trouble and i decided to stay close to indoor plumbing for the day. I was sad to miss it. It was cool following the rain, and when Tuesday evening's hill ride came along, I wondered if the wool jersey would be enough by itself as I was chilly in the parking lot. As it happened, it was plenty. A smaller group than last week for both nights still went out and had some good riding. Our pace is picking up a bit. From 13 - 14 avg, we're now 15 - 16. Considering the 13% - 20% grades our routes encompass, that isn't too bad. Not all the hills are so steep, but all the routes have plenty of hills to climb. While different riders take the lead, or drop back a bit on the climbs, no one is out of place, so to speak, and that makes for a good grouping.

It was breezy this past Saturday, and generally overcast, but it did not rain. I could have ridden, but I was otherwise scheduled. At 8:00, I met 20 other guys for a superior men's breakfast at a snug little restaurant in Millbrook. Following that I went up to the Fellowship Hall of Millbrook Presbyterian to give a cycling safety and information talk to their American Heritage Girls troop, and assorted other kids who came out. They were interested and attentive, and brought bikes and helmets to be safety checked and fit tested. I actually wore a club jersey for this event. This is a rare occurrence, because it is NOT wool.

  Using a late 70s Maruishi (for Nashbar) 650B modified crit racer to demonstrate, the kids are hearing about how a bike works, what to look for, and the rules of the road for bikes (out of the AL drivers manual).

Here they are waiting their turn for a bike fit and safety check:

A picture with the girls who organized the event as an advancement requirement.

To complement the bike class, a beginner ride had been posted for after church. I limited it to 12 years old and up, and with winds of 30 mph blowing fairly steady from the South, I was not surprised to have only 2 takers. Actually, another called and asked if we would wait for him, but with the threat of rain on radar scans, I had to decline. We did get in the usual 16 mile easy trip and while I felt some droplets at the end, we avoided getting wet. The young lady on the right in the picture above was the sole member of the AHG troop to come out. The other rider was a gal with MS who is training to ride in this year's BikeMS. I've worked on her bike and she's worked on her riding and both are showing in a smoother, stronger pedal stroke.  Here's a shot taken while we were rolling along in that wind:

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