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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lunch on the The Plains

This was the ride we originally discussed for last week, but postponed so our out-of-town friend (Joe) could be here and come along. During the week, Joe mentioned that he wouldn't be able to come after all. One foot is giving him trouble, possibly from trying to squeeze it into a glass slipper with Look cleats. The slipper says "SIDI" on the side, but don't let that fool you. Those things are torture devices. On Thursday night's local hill drill, Joe had put his Shimano M324s on  the Seven Axiom.

Joe has a Rivendell Hillborne on order and may have pedals like this on it. He wore Shimano MTB shoes, but did not clip in, maybe dipping his toe into the free-pedal philosophy pond? Could comfortable shoes actually be in his future? I can send him links to Teva, Keen, and Vitruvian, you know? Anyway, his foot was still sore after the Thursday ride, and then he announces, "I forgot to put an insole in that shoe! D-oh, Homer!

As it turned out, Ray called at 5 mins before departure Thursday night to ask that we wait for him. Why call Ray? We know to expect you with no wasted time :) He called again today to ssay that he didn't feel up to a long ride.  Hope things mend for you soon buddy. That left Frank, Max and I, and surprise show up, Tim. Tim rides with us during the week a couple of times each season, and is always welcome. He just hadn't said anything about it. For the first 13 miles, we also had Phil (used to own a bike shop in Montgomery) on his fixie. Phil wore his vintage Saeco jersey, and that fit the vintage Cannondale he was rocking.

We left at 6:30 in some humidity, and with welcome cloud cover. The air was calm for the first 20 miles or so, then we had a headwind the rest of the outbound passage. By 8:30 (maybe earlier) we were at Tuskegee for breakfast, just as we stopped there about a month ago. After eating, and dashing across the street for a bottle refill, we continued on to Auburn. Some bigger hills involved as we pedaled through the Tuskegee national Forest. We tallied  a total of 4,124' for the day according to my Garmin btw. When Hwys 80 and 29 diverged, I was unsure of which to take, but went with 29. Frank agreed and it was the right choice. We found our way to downtown Auburn and Toomer's Drug Store, our intended lunch venue. No "Fat Girls" BBq style set up here. Very pleasant college students provided excellent service for sandwiches and ice cream. Max ordered up a chocolate shake, we all lemonade, fresh squeezed. Grace was our server and she made our sandwiches up and snapped a picture of us at the table.

The tall drinks are lemonades. No red anywhere on the shelves. Just orange and blue. What's up with that?

After lunch, and a fruitless stop at a bike shop on College Ave for some hi octane goop Tim wanted, we were on the road again.  Tim mentioned he was feeling tired just before lunch, and so we altered our return route a little to cut out some hilly parts, and to avoid some heavier traffic, which was getting closer to Frank on a couple of occasions than safety would mandate. Once we turned to the west, a tailwind provided some much appreciated help, but north or south it was somewhat in our face, and definitely when were going east. Max was on his longest ride ever, and looked very relaxed all the way through. Tim labored up the hills, but made it all the way back to the cars. Frank, as usual, motored along in fine fashion. He looked good too in black leather belted gray hemp tweed shorts. He needs a morning jacket instead of that Under Armor sausage casing top though to complete the ensemble.
CUTAWAY JACKET * MORNING COAT * 1800s COSTUME * BROWN (Image1) Gramicci Men's Mungo Short

When we got to the cars, the Garmin showed 97.6 mi. NO way that was the end for us! Max and I headed down CR 37 for 1/2 the difference and then we turned around and made the parking lot with an honest century. Tim was already packed and gone when we got in, but Frank was here and thoughtfully suggested a Klondike bar! Great idea. They sell them at the store where we parked.

The Saluki was great, although my new bar tape job was not. I need to un wrap and re wrap it. Selle Anatomica leather tape. I wrapped it going the wrong way, and I didn't do a good job with the ends. Fenders, racks, bags, bike lock, rain gear, camera, food, etc. The bike did not feel heavy and handled just fine on Grand Bois Oursons (I run them at 60 psi) and kept up reasonably well with the other bikes. We averaged 15.3 for 100.11 miles. A NOS pair of Kucharik wool shorts with genuine chamois for the padding was outstanding. The jersey is too big, and maybe it will shrink in the dryer (shh! Don't tell 'em at RBW)

Our Prattville week night rides are done for the season, but riding continues. Next week the H's hit the road for Waynesboro VA and the Tour de Valley. If you're riding in it, introduce yourself and say "hi" if you see me! later in the week, as we vacation in Washington DC, I plan to ride with my cousin Alan, who I have not seen since we were like 6 or 7 yrs old. Turns out he likes bikes too. :)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fat Girl's Cafe - Billingsly, AL

Joe is out of town today (his sort of step-son, a young man they took in for a while years ago when tragedy struck his family, is making his major league baseball debut in St. Louis. Joe and his wife went to see him play.) and he wants in on our planned century ride to Auburn, so we looked for another route to use today. Frank said he wanted about 3,500' of climb and 75 miles. I got the elevation (we did 3,600 today) but fell short on the mileage (only 65.4) but we agreed at the end it was a fine outing. Max joined us, his first Saturday excursion on the new Trek Pilot. He was resplendent in color matched to the bike outfit, and even matched water bottles. Max has quickly learned from Andre Agassi who used to pitch cameras saying, "Image is everything." As it turns out, Max rides pretty good too! Bill brought his Salsa LaRazza today, with his robust wheel set instead of the El Car-bons. He must have skimmed prior blog entries and picked up that we sometimes leave the smooth pavement. We did today, on CR 24, but it wasn't bad. Bill's looking slimmer and riding well. He and wife Julia are doing P90X, God bless 'em. Sounds too intense for me.

The appointed departure time was O-Dark Thirty, and I left the house with a blinky flasher attached to my jersey and was first to the meeting place. The bike was ready!


  The rider? Not so much.

Anyway, we got going with the Sun and made decent time in the pretty much all uphill starting 15 miles. Our first rest was at Posey Crossroads, a frequent water point on weekly club rides as well. As usual, Frank loaded up on water and ice. I got the bathroom key and UNloaded a couple gallons of coffee myself. We got there while the Sun was still pretty low, but the humidity was pretty high and we were sweating up a storm.

From here we had a relatively flat (actually some very long steady 1% and 2% grades) ride to Old Kingston and up to White City. Past White City we turned onto CR 24 which led to CR 37. Both were coarse for most of the way, but lightly traveled. The only dogs that came out just wanted to run with us, not at us, and there were not too many of those. Some pretty good climbs between White City and Billingsly and the final climb to the restaurant was a killer. You EARN your meal there, I tell you. You can see it at the top of the hill, and if you could smell the aroma I bet that would put new energy in tired legs, but you can't so we pushed on with what we had.  We were glad to pull in the parking lot and ditch our gear. I toweled off outside so as not to drip all over the furniture. Here's the gang doing the same. L-R it's Frank,Max, and Bill.

Kim, our server, and Miss Avon, the owner, were rich in southern hospitality and delightful to visit with. The menu certainly supported a large girth lifestyle, but we did not care. Frank asked for pancakes, not listed under breakfast, and they were happy to make him some. Ditto for bill. Max had an omelet the size of Texas and biscuit and gravy that would cover Oklahoma as well. He could not eat it all. I went with a Texas Toast sandwich containing bacon, eggs, cheese and mayo. Yummers. Frank bought one of the T-shirts they sell.

From there we rode the rollers of US 82 back towards Prattville. The road is fine, but a little more heavily trafficked than we like, and not much of a shoulder to stay on. We were glad to get off it at Booth and get back on rural roads. Unfortunately, the C-Store I planned on for our mile 50 rest/re-fill water bottles stop is closed up and the property is for sale. We ran on "dry" (as in out of water) for about 5 more miles to downtown Prattville and found a store there instead. By then the Sun was strong, the mercury high and we were all thinking how good a shower and change of clothes might feel! During a roadside pull off just before downtown, I heard a clink and noticed that my saddle stretching bolt (Selle Anatomica) had worked out and dropped to the ground! I'll have to look into that later. Good that it happened today, since this bike is going on vacation with me to VA (Tour De Valley Century, 9/5) and I don't want to be sitting on my seat post instead of the saddle then! I had all wool on today and I really liked the New Old Stock Kucharik shorts. They have a genuine leather chamois and it was super comfortable. It was the 1st wearing of a Brooks jersey (closeout at Ben's Cycles online) and I liked it pretty well, other than the embroidery chafed my chest a little. It may need a thin base layer. So, stats were 65.4 miles at 15.2 avg and we all felt pretty good.

Next week may be lunch at Toomer's in Auburn. There will be pictures , no matter where we dine!  I want to give a nod as well today to Jodee McCabe who is riding in the Pelotonia Ride in OH to support her husband Dan (Dan is a stage IV renal cancer patient) Jodee's (Joanne, more formally) ride page is here if you want to look at at, and it has her blog address as well for interested readers.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Middle of August Already! - Pictures added

August has been a good month so far for riding. Our local hill rides after work will wrap up at the end of the month, but I'll continue to ride solo doing laps in our neighborhood in the after dark hours as last year. Everyone who has been coming out and riding on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons has shown climbing improvement. Even me. I had a head start from my winter work, so I was usually leading the pack. Now, despite being almost 2 mph faster in avg speed than in April when we started, I've fallen back to last place as a rule. It bothers me a lot less than it used to though. My goal is to feel good about the ride, and generally that is how they are going. About a month ago, when others were showing serious improvement and dropping me, I got "serious" and lightened my "racy" bike as much as possible. No dice. Same results. Well, a little data review of all my rides on all 4 bikes showed that I ride about the same speed on ALL of them, no matter what they weigh (excluding the Saluki when fully loaded on tour). Breathing a sigh of relief, I knew I could just ride whatever I WANTED to and not feel like it was a concession of any kind. Life is good when you can relax about your choices.

Last Saturday was a new route in hilly Elmore and Autauga counties. I had committed to the church men's group breakfast, and decided to include it as a rest stop on a morning ride. 3 friends came along and we enjoyed a good talk about fathers and sons and tasty food along the way of our 100Km ride.  Max, who has been aboard Frank's borrowed road bike for about 3 weeks, is riding awesomely. He wad been riding with us on his MTB, and then tried slicks for the 1st time (eye opener there) and then a wow! when he had a racer under him. Frank's Scattante is set up nicely with TA Carminas and good running gear. Frank has a Bilenky and a Surly LHT as well, so he's not walking anywhere during the loan time.  Joe and Ray always ride well and this day was no exception. It was pleasant, if a bit humid to start, and warmed up as usual in the later morning. We were done by noonish though and off our bikes in the blazing Sun of the afternoon.

I made the Tuesday night hill ride, but skipped Thursday's. Both were well attended, given the heat, which was at or over 100F both days (as it has been the past 3 - 4 weeks!). Thursday was difficult at work. Our corp HR lady came up and laid off 3 people, and it got ugly with a family member of one of them who came to help box up personal items. I was stressed to begin with and that added to it. It would be great if an improving business climate would let us add staff instead.

Yesterday was the 2010 Multiple Sclerosis bike ride. This year, upstate, it was a one day event, 25, 45, 75, or 100 miles. With 102F, and a 3 hr drive following, I opted for 75 miles. As last year, I stayed at the Holiday Inn they were based out of. I remembered that I used to have a frequent stay account, and logged back in. I hadn't checked it since 2003! Lo and behold, there were enough points there for a free stay! So, I drove up Friday afternoon and didn't have to make the trip in the morning. I got jersey tag #9 which was kind of nice (it means I was a top 10 fund raiser last year. Much lower results this year, as people have less to donate with). Meeting up with people I met and rode with last year was cool. Nancy was wearing the Amici Veloci socks I gave her last year (I packed the jersey to wear, but they asked that we wear our fund raising "top banana" jerseys). Charley was on a Brooks leather saddle! Last year his bottom was hurting the whole ride, and I went on about how comfy a leather saddle can be. He said he was very pleased with his pre-aged B17. I rode the same bike as last year, Louise the Rambouillet, with the same Selle Anatomica saddle. Sharp eyed Nancy observed, "But your shorts have padding this year!) I wore plain Joneswares shorts in 2009, but a pair of Ibex Duo shorts was on top of the stack this time, so they were used.

The morning was delightful and the 1st 30 miles or so were on good roads, with no wind, decent humidity and not too hot. Pretty flat too. Just before and after the 30 mile rest stop, there was some tough climbing, followed by atrocious roads and extended distance between rest stops. This coincided with a spike in temperature to 102F, and cyclists not used to the conditions were hurting. Nancy, who I had generally been riding with, bagged it at 39 miles taking the SAG wagon home. I intended to continue on with Phillip, Sheryl and Laura, but we separated on the 1st big climb. I caught up with Ken who was really staggering, slipped ahead of him and pulled for him to get him to where he could rest under some shade trees, spending just enough time to be sure he was okay then went ahead and flagged down a SAG truck about 6 miles later to go back and get him. Caught up with Sheryl and Laura too (they passed me while I was stopped with another rider). Laura was hurting some, Sheryl was fine and said I could go on, which I did. Found a guy walking with his bike on his shoulder, and notified the SAG about him as well. The very coarse section was a bad choice for dehydrated, tired riders. Too easy to lose control. The 61 mile rest stop had some very hot and tired people trying to get cooled and re-hydrated. 22 miles was too far to spread the water points out in this kind of heat. I drained both water bottles in the interval and could have drank more. There was another rider sitting on a bench in front of a store, and I stopped to spend a few minutes with him and make sure he was okay. The final insult was a stiff headwind coming back the final 10 miles or so.

The good news is no cramps, or real heat problems for me. I averaged 14.6, but would have liked to be over 15. Given the conditions, that was probably okay. The bike did fine. 28mm tires this year instead of 37 and a standard Ultegra double crank instead of the Sugino Triple.

I expect they'll send around a comments email, and I'll suggest some ideas. Get someone who RIDES on the planning committee. 102F in August is a bad time for a ride like this, but put water stops closer together towards the end, when people need it more if you continue to do it in the hot weather. Start earlier. 8:00 is wasting some good cool riding time. 6:30 or 7:00 works better. If you say you'll start breakfast at 6:30, be ready then. Actually, I'd be fine if they skipped that and started earlier. I can find my own breakfast pretty easily. I almost went to Waffle House anyway. Consider the kinds of riders that do these events.  Find smoother pavement towards the end, it was bone jarring. A little more variety of food at the rest stops. The route marking system was good. The route was generally scenic.

The thought remains with me though that the challenges I faced on this ride pale next to what people with MS deal with, so I am not grousing all that much. Just a little :) Rhonda, Nancy, Terry, Chris, Annalea; I don't know if any of you will read this blog entry, but it was a pleasure and an honor to do this ride with you people in mind.

I did not bring my camera this year, but here are some taken by the event staff.

Before the ride. Rapha meets Chiquita?

With the APSO team. Rode with some of them again this year. Nancy has THE coolest "Top Banana" jersey.

Back at the start point after the ride. After the last 12 rough paved miles, leaving last year's fatter tires on might have been a good idea. The bike was great however.

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