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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

See You in September...

Remember that hit by The Happenings? The part that applies to this blog entry is "When the Summer's through." Sadly, my favorite time of the year has once again conceded its place to Fall, with shorter hours of daylight, and a more crowded calendar.
September went out in good order however. Last Saturday, I joined my old gang at the Club Lite ride, and we did 32 miles together. Along this stretch, I got the first flat I've had in 2 years. Everyone stopped to ask if I needed help. Some were happy to have a reason to take a break! As it happened, I was probably the best prepared person there to do a field repair of any kind, let alone quick change a tube. There seemed to be no puncture of the tire, and nothing sticking into the tube, so I put the new one in and got home just fine. When we got to the cars, we used it as a rest stop and several of us did another 23 miles. The sneaky thermometer inched up from the delightful 70s of the first part of the day to 99F mid way into that second loop, and a couple of riders were not happy about it! It was still great to see familiar faces and enjoy the camaraderie and Ann's soprano foghorn err, I mean singing.... :) I got home, patched the tube and it's still holding air a week later.

Today we did a "destination ride." Joe was supposed to introduce us to his new Rivendell Hillborne, but he had to cover for a sick co worker and passed on the ride. 5 of us went from Pintlala to Luverne for lunch, except that 1 of us, Ray pedaled to Pintlala from Prattville, adding 23 miles each way to his total. Way to go Ray! I carpooled with Max. Here we are while the weather is still sunny, although the humidity and heat were both higher than forecast. Front to back: Ray, Tim, Max, Angela.

We stopped at the 1/2 way point to our destination (at 18 miles) and tried to get salt out of our eyes.

It was a Shell station, and the young Indian girl behind the register was studying wold history. Her father said, "We hope she will be a big winner on Jeopardy!" That's a new retirement plan idea. I should look into that with our son. My original thought that he might go on the pro golf tour and I could caddy for him doesn't look too promising, since he has never played golf.
Angela pronounced the restroom "uninhabitable" and we found another venue to stop at on the return leg of the trip.

The traffic on the way there along US 97 and US 331 was not bad. US 331 has a narrow shoulder sufficient for bikes and which kept us out of the traffic lane, which we liked. While US 97 had a lot of elevation, US 331 was more gradual in inclines.
There were some things to see along the way. Here, The Clampett family gets a quick trip to the store in:

We got to Luverne (1st time for me) and discovered that they don't shoot strangers.

The building in the background is Smart AL LLC, a tier 1 or 2 supplier to Hyundai. I didn't know this was the location, but we shipped a project here from work back in June. It's a Korean company, just like the automaker is.

Soon, we made it to lunch destination:

I'd heard nothing but rave reviews of this place, and it did not disappoint. For $5, I got a home made 1/2 fried chicken (not greasy, dipped in flour, not batter) and choice of 3 veggies. I only took two, some really good green beans and delicious roasted seasoned potatoes. Lots more carbs than my usual, but fine for fuel, and I cooked off 3,600 of them today anyway. About double what I ate in total of all meals. No where to lock up our bikes, but they were all there when we were finished. Angela observed that the generally senior crowd, many using canes and walkers, was not likely to want our bikes. Everyone was, as the sign says, friendly.

You'll note the blue color in the picture above. Rain. Lots of it. We were still in Sun for a little while though. We pulled in at a store in Luverne to top off our water bottles, and a ribs skinny old pit bull wandered into the area. Tail wagging, he did not look like a threat. Ray wondered, "Will he leave us alone if I feed him?" and ran inside to buy a dog snack. I kid you not. Here is Ray offering "Bowwowser" some peanut butter crackers.

Another good Samaritan came out with a sack of dry dog food and poured some out. Guess which option the dog (now overcome with amazement at his new friend's unexpected largess no doubt) chose? If you picked Peanut butter, you are a winner. When last seen, the dog was trotting behind Ray back towards Prattville... No, actually, he stayed in the store parking lot.

We encountered some brisk headwinds generated by local storm cells, and of course, it was 14 mile upgrade on US 331 to Highland Home from Luverne. It was a steady 1% - 3% and very doable in a rhythm. Wet patches of road started to appear under our wheels and Max wisely chose the mid leg stop point. Just as we tucked in under the shed:

It eased a little, then poured some more, then eased a little, Finally, I said, "Let's go. I think we'll ride out of it in less than 3 miles." Which is what happened. Before we left I asked our restroom critic for a review of this place, but she said she was done checking out the facilities in dumpy looking places. It was a mob scene anyway. $2.39 a gallon for gas, against $2.59 everywhere else.

The rest of the way back was almost uneventful. A truck came up behind Max and Angela om US 97 and hit his horn needlessly which gave them a startle. I think the rest of the ride was actually very good. Angela's previous long ride was about 50 miles I think she told us. So in addition to being the 1st distaff member of the Prattville Randonneurs, she blasted through her own record for a new personal best. Way to go!  And she was plenty spunky at the end too:

Spunky, but her legs were tired :) 

Well, that's a wrap for the pictures. A few others will go on FaceBook. The stats: Rode the Saluki on Grand Bois Oursons. Li'l Loafer and Kevens bags, filled to the brim. Bike was great. Comfortable, sure footed on wet stuff. Fenders came in handy :) No trouble staying up with the others despite about a 18 lb weight penalty. We all took turns moving up and down the line. 74 miles +/-, 15.4 avg. 3,070' climbed. 78 avg cadence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sweet (Hot!) Home, Alabama

We rolled up the driveway this afternoon, following a stop at "Whole Foods Market" in Birmingham. Despite having been on the road for the better part of two days, when Sharon mentioned casually, that we would be passing close by it, I realized that this organic and fresh foods mecca was for her, what Rivendell World Hqs in Walnut Creek CA would be for me, were we passing "close by" on a trip to somewhere else. (For the non cyclist who may chance upon this blog, Rivendell is the brand of bike that i have 3 examples of, as well as all sorts of "lifestyle" items. In other words, excuses to shop their catalog/website) The Whole Foods concept probably would go over well in Walnut Creek anyway, and there was at least a good selection of tasty cheeses to sample.

The last ride of the vacation was on Wednesday. "Long lost" cousin Alan, with who I'd corresponded by email over the past year plus, offered to show me a local route and catch up on old family times. We met outside the hotel and headed to the Key Bridge, and then around Arlington on bike paths. Alan was a serious rider some time back, and still gets out several times a week. Here he is along a path on his Carbon (perish the thought!) Colnago. The ride was fun, but the heavy traffic and rooted bumps in the paths required a close eye on where I was going. Alan graciously commented on my bike handling skills later. Flattery will get you everywhere, Cuz :)

Later that evening, Sharon and I met him and his loevly wife kelly for a rooftop dinner at Perry's in the Kalorama area of the city. It being a nice night, we walked to the meeting place since it was only 6/10 of a mile away. I think he sort of looks like my Uncle Arthur, back when he was slimmer. Here is Arthur, on a bike of course, but in ETO WWII. Arthur is on the left.

We enjoyed the visit. For me, being unhurried was the key. A day at Monticello, another at Mt. Vernon. A full afternoon at the Holocaust Museum. Using the Metro, but not running to make a train. Leisurely meals at the Open City Diner, which we loved. We got along great separately and together.  I know it went well for Sharon too, because she told me to start looking for a 2011 bike ride we could tag a vacation onto. Just, maybe October when it's cooler. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday in DC

Today's ride was a meet up with a local DC area group, the Oxon Hill Bike Club. 2 members are also on the Rivendell Owners Bunch list, which is how we all connected for this ride. I pedaled from our hotel near the zoo to Arlington Cemetery. I left early being 100% unsure of where I was going and what it might be like along the way. Switching the Garmin to map mode, I found the Rock Creek Bike Parkway Path and took it south. Realizing I would be early, I ambled along so I could take in all the sights and sounds. Even so, I was faster than most of the cars stacked bumper-to-bumper in the late morning rush hour. There are bike paths EVERYwhere around here it seems, and you get where you're going faster on them than by car, and they are FREE to park, while cars are usually not. End of discussion. When I saw something cool, I stopped to snap a pic. (Higher res versions at Flickr. Fullylugged, of course.)

The Lincoln Memorial

The entry to the bridge to Arlington:

The Potomac River:

The headstones at Arlington and the Marine Memorial

Finally, I waited at the Metro stop for Joan and she came by to get me and drive down to Bryans Rd for the club ride. We all signed in at the ride start

And then pedaled off on a great route that was scenic, relaxing and fun.

Joan and Steve were great company. Some pics of us:

All of us have 650B bikes. Steve and I both rode Pascenti Pari-Motos today (38mm) while Joan had Nifty-Swifties (34 mm) on her Bleriot. Steve's Kogswell is nicely decked out with Phil hub wheels, Tubus and V-O racks and other goodies. Nice Berthoud boxy bag too.

We share a taste for hammered honjo fenders (mine are on the Saluki) and other bits here and there.

The ride had a few ups, only one that makes you breathe hard (or downshift, or in my case, both) but was mostly flat. 1/3 of it was on a brand new rail trail that has been nicely executed and well maintained. It would be great to have one like that in Prattville, let me tell you. With the ride to and from the meeting point, I had just over 41 miles today. Sightseeing and riding too!

 We topped it all off with a fine brunch at a working diner in Bryans Road. Randall says this place is like "Happy Days" (Arnold's, I assume) where people come in to gather, chat, read the paper, etc.

Here are Joan, Rabbi (and Tai Chi instructor!) Randall, and Jim. We rehashed the ride, talked about their upcoming club century (they expect up to 600 riders) and so forth. Fun people, hope to see them again.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tour de Valley - Waynesboro VA

Since the original blog post, the Tour De Valley organizers have posted some pictures they took of the riders on the web.
Here are a few of me and the other BJers. First up is BeerTruck

Then Fullylugged

Here's Dplex (On the right, in blue kit)

A couple of months ago, some folks on, where I log my riding stats, and occasionally peruse the forums, and even less occasionally post (my screen name there is "Fullylugged") announced a 2010 reunion in western Virgina. The idea was to add a group specific dinner to an existing local ride event. While the website has over 40,000 "members" and maybe a tenth of that many who are active, there have not been hordes attending the prior year gatherings. 40 or so is I think the current record. Additionally, none of the organizers are especially outre in any regard, politically galvanizing or otherwise likely to attract a crowd of gawkers. I decided that this event was geographically close enough to get to, and the online community was enough excuse for me to run the idea of me using a couple of vacation days up the flagpole with Sharon. To my surprise, she was good with my going to the ride, and added that we could take the ensuing week and risk the future of our lives as a couple by vacationing with just each other. It's been about 23 years since that last happened! Expert Googler and travel planner, she found us rooms in TN, VA and Washington DC, and signed us up for Montpelier, Mt Vernon, and other area things to see.

We drove 1/2 the way up on Friday, in no particular hurry, which is a good way to travel. We got to Waynesboro VA on Saturday several hours before the dinner and were able to relax and get ready. Dinner was at Scotto's, an italian restaurant owned by actual Italians. The food was very good. I laid off the carbs of course. No one else did. Here is the BikeJournal crowd:

We enjoyed meeting everyone but did not really learn a lot about them. Other than that they all ride faster than I do. After dinner, we returned to the hotel and I got my gear in order for Sunday. Not knowing anything about this ride, I packed enough food for the whole day, in case they had nothing that I could eat, as well as Nuun tablets and salt.
I lubed the chain and the shifters, pumped up the tires (just like MC Spandex in this classic: Not sue about the time zone change affecting me, I set the alarm for 5:00 AM.  No worries, I was up 5 mins before it went off.

I grabbed a bagel and coffee in the Residence Inn lobby, walked outside to test the temperature - 48F- and went back upstairs to get ready to ride. Short sleeve wool jersey with club arm warmers (took them off at the 2d - of two- rest stop), Ibex knee warmers and shorts, wool socks, sneakers, and a Rapha cap under the helmet and I was good to go. I put a blinky on the back and a headlight on the front and rolled the bike out the front door.

It was only 4 miles to the ride start, so I pedaled over. Got there in plenty of time and picked up my packet and T-shirt. It was still dark.

The Sun was up soon and the good turn out of riders had a beautiful, if nippy day to start riding in.

The ride start was at a park down at the bottom of the valley and so we started the day with a climb. I climbed faster than I should have and soon realized that I would burn out if I did not slow down some. Eventually I found a good pace, although this is a hillier route than I normally ride at home. Where our local rides go up and down 450 - 600' at a go, this ride goes up and down 1,000' in places. I saw a few online people out on the road, as they passed me. Mostly, I kept company with a very pleasant local fellow, a member for the hosting Milepost Zero Bike Club, named Paul. Here he is grinding up a grade that basically went from mile 30 to mile 40. I kid you not.

The ride was far lovelier than my pictures can show. The green was denser, the sun more golden, etc.  Here are a couple of typical pictures. We went up one side of the valley, rode the ridge, went down, up the other side, and rode the ridge back to just outside of town where we dropped down and came in on some flat and rollers mixed.

Overall, I had just at 70 miles and 4,300' of climbing. Avg pace was 14.9. My legs feel well worked!  The Pascenti Pari-Motos were super on the coarse rural roads, running at 65 psi. They handled fast descending esses confidently, and continue to be flat free. It was good to have brought a bike with a triple. This ride had many climbs in the 9% - 15% grade range. A new sports drink maker was supplying the free beverages, Vemma Brand Verve!  It did not impress me. The marketing guy was blah-blahing about how sugar free and healthy it is and a DOCTOR help concoct it (Duh!) but when I looked at it later on line, I saw the sugar in it and decided to stay with G2 or Propel.

It was a great ride, which we followed with a visit to the Charlottesville open air Mall and a great dinner at a local place we found using an iphone app called "Yelp!" Tomorrow: Monticello and Montpelier. Tuesday: ride with the Oxon Hill club in MD. Weds, ride in DC with my cousin Alan. Sounds great so far!

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