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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting ready for Mt. Cheaha

In two weeks, the "usual suspects" (to quote Claude Rains) will try their pedals at climbing the tallest point in the state. Our goal is the burger shop at the top. Our longer weekend rides haven't been as hilly lately, so we rode a route with some elevation this afternoon. Trying to get our minds used to climbs again, as much as our quads and leg biceps. Today's route was a mashup of roads we've been on before, some not frequently or recently, but all in a new configuration. I think it went pretty well, all in all. A stiff steady wind was blowing out of the SSW in advance of a frontal system due to bring rain this way by tomorrow. We got plenty of work trying to maintain our pace in the face of 15 - 20 mph blows. I hoped for some fall foliage to admire as well. I think the most colorful tree seen all day was on our front lawn. Here's the Autumn blaze that Alex and I planted 3 years ago. (Click on a picture to see a larger version)

Posing with the tree is the Saluki, in CX (Cyclocross) mode. the racks and fenders are off to enable some serious cleaning action. 2 summers of salty sweat have left their mark. So far, some automobile wheel cleaner is helping, but it's not perfect.

I pedaled to the meeting point and then the three of us took off into the wind, on the mostly flat and rolling 1st half of the ride.

As you can see, everything here is pretty green still.

We paused just shy of 28 miles at Heritage Park downtown, and refilled our water containers from the always-on artesian fountain. I mixed some Nuun electrolyte tablets into mine and had a Quaker Oats grain bar for some energy (I eat one of these an hour on average during a ride). Frank caught me in the middle of all that.

Joe is looking much more in the Rivendell riding style philosophy now. Here he is by the still new Sam Hillborne.

And Frank too at the same rest stop. Looks fresh and hardly exercised at all.

We finally come across some more colorful trees out on Golson Rd.

But still nothing to write home about.

Between the wind and the hills, we got plenty of work out. Mr. Garmin says we climbed 2,200', spent the same # of calories (or at least I did) and our moving average was 14.2, right about center of the posted range (13 - 15) for this outing. I think that with less headwind, we might have been 1 0r 1.5 mph faster, but the climbing would still be there to slow us down.

I was glad to get out, and and re determined to get out and do hill laps during the week after work. We'll see how that goes.

Tailwinds for now

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's Been a Very Nice Riding Season

Today was my 20th ride of 100KM (a "metric century" for you non-riders. About 62 miles and a bicyclist's benchmark.) this year. I hoped for 12 which is more than I did last year. 20 is more than I have ever done. Max, Doug and I also all got Century rides in as well (100 miles or more), with Max doing about 3 of them so far this year. In a couple of weeks, we're driving up to Mt. Cheaha, the highest spot in Alabama, to climb it on our bikes and eat lunch (of course!) at the top. Our cycling horizons have certainly expanded. I reflect on those rides, and the out of state trips as well, VA and D.C. and the new cycling friends made this year, and am overtaken with thankfulness for being able to have experienced all of it. Not every mile has been effortless, but every mile has helped me be a better cyclist. To put it in the context of the Apostle James, headwinds and hills, and rough pavement and unexpected detours all work to perfect me (in the quaint King James style of speech, for I am not perfect in anything, especially cycling) as a rider, and as a person too. I've learned to listen better to my body, and to the conversation and mannerisms of others. I'm more patient and I enjoy the good stuff and savor it.

In that last vein, I did not want this morning to end. The sky was so blue, the light so golden, the trees so vivid green with just a touch of Autumn color it took my sense of time away. The winds were light and the pedaling easy, and I could have stayed in that moment along CR 21 heading to Marbury for far longer than it actually took to get there. My skill with a camera is poor, but here is a picture to give some idea of the day.

Frank is looking natty in his Rivendell MUSA knickers. The day was cold to start (44F according to Accuweather) and we shed some clothes by the time we got to our 1st rest stop at Poseys. For me that meant only removing my arm warmers. Later, I opened my jersey zipper, but that's all I could do. Fortunately, the wool base layer and jersey combo handled the increase in temperature during the day with aplomb. I came home to 80F, and was sweating more, but nothing serious.

We went to visit the Confederate war dead at the memorial park in Chilton County. Lots of picnics setting up as we rode in. The soldiers there died years later in in old age homes, and from the headstone dates, looks like many fell during the flu epidemics of the early 20th century.

We paused enough to get a pic of the BIKES of course;

My Rivendell Road Standard is on the left, Frank's custom Bilenky is on the right. My saddle was overstretched by the previous owner (It came from the RBW owners list) so I did a hack-fix that seems to be working out well. I bought a longer bolt at Home Depot and it has so far worked. The saddle is 1" longer than it should be now.

And here I am in a Brooks jersey. Overpriced of course, but not when on closeout at Ben's Cyclery. This is a model from a few years ago, but it was new in the bag. I like it! Now if I could keep my helmet on straight, that would be nice...

It's all wool today. Baselayer, jersey, Kucharik (lightly padded) shorts and defeet wooleater socks. All good stuff. Those are 38mm tires on the blue bike as well. At 65 psi, fast and very smooth over rough roads. We hit plenty of coarse pavement today too.

Frank and I split up in Millbrook, as he turned toward home and I took a quick break under the drive through canopy at Millbrook Presbyterian. A friend, Kathleen drove up and she had a key to get in, which was good since I needed to find a rest room pretty soon anyway. From there it was just 6 more miles back to the house. All in all, 70.1 miles at 14.7 avg with 3,047' of climb. About 1 mph faster than when I rode the shorter version of this rout back in May. Which is to say, about 8%. I'm happy about that and not feeling dead to the world as well.

Until next time, tailwinds!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Champ's BBQ Ride

What a gorgeous day today! 58F at our 8:00 AM start here in Prattville, and climbing during the day to about 84F by the time we got back around 1:00 PM. We did a 70.5 mile trip to Wetumpka, including the Weoka Loop area and stopped for lunch at, anyone? anyone? Buehler? Yes, Ben Stein, Champ's BBQ. It was just Frank and Ray and I for the whole trip. Joe was at the parking lot, but had "issues." Compare this picture with the one from last week's post, and see if you can find all the items that Joe did not bring to the ride today.

Despite offers to replace the items, he decided his mood was ruined and he headed back home. Probably to cheer himself up by watching the Alabama - South Carolina game. How did that go, Joe?

The ride was generally excellent with a mix of flat and hilly terrain, low humidity and abundant sunshine. I took Louise, the Rambouillet today. I also rode in un-padded wool shorts today and liked it much better on a comfy leather Selle Anatomica saddle. My legs were sore from an attempt at running last night. I say attempt because I didn't get far. It's funny how running and riding use different muscles. So, I'll probably sneak out early tomorrow and try again to make it all the way around the block at a trot. MapMyRide and Google Maps both had an error on the route. They showed a side road crossing of the Coosa River, but such a pathway does not exist, clearly marked "Dead End" by the D.O.T.  Instead, we dropped down to AL 14 for a mile, crossed and returned to quiet side roads. Some of the roads we encountered in the 20 ish mile Weoka loop area were very coarse. Although I let air out of my 28 mm Contis (from 116 down to 85 psi) the ride was still harsher than say, Pari-Motos would be. We got past those sections and the rest of the time the tires were good. No one had a flat today, despite the time we spent on the shoulder and along the lane edges. No camera today, as I traveled light. Avg pace was just under 16 today which is decent for me and why I needed two Advils upon returning home.

We all agreed that Champ's is recommended eating. On US 231 in Wetumpka, about 3 miles north of the AL 14 Bypass.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Prattville iROBs

That's Internet Rivendell Owner's Bunch, to everyone else.

  Just a short post today. Frank (Bilenky) Ron (Blackhawk classified two wheeled apparatus) and Curtis (Still repping for the largest bike maker in the USA) met Joe's newest best pal, Sam Hillborne, today for a 33 miler in a brisk wind, but bright sunshine. Gorgeous bike, and the paint looks way better in person than in pictures. It is deeper and redder than it shows. Joe has also made the leap from spandex to comfortable shorts too.

So far, he likes the bike a lot. We both are running Pari-Moto tires, his at 70 psi and mine at 60. That must be why, as I was cranking along at 22 mph, he PASSED me doing at least 25. I take solace knowing that my tires were more "supple" over the bumps. NOT. I should add that this was in the tailwind portion of the ride. So the population of RBW owners in our little neck of the woods has just doubled, as far as we know.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Keep them dogies movin'"

No ride today. I was a bike wrangler. It's not that different than herding/driving cattle in large groups from one place to the next. Therese casually asked if I'd like to help at the Coosa River Challenge this year. ( ) It's a sort of triathlon. Running (through woods), mountain biking, and canoe/kayaking are the 3 disciplines, and there are some special challenges along the way. A compass course in the woods, a mud pit to be navigated, a rock wall to climb, etc. The finishers I spoke with LOVED it. About 270 pre registered, and 100 volunteers helped at the various venues.

I pulled a shift as a general laborer last year from about 6:30 AM to Noon. I figured I was in for the same until Steve emailed me to say, "Meet me at the rental trucks at 4:40 A.M."  (that's ante meridian, O-dark forty, in other words) When I got there (30 mins away from my house) I was a fw minutes early, and the only activity was the burglar light in the yard tripping on and off as possums and raccoons scurried around looking for tasty scraps to steal. There were 2 U-hauls loaded to the gills with mountain bikes dropped off by early registrants. We gulped our coffee and hauled them up to the staging area. Then the trucks  went back to the registration area and picked up the bikes which came today, as they arrived. Having laid 100 bikes out on the ground, some of which were $6,000 a pop, we wondered, "shouldn't one of us stay and WATCH these?" It was 50F out, and cold, and only I had a jacket on. I offered to take the pull on sentry duty.

 All in all, 5 trucks worth of bikes had to be loaded, hauled and unloaded. After announcements by the race director and a welcome from the mayor, and an invocation by I know not who, the racers all were bused up to the staging area. They were divided by gender, individuals and teams, etc.  Here is what the mayhem looked like prior to the start.

we had just two celebrity riders:

They ran first, then transitioned to bikes, then to a street run down to the boat launch and then to the boats. As they came in from the bike portion, we loaded the bikes, and now also the gear bags, BACK on the trucks and hauled them back down to the park where the boat portion would end and laid them out again:

I seem to have gained a reputation as the truck packer of choice. Rumor has it that we would need 1 less truck overall if I packed them all. Rowdy Yates would have been proud, I am sure.  I wonder what job I'll draw next year?

Kudos to my around the corner neighbor and sometimes riding buddy Rich B. Rich and his team placed well, and he rode the tough MTB route on his single speed. He rides a single speed (Colnago) road bike too, but that's no so unusual. Kudos also to the race organizers who clearly juggled a lot of variables and rounded up plenty of help to make this a great event. My co-laborers in the wheel wrangling world were great. Steve, Johan and Cedric mainly, but also the Maxwell AFB students who showed up and pitched in. My favorite part of the day? On our way back for the third load of bikes in the afternoon, when Cedric turned to me and said, "I think we can stop at Champ's BBQ for some lunch to go. What do you think?"  The pulled pork was mighty tasty, that's what I think. Could a destination for a long ride out of Prattville, in fact.

Hope to persuade my resistant brain to get into enjoying mid week hill repeats (did them this week, did NOT like them, especially in the stiff headwinds) and of course, get in a ride next Saturday. Starting to think in terms of a tweed ride this month too. I posted to our club email list to see if anyone would come if I organized one. You know, casual ride (tweed wear of course) refined demeanor, haute cuisine and spirits. That sort of ride. No replies as yet. I may have to travel to ride in fine Harris wool.

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