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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring Teaser

After weeks of mornings with lows in the 20's, yesterday (Saturday) started at 38F and the forecast called for a meteoric mercury climb to 70! I had comitted already to help our son relocate some of his bulkier possessions from our house/garage to a storage unit (that we made him rent!) in preparation for his move out and marriage later this year. Also to make room for some things we want to do with the inside of the house. So, a mission style entertainment set, a dryer, a work bench, and assorted smaller items joined his torch kit and tools, already moved over by car. For today, he rented a U-Haul and bewteen 8:00 and 10:30 AM, we got it done.

U-Haul Truck. Nice V-10 under the hood! 300 lbs of welded steel work benchThe Master of His Domani


That left plenty of time for lunch and getting a ride together.  I sent out an email, and then had some delicious Hamburger-Broccoli Alfredo casserole that Sharon left for me before heading off to labor in Fl for 2 weeks. ( )  This stuff is de-lish! In fact all the recipes tried out from this site have been excellent. (For those who don't know, I've been on Atkins Maint Phase for about a year now. It helps with weight control and also blood sugar and cholesterol #s. As Atkins writes in "DANDR" - Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution - I do add carbs when engaging in prolonged cardio activities like a spirited bike ride. Usually something like a granola or breakfast bar with up to 1/2 the carbs in sugar and the rest in grains about once an hour. It's far fewer calories than are being burned by the ride, which uses up about 50 per mile. I would bonk without them. Not needed though for easier rides or any of the muscle building exercises I do during the week. Anything in HR zones 1 or 2 in other words, while zones 3 & up require some added carb boost.) 

After lunch I went out to the garage to put the fenders back on the Saluki, which I intended to ride today. They were removed to better clean them up. Salty sweat drips over the several summers that the bike has been here had oxidized the aluminum and formed "white rust."  Maguiars aluminum rim paste seemed to help, but did not do a perfect job.

In any event, there was some delay while I located all the clips and the special "Daruma" nut required to install these fancy Japanese hammered Honjos. Back when I disassembled it all, I put everything away carefully, where I would be SURE to find it. Right. Anyway, while I was at it, the time seemed right to change the tires just to have a different feel. Grand Bois Oursons have been on since the Fall of 2009 when the bike went from KY to the MS-TN border on the MS River trail, and since buddy Joe had put Maxy Fastys on HIS bike, I had to keep up. There happened to be a pair in the garage stock so I put them on. Well, FIRST I put on a Speedblend, but the wire bead was all mucked up and it was too much trouble to get it to seat on the rim. I decided to leave fixing that to a rainy day. I installed the folding Maxys (no tools needed. Gotta love a folding 650B!) and quickly pumped them up. 55 - 75 is the range, and 65 works well for me. Went inside to change and check emails. When I came back out and jumped on the bike to pedal it out the Yukon parked along the curb, it went "squish."  Uh oh. Rear tire was flat. Poked a hole in it when changing the tire, I guess!

Shiny Fender - Flat Tire The good news is that there were 3 other bikes in the garage to choose from. Since I was pressed for time, instead of putting in a tube (why is it ALWAYS the back tire? Is it just ME?) I took Louise the Rambouillet down off her hook and put her in the car. Chad, Donna, Jacob and Jean were all no shows at the meeting point, but Clarence, Pete and Autumn were there and Frank soon joined us. Autumn rode with us about a year ago, maybe more, and is just back on the bike following her return from deployment in Iraq. She's Air Force. The temperature was up around 70F and the weather was perfect for a ride, other than a brisk breeze blowing from the WNW. While we were still getting ready, a rider on a Harley-Davidson came to a stop at the corner light and the bike promptly fell over on its side. He braked suddenly and the handlebars turned to the right, causing the bike to fall on its left side. He remained sort of astraddle, trying to pull the bike up while sitting on it. Having ridden a number of cyles in my younger years, I figured this guy was NOT an experienced rider. He had paid $$$ for a big bike, had a leather vest, and the 1/2 way down your head style cap helmet, and thought he could ride. Anyway, I shouted, "Do you need help?" and he nodded emphatically yes. I ran out from the lot across the street and told him we needed to get some leverage on his bike. (When I was just starting to ride many years ago, I had a friend help me lay my own bike on its side when I got it and made sure I knew how and could pick it back up again. It was smaller, but the idea is the same) We got it upright while cars slowed down and thankfully did not hit us. He said he was okay when asked and (motor still running all the while) he drove off. The gas tank took a dent from the smack down, but he can get that fixed/replaced. The handlebar seemed true, which is helpful for steering!

Following the minor excitement, and always glad of blog material, we set off for 33 miles to the Slapout Boys Store. Clarence quickly decided he wasn't feeling quite as perky as he thought, and called me to say he opted for a turnaround at about mile 7. He still got some miles in and fresh air. Not bad at all.  Here are Pete, Autumn and Frank all as we headed north on Rucker Rd.

Pete rocking a new compact on the GiantAutumn and Frank enjoying the rideWearing my birthday jersey

I also wanted a shot to show Sharon that I wore my birthday short sleeve Vittadella jersey. This was the 1st day warm enough since she gave it to me in November to wear it again. It was perfect. Not too hot when the temp crested at 74F and not too cool as it rapidly dropped following the Slapout store stop. I packed arm warmers, but did not need them.  The sky really was as blue as the picture shows. It won't last however. Rain is scheduled to set in for a few days and then colder temps again.

The ride was fine. WIth only about 645' total elevation, only the wind held down our pace. We ended with a bit over 15 as an average, nice for so early in the year, and more than that, I felt really good. Except for the foot cramps. I didn't add salt to the Propel today and should have. With the warmer air and perkier pace, sweat and salt loss was higher than it has been on the recent cold days. As usual, riding free (no cleats or clips) meant that I could move my foot around and press out the cramps, never needing to stop and only slowing a mph or two for a few minutes. If the weather permits, we'll get in a beginner ride today at 2. If not, there's a tube in the garage that needs a patch....





Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just like Dean Martin, the desire to stay indoors was strong Saturday morning. ( ). Each time an email arrived from a prospective rider (Bill R, Joe M, Bill W) bowing out for one reason or another (instead of fessing up to cold weather aversion) my own thoughts ran along the same lines. Fortunately, Tom, Frank, and Birmingham visitor, Will Hill all were still on for the ride, so I HAD to show up. It was 28F and calm as the Sun rose, but winds were forecast for the day. The damp air persuaded me to dress warmer than last week. I went with a substantial Spot (Canadian brand) jersey over a turtle neck Joneswares base layer up top, unpadded wool Joneswares shorts under heavy vintage Italian wool tights below, wool socks inside Sealskinz on my feet and Ibex wool gloves. Keeping my head warm was a Rivendell wool cap and a merino ear band. I went for a test ride at 6:30 and was still too cold, especially on any sort of downhill run, so I went back and added a lightweight ("Randonneurs of China" design from  ROCn Jeresy  ) wind jacket.

At 7:40 I rolled out the door and pedaled up to our meeting location where Will Hill was getting ready, Tom was standing in the Sun, arms outstretched, like a cormorant, warming itself with wide open wings.

Tom's role model As it happens, I did not get a picture of Tom doing a bird pose...

As it turned out, I was possibly the most lightly clad of the group, other than Ron, who wore just his shorts today. Since he pedals at 125 rpm, his knees generate their own warm air zone, and he apparently needs no added protection. Or that's what he'd like us to believe.  Here are the others at a 4-way stop in Coosada, as we waited for Ron to reconnect with us.

Bundled up in the cold

My suggestion of heading north into the hills from the start while the air was calm did not meet with general agreement, so we started off in the other direction. By the time we turned north on Coosada Parkway, the NW wind had already picked up, and there were no hills to block it. The wind served to slow us down, but it was great training, if cold. Like hills, the more headwind you ride into, the less it bothers you to do it.

Today's ride was pretty uneventful. Frank and I trundled along at our usual pace, although at times I lagged back some distance. Tom and Will Hill ran on ahead and then waited at some convenient point for us to catch them. Will Hill is a lawyer in Birmingham and was on his "rat bike" today (Titanium-Carbon Ritchey Breakaway) He lolled most of the day in 53/11 I think, even up the rollers we encountered. WIll Hill LOOKS like a real rider. Everything is correct about his bike and gear and fits properly. After about 2/3 of the ride though (but only 500' of the 2,600' of climb on the route!) he announced that he needed to tear back down to his car to get to another committment with his wife. Too bad he missed the fun part! We pointed him in the direction he needed to go, and he probably still got in about 50 miles, even if it was just easy rollers down US 31.

By the way, I was on my "rat bike" too. A '95 Rivendell that could use a paint job, and with a saddle that I hack-fixed, but whose leather top occaisionally pops off the nose and needs to be replaced on a ride. It's so comfortable though! (I bought it used and the 1st guy over stretched it. I bought a longer bolt and got it back in servce, but my Home Depot bolt lacks the retainer pin on the bolt head needed to secure the nose piece. It does a decent enough job)

Temps were just a little warmer at Posey's (our 3rd and last store stop) so we took off some layers. Frank took his mid layer off but replaced his jacket. I took my jacket off and was cold until the moisture in my clothes had dried out (about 5 mins on the road) and was fine from then on)

Tom and Frank at Posey'sMan In Black!


You can see that I tried the Sealskinz OVER my tights today and that worked out very nicely. No shoe covers are needed. I think on my next shorter outing, I'll try Sheldon Brown's idea of double wool socks in just sandals. Leafing through an old Bicyle Quarterly, I see a picture of him on a snowy day looking happy with just that set up. Although we saw Ron some in the 1st 1/4 of the ride, he took some alternate roads and we did not cross paths again. A later email assured that he enjoyed his outing and made it home safely.

A bit over 64 miles for this ride, at 13.5 average (more than 1/2 the way into a stiff breeze). 2,600' of total climb.  HR avg around 146 and I was over 160 a lot more than I'm accustomed, but did not feel exhausted by it. Maybe my cardio capacity is improving? It was my legs that hurt today on the climbs, but gearing down and just easing on up the inclines was the solution. The more I ride, the better that situation will be. I am happy to have the 1st Metric Century of 2011 done. Tom is happy to have his 1st Metric Century ever done. Way to go, good buddy! We'll get you to a full century this year for sure. We'll have to pick the cuisine we want to ride to first, though. Frank was happy to have an easy ride after his 200 Km  brevet last week down in Jacksonville.

Got a beginner ride Sunday afternoon, so a recovery ride for me, and an introduction to cycling for some new people. Good stuff!



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Half Century Ride

After a long series of rides up in hilly Autauga and Elmore counties, it was time to revisit our old riding grounds in south Montgomery county. I looked over my stored routes on MapMyRide and noticed that a ride mapped in 2009 had not been ridden since. Largely based on the club metric century, it's trimmed to 50 miles and included 2 possible store stops and a church that is sometimes open on Saturdays and when not, has a spigot behind a hedge that we know how to get water from. 29F degrees this morning did not dissuade us, but I was careful to do a better job dressing than last week. The wind jacket (it was VERY windy) also served to make my clothes soaking wet, and I did not want a repeat of that. The air was calm, and I went with double layer wool. Wooly Warm L/S base layer under a heavy Pearl Izumi wool jersey (It's too scratchy to wear without one anyway) up top and Pearl Izumi tights over Ibex shorts down below. Feet had wool socks inside Sealskinz inside larger-than-usual shoes and hands had Ibex wool gloves. A wool Riv cap and a merino ear band completed preparations. The ear band came off at the 1st stop, but everything else stayed on, and was needed, all day. It worked out great, I stayed dry and warm.

Pete came by to pick me up and we met Joe, Steve and Tom down at the church parking lot in Pintlala. Bilee and Patty were there, getting ready to launch on a training ride. They planned the same mileage as us, but in 1/2 the time. They were long gone when we got back to the cars. We old slow guys took off and any chill I felt was gone within the first mile as we warmed to the task of pedaling our bikes. Here are Joe and I at the 1st stop, about 16 miles out, Mt. Carmel Church, which was open today for people doing things inside.

Joe & Bruce at Mt. Carmel Church

You can see my Rambouillet in front and Joe's Hillborne behind. we LOVE our bikes. Tom's Madone lies between us, and he was the picture taker. Hard to see in this picture, but Joe has blue cable housings and blue bar tape on his orange Hillborne. Tough to figure, because his jacket shows his true colors, Georgia Bulldogs! Look at his bike though and it's "Go Gators!" Oh, is there another team with the same colors? Here we are coming up to stop sign regroup. I'm not saying Rivs are slow bikes, but the two riders were generally bringing up the rear today.

Pair of Rivs on the road

It's a good thing that I ate a Nutri-Grain bar here, because when we made our store stop 6 miles later, we found out it was closed. Whether for the winter or due to the economy, we did not know. But we figured we could make the water on board last another 22 miles to the next store opportunity. On our way there, a small herd of deer ran alongside us for a while including some nicely racked bucks, does and fawns. Much faster than we were, and disappeared into the trees rapidly. I also came up on a young red tailed hawk and got a close up look before it flew off. Dogs were no problem today.

There was plenty of climbing today, around 2,500' and the calm air gave way to a good headwind for 12 of the last 16 miles, so we all had a good workout, and appreciated our breathers when they came. Here are Steve and Pete. No pics of Tom today, sorry fella!

Steve and Pete at rest stop

We had plenty of coarse roads, but traffic was generally light, and at only 85 psi in 28 mm tires, the road buzz was tolerable. Better for Joe on his 34s. Can't speak for the skinny tire riders.

So, 51 miles at 14 mph avg and about 2,500' of climb. I really feel the absence of mid week rides and HAVE to get that going again, to make Saturdays more enjoyable. I jumped on the wagon train going up Hobbie Rd for a brief spell and it depleted me so rapidly, I was shocked. I spent the next 5 miles slowly pulling myself into the wind, before regrouping and getting some zip back upon eating granola bars at the last stop. That's twice now in the past two weeks that I've felt better late in the ride than at the start.

And I'm missing the Sunday relaxer rides too. Maybe I can fix that next Sunday!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

When does this get easier?

I found myself asking Joe that as the sounds of our deeply drawn breaths paced our pedal cadence on one of the many steep ups on yesterday's ride. After 4,000 miles +/- last year, shouldn't this be EASY by now? The answer is, it never gets easy. But you find yourself doing rides that you would not have considered before, and yesterday, I actually found myself getting stronger as the day wore on. Go figure. I should have let some other hardy soul take the first pull into the very stiff breeze and done my heavy lifting once the leg muscles had loosened and limbered.

It was sunny and cool, but not cold and very windy. I'd ridden all of the roads before, but not in this particular combination. We would have flat into the wind, 2,000+ ft of climbing with 14% grades, and even a short section of dirt road to navigate. It was a super workout. Before the ride, I attended this month's men's breakfast at Ryan's. That's one of those all you can eat buffet places, but with the quality of the food, you don't want to eat all that much. I ate a slice of toast along with bacon and eggs for pre ride carbs, in lieu of the usual NutriGrain bar. I only needed one trip to the buffet. Even the coffee was pretty bad. The men, on the other hand, were great. Alex came and we all heard a good talk on self control. Counsel that works in so many situations in life. Here we are paying close attention as Steve delivers the message. Sharp eyes will note the Rapha gents cap on the table.

Men's Group Breakfast

I wore my bike stuff under some track pants and it was easy to reconfigure after eating and meet up with the other guys. They were all bundled up pretty well, but I didn't dress all that heavily, and from the sweat soaked stuff I peeled off later, I could have gone lighter. The route started off with a tailwind for 2 miles but then we turned into it for what seemed like an eternity. 15 steady and gusts to maybe 20. Flags out straight and when it hit you coming unobstructed off a barren winter crop field, you felt it. I stayed on the middle ring and tried to maintain cadence. After a much appreciated store stop, we continued on for an easier part of the ride before climbing Indian Hills. Zach was easily the cool looking one of the group. And the only one not close to retirement age either.

Zach at the AL 14 store

Familiar to our legs, it was just work. Instead of the cut off, this time we climbed the steeper pitch near the end of the road and then rolled around to downtown Prattville to take break # 2.

Tom snapped this picture of Joe, me, Pete, and Zach (L - R)

4 riders on Wadsworth Loop

Leaving Dismukes store, we again had wind AND an uphill climb. By the time we reached our turn, CR 85, Tom had sprinted on ahead. None of us was up to chasing him down, so we rested while waiting for Tom to notice he was doing a solo and come back to look for us. By 5 minutes time he breezed on back and we all headed up the hard pan dirt on CR 85. About 3/4 of mile in, it turned to coarse old paving. Both surfaces were best ridden by Joe and I on our fat rubber than the crabon/skinny tires folks, but everyone made it. Then the road got steep with a long climb including 2 stretches at 14% and a steady 9% - 10%. I think all of our legs were talking to us. I know mine were. Crossing Upper Kingston, we were on a familiar section of CR 85 but still uphill when we came upon about 4 dogs at once, from both sides of the street. 3 got out my way, but 1 pain in the butt got a hold of my Baggins saddlebag and yanked the bike sideways. He was a big 'un, I'm guessing a Lab and Pit bull mix. I was thoroughly irritated at him and he finally ran off when we yelled at him. He left two tooth holes in my bag, but did not rip it. I'm sure Grant at Rivdendell will be pleased to know his wares passed this field trial. My companions found the whole episode to be entertaining. Glad to be useful, I always say.

Dog bite on Baggins Bag

No other excitement on the ride. Avg pace was under 13 (when you can only make 11 into a headwind and 6 uphills, it slows you down!) 2,452' of climb, and here's good news, 2,244 calories were toast! I think if I could get back into the mid week hill ride routine, my weekend rides would sure go easier. My Theoretical max HR is 163, so I guess doing 166 and surviving is good, right? Right?


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