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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Cause Against Cancer this weekend

Last night was (the American Cancer Society) "Relay For Life," and our family captained the church team again this year. Sharon is the honcho, but with her work schedule this year, I did more than was needed last year. Alex filled in ably hauling tables and chairs and other sundries to and from the site we were given along the walking track at Village Green Park. We were a little concerned about our fund raising levels, but enough came in over the course of the evening to get us over our goal. We applauded the survivors as they took the first lap and fellowshipped with other visitors who came and went while we were there. The cookies we had to give away were a no go. No one would take them as they were offered. Too bad! They were very tasty and contained a neat little gospel tract as well. I appreciate all the effort that our several volunteer team members put out. I hear a new and different plan is afoot for next year.

The theme of fighting cancer continued today as Prattville was the venue for the Tour Autauga. Profits from the event go to the Livestrong anti cancer effort. I usually ride the metric option and this year was no different as far as that goes. What was different is that I rode to the ride from home and returned the same way. This added 14.5 miles, and more climbing. Max wanted in on the action, so I pedaled the two miles from our house to his to pick him up at 6:15. Max has a large garage, which has no cars in it. You can see I agree with his priorities though. The red/white number is Debbie's and the purple one is a grand kid's.

Max & Debbie's bikes



















We headed off into the still cold air, and took Main St, as the early hour = low traffic. The 1st hill warmed us up a little too. We passed out of towners with bikes on racks and a couple followed us to Spinner's Park for the ride start. It can be a pain to locate if you have never been there before. Frank and Joe showed up and took off early on their century ride. Chris attempted his FIRST century but left with the main body. Hopefully, when they get down near the Alabama river by the boat launch ramp off CR 1, he will watch for fish hooks. He punctured two tubes that way a few weeks ago. Joel and Tom were there, and set to do the metric. At the first rest stop, as Joel was saying how good the ride felt, I told him to go the 100. "Do you think I can do it?" Refer to the picture in last week's entry and judge for yourself, dear reader. In any event, The two of them were long gone by the time we returned to the rest stop.

Turn out seemed light, especially given that a number of other rides were cancelled today due to storm damage, but we did get some out of town visiting riders. One, a distinguished older gentleman looked very familiar. From Muscle Shoals, and we had indeed pedaled together in prior years. Good to see him again. On a new bike too. Max and I rode together and left with the main body. I was asked to lead an opening prayer of invocation and was blessed to do so. I avoided calling down fire and brimstone, as the weather was sunny and nice all day. Other than a bit more wind that was needed.

I rode the Saluki today, and it performed fine. This was more or less a test ride for the set up to be used next month on AMBRA ( Here it is, ready to go. No water bottles because I wore the Kelty Hydro-Pack. Loved it. Grand Bois Ourson tires at 65 psi. Friction shifting lets the bike use Campy Chorus up front and Shimano XT in back.

Hound Dog ready to howl


















The ride was fine, and parts were very scenic. Here is Max taking in the vista from the highest point of the ride. All the rain a few week sago has really greened everything up. We actually could use more now.

View from the top






















We spotted the elusive Roger Burnett, otherwise known as the bike club president, at rest stop # 1, 20 miles into the course. This is like finding an Ivory Billed Woodpecker in your back yard. To say that there seems to be a lull in club activity is like saying that the Sun becoming a red giant star might be bad for property values on Earth.

Not the "Other" Roger















Roger actually stayed with us from this point on. In 20 miles we returned here and called it Rest stop 2. By then the wind had kicked up from morning calm to flags straight out and in our face for 20 miles. Roger took a turn pulling in to the wind on the return to Autaugaville and acquitted himself well. I pulled a couple of times too, but Max did the yeoman's job. We need to start calling him Frank. He just motors on, regardless of hills or wind and is generally unflappable. Kinda like Frank! While riding caboose on that train after I rotated off the front, I snapped a pic as proof of my attendance.






I really did not need to do this, as Bill Duke (the event organizer) once again had a neat surprise in store for me. When we reached the 1/2 point, there was this in the road:

















I rode the route in the first year of the Tour and was dead last pack to the cars. Bill knows that I get excited about bikes and rides, even though I do not have the engine needed to go fast. I used to have race bikes and was not appreciably quicker then than now. I am now appreciably more comfortable on my bikes however. The next year, Bill had this painted in the road, and has been doing it ever since. This is only the second time I've taken a picture of it, and it caught me be surprise today. Made my day, of course. With Max and Roger to share the pulls with, we even passed some riders and were not close to last in, even tough we were towards the back setting out. You may notice between the two pictures another reason for better performance today. I'm carrying the equivalent of one less touring bike up all the hills.

The metrics; 75.6 miles, 14.4 avg pace, 3533' (per Garmin. Ride with GPS has it at 3750') of climb with 17% being the stiffest grade. 77 rpm cadence avg, which is slower than I want to be at (84) but better than where I was (72). No speed records attempted or broken today. I dropped a chain inside on a shift down going up Mt Autauga, had to dismount to replace it. There was just no way to get momentum and re-chain it while riding as I have done before.

So remember to hate cancer, care for those dealing with it and do your part to help with advances in medicine. (or diet, as Sharon is getting me to study up on. If her new vegetable products diet-The China Study- which I am reading, could get me 3 mph more in avg pace, I'd be on it in a flash)





Saturday, April 23, 2011

Autauga-Elmore Metric

With the Tour Autauga (a cancer fund raiser) coming up next Saturday, I figured a somewhat hilly ride would be a good tune up this week. Frank suggested and early start, and that worked out perfectly.

On the way to the meeting point, I passed this guy down my street. I suppose he got in a little too late last night. You think? Some cars ARE hard to park though.


hard to park











Nice turn out for the ride. Frank, Joe, Chris, Max, Steve, Long-time-no-see Bill and new guy Joel all came out. Joel emailed me this week and asked about local rides. When I suggested this one, he was a little concerned about doing a metric. Here's Joel at a rest stop doing a Steve Martin impression.

King Tut at Slapout






















How do you THINK he did? Nickname suggestion for Joel: "Sandbagger." We were Waaay too slow for this tri-athlete, but he's welcome aboard our train any time. Steve, in the picture with him, and Ray who, always says "hi" in the parking lot and then jumps off the front never to be seen again, are good riding partner choices for Joel.

The ride pulled out of the parking lot at 7:00 AM, and the first 40 miles were mostly flat and in calm air. Cloud cover kept the Sun off our backs and the scent of honeysuckle was very enjoyable. Here we are heading north on Coosada Parkway.

Coosada Pkwy






















I really liked Joe's jersey. Sharon had a black lab named Mollie who she loved dearly, and who died a few years ago. If Sharon ever starts to ride, I'll get her one of these. Even the collar is the right color.

Black Dog






















Everyone seemed to like the route, and this was one of my faster metric outings. I rode the Rivendell Road and it is just a good riding bike. The Pascenti Pari-Motos are a year old now and have been flat free. They are 38s and at 65psi provide a fast smooth ride over a variety of surface conditions. I'll definitely want another pair when these wear out.  I tried a hydration pack for the 1st time on a long ride and really liked it as well. Plenty of liquid when you need it, keeps my back a little cooler, and provides some added storage space. I'm joining Max and Frank in the backpack brigade, at least for longer outings.

We stopped several times for indoor plumbing and to refill our water bottles/back packs. At Poseys, Chris on the left here said a guy had just driven up, told the cashier he'd cut off a finger, and jumped back in his car. Max, on the right, is saying you can't believe everything Chris tells you.























We all took turns riding with various other riders, occasionally re grouping and sometimes riding solo. If you do longer rides, you know how it is. The metrics of this metric: 66.16 miles, 2330' of climb, 15.9 moving avg (which is fast for me). Back in time for lunch and a trip with the family to Home Depot. Gotta love it.

Happy Easter everyone!



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chief Ladiga Trail

It's been a few years since I've been on a rail trail. Two years ago, I rode the Tammany Trace with Sharon's cousins Becky & Vince. The year before that, I rode the Pinellas and Suncoast Trails with Irene and some by myself. I did most of the Chief Ladiga in 2004, when hurricane activity forced the MS150 to relcoate northward from its Gulf beaches venue to Anniston, so I was glad to have a reason to ride it again 7 years later. Riding buddy and FB pal, Dave had set this ride up a long time ago and a number of his friends responded to it. One, Kym, I had exchanged emails with and waved to on the road, (she runs, I ride) but never actually met. Another, Russ, turned out to live ON MY STREET and I never knew this. He-llo! Craig and Carrie who also came were friends of Dave who I never met,although it turns out we have a number of shared friends, and rounding out the field was Dave's wife, who I also had never met.  Here is the gang at the start, just north of Anniston.

The southern terminus of the trail






















It was sunny, but cool when we started and very windy. Blowing from the viewer's right to left in this picture. We had some severe weather the day prior, caused by the cold front. I wore all wool, myself, and was happy to have arm warmers on. I was pleased that I got to spend some time with everyone during the day, except Dave, oddly enough. We never rode together, while I was with each of the others for enough time at some point to get to know them a little. Being a social rider, that was the best part of the trip! The trail is what you see here, although not all in such smooth shape, and not on the campus of Jacksonville State, where it runs on the SIDEWALK, believe it or not. Given the winds, I decided to ride up to Piedmont and head back down. At Piedmont, the trail turns east to Georgia, and I didn't fancy coming back into the very stiff headwinds. As it was, we had plenty of exercise pulling into it. Craig, Russ, and Carrie all have aero bars, so I rode behind one or another at times, but mostly just tooled along at what was comfortable for the conditions or the conversations. We were not racing.

I thought about my son's friend, Brennan, who died from cancer last April and wore a wristband with her name on it. Our family is helping with the church Relay For Life team in Millbrook on the 29th of this month, so cancer is something getting a lot of think time from me these days. I rode in a charity event organized by Oncology Supply in Dothan just a weeks ago as well. here's the "We Love you Brennan" wristband:

We Love You Brennan






















With several hours of pedaling, there was enough "alone" time for this, as well as the chit chat and camaraderie with the others.

I got to explain why I do not pedal clipped in to Kym and Lisa, and Kym got to feel how merino is really NOT scratchy. (Psst, they make merino RUNNERS clothes too Kym. My riding (and also a runner pal Dove) has recently seen that light go on.) Kym also got to try drafting into the aforementioned wind. She did not dig into it with the exuberance of Danica Patrick at Indy, but she gave it a try.  Kym btw did an excellent ride write up of her own. You can read it here:

I really enjoyed meeting rock wall climbing-running-riding-steer roping-pretzel bending yoga limber Carrie. Here she is looking back as she rocketed by me at warp factor 3.

Adventure WOman!






















Here are Russ and Kym as well. Both seemed to enjoy their respective rides.

Russ on the trailKym on the trail












And you know, if I'm on a ride, there has to be food. Dave suggested BBQ and his Garmin said "Dad's" was close by. So we caravan-ed on in and had some good lunch.  About 40 miles and only 13.4 mph avg. It was a relaxer ride, and very much appreciated.  Hope we do it again sometime.






Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Ides of April

It was worth being wary of, as a strong squall line moved through last night. Several tornadoes touched down in a swath that ran SW to NE from the Mississippi line towards Atlanta. One that touched down north of Prattville killed a person in sparsely populated Boone's Chapel. It's on the northern portion of CR 59 that we do not ride on (dirt road) regularly, although I have taken a country bike on it before. The skies are clearing now, so our planned excursion to the Chief Ladiga Trail is still a go. Some people that I don't normally ride with but know from FaceBook or DailyMile are going and I am looking forward to it. A rail trail, the challenge will come from 14 mph crosswinds with gusts to 34. I will NOT be turning east towards GA past Piedmont, AL, as I do not care to have to return west into the aforementioned winds. So it will only be 38 - 40 miles. I'm hoping for company and conversation, mostly.

Our Tuesday/Thursday evening rides are officially running at 6:00 PM now and 8 riders attended the other day. Although they leave me in the dust on the flats, I do catch many of them on the climbs. My average was 15.7 which is very good for me. One new rider had a flat on Tuesday, a remnant of a fish hook poked a hole in his tube. We were delayed changing it. The same fellow was with us last Saturday, and got a flat on that ride from the original, main section of the same fish hook. Apparently, he did not check carefully to get it all out of his Specialized Armadillos. You can guess what his club nickname is now, right? Also on Tuesday, a rider tipped over and fell trying to shift gears while ascending a 20% grade. I think he may have inadvertently gone to his big ring instead of the little one. He couldn't un-clip and went plop on the pavement. A little skinned up, but otherwise okay. When you are struggling at max power up a hill, and you have to get your shoes out of the cleat clips, it can be really tough. Speedplays are supposed to be better at this than Looks or Shimanos. I don't know, as I do not clip in. So, I just put my foot down, and don't fall :)

Last Saturday, we had a great ride in our alter-egos as the Tri-county Gastronomical Cyclists. Franks' idea was to pedal from Prattville to east Montgomery and grab lunch at Red Robin, a burger joint with a wide menu and sporty feel. It was new and different to all of us except him, and fun to pedal where we have always driven before. Back roads all the way, and no tolls for bikes required on the bridge over the Alabama River either. Bill and Max showed up early and attended our church men's breakfast first and we all rode to the bike shop from there to pick up any other riders. A nice gas-free day.

I've been threatening Sharon that I want to start repainting the frames on my road bikes. The newest one (a 2007 Rivendell Rambouillet) has over 7,000 miles on it and the other 3 are all older. I'm not sure where to send them though, or what colors I want. I've seen some stunning colors on bikes in the Cyclofiend albums  (  for example). I think when I get back from riding on Memorial Day Weekend, I'll take one bike apart and send it off, then when it comes back, do another, etc. Since it takes months usually to get your frame back, this process will span a year, at least. While the parts are off the bike being re-painted, they can be thoroughly inspected, serviced, and replaced if worn. I can make any running gear changes I've wanted to get around to as well. I suppose the 1995 Road Standard will be up first. Or maybe my own '05 Saluki. Max and I are riding AMBA (Alabama's Magnificent Biking Adventure for several days in the week prior to Memorial Day. We intend to tent camp and ride each day)

In the miscellaneous notes category, some cheapo, discontinued color, Patagonia Boaris shoes from continue to be outstanding for riding use. Firm sole provides foot arch protection if stomping the pedals, while being compliant enough to walk in off the bike very comfortably. You can find these discounted at various other online venues too. (Here, for example:

Have a great week, everyone, and enjoy the clean smell in the air after the storms!





Sunday, April 3, 2011

Out Like a Lion

March this year was a reverse of the adage. It was warm and lovely early on, and cold, rainy and wet at the end. April however, started off with a very pleasant weekend, albeit a windy one. After some good hill drills in Prattville this week, Several of us did a sort of relaxer cruise from the Ryan's Restaurant (following a buffet breakfast / mens devotional time) to Slapout and back. Along the way, we picked up 2 riders outside Chain Reaction Cycles in the High Point shopping center. This was Beverly's 1st time out with us, but she fit in just fine. We liked her playlist for sure (heard through her phone) Beverly and Steve

 Here she is with Steve. They have a carboniferous affinity...













Bill is rocking a new Rivendell lugged steel fork on his Salsa. It looks great (cream paint in the fork crown windows) and he says rides that way too. He traded in his old carbon fork to get it. I think it's an instant collector's item. Knowing Rivendell, they'll stop making them quickly, if they haven't already.  Also in the picture;  Max, who is back in fine fettle after a rouge croix period.

Salsa Bill
















After finishing up the 40 miler, I showered, changed and hopped into Frank's car. We motored down to Dothan for today's TriStates charity ride, which supports the Alabama Children's Hospital. I intended to do the century, but my legs were saying "metric" this morning, so I rode that course instead. It's 68 miles in fact, and it's prbably best that I chose it. Prattville pal Curtis was also there, and rode a spanking fast 102 miles at almost 19 mph avg. His sister came down and did the 25 at a more sedate 10 - 12 mph. It was good to meet her. Frank did the century and appeared none the worse for wear. My 68 was at 15.2 avg, which is good for little old me. No cramps at any time was a plus too. From past rides there, I knew the roads were very coarse in long stretches, so I took Pari-Moto 38 mm tires at 65 psi and was pretty glad I did. First ride on a new saddle, but that was okay. Selle Anatomicas are comfy from the get go, but after 50 miles, I was ready to get off the thing.

We started early, registering at 6:00 AM.

unpacking bikes















We were riding at 7:00. I'll post some pics when I get them. I finished up at noon (used up 1/2 an hour watching a know-it-all try to change a tube. He went through 3!) and then hung around for Frank. Music set up was good, free Moe's Southwest Grill food, and the wind which was a pain pulling into on a bike was lovely as it blew by as I lay in the shade under an oak tree on the grass. After Frank came back, he grabbed a bite and we hit the road. I got to drive his 5 speed for a while too. But that's another story....

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