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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tailwinds, 2011

It's far from an original idea to remark on the year coming to a close each December 31, but it's something that feels right to do this year.  Despite my whining that I haven't ridden at all this Fall, the truth is that even before today's 2011 Swan Song Ride, I had logged more miles than in any prior year. The average ride length is about the same as last year, and my snail like pace of late is pretty much on average for me this time of each year. As is the extra 15 lbs I seem to have discovered around the mid section. I joined RUSA this year, #7107. If I get my legs back, I'll be doing Alabama Randonneurs events several times in 2012.

Like any year, this one has had its ups and downs. I still find myself missing cycling buddy Tom, who died in August.  I expect him to crank past me on the uphills in the big ring as he was wont to do, black leather Harley-biker streamers sailing in the air wash behind his saddle. I miss penpal and fellow pen collector-friend Mike, who passed away in March, but whose excellent biographical fiction work "Hunting With Teddy about the wilder West days of the 1st president Roosevelt was published posthumously.
Hunting With Teddy 

 Work was hard this year. The 4th consecutive year of a weak economy making it tough to sell products and even tougher to make any margin on them. Wages have stayed pretty much fixed and no bonuses the past 3 years. Too many people sitting around wanting to cut the same sliver of pie. I'll avoid politics completely here and say only that our failings as humans are at the root of it. Some of the people that I have been praying for in terms of recovery from serious illness are not doing well.

There are plenty of ups too. We continue to enjoy the garden that Sharon had installed back in July. There are still pink camellia blooms on the bush, and the scent of Tea Olives greets me every morning.   I've met some new friends in both the bicycle and fountain pen worlds, and feel closer to the several guys I ride regularly with than in years before. Other people on the prayer list are doing well and providentially good circumstances have happened to a number of those I know and care about. I'm thankful to have a job that I usually enjoy doing, and knowing that we start 2012 with a couple months of work in hand, with strong prospects for additional contracts to come in. If December ends up okay, we'll end the year in black ink for a change. A nice change. We welcomed Alisha and Kael in our family when Alex and Alisha were married in August. They have quickly won our hearts and are truly our daughter and grandson by every measure that matters. Need to get Kael (5 yrs) on the bike I bought him though!

I entered the technological era this year. First Sharon gave me her old iPod and I discovered making playlists and downloading songs from my youth that I was sure I'd never hear again. "Break Song," "Soul Sacrifice,"  and 'Travellin' Shoes" all made the playlist. (Can you tell me the artists without Google?) Then Sharon got me a Kindle Fire and I couldn't believe how much I like reading on it. Books, social sites and email, as well as mobile based versions of news sites and papers. It streams TV and movies too. Wow. What a great gadget that thing is. It prodded my interest in reading books again and I am plowing through them after doing little more than crosswords for the past few years.

Just today, I finally figured out how to put a course map on my Garmin Edge and ride the course on a bicycle.  Sharon has become very understanding, even I might say supportive of my desire to pedal a self-moving-vehicle across the highways and byways. And buddy Jeff gave me a GREAT Kanji character decal for a bike that says in Japanese, "self moving vehicle"  or in other words, "bicycle."  Way too cool for a bike, it will be framed and hung.  There are of course numerous other good things that came about for me in 2011.

Yesterday, I got my Rivendell frame set back from the painter. I used Airglow, in Washington, GA. The compliments on the paint job are already rolling in. The rebuild will be done some time in the next couple of days, with a new green saddle and bar tape to pick up the green lines in the decals. I thought about changing brake levers from Shimano to Tektro, but if it ain't broke...
Here is a frame only pic.

I went for night rides last week and this. An IXON-IQ headlight is working really well, and a deal for a used set of Dinotte 400L rear lights should work out in the next week. Night riding is pretty neat. Beats doing laps around the block which is my usual Winter routine.

This morning was clear and cool (39F) and with my usual pals busy, I hoped for some others to come out and ride. No one did, and so I ended the year with a solo ride of 44 miles. It was pretty out and I ignored the Garmin and just pedaled for enjoyment. The result was about 1,750' of climb (iirc) and a typical average pace for me. No dog issues. I peeled off the Rivendell Merino Skin tights and a long sleeve Woolistic jersey 1/2 way through, continuing on in a wool tee and shorts. I had wool socks on and Keen shoes which were fine even when it warmed up. The Giro wool blend gloves came off though. It all packed in the Kelty Hydration back pack just fine. The handlebar tube held food, cell phone, wallet. A tool wrap was under the saddle.

Wherever our rides take us in 2012, I hope that we remember that the world is much bigger than just us and what WE want (whatever that is at any point in time) that we ride safely, and get to list all the important doings of 2012 a year from now.

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