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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Long, Long Time Ago, I Can Still Remember...

It's official today. I'll be 60 next year.  I suppose it's always been true that I'll be 60 in 2013 but today I turn 59 so that makes it "official" for me. The time has surely melted by in so many ways. On the one hand, it truly seems like another lifetime when I would deliberately get "lost" with friends in the woods outside of Smithtown, NY just to see if we could find our way out again. On the other hand, just last week, our son was propelling his Fred Flintstone toy car down our driveway while wearing only pullups, right? Now he has a 6 year old of his own who is as charming and cute as all get out.

I keep a lot of records. Old report cards from grade school, Bar Mitzvah certificate, Baptismal record, Military Records jacket. It was 30 years ago this month that I left the Army reserve in fact. I also record all my cycling outings. I started to ride in 2001, following a scouting hike in the Green Mountains of VT that demonstrated to me how soft and flubbery I had become. While the records from the first few years were lost in a computer changeover somewhere along the way, I do have rides from 2004 to now in a spreadsheet. Starting at 1,500 mi per year, it's worked up to 3,000, - 4,000 miles as time and circumstances allow. The total for 2012 is currently 3,300 and if December is average, the final tally will be about 3,500. There are 5 bikes of mine in our garage. FIVE.  One new year resolution is to sell the mountain bike at least. (Every time I take it to the Swayback Trail, I end up on my back looking at the sky with the bike on top of me. And blood is usually involved.) I really enjoy the 4 road bikes. Only one came to me new. A Rivendell Rambouillet in 2007. This is a Brevet, or road sport bike. I've decked it out in a couple of styles and currently it has strong wheels and fat tires and is sort of an all arounder bike. It rides on old fashioned 26" wheels. After it came and I was so pleased with it, I picked up a used Rivendell Saluki touring bike. It runs on 650B wheels, which are smaller than most adult bike wheels and allow for larger tires. They're technically still in the 26" family of wheels. Next (in 2008) was a late 70s or early 80s (The serial # is a 79xxx series) Nashbar "Universal Japanese Bicycle" or UJB. Before becoming part of a larger conglomerate, Nashbar was a small outfit operated by Arnie Nashbar and he imported some very nice brazed frames from Japan back when the dollar bought a lot of yen. My bike was made by Maruishi and is butted chome moly and fully lugged with Shimano dropouts. Originally a criterium racer, a prior owner set it up for 650B and put mustache handlebars on it. I changed the crankset to a compact double and put on a Brooks leather saddle and even fatter tires. It's the bike I use for hill training drills on Tues/Thurs nights. It handles great and is fast. Finally, the last bike to arrive (in 2009) was a 1995 Rivendell prototype for their "Road" model, which preceded the more famous "Road Standard."  It came as a frame and fork only and I built it up from scratch, again using 650B size wheels. This bike got new paint a year ago and is my favorite, getting most of the annual miles. Before settling on the current stable of bikes, I've had and passed along: Trek Navigator, Fuji Touring, Univega Viva, Trek 560, Waterford 1100. KHS Flite 800. All were either too big, or just the wrong set up for me.

Regardless of which bike I'm on, I'm slowing down some. Where my average pace for the year was 15.2 back in 2006, it's 13.9 this year. I remember when I first came to Prattville and lived in an apartment, I'd go out and ride over 16 avg many times. My legs are still strong, it's my engine (cardio) that's slowing a little. I suppose I shouldn't whine for the lack of 1.3 mph in pace, right? It does mean that I often ride by myself though, even on a group ride. Most of the people who ride at my pace are not interested in going as far as I like to ride. Most of the people who like the distances I do ride them faster.  The good news is that I like to ride, whether by myself or with company! It's all good. Yesterday's ride was a great example. We did a 52 mile loop and the outbound section was mostly uphill and into a very stiff wind. I can settle in at 10-11 mph and crank away steadily. The other guys can do 13 - 14 with no problem. That leads to this:


The guys are playing the "Where is Bruce?" game, waiting for me to arrive. They sailed past the turn on CR 49 which was on the route map and went up 2 or 3 miles to CR 20.  I had made the turn as mapped and actually got ahead of them. We coordinated by cell phones and met up at a store further ahead. And yes, that is a Mountain Bike in the lead group. Neil is as quick on it as most riders are on a road bike. He hopes Santa brings him a Specialized Roubaix. Hoo boy. Can I say I knew him "when?"

We did rally up at most of the turns and of course the stores.  Here we are at one:

Sharon says that Joe, Neil and I appear to be standing in a ditch, compared to Frank, Robert and Steve. It was the 1st tryout btw for the new-to-me Ibex Breakaway jacket. Got it from another rider who bought it but didn't like it. Worked well for me, over a long sleeve merino base layer. It was 1/3 of the price of a new one and it was near new condition. Score! When we left it was 39F and I went all wool. No issues, even as it warmed to 50 by the end of the ride.

We revisted "Larry's Ride," named for a buddy who came along with us while attending a class at nearby Maxwell AFB. A good guy and a good rider, he returned home to ME and this was our final route together last summer. Steve (in the red jersey) was our new guy this go round, and you can see from his slim shape that he was already fit when he started, just not a long time cyclist. We hope to fix that. Steve scored a great buy on a TREK 1420 (?) aluminum framed bike from around 1990. Down tube shifters and early Shimano 105 running gear. It sounds really good and doesn't look like the former owner rode it often. Steve is still getting the hang of it though. Coming over the tracks on CR 21, I saw the group stopped by the roadside and asked what was up. Seems Steve was getting a good look at which gear he was in instead of a good look at the road. He ran off on the shoulder and spilled. "You got a First Aid kit in that saddle bag?" they asked me. I have the kitchen sink in that saddle bag so of course I have a first aid kit.

After Dr. Frank got most of the red stuff cleaned up and bandage on, Steve did a little test ride on his bike, and promptly pedaled right off the road and onto the grass again!  Gotta work on his directional control. Also how to feel the gears if you're using a DT shifter.

It was a good ride, albeit a slow one. I'd been having some ankle and knee pains and went back to un clipped riding which cleared the pains up. I also stayed within myself and spent most of the ride looking up at the lovely fall day, instead of down at the road in front of me or worse, at the Garmin. The leaves are past prime, but there was still plenty of color in the brilliant sunshine. This week I also took off some Grand Bois Cypres tires and put Maxy Fastys back on. Liked them much better, especially on rough stuff. 50 - 55lbs of air is all you need in them. Good to see Joe again. He's keeping the weight off and riding very well. Robert and Frank are great riding companions and we all missed Max who was home putting up Christmas decorations.  Would have been nice to have Larry along too, but it was a long trip to get here from Portland! On any ride, I think in terms of "is my pace fast enough not to DQ on a Brevet?" Yes, even with my snail's pace, waiting for the wrong turners at the Old Kingston store (and talking with the owner about his failed run for county office, as well as GA vs GA Tech on TV) and waiting while Frank doctored Steve's bloody fingers, I was under the RUSA time limit for a ride of this length. There may be hope for me yet :)


Saturday, November 17, 2012

November Already?

After whining about not riding last month, I was surprised to tally up the month's saddle time and discover that it was the most miles ridden in any October, ever. Just goes to show I have no sense of how much I'm riding.

Last Saturday, a few of us met in Pintlala, south of Montgomery and did 45 miles. I put cleats on the Shimano MTB shoes and gave them a try. They're a size too large and allow ample space for thick wool socks with plenty of air insulation. To be honest, I like the Keen sandals better. They were okay, but not worth the extra weight. They are also thinner soled than the sandals and I ended up with sore backs of my knees from the saddle being too tall with them. The ride itself was fine. Very pretty and low traffic. We had a new rider, from the Netherlands. Willemin is her name and she is slim and lithe and of course really fast. She is also pleasant company, when I caught up with her at the store stops, but she doesn't like dogs running out to greet us. There were few dogs and those that appeared were defended by the other riders. It was the last weekend for really pretty foliage, and I'm happy to have had the ride.

Today we made a grand tour around Montgomery. Starting from Prattville, we went south to Hope Hull, then east to Taylor Road and north to the EastChase shops where we stopped for lunch at Panera bread. The wind was tough today and I slowed down quite a bit as we headed into it. It moved of course as the Sun shifted in the sky. So, we had tailwinds for almost none of the time and headwinds or sidewinds for almost all of the time.

I saw that the temps were going to range from 40 - 60 during the ride, so I dressed out with Rivendell MUSA riding pants, thick wool socks in Keens down below and a thin merino Tee under a Woolistic merino L/S jersey above. Long finger MTB summer gloves, a wool cap (Synaptic Cycles) and I was good to go. The other guys all had jackets and booties and stuff and had to stop and do equipment removal and rearrangement as the temps warmed. I was fine all day as it was. My motto is "If I can't be fast, at least I can be comfortable." (Think Red Green here, minus the duct tape)

We ended up with 65 miles and my average was just 13 mph. I purposed to stay "within" myself and not get exhausted into the very brisk wind. That was my undoing on the 300K last year. Since the ride was advertised at 13 - 15 avg pace range, I managed it, just barely. I was easily the slowest there, but we all seemed to enjoy the outing equally. We stopped at the MMS store in East Montgomery and said hi to the crew. The shopping center they inhabit would make a suitable start/finish for a Tweed Ride, which could wind through the Sturbridge neighborhood across Vaughn Rd. I'm thinking maybe two Saturday's from now.  Lunch was at Panera Bread and very enjoyable. They had ice coffee which I LOVE.  Max went next store to 5 Guys burgers and came back with a steer on a bun and a bag of french fries so greasy that the bag went "thud" every time we set it down. After swiping his fries of course. Here are Rick and Frank in line for lunch.

It was a fun ride and I'm glad we went.

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