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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Don't Fence Me In

While I prefer not to be fenced in, we decided it would be a good idea to fence in our back yard so that our dog can run around out there, unfettered by the cable and stake arrangement we've been using. She gets tangled up easily with that and we really have to sit out there with her to keep an eye out. Neighbors have erected privacy fences along the back and one side of our lot, so we needed the other side and the short pieces extending from each side of our house. We got homeowner association approval and then I went down to the City Hall Annex and got a fence permit. One nice thing about a small town is that these things usually can be done quickly.  I went to Home Depot and bought the supplies and arranged for them to deliver. The materials came early yesterday morning and I went to work on it while the morning was still cool. I hoped that the recent rains would leave the red clay soil we live on soft enough to come out without problems. Even after a careful study of the sprinkler system plan, I was hesitant to use a power auger for fear of cutting through a PVC water line unwittingly.

The digging went as hoped. Each of the 10 post holes required 10 - 12 minutes of actual digging to get the required depth. It was a great shoulder and arm workout! The regular morning exercises that I do really helped here. Our son Alex  came by around mid-morning and he helped on a hole or two, but mostly he assisted with placing the fence panels, which was very much appreciated. We got everything in place yesterday and gave the dog a test run in the yard. She loved it. The fence we chose is a low height spaced Gothic picket. It provides closure for the yard, but does not spoil the sense of open view that we like on the unfenced side. Today, I will re adjust one panel to make it level, and install the gate hardware.

Alex brought the wife and kidlet along and we all enjoyed the visit. Our grandson grows while we watch, it seems. He worked the dog out in the back too. Or she worked him out. I'm not really sure.

Brown came and delivered a new carburetor for the lawn mower. After visiting 2 repair shops in town, I discovered that these Chinese imports are essentially "disposable" units. It costs more to have someone rebuild a dirty one than buy a new one. I may take the old one apart and tinker with it though.The mower started up immediately once the new unit was on and I mowed the yard as long as it was running.

Max decided to dip his toe in the water of the high speed race riders on the other side of town last night, so I was his designated replacement for the club ride locally. Only the club treasurer showed up to ride. Two other riders came by to say hello, but Robert and I were the only ones to go out and do the route. Weird, because it was a PERFECT evening to ride. We almost finished before sunset as well. I felt a little zip in my legs but decided to work at about 75% and not get too worn out. I'd already had a busy day. Robert did time trials the night before and a century last Saturday. A slower paced ride was ideal for him. So wwe averaged about 14.5, which is fine considering the couple of long 7% and 9% climbs we had to make along the way.

It's been a thoughtful week. Someone I knew from church died on Saturday. I had just gone to see her with some other people about a week prior. We had communion together, because she was unable to come to church any more. Serving the supper does create a closer sense of kindred, I suppose. In any event, her passing (which is great as far as the being in Heaven and not suffering goes)  affected me more than I would have expected. Sharon dispatched me with food to two other houses this week. One, a recent widow and the other a recent pace maker recipient. In each case, I paused briefly to chat a little. You get better connected to and care more deeply for others when you become part (even a little part) of their lives. It's so easy to get wrapped up in my own plans and goings on. These reminders have been good.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Nice Day to Ride

When local riding buddy Rick & I were talking the other day (after he graciously came by and helped out with my lawn. Our mower is a non starter at present. I thought he was going to help me fix it, or loan me a mower for 30 mins - that's all my yard takes me, but no. He mowed my yard with his commercial rig, in about 10 mins, then we ran string trimmers to tidy it all up.) and he mentioned that a 50ish mile ride this weekend would be good. Since current circumstances preclude my presence in Atlanta for a pen show, I thought his idea had plenty of merit.

6 riders showed up for a reprise of the route from last June, which ended with a farewell BBQ to a friend finishing up at the local air force base class and heading "down East" as they say up there in Maine. A good mix of terrain with convenient stores along the way if needed. It was in the upper 40s at the start, and I added a thin wool tee under a s/s merino jersey, wool arm warmers and  wool knee warmers under my shorts. It really was just right. The arm warmers came off about 30 miles out, the knee warmers stayed on as it was really only upper 60s or so when we came back. We did 52 miles, and climbed 2,500' +/-, all rollers, no big hills.

Here are Rick, Mario, and I pedaling up a slight grade near Prattville.  I was looking down at the Garmin to see exactly how slight, it appears.

Plenty of wind (headwind outbound, and at the very end. Tailwind in between) and climbs in the 9% - 11% range. Nothing terribly tough, in other words.  The lead riders took off at a crisp pace, then there were 2 middle speed riders who re connected with us at the stops, then Rick and I, thoroughly enjoying the view from the back. We climbed steadily and slogged into the wind steadily. We enjoyed decent pace on the flats. To say that the azaleas are lovely does them a great disservice. They are spectacular. Plenty of other leafing and flowering things were beautiful to look at. Great reason NOT to stare at a cyclocomputer or down at the road.There were a few dogs today; none of any imminent threat. I saw a brilliant Indigo Bunting over a field and the distinct yellow belly of the Eastern Meadowlark soon after. All the usual animals were out as well.

I put the original wheels back on my Rambouillet and was surprised (again) at how well it rides. It's had other crank sets and wheels on to try but it's back to stock status and rides best that way. Apparently, its designer was onto something with the build he selected.  One of the other riders was on a very nice looking bike that was a size or two too small for him. He's made it work with lots of after market stuff, but he agrees that a larger frame would suit him better. It's so nice to finish a ride and my back, neck, hands and shoulders do not hurt. My legs are a little sore from work, which is okay and my bottom can tell it did something today, like sit on a saddle for several hours. But that's okay, and improves as the season goes on. The reason nothing hurts after 50+ miles is because the bike is properly fit. When the bike fit is right, the ride is so much more fun. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cool Spring

Yes, I see that my ride posts have dwindled down to once monthly recaps. I need to fix that.

It's been an eventful month since the last entry though, both on and off the bike. I lost my job last Monday,  I am thankful for having had it and look forward to whatever is next career-wise.
I'm staying in my same routine as far as wake up, exercise, etc, so that when work does fire up again for me, I won't have to shift gears.

Bike wise, I was elected to the club board of directors and am the rides chair. We have a great group of people as new officers and directors and the enthusiasm and energy at our exec meeting last week was palpable. We are already moving ahead on a number of good fronts and will be a positive influence in the tri-county region for most aspects of cycling.

I entered a contest put on by Road Holland cyclewear.( ) for the cyclist most needing better looking clothes. I made the finalist selection and that came with a hefty discount coupon, used for a nice Hilversum full zip. Then I actually WON the contest and received a very nice Den Haag jersey free!

I wore it yesterday on the club relaxer ride and can tell you the cut, fabric and feel were all great. Both jerseys are technical fiber and wool blends. A "best of both" concept. I wondered where all the garment names came from. After a Google check, d'oh. They're places in HOLLAND.

Since losing the job, we've gone on the austerity plan of course. I've pedaled to the bank, Wal-Mart, the ride meet up point and will pedal to City Hall today to meet the mayor at 2 PM (he wants to talk bikey stuff with me) and then to a church meeting tonight at 7:00. I might even build up my legs!

This is the official start week for the Prattville Rides as well. Good stuff!

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