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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

It's been a nice weekend. First, It's nice to live in a country where our freedom has been secure for so long. That freedom comes at a price though, and the price is the service of the members of our armed forces. Sometimes, the price is paid with their lives, and that is really the remembrance of Memorial Day. On both bike rides this weekend, I enjoyed the company of either present or past members of branches of the US military.

On Saturday, Frank and I were the only show ups for a new route, the South Autauga County Loop. All the roads have been pedaled before at one time or another, but this is the first time we put them together quite this way. I really liked the layout and this will be a keeper. Mostly quiet roads, and even an uphill mile or so of dirt road! Unfortunately, our buddy Steve H was not on hand to fully appreciate the rural ramble. He so loves to take his carbon Orbea with 18 mm tires on dirt. NOT!  We smiled though as we imagined what he would say as he rapidly scooted by to get done with that section as soon as possible. It really was better than some "paved" roads we've been on. No washboard or ruts.  Frank handled it on his race bike (28 tires?) just fine.  I had 38mm Pari Motos on and just floated along.
Plenty of climb and a couple of store stops. The blooms along the roadside were fragrant and we spent more time enjoying the scenery and less time staring at cyclometers. The old coach (Autaugaville HS BBall) at the Kingston store was in good spirits when we arrived and we chatted a few minutes. He asked me where we've been lately, as our rides have not brought us by his way. We ended up with 43 miles.

Today, 5 of us met at the high school and did the Memorial Day ride I do almost every year. Ray B took off on his own, and ended up with 103 miles at 16.7 avg (if I interpret his posting aright). Neil rode with us for about 50 miles, but got a call from his sick missus who needed him back at the ranch so he peeled off. Russ, Ray G and I pressed on. The winds were calm at the start but boy did they pick up. Stiff headwinds for most of the second half of the ride. That, and steep climbs in strong sun made for quite the work out. Russ did not look like he was working hard however. ("My average HR was 140" he told us afterward) but he had to climb all the same hills we did! Maybe the tri-athlete thing helps? :)  Anyway, he was great and hung around with us slower guys looking like he was just enjoying the workout, regardless of pace. Ray was battling a balky front shifter that wanted to dump his chain on the inside when he went to he small ring. I suggested "trimming" the lever instead of pushing it and that helped. After the ride I pointed out the travel limit screws for him to adjust. Just shy of 61 miles today and LOTS of hills and LOTS of wind. It took as long as the ride afterwards for my legs to come 100% back. They were okay for a trip with Sharon to Fresh Market grocery though. I scored some Sumatran coffee beans AND Sharon got me a bag of Good N Plenty. :)

In between the rides, I did our yard, and hobnobbed with our son while he got under his car and our daughter-in-law's to change the oil and otherwise poke around. My job was to sit and sip a cold beverage and occasionally hand him a rag or something. It was a nice visit with the kids actually.

Oh, Saturday after the ride, Sharon and I went car shopping. Our friend Mel suggested a certain Montgomery dealer from positive past experience, and we went there. We found a car I liked, we agreed on the price and we drove it home. I've had a take-home company car for the past 16 years, but my current employer does not work that way. I will use a company car this coming week for example to travel on company business, but the car stays in a car pool when not on business, so I need wheels of my own. I'm a little excited as this is my first personal vehicle since a '96 S-10 we bought in Plant City, FL. Our car buys since then have been for Sharon (Saturn, Hyundai) or Alex (Scion). I told Sharon she could have the "new" car (it's a very clean 2010 model Toyota) but she is happy with and wants back her Sonata. No problem.
I also worked on Gary's antique, err classic, Raleigh. Early 90s with aluminum top and down tubes and chrome moly everything else. It was all original and all the original running gear was orange in color. Not for style, but from rust. I gave him a list of parts to collect and he got most of them, and I went to work. New brake pads front and rear, new chain, new shifter cables, new rim tape, new tubes and new tires. I sprayed some stuff on the freewheel and WD 40 on the nuts and bolts. The bike will be fine, re-purposed for his son.

Sunday morning, I filled the pulpit at our church. I got a little disconnected in my thinking, but enough people got the message I was trying to bring that I think it was okay. What I lacked in organization, I made up for in brevity. Brevity is always generally popular in sermons. The concept was, when reading MT 25:40 (.. 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.') do we know what God means by "the least of these?"  That is, we tend to classify based on our per-existing mental filing systems, which may not jive with how God's economy works. My point was that while immediate physical charity (expressed in a number of ways) is laudable, it is sharing the eternal truths to those who are lost and lack them that is the better gift. (John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." )  Living water being a better gift than regular water, and etc..

So it's been a GREAT weekend. I head out tomorrow on my 1st sales swing for the new place, which is exciting and I have some bids that go in this week too.  Of course, what would be really great would be if something SELLS.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mid May 2013

I'm back from a really nice pedal this morning. Despite lots of green and yellow on the radar, Russ, Max & I chanced it and were rewarded with some pleasant miles. It's the first Saturday outing for me in a several weeks. Starting the new job threw a wrench into cycling schedules, but one must eat and pay for the roof overhead. The first few weeks have been good by the way. I like my co workers and they seem to tolerate me. I'm in sales now instead of operations and I like that. Fortunately, a number of opportunities to bid on have come up and statistics say that if we are bidding on work, we'll get our share. I'm based in NW GA, but will be making sales swings from here in AL at times too. I've worked out a new routine to include some time for my usual morning calisthenics, and two after work rides each week.

Chad, in our office, is a runner (so he's fit) and a former mountain biker. He brought his Gary Fisher Tuesday and we pedaled a mostly off road, mostly very difficult short ride up Lavender Mountain to the House O'Dreams at Berry College in Rome. The dirt roads are steep and freshly bathed in thick streams of small blue stone gravel, making traction a rare commodity. That and about 1,000' of climb in a 2 mile stretch. Pretty at the top though. This view is back towards town.

The paved trail from the campus has a 3' diameter +/- Sun painted at the start. The planets are painted to scale in size and distance as you move out away from it. The planets are dots, and some are MILES away. The idea that gravity holds them all together is mind boggling.  It's called the Viking Trail,  perhaps named for the Mars exploration spacecraft of the same name?

Once we got to the top, we rested while Chad showed me the garden and explained that students at the school built it all in the 1920s, using materials from the site area.
 Here I am at the entrance drive. You can see I had my old Bridgestone MB-2 Mountain bike this time. I usually take a road bike.

EVERY road around this place is hilly, unless you are riding along the riverside. Which we plan to do one of these days. The hills are bigger and steeper than I am used to, but I guess if I ride them, my legs will adjust.

Here is the garden on opposite side of the house from the picture above. With wind chimes sounding gently in the background, this is a restful and delightful place. Sadly, we needed to leave in time to find our way back during daylight. On the way, Chad suggested a "shortcut" he sort of remembered. It was less difficult to ride on, but when I heard shots fired not too far away, I  began to pray in earnest for a safe trip back to the car! There is a controlled hunt in progress and the gate WAS closed on this road...

On Thursday, I took the same bike and rode up the toughest climb I've seen in many a day, if not ever. After topping Booze Mountain and descending to the traffic light on the other side, I found a bigger hill awaiting!  I had to stop twice on the ascent and catch my breath, re starting each time by traversing the road when it was clear to do so. The Garmin said 36% but I doubt that. 24% maybe at max and 12 - 15% otherwise. For a full 1/2 mile. Followed by 6 miles of steady gradual up in a valley.Pretty though, and fragrant with jasmine, honeysuckle and  maybe some other stuff.  The very quick mountain bike steering that works wonders at avoiding roots and rocks on a woodsy path is NOT what I want when descending at 37 mph. Which is a record for that bike, no doubt.

Today's ride was my 1st regular Saturday road ride of any length or effort since the middle of April. As I noted, Russ and Max met me up by the usual rally point and we did 35 miles of hills. About 2,000' of climbing in all. We were rained on (I packed a rain jacket and helmet cover, but truthfully, the rain felt good and I never took them out), paused to meet up with the mayor and join his annual bike ride for kids down to a park where some hands on exhibits were set up, and then completed our loop. Russ provided the blog material today. A super fit triathlete, I suppose he just can't go slow and the mayor's kids were only doing about 7 mph. He slid his front wheel on a rain slicked exposed section of old train rail and did a spectacular crash. It looked for all the world like he was aiming for this:

But it was more like this:

Russ did execute the "tuck and roll" as shown here by our stunt double, perfectly and broke no bones nor bike parts. He was skinned up a little, but seemed like he would recover. We prescribed aspirin, or similar.

And watch kids, this is why we say, "Always wear a helmet!"  Russ, you need to buy a new one if yours hit the pavement.

So, some good riding this week, and feeling 1/2 way normal in that regard.

I also went car shopping today. I need something economical just to get to/from work, and have a cycling friend in the business. I was surprised to find that no one takes you out and shows you CARS anymore. They show you cars on a laptop screen and say,  "we can get that for you." Well, no, there is a car being readied that is of interest and will be available to look at soon. I came home and hunted online and found numerous others. Anyway, I hope to have a pleasant car buying experience and end up with a serviceable used car. If things go well, down the road we'll upgrade that as we can.

I'm filling the pulpit again next Sunday (locals are always welcome to come and listen!). I always approach that duty with deep respect and nervous apprehension. Once I get going though, it seems to all work out. When the pastor first asked if I could fill in should the need arise, I began to jot ideas down and outline my ideas. In the past, I have written out my sermons and had them to read, but my recent experience preaching at the local homeless mission with outline notes instead has emboldened me to try this same approach. The source material is impeccable after all, and the Spirit is ever present to illumine. :)

I'm back in GA next week but then take off on my first road sales swing. Figuring out how to work in exercise and cycling there will be a challenge. And one that has to take a back seat to the primary mission focus, SALES.


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