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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blog material!

Sometimes I forget to mention when we have new riders in the group that if we ride together, there is a small chance that their names may show up in a blog entry. The probability increases if anything interesting happens on the ride of course. Like today. We had two new riders at the Sunday afternoon Social ride. Leslie, a fit young woman in town for an Air Force school of short duration had no trouble blending in with that portion of our group which always says, "I'm taking it slow today. This is a recovery ride" and promptly jumps off in an 18 mph breakaway  I did not see her again during the ride. Karen, a retired college professor who rode with us once last year and somehow found her way back again, and who may not have pedaled in between, was more of a true beginner rider.

 Karen found a new looking older rail trail bike at Re Ride Cycles and they put new rubber on and cleaned it up for her. What they apparently did not do was put the rim tape back on over all the spokes. Her tire went flat shortly after we started, and Karen remembered that Re Ride commented on having a tube go flat just after they replaced the original. We (Karen, me and Ron who chose to stay with us today) pulled off into a side street and took a look at it. The front wheel featured a nice quick release, the back one featured nicely chromed nuts. Hmm. Enter Ron, who just may be the only cyclist in 3 counties who (when riding the Blackhawk Bike) has an Oxy-acetylene torch, a ball pein hammer and oh yeah, an adjustable crescent wrench. That last item did the trick. Then we realized that Karen is rocking 700 x 35 touring tires while Ron and I are cruising on 26" MTB wheels. Hmm. Ron saves the day again! (The "S" is almost visible under his neon yellow vest!) He has a 700 x 23 tube. Now, Re Ride had Karen set up with Schrader tubes, but Ron's tube is a Presta.  To try to pump her the first time, I flipped the innards of my frame pump around from my Presta to her Schrader and re inflated her. It didn't last so we did a tube change (which Karen found very instructional) and I switched the pump back. Since the tube was so much smaller than the tire, and since we had only 5 miles to go back, I pumped it up to very low pressure, and we reassembled everything.

It was about this time the Karen noticed the absence of her car keys. This was also about the time I mentioned the concept of "blog material." The keys had departed her company somewhere along the way but she hadn't a clue where. Since she lives in the Eclectic area, driving home was her preference. Okaaayyyy. She thought she might just walk back and look for the keys but I could see the road just fine from a bike seat and asked her to consider pedaling. We had a better shot to get home by dark that way too.  Ron suggested that he ride on ahead and work his way back with the vehicle. I had a hunch though that the keys fell out during one of Karen's dismounts, perhaps when she walked up our hill. So Ron went on ahead and Karen and I pedaled along while scanning the road edge. It was about this time that Karen lost track of where HER road edge was and found herself cycling down a ditch. I encouraged her to stay calm and keep steering and she actually did just fine. Reinforcement though that things can get away from you quickly if you lose focus.

Karen is a wonderful raconteuse and her stories about everything from college football ("hook 'em Horns!") to her days at AUM (she knows 3 of my teaching AUM pals) to dealing with grandkids were highly entertaining. I made me want to pedal slower than we were just to prolong the telling of the tales. Well, that was not to be as Ron came pedaling back, to announce finding the missing keys, where they were surmised to have been dropped. What a relief for this bit of providence!  We made the parking lot successfully and just a few minutes prior to the return of the High Rollers. The always pleasant post ride banter ensued and we logged it as a nice way to spend an Alabama afternoon.

Karen asked that I make sure to point out that the only time she was off her bike, it was by her choice. :)

Saturday saw a little longer ride for me. I borrowed the phrase "designated last place finisher" from swift of foot friend Heather, and it removed all sense of pressure to stay up with anyone. This was a Ride for Sight, hosted by the MMS team ( a local tri athlete training group) and benefited the Lions Club.  I rode the "40" mile route with Connie who is rapidly extending her range. She's quicker than I am (who isn't?) on the flats but I ride more hills so I had a chance to stay even with her there. It was a delightful day, with great company, a pretty route and tasty BBQ at the end. Even as the sweeper, my moving avg was not far off 15 and that's as quick as I go generally speaking.

All  in all a great weekend to ride.  Hope to see you all on the roads soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Too much Work on the Workers Ride

The rainy front passed by yesterday, leaving this morning cool and crisp. And windy. Winds are forecast to get up around 30 mph in gusts as the day goes on, so I opted for the 30 mile route today instead of the original 100 KM plan. Afterwards, I knew that was the better choice for me today. despite being shorter, the ride was not lacking in new people to meet and pedal with, beautiful scenes to go by and generally quiet roads. Today was the annual workers ride for next weekend's club century (I will volunteer at the P.A.C.E. rest stop) and we opened it up to anyone in the area who wanted to test ride the routes of 16, 30, 55, 62 and 100 miles. A nice crowd came out and we had folks on each of the routes at various paces. It was nice for the few miles that we experienced a tail wind, but the last 15, coming back with winds and rollers was WORK!

Within 3 miles of start, I saw a bike on the side of the road and  Karen Stankard was lying on her back with bloodied face. I stopped to see what was up, and helped her to her feet after checking for reasons not to. Other riders stopped too and made phone calls for help. A Pintlala water dept truck stopped to help as well. Phil and Anita Jones stayed waiting for "Medevac", as did Mary Ashley, while the rest of us went on. Karen said she was handling some items on the bike and lost sight of where her front wheel was. It seems to have slipped off the pavement into the sloped grass shoulder and control of the bike disappeared. Hopefully, she'll clean up okay and be none the worse for wear. I rechained her bike and got the rear wheel on straight before we departed.

This is the second rider to go down in the past two weeks due to an unexpected front wheel mishap. Last week, Kathy Thornton had a run in with a railroad track (it was a shabby crossing in need of repair) and now the grass got Karen.  The take away here is that just like driving a car or motorcycle, trouble can happen in a split second and we have to always be aware of the road in front of us, the location of other drivers, etc.

There are a number of newer cyclists in the club and it will be a few months before our club cycling guru, Mike Munk has the next basic cycling class. In the meanwhile, here are a few things to consider:

1.) You are a driver and your bike is a vehicle. Act that way at all times on the roadways. Same rules, same responsibilities. Same safe driving practices. Just slower than your car. For most of us. Louis Schwartzman goes as fast on his bike as the rest of us go in the car.

2.) It is worth the time to practice bike handling skills. Stops, turns, shifting, drinking.  Find somewhere easy to ride in, like a parking lot for this.If your bike doesn't shift easily (Kaitlin!) take it in to the shop. Get used to how the different gear combinations feel so you can pick what you want as you ride. Corner with the outside pedal down. Always have a bail out in mind in case you need to ditch. Green (Grass) is better than black (asphalt) and out of traffic is better than in traffic for starters. If you find yourself off the pavement, don't panic. shift to an easy gear (your small front ring for example) so you can control your pedaling and remember when you were a kid and rode your bike on grass without thinking about it. Maintain your handlebar grip and stay calm and in the moment. if you like it, consider Cyclocross!

3.) It is VERY worth the time and cost to have a comfortable set up on the bike. Get the right position and the right saddle. Bell Road Cycles does bike fits and Darren there is excellent at listening to find out what a rider needs. I don't know if MMS does bike fits also.  I have some ideas too, from an "Unracer's" perspective. No one saddle or set up will work for all riders although I have a few favorites. Feel free to ask me anytime. On rough roads, a fatter tire at lower air pressure is much more comfortable. Even if you can't change the tires, you can let some air out. If your tires show 100 psi, try 80 in front and 85 in back. Etc. Email me if you want the Excel spreadsheet and article reprint by Berto and Heine on tire pressure.  There is a Berto Tire Pressure Android app avail too.

4.) As colder air comes into play, your clothing will change. Air is your best insulator. A tight wind jacket that doesn't breathe will make you sweat. Wet clothes get cold fast. The key is layering. Wicking materials, and winter weight. Wool or microfiber are your best bets. Wool hiking socks in loose fitting shoes will keep your feet very comfy on a cold day. Rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable standing around in the parking lot before the ride, you are wearing too much. You need to be able to evaporate the sweat the work produces. Don't forget your head and hands as well. Wind vests are good to keep your core protected while letting excess heat escape. Gloves that don't breathe will make your hands soak in sweat. Don't laugh, but the wool gloves you wore as a kid work great on a cold biking day. Cheap too.

5.) You still need to drink when it is cold. And eat. I'm guilty of this too. I drank less than a bottle today in over 30 miles with hills and wind. I then I wondered why I feel lethargic.

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