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

Saturday, November 21, 2015


I was telling Kathy R at the ride this morning, "When I picked this route out and posted it on Tuesday night, it seemed like such a good idea. TODAY, I got up and asked myself why I chose a route with HILLS?" No matter, it was a good ride. With cooler air, overcast skies, a breeze, and the threat of hills, I was not going to be surprised if I was the only one to show up and ride today. On the way over, I was already psyching myself up. "You know you need the miles, and the hills will be good," I said to my self. No need, when I got to the start at the high school, there were already 4 other riders and they kept on coming. We ended up, I think, with 15 all told. Great showing. Sometimes the opposite of what you think is what happens, and it's really good. Like the ride. It was a great ride. I stayed within what I could do today, enjoyed it all and didn't finish with tired legs.

Yes, I was too smug in layers of wool that kept me warm/cool enough as the day went on. Nothing needed to be peeled off as I saw lesser kits of synthetics doing all around me when the temps rose. Then put some back on when the clouds and breeze made it too cool. One rider agreed to TRY some wool if I would loan it! ;) Temps in the 50s really are no issue to deal with, right?

It was great to pedal with folks I see seldom these days.  Max, Mike, and John all ended with avg speeds 3 - 5 mph above mine. Tony kept me company (and good company it was too) for a long stretch, but I spent some miles with John R, his wife Kathy, and Wes from Troy too. Others were touched base with at the regroups and rest stops. It all worked out fine.

No dog troubles today, but we did have wayward riders. Our three lawyers all managed to miss the turn off onto CR 85 and pedaled on in to Deatsville. Wonder why only the lawyers got lost. And the number one occupation of  members of Congress is, wait for it, lawyer. Hmmm..

Tony needed fluids at our 2nd store stop and I was going to share a 32 oz bottle with him. It turned out that they had no Powerade Zero, Gatorade G2, or other non sugary stuff in that size. I ended up with a 32 oz regular Powerade for Tony and a small Propel for me.  The line was long at the register, Too long. I looked out the window and saw another line, this one of cyclists, taking off down the road and leaving me behind. One rider stayed back. Tony. After all, I had his Powerade! What is that verse? "No greater love is there than a man stands in line for his friend?" Well no, not really, but it was odd, watching them all pull away.  The cashier noticed too. I assured her that I was the one who knew the route, so they were on their own. Words that came true for the aforementioned attorney types. Speaking of Tony, I did not realize that it was only lately that he saw my October post and the picture of us together in Sellers AL. One of my favorite pictures, two old cycling buddies having a GREAT ride. Tony, on the other hand, thought that it made him look fat. As in, "Honey, does this dress make me look fat?" Well, sorry Big T, the picture stays. It's got a dear friend and me doing something I dearly love and no one who does not ride thinks we look anything but ridiculous in bike clothes, no matter how fat we are or are not. So there.

Speaking of whiners, and you know who you are, we missed you today. No dirt or gravel anywhere to get dust on that pretty bike. So come on out. At least you have a wool jersey going for you, so you have that part right. :)

Thanksgiving is coming up this week, and weather permitting, 4 days in a row of rides! Who's in?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hello there Blog! Thought I forgot about you, right?

The truth is, I've been too tired when not too busy to write. I've got two vacation days though, while Sharon is up north visiting our grandson (and his parents too) for his birthday. He's an adorable 9 year old today. Anyway, I have a few SLOW minutes and realized, "Hey, I can type out an entry today!"

It's been a good riding year, all things considered. The Alabama Backroads Series has really generated more interest in the various previously unconnected local rides around the state. Ridership is up across the board. Thanks so much to Pixie Hicks for being the dynamo behind this idea. I only rode one of the 13 centuries this year, but pedal partner Candace and I have agreed to do at least 4 in 2016 and earn the coveted Backroads Series Patch. If we get carried away, we may do more. In addition to the one I actually rode, I volunteered at 3 more rides (Selma, Marion, and Montgomery) and rode 2 events not in the series, at Kymulga and the local Lions Club charity for sight outing. I'm more of a cross country rambler anyway, which is why I tossed my name in the hat to take over the AL Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA) job. A great guy and inspirational cyclist, "Fixed Gear Steve" Phillips was our RBA before passing away this year. Solo, self supported riding is in its infancy here and maybe I can pitch in to help it grow. I doubt my stamina for the long hauls, but I can do the shorter ones and facilitate the rides of others on the ones beyond my strength. You'd think that the national agency ( would be happy to have volunteers, but they're actually very picky and they seek to preserve high standards, so I may not get the nod. Regardless, my OTHER pedal partner Angela wants to do a P-12 (a series of a dozen rides of 100 - 200 KM) so I'm already committed to turn the cranks in 2016. 2015 has been an improvement in mileage over 2014 already with a couple of months left to go.

To do that stuff, as well as work on my public cycling safety initiative, I'm stepping down as the chair of the local bike club ride committee. They will be better served by someone who is local more than I am, and who appreciates carbon and clips more than I do. I'll still come out and ride whenever I can, but I won't HAVE to be there, if you know what I mean. In the overall spirit of re-working my cycling, I culled some jerseys and other items I don't wear from the hoard and put them up for sale. It's turned out better than a garage sale! The $ comes in handy and it feels good to have less clutter. There is more out there to clean up though. Does anyone really need a half dozen front deraillers PLUS the ones already on their bikes? And so on.

The cities of Prattville and Millbrook have responded positively to my requests to present public cycling safety instruction through their Parks & Recreation departments. Looks like that will kick off in February. Maybe Wetumpka and Montgomery will get on the bandwagon too. The impetus was seeing a car right hook a casual rider, who was at fault, a few weeks ago.

Cycling continues to be an avenue to reach out to and connect with people. I've had some heartwarming interactions with people recently that still make tremble with awe and appreciation. How do we continue to show the care we exhibit to those stranded road side when we are off our bikes? That's the next challenge. I'm thankful for some of the friends made in my other hobby (pen collecting) too. One in particular really touched me recently. It is a real blessing to have friends. I am thankful for all of them. Here are just two.

It's also still a blessing every time I get on my bike and pedal. I was reminded this weekend that there are those whose circumstances keep them from doing something like this and who would trade places with me gladly. There is a verse in scripture that tells us to learn contentment in our circumstance, whatever it is. It's easy to be content when you have a great family, good friends, and opportunities to spend enjoyable time with both. I pray that I am able to be as content when the deck is not so stacked in my favor.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My 1st Century Ride in 2 years

Saturday was another appearance for me at the Tri-States 100 in Dothan, AL. I consider the ride director to be a friend, and have ridden in the event many (but not all) times since it started up 13 years ago. ( I've mostly done the metric century, but have ridden the full 100 miles too, although before there were Backroads Series medals for it.( The backroads series is a cool concept and has greatly helped promote these events in a state chock full of great places to pedal. (Don't tell too many people that. With AL ranked the 50th most friendly state for cycling, no one thinks we can ride down here)

I knew it was going to be a rushed affair for me. I work in GA most weeks (I've been in NC and SC this week as it happens, but will head back to my GA office before going home) and the long drive home gets me to Prattville at 7 PM. Our usual Friday night dinner date custom has become "meet me at Panera" so we grab some You Pick Twos there and enjoy some social time before arriving to the mad barking of two whacko dogs (73 and 92 lbs each) who are exploding with joy at seeing us. How high can a 92 lb dog jump? You'd be surprised.  Anyway, it was after 8:00 when I put the bike rack on my car, filled water bottles, pulled out the clothes I would ride in, found the garmin, the road ID, made sure I had my gloves and helmet and sun block spray. Took the bike down and checked the air, brakes and chain (ABC quick check, anyone?). Then unpacked from the week, and sat for a few minutes in the recliner before heading to bed because

At 2:30 AM, the alarm was set to go off. I HATE that alarm so I always get up before it sounds. I woke up at 2:21 and started my coffee, and grabbed a bowl of cereal as I flashed through the rest of the get up and go routine. There was even time to read my daily Bible portion (I like and use the M'Chyne system.   No commentary, just readings organized in an interesting way. ( before heading off to meet Candace at 3:25 by Academy Sports.  We threw her bike on the rack and hit the road for the 2 1/4 hr ride to Dothan.

The ride down was fine and we arrived at the start just 15 minutes after they opened for sign in. Plenty of time meet and greet in the parking lot. Super turn out (28?) of Montgomery area riders in all. I got to meet Alton, who was wearing the same Selma50 jersey that I was, as well as say hi to long time buddies I don't often ride with anymore like Joe. (Because I am so slow). There was plenty of time for a group picture but some confusion as to where to take it. In the end we got many but not all in the picture.
We all look excited and fresh here. It doesn't last :)

I was looking forward to doing this ride. The fact that it has been two years since I've done this distance didn't matter to me. I felt good, had dropped a few pounds and had a confirmed buddy for the trip (Candace). I was surprised throughout the day how awake and energized I felt, other then a few times late in the day when the heat and the wind and climbs and the loss of salt and fluids make me just a tad knocked silly. But brief rests and some drinking fixed that.

The check in went smoothly and the ride start was mishap free. My only gripe is that the picture that I'm in of the start shows me looking down at the pedal strap I was aiming for with my left foot.

 I always want that heroic master of the road look, and never get it. If I'm looking up then all that really stands out is the spare tire I'm carrying around my middle.  Not bandoleer style like the good old days, Michelin man style. Maybe if I lose 10 more lbs!  Btw, I'm down about the weight of a steel framed bike these days and only 1.88 mph faster on average. So there is NO reason to spring for big bucks to buy a carbon frame bike only to save what, 4 lbs maybe? Another .4 of a mph? Not really.

The ride started off with a gentle downhill and police controlled intersections which was lovely. About 2 1/2 miles out though, my trusty OLD Zefal XP4 pump dislodged from the seat tube and got wedged sideways between the seat tube and the rear wheel as well as in the chain and jammed into the big chainring. INSTANT stop. fortunately, I did not wreck and pulled off to see about it. Candace and Sarah stopped with me as did a nice local guy who I do not know. After spending a few minutes bending over it, and trying to disengage the pump while not breaking anything on the bike (so I could continue to ride) I decided to let the air out of the tire, hoping the pump would re fill it. The air did the trick and we got the pump out, but it was damaged and no longer able to work, Candace offered a CO2 unit she had. I asked how it works and she replied by shrugging her shoulders. Yeah, when you're cute like she is, plenty of help around to pump your tires for you, I'm sure. After fiddling with it, she figured it out and we sprayed some into the morning air by accident, and put the rest in my tire. This was a 33 mm 650B tire so I ended up with 20 lbs of pressure. I like to run my tires light, but not quite that light. 50 - 60 is more like it. I hoped a floor pump might be available at the rest stop ahead. We did run up on a SAG truck helping some folks, and they had a pump, so we didn't have to wait for the rest stop. It turned out fine. The tire held pressure and no other flats happened.

When we got to the rest stop, we were way behind all the metric and century riders due to about 20 minutes of mechanical fix and tire pump time. Instead of the rest stop being picked clean though, it was totally well stocked! It turns out that they had a little mix up and were late setting up so most of the riders had gone by and either waited for rest stop 2 or hit a store along the way as needed.  We caught up with 3 other century riders at the rest stop, and passed them when we departed.  Further on, we overtook several more. I told Candace that this would happen as some who jumped out fast started to lose steam. We (and by this I mean me, and Candace who graciously remained in hailing range) lost some steam too on the later hills, but were still able to pull in the 16 - 18 range on flats even at the end. We only slowed to the 14 is range on flats in the face of headwinds. Our overall average at the end was right at 14 too, which is dead center of the target range we had set.

We met up with and rode for a while with the Pecan City Pedalers. Richard and Sharon said to say hi to Prattville riders John and Kathy. I rode with them years ago on this event and they invited me to do their century, over in Albany GA. It's a good one. I've only ridden it the one time though. Maybe two. I forget. We also made some new friends at the rest stops including "PK" a British exchange student officer at Maxwell AFB. We ran into old friends too as we gained ground (remember we had almost a half hour penalty to start) and at least saw them leave rest stops as we got there. We rode with Chris for a while, or rather played leapfrog with him. We'd pass one another and then rest and then vice versa.

Finally, we made it in, and had our "happy to be off this saddle!" photo.

We thought the rest stop volunteers were very nice, and the Gorp, PB&J and pickle juice all went down well. So did the post ride pizza. The new route is generally good. The roads heading north from FL in west GA are very rough and hammered us, especially since that was into the headwind. In parts of GA, that's what you get, so next time, I'll run my 38mm tires instead and get real cush. Or man up and stop being such a wuss. One of the two.  I loved the conversation driving down and driving back. You know, solving the world's problems and getting to know a friend better. Not a bit of sleepiness crept in. Much more energy than 2 years ago, once I had cooled off and re fluidized.

Good ride, GREAT company, and fine performance by a 31 year old bike. It's a 1984 TREK 660, 650B conversion. Campy Victory headset, brake levers (awesome levers) and front der. Campy Veloce compact double on the drive side (the original Victory 1/2 step requires more power than I have. I kept the original Victory non drive side crank arm.) and Shimano Ultegra rear der. Wheels are old Suntour hubs with Dura Ace freewheel 12- 28. Velocity Aerohead 28s wheels (rare). Dura ace bar ends. Front tire is a Rivendell Speedblend (original version) and the rear is a Grand Bois Cypres Here it is: "The Flash"with the original crank, and a Brooks B5N that I switched to a black Selle Anatomica.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Life is back to normal today. 364 cyclists and 84 volunteers collaborated on Saturday 2/21/15 to ride from Selma to Montgomery AL, commemorating the 1965 Voters Rights March, led by John Lewis and M.L. King. From the seed of an idea mentioned in passing on a bike ride by buddy Max Britton to working out the actual route, test riding it last Summer, and then getting momentum from Montgomery Bicycle Club President Jeff Feet (who believed we HAD to go ahead with this idea) and attracting other hard working and talented volunteers, it became a consuming beast of a thing. Our Transportation guru, Jeff Periatt, likened us to ducks; serene above the water but feet paddling madly below the surface. He was spot on. All the while, the regular weekly schedule of club rides continued and did I mention that we have day jobs too?

There were idle discussions, planning meetings at Panera Bread and flurries of emails back and forth. We recruited or drafted help where and when we could and finally put the word out in December that we were going to do this ride in February. We intended to have riders park in Montgomery, be transported with bikes to Selma and pedal back. Simple, right? Who would want to go on a 50 mile ride in February? We thought MAYBE 20 people would take the bait and do it. We agreed with Jeff Feet that we SHOULD do the ride regardless. The events we were remembering were worth it. Getting cycling noticed in the community was worth it. Attracting a more diverse ridership was worth it. It just took doing it. The ride became possible in practical terms when Robert and Bonnie Traphan threw in with us. They are the club Treasurer and Secretary and they put on the annual supported club century ride in the Fall, our Glassner Autumn Challenge. (check it out! ). They knew the nuts and bolts of doing a ride. Jeff Periatt, a marketing professor, enlisted his classes to do marketing items for the ride as practical real world applications of what they were studying. Jeff also was sucked into the whirlpool of trying to arrange the right amount of transportation resources for a moving target number of riders.

In the end, we had over 350 cyclists pedaling and 85+ volunteers and others providing support. That the course was made tough by headwinds and the riders had to work hard seemed to heighten the sense of following in the footsteps of marchers who did not have it cushy either.Other than the wind, the weather was cooperative for the one day it needed to be. There were some glitches and behind the scenes rough spots, which are action points for any future endeavors of this sort. Overall though, the riders felt satisfaction with the ride, the history, the event and what we were doing there. Coastal Progressives might not understand how things are done in "Flyover Country" but the riders sure did. This ride was put on by a small group of white people who felt like they should do something to bridge a racial divide in a way that they could. To that extent, it was successful. Already, we have had black volunteers who want to help to do this again. That alone will improve our perspective greatly. We found that cycling IS more than just going for a pedal. It can be a basis for broader relationship. Before we were insulated on highways in our cars, everyone rode a bike. In fact, the first roads paved were done so for bikes, not for cars, which hadn't come along in any great numbers yet. Insulation is the enemy of camaraderie.

We had a white mayor and a black mayor both welcome the group and invite them to see their fair cities. None of the other elected officials we invited came. Only one, Congresswoman Roby, replied to the invite. Well, her staff did with a "thanks but the schedule is full." We heard that the governor was out of town, nothing about any others.  Cycling has a way to go before it shows up on the radar as a "thing" to most people. The potential is there though. Can you see it?

This was a great thing for me personally to be a part of. Goes back to some events of my own childhood that I had forgotten about until they came bubbling up, unbidden. Our team worked long and hard and we still made some mistakes. But we can't let that stop us from moving ahead. We wondered at first  how much of the club's money we might lose if no one showed up for this ride. It turned out to be a sell out and we will present a sizable check to the event beneficiary, The Dexter-King Parsonage Museum. we also will make smaller donations to five other causes, including the BRAG (youth cycling) Dream Team.  The club made no money on the ride, but we did not lose any either.

We present a report on the event to the Montgomery City Council soon. Our riders made an economic impact to the area. If the city will have a more cycling friendly place, more cyclists will come here and that is good for business. The more drivers expect to see cyclists, the safer it is for cyclists. Think space for cycling in transportation planning, bike racks near points of interest, and so on.

The first ever state wide bike conference is in Montgomery next month. Another sign of progress.

Rather than post pictures and stories here, I'll point the reader to our hashtag (my first one ever!) #selma50ride. You can find articles in at least 4 newspapers,,  Facebook, etc.

I'm looking forward to riding this weekend. Are you?

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