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

Monday, October 9, 2017

On top of the Mountain!

That's how I felt Friday when I came home from my week on the road. There were several items of mail on my desk including a box from  Richard who used to live a few blocks from me and who pedaled some with us while he was stationed in town. This package came from Germany. First, I was thrilled that he thought of me, as our time together was brief and I have learned that part of the psychological survival technique of military people is to be friendly with those currently around them, but be ready to move on when the next assignment comes. Then, I opened the box and this is inside:
It's the real deal. A Tour de France jersey in the polka dot pattern worn by the champion hill climber. Richard got it when he went to watch a stage of the race in person at Dusseldorf. A TdF jersey from the real TdF! Of course, it's a perfect juxtaposition. I am a snail going up hills and he knows this having ridden with me. I may have the lowest gear ratio known that can be used and still remain upright on a bicycle. But I have the jersey for the fastest climber! I LOVE IT. Richard asked (and I can see him doing this with a straight face, although I was reading the letter he enclosed) if I could possibly work around the fact that this item is wicking synthetic and not wool.  Oh, the delightful irony! Well, I wore it on Saturday! With wool shorts and socks. (That's me on the 1984 Trek 660 made from Reynolds 531c tubes)

And here's the scary part.  I rode 2 mph over my typical pace. People were saying, "you're riding faster these days!"  No, just that one ride. But I'm keeping this jersey for when I need some extra speed. :)  Richard, you so made my day!  Thanks a ton. Look for a letter mailed today. 

In other news, this Saturday will be my 1st experiment in renting out bikes. A club member noted a website started up to connect ride needers with ride owners, called Spinlister. 2 riders from Iowa are coming to town to do our club century and they are renting Ferrous Bueller and Louise (2 steel framed lugged bikes). We'll see how that goes. I've also been on a wheel building craze. I've replaced some worn out hubs and put road hubs in place of MTB so the wheels will fit my bikes. When you build several in series, the lacing and tightening kind of becomes a groove and it's quite enjoyable. I think (pretty sure) that I have a good feel for the tension. I check of course for roundness and dish, but I get it pretty close just by the feel when I do it.  Maybe my next career will be a wheel builder?

I wrote back in August about helping a relative build a bike.  It came out well, but she had some initial flats caused I think by the too thin Origin8 brand rim tape. Switching to Velox seems to have cured that. I'm looking forward to bringing a bike of mine out that way in a few weeks and pedaling together with cousin Becky. Here's a picture of her new bike that I took while on a test ride before I delivered it to her.

It rides well and looks pretty. It should last her a long time too.

Next year's RUSA schedule is approved with 11 events. Including 3 at once. (a 100, 200 and 300 all on the same course). Hopefully, my new friend Andy in the GA RUSA group will get on the stick and organize the joint ride we have been talking about. With some good eats along the way. There are some nice folks over there. A Tennessee rider who can slow down to keep me company has agreed to ride our Mountain Music 200K next Spring (assuming she can get the time off from work to drive down) I'll have to wear the dots!

I mentioned that there were a few mail items waiting for me.  One was a pen made by 11 year old Ramsay Short. I read about him in a newspaper article. Great young entrepreneur who bought a wood lathe and makes pens to sell. He donates a portion from his proceeds to 2 local charities. It's a ballpoint, but I was happy to support him.  Finally, a more professional pen, made by Bexley, came as well. It is a special edition fountain pen to mark the 10K member of a pen group, and it  writes great. Talk about hitting for the cycle, that's 4 great things to talk about tonight. And I'm talking about the cycle because the team from where I was born (NYY) is back in the playoffs. At least for the moment. Their opponent (Cleveland) is very tough. And I like to cycle. SO I can cycle the bases or cycle the bikes. It's all good.

See you on a hill somewhere.  Look for the polka dots.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hot Fun In The Summertime

Yes, as Sly and The Family Stone sang it way back when, when it's Summer, the heat is up and the fun is too. Despite sales trips out of town and rainy days that have dampened my mileage for the year, I'm still close to 2,000 miles for the year and that's fine. When not riding in or being the admin for a RUSA ride on Saturdays, I still post the club C pace (13 - 15 mph avg. 40 - 50 miles long) outings. There don't seem to be too many riders in that group anymore. Some have moved up to B or A group and others don't ride these days. I feel like a school teacher as I graduate a new class each year from C to B and look for the next batch of riders taking up serious cycling. None on the horizon right now though.  It may not be long that I'll be just posting a note; "Going for a ride, company welcome." and pedal solo or with a few others. If the distance is short, I can go faster. I can't hold the pace though for 50 or 60 miles.

Today, we rode a pretty loop between a suburb of Prattville (Booth) and a small community in south Chilton County known as Enterprise. Jennifer suggested this ride some time back and so it is known as "Jenn's Enterprise". It was warmer and more humid than forecast, sunnier and the wind was opposite the prediction of the night before. Other than that the weather app was right on target. I didn't wear sunglasses due to the forecast and I should have. I'm glad I put on sun block anyway, or I would have burned.  6 of us set out and were soon met by the B group which started earlier on a metric century and planned to catch us on the way. They had 10 speedy spandex whippets but it was still good to exchange greetings as our groups merged for a hundred yards or so. Plenty of fluids today and rest stops as needed to manage sweating and core temp. The air was drier by 11:00 AM but it got very hot.

Some of our riders are on their way back from one thing or another. Jenn is still not fully back from a bout with C. Difficile that required 2 separate hospitalizations and had her "scratching" (to use her term) on death's door. Dawn has a cartilage-less knee which was giving her problems today. She really had to ease up over the hills. Stan has been off the bike tending to ill family members so he is still working on getting back to 100%.  I have no reasons to explain being slow like others do. I'm just slow :) Sarah and Tim were riding just fine. I'm proud of them all.  Still other friends not present today are mending from one thing or another. Stafford broke a bone in a crash with a dog in late June. Holly is getting back into shape after her bike was rear ended by a car. Tony was with family today, but had recent foot surgery. Jeff who wiped out on the last turn of Sunday's social ride and left some skin on the road was out looking good with the B riders today.  It all serves as a reminder to me to appreciate what we have including opportunities to enjoy our rides.

The first stop was the store at Posey's Crossroads. They have not let cyclists use their bathroom for one excuse or another since new ownership has come in. For years prior to that, we did and bought fluid and food refills there.  Today it was a "flooding" issue. That didn't stop a store employee from using it though. Now that Dollar General is open across the street, we'll have to move. Anyway, Sarah needed to GO, so Jenn tells her about a spot behind the office building just down the street. People are IN the office! Sarah is obviously experienced at this because she click clacks in her cleats in and out of the secret spot in back in just a moment or two. Two questions form in my mind. How does Jenn know where this spot is and how is Sarah so adept at utilizing it?  This is reinforced later at another location where Jenn points to a secluded spot for Sarah again.  At least guys use trees, in the woods,  you know? Or plumbing at the Enterprise Store Stop where they were more welcoming.

We ended up with a moving average in the C range and everyone said they really enjoyed the ride. Especially Sarah. ;)

My wife's cousin Becky who lives in LA asked me a little while back for some help in finding the right bike. She previously had a TREK race bike but doesn't want to go that way again. After some back and forth, I thought the perfect bike for her would be a Rivendell Betty Foy or Cheviot, but they are quite spendy. I hunted around and remembered a small boutique company out on the west coast that has bikes made in the same factory as many other brands, including Rivendell, but at a much lower price. Becky agreed and so I am working with Trey at Cycle Therapy in Rome GA (where I ride every other week) on building this bike. Trey also sells custom steel framed bikes (they make them locally) and rides steel often himself. He "gets" what I'm after here for Becky. I posted the picture on FaceBook and it got a lot of likes. In case you missed it:

It should be ready in a couple of weeks. It's a French style bike. The goal is that it feels just right and she never even knows the thinking that went into matching the parts together, I'm very excited to be part of the project. It should come in at about 1/3 the cost of the Rivendell. Or what you might have bought a Riv for back in 2000 or so. I have 2 Rivs and love the ride, the handling and the dependability. I am really looking forward to a pedal with Becky after she gets the bike.

I mentioned RUSA earlier. We have an intro ride, called a "populaire" coming up on 8/19 down on the coast at Orange Beach. It's 100KM (62 miles) and you get the BEACH after the ride. I can't believe more people haven't signed up, but so far it's me and about 4 others. In Sept, there is a more challenging 400K ride from Florala through the FL panhandle and back.  This is our first year at Alabama Randonneurs with rides in the south part of the state. If no riders from the area want in, we'll drop that idea next year. Most of our routes are in the Mid and north areas. As the admin (called an RBA) I hope to have routes all over the state. There is a tedious process to get them certified, and I have a local 200K to work on now that we will run next year.

I've committed to ride a century (100+ miles) with friends in Tallassee next month and in October I'll ride our club century (workers ride - I work the event itself), and I'm doing the rest of the RUSA events this year either pedaling or supporting. Plenty on my calendar bike-wise.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

We're Back On Our Saddles Again!

To paraphrase the country music classic. Yesterday, the regional cycling season kicked off with the Restoration Ride in Alpine AL. It's a fundraiser for a grist mill historical exhibit and in the 3rd year of existence drew its largest crowd to date. As always, it was wonderful to shout "Hi!" to those riders one only sees at these types of events, since they don't live near me. Our River Region was well represented and a number of us rode together. Club nabobs Bonnie and Robert had the new jerseys with them which they passed out. I put mine on over the wool I wore to the event and it served well as a windscreen on a damp, cool and overcast day. It sprinkled some too. Here's a picture taken just before the sun went behind the clouds for good.

It was a pleasant outing and I enjoyed the rideshare conversation up and back (90 mins each way +/-) as well as chitchat with a variety of local and out of town cyclists who I fell in with at different points along the way. I met a couple of new people including a fellow Rivendell rider from the Auburn area. My pace was a bit slower than usual, and I finished refreshed and ready for more. I reminded myself to do this more often :)  The post ride food was very good and I was delighted to see a table with a "Vegan" sign on it! There were other plant based eaters present too so it was a very nice touch.

The nicest thing, and the one that I am still somewhat emotional about, came while a group of us were sitting around eating after the ride. Somehow the topic of how one of our riders got started in cycling came up. One of those at the table said that it was because of me. Then one after another repeated that. I said that I just love bikes and riding and it's a joy to share that with others. But to know that people are getting good out of it and are now themselves sharing it with others is very satisfying to me. I told Sharon about it when I got home and got a little teary. And I'm not usually like that. 

Leaving the parking lot to go home, we soon came upon a rider with a large backpack, heading the same way we were. Brian Toone of course! His training ride for the day included a pedal from Birmingham, the Restoration Ride, and a return pedal to Birmingham. Brian is training for this year's RAAM. He placed in the top 10 on his last outing and looks to improve this year. Nice guy too. I rolled the window down and called out to him and he said hi back but I'm sure he had no idea who it was. 

RUSA season in Alabama starts next weekend with the Homestead Hollow 100K. I'm looking forward to it.


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