Monday, December 28, 2009


Well, maybe it won't be too bad. Sunday I rode the same route as Saturday in almost identical conditions and averaged 16.8 mph without ever feeling stressed or out of breath. That was a one mph improvement over Saturday and pretty standard for that route.

Off to the cardiologist today to see what he (she?) has to say.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Red Tape

Seems like no matter what project I get involved in there are always multiple layers of red tape to negotiate. Today's project, though was pure red tape. Finally got the no longer white, almost two year old tape off. Letting me have anything white is a mistake, from the moment it comes into my possession it starts a (rapid) journey to dirty gray. Black would probably be the best choice for me, but I wanted red, so red it is. I think it looks good. Well, at least better.

There were only two things on my Christmas list; red handlebar tape and a new water bottle. I got the bottle too.

Haven't been riding so much the past few weeks. Holiday busy-ness, early sunsets, and uncooperative weather put a limit on the available riding time. On top of that, I just haven't been feeling all that great. Someplace way back there in an earlier post I mentioned a minor heart problem that cycling seemed to alleviate, if not eliminate. Maybe it's age, maybe it's stress, who knows, but after being dormant for a couple of years the irregular heartbeat has returned. Finally saw a doctor about it last week and got put on a medication to slow my heart rate. So far it seems to be helping and today I went for a short 29 mile ride to see how the medication affected me. The ride went ok with heart rates ten to twelve bpm lower than what I usually see. I noticed that maybe I wasn't quite as "aerobic" as before -sort of getting out of breath at the upper rates, but that could just be my imagination. I hope I get to try again tomorrow. As of now I need 151.1 miles to get to 5000, and no, I ain't gonna make it in the next five days. Maybe next year.

Next week more doctors and tests. No fun. There had better not be any mention of not riding.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Annie had her kitten prevention operation Wednesday. She seems a little subdued now, bit recovering nicely, with short flashes of the little terror she tends to be. I just added up all her vet bills... shots, worming, de-fleaing meds, and the operation. Let me see, at $600 that would make this one expensive "free" stray kitten, and the most expensive pet we have ever had. Still, though, I'm glad she is here.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Toes Froze

Yesterday during my cycling shopping binge I spent a lot of time examining wind and water resistant booties. In the end I elected not to buy them. It is just hard for me to purchase winter type stuff given how short and mild the winters are here. Not very far into today's ride having booties would have been wonderful. Forty two degrees, windy and raining is a pretty good recipe for getting chilled, but even though I was soaked within minutes I was comfortable - except for my feet. The Pearl Izumi Softshell gloves kept my hands warm, but they are definitely water resistant, not water proof. They were soaked through too, but still warm. I rode a whopping 21.7 miles, stopping only because my toes were so cold. It's supposed to get down to 26 tonight, but tomorrow will be about 50 and sunny. Quite an improvement.

Given the dark gray dreariness and limited visibility of the day the addition of the Planet Bike Rack Blinky on the seat post made me feel a bit more secure - although it's probably a false sense, but having it on can't hurt. It is a pretty bright light, though and fits quite nicely under the seat bag.

Today's weather forced the Liberty Christmas Parade to be rescheduled to December 19. We were looking forward to going, hopefully we don't have anything that Saturday to prevent us from attending.

Friday, December 04, 2009


The thing with plans is that if the best laid ones often go awry, the casual "tomorrow I'm gonna..." type don't stand a chance. Seems to be a good reason not to plan ahead, so mostly I don't, much to the dismay of several people around here who would like to know what we are "gonna do tomorrow". My usual answer "We'll see".

With my flat shortened ride last Saturday (planned 65 miles, completed 34), a scant 20 miles on Sunday, then only managing to commute Monday morning for an additional 6 miles, today's vacation day looked like the perfect chane to do a little catching up. I planned a nice long midday ride. I got 2.5 miles. Then I heard the dreaded tell tale hiss, silence, hiss, silence, hiss of a deflating tire. The rear tire again. It didn't go unnoticed last Saturday when I repaired that puncture that the tire was getting a bit, umm, thin. Four thousand miles will do that, I suppose, but even though the cords were beginning to show through I figured I could get a few more miles out of it. Throw that on the bad decision pile, especially since I went to Performance Bike last Saturday after I got the flat and picking up a new tire would have made sense - which is my excuse for not doing it.

If I was going to do any more riding this weekend it meant I'd have to take a trip to Greensboro today and get another tire. Good thing I had the day off! Having driven the 25 miles to the big city, I couldn't just go one place, so first it was Performance, then REI, and I couldn't just get one tire, I got two, along with some other stuff:

Performance supplied me with the tires, citrus degreaser, and Velcro strap thingies to keep my pants from getting sucked into the chain when I commute. I had one, but I think Annie took it. She does things like that. I came away from REI with a pair of Pearl Izumi (I like their stuff best) water and wind resistant winter gloves and a Planet Bike tail light for the non commuter bike.

Today, then turned out to be a little like an early Christmas. The bike now has a new rear tire and is all set for tomorrow, which is supposed to be 40 degrees and raining. Not the best riding weather, but my hands will be warm. Not that I'm planning to ride....

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Ignore the fact that my ineptitude as a photographer caused me to include a closeup of one of my fingers. I'm new to this camera in a phone thing. This bike caught my eye, first because it was parked at the gas pump, and second because of the unique handlebar installation. I am not sure how the brakes might operate, but, maybe it's a practice thing. The electrical tape is a nice, but I'll bet somewhat sticky, touch. Not sure I'd want the sharp ends of those brake levers pointed at me. Not long after I saw that, I came across this, too at Riding Pretty :

So I guess what I saw is the '09 small town North Carolina version of 1970's California beach coolness. At least his bars and brake levers will only puncture pedestrians.

It was a weekend of half rides. Saturday I intended a 100k ride, but ran over something 34 miles in and flatted the rear tire. Although I had everything I needed to repair it, I just called home and had CJ come pick me up. I figured by the time I got the tire fixed my motivation to ride another 28 miles would be gone.

Lately my Sunday rides have been 40 miles, but today I decided to use up some of the leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes in Potato Rosemary bread (we have a huge rosemary bush in the garden) so I squeezed a 20 mile ride in during the second rise. Truth is I'd spent a lot of time raking vast quantities of leaves this weekend, and 20 miles was plenty.

The bread was amazing, by the way. CJ made turkey soup to go with it, and it was a good combination.

About 326 miles to go to get to 5000.....

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Thinking that those three days off the bike I mentioned yesterday had left me rested and ready to flatten hills and battle moderate headwinds I set out on a 100k ride. I felt good when I set out, but about halfway through my legs told me they'd had enough. I kept going, even though it was a struggle and finished 100k with an average of 16.1 mph. My legs were stiff and sore, and tired and the usual apres ride stretching was. uh, difficult, to say the least.

Don't really know what the problem was, but I feel like either my allergies are acting up, or perhaps I am coming down with something. Hope not. Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be better than today's (which was pretty nice, even though the wind was 10 to 15 mph) with light and variable winds. I have come to the conclusion that "variable" is a euphemism for " no matter what direction you go, the wind will always be in your face.

But I got 100k in today - so I accomplished what I set out to do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. With apologies to Clement Moore.

Much to my dismay, it was not Santa and eight tiny reindeer. No, it was what was left of hurricane Ida bearing the gift of a lot of rain and 40 mph winds. This pine tree became so excited it decided to swap vertical for horizontal, and picked the only direction where anything could be damaged. I don't think I ever went from sound asleep to fully awake that fast before.

We had someone come this morning and remove it from the house. I would have, but I don't do heights, and climbing on a roof doesn't do anything except instill fear in me. So I paid someone with a bucket truck to do it. That truck is neat, though. Now, if I had one of those..... Anyway, it turns out there are two holes in the roof where branches punched through. We repaired those by slipping a couple of pieces of sheet metal under the shingles. Should be pretty watertight long enough for us to get repairs scheduled. The sheet metal, by the way, was cut from an old cookie sheet. Use whatever you have handy, I guess.

Ida brought my riding streak to an end at 28 days, and now I have been off the bike for 3 days. Yeah, I could have ridden the trainer and kept it going but there are parts of my body that are thanking me for the time off. Tomorrow, though is supposed to be sunny and in the 70's so those body parts better be ready.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Dressing for a ride this time of year seems to be a no win thing. Trying to find something that might be comfortable when it's about 45 degrees at the start and 70 at the finish is next to impossible. I manage to dress so I span the entire range from too cold to too warm, but, for a brief period in the middle, I'm just right. Shades of Goldilocks there....

Now that I'm riding both bikes it amazes me just how different they are, and how much faster and easier to ride the Roubaix is. It can't all come down to weight, can it? Of course I can't put a rack on it and convert it into a commuter, anyway. Maybe pedaling that extra 12 pounds of bike plus about 10 more pounds of stuff back and forth to work is good for me. Can't hurt.

Got in a little more than 100km today (actual was 64.05 miles) and averaged 16.5 mph. This also was my 25th consecutive day on the bike. Should be able to make 30, easily. So now I'm at 4307.19 miles with eight weeks left in the year. Is 5000 miles really possible? That would be an average of 86.6 miles per week. This week was 154.54, so maybe....

Giving Credit

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but with procrastination being one of the things I do well, it keeps being put off. Since I am waiting for both the sun and temperature to rise before setting out on a bike ride, now seems a good time to take care of it.

Besides - it moves some other stuff to the back burner. That's always a good thing - means I'll have something to do later.

Way back in December 2007 I posted this about a close encounter of the frightening kind with a tractor trailer owned by Allen's Family Foods along with a copy of the email I had sent them complaining about it. I never got a reply, but that doesn't mean it was ignored.

Allen's operation in Liberty is pretty big, and it is rare to go for a bike ride without encountering at least one of their vehicles, whether it's a car, pickup truck, or tractor trailer. Since I am out there so much, I see them all the time, and ever since I wrote to them there has not been one single instance where one of them has passed me with anything less than a wide berth and care. They always stay behind and follow until it is safe to pass. For that, I am grateful.

I can't know if my writing to them caused this, but it doesn't really matter. The respect and responsibility their drivers show for other traffic should be commended and an example for other vehicle operators - cyclists included.

I see, all the time, in cycling blogs and sites the complaints about how we are treated by drivers of motor vehicles, and it is all valid. It takes a lot of courage and faith to go for a ride on public roads. I guess we should give some time to pointing out when an effort is made to reduce the danger, and give credit to those who do that. Maybe that's a step forward in the process of educating drivers that bikes belong. Maybe getting the support of corporations through educating the drivers of their vehicles would be a good place to start, and maybe it would trickle down to everyone.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shoe Repairs

While both my bikes are fitted with Look pedals, I wasn't paying enough (any) attention when I bought the ones for the newer bike. Because I don't RTFLable (neither will I RFTM, when one is available) I ended up with pedals using the Keo cleats on the new one, while the pedals on the old bike use Deltas. I ended up not riding the old bike anymore, and there was an ancient pair of Performance cycling shoes stowed away in the closet, anyway, if I wanted to, so there really wasn't a problem.

Then, a month ago I started this commuting thing....

The first few days I wore my steel toe Red Wing work boots, which felt a little weird pedaling on clipless pedals. but it seemed to work ok. After about a week of that, though, I decided to leave the boots at the office and wear the old cycling shoes to ride. Wow, does it ever make a difference both in comfort and efficiency.

Within a couple of days I noticed the soles were separating from the shoes, though.

Not wanting to buy another pair of shoes or pedals, plus being cheap and broke, I decided to fix them. Here's how.

I got some Loctite 480. It is great stuff. I have used it to stick two pieces of steel together, and was amazed at how much it took to break them apart.

Here is how I applied it.

And then clamped them together to let the adhesive cure. I let them sit like this for about three hours, which is overkill, but I had the time.
So now the shoes are as good, if not better than new. And, much to my amazement, I did all this without gluing my fingers together - something I usually do when I use Loctite. All in all, a success.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Today would have been a good day to bring the bike in and set up the trainer. Suffering inside for an hour or so looked like my best option for getting a ride in and extending my consecutive day record to nineteen. It had been pouring all night, the wind was 10 to 15, with gusts to the far side of twenty five, and it was kind of cold (53) for wet riding. For some reason though, just before my mind was made up to stay in, the sun peeked through the clouds, and I changed my mind. An outside for me. Of course the sun stayed out just long enough to suck me into that choice. Within 15 minutes it was raining again, and that wind - from the north - was strong enough to force me onto the small chain ring on level ground. When I turned south, though, I flew. Riding with a tailwind is always a joy and makes me feel fast, even for an old guy. But man did I pay when I turned North. I rode 37.26 miles, averaged 16.4 mph and got home cold, soaked (my fingers and toes looked like prunes) and tired, but it was still a better than riding in the house.

This is what the road in Fogelman Acres looked like this morning. Not just wet, but wet with a layer of drenched leaves. I usually get through this corner at about 25 mph in the dry, and 20 in the wet. Today stopping to take a picture and then coasting around it at about 10 seemed a good idea. It still felt slippery.

October's miles were 469.89 with 24 rides. Commuting really adds to the ride total, even though it doesn't do that much for the mileage - just 57 a week. Now that I am doing it, I can't believe it took me this long to start riding to work. Not having to buy gas is nice. In the past five weeks I figure I've saved about $60. Not bad - a little exercise and a little extra money in my pocket. I like that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

We Need More

I found this over at Mad Blog Media. The article linked to there is interesting. More riders = safer cycling, and it makes sense. So, how do we get more people out there?

I'll be out there today, making 18 consecutive days of riding. My previous record was 5.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Caveat Emptor

Or, at least read the fine print.

The prices for chicken seemed pretty good when we last went to Sam's Club. Unfortunately if you read the tag it says "case sell only" so the prominently displayed price was, to say the least, a little misleading. The only place the price per pound for the packages was on the packages themselves, and it was significantly higher. I wonder how many people fell for it. We almost did.

Food Lion has a better trick. Often the items in the cases and shelves for buy one get one free sales are similar to the ones actually on sale, but are not on sale at all. Not being that attentive at the checkout, I would only find this out when I got home and discovered I'd paid double what I thought I had. Now I read the upc labels on the sale items to make sure it matches the one on the sign.

I guess you make money however you can.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It's hard to get some things past me. For instance, recently I became aware that summer is over and fall has commenced. The shorter days and cooler temps gave it away. I'm not all that fond of less daylight, but the cooler temperatures are really, er, cool. Its nice to be able to turn off the AC and open the windows. Our new kitten also seems to enjoy an open window.

It was mentioned to her that she should not do this again.

Another thing I've noticed is the leaves changing color. One of my goals for today's bike ride was to get some pictures of the fall foliage to share. The only other goals were to get in a decent road ride in spite of the 20 mile per hour winds and have fun.

First, the pictures. I took this one:

And this one:

I know what you're thinking: nothing too spectacular. You're right. Now, the fall foliage here is never going to rival that of say, Vermont, and having lived in Vermont, I know first hand how spectacular it can be, but sometimes it is kind of pleasant here. Not this year, though. This year it looks like almost everything is going to varying hues of brown. Oh well, the have been shared so I met all of the goals I set for the day.

The rest of the ride was great in spite of the wind. The temp was in the low 50's and I somehow managed to pick just the right amount to wear, so I was comfortable. I got in 38.46 miles and averaged 16.7 mph. Today made twelve consecutive days of riding, although yesterday was an hour on the trainer due to the uncooperative weather that didn't clear out until it was too late to go for a ride outside. I spent an hour on it for 16.8 miles.

Tomorrow starts another week of bike commuting. Now that I am doing it I wonder why I could never convince myself to before.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everyone Loves a Parade

Or not...but it gives me a chance to try embedding a slide show - something new. I'm overdue for learning something new.

Today was the homecoming parade for Providence Grove High School. I saw the floats staging outside my office, and since everyone else had already gone for the weekend, I left too. Having my bike made getting down the parade route quicker than walking and easier than driving, finding a place to park and then walking. As for having my bike, I rode it to work every day this week. In fact, I have ridden it in almost every day for the past month, rain or shine. This morning was rain, even though it was neither forecast nor showing up on the weather radar. Don't know how they pulled that one off. All I know is it was very wet. The lunchtime ride home was partly cloudy, and the evening ride home was shine, so we got it all in one day. The lunchtime ride also put me over 4000 miles for the year, and with the ride home tonight I am now at 4008, with two months left to add some more.

Also a record for me: ten consecutive days of riding. Granted the mileage each day isn't much, just 12 each weekday, but it's still riding. Even though there's still enough daylight to ride after work I'm up against having to ride into the setting sun no matter what route I choose. I figure if the sun is blinding me I can't really expect motorists coming up behind me to actually see me, after all, some of them don't seem to even under the best conditions, so I am reluctant to challenge them further. I can still get long rides on the weekend, though. Well, maybe not tomorrow - thunderstorms and lots of wind are predicted, so maybe I'll have to get out the trainer. There, I said it. But, since I don't have a trainer tire, I have an out, if I feel particularly wimpy.

And now, without further ado, a parade of pictures of a small town parade for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Scary Out There

It was mentioned that I hadn't updated this blog for a while. So here ya go! I have intended to, but, well, you know what they say about intentions... I compose some pretty good entries in my head during my rides, but they seem to vanish by the time I get home and turn on the computer.

I continue commuting the three miles into Liberty most days. I should have started this a long time ago. Even with the heavy old bike and my bag bungeed to the rack it only takes 15 minutes. Since it's still a little dark at 7:30 in the morning I mounted the five LED Cateye tail light to the rack and put it on flash. That should make me visible enough. I hope. There is a freeze warning for tomorrow morning, so I guess I'll freeze. At least my feet will. That's a given.

Not only is it cooler this time of year, which is nice,but the wind has picked up too which isn't. Saturday's ride was 64.36 miles, but the average was only 16.4 mph. That was because of 10 to 15mph winds. Still, though not a bad average, and I really wasn't too tired at the end. In fact, if it hadn't been so windy I'd have ridden further. That picture up there and the ones that follow show some of the Halloween decorations in the area I came across yesterday.

Today was even windier it felt like 20 to 25 mph. I got in 21.4 miles and only averaged 16.1. I just didn't feel like battling the wind so I took it easy and cut it short. Gave up might be more accurate.

I need 46 miles to make 4000 for the year. Probably by the end of this week.

Check out the bike in the background. I don't know what it is, but it obviously hasn't been ridden for a long time and has been seriously neglected. I'll wait until the zombie vampire is gone and then check it out. Maybe I can pick it up for free?

Another piccture of the bike. Not in focus for some reason so I can't read the decals. I was too scared of the bride to get any closer.

He lost his head....

The cut in half magic trick gone awry.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Car Free Day

Living only three miles from work and riding about 4000 miles a year, you might think some of those miles would be logged commuting. They aren't though. But yesterday morning I once again drug the old, ultra heavy, steel Fuji out of the shed and rode those three miles. I rode home at lunch and took the car back because, of all things, I wanted to go for a bike ride after work. With the sun going down earlier, getting home as quickly as I can to get changed and get the light Fuji out is imperative. So I got in 6 miles commuting and 22 on my "normal" ride.

Today, though, with no after work ride planned it was a car free day (as opposed to care free - I need one of those sometime, too). Living this close to where I work means I can come home for lunch and ride the bike back for four trips - 12 miles. If the weather stays like this, temps in the high 40's at night and low 70's for highs, I think I'll keep commuting. Not only is it free, I get a few more miles in and it's pretty relaxing.

As I noted a few times, last September I got in all of 29.7 miles in one ride. I did a little better this year. There were 16 rides with total mileage of 426.44. Two of those 16 rides were over 100k. What a difference a year makes, although whatever it is that causes my asthma and allergy problems this time of year was definitely out there again. I just pushed through it.

You know, 5000 miles this year isn't impossible, but I'm not commiting to it. Not yet, anyway.

I leave you with these guys. They seemed pretty interested in my ride when I stopped to take the picture.

And a new picture of Annie. She's pretty cool, and she has taken over. Resistance is futile.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Pie Plates

This is a pie plate. It's only purpose is to keep the chain from shifting past the largest cog in the rear and into the spokes. This is never a problem if your derailleur is adjusted properly, and most bikes don't even come with them. This is the one I took off my old Fuji several years ago. The Roubaix Pro never had one. Never will, but I could have used one last week.

I didn't mention that in my attempt to make the Wipperman chain shift I managed to get things so badly adjusted that the chain shifted past the last gear and into the spokes. Since that locked the rear wheel, I came to a screeching halt, and it took a while to free the chain. I didn't really want to say anything. I'm a better mechanic than that - most of the time. I lapse once in a while. Anyway, I didn't think much about it.

This morning I went for a short ride, only 20 miles. At about mile 18 a spoke broke on the rear wheel. I opened up the brake, wove the spoke between the others so it wouldn't flop around and proceeded on home. I still didn't think much about breaking a spoke since I had broken a few on the old bike. they just fail once in a while. So, it was another trip to visit a bike shop in Greensboro. This time I went to Cycles de ORO, the bike shop I used to use all the time before Performance opened their store right up the block. Since the broken spoke was on the drive train side I knew I'd have to get a tool to remove the cassette, and to be honest, I just felt like going in and knowing whoever I dealt with would know exactly what I needed, even if it might cost just a little more. I bought the tools I needed and I got 10 spokes so I'd have some spares.

It wasn't until I took the cassette of that I noticed this:

The remaining six spokes that exited the hub between the cassette and hub flange were all badly bent and gouged from having the chain jammed into them. No wonder one had broken. I was glad I'd gotten ten of them, since that let me go ahead and replace all of the damaged ones, and I still have four spares, just in case. The wheel is all fixed and true.

I mentioned the Wipperman chain to the mechanic at Cycles de ORO, and he said he'd had exactly the same experience with one. He also told me to take it back to Performance, they'd give me my money back. Next time I go up there, I'll bring it back and see. I'll let you know. Actually, I'd be fine with a store credit, since I know I'll be buying more bike stuff.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chains (end of the trilogy)

Yesterday after work (Of course I stayed 'til 5:00 even though all my coworkers were gone by 2:45. Honest I did. Why do you ask?) I made another trip to Greensboro for another chain. This time I went to REI, which is similar to EMS, but not quite as good. I used to love going to the EMS store in Peterbourough, NH. I could spend hours and way too much money in that store.

But, back to the chain. They only had one ten speed chain. A Shimano 105 for $42. I bought it, brought it home and installed it. Today, I went for a ride. Well, a 100k (63.22 miles and averaged 17.1 mph) ride for the second Saturday in a row. Perfect shifts throughout. No problems whatsoever. So it really was the Wipperman chain causing all the problems. If you get a chance to buy one, DON'T.

Last September I rode one time for 29.7 miles. That was mostly because of problems with my asthma. There is something out there in September that really affects my allergies and my breathing. I had some of the same problems today, but, I have ridden four times for 124.49 miles already this month, and don't plan on stopping unless my breathing gets much worse.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Working a scant three miles from my house would seem to make commuting a pretty easy decision. I keep thinking about it, but never seem to be motivated enough to actually do it. Today, though, I did. It was cool this morning, 59 degrees, and lots of sunshine so I rolled the old blue Fuji out of the shed, pumped up the tires and rode in to Liberty. My first impression was: man, this bike is HEAVY. And it is. It weighs twelve pounds more than the Roubaix I ride all the time. I can't believe I rode it over 8000 miles, some of them as fast as the miles I do on the newer bike.

I took my time so I wouldn't get too sweaty. Still, it only took me thirteen minutes to get to work. I came home for lunch so I got in a total of four three mile trips. So, 12 miles for the day. Don't know if I'll keep commuting, but it really doesn't make sense not to.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Chain II

So, yesterday evening I spent a little time trying to adjust the shifting of the new chain on the rear cogs. Trying being the operative word here. FAIL describes the level of success. Now, the worn chain was still shifting perfectly on the rear - it was just refusing to stay on the big chain ring, so I started looking at everything a lot more closly, especially the new chain. The picture over there shows what I found. The arrow is pointing to a distinctly beveled edge. My first thought - taken from watching too many Mythbusters episodes - "Well, there's your problem!" Since I have been working as an engineer for, like, almost forever, and have some limited knowledge of how things are supposed to work, my thought process was that if I wanted a chain not to shift, I'd bevel it exactly like that. The only thing those can do is push the chain away from the cog you are trying to shift to.

Here is a picture of the (Forte) chain that came off the bike (it's a piece that came off when I shortened it - it was new this spring). Notice the nice, sharp, corners?

Armed with this new found info, I did a quick search on Wipperman chains and shifting. Guess what I found. Yeah, there are a LOT more reviews complaining about how badly this chain shifts than there are kudos on what a wonderful part it is. Imagine that.

On top of that, I found this, written by Jobst Brandt (for a little info on Jobst you can go here). The chain he is talking about isn't a Wipperman, but a Sachs, and it sounds like it's made the same way, with the same problem.

From: (Jobst Brandt) Newsgroups: Subject: Re: chain stiffness data Date: 2 Nov 1998 21:08:22 GMT Damon Rinard writes: > I thought some of you might like to know that I've just posted the > lateral stiffness of a few bicycle chains on my web site at: > I think this information would be more interesting if you had their lateral flex of each chain when new and when 0.5% elongated. This would reveal more about the consistency of performance during its usable life and might reveal what causes the change. I has always been my experience that the more laterally flexible a chain became the poorer it shifted. In fact that was one of the early criteria for replacing a chain when it no longer shifted easily due to its ability to snake over to the sprocket it was on even though the derailleur was aligned with the next gear. As I said previously, the new Sachs derailleur chain is the worst shifting chain I have come across because its pins and side plates are beveled to reject climbing to the next sprocket. The intent was apparently to allow extreme crossover gearing with 9-speeds and triple chainrings. I am not impressed. This is another case where the demands of the incompetent bicyclist has prevailed over the riders who use their equipment effectively. Jobst Brandt

Guess I'll be off to the bike shop for another chain, this time it'll be a SRAM, Shimano, or Forte. I'm planning on riding after work tonight, though, so I have at least one more ride with this chain. Saving $20 by choosing the Wipperman over the Shimano last Saturday turns into throwing away $50. Live and learn, live and learn.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Today's ride confirmed that the drivetrain problems encountered in my previous two rides were, indeed, caused by a worn out chain. The problem of the chain trying to constantly shift to the small chainring went away with the new chain installed.


This new chain does not shift very well on the rear cogs. I've tried adjusting the derailleur, but it doesn't help. Since it shifts poorly in both directions, adjusting really means I can get it to shift well one way, then not at all the other. Right now it's about as good as I can get it and I am hoping it'll get better if the chain wears a little bit. It did seem to get better towards the end of today's 35 mile ride. Since I paid $50 for it, I'm stuck with it for about 3000 miles.

So, with today's 35 miles and yesterday's 65, I had a 100 mile weekend.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Four Day Week

Well, for the first time since the end of May I actually got to ride four times in a week. Today I rode 65.7 miles ( 105.1 km). That is the fifth ride of 100 km since May. They're still hard. Today's was not as much fun as it could have been, either. It turns out that the problem with my bike shifting wasn't the cable, but a worn out chain. It took a while to figure it out. The chain kept trying to shift to the small ring, causing a jolt through the pedals every time. It even succeeded in shifting several times. I thought about stopping, but I really wanted to get that 100 km in today. Needless to say, there was another trip to Performance Bike in Greensboro after my ride. They only had two ten speed chains! A Shimano Ultegra for $70 and a Wipperman for $50. No SRAM or Forte. I got the Wipperman, not just because it was cheaper, but because I had heard the Shimanos need a special chain tool, and no one at Performance could verify that either way. I'll let you know how this chain works out, but I did have trouble adjusting the rear derailleur to shift smoothly after I installed the chain.

The mileage for the week is 184.13. That's the most in a week, ever.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pretty Consistent

It's been a long time since I got two weeknight rides in. Over a month, in fact. I pulled it off, this week though. Tuesday evening was warm and sunny, so it was a no brainer - which is a good thing as there are those that claim I don't have one. Last night there were supposed to be scattered thunderstorms, and the sky was overcast with impending gloom. The sun was peeking through though, so I took a chance and went. No, I didn't look at the radar before I left so a repeat of Saturday's aborted ride was a possibility. That didn't happen, though. Both rides were over exactly the same route, a 32.75 mile loop and, even though the wind conditions were a little different, there was only a three second difference in the elapsed time of the rides. 1:50:32 for Tuesday, 1:50:35 for last night. That works out to an average of 17.8 mph.

The rear derailleur started acting up a little last night, too. It didn't shift on its own, but it was trying to. I checked the cable when I got home, and sure enough it is starting to fray inside the shifter. So it's off to Performance Bike after work today to get a new one. This one has gone about 3,000 miles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Windows users are familiar with BSOD, you know, blue screen of death. Well, maybe not some of the younger ones. To be honest, I haven't seen one in at least a couple of years, and since I babysit about thirty computers (or is it the users? I'm never sure) I am beginning to believe Microsoft may be getting the bugs out, finally.

Garmin, on the other hand... I'll call this the Blank Screen of Death. Sunday I went out for a 52 mile ride, it took about 3 hours, and during that time my 305 shut it's self off no less than 10 times. It would power up again, and actually kept track of the mileage even though all the other data only got recorded from the last restart. As far as mileage and time, I always take my Cateye Astral 8 along with the display set to cadence, so all the ride data is there as well as on the Garmin, except heartrate and elevation. When I got home I Googled the problem - I'd Bing it, but Google is so ingrained - and found it's not all that uncommon. The most widely reported problem seems to be a design flaw that causes the battery contacts to fatigue and momentarily disconnect the battery from the circuit board. The fatigue is caused by vibration. Since my Garmin is still under warranty, I immediately emailed their customer support. About lunch time on Monday I had a response. Tech support suggested I perform a Master Reset. This consists of holding down the power and mode button until the unit asks if you want to clear all data, to which you answer yes. So, I did. I didn't think it would work, but it seems to have. I rode 32 miles on Tuesday in an hour and fifty minutes and the unit did not shut down at all. I don't even know what data it cleared, either because everything is still in it.

Can't really complain, they responded quickly with a solution that seems to have worked, and now I know what to do next time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Maybe looking at the weather map before going off on my Saturday ride would have been a good idea, but I didn't. I knew there was a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms, but it was supposed to be later in the day. Sure it was cloudy, but the sun was almost breaking through. Plenty of time for a nice thirty miles, I thought. I even decided to "go green" today and run my in town errands on my bike rather than later with the car. The errands only consisted of mailing a letter at the post office and getting my Powerball tickets, but it's a start. I did manage to get those out of the way first. About 2 miles south of Liberty I noticed the sky was getting very dark and the wind started to pick up. Two miles from town, and five miles from home if I kept going. I turned around and headed back to Liberty, since there was shelter there in case I needed it. I needed it. That orange area on the radar got there before I did, though, along with thunder, lightening, 45 mph wind gusts and even a bit of hail. It's interesting riding in that stuff, since I still had about 3/4 of a mile to go when the sky opened up. I got to the place where I work, went in and called CJ to come get me. So not using the car today didn't pan out either. But I did get in a 9 mile ride and had a shower too.
Tomorrow's forecast calls for a 20% chance of showers and plenty of sun. I think I'll check the map anyway.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Over 3000

Finally. There was an error over there in the monthly mileage that I corrected tonight. I won't go into the details, but, it was rider error in EXCEL that caused it. But, I am over 3000 mile for the year, at last. I am about 100 miles short of where I was last year at this time, but the weather has been a bit uncooperative with a lot of scattered evening thunderstorms. This week looks pretty good, and tonight was no exception. I got in 32.8 miles at 17.4 mph after work.

I've been sort of religious about slathering on the sun screen before my rides, but on a couple of these evening rides I've "forgotten". Since the sun was hiding behind a cloud while I was getting ready today, I skipped the SPF 30 and went unprotected. Of course the clouds vanished about 10 minutes into the ride, but since it was after 5:00, there was a lot of shade. Oh, did I mention it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. I guess I just did. Anyway, has anyone else noticed that their sweat seems to evaporate better without sunscreen? Is that just my imagination? I feel so much cooler without it. One thing that isn't imagined is when sweat runs into my eyes. If I am wearing sunscreen my eyes burn so much sometimes I have to stop and wipe them because I can't see to ride. Without the sunscreen, sweat is just water in my eyes. No problem. I think I'll keep using sun protection, but maybe I need to keep it away from my eyes.

Hope I can get a Thursday ride in too. Maybe four this week?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not Paying Attention

I was happily riding along this morning in another world and didn't see this swath of broken glass until it was too late to even think about not riding through it. At least I managed to go to the right of the largest part. I stopped after I got past it and checked the tires, figuring there was no way I'd gotten through it without picking up something. But I did get through. The tires were fine. That never happens. Well, almost never. It was the second time this week I ran through broken glass without getting a flat. Sometimes I get lucky, I guess.

This is why I shouldn't be allowed to wear anything white. Every time I wear this white jersey I get these grease spots within the first five miles. It baffled me where they came from. Today I finally figured it out. It seems that I slightly rest my water bottle against my stomach to reposition it in my hand after getting it out of the cage. I suppose if I washed my bike, this wouldn't happen, but it's been washed already once this year. Twice would be pushing it, don't you think? Besides, as long as we can get this, I'll be fine. It's saved more of my clothes, well, it's saved All of my clothes at one point or another. Magic Stuff.
Today's ride ended up being 52.2 mile with a 16.9 mph average. I went out early, around 9:00 when the temp was only around 70, but the humidity was 92%. Kind of sticky, but it stayed pretty much overcast, so it really wasn't too bad.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


The past three weeks have featured a lot of riding. Not on the bike, though. I've only managed six bike rides in that time frame for a total of 206.23 miles. Not much for three weeks. But riding I was, every single night, as a passenger and driving instructor. I don't know how many miles we did on all kinds of roads, traffic and conditions with lots of parking and backing up and three point turns, but the student passed his test yesterday and is now licensed to drive in NC and, I guess, the other 49 states too.

Tonight I got out for the first evening week night ride in a long time. Are people driving worse or does not being out there all the time make me more sensitive to how close some of them come? Tonight's high point was a car backing out into the street as I was approaching at 30 mph. That's ok, but the driver blocked the entire lane and the shoulder. I knew right away that there was no stopping so I took the only path open to me, passing on the left. As I went past I turned to the driver, shouted "HEY!" and made the universal "wudduyathinkyerdoin" hand gesture (no, not THAT one). You know, open hand, palm up. Don't know if he got the message, but maybe he'll look for bikes next time.

So, it was short tonight 'cause I started late. 21.83 miles @ 17.8 mph. Guess that's ok for all the time off I've had.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TT Tuesday

Well, since last Tuesday's more intense ride to improve speed went pretty well, I thought I'd try it again. Around 3:00 it didn't look like there was much chance since there were storms around and it was pretty gloomy looking, but by 5:00 it was all gone and bright sunshine had broken out with only a few stray clouds wandering around.

The TT part was, just like last week, twenty minutes of full effort. I started it at the five mile mark and when I slacked off twenty minutes later I had covered seven miles. Using my abacus, fingers and toes, I calculate that to be an average of 21 mph for that distance. Not too bad for an old guy, I guess.

Here is the speed trace.

The heartrate

And the elevation.

The whole ride worked out to 32.8 miles with an average of 18 mph. I'm wondering, since I ride the whole thing alone with no one to draft and share the work, could that be fairly fast? Wish I knew, but it was fun, anyway.

Watching TDF on Versus now, I must confess, I succumbed to the spoilers on the WWW intertubes today, so I already know the outcome. I need to watch it anyway. Hope Jens gets well soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Hills Are Alive...

Oops, wrong musical. Needs to be "The corn is as high as an elephant's eye"
So. we're not in Oklahoma, but, that is tall corn, no matter where you are. I don't think I have ever seen corn this tall, and I've driven through the corn fields of Indiana so I've seen corn. I had to stop and take this picture. I have been to the NC Zoo in Asheboro, and suggest that anyone visiting this area take the time to go there, and know just how high an elephants eye is. No elephants can see over this field.

The latest iteration of Saturday's route takes me within couple of hundred yards of Homeland Creamery. One thing they have is ICE CREAM! Depending on the route variation, it comes either at 32 or 38 miles into the ride. Today it was 32, or about 2000 burned calories. Unfortunately I never seem to take enough money with me to stop and replenish. I need to remember to. An ice cream stop on a hot summer day - what could be better. Maybe next weekend.

Not sure what is going on with the weather. Today was about 82 degrees. Believe it or not, that feels cold now. Not a normal NC summer, by any means. An amazing, beautiful day, though. Stats for today; 48.75 miles, 16.9 mph, 3099 calories. Not too bad, I guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Speed Hurts

But only for a little while.

With variable success I've been trying to get back to the same average speeds I reached before last year's month long sabbatical. Part of it was the race last month and knowing I used to be faster, some of it is probably the inspiration from watching the TDF. Riding my bike the way I do gives me a clue as to what it takes to ride at that level. But just a clue. Those guys are tough.

So I've been starting to push for speed. Now, increasing average speed over a thirty mile ride isn't going to come on the downhills. It comes on the flats and the climbs. Mostly the climbs, one or two mph up a hill makes a huge difference, and that can hurt.

Tonight I set out with a goal, for once. GO FAST. After warming up for about twenty minutes I set out on my own mini time trial. Max effort for the next fifteen miles, especially up the hills and on the flats. I kept my heart rate right around the point that the alarm on the Garmin goes off. Going up the hills was the hardest. Legs saying shift down a couple of gears and recover, brain saying "no". Brain won, mostly. I ended that part of the ride - which includes the steepest climbs of my route - with an average speed of 18.6 mph. I forgot to look at my average for the first 20 minutes of warm up, so I don't know how fast I really went, but I doubt it was over 16, it usually isn't for that part of the ride.

The whole ride was 33 miles with an average of 17.8. Although it hurt for a while, it felt good after. I just have to keep doing it. I don't know why, but going fast has always been what I want most.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Picking Up Speed

Ever since last year's month long pause in riding while trying to deal with breathing problems, getting back to pre break speed levels has been a problem. Ok, I know this extra ten pounds I'm carrying (mostly around the waist - hey, I'm 55, it happens) doesn't help, nor does the fact that I am refusing to take any asthma meds because of the side effects. But still, I try. Most rides have been about a mile per hour off last year's best, but there have been a few that make it seem that speed is within reach.

Saturday I got in a nice 50 mile ride and averaged 17 mph. Not too bad for that distance. Sunday the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms all day, and they were in the area according to the radar on the Internet. So, no ride, just a nice "veg out" day in front of the tube.

Tonight, though....

If you had told me 20 years ago when I moved here from Massachusetts that I would be riding a bike when it was 92 degrees and thinking it was the perfect temperature, I'd have laughed at you. When it was 92 in New England finding an air conditioned place to hang out was the top priority, not going for a 33 .6 mile bike ride. But today was like that. Perfect. So, I pushed a bit. At one point, about 19 miles in, I had an 18.7 mph average. That happened to coincide with the lowest elevation an the loop, and the 200 feet of climbing over the next six miles dropped that to 18.2, but I maintained that for the rest of the ride. So, I equaled my best ever. Speed is still possible, I guess.

Must be getting some motivation from watching TDF. Lets see what Thursday's ride brings.

Just to document this, LAST Thursday's ride included, for the first time, a car crossing into my lane, on purpose, and forcing me off the road at one of the fastest points in my ride. I turned around and gave chase, but there was no hope of catching it. I can't believe how stupid some people are. They must forget - it's a small town, after all.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

To Do / Metric

With all the rain and thunderstorms over the past few weeks quite a few rides got skipped. Like yesterday. There were lots of things on my to do list, including a bike ride, but when the time came a severe thunderstorm rolled through and no ride. No such problem today, the ride was at the top of the list. One thing yesterday's storms did was reduce the humidity, so even though today was hot, it wasn't too uncomfortable. At about the forty mile mark I still felt pretty good so I went for a metric century, and completed it. That gives me three rides over 100k in the past month and a half. Today's, in miles, was exactly 63 with an average of 17.1 mph..

Miles for the month so far are 392.67. If the weather holds I may get one more in before we flip another page on the calendar.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Race City

If you are going to have a race, what better place than Race City, USA. AKA Mooresville. Of course it's called Race City because almost all of the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams are based there. But it's a nice place for a bike race too. The course covered four city blocks, so it was a nice rectangle, with four 90 degree corners. Slightly downhill from the start line to the first turn, then a little more than slightly downhill all the way to turn three where all of the downhill suddenly turned into a 5% uphill grade. All of the descent was gotten back between turns three and four.

Here is the start of the men's Cat 4 race

Cat 4 men going through turn one

The start of my race.

Since almost all my riding is on open rural roads the only 90 degree corners I get to take at speed are in Fogleman Acres. They are part of every ride I take. There are four of them and they are taken at around 23 mph. Getting through the corners of the race course didn't pose much of a problem, but not ever riding in groups meant I wasn't comfortable going into at least the first one in the pack. So, I simply went to the back at the start.

Me being drafted

At the end of the first lap me and a couple of other riders were only about thirty or forty feet from the back of the main group. Thinking I could get to that group on the downhill back straight before they got any further away, I passed the two riders in front of me. I was wrong. Worse than that, now I had my main competitor for the win on my wheel. After a couple of laps it was apparent that he was happy to stay there. He also told me he didn't think he'd make it at that speed. I didn't say anything, because I was breathing too hard to talk, so I knew for sure if I did make it, I'd finish second. If he could talk and I couldn't three laps into the race, I was a sitting duck.

Now, I pay attention when I watch the races on TV, so I did the only thing I could. I started slowing down. I had to get him in front of me so I could rest a bit. It took a couple of laps, but finally I almost stopped at the top of the climb and he didn't really have any choice but to pass me. Finally I had a chance to get my breathing and heart rate back under control. I stayed behind him for two laps, then halfway down the back straight I accelerated, went all the way to the other side of the road and passed him one more time. When I looked back, which wasn't until I crested the hill leading onto the front straight, I had about a ten foot gap. From that point on I pulled away. It turned out I had made the move at exactly the halfway point in the race. I am not sure how big a gap I had by the end, but I think it might have been the entire length of the straight. If I had known that during the race I'd have slowed a bit, but now I know I can go at maximum effort for a full thirty minutes.

Anyway, I won.

And I'd like to do it again....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Few Stats

A few quick stats from todays race:
Total miles: 10.95
Average speed: 20
Total time: 32.52.9
Max speed: 28.1
Heartrate: average 169, max, 184.

It is nice to win two in a row. Last year it was novice, this year it was Cat5, and it wasn't easy, but it sure was fun! More to follow, but I need to work on speed now, I have plenty of endurance.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Got One In

It hasn't rained now for, I don't know, 14 hours or so. It hasn't just been raining it has been RAINING! Flash flood type downpours every day, along with thunderstorms. So, no riding has been done since I managed to squeeze one in last Sunday. I wasn't planning much of a week anyway, since I'm planning on racing in the NC State Games on Sunday, but I did want to stay on the bike. Finally, tonight, there was only a 49% chance of rain, and when I looked at the weather map, nothing at all in the area. So off I went.

Now, for the past few years, about ever since I started riding, we have been in a drought here. That seems to have ended now, and one thing I had forgotten was just how humid an NC summer really is. When I left for my ride it was, according to the thermometer in the car, 92 degrees, and, according to the Weather Channel, 67% humidity. Don't know if either was right, but it sure was sticky. By the time I got in 25.15 miles at an average of 17.2, I was soaked. I've been dryer coming home after riding in the rain. Still, though, it was a nice ride.
Probably going to get a short ride in Saturday, then spend some time prepping the bike for Sunday's race. Next stop - Mooresville.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stuck In The Middle

Well, I checked out the local weather radar before I set out tonight. There were storms to the left of me, storms to the right (as in counties away) but, where I was it was bright and sunny with very little wind. The storm forecast was 30%. Looked pretty good to me. The plan, formulated all day long, was to warm up for maybe twenty minutes and then push for a while and see how it went. It went according to plan. I ended up doing one long 17 or 18 minute intense interval after the warm up with my heart rate right around 105% of lactic threshold. Then I backed off, figuring I'd finish the ride at my normal semi-quick weeknight pace. Then the storms came. I was cruising along on one of the few flats around here and was startled by a clap of thunder that sounded like it was about six inches from me. So, now what? I was at the top of the mile long hill leading to the middle school, so I put my head down and pedaled for all I was worth and got to the school, called CJ and rode home in the car. When we got home I found we were under a severe thunderstorm warning, so stopping was the right choice.

The 16.1 miles I got in went by at an average of 18.1. Not bad. Would have been interesting to see how fast a complete ride would have been.

The weather man says we can expect more of the same for the rest of the week. Hope I can get some more miles in.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The NC State Games will be held on June 21. I have been uncertain whether or not to race and try for a second gold medal in two years. Last year the games were held in Greensboro; this year, Mooresville, down by Charlotte, about 75 miles away. I'd kind of like to race again, so I floated a "Anyone want to got to a bike race" idea. We'll see if there are any takers.

There aren't any course maps available yet, but since it's going to be through a downtown, I expect there to be some - or several- tight 90 degree corners. With that in mind I changed my ride tonight to include several laps through some residential areas, primarily Fogleman Acres, just to get comfortable pushing the bike through tight corners at high speeds. I love it. Always have. It is so much fun to find the grip limits of the tires. After that I headed out on my normal route, but did two five minute intervals at max effort with five minutes recovery in between, heart rate 171. It really didn't seem that difficult, so maybe I should push a little harder next time. I ended the night with 31.8 miles with an average of 16.7 mph.

I have three weeks to find some real speed and make up my mind, but I'm leaning toward racing.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chip 'N Seal

Most of the roads around here are chip and seal. Or seal and chip. How it works is a truck goes along and lays down a layer of sticky, gooey tar which is then covered with an even layer of little pebbles. Those loose pebbles are left there for a while to let traffic fuse the layers together, then the excess loose pebbles are swept off and the lines painted. Kind of a neat way to make a road, and it's only a little bit rougher than standard pavement. Never much of a problem. Unless it's fresh and you don't expect it.

My Saturday loop includes a tight right hand turn off of Smithfield onto Lake Juno Rd. That turn is at the bottom of steep hill - speed about 32 mph, and requires heavy braking. Me, being me, of course, tries to get through it as fast as possible, not crossing the center line, of course, 'cause it's a blind corner too.

Saturday I came sailing down the hill, did my braking, and turned in and saw - loose gravel. Fortunately I had a chance to hit the brakes one more time and get slowed down a bit more. I almost stayed in my lane, I only crossed one of the double yellow lines, but there wasn't anything coming the other way, so it was OK. Just a little more excitement.

At the end of the new "pavement" I had to stop and wipe all the little rocks off the tires. The tar glues them on pretty effectively. Maybe it'll be swept off by next Saturday, but I'll be braking a lot more for that corner next week, just in case.

Month End

First, is the last weekend in May designated as national harass and (try to) intimidate cyclists weekend, or were they just out for me? In the past five years I have never had so many cars come so close to hitting me, blow their horns at me, drivers yell at me to get off the road, or intentionally attempt to run me off the road as I did the past two days. It was crazy out there. One, a gentleman in white Chevy pickup - NC plate SSA 2349, has been reported to both the Randolph County Sheriff's Department and the Liberty police for trying to squeeze me off the road, then slamming on his brakes to see if I would run into the back of his truck. All it did was give me time to get the plate number. Hopefully someone will speak to him. Here in North Carolina, a bicycle is entitled to the WHOLE lane. There is no requirement to keep as far right as practical, like in a lot of other states. We all ride to the right to make it easy and cooperate. I tend to ride about eighteen inches into the lane to keep people from trying to squeeze between me and oncoming traffic. They have to go into the other lane to get by, and most of the time it isn't a problem, this weekend, for some reason, it was.

Yesterday's ride started out as just the regular Saturday loop, but partway through I changed the route to take me out Old Liberty Road to Rt.22, then followed that into Climax, riding about thirty miles to there. There is a store there, so I stopped and bought two bottles of water. From there it would be about fifteen miles back to Liberty, then another ten home. That would be fifty five miles, it was a nice day, so I thought, why not go for a metric century. It would just be another seven miles. In the end, I just added a couple of short loops through town and ended the ride with 64.36 miles, or 102.9 km. My legs were a little stiff after, but that may have more to do with all the yard work that's getting done than all the riding. I got in 30 miles today, and my legs felt fine. The Tour de Lions 77 miles two weeks ago and yesterday's 64 were my longest rides since last year's Tour de Lions.

Miles in May went up, 637.17 miles. Last May it was 497.41 miles. For some reason it feels like I'm riding less this year, but, obviously, I'm riding more. Total miles for the years is now 1905.02. I might make 4000 again this year.

Wonder what June will bring.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Five days of riding in a row. That's a first for me, never having gone more than three in a row before. I had been thinking about it since last Monday, when I decided to take Friday off to make it an extra long weekend. Both yesterday and today were a mixture of rain, clouds and sunshine, the rain was kind of nice to ride in, especially since it was warm and not very windy. Today there were two other cyclists going the same way as me, so I rode with them from Liberty to Staley - about five miles. I don't usually get to ride with anyone, so it was nice to have someone to talk to. Their names were Brad and Brian, they had done last weekends Tour de Lions and were out for a training ride for this weekend's Three Mountain Madness . That looks like a fun ride with plenty of climbing, plus "steep and dangerous descents". I'd love to try it, but since it's limited to 600 riders, it's probably too late. Maybe next year.

The past five days produced a total of 182.59 miles, but it will have to stop there. My son's in a play at the High School tomorrow evening, so my next ride will wait until Thursday. My legs tell me that's not a bad idea.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just In

This weeks totals are now in. Sunday was a no ride day because of Saturday's 75 miles. It wasn't really necessary, but, hey, it didn't hurt. The rest of the week were the standard 33 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, but I took a vacation day on Friday to make a nice 4 day weekend, and since it was a great day and my chores and a Sam's Club grocery run were done by noon, I rode mid afternoon - a little over 36 miles. That brings us to today. More yard work and gardening in the morning and a planned 60 miles in the afternoon. In fact, my intent was to include the last 15 miles of last Saturday's Tour de Lions in my ride, not just for the added miles, but for the 8% climbs, too. My climbing has to get better, some how. It didn't happen. The problem is the turn off for those 15 miles is 25 miles into my ride. While the water and Gatorade bottles aren't quite empty, they certainly don't have enough in them for a tough 15 miles in 80 degree weather with 70% humidity. There is a little gas station/community store there that I was counting on to stop and refill everything, but it was closed. Bummer. I started out on the route, but after a mile or so a little common sense prevailed (REALLY!) and I turned around and headed back to Liberty, about 10 miles, but with a place to stop and refill. I ended the day with 51.29 fairly easy miles. I want to add that other 15 miles, but I need to work out the fluid logistics.

The week ended up with 153.09 miles. They are starting to add up. Tomorrow, if there is time between the three biggest auto races in the universe, all live on TV. If there is a 30 mile gap, I'll go, if not, it's a couch potato day (with some weeding thrown in). I have Monday off, though, so I can catch up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I had to drive the 35 miles to High Point today to do about 5 minutes of work on a co-worker's computer. Good thing I get paid mileage for that trip. Forty five cents a mile sort of at least makes it tolerable, and getting to drive for an hour instead of being cooped up in the office is great. The drive let me know just how windy it was, though. I know The Weather Channel claimed 15 mph winds with gusts to 25, but that usually doesn't make staying in my own lane much of a challenge with the Camry. It was today. I was planing on riding, but if the wind stayed like that, I'd have a hard time convincing myself to go.

It was still pretty windy at five, but I got ready and went, leaving about 5:30. It turned out not to be too bad. I didn't push much, I'm still doing a little recovery from Saturday's 75 miles. I did my usual 32.7 mile after work loop, and surprised myself with an average of 17. My legs felt great, heart rates were low. It was a nice easy ride, just faster than I expected.

This weekend should be interesting. Weather permitting I will ride Thursday night, I am taking Friday off, so, probably, Saturday is a given, but Sunday is the Monaco GP, Indy, and the Coca Cola 600, so there may not be a ride. Of course I have Monday off too, so maybe I can get a ride in then too.

Miles and speed are coming up. I think I may be getting back some level of fitness.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In A Crowd

This was my fourth Tour de Lions in the past five years, every time doing the max distance. Last year the distance was upped from 60 to 75, and although I made it, it was a struggle, the rear brake dragging for the last 15 miles wasn't a help. My longest ride so far this year had been 53 miles, so there was this nagging question: "Can I really do this?"

Friday night's pre-ride bike inspection and tweak revealed an unexpected problem. There was a flat spot on the rear tire caused a couple of days earlier by a momentary wheel lockup while performing a successful (4) deer avoidance maneuver. It was ground through to the last layer of cords, so there was no way to be comfortable riding on that tire, that far from home. So, off to Greensboro to Performance for TWO new tires, leaving, of course, the newly arrived 10% off coupon on the kitchen table - oh, well.

The new starting point at Providence Grove High School is nice. Lots of parking space and plenty of room inside for registration, and much better restrooms. This year's rider count was up to 400, an increase of 100 over last year's.

I've always ended up doing almost the entire ride alone. This year, though, I was determined to get in a group and stay there. I managed to get in a group of about twenty that was, for the most part, going fast enough for me. Wow, does that make a difference. Since I never ride in a group I had to do some fast learning, like lightly dragging the brakes downhill to stay in line, and just going with the uphill speed, even if I felt I could go faster. The first 20 miles went by in exactly one hour, the fastest I'd ever averaged, anytime, anyplace, helped, no doubt, by the general downhill trend shown in the elevation profile, and I was only pedaling about half the time, and coasting the rest.

By the time we got to the rest stop at 60 miles the group was down to six, all of us taking short turns at the front. Even knowing how much climbing was to come in the last 15 miles, there wasn't any doubt that I could make it. I figured I'd be dropped by the group, but my legs felt good, so I didn't think it would be a problem to finish alone. It turned out, though, the except for one other rider (and he followed me the rest of the way), I dropped the group at the first hill. The other four finished about five or six minutes behind the two of us.

Riding in a group was a revelation, and from now on, I'll do anything I can to get in one and stay in one on rides like that.
It was a great ride, the weather held, and I finished. Not a bad day.

Some stats:
75.77 miles
17.7 mph average
4:16:24 riding time
37.6 mph max speed
3102 feet total ascent
8% max grade
5144 calories burned.
I'll do it again next year - maybe faster?
Think I'll take today off and do some much needed bike maintenance and some gardening.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This brought back some memories tonight. I recall spending my summers in Vermont when I was about twelve working on dairy farms - either Locke Goss's or Paul Nelson's (if you ever bought a calendar with photos of Vermont, The Nelson's farm was probably on it. I loved all of it, but the best part was being turned loose on a field of hay with either tedder or a rake and a 1948 John Deer. Just pure joy, driving in ever decreasing (or increasing) circles. Really, what could be better than that? Ok, the eighth grade dances were kind of fun, but in a different way...
If you want to see some more gorgous photos of Vermont, especailly the Barnet - Peacham area where I lived, go here Richard Brown knows how to take pictures.

So, where am I in the riding department? Well, after a week with my highest mileage ever, the weather changed and we had a week of thunderstorms and tornado watches. All week. I don't mind riding in the rain, in fact, I sort of enjoy it if the visibility isn't too bad so that I spend too much time worrying about getting run down. But lightning scares me, and I don't want to be chasing Dorthy through the sky in a twister while riding my bike - you know the scene. From 171.71 miles one week to 79.6 miles the next. This wasn't the plan. This Saturday is the annual Tour de Lions charity ride, and, since I don't really know any better, I do the longest ride. Last year it was increased from 60 miles to 75. I made it, but barely, although a dragging rear brake for the last 15 miles may have had a lot to do with the "just barely". My longest ride so far this year is 53 miles. Making the jump from 53 to 75 might be asking just a little too much from these tired old legs. I don't know. Last year, though there was a spot where the 75 mile route and the 40 mile route crossed. At that point, a 75 miler could join the 40 milers and end up with 60. If this year is the same, I won't have to make a decision 'til then. I can do 60, no problem. We'll see how I feel at 50 and go from there.

So far this weeks rides were about 30 on Sunday, 33 on Tuesday, and 22 tonight. A little short tonight, I know, but I just wanted to keep the legs limbered up for Saturday. Average speed for all of them was above 17, so the speed is coming back, nicely.

I'll let you know how Saturday goes.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Open House

We went to the open houses that I mentioned yesterday. This is the front of the Goat Lady Dairy / restaurant. We stopped there first because we had never been there before, a large crowd was already there. We were about to find out why. The first thing we noticed was the gardens.
This was the first one. I now know how inadequate my gardening skills are. The contents of this little patch were beets, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and broccoli. I planted most of those things too, but you are not going to see a picture of how mine are doing. I have a lot of work to do.

Of course. it helps not only to have goats for organic material, but having one of these

certainly would help. I experimented with a little cold frame - green house this spring and it made a big difference with the plants I started. I am already planning a small green house for next year.

We sampled all the goat cheeses, my favorite was the chive and dill, CJ liked the orange.

There was even an interesting sculpture in front of the restaurant. I was impressed with the place, and would love to eat there someday. Seems you have to make reservations more than a year in advance, though.

Then we went over to Rising Meadow. We have been there several times before, for the annual Farm Fest and fiber festival. It is another small, sustainable farm, as well as a Bed and Breakfast. We wandered around looking at the sheep and llamas, and gardens. It is another beautiful place. I was taken with the herb garden. We are working on one, and it may well succeed.

I have a lot of the same stuff, and, believe it or not, it is doing well.

There are some really cool things around here. Small farms and wineries abound. The decline in tobacco necessitated it. Maybe there should be some sort of bike ride to explore them. Especially the wineries. Anyone want to go?

I did get out on my bike this morning. Just did a nice, easy 30 mile recovery ride and averaged about 16.4 mph. It was cloudy and windy and oh, so humid.

I leave you with a picture of a guard llama at Rising Meadow. I would not cross him.