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.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Garden Party

With Colin having to go to Asheboro first thing in the morning to take the SAT, and then be picked up around 1:00, it seemed like a good morning to work in the yard and plant some things in the garden. the weather for the afternoon looked a little iffy for a bike ride; 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms, some of them possibly severe, but, if they happened, I always had the trainer. I invited everyone I could find to help with the planting, but, well, there weren't any takers. Not much of a planting party after all. I got a lot done, though, but I still have a lot to do.

When I finally left for a ride the skies looked a bit ominous, but I figured I'd go and see how far I got before the storms came. I didn't expect to go very far. I was wrong. The storms never came, and there was a lot more sun than clouds. I got to work on my "wacky" cyclist tan (as Sam calls it). Every time it looked like it might be time to think about stopping, the sky would suddenly clear and the sun break through. So, I ended up riding 53.36 miles, the most since 7/5/2008. I also averaged 17.2 mph, not too bad, given that it was a little windy and I wasn't really trying very hard.

Well, I say "not too bad", but I'm not sure. I finally figured out how to put the data from the Garmin on here, like Sarah does. That's the elevation profile from today's ride. Not much flat around here, is there?

The week: It looks like my highest mileage week, ever. 171.71 miles. That surprised me. Hope I can keep it up.

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be a lot like today's. We are also going to go to the open houses at Rising Meadow Farm and The Goat Lady Dairy. Hope they have plenty of free samples and CJ doesn't try to buy too much yarn. I also just found out that it is strawberry picking season. I'll be doing that soon.