Archive for April 2010

We’re off!

April 30, 2010

As we head off this afternoon for a nearly 1,200 mile drive to the Outer Banks, we’re faced with an dilemma.  You see, our tandem hauling vehicle is the Jeep.  Actually, it’s not the best tandem hauling vehicle in the world, because we have to haul the bike crosswise on a standard bike rack.  I’ve gotta be alert that I don’t get too close to something or I’ll shear off a front or rear wheel! 

Regardless, since that’s the vehicle we normally haul the bike with, it would seem logical that we would take the Jeep on this trip.  But it’s not our first choice.  It’s not much fun out on the highway.  It’s noisy.  It beats you to death.  It’s a high profile vehicle that can be a monster in the wind.  And it gets almost 17 mpg if you get lucky enough to have a tail wind.  If the wind is against you, forget it.  You’re looking at 13 mpg. 

Contrast that with the Prius, which is relatively quiet and comfortable to drive and can get over 50 mpg on the highway and it’s really a no-brainer.   But, there is an issue……

 How do you get that bike in that car?

Luckily, we’ve got it figured out.  It takes some effort, but it can be done.  First, you’ve gotta take off the rear rack.

Then, both wheels need to come off….

Pack them away nicely.

Strap the chain down so it doesn’t flop everywhere.  On the way home, I may decide to just take it off, depending on how dirty it gets.

The last step is to bag up the rear derailleur and disk brake so they don’t get anything dirty.

Then, if you hold your tongue just right, mutter and curse with the right amount of fervor, and get lucky all it once, it fits!

We’re off!

God bless…

TW

Stuff We Won’t Use

April 28, 2010

We’re leaving for the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday!  It’s been too long since we’ve had a vacation, and both Pam and I are ready!  We’re taking the tandem, and will ride a loop of about 250 miles over the course of five days.

In preparation, I began gathering some of the bicycle related stuff we’ll take but not use during breaks in The Biggest Loser last night.  Into the handlebar bag went:

A SRAM Power Link.  Actually, this is supposed to go on my Surly Commuter bike, but since it’s not made it there yet, I’m taking it on vacation.

 

My chain tool.  This goes hand in hand with the Power Link.

 

My Green Park Tool Pin Spanner.  When talking about this little jewel, you need to specify “green”.  It comes in other colors, but only the green one will work.  This is used to adjust the eccentric bottom bracket  on the tandem.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with an eccentric bottom bracket, that’s the device that keeps the timing chain between the captain and the stoker properly tensioned.

A fresh inner tube still in the box.  This is in addition to the two tubes we normally carry anyway.

And finally!

A tube patch kit.  I’m currently using the glue-less variety.

By now, I’ll bet you’re wondering why we’re taking all this stuff we won’t use, aren’t you?  Especially since we’re going to be hauling it around on the bike for 250ish miles.  Well, the explanation is actually quite simple:

We’ve taken this stuff on every bike trip I/we have made so far and never needed any of it.  As soon as I don’t take it, we’ll need it!

 

 

God bless…

TW

I’m driven to ride, but not stupid!

April 26, 2010

My wife has beautiful hands!  I wish I had a picture to show you, but they’re very delicate, with long graceful fingers.  In addition to being nice to look at, they’re incredibly warm.  She never touches me with cold hands, and it is amazing how quickly she warms up enough to shed her gloves when we’re riding or running in the cold. 

I, on the other hand, have perpetually cold hands.  I’m constantly being scolded for touching her with my cold mitts, and I never take my gloves off when riding or running.  It’s so bad, that my hands are freezing most of the summer just from sitting in my air-conditioned office at work.  On top of that, my fingers are short and stubby just like my Dads! 

So, what does that have to do with cycling?  A lot…especially this morning.  You see, my intention was to take the long way to work again today.  I got up early, checked the thermometer and the radar, got dressed, and headed out.  It was 50ish or above, depending on the source, so I didn’t think much of it.  Big mistake!

When I got outside, I realized that the weather this morning was just like yesterday.  Dark, cloudy, dreary, damp, windy, and cool.  Did I mention windy?  As I started through Emerald Park on my road bike, I thought to myself, “This is not going to be a fun 20 miles”.  Then, I realized my hands were getting cold!  “Toughen up!”, I told myself, immediately followed by “Holy Crap!  My hands hurt already!”. 

At this point, I did what any sensible cyclist would do.  I turned around and went home!  I may be driven to ride, but I’m not stupid.  I simply wasn’t dressed for the conditions and to continue would have been foolish.  So, I went home and waited a few minutes before grabbing some warmer gloves and heading for work.

Along the way, I paused to note the progress in dismantling the old Tindle Mill. 

They’re taking it down with a wrecking ball.  I think it would be a lot of fun to see it come down in an implosion or something more dramatic, but I’m sure what they’re doing makes more sense.

As I looped back through Drury after snapping the above pic, I was amused to see this bicycle locked to a rack.

Whoever owns this bike needs to take a lesson in properly locking his bike.  Poor guy!

God bless…

TW

A complete rain-out

April 24, 2010

Pam and I got a 7.2 mile run in this morning by the skin of our teeth, and that’s about all the weather would allow for the rest of the day. 

We had planned for today to be the last tandem ride we took before packing the bike in the back of the car Thursday for our trip to the Outer Banks.  Likewise, I had planned to clean and lube it this afternoon in preparation for that trip. 

I did manage to get that accomplished, but if the weather cooperates and the stars and moon align correctly tomorrow, we may decide to get out for a while tomorrow…but only if it’s dry.

For comparison purposes, here’s a before and after shot of the cassette!  If you click on them, you can really tell the difference.

002 003

A bit of a difference, isn’t it?

Likewise, the cranks don’t look too bad either considering that I just cleaned them on the bike!

004

006

By the way, my thanks and appreciation to any of the Springfield bloggers who voted for me!

God bless…

TW

I almost made it!

April 23, 2010

I hit the road before dawn this morning headed out to Logan Rogersville High School.  Since I’m not lifting weights due to the elbow issue, this is going to end up being a pretty high mileage week.  By the time I get home tonight, I’ll be sitting at 198 miles for the week.  Boy, it’s sure going to be tempting to detour just a little out of my way to hit that 200 mile mark! 

As I headed out of town through the James River Valley, I could tell that I wasn’t going to be as fast as when I rode this route on Monday.  I just didn’t have the ole’ spring in the legs, so the hills were a bit of a challenge.  When I got home from this loop, my average speed was 17.4 mph compared to the 17.6 I logged the other day, so I really didn’t feel too bad.  I suppose I might have been able to equal that effort if I hadn’t lost focus at a couple of places and “awakened” to find myself just easily cruising along. 

The dog that chased me last trip was at it again today, but from the other side of the road.  He’s a sneaky fellow…he won’t bark or snarl until he’s right upon you.  He fooled me again by coming from the opposite direction!

As I turned back to the west to head home, I could see the sky looking pretty dark ahead of me.  I had looked at radar before I left the house, and it looked like the wet stuff was far enough to the north that I could stay dry for the hour and a half that I would be on the bike.  I stopped briefly at the house to swap bikes and grab my bags, then continued on toward the office.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it!  The rain started as I was stopped for the light at Fremont and Chestnut Expressway, and by the time I had travelled the mile or so from there to the office, it was raining hard enough that I was pretty soaked.  I carry rain gear in my bag, but by the time I realized it might do some good I was so close that I figured I might as well just suck it up and ride.

By the time I had showered, the rain had stopped!  That’s the way it usually works!

Interestingly, Steve posed a weather related question yesterday:

I’ll put the same question to YOU that I put to AC. Namely, what’s the cyclist “severe thunderstorm” strategy? It appears, on the face of it, that yours is the same as mine – namely to encase myself in a “Faraday Cage” and drive to work. Lightning seems MUCH more frightening than traffic, which (mostly) follows predictable rules.

But what would you do if the drive were not an option?

My weather policy is really pretty wishy washy.  It depends!  Severe thunderstorms aside, I really don’t mind riding in the rain. Believe it or not, I am smart enough to not head off into the face of anything severe, but hey, I’m not gonna melt with a little water.  With that said, however….I prefer to not ride in the rain.  For one thing, I think motorists are a little more unpredictable when it’s wet.  I don’t feel their visibililty is as good, and they’re certainly not looking out for little ole’ me on my bike in a rainstorm.  In addition, my stuff gets wet and nasty.    I spend enough time keeping my bikes running smoothly as it is, and it’s a guarantee that every rainy commute requires a minimum of a drivetrain cleaning and lubrication.  Finally, I just don’t like dealing with wet clothes.  When I left the locker room today I had gloves, shoes and arm warmers spread everywhere trying to get them dried out for the trip home tonight, but I know they’re still going to be wet.  I carry rain gear, but prefer not to use it unless the weather is cool because it just makes you more hot and sweaty.

The evening commute is an entirely different matter.  I’ve usually got no qualms about riding home in the rain if it seems safe.  If not, I’ve got enough co-workers who live close by that I can usually find a way home with one of them.  That’s only happened a couple of times, but I’m not too proud to beg a ride if I feel it’s warranted. 

I guess you could summarize my stance as “I’ll ride to work if I think I can get there safely”.  If not, I’ll drive.  I do not, however, leave the bike at home based on rain forecasted for later in the day.  All I need is about a 35-40 minute window of relatively calm weather to make it back and forth safely.

Edit:  Well, it’s 4:30, and we’re in the midst of a serious rain.  I spoke to Pam to let her know I was going to need to wait it out for a while, and we decided she would come retrieve me!  In return, we’ll grab dinner someplace downtown.  A win on all accounts!

God bless…

TW


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