Archive for June 2011

Problem Solved

June 30, 2011

Pam donated blood yesterday and they told her not to lift weights for a couple of days.  Instead, she decided we should take the tandem out for an early morning ride today.  In addition to being a great ride, I solved a problem that has been annoying me all summer.

We use a Shimano FlightDeck computer on the front of the tandem.  It has a couple of nice features that our standard Cateye’s don’t have.  First, it shows you what gear you’re in.  See the little circles?  There are two rows, one for the nine-speed cassette on the back and one for the triple crankset on the front.  For you guys out there that ride singles, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal?  Can’t you just look between your legs and see what cassette the chain is on?”.

That’s the method I use on my single bikes, but it’s impossible to see the rear cassette from the captain’s position.  In my mind, this feature (or an in-line indicator) is necessary equipment on a tandem.

The second feature I find to be invaluable is the “virtual cadence” display.  At any speed, the computer will calculate the virtual cadence based on the gear ratio’s you are running at the time.  That’s good information to know.  I know that we can comfortably spin at up to 95 rpm.  If we get above that, Pam needs to shift to a higher gear.  At the lower end, you can obviously feel when you need to shift, so it’s not so valuable.  Where it really comes in handy, though, is when you’re bombing down a hill.  I know you’ve all been bombing down a hill and found yourself in a too-low gear only when you start spinning the pedals to find no resistance.  Come on, admit it.  You’ve done it, right?

Well, that’s not very fun for the stoker when it happens on a tandem.  I use the virtual cadence to make sure I’m not spinning at 120+ rpm’s before we start pedaling down hills.

The problem I’ve had since this spring is the FlightDeck has only worked part of the time.  I changed the batteries in both the upper and lower units (it’s wireless), but to no avail.  I eventually figured out that it seemed to not work the first time we rode the bike in the morning, then would work fine the rest of the afternoon.

This morning, I finally figured it out, and boy, did I feel dumb.  About fifteen miles into our 20 mile ride, I reached down and switched off the lights to save the batteries.  Lo and behold, just a few seconds later, the computer started working!  No way!  It’s the stupid lights interfering with the wireless.  That’s why it wouldn’t work for the first ride of the day…we’re commuting on it in the dark and using the lights.

We’ve used a light on the bike for years and never had a problem.  This year, however, I added a second one.  The Planet Bike light is actually the issue.  The other one doesn’t cause the problem, even when it’s on the other side where I kept it all last year.  Go figure.

We had a great ride today.  Among the notable things today, was the big deer we saw in the distance.  It was too far away to tell for sure if it was a buck, but as big as it was, I’m guessing that was the case.  The sunrise was also pretty spectacular, but only for a few minutes.

As we left the house, I challenged Pam to finish with an average speed in the upper 16′s.  We finished with 16.8 mph for the 20 miles.  Here’s the GPS track of that.

Afterwards, I grabbed the Surly and headed for work.  I kept working hard, and arrived with 30 miles under my saddle before starting my day.  Not a bad start, if I do say so myself.

God bless…


Things that made my morning

June 29, 2011

1)  A clean drivetrain that purred and hummed only the way that a clean drivetrain can do.

2)   An unexpected stop.  Can you see what’s going on in the picture above?  If not, maybe this will help.

3)  And finally….

God bless…..



June 28, 2011

Well, it was 31 years ago today that my sweet bride and I tied the knot.  We were nothing but a couple of kids who didn’t know any better, but somehow it stuck!

In rememberance, we drove by our first house last night.  It hasn’t changed much over the last 31 years except for the addition of vinyl siding and a different metal shed out back.  We were poor as church mice when we got married, partly because we had purchased this little two bedroom house the month before.

We did own two cars at the time, but they were both really unreliable.  There was more than one occasion when one of us would break down on the way to retrieve the other who had broken down somewhere.  To compensate, I often commuted by bike to SMSU (now Missouri State).  I had an old department store 10-speed, wore jeans and a sweatshirt, and leather work gloves to keep my hands warm. 

My route consisted of both streets and sidewalks (a mortal sin now), but at the time I didn’t know any better.  It was only about 3.5 miles, mostly straight down Grand.  At the time, I didn’t think it odd to commute by bike, it was just something I did. 

It’s funny.  Things haven’t changed.  I still ride my bike, and I sure do love that woman!

God bless…


Save your money, people!

June 27, 2011

Pam and I are commuting by tandem on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She changed jobs (back to her old one) with the local health system she works for a little over a month ago.  After a six-year stint on the south side of town, she’s back at the hospital/clinic that’s only two blocks north of my office, which makes it pretty easy.  The days we ride together, we go in early to the fitness center at that same location, lift weights together, then she heads for the fitness center locker room while I pedal the bike solo to my office.

After work, I pedal the bike back to the fitness center, park it against the wall and do something that I do quite well.  I sit and enjoy myself while I wait for her to get off work and get changed for our ride home.  Depending on how her work day went, my wait can range from just a few minutes to more than enough time to take a nap.

The other day while I was sitting in the shade waiting, I had an epiphany.  I don’t have those very often, so I remembered this one.  Here’s what I figured out while I was watching people come and go from the fitness center and from all the hours I’ve spent inside one.

More than half of the people passing me looked like they were wasting their time and money going to the gym.

You could tell by their contenance as the approached the door or left the building.  They were either dreading going in or hated every minute of time they spent inside.  The sad thing was that those very people who looked like they hated it were the very same people who looked like they needed it the most.  I suspect that same level of enthusiasm was put into their workout.  Here’s the second part of the ephiphany.

It’s probably not gonna do you a lot of good to drag your tired butt to the gym after work and put in 20 to 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

Even if they managed to hit the gym two or three times a week, most of them don’t really get enough of a workout in to burn off that fast food lunch they had.  These are the type of people that gyms and fitness centers make their profit from.  They pay their money, go a few times, maybe try a class or two, but don’t really ever get consistent.  If you buy my theorie’s so far, here’s the last part of my ephiphany.

They would be much better off, both physically and financially, if they would find an outdoor physical activity they enjoyed and do it a lot!  Perhaps, walking, tennis, golf, or maybe even cycling!

That’s what got me hooked.  I found something I liked and did it a lot.  When I first started cycling, it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was way more fun than slogging away inside on a treadmill or other machine. I can burn a lot more calories and keep it up for a much longer time without making myself miserable in the process. 

That’s not to say that I don’t find the gym to be valuable to my fitness routine.  I work out a lot, but I don’t go to the gym a lot.  I go there (either the fitness center or my home weight room) twice a week for around 45 minutes at a time to lift weights.  That’s all.  I could probably accomplish the same thing in my back yard or the park a mile from my house with no problem.  Who knows, it might even be more fun!

God bless…


Quick Ride

June 26, 2011

With plans to go out of town later on Saturday, we managed to get a 20 mile ride in before 8:00 AM.  We used our “old fallback” ride to the high school and back.

Talk about a glorious morning!  You couldn’t have asked for a better day for cycling, and there were lots of folks out taking advantage of it.  I’ll bet we saw 15 riders out, and they were all smiling!

It was also an interesting morning for “sightings”.  The first was Springfield’s favorite basketball player out for a morning run.

The second was a bobcat crossing the road at Turners.  That’s only the second one we’ve seen in the area in the 20 years we’ve been back in Springfield, and both were while out on the tandem!

Here’s the GPS track from the morning.

God bless…



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