Archive for July 2011

60 miler

July 30, 2011


You ever have one of those days where you know what you ought to do, but for some reason don’t do it?  And pay for it later?  That’s what happened to me today…I’ll get to that later.

We left the house a little before 7:00 this morning to ride what we planned as a 60 miler.  Mike was with us, and we started out in fine spirits in the comfort of early morning.  After crossing the river and starting toward Mentor, Pam and I got cut off from Mike by an old fart going way too slow in a pickup truck.  He actually pulled out in front of Mike, but Mike had enough momentum coming down a hill that he passed him.  As Pam and I came barreling down that same hill on the tandem, I was tempted to do the same, but by that point we were approaching a blind curve and I knew I couldn’t.  Before all was said and done, we were following this truck at 10 mph where we should have easily been doing 25 and the road was beginning to point up into a nasty climb.

When the guy finally got out of our way, we saw Mike stopped half-way up the hill with a derailed chain.  Rather than stop half-way up, we thanked him for waiting on us and kept climbing.  As we crested the hill, I just kept going thinking that Mike should be along shortly, but he never materialized.  Finally, we stopped to wait for him at Highway 60.


When he finally caught up, he kind of sheepishly admitted that first his chain was stuck, then he managed to do a slow-motion, clipped-in tip-over trying to get started on the hill.  Darn!  We missed it!

We continued on through Elm Grove and circled back to Rogersville, noting that there were a ton of cyclists out on the road this morning.  Like us, they were trying to beat the heat.  Before we got to Rogersville, Mike started noticing that his back wasn’t feeling so great.  He was struggling a little bit on the climbs and we wondered if he had tweaked something when he fell.

At Rogersville, Mike decided he probably didn’t feel up to continuing the full distance with us and would turn for the house.  Pam was eager to finish the planned 60, so we reluctantly rode on without him. 

One road we hadn’t ridden on a couple of years is White Oak Road, which runs between the old highway and KK  a couple miles east of Rogersville.  This is a fabulous little road, with lots of nice rollers that just suit the tandem.  I highly recommend it if you’re local, but not a lot of folks go out there.  We did today, and really enjoyed it.  Surprisingly, we did see a couple other cyclists out there today.

After enjoying White Oak, we connected with B Highway to Northview.  It also has a bunch of nice rollers, but it also has a couple of pretty big climbs out of creek and river crossings.  After one of them, we saw this:


Can you see it?  Probably not.  In the field just below the tree-line, there is a little ant-line of something.  Here, maybe this will help.


It’s still not much better, but maybe you can see it’s a line of turkeys.  We could pick out two hens, and what looked like 22 young birds.  They were just marching across the field towards the woods.  They were actually the second turkey sighting of the day.  It’s been a good year for seeing them around here.

At Northview, you begin what is essentially a seven mile climb to Strafford.  When you get to that point, you’ve got to decide between two obnoxious choices for a road.  You can stay on the south side of I-44 and ride good pavement with a lot of traffic, or you can go to the north side and ride on crappy road with not a lot of traffic.  We chose the latter, but by the time we got to Strafford, we were both tired of being on that outer road with the interstate traffic howling in our ears the whole time.  To make matters worse, we were fighting the wind at the point as well.

We stopped at the C-store in Strafford to refuel.  That’s where I made my mistake.  My original plan was to get a chocolate milk, a Gatorade, a small Snickers and a banana.  But…I saw Pam getting a Pepsi, and it looked so good to me that I decided to swap my Gatorade for one as well.

Well, that was when I should have known better, but did it anyway.  The heat was building, I was sweating, we were riding against the wind a bit, and we still had 18 miles to the house.  I needed that Gatorade instead of the Pepsi.  When we got about 7 miles from home, I noticed my mouth was extremely dry and it didn’t feel like I was sweating as much.  At about 4 miles from home, I felt what was obviously the first twinge of a cramp in my right leg.  From that point on, I had to be very careful about the way I rode to keep it from cramping on me. 

We made it home without incident, but I told Pam that I didn’t think I had another mile in me today!

Here’s the GPS track for the day.  We had to circle the cul-de-sac a couple of times to get the full 60 miles, but we did it.  That’s our longest tandem ride of the year.

God bless…


Thursday Randomization

July 29, 2011


Given the propensity for extremely hot temperatures in the afternoons, Pam decided we should forego commuting on the tandem and take it for our normal morning loop to the high school.  That was a very good call on her part.  The only pleasant part of the day was pre-dawn!  I know we’ll be longing for summer later this year when it’s cold enough to freeze your you-know-what off, but for now, this heat wave is getting old.

I felt pretty strong on the bike this morning in spite of a reasonably quick 18 or so miles yesterday evening across town, so I tried to spend a lot of time in the big chain ring.  We did fairly well, averaging 16.9 mph over that mixed terrain course.  I think that’s the highest average we’ve had for it so far this summer.


After depositing Pam at home and climbing on the Surly, I headed off to work.  Unfortunately, I suffered a mechanical on the way.  As I stood on the pedals at the corner of Ingram Mill and Catalpa, I noticed a pretty bad rubbing sound for the first time.  Glancing back, I could see that I had a pull-string from my pannier bouncing in and out of the spokes, so I stopped to correct that.  Unfortunately, the scraping sound continued, so after another block I stopped to investigate and found that the rear fender was rubbing on one side.  Thinking that the string had probably just caught and bent a fender stay, I stopped again, muscled the stays around until the fender was clear and headed on my way once again.  It didn’t take long to figure out that my shifting had gone all to crap in the mean time.  What the heck is going on?  I kept working to try to see a pattern in the shifting problems, and couldn’t pinpoint anything, so I was thinking that I would just have to deal with it after work.

After riding another 3 miles or so, I finally had an idea.  Looking down, I could tell that the rear wheel was sitting cockeyed in the dropouts!  That explained both issues.  You see, I had taken the wheel off last night to change my brake pads, and with those horizontal dropouts on the Cross Check, you’ve really got to torque down the quick release or you will muscle the wheel out of alignment.  That’s what I had done.  After fixing it (then re-aligning the fender), things were fine once again.  It was a self-inflicted problem!  Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Finally, the ride home yesterday evening was the first time this year that it felt like it could actually be dangerously hot out there.  There was a pretty stout head wind, so I just took my time and tried not to expend very much energy along the way.  I sure was glad to be home  and glad for a working air conditioner!

Here’s the GPS track for the entire day.  I rode 40 miles total.

God bless….


Stuff I see – Bad boys…..

July 28, 2011

Yesterday evening, four of us from South Haven Cycling were riding north on Grant as we headed to the zoo.  At about Grant and Central, we passed what had all the appearances of a drug deal going down on the sidewalk.  I kind of shuddered at the thought, and we kept riding.  I only mention this to give you an idea of the kind of neighborhood that is.

At the intersection of Grant and Commercial, just a few blocks further north,  one of our riders got stopped by the light, so I crossed under the railroad overpass and started to pull into a drive to wait for him.  As I did, I noticed that I was about to be passed by a car, and following that car was a police cruiser with his lights flashing.  The car turned right on the street about 30 feet north of me and slowed to a stop, followed by the cruiser.

As the cruiser passed me, however, I noticed something odd.  There was a guy in the passenger seat with a big ole’ honkin’ camera recording the incident.  As soon as the cruiser pulled to a stop, a guy jumped out of the back seat with a big boom mike, the cameraman jumped out of the passenger door, and the officer slowly got out and started to walk toward the other vehicle.

Sure enough, I was witnessing a traffic stop being recorded for the TV show COPS!  I had seen a news blurb indicating they had been filming in town, but I thought it was done.  Not so!

It was tempting to stand there and gawk, but then I realized that probably wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do, so I mounted back up and continued to the zoo.

The group last night was:  Jim (white shirt), Mike (the fashionista), and new Mike. 

 We had a really nice ride, and on the way back, I got to chat with Jim a little bit.

 He’s a fascinating gentleman.  If you can’t tell it, he’s a runner.  He ran Boston at age 75 and is planning to do so again at 80.  He didn’t have any trouble keeping up with us, even on the hybrid bike he rides.  He’s a retired math professor from MSU, and we know several people in common.  I had a good time getting to know a little more about him.

God bless…


Missed a ride!

July 27, 2011

One of the nice benefits about where I live is that it is so easy to get out into the country on a bicycle.  We’re right on the eastern edge of town, and basically all I have to do is get across the river on one of two bridges and I’m on lightly traveled country roads. 

In addition, we often see quite a bit of wildlife, often right in our yard.  We’ve had skunks, opossum, turkeys, fox, deer, armadillo, and most recently, this guy:

Now, I’ve gotta admit, we thought it was pretty cute when we found him precariously hanging on my bird feeder pole.  It stopped being funny, however, when he kept coming back.  The longer he hung around, the more destructive he got.  He’s trashed feeders, spilled food on the ground, and has made a mess of what few flowers we have surviving the heat.

I kept the gun handy for a few days hoping for a chance to dispatch him, but never got the chance.  Besides, I was a little nervous about shooting him in the neighborhood, so I moved to plan B….I borrowed a trap and set it.

Yesterday morning was a planned tandem ride before work in lieu of commuting on it and Pam having to suffer through the afternoon heat, but low and behold, we caught him overnight.  I thought about just leaving him until after work and then relocating him, but my conscience  got the better of me.  Rather than be inhumane and make him suffer in the trap through the heat of the day, we blew off the tandem ride so I could take him to his new home.

 That relocation was very successful.  This guy now has a new home in a big patch of woods out by Turners Station.  I came home, lifted weights until time to head for work, then jumped on the Surly for the morning commute.

As I was heading out of the neighborhood, another raccoon crossed the road in front of me!  Dang it, anyway!

God bless…



July 26, 2011


Over the course of the last two years, my dad has had four separate cancerous tumors on his bladder.  Luckily, all were found reasonably quickly and were able to be excised with no significant issues (yet).

Based on that, though, and knowing that the next one (and I’m sure there will be a next one) could turn ugly anytime, I started thinking last winter about participating in the Austin LiveStrong Challenge this coming October.

Pam and I talked about it, and decided a few weeks ago that we would do it!  We’ve signed up for the 5k on Saturday, and the 90 mile Ride for the Roses bike ride the next day.

With that decision, we get the opportunity to raise funds for cancer research.  I’ve already donated to Fatty’s fundraising efforts, and we are planning to donate to our own causes, but if you’re a reader of my rambling, I’m gonna ask for your help as well.

See the little LiveStrong bracelet at the upper right hand corner of the page? Would you please go click that and make a $5, $10, $15, or even $20 (or bigger!) donation to LiveStrong for me?  I would certainly appreciate it.

Who knows?  Maybe one of these days cancer will be a thing of the past.  Until then, however, it’s up to us all to pitch in to find a cure.  Please help Pam and I in this effort!

God bless….



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