Archive for September 2012

Two Loops

September 30, 2012


Yesterday was one of those days where we just didn’t have half a day to commit to a bike ride.  Pam planned to meet our daughter at 9:00, but she still wanted to get in as many miles as possible, so we set the alarm for way too early and got on the road about 5:40 AM.  I calculated we would probably take 2 hours to ride 30 miles, giving her just enough time to get cleaned up and ready to go.  It’s handy that we’ve got so many options to ride from the house, so it was pretty easy to find a 30 mile route!

If you look at the map above (and click it if you want to see the GPS track), the top loop is what we rode on the tandem.

Yep, it was dark.  That wasn’t too difficult to deal with, as we’ve got decent lights, and we’ve ridden a lot of tandem miles in the dark.  This was the first time we’ve ridden that loop in the dark, however, and at one point Pam commented, “It sure looks different out here in the dark.”   No truer words were ever spoken!

There must have been a small track of rain somewhere between our house and I-44 sometime overnight.  We ran into wet roads and some of them had quite a bit of leaf debris on them, so I was pretty cautious until it finally got light enough to see.  I sure didn’t want to let the front tire to slip out on us.

The first 17 miles to Strafford were basically against the wind, so it really felt like we were slogging along at a pitiful pace.  I was a little concerned that we were running behind our required time because I couldn’t see how fast we were going.  My Garmin has a back-light, but I tend to forget about it while I’m out on the bike.  By the time it got light enough to see our speed, we were making the turn at Strafford and had more favorable winds the entire way back.  In hindsight, though, our average speed only increased by .6 mph on that second “lap”, so I guess we were doing OK in the dark.


As we started getting nearer the house, we noticed there is beginning to be a little color showing in some of the trees.  We saw the most noticeable instances before it was light enough to get a decent picture, but based on what we saw this morning, fall color is definitely on the way.

We pulled into the house at an hour and 54 minutes, which put Pam right on time.  If only her captain could be that reliable all the time!

We had ridden the entire 30 miles without a stop, so even though I was planning to go out for another 20 miles by myself, I took the time to go inside and grab a snack, then pulled my Madone off the wall and headed toward the high school.  The bottom loop on the map represents that ride.

It had been a while since I had been on the Madone, and the first couple of miles felt really squirrelly!  That bike just handles so differently from the tandem and my Surly that it usually takes me 10 miles to get situated and feeling like I’m riding smoothly on it.  Today, that was half of my ride!


At a little over half-way through this second loop, I saw a flock of guinea fowl alongside the road.  I think these were probably feral birds that may have once belonged to someone.  I’ve seen them or another flock in the same general area one other time.  The pic above is about half of them.  The rest, including three young birds were in the ditch.  If you’ve never been around them, guineas are noisy birds with a real scratchy sounding call. 

I tried to finish out the ride as fast as I could, but I’ve got to say that the last few miles I was feeling it in my legs.  I ended up with a 17.9 mph average speed for the segment I rode alone, but getting up out of the river valley pretty much cooked me.  I was glad to pull into the driveway with 54 miles behind me, and I did it just as Pam and Libby were leaving at 9:03 AM.

Not a bad start to a busy Saturday, if I do say so myself.  Hope your day was a good one also.

God bless…


Thick Air

September 28, 2012

 Well, this morning was certainly interesting.  When we got up to run, the temperature was a balmy 66 degrees, but the relative humidity must have been 100%.  I mean, it was sticky out there.  After 4 miles, I didn’t have a dry stitch on me.

Heading to work was interesting.  By that time, the fog had thickened, and as I rode into it, it quickly coated my glasses to the point where I had to continually use my finger as a “windshield wiper” to clear them off enough to feel safe riding.  I probably would have been better off to take them completely off and trust my slightly faulty vision.

Thankfully, I made it safely to work.

God bless…


Specialized Expert MTB Shoe Review

September 26, 2012

It just occcurred to me that I briefly mentioned getting new cycling shoes back in March, but I’ve never said anything about them.  My 5 year old SIDI’s had gotten wet a couple of times and being full leather shoes had shrunk, resulting in nearly every ride being an uncomfortable mess.  Based on the good luck Pam had with the comfort of her Specialized shoes, I opted to try a pair of Specialized Expert MTB Shoes.  I’m happy to say I didn’t make a bad decision.

Based on the type of riding I do, it doesn’t make sense for me to use road shoes.  Being a full-time commuter and a tandem captain, it’s more important for me to have walkable shoes with good traction capabilities.  I’ve never dropped Pam on the tandem, and I don’t intend to, so when I stop and stand down, I need something that’s going to grip the road and not slide out from under me.  Rather than switching between different shoes, I made up my mind a long time ago that MTB shoes were really the only option that I would consider.

But, I want a nice stiff sole to give me good power transfer regardless of the bike I’m riding.  Specialized has a stiffness index rating for all their shoes.  The Experts have a full carbon sole with a stiffness index of 9 (out of a possible 10).  They’re plenty stiff, which really helps during long days in the saddle.  At the same time, they’ve got a little bit of flex built into the toes to make them more walkable without your heels slipping up with each step.

The toe box of these shoes is a little longer and wider than I’m used to, but after riding with them all summer I’ve decided that’s part of what makes them so comfortable.  When I first got them, I almost returned them because it just kind of looked like they were about a half-size too big.  When I figured out where my toes were, however, I decided it was just all the extra room I had to wriggle my toes.  The Body Geometry footbed gives them subtle arch support that you don’t notice until it’s not there.  For example when I wear my Keen sandals for commuting, the first thing I notice is the lack of arch support!

The tops of the shoes are mostly vented material.  That makes them cooler to wear in the summer, and kind of chilly in the winter.  That’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.  Being primarily built of synthetics, a good drenching doesn’t have nearly the negative impacts as when it happens with a full leather shoe like the SIDI’s I had before.  They dry out quickly, and have retained their size, shape, and fit after being soaked several times throughout the summer.

The one disappointment I’ve had with the Experts is that the rubber of their lugged soles is pretty soft.  On one hand, that probably contributes to their comfort and traction capabilities, but on the other hand, they’re wearing faster than I would like to see.  You can see from the picture above that I’ve got significant wear on my heals after only about 6 months of pretty hard use.  Granted, this is my left shoe, which is my step-down side when I stop.  I’m sure it gets some road scrape that the other shoe doesn’t, but I’m wondering how many years use I will be able to get from them.

That one aspect aside, I do really like these shoes and would buy them again.  They are relatively reasonably priced, comfortable both on and off the bike, and perform the way I expect them to.  If you’re in the market for MTB shoes or a good all-around shoe, consider them an option to look at.

God bless…


Painting with Light

September 25, 2012

As a one-time wanna-be photographer, I’m fascinated by light.  As I ride off into the early morning darkness, I’m constantly watching my mirror to see what the sunrise might be doing over my shoulder.  This morning, I had a new game to play.  I got new batteries for my spoke lights over the weekend and gave the lights a good scrubbing in anticipation of putting them to use this morning.

When the spoke light game was over, it was time to start watching the sunrise.  As you can see, it was totally worth the effort!

God bless…




Time is fleeting

September 24, 2012


It’s almost that time of year that I find kind of frustrating.  The weather around here has been gorgeous!  It’s perfect for cycling, and really, for just about anything else as well.  That’s the problem…life starts getting pretty busy, especially on the weekends.  Shorter daylight hours mean more tasks are going to get postponed until the weekend, and those weekend days quickly fill up with conflicts as more events are planned to take advantage of the nicer weather.

So far, it’s not been too bad, but I can see it coming!  Until then, I’m going to ride every chance I get and enjoy the fall weather!

God bless…



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