Archive for the ‘weekend’ category

Clever and points south

March 4, 2013

3 riders

Mike and I accepted an invitation to go ride with Dave on Sunday on a loop he had devised south of Clever to Hurley and Crane.  Since it involved new roads, it didn’t take much convincing for us to make the drive to our starting point in the small town where I grew up.

We headed out of town on somewhat familiar roads, but I knew as soon as we got further south than I normally wander I would be totally lost, and I was.  Well, let me re-phrase that.  I knew the general area we were in and could have wandered my way to Hurley, but the last time I went south of Hurley would have probably been around age 13, so I didn’t recognize anything at all!


We were generally heading into the wind the first 25 miles, but it wasn’t unreasonably bad, and the temperature was just warm enough to make dressing for it a matter of guessing.  I guessed wrong, and was dripping with sweat before too long.  Mike said he got it pretty close to right, and Dave seemed to be somewhere between the two of us!


Because we were going south of Clever instead of west, our terrain was of the up and down variety.  In fact, take  a look at this:


All those funny squiggly lines represent the ups and downs on our way to Crane.  The long gradual uphill is us coming back to Clever in something of a circle from the west.  Obviously, my Garmin didn’t do a great job of capturing elevation….I promise we ended where we started!


Within about 5 miles, Dave had the strangest mechanical.  He lost the ability to shift on the rear.  We quickly found that it wasn’t a broken cable and it seemed that his Ultegra shifter was broken.  We were in the process of fixing him in a middle gear when I discovered that the little pawl that catches and advances the gear in the shifter was flopped back out of the way and thus not engaging the gears to move the cable.  I reached in with a little twig and easily shoved the thing back into it’s normal position and we celebrated the fact that we had a shifter again!  By that time, however, we had already loosened the cable to force him into that middle gear, so we had to do a roadside tune-up as well.  He didn’t have any problems after that.


About the same time Dave had his issue, my camera battery gave up the ghost.  Dave had his, though, and was generous to share his pictures of the rest of the ride.

Crane w Tracy_Mike (4)

We crossed M Highway near Browns Spring, rode through the upper Spring Creek headwaters, and came out on A Highway west of Hurley.  That’s at the top of a nice downhill run into town, but the chip seal highway and the wind conspired to keep out speed down a little bit.  It was on this hill that I concluded that my small size keeps me from going down hill as fast as a normal sized guy.  Both Dave and Mike left me in the dust!

Secret valley

At Hurley, we turned south again to follow the Spring Creek valley to it’s confluence with Crane Creek.  Where they meet is called “Secret Valley”.  The ride down the creek valley was pretty enough, but you just knew it would be totally awesome when things green up this spring and later in the fall.  At one point we came upon an old cow with a brand new calf in a Mexican Stand-off with three buzzards over the placenta that was laying on the ground.  We knew the calf couldn’t be more than a couple of hours old because it’s cord hadn’t begun drying up yet, but the farmer had already tagged it’s ear.  The buzzards flew off as we approached, so the stand-off was at least temporarily resolved.

After the confluence of the two creek valleys, we turned onto Boston Mountain Road.  With a name like that, it was obvious what we were in for.  That hill was about two miles long, but luckily the steepest part was only about a quarter to a half-mile long.  And, because we essentially climbed over the ridge, we got a really nice downhill as our reward!


After a break in Crane (I’d never been to Crane by bike before Sunday), we headed back to Clever.  We had the wind behind us most of the way, and nothing but a long, gentle climb the entire way, so it was almost an anti-climatic end to a good ride.

We pulled up to our vehicles with exactly 40 miles behind us and declared the ride a success!  Thanks to David for inviting us!

You can click the map below for the full Strava link.

map 3-3-2013

God bless….


Saturday Duathlon

December 17, 2012

Saturday morning ended up a spur of the moment duathlon.  Pam and I ran about 6.7 miles then made our usual stop at Panera for breakfast.  While we were eating, I kept thinking about what a beautiful day it was, then I put two and two together and realized I had an almost two hour window of unscheduled time while Pam went to the hairdresser if I hurried.  It didn’t take long to decide I was going to ride while I could.


We had rain overnight so the roads were really sloppy.  I debated riding the Surly with it’s fenders, but finally decided that getting the Madone all dirty and crudded up would give me incentive to finally clean it up.  It worked!  The bike is spotless now!


I managed to get away by just a few minutes after 8:00 AM.  As usual, I paused on my way out Sunshine to admire the yearling Clydesdales.  Most of them didn’t want to pose for me, but this little guy did.  I really get a kick out of watching each year’s batch of colt’s being born and growing up.


As I crossed the river, I realized that in spite of the little bit of rain we’ve been getting around here, the Ozarks are still in the middle of a drought.  There should be a lot more water in the James River this time of year.  This is more typical of August than December.  I’m a little worried about what next summer is going to bring.


My legs were pretty shot from running and the hard effort I put in at lunch on Friday, so I wasn’t in much of a mood to go very fast.  I don’t think I could have if I tried, and I was having so much fun admiring the early morning light on the glistening roads that it didn’t matter.


I was just happy to be on my bike, pedaling as smoothly and efficiently as the strong south wind would allow.   My relatively early start ensured I would be done before the wind got really bad later on, but it was still a challenge to make a lot of progress into the wind and when I turned into the crosswind it kicked my bike around a bit.


Because of my time limitation, I just rode my standard High School loop.  I realized it was quite possibly the last time I would get to ride it this year, depending on what the weather does the latter half of the month.  With the holidays and unpredictability of our December weather, I consider every ride between now and the end of the year to be a gift, so I was very appreciative of this one.

As I looped past the school and turned for home, I relished the chance to have that wind at my back, but I didn’t have enough “oomph” left in  my legs to take advantage of it.  Instead, I just lazily pedaled along enjoying the brightness of the sparkling sunshine around me.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s something therapeutic about riding alone.  I enjoy riding with others, but there are just some days like Saturday that seem meant for solitary rides.  Just me, the bike, and the road make my life happy and fulfilled.

All too soon I was pulling back into the neighborhood.  I ended with 23 miles behind me and a less than impressive average speed of 15.8 mph, but realized that I couldn’t measure the smiles and enjoyment I had gotten from the effort.

Here’s a link to the GPS track on Garmin and Strava.

God bless…


It just keeps going

December 3, 2012


I couldn’t resist.  We were back from vacation, the laundry was done, the groceries were replenished, and in fact, everything we needed to get done was done.  I hit the road shortly after noon Sunday for a planned 2 hour outing.


I cruised out past the river and headed south, thinking that the wind was in my face and that it would be in my favor most of the way back.  I was only half-way right.  I never could find a direction where I felt like the wind was at my back.  I think it was in the process of shifting from the south to the west.


Regardless of the wind direction, I couldn’t believe I was overdressed on December 2nd, wearing shorts, a long sleeve base layer and a jersey.  After being cold for the past 10 days in the Big Apple, this was heaven!


I decided I would go out all the way to Smyrna Road and  climb the big hill.  I think that’s one of my favorite rides…down the hill on Cottonwood and then up again on Smyrna to what seems like the top of the Ozarks.  I can remember when that hill used to kick my tail, but now it’s one of my favorites.  Funny how things change, isn’t it?



I thought this young man was going to be the only cyclist I saw for the day, but I finally saw a couple more as I was almost home.  I got a kick out of the kid.  He was pedaling his bike around the trailer park just above Linden, and was giving me the evil eye as I passed.  Notice he’s riding around without his shirt…and did I already say it was December 2nd?


Even the cows were confused by the weather.  At nearly every pond I passed, they were out in the water cooling off.


As I turned toward Rogersville, I decided I would ride through town, but just keep on pedaling.  I was feeling good, and despite the wind, I felt like I was riding pretty fast (for me).  We had eaten just before I left, so I didn’t think I would need to stop for fuel.  My computer rolled over 20 miles just as I crossed the highway in town, so I knew I would end up with 36ish miles for the day on the route I intended to take back.


To be honest, I was enjoying the solitude after several days with way more people than I’m used to being around.  It was just me, the bike, and the wind in my ears!  Oh, and a few cows, and occasional hawk, and a couple of squirrels.  Traffic was almost non-existent, making the afternoon even more perfect.


When I passed the house above, I had to stop and grab a picture.  In spite of the warm afternoon, it looks like they’re well prepared for the months to come!

I pulled into the garage with a big, silly grin on my face, weary legs, and 36.5 miles behind me.  What blew me away was the 18 mph average speed I carried for the afternoon.  That’s not necessarily what I was intending, but I’ll take it.  Not a bad way to spend the early part of a Sunday afternoon, if I do say so myself.

Links to the GPS track are here and here, if you care about such things.

God bless…


Another Great One

November 19, 2012


Wow!  I can’t believe we managed to get yet another Saturday tandem ride in this fall!  Every week we think that was probably it, but given what we’ve got going the next couple of weekends, the probability is high that this really might be the last one for a while.


Mike was on his new bike Saturday.  It’s a Soma Stanyan  frameset that he built up to a pretty nice longer distance bike.  The picture doesn’t do it justice…it’s beautiful, although I couldn’t help but give him grief over the ghetto looking white wall tires!


Jim joined us Saturday as well.  Actually, he rode 30 miles before joining us, so he had the high mileage for the day!  You couldn’t tell it, though…He’s strong and fast!


Our plan for the day was to ride 17 miles to Strafford, take a break at the c-store, then head for home.  The first several miles were with the wind at our backs, so we were feeling pretty good.  After the hard winds we rode in the last couple of weeks, this was heaven!  Both Pam and I were a little concerned that we might pay the piper later on, but it didn’t happen.  The wind was light enough that heading into it wasn’t very noticeable.  I guess it’s all relative – the breeze we had wasn’t anything compared to the 25-30 mph winds on those rides.


As we started getting close to Strafford, Mike dropped off the back, causing us to wonder what was up.  Was he bonking?  Was that new bike that much heavier that it was slowing him down?  When he pulled in, we found out he was having derailleur problems and couldn’t shift down past his third cog on the back.  No wonder he slowed down!

Pam laughingly captioned the picture above “How many guys does it take to work on a bike?”.  Well, without a work-stand, it takes three.  One to hold the bike up, one to shift gears, and one to adjust the derailleur.  Don’t give us grief over it!


With the bike adjusted and Snicker’s bars consumed, turned our sights toward home.  It didn’t take long before we realized that it was already feeling cooler.  Although it was only mid-afternoon, with the sun  already starting to get low in the sky, Pam switched back to her full-fingered gloves.  We had both started out with them and shed them after about 10 miles.


Our lone wildlife sighting for the day was a big doe that bounded across the road in front of us after we crossed Pierson Creek on the way back.  It’s the last weekend of deer season around here, so we considered it to be a “survivor”.  Needless to say, we had to look quickly before she was gone.

We pulled into the house with 30.7 miles behind us and an average speed of 15.6 mph.  Thirty miles seems to be about the right distance for us this time of year.  It’s long enough to feel like we’ve accomplished something, but not so far as to wear us completely out.  We both felt good when we finished, and it was great to ride with both Mike and Jim.

You can click the map above to see the full GPS track.  It’s on Strava also.

God bless…


Spur of the moment ride

October 29, 2012

I’m really fortunate to live where I do.  I’m right on the edge of town and can be out on quiet country roads in just a few minutes.  It makes it easy to take off on a bike ride with just a moment’s notice.  That’s what I did Sunday afternoon.  Things got kinda quiet, so I decided I would take advantage of the 50 degree weather to get my road bike out for a spin.  I knew I had about an hour and a half, so I decided on my 23 mile “Long High School” loop, got dressed, pumped up the tires, and headed out.

As usual, it took several miles to reacquaint myself with the road bike.  The Madone is just so nimble and geared so differently from my other bikes  that it takes a while to settle into a smooth, efficient spin.  It didn’t help that there was a respectable wind blowing from the northeast to push me around a little bit, making me feel pretty slow out of the gate.

Part of that slowness may have been due to the 8 miles Pam and I ran on Saturday.  I noticed my quads and hamstrings were a little tender, but that worked itself out as I rode and by the time I got home, I was just feeling pleasantly tired.

As soon as you get up the hill at Turner’s, the terrain out in that area turns pretty darn flat.  It’s excellent grassland, and there are a couple of really big hay operations out there in addition to the beef and dairy farms, but in terms of cycling, it’s the kind of place where it’s really fun to just put your head down and pedal fairly hard.  Unfortunately, there was just enough wind that I never really felt like I was flying!  Or maybe, that’s because I’m just not fast enough anymore to feel like I’m flying.  I’m not sure which….

I didn’t see another cyclist the entire time I was out, which is really a shame.  The weather around here is getting kind of persnickety and we’re not going to get a lot of decent riding days before now and the end of the year.  You can rest assured I’ll be taking advantage of these remaining nice days as best as I can.

I made it home in an hour and 20 minutes, well within my allotted time.  Here are links to the GPS track.

Garmin Connect



God bless…










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