Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tale Wind

After a 50 mile ride in a 30 mph head wind.  

Everyone in the Bike Club was excited about going out on a perfect Sunday.  But as the time to meet approached, clouds, cold, and gusty wind arrived howling.  You know, Gentle Readers of This Blog, I considered bagging this one and going back to bed--which would have been the smart thing to do.  Instead I suited up, clipped in, and headed downtown.  

So there I was just moi and thinking maybe I should just head back home cause this is insane and no one is gonna show--and then suddenly this other rider appeared and I did not recognize her at first.  "Hey Bruce!" she said with a smile--Holy Head Wind but it was Karen, my coach from Celebrity Spin Class!  Whoa--Karen is a celebrity around these parts--and I'm riding with her!  Wow!  So we're giving it a few minutes to wait for anybody else--and Tommy arrives.  "Sorry I'm late!  Let's go!" so we were off.  

Okay, mes amis, let me tell you that the head wind going out was brutal--cold, blowing and gusty and gritty!  We took turns pulling and very very slowly made out way to Lecompton, KS via the old Farmer's Turnpike.  I always use the Farmer's Turnpike as a fast dash to get back to Lawrence as its mostly down-hill from the village of Lecompon.  This time we were going West, a way I've never gone--so it was up-hill with lots of long slow climbs, and with a headwind of 30 mph--maybe even more.  

It was a struggle for me.  I'm the big Clydesdale and working extra hard to stay with my mates--I pushed my heart-rate to almost max several times trying in vain to keep up.  They dropped me on the steepest hills, but on the down-side I'd catch up.  My big-ness keeping me on the road while they felt like they had to work hard just to stay on their bikes.  

Finally finally we made it to Lecompton all leaning against the wall of this local restaurant looking exhausted and beaten.  It was after church, and the place was packed with everybody.  We were just slumped there, as I said, propped up against the building--in a stupor. 

Then this well-dressed older gent came out of the restaurant with his wife.  He was, as I could sense--the preacher.  He had a preacher suit on, a preacher hair-do, and his tie--mes amis--glowed with the image of shinning simple silver cross.  He looked upon us and smiled.  "Well, you're going to have one Hell of a ride bike with this wind."  "Yup--"  I was the only one who seemed to have energy to speak.  And so the Man and Wife got in the Lincoln Continental and drove away.  Tommy said, "Let's go--" and so we did.  

You can only imagine the tail wind, Gentle Reader.  It was like I had on a freakin' jet pack!  With gravity on my side, I sped down the road like a freight-train--Big Sexy in the Big Gears.  

Finally back in Lawrence--my ears ringing from the roaring both ways, eyes burning from dust in the wind, and every ounce of strength drained.  Oh and it was still cold as we stopped in the parking lot at the park downtown to say our farewells. 

Butt massage compliments of New York St., Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good To Have Bike Friends

Bob, Sally, Tommy

Still trying out the new interface in blogger.
Wearing my cold weather stuff today

Lone Star Lake.  A bit cold for swimmers and fisherman today, mes amis

Mighty Trek

Our fast pace-line for the ride back to Lawrence


Tommy "The Tornado"

Sally--a long-time Tucson resident like me

Bob--we became friends during Celebrity Spin Class--the Man is Fast!

Leg warmers can finally come off mes amis!
These guys are fun to ride with and though it would not seem the case, all of them are fast!  And I have to work to keep up.  They've all been riding together for many years so the pace is smooth, fast, and fun.  I enjoy this kind of riding, mes amis!

Where food comes from my children--they were telling me that this is corn...
Yours, Bob, Gwen, and Tommy

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Singing Dynamo Hub

Rain and cold on the 300.

I'm finally posting Gentle Readers of This Blog--the 300 didn't go as planned for me I'm afraid. Possibly I could have made it but with the rain and cold, and hypothermia coming on--I had to DNF late in the ride in the middle of the night.

I got lucky and had an escape plan that worked--this time. But I have to say this was a hard brevet for me. Pretty much the first 15 to 20 miles were okay. I was with the group and when we started to spread out, I could see everyone up ahead so I felt good. The roads were pretty much deserted--fast and smooth rollers endlessly in front of me.

Wind and dark clouds soon arrived--with lightening too--and all of were caught off guard because within seconds a down-pour soaked us--soaked me before I could dismount and get on my rain gear. That was the tough part, mes amis--having all my gear wet so early. I'm glad I brought everything really because I almost left stuff behind--booties and rain pants--things that I bought early in December and January for just this kind of brevet. I was carrying what seemed like a ton of stuff--and I would use all of it...

I really will consider building a brevet bike. Fenders would have been a big help to me. Oh and on some fast rollers with the group, I hit a bump and one of my water bottles flew out and rolled into the high grass. I did not stop to retrieve it as I wanted to stay with everyone--plus I had packed an extra in the Carridice bag just in case.

Pretty much the ride was a slog in heavy rain. The route was remote and scenic, through rich green farmland--best I've ever seen. But the miles took their toll--and I just want to say that, again--I felt that the cue sheet was kind of vague--as I got lost a few times--and rode way off course and had to back-track. It didn't help that I was cold, tired--and probably confused and not thinking clearly.

Totally lost with cold and darkness setting in, I weighed my options and made a call to Ricky to come fetch me in Marshall Missouri. The thing was, Gentle Reader, is that I was so off-course that the cue sheet really would be of no use--I pretty much rode to the what I figured was Marshall, MO as I could see the city lights reflecting on the clouds lumbering above that locale. I have to tell you it was a cold long lonely ride. Man, I was so tired too...

Ricky and I made it to that fair city within minutes of each other--about two hours from when I called him. I had ridden almost 50 miles more than where I would be on the cue sheet. I just wanted to get the hell outta there--I was wet, frozen, and exhausted.

Schmidt Dynamo Hub and light set up for the 300.

I wanted to let you know that out on a test ride, I started to hear a click up front. I thought it could be the hub going out, and this really worried me because I had phoned up Peter White Cycles in Vermont, and talked a few minutes with Linda when I was ordering replacement bulbs for my light. I had wondered if I should need to send them the hub and have them service it--but Linda said only if I started to hear a grinding sound. Well I wasn't sure and I called her right away when I had the chance. Also want to tell you when I got the replacement bulbs--I ordered five--the first one I tried with the Dynamo flared and burned out. With only a few days before the ride, I was worried I'd have no hub--or it would go out. So after calling Peter White Cycles again, and talking to Linda--and she talking to one of the mechanics there--they thought it could be the spokes and to get them checked-out.

This position worked well for me--really was trail and error to get just the right beam the way I liked on the road mes amis.

Sure enough later after work, Chad at the local bike shop found the problem--but the real diagnosis was that the wheel was shot. He spent 20 minutes working away, trying to get the spokes tight. The wheel was true but pretty beat up. Would it last a 300? Not sure and only one way to find out.

I can report that the Lumotec worked fantastic on the road, and the hub was the least of my worries--but it creaked, clicked, and moaned on those mile I rode. Sometimes it was like riding by a house and hearing people talking on their porch outside in the cool air. Other times the sound was like a hum or someone singing silently to their self. It was eerie a few times in the middle of the night on a dark rolling road in the country.

I still use the bulbs and don't have LED yet, but even in the worst conditions, this light with the hub is extremely reliable--and it was bright. A bit about my hub--it was given to me by the legendary Randonneur, Gerry Goode, of Boston Massachusetts. The hub and the wheel had seen many brevets and was used at least twice for PBP and who knows how many times for BMB. With all these miles on the wheel, well time to have another built (being built as I write) and the hub, from what Linda tells me, will last from many more years.

Riding over the Missouri River into Glasgow, Missouri.

I photographed the bridge going over the Missouri River and going right into the town of Glasgow. From here I'd have 14 miles to Fayatte, MO for the turn around and controle at mile 97 (which would be mile 107 for me because of a missed turn and back-track in the town of Slater...)

Captains Lewis and Clark and the Voyage of Discovery crew stopped here in 1802.

Glory Days.

I will say that the small towns in Missouri seem to be fairing much better than the ones I've seen in Kansas. The landscape was rich and beautiful (when the rain let up a few hours anyway) and as you can see, the people that farmed this land prospered. I believe there will soon be a shift back to the more organic farm, and the greedy, poisonous way corporate farms do business will not be tolerated by consumers much longer.

Trying to dry out my clothes--but not much luck.

So I have been wondering if this brevet riding is worth it, Gentle Readers of This Blog. But really, the problem was not my fitness level or my gear--it was logistical. Problems with cue sheet and missed turns--also weather. I really believe its time to build up a brevet bike with fenders, etc. That could have helped me more. I also believe that I will attempt the 400 on April 28th. Then the 600 in May 12th. After Little Egypt has comes home for R and R--and then heads back to Kuwait, I can try and make up a 300 in Iowa later in mid-June.

Cheers! Bruce