This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Old people, new tech.

     Another beautiful fall day rambling about for 20 miles or so I stopped to watch a swan couple feeding in the local marsh.  You can't believe how frustrating it was to get a photo of these two.  They come up for air simultaneously and put their heads back down in perfect rhythm and each time I snapped a shot their heads went down and I caught nothing but their backs.

     After reviewing my attempts at nature photography it dawned on me that I have a video option.  Any 12 year old would have  created a Tic Toc masterpiece.  Oh well, what do you do with old people.  Maybe I'll get it next time.
     "Next time" came around for tire technology.  A friend was bragging about the ride he was experiencing after converting to tubeless tires so I was tempted to try it again.  He is more profligate than I and didn't mind paying $90 a tire to give it a whirl.  That has been the sticking point for me.  The tires developed have been just too damn expensive for an experiment.  Panaracer came out with Gravel King tires which can be had for less than $50, so I was tempted.  I also had need  for new wheels so I decided to have Velocity build a set for the Hillborne and I could pass the old ones down to another project I'm considering.  This time around the tubeless thing appears to be a success.  Riding on 20-30lbs less  pressure provides a very luxurious ride.  On a Rivendell the ride is incomparable, maybe indescribable.  I don't notice any loss of speed or increase of effort, but those are both areas I ignore anyway.  The sidewalls for the Gravelking tires are more stout than I need for this bike.   After I wear them out, I may be tempted to roll the higher priced Rene Hearse tires, maybe even convert the Steam Punk Hunq as well.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Activity in the age of the Plague

       Everybody is a bit fed up with this disease crap to say nothing of the politics which have developed around the issue of our health.  I went to a properly socially distanced/masked meeting of our bike club at an outdoor pavilion and most people are limiting their bike riding because of the lack of social support that exists.  Riding alone is not enough fun.  People like me are still out on the street and using bikes everyday, but most of the time I have no place to go.  There's only so many safe destinations out there and the lack of social interaction takes the fun out of the bike rides. 

       In addition, I've had to hobble away from the bike a bit lately because of an injury.  I didn't get hurt falling off my bike and skinning my knee or nothin'.  I hurt myself playing golf.  There you go.  Who could think golf is dangerous.  I hadn't played for a few years because of a shoulder injury, when I started again I kinda over did it and beat up my left foot real bad.  I can walk, but it hurts and I guess it will take a long time to heal.  I actually drove my car on a few errands in town the other day.  I was reminded why I ride. 

I felt in much more danger driving my car, and will probably have to put gas in it twice this month.  Driving in the city limits should be illegal, it sucks, how  do people even live?   

       All this  has kept me off the bike more than the past few years.

but it hasn't kept me from buying new bike shit!  
That new saddlebag from Rivendell on the blue Hillborne is really beautiful.  It adds enough room to carry some groceries (a 12 pack) on the way home, or a few days of clothing if I make a credit card trip.  The leather accents really pimp out the look.

I went a little overboard on a new raincape from Cleverhood but have no buyer's remorse.  It has only rained one day since I bought it but it is the bomb!  The real advantage to a rain cape is ventilation.  Unlike a jacket, it allows air flow underneath and doesn't force you to drown in your sweat getting clammy and uncomfortable .The fabric is beautiful,
 there are real reflective threads woven in,
 it's totally waterproof and looks classy at any destination.  Of course it's not for spandex hamsters, it will slow you down in the wind.  If you're determined to sacrifice for  speed, get wet.
The real upgrade for the year has been the Brompton.  There is no way to describe how useful this weird looking toy can be.  It is shockingly comfortable to ride.  
The main tubes provide nifty places to stash tools and a spare tube,

and routine shopping trips become a pleasure without leaving it with all the department store bikes at the bike rack.  A much better machine than the Dahon Expresso I owned, it has expanded my horizons of urban cycling and I can't wait to try it out this winter with studded tires.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Getting away from the plague.

These days it's a little hard to get away from the things we are avoiding.  Staying home is more dangerous than getting out.  I wanted to get outside somewhere else.  On the county map of Michigan's Covid data, Oscada County is one of the few "green" zones.  You can see why.  No people.  Just a comfortable place away from infection.  I chose a more secluded campground than I did on my first trip to the Huron forest.  The Pine River Campground is 6 miles from the nearest paved road
and the river runs right past it.  150 years ago this was the sight of a hatchery where Rainbow Trout was imported into Michigan from the Rocky Mountains.  I expected the fishing to be at least fun for a novice fly fisherman type guy.  It probably is.
The fact that I didn't get any interest from the fish is testimony to my incredible ineptitude with a fly rod.  It's fun, casting away into the burbling waters expecting a violent clash with a wild fish at any moment.  I was more successful at enjoying the change of scenery for my isolation and was successful at chasing Rainbows, never catching one.
I'm better at chasing rainbows on my bike.  I can catch beautiful views from the asphalt.  The paved roads in the area are excellent for biking and provide great views of the forest as well as some overlooks of the Au Sable River valley.

The gravel roads are more pleasant and less challenging than those of the Manistee forest.  Outside the river valley the roads are less hilly and less sandy than the west side of the state and miles of quiet forest provide an idyllic experience with virtually no traffic.  One afternoon riding three hours, I experienced a car.  It was parked on the side of the road, I suppose while somebody was out hunting whatever is in season.  

There's plenty of variety out there for the more adventurous.  A network of marked and maintained snowmobile trails provide even deeper isolation and more challenge to those who want to beat themselves up a little more.  
They begin with a two track and lead to plain grass or sandy single tracks but get you farther into the forest to the simple beautiful places to let loose of your concerns for a bit.

After few hours on the bike and a couple of trips to the river to find a feisty fish, who continued to elude me, I was pretty worn out each day.
The afternoons were perfect in the 60's, temps dropped at night when the sky cleared off leaving a magnificent array of stars to look at over a warm campfire.  The mornings were, shall we say, brisk being in the 30's, but I didn't notice until I tried getting up at a normal hour.  Walking outside changed my mind completely and made a good excuse to take a leak, crawl back into bed and read until I fell back asleep and things warmed up a bit.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

it's as quiet as it gets.

Just as I expected the Huron forest provides a variety of roads.   Most of the gravel is easier to navigate than the Manistee.  It's not as hilly or as sandy.   They make for pleasant 20-30 mile rides.