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.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bike Week

In these parts we celebrate national bike-to-work day by building a whole week of activity around it.
Last Saturday, the 14th kicked it all off with more events than anybody could attend.  Many of us started a few days early by helping the Michigan Blind Athletic Association by piloting a group of young athletes on a time trial course.

The bike club had their first day of annual Bike Camp with 35 neophyte riders and plenty of volunteers.  Across town the Mayor's ride and the annual Fundraiser for the Kal-Haven trail were being held in different locations all accompanied by freezing windchill.  It's May for Crissake.  Even I, with my smug reputation for braving bad weather, was whining.
There are enough daily events planned that we couldn't work them all in to our schedules.  I went to a public discussion of the scheduled and proposed infrastructure being developed.  Literally several hundred miles of routes and lanes have been designated for development in the county.

Later that evening was the annual Ride of Silence which drew an impressive collection of about 70 people.  It made a significant visual effect in a single file with a police escort.  The rest of the festivities were lost to me since I had volunteered the following Saturday to help promote cycling at a local library.  It was a bust, and I missed the Bell's to Bell's ride from the storefront cafe to the brewing facility of our internationally famous boutique microbrewery.

On the mechanical front, I finally got around to replacing the draw bolt on my Pletscher rack,  It had fallen out during my spring ride and replacements are not to be found.  I used a Nitto bolt, but it's a male fitting rather than the original female fitting.  I had to improvise and use a left over Sheldon's Fender Nut to make it work (Thanks once again to the late great Sheldon Brown!).  This time I thought ahead and used a generous amount of Loctite.
In case you're wondering, that is the single most frustrating place to install a bolt.

Monday, May 9, 2016

OOPS! Where do they belong?

              I have been so busy pedaling my ass across the countryside that I haven't been able to comment on the weird and fun stuff I find out there.  I'm thinking of getting more technological with some Recon Jet glasses but, no harder than I try, the statistics will be too boring to compile.  I'll wait until they come with a voice activated word processing program to allow my inner child a sense of self expression.  I'd be able to blog away all along the road.
On the other hand, technology marches on and there is a new effective way to improve your workouts. Simple, you want a better workout, get a heavier bike.
Yes the ice tires might actually see limited use, but the local governments are trying to make our streets more complete.  I went to a recent meeting at the city hall to unveil a new plan to quiet traffic and put a very busy street on a diet.  I got there a bit late and I understand the screaming and yelling had subsided, so what I heard was just intolerable bitching but not downright embarrassing.
The city's plan is sound and will improve traffic situations in a residential area, but the gas addicts were on a real tear, yelling, screaming and talking over each other.  They were overwhelmingly uncooperative and bordered on violent, but finally were forced to allow a few positive voices to be heard.  Hopefully the city will prevail, everybody seems to appreciate the diets after they are built.  I have yet to hear of one being undone.
In  a more critical area, I have been wrenching away all winter and one of the things that doesn't get done in cold weather is cleaning the little parts tray I have on my work table.  All winter it accumulates parts because I just don't take time to empty it in the cold.  Well, it's warm enough that I took time  to sort out all the parts, screws and nuts and put them in cabinet bins.
When it was done, I found myself staring at 4 ball bearings of 3 different sizes.
So I have that to think about.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The gatherings have begun

I guess I've been taking time away.  My last post was on my 64th birthday.  Since then I've found I am I'm no longer alone!  Well, I never really was.  During the more adventurous time of the year I have all the court appointed cyclists keeping me company. 
Now it's time for the serious cyclists to get out.  It's fair weather.  The Spandex Hamsters can drive their cars to a meeting point without getting them wet and dirty.  Now they can convene and feverishly pedal back to their car.

The important part is they have abandoned the trainers and video tapes in deference to reality.  It helps me feel vaguely validated and less eccentric.  Hope it doesn't rain and scare 'em all off.
I feel comfortable now, sitting in my loose shorts and golf shirts, listening to all the cycling things I don't understand, like distance and speed .  I only feel out of place to them.  In the meantime, I am wondering how many will be going for the electro magnetic drive hub/seat tube option that is dominating the race circuit.  I would think it could help a lot of Strava scores and will probably become the standard for any serious club rider.
This past weekend was the first "best day ever" for bike riding and we still managed to bitch about the wind.  It was nowhere near as bad as the vacation trip I took but we still manage to complain.  I actually managed to work in back to back 50  mile days around a work schedule and was just plain dead on my feet by Tuesday afternoon.
 I got better and drove to Crystal Lake, Il.  this weekend for the Tenth Annual Chicagoland Vintage Bike Ramble.
A bunch of old guys riding really cool old bikes enjoyed some exquisite weather for a 40 mile ride over the Illinois countryside culminating with lunch at an authentic Mexican diner.  
It doesn't get any better than that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Rule #9/ Hall of Fame Tour recap

 On April 1st I posted a notice on the local club's Facebook page that I would be taking a
 Hall of Fame Ride on Saturday.  300+ miles all downwind.  Strange that nobody offered to join me.
But then, on Saturday we had a freak snowstorm of 4-5 inches. 
 Even I chickened out and set everything back a day.  
Saturday came. I waited for the temps to rise and headed off on the journey.
 The wind had shifted and my plan to make it to Indiana proved ridiculous.  The SSW wind was screaming across the open fields so I let it push me East to the Coldwater area.
 You have to be flexible and I was in position for the wind to help again on Monday.
The wind shifted again. Monday was predicted to be the coldest day of the week.  I decided to take it easy and stay warm by sailing downwind to awake with the energy to pedal again.  The greater question, "will I be awake long enough to tolerate the NCAA championship?"
No, apparently I missed the greatest second half in the history of basketball.  Oh well.

Tuesday provided picture perfect skies across northern Ohio.
 The farmers haven't planted and I could swear you can see anything from anywhere.
Wednesday the train came and went, came and went, again and again.  Wind was helpful most of the day, but I must have stopped a dozen times to put my rain cape on or take it off. 
 It's all part of the trip, along with sunsets on the Maumee river.
Thursday proved to be the most productive day.  I still was able to take it easy. The wind was following me directly down the North Coast Inland Trail all day for 65 miles to Elyria.  
The trail is a well developed and well used rail trail built on an abandoned section of  NYC railroad bed.  The surface from Florence to Bellevue is relatively new and excellent asphalt.  Between Bellevue and Kipton the surface varies between fast, hard packed limestone and coarse rough gravel.
It's easy to complain about trails, the surface and intersections slowing down travel, but
they take us to places we wouldn't normally see. 
How fast are you planning to pedal a 70 pound bike anyway?
This old bridge is a real wonder of architecture.  It was built over a hundred years ago
 to support the first mainline connecting New York City and Chicago.  
A double arched bridge built of 10,000 hand cut sandstone blocks, 
         it supported modern rail traffic until 1976 when a new line was built 50 yards south.  
                                  For those of us who are railroad geeks, that is a real treat.  
Since the conditions were good, the wind was right and I felt brave, I pushed on. The last hour, it snowed. I know I live in the Midwest, but this is getting a bit weird.
I awoke Friday with little over 30 miles to go.  It could have been shorter but I trusted Google Maps which led me on an extended tour of Elyria Ohio's extensive MUP system.  It's nice they have that, but I really wanted to leave.  You just can't place full faith in Google.
Once I got past the mistake, it took little time to ride down Detroit Rd to Cleveland.  
I began to see signs of enlightenment, including a Bike Share program, bike lanes and, where ever bike lanes didn't fit, sharrows and signs reminded drivers that bikes would use the full lane.

Early afternoon the quest was over I reached the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I didn't take as many pictures of the exhibits as I should.  I think I was a bit transfixed by all the memories the music evoked.  The museum focuses on the music more than the visual history.  The sound system is, of course, excellent and there are hours of recordings and videos throughout the displays.  Interactive booths provide both replays of favorite songs and groups along with historical commentary.  A theater exists which plays a continuous loop of inductees from year to year and reminds us of the complexity that occurred in the development from Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, the Supremes, The Beatles to Van Halen.  There are a bunch of memories to grab onto.  Displays of memorabilia are extensive.  Elvis, The Beatles and The Stones are the largest.  Graham Nash had an extensive display of his career, not too surprising with the highly publicized release of his latest album.  In one area there was a collection of performance wardrobe with David Bowie's attire next to Michael Jackson's and, directly opposite, the dresses worn by the Supremes.  Oddly, they looked quite natural together.  One couldn't help but enjoy the irony of Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform on display. 

After the museum closed, I was left alone on the streets of Cleveland.  
It was a surprisingly lovely experience.  With two of the major sports arenas downtown,
a thriving theater and nightclub area has developed.  I left the bike, fully loaded, locked on the street without a worry since there were security guards circulating in the crowd throughout the evening.
The real challenge was staying sober enough to find the Amtrak station when it opened at midnight.
Such is the problem when one decides to use Amtrak to or from a bike ride.
You leave yourself dependent on their schedule.
The accommodations are improving.  Here is a look at the bike compartment on the Capitol Limited.
There are wall racks to hold 7 bikes and the door opens right to the platform making it effortless to roll on and load or unload a bike.  I sure hope they expand the idea to other lines.
Waiting for my Michigan connection in Chicago was entertaining as usual. 
There's always something of interest in one of the great shopping and cultural areas of the world.
After a nap on the ride to Kzoo, I stopped a local bar before going home to crash.  The bartender informed me  I was crazy to do anything like this.  Crazy is a bit harsh I think, but let's review.
I only spent a week riding 50-70 miles a day through freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, single digit wind chill, freezing rain and snow.   I've done sillier shit for worse reasons, after all...
I got a t-shirt for this!