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, April 12, 2019

When the bike ride goes bad, but for the better.

     It all made sense, it sounded simple enough.  Spring break week, get out of the cold, wet early spring here in Michigan and find someplace a little warmer for a few days.  Last summer, when I wandered around the forest in Michigan, it occurred to me that there were a lot of places like that I hadn't seen, I realized there are 20 (count 'em) 20 national forests within a 1 day drive of my home.    So I decided to go visit one of these hidden gems that nobody looks at while they search out cities and shoreline.  The Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois is one such monster.  I packed up the day before, drove down on a Tuesday morning and was camped by 3 o'clock. 
 It was all easy peasy, I had a chance to take a hike through the "Garden of the Gods," 
 a series of cliffs overlooking the forest and the Ohio River Valley.
The rock formations are eerie and rumored by scientists to be 300 million years old.
You can almost imagine the striations being caused by the lowering water levels 
of the ancient inland ocean which deposited and compacted all the sand 
There are a couple of days of history carved into these cliffs
A nice view of the forest which is just starting to bud this early in the spring.  It was 20 degrees warmer than Michigan but only the weeds were becoming green this early in the year.
and yonder's Kantucky!
Well that was fun for the first day.  The plan was to kick back with dinner for the night and relax, Wednesday I was going to ride 20 miles or so through the woods to the river and see some more the forest was hiding.  But...I realized I had left both my tire pumps at home.  Damn, fortunately I had an inflator and an extra CO2 cylinder, so I could continue without a problem,
except that the the brand new inflator I had  was a problem.  No, there was more to it.  It was a Planet Bike part. I like their flashy lights, their fenders get good reviews; this is a piece of shit.   It not only wouldn't puncture and open the cylinder, the damn thing came apart in my hand.  Well I took the positive approach and decided it was all for the best that it happened when I was on a car trip.  I was going to drive to a different part of the forest,  so I simply made a 10 mile detour past Wal-Mart and bought a cheap mini pump which turned out worse than the inflator.  I gave up with only 45 lbs of pressure.  After driving down to the other part of the forest, I realized, (taking the positive approach again) that the  gravel roads I expected were far too rough for 32mm tires anyway.   Their "gravel" was more like the coarse granite ballast used to compact and build railroad beds. 
So I rationalized the whole damn thing 
took a very pleasant walk in the woods along the streams that
led to the Johnson Falls and the valleys and ravines created by all the streams and water falls.  Now I'm thinking this was a good way to reconnoiter the area for a future trip.  This forest must be magnificent in the fall with colors in all the hardwoods.  I'm thinking it's a great opportunity to ride a heavier bike over a 20 or thirty gravel miles, hike the two or three into woods  below the falls, strip down and go for a swim in the pond.  That's my kind of triathlon.
So the trip was not a total loss and I'm looking forward to another visit.  I'm also ordering the Genuine Innovations inflator that I used to have, lost, but know works flawlessly despite the fact that no LBS carries it any more.  This is how Amazon keeps drawing customers, the locals don't have what we want, so they force us to go elsewhere.
In the meantime, I'll try and learn a few ancient Wikken curses 
to lay on this thing, bludgeon it into a billion pieces and consign it to oblivion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Well, I'm glad that's over!

    Winter that is...I think.    This is Michigan and you cannot be too certain at this point, but the (in)Accuweather app on my phone is predicting a slow warming trend for the next week.  It was a really frustrating winter.  It never got consistent enough to ski, every time we had a substantial snowfall, it would warm up and rain for a day or two.  That made the streets, trails and sidewalks unpredictably icy and hard to use even with 50mm studded tires.  I know, I know, fat tire this and that, but I just can't get there since that's only a minor inconvenience.   I'd rather see a consistent temperature range in the teens and twenties because it's easier to dress for that.  Rain and cold don't work well together, but hopefully that's past and we can make normal plans now.
       This year the city helped kick off the cycling season for the "normal" people by inviting the Kalamazoo Bicycling Club to lead the annual St. Patrick's day parade.  Despite freezing temperatures and sleet falling int he morning, there were a couple thousand spectators lining the streets as a dozen or so cyclists tried to maintain a 1 MPH pace along the 1/2 mile route.  Imagine trying to perform a track stand for thirty minutes.  It was tough without training wheels but we survived with only one fall (damned clipless pedals).
      Then we all got invited to Bell's Brewery for a free beer and their St. Patty's celebration.  It was a fitting way for the community to welcome cyclists into the springtime which is officially here today on the 20th...along with snow and sleet.  Oh, well!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Not even me!

     Last year in April I missed a day riding my bike and could honestly say I had ridden every day for 6 years straight.  Now there was a lot of bad weather and it can be said that I do learn stuff.   During that past 6 year period I had gone out to ride when in -30F wind chill.  I realized it was the 2nd stupidest thing I had ever done on a bike.  I only rode about 5 blocks (strictly for bragging rights), the snow conditions were rough enough that I actually worked up a sweat, while locking my bike outside Panera I unzipped my coat and my shirt froze solid instantly.  Then I realized the danger.  If anything had gone wrong on that little journey I could have died quite quickly.  This week, when we were polarized to death, I stayed inside and did some cleaning and painting that I had been ignoring.
     I hope nobody else risked it on the streets during that freeze over.  
     The day after, when the temps got into the balmy teens, I took a ride through the streets caked with packed snow.  It was more like riding an MTB trail.  Of course I got a puncture, but since I had Flat Attack tubes I didn't go flat, just lost a little air.  I stopped, added some air, gave the wheel a spin and rode on.  It's good to know that the Flat Attack sealant is still viable after -41F temperatures.
 Yep, that is a shameless plug. 
      I really appreciate using sealant in the tubes.  It's been over two years since I had a real flat on the road.  I know that tubeless is probably the tech turn of the future, but right now the only tires available are a limited selection of  high quality (expensive) competition quality tires.  Not the type an everyday cyclist can use to his advantage.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

       Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg for putting to rest the question of "The View" being a reliable source for qualified opinion or analysis.  She went after the NYC Mayor for creating bike lanes which she claims have strangled traffic.  Of course the one she referred to, the bike lane on 10th Ave, does not exist.  Great research Whoopi!
        It's the best I have heard since the rant proclaiming "death by bicycle" authored by Dorothy Rabinowitz, the WSJ contributor and board member.
So, I am awarding Whoopi the Rabinowitz award for hateful stupidity.
A real photo of a Rob Ford bobblehead.  The deceased Mayor of Toronto hated cycling so much he spent more money scrubbing the bike lanes off the streets of Toronto than it cost to install them.
     In the meantime, nestled safely away in the fly over zone, a local committee of township officials continues to develop a regional network of bicycle routes.

I've mentioned this before and their work continues at speeds that will break the neck of any bureaucratic snail.  Inching forward on a quarterly basis they are craftily conspiring to create the largest cycling network I have ever seen, and they are putting it together so carefully that their jurisdictions will have no reason to say no.  

It will only require the posting of signs in the appropriate places, and cost less than a couple months of garbage collection at their offices.  
       I'm going to make a note to invite Whoopi and Dorothy to perform the ribbon cutting.