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.

Monday, November 22, 2021

An overnight urban trek.

Starts on Amtrak again
because dozing as the landscape unfolds beats staring at taillights in the white knuckle fright of Chicago bound traffic. 
After overhearing a couple theology students theorizing that Adele and Beyonce are Satanic because of their dress colors, it was time for ear buds and rock 'n roll. 
Chicago is starting the holiday season with a Xmas bazaar surrounding their famous Picasso. 
Obviously Chicago is getting better for cyclists, there are nice old steel bikes (camouflaged with rattlecan paint) bearing some leather saddles that are showing
care and lively patina.
After a moderate ride through the Northside and stopping for lunch in Oldtown, it was time to enjoy the warm and bright afternoon with a stroll through Lincoln Park. 
There was time to check into the hotel, nap, shower and take an Uber to the main excuse; 
an excellent and unorthodox performance of Othello at The Court Theater. 
After a good night's sleep there was a little time to cruise around the loop.  The wind whipped the moderate 50's down into the 20 degree range so people were enjoying the Millennium Park ice rink. 
I checked out the reflective view of the skyline before
 hustling off to the afternoon train home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

It's that time

       The days are shorter, the mornings darker, the evenings darker still.  Left on the streets are a few  stalwarts who have been spoiled by their daily exposure to the natural elements.  Beside the daily endorphin rush we all get from riding a bike, many appreciate the variety a change in seasons provides.  Of course visibility becomes more important as the daylight decreases and one of the things I rely upon has worn out and needed replacement.
      I've been using these signaling gloves for 5 years around town and finally had to order a new pair.  They're really  a spandex shell with reflective patches.  A red one on the palm and yellow patches on the back.  The gloves are meant for traffic direction by emergency personnel and parking attendants.  

They work great in the city for all seasons.  
The glove works well by itself even though there is no  padding like a cycling glove.

They stretch over other gloves, either cycling or cold weather gloves 
like Chrome cycling gloves. The color shows up great in daylight,
but really pops out when hit with a light,
 and is especially effective for signaling in traffic.
      The red patch on the palm is bright and effective to signal slowing or stops, but, unfortunately, is not made for constant gripping and will wear out and fall off pretty quickly.  The first pair I bought were from GLO-GLOVES website, these, called Hatch DNR100,  are found on Amazon for $17 .  They provide additional visibility in traffic, and more effective signaling .


Monday, October 25, 2021

One last grasp

      Since most of the summer was spent waiting for my Hunq to get back from the powdercoater,  I decided to make a local trip to end the season.  It was planned  a three nighter to the Yankee Springs area.  It's great having a forest like that nearby.  It's about a 40 mile ride north to the campground on a familiar escape route from the city.
      The campground was sparsely populated with a few late season campers and hunters.  I just wanted to get out and ride the Hunq after being deprived of wandering for months.
      I had built the Hunq with Rene Herse tires this time around since people I respect rave about them.  On the first S240 a few weeks ago I found they work beautifully on pavement.  This trip gave me a chance to sample other surfaces.  I picked the Snoqualmie Pass tires from their pricey palette.  Snoqualmie Pass translates into 44/622 in English.  It's best suited for pavement and gravel riding.  The Bike Snob has said that riding Rene Herse tires is like "having your scranus massaged by God."  I was a bit skeptical, but he's from Brooklyn, who knows their values?  I'd be happy with a lesser deity fondling me.  They are excellent on pavement.  With the bike loaded I filled them with 60 lbs of pressure (10 more than I would choose unloaded).  I have to say they are the best touring tires I have ridden.  They are light and roll fast on a fully loaded bike.
      I woke up in a room with a beautiful view.  Camping is always a pleasure, the temps were cool, getting into the 30's at night.   During the night I awoke for a while and listened to the owls conversing.   There was one very near calling "hoo, hoo, hoo--hoo, hoo" immediately I heard a distant  "hoo, hoo, hoo--hoo, hoo" in reply.  The nearer replied  "hoo, hoo, hoo--hoo, hoo" the distant one replied again.  They engaged in this conversation for 20 minutes before a third from another distance chimed in with "hoo, hoo--hoo."  The first two replied as they had.  The conversation continued for a few exchanges before disappearing all together.  What exactly were they discussing.  To what party did they go?  

      The next day provided a few hours wandering the infamous gravel of the Barry Roubaix through the forest.  The gravel was fairly well packed and the tires were excellent.  Even on the looser gravel the bike was sure footed and rode smoothly.

      I decided to jump onto the North Country Trail.  After a few hundred yards I knew the minimalist tread would not cut it.  The sand was thick, wet, covered with leaves and cobbled by horses.  I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on gravel until I  wound my way  to Hastings where I stopped to buy food.  On the way back to camp I made a stop at Yankee Bill's Wood Fired Saloon for a couple beers and one of their excellent pizzas.
      I was whipped that evening and after a couple more beers and dinner, slept without hearing a symphony of owls.  In the morning I took the bike out for a spin on the MTB trails.  The tires worked well.  They even powered through the sandy washouts without incident.  I'm nobody's hero on the trails but escaped without putting a foot down. 
       I decided to cut the trip short since a cold rain was predicted for the night and following morning.   The ride back to town was without incident except for a puncture a few miles from home.  The rear tire felt spongy,  I stopped, shot some CO2 into it, gave it a spin and the Flat Attack tubes did their thing, sealed it up and I rode away happily.  
    The tires were great although heavier tread would be better for the MTB trails and necessary for the foot/horse trail.   Are they worth IT?  It's a tough call.  I can't compare them to much but the Gravel King slicks I'm using on my Sam Hillborne.  They are both made by Panaracer, the tread very similar, the sidewall on the Herse tires is more supple and provides a better ride.  The 43mm Gravel Kings are priced around $60 while the Snoqualmie Pass are $75.  I could swallow the $15 bucks I guess.  On the other hand, the choice for the Hillborne will  be more difficult.  35mm Gravel Kings are $38 versus $75 for the Herse equivalent.  That will be a hard decision.  They are great tires, but I did not feel I was sitting on the face of Venus.  Oh well, even the Stones can't always get what they want.

Monday, October 11, 2021

On a diet.

 Yeh, Yeh,   I'm working on the Covid beer gut, but I'm talking about the Hunq.  I was thinking, after a few discussions with other tourists that, despite years of trimming down my gear, I had unconsciously gone the other direction.  Having a stout and capable bike like the Hunqapillar one thinks that saving a little here and there is like pissing at a hurricane.  After all, the bike is heavy by modern standards so adding a stout and stable rack makes sense.    


I added two. 

That led to the ability to add a basket, a larger saddlebag, two more bottle cages and all the shit to fill them.  

On my last trip I started thinking that the racks were unnecessary since I had bags, smaller ones, that didn't need the support.  I packed those with the minimal touring essentials and took a "backpacking" look at the gear. 

      It looks a lot leaner.  It still needed a saddlebag support.  I went with the really light Pletscher Athlete rather than the heavy duty Inova version.  Between that, using minimalistic Blackburn low riders and SKS Velo 65 fenders, I saved nearly 10 lbs.  Going through the gear I replaced my stainless steel cook set with two titanium pans, the utensils with a titanium spork, and, since I use an alcohol stove, I removed the MSR bottle of alcohol and plan to buy HEET at C-stores and gas stations as needed.  I discovered I carried 5 knives.  Yeah, that's what I said.  I had one in my cooking utensils, my pocket knife, there is one on my multitool, another tiny pocket knife on my car key chain and one on my Leatherman tool.  The Leatherman is essential to any camping in my opinion, they're just too useful, the rest were redundant.   I managed to eliminate almost 25 pounds from the bike and still carry all the essentials I outlined in the book.  How much does it weigh now?  I think between 55-65 lbs, but honestly, I don't want the exact answer.
      I took it out for an overnight since I had just rebuilt it.  It was a beautiful weekend, with temps in the 70's and little wind.  I rode about 40 miles to The Deep Lake campground in the Yankee Springs forest.  I found a few loose screws and impressed myself by unraveling a shifter cable adjusting the derailer.  I hate it when that happens, a brand new cable! I'm an idiot.   The bike was noticeably easier to ride without the extra weight The overnight was pleasant although the campground was busy with chatty kids and some MTB enthusiats celebrating a conquest.  Other than that, I slept late, packed up slowly and returned home without incident.  I'm going to follow up with a long weekend before the snow flies.