Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First Run to the Store

I made my first run to the grocery last night on the Schwinn Continental. The store is just under 3 miles away, right down this road.

At the store, lock in place. I probably don't need to lock it, but I'm not taking any chances.

Groceries in place. Only needed a gallon of milk, gallon of distilled water, and some cereal bars (I eat one after I get to work). Still, I would have driven down to the store to get these things. I don't ride my Tri Cross to the store anymore since I installed Look-style pedals. The cleats on my shoes are too tough to walk in. The beauty of this bike is I can wear regular clothes, regular shoes, and blend right in with the locals.

I can't get over the chrome on this baby.

The sun came out for just a moment, long enough for me to catch some rays bouncing off of the chrome.

OK, I think I'm done obsessing now.

Happy riding!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Errand Bike

Well, I shouldn't have, but I did. I saw this 28 year old darling on Craigslist, and thought I'd check her out in person. She's a 1981 Schwinn Continental, with upright handlebars.

The fellow from whom I purchased her was quite knowledgeable about bikes, and had several bikes of his own. That helped me feel a little bit better about buying another bike. He was not asking very much for this bike, which helped me feel even better (my two new Schwalbe Marathon tires cost more than I paid for this bike). The owner wanted to make sure this bike went to a good home, which I promised I'd give her.

Look at the gleam in her rims!

How could anyone say no to this beauty? The only thing I didn't like about her was the saddle. It sucked! When I rode it the saddle felt like it was trying to pry apart my hip bones.

Fortunately, I had a cushy saddle, which I promptly installed when I got home.

I also stuck my old Blackburn rack and some panniers for errands to the grocery store and beyond. This will be ideal for toting my disc golf bag from course to course.

Life is good.

Decatur Flat Fifty Plus

I rode the Decatur Flat Fifty Plus yesterday. Decatur's only 30 miles from home, so I thought I should ride it since it's so close. It turned out to be a great ride. In fact, in 1999 it was given the distinction of "best Country Tour in all of America!" What I liked about this ride was the lack of traffic.

The morning started off sunny and warm.

Shortly after we left Decatur, we headed into Ohio. You know how the grass is always greener...? It's pretty brown here. Actually, this is winter wheat almost ready for harvest.

When we did encounter traffic, it was usually horse-drawn. There were many buggies and wagons that were leading spare horses - something I don't see very often in the Amish community near my home.

Back in Indiana. This is going to be a good year for corn if it doesn't turn dry the second half of July and August like it did last year. The saying used to be "knee-high by the 4th of July". This corn will be head-high by next week.

A covered bridge - had to take its picture.

This was my favorite SAG stop. That's quite a distinction as I like ALL SAG stops.

This bluegrass band was outstanding.

We eventually headed into Berne, Indiana, a Swiss community. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera ready when we crossed busy Main Street with all of the Swiss architecture. Berne is small enough that if you aren't ready, you'll be through it before you know it.

And back to Bellmont High School. I rode the 100 mile route, which was 4 extra loops around each SAG stop. There were a lot of riders on the main route, but almost no one else on the 100 mile loops. It got pretty lonely out there.

Happy riding!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nice Day

The weather here this week has been hot. Highs in the upper 80's with lots of sun and humidity. I hate to admit it, but the heat feels pretty good on my aging joints.

The sunrises have started hazy, but pretty.

The afternoons have been breezy with cumulus clouds riding big bubbles of hot air rising from the landscape.

My plan is to enjoy summer as much as I can this year. I've got more miles on the bike in 2009 already than I did in all of 2008. Not that I'm terribly concerned about mileage. But I've been feeling strong and very good about everything in general.

Happy riding!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gratifying Wednesday Night

I am an avid disc golfer, and usually play in two or three leagues at a time. One of my disc golf buddies came up to me tonight and excitedly told me he purchased a bike this past weekend and has been riding it every day since he bought it.

This is an especially big deal to me since he has been out of a job for some time, then recently got a job working only a few hours a week. He's been in the dumps for quite a while, but tonight he made a special point to run up to tell me about his bike. That's the happiest I've seen him in a long time.

I had no idea he would even be interested in riding a bike. I often ride my bike to Wednesday league night, but he has no idea I ride my bike to work or to other places, or go on organized rides. Just the simple act of riding to league night apparently was inspiring to him.

So, you biking addicts out there, you are positive forces in this world. You may never know who you are influencing. But rest assured, people see you biking and they might think why can't I?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Every so often, I experience a Perfect Storm - a seemingly unrelated series of events, that by themselves, are harmless and maybe even amusing. But a certain combination of annoying, amusing events can be catastrophic. That happened to me yesterday just after I left for my ride to work.

It all started when I put new tires on my bike - Schwalbe Marathons.

The Marathons rode great for my Pumpkinvine Ride in Goshen. I did notice that they are stiffer than my previous tires from Specialized. The new Marathons make for a bumpier ride. But I really like the way they roll and grip the road.

My Nite Rider headlamp, however, didn't seem to like the added vibrations. Actually, when I put the headlamp back on the handlebar mount, I didn't click it into place. It didn't even cross my mind - I just slid it into the mount and headed out.

A mile and a half later on our horse-battered road, and the headlamp slipped out of the mount, swung down and around by it's battery umbilicus, right into the back side of my front wheel spokes. (This below is a poorly executed re-creation - do not try this at home).

The headlamp in the spokes stopped my quicker than I could react, with the exception of my left hand, which unwittingly squeezed the brake lever. I stopped quicker than my brain could figure what was happening, and I fell to the side of the road in the grass. Feet still in the pedals.

I was able to pull the headlamp out OK, but it bent four spokes during the entry.

When I squeezed the brake lever, the right side brake pad connected with the rim, then when the headlamp entered the spokes, deflected the rim to the left so that the brake pad slipped under the rim's side wall.

The brake pad housing gouged a perfect gnurl of aluminum from the side of my rim, all the way around.

I pulled the brake pad out, rode home, got in my truck and drove to work, still scared of what had happened. Last night, I replaced the two worst-bent spokes and am ready to leave for work now. I did put a zip-tie around the wire between the headlamp and the battery so the headlamp can't fall into the spokes again.

Talk about freak accidents, sheesh! Anyway, bike seems to be in good order now.

Be safe out there!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pumpkinvine Ride

Well, gentle bikers and kind readers of this blog, that is all you will be doing on this blog entry - reading. I forgot to take my camera with me on the Pumpkinvine Ride Alex, her sister Brooke, and I did yesterday in Goshen, IN.

I would paint a picture in your minds of the beauty we saw yesterday; if only I had a better command of the English language. Instead, I will be brief and suffice to say that we had a great time. Alex and Brooke rode the 26 mile route while I rode the 104 mile route.

I actually rode the 116 mile route because I missed the first loop to Middlebury the first time around. Fortunately, after 6 miles, I realized I missed the loop, and rode back to pick it up.

It was great to see so many people out yesterday - there were over 1,000 riders. Lots of kids, the future of our country - on bikes. Lots of older folks. I saw two gentlemen that could not be a day under 90 years. One elderly lady could barely walk, but she could pedal away on a recumbant trike.

I rode for a while with a couple from Columbus, OH, who recognized my TOSRV jersery. I could not keep up with them, but I caught them at several SAG stops. They started calling me "tosrv-guy", and would say, "hey, there's the tosrv-guy" as they zipped past me several times.

The ride ended in classic style. The final 30 miles of the route steered us directly into a strong northwest headwind. Just before the final SAG stop was a long, long hill that got steeper near the top. Add the headwind, and it was a killer. I managed to reach the summit at 9.5 mph, but there were several riders stopped at the top wondering why they hadn't yet reached the final SAG.

I'm getting a lot of satisfaction in biking this year. This ride epitomized my biking experience: we don't know what we can accomplish until we are really tested. But if we really work at it, we can overcome that summit in the headwind. I hope all of you have great rides and are challenged regularly.

Keep on riding!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Ramble in Amish Country

Living on the edge of a large Amish community has many nice advantages, perhaps the greatest being very low traffic roads. Especially on Sunday mornings. Alex and I took a 29 mile bike tour this morning through our neighboring Amish country. Of course, Sunday mornings means church, so no buggies on the road this morning.

It was a perfect morning for riding, with no wind and temps in the low 60's. From a half mile away, we could smell new mown hay. Here it is having been raked yesterday. This hay will be ready for bailing maybe Tuesday, if it dries out enough. The first cutting is late this year because it has been so wet farmers couldn't get into their fields until recently. Of course, getting corn and soybeans planted is first priority, making hay second.

Many Amish homesteads have purple martin houses. This is one of my favorite martin house complexes - made from dried gourds.

It is part of a larger complex below:

Check out this garden. There are many beautiful gardens in this area. It is fun to look at them along the way.

These turkey vultures were waiting for us when we got home. Fortunately they were asleep and they didn't see us. Of course they wouldn't have bothered us if they did see us, but I always flop my arms when turkey vultures are around just so they know I'm still kickin'.

Happy riding!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rain, rain, rain...

We've been getting a lot of rain over the past 3 months, and it is eating into my cycling. I was going to ride to work every day this week, but rain on Monday and today (Thurs) has kept me in the truck. I did get to ride Tues and Wed, and plan to ride tomorrow if the rain stops.

Since May 18, I have prevented the release of 416 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2) from my truck by commuting by bike. If you are interested in how I arrived at that calculation, check my earlier blog on this subject. I have a personal goal of saving 1 ton (2000 lbs) of CO2 this year by commuting by bike to work and other places I would normally drive by truck.

One good thing about the rain is that it allows my legs to recover a bit. Although I must say that I am feeling pretty darn good lately on the bike. I have accumulated 1582 miles since Jan 1, which is almost as much as I rode all of 2008.

We've got a great deal of good cycling weather coming up, so I realize this rain is a temporary and probably necessary respite.

Hope the sun shines on all of you out there! Keep on riding!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Put More Bark in your Bike

I've been wondering about getting my dog into biking. I believe he needs more exercise, or at least more mental stimulation. He is a house dog, but he spends the entire day outside, and we try to get him out in the woods or to a park as often as we can. Adventure Cycling (of which I am a member), sent me this in their bike bits. My dog would need an extra large sized basket. As you can see, I don't think he is very excited about this idea.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Circus City Metric Century

Alex and I rode the Circus City Metric Century in Peru, IN today. It was a beautiful day, with temps starting in the low 50's and steadily climbing into the low 70's by the time we finished the ride. Alex rode the 34 mile route and I rode the 64 mile route.

All distances follow the Nickel Plate Trail, a rail-trail. Here's near the northern terminus (for now) in Peru. Eventually it will be extended north to Rochester.

In many places on the trail, trees have grown up on both sides, shielding trail users from wind and sun. I could have used just a little more sun at this early point in the ride - it was chilly in the woods.

Toward the southern end of the trail, the trail opens up and endless vistas of farmland return.

After completing 17 miles, the route returns to the roads. Once we got to the 37 mile point, we toured around the Mississinewa Reservoir. The reservoir is one of three reservoirs constructed in the 1960's by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the upper Wabash Valley to help alleviate flooding downstream. This is what I rode through for the next 18 miles. It was really peaceful.

Toward the end of the ride we rode across the dam - this is the primary outlet for the lake.

On the other side of the dam, I saw these turkey vultures cruising low over the new-mown grass. That dam grass! Must have been a dead rabbit or some other critter in there. Well, you know what they say, "If you can't soar with the eagles, maybe you can still fly with the buzzards". That pretty much sums up my outlook on life.

It was a great ride. Someday when the Nickel Plate Trail is completed to Rochester, we'd like to come over to ride the whole 40 mile route.

Happy riding!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Perfect Weather

Today was one of those sunshine with no clouds, dry-air, beautiful days that 6 weeks ago I thought would never arrive. We've had a lot of really decent weather over the past month, but we've had even more windy, rainy weather. So today was especially sweet.

This morning was chilly, starting off in the low 40's. By the time I got to work, my toes were plenty cold. On the way home, however, the weather was magnificent. It never ceases to amaze me how much sunny, warm weather improves my mood and my outlook on things. Cycling home from work seemed effortless, and for a while, everything was right with the world. Even the cars passing me seemed to share this feeling, most giving me a wider berth than they normally do.

Alex and I are heading down to Peru, IN tomorrow for the Circus City Metric Century. I'm looking forward to doing this ride since it travels along the old Wabash and Erie Canal for a while, and follows the Nickel Plate Railroad for quite a ways. Peru and the surrounding area is very historic, and was a very important place for the Miami tribe up to 1845, when most of the last of the Miami's were loaded on a canal boat and shipped to Oklahoma.

I hope all of you are able to get out and ride somewhere nice this weekend.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Glarus Adventure

Alex and I went northwest this past weekend to ride the trails around New Glarus, WI with her sister and brother-in-law. We rode parts of the Sugar River Trail and the Badger State Park Trail.

We parked the car at the Chalet Landhaus in New Glarus on Friday morning and never moved it again until we left on Sunday. The Sugar River Trail literally runs to the back door of the Chalet. Pretty cool.

The gang thought this picture of me was particularly flattering.

There was a 1200 foot tunnel on the Badger Trail.

The tunnel curves in the middle, so it is not possible to see the other end of the tunnel when you first enter.

The darkness quickly swallowed my meager light. I'm not fond of being underground, so 1200 feet was long enough. I hear there is a 3/4 mile tunnel on the Elroy-Sparta trail north of hear, so this is a good trainer for me. Will need to hit that tunnel on a good day.

North of the tunnel is the village of Belleville, a very neat, small town.
North of Belleville near the end of the trail is the eclectic Paoli. This place had excellent food. I ate my first ostrich burger here. Mrs. Ruegsegger served our food on regular dinner plates and silverware, which required nothing to be thrown away, except for our napkins. Many businesses along our route seemed environmentally conscious, which was a welcome sight.

Back in New Glarus, we had to stop by the New Glarus Brewery. This mash tun was built and installed in a brewery in Germany. The New Glarus Brewery owners bought these tuns from the brewery in Germany which was about to be torn down and shipped them to the US. Talk about recycling!

In New Glarus, we ate supper both Friday and Saturday nights at Tofflers. They serve great food at a great price.

Of course, we had to sample the local beverage. Prost!