Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Lights

Last Sunday evening, the bike club and many of the bike commuting community in Ft Wayne area met downtown for the Christmas lights ride. It was a 16 mile ride that weaved through downtown, then out to Franke Park for the Festival of Lights drive. Unfortunately, my camera battery again died before we got out there. The cold seems to quickly drain what little life remains in it.

It was fun taking to the streets, being a part of a large, courteous mass of bikers.

This is the Santa that has adorned the side of the old Fort Wayne National Bank (now PNC) building since it was built in 1970. Before that, it was in storage for many years in a barn north of town.

Jump ahead to today, Christmas day. This is the much-anticipated trainer Santa brought me.

And this is the Big Oak Bikes Fitness Center. It's located right next door to the Big Oak Bike Shop.

I also got a new jersey. I tested it today in 43 degree weather. Very warm for this time of year, and sunny, too. The jersey worked great, with a long-sleeved undershirt and a light windvest on top.

I hope all of you had a great and peaceful Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What to do

It's officially that time of year. The time when I find myself desperately searching for something to do. The short days seem to trigger a desire to do stuff besides watch tv. Not that I have anything against tv, and I watch it often, but when I sit in front of the tube lately I think about all that conditioning from a spring, summer, and fall of riding leaking away.

I don't have a bike trainer, but I did put in a request to Santa for an inexpensive one. I had a trainer in my triathlon days, 25 years ago, and I've almost forgotten the misery those things induce.

I brought in a box off the porch the other day from Bike Nashbar, but it had Alex's name on it. What on earth is she buying now?

For exercise, I've got disc golf on Saturdays, which is great. And I still bike commute occasionally to my new office but it takes maybe 15 minutes one-way, if I ride slowly. But during the evenings when it gets dark, I get rammy when we're done with supper and it's only 6:30, but feels like 10:30pm. This morning, I picked up this brochure at the hardware store, and it re-kindled my desire to make something.

The last time I carved, I ended up with this:

That was back in my duck-hunting days. I was going to carve a whole raft of ducks, but that's the only one I completed. It took a little longer to carve than I thought it would (by a factor of 10).

Anyway, we'll see what develops. It's all a mystery to me.

Happy riding!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Things I Got Today

We're getting the first significant snow of the season tonight: 4" - 8" of heavy, wet snow. Maybe not so great, but it's making everything look pretty.

Ah, what better to do on a cold, snowy night than read about bikes in the latest BQ?

Stay warm and dry.

Happy riding!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Big Oak Bike Shop

This morning, I spent a little time in the workshop, gluing up a laundry cabinet door that came unglued. I picked up handlebar tape yesterday for the tricross, and screwed up some courage and decided to try wrapping it on.

I've had this tape on for some time, and it's come loose a few times. Each time I re-wrap from the brake hoods back toward the middle, a little tighter. Wrapping handlebar tape makes me nervous - trying to evenly space the tape so I have enough, but not space too far so there are gaps, keeping proper tension so it doesn't separate, and on, and on. I was a physical and emotional mess the last time I tried this.

But yesterday I was passing my LBS, and was magnetically drawn in. Without trying to look like a dithering idiot, I purchased some bar tape after the third different sales person came up to me to ask me if I needed help. I instinctively nabbed some bar tape, even though I hadn't planned to buy anything.

Fortunately, I grabbed the relatively cheap Bontrager tape. The Specialized Phat Wrap that I like, is up to $30! Some of you may be able to justify this expense because it lasts longer, provides superior cushioning, blah, blah, blah. But $30 is too much for me.

Earlier this summer, Jon told me the key to putting bar tape on is to keep it uniformly tight as it's being wrapped. Hugh instructed me on cutting and taping the end in one of his blog posts. As much as I seem to screw up perfectly good projects, one half of the bar doesn't look too bad, eh?

And the other half looks pretty good, too. It looks even better if you back up from the screen a couple yards, then squint.

Two cats in a corner. Nothing related to cycling, but how could I resist taking a photo of these brothers in fur?

Last weekend, Alex and I went up to Chain O' Lakes State Park for a long walk. Most of the leaves are completely gone from the trees, and, once again, I am frantically searching for a SARATS entry. This Euonymous was lovely, but it is a small shrub, so it's hardly a tree worthy of entering.

And this bug-eaten black oak leaf (one of my kin) caught my eye also.

A bitternut hickory bud. A dendrologist's treat, the only tree in these parts which has sulfur yellow buds.

I took many pictures of several different lakes on the walk, but this is the photo I liked the best. I forget which lake this is, maybe the largest of the Finster Lakes?

I haven't ridden to work for a while. But very soon, like 1 week from tomorrow, I'll have no excuse to not ride. I've been reassigned within my agency to the area office, which is 2.5 miles from our new home. I'll post more about that new commute as it unfolds. I took a trial run to my new office this afternoon. There are a couple of very busy intersections which have me concerned. But I'll figure out a strategy.

Happy riding!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Phone

I replaced my old, decrepit cell phone with a basic iPhone. I gotta admit, it's really cool. I posted this from my iPhone.

Rode with the club today, a zesty 45 miler. This was the last organized ride of the year. From now until April, just show-and-go rides.

I'm trying to figure out how to post a photo. I totally crammed the Element with bush trimmings and tree branches yesterday. Swept and vacuumed and the Element is looking good again.

Happy riding!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

1st Club Ride in a While

It's been a month or so since I rode my last club ride, what with the move and all. But today I rode with the club on a 45 miler. And it was sweet to be out applying rubber to the road again with other people.

All of the packing, then moving, then unpacking has been consuming most of my free time in the evenings and on the weekends, so that didn't leave too much time for biking. But that's all behind us now, so there's miles of biking ahead for Big Oak.

Our ride today left from Huntertown and headed up to Waterloo, and then back.

The riders were all faster than I was today, so this was a common view for me today. Kathy, just up ahead on the right, broke several ribs this summer in a bike crash. She's back to riding almost full speed again. I rode the last 10 miles or so with Bernie, just ahead on the left. His legs weren't feeling the best today, either, and we had many short, but steep hills, plus a pretty strong southwest wind.

After we got back to Huntertown, I gave Bernie a lift home. I picked up this used Honda Element, mainly so I could haul bikes around easily. And it also fits in our garage (my truck didn't). It also gets much better gas mileage.

Bernie's bike at his home. I thought you folks would like to look at it. It's a Rivendell, but I don't know the model. It might be a Saluki. It was made by Joe Stark, when he was still building frames for Rivendell. He's got Campy derailleurs, Campy rear hub, and a TA crank. A beaut to steel-frame junkies like me. Nobody else in the club rides a Rivendell. Bernie also has a beautiful early 90's Eddie Merckx, with chromed fork ends and chromed seat and chain stays.

I'm a little bummed the nights are getting dark so early now. Once the time changes in two weeks, there will be almost no light left when I get home from work. Got to think of a project for the winter.

Hope you folks are able to get out and ride.

Happy riding!

Monday, October 17, 2011


OK, I like to think of myself as being reasonably savvy with computers and stuff. But lately I've become painfully aware of my true ignorance. We've moved a couple weeks ago, and I packed my camera cord which connects to the computer (its umbilicus) in an as yet undiscovered box. So I've been accumulating photos on the camera, with no way to download to the computer.

Or so I thought.

Then I saw my nephew stick an SD card in his computer, and instantly had an "Ah Hah!" moment. That's what that slot is on the side of my computer! Bill, oops, Big Oak, you idiot! I guess it's not for cheese.

Anyway, here are a few of the more memorable photos I've taken which documents my simple, simple life.

I took this load of bikes to ArtWerks, a bike shop here in town which sells only used bikes. I told Art to make me an offer, and I immediately accepted. I have no room for these bikes, and I hated to let them go, but I know Art will find a good, loving home for them. I sold the truck, too, although not to Art. And I got a fair sum for it, although I had to haggle for a bit.

Here's the new bike shop. In addition to these two, Alex's bike is in front of the car and out of view here, and I've got 3 bikes crammed in our 7' X 8' garden shed, along with a lawnmower, garden tiller, a stack of huge flower pots, and a bunch of garden and yard tools. I feel sorry for the poor sucker who next opens that shed door.

It's been over twenty years since I froze off my herd of cacti, so Alex decided it was time I get another batch. We found this beauty at our local Meijer store. I'm not sure what kind it is yet, but I'll look it up one of these days.

This is called a Coral Cactus, although I don't believe it is a cactus at all, but maybe a Euphorbia of some type? I'll have to look this up also.
Here's of photo of the beast a few weeks ago on the new sun porch. He had a large tumor removed from his leg, and he needed the cone to keep from licking and tugging at the stitches.

Business end of the beast. He had the cone on for 9 days, and he actually liked it. I believe he was able to smell much better with the cone, and he could certainly hear better, but only if he was aimed in the direction of the sound. I'm thinking about taking the cone down the road to the high school, to see if the coach would buy it to listen in on what plays the opposing teams are calling.

This past weekend, we went up to Alex's sister's house, where we rode some of the bike trails north of Chicago. This heron was just off the trail, posing just for me.

Alex, on her perch.

A slough along the Des Plaines River.

I've learned something the past month or so. Never pack up and move without taking a bunch of time off work. Better yet - hire somebody to do the packing and moving. Even better - don't move.

I am very happy to be settled into our new house, and to be back on the bike, although I've got some evening meetings which will cut into biking for the rest of this week.

Happy riding!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yehuda Moon Strip Has Ended

Yehuda Moon, a bicycling-inspired comic strip created by Rick Smith, has ended. I've read the strip, off and on for a couple years, but became a subscriber this spring, after I rode a 200K brevet with Rick.

Rick worked in the insurance industry, but left his job to stay at home with his two young children, while his wife returned to work. While he was at home, he started the strip. He's had some success with the strip over the past few years, but when I rode with him this spring, he was concerned, but hopeful, that he was close enough to earning enough with the strip and website that he could help support his family.

I can't find on Rick's website why he has decided to end the strip, perhaps he has decided to return to work (work other than the strip). I'll miss Yehuda's exploits, and Rick's dedication to helping make bicycling a safer transportation mode for all.

Good Luck Rick, and Thanks for all the Laughs.

Happy riding to you, Yehuda.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shaved Marbles

Well, we've completed our move. Man, moving and trying to work are pretty tough, especially when Alex and I tried to maintain our regular work schedules. Pack in the evenings, work in the day. On move day, a week ago last Friday, we ended up throwing stuff in boxes at 5 in the morning. Fortunately, we have understanding friends and family who helped us move stuff we've both accumulated through 50 years of life. Now, we have most of the boxes unpacked and the stuff put away. Come home from work, unpack boxes.

Our two cats and mixed-up hound dog made the move well and the four-legged family actually likes the new house very much. We did shave Marbles, our old long-haired cat, because he isn't able to clean himself as well as he used to. He prances around like a Capuchin monkey now. I had no idea he is as small as he is. Since the weather's cooled dramatically, he hangs close to us now to gather any excess body heat we give off.

My bike commute is now less than 15 miles each way, which means I can now get to work a half-hour sooner. I miss the old route though.

I'll be posting more bike-related stuff from now on. This move has been hanging over our heads for a long time, and I'm glad we finally have it complete.

Thanks, Ron, for checking on us. We are doing very well.

Happy riding!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Budding Friendship

Last year Alex participated in a 4th-grade reading project at a local school, sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters. At the end of the school year, she became a full-time Big Sister to her friend, Saraya. Last night, we took Saraya down to the Rivergreenway for a ride. She used Georgia's old bike, which fit her perfectly. Saraya had a great time riding, and I had a great time watching Alex and Saraya interact.

It was a great night to get out, and it was fun introducing Saraya to the Rivergreenway.

Happy riding!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Great Morning to Ride

We spent the day back at the alma mater yesterday, delivering our daughter, Georgia, for the start of her sophomore year. Across the street from her dorm, is where the marching band practices each day. I really don't know if that is the world's largest drum, but it's labelled that. It makes an appearance at each and every home game. And it's pretty loud.

But not as loud as the train horn on the Boilermaker Express. They've mounted a modern freight train horn on this thing, and when it goes off this close, it makes your ears ring. I had first-hand experience yesterday.

Here's Georgia, with her new roommate, Gabby.

Here's Hugh's hand, the one who whacked his face and hand in last week's crash. His eye is black and blue, and he broke a bone in his hand, but that didn't keep him off the bike for this morning's club ride. It didn't slow him down, either.

I haven't shown my ears much on this blog. Here's my left ear - it's my favorite.

We rode northwest of town, in lake country today. It was a spirited ride, with lots of hills and turns, so this is it for photos. I had to ride like crazy to hang on.

It was a great morning to be on the bike.

Happy riding!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another Wreck

This has been a season of accidents for the 3 Rivers Velo Sports club weekend touring rides. Steve P had an accident early in the season and broke his collar bone, a month ago Kathy B wrecked, broke her collar bone and 4 ribs, and today, Hugh wrecked and whacked his cheek bone on a curb in Butler, IN.

We had just stopped at about the 40 mile mark on the 60 miler today. After pulling out of the c-store, the group of 9 stretched out, single file on US 6 leaving Butler. There was enough traffic that we didn't hear folks at the back yelling at us - Patrick, Sean, and I made it 1/2 mile out of town not knowing what had happened. But as we turned south on CR 63, we noticed there was nobody behind us. Walt came riding up a few moments later, saying someone had a flat.

I immediately thought it might be Phil, and headed back to help. Phil had a flat earlier in the ride, and used his spare tube. He didn't have a patch kit, but I did. Since he had 650B tires, nobody else would have a spare tube to help him out. When I got back to town, Steve P and Hugh were working on his flat tire. Hugh had hit a large rock with his rear tire, threw him off balance, and he tumbled to the ground. I noticed his right cheek started to swell pretty quickly, and asked him about it. He thinks he hit it on the ground, but he couldn't really remember falling. Phil said he whacked his cheek on the curb. Walt headed back to the c-store and returned with a bag of ice, which Hugh used on his cheek. I wasn't sure he should continue, but he wanted to get back on the ground. His right had was hurting, but he could use his fingers and ride with it.

We kept an eye on him, and after 4 miles, or so, Steve, Patrick and Hugh took off at a 19mph pace, heading into the wind. They wanted to get Hugh back quicker. But that was too quick of a pace for me, so after 5 or 6 miles of this, Luis and I drifted back and rode back at a more reasonable pace. The group was all back at Leo High School, when Luis and I got back. I waved so long to everyone and rode on home.

We've had some bad accidents this year, and I hope we don't have anymore. I wasn't along on either ride when Steve and Kathy went down. Although Hugh didn't appear to be hurt as bad as they were, it was serious anyway. Just goes to show you how quickly an accident can happen.

Be careful out there!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stress Release

I haven't been on the bike too much lately due to an impending change in our housing situation. It seems the county is going to take our house to widen the road, which means we'll need to move. We've employed the assistance of a lawyer, and for the past several months we've been in negotiations. Well, negotiations are over, papers will be signed Monday, and all will be over, except for the crying.

Alex and I did get out last Tuesday night on the Rivergreenway for a nice, little ride. These warm summer nights have been very nice, although the daytime has been exceptionally hot. I can't imagine how you folks from Missouri to Texas have been handling the extreme heat you've seen. As hot as it's been here, we are nowhere near as hot as you folks.

This morning, I went on the club ride. Michael, of Ear to The Breeze, came up to ride with the club and me today. It felt good to get out and cruise the flatlands east and north of Fort Wayne. We left New Haven, headed up to Hicksville, OH, then over to Spencerville and back to New Haven. That's Micheal, below, on the left. Shortly after this photo was taken, Steve, on the right, broke a spoke in his front wheel. Greg got his wheel trued up enough for him to head back home. Steve's the Touring Director, and so he hated to head back, but Greg, a former bike mechanic, would have none of that. His radially-laced wheel, with aero spokes would not last for the rest of the ride (according to Greg).

Except when we were near the Maumee and St. Joe Rivers, these roads are straight and flat. That meant the group rode fast. And it was a welcome pain to be riding hard again after going a few weeks without pushing myself. Bike therapy. Great stress release.

After several months of house-searching, we found a home and made an offer on it. Yesterday the offer was accepted!

The new house is about 4 miles from here, on the other side of the St. Joe River. So I'll still have my same roads to ride, and the new road to work is a straight 14 mile shot.

Happy riding!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation Tidbits

It seems like at the beginning of each of every one of my vacations, I have grand plans to do all kinds of things during the week that I really want to do. This vacation, I wanted to do two or three posts, but with all of the stuff we did, I never found the time to get that done.

In addition, this trip was bittersweet, for Alex's parents, who were born and raised in the Adirondacks, and who retired to just east of here in Vermont, moved to Indianapolis, where Alex has two sisters. This may be the last time we visit here, at least for a while.

Anyway, I did get a little biking in during the week, and I took a few photos. I thought I had Blogger photo-uploading all figured out, but as I uploaded my photos, they are not in the order I had planned. But I think I've got them pretty well sorted out now, so if you've got some time to kill (i.e. nothing else better to do), we'll get started.

We stayed at a cabin on Glen Lake, about halfway between Glens Falls and Lake George, NY. We rented this cabin, instead of our usual rental on Friends Lake because it is easier to get into and out of for Alex's parents, and because it has air conditioning. Last year's 100F temps cooked us in that little sun-drenched cabin.

Here's the road heading out toward Highway 9, a bumper-to-bumper two lane road that more or less parallels the Hudson River.

Between Glens Falls and Lake George, is this sweet little trail which roughly follows an old rail corridor. In several places, the trail leaves the former rail bed to climb over a large hill, or to follow beneath overhead power lines. The trail is wide, recently paved with asphalt, and is very well marked with stop signs and hazards (like this anti-car device).
Blue Trek needed a rest along the trail, and he (she?) chose this spot. I must confess I'm becoming quite attached to this old Blue Trek. It is such a comfortable bike to ride and it never complains. I feel the need to give this bike a name, which is unusual. I've not named any of my other bikes, but this one is different.

The city of Glens Falls is at the south end of this trail. The trail follows roads around the Glens Falls Country Club, but jumps back on the old rail line south of the golf course. This building is near the old feeder canal trail in central Glens Falls. I thought it looked cool, and is a good advertizement for the product the plant produces.

The old feeder canal. This canal carried water to the main canal which connected Lake Champlain with the Hudson River. This early 1800's transportation system enabled the US to become the great country it is. And a lot of people literally worked their guts out building it.

Blue Trek likes this spot, too.

A history sign. I can't get enough of them.

Glens Falls is embracing this trail. Many people were out walking and biking on the trail when I rode it on July 17th. This business looks like my kind of place, but it was closed at 9:00am.

Around the side, along the trail, they've got a welcoming little park-like area for the ice cream stand. It was closed also.

The trail was clearly marked in Glens Falls at each road intersection.

Glens Falls reminds me of mid-sized midwestern towns with some nice, affluent areas, and some run down areas, and homeless folk wondering around downtown. Along the path, with folks from all walks of life, I found this to be a very pleasant place to be. And I'm sure that the other people using this trail found this a very pleasant place to be. Funny how a simple thing like a trail built just for walking or biking can lift the spirits of a community.

Dang, a couple photos out of order. This is the feeder canal trail again. It's packed limestone screenings which makes a very nice surface. I saw some bikers with 23's or 25's who had no problems on this trail. When these trails are wet, however, they get my bike dirty.

At a trail head near the start of the asphalt-paved trail. Info sign with map. And history sign. I love the history signs.

A better view of the trailhead.

At the other end of the trail is Lake George. Coming down a heavily-wooded path, the view opens suddenly to this. Spectacular!

A tour boat on Lake George. This is a big lake.

I rode around the east side of Lake George to find a vista to get more water photos, but the road was heavily wooded, and I didn't find any good spots. But I did climb up Lockhart Mountain (my first mountain on a bike) and found this sign. I thought about riding down this road to the golf course, but thought it might be restricted. My father-in-law later told me this is a beautiful course which looks out over the lake.

Back at the cabin, Georgia and her boyfriend, James, shucking corn for supper.
Anders and I fished for several days. He is a very good bass fisherman, and taught me some good tricks for catching bass. We caught a bunch of bass every day. This is one of the larger ones he caught.

All-in-all it was a very nice vacation. We were able to get Alex's parents safely to their new home in Indy, we caught gobs of fish (all of which were returned, relatively unharmed, to the waters of Glen Lake), and I got to ride a little bit. We never did get out to ride as a group, but Brooke (Alex's sister), Anders, and Alex and I are all set for our Door County, Wisconsin trip on Labor Day. We'll be doing nothing but biking on that trip.

Thanks for hanging in there to get to the end of this post.

Happy riding!