Saturday, October 6, 2012

 Today was our club's Jersey Ride - where everyone wears their club jersey.  Unfortunately, temps in the 30's had most of us wearing jackets over our jerseys.  I was able to lay on enough layers and pull my jersey on over the top.  My weight loss from the last two years (two years already?) still permitted a comfortable jersey fit over several layers.

 Here's Kathy giving some pre-ride instructions for the official jersey photo.
Just a few miles from the start our group was splintered by a train.  Not too many times I get to yell, "train left!".

Once the group re-formed, we rode on to the 37 mile split.  I did the 51 miler, and took this photo shortly after the split.  I'll bet there were at least 60 people who were on this ride at the start and a little more than half took the 37 mile route.

Although this is one of the hillier routes in the area, we still had miles and miles of flat, open riding.  We had a head wind for the first half of the ride - winds 15 - 20 mph.  I did my share of pulling at the front, but only for a mile at a time.

We rode along the Wabash River from Huntington to Andrews, and shortly after passing through Andrews, we climbed up out of the Wabash floodplain up on to the Rim.  The Rim is a geologic feature that runs for maybe 100 miles or so from Roanoke all the way to Lafayette on the north side of the river.  It's a big hill, and it separated the group.  Fortunately I was able to stay near the front.

5 miles after the hill we turned back to the east and had a ten mile run back to the start with a mighty tail wind.  My training this year, starting last winter, rando rides in the spring, and fast riding in the summer culminated in the fastest 10 self-propelled miles of my life.  We flew at 23 mph for many miles.  Big Carl and Steve cranked up the pace again with about 7 miles left.  As bodies started dropping, I looked at my speedo - 28 mph!  Another hill just 3 miles from the end, and Carl, Steve, and Hugh slowly pulled away from me.  I was able to catch Hugh right at the end, but Carl and Steve churned a might pace back to the start ahead of everyone.

We had brats and baked beans waiting for us at the end, cooked by Patrick, our club president.  Riding together on a brisk, fall day, then getting to share a meal at the end - a great day.  I'm glad I made the decision two years ago, on October 1 to start my weight loss.  After carrying 260+ lbs for many years, spending the last year at 200 lb or less has been like going back in time for me.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Door County Weekend

We headed up to Door Co, Wisconsin again for Labor Day weekend with Alex's sister, Brooke, and her husband, Anders.  We've been coming here for several years, but we've never had two back-to-back picture perfect days like we did this year.

Part of the allure of Door Co is to get away for the weekend with family, and to ride some low traffic roads in a beautiful area.  We rode both Saturday and Sunday.  Here are a few photos of our journey.

Here's Bailey's Harbor, at the public pier, where fishermen and scuba divers dock.  The low snowfall this past winter and the drought across much of the Lake Michigan watershed has lowered the water in the lake by at least a foot and a half, maybe more.

We took Bluff Rd out of Bailey's Harbor, and quickly found the bluff.  After much huffing and puffing, we crested the hill.  Here's the crew in recovery mode.

This was typical both Saturday and Sunday - Labor Day weekend.  Highways 42 & 57 which travel the perimeter of the peninsula are both heavily traveled, two-lane, non-bike-friendly roads.  The interior of the peninsula are covered with paved county roads like this.  Great for leisurely riding.  They'd be great for hard riding also, but we're on vacation!

Near Jacksonport is Cave County Park.  A limestone bluff runs right into the water.  Waves slap up against the mini-caves, producing a deep "whomp".

Here's an old schoolhouse in great condition.  It's no longer a school, but I don't know what it's used for.

At the end of the day we walked down the hill from where we stayed.

The best chocolate malt I've found comes from this store.

Ice cream, bench on Eagle Harbor, ready for sunset.

And there it is.  A perfect day.

We devised a mission to ride north of Sister's Bay to Seaquist Orchard store for cherry jam.  Door County is known far and wide for its tart cherries.  I'm not sure, but these cherry trees may belong to the Seaquist folks.  These trees stretched for a mile along this road, and stretched back maybe about 1/2 mile.  I can't believe the amount of work necessary to maintain these trees and pick the cherries.  I'm glad they do it, though, because cherry pie is my favorite!  Keeping to our tradition, we bought a fresh cherry pie and devoured it.  It never stood a chance!

This farmstead was located amongst the cherry trees. This is as close as I felt comfortable to photographing the barn - it is really cool. 

Here's to everyone out there who works hard to make our country great!  Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Perspective

For the past few months I've been in a blog-funk because I've lost my camera - no idea where it is, and I haven't seen it for several months.  I have an iPhone, but have any of you tried to take a photo with an iPhone while you're riding?  It's pretty dangerous, and I won't endanger any of my cycling mates or myself by trying to take photos while I'm riding.  I can't figure out how to take good photos with the phone, anyway, even when I'm not riding.

However, my daughter, Georgia, left behind her camera for me to use when she headed back to college.  Now I can photographically record cycling-related stuff again on the roll because her camera is small and very easy and relatively safe to operate with one hand.  So now I have a revitalized perspective and am excited to have full photo capabilities again.


This past Sunday we headed over to Convoy, OH, passing by the wind farm on the IN-OH state line.  Heading east from Ft. Wayne the land lays flat as a table, which usually is a benefit to me.  Hills are not my friend.  We've been in the hills west and north of town the past two weekends, so I was happy to be on the flat again.


 The group rides have gotten noticeably faster over the past month, and it's tough for me to hang on the full distance now when I try to ride near the front.  On each of the past two club rides I got to the two-thirds way point and dropped back to draft, only to fall off the back.   

  I've committed myself to riding near the front as long as I can on each ride to help make up for all the drafting I've benefited from over the past several years.  Hugh suggested maybe I don't have to try to make up for all that drafting on each ride.

Not a bad idea.  I hope I can remember that on the next ride.

On Sunday, I fell off the back, but I was able to work my way back up to these two guys, Greg (in the red) and Chuck (in the yellow).  These two guys were early members of the club back in the 70's when it was formed.  They're both still very active in the club and don't miss very many rides.


I've welcomed another bike into the family - this 70's or early 80's Ross women's bike from our neighbor across the street.   He sold his house and put this out on the curb.  I couldn't resist taking it in and giving it some love and attention.  It was his mother's bike from a long time ago. 

The tires are badly weather-checked.  I think they may be the original tires?  Or at least really, really old as the sidewalls are peeling off of the tire casing.

Mechanically the bike is in excellent condition.  I'm going to clean it up good and put a new saddle and bar tape on it, then let Alex see how she likes it.  We're thinking of giving it to her Little Sister, but I'm going to try to find a smaller bike for her. I think this bike will be too big for her.

 I'm thinking this might be an entry-level road bike for Alex.  She fits really well on the bike, and I'm hoping she might feel more comfortable riding this bike 30 or 40 miles (or more?!?).  Her Cannondale Hybrid bike is terribly heavy, and it is tiring for her to ride for more than 30 miles. 

We'll see.

This weekend we make our annual Labor Day Weekend pilgrimage to Door County, Wisco for our fall bike wing-ding.  I love riding the back roads of the Door, and can't wait to get a chocolate malt from Wilson's General Store.


In other news, I ran my first 5k race in over 20 years last Saturday.  I didn't come even close to a personal best, but that's not what I'm after.  I've been running regularly with Alex since early April, and I am overjoyed to simply run comfortably again.  I never thought I would feel the wind in my hair again.

Actually, I can't, because I don't really have any hair left.  But if I did, it would feel great. 

How I miss the long hair days of my youth.

Happy riding!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Job is Done

One of my goals this summer was to ride near the front of our club rides so I can help pull. The last few years I rode near the back, just trying to hold on. This year, though, I've been able ride near the front.

Yesterday I helped pull for 48 miles, either directly into the wind, or into a crossing headwind. Once we got to the 48 mile mark, we turned for home, and had a tailwind for the last 17 miles. The group took off, while I decided to mosey back at a more leisurely pace.

I was happy to ride back alone since I was able to help pull. However, Tim and Julie slowed up a bit, and we had an enjoyable ride back.

On this morning's club ride I realized I'm lucky to have a great group of folks with which to ride.

Happy riding!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back From Vacation

We spent all of last week up on Lake Vermilion in northern MN fishing. The lake was very warm, and the fish were scattered.

I did get some riding in, and four of us rode on the Mesabi Trail. I was even talked into going down into the Soudan Mine - an abandoned iron mine which is now a MN state park. We were crammed into a cage and dropped down a shaft 3/4 mile into the earth. I'll never do that again.

Those old boys literally worked their fingers to the bone so their descendants could live better lives than they did.

I'm glad to be home, but I miss the nort' woods.

Anaway, happy riding, eh?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I never did get to the bike shop in Nevada City on Friday, but I did get in a great hike over in Empire Mine State Park, which was only a couple miles from the hotel.  The miners (mostly Cornish) dug hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold in just over 100 years.  They dug 367 miles of tunnels beneath Grass Valley.  Pretty incredible!

Anyway, after getting home last night late, I was able to pull myself out of bed in time to get to today's club ride.  I'm glad I made it - we had a great ride over to Hicksville, OH, then back through Spencerville and then back down to New Haven where we started.

In a chance encounter, the stars aligned and we were able to catch a draft up the hill on Notestine Road behind this Amish buggy.  While buggies generally travel between 11 and 14 mph, with the stout headwind we had today, nobody wanted to venture around this protective shield.  Unfortunately, we turned south after a half mile, away from protection.

I hope you folks out there are gettting in some quality rides.

Happy riding!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Holiday, Sort Of...

I'm sitting in my motel room in Grass Valley, CA right now, thinking about how lucky I am to be able to be here for work. While I miss my family, I'm enjoying the chance to see a part of the country I've never seen before. To be able to go on to farms and ranches out here is awesome.

I'll be heading back on Saturday, but I'll have a couple hours to myself on Friday. I'm plotting a strategy to get over to the bike shop in Nevada City to rent a bike.

My phone camera decided not to work, so I can't take any photos. This place out here is magnificent!

Today I saw my first-ever tricolored blackbird, western meadowlark, and glossy ibis. In addition, I got to dig in oxisol (really old soil) next to a rice field in the central valley. I could see the coast range far in the distance.

Best of all I am able to meet many of my work peers here in California, Nevada, and Arizona. I can't wait to bring Alex out here - I know she'd love it out here.

Anyway, Happy riding!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dry, But Pleasant

Record heat and no rain since early April make for tough conditions. Very similar to the summer of 1988.

We had 4 days last week of 100+ degree weather - a first since records were kept in Ft. Wayne.

I overheated on the club ride on Saturday, but recovered for a great ride in cooler temps on Sunday.

Stay cool out there!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

 I guess it has been a while since I've posted anything on here.  Life has a funny way of diverting my attention.  I think the fact that I may be in the midst of a mid-life crisis doesn't help either.

Fortunately for my physical and mental health, I've been doing more biking this year than at any point in my life.  My early season, high-mileage rides have given me a tremendous base.  I've been running regularly since April, so my leg strength and post-ride recoveries are shorter than in the past.  And I've been doing as many club rides as I can, because I like riding with people more than riding by myself.


I had an interesting experience at the 600K brevet on June 2.  After 19 hours of pedaling up steep, steep hills in eastern Ohio, I decided to take a break from my randonneuring plans for a while.  At exactly midnight, I abandoned the ride and checked into a hotel in Coshocton.  Sitting on the hotel bed eating a foot-long turkey sub and swilling a half-gallon of chocolate milk, I knew then and there that was the best decision I've made in a long time.

I dearly love the feeling I get out on the bike for long periods of time, in marginal weather.  At least as much as the next guy.  But I was vastly unprepared for the big hills that never seemed to end.  Since that moment in the hotel room, I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  Will I ride more randonneur rides?  Absolutely!  But I don't feel compelled to do any long rides over 300K.  Maybe this winter I'll get the rando blues again and try for a whole series next year.  Maybe not.

Meanwhile, I intend to ride club rides and continue to build cardiovascular strength, as well as leg and back strength to help make me a better biker.


 Alex bought me this cactus last fall when we moved into our new house.  This is it's very first bloom.  Since I took this photo, it's produced 22 more blooms.  Each blossom lasts for only a day.

For the past 7 weeks, Alex has been doing a "Couch to 5K" running program.  She's never run before, but she's completed all of the runs on the schedule, with no real problems.  Her first 5K is July 21st, and I'm excited for her.  Unfortunately, I'll be coming back from California that day, so I won't be able to see her run.


I broke down and splurged for a generator hub, headlamp, and taillight back in May.  It came in handy for the 600K.  Too bad it didn't get me to the end.


 This Seculight taillight is really bright.  It has a stand light (it'll stay on when the generator isn't turning) that lasts for several minutes. 

Here's the rando-rig set for action.  Man, I really love riding this bike.  Just the right size.  And it's tight and responsive, yet its 26 year-old chrome-moly frame makes a smooth ride.  I have de-fendered it for club rides.

I've ridden this bike on several 200K rides this spring.  I want to switch the pedals to an SPD-SL type, but nobody makes those pedals with French threads.  I've googled this, and a site I found said the solution is to re-tap the cranks with a 9/16 - 20 die!  I've tried lots of things, but I'm not going to ruin this crankset.  It's way too nice, and the toe clips aren't so bad after all.  I'd like to put fenders on this bike, but there isn't enough clearance from the top of the front wheel to the underside of the fork crown.  Maybe I can find a fork that'll fit this bike (and my budget) so I can install fenders.


Lately I've been thinking seriously about buying a brand new bike.  I'd like to be able to keep up with the lead riders, who have feather-light carbon bikes.  Just about everyone I ride with here in town has a new (or not-so-old) bike.  

Fortunately, I received my Bicycle Quarterly, and Jan's simple, but eloquent message hit home.  Jan says that, for the most part, bikes are bikes.  While weight is an important factor, it is not the most important.  The most important factor is the power the rider can generate on the bike.  So, I don't need a new bike.  There's nothing wrong with the bikes I have! 

Just the 200lb motor that sits on the bike.  And I'm working at getting more power.

I hope all you folks out there in the blogosphere are well.  I will try to be a little more regular at posting.  Thanks Ron and Jon for checking with me.

Happy biking!

Monday, April 30, 2012

 Being a second-year randonneur, a toddler, if you will, every ride is a learning experience for me.  I was honored to ride with the Tri-State Randonneur Fleche Team for the Ohio 2012 Fleche Ride.  Each of the other four members are seasoned randonneurs, so I was a little nervous at the start about how I would ride, especially toward the end, after we'd been on the road for many, many miles.

Makato re-seating his tire - 5 miles after the start.  Loveland, Ohio

 Article 1 of the Rules for the Fleches-USA from the Randonneurs USA website explain the basic idea of a fleche ride the best: "The Flèches-USA are 24-hour randonnées held in various regions of the United States during the spring. The traditional event date is Easter weekend, but it may be held from one week before Easter until seven weeks after. The Flèches-USA are administered by Randonneurs USA (RUSA) and its Regional Brevet Administrators (RBA). These rides are patterned after the Flèche Vélocio held by the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France".

 I wanted to do the Ohio Fleche Ride last year, but didn't think I could handle it.  Toshi, the organizer and inspiration for our team this year, suggested it is best to ride at least a 400k ride (which I did last year) to get the feeling of what a fleche ride is like.

For a fleche team to be successful, at least 3 team members need to reach the final control.  Our team started with 5 - Toshi and Tim (Ohio), Makato (Michigan), and Ken and Bill (Indiana).  Unfortunately, Makato's rear derailleur hanger broke only 6 miles from the start, and he had to abandon right away.  Our Tri-State team became a Bi-State team just like that.

Tim had trouble with his bike as well - the return spring on his front derailleur slipped off.  After looking at it for some time, we determined the small, cast aluminum tab that holds the spring had broken off.  We could think of no way to fix it, so Tim, being an Ancien, improvised by loosening the cable tension on the derailleur and moving it so his chain could run on the middle chainring.   These randonneurs are not going to let mechanical problems get in the way of doing a long ride.  Middle chainring or no, Tim is a serious biker who can hammer away for hours at a time into a headwind.  Which is what he did for us a good bit of the way.


Toshi organized our team, mapped the route, and vetted the cue sheet much the way a surgeon approaches a patient.  Very detailed and capable, Toshi led us through the day and night on smooth, scenic roads with low traffic.  Countless times during the day and night, Toshi surged ahead to take over the lead to give Tim a rest, as we battle the headwind virtually all 238 miles of the way.  I think we had a tailwind for the last 10 miles, but that was it.

Toshi, our fearless leader

Ken rode a recumbent.  He quit riding his upright bike a few years ago, and started randonnerring 3 years ago.  But he is no neophyte.  He completed an ACP Super Randonneur series last year and he completed Paris-Brest-Paris - the mother-of-them-all ride for randonneurs.


Grey Trek performed so well, I hate to jinx myself for the next ride.  Since last year, I've been particular about keeping my chain clean and lubed.  With rain forecast for the ride on Saturday, I put an additional dousing of lube on the chain just before we left.  I may have over-done it, though, because the chain slipped off the big chainring when I shifted up and slipped off the small chainring when I shifted down.  I had the limit screws adjusted to perfection before the ride, so the only thing different was the extra lube.  I don't know if that would cause that trouble or not.  I'll look at it tomorrow after work.

Grey Trek, Aberdeen, Ohio

We had two periods of rain - once here at Aberdeen, OH - a very light shower that lasted for maybe 5 minutes.  Further down the road, as we headed north toward Columbus, we had a thundershower that rained on us for another 5 minutes or so. 

Bridge to Kentucky at Aberdeen, OH

While the weather wasn't great - it wasn't all that bad.  Down along the Ohio River, Tim's bike thermometer recorded 63 degrees.
Riding along US 52, heading toward Portsmouth

A rare sight - Toshi at the back

Another control - Shawnee Grocery at Stout, OH
 We stopped at Bob Evans in Portsmouth, OH, for supper.  If you've never been to Bob's for supper, you'll not find too much heart-healthy food.  But it is good-tasting, and for a randonneur, if we can get calories that taste good, we'll go for them.  I had the two-piece chicken dinner with broccoli and baked potato.  I could only eat one piece of chicken (each piece was a breast and the back!).  That was the first baked potato I'd eaten in at least a year.
It all looks to to Toshi and Ken at Bob Evans in Portsmouth
 After supper, we headed north along the route of the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) for Columbus.  We caught the tail end of a thundershower, but for almost an hour after nightfall were treated to an awesome lightening display to the east.  Like I said earlier, each rando ride for me is a new experience.  Riding in the dark scares me but at the same time is really cool.  It's hard to describe, really.  But riding with these guys through the night was very enjoyable. 

Midnight - somewhere between Chillecothe and Circleville, OH

At our control in Circleville, Toshi mentioned his team last year slept for a few minutes in the laundromat across the road.  Everybody thought that sounded like a good idea, so we tried to get some shut-eye.  I slept for maybe 5 minutes.   
Tim found the folding table to be quite comfy

As we arrived at our next-to-last control, the Waffle House in Canal Winchester, we were greeted by a large throng of drunken young people and several police cars.  Normally, I wouldn't stop at a place with all of that activity, nor would my teammates.  But being hungry and tired, we rode our bikes right through the group, past the police officers, who were busy talking to two men.  It turns out the one younger guy punched the other guy's wife in the face, so the cavalier husband punched the instigator's girl friend in the face.  And they say chivalry is dead!

I ate a chicken sandwich, drank a cup of decaf coffee, and rested my eyes for a while.  At 5am sharp, we were back on the bikes.  We arrived at Bob (the Ohio Registered Brevet Administrator) and Patti's house around 6:30 am where we were greeted warmly and fed scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and Patti's homemade bread.  Plus, we each got to take a shower.

Ken, Bill, Tim, Toski - Tri-State Randonneurs - 2012 Ohio Fleche Ride

There was one other team from Ohio - Tim, Tim, and Jon.  Yes, the names are correct.  They started their ride in Danville, IL, and rode across Indiana all the way to Columbus.  They went over 400k for their fleche.  Impressive, when you think about it.  But considering the weather they encountered - thunderstorms, downpours, snow showers, sleet, and east-northeast wind the entire way - this was a feat of Olympic proportion.  They had gotten to Bob and Patti's a little ahead of us, and they were whipped. 

My first fleche ride was quite an experience.  I had moments when I was quite miserable - my thighs burned a good bit of the way, and the constant wind in my ears put me in a foul mood.  But my teammates were riding in the same conditions, probably feeling bad like me.  But they never showed it, and each was very generous at sharing the lead, pulling me through the wind.  It was an honor for me to ride with Ken, Tim, and Toshi. 

One thing about randonneuring I've learned, almost from the start, is the pain of a long ride goes away quickly, but the good memories remain and solid friendships are born. 

Oh, and the endorphin rush is awesome!

Happy riding!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pit Stop

Circleville Laundramat, 1:00 am. Cat nap.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dinner at Bob's

We made it to Portsmouth - had a 70 mile ride along the Ohio River. Persistent headwind much of the way so far. Great teammates make the riding easier.

On Flèche Today

Ohio 2012 Flèche underway. Will post a few photos when I have time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


There are realizations that come only with experience. No matter what the discipline, the knowledge gained by reading about something is always different than what one learns through actually participating.

Take, for example, my fascination with reading about randonneuring over the past few years. I love everything about the sport: the bikes, the adventure, the scenery. I used to read the rider's stories on the RUSA website and think that if I had been the author, I would have had a heck of an experience.

Yesterday's Ohio 300K Brevet gave me plenty of time to come to several realizations. These nuggets of wisdom are only hinted at in randonneur's stories, but I've not found them in print. So, if you are thinking you might like to try a brevet, read on.

Nugget #1 - The weather on a brevet is never ideal. Despite the forecast, the weather will never be what you hope. Usually it is much colder than predicted, and windier. If there is a 20% chance of rain, plan on it being an all-day down pour.

Nugget #2 - Regional Brevet Administrators (RBA's) always down play how hilly the route actually is. "It's really not that hilly - except for a few hills around Mohican State Park". If an RBA even mentions there may be a hill on the course, plan on panting for several hours as you watch your speedometer stick at 4.5 mph.

Nugget #3 - I may be optimistic here, but count on 10% of each route to be located on smooth roads. The other 90% of the route will shake bolts out of your bike. Be sure to use plenty of Lok-tite.

Nugget #4 - Make peace with the phrase, "What the Hell am I doing here?" You'll ask yourself that many times, like when you're climbing a big hill (especially the one near Mohican State Park), or when your turn a corner and feel how the cold, wind-swept rain stings your face. Unless you quit the ride, you'll just have to accept you'll be asking that often.

Nugget #5 - The other people you're riding with feel as miserable as you do, even though they don't show it. So don't ruin a good thing by complaining. By working together, you can buoy one another and make miserable circumstances seem much better.

Nugget #6 - As miserable as you might feel, the pain seems to go away when you see the final control. An overwhelming sense of satisfaction settles in, and very shortly you are looking ahead to your next long ride.

Well, that's what I've learned so far. I could say a bit about bike condition and working on your bike before a brevet (never, ever wait until just before a ride to try to fix something), but I'll save that for later.

Yesterday's ride was a game changer for me. I've done many brevets, but I think I became a randonneur last night when I finished the ride.

Happy riding!

PS Steve A, I'm going to use the Tricross for the 600K ride. My Treks are no match for the roads and hills of eastern Ohio.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


60% chance of rain for Saturday's ride prompted fend-o-rization of Grey Trek. Riding in the rain without fenders sucks. Just sayin'.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Early Spring Hiatus

A lot's happened the last month, most of it's been good. Between family stuff, work, and yard work, there hasn't been any time to put together a quality post. Not that any of my posts are quality, but I do like to be able to take a few hours to put together an idea and match with some photos.

Shortly after my last post, the weather changed from a mild but cloudy, crappy winter directly into summer. We had 9 straight days of record high temps.

You might imagine what that might do to a simple mid-westerner. Bike! And mow. For the first time in my life, I mowed grass in March - March 19th was the first, then March 24th, then March 29th. The damn grass won't stop growing. Actually, it has slowed substantially as we are now entering mild drought conditions. I'm not a fan of grass mowing or lawn care in general, but now that we live in a subdivision, I'm getting the hairy eyeball from really nice people who are wondering where all those dandelion seeds my lawn is producing will go. I've even heard there is a bet whose lawn on our cul-de-sac will be covered next spring with the yellow blooms (which I find quite lovely).

Commuting weather has been fantastic. Here's the Tricross commuter. This bike is so much more than a commuter, but this is the way I like it.

Much has changed with the old grey Trek 500. It's finally sporting the Velo Orange compact crank (48 - 34) I bought last year, but stuck too far out to the east for the front derailleur to engage the large chainring. My bike buddy Luis had a narrow Shimano bottom bracket cartridge that he ordered online, but it doesn't fit his bike. But it did fit mine perfectly.

Note the new pump location - I mounted it on the seat stay on the old blue Trek and almost had a major catastrophe on the Nashville Brevet when the nozzle came loose and ended up between the seat stay and spokes. Can't happen in this location.

The warm weather has allowed me to get some serious mileage in, which has me in much better condition than I was this time last year. I've ridden several Saturday Show 'n Go rides with the club even. I go into serious oxygen debt on every ride. This past Saturday, I hung in with the group for almost a whole hour. I found myself staring blankly at the ground, gasping for every bit of oxygen I could suck in on the same big hill I was dropped on 3 weeks ago. Chuck held back with me, Luis, and Jeff to pull us back into the main pack. We had to beg him to leave us alone, but not without a fight. I thought I was going to have to offer him money to leave us be. He finally ditched us when the group ahead grew small in the distance.

We are forming a Saturday and Sunday touring group which will ride a more moderate pace than we've ridden the past several years. I like to go really fast, but my really fast is still pretty slow. I'll have to work to keep up with the moderate group, but I'm looking forward to riding with those folks. I suspect it will be the same folks I wind up riding with who get spit out the back of the mad peloton the touring group has become over the past few years.

I'm digging the late sundowns now after the time change. It is staying light until after 8 pm, so I can get a few really nice rides in after work each week.

The Ohio Randonneurs' series is underway, and I rode the 200k a week ago last Saturday. I was able to ride the whole way with people, and through 80 miles we had a decent-sized pack of riders, maybe 8 or 9. Paul and Rich, below, and I kept going at the 80 mile mark when the rest of the pack wanted to stop. By the way, between these two guys, they've completed 8 Paris-Brest-Paris's! What's even more amazing, is Paul, on the right, is one of only 3 people to have completed P-B-P 7 times! I really fortunate to have the chance to ride with him and to be able to learn so much on this ride, and several of the rides last year.

I think this is the control at the 91 mile mark. We had caught up to the faster people, but they left shortly after we came in.

There is a large group of people who I can't even hope of keeping up with, but at the 114 mile mark, we passed a Wendy's and noted the large number of randonneur bikes outside. At the finish, we realized it was the large fast group. And Paul, Rich, and I had beat them to the end!

Randonneuring is not about beating the next guy or gal. We each do our best on each ride. But I am happy they had a hunger for beef!

This Saturday is the 300K, and two weeks after that is the Fleche ride. This will be my first, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Bon route!

PS - thanks to you folks who sent me emails asking if I'm OK. You know who you are - I appreciate your concern.