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!


Steve A said...

The generator looks intriguing.

Jon said...


First: Glad to see you back!

Second: Retapping the cranks is a fairly routine thing. i have retapped a number of old French cranks, through the years, with no problem. If you aren't comfortable with doing it, yourself, any machine shop will be able to do it (as should a good bike shop, but I don't know if you have one in your area with the expertise - that kind of skill is becoming rare in the industry, I'm afraid).

Keep riding!

limom said...

Buy another bike.
You know you want to.

Pondero said...

It's about time we heard from you again.

If I spent less time obsessing about bikes and gear, and rode the bike more, I'd probably be better able to go the distance you do. You seem to have the balance about right to me.

twofeetofftheasphalt said...

That type of generator is one that I have thought about getting for the winter commute, but then I would only use it in the a.m. as I come home during daylight. Something to ponder. Glad to have your back.

rlove2bike said...

Good luck to Alex on the run.

I have enjoyed your reports on the brevets.

Congrats on the 200lb motor!!

I have relatives that live north of Indy and I understand it is a good year for growing cactus. I know it is a bummer for them.

Thanks for the post!!

Big Oak said...

Steve & Twofeet, the generator is really great. I just flip the switch and the lights come on. Battery-powered lights are fine also, and are probably more cost effective if you use rechargeable batteries. But I have light at my fingertips now!

Big Oak said...

Jon, I have a friend who works in a machine shop. I'll talk to him - thanks for the suggestion.

Big Oak said...

limom - ha! I have a devil on my one shoulder talking in my ear and he sounds just like you!

Big Oak said...

Pondero, my balance is probably like everyone else's: a swinging pendulum with occasional visits from extreme to the other. I, too, obsess about bike stuff. But my cheapness usually wins. I have to continually remind myself that the point is to ride. However, riding on a really nice, new bike would be really sweet!

Big Oak said...

Rlove - yes, I know exactly how they feel!

Biker Bob said...

I thought you were going to do the LE 600K in October.

Apertome said...

You've been doing an incredible amount of riding. A couple years ago with RAIN and whatnot, I was doing longer and longer rides and then felt the need to back off because riding was just about all I was doing. Even though it pales in comparison to the riding you've done. But I get the need to seek balance, definitely, and I like your statement about swinging back and forth between extremes. I definitely do that, and I'm riding far too little at the moment.

Big Oak said...

BikerBob, I was thinking about it, but I'm going to shelve that idea for this year. Perhaps next year. I'm hoping some serious strength training this winter will help me in the longer rides.

Apertome, I agree - riding all the time is good, because I like riding, but it's bad, because I have a family, and friends, a job, a home, etc. I, too, was riding all the time. I hope to stay in shape so I can continue to do long rides. Trying to find a balance means discovering what is too much.