Archive for August, 2008

August Rocks!

See for yourself.

Finding myself in the midst of some time off I have been getting after some chores.  We have some shelves that have never been finished and I needed our jigsaw for this task, which was damaged in the construction of Sebastian’s Play Palace.  I don’t know much about electricianry but I know how to fix two cut wires, with wire nuts!

They kinda look like bunny ears, no?  I used some electrical tape too, just for structural integrity.  Cody was impressed, she asked me if it worked and I said yep!  She asked if it was safe and I said yep!  Then I said, well I think so…  Anyways, our shelving looks much better now.

There was another Amana ride yesterday which I was happy to attend.  Two weeks out from my previous poor showing and I was riding much better I think, at least it was much more comfortable.  There were the usual Hi-Jinx, with yet another derailler getting munched, a couple of crashes (not me this time) some flat tires and many pitchers of Millstream’s finest imbibed.  It was tough getting started again for the return trip but I pushed through the pain and had a respectable ride in, getting dropped ultimately but feeling a whole lot better about my Chequamegon fitness than I did two weeks ago.  Rest time now, then a few more spunky rides to put the final polish on my form.  Now I have to get the bike totally and completely ready.

Cody is going to come with to check out the north Wisconsin ambiance and I am excited about that, we are planning to spend a night (or two) in Madison, that town we love so much, and are probably going to rent a car.  Which is a bummer but is okay, too.  It will be a great trip!

Around home, in addition to saw repair and shelf denouement there has been much quality time spent with the kitties, check out what Ritchie can do.

From tree to shed in a single bound!

Hear him roar!

Surveying his fiefdom!

I have seen him get down before (he jumps) but I missed it this time, which I am okay with as it makes me nervous like a parent.

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The Usual Gravel Mayhem

re-enactment! not a derailler destroyed on last nights ride! They were much nicer!

This week the college green A rides switched to gravel.  Tuesday was a fairly tame romp around but Thursday saw a different sort of energy.  It had rained proper in the morning and things were wet.  Cochran showed up with some slick skinnies on his cross bike and I laughed that he would be fine after we got through the B roads.  The general consesus seemed to be that we would not be riding any B roads so he would be fine for the whole ride.  8 miles later, as we were 10 feet into a B road and finding it very muddy indeed most folks headed for the ditch and the safety of the deep grass.  This was a short stretch, not more than a mile and probably less than 3/4 but by the end of it we were muddy, bruised, scratched, tired, wet footed and four bikes were missing rear deraillers.  It was a good time.  Two of the bikes with no deraillers were single speeds so no harm done and indeed they were both rolling onward to the next gravel hysteria while the rest of us were pulling crap out of our drivetrains or calling for evac at the side of the road.  Later there was a flat tire, the Thrillah dropped his shades and had to go back for them and Cochran lost a water bottle which I promptly ran over and exploded.  Plus it was a really pretty night out there.

Long live the gravel season!

pic from the times

In other news, this Sunday will mark the 9 year anniversary of my completion of my AT thru hike and to commemorate this occasion the New York Times did an article about the trail and the people currently on it and around it.  Of course I am not on it or around it currently so they left me out of the article entirely but I still enjoyed reading it and it triggered some fine memories.

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Four Rides and A Roof

The roof is done.  Long live the roof.  Here are four ride reports and more photos from our tour.

After a week of touring and then a week of hard labor with no riding to speak of I went on that most classic of Iowa City Classics last saturday, the Amana ride, prepared for the worst.  This ride is a no holds barred slugfest with a heaping pile of B roads and, right in the middle, some fine beer from the Millstream Brewery.  We met at the Hopson house and enjoyed strong little coffees and rolled.  I knew at the first B road I was in trouble and this feeling was confirmed miles later when the group split and I found myself unable to pull through with the single speeders.  Finally dropped they waited for me and I got dropped again.  Lots of beers then and the ride back in was about the same but for I had some sort of drunken B road crash in addition to getting dropped.  Long, demoralizing day.  I was able to connect with Brian the painter out in North Liberty so I could cry on his shoulder as we rode in.  Thanks for being there Brian!

Sunday there was a road ride with many of the same folks and I went for that as well.  A much more subdued affair and I was happy to roll a slightly modified cheese house loop.  It still felt hard to me, maybe I need rest?  Maybe I stink?  Maybe I need to ride more?  Chequamegon looms and I am confused!

Tuesday night I went on the College Green A ride and was delighted to see not one but two tandems there and a big fast group, too.  The West Liberty loop got the call and I was not too excited about it as it is a fairly challenging loop.  Unless you sit in a lot…  So we were rolling south out of town and going pretty fast and people were in their big rings and then we turned east and I rotated for a while before going to hide.  I did some more work before we got to West Liberty and then on the section north I took all my pulls and surprise surprise, I actually had some good sensations!  On the Herbert Hoover Highway heading back west I still felt okay and did some more work and as we crossed I80 I got dropped.  Not a stellar ride by any means but I was happy to have (finally) had some of them good sensations.

Thursday night I again hit the A ride and the group was much smaller and the weather was wet.  Not raining really, but wet roads and it misted some and after a while nobody knew where the water was coming from but it was all over us.  We did the Edens loop and it was a nice steady and strong rotation I thought.  I even attacked once!  Tee-hee, it was weak but I can’t remember the last time I attacked on the ride.  So I took most of my pulls and after four rides I am feeling like I might be able to put in a good ride at Chequamegon in three weeks.  As long as no important pieces fall off my bike this time.

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Flat Roofing

I have a new job now, I am a roofer!  I have done a few roofs over the years and I have learned a few things about the trade.  Like, I don’t want to be a roofer!  The money is great, sure, but the work is brutally hard.  I am scraped and sore after four days and we have a least two days to go before we are done.  I remember from my youth my dad saying “all flat roofs leak” and I have little experience to say yay or nay on that but I do know that the roof we are doing is not flat.  Anywhere.  Not even close.  It is steeper than any roof I have ever done and we are using harnesses like rock climbers and putting up toe holds and stuff.

So that is what I have been up to for work.  Riding has been slow since we returned from our tour, first because I wanted to take a bit of time off to recuperate and second because I have been so beat up from roofing I have not felt like riding.  I did hit the tues night A ride and was about to take my first pull after we started rotating and as I shifted to the appropriate gear my rear wheel slid around and I thought, “hmmm….  I don’t generally put out enough power to slide the rear wheel until I get outta the saddle” so I took a quick check of my equipment and saw that my rear tire was flat.  Just like that my group ride was over.  Major bummmer.  I drifted off the back and told everyone good bye and that I had everything I needed and have a great ride, etc.  Then I stopped and saw that I had not yet put the pump back on my bike after the tour.  Super major bummer.  I rode the flat in.  This is my second group ride flat this year.  I have been averaging zero for the last couple of years so I think my Conti Gatorskins may be getting past their flat stopping prime.

For those of you who like feel good human interest style olympian stories, check this one out.  It is my favorite ever!

Back to our tour, completed one week ago.  We stopped at a couple of shops along the way.  One was unexpected and we had been directed to it by the bike path folk of the previous post.  It was a nice and cozy country style mom & pop shop called Side By Side Cycle.

It had a side by side sociable style trike parked out front and the folks running the

place were great.  They hooked us up with some maps (Illinois bike maps are awesome, they have the state broken up into 5 sectors and they show lots of smaller roads.  The Iowa map for cyclists is poor by comparison) and we looked around the shop.  They had an old Huffy tandem and lots of used bikes for sale and a candy counter, too!

A nice and small friendly place, we were glad to have been there, and we saw evidence in the window that they had been here, too.

The other shop we visited was my old hometown shop in Antioch.  It was an all out schwinn dealer back when that meant something.  It has always been a strange shop to visit, hard to explain.  They had an interesting looking snow bike with some crazy tank tread drive system.  Bizarre…

And some amazing NOS anodized components and quill Girvin flex-stems in the display case as well as some huge bmx trophies.  If I had the cash and the cargo capacity to drag some of that stuff back here I could hook the Bridgestone up!  Maybe someday, I imagine it will still be there when I am ready.

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Shots From the Road

We saw lots of stuff on our tour, here is a closed road that got all undercut by them floods that happened before.

We made it across but we walked the bikes.  Saw the locals using fourwheelers to get through!

Here is the 10 spot we found on the side of Hwy 64!  After losing 30 at the DK200 this year I feel the world still owes me twenty so I will be keeping my eyes open.

While enjoying a lovely break and lunch in Preston, IA in their nice city park we noticed big clouds coming and heard some thunder rumbling too so we moved into the shelter and ker-plam! A big windy cold rainy storm hit.

After waiting out the rains we rolled on to Illinois and a more substantial second lunch in Savanna.

After lunch it was off to the aforementioned hellish bluffs and some mighty fine gravel, too.  We think we rode gravel each day of our tour, and some days, like this one, quite a few miles of it.

The next day, as we were making the first push out of Rockford, IL on big loud and fast car infested state highway 173 we stumbled upon a bike path unknown to us and these fine folks sorted out directions for us, the path went all the way over to the county line, and passed a bike shop to boot!

This was typical scenery for a fair bit of our time out there

This is a lunch stop in Hebron, IL.  Most stops involved map perusal.

Another path led us from Hebron all the way into Wisconsin and we could have followed it all the way up to Madison.

But we had a retirement party to get to, so we kept on and after four good days of riding we were there to help celebrate.  Hooray mom!

I will post more pictures from the return ride and some additional stuff about the two bike shops we visited along the way soon.  In news since we have been home, I switched the Salsa to its SS setup and switched the tires, too, which shaved much weight from the machine.  We have been busy getting the house cleaned up and organized from the camp gear explosion that occured when we got home.  And we have been working, too.  In fact, I have to go to work now, so I will catch up with you all later

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On The Home Again!

Tour over, now we rest. It was a good time, and lots of hard work, of course. It is hilly out there. Sometimes it was hot, sometimes humid, sometimes both. Moustache bars are not for me. A nice man in a truck gave us the finger just for being there. We found 10 bucks on the side of the road. My mom is retired and we watched it happen! Seven days of riding all told, three states explored and a good time it was. Happy to be home, here are the places we stayed.

First night. Pavillion at the Legion in Oxford Jct, IA. We left after work and this is as far as we made it but it was nice and quiet out there and we had a roof over our heads. No shower but there was water and a fine poopin’ hut.

Night two. Emerald Acres or some such thing. A private campground we stumbled upon and as it was much closer than the one we were angling toward and it had a reported pool and we had ridden over the Mississippi River and its hellish bluffs we were happy to call it a day early. Trouble was, this campground sucked! One of the pricier places we stayed, no pool, crummy showers, bug infested and we got to listen to the pleasant sounds of a man yelling at his spouse for a good long while. Such was our displeasure we skeedaddled in the early a.m. and rode to the next town to cook breakfast.

Third night. Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, IL. Our best complete camp so far, but still not enough. Sure it was economical and had a fine shower facility. But, a Friday night in a State Park in a large town leads to being surrounded by car camping culture and all its pleasures including but not limited too: screaming kids, large smoky grills and fires, cars and cars and more cars moving here and there and barking dogs, too! Yes, it was a rough night in that little slice of the american dream.

Nights four and five. My folks house! We slept on their screened porch and while the weather was quite inviting, the neighbors partying around a fire and blowing up firecrackers was less so to the tired bike tourists. Great view, nice shower and the fine company of the family.

Night six. Monroe, WI at the Green County Fairgrounds. There was fresh weather updates that big storms might roll through that night so we went for super building shelter. It was secure and smelled like farm animals. No shower but we did not need one as my folks dropped us off here. Nice and quiet and inexpensive.

The seventh night. Rustic Barn Camp in Keiler, WI. A big RV park which is not the jams in general but it was a beautiful site and had the best showers of the trip. Decently priced and oh so nice! Bonus points for having a camp kitty, Mouser!

Last night. Doug’s house in Anamosa, IA. We were heading for another state park but it was a long day, we were at a bar drinking beers and eating and a quick call to Doug brought him to our rescue! His house was just a couple of blocks away and with a shower and spare bed it was a treat to be there. Very quiet and it was good to see Doug and his super good looking doggie, Tupelo!

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