This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Finally ridin' the ridiculous winds..at least for the most part.

      There was an unusual confluence of events last week.  I had a "Warmshowers" guest stop by Wednesday on his trip from Toronto to California.  After an evening of swapping stories and helping him plan his route, he took off first thing in the morning.
         The weather looked promising although unseasonably cool. I was planning to ride down to the lake shore for the weekend.  We both joked about the possibility of our paths crossing since he was taking a slow northern route around South Haven and down, while I was going to roll into Warren Dunes south of St. Joe.  Odds were slim, even though he was taking it easy on an injured leg, 
I assumed he'd be south of me by Saturday.
     I needed to get the Hunq out for some exercise.  So I took an extra day off and advantage of the barren fields of the Michigan spring time.  I was pedaling my south west last weekend and Friday the winds were notheasterly.   Yeehah, I was sailing along on Friday after noon for a luxurious 30 mile ride to the Russ State Forest for the night.  Motivating 70 pounds will never get you over WOOHOO speed, even down wind, but "Yeehah" is more fun than against it.
    Satuday was a little bit different.  The wind had shifted. It came from the NNW and was very gusty and cold.  I was pedaling predominately south so it helped until I had a 5 mile segment due west and the wind took it's toll.  While I was at Nikki's Diner in Berrien Springs I pondered a couple of things, the remaining 10-15 miles to the Lakeshore would be right dead into the west wind and the lakeshore would likely be 15-20 degrees colder that night.  Then, Scott pedaled past!  I flagged him down and invited him in to have a laugh over running into each other.  He was checking out the campground nearby and talking himself out of the trip to the lake.  
     Not much of a story there, I knew the campground and we made up each other's mind to share a campsite for the night.  It was a better choice, drinks, trading stories around a campfire and not freezing all night was a good option.  It was a good time all around although we didn't have the energy left to party with 6 guys nearby who were playing hookie from their families for the weekend. The wind died down, it wasn't nearly as cold and I got a lot better rest than Friday night.
     Sunday was a moving day.  Scott headed off towards Michigan City.  I wanted one long day behind me and it added up to around 65 miles. The gusty 20 mph winds pushed me over the country side.  There were a  few torturous miles I pushed right against the wall of wind in my granny gear, barely beating walking speed.   The other 55 or so miles were down wind and the day made for a very pleasant  metric century, first of the year.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

It sounds cool anyway...and other stuff.

            This has some potential.  The Swift Campout is an attempt to organize a world wide day of bike camping.  I realize they are promoting their own products by doing this, but it sounds as if it could be fun and an excuse for people to try an S240 on the summer solstice.
 Sign up, it's free, they even send you free e-mails about their products which you will need when you actually go.  I haven't tried their gear, but I have heard good things about it and this camp out thing is so crazy it just might lure some unsuspecting cyclists to enjoy the longest day of the year.
     In less exciting but more practical news.   Levi''s is dipping their armpits into bike clothing.  I heard about the new commuter jacket and happened onto a sale at JC Penney so I took the bait.
It's made to resemble their denim jackets but is a lighter and very water resistant fabric.  Unlike the authentic denim, it has a lightweight layer of insulation and nylon liner .
Those two features alone make it a "cool weather, possibility of rain" jacket to wear around town.
But wait!  There's  more! A hidden hood is zipped into the collar,
which is likewise waterproof and (surprise!) it fits over a helmet.

       It has a longer waist that the typical denim jacket, and is sufficiently long even for long waisted people like me, but it does not have a  longer tail like most cycling specific stuff and sadly does not have a rear pocket.  Even though it's not as bike specific as, say, Chrome jackets,  it's definitely going to become a staple for around town riding. it looks good with jeans and there are stories about a more comfortable Levi's Commuter pants  for cycling, but I haven't seen 'em yet.

Monday, April 10, 2017

S240

     A  frustrating week of torrential rain finally came to a close and provided a weekend of incomparable sunshine and intoxicating temperatures.  It was time for a little bike ride.  I had wanted to use the entire spring break for a camping trip, but the train kept me from doing it locally and I did not have enough time for a multi-modal trip I'd considered.  That will all have to fit in at another time.  I loaded up the Hunq in  about 30 minutes and set off for the lake shore.   It's a fifty mile afternoon ride to get to the state park and the wind was a little helpful since I took a southern approach.     My goal was to ride a section of rail trail I hadn't been on so I took a westward exit from home on the Red Arrow Highway to the trail head.  The Van Buren Trail state park runs from Hartford north west just short of Lake Michigan south of Sough Haven.  I knew it wasn't paved and expected a crushed limestone or packed gravel trail.

I was a bit disappointed to find it overrun with grass.  
It's really an abandoned two track running between farms,
except for this exquisite piece of real estate which was in hot competition with the city dump.
        I rode along, lucky to top off 8 MPH on the mushy overgrown mess.  It appeared there was no decent surface for riding and I bailed onto the county roads to meander to the State Park.  After leaving the lame excuse for an MUP (dump some snow on it and run back and forth on a snowmobile, but forget anything else) it was a leisurely trip to the state park where the campground was sparsely inhabited.  
    After setting up camp, I made a run to the grocery store for provisions and kicked back with a couple of beers at the campfire for the evening.   A few of the sparse neighbors stopped by, tentatively,  but made for some convivial company after they got over the absence of a car.
     Being the early spring, I had brought a heavier sleeping bag which I did not need.  Despite the wind, the temps stayed in the 60's throughout the night.  I slept like the dead.   I woke up late, got in no hurry breaking camp after breakfast, and finally left the state park in time for lunch.   After a great Reuben sandwich at the Phoenix Inn in South Haven, I headed out for the Kal-Haven trail.    There's not much to say about the afternoon going back.  The wind was greater and more gusty than Saturday so I stuck to the trail.  The wind was crossing from the South and the roads ultimately lead up greater grades directly into it, so I toughed out the predictable 1_1.5% grade and cross wind on the trail.  It was still a test of patience but a pleasant day and good overnight shake down trip to start the season.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Preventing a cycling specific allergy

     My predictably disappointing experiment with converting to tubeless tires left me with little confidence in bicycle marketing, but also a bottle of Stan's sealant.  The reviews and videos I have seen have been extremely positive when it comes to flat prevention.  It's an important part of cycling because as you grow ahh..."more mature" in the sport you will  develop sport specific allergies.  Flat tires make me break out in embarrassing obscenities.  If a couple ounces of this obnoxious looking chemical can prevent these outbreaks then it's worth the experiment.
       The procedure is rather straight forward.  Using an inner tube mounted in the tire, remove the valve stem.  That is the little threaded knob sticking out of the big threaded thing.  Usually unscrewing it with  needle nose pliers is easy.  Stan's does sell a special tool, nice of them, but I've never needed anything more than pliers.  The only risk is ruining the threads on the little knobby top which means I might not be able to use the plastic cap I normally forget.  So there's really no risk.
       Next a special proprietary syringe is threaded onto the remaining threaded post.  The plastic line from the syringe needs to be clamped shut (use vise grips) in order to fill the syringe with the right amount of sealant.  If it's not clamped, fluid will immediately drain into the tube and the measurement won't be accurate.                        
                                             
         After filling the syringe with the prescribed amount of milky stuff, release the clamp and use the plunger to force all the stuff into the tube.   Once that's done rotate the tire so the valve is not at the bottom of rotation, wipe off any excess stuff and screw the valve stem back in place.  I usually need to give the valve stem a little tweak with some pliers to make sure it's seated.  I did 5 bikes in a little over 30 minutes.  Now if this stuff works I will probably not know until I wear out a tire.  I suppose any small puncture will be sealed at the tube and I won't see the stuff come out as shown in those dramatic You Tube videos.  When I replace a tire I expect to see little white smears on the tube and inner casing, but we'll just have to wait and see...I'm so excited.