Short Bike Ride Tuesday Evening

Coolant Leak This Morning


The green ‘98 was leaking coolant at the coolant reservoir’s top hose; turned out to be a leaky nipple on the plastic reservoir.  I snapped a close up so I could get a better look at the problem.  Since I was over at Pixilie, the Pot County seat, I was able to stop by the Volvo garage and get a new reservoir bottle.  Estimated life-span of those things:  about six years.



Round-trip just a little under 13 miles.  A little after five this evening I rode out to the local industrial park and Little League playing fields, then around to the street where the UPS hub is located as well as a children’s science museum and small observatory.  That’s where I was. 

Garage Sale Camera and Other Items

This morning after spending an hour or so with about ten guys from our congregation, I drove home (because I’d overslept and didn’t have time to ride my bike to the restaurant) stopping at a flea market, a pawn shop, and three garage/yard sales.  The flea market and pawn shop didn’t have anything I wanted.  At one garage sale, I bought a dinosaur book, a dinosaur toy, a robot toy (Eve from the Wally film); at another garage sale, I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ7 digital camera, and the guy kind of threw in a two-man tent.

The Lumix uses SD cards, and we’ve got a number of them.  Caution-Lady’s Nikon Coolpix L18 has turned out to be a real disappointment – ineffective flash, grainy images.  I wonder whether our son has dropped it at some time or other.  The camera’s so bad that I’d like to take a No. 3 wood to it.  The Lumix came with a spare battery, a charger, original software, original (ha – crazy small but true) 16 mb SD card, box, and so forth.  When I got it home, I tried a 4 gb SD card, but it wouldn’t work, so I think 2 gb’s about the limit for that camera.  It’s an annoyance, but the camera dates from about 2006 and is otherwise, at 6 megapixels, a far superior camera to the 8 megapixel Nikon it replaces.


I took several pictures inside the house to test the flash feature and found it better than the Nikon’s.  Also, the camera’s shutter speed is more adjustable and faster than the other digital cameras I’ve owned.  Finally, this is the first digital camera I’ve had since a late 1990’s Olympus 1.3 megapixel DL-Something capable of producing a TIFF image.  The image above is one of those experiments with the flash; it’s something I drew with oil pastels on the back of a Lucky’s Market paper grocery bag in maybe 1980 or ‘81.  That car’s a 1969 Toyota Corona and one of those surfboards is 9’6” Jacobs longboard with a red stripe lengthwise to either the left or right of the stringer – I can’t remember now which it was.

Saturday 13 July–Shared Oatmeal, Church, Bicycle Drivetrain Comparison


On Saturday, my son got up early and shared my bowl of oatmeal – two spoons, one bowl – something he has not done since he was just about four.  I usually, and since childhood, dislike sharing, but I didn’t mind a bit; happy he remembered – for about two years, this was our every-morning routine.


Our congregation recently voted to relocate our place of meeting to a former “washateria" – that’s Southern for Laundromat – building near the city’s first large commercial development, now somewhat run-down but in use.  The building we moved in to yesterday is situated on a side-street beside the shopping center and behind an Jetson’s-looking bank building.  It has a great many more square feet than our storefront up the hill and across the tracks, better bathroom facilities, three large rooms that can be used for meetings or classes, a large grassy yard out back that can be used to let the kids run around in or for picnics and cookouts.  Because the building housed two failed restaurants, there is a large kitchen area.  Because the building formerly housed a coin-op laundry, it has a lot of electrical outlets located about chest high around the exterior walls.

Yesterday morning, a number of us met at the old location in a run-down stripmall and loaded up all the few things that we used for our meetings there into a couple of pickup trucks and one box trailer, some cars, and drove with them all about a mile off to the “new” building.  Today we plan to hold our first meeting in the new location.  Still a little rough, but we’ll work on it.

Later:  Because it was or had just been raining when I was ready to go to the meeting, I took the ‘98 and on the way stopped by the old location and stuck a sign in the window saying the congregation has moved and giving directions to the “new” building.  Our first meeting there went pretty well and was well attended.  This seems to be a positive step for us.

Bicycle Drivetrain Comparison

Looking over blog posts here, I realize I have had the Miyata 610 for a little over a year, having purchased it from Old Bikes Belong at Louisville in June of 2012.  I rode the Miyata a lot during our recent Indiana vacation.  The bike’s drivetrain makes a constant sprockety or clicking sound even when the gear has been properly selected and the chain is running securely on front and rear ring/sprocket.  Additionally, the Suntour power shifters make ratcheting sounding and feeling clicks when they are used.  Michael O’Neil of Greenway 500 said the Suntour shifters are famous for their “96 clicks.”

Friday afternoon I drove to a couple of stores looking for 700c inner-tube with Presta valve and returned to the house with it.  I’d already taken off the  Razesa’s front wheel and before removing the tire and tube in order effect repair, I reinflated the tire to determine whether I could locate a leak by hissing or a tire puncture, then set it aside and went for a ride an easy about 15 mile ride on the Miyata.  Next morning I checked and the tire was still inflated, so I put the wheel back on the Razesa.  Later in the day, I pumped up both tires to about 115 psi, which is what they’re rated, and took a 14 mile ride in a different direction from the one I took Friday.

The thing I notice immediately was the Shimano 600 components (rear derailleur, crankset with Biopace rings) and Shimano Sora front derailleur seemed completely silent compared to the Miyata’s Suntour group.  Sure, the Razesa’s components are a hodgepodge of 1985 and later parts and the Miyata’s all original dating from 1981, but what a difference.  Nevertheless, there is something I like about the Miyata’s Suntour clicking that reminds me of the mother’s-womblike comfort I experience when driving or riding in noisy diesel vehicles, most notably the 1979 four-speed VW Rabbit coupe I drove cross-country in the early 1990’s.

Some Thoughts About Bicycling


The photo above is from the flat part of a hilly 13 mile ride yesterday afternoon in Tennessee.

Blinking Lights

Last week, while pedaling around Prairie Creek Reservoir, near Muncie, Indiana, I saw maybe a half-dozen other cyclists.  Most acknowledged or exchanged greetings with me.  One fellow, a skinny guy in Lycra (heading clockwise while I rode counter-clockwise), all leaned over triathlon bars, in response to eye-contact and a slight wave of greeting produced a sneer.  He was an average-looking guy on an average looking carbon-fiber bike wearing average looking cycling togs, although he had either shaved that morning or produced little discernible facial hair (I don’t think he was a skinny-but-mannish-looking woman).  Really, not a person I would recognize as special in any way beyond his bad manners.

I wondered why I provoked that reaction?  Being liked by others has never been one of my major goals in life – I don’t think I register on either the Winsomeness or Loathsomeness scales.  Still, I wondered.  Riding outdated equipment?  Check.  Middle-aged, misshapen facial features arranged haphazardly around an unshaven dial?  Check.  Simple blue jersey and black shorts? Check.  Blinking lights on the front of my bike?  Check.

I am probably the only cyclist I know who consistently uses blinking LED lights on his bike when pedaling on streets and roads I share with motorized vehicles.  From your average cruiser/single-speed rider to your average super-thin, latest-expensive-equipment pedaling “semi-pro” enthusiast racer, most of the other cyclists I encounter on the road don’t use lights to make them more visible to motorists.  I have, myself, noticed that, of the few cyclists I see using lights, most are middle-aged, overweight, and pedaling slowly – categories into which I most of the time also neatly fit.


My primary goal in using bike lights, front and back, is to avoid injury by broadcasting my presence on the road to motorists who, if they see me, are more likely to avoid striking me with their cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles.  While the interaction between bicyclist and motor vehicle may produce any number or combinations of grisly injuries, the one I’m most concerned about is traumatic brain injury.


In a previous incarnation, I worked with hundreds of people with disabling conditions and more than half of those with cognitive, mental, and emotional conditions disclosed during interview having received blows to the head at some time, usually during childhood, so severe they lost consciousness.  Many of these people report never having received medical attention for their injuries; a number said they never told their parents.  Comparing onset of disabling condition based upon extant medical records to estimated dates of head injury indicated in many cases that the injuries preceded onset of disabling condition or conditions.  While I understand that my remarks are anecdotal and doubtless skewed by sampling error, my observations sufficiently inform me that traumatic brain injury is to be avoided if at all possible.

Bicycling Magazine recently had an article about bicycle helmets that I found interesting (it can be found here: Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute posted a rather weak refutation here: which does nothing to dispel my healthy fear of head-injury.  I will continue to wear my helmet while cycling and insist my wife and son do likewise.

Toe Clips

Did I mention toe clips?  I did not?  Let me tell you about the Velo Orange half-clips I got for Father’s Day – they can be had at a fraction of the cost of the Bruce Gordon stainless steel variety of strapless toe-clip (for that price, I’d expect old Bruce to throw in a seatbag filled with GORMP or something); and they change the entire pedaling characteristics (subject/verb agreement is debatable here) of the bike.  I thought the clips would help with foot placement on the pedal as a means of addressing the plantar fasciitis with which I’ve lately been afflicted, and they have reduced stress on the painful heel when using both trail-runners and cycling shoes.  The nuts and bolts that came with clips, however, failed to hold during my first ride with them, a relatively easy 14 miler.  Caught out in a sudden thunderstorm with torrential downpour with one clip because the other’d come off (but retrieved and stuck in the seatbag) brought home to me the value of better quality attachment hardware.

Contacted by email, Velo Orange sent me out some replacement nuts and bolts the same day by regular mail, but when they arrived, they were the wrong diameter or gauge or whatever for the holes in the clips.  I went to Lowe’s and came back with something that worked better.  I replaced all but one of the attachment nut/bolts because that one stayed on well enough I left it alone.  Here are some pictures of the clips on the Miyata’s original SP-350 pedals – click on any of them for a larger image.


After getting over the initial fear of “How will I get my off-foot back into the clip after a stop quickly enough to keep from crashing in traffic?” I pretty quickly got the hang of that.  The Miyata’s extra-long cranks tend to ensure the clips will drag some on the ground until one’s feet are in them.  I like these clips and, if the application of grease to the SP-350’s bearings doesn’t reduce the annoying “click” the right one makes when pedaling, I plan to get another set of pedals with which I can use these clips.

Farmland, Candy, Rest & Gluttony

Farmland & Candy

No visit to Indiana is complete without a visit to Farmland General Store in the small town of Farmland; it’s where I usually buy rootbeer barrel candy, candy cigarettes, novelty vomit and other bad-flavored jelly beans.  Tennessee has one good candy store, too, the Apple Barn at Gatlinburg, but it’s easier, traffic-wise, to get to the store in Farmland than it is to get to the store in Gatlinburg.  Farmland’s a more attractive town, to boot.  This time, I bought a pound of rootbeer barrel and two pounds of horehound candy.  My wife bought a few packs of Pop-Rocks and acted like a silly kid while she was eating them.  Our son enjoyed the candy store, too.  He was too young to remember our visit to the Apple Barn.


Rest & Gluttony

We spent a day with my wife’s extended family at the home of her uncle and aunt, about two hours distant from the farm.  We left in the morning and didn’t get back until evening.  For me, it was a day of enforced rest – no possibility of exercise activity but assured access to a great deal of summer holiday food – grilled burgers, hotdogs, brats, sides, and desserts.  I overate, but not to the point of painful discomfort.  On the way there and back we passed a sign my wife said always made them laugh when they were kids; I leave you with a photo to make you laugh.


Indiana Tour de Corn 2013


For the second year running, I took a bicycle with me on our annual trip to visit my wife’s family in rural Indiana.  I also piled paddling gear in the car, too, but the weather forecast indicated cooler temperatures and a good deal of rain which contraindicated much likelihood my wife would herself or would allow our boy to accompany me on a river float in the 17’ aluminum canoe named Caution-Lady.  Although I’m not certain my paddling days are over, I have spent a great many more pedaling since buying my first adult bike a couple of years ago.

This year, as I mentioned in the previous post, I have a much better grasp of the rural geography of the environs around my wife’s family home.  Additionally, this year, I have an Apple Iphone – one of the cheap 8 gig devices my wireless provider was giving away last winter to spur data-plan sales, but still way cooler than the flip-phone I’d had for seven or so years.  Even though Apple Maps don’t always work, they’d suffice to keep me from getting totally lost like I did last year.  In addition to the Iphone’s Apple Maps, I’ve got a paid app, Cyclemeter, that usefully tracks distance, speed, elevation, ascent, descent, calories burned, and has a pretty good map feature, all using the phone’s GPS.  Sure, it’s a spy in my seatbag, but if it makes me mad, I can destroy it by emptying a clip into it.  Practically speaking, however, I am not at present too freaked out about it.

Indiana by Counties

The Razesa had a flat the morning we left Stepford, so I took the Miyata, a bike I generally only ride in fair weather; in fact, I’ve pretty well named the bike Fairweather.  As noted elsewhere, the Miyata is a 610 touring model – a mid-range bike manufactured in 1981.  It has a complete Suntour grupo with stem-shift “Power Shifters” that have a ratcheting feel to them as they are used to index-shift.  All though Rivendell claims their downtube shift levers (which replaced the Simplex shifters on my Razesa) are better than the Suntour Power Shifters, that is mere sales puffing as the Rivendell product is inferior in terms of feel and accuracy. 

Although mostly original, the Miyata’s factory saddle was long since lost by the time I purchased the bike from Mike Carroll of Old Bikes Belong.  The day I bought the bike, Mike installed a Selle Italia saddle racing saddle I’d brought along, but it proved unsatisfactory and I quickly replaced it with a hideous red and black mountain-bike saddle.  Although strangely ugly, the newer saddle quickly became less visually disturbing because I noticed the red trim matched the Dia Compe center-pull brake’s red trim.


Regarding the name, Fairweather, it was one of a fictional monk’s five friends, as I recall from a novel I read for a Church History class in seminary back in the 1990’s.  Fairweather and Tune were a pair of snakes that, if I recall this correctly, shared the monk’s hermitage until, in an act of penitence, the man banished so he could bear his guilt alone.  None of that has anything to do with the fact that I generally try to ride the Miyata in fair weather – I’m trying to keep it in as near-new condition as possible yet still ride it regularly.   A few weeks ago on a short ride in the area around my house, I did get caught riding the Miyata in a thunderstorm, so got over worry about getting the bike wet and dirty.

My father-in-law thinks Tennessee’s rural scenery has “the Wow Factor” in spades, but I am of the opinion that Indiana’s farmland is no less beautiful.  I think Jim’s so used to his surroundings that he does not “feel” the Wow to a conscious degree any longer.  I’ve taken rides for six of the nine days spent at the farm but have taken fewer pictures while riding than I did last year.  This is in part due to my reliance upon the Iphone as my primary camera (although I took the Pentax with me on Monday 1 July with indifferent to bad results). 


Most of my Indiana rides this year have been greater than 30 miles; all but two greater than 20.  I stopped in a couple of times at Greenway 500 Bike Shop – Mike identified the snick-snick sound my bike was making as a worn-out pedal I might make right by the application of grease to its inner workings.  He has a Fuji Cambridge with eight-speed internally geared rear hub and dynamo front hub that I coveted.  Mike wouldn’t swap it for the Miyata saying he already had enough old bikes, but I would have swapped.  I did take the Fuji for a spin and liked it very well.  For $1100, it could have been mine, but the wrath of my wife would also have been mine.

On my first long ride, I stopped in at a gas-station mini market and bought a sausage/cheese/fried-egg biscuit and two quarts of Powerade (not as good as Gatorade, but available at “Two for $2”); on two other occasions, I stopped by the lakeside tent set up by Rob Cline and family – Cave-Baby Smokers, and again purchased and ate sausage/egg and egg/cheese biscuits to fortify my constitution during my travels.  The first day I met Rob and his son, and the following day, Rob and his wife, Holly.  My photos of the Cline family and their smokehouse tent can be seen HERE.  What follows are some of the photos I took while riding rural Indiana – click on a picture for a larger image.





Cave-Baby Breakfasts

Just a quick post.  Last year, while riding the Indiana cornfields near Muncie in record-breaking, triple-digit heat, I survived getting badly lost after taking a wrong turn on the way out of Blountsville, in part because I had the good sense to impulse-buy and eat a fried-egg and cheese biscuit from Rob Cline of Cave-Baby Smokers.  This year, even though I’ve got a better grasp of the local geography, I again stopped by the tent Rob’s set up at Prairie Creek Reservoir both yesterday and today to visit and eat fried-egg biscuits; yesterday’s with cheese and today’s with a burger-sized sausage patty.  Good eating and jus the thing for those 30 to 40 mile rides through farmland on chip-and-seal roads.

Rob-Cline-&-Son Cave-Baby-SmokehouseHolly-&-Rob-Cline

So, if you’re out there any time over the next couple of weeks, stop in, say “Hello,” and get something to eat.  The Clines serve lunch, as well, and cater large events.

Memorial Day Weekend 2013–Late Post

Over the past weeks I have been busy at work, have been working a lot of extra hours devoting the time to catching up and staying caught up on more routine matters. My work has taken me to a lot of interesting places and promises to continue doing so. In one of the semi-rural county-seats where I conduct some of my work, during a recent lunch-hour I went on walkabout, exploring the old streets of the only partially tenanted downtown district. Some miles of abandoned track that runs clear across town appear to be ready for Rails to Trails greenway transformation.


In another county, I saw purple Jesus statue guarding the corner of someone’s property near a notorious “subdivision” that once billed itself as a “restricted community,” but because the developer back in the Sixties or Seventies failed to arrange for water service to the several-hundred acres “neighborhood,” now more closely resembles a zombie-compound or hippy-camper criminal colony.

Purple Jesus Idol

By the time I get home, I’m often pretty tired, but I cannot always plug in to Netflix and watch Swedish police shows that have subtitles or tune-out and read for pleasure to relax. Mowing season demands more of me; my human body demands fitness activities and my growing son demands a father who will play outside with him. We’ve become involved in an organized sport with our son? That takes up a lot of time, too. He alternately enjoys the games and wants to go home, sometimes in the same five minutes. All this is to say that the Busy Wheel again is turning, and this year it’s started a lot earlier than its usual late-Fall holiday season advent.

I am still recovering from plantar fasciitis. My regular physician, an old-school surgeon, when referring me to a local podiatrist instructed me on no account to allow the man or his associates to perform surgery or to inject the foot as the needle poke will invariably weaken the tendon causing further attenuating likelihood of recovery. He also prescribed a ninety-day course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – Mobic. A Facebook friend, one of those people I’ve never met face to face but would very much like to, strongly recommended massaging the foot to facilitate recovery. The podiatrist affirmed that massage is likely to help because it gets the blood moving and reduces swelling/inflammation. What the specialist prescribed was orthotics and a night-splint, which immediately produced about 30 to 40 percent reduction in pain. Massage, when I take the time to do it, is also a real help. Wearing cycling shoes does help reduce the problem when I ride the Miyata, which has pedals with smaller surface area, but is not usually necessary when I ride the Razesa with its MKS Lambda pedals.

Last year, I joined a local cycling club and since then have participated in a couple of club activities – the 50 mile portion of a century ride and a highway cleanup. A lot of the activities are scheduled at times that conflict with other commitments, and it seems many of the riders enjoy racing or otherwise take cycling more “seriously” than I do. Their rides are at a pace I have trouble maintaining – it’s not just that I ride antique bikes, it’s that I have trouble riding them at the fast pace cyclists rode them when they were new. Not a big deal to me – like my kayaks, I use my bikes for fitness and exploration; that is, getting fit while exploring my environment.


Last weekend, however, the club participated in a ride organized by our small city’s mayor in an effort to encourage local residents to “get off the couch and get outside.” I rode over to the event’s starting point, an elementary school across town, and rode with about 20 others for maybe four and a half miles through that neighborhood at an extremely slow pace – possibly nine miles an hour or less most of the way. This slow pace seemed comfortable, however, for a number of the riders. My normal pace is probably somewhere on the low end of a category between neighborhood cyclist and elite cyclist.

I enjoyed talking with some of the others during the ride. The mayor, who said he was embarrassed that he does not own a bicycle, borrowed one of the police department’s Trek police bikes, sans radio and battery pack to power the blue and white lights on the handlebars. I saw people riding bikes older than mine, some comfort and some hybrid bicycles. A little girl, maybe eight years of age, from the neighborhood had ridden over to the school by herself, played on the playground while waiting for the event to start, and then rode the entire way at the head of the pack, all on a pink and purple girl’s bike. Most of the way, I rode next to a retired engineer who moved to this area from inland California – Riverside. He rode an REI house-brand hybrid bicycle and talked about having ridden Natchez Trace from Franklin to, I think it was, Tupelo, with his brothers.

After the mayor’s ride, I pedaled over to my mom’s house in a nearby neighborhood and imposed upon her for lunch and visited for I don’t recall how long. Then I rode back across town to my own house.


Sunday, I rode my bike to our congregation’s worship service. I teach, if that is the right word for it, a Sunday School class for adults and younger people. My wife has started teaching a class for children aged three to five, so she drove over with our son in one of the cars. Our pastor is teaching a class for children in primary through about eighth grades. The congregational meeting place, a storefront, is not far from the house and takes 10 to 20 minutes to ride, depending on the one traffic light between here and there, whether there’s a headwind, and how fast I feel like riding.

My class is just starting to read through and discuss Paul’s first letter to Timothy, and I’ve been using John Calvin’s commentary on the epistle for reference. Calvin seems to have applied his mind to the text and what he has written contains a lot of sense. He does exhibit in his writing a good deal of antipathy for the Roman Catholic church, but given the manner in which that organization persecuted their “separated brethren” at the time, that bias is understandable and, possibly, commendable. Our pastor’s sermon from First Samuel was excellent. In the evening, I rode back over for a Bible-study dealing Jesus’ commission to the church as told by John in the 20th chapter of his gospel; that bit about forgiving and retaining sins. The discussion was fantastic – for me, this is the sort of thing I love to show up for.

On Monday (Memorial Day in the U.S.), I thought about the men and women who died serving in the armed forces of the United States military. My wife, son, and I grilled out with my mom at her house. I overcooked the hamburgers, but they were edible. My cousin, Allen, joined us and it was good to see him. Allen lives at Nashville and we only get to see him about five or six times a year.

In the evening, back at the house, I hooked up the trailer bike to my wife’s Electra Townie single-speed and rode with my son around the neighborhood. On Saturday, my wife, son, and I rode from our house to a local middle school and back again on neighborhood streets and a bike path. A couple of times our son failed to exercise caution and one time nearly came to grief, so we told him he could no longer “be the front-leader.” He was very unhappy about the perceived humiliation, but we’d rather have a living, healthy, unhappy preschool age child than one who is maimed or dead. Sunday afternoon, the boy said he wanted me to remove the training wheels from his bicycle, and I did. He pronounced the result “too tippy” and asked to have them reinstalled. We’ll see. He’s a pretty independent little guy and seems to master skills without too much trouble. Maybe this coming weekend, he’ll get on the bike a little more.