2014 Tour de Corn – Part 2

Favorite-Indiana-Vista

Bad pavement on my favorite stretch of Indiana country road

Bike Shops are Closed on Mondays?

Thinking it would be interesting to ride my bike to a couple of local bike shops, one of which is known to me as a good source of New Old Stock equipment, I had mapped a course using RideWithGPS.com for Monday ambitious in scope. Did I mention that Cyclemeter consistently failed to function during my Indiana stay? It was totally useless, managing to record only overall ride time. After returning home, I finally had the sense to check the app’s help feature; turns out I should have restarted the IPhone after updating the app. Duh. Of course, the real “duh” is that it took me over about 10 days to check the “help” feature.

A long ride through two or three counties on chip-and-seal, or ‘chipseal,’ roads – most of them unfamiliar to me – was what I needed to counteract the bite of Sunday evening’s dog. My injured calf was bruised, swollen and sore Monday morning, but evidenced no sign of infection.

Food For Athletic Endeavors

Because I’d forgotten to bring pre-workout drink, energy gels and high-performance ride food, as well as post-workout recovery food, I had to rely entirely upon oatmeal for breakfast and trailmix for snacks (the kind without anything that will melt), powdered Gatorade I got at a supermarket to drink on the bike (I buy all my other pre-packaged ‘performance foods’ at a local scratch-n-dent grocers for about 20% of normal retail – honestly, who’d pay retail for that stuff?), and sandwiches and other normal, household foods for after-ride recovery. I packed some trailmix into two snack-sized ziplock baggies, mixed up two 28 oz. bottles of Gatorade, ate a half-cup of instant oatmeal made with boiling water (because who wants the potential problems posed by breakfast raisins on a long ride in the country?).

I’ve been mixing my Gatorade a lot weaker, of late. Although I like it best when mixed to a dark, orange (or blue) with enough powder that I can crunch the undissolved granulated bits. I enjoy the bold, sugary taste, but have found I go through it faster and I’m thirstier when I drink it that way. Mixed weak, the stuff tastes like orange colored and orange-and-salt-tainted tapwater, which it is. I guess I could make my own from household ingredients for next to nothing, but I probably won’t be doing that.

Frame Pump

Because I’d forgotten to bring my floor pump on the trip, I had to use the Miyata’s frame pump. The pump, brand of which I’ve forgotten but will make note of and write about another time, can be used for both Presta and Schrader valve stems. The pump has a handy pressure gauge, has a fold-out stabilizer for standing on, as well as a fold-out handle. Still, it’s a bear to pump air with the little device, but it worked well enough for week or so up north.

Bad Pavement & Windsor

Windsor-Street-Signs

I printed out a cue-sheet from RideWithGPS and set out. Kind of cool that morning, but I warmed up as I rode. The pavement got much worse the closer I got to Selma. Several of the roads I needed had signs that’d been knocked off, possibly by tractor or grain-truck bumps. I stopped at a T-intersection to ask directions from a farmer moving rocks the size of cinder-blocks and bigger onto a trailer with a tractor’s bucket. He looked a lot like Vincent Price and didn’t know the name of the road that went off perpendicular, but thought it might be the one I wanted. It was probably the worst-paved road on which I traveled all week. I pedaled on to a small – not even a town, really – cluster of houses called Windsor. Picturesque and like something from another time; I stopped and snapped a street signs picture. Nothing sinister happened to me and I found the next road on my cue-sheet.

Selma

Goldman's-Closed-MondayGoldman's-Bike-Shop-Sign

Rain fell some, during this ride, both early and later in the day. I’d kept my cue sheet folded and under my Iphone in a jersey pocket so rainwater wouldn’t make the ink run. Still, by the time I’d reached Selma, the printed page was damp with ambient moisture and my sweat. Goldman’s bike shop was closed. Who could have guessed that a bike shop would be closed on a Monday? I met a man outside the shop who also was surprised the store was closed. He’d come to Goldman’s hoping to look at some fat-bikes for beach cruising. Dunno how far he’d come and don’t know whether he returned to Goldman’s another day.

Cue Sheet Problems

I looked at my cue sheet and started to ride out of Selma to find the next bike shop on my list, but the street names on the page did not bear much correspondence to what I was seeing on the ground. I stopped at Corner Cupboard market next to the town’s ball fields in order to refill one water bottle and ask directions. I parked my bike against one of the picnic tables on the patio, out front, but the door to the interior was locked. The woman visible inside the café section motioned to my right to indicate entry at the other door.

I walked all the way in to the counter and asked permission to fill up my water bottle from the pop dispenser. I also asked to buy a slice of breakfast pizza, as I was pretty hungry by this time. She put it in a box and I took it to the cash register, up front, where another woman told me there would be no charge for the pizza slice because it had been out of the oven over 45 minutes and she didn’t want customers to feel they’d not got something good for their money. The women at the counter when queried about the directions on my cue-sheet, gave me different directions that made sense based on what I’d already seen riding in to town. I also asked for and got another piece of free pizza and ate them outside, at a picnic table.

Selma-VFW-Flags-&-CannonSelma-VFW-Cannon

On my way out of Selma, I snapped a picture of my bike leaned up against a cannon by the flags outside the VFW hall. That breakfast pizza was weighing pretty heavy in my gut the first few miles out of Selma.

Smithfield & Ruthless Steel Bridge

Smithfield-Indiana

I followed the directions given by the women at Corner Cupboard. I pedaled into a town of about eight houses called Smithfield. The sign on a bent-from-having-been-crashed-into sign on my right, near an abandoned-looking bare wood-frame house with barking dogs penned in back told me I was in Smithfield. I stopped and snapped a picture, knowing I’d regret it if I didn’t. Where the road leading downhill through Smithfield ended at a T-intersection, I turned right, again as advised by the kind women at Corner Cupboard market. The road got rougher, but not as bad as the road I took to Windsor, and it led to a rusted steel bridge with wood slats or roadbed. The bridge probably spanned Prairie Creek, but it may also have been the White River, although that is doubtful. I enjoyed the sound made by my bike’s wheels riding over the bridge so much, I turned around and went back over it; also smoother than the road. Snapped some pictures and pedaled on.

RuthlessOld-Bridge-MiyataOld-Steel-&-Wood-Bridge

Missed Turn

I missed my turn and wound up on the marina-side of Prairie Creek Reservoir and found Cave Baby’s, while their trailer was on site, was not open for business by the boat dealer/chandlery. I’ve bought a rider’s snack there the previous two years I’ve toured the farmland around Muncie, but this year, probably because the Fourth did not fall early or midweek, was unable to get the fried egg and bacon biscuit I’d come to expect. Also, I needed to fill up my water bottle again and wanted a place to get off the bike for a rest.

Muncie Sailing Club

Muncie-Sailing-Club

I rode on to the Muncie Sailing Club where, seeing no vehicles on the premises, I turned in to the driveway and rode over the grass to a picnic pavilion lakeside. The created order provided me a conveniently screened area nearby to hydrate the already luxuriant foliage. I also needed to refill my water bottle (usually try not to consume all of the water from both bottles, but refill and switch use of each bottle as I go), but it appeared property’s water had not been turned on yet for the season, even though it was already the end of June. As I continued my ride around the lake, I was able to get water from a spigot and hose behind Harris Chapel Church of the Nazarene.  My cessationist pastor will opine that I am no prophet, but I was grateful for the cup of cold water.  I’ve found a lot of country church properties have garden hoses or spigots convenient for filling water bottles when far from any commercial establishments.

Another Closed Bike Shop

When I finally arrived at the other bike shop I’d planned to visit, I found it, also, is closed on Mondays. On the Cardinal Greenway, while on my way back to the farm for a late lunch, I met a young man who said he was riding south to Hagerstown to see a friend and planned to return to Muncie later in the evening. He was riding a 29’er mountain bike of a brand I’d never before seen. Had some bright colors on it.

Mine was maybe a 38 mile day? It seemed a lot longer.

Lost Again and Lunch at Muncie

Tuesday, I again mapped a route on RideWithGPS and printed a cuesheet. I planned to ride to a nearby lake I’d never before visited. One of the things I wanted to do while we were in Indiana was to take my wife and son paddling in the canoe, and from what I’d read online, the lake I planned to visit was much more canoe-friendly, and better for swimming than Prairie Creek Reservoir. I figured the ride would be no more than about 30, round-trip. Once again, though, I found that conditions on the ground bore little resemblance to my cuesheet as I got to within five or six miles of the lake.

Gravel-&-Dirt-Roads

Beyond where the pavement ended

I got lost and the pavement ended. Some of the counties in the vicinity around Muncie are getting huge electricity generating windmills, doubtless funded and profits being reaped by Chinese communist Obama sponsors. Isn’t Harry Reid of Nevada in on the windmill profit thing? Anyway, because huge trucks are carrying huge sections of windmill deep into farmland over narrow, badly paved roads, the companies have torn up the pavement and spread gravel on the roads those trucks travel most. About the point I got badly turned around, the pavement gave out. I think I rode six to eight miles on unpaved roads. I learned about lateral drift, but did not crash. The Miyata 610’s a great bike to be lost with – a forgiving frame, I think is the term given the way it handled my riding on gravel and dirt roads. Apple maps were no use. When I finally found the main highway and knew where I was again, I gave up the lake expedition as a bad job and thought, “Heck with it. I’ll ride to Muncie for lunch.”

Muncie-Grafitti-Wall

At Muncie, I saw some high school age kids riding BMX and mountain bikes on the Cardinal Greenway trail, past the Muncie Graffiti Wall, and asked directions to a good place to get a hamburger. They suggested I keep on until McGalliard where there are more and better places to eat than a mall that could be reached by turning right and riding a couple of miles to my right where I might find a food court or a Burger King. McGalliard, then, where I’d eaten with family numerous times on car trips to the city. I was hoping Mancino’s would be close by the intersection of the Greenway with busy commercial artery, but when I arrived, I found a Chick-fil-A not far down the road on my left.  I walked my bike maybe a quarter mile to the restaurant along the grassy verge of derelict-looking medical building and a busy car lot.

Muncie Chick-fil-A

Leaning my bike up against the building out front, where there’s a sort of outdoor dining area, I left gloves and helmet, but kept on the loud yellow Route 66 cycling cap I bought from Kucharik for my young son and he’d let me wear. We hadn’t brought his bike (nowhere around the farm for him to safely ride), but he wanted to bring the cap.

I was dressed in sweaty, perhaps ill-fitting cycling clothes that may not have flattered middle-aged frame, but the Chick-fil-A staff was friendly, helpful and welcomed me to dine indoors when I told them I’d take my order to eat at an outside table to spare the other customers the stench of my sweat. I think I ordered a chicken salad of some sort, waffle fries and a shake. Food, as usual, was better than average fast food fare, but the restaurant’s staff made the experience pleasantly memorable. Good job, Muncie Chick-fil-A!

Wal-Mart Bike Fail

On the way back, as I was leaving Muncie, I again met the young man I’d seen the previous day. He was walking his bike toward Muncie on the Greenway, and we stopped and chatted for a minute or two. He told me he’d taken his bike, which he’d bought at a Wal-Mart, offroad and he showed me where the rear derailleur had torn loose as he rode through tall grass and maybe sticks. He said he’d eaten as I made to offer him a snack from the Miyata’s seatbag. We said goodbye and each kept on the other way.

Sore Butt

Eye-Focus-Calibration

After that, I rode back to the farm. By about the 55th mile of my ride, my butt ached and pedaling became difficult.  I stopped a couple of times along the way to rest.  At one stop, my attention was for no other reason than a need to recalibrate my optics drawn to one particular tree in the middle distance.  By the 59th mile, my ride had become about unbearable. I am not sure whether that is because the bike’s saddle is unsuitable for rides longer than 50 miles, or whether I don’t take enough rides in the greater than 50 mile range to become accustomed to the effect upon my butt.

Cornfield

By the time I got back to the house, I was ready for a hot shower and a mid-afternoon lunch.

2014 Tour de Corn–Part 1

Saturday-Sky
Mr. Badwrench

This year, I started my Tour de Corn sans bicycle having maladjusted the Miyata’s rear derailleur in an attempt to correct a shifting problem. Probably should have taken a picture of the results of my labor, but didn’t think of it until right now. Mr. Badwrench – that’d be me.

Razesa Unsuitable for Longer Rides

The Razesa I’ve found increasingly problematic for longer rides because the ancient Master saddle numbs my genitalia after about 20 miles, the bike’s handlebars are too narrow for my shoulders on longer rides, and the Gimli’s axe-head MKS Lambda pedals don’t work well with stiff-soled cycling shoes I like to wear on longer rides.

Mechanical Intervention

I took the Miyata to Indiana after contacting Michael at Greenway 500 to see if he could address the bike’s problems on the day after my family was scheduled to arrive at the farm. Michael wrote back saying he does not schedule mechanical interventions on Saturdays, his prime retail sales day, but I could take my chances and show up with the bike. The bike might be ready in a few minutes to several hours, depending.

By the time I arrived at Greenway 500, Michael was helping another customer whose mountain bike’s presenting problem was repeated flatting. He treated the condition, in consultation with the bike’s owner – a normal-seeming guy not quite sixty who reminded me of Roman legionnaire – not very tall, but alert and competent-seeming without the overweening arrogance one finds in some ‘elite’ cyclist types.

I didn’t mind waiting, and learned something about mountain bike tires, rims, tubes, rim-tape, spokes, and so forth by paying attention to the conversation.

Michael’d got a couple of new chairs for the shop from Ikea which inspired greater confidence than the worn-out Labrador couch that’d been in the shop for the last couple of years I’d visited. With the exertion of effort with both hands, the rear derailleur was separated from the metal pie-pan spoke protector adjacent the freewheel, followed up by other needed adjustments. Apparently, I’d done the bike’s drive-train no permanent harm. Also got new bar-wrap. The old had been shredded on the left side, where I’d crashed once and the bike had fallen maybe twice. I completely chickened-out in the colors department and went with brown, again. The Salsa tape looks great, though, so I’m happy with my choice.

I don’t think I rode anywhere Saturday, maybe four or five miles? Dunno.

Fat Sunday

Sunday morning we went to church service with the family at the large denominational First Church where my wife and I were married on a cold day about 15 years ago. The old building’s roof fell in, and the congregation has a large, new facility. That Sunday’s program was the church’s Vacation Bible School finale.

Weird Animals

The VBS had acquired it’s material from Group, Inc. – the Weird Animals theme: http://www.group.com/vbs/weird-animals . Each age group from the VBS stood up front, the an adult leader said something about the children’s participation during the previous week, and the children sang a song or two learned during the week. On large video screens all around the auditorium, while the children stood up on the platform in rows to sing their songs, slick music videos for each of the songs played. Bright, flashy colors and a lot of movement from cameras and happy-looking young people, in addition to an overwhelmingly loud audio presence repeatedly derailed my attempts to pay attention to the flesh and blood kids up front in the auditorium. I noticed that no one else seemed to be paying attention to the children up front, either. Kind of a lousy thing to do to the kids. I mentioned my criticisms to my father-in-law afterwards, and he said what I witnessed has become the norm for that congregation – loud audio/visual in addition to frequent “technical difficulties” that are actually operator error. Vis-à-vis speaking about my concerns with the congregation’s pastor, my father-in-law shared a phrase he’d learned from his father, “Might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

Mexico versus Netherlands

We joined another family for lunch after the VBS service at a Mexican restaurant where we were able to watch Mexico v. Netherlands on televisions placed all around the dining area. All of the waiters wore green Mexican national team soccer jerseys. Service was dead slow, but we were able to finish our meal and get on the road before the Orange victory. Predictably, I overate and felt like a fat, hominid slug.

Ride to Farmland

Pinch-Before-the-Storm

Late Sunday afternoon, I felt I’d sufficiently digested my huge, Mexican meal to get some exercise. Also felt in real need of exercise.

I’ve visited Farmland many times, usually to eat breaded tenderloin sandwich at The Chocolate Moose or buy bulk candy at the General Store, but always I’d got there by car. I decided a long afternoon ride would be just the thing to halt the transformation from Man to Slug I’d begun at lunchtime. Got caught in a thunderstorm cloudburst and waited it out under the eaves of a church building, then rode the rest of the way there.

View-from-ShelterUnder-Sheltering-Eaves

Have I written lately about how much I enjoy riding chip-and-seal paved country roads? I really like riding them. The American version of cobbled European roads – they are rough and to be endured. They make even poorly paved normal streets seem smooth and finished. Chip-and-seal is what I rode to Farmland, as well as a lot of the other miles I rode during my recent Indiana sojourn.

Farmland Opera House

Eighth Street Opera House, look closely

Farmland was closed for the day by the time I arrived late afternoon/early evening. I rested briefly at a café table outside the Chocolate Moose, leaned my bike up for a picture against the garage door at the General Store (the sign said Open, but the store was Closed), and snapped a couple of other pictures before heading back the way I came. Got a picture Eighth Street (or is it ‘Avenue’) Opera House – look at the picture – it’s a puzzle and if you figure it out, it’ll remind you of a funny song. The woman at the deli counter at what I think was called Jason’s Meat Market – the only business in town open Sunday evening – filled up my water bottle for me.

Farmland-Candy-StoreFarmland-Blue-HouseFarmland-Flag

Farmland-Buildings

Farmland-Angle-RoadFarm-Cemetery

Dog-Bit

On the ride back to the house from Farmland, I got bitten by a dog. I’d been chased by three other dogs on the way out, but none got close to catching me, and at least one of the dogs appeared simply to enjoy the contest of speed, bearing on its doggy dial a doggy smile as it ran beside me. The dog that got me was a gray Australian sheep dog with black spots accompanied by a yellow dog of the same breed. I didn’t crash and kept riding, but the damnable cur bit one of my calves, breaking the skin.

I cannot recall the last time I’ve wanted to kill something as badly as I wanted to kill that dog. As I rode, I thought about getting Dr. Walther to accompany me back to the rural trailer from beside which the dogs ran out at me, for a little impromptu vivisection. By the time I got back to the house, though, I had decided to talk it over with my father-in-law to see what he advised. In a recent vocational incarnation, I spent about a year and a half working with a population about half of whom (is ‘whom’ correct here?) qualified for my caseload because they’d failed to control their impulses on a day they should have controlled their impulses.

My father-in-law advised me to contact local law enforcement dispatch to see what they suggested. I did so. The woman who took my call said she would have a sheriff’s department investigator come out and would also send an EMS unit out to have a look at the bite. By the time it was all over, about six shockingly overweight EMS workers (as well as one male of normal weight) came out. They had actually called for an ambulance before coming over to the house which I requested they cancel. Heck, if I could ride the miles back to the house, I could drive myself to Ball Hospital in Muncie if in need of medical treatment. The sheriff’s department investigator was a very normal seeming guy who took my information and said he’d file a report with the state; he said he couldn’t just ride out to the house with me and kill the dog. Although disappointed, I understood that things must be done decently and in order.

Turns out, oddly enough, that the dog’s owner is the daughter of my mother-in-law’s hairdresser. The wound on my calf never festered, although it did bruise pretty badly. I kept it clean and used topical antibiotic. As of this writing, the spot’s still sore if I pinch it, but it seems free of infection. The dog’s owners have quarantined it at the vets, and, since I have not yet suffered material loss, no law suit is currently pending.

1989 (or 1988) Bridgestone MB-4

Completed, Tested, Ready to Ride

Several months ago, I bought a 1989 or 1988 Bridgestone Trailblazer MB-4 from my friend, Adrian.  He’d bought it thinking the bike’s top tube would better fit him than the MB-6 he’d bought a few years ago.  These bikes were intended to replace the MB-5 he bought new when he was a much younger man and rode hundreds of miles a week.  The one I bought turned out not to be a good fit for him and he offered it to me at a price too good to refuse.

bridgestone-1988-08bridgestone-1989-specsbridgestone-1989-Puff-Sheet

I say it is a 1988 or 1989 because it appears an amalgam of both – it’s the battleship gray color bike with black, white, and red trim.  The Bridgestone name appears in white on the downtube, but the color scheme is otherwise not precisely that of the ‘88 model.  Also, it’s got the same geometry as the ‘89 model, so that is probably the clincher, as it were.  It does have the Shimano Biopace chainrings, which I actually like (I have them on my Razesa roadbike, and they work just fine).

Stuff I’ve replaced on the MB-4 are cables, tires, pedals, grips, and headset.  Because there is no local bike shop at Stepford, I’ve purchased almost every replacement component from Jenson USA or Nashbar, but last week, while sojourning in the Great State of Indiana, I bought grips and pedals from Michael O’Neil at Greenway 500 Bike Shop.  Every town should have a shop like Michael’s owned by someone like Michael.

The Tange Levin headset was a bear to install, but seems to be holding up very well, although I’ve only subjected it to minimal abuse.  That said, the previous headset would’ve come loose after every ride, even easy seven or eight mile extended neighborhood rides with my young son in tow on the trailer bike or riding his own small bicycle.

Velociraptor tires replaced the Schwinn tires that were on the bike when I got it.

Shimano shift cables have replaced the original shift cables and have black housing.  Jagwire Mountain Pro brake cables in red replaced the original brake cables.  The original Avenir “Touring” saddle I replaced with the red and black Mongoose mountainbike saddle I that used to be on the Miyata 610.   A pair of Specialized grips replaced the torn and uncomfortable foam grips that were probably not original but appeared to have been on the bike for a long time.  Instead of the plastic pedals off of which my feet several times slipped during damp, muddy, or plain wet rides, I changed out a set of black Wellgo B102 BMX Pedals 9/16″ with replaceable studs.  Here are some pictures of the how the bike looks now.  Although I’ve got a new set of dials for the shifters, I’m not sure if I’m going to monkey with them.

Bridgestone-Bars-View Bridgestone-FrontviewBridgestone-Specialized-Grips

Bridgestone-RearviewBridgestone-MB4-CompleteBridgestone-Wellgo-Pedals

Yesterday (7/10/14) I installed the pedals, finishing the bike for the foreseeable future.  From what I’ve read, the Bridgestone MB-4 is not one of the “collectible” Bridgestones.  Even if it was collectible, I’d probably still ride it because it’s a bike and bikes are for riding.  I tested the completed bike by trying to evade an active six-year-old bent on attacking me with water gun, frisbees, Nerf dart gun, invisible arrows, and at one point, water from the garden hose.  The lot’s filled with trees and has numerous, unpleasant surface irregularities.  Everything held up fine – headset did not come loose, grips were comfortable, shifts were easy, brakes functioned, tires gripped, and pedals held my shoes in place when jarringly surprised by one of those irregularities mentioned in the previous sentence.  Below are the test-ride stats and ride-map generated by Cyclemeter:

Bridgestone Test Ride StatsBridgestone Test Ride Map

Some Thoughts About Cycling Caps

The French call them “casquettes” and it appears cyclists have been wearing them since the early part of the last century.  Who knew, right?

Orbea-SelfieOrbea Cycling Cap

I’ve had an Orbea cycling cap for several years; it was given me by my friend Eric, who also gave me my first road bike, the lightweight 1985 Razesa wonderbike.  I tried on the cap, thought it looked goofy, and put it on a closet shelf.  In May, for an old bikes ride, I again tried it on.  The cap’s bill had been crushed, and I think I may have bent it when I first tried it on attempting to make it look like a more ‘normal’ billed cap.  Anyway, in May, the bill lay kind of flat against my forehead like broken nose.  The look was better, though, with the bill flipped up.  I wore the cap under my helmet and it kept sweat out of my face and protected my eyes from the sun’s glare.

Because I liked the utility of the cycling cap so much, I thought I’d buy a new one for the same effect without the smashed-brim look.  I thought, since they are so cheaply made and flimsy, that they’d be super cheap – almost giveaway items at any local bike shop and free for the cost of shipping online.  I was mistaken.  Since Lovely Stepford has no local bike shop, I looked online.  The lifestyle-chic chuckleheads at Walz want an arm and a leg for their caps.  Nashbar, BikeTiresDirect, PricePoint and PerformanceBike dot com all carry cheaper versions.    Performance Bike, however, appears to sell them cheaper than any other vendor.

I was looking for an Italianate color scheme reminiscent of a pizza box, but was unable to find one I really liked.  Finally, I chose the Europcar cap the color of which is predominately green, but also has some red and white in the design.  Since I drive a European car that is green in color, I felt I could sport the cap without seeming too much a poseur.  In the same way, since I often ride a Spanish bike, I don’t feel badly about wearing an Orbea cycling cap.  Strange, I know, this need to justify what I wear.

1974 Burger King Bonnett

Stop! In the name of all that is rational or right

The Europcar cap seemed like a winner, but when I got it and tried it on, I found it presented, when worn, a sort of puffed-up 1970’s Burger King cap appearance that made me think, “Dyyy-No-Miiite!”  I attribute that puff-bonnett appearance to the darts sewn into the sides of the cap.  Cannot think why the maker would have put them there, but they ruin the look.  The Orbea cap has radial panels meeting in the cap’s center with a distinctive blue strip of cloth sewn over the top.  Below, you will find some comparison photos – they were taken week before last, and that was before the Europcar cap’s one-size-fits-all elastic in the back gave out.

Europcar-DartsOrbea-Radial-Panels

Europcar-Puffed-UpSmashed-Orbea-Cap

During our family’s recent trip North to the cornfields of Indiana, my young son, while I was busy with something besides bicycling, grabbed up my green Europcar cap and wore it on a trip to the playground.  Next morning, I was unable to find it because it had been left overnight at the playground.  I found it late in the afternoon, where it had been left in the ground-tire mulch and rained on.  The cap’s elastic was had lost its springiness and was completely stretched out.  Photographic evidence from my wife’s camera indicates the boy wore the cap normally while playing, so I can only attribute the loss of elasticity to the cap’s overnight exposure to a rainstorm.  Without the elastic, it’s pretty useless.

The other day, I wrote a review of the cap for the Performance Bike website, but that has still not been posted.  It was not complimentary and contained many of the criticisms posted here, but without the clever illustrations.

Catlike Kompacto

Cycling-CapKompacto-Selfie-Thumbie

For about the past three years, since I started wearing a bike helmet while riding, I’ve used an inexpensive Specialized bike helmet in muted spaceship-silver.  Recently, the adjustment-wheel slide mechanism at the back broke and the helmet quit tightening enough to fit snug.  I found a good deal on a Catlike Kompacto at BikeTiresDirect.  I was pretty happy at the prospect of getting something a little higher-end that looks a little less like a spaceship than the Specialized helmet.  Here’s a video I found describing the Kompacto:  http://youtu.be/a4amsXRhKqo The helmet BTD shipped to me was different in at least one respect from the one shown in the video – it didn’t have the chin-strap pad.  The BikeTiresDirect illustrations, though, show the chin-strap without a pad.  One review of the Kompacto seen online (but I didn’t save the link – you’ll have to google it) complained the Kompacto looked like a mushroom on the reviewer’s head.  My guess is, though, that unless you make your living as a hat model, you’re going to look odd wearing any cycling helmet.

Catlike-Kompacto-BoxedKompacto-Package-ContentsInside-Kompacto

Kompacto-China-DisappointmentKompacto-Chin-Strap

In the middle top-row photo, above, you can see that a packaged bottle of 5-Hour Energy Drink was included with the Kompacto, along with a glossy, full-color brochure making great claims for the product’s efficacy and inviting the user to complete a survey after having sampled the drink.  The stuff’s crap.  I experienced much greater than usual thirst and I felt hungrier while noticing no ‘performance’ gains during about a 30 mile moderately hilly ride averaging 14 – 15 mph on an antique steel roadbike.  I completed the survey and told them so.  I will stick with the Gatorade Prime Sports Fuel Drink I’ve been buying at a local scratch-and-dent grocery outlet sooo cheaply I dare not mention my price per unit.  The Gatorade product’s way more effective in terms of performance gains – I find myself pedaling without fatigue and faster a few miles into a ride than without it – something I did not experience with the 5-Hour Energy product.  I prefer the Gatorade Berry flavor, or the Orange.  The Fruit Punch flavor tastes like fruit-punch, and that is not great.

My greatest disappointment with the Kompacto is that it’s manufactured in China – Mainland, Communist China – doubtless by slave-labor.  Who knows why, but for some reason I thought a Spanish company would manufacture its products in, well, Spain.  Sadly, no.

Regarding fit, I measured my noggin in centimeters, and bought a Medium, whereas when I measured previously, bought a Large in the Specialized helmet.  With the Specialized helmet, I had to tighten the adjustment wheel all the way down to get a fit.  I stupidly tried that with the Kompacto and had a headache my first ride wearing it.  Duh, right?  I was able to achieve a good fit without cinching the helmet down all the way.  The plastic clamps below the ears on the chin-strap are easy to adjust, but come unclamped easily if my hand brushes against them while I put on the helmet.

The Kompacto’s fit is a little uncomfortable, even with the adjustments done correctly.  Worn with a cycling cap, however, the helmet is much more comfortable.  I’ve used it now for about 350 miles, maybe a little bit more, and have found it superior in terms of weight and wearability to the Specialized helmet it replaces.

Read the Follow-Up Review

June Rides

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Once again, Spring has come and gone without my having once gone paddling.  Kind of disappointing for me, but I’ve got some work to do on my one remaining kayak.  I spent most of my project-working time on the 1989 Bridgestone MB-4 I bought earlier this year from my friend, Adrian.  I’ve been taking longer rides, on the average, this year, exploring by bike.  Here are some pictures from a couple of June rides. 

One of the things you’ll notice is that my ride photos have largely devolved into compositions consisting of my bike leaned up against stuff – sort of photographic evidence that I’ve ridden as far as those points and indicators that they are not just scenic phots, rather that they were taken while exploring my dry-land environment.  A lot of my kayaking photos included my boat’s bow, boat pulled up on scenic shorelines, and water, for similar reasons.  I’ve found a Facebook group for people who take these kinds of bike photos:  Look at My Bike Leaned Up Against Stuff.  By the way, I’ve paddled the Elk River upstream to the bridge upon which you can see the Miyata posed, below.

Another thing you may notice is that most of my rides lately have been on the Miyata 610.  A problem I’ve had with the Razesa on longer rides is that the bike’s narrow, 1985 handlebars render the bike’s use uncomfortable after about 20 miles.  Also, the MKS Lambda pedals installed a couple of years ago are increasingly no longer to my liking.  I’m thinking about buying some used quill pedals with toe-clips to replace them.

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