Thanksgiving Day Ride 2014

Supernova-Frisbee-Golf-Tee

With two days off mid-week, I got a couple of rides in.  Yesterday afternoon, I rode through some of the local neighborhoods.  After running a couple of errands this morning, in the cold and damp, I put the local frisbee-golf course to better purpose than that designated for it by the City of Stepford.  Open fields and muddy, wooded tracks made a pretty good cyclocross course, as did some disused “Outdoor Classroom” nature trails.  Here’re two shots of the Origin8 Gary 2 handlebars on the Super Nova:

Gary-2-Bars-SideviewGary-2-Supernova-Bow

Then I rode through some of the city’s worst neighborhoods to get to Old Pixley Highway.  I turned left on J.C.Penny road; where it meets Bronze Bather Falls Road, though, instead of riding on down to the Falls, I turned left.  At the top of the hill, I stopped at the No Ethanol gas station and ate a Larabar.  Then, I rode the few miles back to the house in time to shower and change for Thanksgiving Day meal with the extended family.

No-Ethanol

While riding though the uneven terrain of open fields, as well as on twisting, muddy, rutted trails of the frisbee-golf course, my bike’s Continental Tour Ride tires handled and held up superbly.  Mud tends to cake up on the tires either side of the raised center strip.  The tires didn’t skid or slide at all on the muddy trails, in the leaves, over broken branches and slick wooden bridges.  On damp pavement, the tires also handled extremely well.  So far, so good, for the 2007 Jamis Super Nova rain and winter bike.  Below are a couple of pictures showing the manner in which mud cakes up on the Continental Tour Ride tires:

Continental-Tour-Ride-Apres-Mud-2Continental-Tour-Ride-Apres-Mud-1Continental-Tour-Ride-Apres-Mud

Barber Appointment

Next week’s December.  I called my barber yesterday and made an appointment for a haircut that includes beard-reduction.  I’ll be glad to get back home and shave it off, completely.

My earnest hope is that after a month of feeding daily on the remnants of Halloween candy, I won’t have developed so much chin-flab I no longer have a discernible jaw-line.  I did throw away about a pound of small Whoppers packages instead of eating them, though. It rained hard October 31, so we had only four Trick-or-Treaters.

Unavoidable and irksome busyness has kept me from riding my accustomed 80 to 100 miles a week, and that’s also contributed to my middle-aged fat.  Cosmetic surgery’s out of the question because we’ve got a couple of upcoming expenses.

On account of all that, this next month will have to be Disciplined December.

No Shave November

Or, Hating the Beard

Golf-Beard
I Hate This Stupid Beard

It feels horrible and looks just as bad.  When I was in my twenties, the beard had a lot of reddish tones in it.  They’ve been replaced in middle-age by white and gray hairs. 

This is the first the year I’ve participated in the No-Shave-November fad.  As my cousin Valerie noted, it’s a special kind of cool to take part in a fad after it’s no longer fashionable.  The beard would look better if I had some way of keeping it trimmed and well-defined, but I don’t think I will grow another beard so I won’t spend the money for a Norelco beard trimmer.

I thought the beard might help to camouflage my less than adequate facial symmetry, but it’s instead accentuated it.

Come December, this facial hair’s got a date with my barber.

Winsome-Beard

Thirty Years

In Case You’ve Been Keeping Track

Sometime last month – October 2014 – fell the 30th anniversary of my sobriety.  Back in the Orwellian year, a couple of months before my 21st birthday, I put on my best clothes, filled my cigarette case, and drove down to El Paso Cantina at the waterfront (looks like they no longer operate that Ports O’Call location, though).  I got a table outside, ordered a drink, ate an appetizer, smoked cigarettes, got the waitress’ phone number (never did call her, though, what was the point?); having spent close to my last dollar, I went back home.  Turns out, that was the last time I used alcoholic beverages.  Having been merely an opportunistic user of controlled substances, I have no idea when I last used them, but it was some time before my last drink.

30 plus years ago.  In this image taken at the Torrance "Horseshoe" Pier in Torrance, California, I am leaning against a light pole in a state of inebriation and thinking myself very clever vis-a-vis juxtaposition with the message on the sign above my head.

30 plus years ago. In this image taken at the Torrance “Horseshoe” Pier in Torrance, California, I am leaning against a light pole in a state of inebriation and thinking myself very clever vis-a-vis juxtaposition with the message on the sign above my head.

I Didn’t Mind Going to Rehab

Shortly after the events described, I checked myself in to a hospital rehab program, completed the program, religiously attended AA meetings for several years, followed through with the AA program, and amazingly enough, stayed clean and sober.  My family was pretty supportive during this time, and I would say their support was undeserved, considering the way I squandered any natural goodwill and affinity I might have laid claim to.  I couldn’t say how many of the people who completed the hospital rehab program with me are still clean, still sober.  The recidivism rate for such programs is pretty high, and early on, I knew of a number who’d returned to problematic alcohol and drug use.

Staying sober, I didn’t always live smart or behave in ways that I now consider ethical, but I didn’t use alcohol and I didn’t use drugs.  I became employable, got employed, after a number of years ended my forthright rebellion against the Almighty and began live Godward.  I started a couple of small businesses that didn’t last long, I got educated, I married a lovely, younger woman, we became homeowners, we became parents.  I’m still getting educated, I continue to live Godward, I’m active in my congregation, I’m trying to live smarter and in a way that makes ethical sense to me.  In terms of physical fitness, I’m in better physical condition than I was in my twenties – I just look a lot older because I am a lot older.  Thirty years sober – when I was 20, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see 30 years of age, much less 30 years without alcohol and drugs.

Stuff I Learned

Some of things I learned in AA that were helpful were:  Keep Showing Up; Don’t Drink or Use, No Matter What; One Day at a Time (sometimes that was one-hour-at-a-time); Once You’ve Taken Care of Your Responsibilities Everything Else is Boogaloo-Time; You Can Have Anything You Want in Life As Long As You Can Pay For It.

About paying for things – I was greatly helped in life, in my late teens and twenties, by being totally ineligible for credit.  I couldn’t get a credit card, so never did accumulate credit card, or much of any, debt.  Of course, my manner of life has never favorably impressed those who value appearance.  Even when I was a drunkard, I valued substance and understood appearance  was of not much value.

Characterological Progress

At some point, I got tired of listening to my own excuses, so made a real effort to stop making them.  Instead of complaining about the circumstances into which I was born, I recall that I asked God, who transcends time/space (both are made of the same stuff and are part of the created order – duh, people), to give me just what I was born with.  I could no longer whinge about never having asked to be born, etc., blah, blah, blah.  Turned out to be a fairly effective strategy, and one I recommend.

Facing and taking inventory of my own ugly truths has at various times proved transformative.  Of course, if that’s the only transformation one experiences, one’s experience of life, self, humanity, soul, or whatever is pretty truncated.

Reading

I’ve kept learning.  Even as a drunkard, I read every day.  I’ve never stopped reading.  Early on sobriety, I read a lot of AA literature – the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, also 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.  Both are worth reading.  Periodically, I’ve reread them over the years and have found the insights contained in them are still helpful.  I don’t reckon either of these books should be included in the canon of scripture.  I’ve heard religious professionals refer dismissively to the approach Alcoholics Anonymous takes to the problem of self-and-other-destructive use of alcoholic drinks and, by extension, other mind and mood altering substances.  I think therapeutic deism is a reasonable description and find no reason to limit its use to the pejorative.  In addition to AA literature, I continued to read novels, biographies, histories, and anything that interested me.

Imagination and Providence

Most of my life-failures have been failures of imagination, failures of faith, failures to trust God’s goodness and providence.  The former is pretty strange because I’ve got an active imagination.  Perhaps some life experiences contributed to the turning of my imagination to consider and my mind to accept the worst I could imagine as likely outcomes or as already real.  But there was something also about my character or nature that turned my mind in that direction.  The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provide one way to address characterological deficits.

I also returned to the Christianity of my youth and found the God revealed in the Old and New Testaments had been about addressing my characterological deficits for a long time already.  That has continued through the present, and I continue to both welcome and, at times, struggle and inveigh against the will and intervention of The Almighty.

Update

No, I didn’t drink or use today.  We had supper at my mom’s house and she informed me that the date I checked in to rehab was September 14.  Seems I was in a pretty bad state.  I wonder where I got the idea my sobriety dates from mid-October?

Back in the Saddle

Offroad-2

Well, how did I get here?

It’s been awhile

since I’ve had time to do more than ride around the neighborhood in the evenings.  Maybe “Back In The Saddle” is overstating, but riding more than 3.3 miles at a time feels significant.  Yesterday, I got in about 70 minutes riding at an exertion level I’d characterize as high, then about 30 minutes of moderate effort and 15 minutes of easy pedaling.  Today, I rode about 61 minutes.  My average mph today was just under 16; yesterday’s, just over 15.  These averages are on a par with my speeds on the Miyata 610 when I am in pretty good condition, but I was riding the Jamis Supernova.

Today probably marks 50 to 60 miles with the Origin8 Gary2 handlebars; the 7th or 8th time I’ve ridden the Continental Tour Ride tires.  They feel like crap.  They feel heavy and slow on pavement, so I was surprised that my average speeds were as high as they were.  Yesterday’s ride included about two-and-a-half miles of unplanned offroad and dirt road riding, so I feel pretty good about that overall average of 15.03.

Truth is, I felt a little like crap yesterday, too.  Fat, heavy, sluggish after two or three weeks of no-time-to-ride and Halloween candy.  Oh yeah, and a beard, too.  For November, I’m growing a beard.  It’s got a date with Norelco or my barber come December, but for now, I’m letting it grow.  No one can really see you when you’re wearing a beard, just like no one can really see you when you’re wearing cycling kit and helmet.  Just one more generic cyclist on the road, unrecognizable as an individual.  So I felt okay about wearing cycling togs and going for a ride.

Today, I felt less like crap, and rode faster, too.  This time, the ride was pavement-only.

Thoughts About Riding a Lightweight Bike

Compared to the Miyata 610, which probably weighs close to 30 pounds rigged with saddlebag, rack, and water-bottle, the 2007 Jamis Supernova feels super-light at maybe 20 pounds?  More weight with the Continental Tour Ride tires, though.  Still, carbon seatstays, carbon fork, carbon seatpost, carbon headset spacers, triple-butted aluminum frame, aluminum handlebars – the bike feels flimsy.  It gets blown around a good deal in side winds, and feels like it may have trouble powering through a headwind.  Still, it’s only the side-winds that have so far been a problem to handle.

Today's Offroad Segment

Origin8 Gary2 Handlebars

Yesterday, on a dirt road, now degraded to little more than a dirt path, I hit a patch of broken cinderblock and stone at about 12 or 13 miles per hour.  The building materials had been used at one time to fill in a shallow ditch running through a treeline.  I didn’t see it until I was upon it and too late to brake so just pedaled across the jagged, uneven surface.  Thought I would for sure come to grief, but the bike withstood the abuse and I didn’t break stride.  You can see the place in the image above – it’s at the point I entered the trees just before the sharp left turn.

The Gary2 bars’ angle at the bar ends feels a little like I’m witching for water with the front fork and wheel instead of steering.  What that means is they feel a little squirrely on pavement.  When I hit that unexpected rough patch yesterday, though, they were rock-solid stable.  They are great offroad handlebars, much better than I thought they would be given their reputation as knock-offs of the On One Midge which is, itself, a knock-off of the Salsa Woodchipper, which, according to the Internet collective mind, owes much to the WTB Mountain Drops.

Up until the point marked as Mile 14, I knew exactly where I was headed.  The rest of that ride through the scrubby woods was just guesswork.  The Continental Tour Ride tires never once lost their grip, in fact, the bike as configured, was a joy to ride offroad across fields and on dirt roads.  What I’m having trouble getting used to are the bike’s on-road characteristics, but it shows promise.

Here are some more photos from yesterday’s ride – click on them for bigger images:

Jamis-Supernova-Burning-Bush-BSUBurnt-Down-BarnBurned Barn & Building

Cinderblock-DerelictOpen-Gate-Not-Posted

Offroad-1Dry-Creek-CrossingBack-to-Pavement

Community Service Work

A scenic stretch of road for trash pick-up

A scenic stretch of road for trash pick-up

I like doing community service work and, for the record, have never been court or otherwise ordered to it.  One of the things I like best about my membership in the local bicycle club is that it gives me the opportunity to serve the community by participating in various projects.  Sunday, I got to spend the afternoon cleaning up roadside trash along a picturesque highway just outside of town.  Sure, I got my foot wet with muddy ditchwater and skewered one of my hands with thorns, but it did me good to get outside and do a little work.  I would say that 90 percent of the trash I picked up was food and beverage containers – the contents go into the motorist’s mouths and the bottles, cans, and wrappers go out the car windows.

It was pretty out there, and here are a couple of pictures.  Click on them to see full-sized images.

Cornfield recently combined

Cornfield recently combined

Barns in the distance - same cornfield seen over the hedge

Barns in the distance – same cornfield seen over the hedge

Fence, tree, and cornfield

Fence, tree, and cornfield

A Cold Late Morning Ride

I followed a gravel road through a vacant lot toward the railroad tracks.  The road ended behind an envelope factory - you can see rail cars through the brush.

I followed a gravel road through a vacant lot toward the railroad tracks. The road ended behind an envelope factory – you can see rail cars through the brush.

Late this morning I rode through Stepford’s alleys, old neighborhoods, commercial developments, and industrial waste places.  I needed exercise and wanted to test ride the Gary 2 bars with level drops.  Stupidly, at ten o’clock I forgot to bring along a Larabar or something else to eat, so I only rode about 15 miles on a bowl of oatmeal and 15 or 20 grapes eaten much earlier in the morning.  It was cold today, compared to the temperatures we’ve been enjoying here in Southern Middle Tennessee – about 36 degrees, Fahrenheit, and windy, during my ride.  I only took three pictures today because I’ve previously photographed most of the other interesting sights along my route.

Although the bars look strange and the levers oddly placed, this arrangement is for me more comfortable than the more typically road-bikish bar tilt I started with.  The right shift lever didn’t respond every time to downshifts into harder gears.  I’m not sure whether that’s because I couldn’t feel what I was doing while wearing insulated full-finger gloves, or because the longer cabling required to reach the levers on these bars results in slacker shifting.  Maybe something to correct with a simple adjustment.

I think I’m growing to hate the Continental Tour Ride tires on normal pavement, but they excel on muddy, gravely hardpacked surfaces, grass, and bad pavement.

Here's where the pavement ended today.

Here’s where the pavement ended today.

Leveled the Drops

Thursday evening, I had a little time to ride the Supernova with the Gary 2 bars around the neighborhood – maybe nine miles.  I found I didn’t like riding the drops, but they were not completely level.  Instead, I was comfortable riding the portion of the bars just behind the hoods.  I could reach and operate the levers from the hooks, and the drops were fine bombing down a couple of hills.

This morning, I leveled the drops and rode the bike around my yard a couple of times to see whether that would work.  It worked fine, felt right, and I was able to reach and operate the levers from the hooks, was able also to ride the hoods, the bar tops, the portion of the bars just behind the hoods.

The Gary 2 bars are not Sakae Randonneur bars, but I think I will like them.  Right now, the problem with them is that they required longer cable housing, and it looks pretty sloppy on the bike.  Zip-ties?  Wrap them up in the bar tape?  Dunno yet.

Supernova-Leveled-Gary-2-Bars-1

Supernova-Leveled-Gary-2-Bars-Top