Magellan Cyclo 505–First Report

Gary-2-Cyclo-505

Why the Expense?

For all of the reasons I outlined in a previous post, I’ve tried to find a GPS cycling computer with maps that will serve to keep track of my rides and help me keep from getting lost when riding country roads as well as when riding a geographically convenient maze of offroad trails, gravel roads, and overgrown tracks.  To recap, as opposed to the Iphone, such a unit requires no purchase of a data-plan subscription; It’s a one-time purchase.  I first tried a Magellan Explorist 710 with built-in camera, topo maps, city maps, etc.  The used unit I purchased was unhandy for use as a cycling computer and also had a weird power-off fault when connected to a Mac or PC.  I wound up sending it back for refund.

Features, Features – Some I Like, Some I Don’t Care About

After a while, during which time I haphazardly read up on Garmin and Magellan cycling specific GPS units, I decided the Garmin units were stupid-expensive.  I decided I would get a Magellan Cyclo 315 unit when I could get a good deal on one and was waiting until I felt I could reasonably justify the expense before buying.  Bike Tires Direct, however, offered a deal on the more expensive Cyclo 505 that beat even the cheapest price I could at the time find on the Cyclo 315.  As to features, those I liked that the Explorist 730 and both Cyclo models have in common were pre-loaded maps, the ability to add other maps, and IPX7 water-resistance.  A feature the 505 has that I wasn’t sure about is WiFi connectivity.

Some of the features the Cyclo 505 has that I could not possibly care less about are Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and the means therewith to control the telephones musical play list; Shimano Di2 shift information or compatibility, power meter connectivity, heart-rate sensor connectivity, or speed/cadence connectivity.  The unit’s basic GPS speedometer capability is fine with me.  So, the unit I got was the basic 505 without all the extra sensors and whatnots I didn’t want to be bothered with.  Remember, the only reason I bought the 505 is because it was cheaper than the 315.

A Day Late!

BTD shipped the unit UPS-ground, and it arrived a day later than originally forecast.  The UPS website reported arrival time had to be recalculated.  I think some doofus misplaced my order in a Kentucky or Ohio redistribution point.  Here’s what was in the box:

Cyclo-505-Box

Cyclo-505-Box-Contents-1

Cyclo-505-Box-Contents-2

The manual says to charge the unit before starting it up, but I monkeyed around with it, anyway.  It fired right up after a few seconds – Magellan splash screen, then black screen for two seconds, then another status screen that shows what appears to be a wheel with holes in it spinning to indicate the device is loading the OS, then the main screen with options.  The options are all pretty self-explanatory.  I entered the home address, also set up a couple of profiles.  If you haven’t got all those sensors that are compatible with the unit, turn off the functions in profile-edit or you’ll get a blinking rebus at the top of the screen in line with display of time and other indicators.  I connected the unit wirelessly to my home network without trouble.

Profiles are categorized by type of riding or type of bicycle – City Bike, Mountain Bike, Racing Bike.  Because I don’t race, I’ve set up both my Miyata 610 and my Jamis Supernova under the City Bike Category and, obviously, my Bridgestone MB-4 is a Mountain Bike.  The profiles allow for manual input of wheel diameter, or the GPS profile setup subroutine uses (probably) mathematics and code to “automatically” obtain wheel diameter information.  Either that, or the “Automatic” option simply discards the wheel diameter variable.  Who knows, eh?  Profile setup also requires entry of sex, DOB, weight, and weight of bicycle.

Should be Both/And, not Either/Or

This is pretty unlike the Abvio Cyclemeter program I ran on my Iphone (which, for the most part, I liked better than the program running on the Magellan GPS unit).  Cyclemeter allows you to set up routes and to enter bicycle data.  Whether type of riding, however, like road bike, city bike, or mountain bike, is part of the route calculations and seems to have more to do with reckoning calories burned and whether sensed movement counts (because sometimes, on a mountain bike, you might have to ride very slowly, for example) than to do with the bicycle, itself.  Magellan would probably score bonus points if they worked with Abvio to produce a Cyclo operating system using the Magellan maps and GPS unit rather than online maps, as with the Iphone application.

This should be an obvious development strategy – like Reeses marketing a peanut butter and chocolate candy – “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!  No, you got your chocolate on my peanut butter!”  I’d be willing to let them experiment on my GPS unit.  What you’d have, then, would be a GPS unit functional for paddling, running, cycling, automobile, and routing that would allow one to better track performance per route or daily commute time, etc.

Handlebar Mounts

When I rode with my Iphone using Cyclemeter, I always kept the phone in a pocket or seat bag to keep it out of the weather, and because the battery saving screen mode I used was such that I couldn’t see the display the couple of times I mounted the phone on handlebars.  I figured out the primary bar-mount (not the version held on with zip-ties) on the Jamis (my el-cheapo, Craigslist cyclocross bike).  For my first few rides, I mounted the Cyclo 505 over the stem, but for longer rides have mounted it out front, on the left side of the bar, for better visibility when riding.  The close-up of the unit with dimmed screen is a rotated crop from the picture of the Supernova laid over on its non-drive-side in the driveway.  Dimmed and from a distance, the dashboard’s touchscreen buttons are visible.

Cyclo-505-on-JamisCyclo 505 Distant Screen

Jamis-Cyclo,-Etc

Magellan includes one zip-tie handlebar mount that offers two against-the-bar soft foam shim options.  When I first tried mounting it on the Bridgestone, I put the one of the zipties through the wrong hole on the upper, hard-plastic, mounting googin.  So, I wound up having to use white, instead of the Magellan provided black, zip ties to secure the mount.  Magellan only provides one of these zip-tie mounts in the box with the Cyclo unit.  If you’re like me and have so many bikes your wife complains about them, you’ll need to get another.  They’re blessedly expensive – about $17, and can be ordered from Amazon.  I bought one for mounting the unit on the Miyata 610.  The only bike I’ve got with bars thick enough for the “outfront” mount is the Jamis.  Miyata and Bridgestone, 34 and 26 years old, respectively, have bars the tubing of which is of narrower diameter.

Cyclo-505-Bridgestone-MB-4-CockpitCyclo-505-on-Bridgestone-MB-4

When I get around to snapping a few pictures of the Cyclo on the Miyata 610, I’ll replace this sentence with them.

Using the Cyclo 505

The strange circular mount takes some getting used to, but typically twists into place without problem.  I do recommend you not power on the unit until it’s on the bike because the sensitive touch screen will beep or honk (really, a buzz or a “heenk”) at you if your palm presses against it during attachment.

Since getting the Cyclo 505 unit, I’ve taken it on maybe nine rides, incorporating into usual unplanned riding happenstance regimin – quick after work neighborhood rides, riding to another county to pick up my car from the mechanic’s garage, riding on a rainy day with my son using a trailer bike attached to the Bridgestone, a 17-mile trek through rough terrain, broken roads, muddy rutted tracks, gravel, and so forth.  Annoying to me is the multiplicity of confirmation screens – Do you want to record?  Are you sure you want to power off?

Ten rides, as of today.  Last Saturday, I took the unit offroad while riding my Jamis Supernova Dura Ace Craigslist wonder-cyclocross bike through a maze of disused military camp roads that’ve pretty well degraded to vestigially paved tracks, mud and gravel roads, etc.  Regarding the Supernova, I was able to ride that bike anywhere I’ve been able to ride my Bridgestone MB-4.  It’s one stout bike and likely worth what I paid for it, even though I had severe buyer’s remorse early on.

The Cyclo 505 performed well; it was only when I trusted my own somewhat flawed directional sense, knowingly traveling due south but mistaken about where on the reservation that would take me, that I got lost.  I came out of the woods after crashing the bike in a deeper-than-it-looked silty bottomed stream, to a highway I was familiar with but wasn’t expecting to find there.  Using the Cyclo 505, I was able to find my way back to the trail after a couple of highway miles making use of a previously unknown dirt and gravel road.  The out-front mount held the device securely through it all, and the GPS unit withstood bumps, brief immersion, crash, etc.

Does a bike man poop in the woods?  Sometimes, but not that day.  Outdoor urination?  Well, yes, and that afforded me the opportunity to snap a couple of pictures of the Magellan Cyclo 505 on the Jamis.

Jamis-Rough-Ride-Break

The following day, last Sunday, however, while on a ride with my son on a rainy afternoon with temperatures in the low fifties, the Cyclo 505’s screen froze when moving between map screen and the navigation function’s main data screen.  According to the manual, the fix for this is to turn the machine off and then back on again.  It took me about four tenths of a mile to try this because it was only later that I read the manual’s “Troubleshooting” section.  I found that the device returned me to the recorded ride having saved all the data it had acquired before the freeze.  Because I missed part of the ride, though, the saved ride drew a straight line between the point where it froze and the point where I restarted the unit.  Dunno why this happened, but it made me want to send the Cyclo back until I read the manual and figured it must be a known flaw with fix.

So far, I don’t think the Magellan Cyclo 505 is worth anything near full-retail and recommend the reader wait until a factory refurb can be purchased at a fraction of a new unit’s price, or that the reader wait until a new unit can be had for >$100 off retail.  I don’t feel ripped off, but the screen-freeze bothers me.

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.

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

Thunderstorm, Rain, Beginner Trail

This past week, on the day I’d planned to mow, thunderstorms came through Stepford and rain spoiled my planned yardwork.  The clover, oniongrass, bees, and squirrels out there are pretty happy about it.  The robins, less so, as they like to forage after the mowing.  I was pretty angry at first, then suited up in my silly looking MTB kit consisting of Fox red and gray jersey (purchased several years ago for spring and fall kayaking), gray Endura shorts (silly-looking, plain shorts – super comfortable and functional), black Dickies ankle socks (LOVE them), and 10 year old New Balance Eight-Oh-Something trailrunners (easily the best, stiff-soled non-bike specific cycling shoes).  Padded mesh liner shorts underneath, as well as old compression T-shirt (another colder-weather kayaking garment).  Road helmet and cheap crochet-back fingerless road gloves.  Check.  Gatorade in the cage-bottle, random Cliff Bar, Power Bar.  Yup.  Ready to go.

Clothes for MTB ride

Clothes for MTB ride

Bridgestone-MB-4-Onrack

New Balance 806 - dunno how many years old.  Best shoes I own.

New Balance 806 – dunno how many years old. Best shoes I own.

Briefly indecisive and moody about potential safety concerns vis-à-vis thunderstorm, then I decided thunderstorms are not dangerous and set off.

TVA Access Road

First destination was a TVA access road other side of a yellow gate on a dead-end street near a water treatment plant located above a reservoir.  I’d ridden part way down it on the Miyata once, but turned back when probability of a crash became clear to me.  I drove out there and parked by the yellow gate.  While still in the car, I applied bug spray to my exposed skin (it’s bug season in Middle Tennessee).  About a half mile down the road, I turned off to follow a brush and grass covered lane, following it to a point where I stopped, took a swig of Gatorade, and stood still for a couple of minutes.  Buzzing is the sound I heard and focusing my eyes upon the plants growing all around me, I saw that I was surrounded by about a hundred bees.  Thinking they’d soon be attracted to the red sleeves of my jersey and sweet Gatoradey goodness in my water bottle, I slowly and calmly turned around and went back the way I’d come.

Gray-MB-4-Yellow-GateTVA-Road

Then, I rode the rest of the way down the hill.  Not trusting completely in the work I’d done on the Bridgestone’s headset, I descended cautiously downhill as the road’s surface condition became characterized by large holes, deep ruts, wilderness debris.  My top speed, I think, was less than 19 mph.  The bike’s front-end seemed to be holding together pretty well, but I wasn’t sure about it.  I became acquainted with my bike’s need for replacement handgrips, an acquaintance that would renew itself later in the day.  Also brought to my attention during the descent was my need for new pedals when my right foot came off the cheap, plastic platform pedal it was pushing when the bike’s front wheel made contact with the far side of a pot-hole-rut across the path.  Made steering difficult, that whole foot-off-the-pedal incident, but I didn’t cash, then.

At the bottom is fenced and gated pumping station I’ve seen many times from the water, while paddling.  Riding back up the hill was less eventful, even though steep the ascent.  The entire ride was registered less than three miles.

Mountain Bike Trail

My second destination was a group of purpose-designed mountain-bike trails I’d read about online.  Familiar with the location, I drove out there and found the access point without difficulty.  Mine was the only vehicle parked in the gravel lot near the trailhead.   While taking the bike from the rack, I again heard thunder.  The ground and foliage here was wetter than the TVA access area, and it looked like the bike trails were all back in the trees.  Although the information board had a box and plastic case for trail maps, the person tasked with keeping it filled with same had failed to complete that mission.  A notice on the board declared a “Beginner’s Trail” of one mile could be identified by orange markers.  Okay, I’d try that first.  Underneath the information board, I discerned a painted ceramic gnome in repose; it didn’t look like anyone’d been leaving offerings to the idol, which was okay with me.

Bridgestone-MB-4-Trailhead

In the woods was sufficient light to see the path, stupidly narrow, and winding between large and small trees, hard-packed clay soil, shiny smooth roots, rocks, all slick-as-snot from the earlier rainfall.  I seemed to quickly lose the orange path, which I thought would make a good warm-up, and started coping with steepish descents, countless slick roots across the trail, avoiding trees, using the brakes way too much.  I was grateful for any ascent and happy I’d got a set of Velociraptor tires for the bike; the back wheel spun a few times on roots and slippery track, but quickly gripped and never let me down.  My feet during this ride did not come off the pedals because I was more careful to keep them on; still, I’m thinking Sun Ringle ZuZu pedals or the Nashbar knock-off will be needed.  Constant wrist-rattling bumps on the trail reacquainted me with the need for new grips.

Crackling-SkyWoodland-Trail

While riding, I remembered reading that these trails were opened in 2009 and my mountain bike dates from 1989.  The sales catalogue for the Bridgestone MB-4 refers to it as an “almost custom” bike that is almost suitable for racing, as opposed to mere recreational riding.  I thought it might be a good idea to ride this bike on the sorts of mountain bike courses laid out in the late ‘80s.  I remembered reading snippets of reviews of bikes going on about “technical” portions of trails and wondering what that meant.  I also was thinking, “Without these Velociraptor tires, I’d be totally dead, or something.”  Also remember thinking the entire course is probably beginner-grade, super easy trails most nursing mothers would be able to ride with their babies held to the teat with one arm while easily steering with the other, clipped in to pedals and spinning effortlessly through the trails.

Besides having no real confidence in the bike’s headset and steering, what I found most difficult about riding the trail was having to figure out three or four twists ahead what to do by the time I got there.   Average speeds on a road bike are a lot faster, but the decision-making process is slow-motion in comparison to what I think is probably termed ‘singletrack’ riding.  At one point, I came out of the woods under crackling power lines and drank some Gatorade and ate a Cliff Bar.  I took a picture, you can see it above.  I checked the locknut on the headset here, and found it way loose; having no adjustable wrench, finger tightened it.  I had to to that a couple of more times during this ride.  The adjustable race or whatever, though, wasn’t loose at all.

The most annoying thing about riding in the woods was constantly riding through spider webs and not having the time to brush them away.  No time to scratch my head when it itched, and no time to think about taking pictures, although on one totally flat and  nonthreatening section, I did snap a couple.  Too busy trying to stay on my bike and keep pedaling to drink when thirsty was also irksome.  Descending through a left turn with soggy leaves filling a rut at the outer edge, I slid out on the leaves and crashed.  Does a middle aged man cuss in the woods when he crashes?  The spiders, bugs, and trees know.

Thanks to Cyclemeter, I was able to find my way through the maze of trails back to where I’d parked the wagon.  Under seven miles, top speed of 15.83 miles per hour, but average speed of 6.17 mph.   I was happy to see this upon emerging from the woods:

Out-of-the-WoodsVelociraptor

Longer Rides

This week, I’ve taken a couple of longer rides.  The first I’ll call 35 miles, although Cyclemeter indicates it was actually 34.98 – I should’ve ridden around a bit in the neighborhood to round it out before stopping at the house.  The second registered about 23 miles.  Stopped time is traffic lights, checking the map, eating a snack.

From Tuesday’s ride:

June 3 RideI-24-West

From Wednesday’s ride:

June 4 RideMiyata-Stepford-Vista

Two Years on Two Wheels

August two years ago, I bought my first bicycle as an adult after talking with my neighbor, Charles, about bikes.  Got a new Trek Navigator 1 the best uses of which I outgrew pretty quickly.  Still, considering the bikes I was riding when I was nine or ten, the Trek was a technological marvel.  Lately, I’ve been riding the Miyata a lot more than the Razesa.  I like its large frame better, as well as randonneur (probably misspelled) handlebars and placement of the brake levers.  The bike’s a horse – huge, sturdy, heavy.  Almost a year ago last Saturday, 31 August ‘13, I rode to Lynchburg with my friend, Adrian, and his oldest son, Tim, in preparation for the Elk River Century.  Saturday morning, I just rode out to the Lynchburg Lookout Tower, climbed up it, rode over to a friend’s house, then over to my mom’s house for coffee.  My Iphone’s Cyclemeter app failed miserably – it clocked my time but only registered 1.76 miles of my route in my friend’s neighborhood.  The app seems to have recovered and worked fine Monday evening.

Here are a few photographs from Saturday.  I’ve been wanting to get a picture of that church-sign for almost 20 years, and finally did get one; helped that it was near my ride’s goal.  If you’re going to name a church, you better name it good (and hold your mouth right while you’re doing it)…

Head-of-Hurricane-MiyataMiyata-Lookout-SignTower-Stairs

Lynchburg-Lookout-Tower

Left-from-TowerRight-from-Tower

Miyata-From-Above