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.

A Year On Two Wheels

In late August, 2011, I bought my wife an Electra Townie single-speed bicycle and myself a Trek Navigator 1 so we could ride together on the streets of our quiet neighborhood.  Surprised and happy was I when my wife immediately took her bicycle for a ride the afternoon I brought it home.  She does not much like exercise activities or the idea of exercise for its own sake.  For my own part, I immediately began to ride the streets of our neighborhood trying to figure out a circuit that would cover every bit of distance without doubling back on itself that included some of the subdivision’s gentle uphill grades.


Just outside the neighborhood there’s a bike path that runs maybe a couple of miles, total, and I pretty soon started riding out on it after making circuit within my subdivision.  Gently rolling hills were at first a challenge, but not for very long.  Regarding the bike path, too many pedestrians upon it for safe travel – they naturally assume it is a sidewalk (although signs declare it a bike path), so I started riding in the street.  But before getting out on the street, I bought a bike helmet – a pumpkin-sized Bell Faction that made me look like Bob Dole (or sillier) in a tanker’s helmet.  Prior to that, I’d been riding around in Stepford Country Club hat my grandfather had had for probably 40 years – with the brim turned up all the way around.  I looked way, way, way cooler in the country-club hat than anybody has ever looked in a bicycle helmet, but the thought of brain injury and the various Rancho Levels decided me in favor the helmet.  I started riding to worship services.

I pedaled all winter in all weathers because a) my skin is pretty much water-proof, and b) I need exercise all year round and much prefer strenuous, outdoor activities for all around fitness and health to those practiced indoors.  I bought some cheap winter cycling tights from Sierra Trading Post, and wore under them the polypropylene long-underwear I purchased a hundred years ago when I lived at Portland, Oregon, and also with some hand-me-down fleece and winter running togs I already had.  With a Planet Bike rear rack and SKS fenders, the Navigator was a great winter ride – with a couple of drawbacks.   First, the so-called comfort seat isn’t really comfortable at all after one gets used to riding – it impedes full leg extension on the downstroke.  Second, the bike fat tires and wide wheels make for a stable, predictable, but generally slow ride.  I got to the point where I wanted to cover longer distances in less time and wanted a larger range of gears.


My friend, Eric, gave me his 1985 mid-range Razesa bike with Esge rack, Triplex panniers, Stronglight crankset (with lock-tight fused on English pedals), Shimano 600 rear derailleur, Weinmann brakes and rims, etc, Simplex downtube shifters, and 12 speeds.  I gave him a kayak I hadn’t been using, although he’d asked nothing in return for the bike.  I’ve changed the bike some, but it is a great bike on which I began taking 15 to 20 mile trips regularly.  I got the bug for a road bike in Selma, Indiana, during the fall/winter months of 2011 when I rode a 1979 or so Raleigh Grand Prix and thought it was pretty cool, even though I didn’t understand how the gears worked.  I’d been unable to ride bikes like that when I was a kid and had a Schwinn Stingray – the gears didn’t make sense to me and I had zero motivation to figure them out since we were all basically ruining our Stingrays to make “moto-cross” bikes out of them with different handlebars, seats, pedals, and so forth.  What a revelation about 40 years later to find that the bikes we’d always termed “derailleurs” were interesting enough to put my mind around and learn to ride.

When you’re new to something, you tend to take advice from people who seem credible.  My neighbor, Charles, a long-time bike guy with a shed full of relatively high-end bicycles, cautioned me against clips and clip-less pedals saying a number of people he knew broken collarbones using them.


One of the problems with the ancient Spanish bike – a bike shop somewhere had loc-tighted English threaded pedals onto French threaded Stronglight crankset, so that when I wanted to use a different set of pedals on the bike, it was impossible because the ones it came with were fused on at the threads.  So, in addition to learning about threading, cranksets, and other oddments, I got a Shimano 600 Biopace crackset so I could use different pedals (Shimano 600 because the bike’s rear derailleur is Shimano 600 and it was what my local mechanic recommended) but the Biopace cranks were just an oddball bonus.  At least that’s how it turned out, in my estimation.  Probably the best thing I did early on was replace the many years old Michelin racing slicks with a set of Continental Gatorskins – a great, puncture resistant tire.


The Razesa’s quill-stem was almost fused or rusted into place, but once it came loose, I was able to raise the handlebars sufficiently that when I was also able to raise the seat, likewise nearly rusted in place, I was able to ride with much greater comfort.  I eventually replaced the goofy-looking and pumpkin-like Bell Faction helmet with a similarly priced, more typically goofy-looking Specialized helmet with better adjustment features.  I bought some bib-shorts and a cycling jersey marked-down at Amazon and Sierra Trading Post, respectively.


Wanting a little bit heavier bike that I could take on long rides that involve camping (if I manage to find suitable racks for it), I bought an even older Miyata 610.  This bike’s frame is larger – maybe 58 centimeters – than the Razesa (56 cm).  I took it for a six or seven mile test ride at Louisville, Kentucky, before buying it.  The bike’s condition, the manufacturer’s attention to detail, and the fact that I’d read about this model bike for a month and a half decided me on it over the Ross Gran Tour of similar vintage with complete curlicue Shimano 600 groupo that the seller, Michael at Old Bikes Belong, also had on hand.

Christov 1

Back in mid-September, when I started writing this post, I’d participated in my first long bike ride.  Long for me was 50 miles of the Highland Rim Bicycle Club’s Elk River Century.  A friend and I signed up for it.  Hills like the land had been accordianed in a car wreck.  That’s me in the picture above riding the Razesa through part of Moore County.  We got rained on hard later in the day.  Back in July I wore the same silly-looking outfit while riding the same bike through Indiana farmland in triple-digit temperatures.  While at the farm, my father-in-law gave me the 1974 or so Raleigh Sprite he’d had in Honolulu (as evidenced by the bicycle license plate hanging from the seat).  It’d been in one of the barns for probably 20 years.  The tires held air when I pumped them up and I rode it around a bit in the drive.  It’s in my garage now, in pieces, awaiting the powder-coater’s attention.  Day before yesterday, Saturday 6 October, I broke out a pair of winter tights and rode about 15 miles through the cold-seeming Fall drizzle on the surface streets of some of Stepford’s more uppity neighborhoods.

Bastille Day at Murfreesboro

All I’d wanted to do Saturday morning, 7/14/12, was get a new set of tires for Thursday, see about trading my wife’s Electra Townie for a Trek 700 at MOAB, and see about warranty replacing the wankelmütig Blackburn Flea bike lights I bought there last September.  Before I left the house, my wife gave me another mission to accomplish at Murfreesboro – go to Hobby Lobby and buy her some scrapbooking paper that looked like a dirty brown covered with soggy Fruity Pebbles kids’ cereal.  I asked her to write down what I was supposed to be looking for because I knew I would not retain the instruction-set.  She did, and asked me to call her from the paper aisle.


I got out of the house about 7:00 a.m., later than I wanted to leave, but early enough to enjoy a beautify sky on the drive from Stepford to the tire store at Pixley.  Also drove past some cornfields that looked a little better for the rain we had the previous week.  At the tire-store, I tried to read a book while I waited, but was distracted by the waiting area’s television that’d been tuned to The Rifleman episodes playing back to back on a cable channel, the volume set un-ignorably high.  Some of those story-lines are pretty harsh by the standards of today’s programming.  My car’s new tires, Yokohama Avid Ascends, are louder than Michelin Harmony’s I’d worn out driving the past four or five years, but grip well, improve handling (over the worn Michelins), and hold air pretty good.  Also, I didn’t have to drive an hour to get them like I would have had to have done in order to get a new set of Michelins.

At Murfreesboro, I found Hobby Lobby on Old Fort Parkway was closed when I arrived.  Instead of waiting around in the parking lot for the kryptonite store to open, I went over to Northern Tools, which had been open since about seven or eight.  I was glad and surprised the store’s bathroom was clean.  I looked at some clear 3M metallic safety glasses that don’t look like the safety goggles I had to wear in Seventh Grade shop-class, thinking they’d be good protection from gnats while riding in the evenings.  I also looked for a bike repair stand, but they had none in stock.  I priced what they could order and ship to my door, so I could compare prices with what M.O.A.B. was selling.

By the time I got done looking around at Northern Tools, Hobby Lobby was open for business.  I still got a parking place close to the door because most of the regular Hobby Lobby shoppers were probably still at Starbucks or eating cinnamon rolls or other sweet, baked things at home.  I went into the store.  I’ve been in this Hobby Lobby store two or three times previously and had each time felt my manly strength quickly sapped away, felt very tired and wanted to lay my head down and sleep for a long time in dreamless oblivion.  That can’t be healthy.  In the past, I tried to buoy my spirits by imagining the container loads of cheaply made Chinese decorative wares as pistol targets, but that didn’t help for long because what right-thinking man would spend a penny of hard-earned money on any of those gimcracks, much less put them in his car and carry them off to some clean, healthful outdoor place shoot them to bits?  Better to leave those horrors in the big-box store and occupy oneself with meaningful pursuits.

Anyway, on Bastille Day I hit upon unintentionally a strategy for coping with effect of kryptonite.  It is this, and I share it with you, brother man, because you need to know it – have a mission, a goal.  Get in and get out, early in the day and quickly, before the store is filled with patchouli oil miasma of two or more hundred artistic women of all ages meandering slowly through the aisles with looks of alert wonder on their pert dials.  At the front desk, I asked a woman in manager’s togs where to find scrapbooking paper. I made my way diagonally and to my right across the store to the far corner in which I’d been told scrapbooking (and, it turns out, stamping) materials had been displayed for purchase.  I passed a normal-seeming, trim woman in yellow T-shirt and blue jeans pushing a shopping cart who appeared to be alert, happy, and at peace in an environment clearly to her liking.

In the corner, I only found packages of paper and other packaged items.  Ranging back a little more, I found the paper aisle, itself.  Along one side, nothing that I can recall beyond racks of paper sold as single sheets.  I was able to find something that approximated the dark brown Fruity Pebbles (see that picture, above, that I linked to on somebody else’s blog), but was not exactly what Caution-Lady had shown me earlier on an Internet scrapbooking paper website.  I telephoned to her, explaining that, instead of random blobs of color, the sheet of paper before me had colored dots arranged in an orderly, grid-like pattern, and that I couldn’t tell whether the background was dark brown or black.  I asked my wife to hold on a second and asked the opinion of the woman in the yellow shirt, who, to my surprise, was also looking at sheets of paper.  She thought the background was black.  I eventually found and bought between 17 and 25 sheets of different patterned and colored paper.  Because it was on sale, it cost maybe $10.37.  Having accomplished my mission, I got out and drove to bike store feeling a lot more like myself than at any other time after having been exposed to the Hobby Lobby environment.


M.O.A.B. was closed when I got there, so I parked in front and walked over to the square because I was getting pretty hungry, and I remember the last time I was at the square on a Saturday morning, there’d been a farmers market where I’d been able to sample cooked food and buy a snack.  I walked straight on from whatever street M.O.A.B.’s on to the square, then followed the smell of cooking meat so I could get some to eat (that rhyme was unintentional, but the statement so true that I left it even though it annoys).  In the photo above, Main Street’s the one that connects with the one I walked in on.


On the way to cooked food, I saw a busker.  I don’t think I’ve seen one since Pioneer Square, Portland, Oregon, during my many recreational visits to the downtown area to buy comic books, used books, and just walk about.  Noah Flanders, pictured with violin beside his father, Robert Flanders, didn’t know Funny Valentine, but at his father’s suggestion played something as well worth hearing.  To the best of my recall, Noah is saving for a trip to Italy in pursuit of his musical interests and studies. 



The meat that was cooking came from the Batey Farms booth where a man and woman were cooking bits of pork sausage for samples and selling frozen packages of same.  The samples were excellent.  On my way back to the car, I bought the last package of Italian sausage they had in stock.  Here’s the farmer’s contact information:

Batey Farms

5104 Baker Road

Murfreesboro, TN 37129

I took a lot of pictures on the square – a couple of other activities were scheduled:  Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) had a reenactment of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid, which is something I know I should look up understand before mentioning it here on my blog, but I haven’t the time this morning; And some kind of Mule Team parade or equestrian show was happening.  I know it was SCA because those’re the initials that were printed on the sleeves of the orange t-shirts of the people cordoning off space needed for the reenactment.

While on a recent Indiana vacation, I photographed a huge and elaborate Civil War memorial.  While on the square at Murfreesboro, I photographed a humbler monument dedicated to the soldiers of the Confederacy.  As with most of the photographs posted here, click on the image in order to view it at full-size.  The people seated around the monument’s base were watching the historical reenactment.


Here are a couple of photos from the reenactment – I didn’t get any good pictures of the cavalry – just these tableaux:


Here are a number of photos from the parade of mule teams and equestrians:




The folks at M.O.A.B. were only willing to give me $150.00 in trade for a bike that cost about $375.00 new at the end of last August, 2011, and now has less than a hundred miles on it.  I called my wife and we decided to keep the bike.  Maybe we’ll sell it someone else for more than M.O.A.B. offered, and maybe we’ll get her a Fuji women’s Absolute (because she prefers the step-through frame).  I did leave the Blackburn Flea lights for warranty replacement.  When I called the store this week, the employee with whom I spoke said the company would replace them, so this coming Saturday, I’ll have to head up there and pick up the new lights.