Lunchtime Bike Rides

Supernova at Lunch

While it’s not ideal for beachwear-model levels of personal fitness, full-time employment and a positive orientation to family is not entirely incompatible with good health.  Most days, weather permitting (that is, if precipitation’s no more than a gentle mist or drizzle and the temperature is above, say, 50 degrees Fahrenheit), I’ll ride a bike on my lunch break.  My usual course is no more than 3 – 4 miles and doesn’t take very long to ride, depending on headwind and sometimes traffic.  The pictures included in this post are from yesterday’s lunchtime ride.

Lunch Ride Road

Finishing Up and Other Stuff

Fairweather-Ride

In February of 2014, I left a government job in order to complete a Master of Education degree specializing in clinical mental health counseling.  Because I took my coursework piecemeal, as I got my classes paid for by my former employer, when I left the job to address those remaining degree requirements, some of the courses I needed were not available.  It’s taken me until now to complete my degree work.  Other requirements remain to be met in order to obtain licensure, but the degree work is done and I graduated yesterday.

I didn’t walk in the graduation ceremony because I’d left it too late (early March) to reserve a room in a local hotel (mine was a distance-learning course of study) and all the acceptable hotels in that city were fully booked.  What I did, instead, was take a bike ride in the morning through some of Stepford’s better neighborhoods.  My wife and son had gone strawberry picking at a nearby farm, so I had the morning to myself.  In the late morning, I again rode out to the soccer fields across town to watch my son play in the local youth league.  He scored two goals in the game.

Supernova at Soccer Game

Jamis Supernova at Saturday’s soccer game.

Friday before last, 24 April, I finished up my internship at a locked geriatric psychiatry unit in a nearby town’s hospital.  I’d worked there from 5 December 2014 to complete two sections of internship, all that I lacked to complete my degree program.  Oddly enough, the unit has no true mental health counseling program.  Instead, it has social workers who (and they work, constantly) provide any counseling; they are primarily concerned, however, with discharge planning.  While on the unit, where I served a 100 hour practicum during Fall 2014 semester, then carried on, more or less straight through the new year to the end of this semester, I also assisted with discharge planning as well as administering a depression scale for older adults and conducting fairly extensive background interviews with patients and family, as well as facilitating group sessions and providing individual therapy.  Although not initially a fan of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (finding it extremely formulaic), I found that persons whose dementing process had progressed to the point where they cannot tell the day, their age, or even where they are can very frequently respond appropriately and meaningfully to SFBT stimulus queries.

Already, I miss the social workers and nursing staff on the unit – they treated me like a valued colleague and taught me much that will be of use in other work, the patients, the unit’s doctor and the unit’s psychiatrist.  They all contributed to my education in ways I value.  Now the great task is finding remunerative employment and obtaining licensure.

Also, during April, I lost an older cousin to lung cancer, but misread the email detailing his funeral arrangements and missed the service.

During the month of April, I continued to carry on as the Solitary Cyclist of Stepford.  Here are a few of the photos I took on my rides –  a number of these pictures were snapped with my super-cheap cellular flip-phone.  The first row of pictures is from a ride I took through some of Stepford’s older districts, exploring some waste places.

Supernova-Alley-Lean Bike-Lean-No-TrespassBehind-the-Building

This second row is from a ride in the country on the King of Bicycles, my beautiful Miyata 610 – Fairweather.  I asked the octogenarian farmer repairing the barn whether he minded if I took a picture of my bike leaned up against it and he said, half-smiling, “I don’t care.”

Miyata-Old-Barn-LeanMiyata-610-Electric-Fence-&-Pole

The next row of phots is from another ride around lovely Stepford’s largely unknown waste places, this time on the Jamis Supernova.

Jamis-Apache-Grill-LeanGreen-Apache-3-Quarter-JamisRe-Leveled-Drops

Industrial-Road

And finally, from a ride to a scenic spot with the Supernova –

Green-Shady-ViewBronze-Bather-SupernovaFalls-from-Statue

Bronze-Bather-Detail

Saint Valentine’s Day Ride

We had family in from out of state for the weekend.  I bought my wife an Amazon Fire TV box as a Valentine’s Day gift.  The gift of entertainment is one that keeps giving, I guess.  Our Samsung Smart TV lost its ability to connect to our network a long time ago, possibly due to a little kid beating on a Wii game to get bowling pins to fall over, or something like that.

Saturday morning we went to our son’s children’s league basketball game (he scored several goals – he’s good at sports even though my wife and I dislike team sports).  We all went to breakfast/lunch afterwards and over ate.  In the early afternoon, my father-in-law, son, and I went for a bike ride in the neighborhood.  At a nearby middle school, we watched kids practicing softball – my son was fascinated by the catching, throwing, and batting drills. 

After we got home, my son and father-in-law played catch and my son practiced batting in the back yard.  I built a fire outside and made my son a cup of hot chocolate.  Temperatures were in the low fifties and it was a windy day. 

In the late afternoon, I got to take a solo bike ride.  I’m out of shape and probably rode no more than 12 or so miles, but a lot of that was against a strong headwind.  Here in Stepford, there’s a lake by the country club that’s probably spring-fed and impounded by an earthen dam.  I rode out to it, walked my bike through the gate that prevents passage of motor vehicles and down a fairly treacherous and rocky roadbed.  Where it flattened out I got back on the bike and rode to the dam, then through the narrow space between another gate and steel fencepost, then across the dam to the other side.

Once across the dam, I noticed a path off to the right and rode over there.  It descends along where the water that escapes the dam forms a stream with falls, and the path leads to the bottom of the dam in back.  I took some pictures there with my new Optio W30.  Riding back across the dam to the neighborhoods to finish my ride, I crashed into that steel fencepost and banged up my shoulder and knee a little, but was not much hurt.  Then I finished my ride.

Supernova-&-WaterfallWinter-WoodsWooded-Trail

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