Orbea Starship & Small, Local Hills

Altitude & Speed from 8-1-15 Ride

I stop a lot to take pictures

I took the Orbea out yesterday afternoon and rode a few small, local hills in the vicinity of my neighborhood.  The ride was fairly easy and just under 20 miles.  Magellan Cyclo 550 reports my average speed was 15.8 mph and my fastest 31.2.  Riding along suburban and country roads, one of my eyes is weeping due, I think, to allergies.  More salt water mixing with my sweat and blown back behind me like the windshield of an automobile spritzed by its hood-mounted washers seen from behind while under way.  So much sweat that no one who sees me will wonder, “Why is he crying?  If he feels that way about it, he shouldn’t be riding.”

Spanish-Italian-American

When I started riding roadbikes, I pedaled the Razesa mostly on the small front chainring – about 42 teeth, I think, not 39.  Slowly and heavily I lumbered when riding on the big front ring.  So much so, that I only rarely tried it except when barreling downhill.

Since getting the Orbea, the cranset of which is not compact at 53/39, I’ve made it my goal to ride only the big chainring except during steeper climbs.  A young woman of my acquaintance has a blog entitled something like “Life on the Big Chainring.”  She and her husband race their bikes and are way more serious about cycling than I am, but that title is what inspired me to make the decision to adapt to my bike’s gearing and not worry about trying to find a Campagnolo Record 10-speed compact crank.  The recreational budget savings and hopefully strength and endurance gains I make should be worth whatever pain I endure to realize them.

As for making use of what I’ve got – I’ve taken the MKS Lambda pedals (remember, they’re the ones that resemble Gimli’s axe-head from the Lord of the Rings films) off the Supernova and put them on the Starship.  And what about these science-fiction and space phenomenon bike names, anyway?

The Orbea came with a set of Shimano SPD pedals, and I’d already got an even older pair of SPD pedals from odds-and-ends sale in the neighborhood.  While at Asheville, North Carolina, middle of last month, I bought a set of cleats thinking I’d try out those older pedals with my ancient Shimano SPD cycling shoes.  I threw away the shoes’ hardware with the box long ago, never intending to clip-in.  What I seem to have thrown away in addition to the cleats that came with the shoes were the cleat nuts that go inside the shoe, under the insole.  So, I have ordered some from Amazon.

During yesterday’s ride, I found I was able to ride up hills without too much difficulty and without having to resort to the bailout cog (26, 29 teeth – which is why the deraileur cage is on the long side, I think).  Also, increased pedaling effort seems to result in forward motion more easily than when riding either the Miyata 610 or the Jamis Supernova.  Maybe it is that while riding the Starship, I am more willing to make a greater effort when pedaling?  Possibly.  As the chart at the top of the post indicates, though, I’m not a very fast cyclist on flats or hills.

Some sad news is that I’ll have to sell my Bridgestone MB4 and very likely the Miyata 610 to make room in the garage for my more modern bicycles and to a small extent offset their cost.

Orbea-Starship-&-Signs

Riding Indiana 2015: A Tour de Corn Vacation

Henry-County-Corn-Rows

Not the Tour de Corn ride that’s an annual Missouri event – this Tour de Corn is my own annual vacation activity in East Central Indiana.  Every year my family drives up to Indiana for a visit at the farm and, since 2012, I’ve been taking a bike and riding around the local farmland on chipseal backcountry roads and, lately as the economy has continued to worsen, on roads unpaved that were formerly paved. 

Here are my previous posts about riding through Indiana’s corn and soybean country.  Ordinarily, once I get back to Stepford, I spend a lot of time writing up Indiana ride reports, illustrating them with pictures.  This year, I think I’ll spend only a little time writing a brief narrative framework for the illustrations.  If you click on an image posted here, you’ll be shown a (usually) bigger version of the picture in its own page.

Bike Choice

Because the weather projected for our nine days stay was a good chance of rain every day, and because I remembered how the Miyata, shod with Gatorskins, was not best suited for unpaved and formerly paved surfaces encountered last year, this year I took the Jamis Supernova rain-and-rough-bike with its recently installed Clement X’Plor USH tires

Speaking of the X’Plor USH tires, the people at Clement never did respond to my email about inverted tread patterning.

This year, I noticed I was not taking pictures of things that formerly interested me on previous cycling jaunts.  Some of the novelty of riding through miles and miles of farmland, as well as upon a dedicated Rails to Trails Greenway, has worn off.  This year, in several Indiana counties, gigantic windmills are turning, and I observed them across the state, during my visit.  Their construction was last year responsible for the poor state of some of the farm roads, but it appears that compensation to municipalities for the repair of roads may have been diverted to other uses.  As I said, the worsening economy in the United States has a real effect at ground-level.

Greenway 500 Bike Shop

On the day I rode to Prairie Creek Reservoir, I stopped by Greenway 500 bike shop, near the Medford trailhead of the Cardinal Greenway Trail, to see if Mike had time to diagnose and correct a problem with the Supernova’s Ultegra front derailleur.  Turns out it got a bit bent one of the times I crashed the bike.  While I was there, shop discussion centered on the bad effect large, online retailers have on local bike shops – difficulty selling new bikes, difficulty competing with accessory and garment prices.  One of the other customers in the shop that day talked about a friend who makes a living writing reviews and who receives, as additional benefits, all-expenses-paid travel to annual events showcasing new products, bikes, etc.  The consensus seemed to be that in order to continue writing reviews in exchange for money and products (which the reviewers may get to keep and sell), the reviewer’s likely to turn out little more useful than positive ad-copy.

I don’t feel badly about buying from Nashbar/Performance, Bike Tires Direct, Jenson USA, Amazon, etc., because I don’t have a local bike shop at Stepford.  On the other hand, while riding in the Greater Muncie area, out of deference for the several bike shops in the area, but especially Mike’s, I mostly refrained from wearing my BTD jersey.

Where’d I Go?

This year, I didn’t ride into Muncie for lunch at Chic-Fil-A; I thought it would be a good idea to avoid any Obama-inspired interracial strife in that depressed, formerly industrial, urban locality.  Anyway, I wanted to ride through areas that were new to me, as opposed to repeating what I’d done in prior years.  That said, as far as I know, there were no Obama Race Riots during June/July at Muncie.

I think I rode eight of the nine days we stayed at the farm logging about 239 miles, according to Magellan Cyclo 505.  That works out to just under 30 miles per day.  A lot of riding, for me, not so much for a serious cyclist.  Of course, some days my rides were much longer, and others much shorter.  I rode MKS Lambda pedals wearing 5-10 “Canvas Guide Tennies”, and wore my usual motley collection of lycra cycling attire.  One day the temperature was sufficiently cool that I rode wearing my orange merino wool Kucharik long-sleeve jersey with bib-shorts, and was quite comfortable.  My other Kucharik garment was a “sublimated” bib-short I’d got on sale last year – a satisfactory purchase that compares favorably to the Sugoi bib-shorts I bought back in 2012.

Because temps most days were in the low to mid-seventies, I drank plain water on my rides.  Except the day I forgot my water bottles and realized it about three or four miles into the ride.  Then, I stopped and got bottles of Gatorade at a gas-station, filling one with water at lunch after I’d drunk the original contents. 

Farming Disaster

While the lower temperatures, overcast skies, and occasional rain were a treat for me, the wet conditions this season have been disastrous for many of Indiana’s farmers.  At the farm, there are about a hundred acres that could not be planted with soybeans as intended, as well as many ponded places in the beanfields that had only dried enough for planting while we were visiting.  The corn was mostly small and an unhealthy yellow-green in color.  The fields had been so wet that no side-dressing had been done when we arrived, and by the time we left, only a smaller percentage had been done.  In former times (1950’s ?) the adage had been, “Knee High by the Fourth of July.”  But corn that’s only knee high by the Fourth of July these days indicates the likelihood of a meagre harvest.  By July 4, the corn’s usually more than head-high and a healthy, dark green in color.

Animals

During my rides I saw numerous chipmunks, maybe three rabbits, several red-wing blackbirds, several large sparrow-looking birds, several bright-yellow finches, several cardinals, many geese, a woodpecker, a deer, a small herd of longhorn cattle, one small groundhog, dead possums, dead raccoons, dead field mice, and got chased by five dogs.

Snapshots

Although I took photos every day I rode, many are so similar that I’m only posting snapshots from a few rides.  Here are some of the pictures I took during the week, in rough order:

Summit Lake State Park

This year, thanks to the Magellan Cyclo 505, I was able to find the lake; I wasn’t even close, last year.  Many of the Henry County roads were unpaved, but reasonably well-maintained.  The Clement X’Plor USH tires handled these conditions very well – much better than the Gatorskins did last year while riding the Miyata 610.  Summit Lake State Park has camping areas, regularly scheduled activities, much less boat traffic than Prairie Creek Reservoir, and much more user-friendly beach area, as well as several well-maintained playgrounds.  Nicer, all around, than Prairie Creek Reservoir.

Henry-County-Sign-&-RoadTypical-Henry-County-RoadPuny-Henry-County-Corn

Found-Summit-Lake

Summit-LakeFlooded-State-Park-Road

Lakeside-Trail-1Lakeside-Trail-2Henry-County-Animal

Prairie Creek Reservoir

This year, I only rode out to Prairie Creek Reservoir one time.  I was disappointed not to find Cave Baby Smokers set up for the coming weekend’s triathlon, but my ride was pretty early in the week.  Muncie Sailing Club’s water was on, so I was able to refill one of my water bottles from their pavilion’s spigot.  This year, I noticed that mountain-bike and ATV trails have been opened up around the lake’s western shoreline; maybe I’ll ride them next year.  While at Greenway500 Bike Shop, I meant to buy a set of cleats for Shimano SPD pedals I haven’t tried out, yet.  Also, wanted to buy some cycling togs to replace my aging collection of same – and I like Greenway500 and Dirtway500 kits Mike’s got for sale.  Justifying the expense of new cycling clothes to Caution-Lady, however, was something I didn’t feel like tackling last week.

International-Harvester-BarnMuncie-Sailing-Club-SignSailing-Club-Lighthouse

Lake-Route-House

Richmond & Rain

Welcome-to-Richmond

This year I returned to Richmond for lunch at 5th Street Coffee & Bagels – a long ride and much of it on the Cardinal Greenway trail.  About three miles in to my ride, I realized I hadn’t brought my water bottles with me.  When I got to Losantville, I stopped at the gas station and bought a couple of 28 oz bottles of Gatorade Citrus Cooler and an egg, cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato breakfast wrap.  That breakfast wrap was HUGE and highly recommended for a long ride.  The Gatorade bottles just fit, when I forced them, into the Supernova’s bottle cages.  They were too difficult to pull out and stow back to drink from while riding, not to mention the screw-to-tighten lids, so I drank pretty sparingly.  Had a fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion bagel sandwich at 5th Street Coffee & Bagels. 

Richmond-Coffee-&-Bagels

For this ride, I’d mapped a route at www.ridewithgps.com and exported it as a GPX Track (or some such type of file), then followed the Ride With GPS instructions for installing the file on the Magellan Cyclo 505.  Pretty easy and it worked fine until the last couple of blocks before getting to the coffee shop.  Then it routed me up and down a block here and a block there.  I followed the directions to see what it would do, then got bored with the activity and asked a neighborhood person for directions.  Her directions were accurate and I rode to the coffee shop and ordered lunch.  On the ride back, I got rained on a lot.  Once I accepted the annoyance as unavoidable I found it was not at all uncomfortable and rode without mishap or problem.  My Magellan Cyclo 505 unit, however, had a lot of trouble.  In the rain, it’s touch screen became ENTIRELY unresponsive, and that was an annoyance I was unable to accept.  I was only able to get it to work again after drying the screen with a piece of toilet paper from a trailhead outhouse.  After that, I left the stats screen alone.

Soybeans, corn, and wheat looked better in Wayne County than in the counties further north.

Some of the pictures I liked best from the Indiana trip were from the rainy segment of this ride – I couldn’t get the camera’s lens totally cleared of water drops, but was not able to see in the LCD screen how the water distorted the image.

Almost-to-RichmondGreenway-Bridge-View

Richmond-Greenway-Sculpture

Richmond-Trailhead-View-1Richmond-Trailhead-View-2

Wayne-County-CourthouseRichmond-Old-House-A

Richmond-Old-House-BRichmond-Old-House-C

Rain-Blurred-1Rein-Blurred-2

Rain-Blurred-3Rain-Blurred-4

SoybeansWayne-County-CornWheat-For-Harvest

Tree-TunnelTree-Tunnel-Other-Side

Winchester Ride

This year, instead of riding to Selma, Farmland, Muncie, and getting bad lost in Henry County, I rode out to Winchester, Indiana.  I’ve previously posted snapshots of the county seat’s interesting American Civil War memorial.  That time, I drove through Winchester after buying a canoe in Ohio.  Last week, however, I spent time riding around what turns out to be an attractive small city (about 5000 residents, I think).  I enjoyed riding through the older neighborhoods networked with rough paved alleys.  My approach to Winchester routed me along some of the worst formerly-paved and badly potholed-but-paved roads I’ve seen.  The Supernova with X’Plor USH tires more than compensated for the horrible condition of the roads, though. 

Civil-War-MemorialLet-it-RingCourthouse-Eaves

Tank-LeanMeridian-Street-HouseWestwood-House

Courthouse-SquareGreen-Building-SideStreet

Lost-FarmhouseLost Farmhouse Arial View

Patriot-BarnFarm-GateRibbon-of-Road

LonghornStrataWind-Farm

WindmillWindmill-18094Windmill's-Blades

 

June Rides

Sundial-Thing

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.

Dead-End-ScenicGreen-Tunnel

Tenn-Star-Command-CenterMiyata-Elk-River-BridgePot-County-Courthouse

Why I Will Never Be Mistaken for a Serious Cyclist

It’s a nine-word title, so I’ll try to come up with nine reasons I will never be mistaken for a Serious Cyclist.  While I was out monkeying around on the Razesa yesterday, I met another cyclist pedaling toward me on the road, made eye contact and waved.  I think he acknowledged my greeting with a nod and a wave back.  I thought, “That guy’s a more serious cyclist than I am,” and here’s why:  he rode a newer bike than I’ve got; he had on a bright orange, bike specific jacket; he didn’t have lights or, if I recall this correctly, reflectors on his bike; his bike helmet looked like it cost a hundred bucks. 

As to the relative age of bicycles ridden out in public, I’d guess most people’s bikes are newer than mine.  The Razesa I rode yesterday was made in about 1985.  My other bike, a Miyata, was manufactured in 1981.  Yesterday, I wore my grandfather’s gray, zipper front fleece pullover on top of inexpensive American made fleece cycling tights with polypropylene thermal long underwear underneath (I bought those in the early nineties when I lived in Portland, Oregon).  I did have on a new pair of cycling gloves, a pair of lace-up cycling shoes I bought from REI on sale and some 10 year-old hiking socks.  Like facepalmword, I prefer to wear “whatever” is handy, doesn’t cost too much, make me look like I’m dressed up for a Halloween party, is at least marginally clean or doesn’t stink badly from its most recent use.  Although unlike her, I don’t think most of the gender-specific bike clothes available to me are horrible, even though a lot of it is made for stick-figure boys under the age of 20.  Pushing fifty, I wouldn’t mind being thinner, but don’t expect to find me modeling clothes in a catalogue.  I use blinking USB rechargeable bike lights for visibility on the road; I don’t think that’s something serious cyclists do.  My bike’s got reflectors fore and aft, as well as in the wheel-spokes.  My bike helmet cost $36 on sale at the bike store.

I spent some time thinking about this stuff while I rode around the uppity end of Stepford, yesterday.  Wondering about why I can’t engage in activities like normal people do – buying new stuff, conforming to the attitudes and practices of those engaged in similar activities, and so forth.  This morning, I remembered that when I was a child of I don’t recall what age, my mom gave me a copy of this quote from Henry David Thoreau,

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." 

I thought at the time the statement was an insult or indictment because I was thought not to have kept up with my peers in any number of ways.  Probably at the time, my mother earnestly hoped that I would grow into something recognizably human that would pose little or no threat to others or society.  The fact that I have so turned out is a testimony to the fact that God hears and sometimes answers the prayers of desperate parents, grandparents, and friends.  What I’ve found, regarding that quote, is that when I walk, there are few who can keep pace with me; this is true in other pursuits, as well.  Cycling’s not one of them, however, a lot of people can ride faster and farther than I can ride.

That said, here are some of the reasons I will never be mistaken for a Serious Cyclist:

  1. I ride for the fun of it – to both get exercise and explore my surroundings – it’s monkeying around, sightseeing, and I make up my goals for the ride while I’m riding.
  2. I sometimes ride 3.3 miles around my neighborhood in the evenings after work and still think of that as a bike ride.
  3. 27 miles feels like a longish ride to me.
  4. My average speed, when I’m in shape, is about 15 miles per hour; here lately, my average has been about 14.
  5. My bikes are really old – 28 and 32 years, respectively.
  6. I don’t use clip-in or toe-clip pedals.
  7. I don’t care at all about racing.
  8. I sometimes stop and take pictures of things I see while riding.
  9. I ride through neighborhoods on my routes, not past them, because I like to see what’s in them.

Here’re the stats and map from yesterday’s ride:

Today's RideRoute Map

After Work Neighborhood Ride

When I got home yesterday afternoon, my wife and son were not home; I figured they must have gone grocery shopping.  I doffed my work costume and put on normal clothes, drank some water, ate a handful of trailmix, checked the Razesa’s tires, and rode off feeling like I was playing hookey.

I could have stayed home and done something productive, but I thought a mind-clearing ride was what I wanted.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to ten miles I pedaled around this residential part of town.

The stretches that had formerly been difficult for me were pretty easy, yesterday.  My standard pace has increased markedly.  I continue to be favorably impressed by the combination of Shimano 600 Biopace crankset and MKS Lambda pedals, continue to be favorably impressed with the Razesa road bike.

Last month, I entered a contest to win a new bicycle.  A cycling magazine invited entrants to submit a photo of their current or former bike and 150 word essay or statement explaining persuasively how a new bicycle would change their lives.  But honestly, I don’t think a new bicycle would make me a faster, “better” cyclist or incline me to become an amateur racer.

I guess if I win the contest (and I will probably find out this week), I will have the Razesa in for restoration that includes down-to-bare-metal frame prep for rust removal and painting.  If I don’t win, I’ll just keep riding.  Downtube friction shifters are no longer a source of crash-fear-for-fumbling.

Shimano Biopace & MKS Lambda Pedal Test Drive

Biopace-&-Lambda-Pedal

The Shimano 600 Biopace crankset I bought from Old Bikes Belong arrived last week, so Thursday I dropped off the bike, pedals, and crankset at Luke’s house.  I picked it up yesterday, but didn’t have much chance to ride because my wife was hosting a ladies’ euchre party at our house.  Although I managed to ride around “the block” once, I spent most of the evening playing with Seventy-Six and trying to keep him occupied so he wouldn’t pester my wife for attention.  We had our supper in the sunroom, ran around the yard with a cyalume stick after dark, the boy pestered his mom, we watched a Veggie Tales movie, and so forth.

This morning, I went for a ride.  Not a lot of hills, today, but I covered a lot of ground and took my camera along.  I took some pictures of the bike leaned up against a tree.

DrivetrainRazesa-HandlebarsShimano-600-rear-delrailleurShimano-600-PartsRazesa-Rack-View

My leg muscles worked differently using the off-round chainrings, but by the end of my ride, I was maintaining my pace more easily than I had using the Stronglight crankset’s round rings.  I felt the workout at my inner thighs nearer their, er, ventral aspects than has been the case with other bikes I’ve ridden.  The gears shifted differently and a little smoother than they had with the Stronglight crankset; I’m still getting used to it, but it’s not a problem.

The Razesa’s front wheel quick-release appears to be original.

Front-Release-1Front-Release-2

This morning, I wore a pair of cycling shoes with very stiff soles.  The last couple of times I wore them, they bounced off the pedals each time the bike’s wheels struck some irregularity in the road’s surface.  Today, the shoes bounced on the newly installed, axe-head-looking MKS Lambda pedals, but didn’t come off them.  After a stop, the pedals were easy to find even though the bike-shoes are too stiff to feel much through their soles.  Because the pedals are long, I didn’t have to worry too much about finding them with the balls of my feet, but when I made the effort, it was easy.  By the end of my ride, I had no foot soreness, but it is unclear whether that is due to having worn the bike shoes or to the pedals.  I’d planned to ride again this afternoon with my running shoes, but God sent a thunderstorm to interfere with my plans.  Maybe it’ll quit this evening before it’s too late to ride.

Bike-ShoesPart of my ride took me through an industrial park where I took pictures at a cemetery where I observed a strange offering of money upon the grave marker of one Malinda Rhoton, according to the inscription, once a Faithful Member of a Magic Circle.  Someone had left stacks of quarters on top of the dead woman’s marker.

Citizens-CemeteryCemetery-MarkersRhoton-Money-OfferingIndustrial-Park-View

I also rode past and photographed a memorial on Wattendorf Highway, then later past a tree farm that looked like woods, to me.  After that, I rode home.

Camp-ForrestTree-Farm

Haircut & Crankset

Since the last time I posted, I ordered the Shimano 600 Biopace crankset from Michael at www.oldbikesbelong.com, which, including shipping, was about as cheap as what I’d been seeing on Ebay.  It should arrive sometime today.  I plan to take the Razesa, the axe-head pedals (MSK Lambda), and the crankset over to Luke’s for installation after work.

I’ve scheduled a haircut after work, too.  Usually every month to month-and-a-half I get it cut pretty short because it’s unruly when long.  Last time, for an experiment, I didn’t get my eyebrows trimmed to see if my wife would notice.  She did.  I’m not going to get them trimmed very much today, either.  Heavy eyebrows on my asymmetrical visage bespeak the presence gravitas behind the otherwise undistinguished facade.  Hoping they’ll also reduce by catching the number of falling pollen particles that’ve been finding their way into my eye of late.

Update

The Shimano 600 crankset with (bonus) bottom bracket and Biopace chainrings arrived near the close of business yesterday, and I dropped the bike, with pedals and the aforesaid off at Luke’s yesterday after my haircut.  I’m hoping to hear from him this evening that everything was bolt-onable without too much hassle.