2014 Tour de Corn–Part 1

Mr. Badwrench

This year, I started my Tour de Corn sans bicycle having maladjusted the Miyata’s rear derailleur in an attempt to correct a shifting problem. Probably should have taken a picture of the results of my labor, but didn’t think of it until right now. Mr. Badwrench – that’d be me.

Razesa Unsuitable for Longer Rides

The Razesa I’ve found increasingly problematic for longer rides because the ancient Master saddle numbs my genitalia after about 20 miles, the bike’s handlebars are too narrow for my shoulders on longer rides, and the Gimli’s axe-head MKS Lambda pedals don’t work well with stiff-soled cycling shoes I like to wear on longer rides.

Mechanical Intervention

I took the Miyata to Indiana after contacting Michael at Greenway 500 to see if he could address the bike’s problems on the day after my family was scheduled to arrive at the farm. Michael wrote back saying he does not schedule mechanical interventions on Saturdays, his prime retail sales day, but I could take my chances and show up with the bike. The bike might be ready in a few minutes to several hours, depending.

By the time I arrived at Greenway 500, Michael was helping another customer whose mountain bike’s presenting problem was repeated flatting. He treated the condition, in consultation with the bike’s owner – a normal-seeming guy not quite sixty who reminded me of Roman legionnaire – not very tall, but alert and competent-seeming without the overweening arrogance one finds in some ‘elite’ cyclist types.

I didn’t mind waiting, and learned something about mountain bike tires, rims, tubes, rim-tape, spokes, and so forth by paying attention to the conversation.

Michael’d got a couple of new chairs for the shop from Ikea which inspired greater confidence than the worn-out Labrador couch that’d been in the shop for the last couple of years I’d visited. With the exertion of effort with both hands, the rear derailleur was separated from the metal pie-pan spoke protector adjacent the freewheel, followed up by other needed adjustments. Apparently, I’d done the bike’s drive-train no permanent harm. Also got new bar-wrap. The old had been shredded on the left side, where I’d crashed once and the bike had fallen maybe twice. I completely chickened-out in the colors department and went with brown, again. The Salsa tape looks great, though, so I’m happy with my choice.

I don’t think I rode anywhere Saturday, maybe four or five miles? Dunno.

Fat Sunday

Sunday morning we went to church service with the family at the large denominational First Church where my wife and I were married on a cold day about 15 years ago. The old building’s roof fell in, and the congregation has a large, new facility. That Sunday’s program was the church’s Vacation Bible School finale.

Weird Animals

The VBS had acquired it’s material from Group, Inc. – the Weird Animals theme: http://www.group.com/vbs/weird-animals . Each age group from the VBS stood up front, the an adult leader said something about the children’s participation during the previous week, and the children sang a song or two learned during the week. On large video screens all around the auditorium, while the children stood up on the platform in rows to sing their songs, slick music videos for each of the songs played. Bright, flashy colors and a lot of movement from cameras and happy-looking young people, in addition to an overwhelmingly loud audio presence repeatedly derailed my attempts to pay attention to the flesh and blood kids up front in the auditorium. I noticed that no one else seemed to be paying attention to the children up front, either. Kind of a lousy thing to do to the kids. I mentioned my criticisms to my father-in-law afterwards, and he said what I witnessed has become the norm for that congregation – loud audio/visual in addition to frequent “technical difficulties” that are actually operator error. Vis-à-vis speaking about my concerns with the congregation’s pastor, my father-in-law shared a phrase he’d learned from his father, “Might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

Mexico versus Netherlands

We joined another family for lunch after the VBS service at a Mexican restaurant where we were able to watch Mexico v. Netherlands on televisions placed all around the dining area. All of the waiters wore green Mexican national team soccer jerseys. Service was dead slow, but we were able to finish our meal and get on the road before the Orange victory. Predictably, I overate and felt like a fat, hominid slug.

Ride to Farmland


Late Sunday afternoon, I felt I’d sufficiently digested my huge, Mexican meal to get some exercise. Also felt in real need of exercise.

I’ve visited Farmland many times, usually to eat breaded tenderloin sandwich at The Chocolate Moose or buy bulk candy at the General Store, but always I’d got there by car. I decided a long afternoon ride would be just the thing to halt the transformation from Man to Slug I’d begun at lunchtime. Got caught in a thunderstorm cloudburst and waited it out under the eaves of a church building, then rode the rest of the way there.


Have I written lately about how much I enjoy riding chip-and-seal paved country roads? I really like riding them. The American version of cobbled European roads – they are rough and to be endured. They make even poorly paved normal streets seem smooth and finished. Chip-and-seal is what I rode to Farmland, as well as a lot of the other miles I rode during my recent Indiana sojourn.

Farmland Opera House

Eighth Street Opera House, look closely

Farmland was closed for the day by the time I arrived late afternoon/early evening. I rested briefly at a café table outside the Chocolate Moose, leaned my bike up for a picture against the garage door at the General Store (the sign said Open, but the store was Closed), and snapped a couple of other pictures before heading back the way I came. Got a picture Eighth Street (or is it ‘Avenue’) Opera House – look at the picture – it’s a puzzle and if you figure it out, it’ll remind you of a funny song. The woman at the deli counter at what I think was called Jason’s Meat Market – the only business in town open Sunday evening – filled up my water bottle for me.





On the ride back to the house from Farmland, I got bitten by a dog. I’d been chased by three other dogs on the way out, but none got close to catching me, and at least one of the dogs appeared simply to enjoy the contest of speed, bearing on its doggy dial a doggy smile as it ran beside me. The dog that got me was a gray Australian sheep dog with black spots accompanied by a yellow dog of the same breed. I didn’t crash and kept riding, but the damnable cur bit one of my calves, breaking the skin.

I cannot recall the last time I’ve wanted to kill something as badly as I wanted to kill that dog. As I rode, I thought about getting Dr. Walther to accompany me back to the rural trailer from beside which the dogs ran out at me, for a little impromptu vivisection. By the time I got back to the house, though, I had decided to talk it over with my father-in-law to see what he advised. In a recent vocational incarnation, I spent about a year and a half working with a population about half of whom (is ‘whom’ correct here?) qualified for my caseload because they’d failed to control their impulses on a day they should have controlled their impulses.

My father-in-law advised me to contact local law enforcement dispatch to see what they suggested. I did so. The woman who took my call said she would have a sheriff’s department investigator come out and would also send an EMS unit out to have a look at the bite. By the time it was all over, about six shockingly overweight EMS workers (as well as one male of normal weight) came out. They had actually called for an ambulance before coming over to the house which I requested they cancel. Heck, if I could ride the miles back to the house, I could drive myself to Ball Hospital in Muncie if in need of medical treatment. The sheriff’s department investigator was a very normal seeming guy who took my information and said he’d file a report with the state; he said he couldn’t just ride out to the house with me and kill the dog. Although disappointed, I understood that things must be done decently and in order.

Turns out, oddly enough, that the dog’s owner is the daughter of my mother-in-law’s hairdresser. The wound on my calf never festered, although it did bruise pretty badly. I kept it clean and used topical antibiotic. As of this writing, the spot’s still sore if I pinch it, but it seems free of infection. The dog’s owners have quarantined it at the vets, and, since I have not yet suffered material loss, no law suit is currently pending.

Bicycle Shopping Trips

Last Friday

Because I want to determine whether I can incorporate bicycling into my life as something more than a recreational fitness activity but less, much less, than a religion, I decided Friday last to ride the Spanish bike to run errands.  I needed to go to the grocery store, the post office, Penney’s, and speak with a local business owner about a proposed May activity. 

I hooked up the bright, ancient Triplex panniers and rode down into Stepford.  It felt a lot like dressing up in a costume to go somewhere, which is an odd feeling.  The feeling was almost exactly like the first time I put on lycra cycling clothes; in fact, that’s what it still feels like a lot of the time suiting up for a comfortably long ride.  The practicality of the garments outweighs my self-consciousness, as does the fact that when I wear those clothes, I am completely invisible as an individual and can be identified only as Generic Male Cyclist.  Those panniers aren’t invisible, though.  Riding the bike with them in street clothes, helmet, cycling gloves, I become Generic Male Liberal-Looking Grungy-Looking Cyclist.  Still, as long as I’m not easily identifiable beyond that, I’m okay with it.

First to the grocery store, because I wasn’t planning to buy anything that needed to be kept cold and it was the furthest away in the direction of the post office.  Getting the stuff I’d bought into the panniers while balancing the bike was difficult because there was no bike rack at that store.  I put some of what I’d bought on one side and some on the other side, for balance.  At the post office, there was again no rack, so I leaned the Razesa up outside against the entrance, near the cigarette ashtray.  At JC Penney’s, there was again no bike rack, so I leaned the bike up at the entrance and went in.  I wasn’t really worried about anyone stealing the bike because where I live there aren’t many people who ride bikes for anything other than recreation, most people haven’t got bike racks on their cars in order to conveniently carry off bikes they opportunistically steal, and, anyway, bikes in public commercial spaces around here give off a strange vibe that says, “Unsafe,”  “Hippy,” “Driver’s License Revoked for Too Many DUI Arrests,” and other messages that keep the curious at a distance.

At Penney’s, I got a couple pair of cheap, knee-length shorts to replace a couple of pairs I’ve been wearing for the past six or seven years.  I’m a little too fat, now, to fit into them with total comfort at the waist, and they’re stained with paint, grease, grass, sweat, oil, and so forth.  Because I’m hopeful I’ll shed five pounds in the next six months, I won’t throw them out yet, though.  I put one pair of new shorts in one pannier and the other pair in the one on the other side of the bike’s rear wheel.  Balance was easier to achieve this time because I’d parked the bike nose-in resulting in rear-end stability, for some reason I am not interested in working out.  And then back toward the center of town to the local business where I was able to interest the owner in participating in an activity next month.  Here are a couple of pictures from Friday’s ride:


Last Wednesday

The children in my son’s Kindergarten class can earn a Smilefrom his teacher, drawn less horribly in their agendas than the rebus at left, each school day they behave well enough to receive no reprimands.   I’d promised my son that if he could make it five days, from Wednesday to Wednesday (because on Wednesdays they are released at 1:00 pm) with a smiley face each day, I’d take him to a larger city about 45 minutes distant where we could ride our bikes on the riverside greenway and visit a bicycle store.  So, that’s what we did last Wednesday. 

Bored, my son fell asleep in the car on the way, but awakened refreshed on arrival.  I took the Bridgestone and Seventy-Six’s red Huffy Rocket and we rode about three miles up and down the greenway, over some bridges, visited blue port-a-potties (there may be nor correct way to spell that), carrying on a conversation through the plastic walls as we used the toilets, threw bits of pretzel snacks to ducks who ignored them, saw people on an outing from a group home, saw a fresh-looking banana peel in the middle of the paved trail, then, about 50 yards further on, saw half a fresh-looking banana occupying the center of the trail.  We posited a toddler had discarded both items from a stroller not many minutes previously.  My son rode over the banana peel proving that it would not cause his bike to slip.  I was pleased he did not ride over the banana fragment, itself, when he came to it.

Then, we drove to the bike store.  My purpose in making the bike-store trip was to expose my son to cool kids bikes so that my promise to buy him a new bike when he learns to ride without training wheels will seem more real to him.  A motivational exercise, if you will.  Last Fall, he had got to the point where he could ride without the training wheels, but could not yet get started on his own or turn without crashing.  Then I got injured and by the time I was able to run around outside with him, my son had lost confidence and interest.  A few weeks ago, he asked me to put the training wheels back on, and he’s been riding like that since.

My son found a red Specialized bike he liked very well.  I need a pair of pedals and a pair of grips for the Bridgestone, but found nothing there I liked.  I did see again the red aluminum U.S. built 2005 Cannondale R900 that I took for a ride earlier this month.  The shop’s asking $900 for it, what they say they gave in trade on it, but that’s out of my recreational budget at present.  Here’re the bikes my son and I liked:


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)…





Saturday 13 July–Shared Oatmeal, Church, Bicycle Drivetrain Comparison


On Saturday, my son got up early and shared my bowl of oatmeal – two spoons, one bowl – something he has not done since he was just about four.  I usually, and since childhood, dislike sharing, but I didn’t mind a bit; happy he remembered – for about two years, this was our every-morning routine.


Our congregation recently voted to relocate our place of meeting to a former “washateria" – that’s Southern for Laundromat – building near the city’s first large commercial development, now somewhat run-down but in use.  The building we moved in to yesterday is situated on a side-street beside the shopping center and behind an Jetson’s-looking bank building.  It has a great many more square feet than our storefront up the hill and across the tracks, better bathroom facilities, three large rooms that can be used for meetings or classes, a large grassy yard out back that can be used to let the kids run around in or for picnics and cookouts.  Because the building housed two failed restaurants, there is a large kitchen area.  Because the building formerly housed a coin-op laundry, it has a lot of electrical outlets located about chest high around the exterior walls.

Yesterday morning, a number of us met at the old location in a run-down stripmall and loaded up all the few things that we used for our meetings there into a couple of pickup trucks and one box trailer, some cars, and drove with them all about a mile off to the “new” building.  Today we plan to hold our first meeting in the new location.  Still a little rough, but we’ll work on it.

Later:  Because it was or had just been raining when I was ready to go to the meeting, I took the ‘98 and on the way stopped by the old location and stuck a sign in the window saying the congregation has moved and giving directions to the “new” building.  Our first meeting there went pretty well and was well attended.  This seems to be a positive step for us.

Bicycle Drivetrain Comparison

Looking over blog posts here, I realize I have had the Miyata 610 for a little over a year, having purchased it from Old Bikes Belong at Louisville in June of 2012.  I rode the Miyata a lot during our recent Indiana vacation.  The bike’s drivetrain makes a constant sprockety or clicking sound even when the gear has been properly selected and the chain is running securely on front and rear ring/sprocket.  Additionally, the Suntour power shifters make ratcheting sounding and feeling clicks when they are used.  Michael O’Neil of Greenway 500 said the Suntour shifters are famous for their “96 clicks.”

Friday afternoon I drove to a couple of stores looking for 700c inner-tube with Presta valve and returned to the house with it.  I’d already taken off the  Razesa’s front wheel and before removing the tire and tube in order effect repair, I reinflated the tire to determine whether I could locate a leak by hissing or a tire puncture, then set it aside and went for a ride an easy about 15 mile ride on the Miyata.  Next morning I checked and the tire was still inflated, so I put the wheel back on the Razesa.  Later in the day, I pumped up both tires to about 115 psi, which is what they’re rated, and took a 14 mile ride in a different direction from the one I took Friday.

The thing I notice immediately was the Shimano 600 components (rear derailleur, crankset with Biopace rings) and Shimano Sora front derailleur seemed completely silent compared to the Miyata’s Suntour group.  Sure, the Razesa’s components are a hodgepodge of 1985 and later parts and the Miyata’s all original dating from 1981, but what a difference.  Nevertheless, there is something I like about the Miyata’s Suntour clicking that reminds me of the mother’s-womblike comfort I experience when driving or riding in noisy diesel vehicles, most notably the 1979 four-speed VW Rabbit coupe I drove cross-country in the early 1990’s.

Indiana Tour de Corn 2013


For the second year running, I took a bicycle with me on our annual trip to visit my wife’s family in rural Indiana.  I also piled paddling gear in the car, too, but the weather forecast indicated cooler temperatures and a good deal of rain which contraindicated much likelihood my wife would herself or would allow our boy to accompany me on a river float in the 17’ aluminum canoe named Caution-Lady.  Although I’m not certain my paddling days are over, I have spent a great many more pedaling since buying my first adult bike a couple of years ago.

This year, as I mentioned in the previous post, I have a much better grasp of the rural geography of the environs around my wife’s family home.  Additionally, this year, I have an Apple Iphone – one of the cheap 8 gig devices my wireless provider was giving away last winter to spur data-plan sales, but still way cooler than the flip-phone I’d had for seven or so years.  Even though Apple Maps don’t always work, they’d suffice to keep me from getting totally lost like I did last year.  In addition to the Iphone’s Apple Maps, I’ve got a paid app, Cyclemeter, that usefully tracks distance, speed, elevation, ascent, descent, calories burned, and has a pretty good map feature, all using the phone’s GPS.  Sure, it’s a spy in my seatbag, but if it makes me mad, I can destroy it by emptying a clip into it.  Practically speaking, however, I am not at present too freaked out about it.

Indiana by Counties

The Razesa had a flat the morning we left Stepford, so I took the Miyata, a bike I generally only ride in fair weather; in fact, I’ve pretty well named the bike Fairweather.  As noted elsewhere, the Miyata is a 610 touring model – a mid-range bike manufactured in 1981.  It has a complete Suntour grupo with stem-shift “Power Shifters” that have a ratcheting feel to them as they are used to index-shift.  All though Rivendell claims their downtube shift levers (which replaced the Simplex shifters on my Razesa) are better than the Suntour Power Shifters, that is mere sales puffing as the Rivendell product is inferior in terms of feel and accuracy. 

Although mostly original, the Miyata’s factory saddle was long since lost by the time I purchased the bike from Mike Carroll of Old Bikes Belong.  The day I bought the bike, Mike installed a Selle Italia saddle racing saddle I’d brought along, but it proved unsatisfactory and I quickly replaced it with a hideous red and black mountain-bike saddle.  Although strangely ugly, the newer saddle quickly became less visually disturbing because I noticed the red trim matched the Dia Compe center-pull brake’s red trim.


Regarding the name, Fairweather, it was one of a fictional monk’s five friends, as I recall from a novel I read for a Church History class in seminary back in the 1990’s.  Fairweather and Tune were a pair of snakes that, if I recall this correctly, shared the monk’s hermitage until, in an act of penitence, the man banished so he could bear his guilt alone.  None of that has anything to do with the fact that I generally try to ride the Miyata in fair weather – I’m trying to keep it in as near-new condition as possible yet still ride it regularly.   A few weeks ago on a short ride in the area around my house, I did get caught riding the Miyata in a thunderstorm, so got over worry about getting the bike wet and dirty.

My father-in-law thinks Tennessee’s rural scenery has “the Wow Factor” in spades, but I am of the opinion that Indiana’s farmland is no less beautiful.  I think Jim’s so used to his surroundings that he does not “feel” the Wow to a conscious degree any longer.  I’ve taken rides for six of the nine days spent at the farm but have taken fewer pictures while riding than I did last year.  This is in part due to my reliance upon the Iphone as my primary camera (although I took the Pentax with me on Monday 1 July with indifferent to bad results). 


Most of my Indiana rides this year have been greater than 30 miles; all but two greater than 20.  I stopped in a couple of times at Greenway 500 Bike Shop – Mike identified the snick-snick sound my bike was making as a worn-out pedal I might make right by the application of grease to its inner workings.  He has a Fuji Cambridge with eight-speed internally geared rear hub and dynamo front hub that I coveted.  Mike wouldn’t swap it for the Miyata saying he already had enough old bikes, but I would have swapped.  I did take the Fuji for a spin and liked it very well.  For $1100, it could have been mine, but the wrath of my wife would also have been mine.

On my first long ride, I stopped in at a gas-station mini market and bought a sausage/cheese/fried-egg biscuit and two quarts of Powerade (not as good as Gatorade, but available at “Two for $2”); on two other occasions, I stopped by the lakeside tent set up by Rob Cline and family – Cave-Baby Smokers, and again purchased and ate sausage/egg and egg/cheese biscuits to fortify my constitution during my travels.  The first day I met Rob and his son, and the following day, Rob and his wife, Holly.  My photos of the Cline family and their smokehouse tent can be seen HERE.  What follows are some of the photos I took while riding rural Indiana – click on a picture for a larger image.





“Early” Morning Saturday Ride

Yesterday morning, I rode a few miles around Uppity and Broke-Down Stepford before the day’s busyness set in.  A warming trend here in this part of Tennessee meant I didn’t wear as much in the way of thermal, fleece, or all-weather neoprene-like garments as lately has been my wont.

Joe Blow IItwinhead

One year and 12 days ago, today, I bought a Topeak Joe Blow II floor pump, and last week, when I tried to air-up the Razesa’s tires, the “twin-head” failed.  According to reviews of the product on Amazon, this is a common problem with these pumps.  Out of warranty, I ordered a replacement part from Todson, Topeak’s replacement parts seller, on Tuesday and got it in Friday’s mail.  It installed easily and worked properly.  Cheaper than buying a new pump, although it would have been better to have a better product to begin with.  With properly inflated tires, the Razesa rode like a different bike.

My goal was to ride more than eight and a half miles and to look at some real estate.  Caution-Lady, my wife, wanted me to look at a house about a mile from our own, and I wanted to take a look at a much older house in a less desirable part of town.  Also, there’s a house in our neighborhood with a very low asking price that may turn out to be the best bargain.  Leaving my house before eight o’clock, I rode past all three houses, stopped and looked at two of them.


The old house in the run-down neighborhood looks like it was built some time between 1920 and 1930 with something simple and pretty in mind that can still be seen after years of neglect.  The years of neglect are worrisome.  If the property can be had for the price of a vacant lot, which may be all the market can bear at present, it might be worth putting right.  The mile-away house has a swimming pool in back, central heating and air, a covered breezeway, and an attached garage.  It seems reasonably priced, but the pool would have to go.  How much does it cost to have an in-ground pool taken out?


Besides looking at houses, I rode along the tracks to a point past where the pavement ends, and rode back through some poorer neighborhoods, finding a trail that cut through to a large middle school near where I live.  I took a couple of pictures on a bluff overlooking the tracks – looking back at the road I took and my shadow. The sun was in the way of taking a photo of the overlook, though.  Had to carry the bike over part of the trail, because I and the bike weren’t prepped for cyclocross.  That said, the Razesa handles fine on chip-and-seal, as well as packed gravel roads and dry dirt roads.  It wouldn’t have done well with the trail mud yesterday, though. 

Elk River Century–50 Mile Ride


Yup, I signed up for the Elk River Century 50-miler.  I’ve only been riding road bikes since about February, so when I signed up a few months ago, I thought this would be the most reasonable ride.  Other routes available were 10, 36, 62, and 100 (hence the name, Century).  For this event I have been preparing by riding hills around Stepford and during my recent Gallatin trip.  Also why Adrian, Tim, and I rode out to Lynchburg last Saturday and why Adrian and I rode in to Lynchburg and back out on the final 14 or so miles of the route last Monday.  While in Bedford County, we paused at Grassland Farm / Alexander Greer House to snap a few photos.  Highland Rim Bicycle Club did a very good job organizing the event and provided a couple of stops for food and drink on the way.

Adrian rode his still nearly new-old-stock 1986 Bianchi Trofeo, and I rode my far less than pristine and now franken-bike 1985 Razesa.  Adrian’s a better athlete than I am, or at any rate, a stronger cyclist.

Here’re the photos from Grassland Farm –



Did I mention that it rained a lot?  I got caught in a cloudburst riding in to the Lynchburg as I approached the square.  I took the two pictures below while still six or so miles from Lynchburg.


Rivendell Silver Shifters

I’d made a hash of removing the cotter pins from the cranks of my Raleigh Sprite (ca. 1973 or 1974), so I requested the assistance of my local independent bike mechanic, Luke.  Since Harris Cyclery had sent me the Rivendell Silver Downtube Shifters I’d ordered, I took the Razesa to him for their installation, as well.  Picked-up the bikes Friday afternoon and tried out the new shifters with a ride over to my mom’s house to surprise her, my wife, and my son.  It’s only about an eight-mile roundtrip, but necessitates driving in some traffic and has one pretty steep downhill on the way out.  They worked flawlessly, but had less “ratchet” feel than I’d expected given the Rivendell’s somewhat florid write-up and comparison to the SunTour Power Shifters (which I have as stem-shifters on the Miyata).  Still, they worked flawlessly.  Luke said the right-side Simplex shifter that was original with the bike was about worn-out.  Eric had told me that it has for some years exhibited a tendency to come loose, and that tendency has in my experience manifested several times when shifting into a lower gear on what are for me challenging hills resulting in the availability of only the highest of the six gears in back.  Now, I will no longer have to carry a stubby flat-head screwdriver when I set out.  Here are some pictures of the Rivendell shifters on the bike:

Rivendell Shifters, ventral aspect

Rivendell Silver dowtube shifters on the Razesa, ventral aspect showing the grip detail.

Rivendell Shifters dorsal aspect

Rivendell Silver Shifters (you can see the little logo with the word, “Silver,” across it)


Another Normandy Bike Ride

Yesterday, my friend Adrian and I rode to Normandy dam and back again.  The day was moderately hot, dry, and a little hazy.  We’d intended to make an early start, but got delayed and left about 11:30 am.

Normandy-Dam-Boat-Ramp Adrian's-Bridgestone-Mtb Looking-Toward-Normandy

We took some pictures at the dam, and Adrian lost his anti-glare glasses after having put them on the rack of his new-to-him 1990’s model Bridgestone MB-6 Trailblazer mountain bike.  We searched for the glasses diligently, but could not find them. 

Normandy-Sky Open-Cafe-Razesa Razesa-&-Normandy-Trailer

On the way back, we stopped and had a quick lunch at the Normandy River Café, but we forgot refill our water bottles there.  Instead of making a longer loop and taking the relatively heavily traveled main highway back to our starting point, we decided to return by the steep, bumpy road down which we rode on the way out to the dam.  Upstream from the distillery, and without a herd of cattle between the spring and the creek, Adrian and I filled our water bottles from the swiftly running water by what I’ve been told is probably a sycamore tree.  I took a couple of swigs, and it tasted better than tap-water, but I was none too confident in its purity, so drank very little of it.


Because I’d failed to follow Gerry’s advice and get the gear-shifting, gear-popping problem tended to, I was unable to ride up the entire hill.  About a third of the way up, I lost momentum when, for about the fifth time, the gear/chain/sprocket-thing popped into a higher gear.

Bike Geometry

Most of the bicycle manufacturer’s websites I’ve visited have charts talking about frame geometry that mention tube lengths.  Lately, when looking at my bikes and photos of bikes, I’ve noticed the shape of the trapezoid made by the frames’ two triangles, and been thinking about wheelbase length, head-tube and fork angles, seat-tube angles, and manner in which all of those together affect a bike’s handling.  Sadly, I lack the math skills to think about these things in a way that facilitates the information’s meaningful communication.  Still, have a look at the angles in the photo below.


Cycling Jersey, Hill, Shoes


Castelli Jersey, new, in bag

Because I liked the idea of zippered rear and three other pockets, as well as having something to wear that doesn’t flap like my overlarge sky-blue and stodgy-looking paddling shirt, last weekend I bought a Castelli bicycling jersey from Sierra Trading Post and it arrived Thursday by least expensive shipping option.  That’s it in the picture above, still in its bag.  I could’ve got it in black and white, and myself tend to like the harlequinesque look, but I preferred the blue.  The jersey isn’t as unflattering on as I thought it would be; I don’t much like the scorpion logo, but do like the little Italian flag on the garment’s right side.  Now the problem is that I can’t wear a cycling jersey without cycling shorts – I’ve placed a Father’s Day request for a pair of them.

Intimidating Hill

Yesterday afternoon I went for a ride and tackled a hill that’s intimidated me since I first rode down it to a small “lake” a few miles from the house.  In the past, I’ve ridden down to the lake, then up and around veering right, then left, up a less steep hill.  Yesterday I rode fast down the zig-zag hill to the lake, then up to my left – and up.  I tried to super inflate my lungs.  In the lowest gear, a sprocket “popped,” then the chain caught a gear and I was able to maintain momentum.  Again a “pop” but the chain caught before I lost momentum, and I kept pedaling.  My thighs hurt on the outsides not far below the hips by the time I’d reached the crest, and I kept going. 


Eventually the road leveled out a bit; I didn’t stop until I got to an industrial building a mile or two further on where I dismounted, drank a little water, and rested for about four minutes.  I snapped a picture of the bicycle, also at rest.  You’ll note, if you look for it, that I’ve clipped the rear light to the rack – the velcro straps included for the purpose of securing the Blackburn Flea lights to seatpost or handlebar are not well-enough made to last more than a few months.  In fact one of them broke the first week I got the lights.  I stopped early yesterday at a computer supply store and bought some Belkin velcro cable-ties, but although they were the correct width and length, they were not suitable for the task.

Cycling Shoes

So far, the very best shoes I’ve found for bicycling are not those specifically manufactured for use while bicycling, but are an old pair of New Balance 806 trail-running shoes I normally use for painting and yard-work.  The soles are stiffer than the New Balance shoes I purchased last year or the year before, but sufficiently flexible that I can feel the pedals through them.  If you’ve got a pair under a bed somewhere, I suggest you get them out and try them.  Here’re a couple of pictures.  My guess is that New Balance no longer makes them like this.  Maybe you can get a pair on Ebay (not my size, those).

NB-806-Heels New-Balance-806