Riding, Weights, Reading, Working

Riding

I have started bicycling again, but not a lot, during the past month. Replaced my really old Clement Xplor USH tires that failed me in fine gravel and grit last June. I’ve gone back to Continental Tour Ride tires for my Jamis, but this time 32 mm width versus the 37 mm Tour Rides I’d installed on the bike back in 2014. My original post about those tires is found here: https://christov10.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/first-ride-continental-tour-ride-tires/ The WordPress post formatting scheme in use now renders intuitive linking a thing of the distant past.

About those tires, though, they were easy to install and I am again able to ride with confidence the degraded tarmac here at Stepford. You will understand that I am cautious when making turns, especially that one at the bottom of my street where I came to grief last June. It’s been several years since really long rides were part of my fitness and fun regime, but I noticed no problematic rolling resistance or heaviness/sluggishness using the new Tour Rides.

Weights

Weightlifting’s been my primary fitness activity for two or three years, now. I have been lifting on the average five to six days a week. I’ve had interesting political and theological discussions with two or three of the people I’ve met while working out in the early a.m. This weekend, I’m taking a break from the gym. I slept in until 7:00 am yesterday morning. Today I got up, as usual, at 4:00 am, drank a cup of coffee, read the news, and decided I’d post something here instead of the chest, shoulders, and triceps workout I had planned.

My workout schedule is typically: Day 1 – Legs and core; Day 2 – Back and biceps; Day 3 – Chest, shoulders, and triceps; Repeat. Some days I will do nothing but cardio using a treadmill, elliptical walker, or lateral walker. If I go too many days without a tiring workout, I get irritable.

We sold our last Volvo, a 2006 XC70, last Fall. I’ve been driving a Honda Accord hybrid sedan since then and that car hasn’t got roof racks. I bought a set of Handi-Racks inflatable roof racks for use with our folding kayaks. Soon as I get the garage organized, I’ll assemble the RZ-96 so my son and I can get some paddling in before the hot weather.

Reading

I’ve still been reading Galaxy’s Edge novels and other military science fiction series. I enjoy reading, probably too much, and read the way most people binge-watch series on Hulu or some other streaming service. But writing about what I read, even though I think a lot about and critically interact with the content – writing about what I read is something that’s hard for me to do. Possibly that’s because I want to intelligently and seriously address insights provoked by and areas of philosophical agreement or disagreement with what I’m reading. And that’s a lot of work.

It’s easier to post clever, flippant responses to news items online or at a social media site than it is to compose a logical critique or review of even a few paragraphs regarding something I’ve just read. For instance, I’ve read Karen Traviss’ Nomad novels – The Best of Us and Mother Death – a couple of times but it took several months for me to finally post a review of the latter at Amazon although it was stuff I’d had in mind for quite a while. Those two novels, by the way, are well worth your time. Here’s an unwieldy link to an Amazon page where you can preview or purchase both titles: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NHNHJR5?searchxofy=true&binding=kindle_edition&ref_=dbs_s_aps_series_rwt_tkin&qid=1648983662&sr=8-1

Working

Because I have some kind of mathematics disability, I’m still working with people instead of information and/or machines. For the past year, I’ve been working at a facility much closer to the house than formerly. My previous drive was a sixty mile round trip each work day. Now it’s about 19 miles round trip. Huge savings in time and fuel. That’s what enables me to get to the gym in the early morning hours before work.

Reformation Day Paddle

Paddling toward Hwy 41-A

NB – photo/caption alignment is unreliable in this version of WordPress editor.

Last Saturday, 31 October 2020, I paddled my new-to-me Long Haul Mark I kayak for the first time. I put in at Estill Springs City Park – an easily accessible primitive launch site – dirt, no real ramp, park where you can. Before leaving the house, I’d already planned to put in and paddle to the right – toward the populated by lake houses banks of Tims Ford Lake and as far as the Loop. I thought the water levels at the lake would be winter-pool low, so didn’t think I’d get far if I paddled up toward the dam at Woods Reservoir.

When I got to the put in, the water level looked sufficiently high to paddle in either direction, but I carried on with my planned route. There was a headwind to paddle against in the direction I chose, but I hoped that would have the wind at my back on my return trip.

Problems

Before getting to the water, I had to solve two new problems. The Long Haul Comfort Seat in the Mark I tends to flip forward – a circumstance that cannot but cause problems when the paddler enters the cockpit. I fixed that by using a small bungie cord. See the photo, below.

This short bungie keeps the seatback from flipping forward

The second problem, and one I should have considered more fully when assembling the kayak Friday, was that I needed to move the rudder pedal assembly forward from where I originally pinned it into place in the middle of the bow keelson’s track. Mark Eckhart, in his instructional video for the MK I assembly, recommends attaching the rudder pedal assembly before the forward frame half is inserted into the hullskin. The reason for this, as I learned, is that the attachment track and the pins that secure the assembly to the track are most easily accessible while the frame half is outside the skin.

Saturday morning, before loading the kayak onto the car, I decided to move the assembly closer to Rib No. 3 because at 5’9-5’10”, my legs might not reach much further forward while underway. Thought it was better to reach the pedals even if slightly uncomfortable than to not reach them at all while on the water.

I almost didn’t get the assembly reattached. I sweated and prayed a good deal but my efforts were ultimately successful. I then adjusted the number of chainlinks for the rudder cables at the carabiner on each rudder pedal. Less annoyingly difficult than what went before.

An older problem long since solved is getting a heavy, wood-framed folding kayak onto a car’s roof rack. Ralph Hoehn suggested this to me years ago. Open the car’s front door, lift the bow end of the kayak and set it on the top of the open door. Then lift the stern end onto the car’s rear crossbar. Then the bow end onto the front crossbar. Make adjustments, secure the kayak, go. Here’s an illustration – bow end on front door, stern end on back crossbar:

Door loading/unloading trick

Immediately after I got underway, I felt the tension in the left rudder pedal give way with a sound that seemed to indicate something’d broken. I got out of the kayak at shoreline and, negotiating the spraydeck’s opening with arms, head, shoulders while using my teeth as a third hand, I counted out the cable links and re-fastened the chain to the left pedal’s carabiner. Nothing had broken, I’d just failed to make secure the connection before I left the house. Thought I had, but was mistaken. Getting that corrected was more difficult than solving my rudder assembly placement earlier in the day.

Paddling Impressions

In an online forum, I noted that I felt weak or out of shape when it came to paddling this kayak for the first time. In the last ten years or so, I haven’t paddled regularly. When my son got old enough to miss me when I was gone all day, I started cycling instead.

Part of the problem was I used an unfamiliar paddle for the first time Saturday, too. I bought a 240 cm Werner Camano paddle from Ebay early last month knowing I’d be getting Mark I.

That’s my Ebay 240 cm Werner Camano paddle

As I think back about it, I would have been better off using my old Eric Renshaw Greenland paddle or even my heavy Aqua-Bound paddle. 240 centimeters is too long for this solo kayak. 230 or 225 would be better for me. The Werner’s a nice paddle. Lightweight, strong. It’ll work for my RZ-96 or even my old Grumman canoe.

Rail bridge foreground and bridge at 41-A

It took me a while to feel like I was equal to paddling, controlling the Mark I. The kayak is 15′ 10″ in length and 28″ wide. The manufacturer’s website says the kayak weighs 69#, but I think that’s without rudder/pedals and the seat. It’s pretty heavy.

After paddling past the rail and highway bridges at 41-A, I found the robotic, ab-crunching torso rotation reliant paddling style that has always got me out and back again even when feeling so worn out that paddling felt like a clumsy, tedious slog.

I do lift weights most days a gym, but the artificial practice of strength training with machines and free weights is crap compared to using my muscles to do real work in the real world. Paddling versus weights – paddling’s better. So’s cycling.

The Long Haul I don’t paddle as fast as I did my old E-68. It’s more immediately stable than the E-68. Because I wasn’t totally comfortable with my connection to the kayak at the rudder pedals or with my knees against the gunwales and also because I wasn’t comfortable with my new paddle, I didn’t try to lean the kayak or do any braces. Maybe next time with a shorter paddle.

All in all, counting breaks for bladder relief (out of sight of any lakehouse residents) and a lunch stop, I was probably on the lake for about four hours. My paddling experience was pretty awful due to being out of shape and out of practice.

Shallow grove

I saw a grove of trees standing in shallow water with oddly shaped trunks. I saw some great blue herons, other birds I couldn’t identify, some turtles. Mossy rocks.

I paddled out to the Loop, then explored a backwater accessed through a tunnel under the highway that leads to Loop Drive, I think it’s called. I passed numerous palatial lake houses. One of them reminded me of the Apple Barn restaurant and shops in Sevierville. On the way back to the put in, I saw a bald eagle. The picture didn’t turn out very well. The bird looked alert and oriented, a beautiful creature.

Estill Springs City Park put in

By the time I got back to Estill Springs City Park I was glad to see the car again. Got some dirt or sand on my back deck – no idea how that happened.

Dirt? No idea how it got there
Inexpertly tied painter knots