Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why Do You Ride

It's weeks from the 40th edition of RAGBRAI. I'm having fun preparing for the adventure which has the potential to turn into a sequel for Plans, Trains and Automobiles. It could be called Bicycles, Trains and Automobiles.  I plan to take the train from DC to Omaha, then join Team Skunk and the other 10,000 riders in the start town of Sioux Center, IA. The ride will take 7 days to reach Clinton on the opposite side of Iowa.

On the other side of the world in Korea, my buddy Dan went for a ride and was inspired to write a terrific tale about why he rides his bicycle. I like his reasons for riding. I also love to ride to get lost although bonus miles on a brevet aren't always fun. I love the adventure. Mostly I love riding and you realize that you are smiling for no reason. Riding makes me smile.

Check out Dan's post Bugs in My Teeth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frozen Seatpost

 If you ride enough brevets, you and your equipment are going to get wet. Especially if your bicycle is named for a species of salmon such as the Coho. Eventually water makes its way into every crevice including your frame. This is not an issue with proper preventative maintenance. Part of the recommended bicycle repair schedule is removing the seatpost from the down tube and applying lubrication. A coating of grease forms a seal that helps prevent water entering the down tube.

Unfortunately, a bond is formed when water reacts with a steel frame and an aluminum seatpost forming aluminum oxide. This bond makes removing the seatpost very difficult. One way to remove a frozen seatpost is to dissolve the aluminum oxide with ammonia. 

1. Remove the crankset and bottom bracket. 

2. Use a funnel and carefully pour ammonia into downtube and let it sit overnight to allow the ammonia to penetrate all the way through the downtube.

3. Flip the bike over, grab your saddle with both hands and twist. This is very difficult and took every bit of strength. Eventually, the seatpost will budge a very small amount. 

Prevention is far more simple than this solution. If you are stuck, the Sheldon Brown site has a comprehensive article about removing a stuck seatpost. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cycling at the Beach

Riding in Virginia Beach is down right dangerous. It's due to a combination of ignorant citizens and poor city planning. The city council pretends to hear about crimes against, and the accidents involving bicyclists however, little is done.

As I write this, the Tidewater Bicycle Association is speaking to the city council about safety along Shore Drive. Since living here, I often hear of stories of cyclists (and pedestrians) killed along Shore Drive. A riding buddy broke his neck when t-boned by a lady who didn't see him. He had the right of way. She was never charged.

The Tidewater Bicycle Association has a reward for information about an accident in early May:
Dunham was seriously injured in the incident, which police are investigating as felony hit-and-run. The circumstances are not clear, police said, but a witness described a possible suspect vehicle as a blue truck.
This morning I was stunned when I read this article about thumb tacks on the road at every intersection in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach on Saturday morning. Pungo is (was) one of the safest areas to ride in the area.

I've been a little skittish about riding around Virginia Beach for a few years after being run off the road by a large truck with a 2 foot lift. I've been thinking, why in the world does Bobke talk about carrying a bazooka in the Road ID commercial? Question answered.

See you on the road.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


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A short rest on the way up.

On Saturday we headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway. To get up there we rode along the rolling hills on Rock Fish Valley Highway through Nellysford, VA. The goal was to get away from the flatland and ride some hills. We headed up the Reeds Gap and its 15% grades. SHEESH, mission complete.

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The grades were difficult on the way up and pretty much frightening on the way back down.

I took a couple novice flatland rider with me on the trip and we had a great time.
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As we approached the climb, I noticed we were a rider short and pulled over at a gas station to wait and refuel the water bottles before the real climbing. 15 minutes later, he came up saying he had a flat. Ryan kept stopping to inflate the tire because he wasn't sure how to replace the tube. No problem, we'll give you a class right here. We got the new tube but it wouldn't hold air. So, he also received a class on patching a tube. A little over an hour later, we headed up the hill.

Ryan was riding well but the steep grades proved to be a little much. He stopped to rest and couldn't get on the bicycle. He almost fell over a couple times and I was concerned for his safety and told him to walk up to a flat area ahead at the Wintergreen Ski Resort. After a short rest we headed they headed up the hill. I took a short detour and chased them up. Then it happened.

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We watched as Ryan's momentum slowed with each pedal stroke until he was hardly moving. He unclipped the wrong foot and fell. Laying on the side of the road with his feet and bicycle straight in the air. In between laughing and trying to stop without falling myself, I managed to get a photo of the spectacle.

After the descent, Ryan mentioned he was having shifting problems. I noticed he bent his hanger and derailleur in the fall. It looked like he could make it the 14 miles back to the car. When we pulled out of the parking lot, he fell again. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought he was the biggest klutz, a member of the Bad News Bears. But that thought left when I realized what really happened.

As he shifted to an easier gear, the angle of the derailleur sent the chain over the cassette and pulled the derailleur into the spokes, stopping him dead in his tracks. His ride was done for the day.

We road back to the car, retrieved Ryan and his dead horse and headed back to the flat land after some BBQ.

Although his first ride in the hills was a chaotic failure, he had a blast and is ready to head back in the near future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tappahannock 200k permanent - Hot, Hot, Hot

The Tappahannock is one of my favorite rides in VA, partly because of the 2-hour drive from my house and partly because it has just enough climbing to keep it interesting. The majority of the route is on narrow 2 lane roads with little traffic.

The first 75 miles flew by with cooler temperatures (read only 90F), a slight breeze and some cloud cover. What a great way to spend the morning!

Unfortunately after leaving the Tappahannock control, the cloud cover lifted (or burned off), and the oven was on. Kim and Keith caught up to me on the road to Sparta. I hung on for ~4 miles but then started getting chills and thought it best to slow down and ride at a sensible pace marking the beginning of a very long afternoon baking errr..riding. A few miles later I found some shade to relax in, drank some water and ate a little.

Eventually I found myself in Sparta. Sounds exciting right? Sparta is a village marked by a post office/gas station. I think the majority of the population was chillaxing outside. They informed me that Kim and Keith had just left. A toothless (for real) fellow had a bag of ice that Keith left and was about to take it to his cooler. He was kind enough to ask if I wanted it. I left little doubt as to my need at the moment.

I had been thinking about ice socks for the previous ten miles and this gave me the opportunity to give it a try. I filled a tube sock with ice and placed it around my nape under the jersey. Not sure how much this helped the next 20 miles but it was worth it to have something feel cool. Dr. Lim formerly of Garmin now with Lance says it works so why not give it a try.

I was sitting on a bench having a beverage and some nuts outside the 111 mile control when Ron and Tom arrived and talked me into riding the final leg with them. Sure, why not. I felt great until the last 4-5 miles. I drank too much water and felt nauseous but needed to eat to avoid the monster. In the words of Jon Pasch, “Bro, this is not good.” I pushed onward making it to the final control.


What a great way to spend a summer day. Riding a bicycle through the beautiful country side.

I enjoyed the permanent version of this route. The finish is different than the brevet version.

This will be a great October-November route.

Stay tuned, the adventure is not over…not even close!

Tom, Ron and I went to the Waffle House before venturing back home and had some grease to top off our empty fuel tanks. Once on the road I was good until I approached Williamsburg, VA. My automobile became Apollo 11. In indicator told me to check my breaks, next the ABS light went on. A few more miles and the dash lights went out. A few more miles and the headlights, dash, and air were all off. I pulled over and coasted up the exit ramp near Toano, VA. I called for a tow to a service station that would open on Sunday AM and got a hotel down the road.

I was standing out front of the service station when they opened on Sunday AM. They got to work on the vehicle. The battery was dead (ya think?). They told me nothing was wrong with the alternator. Hummm, truthfully I think they didn’t want to replace the bad alternator. Somehow I drove home. The car just spent the day at the dealer getting a new super expensive alternator.

Conspiracy theory:

  1. Car paid off on June 1.
  2. The title arrived in the mail last week.
  3. There must be a self-destruct sequence programmed into a chip somewhere in the vehicle. “They” will get their money one way or another.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lollygaging - Morrisville 300k

My take on Saturday’s 2010 Morrisville to Seagrove, NC 300k is a tardy. UMMM, the dog ate my write-up. Oh yea, I don’t have one of those.

We met in the usual place said hi, registered and RBA Al gave a brief to the riders. I started the day feeling strong and hung with the lead pack until Jack Bennett Road a nice little climb that starts with long false flat. I rode most of the way to the next 2 controls solo completing the first 100k feeling great.

I departed Siler City for the short trip to Seagrove with a group of 5 or 6 riders. My legs were still feeling great for about 10—15 miles. After a little pull on Coleridge Road, I lost some horsepower and slowed. Then I slowed some more and maybe even some more. The next 15 miles were a little miserable but mentally I am in the game and knew a rest waited up yonder!

The Seagrove Control came just in time. I refueled my fuel, and topped off the water. The volunteers at the control were a very kind and most importantly they had sun screen. Although as I dawned the lotion, I figured I probably would be jinxing the entire ride with rain.

I tore out of the control on a mission to make up some time. Flying up and down the rolling terrain and zipping around the corners until I mistakenly made a wrong turn onto Trinity Church Road and explored 4 miles of the wrong road. Finally I looked at the odometer and thought, I should be at the corner in Erect. GRRRRR. I’m sure I said a few words that I learned in the Marines and can’t repeat. The bonus miles kinda sapped my motivation and I proceeded to lollygag all the way back to Siler City.

Do you know what that makes me? A lollygagger. (Bull Durham)

To my surprise Ron and Sridhar were sitting in front of the gas station eating some delicious snacks when I arrived. While I was taking care of the logistics at the control, my jinx prediction became a reality with the first of several showers.

Ron, Sridhar and Matt the ROMA RBA rode on and off together until a stop at the Andrews Store. Notable here was the amount of rednecks coming from a nearby concert that kept buzzing our posse. Insert more colorful phraseology here.One stretch of road was lined with fireflies. However, with the lack of visibility and the slippery pavement, the pace became decidedly slow. Ron and I lollygagged to Al’s house sometime before midnight.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Morrisville-Siler City 200k 2010

Saturday marked the traditional the beginning of the NC brevet ‘season.’ This is not entirely the case with the additional offerings being offered on the calendar. Most of the riders had several brevets or permanents under their belt before toeing the line on Saturday. I still like to think of Al’s 200k as the beginning.

As a side note, Coho bicycles were rolling 5 deep on Saturday. I had the opportunity to check out Jerry’s ride with wood fenders and Wes’s with some serious gold flake. Nice machines gentlemen.

While we prepared bicycles in the parking lot and registered for the brevet, the ride actually starts days prior. It reminds me of a show like the Blue Angles. Their show starts before they arrive at an event. Once the logistics are set up, and the planes arrive. Everything they do when they are at a venue is choreographed. On show day, the real show begins. They march out to their F18s in a ceremony. Each member is introduced as they climb in to the cockpit. The ritual continues one by one. On a cue, number 1 plane taxis followed by the rest. Soon they are in the air performing a masterpiece of precision. The crew and pilots spend hundreds of hours preparing for 10 minutes of flying. A brevet is similar in that weeks of preparation go into a single event.

My preparation for the event in the crucial days prior was horrible and it showed within the first 10 miles as my gas tank emptied. A 24 hour post at work Thursday evening left me drained physically. I had poor nutrition on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I could have done a little better on the food part. The biggest mistake the morning of the ride was not fully topping off the liver glycogen. It only takes a few hundred calories to do the trick. I think I had only1 Gu. OOPS.

After dropping from the pack, I decided to just ride and make the best of it but I still wasn’t eating and drinking enough. Sometime before the first control in Snow Camp, I started feeling a little achy all over. I came up with a plan that would change the day for the better. 1. Drink more water. 2. Eat more chow. 3. Get some electrolytes in the system. Shortly after leaving the control, I felt like great and rode strong. Of course that is easy with a nice tailwind.

My second mistake occurred at the Siler City control. Once again, I had an exact plan of what I needed to do and started executing upon arrival. I planned to top off water, grab a sandwich for the road, get card signed and depart. I was held up by the lottery players in the gas station. The NC lottery must have some good pay outs because this happened at every several controls on the Fleche as well. Things went as planned, I thought. I headed back to Snow Camp. When I arrived, I realized I left my card in Siler City. OOPS.

I continued with my plan, topped off water etc. Another rider mentioned he saw it sitting on the ice machine in Siler City. I debated returning to get it for a second but thought I should wait to see if Sridhar grabbed it on the way out. He arrived like Saint Nick with the card. SHWEWW.

Another successful ride with some good lessons learned. Thanks to Sridhar for grabbing my card and to Al for a great route, the sandwich and cold ESB at the finish.

Congrats to Mike D and his accomplishment of 100 straight months of at least 100 miles.