Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne Ryde

Jayjay and I tried three times to complete a 200K ride in December.  On the first ride, we missed the closing time of an intermediate checkpoint.  On the second ride, we couldn't finish the final 15 miles.  But today, we snagged it.

We waited until the last day of the month, ordered perfect weather (no snow, sleet, or freezing rain, with light winds, bright sunshine, and temperatures above 50°F/10°C), chose an easier route, and were lucky to have two other randos drag us four hours to the finish.

A total of seven randos rode the Tar Heel 200K today.  It was a great day on the bikes.  Here are a few photos.

Monday, December 27, 2010

e-Cue Sheet

I have often pondered an electronic cue sheet.

The Amazon Kindle, version 3 is a good candidate.  It has a large, crisp, monochrome display which looks great in direct sunlight or under an LED headlamp at night.  You can easily enlarge or reduce font size to suit your vision, and display in portrait or landscape orientation.  You can page-forward and backward reasonably while wearing gloves, using the big buttons on the sides.  Battery life is excellent; with the radio modem turned off, its rechargeable batteries last more than a week.  It is lightweight: 10.2 ounces (289.2g).  It supports PDFs, flat files, and several other formats, and they are easily transferable via USB.  And while you will no doubt want to optimize files for the Kindle screen, the photo at left shows an unmodified PDF from an actual 200K RUSA permanent in NC, in a waterproof bag (click to enlarge).

As a bonus, the Kindle 3G model has free internet connectivity via AT&T throughout the US.  Its browser and/or AT&T's service are slow and the tiny keyboard is tedious, but it works.  I have read and sent email, viewed weather radar, browsed Google Maps, and even posted to Facebook while on the road.  With no monthly fee.  (And it can play MP3s as well.)

However, it's not perfect.  It's not waterproof.  It only works in moderate temperatures of 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C).  I don't know how well it will tolerate the bumps and vibrations of extended bicycling.  And it is yet-another thing to prepare and carry and have fail on a ride.

On the other hand, devices like this are getting really close...

Snow Day Refrigerator Cleaning

Do chores when you can't ride your bike: mini-instructable

Do not use a garden hose indoors in winter.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crutch Rack

Old news: I bought a trike at a yard sale during a permanent back in September (original blog post).

New news:  I brought it to my father over Christmas.  He hobbles around on crutches when walking, so I suggested he fabricate a crutch rack for the back.  Think fishing poles and PVC pipe.  I'll post photos when he does it.

Deja vu:  It was weird walking alongside helping him to get the hang of it, since I clearly remember him running alongside me teaching me to ride a two-wheeler as a child.

PS: With the front wheel and saddle removed, the trike fit comfortably inside my Honda Fit.  And still got 40mpg.  What a fine steed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Eclipse and Night People

I set the alarm and slogged outside in the cold early this winter solstice morning to watch an hour of the lunar eclipse. I had a lawn chair, a large blanket wrapped around, and my kerosene railroad lantern underneath as a heater. And a balaclava on top (aka obligatory bike content). I didn't freeze. And I had a nice intermittent view of the eclipse thanks to Swiss cheese holes in the fast-moving cloud cover.

But as soon as I got huddled in my nest, I started hearing unusual sounds. Doors slamming and metal things banging behind my house. Hushed voices from the house next door. Shoes slowly scuffing on the pavement in front. And an old school bus painted blue slowly crawling up the street. I am hoping all my neighbors are astronomy afficiandos. Or maybe they were returning home as the bars closed. Otherwise, I need to pay more attention...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another great training ride

That title is positive spin for "Carthage Coffee Run FAIL". I look happy in the left photo because we had just arrived at the first checkpoint 20 minutes ahead of closing. That's good for us. I was looking forward to increasing that time buffer as we rode onward, but, alas, we remained exactly 20 minutes ahead of closing at every single checkpoint for the rest of the day.

It wasn't the weather. The snow and sleet and rain held off until Torchwood Rd (55mi/88km). It continued alternating from one to the other until the end, but our torsos were mostly warm and tolerable.

It wasn't the new hills. Our beloved route owner has modified the route slightly to avoid a few miles of flatland (ha!), but we managed.

It wasn't the traffic on most of the ride, though drivers got crazy as soon as it started snowing. I've never been honked, buzzed, run off the road, or had as many packs of tailgating cars pass us unsafely in sight of oncoming traffic as much as yesterday.

We were slow from lack of fitness. I've been able to stay barely rando by bike-commuting 2-4 times a week. Unfortunately, I stopped two months ago when I got busy at work and winter arrived.

So when traffic got absolutely nuts on the chicane called New Hill Olive Chapel Rd (107mi/172km) and we had three near misses in the rain, I diverted us onto the Tobacco Trail. FAIL #2. It was a muddy, rutty disaster. We slogged 5 miles (8km) north, struggling to stay upright, then bailed with 12 miles (19km) and less than an hour to go.

I aired a few choice grievances in the yard today (see right photo).

Must squeeze in another attempt. R-21 awaits.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Allez, Allez, Where's my Sleigh?

Last night I sent a note to several randos encouraging them to come ride the Carthage Coffee Run 200K in the freezing cold and rain today with Jayjay and I. "Allez, Allez", I wrote.

Then this morning I overslept. We started riding late. We were both dragging. Sleet was stinging our faces. We didn't make good time. We missed the closing time at Sanford after only 42 miles (68 km).

I called Santa (my wife) to bring the sleigh (my minivan) and take us home.

No more encouraging notes from me...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

RUSA Permanent Locations Map

Check out this Google Map. It shows the locations of all RUSA Permanents by city and state. A tutorial and the live map are here rusa-perms-html on the RUSA website:

The project is presently in has completed a beta test phase. I am asking for corrections to any city/state locations. Please let me know anything that needs to be updated.

The idea for this project germinated earlier this year when I was scheming for a business trip to California. Always the restless multi-tasker, I considered riding a perm while I was there. I searched on the RUSA website which lists perms by state, but the search was tedious because I don't know the locations of most towns in California. I got frustrated and knew we needed an online map. I proposed it to the RUSA movers and shakers, and this is the result.

I didn't get to California, but I'm ready for the next opportunity.

I hope others find it useful too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bikes with Baskets

I love my basket (first photo).  It's really convenient on long rides.  I eat more food when it is in easy reach.  I stash gloves there when I fiddle with a camera or zippers.  I also haul things which I purchase on my commute.  (I pass a new Lowe's!)  It's like a handlebar bag, only more flexible.

I rescued mine from an old beach cruiser bike, after my riding buddy Jayjay raved about enjoying the basket on a bike she borrowed.
Apparently I am not the only one.  I spotted this photo of west coast rando Oliver with a basket (photo 2).  It looks like he is carrying a nice bag in it.

(Thanks to Rando Lynne for her photo of Oliver )

East coast rando Paul has two baskets, one in front and one in back (photo 3).  The original "BasketBoy".  And it looks like bungee cords to hold things in place.  Very nice.

(Thanks to Rando Bill for his photo of Paul )

Best of all, baskets are a perfect place to hang Christmas lights (final photo).  'Tis the season.  Start decorating now.

Update Nov 24, 2011:  Here is another rando bike with basket from Alaska on [MG's blog  With Christmas lights too.  Sweet!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kindness of Strangers

I hit a monster pothole while commuting last week.  It dented the rear rim.  Uh oh, not good.  (click left photo)

The next morning, I asked on the NC rando newsgroup if anyone wanted to sell an old 27" wheel or bike.  Immediately I received four offers and suggestions.  By the next morning, another batch.  People near and far offered to build wheels, to search their sheds for old wheels, or referred me to bikes on Craigslist.  I was amazed.

Offers continued through Sunday afternoon.  Right after I picked up a wheel from Rando Blake (thanks Blake!), I received yet-another offer.  Hard to believe.

Thanks everyone!  I am on the road again (see right photo).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Snaps of the commute

Fun with traffic lights
I encountered this traffic light at Corwnallis and Alston in RTP this morning. One of the two policemen directing traffic told me that something had hit the center light fixture and knocked it to face the wrong street. As a result, the trio of lights alternated between red-green-red and green-red-green.

You never know what you'll see.

PS: Note to self: adjust camera's clock for standard time before the next perm...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pamplona 200K?

I wouldn't ride my bike through streets with stampeding bulls.

I ride with careless car drivers.

A local bike instructor was killed in a bike-car wreck last year.  A rando up in DC was killed in June.  Now a local rando got thrown by a dreaded right hook (thankfully he will be fine).

I think I am in the 'honeymoon' period of road cycling, after four years of commuting and two years as a rando.  I am completely comfortable riding with cars.  No wrecks.  No falls.  No fear.

Must be vigilant...

Photo credit:  Pamplona Book Festival

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Motorcyclist Wave

Ever notice the nonchalant little sideways gesture used by motorcyclists to greet each other?  Ever wave at an oncoming motorcyclist that way?

I've been doing it the last few months.  I'm amazed at the positive reaction.  They always wave back.  They always turn and look at me.  Some do a double-take first, but they always smile.

Who knows, maybe they think I have a hog in the garage.  I just think it's friendly.

(Photo credit: link)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fast Flow Technology

There's nothing like bad weather to improve one's preparedness.  Jayjay and I rode the new RUSA Carthage Coffee Run 200k today.  Neither of us checked the weather forecast recently, and neither brought any rain gear or extra warm clothing.  Imagine our surprise during two hours of cold rain in the early morning.  And the temperature went down from there.

We were both considering aborting until we found some hot chocolate in Sanford.  Aaah, instant relief.  Of course, the hot liquid went through me quickly, and I was looking for a place to stop within ten minutes.  I guess that's what is meant by "Fast Flow Technology" on the dispensing machine (see photo).

On the other hand, I was amazed my feet were comfortable all day in Keen sandals and wool socks.  Hmm, maybe there is some magic in all the blather I've read about wool...

On our return trip, we chose the option to ride the American Tobacco Trail.  It was really nice to avoid the traffic on NC 751, aside from the trail sections in Durham which were muddy from the morning's rain.

The Carthage Coffee Run is a great new ride.  Many thanks to Branson for putting it together.  We look forward to riding it many times again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Raleigh Santacon, Sat Dec 4th 2010

Come wander around downtown Raleigh and trendy Glenwood Ave for an evening of frivolity with 50-100 crazies dressed like Santa, elves, reindeer, gnomes, jokers, and so on.  It's fun, even for non-drinkers like me who enjoy consuming large quantities of bar food.

The Raleigh event notice is on Facebook  For general info on these events, google 'santacon' or 'santarchy'.

Obligatory bike content:  At last year's event, about 50 Santas inside the Hibernian Pub spotted a bicycle pedicab driver outside riding in a Santa suit.  We yelled and waved and caught his attention, he parked, came inside, and joined our festivities.  I think he had a few Santas as fares later on too!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Carthage Coffee Checkup

Jayjay and I biked the southern portion of the Carthage Coffee Run in central NC today, from the Maxi-Mart near Moncure to Carthage and back (80 miles round-trip).  We did not do it for RUSA credit, but just to scope it out.  It is delightful.  The route is easy to navigate, most of the neighborhoods and houses are immaculately appointed, most pavement is smooth as glass, and most of the rolling hills are manageable.  (and, shhh, only one dog.)

We stopped at the namesake coffee shop at the turnaround, the Coffee Court in Carthage. It is surprisingly nice inside.  We sat and dined for more than an hour since we were not on the clock.  We spoke with one waitress about signing perm cards.  She got all excited and called the staff over.  Another waitress remembered signing two cards a few weeks ago (likely Geof and Bryan's inaugural ride).  The owner welcomed us and other cyclists to come back.  Nice.

On our way back through Sanford, we happened upon the Jubi-Lee Fall Festival at the Depot Park downtown.  Again it was really nice to stop and enjoy for a little while.

We look forward to riding the full 200K length for credit soon, particularly for us because the start is so close to our homes.  We encourage other randos to try it too.

Here are a few random photos and two videos:  a one-minute descent, and some live music in Sanford.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cat Encounters of the First Kind

I had my first encounter with a cat while biking on Tuesday afternoon.  This one completely ignored me as I crossed its path two times, first as I was headed home, then as I circled back for a photo.  Only when I snapped the photo, and the camera made a shutter sound, did the cat look up, hiss aggressively, and run away.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Whips and Trains

Please don't stand too close to a moving freight train.  

Every so often, a long length of strapping steel will hang out the side of a box car.  As the train races by, the end of the strap whips wildly alongside the train, doing a number on whatever it strikes.  I've seen one once, about 30 ft (10 m) long.  Not fun.

Oh, and then there are the garbage trains with their fragrant misty spray.  It's worse than skunk.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bike lane hazards

This disabled car blocked the bike lane on my commute this morning.  Thanks to the headlamps on cars going my way past it, I saw it at least one mile in advance.  (Cornwallis Rd eastbound, between Maughan Dr and NC 147, in the Research Trailer Park.)

In other news, I did my first commute today with my 'new' derailleur.  It feels okay.  The old one cracked part-way through on Saturday's 200K and needed to be replaced.  Photos and story here:  photos

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A taste of Autumn

After endless weeks of hot summer drought, then four days of heavy rain, yesterday was *the* perfect day to ride the NC Bike Club's 200K brevet from Morrisville to Siler City and back.  Of course, it felt wierd to be applying sunblock while wearing a Norwegian wool hat in 50 degree F (10 C) temps before the start.  (Click the little photo to embiggen.)

Jayjay and I 'rode sweep' at our usual tourist pace.  We were delighted to get 50 miles before meeting the first group of fast riders on their return.  But the cashier at the checkpoint in Snow Camp yelled "wow, you're slow" when we answered why our brevet cards had fewer signatures than the fast guys who had just passed through.

Dogs:  A tiny white poodle chased Jayjay.  I laughed, but was afraid she would crush it.  Later, a deranged black dog was running erratically in the road.  We waited for a lull in traffic to avoid the skidding, swerving, and honking cars.  Hopefully Darwin fixes it soon.

Mechanical:  Early in the ride, I bent my rear derailleur in half.  I had pedalled backwards coming to a stop, unknowingly spanned the chain across sprockets, then I mashed the pedals to go.  I didn't get far.  After a few minutes with vise grips, I was able to baby it in the big sprockets for the remaining 100 miles.

Traffic:  Scores of cars were overtly polite throughout the day.  But four cars and one big truck buzzed us.  Very unusual.

Basket:  I love my new basket.  It's so flexible and convenient while riding.  (See photos.)

Rando Elan:  We had just finished climbing Jack Bennet Rd, the first attention-getting hill on the ride, when Jayjay spotted a low-mounted super-bright headlight charging up the hill behind us.  As the cyclist passed, he was sitting upright, hadn't broken a sweat, had that sparkling confident smile, and greeted us warmly.  Classic rando.  Chapeau!

Thanks to RBA Alan and Dorothy for organizing the ride, thanks to Jerry for volunteering at the turnaround point, and thanks to Skiffrun for waiting and greeting us at the finish and joining us for a fine Mexican dinner.

Here are a dozen random photos

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Snaps of the Commute

My morning commute is once again completely in the dark, thanks to the nights getting longer here in the northern hemisphere. It's my favorite time to ride.

Here are two photos of an almost-full moon from yesterday morning.  Photos

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yard Sales on Permanents

I bought this trike at a yard sale today (click the photo for a bigger view).  That wouldn't be so unusual if it weren't for the fact that Jayjay and I were riding our bikes on the RUSA Showdown at Black Creek 200K, from Raleigh to Black Creek, NC and back.

Saturday mornings are 'Yard Sale Heaven' around here, and we have been known to stop once or twice during our rides.  But those times, I was looking for something small, light, and easy to transport, like a red plaid skirt to use as a kilt in a costume.  I hadn't ever considered buying something big, like a lamp or bookshelf, nevermind a bike.

However, today I made a quick U-turn as soon as I spotted this thing on display.  The seller was happy to demonstrate and expound about it, I have wanted one for a while, and I had the cash with me.  I just hope he doesn't sell it a second time to someone else before I drive back tomorrow to pick it up!

Oh, and in other news, the Black Creek 200K was great.  Photos and more witty tales are here:  Photos  

PS: I brought the trike home on Sunday.  Here is a brief video

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Name That Creak...

...and other commuting tidbits.

* I am really happy the Tobacco Trail was repaved this summer, but not for the reason you would expect. The construction closures forced me to look for alternate commuting routes. I found a great new route on a nearby two-lane road with courteous traffic and a 35mph speed limit. Plus, my it cuts one mile off my commute distance. I am hooked. I wish I had explored sooner.

* Cyclists often complain about car drivers' bad behaviors, but rarely note the good things. Yesterday, a car slowed and waited behind me to pass through an intersection before turning right. Wow, no right hook. In the dark this morning, a car driver yelled an apology to me when he didn't see me initially in an intersection. Double wow. And finally, a disabled car with matte dark paint and no reflectors was parked completely off the road, rather than blocking part of the travel lane. Triple wow. Thank you all!

* I may have found and fixed the latest noise on my bike. It's been crunching and grinding when pedaling, but very intermittently, and impossible to isolate. I started working on it last night (and I like working on the chain up at eye level!). I tightened and lubed things, and replaced the chain which was stretched and needed to be replaced anyway. Then I noticed big clumps of grit, grime, and road schmutz stuck to my chainrings and guardrail. I had to chisel it off. It rode much quieter today. All I heard this morning was the squeak of my Fine Soft Corinthian Leather saddle. Fingers crossed it stays quiet for the Black Creek 200K on Saturday.

Here is a video of the sound beforehand. 'Crank' up the volume halfway through: video

Monday, September 6, 2010

Path Less Pedaled: Butterflies, Trains, and Fishing for Mailboxes

Laura and Russ, from The Path Less Pedaled and FB, visited us this weekend as they passed through town on their amazing bicycle journey across the country.

We had glorious late-summer weather all weekend.  On Saturday, we biked from home to the farmer's market, then to the butterfly house at the Museum of Life and Science.  Here's a quick video and some random photos.

Back home, we did a little hula hooping.  Laura and Russ are naturals.  Laura spun double hoops immediately.  Video.  Russ wowed us by playing harmonica at the same time he spun doubles.   Behold:  Video

On Sunday, we biked south to Bonsal, and rode the train at the New Hope Valley Railway.  Here are a few photos.  Enjoy the awesome steam whistle halfway through this video riding on the train.

Monday was a quiet day.  Russ entertained our neighbors by fly-fishing for mailboxes on our street.  Later, we fashioned a rubber mud flap for the back of his bike.  Here is a fishing video, and a few photos.

It was great meeting Laura and Russ, hearing their experiences and insights, and sharing fun activities.  We wish them the best as they continue on their journey. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hoopcycling 102

Hooping while bicycling

Hoopcycling is a fusion of two of my hobbies:  hooping and bicycling.  Much of hooping is an upper-body activity, with hand, arm, and torso movement.  Bicycling is mostly about legs, and the body just comes along for the ride.  They are perfect complements.  Combining the two energizes all parts of your body, and doubles the workload on your brain.

We finally took some video.  Here is a 10-second clip:  video

I first wrote about hoopcycling back in May.  My cyclist friends guffawed.  My hooper friends gasped.  But I think it's a perfect mash-up.  And learning new combinations is such a magical rush.  

Think about what activities you can combine, and try something unusual.

Just be careful, and don't hurt yourself.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Scared Gritless before the Howling Grits 100K

I rode my bike the 10 miles from home to the start of the Howling Grits 100K.  It was around 4:30am, the night was dark, and two unusual events helped me get warmed-up early.

Newspaper Delivery Car

First, I crossed paths with a car going the other direction.  The car immediately pulled into my lane behind me and stopped.  The car went into reverse, the engine gunned, and the car raced toward me from behind.  When it didn't stop, I did a quick U-turn in the street and it zipped past where I had been riding only seconds before.  Then it made a U-turn and came at me again.  I did a second U-turn.  Finally I heard the 'plop' sound of a newspaper thrown onto a driveway, and the car went on its way.  Phew, I thought.

But wait, there's more...

Herd of Deer

Another mile or so down the road, I started hearing a 'tit-tat-tit-tat' sound coming from behind me on the left.  Within seconds, it got louder and closer.  Then it came at me from both sides.  I turned repeatedly but saw nothing.  I felt the presence of ghosts.  I channeled Alfred Hitchcock.  As the stampede whooshed past me, I realized it was a herd of deer running on the road.  Several dozen deer, perhaps several hundred, all huge, were swarming past me on both sides at high speed.  In total darkness.  Finally, they veered off into the woods and all was quiet.

I was fully awake.  I was completely warmed-up.  The Howling Grits 100K with JayJay went uneventfully fine.

Checkpoint photos are here:  photos

Derailleur repairs on my dumpster bike

Several folks have asked why I call my bike the 'dumpster bike'.  It's because my wife actually found the bike in a dumpster where she works.  She knew me well enough to insist that I go look at it, and sure enough we hauled it home.

The bike needed 'some work', and the rear derailleur was badly bent.  I took photos as I disassembled it so I could tell how to reassemble it.  This was all back in 2005, so I guess the repairs worked out okay.

I recently discovered the photos.  Enjoy:  photos

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Search for Sandy Hook Lighthouse

I biked from Asbury Park NJ to Sandy Hook National Seashore today, about 35 miles round-trip.  I visited there years ago, and wanted to see it again.

When I got to Asbury Park, I was surprised to find a triathlon going on.  My first encounter was that the boardwalk was closed.  Participants were finishing their ocean swim, and were running along the beach and across the boardwalk.  Most passersby were waiting patiently for the finish, but I was wearing rando reflectivewear, sneaked through an opening in the runners, and no one challenged me, hehe.

My second encounter was a mile northward, when I got off the boardwalk onto surface roads.  Ocean Ave was blocked off for several miles and towns for the bike portion of the race.  Woo hoo, I biked in my first triathlon.  I'd never seen so many plastic bikes.  Every time one approached buzzing and creaking, I thought I had something caught in my spokes, but luckily not.  At one point, I stopped to help a racer fix a flat tire.  No one else stopped, no surprise.  Unfortunately, the guy was not in the mood for help.

But enough about Asbury and the triathlon.  I continued biking north through several oceanfront towns, some rich, some richer.  Eventually I got to the Sandy Hook park.

Sandy Hook is a gorgeous barrier island which extends the Jersey Shore northward for miles toward New York City.  It is completely natural except for the historical military fortifications which pop up at every turn.  A paved bike path runs the length of the island, from the entrance to a beach at the far north.  The trail goes through wide-open windy flat sections, as well as tunnels of overgrowth.  It passes huge parking lots for beachgoers every half-mile or so.  The trail becomes a mesh of trails at the north end, after going through Fort Hancock.  Several trails end right at beach access areas, and bike racks abound.

I wound around the trails for a good while looking for the lighthouse, enjoying new sights and surprises at every turn.  (See the stop sign photo for one such surprise.)  Every so often I could see the lighthouse through an opening in the trees, and then it would disappear.  After finally finding it and taking the obligatory photos, I explored the beach a while, then headed back south.  A glorious morning on the bike.

Verbosely captioned photos:  photos

30-second video of riding in the triathlon:  video

Sunday, August 1, 2010

PBP 200K

I rode the RUSA Princeton-Belmar-Princeton 200K in central New Jersey today.  I started five hours into the new month to snag an early 'R'.  And I remembered my perm card at every checkpoint, woo hoo.

The checkpoint in Belmar is a Dunkin Donuts at the beach.  Usually it is jammed with beachgoers every summer weekend morning, and the line takes forever.  However, there was a race going on today, Ocean Ave was closed to motor vehicles, and the store was empty.  Sweet!

I had excellent weather, despite a gloomy forecast.  The morning was dry and cool, the afternoon had intermittent light misty rain, and only a few minutes of real rain.  My sneakers didn't even get soaked.  I encountered only one thunderstorm.  It approached me from the rear for two hours, then my route turned to the side.

For the Yungfalbz files, there were tractors and heavy equipment everywhere.  I even saw a woman yelling at her boss while driving a big front-end loader filled with stone for a construction project.  (No photos, since it was raining and my camera is not waterproof)

No blisters, nothing hurts, light traffic, no flats, no mechanicals (other than hitting a small clump of branches on the road which flew up and cracked a fender and whacked me on the shin), and great pizza after the ride.

This is a delightful ride.  I highly recommend it.
Here are a few photos from when it was not raining:  photos
And here are three videos in Belmar and Spring Lake, at the ocean:  videos

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Howling Grits practice ride

Jayjay and I rode Jerry's Howling Grits 100K populaire today, not for credit, but just to see if we could do it.  We might actually finish in time.  The hills were a challenge for us, since Jerry has done a masterful job of linking together roads with minimal flat sections.  And it was hot, though we dodged the worst since it was overcast the first several hours.  Of course, we won't stop at a shaded beachy stretch along Jordan Lake on a real ride, like we did today.   And I will definitely not ride my bike the 10 miles from home to the start, like I did today.  Maybe we'll try again in October, when it's cooler.

Of course, what would a rando ride be without a detour?    Photos

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bike maintenance

I noticed two diagonal slits in the sidewalls of my rear tire during our last 200K. There was one slit on each side of the tire, about two inches apart. Very odd. I bought a new rear tire and installed it tonight.

While the wheel was off, I replaced my spoke silencers with new plastic strips (re-purposed from the packaging of a lawn mower blade). My spokes are notched from wear and make an annoying click when I ride. These strips keep them separated and quiet. And the silence helps me ignore that the spokes are ready to break.

Am I a redneck rando? Photos

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Snarky Sprints

Four randos rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K on a beautiful summer day today. Dean, Jayjay, Mike and I started at daybreak in Benson. Mike rode with great vigor, fresh from a 1000K in California. The rest of us rode slow and had great conversation. Click on the little thumbnail photo here to see Dean and Mike the second time we met, some miles from the turnaround point in Tar Heel.

Quote of the day, from Jayjay to a non-rando roadie friend:

"Randos don't sprint for county line signs. We sprint for state lines."

...which segues nicely to this little video of me NOT fooling Dean at the Bladen County line: video

And a few unremarkable snapshots: photos

No flats or mechanicals, just the usual dogs, detours, and missing signs. A great day on the bikes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

200K meets 200K

Jayjay and I rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K today, from Benson, NC to Tar Heel, NC, and back. Unlike last week, I remembered to collect my perm card at every checkpoint today. We enjoyed a variety of weather: hot and overcast, hot and sunny, and hot and rainy. We were well prepared with our insulated luggage, ice socks, and indomitable spirits.

We had the privilege of crossing paths with two other randos riding the same route today, Dean and Lin. Jayjay and I started early, and Dean and Lin started a while later. The first time we met was just outside the turnaround point at Tar Heel. Dean and Lin were arriving just as Jayjay and I were departing. We stopped, took photos, gave the secret rando handshakes, and went on our ways. The second time was at the finish in Benson. Jayjay and I barely had time to pack up our bikes and get our cards stamped when Dean and Lin rolled in.

Just don't asked what times we all started.

Click here for photos with captions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

DNF means 'Do Not Forget'

Let's review several lessons from Rando 101:

1) Do not forget your perm card at a checkpoint.

2) Do not forget your credit card with your perm card at a checkpoint.

3) Do not ride your bike 14 miles before discovering mistakes 1 and 2.

I violated these simple rules today on an otherwise perfect summer day while riding the Tar Heel 200K.

All the gory self-deprecating details are here, with verbosely captioned photos.

I blame it on my summertime obsession with ice. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rando Habits and Real Life

Have you ever noticed how habits can transfer from one activity to another?

I drove 500 miles solo from NC to NJ last weekend, in record time. Whenever I stopped for gas, I raced through the convenience stores: quick bathroom, grabbed snacks and drink, then ate on the road. I realized after the second stop that a year of rando events was getting me back on the road incredibly fast. Very neat.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Right Hooks

Question: When is a right hook not a right hook?
Hypothesis: When both the car and bicycle turn right.

As part of my commute, I sprint along a short narrow section of NC54 (an aggressively driven, ostensibly 45mph (72km/h), two-lane road) and turn right up a short steep hill into a housing development. For the first time one day last week, a car pulled directly alongside me and matched my speed as we reached the intersection. I noticed his right turn signal flashing. Then the two of us both turned right and whipped around the corner, perfectly synchronized, no more than 3 ft (1m) apart. Wow, what was that? I filed it away as a fluke.

Amazingly, it happened again yesterday. Another fluke?

I am choosing to believe these drivers are seeing my extended arm and recognizing it as a right-turn signal, which is good. But I'm not yet sure a synchronized turn is a good thing. Maybe with more practice...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Snap of the commute

I was in such a rando mood riding to work this morning that I stopped at a convenience store for a receipt. Sorry, private rando humor.

I thought about submitting this photo to the Smart Commute Challenge photo contest, but no...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to ride RUSA 200K events

  • Learn where the fastest dogs live.

  • Eat all you want while losing weight.

  • They will cull every marginal component from your bike.

  • You can schmooze with convenience store society.

  • You'll stop riding all non-credit miles.

  • They provide a healthy way to hallucinate.

  • You'll love the feel of chamois in the rain.

  • They promote colon health without Activia.

  • The next day, you can stand up all day at your job.

  • They are a great way to prepare for really long rides.

And the best reason for riding 200K events:

  • They provide time to compose stories for your blog.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

200K meets 600K

Jayjay and I rode the Tar Heel 200K RUSA permanent today, in eastern North Carolina. About 30 miles of the route is common with today's NC Bike Club 600K RUSA brevet, and we crossed paths with eight of the 600K riders at a convenience store south of Stedman. We took photos and cheered them on their way. It was the highlight of our ride. (See photos and videos below.)

After the 600K riders departed, Jayjay and I had great fun analyzing who looked best, who looked dead, who had the silliest rig, etc. In return, I hope we provided them with some good laughs at our expense too.

Weather was mixed and unsettled today. First, we rode through about 90 minutes of 'heavy sprinkles' in the morning. I started singing like Julie Andrews, which was NOT good:

Raindrops on Randos with
Smart Woolen mittens...
Luckily I don't remember the rest. It got sunny and warm for the rest of our ride in the afternoon. It resumed raining again in Benson just as we packed up the bikes and drove home. I suspect the 600K riders hit a bit more rain on their route. (My house got bad storms and even lost power for 37 minutes due to a nearby lightning strike.)

I was in a camera mood today. Here are lots of photos and videos.

Best of luck to the Super Randos on the 600K...

PS: Beware of dog named Roscoe, north of Dunn: map

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hoopcycling 101

Hula Hooping while Bicycling

I was changing a flat tire a while back, when I aimlessly began spinning the old tire like a hula hoop. A light bulb went off in my head. Hooping and cycling were made for each other.

So far, I can do basic hand-hooping, with a single hoop, in the daylight, with my eyes open. I've got some video clips demonstrating different moves. In one, I bike in a circle in one direction around a cul-de-sac, spin the hoop overhead in the other direction, and swap hands in the hoop each time it goes around. More advanced moves will take some practice.

I may finish the video someday, but until then, please enjoy the still photos. (Click on the little photos to embiggen.)

PS: Just beware this is dangerous. You can kill yourself doing this. I don't recommend it to anyone.

Update May 13: I was honored that this story was featured today on the front page of, the world premier hooping website, as their 'photo of the day'. I archived a screenshot here. They archived a snippet here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Today was the NC Bike Club's 300K RUSA brevet from Morrisville to Seagrove and back. We didn't ride. We hung around at the halfway turnaround point at the Quick Check convenience store in Seagrove. We greeted the riders and made snarky comments.
- We encouraged them: "Only 90 miles to go".
- We offered waterproof sunblock: "It won't run off in the rain".
- And later in the day: "I bet the fast riders are already done!"
I had a great time. It was almost like riding. I got sunburned, and I ate lots of food from the convenience store. On the other hand, my bottom doesn't hurt at all.

Here's a photo of Geof's new wooden fender. He saw Jerry's new fenders a few weeks ago, and just HAD to get one for his own bike. Jayjay called it "fenderlust". (Click on the little photo to embiggen.)

Oh, and while the randos were biking toward Seagrove, we stopped at a miniature railroad I helped to build some years ago. It's fun to keep in touch with earlier hobbies.

Here are my still photos, and here are video1 and video2 from the start.

Other reports: Branson, Doc, Yungfalbz, Mike/RTP, BikerBob, Tidewater

Big congrats to all the riders.