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.