Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Bike Lights 2012

Our local Target store was basically giving away their remaining Christmas lights last week, so I couldn't resist buying a string of these big LED lights to cut and chop.  After a little experimenting, I found most of the bulbs shine nicely with my spare bike battery pack (2.4v).  I think they look great during my dark morning commute (click small photo to enlarge).

On the other hand, I'm not so good at taking night photos:  photos

Watch for them on my next 200K, hopefully New Years Day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Raleigh Santaconda 2012

Last night was the fifth annual Raleigh Santaconda, the bawdy bar crawl with hundreds of costumed Santas, elves, jokers, etc patronizing businesses on Glenwood Ave and downtown.  As usual, I arrived early to eat, and then left early, immediately following the snowball fun in Nash Park (thanks to whoever brought a load of shaved ice).  Saw old friends, made new ones.   Like a good rando, I went well-lit this year.

Here is a good set of photos on Facebook:  photos

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The original "A Christmas Story"

The feature film "A Christmas Story" was based upon a story by author and radio personality Jean Shepherd.  He read the story every Christmas Eve on his late night radio show on WOR-AM in New York City.  I heard it live on the air several times

Enjoy this 40-minute mp3 of the Dec 24 1974 show:  http://goo.gl/n40Ku
Listen at 30:36 when Santa says "You'll shoot your eye out, kid".
And yes, in the end, he almost does shoot his eye out.

More Shep recordings:  http://shepcast.blogspot.com/ 
click the 'listen now' player

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TARDIS has moved

I rode the RUSA Lookin' out my back door 200K on Saturday, Dec 1.  It was a beautiful day, just above freezing in the morning darkness, then really nice in the mid-afternoon.  Days are short, so it started getting cold quickly as soon as the sun dropped.  For this slow rando, that means dressing up warm again for the finish.

A house near the turnaround point of the route has had a blue TARDIS in their front yard for a while.  Today it was gone.  At first, I thought it had taken a journey through time, but then I spotted it in the back yard.  (click thumbnail photo to enlarge)

My spring-loaded bottom-bracket generator has performed flawlessly since I got it, even in rain.  But on this ride, my light went dark in the first half mile.  I stopped, jiggled wires, spun the pedals, and it lit back up, so I continued.   Then it went dark a second time.  Uh oh, this is not going to be fun.  But after my second jiggling, it worked flawlessly for the rest of the day.   I wonder what was the problem.

Best part of the ride:  A family was outside decorating their house north of Coats during my return trip.  As I approached, the father yelled out greetings and asked where I was riding today.  He acknowledged, then wished me well.  No disbelief, just encouragement.  Wow, wonder if he is a cyclist?  Maybe I could have recruited another rando.  Must print a batch of business cards.

Here are photos with a few more stories in captions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Senior Discounts

Almost exactly three years ago, a fast-food employee thought I looked old enough that I qualified for a 'Senior Tea'.  My wife teased me about it for months.  I created a video and told the story here.

Well, it happened again.  But this time, the discount was given to my wife.  When she brought our food and I saw the receipt, I immediately shared the good news : "Look dear, you got a senior discount!"   Of course, some fireworks ensued.

But it was fun.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Up on the roof

Warning:  Another non-bike story...

The last time I did any roofing work, which was last century, I slipped, slid down the roof, and went flying.  Luckily, I was only up one floor, the ground was resilient muddy clay soup, and I landed and tumbled perfectly.  I got up unscathed and continued roofing.

I fixed some damage on my parents' roof from Hurricane Sandy over the weekend.  I didn't fall.  But when I knocked over a full box of roofing nails and watched half the nails slide all the way down to the ground (click the photo to enlarge), I decided it was time to fashion a pretend safety line.   Such a wuss.

Here are a few photos.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dr. Ruth

Warning:  Non-bike story...

I first met Dr Ruth when I entered college in the mid-1970s.  She was hired to lecture the incoming freshmen about hazards of impropriety.  She definitely caught our attention.

I find it incredible that my daughter and her friends are equally enamored today with this amazing woman and her timeless message.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tar Heel 200K

I rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K in central NC today.  Autumn cold is definitely here.  I've been commuting in the cold dark mornings, but 7+ miles has not been enough to thicken my blood yet.

And there was 'some wind' in the afternoon.  Not strong enough to warrant the dreaded aero tuck, but enough to be annoying.  And it seemed to keep changing directions.  Meh.

Most drivers were incredibly courteous as usual, but I had fun with a few.  Good to keep the blood flowing.

I ran into a dozen uber roadies leaving the Stedman Marathon at the same time I did.  It looked like they were all wearing colorful zentai costumes, head to toe.  One was friendly, he asked me to ride with their group.  I declined, not being fast enough (plus didn't want to nix my RUSA credit).

I usually don't take photos after the turnaround, but I was feelin' it today.  Enjoy a batch of unusual photos.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thank You

A car driver said 'thank you' to me.   That doesn't happen very often.

I was biking home from work today, climbing a short steep hill, on a curve, on a moderately narrow lane constrained by curbs & gutters.  As urgent car drivers zoomed around me, I spotted this water valve cover sitting in the street.  It was about 8"/20cm in diameter, 5"/13cm tall, and heavy like cast iron.  If a small car rode over this, it could do some serious damage to the car.  And if the drivers saw it in time, and swerved to the side, they could do some serious damage to me.

So I stopped, got off the bike, and decided to put it back in its hole.

I crossed to the far side, stood poised on the curb, and waited for a break in the packs of lemming cars going by.  Within a minute, a driver figured out what I was going to do.  He slowed to a crawl and drove far to the side.  I darted out and reseated it.  He yelled 'Thank you'.  Very nice.

Too bad the lemming drivers behind him didn't know what I was doing, or didn't care, and glared at me over their cellphones.  :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spooky Morning Ride

It was unusually foggy here on Friday morning.  I stopped to take this photo on Cornwallis Rd in RTP when I saw the spooky lights in the sky ahead (click to enlarge).  It wasn't daybreak.  It was just light pollution from a small parking lot.

Now I say that I stopped to snap a photo...

...but the goosebumps also subsided.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Burroughs Wellcome Headquarters Tour

I ride past the former Burroughs Wellcome pharmecutical research & development campus every day on my bike commute.  The headquarters building, finished in 1971, was the architectural highlight of the then-new Research Triangle Park.  Architectural aficionados have always loved this futuristic building.  (Click left photo to enlarge.)

The building was so futuristic, that many scenes in the 1983 science fiction movie 'Brainstorm' were filmed inside and outside the campus (wikipedia) (trailer)  And one of the characters in the film commuted to work on a Ryan Recumbents Avatar (backstory).   In homage to the film and to the recumbent, I posed my bike in front of the main entrance (Click the photo at right to enlarge).

Fast forward to 2012, and the campus has been empty for ten years due to corporate acquisitions.  The campus has recently been bought by yet-another company, who graciously allowed the local Triangle Modernist Houses society to sponsor a tour today before major renovations begin.

We went on the tour.  We walked through several floors inside the headquarters building and roamed the grounds.  It was very neat.

Enjoy two photo albums:
Outside of the building:  the futuristic exterior and lush grounds
Inside the building:   the lobby, auditorium, executive suites, conference rooms, roof decks, cafeteria, etc.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another good reason to bike-commute...

Traffic was crawling on I-40 westbound this afternoon as far as the eye could see, in both directions. I effortlessly glided over I-40 on an overpass.

PS: You can see my shadow in the bottom left, holding out the panda camera.  Yes, I stopped riding to take the photo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RUSA Permanent Locations Map

It was just over two years ago that I got the idea to create a Google Map showing the starting locations of all RUSA permanents.  My original goal was to make it easy to find permanents when I went travelling on business trips.  But I found it even more useful to discover new perms which had been created in my own back yard.

The RUSA permanent program has been incredibly successful.  The number of perms has more than doubled since I started the map.  As of last night, there were 1690 active perms in existence.

But a side effect of this success is that the data being plotted on the map grew to where it far exceeded the limitations of the mapping engine being used.  As a result, the map intermittently appeared very erratic, sometimes hiding the perms in cities, sometimes sending users off to the Atlantic Ocean near Africa (where latitude and longitude are both zero).

Users noticed.  As the number of problem reports increased this past summer, I started looking into alternative mapping engines.  Thanks to a suggestion from the RUSA webmaster (actually one of his many excellent suggestions), I decided to convert everything over to use the map engine in Google's Fusion Tables.  Google says there are huge capacity limits in this service, so I am hoping it will last for a good while longer.  As part of the change, the map is now maximized full-screen, the left-hand column is gone, the list of perms in each pop-up is now columnized, and each list of perms is now sorted by distance.  All that, and it seems to run a bit faster for me too.

And it hasn't sent anyone into the ocean yet.

Click on the photo at left to acccess the new map.  And let me know if you see any problems.

PS: Smart web programmers can make wonderful map presentations using data from Google Fusion Tables.  Let me know if you'd like to create fancier or more useful maps to share with RUSA members.  You are welcome to access the data.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Meet Merino"

I spotted this sign at The Limited clothing store in a local mall.  I immediately wondered if they were selling winter bicycling clothes.

Umm, no.

But lady cyclists might get some useful gear cheap at their 'end of winter season' sales...  ...in December!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Halloween Preparations on the Tar Heel 200K

Jayjay and I rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K in eastern North Carolina yesterday.  Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but already we saw a dozen houses decked out in full.  They looked really great in the dark before sunrise.  The house in the photo had what looked like a real casket in their yard (click to enlarge).  Another house had a huge inflatable black cat towering over their front lawn.  At the end of our ride, we passed a family decorating their yard and I yelled out a compliment.  In response, their attack dog charged us.  Ha.

In the 'kindness of strangers' category, as we approached a guy on a riding mower blowing a cloud of dirt and debris into our path, I yelled a warning to Jayjay to hold her breath and close one eye when we passed.  Instead, the guy saw us coming and stopped his mower.  How nice!

Enjoy a few assorted photos:  here

A great day on the bikes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Snaps of the commute

On my ride home today, I first came upon this crane installing a fancy new sign (click left photo to enlarge).  Two workers were up in a bucket with the sign, bolting it into place.  Very neat.

Then I laughed as I watched a clueless motorist stop in line behind the white trailer, intending to make a right turn.  It took him about ten seconds to grasp the situation and pull around the big rigs.

A mile or so later, I passed these huge valves being swapped (right photo).    The new ones have been sitting on the ground for a few days, and the blue paint is incredibly bright.  It absolutely glows in the sun every afternoon.  My camera doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bicycling vs. walking

Walking with one's daughter is sometimes better than biking.  :-)

Photo credit:  Monica G.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Man Burns Tonight

I saw this radio tower toward the end of a 200K bike ride today.  It reminded me of 'The Man' at Burningman, the famous festival of art, music, dancing, creativity and dust in the northern Nevada desert.  Then I remembered that tonight is the night of the signature event when they will actually burn 'The Man'.

And I am not there...

Alas, I am here in North Carolina, and rode the RUSA Lookin' Out My Back Door 200K today with fellow randos Jayjay and Rick.  I was having a fine ride until my mind saw that radio tower.  Harrumph.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snaps of the commute

Here are three quick tidbits...

I stopped and swept a bunch of glass, sand, and schmutz from several places in the bike lanes on Cornwallis Rd as I biked to work in the RTP today.  I sweep about twice a year, when I get sufficiently annoyed by the mess.  The broom I carried may have been responsible for cars passing so widely today.  (Click photo at left to enlarge.)

And it's so nice of the DOT to provide bike parking slots along the road.  (See photo at right.)

Finally, I heard a freight train coming as I approached the railroad crossing on Cornwallis.  I had just enough time to dig my camera out and start filming while sprinting one-handed.  Of course, as soon as I reached the gates, I had an 'oh crap moment' when I realized I needed to stop.  Enjoy the shakey 30-second video.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Belmar-Princeton-Belmar 200K

I rode the RUSA Belmar-Princeton-Belmar 200K permanent in central New Jersey on Saturday.

The weather was unusual:
Morning was foggy and humid.  Mid-day was clear, hot, and humid.  Afternoon brought clouds and storms to the area, but not to me.  The coolest I got was by standing in a lawn sprinkler [Click the thumbnail photo to enlarge].

Permanent owner Paul has improved the route in a few places since last I rode:
- One change avoids a lively traffic circle on Highway 35 by taking a bike trail.  Very nice.
- Another change straightens the route a bit, but bypasses a butterfly bog.  No big deal.
- Another section detours around construction on a bridge over the NJ Turnpike.  The new route has a wide new bridge, and a long stretch in the shade.  Extremely nice.

I was lucky in traffic twice today:
- I took the lane to climb a vary narrow overpass in a construction zone.  Luckily, no cars approached the whole time I climbed up and over the bridge.  Yay.
- I warily rode with traffic alongside parked cars in a 'door zone'.  A pickup driver opened his door in my face.  Luckily, he saw me at the same time I yelled, and he slammed his door closed in the nick of time.  Double yay.

Dumb bonk:
I wasn't hungry or thirsty most of the day.  I finally remembered the Hydration Triangle after the temperature got hot, my body stopped sweating, and my legs started cramping.  A heavily salted piece of cold pizza from the Cranbury Pizza checkpoint kickstarted my recovery.

There was a friendly crowd at Cranbury Pizza.  Two people strode across the street to specifically ask about my red blinky on an outrigger.  They were cyclists, and intrigued by my DIY light.  As we were chatting, they asked my route.  When I answered, the lady paused and said "well, that must be more than...  100 miles!".  I smiled and nodded, as I remembered why I ride...

Another great day on the bike.

and a few boring [photos].

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gnomes, snakes, and lawn chairs

Seven randos rode the RUSA Lookin' Out My Back Door 200K today in eastern North Carolina.

It was foggy and cool most of the morning, and the afternoon was not as bad a scorcher as it could have been.  The skies were absolutely gorgeous, with monster puffy clouds against a dark Carolina Blue sky.  Jayjay and I did well until we melted mid-afternoon, but we got to the finish in time.

Here are a bunch of photos with witty captions about gnomes, snakes, lawn chairs, etc: [photos]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Video snip from the commute

I encountered several pieces of construction equipment being unloaded in the road as I biked to work one morning this week..  I see this now and then on lightly-used industrial roads.

This was a harmless surprise in the daylight of summer morning, but justifies a really bright headlight in winter darkness.

20-second drive-by video:  http://youtu.be/7J1hzRFpVzw

Monday, July 2, 2012


Back in February, I commented [on this blog] about how I had prepared a few chain segments for quick repairs on the road.  I also quipped about how it was a waste of my time, since I had never had a chain problem on the road.  Well, guess which of the following possibilities has just ensued?

1. I heard a new clicking in my drivetrain and I promptly found and fixed an imminent chain failure.

2. My chain broke out on the road and I repaired it quickly and efficiently.

3. My chain broke two blocks from home, I coasted back home, locked the bike in the shed, and drove the car to work.  And continued driving every day since...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Transit of Uranus"

Five randos rode the RUSA Lookin' out my back door 200K yesterday, in central North Carolina yesterday.  Dean, Jajyay, and I started early.  Alan and Mike started a little later.

We pulled off the road for this monster farm vehicle near the Averasboro Civil War Museum.  A few moments later, it turned directly toward us to avoid a mailbox on the other side.   We scrambled even further away from the road.  Ugh.

Congrats to Alan on reaching R-36.  Here's a 5 second video of Alan crossing paths with us.  In the video, he is talking about catching up to us after the turnaround point. [video]

Jayjay's rear tire developed a slow leak at the end of the ride.  We stopped about five times to pump it up, ever more frequently.  We made it to the finish without patching it.

In the 'boyish humor' category, I've been encouraging my wife to tease her elementary school students about the "Transit of Uranus" (spoofing the actual Transit of Venus).  She scowled at me.  I shared the story with Dean and Jayjay.  Instinctive reactions:  Dean laughed heartily.  Jayjay scowled.  Yay for boyish humor.

Another great day on the bikes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Redneck Rando

What does it mean when:
1) You replace a front tire which has a small hole bulging in the side, and then
2) you discover a piece of duct tape inside the tire?

That's Redneck!

As Sting might sing: "Don't ride so close to me"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

100K in 4.5 hours

Jayjay and I set a personal best record today, bicycling 100km in only 4.5 hours.  It wasn't because of improved fitness or better bikes.  It was bacause a tropical storm off the coast of North Carolina was generating strong tailwinds many miles inland.  Yay.

Alas, we then had to turn around and ride back, to complete the second half of our 200K.  Ha!  And then the summer sun came out.  Double ha!

All told, six randos rode the new RUSA Lookin' Out My Back Door 200K today, from Raleigh to Cedar Creek NC and back (Dean, Skiff, John, Mike, Jayay, and me).  We had a great time chatting together on the outbound leg.  On the return, folks split up into small groups and rode at their own pace.

Shortly after the turnaround, we spotted three other cyclists approaching.  I saw bright headlights.  And reflectivewear.  And handlebar luggage.  And a Moulton.  Wow, they look like randos.  As we crossed paths, both groups cheered each other.  Yep, definitely randos.  After they passed, Dean confirmed they were riders on the 600K pre-ride, headed down to the coast.  Kudos.  I trust they had an incredible ride.

Approaching the town of Dunn, we came upon a nasty car wreck.  First responders were working on the injured, and policemen were directing cars to turn back and not pass through the intersection.  Jayjay and I got off our bikes at a distance, walked slowly past the wreck with our heads down, along the shoulder.  They let us pass.

At dinner later this evening, Jayjay gave it a positive spin:  "Except for the heat, hills, and headwinds, it was a great ride."

Another great day on the bikes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Snaps of the commute

As I biked home from work this afternoon, I was approaching a railroad crossing. All was quiet. I had not heard a train horn off in the distance.

 But as I got close to the tracks, the bells started clanging, red lights started flashing, and the gates went down. Seconds later, this small red maintenance vehicle (a ballast tamper?) rolled through the crossing.

 You never know what you'll see.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Video snip from the commute

Bicyclists can see and hear much better than car drivers.  This morning, I heard this fire truck approaching so long in advance that I had plenty of time to dutifully pull over and stop, and get my camera out.  The car driver who passed me took a tad longer.

Here is the 10-second drive-by: [video]

Saturday, April 28, 2012

No signs permitted on this property

Four randos (Dean, Jayjay, Phil, and Andy) rode the [RUSA Tar Heel 200K] in eastern North Carolina today.  The weather was grey and threatening all day, but I only felt about 10 raindrops right after the start.  The wind pushed us along on the outbound trip, but took revenge on the return trip.  I don't remember one dog chasing us out on the street; I can't imagine why.  Traffic was cordial, and I don't remember even one buzz.

Perhaps the highlight of the ride was meeting randos Mike O and Fearless Leader Alan at the afternoon checkpoint in Stedman.  They were riding a [different RUSA permanent] today, and timed their ride hoping to meet us.  How very nice.

North Carolina is having a primary election in early May.  Political signs were everywhere, advertising candidates for a wide variety of positions.  This 200K passes through many counties, and they all had their own set of candidates.  In Tar Heel, Phil noticed this one sign prohibiting other signs without permission (click to enlarge).  Ha.

Click [here] for a few more photos.

A great day on the bikes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

R-12 vs Real Life

I have been lazily postponing the start of another R-12 this month.  Meanwhile...

* My father went in the hospital, so I was away one weekend.

* I got assigned to a new project at work, which demands lots more nights & weekends ramping up.

* A pickup truck smashed into my wife's Honda Fit.  [photos]

* And with only a few days left in the month, the weather is now 'suboptimal'.

Ugh.  Old lesson re-learned:  Ride early each month.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Adopt a bike lane designer

Do bike lane designers actually ride bikes?  How about construction workers on road crews?  I think not.

Yesterday morning, as I biked through a languishing road construction project in the dark, I encountered a temporary "uneven pavement" sign in the middle of the bike lane.  Lucky for me, I have a bright headlight and the signboard itself was reflective.  Click on the digitally-brightened photo at left for a better view (snapped from a video).  This nonsense happens all the time.

This is the same section of road where workers routinely set out traffic cones in the bike lane every month.  The crews only work a few days per month, since DOT starts more projects than it can ever finish to mollify whining legislators.  And every month, unknown unheralded cyclists routinely move them out of the bike lane into the grass, where they stand valiantly until the next month.

Earlier this week, the same crews repainted a temporary bike lane on the opposite side of this road where two car lanes merge into one.  The dotted-line bike lane crosses directly across the right lane, which results in cyclists abruptly forcing cars to merge.  No thanks.  It's already a racetrack where cars sprint from a traffic light to beat the other guy to the merge.  Now I'm not cycling anywhere near this mess with cars around.  Here's a [20-second video].  Luckily, our local cycling advocate met with DOT and they promise a fix soon.

Perhaps we should start an "Adopt a bike lane designer" mentoring program...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

RUSA schwag

Medals:  $10

Letters from RUSA presidents:  Priceless

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"You are a liar, and I wasn't born yesterday"

I rode the RUSA Carthage Coffee Run 200K again today.  Here are a bunch of tidbits, followed by the signature story of the ride.  Thanks to Jayjay for the photo at the finish.

- The overnight rain stopped just before the start of today's ride.  Woo hoo.
- I did not fall off my bike when my wheels slipped crossing the wet diagonal rails of the New Hope Valley Railway, where they cross New Hill Olive Chapel Rd.
- The two dozen dogs who greeted me were all friendly.
- Traffic was extremely light all day.
- I enjoyed an elusive double tailwind.  The delightful tailwind which spoiled me outbound reversed direction shortly after the turnaround in Carthage.
- At three different times, cars waited patiently for oncoming traffic before passing me safely.
- The predicted afternoon rainstorms never materialized.
- I got to pace a slow freight train, riding almost the same speed as the train, on a section where Old US 1 closely parallels the CSX mainline.
- A funny intuition made me to slow to a crawl as I approached a clueless pedestrian with earphones and dog on the American Tobacco Trail (ATT).  My shouts "On your left" and my bell went unheard just before they abruptly crossed the trail directly into my path.  Uff da.
- I did not fall off my bike while riding in the soupy 'mud feature' on the ATT in Durham County.

A dapper senior gentleman with a zipped leather day-planner book pounced on me at the Sanford checkpoint.  He asked several questions.  First, he asked if I was scouting the route for a bike race in Sanford next month.  He was disappointed I was not.  Next, he asked where I was going.  He was incredulous when I answered Carthage (20 miles / 32km away).  "CARTHAGE!" he shouted in disbelief.  Finally, after describing the last time he had been hit by a car while bicycling, he asked where I had started from.  I said Durham (42 miles / 68km away).  With that, he stared, straightened, and slowly said "Uh huh", in a tone I've heard from many Southern Gentlemen as a way of saying "You are a liar, and I wasn't born yesterday".  With that he turned crisply, said "Ride safe", and walked off.

A great day on the bike.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm not walking...

One day last week, I was eating lunch in the corporate cafeteria, silently listening to several of my coworkers argue over a television program.  Noticing that I wasn't talking, which is unusual, and knowing perfectly well that I try not to watch TV, a friend turned and asked my opinion of the show.  I took the bait and went into my usual rant about wasting precious hours of life spectating and watching canned entertainment rather than doing and contributing, yada, yada, yada.

After I settled down and the laughing stopped, he asked seriously:  "So what DO you do?"  I reminded him of my workaholism, then listed family activities, home repairs, DIY projects, etc, etc, etc.  Oh, and bike projects.

Which leads to the subject of this article.  I recently decided to add a few short sections of bike chain to my tool bag, with pins already in place, in case my chain breaks while on the road.  I try to carry 'just enough' tools and parts to keep me riding, instead of walking or calling for a ride, and I think this will enable a quick repair.

But as I was working on this little project today, cleaning an old chain, separating it, and getting the pins right, I kept thinking back to last week's conversation and wondering: "Am I really spending time on this?"  

Well.  Yes, I did.  And yes, I'll be ready in case my chain ever breaks.  For the first time.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Where are the ladies?

I rode the RUSA Carthage Coffee Run 200K solo today.  The convenience store clerks in both Merry Oaks and Sanford asked where JJ and MK were today.  And the clerk in Carthage looked around disappointedly and asked if I was riding alone today.  What am I, chopped liver?

Actually, the ladies are more personable than I am, and they make a better impression with the clerks.  I just grunt, scratch, and get back on the road.  Oh well.

The last time we rode this route, MK and I encountered two big nasty dogs just north of Sanford.  Luckily, I did not see them today.  Instead, I encountered a 'dog block party' on Old US 1 west of Bonsal.  At least eight dogs greeted me and ran along both sides of my bike in the morning.  In the afternoon on my return, only three greeted me, but the rest barked from the sidelines.  See [map]

Today's temperatures started just above freezing, and warmed only slightly.  Intermittent light rain showers blew through the region on my return.  It was more like a cold mist spray booth at an amusement park in the summertime.  Water droplets stung my face, covered my glasses, and soaked my clothes and gear, but it was never really raining.  I was very cool all day, but never uncomfortably cold.

On the return, I gambled and rode the American Tobacco Trail to avoid traffic on NC 751.  The first section in Wake County is packed gravel, and was surprisingly dry.  The paved section in Chatham County had only a few puddles.  And the slimy clay mud pits in the Duham County section were no worse than usual.  It was a great choice.

Traffic was very light throughout the day, even near the finish at the intersection where NC 751 crosses I-40.

Overall, a great day on the bike.

A few boring checkpoint [photos]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Once a foamer, always a foamer

"Foamer" is a rude slang term for someone who likes trains.  The stereotype refers to social outcasts who snort and drool while taking photos of trains. [definitions]

I bike-commuted five times in the last two weeks, a recent record for me.  It's been cold.  One morning was 18 degrees F (-8 C).  Another morning was 22 F (-6 C).  But it was never quite cold enough to numb my subconscious urge to sprint to the track to take a photo when I heard the horn of an approaching train.

So on Monday, I heard the horn.  I barely fumbled a glove off and got the camera out, while still sprinting toward the gates, before the locomotive blew through the crossing.  Drat, a fuzzy photo.

Then, as I was reviewing the photo, and still coasting toward the gates, the end of the unusually short train zipped by.  Quick, another shot.  Double drat, a second fuzzy photo.  Arrgh.

A minute later as I resumed biking, I thought I felt frozen liquid covering my chin.   No, it couldn't be...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

RAAM 2010 Reunion on New Years Day

A great group of randos rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200 in eastern NC today, in absolutely gorgeous weather for January.  It was comfortably above freezing at the start, and it lingered in the 60s F throughout the afternoon.  There was 'some wind' which was great for the return trip.  My stomach absolutely did not want to ride today, but randos Yungfalbz and Jayjay graciously pulled and pushed me through the entire ride.

The highlight of the day was bumping into a large group of cyclists (perhaps 30?) at the Stedman checkpoint in the afternoon.  The group included RAAM finisher Mary and crew Tom and Jen.  A happy reunion ensued.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

PS: Do check out Yungfalbz's rad fenders the next time you see her bike.