Sunday, December 8, 2013

Morse Code

I heard a great radio advertisement for Motel 6 this week.  It ended with the announcer spelling out a snarky three-letter-acronym in Morse Code.  Yes, the punch line was in Morse Code!!!

My alarm clock radio had just awakened me.  I was not really listening.  It took me a few seconds to recognize it was Morse Code, then decode the letters, and insert the letters back into the context of the message, but then I was laughing out loud in bed.

Juxtaposing a modern snarky acronym in an antique encoding technique was brilliant.

So listen up, you old ham radio operators, military wonks, and anthropologists.  Pay attention.  You'll love it.

PS (obligatory bike content):  I guess Morse Code is like bicycling. You may get rusty, but you never totally forget.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

RUSA Carthage Coffee Run 200K

Today's solo ride:
- No wind
- No dogs
- No rain
- No dogs
- No mechanicals
- No dogs
- Light traffic
- No dogs
- Friendly cyclists
- No dogs

I think I was dreaming.

- No photos.  
Well, just a few checkpoint photos for the archives.
And one glorious violet metal roof.  Want!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why bike???

With gasoline prices like these, why should I bike?

Of course, I discovered this *after* bicycling 200K yesterday...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stupid Car Tricks

I've learned two variations on the 'right hook' recently.

In the photo at left, behold the 'Two Lane Right Hook'.

Today I approached an intersection in a bike lane.  In my mirror, I saw a car approaching in the adjacent lane with right turn signal flashing.  I got ready for a typical right hook.  Instead, the car first revved and accelerated abruptly into the next lane.  Then it executed the right hook across two lanes.  At full speed.  Fastest I've ever seen.  In the dark.  Amazing.  (I'm sure it surprised the car driver tailgating him too.)

In the photo at right, behold the 'Right Hook U-Turn'.

Earlier this summer, I approached an intersection on a quiet two-lane country road in a heavily wooded area.  I saw a car coming with turn signal going, and he right-hooked me without incident.  However, as soon as he turned, he spotted a 'road closed' barricade on the side street.  Without slowing, the driver made a u-turn and proceeded back out onto the main road.  Directly toward me.  He absolutely did not see me.  His eyes went wide with surprise as I screamed 'stop stop' 3-4 times directly into his face through the open window as I hunkered down and turned tight left alongside him to avoid the t-bone.  When he finally stopped, his face was emotionless.  Drugs?  Or just clueless?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spooky Dry Fog

Four randos rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K today: Jayjay, Mike O, Biker Bob, and me. Gorgeous weather, totally unseasonal for October. Pleasant traffic. Only one two pesky flats.

Click the photo at left to see the lifting spooky dry fog which had lasted three hours this morning. Very Halloween. Photo at right is Mike, Jayjay, and Bob.

 Great day on the bikes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

High Bridge Trail State Park, Farmville VA

I invited my non-cyclist wife to explore a new rail-trail which opened last year up in Virginia.  We would cycle 5 miles from the town of Farmville to the namesake bridge, then back.

Imagine my surprise when she accepted my offer.  Imagine even more suprise when she insisted on cycling to the eastern end-of-trail for a total of 30 miles round-trip...

Highly recommended.

Trail website:

Tourist photos:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Channeling Vincent Price

A guy named Michael Jackson is running for mayor in the town of Erwin, NC.  Jayjay and I spotted dozens of campaign signs in the early morning as we rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K.  My mind immediately thought of the famous singer of the same name.  Unfortunately, I also thought of his zombie song "Thriller", and the dulcet tones of Vincent Price's narration.  It started playing in an endless loop in my mind and kept playing all day.  Arrgh.

Beautiful weather, light winds, light traffic, no mechanicals, and the grill at the Marathon checkpoint in Stedman was open for both visits.  A great day on the bikes.

Here are a few photos, including bridge construction over the Cape Fear River near Tar Heel, NC.  Photos
Or view at the same photos on Flickr:  Photos

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The sound of lightning

Lightning sounds like electric arc welding.  It's a steady coarse buzzing sound.  It's exactly like you remember from old Frankenstein movies.  And if you're close, it's really loud.

Jayjay and I heard it 'REALLY LOUD' today while riding the RUSA Tar Heel 200K in eastern North Carolina.  We had just ridden into a squall, the lightning was getting closer, and we were totally soaked.  Oh, and we were the tallest things around as we rode through barren farm fields on both sides.  I was getting a bit concerned.

Then it happened.  Cloud-to-cloud lightning from far to our left, passed directly over our heads, to some destination far to our right.  "Dzdzdzdzdzdzddz".   I got a little more concerned.

Luckily, we were a short distance from the Averasboro Battlefield Museum.  Our bikes took flight on their own, the fastest they did all day, and got us to the museum pronto.  We sheltered there for 15 minutes as the storm passed.

The rest of the day, however, both before and after this event, was gorgeous.  Continuous overcast.  Intermittent warm rains.  Wonderful tailwind on the return.

And we passed Rando Ian near the turnaround point at Tar Heel, NC.  (Click the thumbnail photo to enlarge.)

A great day on the bikes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Weather Wonderland

I rode the RUSA Belmar-Princeton-Belmar 200K solo on Saturday in central New Jersey.  Thick soupy fog,  four torrential rains, beastly hot sunshine, and delightfully cool cloudy winds.  All in one day.  It was great.

I rode the four miles along the ocean to the 6am start.  Dozens of police, vendors, and organizers were setting up for the day's Belmar 5K foot race.  Luckily, I was able to bike through the cordoned-off road, rather than have to detour even before the start of my ride.

I rode the first three hours without eyewear since it was so foggy.  Fog instantly condensed on the lenses.  I missed my rear-view mirror.

The housing market is booming back.  I saw several new housing developments since I rode last summer.

Roadside poison ivy is booming too, vines hanging from trees over the road, and lush ground growth encroaching along the fog line.  Be careful.

As I rode through Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force base, I heard lots of booms, but encountered no black helicopters this year.  A few miles later, a huge lumbering four-engine propeller plane passed directly overhead to a landing.  Neat.

A first: As I passed one of many horse farms, I saw two harness-racing rigs racing around a track.  It looked like two large men in little  recumbent chariots getting mud kicked up in their faces from the hooves.  I laughed.

Firemen were collecting donations at the main intersection in Hightstown.  I got stopped at the traffic light next to a friendly fireman.  He chatted me up, and asked my route.  He immediately interrupted me, incredulous, as I started listing towns.  "Wait, Belmar at the shore???"  Excited conversation followed.  Yay rando.

One of the checkpoints is at a pizza restaurant in Cranbury.  I couldn't resist.  I sat for a slice.  Delicious.

As a kid, I loved biking in the rain.  I especially loved riding through lakes that formed in a nearby park (where the only hazard was bumping into a submerged picnic table, but that's another story).  Saturday's rain was a throwback.  Each time I rode through a storm, I got totally soaked, raised rooster tails through shallow puddles, and the rain temperature was comfortable and not freezing.  Yay.

I did zen cycling most of the day.  I had memorized the route and its recent updates, never looked at cue sheet or GPS.  And no odometer.  I 'woke up' several times wondering where I was, and always recognized my location shortly.  Fun!

This is a great route.  Many thanks to Rando Paul for creating and maintaining it.

Click here to see a few boring checkpoint photos

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My bike climbed Mt Mitchill

Hopefully no one will notice the unique spelling and fine print...

(For my non-cyclist friends, this pokes fun at a famous hill climb in North Carolina with similar name: Mt Mitchell)

Monday, June 3, 2013

200K meets 600K redux

Three years ago, Jayjay and I rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K in North Carolina and crossed paths with riders doing a 600K.  Here is the original blog post.

History repeated itself yesterday...

First, we passed a lone cyclist at the post office in Wade, NC.  He seemed like a rando: front bag, conspicuous clothing, cheery confidence.  He said 'good morning' before we could greet him.  We didn't think about the 600K until a few minutes later when we remembered some recent newsgroup chatter.  Could he have been on the return route of the 600K?

Shortly thereafter, our hunch was confirmed.  We passed and recognized rando Rick with another rider.  They stopped to chat.  Then we passed rando Byron who recognized me.  Then a group of six randos: Geof, John, Mike, Keith, Tom, and Jacob.

Finally, on our return stop at the checkpoint in Erwin NC, the cashier said "Oh I just signed one of these cards ten minutes ago".

They were everywhere.  Wish I had brought my cow bell!

Great day on the bike.  Photos

Update:  Thanks to Rick and Martin filling in the missing names.  The first mystery rider was Rando Gar.   Congrats to all.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bike Kayak Trailer

I designed and built this trailer for a friend. 

I spent a good bit of time thinking about the hitch.  My favorite part is using a short piece of automotive heater hose to wrap around the bike seat post.  It flexes a little, absorbs small shocks, and attaches and removes quickly with no tools.  I like it.

The trailer has a wooden frame with low-speed low-pressure wheels, slightly smaller than wheelbarrow wheels.  They roll nicely and absorb minor shocks.

It's all connected by a long piece of black iron pipe, bent to the contours of the rear bike wheel and the bow of the kayak.  And the pipe swivels in the frame so everything moves.

and the 16-second video:

With a little paint, and some red blinkies for those full-moon cruises, it'll be all set.  I just hope she doesn't try to back it down the boat ramp...

Friday, May 10, 2013

RUSA Rando Roulette 200K - Abbreviated

I was in Las Vegas Nevada on business last week.  After my conference was over, I stayed for the weekend, rented a bike, and rode the first 80 miles/128 km of the RUSA Rando Roulette 200K last Saturday.

The route is a loop around Las Vegas.  I started in the town of Henderson to the south, rode east and then north along Lake Mead, then west through the city of North Las Vegas.  Scenery along the lake was desolate and gorgeous.  Riding through the city in traffic was fun.  The route continued through the Red Rock Canyon to the west, but I didn't make it.

Determination vs Temptation:  I didn't finish the official ride. It got hot mid-day (around 95F/35C), and I was not acclimated.  I totally melted in the sunshine.  Now the route just happened to pass by the Bonneville Bus Station in North Las Vegas, and I just happened to know there was an express bus back to my hotel in Henderson, with bike racks and air conditioning, every 30 minutes, for only $2.  Two dollars!  All this immediately flashed through my mind in an instant as soon as I saw the bus station.  I knocked that devil off my shoulder and shouted 'keep pedaling!'

But after biking 5 miles further and finally realizing I really could not make the next checkpoint in time, I decided to end my ride.  (Oh, and shivers, cramps, and a few 'bad decisions' in traffic from dehydration helped confirm my decision too).  Back to the bus station!

A fun memory:  As I waited at the bus station in my rando reflectivewear, a bicycle policeman on patrol shouted out and complimented me as the 'most visible cyclist' he has ever seen.  Yesss!

Many thanks to Utah Rando Richard for designing the route and sending me a card.  And many thanks to NC Rando Rick for recommending the route and recommending the Fiesta Henderson Hotel.  I would love to try again some day with better preparation and/or during a cooler time of year.

Enjoy my unusually large set of photos from the ride with lots of little vignettes:

And enjoy my tourist photos from Las Vegas with particularly snarky captions:

Another great day on the bike...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Snaps of the commute

I was in no hurry to get to work this morning, so I stopped several times...

I took photos of crumbling pavement for the city maintenance website.

I took photos of trees encroaching into a roadway.

I carried brush and branches out of a bike lane.

And I practiced flicking my ID badge at the corporate security checkpoint and squeezing past the gate in one smooth motion, just to postpone going into the office.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

RUSA Lake Gaston 210K

Jayjay and I rode the RUSA Lake Gaston 210K for the first time on Sunday.  We started in Wilson NC, rode north, crossed Lake Gaston, barely crossed the state line to reach Gasburg VA, then back.

The bad:  I was sick with a cough & cold.  I felt bonked before starting.  Then I began chest-hacking and eyes swelling midday probably from the impending pollen bloom.  Oh and there were some hills.  And an afternoon windfest.

The good:  Excellent route.  Few turns.  Minimal checkpoints.  Minimal traffic, since it's definitely not boating season yet.  Friendly dogs.  Lots of idyllic trees.  And our first RUSA ride credit in VA.  [update 4/11] Oh, and I almost forgot:  Two separate motorcyclists gave us the secret cyclist wave.  Yes, two. So cool!

Photos:  Click here to see the obligatory photos

Geek whining:  In my never-ending quest to appear tres chic, I uploaded photos to Facebook from my wifi-only phone at the start and finish on Sunday.  Unfortunately, Facebook didn't publish them until I signed-in again from my phone on Tuesday night.  And it published them three minutes apart.  So unhelpful.  Rando Skiff even thought we were starting a night ride.  I must work on it...

Thanks to Rando Tim for preparing cards and processing our results.  A great day on the bikes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"An R-12 here, an R-12 there...

...and pretty soon we're talking real bling."

This curmudgeon says: The RUSA R-12 program is really not about cycling, not about fitness, and not about 'the bike'.

It is a challenge of logistics and scheduling.

If you have the right family and job situation, a moderate climate, and reasonable routes nearby, you can do it.

April is the best month to start.  You'll get eight months done in fine weather, and having eight months 'on the record' will motivate you through the winter.

So just compare yourself to photos of me and laugh heartily.  Then start planning.  April is just around the corner.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fearless Leader Alan's 70th birthday 70 mile populaire

A fine group of NC randos turned out for Fearless Leader Alan's 70th birthday populaire this morning.  Happy Birthday, Alan.

Also, congrats to Dean on his R-72 continuous streak, and congrats to Jerry on his R-84 continuous streak.

Photos at the start:  Photos

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Isn't it ironic?

That we advertise our cycling activities...

...on the backs of our cars.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thanks to the volunteers

Rando Skiff recently wrote a series of articles analyzing the rides of North Carolina randonneurs. We enjoy talking about our epic rides in the wet, windy, cold, nights, uphill both ways, etc.

But we don't do it alone. For every ride in Skiff's analysis, there is a RUSA volunteer who scouted the route, created maps and cue sheet, submitted it for approval, then prepared cards before each ride, and processed the results afterward. Most also exchange a few emails with every rider, and send words of encouragement and then congratulations. And there are more volunteers behind the scenes at RUSA HQ.

So as I look back on Jayjay and my RUSA rides over the past four years, I'd like to say thanks again to the RBAs, perm owners, and admins who made it possible for us to sport 'R-48 Continuous Streak' bumper stickers (see photos).

Today's photos from of the RUSA Tar Heel 200K

Friday, March 1, 2013

Carthage Coffee Run 200K

I rode the CCR 200K yesterday, in central North Carolina.

Cold:   It was 35F/2C at the start, and was predicted to reach 55F/13C.  It never made it.  In fact, it got colder in the morning.  Not bad if you dress for it, but alas, I didn't.  What was I thinking?

A few miles from the start, crossing over Jordan Lake, I was daydreaming about swimming there in the summer.  Shortly thereafter, I got hit with a gust of frigid arctic crosswind.  Instant core chilling wind.  Luckily I didn't have to stop for the next hour.

Wind:  Amazingly, I never fought significant headwinds.  Lots of gusty crosswinds.  And some gusty tailwinds.  Little help, but psychologically wonderful.

Mystery quiz photo:  Click the photo to enlarge.  What is it?  Answer is in the photo album.

Detours:  Sanford was a busy place yesterday...

A construction crew was tearing up the pavement on Charlotte St to work on pipes or cables or something.  Flagmen at each end of the project had reversible stop and go signs.  It took the first flagman a few seconds to realize that I wanted to ride through, but then he dutifully called on his radio to his partner, then flipped his sign to go.  I felt like royalty.

Next, I discovered the CSX railroad crossing in Sanford is being refurbished.  All the pavement was gone, and the crossties looked like they had all been replaced.  I detoured one city block away to the next crossing, then one block back.  The scene was deserted in the morning, but on my return I got to watch track maintenance rigs at work.  Foamer.

Speaking of foamers, when I detoured one block away, I took a photo of the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad 'diamond' in Sanford.  That's railroad lingo for the intricate trackwork where two railroad lines cross each other at grade.  See wikipedia.  

Economy:  The economy may finally be improving.  I spotted 'life' in several dormant housing construction projects south and west of Sanford.  Love to see monster homes on tiny lots sprout in the countryside.

Dogs:  None.  Zip.  Nada.  I heard about eight dogs bark at me, but none chased me on the road.  Must have been too cold.

Traffic:  Extremely light.  On Lower Moncure Rd between Moncure and Sanford, I saw or heard more airplanes at the adjacent little airport and in the sky than I did cars.  Most of the day was long stretches of Zen Cycling.  and Zen Ascents.

Auto-peletons:  I hate packs of cars with no space between them...

My first near-miss was on Old US 1 when a pack passed me from behind into oncoming traffic.  The lead car passed safely, but the followers could not see the oncoming traffic until too late.  Lots of horns, scattering, and dirt flying.  Uff da.

Then on my return, on NC 751, the leader of a pack passed me with his right turn signal flashing.  I saw him coming in my mirror, so I slowed before the right hook.  As expected, he jammed on his brakes to turn right.  That left me alongside his lemmings, who all jammed on their brakes and skidded and swerved left and right, stopping awfully close to me.  Stupid tailgaters.

ATT:  I rode the American Tobacco Trail on my return trip.  The section in Durham County from Chatham County to Massey Chapel Rd is now paved.  No more slimy clay mud pits.  Yay.

The entire trail was almost deserted.  In 13mi/21km, I passed only two horses, two wheelchair riders, two cyclists, and maybe a dozen runners.  Empty.  Totally bucolic.

Photos:  Click here to see my photo album.

Conclusion:  Another great day on the bike.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Got CPR?

Bull City residents:  Invest four hours and $3 to learn the latest CPR and AED techniques from a fire dept EMS captain.  Excellent class.  Available for a few more weekends...  Click upcoming meetups, then scroll way down.

Do it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bike Lane Schmutz

Three punctures in one week...

Click on the thumbnail photo to enlarge the image.  Listen to the clicking on this 12-second video.     My rear tire picked up a twisted nail in the bike lane on Cornwallis Rd this afternoon.  I haven't swept the bike lane with my broom lately, so it's full of schmutz.  There's never any debris on roads without bike lanes.  I'd much rather share wide roads with cars than have bike lanes.  Meh.

Last week in Texas, I got a flat in my front tire as I walked my bike up steep hills off-road, in brushy ground cover that turned out to have a harvest of thorns.  I found one thorn in the tire, removed it, and finished my ride.   But when I got home, I discovered there were actually *two* punctures in the tube, which means there was another protrusion somewhere in the tire waiting to puncture the tube as I finished my ride.  I was really lucky those last 30 miles...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Born To Be Wild 200K

I rode the RUSA Born To Be Wild 200K permanent, north and west of Austin TX, on Friday.  I was in Austin for the week on business, so I brought my bike.  This ride is one of several permanents hosted by the Hill Country Randonneurs.  This ride passed through the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  See Online Map.

The route owner warned me 'it was hilly'.  He was right.  It was the hilliest ride I've ever done.

Another rider warned me about traffic on one road, and long stretches without services.  Excellent advice.  I was ready.

The cue sheet was perfect and easy to memorize.  I never got lost, and I never needed to power on my GPS.  No bonus miles.

Scenery was beautiful.  Weather was like springtime.  Most drivers were incredibly cordial.

The wind all day was tough.  I made the first checkpoint with only a few minutes to spare.  Luckily, my time buffer improved throughout the ride.

One of the clerks at the first checkpoint squealed happily when she saw my perm card.  "I haven't seen one of those in forever", as she grabbed it and signed it.

I forgot sunblock.  Not good.

The night before the ride, I bought six tacos from Taco Cabana with chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and salsa.  I froze four, chilled two, and they survived the day in my insulated bag.  Delicious.  Those, plus my usual powerade, powder, and candy bars were plenty.

I got a puncture in my front tire about 30 miles from the finish.  I found a thorn, dug out as much as possible, and lined the inside with an inch of rim tape.  It held air until the finish.  And, as a bonus, it felt great to sit and relax while fixing it.

Outside the CVS drugstore at the finish, a gaggle of girl scouts were selling cookies.  Much to their surprise, I bought two boxes.  Great post-rando food.

Here are a few photos of checkpoints and random shots along the ride:  Photos

And here is a short video (1:20) from my new helmet cam.  See me, my shadow, and a few descents.  Listen as I say "whee" at 0:50.  Video

The biggest difference from a ride in North Carolina?  It wasn't the endless hills.  Nor the springlike weather.  It was, drum roll please... no dogs!  I like Texas.

Another great day on the bike.

Many thanks to the route owner for answering my questions before the ride, and for processing my results.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rando Recognition

Some randonneurs ride for the medals.  Others to get our names on the RUSA website.  I, however, have discovered a new reason...

Click on the thumbnail photo at left to see an actual unretouched photo of a receipt I received yesterday at the Burger King in Benson NC, at the finish of the RUSA Tar Heel 200K with Jayjay & Biker Bob.  It's great to be recognized.

Temps were well below freezing until after lunch.  We were cold most of the day.  Drinks bought at stores always felt lukewarm, because we were accustomed to the frozen slushy drinks on our bikes.  As the sun was setting, I got concerned that I had no more layers to add, since I had kept everything on throughout the day.  Alas, we finished fine.

Every time a dog charged us, Biker Bob gave us great demonstrations of his tiny air horn.  I was impressed.

Aside from one near miss with a car driver pulling out of their blind driveway, traffic was light, cordial, and incident free.  Very nice.

The best part of the day was meeting up with Randos Dean and Mick.  They were riding another perm today and had timed their arrival in Stedman with ours.  Very nice.

A great day on the bikes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Impulsive Purchases

I bought a cow bell at my favorite store, Harbor Freight Tools.

But why?  I never watch bike races.

Maybe I'll carry it on a permanent someday...