Monday, May 26, 2014


     When you ride in a group, in our case no more than two wide, the accepted protocol is to point or yell out obstacles to give the folks behind an heads-up was to what they are approaching.  "Glass" "hole" and "gravel" are what most of these obstacles are, with an occasional "car up."  Glass and hole are self-explanatory, but gravel, while it mostly means loose rocks or pebbles, can mean any sort of loose stuff on the ground.  I was prepared for gravel; what I got was something else.  Can't say for sure, but in a split-second, I had two flat tires.
Captain Carolyn gives Jerry a hand with his two flats.
     At first I thought I had escaped with an easy front tire change out.  But then my back tire was pointed out to me.  Bad words flooded my head (but didn't escape on my tongue).  I only had one spare tube.  Not to worry, we had sixteen riders who all had spares they could lend me.  While I worked on the front tire, ride-leader Carolyn worked on the back.  We used CO2 cartridges to speed things along, but tried to get by with just one.  The front wheel was done, after I had run my fingers around the inside to check for foreign matter.  The back tire needed more air, so I got out my trusty hand-pump and got it up to decent level.  In removing it, I managed to break off the top of the valve stem.  Fortunately, it stayed closed.  I didn't lose any additional air.
     But experienced cyclists know that CO2 seeps through tubes much quicker than air, so the back tire, already soft, would do nothing but get more soft in the next few hours.  Things got worse.  Todd pointed out that my ready-to-mount front tire, while not having any glass or wire or stuff sticking in it, did have a large gash in the sidewall.  Pook ding-fu!!  The extended delay added to my frustration.  I hate holding up the group.  To ease my tension, Todd (after taking our picture) took the rest of the folks, leaving Carolyn and xx (I never got his name, my bad) to assist in getting me back on the road.
       Not to worry!  I carry a "boot" in my saddle pack.  In this case, the "boot" is a four inch section of old tire.  We let the air out, inserted the boot, and replaced the tube (this is the Reader's Digest version).  Somehow, in getting the tire back on the rim, I pinched the tube.  Now we need another tube and some more CO2.  A rider not with our group stopped and offered his CO2.  Thank you very much.  This is getting old quick.
     On the rare occasions when I have had a flat while out riding, I usually bring the tube home and do a post-mortem, and if it is just one hole that is fixable, will patch it up and continue on.  The frustration of getting two flats, only having one tube, missing the gash in the tire, and putting another tube out of commission really put me off my game.  When we got to the gas station turn-around spot in Creedmore, where the rest of the group waited, I just tossed the tubes.  And, knowing my back tire was continuing to bleed air, advised Todd I 'd move on out, and they could catch me on the way in.
      It wasn't such a bad ride back, about sixteen miles, but I took the corners cautiously, not wanting to roll the back tire off the rim.  As I rode I continued to stew about missing the gash when checking the tire.  The group caught up right before getting to the bike shop.  I immediately purchased two new tires (there was nothing wrong with my back tire, but I changed from 700x23 to 700x25), and replacement tubes and cartridges for my friends who donated to my plight.  Quite an expensive ride today.
     Once home I washed the bike and swapped out tires and tubes.  But I had to sacrifice another tube to the gods.  I have yet to put on new tires without damaging at least one tube, no matter how careful I am.  So it is back to the bike shop for two more tubes to carry in my saddle pack, and more CO2 cartridges, plus a new mechanism for the cartridges.  The one I have is Spartan and difficult to use.  I waited an extra day before posting this in order to let my ire expire.  It hasn't.  It will probably never happen again, but if it does, I'll be prepared.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


     One of the truisms of retirement is that you have to plan for it.  A large chunk of time that used to be filled with work-related activity needs to be replaced by something else.  Failure to properly plan usually leads to an unhealthy (mental or physical) lifestyle and a spiral into depression.  Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh or melodramatic, but most retirement seminars devote serious time to the subject.  My plan was to expand on my cycling activities, and when out of the saddle, to write about it.  Easy enough, and here I am nine years later quite enjoying retirement.
     I plan on four races a year: Brazos Valley Senior Games (February); Senior Games State Finals (late March or early April);  USAC State Finals Road Race (September); Gruene Time Trials (November).  Any other competition, cycling vacations, family vacations, and travel are scheduled around those events.  For instance, after earning a State Champion jersey several years ago in the USAC time trials, I missed the next two years because of our family get-together in Georgia.  This year, they are earlier and I will attend.
     This year, things fell nicely into place.  Right after the time trials I leave for an eight-day sojourn cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A week after returning home we head to Georgia (with bicycle).  Ten days after we get home we travel to Europe for a river cruise.  I have a month before leaving to cycle in the Crater Lake area in Oregon.   Next year, our trip to England is scheduled right after Senior Games State Finals.  The 2015 calendar is starting to fill up.

Friday, May 16, 2014


     The title is not a global statement like The Computer Age, or Social Media Phenomenon.  Nope, just my little world.  From the time of my first posts I've been proclaiming that I only do racing as a sideline cycling activity to supplement biking vacations, and that while I enjoy it, where I place in the race is immaterial, as long as it is competitive.  I must admit I don't know what has gotten in to me, but I want to be better.  This has been brewing in the back of my head for a long time, but ignored because... well just because.  I think being left unceremoniously in the dust on my last two 40k road races may have been the precipitating action.
   So, I looked around for a coach.  I think I can improve 10% but what I was doing wasn't getting me any better.  A knowledgeable coach should be able to get me on the right track.  I had one guy in mind, in that he regularly wins overall at the Tour de Gruene.  But in asking my Bicycle Sport Shop Road Club captains who they would recommend, their first choice was David.  We got together and I have started training.  Of course, it is more involved than that, but we will skip the intricacies for the time being.  The new era I'm actually referring to is the entrance of a power meter into my cycling world.
Stages Power Meter
 I've known for years that the best tool to monitor improvement is a power meter.  For years I've refused to purchase one.  Mainly it was the monetary output, but it would also mean new wheels, and, until I bought my Garmin 500, a new computer.  I'm quite attached to my Rolf Vector Pro wheels which came with my Roark in 2001, roll well, and have never needed truing,  despite hitting some humongous potholes.   My TT bike has a Zipp 808 and I don't want to mess with it.  My coach insists on a power meter.
     Fortunately, there is now on the market a relatively inexpensive (operative word: relatively) and reliable power meter that works off the left crank arm.  Thus, it is interchangeable between my bikes. It has just been delivered, and I'll at least get a baseline reading down before racing in two weeks.   In my cycling world, focus shifts from HR to watts.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


     I'm glad to be retired and not going to work.  When I was younger, in the 70's, I did a short three-mile commute to work, through the neighborhoods, with a custom lunch bag strapped to the handlebars. That was when coat and tie was required work attire.  I was unique.  One of the things I would tell my co-workers was that I was home before most of them were out of the parking lot.
     We moved and biking was relegated to recreational use.  Then the office moved and once again biking became a possibility, but short lived.  I was negotiating for a bike locker, but after initial agreement, it was rejected in favor of city-mandated bike racks.  The bike racks have never been used.  Just as well I didn't get the locker because I would have felt obligated then to bike to work.  The two roads available had regular car crashes, fast speeds, no bike lane (or shoulder for that matter).  Still with required coat and tie, the logistics were more than I wanted to undertake.  On the opening day, I cycled to work just to let them know I could, but it was a one-time effort.  A few years later, one summer when I was training for the Hotter'N Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, Marilane would drop me and my bike off in the morning and I would take a circuitous, thirty-mile route home.
     That was the old days, (sigh).  Today biking to work is more accepted, routes safer. But here is where I differ from those intrepid souls who challenge automobiles on their own turf: if it isn't safe, don't do it.  Riding neighborhoods, no problem.  Bike lanes or wide shoulders, no problem.  High traffic Interstate access roads: no way.  Case in point: the driver moved from behind a vehicle in the left lane into the right lane and didn't see the cyclist.  The driver was cited for "unsafe lane change."  We see similar stories all the time.  The physics of autos vs. cyclists requires the cyclist to be ever-vigilant and not put themselves needlessly in harm's way. 
     I've only been hit, by a pick-up, once;  he rolled a stop sign when I thought he had stopped completely.  I've also had to lay it down to avoid a car leaving a stop sign.  I was doing 40 mph when I saw what was happening, about 20 when I hit the asphalt (interestingly enough, he was a cyclist driving to begin his morning ride).  Both times I was on a "safe" route.
     Two points I would like to make in this post: 1) Continue to push for bike lanes, shoulders, bike routes and positive legislation; 2) Don't be that cyclist who causes road-rage in already antagonistic drivers.  And a third point: some attitudes will never change.
     Yeah, you can take care of yourself, you were in the right, and just to make sure "he" knew about it, you gave him the finger.  What will happen to the next cyclist he sees?  He doesn't see himself as Goliath vs David, just man-on-man.  Give your fellow cyclist a break.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


     I began this cycling blog to record my thoughts about, mostly, the cycling I do from home.  But you must understand, my main cycling focus is taking cycling vacations.  Time and money restrict the number of trips I can take, and I usually end up recording the adventures in a book, not a blog.  At the same time, in order to be fairly fit for these forays, I necessarily do a lot of cycling.  And, if you follow my writings, you know I'm a firm believer in friends and variety in order to keep things fresh and interest high.  It was my search for variety that originally put me in touch with the Senior Games program, and introduced me to racing and, specifically, time trial racing.
     This morning I raced a 20k time trial and came in third in the age group.  But let us define terms: "My" age group is 70-74 in Senior Games and this is what I go by.  USAC goes with different guidelines, and this morning I raced in the 60+ category.  The two who were faster were also ten years younger.  It doesn't bother me not being competitive against them.  As a matter of fact, they are nice guys and I've been acquainted with them for years, but in Senior Games not as competitors but more as an admiring fan.  As an aside: Stuart also beat me in Beaumont earlier this year.
     After the race we were talking practice drills and I learned what they do.  Since I have just procured a cycling coach to help improve my performance, I'm finally really learning how to go fast. Which leads me to the stats of my time trials in College Station this year.  Naturally, Brazos Valley doesn't know who takes cycling vacations and who doesn't, but I do.  Here is my point: without any specific race-training, but by undertaking strenuous cycling vacations, I'm pretty darn fast for my age!  Perhaps some variety by way of a cycling vacation would interest you.
     The race-training will be taking the place of neighborhood rides since I can't add any more saddle-time to the schedule.  But it is a new variation and certainly will have my interest this year.  
The cycling vacations will supplement.  We'll see how things turn out later in the year.