Saturday, October 25, 2014


     I started my website,, when I wrote my first book, Bicycle Journeys with Jerry.  Being a computer-phobe, I enlisted help and we made a simple to navigate, simple for me to update website.  It served its purpose.  It was nice.  It was vanilla.  It was blah.  Enter my son, Kurt, and his site, (or  He has pictures automatically rotating (I believe that is using a slider widget, whatever that is) and a countdown timer to the next event.  That got me to thinking maybe I should add some stuff to my site.
     Two things happened to push me over the edge (using this metaphor because I really, really, don't like messing with computers).  Publishing my second book, Gotta Go! Cycling Vacations in Fantastic Places, necessitated adding it to the website.  And, one of the folks in the Bicycle Sport Shop Club Sunday ride promised to help me understand how to use various media outlets to spread the word about my books.  I'm sure she doesn't quite comprehend how much of a Luddite I am.  But one of the first things she said was my website needed an upgrade.
     If you are reading this before Halloween, clicking on will show that the site is Under Construction.  But eventually it will have both books displayed, pictures on sliders (currently we are thinking one for the home page, and one each for the books), but still keeping a simple navigation to various pages.
     As soon as the site is active, I'll be putting out the word on the books, but if you can't wait, Gotta Go! is available as an E-book from both Amazon and Nook, or a printed version from Amazon.  If you are desiring a signed, dedicated copy, you can notify me as I have copies available.  The E-Book has links to my Flickr page that has all of my pictures listed in chapter-order.

Monday, October 20, 2014


     My son, Chris, is an engineer at a radio station.  He also assiduously stays up with all the latest technology and trends in media.  Several years ago he and a friend presented at the annual convention.  One of the main points (I'm making my own point and may not be entirely precise, but you get the drift) was "you don't even know what you don't know" and then proceeded to elucidate.  His was the hit of the convention and subsequently, their presentations have been overflowing.
     I bring this up, because that was me (the clueless audience) today.  In previous posts, I acknowledge I am quite knowledgeable about changing tires/tubes, but will occasionally sacrifice a tube to the changing-god, usually due to a mis-placed tire lever.  In an effort to squeeze fewer seconds from my time-trial time, I was advised to switch to latex tubes.  I picked up a couple, breathing deeply as I noticed the price, and prepared to install.  This was last Thursday.
     In addition to the tubes, I switched out the tires.  Bear with me.  For reasons I won't go into, I had a generic non-racing tire on the back, and a racing tire on the front.  I replaced the front tube with the latex and easily slid the Vittoria Diamante Pro back on the rim, using only my hands.  In researching latex tires, I noticed numerable blog posts about never using tire levers.  For those who love their Continental 4000s tires as much as I do, you know that an old guy with arthritic thumbs wasn't going to accomplish the task without mechanical help.  Not to worry, us old guys think outside the box.  I was going out to the Driveway to watch the Bicycle Sport Shop guys race.  The organizers always have a bike shop tent there to assist the racers in their need.  While he wasn't busy, I brought up my wheel, with the last six inches of tire needing to be nudged over the rim.  After explaining it had a latex tube, the young guy huffed and puffed, but got it installed.  Eureka!
     In going over race strategy, my coach wanted me to have 90 psi in the front tire and 95 psi in the back.  I've gone as light as 80 psi on my road bike, so saw no difficulty with this.  Until I read the sidewall on the Vittoria.  It will go up to 145 psi, but the minimum is 100 psi.  Pook ding fu!  Dare I risk it?!  Nope, switch it again.  And again, I had zero problem with the back tire/tube change-out since it was now the Vittoria.  And again, the Conti gave me a problem (although in hindsight, this was probably a good thing).  While I didn't think I'd done anything wrong, the tube would not hold air.  I'd put about twenty pounds in, but when I started to insert the tire bead, the tube lost air.  Except when I closed the valve.  But the wheel is a Zipp 404 with tube extenders, so I need the valve to be open.  I've done it this way for the last five years.
     I know better than to beat my head against a wall; off to the bike shop.  Ace mechanic Marshall (who just won a 24 hour off-road two man team bike race this weekend) listened to my explanation and calmly walked over to his wall and came back with a Zipp Valve Tangente 404 kit.  Or, to the uninitiated, a high end valve extender built just for the type of situation I had.  Among other things, it eliminates the need for plumbers tape, and allows for accuracy in pumping up the tires to the proper psi.  Fortunately, at this time, I don't need it on the 808.  I don't think they are long enough, so will be more expense.  Friends, not all valve-extenders are created equal.
     I know there is so much I don't know.  But I also know there is somebody who does.  There is always room for additional knowledge.


     It was only last week, cycling with Shannon on the Gruene Time Trial preview ride, that I firmly attested that I detested riding on Parmer Lane.  Shannon is a regular on the Saturday morning rides which go up and down Parmer.  Don't get me wrong, this is a great workout, what with rolling hills and a wide shoulder, and good asphalt.
     Unfortunately, this also comes with all sorts of crud in the road and lots of traffic buzzing your ear.  I emphatically explained that the only reason I rode it a few months ago was that I needed a recovery ride on Saturday, so joined the beginners and cruised easily for twenty-five miles.
     So a few days ago, as I pulled into the Bicycle Sport Shop parking lot on Parmer, I knew I would soon be eating my words.  Yes, she was there and yes, she was surprised to see me given my previous remarks.  What can I say.  I needed seventy-five minutes of easy spinning, because I had more or less messed up my cycling agenda for the week and needed to get back on track.  As for the easy spinning, I moved up the cog and worked on a higher cadence.
     It was a really good cycling experience, if you didn't mind all the construction barrels pushing you into the roadway.  After the first set, however, I went inside anyhow except when the way was blocked.  Crud notwithstanding, I didn't get a flat.  Traffic was heavy but nobody seemed overtly aggressive towards the cyclists.
     Mission accomplished.  And a much better ride on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


     This long post is more an inside-look at how planned activities somehow get derailed but still come out being okay.  I start with last weekend.
     Marilane took our grandson (and his mother) to New York City for his tenth birthday.  That left me with four days of cycling (I would say "uninterrupted" but that might get misinterpreted).  Friday I dropped them off at the airport and returned home to ride the Limmer Loop.  The plan called for 75 minutes, and I did an out-and-back in 74 minutes 59 seconds.  Needless to say, I've done this a few times and know when to turn around.  So far, so good.
     Saturday called for another 75 minute spin, but rain and wind had me deciding to skip cycling for a day.  Besides, ever since State, my legs have not been very lively.  Sunday called for a forty mile group ride, perfect in that the Bicycle Sport Shop ride happened to be forty-one miles.  I arrived on time, after checking the radar and seeing that the front (and rain) had blown through and only a few sprinkles were left.  I had my rain jacket on and off we went.  Immediately I noticed the riding was a whole lot smoother than it should have been.  A quick check of my front tire gave me the reason.  Faced with the high probability of having to change the tube in the now-sprinkling rain (and holding up the group) or calling a quick end to my ride, I did a quick right and returned to the car.  Two miles hardly qualifies as a ride.
     Monday was a planned "off" day, and again weather played a part in keeping me off the bike.  Plus, Marilane was returning and the house needed to be squared-away, and the group picked up at the airport.  
     Meanwhile, I planned my preview of Gruene for either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the weather.  To that end, I posted on FB my intention and inquired if anyone wished to accompany me.  Shannon Marie Bryant responded positively, and Wednesday was agreed to.  Bear with me for just a little more background.  
     Tuesday my agenda was the usual ride: I'd do an hour by myself then join the Tuesday Night Bicycle Sport Shop group for an hour and a half.  Wednesday called for some hard intervals at various wattage and minutes between.  You see where I am going.  I switched days on the intervals, doing them Tuesday morning.  It was a hard workout and should have been all for the day.  But this was the last Tuesday evening ride until next spring.  This is an intermediate group, but I can generally stay ahead of two-thirds of them on the critical Old Spicewood Springs and 360 sections.  I figured I'd hang out at the back and take it easy.  I should have read all of the FB postings.  For this last evening, it seems a lot of folks were trying for a PR on them!  As it turned out, I got left in the dust, so to speak.  The morning workout had drained all the "oomph" out of me.
     So we finally get to Wednesday.  Shannon came by and we loaded up her gear in my car and off we went, arriving mid-morning at the Lazy L&L Campground, the starting line for the race.  The morning started at 55 degrees, but had climbed to a nice 68, clear blue sky and only a slight wind when we started.  The first seven miles are on River Road and are mostly flat or slightly rolling, and an excellent warm-up.  She has a hamstring that needed pampering, and we agreed she would lead at her pace except for the steeper hills, where I needed to see just what gears I needed in order to choose which bike to ride in the race.  Her opening pace was quicker than I expected, and I struggled to keep up.
     Then we got to the first climb.  I used all of my gears, including a short spurt standing, but that was sufficient to determine my time-trial bike could make it up okay.  I stopped for a short squirt of gel, only to see Shannon ride by.  She was doing heart-rate long intervals, so her goal was keeping around 85% of max (she told me the range, I'm just assigning a percentage).  For the next fifty minutes we climbed six hills, certainly using a lot of small gears and keeping her in the assigned range.  Of course, there were a few downhills also, but after the sixth climb, it was all mostly downhill.  We manged to make enough right turns to finally get the wind at our backs for the last three hills.  Once back on to River Road, we started a three-mile cool-down to allow her hamstring to softly recover.  All the while we were noting the course.  It still had a few sharp inclines, but continued generally down.
     Gorgeous weather.  The temperature had climbed to 84 degrees when we finished, and the sky remained azure blue.  We finished in one hour, forty-one minutes.  I did it in one hour, thirty-nine minutes last year, but didn't do three miles of cool-down.  
     It was a great workout, and I'm glad I had the excellent company.  Some of the sections I had not remembered, and for a few of the hills I mentally noted how to attack them.  Unlike last year, the finish line isn't the downhill into Sattler, so a little bit needs to be saved for the last section of River Road.  There are still some openings in the team time trial on Sunday (the ITT is full).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


     But first, a cycling report.  On a much smaller scale, I am experiencing why the pros say you cannot get "up" for multiple races without significant down-time.  When doing two grand tours, they normally only go 100% in one of them; and Tinkoff aside, doing three in a year is asking for serious problems.  Anyhow, following my effort at Fort Hood, I'm finding very little life in the legs.  I'm still riding, but without much "pop."  Not today, it's raining.
     When not cycling or any outdoor activity for that matter, I occasionally read.  This blog post is about the new series by Robert Galbraith about a private detective named Cormoran Strike.  What follows is why I picked up on this in the first place.
     Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.  Just as Harry Potter was becoming popular, my wife, an elementary school administrator at the time, had her curiosity piqued when seeing really young boys, who should have been out running around the schoolyard, in the halls reading or clutching a book.  Further investigation revealed Harry Potter as the instigator.  Anything that could induce such rabid reading required additional scrutiny.  She procured a copy and read it.   Then she brought it home and insisted I read it.  Let me tell you, it took a bit of convincing to get me to read a "kids" book.
     The rest is history.  Like the rest of the world, I became hooked, eagerly awaiting each new release.  And, like the rest of the world, felt a void when the series came to an end.  When the news came several years later that she had written an adult book, The Casual Vacancy, we bought a copy and I settled down to continue my association with Ms. Rowling.  I tell you now, it was very adult and very dark.  I waded through in order to give my wife a heads-up.  My take: I liked the story and character development, but she was 'way too tedious in describing everything.  About 200 pages, in my estimation.  That rocked her pedestal a bit.
     Enter Cormoran Strike and The Cuckoo's Calling, the first book in the series.  The release of the second book, The Silkworm, is what got my attention.  There was a tie-in between Robert Galbraith and J.K. Rowling, so naturally I wanted to see if she had gotten any better.  Marilane did the research and got the first book for me.  Also, I read the reviews; especially the one promising better development in the second and ongoing books.  Again, in The Cuckoo's Calling, excess verbosity in location descriptions marred an otherwise well-put-together mystery plot.  But it was much less than her first book.  I've just finished The Silkworm.  The major characters are being nicely developed, which bodes well for future installments.  I'm becoming pretty good at skipping extraneous paragraphs, and there weren't too many this time.  Hopefully, she, or her editor, will continue to excise gratuitous descriptions and pare down the pages.
     Just like in Harry Potter, she drops enough tidbits along the way to make you not want to put the book down.  Enjoy.