Coffee, and Other Dietary Changes

I gave up coffee about two months ago.  I suffered some pretty horrible withdrawal.

I don’t have issues with coffee consumption, it was the money I was spending.  I almost always went to coffee shops, and I’d get a carb-loaded snack while I was at it.  Even brewing coffee at home, I had to have good coffee.  The money added up.

During my tour, I was drinking coffee every day again.  After the tour, I started going through withdrawal again.  So, I bought a cheap can of coffee at the grocery store. Yes, I’m drinking coffee daily again now.  I’m spending very little money on it though.  It’s hot, bitter, and loaded with caffeine.  It’ll do.

I had intended to go with a low-carb diet after the tour.  I was even considering giving the paleo-diet another try.  I’ve decided against it.  I will try to stay away from most wheat products, but I will continue to eat ride.  I’m just going to have to control portion sizes and try to eat healthy.

My weight has been rising slightly this year.  From just under 220 to just over.  Although I had been weighing myself, I hadn’t bothered to update it here.  Now I have.

Why is my weight still an issue?  I still eat too much.  I’ll do alright for a while, then I’ll pig out on pizza and beer, or burgers and beer, or down a whole box of cookies.  It’s a balancing act.  I want to enjoy eating, and use it as a social activity, but I don’t want to overdo it.

Mornings

I’ve never really been a morning person, but the lifestyle change that I started in October 2007 has “normalized” my sleep schedule quite a bit.  I used to stay up late on the computer nearly every night.

Riding a bike and other exercise left me tired enough to sleep, and I got into better habits.  My wife’s schedule has sometimes interfered with that.  Well, it should help now.  She now leaves the house at 3:45am.  I get up sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 unless I oversleep.

On Tuesday, I was up early, and left the house early enough to take the long way to work.  Yesterday, I overslept and <<shudder>> drove to work.

I got up at 3:00 today.  That gives me plenty of time to read email, make coffee (I started drinking coffee again), make breakfast, possibly write a blog post, and ride a few extra miles.

If I can fully get my body into this early morning thing, it’ll be nice.  Mornings are quiet and peaceful.  Traffic is still light if I head out early enough.

Long Commute

I left home early this morning so I could take a longer route to work.  I had in 16 miles by the time I got to work, 22 by the time I got home.

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I need to do this more often.

Helmets, Fear, and Safety

I can haz safety?

Tom posted about the Safety Myth.  He mentions Vik’s post on the topic.  I think he was calling out some locals toward the end, but he doesn’t name them.  Was I one of them for my previous post?

The argument is Vik makes is that the helmet is (in most cases) unnecessary and helps spread fear.  It also leads to a false sense of security.  Read Viks post, read the comments.  Some good points are made.

I’m known for my helmet, mirror, reflective vest, and good lights.  I think Tom is also.

When I first started riding as an adult in 2008, I didn’t own a helmet.  After enough people pestered me about it, I gave in to the fear (and peer pressure) and bought a helmet.  It became part of my cycling garb, as I bought cycling garb.

There are definitely reasons to wear a helmet.

  • Fast or dangerous riding
    • 40+ MPH descents
    • Technical mountain biking
    • BMX tricks
    • Pace lines
    • 20+ MPH descents on rough gravel roads
  • Warmth with helmet cover
  • Place to mount the mirror

There are also reasons to not wear a helmet.

  • Makes cycling look dangerous which scares people away from it
  • You look less human with a helmet, this can cause different behavior from others
  • Gives a false sense of security – Plenty of people suffer brain injuries while wearing a helmet
  • We don’t wear helmets for many other more dangerous endeavors

In Kentucky and most other states there is no law requiring helmet use for adults.  This is as it should be.  I’m not sure the law should exist for children either, as raising children is a job for the parents, not the government.

I only have one issue with others wearing helmets all the time – the fact that it reduces bicycle use.  I can’t say too much here, as I generally wear my helmet.  So why am I accosted by other cyclists for not wearing a helmet when I’m riding on a grassy trail?

It really boils down to being prepared for the conditions.  If you are riding in a manner that has increased risk of fall, wear a helmet.  If you’re riding at night, have lights and reflective gear.  If it’s foggy, you probably need a strobe.

You would never wear rain gear on a sunny day, just in case it rains, but that’s what we (even I) have been used to doing with safety gear.

My changes have been gradual.  I haven’t worried (as much) about lights or reflective gear on bright sunny days.  I’ve been skipping the helmet on around town trips in light traffic.  Hint to myself:  The helmet probably won’t matter if I get hit by a fast moving car.  There’s a much better chance of it being helpful if I do something stupid and go over the bars.  It can also be useful in a right-hook scenario where I slide over the hood of the car and hit the pavement.  With cautious riding those scenarios are unlikely.  I’d rather work to avoid the crash than try to protect myself after the fact.

Modern America is obsessed with safety features, whether or not they are effective.  They make us feel better.  Some examples?  TSA, air bags, crumple zones, helmets, cell phones for children with GPS tracking.  What’s next?  The Thudguard?

Most cycling clubs, like the LBC, require helmet use on organized rides.  They don’t have a choice.  They are hamstrung by their insurance company.  Why?  A culture of fear.

Why is it when a cyclist is hit by a car and dies, the first question is always “was he/she wearing a helmet?”.  Does it matter?  Who caused the accident?  Not wearing a helmet will not cause an accident.

Most people my age and older rode bikes as kids, and most of us had never seen a bike helmet.  Most of us made it through just fine.  I never knew one of my peers to suffer a head injury on a bike.  Broken arms and collarbones?  Yes.  I had friends who fell out of trees they were climbing and nobody was wearing a helmet.  I was riding recklessly down the sidewalk when I was about eight years old.  I fell and hit my head.  I blacked out for a second or two.  I had a bad headache, but I didn’t automatically die or suffer permanent damage because I wasn’t wearing a helmet.  I could have, but I could have with a helmet also.

The only people I personally know who suffered major head injuries were driving when it happened.

Enough ranting for one day.  I’m not anti-helmet.  I’ll still be wearing mine on many rides.  I’m anti-fear.  I’m still learning, and my riding style is still adjusting.

Weekend Recovery

I arrived home from my tour on Wednesday evening.  I got up for work on Thursday and didn’t really feel well.  I rode to work anyway, and several parts of my body did not enjoy the ride.

On Friday I was ill and stayed home.

Saturday my daughter came to visit.  I was supposed to help Bicycling for Louisville move their offices (by bike of course), but I completely forgot.  My daughter may have been angry with me if I had left to do so.  We had limited time together.  I did ride around town a little with my daughter with a stop at the coffee shop.

Today I spent doing housework and taxes.  Blah.  I really had no intention of going out.  Tim sent me a text about going out for coffee.  I rode the two miles to Quill’s coffee and enjoyed some good company.  Then we headed out for a slow spin (on single-speed bikes) around local neighborhoods.  After we split up, I took a wandering route home, and managed about 13 miles for the day.

I rode a little differently on my weekend miles this time.  I wasn’t wearing bike clothes, a helmet, or anything reflective.  It was daytime and I was mostly on side streets.  Although I usually wear my helmet, I don’t like the “society of fear” we have become.  I used to jump my bike as a kid, and nobody wore a helmet then.

The helmet discussion can get long-winded, and people have strong opinions, but I don’t want to start a flame-war.  I usually wear a helmet.  You should wear one if you want to.  Cool?

Touring Overview and Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my bike tour.  I’ve done two overnight trips before, but this five-day trip with four days of riding was a completely new experience.

This trip happened because of Debbie’s idea.  She wanted to ride to Indianapolis.  She later couldn’t do the first half of the trip for her own reasons, but she planted the seed in my head.

I learned a few things from this ride.

Don’t bring too much. I was overloaded. I wasn’t even camping, but I was probably carrying 50 lbs.  I was carrying a laptop, but I needed to in case work needed to.  I probably wouldn’t do this on a camping tour.  I brought too many clothes.  I should only bring two sets of cycling clothes, one to wear while the other is getting washed or dried.  One set of street clothes and some raingear would have rounded out the clothing needs.  I had cycling gear for four days, street clothes, and several sets of socks and underwear.  I also had a sweater with me that I never wore.

Put some weight on the front. If you are camping, and are going need to carry a lot of gear, spread the load out between front and rear.  I had all the weight on the rear.  This normally worked, but during steep climbs in low gear, the front wheel would sometimes lift.  It wasn’t a huge issue, but could have been better.

Riding alone and riding with someone are different, and each has it’s advantages. I rode 30 miles with Michael.  I rode 120 miles with Debbie.  The remaining 130 miles were solo.  Riding solo is less hurried, less worry about what others think.  It’s quiet enough to lose yourself in thought.  It can also get lonely.  Riding with someone gives you someone to share the experience with, even if you don’t discuss much of it.  I will continue to ride solo and with others on tour.  I like both for different reasons.

Bicycling touring is a great way to talk to strangers. There’s something about being on a loaded-down touring bike that will get people talking to you.  There was an older couple at a restaurant in Salem that wanted to know about my trip.  An old man in Indianapolis at a downtown bar who discussed bicycling lifestyle (he’s car-free).  The woman working the desk at the Motel 6 was quite fascinated by our trip.  People are genuinely curious about what you are doing and why.

There’s a lot of time required off the bike. Finding food, resting, sleeping, checking into motels and/or camping all take time.   Packing/unpacking the bike is time-consuming.  You also need to leave time to talk to random strangers and friends alike.  I initially was too aggressive with my per-day mileage and had no time.  Luckily, I saved 30 miles when Michael picked me up in Bedford and took me to his place in Bloomington.  That gave us time to go our for dinner (and excellent beer).  On the last day of the trip, after arriving at Debbie’s house, she saved me another 30 miles by driving me home.  This allowed me to spend more time with my wife and daughter before having to go to work the next day.

Related to time is mileage. You won’t go fast when touring.  It’s not a race.  My average speeds were probably just under 10mph.  Trying to ride 110 miles on the first day was a mistake.  I rode 80 miles on the first two days, and 60 on the other two.  I should have tried to stay under 60.  That would have meant a longer (time-wise) tour, but I’ll plan for that next time.

Enjoy the trip, not the destination. Or as Pondero asked, “Have you been able to transition from destination obsession to enjoying the moment that touring affords?”  I think having a pre-set route for each day caused me to have “destination obsession”.  I knew that flexibility is best, but hotel stays, a host in Bloomington, and meeting up with another rider made it hard to be flexible.  I did enjoy the trip, but I was always looking forward to arriving at my destination.  I need to work on that.  I also need a longer tour to be more flexible.

It takes time to adjust to normal life. I didn’t think this would be an issue for me after only five days, but it was.  Going back to work was hard.  Cleaning house and other mundane chores just felt wrong.  I wanted to be out on the roads again.  I’m not sure what will happen after 30 days on tour.  Will I never be able to come home?

Most people are polite. Most bicycling forums, mailings lists, and random talk from friends paints the picture of the cager, an asshole wrapped in his metal shell.  There are a lot of drivers out there.  I took low-traffic roads when I could, but around cities it’s impossible to avoid the traffic.  I was passed by thousands of cars over four days of riding.  Nearly all of them drove politely near me.  On the way to Indianapolis, I had zero honks or screams.  There were a couple of close passes and impatient drivers, but they were in the minority.  On the return trip, it was during the week, and had a couple of honks and one yell, but again, the rudeness was very much the minority.  This was true even on US36 in Indianapolis or US50 in Seymour.

Sunblock is a necessity, even in March.  I had intended to bring my sunblock, but couldn’t find it.  I didn’t bother buying more, because it’s March and the weather forecast called for clouds.  Although everyday had a cloudy stretch, each also had sun.  I had sunburn on my neck and ears.

I want to plan my next tour already. I have this “head in the clouds” thing since getting home.  I want to go on a longer tour.  Maybe to Nashville now.  Across the country in a year or two.  I wish I had the time and money.

I need to get out and ride more often. Since moving into town, I don’t have a quick and easy 11-mile loop.  I need to come up with one, even though it would now be urban rather than rural.  I’m comfortable in traffic, so an urban route isn’t a problem.  I’ve been so fixated on bicycling for transportation, that riding everyday is nice, but I seldom ride during the week except for commuting or errands.  Maybe that will ease some of the yearning for the next tour.

I love my GPS. Some old-school tourers may say a map is all you need, but I’m directionally challenged, and the GPS was a godsend.  I understand the value of having maps also, but for easy routing without having to stop and pull out a map, the GPS did a wonderful job.  It worked for keeping me on track and finding detours when necessary.

Why tour? It’s not just about the bike riding.  There are a lot of reasons.  Meeting new people and seeing new places is often cited, but I don’t think it’s the primary reason.  Getting away is my reason.  Most of us need time alone.  Whether we are truly alone, or touring with someone else, it’s a good time to reflect on life, yourself., and the world.  You can process your past, plan your future, and enjoy the present while just turning the pedals around.

Mini-Tour – Day 5 – Wednesday

I was supposed to meet Debbie and Dave at 7:30 am at the Bob Evans near the motel for breakfast.  Every other day of the tour I had slept well and felt rested when I woke up.  Tuesday night was different.  I had strange dreams and didn’t feel rested when I woke up (late).  I overslept until 7:28, so took a quick shower and ran over.  Debbie was there, but her husband wasn’t.  Apparently he decided to sleep in also.  After eating we went back to the motel to pack.

Here’s the actual route we rode, except the very end is modified for Debbie’s privacy.

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Dave offered to haul my extra stuff in the car.  I cut my load down to one pannier.  Although this final day was a flatter route, it did make things easier.  I still had over 90 miles to go to get home.  They also offered to drive me home once we reached their house, which would save me 30 miles.  I accepted the offer later in the day.

The day started off cloudy and chilly.  There was also wind from the south, which did not help our forward progress.

Somewhere southwest of Columbus we came across a rather friendly horse.

As we approached Seymour, the skies started to clear in one direction and it looked like a storm coming from the northwest.  The temperature did warm a little.  I was quite comfortable.

We crossed the White River at Seymour.  I’m not trying to be like Michael, but I like this shot of the river.

We detoured off our route in Seymour to find something to eat.  The GPS had an old address for Subway, so after riding on a really busy road (Tipton St/US 50) for too long, we went to Taco Bell instead.  Not ideal touring food.  Debbie has some heartburn later in the ride.

We continued south out of Seymour.  We ended up just east of a spot on the map called Dudleytown.  It appears to be just a single intersection, and we didn’t go out of our way to check it out, as the weather was turning bad.

We fought against the headwind to try to get to Crothersville before it started raining.  It started raining the occasional large drop of rain.  We decided it was time for rain gear.  I had my J&G rain cape.  Debbie had an “emergency rain poncho”.

The skies really started to look ominous.  The wind was getting very gusty.  I mentioned the strange color of the sky in the distance, and that it could mean a tornado.  I was half-joking.

Shortly after the rain really started coming down.  The large raindrops were actually painful.  There was occasional pea-size hail.  I didn’t take any pictures at this point, as I wanted to keep the camera dry.  The new panniers kept everything dry without any extra rain covers.

The lightning never got terribly close, but in the wide-open areas of Indiana farm fields, it was very visible, and a little frightening… and I like thunderstorms.

As we rolled into Crothersville, I was unsure on rather we should take shelter and wait it out, or continue on.  We spotted a library, so I dashed in and checked the weather on one of the computers.  There was a tornado warning in effect for the area, and it looks as if the entire storm would pass within 30 minutes.

We went next-door to a Subway restaurant where we could rest, shelter, and eat.

We watched the hail continue outside for a while.  Then the weather cleared and the sun re-appeared.  We waited another few minutes for the weather warnings to expire, and continued on.

We continued out of Crothersville enjoying the sunshine and the change in wind direction.  We still didn’t have a tail-wind, but it appeared to be coming from the west.  At least it wasn’t coming from the south anymore.

I started seeing piles of what looked like snow on the side of the road.  I stopped for a closer look, it was hail.  Apparently that area got even more hail than where we were.

A little farther south, and the muddy fields were proof of how hard it had rained.

The ride to Scottsburg was quite pleasant.  We were headed due south most of the time.  The wind was from the west.  The temperatures had fallen slightly, but it was still comfortable and sunny.

We stopped at a nice little coffee shop in Scottsburg.  They didn’t seem to have a public restroom, so we detoured again to get to a gas station.

Once we got south of Scottsburg we were nearly to Debbie’s house, and in an area that I’m mostly familiar with.  It’s a rural area, and horses are popular.

It’s a scenic area, and probably the hilliest portion of our last day riding.

We reached Debbie’s house.  I did accept her offer for a ride home.  I was tired and ready to see my wife.  It would have taken me another three hours to ride home.  My daughter had come to visit, so the three of us went out for pizza (I had more beer of course).

I’ll write a wrap-up later that is less about what happened and more about how I felt about the adventure.

Mini-Tour – Day 4 – Tuesday

I got up at 6:00am and showered to prepare to head out.  It took a while to repack my bike.  I had breakfast and was down in the lobby waiting for Debbie by 9:00.

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We headed out about 9:15.  We went over to the Circle of Light in downtown Indianapolis to take a few pictures before heading out.

Downtown was a mess.  It appeared that everything was under construction.  Sidewalks were fenced off.  Lanes were closed.  We began to take a street only to discover it was covered in fresh tar – we detoured around it.

We eventually worked our way away from the city center, which led us to a more suburban area.  This wasn’t great either.  There was an unused porta-toilet at a construction site that came in handy though.

Riding through suburban sprawl took a while and it wasn’t scenic enough to bother with pictures.  After we were nearly 20 miles into the ride things seemed pretty rural.

I was wearing shorts and short-sleeve jersey for the entire ride.  I was a bit chilly in the morning, but warmed up nicely and was comfortable for the rest of the day.  We had a few spatters of rain in the morning, and another in the late afternoon, but mostly it was just cloudy and windy.

The wind was unending.  It wasn’t gusty wind.  It was steady in-your-face headwind the entire route.  It did slow us down.

As we continued on in the quasi-rural area, we found someone’s rather unique lawn ornaments.

We stopped for lunch at a small pub in Franklin.  It was cheap and had only a small beer selection, but a burger and beer really hit the spot.

Our route took us along the edge of Camp Atterbury for a while.  Camp Atterbury has shunk since WWII, and the area we rode through was actively used at one point, now all that exists is overgrown lots and stubs of roads.

After getting to the main road between Camp Atterbury and Edinburgh, traffic was quite heavy and we were hugging the shoulder.  I got a laugh when a brown van with the sherrif’s logo on the side passed us.  The back was open and at least eight men were sitting on the back in uniform.  They waved and smiled as they passed.

Entering Edinburgh we rode over a bridge over the Big Blue River.  It is a river, but it’s not terribly big, and certainly didn’t look blue.

After crossing the bridge, we were looking for drinks and snacks.  We stopped at the first business, which happened to be a bait shop with a “colorful” woman working there.  They did have drinks and snacks, albeit a small variety.  They also had crickets, but I figure I eat enough bugs on the bike.

We took IN252 eastward out of town.   The original plan called for turning south shortly after crossing the freeway, but the “road” was a private farm driveway.  We continued on the busy IN252 a bit longer and turned unto S 700 W (I hate road names like that).

It was a nice rural road and we saw a young horse.  (zomg ponies!)  ((sorry))

The round-about way we detoured around the private road led us to climb and descend the same hill three times on three different roads.  Not so much a hill as a small ridge.

Did I mention the wind?  We watched a father and daughter flying kites.  Once they got them flying, they staked them to the ground, and they remained aloft.  I’d never seen that done before.

The last ten miles was just a slog into the wind and light rain to get to the motel.  It was only a 60-mile ride and the route was fairly flat, but that wind!

I felt fine when I arrived at Motel 6 in Columbus, other than needing a shower.  I took a shower, and met back up with Debbie (and her husband Dave who had driven) for dinner at a Mexican place within walking distance.  I, of course, had more beer.

The tour is not over until tomorrow.  There’s still more opportunity for beer.

A Case of The Mondays

Monday was a rest day.  I have a decent hotel room.  I have my laptop and free wifi.

I had planned on checking out the city some.  My wife intended to drive up Sunday night or Monday morning and spend some time with me.

Instead, my wife stayed home and I stayed in the room other than to go out to eat and drink.  I had really wanted to check out some of the bike paths and bike shops, but just didn’t have the motivation to do so.

For lunch, I walked down to a sports bar where the service was okay, the beer was good, and the food was fair.  I met Will, an older man whose wife was just hospitalized with lung issues.  Will doesn’t drive, but uses public transport and walking to get around.  He appeared to be in reasonably good health for his age.  He’s considering getting a bike.

I probably had too much beer, but I was traveling on foot, so I safely walked back to the hotel.

I spent some time reading on my Kindle, browsing the web, and just being lazy.  It felt good.

Debbie and her husband, Dave, showed up later in the afternoon, and we walked to an Italian restaurant a few blocks away.  Dinner was a large amount of lasagna.  I skipped drinking, as I’d had enough earlier in the day.  After getting back to the room, I read a while longer, goofed around on the laptop, then went to bed.

Now, it’s Tuesday morning.  I need to re-pack my bike and get moving soon.  I only have to ride 55 miles today to get to Columbus, and my next hotel room.

Mini-Tour – Day 2 – Sunday

I slept in until 8:00am on Sunday.  I needed the rest.  Michael, Sarah, and I went out for breakfast.  The skies were gloomy and it started raining at some point in the morning.  I was enjoying being lazy, so it was around noon before I departed on the second leg of my trip.  Michael wanted to go out for a ride, and tagged along with me for the first 30 miles or so.

My route for Sunday was planned for 80 miles.  I did ride the planned route.  I modified the GPS track below slightly for Michael’s privacy.

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By the time we left his house, the rain had stopped and skies were clearing.  While riding through Bloomington, I noticed that the city is trying to be bike-friendly.  There are bike paths, bike lanes, and these traffic calming devices.

Of course after stopping to take a picture of the traffic calming device, while trying to get my heavy-ass bike moving, I managed to run into the curb.  I didn’t fall, it was just embarrassing.

We worked our way northeast through Hindustan and into Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

Michael was enjoying the ride.

At some point during the ride I noticed we were making good time as long as we weren’t climbing a steep hill.  It was a tailwind.  Much better than Saturday’s headwind.

Rural Indiana has a lot to offer…. or not.  🙂

Michael and I rolled into Martinsville and stopped for more water and snacks.  We were 30 miles in, which meant we were to part ways.  I continued north, Michael headed west.

A few miles north of Martinsville there was this imposing coal-fueled power plant.  The amount of coal piled up on the grounds was staggering.

Before long I was crossing the White River.

After a long flattish stretch that included Martinsville, I knew there would be more climbing.

The climb was up Goat Hollow Rd which once at the top was just a meandering ridge top road.  I never did see a goat though.

A few miles later I did see several sheep.  Come back here!  I need some new wool socks!

I rode through Mooresville, but didn’t stop anywhere.  I was making good time, but due to my late start was worried about how late I’d be getting to the hotel.  In Plainfield I was getting hungry and noticed Buzz’s Pizza.  They served up a decent stromboli, which I ate on a bench outdoors before continuing on.

After Plainfield it mostly became suburban hell.  Luckily, being Sunday, traffic wasn’t too bad.  The multi-lane high-speed US36 wasn’t the most pleasant, but I did have an interesting conversation with a young mother and her daughter about where I rode from and where I was riding to.  The little girl was fascinated.  Surprisingly I had no yelling or honking motorists the whole way.

Once I got inside the I-465 loop there was a bit of city traffic, but people appeared to be used to bicyclists.  I passed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As I approached downtown, I really began to appreciate downtown in Louisville.  Downtown Indianapolis is harder to navigate and the roads are in poor condition.  Also, for some reason, the city bus drivers are maniacs.

I eventually found my hotel and checked in.  The biggest problem there was that the tiny elevator would not accommodate my bike unless I stood it on end.  That was not an easy task with the weight I was carrying.

I made it to my room ready for a shower and bed.

Mini-Tour – Day 1 – Saturday

Yes, I’m running a day behind on posting.  I spent last night at Michael’s house and I wanted to be social rather than holing up with my computer.  Yes, I took the laptop on tour.  I’m a geek.

I learned two important lessons about bike touring on my very first day.  Don’t overpack and overestimate the mileage you can do.

My first day route was a very hilly 110 mile day getting me to Bloomington.  I can ride that under good conditions, but add in a heavy load and a headwind, and it doesn’t work as well.

Here’s the actual route I rode on Saturday.

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I left Louisville at 7:15 under cloudy skies.  There was a slim chance of rain, but it didn’t materialize.

I wandered through Clarksville and New Albany.  I climb Moser Knob Rd again.  Moser Knob Rd is steep enough that I need my granny gears on the LHT.  I felt fine on that hill, even with the extra weight.

I continued generally northwest and enjoyed the countryside.

There were a number of homes where the driveway crossed the stream… as in you have to drive through shallow water.  There was generally a small footbridge for pedestrian access.

I liked this “forest”.  It was somebody’s yard, but they had cleared all of the brush and just left the trees.

This was an old church and cemetery along Voyles Rd.

As I was coming into Pekin I crossed this old bridge.  I had been on this bridge once before on a ride with Tim.  (New) Pekin hasn’t changed much.  I stopped at a gas station for supplies and moved on.

The clouds had cleared up.  The temperature had climbed in the high-60s.  It was really turning into a nice day.  I even had to put my cycling sunglasses on to really look like a dork.  The glasses not only help with sun, but are good for preventing my eyes from watering while doing a 40mph descent.  I spent a lot more time at 4mph than 40mph though.

When I arrived in Salem, I found a small Mexican restaraunt with outdoor seating.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to watch my bike.  Eating outside meant I couldn’t have beer with my food, but I really didn’t need beer in the middle of this ride.

My GPS did a great job of keeping me on track on unfamiliar roads.  I did miss one turn, but that was just because I wasn’t paying attention.  I hadn’t gone far, so turning around wasn’t a big deal.

I always get chased by dogs in Southern Indiana more than anywhere else I’ve ridden.  Saturday was no exception.  At one point, three dogs came at me at once.  They didn’t look vicious, and I didn’t want to hit them, so I stopped.  That’s when I noticed one of them had three legs.  They quickly lost interest once I stopped, and I meandered on.

So what do you name a dog like this?  “Lucky” – lucky he wasn’t killed.  I’d probably name him “Tripod”.

Although I’m sure it wasn’t, this appeared to be highest point in the state.

While riding along Cox Ferry Rd (where a bridge has long since replaced the ferry), I came across something unexpected, gravel.  I don’t normally mind gravel, but I was behind schedule and the hills, weight, and headwind were hurting me.

This is the creek that Cox’s ferry must have crossed at some point.

Here’s a fine looking touring bike sitting on the bridge that replaced Cox’s ferry.

This is the climb I had to look forward to as I left the creek.

I don’t take pictures while suffering a climb.  After this climb was a nice descent, and I didn’t take pictures there as I was grinning ear to ear at 40mph.  Once I was back on the flood plain of the East Fork of the White River, it became obvious that water levels are still high.  Luckily my road was still dry.

Crossing over the river was a cool old bridge.  I have a thing for neat bridges.

As I continued on, the pavement ended again, but instead of gravel, I got good old-fashioned dirt.  There were a few small muddy spots due to the high water, but it wasn’t difficult riding.

During most of the ride I saw a lot of circling birds.  Whas it just a sign of Spring, or were they waiting for me to expire?

I came across Fort Ritner.  Fort Ritner seems to be a dying town.  It looks prone to flooding.  It seems it was mostly a railroad town, and railroads aren’t what they used to be.  There were a handful of well-kept homes, but the majority of the town was abandoned with rotting homes.  There were no businesses open.

This was a bridge over a creek on a private road.

These were typical of the town.

After leaving Fort Ritner, I continued on a road that led to another climb up unto a ridge.  Once on the ridge, the road is known as Devil’s Backbone.  I thought that was a neat name for a ridge road, especially when a one point the ridge is very narrow with steep dropoffs on each side.  Quite cool!

The weather was beautiful.  There were wildflowers sprouting up everywhere.

I had let Michael know that I was running later than I wanted to.  I explained to him that even the shallowest uphill grade was slowing my speed into the single-digits.  I had simply made too grand of plans.  He offered to pick me up.

I rode on to Bedford where he picked me up for the drive to Bloomington.  At just a bit over 80 miles, I am perfectly satisfied by the ride.

We went out for food and drinks at Upland Brewery.  Once I got back it didn’t take long before I slept through the night with no issues.  Bike touring cures insomnia.

My First Tour

I’m leaving in the morning for my first tour.  I’m not camping, it is still March.  I’ll be staying indoors each night.

On the first day I’m riding through New Albany IN, Pekin, Salem, Bedford, and stopping to visit with Michael in Bloomington.  Michael and his wife are kind enough to offer a room to me for the night.  That first day will be 110 miles and quite hilly.

The second day brings me through Martinsville, Mooresville, Plainfield, and into Indianapolis.  I’m staying at a hotel in the downtown area.  That will be 81 miles of moderately hilly terrain.

Monday is a rest day.  My wife is planning to drive up for a visit.  We’ll check out the sites of downtown Indianapolis.  Although I’ve driven through that city on the freeway many times, I don’t really know it.

Debbie, my former triathlon training partner, should arrive sometime on Monday.  We’ll head out Tuesday morning.  We’ll ride 55 miles of flatter terrain to Columbus and get hotel rooms there.

Wednesday will through Seymour, Crothersville, and Scottsburg.  Debbie will be home at the 65 mile mark.  I’ll continue on into Charlestown, where I may enjoy some pizza.  My total for the day will be about 93 miles.

This will be quite an adventure, and other than some rain, the weather is looking good.

I’ll have a camera with me, and I intend to take quite a few pictures.

The Arkel Panniers Are Here!

As I mentioned before, my wife ordered some Arkel GT-54 panniers as an early birthday gift for me.  After a minor ordering snafu, they have now arrived.

Here I’ve also got the Arkel Tailrider trunk bag attached.  I’ve had the Tailrider for over two years, and it’s held up well.  I had found it a pain to strap to the rack, but the GT-54 set has loops specifically designed to strap the tailrider to.

The bags are huge and the bike is ready for touring.

π Day

Bicycling for Louisville celebrated π (pi/pie) day today.  They put on a fun little fundraiser.  I brought in a peach pie that my wife baked last night.

I’d never heard of cabbage pie until tonight, but it was good.

There was a pretty good turnout considering the cold drizzle  that came to area today.  Bicycling for Louisville managed to pry a little money out of my wallet, and fill my stomach with pie.  What’s not to love?

Yes, I ate too much, but I’m skipping dinner.

Satisfying Sunday

No Coffee Shop Here
No Coffee Shop Here
I scheduled the “Sunday Wander” RCCS ride for this morning.  The ride started at Coffee Affair near LaGrange Rd.  That’s an 18-mile ride for me to get to the ride start location.

I left home around 6:00am.  Tim had other obligations and knew he wouldn’t be able to ride, but met me in the Highlands intending to ride with me until the ride start, then turn back, but he suffered some issues with his headlight, and turned back early.

As I got further from the city center the temperature dropped.  My upper body was warm enough with compression shirt, wool sweater and a jacket, but my feet were quite cold, and my legs needed a little more protection than the single pair of tights I was wearing.

Download

After taking Westport Rd most of the way to I-265, I headed south on Freys Hill Rd, enjoying the low-traffic route near Tom Sawyer State Park.  Then via Evergreen Rd, E Osage Rd, and Lucas Ln, made my way to Old Lagrange Rd then a quick ride to Coffee Affair.

Coffee Affair is a shop I’ve never been to.  I found it using Google, just trying to locate a coffee shop near the edge of town that would be good for a Oldham County ride.  I discovered this morning, that Coffee Affair has gone out of business.

They still had the sign up, so I waited for any other potential riders to show up.  Patrick had told me last night that he was out.  He was rather sick.  I knew there was a good chance it would be a solo ride.  Around 8:10, I resigned myself to that solo ride.

After pulling out of the shopping center, I cut through some neighborhood streets that took me to Reamers Ln, which becomes Old Floydsburg Rd.

Somewhere along Old Floydsburg Rd
Somewhere along Old Floydsburg Rd
Signs of the rain from last week
Signs of the rain from last week
I came upon a rather interesting church and graveyard surrounded by an old stone wall.  I really like stone walls.

Gate in stone wall
Gate in stone wall
After travelling a while on Mt Zion Rd, my route had me cutting through a neighborhood that connected to another neighborhood by a single street.  I looked at the “street” in satellite view on Google Maps, and it’s what Tim and I refer to as a “not-road”.  It looked to be a passable road.

Neighborhood Sign
Neighborhood Sign
Next to the “not-road” was a water tower, and apparently the “not-road” is emergency access only.

No Entry
No Entry
I wasn’t going to go around or climb the fence, so I rode the two miles back through the neighborhood and to Mt Zion Rd.  My GPS told me I could continue on Mt Zion Rd to Payton Ln and be back on track.

The sun was high enough in the sky to warm me.  I had begun to sweat under my jacket, so I removed that.  Although my legs and feet were still chilled, when I’d get into a sunny area, the sun felt wonderful on my legs, even through the tights.

Blue Skies
Blue Skies
Fence Shadow
Fence Shadow
There were signs of spring everywhere.  Plants were budding,  I inhaled a swarm of gnats, and fields are being prepared for planting.

Freshly tilled ground
Freshly tilled ground
Climbing the damn hill
Climbing the damn hill
I decided to see the other end of my “not-road” to see if it was blocked also?  It was.  500 feet (or so) of gravel and two fences separated me from my earlier location.  I noticed the padlock said something about the fire department, so I’m guessing that’s easy access to water to refill the trucks.

Not-road
Not-road
Water tower near not-road
Water tower near not-road
I quit dawdling over the “not-road” and continued on course.  There were some wonderful low-traffic rural roads to be enjoyed.

Rural road
Rural road
Distant water tower
Distant water tower
More peaceful roads
More peaceful roads
Cruising down Fible Ln brought me to a large pond/small lake nestled in the hills.

Bucolic scene
Bucolic scene
I was briefly on Mt Zion Rd again where there is a bridge over a stream, but the roadway ends right over the stream, with no guardrail.

Watch your step
Watch your step
Nice stream though
Nice stream though
I continued southeast on Hanna Rd, eventually crossing another stream.

Ducks
Ducks
The ducks flew off as I approached, but came back after a few minutes of silence.

This bridge has guard rails
This bridge has guard rails
The bridge was also useful for hiding under for when “nature calls”.  My route had no store stops, so you make do with what you can.

Are there trolls?
Are there trolls?
Shortly after leaving the bridge, three cyclists passed me on Hanna Rd.  They weren’t going terribly fast, but fast enough that I wasn’t going to keep up.  I waved and they returned the gesture.

I soon crossed from Oldham County into Shelby County.

Shelby County
Shelby County
On Aiken Rd (KY-362) traffic started to pick up a little, but scenery was still quite rural.

Cows don't have much to do
Cows don’t have much to do
I continued along Aiken Rd.  Gently rolling hills allowed me to fly down one side of a hill, then use the momentum to mostly get up the next one.  It was quite a bit of fun.

Gently rolling hills
Gently rolling hills
Skies are still clear
Skies are still clear
Paranoid?
Paranoid?
I have a soft spot for old rural churches.

Church built in 1863
Church built in 1863
Shelby County has a new park.  It opens later this year.  It seems to be horse-orientated, so I don’t have much interest.

Shelby Trails Park
Shelby Trails Park
More rural countryside
More rural countryside
I continued following Aiken Rd all the way to Ash Rd.  I’m getting close to Louisville Metro.  Oh, there’s a women’s prison.

Women's prison
Women’s prison
There were no store stops on the ride.  When I got back to the shopping center where I started, I was famished.  There was an Asian restaurant, Double Dragon, that was open, so I ate an order of beef and broccoli.

Feeling better, I decided to head straight down LaGrange Rd.  That worked fine until the road narrowed.  I still followed it.  I had a better but longer route set in the GPS, but I was ready to go home.

LaGrange Rd changes names a few times, but eventually is replaced by New LaGrange Rd on one side of the railroad tracks, and LaGrange Rd on the other.  I stayed on LaGrange Rd which had slightly less traffic.

I eventually cut north to Westport Rd via Lyndon Ln / Herr Ln and took that all the way to Chenoweth Ln to stop for coffee.

There were a few cyclists at Heine Brothers’ Coffee on Chenoweth.  I assume they started a ride there earlier, and some were finishing up.  One guy took a good look at my bike and complimented me on it.

I was going to head in on Frankfort Ave, but a cyclist new to the area asked where Cherokee Park was.  I had him follow me down Willis Ave and PeeWee Reese Rd until he knew where he was.  He’s lived here for two months, living in St Louis previously.  We talked a little about St Louis and bike touring, but I didn’t catch his name.

We went our separate ways in the park.  I noticed from high up on Park Boundary Rd that there were a ton of people hiking in the woods, swinging out over the water of Beargrass Creek, and some even walking in inches-deep water.

View from above
View from above
I took my time on this ride.  I was riding alone and had no time constraints.  I managed to get in 70.7 miles for the day, and still have time to do housework when I get home.  Yes, this was a satisfying Sunday.

Oatmeal and Chocolate Milk

I’m preparing for a long day on the bike.  I’m leading a 30-mile RCCS ride this morning.  It may turn out to be a solo ride.  I’m not sure.

It’s almost 20 miles for me to get to the ride.  I may take a 30-mile return trip for variety, or not.

Either way, it looks like the weather will cooperate.  Now to wake up.  This time-change thing always messes with me.

I’m sitting here eating oatmeal and drinking chocolate milk.  Probably should have had regular milk, but I’m doing what I want.  🙂

Took The Grocery Getter to Work

The Rig
The Rig

I bought a used trailer last Friday.  Other than towing it back home full of groceries, I hadn’t used it.  My panniers are falling apart, and I hadn’t ridden my folding bike in months.

So I put my commuting gear in the trailer, and towed it with the folding bike.

Parking in the office was a pain, but the rain cover kept my stuff dry.  I don’t intend to normally ride it to work, as I have new panniers on the way, but I probably will tomorrow for the Car-Free Happy Hour.

Pannier Problems

You thought I wasn’t going to post?  So did I.

I was over-commited on time, and it stressed me out.  I dropped out of the triathlon, and any other competitive riding.  I’ll write in this blog when I feel like it, rather it being a chore.

I’ve worried that this blog is seriously off-topic.  I almost never write about anything other than bicycles now, but it’s my blog, and cycling is a huge part of my life now.

Anyway.  I own to sets of panniers.  A small cheap set, and a larger cheap set.  Neither has a great attachment mechanism.

The small set had a major zipper malfunction a couple of months ago.  It’s still usable, but I can’t close it all the way.  That set works best on the front rack of my LHT.  I can’t fit my laptop in those panniers, so it’s not the ideal commuting pannier.  Due to the hooking mechanism, I have to use bungie cords to prevent the panniers from falling off.  They have fallen off before.

The larger set has been pretty good to me, until a few days ago.  One of the hooks and other associated hardware fell off and was lost.  I thought I had spare parts, but I can’t seem to find them.

This has made commuting more challenging.  I’m still doing it, but I’d hate to drop the laptop in the road.  I also have a mini-tour coming up later this month.  Having a good set of panniers would really be nice.

My lovely wife bought me an early birthday present.  She ordered a set of the Arkel GT-54 panniers for me.  She really is a wonderful woman.  I’m getting the red ones.  Possibly this week, maybe next week.  I already have a red Arkel Tailrider trunk bag.

Sometime in the future I’ll buy the T-28 front panniers, also in red, to finish the “bike luggage” collection.

Rainy Saturday Riding

I had scheduled two RCCS rides for Saturday. The weather didn’t cooperate. It rained nearly all day and temperatures dropped throughout the day. I don’t cancel for rain.

I rode the six miles from my house to St Matthews for the first ride. I waited a while, and no riders showed up. Okay, the coffee ride is a solo effort.

I was a bit underdressed with a long-sleeve compression shirt, shorts, and a rain cape. My route took me back near my house, so I went in to change clothes.

The house was warm and dry. I put my wet clothes in the dryer and stayed a while. The coffee ride was shortened.

When it was time to head out for the second ride, the hills and pizza ride, I was dressed more appropriately. The rain had also let up. I left my rain cape behind, as the sail effect is bad when it’s windy, and it was windy.

I rode to Jeffersonville for the second ride. I saw one cyclist on the way, but he was headed somewhere else. At the ride start location, I again waited alone even with the break in the rain.

I headed out determined to finish the planned route of about 50 miles for the second ride.

While riding along North Clark Blvd I saw an old railroad grade that looked interesting. I traveled a few hundred feet down it before turning back. That gave me a GPS position of it for further research.

While turning back on the road, I saw two more cyclists heading south.

I stopped at a small shop in a strip mall that sold only tortillas. I ordered some, they were hot and fresh, and quite tasty.

It started raining again as I got to New Albany. I traveled Slate Run Rd, Charlestown Rd, and Mt Tabor Rd, which took me to Green Valley Rd which becomes Moser Knob Rd. This is “the hill” on the ride.

The hill had me climbing almost 500 feet in about two miles. Although I’ve done worse hills, it’s been a while. I chose a low gear and slowly spun up the hill.

Along the way I passed a water tank. It’s a way up the hill to use gravity to supply water to New Albany. It’s cheaper to build on the hill than to build a tower. Near the top of the hill, I spotted the water tank again, and it appeared to be far below me.

As I got to the top, and turned on N Skyline Dr which follows the ridgeline. It was raining hard, and the wind was really kicking up. There was no shelter from the wind.

I’m glad I now have contacts, as I wasn’t wearing glasses, and didn’t have to worry about rain on them.

I was getting quite cold and tired at this point.

I turned on St Johns Rd which turns into St Joe Rd and becomes a blistering fast descent. I actually rode the breaks the whole way down. The roads were wet and I wanted to be cautious. I didn’t quite reach 40 MPH.

My original route had me taking a circuitous route from Sellersburg to Charlestown to avoid high-traffic roads. I was riding alone, and I’m comfortable on the busy roads, so I took 403 to Charlestown and stopped at my old house. I called my wife to see if she would join me at Charlestown Pizza. I was also hoping for a ride home at this point.

She agreed to come and get me, and we’d get pizza elsewhere. She brought dry clothes (which was great) and we picked up a pizza at Za’s on the way home. I could have stuck to my plan and went to Charlestown Pizza then rode home, but I was cold and wet, and I enjoyed spending a little more time withy my wife.

My original plans for the day could have brought me nearly 100 miles. I cut both rides short and ended up with 47.5 miles for the day. I don’t feel too bad about that. The weather was far from ideal. I would have finished the ride had I had a companion pushing me to do it.

I didn’t bring a camera on the ride. The amount of water in everything made that a wise decision.

I will be doing some more long solo rides this year. I did that a lot in 2008, but the RCCS rides meant that I didn’t have time for long solo rides. I love riding with others, but solo rides give you much more flexibility. I can bail early guilt-free when I need to, or just keep going until I can’t.

Offline For a While

I’m not a great writer.  I often feel my writing to sum up interesting rides lacking.  I intended to write about yesterday’s rides, but couldn’t.

Nothing else is really worth writing about.  I ride a bike to work every day now.  I haven’t been losing weight.  I’ve dropped out of triathlon training.  I’m busy at times, depressed other times, just trying to do what needs to be done.

Blogging doesn’t need to be done.  It’s no longer a priority.  I’ll still post on the rare occasion, but it’ll probably be a while.

Busy Days

I picked up an old kid trailer from a seller on craigslist today.  I immediately used it to haul groceries home.  I didn’t take pictures.  I’ll try to get some on Sunday.

Tomorrow will be a challenging day.  I’m hosting two RCCS rides.  It should be fun.  Join me!