The Not Quite Indestructible Tire

I have Schwalbe Marathon tires on two of my bikes, the LHT and the recumbent.  It’s a good solid tire and quite puncture resistant.  I’ve bragged because I’ve put thousands of miles on those tires without a single flat.  That has ended.

I must have ran over glass yesterday.  I noticed my LHT had a flat tire this morning.  I rode the single-speed instead.  I fixed the flat this evening and found a run-of-the-mill chunk of glass embedded in the tire.  It had barely punctured the tube, so it took all night for the tire to go flat.

I’ve still had much better luck with those tires than any other I’ve tried.  Flats happen.

Another Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.  I had originally considered “riding my age”, meaning riding 40 miles, one mile for each year I’ve made it so far.

I had errands to run after work, and my wife had plans for after that.

While at work, 40 balloons were delivered to my office.  Also came a vase of flowers – some of them daisies.  I was told it’s because I’m getting ready to “push up daisies”.  That seemed a bid morbid.  🙂

I was expected to bring the balloons home.  I rode my bike to work, so yes, I rode through town with 40 balloons trailing behind me.  I got a lot of strange looks, a couple of honks, and one person yelled “happy birthday”.

I met up with my wife and daughter at Tony BoomBozz for pizza and beer.  I had a good day, but didn’t ride anywhere near 40 miles.

This Is a Weight Loss Blog?

I’ve written more about bicycling here than any other topic.  I’ve never been much of a writer, so it’s possible I’ve written more about bicycling than any other topic since I could write.

I haven’t been talking much about weight recently.  I don’t have much to write about.  I haven’t been controlling my diet.  I haven’t been weighing regularly.  I haven’t been losing (or gaining) weight.  My weigh has been steady at just above 220 lbs.  That’s quite a bit above my goal weight of 175.

I started this adventure at nearly 300 lbs and very unfit.  I had a sedentary lifestyle.  I was probably on the fast-track to a heart attack.

I was able to bring my weight under 200 lbs for a while.  I also got much more fit.  That took a lot of effort and self-control.  I still intend to work at that, I’m not giving up my goal weight yet.

One thing has changed.  My bicycle-centric lifestyle means I can maintain a weight around 220 lbs without much effort.  I drink beer and eat pizza with few limits.  I don’t eat fast food or drink soda, but that’s because I don’t enjoy those things.  Parting with them wasn’t difficult.

Maybe I’m just making excuses for not putting the effort into losing more weight.  I want to do some more bike touring this year.  I want to have more free time away from work and family obligations, but I’m not sure how to pull that one off.

Trouble-Free Lighting

I’ve been using my Dinotte lights since the Fall of 2008.  They are bright, but moving them between bikes and keeping the batteries charged takes time.

I took the plunge and ordered a new set of lights from On Your Left Cycles.  What was ordered?

The shop built the new wheel once the parts arrived and called me to let me know it was time to bring my LHT in.  This was on Friday.

I didn’t want to drive my truck to haul the bike.  I also didn’t want to walk the two miles from the bike shop to work.  So I rode the LHT towing the tailer with the folding bike in it.

Once I dropped off the LHT, I rode the folding bike and pulled the trailer to work with me.  After work, I reversed the procedure to get the LHT and go home.

The headlight is mounted to the front rack and has an integrated reflector.  This also freed some space on my handlebars.

Although the polished SON hub looks really nice, it doesn’t match the matte finish of the rear hub.  That’s okay, this bike is about utility, not looking pretty.

The tail light looks almost as if it were meant to be on the rear rack.

I’ve taken the bike out twice after dark now.  Both were short urban rides, but I’m starting to get a feel for what I do and don’t like.

The focused beam on the headlight puts plenty of light where you usually need it.  It doesn’t light up street signs as well my Dinotte, as it throws very little light upward.  I also felt a little blind while descending fast on a curve.  The light is bright enough, but the road goes off a different direction.  Maybe I should fly through Cherokee Park at night.  🙂

The standlight lasts plenty long.  I can sit at a long traffic light, and the lights are still lit, although a bit dimmer.

Strangely, the tail light gives up first when the standlight gets close to being discharged.  Also, the tail light isn’t really very bright.  It does spread the light across a wider area than a Dinotte or a SuperFlash, but it’s just not bright.  It does have an integrated reflector like the headlight.

The hub just works.  I can sometimes feel a vibration at 16-17mph, but faster or slower than that and it goes away.  You don’t really notice the hub when riding.

If I were doing it over again, I would research a different tail light.  I may do this anyway, as they are inexpensive.  I would also consider a different rim.  The rim is probably fine, but as this bike is for loaded touring, a Dyad may have been a better choice.

I put the Dinotte lights on the single-speed.  I want another dynohub system for that bike, but I have to wait until I can afford it.  I may also move the new LHT wheel to the single-speed, and have a Dyad-based wheel built for the LHT.

Too many choices, but at least I don’t have to charge batteries.

Busy Day and New Bike Swag

I had a number of errands to run today, but since moving into town in September, I’ve been able to re-arrange my life to make using a car optional.

Before work this morning I went to the post office to pick up a package that they would not leave at my door.  Then I stopped by the bank before continuing on to work.

After work, I had a massage appointment, then picked up dinner before heading home.  Those new panniers came in quite handy for hauling things today.

Salsa Vaya
Salsa Vaya
While running afternoon errands on Bardstown Road, I saw this Salsa Vaya parked.  Time and I have discussed using a bike like this for a gravel bike.  I don’t need a specific bike for gravel, but it is a nice bike.

What was the package I picked up this morning?  It was an Acorn Handlebar Bag.

With this, I’ll have easy access to a few things while riding the bike.  I’ve been envious of others pulling out their cameras on rides.  I had to stop and fumble around in my trunk bag.  That shouldn’t be an issue now.

Acorn Handlebar Bag
Acorn Handlebar Bag

I have another bike project in the works for the LHT.  Stay tuned, I’ll be posting about it next week.

Sunday 4/10 RCCS Ride

I meant to get this post up earlier, but I’ve been busy and tired.

Tim planned a nice 60-mile route starting in Hayden Indiana.  Although there had been some storms on Saturday, Sunday was looking really good.  No one else attended the ride, but the two of us rolled out of Hayden and headed north.

Wildlife on the road

Tim billed this as a gravel ride, but it’s hard to determine where the gravel will be before you get there.  After the first 8 miles of mostly smooth pavement, I began to think Tim had planned poorly.  I wasn’t complaining.  Gravel is adventurous, but smooth pavement is pleasant also.

We had a nice tailwind from the southwest when we started.  It wasn’t overly strong, but allowed for a good pace.  We knew we’d have to ride into the wind later.

Our route continued generally northeast.  We came across gravel here and there.  The tailwind made it quite the pleasant ride.  There were some rolling hills, but never any long climbs.

We made a quick stop a Selmier State Forest for a photo-op with the bikes.

Blueridge and LHT

We eventually made it to some wonderful gravel roads once we were fairly far north-east of North Vernon.  We still had a nice tailwind and the sun was warming us up.

Tim leading the way

Both Tim and I have acquired new GPS devices for our bikes.  I believe this is the first ride where we both used them on unfamiliar roads.  He sent me the route the night before.  Due to technical issues I had to re-draw the route.  I think I made a mistake as our devices did not agree during portions of the ride.  We are both still learning the their idiosyncrasies.

It still worked well.  It was Tim’s ride, so we used his GPS when there was a discrepancy.  We have different models of Garmin devices, but with the same maps.  It was strange how they nearly always beeped at the same moment.  We (mostly) had turn-by-turn directions working.

Green field

After passing through the tiny town of Zenas we crossed the Muscatatuck River.

Muscatatuck river

Once crossing the river we turned into the wind.  We knew this was coming, but the wind had picked up since the beginning of the ride.  So we had a weak tailwind at the beginning of the ride, leading to a strong tailwind at the middle of the ride.  Ugh.  Our brisk average speed of over 15mph dropped.

Looking south – into the wind

On the bright side, the wonderful gravel had returned.

Hills, gravel, and trees

The slower pace and harder work due to the headwind meant I took more breaks for pictures.

Old schoolhouse?

The route had us going through Muscatatuck, which is a “town” owned my the Army and used by the Indiana National Guard for urban warfare training.  As we approached we noticed a guard shack.  I assumed we’d have to detour.  The guard waved us through, so we continued.

There wasn’t much going on at Muscatatuck on Sunday.  I figured I’d play it safe and leave my camera in my bag.  There were run down buildings, collapsed trailers, and overturned vehicles.  It looked like, well, a war-zone.  I almost expected a blown-up bridge.

Exit gate

This bridge over a tributary of the Muscatatuck made a nice place for a rest.

Quiet bridge

We had more uphill gravel into a headwind to look forward to.

The next challenge

We rolled into North Vernon needing food and water.  Tim was carrying some snacks, but I wasn’t as I had eaten a large breakfast.  We looked at the menu of a small cafe, but decided against it, and went to a gas station for snacks and water.

We left North Vernon on some awfully smooth pavement before finding more gravel.  We eventually crossed the Muscatatuck River again and stopped for a photo shoot.

Lazy LHT

With all of the rain recently, the river is rather high.  This could be important later.

Brown, flooded river

When we turned on CR700W*, there was a sign that said “Road Closed – High Water”.  I didn’t worry about it much.  Cars were coming through and there were no barricades.  It was a straight, flat, gravel road heading north.  We finally had the horrid wind at our backs.  I was ready to roll.

Then we rolled up to this.

Flooding ahead!

The water never got more than a couple of inches deep.  Not only was it not up to the hubs, it wasn’t even up to the bottom bracket.  We carefully rode through.  The first stretch wasn’t bad, and I didn’t even get my feet wet.

We pulled over in the dry patches to let the cars come through.  We didn’t want them barreling by and getting us wet.

One of the flooded stretches was a bit deeper.  I attempted to lift my feet off of the pedals at the lowest part of the pedal stroke, but it was no good.  My feet got wet.  It wasn’t a problem, it had warmed up quite a bit and the ride was nearly over.

We continued north back to Hayden.  We had the wind at our backs, it was quite a nice ride.  Once arriving, my odometer was a little shy of 60 miles, so we circled to push it to 60.3.  That’s much better than 59.9.

This was one of the more pleasant rides I’ve done it a while.  It had some rolling hills, but none were so bad as to make you suffer.  It was scenic.  The weather was nearly perfect, other than the wind.  Like most loop rides, the wind was only a problem during half the ride.  It helped the other half.  It was long enough to be interesting and take the better part of a day, but not so long as to make me want to give up near the end.  All in all, quite a nice ride.

Download

*This road is called CR700W in Google Maps and CR500W in Garmin’s maps.  Which is right?  I don’t know.

Interesting Sunday Start

I’m planning on riding the RCCS ride in a few hours.  I’ve been up since 2:45am.  Ugh.

I also had a quick errand to run.  I don’t mind a quick, early-morning errand on the bicycle.  It helps get the blood flowing.  My concern today was that I had to ride to the airport.

The airport is about the same distance from my house as work is (3.6 miles).  I don’t normally consider the roads there very bike friendly.  There’s a main loop around the parking areas and up to the terminal, but they are much like freeway ramps.  The speed limit is 35 on most of it, down to 15 near the terminal, but I’ve seen drivers doing 70 through there.

I left home on this errand at 4:15am, assuming traffic would be light.  I was right until I got to the airport itself.  The loop was a little busy.  People were exiting I-264 unto the loop at high speed.  In fairness, everyone seemed to slow down when they say a guy on a bike (with lights and reflective vest) taking a lane.  Maybe they wondered what had been slipped into their morning coffee.

The entire errand took 30 minutes (7.3 mile round-trip) and used zero gas.

Fun Saturday and Around Town Ramblings

My wife and I had company on Friday and Saturday.  Two of her cousin’s kids came to spend the night.

I left work on Friday and rode out to Za’s Pizza to meet up with them.  After enjoying some pizza and beer, I rode home, beating them back to the house.  I can get through Bardstown Road traffic faster than they can.  🙂

On Saturday, Kristy wanted to stop by a co-worker’s house who was having a garage sale.  I didn’t want to get stuck there for very long and I had errands to run.  I hooked up the trailer to my single-speed, and met her there.

The house was down off of Southern Parkway.  It’s not an area I’m overly familiar with, but I didn’t have my GPS and still managed to not get lost.

I left there and headed toward Feeder’s Supply on Baxter.  Along the way the weather started looking ominous, and I had to wait for a train.  While waiting for the train, lightning started cracking.  It still wasn’t raining.

I purchased about 60lbs of pet supplied, loaded it into the trailer, and headed off.  I still had another stop to make, On Your Left Cycles, also on Baxter.

I was discussing a project with Drew at OYLC when the storm really started rolling in.  There was heavy rain, strong winds, possible hail, yellow skies, and strong lightning.  I stayed at OYLC for a few extra minutes to wait out the worst of it.

I later found out that my wife was still at her friend’s house near Southern Parkway.  She watched a metal shed/storage building tumble across the road.

Once the severe weather passed, it was still raining, and I headed for home.  My trailer still has the rain cover, which is helpful in keeping the dog food dry.

The road was littered with tree branches, trash cans, and other storm debris.  It was a slow, uneventful ride back home.

That little bit of riding on Saturday was still 14.8 miles – all of it while towing the trailer.

Beautiful Day For a Commute by Bicycle

Spring is here.  We’ve had warmer temperatures, storms, rain, wind, and sun over the last couple of weeks.

Yesterday was pleasant, if a bit windy.  I saw more than 10 cyclists on my trip home from work.  One was Rick Croslin, who I met last year at an LBC ride.  He was on his fixed-gear, I was riding my single-speed.  We recognized each other’s bikes first.

Today I’m planning on taking the long way to work.  I’m up early and fueling up with coffee and oatmeal.  It’s a brisk 44F out, but should warm to about 70F by afternoon.

Drag your old bike out of the garage and get it tuned up.  This year is the year to start riding again.

Too Many Bikes

I have four bikes.  I ride two of them frequently.  Sadly the recumbent and the folding bike are the two I don’t ride.  I’ve been considering selling them to pay for upgrades on the LHT and single-speed, which I will keep.  This would also allow me to stick with my simple-living idea.

The problem is, I can’t bring myself to sell them.  I love the ‘bent, even if I don’t ride it much anymore.  The folding bike has a two minor purposes in my home.

I guess simple is going out the window.  I’m not selling.  Here’s the plan:

Folding Bike: I’ll clean this bike up and shove it in a closet for when visitors come over.  It’s adjustable enough for nearly anyone to ride.  It’ll be a guest bike.  It’ll also work in the rare instance that I need a folding bike.  I won’t upgrade any parts on it.

Recumbent: I’ll start tearing this bike down for a rebuild.  It may someday sport a dynohub and Rohloff rear hub.  I’ll get it repainted a different color, upgrade the brakes, and do something different with the handlebars/cockpit.  This will end up being quite expensive, but I’ll stretch it out over several years.  I may eventually need a recumbent for touring when my body can’t handle an upright anymore.

Shorter term changes would be new rear rack, adding midship rack, and upgrading the brakes.

Long Haul Trucker: This is a great touring bike.  I used it on my 5-day tour, and I’ll use it again.  At some point I want new brakes and a dynohub, but the bike rides well as-is.  It’ll also be my gravel ride, hilly ride, and winter bike.

Single Speed: This bike has recently become my primary commuting bike.  The intended use was as a stripped-down, light-weight, pretty bike, but it’s now sporting a rack and fenders.  It’s still pretty, and I’ll be careful when choosing new components to not ruin the (admittedly weird) aesthetic it’s got going on.

I do want to add a dynohub to it also.  See a pattern here?  At some point it’ll get some tougher tires, as the rough roads here mean I get the occasional flat on my commute – not fun.

The issue with four bikes

Everything I just outlined is part of the problem of having four bikes.  I have four bikes I need to maintain and upgrade.  Not only does this cost money, but it takes time.  It makes life more complicated, not simpler.

If I could keep only one bike, it would be the LHT.  Luckily, that’s not the case.  I could do everything I need on it, but although I use a bike for transportation, I also enjoy the cycling experience.  I enjoy variety.  I’d be fairly happy with two bikes, and four just gives me more to worry about, but with the possibility of more in the future.

In addition to my four bikes, I’m also maintaining my wife’s bike and my daughters.  Neither is seeing much use right now, so it’s not an issue.  I hope that changes this year.

Sleepy

I did ride to Charlestown and back yesterday.  That is in addition to the ride I did with Tim.  I racked up 76 miles or so.

I had planned another ride today, but I really needed to sleep in.  Now I have domestic duties around the house, and very little energy.

I crawled out of bed about 10 minutes ago.  I’m stiff and sore.  I still need to make some coffee.

It seems almost a crime to waste the weather today.  It’s supposed to get up into the 70s.  Maybe I’ll squeeze in a one-hour ride later.  Coffee, breakfast, and housework need to come first.

March Mileage

I use two methods to track my mileage, and they don’t always agree.  I use MyCyclingLog and I also track my bike odometer readings in an Excel file by the week and by the month.

The Excel document is more accurate, as I don’t forget a full week or month.  Apparently I do forget to enter rides on MyCyclingLog, because the numbers are different by more than 15 miles.

Using my record keeping, I had 646.5 miles for the month of March which is my 2nd highest mileage month yet.  The first was June of 2010 at 665.6 miles.  The March mileage is higher in large part due to my mini-tour.

I want to exceed 700 miles in April, yet I’m not doing a tour.  I’m taking a longer route to work, and trying to longer rides on the weekend.  This morning, Tim and I put in over 30 miles.  I have to mow the lawn at my old house in Charlestown, so I’m going to ride there.  I may ride back depending on the time I finish up.

I don’t know what tomorrow has in store yet, but I intend to be on the bike.