Whee! Holidays!

I had a four-day weekend for Christmas.  It was really a bit absurd.

Dummy on the road
Dummy on the road

On Friday I rode the Big Dummy over 50 miles.  I rode out to Prospect to look at a used laptop.  I didn’t buy it.  I then headed out to Bluegrass Bicycle in Crestwood to pick up my new wheels for the LHT.  I took some really hilly roads on the way there and back.  I made a day out of it and stopped for food in Crestwood and coffee in Prospect.

Both Sleepy Hollow Rd and Covered Bridge Rd were very nice.  US42 wasn’t.


Saturday was Christmas Eve.  I met up with others (I think it was Tim, Patrick, and Asher, but my memory is shot) early in the morning.  After riding around town for a while, I went to OYLC and hung out until noon, then went home.

I didn’t leave home on Christmas.  I had a splitting headache most of the day.  I hoped my daughter would drop by but she never did.  I talked to friends and family on the phone.  I worked on my LHT, installing the new wheels and brakes.  I moved the bar-end shifters to the downtube, and re-cabled everything.

I still wasn’t feeling well, but I rode the updated LHT for a quick coffee ride with Tim.  I immediately hated the downtube shifting.  I’ll be switching back to bar-ends soon.  Sooner is better than later, as that’s the only bike the studded tires will fit, and I don’t think I’ll get much more good weather.

My neck and shoulder issue also flared up on Monday as has been getting worse ever since.

Since then…
I was back at work yesterday.  I rode the Big Dummy so I could haul dog food after work.  I rode the single-speed today and my neck was at it’s worst this morning.  It hurt bad enough that I got off the bike and walked about a mile.  This afternoon was better.  I’m hoping it’s easing up again.  I’ll know more in the morning.

Today was also the Car-Free Happy Hour.  We had a good turnout at Irish Rover on Frankfort Ave.  I think the 25 or so of us that showed up overwhelmed them a bit.  Although it obviously stressed out the server, she handled it well.

Holiday Season?
This is  generally a stressful time of year for everyone.  I was lonely on Christmas.  It was probably best that I was alone with the horrid headache I had.  Thanksgiving was better.  Patrick had invited me over, and I got to know his family.  I’m now invited to Andy’s house for New Year’s Day brunch.  I’m glad I have a few friends in the area.

Relationships Are Hard – I’ll Just Ride My Bike

Relationships Are Hard – I’ll Just Ride My Bike.  I’ve said that too much recently, but it’s true.

My divorce is final as of Monday.  I found out yesterday, and got the paperwork today.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what could be done differently.  I’m done thinking about it now.  It feels like self-flagellation, and I don’t want to do that anymore.

When I talk to people about it they seem torn between saying “I’m sorry” and “Congratulations!”.  It’s kind of funny.  In reality it’s just closure and that’s a good thing.

Bikes, Beer, Blahs, and the Weekend

I have to keep reminding myself of my unhealthy relationship with food.  I haven’t been great about my new rules.

On Friday, some co-workers were getting together to go out for food and beer.  I was invited, and social occasions are allowed per my self-imposed rules.  The fact I had an overly-large lunch earlier wasn’t good, but whatever.

I had a beer called “Morning Wood”, and I even shared my “Morning Wood”.  I made a (probably annoying) comment about the bike rack being free when others were complaining about parking meters.

I slept in Saturday.  I went out for a ride with Tim.  I got about 23 miles in.  I ate leftover split-pea soup.  I hadn’t gone grocery shopping.  I really wanted to go out for food and beer.  I successfully suppressed those urges.

I got up early today, Sunday, to meet Tim, Patrick, and Asher for a ride today.  I left before sunrise in the cold air.  It was a good ride, mostly urban.  Nothing epic, just four guys riding around.  I did have some snacks at coffee shops, but nothing extreme.  I ended the day with over 46 miles.

Again, later in the day I was really wanting to go out for food and beer.  I still haven’t gone grocery shopping.  I’m cooking a simple peas and rice dish that I actually have the stuff to make.  I’m not going back out, because if I do, I’ll find myself gorged on food and sloshing full of beer.

I’m slightly depressed because I know I shouldn’t go out to eat and drink.  Adding to that is the fact that I don’t like the way I feel about it.  I didn’t have this much trouble controlling my eating and drinking three and four years ago.  Why now?

I am killing time and forgetting about food for a while by burying myself in reading.  I’m currently reading Spin, which I highly recommend, at least if you’re into science fiction.


More GAS and Some Decisions

I complained about my indecision about what to buy recently.  Some decisions have been made, at least for the first round.

I’m making some changes to the Long Haul Trucker:

  • Replacing crappy stock brakes with Tektro CR720 wide-profile cantis.
  • Using a fork-crown-mounted brake cable hanger to eliminate “brake shudder”.
  • Re-cabling the whole bike including housing.  I’ll re-route the shifter cables under the bar tape to allow me to use the bar-mitts.
  • The front derailleur was already replaced by a Ultegra model.  It works well.
  • Replacing front wheel: Shimano Alfine dynohub and Velocity Dyad rim
  • Replacing rear wheel: Shimano XT hub and Velocity Dyad rim

I’m doing most of this work myself.  Tom is building the wheels for me.

I had considered changing shifters or even going to down-tube shifters.  I’m not going to do that.  Shifters are stupidly expensive for what they are.  Little metal levers to pull a cable cost $100 a set for good ones.  Blah.  My current bar-ends work fine in friction mode.

I still want to buy new front and rear racks, but that’ll have to wait.  I won’t need them until my next tour anyway, whenever that may be.  I’ll also want front panniers and a handlebar bag with map holder.

Although I’m springing for the new dynohub now, I’m waiting on an actual headlight for it.  It’s mostly a matter of having the money for everything and figuring out how to mount it.  The fork crown on my LHT will be a busy place with fender and cable hanger hardware mounted there.  I found the image below of someone else’s bike.  They apparently drilled out the top of the cable hanger, and bolted an aluminum strip there to mount the light to.  The light I’ll buy won’t quite work like this, but it may be a starting point.

Headlight mount
Headlight mount

I still have plans for other bicycles, but they are on hold for a bit.  The LHT really needs work, and I use that bike for many different kinds of rides.  We’ll see what 2012 has in store.

Aborted Gravel Ramble

Tim, Patrick, and I got together early this morning for a drive out to Holland Indiana for another gravel ride.  We all rode with Tim.  Tim picked me up right on time at 6:20.  We loaded my bike, and made a stop at Sunergos… which doesn’t open until 7:00 on Sundays now.  Okay, next door is Nord’s with passable coffee and a donut.

As we left the metro area the temperature dropped from about 22F to 17F.  Brrrr.  It had warmed to about 19F by the time we arrived in Holland.

I have some history with riding in the winter out of Holland.  Last time, we had a planned store stop in Winslow, just as we did this time.  Last time, we cut that part of the ride out and I stopped and refused to ride farther because the snow was too much for me to ride in.  I ended up sitting on a bench in the town of Stendal waiting for a ride back home.

Today was cold, but there was no snow.  About 7 miles in, we come across our first problem.  The route was taking us on a private road with big KEEP OUT signs.  We routed around and kept going.

I had switched back to clipless pedals recently, and had tried my best to keep my feet warm in the vented shoes.  I wore two pair of wool socks with plastic bags between them to block wind and keep warmth in.  It really wasn’t working.  My feet were getting painfully cold.  The rest of me was comfortable.

Although he wasn’t complaining about it at the time, Patrick was suffering cold feet also.  He was running his normal clipless pedals and shoes with toe covers.  Tim was the smart one.  He swapped out his pedals for some platforms and wore warm shoes.

I had made comments before the ride that “at least were routing around Stendal” – the town I sat on a bench in the cold back in January.  Our detour to avoid the private roads took us through Stendal.  The bench is still there in front of the defunct Stendal Store.

At about mile 17 Tim decided he needed to head back.  He was feeling weak and ill.  He tried to convince us to continue the ride, since I had my GPS.  Patrick and I both had painfully cold feet and we just figured that left us more time to eat.

We headed back a mostly direct route to Holland, passing through Stendal once again.  Nearly back to Holland we turned south on S 825 W.  This road surface was incredibly bad.  Luckily it was frozen enough that we didn’t bog down in mud.

S 825 W
S 825 W

We rolled back to Tim’s car.  Tim was glad to be off the bike, and could barely walk.  Patrick and I were griping about our frozen toes.  We loaded the bikes and stopped at Waffle House for a completely unhealthy, yet totally satisfying meal.

The planned 55-mile ride turned out to be only 27.5 miles.  It was still a much more enjoyable day than hanging around the house, or even riding around town.

Download file: 2011-12-11.gpx

Indecision and GAS

Tim talks about GAS and I understand.  GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome can lead to spending more time and money equipping the bikes than riding them.  That’s not acceptable.

I have three bikes I’d like to add to my stable.  A road/brevet bike.  A dedicated gravel bike, and a mountain bike.

In addition to that, I have a wishlist of stuff for my existing bikes.  My LHT needs some work.  I want to swap out most of the drivetrain.  I want different brakes.  I want different front and rear racks, new wheels, lighting.  Ugh.  This gets expensive very quickly.

I’m trying to prioritize what to do first.  I already have a new front derailleur on order for the LHT, but that’s a repair.  I could have new wheels built for that bike, using the existing hubs, and that would be a repair also, as the brake tracks are very worn on the rims.  I don’t want to use the existing front hub though.  I want a dyno-hub for powering a new lighting system.  Although I already had a dyno-wheel built for that bike, I ended up using it on the single-speed.

My next big purchase was going to be a frameset for the road/brevet bike, but now I’m reconsidering that.  I’m thinking I need to put the money into the LHT to get it ready to be a do-almost-anything bike.  Some of what I’d do is repairs.  Some of it is upgrades.

I spent several hours looking at bike stuff online today.  I could have done something useful in that time, but I didn’t.

I’m going to go do some housework now.  Something useful.

Escaping Reality

I have a bad habit of escaping reality through non-productive, or even destructive, means.  Sometimes it’s just wasting time surfing the internet.  Sometimes it’s food and/or alcohol.

I’m having a rough week.  I met with a lawyer on Tuesday to get the divorce started.  Papers were completed today and I stopped in to sign them.  I know I don’t like the way this whole ordeal has made me feel.  From what little Kristy has said, she’s feeling much the same way.

I wasn’t in the mood to cook after I got home today, but I wasn’t going to go out either.  I decided to read another book.  I burned through an entire novel, albeit an easy-reading one, in about three hours.  Once done, I revisited the dinner situation.

I had leftover spaghetti that I cooked yesterday.  I’ve been out of beer, and I’m not going out for more.  That’s probably a good thing.

I have several ride options for tomorrow, but I’m not sure I want to ride tomorrow.  I have a gravel ride with Patrick and Tim on Sunday.  I could stand to do some housework and yardwork tomorrow.  On the other hand, Timothy is putting on another LBC populaire tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll get up at 6:00am, eat a good breakfast, and decide what to do from there.

I’m going to go escape reality in my favorite fashion.  I’m going to sleep.

Transmission Trouble

Old Camaro
Old Camaro

My poor LHT sat in the kitchen with the wheels off for a couple of weeks, like a Camaro next to a double-wide.

As I mentioned yesterday, I worked on it last night, and it’s rideable again.  I’m having issues with the transmission.  On a car that spells an expensive fix.  Technically, you can get a very expensive bicycle transmission, but I’ll leave that to others.

My transmission issues center around my front derailleur.  Normally it’s a simple thing to shift to one of the three front chain rings.  Lately, I haven’t been able to get it to shift into the smallest, leaving me without my “steep hill climbing gears”.  Even racing Gravel Grovel, I had some issues, but was usually able to get the shift to happen after several attempts.

Usually this issue can be fixed with some simple adjustments.  That wasn’t the case this time.  The derailleur wouldn’t move far enough inward, even when disconnecting the cable and the limit screw made no difference.  Pushing the derailleur inward with my finger will make it go far enough.

Problematic derailleur and worn chain rings
Problematic derailleur and worn chain rings

I assumed this was just mud, muck, and other crud mucking up the works.  I cleaned everything the best I could and re-lubed.  It made no difference.  I stopped at OYLC on the way home from work today confident that they could fix it.  Even after soaking the derailleur in a cleaner it didn’t function properly.  Okay, the new one is on order and I’ll have it next week.

I have a gravel ride coming up on Sunday.  I guess if I really need the “climbing gears” I’ll be stopping and pushing the derailleur with my finger again.  It’s either that or scavenging parts off of one of my other bikes.

I went grocery shopping on Saturday.  I bought quite a bit of stuff (including beer!).  I hauled it all on the Big Dummy from several miles away.  I often go to Kroger which is less than a mile away, but I prefer the ValuMarket at Mid-City Mall.  I escaped the madness just as a beer festival that I didn’t know about was beginning.  I bought more than I intended and load it all so that nothing fell off was a challenge, but I like challenges.

Candy is checking out my groceries
Candy is checking out my groceries

I made it home without losing the load.  In addition to the six-pack strapped to the deck, there’s another (Schlafly Coffee Stout) in the bag.

I could have hauled more if I had used the wideloaders, but that’s all I needed this time around.

Updates and Stuff

I had the recumbent ready on Sunday night for the Monday commute.  I rode it to work with no issues.  I had an appointment after work to ride to, and I had a few shifting issues.  I’ll have to look into that later.

I had an appointment with a lawyer before work.  I rode the Big Dummy to work, then walked to the appointment.  I’m glad I did.  Traffic was a mess in the area due to an underground electrical box fire.  Even riding a bike through the area would have been problematic.

I had ridden the Big Dummy to pick up pet supplies at Feeder’s Supply after work.  I normally go to the Downtown location, but I wanted to check out a new route to St Matthews, so I rode my new route through the Richlawn and Beechwood Village neighborhoods to get to another location.

I then hauled 70lbs of pet supplies toward home, stopping at Four Pegs for beer and food.  I may have eaten what I shouldn’t have, but I did get over 20 miles in for the day, nearly half of that while hauling pet supplies.

Today I had a doctor appointment in New Albany before work.  My LHT was still in pieces, so I rode the single-speed.  By the time I got home, I had 26 miles.

Several of us are getting together this weekend for a gravel ride.  My LHT is the bike of choice here, so it was time to put it back together.

I cleaned the bike the best I could and reinstalled the fenders and wheels.  I cleaned and lubed the drivetrain.  I noticed a few issues.

  • Rear hub is “sloppy”
  • Front derailleur won’t shift to small ring, unless you push it with your finger
  • Rims are badly worn
  • Cables are worn
  • Brake pads are worn
  • Pedals were “crunchy” – one of them was also bent
  • Chainrings are worn

I don’t have the money to fix all of this right away.  I did have some different pedals in the closet that I put on it.  I’ll be stopping by the bike shop for help with the rear hub and front derailleur.  The hub because I don’t own any cone wrenches.  The derailleur, because I don’t know what’s wrong with it.  It could just need replacing.

The bike has seen nearly 6600 very hard miles.  This is the go-to bike for gravel, rain, winter, mud, and heavy loads (before the Big Dummy).  It looks like I’ll be spending a fair amount over the next few months fixing it up.

I’ve quit tracking my food intake again.  I’m going to start again tomorrow.  I’ve been busy and it takes time.  Yesterday’s fun at Four Pegs is what happens when I don’t hold myself accountable.

I’m still slowly losing.  Go figure.  I guess it’s a combination of better eating (even with mishaps) and more miles on the bike.

Rainy Errand Day and SOUP!

I like to post pictures when I write, but my indoor activities weren’t interesting enough to photograph.  I wasn’t going to take my camera out in the rain, so no pictures today.

While grocery shopping yesterday I bought some cornmeal.  It has been years since I’d had cornmeal mush for breakfast.  Well, that’s what I did today.  I probably added a bit too much sugar, but it was good.

I also rode the Big Dummy out to Lyndon to pick up the rear wheel for the recumbent.  Tom had fixed a broken spoke for me.  I also needed to return the tires that I had borrowed from Patrick.  He lives even further out in the Goose Creek area.

If I would have gotten up early, I could have done all of this before it rained.  I slept in and had a relaxing late morning with my cornmeal mush, so it began raining as I headed out.

I had no issues, even on the busy roads, getting to Tom’s place.  We chatted briefly, and I left with my wheel.  The ride to Patrick’s place was a bit worse.  The bike lane on Westport Rd ends after a while, so I took the right lane.  That seemed to anger three different fellow road-users.

I ended up spending a bit longer at Patrick’s place.  It was nice to warm up and talk bikes for a while.

It was getting dark when I left and headed for home.  Strangely, I had no issues with drivers on the return trip.  Maybe they felt sorry for the cold, wet, crazy guy on the bike.

Once I arrived home I began cooking dinner: Split-pea soup!  I hadn’t made it in years, and I always stuck with a really basic recipe.  With some guidance online, I added ham, onions, carrots, potatoes, fresh marjoram, and even spinach.

Soup is an excellent food to warm up with after 27 cold, wet miles on the bike.  The two bottles of beer I had with dinner were nice too.

I have enough leftover soup for several more meals.  Tomorrow’s lunch is ready!

Since I have my recumbent’s rear wheel fixed, I reinstalled the tire and have the bike ready to go.  I’m planning on commuting on it for most of the coming week.  I’m riding it again because it’s a neat bike and I haven’t ridden it in a while, and my neck is flaring up again.

Progress Since the Reset

On November 21st I began anew at the weight loss effort.  I spelled out my goals and rules.  I’ve been revisiting that post every day since then.

Progress?  I’ve not been perfect about the rules.  I even bought beer at the grocery store, and had a few last night.  I have been better.

Results?  My weight on 11/21 was 230.2lbs.  Today is 224.2lbs.  In the time between, it’s been 220s the whole time.  I’m seeing small consistent drops.

Weaknesses?  On Wednesday, I went out on an allowed outing for Car-Free Happy Hour.  I was fine with my food consumption, but had a bit more beer than necessary.  On Thursday, I was going to go out to eat, but the restaurant I went to went out of business.  I went home and cooked.  Friday I went out for pizza.  I ate entirely too much, but was better about the beer consumption.

I went grocery shopping last night on the Big Dummy.  I hauled a lot of groceries home.  I’m planning on making large amounts of soup.  I can freeze the extra.  I can easily bring it to work for lunch.  It should be a big help.

My daughter came to visit yesterday.  We made a chicken breast and rice dish.  I ate a bit too much and had beer.

I have no big bicycle plans this month.  I’m just coasting by.  We have one gravel ride planned in a week or two… I don’t know which weekend.  Other that that it’s just riding to work, running errands, or the occasional in-town ride.

I dropped off my rear wheel for the ‘bent on Friday.  That meant riding out to Lyndon after work.  I’m riding back out there today to pick it up, probably just in time for the rain to get here.