Gravel Grinder

I purchased the new cheap hybrid as a gravel machine.  It really won’t do well in that role until I’ve spent way too much money in upgrades.

I’ve made a change of plans.

Salsa Fargo

Robin drove me out to Main Street Bikes in Shelbyville Kentucky to test ride a Salsa Fargo 2.  They have one in stock that has been used as a demo bike.  It’s the large size, which seems to be what I need (but not the extra-large like Patrick has).

I took it for a spin around town, and I’m hooked.  With a swap of the stem, and moving some spacers around, the bars will be high enough for me to ride, even with my neck issues.

It’s the higher-end model with the BB7 brakes, SRAM 2×10 drivetrain with brifters, and Thudbuster seatpost.  I’ll probably swap out the seatpost.

I got back and put down a (large <gulp>) deposit.  The bike is mine.  I’ll pick it up in two weeks when I finish paying for it.

This bike won’t be a road-touring bike.  I’ll use my recumbent for that.  It won’t be for commuting, but I may ride it to work a few times to show it off.  I’ll just carry my stuff in a backpack, because I don’t intend to put a rack on it.  I won’t be putting fenders on it.

This bike is for off-road, gravel, mud, whatever.  I may do camping trips on it that require off-road capability.  I’ll have to learn about bikepacking.

I intend to race the Gravel Grovel again this year, and this is the bike to do it on.  It should do the trick better than the LHT that I used last year.  If I lose 20lbs by then,  I might even do as well (?) as I did last year.

Now the decision is what to do with the hybrid bike.  Sell it?  Keep it and add fenders?  I don’t know at this point.


I posted the following on Google+ this morning:

Today I’m officially back on the wagon as far as my weight lost attempt.

I stepped on the scale this morning – 245.8 lbs, ugh. I was down to 197.6 about three years ago. So, I’ve gained back about half of what I had lost.

I ate healthy meals yesterday, other than the snack from the coffee shop in the morning. I drank no alcohol.

Today is the real (re-)beginning though. I’m back to tracking everything I eat.

Although as of now, just over eleven hours later, I’m still on plan, I’m already running into difficulties.

I’m in a bad mood.  I haven’t cooked tonight’s meal, which will also provide a couple of lunches.  I have a strong desire to go get drunk.

At this point, I’m going to go to bed hungry tonight, and figure out tomorrow’s lunch tomorrow.  I’m just not in a good enough mood to deal with it.

My “Back Home” Ride

After getting back from San Diego late Thursday / early Friday, I slept in, then got up and ran errands on the bike.  I had to visit the bank, my daughter, and the bike shop.  Then I stopped for a beer and sandwich from Spinelli’s.

Around this time, Robin invited me to the Louisville Ski Club Happy Hour.  It was being held across the river in Jeffersonville.  I don’t ride to Indiana nearly as much as I used to, so it was a nice change to ride over.  I drank a limited amount, and talked with people, before heading back over the bridge just in time to catch the sunset over the Ohio River.

Sunset over the Ohio River

I liked the view so much, I stood on the sidewalk taking pictures for several minutes.

Louisville skyline

I used to ride over this bridge twice a day for commuting.  I almost never stopped for the view then.

Pink sky and Colgate clock

San Diego


I went to San Diego on Saturday the 11th for a work conference.  It didn’t start until the next day, but Robin went with, and we wanted some extra time to see things.

Our flight (through Atlanta) was long, but uneventful, which is about the best you can hope for.  I don’t enjoy air travel.  I had once decided I’d never do it again, but that could be bad for my career.

Our flight left Louisville at 6:00am.  A one-hour layover and three hours time difference, meant we still arrived in San Diego before 10:00am.  We took a cab to the hotel and got settled.

A view from in front of the hotel

We walked around the Gaslamp Quarter and stopped at The Bike Revolution to rent two hybrid bikes.  They were nothing special, but would get us around farther than we wanted to walk.

We brought our own helmets.  The bikes came with patch kits and locks.  I wore a backpack, which is good.  The bikes had no way to carry anything.

The Zoo was a bit over three miles away, but we were hungry and needed food first.  We found Nathan’s Smokehouse just around the corner from the bike shop

Robin at Nathan’s

We had talked to the guys at the bike shop and a pedicab driver about routes to the Zoo.  They had different things in mind.  We set off on the less-traffic route, stopping for pictures along the way.

Robin certainly looked like she was having fun

Yes, I was wearing a University of Kentucky Basketball t-shirt in San Diego.  Nobody ever mentioned it.

Hey! We’re in California!

The bikes were cheap 1×7 hybrids with chainguards.  My chainguard was rubbing the chain.  It didn’t affect the way it rode, but it made noise.

Many of the downtown parking meters have “bike loops” attached for locking your bike to.  This is much different from many other cities where locking your bike to a meter is illegal.

Cheap rental bike

This was my first time in San Diego.  I had heard it’s always sunny and 75F.  Well, not Saturday.  It hit 90F.  We were told later that it was a heat wave.

Finding our way to Balboa Park was pretty simple.  Getting to the Zoo entrance proved more difficult.

Riding through Balboa Park

We meandered around the park, but found we had to (briefly) get on a busy road to get to the Zoo.  We did, and the hardest part was the left turn into the Zoo.  Traffic was heavy and fast, but we had no issues.

There were three bike racks at the zoo.  All were pretty full.  Most were rental bikes like ours.  We did the best we could to lock up, and paid the $42 (each!) to get in the Zoo.

There was no way we had time or energy to see the entire Zoo.  We knew we wanted to see the pandas and koalas.  Anything else we saw was a bonus.  We hit the reptile area pretty early.

Isn’t he cute?

The exhibits we wanted to see were on the other side of the zoo.  There’s a cable car thing that gets you there.  That means a lot less walking, and give you a nice view of the area.  It was also free with the level of entry fee we paid.

The easy way to get across the zoo

We had some trouble finding the koala exhibit.  There was no way Robin would leave until we found it.  We eventually found somebody to tell us where it was.  We were only about 20 feet away when we found out.  I found the zoo layout to be confusing.

Yep, that’s a koala

Supposedly one of the koalas had a baby hanging on somewhere.  Even after reviewing all the pictures I took, I couldn’t find it.

Robin really wanted her picture with a koala.  Matilda was there to help.

Matilda the koala

I was really interested in the panda bears.  It took a while to figure out where they were at.  We got to see some interesting things along the way.

Don’t look behind you

The (real) polar bears were massive and scary.

I was glad for the thick glass between us

We eventually made our way to the panda exhibit.  The pandas were just laying around, but it was neat to see them.  We had our picture taken in front of a green screen so we could buy “panda photo” they provide.

Lazy panda

We made our way to the exit and headed out.  We had spent hours at the zoo, and spent quite a bit of money.  It was fun, and I couldn’t see going to San Diego without seeing the famous San Diego Zoo.

We tried to find a route to get back without getting back on the busy road.  We actually rode on the sidewalk for a bit (following advice from another guy with a bike).  We meandered a bit more, and found our way back.  We had a mostly downhill ride back to the hotel room where we parked the bikes, showered, and headed out for dinner.  Are total bike riding for Saturday was 8.1 miles.  Not a long ride, but with the walking involved, we were beat.

We were going to walk to dinner, but there was a gaggle of pedicabs vying for business.  What the hell, I’d never been on a pedicab before.  We paid a rather high price for a short ride, but it’s nice to have done it once.

Aboard the pedicab

We went to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.  They had a good selection of local microbrews.  We decided to walk back, rather than pay too much for another pedicab.  We spotted this in the window of Dick’s Last Resort, so I bought the panties for Robin.

Yes, she does

After getting back to the hotel room, we’d had a very long day.  I was asleep by 7:30pm local time.  I slept well, even in a strange hotel room.


On Sunday, I had errands to run.  We started with a bike ride to the nearby town of National City.  I needed to go to the drugstore.  There was one a bit closer, but the route was much hillier.  I also bought an iPhone charger while we were there, as I had left mine at home.

Our round-trip ride was 13.6 miles, including some sketchy neighborhoods.  Luckily, being Sunday morning, things were quiet.  We did have two idiots blow their horns at us, but whatever.

We got back to the Gaslamp Quarter and returned the rental bikes.  There wouldn’t be much more time for riding.

We went back to Dick’s Last Resort that we had bought the panties at.  The service there is interesting.  They are intentionally rude.  It’s quite fun.  I had a good burger and a beer.

I had to get to the conference for sign-in.  Robin wandered the Gaslamp Quarter looking at shops.  I got busy with conference stuff for a while.

Robin and I met back up for dinner.  I found a place called Funky Garcia’s.  Unlike the chain restaurants, this was a true San Diego thing.  The food was great.  The atmosphere was incredibly different.  The service wasn’t great though.

Robin described it as Chi Chi’s on ludes.  They were playing techno music (very loudly) when we arrived.  The TVs were playing the music videos, not sports as is common.  One particular video caught my attention, as it was the most sexually graphic music video I’ve ever seen.

We enjoyed the place.  The people watching was fun.  The beer was good.  They had switched to rap music as we were leaving, so the timing was good.  We walked back to the hotel.


The conference was in full swing on Monday.  I left in the morning and Robin went out on her own to shop at Seaport Village and other nearby areas.

She took a ferry to Coronado and put her feet in the Pacific ocean.  I was stuck in a session.

I never got the opportunity to get to the beach that she did.

After sessions were over, there was a conference event that Robin was allowed to attend. It was at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, which is where the San Diego Symphony plays during the summer.

It was basically 1200 people eating box dinners, drinking, and getting to know each other.  Robin was able to meet some of my co-workers.

Big event

It was after dark before we walked back to the hotel.


Robin was flying back Tuesday.  Once I left in the morning, I wouldn’t see her again until I returned.

I left for the conference breakfast, and Robin did a little more sightseeing before heading out.

Tuesday night was the free night, where nothing was planned by the conference.  My co-workers and I decided to go out to eat on Coronado.

We took the water taxi, but two of my co-workers literally missed the boat.  They went elsewhere, why the four of us that made it, went to Il Fornaio.  It was a bit pricey, but very good.

Coronado Water Taxi

It turns out we mis-read the water taxi schedule, and we missed the last one back.  There was a ferry, but we’d have to wait another 90 minutes with nothing to do.

I did take my shoes off and get my feet wet in the water while waiting.

Coronado Island is misnamed.  It’s really not an island, but a peninsula.  There’s a road on the southern “strand” that connects to the mainland.  There’s also a bridge connecting, and it’s a shorter route.  It was a quick, easy taxi ride back to the hotel.  Probably even safer than swimming.  🙂

There’s an outdoor bar near the pool and hot tub behind the hotel I was staying in.  It was beautiful weather (the heatwave was over by Monday).  I spent some time sitting by a gas fire drinking great local beer.


Wednesday was another full day at the conference.  Like all days, breakfast and lunch is provided.  This day, dinner was also, at the party in the evening.


The dinner party was on the flight deck of the USS Midway.  The USS Midway is now a museum.  They have aircraft on display on the deck, and below.  Also below are flight simulators (that we had free access to).

There was a beautiful sunset, that I missed due to being in a flight simulator at the time.

This event always has food (this year’s left a bit to be desired), free beer (poor selection), and a live music event.  To do this aboard an aircraft carrier was really bizarre.


Thursday was a short day for me, because my flight was leaving at about 1:20pm.  I went to breakfast, then checked out my hotel room.  I went back to the conference and attended one session.  Then I took a cab to the airport, and went through the standard airport stuff.

At 12:30am Friday morning (an hour late due to weather) I was back in Louisville, where Robin picked me up and drove me home.


My body’s clock is still off.  This is the first time I’ve ever flown to the west coast.  I’ve driven, but the time change is gradual enough that it’s not an issue.  Not so when flying.

Friday, my first day home, I did get out on the bike.  I didn’t have to work, but I ran errands and attended a Ski Club happy hour.

Today, I haven’t yet gone out of the house.  I haven’t even dressed yet.  I slept in, then spent most of the day organizing pictures from the trip and writing the long post.  How many of you read the whole thing?

Next Year

Assuming I go to this conference next year, it’ll be more interesting to me personally.  It’s being held in San Francisco, another California city that I’ve never been to.

I’d love to add several extra days to my time there, and explore much more by bicycle.  I guess I need to start saving money now.


The Invisible Car-Free

Many of you may know the visible car-free. They bum rides everywhere.  They don’t have a car due to bad circumstances. It was never a choice.  It’s often temporary.  I saw a sad craigslist post a while back for a bike for sale.  It was for sale because the owner “didn’t need it anymore” because he “got a car”.

I’m in San Diego for a conference.  There are people from all over the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand here.  These are professionals.  Otherwise their employers wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars to send them here.

I don’t generally bring up being car-free to most people that I don’t know, but a couple of discussions have went down that path since I’ve been in town, and I’ve found two car-free individuals.

The first is a woman from Sydney Australia.  She gets around on foot and with public transportation.  She has her groceries delivered.  She was one of the first conference attendees I talked to.  I had breakfast with her on Monday.  Our discussion started about timezones and jet lag.

While Robin and I were shopping, the owner of small tourist-oriented place in the Gaslamp Quarter discussed bikes (because we were riding rented ones) and the fact that I’m car-free came up.  He is also.  He doesn’t ride a bike, but he walks and takes public transportation.  He also works at the Zoo, so the MTA trolleys come in rather handy for him.

I’ve seen a lot of conference goers from New York City.  I imagine a good percentage of them are car-free.  It’s quite common in major cities with good public transportation.

Here in San Diego, pretty much all of us in this conference (over 1200) are at least temporarily car-free, as we flew here and are all staying a short distance from the conference.  Most everything you could need is right here within walking distance. Public transportation can get you anywhere else.

Between the climate and the public transportation, I’m really tempted to stay here….

New Bike Changes

Tim met up with me the other day and dropped of some tires to try on the Big Dummy.  I’ve had a lot of flat tires with the old ones.  I haven’t put them on yet.  We’ll see how that goes.

Tim was going to loan me some tires he had to try on the new bike.  Due to mis-communication, he didn’t bring them.  It’ll have to wait a week.  He’s on a short bike tour right now.  I’m leaving Saturday morning for a trip to San Diego.

I stopped by the bike shop today after work.  I ordered a new seatpost for the new bike.  It’s not a two-bolt like I wanted, but it’s a third of the cost.  I’m also skipping the new seatpost clamp.  I’ve also decided to stick with the existing saddle for a while. We’ll see how that works out too.

I also bought two bottle cages.  I only had one on the new bike.  I’ll now have two, and can put yet another on the Big Dummy.

I still need focus in my life.  That seems hard to do with this trip to San Diego (work related, but gonna enjoy it anyway), and other stuff going on.  My earlier post about making my house livable is all about being able to be home and enjoy myself.  That will make focusing easier.

I’m not setting any bicycling goals for the time being.  I’m not setting any weight goals.  I want to pull things together.  I also need to remember to enjoy where I’m at now rather than worry about where I may be later.

Still No Long Rides

I rarely ride more than 10 miles in a day now.  It’s mostly just commuting, errands, or neighborhood rides.  Robin and I still ride to volleyball on Mondays.

Some of this is mental.  I still suffer from depression.  Some of this is poor time-management and some is logistical.

I bought the new hybrid (Nermal 2.0?) to make into a gravel bike.  I’ve added a rear rack so I can ride it to work.  I still needs changes:

  • Fatter tires
  • Better saddle
  • Two-bolt seatpost
  • Better seatpost clamp
  • Another bottle cage

Once I get those things, I’m prepared for gravel rides.  Later, I’d like:

  • Different handlebars
  • Better brakes, pads, and levers
  • Small front rack
  • Better pedals

Maybe next year I can really upgrade the bike, to where only the frame and a few parts are still original.  I’d add:

  • Better wheels
  • 9-speed drivetrain (3×9 or maybe 2×9)
  • New crankset
  • New shifters

All this is nice, but doesn’t solve the root causes.  I’m out of shape and depressed about it.

Home Sweet Home

My house has been a shambles.  Sometimes it’s clean, other times it’s dirty, but it’s been disorganized and not pleasant to live in.  I haven’t had a kitchen table since Kristy moved out.  I didn’t like the one we had before she moved out.

I never used my livingroom.  I mostly just slept at home.  Too much space was taken up by bike parts and tools.  Every flat surface was covered in junk.

Robin had brought a TV and DVD player over so we could watch movies together on the couch.

Since then, I’ve wanted to spend more time at home, but I needed a few things to make it nicer to be here.

Over the last few weeks, Robin and stopped at a lot of yardsales.  I bought two table lamps for the bedroom.  I bought a floor lamp for the livingroom.  Yesterday we found an old, but sturdy and nice, kitchen table with four chairs.  It was priced well, as it was missing it’s middle leaf.  This makes the table football-shaped, but that doesn’t bother me. The smaller size fits my kitchen better.

My bedroom had water damage from the leaking roof.  The roof has been repaired, but the bedroom needs painting and new carpet.  I moved my bedroom to the front of the house (former livingroom), which is bigger.  My livingroom moved back one room to the former “bike room”.

The old bedroom is bike storage for now, but I’ll have to move them out for remodeling.

I did some bike work that I’ve been meaning to for a while.  This allowed me to get rid of some stuff, and put other stuff away.  I no longer have bike parts or tools anywhere, except put up where they belong.

My house is de-cluttered and clean.  It feels like a nice place to live again.  I still have paperwork to sort in the computer room, but it won’t take long to do that.

I’m still recovering from being sick, so a long bike ride was out of the question for the weekend.  Using the extra time to clean and organize was a better idea.

This is reducing my stress level and helps me feel in control of my life again.  Sometimes, little things can really help.