Back on Gravel

I met up with Tim and Asher for a gravel ride on Sunday.  I was up early to prepare for a 7:30 am meeting at Sunergos for coffee ahead of time.  I was riding the Fargo, as it’s my gravel bike.  I haven’t ridden it much recently, and have barely ridden it since adjusting the handlebars.

We enjoyed coffee before heading out.  It was 36F in the city.  As Tim drove us to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge the temperature dropped to 31F.

We arrived to a slightly foggy, somewhat cold morning.

Foggy sun

Muscatatuck has a lot of flat area with gravel roads, interspersed with lakes. It’s really a pleasant area. There was a deer hunt going on, so I was glad to be wearing a bright-yellow jacket.

Gravel

The morning light was very nice.

Tim capturing a photo

Fifteen miles in, I was hurting.  I’m more out of shape and heavier than I’ve been in years.  No good!

Some fall colors

This was a planned 38-ish mile ride.  I was having doubts, but before long we were at the halfway point.  Here was “the green bridge”.  Tim said I’d ridden over it before, but I don’t remember it.  We rode across this rather nice bridge, and sat down at the edge of the road to have a snack.

Green bridge in the distance

I felt better after the snack.  I was still slow.  Asher and Tim spent time waiting for me now and again.

We traveled two “not roads” as Tim calls them.  Both were grassy and a bit overgrown.  The foliage was tall enough to get caught in gears and hide logs.  It was slow going, but quite fun.  Hopping logs is fun.

The “not road” on the return leg turned into a much tamer path used by local walkers and bird-watchers.  There was a gazebo on a lake with a nice view.

Fargo in silhouette

Tim did some bird-watching.  I was glad for the break.

View from the gazebo

Asher seemed intent on getting a “selfie”.

Selfie?

We took another break as we were near-finished.  Tim was trying to identify a duck from a distance.  I was wearing contacts instead of glasses, and I couldn’t even see the duck.

What duck?

Though tired, I was amenable to an extra 1.5 mile loop through Muscatatuck.  At this point Tim was going slow to watch the birds.  The weather had warmed into the 50s.  It was quite pleasant.

Green water. Go for a swim?

It was a short ride back to the car.  We drove back to Sunergos.

Tim and Asher are participating in a bit of silliness called coffeeneuring.  Go ahead, follow the link, I’ll wait.  I’m not participating, but I did ride a three-mile loop around Germantown with them, ending right back at Sunergos, so they could get their check-in for the day.

Tim tempted me by riding right past my favorite bar, and near my home.  I stuck with them, and finished up with more coffee.

The gravel ride was 38.1 miles.  The coffeeneuring was 3 miles.  My riding to and from Sunergos was 2.1 miles – giving me a grand total of 43.2 miles for the day.

That’s certainly not an epic day, but with my lack of fitness, it was challenging.  I’m only about a month away from Gravel Grovel, which is substantially harder.  I need to train, and I’m still not sure I can handle Grovel this year… yet I’ve already registered.

Tim’s write-up is here.

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Relationship News

This blog has seen a lot of changes in my life.  I went through a divorce in 2007 and 2008.  I married in 2009.  I divorced again in 2011.

I’m a bit of a loner.  I like the freedom of living alone.  As I’ve aged, I’ve found being alone to be, well, lonely.  I want a good woman to spend the rest of my life with.  I’ve found her.

Today, I asked Diane to be my wife.  She accepted.  We’ll marry on 4/6/2014.

I had planned to ask during the camping trip, but I stupidly left the ring at home.  Doh!  I considered asking without the ring, but it didn’t feel right.

Today, we ate dinner on the front porch.  After eating, I got up to grab something to show her.  While I was up, I grabbed the ring and pocketed it.  After being back out on the porch for a bit, I dropped to one knee, and asked her to be my bride and spend the rest of our lives together.

Yes!, said the beautiful woman

Busy Day

My day started with a 7:00am dentist appointment.  It was just for cleaning and perio-care.  Yes, I have gum disease.  I rode my bike there, in the pre-dawn coolness.

I’ve been on the tandem a lot recently, but Diane was at work, so I was back on the rSogn.  It was nice to ride a reasonably light road bike again.

After the dentist appointment, I had a 9:00am doctor appointment.  It was just a quick ride down the road.

This appointment went well.  I’m trying a different anti-depressant.  I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea.  I also got my first ever flu-shot.  I’ve avoided them for years.  I was considering it this year, but I was sick when they gave them at work.  I’m no longer sick, so I took a shot in the arm.

The doctor has mentioned that I need to cut back on my beer.  It contributes to my ongoing obesity and depression.  I’m seriously considering giving it up entirely…. just not yet.

After the appointment I had a brisk ride to work.  After work I ran to the drug store, then home.

Diane and I went out to run an errand later, but we rode single bikes rather than the tandem.  I had 15.9 miles for the day.

Tandem Camping

Diane and I took the tandem on a camping trip on Saturday night.

It rained most of the day on Saturday.  We knew the rain would end in the afternoon.  It did, around 2pm.

We ran to the grocery store on our way out to grab some supplies, only to discover some mechanical issues.  We went back home for some adjustments before heading out.

Arkel panniers look and work great on the tandem

Some of the roads were still wet.  We still need to get fenders for the tandem.

Asher and Denis had invited us to go out for dinner at Jimbo’s Bar-B-Que, which was quite good.  Not being in a hurry to get to the campsite meant we had plenty of time to hang out.

Loaded

Once on the road again, we took a “tour” of the outer edge of Iroquois Park.  The park is built on a hill, but by skirting the outside edge we avoided the heavy traffic on the main roads and the hill in the middle of the park.

Wow, what a doofus

Diane was in good spirits.  We weren’t going very fast, but faster than she would have went on a single bike.  There was a fair amount of traffic, but we encountered no problems.

Diane is much better looking than I

We had to make a slight detour to pick up our campsite paperwork.  I had reserved it over the phone.  For an extra fee, they deliver firewood directly to the campsite.  It’s worth every penny.

Just a bit later, we were climbing Holsclaw Hill.  This is the only real climb on the route, and Diane’s first real climb.

We made it up a bit.  I fell into a reasonable pace in our lowest gear.  I thought we’d do it.  Shortly after, Diane had enough.  We got off and walked to the top.  For a few minutes, I thought Diane was mad, and that I had pushed her too far.  That turned out not to be the case.  She was suffering with sore legs, but didn’t get grumpy.

It was fairly dark when we arrived.  I put my focus on a campfire first.  I’m notoriously bad at starting fires, but I had bought some fire starter bricks, and that worked well.  Before long we had a roaring campfire.

Fire!

Meanwhile, Diane was inflating the pad for her sleeping bag.  It’s actually my new-ish Big Agnes Air Core Pad and Encampment bag, but I let her use it, while I used my old bag.  The weather forecast was calling for cool temperatures, and I didn’t want her to be uncomfortable.

Blow it, Baby!

My new-ish tent is officially a two-person, although I bought it for solo camping trips.  It worked out well enough.

Two people? Yep

This is the route we took to the campsite, edited for Asher’s privacy (we stopped by his house).

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We completely enjoyed the evening.  The warm fire and a couple of adult beverages coupled with non-functioning cell phones made this a nice night.  Diane did manage to get one of her shoes too close to the fire, and it started to smoke.  Oops.

Eventually, we went to bed.  This is where the trouble began.  I was uncomfortable without my air pad.  Diane was cold.  I managed to fall asleep for a while, and Diane listened to me sleep, getting angry as I did.  I got possibly two hours of sleep before I woke up sore and cold.

We talked a while.  She wanted to go home.  I convinced her I would have trouble packing everything in the dark.  She eventually dozed off and I was the one who couldn’t get back to sleep.

She probably slept four hours.  I laid there wishing I could sleep.  My bones ached.  I remembered why I had the air pad.

She woke up around 5:00 am.  I was still awake.  It was still a couple of hours from sunrise, but neither of us wanted to lay there any longer.  Unfortunately, we had burned all of our firewood, and wouldn’t be able to start another fire.

I did bring an Esbit stove, so I fired that up for coffee.

Coffee and raccoon hat make Diane smile

We spent a couple of hours making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to pack the little things.  Once it was light out, we took down the tent and began packing in earnest.

We learned that it had gotten colder than the forecast 42 degrees.  There was frost on the ground.  Brrr!

Diane mentioned that we should take a direct way back, traffic be damned.  Considering it was early Sunday and there wouldn’t be much traffic, I was in complete agreement.

After a frigid downhill leaving the campground, it was just the steady monotony of keeping the pedals turning.  There wasn’t much discussion other than where to stop for coffee and food.  We settled on Sunergos on Woodlawn Ave.  We stayed there quite a while.  The bike got quite a few looks.

We left Sunergos warmer and happier than we had been.  It was time to go home and do yardwork and other mundane tasks.

It was a good weekend.  I like to push Diane to do more than she’s used to, but I want to be careful and not push her too far.  I think I did well on this, other than the overnight temperature, but that was due to an incorrect forecast.  If the weather guys can’t get it right, how can I?

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I Could Get Used To This

I rode the tandem to work yesterday… by myself.  Nobody yelled “she fell off”.

After work, Diane and I rode it to volleyball.  The tandem is our car replacement for trips together.

Today, I rode my rSogn to work (it fits on the elevator).  We went to see Dracula at Actors Theatre after work.  It was raining lightly, yet Diane was willing to take the tandem again.  After the show (totally worth seeing), we had a few drinks.  The weather had cleared and we had a peaceful ride home.

We’re considering a bike camping trip this weekend.  Yes.  I could get used to this.

Crazy Tandem Stuff

Saturday, Asher and Denis brought their recently acquired tandem over for a two-tandem ride.  I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures, but we rode 15-ish miles around town, through Cherokee Park, out to dinner, out for beer, and finally stopped for ice cream.  Asher wrote more about it.

Sunday, Diane and I wanted to ride across the Second Street Bridge and over into Indiana.  She wanted to see some of the Jeffersonville businesses.

Preparing the tandem – note: stoker saddle angle is no longer like that

After meandering around Jeffersonville a bit, Diane decided she wanted to run by Home Depot for some supplies for a project.

The nearest Home Depot was in Clarksville, and not in a very bike-friendly area.  Luckily, Diane isn’t really scared of traffic.  We headed up Eastern Boulevard then onto Lewis and Clark.  These are busy, multi-lane roads that rarely see bike traffic.  We had no issues.

We stopped at O’Charley’s for lunch and beer.  It’s not my favorite place, but it’s hard to find a good place out in suburbia.  They did have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, so I was happy.

Mmmm. Beer.

Yes, I wore “visibility green”.  Diane prefers more normal clothes – and she doesn’t wear a helmet.

She had Blue Moon

There was no place to lock up at Home Depot.  We just wheeled the bike in and left it near the service desk.  We were there to pick up molding for a project.  It was simple enough to secure it to the bike frame with bungee cords.

Hauling molding

After leaving Home Depot we took a fairly direct way back to Louisville.  CycLOUvia was going on, and we at least wanted to check it out.

Costume and a highwheel

As expected, there seemed to be a good turnout at CycLOUvia.  We went slowly to avoid little kids, rollerbladers, dogs, and crowds of people just standing around.  We didn’t stop at any of the bars along the way.  They were all too crowded.

Ian towing his daughter and her bike

I saw a number of people I know.  We stopped and talked to some of them.  Apparently Tim was there, but I never saw him.

We wandered home and changed clothes.  We had a play to attend.

After changing clothes, we stopped at Four Pegs for a drink and a quick bite to eat before heading to Actors Theatre, where we have season tickets.  We saw The Mountaintop.  Afterward was a slow ride home in the dark.

Both saddles on the tandem are less than ideal, and we both were sore.  We rode 33 miles.  This was Diane’s longest ride, and my longest on the tandem.  I still hurt from that saddle.

In addition to new saddles, the bike needs fenders.  I’d eventually like to outfit it with a front rack for hauling more for overnight camping trips.

I’m really happy with the way Diane and I are riding this bike.

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New Tires on the Tandem… and Some Rain

When the tandem was new, it had some heavy-duty 26″x2.0″ tires on it.  The previous owner replaced them with completely slick 26″x1.2″ road tires.

The slick tires just aren’t my style.  They are too narrow.  The originals are too wide, and had too much tread.

I had some errands to run – including taking the tandem to the bike shop on Saturday.  I rode it alone in the rain.  I had to be careful with narrow, slick tires on the wet roads.

Once I got home, I switched out the tires to new Panaracer Pasela 26″x1.75″.  They’re reasonably light, have a little tread, but not much, and are wide enough for comfort.

Pasela

Once the weather cleared, Diane and I headed out for a beer.  We got caught in a heavy downpour on the way home.  Diane can still laugh about it.

Rain!

When we got up this morning, the news was full of stories of flooding and water rescues.  No wonder the police were giving us weird looks last night riding the tandem in the rain.

Next up for the tandem?  Fenders.

Needs fenders

Back on Two Wheels

I was out sick from work on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  By Thursday evening (last night), I was itching to get back on a bike – it had been a week.

I wasn’t up for distance.  I needed a bag of coffee, so Diane and and I took the tandem to Sunergos and grabbed some coffee.  Later, after dinner, we went to Four Pegs for a beer.

I’m back at work today.  I rode the Fargo.  The rSogn needs the rear wheel trued.  I’m still sick, but things are improving.