Wednesday, April 15, 2020

190K

In February, 1995, Greg LeMond came to Boise.

Remember Greg?  He was the first-ever American to win the Tour de France... several years before whats-his-name... the disgraced guy.  LeMond won three times in his career.  I stood in line on a gray winter morning to get an audience with him.  I got a photo and we chatted.  I told him I'd ridden 50,000 miles.  (Cumulative, since I started tracking in 1986.)  His jaw dropped... he interpreted that to mean I'd ridden 50k miles in a year!  I clarified.  He laughed, and gave me a signed poster - one of his moments of glory on the Champs-Élysées, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.  He wrote on it, "To Steve, keep it up another 50,000! -Greg LeMond."  It's a prized possession, framed along with our photo together.

As it turns out, I did keep it up another 50,000.  On September 1, 2004, I rode my bicycle to the Statehouse and lofted it high above my head, in a lame imitation of Rocky!  Because that was the day I hit 100,000 miles.  My office friends were there to celebrate with me.


In 2004, another 100,000 miles seemed insurmountable.  Like climbing to a high peak, and seeing for the first time, the distant, even-higher mountain range.  Shades of Lewis & Clark!

Well... time marches on, and the miles keep rolling underneath me.

Yesterday, I hit 190,000 miles.  Now that tall range is much nearer to the view.  I should hit that peak sometime in 2022, based on current annual mileages.

(This may seem like a silly diversion to many.  And I'd still be riding, even if I didn't keep track.  However, I'd be lying if I said that "chasing those miles" wasn't a motivation for me.  Frosting on the cake.  I keep daily track in multiples of 5... you know 10 miles, 15 miles, 20, etc.  I put a checkmark next to 15, whether I ride 15.01 miles or 19.99 miles.  So if time isn't a factor, I'll almost always be motivated to hit the next higher number.  The Missus keeps things in perspective.  When I boast, "I've ridden 5000 miles this year!," her reply is "That's nice.")

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Ultimate SDV?

I'm really enjoying my choice of SDV (Social Distancing Vehicle) these days!

(For post-2020 readers, if there be any: As of April, 2020, the entire planet is under quarantine, in an effort to prevent spread of the Covid-19 virus. It is the first plague of the 21st Century... if you don't count terrorism or climate change, I s'pose. We are all advised to wash our hands frequently and try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people. PERFECT for bike riding... at least the distance part. (There's another recommendation that's plain DUMB... try to keep your group gatherings of less than 10. Futility! If each of those 10 people is a carrier walking away from that gathering, and meets with 9 other people, who in turn each meet with 9 other people... 1000 people infected in 3 "generations"!!) But I digress.)

Some people see cycling as a social activity. You see groups cycling together. To bring even more sense of togetherness, sometimes these groups ride together in matching costumes! (I wish they'd stay off multi-use paths, when they're riding together FAST in their costumes! They really belong on the street.) I've always been more of a "lone wolf" cyclist. Other than my grandkids, who I ride with from age 1 (when their momma will let them go) until they "age out" at 10 or 11 (WAY too cool to do something lame like bike-ride)... I go maybe 3 times a year, average, with other people. I generally enjoy my rides with others, but that means ORGANIZING... when solo, I can just go!

Today, I rode about 2 miles with granddaughter Bonnie at the park. (She's 7, and getting comfortable with starting and stopping. She's ready for expanded horizons.) Then I rode downstream on the Greenbelt, to the bridge a couple miles down from Glenwood. Except for a couple pockets of humanity (people who don't understand, and/or don't care, about airborne disease transmission), it was pretty darn easy to maintain that social distance.





"An Inconvenient Pandemic"

Talk about bad timing!

I just got my April Rolling Stone Magazine. It has St. Greta on the cover, and it's all about the Race To Save The Planet - NOW OR NEVER!

In the magazine publishing world, there are deadlines to go to the printer and such. And the April edition was obviously sent to the press before the "Corona Crisis," because there's not a word about it. Instead, it's chock-full of propaganda and society-shaming about "climate change." There's an interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a luminary of the "save the planet" movement, and co-author of "The Green New Deal." There's a scathing expose about Chase Bank, which is apparently financing Global Warming. There are photos of dead whales, forest fires, buckled streets... all just small snapshots of the disasters that await us if we don't do something now!

Here's a tidbit - a Call to Arms to RS readers, to "protest":
Earth Day Climate Strike
"For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, activist coalition Strike With Us is calling for workers and students to stage walkouts across the U.S., demanding action before it's too late."

Um... where are workers and students going to walk out of? In the Twilight Zone of April, 2020, workers and students are pretty much holed up at home, awaiting an end to Covid-19! Bad timing!

But, maybe it will give people more time for getting educated and thoughtful consideration about other matters, like Earth Day and climate change.

I'm not sure what the Rolling Stone demographic is, but it's obviously aimed at people who will easily become alarmed, and perhaps manipulated. People who will see a photo of a dead whale, and decide they can "walk out" for a day to change the climate... and then go back to business as usual.  (Which is pretty much the modus operandi of the Climate Change hand-wringers and pearl-clutchers.)

Here's some documented history... the very first Earth Day, staged on April 22, 1970, was a result of increasing alarm about the upcoming ICE AGE! More detailed info HERE.

Why is Earth Day on April 22? That date is Nikolai Lenin's birthday. It's also "the day of Bernadette Devlin's maiden speech before the House of Commons." I have to confess, if I ever knew about Bernadette Devlin, that knowledge has been forgotten. But Lenin's name still rings familiar. No wonder Alexandra is all about Earth Day! (And it suggests that Earth Day is as much about political philosophy, as it is about the environment.)

I actually feel some pity for young Greta, from Sweden. Here's a teenager, who, like lots of teenagers is concerned about the environment. (And, I admire her, because unlike MOST luminaries of the "environmental movement," she actually seems to walk the talk. Evidently after her 15 minutes of fame at the United Nations, she was concerned enough that she didn't want to fly home to Sweden, and instead took passage on a boat. How often does Al Gore, or John Kerry, or Leonardo DiCaprio, or Jane Fonda, refuse to take the plane?) But, poor Greta is being USED by the Climate Zealots.

Here's what really chaps me... they are all talk, no action! They are "demanding action before it's too late." What are THEY doing, besides laying down their demands? How does the quote "carbon footprint" unquote of Algore or Alexandria compare with that of Joe Lunchbox?

Please don't misunderstand. I would like to sincerely thank my fellow Earth Citizens who are trying to live a low-impact lifestyle. I don't know how much impact you, or any of us, are having on the climate... but regardless, it's good to make an effort to leave our home at least as nice as we found it. I'm confident that the climate is changing, because it has been changing for the entire history of the planet. I have NO IDEA how much our modern lifestyles are impacting the planet, but I know there are a BUNCH of factors that are probably having much more impact, that we have absolutely no control over! (I'm far more confident in our ability to harness the Covid-19 virus, than our ability to control the climate!!! And I'm not willing to go back to a caveman lifestyle, because it MIGHT cool the planet by 1 degree.)

As for "now or never," for 50 years we've been told that if we don't do something RIGHT NOW, in 10 years it will be too late! SHUT UP!

(I'm trying to do my part! If you want to compare "carbon footprints," get in touch with me and let's talk!)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mountain bike personalization '20

The whole civilized world is dealing with a virus outbreak right now.  The smart people are limiting unnecessary contact with other people, washing their hands, avoiding crowds, etc.  Then there are some who are apparently using their spare bedroom as a toilet paper repository.  (It's truly weird!  Toilet paper consumption is 1000x what it normally is!  If I'd known, I'd a-told my finance guy, "Put all my money in Charmin!")

One VERY nice thing... so far at least, bicycling is a good way to maintain that recommended social distance, while also maintaining a healthy outdoor lifestyle.  March has been a good month for me.  (Yesterday was a little dicey - I think everybody was on the Greenbelt!  Probably due to the nice weather.  It was jammed with walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, E-cyclists (you know, bike riding without the exercise), skaters.  And obviously lots of 'em got a little rusty over the winter.)

I've also recently applied some upgrades to my Cannondale mountain bike... equipping it for the kind of riding I do.

For one thing... I added a DROPPER SEATPOST.

Traditionally, a person installs a dropper if they need to lower their seat to negotiate particularly difficult or technical stretches of singletrack.  I did it to ease getting started!  My bike is so tall that the saddle hits me at about the waist, when I'm straddling it!  The dropper post (which is controlled by an onboard lever - like your office chair) can be lowered when I'm "parking."  Then when I'm taking off, I get to moving and raise the saddle back up to normal level.  (At some point it might also come in handy if I'm on some technical singletrack - time will tell.)


I also replaced the tires.

The bike came with some "almost fat" knobby tires - perfect for slow riding in loose dirt, etc.  But the fact is, I expect my riding (on that bike) will be a mix of brisk pavement riding, dirt-and-gravel road riding, and the occasional offroad "traditional mountain bike riding."

(But what, truly, is traditional mountain bike riding?  I'm guessing most mountain bikes are ridden more like what I'm anticipating - lots of pavement, some dirt.  I always smile to myself when I see guys lumbering along on FAT BIKES on the Greenbelt!  ALWAYS guys!  That's the opposite of an E-bike - "bike riding with TWICE the exercise!")

Another factor - I wasn't able to hook up my BOB trailer to the mountain bike - not enough clearance for those semi-fat tires.

So... I replaced the 2.35 inch tires with some 40mm tires.  That about 1.6 inches.  They are "knobby" tires, but with a fairly wide solid center ridge, which will allow for brisk pavement riding... or at least that's my line of thought.  Recommended pressure is 50-85PSI.  They should roll pretty nice at 85... and if I get to some gnarly trails, I can bleed some air, and they should be fairly adequate.  And - the trailer can be attached!  (They are Schwalbe "Land Cruiser Plus" tires, with a puncture-resistant belt.)  I hope to provide a review, after some miles and experience.  In the meantime, I'll try to survive the virus with my family, and accumulate those miles and experience.



Stay well, friends!

Friday, March 20, 2020

My new favorite "mail order" bike parts merchant

I always feel good about patronizing the good Local Bike Shops.  They are here for us... those that I deal with are consistently reasonably-priced, particularly with service fees.  If you need a part in a pinch, you can often find it the same day at a well-equipped LBS.  (I've also got to give a shout-out to Boise Bicycle Project.  They are a good source of knowledge, as well as binloads of good used parts that are still 100% functional at amazingly reasonable prices.)

However, as a guy who goes through a considerable number of tires, tubes, and other "consumables" (up to and including brake pads, chains, chainrings, cassettes, etc.), I'm always on the lookout for good prices as well as reliable shipping and delivery.

And - my new favorite parts supplier is not only out of town, it's out of country!  Maybe 5000 miles away!

Chain Reaction Cycles is across the pond - in Northern Ireland.  They have a fantastic inventory of stuff at very competitive prices.  I've ordered from them several times, and their service is really quite remarkable!

Most recently, I placed an order for two tyres (they sell tyres - but they substitute nicely for tires!) and three tubes.  I deliberately ordered a little over $60 of merchandise, which qualified me for free shipping.  The order was placed on March 16 (Monday).  I got an email from the shipper (DHL Express) on Tuesday... enroute, scheduled to arrive Thursday.  I got a follow-up email from DHL on Thursday morning, "Your delivery is today."  And by 10am, I was slicing through the packing tape on the box.  Sah-WEEEEEET!  (I've ordered from the two big state-side bike mail order companies - "N" and "P" - for years, and it typically takes a week to 10 days for the stuff to arrive.)

If you occasionally go to an out-of-town supplier, I'd suggest you put Chain Reaction on your "go to" list.  Remember: tyres = tires, spanner = wrench, etc.
(-;


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Group ride!

'Twas an almost-perfect day today, and I went on a somewhat rare ride with somebody else.  That "somebody" is somebody very special to me - my granddaughter Laurel.  Her momma and daddy won't allow their kids to go until they're a year old - Laurel turned 1 year in February, and we're off to the races!  (I get a LOT more smiles from other Greenbelt people, when I have one of the grandbabies along.  This is the third who has used this little up-front bike seat... their parents gifted it to me, many moons ago, and we've gotten lots of mileage out of it.)








Friday, February 28, 2020

I'm Saddle-Rich!!

In these times of financial volatility, I'd suggest you consider what I'm doing - INVEST IN BICYCLE SADDLES!

A few weeks back, I noticed that one of the screws on my Selle Anatomica saddle was missing. I rode on home... and upon closer inspection I discovered that I had broken another one! (D'oh!)


I've commented at length in the past, about my "Anatomica Experience," including HERE and HERE. In a nutshell, they are the most comfortable saddle I've ever sat on. And comfort is a major consideration when choosing a saddle... no? But unfortunately, at least for me, I've had negative results with their relative longevity. The models I have used are theoretically designed for riders weighing up to 250 pounds, and I'm often close to that threshold... I tend to tip the scales at 235-245 pounds, depending on time of year. (I'm at the high end of that range right now, since it's the end of "holiday eating season," and "ideal riding season" is not yet upon us.) I've probably broken five Anatomica frames in the ten years I've been riding on them. (If they last less than a year, they are covered by a no-questions-asked warranty. After a year, it costs about $50 for a replacement frame... send in your seat and they send it back, fixed.)

The current broken seat is an "H2" model... it's different from the older ones, because it's "modular" - it has screws instead of rivets, and a 3-piece frame. (As seen in photo, above.)  And, it was one of the cast frame pieces that broke - NOT the rails this time.  I chose that one because I expected to have to fix it eventually, and figured it would be less expensive.

I sent a message to the Anatomica people.

While I was waiting for a reply, I decided to check out the alternatives... and ended up deciding to try a seat I hadn't tried before - a BROOKS FLYER. I found one for a very attractive price, on the "Amazon UK Global Store." I have a BROOKS IMPERIAL on one of my bikes, and I've been pretty happy with it. It's almost, but not quite, as comfortable as the Anatomica. The "Flyer" has springs! And... if you register it, they promised to extend the 2-year warranty to 10 years! What's not to love! I ordered one... with about a 2-week delivery window, since it's coming across the pond.

Meanwhile... Anatomica replied. The nice customer service gal told me they'd send me the replacement frame piece for $20, and also made me an irresistible offer on a "B-Stock" new saddle - supposedly with minor cosmetic flaws, but nothing affecting ride quality or warranty. I said, "Send me one of each!"

So - I got the Anatomica shipment a couple weeks ago. Fixed the broken saddle in 15 minutes using common household tools. Was very happy with the "B-Stock" new one... immediately installed it on my "main rider." (I figure I should use it while the warranty is in effect. And supposedly they are using an upgraded CR-MO in their construction now, to make them stronger. We shall see.)

Here's the new Anatomica. Pretty sweet. And just as comfortable as expected, right out of the box.


Well... yesterday the new Brooks arrived. And it's pretty sweet, too!



So - now I've got two fully-functional SPARE sweet saddles on the shelf, waiting for their turn.

I think I'll just have to try out this "sprung" Brooks Flyer. (Brooks saddles have a reputation for needing a couple hundred miles of break-in, before they achieve cosmic comfort. So I expect that... but I'm also anxious to see how the springs affect both comfort and rideability.)