Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pac Burley

Well! The PacBurley is nearly complete and ready for Halloween. All it needs now is a few folks dressed in costumes to parade it around on Halloween night.

The designer in me knew that we needed to take it for a test run before Halloween arrived. The plan is to join the regular Monday night social ride and do the short loop before returning into town to begin trick-or-treating. That means that the rig will have to hold up for at least 15 miles or so. To test it, we rode out on a new road to a little park called Lick Creek park.

The park is a wonderful little surprise, despite the ugly brochure, just 8.5 miles from our house, making it a perfect Burley pulling distance. The main trail is a well packed gravel type with a number of side trails that are more single-track style. It seemed everyone around brought their dogs to walk/run. Probably because if you walk/ride in College Station you wind up getting hit by things like motorcycles.

Most importantly, our burley contraption worked! The Pac-Man rubs a bit against the wheel, but we realized that if we just cut it a bit, he'll be juuust fine. We even found some battery powered Christmas lights to string up along the back. They looked Awesome as we rode home in the sunset.

So now it only has to survive one more voyage! We're not sure whether it will stay on afterwards or not... it might be hard to part with. My guess though is that by the end of Halloween night it will be dangling by a few strands of twine and some tape, begging to be put out of its misery.

Still no rear wheel for my road bike...........

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cleat Defeat

The last few rides have presented me with the most unpleasant experience of unexpectedly becoming unclipped from my pedals. This was generally happening on steep climbs or during a hard interval. Neither time being convenient and at least once resulting in a tipping over. So I finally bit the $9 bullet and bought a new set of cleats. The local bike shop actually had them cheaper than anywhere online. Bike things are rarely that great of a deal online these days, just fyi. Not that there needs to be another reason to support your local bike shop, but... there is a pretty good one!

The task of replacing cleats is generally extremely simple. Unscrew two screws, replace parts. Easy.

These cleats however have apparently been in my shoes, which have been ridden forever, for quite a while. So upon taking out the first screw. The screw stuck to my multitool. Crap.

The second screw wouldn't budge. It instead stripped out the head into a circle shape. Well this is a conundrum. Now how do I get it out!? So after e-mailing out to the local mt bike club for suggestions, one came back of using a dremel to make a straight line so that a flathead screwdriver would fit. After a few rounds with the dremel, I finally got it to work. Finally, at 4:46pm, 15minutes before I needed to leave for the group ride! Yesss!!!

Riding was great. I did a fast lap with one of the guys, Mike, and then joined up with the group ride at 6:15 until it was dark. Good, clean ride.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Spirit of Adventure

Planned ride for today:

60 mile fast group ride.

Reality: Broken road wheel. No go.

New Plan:

Take a family ride at the Somerville Lake trails.

Reality: We ready ourselves, a little cooler of lunch goods, the diaper bag, our bikes. Great! We're off.
5 minutes down the road me: "honey, we don't have the multi-tool..."
Jared: "ooooh, we better go get it."
So we do. Good. Whew.
Per usual on our family rides, we stop to get donuts beforehand. We don't "looove" donuts or anything, we just like kind of trashy, cheap places with interesting people. So places like "Donut Palace" out in Skook Texas makes for a delicious 3 person $2.15 breakfast. I mean, REALLY, where else can you get breakfast for a price like that? Benjamin thanked the donut princess (it was a donut palace... and she didn't look quite old enough to be a Queen... perhaps she was just a palace chef...?) about a dozen times which made her just about pee her pants with happiness and we continued on.

We made it to the lake and as usual at state parks there is an entrance gate of sorts where you have to park and purchase a day pass. Upon getting out of the car, we see a mom, dad and child (8 or so? 9?) on bikes. So I ask them if they knew if we had to pay to get in and where the trails started.
The mom says "yep, you get a pass in that building, the trails start down thattaway."

So we go inside, the family following behind us, a group of boyscouts in front of us. As we wait, the mom says "We have a season pass, you should let us get you in." So we did, and as the cashier drills her on how many of us there are, how many vehicles, the colors, our ancestry, rate of inflation on a cup of coffee if it originally cost $.75 in 2001 and today costs $1.13......... Okay, those last few were a lie, but she asked a lot of questions. Then proceeded to charge the mom $28. We asked her how much we owed her for our portion and she refused. Nice! We ask where we should park and the mom points us to either the visitor lot, or to their campsite which was right at a trailhead. So we go for the campsite.

Their son's bike had gotten a flat on the way back to the campsite, and the LEAST we could do was offer up our bike pump.

So we load up and carry on, but the trail was mostly just sandy, mowed grass. Too much work for Jared who keeps spinning his rear tire out and barely any work for me. So we scratch this riding plan too.

New new plan:

Ride on the road until we find another road to ride on and ride on it until we feel enough time has passed. WHAT CAN GO WRONG!??!

Reality: We cruise along some delightful roads, windy and slight rolling hills. Rolled past ranches, oil rigs, dogs chasing us. A wonderful time.

Me: "hmm, I think my cleat on my shoe has come loose or something...feels weird..."
Jared: "uh oh"

**~90 seconds later...


My lady business is on my top tube, my elbows are cocked backwards as my chin is just about resting on my stem. My toes are dragging along the ground in some attempt to both maintain my balance and stop me. Now I know what kids on those Strider bikes feel like!!!

Jared looks back as this MUST have sounded and looked AWFULLY confusing. //really i was just trying a new, more aero position...//

It would appear that a very important bolt had been wiggling itself loose.

All I know is that these became my new brakes:

They aren't the Avid BB7s I'm used to on the El Mar but amazingly, they did the trick!

Good thing we went back for that multi-tool...

All better-ish! Good enough to get us back anyway. FIRST things first, some lunch.

Now, usually when we get back from adventure around a park, we let Ben play at a playground, load up and head home. Today however, those nice nice people from the beginning of the story were at their campsite. Their son had received another flat tire so they gave up for the afternoon and in the meantime had unloaded Literally as much food as we probably have in our house. And it was all Great. I mean.... those fancy Terra chips, Kettle chips, a Huge sack of "organic" oranges (whatever organic means these days), sandwich materials, grape tomatoes, jugs of water and iced tea, and on and on and on. That wasn't just it, they also had 2 fans plugged in and going for under their shade tent thinger, an iPod speaker music playing contraption, and a Suburban filled with other mystical, entertaining things. They had this camping business down. And and and they offered every morsel of it up to us in that fashion that was almost awkward seeing how we had Nothing to give in return. Nothing. Would you like a smelly sock that has been roaming around in the back of our car for 4 months? And we sat and chatted with them at their loaded picnic table for the next 4 hours about little tidbits of nothing, museums, camping adventures, raccoons, food, etc..

The hospitality of these folks was ...unheard of. We arrived as complete strangers and left being treated as if we had been their life-long, loyal friends.

We drove home in the late afternoon, after a week from hell, reminded that there is good in the world. That was better than any ride either of us could have possibly planned.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Motorcycle Mayhem

I had just finished one of my faaavorite interval workouts. Remember... training for Breckenridge is targeting my weaknesses, hills and endurance. This workout is neither of those! Awesome!

15 minutes - warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery

I then proceeded to complete a second loop just because it was gorgeous out and I needed another 40 minutes.
As I was cruising home in a delightful bikelane, it occured to me that a motorcycle who was all of a sudden riding up beside me, TAKES A RIGHT HAND TURN and takes me out.

Note me, the blue arrows, in my straight and clear bike lane. Note motorcycle's path...

Now, I am very level headed and calm such situations. But this time it appears being run into by a motorcycle cluttered my mind as I was absolutely dumbfounded as the guy asks me
"DO YOU HEAR THAT BEEPING? That is my blinker signaling that I'm about to turn."
To which I responded: "Yeah, I heard your blinking, and a: I didn't know what the hell it was and b: didn't know Which way you were turning and c: IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY!"
Except that the dumbfoundedness of his question left me without clear enough mind to add part "c"

Anyway, now I need to get to a bike store and get my wheel fixed...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Night MTB

Every Tuesday is a group ride out at Lake Bryan. The sun is starting to go down sooner and sooner and this is more than heartbreaking. Someday when I get a big-kid job, I will invest in some lights. Until then we may just have to find a new time to ride!

To make group riding a possibility, Jared and I take turns. This week it was his turn to go ride from 5:30-6:15 solo and my turn to take the rest of the daylight with the group. The person not riding gets to throw rocks into the lake with Ben or take him for a walk or do whatever else it is you do with a 2yr old out in nature. All the while Ben is just wishing his girlfriend, Dora were along for the sunset as mom's backpack is not nearly as awesome.

It is a fairly enjoyable time, there are nice views such as this one:

Tonight, not many new riders showed up so it was a much quicker pace. This is a relief as according to my chore list, Tuesday and Thursdays are supposed to be hard rides. In doing it faster, I nailed 2 sections that I had previously had to put a foot or two down to get over. Exciting. There is now only ONE spot, one goddamn rooty climb in the whole 20mile trail system that I have yet to clear. I think there is a small part of me that doesn't want to clear it. It gives me something to come back for, a challenge to conquer. I feel a bit like once I clear it all, then all that is left is to ride it faster and faster each time. I suppose that is Okay.

Do: try to clear at least 1 new thing each ride.
Do not: forget chamios buttr.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Group

As "winter" presses closer, so do shorter days. I put that word in quotes because now that we are in Texas we are convinced that we will not actually experience "winter" as we know it. Though down here they swear it gets rough. Dear Texans, I have looked through your photo albums and notice you are in short sleeve shirts at Christmas and the sun is shining. That is NOT winter. Winter is snowy and lurking with gray skies and cold so cold that you look like THIS after a ride:

Anyway, the Monday night group ride takes off at 6pm and is ~70 minutes long. This is mostly due to the casual, social pace of the ride. We LOVE it because it is the perfect pace to be able to pull the Burley and still keep up. We always do our best to reward Ben at the end of each ride with a stop at the park. Since the sun sets at 7:15 and the ride goes until 7:15 or so, we were sure to add an excessive amount of lights to our rides for the way home. Ben especially likes this as the blinking fascinates him. We are fairly certain he will be a tripped out hippie by the age of ...7.

Especially if he keeps attempting to fix cowbells with screwdrivers.