Friday, May 04, 2012

Public or Private?

A few days ago, I was out riding one of my usual road-mixed-with-gravel rides and saw across a valley some logging roads I haven't seen before. Since I am always looking for new routes near home, particularly new routes that involve leaving the pavement behind, if even for a short while, I was intrigued.

Only, there was a small problem... these logging roads were at the end of what looked like a private road.

Here in Oregon we have quite a mix of public and private lands. Some are OK to ride on while others are definitely not. I break them down into four groups: Private-Private, Private-Public, Public-Private, and Public-Public.

These are the lands owned by private land owners and are closed to the public. These are the lands where you are likely to be confronted by a hostile land owner. Often, you stumble on these lands--you don't go there on purpose. If you are going to be prosecuted as a trespasser, it'll be on these lands.

Again, as above, this is land held by private parties. Unlike the above, however, they are generally open to recreation as long as it doesn't interfere with their own use of their land. Mostly, these are small woodland land owners. They own a few thousand acres and are often family operations. Riding here is generally not a problem on weekends or after hours, but a cyclist might need caution during business hours due to active logging.

This is land held by public companies. In Oregon, it is mostly Weyerhaeuser, but there are smaller companies, too. They bar access to their lands, but log in National and State forests. I ride these lands without issue. I lift my bike over the gate and go. I've never run trouble here.

This is the best scenario. Here the companies that own the land open the land up to recreation. This is where you will find ATV and motorcycle trails and the land owners will allow trail building. The only downside here is that the company could decide to log the area that contains the trail, obliterating the trail in the process. Often, these are the same companies as Public-Private, the only difference is their policy on this particular plot of land.

Back to the problem at hand...

The logging roads I saw that were up above private residences: where they Private-Private (and therefore off limits) or where they Private-Public? I'd hate to assume that they were the former and miss out on some new riding.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pick a Road, Any Road

As I may have mentioned before, I own a motorcycle. And, while I do not ride it as often as I would like to, I like the ability to explore on it. The motorcycle is a V-Strom 650, and while it is not the fastest, the most capable, or even best looking motorcycle out there, it is incredibly versatile. It's this versatility that drew me to that particular motorcycle in the first place, it can go nearly anywhere.

My current most-often-ridden bicycle is the Fargo I built up last summer. Like my V-Strom, it is the Fargo's versatility that drew me in. I can roll on skinny 700c road tires, or I can throw on some 29x2.3's and ride on nearly any trail, albeit slower than on my full suspension mountain bike.

Where am I going with this?


This year, while following the coverage of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show from the comfort of the internet, I was struck by the pictures upon pictures of... well... practical road bikes.

I'm sure that Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bikes is saying a lot of I-told-you-so's. You see, Grant has been selling well built bikes for a number of years that are comfortable to ride, while not being the most flashy, or lightest weight. His bikes fit wider tires, have higher handlebars, and are made of steel to smooth out the ride.

Many of the bikes at NAHBS were road bikes by design, but featured clearance for wider tires, some had more upright riding positions, and most, were made of steel. Though Grant would frown upon the included disc brakes.

So, why do I care? And, more importantly, should YOU care?

I think so. This type of bike is easier to ride long distances without the pot-holed roads beating you up or puncturing your tires. If/when the road turns to gravel, you won't feel the need to turn back. In fact, you might go looking for gravel roads.

For example, in the map below, highway 47 (red) is a busy 2-lane highway. But Evers is a rarely used gravel road (blue). Both lead to similar areas, but I prefer to ride Evers.

Because there is so much tire clearance on the Fargo, I am usually riding on the Continental Travel Contacts. They roll reasonably well on the pavement, are quiet and wear like iron. Also, they allow me to take the occasional trail that might present itself...

Really, it's all about options.

Now, to be totally fair, these bikes aren't as fast as their race-bred counterparts. At one time, this might have bothered me. Sadly--happily?--this is no longer the case. While I have never been fast, at one point I could hold my own with the local group rides. No longer is that really the case. So when I ride, I tend to explore--much like I do when I'm on the motorcycle. I am more interested in the pleasure of being on the bike, than getting from point A to point B as fast as possible. This has led to both more adventuresome rides and more diverse terrain.

Back to the point: bikes like those sold by Rivendell, many of the ones shown at NAHBS, and my Fargo allow the ride to ride any road, anywhere, anytime. Even if that "road" might degenerate to single track.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bonus Days

One of the things about being back in school is that there is very little time to ride. I spend most of my free time looking at eyes, reading about eyes, and memorizing facts about eyes and the drugs we can use to the various diseases that eyes can get.

While I do like what I am studying--I better!--I do miss being able to take a ride whenever I want to.

This has been a strange winter for Oregon. For one thing it has been fairly dry. For another, we've seen the sun. For me, though, seeing the sun happens when I look out the window. When I have had free time, it has been raining. My time and the weather just can't seem to coincide.

Until yesterday.

I came out of class and saw this:

Sure it was chilly, but the sky was so blue! And there were no clouds! And I had nothing pressing to do! Tests are about to start coming at a furious pace, but right now, I had some time.

It was truly that rarest of beasts, a Bonus Day. A day when everything lines up just right to enable a ride. Outside, no less.

So, I walked briskly home, pulled my bike off the trainer--with a smile--and, after swapping the wheels to something road worthy, went for a ride.

The roads were clear of traffic. In fact, it was as good of a road ride as I've had in a very long time.

Even better, the Fargo performed like a champ. Not a single miss shift or squealing brake the entire ride.

The ride wasn't very fast, but it was perfect.

A true Bonus Day.

As an aside, I've been riding on Continental Travel Contacts whenever I spend time on pavement these days. Frankly, I love this tire. I reviewed a set a number of years ago and ever since it has been my go-to tire for mixed pavement and gravel riding. They wear like iron and I haven't had a flat on them ever, despite pulling glass and debris out of them from time to time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Is This Thing On?

Holy Cow, time has flown. I follow the rss feed of this blog, even though it is my own, since Jon also writes (wrote?) here, and the lack of updates has been nagging me.

For quite some time I've been meaning to write and have had ideas swirling around the ol' noggin. But, as optometry school has taken over my life--quite literally--so many things have fallen by the wayside.

However, as the year is rapidly coming to a close, I thought I'd catch up. So, pull up a chair, grab a beverage of your choice, and let's wrap up the going's on.

Because I need continuing education credits each year, I loaded the family into the mini-minivan and drove out to Optometry's Meeting in Salt Lake City in June. And just as one cannot simply walk in Mordor, one cannot go to Utah and not go to Moab!

So, Jon and I went to Moab.

It was hotter than expected, but despite the near heat stroke, we had a fantastic time.

In late July, I finally got around to replacing my trusty Cannondale cross bike, with something more... capable. (The Cannondale cross frame is for sale, in case you are looking for a disc only cross frame)

The Fargo is the perfect do-all bike. It can handle any cross country singletrack, albeit at a slower pace than my Rush. The steel frame is wonderfully smooth, and the big tires will roll over anything and can be run at ridiculously low pressures. Due to budget constraints (that whole student thing, again) I'm running tubes, but the Stan's rims are set up for tubeless.

Other than that, the rest of the year has been largely bicycle free. Sadly. I've been riding local trails, but only when time permits.

A bike like the Fargo, though, stirs the imagination and has me thinking about some multi-day bike packing trips. This thing has more water bottle bosses than I thought possible. All it needs is a small rack fore and aft, I could head off into the hills.

I have learned why I like the bluer LED lights compared to the yellower halogens of a few years ago (better color rendering). And, if any light manufacturers still read this blog, there are some frequencies that you can flash a light which will make it appear brighter than it is. Useful for tail lights.

All in all, it's been a great year, and I look forward to seeing what 2012 brings, if the world hasn't ended. But hey, on the bright side, if the world does end, I have the best bike for it, and I won't have to pay back my student loans, right?

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Friday Afternoon Ride

After riding on the rollers inside so often, I was beginning to think the only reason to ride a bike was for a chance to watch another re-run of 24. The first few minutes on a road bike after training only indoors for months is quite exhilarating. It's incredible how light and nimble my bike felt. I felt like a rocket with my legs wanting to surge underneath me. Of course, by the end of my 21-mile ride my legs didn't feel that way. (Felt more like 30, actually.) In fact, I actually found myself checking the rear wheel to see if it had slipped in the drops and was rubbing the brakes. Odd that it wasn't.

Also odd: While riding, I came across some construction. That's not the odd part. After passing through many detours and roughly patched areas, I came upon a sign that read, "rough road ahead." "Huh," I thought, "haven't all the roads I've been on today been pretty rought?" Yes. They all were. But I found out what they really meant by "rough road" was gravel. I've been riding road tubeless, though, so it really didn't bother me.

Still, I'm thinking if I'm going to continue to live and ride around here (I am) and if Utah is going to continue to be in a perpetual state of construction (apparently, they are), I think I'm going to opt for wider tires next go around. 25c at least. Maybe 28c? That might be pushing it, but something wider than 23c.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Birthday Ride

Today is my birthday, and I'm getting old. Naturally, I set out to prove to mother nature that gravity hasn't won yet! I got out and rode at lunch today.

There was some mud on the lower slopes of the ride, but it turn to snow-only as we climbed higher. By and large, the conditions were super nice for this time of year.

I forget just how difficult it is to ride in the snow, though. It takes much more energy (like sand would), but it also takes more coordination and just paying attention to your bike. I believe it really exaggerates any poor handling habits you've lived with over the years (I have many). When you start out on the dirt from being stopped, for instance, you don't really care that your bike isn't exactly perpendicular to gravity. When you start in the snow, if your bike is leaning at all, you're likely to wash out before you get your second foot on the pedal. I also find that going fast (and turning as large a gear as you can muster) helps to keep you from wallowing in the snow and sinking. (Don't forget to lower the pressure in your tires, as well.) Overall, I believe it takes a lot more upper-body finesse to keep things upright. It was quite a workout (which has nothing to do with all the over-eating I've been doing lately--in case you're wondering).

Here are some photos (courtesy of Ricky and his mobile phone):

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Magicshine, The Recall

Magicshine has, for some time now, been known as the king of inexpensive lighting. Being a knock-off light, there is more than one way to get them: direct for the far east or via the local distributor. When we first posted about the Magicshine 900 there was some discussion about whether to order from Deal Extreme or from the U.S. distributor, We recommended the latter. Why? In case something went awry.

Well, it seems that something has indeed gone awry with the batteries. And Geoman is stepping up to the plate. From his website:

Geomangear temporarily has stopped selling Magicshine lightsets due to our concerns regarding the safety, quality, and performance of Magicshine's lithium-ion battery packs sold by Geomangear between July 2009 and November 2010.  We have determined that these Magicshine battery packs do not meet Geomangear's high expectations regarding product safety, quality, and performance.  We have notified both the manufacturer of Magicshine lightsets and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission that Geomangear intends to voluntarily recall all Magicshine battery packs sold by Geomangear.
A couple of things to note. First, this is a voluntary recall. Second, Geoman has sold quite a lot of these lights, I suspect, so have some patience in working with them to get your lights back into good working order again.

Kudos to Geoman for stepping up and tackling the problem head on. See for the full recall notice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Fun Than I Could Handle

When my wife approached me about camping with her folks at Clear Lake--which is near the beginning of the McKenzie River Trail (MRT)--it didn't take a whole lot of convincing. I believe that the conversation went something like this...

Wife: My parents would like to camp along the McKenzie river and would like us to join them.
Me: Do they mind if I bring my bike?
Wife: Nope.
Me: leaves to go pack and make sure lights are charged.

It was like a dream come true. All the riding I could handle... and some I couldn't.

Clear Lake is such a nice spot. The trail around the lake is 5 miles. The water is very clear (hence the name) and very cold. 34 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year. Since our camping coincided with hot temperatures, the cold lake was refreshing to wade in.

On the first day, after getting camp set up, I rode around the like twice. Once clockwise and then counterclockwise. It is much easier clockwise. There are some nasty rock sections that are much easier to descend that to climb.

Like this one:
I had plenty of time to take this picture, since I ended up walking this section.

The next day, I decided to the MRT proper. I left from camp with the plan to ride down the trail to Trail Bridge Reservoir and then turn around and retrace my route back up. I could have continued, but after Trail Bridge, the trail turns more mundane and I was interested in riding the technical bits both directions. The last time I rode up the MRT I was training for riding the North Umpqua Trail in a single day. Fitting, I suppose, that I have plans to ride the North Umpqua Trail in a few weeks--but taking two days, this time.

The ride started as planned, albeit a tad later in the day. The weather was warm, but not too hot. I had a full 70oz hydration bladder on my back and a bunch of energy gels. I felt on top of the world.

My first stop was Sahalie Falls. If you've ridden the MRT, you've stopped to look at the falls. They are beautiful.

As I continued on, my next stop was the Blue Pool. Such a... blue... pool.

By now, the day began to be hot and I realized that I had not been drinking nearly enough nor eating enough. I was starting to feel the ride.

I usually don't ride alone, and after this ride, I realized that when one rides alone, one does not stop as much as when one is riding with a group.

I downed some water and an energy gel and pushed on. I wasn't far from my turn-around point (2 miles) so I didn't want to stop long here. Shortly after the blue pool, the trail gets technical. This is what I was on the trail for. It was awesome, but really took its toll on me.

I was feeling the bonk coming on.

I continued to my turn-around point and turned around. By the time I got back to the technical section near the blue pool I was feeling wasted.

I sucked down even more water and energy gels--as many as I could stand. I knew that it wasn't going to help. I had ignored the warning signs; I had let my energy deficit get too large. There was no recovering while I was on the trail. For the next hour and a half, I had to slowly ride--sometimes push--my bike back toward camp. My legs began to cramp about 2 miles from camp--just below Sahalie Falls. I was in a world of hurt and the only way out was to continue slogging up the trail.

I ended up making it back. I didn't--but I thought about--hitch a ride the last mile to camp, though I did bail out onto the road after crossing back over the river upstream from Sahalie Falls.

What should have been a simple out and back turned into a death march. Next time, I'll drink more and eat more--sooner and more often. I'll have to plan for the hotter weather better, I'm too used to riding in the cooler temperatures that, until fairly recently, have been the norm.

I am happy to report that I recovered enough to do a night ride around Clear Lake before we broke camp and headed home. What a long weekend that was. Very fun, and very frustrating at the same time.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Exploration, Part 2

A quick recap... I went exploring on the road bike, ended up on STEEP gravel hills. Clearly, the wrong bike.

I decided that what I needed to do was head out again, but this time armed with the 'cross bike.

It seems like a yearly ritual. Every summer, I get to shed the fenders from my 'cross bike, making it look like a lean machine, rather than a sedate commuter bike. This summer's de-fenderization coincided with this exploration, making a follow-up ride to last weeks road-bike-on-gravel-roads jaunt doubly sweet.

I started by heading back up the hill that caused me so much pain before. From the other side, the climb isn't nearly as bad. Before dropping down onto the closed road, I took a look at the hillside surrounding me. Some of it had been clear cut. While an eye-sore, this time it was just what I was looking for. You see, they had to get the logs out, which meant gravel roads... and lots of them.

Sure enough, after a brief stint on asphalt, I found my road.

As is typical around here, it went up.

And up.

And it was steep. often surpassing 20%. But, that was why I was on the 'cross bike, after all. So I climbed. Whenever the road branched, I chose to go up. All of my effort was not in vain. Once I reached the top of the ridge, I was rewarded with views of Mt. Hood, Mt Saint Helens, and Mt. Ranier at once. Pictures do not do the view justice. Especially pictures taken with my phone. But, since it was all I had at the time...

(Hood is to the far right, Ranier is to the far left and Saint Helens is a little in on the left.)

Now, I just need to find some local singletrack.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Exploration, Part 1

Now that school has wrapped up for the summer and my family and I are now--mostly--settled in our new home, I figured it was time to go explore the surrounding area for some riding.

Having heard that this was a road cyclist's area, I headed out on the road bike to look for some interesting routes. Last Friday, I went out on a local loop and wanted to mix it up a bit. Armed with the GPS, I started the loop as normal, but one point I decided to deviate. Looking at the screen, I saw that the road I was on hooked up with one of the few roads in the area I knew: a two lane highway that connects Forest Grove to main road to the coast.

The climb was a bit of a doozy, but not an issue. Once on the highway, I was flying. I had a tailwind, the road was smooth, and sun was out. I tell you, life was good.

However, the highway back to town was closed.

Huh. Well, I thought, it takes quite a bit of construction to make a road closed to a bicycle. So, I pressed on. It turns out that there was no road to ride on at all. It was dug down to the road's foundation, about 10ft below the road surface. That's the type of closure that would stop a bicycle. Now I was left with a choice. Do I retrace my path, or do I take a road to the left that looks go up and around the closed section? On the GPS, this side road is shown as a dotted line, but where I was standing, it looks good.

I decide to take it, but it wasn't 500ft before I see a sign like this one:

That's not good. Not only did the pavement end--I'm on my road bike, mind you--it got steep. At its steepest, the grade was over 20% and none of it was under 10%. Because of the gravel, I couldn't stand but had to remain seated, s-l-o-w-l-y turning over the cranks.

I made it up--with much cursing aimed at my standard road gearing and my recent loss of fitness--and, thankfully, the remainder of the ride was downhill to my house.

But, that was my first taste of gravel since moving and I needed to find more. Next time, though, I'm not taking the road bike. Wheels were turning in my head... on the highway, I passed areas that had been logged recently. It was time to break out the 'cross bike. It was time to search for some local off-pavement routes.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Never Quit

The weather was exceptional on Monday. Even when the sun went down I still found it delightfully warm. All day long I wanted to ride, and here I was, sitting on my bed at 10:30pm, wondering if I should suit up, put lights on my bike, and head to the hills. Finally, my desire to ride got the best of me. I got dressed and went outside to get my lights sorted.

After digging around for quite some time in the dim light of my garage, I found both the light head and the clamp to get it on the bar. 15 minutes later, I managed to scrounge up enough small rubber shims to actually give the light a solid fit on my handlebar.

Then I realized I needed to head back in to fill my water bottle.

Back outside, I realize my rear tire is sitting at around 6 PSI. I pump it up and shoe-horn my Jekyll into the back of my Cruiser. As I heft it, I think, not for the last time, that I wish I was on my old F4000—it is so much lighter. (However, for some reason, that bike has enjoyed a nice run of ripping valve stems off the front-wheel inner-tubes lately, so I’m back on the Jekyll. (No tubes = no torn valve stems!))

I climb in the Cruiser and realize I don’t have the right keys. Back inside to get the right keys.

By the time I get to the trailhead, it’s around 11:30pm.

My ride begins normal enough. Sure, I’m looking over my shoulder every few seconds to see if I’m about to be attacked by a Mountain Lion, but that’s fairly normal when I’m out riding at night alone. Actually, though my bike was riding well and the air was cool.

There’s a section of trail at the beginning of Dragon’s Back that’s fairly challenging. It isn’t that I can’t clean it, it’s just that sometimes I don’t, and I always have to give it my full attention. Perhaps I didn’t give it my full attention last night because part of my attention in a night ride is always devoted to watching for Cougars.

Part-way up this short section, I lose my momentum on a large, loose rock and put my foot down. My right foot. Only it slips (it’s steep there) and I find myself in the bushes next to the trail. That’s fine, I get up, clip in, and start up. Only it happens again and I tip the other direction. I fall to my left.

My left foot doesn’t leave the pedal (Egg Beaters) for some strange reason and so I catch myself with my hip on the rocky trail. Ouch. The pain is very brief and quickly gives way to frustration. I now decide a do-over is in order. Back down the trail, turn around and…

Let me check that cleat on my left shoe. Everything Tight? Yep. Both bolts are in there? Yes. Okay, weird.

Back up the trail. This time, I’m going faster and I’m full of a little more angst. I hit a rock, my rear tire slips out and I fall to my left again. Ouch, again. I’m lying there in the trail and my shoe refuses to detach itself from the pedal. Huh.

Evidently, tonight is not the night to ride Dragon’s Back.

That’s fine, I have loads of trails at my disposal, and there are plenty more available from this very spot. I’m off down the gravel road towards a sweet bit of single-track that used to be the location for a weekly evening race. As I flow through the twisty single-track, I’m not really watching the trail any more than I have to. I’m trying to see if I can pop my left foot out of the pedal. I mean, my right foot comes out with ease. Can’t get it out. Period. It’s stuck.

Another tight corner and I’m at the cross-roads. I can climb up to the fire road above (and another network of trails), or I can loop around and start the race track again. In lieu of either, I decide to sit down at the crossroads and trouble-shoot my shoe.

I’m amazed that my shoe came off the pedal before my ankle broke. I wasn’t sure for a minute there. I sit down in the dark, turn over my shoe and …

No cleat. None. Wha…?

Okay, so, it must have popped off or something. I start digging through the late-Spring growth on either side of the singletrack and I can’t find it. Of course, it’s after midnight, and even with my bike lights, there may be no way for me to find it. I happen to glance down at my bike and there it is.

Still attached to the pedal. I examine the shoe again, no broken sole (which is remarkable considering how old they are). The bolts, still in the cleat, also look fine. Strange.

So, with the bolts trapped in the cleat attached to the pedal, and no way for me to get it unstuck, I pack it up and coast down the mountain to head for home.

Remaining questions:
1) How did the cleat come off my shoe?
2) Why was the Egg Beater so tenacious in holding on to the cleat?
3) How could a cleat that was so solid suddenly detach itself from the shoe like that?
4) Does the fact that my shoe escaped unscathed mean I can’t yet justify another pair?

Photographic evidence:

Here it is, attached to my cheapo Egg Beater.

And, another shot for good measure.

Here is a piece of grass stuck to my rear derailleur.

And here's my bike leaning against my cruiser.

I think these photos speak for themselves.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I remember Bontrager parts back when Keith Bontrager started making them. It was very cool stuff. Once Bontrager was purchased by the Great Trek Bicycle-making Conglomerate, I kind of lost track of them. At that point, they became run-of-the-mill house-brand OEM parts to me. Sure I knew there was nothing wrong with them, but I never saw anything interesting, either.

Maybe my impression of the parts was accurate at the time. I'm not sure it is now.

A few riding buddies of mine ride various bikes made by the Trek congomerate. I noticed they always had nice-looking Bontrager components. I figured the "XXX-Lite" line was probably pretty nice, but again, I wasn't excited about it.

Am I the only one who has largely ignored this parts-company-within-Trek?

Then, the other day, I was wondering how Ricky's road bike could be so light. After all, he was only running house-brand Bontrager XXX-Lite wheels with other matching Bontrager parts.

So I did a little research and found their stuff is really light. I mean, crazy light. Now granted, light doesn't always mean good, but consider this: The people I know whose bikes came with Bontrager parts haven't replaced them. And I know some fairly bike-abusive people.

They also look to have some nice road tires coming out. The R4 Road tire utilizes 220 tpi casing and weighs a paltry 165g for the 700x23c version. They also have an interesting sidewall design that fits around the bead of the rim for a more seamless sidewall/rim interface--supposedly great for improving aerodynamics.

For wheelsets, they have an impressive array of carbon-rimmed clinchers--though, they aren't priced like house-brand wheels. They even have carbon clincher mountain wheels (26 and 29-inch varieties).

I admittedly have very little experience with Bontrager parts, but I'm definitely going to do some investigation the next time I'm buying.

Go check them out at and let me know of your experiences/impressions/feelings about Bontrager.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Well, the time as come to bid adieu to the Mid-Willamette valley. I'm exchanging:

in order to attend Optometry school this fall. This means that I'm picking up my family and relocating a bit to the north. Given the volatility of the housing market, we put ours up for sale early and--amazingly, to me--it sold withing a few days. So, we're moving sooner than expected, and before I'm done with school at OSU.

But that's not the sad part. The sad part is that I'm leaving behind fantastic riding--both road and mountain--that starts right from my door. I'm leaving behind my core riding group, the guys that I spend my nights with evaluating lights and tearing up the trails after everyone else is in bed asleep.

I'm leaving behind trails like this:

And this:

And gravel roads like this--ideal for winter riding:

While I won't stop riding--day or night--I'm pretty sure that I won't have trails as good or, more importantly, as close. I'll actually have to--GASP--drive to the trail head. I hope I can manage.

It's been great living here and now I look forward to the next part of the adventure.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Against All Odds

Mother Nature doesn't like me. And she has powerful friends.

The weather has been nice, but I haven't been able to secure any daylight hours for a ride. Finally, fed up with my lack of bike-time, I got out my rollers so I could at least pretend like I was riding. Of course, with my children a) in bed and ii) taking up all the bedrooms in the house, I was left with the garage as my only option. It's been a while since I've set up my rollers in the garage. A few things have happened since then.

The largest of which was replacing my little Mazda Protege with a Toyota Land Cruiser. Now there is less room than there was. We also have a second fridge wedged in there. There happens to be just enough room between the imposing bulk of the cruiser and a structural pole.

Once I found a place for my rollers, I needed to find a place for my laptop computer so I wouldn't tear my eyes out with the tedium of working hard at not moving for 45 minutes. A few more minutes of rummaging around produced an old cooler that was fairly clean on top (my laptop is less than a week old). (Note that I refer to my laptop using a generic term. I've learned that when you use an Apple computer, you identify it when talking computers. When using a PC, it's just a computer.)

More digging. More searching. Extension cord. Headphones with extension cord. Water bottles. Crap, no movies on this laptop. Searching (home network), copying, saving. Grab the bike down from the ceiling hooks, attach the pump. Pumping up a tire that hasn't been inflated in more than a few weeks.

And then it turns from tedious to ugly.

You see, Mother Nature made some nice weather for me. Sunny, warm. Dry roads, dry trails. Mother Nature doesn't like it when you're not grateful. She gets downright spiteful. She's friends with the god of flats.

Try as I might, that tire/tube held no air. And of course, it was the rear tire. Although I was already suited up, I had to start to search for tire levers (hometrainer tires are a bear to get off) and a spare tube. When I finally wrenched my tire free, it was easy to find the hole. You see, it wasn't a hole so much as a quarter-inch gash. That was no accident. These wheels/tires never see pavement. They're only ever exposed to smooth round drums. And the gash was on the inside of the tube.

At this point, if you know me at all, you'd expect I gave in and called it a night. I did not, though. I changed my tire, mounted the wheel on the bike, and attached all the little things necessary to get my computer to both show me a movie and convey the sound into my entertainment-deprived ears.

Yes, Mother Nature, I rode in a dirty old garage. And as painful as that process was, and despite finishing after midnight, I was happy to have won that round.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Problem With Spring

As you may--or may not, depending on your local--have noticed, we're in the middle of Spring. I love Spring, mostly because it heralds the approach of my favorite season: Summer. Blossoms are blooming, everything is green again--here in western, OR, anyway--and the days are longer.

But there is a very serious downside to Spring, not counting those afflicted with pollen allergies.

The problem with Spring is that it is a mixed bag.

Winter, is rainy and cold-ish very nearly all the time. Oh, you'll have good days now and then, but you can usually count on bundling up before riding. And, you'll take that bike with the full fenders if you are headed outside.

But then, right around the middle of April, the clouds part, the sun comes out and the ground starts to dry out. You pull the road bike off the trainer and get in some rides wearing sunglasses! Then, the rain returns.

In the winter, the rain isn't so bad, it's expected after all. But once I get a taste of riding in short sleeves and feeling the warmth of the sun overhead, getting out on the now-filthy fender-ed bike just doesn't seem as nice. I have tasted summer riding and I want it now! I am unwilling to wait until June--usually the middle of--before the weather is consistently good.

Unlike the winter, any amount of rain will drive me indoors and onto the trainer. I know that the plants need the water, and it keeps my water bill down while simultaneously keeping my yard green. I know these things. But at the same time, I am reminded of the line from the musical Camelot that states--roughly--that in Camelot it never rains 'til after sunset and by 10am the dew has gone.

If any weather gods are reading, that's how I'd like western Oregon to be in the Spring, please. Except on the nights we have a night ride scheduled.