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Monthly Archives: June 2018

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Mrs. Bgddy got Runover by a Reindeer…

Seriously. Mrs. Bgddy got runover by a deer. My wife was hit by a deer yesterday morning on our bike ride.

We were heading north on a beautiful stretch of country road, about 22-mph. We saw the deer in the middle of a farmer’s field, and when she saw us, she started running, parallel to us, about 100 yards to our right. After 100 yards like this, she started angling towards us – I think it surprised her that we were faster…

I, being the nature freak I am, decided not to stop, but to see how long we could keep that up… 200 yards later she was almost on us, but still 15 yards to our right. Then a minivan appeared, heading south, towards us in the other lane. The deer saw the minivan and made an instant right turn and plowed into my wife, missing my rear wheel by inches.

She’d seen it coming and had almost come to a stop. Unfortunately, my buddy, Mike didn’t brake as fast as she did and got tangled up with her bike. He went down. Hard. The three others behind him managed to brake and come to a stop safely.

We helped Mike up and he dusted himself off. Meanwhile, my wife and I dislodged his bike from hers (handlebars and a shifter lever had to be untangled). He was favoring his hip but mounted his bike and we rolled for home.

With a few miles to go, Mike reached for his water bottle and he knew he was in trouble. He was jolted by a shooting, singeing pain up his backside.

Three hours later he was in the ER being x-rated and CT scanned.

Cracked sacrum. Six to eight weeks. His grandkids sang him “Grandpa got taken out by a reindeer”…

What a bummer, dude.

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If I only knew then what I know now about buying a bike… and what it means to a cyclist with a limited budget.

 

The Specialized on the left, at just under 16 pounds, is a $5,000+ work of art on two wheels. It’s everything I imagined a super-bike should feel like when riding…  Decently light, fast – slippery even, stiff where it needs, but compliant enough to be comfortable (especially on 26mm tires).

At 18-1/2 pounds, I have about half the money into the Trek, but double the effort.  With the new drivetrain and a mountain bike saddle (of all things) to soften the otherwise slightly harsh* ride just enough.  Also, changing the old, tired Ultegra triple drivetrain for a fifteen years’ newer 105 compact double drivetrain was probably the best upgrade I’ve ever slapped on a bike (followed closely by the S-Works crank, then the Ultegra groupset on the Spec.).

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Getting to the nuts and bolts of this, I’m not going to sit here from on high and proclaim the Trek to be just as good a bike as the Venge.  That’d be ridiculous, over the top and not even close to the truth…  Alan Grayson comes to mind.  It’s not close to the Venge in terms of sheer awesomeness and raw speed.  On the other hand, if I throw the good wheels from the Venge onto the Trek, well all of a sudden the Trek becomes a fantastic and fun ride.

Now, I don’t want to discount the purchase of my Specialized.  Without that bike, my journey through cycling would have been different – who knows where I’d be today.  On the other hand, I just threw money at the Venge.  When it came to the Trek, while I wasn’t the one to physically paint it and I didn’t install the King headset (I wouldn’t know how to do that, better left to the pros who have the proper tools), I’ve got a lot of sweat equity into the Trek.  I took the bike apart for the frame to be painted and cleaned every part before putting it back together after I got it back.  I handle the tune-ups myself, I handled the complete upgrade of the drivetrain myself… I dialed it in, including the set screws.  I installed the leather bar tape (leather is the way to go, btw – it’s like butter).  Most of the attention to detail goes right back to me – everything is exactly as I wanted it.

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In other words, I have a lot of “me” invested in that bike, so riding it is just that much sweeter.

So what I know now, that I didn’t know then, is that it’s possible to get an older, used bike built for about half the cost (or less) that of a new super-bike – and because I’ve got so much into working on it, the Trek’s a great go-to every day ride bike.  Truth is, I’ve only ridden the Venge a couple of times since I got the Trek done…  I save the Specialized for Tuesday nights, when fast is absolutely, entirely necessary.  Otherwise, that Trek is a lot of fun to ride nowadays.

Take a good frame ($600 – $800), get it painted ($500), put on a decent, newer drivetrain ($400-$600, give or take), add pedals, saddle and bottle cages ($250), and a good set of wheels ($600) and for less than $3,000 you’ve got a spectacular steed that you built from the ground up to your liking.  Granted, if you’re a noob like I was, you’re going to need some help building the bike, but you get my drift.  If I knew then what I know now – if I had known the Trek could be as good as it is today, I don’t think I’d have bothered buying the Venge.  It wouldn’t have been as necessary.  I’m sure glad I did, though.

*When I refer to the Trek as “slightly harsh” in its ride, this must be taken in context.  An aluminum frame is ridiculously harsh next to the Trek.  When compared against my Specialized, fifteen years worth of carbon fiber advancement means a much improved ride.  Matched against even a modern aluminum frame, the ’99 Trek is still vastly superior in ride comfort.

You Say Tomato… I say Catchup. The Great Club Cycling Conundrum; To Wait or To Drop? No-drop or Drop… or Everyone Gets Dropped? What a Cyclist should Expect from a Ride.

I’ve been having a conversation with a fellow who follows my blog, and I also follow his. He’s in a bit of a tough spot finding folks to ride with at a pace reasonable to him. He keyed in on the fact, in my post yesterday, that I held back a little bit to make sure a person I didn’t recognize knew her way around the route. After she confirmed she knew her way well, I double-timed it back to the group.

To me, that’s just the right thing to do – cycling club president or not. My blog friend commended me for this in one of his comments, though I didn’t take too much credit – it was early in the ride and I felt I wouldn’t have a problem getting back to the group with a quick sprint.

Herein lies the rub, though. A little later in the ride and I’d have hoped for the best for her, but there’s a fair chance I wouldn’t have dropped off the back to make sure she knew her way. Folks, I can work my way back to 23 mph. I wouldn’t be clawing my way back at 27 – and the ride often amps up as it goes.

It was that back and forth that led me to this post. I don’t know all of the particulars in his ride that brings about his angst, so I’m going to list the different types of rides I’ve been a part of so a cyclist can match their expectations to the ride.

  • No-drop: A real, no BS no-drop ride means the ride moves at the pace of the slowest cyclist. These are advertised as no-drop rides in advance and are meant for noobs, rookies, those just out for a cruise, and seasoned cyclists looking for an easy ride to help bring new people into the group(s).
  • Destination ride: A coffee, ice cream, breakfast, lunch, or dinner ride that usually has the group stretched out on the way to, and back, from a destination, unless it’s billed as “no-drop”. In that case, see above
  • Re-group no-drop: Often billed as a no-drop, a re-group ride means the group waits at specific landmarks along a route for those who have fallen off to catch back up with the lead cyclists. After the re-group, the group starts off again and the faster cyclists drop the slower cyclists, only to re-group up the road. Don’t mistake this for a no-drop ride as described above – if you can’t hang, you will be dropped (at least until the next checkpoint).
  • Drop: The drop ride is a simple concept. The ride is fast, populated with fast people, and if you can’t keep the pace, you get dropped. It is extremely important to let newer cyclists know the rules and guesstimated pace before the ride so they can make an informed decision on whether or not to ride with a particular group. Opposite the no-drop, the fastest cyclists set the pace and it’s everyone else’s job to keep up. If you’re new, just don’t be the first to fall off the back and you’ll have someone to ride with once they catch up to you.
  • Everyone Gets Dropped: This is our Tuesday Night A Group ride – the B Group re-groups at one location in 30 miles (at about the 20 mile mark, and only for one minute or less). In an “everyone gets dropped” ride, it’s just as it sounds. A large group starts the ride but rarely, if ever, does everyone who started cross the finish line together. You’d be best served to know the route ahead of time, or have a map. Everyone gets dropped. As a side note, fast people rarely, if ever, ride a no-drop ride because they know if they rode no-drop, they wouldn’t be fast anymore. There’s always going to be someone slower who wants to join in and thinks everyone should wait for them. In the Drop and Everyone gets dropped rides, it’s the responsibility of the individual to keep up with the group. Period, end of story. If this doesn’t appeal to you, find another group.
  • Private Invitation Ride: I participate in several “invite only” rides throughout the week. This is pretty much how it sounds – it’s a private invitation ride. I choose this style of ride because it’s technically a no-drop ride but we only invite people we know are fast enough to keep up and who aren’t selfish enough to think the group has a responsibility to wait for them. We also only invite those faster cyclists who won’t push the pace so hard that we can’t have a good time. I have about 20 people on my text list, and it isn’t easy to get on that list.

***As a final caveat, one of the people who ride on Tuesday marked several of the routes on the asphalt. He did this so we wouldn’t have to worry about someone getting dropped, because it happens A LOT. Assume, if someone took the time to mark a route, they did it so someone who doesn’t know the route won’t get lost should they drop off the back. They don’t make routes for people who already know them. They mark routes so they don’t have to wait for those who don’t.

It is very important to choose the right group to ride with, I can’t stress this enough. If you’re one to anger because others won’t wait for you, be careful not to pick a ride that will leave you angry – and if there isn’t a group that suits you, show up to your local club rides and create your own. I did. It took some time to catch on, of course, but we stuck with it and now we often have a bigger B Group than we do an A Group – and both groups are happier because the ride is smoother when cyclists are more closely matched in ability and desire. That isn’t the royal “we” either… I and a few of my friends stuck with the B concept until it made it.

If you have any that I might have missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll get them added with a hat tip to you.

Tuesday Night Club Ride; Very Fast Edition

Showing up for the Tuesday Night Club Ride, you never really know what you’re going to get.  Even with the A guys.  Last night they were a shade slower than normal.  The B Group was a different story…

Mike and I started out up front, taking the speed up easy to let the group form up behind us.  18… 19… 21…  We tapped out after a mile and change at the first turn and the Shorter Lennon Loop segment on Strava started…  With a bit of a tailwind, we simply took off.  26-27 mph was fairly easy.  We had a new girl I hadn’t seen with us and she started out well enough, poor thing had some seriously short legs… but she started to fade fast after just a few miles.  I checked to make sure she knew where she was going, but after, there was a decent gap to be made up.  I closed the distance quick enough but doing so took some out of me.  I had to dangle for a minute to catch my breath.

Once I’d gotten my heart rate and breathing back to normal, I settled in for what turned out to be one of the more enjoyable editions of the TNCR.  Truth is, it was so fast there was no time for messing around.  Strava says I had five PR’s last night and they were mainly on the toughest segments of the course.  We were fast uphill and we were fast downhill.  The group generally worked well together – there were only a few who were dangling at the back.

Coming into the intermediate sprint we were a little slower than usual, which has a tendency to shake things up a bit.  Following the wrong wheel will mean you’re out of position for the sprint – and the sprints are my favorite part of the ride.  I don’t like missing out.  The group held together fairly well and I was right on Toby’s wheel, in perfect position.  He went a little early and I simply stayed on his wheel.  Toby’s a shorter, stocky guy so getting down low enough to get a draft is always a challenge, and he can ride perfectly flat over the top tube, so that means I damn-near have to kiss the stem to stay in the draft.  The pace picked up passing 30 mph but I held back… I’ve passed him too early before and he gets me back every time.

With 100 yards to the City Limits sign, I went around him, full gas.  He had nothing left to match me and I sailed over the line well north of 30 mph with a smile on my face.  That was the first time I’d beaten Toby to a line where it wasn’t extremely close.

With that, it was time to get the heart rate down again and get ready for the eight mile push home.  We were in for some headwind and it wasn’t going to be easy.

We rolled through town, got through a tricky intersection, and put the hammer down.  We were able to maintain a fairly steady speed between 21 & 23-mph into the wind but we’d formed into a single-file line rather than stay doubled up.  That meant things got a little messy on the home stretch…  There were a couple of guys farther up the line than normal so it was hard to tell if they were having a good day or on a “blaze of glory” death march.  Point is, I didn’t want to fade too far back and end up getting dropped behind the wrong wheel – as we get closer to town the speed gets ramped up and I’m not making up a gap at 27 or 28-mph.

I was a couple of bikes off the lead coming into the home stretch, a tandem, Toby and me…  Toby was trying like hell to get every last bit out of the tandem that he could.  He’d tapped out but Toby stayed on his wheel so Toby wouldn’t get stuck leading the group out.  The gambit worked, partially.  The tandem took the hint and put the hammer down, Toby glued to their wheel.

Then all of a sudden, I ended up on the front, leading the group out.  Scott had come around me and I jumped on his wheel, but he flamed out faster than a lit fart.  I’d already won the first sprint so I settled in as the lead-out and ramped the speed up beyond 27 mph.  I gave it everything I had and just watched as a few of the stronger guys went by, crossing the City Limits sign at 1:13:01 for 27 miles… 22.2 mph, a new best for the B Group.

Dinner was extra-tasty last night.  I even had a piece of Cherry Berry Crumble pie.  A perfect cap to a great evening.

A Small, Sober Fish in a Big Freakin’ Pond…

I was at a meeting yesterday. Collectively, we had 198 years of sobriety in that room. I counted.

Alone, those two items don’t equate to a very big deal – that happens all of the time in the program.

A little context makes that meeting rare, though…

There were only six people in the room, and I was almost the noob in the group with just 25 years. There were four with more than 36 years, myself and another with 25.

It’s a rare day I walk into a meeting feeling like the noob, and that Monday meeting was as good as it gets. I didn’t even share much for fear of getting in the way. I just sat back and watched it happen, simply grateful to be in the room to watch it.

Good times and noodle salad. It was as good as it gets.

A New Take (for me) on Internally Routed Cables; There’s Something to be said for the Old-style External Cables

Back a few years ago, I wrote a glowing post about the awesomeness of internal cable routing. First, my attitude toward internal routing hasn’t changed, it’s the cat’s pajamas, with a few caveats.

First, internal routing can be noisy if the cables rattle around inside the frame. I’ve got a friend with a Fuji rain bike that is notoriously noisy over bumpy roads. This being Michigan, it’s always noisy.

Second, internal routing is a lot more difficult to work on. Getting all of the cables run through the frame, and correctly, can be a challenge.

Those are the big downsides.

External cable routing, on the other hand, while less refined and certainly less asthetically pleasing to the eye, is easy to work with. Simple, really.

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It takes a couple of hours to get the cables changed on the Venge. I can get the Trek done in a fraction of the time, and because everything’s exposed, I can clearly see if there are any hang-ups.

On the other hand, the externally routed cables corrode over a season or two where the protected cables can last for years. That friend with the Fuji rain bike still has the original cables six seasons on, and that bike gets all of his nasty miles. As I go, I always change the Venge’s cables every couple of years – I simply don’t want to have to bother with a broken cable on the road.

With the recent upgrades to the Trek, the new/used 105 drivetrain from the Venge, I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of the external cable system. For the longest time I was put off by the gangly cables all over – with the wide arching loops running to the tops of the shifter hoods. With the newer 10sp. system (and subsequent shifter systems) that have the cables running under the bar tape, the front end of the bike is cleaned up entirely and looks quite fantastic, if I do say so myself. Most important, the 105 components never worked as well on the Venge as they do the Trek. Shifting is crisp and right on, every time. No lag, no drag.

Also, with the upgrades, the Trek is only three pounds heavier than the Specialized… it’ll be a lot easier to take the Trek on tours as well as it’s acting – and if something should go wrong, stripping that bike down is simple and fast next to the Venge with it’s internal cable routing.

So, while I still stand by my previous stance on internally routed bikes, I can’t get beyond the simplicity of external routing. I can’t choose one over the other, so having both is perfect.

Sometimes a Fella just has to Work on Boosting the Vitamin D.

We rode 48-1/2 miles yesterday morning. Unfortunately, only 38 of them were dry.

The weather services were up in the air about rain. One said rain later, the other said rain earlier. We rolled at 7:30 hoping to get back before things got ugly. I chose the rain bike again, for obvious reasons.

The ride started out fairly easy, lots of catching up and so on. After the first half-dozen miles we got after it and a real ride broke out. We chose to head north, opting for a crosswind over a head, then tail, wind… except the further north we went, the uglier the sky got. We chose to head west to, hopefully, avoid the good old-fashioned H2O. For several miles it looked like the gamble paid off.

Nope.

As we headed west, the sky darkened and we took evasive measures – south. South looked light. At least in a few miles. 35 miles in and we were chasing brighter skies, we could see the mist starting to thicken up around us. Two miles to our left and there was a wall of white. Then the mist hit us. The group decided there was nowhere to go but straight into it.

We put our collective heads down and got after it.

With five miles to go there was no escaping the rooster tails whipping up behind each wheel. The mist wasn’t a big deal, it was the spray from the rooster tails.  As conditions worsened, the speed picked up.  My wife took it up to 22 and when I took the lead I went overboard, up to 25 & 26.  Then the mist lightened, and almost stopped.  It was barely there as we turned the corner to home.

We pulled into the driveway wet, but smiling with an 18.2-mph average.

So, what about that vitamin D bit in the title?

Dude, the sun came out around 2PM, shortly after I’d cleaned all three road bikes (Trek, and my wife’s bike, then the Venge while I was at it). Mrs. Bgddy was meeting with a friend of hers and the kids were hanging out in their bedrooms…

I went for another ride.  I ran across my bud, Chuck getting his miles in, too (he opted for church in the am – a wise choice in hindsight).  About seven miles in, and I was thinking, “what am I doing?”  I didn’t have a very good answer, so I turned from home.  The sky was looking a little threatening anyway.  I settled in, though.  I finally got comfortable at eight miles and decided to stretch it out a little more to work on my tan lines.  They’re crisp, for sure, but not quite razor crisp.  They needed some work.

I was looking at 14-1/2 miles on the computer before deciding that was good enough and headed home.  I ended up with 18.8, and a better tan than what I had when I left.  I chalked it up to needing the vitamin D after a wet weekend.  Bad things happen when one doesn’t tend to the Vitamin D.