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Monthly Archives: October 2019

A Rare Moment in Climate History; The Farmer’s Almanac and NOAA Are At Odds. Let’s See Who’s Right

I always pay attention to the Farmer’s Almanac for the winter forecast.  They don’t rely on computer models, as NOAA does.  Observation along with old-school mathematical equations form the Farmer’s report.  My uncle Larry can even determine, with a fair bit of accuracy, the amount of snow we’ll get over the winter by how high off the ground a certain wasp nests.

This year, NASA’s NOAA has predicted a milder than average winter.  They won’t predict snowfall, which I find interesting.  Telling.

The Farmer’s Almanac, by contrast, is saying it’s going to be a nasty, cold, snow-filled winter for us in the Northern Midwest.

I’m intrigued to see who’s right.

Guess where I’m putting my money.

The Well Executed Cycling Road Trip Part 2: The Bikes and Clothes

My buddy, Mike, Mrs. Bgddy and I went up north a couple of weekends ago for our friend, Chuck’s birthday ride. As is par for the course, we took the pop-up camper, our bikes, and enough food to feed an army.  I covered the camping in Part 1, here.

There’s a lot to factor in for the road trip, but if executed well, the cycling road trip is a fantastic way to spend a vacation, or in our case this time, just a standard weekend.  Once accommodations are sorted, we have to look at the bikes and clothing for the trip.

The Bikes:

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The preparations make the trip come off without a hitch. If a bike breaks down, it can wreck a trip trying to find a shop to service it fast enough to get you back on the road. So, I always make sure the bikes are tip-top. That starts about two weeks out. I check everything over, make sure there are no creaks that need to be addressed. Shifting works properly? Especially the front derailleur – I don’t have need for a front derailleur at home, but there’s no shortage of hills up north. We need that shifting to work! Wheels, do they need to be trued? Any signs of wear with the shift and brake cables? I check everything over so that when I get to where I’m going, everything works as it should – and even then, there are things that will pop up.  On this last trip, as an example, my wife kept dropping her chain when she went to shift up from the little to the big chainring so I had to adjust her shifting on the fly.  It only took a quick turn of a barrel adjuster, but if I didn’t know what I was doing, it could have caused trouble.

The Clothes:

Mike, on your left, is not properly dressed for the weather. It’s only 44° (7 C), and he’s so cold his teeth are chattering in that photo. My wife’s jersey was a little light, but she managed. Chuck was a little cool, too. I’d layered up. I had a jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, wool socks, a cap, and a thermal long-sleeved jersey on. I was comfortable the whole ride. When it warmed up to 50, I simply took the arm warmers off and stowed them in my back pocket.

The golden rule is this:  you can take it off, but you can’t put it on if you don’t have it. This is much more than just making sure I’ve got the right clothing for the weather, because some days 60° is reasonable and a cause to eschew the arm and knee warmers. Other days, it’s not reasonable at all because you’re starting out in the upper 30’s and it won’t hit 60 till well after you’re done and showered. Also, is it a damp or dry 60? That’ll play into the clothing decision as well.  How about wind?  This has to be factored in before we leave, because we can’t put it on if we didn’t bring it.  The cycling clothing is the one thing I’ll allow myself to over-pack.  It’s better to have the clothing and not need it than need it and not have it.

In my case, I’d rather be a little over-warm and have to remove a layer, than be too cold.

I start checking the forecast at my destination a full week before I leave.  By the time we’re packing the SUV and camper to leave, I know exactly what I’ll need and it’s packed away – including enough clothing to handle 10-15° colder than the forecast calls for, plus rain gear.  I have no desire to be perched on a bike, freezing my tukus off, when I should be having a fantastic time.

There’s no room for ego on the road trip…

My buddy, Mike, was miserable cold most of the day – and he had a vest in his hand before we left.  He looked at me after I suggested he at least wear that and said, “Yeah, but are you going to carry it for me when I want to take it off?”  He was kidding, of course, but when I laughed at him and said no, he stuffed the vest back in his backpack.

He was so cold that he had to warm up under a hand dryer in the bathroom during our first stop.  We teased him the rest the day, and much of the rest of the trip.  This is one of those times you don’t want to “be like Mike”.

The other way to handle cycling kit issues is to make sure you only go on rides when or where it’ll be warm and dry, but even then you’re relying on meteorologists.  Good luck with that.

I’ve been on more than half-dozen road trips in the last two years and I’ve managed to get the most out of all of them, and it’s only because I’ve been prepared.  You’re out there to have fun, not to see how creative you can be hitching a ride back to camp because you were ill-prepared.

UPDATE:  My friend, the Unironedman chimed in to remind us all that nothing beats the humble gilet (or vest).  I agree wholeheartedly, and if there’s one piece of clothing that automatically goes into the bag for a road trip (other than jersey’s, bibs, and socks, it’s a vest or two).

The Ultimate Reason I Chose to Get Sober and Fit in the First Place

I was like so many others, overeating my way to cementing a sedentary lifestyle for myself, one meal at a time…  Then came decision time.  I was young, too.  Just 32 years-old, my once furnace-hot metabolism had cooled and I was catching up on 200 pounds.  I was a 150, dripping wet, when I sobered up.  Some of that fifty pounds was needed.  150 is too skinny for a 6′ tall man, but 200 pounds is when the double-chin starts forming.

Do I get fit or fat?  Running (and eventually cycling), or video games and the couch?

First, I never knew how painful a sedentary lifestyle was until I started running.  People complain about muscle soreness with running, I did from time to time as well, but no amount of fitness I’ve tried hurt like a sedentary lifestyle.

I’ve run half-marathons (that was enough, thank you), ridden a hundred miles a day, for days on end, 60,000+ miles in my 40’s, and nothing hurt as bad as sitting on the couch.  The second worst was getting off it.  The third was continuing to choose to stay off it.

Once I got fit, though, once I learned the tricks of running, and eventually cycling, I found my own and my peace.  I also found a few missing pieces to the puzzle of my recovery.

After riding with my friends yesterday, a nice, enjoyable 18-1/2-mph, 47-mile ride with my wife and my two best riding friends, I took a nap with my wife… on the couch.  We woke up at 3 and went to watch my daughter, a high school junior, perform with Eastern Michigan University and several other high school bands, during and after the football game against Western Michigan.

Our seats weren’t in the nosebleeds, but they were high enough, on the 40-yard line.  I took each step with ease, keeping pace with my 13-year-old daughter who weighs about as much as my legs.  I wasn’t breathing heavy when we reached our seats, 28 rows up.  If my heart rate was over 80 bpm, I’d be surprised.

I went up and down those stairs a few times, just as fast, throughout the game.

Our team (I went to Eastern as a much younger lad) was down, and Western looked to be in control until the momentum shifted when EMU stopped Western and scored just before halftime.  Eastern was down 14-10 at the half.

My daughter, at halftime, was the a part of the middle peak of the M in E M U, right out front as the EMU marching band and the six-ish other marching bands present all belted out popular hip-hop tunes they’d learned just a couple of hours earlier.  I can’t describe how cool it was to see my daughter down there on the field, at the university that asked me not to come back for my junior year, playing with the marching band that I was too much of a drunk loser to play in… If any evidence was needed that I’d done well with my recovery from addiction, I got a plateful last night.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles came out of the locker room on fire, having made some needed adjustments to their game, held the momentum from just before the half, and took it to the Western Michigan Broncos.  EMU won 34 to 27 in a classic come-from-behind victory (they’d been down as much as 14-3 in the first half).  Their offense was exceptional much of the game, but their defense really picked it up in the second half.  There were fireworks and the ROTC lit off cannon blanks every time the Eagles scored (that was awesome).

For the post-game show, my daughter’s school was chosen to perform their entire show on the big stage.  Many fans stayed to watch along with the EMU marching band.  And the Swartz Creek Dragon marching band nailed it.  Their best performance of the year.

27 years ago, I chose to accept my alcoholism and recover from it.  17 years ago, I chose to accept that, after I’d quit smoking, I loved food and had to get off my tukus and get fit.  As it does so often nowadays, all of that awesomeness came together and I got to see why I went to all of that trouble to live a clean, healthy life in the first place.

I could easily look at what I don’t have in life.  I could concentrate on where I fail, and I do every day (small failures, but failures nonetheless).  I could look at where life fails me, at everything that “isn’t fair”.  I could choose to ball up my recovery and flush it for a case of beer and a momentary escape (I never drank half-assed – if I’m going to give up and drink, even hypothetically, I’m gonna do it right).  Better, I could have given up everything that’s been good in my life decades ago, because “I’m probably not a drunk, it was just bad luck”…

I could have taken all of my misery back and I’d never have experienced what I did last yesterday.

I choose to live the way I do because being me is awesome.

No Spinning on the Hamster Wheel for Me Yesterday…

Michigan weather is a little tricky this time of year. We get a lot of rain and a lot of wind. Oh, and it typically starts to cool down. The awesome side of that coin is that all of the big rides are done, so we roadies can concentrate on other cycling passions. Dirt roads become an escape from angry, paved road traffic. On dirt roads, even pickup truck drivers pass us with several extra feet (more than a meter) to spare, with a wave (that doesn’t include an extended middle finger) and a smile.

Yesterday afternoon was a rare, perfect late-season cycling day – impossibly sunny, no wind, and a perfect autumn 55° (13 C). And Mrs. Bgddy had an appointment, so I had nothing on the schedule.

I’d worked early all week long to get out an hour and a half early Friday (funny thing about work on Friday – it rarely cares that I should be getting out before lunchtime!). I knew the weather was supposed to be nice, but what we got was simply spectacular. I’d planned on riding the gravel bike all day long, but the closer I got to quittin’ time, the more pull I felt to get back to my roots and my trusty mountain bike.

My wife gave me that bike for Valentine’s Day 2015 because it matched my Venge. Folks, that’s love for you.

By the time I’d pulled into the driveway my mind was made up. I wheeled the mountain bike out and prepped it to go. And I decided to ride old-school, like I did when I was a kid, only with better toys. Chuck was up north and I’d be riding solo, so I left my helmet hanging on the hook in the laundry room.

I rolled out and quickly warmed up. The bike was acting a little funny, but that’s to be expected as little as it’s ridden.

My wife was not pleased to learn I went for a helmetless ride… she lived.

As I got farther from the paved roads, the scenery started popping. We’re on the front end of the autumn color fireworks display and things are just starting to look fantastic.

I ended up having one of those rides where you just wish you could get lost. I’d planned on 21 miles, but scratched that to do some exploring of a road I rarely travel.

I’d also planned on shooting for an easy average, something in the 13-14-mph range, but I was feeling too good. After seven miles my Garmin showed 16.2-mph… I chuckled and dialed it back a notch.

The farther I went, the more I wanted to stay out. I really had run into the perfect bike ride.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, even a great bike ride.

I pulled into the driveway with just over 26 miles and a 15.5-mph average.

I was smiling about that ride all night long.

A Chance for 6,000 Outdoor Miles for 2019 (and 7,500 Overall)… And a Better Life

I only need 525 425 (after Monday’s ride) outdoor miles to cross 6,000 for the year, vastly better than I thought I’d be able to do.  I’d have been happy with anything over 5,000…

2019 StatsToOctober

Some of my friends are stuck on the whole “outdoor” vs. “overall” miles difference.  As far as I’m concerned, trainer miles count – if I ride ’em, I count ’em.  Perhaps that’s because I’m a working stiff.  A couple of my, ahem, “retired” friends think that’s “cheating”.  Not “Eddy Merckx”, “Laurent Fignon”, “Tammy Thomas”, “Femke Van den Driessche”, or “Lance Armstrong” cheating, more or less a minor infraction.

Anyway, to keep everything straight, I managed to use different apps to track what happens outdoors separately from my overall mileage.

Whenever I’m outside riding and I save my ride on my Garmin, that kicks the workout to Garmin Connect which distributes the ride data to Strava (for outdoor miles) and Endomondo (for the overall miles) and to Ride With GPS (so I can store any routes I want to keep to follow later,for turn-by-turn).  Better, when I use my Garmin as a timer for my trainer workouts, it sends a blank ride to Garmin Connect, which then sends the timed ride to Endomondo, and Strava.  All I have to do is open the Endomondo workout and enter my miles.  No miles get recorded on Strava, but my overall miles are preserved on Endomondo – I have both.  I have no idea how I made that happen, technically, but I did.

2019 EndoStats

Anyway, Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post.  I didn’t know how my cycling life would change when I started my new job after the first of the year.  I knew there was no chance of hitting 10,000 miles again and I was quite okay with that, but I wondered how the new job would impact cycling.  Would I drop to 4,000?  Maybe 5,000 or 6,000 overall miles?  I put those thoughts away after I wrote about them the week I started.  I figured I’d just go at it a day at a time and see where things shook out.  Mileage was impacted, no doubt, but not terribly.  Things turned out much better than I could have planned.

There once was a time I used to let my melon run riot with a lot of doom and gloom bad things that I just knew were going to happen to me – I always felt that the other shoe was about to drop.  I was promised, decades ago now (almost three!), that if I just stayed sober and worked some steps on a daily basis, if I worked for it, my life would get so good that I’d think it couldn’t possibly get any better.  Then, if I kept coming back, six months later I’d realized it had, all by itself.  I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count.

Now, thinking back on that day, I look back and I realized that my life has gotten so good, I enjoy it so much, that I stopped looking at life as though the other shoe was going to drop.  I don’t dwell on the doom and gloom anymore.  I don’t have to, because good things happen to me today.

And I don’t remember when I stopped.  It was a while ago, though.  Years.

Imagine that.  I looked back and realized my life got even better, all by itself.

It happened again.

 

 

The Case for Buying Through Bike Shops

My wife and I bought our gravel bikes through the local bike shop. I got a fair deal on them, and we’ve ridden them hard. We may have been able to get a “better” bike, possibly with better components, for the same price from an internet based, direct sale manufacturer. However…

My wife and I believe in our local shop. In fact, we’ve purchased seven new single bikes, my used Trek, and our tandem from the same shop over the last ten years – not to mention the upgrades (oh, sweet baby Jesus in a manger, the upgrades!): Two new cranks (S-Works for my Venge, 105 for my wife’s Alias) , a handlebar for the Venge, then a paint job, seat post, crank, bottom bracket, and a headset for my 5200, dozens of tires, wheels for my wife’s road bike, fenders for the tandem…. plus all of the clothes, and tuneups, and a few mechanical issues I couldn’t sort out on my own…. a new Cyclops Magneto trainer just last night (I know I could have done slightly better online that I did at the shop but only slightly).

We also volunteer heavily, for everything we can that the shop has its hands in, plus for the annual club sponsored ride.

We’ve been good to our shop and they treat us even better.

For instance, my wife’s gravel bike seems to have had a defective wheel (it’s cracked at more than half-a-dozen spoke holes), so the shop contacted the manufacturer who promptly replaced the wheel as a warranty issue, more than a year after I bought the gravel bikes. If I bring a wheel to be trued (because I really suck at truing wheels), somebody will jump on it and have me out the door, with my wheel, in ten minutes if someone is free. On another occasion, they completely rebuilt a wheel for me in two days, right before the biggest tour of the season, so I could have my backup wheelset. Or how about that brand new trainer I just bought? The resister housing was shipped with a loose screw. I didn’t realize this when I put it together, I just knew it shouldn’t be making the noise it was making when I turned the crank. I called the shop, took it in and the mechanic had it fixed in ten minutes. I was out the door and home, round trip, in 30 minutes. Now, could I have fixed that on my own? Likely, given some time and a little bit of want to (which I would have had, rather than go through the trouble of shipping the old trainer back for a new one), but I didn’t have to bother – I had a mechanic to take care of it.

My friends, there’s a lot of good on the internet, but it can’t do that.

Support your local bike shop. You don’t have to buy everything there, but if your shop goes out of business because everyone decided they’ve gotta save a buck online, who are you going to have fix your stuff when you can’t? Good luck sending your precious steed to the internet.

Just sayin’

Oh, and just so we’re clear; yes, the store marks up an item a little more than they do on the web, because your bike shop has a storefront it has to pay for. The internet doesn’t have to pay the same rent, or employ as many people, so your internet company likely makes more money on you than your local shop will with all things leveled out.

It’s something to chew on.

This post was inspired by my Tasmanian brother from another mother, the Tempocyclist. Visit him here.

The Spectacular Euphoria that Comes Along with Riding a Bicycle

It’s another Monday evening after a typical Monday at work.

If you felt just a little dread after reading that sentence, you know Mondays like I know Mondays.  They’re not all bad, but they’re rarely good at the same time… it’s almost as if… everyone takes the weekend to lose their mind for a minute – or they realize over the weekend they’re nuts and have to spread the joy come Monday morning.  Whatever it is, it’s interesting.

So I pull in the driveway and park my SUV in front of the camper, which reminds me of my last cycling/camping trip just a couple of weekends before.  That immediately puts a smile on my face.  I head into the house and get my gravel bike ready, thinking about how cold it is outside.  I’m trying to figure out what I want to wear to hit that magic balance of not too cold, but not too warm.

I decide on my kit, put it on (over the next ten minutes… ahem) and roll over to my buddy’s house.  On the way over, I not the tailwind both ways – the first half of the ride after I pick Chuck up is going to be chilly with the cross-headwind.  And I missed on my kit.  I’m definitely on the uncomfortably cold side of things.  It’s funny, how 49° on a summer morning can be just enough to leave the arm warmers and knee warmers at home – after all, it’ll be 80 in an hour.  That same 49 on an autumn afternoon, leg warmers, arm warmers, wool socks and a light vest aren’t enough.

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Once we get going and find a rhythm, though, everything fades into the background.  All of a sudden, I realize how nice the dirt roads are – they’re almost perfect, like paved roads.  We’re hauling pretty decently into the wind on what’s supposed to be a fairly easy day, and rather than dial it back a notch, I decide I’ve got the legs for the pace and keep it rolling.

Then we hit the cross-tailwind and things really pick up.  I’m on an entry-level gravel bike that’s comically heavy next to my road rigs that cost roughly four and six times more.  Still, the 32mm tires have just the right grip and roll and the low pressure eats up minor potholes.  We’re cruising along at 20-mph, holding a conversation about stuff in general and cranking out the miles.  We’re 17 miles in when I realize we’ve only been passed by one car so far.  That puts a smile on my face – I always enjoy gravel season after road season for just that reason – it’s not that I dislike traffic, I don’t mind it (and it’s a necessary evil if you want the speed associated with road cycling), it’s just wonderful to get out of it at the end of the season.

With just a few miles to go, I realize that I’m chilly but it hasn’t bothered me.  I was too busy thinking about how much fun I was having.  I’m looking forward to the nice, warm shower that awaits – just nine more minutes…

Daylight is fading as we pull up to my driveway.  Chuck and I exchange fist bumps and thank you’s and he heads off down the road, two more miles for him.  I charge through the ditch in the front yard to clean my tires off in the grass so I don’t track dirt into the house.  I hit the brakes at the front porch and hit the “stop” button on my Garmin.

And that’s not the good part.

In the shower, I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be me.  Life isn’t really special or all that much better for me than anyone else, I simply love what I’ve got – and that is special.

Dinner was spectacular.  Chicken-noodle soup and grilled cheese sammiches – but not your standard American cheese on white bread grilled cheese.  Mrs. Bgddy cooked up gruyere and gouda on brioche bread grilled cheese sammiches.  Mmmmm… butter.  On top of butter.  On top of butter, with a side of butter.  They’re heavenly, and the soup to go along and warm up the insides…

I fell asleep thinking about how good it is to be me.

Then I woke up and thought about how much fun yesterday’s ride was.  I smiled on the way out the door to the office, struck with the “man, it’s good to be me” vibe all over again.  Driving into the office I just set my cruise control and drove, a smile stretched across my face.  Just twelve hours and I’ll be doing the same thing all over again – and I smile bigger.  My God, it’s good to be me.

And that’s what a proper bike ride does for the spirit.

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The Flying Rhinos Cycling Club Fall Back 40; My World Goes Gravel… Happily

Sunday, a few friends and I showed up to ride with a guy in our group who moved down to Clarkston (about 30 miles from our place) a short while ago. He’s jumped in with the local club and invited us down to ride at the Fall Back 40, a gravel bike ride that cuts through the most unlikely of areas we ride in. Typically, Clarkston is a high-traffic area – vastly busier than we’re used to. The gravel roads are a different story altogether…

I’ll get the easy part out of the way right off the bat; this was one of the most enjoyable gravel rides I’ve ever been on. We did the 48 mile route but took a wrong turn so we ended up with 44 miles with 2,300′ of climbing. I don’t know where they found all of those hills in southeastern Michigan, but we ride hundred milers with 500′ less elevation gain. Fortunately, even on my entry-level Diverge, I had the gears for everything the route could throw at us – I used them all, though. Every last one.

We rolled out just before 8am to a just-rising sun on a windy, chilly Sunday morning. I bundled up pretty well, even with a pair of compression shorts under the bibs. I also went with arm-warmers, a jersey, a long-sleeved jersey and a vest, leg warmers and full foot covers. At 44° (7 C), I was a little over-dressed, but the wind was whipping north of 15-mph. As is normal, I’d rather have it and take it off than not have it and be cold – especially with the wind. It had rained Friday, but the dirt roads appeared to be dry enough.

I had my entry-level Diverge (Sora) and Mrs. Bgddy was using the gravel bike that our friend loaned her. It’s a beautiful Cannondale SuperX Ultegra with the nicest wheelset I’ve ever seen on a gravel bike. Everyone else rode a higher-end carbon gravel bike – the guy who loaned my wife the Cannondale had a new Pinarello Grevil (upgraded to SRAM eTap). I was a little envious but I figured I’d get a better workout trying to keep up. I wasn’t wrong, and I had to tell myself that more than once that day.

It never fails – I tell myself the extra eight pounds going from my Venge to the Diverge won’t be that big a deal… then I hit that first big hill, and it very much is a big deal (it’s only six extra pounds going from the Trek. Two pounds? Not so bad. Six or eight? Woof!).

The ride was perfect though. My Diverge handled fantastically and I only had a tough time keeping up with the lead guys on the bigger hills. On the flats and downhills I was fine and we kept a fairly decent pace with the crew we had.

The important thing was that we observed post-season “it’s all bonus miles” pace. We were just out there for the good time, and that’s exactly what was had. With a 15-mph average, we certainly didn’t watch the leaves turn color, but we weren’t killing it to hit a 16-ish average, either. And Mrs. Bgddy crushed it… and I, according to my wife, accrued 1,000 points for accepting the pace for what it was with a smile on my face.

Then came the taco lunch that was a part of the entry fee. It wasn’t quite fantastic, but it was very good. I tore mine up – lugging that heavy-@$$ bike around made me hungry! After everyone had eaten and laughed and congratulated one another on a good time, we all went our separate ways. My wife and I, having already loaded the bikes, made our way to my car. She kissed me tenderly on the cheek, squeezed my hand and let me know the thousand points wasn’t an exaggeration.

I don’t think she realized staying together was the plan all along, but with a thousand freakin’ points, I’m not saying anything, either!

UPDATE: My buddy, Chuck and I took the gravel bikes out last night, too. 20 miles, we were passed by one car. Gotta love it, baby.

The Well-Executed Cycling Road Trip Part 1: Camping

This is the second post in my new series on how “we”, meaning my friends and I, do a road trip. We don’t do the epic, four-week long “sea to shining sea” 100-miles a day journey. I only wish I had the time to do something like that. I don’t. We do, however, have plenty of time to head up to the northern part of our State, a three-hour drive, for a long weekender or three during the year… and we do it right.

What I’m talking about is the non-supported, heading away for a few days with my buddies, getaway. Hotels are great, but camping is where it’s really at because at that point, it’s all about the cycling, food and sleep. Once camp is set up, all you do is ride, eat, sleep, repeat. Often.

Typically speaking, I’m a fan of hotel road trips, but there’s just something about camping with a group of friends that makes the weekend about what it should be; friendship, food and cycling.

We’ll have several “levels” of camping that will cover most incomes.  First would be tent camping.  Camping in a tent, in my opinion, takes a lot of want to.  You’ll need a tent, preferably a mattress (air or foam), your clothes, and something to carry your incidentals; food, cooking supplies, and utensils.  A grill of some sort would be wise (or a grate you can put over a fire pit works too – cooking is a challenge, but if you can get the fire to behave, my God, is that a fantastic way to cook.   While this isn’t the easiest or most comfortable way to camp, it’s got its advantages – both in money and scope.

In our case, my wife and I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend on a camper, so we bought our pop-up used.  I think we paid $1,200 for it.  We’ve gotten so much out of it, I can’t believe we paid that little for it – it was a steal at $1,200.  My wife is a tent camper – I absolutely am not.  I did it, camp in a tent, but I never liked it.  The pop-up was our compromise.  The big, screened windows had the feel of a tent for my wife, but with actual beds and electrical outlets, and other amenities for me.

For us, the pop-up carries with it a lot of the conveniences of home; a microwave oven, a stove-top, beds, storage for a hibachi grill, pots, pans, coffee maker, sheets, comforters, pillows, a sink, a furnace and refrigerator… but in a relatively light package.  It’s only 1,500 pounds dripping wet.  This means you only need a V-6 with a decent tow package to pull it and gas mileage isn’t destroyed, either.  One thing to keep in mind, however, is the method one will use to get the bikes where you’re going…  We travel with enough people the bikes usually can’t go in the vehicle.  With the camper on the hitch, we can’t use our bike rack, either.  I had to build a rack to go on the camper (see photos above and the link – it works excellently).

Now, my friend, Chuck, goes with a hard-side camper that has quite a few more amenities, but it lacks that outdoorsy “feel” my wife wants insists on when she camps.  Either way, with a camper, a decent home base for that road trip is just a matter of packing, hooking the rig up to the vehicle, and rolling out.  And rather than blow $100+ a night on a hotel room, we can get a full hookup campsite for $25 to $40 a night.  When the nights turn cold, a $12 propane tank will run our furnace at night for the weekend.  In other words, if money is an object or, like us, you’re simply a fan of the outdoors, camping and cycling road trips go hand in glove.

Though this is Part One, the initial post’s link is here.

Stay tuned for Part Two

Who Turned Off Summer? And I’m Glad It Happened; Conversely, It’s Doesn’t Have to Be All Fast All of the Time

My buddy, Mike got a new bike Friday.  Well, a new frame for his Di2 components.  Trek helped him out under their crash replacement warranty whereby they replace a cracked frame with a newer model at a discount.  They replaced his old Madone 7-Series (with the Godforsaken rear rim brake under the chainstays) with a Emonda 700 series (their lightest frame), and it is beautiful… and, thank goodness for Mike, it’s gray and black with white lettering and red flourishes.  He gets to dress in black and red again! [there’s an inside story to this and his old babyshit greet 7-series that goes way back].

So we took the good bikes out yesterday morning.  And it was cold.  We’d been gifted unseasonably awesome weather for four-and-a-half days and it finally came crashing to an end…  Mrs. Bgddy was testing out the loaner gravel bike, Vince was out on his Pinarello F-10 eTap Team Sky Edition with Zipp Whale-back wheels ([!]  The wheels alone are $4,000 and made to order), and I had my Venge.  Sadly, Vince flatted three miles out and had grabbed the wrong saddle bag that didn’t have his valve extension so he had no way to replace the tube.  Mrs. Bgddy rode back to get her SUV to pick Vince up and we rode on at their request.

Two days before I was riding in a short-sleeved jersey and bibs.  Now I had two layers, wool socks, toe covers, ear muffs (the behind the neck kind, VASTLY better than a cap – I highly recommend them for cold weather riding), full-fingered gloves… the whole nine yards.  I was never cold, but I certainly wasn’t warm, either.

Mike and I just cruised the 35-mile route, talking about what cyclists normally talk about when out cycling… Cycling.

We were so slow I was almost shocked for a Saturday ride, but when it came down to it, I didn’t care.  It being the middle of October, the season is done.  Now it’s just bonus miles and good times with my friends.

All of fastest rides of the year are memories, jarred every time the furnace kicks on.  Oh, but they still put a smile on my face.

Today we’ve got a gravel ride out of town.  I’ll be loading up the bikes for a rare, short drive to the start.  It’s cold again, but I’ve got the gear to enjoy the ride…. and they’re all fun miles now, anyway.  The real work won’t start again until January – when I’ll have two months to whip myself into shape on the trainer for another epic spring.

I’m sad to see the season go, but I’m glad at the same time.  I’m tired.  It’s time to sit back and enjoy a few easy rides with my friends… and remember the good times we had over the last six months.