Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hounds of Red Clay Road

There were 5 of us out tonight to stretch the legs, raise the heart rates, and enjoy a great evening. This was the route traveled, 29 miles - 2900 feet - 18 mph.

It was my plan to do some climbing tonight, which is my greatest weakness. It went well enough, I wasn't seriously dropped anywhere although I suspect most everyone was running a few heartbeats slower than the red line my heart rate was at.

Right at the start of the ride, we were passed by an old fire truck that was bellowing a huge cloud of fumes which we were surrounded with for a couple hundred feet. Due to the time of day, we were also forced to ride with testosterone filled pickup drivers who like to rev their engines to show their IQ levels, what a nuisance.

We were jumped by 4 or 5 hound-dogs that took chase and didn't want to give up. I was at the front at the time so I didn't get to see most of the action. The dogs were persistent little devils, spreading out behind and on both sides of the road. Fortunately there was no contact.

Freddie the Friendly jackass was his usual braying self, a sight to see, and eager to be heard.

There was some discussion about getting back before dark, so the hammer started striking the anvil with a heavier beat, bringing us in just before the bats started flying.

3 more days until the time changes.

Weight today 210 lbs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Ride Tuesday

Even the best laid plans sometimes don't work out. Well, maybe not best laid plans, I was still pretty tired from last nights agony.

Maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe even a large Wednesday Group ride hammerfest.

Into the Final Stretch

The week that I've been dreading is finally upon us. When the time changes early Sunday morning it signals a drastic reduction in available light at the end of the regular work day.

For those of us that ride bikes in the evening, the time change effectively ends the fall ride season. Yes, you still can get out on the weekends, but evening rides during rush-hour are seldom enjoyable if not dangerous.

This week being what it is, I've decided to try and get a ride in each day this week.

Last night I started sloooowly (solo - as my riding partner had to mow the grass) with a goal of riding 20 miles. I decided about 3 miles into the ride to do an old out and back Time Trial course, and layed on the firewood to see what kind of time I could get. I ended the ride with a 20.3 overall, pretty good for me considering the lazy start and 300' climbing to get back home after my legs felt like lead.

I saw only 3 other riders out on the road! Where's everyone else?

With the lack of time to ride on the road, it becomes imperative to get on the trainer and dream of next summer. I have a love/hate relationship with my trainer, I love to hate it. What I hate even worse is to come into the spring riding season trying to regain all the ground lost over the winter. I'm thinking about 3-5 hrs per week will keep the legs fairly fresh which means 48-60 hrs of torture until the beginning of March when the time changes back.

I'm going to have to get my old Tour tapes out to try and keep my sanity.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Veloroutes - Google Earth

Over the next few days I will be using Veloroutes to map the trails of the Cohutta Wilderness area.

What is really nice about Veloroutes is the way you can create trails off road using the "Elevation" maps.

  1. Start by selecting "Create a new route" on the left side of the Home page.
  2. Select Elevation in the upper right hand corner to see USGS topo maps, use this to follow marked trails, or make your own.
  3. Start clicking on the map to lay down a track, then save the route by giving it a route name.

It's a good idea to add tags in the tag box, such as the area you are mapping, or even your name. The tags are useful to be able to find your route using the search utility on the home page.

Here's an example of access to the Conasauga River Trail. Notice that I've used the following tags; Cohutta Wilderness, Conasauga. Eventually you will be able to find all the trails in the Cohutta Wilderness by using these search terms. From this site you can download the track to Google Earth, which I have done, and added it to the Google Earth Community.

On my bike rides and hikes I use a Garmin Etrex Vista to log tracks. You can upload tracks to places like MotionBased which also exports to Google Earth.

My bike rides are posted at

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

If you ever see me drooling, I was probably just looking at my favorite custom bike builders.

Parlee Cycles or Crumpton

For about two years I have been dreaming of a custom bicycle and reading from the masters over at

Not having access to or owning a torch or a machine shop I have been stuck in dream land, with no end to dreaming in site. The one thing that really slows me down is the thought of building something and having it break underneath me as I go down the road (down a mtn side).

I ride a 2000 vintage Raleigh mass produced aluminum frame with garbage can Shimano components (this is not to say I don't like Shimano, just that my components are mostly salvaged from the Ebay trash can). This frame has taken all the abuse a 200+lb rider can dish out and has not complained. Being a very low budget rider has it's risks and rewards. The risk is that at anytime you may be out of commission for an extended period, waiting for replacement parts, if something breaks. The reward comes from seeing how you can make things work and not have to pay the LBS to do it for you.

More expensive is not always better. Of course there are a hundred ways to define what better is, and would mean different things to a hundred different people.

Specifically, a good bike (to me) is one that is comfortable enough and trouble free that when you ride, you're not thinking about the bike but about the ride.

Usually I don't even think about the ride because I'm having a hard enough time finding enough air to breath. Mostly because I don't train properly (read enough), and all my friends are better climbers than I am and there is nothing but climbing around here. But that is a 'nuther whole issue.

Anyway, enjoy the ride! Get out and RideMore!
And be safe out there.

Friday, October 12, 2007

First and Foremost

Well, I visited my friends site, sBlog, and thought it was pretty cool so I'm going to start my own.

There are so many blogs to read though, I don't expect I'll post every day, maybe not even every week. Just when I get a chance and have something to share.

About the bike.

I just changed my chain on my bike, for no apparent reason. All of a sudden my chain starts slipping under the least little pressure. I measured the old one that I just took off and it was worn beyond belief. I should have just put it back on for the rest of the season, because it was working just fine, but I didn't. During the first ride with my new chain, I hit the deck on a short sharp low-speed turn and bent my handlebars and broke my bar end mirror. So I replaced my bars and my cassette but it still skips on the big chain ring, which I ordered replacements for today.

What's the lesson here? Check for chain stretch! at least one a month, and use lots of ProGold chain lube. They also have a really cool device to check for chain stretch. Of course there's always the good and cheap ruler technique too, outlined by Sheldon Brown below.

From Sheldon Brown's Page on Chains
Measuring Chain Wear
The standard way to measure chain wear is with a ruler or steel tape measure. This can be done without removing the chain from the bicycle. The normal technique is to measure a one-foot length, placing an inch mark of the ruler exactly in the middle of one rivet, then looking at the corresponding rivet 12 complete links away. On a new, unworn chain, this rivet will also line up exactly with an inch mark. With a worn chain, the rivet will be past the inch mark.

This gives a direct measurement of the wear to the chain, and an indirect measurement of the wear to the sprockets:

If the rivet is less than 1/16" past the mark, all is well.

If the rivet is 1/16" past the mark, you should replace the chain, but the sprockets are probably undamaged.

If the rivet is 1/8" past the mark, you have left it too long, and the sprockets (at least the favorite ones) will be too badly worn.

If you replace a chain at the 1/8" point, without replacing the sprockets, it may run OK and not skip, but the worn sprockets will cause the new chain to wear much faster than it should, until it catches up with the wear state of the sprockets.

If the rivet is past the 1/8" mark, a new chain will almost certainly skip on the worn sprockets, especially the smaller ones.

Checking Sprockets for wear requires a special tool by Rohloff.