Saturday, October 31, 2015

Donnie Will Be Back

The man can walk!  Posed nexted to out tandem, a very filthy tandem, outside at his house.

Two  weeks ago one of my favorite people to ride with fell off a ladder 15' and broke his back and wrist.  Just a moment that could have killed him or left him paralyzed.  If you can say anything about this you can say he was lucky.  He did not die and will make a strong recovery.  Donnie will not be able to schelp tools and equipment around like he has done for 35 years as a boiler maker but he will be back on a bicycle next Spring.

The news of his fall came as a shock.  This is the third Hildreth that I ride with to suffer a major life altering crash.  Immediate thoughts were whether he would be able to walk again.    We visited him a couple of times during his stay at Methodist Hospital.  He seemed in good spirits as his wife Renae was too.  This was reassuring.  However, he did require surgery on his back and wrist.  A few vertebrae were shattered and his wrist was trashed as well.  I think L2,3 and 4 had pins placed in them.  His wrist needed a plate that was described as looking similar to the cleaning tool of the George Foreman grill.  Funny considering his nickname is Toolman.  His surgeon has a similar plate.  65 stitches.

Terrible photo but I did not feel like running a fullass photoshoot in the hospital.  Because Donnie needed to stay still on his back they fitted him with these special glasses that allowed him to see ahead without sitting up or lifting his head.

His stay at the hospital was about two weeks.  "this ain't a place for healing.  I was motivated to walk out and finish recovery at home," he told us.  So today we rode to his home south of Cumming and paid him a visit.

I needed 23 miles for my goal of 1000 miles for the month.  More importantly, we needed to show him that he was not forgotten.  Mary and I took the fast tandem.  A headwind slowed us down but it was a beautiful day despite the overcast.  One stop at the Cumming Tap for a soda and to send the warning text that we'd be over soon.

Donnie was watching football, Iowa v Maryland.  We latter went to his giant garage for a refreshment and he gave us the tour.  Mary had never been there before.  Toolman is quite appropriate given his vast collection of tools.  I got the honor of changing his calendar given that the month was over.  So long Miss October, hello Miss November.  Later he was heading to a Halloween party.  He considered dressing as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but said he did not know how to do it.  I suggested he go as a Star Wars storm trooper.

A great visit.  Donnie is walking with the assistance of a cane.  He's also looking forward to biking again.  After getting the news of his fall I feared he'd never ride again.  The sun came out as we left and a tailwind jetted us home.  Good times around the corner.  Donnie is back.  Just needs a long winters rest.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015

Another fun bicycle activity from Chasing Mailboxes.  I recommend that you follow her on Twitter.

So here is what this is all about!  Coffeeneuring Challenge 2015 411

Round One

Large Americano
Woke up early to get my haircut.  Had to get there before he opened because he cannot cut hair and talk at the same time.  Took the Dolomite because it the short range weekend bike.  Left the Gomez barber and rode the fattie downtown to Scooters which is across the street from the courthouse.  Safe neighborhood streets, some bike trails and bike lanes.  Safe and friendly.  Bike rack located on south side of establishment.  Unfortunately tons of bird droppings on the tables near the rack.  The only issue is that is a Saturday morning and there are people from the farmers market and Run for the Cure invading downtown.  No real issues with them.
4 miles total

Round Two

The Village Bean
Medium Americano
Took some time to get out of the house this morning.  First breakfast then coffee.  Original motivation was for breakfast tacos at Mullets but the 25 minute wait was more than I was willing to accept.  We gambled that the Village Bean would be open on a Sunday morning..  It opens at 9 am.  Lucked out that breakfast sandwiches are available.  The barista/sammie maker/cashier/only dude working rides his bike everywhere.  Sold his car 6 years ago!  The ride was all streets and bike lanes.  Quiet Sunday morning with the exception of large trucks removing ruble and debris from the demolition of the YMCA earlier that morning.  Despite the trucks there were no issues.  Two bike racks on the corner but I moved our steeds directly in front of the window for the photo.  Mary had a hot chocolate (with lid).
3 miles total

Round Three

Grounds For Celebration
Medium Americano
Chilly morning ride at 49F with sunshine and promise of 70s or 80F later this weekend.  Took our "fast" bikes since this adventure would be a bit further than last weekend.  Because Farmers Market was still raging we opted to ride through the East Village to get to our destination.  Mary likes to avoid the FM crowd.  Despite the presence of and use of bike lanes traffic was a bit busy for a Saturday morning.  Probably people avoiding the farmers market or going there.  We caught the trail at the Botanical Center.  Noticed that work was in full swing on the Neal Smith Trail from the Women of Achievement Bridge to the Botanical Center.  This is good because that section of trail needed to be resurfaced for the last 20 years.  Once on the trail we were able to stay off the streets for the rest of the trip except for crossing intersections and the bike lane for the last mile.  Bicycle friendly it is although mary has been hit twice on the bike lane up Urbandale Ave, people backing out.  GFC is located in "Beaverdale."  We sat outside since our ride and mile + climb, gentle grade, warmed us up a bit.  I also wanted my coffee to cool down a bit to "drinkable" temperature.  Mary had a hot chocolate and we both had microwaved breakfast sandwiches.  On the patio we looked around and decided that there were places to visit to pick up a few items.  A hardware store (door knob) and Back Country Outfitters (headlamp and underwear) were within walking range so we left our steeds locked up to the patio.  We also stopped at Beaverdale Bikes for tubes, $6 per which is an outstanding price these days!  So not only bicycle friendly but useful area/ride.
15.5 miles total

Round Four

Java Joe's
Small Iced Coffee
Planned to get up and be there when they opened at 630 am because it was my turn to Lector at Church at 830 am.  Bed to warm and comfy even with Fritz in between us with the hiccups.  We hit JJ after Church.  Ride was bicycle friendly, 90% streets with one trail.  Even during weekdays it is not a bad ride.  Sunday means empty streets!  No Farmers Market.  Once we opened the door we got hit with a blast of WARM air and had to wait in line.  Lots of kids, too, they even have a kids playroom.  Because it was hot in there I ordered an iced coffee.  Took a big hit on it and filled the remainder with half and half.  Mary had some French vanilla iced coffee.  We consumed them outside because it was too hot inside.  After leaving we rode to Price Choppers to get charcoal.
10 miles total

Round Five

Caribou Coffee, Waukee, Iowa
Medium Iced Coffee
Big day!  Finally was able to put some serious miles in!  In a drought so to say.  The day focused on riding to Waukee, Iowa, to watch our daughter, Dora, compete in the State Marching Band Competition and later the Waukee Invitational.   The route was about as bicycle friendly as it can get.  1/2 mile from our house to the trail and then 16 more all on trail to the coffee shop.  The only bad part of the trail is what essentially is a sidepath that runs along Hickman Rd through Waukee.  Busy, busy 4 lane road with many intersections.  One must constantly check their 7 and 5 o'clocks when crossing the intersection to avoid being murdered by an expensive SUV.  But it is the safest and "friendliest" way to get to the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  The price of riding the bicycle to the trail.  Weaker folk simply drive to the trailhead.
61 miles total

Round Six

Smokey Row
Small Iced Coffee
Due to the Des Moines Marathon and several construction projects in town this was not a bicycle friendly ride but much better on bicycle than in a car.  Detours and construction sites and as such traffic was forced into places that would and should have been empty on a Sunday morning.  However, we did find a safer and fast route home with minimal traffic and detours and it was mostly downhill.
7 miles total

Round Seven

Coffee Shop Without Walls
Hot Chocolate
I was very intrigued with this one.  One problem.  I do not own a portable or camping stove.  A MSR Whisper Lite has been on my list for a while but other issues have taken that coin.  So I built my own.  I used a Sterno cannister, enchilada sauce can, 4 Barefoot Wine corks and an old Mr Coffee pot.  To expedite time I boiled water at home and ferried it over to the C w/o W.  I chose Swiss Miss since we had that home already.  The location is on the north shore of the Green Bridge (Jackson St Bridge) which is closed right now awaiting repairs.  This is a historic bridge that has been a popular pedestrian bridge for several years until it was deemed a "danger."  Very bicycle friendly route to this place.  A mere 1/2 mile of residential streets where people are expecting to see bicycles since a popular trail intersects it.  Then the other 1/2 mile is trail.
2 miles total

The stove in operation

Century Complete

The key to a century is a deadline.  Mine was 230 pm.  Not that I had to have 100 miles by then.  I needed to have at least 82 by that time when Mary would be finished with her conference and we would ride the 18 miles together back home.

Another key to a century is adequate sleep the night before.  We went to bed after midnight.  The alarm went off at 345 am.  Mary had to be there by 730 am and we would want breakfast.  There was a moment that we almost just screw the breakfast in favor for more sleep but we got rolling anyway.  Asses on bike seats about 10 minutes later than our Monday through Friday gig.

Also it is important to prep the bike before going to bed the night before.  I did not.  Failed to put the NiteRiders on.  Failed to air up the tires.  All that waited until the morning cutting into sleep and breakfast time.  Worse yet, in my haste to mount the lights I ripped the rubber band that holds it to the handlebar.  No uberlights today, just the wonderful AAs and headlamps which are generally good enough anyway. Time to send money off to NiteRider for a new set of bands.  Fortunately, we still have the ones that work on our commuters.

Good weather is essential for a quality century.  The rain stopped but the wind picked up.  The wind was very strong from the northwest or the direction that we were heading.  I just put my hands in the drops and kept my my head down.  That's all about anyone can do except for switching to a recumbent.  But once we got into the wood areas of the trail we had respite from the wind.  The stretches from Mullets to Water Works Park, 3.5 miles and from Hickman Rd to Warrior Lane.  And then a headwind all the way to my turn around point north of Panora.

As for the temperature, it was on the low side of perfect.  That meant that all the warmth clothing could easily be shed and stowed away.  Said warmth layers were gloves, headband and jacket.  The first 2 items in my jersey pocket and the jacket in my Camelback sans water bladder.  Also in the Camelback were a pump, tube, levers cash, meds and bike lock.  I kepted a PowerBar in my jersey pocket.

Despite the wind we made it to Waukee Hy Vee with over an hour to spare.  The Market Grille was ope so we enjoyed a meal before going to the middle school for her conference.  Mary laughed as I stood at our table pulling all my stuff out of my pockets and stripping a layer or two but I felt an urge to organize and assess.  Our waitress was friendly and efficient and obliviously had more sleep than we had.  Mary had some sort of egg mess skillet thing with giant toast and I had a bagel with cheese and sausage.  We shared her toast and I placed gravy on mine.  Coffee and several glasses of water.  Gravy instead of jelly.  Not bad.  Not sure what Mary ordered that required gravy but she did not use it.

Afterwards we did the quick jaunt to the middle school and parted ways.  The luxury of a bicycle rack was present and there was one bike on it when we pulled up.  From the school I took the local trail that hooks up with the Raccoon River Valley Trail at the intersection of Hickman Rd and Shottenkirk Chevy dealership.  The RRVT would be my home for the next 60+ miles.

The decision on direction had to be made now.  North or South Loop?  Originally I planned to ride to Adel then go home.  Then Redfield.  But after looking at my bike log I saw that I could get 1000 miles for the month if I put a little effort into it.  Thus a 70 mile day or a century.  So then do I do the Loop?  The North Loop was dismissed almost immediately.  my desire to see Adel and Redfield prevailed plus the lack of wind protection form Waukee to Perry was the final strike.  In 3.5 miles I'd be in the trees east of Adel and loving it.  Time to grab the drops and put my head down.  Surely the trail will be empty on such a cold and windy morning.

The trail was not.  One group of 6 or 3 road bikes greeted me as I passed the trailhead.  Early risers who must love to ride in the dark, the uberlit bikes in front and the guy without lights on the back.  Then I kept seeing a red flasher in front of me way off in the distance.  I caught up with the red flasher at Ortonville.  Two guys who were to have started at 530 am from Water Works were stopped adjusting their bikes.  Small world.  Surly's with rear bags.  We rode together and chatted.  They were doing the loop hoping to get 100 miles in.  I assured them that they would.  But after we entered the canopy of fall foliage I had to stop and take a photo.  It was so beautiful that I wished Mary was with me to see it and I knew that I picked the right direction.

Adel was Adel.  Although an oasis on the trail I had no need for its services.  As usual, I got stuck at the highway intersection by the slow parade of vehicles each perfectly timed to prevent me from crossing.  The intersections for the most part were as bumpy as ever with large drop offs from the road to the trail.  On a brighter note, Patrick's was open and gave me an idea for some future  breakfast trip.  Once out of that town the 8.5 miles to Redfield were completely enjoyable despite a few gravel intersections.

Patriot Rock in Adel.  For the veteran's post and painted by art students

In Redfield the bikes that I was following split to the south to hit the Casey's.  I stopped at the old depot and used the restroom.  There is a now a charging station for phones and other electronics.  Cords provided.  I did not need them.

Heading north I was protected from the wind by the trees.  The trail was completely covered with leaves.  Beautiful sight despite the occasional stick or walnut.  Found that my speed was better climbing than it was on the flat heading to Redfield until I hit open spots.

After Linden, the high point of the trail, I noticed that the surface is a bit rough.  True, the concrete trail was not cracked or broken but it had settled and a thump thump between squares was noticeable by my 700x23s.  Asphalt is smoother but falls apart much quicker.  Sure, ride fatter tires.

Panora was reached at the 48.6 point in my ride.  I truly had no desire to ride the loop.  11 miles to Herdon would be a slow painful ride in the wind.  I decided to ride further north for a mile or two and turn back.  It occurred to me that I should have 100 miles before reaching Confluence Brewery on the way home.  It was their 3rd anniversary and I wanted a real reason to celebrate.

Panora is home to the Owl's Nest tavern.  This is one of the few places where one can do the Busch Light Trifecta--enjoy that brew in all 3 forms, bottle, can and draft.  There is a sidepath from the trailhead on highway 44 to downtown Panora on the same  side of the road as that bar.  Unfortunately for me the bar was closed at 10 am.  I went to Subway instead and got food.

Now with the tail wind I thought I'd be able to rocket my way back.  but the sun was out and in my face and the debris on the trail hid the sticks and other dangers.  Still it was easier than heading north or west.  Stopped at the depot in Redfield and found it open.  Purchased a Gatorade from the woman and two daughters working concessions.  They said I was their second customer.  The wind, I thought, kept people home.

My speed picked up on the way home raising the dead average speed that was murdered by the headwind..  When I back to Waukee I had time to head northwest toward Dallas Center to ensure I had padded my miles sufficiently.  I stopped at the memorial for the recumbent rider and then turned around and employed the jets.  Damn, this was a fast stretch!  20+ without effort!

By 2:06 I was at the park near the school awaiting a text from Mary.  Beat the deadline!  This provided time to delete photos for more memory space or so I thought.  Mary was out early and I met her at the school.  Time to go home.  86 miles already.

She was hungry because her lunch was poor.  Last week when we came up for the marching band competition we ate at Taco Johns who gave us a $2 off coupon as an apology for slow service.  I suggested we use it now.  Last week we asked for 2 medium drinks but got an upgrade to large since they were out of cups.  exactly a week later they were still out of medium cups!  Someone screwed up.

Something happened to her bike and the front tire was coming off and hitting the brake or fork.  I let some air out to get the tire to seat properly.  Later I used the pump to prevent a pinch flat.  Glad I carried it with us.  We had no desire to backtrack 2 miles to the fixtation at the Waukee trailhead.

The trip homeward was fast.  We scared the crap out of two tri-bents with mirrors and they almost collided with each other when I announced our presence and desire to pass.  It's not like zoomed and boomed them as we did adequately and politely slowed down for them.  they were just too deep in their side by side conversation to check their 4 mirrors.

I hit the century mark shortly before the Art Center turn on the Bill Riley/Walnut Creek trail(s).  Two city trucks were still there monitoring the sewer main break.  103 miles when we rolled into Confluence.

The 2 Hour One and Done

That's what I said, just a one and done and get home.  The children were beginning to squawk.  Dora had a party to attend and Timmy had a new phone to set up.  His old one is on the bottom of the river.  And he had a dinner date.  Mary and I are experts at switching phones, the children are not.  As stated, it was a one and done at Confluence.  Mary had the Bridge Builder and I the Beaverdale Brick.  We talked to Tom Jefferies while enjoying our bevies.  Then we left.  just one beer each.

When we hit the curve on the southeast corner of the lake we saw a girl on her back on the trail.  3 people seemed to be attending her.  It was Cat Carr and Greg from Team De Kalb.  "Stop for a cocktail!"  And so we did at Timmy's expense.  Honestly, I needed the Jager and Red Bull.  It was a magic can of Red Bull because despite how many times it went around it got heavier.  Cat told Greg that there was another can thus no need to continue dumping Jager in this one but Greg refused.  Eventually the flask went around.  And then everyone got a tall boy.  Amy was ok, just a a few abrasions on her knee.  But her rescue squad was questionable.  Greg tripped over his own bike, tumbled and landed on his back WITHOUT spilling his beer.  Amazing feat!  A perfectly timed phone call from Timmy pulled us out as I finished my beer.  "Sorry but reality calls."

Mary gave me the evil glare of wedded anger.  "One and done lasted two hours!"

Timmy messed up the new phone.  Took a half an hour to resolve the issue and get it going.  He went out to eat while Mary fixed it.  As for me, I opened a bottle of Yellow Tail Riesling and immediately regretted it.  Terrible finish to a wonder day.  Century complete and I still felt good and strong.  We took the slow bikes to Mullets for dinner and then rode home.  By 9 pm I was ready for bed.  Energy totally gone.  Big chunk of miles needed for the 1K October bit with fury.  I slept well.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Flight to Waukee on the Fast Tandem


Been quite sometime since we put on significant miles on a weekend.  Even longer since we rode our fast tandem.  The only obligation was to attend the State Marching Band Competition and later the Waukee Marching Band Invitational both of which our daughter, Dora, was participating.  Fortunately, both were held at the same location, Waukee HS football field.

We considered taking the touring tandem because it was going to be seasonably colder and that bike has panniers.  But after staring at the forecast it was decided that we would not really need to carry extra clothing.  Besides, I never did get faster tires for this beast and its slowness during Ragbrai still haunts me.  So I pulled the Cannondale RT3000 out of its slumber, cobwebs and all, aired the tires, placed some basic lights on it and called it good.  The plan was that we could return home and add extra lights and warmer clothes if needed.

If there ever was a time to set a speed record through the Clive Greenbelt Saturday would have been it.  The bike carved the turns and curves up like a hot knife through butter!  Such a change of pace from the pre-dawn hours that we ride through here Monday through Friday.  Despite a wonder average speed we were a bit late.

Problem #2 was that forgot to hit the bank.  Of course, my bank and its ATMs have no locations in Waukee, Adel, Dallas Center or anywhere along the Raccoon River Valley Trail.   Being the cheap person I am we rode 6 miles back to West Des Moines and hit my bank.  Then 6 miles back to Waukee and the trail.

$7900 for the VW $3400 for the Chevy

Other business was attended to.  I needed a photo of "something for sale" for the Bicycle Ride and Seek page on FaceBook.  A VW bug with eyelashes and a smile and a "for sale" sign presented itself for that photo.  Needed to visit a coffee shop for the Coffeeneuring Challenge so we stopped at Caribou Coffee right off the trail.  Then a bit of trail riding.

Lincoln HS Marching Rails

With over an hour left until Dora's next performance we stopped at Hy Vee's Market Grille for a beer and a chance to watch some college football.  $3 pints of local craft beer during College GameDay.  Dangerous.  We did witness live the last 10 seconds of the Michigan-Michigan State game and the dropped ball ran in for the game winning touchdown.  And I will say this, ISU was holding their own against TCU while we were watching.

Finally arriving at the band competition we were blessed with a number of very good high school marching bands.  Dora's band, Des Moines Lincoln HS,  played 4 selections from Elton john--Funeral for a Friend, Love Lies Bleeding, Your Song and Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting.  She plays a large bass drum and had a triangle solo during your Song.

Riding home proved to be a challenge.  First of all, I only had my prescription sunglasses.  Secondly, only had a crappy AA front light.  The greenbelt would be a dark twisty nightmare.  Needless to say, we took it slow, killed our average speed and perhaps rolled off the trail 3 times.  We never crashed or had to stop but I was glad to reach the lights of the trail near Gray's Lake.  Lesson learned.  Always put on the good lights and always take my regular glasses.

61 miles.  Felt great to ride that bike again.  The last time we had it out was in June.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

It Finally Happened

Flat tire on my most complicated bicycle.  not a simple quick release on wheel and brakes and get it back on in 2 to 5 minutes.  Nope.  Had to happen on the rear wheel of a bike with a Nexus 7 speed internal hub and roller (drum brakes).  Tools required.  Specifically, a 15 and a 10mm wrench.  And the dreaded releasing and reconnecting of the shifter cable.  That's the main problem.  The little damn cable that needs to be placed into the slot just perfectly.  But first the slot needs to be pushed forward.  I had to use a wrench to push it.

Just above the axle bolt on the out side of the sprocket the end of the shifter cable is showing.

3 things going for me today.
1. I had all the stuff--wrenches, tub, levers and pump
2. This happened at work.  Bike fixtation with pump next to bike rack
3. Spent time with the bike shop mechanic going over this shit

The latter is probably the most important.  If you can watch them do their magic you may just pick up the knowledge you need for such situations.  With my high tech wunderbike I had to ask how to remove the wheel, how to properly place the lock ring if it got loose.  But the best trick I learned was to lower the tension on the shifter cable before attempting to reattach the cable to the hub.  Sure, I spent the ride home fine tuning the shifting but I got the bastard back together.

Now time to purchase new tires.  I have 2000 miles on the rear tire, 3600 on the front.  The rear is looking a bit worn.  Apparently it was not thick enough to stop a tiny bit of wire from puncturing the tube.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Schneider Theory

Schneider's Law: when approaching a slower moving vehicle at optimal cruising speed an other slower vehicle will appear in the opposite lane and prevent you from passing until your speed has been significantly reduced and your time wasted

One of my best friends from high school is Joe Schneider.  He had one of those GM pre-front wheel drive sporty econo boxes.  Pontiac Sunfire or Chevy Monza.  I forget which one.  Sort of their attempt to steal Mustang II buyers.  Anyway, whenever he drove out on the highway, usually a 2 lane, we would notice that the only time we'd encounter a vehicle that needed to be passed was in a a no passing zone or when vehicles were in the opposite lane.  Hence, Schneider's Law of Passing.

For some reason this stuck in my melon.  I don't drive very often but I ride bikes everywhere and I noticed that his law of passing applies to bike paths and trails.  Especially after work.  Especially from May through October on the Bill Riley Trail.  I do not ride the trail around Gray's Lake until winter because of it.  I'm not bitching, just making an observation.  It's good to see people on the trails.  Better than in car on the streets.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ticker Update

Just to let you know that I am still alive and bicycling.  Through the miracle of chemicals i was able to get my blood pressure to normal and safe levels.  My doctor said that I was cured which is bullshit because I am still on 3 pills per day.  But he said not to come back for a year.

I am feeling a lot better.  Never knew I was not feeling well until I got better.  I am down 10 lbs since this ordeal began.  Mary says my snoring has decreased.  I cancelled the CPAC test because I do not want to sleep while connected to a machine.  Fook that crap, homey.

Most importantly, I started to feel sore muscles in my legs.  That means that I am actually pushing myself and building strength and muscles.  Weird that I never noticed that before.  My commute times have improved.  Average speed is up.  I even added 3 extra miles to the morning ride.

My climbing ability has improved.  I no longer feel like I am breathing sand.  Still prefer a road bike over the Soho commuter but I don't always have a choice.

I was never able to take the stress test.  They told me not to take my beta blocker that morning.  After riding the carbon 19 miles to Iowa heart in Ankeny they said my BP was too high to take the test because the treadmill would "raise my blood pressure."  Next time I'll take the bastard.  I did, however, have the echocardiogram done on my heart.  Yes, I got to see my heart in action and hear it at times, too.  But she would not let me video it.  But at least I got to see my aorta valve in action.

Still have heart palpitations.  Still learning how to control them.  Arguments seem to be an issue.   Control thy anger.  I may not possess enough mental capacity to do that but have no desire to get a grip on it through drugs.

Next goal is to spend 2 weeks backpacking through the Sangre Cristo range of the Rookies in New Mexico with my friends.  First I got to drop another 20 lbs and pass the training regime.  At least I am not the only fat fooker in this group.  Great motivation.  I hope my heart can handle 13 stories of stairs in 6 round increments for that is our training.