Saturday, April 30, 2016

Taking the Silver Machine to Grinnell

September 19, 2008

Press the video button the scroll down and read.

Been thinking about one of the greatest rides I ever rode.  Newton to Grinnell on a beautiful September night.  Perfect weather, perfect riding partners, perfect attitude.  Bad new resurfaced road and a giant blood red harvest moon plus a destination of all encompassing awesomeness.  We had loaded touring bikes and no cares in the world.

Long day at work until I could throw the 520 in back of the F150 and drive to Altoona and pick up Eric Crabb and his 520.  Then the drive to Newton to Shawn's house where we unloaded and took off on bikes.  Well, sat around and drank beer and then left for a bar.  Someone else whose name escapes me joined us.  He had a Cannondale racer pulling a Bob Trailer. IIRC Shawn's parents owned the bar and he had a shedload of drink tickets.

After nearly consuming our fill and making sure it was dark out, we headed out for the road.  A quick stop at a big box store for batteries for the CycleSound and to adjust the front pannier that fell off my bike were the only delays.  Crabby was very concerned about the pannier since a similar incident nearly killed him.

Finally we hit highway 6.  The road was just resurfaced and striped.  Smooth black asphalt and fresh painted lines all illuminated by a giant red/orange moon.  Picture perfect!.  Smoke from a bonfire drifted occasionally across the highway adding to the mood.  Autumn in Iowa on an empty highway.  Does not get much better than this for a night ride.

Barely 3 miles out of town, on top of a hill Shawn and Eric pull off at the farm house that was the source of the bonfire.  "We know the people that used to live here," said Shawn.  "I bet these people party, too.  We stopped here last year."

Well we did not know these people, two young men throwing logs into a large fire but they did not mind us dropping in and sharing a beer or two.  They gave us a bag of jerky before we left.  Two or three beer stop.  Eventually we resumed eastward.

Just an empty highway lit up by a giant moon.  Our next stop would be in Kellogg.  I think we hit both bars but preferred the one lower on the hill.  Only stayed for two and then walked out to the bikes and had a bike beer.  Just as we were leaving a local hippy chick with an old man walked past and flashed us her boobies as she bid us farewell.  She had been friendly to us when we were inside.  I wont be too descriptive but Crabby put it best when he said "it was like two pepperonis and some bacon."

Back on the road was good riding until I noticed that the ass end of my bike felt a bit loose on curves.  Sure enough I had a flat tire.  Everyone stopped and opened a beer.  The dude with the Cannondale and Bob produced a floor pump.  Wow, that saved time.  Two beers and we were rolling again.  Never ever put 28s on a touring bike.  32s are much better.

Oakland Acres was the next stop.  I have a fondness for this place dated back to The Ragbrai 1991.  That was my first Ragbrai.  Somehow this golf course is noted on Iowa maps as a town.  We sat in parked golf carts and Shawn poured us Moscow Mules.  We were almost to Grinnell.  Like an idiot I left the copper cup Shawn loaned me on the golf cart.  Fortunately, it was still there when we rode back in the morning.

Eventually we reached Grinnell and the park where people were staying for the Fall Equinox Ride.  IIRC, Human Bike In and Fall Equinox Ride all blend together, Stretch was still awake.  We must have rolled in at 1 am.  Sleep was not on our agenda at that moment.  Set up tent and have another beer among friends in preparation for tomorrow's adventure.  It would be another great ride but as they say the journey is the best part.

Crabby, get your fat ass back on your bike.  We need to do things like this again.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Returning to the Scene of the Crime: Health Update

It's been 11 months since I visited mercy West Walk In Clinic.  Last time I was there I went in for bronchitis and/or exercise induced asthma.  I was one sick puppy.  It hurt my lungs to ride up hills.  That day I was on a Campy carbon fiber bike and I hated the pathetic excuse of a hill from the swimming hole to the clinic.  It was there I learned that my BP was out of control, dangerously out of control.  And BTW I had bronchitis and pink eye caused by said respiratory illness.  This reinforced my avoidance of doctors.

Well it has been a miserable 10 days.  What started out as possible Spring allergy turned into never ending coughing and spitting out brown phlegm.  In addition to that, a few days after sneezing began I somehow torked my right ankle.  I forget what exactly happened except that I was home and it did not hurt that bad but I knew there would be great sorrow when I woke up.  Sure enough the foot locked up on me and hurt like hell in the morning and I was limping like I had stepped on a landmine.  Normally for both issues I let it ride for a week and wait for signs of improvement.  None.  A week later I am worse.  Time to bite the bullet and see a doctor.

This time I am on a single speed bike which needs a bigger cog.  The 16T is a bit too tall for me. I would like a 20T for spin and hills.  If I wanted a Go Fast Bike I'd ride one of my roadies.  So I know the drill.  They will take my BP when I get to exam room.  My name and high BP sets off alarms.  But I got a trick:  wait outside for 15 minutes to relax and return the BP to normal.  After all, I rode a single speed bike to the clinic.  Sure enough, the nurse mentions that my BP was extremely high a year ago but this time it was good, 124/75, better that the 179/120 or whatever.  It probably would have been lower if I was not nervous about them taking it.  Should have dropped another Metoporol an hour before this encounter.  Should have dropped 20 lbs since last year.....

Lungs first.  Should have heard the wheezing when the stethoscope was placed on me.  She said since I had this cough for a week without improvement then it was not viral and therefore bronchitis.  Antibiotics prescribed.  Since I have had a lot of drugs this year my prescriptions are free now!  First time ever I met a deductible!!

The foot.  X-rays.  I look down and it is glowing green right now.  They will call tomorrow.  But the more I think about it now I wonder if the pad between the leg bone and the foot bone has worn out or messed up.  For good measure I suggested gout so I got to do a gout blood test.  Since I have BP and heart issues anti-inflammatory is not advised.  I got nothing.  Should have moaned when she touched the foot searching for the trouble maker.  Rule #1 ALWAYS OVERDRAMATISIZE THE PAIN.  I seem to forget this rule.

That being said, my foot hurts when I wake up, totally stiff and painful.  I almost need a cane.  Somehow it does not hurt when I ride.  Well, if I clipped into pedals it would be a bitch but the Vanquish has platform pedals.  I usually swallow 4 Aleve and put on high tops.  Seriously, I could ride a century without issue, a little soreness yes, but ask me to walk a half mile and I would drop to the ground curl up and cry.

Waiting for the phone call...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fools Ride 2016

Outside the starting bar.  When we got back this sign was inside.  It was windy!

I almost thought that the 2016 edition of the Fools Ride was not going to happen.  The organizers of this free bicycle adventure were deadly silent on social media and the BikeIowa page until almost the end.  Team Cornpone and Team Jet Fuel host and promote the ride but do not sponsor it.  Always the first Saturday of April this ride is a 24 mile adventure from La Porte City to Brandon, Iowa, and back along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail on the banks of the beautiful Cedar River.  In September they start the ride in Brandon and ride to LPC and back and call it the Sloof Ride.

This would be my third attendance and Colin's as well.  The last time for both of us was in 2014.  Mary was unable to attend but my son Joe made his debut.  To our heartbreak, Dave Hatcher had to work this weekend and was unable to join the festivities.  He usually hosts us and prepares a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning.  Mikey was unable to join us either.  He was missed as well.  Because of Dave's absence we planned to camp at the gazebo along the trail in LPC.  Mary and I camped there once during our IARBGAR adventure.

I don't recall the time we arrived at LPC.  I know it felt late.  The Saris 3 bike rack was still at my daughter's home and had to be picked up and reconfigured to be placed on a Ford Explorer.  Normally, it rests on a Toyota Corolla.  I was running behind anyway due to wayward distractions with friends south of County Line Rd Friday night.  But there were a lot of bicycles in front of P n B's Brew Pub in La Porte City.

As expected, most of the riders were locals although we met some people from Iowa City and Wisconsin (from the area originally).  I was a little disappointed that Des Moines only fielded 3 participants.  You must do this ride one year.  Perhaps the wind was a huge deterrence or the Gents Ride.  Teams were present.  Team Bedwetters had yellow shirts, The Bullfrogs, from LPC, were donned in black but they only do this ride and the Sloof Ride.  There was a Melonhead and a Diehard and somebody with Shamu representing the late great Jeff Logan (RIP).

More unpretentious bicycles.  Butts on bikes!

Bicycles varied. The trail surfaced is crushed limestone.  Road bikes could handle it but are the best choice.  they have had a lot of rain last week and it was evident from the standing water in the low spots that bordered the trail in many places.  The Cedar was also almost bank full.  More fat bikes than in 2014 albeit I left mine at home.  Mostly crossbikes (hybrids), MTBs, touring bikes and department store bikes.  Someone even rode a BMX!  I really do not recall seeing a pure roadie although some people dressed the part.  At least one rider pulled a trailer full of beer.

One of the few rides that one sees and expensive bike near a department store bike.  If it gets butts on bikes and people outside and riding I am happy.  4 mid aged women rode Roadmasters, Huffy's and Nexts on this ride and enjoyed themselves!

As for us, Colin brought his Bruce Gordon BLT touring rig, Joe his Mercier roadie with 700x32s for tires.  I was impressed that we could get wider tires on that bike.  My Gravity Vanquish single speed cyclocross bike carried me.  Its Salsa Anything cages that held the stainless steel growlers became the focus of many conversations. and I did point out that there were fatbikes here with similar fork mounted cages.  Colin told people that the growlers were milk cans.

Heaven forbid I have a photo of the three of us but I did take a photo of our three bikes.

We made several stops along the way to socialize and consume some of our refreshing beverages.  Colin brought 9 cans, I brought 2 growlers from Confluence and stopped at the supermarket in LPC for a 6 of tallboys.  I brought back almost half a growler and all 6 of the tallboys.  Not sure how much Colin brought back.  So  much for jihad on sobriety.  Most people carried something and one woman handed Colin a margarita which consisted of ice and tequila only.

My milk cans!

It was a very windy day but sunny.  The clerk at the Dysart Casey's said that the wind was to die down at 5 pm.  Well, wind usually calms down at sunset but we planned to leave Brandon after 5 pm anyway.  We had a tailwind of sorts pushing us to Brandon but could hear it howling all around us.  Lots of sticks on the trail and a few dangerously hanging dead trees waiting for a windy day to push them down onto the ground were seen above the trail.  The half way point was the old rock quarry.  Many bikes fell over because of the wind.  That was funny.

A clip of the Bryce Janey Band with Sketter Lewis in 2014.

The Bryce Janey Band was playing at Phat Albert's in Brandon.  No cover charge.  Usually the band performs in the beer garden but due to the wind and the cold they played in a very crowded bar.  In 2014 I filmed the band playing with guest singer Skeeter Jones but this time I failed to bring my spy camera for such purposes.  Not that my recording was any good but it conveys the greatness of the band.  Food was available as well as the music and beer.  Joe and I had everything on the menu: burger, brat and chips.  We later had another brought before leaving.

More Bryce Janey with our foolish discussion of shoes back in 2014.  For historic purposes only.

I noticed that these pebbles, rocks, sand and rock fragments landed on top of my bags.  I know I know, fenders would probably prevent this but this bike will see many changes in tire sizes

We left before sunset and the wind was not as bad as it was earlier.  The sky was dotted with purple clouds.  We had lights and were prepared for a night ride.  This time Colin did not crash in front of the local cop.  P n B's was kicking with the country band Wild Card and non-biking locals joined in the fun.  Some woman rolled her ankle and was carried out by two men to her SAG vehicle.  Bummer, Pulled pork sandwiches were available, too.  Personally, I was still full from Brandon and not feeling the best from a day of eating poorly....Casey's pizza, burger, brats, chips ect.  We stayed for one beer and decided that we should just drive home instead of camping.  It was 34F outside.  As we reached the truck the local cop drove by.  Colin did not fall off his bike and we did not receive the shakedown.  Honestly, we were the most sober we had ever been on this ride especially the driver.

Just because the driver is sober does not guarantee a good ride to or fro.  The Explorer is a high profile vehicle and was tossed around like a wooden ship on the high seas on the way up.  What was the wind?  25 to 30 sustained from the northwest.  Gusts up to 50 mph.  On the way back it was better BUT>>>>a tire blew out somewhere between La Porte City and Dysart on highway 8.  We had a spare wheel, a jack and 3 men, two of which are very experience in changing flat tires.  Unfortunately, none of us were experienced in removing the spare wheel from its place underneath the back of an Explorer.  Colin drives a Ranger which is almost the same vehicle and year with the spare in the same location and he could not get the wheel off.  We thought the nut was rusted on and had to be broken off.  It would not move. We took turns trying to break the bastard to release the wheel.  No joy.  Giving up we tried to call a towing service to come out and help.  The one we called wanted $500 for a tow!  NOPE!!  We called the former owner of the vehicle, well, his father and our friend Keith, to ask about it and to look up phone numbers for towing services.  We were on the edge of our data service.  Keith had no clue about wheel extraction but provided us with a phone number.

Then a truck stopped and a man and his young son stopped.  He looked underneath at the project and determined that we would not be able to bust it off with the tools we had and his clippers.  Although unfamiliar with the Ford, they were in a white Chevy, the kid said that there should be a small hole in back where the jack handle goes in to crank the wheel down.  Wow!  simple solution!  He even went home to retrieve his floor jack to aide the wheel swap!  Angels don't exist you say.  Yes they do!  Rolling again without further incident.

Well, maybe one other incident.  Back in Capital City closing in on Colin's home we drove past Scores Sports Bar on Hickman Rd in time to see all the patrons drive away like rats fleeing a sinking ship and at least 5 police vehicles in the parking lot and others on the way.  So damn immune to shots fired at local bars we almost laughed.  WTF is wrong with people?  Moments earlier before we saw the situation we joked about the need to be packing and wearing Kevlar before entering certain establishments in case people were conducting "business."  Waiting for the news on this.  It was 130 am.

Another successful Fools Ride.  Looking forward to 2017.  I hope you will join us.