Monday, June 22, 2015

Remembering an old bike

I stopped for a shot of espresso at Ride Studio Cafe towards the end of my Saturday early morning ride and saw this Trek 520 touring bike in the shop.  I first heard about this bike on Hub Bicycles' twitter feed - a 31 year old bike with miles still to come, many miles.  Emily built up new wheels, including a dynamo front wheel, and now Joe, the owner was adding a dynamo headlight.  He is also looking at racks for his first tour on this bike and future randonneuring events.  I shared his enthusiasm for this bike.

I happened to buy this exact model, a 1984 Trek 520, in early 1985 in preparation for a 2000 mile tour from southern Vermont to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and back.  That bike also carried me around New England on a going away tour (before moving to the midwest), across Colorado on the Adventure Bicycling route, around the Olympics, including a couple of camping trips with the bike hidden in the forest, around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, and a host of shorter trips in Wisconsin and around New England.  If my experience is any indication, Joe will have a lot of fun on his bike.

So, you might ask, what happened to my 520? I no longer have it. It was, unfortunately, badly sized for me (22.5 inch seat tube, which is too big for me), something I noticed when I bought my first racing/road bike, in 1997.  I did my last tour on it on Labor Day weekend in 2001, riding east from Machias to Lubec, Maine with a friend.  It saw use as some friends, visiting for extended times from other countries, needed a bike and was last used by a friend visiting from the UK, who set her best time in a triathlon with the 520, averaging 20 MPH, something I never managed on it.  And it was too big for her as well.  After that triathlon I donated it to Bikes Not Bombs and maybe someone is still riding it.

My version of Caitlin Giddings's early AM primer

I saw Molly Hurford's link to Caitlin Giddings's Bicycling article about ways to make riding in the morning easier.    My riding time is dictated by my family obligations and there is very little wiggle room, with most time slots very early in the day (say 5AM).  As a frequent early morning rider, I was definitely interested in what she had to say.  The article was fairly accurate for me.  My comments follows Caitlin's headings below:

1) Lay out your clothing and gear the night before. Yes! And I leave everything in the basement and change  there, hoping that everyone stays asleep while I sneak out of the house.  I once left socks upstairs and rather than going upstairs and waking up my boys (and consequently skipping my ride) I rode without socks - sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  A couple of weeks ago while getting my bike ready, I forgot to put the pump on the frame and didn't notice until I was back home.  I rode 50 miles, much of it with no one around and no gas station open, so I was happy that I didn't get a flat.  Moral of the story: get everything ready when you are awake.

2) Dial in your coffee.  No. I can't afford to wake anyone up so I always pass on coffee.  And  I get away early in part by dialing in my wife's coffee so she just has to turn on the burner for the moka pot.  This makes her happier to see me when our young boys are running her ragged at 9 and I just rode 50 or 60 miles.

3) Make plans to meet a buddy.  No. I don't have many friends who think riding at 5 AM is worth it. One friend joined me for a few early AM rides but he quickly lost interest. I remember my first ride without him.  I saw his buddy waiting for him on my way back into town.  He needed that extra 2 hours and more - he was still late, I heard later.

4) Have a ride plan.  Yes.  I usually have a route planned out and will have the course in my Garmin, if there are turns I'm unsure about. There is something more risky about being on the road early, especially when 5 AM means 2 hours until sunrise late in the year.  So I manage that risk somewhat by knowing my plan in advance.  And, yes, I have gone out in light rain when I planned a ride.  What else will I do when I'm already awake at 4:30?

5) Don't hit snooze.  Does my alarm clock even have a snooze button?

6) Don't check email.  No. I will check email and check the weather and read the news for 20 minutes.  I have to wake up some before I get on a bike.  But set an alarm so you don't get lost in it because that's possible.

7) Consider skipping breakfast. Yes, always. Making breakfast and eating it gives me more chances of waking up my boys, which would cancel my ride.  A couple of years ago a friend visiting from Norway stayed over so we could get an early start on a ride.  But she couldn't do without breakfast and we did wake up the boys.  (We made it up to my wife by taking them bowling in the afternoon.)  Usually I will just grab more bars if I am heading out for 60 miles and hope to stop for a more substantial snack if the timing is good.  Yes, it is pushing it to ride for 60 miles before breakfast so I try to have a bigger dinner the evening before a planned longer ride.  I often won't even eat a bar on a 25-30 mile before work ride.

8) Bask in the smugness that comes with being a "morning person." Guilty as charged. That said, I wish I could go latter in the day when my muscles are fully awake.  Dawn and dusk are often the most beautiful parts of the day but riding with companions is better than riding alone and finding company is more likely for me if I go at a more reasonable hour.  But riding early is far better than not riding.

9) Stick with it and make a habit.  Yes.  For a few decades I was a morning runner (and will be again). Once in the habit of waking up early and finding time, you will never go back.  And you probably won't find time during the rest of the day, if your schedule is anything like mine.

10) It was not suggested in the article but have lights.  Even this weekend, on a ride starting at 5:30 AM, half an hour after sunrise, I had my lights blazing - dyno front and rear lights and a flashing red in back to alert drivers that aren't expecting anyone up at that hour.

And, yes, getting exercise early does lead to a more relaxing day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Decisions made

Last week Rob Vandermark contacted me, wondering if I would be interested in the shorter version of the DUTODARI after having participated in one of the late evening equipment test rides.  Here is my reply:

"I did see the short option and it is much more appealing to me.  I don't think I have the legs for a long ride right now, or in a couple of weeks.  One bigger concern, that my wife shares, is me riding alone for the night.  I'd love to find a group that I could be compatible with but realize that would be hard to find.  While I really enjoyed the ride a couple of weeks ago, I also saw that that group was faster than me and while I more or less successfully hung on, I certainly couldn't do it for the full ride and very likely not even for the shorter, camp out version.  The other more pedestrian concern is the expensive GPS.  I bought the inexpensive Garmin for Highpoint and think that was a good idea for that ride and have enjoyed having it since.  The 1000 is just beyond my means right now. I do think a Garmin with a map is the right decision for the ride but having one is not priority other riding that I may do.

So the short answer is that unless I come up with a team I'm very unlikely to join the ride.  I do think it's a great idea and a great deal but not for me this summer.  By the way, I believe I had contact with a little poison ivy on the ride, at least I have some major itching on my legs.  The sad story is that I have otherwise not been allergic all my life - I walked through patches poison ivy many times. I guess I have had too much exposure.  So life goes."

And that's that.  It really is a great idea for a ride, at least one that resonates with me, but I have to be realistic.  I just don't get out all that much.  I think I rode about 240 miles in the last couple of weeks: 2 early Sunday 50 milers at a relaxed pace (just over 15 MPH averages) and the rest commuting miles.  I'm going for some more early AM work day rides but those aren't always possible with my wife's new schedule.  In any case, I'm about out of time for this year's version of the ride.  But there is always next year.

Oh, and that poison ivy thing ... what a bummer.  I once was impervious and walked through waist high patches of the stuff and through poison oak.  But no more.