Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Day in the Rain

It was raining today. And it was cold. It seemed to be the perfect day to check out my rain gear/techniques/attitude. And believe me, all three are important if you want to excel at long distance cycling.

I decided to ride Zeke down to Tunnel Hill, then take the bike trail to Harrisburg, after which I would ride back home. It should be a great day! Nearly 70 miles with about half of that on the road, half on the trail, and ALL of it in the rain.

I recently purchased a new rain coat. I already have one of the clear ones (the plastic kind) which keeps the rain out but allows the inside to become sort of a makeshift sauna. I also have a BellWeather nylon jacket which keeps some of the rain out (as long as it's not much more than a light drizzle) and doesn't completely soak me inside with my own sweat. I wanted more. I wanted a coat made of a more technical fabric. One that keeps the rain out AND allows the sweat to escape. I have one now (at least I think I do). Today was the kind of day to test it.

I also recently purchased a pair of Addidas Climaproof wind booties. I coated them with silicone spray to increase the rain resistance. We'll see if that works or not on today's ride.

The new gear was exactly what I had wanted. When I returned home, my jersey was still dry - no rain, no sweat. And my shoes were only a little wet, not soaked as they would have been without my new booties. Yea for gear that works.

Riding in the rain also takes different techniques. It takes longer to stop, and metal surfaces (grates, railroad tracks, etc.) and painted lines can be as slick as ice. Leaning the bike is too dangerous. Turns have to be taken easily and usually slowly (unless you're Lance and trying to win the Tour).

Finally you have to develop your rainy ride attitude. It's easy to ride outside when the sky is blue and the wind is light. Riding on a cold, gray, rainy day is hard. The fun-o-meter can dip pretty low after a while. But unless you are satisfied with 2500 miles a year, you'll have to ride in the rain/dark/snow sometimes. It's all about knowing that on a rainy day, after about 15 minutes, you are as wet as you'll be. Assuming that you're not dressed in cotton (the death cloth) and can keep warm, nothing much changes after that. It's all about adjusting your attitude.

The bike trail is crushed limestone. Today it was a little soft due to the wetter than usual weather this year. Riding on it was like riding on the beach in sand. I run a CatEye Velo 5 on Zeke, and it doesn't average my miles per hour. But every time I looked at my cyclecomputer while on the bike trail, it only said 13 or 14 mph. Needless to say, today wasn't a good day for setting speed records. It didn't matter, though. I took Zeke because he is extremely stable and sure footed, he's just a little slow thanks to his wide soft tires and heavier frame.

In Harrisburg I stopped in at Matt Gholson's house. We spent about 30 minutes on his porch talking "bikes". It's always refreshing to spend time with a cyclist who enjoys riding his bike. (As opposed to cyclists who enjoy owning a bike.) He brought me up to date on all of the club "stuff" as well. (I'm not able to come to the meetings or rides because of my schedule.) I'm extremely pleased that he and Jeff and Mindy have come on board to lead our club this year.

It was a great rainy day to be on the bike. Next time it rains, saddle up and try it for yourself. I'll bet you'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Day on the Bike

The weather lately has been a bit discouraging. Not bad enough so that others are impressed that you're out on the bike, but not good enough to make it an enjoyable day. Today was no exception. Gray (grey if you're from Great Britian) skies, cold wind and a little bit of drizzle. Yuck.

I laid out a route riding some of the roads out of Sesser that Mike McKee had shown to me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find Emerson City Road off of Route 148. I rode almost to Waltonville looking for it. Finally, disgusted and ready to quit and go home, I turned around. As I was nearing Sesser I spotted an unmarked road to my right. Since none of the marked roads were it, I thought I might as well try this one. Voila! (That's French for "Bingo!" Sort of.) It becomes Tamaroa Road as it nears - you guessed it - Tamaroa.

North of Tamaroa I went further west on Shamrock Road which becomes White Oak and takes you to Route 154 at Pinckneyville. Continuing straight is Pick Road which joins with Denny Road becoming...(drum roll here...) Pick Denny Road. Left on Cudgetown road and it's on to Route 152 near DuQuoin. Well ordinarily. Today, Cudgetown road was closed so I had to detour onto Sacred Heart Road.

Although I didn't have a map,I knew that I was headed east, the wind was on my left, but I wanted to find a good south road to take me to Route 152, since my directions were off of that road. Soon I hit paydirt. Literally. I turned right onto a nice, wide concrete road at the Perry Ridge Landfill. I had previously seen the other end on 152 so I knew this was a good road. However...after only a few hundred yards of concrete, it turned to mud; deep mud. I struggled to stay upright and keep from having to put a foot down. The road was mud all the way to that short strip of concrete just before Route 152 that I had seen before. Yuck. The bike and I were covered.

After turning left onto Route 152 I rolled about a quarter of a mile and on my left, entering 152 was...(drum roll here...)Sacred Heart Road! Ow! If I'd have stayed on it, I would have avoided the mud and still wound up on Route 152! Ow!

Anyway, the roll home from DuQuoin was uneventful. The final tally was 117 miles during 7 hours and 16 minutes for a speed of 16.1 mph.

Back in Marion I rolled down Main St. happy to be home. Until I passed the Junior High School. Last month I shaved off my beard because I thought it made me look old. I had recently been flirted with by a gray-haired woman who obviously had been a hippie in the 1960's and was waiting for the style to return. I realized that it was more than just being a studly guy, she thought I was old, too. So off with the beard. Today I realized it wasn't the beard - it's me. I am old. Drats! As I rolled by the Jr. High School, a small knot of young girls were out front. One of them waved to me and shouted, "What's shakin' Grandpa?" Double Drats! I'm growing the beard back. If I have to be old, I might as well not have to bother shaving as well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Signs, Signs, everywhere there's signs; messing up the scenery changin' my mind. Do this. Don't do that. Can't you see the signs?

Out of all of these signs, this is a sign that is too often missed. This sign says to abandon your efforts to please God by "getting it right". First of all, God doesn't grade on the curve. Your righteousness won't count for more if it's better than those hypocrites down at the church. And God doesn't give extra credit for effort. It's a "pass/fail" system. You either are perfect or condemned. Trust me on this one, you are not perfect.

Finally, any system which replaces this sign or includes this sign with any other, even if it's the "Ten Commandments" sign is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. It's a doctrine of demons. That's why it's so easy to miss this sign. Admitting that there is nothing we can do to advance our case for salvation is not easy. Ever heard, "If there's a heaven, he/she certainly deserves to go there?" Sorry. That's not a Holy Spirit inspired statement.

If you miss or ignore the other signs, there might be consequences. If you miss or ignore this sign, the consequences are eternal.