13 May 2013

Race me!

After my ride today I weighed 192 pounds, more than a bit on the portly side for a six-footer like me.

I am 46 years old and I work a lot, at least 50 hours a week, often more.  I've got a gut and way more flab around my middle than I'd like.  After a couple of years doing this new job, my once-indelible arm and leg lycra tan-lines have faded almost to nothing.

I ride nearly every weekend, both days usually. But that's about it.  On very rare occasions, I get out to ride perhaps one day during the week for maybe an hour or so.  I used to commute to work by bike, everyday for almost 20 years, but I hardly ever do so anymore; I've got meetings I need to get to all over town.

Today I took a vacation-day from work (I've got got to use them up before 30 June) and spent some of it riding in the woods.

There is a mountain bike race near town this weekend.  Sadly, I am definitely not fit enough to race on Saturday.

See?  KOM.  For today...
But, come the end of July, I just might be.

So here's what I propose: you should race me!

Today I set an initial time using Strava on a little 8-mile loop I've labeled Orion Spring TT.  It took me and my big fat butt 56 minutes flat to ride it.  It climbs about 1000 feet overall, pretty relentlessly from the git-go, in my opinion.  It's a really fun lap.

For today I am the KOM (king of the mountain, natch) of this loop on Strava.

My challenge is simple: If you are the KOM on this loop on 31 July 2013, I will send you $50.00 cash.  If I am KOM I get to keep my money.

Simple.

If you want to play along, send me an email and tell me your Strava name.  I'll follow you and, if you end up the KOM on this loop rather than me on 31 July, the money is yours.  No kidding.

I'm hopeful this little investment will motivate me to get on my bike a bit more and, likewise, that it might make for an interesting game this summer, as I work to chase down all of you fast kids, and you work to take my money.

You've got nothing to lose.  I've got 50 bucks to lose. If I'm not KOM on 31 July, the actual KOM (you?) gets the money.  If I am KOM, I keep it.

Capish?

The route is simple: Start on Schultz at the second "left-hand exit," the one after the rock-garden that goes up past the big rock that looks like a giant saddle.  Ride directly across Schultz Pass Road just below the cattle guard to the little connector that goes across to Weatherford Road.  Ride past the old gate and up the little rocky trail that eventually connects back to Weatherford just below Puppy Chow.  Ride up Puppy Chow to Lower Dogfood.  Ride up Lower, Middle, and Upper Dogfood, and then across Weatherford again where it's blocked by the three short wooden poles, up to where it connects to Newham.  Go right at Newham and ride east on the new "Secret" Trail (aka Spotted Owl) going past Orion Spring, all the way down to the parking lot just west of Schultz Tank.  Ride down  Schultz Creek Trail and back to the start.

 8.2 miles.  1000 feet of elevation.  Easy-peasy.

Here's the botton line: If you've emailed me ahead of time to let me know you're playing, and you end up KOM on 31 July you get my money.

50 bucks cash!

But, if I am the KOM that day, I keep it.

11 May 2013

Just about a bike: Specialized Deja Two tandem

When we got married in January of 1997 they closed the bike shop for the afternoon so that everyone could attend our wedding. That was pretty special, and not something that I can recall them doing very often, if ever again, otherwise.  It was great to have everyone there (except for Ken, who's mother was getting married back-East on the same day) to celebrate with us.  Their presence alone surely would have been sufficient to please us.

Nevertheless, we were made doubly-happy at our reception when they presented us with an unexpected "shop gift" which they had all chipped-in together to purchase for us: a brand new Specialized Deja Tu tandem mountain bike frame.

In my opinion it remains, without a doubt, the most satisfying and enduring gift we got that day, rivaled, of course, only by our abiding love for one another.

My wife agrees.

And we have spent hundreds of hours together on our tandem (occasionally with our kid attached by Trail-a-Bike, too), all over the southwest, during the past 16+ years, reaffirming both of these facts.

Thanks, again, Absolute Bikes-friends!

Thanks, as well, to our friend Chris, who "sold" us his old crank-reducers (I've yet to pay him for them... for like four years), these days it's pretty much my daughter and I who ride the tandem together.  It's kinda become "our thing" and a wonderful means for spending time together, just the two of us, doing something we both enjoy.

She's become a great little stoker and already knows the local trail system like a native (which she is).  Her endurance continues to impress me as well.  We can turn around a 15-mile loop without complaint or fatigue in a little over an hour together, talking the entire time, motoring up hills, and descending like fiends, whooping at the top of our lungs!

Fact: I've never once returned from any tandem ride, ever, either with my wife or my kid, unsatisfied or wishing that I'd ridden by myself.

I read or heard somewhere, once-upon-a-time, that Specialized's tandems were fabricated by American Bicycle Manufacturing in the early 1990s.  The Deja Tu's big, beautiful welds and the unique derailleur hanger certainly support this contention.

Our tandem's basic build has changed very little over the years, since I initially put it together shortly after our wedding.

Ken built the wheelset for me, Mavic hoops on high-flange XT tandem hubs.  Shimano DX top-mount thumbies, XT front and rear derailleurs, plus first-generation XT v-brakes are all adequate equipment most of the time.  A Ritchey tandem crankset, a Specialized stoker-stem, and a Rock Shox Duke (perfectly color-matched out of the box, natch) round out the very basic, no-frills parts mix that's served us well, with very few failures, for more than 16 years now.

For the record: our tandem's staying in the family.  There's no other bike in the garage that we would be less inclined to sell, no matter how much we might need the money.  It's a part of our family, like a good dog or a cherished heirloom.  In fact, our daughter's already asked us to promise to give her our tandem when she has kids of her own so that she can take them riding when they're big enough to stoke for her.

That's pretty high-praise, I think.

And, one thing's for certain: we will.

10 May 2013

Just about a bike

My fancy bike, and the only "new" one I own.
I recently spruced-up my Just About A Bike page and added a permanent link to it in the right-hand sidebar.

Just About A Bike is basically a catalog of my current bike inventory, wherein, on following the links below each image, I am able to refer you, dear reader, to long-forgotten, finely-detailed narratives I've written for this blog about each one.

Likely to remain "under construction" for some time to come, but worth a gander if'n y'all like bikes like I do.