Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beginners Page # 11 Carrying a Spare Tire

Prologue: The below was originally posted on the right side of the page--in the temporary ramblings section. However, it was suggested that part of the below is so dumb, it should be in the archives so that some other beginner possibly could learn from my many mistakes. And speaking of beginner, I was up to Beginners Page "10"--after stretching it some--and I thought that I had graduated to a higher level and could start on sophisticated topics. Self-grandeur and reality are two different things so on with the Beginners Pages. Recently I was complaining to Randy about all the mistakes I have made and keep on making new ones. He said it was just a learning curve. I think my curve that I am working on is as big as the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

"Carrying a Spare Tire"

On a routine bike check, I spotted a small cut in Christine's back tire. Getting ready for a Saturday group ride, we thought we would bring a spare tire along in case she blew the tire.

Ages ago, I had a blown out one of my tires that had more than 1,000 miles on it, so when I replaced the blown tire, I replaced the other tire as well. So I had a spare tire. It had received some use as I loaned it to Nancy when she blew a tire this summer and loaned it to another person when I blew out his tire putting air in it--but that is another story--point is that the spare we had wasn't brand new.

Now, we knew we had to get the tire small enough to fit into a saddle bag or jersey pocket as we had seen others do on some tours. The new tires we have bought always seemed to be inside out and folded in sections. So I tried to turn the tire inside out. Try as I might, I couldn't get it inside out, so I just folded it in half and then half again. The thing was really resistant, so I had Christine stand on it to squish it down while I put some plastic covered wire ties around it to hold it together. We thought that the tire was rigid from being cold as I had just brought it in from the garage.

Finally, we tied the tire together but it was too big to put in our jersey pocket, so we were hoping that Rick didn't have his "suitcase" full and could carry it for us.

We got to the staging site (Knickerbocker town) and asked Rick if he had room for the tire in his big carrying case. He said yes, and then Ty said he could carry it in his saddle bag. He took the tire from me and had a shocked look on his face. Rick was speechless. Ty asked if it was a wire rimmed tire--"Uh dunno." He informed me it was useless now as the wire would probable break when I unfolded it. Sure enough, it seemed to have a wire rim.

Ty gave me a class on what tires to use to carry them as a spare and how to fold them. What I heard was "Don't do this at home, let a professional do it for you".

So here are some lessons I learned:

You shouldn't bend a wire-rimmed tire.
If you have to bend a wire-rimmed tire, don't have someone stand on it.
You can't make a carry-along spare tire out of every extra tire you may have. Get a ready-made spare to carry around if that is what you want to do.
If you are having to force something, get a second opinion.

Examples of my lesson learned:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Light Tour

December 6, 2009

The weather for the ride was great in comparison with the Friday snow. And the turn-out was outstanding. It was reported that 59 riders participated in the event. There were additional people working behind the scenes to make the event a roaring success.

Christy Nesbitt of the San Angelo Bicycle Association worked for several months coordinating the event, and Jennifer Odom of the Concho Christmas Celebration worked long and hard coordinating and providing publicity. While I am thanking people, I also wish to express appreciation to:
San Angelo Police Department—donation of bicycles for kids to use.
Lee Pfluger—donation of money to repair the bicycles.
Randy Rangel—Randy’s Bike and Run donated time and expertise to repair the bikes and check for safety.
Safe Kids—donated helmets
Walmart—donated hot cider for after the event.
Chick-Fil-A—donated Christmas cookies for after the event.
John Woiten—AKA Santa
KLST—provided TV coverage.
Many thanks to the health businesses and clubs that displayed the event flyer and provided other support.

Thanks to all the participants helping to make the event a success. If anyone has been left out, please accept my apologies and THANKS.

To the right were some of the bikes that were available to anyone who needed a ride.

A big contributor to the event was Lee Pfluger who donated a lot of money to get the bikes in a safe working condition. And he brought the bikes out himself. Lee is the one on the left, below. The one on the right is an unnamed publicity hound basking in the lime light of famous people.

As advertised, Santa was going to be there. John Woiten, President of the San Angelo Bicycle Association volunteered to act as stand-in. John, DeAnna, and his helper did a good job decorating their bike to add to the Christmas cheer.

Thumbs up and the ride is ready to begin. Some of the participants:

Parts of the ride:

Last but certainly not least--the refreshments at the end and helpers.

It is hoped that the bicycle lights tour will be an annual event.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Group Ride

November 28, 2009

I learned another lesson not long ago; don’t call a ride two hours before the start time. ‘Nuff said. So on Wednesday, a Saturday ride was called giving people time to re-arrange their lives for a nice get together. The ride was to start at TxDOT at 1:30 p.m. The time was the start of the high for the day—74, I think, and the wind was to be a constant SSW 15. The route serendipitously was into the wind on the first half and theoretically a tailwind on the return.

Ten of us showed up at TxDOT: Rick, Velma, Donna, David, Ty, Christine B., Christine J., Roy, Mike, and Doug.

The planned route was to be from TxDOT, Ben Ficklin, Country Club Rd, S. Concho Dr., Mary E. Lee Park-Spillway Rd, and return. The distance was about 30 miles.

The pace setters mainly were David, Velma, and Mike and the group stayed fairly together,

although it was hard to find a slip stream behind anyone as the wind was angled most of the time with little stretches of in-the-face breeze. By the time we reached Country Club Rd, up rolled Dan and LeAnn on their tandem.

Now I thought our pace setters were doing a great job, so how did Dan and LeAnn catch us? Both are in great shape and, as later in the ride I found out, Dan and his daughter Jillian were among the 37,000 runners who ran in the Dallas Turkey Trot. Now what I didn’t know until way later was that the reason Dan and LeAnn caught up to us so quickly was that LeAnn had been sandbagging and didn’t run in the Turkey Trot. She caught up to us while Dan just steered. Note the sly grin on Dan’s face. And we all thought he was pedaling as hard as he could.

About 10 miles into the ride, S. Concho Dr. intersects with Knickerbocker. We crossed Knickerbocker into Mary E. Lee Park and as soon as everyone had safely crossed the highway, we started on the “routine” Monday evening group route. Familiar territory is comforting and there was a lot less traffic. As we arrived at the Spillway/Knickerbocker intersection, Mike and Doug turned right onto Knickerbocker, and we thought they assumed we were going to the village of Knickerbocker next. Ty took out after them to let them know that we were looping back and back tracking our route to TxDOT. We took on off as we knew that Ty could catch them, return, and over-take us.

Some time back, I had said that the return trip was to be wind at the back. This being Texas, we encountered the 360 degree wind that Texas is so famous for. Most of the return trip I was still looking for someone to draft off of but was unsuccessful.

The worst part of the trip however was the S. Concho Rd.. The road has many pot holes, broken pavement, and a bumpy surface.

When we finally got to the newly paved portion of Country Club Rd, it was like water skiing on a glassy lake—smooth gliding.

The ride ended at TxDOT and from all accounts, we had a good time. Hopefully we will have a fairly mild winter to keep the group rides going.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fredericksburg Fall Foliage Frolic

Saturday November 7, 2009
Fredericksburg, Texas

"Laid back" sums up the ride. For example, the ride was to start at 8:30 a.m. from the Lady Bird Johnson Park. Last year people were milling around and then one by one, sometimes two, occasionally a group of riders who were together would just wander off down the road. Christine and I, being well trained tour cyclers, waited and waited and waited for someone to “officially” start the ride. Silence. Eventually we meandered off also as the crowd was thinning. Someone must have expressed his confusion because this year it was announced that the start time was between 8:30-9:30 a.m.--take off when you are ready.
We met cyclers already leaving as we rolled into LBJ Park (I just had to get that in, Donna—private joke) around 8:00 a.m., and as we were leaving on/about 8:30, we met people still coming in with their bikes on their cars. The beauty of it was that they could register,pick up their packets, have a cup of coffee and sweet roll, off load their bikes, take off, and still be within the official start time.

The laid back attitude of the ride probably reflects the theme and temperament of the sponsoring Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club. Their website states “The Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club came into existence because it was felt that a bicycle club was needed in the San Antonio area that had more emphasis on all levels of riding ability."

"Our rides are moderate, ranging in the 10 to 14 mph average. Most of our rides are leader led, and we try to leave no one behind. We are a very social club, and we have several picnics, parties and overnight events throughout the year. We also have weekend outings and tours.”

The morning was overcast and quite chilly.

The forecasted breeze of 5 MPH at the start decided that wouldn’t be exciting so it doubled itself. As such, the ride dress was quite varied. Some in routine summer shorts and short sleeve jerseys. Some with arm warmers and/or leg warmers. Lots with long sleeve jerseys, and a few with jackets. The weather was due to get to 77 (it didn’t at least while we were on the route) but eventually it warmed enough so the layers would come off at different times.

Upon exiting Lady Bird Johnson Park, we turned right onto Highway 16. For the most part it was fairly level and not too heavily traveled by motorist.

Shortly (6-7 miles) we turned on to the start of a series of narrow lanes. The first turn-off was Morris Ranch Road.

The fall foliage frolic ideally is during the turning of the leaves around the country side. While maybe not spectacular, there were quite a few pretty scenes.

Going down Morris Ranch Road, the scenery became prettier and along with the scenery came the hills.

There were rest stops about every 12-15 miles. Well stocked but I couldn’t get enough of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They had a good variety of goodies as well as the routine liquids, but I can’t pass up a PB&J sandwich, so I pigged out on them. I really couldn’t speak for Christine, but if I wanted to quickly locate the PB&J stash, I would just look for her around the tables.

Rest Stop 1 was at mile 12 and the first decision point of the ride. Turn right for the short ride (29 miles) or go straight for the medium (50 miles) or long (60). The medium/long routes took off down a road called White Oak Road. Unfortunately, the road was accurate because a blight had come through and killed a lot of the oak trees.

About 7-8 miles after Rest Stop 1, the medium riders could turn right, and the long route kept going on FM 783. Medium riders missed this.

Eventually FM 783 intersected with Highway 290. There was a sign that announced Rest Stop 2 was just three miles away. As I was looking to the right, there were some exotic animals in a pasture. I was pointing at them so Christine could take a look when it dawned on me I was missing out on some photo ops. By the time I got situated I just had time to take a picture of either some bison or beefalo.
Highway 290 had some interesting hills before we got to Harper, Texas.

Rest Stop 2 (at mile 32) was located at Harper City Park.

After leaving Rest Stop 2, we traveled about half way through Harper and intersected with FM 2093 which would lead us back to Highway 16 and Lady Bird Johnson Park. FM 2093 had some interesting scenery.

About this time I learned another lesson. You can't leave your camera on during the whole ride. At first I thought I was being innovative. On a routine ride, I will come upon something interesting, grab my camera, turn it on, try to focus and miss the shot because I was so slow. So, riding with the camera already on would solve half the problem, right? Not quite, I still had an aggravating amount of "out-takes" at the end of the ride. And, my battery indicator was blinking red on me. We had about 20 miles left to go and no camera.

There was another lesson learned but I have spared you most of it. Background: when I take a shot of something it looks as if it is three miles away and people in front of me look like ants. So the solution is to zoom. So, Mr. Brilliant not only rode with his camera on, it was always in a zoom setting. Have you ever taken a moving side shot of something with the zoom setting? Don't. Fuzzy isn't cool.

What was surprising was the lack of monster hills. I had in my mind that the Fredericksburg area was full of long steep mountains. There were plenty of hills and rollers but no torturous long steep hills ala Ft. Davis. The hardest hills were probably of the Burma Road King of the Mountain #1. Certainly not KOM #2.

At the end of the ride was a spaghetti lunch. The battery had "re-charged" just enough for one more shot. I told Christine to pose and caught her in a "you've got to be kidding me" look. It is really hard and unrewarding to be a free lance photographer.