If you’ve been riding bikes for over 40 years there’s a good chance you’ve got a pile of cycling clothes. I’ve got drawers full of jerseys, shorts, leg warmers, arm warmers, shoe covers, jackets, and gloves. I’ve even got kits from when I raced for Trek in unopened packaging. If I dig, I’d probably find stuff from the original Savannah Wheelmen cycling team.
Some of the apparel has worn out or been crashed out and is long gone. Today, I grabbed a pair of bib shorts that are probably 15 years old. They’re old CTS cycling bibs (Giordana brand). I’d gotten them when I signed up for one of CTS’ discount coaching packages when we lived in Pittsburgh. The shorts weren’t free, but they had a significant discount and I bought two pair. One pair didn’t survive a crash, which happened during a training ride, and the other continues to serve me well.
Around mid-day on Tuesday I took a short bike ride. The bike was a steel frame retro style rig with down tube shifters. It is one of my favorite rides. To be fair, all my bikes are my ‘favorite.’ And for perspective, I have one bow, and I have 12 bikes.
Here, on the eastern shore of North Carolina, the roads are so beaten up by hurricanes, heat, and farm equipment that riding steel or titanium is going to be the most comfortable. So, I’m frequently riding a neat steel retro Peugeot or a LiteSpeed with its titanium frame.
If you’re a cyclist and cover seriously rough roads you know they can loosen teeth. Some folks might be partial to carbon fiber frames, but I’ve never been overly fond of mine. It’s a great bike and wonderful for climbing, but I’ve never really like the feel of the bike. Aluminum is what most of my bike frames are made from and I do like them. But, they can be harsh on really rough roads.
Steel makes for such a good riding bike. Riding a steel frame is like cruising in a Cadillac. Yet, good steel ‘springs’ with a cyclist when they ‘jump’. Great steel frames feel ‘alive.’
As I was enjoying the ride today, and the feel of steel, I decided to turn onto a road I’d not ridden in several months. I was shocked at what I found. Smooth as glass, like a flat velodrome, a newly re-paved road.
Even riding steel, the roads here will rattle bones. When I turned and hit fresh pavement it was so pleasant I had to stop for a minute and take a look. Man, it was so nice! Smooth and fast, really very cool.
A close friend of mine is Savannah, who isn’t a competitive cyclist, asked me, ‘What is a Computrainer?” I’d mentioned my Computrainer in a post and she wanted to know more about it. While she isn’t a bicycle ‘racer’ she does ride for fun. So, Cathy – here is a bit about a Computrainer:
Computrainer is a product by Racermate, Inc. located in Seattle, Washington. It is a ‘trainer’ whereon you can attach your bicycle. This allows you to train indoors when going outside isn’t an option.
Riding a trainer for hours is a mental bore. However, Racermate has designed a system that creates a entertaining interface for your bicycle and a variety of computer enhancements.
Their software displays many sports physiological bits of data, such as power, revolution per minute, average torque angle, caloric output, heart rate and other useful information. There are methods to evaluate each legs performance, set training course, set an avatar, race others and my favorite ride an actual course while viewing it.
Of all the training tools I’ve ever owned the Computrainer is the best. In fact, some triathletes train exclusively on the Computrainer and leave outside riding for race day.
Recently, I converted a shed to house my training set-up along with some of my other bikes, archery equipment, swimming gear, and ham radio. Personally, I appreciate riding the Computrainer while watching other races. Sometimes, I’ll watch the DVD of Ironman Kona, another Ironman event, or Tour de France stage while racing the course. Or I can watch a movie while data is displaced on the controller attached to my bike’s handle bars.
If you’re a cyclist or triathlete you probably already know about this product. If you’re an archer – believe me there is nothing in our sport that matches what a Computrainer can do to improve your performance.
Over the months I’ve mentioned that aside from archery other exercise is important. For decades I’ve enjoyed competing in cycling, running, duathlons and triathlons. Of those sports what I like most is cycling.
Cycling gives me a since of freedom. I’ve always felt it is the closest humans can come to flying under our own power. Then, there is the benefit of being able to see so much of the land and scenery while cursing on a bicycle.
Today’s ride was no exception. I carry my cell phone with me in case of an emergency. That phone is also my camera. Using it I recorded a fun encounter from today’s ride.
Dogs are frequently running after me when I ride. Most of the time this isn’t a problem since I can see or hear them well in advance of their approach. Dogs typically can’t run at a 30-mile per hour pace for long. When I see them, I crank it up and hope I can outlast their sprint. As a rule – I win.
Most of the dogs I met along my rides are friendly. Having be chased by them for decades I’ve learned to recognize the happy ‘I’m glad to see you’ bark versus the ‘here comes a bite’ bark.
Ten miles into this ride at a dead end road I heard the happy bark. Sure enough, this golden retriever was out for a sniff and offered to play. Naturally, I stopped to join the fun.
It is tough to beat a good bike ride topped off with meeting a nice dog along the route. The bonus is that cycling is a great form of exercise.
The thermometer on the porch read 99° F (37°C) when I shot this afternoon. It wasn’t much cooler in the morning because I’d gotten a late start – it warmed up fast today. It felt great. After so many years living in places like Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this heat is finally starting to thaw my Georgian bones.
In fact, it was so hot my black Elite 35 bow was beginning to feel warm. I admit I broke a sweat. But, I got in two nice practice rounds.
In the morning practice was strictly shooting paper. The afternoon was reserved for dark 3D targets in odd lighting. The past few tournaments have been real challenges where light is concerned.
This time of year the foliage and angle of the sun can wreak havoc on pins and scopes. Last week, even though I frequently practice in difficult illumination, a few of the targets were practically all guess since I couldn’t make out rings with my binoculars. By the time I got in the woods today the sunlight was filtering though the leaves backlighting several of my targets.
Following the afternoon practice there was plenty of time to get in a bike ride. It had cooled by a degree so the temperature was just about perfect.
Today the weather was perfect. Clear skies, a little breeze, and the temperature reached 78°F. It made for a nice day to practice some long shots and ride my mountain bike.
Shooting was a bit tricky since the early sunlight through the trees illuminated the target and left me in the shadows. It, of course, washed out my pins. Still, I shot for about an hour and a half until the call to ride my bike become overwhelming.
Competitive riding has been part of my life for 45 years. Those were spent racing in cycling, duathlon, and triathlon competition. Because I’d started racing bicycles before adding duathlon and triathlon, during the multi-sport events cycling was my strongest component.
Cycling, when it was my primary sport, meant road racing and track racing. I also raced mountain bikes for about 5 years and it was always a blast. Where we live in Maryland and on the North Carolina coast there isn’t any mountain biking. Here in Georgia I can hit trails and ride all day never touching pavement.
I’d planned a long off road ride and had a challenging course planned. I’d leave the house; cut along wooded trails, then hit a power line break riding that out and back for an hour each way.
It took 30 minutes to get through the woods and onto the power line break. These are nice to ride. There are often trails perpendicular to the power lines made by ATVs and logging for exploration. It’s hilly and rough. It’s fun.
Fifteen minutes into the power line portion of the ride I reached a steep downhill that merged into a sharp turn before working into a steep climb. It was broken up with rain washouts and ruts. I stopped to look it over before taking the plunge.
This is what it would take: Stay to the left on the down hill, let momentum carry me over a small hump on the uphill then slam it hard to the right to pull off the climb without stopping or falling.
I rode back about twenty yards to get the speed it would take to make the assault after the downhill. I cranked up speed and lifted off my saddle to handle the ruts, hit the outcropped hump on the rise, then jerked right when my right foot pulled free.
It was a surprise to have my right leg off the pedal. The torque on the pedal was in the wrong direction to have pulled my cleat free. This made me lose momentum, I put my foot down saving a crash and was honestly amazed that I’d pulled off the pedal.
When I looked down I was even more astonished to find the cause of the liberated foot. The jam to the right was going to require a bit of force to move the entire bike making it hop toward the new direction I’d wanted. What had happened, and this has never happened to me before, I pulled the shoe apart! The shoe literally separated into two parts, the upper and the lower. The lower half holding the cleat remained firm with the pedal. The upper half followed my foot. And, these were not inexpensive shoes. They’d only been used about a dozen times. All I could do was offer a disappointed glare.
The ride was over except for the getting home leg. For that portion of the ride I found a road and gently pedaled back. Once home I tried using super glue to make the shoe whole. True to my experience with super glue, the only things that it seals together are fingers.
Regretfully, I only have one pair of mountain bike shoes with me in Georgia. I also only have one bow. In consideration of Sunday’s tournament, I hope it doesn’t fail me, too.
On Saturday I shot in the Roanoke Archers’ 3D tournament. They’re a member of the Down East Archery Coalition’s clubs that hold 3D competitions here in eastern North Carolina. Early in the day the weather promised to make things interesting and fulfilled that promise. The range is tough and the club does not shy away from using all the real estate on the course.
Aside from a challenging course, what I like is that the club is only an hour from my house. I try keeping driving time for local competition less than 2 hours one way. Spending four hours on the road then adding three to four hours at a range makes for a long day. A one hour drive is very reasonable. Heck, from my house it’s 30 minutes to reach a major intersection. By major intersection, a country road that interests a state highway.
Driving to the shoot it rained non-stop. The rain continued for a bit once we (River, my dog made the trip) reached our destination, but stopped pretty much as the forecast had predicted. The rest of the day was beautiful.
The folks that had come early to shoot had rushed off the range to take cover from the rain and were headed back on course as I approached registration. Patrick and Leon, two guys I’d shot with in the past, were in the clubhouse as I signed in. Leon invited me to shoot with them. We had a trio.
On the range, the sounds of arrows zipping through the trees attested to the complex nature of the targets. The archers shooting in the Pro Class weren’t missing targets. But, all the pros I talked with had at least one 8.
This course hurt me the last time I shot it. Tis try was better by 14 points, but still 1.48 points per target below my average. Back at the clubhouse I heard that one fellow was 6 up and another 2 up and they were still shooting.
It’s nice to show -up solo for a shoot and find people to shoot with that aren’t strangers. Shooting with Leon and Patrick made for a fun afternoon even if I got more than a fair share of 8’s.
When I got home there was still time to get in a bike ride. River, also glad to be home went for a swim while I rode. It’s hard to beat days like this that closed on a high note dinner of fresh baked biscuits and venison chili.
Yesterday, Tuesday March 24, the weather was slightly warmer and the wind slightly less. It was a pleasant day for being outside and I took full advantage.
Up before sunrise I took my coffee and walked out onto the dock. As the sun broke through geese that have become permanent residents honked past, a few ducks swam by and eagles pasted overhead. Sunrise on the water is a great part of any day.
After breakfast, River and I headed out for a run. Friends naturally, greeted her and one followed us home in search of a cookie.
Cookies provided and dogs gone, I took my bow out for practice. The wind was blowing with a bit more force with occasional gusts to 15 mph ( 24 kph) and a rather constant 10 mph (16 kph) push coming off the water. Aside from 3D events, which are often protected from the wind being held in forested areas, I’ve never shot an outdoor competition. With all the practice I’ve had shooting outside and dealing with wind I should find a field archery tournament and give it a try.
After morning practice I was able to get in a decent ride on one of my bikes. This one was a retro steel frame Peugeot that covered the bumpy country rides like a luxury car.
Back with plenty of time for afternoon shooting I took a foam deer and moved it around in the woods to get various shots at unknown distances and have some protection for the afternoon wind.
It was another nice day for playing outside. I got to shoot, run and ride – my kind of day. It was followed by a good night’s sleep.
Friday was a rainy day until around 2 PM. Then there was break in the weather. It happened to be a rest day from archery. But, cycling was still on the menu.
I wanted to ride a steel bike. I have two steel frame bikes, a Peugeot and a 3Rensho. Yes, that is correct a 3Rensho. The 3Rensho it is a track bike, meaning single speed and brakeless, intended for racing on a Velodrome. The Peugeot is an old retro frame rebuild in the 1970’s fashion including down tube shifters. Most of today’s racing bikes are aluminum or carbon fiber although it is still possible to get a really nice steel frame.
The last time I rode my Peugeot I got a flat. I wasn’t able to recall whether I’d replaced the tube. After I filled the tires with air the answer presented itself – I’d not changed the tube. I spent 30 minutes trying to get the tire off the Rolf rim and only succeeded in breaking my tire tool. That wheel will be going to Cycle Gallery and Fitness in Elizabeth City where the experts may have better luck. I changed bikes and took the LiteSpeed for a spin.
There are few forms of exercise I enjoy as much as cycling. It is a great way to enjoy a lot of scenery while blowing cobwebs out of muscles and brains. Even though I didn’t get to ride a steel frame, titanium is a close second for providing a smooth ride.
Living in a city is okay. I’d done it and found it enjoyable. Living in the country is good as well. There are obvious differences.
When I write that I’ve lived in a city I mean in the heart of the city. When I lived in Atlanta I was near Buford Highway, inside the parameter, but in 1976 not the center. Later, living in Kennesaw, GA it was a little like living in the country, however, by the time I lived there, mid 90’s, Kennesaw was the suburbs for Atlanta. A good example of the heart of a city was when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. There I lived at 12th and Euclid, pretty much the SA Node of the city.
When I write that I live in the country I don’t mean suburbs. From my home in North Carolina, the closest town, Hertford, is 14 miles away. Hertford has a population of 2176, about that of a large apartment complex in Atlanta.
City life was fun. There was always something to see and do. If you don’t mind crowds and have patience with traffic it’s a good life. Riding a bicycle can be a challenge, but there is always a path to follow. Shooting a bow means an indoor range or driving to a club outside the city limits.
In the country there is also a lot to see and do. The scenery and activities are different from a city. Riding a bicycle is easier – there are a lot less cars. In fact, during my ride of 20 miles yesterday only 2 cars and one truck passed me.
Another country life advantage is that if I want to shoot all I need do is step out of my front door. In fact, I can shoot from my front porch at two sets of targets. It certainly makes practice convenient. Other unique advantages to where I live is I can fish and crab from my bulkhead or off my dock. And, if inclined, I can hunt from a tree stand after a 4-minute walk from my house into the woods.
The down side is if we need anything that has to be purchased I’m making a long drive in the truck or car. Despite this very slight inconvenience, I find living in the country is generally better. If I need to get back to a city, I’ll make the drive knowing I’ll be back in the woods or on the river momentarily.