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.
It was practically hot this St. Patrick’s Day, 80° F (27°C). It felt great and I was outside all day. This is a summary of my play.
It started with an hour and a half of shooting a 3D deer from 20 to 50 yards distance. Afterwards I wrote for a bit, had lunch, and then napped under several large oak trees in my yard. Following my break I checked my email for directions to this weekend’s 3D tournament, which had arrived. A nice surprise among my email was a message letting me know how much I’d won in last week’s competition. Not a lot of money but better than a sharp stick in the eye.
Then it was time to go kayaking. Brenda, my wife, and I paddled from our house several miles up river. We paddled into the wind going out so we’d have a tail wind coming home. In the smaller creeks that are bordered by trees wind isn’t a factor. Out on the Little River, the wind can kick up waves. In fact, on the trip home we had small waves as the wind had begun to increase. The waves weren’t high enough to surf a kayak but definitely sufficient for bit of a lift and push.
Once the kayaks were stored I headed out on my bike. I only rode 20 miles since the kayaking had eaten into my cycling time.
Cycling merged into my afternoon archery session and I practiced for another hour before heading back to the river to toss toys for River, my lab, to retrieve.
The day wound down with a dinner of corn beef and cabbage, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for our family. Éirinn go brách
Look at this bike. It is for triathlons. They have triathlons in the Olympics. Consider how much the bicycle has changed, how that sport evolved and how the Olympics evolved with the sport. It’s incongruous how recurve bows are still the equipment of choice in the Games. Archery has evolved; it’s about time the Olympic Committee catches up.
The morning plan was a short 40-minute run then archery practice on a 3-spot. This is a light week on my training schedule. One look outside and confirmation of the temperature altered the plan.
A native Savannahian, and despite having lived and worked in very cold places, cold still hurts. While living in Cleveland I ran and rode my bike year round. I did the same in Pittsburgh. In prior years I’ve run during the coldest months in Boston, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Uppsala, Sweden. I’ve headed out for a snowy run in Nagano, Japan, Alta, Utah and ran the Tokyo Marathon is freezing rain. But, I’ve never really enjoyed the cold. As a matter of fact, I don’t like cold.
There are a lot of folks that seem to enjoy cold and snow. Great for them. Exclude me from that crowd. When I looked at the temperature and the white caps from wind blowing across the Sound I made a deep-rooted Southern blooded decision and didn’t head out for a run. Shooting can wait until it warms up.
My arctic loving brethren scoff at 19°F (-7°C) and laugh at gale force winter wind. The light dusting of snow across the Tar Heel State is a joke to the Patriots of Boston. My Viking friends consider the current weather here in North Carolina excellent for short pants and t-shirts. Well, all I can say is, “Bless their hearts.”
Living as far away as I do from an indoor gym means no easy access to a treadmill. It also means there is no indoor range on which to practice archery. Days like this become recovery days and I amend my training programs. I, also, look ahead to the continued cold in the forecast and make plans to temporarily move further South. I’ll be back in Georgia in just a few days to face a wintery warmth of 68°F (20°C).