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Stormchaser

Storm clouds give way to sun.

Storm clouds give way to sun.

There is this recumbent bike that I have been trying to sell on Craigslist for several weeks, and I had a bite Monday night who was supposed to show up between 5 and 6 p.m.  Well, he calls me at 5 and postpones, which is fine.  This is Craigslist we’re talking about; you never know what you’re going to get.  Seeing how there was to be a group ride at 5:30 leaving from the grade school parking lot, I changed and rode over there, circling the parking lot while waiting to see how big the group would be.  It had been raining off and on all day.

Surprise!  I was the whole group, so I set out on an unmarked course to the north and east of town.  It had only stopped raining about an hour before, but the dark clouds were sailing away as the sky blued up.  Much of the route I took has fresh asphalt and wound beside the Little Blue River.  Some nice hills, a constant (for weeks) 20 mile per hour wind that changes direction so it is always in your face, and bright green Indiana spring vegetation.  I only put in about 17 miles, but it was all good.

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Weekend wrap-up

Little 500, 2014

Little 500, 2014

This weekend of the Indiana Bike Summit is allowing me to finish up the #30daysofbiking strong.  I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday or the day before, but that wasn’t for lack of material or because I didn’t ride.  I did ride!  Let me go chronologically so I don’t confuse everybody.  As I had mention, I’ve been testing a TREK One Series 1.2 road bike with the Energy to Action group here in Shelbyville.  I took it out on a blustery Thursday afternoon to meet up with the group for an unmarked ride.  Rob Springer joined us on his Concord Pacer ROTS.

Now, I happen to own the Super Sport version of this particular steel frame ten-speed Chinese Bike Boom bike, and I can tell you as I told him, that he would not be able to keep up with E2A on that bike, especially into the wind.  Rob is a terrific guy and gave it a try anyhow.  He was screaming along like the real deal until we got to SR9 south of Shelbyville, and stopped to text me that he was going to head back, but I circled around to meet up with him, and together we abandoned the speed daemons and headed back into town on SR9, snaked our way along the Progress Pathway, around Wally World, and over to the Babe Ruth baseball diamonds, where he terminated his ride so he could watch his kid play ball.

I pedaled back home and we both ended up with about a 16 miler.  It was fun.  I didn’t get to test my 1.2, but we talked the whole way about what kinds of development are going to make Shelbyville great over the coming years.  I was supposed to go to Bloomington that evening for the opening of the Indiana Bike Summit and a screening of “Breaking Away,” but I really wanted to ride so I went home and ended up having that great ride with Rob.

On Friday, I woke up and headed to the Bloomington Convention Center for the first full day of presentations at the Summit.  I will talk more about that in another post in which I will parse my notes.  Some very good stuff, just like last year.  After the presentations I got in my TARDIS and headed back home to catch E2A for their Friday afternoon “easy” ride, which by easy they mean short.  It is a 20 miler out to Flat Rock and back on Columbus Road.  I was doing a lot better with the new bike than I had been with my ‘cross bike, but most of the group was still up ahead of me, although I never lost sight of them.  Probably a quarter mile behind them.  When they came back from the turn-around, they encouraged me to “get on,” but to me, it is as much about finishing the whole route as it is anything else, so I continued to the end, and turned around.  There is a place along the last mile of the ride where the Flat Rock River bumps out and re-routes the road.  Roy and Gretchen had stopped there for me to catch up, explaining that they really didn’t feel like going as fast as the rest of the group was on an “easy” ride.  Whether they were just being nice, I don’t know, but Roy took point and we all drafted him the rest of the way back.  It was a stiff wind, and I appreciated the drafting practice, because again, I just started doing group rides and I’m going to need a lot of time to hone my group riding skills.

Flat Rock River at the turn around

Flat Rock River at the turn around

At the end, we rode back to their house for a beer at their “tiki bar” out back, and then decided to go eat at A Taste of Italy.  I called Tawnya up and she joined us, and it was a good meal and rollicking conversation.

I got up refreshed on Saturday morning and headed back to Bloomington to give my keynote address “Shelbyville Success Story” and then attended the rest of the presentations before we all headed over to I.U. on our bikes to watch the Little 500.  The Black Key Bulls won it this year.  It was awesome and I do believe I’m going to start going every year.  After the race, I got back into the car and headed home with enough daylight left to get in my own 20 miler to Flat Rock and back.  I saw Gretchen and Roy coming back in as I headed out.  Not sure if they did the hill route or Flat Rock, but it was good to see they had the energy to do a ride after they did the SCUFFY (charity run) that morning.  When I got home, I built a fire in the fire pit with the coals in the grill from the BBQ pork chops my son Steven had made for dinner, and talked to him about his summer plans until the sky turned to velvet.  My total mileage for the three days was about 70 miles.  Not too shabby, eh?

 

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Mileage

I think I have mentioned that I signed up for #30daysofbiking and have faithfully ridden each day so far in April.  I will ride every day through the 30th, too.  It is fun to watch the leaderboards on the National Bike Challenge website, too.  The National Bike Challenge goes from May 1st through the end of September, but they started tracking the people who have already signed up as a sort of “warm-up” and I am doing reasonably well.

As you may or may not know (and may or may not care), I will be giving the Saturday morning keynote address this weekend at the Indiana Bike Summit in Bloomington, and my topic is “Shelbyville Success Story” chronicling our journey toward being chosen to receive a hefty transportation grant to build the Blue River Trail that will wind through town and north of the downtown public square.  In preparation for my speech, Richard Vonnegut invited me to zip up to Indy yesterday to the Scottish Rite Cathedral to rehearse in front of the Y’s Men’s lunch gathering.  He didn’t tell me they don’t use Powerpoint slides, and I ended up doing it with only half of my notes.  Good practice.

My bike ride from work to home involved a different steed.  The ‘cross bike is in my work building, and I am test riding a Trek Alpha 1.2 entry level road bike.  Oh, my gosh.  The geometry is significantly different, the bike is much lighter, and the power I was able to apply to the pedals was overwhelmingly joyous.  My knees weren’t complaining when I got home, either.  I felt like the bike was a part of me, or I had become part of the bike; not sure which.  But Jimmy likey.

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Back to work!

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Lonely dilapidated old barn sitting in a field

Since I left the car at work when I rode home, the only reasonable way to get back to work was to ride my bike back in.  So that is what I did.  I had to yell at the kids and tell them not to miss the school bus.  Not because I enjoy yelling at the kids, but because the daughter was in the basement bathroom primping and the son was in the upstairs shower.  One has to yell to be heard over running water.  If I stay home until the kids get on the bus and then bike to work, I get to work really late (for me.)  Like, around 8:30 a.m.  I like to be there by a little after seven.

But in line with my being a scenery aficionado, here is a complimentary picture of a dilapidated barn sitting all by its lonesome surrounded by a misty green field.

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Heading home

Purple deadnettle in the late afternoon

Purple deadnettle in the late afternoon

I lashed my bike to my the TARDIS (yes I do own a time machine) and headed to work Monday, and then pedaled the 24 miles home wearing a Hilly Hundred jersey, a pair of ratty tech shorts, and clip ins with black socks.  Tailwinds pushed me most of the way home, which was nice after several days of charging into the wind.  They should never have put point and shoot cameras on smartphones, because I’m a sucker for scenery, which explains your shot of the day included with this B.E.D. post (yes, I’m a funny guy).  Enjoy.  If you’re wondering, the color is brought to you by the purple deadnettle.

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Easter on Hominy Ridge

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Halfway up the hills

One of the last things I packed for our trip up north to Easter with family was the ‘cross bike.  It went on a rack on the back of our Montana, and came off first when we unpacked.  The weekend was plain solid awesome from beginning to end.  We bedded down at my father-in-law’s house on the hill at the end of Hutchens Street, went to Easter vigil at my childhood parish St.  Bernard’s, then staying up way too late into the night talking and catching up, and sleeping in until the dogs started complaining to go outside.  A plan came to me while I sat on the porch drinking pine smoked black tea and watched the sunlight filter through the greening branches perched on top of a sheer limestone cliff on the property’s back corner.  I would follow the route of a bicycle trip some good high school friends and I made out to the reservior when we were still in school.  The first part of the trip is mainly flat until you reach Lagro, Indiana and cross the bridge over the Wabash River.  From there it climbs up a winding road to the entrance of Salamonie State Forest, where the hills pull closer together for the ascent to the Hominy Ridge shelter site that overlooks the dam and spillway.

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Shelter at Hominy Ridge, Salamonie River State Forest

I won’t go into all of the particulars of that bike ride we did when I was a teenager.  It is enough to say that the two rides, the one way back then and the one now, achieve a sort of balance.  Back then I was in the shape of my life because I was a skinny teenager who ran cross country but was riding a cheap, heavy K-Mart ten-speed, and my friends and I were conversing the whole way out and back. Now, I was a middle-aged father of four with salt-and-pepper hair but was riding a fast and light cyclocross bike geared for moderate hill work, and was riding alone for the sake of riding.

On the way back, I headed out to St. Patrick’s cemetery to visit the grave site of my best buddy from parochial school who died too young and under tragic circumstances.  It seems that whenever I’m in the vicinity, he calls me over there, and I willingly go.  Dave was an amateur archaeologist and his resting place is very close to his beloved Kerr Lock, a site along the old Wabash & Erie Canal, which was an important transportation route for a few years before the introduction of railroads and steam engines.

Dave is gone, but the lock and the river remain.  My high school friends have scattered to the winds, but the shelter house atop Hominy Ridge is unfazed.  Me?  I rode the 13 miles back down the hills and onto flat land, over to my mom and dad’s house for Easter lunch at 1 p.m.  It was delicious and we got to visit with so many relatives and friends.  And the thousand plus calories I burned during the ride convinced me to eat way too many desserts, which is okay…just this once.

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Spring!

Seeing how we’re visiting family this weekend,  I only had time for a few miles on the bike,  but they were good.  I did six miles on the Progress Pathway just for the pleasure of riding.

And it was good.   I spent the morning visiting with my oldest son,  who dropped by,  and then mowed and did yard work.

The bike ride was accomplished in tech pants and a travel shirt,  and was the first ride this year when spring was truly all in.   I drank it up and it was good.

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End of the journey encounter

Pan American Cyclists

Pan American Cyclists

I recently had an amazing encounter that I wanted to share here for your edification.

After work on the afternoon of April 15th, I was heading into Franklin on 31 and passed three long distance cyclists pedaling into our freak snowstorm. Putting my self in their shoes, I zipped up to McDonalds and bought each of them a large hot chocolate, then turned around and caught back up with them and talked with them for about fifteen minutes.

The scene was surreal. It was spitting snow, we were using my car as a windbreak, and they were grasping the steaming styro cups with plastic grocery store bags tied over their hands, which are the frugal person’s bar mitts. I do plan on doing a lot of bike camping and long distance rides in the coming years, so I’m hoping they entertain my occasional brain-picking emails to see how they handled certain things.

It turns out they are all from Goshen College, and are on the last leg of a Pan American bicycle trek. They left from Paraguay in May of 2013 and will be returning to their “normal” lives in just a couple days. Although I bet their new normal will be pretty awesome. They’re an interesting group of young men. Read up on them at http://panamericacycle.wordpress.com/

I’ll spend the next few weeks starting at the beginning of their travelogue and read my way forward.  But though I only met the three of you:  Abe, Michael, Levi, (and Matthew), you guys are an inspiration for several reasons, one of the most important of which is this.

If you have the choice, never settle for anything less than amazing.  Good job, guys.  Well ridden.

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Biking every day

On April Fools Day, no joke, I started participating in #30daysofbiking.  I have nothing but good things to say with the results.  Was April too early in the riding season to begin such an undertaking?  No, it wasn’t, and let me tell you about it.  There is no such thing as a “riding season.”  That was lesson #1 from 3odob.  I’m not a competative cyclist.  There, I said it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against spandex and performance fabrics, and I wear them quite often.  It helps that I don’t care if people don’t like what I’m wearing.  I’m not wearing it for them.  It also helps that I’ve lost more than 30 pounds over the past four months and can rock my kit.

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Early spring sunrise over Mt. Auburn, Indiana.

But give me any excuse to ride a bike, and I’m there.  And I want that mindset to go viral.  This really is a lifestyle decision on my part, tied into a larger worldview that isn’t necessarily minimalist, but it does screw up its eyes at consumption, sprawl, and waste.

In recognition of the realization that getting on a bike every day of my life, for some reason, is a desirable pursuit, I hereby christen a new blog category “Bike Every Day” which will recount what I biked for and any interesting encounters it spawned.  Whether it’s pedaling to the store for dinner groceries, riding to or from work (25 miles each way), riding a rail trail, or just out goofing off and avoiding responsibility, I’m just going to do it.

Join me.

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Hitting the Hill

The National Bike Summit 2014 is going on as I write, and this is the day when attendees climb the Hill to lobby for bikes.  But it goes beyond that.  If you’re landing here and reading these words, you probably have a tale to tell about the importance of bicycles.  Across the board, it is a matter of social justice, and the poorer among us carry the brunt of the complete inhospitability of most of the roadways built in the U.S. in the past 50 years.  I won’t talk about the evil of cars, because there is a place for them.

Everybody is a pedestrian.

We must also demand that there be a place for our bikes, too.  And don’t forget you walked to your bike.  Everybody is a pedestrian, but to see our transportation infrastructure, you’d think that we all magically float above the mayhem happening every day on the roads. So I wanted to give a fist bump, respect, heartfelt thank you, to those walking the halls on the Hill on our behalf. Locally, thank you to Richard Vonnegut of Hoosier Rails to Trails Council. Thank you Nancy Tibbett of Bicycle Indiana. I could name a dozen, but you are all in my thoughts today as I prepare for our own Shelbyville Bike Trails meeting later this afternoon, when we will stand up a mayor’s active transportation advisory committee, and the mayor will choose it’s chairperson.

So many good things are happening, I hope it leads to concrete policies and safer and more beautiful places to walk and bike.

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