Weird Story

…on Tarik Saleh’s blog.  When he went to the NAHBS, he stepped into the Twilight Zone (does anyone even remember this “twilight” reference anymore?).

Weird stuff.

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Brooks Swallow

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Brooks Swallow for sale.

Chrome rails, honey color, excellent condition, $115 shipped CONUS.

Although it is lighter and more elegantly styled, and it actually works fairly well for me, I decided I prefer the feel of the B17 shape.

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The Planning of It

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I enjoy Friday evenings. That is the time used to plan Saturday outings on the bicycle. I try to plan efficiently, and not to take too much time from other responsibilities. But I’ll confess that sometimes while engaged in other tasks, my mind drifts elsewhere. There are constraints to work within, and a few details to sort out.

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Time is a constraint. Most Saturdays, the morning is available. Even so, being out for several hours means I must think about how early to rise. If it’s been a long, hard week, sacrificing saddle time for rest enhances the experience. Time on the bike is also affected by weather.

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Any time other than mid-summer, I take a close look at the weather. Temperature and wind direction are factored into duration and route selection. They affect clothing, refreshments, as well as the number and location of rest stops. Sometimes I need a shady hilltop for a place to cool off, and sometimes I need a sunny protected area for a warm up. There’s not much need to study the weather in mid-summer. We know it’ll be hot and dry, the wind will be from the south, and the earliest possible start allows for the most comfortable conditions.

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Bike selection is part of the planning process. Lately, the choice is between my Quickbeam and the A. Homer Hilsen. Coasting and spinning, or pure simplicity. In this part of the world, either works pretty well. So the choosing is part of the fun of planning. Sometimes the choice is dependent on the ride purpose.

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It might be surprising that I actually plan Saturday outings based on several possible ride objectives. Perhaps, this blog would suggest that my rides are essentially one-dimensional, but they don’t seem that way to me. Some rides are intended to cover more distance with minimal stops. Others are short rides to a special place to spend time there enjoying the spot. I plan outings for breakfast, lunch, or to brew coffee. A few of my rides are focused on exploration, or photographs. The purpose of the ride (among other things) influences route selection.

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Selecting a route is probably the most time consuming of my planning tasks. After factoring in the ride purpose, weather, time, and bike selection, I need a place to go. The usual approach is to select from a large number of habitual routes, and try to allow for a tailwind return. But sometimes, I skip route planning and just make it up while pedaling.

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Part of the planning activity is devoted to gear. Whether it is camera gear, clothing, hydration, food, or maybe even a book, at least some thought is given to these things. Along with these, there’s the matter of how to carry it all. Most of the time the little Carradice saddlebag is perfect. But sometimes more cargo capacity is required.

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I don’t give much thought to contingencies. Still I make sure to have tools, wallet, and a cell phone. For minor mechanical problems, I should be able to make corrections and resume my ride, or return home. For more serious problems, I like to make sure Mrs. Pondero is available to help. Sometimes I’ve gone out when having her rescue me might be a little inconvenient. I usually go anyway, but I almost always think about a possible backup plan.

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Finally, I think about preparing my body. For me, this mostly means trying to get plenty of sleep, a good dinner the night before, and a hearty breakfast. I’ve been known to fail on the sleep thing. If that happens, there is often a plan for a post-ride nap. When it comes to personal comforts, I’m pretty good at thinking of everything.

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It might sound like a lot of time and trouble, but it is neither. I’ve been riding bicycles for several years now. The Saturday morning bicycle outing is a routine. It almost happens automatically while lubing the chain and checking tire pressure. I dare say that planning an outing doesn’t take as much time as reading about how it is done. Even if it did, I wouldn’t give it up. The planning of it adds pleasure to a bicycle outing, and anticipation is part of the fun.

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Be Ready

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Much of life is impossible to predict.  The sense of order we create for ourselves can  sometimes suggest some level of cause and effect.  Because we plan, we have expectations.  Because we have an ability to make choices, we sometimes think we have more control than is real.  Then some life event catches us by surprise.  Things happen to us that have nothing at all to do with our cleverness, power, ability, or planning.

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Sometimes those surprises are delightful opportunities.  Like, for example, a mild February day and time enough to get out on a bicycle to enjoy it.  When those unexpected doors open up, it is good to be ready to leap through with thanksgiving.

Sometimes those surprises are much less pleasant, and can not be escaped.  These should not be forgotten.  I’m old enough now to know that adversity is normal.  It seems best to be ready with backup resources to push through those harsher sections.  It is good to have help standing by at the ready.  Relationships with people motivated by love has proven very effective for me.

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Mid-Winter Mixed-Terrain Metric

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It was a dreary, cloudy, windy day, and in the upper 40’s when I rolled out.  But after seeing how some of my bicycle blog buddies around the country are suffering through a REAL winter, how could I let such an opportunity to spend a few hours on the bike pass by?

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I stood in my living room staring at my bike.  Under my breath, I went through a sort of checklist.  Water…food…camera…rain gear…wallet…cell phone…tools…

Mrs. Pondero, who is quite used to my odd ways, deadpanned this interruption…

“Are you chanting?”

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As is my custom, I selected a loop that started into the wind, planning a tailwind push back home.  I “enjoyed” a refreshing cross-wind and light rain crossing the Lake Ray Roberts dam, then rolled into horse-crazy Aubrey, Texas and took a breather.

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The route then took me west along FM 428 to the Greenbelt trail.  I took the trail into Denton and enjoyed a refuel stop at a coffee shop.  The last 20 miles or so were almost all tailwind.

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The new A. Homer Hilsen is working out perfectly.  Maybe the set-up on this one is better than the last one.  Maybe I did a better build job.  Maybe its just new bike joy.  Whatever it is, this bike takes me where I want to go…pleasantly.

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Let’s see…metric century…6 hours…two food stops…coffee…nice mix of paved, gravel, and dirt…numerous photo stops…wool kept me toasty warm…the perfect bike…

Uh oh…I’m chanting again…

7

Gravel Plunking Country Bike

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My favorite rides are not exactly what I think of when I hear the term “gravel grinder”.  I think of something faster paced, or competitive when I hear those words.  Whether it is time, terrain, or other riders, it is as if grinding implies there is something to overcome.  Instead, I just kind of plunk around.  I roll gently up and down, and weave through the rough spots.  When I’m done, I didn’t overcome.  Like neighbors having a chat, I was just visiting.

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You don’t see many bicycles out here on these gravel roads.  It looks quite different than the pickup trucks normally plunking down these roads with a friendly wave.  But this one seems to blend well with the landscape somehow.  And it seems perfect for its intended purpose.

Plunking.

AHH Again

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It took some maneuvering, but a 650b A. Homer Hilsen is back in my stable.  I bought a used and repainted frame, and was able to reuse some the parts from my original AHH.  It feels very good to have restored this bike, and what it can do for my camping and other geared bike needs (wants), to my rotation.

There are two significant changes for the sequel version.  I’m experimenting with an non-dynohub lighting system, and bar end shifters.  Since I’ve never had bar end shifters before, I decided to route the cables outside the bar tape.  If I don’t enjoy them, I can easily go back to downtube shifters (which work fine) without redoing the bar tape.

The photo above is from a short test ride Thursday night.  On Saturday morning, I’m hoping for a real gravelly, country ride on my country bike.  And I’ve already got an idea for a S24O at a new location.