Back in the Saddle, Shimano STI & The Weekend At Home


20151114_153838After far too long of a hiatus from cycling, Miss Debbie and I finally found a day when the weather was nice enough and she was feeling good enough to swing our legs over the tandem and get out for a much-needed ride.

Although somewhat hard to believe, the last time we were able to get out and ride our tandem was back on September 27th.  That was after being without our Calfee road tandem since August 23rd when a coupler weld failed, necessitating the frame’s return to Calfee in California for a warranty repair.  Yes, we were able to get in a few rides on our single bikes and even managed an off-road tandem ride (woo hoo!) while the Calfee was out for repair, but there’s just something about riding our road tandem that feels right.

Saturday’s ride wasn’t a long once since it was our first time back in the saddle. Moreover, Debbie is still struggling with some type of injury to her rib cage — likely a soft tissue tear or perhaps even a light fracture that didn’t show up on X-Rays back on October 16th — and deep breathing cold air exacerbated the normal discomfort.  But, we both agreed it was good to get out and spin our legs after being house bound by both the weather and recovery from injuries.   Seriously, I’m pretty sure it rained on every weekend since early October when Hurricane Joaquin hammered the east coast. Add to that being run-down on our motorcycle by a motorist who wasn’t paying attention and there’s just not been a lot of opportunities to get out and ride.


The other big news from yesterday’s ride was how well the Shimano Ultegra 6700 STI shifters mated to our 1990’s era RD-M950 8 speed derailleur worked.  Regular readers may recall that on the rainy weekend when we were supposed to be at the Southern Tandem Rally in Richmond, Virginia, I was in our garage swapping out the hybrid Campy Ergo levers / SRAM X.0 rear derailleur shifting system on the Calfee with the Shimano 6700 levers & an old XTR rear derailleur.  Yesterday was technically the shake down ride for the new shifting system and it went rather well.

While I had to remind myself that the shifting mechanisms were very different several times during our ride, the shifts were all crisp and clean. Well, OK, the barrel adjuster probably needs to be rotated an 8th of a turn and the front derailleur needs to be trimmed just a touch as there was a little chain rub when the chain was in the middle up front and the tallest cog out back. But, for an ‘out of the box’ installation that was set-up in the work stand, that’s pretty darn-good shifting performance.

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I may need to put a somewhat shorter stem on the tandem as the STI levers seem to be a bit further forward than the Ergo levers.  More to come.


As far as the rest of the weekend goes, it was spectacular!  We had a great time on Finally a Friday at Loco Willy’s.  On Saturday, I started off my day composing an Email to my State Farm insurance agent to express my disappointment that no one from his office had bothered to follow-up with us since we first reported our accident a month ago, and to fill him in on what was going-on and provide feedback on the State Farm claims experience, as I suspected there’s not much communications between the claims department and agents.  A phone message from him later in the day confirmed those suspicions.

The rest of the morning was spent getting caught up on a lot of yard work that had been on hold due to the weather and then heading down to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) to get Miss Debbie a new helmet, noting we’ll be wearing helmets all the time from here on out.  The accident in Daytona was a wake-up call: we were incredibly lucky.  BlossomSo, on my last visit to HDA I saw a lovely pearl pink HJC helmet with a lacy white flower pattern on the helmet I thought Debbie might like, noting she’s still not happy that I’m mandating the use of helmets at all times.  I figured if I found find her a helmet that’s somewhat fashionable and comfortable it might be a bit more easy to accept. I also spoiled her a bit with a couple of very nice Harley-Davidson women’s tops that she makes look awesome.

Once we were back at the house Debbie finally felt that it was warm enough and she was feeling strong enough to give the aforementioned tandem bicycle ride a try.  It was definitely a tights and long-sleeve jersey day, something I confirmed by going out with only a short-sleeved jersey that left me chilled to the bone.

FB_IMG_1447540955995We ended the day with another visit to Loco Willy’s for dinner. We arrived somewhat early and started off with yummy order of guacamole.  A short time later our friends David & Deb and Stewart and Teresa showed up and we had a grand time. We split the Willenburger for dinner as we both felt the need for some beef.

spectre-banner-3Around 8:45 pm  we decided it was as good of a night as any to catch the latest installment of the James Bond movie franchise — Spectre — and headed off to the local theater.  I wasn’t sure if it would be a movie I’d like, as the reviews had been mixed. However, being a die-hard James Bond enthusiast — we have all 25 movies on Blue Ray — I felt we needed to go and see it on the big screen.  Rather than writing a new review, here’s a copy of something I posted to Facebook when a friend and fellow Bond movie enthusiast asked what I thought of the flick:

Debbie asked me if I liked it as we walked out of the theater and I had to honestly say, “I’m not sure; I’ll have to think about it.” It had so much potential and simply wasted it on impossible Roger Moore era scenarios and fabricated a plot twist that I don’t believe ever existed in Ian Flemming’s novels and used in the 3rd Austin Powers spoof, Goldmember. Finally, I’m a huge Christopher Waltz fan (the bad guy from Inglorious Bastards & The Green Hornet) and they appeared to waste his talents while, at the same time, reducing the on-screen character from the most formidable villain Bond has ever faced to a Moore-Era psychopath done in by vanity: really? Frankly, it’s time to pull a Dr. Who and introduce a new 007 to bring in a new chapter in the Bond franchise. They simply don’t know how to use the 47-year old actor who IMHO as a Bond film junkie, has been the best of the Bonds both as an actor and as a character: he’s just a badass assassin. Ben Whishaw as ‘Q’ has also been a great addition, clearly designed to appeal to a younger audience but in a very effective and credible way. Well, sort of… he actually seems like he was cast in the mold of Riley Poole from National Treasure, a socially awkward genius who somehow enjoys being in a mid-level, salaried government job who’s worried about his pension. Oh well, I’m rambling.

A visually stunning movie and the plot was also a stunner but not in a good way.  It’s not to say the movie wasn’t entertaining and may have had some appeal to other movie goers, but from my perspective it was a huge disappointment.


I was up around 6:30am, but Debbie continues to need a lot of rest and didn’t stir until 10:30am.  It was still only in the upper 30’s when she woke up, but the temps did finally sneak into the lower 60’s by early afternoon.  However, in terms of getting in that second tandem ride of the weekend, it just wasn’t happening: Saturday’s ride took a lot out of Debbie and also left her with a tender tookus.

I was able to get six weeks of rainy road grime off of Debbie’s little car with a hand wash at home and then took my absolutely grimy truck through the car wash while out running a few errands.  We knocked out laundry, grocery shopping and I swapped out the upstairs and downstairs thermostats and added some backing plates to them to clean up the installation job by Hammock’s Heating and Air from this past July.

nicejeansBeing a Sunday, our normal routine always includes a third and final visit to Loco Willy’s for hot wings.  We usually make that trip on the motorcycle, but with Blue I sitting in a salvage yard somewhere and Blue II stuck in limbo not yet on the insurance policy and waiting for a new exhaust system and ECU update, today would be a truck trip.  It was probably around 2:00pm when we finally headed off and I decided to take the long way by heading over to Horsetown to see if we couldn’t find Debbie another pair of Miss Me ‘Skinny Leg’ jeans. I blame our dear friend Misty for this, as she introduced Miss Debbie to the skinny leg Miss Me jeans on visit to Skip’s Western Wear in Daytona Beach back on October 16th.  Debbie has really enjoyed the way the skinny leg jeans look and feel so we went in search of a couple more pairs to round out her wardrobe.

20151115_155725After our hot wings at Loco it was back to the house to finish up the weekend chores and to wind down from the weekend as we prepared for the work week ahead.  We had a nice phone call with my folks who sounded great; that’s always a highlight of our weekends.  After that and I  ended up taking a very long and uncharacteristic late afternoon nap.  I remember Debbie telling me what was going on with the football games, but was generally out of it for several hours.  So here I sit at 11:00pm wide awake collecting my thoughts from the weekend wondering if I’ll ever be able to get back to sleep tonight!

Oh well, that’s about it.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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One Response to Back in the Saddle, Shimano STI & The Weekend At Home

  1. Kevin Vinson says:

    Greetings Mark! Linda and I were reading your latest installment and we noticed you no longer have your goatee. Linda told me to tell you that you look good and younger without the goatee. As for Debbie, she doesn’t age! You two look great! One more thing, thank you for the Spectre review. I have all of the Bond movies on DVD and I am looking forward to seeing Spectre. I’m in total agreement with you regarding Daniel Craig. You two take care and have a great week.

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