As it turns out, this weekend had more “cycling activty” than it did “motorcycling activity” with quiet evenings at home so the TandemGeek’s Blog will get the “weekend update” blog entry for a change! Just thought I’d give y’all fair warning since I’ve pretty much done all of these weekly journals on my other blog, RidingTwoUp.
Again, for those who aren’t avid readers of both blogs, the weekly journal is just that and pulls double-duty as I mail a hard copy of it to my parents in Pennsylvania so they can stay abreast of what we’re up in between our weekly calls on Sunday nights. Yes, yes… it would probably be easier to read on the internet for most folks, but thankfully not everybody is internet savvy. So, with that said, here’s the news from Lake Wobegon!
Coming off of our long weekend in Daytona back on March 10-13, we were looking for some tandem-time this past weekend. As noted in an earlier blog entry back on March 6th, we’ve got tandem cycling back square in our sights. In fact, this was something I even made a point of mentioning in a bit of a rant I posted to my other blog regarding my Love/Hate Relationship with Harley-Davidson, to wit:
From a purely an emotional and spiritual perspective, our foray into the Harley-Davidson experience back in July 2011 has been one of the two best lifestyle decisions we’ve made, second only to our jump into tandem bicycle riding nearly 20 years ago. The friends we’ve made, places we’ve gone with those friends and our riding experiences have all been fantastic. The only downsides have been an encroachment on our tandem cycling time and the resultant loss of cycling strength and endurance as well as the off-the-charts, non-discretionary spending on the motorcycles, accessories, apparel and trip expenses.
We’re now trying hard to find the right balance between the motorcycling and tandem cycling, as the cycling will always be our greatest passion: if we had to choose between one and the other, it would be cycling. And, you’d have to be a cyclist to understand that. I say this as someone who has been riding and passionate about bicycles for 53 years and motorcycles for 45 years. Cycling simply allows you to do something for which there is no substitute, i.e., traveling great distances at a brisk pace using human power. It gives you many of the same sensations as riding a motorcycle but with a far-greater sense of accomplishment and a personal health bonus.
Friday really didn’t offer much in the way of any cycling opportunity since it was a workday. Therefore, the highlight was our “Finally a Friday” celebration at our regular weekend hangout, Loco Willy’s. Yes, there’s a 90% probability that if we eat out – and we do so about 2-3 times per week – we’ll be doing it at Loco Willy’s. We really enjoy their food and being regulars have amassed a large group of friends who are also regulars, never mind becoming very close friends with the folks who own and work at Loco’s.
This past Friday night was no exception: a great time was had by all and by all, we knew 20 out of the 24 people sitting at the bar. It’s simply a blast getting together with that many friends on Friday & Saturday nights, and occasionally on Sunday afternoons. Again, coming off our extended weekend in Daytona Beach, late nights, lots of “fun” and nearly 1,200 miles of riding two-up on the motorcycle in just four days, we were actually looking forward to having some down time in the evenings at home and getting a tandem ride or two in over the weekend. True to that goal, we headed home after Loco’s to enjoy some us time at the house!
Now, as much as we were looking forward to a weekend of down time, Debbie was enlisted to baby sit Wesley & Julie’s three little girls from 1:00pm Saturday afternoon until 9:00am Sunday morning; Yikes! She mentioned this to me after signing-on for the duty to make sure it was OK and, well, of course it’s OK. It’s what grandmothers do!
We had a relatively quiet morning at the house on Saturday, noting Debbie and I were both struggling with allergies. Debbie’s seem to be worse than mine this time around as she’s been having a bout with vertigo and an eye infection, both of which were likely caused by our very robust pollen outbreak.
About mid-way through the morning I headed out to the garage to finish cleaning-up from our Daytona Beach Bike Week trip. In addition to getting what I like to call the “Accessory that Shall Remain Nameless” (ATSRN) stowed away in the garden shed I still needed to give our motorcycle a good deep-cleaning– noting that we spent a good hour or so riding in light rain – to remove all of the salt air residue and road crud from the bike so as to keep corrosion and rust at bay. I say this as Harley-Davidson doesn’t always do the greatest job of making sure their bikes resist rust and corrosion. So, as you can imagine, having to rub-down just about every square inch of chrome & aluminum with Mother’s Aluminum Polish (best stuff) and all of the painted surfaces with 3M polishing compound and then buffing-off the residue can take some time and effort: about 3 hours’ worth all told.
After Debbie left and to break things up I also mixed-in a little yard work, a couple of loads of laundry and best of all a short bicycle ride during the afternoon. The bicycle ride gave me a chance to try out one of our two new Voler partner program jersey designs: the Blacktop Cyclery’s Cyclocross Team Colors. The colors were a bit brighter than they appeared in the on-line photo, but even with that it’s really a fun jersey. Oh, and the ride was nice; temps in the 60’s, winds in the teen’s but mostly cloudy skies. Despite the gloomy skies, it felt really good to be out there spinning the pedals again: as I wrote earlier, cycling truly is our #1 recreational passion despite an obvious interest in motorcycling.
After getting back to the house and getting cleaned-up I headed over to the kids house so I could help Debbie out with the girls during the dinner hour when things can sometimes become overwhelming. I had a nice visit, but took my leave just after little Vivian went down for the night (and not happy about it) and before movie time as I could only imagine what it would be like after the two older girls polished off a couple of sugar-laden honey buns following dinner.
I chilled-out at back at home by putting a coat of Zaino Clear Seal (CS) on the Harley’s freshly cleaned chrome and painted surfaces (it’s the most amazing stuff) so it could fully cure overnight ahead of a coat of Zaino Z-2 Pro polish on Sunday to finish the job. I finished off the night being a couch potato and streaming Season 4 of Archer: it’s made in Georgia! Archer’s not for everyone but being a fan of the James Bond, Our Man Flint, Get Smart, Bourne Supremacy genre of spy shows and movies it tickles my funny-bone.
After getting home and recovering a bit after babysitting the three granddaughters, Debbie and I headed out to run a few errands when the stores opened around 11:00am and noon. We struck out with hardwood flooring at three stores, but hit a home run with our fourth stop. Suffices to say, it was a new place Debbie had been referred to for some badly needed apparel and we had what I’ll simply call an informative, entertaining and enjoyable shopping experience. It wasn’t quite up there with getting Misty-fied at Skips in Daytona, but it came close! After that we headed home and headed out for a short ride on the tandem in the mid-afternoon.
The temps had dropped into the low 50’s with winds in the 20’s and it was a bit overcast as we prepared to roll-out of the driveway. A little bit of sunshine would have helped and I was confident if we were patient the sun would, in fact, emerge from the clouds. Thankfully, my instincts were correct and the sun came out two miles into our ride and stayed-out for the duration: how nice was that! We also had a chance to try out our new, long-sleeve and fleece-lined DrunkCyclist jerseys: very nice! The ride was easily the highlight of our early afternoon and a perfect capstone event for the weekend!
We finished out Sunday with some hot wings at Loco Willy’s and then headed back to the house to relax before starting the work week preparation process. It was a good weekend even though I didn’t get any yard work done. It’s probably one of the last ones where I’ll be able to ditch cutting the lawn since it’s started to come out of dormancy. Oh, the joys of spring, yard care and home maintenance. I’m actually thinking about having someone come in to paint the house instead of finishing it myself. I think I just want it done instead of trying to chip away at it in my spare time. But, we’ll see. Those estimates usually cause my heart to skip a beat as I’m generally too cheap to pay someone to do something that’s well within my abilities. Sadly, it’s the time that I just don’t seem to have enough of!
Miscellaneous Ramblings on Cycling:
We still have a long-way to go to get in proper form for the upcoming tandem rallies. Hopefully daylight savings time will afford us the chance to get in some post-work, weeknight rides. With that in mind, I carried Debbie’s road bike down to the garage from the work-out room where it’s been sitting on the Fluid2 trainer all winter so it’s now road ready when she is.
I’ll probably skip the road rides and go with off-road if I can get home early enough, just because I think it makes me work harder than the road rides. I just don’t ride with enough intensity on the road to do much strength building and there’s not enough time to get in the miles I need for building endurance. Hmmm, that sure seems to support an argument for retiring early and moving into my retirement plan… noting I plan to ride a lot more. Yeah, well… who am I kidding: I’ve got a few years ahead of me before I hang-it up and take off the golden 1099 handcuffs.
Seriously, with the cost of health care being what it is, I’ve got at least another four years of work to go unless I retire and find some other gainful employment that has health care benefits. Sadly, not many of things I’d like to do in retirement provide much in the way of benefits and Lord knows, I certainly wouldn’t take an 80% pay cut and give up excellent benefits for marginal ones just to take on any job. Therein lies the challenge that so many of us face. Perhaps I should run for Congress, I hear those guys make pretty good money, have good benefits and usually increase their net worth 10-fold in just 4-6 years!
Getting back to reality, even though we’re looking ahead to the Alabama Tandem Weekend in late April we will probably skip the Friday ride and post-ride events and delay our arrival until Saturday morning. We’ll need to leave the house at 6:00am with an eye towards catching Saturday’s 8:15 riders meeting and group roll-out. That will still allow us to visit with with folks on Saturday afternoon and evening, spend the night, ride Sunday and then head home.
This revised plan will allow us to celebrate Debbie’s upcoming birthday early on Friday evening at the SuBourbon Social Club and Oyster Bar as a dance & party band called Grey Sunday will be playing. We’ll probably be joined by about 12 friends and are making arrangements to get several tables reserved so it should be a good time!
Of course, pulling off the double — birthday bash & tandem weekend — assumes we’ll be able to get up at 5:00am for the 6:00am departure after a night out at SuBourbon’s: that may be a bad assumption. None-the-less, it’s our current plan. We’ll survey our friends in mid-April to confirm there’s enough interest before we ink the plan with the folks at SuBourbon’s and before we adjust our room reservations over in Huntsville. Yeah, that will be one heck of a weekend if we can pull it off. And, if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, we’ll be riding our motorcycle to Panama City Beach on the following Thursday for the four-day fall edition of Thunder Beach! Gotta love spring rallies!
Speaking of spring rallies, we have firmed-up a triplet outing with our friend and guest stoker Lisa at the upcoming Georgia Tandem Rally in May; that should also be a grand time. Again, we’ll need to get serious about our cycling between now and then as the flat riding in Statesville, Georgia, is the kind of riding we find to be the most challenging. We prefer rolling to hilly terrain as it plays well to our relatively lighter team weight and ability to climb better than average. On the flats, “might makes right” and we get dropped like hot rocks by the bigger, stronger teams, especially the ones who ride nothing but the flat lands in the low country along the Atlanta coast and down in Florida.
It’s all good, it’s just more fun when we can hang with some of the folks who Lisa also enjoys visiting with when we’re at a tandem rally. I sure am glad we’ve continued to hold onto the triplet, it really is a special treat when we do these rallies with Lisa and/or other guest stokers!!
Finally, I should note the switch to Shimano STI on the Calfee tandem continues to yield pretty good shifting. I’m still struggling since Campy’s shifting systems are still fully ingrained into my psyche and find myself pushing on the wrong lever or searching for a thumb paddle now and again, but by and large the rear and even the front derailleur are shifting quite nicely. We had a hard time getting the chain to drop off the middle ring into the small (alpine or granny, if you prefer) chain ring on a fairly steep grade during yesterday’s ride; however, I attribute that to captain error by not shifting into the small chain ring early enough. Once Debbie has that rear crankset loaded up it’s hard to get that chain to drop and that’s exactly what happened. Even when she’s soft pedaling it’s not all that soft which makes it nearly impossible for the chain to be pushed off the middle ring by that very weak Shimano front derailleur cage return spring. A minor nit, to be sure.
Hey, hey… I was able to get out and hit the trails Monday evening after work this week! While my form after working an 11-hour day may not be the greatest and being back on the hardtail Dean mountain bike vs. the full-suspension Ventana took a bit more out of me than usual, it sure felt good to get in an on-bike workout during the week. The last time I enjoyed an evening ride was back in the fall! Now, if I can just find a way to do this three times a week!