"Blow me down!" – Popeye

Holy cow, I had no idea this was going to be this challenging of a ride. I was supposed to meet up with a few RW members to ride out of Townsend Park in Cannonsburg. I was 10 minutes late getting there (roads were way worse than I thought they would be), so I was worried that I had missed the group, but I didn't see any cars or bike tracks anywhere. So even though I checked my e-mail and the ride was still "on", the ride ended up getting cancelled when the ride captains decided to call it off because they were not feeling well. (I wouldn't find this out until I got back home, and it looks like that message came through about 10 minutes after I checked my e-mail this morning.)

So not knowing this, I decided anyways to pedal off into the blowing snowy winter wonderland of West Michigan solo. I had no idea where I was going, just looking for less travelled dirt roads.

I only fell down twice. Once when I hit some hidden ruts in the snow on a turn around, then later when (maybe) a 30mph gust blew the wheels right out from under me. Any clearing you came across, there was a chance you'd get blown right off the road - which almost happened once as well. The gust from my left blew me from the center of the road all the way to the very edge, the whole time I was holding on for dear life.

It was a good ride, kinda boring though. Glad I went anyways. Ended up on more paved roads than I was hoping for, so I had to rinse the bike when I got home. Along the way I stopped to talk to a couple walking their dog about 7 miles in and then talked with another couple when I was back at the truck. The last couple thought I was crazy, but the old, balding man was not even wearing a hat. I told him HE was crazy. On one road, an approaching Silverado slowed and had his window rolled down. I stopped. He asked "are you with those crazy niner guys?" Confused, I said "nope. Just another random clown out for a ride." He laughed, then said he rides in the winter too and was giving me directions to some good roads to ride.

Blue Bomber survived. I took all my tools in case of a breakdown, but all was well. He shifted flawlessly, rode smoothly. At one time though, I opened up the HeadShok and there was no pressure - it just bottomed out. Could be three different things: 1) mechanical loss of pressure, which would mean a trip back to the shop, 2) I attempted to pump air into it yesterday, so maybe I did that wrong and it actually lost pressure, or 3) the cold temps today compressed the air enough that there just wasn't enough in there. Oh well, I'll have that to figure out later....

What!? You want me to ride through that blizzard?!?

A much more quiet (sheltered) back road. Calm and out of the wind.
This is what I was looking for all morning.

Slush monster.

I'm not sure how the derailleur was even working, it was so iced up.

Convenient storage.


Blue Bomber Build

I finally got the Blue Bomber back from the bike shop on Friday. They have been waiting for 6 weeks to get the HeadShok parts in from Cannondale. Seems that they have switched (combined) all their computer systems and it was an absolute trainwreck to try and get anything shipped out from there. They were sending in tiny pieces one at a time randomly, until finally it all came in. I guess this is what happens when a once specialized company, gets bought out by a giant conglomerate - they have NO CLUE.

Anyways, it's picture time. Here are some pics of the build. Just waiting for a derailleur hanger to come in the mail, and I can finish the drivetrain and get back out on the road/trails. Getting excited! This bike feels so much more substantial than the General Lee.

This was my little corner of the world for Saturday and Sunday.

Blue Bomber clean-shaven.

This is what happens when a man does not use the proper tools to make it easy
on himself. For example, I could have used a bike stand right about now.

Blue Bomber ready for action, sans drivetrain.

Blue Bomber from head-on. It was quite the project to take the stock black hydraulic
hoses, drain them, measure, cut, route and bleed the new white brake lines.
Lots of work, confusing at times, but it's exactly the look I was going for.
Hopefully I won't crash or die due to lack of brake line pressure. More detailed pics
to come later, you will be able to see some of the meticulous actions taken to make
sure it was built "just perfect".



I took some chances yesterday riding to and from work. Taking chances is fun.

First, it was 30 degrees and very frosty out. I had not yet really tested any of my winter riding gear to their fullest potential. In previous winters, I had only been able to ride for 45 minutes tops before my toes were making it unbearable to pedal any further. On a good day this trip would take 1.5 hours.

Second, I took a chance and rode the Fuji road bike with skinny, slick, fast tires instead of a mountain bike with nice, comfy, sure-footed tires. There was such a coating of frost from Cedar Springs to Rockford that it was actually flinging up off the top of my front tire. After one mile of that, I was debating if this was indeed the right choice. At times, with all the courage I could muster up, all I could manage was 9 mph.

Third, I got a new bike light for Christmas, but had never tested it. You'd think with 120 lumens a man would be fine navigating on his bike, but with a rechargeable battery that had not been fully charged since Christmas, I wasn't sure what I was going to get.

Number four chance was the fact that I haven't ridden more than 12 miles since Thanksgiving day. Here I was going to rip off 48. There has to be a start to the season some time, so why not now. It was forecasted to be 45 degrees by the time work would end, so I was going to torture myself early for the reward later.

For the last 5 miles I decided to make my way around the dreaded MF Hill and take a different route. Flying down Fuller Ave in pure darkness with nothing but car lights and my bike light I saw it. It was last mili-second. Yup, that's right...I call it the "Season Ender". A giant pothole perfect to suck in my front wheel and send me flying over the bars and landing face first in the pavement, breaking who-knows-what. I don't know how I managed, but the S.E. was 2 feet in front of my tire (I never looked directly at it, it just sort of entered my field of vision) and I pulled up every so slightly on the bars enabling me to hit the back side of it and keep on rolling. From that point on, I had a death-grip on the bars and decided I should concentrate a bit harder. How I didn't get at least one pinch flat out of all of that, I'm not sure. The bike gods were watching out for me that day. I owe them one.

Funny part to my day: I made a painful discovery when I got to work. In my duffle bag I quickly realized that I didn't pack a pair of boxers so I had to wear my extra pair of riding shorts under my kakis. I can't go commando, not at work. And since spandex makes you faster (the scientists say), so I was ultra-productive (and comfortable).

All the rest of the riding turned out good - little tired about half way home. Should have eaten a snack before leaving work.

So, I guess it's time to put away the road bike (likely) until spring.

Garmin won't let me display two separate events (maps) apparently, so screen shots are what you get again. Grrrr!!!


Hair of The Dog Ride - 1/1/2012

I will start by saying that I thought I'd have a good time on this ride today, but I never knew how much fun it was going to be. All I was missing were some buddies to pound beers with. Also, I suppose without the proper inclement riding gear, it would have made for a miserable day, but ever since last night when winter weather warnings came out, I couldn't wait to ride this ride - since I'm all geared up for winter riding.

I lucked out in that one of the riding jerseys I asked for for Christmas, my parents bought for me and it turned out to be both water and wind proof. It saved me today. My feet were comfortably warm all day, thank you expensive NorthWave shoes, I love you.

Today started with light rain, then morphed into light sleet, then some snow. Then it was clear, then more sleet, repeat as necessary. One thing was constant...wind. Wind-driven sleet made your face feel like it was being stabbed with tiny needles. (Really, even if they were real needles, as long as there is no blood, should you care?) The weather didn't turn miserable until on my way home when slush was actually accumulating on the highways, so the ride was timed perfectly.

My bike is still in the shop, so Matt convinced me that I needed to borrow one of his. I opted for the always-fun rigid Mongoose Single Speed. It's an outstanding ride, perfect for a ride like this. There were at least half a dozen other single speeds out there plus maybe five fat tire bikes. They look like fun too, although I'm not sure when I would really use one if I had it.

There were 50+ people on the ride. (Official door-count at our first bar stop.) It's organized by a local guy (Jeff Jacobi) who just wants to get people together ("mob-style") to take the city by bike for a day, New Year's Day every year. There was no stopping our "mob". We had people in our group out in traffic halting cars. We rode though playgrounds, tunnels, college campuses, parking garages, through paths in neighborhoods, sidewalks, alleyways, up (real) cobblestone streets - AND visited two bars. What an event, I can't imagine ever missing out on this ride in the future.

There were also 3 hill-climb drag races. Winners of each race earned a Founder's Brewery bottle of beer which we all chanted "CHUG" after they were presented with it. At one point, someone blew out a tire and while they were fixing that, they decided to hold a big-air competition. At the bottom of this giant grassy hill, there was this uphill and lip. Maybe eight or so riders took the challenge. One guy landing one-footed, leaning forward...almost biting it. We cheered.

One sobering moment was stopping at a homeless "shanty-town" out by the train tracks after our first bar stop. Wow, I had no idea that this existed. Most of us brought donations to share. I saw cans of food, jackets, gloves and boots all being dropped off. I bought a ten-pack of hand warmers and left those for them. Every little bit helps - nice touch to the ride. It made me appreciate what I have, regardless of my current daily-battles, and added to the excitement of the day. From that point on, every moment I soaked in, the weather was hardly an issue at all.

Happy 2012 everyone!

The Point Tavern. Bar stop #1. The glorious neon OPEN sign drew us in like
mosquitoes in a bright-light trance.

We filled the joint up. Imagine making your largest sales day of the
year on the very FIRST day of the year.

Shanty Town. Buildings made of pallets, tarps, signs and other wood scraps. Only
saw one guy rummaging around and he seemed really happy to get the donations.
There were others scurrying to the drop offs as word spread.

The sign there says "Do not park in the driveway."

It was an excellent day for Guinness, but I opted for Bud Light.

Uphill drag race #1. For this race, this was only the first hill, there were
two more before finish line.

Finish line at drag race #1. This was a common sight...50 riders taking over
neighborhoods. In some cases, we drew people out of their houses from all
the cheering and yelling.

Uphill drag race #3 start line.

Real cobbles. Yes, that is sand between the rocks. The rocks were very slippery
and on a rigid single-speed wanted to throw you off on every pedal stroke.

The 'goose SS in all it's glory. Iced up, mudded down. It's all good!
Thanks Matt, it made my day and was a perfect start to the 2012 season.