Friday, October 21, 2011

Lions, Tigers and Monkeys

Something really awful happened shortly after Saturday’s brevet.

A man who owned a wildlife preservation in Zanesville with a variety of exotic animals including tigers, lions, monkeys, cheetahs and a bear let the animals loose on Tuesday. Sadly the owner killed himself afterwards. Even more depressing is that the police officers were forced to kill a large majority of the exotic animals to prevent any accidental attacks or deaths of the local residents. Many of the 911 calls of where the animals were located happened to be on the roads we were riding on.

Kind of freaky, really. Considering we got our ass kicked being chased by a wild dog, I can’t imagine being chased by a wild tiger.

Attack of the Woolly Bears!

Thornville-Caldwell-Thornville 200k Brevet
Saturday, Oct. 15th was the last brevet of the year in Ohio, with a start temp of a comfy 46 degrees. I woke up at 4 AM feeling a little ill with a sinus and chest cold. I strongly debated staying home, but I managed to force myself out the door at 4:20. On the way to the highway, I saw the “old man”. The old man is in his mid 60s and rides regardless of weather or time. So when I saw the old man, I felt more motivated and told myself to stop being a cry ass.

The route was an out and back from Thornville to Caldwell with a forecasted high of 65, sunny and a severe wind advisory. The advisory called for sustained winds of 15-20 MPH and gusts up to 40 MPH from the South\South West. Given the forecast, the amount of riders that showed up was on the slim side. Bob, the RBA, was unable to ride because he was stricken with bronchitis, but wished us well on what he promised would probably be a miserable day. Bob sent us off at 7:32 AM.

Let’s just say, things got started off on the wrong pedal . You know how some rides go - a group of riders are just riding assuming everyone is still on course – when in reality everyone was cold and not checking their queue sheets. Within the first two miles, we realize, “hey, we should have turned right 1.8 miles ago”. Whoops.

For the most part, the ride out to Caldwell was ok. The wind was either to the side of us or to the back. The first couple hours were a little boring, just pedaling to stay warm. I ended up talking to a guy named Joe. Joe was telling me this was his first brevet of the year since he had been taken out in March by a squirrel. Apparently this rabid squirrel had attempted to jump through Joe’s front wheel, which caused the front fork to snap, 14 spokes broke and Joe did a face plant while traveling 21 MPH. Joe then had an extensive recovery period of three months that included having numerous facial and ear canal surgeries. Based on how he was performing on our ride, it was hard to tell he had missed any training time. He looked ready to take on the route.
Later in the morning, Joe, Tim and I were slightly separated when this wild dog charged out of a corn field at me. I sprinted hard for 20 seconds and looked back expecting to see the dog a ways back; instead, he was still on my ankle and even more pissed. “Oh shit!”, I said to myself. I sprint this time for a minute standing. Again I look back and again the dog is right there on my ankle. I also noticed that there were 2 cars driving behind the dog because it was running dead center in the lane. Great, so this time I’m doing a standing hard sprint for another minute up hill, when the dog finally broke its chase on me and started chasing Tim. Tim managed to break through unscathed and we finally ditched the wild beast on a long downhill.

It was probably about 10:45 that I realized there were a lot of Woolly Bears on the road, entirely too many to count. There was a Woolly Bear at least every 10 yards on the road. I was constantly attempting to steer slightly out of the way to spare my Woolly friends from a quick death by Vittoria tire. We passed through Zanesville and a couple other small towns.

We arrived in Caldwell at 11:15. Unlike past 200ks, we actually stopped for a quick lunch at Subway. After about 20 minutes off the bike, we started on our journey back. After about 6 miles, it became very apparent that it was about to become a very long day. The force of the wind was insane. I was riding near threshold and barely averaging 10-12 MPH. Joe and Tim pulled away. Every randonneur must ride their own ride, and I didn’t want to blow up on the way back.

Long story short, it was a very long ride back for me. I stayed mostly in an aerobic heart rate zone and was feeling a little under the weather. To kill the boredom of a long ride, I reverted to attempting to count Wooly bears, on which I later gave up. I finished the day with a 200k in 9:32, which for me seemed excessively slow regardless of temp and weather.

Sunday and Monday I got progressively more congested in my sinuses and chest. Tuesday I decide to go to the doctor and found out that I have bronchitis now. Sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jonny's New Toy!

Here's my toy, a Catrike 700. Just so you know, Catrike is pronounced cat-trike. I know what you're thinking, Jonny it only has one "t" (not ca-trike or cat-rike). If you say it incorrectly, a Catrike owner will surely let you know it and clue you in on how to say it correctly, just saving you the hassle.

The 700 is a tadpole recumbent. A tadpole has two wheels in the front (whereas a trike has one wheel in the front and two in the rear). My daughter was very excited to go for a ride on the new bike, so we hooked up the trailer and went out to see some "horsies" and cows. As you can tell from the picture I am equal to if not lower than the height of the trailer. I got the baseline model that has three gears on the front and 10 in the rear. I swapped the cassette out for a 11-36 for more climbing gears. The tadpole by itself weighs about 30 lbs.

Some first impressions of the 700:
  • There is really no torque or brake drift.
  • For me, there is very little or no speed loss on flats and downhills are much faster compared to my road bike. Depending on the hill, climbing speed is a little slower. When going over a really steep pitched hill or a roller on a road bike, a rider can stand up and power through it. On a recumbent, you are stuck sitting, so you lose that technique (although you can pedal harder by using your back on the seat to push off of).
  • Despite being such a small bike, there are ample places to store gear. 
  • Currently the Catrike wheels are not able to run a hub generator for lights (like the Son Deluxe).
  • Compared to a standard road bike, it takes very little pressure on the brake lever to stop the bike (mainly because the brakes are disc).
  • Despite the bike being wider, I have had zero problems with any drivers. Dare I say they seem to be more considerate? Doing some of the same busy roads on a road bike, I get honked and cursed out consistently.
  • All Catrikes come with a generic four foot flag to increase the bike's visibility to cars. I run three strobes on the rear, so I ditched the flag thus far.
  • If you don't pedal with a high cadence, the quads will get wasted quick.
  • The best part, no saddle soreness, numb hands or sore neck\arms as of yet. Woot!
I'll post some more pictures at a later date with closeups and gear mounted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All Randos Love Guns!

Full disclosure, no fellow Randonneurs, rogue sheriffs or animals were harmed during this photo shoot!

It's a well known fact that all Randonneurs love guns. Those that don't, aren't true Randos. :)

So I tell wifey, "Hey, I need some photos of me biking with my AK." Wifey is just so used to the craziness, that nothing really phases her these days. So wifey asks, "Do you know of a place to do this?" I reply, "Yeah, I know this road where there are never cars out in farm country." Go figure, we go to do the photos and there were like six cars that went by and a couple rode by on their bikes within a 10 minute time span. Let's just say, that when they saw me, they got "the f*&k outta dodge" mighty quick! That 25 MPH speed limit turned into 55. Side note: after doing photos of me with the bike in the woods, I got poison ivy on my ankles, totally worth it though.