Wishing for Gears

I was out riding the Felt today, and on my way home as I was approaching the overpass over the 35 bypass, a tractor-trailer was turning left onto Bellbrook Avenue ahead of me. I stood up, sprinted and tucked into his slipstream. I was very pleased with myself riding along in that pocket of dead air until I made a sad realization:

Once we start down the hill there’s absolutely no way I can spin fast enough to stay with him. Damn.

I don’t recall ever wishing so sincerely that I was riding my geared bike during the nearly 3 years that I’ve been exclusively on fixed gear bikes.

As I sat up and watched the truck pull away down the other side of the hill I decided that I have to get the geared bike out on the road.

Madonna del Ghisallo Medallion

I’ve had the new bike for over 3 months now, but for some reason I just got around to putting its Madonna del Ghisallo medallion (which I purchased in anticipation of buying the bike) on. As I’ve written before, this isn’t necessarily about religion, but it has become a sort of talisman to me. Both of my other bikes have one and now, so does the Felt.

Madonna del Ghisallo medallion on the stem of my Felt TK2.
Click for close-up of medallion.


I really like the way they look once they take on the patina of an old penny, but right now I’m digging the contrast. The bike, stem, and bars are all matte black, so the shiny copper medallion is a nice counter-point.

Yeah I know… “Thirty-six minutes to ride less than 7½ miles*? Wimp!”
You have to take into consideration all of the stop-signs and red-lights getting out of town (16, by my count), plus I had a 10-15 mph headwind, and I was taking it easy (honestly).

*The distance from my house to here and here (they’re the same place).

Exotic Birds, Part II

Today on my way back from the bike shop I passed a deer; a young doe, standing just off the side of the road (on my side). I turned around and rode back, positioning myself for a photo while she warily watched me. As I fumbled for the camera, I noticed her looking more tense, just then her little fawn appeared from the bushes and nursed for a moment. Now having become much more concerned with my presence, mom began leading her little one away from me. I grabbed a quick picture before riding on, leaving them to their business.

Mama deer and baby
The two barely discernible blobs near the center are the deer
Click for a digitally zoomed ‘Bigfootesque’ view

A bit closer to home, very near where I drew inspiration from the elderly gentleman on his bike the other day, I spot what appears to be a motorized wheelchair coming down the road toward me. As we draw closer, I realize that it is, in fact, a man in a motorized wheelchair, and perched on his shoulder is a great big parrot!

As we pass I say “howdy”, he nods, and the parrot squawks. As I ride away, I can hear the parrot squawking for quite some time, I’m pretty sure he was talking about me, but it’s hard to say. I do wish I had stopped and asked them if they’d mind me taking their picture. Oh well… maybe next time.

Go for a bike ride, or a walk out in the country. There truly is no telling what you might see.

Exotic Birds

Today while I was out riding my bike I saw a Peacock! I was going to title this post “Unusual Birds”, but since I’ve been seeing a peacock at that same spot every now and then for years, it’s not really that unusual. Plus, exotic is really more descriptive anyway.

I would have taken a picture, but he lives beside a nice little down-hill on a fairly heavily trafficked road. And you know… bike riding, particularly on the fixed-gear, is all about preservation of momentum.

Perfect Day for a Ride

Today it was about 70°F (21°C) with bright sun and fluffy white cumulus clouds marching by overhead. There was just enough gusty breeze to keep things interesting, basically as close to perfect riding weather as I would dare to hope for. I don’t mind hot weather (which is good, given that summer seemed to arrive in mid-May this year), but 70-ish seems to be where my motor runs best.

As I was rolling out of town I spotted two wrenches in the road, which I grabbed to add to my collection of road finds.


Later, riding along an otherwise empty country road, I passed another cyclist going the other direction; a gentleman of (I’m guessing) 70+, tan, shirtless, and fit-looking. We exchanged pleasantries and I rode on, grinning a bit wider than before, imagining my future riding off behind me.

The much needed rain we finally got yesterday had everything looking very fresh and green; a Goldfinch paced me for bit before disappearing into the trees. The day just kept getting more perfect!

Turning back toward town, the wind shifted and I glided along effortlessly at 20MPH, all was right in my world.

Back in town, heading home, I did a (rare for me) perfect trackstand at a 4-way stop and the driver whose turn it was actually went.

Harsh reality, as always, awaited. A block later a car coming the other direction starts to turn directly in front of me; the dreaded left cross! He’s coming right at me, I’m going too fast to stop… thankfully his window is down and he hears me shout “Hey!” He jams on the brakes as I’m right in front of him, looking right into his wide, vacant eyes.

“My bad” he says.
“My bad?”
“My bad” is for when your buddy is wide-open under the basket and you don’t pass him the ball. “My bad” is for when you spill your drink. “My bad” is not for when you nearly hit someone with your car. “My bad” in that situation will get you (at a minimum) cursed at. Thankfully, by the time I realized how much that pissed me off, I had cleared the intersection and was riding away (cursing over my shoulder).

I’m glad I’d had an otherwise perfect day, it makes the near-miss much easier to shrug off. I’m also grateful that the near misses are few enough and far enough between that I don’t recall when the last one was. I do know that I’ve put quite a few perfect rides under my wheels since then, however.

More Bike Month Reminders

This reminder from the League of American Bicyclists:

Bike-to-Work Week from May 14-18 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 18.

Many communities will be having special festivities on the 18th, with some even providing donuts and such! Check your local listings, as they say.

As Matthew, AKA “Defective Yeti” wrote on his blog:

Trifecta

I like riding my bicycle to work. By the time I arrive at the office, my body is flooded with my three favorite substances: adrenaline, endorphins, and self-righteousness.

Add free coffee and donuts to that equation and it approaches perfection!

Also, on a more somber note, don’t forget that May 16 is the date for this year’s Ride of Silence

Ride of Silence

Toe Overlap

I mentioned in a comment earlier that the new bike has a fair amount of toe-overlap. If you aren’t familiar with the cyclist’s dilemma of toe-overlap, and for some unfathomable reason would like to be, click here.

Anyway, on with the story. The other day I was heading out for a ride. Just as the light I was approaching turned red, the SUV behind me decided to squeeze by. Not wishing to be squeezed, I eased over and asserted my claim to next spot in the queue at the light. Putting my left foot down, I lifted the back wheel and positioned my right crank at about 10 O’clock-ish, ready to rock and roll as soon as the light changed. So far so good.

Then the light turned green and I was inexplicably stuck… frozen… immobilized. Before the realization dawned that I had managed to turn the wheel far enough to jam my toe against it, I had really, firmly planted my toe. My first instinct was just to unclip my foot and get myself loose, but so thoroughly stuck was I that this wasn’t possible. Long story short, Mr. SUV man had to wait through an extra cycle of the light while I, feeling like an ass, wished for a hole to crawl into. Thankfully there was no horn-honking, no angry words were exchanged, and I didn’t topple over like a complete spaz, though I did do one heck of a convincing spaz impersonation, in 5 O’clock traffic.

Ain’t life grand?

Bike Fit / Positioning

On previous rides on the new bike, I’d decided that my saddle needed to come down just a bit, and that its nose needed to come up a degree or two (I prefer it to be either level, front to back, or to have an almost imperceptible nose-down tilt). Anyway, before heading out today I finally adjusted the angle and dropped the seat about 1/16″. After riding along for a bit, I decided it was now too low, so I raised it about 1/8″. Continuing on my ride this felt a tiny bit too high. Apparently, it had been exactly where it needed to be before I starting fussing with it (other than the angle, which now feels just right).

Another thing struck me as odd. I was climbing easier (remember, this is a fixed-gear I’m talking about), but felt like I was spinning out at a lower speed. “It’s almost like I swapped the gear.” I thought to myself.

Upon arriving home, I checked and sure enough, I had, in fact, been riding with the wheel swapped to the side with the 17T cog, rather than the 16T. “Oh, yeah… I did that yesterday, when it was raining”, I suddenly remembered.

Duh!

I was relieved to verify that my spin hadn’t actually slowed down, I’m still maxing out at my pitiful 140 RPM, at least until I can polish off the rough edges I developed over the winter.

The Maiden Voyage

I couldn’t have asked for nicer weather to take the new bike out for a spin. It made it into the mid-sixties today! I was actually a bit too warm with my lightest tights and a long-sleeved jersey.

My new Felt TK2, out for the first ride.
Click photo to enlarge

The new bike rides like a dream. I don’t know if it’s the carbon fork or what, but it actually gives a much smoother ride than the Pista (using the same wheels and tires). I really could not be any happier with it. I love my new bike!