Buddy Commute

Neil rode into work with me today. The only bad part about having a buddy on  the ride is the fact that, while in conversation, I tend to catch more bugs in my mouth. This morning I ingested three.

Get out there... with Neil.



Having just finished up the most intentional training I've ever done on a bike, I'm appreciating the flow that my normal commute gives me. My car is out of commission (again). So this week is all about riding to work. I absolutely love it. The monotony of a commute can get to you at times. But the last few days have felt great. Just ride. No training in mind. No mileage to count. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.

Feels nice.

Get out there.


Horsey Hundred Century Ride

As of this past Saturday, I've officially ridden my first century. The Horsey Hundred took me through 104 miles of Kentucky goodness along with four other pals. For a first century experience, I'd say I feel pretty good about it. I averaged just north of 14 miles per hour for the entire ride. And although I was the slowest of my group, I felt great about that time.

My goal was not to push it. I just wanted to finish. And as a guy who averages about 15 on most of my commutes, I'd say 14 mph is a pretty good time over 104 miles. I tried to make it clear to my riding buddies, though, that they could ditch me any time they'd like. But we would all reconnect at the rest stops. I don't think we ever got separated by more than a few minutes.

There's not really any photos of the event. I kept my phone in my bag the entire time. But, to be honest, most of the roads looked like the Kentucky landscape that is pretty typical of this blog. So I'm not sure that I'd be showing you anything new. You can read a great write-up and some more route detail over on Chris' blog. The most referenced point of the route comes between mile 50 and mile 70. Major climbing throughout those 20 miles. In a perfect world, I suppose, I would have liked those closer to the front of the ride... or not in the ride at all. But climbing is a part of riding. So ultimately, I wouldn't change a thing.
Rest stops were well equipped and well maintained. It seemed like we saw the same couple hundred people at every stop. Being that this was my first official cycling event, I was surprised at peoples' riding styles. I'd see the same riders blaze past me over and over again. So I'm assuming they were riding at a 20 mph pace and just sitting at the rest stop for an hour. My shorter breaks at the stops would put me ahead of them, then the actual riding would drop me back behind them.
I will say one negative thing about the ride, though. Some of the riders were kind of buttholes. I probably had nearly a dozen comments about my choices in attire and bike. One guy said, "Not very smart to ride this on a mountain bike." He was referencing my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is not a mountain bike. The sarcastic jerk inside of me wanted to say, "Not very smart to look at this bike and think it's a mountain bike." But I held my tongue. I heard a couple guys at a stop light bagging on my two-inch wide tires. There were several comments about my basket. "You're more of a man than me to ride a bike with a basket," one guy said.

And here's the truth; in all honesty, those comments don't make me self conscious. I am 100% sure that I know more about bikes than those guys. I know that because I respect their $5000 carbon bikes. I respect their matching lycra kits. An understanding of something often leads to respect of that thing. So I didn't feel embarrassed. I just felt annoyed by their ignorance. Keep your comments to yourself. I think it's cool if you're riding a bike that's weight is measured in ounces. I think it's cool if you're riding your dad's old bike from college. I think it's cool if you're riding a mountain bike, a touring bike, a 'cross bike or a unicycle. I just think it's cool that you're riding.

There was a guy on the side of the road with a mechanical. "You need help? Have everything you need?" I asked. "Not unless you've got a frame with you. Mine cracked," he replied back. There was no part of me that wanted to tell him that his carbon frame was a bad choice. I was bummed that he couldn't ride. But I would never preach at him for having a different philosophy on what makes a good bike frame than my own.

Last year when I ran the half marathon, no one commented on my shorts or tennis shoes. No one said, "Look at that goob in the Asics." Runners don't feel a need to critique someone's else's style. Why do cyclists? I felt like it may have been somewhat stereotypical of club riders. I hate that. And it was those same type of people that were running red lights and yelling at cars at intersections. Yes, we have a right to be on the road... but so do the cars.

I have to say that it made me not want to do a ride like this again. I'd be all about riding 100 miles with some buddies to a camping spot. But I'm not sure that I want to do something like this again soon. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive. And, hear me out, this isn't an indictment on all cyclists. I've been riding with lots of people for many years now and I've loved every one of them that I've met. But this more organized ride gave me a sour taste in my mouth.

On the other hand, I did have several compliments on the LHT. The few that knew about it loved it. One lady rode up next to me on a fancy roadie bike and said, "An LHT! Mine is back home in California and I'm on this fancy loaner!" She said she was visiting her son in Kentucky before leaving on a tour of the California mines on her LHT. Very cool.

A couple others were excited to spot a Surly. They respected the bike because they understood it. One of them had a full kit of lycra and blazed past me at probably 22 mph. But he was pumped to see the Surly out there. So, by no means, were all of the riders jerks. I don't want to dwell on the negative at all. But I was caught off guard by the hater vibes. Those experiences tend to resonate in one's mind. But I wouldn't say that they dominated the positive experience at all.

I'm glad to have the mileage in the books and I'm excited to ride more centuries. I may not be up for a group ride like this soon. But that is no fault to the organizers of the Horsey. The ride and route was awesome. They did a phenomenal job and I'm incredibly glad I took part. I think I'm just more of a casual long distance guy.

Get out there.


Getting Prepped

This morning was a wardrobe experiment. The century is tomorrow morning and it's calling for super cool temps. Normally, I'm just dressing for the next 30-60 minutes or riding. So no matter how bad of a decision I make, I only have to live with it for a limited time. Tomorrow is different. My choices are gonna stay with me for several hours. So this morning, I thought I'd see what it was like to wear shorts at 50 degrees.

Honestly, I wasn't a fan. I think I'll wear long pants and long sleeves, then just carry them with me when it gets hot. I'm on the LHT with a front basket and trunk bag in the back. I think I'd rather be comfortable and carry an extra layer of clothes for the rest of the day. than be uncomfortable for the sake of saving a few ounces.

Forecast is calling for mid 40s to mid 60s all day. So I think, as a whole, it'll be on the cool side.

Next post will be a ride report of the Horsey!

Get out there.


Get out there.


Not Feeling It

For whatever reason, I've not had the blogging bug for a while now. Riding is always fun. Blogging is sometimes fun. Recently, the latter has fallen into the "Not Fun" category. My mileage to blog post ratio has more variance than it ever has. Lots of miles. Very few posts.

That's okay, though. The season will change and things will probably pick up. But if you're a regular reader, just know that, even if the posts are barely trickling in, the rides are still happening. If you're a blogger, you've probably experienced the same thing. "Should I just pull the plug?" you ask yourself. Maybe. But nothing is lost by posting less and nothing is gained by stopping. So I'll just blog when I feel like it and ride when I don't.

Viva la F//B//W!

Get out there.



Yesterday was my longest mileage day so far. 75 miles of Kentucky roads in preparation for the Horsey Hundred in a couple weeks. I'm not one to go out and do long rides very often. Time rarely allows. So it was fun to spend a huge chunk of time on the bike. Jeff and Jason joined me on the excursion. 
We didn't have much of a route planned. We just picked out points of interest along the way and went for it however we could get there. We headed south (into a headwind) to catch Pauls Mill Road that has drawn attention from other cyclists. It's a tiny little stretch of road that used to be an old carriage road. But we took the long way to get there.
Our first obstacle was a creek covered road. I've ridden it before but the water was very high compared to other rides through it. I took bullet first and tried to pedal through it. The mossy floor and heavy pull of the water almost took me down. Some fancy footwork and catlike speed and reflexes kept me upright. The other fells chose to walk it (a wiser choice than my own).
This was on mile 15ish. So the remainder of the day left us with soggy shoes. Not a big deal, really. It was refreshing on a hot day, the first of the year actually.
Speaking of hot... here's a little snake-jerky we found on the road. I thought he was alive for a while. But when Jason kicked him, you could tell he was a bit dehydrated. And while on the subject of wildlife, we rode past the primate rescue sanctuary and heard some monkeys yelling. It was funny, awesome and a little eerie at the same time.
There were very few scenes like this. We spent most of the day on country roads. Lots of climbing. Lots of rain. But we had a blast. We saw some really great sights throughout the day. But I didn't get the camera out once after it started raining. Pauls Mill Road is awesome. So awesome, we didn't stop for photos. We just appreciated the scenery. It was like a journey back in time. Unfortunately, Jason threw the red log into the furnace and we were propelled back to the future.

All in all, it was an awesome ride. We laughed a lot, got lost a lot and had some decent adventure. Jason was on a super stealthy all carbon road bike demo from the shop. Jeff was on his sport Specialized TriCross and I was upon the trusty LHT. Three TOTALLY different bikes. But we shared equal enjoyment in the ride in spite of our differences in steeds.

Get out there.


Long Haulin'

I love this bike.

Get out there.


Just Riding

Yesterday was a day for commuting and a lunch ride. Jason and Pat met me at work for a run out through the bluegrass.
Jason is building up some mileage (as am I) to ride the Horsey Hundred century. He's riding a fancy carbon road bike from the shop. I'll be plodding along behind him on the LHT the entire way.
On the way back we grabbed a pizza to share. Looks like the trusty ol' LHT comes to the rescue with the front basket. I'm loving this thing. If I would take the time to write a post about the value of a front basket, it would be a strong endorsement.
Today's commute was uneventful. I was running later than usual, so I was cranking it the entire way. I saw this neon yellow shirt in the far distance when I first got on the bike path. But my tenacity to make it to work on time allowed me to eventually pass him. I see this guy a lot. He lives off the bike path and enjoys slow, casual rides in the mornings and afternoons. I think we could be friends. But not today. I had to get to the office.

Get out there.


New Digs

The LHT got it's last installment of new components last night. Often times when I buy a frame, it takes me a long while to finish the build. I've put hundreds of miles on this bike with junk I've had laying around the garage. Slowly, I'd buy a piece here or there and add it to the mix. But, alas, the build is finally done.
Most notable of the additions, perhaps, are the wheels. Black Deore disc hubs with black spokes mated with all black WTB Cross Country rims. I wanted the black on black action to match the bike's old army Jeep aesthetics. I went with disc hubs for future use. I think I'd really like to have a Disc Trucker in the stable one day. And every bit of this build kit could be moved over. But a disc hub and a rim-brake rim seem to be a great way to transition there.
Old Deore derailleur's front and back that I've had in the garage for a while. They're a little beat up, but work perfectly. New cassette is a 34-11. The 34 tooth cog is probably overkill. I had planned on just doing a 32-11 but the shop didn't have 32 in stock. Perhaps I'll be thankful for such a cog on a long tour some day. It was also a jump to 9 speed. I've been running my shifters in friction mode on an 8 speed cassette since I got the bike. This step up to 9 gives me the ability to go indexed (which I'm still unsure about).
Front Deore derailleur and new SRAM 48-38-28 crankset. Higher gearing up front than the previous MTB crankset that was on here.
And, with that, the bike is finished.

Finished. Feels kind of strange. But it's nice to have a project come to an end... especially when it ends exactly where you intended it to when you started. The bike is exactly what I wanted it to be when I bought the frame. That's a big accomplishment.

Now to go get this new stuff dirty.

Get out there.