The Little Things

One thing I like about cycling is you get to appreciate the little things of life that are really the important things.

Like going past a "cool spot" in the woods where there is maybe a shady ravine with water or a cave and the you can feel the air for a moment as you go by. You won't feel it or care in an air conditioned car with the windows rolled up at 70 miles an hour.

Or wild flowers and scenes like these on todays trip. Mrs. MTBMan1 and I took a short ride with no objective but enjoyment on the Mohawk-Hudson trail segment in Rotterdam, NY just outside of Schenectady. We went from near Lock 8 on the Erie Canal to the Kiwanis Picnic Area a few miles away.

Temps were cool, even fall-like and perfect for leisurely riding.

Pond along the bike path with wildflowers
Black eyed Susan
Queen Annes’ Lace
A tributary off the canal
‘Nother shot of the same view
Check out the bees
These purple flowers were all over

For the Reward

I wasn't going to climb Orchard today. I wasn't looking to do that much work but I started thinking about the reward of Bullock Road at the top. Smooth pavement and totally shaded. Cool. Worth it!

This turned out to be a pretty good ride. It's about the same length as my regular 1 hour-er "Dunkin' Donut" but includes the pretty good hill Orchard Hill and of course the wonderful Bullock Road. It also traverses Meads Lane. It's the most direct route from my house out to the country with minimal suburbs or busy roads.

The only problem with it is that it traverses 3 busy rail crossings so you could get stuck behind a long, slow train at any or all of them. It's all the same track. So if I really need to stick to a 1 hour ride it could be problematic. Nice for an after dinner ride where time is not so critical.

I was dreading going down to the garage to get my bike, half expecting to find the rear tire flat again. It wasn't. Also, the tube that went flat that I couldn't find the leak yesterday, was still pumped up full of air where I left it. Maybe someone is sneaking into the garage and letting the air out of my tires. I haven't actually had these flats on the road, they've all been when I went to take the bike out after it had been sitting for a day or 2.

Here is a picture from today. Sheep on Meads Lane.

Here is todays ride. I need a name for it. Take a look at it. What do you think? Butterfly? 50s eyeglasses? Waterwings? If you can't see the route, go here. If that doesn't work, let me know.


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The Fear

I got the fear.

Fear of breakdowns in a remote place far from help.

I've got 2 cars that are getting on in years and miles, a 96 Camry and a 95 Geo Prism. 170,000 and 203,000 miles respectively ....

and ... a ~1980s era steel 27" friction shifting Raleigh Olympian that keeps getting flats on the rear tire. In spite of new tubes, new tires, new wheels!

I just replaced a tube and when I went to ride the next day the replaced one was flat!

Now, what's got me scared is, flats are a fact of life with bikes. Ok I got that. Should be a no brainer but the tires I have are so darn hard to get off and on. And it doesn't seem to matter if I have new or patched tubes, they all go flat, eventually.

I got this Crank Brothers speed lever to help with removing the tire but it requires so much force to get it started that I'm afraid of slipping and really cutting myself bad or something. Also, it seems to peel off rubber from the tire bead. That can't be good.

If you're really good, you're supposed to be able to change a tire without any levers at all, just your hands.

Well, I can get the tire ON with just my hands but no way can I get it off. No way.

I've wound up using 3 levers to get it off. 2 of the regular kind to get it started and then the speed lever to finish it up.

Then the other thing is my pump. The one I ride with. I'm just not comfortable with it. It seems to only get about 60 lbs of air into the tire. I guess that's enough to get home on. It's a Topeak.

Anyhow, I immersed the tube in a tub of water and looked and looked but I couldn't find the leak! Now THAT'S a slow leak!

I put another patched tube in and went out for another short ride. It was so gorgeous out. I've had my fill of the hot and humid weather.

I retraced the ride I took the other day with Mrs. MTBMan1 which blog I titled "No numbers ... just fun" so I could record the numbers. :-) (voice of Samwise Gamgee to Gollum "You're 'opeless!")

No numbers ... just fun

I told you about my flat. I pumped it up and went for a ride anyhow and it held up for a 20 minute ride.
But I didn't feel to confident about it as far as going out for a couple of hours so I declined my Sunday AM ride with Charles until I could see what was up with the tire.
In the afternoon, I changed out the tube. Boy what a bear that new tire is getting off the rim!
I started out trying to use the Crank Bros. speed lever but it was too hard to pull and it started shaving rubber off the bead of the tire. It was really hot and humid out too. My glasses got so fogged up I couldn't see.

Forget it!

After a nap, I took the wheel down to the basement and worked the tire off using a combination of the speed lever and two standard tire levers. Still was tough!

Turns out the tube was leaking from one of the patches I put on. I patched the patch then put another patched tube into the tire and pumped it up.

Then, unexpectedly the weather got beautiful. The sky cleared up, a fresh breeze started blowing and the humidity went away!

Too good to pass up!

Mrs. MTBMan1 and I decided to take a relaxing ride out to Meads after supper. The air hadn't been this good for weeks!

When I went to get the Raleigh out of the garage .... flat again! Arrrgh!

You know what? I didn't check the tire and the rim for any possible causes like McSween suggested. I didn't get the Slime like I said I was going to do either.

OK. I'm not going to get into it now. Just grabbed the Trek and forget about it.

It was perfect really. A perfect day to just smell the roses with the Missus and try not to work up a sweat. Just what I needed.

No computer, no heart rate monitor, no GPS .... No numbers.

Just fun.

Fed up with Flats!

Today's ride was a real quickie. Didn't have enough time when I got out from work (turns out I did) because I had a church meeting at 5:45.

Meeting got out at 7. Home by 7:10. Then suit up, fill water bottle, strap on HRM, etc., 7:20.

Grab bike ..... errrrr.....

Rear tire flat!

That tire was fine yesterday after I got home from a ride. I pumped it up. Looked OK. I headed out.
Checked the tire once after a minute. It was still hard.

But that's it! Tomorrow I'm going to Mad Dog Bikes and get me some Slime! It's a tire sealant. Some people swear by it. You fill the tire with it and if you get a hole in the tube it's supposed to seal it.


Tire held up fine though it was only a 20 minute ride.

I wasn't totally a good boy on this ride. Supposed to be a recovery ride. I did ride with a lot less intensity than yesterday but still not totally watching my effort.

I fear recovery rides! If I'm logy when I start out I don't really get revved up unless I ... rev up!
I'm afraid I'll still feel logy during and after the ride. Also I get very uncomfortable if I stay in the saddle the whole time.

In other words, it's less FUN! Yikes! Can't have that can we?

Yes, these numbers are pitiful but at least I rode:
Miles: 4.77
av HR: 115
Max HR: 132
av cadence: 78

OK. It's hot.

I don't like to complain about the weather but I have to say after 2 weeks of this hot and humid stuff, I'm starting to get a little worn down.

I rode today for an hour after work and rather than rejuvenated I was very, very tired afterward. But now I think I am dehydrated. I thought I was drinking a lot during the day but after the ride my urine was dark so I guess that means I'm not.

Also, after reviewing my numbers I realize that I rode harder than I thought. My average HR was 137 and max was 165, a fairly intense ride for me on such a hot day.

So, after mowing some lawn (if it wasn't for the weeds I wouldn't have anything to mow!), I shut my eyes for a few minutes and drank a soda and a glass of water. I feel much better now.

I'm just going to give you the link to my numbers today, sweat365 track workout. See if that works for you.

The route is "Dunkin' Donut" which I have published before:

ride Wed. 7/21/2010

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Another Hill

There's nothing quite like the feeling of going down a straight hill with good pavement at 40+ mph after having climbed a long steep and windy one with maybe not so good pavement. It's your reward and it sure feels good.

Especially on a quiet 70 degree perfectly clear sky Sunday morning with no cars!

Finally got a ride in with buddy Charles at 6AM today. Under 2 hours riding time and kind of meandering this way and that across Southern Albany County. A ride I titled because of it's appearance on a map, "Glasses on a Stick". Eyeglasses on a Stick, that is, that have been run over by a truck.

We rode up Blodgett Hill Rd. A new first for me. I have ridden down it a couple of times so I knew it was going to be long and steep in a couple of places.

Hey, you know what? It was no big deal! One steep section but I've definitely ridden worse. Then down Tracey Road, a nice smooth, section where I got coasting about 40 mph. Sheer bliss.

Now on this section of Tracey Road is a former drug and alcohol rehab place for the rich and famous in the 50s. Secreted away here in the boonies when it was not OK to acknowledge your problems in public. The local lore is that Marilyn Monroe spent some time here drying out. This was corroborated by Ken, an 89 year old, still farming farmer and former neighbor of Charles' who we saw outside on the farm today and we stopped to say hi. Ken's life would make quite a memoir. He was in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought in other major battles like the Battle of the Bulge. Understandably, he doesn't like to talk about it.

I have been having some problems with my calves cramping up especially on climbs lately. Perhaps from all the hot weather. But not today.

And my new cassette is running ... oh-so-smooth! I can stand and pedal hard with confidence. It feels so solid! Even Charles remarked how quiet it was.

I have been submitting these rides to Le Tour Challenge and am now ranked 1790 out of 4206. Woo-hoo! I did much better last year where I didn't miss a day out of the 21 that the tour rode. The last stage I rode, Stage 11, I came 789th for the stage.

Oh well, it's just fun, right? Plus, I get entered for some cool prizes including some awesome bikes!

Now, if I could just get up everyday and ride and 6AM, that would be something!

Here's the route! Again, if you don't see the video or if it doesn't work as a link, go directly to my primary blog here.

glasses on a stick

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Why Recovery Rides Fail

A recovery ride.

That's where you recover from a hard workout that damages your muscle fibers. The goal is to get the blood flowing and keep things limbered up but keep the intensity down so you don't damage any more muscle fibers and give the ones you damaged yesterday time to heal.

So why can't I stick to that protocol?

1. competition: a rider passes you. what are you to do? You don't want him to think he's better than you just because you're deliberately taking it easy. You would say, "Hi, I'm doing a recovery ride." but then what if he says "Yeah, me too." So you chase him. Recovery ride failed!

2. discomfort: You need to stay in the saddle. When you stand and pedal you're lifting your whole body weight. Your heart rate will go up and your muscles will not heal. But your butt is sore from so much sitting. So you pedal out of the saddle. Recovery ride failed!

3. speed: Faster is funner. It's fun to go fast. It's boring to go slow. But you need to keep your exertion level down which may require you to ride slower than you'd like. The heck with this. I'm outta here. Recovery ride failed!

4. heat: a corollary to #3. On a hot day, one the great things about a bike ride is that you generate your own breeze. If you are going fast enough, that is. So, you go faster. Need I say more? See #3. Recovery ride FAILED!

5. hills: some day I may be fit enough and light enough to go up the hills around here and not break a sweat but that day is not now. And around here, hills are unavoidable unless you want to ride loops in a parking lot. RECOVERY RIDE FAILED!

........... sigh .................

Well I DID have fun anyway. And my chain slipped off the small cog in the back and wedged up between my wheel and the drop out. You know the drill. I had to take off the back wheel to free it up. I'm so cool.

I made some salty limeade to drink for this ride. Whew, too salty. Especially nasty after all the ice melts and it gets warm.

I chased a bird along the road for a few hundred feet. I think he was playing! Kept right in front of me on the right. Of course he could have gone up and away.

Snuck up on a deer with my new super quiet cassette. He was feeding by the side of the road. Didn't even hear me until I was right next to him. Ha, ha! Good thing he didn't bolt into me!

Actually I didn't see one other bike on the road. The only thing I chased was the bird. But I did get out of the saddle and I did make a breeze! ;-)

So, not a perfect recovery ride but it is what it is.

Av HR 117, max 138, calories 626, miles 9.66, av spd. 14mph

here's the route, if you can't see it, go here:

Meads - Short Loop

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Breeze, that is.

People often ask me "Why do you ride in such hot weather?"

I like to reply that it's one of the best things you can do on a hot day because you bring your own breeze with you. Especially around here where there's nothing that's perfectly flat. It's all hills or rollers up and down. And lots of trees. So there's always shade somewhere.

I rode late today. Right after supper. We had Mexican and I got terrible heartburn on the ride. Also I brought plain water which gives me heartburn, believe it or not. Took a pill and some Tums when I got home.

First ride with my new cassette and it was smoooooth and perfectly quiet. Now people have no warning when I come up behind them so I have to cough or something. ;-) No skipping either.

My left calf was wanting to cramp up which rarely happens to me. Sure it was hot but I've ridden hotter days for hours with no problems. It first happened going up Orchard Hill and then several times after not necessarily when climbing. I tried to some on-bike stretches while coasting on the down hills.

Also on Orchard Hill I caught my computer not registering any movement. Speed says 0 mph and the time and mileage are not incrementing. It's not flashing either like it does when it loses communication with the wireless. Hmmmm.

I called this route "Stingray". It about the same general shape and area as Dunkin' Donut but has a longer tail where the Donut handle would be. Same road just went longer on it.

Here it is:

Sting Ray

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Piece of Cake

When I picked up my new 6 speed cassette from Matt at Mad Dog Bicycles, he expressed concern (mock?) that I was going to put him out of the repair business because I was doing the job myself.

I don't think so.

Replacing the cassette is really a cake job. All you need is the little puller thingy and a breaker bar or ratchet with a 1" socket.

I did this recently when I replaced my rear wheel and again tonight so I'm getting pretty good at it. Only took about 10 minutes. I'm getting better at removing the rear wheel without touching the greasy parts. Almost. The chain still falls off the small chainring and I have to put it back on. No biggie.

I did a little test ride and it seems fine. Tomorrow I hope I will have time for a real ride.

I'm thinking I paid a lot for my cassette, $42. I was looking in the Nashbar catalog tonight and the Shimano XTR 9 speed is $170. Ouch!

Dana and Matt at the bike shop told me I'd love this cassette. It's nice and smooth and quiet. We'll see how it performs tomorrow.

Oh, is going to credit my ride yesterday towards today's 9th TDF stage although they might not allow it to be a verified because the date is different. At least I'll be entered for a prize. I see 2 people from Albany won prizes for Stage 8, cycling shoes and a $100 gift certificate for TwinSix. Not bad.

Back in the Saddle Again

After not riding since Wednesday, I finally got a ride in today after work. I wanted to put in a good effort but it was hot, 90 degrees, so I was a little careful. Not exactly a time trial but not a walk either.

I submitted this one to Le Tour Challenge. They wound up crediting all my rides but one and seem to have made some positive modifications to the site. But I think today was a rest day for the tour. I wonder if they'll apply it towards tomorrow's stage. Probably not. No problem. I didn't ride solely because of that.

It was really great to get out. Like I said it was hot but there was a breeze now and then.

My smallest cog skipped like crazy early on in the ride so I avoided riding hard on it. I bought a new set from Mad Dog and haven't put it on yet. It started skipping right after I replaced the chain. Common problem. The worn chain wore down the cog teeth and now I have to replace the cog. Should have checked it more often. I have the tool. Try to do it tomorrow after work.


I'm a little ashamed of myself (just a little, I'm not too big on self-castigation) for railing against in my last post.

I've always believed that if you stick your head up above the masses you're going to get it shot at by those who aren't willing to take risks to accomplish anything worthwhile, in other words, the critics. I don't want to be a critic of someone who is trying to accomplish something and has accomplished something worthwhile and they continue to try and do so.

I guess it's about expectations. I so enjoyed Le Tour last year that I was excitedly looking forward to it again and when the new interface had some shortcomings I was disappointed. It didn't help my mood that I was coming down with a cold in the middle of the heat wave of the season and was unable to ride as much or as hard as I would have liked.

Their new interface is actually pretty nice. It just had some glitches as any new software development will and I appreciate their effort in trying to improve the site.

Having said all that, they have been making real efforts to try to correct the problems and I see that they have credited me all but one of my rides and put my status at the top of the leaderboard as I suggested so the end user doesn't have to search through 15,000 listings to find their ranking. They still haven't listed my rides as verified because I am using a GPS but as I said, I'm done criticizing.

So hat's off to you for doing what you do.

Kudos also to for a great site and a real service to the fitness community!

Abandoned Le Tour Challenge

I'm very disappointed in and their Le Tour Challenge this year which mimics and follows the Tour de France. I logged 3 rides with a GPX file from software on my blackberry and it's supposed to be considered a verified ride according to rules and none of them show up on the web site.

I really enjoyed it last year when it worked properly and all my rides for the entire 21 days showed up verified or not.

Kind of takes the wind out of your sales when you take the trouble to log the rides and the web site doesn't work properly.


I guess I'm a little grumpy. I'm in the middle of a combined chest and head cold and having to work late on an IT project. Plus we've had all kinds of goofy outages and problems this week to boot. I haven't slept too well, mulling these problems over and over to what end?

Plus it's hot. I don't mind riding in it if I'm not sick. I rode a 100K for Tour de Cure 2 years ago in just these conditions with 3 broken spokes! 7 miles into it somebody said, "Hey, your back wheel looks a little wobbly!" I stopped at the next rest stop and released my rear brakes so the wheel wouldn't rub. By mile 42 the wheel was rubbing on the frame. A volunteer wrench fiddled with my spokes to help it a little and I finished fine. Had a real bad case of hot foot though! I finally got off the bike at about 55 miles and gave my feet some relief for a couple of minutes. That saw me through until the end. Should have rested sooner! ;-)

So ... no ride today, that's for sure. Tomorrow ... doubtful. Maybe something by Sunday AM.

And now that I've got it off my chest, I'll probably give Le Tour Challenge another crack. I'll try logging the ride as unverified and see if that makes a difference.

just to ride ...

I haven't been feeling to well the last couple of days. Sore throat, drainage, blah ...
But I haven't missed a ride day yet.
Thought for sure I would skip it today.
This AM felt completely zoned out, didn't sleep well, etc.
Then had a rough day at work. Wanted nothing better than to slip through the day unnoticed, not wanting to think hard or actually DO anything that required any real attention. But no .... the sky fell.

I could think of nothing but getting home and doing ZERO after dinner.

But actually, as I lay on the couch trying to drift off to never never land, the blue sky beckoned to me. "Just ride, ride" it seemed to say. "You don't have to train, you can just ride for the pure joy of it. Don't have to work too hard. It's hot out there. But you'll feel a breeze you create as you ride and you'll pass under lots of shady trees and feel the cool air as you ride past a little creek hollow in the woods. Ride."

I didn't really feel all that bad and I didn't want to lie on the couch all night and then just go to bed.

So I went. It was pretty hot still (at 7:30PM) and the ride created breeze wasn't all that cool but I'm glad I went.

As my riding buddy Charles says, I've never regretted going for a ride!

When in doubt ... ride it out!

When in Doubt .... Ride!

When I woke up this morning I felt like I had been hit by a train. Sore throat. Just blah.

I had intended to take a 2 hour ride early before it got too hot.

As time wore on it was between no ride or a one hour ride ... or take a ride later. I wouldn't be able to do it until maybe 3:30 or 4. But by then it would be hot.

I took the ride.

Usually I try to ride with Charles on Sunday AM before church but I didn't call because I hadn't decided if I was going to ride or not or when. He didn't call either, it turned out for the same reason.

But about 20 minutes into my ride, on Meads Lane, I ran into Charles riding in the opposite direction. He was just winding down his ride and heading back. I was intending to go another 10 minutes and then head back. He had already done Orchard Hill twice but wanted to go one more time with me so he came along for the duration.

I wasn't sure if 30 minutes would put me at the top of Orchard Hill and it didn't. It put me in the middle. But that was OK. I felt good enough to push to the very top just before the drop off down to Bullock Road.

I told Charles about my indecision to ride or not and he said whenever he felt like that he reminded himself that he never regretted a decision to ride.

Ain't it the truth!

Here is my route. Stats are not worth mentioning.

Orchard Hill and Back - 1 hour

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Le Tour - Day 1 - The Prologue

Today is the first day of the Tour de France and also the first day of MapMyRide's Le Tour Challenge.

It works like this, every day the real Tour rides, you ride. Or as often as you can. Then you submit your ride to the mapmyride website and your entered in a daily drawing for a lot of cool prizes. Somehow, they rank you as if you rode the real tour based on some formula and criteria which are totally beyond me. If you submit a verified ride, i.e. via some GPS enabled device you get a chance to win a jersey based on your performance but I'm not that good of a rider although I will try to submit via a GPX file generated by via my blackberry.

I rode an easy 15 miler today and submitted it the Le Tour Challenge. My new Sigma computer worked flawlessly today. Hopefully I adjusted the magnet/sensor combo correctly and it will stay that way.

I put a new chain on the other day and it seemed to skip a couple of times when pedaling hard in a big gear. Indication that the cog set needs to be replaced too so I had Dana, the wrench over at Mad Dog Bikes order me one. It's hard to get a good 6 speed set for an oldie but goodie Raleigh like mine.

Today was the last good day before the hot and humids begin tomorrow, the 4th of July. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to get up in the 90s.

By the way, the computer said the ride was 15.1 miles, the GPS said it was 14.7 miles and when I exported it to mapmyride it said it was 11 miles!

My stats are:
RPMs: 77
Average HR: 123
Max HR: 142
Miles: 15.1
Time: 1:03
Cals: 960
Ave. Spd:14.26mph
Max Spd:33.7
Ascent:1083 ft

Here's the route:

Feura Bush Loop

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Video premier! Quest for Righteous Pavement!

Finally got a ride in today but my front wheel speed sensor for my new computer was acting up. Those sensor/magnet positions are sure fussy!

I rode an aerobic workout. Three 10 minute hard intervals followed by 5 minutes of easy spinning.

I got my handlebar camera mount reinstalled and took some video of a couple of favorite bits of roller road on the Dunkin' Donut route.

Here is my first roller at the end of Van Dyke before Meads:

This is going west on Game Farm Road before the bridge over the Beaver Dam.

This is going back east over the same section. Check that groovy (smooth) pavement! MMM-MMM-MMM!

If these videos don't play right, come here.

Another First!

No ride again today. Got back from a meeting too late. But I did change my chain! Very important!

When I changed out my wheel yesterday because of a broken spoke, I thought it was a good time to check my chain wear with my handy Park Tool chain checker, excuse me, Chain Wear Indicator.

Well, lo and behold, it failed the test! It was 1% worn which is time to replace!

So when I went to Mad Dog Bikes today to get some spare spokes to repair my now spare wheel, I picked up a new chain.

I believe this was the first time I changed my chain. The new chain as well as the old has a master link which makes it easy to install and remove the chain without a chain tool but I still had to remove one link from the new chain to make it the correct length.

This was the first time I used the chain tool from my Park multi-tool. It worked great. In fact I think I like it better than my dedicated chain tool which is around here somewhere.

My old chain was just absolutely filthy. I have got to get better about keeping that thing clean. I am such a bad boy when it comes to maintenance. I only maintain it when it breaks!

My copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance recommends wiping the chain down after every ride and lubing it. Then, next am after the lube has had a chance to soak in, wipe it down again before riding. That gets the excess oil off that has soaked through and pushed some of the inside dirt out with it. Just another chore to do besides getting all my gear on, filling my drink bottle and topping off the tires with air. Sigh. Patience is a virtue I am still developing.

I'm quite pleased with the addition of another skill in my wrenching repertoire, though. :-)