Cycling Along The Way...

My Photo
Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. A wide ranging, eclectic group of racers, roadies, mountain bikers, touring cyclists, or commuters riding diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, or whatever other shapes/forms a creative force might come up with, who share a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just contemplating life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. A bit about me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, a liberal Democrat, avid cyclist with several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting Healthy..."The Fast Diet" by Michael Mosley, M.D./Journalist

"It's called 'DIET' because all the other four letter words were taken." ~ Anonymous

Gaining/losing weight.  It's been my albatross since I was about 11 years old.  Throughout the decades, I tried many approaches in order to maintain a healthy weight.  None successfully for any extended period of time.  I'm 5'7", so that's not a big frame to carry heavy weight, eh?  I won't go into how the excess weight affected me, still does, but those who have struggled with their weight understand and that's all that's important to me, really.  Those who have not struggled would never understand anyways.  Enough said.

In September/2013, I saw two programs on PBS.  Rather than try to explain how I lost weight and got in the best shape I've been in for a long time...long enough that I don't remember when...I'll refer you to the videos I watched.  I don't know how long they'll be online, so, if you're interested, check them out.  The first one is: Eat, Fast, And Live Longer. If this doesn't work or they've taken the video down, here's another site for the video.  The second video is: The Truth About Exercise.  Again here's another site for the video, if the first site doesn't work.  Dr. Mosley, who is a physician and a journalist, is from England and has a family history of bad health, with most males in his family line dying by age 72.  He also has a book titled, "The Fast Diet", which he wrote with Mimi Spencer, author and journalist.  The book is nowhere as good as the videos, so watch the videos first, buy the book second, if you're interested.  It's good because it has some meal plans.

Finding the words to express what I'm feeling about this is hard.  What I can say?  To have a system that works without the struggle or boredom of some other "diets" or the restrictions they impose has been  a game changer.  After talking to some of the researchers about weight loss, Dr. Mosley would say, "I'm not going to do that.".  Regardless of health benefits.  I identified immediately with him when he'd say that because that's what I thought, as well.  The down side?  I have to buy new clothes.  I only have a few pair of jeans that still fit me and a hand full of shirts.  For my nephew's wedding this September, I have to buy new clothes. Makes me damn happy.

For any of you who may be reading this and who have struggled with, or are still struggling with, your weight, check it out.  I realize there's no "one size fits all" when it comes to this weight thing.  We're all individuals with this issue.  For me, this works.  I'm truly grateful that I met up with Dr. Mosley.  It's changed my life, as silly as that sounds.  If it works for you, I'll be happy for you.  If not, I understand that, too.  And wish you well in your search.  It took me 54 years.

To close, I've chosen a tune that has significant memories for me that I want to share with y'all once again, "Midnight Walker" by Davy Spillane on what I consider to be one of the sweetest sounding instruments on the planet, the Irish uillean pipes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sonya Buglion Gluck...18 Years Old & A Wide World Ahead Of Her Down The Road.

"It takes a very long time to become young." ~ Pablo Picasso

Each generation has its own image of itself and of what it hopes, perhaps, to become.  Each generation seems to place a judgement on another generation.  The young are stupid.  The old ones are useless.  What do middle aged people do?  So on and so on...each generation coming to its conclusion about itself and other generations, mostly ignorant of the fact that it's been this way throughout time.

Thankfully, for my wife, Eileen, and me, as members of Warmshowers.org, we get to experience a variety of people travelling through Silver City, NM.  Also fortunately, for us, we got to meet Sonya.

Sonya getting packed up to head up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
She's in the second semester of her senior year in high school.  And she's doing a solo bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Louisiana to Vermont, back to her hometown of Hyde Park, VT, so she can attend her high school graduation.  And she makes me happy.  In reading or listening to the news, it would seem that the "younger generation" is going straight to hell faster than my generation was accused of going straight to hell.  Maybe it's because the new generation knows the digital world better than my generation?  Who cares?  Sonya is a gem.  A person of this "younger generation" that makes me see that no one is going to hell, quickly or otherwise, because she is alive.  And there are millions of others just like her...some worse, some better...but the Sonyas of the world aren't the ones touted in the news outlets.

Oh, and for the first semester of her senior year, she raised $12,500 to spend a semester in Ecuador, learning how other people live.  So, no, we're not going to hell.  We're moving along just fine.  All it takes to realize that is to come out of your house or your world for a moment, look around, talk to some people, and you'll see ... despite the ravages that the other generations have done to the young, as a group, they are alive, vibrant, and looking to make the world a good place.  Part of what Sonya is doing on this ride is visiting colleges that she wants to attend in the Fall.  I don't think a solo bicycle ride crossed my mind when I was 17 or 18 years old.  Unfortunately.

And her parents let her do this solo ride?  What is WRONG with them?  Are they crazy??? Has anyone called child protective services on these lunatics?  Again, fortunately, no.  What fabulous parents who let their child spread her wings and ride.  Her Dad is meeting her in El Paso, TX, and will ride with her to Austin, TX, but then she's back on her own on the roads of America.  How great is that?  Growing up in an era and a time/place where such an adventure was not even thought of by anyone I knew back then, I am joyfully jealous of Sonya.  I so wish I knew what she knows when I was 18 years old.  And I'm so happy she's not been contained, but, rather, allowed to bloom.  I have hope for the future when I meet people like Sonya.

She has a website where she posts about her travels...check it out.  And, when you think everything and everybody is going to hell, go to her website and realize that it's not true.  I won't go into all the details, but she spent a night with us this past weekend where we got to spend a fair amount of time talking.  I rode out on my Vitus to meet up with her and ride to our house with her.  She's a strong rider and will do great on this trip.  Her thoughts on the future were broad and encompassed important things that need to be attended to for all of us.  Eileen and I wish her well.  And not that other Warmshowers guests have been less, but Sonya made me realize just how important she, and her generation, is to all of us.  Smooth roads and tailwinds!!!

Her Surly Long Haul Trucker with disc brakes...packed and ready to ride.
And I got a few videos that came out without the Donald Duck voice!
By this time, Sonya's on her way to Las Cruces, NM, and then to El Paso, TX, to meet up with her Dad.   Hope he can keep up with her!  Now, a tune to exit this post....this is a tough one.  This is a new singer/songwriter on the horizon, well, I just heard about him recently, so that makes him "new" in my book, Jason Isbell doing "Traveling Alone".  At one point, after Sonya and I got to the house, she thanked me for coming out to ride with her because she enjoyed riding with someone better than riding alone.  While I accepted the thanks, I also wanted to help her see that "traveling alone" makes you stronger and helps you see who you are....and to relish that time alone, as well as recognize the strength it requires to be comfortable being alone.  Hope you like the tune, Sonya.  Very best wishes to you from Silver City, NM.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ethel MacDonald, 76 Years Young, From Missoula, MT...A Fine Warmshowers Guest

"None is so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"Don't regret growing older.  It's a privilege denied to many." ~ Anonymous

"No man is ever old enough to know better." ~ Holbrook Jackson

As a geezer, I can make cracks about old people now because they're my peers.  Most are pretty interesting folk, some have become curmudgeons, a lot have become one with their couches, unfortunately.  Ethel, however, remains enthusiastic for life and has no couch attached to her ass.

According to some of her life story that I remember, she ran her first marathon in her early 60's (that gave my wife, Eileen, hope for running one).  She continued running marathons, cycling, running 10k events, and generally not getting overly attached to her living room furniture.  Due to some knee issues, she's given up on marathons, but still does a 10k event once a year.  And she's a bicycle rider of no limits, as of yet.

Ethel owns two bicycles.  One of them is in Europe at a friend's house, so she can ride it when she's there.  In Missoula, MT, where she lives, and has lived since going to college there, she lives in a small house and rides her Brompton folding bicycle.  On her bicycle trip from San Diego, CA, to El Paso, TX, she rode her Brompton.  Amazing.  Oh, did I tell you that she turned 76 yrs. old on this bicycle trip???  Yes.  And she's one independent cookie, too.  An inspiration, whether she likes it or not.  She doesn't like her name, Ethel, however, or her middle name, May.  Ethel May MacDonald.  I love the name Ethel.

She's quite fit, enthusiastic, as I mentioned before, and was a charming guest. First thing in the morning, she was up and ready to ride. After breakfast, she took off for San Lorenzo, NM, where she'd spend the night, then head up over Emory Pass. After she got to El Paso, TX, I asked her how she liked the Pass...she told me that someone offered her a ride and she took them up on it. Not only an able rider, but a smart one, too!!!

Ethel's Brompton...a great bike!  Folds up very easily.
 Ethel is home in Missoula, MT, as I write this post.  Hopefully, planning her next trip for her birthday next year. She's done the western and eastern legs of the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route and wants to do the middle section next year.  I told Ethel that my personal goal was to ride 100 miles for my 100th birthday.
Ethel ready to hit the road...




She was carrying a lot of gear on her Brompton but was managing very well on the road. Changing flat tires was a bit of a chore for her because she had a hard time getting the tire off the rim. I tried to give her my large Park Tools heavy duty tire irons but she wouldn't take them. They're the best for difficult tire removal. And worth the extra weight to carry while touring.
A good view of all of her gear.


Ok, now it's time to move along, so that means it's time for some music. What would Ethel like? Let's see, how about a little 1950's music???? That should bring back some memories for her. A little number by Frank Sinatra, when he was in his prime vocally. "I've Got You Under My Skin", done in the 1950's on ABC TV show. Happy trails, Ethel. Great to meet you and I'll see you again next year when I'm riding through Missoula.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

GRAND BOIS Col de la Madeleine tires

"On a bike, no one asks...'Are we there yet?'..." ~ Anonymous
"Allow yourself to be a beginner.  No one starts off being excellent." ~ Anonymous

When people search for topics with whatever search engine they use, it's easier to find things when being more specific.  So, in order for people to find out what I think of these tires from Compass Bicycles, I've decided to do a post specifically about Grand Bois tires.

My nephew, John, told me about Compass Bicycles and the Grand Bois series of bicycle tires.  As I've noted in previous posts, most hype about tires is just that, hype, since, for most cyclists, the prime objective is minimizing flats vs. racing tires.  As a "regular" (meaning not a racer) rider, I look for tires that are: a) puncture resistant and b) last long.  Most quality bicycle tires are not cheap.  Prices range in the $40 to $80 range.  Sure, there are cheaper ones, but they're cheap for a reason.  If I'm laying down a chunk of change for a tire, then my two reasons (a & b from above) come into play.

After talking to my nephew and checking out the tires on the Compass Bicycles website along with the fortuitous flat I had with my previous Schwalbe tires, I opted to purchase two Grand Bois Col de la Madeleine Extra Leger tires, 700 x 23 size.  They were pricey...$76 each.
When I put them on the rims (Ultegra) on my Vitus road bike, I tried them out.  To my surprise, they did feel different.  New tires or wishful thinking???  I gave it little thought until about my 4th or 5th ride and I still felt the difference in these tires.  Smoother and faster.  After a month, I still thought the same...smoother/faster.  What was not good, however, was the number of flats I had, particularly in the rear.  Murphy's law dictates that, if you're going to have a flat tire while cycling, it'll be your rear wheel because it's harder to remove/replace in order to fix the flat.  And the first flat I had, well, it was just a bit soft, losing air slowly.  Being only about 3/4 of a mile away from home, I tried to make it home on the tire, which I did, but it definitely impacted the sidewall.  After that, I had repeated flats with that tire.  Eventually, I replaced it with the Grand Bois Col de la Madeleine (not the Extra Leger, which means "lighter") for $57 and it's had fewer flats overall, but it is not as smooth or fast as the Extra Leger.  Were I into racing, I'd opt for the Extra Leger just for race days.  So far, the Extra Leger up front has held up well and the regular Grand Bois on the rear has done fairly well, also.

(Somewhere down the road, I'll replace my Vittoria Randonneur tires on my Cannondale touring bicycle, but the Vittorias are holding up remarkably well.  No flats, so far...almost 2 years.
They have several models of this tire, the Randonneur, the Randonneur Pro, and the Randonneur Trail plus one for electric bikes.  I'll do a post on these later.)

I'd give these tires a 4 rating.  If they were more puncture proof, that would jump to a 5 rating.  Overall, however, I'm happy with these tires.  Schwalbe and Vittoria tires are definitely in the running, too. Continental makes some excellent tires, as well.  Happy shopping!

Time to exit this post with a tune...Chuck Berry doing "No Particular Place To Go"...what I think when I take off on my bicycle sometimes, no particular place to go, just out for a ride.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nite Ize HandleBand Universal Smartphone Mount

"The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind." ~ William Saroyan, Nobel Prize Winner

With that said, here's a short review of the Nite Ize HandleBand Universal Smartphone Mount.  No, I don't own a smartphone.  Just a regular cell phone that serves my needs.  What I do have that doesn't have a handlebar mount is my SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger device.   I use it frequently when riding up in the mountains where cell phones, smart or not, don't work.  This device provides a bit of comfort for my wife, Eileen.  Should I fail to return home, she'll know where to find my carcass. As long as some critter hasn't hauled my sorry ass away for dinner somewhere.  My complaint about the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger device is that, despite my pleasant pleas to the company, it has no handlebar mount...nor do I get anything back from their customer service people except, "Thanks.  We appreciate hearing from our customers, but, please, do you really expect us to respond to every moron who emails us?"  So, post rejection reaction...look for something else made by a company that sees what the jerks fail to see and then creates a piece of equipment that just might be useful or at least functional.  In my repeated searches, I had little luck finding something that would work.

Recently, however, I came across the Nite Ize HandleBand Universal Smartphone Mount.  If nothing else, they should get a prize for having one of the longest named products.  It was cheap...on eBay, it sells for as little as $9.99 plus shipping.  I mean, what the hell, I've peed that much money in less than an evening before, so I bought one in white (clear).  It works great and holds the SPOT device on my handlebars, the stem, or the top tube.  I prefer the top tube location.  It is a bit bulky, but, hey, it's less than $10 and it's made of silicone, which makes it quite flexible.  And, as I stated previously, it works.  Take that SPOT!!

Ok, done with this posting.  If you're looking for something that works, is cheap, and, if it breaks, it won't break the bank to get another one, this is what you want.  I like it...  I'd give it a 3.5 rating.  If they could reduce the size of it, I'd give it a 5 rating.

Ok, since Eileen and I have had an infestation of musicians recently...friends, mind you...but musicians have a reputation for a reason.  So, with that said, here's a video for your viewing pleasure...An Infestation of Musicians.  LOL...

Friday, February 7, 2014

MORE TRUTH VS. DISTORTIONS, OK?

I promise the next post will be more gear reviews, however, this piece needs to be read by all...

Health, Work, Lies

FEB. 6, 2014
Paul Krugman

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren't the same thing. If you lose your job, you suffer immense personal and financial hardship. If, on the other hand, you choose to work less and spend more time with your family, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”

And now you know everything you need to know about the latest falsehood in the ever-mendacious campaign against health reform.

Let’s back up. On Tuesday, the budget office released a report on the fiscal and economic outlook that included two appendices devoted to effects of the Affordable Care Act.

The first appendix attracted almost no attention from the news media, yet it was actually a bombshell. Much public discussion of health reform is still colored by Obamacare’s terrible start, and presumes that the program remains a disaster. Some of us have pointed out that things have been going much better lately — but now it’s more or less official. The budget office predicts that first-year sign-ups in the health exchanges will fall only modestly short of expectations, and that nearly as many uninsured Americans will gain insurance as it predicted last spring.

This good news got drowned out, however, by false claims about the meaning of the second health care appendix, on labor supply.

It has always been clear that health reform will induce some Americans to work less. Some people will, for example, retire earlier because they no longer need to keep working to keep their health insurance. Others will reduce their hours to spend more time with their children because insurance is no longer contingent on holding a full-time job. More subtly, the incentive to work will be somewhat reduced by health insurance subsidies that fall as your income rises.

The budget office has now increased its estimate of the size of these effects. It believes that health reform will reduce the number of hours worked in the economy by between 1.5 percent and 2 percent, which it unhelpfully noted “represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million.”

Why was this unhelpful? Because politicians and, I’m sorry to say, all too many news organizations immediately seized on the 2 million number and utterly misrepresented its meaning. For example, Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, quickly posted this on his Twitter account: “Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs and those who keep them will see their hours and wages reduced.”

Not a word of this claim was true. The budget office report didn’t say that people will lose their jobs. It declared explicitly that the predicted fall in hours worked will come “almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor” (emphasis added). And as we’ve already seen, Mr. Elmendorf did his best the next day to explain that voluntary reductions in work hours are nothing like involuntary job loss. Oh, and because labor supply will be reduced, wages will go up, not down.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Review Of Gear From 2013...

"With the heaps of overly specialized gear — gloves, shoes, and biking jerseys — most cyclists realize that every day on the road is Halloween. Plain and simple, it's wearing a costume each time out of the gate.  We're neon signs, stylistically impaired wonders blinding pedestrians and fooling small children into thinking that the circus has come back to town." ~ -Joe Kurmaskie, the Metal Cowboy: Riding Outside the Lines

Last year, I came into possession of several new items for cycling.  Some of it was good; some of it was just ok.  There is, however, no shortage of new things coming on the market to entice a rider into thinking that, to be a "real" cyclist, the new item/s HAVE to be purchased.  Or just hang up the bike, ok?

While I still have a streak of that "gotta have it" in me, I've tried to minimize it and keep purchases to a minimum.  I'm running out of room to hide them from my wife, Eileen.  Heh! Heh! Heh!

Ok, here's the list, followed by commentary that has not been influenced by money, prestige, gifts, drugs, or alcohol.  I won't swear that the last two items on the list haven't influenced me..

TIRES:  In 2013, I purchased a pair of Grand Bois Col de la Madeleine Extra Leger tires from Compass Bicycles.  My nephew, John, told me about this company and their tires.  The Extra Leger tires were pricey ($76/each), but, hey, I've been more foolish with money in my life than this.  To be objective, they are faster than other tires I've purchased, but their puncture proofness is average.  At least, around here.  Roads are rough, debris is part of the roadside attraction in New Mexico, and Bud Light cans are ubiquitous.  Would I buy them again?  No.  But I'd buy the Grand Bois Col de la Madeleine tires for $56/each.  I purchased one to put on the rear rim and it's more puncture resistant.  As any cyclist knows, if a tire will go flat, it'll be the rear tire because it's harder to remove.  It weighs 39 grams more than the Extra Leger version...that's about 1.5 ounces.  I figure if I stop and pee somewhere along the ride, I'll save at least that much in weight, right?


WATER BOTTLE CAGES:  In the Southwest, it gets hot.  And it's dry, too.  So, water is important and I'm not a fan of carrying a sack of 100 ounces of water on my back when I'm riding my Vitus, which only has one water bottle cage on the frame.  What to do?  In my quest, I found BIKEBUDDY, a website of a guy in England (I know, I know.  I'm Irish and I'm still trusting the English?  My God...), who sells a unique setup for carrying water bottles.  BIKEBUDDY offers a way to carry a larger bottle on the bike frame, so there's no need to have the 100 ounces of water strapped to your back.  I have a HydroFlask 64 oz insulated water bottle that fits in this thing.  This remedies the issue of how to carry more water with me when needed.  To be objective, it's not pretty, could use some locking washers, and the instructions are absolutely abysmal, but it's a simple setup, so that makes up for it.  Some photos:







REAR RACK:  Now, the other extreme in the Southwest is when it gets cold.  Yes, Virginia, it dips below the balmy 90 degrees here in the ol' Southwest.  Down into the 20's most nights during the winter and occasionally below freezing, as well.  Days can be fairly good but it's chilly when riding a bicycle when the temps are in the 40's/50's, even the 60's.  I usually am wearing the needed clothing when I start out, but with no place to carry it when I want to remove it because I've gotten hot and sweaty, an easily removable rear rack is necessary.  Sometimes, I also need a place to carry somewhat lighter clothing to switch to should the warmer clothing I started out wearing is too much, but it's still cold enough to require some extra clothing.  Whew, describing this is as much a pain as trying to figure out what to wear is...!  Anyways, Bontrager has an easily removable rear rack that holds 25lbs.  It's their Bontrager Seat Post Rack (about $40) and it works very well for what I need.  Forthwith, a photo:


CYCLING JERSEY: I like wool cycling jerseys, particularly merino wool jerseys.  There are several companies that make them, but Rapha (another English company!) takes wool jerseys to a new level of "WOW".  These are not cheap, so I doubt that I'll have a slew of these hanging in my closet.  For Christmas, my nephew, John, sent me a Rapha jersey.  Cyclists in England are tiny, if Rapha's sizing means anything.  John sent me an X-large jersey that, had I not recently lost weight, I would never have gotten it over my head.  But...it's divine, with no exaggeration intended.  Check them out at their website.

Ok, that's enough for now.  No need to bore the bejeesus out of everybody in one fell swoop, eh?  I'll do more reviews over the next few weeks.  Brooks handlebar tape.  Wool cycling tights.  Wool arm warmers.  Wool cycling bibs and shorts.  Bike mount for my SPOT messenger.  And other stuff, if I remember it all.

Now, a tune to get out of this post with..."Black Rose" by J.D. Souther.  A tune that not many will remember being done by this guy.