Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing 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 thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Year...And A Look Back

"New Year's Day now is the accepted time to make your regular, annual, good resolutions.  Next week, you can begin paving hell with them as usual." ~ Mark Twain

2014.  It FLEW by.  When I was a kid, summers seemed to last close to forever.  The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was, I'm certain, an eternity.  Ask any kid waitin' on Santa!  Now, I'm wondering how to put the brakes on time.  It is gaining speed faster than I can believe...

Looking back on 2014, I'd say there are several things that stand out for me.  Way too many deaths.  My very good friend, Bruce Doeren, whose death I'm still coming to terms with.  His death was the hardest for me personally this past year.  The best cousin a person could ask for, Barb Sullivan Penders.  Another classmate or two from high school.  My nephew, Stephen Taft, died much too young.  Several others who were large presences in my youth back in Upstate New York.  I am thankful for having these people in my life, some more so than others, but, all in all, my life would have been different had they not been part of it.

The other thing that gathers family, friends, and others is a wedding.  In September/2014, my nephew, John, and his significant other, Nancy, got married.  Some photos of the event...
Now, here's a link to a video where John shows his new bride exactly how the cake thing is SUPPOSED to be done at a wedding:http://youtu.be/QnzJoUrlQMI  First time I've ever seen this at a wedding, too.  Oh, well...we're all very happy for John and Nancy despite my nephew's attempt to demonstrate who, at a wedding, gets first dibs on the cake.

As for bike stuff, this year brings new things...starting with a new, long, solo tour for me.  My goal is to ride around the U.S. and Canada, for approximately 9,000 miles.  I'm probably in the best shape now than I have been in years.  After this ride, I'll be doing some different types of rides.  Instead of long rides, I want to do rides, like the spokes in a wheel, from a central location.  Places where Eileen and I want to go and really get an indepth take on the countryside and what a particular place has to offer.  And Europe.  Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany.  Most of Europe, but especially Ireland, France, and Italy.

Enough for this post.  Next one, I'll go over some of the gear I'll be taking with me on my tour and why.  So, for an exit tune, here's Neil Young doing "Long May You Run"...for John, Nancy, for my family, friends, for those I've yet to meet...http://youtu.be/WYna-UAt75c  

From Auld Lang Syne:
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for days of long ago.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Katrien and Manu...Belgium Cyclists.

"Who put lemonade in my lemonade?" ~ W.C. Fields

Never mess with someone's lemonade... Not related in any fashion, but I like the quote by Fields.  Manu and Katrien contacted me back in November via Warmshowers.org (www.warmshowers.org) as they were riding the Adventure Cycling Association's Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/great-divide-mountain-bike-route/).

The duo, in their 20's/30's, started in Alaska doing some outdoor travels, hiking/camping in the snow!  After that, they headed south and picked up the Great Divide trail in Canada.  How did they afford this long distance trip?  They saved their money and, when they had saved enough, they quit their jobs and headed out down the road.  Manu works at an oudoor store, so he will most likely get hired back on his return since he's an experienced hiker, cyclist, etc., and has used quite a bit of the gear the store sells.  So, when customers ask about a product, he's able to speak to them from having used the equipment.  Katrien will have to look for work, but she was not crazy about her job that she left for this trip.

Here are a few photos:
                     Manu and Katrien eating breakfast...
          Manu packing up, getting ready to head to Mexico...

       Manu's touring bicycle with Rohloff hub...
         Katrien and Eileen being videod by Manu...
      Katrien...
          Manu...
       Katrien and Eileen sharing some laughs...

These folks were great fun and will be headed to Cancun, Mexico, after leaving Silver City.  From Cancun, they'll return to Belgium.  They arrived at our house the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, just days after Eileen and I had returned from the funeral for our friend, Bruce (see the previous post on my website).  So, we were readjusting (and still are) from that shock. For Thanksgiving, we'd accepted an invite from friends to go to their house, which we'd accepted, but they had no room for more guests!  They'd invited 21 people to their house!!!  Brave people!!!  As it turned out, Manu and Katrien were able to experience a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with some other friends and cyclists who live at the Bike Haus, so they had their fill of turkey and pumpkin pie...and more.

I am new to using Apple products with the recent purchase of an iPad Air 2, so inserting videos in these posts is not as easy as it is with Microsoft.  There must be an easier way, but I'm still learning how to use this thing.  Hopefully, I'll learn how to do it.  
1.  Manu videoing Katrien and Eileen: http://youtu.be/z7hcH3NJmsI
2.  Katrien and Manu leaving for Mexico: http://youtu.be/aKVS--j6HaM

Katrien and Manu ended up staying 3 nights with us, which was good because they were such fun.  And good cooks.  Tiramisu, appetizers, and wine.  Hard to beat that.  I cooked dinner and we all ate too much....more fun.  While riding the Divide Route, they met up with a couple, Sarah and Matt...Sarah is from Australia; Matt is from England.  The couples ended up arriving in Silver City and met up with each other for Thanksgiving and for a bit of spirits/food at Gila Hike & Bike on the evening before Thanksgiving.  So, they left Silver City together.  Matt and Sarah were headed to Phoenix, while Manu and Katrien were headed to Mexico.  

Manu and Katrien have a website: http://cyclingsummits.be/  If so inspired, check it out and follow their ride.  What I still find amazing is the number of people we've met as Warmshowers.org hosts from all over the world.  Having lived in many large cities, where you'd think you'd meet people from other countries, no place compares to Silver City and the intersection of the Continental Divide hiking trail, the Southern Tier Bicycle Route, and the Great Divide Route.  We have met and have stayed in contact with many of the people who have stayed with us from all over the world.  Austria, Australia, Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium, and from many cities throughout the U.S.  Whodathunk, eh?

Meeting the likes of Katrien and Manu is what makes being a Warmshowers host so interesting and fun.  If you're interested, please sign up, particularly if you're a cyclist, too.  While on my long ride this year, I'll be using Warmshowers for places to stay while on the road.   And I'm excited about meeting so many new people!

Ok, time to exit with a tune...Richard Thompson doing "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j0kJdrfzjAg).  One of my favorites from a great singer/songwriter.  Happy trails to you two, Manu and Katrien.  Come back anytime!!  Will see you in Belgium on my bicycle.





Monday, December 8, 2014

Bruce Doeren...My Friend

"You're dead a long time." ~ Anonymous

Sometimes, the world sucks.  And people die.  My good friend, Bruce, died recently and I was knocked off my dime.  Stunned would be a better description.  He'd just turned 60, had more toys than anyone I knew and, more importantly, he was a good guy.  Bruce and I became friends when I worked at University of New Mexico Hospital.  The how and why of our first meeting is no where to be found in my brain.  His oldest child, Miquela, is now 23 yrs old.  I met her when she was a little girl.  That will give you a clue as to how long we'd been friends.

He was an avid cyclist.  Hell, this guy was avid everything.  I believe Renassance Man would be the more accurate descriptor.  Bruce was into almost everything and he knew a ton about almost everything.  But, like I said, his best trait...he was a nice guy.

When he would talk to me about how things were at UNM Hospital and how they should be, he'd hurt my brain because he'd make me think outside of my box...and, most often, he was right.  If he had a fault, it was his unwillingness to acknowledge that, just because he was right about how something should be done, it wasn't always the right thing to do at that particular time.  If you know what I'm talking about here, fine.  If not, well, I don't want to take the time or space here to go into it. Ask someone else. Maybe they can help.

Bruce was not perfect.  Who is?  But he was my friend and, now, every time I'm out on a bike ride, I think of Bruce and get pissed off that he's dead.  And how unfair it is...to him, to his wife, Eloise, to his two children, Miquela and Ryan, and to those of us who called him a friend.  He was one of those friends who I could pick up where we left off from the last time we were together and move along like there had never been a time lag since we last saw each other.

And he collected things...Eloise believes he has around 50 bikes.  Yes, FIVE ZERO...50.  Ok, he was obsessive compulsive, too.  They have 4 houses. Maybe 5 vehicles including an RV.  Tools. Guns.  Four gun safes.  Jesus!  I don't even know all the stuff he'd collected over his lifetime, but it was a lot.

Not sure what that was all about, but it made him feel good to have it, which is good enough for me. He'd drag me to gun shops and gun shows trying to get me to buy a few more weapons.  Or to bike shops for sales and tell me that I needed something.  He'd get annoyed if I found something and got it for cheap and there wasn't a second one.  One time, he made me buy the beer at lunch because I'd beaten him to a sale item.  Too funny!

The best part is that we got to meet each other, work with each other, and ride with each other.  When in shape, he was the biggest, fastest cyclist for his size that I knew.  Going up South 14 on the East side of the Sandias in Albuquerque, as we'd near the top, he'd take off and be riding in a circle at the top, waiting for me.  Finally, I got in shape and I'd beat him to the top and circle, waiting for him.  He was always gracious about that...he'd tell me that I was kicking his ass.  And I was looking forward to riding with him again...and kicking his ass one more time.  We had a good rivalry on the bikes.  If the weather turned bad, we'd head out somewhere for nachos and beer, which was always a good substitute for crappy weather riding.

I am glad that he died in his sleep and hope that it was as painless as it could be.  He deserved that.  He'd earned that.  I'm still pissed off.  And I miss him more than I can say.  When Eileen and I went to his memorial service in Albuquerque, I was doing fine until I saw his bike up at the altar in the church.  It was his Sampson.  Here's a photo:
Bruce had this bike custom built by Sampson (http://www.sampsonsports.com/) when Eileen and I lived in Albuquerque, NM.  He tried to get me to buy one.  I told him that I already had two bikes and could only ride one at a time anyways, so what was I going to do with another road bike?  Obviously, having as many bikes as he could was a goal. 

I'm sort of rambling here, like acknowledging that Bruce is dead, I'm still not ready to let go.  Man, what tune do I use to end this post?  It'll be Davy Spillane once more, with Sinead O'Connor, doing "The Dreaming of The Bones" ...http://youtu.be/QVKIVL_YUzw

God speed, my friend...If it's possible, I do hope we meet again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DARN TOUGH SOCKS: A Product Review

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former." ~ Albert Einstein 

Now, in my opinion, these are the best socks on the planet. My nephew, John, told me about them several years ago. We kind of go back-and-forth sharing things that we've discovered with each other. This is one of his discoveries. 

These socks are made in the U.S. and have a lifetime guarantee. The company is in Vermont and it's called Darn Tough.  And they mean it with their guarantee. Socks a little worn out after 10 years? Send them back and they'll send you a new pair. For free. How cool is that? No, this isn't an invitation to be a dick and just use the guarantee to your advantage. It speaks highly of a company that is proud of their product and believes in it.

Of course, the picture only shows one style and one color of a bike sock that's sold by Darn Tough. Check out their website for more styles, colors, and varieties of socks. I have worn my bicycling socks for over four years and they're still in great shape. The ones that I have are wool with nylon and Lycra in it for shape.  I wear them year-round. They keep my feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In my opinion, wool is the best material for socks, cycling shorts, and cycling jerseys.  It's an all year material and lasts a very long time.

My take on them?  5 Stars.




Okay. Time to head out of here and close with a tune. Clint Black singing a fav of mine, A Better
Man. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

JIM "Jimmy T" TIERNEY...Headin' Home Via The Southern Tier Route.

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before."
~Mae West (1892-1980)

"I long, as every human being does, to be at home wherever I find myself." ~ May Angelou

Jim Tierney came through Silver City a week ago Sunday.  Traveling the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route, he was on his first long distance touring trip.  Being new to this kind of effort, he was beginning to understand that this type of cycling is different.  I told Jim that a touring cyclist isn't better than other cyclists, however, there is a difference in their determination of effort.  A certain stamina is required, mostly mental but certainly physical, too, that motivates a rider to get up on day 45, pack up the bike, and ride another day.  Yes, racers, as well as other riders, need to have a set determination to get on the bike and ride, too.  I believe touring cyclists, particularly those doing long distance touring, have to pull from a mental reserve that is challenging, to say the least.  He'll learn as he goes along, as we all have.

Jim was a trip.  Funny, interesting, and good to chat with, too.  Having finished his bachelor's degree from Old Dominion in Virginia, he decided to take on an adventure before settling into more routine work.  Good decision, in my opinion.  Something that I wish I'd done when I was his age, but, that was then, this is now.
Jim is discovering the wonders of Red Breast Irish Whiskey!
Well, I couldn't let him drink that good stuff by himself!
Jim's Ride: A Specialized Tri-Cross.  A nice rig...
The complete setup with the BOB trailer...and his VERY COMFORTABLE sleeping pad.

Preparing the load on the BOB trailer.

More prep...securing the load.

Now, what was this thing again???
Managed to get a few videos of Jim with my new iPhone 5S.  The photos above are from the iPhone, too. No need for any other camera, which I like.  The first video is at our house when Jim was preparing to leave. The second one is out on Rt. 90, after riding with Jim halfway to Faywood Hot Springs (where he would spend the night), where we said goodbye and Jim headed on to Las Cruces, NM.
Jim was doing well on the bike and will interrupt the trip when he gets to San Antonio, TX, to meet up with his family in New Orleans, LA, for Thanksgiving.  Should be fun!  If you'd like to follow Jim's travels, go to Track My Tour.  Jim has another site, Biking With Jimmy T, where he describes a bit about himself and the Dave Thomas Foundation, which he's raising money for on this trip.  Take a moment to read up why he chose this foundation to fundraise for.

Ok, as usual, a tune to exit with...hmmm, let's see...what would work here?  Just discovered that Richard and Linda Thompson have a son, Teddy Thompson, who is a singer/songwriter like his parents.  And he's good, too.  Here's Teddy "Don't Know What I Was Thinking".  Now, sometimes, and I'm certain that Jim has thought this once or twice on the road, as we all have at one time or another, while on the bike out on the highway, a rider can wonder about what s/he was thinking when they decided to get on the bike and do a long tour.  This one's for you, Jim.  Best wishes for your new work in Florida after you finish this tour.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label Tire From Compass Bicycle...A Real Winner! 5 Stars

"To prepare for a race, there is nothing better than a good pheasant, some champagne, and a woman." - Jacques Anquetil (1934-1987), First 5 Time Tour de France Winner

Ah, that was when bicycle racing was real.  Ok, this is a revisit from new tires that I bought and put on my Vitus road bike back on 5/27/14.  Click here to read the original posting.  I had used two Grand Bois Col de Madeleine tires on the Vitus but was unimpressed that they only lasted a short time and had several punctures, which are never fun.  This is not to disparage these tires.  They were fast and comfortable to ride for an extra light tire (extra leger), however, these are more for racing than training or just doing rides.  Roads here are tough and your earn what you burn in calories here.

The Grand Bois Cerf (French for "deer") Blue Label tires, however, have been very good with no punctures, to date.  Always afraid to say things like that.  Now, I expect to have a flat the next time I'm out on the Vitus.  Just this week, I rotated the tires, rear one to the front, front to the rear, because of tread wear, which is to be expected.  The tires still look good and have performed really well for me.  Online, you can find other reviews of this tire, as well.  Many compliments out there.

Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label 700x26 tire
I give this tire, for now, a 5 Star rating, since it has performed so well.  I've put over 1,000 miles on them or more.  It smoothes out the road surface yet is a faster tire, in my opinion, than other tires I've used.  Certainly a subjective opinion, not based on data or testing by me, but, if you're looking for a great, fast, comfortable tire...this is one to consider.  I realize every rider has different needs while on the bike.  This tire will meet and exceed the needs of many who ride the roads.  In a few months, I'll let you know again how this tire is doing.

Compass Cycles sell these tires at a fairly reasonable price...$57 for the standard, 222 gram tire or $76 for the 184 gram extra leger (ultra light) tire.  Depending on what you're looking for in a tire, these are a good choice.  The standard for training; the extra leger for racing.

Now, to exit this posting...a tune for your listening pleasure.  Patsy Cline singing "Blue Moon of Kentucky" back in February1963.  Enjoy this incredible singer...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Love IS A Many Splendored Thing With Side Effects!

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~ Robin Williams

“See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.” ~ Robin Williams

First, I am truly sorry that this genius was so troubled that he believed he needed to end his life.  One of the truly amazing humans on the planet didn't make it through a bout of depression.  God speed and thanks so much for being you.

Love.  I think that the "little spark of madness" is what has helped me in my life.  Certainly, the lack of blood flow to my brain has never served me well, I assure you.  Finally, getting past the attractions, the desires, the OMG moments, and really falling in love with someone, my wife, Eileen, came late but, happily, before I died.  It's an amazing feeling all in its own right, but it does mess with my life.  When I was single, being "in love" wasn't really in my life.  Sure, there were many people who were important to me for many reasons but no one because I truly loved them.  Sounds negative, eh?  Don't mean it that way.  Yes, I love my family, friends, some things I own, some things I've done, but truly love someone?  That came later.  Thankfully.

The major pain in the ass part?  Well, when I was single, living by myself, I handled being by myself quite well, actually.  Now, having Eileen in my life and truly being in love with her....when she's gone for a while, like this week...she's at Cascadia, an Irish music camp, on Whidbey Island, WA, along with many of her friends and cohort musicians playing the music she loves.  Eileen is teaching Intro to Irish Fiddle there for the second year now.  And me?  I'm home with the cats doing some male bonding with furballs.  And I miss Eileen a lot.  I mean, a lot.  That didn't happen when I wasn't in love and when I lived by myself.  I have all the distractions and interests that I had when living by myself, but now Eileen has entered the picture.  When my Mom died, I knew my Dad must be having a hard time, having been married to my Mom for 58 years, but, until I fell in love with Eileen, I really didn't have a clue what not having someone you love around you day to day felt like.  And I don't pretend to have any inkling of what my Dad must have felt after 58 years.  How terrible that must have been.  But, like my Dad, I wouldn't have missed falling in love.  Not for a moment.  So, whoever made this possible.  Thank you...

A tune to exit with...Sam Cooke doing "You Send Me".  One of my oldies but goodies from way back when.