The Bar Has Been Raised

IMAG0001Sucky weather all weekend meant no real riding to speak of, but drinking coffee, doing some cleaning, and laying about watching movies.  We got some dark roast beans and I put the grinder to work.  I now know what all of the excitement is about.  Clearly the best cuppa joe I’ve ever had.  The house smelled so good even Red came out to the kitchen and took a sip, and she’s a tea drinker.

It must be good, because both days I skipped my afternoon power naps.

Decisions…

I’m a little perplexed.

After last Saturday’s ride and the shoulder/neck pain that I suffered after 50 miles, I decided that it would be good to switch to the Trucker for a few rides with an upright position.  The Trucker has seen very little miles thus far this season.

Wow.  I did tweak the saddle a little, but the difference in overall comfort is incredible.  I suddenly remembered why I love this bike so much, and now I’m wrestling with whether to continue with the X bike, or the Trucker, on my quest for a century.  The Trucker is heavy and I can easily feel the weight difference, but it also demands a different riding style, ie: less agressive, lower gears.

Another big difference is the tires and how they eat up the bumps.  The X bike is fitted with 32c Vittorias while the Trucker has the 40c Little Big Bens.  The difference is so evident that it has to have an effect on comfort over the long haul.  Very soon I plan to switch wheelsets and see how it changes the X bike’s ride.

Finally is the Highway One drops v. the Albatross.  If I can strengthen my core and neck muscles to tolerate the “tuck” better over distance, then I’ll be OK.  Otherwise, the Trucker wins for comfort hands down.  And….would having smoother tires relieve some of that pressure once they were switched to the X bike?

The Alba’s are not perfect.  I look at my hand angles while riding and I think I would prefer bars with the grips angled out another 10-15 degrees.  Bars like that are common, but then they don’t accomodate barcon shifters and I’m not crazy about “thumbies.”

I intend to play around with different setups because that’s what I like to do, but it will be interesting trying to find the right combination of parts and measurements to get the perfect distance machine.  It will be ironic if it ends up being the trusted ol’ Trucker.

Cheers!

 

Caffeination

This father’s day brought two interesting gifts that will definitely become part of the camping kit:IMAG0001The little guy on the left is a miniature French Press.  The bottom is a screened cup that screws into the top.  The grind goes in the cup, and then everything is dropped into a mug of hot water.  After four minutes, you hit the plunger and your cuppa is ready.  I tried it once with some terrible canned grounds, and it came out weak.  Still, it cleaned up easily.  I’m hoping that with some better coffee it will work better as well.  I have to admit that I’ve never seen one like this before – it will probably replace the little drip through system I have.

On the right is a bean grinder.  It opens up to allow storing beans in the bottom as well as catching the grind, the handle comes off easily for storage, and the ceramic grinding disk is adjustable for the grind.  And its designed to nest inside of an Aeropress for compactness.  I can’t wait to get some decent beans and try it out!

Carlisle

It wasn’t until I got to Boiling Springs that I settled on riding into Carlisle to see how the bike lanes were doing.  Up to that point I had been waffling between Pine Grove Furnace and Kings Gap.  All three were longish choices, but on this perfect morning any one of them could do no wrong.

'dems some big horns, ladies.

‘dems some big horns, ladies.

Around mile 45 my shoulders really started to ache.  Everything else about the ride was great, but I just don’t yet have the neck strength to tolerate the drop bars on a longer ride.  I might switch to the LHT for a bit, which I should do anyway since this poor bike has been all but ignored this year.

I love steam trains, and the PRR is one of my many interests.  This sight capped off a great ride!

Williams Grove engine

Williams Grove engine

IMAG0011Near the end my legs were toast, but that was my fault – the X bike just beckons to be ridden faster than common sense dictates for a long tour.

I think my next longer ride will continue west…

Hills…and more Hills

Southeast, down along the river on a hot morning.  Mostly downhill on newly paved roads.  Even Gut Road, which used to have a “Travel at your own risk” sign now has a coat of chipseal.IMAG0004The road turns and the only way out is up.  Steadily grind up out of the river basin into central York County.  Up to Starview, appropriately named.  Over to Rudy Park and then head for home.IMAG0005Hot, but overcast, so the sun is not too harsh.  In to Strinestown, which is having a yardsale extravaganza.  One church has a band of ancient accordianists wearing flag draped shirts while the other is having a funeral.

Then down to the Conewago and then the climb of climbs.  I even hiked for a couple of minutes just to stretch and give my bumm some air.

Steamy summer hills.  Glorious.

Lattimore

In trying to get up some longer miles, this past Saturday called for a ride out to Lattimore Park.  The route is a mix of hills and flats, with great scenery.

Adams County, "Twin Peaks Hill"

Adams County, “Twin Peaks Hill”

The temperature was nice, slightly overcast, but the winds picked up pretty good.  The home leg was into a stiff headwind, but I wasn’t going to let that get me down mentally.

Not far from the house I spotted a touring rig.  We waved but didn’t stop because he was blasting down a hill as I was grinding up.  Not sure, but it looked like a front loaded LHT.IMAG0011Once at the park I meandered over to the raceway and stretched my legs.  They are definitely letting me know about the ramped up miles and how I should probably have a better base.IMAG0013On the way out I heard a loud pop and realized that a spoke had broken.  Its always this particular wheel.  Fortunately the wheel wasn’t too far out of true or rubbing.

Eight miles from home I start feeling it in my legs and also my neck.  I’ve still got to get comfortable with the drop bars on the longer rides.  My legs felt tired, but not any pain.  My butt was fine and my arms/hands were good.

Beautiful morning for a ride.  Probably bit off more than I should have, but that’s par for the course.

Finally

After four attempts to find a front derailleur that allows sufficent clearance for fenders and/or knobbies on the X bike, I finally found a low budget Shimano unit that fits the bill.  It still required a little Dremel work to shave away part of the swing arm so the works would reach all the way out to the big ring, but now we’re good.IMAG0006In the process, I probably learned more about front derailleurs than I ever wanted to, but them’s the breaks.  Of the four, I found the bottom-pull, low clamp to be the smoothest and most forgiving by far; but also having the least amount of clearance.  If I ever get a bike with really long chainstays, that’s the way to go.

Other than all of this, I’m also dealing with a minor issue where the crank bolt is working loose every so often.  The first hint is not being able to shift into the big ring.  I’m thinking some blue Loc-tite might be the answer.