Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back In the Saddle Again: On Sundays We Ride

It Is,  After All, About Bicycles
So anyway, I got the big-frame Schwinn up and running with minimal (ha ha) effort and then, in my usual carefully planned manner, set forth on a Test Ride to See What Happens. What happened was enlightening indeed. The bike, my Loyal Steed on which I had ridden well over a thousand miles of smooth highway was now...twitchy. This was my Bad-Ass Steel War-Horse Freight Train! She still tracked like a freight-train, but not as, uh, “freight-trainy” any more. (Note: I am sometimes forced to use highly technical terms. This cannot be avoided)

What the WTF?

I don't get it. I spent hundreds (ok, three hundred, and one hundred was for a work stand) of dollars and I get TWITCHY? I angrily, (well, grumpily) mashed the pedals. The Voice never Comes Along for the Ride, but this time, There He Was.

We're already in Daytona, he said.

 “What?” I said. 

Daytona,  said the Voice.

 “Shut up, Voice,"  I said,    “We just got started.”

But No. Eighteen miles had got behind me and I was still Arguing with the Bike. Now, that's interesting. So I started listening and what I heard was that this New Rear Wheel, built for as Low Cost as possible and Imported from Way Far Away was One Hell of a Whole Lot Better Product than what I had been riding. That “twitch” was the brilliantly stiff new rear wheel imparting increased torque to the front of the frame, causing the front end to tweak a bit.  I rather liked it.

Good Old 27 inch / 36 spoke bicycle wheels are flexible. That is part of their charm. I still have a 27 inch (Wienmann) on the front of my bike. I only changed the the Back Wheel. I will forever appreciate the “Float” of the Good Old Long Spoke Bike. But right about the time I was thinking these thoughts I was in Ormond Beach and that's twenty five miles.

But all the same, maybe I'll keep the 27 on the front. There is definitely a larger spring-factor and I could get used to the feeling of imbalance...

Then Some More Miles
Now I'm pausing for a Refreshing Cold Drink (guess what kind) at a cool little market Way Out There and I realize I'm Going Long on this one and Me and the Bike have still  not Made Friends over these transformations and then Bang! I'm headed North and I can't believe how fast I am after such a long layoff and even with the New Stuff on the Bike...

Old Glory Days
Life Guard Stations in Florida have flags flying over them. I know this because I sometimes (when not pedaling a bicycle) ride around in the Atlantic on a Hobie Cat. We use the flags flying over the Life Guard stations as wind indicators to help us decide Best Points of Sail and Who To Salute and so on. And while flying North along the Coast Highway I was whizzing rapidly by these Life Guard Stations and noticing the Flags flapping gallantly in the breeze, indicating a wind out of the South.

What's That Got To Do With Me?
As a Super-Cyclist I knew this meant something, but what of it? I am the Trailer Park Cyclist, Master Bike Builder and King Hammer-Masher! No South Wind will slow me down, when headed North! I was amazed at the New Feel of the Bike. I turned West off the Coast road and headed Inland. Highway One, I was confidant, could not be far away. Nor was I wrong. After a short interlude at a high-end convenience store, I had another short interlude in the woods out back, then mounted my trusty steed. With but a few swift pedal strokes  I crossed a High Bridge (what passes for a climb in Florida) and then found my way to US1,  my Home Road and an Easy Spin South to Whispering Pines Trailer Park and a fridge full of cold beer and Miss Daisy to scratch my back. Except Yellow Dogs don't scratch backs, they like their backs scratched, and when I turned left into that South Wind:   Reality Took Hold.

No,  Seriously,  I'm Not Stupid
What can I say? I'm not stupid, in spite of Popular Opinion.  I knew, all the way up this 40 mile ride from Home  (My dearly Beloved Whispering Pines Trailer Park Which I May Never See Again)   I KNEW it was a South Wind. But What About the New Wheel? Doesn't That Count?

Remember This
Hell, man, you can Count Anything You Want when you are Way Too Old For This, Way Too Out of Shape and you still got 40 miles of Florida Highway On A June Afternoon staring you in the face. Actually, BLASTING you in the face at about twelve  miles an hour and as relentless as only a summer South Wind can be. There will be rain tomorrow,  but Today Is Today.

 So what do you do?

You put your head down and grind. You reach down and grab the drops and you grind and curse and bonk and grind and Drink Water and grind and spin and every once in awhile Sprint and cuss and you are pretty sure your toenails are bleeding and then GRIND and then, a little over three hours later: Home.

Good Old Whispering Pines Trailer Park
I never go straight to the fridge and grab a beer. Well, actually, I do: but I put that beer in the freezer and then I rip off my burning shoes and socks and then I peel off my Salvation Army T-Shirt and then I Pay My Respects to my Yellow Dog.

 Eighty Miles of Road,   Forty of which was Ninety Degree Sand-Blasting means you head straight for a cold shower and then, wearing a cool clean pair of shorts and your favorite t-shirt,  you sit on the Veranda of your Crappy Trailer and as the sun settles gently into wherever it goes, you take that almost frozen beer and pop the cap and think about what Eighty Miles On A Bicycle means;  you drink that Cold-Ass Beer and Know that Today, You Did Good.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Ride Review


  1. Ain't new goodies a blast? Careful or next time or you might end up in Georgia looking for a bus ticket. Beware the wind at your tail on the outbound leg!

  2. They say Headwinds Build Character but this was my first big ride in nine weeks. The bike got me through it, though. I'm hoping for a Century on my birthday in a couple weeks...but if I do it will be a Fatty-style hundred miles to nowhere loop on a nice little 25 mile course that keeps me within bailing distance of the Park. That ride Sunday was more like an episode of Survivor.

  3. Not only do they build character but headwinds make for an epic ride, and it sounds like your ride definitely goes in the epic category.

    I did a charity Century ride in 2000 that had a 30 mile stretch of nasty headwind, no cover and not a soul to draft. About 5 years later I am at a park and notice a couple guys with t-shirts from that ride, I ask them if they rode in 2000, they nod and at the same time we all say "that *&^%ing wind!" and then laugh.

  4. Oh hell yeah, it's easy to laugh about when it's over. And the truth is, I'm such a sneaky bastard that I have always manipulated my Big Loop or Up and Back Rides so I can Angle a Header into a mere Cross Wind by changing course a little.

    But then I read about these Touring Riders who go Days On End Against the Wind and I said to myself: Better start riding some headers for "fun" cause someday, you won't have a choice. Like last Sunday.

    But Hey Ryan, ain't it fun bumping into other people who know what you're talking about? A kind of brotherhood...

  5. I developed a habit of looking at the weather for the prevailing wind before heading out on anything of length. One breezy day last summer I spent most of the afternoon in granny-low on the triple doing about 4 mph uphill and upwind. It was a learning experience to say the least. That which does not kill us...

  6. Tim Joe it is fun to bump into the brethren and laugh about shared pain and suffering, and good places to find snacks. And you are right too that it ain't so much fun when you are in it, I was fortunate enough to be on Maui a few years back and rented a road bike in town near the airport and rode the 20 miles or so to the place we were staying. There are Trade winds on Maui and on the way out I was barely pedaling my biggest gear and doing about 30 mph! YAHOO. On the way to return the bike.....head down, granny gear on the flat, grinding away at- 6 mph, sometimes I could get up to 7, but mostly 6. I believe a possum may have passed me -Jaysus Mary and Joseph! Doing that for days on end could wear a body down, hats off to those who can do it.