Flew off my rocker too many times today.
The day started off with me using a really bad analogy when trying to help my girlfriend. I was trying to help, but what I said was insulting and wrong. I quickly realized my mistake, but the damage was done. I left the house pretty frustrated with myself.
I rode a couple hundred yards from my house and then stopped at a light. There were two lanes in the road. One is a right turn only lane and one lane is either for going straight or for turning left. I was in the left lane planning to go straight. This guys pulls up next to me half in the right hand lane half in my lane. I try to get his attention, but he pulls up further so we can't make eye contact. So I pull up further and get right in his driver side window. At first he won't roll his window down. He is talking on the phone and pretending not to notice me. So I start waving my hands and yelling at him.
Finally he rolls his window down. He says "What".
I say "What are you doing?" in a very annoyed and confrontational tone.
He says "What do you mean?"
I say "Are you turning left?" (again in a very smart ass way)
He says "I was planning to."
I say "Do you normally pull up on the right hand side of a car in a right hand turn only lane and turn left in front of other cars?"
He gives me a look like fuck you and rolls his window back up.
The light turns green and we both take off but I beat him into the intersection. I cut in front of him and glare at him. Then pedal on my way.
I am proud I stood up for myself, but I wish I could have been less confrontational about it. He is probably just waiting to run over some poor roadie now.
After I got to work, I sent off some shit-o-grams to the customer service people at batteryspace.com.
I ordered some rechargeable batteries from them a couple weeks ago for my commuter lights. The day I got them I tried to charge four of the AAA batteries in the charger I got from them. After about an hour or so the light went from red to green so I went to take the batteries out of the charger. They were much hotter than I would have expected. I would expect that they would be a little warm but they were very hot. I thought this was weird but I assumed since they were brand new it must be okay. I double checked the polarity of the batteries in the charger and tried another set. Again in about an hour or so they light changed and I took the batteries off. The batteries were not quite as hot but i thought a felt some kind of slick liquid on the batteries. I had just finished dinner so I thought maybe my fingers were just greasy. I put a third set of batteries in the charger. When the light went green on the third set the batteries were cold and covered in liquid. There was also liquid in the charger. I was pretty sure this was not normal so I sent an email that day to battery space people.
They wrote back pointing me to their warranty/return page. After reading the page I got a really bad feeling like I wasn't getting any money back. So I wrote them back and told them I would be sending the stuff I bought back.
The guy wrote me back and said he would refund the AAA batteries, but he would charge a 20% restocking fee for the charger and AA batteries I ordered. Also I would have to ship him the defective batteries at my own expense.
I basically sent him a nasty email telling him I thought what he was doing was not fair. I have no safe way of knowing if the AA batteries or the charger are not defective. I also asked if he knew the AAA batteries were defective then why did he ship them to me?
I think paying $7 in shipping to return a $10 set of batteries is not fair.
Anyways I am sure as a customer service person he has to take shit all day so what I did doesn't help anyone. I guess I have too high a level of expectations for customer service from a discount online store. If I want customer service I would be better off buying from a local store and paying full price.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Flew off my rocker too many times today.
Posted by James Bigler at 7:03 PM
Monday, December 10, 2007
unload the bike from rack
feel something not quite right
grab the wheel give it a spin
hear rubbing on the frame
anger yelling frustration
why must i fix you again
i clean you, i oil you
i keep your tires full of air
i have fixed your broken cable
i have fixed your broken fork
now your gears are no longer indexed
and your brakes are no longer aligned
maintenance is a constant
no purpose anger serves
might as well complain about pedaling
or even breathing in and out
flip the bike over
wiggle the offending wheel
grab an allen key
re-tighten the loose slider
swing a leg over the bike
pedal fast around the car
lean hard in the turns
listen careful for the rub
call it good enough
pray the bolts hold till the ride is over
remember on any future slider adjustments
reapply your blue loc-tite
is everything like bike maintenance
can you choose to not get frustrated
should you just accept the inevitable
or accept the challenge as part of the fun
the ride was worth the challenge
the problems faded away
the time spent with my baby
the joy of a beautiful day
Posted by James Bigler at 3:48 PM
Friday, November 30, 2007
a crowd gathers at the trailhead
lights grow bright
pedals click like thunder
positioning riders fight
the pace is risen
the line is blown
quick speed reduction
the flock has flown
click goes the gears
pedal with all your might
bring back the rider
escaping into the night
slam into a rock
slide across a root
skid through a corner
heart rate through the roof
saved by the climb
where my skills are their best
rider's light dead ahead
stringing out the rest
the climb has leveled out
the lead riders have been caught
better get a handle on your breathing
or your effort will be for naught
the trail points back down the hill
the flock again pulls away
stop staring at your front wheel stupid
it is here to stay
now i can see much better
i'm starting to get the feel
a few hard pedals
now i am on your wheel
Posted by James Bigler at 12:30 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
Went to Virginia for a week but didn't ride much. Did a fun ride at O-Hill and a quick road ride but mostly sat around on my butt. Had a delicious Thanksgiving meal at the Boar's Head Inn. Finally fixed the driver side mirror on my Subaru. Taking the door panel off was tricky. Glad I don't have to use duct tape or hold it on with my hand any more. My nephew is getting possessed this weekend. Hopefully I will get to sneak in a ride some time.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:44 PM
Monday, November 12, 2007
I went on three rides (other than my daily commute) last week and the best part of all three rides was getting to ride with other people.
Wednesday was the first Big Creek Night Ride. 24 guys (unfortunately no women) showed up for a couple of laps around the Big Creek trails. All kinds of riders showed up including first time night riders, a pair of 9 year olds, pro roadies, and plain ole weekend warriors like me.
Once we rolled out of the parking lot, I tried to settle in to what I thought was the social pack. I still ended up riding pretty much at my limit all night though. Even at my limit I was the last one in line. I tried to tell myself that I was doing everyone a favor by making sure no one got lost. I stopped several times to give people moral support while they fixed their chain or shed some clothes. :)
Saturday Amy and I rode our tandem link around Bull Mountain. We started in the Jake mountain parking lot and rode the connector trail to 28, went up 83, stayed straight on the forest road past the turn off to Bull Mountain and Jones Ridge. We took the single track connector to the end of the Whoop-De-Doo trail. Then rode 77-A to 77 back to 28. From 28 we took the pavement back to the Jake Mountain Lot. Our loop was around 11.5 miles.
The leaves were really colorful on Saturday. I wished I would have remembered to bring my camera. We saw also lots of beautiful horses. We were careful to get off our bikes and let them pass, however one of them got a little spooked when the rider stopped and asked me for directions. Maybe the horse was just itchin to get riding again. Amy rode strong all day. I barely got to do any pulling.
Sunday I rode with Amy and Bubba. We went to a new park the city of Kennesaw is building right across from Bubba's house. I think the name of the park is Swift-Cantrell. Right now there is a 1 mile paved loop with a couple of connector paths as well. We rode the loop in a bunch of different variations.
While Bubba was taking a nature break, he found an old basketball in a ditch in the woods. We ended up using the basketball to play hide and seek. One person would go off on their bicycle with the basketball and hide the ball somewhere. Then the other people would ride their bikes around and try to find it. It was a lot of fun.
This week I thought a lot about my training last year and how I would ride 6 hours at a time by myself on trails I have ridden a hundred times. I think I have decided for me it is so much better to ride with other people. Even being the slowest guy in the pack is still much better than riding every ride by myself. I was very lucky to share those rides last week with other people.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:19 PM
Monday, November 05, 2007
Amy and I decided to go camping at Tanasi last weekend. We spent most of the day Saturday driving around doing the tourist thing. We checked out the overlook and civil war historic site at the Chilhowee Recreation Area. We watched some boaters playing around in the Ocoee River. Then we drove down a long forest service road to our campsite.
We wanted to stay at the Thunder Rock Campground since you can ride your bicycle from your campsite to the trails. Unfortunately the campground was closed while the TVA makes repairs to the power lines.
Instead we stayed at the Tumbling Creek campground which was nice. There are probably 10 campsites there. Each campsite offers a picnic table, a fire ring, a lantern post, and access to a vault toilet. Here is a picture from our picnic table.
Sunday we headed to the Ocoee Whitewater Center. The center is beautiful. I think anyone that lives anywhere near this place should drive over and check it out. You can sit on the back porch and watch the boaters play in the water.
Or you can walk around on some of the concrete paths and get a closer look at the river.
Amy and I rode our bikes along Old Copper Road. This trail is relatively flat and wide, and it runs a long the river for almost it's entire length. We found some rocks and roots to play with on our ride.
After we rode together, I did a solo ride called Thunder Rock Express in the Parham Eastern Tennessee book. This may be my new favorite ride. Lots of tight fast single track descents. There was definitely some climbing involved, but it felt like you got back twice as much as you put in.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:36 PM
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Day started out a little rough. Went to load my bike and noticed my fork was in two pieces. I got it over it quick, and Amy and I worked together to quickly put my old bike back together. After installing some new grips, fixing some stuck links, and re-indexing the rear dérailleur we were on our way.
Our destination was the Bear creek trail in Ellijay, Ga. We arrived without further incident and quickly geared up and hit the trail. The picture above shows one of the main attractions on this trail the Gennett Poplar. At 100 feet tall and 20 feet around, that tree is a giant among saplings. Check out how it dwarfs my little bike.
After admiring the big tree, we hung a right and headed up the Pinhoti trail to the Bear Creek Loop Trail. The normal route is straight up the singletrack to the overlook. We haven't yet mastered riding with the x2cycle on singletrack so we opted for the forest road instead.
If you can take your eyes off this good looking man, you can get an idea of what the road looks like.
Once we got to the overlook I changed the tube in my rear tire to get rid of an annoying slow leak. It was nice sitting in the sun letting it dry the sweat off my back. The view wasn't bad either.
We blasted down the road back to the car and went to the Mexican place in the square. The food wasn't good, but I was hungry enough to clean my plate.
Can't wait for our next adventure.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:00 PM
Monday, October 22, 2007
Amy and I got back from Asheville yesterday. We spent the week riding our bikes, relaxing in our cabin, and exploring the city and surrounding areas. We had the best time.
I loved being able to look up and see mountains. Everywhere you turn there is another beautiful view. Knowing those mountains are full of bicycle trails made the views even better. You can ride anything from all day long gravel grinder routes to super steep and technical single track trails. We rode mostly forest roads, but I also rode some nice single track like Ingles Field Gap and Spencer Gap.
Another thing I loved was the people. I thought my own redneck, hippie, and outdoor geek combination was unique but there seemed to be thousands of people just like me living in Asheville. I felt like I fit in there, and it felt really good to fit in somewhere.
I need to figure out some way to move there. My one week vacation was way too short.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Saturday I went to Bubba's soccer game then we did a ride on the Silver Comet Trail since the SCT is right next to the field he played soccer on. We rode from Floyd Rd to Florence Rd and back. We also explored a little on some of the side trails.
|Click to view gallery|
Sunday Amy and I rode the Upper Chattahoochee Loop that we have been putting off for the last month. We made it, but it took us a full 5 hours. Most of that was due to my rookie mistakes.
1) First my rohloff shifter cable pulled out of my external gear selector, and I didn't have a Torx T20 wrench to fix it. I need to either get one of those wrenches or switch out the bolts to something more standard. I ended up going back to my car and switching the gears manually with 8 mm wrench to my easiest gear. I was pretty useless on the flats, but most of the trail was straight up or straight down so being able to pull the tandem uphill was the most important thing.
2) Next I totally forgot to stop and get picnic supplies. This led to both of us eating much less than we should.
3) Finally I think I picked one of the busiest weekends for Helen with Octoberfest and hunting season beginning. Cars were everywhere and we were continually having to slow down and move over to let cars pass on the narrow forest service roads.
I am glad we went though. The area is very beautiful and it was nice to spend all day with Amy.
|Click to view gallery|
Next Saturday we are going to Asheville for the week. Should be fun!
Posted by James Bigler at 12:25 PM
Monday, October 01, 2007
Amy and I drank and ate too much on Saturday at my nephew's failed baptism party (priest got sick). So the best we could on Sunday was to ride Gainesville college.
The Gainesville College trail is a pretty easy 5 mile singletrack loop. Awhile ago, I volunteered for Trips for Kids and had ridden maybe a mile of the trail. It was good to get back there and see the whole trail. None of the climbs are too long or too steep. There are couple of tricky places to practice your skills. Parham calls it a good place to introduce a beginner rider to singletrack. I took a couple of pics.
|Click to view album|
I found a link to Hodge's blog on psychobillycadillac's blog the other day. Hodge's funny rants inspired me to write about my grocery story experience yesterday.
Amy has been really getting into her cooking. She finds these excellent recipes that are healthy but still taste pretty good. I have tried helping her some, but I have not been consistent about it. Saturday we worked out a really good deal that should allow us both to ride more, eat earlier, and spend more time together. Part of the deal involves us working more as a team both in our riding and cooking. Usually Amy goes to the grocery store by herself, but Sunday I decided I wanted to go as well to show my team support.
Usually my grocery shopping is done with ninja like precision. I know everything I want and where everything is. I use only the small baskets and avoid the buggies. I keep my item count low to use the express or self checkout lane. I basically have very little interaction with the other people in the store.
When you are buying food for a weeks worth of fancy recipes, the experience is very different. First you notice the people around you more. Take for example this lady talking on her cellphone. She was talking so loud that the entire produce section could hear her. She was telling someone that she had accidentally put her dress on inside out. Yes I checked and it was on inside out. She noticed me looking and told her friend that now everyone was staring at her because of her dress. Actually I would have never noticed if she wasn't talking so loud. The dress was so ugly and the colors were so bright wearing it inside out was probably an improvement anyway.
After almost getting run over twice by the cellphone lady's shopping cart, I escaped over to the cereal aisle. I was gazing longingly at the sugar cereals of my youth, and I guess I left my cart a little too far over in the aisle. A man and his son walk by and shove my cart out of the way. No warning or eye contact just walked by and pushed it out of the way. I am not really up on grocery store etiquette, but it seemed pretty rude to me. Not knowing the etiquette I was really not sure how to respond. Should I have chunked my box of Captain Crunch at the dude's head? I settled for my best WTF look and got away from this dude as well.
Sunday did not seem like the best day to go shopping. There were carts everywhere. I got several nasty stares for my cart driving skills. Amy was walking very quickly, and I was just doing my best to try to keep up. This one woman in particular seemed to have it in for me. She kept parking her cart in places that left me almost no chance of following Amy. Several times I had to loop around other aisles to catch up.
Finally I beat the cart blocker to the breakfast sausage section. Amy and I were trying to find the plain Jimmy Dean sausage instead of maple or sage flavored sausage. I think we were in mid sentence when the cart blocker parted the 12 inches between us and started trying to pick out her own brand. I made a quick exit over to the milk section and started studying which chocolate milk brand I was not going to buy. Maybe I just have an overly large sense of personal space, but I think I would have waited a couple seconds to let another choose their sausage in peace. If we would have been discussing some other topic other than sausage and were being rude by occupying space we weren't really using I could understand the cart blocker's frustration, but we were both being active and participating in the sausage selection process.
We almost made it out of the store without any further incidents, but this lady tried to dart in front of me to enter the store through the exit. Luckily she saw the weight of my shopping cart and decided it wasn't worth getting knocked on her ass. The way she bobbed her head and shifted directions back and forth reminded me of the squirrels on my morning commute. I laughed at her as I walked by.
I am going to have to work on my cart driving and people avoidance skills next week. I am sure I will eventually figure out to make it through with less confrontations. Who would have known the grocery store could be so dangerous.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:36 PM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I use Google Reader to keep track of all the blogs and websites I like to read. Most websites publish their content in a format (RSS,atom) that a computer program can read. The published content in a computer readable format is called a feed. Once a website has created a feed I can subscribe to the website using a feed reader like Google Reader.
Basically what this lets you do is get updates to websites similar to the way you get email. Imagine if you had to log on to each one of your friends websites each day to check to see if they had written you an email. That would be madness if you had any more than a handful of friends. Instead you just login into your email program like Gmail and look at all the emails sent to you.
Google Reader works the same way as Gmail except instead of emails you get website updates. When I log in to Google Reader, I see all the updates for all the websites I have subscribed to. I don't have to type the address for each website I like to visit. I just log into my reader and see all the updates in nice neat organized fashion. Yes I am a little OCD.
A cool feature of Google Reader is shared items. Shared items let you mark an item in your reader as interesting. Once you have shared an item it is available for other people to look at. Google reader automatically creates a website and a feed for people to read your shared items.
Google Reader also gives you a little widget to display your shared items on your blog. I added my shared items over to the right as well as links to subscribe to my shared items.
Posted by James Bigler at 2:55 PM
Monday, September 24, 2007
Bubba and I rode at Red Top Mountain State Park Saturday. What a great trail for children. The trail is almost 4 miles of gravel roads with a very gentle grade. Bubba rode the whole trail without even using the x2cycle. We also took a couple long detours exploring some of the side trails.
My favorite part of the day was when Bubba showed me his new moves he has been practicing in his front yard. He went tearing off down his driveway pedaling as hard as he could. Then he cuts it off the driveway into the grass and goes bombing down this big hill pedaling the whole time. He powerslides it around the corner of his house and goes flying into the backyard. He reappears a minute later and grinds almost all the way back up the hill he just descended. He then showed me his slow speeds maneuvering around the swing set and parked cars. I was really impressed. 3 months ago he could barely pedal down the driveway. He looks like a pro now.
Sunday Amy and I did a quick ride on the silver comet. I played around with the camera.
I like the way this picture shows the difference in wheel size, top tube height, fork rake, wheelbase, etc ...
Whoops. I have never tried taking a picture like this before. It is harder than it looks.
I tried taking a couple pictures to show how the x2cycle attaches.
Here is a picture of my Clark Custom Cycle.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:11 PM
Monday, September 17, 2007
Amy and I spent some quality time this weekend. Saturday was Amy's day. First we slept late. Then we ate monkey bread and read our books on the couch. Next we went to Seasons 52 for lunch.
We got a Vine Ripe Tomato Flatbread with roasted garlic, sweet basil and melted Parmesan cheese for an appetizer(think healthy thin and cripy pizza). I got the Grilled Gulf Grouper Sandwich, and Amy got the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Boursin herb cheese, sliced tomatoes & arugula. I liked my sandwich except for the soggy bottom piece of bread. I have gotten it before so I knew what to expect. Amy's sandwich was okay. The cheese had this smoky rich flavor which was cool.
The best part about Seasons 52 is the little miniature desserts. Everything in the restaurant is supposed to be low calorie. So instead of just giving you a massive portion of flavorless desserts, Seasons 52 decided to give you a little shot glass of full flavor dessert. I chose the Rocky Road dessert which is chocolate cake and chocolate icing and some other chocolate stuff. Amy got the pecan pie and vanilla bean mousse. Both were excellent.
After lunch we went to the mall and looked for some new lotion for Amy. I have a sensitive nose so it was hard for me to find something I like. I could only stay in those stores for so long before I got a headache. We swung by the apple store which was cool for me. I looked at all the cool new toys there. Then we played Wii tennis on the way out. We have got to get one of those things. I am so amazed how Nintendo reinvented the video game. They are now once again the number one console seller.
To cap off Amy's day of fun we went and saw the new Bourne movie. To me it was exactly the same as the first movie (I can't remember if I saw the second one). I enjoyed it, but in a year I will probably forget if I have seen it or not. :)
Since Amy had so much fun on Saturday she decided to let me have a fun day on Sunday. First we got up real early. We loaded up the bikes and headed towards Ellijay. We made a quick stop on the way to get some picnic supplies. Amy was nice enough to play DJ with my ipod on the way, and I had fun trying to see how fast I can take the turns on the mountain roads.
We parked at what used to be a gravel lot at the end of FS90B at the base of the Pinhoti 2 trail. The parking lot is now overrun with weeds and is unrecognizable. Amy picked our route at Seasons 52 the day before after I drew a map of the area on a napkin. The route we chose was to head down FS90B, take a right FS90, take a right on shakerag rd, take a right on Conasauga/Mulberry Rd, take a right on FS68, head all the way up the overlook by the Bear creek parking lot, have a picnic, then head back down FS68, take a left on FS90, then right on FS90B back to the car. Here is better map than my napkin drawing made by David Muse.
Our ride went really well. We are still getting used to our x2cycle. We had a couple of tense conversations, but I think we sorted most of it out. My rohloff that I installed worked flawlessly. I was very proud of that.
On our ride, we rode by the Mulberry Gap Inn and Campground. You can camp or stay in one of their bunkhouses. They have a hot tub and showers. They will also cook for you. Amy sounded excited to give it a try.
When we got to the top of the overlook, we had a great picnic. Amy made some cheese sandwiches with Laughing Cow swiss cheese and Hawaiian rolls. For dessert we had two bite brownies. It felt good to sit up there and relax for awhile. The food tasted better after all the hard work getting up there.
After our ride we went to the Corks and Crumbs bakery in the Ellijay square. I laughed at all the motorcycle riders at the wine tasting restaurant. Sign of the times I guess. I got a huge egg salad sandwich and Amy got half a chicken salad sandwich. Mine was okay, but Amy really liked hers. We grabbed a couple baked goods to go and headed home.
Amy said she felt guilty because she enjoyed my day as much as her day. She started talking about going for long weekend bike camping trips. I was in heaven.
Posted by James Bigler at 10:06 AM
Monday, September 10, 2007
Bubba and I gave the x2cycle our best shot yesterday at Blankets yesterday. We didn't do so well.
First we had some trouble getting the bolts tight enough so that the ball hitch didn't swivel around too much. The problem was we could never decide on a common speed. When one of us would accelerate the other would brake. The minor "kick in the back of the chair" feeling Amy and I experienced was more like a drop kick to the butt with Bubba and I. The drop kicks eventually took a toll on our mounts and caused the rack or ball mount to swivel around.
Once we got everything tightened up we tried to negotiate Mosquito flats. It wasn't pretty. We had to stop a bunch. There were several crashes. We kept at it though and eventually we were able to make it through without stopping.
Our goal for the day was Dwelling Loop. After our experience on Mosquito flats, I was pretty apprehensive about trying it, but Bubba really wanted to give it a go. So we went for it. The first part went really well. On the Sun direction the first section is mostly rolling with no hills that are too steep or too long.
We climbed up the first big hill with very little problems and took a long break on one of the benches. Then we tried to descend down one of the bigger hills. It started out sketchy and got much worse the further we got. I think all the braking just wore Bubba out. He complained his back and hands hurt. On many of the hard right hand turns he would just wash his front tire out and fall. Not sure if I was pulling him too fast or if we cut the turn too tight or what.
After 20 minutes of this he was done. We couldn't really ride more than 20 feet without Bubba falling or yelling at me to stop. We finally made it to the bottom of the hill and took a break at the second bench by the lake. We refilled Bubba's camelback and learned that he had chewed through his bite valve. The water leaked out everywhere. I gave him my bite valve and clipped my hose up in the air so that the water wouldn't leak on me.
We tried riding again but it just wasn't happening. Bubba was cooked. So we walked most of the way back to the trail head. Bubba let me pull him up some of the longer climbs but no mas for the downhills.
I think I picked the wrong trail for Bubba's first trip on the x2cycle. He made some comments about how he didn't want to use it anymore. I can't blaim him. He hit the dirt way too many times. Even in all the suffering he made a comment like "I feel like I am in a dream I am having so much fun." So he was a really good sport about it even if I did get him in over his head.
I have been thinking about where to go next time. I think I would like to try Red Top Mountain State Park or the big walking loop at Sope Creek down by the river. Both of these are wide gravel paths with very little elevation change, and I think Bubba would have a much easier time on these trails.
My favorite comment of the day came from Bubba when he was flipping through my Bike magazine in the back seat of my car. He was reading an add for the Specialized Stumpjumper. The ad claimed the Stumpjumper was the best XC trail bike in the world and bunch of other superlatives. Bubba said that it was all a bunch of talk and that it doesn't matter how nice your bike is. What really matters is the rider. I couldn't believe he said that. I told him that was really smart and insightful of him. I asked him where he learned that. He told me he learned it from reading the Harry Potter books. Something about the wand doesn't make the magician.
If you know me you know I can't stand Harry Potter. I will have to eat crow though because if those books teach him things like that then I am all for it.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:47 PM
Friday, September 07, 2007
From the x2cycle website:
"The x2cycle Tandem Rack looks just like a slick cantilever style bike rack, but hidden inside the body is a telescoping tube that extends out and attaches to a trailing bike to let two people stay together for any part of a ride without having to buy a traditional tandem bike. The link bar connecting the bikes has a special patent pending design that allows one section to "float" about six inches, letting the link bar lengthen or shorten during a ride. This lets the two bikes move freely back and forth in relation to each other.
This permitted movement dissipates the permitted movement dissipates the forces that hitting a rock or rut would normally transmit between the bikes and makes the ride comfortable for both riders. If one bike makes a sudden movement the "floating tube" eliminates or cushions the impact to the other rider.
The linking bar will let the trailing bike swing out about 75 degrees to either side. What happens if you go past that? It simply releases. This ability to be able to go side-to-side also gives the back rider some independence of movement rather than always riding directly behind the front bike
So what will happen if the person on the rear bike comes too far forward and starts to go ahead of the front bike? The safety release will automatically disconnect the link bar from the bikes so the two bikes are now riding independently. A special connection to the trailing bike releases should the back bike fall."
Having had some experience riding a tandem with James on the Silver Comet and at the beach while on vacation, I was excited to try the new x2cycle Tandem Rack. I really enjoy riding a tandem, but I have to admit that one of the drawbacks is the limited line of sight for the person riding in the rear. Since the person riding in the rear is very close behind and lower down than the person in the front of the tandem, the rider in the rear usually has an excellent view of the front rider's back, as well as a view of any scenery on either side of the bike. It's the view of what's happening directly in front of the bike that is very limited.
This concern was really not a problem with the x2cycle. Since there was more room between James' bike and mine, and since I had the ability to move my bike slightly to either side, I was able to see much more of the area directly in front of James than I have ever been able to on a regular tandem. This was great for me in that if James chose to ride a line of terrain that was scary to me, (like a big rock) I could simply drift slightly to the side to avoid it, instead of having to ride directly over it whether I wanted to or not, as I would have to on a regular tandem.
When we first started our mountain bike test ride, we were on some rolling forest service roads in Dahlonega. We latched our bikes together, counted to three and took off. I was slightly nervous at first, but after a few minutes of adjusting, I was much more comfortable. Since the bikes are not permanently attached, the rider in the back has to adjust to the tempo/direction of the rider in the front. The better I could anticipate James movements, the less likely we were to have our bikes push/pull at the other. When James slowed down, I needed to be aware of what he was going to do, to avoid running up on his back wheel. Whenever this happened, which it did occasionally, the telescoping pole would "break away" and we would become unattached. It was not too difficult to get the hang of though, and soon we were riding together much more easily.
One of the biggest pluses of the x2cycle involved traveling uphill. Before I even realized it, James and I had covered two miles of road, including several hills. Usually big hills and I have a hate-hate relationship: on most rides, after killing myself trying to get up one really steep, long hill, I usually end up doing a hike-a-bike up the rest of them. The approximately 10 minutes it took us to cover those first two miles would have taken me at least 45 minutes to complete on my own. I would have had to stop at least three times to gasp for air and guzzle water. Thanks to James' legs, we were able to complete the first two miles of our trip quickly and easily, without having to stop at all.
Unlike a regular tandem, where I would have had to pedal at the same tempo as James was pedaling, with the x2cycle, I could pedal as fast or as slow as I wanted, using as much or as little power as I wanted, or I could choose to not pedal at all if I was feeling particularly lazy. In fairness to James, I tried to pedal the whole time, even if I couldn't do it with as much force as it would have normally taken me to get myself up the hill. There were several really challenging hills where toward the top of them I must admit it was 100% James' sherpa-like effort pulling me to the top.
I asked James later if he could tell the difference between me pedaling hard, lightly, or not at all. He said sometimes when I pedaled hard, he could feel my bike pushing his slightly up the hill, but that usually he couldn't tell if I was pedaling or not. (note to self: he can't tell, so I can slack as much as I want!)
The downhill sections were slightly challenging at first. James and I like to go downhill at different speeds. I think of my downhill speed as fun and fast. For James, my downhill speed translates into the equivalent of grandma driver on an icy road. I was worried initially that since we were attached, I would be dragged along at breakneck speed, careening wildly down the hill until I finally lost control, skidded and fell, pulling James down with me. As we began our first descent, my stomach tightened in apprehension and visions of a spectacular wreck danced in my head. Thankfully, descending did not turn out to be too much of a problem. I was able to brake easily and control my speed that way. I did notice that my hands hurt slightly, from having to apply increased pressure to the brakes to compensate for the added force of James' bike pulling mine downhill. This was very minor though.
Probably the best part of the x2cycle tandem for me was the way that it enabled James and me to ride together, even with our very different skill levels. Since my fitness is not equal to his I cannot ride as far, as fast or for as long as he can. Usually when we have ridden 3-4 miles, I am tired and ready to call it a day, while James has barely warmed up. Since it takes me at least three times longer to ride the same distance, this usually means that he has to stop often and wait for me to catch up. On our first trip with the x2cycle, we rode around 8 miles, which is further than I have ever ridden before, in the same amount of time it would normally take me to ride 3 miles. By the end of our ride, I still felt like I could ride some more, which I would never have believed could be the case.
In addition to riding on the forest service roads, we also went for about a mile on some double track, and for a shorter distance on some not too technical single track. While these terrains were different, we were able to adjust to riding them while attached with the tandem link. I had some difficulty when we went up a steep rocky stretch of single track, but hopefully with practice I'll get better at that.
Our test ride with the x2cycle was really a wonderful experience and I can't wait to do it again!
Here is a link to James' opinion.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:56 PM
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Weekend started off very slow. I hurt my hand/wrist sometime last week. Not sure how I did that, but it seemed like I was destined to ride the couch for my 3 day weekend. All my plans for bike riding/installing new toys would have to be put on hold till next weekend.
I started icing my hand wrist and taking NSAIDs on Friday, and by Sunday I started feeling a little better. I decided to try and install some tires on my new Rohloff wheel and see how I felt afterwards. My ARCH rims are very tight, and I got some serious wrist pump trying to stretch my new rampage tires over my rims. After I finished, I took a little break and watched some TV. In about 15 minutes, my wrist actually felt better than before I started installing my tires.
With this good news, I went into full on install mode. I made good progress until I got to the shifter cables. I had hard time threading my cables through my grip shifters. Then I screwed up and cut my cable too short. Oh well I will have to wait till next weekend to try my Rohloff.
I did manage to install my x2cycle on my old bike. I wasn't very impressed when I took my x2cycle out of the packaging. My first impression was that it was not very sturdy. Amy and I went for a ride with it yesterday though, and it held up very well. We had some problems with it disconnecting unintentionally in our cul-de-sac but once we got on the trail we didn't have any problems. Granted we stuck to the fire roads mostly and only did one short section of singletrack.
Amy seemed to really like it. She said it was much easier for her not to have pedal so hard up all the hills. I didn't think it was that much harder than pedaling by myself. My legs are really sore today and we only rode for an hour and a half so it must have been a little harder than usual. :)
I really enjoyed Amy's company. It was nice riding at the same pace. Usually I ride ahead and then stop and wait for her. I get nervous when she takes longer than I would expect to catch up. I worry that she has fallen and hurt herself. With the tandem link, she is always right there and I don't worry as much.
Other than the extra physical work on my part, climbing is actually easier with the tandem. If I screw up and lose a little momentum over an obstacle, Amy's bike will give me a little shove to get me going again.
Going downhill is another story though. Amy and I descend at different speeds which makes the tandem challenging. Sometimes I pull her too fast which is uncomfortable for her. Sometimes she swings left or right and pulls my rear tire to the left or right which is uncomfortable for me. Sometimes I see a rut or rock that she can't see so I brake and she doesn't. When this happens, I get a shove from her bike. It isn't terrible though. Kind of feels like someone kicking your chair at the movies.
All in all I am pretty happy with the x2cycle. At the end of the ride Amy said she still felt great and could do another lap. I was sweating pretty good and had a hard time climbing stairs later in the day. So I think it did a good job of equalizing our fitness levels.
Hopefully I will get to try the x2cycle this weekend with my nephew. Maybe I will get a better idea of how will it works on singletrack.
Posted by James Bigler at 11:26 AM
Monday, August 27, 2007
I had a pretty eventful weekend by my standards.
Friday was code complete date for a big project I have been working on. I worked diligently all day. Just as I think I am about to finish, I find a big problem I have to fix. Of course it is 5 pm and I am little bummed I will have to work late. I look up though and notice it is pouring outside. Since I ride my bike to work, I instantly get a lot less worried about staying late. An hour later I have my problem fixed. I look up again and yay it has stopped raining.
I hop on my bike, and I hear thunder. I think about it for a second and decide I would rather get hit by lightning than stay at work any longer. I get about 5 minutes into my ride and the lightning starts. Big suckers booming on all sides. Then the rain starts. I decide I am now in the Tour de France, and I must crush Jan Ullrich in this final rain soaked time trial.
I bury myself. Cutting cars off. Sliding through turns. Bunny hopping fallen branches on my road bike. I get home and the lightning is still crashing down on all sides. I am completely positive I said a new record for my fastest commute ever. My lips were numb I was pushing so hard. :)
Saturday I wake up early. I bought a rohloff for my singlespeed, and I am eager to install it. I start reading the manual. I know this is against the man law, but I am really bad mechanic. I need all the help I can get.
I pretty quickly figure out I got the wrong hub. So I feel kinda bad. I keep reading the manual. Wow this thing is so modular. I can order a new axle plate and solve my problem. I feel much better. I look online for the part, and it is only $30 bucks. Compared to some of my previous screw ups that is a pretty cheap fix. I feel even better.
I click on the link to order the part, and I am told the part is sold out and won't get restocked for over a month. I feel bad again. I scour the internet (one of my better skills) and find out it is sold out everywhere. I start sending random emails to different people who I think might be able to help me. Luckily Neil at cyclemonkey (inventor of the really cool monkey bone) replies back and says he has a used axle plate he can ship to me for cheap. Score!
I am super happy again. I finish reading the manual and learn about all the cool things engineered into my hub. Break a shifter cable. No problem just remove the external gear box and shift into whatever gear you want with 8 mm wrench. This thing rocks.
Sunday I wake up early again. I head over to blankets and ride a couple loops (Dwelling + South) on my still single but soon to be 14 speed. I haven't ridden south loop in a while. It is much more eroded than I remember. All the new rocks are challenging and makes the trail more fun. After I finish, I pack my bike up and head over to my nephew's house. I grab a quart of chocolate milk on the way for recovery purposes.
Bubba and I head back over to Blankets Creek. We rode a bunch of loops around Mosquito Flats. We also explored a little on a couple of side trails. Rode some in the skills area too. Then we played around taking pictures.
It was great ride.
Then I hurried home. Jumped in the shower and drove ITP. Amy and I met my little sister and her husband at Alfredo's. We had a great time talking and catching up. I didn't like my lasagna too much. The tomato sauce was very bland. It tasted like Chef Boyardee's pizza sauce. Nothing was cooked together. It was almost like the ingredients were cooked separately then layered together after the fact. Mary Glenn picked up the check as a belated birthday present so I guess it wasn't bad for free. :)
This morning I woke up thirty minutes before my alarm went off. I hopped on my bike and took the long way to work. I must be in my manic phase, but it feels good for now.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:04 AM
Monday, August 20, 2007
I was supposed to go ride with a friend and his two year old at Yellow River Sunday. I had feeling he might not show so I headed out there by myself around lunch. I took my phone with me while I did some laps in case he called. Around 4 pm or so I decided he wasn't going to call and headed home.
I am glad I went though. It would have been depressing sitting around the house all day and not doing anything.
My last post on Yellow River was pretty negative. I was a little PO-ed that the trails were changed. The original trails were the first trail I had ever ridden and maybe I am a little too sentimental.
The trails are in better shape than the last time I rode. There are still a million rogue trails on the creek side. Someone has taken the time though to spray white X's or white NOT signs on all the illegal trails. In addition the legal trails are marked with a blue blaze. Using this system I was finally able to figure out where you are supposed to ride. I rode every trail in every configuration until I got it in my head how the trails are laid out.
The river side is also looking better. The 10 foot wide logging roads are getting taken over by nature. You can still see where they were bulldozed but the actual riding surface is getting reduced back to a thin ribbon. The river side has very little rogue trails and the legal trails got the same blue blaze treatment as the creek side. There are still a ton of intersections with confusing signs but the blazes make things pretty simple to figure out which way to go. After an hour or so I rode everything twice on the river side and I think I know which trails go where.
All in all it was good day. A little lonely without my friend's company but better than sitting on the couch. My legs had a nice hurt this morning when I tried to climb up my driveway on my morning commute. That put a nice smile on my face.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:33 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
We went camping at Ft Yargo this weekend. We got a walk in site at campground #2. Our campsite was on a tiny peninsula with the lake on both sides. There was plenty of trees for shade but no so many that you couldn't see the lake. The site had a tent pad, fire ring/grill, and picnic table. There was a drinking water spigot about 20 feet away. The shower/bathroom area was only about 50 yards away, and they were nice and clean.
We weren't exactly roughing it, but it was my niece's and nephews' first camping trip. We figured we would go somewhere kid friendly and fun so they could enjoy themselves. I voted for Yargo since I could ride my bike there.
Camground #2 is right on the beginner loop hiking/biking trail. I ended up riding on some of the beginner trail on my way over to the outer loop. It seemed pretty flat and smooth. I think it would be good place to ride with my nephew. My nephew came on the trip, but unfortunately he wasn't able to bring his bike. There was a limited amount of space in the car he rode in.
Friday night Amy and I went to Smoking PO Boys BBQ on W Athens St. We both got the pork plate. The pork had a good flavor, but it seemed a little dry. I liked my Brunswick stew. It had a weird vinegar flavor that was different but good. Amy liked her potato salad. I am a bad judge. We have our own family recipe that is different from anything I have ever tasted at a restaurant. If it isn't made like my family makes it, I really don't like it. Amy didn't like her baked beans. It had a weird cinnamon and garlic flavor. I kinda liked it myself.
Saturday night I grilled hamburger and hot dogs. I think I did okay. I probably could have left the burgers on a little longer and got some better grill marks. I hate over cooked meat so I was a little too careful. The hot dogs were excellent though.
Bubba had a little accident after we ate. He tripped and fell and burned his hands on the grill. I went to the CVS and got him some burn medication, but he was really hurting. I felt bad for the little guy. I hope it didn't sour him on the idea of camping forever.
Other than the accident, I had a great time. I am very lucky that my sister and brother in law invited me on their trip. It was nice spending time with my family. I really enjoyed waking up in the morning in my tent.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:57 PM
Monday, August 06, 2007
Every monday, I come in and consider posting here. I usually decide not to because I always forget to bring my camera on my rides. This weekend I once again did not bring my camera, but I am going to post anyway.
Friday I went and saw the movie Wired to Win. I really like seeing the IMAX shots of the Tour de France. I thought the science bits they tried to put in the movie were kind of cheesy. They tried to do some character development by focusing in on two main riders, but they didn't do that so well either. I am glad I went though. Just seeing the scenery was amazing.
Saturday I took my nephew for a bike ride at Blankets Creek. This was his first time riding there. He did an amazing job. He rode all of Mosquito Flats like 5-6 times.
We did have one scary moment where he flew down a hill and accidentally jumped a log. He got about a foot of air and landed it. Scared me to death. Some other riders watched him do it and couldn't believe what they saw. I don't know how he didn't crash. It was very impressive.
After riding for a while we took a break and hiked part of the Dwelling Loop. I tried to show him some of the trail to see if he would be interested in riding it some day. We finished up by doing three loops around Schultz Shute. We climbed up Shultz's and rode down the fast road at the end of Dwelling.
When we got home I found out Bubba had ridden the whole day with no rear brake. I will make sure to check that for him from now on.
Sunday I rode at Big Creek for the first time in a long time. It wasn't very fun. I have ridden there so much. I am just tired of it. I also think I don't enjoy riding by myself as much anymore. I did play around on a new skinny they built. I couldn't ride it for the life of me, but I had fun trying.
Saturday is my birthday. Not sure if I will get to go riding or not. I think Bubba is going camping with my sister so I will miss my new favorite riding partner.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Amy and I went on a fun ride yesterday at Chicopee. Amy was brave enough to attempt the Outer Loop. This was probably the longest and hardest ride she has been on. She did awesome.
This is the trailhead.
I like seeing the hills bare of any trees. If you can block out the powerlines, you can almost imagine yourself in a cool place like Lost.
Here is one of Amy cruising through a fun s-turn.
I love how the leaves on the trees look like they are floating in mid air.
Here is another one of Amy splashing through a small creek.
Here are some more of those weird purple flowers I saw from last week. Not sure what they are but I like talking pictures of them.
This place is full of bridges.
Here is one of Amy laughing at the "pain" of "Champain Hill".
Amy took this one of me.
Here is one of a waterfall.
And finally this little guy scared the crap out of me.
I threw a rock at him and he ran off the trail back into the water.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:12 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Amy and I went on ride at Central Park today. Finally I brought my camera. I was actually going to forget again, but Amy reminded me. I am glad she did.
I really enjoyed taking photographs. Normally I race through the ride. I don't take the time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Today was different. Since I had my camera, I kept my eyes open looking for something interesting to put in a picture.
I was at a trail that I wouldn't rank very high as far as scenery. However every time I turned my head I saw something that I thought would make a great photograph.
I wish I had something in my life that would give me the same perspective I got from my camera on today's ride. Something that would help me open my eyes and see all the beautiful things in my day to day routine. I know it is there. I just need an excuse to seek it out.
Here are my pictures. Hopefully there is one in there that will let you see what I saw.
Posted by James Bigler at 10:11 PM
Monday, May 07, 2007
This year's edition of the 12 hours at Ft Yargo race was this weekend. This race kicked off my brief fling with endurance racing. Reading all the reports about the race gave me that sinking feeling in my stomach like I missed out on something great. Ironically it was reading all the race reports that made we want to race in the first place. Even though I tried racing and decided I didn't like it, I still feel weird that I didn't race Yargo again. There is definitely something there that I can't put my finger on.
I love reading the race reports. I love sharing in the suffering that is racing. I love feeling fit. I love the feeling after a long training workout. I love being able to do things I have never done before.
I hate that my stomach is sick before a race. I hate that I worry and obsess about the race. I hate having to ride the same trail over and over again. I hate having to drive for hours every weekend. I hate being scared to ride on the road. I hate that people treat me like a freak for riding my bike so much.
I don't know. Maybe I could commute more often. Maybe I will take my bike up to Ellijay and find out where my limits are. Maybe I could volunteer for a race.
I will figure something out. I am in no hurry.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:15 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Amy and I rode yesterday at Tribble Mill. She did a beginner's clinic their last year and has been asking to go back for a while now. We had a good time, and I am glad we went.
The trails there are all rogue trails. Since there is not really any one defined loop, you can mix and match different trails and find your own path. Some of the trails are wide and flat lined with pine needles. Riding those trails were like relaxing on an easy country road. Some of the other trails are crazy narrow with steep runs straight up the fall line with massive roots and rocks to navigate. I found one particularly fun section that I played around on while waiting for Amy to catch up. She even asked me to hit that section one more time so she could watch.
About a year ago I some pictures on the web of a guy taking his kid's on a ride at Tribble Mill. The pictures showed them riding a loop around a lake. The scenery was gorgeous and the trail didn't look too technical. Basically it sounded like something Amy would really like. I emailed the guy that took the pictures and asked him about the trail. He emailed me this map.
Before we left yesterday, I forgot to look at this map to see how to get to the lake loop. I am glad I didn't though. I really enjoyed trying to guess how to get there. I think the route we found was pretty interesting. I wish I had brought my camera. We found this cool intersection of three trails with lush greenery and flowers. There was three small benches made out of slabs of granite. We also found this cool slickrock section that reminded me of Conyers.
After our ride we went to the Jazzy thing charity celebration put on by a company that a friend of Amy's works for. It was interesting to here her talking about how hard the ride was for her and how I didn't even break a sweat. I was thinking the same thing about how easy it was for talk to all these people and how I was feeling very awkward trying to make conversation. I guess we each have our strong points.
Posted by James Bigler at 1:54 PM
Monday, April 09, 2007
Haven't ridden much lately. I did buy a new bike to ride to work. Scored it from craigslist. Cost about the same as my handlebars on my mountain bike. So for me it was a pretty good deal.
It is a steel 57 cm frame. It has 700cc wheels with 35 mm cross tires on it. The guy I bought it from says 45s fit. It has a flip flop hub so I can run it as either a singlespeed or fixie. Right now it has a 39 x 16 gear on it. Not huge but bigger than the 30 x 20 I have been riding to work on. Now I won't have an excuse when a grandma passes me on the Greenway. :)
Not sure how I feel about the pink fork. I am too lazy to do anything about it right now, but I guess I can of spray paint is pretty cheap so I am not worrying about it too much.
Weather and life responsibilities look clear for a Thursday commute. I will report back how it went.
Posted by James Bigler at 3:43 PM
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Amy and I rode the dwelling loop at Blankets Creek yesterday. I didn't plan very well. First I meant to bring the camera but I forgot. Second we left the house a little too late. By the time we got there it was pretty hot. Like 85 degrees hot. Amy was smart enough to bring extra water. With the extra water and frequent stops, luckily we avoided any dehydration or heat stroke problems.
This was Amy's first time riding the infamous dwelling loop. The loop is a little under 4 miles. Most of the trail winds around the banks of a large lake. There are lots of short steep ups and downs. It is the most popular trail in Georgia. It is also the subject of much heated debate on the SORBA forum. People get very angry when even the slightest change is made to trail. I think most of time people are just bored at work and looking to stir up a little trouble. Most of the volunteers that maintain the trail do not enjoy the criticism however.
We had a good ride, and even made jokes about posting on the forum another controversial blanket's topic as we rode. I found this thread today on the forum of some friends who rode blankets yesterday as well. The pictures might give you an idea of what the trail looked like.
Posted by James Bigler at 2:02 PM
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Amy and I took a fun trip to Ellijay yesterday. I love the trails in Ellijay. The scenery is beautiful. Plus there are so many different options to choose from. Dirt roads to ride on during the rain. Painful sustained climbs to test your meddle like Tibbs. Fun rolling singletrack like the second Pinhoti section. Super steep and exposed switchbacks like the third Pinhoti section. Super fast rocky descents with huge berms and waterbars like Windy Gap. Crazy slick wet descents with unending creek crossings like Mountaintown. Fun fast descents with great jumps like Bear Creek. I could ride there everyday without getting bored.
Amy and I rode the Pinhoti 2 and took Shakerag road back to the trailhead. I love the Pinhoti 2 section. It is my favorite trail. It starts off with a little bit of climbing, and then you are treated to a really fast and fun descent. While I had ridden the Pinhoti 2 many times, I had never ridden on Shakerag Rd. I was expecting Shakerag Rd to be just a convenient way back to the car, but I was pleasantly suprised with how nice it was. Shakerag has a beautiful little stream that runs along the road. Mountain laurel covers the hills on both sides of the road. You can hear the sound of the stream falling through the rocks as you ride along taking in the views.
We had a really good ride. I think this is the most challenging ride Amy has ever done. She did awesome. I was wondering how I would like riding without gears and suspension. I had a great time. I really like riding this bike.
We went to the pink pig afterwards in Cherry Log. It was pretty good. Better than Col. Pooles but not as good as some other places I have been to.
Amy and I have been talking about going to Tanasi next weekend. I have never been there so it should be a really fun trip. I will bring the camera this time so I can take some pictures to post.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
This is the fourth day in a row where I haven't ridden my bike. After reading a bunch of posts about the Old Pueblo race and the Susitna 100 race I feel guilty about not riding. I don't understand this line of thinking. Riding should be a fun pastime. I don't understand why I have to make it a required chore.
I stopped training because I didn't think I really enjoyed racing. Today I was reading some posts about the upcoming Dirty Spokes race, and I felt sad that I am going to miss the race. The weird thing is that I don't really feel like I want to race. I just want to be a part of it somehow. Kinda like I want to have my cake without all the strenuous chewing. :)
Maybe I just don't want to ride solo. Maybe I would have more fun riding on a team. Or if I rode solo, just ride a couple laps for fun. If I want to take a break and hang out that is okay.
I don't know.
I think I will wait to see if any of the upcoming 12 hour races have good weather. If a couple days before the race things look good then I will just register and show up with no training or preparation. Then ride till I have had enough. When I am through riding, I can drink beer and cheer on all the hard core dudes.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:39 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday I went on super fun group ride at Ft Yargo. The ride was organized by one of the number one posters on the SORBA forum. He also happens to be a member of the BOD group. So I shouldn't have been surprised when I pulled into the parking lot and saw the huge turnout.
It was great hanging out in the parking lot. Everyone was telling jokes and laughing. I rode around and checked out all the cool bikes. I saw some really nice Ventanas, an El Mariachi, and a really nice Niner. I even got a couple compliments on the fork and cranks on my bike.
Finally someone decided we should go for a bike ride. The YABA group recently changed the trail design to switch the direction of travel daily. Luckily Saturday the trails was running in the reverse direction of the way I rode it in the Dirty Spokes race. I had never ridden it in this direction, and it was a lot of fun.
The rock garden was just as tough.
Plus the big climb was a lot more fun going down instead of up.
I had a great day with a great bunch of people. I hope I get to go on many more group rides in the future.
Sunday Amy and I rode from the house to Big Creek and did a couple laps. It was a beautiful day, and it felt great to get out of the house.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:43 PM
Monday, February 05, 2007
I had planned to go on Al's birthday ride on Saturday. Originally the ride was going to be held on one of my favorite trails Bear Creek/Pinhoti. I haven't ridden these trails since I switched to my Fred Flinstone bike so I was excited to try them out with a bunch of people to laugh at me. After the "wintry mix" we received on Thursday the ride was switched from fun singletrack to the forest service roads of Winding Stair so my excitement level declined dramatically.
I woke up early on Saturday morning all snug in my warm bed and quickly decided I would have more fun rolling over and going back to sleep instead of getting up and driving to Dahlonega and riding my bike on the forest service roads in the cold.
At the crack of 2:30 pm I finally got enough motivation to get out bed and ended up doing a fun ride with Amy through our neighborhood. I showed her my secret trail that links the Alpharetta Greenway to the Big Creek Greenway. I also showed her the strange road they added that connects Cranberry Trail to Cranberry Creek.
I discovered this new road one night when I was looking for a piece of flat road to do sprint intervals. It connects two roads that were already connected by a different road so I couldn't figure out why anyone would go to the trouble of building this new road. My best guess is that they plan to eventually build some new houses there. I saw some cast iron pipes sticking up out of the ground at approximate house width intervals. Plus we saw one of those mobile office trailers parked there so it is probably not a bad guess.
After checking out my new road, we headed down to the Big Creek Greenway and did a quick lap. On the Greenway, we ran into some dirt jumpers. One of them had a cool looking wolf dog.
The dog was pulling him like a sled back to his car. I would love to have one of these dogs if I could live some place where it was cold enough for them to be happy.
After the Greenway, we looped back to the house. It was a cold ride, but it was nice to get out for a little while. Amy made me a big mug of cocoa and I crawled back under my blanket and spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was nice.
Posted by James Bigler at 1:08 PM
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Amy and I rode at Yellow River yesterday.
The last time we rode there the "improvements" to the creek side were still going on so we just rode the river side. I put the words "improvements" in quotes because many people feel that the word "improvements" is not the right noun to use to describe what Gwinnett County did to Yellow River.
Gwinnett County came in with their bulldozers and turned the fun scenic twisty singletrack of the river side into a confusing network of intersecting golf cart paths. Where you used to feel like you could get away in an almost back country like experience, you now feel like you are in Disney world or something. There are trail intersections with confusing signs every 50 feet. Trails overlap so you can see other people at all times. The land looks raped like a new housing development instead of an old worn beaten down path that barely disturbed the natural feel of the forest.
Since the creek side destruction is now completed we decided to ride over there and check out the damage. It was more of the same. Trail intersections everywhere. There is no longer a clear path. Bikes intersecting with horses every 2 minutes. Signs with arrows pointing in the wrong direction. Spur trails everywhere. The official trail removed all the fun and challenge of the old trail. With all the intersections and signs the relaxing ride in the woods has been spoiled.
Yellow River was the first trail I ever rode. My friend Mike took me there more than 10 years ago. Maybe I am too sentimental about the old trail to give an unbiased opinion of the new trail. After all change is good, I should be more appreciative of the money spent and hard work that went into revamping Yellow River. I have ridden my local trail so many times that I am bored with it. Maybe the Yellow River locals are glad to have something new to ride.
Amy and I still had a good time despite my personal feelings about the new trail. Plus our dinner afterwards at Taqueria was delicious.
Posted by James Bigler at 11:09 AM
Monday, January 22, 2007
Only got to ride my bike to work twice last week, but I enjoyed those two days. The water level at Big Creek finally went down enough that the Alpharetta Greenway was open, and I could take the multi-use path to work. It was much nicer and quieter than riding on the sidewalk. Too bad the path doesn't lead right up to my door.
Saturday Amy and I went on an anniversary adventure at Central Park in Cumming. It has been a while since we have been there and the trail is still doing pretty good. A couple places the tractors have run over the trail but otherwise it is holding up really well. It is nice to see something you helped build stand up to the winter weather.
Amy rode really strong Saturday. I think taking her to trails other than Big Creek has really helped her. After her first time ever doing the full lap, she still had enough zip to go out for more so we did an extra half lap. After our bonus half lap, I blocked my need to train feelings and packed it in. Besides it was almost 3 o'clock and I hadn't eaten any lunch or snacks. We solved that problem by stopping off at LutherD's BBQ on the way home.
I saw a post about LutherD's on the SORBA forum awhile ago and have been meaning to try it out. We tried to find it one time before thinking it was either on McFarland or on 141 but it turns out it is on Atlanta Hwy. I checked the map before we left and discovered I had ridden by it on my road bike at least 100 times.
LutherD's is on the Webb bridge road ride route than I do on Sunday's sometimes. It is on that short stretch of Atlanta Hwy before you get to Campground Rd. I guess I hadn't noticed it before because it is the Chevron gas station. There is a sign in front of the gas station, but I guess I never paid attention. I do remember smelling the BBQ several times on my way back to the house. It always smelled really good after drinking Hammer mix for 4 hours.
We made it to the LutherD's this time no problem. Amy loved the BBQ. It was the vinegar based BBQ that is her favorite. I thought my pork was pretty good. I didn't like the ribs too much. I think they might have been beef ribs or something. They weren't log and skinny like the pork ribs I am used to. The they were these short fat curled bones with very little meat. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't my thing.
It was a great day. Sunday was bad either. Amy asked me to move my trainer into the living room so she could do some Spinervals videos. So I took apart my road bike, cleaned it, and put it back together. Then moved my bike and trainer into the living room. I didn't feel like changing pedals so I ordered her some shoes and cleats so she can use my Time pedals.
I even tested out the trainer for a little over an hour while I watched the Bears whip the Saints. I took it easy the rest of the day watching more football and eating Amy's delicious blue cheese chicken dinner. Mmmm chicken leftovers. I can't wait till 5 pm so I get on my bike and go home and get some more chicken dinner.
Posted by James Bigler at 12:09 PM
Saturday, January 13, 2007
I woke up at 5am last Saturday to do the Snake Creek Gap race. I turned off my alarm and laid back down in bed. I had been dreading doing the race all week. I decided right then to blow off the race. I didn't go back to sleep. I spent the rest of the week deciding if I want to ever do a race again.
The way I was going about this hobby has been making me miserable. I don't want to think I have to do blah blah blah today. I want to think man I can't wait to go ride my bike today. Hobbies should be fun right?
I haven't made any decisions. I didn't do any training this week though.
I did ride my bike to work all week. That felt great. The day went by much faster and I still have much more energy when I get home from work. I am going to ride my bike to work from now on whenever I feel like it.
I am through with watching what I eat. Life is too short.
I am also thinking about selling my geared full suspension bikes. I go on these really long rides to try and make riding more challenging. Why not go on a shorter ride with a rigid singlespeed? Just as hard but saves you time. My Fred Flintstone bike is also much easier to maintain. Not a lot crap to break.
I also stopped reading so many biking blogs and forums. I think they make me want to buy more crap or make me feel like the races I am doing are too easy.
Other than that I don't know what I am going to do. Maybe a 6 or 12 hour race on my Flintstone bike? Who knows?
Posted by James Bigler at 5:31 PM