Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Musette

(I’ve been relentlessly serious lately. Mea culpa. Honestly, there’s a funny piece coming along soon. They’re more fun to write than the straightforward stuff, but I have to wait for the odd thunderbolt of inspiration to arrive. The really good ones seem to write themselves, but it’s not something I can turn on and off at will. If I could do that, my life would be greatly different!…Ed)

Skills Clinic

Yesterday’s Freewheel skills clinic was sparsely attended. We had 4 instructors and 6 students. Partly this was due to the wind conditions, no doubt, but it was also partly due to the common belief that adult cyclists really don’t need any bicycling education. One of my LCI instructors, Preston Tyree, put it this way, “Balancin’ ain’t bikin!”

The wind was bad, out of the south at 25-30 mph with higher gusts. I rode into it at no more than 10 mph, grinding along in a smaller gear that I could spin steadily. Still, it was exhausting, almost like riding up an invisible hill that got steeper without warning. When I stood in the parking lot doing the skills clinic, the wind did a good job as a sand blaster, blowing sand into my legs hard enough to sting.

The ‘students’ did well, with the usual discomfort over learning to counter steer for the quick turn. Frankly, I still have a death grip on the handlebar when doing that too. But everyone came through OK, and some were surprised to discover just how quickly a bicycle can turn. It’s a good avoidance technique.

One of the women rode an older Mondial, probably from the 1970s. It was Reynolds 531 throughout with all Campy components. The frame had lovely chromed dropouts, a chrome fork crown, and chromed chain stays. Back in the day, I lusted after similar bikes. She said a friend had it in his garage and said she could have it if she’d ride it. I need friends like that!

With that wind at my back, the ride home was fast and fun! I cruised along at 20 mph barely making an effort to keep the pedals turning over.

Flying Spaghetti Monster in the news

USAToday has a story about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, His Noodly Appendage, pirates, and some pasta puns. Expect irate letters to the editor from the humor-challenged. Arr! Arr!

Will its revelations — that pirates control global warming, that there's a beer volcano in heaven, and that superstition trumps science every time — overwhelm religious belief for all mankind?

Probably not.

Worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — "Pastafarianism" as it is known to its adherents — began as a whimsical side dish in last year's standoff between advocates of evolution and intelligent design. FSM, as it is known to its followers, took shape in a protest letter to Kansas officials who were embroiled in a controversy about how to teach students about the origins of life. The parody religion leapt from those pages to become an Internet phenomenon, finding fans among supporters of the theory of evolution —— and receiving e-mailed threats of bodily harm from evolution's opponents.

Fixed Gears

I was tempted for only a moment. I thought about riding one of the fixies to the Freewheel skills clinic yesterday. The thought evaporated quickly in the wind. Nathan asked in a comment, “What gearing do you run? I ran 43x16x700x35C = 58.4" with my studded tires this winter and I'm curious what a OK guy considers "low".”

My winter beater, a Centurion LeMans 12 that came from a yard sale, has a 42x20 with 28mm tires. That works out to about a 56 inch gear. I cobbled it together from whatever parts I could find in the garage, and decided to keep the gearing. It’s good for the headwinds here in Oklahoma, and since I almost always carry baggage, it helps with the load too. (More about baggage in a moment.) Yes, it’s geared quite low, but remember, my knees are 54 years old and since I have a sentimental attachment to them, I’m trying to be nice to them as they age.

My quasi-TT bike is my old racing bike, a Pennine Re della Corsa set up with a 47x18 just now. But I can change it to a 49 or a 52 as well. The Racin’ on the River TT is coming up on the 8th, so I’ll most likely ride that bike. But I’ll wait to decide the gearing until the night before when I can get a good estimate of the wind.

As to baggage – I carry a messenger bag, pannier, or Camelback Hawg depending on the load I expect and the weather. In summer, the Camelback is big enough for my lunch and some work clothes. The pannier is intermediate in size. I use it when I need more clothes in the morning cold and can expect to ride without them in the afternoon. The messenger bag is almost a garage with a carrying strap. I can put more stuff in there than I should. Somehow, that thing always has an invisible cinder block inside. I know from experience that it will hold 2 full grocery sacks, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of French bread on top.

Did I mention that I’m the family pack animal?


Blogger hereNT said...

What kind of bag do you have? I've got a Chrome Kremlin, and it doesn't fit quite that much stuff. I was really surprised last night when it wouldn't fit a box from work, and started thinking I might need something bigger.

It does fit a 24 of cans and a 1.75 of whiskey along with a change of clothes and all my tools, so I guess that's all that matters, right?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

56" - that is low!

For my new bike I'm thinking about going with just about the same gearing as you have on your other bike - 47x19 (or maybe 18) with 32mm tires. I want to keep my knees in good shape, too, and I very rarely spin out with my 43x16 so a little lower seems to make sense.

Booze, clothes, tools - what else do you need? Well, maybe some oatmeal cookies. Yeah, better get that bigger bag. ;)

9:40 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

hereNT asked what kind of bag I have. Honestly, it's a Jansport so old I don't know the model name. It measures about 24x14x8. Plenty big enough to fill with more stuff than I should safely carry! IN fact, I sometimes have a diagonal bruise extending from my shoulder across my chest. I'm strong, not smart.

8:21 PM  

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