Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Adventures of SeaFoam

I've named it SeaFoam. I don't consider it a "him" or "her", b/c then I would be riding "him", which is not my thing. And if I were riding "her", that would seem a bit inappropriate, so I'll just go with SeaFoam.

Dave and I met up for not terribly early coffee and a plan to do the 50-mile or so Riverwalk/Levee full loop. Patrick had hatched plans to ride to in his in-laws in Danville 90m away and did his best to incorporate me for part of the trip to Taylorsville before I would turn home. Problem is, as of last night I just didn't feel it. He knows a bit more but I'll just keep it at "not feeling it". Our coffee ride would include a shorter route and far fewer hills to contend with, and it could get me back to civilization for L's soccer and the remainder of Saturday. To get ready I awoke pretty early and hit the garage: mounted IQ CYO (easy, no rack to contend with), mounted RBW Banana bag, mounted flashie on bag loop, mounted top tube "bento" bag for sundries, taped cable housing and wrapped bars. It wasn't/isn't my best job ever, but it does the trick.

The short ride up to Breadworks suggested that SeaFoam- a little big but well within the RBW philosophy- fit nicely. The mileage later in the day would sort things out there. We left to become enveloped in a very foggy landscape, something quite unusual for this part of the world. Having dynos and flashies made traveling all a bit easy and assuring that we were making out best effort. Our route took us via Audobon Park, Floyd St along UofL and then a dismounted cut-through off Hiawatha over the train tracks. That has been the standard 'Out' route that I use to travel to places southern. Dave knew of it before I, but they're closing Hiawatha and building a large wall, thereby blocking off future access. Bummer.

Shortly thereafter I suggested a stop at the Woodlawn Sunergos, and shortly thereafter suggested we bail on the full 50 because I wasn't feeling it. SeaFoam was good, the weather nippy-but-good, the company good, but I'm a little physically low so "cut short" was the plan. The day was helped by what I believe was one of the best cafe au'laits on record. Merci Sunergos! After our second coffee stop we meandered towards Iroquois where we ran across the remnants of the Saturday morning LBC ride. A bit up the hill we encountered a gentleman struggling with a tire change. I have a sneaking suspicion he really didn't know what he was doing, but, of course, the club had left him. Shock. Funnily, while waiting there (Dave is the one who helped), I heard a "Hi, Son!", and there on the Iroquois Hill was my mom on a jog with a friend. She's training for the Mini-marathon, so it was good to see her out there.

We goofed around the top of the hill as the fog burned off and then descended where Dave took a bit of a flyer. As we headed north on Southern Parkway he remarked that his tempo was *easy*, but I wish I could've said the same. I refuse to blame SeaFoam and just say that I was tired and weak, but I was certainly enjoying the bike and the finally warm weather, enough that we headed west at Algonquin for more "dumb", "empty" miles. At Shawnee Park I/we sat on the concrete bench at the water fountain and I just relaxed and soaked things in; I could've taken a nap. Maybe I should have. From there we worked out way back east on Chesnut instead of through Portland b/c I was ready to be home. I had just enough time for one more stop before heading home for soccer so we stopped at Quills for a third cup. I rested a second and then decided to meet the fam at the soccer complex, thereby freeing up time for a snack and a cup (decaf, all decaf at this point).

That damn floppy top-tube bar will never be on this bike again!

I had to turn east for Mockingbird Valley and stopped by OYLC for a short spell where I talked to the boys and to a gentleman I had met months ago who toured SE Asia with his girlfriend on his IF Independent. Good stories there. From there I arrived at the soccer establishment feeling it in my legs and glad to get a ride only only to find that the wife hadn't driven the bike-rack car but rather her own, which made perfect sense. Subsequently I tagged on another 8 miles or so taking it easy on the way home to total just short of 45 on the day, a tiring day, but a good one on a good mount. Now I'm keen on some fancy lighter tires for SeaFoam. The Marathons are great for commuting and touring; the Compass 1.75"s would be very juicy on such a sporty touring bike.

More to come on the Adventures of SeaFoam.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

So, something arrived.

Much of the nerdy end of the blogosphere has migrated for daily minutia over to google+, for good or ill. I suspect none of us need to read brain farts in paragraph form, so in that sense it's a positive step. The unfortunate part, though, is that I think there is a bit less content to read out there. I posted a few pics onto G+ earlier this week about a box that arrived on my doorstep, so I though I would throw them on here, mostly to impress Chris. Maybe the post will be exciting enough for Doug to make an appearance, because his bike opinions (amid others) are valued, but his blog is invite-only now.

So, as some may know, I sold my trusted LHT frame last summer to a fine gentleman from Lexington, who from appearances is using the bejeebies out of it. As expected. It was/is a great bike and I regret selling it. As to date, I've sold the following bikes (in no order): Rans Rocket, C'dale mtbike, Bleriot frame, LHT frame, C'dale commuter (nice bike, that one), Bianchi steel road bike I found on the street. There might be something else in there. Life is vexing.

I used the funds from the LHT and purchased a Surly Troll frame/fork to augment my mixed-terrain, off-road touring options. I wanted "new", "shiny", "bling". I've put my thoughts of the Troll down in print several times, so they are there for all to see. It's an interesting bike, but in the end, I have decided to move on. I tried to sell it once to limited consequence. I received many a nibble, but the hook thusly dangled. Recently I have been very stressed with my tennis coaching. I have found it unrewarding, stressful and unsatisfying. It provides a reasonable income to fun family projects like soccer, tires, tune-ups, sax lessons, etc. It serves a purpose, but I just wanted out. After some soul searching I decided to move in a different direction. I took some my the proceeds I earned with those many hours and bought myself a new project, one I hope works to adequate ends. A seller- Frank- on the RBW group had a 56cm Atlantis for sale. My size. My exact size. And furthermore, it was a 26" model, which is my preference in a touring bike. I like the stronger wheel. I like the proportionality of the smaller wheel with the smaller frame; I'm not a basketball player, mind you. As we know, too, the Atlantis has symbolized the RBW philosophy for these many years with few changes. None have been needed. This Atlantis frame/fork/HS arrived from Frank in excellent condition, which reflects the seller. He could not have been a nicer person to work with. My future negotiations will mirror his approach.

The general build list- not RBW spec- will follow the pics. Once engaged and rideable, I will post a series of pics to better capture such a great bike, a potential great bike. If the future Atlantis can ride as stoutly as the LHT but with a bit less piggishness, then I will have found a remarkable mount, one I hope carries me along the West Coast and across America at some point. However it may be, tennis practice seems a bit brighter of late. More to come.

Nitto B-135 Rando bars (from LHT)
DiaCompe brake levers
Shimano bar-ends
Nitto Technomic stem
HS- ?? came with bike (well cared for)
Shimano 105 front mech (leftover from Bleriot)
Shimano Deore LX rear mech (from Troll)
VO setback SP and Brooks (from LHT)
Sugino triple (from Bleriot)
RBW Grip King pedals (from Bleriot)
BB- to be purchased
SON/Aeroheat front wheel + IQ CYO light
Shimano LX/?? rear wheel- New wheel to be built
VO cages (will be changed out for King cages. The cost-efficient gold standard)
Tubus Logo while touring
OMM Lowrider while touring- Am looking into Canti mounts, as this is an early gen Atlantis w/out mid-fork mounts

**Much of this comes from the remains of the Bleriot, which was to be used on a new 650b frame. Instead I ended up with an entire cSogn. The other comes from the Troll, which will be parted and sold unless an agreement can be reached for more parts.

I can't deny. The image of the summer cycling season in Keen sandals, laden for some days of wandering evoke a state of mind difficult to attain in the cold miserable wet of mid-March. It's been a tough Spring. This ray of sea foam sunshine does quicken the pulse a bit.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dave & the "Ice Needles".

Well, we picked a doozy of a day to reenter the world of cycling, did Dave and I this past Sunday. Due to tennis for me and life for him, neither of us had been on our bikes anytime recently, and so when the non-tennis, non-soccer window of opportunity opened on Sunday morning, we obliged. We awoke to temps in the upper-30s and precipitation falling in the form of a light rain, which didn't cause much concern. That combo of temps and moisture are annoying and most of the time call for a "Nope", but one must when one must. I met Dave at Sunergos and Timothy joined sans bicycle for some socialization. After our cups and pleasantries, so hit the ground running for an easy day out the westward loop via Shawnee and remnants of the Riverwalk. Neither of us is fit and neither of us was riding as fast bike, so Sunday coffee stroll escapsulates things. Somewhere in the Shawnee area along the river my hands took a turn for the colder and I spent the next xx minutes griping and moaning about frozen fingers. I rarely wear the model of C'dale gloves I had on because every time I wear them they provide to be useless. Yet again, though, I thought, "These can't be that bad."  Yet again, they were that bad.

Somewhere during the transition on the far western end our precipitation took a turn to the more frozen side. I can't remember when rain because sleet/snow, Dave's "ice needles", but our easy coffee stroll had turned from wet to EPIC! By the time we reached downtown my hands had warmed up some but my feet had their moment in the sun, er, cold and began to bother me. The "waterproof" Keens I had on were, in fact, quite waterlogged, and the woolies had lost their luster. My top half was dry-ish due to a new find, reviewed below. After meandering up the Beargrass Trail (no birds today), we cut through the park and dragged ourselves towards the Loop, walking the last block to help warm out feet up. We decided to end our ride with an omelette and some more coffee at the TwignLeaf diner, where I shivered for 15 minutes even with warm food and drink. Eventually we threw ourselves back into the elements, where I was glad to have one mile left versus Dave's three. Quite a day, one made better with a bike ride in "ice needles".

Gear Review:

Since the tenor of the ride was weather, I have to briefly discuss a new bit of gear I tried out on this most wet morning. Friday and Saturday we had a tennis tournament and the coach gift was a somewhat audaciously ugly jacket, a froggtogg waterproof jacket, which I believe I found to be the AllSportsLogo model. One issue at hand is that mine is a XXL and could fit a large NFL offensive lineman; it might be too large for those lithe sinewy defensive ends. It's BIG, but it is also stiff enough that it doesn't flap in the breeze much. The longshort of froggtoggs is that they are essentially made of some form of Tyvek, the house wrap. The company's marketing motto is that their material is much more breathable and more water repellent than  other products available, and seem to exist in the golfing and hunting markets mostly. I have to say from my 2 hours in light rain, hard rain, sleet, snow and "ice needles" that this piece of gear is a good find. I eventually got a bit cold having worn only one layer of wool under my "personal tent". Future usage will call for more layers as the jacket lacks any warmth, but it kept me dry and my wool didn't get particularly wet from sweat. It's a really strange piece of gear, though, but dryness for $35 might be worth a look. Reviews suggest that seams tear pretty easily. Duck tape is a beautiful thing. I wouldn't use it as a Standard layer, but for those days when "Covered at all cost" is needed, this might be a good option.  And mine can double as a bivvy this summer due to its plenitude.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I like the natural world. In college I went on a streak of trying to learn trees from an Audubon Field Guide, the nice hefty brown one. From there I took to star gazing, again with their Field Guide, this one a blue. In the ensuing years I've forgotten much of that earlier study to my dismay. I still like stars, but one has to be up in the dark to do that, and I prefer a nice 10pm bedtime to keep my humors in order. Of late I've taken to bird watching, somewhat passively at first but of late a bit more. Like trees and stars, there are LOTS of bird in our everyday lives and it's a pretty free enterprise to take a glance. I garden a bit, so our yard is regularly visited by the local KY feathered crowd: robins, cardinals, finches, bluejays, mockingbirds, the summer hummingbird, an occasional hawk. I've posted before about 'Ol Blue, the Great Blue Heron who is a regular resident along the Beargrass Creek Trail. He's now kept company by a Kingfisher that I've seen there several times. Bicycling and Birding are not completely synchronous activities, though. You can zoom by and catch a glimpse of something interesting, but to stop and look and take out some binoculars is not alltogether natural unless you're traveling for that purpose.

As to that, yesterday I took the QB out for a casual evening stroll and decided to make it a bit of a birding trip. March has been a miserable work month and weather one to boot. Right now it's 25F. The average is 37F and the avg is high is 56F. For me it's just too damn cold. No me gusta. And tennis has started. That is another dirge, but suffice to say it's not been a good month, so an hour and change of two wheels and relaxation were in order. My path was nothing new: parks, Beargrass Trail, Butchertown Greenway, the river. Bird-wise I didn't see too terribly much except for robins, which are as plentiful as rats around here. Once at the river at the cyclocross park I dismounted at the bridge and though I saw a few interesting things further towards the river so I walked down there and stood a bit in the 32F wind. Damn cold, but better than being on the tennis court in that temp. My sightings:

  • Great Heron right next to the river
  • Two pissed-off Kingfishers, one who flew off and another who did laps of the creek area making a lot of racket.
  • Mallard ducks and more mallard ducks, two pair of which I also saw along the Beargrass Trail.
  • Hawk- probable but a bit too far away
  • Turkey Vulture
  • little brown bird, probably a sparrow. I'm pretty good at great big birds like herons, but the little beige ones take practice.
  • Robins, more robins, lots of robins
  • Cardinals- male and female in a thicket
  • Two more Herons- I moved down river a bit towards downtown and saw them along the crew canal. One could have been a repeat.
  • A gaggle of Geese, which looked like domestic geese to me.
Not bad for a one-stop wildlife view. Later I bent my way to OYLC to shoot the breeze and Drew offered me a refreshing beverage, which I enjoyed thoroughly. It was the most relaxing hour and change I have experienced in weeks, since we returned from Florida I guess. (I saw lots of birds there, too)

QB along Beargrass Creek @ Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park

If you enlarge you can see slightly better the two Great Herons that have taken flight here. I meant to look up those geese too. They look domesticated.

Ooo, me, Mr. Hardman on cold bike ride. Then I saw this colorful women's crew team practicing along the river. Shit. Mucho mas cold.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


I forgot to impress everyone with the fact that on Monday I commuted 6m home from tennis practice on the QB amid a complicated story of soccer, tennis, more soccer, and headgear. Oh darn! Opportunity missed. And I'm about to commute now, but not on the QB. On the Troll. And it's cold and I'm whiny. And I'm "typing" as opposed to "writing".

The QB is/was a nice commute rig though.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Ferdinand Foolishness

The plan was hatched weeks ago. I would return from a family Florida trip and undertake a gravelling the Sunday before tennis season started. To further sweeten the punishment pot, Patrick suggested a Sat.night camping to augment the gravelling. People were informally invited. Of those, Timothy was the only taker. He arrived before us, but it took a while because Ferdinand State Forest was REALLY DARK. First we happened upon a gathering. Then the man with the brown outfit asked if "we were invited" to this here shindig. "No", we replied, wherein we hightailed to the pay spot and then escaped the bruhaha. Seems some tennie-boppers were going to have a party.

We finally found Timothy atop the hill and we set about camp, with Patrick trying to start a fire and Timothy and I fetching more wood. All to naught, though. The wood was damp and we never had that good blazing campfire we need in the freezing temps. Did I mention that it snowed on Patrick and me on the way in?

We ate (thanks to Patrick's chilimac) and bedded shortly thereafter. It was cold. And the cold continued well through the night. My BigAgnes pad has a small hole somewhere- one which I couldn't find in the bathtub yesterday- so I had short use of it and mostly slept on the Thermarest on the ground. I was cold. And slept like crap.

This morning we made some quick coffee and learned that Timothy's "not great stomach" had ended in some vomiting and an even colder sleep for him. He packed up and went home and Patrick and I embarked on a 55-miler in temps somewhere in the mid-20s with an attractive breeze livening things up a bit more.

Camp, with snow that fell during the night. It was cold.

Admittedly nice sunrise over the forest.

They were waiting for our demise. The raccoons eventually gave up the previous night.

Morning coffee, a necessity.

We realized pretty early on that our original 55-mile route wasn't going to happen. I had planned some short-cuts, and we would utilize one of them to soften the blow of the cold temps and questionable form. We found, though, gravel conditions all over the place: frozen, snowy, chunky, muddy, hard-pan mud layer, smoothness, not-road gravel.... We also got pretty warm early on, which was later explained with a saucy headwind on our turn home. And so it goes.

First gravel on E850S

This is the intersection  at October and Cloverdale where we decided that today should be shorter and more pleasant than longer and abusive.

We missed a turn along W Oak Hill and then doubled back to find a deteriorating road along the power lines, one that then plummeted down a creek run. At the bottom we found two barriers. While the left looked a bit more pleasant, and the right more challenging with an immediate creek crossing, the planned short-cut said "Right" so away we went. Conditions then deteriorated some more, with wash outs, a set of horse hooves and plenty of chunkiness to challenge the efficacy of the 35c's on the Sogn. At the top of a rutted climb where we stopped for a snack we then saw one, two, three hikers in full gear out for the afternoon. They informed us that our "road"  was the Birdseye Trail, which is open to hikers, bicycles and horses. The road/trail deteriorated some more along a pleasant-but-challenging descent, where Pat extended a good lead with his fatter rubber. At the bottom we were met with an interesting portage, one we eventually succeeded in crossing without taking a dip in the cold stream.


GPS short-cut track said Right

Spot where we met the hikers. 

Crossing. We went to the left of this pic and managed with little problem.

After this adventure we met a longish section of the chunkiest gravel of the day. No bueno. Shortly thereafter we arrived in Birdseye for a quick water/food stop and then a final turn towards the car. By this point, one of us was suffering mightily, having just come off a week-long virus. The other was nicely fresh. Ultimately, the shorter day satisfied all parties. Why be miserable?

Fargo and Sogn. Not the same size.

One-room schoolhouse. Cool.

I wouldn't say we finished strongly, but we finished sans injury, sans damage, and had a great Sunday of gravelling, fun enough to return to this excellent area.

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: