Internal Detours
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
  some weeknight club rides

Interesting Tuesday evening. I showed up for the ride and wound up talking with Connie, who was about to set out early. Her stance was, the hammer crowd would catch and pass her soon enough anyway, so she told me her route. I told her I'd be catching up soon enough, as I suspected I'd get spat off the back of the pack the same way I'd been last Tuesday.

Connie headed out, leaving the parking lot just as John Campbell Lake drove up. He rolled down his window and said, "Will you wait for me?"

"Sure," I said. I talked for a minute with Strawhorne and Josh, then rolled over to where Campbell was unloading and setting up. Moments later, we set out. As we passed the fast group, Campbell announced, "Okay guys, the clock's ticking and the rabbit's loose."

By the time we hit Center Street, Jim Cox and a couple of other riders were on our tail - but they turned right to ride through Center Court, while we turned left to go out Pine Drive and work our way towards Hodges.

We took the right turn for the short cut to Dixie Drive. I amused Campbell by being able to reach back and close my opened Banana bag while riding - you try threading a leather strap and buckle behind you without running off the road sometime - and soon thereafter the hammers caught us. We all said hi, and off they went. John settled into a brisker pace, I tucked in behind him, and we set off to catch Connie. We caught up to her on Blue Jay Road - but only after she looked back at a dog that had almost chased her and saw us closing in. So much for a surprise swoop for the county line sign. We rode along as a group, chit-chatting, and decided to go straight down Old Abbeville-Hodges instead of going left on Klugh.

We took a right on McIlwain, and moments later saw a rider coming towards us - Austin, one of our local triathletes. He'd been out for an earlier ride, then went out with the hammers, and was having a rough day in the heat. Apparently he'd fallen over into the grass of the shoulder shortly before we caught up with him. We settled in and rode back on 203 together. Just before we got to the cutoff for 185, Campbell tried to hand off a bottle to Austin. It fell into the road, and I had no time to avoid it. I yelped, Belle's front tire went right over it, the top popped off and water sprayed wildly. No harm done, though - we collected everything and rode on to Hodges, where we refilled bottles at Godfrey's before heading back to Greenwood. I had 28.8 miles at the end of the ride.

Tonight's ride was calmer - we met at the fountain, and after hanging together until we reached Scotch Cross Road, the hammers went on and Connie and Vonona and I settled into a comfortable pace. Connie was suffering from yesterday's ride coupled with a headache, but Vonona was riding stronger than she had in months. It all worked out reasonably well, and we chatted and went down the road. I came home with 25.57 miles for the day. Be interesting to see what tomorrow brings ...
Sunday, June 25, 2006
  more miles, no pictures
Thursday I went out to ride the good old Callaham Challenge. I was running ahead of my normal schedule, and wound up arriving around 5:30. Scott Frock showed up, shorn of his Confederate cavalry commander beard, and at his suggestion we set off on a short warm-up ride. We turned back around after a couple of miles, he cut down Folly Farm Road for a natural, and I pulled back into the parking lot just in time to turn right around and go back out with Fred, Campbell, Tommy Davis and Duann Kremer.

We never really hammered, per se - but it wasn't completely an ambling pace, either. It was brutally hot, and we all sought that elusive balance point of riding briskly, but within limits. I was grateful for the Elete electrolyte stuff I'd dosed my bottles with. We were all drinking steadily, enough so that we all needed to stop to refill our bottles at Godfrey's Market when we hit Hodges. When I pulled up next to my truck at the end of the ride I had 39.8 miles for the day, a bit more than normal thanks to the prologue I rode with Scott.

Saturday's club ride was a smaller, laid back bunch. It was still hot, but not quite as savage as Thursday had been. We did a blend of the usual Saturday morning ride with the Wednesday night ride, avoiding the trail and going out Creswell to New Market to Old Ninety Six Highway. From there we rode Pembroke to Scotch Cross before going left on Tedard's Store Road, crossing 25 South, and taking Bryan Dorn Road (delightfully resurfaced with fresh asphalt) to Callison Highway. For fun we cut back down Scotch Cross and rode to the bottom of the hill and took Lebanon Church Road up the hill to go back in the way we came out, choosing this time to follow the rail trail back in. I had 29.75 miles by the time I got back home.

There were no photos - I was too busy riding, talking and drinking from my bottles. I did amuse myself by loading the batteries into the camera while riding, testing my cycling dexterity.

I came home and spent the afternoon working with Ana as we pared down the book collection, freeing up a huge amount of space in the various bookcases. It was surprisingly liberating - and now I have room if I get some new books!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
  some weekday club rides
Sunday was a very full day, and riding wasn't part of it. So Tuesday I set out to make up for it on the evening club ride. I'd spent a couple of hours helping clean out the garage, and it was a hot day, so I'll use those as my excuses. The group split rapidly into two groups - but the laid-back bunch peeled off into a different direction, and I fell off the back of the main group. I settled in and decided that I'd treat it as a solo ride, which it pretty much was. I took a detour through Hunter's Creek and came back to the starting point via the back route, winding up with 22.5 miles for the day.

Today's ride was better. There was a good sized batch of riders out for the Wednesday night social ride. Zach was there with a buddy of his named Chad, as were Milo and Jeff. We actually managed to stay together until the big hill on Scotch Cross Road. I hung back and rode with Connie, Donis and Vonona, and we made a respectable enough time for the rest of the ride. It was brutally hot, after all.

The usual roadside beasts were watching us from their pastures as usual, including a couple of burros on West Scotch Cross and the llamas on Mt. Moriah, but no dogs made serious attempts to catch us. Too hot.

I wound up with 27.25 miles for the day and went home to eat a massive bowl of whole wheat penne, fresh veggies and really good tuna. Not a bad day at all.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
  bee-buzzin' '06

We had friends coming in from out of town Saturday for the Festival of Flowers, so I decided to do the short course rather than the full metric century for the Bee Buzzin' tour. I rode down to the Chamber of Commerce building on Phoenix Street around 7:30, signed up, and almost immediately got drafted to fix a flat.

I hung out for a while, saying hello to folks I hadn't seen in a while and chatting briefly with Ainsley and his cousin Matt before saying hi Milo, Zac, and the rest of the fast crowd. Zac had recently returned from racing in Europe, and all the fast guys in the state were out to see how good he is.

I had helped run this ride for a couple of years. Bee Buzzin' was meant to be a tour. Over the years, though, rivalries between clubs have lead to its becoming a de facto road race. There was a lot of anticipation this year.

"This is probably going to be the fastest Bee Buzzin' yet," Ainsley said. "I've just got a feeling about it."

Well, fast it might have been for some, but not so much for me. We started at 8:00. There was a bit of a traffic control problem at the start of the ride, and I found myself behind a bunch of riders who stopped for the first redlight. Sigh. I watched the lead pack go up the road and waited through the first two lights before pulling around the bunch I was with. I shifted up and went, but there was no catching them. Dang.

I rode for a while with Denise and Ann, then watched them go up the road on the metric course. I stopped and talked for a minute with Donis, Connie and Vonona, who were planning on riding part of the metric route and then working their way back via a different route. I considered it, then decided I needed to stick to the shorter course and get home in time to shower and change before our visitors arrived.

I hadn't left the big chainring yet, and blew in to Ninety Six relatively quickly. I stopped at the rest stop and had some water before setting off for home. It was pretty much the Wednesday night ride for a while, especially the climb up Scotch Cross Road. I rolled through the intersection with 25 South and took the 225 Bypass back to Maxwell Street. I got passed by a couple of our local triathletes along the way before making the turn.

I thought about the crashes we'd had in past years on the hill near the Connie Maxwell Home, then I was at the bottom and climbing up past the mill before crossing the tracks and stopping for the traffic light on Main Street. A quick stop at the Chamber, then home again and stepping off the bike at 9:59.

Rodger and Steve arrived a little after 11:00, and we headed downtown. We toured the Taylor Galleries and talked briefly with Donna before dining at T.W. Boon's. Vonona, Ainsley and Matt came in while we were there. Apparently, Ainsley had done the metric in 3 hours, 10 minutes. It seems the lead pack did the 65 miles or so in 2 hours 30 minutes. Yikes!

After lunch, we walked down to the Federal Building and checked out the show running in the gallery there before heading out to the high school to see the full art show. Ana had the distinction of having the first digital paintings to run in the Festival show - Gardenia #1 and Cactus #2. We took a turn through the craft show before heading out to the garden tour. Three of the houses were enough, and we came home and chilled out a bit before bidding adieu to Rodger and Steve. All in all, it was a good day.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
  cirque '06, the finale
Sunday was the first time I'd been to the Cirque and NOT ridden the Tour de Guilford, but that was all right. It meant that Ana and I had time to swing by Starbucks on the way to Lewis Recreation Center. Properly fortified, we arrived after the riders had left for but before many of the vendors and exhibitors had arrived.

I got lucky and found a place to park on the street - about half a block away. It wasn't too bad, though. We had a couple of bags of equipment, two boxes with 10 framed digital paintings, a camera bag, Julius and his stand. Dale Brown, master of the Classic Rendezvous list, creator and organizer of the Cirque and all-around nice guy, popped up when I asked where we were to set up.

"You're in here," Dale said, leading us into the dining area. "This room has the best light."

He was right. We wound up being the art for dinner, which was kinda fun. We set up the table, I ran the cords between the legs, we draped everything and placed the three large pieces down low, the rest laid out on the top.

Most of the time I hung out with Ana and talked to folks as they walked up to the table. We got a nice cross-section of people who dug what Ana was doing, and lots of people walked off carrying fliers and business cards.

Every so often I'd slip out with the camera and get some shots while looking for goodies. For the first time I bought nothing, focusing more on looking at bikes and getting good images and chatting with folks.

I was struck again by the diversity of the bikes on display. There were a lot of great track bikes, from ancient wood-rimmed machines with fish mouth lugs to Mauricio Rebolledo's shockingly clean looking track iron. No less impressive were the hard core touring and randonneur bikes, including a chromed Rene Herse, a pack of Jack Taylors, and Pergolizzi's heart-stoppingly cool '49 Alex Singer. Carrying the theme into this century were several Peter Weigle machines, Baylis' Aero-Tour, and a few other machines.

The most vibed-out tourer of them all was the late Fred DeLong's funky fillet-brazed custom bike. I remembered seeing it in DeLong's book years ago - we have a copy up in the T section of the library right now - and I'd always thought it was interesting, if not elegant. Delong's bike wound up winning as Best Tourer. When Dale mentioned that DeLong was an engineer by trade, the bike suddenly made perfect sense. It was purely about getting the job done, a total form-follows-function machine.

A couple of times I walked past Julius where he was nestled in among the other British bikes. I had felt vaguely out of my depth initially, but the Vincitore lug pattern looked, well, right and at home among the other fancy-lugged English bikes. I got some pix of a couple of other Mercians, including an earlier Vincitore with an equally eclectic mix of parts.

We managed to take one turn together around the show, with Ana pointing out things she wanted pictures of and my calling her attention to details I suspect she would like. We caught the awards presentation, then went back to the table and began taking things down. We said out goodbyes to folks as we caught them and promised Dale we'd be back for Cirque '07 - which will be the last in Greensboro.

Poor Julius got thoroughly soaked when the heavens opened up on us near Charlotte. The weather escalated into a storm of positively Biblical proportions complete with lightning streaking across the sky and pounding rain. Traffic slowed down to 30 mph on I-85, only picking up somewhere around Spartanburg.

We got home around 8:30. It had been a delightful long weekend complete with a 4-star hotel, lots of fixed-gear cycling, days of talking and playing with vintage bike parts and above all, hanging out with great folks. But it was also good to be home with the love of my life.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
  cirque '06, part 1
Wow, it's a whirlwind!

We left Greenwood a little after 8:00 with a trunkful of Ana's digital paintings, a backseat full of luggage and coolers, and Julius strapped up and riding on the rear bumper rack. We made good time, even with a couple of stops at rest areas. The lilies at the North Carolina welcome center were so stunning, Ana took a bunch of photos for reference use in her florals. We stocked up on maps and brochures and headed back out.

We arrived at the O. Henry around 12:30, checked in and ate. There was time for me to change clothes and drive over to Cycles de Oro, the epicenter of the Cirque du Cyclisme. Grabbing my gear, I rode across the street to the shop's parking lot. I leaned Julius next to another Mercian - John Crump's 1950 Vigorelli Special, the oldest Mercian in the U.S. I popped into the shop to grab a cue sheet and say hello to Dale Brown, ringmaster of the Cirque and benevolent despot of the Classic Rendezvous newslist.

I had time to nod and say hi to Larry O and Aldo, folks I hadn't seen since I'd last attended the Cirque in 2001. Moments later I was setting off with the Friday Fixed Gear ride.

It was an in-town course with lots of twists and turns. One batch of riders got caught on the wrong side of a traffic light early on and never caught up with us again. I rode for a while with Bob Freitas, a fellow post-cardiac-event cyclist, and we traded notes on treatments and riding after heart attacks. A fellow member of the iBOB and CR lists, he was riding an utterly lovely De Rosa a lot like the one I wanted when I was 14.

We stopped a couple of times to regroup. I looked around at the machines surrounding me. The ride leader, a very articulate young guy who works for Dale, was riding the shop's Soma Rush. There were several Bianchi Pistas from different years. Several young cats I was later learn were from Philadelphia and were associates of Curtis at Via Bicycles were there riding brakeless track bikes - the nicest of which was the battered black Paramount with the incredibly skinny round fork blades.

Not everyone rode fixed. New York's John (aka Gianni) Pergolizzi was astride an amazing 12-speed Alex Singer from 1949 - which means it had three chainrings and four cogs, rather than two rings and six cogs. Brian Baylis was riding the Aero-Tour show bike he built, and other randonneur bikes present included Peter Weigle's and a Chris Chance, as well as a couple of vintage Jack Taylors.

There were some maneuvers that would not meet the approval of the GCC - at several intersections, riders stopped traffic while the pack went through red lights. I rode for a while with a gentleman named Tom who was piloting a lovely old chrome Paramount converted to fixed gear. I told him I admired his T-shirt from the 1st International Fixed-Gear Symposium, and learned he thought it was one of the the nicest cycling events he'd been to.

There was another fixed I noticed, a blue and white Carpenter with cottered Chater Lea cranks, Airlite hubs with flanges that looked like chromed telephone dialing rings, and BSA pedals. Of course my name failure popped up - I am forever bobbling people's names, so I don't have one to go with that bike's owner.

We rolled along a multi-use path for a bit, then entered a park. While skirting the edge of a pond, we heard a sudden loud "bang!" Pergolizzi's front tire had blown out. The bunch was stopped, and we took a quick break while he undid the wingnuts on the huge Maxicar hubs and replaced the tube in the 650B tire. Moments later we were off again, winding our way back to the shop. I wound up with 20.5 miles for the ride.

I hung out for a little while, walking around and looking at the stuff for the auction, noting in passing a lovely red Mercian frameset with Nervex Professional lugs, a '49 Gillott that needed to have the top headlug repaired, and other cool frames and parts. Much of the merchandise was crisp and clean, but some items were well-worn. On the last table I looked at, there was a battered Peugeot PX-10 frameset with no paint left on the fork blades. I looked at the tag - it was a 58 cm, center to center - and shook my head and smiled and walked on.

We were originally scheduled to go to the buffet supper, watch Jeff Groman's movie The Jazz Sport, an ode to the glory years of Six-Day bike races, and watch the charity auction. When I got back to the hotel to shower and change, we decided instead to get something to eat and stay in and rest up. After searching through the yellow pages, we settled on Greek cuisine from the Acropolis on Eugene Street. I managed to figure out how to get there via MapQuest, and the folks at the restaurant were able to give me good directions back over Greensboro's somewhat confusing streets to the hotel.

This morning I got up early, fixed myself some oatmeal and headed over to the shop again. I had thought the ride choices would be 12 and 25 miles. Oh, no. The options were either 25 or 33. I'd flipped Julius' rear wheel over to the 71-in gear the other day, and I wasn't sure I was up to what I remembered as some stiff hills. Too late. Time to fish or cut bait.

I surprised myself, actually. There were some abrupt descents followed by equally sharp climbs. I got up them just fine. I did a little "dancing on the pedals," but mostly I sat back, grasped the drops, and did old-style English seated climbing while focusing on "turning them round." Sure, there were moments I reached to the downtube only to be reminded there were no levers or lower gears there, but all in all I was fine. On one of the descents, I hit 31 mph, which I think is the fastest I've ridden fixed since the heart attack.

At one point the fixed-gear contingent was riding as a bloc, with me following the Carpenter's pilot, another gentleman on a chromed Lygie conversion, and a Quickbeam with hammered fenders and M-bars behind me. I got back to the shop just before 11:00 with 26.75 miles and had time to return to the O. Henry, shower, change, and head back to the shop. Ana had plans for an afternoon of hanging out, eating lunch and resting up.

I had lunch in the seminar room - a turkey sandwich wrapped in a spinach tortilla - and chit-chatted with folks I hadn't see in eons. I was sitting next to Charlie Young, who I'd talked into buying a Fiorelli in 2001 - so I wouldn't buy it. I told Tom Hayes he had made a very happy man of Ainsley Wiles by selling him the frameset that became the Deathtrap. Several folks commented on how shaving off mustache they'd last seen me wearing had knocked a decade or more off my looks.

During the first seminar, Matt Gorski and Charles Andrews discussed restorations, showing both good and bad examples. Listening to them, I was struck by how my tastes have evolved. Most of the examples they showed were Pogliaghis, classical Italian racing irons that have little interest for me. As they talked about high-dollar restorations that involved nearly full repaints around skillful masking of existing decals and graphics, I realized that I really don't have much use for hanger queens. I'm glad someone out there is willing to keep pristine examples or restore wrecks to exquisite condition - but it won't be me.

During the breaks, I socialized some more and wandered the seminar area, looking at the various bikes people had brought in. There was an amazing Johnny Berry from the late '50s, original paint, lots of patina and the coolest old Huret derailleur system I'd seen yet; over near the door was an early 50s Dawes with a 4-speed Cyclo-Benelux derailleur system, original spearpoint celluloid fenders, and Reynolds stickers. There were old Paramounts, even older French rando bikes, and truly ancient track iron. Through an open door, I could see a Bob Jackson track bike, an old English Rex frameset, and the battered Peugeot frameset. And it wasn't even the show - that comes tomorrow.

Peter Weigle's presentation was particularly interesting to me. He showed lots of pictures from his days at Witcomb in England, the early days of Witcomb USA, and the growth of his own business. Afterwards I walked up and took a closer look at his bikes. It's the first time I've really looked at Peter Weigle's bikes, and the closer I looked, the more details I saw - and loved. His front racks are exquisite. The frames' lines just look perfect. Little touches called me back for a closer look - one example being the perfect little rings brazed onto the inside of the right fork blades to accomodate wiring from a generator hub to a lighting system. If I ever decide to buy another new, custom bike, he's on my short list of options.

John Barron's presentation was simplicity itself. After a brief introduction, he distributed white cotton gloves to all present and turned us loose on tables of carefully tied-down NOS vintage parts, including '50s Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleurs, assorted cranks, pedals, stems, pedals, and other rare beauties. While he'd left most of the boxes at home, a few were present. I didn't even bother trying to get a look at the early Campagnolo cranks - they were on the same table as a set of the "no-name" Campy sidepulls, the first version of those brakes. I thought the Titan and other adjustable stems on the last table were particularly lovely.

During the next break, I stepped down to the entry area and stood around while Joe B-Z talked with a bunch of folks about a Masi he had that hadn't moved during last night's auction. As they agreed it was a rider, not a show bike. I looked at it - it was blue, a Carlsbad California Masi from back when "everyone who mattered" was working there. It had top tube cable loops, rather than the usual chromed Campagnolo clips. Several folks commented on how it just radiated a "ride me fast, now!" vibe, and I agreed. It looked fast just sitting there.

The last presentation was Dave Moulton, author, musician, and former framebuilder. After talking about the adaptive nature of frame design, he described his development in the craft. After starting out filing lugs for North London builder "Pops" Hodges in the '50s, he worked for 37 years building frames before leaving after feeling burned out. He'd turned to writing songs and fiction. To advance those causes, he'd developed a website - only to be Googled by fanatics for his bikes, be they Dave Moultons, Fusos or John Howards. He sounded like he was at peace with his framebuilding years, which had a lot of resonance with me.

Folks were packing up, and I was chit-chatting with Larry O as we watched folks rolling their bikes out of the center. Charlie was walking by with the blue Rex, and I asked him who had wound up with the Peugeot.

"I did," he said. "Go get it, it's yours."

"No, I couldn't do that," I said.

"Yes you can. I don't need another project, and I can view the $45 bucks I paid for it as a pure donation. Take it, it's yours."

So I thanked him and retrieved the frame and headed back to the hotel.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
  gearing up for the cirque du cyclisme
I went out and did a slow, relatively short ride the Sunday after Tour de Abbeville. I was still suffering, and it was kinda hot. Fortunately for me, young Bradley's rear tire developed a slow leak, and we turned back and rolled at a sedate pace into Hodges. 24.4 miles was the total on a hot afternoon.

I didn't ride Tuesday or Wednesday - Ana and I went to the Charleston area for our anniversary. We had a great time that included hearing possibly the worst acoustic folkie of all time, finding a great bike shop (Black Dog Cycles) and discovering an amazing Greek Restaurant (Zeus Seafood and Grill in Mount Pleasant). We filled the coolers up at Whole Foods and drove home Wednesday.

I made up for it Thursday on the Callaham Challenge. I had dashed out into the garage, running late, and found Belle's back tire was totally flat. No time for repairs, so I pulled Stripe down off the rack, pumped up his tires, dropped bottles into cages and headed out. I wound up riding with Campbell, Bradley, Al and a new guy, Tommy Davis.

Bradley and I chatted for a while as we rode down Stevenson. The worst of the pea gravel was gone, so long as you stayed away from the shoulders. Bradley was using the opening stage of the ride as a warm up, figuring he'd hop onto the train when the really fast guys caught up to us. They overtook us (as usual) right around the intersection with Old Abbeville-Hodges Road. As folks passed me, they said hello or patted me on the back, and I said hi to Josh, Bob Chambers, Tom, and a bunch of other folks. Steven Shenal slowed down off the back and stopped to have a European moment as it were, whizzing into the gutter while still astride the bike. I could see the pack slow down, waiting for him.

Campbell and Tommy rolled up.

"So is this like waiting for the yellow jersey taking a nature break?" I asked.

"Naw," Campbell said. "They just like picking on him."

"Oh, okay," I said.

Jim crested the hill and we decided to do the full route, instead of the short one. We took Stevenson across 203 to its terminus on 20, then burned on down to 185 and back towards Hodges. We made better time down the length of Dixie Drive and back into town, winding up with 36.87 miles for the day.

Saturday's club ride had a small turnout - me, Jim and Bradley. The weather looked threatening, so we cut it short, riding from the fountain down the Canadian Mist Highway to Pembroke, then left onto Scotch Cross. We took the John Lake loop down Lowry Road to 248, passing the Star Fort and working our way back in the way we came out. I wound up with 25.5 miles.

Sunday was a bigger bunch - Jim, Bradley, Norm, Tommy, Andrew Douglas and Andrew Evans showed up. The pace never got too frenetic, and we worked out a long loop that took us out Noble Road and back around onto 201. We took a detour onto Cold Springs Road, the dead end side, and felt like we were in another state entirely. Young Andrew Evans commented that it looked like Pennsylvania - I've never been there, I couldn't say. It can say it was beautiful out there.

We rolled back onto 20, then cut over onto Central Shiloh Road. By this point, we had broken into different groups, and I wound up riding with Jim and Tommy. We took the long way back, eventually coming out via Pickens Creek Road. I had 33 miles even for the day.

I didn't ride today, other than commuting - too busy getting stuff in order for the Cirque du Cyclisme this year. Unfortunately, I'll probably miss getting to do the Fixed-Gear Friday ride, but Saturday's ride looks promising. I'm looking forward to seeing Jeff Groman's movie, and Sunday Ana and I will be manning a table showing her digital paintings of bike parts. I haven't been to the Cirque since 2001, and this should be a blast.
cycling through life is more than the cycling life

Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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