Friday, April 27, 2007

A Visit to World Headquarters...Barcroft.

Who are those guys?

Hi all,
As you may have noticed, we went on a trip! Yes, a short vacation to see friends in Virginia, see some of the sights in Washington DC, and then to Chicago to visit Paul and Christina. A nice trip; you may recall the hot cross buns we made in Virginia. It is my hope as I write future posts to share some photographs and fun facts we learned along the way.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip was a visit to the World Headquarters of Barcroft Bicycles. As the Utah representative to the company (I have the only Barcroft in Utah!) I have always felt compelled to visit the HQ. So, on a lovely Tuesday, Kathy and I made the trek from Delaplane to Falls Church to meet with Bill Cook; owner, proprietor, designer, assembly tech, shipping clerk, business manager, and flunky of Barcroft Bicycles.

The Boss evaluating a tandem frame.

Bill was a most gracious host, taking time from his busy life to let me see all of his bikes, fiddle with this and that, and generally be in the way. After a sumptuous lunch at the BEST Chinese restaurant in the DC area, we adjourned back at HQ for some test riding of bikes. We even got Kathy into the act, riding stoker on the Columbia tandem bike. I got to ride the Ti Virginia which was a very stiff, tight ride. I don’t have enough experience to formulate a technical opinion, but I enjoyed the bike, and wished for a longer experiment. I only rode it a few minutes as the thought of riding someone’s $3,000 dollar bike made me nervous. Plus, if I dented it before it got shipped to Mr. Ball of Bentrideronline, there would be great stress and consternation as it is truly a one of a kind bike. Seriously, it is the only Ti Virginia!

Bill said the fifth Ti frame is reserved for me!

Bill and I also rode the tandem with Bill in the lead and myself onboard as stoker. What an experience; my first time on a tandem, on unfamiliar roads, with a noted cross-country cyclist, riding one big fast bike. With some quick instruction, we made a good team. Bill was kind enough to mentor along the way, showing me all the coordination needed between stoker and captain. It was a fun 10 minutes as we sped around the block.

I would keep an eye on these two...
One other welcome part of this visit was to check out all the lovely bikes in the garage and discuss nuances of design of each bike. Bill allowed me to sit on every bike, and talk about the subtle differences in each of them. As I am in search of more ergonomically useful hand positions, we had a nice chat about the configuration of Bill’s trans-continental Dakota bike. (My hands are not in pain or uncomfortable, I just tend to keep them up on the brake handles) In the end, I was given the gift of a new riser that won’t work loose as I ride, and will keep my bike much more stable at high speed. I am also beta-testing a Terra Cycle light mount on the front of the bike. So far it has been a great improvement over previous mounts. Thanks!

Frames anyone?

Now, it is two weeks after my great visit, I have fond memories of a grand afternoon. Bill is a fascinating gentleman, who has brought “low, fast, comfortable, and elegant” bikes to the recumbent world. We had a great time getting to know Bill, and to get to learn a bit more about his world. Now I need to figure out how to retire and be his garage flunky.

I would work for free!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Learning Experience

A nice picture from Virginia.

Well friends, I am learning that there is a lot of training, preparation and education in getting ready for my long distance rides. Some rides are more educational than others. As my friend Vikram said in his blog, “ reading brevet reports online is not good training for riding them!” And, he is right.

Yesterday was a perfect example. I was riding home from Kathy’s school, slowly spinning up a steep part of highway 89 when the front derailleur clamp failed. Now, before I go any further, the local bike shop installed this clamp and the failure was NOT a design flaw of my Barcroft Virginia GT. When I replaced the front derailleur, there was some difficulty in finding an adequate clamp. Hence, the problem yesterday morning…

So, there I am, on the shoulder of a busy highway, the front derailleur hanging on the chain, still connected to the cable. The bike is unrideable in this configuration. In order to remove the derailleur I merely needed to unscrew the small bracket at the bottom the derailleur, toss it in the bike bag and be on my way. Bad news: No screwdriver! Much ranting and raving now ensued, as I am stranded 6 miles from home, and an evening shift at work looming closer.

Just a few tubes, a pump, is all I carry!

The moral of this story is about not being prepared. For years I have been a minimalist when it comes to carrying parts and tools on the bike. This will not suffice on my first brevet, or on the MS-150 miler in June. This is what I learned today. I am horribly unprepared for riding in the back of beyond. So, now the search for the right tools to carry commences. I have to be efficient about space and weight.

How did I get home? Well, easy! I finally came to my senses and unhooked the derailleur cable and the derailleur hung free on the chain. I discovered that if I was very careful and didn’t pedal too much, the derailleur would hang free, floating in front of the idler under the seat. So, gently and slowly I pedaled up the hill, down to Gentile Street, and cruised slowly and safely home. Not elegant, perhaps not all that smart, but I got home! Next up, a new derailleur with the RIGHT clamp from Barcroft Bikes.

I am pretty sure, this is not how it is supposed to work..

That’s the last thing I learned. Training is not all about miles and conditioning. It’s about physical, logistical, and mental preparation.

Happy riding,

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Gladness

Let us sing of Easter gladness...

Writing you this lovely Easter day from Delaplane Virginia, in a warm and happy house in the country. Last night, to celebrate Easter, we made traditional hot cross buns. An Easter tradition here at Terry and John's house. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Easter Day. Enjoy a few pics of our grand adventure last night..

Martha Stewart has nothing on us.

Any ideas about what structure this is?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April Foolishness

Hi all,

Well, this week’s post is a mixed bag. I enjoyed a 42 mile ride yesterday that ended up being one of those “ignore the bike computer” rides. The weather was cold and windy, and within the first 2 miles, it was readily apparent that I didn’t have any mental zip to ride hard. This was partly my fault as last Wednesday I had overcooked an upper body workout at the gym, and ended up tying my muscles in knots for 5 days. At the time it was great stress relief, but the long term implications made it a bad experience. This meant I had to stay off the bike and away from the gym until I could get all the muscles back where they were supposed to be.

So, I was off on a lovely island ride with strong north winds and beautifully clear skies. Leaving at 7:15, I thought it was warmer and didn’t dress well for the beginning of the day. 5 miles and I still couldn’t feel my fingers! I just kept riding to the west, anxiously awaiting the sunshine. The pace was noticeably less than my usual, but the lovely weather buoyed my spirits as I made my way to the island. I enjoyed riding around some new roads that I had up to now, never ridden before. It really did end up being a pleasant ride. Lovely skies, lots of animals, no bugs, and very few people!

I think it is probably a positive thing to not make every ride a training ride, where one expends a lot of effort, tracks data, and sets mileage or speed goals. It is just as satisfying to actually just enjoy a ride! I mean, that’s what is all about isn’t it? Riding?

I even took a half an hour to enjoy a short hike up the hill above the snack shack (officially known as the “Bistro”) at Buffalo Point.

So, keep that in mind as you ride on down the road wherever you go, on whatever bike you ride. It’s not always about training and goals. Get out and ride!

These sunset pictures ended up being very expensive!

And finally, enjoy the photograph of the remains of my glasses. While in a rush to get my camera, lenses, tripod, coat, and dogs in the car to go sunset hunting, I inadvertently left my glasses in their case on the roof of my car. They ended up on a busy street, and I was able to recover them 14 hours later. Of course, there wasn’t much left! Sigh. So, several hundred bucks later, I have new glasses.

When I break something, I really do it!

The enclosed baseball picture is just an example of what happens to things in our back yard that are found by the puppy dogs. Metaphorically, it is a lovely illustration of what I would like to see the American League do to the Yankees all season long.

Yummy snack...

See you next time, Jim