Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Afternoon

Just about to head out. Not sure what the plan is...Probably more of the same. Just another weekend in paradise.

Went for a bike ride with Jacques yesterday. I, of course, rode the Merlin SS. I was able to clean some stuff I hadn't before, plus when sprinting for beers, I was able to suck his wheel for a ways. I was doing 40 kph (25 mph) on my SS! Fast for a 32:18 gear ratio.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

More on Single Speeding

Boy howdy, now every time I ride the Merlin, I just get all spacey and zoned out. I come back from a ride feeling euphoric and happy, but there are chunks of the ride I can't account for. Certain parts of my latest rides are just total blanks. It is really strange. This used to happen every so often, but now it’s almost an every ride event.

I don't know if this is because the bike is so familiar and now so simple I don't have to think about anything. No anticipating a gear change or anything...its just pedaling. Now I think I am seeing the true appeal of single speeding.

Another aspect of single speeding is the weight of the bike. The Merlin probably weighs less than 22 lbs. I think it weighs about 20 lbs now. It is feathery light…less than 10% of my body weight. It is so fun! I did an out-and-back section yesterday, and when I turned the bike around, just lifting it up between my legs and doing a 180, it was incredibly light feeling. It is fun to flick the bike around. I can easily make the rear end fishtail around a bit.

Lots of fun for sure!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy 100th Birthday Grandmother!

My grandmother turns 100 years old today. She was born in Arkansas on September 26, 1907.

My grandmother has been very important in my life. She is the matriarch of the family. Anything I did in my life, I felt, in my own way, I needed to keep her proud.

Her husband, my grandfather, was a great man too. He was an educator in Arkansas for something like 60 years! He's the one that influenced me in going into education as a career. Granddaddy was born in 1903 and died in 1990. He lived a good and full life.

Grandmother is still sharp for a woman of 100. Though now blind, she still lives independently in a small house across the street from my mom's in New Mexico. She even enjoys a belt of Wild Turkey Kentucky bourbon every now and then.

Anyway, I just want to wish my grandmother the happiest of days!

(the photo is from July 2006)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Flow State

I had the strangest bike ride yesterday. I was riding with a friend (a newbie), a guy I work with. This morning I told him something like this..."I don't remember our ride from the point just after passing the Corsa till we reached the exit of the tree tunnel. What happened there?"

He was surprised! "You don't remember?", he asked. "We were racing! You were spinning out on your single speed. I looked over at you and your legs were spinning really fast. I was getting tired trying to keep up. We slowed down at the tree tunnel."

I have been riding my Merlin SS (single speed) exclusively for a month now. My Merlin is old (as far as mtn bikes go), a 1996 frame. Its fully rigid (no suspension) and its like an old friend. It fits me like a glove. I converted this bike to single speed about a year ago.

More and more I seem to be reaching this flow state which did happen before, but now it happens very often on this old single speed. This was the first time it happened while riding with someone else (I think). Usually I am alone when it happens. It is a trip! I don't know if its the bike since being a single speed, I don't have to think about shifting and so on.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Latest Book...

I am currently reading Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded; August 27, 1883. Written by Simon Winchester, its a book about geology, economy, politics, and religion. Very interesting. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Scotland!!! Bridge of Allen and Stirling

I milled around the village of Bridge of Allen for a few days. I had planned on going south to ride the Seven Stanes, but the rains returned, I was freaked about hunting for a place to stay, worried about getting back to the Edinburgh airport on time, and I was generally concerned about my expenses. I decided to lay low and just wait till my return trip.

John Will was with me a few days. We stayed at a couple of B & B's, hit the pubs, and after a couple of days, he flew back to the USA. I also had to find a new place to stay and ended up at a cheap hotel.

I walked around a lot. I walked to the Wallace Monument. I climbed the stairs, I walked around part of the University of Stirling, then I discovered the bus line that would take me downtown Stirling.

Stirling was/is a nice city. Very clean, very friendly. I stumpled upon a genuine Scottish pub, The Claymore. Being the only "Yank" in the place, I was treated with curiosity and friendliness. I met some real Scottish characters. Lots of fun! After 3 pints, I decided I better leave, and I meant to return but I never did. Instead I walked to the castle.

That is how I spent my days in Bridge of Allen and Stirling.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip, Part VI, 10 Aug 2007

It’s the last day of the bike tour and kind of a sad day. This day we rode pavement all the way to Montrose. It was a short ride, but scenic. We were out of the Highlands and into rolling farm country.

In our exuberance and competitiveness, we missed a turn, so we approached Montrose from slightly north instead of from the west. I guess it worked. We found our way to the beach on the North Sea. Took a few photos, packed the Litespeed in its box, ate some lunch at a local diner, and eventually loaded everything into the van, then loaded ourselves onto a small bus for our trip back to Stirling.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip, Part V, 9 Aug 2007

From Garnshiel, we did a great section of pavement to the town of Balleter. It was a beautiful place. After visiting the local ATM (cash supply running out), we continued down the road to a "royal horse trough". I don't know what else to call it. Apparently Queen Victoria loved riding her horses through the Scottish glens and mountains. Scattered here and there are horse troughs for her majesty's mounts.

From the royal horse trough, we off roaders took off up Glen Tanar. Story goes, that Glen Tanar is the most pristine glen in Scotland. It still has all of its trees! The owner of the land, bought his trees back from the government during WWII. He saved the trees so they wouldn't be made into troop carriers or Mosquito fighter/bombers.

Up the glen we rode, and on the shoulder of Mount Keen (939 meters), Scotland's eastern most monro (a monro is a mtn that is over 3000 ft or 918 meters). It was about a mile of hike-a-biking then onto top. The ride across the heather was fairly easy, then a screaming descent! We rode pavement (ugh) into Edzel for our last night on the bikes. One more day to the North Sea!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip, Part IV, 8 Aug 2007

From Tomitoul, it was a nice ride up one glen, over a divide and down another. We ended our day at a nice hunting lodge at Garnshiel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip, Part III, 7 Aug 2007

Day three, we rode from Kinguisse (famous for its shinty championships) to the whisky town of Tomiltoul. This was technically the most demanding of days with a lot of varied terrain. We rode through the heart of the Cairngorms; forded steams, climbed hills, blasted down two track, rode single track across heather-filled bogs, and up and over a technical scree slope (I almost cleaned it, but bobbled near the top in the brick-sized/shaped rocks). The town of Tomiltoul the second highest village in Scotland and is on the Whisky Trail. I bought two bottles of single-malt (one was given to my mother's husband, and other was enjoyed at the SPC...but more on that later).
The bikes were pretty thrashed after this day. I had broken a spoke on the Litespeed, plus my brake pads were wearing down quickly. Darn those V-brakes!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip, Part II, 6 August 2007

Rode through a beautiful glen to Kingussie. Kingussie was a nice place.

Scotland!!! The Bike Trip. Part I, 5 Aug 2007

I signed on with Wildcat Adventures out of Stirling for a Trans-Scotland mountain bike trip. It was a good outfit, very professional. We started in Strontian, a small village on a western inlet. From their we pedaled along Loch Sheil to Glenfinnen by lunch, then finally to Spean Bridge for our first night. I was bonking by the time I reached Spean Bridge, but a pint of Guiness at the Commando Bar solved that problem.

Scotland!!! (Edinburgh)

August 1, I flew to Edinburgh. I actually arrived on the morning of August 2.

Summer Update Part I

July 12: I flew to Miami direct from Barcelona, Venezuela via Avior Airlines! No need to deal with Caracas anymore! Yeeha! It was a great flight on an older 737. In Miami, I cleared customs then checked my bike and my bag onto Continental Airlines on to El Paso, TX. It was a very quick and smooth journey from my place in Lecheria to El Paso.

July 13 - 31: Hung out in Silver City with friends and family. It was too muddy to mtn bike but I did do some road biking and got my butt kicked. Drove to Fence Lake to look at property but decided it was too expensive for what and where it was. Drove up to Gallup to see Stan-the-Man! He's one of my favorite friends. Great guy! Then over to Corrales and Albuquerque to see Jim, Roma, as well as my son Kyle.

I took Kyle on a little road trip up the Jemez Canyon, then over to Cuba, NM. Cuba was part of my old territory from 20 years past, then drove down to Torreon, NM to show Kyle my first community where I started my teaching career in 1985. It is still a beautiful place. I even ran into some of my old students! These guys were now in their 30's! Nuts!

Also during this time, I drove to Phoenix to see RUSH in concert. Stan gave me a free ticket and we met there at the Cricket Pavillion. It was a good show. The next day I drove up to Black Canyon City to see my good friend Mike. Its always good to see Mike. We did a couple of rides together then I had to get back to Silver City to get ready for Scotland!

Back in Black!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I left for the USA on July 12 and returned to Venezuela August 23. While in New Mexico, my Internet access was marginal since my mom only had dial-up and it was frustratingly slow. My wife and I moved into our new place, but we haven't got a land line so no Internet access there either.