Monday, October 12, 2009

Wisdom in the Sticks

How much can you learn, or re-learn on a short bike ride? It could be a fair amount.

So long as you assure that the legs are engaged in say third gear or so, and the brian is in neutral, there is a fair chance that you’ll learn or re-learn a ton. I think this ability to not only work on, but actually solve some of the world’s problems while riding along on a bike is one of the big reasons I enjoy cycling so. Of course, this kind of riding can only be done in the right setting. For me it’s best to be on a low traffic rural or country road, one without a lot of climbing, pot holes, cars (running or parked) and not too many side streets or intersections.

Fortunately, right out my back door and within a mile there is just such a road: The South Bank Road. This is my treadmill, my martini, my ‘quiet room’ where I can go and if I choose, put it in neutral and think deeply about very shallow subjects. I can talk out loud with myself without anyone saying “what?” Though I don’t hear very well, I never miss what I’m saying.

What did I learn today?

I learned that the world is tilting over on it's axis at an alarming rate, as witness the:

Green leaves turning to red

Goblins on the porches and smoke from the chimneys

And beasts putting on their winter coats

I learned that riding into a very slight headwind is not noticeable. The effect can be choked up to a lack of fitness, lower air temps, additional clothing, deep thinking, or any number of other things. And in general, unless you are ‘training’ it’s just not noticeable. I am sure this is only true with wind speeds up to a certain, unknown speed. When the wind is really blowing, you know it is slowing you down.

By the same token, I learned that very same gentle breeze is noticeable when it is at your back. You notice instantly that you are either spinning faster, or grabbing another gear. You have to shift a little more brain power to paying attention the road. You also notice that there is no indication of commensurate effort. No labored breathing, no chilly breeze nipping at your nose or earlobes, no little trickle of sweat running into the corner of your eye. When this happens you involuntarily look to technology for affirmation. It’s true, you are not delirious, the cyclocomputer indicates that you are no longer laboring to hold 20 KPH, now you're floating along with no additional effort at 25 KPH! This brings me out of my deep thought mode to seek out further evidence. (you can only place so much faith in technology) Sure enough, see the smoke pouring from that that chimney?

That's not just an indicator that it’s cold out here, that’s also a wind speed indicator. That’s about a 3KPH wind going there. But here is the cyclists’ axiom: It’s really not a 3K wind, it’s a 6K wind, IF you are lucky enough to turn around and change your direction from up wind to down wind.

I also learned that days like this on the bike

will automatically cause you to think about days like this.

It was a little troubling to think of how many days like today I’ll have to endure before I can actually expect to ride out the South Bank Road in a sleeveless polypro jersey and shorts and still work up a sweat in the sun. Sigh.

What else? Oh I was reminded of a couple things:

Traffic cones are still the worlds best source of raw material for absolutely excellent mud flaps.

In fact, if they were not so effective, cheap, durable, and easily available I am sure I’d have one on the Big Horse. But of course I had to settle for something more expensive, harder to come by, and slightly less effective and durable.

Life (on a bike) can be complicated. I am pleased to say though that the Quickbeam and the tandem both sport low cost, high function traffic cone mudflaps.

I also learned that goats are not as dumb as most people believe. They have a sixth sense. What, I wondered would cause this little nanny

to wander from the comfort and safety of the flock, over to the fence to ogle me?

I thought about this as we stared mutely back at each other, she pensively chewing, me pensively fiddling with the camera. And then it dawned on me: She must have sensed the presence of long, lost relatives. (I’m an old goat, but only figuratively)

I was wearing my Merino wool RUSA Jersey, what else could it be? As I rode off she bleated and it sort of sounded like “Cia,ia,ia,o,o,o,”, which was odd, becasue the lable in the jersey says "Made in China".

I had a pretty inspiring experience this weekend. I attended the SIR AGM up in Issaquah on Saturday. Lots of inspiration. The turnout for one thing. Lots of people are members of this club, many more than in the past. It’s good to know that there are so many other people in this neck of the woods with the rando bug. As usual Mark, our club president did a couple inspiring things. One was to announce next year’s ride schedule. That was inspiring in two ways. First there will be no shortage of interesting rides put on by the club next year. The ‘One Way Thousand K” down to southern Oregon, taking in part of the Oregon coast and Crater Lake is particularly attractive. The other thing was, he did not have to beg and plead to get people to raise their hands to volunteer to organize any of the rides. They were all spoken for in advance!

Then he bragged up our club accomplishments. Always very inspiring. There are lots of ways to measure how much riding our club members have done over the season, and Mark figures out most of the ways. One thing he didn’t mention is that if you laid all the kilometers ridden end to end, it would stretch from here to Pluto … and back! Well, that may not be exactly accurate, but I’m betting it would be a long way out into space.

The new official SIR riding boots were pretty awe inspiring also:

And that brings us back to the spaced out riding I was doing out on the South Bank Road this afternoon. Another thing I learned had to do with my two girl friends. When I ride with either of these two hotties it’s great, but whenever the three of us get together for a little ‘roll in the pavement’ well, let’s just say there is ‘interference'.

Take "S", she’s petite, small, light, lean, and firm with something of a euro personality. She’s sort of narrow minded in an exotic, way, a little temperamental, but razor sharp whenever we are focused on uh, 'something special'. She does not know a lot of things but what she does know she’s passionate about. I really like that sharp focus.

Then there is "G". She’s more the all American girl. Not so fine boned, not bulky mind you, but substantial, in all the right places. She’s always a kick to go out riding with; no matter where we are she’s got some amazing little anecdote to tell, she knows all the right places to stop for a bite, knows the short cuts, can tell you where the climbs are, who lives over there, where that interesting little side road leads, and has an uncanny knack for getting us back in familiar territory if I happen to have paid more attention to her than to where we were going or how we got ‘here’.

The problem is this: When the three of us go out for a ride, long or short, S pouts! She gets turned off by G’s expansive knowledge. Oh sure, she still comes along but she just refuses to ‘participate’ shall we say. And it’s easy to see why; Any time she has something ot contribute, G interrupts her and well, though it is impressive, there are times when I’d appreciate it if G would not take up all the air in the room so to speak. For her part, G just goes on as though S isn’t even there: Never acknowledges her, never lets her have her say, never confirms what she has to offer. It’s sooo frustrating because I can only imagine how much ‘fun’ it would be if the two of them got along … and devoted all their attention to me! Ooh la la as the say in Frawnsay.

I could use a little help here from you, my social cycling followers. I don’t want to have to choose between the two of them; together they could make things so much more ‘interesting’, if you know what I mean.

So come on propeller heads, help me sort this out: How can I ride with my Sigma BC 1606L DTS wireless Cyclocomputer (with cadence option) and my Garmin Etrex Vista HCx GPS receiver and have them both function at the same time? It seems that anytime I turn the Garmin on, it interferes with the Sigma. Any suggestions would be greatly.
Oh, and don’t lets share this with Mrs. C OK? She would not understand.


  1. I was starting to worry about you. More than usual anyways.

  2. Dear Paul,

    I suppose it depends on why you're carrying the GPS. I've put the gps in my jersey pocket to eliminate the interference, but I generally only use it to generate ride metrics for my permanents--I don't ride with one for navigation, as routefinding here in Colorado is pretty straightforward.

    I got sick of dealing with Sigma wireless computers due to interference issues with my HRM (though I really liked their user interface) and started using a Cateye strada wireless (ODO). It has worked fine with a Vista HCx (ODO/altimeter/track generator), a Polar 720i HRM (altimeter/calorie counter), and a SON 20R/B+M Cyo all humming away on overnight rides.

    Good luck!



  3. RH: You shoud be worried ... very worried!

    WD: Always with the existential questions! Why am I carrying a GPS? Why does he ride a bike? When the house flooded I used my REI CC to pay for the rebuild, and with that GiHoondous rebate check, well I can only use so many down filled, gore tex, purvian print eye glass cases so and Chairman Meow simply refuses to go back packing with a kitty pannier so ...GPS!

    I actually like the outputs of the Sigma better. Don't know how to put routes into the GPS but here is how it is handy to me:

    When I'm 'not sure' I zoom out and see the surrounding roads and by that trick have on occasion figured out I was on the right track, or on other occasions figured out how to get back on track.

    I suppose I could leave it turned off until I need it in that situation, but the little moving maps can be pretty entertaining.

    I suspect by your comment I should assume that there is no 'freqency swtich' on either of these gizmos to simply solve the problem.


    Dr C