August is usually a slow month for me. I tend to ride less for reasons that vary. This year I took four days off to go to Asheville, North Carolina with my wife and daughter. We toured Biltmore for the second time. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. We also did a lot of hanging around in Asheville and came to the conclusion that we’d never want to live there.
As for reading, I polished off some of my backlog of magazines that piled up while I was riding across the country. My brother Jim gave me a book of essays on bicycles and bicycling called Two Wheels Good by Jody Rosen. I found the chapter on Bikecentennial to be especially interesting. There was also a good account of the claims by many to being the inventor of the bicycle. On the watching front I managed to sit through Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, two hours of my life I wish I had back. I also binge watched in one sitting Obi Wan Kenobi which I thought was surprisingly good. I had low expectations, I suppose, after The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian. Also, Hayden Christensen didn’t totally suck.
Big Nellie and I went to see the Nationals play a game. They didn’t totally suck either and they won.
As for riding, I managed to squeeze out 1,070.5 miles, exceeding 1,000 miles for the fourth month in a row. I started doing 60 mile rides every other day. I find that I can just put my brain into touring mode and ride all day. I discovered a brochure that includes six loop rides in Talbot County, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. The rides are flat and mostly car free. The maps in the brochure are color coded so that you can easily construct rides that are two or more loops long or add or subtract pieces of rides to make shorter loops.
I did my long rides on my Cross Check (679.5 miles). Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent did most of the short days after my 60-mile rides (243.5 miles). The Mule contributed 100.5 miles until it made it to 68,000 miles. The rest was from riding Little Nellie to and from the car repair place. (My 2009 Accord was in need of new rubber and a working air conditioner. Suffice it to say, my wallet took a hit.) I use the car mostly for driving to places where I can ride my bike.
So far this year, I’ve ridden 7,910 miles, more than half of that was on The Mule because of the 3,400+ mile bike tour. I’m on a pace for 11,881 miles this year.
Some interesting things happened since I returned home. The day after I arrived I couldn’t hear anything and my sinuses were stuffed. I thought it was from sitting close to the engine on three flights. And maybe jet lag was playing a role. After a day of this, I decided to take a Covid test. Positive. I took another. Positive again. Dang. I called my doctor and we did a remote consult. He put me on Paxlovid. Within 36 hours I was back to normal. I coughed a lot but that was part of the process of my sinuses clearing.
Another annoying thing happened. My pants kept falling off. I had to tighten my belt to absurd lengths to keep them on. My beltless bike shorts (they go over my bike tights) were snug when I left home in May. Now I put them on and they’d fall straight to my ankles. To keep them on, I resorted to rolling the waist band,
After I recovered from Covid, The Mule arrived home. (It was packed flawlessly by West End Bikes of Portland.) So there I am in my bike pants trying to unbox and re-assemble The Mule. I had the frame out of the box. Every tube was wrapped in either heavy cardboard or styrofoam tubing. The styrofoam was affixed to the bike using zip ties. I pulled out my trusty Swiss army knife. It was super sharp because I have only used it a couple of times since I bought it in May. As I went to cut a tie, my hand slipped and I put a deep gash into my left thumb.
There was blood everywhere. I tried to continue with the bike but it was pointless. So I put my thumb in my mouth and walked around the house to go inside and bandage it. Except my pants kept falling down. There I am sucking my thumb, bleeding from one hand and holding my pants up with the other. Thankfully my kids and wife weren’t around to laugh their asses off at me.
The thumb is healing slowly, and The Mule is back on the road.
Today I went to my doctor for my first physical in three years. The doctor’s assistant weighed me. 198 pounds. I am below the Mendoza line for the first time in four years (when I came back from the 2018 tour.) This means that, when I came back from Portland two weeks ago, I probably weighed around 195 because I have been eating more and biking less. I must have weighed north of 215 pounds at the start of the tour. No wonder my pants are falling down.
As readers may recall, while riding down the highway along the Lochsa River in Idaho, Mark was given a traffic citation for failing to ride as far to the right as is safe. That’s what Idaho law calls for. A driver had passed Mark on a blind curve and nearly hit an oncoming vehicle,. which happened to be a Sheriff’s car. The car was driven by a chubby cheeked deputy who looked all of 22 years old. The deputy pulled a uey and gave chase. He pulled over the offending driver. The driver explained that he had no choice but to pass Mark because he came on Mark so suddenly. And that Mark was in his way. The deputy let the driver go and gave Mark a ticket. The next day we rode to the county magistrate’s office in Grangeville, the county seat. Mark arranged for a hearing via Zoom to contest the ticket. Today, Mark had his hearing. Barney didn’t appear. The ticket was dismissed. Justice was served.