Any Road Tour: Day 10 -Failure to camp (again)

Xenia Ohio is famous for being obliterated by tornados about 45 years ago. I was in no rush to stock around for any repeat performances.

Dinner was the all you can eat salad and soup bar at the local restaurant next door. I feel bad for these people. I should announce something Hulk-like like: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”

I watched the hockey game last night and managed to stay up for the entire contest. Yay Caps!

This morning I intended to repeat my hooverization of the morning free hotel breakfast but it was sadly subpar food. Stale Cheerios can really mess with your whole meal. However, I persisted. Oink.

I was soon back on the rail trail heading for my planned destination, Richmond Indiana. Today’s tail trail featured my first snapping turtle of the trip.

There was also this attractive building on the trail.

In Dayton I left the trail to check out the Wright Brothers Museum. I watched a film and thought about how great things come from obscure places like Dayton and Liverpool and a garage in Palo Alto. They were complete self-taught nerds who risked everything to solve a series of massive physics problem. Most of the buildings they occupied are long gone but you can get a sense of their little corner of the world at the turn of the 20th century from some of what remains.

Here’s a statue of Wilber on the sight of his last workshop. Note that even the greatest people in history end up with bird poop on their heads.

Next to the Museum was the site of the Wright Brothers bicycle shop. The bikes on display look remarkably similar to modern bikes.

I’ve been seeing goslings all along the way but today I saw my first babies. So cute, but camera shy.

I managed to tear the transparent plastic on my map case so I stopped at a post office to fix it with some packing tape. The window clerk also told me where the local eateries were. I stopped in Bob’s next to the trail for the buffet.

About 90 percent on the patrons were way older than me. Everything moved so slowly. I had soup and salad and dessert for $10 because that’s what every meal costs on this trip for some reason. Riding a bike this far makes me crave veggies.

I’ve been meaning to include some corn in this blog so today I’ll get that out of the way.

After Brookville my route took me in roads. There are very few cars to deal with so it’s nearly as peaceful but without any shade. I also had to contend with strong headwinds as the day wore on. I suppose it’s good practice for North Dakota, but ten miles of frustration was plenty. It wasn’t all bad. This covered bridge was pretty cool.

As I neared the Ohio-Indiana state line I thought my readers would like to know the score. It’s Columbus 88, Indianapolis 82.

Not long after taking this picture the sky started to darken. Ominous black clouds loomed. I saw that my maps were taking me on a meandering route to Richmond. I called an audible and turned around. The headwind became a tailwind as I made my way to a highway that went straight into Richmond. Zoom!

It started to rain. The sky was black. I kept slogging along, scanning the roadside for an emergency shelter. Porches, barns, extended waves.

I looked up and saw signs for hotels and restaurants and made a beeline for them. I had intended to camp but this storm was scary looking. I checked into a motel as the skies opened.

Any Road Tour mileage today: 62.5

Total tour mileage: 696.

The headwind made it a tough day but I’m still on schedule.

Any Road Tour – Day 1: who needs a canal anyway?

After a leisurely breakfast I packed my bike and nearly crippled it by getting the rear wheel all messed up with my cargo net. Ten minutes of cussing later, I base farewell to Mrs. Rootchopper and ride off to points north and west.

About five miles into the ride it occurred to me that I had failed to pack and important doodad, my Fiber Fix spoke. It’s a Kevlar cord that can replace a broken spoke, no tools required. So if I break a spoke I’m screwed. Yeah well….

I also forgot to pack a master link for my chain. This makes putting a broken chain together much easier. (Not that I’ve ever done it.)

I suppose I can stop at a bike shop and pick at least one of these items up.

The first 31 miles were a combination of my old bike commute and the old Vasa ride route to Potomac Maryland. A tailwind made the ride up the Mount Vernon Trail to DC a piece of cake.

I made my way along the river and under the Whitehurst Freeway. I passed a restaurant named Mate Sushi and thought of my Argentinian friend who is nuts about both mate and sushi. I carried on to the Capital Crescent Trail and ever so briefly on the C&O Canal towpath. As expected it was quite muddy. I thought about riding it but then decided to climb up to MacArthur Boulevard and use the roads.

I was dreading this short steep climb but it wasn’t so bad. My granny gear got its first of many uses today.

The rest of the ride to The kayakers put in near Old Anglers Inn was routine. I’ve done this ride scores of times.

I took a potty break. The restrooms have a covered sidewalk in front. When I came out, The Mule was dry as rain started to fall. Then skies opened up. I pulled out my bag of trail mix and munched a few handfuls. I can wait…..

The rain abated and I started the mile long climb to the top of Great Falls Park. Granny helped. The rains returned. My rain jacket and the physical effort were keeping me warm if not completely dry.

A left on River Road brought me to miles of big rolling hills. Big gear. Granny gear. Repeat.

I turned into Partnership Road and things got all kinds of farmy. Moo. Grain. Mud.

At Poolesville I stopped for lunch in the Watershed Cafe. I had a “veggie” sandwich (it had cheese in it) and some panther piss. ‘Twas yummy.

I asked the Google to plot a course for Frederick Maryland and so it did. The Google is good like that.

More farms and a few cute towns. I counted three purple houses. What’s up with that? Somehow the ride seemed downhill for miles and miles. And the route cleverly avoided Sugarloaf Mountain. My knees and back were pleased.

Now it was just a race against the rain. The skies grew darker as I rolled through funky Buckeystown.

Pedal, pedal.

I rode past English Muffin Road where Bimbo’s Bakery (I am not making this up) makes the nooks and crannies. I’d actually been to this area on a business trip a year or two ago.

I started seeking hotels but continued on playing chicken with the approaching storm. As raindrops started falling an Econolodge appeared.

As I rolled my bike into my room thunder roared from the dark clouds above. Timing is everything.

So I’m content with shelter, TV (I hope they have the Nats game), WiFi, and a Sheetz next door for fine dining.

68 miles down. 3,900 or so to go.

Any Road Tour: Last Days of Prep

Here’s what I did to get ready to hit the road:

  • Friday – Volunteered for Bike to Work Day in the rain
  • Saturday – Road to and from and during DC Bike Ride in the rain (45 miles). Watched 2 baseball games
  • Sunday – Road to Vienna VA to return Bike to Work Day materials (47 miles). Watched baseball game. Went to concert (Brandi Carlile) at The Anthem in DC.
  • Pulled together everything I’m bring on the tour. Put it in panniers and rode The Mule 1 mile to see if I distributed the weight properly. Mowed the lawn that had made use of a week of rain. Watched my last baseball game at home. (I’d love to go to the ballpark but there’s just no way.)

 

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It weighs a ton. (I am bringing a second water bottle by the way.)

I also kept track of the problems with the C & O Canal towpath. Sort summary: mucho mas. Came up with a workaround to get me beyond the damage and the quagmire. Printed out some routing information that I will need. Did some last minute banking. Obsessively checked the weather forecast for tomorrow. (Rain. Thunderstorms. Typical DC area summer weather.)

So there you have it. Time to put up or shut up. Tomorrow I roll.

 

Any Road to the PNW – Pre-tour Anxiety

Construction, Fires, Floods, and Lions

I can’t sleep. All I can think about is the cascade of things that are going wrong with my bike tour and I haven’t even left home yet. From past experience I know that I have to go all mindful and concentrate on the here and now. This will be easier once I am rolling.

The route I am taking keeps changing and troubles keep arising. First I was worried about road construction on the route west from Missoula Montana. Next I discovered that the passes to the central Cascades in Oregon are compromised from last years wildfires. (Can’t wait for this years. Derp.) Then I found out that the route down the Columbia River gorge to Portland Oregon is partially closed because of more forest fires. This would force me to ride along the Washington State side of the river, missing Multnomah Falls in the process. For the last few days torrential rains have been wiping out the 185-mile C & O Canal towpath from near DC to near Williamsport, at Mile 100. Needless to day, the free camping sites are probably a mess too. This morning I learned that a mountain lion killed a mountain biker about 30 miles east of Seattle.

That’s right fires, floods, and lions. Whose idea was this anyway?

The Packing List

So I have busied myself making a packing list. Here’s what I am bringing.

Camping

  • Two-person tent
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Pillow
  • Bear bag (for keeping carnivores away from my food)
  • Carbiner and nylon rope (to hang the bag)
  • Toilet paper
  • Utensils
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep mask (for hostels)

Personal

  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Medicine
    • Maintenance inhalers (4) (Asthma)
    • Rescue inhalers (1) (Asthma)
    • Eye drops (glaucoma)
    • Aspirin (blood clots)
    • Ibuprofen
    • Nighttime Ibuprofen
  • Sunscreen
  • Ear plugs
  • Chamois cream
  • Back up prescription glasses
  • Book (maybe 2. Probably ancient Tom Wolfe paperbacks)
  • Passport (for going into Canada or boarding a flight if I lose my other ID)

Clothes

  • Bike shorts (3)
  • Technical bike shirts (3)
  • Cotton t-shirt
  • Off -bike shorts
  • Belt
  • Technical underwear for either on or off bike
  • Socks (3)
  • Bike shoes
  • 1 old t-shirt to use as a rag after it gets worn
  • Floppy hat
  • Teva sandals
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunsleeves

Electronics

  • iPhone
  • iPhone cable and charger
  • iPhone earphones
  • Small back up battery
  • Head light
  • Head light charger
  • Taillight belt
  • Taillight belt charger
  • Camera
  • Camera charging cable

Bike Gear

  • The Mule (1991 Specialized Sequoia touring bike)
  • Water bottles (2)
  • Extra water bottle in pannier
  • Four Ortlieb roll top panniers (2 small for the front, 2 large for the rear)
  • Ortlieb medium handlebar bad with map case
  • Bicycling gloves
  • Multitool
  • Tire levers
  • Tubes (3)
  • Folding spare tire
  • Valve adapter
  • Topeak RoadMorph Pump
  • Lube
  • Lock
  • Cables
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape

Other

  • Adventure Cycling Association Maps (14)
  • Rudi’s route to Little Orleans (A cue sheet to circumvent most of the C&O Canal. A very hilly route that I hope not to use.)
  • Trail mix
  • Energy bars/fruit

The new stuff for this tour is underlined. As you can see I have already crossed out a few items. I wouldn’t know what to do with a cable if I had to do a roadside repair so there’s no point in bringing them. And other than the fact that I can take pictures while riding, the camera is kind of useless. I can use my iPhone for photos, and it will force me to stop to take the pictures which is not a bad thing.

The Route

Whether I like it or not, the route is changing as I type. My current thinking is that instead of riding the canal directly west from DC, I use roads to get me about 100 to 110 miles upriver. So on day one will be spent riding on the roads to Fredrick Maryland. I’ll stay in a hotel. This replaces my first C&O Canal day. Day two will involve riding roads west from Fredrick picking up the Canal and the Western Maryland Rail Trail either at Williamsport or beyond and overnighting in Hancock Maryland at mile 125. (The bike shop has a bunkhouse with showers and WiFi and such.) Day three will be 60 miles of mud to Cumberland assuming the the trail is open. If not, the pooch is screwed. But I’ll mix my metaphors and blow up that bridge when I get to it.

Today’s Fun

My anxiety woke me up at 5 a.m. I have to ride 45 miles round trip to Vienna Virginia to return Bike to Work Day materials. I had volunteered to staff a pit stop 1 1/2 miles from my house. What I didn’t know was that I was responsible for picking up and dropping off Bike to Work Day materials for the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), our suburban advocacy group, 23 miles away. This easy volunteering effort ballooned from a 3 hour commitment to about 12 hours. Suffice it to say, I’ll choose my volunteering events more carefully next time. On the plus side, I get to do a shake down ride on The Mule.

When I get home, I’ll watch the Nats game, do some laundry, and go a concert in DC. Hopefully, I can sleep in tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning: Any Road Will Take Me There

  • I’m thinking of naming my bike tour the Any Road Tour. The reason is I can’t seem to decide on a route let alone a destination. And as lyric thief George Harrison said, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
  • So a special note to Tim Jones, Lindsey, and Brittany: I still don’t know if I’ll make it up to the Seattle area. As they say on the Facebook, it’s complicated. I should have a better idea if/when I get up your way in late June when I am somewhere near the Missouri Breaks.
  • The route options go through Missoula, Montana. They are:
    • Ride to Seattle directly from Missoula. Return home around July 22.
    • Ride through Portland then on to Astoria Oregon. Backtrack to Portland. Return home around July 24
    • Ride through Portland then on to Astoria Oregon. Continue north to Seattle. Return home around July 29
    • Ride to central Oregon Coast. Then to Portland. Then to Seattle. (I haven’t mapped this out). Return home around August 6.
    • Ride to central Oregon Coast then to Seattle by way of Astoria. Return home about August 6.
  • All these routes have pluses and minuses. And as Mrs. Rootchopper noted, I could make a separate, month-long tour out of them. (Seattle to Missoula to the central Oregon coast to Portland to Seattle, for example. Or maybe go south to Crater Lake…..)  So this routing uncertainty is a good problem to have.
  • I have met a couple of times with a local bike tourist named Marie. She and her husband Roy did nearly the same tour in 2015 and blogged about it. I didn’t want to read her blog because I thought it might include spoilers, but I finally gave in. It’s wonderfully written and contains all kinds of useful information.
  • I had lunch with Marie the other day. She gave me one of her Adventure Cycling maps of Oregon. And imparted some good advice
    • Feel free to wander from the ACA routes, especially east of the Rockies. There are some surprises, good and bad, to be had. The Google is a pretty good resource.
    • Each county seat in North Dakota has a motel (to sequester juries). So if I get sick of camping I can probably use the Google…
    • I will probably follow their route through the Twin Cities instead of around them. The ACA route goes east from St. Paul, then north, then west. Marie and Roy went northwest and re-connected with the ACA route.
  • Marie and Roy made the trip without camping. Other than staying with a friend or two, they just booked a hotel a day in advance and rode to it. They appeared to average about 2 miles per hour faster than I expect to ride.
  • With the weather finally settling into something resembling spring, I am getting antsy. I still have a few things to take care of for the trip, all of which happen just before I leave.

New Legs

I’ve been dragging ass recently. I try to be mindful of overdoing things but lately I’ve been weight lifting and doing physical therapy and mowing the lawn and sitting in near 90 degree heat at a baseball game. On top of all that, during a recent two-week period, I rode 386 miles. I was worn out.

So I took yesterday off and did nothing physical at all, unless you count binge eating popcorn at the movies. Today I was still feeling a little tired but rode Little Nellie to the gym anyway.

Zoom.

Just one day of rest and my riding speed jumped about 3 miles per hour. I rode 28 miles and did my 40 minute weight training routing. And I feel infinitely better, physically and mentally. (I have no doubt that some of this mental boost is attributable to a Facetime chat last night with my son who lives in Thailand.)

Tonight I sat down and got back to my tour planning. I plotted out two routes.

Option A would take me to Missoula, Montana then northwest to Seattle. This one is 3,735 miles over 60 days. That averages to 63 miles per day. Very doable. I could add 87 miles to ride a bit more in Minnesota (basically to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca). That will add a couple of days.  The advantage of this route is that it passes through the northern Cascades. The disadvantage of this route is that it climbs over six mountain passes. Eek. Also, I wouldn’t actually get to the Pacific Ocean. I’d get to Puget Sound, if my geography serves me correctly.

Option B would take me from Missoula west down the Columbia River gorge to the Pacific coast at Astoria (or on to Cape Disappointment just so I can say I was there). Then I’d ride north to Bremerton, Washington and take a ferry to Seattle. With a few more days of horsing around this version of the trip totals 4,160 miles over 68 days. That works out to 62 miles per day. Doable.

Both of these routes simplify my return logistics considerably. All I have to do is find a place to pack up my bike and have it picked up for shipment home.  I can probably also ship my bike touring gear home with the same service. Then I book a flight and I’m done.

Option C which I have yet to work out would take me south from Missoula and across the middle of Oregon through Eugene to a coastal town called Florence. Then I’d be 180 miles from Portland. I’d have to skip Seattle for this trip.

As Mrs. Rootchopper pointed out earlier this evening, the Pacific northwest would be a pretty good stand alone tour.  Add it to the list!

Rainy Friday, Worth the Ride

Rain. Cold rain. On a Friday morning when most retirees stay in bed. I got up and hit the road a little after 6:30. The rain, blown by a northeast headwind, spit on my face. And I rode. I arrived at Friday Coffee Club (yes, we capitalize it) around 8. The crowd was predictably small, given the crummy weather: Ed, Ricky, Andrea, Jeff, and a player to be named later. (Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.) Ed and Andrea were discussing a 400 kilometer randoneuring event they are participating in tomorrow. (Ed is riding. Andrea is volunteering.) That’s 248 miles (plus 5 because the course designer is a sadist.) In one day or so. I can’t even.

Ed brought a lightly used Brooks Flyer saddle with fancy copper rivets. I bought it from him for my tour. It has lots of room for tension adjustments. My tush should be a happy camper.

After Andrea, Ricky, and the PTBNL left, Ultrarunnergirl made her first appearance of 2018. Yay! I haven’t seen my biking-hiking-baseball-flaming drinks buddy in a very long time. Hugs and smiles. She took the bus because she is nursing a messed up hip. We must get her well for future adventures.

After I left FCC, I rode to the gym and went all Hulk for 40 minutes. Next, I did 20 minutes of physical therapy at home. Then, I went to an acupuncturist down the street.

I had a hard time tuning my ears to my acupuncturist’s heavy Korean accent but with some forbearabce, we managed to get the gist of my problem understood. He examined my tongue and poked various parts of my body. Mostly this was painless, but a couple of pokes in my feet caused sharp pain. (A similar discomfort shortened a Thai massage a few years ago.)

As I lay on my back, He pinned me in my upper left arm and at various other points all over my body. After about 15 minutes, he flipped me over and repeated the process. Acupuncture is rather hocus pocus to me but I have had success with it in the past. I have to say that my arm does feel better this evening. I’ll wait a day or two before declaring the trip a success.

At the end of the appointment, he placed small stickers on spots on my hands. This mark points that I should prod and massage to help my shoulder heal.

When I got home I ordered two new maps from Adventure Cycling. Over coffee, Ed has made the road west out of Missoula sound like bicycle heaven. He said there is a 90 mile gradual downhill that follows a river through the mountains. I stumbled across a blog online that described the shortcut to the Cascades in less than glowing terms. I will use the maps to work out itineraries for both routes.

One of the maps contains a small surprise, a short cut to Missoula from the east. I’ll have to give that a closer look at that. (It probably involves a climb of horrific proportions.)

I think the only way to properly plan for this trip is to go with the flow and see how I feel when I get to Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settling In before Moving On

I confess to be dealing with sporadic pre-tour anxiety. I can feel it welling up inside. And with it comes the little voice of depression. Welcome to the party, old friends.

For the last few days I have been feeling worn out physically. Doubts about my physical ability to ride 4,000 miles started creeping in. Time to apply exercise therapy.

Before jumping on Little Nellie, I raised the saddle about 1/8th of an inch. You’d think this wouldn’t matter much but it does. It felt like a new bike. It felt like it fit me perfectly. And off I went down the road effortlessly. After 7 1/2 miles I arrived at the gym. It was crowded, so I used the machines as they came open instead of following my usual boring routine. When I was done I felt a little queasy. This is a good sign. It means I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. I’m going to need that somewhere around the middle of North Dakota.

After the gym, I went for an easy 18 1/2 mile ride. It felt great, my first enjoyable ride in days. It occurred to me that the arm strength I have developed over the past few months at the gym will vanish by about the time I cross into Ohio on my tour. This is not a bad thing. I need to take weight off the engine before I reach the big mountains out west. If history is a guide, I’ll weigh about 20 pounds less when I reach Montana.

After the ride, I signed up for an acupuncture session at the local spa. The benefits of my physical therapy have reached a plateau. My left arm now has a normal range of motion but I still have pains when I move it in certain ways. So it’s time to shake things up a bit. I had the interesting thought that doing acupuncture while on blood thinners could be rather colorful.

After watching the Nats crush the Giants on TV, I did some further research on the alternate route I am considering between Missoula and the coast. The stretch from Missoula in the lower right through the Flathead Reservation and the Coeur D’Alene National Forest is about 190 miles along Highway 200. It’s a scenic byway with two big climbs and many miles of riding along the Flathead River. What I know is this is a two-land highway with some stretches lacking a paved shoulder. There will be logging trucks and other big metal things to deal with, but I can’t imagine it can be any more intimidating that my route through South Carolina and Georgia last fall.

Alt Route to Anacortes

Once I reach Sandpoint, Idaho, I can pick up the last segment of the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route. The good news is I will have all kinds of information about services. The bad news is that there are several mountain passes that may kill me. I have no experience whatsoever with riding a bike up honest to god mountains. Eek.

Riding up these mountains will be no big deal once I am doing the business of actually riding. These things tend to get cut down to size when you experience them first hand. It’s a bit like painting the peak of the exterior of my house. The 24-foot ladder looked scary as hell from the ground, but once I was at the top with my brush and can all I saw was the siding in front of me. My mind had cut the daunting 18 foot elevation of the side of the house down to a four-foot-by-four-foot chunk. As long as I didn’t do something stupid, I was perfectly safe. The mountains are high, but I am slow and I have all damned day to get over them. Lord willin’ and my blood don’t clot.

I figure the total distance will be about 650 miles. That’s about 11 days, factoring in a couple of short mileage days for climbing.

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Planning – Many Moving Parts

The longer the bike tour, the higher the probability of hitting snags. My trip to Key West was fraught with weather complications. My UP tour presented the possibility of sea sickness on three ferries. Both tours worked out fine.

This tour is twice as long as the Key West tour. I bought some bike touring maps from Adventure Cycling Association. Using these I constructed an itinerary in a Google spreadsheet.

Capture

This is the tab covering the main route. There is an alternate, slightly shorter route in Minnesota. That itinerary is on the MN Shortcut tab.

One thing I discovered is that there are beaucoup camping opportunities, including in city parks, presumably for free. Free is bueno.

I tried to make an itinerary that averages about 60 to 70 miles per day. Each day’s segment is determined by the availability of shelter. Food and water are generally available along the route, with the exception of a 78-mile stretch in Montana. As long as I know this, I can plan accordingly.

My route follows several ACA routes and, by design, goes through Missoula, MT, the home of the ACA. The map, that would guide me from Missoula to Clarkston, Washington along US 12, is out of stock. I did receive an addendum to this map, however. It notes that US 12 in Idaho will be closed intermittently for 50 miles this summer. Adventure Cycling is working with the Idaho DOT to figure out how to get its members through the construction zone.

I called Adventure Cycling for more information. They didn’t have much to say other than they are still trying to work something out with the Idaho DOT people. I guess they don’t call it adventure for nothing.

I do have a viable option, albeit one that pretty much rules out stopping in Missoula or riding through Oregon. This one would simply follow the ACA Northern Tier route across the top of Montana, Idaho, and Washington, ending in Anacortes, Washington. This is conveniently close to a high school friend’s home which I was planning on going to anyway. It is also at least 200 hundred miles shorter than the route I have been working on. So depending on how the US 12 situation plays out, I may just call an audible and take the northern route.

And another thing. I learned this morning that my son, who lives in Thailand, is thinking about coming home for a few weeks in July. He would be bringing his girlfriend, whom I have never met. So for obvious reasons I’d like see him while he’s here. Unfortunately, July coincides with my route being in the middle of nowhere. As the Christmas song says, I’ll have to muddle through somehow.

 

 

Tour Prep Begins

Today was the day I planned to take some baby steps to get ready for my bike tour to the Pacific northwest. It turns out it was a good thing I started today.

To kick things off the Post Office made a surprise delivery of the Adventure Cycling Association bike maps I ordered last week. I now have all but one of the maps I’ll use on my trip. (The missing map was out of stock.) With a block of a couple of hours, I can make a day by day plan of the trip using the info on the maps.

img_1057.jpg
Just follow the directions and your dreams will be fulfilled

Next, I put new tires on The Mule, my 1991 Specialized Sequoia. I am using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. The ones on the bike were still in decent condition but I didn’t want to worry about having my tires wear out in the middle of nowhere. The new ones took some convincing to get on. Then I took the bike for a test ride. The tires felt fine and so did the bike. This bike owns me.

Unfortunately, my bike computer had a battery light on, indicating that one of the two batteries was low. I guessed that the one needing replacement was on the pick up which is mounted to the right fork blade. I rode the Mule to the drug store and bought a new battery. When I went to install the battery I learned that the screw-on cover to the battery compartment was stripped.

I rode to my local bike shop. They confirmed that the cover could not be removed. They did have, however, a replacement and they gave it to me for free. I rode home and installed it. No matter what I did I couldn’t get the computer to get a signal from the pick up. I think perhaps the reason the bike shop had this part lying around was that it didn’t work.

IMG_1059
This thing basically wasted a Sunday afternoon

In the course of all this messing around, I found out a couple of other problems. The strap to the right toe clip was frayed and the metal clasp was rusted. So I replaced the strap with one from an old pair of pedals I had lying around. Of bigger concern was the fact that my right front brake pad was not releasing from the rim. Last fall I had paid a mechanic to take care of issues like this but apparently it was beyond his ken.

IMG_1060
They used to make these out of leather. Yeah, well.

So tomorrow, it’s back to the local bike shop for a new bike computer and some brake maintenance. You would think that a brake mechanism would last more than 27 years and 45,500 off miles, but nooooo!

Another thing I discovered is that my leather saddle is almost out of adjusting room on the tensioning bolt. The saddle feels fine riding around the neighborhood but I had some very unpleasant perineal nerve pain during my last two tours. So I think I will check out a new Brooks Flyer saddle to replace this one.

I was planning on test riding this bike next Saturday during a 50-mile event ride but that doesn’t look likely now. Drat.

I am considering starting a separate blog just for the trip. Stay tuned.

One final bit of planning that I need to do is to come up with a name for the tour. Hmm…

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