It’s Hard to Like April

Mostly, April 2018 will fade from memory, because nobody wants to think about cold, wet, windy weather. April did have a few high points. For a start, my pulmonlogist was pleased with my recovery and backed off the prospect of leaving me on blood thinners for years or maybe even forever. She also lowered the dosage of my asthma medicine. And hopes to further lower it when I get back from my bike tour.

My bike tour planning is going along very well. I received several bike maps from the Adventure Cycling Association a few weeks ago. This allowed me to plan my trip as far as Missoula, Montana. There are numerous options for the rest of the trip to the coast. The southern route goes through central Oregon and follows the Adventure Cycling Transamerica Route. The middle route follows their Lewis and Clark route down the Columbia River gorge, through Portland, and on to the coast. Both these routes are encumbered 50 miles on road construction through the Lochsa River valley. In this corner, Felkerino, who is a man of many miles, advises that this road is awesome and contains a continuous downhill stretch of over 90 miles. In the opposite corner is Andrea, a woman of many miles too who rode the Northern Tier from Seattle east. She (and some commenters on this blog) both say the Cascades are awesome.

Two more maps arrived today from Adventure Cycling. One is for the missing segment from Missoula to the western edge of Oregon on the Lewis and Clark. The other is the segment of the Northern Tier that goes through the Cascades. To get to the start of that route, I’d need to ride a truck route along the Flathead River. I’ll plan both routes out and wait until I get out west before finalizing the way to the coast.

Getting back to my health, I did an acupuncture treatment last week that has done my left arm and shoulder a world of good. Yesterday I rode a 52-mile event ride called Breaking the Cycle. It was cold. The first 28 miles were uphill into a headwind. I rode The Mule as a test ride for the tour. It did fine except for some chain skipping on the cassette (which I had tended to today). At Friday Coffee Club last week, I bought a Brooks Flyer saddle from Felkerino. I mounted it too flat and spent much of the ride sliding my butt back to the rear of the saddle. This caused pain in my bad shoulder. Today I tipped the nose of the saddle up just a bit and my shoulder is happy again. So happy in fact that today’s visit to the gym involved two machines that I have avoided for over a month. So I cancelled tomorrow’s physical therapy session in a fit of optimism.

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The Mule at the Turn Around Point

A word of warning about acupuncture, if you don’t want to look like a junkie, you might want to avoid acupuncture if you are on blood thinners.

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The Golden Arm

Near the end of April, the sun came out. The trees and grass did their thing and we got to enjoy a shit ton of pollen. This is my car today.

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There was one excellent thing that happened in April, I went to three baseball games! On my bike, of course. I missed catching a home run at the first game. The Nats lost. At the second game I nearly killed my buddy Kevin with a nacho bomb. The Nats lost.

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At the third game, I avoided batted balls and gut bombs but the Nats still lost. I sense a disturbing pattern.

Despite its crummy weather, April did give me my biggest mileage month of the year. I rode 27 out of 30 days for a total of 789 miles during the month. For the year, I’ve ridden 2,743 miles. That’s a pretty decent foundation for what lies ahead.

 

Nice Day for an Aborted Ride

I decided to work from home today. I made the decision a week ago. The weather was perfect. Shorts and t-shirts in early March. Enjoy climate change while you can because its’ gonna suck when all those tropical diseases work their way north.

At lunchtime, I decided to go for a quick ride. My first excursion was 1 1/2 miles on The Mule to test out the work done by Spokes Etc. last week. I was a little worried that the chainrings, which I chose not to replace, might not play nicely with the new chain. No worries. The bike is much faster now with a bottom bracket that isn’t rusted and brakes that don’t stick to the25558893832_3b67da08cb_m.jpg rim.

Once that was taken care of I planned to go for a quick jaunt on my Cross Check which I haven’t ridden in months. Off we went. Then I felt the saddle, a Brooks Flyer made of leather, wobble. I took a look and found that the tensioning bolt was bent. This meant that the bolt could snap at any minute. I tried tightening the bolt and headed out for a ride anyway. I made it about a mile from home when the bolt snapped.

Sad face.

I sent it to a bike shop in Seattle that repairs Brooks saddles. They repaired the saddle on The Mule and they did a good job.

I put the Flyer saddle from Little Nellie on the Cross Check because I am taking Little Nellie in for service on Saturday. I put a Brooks B67 on Little Nellie just to keep the seat hardware in place.

Swing and a Miss at a Disc Trucker

I began the day by riding a couple of miles to the stone bridge on the George Washington Memorial Parkway to watch the annual 10 mile road race. I didn’t properly know anybody running. I knew a friend of a friend was running. That was it. The spectators on the bridge with me were cheering and yelling at the runners.  I didn’t see the friend of a friend. I doubt she recognized me. I did see one of my regulars from my bike commute. She’s a runner that recently had a baby. She was MOVING! I yelled, “GO MOM!” I don’t think she knew I was yelling at her though. After the race I learned that @ultrarunnergirls running buddy Teresa had run. Never saw her either.

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I rode home after most of the runners had gone past.

Then I put The Mule on the car and drove to Spokes to buy the Surly Disc Trucker. After I posted yesterday about my buying excursion, I received tweets from several people who are really happy with their Surly bikes.

The reason for bringing The Mule was to compare dimensions with the new bike and to cannibalize parts. As soon as I put the bikes side by side I saw a problem. The Disc Trucker was the same size as The Mule, 56 cm. I test rode it two times. With the saddle that came with the bike, it was a pretty nice ride, especially after we raised the handlabrs a touch. Past experience says that my bottom only wants to ride on leather. When I put my Brooks Flyer leather saddle on it, the ride became uncomfortable. I could not get the Flyer’s seat back far enough. This is exactly the problem I’ve had for 24 years with The Mule. After trying to tweak things to make the bike work for me, we gave up. Both the sales clerk and a mechanic agreed that the bike was a tad too small. They will try to locate a 58 cm bike. In the meantine I’ll be riding The Mule from Pittsburgh to DC.

Suffice it to say, I am really frustrated and disappointed. Never the less, it’s worth it to take a few weeks to make sure I can get a better fit with a slightly larger frame. Lord willin’, I’ll be riding this bike for a decade or more.

Old Saddle Made New

If you look at the picture at the top of my blog, you’ll see The Mule, my Specialized Sequoia bicycle. The saddle is a Brooks Flyer, a leather saddle that costs over $100.  Look at how the saddle sags in the middle. It’s not supposed to do that. Underneath the nose of the saddle is a tensioning bolt that you can use to tighten the leather and remove the sag. You can use it, if it isn’t broken. Mine was.

I finally decided to replace the saddle. My new saddle is another Flyer and it works fine. On a whim I search the Interwebs to see if I could get my old saddle repaired. I found this place in Seattle and decided to give them a try. I mailed them my saddle and in a couple of days I received an email from them saying it was done. I sent them the money for the repair and return shipping and a few days later it arrived.

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Old saddle with sag removed. Looks like new except for the matte finish to the leather
Underside of saddle with new bolt installed
Underside of saddle with new tensioning bolt installed

Other than the fact that the leather is no longer shiny like a new saddle, I can hardly tell the difference between the two. The leather on the old saddle is softer to the touch and since comfort is king, it went back on the bike. I’ll ride the bike and see how the repaired saddle holds up.

The repair shop does other repairs to Brooks saddles. Sadly if the leather is torn you’re out of luck. Also, there is the possibility that the leather will tear during the repair. Caveat sella.

By the way, I now have two extra Brooks saddles. It would be a shame for them to go to waste. There is only one thing to do….buy two new bikes. 🙂