Thursday, July 28, 2011

Two pictures are worth whatever number of words I normally write.

Ride statistics for yesterday

Weather statistics for the ride. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Early morning battery going down.

I rode in today, and I thought I'd share my ride with you. First, I was very excited to see that the trail passing under 75 at Renner is complete. I rode down there in March to check on the progress and found this:
Unfinished trail in March

This morning I checked again, and was happy to find this:
Finished path under Central Expressway
I happily rode under Central and through Richardson, once again enjoying my private superhighway to the office. I rarely see any riders until I hit the UT Dallas campus, and today was no different. Sometimes I feel like all of these paths and lanes are too good to be true, and wonder how cities can afford to make this trail system just for me. 

After Richardson it's on to Dallas and the Cottonwood trail. I love the path that runs underneath the High Five, but lately I've seen more and more people living under the bridge down there. They leave me alone, but I have the sneaking suspicion that they are responsible for the obstacle course of broken glass that I find on the trail once or twice a week. On that note, if you are riding a trail and see someone coming from the opposite direction, give them a heads up about the glass. Please. 

After my duel with the troll glass, I come to my favorite bridge. Most mornings, when I don't stop, I see a couple of cranes who are nesting below. Today I stopped and of course saw no cranes. 
In this picture: no cranes.
After this bridge I shoot through a neighborhood and to the second underpass the city built for me. 
This takes me under Forest, which is bizzay. 
This new trail takes me under Forest lane and connects me with the White Rock Trail. Until they opened this underpass I used to have to cross Forest at the Park and Ride - where I was competing with buses, Forest Lane, and traffic coming out of the Racetrac. Now I shoot under all of that and come to my other favorite new bridge. 
Also, no cranes. 
This bridge takes me to the White Rock Trail, and in a few minutes I am at my office. When I get to my office, my Runkeeper app looks like this (this is door to door mileage). 
Suck it, Contador.
And then I immediately get this message: 
Why can I not buy a spare battery? 
I was using the GPS for my speedometer, and the 3g to listen to the radio, but I think it's a little silly that a fully charged iPhone can't last more than an hour doing those two things. 

I hope you enjoyed our ride today. I will probably ride home in the heat, because after this weekend, 14 miles at 105 degrees should be a breeze.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grab baggin'

I'm just going to wing a post because I don't have anything in the pike right now, and I don't want things to get dusty around here.

I had to do some work at the office on Saturday, so I rode up with the plan to go on a longer ride after I finished my "business time". I rode the usual 14 miles in, did my work, and then went on the trails to spend a couple of hours and rack up some miles. My office is at Forest and 75, and there is an "exit" on the White Rock Trail  right down the street from us here at the world headquarters.  They recently completed the connection between the Cottonwood trail and the White Rock here under Forest Ln, and it makes my commute a ton easier; I no longer have to fight Dart, disinterested drivers, and the angle of the sun at the intersection of Forest and Schroder. I can shoot under the busy road and hop right off the trail and be at my office.

On Saturday, I got on the WRT and rode as far as it would take me. For most of the ride, until I got to White Rock Lake, I didn't really see anyone else on the trail, I assume because it was so hot. Once I got to White Rock, there were a few people around, but not as many as usual; once again, because riding was almost like riding through an oven. I went around the lake, then hooked up with the trail as it headed downtown. It was here that I really had some privacy; I rode to the end of the trail and only saw one other rider, and no runners at all. If you haven't been down to the far end of the WRT, as the trail comes to its end, it is not shaded - it was like riding on my own superheated superhighway - though I did run out of water and refreshments as I approached the end of the trail. Well, I guess I'm exaggerating there; I didn't run out as much as the liquids in my bottles got hot. Very warm tapwater level hot. I kept drinking my hot liquids to stay hydrated, but I was not refreshed, and I could almost feel my core temperature increasing. I didn't find any refreshment stations on the trail, so I wobbled off of the trail at the park and ride on Forest and hit the Racetrac for water and a snack.
My Route - Thanks new speedometer. 

I must confess that I really ride for these moments; when I am completely shot, covered in salt, uncoordinated and wondering why I am doing such stupid things to myself. At that moment, when I get the first couple of bites of the candy and the first sweet sips of ice cold water, I can actually feel the goodness from them flooding into my tired cells, and all of those cells sighing in relief. That moment is like no other. I finished my pit stop and rode my route home. When I finished my day, I had ridden over 40 miles over the course of a very hot afternoon. I know that may not sound like a lot of miles to some of my readers, but it's plenty in Dallas from 2-5 pm in July. When I got home, my wife whisked me off to Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Garland. I refueled and fell asleep not too many hours later on Anna's bedroom floor, tired, full of chicken, and counting this among my "good days".
Babe's Garland

On another note, I found an original catalog scan for my Raleigh International. The few that have an interest in this can click the photo to make it big.
Original Catalog Scan

I am trying to decide what to do for my birthday this year; there is a metric century ride here in Plano on Oct. 1 to benefit the  "Make a Wish" foundation. I rode it last year and it was nice, but a little Frederiffic. I am considering making the drive to KC with Anna in tow to ride the Tour De BBQ instead. It should be a little cooler up north, I love BBQ, and I have never ridden in KC, so it might be fun. I ride a good portion of the Wish 100 on my weekend rides, so I am leaning towards the Tour. If I decide that, I'll be hitting you up for donations to help me raise money to fight cancer. Thanks for joining me for my grab bag today, and I will try to have something more substantial for you to read soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour De Garland

I heard through the grapevine not too long ago that the Garland Shopping Center was being torn down so that an IHOP and some other chain stores could be put in. Now, there was nothing of note in the GSC anymore (at least not that know of) but I spent a lot of time there when I was in high school, and I figured the news was a good enough excuse for a nice ride over there to check it out - and see what else had changed in my old stomping grounds. I never get over to Garland anymore, and I certainly hadn't ridden a bike there since I got my license.

Garland High School, Garland, TX

My first stop was at Garland High School, about 11 miles into the ride. I am a Garland "Ex", but haven't been back for a long time. I took the picture in front of the only part of the school I recognized, really; they have built up GHS a lot. I am pleased that they did it right and maintined the same spanish style of the rest of the  building, but I am amazed at the size of the campus now - it is huge, and extends right to the front parking lot. When I attended, there was nothing between teacher's parking and the front parking lot other than trees and grass. The campus feels crowded now; I always liked the big grass field out in front . I stopped for a picture and to eat an orange, then moved on.
All That's Left of the Garland Shopping Center

My next stop was the former site of the Garland Shopping Center. All that is left now is the sign above, which I believe is being kept up (and hopefully restored) for the new shopping center. When I was in high school, I used to eat at a little cafe that sat underneath the sign, and I used to shop in the strip mall that the arrow pointed to. I have always loved the GSC sign, and consider it one of the few real "landmarks" in Garland. I spent a lot of hours during my high school years shopping at the two thrift stores in the center. I remember there being lines of old ten speeds out in front of the Salvation Army store then, and now I wonder how many great bicycles I walked past in my rush to buy a worn out sportscoat or pair of black shoes.

The approximate spot I used to eat

As I mounted up to ride away after taking photos of the sign, I realized that while the cafe was long gone, the floor was still there. I have long ago forgotten the name of the cafe, but the taste of the open faced roast beef sandwich they used to serve is still talked about fondly by my taste buds. I stopped to snap a quick photo of "my booth" - I ate at the cafe at least once a week from when I got my license until the place closed down after my junior year, and I aways ate in the same booth. The tiles are still there, but I'd bet that I'm one of the few who remembers the food at the cafe.

Downtown Garland
After checking out what was left of the shopping center, I shot over to downtown Garland, where I was shocked by all of the development; there are a ton of "mixed use" apartments with shops down below and living up top. I recognized very little of downtown Garland at all. The square is still there, but it's kind of marginalized by all of the new development. It seemed to me that the renovated performing arts center is the focal point of downtown now. Then again I was just passing through. After downtown I went to visit my first place of employment to have a limeade and a coney - the Sonic I worked at when I was 15 hasn't changed a whole lot. Ah, the stories I could tell about my 6 months of employment here...

Me at Sonic - no employee discount, now or back then.

when I finished my lunch, I rode over to my first Texas elementary school, Shorehaven. My family moved to Garland from Iowa when I was in third grade, and this was my first introduction to Texas (and Texas women - I was "going" with a girl by the end of the year). I don't remember all that much about going to school here, except that I had my first male teacher ever, and that our class planted a tree at the end of the year. As I had hoped, the tree was stil there, so I grabbed some skateboarding hooligans and had them take my photo. Luckily they didn't steal my camera. 
The last time I saw this tree, it had just been transplanted from a cofee can.

After that surprisingly nostalgic tree visit, I rode over to check out the house I grew up in. To be honest, I was a little leery of this part of the trip, because the last time I visited the family homestead a decade ago, I was saddened to see it in a terrible state of disrepair, with a hole in the garage and the fence knocked down. This time the house was in better condition, and had been refurbished since my last visit. I planted a tree at this house with my Dad, and after explaining who I was and why I was here to a neighbor who was out in his yard, he agreed to snap a photo of me with my other tree.

There is a time capsule that I buried in 1985 under my feet somewhere.

I grew up looking out of the window over my left shoulder, and decided to become a big time web blogger while sitting in that room in approximately 1989. It's been a long road here, but I have ascended. I finished up being the creepy stranger lurking in these people's lawn, hopped on the bike, and went for a super nostalgic spin through the neighborhood. When I was younger, I was free to travel the whole area, as far as my wheels could take me.  I started in the residential streets on my BMX, but as I got older and graduated to ten speeds, I made my way all over the northern 'burbs. However, the neighborhood was where I first discovered freedom, and there was one spot I used to test my BMX mettle; the cement hill. The cement hill was a nice cement ramp that was tucked away at the far end of the development, and it was great for doing tricks, and was a forbidden zone by lots of parents. In fact, when my brother got old enough to ride he and his friends went down to the cement hill and got caught - and I was "babysitting" them, so got in big trouble. I had no awareness that the hill was forbidden, or even that he had gone there. I wasn't a good babysitter.

The fabled cement hill. 

The hill is now overgrown, and it is blocked by a steel fence like this on both sides. It's also surrounded by a ton of houses now, so it doesn't feel as secret as it did back then. There is a kind of hidden park in the trees across the ramp, or there was when I was a kid. I wanted to see if it was still there, but I didn't have a lock, and didn't feel like dragging my bike over the barricade so I just took a photo of the overgrown hill for my brother to see. If I were 12 again I would certainly never hesitate to climb that fence, but not today. I mounted up one more time and made a run for Plano, and home. I rode past my parents second house (where I never lived) and my first apartment complex, but I didn't stop at either one. The ride home from the cement hill was a little over 18 miles, and I made really good time back to Plano, but then promptly misplaced all of the photos I took until July, when I am finishing this post. So those sharp eyed readers who noticed my jacket and asked themselves how I could wear one in this heat, there is your answer. The ride was fun, and I'm good on visiting Garland for the next decade or so, I think. Look for another post like this in 2021. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

1973 Raleigh International - last one.

I found a price list that Raleigh sent to dealers online; you can see that the bike I recently added to my collection retailed for $350. This is interesting to look at because of what the bike was; it was a hand brazed, high end example of the framebuilder's art, built in what remined of a small shop that had been swallowed up by a giant company that was at it's height, but soon to come upon hard times. The components on the bike were the best in their day, but their time on the top of the heap was limited; Japanese component manufacturers like Shimano and SunTour were nipping at their heels by building quality parts that funcioned well and were much cheaper than Euro components, thus lowering the price of dependable cycling for the masses. 

This list is confidential, so be cool.

1973 was the very heart of the bike boom with 15 million bikes sold that year - and in 1973 more and more  of those bikes were wearing Shimano and Suntour gear than Campagnolo. Campy was the ne plus ultra - but Shimano Dura Ace/Crane was nearly as beautiful, and certainly as functional, but most importantly were available. Euro component manufacturers were overwhelmed by the demands of the boom, and that gave the Japanese companies a toe hold in the market - one that soon turned to dominance. 

 Hubbard's 1973 Schwinn World, complete Crane/Dura Ace. Hub has short legs.

So in a way, the Raleigh is very representative of the end of European dominance in cycling manufacture - within 6 years of the 1973 International's release, Raleigh was reorganized and partially owned by Huffy, no longer the great company it once was, riding the fumes of it's good name. Campagnolo released a new group in 1973, but wouldn't release a new gruppo for another decade - while the Japanese quality continued to get better even as costs continued to fall. The two Japanese giants Suntour and Shimano slugged it out, squeezing a big part of the market away from the european component manufacturers - through lower prices and innovation. The International heralded the end of an era, though no one knew it at the time.

1973 Raleigh International with complete Campagnolo gruppo.

This will be the last post about this bike for a while - I know you are all bored with this crappy old green 10 speed. Not too long ago I took a "Tour De Garland" through my old stomping grounds, and I finally found the photos I took on the ride. The ride was fun, if a little bittersweet, but I'll finish that post soon.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

American Picker? Piker!

So after I made my Home Depot trip, with the bike in the back of the car, I then had to go home and work on the laundry room. My find sat in the back of my Jeep until about nine o'clock, when I was able to pull it out and spend some quality time examining my new purchase and learning about it; so I can tell you something about it.

Before I tell you any more about my ride, let me tell you about my collecting sickness; I don't just get as many as I can when I collect something, I make a list of what I want my collection to represent, or what things I'd like to have in my collection in order to make it whole. That's not to say I am disciplined when it comes to collecting; I'll buy lots of stuff I regret buying during my learning phase, but that buying helps me to learn about what I want my core collection to be. I've done it with books, baseball cards, coins, and anything else I have collected. I have a lot of bikes now (as you have seen if you read this with any regularity) and most of the bikes on my "list" are covered, with the exception of some "dream" bikes; a bike from the year I was born, a  bike with a full  Campy group, and a frame with fancy chrome lugs or a chrome frame.

This bike, with one fell swoop, pretty much finishes out my collection. It's a 1973 Raleigh
International equipped with a full Campagnolo group and special one year only chromed
"Capella" lugs. In 1973 this was a $350 dollar bike, in a time when the average joe made $90 -
$100 a week. Today these bikes (and the gruppo hanging off of them) are
highly sought by enthusiasts, and are often considered "grail" bikes because they
are hard to find and have all of these great attributes, and are fairly rare. My International has seen better days, but it is a survivor, and I like all of the scars it's acquired over the years. The guy I bought it from said he bought it from "an old man" - I assume that the old guy bought it new, rode it, let his kids and grandkids ride it, and then just saw it as some old bike to sell to the day laborer.

I  see it as a treasure.

Clicky for Big 

 I rewrapped the bars with cloth

Chrome stays and Campagnolo NR 
I found a very dry Brooks Pro underneath the cover

You can see some of the scrapes the bike has sustained over the years - one of the brake hoods was cut to facilitate a mirror, and you can see the considerable chips on the top tube. The above photos were taken after I cleaned the bike up - while it is a little beat up, it's the same age I am, and I'm not exactly minty fresh anymore. Just like this special old bike, I have my share of scars, and I wear them proudly. I will write more about his bike later, but I didn't want to keep you all in suspense anymore.