Monday, April 19, 2010

Biking - 21 miles loaded, with hills, wind, a dog chase, teenaged yokels, and a rush-hour roundabout

Over the weekend, I finished a first cut at my TransAm packing list, and got everything packed, weighed, and loaded on the bike. The total comes in around 45-50 pounds, plus 2-3 quarts of water, so between 50 and 55 total. Not too horrible. Today, I took the bike out for what was intended to be a test ride, to see how things balanced and how the load handled in general. It was going so well that I threw that plan out the window. Though it predictably handled like a truck, the ride was smooth and manageable, with no shimmy or any other issues. This now became a training ride.

I decided to try my usual climbing loop up Grant Hill Road, with its maximum 13% grade.

After turning west onto Old State Road, a small dog gave chase, the first of the season. Fortunately, it was a flat stretch, and the heavy bike responded well to my kicking things up a notch or two. When I first started up Grant Hill, my front derailleur wouldn't drop me into the low ring, so I backed up, tweaked the limit screw, and restarted. All was fine now, and I made it up the hill with one cog to spare, though it's a relatively short climb. At the top of the hill, the wind came into play for the rest of the ride, though it wasn't as bad as on many previous days. With local schools now getting out, there seemed to be a spate of young yahoos yelling obscenities or leaning on the horn, but I just gave all of them friendly waves and no fingers. The last challenge was a busy roundabout at Curry and Carman Roads. I've done this one several times, but never at this time of day. I was able to merge, fly on through, and wave to those waiting to enter. All it takes to get respect is to give a little yourself.

It was a good ride, and though I still need to cut some weight, I think I'm close, and this current configuration worked well.

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