New Shoes

This week, I received the Resist Nomad tires in 42mm (actual) width.

Last night, I escaped to do a 45 min romp among the neighborhood to test the rigors of what the tires would see. I sought out gravel, right asphalt, grass, even jumping off uneven sidewalks. It was nice to not worry about the ills that tires usually suffer from these conditions and just have fun. I felt exhilarated.

Due to my busy work schedule I haven’t done a morning ride yet but, tomorrow looks promising for a direct comparison. It seems as though the rolling resistance is more from what I’m used to. The higher volume tires might be the cause of that perhaps.

Some pictures..look to do better shots soon.

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Tire2

Pertinent Questions

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned the need to be faster with the different people and landscape Birmingham presents me with. Since then, I’ve become concerned with being, shall we say, swift . In short, I have gotten at least a tad faster, even among the hills. In fact, I have gained a thousand feet on my rides with the same ride time. Going up hills faster than ever has been eye-opening.

I have to admit though, on an overall standpoint I don’t care for it, due to my fault entirely. Now, I like that there is less “stuff” on the bike. But, being faster has made me think of things like wanting to buy bib shorts and jerseys, being Strava obsessed, counting grams in my tires, and even wanting a bike with racing geometry. Stuff that isn’t me.

Only a few years young with being in love with cycling, I suppose it is only natural to sway back and forth about what it is I want from the hobby. A few things are constant –  the camaraderie with others, seeing surroundings in a different light, and the benefits of being more fit and healthy.

While I am teetering on finding my own path, my mind repeatedly goes back to a post Mary at Chasing Mailboxes posted several months ago in her “On Writing & Riding” series. In this post, she interviewed Nicholas Carman of Gypsy By Trade. Particularly this caught my attention:

More importantly, I got tired of the classic friction wool lugged steel lobby, even though I have chosen to use a lot of this equipment. The idea is to make my own decisions, and to share them with others.

I write somewhere on the blog: “I am perpetually infatuated with bikes; old bikes, new technology that makes life better, and cheap creative solutions to problems. I love bikes, but they aren’t sacred. Make your bike better for you. Make it yours.”

Full Interview

At first, I was a little taken back that Nick would work at VO then make these comments. But he is right. We should build our bikes to our needs. Not build them according to what the manufacturer routinely shows in their bike catalogs.

I had to get over my own bike build. My pretty Honjo fenders and rear Constructeur rack were on my bike at a point when I did not need them. After much contemplating, I removed them. But, why was it so hard? What was I holding onto? I was holding onto the “idea” of what my bike should look like, not what would allow me to have the most fun and be most functional. Editors note: I’m probably just going to put on a rear clip on fender or SKS fenders. *gasp*

Coming full circle, I’m reminding myself, “What is it that I want from cycling?” and “How can I make this MY bike?”. After all, when I truthfully answer these questions, that is when I am going to experience the fullest extent of this great lifestyle. It might be easier if I could drop some money for another bike to satisfy my different tastes when I wake each morning. But then, I wouldn’t be answering these pertinent questions before me.

Things Change

Things change, including bicycles. I’ve decided to go ahead and change the Campeur into more of an all-round bike than it was previously.

The beautiful fenders, the non-rusting rear rack, the classic bell were removed. There is simply no need for these items as Birmingham. Respectfully, the summers are dry, needing to carry more than absolutely necessary is minimal, and there are no pedestrians to speak of. I also need to be faster with all of the exclusive road cyclists in these parts.

So far, I’m loving the feel of less weight and more lively frame. On its way are some new tires by the company, Resist. Model is the Nomad. What’s awesome is that the width will be (actual) 41mm compared to my present 33mm.

Pictures of the tires soon, but for now..

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Saturday Mornings

Saturday mornings have become my favorite day of the week. This past Saturday was pretty solid as well. I headed out to the usual fog and humidity and arrived downtown on 2nd Ave S around 6:30. As I headed east, the morning sun which had been hiding for the past several weeks showed itself off. The warehouse district I pass through on my rides is pretty neat as I pass through Pepper Place and other mid 20th century signage that for some reason is still in relatively good condition.

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Next stop, I decided to explore a little more and went to the Sloss Furnace rail bed. Sloss was a major iron plant producer back to even Reconstruction days. The stop turned out to be the perfect place to bring Walt later on in the day to check out the Diesel Train Engines.

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Turning South toward Red Mountain I decided to take another route to go over this large hill (in other parts of the country). The past route over this mountain is quite busy on some mornings. This time I took a road with awesome views and even a switchback or two. This route also features an alley road. There are many of these types of roads here for some reason. They’re in between a driveway and an actually road and mainly serve as a connection between larger streets and groups of houses. I love riding them because their so intimate in setting and no traffic to speak of (immediately below).

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And back down.

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Per usual, I then met the family at Continental Bakery. This bakery resides in English Village and has some of the best bake goods I have ever had as well as coffee provided by Octane. I’m not a foodie either so that’s probably a reliable statement. :)

Equipment-wise, I received some VO Alloy handlebar plugs today to replace my existing Whiskey bottle corks that were used. Like ’em.

Other Changes

Lately, I’ve been mentioning some changes in my daily rides. Of course, there are other changes having just moved across the country.

First and foremost. My home is the South. It will always be my rock to lean on, a friend I am most familiar with. It has its own personality, but one that is so often misconstrued and manipulated. My past few weeks here have reminded me that the people are its most precious commodity, all else is second.

Too, the cicadas and fireflies have greeted me several weeks earlier than the past few years. What a difference a small change of latitude does to nightly events. The lightening storms have rocked our humble abode many times as well. I could count on my fingers how many times a storm like that happened around DC in my time there. These (almost) weekly occurrences have forced the trees to become strong at their base to be able to bend and not break, I’m sure of. I however am still getting used to the greenery around Birmingham compared to the Beltway. In many instances, most of my rides end up being on roads that remind me of Oak Alley or what my 2 yr old son says, “tree tunnels”. I like it.

One of my closest friends, humidity, always makes an appearance. I’m not sure why I love it so much. When I describe it to folks where they don’t usually experience it, I always tell them that it is like a warm blanket. Probably not the best analogy though I admit. It is nearly 90% each day and nearly 100% in the mornings. Like an old friend, we seem to get each other and have the same relationship as it once was.

Hindsight can’t help but be close to 20/20. In many ways, I never got used to the concrete jungle in DC. I was never quite at rest even though I had a terrific church family and epic cycling community. However, the experience there was undoubtedly spectacular for my career and developing social skills I lacked. In some ride thoughts last week, I was thinking how this Southern boy got a swift kick in the ass when moving to DC. The Beltway taught me how to get around on my own two legs, to figure out how to get the job done even though often times it wasn’t entirely the most popular or easy choice and certainly not what I was used to. At the same time, I thought “every Yankee should live in the South and vice-versa”. Society-speaking, these two worlds don’t often collide in the most positive way and that’s really too bad. We can learn a lot from each other.

I continue to be amazed of what transitions I am making but also how easy it is. Picking up where I left off is odd at times. Per usual, I only notice these changes on my long rides where I can replay recent events. Per usual again, it’s by riding my bicycle that I think most clearly. Until seeing my last change, I plan to lean, turn and pedal my way over low mountains and green valleys in the deep South.