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.


New Start

It’s been a crazy month for me. My family and I moved to Birmingham, Alabama only a couple of weeks ago. Reason was to be near both of our families and to support a growing family, almost impossible in our situation in Northern Virginia. We were originally from Birmingham so moving back is easy.

I however was not even close to being a cyclist when I lived here about 4 years ago. Learning the city again by bicycle is something that’s been pretty eye opening and I already am learning new roads. A few of things have changed though for my daily ride – road surface, elevation and length of ride which might change the style I have lived with for quite a while.

The road surface, wow, not even close to being good, even by VDOT’s low standards. The Grand Bois rear tired successfully received a slow flat today. Much of the roads here are narrow and dark due to the many trees hanging overhead; seeing these potholes and dips/dives can be a challenge. The two lane roads going through much of the town offer no shoulder either so bailing out is not an option most of the time.

Elevation is also a huge change. I knew there were hills here but never conquered them like I do now. In fact, my eventual morning ride will see 1250 elevation gain over 18 miles according to Ride With GPS. My normal elevation gain in NoVa was 900 over 23 miles – most of that being a 13 mile very gradual climb. Anyways, just to say the hills here are brutal and there is absolutely no escaping them within the city limits from what I have found. Nice views though..

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The length of ride I normally am used to is 23 miles. That was my daily work commute. Now, working from home and my current location will most likely have me doing maybe 20 miles each ride at most (I’m sure I can pick up an extra 2 miles somewhere for my morning ride). I have a feeling that my rides will be cut down to perhaps 3 rides a week. At least until I get myself settled in the new digs. This isn’t something I’m proud of but I have to remind myself that there are more important things in life than to keep up with mileage, although that’s not fun!

The flat I received today has me thinking even more to change my setup. The Grand Bois tires I decided to try are already (expectantly) not holding up to the rigors of Birmingham’s terrible asphalt. The chief reason I purchased them was only because of the smooth WO&D trail near DC for my daily commute. However, it has me thinking even more about what setup is unique to myself. I’m now thinking even more to take the fenders off and possibly the rear constructeur rack. This is an easy process and would allow me to throw on cheaper and more puncture proof wide 700c tires. I’m thinking perhaps a 38 mm tire (such as this) but haven’t measured yet to be honest. The possibility to have this type of bike is pretty awesome and gets me excited. With the most likely black tires I was thinking of changing the bar tape to a dark brown to match my saddle and get rid of the white tape. If anyone has any recommendations of tires out there that are around 38mm and don’t weigh a ton that would be fantastic, comment below!

Too, I could technically take the Campeur on gentle off roading and for sure gravel roads in Alabama with this set up. The bike would remain functional and still have its character, although totally new.

It’s good for a fresh start from time-to-time.