Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Camouflaged Chevy

I saw and interesting thing while driving to Decatur from my home in Jonesboro this morning.  I noticed a camouflaged sedan with a funky paint job and fender, trunk and hood covers.  I'd seen this type of thing before on the Internet.  It's typically what vehicle manufactures do to disguise the design features and lines of new models.  In this case the make was unknown were it not for the five other General Motors vehicles in the convoy.  Each vehicle had two antennas and were noticeably driving together.  What got my attention in the first place were what looked to be two un-badged Chevy Impalas.

A new Chevy Model?
The black and white cars in front of the truck
The orange Chevy Camero
The Cadillac
I thought this might be interesting to those car buffs out there.  Another car in the convoy was a Chevy SS.  All six cars had Michigan tags.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Women on Wheels Ride

Sunday's weather was awesome with sunny skies and a high temperature close to 70-degrees.  I knew that Susan and I would be riding I just didn't know when and where, and with whom.

I figured that Facebook would be all abuzz about the warm weather and scores of impromptu rides popping up all over the place.  It wasn't!  Susan saw that the Women on Wheels - McDonough group was leaderless.  They've been having afternoon rides for the past few weekends, weather permitting.  Susan asked me if I would lead the girls and I said yes.  Knowing that they had planned a 16 mile ride at a slightly slower pace than I'm used to I struck out on my own before meeting up with the WOW girls.  I had 20-miles on the computer as I pulled into the McDonough Trek shop parking lot.  Susan was already there waiting, having driven there.  Soon after several other ladies had arrived.  We were a group of five riders.

The ride went well.  The traffic was a bit heavy on the main roads but I suppose that can be attributed to us starting so late - 2pm.  Our little group stuck together and regrouped at the turns when needed.  Kudos to the ladies for getting out there.
I added another 12-miles riding home from the shop.  That's about 48-miles in total.  Not a bad day!

You can find out more about Women on Wheels - McDonough on Facebook.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tire Tube Leak

I went for a ride on my tri-bike on Friday for the first time in several months.  I've been riding my road and mountain bike whenever I had the courage to brave the cold.  Most of the time I've been inside on the trainer.  I can't wait for spring to get here.

While on my ride Friday I had a flat.  Looking back, I had noticed previously that the front tire was completely flat whenever I checked it as it hung on the rack in my garage.  I blew it up and it seemed fine.  I rode with Susan a bit before going out on my own.  I planned for to ride about 50 miles by myself.  The weather was sunny and around 60-degrees.  I was on my way home when I noticed the front tire pressure was low.  I stopped at a red light and pushed down hard on my bike's handlebars.  The tire was really low.  I had to stop and do something.  I decided to take the easiest route.  I called my wife with my cellphone.  She'd surely come get her stranded husband.  She didn't answer her phone.  Dang!  Option two - call again - no answer.  Dang-Dang!  I was on my own.
Park Tool (blue) and  Bontrager (red) tire levers
I had a spare tube, Park Tool tire levers (blue), two CO2 cartridges and an Air Chuck Elite mini inflator.  Everything I needed to replace the tube and get home.  I prefer the Bontrager levers (red) though.  They have a little bump that helps keep the lever on the rim.  I took the front wheel off of my bike and got to thinking, I don't want to do this, here, at this red light 10 miles from home.  I decided to take the second easiest route.  I put the wheel back on my bike and re-inflated it with my CO2 cartridge.  This quick fix would get me home.
Leaky tire tube stem
At home I removed the suspect tube and inspected it in the kitchen sink.  I found the leak to be at the stem.  Not at the valve itself but just below that between the cap and stem threads.  I looked through my bike stuff and found another tube loosely laying amongst my bike stuff.  I checked it out in the same manner.  It had the same leak.  That's odd!  I threw both of these tubes in the trash and checked out a third tube still in its box.  It was fine, problem solved.

A second but shorter ride along a similar route two days later went uninterrupted.  Much of this route is on the same streets as where the Southern Crescent Cycling club group rides.
I got home just before dark.  Great ride!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hey, That's My Bike!

I read a thread on the slowtwitch forum the other day.  It was written by someone who had recovered his stolen bicycle.  That thread and the subsequent replies got me thinking.  What are the replacement costs of my bikes?  I shudder to think about, in addition to the cost, how mad I would be after finding that my bike(s) was stolen.  The thread's author tried to keep the original post brief, I’ll try to do the same.  In his post he described how he kept his head and had a plan.  Here’s the gist of it.

The bike was stolen from the owner’s driveway not 5 minutes after being ridden. The theft was reported to the police but they showed little interest in perusing any investigation. The owner perused websites like craigslist and eBay.  Within a few weeks, low and behold, there it was, a picture with a vague posting describing his bike on craigslist.  It was for sale about an hour away at a substantial discount. The owner wanted to catch the thief red-handed but the police weren't interested so he decided to go it alone. The thief/seller wouldn't take calls from the area code where the bike had been stolen on what they would later learn was a prepaid cellphone.  The owner used a phone from a different area code to make arrangements to meet the unsuspecting thief at a park. The owner took the details of the meeting to the police and they agreed to follow along. The trap was set.

The owner entered the park, he verified it was his stolen bike, signaled the police, and they arrested the crook.  He was an 18 year old delinquent with a long juvenile record of thefts.  This was his first arrest as an adult.

Upon further investigation of the bike, they found that the serial number had been removed and the frame had also been spray painted.  To make matters worse, when the police arrived, the thief said the bike's owner was the crook.  What gall!

My bike was stolen from my Jr. high school along with my brothers' bikes.  That was back in the 1970's.  I remember the bike very well.  My parents saw an ad in the Jacksonville Journal newspaper for some Flandria bikes.  I had never seen that bike company name before or since.  The company website seems to indicate that the 1970's was their heyday.  All three bikes were found a few days later covered with leaves in the woods near the school.  Just like my parents, they had no serial number information to provide police, only a description and sales receipt.  We got the bikes back but, thinking back, we should have been better prepared.  My parents should have kept better records and I shouldn't have forgotten my bike lock that day when we rode them to school.  The crook(s) were never identified in my case.  That was pre-craigslist.

On the other side of this issue, I bought a cruiser bike back when I was in my late teens I knew was probably stolen but I bought it anyway.  It was sold to me by an unscrupulous neighbor with a history of less than stellar citizenship.  I should have known better but I was no saint either.  I fixed the bike up adding some light alloy parts and repainted the frame.  I sold it to another neighbor a few months later.  I later found out that the "alleged" original owner saw the bike and was quite angry.  Now, I would never buy anything that I even suspected as being stolen.  I was less discriminating about my purchases in my youth.

These incidents bring to mind another question.  In the same situation today, how would I be able to describe my bike should it be stolen, repainted, and the manufacturer's serial number removed?  Replies to the slowtwitch thread offered a few suggestions.  Put a business card in the seat tube or handlebar tube was one suggestion.  Another reply suggested marking your bike in a way that would be unique and identifiable.  Then take a picture of the mark for use should that dreaded day arrive. 

First and foremost, prevention is the best cure.  Stop the theft before it happens.  Keep an eye on your bike and when that's not possible use a good quality lock correctly applied to secure it.  I searched the web and found this flyer from the University of New Mexico.  It's helpful in that it identifies the advantages and disadvantages of different lock types and how to best use them.

Another option to consider is the National Bike Registry.  The NBR is a bit like microchips for dogs but instead of a chip they use a sticker.  I can only imagine that a sticker would be much easier to remove than a piece of silicon the size of a grain of rice under the skin.  Maybe the microchip analogy was a stretch.  The NBR is probably not really gonna get your stolen bike back to you unless somewhere along the line it comes into the possession of someone who's not a crook.  The police and a local bike shop are two entities that might fit into this category.  Sadly, not all law enforcement organizations participate in the program.  Here's the list.  My own county and city police departments are not listed.  I suppose that's why they've got so many obviously stolen and recovered bikes that have never been returned to their owners.  Also, if the serial number has been removed you're probably out of luck too.

In short, protect your bike like you would a family dog, cat or even a goldfish.  Don't leave it unsecured or unattended.
The mass of  recovered bicycles behind the Clayton County PD Headquarters
A closer view of the bikes
I contacted the Clayton County Police Department property crimes division once, and then a CCPD spokesperson, via e-mail over a two week period regarding this article.  My inquiries were essentially ignored.  The pictures above were taken a full three (3) weeks after my initial request was submitted and without the permission of the officer on-duty.  I'm sure that Clayton County is no different from most counties but; I'm also sure that it's different from some.  The city of Roswell, Georgia, only 40 miles to the north, is a world away where cycling is concerned.  Maybe that will change, but I'm not holding my breath.  The fact of the matter is, if your bike gets stolen, no matter where you live, it's very unlikely that you'll ever see it again.  It's also unlikely that you'll get much help from the authorities.  The case posted on the slowtwitch forum took a bike owner who was willing and able to put in the time and effort to get his bike back.  That's all there is to it!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gore Bike Gear Xenon Jacket

I got a new bike jacket the other day.  The garment tag says it's a Gore Bike Gear Xenon AS (Active Shell) jacket.  It's a windbreaker.  I have two other similar jackets.  None of them are lined.  This new jacket is the only one I own that fits me correctly for road bike riding.  My Canari and Descente jackets which I included in a past blog - My Winter Safety Gear are loose fitting and work better for running or mountain biking than high speed road biking.

The Gore Xenon is, to me, very stylish and seems to be well constructed. The material is thin and the only area that has two layers are the sleeves.  There is the outer wind barrier layer and an inner mesh material.

I found the jacket on Nashbar.com.  It was the first item I've purchased from them since they used to send me paper catalogs back in the late 1980's.  I have a really hard time finding clothes that fit so when I saw that they had my size I ordered it.  The jacket is described on their website as follows:

"GORE BIKE WEAR Xenon AS Jacket There are chilly days ahead, but that doesn't have to 
keep you from riding. A lightweight, packable cycling jacket is the perfect solution for those 
transitional temperatures. This Windstopper jacket blocks the chilly drafts and breezes while 
you're on the bike, but still breathes well so you stay dry. It's got pre-shaped sleeves, a high 
collar and low tail that are ideal for a cyclist's posture. Adjustable cuffs, elastic hem, stretch 
inserts. Full length zipper lets you customize ventilation as you get moving. Rear zip pocket
 for easy gear storage, also serves as stuff pouch for the jacket once things heat up."

The jacket was on sale and I paid $79.99 plus taxes and shipping which put my total cost at just over $96.  The Nashbar website said the MSRP is $199.99.  The garment tag says the jacket was made in Turkey.  I find it hard to believe that anyone would pay over $200 (adding tax and shipping) for a windbreaker.
The front of the jacket
The rear of the jacket with reflective striping and pocket
Velrco sleeve cuff closures
The mesh material inside the back pocket
The mesh layer shown with the sleeve inside out
First ride
I had the opportunity to wear my jacket for the first time on Wednesday night.  After the ride I took the above picture.  The temperature was probably in the mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.  I wore a long sleeve Under Armour shirt under the jacket.  That was about as minimalist as I go.  Note the full finger gloves and you can't see them but I'm wearing leg warmers.

Overall, I think I'll really like the jacket for those rides where the temperature is 60-degrees or higher or maybe a rainy summer day.  It would be wholly inadequate for anything below 50-degrees.  I like it though so I'm sure I'll wear it a lot until it gets warmer.

On a side note, when riding after dark with a bike light on it's easy to see all the trash being thrown up from the tire of the rider in front of you.  I've gotta get some clear lens glasses for night riding. Maybe I should ride in the front more often.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Try Charleston Training Update

Saturday, February 2nd marked the end of my 9th week of training for the Try Charleston 70.3 on April 20th.  Starting on December 2nd, 2012, "the plan" should have me doing about 11 hours and 30 minutes of training each week by now.  I've been barely able to squeaked out 7 hours.  What makes it even worse is that all of what I've done to date is bike and run.  I haven't been in the water since I completed the Ironman Miami 70.3 in late October. 

Training completed to date
Just in case you're wondering, the above chart should look a little more like the below chart.  Swimming is indicated in blue, running in green, bike in red, and total hours in purple.
Training planned
Note the nice rolling increase in intensity of the plan from week 2 through week 17.  I haven't gotten to that point yet in my commitment.  Week 10 starts now, I guess I had better get on it!  Fortunately, I have gotten a few chores done around the house lately so I haven't been doing nothing.  I've gotta keep the chores going too as my real training starts in June for my second Ironman Florida.

Just a little reality check for me. 

Thanks for reading.

20 week training plan