Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Goodies for my Ride

I always try to choose pleasant and picturesque routes for our bike rides. For that reason I always like to carry my camera and a couple of lenses handy. The handiest place to carry them is in a handlebar bag where they will be within easy reach on demand. Of course it takes a sizable bag to carry a DSLR and a couble of lenses. I had fitted my bicycle with such a bag equipped with the ingenious KLICKfix Handlebar Adapter. I discovered in short order that the high and forward mounting with this arrangement, combined with the weight of the contents, unpleasantly affected steering and bike-handling, and I right away started searching for an alternative.

One possible solution was a KLICKfix adapter that bolted to the steering tube, below the handlebars, however I wondered if this plastic support for my handlebar bag would be up to the weight of a camera, two lenses and miscellaneous other items, especially on these rough New England roads. The failure of one of the brackets on my handlebar mount this summer confirmed my fears.

In the course of my searching, I had come across the so-called French-style handlebar bags, which are designed to rest on a small rack above the front wheel, and traditionally attach to the handlebars, or to a décaleur affixed to the stem. This lowers the load and brings it closer to the bicycle, thus improving the handling and balance. Since the load is supported from underneath it is also more stable and secure. This all seemed so sensible to me, but these accessories are rather pricey. My research led me to Velo Orange which carries its own line of French-style bags, racks and décaleurs at a somewhat more reasonable price.

I chose, for my purposes, the Velo Orange Grand Cru Handlebar Bag and the Pass Hunter Front Rack with Integrated Décaleur.

Velo Orange Grand Cru Handlebar Bag and Pass Hunter Front Rack
The bag rests on small front rack. I found that, even though secured to the décaleur, and possessing an internal stiffener, the bag flopped easily from side to side. The bag can be secured to the rack by passing a strap through webbing at the bottom. I did this and it eliminated the floppiness.

Velo Orange Grand Cru Handlebar Bag -Front quarter-view showing large front pocket.
The bag has a large main compartment, a large front pocket, two small back pockets, two shallow pockets on the sides and D-rings for the included shoulder strap.  Rear opening, (hinged at front,) top cover secures with an elastic strap to button on rack insert tab.

rear quarter-view showing small back pockets.

The top cover sports a generously-sized clear-view map pocket.

The top cover opens conveniently facing the rider for easy access.

The Grand Cru Handlebar bag easily contains my camera insert with room to spare for a few odds and ends.

The insert holds my camera , two lenses, and a few odds and ends.

The bag rests on this small front rack. The Pass Hunter rack has an integrated décaleur -- a device to which the top of the bag is attached to steady the bag, yet leave the handlebars unencumbered.

Velo Orange Pass Hunter Front Rack with Integrated Décaleur
Bolted onto the top back of the bag is a bracket with prongs that slip into the décaleur sockets to steady the top of the bag.

The Pass Hunter rack support struts bolt to the cantilever brake bosses via included double-ended cantilever bolts.

The rear support strut of the Pass Hunter rack bolts through the hole in the middle of the fork crown. On my bike this hole had a threaded boss at the rear, which I had to drill out. I had read horror stories of  failed and/or mickey-moused installations of this rack. Luckily for me, everything lined up the way it should, and came together very neatly. The rack tilts backward slightly. I could have used spacers between the rear strut and the fork crown to correct this, but I like the bag leaning in toward me a little, so this is perfect for me.

Here's a comparison shot of how much lower and further back the weight is carried with a French-style décaleur bag versus the popular handlebar quick-mount bags of today.  Steering and security are much improved. I think it's esthetically better-balanced as well.

Looking forward to my next picturesque bike ride!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chester Scarecrow Festival 2014

On this lovely Sunday afternoon, Debbie led us on a delightful 13 mile bike-and-walk tour of some of the Chester, NH Scarecrows, a yearly tradition where the townsfolk wax creative and adorn their yards with imaginative, charming and humorous scarecrows.

We had a great time and got quite a few pictures. Check out the gallery or slideshow.
Hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Plum Island - Beautiful

Today Judy and I took a 16 mile ride on Plum Island. Any ride or hike on Plum Island is always balm for the soul -- the soft ocean air, the shore birds, an occasional deer peeking over a dune, and the flora -- especially at this time of year, when the marsh grasses and shore shrubs come alive in a symphony of color.

We rode from the Parker River wildlife refuge headquarters on the road into the island to Hellcat Marsh on the refuge, back, and up along the shore of, by this time, a dark and brooding ocean, then jogging out along the dunes to the High Site at the Northern tip of the island, then back along the river side, with its quaint cottages and little boats, and, finally, back down to the start. No hills on this ride, but a stiff sea breeze challenged us when we rode into it, and filled our sails when we rode away.

Weather: 70°F, cloudy and windy, Wind ENE 18-24mph
Terrain: mostly flat
Distance: 16.3mi
Speed: (avg) 13.8mph; (max) 19.6mph;
Avg Cadence: 77rpm

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lovely Merrimack River Ride with Judy and Debbie

Had a wonderful ride, today, with Judy and Debbie, along the Merrimack River from Ferry Park, West Newbury, through parts of Haverhill, Merrimac and Amesbury to Newburyport and Maudslay State Park, and back on the West Newbury side.

Judy and Debbie at Alliance Park, Amesbury, MA
More nice pictures in the Gallery

We finished up with a pleasant picnic in the shade by the riverside at Ferry Park. Life is good! A beautiful ride and great company!

Weather: 86°F, sunny, moderate humidity
Terrain: flat to rolling
Distance: 15.5mi
Speed: (avg) 12.4mph; (max) 36mph;
Avg Cadence: 71rpm

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Amazing

It's amazing. I just couldn't seem to get motivated yesterday. By the time I got going and made several trips back into the house for forgotten items I had to settle for a short ride -- the 10 mile Hooker Farm loop. I pedaled off with the enthusiasm of someone following doctor's orders. They say that aerobic exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also can improve your mood. The headwind on North Broadway laughed and scoffed. I surprised myself and rose to the challenge. I pedaled on, ENJOYING the wind. THIS is what it's all about - not just the exercise, but being out in the open air, enjoying this picturesque ride, enjoying the undulating terrain, up as well as down, and, yes, enjoying the wind. By the time I pressed over the last hill and enjoyed the final descent, I felt like a new man. "It's amazing," I thought to myself, "What a blessing that I can even do this!"

Weather: 72°F, partly cloudy, moderate humidity, Wind SW 7-15mph
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 10mi
Speed: (avg) 12.2mph; (max) 34.4mph;
Avg Cadence: 74rpm

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Harbinger of Autumn - Arlington Pond with Judy

What a beautiful crisp day -- harbinger of autumn -- actually had to wear our windbreakers to ride the 18mi Arlington Pond Loop today. Headwinds were strong at times, but was still able to maintain a reasonable pace, using the heart monitor. 
Weather: 56°F, sunny and crisp. wind NW 8-20mph
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 18mi
Speed: (avg) 11.9mph; (max) 40.2mph;
Avg Cadence: 75rpm

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Another Delightful Ride - Arlington Pond-Shadow Lake-Zion Hill

Another delightful ride with Debbie today, 23.8 miles over the picturesque Arlington Pond Loop with an extra loop past Shadow Lake and up bucolic Zion Hill. Continued using the heart rate monitor to pace myself, and felt strong at the end.

on the Arlington Pond loop
Weather: 76°F, sunny
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 23.8mi
Speed: (avg) 11.4mph; (max) 44.6mph;
Avg Cadence: 71rpm

Took us 2 hrs and 5 min

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hooker Farm Loop Solo

 by Tony - Our Hooker Farm Loop is a pleasant and picturesque short ride, and, today, I further enjoyed being entertained, on separate occasions, by not one, but two drivers eager to display their ignorance to me and to the world. Now, I am a courteous cyclist. I observe traffic laws. I travel with the traffic, and I stay to the side if it's safe. I strive not to make unexpected moves, and I observe common safety rules, but some drivers in this country, ignorant of traffic laws and bicycle rights, are just infuriated by the mere presence of a bicyclist on THEIR roads. Oh, well, not my circus, not my monkeys...

 On another note, I had a little more trouble keeping my heart rate down in the target zone today, but still had some stuff for the last hill.

Weather: 80°F, mostly sunny, moderate humidity
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 10mi Speed: (avg) 11.6mph; (max) 33mph;
Avg Cadence: 72rpm

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Great Ride with Debbie - Arlington Pond Loop

 Had a wonderful ride over the picturesque18mi Arlington Pond Loop with Debbie today. Paced myself using the heart monitor, and was able to go strong on the last hill, and finish feeling refreshed and exhilarated.

Weather: 73°F, mostly cloudy, moderate humidity
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 18.1mi
Speed: (avg) 11.6mph; (max) 44.6mph;
Avg Cadence: 74rpm

(We did it in just under 1 h 34 min)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nice Ride on Hooker Farm Loop with Judy

 I've been struggling with a lack of endurance, even on the short 6mi rides I've been doing. Wondered if my heart rate wasn't increasing with the demand, so I got the heart rate monitor out of mothballs, and started riding with it. Discovered that my heart is responding appropriately, but that I'm just very slow to recover from any anaerobic bursts. Decided I would try to ride exclusively in the aerobic zone and avoid  any anaerobic efforts until I get fitter. Finding the target zone can be a challenge. There are many formulae for finding it, and they sometimes yield alarmingly different results. In the end, I resorted to trial and error, and arrived at a target zone that I knew would make me work, but not blow me out. My anaerobic threshold seems to be just under 140bpm, while anywhere below 112bpm I feel like I'm loafing, so I set my target zone for 117-134bpm. Today, Judy and I set off on the picturesque 10.1mi Hooker farm loop. The zone alarm on my heart rate monitor reminded me if I was pressing too hard, and I backed off, even on the shorter hills to stay in the zone.  On the last hill of the ride I still felt fresh with plenty of leg left, so I went ahead and let myself go over a little. The last mile is a refreshing downhill, and I pulled in to our driveway feeling refreshed and exhilarated. Best bike ride so far this year!
Weather: 80°F, sunny, moderate humidity
Terrain: rolling, some shade
Distance: 10.1mi
Speed: (avg) 11.5mph; (max) 32mph;
Avg Cadence: 72rpm

Monday, July 21, 2014

Short Ride with Debbie

Hip and knee pain kept me off the bike for a couple weeks, but yesterday I felt good enough to try the short ride via Crystal and Broadway with our friend, Debbie. Felt much better this time. Looking forward to more.

Weather: 80°F, sunny, light breeze, moderate humidity
Terrain: rolling, some shade
Distance: 6.3mi
Speed: (avg) 12.1mph; (max) 36mph;
Avg Cadence: 73rpm 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Short Ride with Judy

Rode the short ride via Crystal and Broadway with Judy today. She let me set the pace, pretty much the same as it has been, but today, don't know if it was from battling the wind, but I got home tired. Up until now my rides had left me feeling refreshed, and I had enjoyed marginal improvement in my ability to sustain an anaerobic effort, and noticeable improvement in recovery rate since my coronary artery stent surgery last July. Today I found I was having to abbreviate my anaerobic bursts, and taking much longer to recover -- more like before my surgery. We'll see what develops in upcoming rides...

Weather: 82°F, sunny, wind: W 20-30mph, moderate humidity
Terrain: rolling, some shade
Distance: 6.3mi
Speed: (avg) 11.8mph; (max) 34mph;
Avg Cadence: 69rpm 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fun Day with Debbie

Judy and I had a lovely day and a nice ride in Chester today with our dear friend Debbie. I won the "Little Old Lady Award, averaging 10 mph.
Weather: 77°F, sunny, with a gusty wind
Terrain: hilly
Distance: 9mi
Speed: (avg) 10mph; (max) 38mph;
Avg Cadence: 66rpm

Friday, July 4, 2014

Two Little Old Ladies

(by Tony) Had a nice ride with friend and neighbor Preston today between the storm fronts:
Weather: 77°F, cloudy, still, very muggy
Terrain: rolling
Distance: 6.3mi
Speed: (avg) 11.7mph; (max) 36.4mph;
Avg Cadence: 67rpm

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Little Bicycling Ditty

A little bicycling ditty I wrote many moons ago: 'The Black Forest -- a Memory'

Together up the shady winding paths,
Where tall trees sing in slumber's silent tones,
Laughing, we rode our bicycles alone
High into the silent sleeping clouds
That crowned the mountain up whose side we rode.

And the clouds in their waking yawned and stretched and rained
And rained and rained and poured. And we rode on
Until we dribbled and giggled our way
Into a shed, (placed there, no doubt, for us,)
And ate liverwurst on buttered bread.

A mostly true story inspired by a trip I took as a wee child through the Black Forest in Germany.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Little-Old-Lady Rides Again

(by Tony) Same course as yesterday, but odometer registered .05mi less -- must be riding straighter lines. Cadence, (avg 65rpm,) definitely needs work!

Weather: 90°F, mostly sunny, still, a bit more humid
Terrain: rolling, some shade
Distance: 6.3mi
Speed: (avg) 11.9mph; (max) 34.6mph;
Avg Cadence: 65rpm

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Bearded Little-Old-Lady on his Bicycle

(by Tony) Struck off with greater confidence today. Both legs felt pretty good, though hills are still a challenge, and I still find myself, at times, pedaling in squares, and hitting the chainstay with my affected foot. Did remember how to reset my cyclocomputer, so I did get some stats today:

Weather: 88°F, mostly clear, no wind, dry
Terrain: Rolling, some shade
Distance: 6.4mi
Speed: 11.5mph (I know - little-old-lady pace - but it's what I can do.)

A BEARDED little-old-lady on his bicycle

Sunday, June 22, 2014

First Post-Stroke Bike Ride

Got my bicycle out of mothballs for the first time since my stroke last July.  Short hilly ride -- 6 mi -- no stats; didn't remember how to reset my cyclocomputer. Bike performed  flawlessly, (once I put the chain back on,) and my body seemed to do what it was supposed to. My post-stroke balance problems did not seem to affect my riding much, although I did wobble some under 4mph, and I was not as precise on my lines at any speed. Took it easy, and felt pretty good, for the most part. My left-side weakness manifested itself mainly in difficulty maintaining a cadence above 88 rpm without losing rhythm, and a tendency to toe out with my left foot, such that my left heel frequently hit the chainstay. All in all though, I'm pretty happy with this ride, and feel encouraged for the future. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hike through Devastation

Hike through Devastation - 2014 - our first hike of the year was an upsetting walk through the devastation being perpetrated on the once cool, quiet and comforting kingdom teeming with forest life that was the Hemlock forest of Kenoza Lake.

Came around the bend along the shore of the Lake and were startled by this scene of devastation.

We are told all these trees were "buggy". I believe the name of the "bug" is $$$perboardfoot.

It's hard to imagine that this kind of devastation was allowed in the name of "timber management"

Judy expressed it much more eloquently in her facebook post than I can ever hope to:
"Let me tell you...I grew up on a federally registered tree farm, doing forestry improvement. I was wielding my first saw at the age of 5. I worked for the United States Forest Service in the White Mountains of NH, doing timber management and forestry improvement on the federal level."

"I can honestly say, without hesitation or reservation that what they have done at the Winnekenni Park, and what they are doing is a travesty, and obscene. There is no way that they were interested in forestry improvement in any way shape or form. There has been NO respect shown for the forest or the land. The forest is gone, utterly denuded save the dripping, bleeding stumps that are trying to nourish trees that no longer exists. The sap, the life's blood dripping down and running into the dirt. The trees don;t even know they're dead yet. I felt like throwing up. I wept for them, and there are so many blue stripes painted on many more trees...this is the mark of death, the paint marks the next victims to fall. It was said that the trees were all buggy...what I sense is the $$ signs the powers that be saw in the board feet of lumber now coming out of that once magical place."
There are several acres so stripped, and many more slated for the same treatment. We both left that "once magical place" grieving today.

Please visit our Hike Through Devastation Gallery for more photos and comments.