Saturday, August 27, 2011

Project Bike 2011

The 2011 bicycle project was located and purchased yesterday.

Some of you know that I've been keeping my eye out for a project bike. Originally, my goal was to diligently search for a bargain, a "fixer upper", and spend some time occupying myself on a restoration. But as is often the case, too much pondering leads to too many requirements (it must be lugged, it must be lightweight, it must have pretty components, etc.). So lately, since my project bike was planned to be more zippy than those in my current stable, I've even considered saving up for a Rivendell Roadeo. In fact, I seriously considered asking Jeremy Shlachter at Gallus Cycles to build me a frame. Now that I've seen his work in person a couple of times now, I hope to commission one of his frames one day.

But this project bike ended up somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. In other words, it appears to be in satisfactory riding shape, but I might plan to restore/rehab/upgrade it somewhat.

I'll post some photos after it arrives. Until then, here are the hints...

Reynolds 531
mid-level race bike

Sounds delicious, eh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


No where as nice as the lead photo on the recent Rat Trap Press post which inspired me, here's photo documentation of an early morning ride.

Besides the whole talent and skill advantage thing he has, I'll excuse myself by saying I'm in Austin on business, and had a mall as my backdrop.

I'm just thankful, that I was able to bring the bike and get a short ride in before reporting for duty.

His post was more than photo inspiration, it was "make the effort" inspiration as well. For that, I am also thankful.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting Out

While whining about the hotter-than-usual summer, I've been trying to keep my chin up and look forward to fall. Since folks have been talking about school beginning soon and football, I suppose fall might happen after all. If that's true, it's time to prepare for it.

Over the summer, fitness has been eroding at an alarming rate. It's time to push things a bit. Instead of sleeping late, or driving to play disc golf, like the last few Saturdays, it was high time for getting out on the bicycle. And it was a joy.

Fuzzy's Taco Shop, Sanger, Texas

Today's outing was basically a breakfast run. We have a "just opened" Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Sanger now (yeah, who woulda thought?), and a breakfast taco seemed like just the excuse for a bicycle outing. For you non-locals, Fuzzy's is known 'round here for their excellent fish tacos.

Jayber's Place?

After breakfast, and cruising through town, I saw the above building and it made a powerful impression on me. Have you ever read a book, and used your imagination to form a perfectly clear image of something being described in the if you were seeing it with your eyes? Then, did you actually see the thing in real life? This building is one of those things for me.

One of my favorite novels is, "Jayber Crow", by Wendell Berry. The title character is a bachelor barber who lives much of his life in a two-story building that is described like this. The downstairs is his barber shop, and he lives upstairs, accessing his abode via outdoor staircase. In my mind, as I read the book, it looks just like this. Just seeing it on a quiet summer morning carried me back to 1940's Port William, Kentucky. Mind games. If you yearn to escape to a simpler time, when community mattered, when people were self-reliant, when neighbors were neighbors, and the economy was local, you will probably enjoy this book (as well as many other things Wendell Berry has authored).

Dry (but not usually) Creek

The trip back home carried me away from my temporary mental escape back to reality. The blazing sun was climbing and doing what it has been doing for almost 90 days now. It was heating up quickly, climbing to another high temperature record (yawn), and I was remembering why I've been too much off the bike lately. But the hands are still spinning around the clock, and the season will change. So it was good getting out. There were probably no significant fitness gains this morning, but it was a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Texas Summer Amusement

To tie-in the analogy of the long grinding climb from my previous post, I guess yesterday was the short level spot we enjoy, catching our breath, before the road pitches up again.

Surfing over to the weather radar yesterday afternoon, I saw a tiny rain cloud up near IH-35 and the Texas/Oklahoma border. When I saw that it was moving south, I let out a loud, "Yee-haw!" and asked Mrs. Pondero to crate the dogs. "We're gonna see us some RAIN!"

And so we did.

We left the house in typical 106 degree heat. It was about 13 miles to the first rain drop on the windshield of the pickup. Hoping for more, we drove all the way to Gainesville, but the cloud we were chasing was all dried up. Texas heat does that.

Fortunately, another shower was building off to our west. So on the way home, about 44 miles into our search, we turned onto a gravel county road, drove under a little cloud, and found a light shower.

I stopped the truck, got out, and stood in the rain. I sniffed the wonderfully wet atmosphere and was reminded what rain smells like. I grinned in blissful 79 degree air. Shoulda brought a sweater. I took a photo of the cloud on the way back so I could remember what rain clouds look like.

We made it back home, after a 55-mile round trip, around 7:30pm. It was 103 degrees.

Resuming climb now...

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Most of us value endurance. For the cyclist, endurance allows us to keep going when the grade is steep because we understand the rewards associated with reaching the summit. For any athlete, endurance allows him to continue performing at a high level and gain an advantage over his opponent. For all of us, the ability to persevere through adversity allows us to not give up on life when times are hard. We remind ourselves that there are better times to come, and therefore give ourselves a healthy dose of perspective.

It's not been a pleasant summer. We're in drought conditions, under water use restrictions, and breaking record high temperatures is becoming monotonous. I've not persevered well. When the weather report comes on the radio and reports "high today 107, low tonight 85, no chance of rain..." for the 53rd consecutive day, I scream back, "Don't waste your breath...and don't bring me anymore weather reports until you have something NEW to say!" In spite of Steve's amazingly positive attitude, I think I'm not the only one around here who's getting a little cranky.

So I guess it is time to endure. I need some of that perspective that reminds me of better times to come. As for life in general, avoiding suffering is not the way to get that perspective, to develop endurance, or to be in a position to really cherish those better times when they come. So I reckon I'll take another drink of water, downshift, and keep climbing. The summer summit is only 7-8 weeks away.