Category Archives: Bikes

I Blinded Me with Science!…

…and stuff, but not really.

I’ve been a roadie, a road bicycle rider for many decades. I’ve participated in solo adventures, group rides and organized rides around the country for quite some time. I know to prepare for events requires training, on a bike, to get to one’s goals of fitness, speed and comfort.

The Quad Cities Bike Club based in Davenport, Iowa organizes an early June bicycle tour known as TOMRV, the Tour Of the Mississippi River Valley. The ride is a two day round trip ride through the Mississippi River bottom land and bluffs of Iowa and Illinois, it’s approximately 200 miles and 7,000 feet of climbing. This ride leaves from Scott Community College in Bettendorf, Iowa and winds it’s way north through Iowa, Illinois, touching into far lower Wisconsin to Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa on Saturday. Rinse, repeat and ride south to Bettendorf on Sunday on a slightly shortened all Iowa route.

This was the 42nd year of this event and I’ve ridden seven times. Or eight. I can’t really remember. The main thing is it’s not my first or second and I know what to expect. Iowa is not flat. Northeastern Iowa is far from flat. Northwestern Illinois is anything but flat. I live in Chicago. Chicago is flat. Chicago is flat as a pancake. Where I am able to ride and train is flat. Almost flatter than flat.

In early June, I will typically have about 1000 riding my miles on my legs, gained though a combination of spin classes, riding on my rollers with a dedicated training program and riding outside on purposeful training miles.

I performed a science experiment on myself in preparation for TOMRV 2019, a science experiment involving different training modalities excluding much of any training miles on any bikes. 

For various insipid reasons, I had almost zero bicycle training miles this year. Weather, blah blah blah, not wanting to train indoors on my rollers, not wanting to be disciplined with spin classes. 

The late winter/early spring/late spring weather in Chicagoland has been dismal. It was severely cold/cold/cold & wet/wet. In other words, demoralizing. Who in the right mind wants to ride outside in that crap?

The new shiny objects of Bikram yoga classes and olympic weightlifting classes, consistent practice of each, were to become the focus of my TOMRV training. 

In early June 2019, Strava told me I had 386 training miles on my legs before the hills of the Mississippi River valley. 

I’ve been a gym rat, a weight lifter for many years. 

As a Flatlander, incorporating heavy barbell squats and deadlifts have been a key training addition to help me ride up hills. I am not a small individual, I have never been a climber, but I can scamper up a hill on my bike. Barbell back squats, front squats, Zercher squats, overhead squats with different stance widths, I use them all.

Deadlifts work your entire body, from the tips of your toes to the end of your finger tips. 

Every bike rider can benefit from significant heavy weight lifting.

Tired of following a power lifting protocol – low reps, heavy weights – I joined a facility that had dedicated weightlifting classes. I joined Windy City Strength and Conditioning in May of 2018 with the intention of getting into olympic weightlifting classes only. I messed around with Crossfit classes for too long. I do not like CrossFit one bit, that that’s a different discussion and I also see the benefits of that training protocol. In October of 2018 I engaged myself in learning the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. 

I lack any explosiveness on a bike. Sprint? Give me some time to get up to speed. I’m like a diesel locomotive. I had zero clue how difficult learning the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk would be for me. 

The concept is amazingly simple: hoist a weight from the floor to over head in a single motion (the Snatch) or in two separate motions (the Clean and the Jerk) and do it proficiently according to one’s skeletal construction. In other words, hoist the damn barbell overhead in as perpendicular line to the ground as possible. The execution is amazingly complex and difficult, for me. 

These movements will build explosiveness from the hips. This movements will build overall bodily strength, these movements will build grip strength and overhead strength. All of it is beneficial to riding a bike.

I wanted to quit. So. Many. Times. 

In an effort to get out of my comfort zone, in September of 2018, I introduced myself to hot yoga, Bikram yoga to be exact (I had zero clue about all the different types of “hot yoga” and my initial exposure to Bikram was accidental). I am now a Bikram yoga addict, I am a member of Be Yoga Andersonville, the owner, Cat, is my teacher and I swear she sees into my soul.

I could have trained indoors on my rollers to the training programs available from Trainer Road. I have in the past and I like them, they are effective but, as I stated, I was blinded by the new shiny objects of Bikram yoga and weightlifting. Plus, I’ve been slowly painting my living space, as well as having to work my job. Working for a living puts a serious damper on other far more interesting pursuits.

Trainer Road was continually put on the back burner, with the thinking that I have 6 months to prepare. I have 4 months to prepare, but hell, this weather is now cold and wet and very shitty. I have 3 months to prepare, but this weather is still shitty so I can’t ride outside…….

I’m a victim of my own brain, my procrastination and stress avoidance of not bike training dictated the lack of bicycle training miles this year. 

In other words of blah blah blah, I didn’t want to do the appropriate work.

Bikram yoga builds strength. It builds cardiovascular endurance. It builds mental awareness and toughness. Many times I’ve had to work myself out of a panic attack during class. I hope that I’ve learned to separate my mind from the ordeal my body is undergoing. 

How can that not be beneficial to bike riding? On a bike, you are stuck in the same riding position for hours.You are stuck in pain, for hours. A few minutes of mindful Half Moon pose during a sag stop and I’m good as new!

Saturday, TOMRV 2019 Day 1, was originally weather forecast to be awful, nothing but rain. I would eloquently flip that weather the middle finger, however, as in all things Midwest, the forecast changes every 15 minutes. Day 1 weather was magnificent with moderate temperatures, sunny cloudless blue skies and mild east winds. We should have had a tailwind!

My riding day was great. I felt well on the flats, I felt well on the copious steep hills, Strava told me I PR’d on all the Blackjack Road hills which I find amazing as I certainly wasn’t trying to do anything but finish. We finished our ride day in a decent amount of time and deservedly with three of Iowa’s great beers in the beer garden before cleaning up for dinner.

What was different about this ride compared to previous TOMRV days where I was far fitter and faster? I think I was able to ride more mindfully and be more present to enjoy the scenery, the sound of the bike tires, the group I was riding with, the feel of the road and terrain, rather than worry about when I’d finish and would there be sufficient bike parking over night. The lack of future stress made me able to enjoy the moment and just ride to the best of my ability. 

I attribute this to my yoga practice. I have surprised myself with the things that I can do and then things that I could do the day before but can’t right now. I’ve surprised myself at how I can wipe my mind clean while practicing.

How did weightlifting help my bike riding? Strength is strength and a strong grip will carry over into strong legs. A strong back and a strong shapely butt will transfer into steady speed on a steep climb.

Obviously, far more time on the bike saddle would have been preferable but this was a great experiment in seeing how other training methods can help an endeavor. As it is, I should have incorporated a lot more heavy barbell squats and conventional/sumo dead lifts into my weightlifting programming as I did lose that strength while training Oly weightlifting. Lots more heavy squats and dead lifts would have helped me on hills, as in the past.

Next year, I won’t let shiny new objects change my training focus from a planned event. If I have a challenging bike ride scheduled, more time on the saddle will be planned. There is no way you can train yourself for time on a bike saddle, other than with time on a bike saddle.

Namaste, bitches!

Success: form your own opinion, I can’t even…

Success:

success |səkˈses|
noun
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose: the president had some success in restoring confidence.
• the attainment of popularity or profit: the success of his play.
• a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity: I must make a success of my business.
• archaic the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims: the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from Latin successus, from the verb succedere ‘come close after’ (see succeed) .

That above is the Apple OS system software Dictionary’s definition.

I’ve been thinking about success a lot lately. What does it mean? Who decides success? What is the context? Is it a mortgage on a big house? Is it possessing a boat or an Audi/Porsche/some other exotic expensive car?

Is success money? Is it property? Is it physical well being, mental well being? Is success having a firm grasp of happiness even in the face of adversity?

Is success the attainment of a goal such as climbing a mountain? Who decides the context of that mountain? The mountain could be a one mile walk or summiting Mt. Everest. The mountain could be moving without pain, or getting to be debt free.

I’m entering into the forth month of consistently attending bikram yoga classes several times per week and the 5th month of consistently attending olympic weightlifting classes.

Let me enter this fact into the record; I am a beginner at bikram and I have some idea of what is going on but I am a complete neophyte with other forms of yoga and I am striving to do them all.

I am a beginning weightlifter but not a beginning weight lifter. There is a difference.

I have an idea of how to quantify and qualify success at weight lifting which is simply lifting heavier weight, I have the data to prove this. It’s what I love about strength training, you either pick that heavy shit up, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

3 months of a consistent training on my bicycle will yield measurable results of being able to ride further, ride faster and ride fitter. Those are quantifiable markers.

Data. I have data that indicate variable measures of success in weight lifting and bicycling. How do I define success in bikram yoga, what sort of data should I have or should I even consider recording any data?

I find bikram to be very vulgar and I love it. It’s highly regimented; do a posture, come back to center and force yourself to acknowledge yourself, physically and mentally, to reset. Some days it takes a while before I can look myself in the eyes. Some days I accept myself for who/what I am immediately. Is that success?

Let’s look at that again: some days it takes awhile before I can look myself in my eyes, some days I accept myself immediately.

You are tasked with the directive to acknowledge yourself, to acknowledge that where you are at that moment is just fine, that it’s where you need to be.

I have a close friend who’s been going to bikram classes for ten years. Her definition of success is that she’s made it to another class, consistently.

One might find they need to rest with decreasing frequency, one might find they have more control over their breathing, one may find forgiveness for themselves in not attaining a posture, one may find acceptance of what they perceive as physical faults. One may find forgiveness and acceptance of themselves, period.

Perhaps my ideas of success in bikram yoga could use a bit of finessing.

Bikram requires me to have a blank mind, to utterly concentrate on myself or I simply cannot get into my personally scaled versions of the postures.

I fail.

All.

The.

Time.

I let what made me angry about myself the day before take over. I let the horror show of my middle-aged paunchy mid-section make me angry with my diet (myself). I let the person flopping and flailing next to or in front of me, creating all sorts of distractions dictate a story in my mind how they have such little regard for anyone else, they have zero self-awareness. I let the fear of shoulder pain in Eagle prevent me from exploring it further. I let some anger of something that happened years ago simmer up to the surface and rather than release it, I try to shove it back below which means it’ll resurface at some point at some later date.

If acceptance is the goal, than why bother to actively pursue improvement?

The human body and mind are made for constant movement and improvement. If one isn’t improving, one is stagnating.

My individual successes in bicycling are reaching a minimum number of thousands of miles ridden in a years time, of riding certain events in measurable levels of fitness, of cementing friendships in all variances of riding events.

My idea of individual success in weightlifting has become more esoteric than simply weight hoisted overhead, but rather how I feel with the movements and I how my coaches feel about my movements, am I actually learning the movements. Ultimately I do look forward to the day I can snatch my bodyweight and at that point I might consider moving out of my favorite Chuck Taylor canvas flat shoes and into weightlifting shoes.

In bikram yoga, rather than achieving the flexibility in my hamstrings that has always eluded me or that perfect balancing stick or tree, maybe success would look like tolerance, empathy and acceptance not only of others, but also of myself and in return those physical changes I’d like to see on myself would happen organically through trusting the process and consistent effort.

But no, I want it all right now!

Namaste.


The Iron(Wo)Men of Kona & FarFromIronMe

The urbandictionary.com describes “janky” as follows: “adjective used to describe a person, place or thing which is questionable, fucked up, wrong, strange, broken down, undesirable, and/or just some thing you can’t think of another word for. The origin of this work is explained somewhat in the conversation example. Friends and I were sitting around drinking coffee one morning, and I was bitching about my empty cup when my friend blamed the lack of coffee on the “janky ass coffee maker.” I have since heard the word in the movie Friday.”

My preference for the word is to describe a set up that is less than aesthetically pleasing but quite effective, as is the case with my indoor bicycle training set up, which achieves a higher level of jankitude with the addition of being able to watch my iPhone while monitoring my training program progress.

I’m 53 years old and I’ve been riding bikes almost my entire life, for errands for work for fun for fitness and what not. I’ve never engaged a coaching service and I’ve never been 53 years old before. I’m slow. I’m also carrying far too many extra pounds around my mid-section and I blame that on my fondness for beer and Cheetos.

In order to effect some positive change because I’m tired of being slow and a slave to Funyuns, I found that I can redirect the cost of just one 6 pack of beer per month to that of a monthly online bicycle coaching service. I might get faster/fitter/stronger and drop some pounds at the same time. How is this not an all around win for everyone concerned?

$12 per month gets me access to coaching programs at TrainerRoad and I get to choose which type of programming to indulge upon based upon goals I have for the future of my fitness and cycling prowess. There are a variety of necessary tools one needs, however.

You need to have a bike, a trainer and sensors that can spit some data to the TrainerRoad software and some way to use the software. The motivation for change is a finicky beast so blatant inspiration is a must have, at least for me. I’m quite thankful that every athlete at the Ironman World Championships this morning helped me with today’s training session.

What follows are obvious product endorsements and I am not being compensated for said endorsements in any way, shape or form.

Harrumph, I say!

The Wahoo Fitness KICKR is the ultimate tool. It’s a “smart” trainer in that it works directly with a training program to set the variable resistance that the rider needs to react to. It’s super cool. It’s also over a thousand bucks.

Yeah.

No.

Not gonna happen anytime soon, unless Wahoo wants me to test one for an indeterminable amount of time.

That’s a sizable chunk of dollars I can better spend towards part of a new bike or a new sexy wheel set or new bike tools or power tools or multiple bib shorts or something more constructive like perhaps a new water heater to replace the old one that is about to rupture.

I have two trainers, one is an old fluid trainer and I guess these are now known as “turbo” trainers. I hate it. Lock your bike on it and watch a movie, or a bike race, or old grainy VHS training tapes that required you to work at a perceived level of exertion. Yep, that was a thing before heart rate monitors plummeted in price. I found this to be awful.

I recently bought a set of rollers. I LOVE them. These Overdrive Pro rollers are made in Indiana by SportCrafters. They have a drum that provides progressive resistance and I ran across their Inertia drum on sale and installed that but quite honestly this heavier larger drum isn’t necessary to get a good workout and I don’t think it provides what the manufacturer states what it does.

I like to think I’m an excellent bike handler, every rider does, but these rollers will give my ego a smackdown like no other so to decrease that amount of humble pie they serve up, I’m still using them within the safety of a doorway. Sometimes I’ll be spot on with regards to riding straight and true with a cadence smoother than a baby’s butt and then ten minutes later I’ll be bouncing off the doorway like a cue ball on a billiard table. Focus. FOCUS!

Oh, right, my bike. It’s a FOCUS Cayo and while not inexpensive it was an exceptional value considering it has an all Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, with the exception of the cassette which is 105 but who cares about that. No swapping out of a third-party less-expensive crank in order to keep costs down, it’s all Ultegra and it rides as a newer bike should. I do have 5 bikes and I’ve been riding the FOCUS recently but I may switch that up in the coming months of winter hell.

The Garmin Edge 1000 GPS mapping cycling computer is my bike computer of choice. This is not an endorsement of this product, in fact, it’s the opposite if you catch my meaning here; so many growing pains. I also have the Garmin heart rate, cadence and speed sensors that supply all sorts of personally unnecessary data to the Edge 1000 but I find this data entertaining to look at, maybe because it makes me think I’m utilizing this data in some fitful way when I’m outdoors on a ride. That’s funny.

I use the TrainerRoad software on my Apple MacBook Pro. Increasing the jankitude of my indoor training setup, I use this awesome lightweight aluminum stepladder that I got from Home Depot several years. I can’t give a brand name as it doesn’t have one. It’s got two steps and then a big fold down tray which is the right height and size for my laptop.

Here’s my training setup: bike on my rollers in the doorway, stepladder with Apple MacBook Pro in front of me, fan on a stand off to the side, blowing swiftly to give me the illusion that I’m faster than I really am.

Hey, Fred you dork, you might be thinking, you can’t do this, you don’t have a power meter on your bike. You are correct, I do not. The cool thing about the TrainerRoad software is through the magic of digital communication protocols, it replaces my Garmin Edge 1000 as the head unit for all my Garmin sensors. The only thing I needed to purchase to get this rig to rolling was the current Garmin ANT+ USB stick antenna.

After a bit of experimentation, I found it worked reliably if I stuck that stick on the end of a USB extension cable I had laying around which positioned the antenna closer to the sensors.

The TrainerRoad software reads the data from my heart rate/cadence/speed sensors, I told the software which trainer model I’m using and through the speedy-rific computer computing of data mumbo jumbo, I can use TrainerRoad through a “virtual power” reading.

Here’s were the janky index of my set up went to N+1; I don’t have an iPhone mount on my bike, but I have a Garmin mount and a dispenser full of clear packing tape. Taping the iPhone to my Garmin computer worked a charm and I was still able to use the touch screen capabilities of the iPhone through the tape and the case.

Today, 14 October 2017 is the 2017 Ironman triathlon world championships from Hawaii. I was able to watch the livestream of the telecast on my iPhone and through the data magic of Bluetooth, stream the audio to my JBL Flip 3 speaker which is water resistant and the perfect companion to shower beers.

Anyone who competed today in Kona or in any other Ironman is a total badass and thanks for helping me get through my piddly little 90-minute training session. It’s rained all day and after 90 minutes I felt like I’d been riding outside all morning. I’ve done long rides in my past but I cannot fathom what’s it like to complete an Ironman. My hat off to you all.

How do I feel today? Like I’ve been run over by a truck. Please, dear reader, resist the urge to comment how stupid I am for over training my middle aged body this week as my middle aged body is telling me loud and clear. Multiple heavy back/overhead squat and dead lift sessions at my gym with multiple vigorous spin classes and three TrainerRoad sessions could probably be qualified as “over training” but I’ll get over it, I’ve got an entire winter season to recover and train before my spring goals appear.

Cheers.

This Week in Bikes & Booze; 28 April 2015

Tease.

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

transitive v. To annoy or pester; vex.

transitive v. To make fun of; mock playfully.

transitive v. To arouse hope, desire, or curiosity in without affording satisfaction.

transitive v. To urge persistently; coax: teasing their mother for more candy.

transitive v. To gain by persistent coaxing: “the New York editor who could tease great books from the unpromising woolly jumble of an author’s first draft” ( Ian Jack).

transitive v. To deal with or have an effect on as if by teasing.

transitive v. To cut (tissue, for example) into pieces for examination.

transitive v. To disentangle and dress the fibers of (wool, for example).

transitive v. To raise the nap of (cloth) by dressing, as with a fuller’s teasel.

transitive v. To ruffle (the hair) by combing from the ends toward the scalp for an airy, full effect.

intransitive v. To annoy or make fun of someone persistently.

n. The act of teasing.

n. The state of being teased.

n. One that teases, as:

n. One given to playful mocking.

n. A woman who behaves like a coquette.

n. A preliminary remark or act intended to whet the curiosity.

tease out: To get by or as if by untangling or releasing with a pointed tool or device: “It takes a carefully trained expert to tease out the truth” ( Arthur Green).

Everyone has most likely been subject to teasing and has probably done their fair share of teasing as they get on with their lives. There is a prominent definition of “tease” that frustrates to no end if one is the type of human being that exists in the areas of the United States known as the Mid West and the Great Plains.

Let’s settle briefly on the worst tease of all; bitchy Mother Nature.

Seasons. I am told there are four seasons at last count although in the aforementioned areas of the US it seems that spring and autumn are almost non-existent. Mother Nature blasts us hard with unrelenting frigid winter temps and snow. Coping with weeks of below zero temps takes a strong constitution, particularly if one relies upon public transportation. Imagine stumbling to a bus/train stop in the dark below-zero hours of the early morning, bundled up against the painful cold that will stab any piece of exposed skin.

Imagine a bus/train arriving where everyone in layers and layers of clothing resembles the Michelin man and moves with as much grace and mobility as a heavy weight powerlifter clad in a squat suit. The furnaces of the bus/train you’re about to embark have been running full blast for days. Now imagine trying very hard to not puke on your transit companions as your body has to accommodate the transition from frigid to tropical in a matter of seconds while you’re trying see past fogged eyeglasses. Fortunately, you can bounce off every other Michelin Man in your bus/train while you’re trying to get situated and not puke.

After months of the frigid adventures above, the amount of sunlight gets noticeably longer, temps get marginally warmer and the snow/ice sheets recede from the streets and sidewalks. You begin to relax, to realize that yes, spring is on the way and there will be a day or two when Mother Nature throws her full weight into a gorgeously warm day where windows city wide are thrown open, where the city itself breathes deeply and throws lose the shackles of down winter wear and depression.

When we’re lucky, Mother Nature will let that scenario last a few days.

No, dear reader, do not be lulled into a false sense of lasting serenity cause just as sure as she brings on the heat, she’ll slam the hammer of lasting Arctic Pain down to put you back in your place. Don’t you dare pack away your winter gear till June if you know what’s good for you.

Supreme Tease = Mother Nature.

With all this in mind, it’s long past time to get on your bikes and ride outside again if one expects to have even a moderate base of fitness for the hot weather riding season.

The weather teasing is bothersome but I find the projections and forecasts I might make to be worse. This morning for instance, looking out my window at the brilliance of the morning sun, I’m planning another ride along the lakefront. It’s gonna be cold. I just know it from previous experience as this time of year.

But wait, remember that 80 degree day last year at this time? It could happen again!

What is it the Shrub said about fooling me once and ……. won’t get fooled again?

Bundle up and suckit, sucker! If the wind is off the lake expect wind chills in the 10’s/20’s when you’re riding into the wind.

Projections suck.

Saturday is May’s installment of the Fucking Bike Club’s Full Moon Fiasco in celebration of the Full Flower Moon. The weather forecast is for dry mid-60’s during the day and a dry mid-50’s low which would mean your casual rider won’t need to bundle up in claustrophobic layers for the first time in months.

A Saturday ride means most attendees won’t have to work the next day.

I plan to attend and I’ll most likely ride the erstwhile Kona and will pack a flask of Malort – The Official Drink of the FBC. I’m not feeling like toting a cooler of suds this time around, feeling now like I might want to travel light.

Temperate weather.

Bicycles.

Saturday.

Booze.

Your overly pious and timid observer might assume that these elements cast together lend themselves to a fetid atmosphere of moral turpitude, an orgy to be avoided at all costs.

Your more enlightened and tolerant casual observer, such as myself, might find that these elements intersect in a Venn diagramed shit-show of fun.

Then again, it might just be a big tease.

Today in Bikes and Booze; 16 March, 2015

We’ve all had days like mine today, where events didn’t unfold as one wanted them too. Looking at the weather forecast for this week, today, Monday, is the warmest of the upcoming week and a brief respite from what seems an endless winter in Chicagoland.

I wanted to take advantage of this open-window weather and go for a good road ride for the first time since fall and not worry about being cold and wearing so many layers I begin to feel claustrophobic. I knew I’d ride a bike today but first I’d go to the gym.

Last week I put up some nice numbers, setting some new personal records with barbell back squats and dead lifts so with a kick in my step after sufficient morning caffeinating I walked to the gym with high hopes of moving around some good amounts of iron.

It was all going swell as there was plenty of mat space to warm up and open squat racks galore – this has to be my day! – and warm up sets were going real well and I just knew that I’d hit … wow these heavy squats just aren’t feeling like I want them to.

Moving onward and upward, right then.

I managed to get a good training session in at the gym. I’m no expert but I have enough exercises in my training bag that I can get a good work out in even when something isn’t going to plan.

On the walk home from the gym the sky is hazy blue, not quite a fully brilliant sunscape but dang, it’s not been this warm in millennia and wow this sweatshirt is warm and no furnace needed until later today when the snow returns but for now, windows open and grab some lunch while getting a bike and myself prepared to ride.

What goes in my saddle bag? Where is that inflator and those tire levers and right, in another bike bag and do I really need that inflator along with my frame pump and why can’t I find my knee warmers and yes, get my lightweight gloves otherwise I’ll be bitching at myself for making myself too dang cold and why can’t I ever find the sunglasses I want but hey, I haven’t seen these Oakley cateye sunglasses in around 25 years and those are cool and do I need a do-rag or head band today and you get the picture; it’s always a treat to get ready to do something you’ve done a million times, for the first time again.

To make this a proper RAGBRAI training ride, proper pre-ride nutrition must be followed. Lagunitas Night Time black ale fit the bill just right.

I’ve become a huge fan of the black style of India Pale Ales that many American breweries are putting forth these days.

Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack, Greenbush Brewing’s Anger, Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous and Chicago’s Begyle Brewing collaboration with Dryhop Brewing’s Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts are my favorites in the Black IPA category.

Enter Night Time black ale which is now available in bottles in Chicagoland with the opening of Lagunitas Brewing in Chicago.

To me, the Night Time is perfect balance of demure hoppiness followed by roasty cozy carbo-loading maltiness. It doesn’t break any new ground, in fact, it’s almost too unassuming but I like Lagunitas Night Time, a lot. There’s a roundness to it, how the flavors lead into each other that leads me to drink another one over and over.

I chose to ride my Gunnar Crosshairs cyclocross bike that I’ve never used for any type of cyclocross racing/practicing/etc. This is a solid bike that never disappoints me. Someday I’d like to replace the component group but for now, the aging Shimano 105 does the trick. Last spring I built a new wheel set on the original 105 hubs and with over a thousand miles on the wheels, they still don’t need any attention/truing/love.

The route today was going to be on the Chicago lakefront which I’ve been riding for 25 years and never get tired of but like any road/place/destination, there are times when one doesn’t want to be anywhere near this stretch of pavement, unless one’s attitude has had a severe adjustment.

The lake front path gets a bad rap among the Chicago bicycling “community” and I can understand why. The path is of limited width and unlimited popularity, especially on warm weekends. You’ll see tourists, walkers, dog-walkers, sitters, starers/lurkers/gawkers, beach goers, parents with their damnable uncontrolled demon spawn who will get hit by some Lakefront Lance – yes, he’s there too and why can’t we ban him? – who’s out for a 4 mile time trial on the busiest days of the year. You’ll encounter runners and bikers and roller bladers who have no clue that anyone else could possible be out on the gorgeous Chicago lake front path on these beautiful summer days.

It’s crazy dangerous. I don’t go there on weekends and when I am riding the path, I’m of the attitude that it’s all good.

I did ride the lakefront today and it was glorious to not dress in 83 layers, to not worry about my hands and feet becoming numb, to see the pretty women out running, to see the signs of spring all around.  My bike felt great and I felt great riding it.

This past winter weather was so bitter cold and snowy that after a week of melting temps, there are still huge mounds of ice on the beaches which are drawing local “weather tourists.” Rounding the curve headed south from Oak St. Beach about 6.5 miles into today’s ride, the ice is still so thick that there’s a clear shallow path close to the wall that creates Lake Shore Drive and the ice chills the air noticeably and why is this bike riding soft and and and…

Flatting tires show no mercy.

I haven’t had a flat tire in over 4 years.

After staring at the thing and pondering my options – I mean, really, what other option is there but to repair the damn thing right where were I was? I’m an idiot – I unloaded my seat bag full of tube replacement fixit doo-dads and turned the bike upside down and removed the wheel and proceeded with the tube replacement procedure.

Nothing in the tire; I ran my fingers all around the inside of the tire at least 5 times and felt nothing. I saw nothing. Pumped up the tube to see where the leak was but saw nothing and with all the traffic on Lake Shore Drive just a few feet from my ass I couldn’t hear any air leaks. The only thing I could think of is the tube just failed. It is rather old with thousands of miles on it, not that i’ve ever heard of a tube just spontaneously failing but I suppose it could happen.

I am reluctant to report that i didn’t bring it home to perform a forensic test on the thing. Another “I shoulda…” moment.

Not that I enjoyed changing my tube but things could have been much worse; I was sitting lakeside on a gorgeous day and 5 riders stopped and asked if they could help, if I had everything I needed and if I was okay.

I never do this, I never stop to help. Why? There are a ton of silly stupid reasons but we don’t have time for this now.

I always carry a spare tube, a CO2 inflator and tools needed to fix a flat. From now on, it won’t kill me to carry two spare tubs; one for me and one to give away. Now, you weight weenies might holler but I’m sure y’all think I’m riding a monolith anyway, I mean, just how much does my loaded steel-framed bike weigh? Incomprehensible!

Right!

With the tire fixed, the bike put back together and all is good as new yet I’m down a spare tube and the confidence that inspires. My tires are older than I’d like (just ordered Conti Gatorskin foldables this morning!) and I do ride in an urban environment so I cut today’s ride in half and headed north towards home while mentally plotting out all the bike shops along the way just in case this second tube failed.

Did I yet mention today’s wind is a swirly southerly/westerly mess moving around 12mph and gusting much higher? Did I mention I could motor home with a strong tail/tail-cross wind with all the fun associated with such winds?

With my bike hoisted upstairs, I changed my clothes and walked over to my favorite local bike shop because I had to purchase some extra CO2 cartridges and this gave me a chance to chat up the folks and look around at new bike stuff. What bike rider does not enjoy this? Some pretty new bikes in that shop, I’d like at least three that I saw.

Today’s post-ride nutrition was a painfully cold can of BLATZ.  The words necessary to describe the experience escape me.

I’ll have another Lagunitas Night Time or I have some Greenbush Distorter porter and their Brother Benjamin imperial IPA waiting for some company.

Today was a day where things went almost nowhere near planned, yet, I was able to ride for a few miles and so some admirable work, I was able to get to my local bike shop, I was able to change my flat and honestly, how can any day with a Blatz be a disappointment?

Cheers!