Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stained Glass Bicycle Wheel

The drawing I sent to my Nono.
The finished product

A while ago I rebuilt the wheels of my Fuji Royale II.  It had the gold anodized ukai rims.  The rear one was warped a bit, and luckily I found a NOS gold ukai to replace it on ebay.  But what to do with the old warped one?  Should I really just throw it away? 

No!  On my ride to New Jersey last September I was inspired by some bicycle art I saw in Lambertville to have my Nono (grandfather) do a stained glass piece inside of it.  I put twelve spokes in it, and shipped it to him when I got home.  He has been doing stained glass for a few years now.  I drew up the design and included it with the rim.  It looks exactly like my drawing.  He did an awesome job don't you think?  He had to build his own template of wood to support the glass as he built it up.  There was a hole in the center to accomodate the hub, and the template laid on top of a hollow box about 4" tall so it would lay flat. The spokes served as a support system for the soldering, allowing for the open space between the glass and rim.

I brought it home after our visit with them in Illinois last week.  It is now displayed proudly in my window, ready to be shown off to everyone who visits.  I have a few steel Ukai rims waiting for a similar fate.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Racing the Sun

5:15am-  Wake up, shower, stretch.  Dress, base layers.  Prepare water, food.  85 miles from Champaign, IL to Springfield, IL... I can do this.  It is dark.

6:30am-  Breakfast in the hotel lobby, coffee, toast, juice,banana.  The sun meets me and my Fuji Royale II at the start.

7:00am-  On the road, heading directly west.  Next stop Monticello, IL.  9mph winds from the N/NW.  It is cold.  Hazy, don reflective gear, turn on tail lights, put on headlight.  So far so good.

9:00am-  Arrive at the Brown Bag Deli in Monticello.  On schedule.  The place is immediately familiar and I remember that I was here in 2003 after the wedding rehearsal of a good friend.  I eat a fabulous toasted turkey salad bagel and coffee.  Missing my friend, wish we had time to see them on this trip, but it is too far to drive.  The sun keeps traveling.

10:00am-  Back on the road.  My route takes me through Allerton Park outside of Monticello, where my friend was married.  Memories.  I ride by the statue of the Sun Singer, which Robert Allerton had made and placed in the park.  He originally saw it in Stockholm and wanted a smaller version for his yard, but the maker made it for him in original size so he had to find a bigger space for it.  I pass a buffalo farm.  It seems they are all looking at me.  They look strong and healthy.  Still on schedule. Still in front of the sun.

11:15am-  On 1400N heading directly west again.  At a non-descript intersection, checking my compass because the road signs are turned around.  Check in with my wife, take off a layer.  I'm surprised I have a cell phone connection.  I feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  These fields are vast.  I can see for miles and miles around.  I am alone.  Sing when you ride far and the wind is pushing you back, and you are alone and it is cold.  It helps.  I think of the state of our country, farming, respect of our land, how we return to this very ground, dirt.  I think of the Native Americans, war, disparity of thought.  I hit gravel, wet from yesterday's rain, slogging through for a couple of miles in this takes a toll on speed and comfort.  The sun and I are neck and neck.

1:30pm-  Latham, IL The Korn Krib Resaurant built in and around grain storage bins.  I use the bathroom, and refill water.  No time to sit and eat here.  Have to keep moving.  Beginning to tire more.  Dogs!  The young one is fearless, comes toward me non-stop.  I dismount so he thinks twice.  He tries to get behind me for the attack but I turn to keep him at bay.  He is ruthless.  I walk by the house till I get far enough to satisfy him that I'm not a threat.  I get on bigger roads to avoid more dogs, and think they'll be even smoother, but I was wrong.  Hard packed gravel, but bumpy.  Takes a toll on my energy, slowing to less than 10mph.  I plod along, hurting, falling morale.  Finally, Hwy 54!  I'm less than 5 miles from my childhood home.  But the sun has taken the lead.

3:45pm-  A second wind.  Ride through the old neighborhood, see the old house.  Haven't been here since 1995.  Family no longer owns this house since parents divorced back then.  I lived there from 1978-1995, half of my life.  It pains me that I can't come back.  It is for sale, $159,000.  The trees my father planted are large now, forest-like.  I had to ride my bike here this time instead of just drive by.  Going slower gives the memories time to be remembered.

4:50pm-  Arrive at my destination.  Time to go in to visit my grandparents with my wife and two daughters.  Time to stop looking to the past and keep moving forward.  Special times, creating new memories.  It is dark.  The sun wins, barely.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Century Ride

Well I finally did it.  I rode 100 miles (at one time).  I've had this goal since about 2007.  That is the same year we had our first child, and it has been difficult to ride consistently enough to achieve it.  However, I realized that with the riding I started doing twice a week at the velodrome in August, then my 60 mile ride to Jersey in September, and 3 times weekly riding my daughter to pre-school, and my Tuesday and Thursday 20 mile rides, I might actually be able to do a 100 mile ride.  And I did. 

We happened to be visiting my wife's parent's house in Maryland in October, and it turned out that we would be there at the same time that Salisbury University holds their famous Seagull Century ride.  I immediately signed up.  There was only about a week and a half before the day of the ride.  I didn't know much about it yet, but I soon learned that this is a humongous event, with over 8,000 riders participating.  They have been doing this ride for over 20 years.  We had a tough time finding a hotel, but we ended up getting a room at a Comfort Inn that was anything but.  I'm not going to spend time complaining about that though. 

We woke up to a beautiful morning, a perfect day for a ride.  It really was, despite the 20+ mph winds that developed.  The forecast had been calling for that so it was no surprise.  One hazard I had not thought about until now though is to watch out for large falling tree limbs.  One fell about 25 feet in front of me.  There was nobody underneath it at that point, but there could have been with so many of us out there.  I was next in line, but I had plenty of time to stop, get off the bike, and drag it off the road.  It was quite large, and would have hurt.  Anyway... the route is relatively flat, and that made it a good choice for my first century.  I chose the Assateague route which took us to the Eastern Shore, which was beautiful.  Unfortunately I was riding alone.  It would have been nice to have had a friend along for the ride, but I don't have any cycling friends in Maryland (yet).  I wasn't shy though, and introduced myself to some people.  A group of 5 guys passed me at one point, and I sped up to stay with them.  I joined their paceline, and they welcomed me in.  Most of them were Navy guys, and I talked most to Andy.  I continued on my way when they stopped to use the bathroom.  Later I met a fellow named Peter.  I rode up to him because he was wearing a UVA jersey.  I thought I might know him, or at least know someone he knows since we lived in Charlottesville for so long, but it turned out he went to school there years ago, and hadn't been there in while.  It was still good conversation. 

The rest stops were excellent.  There was no shortage of food or drink, everyone was very encouraging, the bathroom lines went very quick and people were courteous.  The organization of this event was stellar.  I rode the fuji opus iii, which was a good choice because it is so light and fast.  It cut through the wind very well.  I considered taking the Royale II, but it has the fenders (which I wouldn't have needed) and my pack, and is a bit heavier.  It was nice to get a chance to ride the Opus which I haven't ridden in about a year I think.

It feels good to have finally reached that goal.  It was nice too that I wasn't completely dead after doing it.  I felt good all the way through, and had energy to spare afterward.  That means I really was prepared well for it.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  I didn't take any photos because I didn't want to carry the camera.  I just wanted to ride.  I also had forgotten my garmin device, but I was glad I did.  It helped me enjoy the ride more without worrying about how fast I was going, or what my mileage was, etc...