July 17, 2012

This thing on?

I'm still alive, yes - but life has been a bit nutty lately, and many
things involving social media and blogging have taken a back seat.
There don't seem to be enough hours in the day anymore to sit at the
keyboard... But that's summertime for ya.

I've been riding a lot more than usual for the last few summers,
getting in consistent commutes, even in the heat and drought
conditions the Midwest had been suffering. I have turned my training
rides north, back to the hills of Johnson Drive, Renner, and Pflumm.
The rewards are coming slower than they did when I was a younger man,
but they are coming. The key is not to let them slip in the first
place - the drone of complaint from the middle-aged American male.

Like I posted about many moons ago, train for something... Even if you
don't know what it is yet. I'm still "training", and having a great
time doing it, even if my only exploits involve dominating the "roller
coaster" stage of the bike trail commute home. Small potatoes... But
they're mine. And they're tasty. Hahaha!

The next R-12 run begins this weekend with a hot 202km ride around the
Princeton Roundabout route. I feel the need to travel.... I love the
local circuit, but I yearn for more variety in my randonneuring, so in
the coming months I plan to drive farther out to more routes that I
haven't tried yet. The KCUC perms catalog is huge... Enough for
several R-12s without repeating a route... The problem is me, my
nerves about unknown routes, and my hesitance to drive when I could be
riding...but it's time to branch out and explore!

I've also been auditioning some new tires lately, which is a new
branch in of itself. It takes quite a special tire to get me off my
trusted Panaracer Pasela rubber, but these looked promising and
represented the first tires I've found that resembled my previous
favorites: the long-discontinued Continental Ultra 2000s. The
candidate is the Specialized Espoir model in 700x25c. I have played
with several models of Specialized tires over the years, but have only
really been impressed with their mountain and utility tires, most
notably the venerable Nimbus. Their performance road tires have
always had an issue or two I could never quite get around, but this
one - so far - is hitting all the right notes. They are cheaper than
my Paselas, roll faster, are lighter, and seem fairly bomb-proof
without a rubbish ride quality. Look for a full review after I have a
chance to burn all the tread away and give them a good, long term

I still have things to relate about my recent RAAM experience, too,
but will save most of that for a later post - overdue, yes. I will
say that it remains an utterly humbling experience seeing the talent
in the UMCA world firsthand, and - trying not to be terribly defeatist
- I'm not an ultra-cyclist. I was, perhaps, briefly, in 2003...but,
it will be a long, long road back, should I even choose that
particular path. I like randonneuring, I like exploring... But, as a
good friend said recently, it may well be inevitable that I, someday,
try the big one. Speaking of picking something to train for, however;
first things first: until I find redemption at Tejas, RAAM or RAW is
only a dream. Walk the path... One step at a time. I've seen things
from the support van... The question that only I can answer remains
"now what?"

Among several projects around the house, that's about the size of
things lately - stay tuned for that tire review and a recap of the
upcoming 200k, and for goodness-sake, stay cool, stay hydrated, and
stay funky, people!

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