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pedal plenty

notes on a north american cycle trip in 2008

Archive for the 'equipment' Category



Well, next it is time to STOP! Next is cycle to Canada. It’s just over there, over that bridge. I now have to:

  • cycle to Saint John
  • cross on the Ferry to Nova Scotia
  • bus it to Dartmouth (I hope this doesn’t happen)
  • get my haircut
  • by appropriate clothes to wear at conference. I doubt they’ll let me in wearing padded cycle shorts and WSDOT reflecto-vest.
  • meet Le Chef. Hurrah!
  • Fly to QC
  • Attend IFLA
  • Fly back to Halifax
  • Go on holiday in Nova Scotia sans velo
  • Fly home
  • Go mountain biking with Fraulein Direktor
  • Close diary
  • Earn a living

Posted by me on August 5th, 2008

Packed and greased!

Yesterday, in that torrent a terrible, terrible noise started in Haggis. At first I tried to ignore it and turned up the iPod but it was a persistent and loud noise.

I began to wonder if the rack was coming loose. But no, all was fine back there.

Then I wondered if there was a problem with the seat post. Maybe it will collapse beneath me. But no.

Oh no, perhaps the frame is cracked? Probably it has, due to the shockingly bumpy roads of Vermont. If the frame breaks while I am on the bike then I will surely die. But then I remembered, before I took Haggis to Bicycle Works for her final pre-tour fit-up I over zealously washed her and the next day there was a horrid sound from the rear wheel. It had got full of water but after one day it was better. A-ha! That’s the problem. Just some water. Nothing to worry about.

But today, Haggis is still making that noise. I think it’s getting worse. I am very worried about the bike. What will happen if I keep cycling? Can a rear wheel seize? I have a mountain range to go over. I am not sure that Haggis will make it. I decide to go around the mountain range and arrive in Plymouth. I see a man with two bikes on the back of the car and he directs me to the local bike store.

Hmm. May be the freewheel. We’ll have a look.

While waiting I drool over the lovely Trek Madones and steal the shop’s wifi to check my email and update my Facebook status with an appropriately whining comment.

Yup. The axle is the problem. You’re lucky it wasn’t the freewheel coz that would be expensive. There was dirt and water in the race. The ball bearings were worn, some were rusty and all the grease was gone.

Poor lamb/Haggis. The man said the axle had probably been going down hill (arf arf) since my soaking out West and yesterday was the last straw. So, new ball bearings have been installed and packed with grease. The horrid sound has gone. The tyres have been blown up too. All is good with the world.

But then things get even better. I am chatting to some guys outside the shop as I reload Haggis. That mountain range I avoided? It’s famous coz of its 13% grades. Haggis and me don’t do 13% grades. Even TdF cyclists with featherlight bikes don’t care for such inclines. So a bad day becomes a good day and ends even better when I get fish for tea!

Bike tech aside: Haggis is better but the men at the bike shop warned that the cones on one side are pitted. This means that one day the rear wheel will need replacing. Wheels for touring bikes are expensive beasties. But maybe then it’s time for a Rohloff hub if a new wheel is needed. Why spend a lot of money when you can in fact spend an entire shedload?


Posted by me on July 29th, 2008

How do you pronounce that?

So I am in the Adirondack Park. It’s nice here. There are trees.
Trees = shade
Shade = 96F – 10F which is almost bearable.
And there’s a huge shoulder / bike lane where I am mostly safe except when the Sex in the City gals in their huge cars stray in to my lane coz they are too busy applying their lippy. There are also lots of cars with bicycles on the back of them but no-one seems to be cycling. Nevermind, it’s nice that folks take their bicycles out for a pedal free trip. I arrive at the Ox Bow Lake and there’s a nice bar / restaurant here where I go in for lunch but I learn that lots of bikers (of the motor type) are about to arrive so I order quick. About 150 bikers on Harleys arrive. It takes all my strength and stamina not to laugh out loud at them. This is part of the Umerican culture that is beyond me. Fat, middle aged men on ridiculous looking motorbikes. Their Harleys make a terrible noise which indicates to me that these men lack self confidence so need to make a racket to draw attention to themselves. Maybe they think they look cool? Like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape or James Dean. But on no, Steve and James didn’t have beer bellies and thinning hair. Guys, the rest of the world is laughing at your midlife crisis. Trade the Harley in. Get a Carbon Cannondale.

But back to the Adirondack Park and in particular the Adirondack mountains. But first let me explain The Known Truth About Hills which only cyclists know. When you cycle down a hill and can see the next hill ahead of you that you are going to climb, the hill always looks steeper than it actually is. I guess it’s that perspective thing. So steep hills aren’t. The Known Truth About Hills is a given everywhere except in the Adirondack Park, I also have heard rumour that The Known Truth About Hills is false in The Appalachians. So I am cycling down a hill and I see the next one and
Oh my, that looks steep
but I know The Known Truth About Hills.
Oh bugger, this IS steep
This is Out Of The Saddle steep

Will I have to get down in to the bottom ring of the crank? I haven’t been in the bottom ring yet. But the nasty steep hill is short, I have powerful quads that surprise me and those clippy-on shoes that allow me to pull the pedal up as well as press it down. Yup, King O’ The Adirondack Mountains jersey on my back.



Posted by me on July 23rd, 2008

Those boys …

Today I cycled a few miles with Team Cobra39 Bike Squadron. Well, to be honest, Team Cobra39 slowed down to Team PedalPlenty pace so I could cycle with them. Those boys are fast. Today was day 29 for them and they are here already, 3000 or so miles into their trip. I am on day 60 and only 200 miles ahead of them. See, if only I could learn to fuel my body appropriately I could cycle 130 miles a day but Oh no, I shovel down pie and soft scoop ice cream. Gary and Matt, don’t however drag 30lbs of stuff behind their lovely Trek Madone 5.2s. Gary and Matt are backed up by Larry, the Team Director. He drives the car with the spare bike, maps the route, finds lunch spots, ensures les bidons (waterbottles) are kept topped up and takes all the photos.

Thanks for lunch guys. And thanks for cycling with me it cheered me up and distracted me from my homesickness.

So, after leaving Team Cobra39 I headed away from Lake Erie, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I’ve seen the Falls before and the whole tourist circus that surrounds it so no need to do that again. I have now arrived in Lockport which is … eh … a port, with some locks. It’s at the West End of the Erie Canal.


Posted by me on July 19th, 2008


All I have to wear is …

  • 2 pairs of cycling pads
  • 2 pairs of cycling shorts
  • 4 t-shirts (1 acquired in Fort Collins)
  • 1 long sleeved t-shirt (acquired in Denver)
  • 1 pair of convertible trousers
  • 3 pairs of socks (1 pair acquired in Fort Collins)
  • pyjama bottoms
  • 2 bras
  • 3 pairs of knickers,
  • 2 vests
  • 1 merino cardigan,
  • 1 Goretex waterproof
  • a pair of Goretex cycling shoes
  • a buff
  • 3 neckerchiefs
  • 2 pairs cycling gloves (1 pair acquired Macomb)
  • 1 pair of fleecy gloves
  • 1 pair of longs
  • 1 WSDOT reflective vest

I have disposed of 3 pairs of socks (i.e. turned them into cloths for wiping Haggis), sent home many woolly things which are unnecessary in 90F and binned big thick gloves.

But given all that I am carrying I have not changed my clothes in three weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I wash my clothes. I wash my cycling clothes every day but I just don’t change my clothes.

  1. When I cycle I wear my NorthWave cycle shoes, SmartWool cycling socks, my padded undershorts and over shorts, my Howies red t-shirt which Gussie and Roderick gave me, a bra, my red neckerchief, WSDOT vest and my Trek cycle gloves.
  2. When I get off my bike I wash all of the above except shoes, WSDOT vest and gloves. Then I wash myself and put on my other pair of outer shorts, my chihuahua vest as sent to me by Imelda, my long sleeve t-shirt and my Tevas.
  3. And when I am completely done for the day I put on my arthritis charity t-shirt and my pyjama bottoms.

And when I get up in the morning, I repeat steps 1 to 3. I have not changed my clothes since I left Fort Collins in Colorado. It’s easier this way. It stops the dithering around in the morning, I wonder what I will wear today? It’s all very minimalist. I better snap out of this before I return to work.

The more observant amongst you may have noted a certain amount of commando-ness going on. After a day in padded shorts, you’d be going regimental too.


Posted by me on July 16th, 2008

Day 52 stats

Monticello, Indiana

Distance: 0 miles. A rest day.
So far: 2771 miles
Time spent cycling: 5 minutes
Time spent in bed: all day
Episodes of M.A.S.H.: three
Episodes of Little House on the Prairie: two
Hours of Tour de France followed: four


Posted by me on July 11th, 2008

All change

Disgusting.  Horrid. Slimy.  Black.  Dye-leaking. Rancid.  Smelly. Rapha. Mitts.


Have now been retired in preference for the.  Clean. Fragrant. Non-Dye leaking.  With snot wiping bit.  Lovely.  Pink. Trek. Mitts.   trek.jpg

Posted by me on July 7th, 2008

A bit sick

Haggis is sick. Slipping gears. The poor thing. And poor me too. Slipping gears are a nightmare. Just when you need to be in a lower gear it slips to a big one. Just when you need to be in a big gear it slips to a low one. And if you stand on the pedals and the gears slips …. well … that can be very sore but more sore for the male of the species.

So I took Haggis to The Bike Shop in Macomb, where the owner (Mike I think) took such good care of her. A quick tweak of her cable barrel (ooh err), some air in the tyres and adjustment of the rear brake so it actually stops the bike. And I wasn’t charged for her repairs. Oh thank you everyone at The Bike Shop.


Posted by me on July 7th, 2008

Attention seeking …

Don’t stop believing, hold on to that fee-eh-linng, I sang while wondering if this Journey song should make it into my Top Ten Songs of the trip. I am quite fond of this song. I knew it from college and then it was in the last ever episode of The Sopranos when I thought the b*stards were gonna shoot Meadow.

Don’t kill Meadow. Don’t kill Meadow.

But just before the song came on the Nano I had been reflecting on the general neglect of Haggis. She has been performing well but I have not been attending to our routine of checking tyres, checking greasiness of chain, dusting, polishing, pampering etc. So I had decided that when I got to Grand Island she’d get 20 minutes attention for her good work for bringing me 380 miles in 5 days without complaint.

Pop. Oh! Whazzat. A flat tyre. Hmm. In the back wheel.

Poor Haggis, she couldn’t wait another 16 miles til Grand Island. She needed attention now.

So I pulled a 2 inch nail out of the tyre, put on a new tube, blew it up and we were on our way again.

And then I reflected on the strange calmness of the puncture resolution. Previously I would have tutted, fussed, been annoyed, fretted. But now, it’s just. Oh. A flat. I’ll fix that. And 10 minutes later me and Haggis are rolling again. No harsh words. No hard feelings. Higher plain. I think so!

And so, I am in Grand Island. There is a brewery here, so of course I had to. And there is an ethnic festival. Ethnic means Hispanic here. Tomorrow there will be a Pipe Band, I’m not sure if it will be a Scottish Pipe Band (God forbid) or the Pan Pipe Players from Peru (altho’ I am sure they are now in Edinburgh). But fortunately I will be long gone by then. rrhaggis.jpg

Posted by me on July 1st, 2008

Day 40 stats

Julesburg, Co to North Platte, Nebraska

Distance: 82 miles
Total so far: 1957 miles
New state: Nebraska
New Time zone: Central time. This time zoning thing is like having to endure the change to BST every 3 weeks.
Hotness: Yes, very, very. 35C or 95Fnebraska.jpg


Posted by me on June 29th, 2008