Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Evening Ride

I decided to take Helena out to stretch her... wheels... this evening. It was interesting, after riding Hedwig to the barn all week, to feel how different Helena rides. She is much more comfortable, with her upright seating and her weight makes her feel much more steady. Her braking isn't as smooth or grippy as Hedwig's, and she squeaks and rattles quite a lot, but I forgive her. :) Also, I was reminded of just how much I love the Sturmey Archer 3 Speed hub. It's so nice to be able to shift from a stop, or while coasting. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of shifting with the stem shifters on Hedwig.

So, I rode out to the lake again, since it had been awhile, and it's a lovely ride. Didn't see any horses this time, but I did discover this little lake side path:

It's just a narrow, bumpy little trail that has several little "campsites" along the way. All of which are posted No Overnight Camping. So I suppose that these are all fishing/drinking/make-out spots? But they all have nice views of the water, and Helena just had to pose at a couple. :)

Once we got home, I made a little treat. This has become a favorite on these hot summer days, so I thought I would share the recipe!

You'll need:

Frozen fruit. I'm using blueberries, since I've got a freezer full right now.
Skim Milk

Fill the glass with however much fruit you want. I usually do about 1/3 of the glass. Add about 1 tsp of sugar, more or less to taste. Next, pour in just enough milk to not quite cover the fruit, then stir. As you stir, the milk will start to freeze, forming a sort of ice cream. Enjoy! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

There has been a lot of talk about cycling in the summer heat, and how people deal with it and what they wear. My situation is a little different than most bicycle commuters, and maybe just a little bit easier (depending on your idea of easy!)

I live in southern Appalachia (northeast TN). Our days lately have been in the low to mid 90's with a LOT of humidity. My commute is only 5 miles one way, but it's a VERY hilly 5 miles. It's like riding a roller coaster! There is about .5 mile of flat road, in a little valley. The rest looks like this:

Which makes for a gorgeous ride, but there is no chance of taking it easy and not pedal hard. When I was only riding Helena, I would have to walk her up some of the hills, but now with Hedwig I can actually ride up! But no matter what, either way, when I get to work my shirt looks like this:

So, since I work outside and get filthy and sweaty, I change into "barn" clothes. This time of year that consists of gym shorts and another tank top. Usually with a bikini top underneath (to save my bras! Swim suits are easier to washout every evening too).

Then I hang my good clothes out to dry on the bike so that I can have another set of dry clothes to change into for the ride home (which will be soaked by time I get there, but that's fine since I shower and change as soon as I get home anyway). :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Busy, Busy!

So busy, that I'm just going to give a quick review of the past few days.

Hedwig got new tires on Saturday!

I had to drill out her front wheel to fit a Schrader valve.

Her rear wheel for some reason had previously been drilled out for a Schrader. Not sure why her previous owner didn't bother to do both. Actually, I didn't use a drill for the job, my husband showed me how to use a taper reamer. It takes a little elbow grease, but you can sneak up on just the right fit. Unlike a drill, where you have to pick out a bit that is close and just go for it.

I also gave her new brake pads. The old pads seemed fine, but were a little squeaky. So I put a set of Koolstops that I already had on the front, and some other softer long pads on the back.

This set up seems to work really well! I use the rear brakes for most of my slowing and stopping on flats and both for stopping on a downhill.

In fiber-y news, I've been spinning up some Rambouillet/Merino cross that I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool year before last.

It's a very nice fleece. A bit on the short staple side, but nothing I can't work with. I'm going to have to only hand card this, I think. I suppose I could try running some through the drum carder just to see what happens, but I'm quite happy with the results from hand cards.

It's also very sproingy! Lot's of very fine crimp.

I'm spinning it up as a 2ply in about a DK weight. I plan to knit a pair of knee high cabled sock with it (actually, I've already got it started, just haven't gotten a chance to take a picture!)

Also, we are very excited! My husband just got a contract on a very big job! More on that later, but at least we know that we'll be able to keep a roof over our heads for the next 12-14 months. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's a Girl!

For about 2 weeks now we've been expecting one of the Jennets, Eli, to have her baby. Well, Wednesday evening at around 9pm she finally did!

This year she had a beautiful little girl! She looks just like her momma too.

By the time I got out there yesterday afternoon, she was up and running around in the stall.

Too much cute!

Then, on my ride home, I found this turtle hanging out in the road. I've seen too many animals pancaked along this stretch, so I opted to move it somewhere safer.

I took it for a little ride in my basket. There is a creek and woods behind my house, far from roads. Much safer for Turtles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet Hedwig!

Don't we all love unplanned bicycles? Yesterday I found this little Kettler Alu-Rad mixte.

It's an all aluminum bicycle, made in W. Germany (so pre-fall of the wall?) and was too cute to pass up. Upright handlebars, fenders, dynamo front and rear lights (which don't work, but that can be remedied). At first I was thinking that I would use it for parts for another mixte that I have, but once I got home with it, my husband fell in love with it's looks and talked me out of it.

It's incredibly light weight, airy, and seems to be capable of going much faster than I am comfortable with. Since it has been pardoned from being cannibalized, and is now an official pasture mate for Helena, it needed a name. I left that job to my husband. We decided that it needed to be German, since that is where she was made, and decided to continue using H names, so he picked out Hedwig. Not necessarily like the owl character in the Harry Potter books, though she is light and lofty like a bird, but because I will be able to battle the hills much more efficiently.

She is going to need a little work before I can take her out to the barn, but since the tires hold air, I couldn't resist just going up the street. Just a mile or so. :) It took me a few minutes to remember how to shift a ten speed, since I hadn't ridden one in about 15 years. I was surprised at how much easier it became to get up my hill! On Helena, I'm in 1st and sweating and breathing heavy by time I make it up. I didn't even break a sweat or get even a little bit winded by time I made it up on Hedwig. She is going to need new tires (27 and 1 1/16?!? Anyone know where I can find that size? Would something else work? I hope I don't end up needing to replace the wheels as well.) tubes, break pads (though these aren't bad) and some of the sprockets in the rear cluster have chipped teeth. The it's just the little things like a new saddle (I'm thinking a black Brooks B72), and get rid of those rubber grips in favor of something else.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Light Up

The last few evenings this week I have passed a couple out for their evening bike ride. They appear to be about mid to late 40ish, and ride in full uniform (lycra, helmets, gloves, goggles). It's usually about 8:15ish when I encounter them, so the sun is almost set and it's getting dark. The first time I passed them (they going down the hill I was huffing my way up), I almost didn't see them. Not because I was looking at the road, or focused on trying to make it up the hill, or enjoying the scenery, in fact I was sitting quite upright and leisurely pedaling along looking ahead and occasionally checking my rearview mirror. I didn't see them because they had NO lights on their bikes. None at all. It was almost dark, that bit of road is particularly dark due to thick overhanging tree branches. I don't even think that I noticed a reflector. I was maybe 15 feet from the first of the two before I saw him. This is also the time of day when not all motorists have turned their headlights on, so if I couldn't spot the cyclist, god help the motorists that come upon these two. I also noticed that they don't have any mirrors on their bikes. None on the handlebars or helmet mirrors. Helmets! They've got those! Like that will save them when the speeding kid in the little import with the booming stereo come roaring down that dark tunnel of a hill and creams them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sensible Footwear

I have a lot of boots. Most of my footwear are boots. I can't remember the last time I owned a pair of sneakers or sandals. I have work boots, barn boots and rain boots,

dress boots and casual boots. Normally this would be just fine with me, but since taking up cycling as a mode of transportation, and with hot muggy summer days, I've discovered that sometimes boots are just not the right shoe for the job. I had been riding in flip flops, which are fine for most of the ride, but are difficult to keep on when trying to get up the hills. So I've been doing a little shopping around and finally found the perfect summer shoe:

Recently, while reading a post by Dottie at Let's Go Ride a Bike I was reminded about Keen sandals. A friend had recommended those to me a long time ago, and I had completely forgotten about them. So I tried some on, and I was sold!

These are SO comfortable. And water proof too. I didn't buy the cycling specific sandals, just the regular waterproof closed heel shoe. As Dottie said, they are ugly as sin, but I think that I have found a winner! (I can see myself now trying to wear these with handknit socks come winter. Talk about fugly!)

Rain. Bleh.

Well dang. It's raining. It's supposed to thunderstorm all day. I am slowly resigning myself to the fact that I may just have to bite the bullet and drive the car to the barn today. :( After last Friday's brakeless adventure, I suppose that it's the saner thing to do.

BUT that also means that I can hang around the house a little longer and so some knitting! I'm very excited about the piece that I' working on. Photos to come soon! :)


So, I went ahead and risked it, and rode anyway. My husband urged me too (b/c he knows that I will be grumpy if I don't ride). It was fine and actually stopped raining all together, so I'm glad that I did! I had planned, if it started raining enough that the brakes wouldn't work, to just get off and walk. So that may just be the plan from now on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cherry Picking

A friend of mine has several cherry trees in her yard. I rode over (unfortunately not by bicycle, as she lives about 30 miles away and I had to get home in time to go to work) last Thursday for some knittin' and pickin'.

We got a good deal of picking done. This is just a small sampling of what is now in my freezer. I made a little knitting progress as well, all of which I ended up ripping out last night. Last minute design change. We'll see how that turns out later.

Friday, June 4, 2010

First wet ride!

I got to ride home in the rain for the first time today! There was a nasty sounding thunderstorm building up right as I was about to leave the barn. I had been listening to it rumble for about an hour, then just as I was locking up, little drops if water started sprinkling down.

Not knowing how waterproof my lights are, I covered them with some sandwich bags that I had in my saddle trunk. (Like zip ties, you never know when some sandwich bags might come in handy!) I ditched the flip flops in favor of my boots for the ride home, donned the ball cap and sunglasses to keep the water out of my eyes and set out. At first it was just a light drizzle, but soon it became a full on down pour. It was fantastic! And felt SO good after a long hot day. I even found myself sticking my tongue out to catch droplets, as if it were snow. :) I have to say, I LOVE riding in the rain. In the summer at least. Helena on the other hand, is emphatically opposed to being ridden in the rain.

She did NOT want to stop or even slow down on the hills. 40+ year old caliper brakes, even with new Kool Stop brake pads just don't cut it in pouring down rain on steep hills. Which was fine so long as there was an uphill after the downhill, which is the case for most of my commute, but the last intersection that I cross is at the bottom of a hill, and she almost didn't want to stop for that. I had to put feet to the road to brake for that one. This is only the case if it is actually raining. On wet road, it seems as thought the brakes catch, though not as well as they do when it's dry. But at least they DO work then. So, as much as I might have enjoyed the rain, I think it best not to ride Helena in that much water. I'll call for a ride or wait the storm out from now on. At least until I can save up for my Pashley or Oma (haven't decided which, but the internal hub/drum brakes would have been wonderful today!)

In the mean time, Helena is going to drip dry and sulk on her towel in the kitchen.

They did it wrong.

On my ride home yesterday evening, I saw an unusual sight. A car full of young guys, probably high school or maybe freshmen in college, pulled up beside me. I could hear them laughing and carrying on in the car, so I turned to look as they passed. One of the guys had his pants down, rear end up in the air and pressed to the window, but (thankfully!) not the window facing me. So, I guess he was mooning the cows? Ah, the things you see from the bicycle. Just thought I would share that bit of absurdity. :)

Yesterday it was looking quite storm-ish. There were great big thunderheads all over the place, but lucky for me never directly over.

Good thing that downpour stayed over there! I had two donkeys tied up to dry from their baths, and I'm certain that they would not appreciate getting soaked again.