Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Cyclist in Winter

Winter officially began about 3 weeks ago, but it has been feeling like that for 3 months. The trainer is being used more often along with the thought that there has got to be a better way to go about this indoor cycling thing. TACX knows this:

My reality is a little different. Wife banned the trainer from anywhere inside the house.

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I hate chandeliers anyway and the longest I can usually stay on a trainer is an hour, so I'll keep my present arrangement.
It's taking me longer to do 200Ks. Finished this latest one with a big 20 minutes to spare. Hey, one is supposed to get better with experience, right? As we were driving to the start in Newberg, the precipitation was a slush of rain and snow. Joanne chirpped that the forecast was for sunshine. I said if the roads were icy, I wasn't riding. We get to the parking lot and John discovered that he 1) did not have his main light battery. He felt that his back up light would be sufficient. Then he found out that 2) he forgot his rain jacket. "That's a show stopper" I muttered. Undaunted, off he goes back to Salem to retrieve the missing items. Joanne and I went to the coffee shop 3 blocks away to wait. At the agreed upon time I went back to the parking lot to look for Paul R. who had drove from Eugene. He had signed up for the same route unaware of our plans. We were happy to have another rider for company. My question for John was- who is Paul? When John was filling me in on the way up by starting with the fellow having some impressive randonneur credentials, I knew immediately who it was. I met him on Salem Bike Club's Peach Century. We both had our PBP jerseys on. He did PBP in less than 80 hours and with plenty of sleep. How am I going to keep up with this guy and a strong tandem?
I was going to take a picture at the coffee shop when I found that my digicam was DNS due to low battery. It spent the 200K in John's car. I've been using old school cameras for 40 years and digicams for the past 4 years and am decidedly ambivalent about the latter. Digital advantages: Don't have to scan, one camera body can serve for low speed, high speed, color and B&W film equivalents. Lots of options in a reasonably sized package. The quality of the Fujifilm S5 is good enough for my purposes. Up to 5 months ago, I could not say that about the prior digicams I had used. Digital disadvantages:between the battery and the camera basically being a computer, the thing either works as designed or not at all. Film advantages: Leicas are essentially very sturdy point and shoots. They have a bomb proof body and an overbuilt shutter. The meter is battery powered, but a spare battery is coin-sized. If for some reason (battery drained has happened twice) the meter doesn't work, exposure for negative film is forgiving and easy to estimate. The rangefinder mechanism is vulnerable, but if it goes out you can focus by guessing the distance. Disadvantages: output is limited to the loaded film's characteristics. Yes color can be converted to monochrome during scanning, but doesn't translate as well as I would like. Unfortunately, scanning technology is not evolving at the same rate as digicam technology (capitalism at work here).
We left about an hour past our official starting time. All of us were prepared for 200K in rain,wind and cold and we rode into a headwind/crosswind for the first third of the ride. There is a great little Mexican food place in Mt. Angel that we have used before as a control. The food and hospitality were wonderful. The tone for the ride was by then apparent- good company rather than competition. The weather also turned relatively benign.
We did have some rough spots on the way back. Hwy 47 was no fun at night in the driving rain with lots of cars, blinding headlights and a narrow shoulder. John and Joanne then had a flat in Forrest Grove with 3 tubes required to repair. We all thought however of our good luck: we were repairing it under an awning and with good lighting instead of say on Hwy 47. We were aware that Paul's R-12 string was at risk if he stayed with us. Much to his credit, comeradeship was more important than the award.
As stated above, we did get back in time. The completion time was nothing to brag about, the conditions were not confortable, no photos to show, but I very much enjoyed the ride due to the company I kept.