Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Evil Eye

I can cast a VooDoo spell from across the room.  
I can make a strong man cry. 
Raise the dead up from the tomb...
Baby I got the Evil Eye!

Ijust saw this in the mirror, as I was brushing my teeth.

This eye has seen things you can't imagine.  Scout ships burning off the shoulder of Orion...
No idea what caused it.

On a related note, it is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of your own eye.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Tennessee 2010 - Part 2

My morning routine, when visiting my parents, is to get up fairly early and drink my coffee in the shade of the maple tree, out in the front yard.  Eventually, everyone drifts out there and we sit in a circle of lawn chairs, talking and drinking java, petting the dog, etc.

On Thursday, as I sat sipping my cuppa, I could see what I thought was just a cicada hanging from the lowest limb of the evergreen by the driveway.  Eventually, I went to take a look at it, and saw that it was emerging from its chrysalis.  By the time I got my camera, the cicada was out, but still drying his wings.

Coincidentally, OldFool posted about a very similar experience, the other day

When I was a kid, my sister and I would spend time at my grandparents' house and the house of my two great-aunts, in the summer.  My great-aunt Alida would pick up the empty cicada shells and hang them from the curtain in the sitting-room.  Once the curtain was pretty full, it had a strange kind of beauty.

Alida was the oldest of three sisters (her, then my grandmother, then Kate).  Apparently, her parents thought she was the only child they would ever have, because they gave her every name they could come up with:  Alida Liza Bertha Franklin Schubert.  The second sister, my grandmother, was named Ruby Vera Schubert.  The youngest sister was simply Kate Schubert.  By then, they had run out of names, I guess...

Drew (my cousin Carol's boy), is going to be our next guitar player in the family.  Look out, Dwight Yoakam!

The bike, all loaded up for the trip home.  Man, it was muggy, that day!  It rained for a couple of hours, in the morning, but the sun came out and steamed the place up by the time I left at noon.

Note the guitar I picked up in Waynesboro, Tennessee, swaddled in trash bags and packing tape.  It got home dry, despite the 6 different rain showers I rode through, in two days.  I'll post details about the guitar over on 52 Card Pickup, later, if you are interested in it.  It is a 1960s Teisco electric, and it sounds pretty cool.

I couldn't carry my other purchase, conveniently, so my sister is taking it home to Pennsylvania, then delivering it when she and the family come out to Denver in July.  It's a vintage illustrated ice bucket, with drink recipes on it, as well.

The illustration for the "Old Fashioned" is particularly charming.  I love this style, and the ice bucket will take a place of honor in the GrinderBar.

The ride home was my favorite kind:  uneventful.  I left Savannah at around noon, and ended up stopping in Columbia, Mo, for the night.  I had hoped to make it to KC or Topeka, but there was a pair of wrecks on the Interstate, and traffic was backed up for miles.  After crawling along at a walking pace for nearly 10 miles, I pulled off at the first possible time and got a room in a Motel 6 (I haven't stayed in one of those for years), because it was next door to a Red Lobster restaurant.  I figured it would be nice to just walk across the parking lot to get dinner, rather than have to get back on the bike.

I slept like a baby until 6:00, the next morning, then got up and headed west at about 7:00.  Twelve hours later, I was home, having ridden about 720 miles.  The bike worked like a champ, the seat was comfy, and the only mechanical issue of the whole trip was just normal wear on the chain.  It is now at the end of it's adjustment, so I will have to replace it and the sprockets, soon.

The dogs seemed glad to see me, but they were relatively nonchalant about me getting back.  I ascribe that to the fact that my buddy Mark dog-sat for me, and he spoils them rotten.  They were probably hoping I had sold the house to Mark, and they had a new roommate.

Sunday morning, I got back into the Denver routine and went to Kaladi Brothers for coffee, and regaled the regulars with tales of my trip.  As I slipped back into the normal life, I was already nostalgic for the road.  I've apparently got a travelling bone in me, somewhere...


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Home From Tennessee

Just a quick post to let you know that I am back in Denver.  Made an easy two-day run back, 500 miles the first day, 700ish the next.  Ran through a few short rain showers, but no real problems.

Details to follow.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tennessee, 2010 - Part 1

I've been in Tennessee since Sunday, busily working through the list of chores my daddy had waiting for me.  So far, I have demolished the old brick and rubble steps (long story) on the front of the house, replaced them with precast concrete steps and stoop, and climbed up a 20-foot ladder to trim broken limbs over the top of the boat shed along with sundry other little chores.
On Friday, the day before I left on the trip, my Corbin seat finally arrived.  I would complain about how closely that came to being late, but I forgot to order it until 3 weeks before I was leaving.  Corbin put a rush on it, and got the seat to me in time to use it on this trip, essentially cutting the normal turnaround time in half.  I was happy about that, too, because the stock Suzuki seat made my back hurt after about 10 miles of riding!

Before leaving, on Saturday, I (of course) had to stop at Kaladi Brothers for coffee.  I sat outside and enjoyed the low humidity, figuring it would be a while before I was that dry, again.

The first 200 or 300 miles of the ride were pretty uneventful.  I rode across the Eastern Plains of Colorado, then into Kansas, and passed into
Central time.  Everything was good;  pretty weather, nice roads, comfortable seat on a more comfortable bike than what I've ridden the past few years.  Then....

Wind.  Scary, 50 to 60 mph wind crossing the Interstate at a 90-degree angle from my right (South) started blowing me around and continued doing so for about 150 miles.  I will tell you that, in 36 years of riding motorcycles, I have never been as scared, for so long, as I was riding in that wind.  At one point, a huge RV in front of me got up on 3 wheels (one front, two in back) and I thought it was going to roll on over.  Fortunately, the driver managed to get the upwind wheels back onto the pavement.

In a couple of intances, I was leaned far enough to the right that the front wheel was trying to turn in, and I was still heading for the left side of the road. The wind finally calmed down a bit as I got into the more wooded area east of Salina, and I was glad of that.

When I got close to KC, I called Noah, from KC Bike Commute, and arranged to meet him and his wife for dinner.  While I waited for them, in front of the Convention Center, I could see this building:

I really want to climb that fire escape, some day. 

Noah told me that it is the Light and Power Building, and we had a bit of discussion about building hacking and urban exploration as we ate dinner at:

Yeah, I thought it was pretty appropriate, too.  Food was good, and the art on the walls was the kind I like.  Plus, they have a stage and open-air concert venue, out back, where the likes of George Thorogood and Levon Helm play.  Cool place.

I never managed to get a picture of me and Noah, so you have to take my word that he was there.  (He took a picture of me and posted here, if you want to look.)

(I just looked at Noah's blog for the first time, since I saw him, and I see that he hit a deer on his bike, and got an ambulance ride to the hospital!  Think good thoughts for him:  Looks like he's pretty okay, but he got some painful sounding roadrash, cuts, etc.)

Then, I spent the night in Blue Springs, and continued on to Tennessee, the next morning.  No rain, little wind, and hot temps accompanied me in.

I'll cut this kind of short, because I don't want to bore you too much, but I want to share a few photos:

This is "Sweetie", the next-door neighbor's dog.  Supposedly, she is shy around people.  A couple of butter cookies and a whole lot of belly rubbing took care of that, though.  She looks like Jack's body with Oswald's skull in it (but, she is about twice the size of Jack).  She has been my buddy, all week.

Kyle and I took the pickups and controls from his broken guitar (it fell over and the headstock snapped off of the neck), and grafted them into this old Electra I had given him a few years ago.  Other than drilling the holes for the extra pots, it was pretty straighforward.  Of course, we got interrupted by the delivery of the new steps, and I had to come back later to finish soldering the connections.  Two hours later, I finally figured out what I had done wrong, after the distraction, and it was all together.

I like how it looks with the cream pickup surrounds and the Gibson-style tophat knobs on the Fender-style body.  Sounds good, too.



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting Ready to Ride East

Saturday morning, I will be heading for Tennessee on the big Suzuki.  I have spent much of the past few days preparing for the trip.

Packing?  Doing maintenance on the bike? Nope, just trying to get the house ready for a dog-sitter, basically.  Carol's dog, Ruby, blew out here ACL, and had knee surgery.  So, she can't have Jack and Oswald running around.  Boarding them is prohibitively expensive, which led me to ask Mark to babysit them.

I didn't want Mark to have to deal with the normal clutter (and, truthfully, I was getting pretty sick of it myself), so I did a bit of cleaning, tossing and rearranging.  Now that the house is a bit more normal, I can actually start to do laundry, pack, mow the yard, etc.

Man, this vacation stuff is hard work.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Hey, If Anybody is Interested...

I put another Skull Full of Blues song up on HRJG.  Check it out, if you'd like.

I made a video by filming still photos, and kinda synching them to the music.  They are grainy, out of focus and distorted, sorta like our memories of the past...


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Final Race Report, and Pictures

Well, the 24-hour race was a hoot.  I only completed a bit over 108 miles (down from the 120 I had originally hoped for), but I did that on purpose. (I'll explain that, farther down the page.)

Once again, Randy Caley was awesome as my camp manager, head cook and bottle washer.  He also took most of the pictures (Carol took the rest).

Colin and me, relaxing a couple of hours before the start of the race.  He and Carol had just gotten back from riding a lap on the course.


Lucky 13.

Oddly, when Mark picked up the 650, the other day, I told him that he should put a white oval on the tailpiece and paint the number 13 in it.  (Cue Twilight Zone theme...)

This year, rather than park our bikes at the start/finish and then run from the gate to them, we ran from the the gate to the start/finish with our bikes.  Well, some people ran.  For me, it was more of a leisurely jog.

Here I am after exiting the timing tent after the first lap.  I was feeling pretty good, and really enjoying the ride.  That continued throughout the race, actually.

Making the turn to go to the timing tent, at the end of lap number 2.  What had been the least fun part of the course, last year (going up the seemingly endless straight stretch along the RR tracks) was one of the highlights, this year, because we came down the slope.  There was one stretch on this section where I routinely topped 30 mph, and long stretches that I cruised along at between 20 and 25 mph.  If you could avoid the sand pits, it was great.  It was a little disconcerting if you hit the sand at that speed, however.

Sunset, during the third lap.

Pike's Peak alpenglow.

Swiping my card at the end of lap 3.  To keep up with rider laps, everyone has a magnetic card on a lanyard.  When you come through the timing tent, you swipe the card like a credit card.  
"Number it!", they would call out.  
"Thank you!"  I'd call back, then take off again.

After lap 3, I came in and had a ham 'n cheese sandwich.  Twenty minutes later, I was back on the bike, with my helmet light and headlights on, going for the night laps.

I had planned on going for at least another 3 laps, but after the second trip down the fast straight, unable to anticipate the sandy washes very well, I decided to call it a night.  My back was a little achy, too, so it seemed like a good time to eat some pasta, drink some Asti and then hit the sack for a few hours.

In bed at midnight, I did brief battle with some leg cramps, then slept through until about 4:20 (Dude!).  I stayed in the sack until the alarm went off at 5:20, then Randy and I got up for breakfast.

Randy had forgotten the griddle for his stove, so we skipped the pancakes and had scrambled eggs with pepperjack cheese, bacon and hashbrowns.  Talk about great fuel for bike riding...I felt stronger in the morning than I had the night before.  In fact, I ended up completing five laps between 7:30 and 11:00, an hour faster than the night before.  Of course, two of the laps the night before were in full darkness...

Out of the timing tent after lap 6, feeling strong like bull!

This is as close to "race face" as I get.  I leave the perma-scowl to the guys who are out to win.  If I have as much fun as I had, this weekend, that counts as a win, to me!

Same place, starting lap 8.  I was pulling over to give my arm warmers to Randy, and to tell him I might want a snack after that lap.  I was feeling great, and didn't want to let the tank get low.  It's really hard to recover from that, in an endurance race.

I had thrown down a 35-minute lap on lap7, Randy told me.  I felt great.  That was my fastest lap of the race, so far.

End of lap 8.  This is the last picture Randy took, before he had to go home.  Before he left, Randy made some ham 'n cheese sandwiches and a couple of pb&j, and put them in the cooler so that I wouldn't have to make them, myself, between laps. 

I can't say enough about how great it is to have him on my team.

So, the rest of day went something like this:  Go out for two laps, come in and eat, take ibuprofen (my right knee was beginning to get sore), apply sunscreen, then go back out.

I hit 100 miles on lap 12, came in and ate, then went back out for a couple of laps.  That was my plan, anyway.  I ended up completing lap 13 and calling it a day.

As I was approaching the top of the climb, on that lap, a guy came by me on a single-speed.  Single-speeders always pass me on climbs, because they have to:  They can't gear down and crawl up a climb (even if they wanted to), so they stand up and power up the hills.  Therefore, they tend to be the speediest climbers.  (Coincidentally, I happen to be one of the slowest climbers.)

As always, when a SS passes me, I called out. "You're awesome!".  He kinda shrugged and continued on.

When I reached the top of the final part of the climb, the SS was already way down the other side.  I was curious to see what gear he was running, so I decided to chase him down.  Usually, I can do that because, while the SS guys are fast uphill out of necessity, they tend to be a little slower on the downs and flats since they can't shift up.

So, I took off, down the twisty part of the trail leading to the long back straight along the RR tracks.  I could see my quarry, as he turned onto the slight uphill portion of the straight section, which then turns slightly downhill.  He was cooking along at a good clip, at that point.

"No worries", I thought, as I turned onto the straight stretch.  "Once I'm in the big ring, I can reel him in."


I was hammering the pedals down the first section of the straight, topping out at over 34 mph.  Then, I held a speed consistently faster than 20 mph for the rest of the lap.  I never  got close enough to the single-speeder to even see the colors of his jersey.  He just flat rode away from me, and was long gone by the time I swiped in at the timing tent.

At that point, I realized I had banged out a 33-minute lap (my fastest of the race), on lap 13, riding with race number 13.  Even though I was only at 108 point something miles, it seemed like a real good place to call it a day.

So, I rode up to the tent, sat down and opened up a nice cold beer, and relaxed.  It was a good end to a good race.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Lunch Time

Got up at about 5:30, and Randy made coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon and hashbrowns. By the time we were done with cooking/eating/trip to the bathroom it was 7:30. I headed out on the trail, feeling pretty good. Had good lap times, which reflected the feeling good.

By 11:30, I had completed 5 more laps, for a total of 10, so far.

At that point, I came in for food. Randy had to leave, around 10:00, but he made sandwiches and left them in the cooler for me. So, I had a ham 'n cheese sandwich and some Bunny Graham cookies. Plus, water in a glass (I get real tired of sucking on the CamelBak, after a while).

12:15, now. Guess I should get ready to go back out.


I Am So Lazy

Five laps in by 11:00 PM, and I decided to call it a night. 

We are riding the course in the opposite direction from last year, so the double-track endless slog from then is now a 20+ mph big-ring bonanza.  The sandy portions of that stretch are somewhat disconcerting at that speed, when you can see what you are doing.  Theay are downright scary in the dark.

So, I decided to call it a night at the 40ish mile mark,  Randy heated up the pasta and I got out of my reeking filthy rags.  Now, ay midnight, we are in the sleeping bags, with plans to get up early for breakfast so that I can try to complete my next 80 miles in the daylight. 

I know I'll, at least, get a century out of it.  Hopefully, I will manage the 120 I was shooting for.  Either way, I'm happy.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Waiting For the Start

I'm at the venue, and signed in.  I got the most awesome race number:

Let the good times roll!

We will be racing in the opposite direction from last year.  Seems thay they added some waterbars and whatnot to the course, and the organizers think it will be safer in the clockwise direction.  The only bummer is that we won't get the big screaming downhill back to the Start/Finish.  Oh, well...


Yet Another Adventure

At 6:30, this evening, I will be on the starting line of the 24 Hours of E-Rock mountain bike race.  I am mostly packed up, with just a few last-minute items to take care of (ice for the cooler, a pound of Mexico Chiapas coffee beans ground for the French Press, etc.).

I'll drop the dogs off in Parker, and pick up Carol and Colin (who will help me set up camp).  Randy is coming down after work to do nighttime babysitting duty, so everything is looking pretty good for a fun time.

 The Daily Grind, in 24-hour raceface.

The bike is in full race mode (I took the saddle bag and extra bottle holder off, and added my big lights), and I have enough food for an army.  The temperatrures are supposed to be a bit warmer (especially at night) than last year.  Hopefully, that means we won't be sitting around camp wrapped in blankets, shivering, as I eat/rest.

I have a different plan for the race, this year.  Last year, I wanted to get 100 miles in before sleeping, and the race became an experiment in sleep-deprivation as much as anything else.  This year, I want to get 120 miles in, but I also want to race until the end of the 24 hours. 

I am planning on getting about 60 miles down, then sleeping for a few hours, before continuing the race.  I am hoping that I can time it so that sleepy-time coincides with the darkest, coldest part of the night.  That should, at least, be a little more fun for Randy!

I feel pretty good about my chances of upping the mileage.  I have a few longer rides under my belt, this year, that I didn't have last year.  Plus, I think a little sleep in the middle of the race will go a long way.

I will try to post updates, throughout the race, if you are interested.  Wish me luck.