Category Archives: Bicycles

Top Tube Thoughts

Some of my best ideas have come to me while riding a bicycle. There have been times when I’ve been trying to work through a logistical issue at work and I’ve left the office, thrown my leg over the top tube, and hit the road. After an hour, I’d return with solution in hand.

The following are some thoughts that came to my mind while spinning along a less traveled route. I tried to capture what inspired my thoughts with these photographs. Go ride! Go think!
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Sometimes I ride because I know where I’m going. Other times because I don’t know which way to go. But I find that when I ride, I always get there.

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Is the bicycle a time machine to take you from reality, or a telescope to help you see it more clearly? Perhaps it is both.

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Sometimes you should take the road less traveled.

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Ahhhhh, the excitement of new paths discovered.

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Nothing ventured… Nothing gained… Wheeeeeeee!

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Life. Even bicycles get caught in it.

These photos are from my Instagram account. Follow along!

A couple of minutes of why I love riding in Greenville

Several days ago, I had the opportunity to hop on my bicycle and head up toward Saluda, North Carolina. This would lead me out from downtown Greenville into Northern Greenville County to Old Highway 25 and the watershed. This route (officially beginning at North Greenville University) is known as the Bakery Ride.

On my way out I left the GoPro running and enjoyed seeing some of the video from the ride. I’m posting it here to give you an idea of the scenery and roads that we get to enjoy. Notice also the traffic — or lack thereof.

Now, go out and enjoy the ride!

The Bakery Ride – 35 miles
Head North on North Tigerville Road
Turn left on Old SC 11
Turn right on Dividing Water Road
Turn right on Old Highway 25
Turn right on County Road 23-17
Cross SC/NC border (becomes Mountain Page Road)
Turn right on Main Street (NC 176)
Get yourself a sticky bun at Wildflour Bakery!
Turn left on Main Street (NC 176)
Turn left on Mountain Page Road
Cross NC/SC border (becomes County Road 23-17)
Turn left on Old Highway 25
Turn left on Dividing Water Road
Turn left on Old SC 11
Turn right on North Tigerville Road
You’ve worked off that sticky bun!

Strava Segment Installment: Sandy Ain’t Flat

Soon I hope to put up a short video montage of my recent ride on the watershed. However, on my way there I came upon this Strava segment named “Sandy Ain’t Flat”. You guessed it. It is on Sandy Flat Road and though it is at times flat the road is mostly rolling. On this segment it even has a little bite at the end. Remember… be sure to change the video resolution to HD for best viewing.

Hope these videos give those who do not ride and opportunity to see what it is like. For those of you who do ride, I hope this will give you something to try out. If you are into Strava, my goal is to give you a new goal to try for and perhaps a little knowledge to help along the way.

Thanks for watching! And as always… don’t forget to check out I Do It For Foundation and consider it for your next event.

Strava Segment Installment: Nature Trail at Herdklotz Park

Sometime ago I started creating videos of Strava segments. The main reason was that I was enamored with the technology that allowed me to overlay my ride data with the video of the event. It gives the person watching the images a better idea of the effort it takes to ride the bicycle.

Feedback has been positive and so I will occassionally get motivated to sit down a create a new one. Here is one from this weekend. It is a favorite segment for those of us who have for years ridden the Sunshine Cycle Shop’s Hour of Power Saturday morning rides. It is a Strava KOM that I would love to have, but one I’ve never managed to land.

In case you are curious, on this attempt I finished in 1:58. That is 13 seconds slower than my best time and 18 seconds slower than John James and his KOM of 1:40 seconds. Consider that as you watch the video to realize how much more effort I would need to put out to capture the prize!

Thanks for watching! Also, for best viewing, make sure you switch the Youtube resolution to HD.

2014 Ride For Mike (Part 2)

The results are out for the Gran Fondo Hincapie. There was no surprise there for me. My time came in at just over 5 hours and 53 minutes. That is nearly 20 minutes more time that last year’s attempt. I know exactly why it happened.

It all started with the Skyuka climb.

My strategy going into the ride was that since I knew I was not in good shape, I would try to pace myself up the climbs and spend less time stopped at the rest zones. So, I rode on past the first SAG in Tryon. That allowed me to stay with several people who were riding a pace line to the start of the climb.

When we reached it as a group, I moved over to the white line, motioned the others around me, and went into my easiest gear. Right there I put my pride on the shoulder of the road and determined I wasn’t going to push this. I knew the 4 mile and then some climb averaging 9% was only the first step up to an even greater challenge to come.

There isn’t much to say other than I kept plodding along with riders coming around me one after the other. It wasn’t as though I could have kept up with them anyway. Even at this early point in the ride, I was starting to wane.

I was about two-thirds of the way up when Tejay van Garderen and a rider in a Hincapie Devo Team kit came flying past me. As they sped past, Tejay looked back and said something that based on the look on his face was meant to be encouraging. I didn’t catch it, but I did get out the words “Hey, throw me a rope!” as they moved closer to the turn ahead. Then they were out of sight.

I stopped at the top to take a picture. Last year my battery was dead in my phone by that point and I didn’t get one. That view is worth the climb. Yes, it is true, a photograph just can’t capture it.

I also stopped at the SAG just before the descent. I didn’t stay long, but as I was leaving I stopped once again to take another picture. There was no need to be in a hurry at this point. Besides, any delay allowed me to put off the pain of Howard Gap.

Before I could get to that climb, I would have to descend the other side of Skyuka. Here is where I really began to notice the difference between the Giant TCR and the Felt AR. The AR was my bike for the day due to the need for a last moment repair for the TCR. Going through the corners with the aero frame Felt with the longer wheel base was not normal for me.

I had to take it easy and even so, I over-cooked one corner and had to take a detour into a driveway. However, that was better than at least two riders I came upon. One had obviously laid the bike down. There were marks on the road and rider was standing in that stiff post-road rash stance.

I was happy to reach the rolling section that followed. Now my mind was turning to Howard Gap. I was already feeling tinges of muscle cramps. It had taken me 40 minutes to climb Skyuka. Howard Gap was less than half the distance, but with an 11% AVERAGE grade it was going to be tough.

Right away on the bottom of the climb I began to feel my legs cramp. It was as though they had gotten so use to spinning along that throwing them into the fray of climb like this had them protesting and threatening a strike. It wasn’t just my normal calve muscle cramp. It felt like every muscle from my hip down was seizing.

Experience told me to just relax and keep spinning. If I didn’t feed the cramps by tensing and just kept my legs moving, I would find relief. Sure enough the cramps backed off, but like wild animals just outside the ring of light from a camp fire they let me know they could return at any moment.

I didn’t look up. I just tried to find a rhythm. I wasn’t going fast, but I was moving. It was then my phone started “dinging” because my daughter and wife were carrying on a text conversation in a group of which I was a part. As I moved slowly around another rider who was even slower he said, “So, do you ring that bell every time you pass one of us?” I knew better than to make a comment. I figured he might be passing me back before the top.

Yes, I stopped. It was on the final straight section. I still had over half the ride to go. I simply could not cook my goose here. So, I dismounted and began to walk. My focus was on my left hamstring which was teasing me with a cramp. I took my mind off by watch the riders go around me in slow motion. Some were riding higher gears (a good idea!) and they were spinning along, but seeming not go anywhere fast.

I tried mounting one more time with about 50 meters to go, but had to get off and stretch out my leg. Then it was off again. Even though it took me 20 minutes to get up the less than 1.5 mile section, I was in good spirits because I had done it! Yes, Green River Cove was going to be tough, but I knew I could do it.

Time meant nothing to me at this point. All I wanted to do was find groups of riders that I could tag along with. The wind had picked up a little on this beautiful day and riding through it alone would only compound any issues I might be having.

And so it was that I made it to the SAG just before the gorgeous route through Green Rive Cove and to the base of the climb with 17 switchbacks. I spent some time talking with other riders there before climbing back on and getting underway. I was starting off alone.

It was along this stretch of the course that something really started to get to me. I think it had to do with the setup of my Felt. I have to stretch out more over the bike and it was causing me to tilt my head just a little more than normal. Since I broke my neck several years ago this has become the one remaining issue from the accident. I cannot hold my head in a position like that very long without the muscles in my neck and shoulder starting to fatigue.

By the time I reached the climb up Green River Cove I was almost audibly saying to myself, “If I could just stop and lay down my head.” Maybe you don’t realize just how heavy your head is. Hold a bowling ball and extend out your arm. Now, hold it there. Before long your arm will begin to tremble and your muscles will complain for you to drop the ball and give them some relief. That gives you an idea how I was feeling.

Even so, I only stopped once on the climb. Granted, it was my slowest ever time, but once again I rejoiced that I made it to the top. Now it was just time to head home!

It isn’t that the ride was easy. The entire way back to Hotel Domestique, I was fighting the urge to just lay my head down on the stem. The only portion where I felt somewhat normal was the descent down the water shed.

I was completely alone as I made the turn up the final climb to the finish. I felt like I had been out there forever and so the 5:50+ time I saw on the clock was not a shock — I was actually surprised I made it in under 6 hours. As I neared the line Chad Andrews called out in that announcer voice, “And here we have Jonathan Pait!” Frankly, I didn’t want any attention pointed my way and was slightly annoyed by his enthusiastic callout.

However, that annoyance quickly gave way to relief as I turned right after the finish to head back to my car. It was a challenge. Wasn’t that what I wanted?

Well, I got it!

2014 Ride For Mike (Part 1)

I was thankful for the new start time for the 2014 Hincapie Gran Fondo. This meant I was able to get up at my normal weekday waking schedule. Then it was just a matter of getting the stuff I had prepared the night before into the car. In the cool (but not cold!) air of an October morning, I drove the 30 or so minutes to Hotel Domestique for the start of my 2014 Ride For Mike.

The VIP package allowed me to drive right up to the hotel and park within a stones throw of the start. The only hitch I had was with the zipper of my vest. The base came unattached and I fought with it for awhile before finally deciding to ditch it and head over for the breakfast. I could sense my nervousness. However, it wasn’t the riding that made me nervous. It was wanting to make sure I was at the right place and the right time.

The breakfast was in the dining area of the hotel. You could look out of the large pane windows beyond the pool to the mountains in the distance. The sun was just beginning to kiss the tops of the ridges as I downed my muffin, egg biscuit, second cup of coffee, and more fluids.

Probably the biggest perk of the VIP area was not the chance to meet the pro riders who showed up, but the easy access to the hotel restroom. I did see a couple of the pros — though I didn’t speak with any of them. However, I did take advantage of that restroom multiple times before the start!

Then it was time to head out to the start. Another advantage of the VIP pass was the access to the front of the LARGE pack of riders who lined up for the start. It was a chance to connect with folks that I don’t normally see except at these types of events and position myself to avoid the majority of the “scrum” that comes from a mass start like this.

Then we were off. The nervousness was gone now. The weather was AWESOME and I could see the leaders pulling off no more that 50 riders in front of me. This was going to be a good day.

The nervousness returned as we got farther underway. I was riding along in the right lane of the road as the pack got settled into a rhythm. Then I noticed a good number of riders passing on in the left lane. The 50 or so riders ahead of me continued to swell.

I was riding under the understanding that there was a yellow-line rule. What I didn’t realize was that during the “neutral” start, the marshals were creating a “rolling closure.” So, any traffic coming towards us (which was very little) was stopped and moved to the side to allow the pack access to both lanes. I could see this taking place on some of the longer straight sections of the road.

At that point, I decided to work my way toward the front. Sometimes I did this by going in the left lane and other times along the right shoulder. At other times, I just settled in to the middle of the right lane and followed others up through the riders ahead.

I was in this position when it happened. The group was taking up both sides of the road. We were in a slight right curve going down a hill. This allowed me to look ahead to see an upcoming left turn. Because of the vantage point, I could see that on the other side of the left turn a truck had been stopped by the course marshals. Suddenly the nervousness returned — at about 25 mph.

The riders ahead of me in the left lane began to call out — “Single lane! Single lane! Right lane! Slowing!” The brakes of multiple bikes were also calling out the warning of a quickly slowing mass of flesh, carbon fiber, and metal. I began to slow and look for my escape path. The wall of riders before me was beginning to compress as the riders to the left began to move over as the riders approaching the vehicle slowed.

Like an accordion the group compressed. I balanced myself on the bike fully expecting to get hit from behind. I aimed the bike to a small gap while trying to keep my momentum going forward. Just as I thought I was going to hit a rider moving across my wheel from left to right, the accordion released in front of me.

However, it was too late for a rider I could hear very near me but behind me to the right. As I was rejoicing that a lane was opening before me, I was struck once again with adrenaline as I heard brakes squeal and then carbon fiber snap. It is a hard sound to describe, but if you have ever heard it you understand. I can’t help but think of bones breaking.

Once again I just knew I was going to get hit. However, the anticipated impact never came and I rolled away. Just a second or so later an even larger sound of entangling cycling equipment erupted behind me. The sound was slightly more muted by that point as I was moving beyond the carnage.

Later I heard from a rider who had stopped to check on the group that all the people involved were okay, but that at least two bicycle frames were broken in half. At the moment of the event it sounded so much worse. After making my way past the truck (that had stopped, but had done so without moving out of the road), I set my position to the right of the field and decided to not worry about how many people might be passing me!

I knew that the craziness of the start would end when we started climbing. However, there were still a couple of technical sections I would have to make it through. I saw one more near accident as a rider was sandwiched between two others. He did a great job of using his body to protect himself and hold his position while keeping his balance.

Finally the faster guys started to pull away from me while the slower folks were beginning to fade back. Before I reached the first SAG, there was a sizable gap ahead of me and looking back I could only see a few riders interspersed along the way. So, rolling through Tryon, I knew the ride was now in my hands. There wouldn’t be a lot of pacing at this point and the climbing was about to begin.

There would be no more worrying about the riders around me. Now, I just had to worry about myself. I would find that was enough to worry about!

To be continued…

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep calm and carry on

Needless to say, it has been another frustrating week when it comes to training. It isn’t just the weather and the lack of light. The primary issue is time. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it. So, when I do get on the bike, I want to make the most of it.

Yesterday, that didn’t work out. I ran into some frustration ON the bike. However, I learned a lesson through it.

I rushed home in hopes of squeezing in my 1 x (3 min. PI with 3 min. RBI) workout before grabbing a quick bite to eat and heading out the door for an evening engagement. Things started out pretty well and the clock informed me that I would get in a solid hour of spinning. I settled in to get it done.

Keep Calm and Carry OnAs I neared the end of my 15 minute warmup, I started to ramp up the resistance. Then I shifted in a lower gear and moved the wattage up over 350 watts. At around 93 rpm I was feeling pretty good. Good vibes were starting to tingle my psyche.

The Garmin was showing a consistent pace of 93 to 94 rpm and I was watching it to keep it steady. Then suddenly the Garmin showed 0 on all the readouts. After about a second, which seemed much longer, the rpm and wattage appeared again. Hmmmmm, I wondered what caused that.

Then it happened again! I finished out that first interval with the readout coming and going. The only thing I could think of was that I was ruining my average wattage for the interval!

Once I started my Recover Between Interval section, I stopped the trainer and got off the check out the battery connections in my Quarq. It all seemed to be fine. Perhaps the rest of the session would okay.

Time now for the second Power Interval. The good vibes were gone. It wasn’t that I was finding the interval overly hard. It was that my mind was now distracted by the Garmin readout.

Sure enough, the glitch appeared again. It seemed to happen anytime I was pedaling for any consistent period of time above 350 watts. If I stayed below that, it didn’t seem to flake out on me.

I felt the frustration welling up in me. It isn’t just that by itself that caused it. It was more of the straw that broke the camel’s back deal. It was hard enough to find the time to get on the bike. NOW, I had to deal with issue while I was on it. I couldn’t escape!

Then I paused to consider the stupidity of my reaction. Just because my Garmin wasn’t recording my wattage doesn’t mean I wasn’t producing it. Just because my TrainingPeaks would record 235 watts for that first 3 minutes doesn’t mean that I wasn’t averaging over 350.

Why was I don’t this? Was it so I could record it somewhere or because I was wanting to improve my stamina in those hard efforts that come in a race? If it was the former, then I had reason to be frustrated. If it was the later (as it should be) then I was right on target.

So, going into the third interval, I put the Garmin out of my mind. Now it was just about the workout. I was still getting enough of a reading to know whether I was in the proper zone. Who cares if it didn’t record accurately in the database.

Interestingly, I started to have to pace myself a bit more in the fourth interval. The average wattage began to drop below 350 and, sure enough, the glitch disappeared. Most of the third and the final three intervals recorded just fine.

What was my lesson learned? Chill out, man! In a world of check lists, to do items and schedules, sometimes you need to remind yourself why you have the scheduling and management tools that you use. You have to be sure that you are using them and not the other way around.

Powermeters, cycling computers, heart rate monitors, etc., etc. are cool tools. They can be very helpful. However, if your ride is frustrating to you because your computer battery went dead and now you won’t know how many miles you rode… that computer just became more important than the bike to which it is connected.

Next time that happens to me I’m going to look at it as an opportunity and a reminder to focus even more on the enjoyment and love of the activity. If you ride your bike and your cycling computer doesn’t record it, did you ride? What a silly question.

Going back to the past to glimpse the future

It has been hard to get back into the swing of things after the 2012 Ride for Mike. At least I have done this times enough to know that this happens: The post-event syndrome.

Post-event syndrome is where you can’t focus on the normal things of life because your brain is still in gear to prepare for and execute the event. When there is no more event to focus on, you find yourself unable to focus on anything. It is almost as though your mind is blank.

Of course, the way to counter this is to just start doing simple tasks and completing them. In a little bit, your mind gets back in gear and life goes on as normal. I’m looking forward to that time!

One thing different after this 2012 Ride for Mike is the fact that aspects of it continue. The ride was for the purpose of raising funds for the I Do It For Foundation. Now it is time to start putting it together in earnest. So, there will be plenty of “not normal” things to keep me busy… or is it just the “new normal”?

If you have not gotten your t-shirt or coffee yet, hang on! It is coming. I’ve got to go through the list and make sure I know who still is supposed to receive one or both of the items. This is where a web tool would have come in handy! It’s coming…

Speaking of the web. We now have a simple placeholder page at IDoItFor.org. It now has its own server and isn’t sharing space with LowCadence.com anymore. Next I will be meeting with Worthwhile for an Information Architecture consultation. Once that is done, we will have a blue print for building the key component of I Do It For ___.

All this has been going on, but I took a break to go over the Sunshine Cycle Shop with my son. I had not been feeling good all day. Even as we drove over, my head was hurting. However, I had promised him we would go check out some mountain bikes.

The bikes were gifts. I wouldn’t have been able to afford them at this point. However, I was allowed to go into the shop and pick out something for myself. As I thought about it, I figured it wasn’t so much a fancy bicycle or component that I wanted. I wanted an opportunity to use the bicycle for good.

My son is now nearly as tall as I am. His road bike is now on the small side. His seat is up as far as it will go and he spreads over the junior frame like a giant.

Jonathan and Thing Two on their new Felts

Jonathan and Thing Two on their new Felts

It was my thought that I would get myself a new road bike and then set up the Giant for Thing Two. However, in discussing this with his mother, she thought it wouldn’t be a good idea. He simply isn’t that interested in riding on the road. He is concerned about the traffic and higher speeds.

She suggested a mountain bike. The problem with that was I had sold my mountain bike back before last Christmas. We wouldn’t be able to ride together. Of course, if I decided not to do a road bike and got some clearance models off the floor, I could swing getting two solid mountain bikes for less than the cost of a roadie.

And so, we walked out of Sunshine Cycle Shop with two 19.5 inch Felt Nine 29ers. My test ride in the parking lot was my very first ride on the oversized wheels. I knew immediately I was going to enjoy it.

In someways this was a return to the past. This was a simple aluminum frame with a hard tail. Yes, the Rock Shox front fork worked well to dampen the initial impact against railroad ties and other obstacles I attempted climb over, but for the most part this was a return to my Diamondback Traverse days.

At home, we spun around in the yard a bit and then headed to Timmons Park. It has been years since I have taken a bicycle in there. Judging from the condition of the trails, it appears it has been years since anyone has ridden in there! Some of the trails have overgrown and disappeared.

Still, as we began to make our way along the old single track, I was reliving the many miles I put in going around the short loop. It was different this time because Thing Two was right on my wheel. That is saying something because Timmons can be quite technical in some spots due to washout and large exposed roots.

Arriving back at home, he continued looking for things to ride over and as we stopped for the Beautiful Redhead to take our picture, I saw a real smile on his face. This wasn’t one of those, “We’re taking your picture, so put a pleasant smile on your mug.” This was a smile you could see in his eyes. I knew he liked it.

So, I can see a little more mountain biking in my future. That is fine with me. That is how it all started for me back in the 90’s. From the knobby tires I found my way to the road. Whether the same thing happens for my son or not, I’m just enjoying the moment.

Bamboo bicycle charity auction

The bamboo bicycle charity auction is now open until noon, October 19. We have a starting bid right out of the gate at $2500. The current bid amount will be placed here. This post will be easily accessible from RideforMike.com. You can also bookmark this post for easy access later.

Current highest bid: $3000

 

The 2012 Ride for Mike WebbWorks bamboo bicycle charity auction is now closed. Thank you to all who participated! We were able to raise $3000 from the auction and over $30,000 to help kick start the I Do It For Foundation.

I can see you on bamboo

25 Days – $01,700

Give

Yesterday we had another $500 come in for the Ride for Mike. This brings our total so far to $1,700. We’re pretty close to moving past the $2000 line. Who will be the person to make it happen?

Here is a little something that might motivate you to participate. We will be starting an auction on October 1st for a bamboo bicycle. Follow Low Cadence here, on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when the auction opens. It will continue until October 19 at noon.

Bamboo bike from WebbWorks

Here is how it will work, we will be putting up for auction the option for a custom or pre-built bamboo bicycle from WebbWorks with SRAM Force components. While the build photo show a road bike frame, you will have the option to choose among other options.

Once the auction ends, the winner will have the choice of having the frame custom built to their specifications or to go with a standard size frame. Of course, the choice makes a difference on how long it will take to get your bicycle.

These bikes are the real deal. You can read a review (and watch a video) I did of the bicycle back in 2009 when I first experienced the ride. The workmanship and finish of the bicycles has only improved from those times. This bicycle is a useful, solid ride, but beyond that it is just downright cool!