Monday, January 30, 2012

Miles per gallon

I just packed up the computer I used on my tour (I don't usually use one, since I don't need to know exactly how slow I'm going).

It turns out I clocked around 54 hours of riding time (None of the MTB rides were recorded on this little guy. Also- I forgot to turn it on one day in FL...). I was curious about how many calories I burned based on that number. I counted my riding as 'moderate'- I wasn't going particularly fast (11.4 mph average), but I was weighed down with a bunch of stuff. Based on that, and my weight (which is none of your business, although I'm totally comfortable with it, thanks) the total I got was 31,275. Now that we've got a calorie total we can have some fun with science!

I could have powered my trip with 298 bananas (medium ones). Or 209 Twinkies. Or 1117 Peeps (Yellow food theme!).

I also ran across this article. Turns out I burned about the same amount of energy that is in a gallon of gas. I went 630 miles on that 'gallon of gas'. Pretty cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Well, that was fun. Not all of it, but a good bunch of it was fun. My winter adventure tour is over. I'm back in town, and I'm ready to get back to business. This is going to super cliche, so sorry about that, but being away for a while makes me really appreciate living here. If you ever get sick of living here, just spend a little time in the Florida panhandle (that'll be the last jab, FL, I promise). So now that it's over I get to reflect on all of the things I've learned.

Things I wouldn't change-
My bike. It worked great- gearing, the racks, brakes, wheels- the whole thing.
Hammock camping. I skipped the tent, to save weight, but it ended up being a million times more comfortable.

Things I would do differently-
Traveling alone. It didn't work out that anyone could join me this time around, but I think having another bike riding human around would be more fun and would feel safer.
Finding campgrounds. I would definitely do more research ahead of time- many of the campgrounds in the south are RV- centric (a good number were RV only). I would have known that if I'd planned ahead a little better.

I'm excited and ready to get back to the shop. I'm going to open back up for business on Monday, Jan 30 at noon. 2012 is going to be a big year for Hub, and I'm ready to get it going.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Perfect day for some sweet central Texas singletrack! Mr. E and I hit the trails just like old times. I was even reunited with another old friend today. My old mountain bike (I think this one was 6-7 bikes ago...) lives here in Austin since J Bone was nice enough to adopt it.

The trails at Rocky Hill Ranch were really fun. Pretty flowy and fast, a few roots to keep it interesting, and lots of sections with really dry, loose rocks. Not baby heads, something smaller than that... Fetus heads? That's disturbing- how about just small rocks? Ok. Lost of loose small rocks. We learned later from the land manager (who was kind enough to give us some ice cold post-ride beverages!) that the area was wicked close to being burned to the ground during the wild fires of last summer. I'm glad it wasn't- it was nice to have a little cover from the pine trees. Which smelled fantastic, by the way. I think this is where they get the 'Mountain Pine Fresh' scent for laundry detergent from.

The place was almost deserted. It was really fun to have the trails all to ourselves. That finger I banged up while getting hit by an SUV (I'm going to hold that against you forever, Florida. Don't think I'll forget it. I won't.) was a little sore. It was a good reminder not to have a death grip on the bars.

There was also a funny lodge/base camp/shack that, I'm told, is 'very Texas'. For example, there is a clearly labeled Main Entrance door, decorated with antlers, but no walls that require an entrance at all...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hill Country

I headed today out for an overnight trip from Austin. There are tons of state parks here. Including one in Blanco (you'd think it would be 'blahhhnk-oh' but folks seem to be calling it 'blank-oh'). It's pretty cute here. And surprisingly packed for a campground on a Wednesday night in January. Lots of RVs, but also a handful of tents around. It's nice to have some company. RV culture is really interesting. It has it's own lingo and etiquette. I'm sure there are RV snobs out there, although the folks I've talked seem very nice. There are times when serious RVers travel around the country, and times when they settle in for a season (usually winter, and usually in the south, natch). And there are so many places to stay- campgrounds, Wal Mart parking lots, rest areas, Elks Lodges. If you ever want to know more about it, just ask the next retired couple you see in an RV. I'm sure they'll tell you all you want to know, and more.

The ride to get here was wicked hilly ('Texas hill country', you think I would have figured that out...), and the roads were pretty choppy, so I'm beat. I'm going to try and stay awake long enough to enjoy some of those big 'n bright stars they advertise here in the heart of Texas.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Captains log, entry 147145. I made it to Austin safely, via vehicle. Having a car gave me access to a radio, which have me access to some pretty sweet Cajun radio stations.

I've done a bunch of neighborhood exploration riding here, in the land of the 'breakfast taco'. Yesterday we rolled four deep (not enough for a bicycle gang, which I believe requires 5), to check out such sites as Barton Springs, the UT campus, and some sweet taco joints.

Today I visited Mellow Johnny's, and the Texas State Capital ("it's like we're entering Mordor...", according to Mr. E). There were some pretty epic portraits of historical figures in both of those places.

In the next couple of days I'm going to head out for some overnighting in a state park or two. For now it's just nice to relax.

Friday, January 13, 2012


It was less windy today. But in spite of that fact, I've decided to refocus this adventure. I'm going to say 'refocus' in order to not feel like a failure at bike touring.

The last straw came this morning when a pickup truck full of high school kids (I'm going to assume they were high school kids, otherwise there's not even half an excuse for them) buzzed by me super fast, super close, and then threw a Coke bottle at me. Awesome.

I'm pretty tired of being stressed out and fearing for my life. I planned for this trip as best I could, but I keep running into problems (like cars) that have been really exhausting to deal with.

The second part of this adventure was to get to Austin to hang out with my good pals Mr. E and J Bone*, see the city, and enjoy the bike scene there. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to get there- with combustion engine assistance- tomorrow.

I can't help but feel like I'm quitting. I had a long talk with my better half (Seriously. Much better.) about it all. One important point that was made was if I died on this trip, she'd kill me when I got back. Another good point is that I've learned a lot so far. There are tons of things I would do differently- and how else would I have known those things had I not messed it up so badly this trip? I want to think about my learning experience for a couple more days, then I'll write a list of 'don'ts here (maybe a couple 'dos', too- it wasn't all bad...) Until then, I'm off to Austin.

*real names

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I'm exhausted. Today was a roller coaster. It started out pretty crappy, then there were some really bright spots, then it got really really crappy, then a whole bunch better, then back to just regular crappy, and now I'm doing alright. Let me explain.

It was windy from the get go this morning. I was filled with the irrational rage that comes from riding into a head wind for 73.4 miles today. I know this is a big part of why most folks ride west to east- so that you aren't fighting the weather the whole time. But logistically, east to west is what I had to work with, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

The really, really crappy thing was I lost my wallet. For most of the afternoon. That was exhausting in its own special way. Long story short, it rattled out of my bag (along with the pair of pants it was in... so I also had no pants to make it that much worse). I had no idea where this rattling out had happened. I called the cops, who did a sweep of a bit of the last 10 miles I had ridden. I was on my way to the sheriff's office to file a report so I could cancel all my cards. I had to back track a bit to get to the office, when Ta Da! There were my pants, in a ditch, with wallet intact. Man, oh man. I was freaking out- imagine being out in the middle of nowhere with no way to prove that you're you, any only $40.27 with you (I counted). Totally nerve wracking.

So. That took up most of my afternoon, then it was back out into wind for another 27 miles.

I'd like to end this post in a high note, so why don't I tell you about some people I met today?

First, a woman (born and raised in Louisiana. Except now she spends some time near Miami. Because she's retired. From the military) went out of her way to make sure I wasn't going to get lost. She warned me that a road up ahead looked like a road on GPS, but it was not a good road for bikers. After asking me where I was from she said "Listen, Massachusetts. I don't want to see on the news that you got eaten by a bear 'cause you took the wrong turn now." So good.

Second, I was taking a water break when a car passed me, stopped, and then backed up toward. Out jumps a fella who asked if he could pick my brain about bike touring, because that's what he wants to do when he retires. We talked for a while, and then discovered we're (very) distant cousins. This has been a really fun part of the country to be French Canadian in (I mean, it's always fun to be French Canadian, but here it gets you lots of handshakes and the occasional hug).

So there you go- some bad and some good. I hope tomorrow gets better, or at least less windy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back At It

Well, getting hit by a car was a major bummer. Yesterday my arms were wicked sore. I'm guessing it was from bracing myself for impact. I decided to load up the Brown Machine in a rental car and drive ahead a few days. So I'm near Baton Rouge, LA now. Today I took it wicked easy. It wasn't the worst ride I've ever been on, but I think it'll take one more day until I'm back to my bad self.

I traveled up "Scenic" highway 61, which turns out is lined by chemical plants. I feel like I may have shaved off a few years by breathing the air near these places. I worry about the folks who live nearby (these plants have a surprising number of houses right across the street).

I got my first flat today. I got a chance to use the pump I brought- the Topeak Road Morph G. It's a pump that's new to me. I spend more time on fat tire/low pressure bikes, so the pumps that I usually carry are very small, and not very high pressure. Well, this guy is a little bigger, but it got my tire up to 90 psi in no time. It wasn't as efficient as a floor pump, but it does have a small, fold out foot peg that turns it into a super mini floor pump (kind of). I didn't use the foot peg today- I don't think it would have made things any easier, but I guess it's a nice option to have. The mini hose kept the valve from getting jerked around/ ripped out, which is super important when you've got a limited supply of replacement tubes... Yep. I'm sold. It was the most pleasant on-the-road flat I've ever fixed.

Hey! That was my first flat fix of 2012. Seems a little crazy, but it made me want to get back to the shop. That's definitely a sign that I love my job (and that I'm a workaholic).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Could Have Been Worse

To start off, I should let you know I'm OK, but I was hit by a car today in Tallahasse. Or rather I hit a car, when the driver pulled out into me. However you phrase it, it really sucked.

Tallahasse is the worst place I've ever ridden a bike. It makes Boston look like Amsterdam. Not only is cycling infrastructure nonexistent, there aren't even any shoulders on the roads. I went way off my route to try to find safer roads, but no luck. The city has really made sure that cyclists aren't welcome.

Just as I was almost finally, finally out of town an FSU student in an SUV started to pull out of a side street that was partially obscured by a sign. I thought 'She probably won't see me', and checked quickly over my shoulder to see if I had any room to swerve (which I did not, thanks to the no shoulders, and drivers not giving me an inch of space). By the time I looked ahead again she was already there and I had a split second to brace for impact. It was really unpleasant. Some very nice witnesses called an ambulance. I was pretty shaken up at this point, and it hurt to move the fingers on my right hand. I guess that's to be expected when you put a dent in someone's car. The firefighter who showed up first said he'd be surprised if I didn't have a broken finger or two.

Long story short- my fingers aren't broken, just sprained. And I'm the one at fault, because of something in the Florida law... I hit the car, not the other way around. I'm not sure... The cop was not very helpful, and I didn't think to ask more questions about it. If only there were a 'Bike Safe Boston' card for Florida (next card, Josh?). All she said was, "I'm not writing any tickets. So unless you want to sue the guy who put the sign there, we're done."

Thankfully, with a little ice and rest I'll be a-ok. The Brown Machine could use a front wheel true (I brought a spoke wrench with me), but other than that it's also fine. The EMTs strapped it to the stretcher in the ambulance so I wouldn't have to try and track it down at the police station. Pretty nice of them, and they thought it was hilarious to have it on the stretcher (first responder humor, I guess).

I rode away from the hospital, but my hand doesn't feel awesome, I've got some road rash on my knees that was chaffing, and to be perfectly honest I'm feeling a little gun shy in the traffic here. So my plan is to lay low tonight, and probably grab a car tomorrow to get me out of FL, keep me on schedule, and give me a days rest. I won't let one little (now dented) SUV get in the way of adventure.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

That Smell

So far, so good. I decided to make today a short day (41.75). I'm ahead of schedule, in spite of taking some not-so-short shortcuts/wild goose chases.

I passed an animal farm today. I'm going to guess a pig farm (the 'illustration' on the sign was a little ambiguous). I can say without a doubt that I weren't already a vegetarian, the smell of that place would have converted me. It was otherworldly. Think about how bacon smells. Pretty good, right? (Hey, even though I don't eat it, I can appreciate how good it smells) Now think about how the opposite of bacon would smell (like maybe rotting bacon) and add in a porta potty from the county fair. That's pretty close.

Oh. And, to make it even worse- I passed it while I was going up hill. So it's not like I could hold my breath until I passed... Ugh. That smell is going to haunt my dreams.

Hopefully some refreshing Florida citru can help cleanse my senses. Keep you fingers crossed for me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Things I've Learned So Far.

I'm in Madison, FL- home of the... I don't know... they probably have a claim to fame... Well, only three days in and I've learned a bunch already.

One- Just because you are prepared/want to ride for 60/70/80 miles, doesn't mean there will be a place for you to stop and stay at that point. So either get ready to ride more or less. Especially in rural areas.

Two- 'Dirt roads' in Florida are not dirt. They are soft sand, which are not rideable on The Brown Machine when it's fully loaded up (I'm not sure they'd be rideable when The Brown Machine isn't fully loaded...).

Three- Judging by the number of 'Calvin peeing on Obama's campaign logo' bumper stickers I've seen, he probably shouldn't expect to win FL in November.

Four- I'm going to get sick of oatmeal pretty quick here.

And finally- This is a real thing, apparently:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day One

In the books.

I had a very long day. What was supposed to be a 52 mile day ended up finishing at 86. It was either camp at Blair Witch campground or keep riding into Gainesville. Go Gators! I'm going to be a little sore tomorrow, but it was worth it to not get murdered in the woods.

Today I noticed that the people of North Florida are very nice (lots of waves from motorists and pedestrians) and are also fascinated about this trip ("Why? Why would you do that? That does not sound like fun. But, be careful and God bless!"). I can't say the dogs of North Florida are as friendly. I was chased by a bunch of them today- two of them broke out of their fences and followed me down the road (Don't worry...they were small, so I out rode them).

Here are a few pics from today:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Go Time

I'm in St Augustine. I just put my bike back together after a rough plane ride.

I haven't actually ridden anywhere yet. Well, I did ride around the parking lot of the Regency Inn & Suites. Oh man, a bike handles differently with 40lbs of stuff on it. Strangely, it handles very much like the Grand Marquis rental car I drove around today- kind of 'boat-y'.

The real fun starts tomorrow. Bright and early(ish. I do have to wait for the sun to come up). Wish me luck!