Thursday, October 30, 2008


I haven't written much lately, mostly because I haven't had anything worth saying. But also because every time I think about writing a blog entry I go check out the other cycling-oriented blogs around, and when I read the Fat Cyclist blog I realize that I really don't have anything worth saying.

The Fat Cyclist is Elden Nelsen, and his wife Susan is dying from cancer now. She's had cancer for a while - beat it once a couple of years back - but it came back, and this time it's winning. She's in hospice now, which is a nice way of saying that they are keeping her comfortable until she dies.

My brother was in hospice before he died, and I can tell you from experience that it is truly surreal. You try to stay upbeat, and you keep saying goodbye. Then the person dies, and you think that you said everything that you needed to say and were prepared for it, but it hits you then that you should've said or done this, and it hits you later that you really, really weren't prepared at all. I have no idea how it feels to be the person dying, but I doubt that it's any more fun.

Elden has Fat Cyclist jerseys available, the sales of which have been going to help pay for the huge expense of cancer, and this year's version says "Win, Susan." Now you know what that means. And they've been fighting, and the battle is almost over and they really have to fight harder than ever. So, if you can, focus some positive energy at Elden and Susan and their kids.

Fight, Susan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I once worked for a company that did revenue management systems, and our biggest customers were airlines. For those of you who don't know (and that is most of you, so don't feel bad), revenue management systems are what reservation-based industries, like airlines and rental car companies and hotel chains, use to figure out what to charge for their product. Basically, it was my company's fault that you had to book that flight to Newark six weeks early or pay another $83.21.

Anyhow, I once ran across a flight cost item labelled "TFOP" and had to find out what it meant. It turns out that it was an expense for various parts of an airplane that get lost during the flight, and stands for "Things Falling Off Plane."

Once you get beyond the initial "What the ...." of realizing that the airlines not only know that things are going to fall off of the plane, but that they budget for it, you find that this acronym works for all kinds of things. With cars, TFOC covers lost hubcaps, coffee cups that you left on the roof, and various nuts and bolts that work their way loose and cause things to shake badly or break. TFOB - Things Falling Off Bike - is probably less prevalent, but there is no roof for a coffee cup and fewer nuts and bolts on a bike, so we more quickly notice when stuff comes loose.

Today's post, however, is about TFOOB - Things Falling Out Of Brain. These are little things that I've got on my mind, and now they are falling out. Of course, they will probably continue to fester in my brain, so it's not like I've got Dumbledore's pensieve (woot - woot - nerd alert!) to dump them in. This is just clutter that I'd like to share with you.

Doesn't that make you feel special?

My Knuckle Tattoo

Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.

If you've ever been to Bike Snob NYC's blog, the above is probably familiar. I just noticed, however, that "Randoboy" has eight letters, so it's perfect for a knuckle tattoo. Not that I would ever get a knuckle tattoo, or any other kind of tattoo, although I have been known to sport a "cat two tattoo" of chainring grease on my right inside calf. That's as much skin adornment as I am likely to get.

I must admit, however, that I like the idea of this knuckle tattoo. It would still allow me to hide my secret identity by wearing cycling gloves, or I could remove the left glove and pretend that Scott Bakula just quantum leaped into me, since my tattoo would read "O Boy."

Movie Music

I recently put the James Bond theme song on my iPod, and it just came on a few minutes ago. Can you listen to that song and not want to kind of crouch down and do the finger-gun thing? I know that nobody can see me doing this, however, as I am hidden behind the credits scrolling over a background of the silhouettes of naked women.

I also have "Man With a Harmonica" from the Sergio Leone western "Once Upon a Time in the West" - or "C'era una volta il West" if you want to look it up on IMDB. It was the music for the hero, played by Charles Bronson, and they play it during the big gunfight at the end.

My point here is that movie music is really fun on your iPod because it can recapture key moments from the movie. Would you still get this feeling from the music, however, if you'd never seen the movie? Further research is warranted ...

If Ever I Stop Biking ...

How could it be in Fall? Okay, Robert Goulet I ain't, but I do love riding a bicycling in October. If only the days weren't getting shorter, it would be perfect. I've biked in and out from work for the past four days straight, and enjoyed an almost perfect 200K Saturday. It's just warm enough in the morning that I might need a light jacket and knee warmers, and not so hot in the afternoon that I have to hurry home.

Something that helps is this new commuter pannier I got from Arkel last week. It almost looks like a messenger bag, with a padded sleeve for my laptop, but it's really a pannier so it hooks onto my rear rack. This keeps the weight of my stuff lower than carrying everything in the backpack did, which makes the bike more stable. Also, when I carried the laptop in my backpack it would strain my lower back, and who needs that? The new pannier also looks really cool, and it's made by Arkel, who just about make the best bags in the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My New Favorite Permanent

Saturday, some of us rode a new RUSA 200K permanent, Green Acres. It starts in Baxter, TN, goes south to Smithville, then passes thru Rock Island and Fall Creek Falls state parks before heading back. It's my new favorite permanent.

Now, a lot of things make up a good route. You must have good roads, with mostly light traffic and a good surface. It's nice to have a couple of climbs, mostly because you then get great views and fun descents. I always like for there to be one shady road that goes along some water, since that gives you a nice cool break during the summer. If possible, throw in a control with really good food, and you're golden.

Green Acres has just enough of all of that to make it a really fun 200K. We had an easy long descent down to Center Hill Lake, then a fast level ride to the Smithville control. Going thru Rock Island State park is always great, although you should stop for a break to see the falls and all of the other neat stuff there. The control at Rock Island Market makes a great milkshake, or you can get a good sit-down breakfast or lunch.

A few miles after this, the route turns onto Laurel Cove Road. This was on the Edgar Soto Race course in 2007, and is one of those great rolling roads that you can really let rip on a bicycle, pushing yourself just a little harder than you should, or just sit back and enjoy the view. We did not see any cars on this road.

Then, you climb up Baker Mountain. This road is also on the spring Tennessee 600K, which has over 26,000 feet of climbing, but it is the only long climb on this permanent. Again, you can push yourself and go up fast, or sit back and spin.

A few miles later, you head into Fall Creek Falls State Park. There are a few short climbs and little descents going through here, but it's very pleasant riding under a canopy of hardwoods. Saturday, the trees were just starting to turn -- late October on this ride should be excellent.

We all stopped for lunch at the A&H Market, which does a nice cheeseburger. From there, we started back north, with a great descent down Hwy 285, followed by a level meander along Cane Creek. The next 30 miles are gently rolling countryside, very empty, so there are few cars and no stores. Since you're back down off the plateau at this point, it also gets warmer -- we were happy to stop for cold drinks at the Central View Market at mile 103.

The eight of us formed a fast paceline for the last 22 miles to Baxter. Since the ride begins at the Love's Truck Stop there, we were able to change into clean clothes and eat some recovery fuel at Subway and McDonald's there.

If you're interested in doing this permanent, you can get information from the Harpeth Bike Club's Ultracycling page. If you want to see pictures and a track of the ride, I've posted it to's GPS Rides page.