Back to work

Okay kids – fun’s over! It’s back to work today.

Hits and misses: Some things I tried for this trip were great ideas. Some, not so great. Here are a few reactions after the trip is over.

  • Hit: the new bike – it was light, responsive, held up well.
  • Hit: integrated brake/shift levers – nothing new to a lot of you, but I still use downtube shifters and being able to shift without moving my hands (a thumb or a finger only) and being able to shift while out of the saddle make a big difference in >4000 miles.
  • Hit: new sleeping pad (though, in the end, it could have been thicker)
  • Mixed: tent (it was roomy but it leaked and condensation was terrible)
  • Mixed: bringing a sleeping bag – it was usually too hot and when it was cold I could have just worn more clothes. A fleece blanket would probably have been enough.
  • Hit: full zip jerseys
  • Hit: zippered 3 gallon Hefty bags – one for jerseys and gloves, one for shorts and socks, one for rainwear, one for cold weather wear, etc. (regular clothes, too.) You can squeeze out all the air and have less bulk and keep everything dry.
  • Miss: jumbo Ziploc bags – they were hard to seal, leaked, and tore easily.
  • Hit: new zip tie-like bike locks – these were an impulse buy at a sale and were great for quick lock-ups at a coffee shop. They fit in an under-saddle bag and will at least stop impulse thieves and slow down other thieves.
  • Miss: Sigma bike computer – a switch quit for about a month mid-trip (then started working again); went through six batteries (3 each for wheel sensor and computer), complicated programming.
  • Hit: Nulaxy keyboard – this made typing way easier and faster than a phone keyboard and takes less space than a tablet (plus costs hundreds of dollars less than a tablet).
  • Hit: bringing clothesline and clothespins
  • Hit: bringing only sandals and bike shoes – I had no need for “real” shoes
  • Hit: CO2 cartridges – great for emergency on-the-road inflation after a flat (“puncture” to the Brits in the audience)
  • Hit:  snack bag as waterproof iPhone holder
  • Hit: Velcro straps under saddle bag to hold extra stuff – this was an improvisation. My sleeping pad came with straps and a nylon sack. The straps were superfluous but were great to fasten rain gear under my saddle bag, or in case of an impulse purchase.
  • Hit: Clif shot bloks – handy way to get electrolytes when I ran out of Cytomax (lighter and easier to carry, too). Before a climb I would stick one between teeth and gum and let it slowly dissolve. Also helped with dry mouth in arid regions. Sometimes it is hard to breathe and swallow at the same time (long steep climbs at altitude). These helped.
  • Miss: Gatorade – I’ve already talked about that.
  • Miss: Greg not securing Wi-Fi passwords for all overnights
  • Mixed: tools, parts, and warm clothes I didn’t need – all stuff I might bring anyway, as insurance.
  • Hit: solar charger. I usually had access to electricity to charge the phone but this sure came in handy to keep a back-up battery charged at all times. 

    Coming soon: My top ten and bottom ten lists (good days and bad, good weeks and bad). Neither list will necessarily contain ten items.

    And now, because I haven’t worked it in before, because I mentioned truffles yesterday, and because it is one of the under-appreciated Beatles songs:

     

     

     

     

Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer, the longest day(light) of the year. The solstice arrived here in Spokane while I was asleep. To honor the day, here is “Summer” from Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” (not to be confused with Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, but I don’t think you’ll confuse the two). It was recorded in Trondheim, Norway, where sunset last night was 11:38 PM and sunrise today was 3:02 AM.

The midnight sun, courtesy of visitnorway.com:

Midnight-sun-Lofoten-122015-99-0004_be9c3c94-8b38-46b6-8d0d-261d1ee4c57bSummer from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” was on the first program of MAYCO in June of 2011, featuring Suzanne Beia on violin.

Day 4 (5 by Cycle America’s count): We’ve arrived in Spokane and are staying in a dorm at Gonzaga University. Between yesterday and today we’ve ridden just a hair under 200 miles. I haven’t ridden mountains in 25 years, but I do remember two essential lessons about mountain riding:

1. Don’t worry about the top, it will be there when you get there;

2. Keep your feet moving in circles and all will be well.

As always, keep the rubber side down. I prefer mountains to headwinds. While both require work, you can see progress climbing a mountain. The vegetation changes, the mountain changes. You can look back and see where you’ve been. Headwinds on the flats lack all of that.

Everything is fine, except that my feet are on fire. I just spent 20 minutes soaking them in the coldest water I could find; some ice cubes would come in handy about now.

We started the day at the base of Grand Coulee Dam (if you want facts & figures, or pictures, Google it). A couple of miles up a 10% grade made us earn our breakfast. Local folks told me the first 20 miles would be the toughest. On-the-road selfie #2 is from the summit. (Look! He’s smiling!)

After miles of wheat fields, no trees or buildings in sight, we came upon this house: That’s a copper roof, either very new or sealed to keep it from weathering.

Tomorrow brings a new adventure – 85% chance of thunderstorms for much of the day as we ride 95 miles and cross the border into Idaho.

More music!

Since I’ve been away from bicycling as a topic for two days, let’s keep it up. The topic is still “what I will miss in Madison this week because I’ll be in Seattle”.

MAYCO2017On Saturday night, June 16, please go see MAYCO, the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra. This “remarkable institution” (in the words of critic John Barker) was founded by Mikko Rankin Utevsky in 2011.

You can hear a previous world premiere by the group here:

This will be the first MAYCO concert I have ever missed. I usually print the tickets, put up

rehearsal
rehearsal 2017

posters, sell tickets at the door, record (video and audio) the concert, take stills, help set the stage, and do whatever else is needed. Any volunteers?

There will probably be a preview of the concert in the Well-Tempered Ear this week, or a review next week. Take a look.

 

It looks like I picked the wrong week to leave Madison.

Not available when I wrote this:

The concert is at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street, Madison WI at 7:30 PM on Saturday, June 16.

MAYCO map

Madison Reunion

If you are not in a hotel in Seattle Friday night, as I will be, check out the concert of the summer in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ben and Judy Sidran (p.s. That was a photo of Ben and their son Leo on the Union Terrace in last week’s post) are planning a little party, and you’re invited. There will be workshops and other stuff, but on Friday night there will be a reunion of a legendary band. (OK, never mind. I just looked at the seating chart on February 23 and it is nearly sold out already – back of the balcony only. If you don’t have a ticket by the time this goes on line you will be a few months too late.)

The reunion band includes Boz Scaggs and Ben Sidran (who were in The Ardells with Steve Miller and others before moving to San Francisco [though not all at the same time] as the Steve Miller Band), as well as Tracy Nelson of the Fabulous Imitations, who moved to San Francisco and formed Mother Earth, then moved to Tennessee and stayed there, though occasionally coming home for Christmas and blessing us with a show. Tracy is best known for her song “Down So Low”

(though I have  soft spot for her version of Memphis Slim’s Mother Earth, featuring Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Mark Naftalin on piano).

(And for Memphis Slim songs, I can’t resist “Celeste Boogie”. Who else plays boogie-woogie on celesta?)

I recently learned that Down So Low was written about her break up with Steve Miller.

So those other guys…I’ve always thought of Ben Sidran as the poor man’s Mose Allison

(though maybe less cynical), though he also co-wrote Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy”. He has worked mostly in jazz and once hosted an NPR jazz show. He’s written a few books and earned a PhD in England.

Boz Scaggs went on to a solo career.

So all these folks are gonna be on one stage together and I’ll miss it. The promo materials say “and others” so who knows? Some of the folks from back then are no longer with us, but a few surprises are probably in store. Someone tell me all about it – either when I get home in two months, in the comments below, or call me Saturday morning, since I’ll still be hanging out in a Seattle hotel.

I ws going to say more about this reunion, so I think we’ll accelerate the pace in this final week before we hit the road and post again tomorrow.