Monday, March 12, 2012


... that rose colored Bridgestone mixte I posted about some time ago here?

Well, just a bit of an update, as I've changed a few things out on the bike.  Some of the changes are more technical, such as reducing the size of the chainrings, giving a lower and more useful gear range on the bike. Back when the bike was built, a 14 tooth small sprocket was the norm on the rear, with a 28 tooth large sprocket, so the 40/52 combination on the front made some sense. These days however, with sprocket clusters more typically having 13, 12, or even 11 teeth as the smallest sprocket. Paired with a 52 tooth big chainring that gives you a higher top gear than most mere mortals need, at about 108 gear inches for a 52x13 combination, even higher for the 12 or 13. The new arrangement has 36 and 48 teeth in the front, 13 - 30 in the back, which gives a rather nice range of about 32 to 100 gear inches. If you're old enough to remember when "10 - speeds" were the hot new thing, the top end is about what we had back then and the low is a bit lower, or easier on hills. I think that will work out well for this bike.

On the less techncal side, I've installed a shiny new set of Velo Orange Fluted Fenders, a Velo Orange Constructeur rear rack and a Portland Design Works Fenderbot tail light, bolted to the rear fender. One of the nice things about metal fenders (as opposed to the plastic ones the bike previously had, from SKS) is that they are strong and rigid enough to mount lights to, and can work in concert with a rack like the Constructeur rack to make a solid "system" of rack and fenders.  They look sharp too!

Remaining to be done on the Bridgestone? Cork grips are next, and after that, I don't know. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What a difference...

... 10 or 12 degrees can make!

When I went out on my ride Thursday morning, the radio said it was 54 degrees out. This morning they were saying it was 42. So I was curious how different it might be out on the trail today.

Well, first thing I noticed was that I was glad I'd put on a bit more clothing! Thursday I was fine in just my Earth Wind and Rider long sleeve wool jersey, but today I was glad to have a thin Ibex long sleeve wool tee shirt under my Ibex jersey, AND a light windbreaker over that! And honestly, for the first half hour or so, I wouldn't have minded something to keep my ears warmer! Ah well, I warmed up soon enough.

The other major difference was the frogs. On the outbound leg of my ride, there were only a few spring peepers gamely chirruping away, sounding a bit forlorn.  By the time I was headed back home, the chorus had grown in both size and enthusiasm, but it was still a faint shadow of the sounds of Thursday. And most interesting... NO wood frogs singing at all!  Apparently they need warmer temperatures than the peepers to feel like singing.

One very happy discovery though... and a surprise... as I was just about back home, I saw a bird flitting into the underbrush... and it didn't look like any I'd seen of late. Curiosity caused me to stop and turn around, and I'm glad it did, because when I peered into the foliage, I saw a Northern Oriole! I haven't seen one of those in a very long time... such a pretty bird, and sadly not all that common any more, it seems.

All in all, it was a beautiful morning, even if it was a bit chilly at first.  Fewer folks were out to enjoy it, but I'm glad I got out there to enjoy it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sure looks... feels... and SOUNDS... like...


Yes, I went out for a bike ride this morning... a short one, but a good one, and all of my senses were picking up signs of spring! Traces of fresh color at the tips of branches and in the underbrush, warm sunlight on my face, and frogs, both spring peepers and wood frogs, singing at the top of their lungs!

This is the earliest I recall ever hearing them, and it was quite a pleasant surprise. The W&OD Trail I was riding has a number of stream crossings and little wetland areas, and a couple of those were just alive with frog song today. We'd had a fair amount of rain yesterday, so the streams were swollen and there was a lot of standing water in the woods and brush, which I'm sure had a lot to do with the liveliness of the frogs. Birds were also in abundance, from chickadees and titmice to crows and red-shouldered hawks.

Needless to say, the trail was busier than it's been in a while, at least for a weekday morning. A lot of cyclists, runners and walkers were out and about. Before you know it, it will be absolutely crowded out there, especially on weekends, but for now it was just fun to enjoy the weather with like-minded folk.

Appropriately, today was the first day of "meteorological spring" here. Of course, having lived in this area a long time, I know that March, and even April, can sometimes bring some chilly, even wintry spells. But given the very mild winter we've had so far, I can't help but think today was truly the beginning of spring, even if we do have a few cold spells left.

More pictures from this morning can be seen here:

W&OD Trail, March 1, 2012