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I figure my four flat tires were just a run of bad…

I figure my four flat tires were just a run of bad luck. I could have caused my own bad luck with thin and worn tires. I had some inexpensive Performance Forte Strada K tires I got on sale for $12. Yeah, I know you get what you pay for but I got over 2,500 miles out of them. I guess I should have changed tires at 2,400 miles. I have Michelins on now.

Everyone I rode with was supportive and patient. No one complained. We were running out of 25mm tubes, though. The good thing is that I got a lot of practice changing tires. Sunday morning when I was fixing the fourth flat I discovered an easier way to do it. One of those "doh! moments": why didn't I think of this before?

Flat Flat Flat Flat Flat

By Allan Edmonds

A group of us “moderate” riders did the Middle Century out of French Lick on Saturday while the Double Century crowd was doing its thing along much of the same route as laid out by Jim Schroeder. Altogether there were around 20 riders more or less evenly split between Doubles and Singles (and two who started with the Doubles and finished the singles route for a total of 150 miles). The Doubles had 3 or 4 support vehicles. The Singles were mostly on our own.

Double Century Route

Middle Century Route

A few of the Singles were up for riding a good part of the way with the Doubles providing some welcome drafts, I’m sure. My own group, however, took off shortly before the Doubles arrived at French Lick at their mile 50. We stayed ahead for awhile. But we got passed when one of our group had a flat.

CE expertly swapped in his spare tube in a short 10 minutes and we were on our way again. The repair included a stick-on boot provided by Craig over the tiny hole in the tire.

Before long Robin picked up a roofing nail that went through the tire and penetrated the rim! CE reported that he was riding next to Robin and heard a “tap-tap-tap”, which made him worry that something was mechanically wrong with his own bike.

At least it was a pleasant grassy area for working on repairing the tire. Cost us 14 minutes.

As a result we were only slightly late getting into the first scheduled rest stop.

Before long CE had his second flat. He swapped in a borrowed tube while carefully checking tire and rim for defects. None found. It seemed to be independent of his first flat. This one took 13 minutes.

The result was that we rolled into the planned lunch stop at the Subway in just before the main Double Century group was getting ready to depart, with our having had 37 minutes of down time.

Someone said that Doug was offering a spare tire to anyone who needed it at the Subway, but no one took him up on it.

Shortly after leaving the lunch stop. CE had another flat! This was really frustrating. He patched the tube this time. Still we couldn’t find any problem and it seemed independent of the other punctures. When we pumped it up it seemed to be losing air. So we backed off and looked for a problem. None found. Apparently it was just leaking air through the valve stem since we left the pump attached. So in the end this flat was changed twice. This one took 30 minutes and CE for one was feeling a bit grumpy. But we mostly stayed relaxed, knowing we had all day.

By and by around mile 60 CE had his 4th flat. At that point he told us to go on and to come back and pick him up after we finished. He gave his car keys to Gail, and we went ahead while he walked about a mile to the nearest small town. About this time Steve connected with us having left the Double group with his plan not to over tax his knee and limit his ride to 150 miles.

Soon Rachel had the idea of asking Sid and Jack who were at Sid’s new B&B in West Baden Springs and not riding to pick up CE, which they kindly did! That saved us from an extra couple of hours of driving after the ride, which was important when we were already running so late.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. One wrong turn in Jasper that added a mile or two. Fun frozen yogurt treats at the IGA. Not too much trouble on the gravel.

All but CE finished our Middle Century doing well. It was a great day in southern Indiana and even CE, despite the difficulties with his tire, later reported “I really did have a fun ride yesterday. “

Thanks to Jim Schroeder for designing and promoting the ride and including a way for a group like ours to conveniently do a “short” option.

Joe’s Bald Spot

A couple years ago I put new Continental Gatorskin tires on my road bike, like many of my riding buddies have done. They’ve last pretty well. One of my previous pair died an early death with some sidewall damage. But I kept the remaining one as a spare (a front tire), although I never had to use it.

Last year sometime on a club ride we were coming back from a ride southwest of town when a mail delivery car stopped in front of me and I locked up my rear brake, skidding a little before coming to a stop. All seemed well. But Joe Anderson, who was ahead on the ride, commented afterwards that that tire would wear out sooner.

That was in the back of my mind last week. I don’t really keep track of how many miles are on my tires or other equipment or when I last changed or serviced them. So I thought maybe I should examine my tires more closely than usual.

Here’s what I found on my rear tire:

Joe’s bald spot! He was totally right. I felt lucky that I hadn’t already had a blow-out. Fortunately I had that old spare, which I immediately swapped in before going out that evening. I had already been thinking that I should probably put on new tires before RAIN. Now I know I will.

Popcorn Ride

While some folks were doing the club drive-and-ride from Spring Mill State Park to the Ohio River, others of us with various time constraints opted to do a shorter local ride, club favorite Popcorn Ride (PDF), said to be named the 65th best adventure ride by National Geographic Adventure  in April 2000. We’re not sure who nominated the ride, and Indiana has no listed top adventures in the current list.

We had a very congenial group of 20 riders and a beautiful Saturday morning for riding. We mostly followed the club map and cue sheet, with a few exceptions. We took the B-Line trail from Grimes to Tapp rather than Rogers. And as we completed the Popcorn Loop folks opted to stay on Popcorn back to Rockport, rather than take Spencer Pike and Wells Lane, which bends toward Springville and makes for more retracing one route in the homeward direction along Rockport. Maybe we should just give in and change the map to show this.

Note that Ron Brown has been updating maps and cue sheets to show some current club preferences. In particular this ride now finishes via Church Lane, Walnut Street Pike, through Cardinal Glen. Also, the map shows the preferred back road way out of Springville to Highway 54, on Bedford Street now that it is nicely paved. This blown-up bit of map shows us backtracking from the Convenience Store to Bedford Street.

We had a couple of new riders. We lost one rider to a missing cleat screw early (at least he was intending to go short) and another who had a flat coming out of Springville and sent the rest of the group on. A collision involving three bikes on Rogers Road on the way out town was fortunately minor, with no apparent injury or damage.

We had several pleasant stops, including Harrodsburg, Springville, Popcorn Church, and Tramway. There was so much fun conversation it was sometimes hard to get everybody going again. Here’s Klaus’s picture of the group at the Popcorn Church:

You can tell just by looking that it was a fantastic day. It worked out great that we offered an alternative local ride.

Al Ruesink’s Tandem Numbers

Al Ruesink is a long-time BBC member. Indeed, he was one of the riders on the very first Ride Across Indiana, camping out on Dave Tanner’s parents’ farm near Danville, Illinois, before biking across the state along a more northerly route. Are there any others still in the club besides Al and Dave?

Al is also known around town for the unique tandem he and his wife Kathy ride. It might be called a “semi-recumbent”: The captain rides in an ordinary upright position behind while the stoker sits low in front with legs extended forward. Maybe you’ve seen them!

Recently Al got to reminiscing about that tandem. What follows are some of his recollections. Like some other cyclists I know he really keeps track of numbers. (Unlike me, who only vaguely knows when and what repairs have been made, how many miles on my current tires, etc.)

In Al’s own words,

We ordered the bike in March, 1984, and picked it up at the Indy airport on Sept. 22 that year.  The 2.8 miles today make a total mileage of 59,303.0 miles.  And I took a bit of time today to break that down into 5-year totals, which are: 16,332.8, 14,695.0, 8,672.6, 6,881.0, 7,216.4, and 5,505.2.  The last total is 4 months short and alas I won’t be able to catch up to the usual standard.   We have recorded 10 rides of 100 miles or longer, but none recently.  The purchase price was $2355 and to that I have added some $3,629.66 for replacements and repairs–tires, tubes, hubs, rims, bearings, headsets, and so forth.  That total would have been much higher had I not done almost all of the repairs myself so there have been essentially no labor costs.  If you have done the math, you see that the average cost per mile is just slightly above 10 cents.  It is fair to assume that we have averaged 13 mph while riding, which gives us a healthful recreational cost of about $1.30/hour.

I wonder if you are still reading; the numbers may well have glazed your eyes.  Let me wake you up with brief accounts of our three major accidents.   The first was on a solo trip that Kathy and I were doing in ’85.  While riding along the waterfront in Madison, IN, I hit a very diagonal railroad track that threw the front of the bike sideways, depositing both of us on the pavement.   Kathy got a good case of knee and hip road-rash but we patched up ourselves and the bike and pedaled on to the east along the Ohio.  Three days later we had our longest ride ever, some 111 miles, as we did the last portion of the ride home with the wind at our back.  Our second accident happened almost in slo-mo as we were riding east in a group along Third Street out toward Smith Road.   Someone stopped in front of us quickly and unexpectedly.  As we bumped their tire from the rear with our front pedal assembly, they rolled forward and lifted our front wheel off the street.  Unable to steer, we slowly toppled over and someone coming right behind us rode over our horizontal rear wheel and pretzeled it.  I pushed the bike home holding the rear  wheel off the ground.  The last accident was perhaps the most spectacular of all.  We had ridden north on Kinser Pike and continued across route 37 onto Bottom Road.   There is a great hill there to scoot down, with a bridge and then a turn to the right at the bottom.  Usually we are going about 18 mph when we straighten out there.  And that is where our front tire blew.   And I mean BLEW!!  I kept us upright on just the rim for a few yards, but then we were down.   Both of us got road-rash from this one.   I hitched back into town to get the car to haul our bike home.  No chance to boot up the tire and fix it.  On each side of the 20-inch front tire, there was a 13-inch long blow-out hole!   Since then I have tried not to use tires for quite so long.

The Touchables Ride

Despite questionable weather we had a great early season ride today. Jen Miers led 18 riders (one going short) on the club ride Low Gap to Martinsville (“The Touchables Ride”).  Although it rained earlier in the morning, by ride time roads were fairly dry, although the air was still pretty damp feeling.

At the beginning Jen announced an alternative to taking the regular route from Tunnel Road to Anderson Road via Shiloh. Shiloh is in poor shape and having large groups going down together seemed like asking for trouble. So John Bassett mapped out a route that took Robinson down to Old 37 to Anderson, where we rejoined the route.

Here’s the route we actually took, going counterclockwise:

Klaus took a nice shot of the second of two groups as we went by the Touchables Outdoor Sculpture Garden on Low Gap Road. We had gotten about 10 minutes behind after one rider had a flat.

It was nice that the lead group waited in Martinsville for us to catch up. While we were at the Shell station in Martinsville a large training group of DeCycles riders went by without stopping. Perhaps 40 riders.

One other change to the planned route was proposed by Klaus and Jen agreed: Take Hacker Creek up to the Forest rather than going out on Highway 37. Right at the end Hacker is a killer hill. I only did it once before — on a very hot day — and nearly had to walk. I had sworn never to do it again. It was a tough hill, but not as bad as I remembered it. And it does keep us off the main highway. Here’s Klaus’s pic of us gathering up at the entrance to the forest, very close to where Hacker Creek meets the Forest Road. We all look happy enough. (In case you wondered, Klaus was stretched out on the ground to get this angle.)

As we left Martinsville the weather ahead looked questionable. But we never got rained on. The afternoon rain went through Bloomington before we ever got there.

Thanks to Jen Miers and John Bassett for their leadership on the ride and to Klaus Rothe for the pics.

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Bike Ride

Fifty or so intrepid riders of all sorts showed up for the third annual City of Bloomington Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad bike ride. This ride is designed for people who want to try to bike in any kind of whether and especially just need a little group encouragement. For the first time the weather lived up to expectations. Past years were more spring-like and hardly a test of ones winter riding skills. But this year we had about 3 inches of snow over night and temperatures in the 20s. Yes! Positively balmy after some our single-digit and lower temperatures.

There was a wide range of bikes and riders and a group bigger than any BBC club ride.

Here’s the ride as I recorded.

We started and ended at City Hall at the upper left corner of the map. We headed south on the B-Line, west on 4th Street to Indiana, then through the IU campus on 7th Street, going by the north side of the IU Auditorium, which used to be a through street and now only permits pedestrians and bicyclists to pass. We then did the big loop to the right, altogether about 7.5 miles. (The other part to the left is my route to and from home to the start, about 3 miles each way.)

One goal was to highlight various bike paths in addition to the B-Line and the path by the Auditorium. From 7th Street we headed south on Rose through neighborhoods to Maxwell Lane. We took Maxwell Lane east to its deadened, where there is a small pedestrian path through to Nota Drive. We crossed Moores Pike at the Renwick Roundabout, and then rode west through neighborhoods (going by my house!). We did the Olive Street crossing into the Boulders area, which is quite familiar to BBCers, but took the little bike path through to Adams and Jordan. From there we went down Third Street using some of the new bike lane laid out there. Unfortunately, parts of it, especially where they installed protecting curbs, were pretty gummed up with snow. From there it was Indiana to Kirkwood and a short bit of the B-Line back to City Hall.

Although I have commuted in all kinds of weather, including very cold days, I was a little concerned about the fresh snow. Indeed on the ride to the start I had to go through a few places, including the B-Line that were snow covered. Also the “secret” bike paths were snow covered. Most of the streets had a certain amount of snow and slush. In the end I would say that I gained some confidence in my ability to ride through snow. I still would avoid any serious ice.

The BBC was well-represented on this ride, including several club officers. Here’s a snapshot Mike Conway took as we rode along on 7th Street east of Jordan. The rider closest to the camera is club president Jim Schroeder.

Everyone had a good time exploring bike routes in Bloomington. I hope we continue to do this ride in coming years. At last it lived up to its name!

The BBC and Social Media

How does and how should the club communicate among itself and how does and how should the club present itself to the public? Our club is still experimenting with several different approaches.

Of course we have our club web site at bloomingtonbicycleclub.org, one of the best bike club web sites anywhere. There is lots of information about the club, how to join the club, descriptions of the main activities, links to a variety of maps, and so on.

Every club member (who wishes to be) is added to our email distribution list (bloomingtonbicycleclub@googlegroups.com). In principle any member can send a message to the whole club. But it’s generally best to use the list for “official” things. Just keep in mind that you are sending email to all members of the club. Note: any such email must come from an email account in the group.
Meanwhile we have for the last few years had a club blog, which effectively replaced our electronic newsletter. Old-timers will know that the latter replaced our old printed and snail-mailed newsletter back about 2000. The blog is accessible to anyone via the club web site or a google search. It is moderated and postings and comments are welcome but must be approved before they are posted. Contributions may be emailed to blogger@bloomingtonbicycleclub.org. The blog is somewhat irregular and static. We hope to have reports of meetings, longer or special ride reports, reports of representative activities, discussions of issues (such as the present essay), etc. Often nonmembers of the club use the blog as a way of getting a sense of “what really goes on”.
More recently, just a few months ago, the club set up a Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/bloomingtonbicycleclub/. The contents of the Facebook Group are viewable only by members of the group. To be a member of the group you must be a member of the club AND have a Facebook account AND request joining the group on FB. This allows any member to directly post links, photos, short reports, etc., and comments. This provides a lot of fun and immediate feedback to those who participate. The number of club members who have joined the FB group is now over 80. (We have over 200 club members.) But not everyone wants to have a FB account. Some view it as a frivolous waste of time and others as a potential invasion of privacy. 
It’s clear that we need both. In the future I hope to occasionally take interesting bits from FB and adapt them to blog as well.
Not everyone agrees that the FB group should be so private. But for now the board’s consensus is to view it as a vehicle for communication among ourselves, as opposed to a method of advertising the club to the public.
In technical jargon, a Facebook Page (as opposed to a Facebook Group) would be the proper instrument for advertising and building a following among the FB public. If we had such a page we would control its content, while letting anyone “like” the page.
After some discussion at a recent board meeting about these issues, Warren Smith set up a new BBC Twitter account as well. It should be able to provide yet another vehicle for immediate communication. Anyone with a Twitter account can follow us @bbcbikeclub! Now it remains to see what the club actually uses it for.
The subject of social media is something of a “brave new world”. Only time will tell what combination of approaches will serve the club and its members best.

A Paragon of a Ride to Paragon

Saturday’s club Ride to Paragon attracted the largest group of riders anyone can remember for a club ride, at least for the last 15 years or so. We had a total of 50 riders!

The weather was great (just look at that blue sky) and a lot of riders must have been itching for a really good day to get out for a good ride.

With a group that large we got pretty well spread out. But we all gathered up at the convenience store/gas station on Highway 67 in Paragon.

At this point a contingent negotiated a long option, that went further north before looping back to Martinsville and then to home, with Tammy Berger as leader. Meanwhile the majority headed back toward Bloomington along the planned route.

Thanks to Bob DeGroff for serving as leader, and to Warren Smith and Eugene Kase for the photos. The map is what I recorded on my GPS.