I’m a Newbie Again

I’ve done less than a handful of rides this year. I had a crash in February that resulted in road rash and a broken rib; I’ve been working on some deadline projects that have had me out of town; then there’s the usual excuses: it’s too hot, it’s too rainy, it’s too windy…

So, when riding partner Osa said she was ready for a ride, I started rooting through my equipment, changing batteries, checking tire pressure and the like. About 45 minutes before I was going to roll out, I discovered that my Cateye Strada Cadence bike computer battery was dead.

I usually make a practice of changing the battery a New Year’s Day ritual, but I skipped it this year. That meant a quick trip to Radio Shack and 15 minutes of futzing around trying to figure out how to program it.

Legs went to mush

The heat index was somewhere between 87 and 90 and the winds were 9-11 out of the east, so we picked a north-south route. It didn’t take long to figure out we had a variable headwind on the way south. Lack of riding caught up to me in a hurry. My heart rate wasn’t all that higher than normal, but my legs went to mush pretty quickly.

Oh, yeah, I’ve written lots of words about how my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle is sooooo comfortable. In fact, I wrote once that I almost killed my saddle by making it TOO soft. Trust me, when you haven’t been riding a lot of miles, I don’t think ANY saddle is going to feel soft. I’m going to give a little more sympathy to newbies I pick up along the road in the future.

Osa wanted to go over the tall Lake Worth Bridge to soak in some salt air on the beach. I figured I’d salvage what little dignity I had left and head home. I wished her well. That variable headwind we had going south turned into a variable headwind going north, too.

Watched Hurricane Isaac flow by

About two-thirds of the way home, I felt my calves send me a message: “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, we’re going to give you a hurtin’.” I listened to my calves and took a walk down to see the floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac flowing down the the canal between Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.

This canal runs all the way from Lake Okeechobee and is helping drain the water from my kid’s yard. He lives in a rural neighborhood west of town that has been underwater. His house was built on a pad that put him about three feet above the water, but it was like living on an island for several days., he said.

I’m not going to tell you what my total mileage and average speed was. I’d have been happier if I hadn’t replaced the battery in my bike computer. By the way, you can click on any photo to make it larger.


Mark Cuban’s 288-Foot Yacht Fountainhead

Mark Cuban's 88-Meter Yacht Fountainhead from Palm Beach 01-18-2012Anne, Osa and I were cruising along the Palm Beach Lake Trail when Osa shouted “Stopping” and locked down her brakes. Osa spent years crewing on yachts, so she has a keen eye for things that float. After I browse this site I spotted a yacht that was so big that it had a tug in the front pulling it and another smaller boat riding drag at the stern because it was too large to maneuver in the Intracoastal Waterway. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Osa estimated that it was 250 feet long. While we were gawking, a guy rolled up and started doing some searches on his smartphone. “It’s 88 meters long,” he said. “That’s about 270 feet (288.713911, to be exact). Mark Cuban owns it. He and Mark Ellison of Oracle fame bought twin yachts from the Dutch luxury yacht company, Feadship, at the same time.” Ain’t the Internet wonderful?

Mark Ellison downsized his yacht

The sister to this ship is a downsized version of Mark Ellison’s previous yacht, the Associated Press reported it was 452 feet long, was five stories tall, had 82 rooms, “a wine cellar the size of most beach bungalows, a dozen yacht-length tenders, and a generator capable of providing enough electricity for a small town in Idaho or Maineā€¦ Final cost: $377 million.” He got rid of the larger yacht because he didn’t travel with that many people and it was hard to find mooring for something that big.

How do you afford a yacht like this?

Mark Cuban's 88-Meter Yacht Fountainhead from Palm Beach 01-18-2012From Agent4Stars.com:

In 1995, Cuban and fellow Indiana University alumnus Todd Wagner started Audionet, combining their mutual interest in college basketball and webcasting. With a single server and an ISDN line, Audionet became Broadcast.com in 1998. By 1999, Broadcast.com had grown to 330 employees and $13.5 million in revenue for the second quarter.In 1999, during the dot com boom, Broadcast.com was acquired by Yahoo! for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock.

After the sale, Cuban diversified his wealth to avoid exposure to a market crash. As of 2011, Cuban is No.459 on Forbes’ “World’s Richest People” list, with a net worth of $2.5 billion. The Guinness Book of Records credits Cuban with the “largest single e-commerce transaction,” after paying $40 million for his Gulfstream V jet in October 1999.

What was that strike thing all about?

I’m sure some of you were wondering what that strike thing was all about yesterday. Thousands of websites, some as large as Wikipedia, others as small as my two blogs, went dark for 24 hours to protest two bills that are making their way through Congress. They are ostensibly to stop Internet piracy, but have the potential of crippling the Internet as we know it today.

I’ve experienced the chilling effect of what’s already on the books. I posted a video of a night lightning with a public domain audio of Beethoven’s Fifth playing in the background.

YouTube sent me a notice that they had removed the audio because of copyright concerns. It took 24 hours to get it back up after I provided evidence that the performance was in the public domain. Guilty until proven innocent.

Under the new laws, my whole site could have been taken down and I could have been subject to fines and jail had I been found to have been using copyrighted material. I have a video on my bike blog where I’m passing a slower rider. You can hear my MP3 player in the background. Conceivably, that could be a violation of the law.

If you don’t think they’ll fool with “the little guy,” consider this: we didn’t invade Russia nor China; we went after Granada.

Moonrise Over Belle Glade

Osa, Anne and I took a ride out what I call Ghost Road 27, south of Lake Okeechobee Sunday afternoon. Anne and I have been out of town and Osa has been busy with her job over the holidays, so this was a leisurely ride with lots of catching up to do. We puttered along taking lots of photos for a future story and discovered a mystery road to nowhere I had never been on before.

We ate way more food than any three people should be able to put away. (It’s a good thing for the manager that we didn’t take advantage of their All You Can Eat Chicken special.)

On the way back, there was a spectacular moonrise in front of us and the pink rays of the setting sun behind us bouncing off the clouds and haze. I was going to make this an occasion of making memories, not photos, but Anne and Osa insisted that I stop. It wasn’t quite as big as when we first saw it, but it was still nice. (Click on the photo to make it larger.)

2012 New Year’s Day Ride

I don’t want to confess how long it’s been since I was on my bike. I carried it all the way to Missouri, let some great riding weather slip by while I was working on some projects and then decided I didn’t want to expose my Florida Surly Long Haul Trucker to ice and sleet. OK, I didn’t want to expose ME to ice and sleet.

Osa said she had been slacking off while I was gone, but had gone riding three or four times.

When we got to the end of Hypoluxo Island on a perfect New Year’s Day, I warned her that she might want to slow down since her bike handling skills might have deteriorated. Sure enough, she didn’t pay any attention to me; if anything, she pedaled harder. Just as she saw seawall and water looming closer, she grabbed the front brake. I’ve done an endo and gone flying over the bars, but I’ve NEVER landed as high as she did. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Fire departments don’t get cats out of trees

“Osa,” I explained. “We may have a problem. I was in fire dispatch one day when a 9-1-1 call came in from a distraught woman who said her kitty cat, Snookums, got out of the house and was perched at the very tiptop of a tall tree in the front yard. She was emphatically requesting a ladder truck be dispatched immediately to effect a rescue.

“The dispatcher tried, as gently as possible, to say that fire departments didn’t rescue cats from trees anymore. It’s just to dangerous for the firefighters. Finally,” I said, “the exasperated dispatcher snapped, ‘Lady, Snookums will eventually come down on her own. When was the last time you drove down the street and saw a skeleton of a cat in a tree?'”

Fortunately, Osa, like Snookums, managed to extract herself from the tree. I noticed that she was a lot more careful grabbing that front brake on the way home.

Every word of this story is true. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to eschew exaggeration and tomfoolery.


Ladies Cycling Society Night Ride

I’ve been getting invitations to the Ladies Cycling Society Tuesday night rides for some time, but I’ve either been out of town or lightning has scared me off. I’m not saying I DESERVE to be hit by lightning, but why take a chance that Thor is having an off night and misses the target he was aiming at. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Riding partner Anne on the mend

Riding Partner Anne has been to several of them, but was afraid she wasn’t going to get medical clearance after a fall that resulted in broken ribs and a punctured lung. She’d like to brag that it happened on her bike, but the real story, while frightening, doesn’t involve road rash or crashing out. (That’s Anne in the pink jersey on the right in the top photo.)

Gender reassignment not necessary

When I got my first invitation from organizer Tyra Forker, I wanted to clear up something first.

Here’s my message to her: “Thank you for adding me to the Ladies Cycling Society. Before I accept the honor, I have to ask one important question: there’s no gender reassignment involved in the membership, is there?”

She quickly assured me that I wouldn’t have to switch to a girl’s bike, but guys are asked to kick in a $5 donation that’ll go toward paying MS150 expenses.

(That’s Tyra, in green, installing a spoke card above.)

Carvel is West Palm Beach institution

Former coworker George Primm and I met Tyra on our way to our first West Palm Beach Critical Mass ride a couple years ago. We were stopped at a red light when a car went blasting through the intersection and almost T-boned another one. She was on one corner and we were on the other.

When the light changed, we stopped to compare notes about what we had seen and started chatting about bikes. She was new in town from Kansas City, down to work on arty stuff at the Armory. We invited her to join us. That marked her introduction to the Freakbike Militia community. We like to thank that chance encounter at a red light has had something to do with her sticking around the area.

Colorful bikes

The rides form up at Carvel Ice Cream on South Dixie on Tuesday nights at 7 P.M. Roll-out, strictly enforced by Tyra is 7:20 SHARP. A coin flip decided whether the group was going south to Lake Worth or north to Palm Beach. The coin came up heads, so Palm Beach it was.

Spoke cards by Tyra

Before we pulled out, though, we were given one of Tyra’s creations: laminated spoke cards to put between our bicycle spokes.

We headed over to Flagler Dr., across the Southern Blvd. bridge, then up A1A to the lifeguard stand on Palm Beach.

As fast as slowest rider

The ride was almost exactly 10 miles from my house, which is only a few blocks from Carvel. It’s a ride that’s billed to be as fast as the slowest rider. My average speed for the whole evening was 9.6 mph. Considering that Anne and I picked up the pace when we were riding back by ourselves, the group ride speed would have been even lower.

A good part of the time was riding in a double line because traffic was so light. If we saw someone coming up behind us, we’d single up. We got lots of friendly waves and had no unfortunate encounters with anyone.

Charlie Brown would have been at home

The invitation said the evening was going to consist of a bicycle ride, a dip in salt water and flying kites. At least three riders brought kites. We arrived at the beach just about dark-thirty. Kites were launched in near – then pitch – darkness. There were a few Charlie Brown moments, but no riders were permanently injured.

A few of the riders headed down to the surf for a quick swim. When Tyra sent an invitation for a swim ride while I was out in the Midwest, I made a suggestion: “Do it sans suits and I bet the guys would kick in more than $5.”

Her response wasn’t exactly a no: “We’re saving the sans suits ride for the calendar photo shoot! Hope you’re enjoying MO besides the heat…”

Getting comfortable on the beach

We had just stated getting comfortable when we saw the glow of a nearly-full moon pulling itself out of the ocean.

Here comes the moon

I had just about decided that this one of those nights when make I’d memories, not photos, when the temptation to grab a few frames got to be too much. I discovered that I’m not capable of hand-holding a camera with an exposure of 8 to 10 seconds. Still, I sort of like the effect.

Just think a couple generation ago, beachcombers might have been illuminated by the soft glow of a campfire. Today, the illumination comes from a smartphone screen.

Waves in the moonlight

You can see from the moon that I was moving the camera around during the long exposure, but the waves came out fairly well.

Goodnight, Moon

Finally, almost too soon, it was time to hop on the bikes and head out. Several of the folks wanted to make a bathroom break, so we rode over to public restrooms in West Palm Beach. (Palm Beachers don’t like to provide those kinds of amenities.) Anne didn’t want to stretch her first bike outing too much since her fall, so we peeled off from the group and headed home by ourselves.

If you are on Facebook, here’s the fan page for the Ladies Cycling Society of the Greater Palm Beaches.