Both Frankenbutt and I put on work clothes and continued to cut and install trim work. The Beast put on play clothes and went outside to work on her tree house. Coco just lounged. While we worked, we couldn't help but notice that the sky had cleared up, the sun came out and ... "the itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout". (that just randomly came to mind.)
By 1 pm we decided to switch out of work clothes and into riding clothes. We ate lunch and got out the bikes and helmets. Because we had read such a lousy forecast, we opted for a shorter ride. Remembering we needed more painted's caulk to fill the nail holes on the trim work, I suggested we ride to Lowe's Home Supply, about 10 miles away. We've mostly been riding on protected bike trails and we know we are going to need to ride in road side lanes during the coming trip. We need that practice and we need to perfect our communication skills, verbal and nonverbal.
We pulled two panniers and mounted them on my bike and then we set out for a ride in the sunshine. We fell into our usual formation: I took the lead, followed by the Beast and Frankenbutt brought up the rear. Just before leaving, we discussed staying within 2 bike lengths of one another since we'll need to hear each other as we travel. Using our handle bar mounted mirrors, we kept a good eye on the distance between each bike, with the Beast being the pivotal rider. She needed to increase the pace when the gap opened between her bike and mine and it was her job to inform me if Frankenbutt was falling behind.
For the last few rides, I've found my standard cruising gear of 2/5 (my chain on the second largest sprocket in front and 5th largest sprocket at the back) was becoming easier and easier to ride. I've found myself now using 2/6 and 2/7 more often, a sign that I'm building more leg strength, I suppose. During the flat portions of today's ride, I also managed to ride substantially far in 3/5 gear, occasionally slipping into 3/6 and the largest of both sprockets, 3/7 combination.
I hollered out and pointed to rubble on the road along our route, hoping to save us some tire changes. The Beast utilized her "stand up and pedal" skills from BMX and worked hard to keep the gap between herself and me to no more than 2 bike lengths. Frankenbutt and I shouted confirmation when it was clear to cross from one side of the road to the other for turns. We rode in the bike lanes whenever there was one but found quite a stretch without bike lane designation which is currently under construction. Evidently, the road crews had recently removed the old pavement and carved grooves into the surface, in preparation of laying the new pavement. We all grew tired of the constant vibration to our butts, hands and elbows. It's important for all of us to get used to the sounds of vehicles whizzing by us although honking horns startle all of us. Maybe I shouldn't have put that "Honk if you like old guys" bumper sticker on Frankenbutt's back, eh?
We made it to our destination averaging 11.7 miles per hour, a slight increase. We locked the bikes to an outdoor picnic table since there were no bike racks (why aren't there more bike racks??) and went into the store to make our purchase. On our return, we rode into strong headwinds and only averaged 10.5 miles per hour. Shortly after we got back onto our bikes, the skies started turning gray and the clouds were rolling over our heads. The wind kicked up and although the breeze felt great, I was concerned about being seen in the "dusk like" conditions, even though it was only 3:30 in the afternoon.
Speaking of being seen in such conditions, we bought 1 rear mounted flashing light at Go2 Outfitters in Lutz, FL during our car trip to Riverview BMX last week and we need to buy 2 more. Frankenbutt hadn't had a chance to mount it yet but it's on his "to do" list. While at the store, the manager, Gary Secunda, was quite helpful as he always is. He showed us some waterproof writing paper and we discussed getting a waterproof notebook for the Beast to do a pictorial journal of her bike trip. Although his in stock notebooks were all lined, he offered to research his suppliers to find one with unlined sketch style waterproof paper. Their website is pretty impressive: www.go2outfitters.com.
He also pointed out a new sport snack line that he's carrying, called "Pro Bar". We purchased a Cran-Lemon Twister and a Banana Nut bar and sampled them during the car ride. I liked both but neither the Beast nor Frankenbutt liked the Cran-Lemon Twister; they both liked the Banana Nut flavor. Pro Bars are said to be "whole food meal bars" with an organic oat and peanut butter base. The 3 ounce bars were tasty and it was nice to find snack bars not made from processed foods.
Tomorrow, Frankenbutt will be showing one of his nicer mountain bikes to a Craigs List prospect and I hope he sells it, although I think he feels like a little piece of him is taken with every bike that gets sold. I know all the sayings about boys and their toys, and I don't begrudge his love of bicycles. We've both come to terms with the fact that sometimes selling something you like, affords you something you'll love.
I hope this bike trip lives up to that for him, the Beast and me.
More later; until then feel free to weigh in with your thoughts about our ride and your own questions; good advice is always welcome, too!
Miles ridden so far: 0 (training miles don't count)