#30daysofbiking firing up again for September

After a couple of weeks off for travel, Sturgis, and other miscellaneous work duties, I’m getting back in the saddle for another 30.  I’m hoping to do 300 miles in the month.

Go here for more info:

http://30daysofbiking.com/bike/

I highly recommend that you join us on this!  It’s a refreshing, fun, and rewarding way to reconnect with your two-wheeled past.  Why do I say past?  Well, I used to ride a lot, back in grad school.  Yearly pilgrimages to Moab, mountain bike races, and a longish but doable commute got quite a few miles on my legs.  Moving to California in 2000 probably put me at the most miles I’ve ever done in a single year, though I’ve never kept much track of the actual miles ridden.

But work, life, and kids sort of intervened.  I’d still pick up the occasional issue of a bike magazine, and go for a spin once in a while, but it always felt harder than I remember, and I never managed to stick with it.  I’d go to watch the bike race in downtown Stillwater, and feel vaguely bad about myself that I had this tremendous love for bikes, but hadn’t made actually riding them that often a priority.   My actions weren’t in line with my core values.

When I saw a Facebook posting (thanks Bob Amaden!) alluding to #30daysofbiking I perked up and paid attention.  I got to the party a little late (April 16th) , but made up for it by not stopping until work-related travel absolutely forced me to.  It ended up being 105 days straight of more than 5 miles on the bike.  The longest ride was a nice hilly 56-miler down to Afton and other places in the St. Croix river valley.

If you’re anything like I was, you used to ride more than you do now.  Maybe you didn’t, but you probably bought a bike at some point, and when that bike was shiny and new you put on more miles than you do now.   Well, that can be fixed in short order, and you won’t believe how quickly it takes to feel that wonderful feeling of motoring under your own power again.  The small triumphs of hills conquered without downshifting (or the fixie equivalent: motoring up hills seated with higher gearing than you used at the start of the season), and the sureness of knowing that you are indeed fitter than you were the week before are still there waiting for you.  The mellow relaxation of a post-ride endorphine high is still just as pleasant.

Think about it this way:  your life is probably a lot more complicated than it was when you last put on any serious miles.  You need those miles now more than ever to put everything into perspective.

I’m looking forward to a nice way to round out the summer.  It’s already feeling a little chillier out there (in the 50’s the other night made it wonderfully brisk.)  Soon all the rides will be in the dark, and there will be some weather to worry about.   Bring it on, I say!

Life got busy there…

Nothing like a month of bouncing back and forth across the continent to put your “I”m going to ride my bicycle every day” thing on hold for a while.

First, I got to go down to Grand Junction, Colorado and ride with the motorcycle press and talk about the new 2011 Victorys.  It was a hoot, and well worth the 1200 miles of interstate it took to get there.  Got to see some friends (though not all of them… bummer!) in Boulder on the way down, which broke the trip up nicely.

The area we were in (Gateway Canyon) is being turned into a resort by its owner, John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel.  He’s got a bunch of land, and is quickly building a very nice conference center/resort in the middle of the desert.  It’s beautiful.  Everything is built very well- so much so that I half expected to see velociraptors running around the grounds.

http://www.gatewaycanyons.com/

The riding through the canyons was most satisfactory.  Roads were in good condition, and nicely twisty without being ridiculously technical.  Perfect for my Vision, which allowed lots of fun at extralegal velocities without sacrificing comfort.  Why we don’t market the bike as a sport-tourer, I don’t know.

I took the following photo gear:

Olympus E-P1 with 17mm F/2.8 lens.   This lives around my neck while I ride, and allows rolling photography.  I try to keep this to a minimum, and only on straight roads.  I tend to take this photo a lot:

From the “what the F@#* is that rolling down the road?” file:

And a couple of entries in the “Classy things seen at gas stations” contest:

Finally…

See, I told you I take that photo a lot.

Nikon D300 with

-Sigma 24-70 F/2.8 lens.  This used to be my standard carry lens, until it died.  Again.  About 3 months after being allegedly repaired (thankfully under warranty) by Sigma USA.  Now it’s out of warranty, and it’s got the same mechanical problem with the zoom and focus mechanism.  Do not buy one of these.  They die, in short order.  Mine is about 15 months old now.   I’ll see what it costs to get repaired, then probably sell it.  Don’t trust it any more.

-Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 –  I like this lens a lot.  The image quality is good, but sometimes it won’t… quite… focus… at all.  Not sure if this is technique or the lens itself.  When it works, it’s great, as it works out to about a 50mm lens on an FX body like the D300.

-Nikkor 50mm f/1.8- Love this lens.  It’s a $100 plastic bodied cheap POS that takes images far far better than what you would expect.  Magic things happen when you put this baby on the camera… and it’s cheap!!!  Did I mention it didn’t cost much?

-Tamron 11-18.  I use this for most of my architectural stuff, and in close quarters at rallies and the like to document cool motorcycles.  As long as you keep the camera relatively level, and don’t mind a bit of lateral color fringing in the corners, it works great.  I’ve looked at sample images of other wide angles in this class, and they all seem to get a bit funky in the corners.

-Samyang 8mm fisheye.  I love this lens for making stuff look exaggerated.  It’s great for self portraits (at 8mm, almost everything is in focus all the time), and for making cars and bikes look funky.  Good fun.  Not technically a very good lens, I still love it for the wow  factor you get with it:

After the press thing, we rode with a bunch of journalists through the rockies and up to Sturgis.  Epicness happened, including about 20 miles of twisty dirt road (we were all on Visions, Cross Countrys, and Cross Roads, not dirt bikes).  Much fun was had.  Twisty roads aplenty, savvy?

Sturgis was the usual.  I didn’t stick around long- worked my day in the store then headed home.  Two young kids at home, missed my wife, etc.  Plus, fun things are happening at work.

…and that’s all I’m going to say about that.