Thursday, December 24, 2009

Training - Florida Team Camp, Day 2

Yes, Southwest got the bike to me last night. Late, like 9:30 PM late, but, hey, it got here. Apparently there were a lot of problems in Baltimore, where we had a plane transfer.

Note to self: no more flights through Baltimore.

Second note to self: try to schedule more than 25 minutes for a transfer, so that if the plane is 10 minutes late, you still get to sit in some semblance of a good seat.

This morning we all went for a reasonably healthy breakfast at Cracker Barrel (my breakfast anyway, not theirs), then headed home to recover, prepare for "my" shopping trip (food and Simple Green), and put my bike together.

The missus asked if I wanted to stay at home and do the bike, so I did. The bike went together well, but the embarrassingly dirty drivetrain really stuck out. The missus went out on a mission to get some Simple Green but couldn't find any. I'll have to venture out and see if I can't find some, or some citrus degreaser.

Paps, the missus's grandpa, sat and watched me while I worked on the bike.

I spent much of the time explaining to Paps all about the quick release levers, the carbon fiber wheels and such, and the power meter cranks. I also explained that I'm just a hack, as impressive as the bike may seem, and that in the scheme of things the bike was really nice but not insanely so.

He understood - he grabbed some of his golf clubs, explaining to me that he built them up using heads he'd bought, adding shafts he cut himself. I guess it's like building a bike - you don't "make" the frame, but you build the bike from pre-made parts and pieces.

Usually I can get by without any problems with a dirty drivetrain, but I planned on riding with a fellow BikeForums rider, and he'd be sure to notice the blackened drivetrain. I thought that maybe I could fake it and tell him it's a new waterproof lubricant I'm testing for a Connecticut based company, but he'd probably see through that.

We did a good ride, about 40 miles.

So some of the things that make riding in this part of Florida interesting.

First off, great trails. Good pavement, no root ridges every 2 feet like at home, wide enough to ride double file (but you single up when passing riders going the other way).

Second, the interesting wildlife. I saw two sand cranes (apparently pretty idiotic and common, but new to me). I can call them idiotic because they carefully sauntered right across a busy road, the drivers politely slowing and avoiding them. Even with cars passing a foot or three away, they never flinched.

I also saw a deer. Common in Connecticut, the smaller version here seemed, well, smaller. Much more tame, barely an ear twitch when we rode by.

And I saw a really new to me animal - an armadillo. Actually, I saw armadillos three times, but I suspect two sitings involved one armadillo. All three were diligently rooting around for bugs and such, walking daintily on their spindly legs, carrying their protective shield everywhere. Apparently these guys are pretty unaware too, ignoring everything around them.

(As an addendum, I also saw two lizards sunning themselves outside the house. I wasn't on the bike so I didn't see them on the ride, but I saw them a few times. They're common in California but this was a first East Coast siting for me.)

Pro sitings? None.

Third, the interesting scenery. It's interesting because it's so uniform. I'll have to take a picture, but it looks really fake. Seriously. It looks like someone got a 3-D representation of a Palm Bush (my name for a palm tree on the ground) and did a bazillion pastes of a copy around the landscape, creating a sea of palm frond things.

Then they got some real Palm Trees (the tall version) and copy pasted one for every 30 Palm Bushes. Imagine a sea of palm frond things with trees scattered around here and there.

Then they got some Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Pine Trees and copy-pasted those at a ratio of two for every Palm Tree. Now you see pine trees, slightly more often than palm trees.

Install a flat, meandering bike path that rarely changes texture and you're looking at...

A fake bike trail.

It looks just like some of the incredibly fake scenery in some of the bike power trainer software I've seen.

Pretty, though, and a bit mind-boggling in its uniformity.

Add to it the steady breeze and you have a mutated version of Belgium. Steady winds, flat winding roads... but with Palm Bushes and Palm Trees and smooth pavement instead of electric cow fences, ditches, and cobblestones.

I remembered how hard I worked to deal with wind in Belgium, and how strong I felt afterward.

I hope that my work in the next week or so will help me gain some of that strength once again.

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