So usually nothing's new in my world. I've been doing the normal riding to work with the occasional weekend ride.
I did one of those infamous coffee rides last weekend and it was a blast. Scott Redd knows many different routes that, when I used to spend hours on the bike, would pass many times but never try. As a roadie, you didn't dare take your pristine machine over anything but the most direct paved routes. Many a time on our weekly jaunts out to nowhere'sville, we'd pass some gravelly offshoot that rose and curved into the trees. I'd glance their way and think, "where does that go?" It wasn't until Jon Randell and I were done with training and racing that we'd actually try those random offshoots. One of the first ones was in the middle of what is/was a commonly used road race course. Randell said, "Let's see where this goes."
Now you may recognize this race course. It's basically a vertical rectangle(ish) shape involving Church Road on the south, 310th St on West, Hwy 66 on the N to NE corner, then 334th finishing it up. If you were to zoom in to it's vertically bisecting road starting in the South with 322nd St, you'd see that it barely qualifies as a road - definitely not to road bike standards.
So when Randell and I headed North on this "road" it got real interesting, real quick. It's basically a jeep/truck access road with tire ruts, overgrowth, and some washed out places sprinkled in. Then to add insult to injury, at the end there was a spot where water usually collects. This particular ride, it looked like it was dry, but my road bike soon found out otherwise, pretty quick. I almost endoed, but saved it at the last second. My front wheel was covered in semi-dry mud of the stickiest caliber. Being in prissy roadie mode, I didn't want to get my cycling gloved dirty, and Randell was up the road (as he was always faster than me) so I just did a couple bunny hops to shake off the crud, then rode like hell to use centripetal force to get the rest off.
Well, that might not have been the brightest idea, as the mud on the side of my tires decided to eat away a little at my Carbon Fiber Fork. It wasn't bad, but still, it was the beginning of my need to use a better bike for exploring these exciting new random roads that I had always passed by. I have yet to find my perfect bike, but my Trek Ion is purdy darn close. If it was slightly more utilitarian (bike speak for having braze-ons) and just a little more tire clearance, and maybe, just maybe, disc brakes, I'd be in heaven. I could go all bike touristy and get a Surly LHT or Ogre, which I've seriously pondered, but I know I'd be pretty unhappy with the weight. Granted, if I lost weight off my body and rode more, it'd be less of an impact. But still, that extra 5-10 pounds of frame and disc brake weight can wear on you after hours in the saddle.
Here would be my perfect ride: aluminum frame, disc brakes (rear disc chainstay mounted, not seatstay), braze-ons for anything/everything, frame/fork clearance for 50c tires, and somehow, no toe overlap. The no toe overlap thing is a function of frame design that I'm not sure would work out. I don't understand all the geometry specifics, but anything road or CX has the front wheel tucked pretty far in for less mechanical trail, resulting in more stability for flying down the road in a straight line. MTB bikes have pretty high trail, and geometry to allow quick maneuvering at lower speeds, so toe overlap isn't a problem with the front wheel sticking out there. Salsa Vaya, or even the Fargo were close(although their newer versions are going more toward frame bag design, rather than many braze-ons for racks), but I know those bikes wouldn't be very fast. I guess that's the conundrum - speed versus utility/comfort.
All this is a moo point since my current goal is to pay down debt, not buy new bikes. Helping with that effort are a few happenings. I'm building bikes again at the Trek Store Midtown. I'll be doing Chip timing for races. Also, my manager retired, so I took on a new supervisor position with more responsibility and a good bump in salary. Our car will be paid off by the end of this year. My wife should finish up her schooling for Medical billing/coding in a year and get an internship as part of Metro's curriculum. So all of that combined should make this one of the last summers that I'm living paycheck to paycheck. That'll be a very welcome change.
Hopefully between all this extra work I can squeeze in some coffee rides, some off-the pavment beaten path rides, and some TGJ (Team Good Job) road rides. I miss the days where most of my free time was spent either riding or planning my next ride.