Good places to ride – Doraville

I LOVE riding in and around Doraville.

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It’s really great, why?

Drivers are considerate – Doraville has a higher immigrant and middle-class population than a lot of other areas I ride in. These two characteristics seem to lead to more cautious and considerate drivers. This is obviously heuristic but that doesn’t negate the experiences I’ve had during the hours riding on the roads here.

The roads connect to other places – Doraville is great for riding in as well as riding through. This is a pass-through to all sorts of places. From here I can get to Stone Mountain, Downtown Atlanta, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Norcross pretty much anywhere can be routed to from here.

There are actual side roads during rush hour that are not used as commuter short cuts – this is the most amazing thing. There are roads here, that are nice to ride that are not clogged with aggressive drivers during the prime 3:30pm-6:30pm hours. And they connect to other places!

Stuff to look at and people to see – There’s always things to see in this area. Businesses, traffic on the interstate, planes taking off and landing at the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, you can even see Stone Mountain from behind the Farmer’s Market riding on New Peachtree Road. Lots of pedestrians using Marta. And this is weird to say but there used to be an AA on Stewart Road I would ride by late at night and there were always people outside talking, smoking cigarettes and it was kinda nice to have people around. I don’t use my bicycle to go places and shop but if I did this would be great place too, grocery stores and specialty shops are easily accessible by bike. Plus there are a ton of good restaurants.

Most top-end riders head west and end up dealing with dickheads from the wealthy areas of North Buckhead or the more congested streets closer to Atlanta on the top-end Northwest side. It’s a shame there aren’t any group rides that pass through here to Brookhaven.

If you’re ever in the area, here’s a little 45 minute route to show off some of the sights.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18782788

 

This is an amazing way to compare bike geometry

http://gearinches.com/blog/misc/bike-geometry-comparator

Here’s my Haanjo Comp (M, 53 in Green) compared to my Double Cross Disc (M, 52 in Red). I set up the Haanjo by eyeball to be slightly higher and it’s funny to see how close they ended up. I think I’m a little too crunched up on the Haanjo but I’m still trying to decide if it’s a saddle position or a stem issue.

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Signs and signals – what you wear and how people treat you

I started riding in a college town in late 2010 wearing regular clothes and a hat my girlfriend bought me. In the 8 months of so I was riding around town I only had one or two negative experiences that were relatively benign. Once a domino’s delivery driver buzzed me and once a drunk dude told me in a regular speaking voice to move out of the road. The times I was riding were mainly during the midday or late at night. Usual traffic was stay-at-home parents and college students.

Then I moved to a suburb of Atlanta in Gwinnett County in 2011. Much higher traffic roads and a much wider variety of road traffic. I wore the same type of regular clothes and hat and was riding in the morning after commuting hours. Usual traffic was stay-at-home parents, delivery truck and landscaping trucks. The only negative experience from 2011 to mid-2013 I remember was when a passenger opened his door to try to hit me as he was passing at more than double my speed. I followed him to his destination as the driver pulled in right after they passed me, he got out, walked to his pouch and started ranting at me. I think he had some mental issues as his posture and syntax was really strange. I just watched from across the street for a bit and then rode off.

In the spring of 2013 I bought a road bike and started racing. I bought racing kit, a helmet and stopped wearing regular clothes. In the 6 months I rode around Gwinnett County wearing racing kit I had several negative experiences. Several times I was honked at, people flipped me off, a high school student tried to brake check me into the curb/back of his car. Once a old man honked and yelled at me as he passed and then pulled over at the next turnout and got out of his car – I just rode by confused at his aggressive posture and screaming. People also seemed to pass closer and faster and use less care in choosing where to pass.

There are other incidents I cannot recall but the experiences live on in license plates kept in my notes and Strava titles listing make/model of car but nothing else.

It’s hard to quantify the changes and kind of hard to say my experience was in any way objective but truly I noticed a difference in how I was treated on the road due to a simple change of attire. I’ve been thinking about this recently as I’ve abandoned wearing racing style cycling kit. I ride in a t-shirt, cutoff shorts and a cap under my helmet. It’s been about three months and I’ve noticed the same changes mentioned above. People just don’t treat you quite so shit when you’re wearing regular clothes. Now, I read enough about other’s experiences to know that regular clothes are not armor against impatience and a 4,000 pound automobile but they do seem to tone down the aggression from drivers.

What it is about racing kits that signals to drivers that this person requires less care and caution?

 

Shimano RD-M592 Rear Derailleur – Just Doesn’t Work

It’s rare for a modern bike part to be so poorly engineered that it doesn’t work at all. This derailleur came on my mountain bike. It worked great at first but after a hundred hours or so it started failing to shift. Like actually not shifting up or down. The cable would pull and move but the derailleur would not move enough to switch gears on one or even two clicks.

Drove me CRAZY for months with this. I changed cables, hangers, housing – messed with the shifters. It was awful. This fucked up more than one event for me and made me super frustrated.  I read through this thread and after seeing other people’s experiences, tossed mine right in the trash (not really – I can’t throw anything away so it’s in the “worn-out parts” bin BUT STILL)

http://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-mechanics/1012463-impossible-deore-m592-derailleur.html

So fuck this derailleur. I replaced it with a Sora RD-3500 which handles the same exact cassette and chainring combos just fine.

51w2gn17h-l

 

Quick notes from today

https://www.strava.com/activities/833505532

Deep cyclic breathing is important and seems to help reduce heart rate drift after a few hours of riding.

*deep inhale/deep exhale * regular breath*regular breath * deep inhale/deep exhale

Coconut oil and almond lotion is an amazing chamois cream. Also a delicious combination if you wanted to make a candy bar.

Two naps and a box of mini-cornettos will really give you the energy to have a good ride.

The draft from passing cars probably has the biggest effect on average speed.

Thereabouts #1

https://vimeo.com/102429420

I watched this late spring-2016 and it really helped inspire me for the riding I did over the summer. I don’t feel like I had a successful season overall, but I did have a few high points and part of the motivation for this was watching this film. I wanted the same adventure, the flapping shirts and no helmets hundreds of miles from home. Freedom from the quicksand of a boring life and from the tyranny of a racing culture that does not value the same things I do. There’s something to be said for the signs and signals of what you wear and how you interact with the world. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve moved more from dressing and riding like a racer to dressing and riding like someone going for an adventure in their backyard.

Nice that it’s on Vimeo, I need to figure out how to watch the second installment.

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2016 In Review

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January 2016

January was ok, I get in a little riding and then take the second week off to go work in California with my brother. Come back and just kind of ride around for mid distance 3-4 hour rides. I don’t really go anywhere but its ok and fun. My cold weather gear is really nice for this year. Handwarmers on my shoes and in my gloves keep things toasty. The chainstay on my DX cracked sometime in 2015 but I don’t notice until the last week of the month. I have a Double Cross Disc frame just sitting there so it’s an ok swap. DCD takes a bit to dial in but eventually I like it ok.

February 2016

I’m just unmotivated and not feeling like much this month. I’ve signed up for Currahee and Southern Cross so I have events, just have that February drop that seems to happen every year. I have a good time riding a 1987 Le Tour I got on craiglist. It feels fast and carefree and reminds me of 2011/2012. Currahee goes ok but I do not like the DCD for gravel, it feels stiff and harsh. I resolve to ride my MTB for Southern Cross. Later I realize the carbon fork from the DX I was using does not work well with the frame, the DCD is awesome with the stock steel fork. I had planned a complicated schedule for Currahee so my girlfriend could pick me up and eat with me at the post-race meal. I have some mental breakdown issues and wipe everything out and just go by myself. She shows up anyway and we get to eat and have fun together afterward so it’s ok. I also took a wrong turn at Currahee due to marking issues but it’s no matter as I was way out of competition anyway.

March 2016

I do my first MTB rides since October or November of 2015 and am blown away by how fun it is. I feel nice and ready for Southern Cross. My mom takes me and explores Dahlonega while I race. She gets some awesome pictures and we have fun. I do a group ride on my 650b machine and find it invigorating but awkward as my bike does not fit in. I also find an iphone and return it after a funny phone call. I race 3 times in 3 weeks and the third race is the Green Gobbler. The course is rough and weather is unseasonably hot but it’s a great race. I am fit and fast and place well for myself. I also misread the timer as it was staggered for the 6 hour race and probably could have done another lap but oh well.

April 2016

I’m just riding my mountain bike and 650b bike. Anxiety about track cycling but I never go down to race. I do end up doing 3 races this month. Blankets Creek dirty thirty is very fun but a super hard course – rocky and rooty and not good for 26” tires I think. But next is Shake ‘n’ Brake and it’s a load of fun. I kick ass on my MTB but take a wrong turn AGAIN due to course marking issues and lose out on a really good placing. This turn cost me 15-25 minutes and a “podium” oh well, still fun. Final is the Raider 48 which is less race and more ride but still very fun. I break a spoke and have shitty shifting issues all day but my girlfriend comes with and we eat at 2Dog Café in Gainesville and it’s so good. A rider on the raider 48 comes by as I get to my car after the race and tells me my blog is interesting and he reads it a lot. This is cool.

May 2016

A guy in a purple/blue accord from New York acts like a dickhead. I do the Dirty Spokes 3 hours of Ft Yargo and see mountain bikers act like dickheads there too. I lose my saddlebag and everything inside of it. I am unmotivated to prepare for the adventure riding season I built up in my head. I can’t get into riding long distances when it takes so long to get to new roads. My relationship splinters into a million pieces and does not ever recover. This month is hard in every way.

June 2016

I get a 29er mountain bike and it is a blast. I convert my 26” to drop bars and it’s a blast. I sell all my excess bike junk and craigslist projects and the $600 I get is a blast. I sold all my stuff because I decided to use my employee discount and buy a diamondback gravel bike, I am very excited. I decide to drive to the Budweiser plant and ride from there it’s a blast. There are so many new roads there and places to climb, I see awesome things and stray kitty breaks my heart but it’s such a good ride and so freeing to come back to the car beat and exhausted in a parking lot full of other cyclists. I become enamored with publix sandwiches. Ultimate 5-grain double meat is the best. My crankarm breaks at 5 in the morning 8 miles into a 120+ mile ride after driving 45 minutes to the Bud plant. I go a little crazy and drive all the way to my mom’s house for the replacement crankset that’s there and then back to my apartment to install and then back to the Bud plant to ride my original route. I get two hours in and am mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s so hot and dry I turn around and head back. It’s an ok ride by 4+ hours of driving and 4+ hours of riding is awful.

July 2016

I am destroyed. July 1st I go on the hardest ride I’ve ever done. 4 hours of fun 4 hours of terror. I walk so much, the hills of Cohutta are amazing and not passable for me at this time on the lowest gear I brought. I get giardiasis and this affects me much longer than I realize. I ride in Cohutta twice more this month and each ride is amazing and very difficult due to the giardiasis. I think I am better but the parasite saps your strength for weeks after the symptoms disappear. Regardless I think about this area often and yearn to go back. I get my new Diamondback Haanjo Comp and it’s really nice! I go on a 100 mile ride that is shockingly hard (giardiasis again) but so beautiful, more sandwiches from publix and continually worse relationship issues. I ride my fixed gear once for a short ride and it’s pretty awesome.

August 2016

I spend the first week in Arizona on vacation, it’s very fun and relaxing. The flight back is buffeted by severe turbulence and this affects me for weeks after. I ride my fixed gear a bit, my gravel bike a bit but never get into anything longer than a couple hours. Adventure ride season ended back in July I guess. I skip Savage CX and this is a smart move as I am in no way ready for this. I do race the red clay ramble, I slept poor all week and argued with my girlfriend and have the poorest race I’ve ever done. Felt totally worthless and embarrassed by my showing.

September 2016

Everything crystallizes in my mind. I decide to leave my relationship and start riding a bit better. I discover early morning riding again after I wake with my girlfriend when she has a 4am call to go to inventory for her job. I have an amazing adventure before work and ride early in the darkness several days in a row. I become enamored with sourdough pretzels and protein milkshakes (for months before too).

October 2016

I move out and live alone again. It takes a week to adjust and get back on the bike but when I do things are going great. I set up my double cross disc as a gravel racer with the HED wheelset from my Diamondback and find it to be an amazing ride. I take it to Sope Creek and have a blast. I go on a date and have a blast, I have coffee and lattes and make a mess in my apartment. I stop eating so much and relax everything. I lose a little weight and sleep poorly.

November 2016

Sac o’ Suds and Standard Deluxe are amazing events and I enjoy them immensely. I exercise poor judgment and work on my bike too much the day before each event and have issues with a slipping seatpost, still the rides are good and I learn a lot about myself. I become enamored with starbucks mocha double shots and make a choice to be more social that does not pan out. I get compliments on my strava pictures and rides. Most of my riding is on my cross bike or drop-bar MTB at Sope Creek in a v-neck t-shirt, cutoff shorts and marpat cap my mom made me. I am really happy with my riding. On Thanksgiving I put together my fixed gear conversion of a 1987 Schwinn Le Tour and have a great ride.

December 2016

December starts with rain, flat tires and hand tools from the side of the road. I relearn how to ride in the rain and have fun. I cut out the chamois from some kits and feel more comfortable on the bike, it’s easy to ride forever when you’re not hurting. Still in Sope Creek wearing v-necks and cutoffs but sometimes with a pullover. It’s starting to cool by mid-month and I like the weather this year. I have some issues with my Haanjo Comp but it’s an easy fix and kind of funny. Watch for those trash ponds! I end the year with 16 hours of night riding in a row. It’s refreshing, I nap all day and once the sun sets I am invigorated and feel like I can ride for hours. I’m fueled by Sourdough pretzels and seem much more resistant to the cold weather than years past.