Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Back To Work - Back To Biking

Well, I'm back to work.

After schools had shut down due to the virus back in March, I was working from home for a few months, followed by summer break. Other than our family camping vacation (for about a week) I spent almost the whole summer painting my house and not riding as much as I might have otherwise.

The entire summer was full of uncertainty as we waited to see what/when/how schools were going to reopen in the fall. Ultimately the decision was left up to every individual district in the state (and probably across the country) to come up with their own reopening plans. Some school districts went full-steam-ahead in mid-August with in-person classes, and no mask mandates, and then made national news when they were forced to quarantine within days due to viral outbreaks.

In my area, every school is on a different schedule and different opening plan. Many have delayed the start date by a few weeks. Some are entirely online. Others are in-person with certain "precautions" (like maintaining "social distance" - which is nearly impossible to enforce with kids in a school setting). My district delayed the start be several weeks, and is beginning with some kind of split schedule where half the kids are in school, while the other half are online, and then they switch on alternate days. We'll just have to see how that goes.

Anyhow, this means I'm back to commuting by bike as often as possible, which is great since that's how I get most of my biking miles. The weather this first week back has been and looks to be favorable for riding.

When we would start back to school in mid-August as normal, there would actually be a hint of daylight when I'd set off for work. Starting after Labor Day, as we did this year, means it's still pitch dark when I leave the house. But within the last few miles I can see the dawn breaking through.

I emerged out of the darkness of a long stretch of woods to see this misty sunrise scene.

This misty field is soon (unfortunately) to be filled with luxury McMansions. Looking closer I could see something moving off there in the distance (just a little black speck near the horizon).

Zooming in, it's a pair of deer. Probably a mother and fawn.

Readers might recall that I'm testing out a Brooks saddle. I moved that over to my commuting mule, figuring that that is the bike that's going to get the most miles on it for the next nine months.

The "Imperial" (B17 with a big cutaway in the top) temporarily replaces the all-weather, rubber-topped C17 on the commuter bike. The dark brown saddle doesn't look bad on the all-black bike - but ultimately I don't much care what the commuter mule looks like. In many ways it's kind of an assault on my retrogrouchy sensibilities, but that's why I got it -- I don't hesitate to ride it in bad weather, and I don't worry about riding through the salty slush of winter the way I would on a classic steel bike. I'm still withholding judgement on the cutaway saddle until it gets broken-in. However, I will say that the C17 I had been using was, in my opinion, a very nice saddle. Count me a fan of that one.

That's all for now. Welcome Back.


  1. The shot above of the seatstay cluster does not appear to be a classic steel steed. Care to elaborate on its pedigree?

    1. I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but I never go into much detail because it really isn’t a “Retrogrouchy” bike in any way. I got it fairly cheaply, with the intent that it would be put through hell. It’s an aluminum framed Kona Rove.

  2. You say the field will soon be filled with McMansions. That means, one day soon your photo will be a kind of time capsule, as so many fragments of the pre-pandemic world seem to be now.

    1. That's an interesting thought. I always enjoyed that stretch of road with the rolling hills and the farm fields (and the classic red barns). I've taken many photos along that stretch over the years. But the houses are going up - there are a bunch under construction as I write this, and many more on the way. Such a shame.

    2. In about 1960 our family, like so many, moved from the inner city to a brand new suburban development. It was a great place for a young teen to grow up, roaming the surrounding woods and fields. But the woods and fields inevitably shrank and the four roads that surrounded the development began to... well, develop.

      One day my dad said "Here, take my camera. This place is going to change. I'm going to drive the main roads and you're going to take pictures."

      The roads now have as many as five lanes, the former greenhouse site is a plaza, as are many forested acres and grassy fields. The cornfields are suburban streets. Our photos are an interesting time capsule.

      I did photograph my bike commute route! Although I'm retired, I still ride it frequently. But someday my memory will enjoy the help, I'm sure.

  3. I use a 23 year-old Brooks B17 saddle on my touring bike. In an attempt to reduce a numbness problem that was ruining my rides, I tried many alternatives, but the symptoms persisted and none of them was as good as the B17. Eventually, I cut away the top of my B17 and added laces just like your test 'Imperial'; fortunately it remained comfortable to use but the numbness problem continued. Then, following a bout of poor health, I lost over twenty pounds....the numbness went away and stayed away. That was great, but now I really wish that I hadn't cut up my B17.....

    1. You know - body weight is one of those elements that frequently does not get talked about when it comes to the subject of saddle comfort, numbness, etc.. But it makes sense that it could make a difference.