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HANGING BASKET DAY

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SUMMER finally arrives in the Mountains!!!

With the switch over to June Mother Nature finally said “OK” and now we will have warmth and summer! ……… waiting in the wings Brenda is ready!

Saturday morning, time for some household shopping (those dogs need feeding) and a quick visit into the Walmart Plant Mortuary to see if anything can be saved. A couple of “pinks” make the basket along with a mixed display which will be the center piece in front of the Maple tree.

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Pinks and center display around the maple, with hanging toms

First Cadi load and back to the house for unloading and by 1100 we are at Four Seasons to see what they have. Petunias and ice plants for me along with something different in some calibrachoa hybrids called “cherry star”.

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Petunias for the rose bed

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Iceplants for the Scuffy border

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Cherry Star

Trolleys and carts are loaded but we lose a terra cotta ladybird in the process but do snag some lovely little birds for the fountain in the process. Finally with the five big hanging baskets for the front, a small one for the shade garden, along with a collection of 3 different types of coral bells and not forgetting 2 hanging baskets of tomatoes and a fuchsia, she just can’t resist, we are done!   ……. or are we? …. What is this ?   ……. a hanging basket of cucumbers?

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Coral bells in 3 different colors

Nice idea but nowhere to put it for the journey home. First load in the car and back to the house well pleased with our purchases. All unloaded and while Brenda starts arranging I’m off for round 2 and soon back again with the rest.

The last two trolleys are loaded and the fuchsia hangs over Brenda’s seat for the drive home. Unloaded and positioning is started. Two similar HB’s either side of the main entrance, two more in a combo of yellow/blue and finally a purple and unusual white spattering effect that I will call the “painter’s bucket” as it looks like someone cleaned their brush and this poor plant was in the way. Padlocks go on !!

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The front 5 are up

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Doorway

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“The Painter’s Bucket”

Sunday and Brenda is off again while I set about the rose bed and cutting the new Scuffy bow beds.  Once again I can see what happened in the UK when Yorkshire and Lancashire had their epic battle known as “The War of the Roses” as my arms are slashed to pieces and running with blood after a full assault on the weeds. Two of my old roses did not enjoy winter and need to be replaced.

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War of the Roses

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Need two more

Brenda is back another $200 poorer and the Cadi is full once more! 3 more big ferns from City Market and an assortment from Cliff Rose, Walmart and 4 Seasons ……. including the Cucumber Basket which was NOT for sale!!!

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3 more ferns

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Matching extras for the Gazebo

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NOT FOR SALE!!

A truly remarkable tree, the Maple, which produces unlimited quantities of cheery tomatoes and full size cucumbers all summer long and then lights up for Christmas.

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” A very strange tree is the Maple which fruits all summer……”

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…….. and then it does this ?

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How does this happen ?

Monday and now its my turn as I need two roses, a headstone type plant for the Scuffy beds and some landscaping stone to finish the job off out by the road and blend it all in.

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Roses ready!

As always it takes a lot longer than expected but I like the results and now all I have left in this sector is the rose bed.

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Cutting, edging, planting and road roadside gravel

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Bow Beds done !

Meanwhile back in the rest of the garden, a new development in the Clematis pot ?

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Shade garden gets inundated with those ladybirds and they are everywhere!

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Percy the pumpkin gets a new home and the egg lady will be very happy.

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In the pool fountain area we bought those three little birds but then found out there are four ……….

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“Anybody seen Harry ?”

So we just had to have him.

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“I’m down here, thanks for checking!”

TONY DOWN

HOW GOES THE 3000 YOU ASK ?

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The “trim” 70 year old Cyclist

The manic cyclist, flush with 2016’s impressive 2031 miles @ 7000′ set himself a 3000 mile target for 2017. Sounds easy enough but still a challenge for the COPD and soon to be 71 year old.

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Last year’s workhorse the Giant MTB

The  faithful Giant Mountain Bike started the quest on Superbowl Sunday back on February 5th and despite the winter weather progress has generally been pretty good. Various targets, banners and cycling kites have all been passed as I battle these constant winds. Life did become a little easier with the acquisition of the 16 lb Specialized Roubaix.

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The Roubaix for me!

Every time a target is achieved a new one comes up and right now I’m looking for the first sips of champagne when I cross the half way point of 1500 ! A bit windy this morning but the last two days have been warm and sunny and winds have been fairly light making riding a lot more pleasant. With 67 miles done in the last 3 days a mere 33 to go until those corks pop!

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Last year’s “1000” bottles

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I seem to get wrapped up in this distance “thing” which of course is good for air in the lungs but once I hit that “1500” I want to try and get up some of the local hills. I have Road 30 which is short and steep and the longer main road of the 145 going into Cortez. If I can crack these then I might take on the Boggy Draw climb which looks a bit like Alpe d’Huez but in reality is probably 1.5 miles at most.

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Coming out of Dolores in the Safari

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Nasty business

Further challenges I have set myself is for Brenda to drive me up to Rico at 9000′ and then I’ll give it my best on the 38 mile run back to Dolores. Before that I’ll slowly increase my outbound mark from the 11 to 14 miles to see how that feels.

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Wednesday 31st May, Target Day, for the “1500” but first some weeding around the driveway for Scuffy. Brenda sets off for town to collect various goodies for the “celebration luncheon” …… cheeses, French bread, fruit, shrimp ………. and if you can’t find “pate” then make your own.

Meanwhile the driveway is completed and the gardener moves over to the rose bed and with first strike hits the irrigation tube with the fork! One side finished, now time to reline the weed eater and complete the lawn, east side ditches and what will eventually be my vegetable garden…… one day, one day!

As I finish the lawn Cliffie turns up to assess how to straighten up the “Leaning Sign of Dolores”

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Serious lean !

Time for that ride, not many miles required but the ever present wind is still with me. Off I go towards Telluride and the wind, which is supposed to be Southerly seems to have a slight Westerly component but I think I can deal with it. As I make the sweeping turn  at the 3.5 mile mark the wind is now right behind me which won’t be much fun on the inbound portion as I can see the trees and bushes all bending over. At the 5 mile point it starts to rain! Time to head back as up ahead its looking pretty black. Hard work back to that sweeper but now I detect an Easterly flow has joined me and speed rockets up to the low 20’s. Well this is nice and today’s ride is completed in less than one hour.

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1500 done!

Photographs of the cyclist (first ever) are taken and I’m dismissed to the shade garden to await champers and the chef’s feast. Time for a quick beer for hydration purposes while chef finishes her luncheon masterpiece.

The feast arrives!

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WOW !

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SUPERB effort from my lovely Chef

Everything is superb including the pate which is an absolute delight and as we finish two bottles of bubbly the storm clouds darken and we get our first monsoon like thunderstorm of the year.

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Never mind and its Wednesday which means 9 Ball where I seem to be excelling and in the 4 weeks of play I have had 2 seconds and a first.

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The Shark is back !

Tonight is no different and once again I’m in the final and run out with another 2nd place.

Thursday will be a cycling rest day and the next target will be the 2000 mile marker.

 

TONY DOWN

 

SUMMER PLANS

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Buses parked for summer

School Bus Driving is now over for another year so time to plan how this year’s summer will be! Last year of course went anyway it could and followed none of life’s expectations. It was, nonetheless very enjoyable.

The big picture is next year will be the last full time bus driving year and thereafter I will revert to being a Sub and driving as required. This will enable us to do a few of the “Viking River Cruises” in Europe.

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Back to the present, its Friday and Day 1 of the holiday!  Drive the boat into Reliable Marine for de-winterization and summer checkup. Now into City Market and a giant fern for the shade garden. A few stops on the way home including the first of the summer’s tasty ice creams.

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The fern becomes the 1st new plant of the season

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Giant pumpkin from our Egg lady

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NEW potting bench for 2017

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These pansies have gone mad!

Last year when the manic cycling game started the goal was to hit 400 miles before my Doctor’s visit on June 4th. This year the daily numbers have gone up from the 12-14 miles a day to a daily average of 20+.  With an uninterrupted afternoon at my disposal 27.36 miles ticks over on the odometer giving a 2017 total of 1400.52 miles in the quest for 3000.

First sessions of weeding done while Brenda sets about cleaning up Scuffy for the summer season. Good job and certainly looking a bit more sparkling after winter’s worst! House side weeding of driveway complete and a lot of dead branches removed from the Shade Garden. Some plans for another water feature are in my mind’s eye.

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Nicely felled ???

Today, Memorial Day, time to remove the debris from last year’s idiot who said he would fell a dead cottonwood. Well, yes he did, but that was all he did! Now I have to get MY chainsaw up and running and do the job properly.

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Tree removed and area cleaned up

Hoping to get on the Rose Bed and finish the driveway for Scuffy’s entrance. Need to remove all the grasses and weeds in the rocks and then the two major front beds.

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Serious weeding ahead

Priority for the day was removal of the tree for me, strim all  the west side of the property and get my ride done. Brenda aimed to finish Scuffy and top off with some plants. Everything we had planned gets completed and now I MUST turn my attention to the  Scuffy zone and get shot of those weeds.

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Restored and looking GOOD

I suspect I’ll be weeding for a couple of weeks interspersed with routine maintenance but then I should be able to get some work done on the Beemer and the trials bikes.

Future plans include 4th July back at Groundhog, which we enjoyed last year, and maybe a few trials. That of course means getting the Safari up and running.

TONY DOWN

ONLY 4 DAYS TO GO …….!

WIND

 

Sunday, a bit of a change in the weather, less windy (at last) and a warm up trend. Just 4 more days of school bus driving then effectively 3 months off when all the work and pleasure begins.

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0945 and up to 53F already, no overnight freezes this week and temps going up from a high of 66 today and gently climbing into the low 70’s before next weekend!

A good ride yesterday so no excuses today as the weather is much better. Off down the valley towards Telluride and see if I can surpass the previous best of 10.20 miles before the turn round. Getting tough as I come to the 9.80 mile point but press on and see what is over the crest. Finally make it out to 11.11 but that last mile was hard! Well, the way back was much nicer and then coming into town a few vicious gusts to contend with but another 25.61 is done and the total is now 1312.12 and 1500 could fall by the end of the month?

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This wind is getting to be something else!!!  ……. Monday, and the push continues but I’m being blown around all over the place and 30 mph gusts are not helping progress and my legs are certainly feeling it. By the time I was 7.5 miles out it was time to come back in as it was not very pleasant. 23.38 today but it was hard work.

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Not Mary Poppins weather!

Tuesday, colder and even more wind! Too difficult so an early turn round and try and find some shelter in town. Eventually give this one best and finish with only 16.31 with the idea that I might bang in a few more miles after work. The wind never lets up so no more today.

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Wednesday, warmer and MUCH less wind. Today out to the 8.55 marker and by previous standards a much nicer ride for 21.35 due to the early afternoon driving for “early release”.

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Being Wednesday its time for 9 Ball again and so far I seem to have been back on form with two 2nd places in the 3 weeks we have played. Tonight is more of the same and I run out the Winner!

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Seems I’m turning into “The 9 Ball Shark of Dolores”

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Here we are, the last day, Thursday 25th May! Standard early morning run, then a 1 hour wait before setting off again to collect the elementary kids at 1045. Back for Middle and High School and take them home and back to the Bus Barn at 1330. Now clean out the bus, sweep it, unlatch the seats and tip them up and I’m done for the 2016/17 school year. Charlotte will wash and clean the bus for me as she likes the extra money and the washing action aggravates my shoulder injury sustained in the epic Pre65 in Scotland in 2009.

Before I left in the dawn I had been trying to find my diary where I record daily cycling distances, pool winnings etc, etc. No such luck but now I’m home Brenda tells me that Hercules has eaten it !!!!!

Home again but no rest quite yet so just a refreshing couple of beers before dragging “Plan B” out of her boat house. With charged batteries the motor is raised for transit, tires pumped up, lights checked and we are ready to roll and Slot 1 is now available for tonight’s arrival.

The school year is done, gardening and “those” remedial things begin but before I do a few final words on the school year from Clint Eastwood

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TONY DOWN

 

…. AND IT GETS WORSE!

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Difficult to get a mental handle on this freaky weather which is more winter like than springtime.

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Sunday I ride to the 10.2 marker as I can’t turn round when I want to because of traffic so that becomes 23.68 when I get home and is a good opener for the week’s account.

With just 9 days left in the school year the forecasters are claiming that we will be hit with a monster spring storm ALL this week…….. and they have it RIGHT    …….. BIG TIME!!!

Monday and low temps and a biting strong 25mph wind with gusts to 40. Not my kind of cycling weather! Tuesday, I make it out with full thermals and get hailed on …… great! …… only saving grace was after the hail the wind dropped and the ride home was pretty quick for another 23.37 in the books.

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biking in the rain 580

Wednesday, even colder, had to de-ice the windscreen before I left for the morning run. Snow, hail, rain and of course the bitter strong wind. Too cold to ride and no real change for the afternoon run but then it gets worse with a major snowstorm all night and while we were playing 9 ball pool where once again I finished 2nd.

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Thursday more snow showers all morning after cleaning off the car once more! Friday not much better and I think we made 50F briefly before coming back down to freezing again. Friday bitter cold but no snow and that wind is proving too much.

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Saturday and after 4 non riding days I set off again and despite the wind turn in a respectable 25.56 to complete a dismal week.

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Well never mind, all being well I’ll pass the 1300 marker tomorrow and might knock up 1500 by the end of the month?

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You just have to keep pushing on!

 

TONY DOWN

14 TO GO!

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No, not an order at the local Chinese take out but the number of bus driving days left in the school year. By now everyone is VERY tired and looking forward to some serious sleep and personal time. I too will be knocking off the days and then it will be serious gardening and the non stop weeding!

What a very strange week this has been! It starts badly when the ominous sore throat turns into the expected head cold ……. the joys of driving small children! After some lawn mowing, strimming, and general clean up on Saturday Sunday should have been the Mancos pool championship but I didn’t fancy it especially as Brenda was the dedicated driver and was certainly none too happy with the task.

I did however ride out of town for 9.25 miles (My longest ever) and knocked up 24.54 to start the week. Monday and Tuesday the weather is awful, cold, very windy and exceedingly wet! Two no riding days but with the ongoing head cold the enforced rest days are acceptable. Wednesday and I venture out for a short, time restricted ride, as its early release day, and bang in 17.20 before the clock has me home again and getting ready for the afternoon run.

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Monster storms are everywhere, high winds, torrential rain and hail so big its damaging buildings up in the northern part of the state. Its winter driving for sure with slush and snow conditions,  aquaplaning on the highway. Back in Dolores the hail/snow is 3 inches deep on the road!!!

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Hail damage!!!

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Serious hail

Thursday and another enforced rest day as I’m driving an activity trip to Monticello over the border in Utah. However did find some whimsical “bees & ladybirds” in the Family Dollar very reasonably priced at a buck a piece.

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Friday and the weather is improving at last and despite yet more wind 20.23 is in the books as I close in on the “1200 Banner”. They say the weekend will be warm, but as always very windy!!

Saturday and the cold is in retreat so I’ll try for a NEW max distance up the road towards Telluride. Zipped past the 9.25 marker and made the 10.10 before the turn round. Nice to see the 20 come up just as I come back by the house.

Despite the week’s problems, both personal and weather, I did put another 85 miles in the books and I’m now at 1213.90 en-route to the target of 3000.

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Buzzzzzzzz

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Buzzzzzz   Buzzzzzz

More gardening to finish the day and another $10 spent in Family Dollar buying all their bees and bugs!

 

TONY DOWN

GETTING CRANKY

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It might be the headwinds, it might be my bicycle fitter’s comments, or the article I recently read on the Internet concerning gearing but whatever the reason I’m cranky!

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So what prompted this you ask ? ……… after the fitting of my high speed racing Roubaix, Scott, the fitter, said he thought the current gearing of 53/39 might be a bit high for the Colorado mountains. This sent me off on my research mission where I found the article saying 53/39 might be great if you live in the Netherlands with flat roads and dykes but for USA a set of 50/34 is really a better choice.

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Current set-up on the Roubaix, 53/39 …….. great for Holland !

Next step is back to the cycle shop and then Ebay to search 50/34 chain rings to swop over. Not so fast cycling amateur!!! Your set comes with a BCD (technical term for hole spacing) of 130 and they don’t make a 50/34 set, only a 46/38 which is more for cyclocross rather than road riding.

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Having increased my limited cycling knowledge, yet again, I finally find a 50/34 crank set by the same makers in the 110 BCD range so I have now opted for this and a bid is on the “Bay”.

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Just won this set on E Bay

The whole assembly arrived yesterday (2 days early) and I should have it fitted next weekend, all being well, and then with only 9 days of school bus driving left I should be able venture further afield on the daily ride.

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Furthest distance from the house got extended this week out to 7.6 miles which has a certain feel good factor to it as over 15 clicks up as I come back by the house. After yesterday’s efforts I’m at 1106.93 and still have the weekend to go and no local pool today.

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TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

KITES, BANNERS AND TARGETS

Losing Ground

The manic cycling quest continues! Those that had any interest  in this endeavor will remember my goal for 2017 was 3000 miles up here at 7000′.

The 1st milestone was to hit more than 400 miles before my doctor’s visit on 28th March. 400 was the challenge to equal last year’s numbers on my first visit back in June 2016. This was done running out at 550.90 despite wind, snow, rain and ice.

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My biggest challenge is the infernal headwind!!!

Adding the Specialized Roubaix to the inventory has increased the daily riding distances from last year’s 10+ daily target and I now seem to be clicking over a solid 20 miles on each outing.

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Fast and furious!

Last week finished up at 781.83 just missing the 800 due to a bad weather day but since then, with only one rest day I was through the “800”and with some dogged determination I just made the “900” before pool playing on Saturday. Next challenge is the first “1000” kite before the end of April. I must confess these current headwinds do nothing for the enthusiasm.

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What a week this one has been! The weather spun backwards and gave us another look at winter with raging winds, pouring rain, serious big hailstones and another bout of snow. The combination of all of this forced the “manic cyclist” to take stock and take 2 weather enforced rest days.

So here I am, 28th April, 44.22 miles short of my first 1000 goal of the year …….. another dreadful day, bitter cold, rain, snow, hail,  and a biting westerly wind ! No matter another 18.65 in the book but the weather is still holding the trump cards.

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Last year’s Tour de France when they say a spectator accidentally unplugged the air compressor!

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This morning its 24F and a light sprinkling of snow. Also my son’s birthday and our local pool competition final. Two days left to crack that “1000” and only 25.57 to hit the barrier but if I do venture out this morning its looking like taking the mountain bike might be a better prospect and just knock off a few miles.

Cold at 34F but the intrepid cyclist will NOT be denied and another 13.70 comes off the required distance until the banner flies overhead.

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The end of the 1st 1000 miles is in sight!

April 30th, the target day, and despite the misery of all last week’s weather I only need a smidge under 12 miles to go under that banner. However, its bright and sunny outside but only 30F on the thermometer and the wind could gust up to 40MPH !! I’ll be looking for a sheltered spot and just go round and round until I’m dizzy.

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After 15.66 miles I had had enough of the bitter cold and crippling winds, but the objective had been achieved with the total at 1003.79 miles !

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Made it !

Time for another milestone so over to Mancos and in for the last week of qualifying for their Spring Championship. Last week at the Dolores competition my play was getting back to some of its former glory and today I sail through to the final for a satisfying 2nd place.

TONY DOWN

 

 

CARDS AND LIGHTS

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No, I’m not reflecting on Christmas again, but I must confess it has always been my favorite time of the year.

Today its the “Credit/Debit Card” and the mysteries therein! My business card for Cozy Comfort expired 11/16 and a new one never showed up so naturally the bank was contacted and another one was ordered ………. NOTHING!!!

Once more the bank are called and the sequence is repeated and after the statutory 3 weeks has gone by with zero result they are contacted AGAIN. They claim they have NO RECORD of the request but after a lot of arguing they will order another one. As we get ever closer to the middle of March it finally arrives and I duly activate it at the local bank. Small problemeeee!!! its the same account as my personal one so I now have TWO!! Once more the irate customer orders yet another card for the correct account and the infernal wait begins.

Meanwhile while Brenda is attending her father’s funeral  I look at my personal UK Lloyds account and see I have been shopping at TESCO in Solihull !!! For those not in the know TESCO is a giant supermarket store chain in the UK rather like Safeway. Of course Brenda has never shopped there and its her card these criminals have somehow got hold of ?????  3 test runs for 2 GBP at a store in Cheshunt UK, which is just outside London, and then THREE larger transactions for just under 100GBP each at stores in Redditch and Solihull which are in the Midlands close to Birmingham. The Bank closes her card, issues a new one, and refunds all the money to my account.

Brenda gets her NEW card a week after she gets back from Buffalo but I’m still looking for my new local card and decide I’d better check all the others. My UK  Credit card for MBNA now runs out 4/17 so I contact them and they tell me it was sent on 3/22/17 so be patient for a little longer………. 10 days goes by and now we are in mid April so yesterday morning I contact them AGAIN and this time they will expedite a new card for next Friday, but in the meantime they will cancel the replacement card and put the account on hold until I get the new one. Well that’s the first task complete for Friday morning  so now onto the next annoyance …. The Cadillac running lights!

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New bulb at the ready

The Driver’s side daytime running light had failed so I go and get another one and earlier in the week set about changing it. To do this on the Cadi requires taking nearly the entire front off to get behind the oversize headlights. Rods, clips, nuts and bolts, and the headlight is free but the bulb has not failed but the plastic holder is decidedly burnt and cracked. Put it all back and get the correct holder, which must be “gold plated” as is costs $39.00 for a bit of plastic!

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The monster light unit is free!

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Crispy crittered!

1130, tools at the ready, the Cadi is opened up once more and some minor surgery is completed before buttoning everything up and it is duly tested and works. Second job of Friday morning complete!

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The gold plated plastic holder goes in

A few more minor jobs finished off and now my “dance card” is fairly free. No ride today but never mind its horribly windy.

The post arrives……….. Yes, you guessed it the bloody replacement card from the UK has turned up …….. and to add insult to injury so has the local card.

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Yes, here it is, but no worry WE have cancelled it already!!!!!

Quick phone call to the UK but TOO LATE the die is cast and it can’t be reversed!!

TONY DOWN

THE FITTING

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First fitting

Many of you will remember when there was ONLY ONE, James Bond, and I’m talking Sean Connery of course. Well during those countless early Bond movies you would often see him at his Saville Row tailor’s being fitted for his new suit or DJ. Indeed during my 30 years in the Royal Air Force I can remember my own multiple fittings for uniforms and formal attire with Moss Bros our military tailor.

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Some 50 years later here I am having a “fitting” for my new bicycle. A lot of science goes into this and I’ll settle for the simple rather than plunge into any wind tunnel requirements.

Saturday morning and with all the required cycling bits I’m at Kokkopeli’s in Cortez and ready to see what needs to be changed. The pristine Roubaix is strapped into the frame and its time to start pedaling.

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Phase 1 seat height and fore & aft

Scott, the fitter, tells me I am a “toe pedal” and runs round taking various pictures. With his danglemonitor I’m measured for angles and with more pictures the first adjustments are made. The seat comes up a couple of inches and the seat moves forward an inch or so and now my numbers fit within the prescribed angles.

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It feels a bit different so now the stem needs to be changed for a shorter one and come up from 7 degrees to 16.

Phase 2  Stem & Bars

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Shorter stem and a bit more rise

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Scott, my tailor of the day, says we are about right and shows me the “before and after” pics. I have now decided I need these “shorty” levers as in the event of an emergency I might not get my hand on the main lever in time.

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Very impressed with these little fellas, easy to use and great for my confidence. They fit into the main cables so it becomes an either/or operation.

Back home and time to fit the other speedo as I couldn’t easily read the numbers on the other one!

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That’s better!

A very successful morning and now back in time for pool which goes very well after almost 2 months dithering about in the doldrums and even suffering TWO First Outs! Today I played well, enjoyed it, and finished in 2nd place.

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Fitting complete!

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2nd place today

TONY DOWN