Monthly Archives: September 2020

Exploring on two wheels

I’ve been thinking about my journey these past 12 years since moving to Madison County. The first 4 years focused on the homestead project, building the cabin and the gardens. Then several years focused on astronomy, looking through an eyepiece up into the night sky and thinking constantly about the universe, trying to develop a better understanding of the cosmos and my short time in it. And that brings us to now. I’ve spent the past 8 months having mini-adventures, daily explorations on two wheels around the local countryside. From trails to paved roads to gravel roads, I’ve been riding through farmland and forests and everything between.

A common thread throughout the past 12 years here seems to be a mix of adventure, exploration and a seeking to understand the world I exist in. In the first few years I was focused on my immediate surroundings as I created a home, gardens, and generally sought to fit into this landscape. The adventure was extremely local. Most of my time was spent within 1/4 mile of my cabin and thinking about the life within this 1/4 mile radius. Most of my days were spent doing garden work or something related to creating or building the homestead. My free time was often spent walking and observing.

Then I began a transition to spending more time looking through the eyepiece of the telescope. Looking into the cosmos and finding the beauty there. To some smaller degree I kept up the garden but my mind and my thoughts were oriented outward. In the day I read and pondered what I was seeing at night as I looked at galaxies, nebulae, planets, and star clusters. I would stay out 5 to 8 hours every night that was clear of clouds. I can’t explain what led me to that pursuit. But I think it’s interesting that my thinking, attention, time and effort shifted from what was immediately in front of me, plain and simple, to distant astronomical worlds and objects, and thinking about the complexities of cosmology, physics and related sciences. Not that I understood everything I read but I made the effort to dive deep (or what seems deep to me).

Likewise, I’m now spending hours every day peddling a bike around the back country roads of Madison and neighboring counties. I’m not quite sure how this happened. I bought an electric bike and rode it to town the first day I had it. Then I rode it to town the next day and the next. A few weeks later I started looking at the map and rode further into the county and the next county over. By February and March I was taking two and three hour rides just to get out and breath the air and to see what was going on in the woods that these roads were built through. Over the summer I retreated to our own woods as I built trails through them for cycling and walking. And now, again, I’m back exploring further out on 40 and 50 mile rides.

I’m not sure what to make of it really other than to say it feels good. Part of my motivation is personal health. For most of the past 12 years I’ve made it a point to get out for daily walks. At the end of 2019 my walking time increased dramatically, almost double my usual. I’m not sure why but perhaps the cycling was my mind searching to go further afield. I don’t think it was a conscious thing but it’s what happened.

Like most kids I had a bike and rode it a good bit. As an adult concerned about climate change the bike was my main transport during my college years and after. From grocery trips to laundry to work to random errands, I cycled most of the time. And then I had a knee injury in 2000 and my cycling became painful, uncomfortable. Now that I’ve discovered that I can cycle again I feel like I’m making up for lost time on the bike. 20 years away from my two wheeled friends! I have to remind myself to be careful, to not ride too much or too hard. I’d like to think that if I’m careful I’ll be able to ride for a good long while. We’ll see but for now I’ll just accept it and remain in gratitude that I’ve returned to peddling forward with two wheels beneath me.

Poseidon X Review Follow-up

As of 8/29 I’m exactly one month in with the Poseidon X adventure/gravel bike and what a month it’s been! I’ve ridden just a bit over 1,000 miles and I’m really very happy with the bike. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be: a fairly efficient road bike when I’m on pavement (about 50% of the time) that is capable of going off onto fairly rough gravel or even just dirt forest roads.

9/8, another 300 miles and a couple things to add to the review based on 1,300 miles. I’ve had the chain drop off the front chainring maybe 8 times in the 40 days I’ve been riding. I’d mentioned this in the first review and after reading, it seems this is fairly normal for 1x drivetrains. Obviously not ideal but not too terrible.

I’ve got 650b wheels coming and when the WTB Nano tread is done I’ll switch over to the new wheels. At the current rate of riding and tire wear, I’d guess I’ve got another two to three weeks of tread left. Which makes me wonder, is 2 to 3,000 miles about the norm for bike tire tread lifespan? The reason for the switch to 27.5” wheels? First, hopefully a softer ride provided by the wider, larger volume tires. The 700s are a bit harsh which I expected but a softer ride would be nice. Along with the wider tires and more volume I’m hoping that when riding on wet gravel they’ll sink in a bit less. And, last, the bike will sit a wee bit lower to the ground and there will be a bit more room between the front wheel and the pedals and frame. The bike provides clearance for tires up to 1.9” (48mm) and that’s what I’ve ordered.

The On-One Geoff bars have been great, exactly what I’d hoped for: lots of positions for moving around. And yes, that’s a bubble-padded shipping envelope serving as a temporary bag attached to the handlebars. I’m using it for carrying snacks with the original intent of experimenting with making something better or purchasing one. I wanted to see how that configuration and location worked before committing to anything. I ended up ordering a bag and I’ll likely post about it when I’ve got it on the bike.

The Spoon saddle is a keeper I think. I struggled for a few days as it’s a bit harder than the WTB saddle I was used to riding on the fat-bike, but I think it’s going to work out. Saddles are tricky and I’ll consider myself lucky if the first saddle I tried works out. Riding 50 miles really requires the right saddle. I’ll have more to say as I bump up to 60, 70 and 80 miles.

A last thought. I’m realizing that what I really want out of a bike is the ability to take long rides. I don’t need or want to go fast. I just want to be able to go long. I’m not in a position to go on multi-day camping trips but my tiny house is ideally located to be able to go out on day rides that can range from 40 to 80 miles or more depending on my schedule. A 50 mile ride typically takes me 5 hours. An 80 mile ride would likely take 8 or more. As I use and customize the Poseidon X it will be from the perspective of that goal. Casual, long adventure rides. So far it seems to me that this bike (and my fit to it) is fully capable of delivering that. I might have more adjustments to make but it’s riding pretty well thus far. After I get switched over to the new wheels and tires I’m going to consider a stem that will get me slightly more upright. Still thinking on that one.

If you’re primarily interested in trail riding I’d suggest a fat-bike. But for anyone looking for a bike to take out on road and gravel bike adventures the Poseidon X is a bargain at $600.