2021 Riding Events

This year, the events started to return to a semblance of normalcy.  Not completely back to normal, but at least moving in that direction.

I only rode two events this year, a repeat of a previous event and also a new event for me.

The first one was the new event for me, the Big Dam Bridge Century in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I rode with my good friend Bob, and his friend Diane.  It is the largest event I’ve ridden, and was very well organized.  Well, the event was well organized – me, on the other hand, not so much.  I left my handlebar bag in the back of Bob’s car and didn’t go back to get it – a decision I would come to regret.

I got a flat 4 1/2 miles from the finish, but with no tools, no spare tube, and no way to inflate it anyway, my riding day was done.  Completely my fault, and as it turned out I would have had time to go back and get it.  By just retrieving the bag I may have prevented the flat in the first place.  Finagles Law was out in force.  Like carrying an umbrella can prevent rain, having everything you need to repair a flat can sometimes prevent the flat.  Live and learn I reckon…

Still, it was a great ride and a lot of fun.  Some good climbs and descents, and lots of people out on bikes.  What’s not to like?

The second event was the Hilly Hundred in Ellettsville, Indiana near Bloomington.  I rode this event in 2019, in the all-day deluge on Saturday, and the much, much better weather on Sunday.  This year, I rode with friends from the Columbus area and it was a good time.  We had good riding weather both days this year.  This might be my favorite ride that I’ve done, as you might guess since I’ve done it more than once.

Saturday’s ride was a cool start but the hills warmed you up pretty quickly.  This seemed like an easier day than I was expecting, but I have been doing a lot of hill work so maybe that helped.  Sunday, on the other hand, was a hard day on the bike.  The hills were harder on this route, and just when you think you might make it back, you turn onto Mt Tabor road and you know what’s coming – the climb up Mt Tabor.  It’s a bugger of a climb, and you don’t have a lot left in the tank after that one.  Then you descend into Stinesville and the last rest stop, and you think you’re going to finish just fine.  But no, you have to climb out of Stinesville and those aren’t easy climbs after the miles you’ve already done.  But you persevere because that’s the way you roll, and you finish.  A great feeling of accomplishment.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re first or last or somewhere in between, it matters that you challenged yourself.  I’ll be back in 2022.

I’m hoping that more events come back on the calendar in 2022.  Good luck to all that rode these events and I hope to see more folks out riding next year.

Lugged carbon

I’ve been looking for a lugged carbon frameset in my size, or more specifically a Look 585.  But it seems that once these bikes are sold, they never reappear.  If the bike is actually that good, then I’m on the right track, even if my search has so far been unsuccessful.

So I decided to take yet another look on ebay for a Look 585.  You can undoubtedly see why this search might prove challenging – LOOKing for a LOOK 585.  Not exactly a phrase that’s all that unique.  Still, I did find one, but it was sized as a medium frame.  I messaged the seller and asked for confirmation of the seat tube length.  While I was waiting for a reply I checked several other places where high-end used bikes were sold, with no luck.  Then I visited a bicycle web forum where I’ve been a member for several years.

And I saw a Parlee Z3 for sale.  Parlee is one of the few companies manufacturing lugged carbon bicycle frames, and their bikes are very well thought of.  I messaged the seller, and we discussed the bike.  He sent links to additional images and I looked them over very carefully.  The bike looks great.  It has Shimano Dura Ace 11 speed electronic shifting, Knight carbon wheels with DT Swiss 240 hubs, and a Chris King headset – all top of the line components.

Never hearing back from the ebay seller, I decided to buy the Parlee.  We agreed on a price, and both of us preferring to avoid fees on the funds transfer, I sent him a check – a stamp is significantly less than the fees.  We agreed that he would give it a few days to be sure the check had cleared my bank, and then he shipped the bike.

Waiting for it to arrive from the west coast was a bit worrisome, perhaps anticipation would be a better word choice.

It got here in fine shape, no damage that I could see.  A great starting point.

Trailer updates

If you’ve been following along, you know that I purchased a tractor with a loader and a bush hog, and a 20 foot flatbed trailer.  After doing some reading, I found that my trailer needs some equipment to meet the federal requirements.  And to pull the trailer with my truck, it needs some additional equipment as well.

For the truck, I need to add a brake controller.  I’ve never had a trailer with brakes before, so I didn’t need this until now.  To connect the trailer and activate the brakes, I also need a 7 pin connector.  Right now, I only have a 4-pin connector that handles trailer lighting only.

I decided to replace/upgrade the trailer lighting by replacing the existing two clearance lights with LED versions, and while I’m at it I’m also adding two additional clearance lights on each side.  Now there will be a total of six clearance lights on the trailer – two at the front corners, two in front of the fenders, and two behind the fenders.  Also, the running, turn, and stop lights at the back will be switched out for LED versions.

Surprise #1 – because my trailer is more than 80 inches in width, I need 3 red lights in the middle at the back of the trailer.  Because the ramps hook into the channel at the back of the trailer, I’m not yet sure where I can place them.  Under the channel won’t work very well, because the trailer is fairly close to the ground and if it bottomed out on the ground, those lights would be history.  I’ll see what I can come up with for them.

Surprise #2 – it is required that trailers with electric brakes have a breakaway system, that applies the brakes if there is a catastrophic disconnect from the towing vehicle.  Basically it is a small battery that connects into the brake wiring, with a switch that is held in the off position by a pin.  The pin is connected to the towing vehicle by a cable and if the trailer disconnects, the pin will be pulled (turning the switch on) and the battery will energize the brakes and stop the trailer.

The breakaway regulation went into effect in 2005 and my trailer was made in 2017, but it didn’t have the breakaway system installed.  And my trailer didn’t grow in width because of excessive calories in it’s diet, so I don’t know why the required center lights weren’t installed.  I’m not sure how that is possible.  It’s like selling a car without the required brake lights.

But I’ll get all of this in place so the trailer is legal and safe.  If a friend hadn’t mentioned the breakaway requirement I would never have known.  I was searching for lighting requirements, not for braking system requirements.

Folks, make sure your trailers are safe and legal.  Don’t wait until there’s an accident and find out that you don’t have the required equipment on your trailer.  That could turn out to be an expensive lesson.

Hitching up

I bought a 3-point quick hitch.  The one I bought is a Speeco product, made for cat 1 tractors and doesn’t need bushings on the pins to make them fit the hitch.  It went on in about 5 minutes, easy-peasy.  It’s kind of awkward to do by yourself, but if you do one draft link at a time it’s not too bad.

One of the downsides with a quick hitch is that older implements won’t always fit without some modifications.  In my case, the implements I have are fairly new and are all quick hitch compatible so I should be good to go.

Also, if you have a posthole auger, it won’t work with the quick hitch since the top link is removed when you hitch up the auger.

After checking everything over, I tried hitching up the implements I have – a King Kutter box blade and a Land Pride RCR1260 bush hog.  The box blade hitched up the first time, zero issues.  The bush hog was another story.  To get it to hitch up, the top hook needed to be angled further away from the tractor, once I figured that out it hitched up just fine.  Connecting the PTO shaft is a little less convenient, but still doable without too much cursing.  One good thing is that the same vertical position of the top hook works for the bush hog and the box blade, so no need to move the top hook when switching implements.  I did remove the slow vehicle reflector, because it made reaching the lock handles harder than it needs to be.

It would be nice to find some pins to use in place of the bolts for the top hook.  That way you could make adjustments to the height of the hook without tools.  I think a 1/2″ pin would work.  I may pick up a couple of pins for trailer hitches and see if they will fit.

So far, I like the quick hitch better than the Pats Easy Change links.  I’ll need more time with it and more hitching/unhitching to make a final determination.