Sunday, April 22

The Road Less Ridden

Not A Car to be Seen
  Rainy, chilly, and windy. Perfect conditions for a ride at the tailwnd of the weekend. I love to ride in less than perfect conditions, as it requires more attention to keep up an average speed and focus. Today was no exception as I had to contend with wet metal grating (super slippery, at any approach angle other than perdendicular) and a turkey ambush (more on that later). But I did have the All American Fuel, Slim Jims, to keep me going.

  After riding among open fields, the road leads through a few forests, as in the picture above.  When I ride this in the pre-dawn hours and my light illuminates a small cone of asphalt, I get this Ichabod Crane-esque vibe. After I emerged from this hollow, I was getting ready to go into a left hand turn when something caught my eye in the ditch to my left 15 feet away.

  My mind registered pheasant as it got on the road to get traction for a good takeoff. Logic soon shot down that id possibility as I saw it clearly take off and accelerate to the trees. It was a turkey hen and I was again pleased at how well you can come up on creatures silently on a bike. Hard to swing on it with no hands on my bike, so will have to work on my gun mount. Earlier posts suggest my bike as more than just exercise and transportation, but a scabbard will need to be fashioned.

Pedaling into a stiff headwind and being pelted with rain, I thought of how awesome it was to be out and feeling much more a part of my surroundings, more connected with the land I rode through. The high pitched call of an osprey redirected my attention as he flew over me and banking I could see his talons gripped a large field mouse. The cycle of nature continues with or without me, but I prefer to be an observer to its wonder.

Monday, April 9

Back in the Saddle…Again!

   Eyeing the partially deflated front tire, I paused and pumped it back up to a respectable 95 psi. Two weeks prior, I gave the Ironhorse a tune-up and rotated the tires, so I thought it must have been a cold weather event. This was my first ride of the year, as work and pre daylight savings time has hampered my time on my bike. Excuses…excuses.

   The bike started feeling “squishy” around mile three and then I was riding the wheel rim. Peeling onto the shoulder, I was getting ready to patch and pump, when I noticed the leak. At the base of the valve stem, the rubber had torn. Very hard to patch and not having an extra tube, I called the pace team. As they soon pulled up in my Tacoma, I tossed it in the bed and went home. My spirit was not deflated and I went on to yard chores.

Resting Ironhorse

   Only after the requisite Easter Egg dying with visiting nieces and nephew, did I get back to the bike and put a new tube in, rechecking to make sure there were no punctures through the tire. Riding out, it felt solid after mile five. I was under a time constraint so did a 14 mile “out and back”, which was a good first spin.

   On the Eastern Shore, it is beyond flat. You could stand on a beer can and see the Western Shore of the Bay. The roads are in good shape and the motorists are comfortable with bikes on the road, which makes you more at ease since every other vehicle is a large SUV or a pickup. The roads radiate from the county seat of Easton (#40 on 2011 Outdoor Life’s Top Small Towns for Sportsmen) towards the towns of Oxford and Saint Michaels. This provides variety of scenery but you can also plan your ride based on wind conditions (id est, do I want it easy on the way out and headwinds coming home, or vice versa)

   There are a number of excellent routes that are close by and on the weekend, the roads begin to fill up with weekenders from DC going to their houses and cyclists here for the scenery (and post ride, the local brewery)

Riding up to the garage to put my bike away, I ask myself, “Self, would you have rather shot skeet or go out on a ride?”

“Tough call”, I answered, “as either is an extension of myself and are thus a part of who I am”

I go back to my first love and, even after my initial setback, I answer my question a la Steven Tyler.

I'm Back in the Saddle Again, I'm Back…..

Monday, April 2

Shoot the Old One!

A Workhorse
   No, this is not a post on getting rid of old automobiles.  That is easy...Use one cup of Domino's sugar for every gallon of gas; shake well and make sure you have on comfortable shoes for the long walk.

   The Wildfowl Ninja and I were on the skeet field yesterday and he had just finished on Station 7. After a few shots with his great little 20 gauge Weatherby SA-20, I decided on a round of skeet and, more focused, I was crushing birds. I always take my "everything" gun. It is the one I use for everything and is a Benelli Super Black Eagle II in left hand with a 28" barrel.

   He suggested I shoot a round of "Pieces" next, whereby I shoot two shells for each bird and with the second shot pepper the large pieces of the broken bird. However, in my case, I am generally using the second shell to do the breaking. Reaching for my Benelli, I hear, "but shoot the Old One!" I smiled.
Lock N' Load.
A Proven Design

   The Old One is a Savage 720 with a 26" barrel that I found in a house that we lived in near DC. Rambling around in the walk up attic, I saw blued barrel steel poking up from the insulation and uncovered this A-5 Humpback design copy. It was rusty and pitted, but I cleaned it up. It was the hunting piece of an old submariner skipper who became an Admiral. He had passed away and his daughter was left to sell the house.

One of the Great American Firearms Manufacturers

   Even with a short stock and barrel, this thing was a solid piece of steel and when the action cycled the first round, it was like an old anti-aircraft gun, "Kah-Chunk!"  It was fun shooting it and I did better with the 720 in hitting secondary pieces than with my SBE II, which was kinda cool. I guess it is not the arrow.