One final elementary school bike-to-school day for my daughter, and a first for my son.

I kinda want to make a bike check video with everything I’ve done to my Space Horse, but I don’t want to be a whole bike YouTuber guy. I worry too much about what other people think, but I should probably just do it.

I’ve got electric guitar, I play my stupid songs I write these stupid words, and I love every one Waiting there for me, yes I do, I do

Full Retro Alt-Cycling Affectation Man

Last year I swapped out the cheap, stock hydraulic disc brakes on my All-City Space Horse for some mechanical Growtac Equal calipers. I just didn’t ever want to have to bleed brakes on a dang bicycle, and I have found periodic pad adjustments to be straightforward and not too much of a pain (at least for my brakes).

This weekend I did something I’m sure contemporary cyclists would find even more ridiculous: I swapped out the Microshift Advent X shifter for a Dia-compe friction shifter. I know, I know, it’s all the rage with retro-grouches and cool alt-cycling folks. And I’m not immune to what looks cool in the publications I read and bits of culture I consume. But I gotta say, it took almost no time at all to get used to friction shifting. I don’t race, and I don’t depend on instant, precise shifting, but I do want to comfortably and easily shift up and down as terrain and riding conditions change. I had no trouble adjusting to climbing hills or speeding up on the flats, and never had to think about tuning my derailleur or shifter barrel adjusters to tune my shifting performance.

Additionally, while I’ve been pretty happy with my 10-speed Advent X cassette and Microshift Sword derailleur, I now have the flexibility to experiment with any derailleur and cassette combination that I want. This shifter can pull a shifter through a wide-range 11-speed cassette (the Advent X is a 10-speed that runs 11-48), so if I wanted to try out a big ol' 11-speed Deore when the current cassette wears out, I can go for it. Ultimately, though, I’m just happier with the simplicity, and the fact that it’s still also simple/enjoyable to use.

Davvero Gelato

My family was heading to Lakeside for an errand on Sunday that was expected to include a visit from the Kona Ice truck. The kids were looking forward to it, but it never showed—likely because of the on-and-off rain in the Richmond area throughout the day. On the way to our errand, however, we noticed a sign for a new gelateria in The Hub shopping center at Hilliard and Lakeside Ave. We decided to check it out, and found ourselves at Davvero Gelato. They were technically operating a pop-up out of their front door since they’re not yet open for business, but they do expect to open up shop in the near future.

SWEET FANCY MOSES this is delicious stuff. I wouldn’t say I’m an aficionado or anything, certainly no expert, but I’ve had my fair share of tasty Italian ice cream both here in The States and in various Italian cities. I know what I like in flavor and texture, and Davvero has it absolutely dialed in. I had my go-to pistachio, and I think it may be some of the best I’ve ever had? The gelato had just the right amount of salt to put it over the top. Glad I didn’t gorge on even more of it!

I tasted all the other available flavors except my daughter’s mango (I’m one of those folks who thinks it tastes like cleaning solution, unfortunately), and they were fantastic. My son’s cookie dough and my wife’s strawberry—another absolute standout. And then we found out everything they produce is vegan - not a drop of dairy milk! I’m not vegan, but I don’t need to be to enjoy food that is simply delicious. And I’m finding, increasingly, that there are vegan and dairy-free ice creams out there that are at least as good as many dairy counterparts (including the frozen magic happening with some of the vegan flavors at Ruby Scoops).

Anyway, great stuff. I’m told by Layne (the owner) that the best way to find her for now is by checking out the biz on Instagram. She’s frequently at Libbie Hill Park, among other locations, and sells her products (including nut butters and gianduia) in various local shops, such as Stella’s Markets and Outpost.

There’s some guy out here in Richmond, Virginia who drives a matte black Cybertruck like he’s flying a sortie in the stealth fighter.

Lehja still slaps.

Dayum.

Happy to see some fresh repaving on the bit of Cap Trail just west of Great Shiplock Park!

End Around

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I have wanted the SimWorks Fun 3 Bar for like 6 months, but it’s been sold out on the US website for ages. On a lark, I decided to check whether the main Japanese website would ship to the US. Turns out they do! The shipping is kinda hefty (I mean, it is international FedEx for an oddly shaped object), but the price was lower enough that I still came out a dollar cheaper than the pre-shipping cost in the US store!

I think most of the time I’d probably go straight through the US store, but I feel like I got away with something here. I’m just glad to have the new bar, though!

Side note: I got this particular bar to replace the cool-as-hell-but-super-heavy-and-super-stiff Klunker Bar from Velo Orange. I’m hoping the shallower grip angle and slightly less stiff bar helps keep some of the soreness out of my wrists and hands on longer rides. I’ll add the VO bar to my parts store for some future build.

Here, I made you a thing. #bluey

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A dingle is a small, wooded valley. So one could, theoretically, pick and eat some dingle berries without risking gastrointestinal distress.

Quiet Seething

I count myself lucky to have, until today, remained ignorant about the meaning of “quiet quitting”. Curiosity got the better of me so I looked into it, and most places I see discussing this “trend” or whatever seem to describe it as what I like to call “work/life balance”. How is it that rejecting the idea of working beyond 40 hours is some special new concept?

Chuck this on the pile of what is surely far more social media posts and articles about the quiet quitting that came out when people started using this stupid phrase.

I’m beginning to think that if we talked about all the things people say we don’t talk enough about we would all lose our voices from so much talking.

Final Bits on the Eclipse Trip

my wife looks through eclipse binoculars at the moon transiting across the sun

It took two grueling days to return home from Texas. The day of the solar eclipse was a bit all over the place. To start, cloud cover forecasts for most of Texas were horrible. From the moment we left our final visit to Crude Coffee in Fort Worth, Valerie was checking cloud forecasts from multiple weather data sources for various cities along the path of totality. Ultimately, we had nearly 3 minutes of totality at the Arkansas Welcome Center over the border from Texarkana. It was terrific. It was as amazing as I remembered, and my family loved it. Everybody agreed it was with the trip.

After that everything seemed fine - the rest of the ride through Arkansas was going smoothly enough until we approached West Memphis. I should have been prepared for this—I’ve been stuck in post-eclipse traffic before—but I was still caught off guard because of the bit I didn’t consider. The Mighty Mississippi. There are only so many crossings of this great river, and just two at that heading into Memphis, Tennessee. Both of them were absolutely jammed with traffic, and it took us nearly 3.5 hours to travel our last 30 miles. Our hotel was this neat, quirky glass tower in the suburbs (grand views of office buildings and parking lots from our 22nd floor room) that I called the “Disco Can”, but we really just stayed there for a short night’s sleep.

The next day, April 9th, was simply a long day in the car riding from Memphis back to Richmond. We made decent time, but had so many miles to ride. We stopped at our first ever Buc-ees which was, to be honest, a horror show for me. But the kids liked it.

a bronze statue of a stupid beaver mascot with a black reading Sevierville, TN

With the time change on the way back, however, it felt like forever by the time we stepped out of the car back at our house. Everybody slept in late the next day (the kids had a day off from school anyway, and Valerie and I had scheduled days off), and by the time I was awake I was distracted by getting back on my bike and transitioning from vacation mode to work mode. So here we are, about a week later, well after everyone finished talking about the eclipse.

It was a good time, though! If I did it all again I may have flown and rented a car. This was a bit much for me in the time we had, and it would likely have been worth the money to have those extra two days of fun out of town instead of in my car on interstate highways. But we all had a nice vacation anyway.

It’s not like I ever really went to Blanchard’s for the pastries (I love the coffee, but the pastries were mostly fine).

But since they’ve been forced to replace their long-term baker a few months ago, I think the pastries are kinda dire.

Really gorgeous day to be outside. 18.5 bike miles this morning, tooling around King’s Dominion the past few hours, and probably going for another ride after the kids are in bed.

The Thai Basil ice cream (which is vegan!) at Ruby Scoops is sooooooo good.

Is there an official name for what looks like a shared use, paved path going in along Stony Run Parkway in the East End?

It felt so dang good to get out on my bike today now that I’m back in Richmond.

Aaaaaand of course it’s gonna rain tomorrow 🙃

I’m home! Thank goodness!

Lort help me, I’m at a Buc-ee’s for the first time (the kids demanded it).

Anyway, past Knoxville, getting closer to Virginia.

Time to spend all day driving across Tennessee and Virginia the long way…

Finally made it to our hotel in the East Memphis suburbs right before 10 PM, and I am FRIED.

We have been trying to get across the Mississippi River for like 2 hours and are still stuck in West Memphis 😖

Last Full Day in Texas

blue macaw in an aviary at the Fort Worth Zoo

Look, zoos are complicated. They are not simply entertainment, and plenty of them have a history of negligence and needless captivity. But many care for animals which are injured in such a way as they could not survive on their own in the wild. Rationalizing? No, but it’s not always as black and white as “zoos are bad”. So anyway, we spent almost 4 hours in gorgeous weather at the Fort Worth Zoo. It was spectacular. I’m not made of stone. Most of my photos were (more than usually) pedestrian, but I did like a pic I liked of the macaw at the top of this post. The kids had a blast and never complained about how much walking we did. If you’re on the east coast, I’d say the scale is comparable to the DC Zoo.

Today was our last whole day in The Lone Star State, and after another lazy coffee hour at Crude, we finally put ourselves near the head of the line at Panther City BBQ. Ho-leeeeee crow, this was some serious smoked meat. I feel like this is what people mean when they talk about the quality of Texas barbecue. The whole family loved it, and agree the standouts were (of course) the brisket and the pork ribs. I was also in love with the pork belly burnt ends which tasted like meat candy. We walked all of that off during our time at the zoo, starting slowly as we recovered from our gluttony.

Dinner tonight was okay, but one more stop in the Near Southside was a nice way to wrap up our time in Fort Worth. The Bearded Lady has okay food, but a great beer selection, and enough atmosphere for almost anyone. Their patio (likely a former parking lot) was capacious and felt a lot like a nice beer garden, while the interior was comfortable with plenty of light. One final stop at Melt for ice cream (it is vacation, after all) and we’re all back at the hotel.

Tomorrow’s eclipse forecast here in East Texas still looks really cloudy, but we’re not giving up yet. We’ll leave the hotel early enough to get out to Clarksville, TX, hopefully by lunch time, and we’ll wait as long as it makes sense to see whether the cloud cover is improved before moving on.

Fingers crossed!

Something Something Culture

an old car impaled on a pole with a sign for S&S Wheel Alignment & Brake Service

Part of what tempers my feelings about all the driving on this trip is the chill, perambulating pace of our days. No pressure to be any particular place at any particular time, no packed itinerary of things to do. We head out for coffee, we visit a museum, we linger, we have a siesta back at the hotel. Not too bad. It makes for less tension, especially when I miss an exit on the highway.

This morning we encountered what I think is called the Near Southside neighborhood (unless that’s just its gentrifying realtor name?) when we visited Crude Coffee, and returned to this part of town several times throughout the day because it rules. The coffee shop itself was cozy, gorgeous, and served excellent drinks from a variety of roasters. Great pastries, too. While enjoying our caffeine we decided, due to the high winds, to check out some museums.

One of the true highlights of the day was the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Inventive exhibition spaces showed off a wealth of artifacts and information, and my favorite by far was about the escaramuza charra, or Mexican traditional side-saddle riders. These women, in Mexico and the US, perform incredibly skilled riding while wearing intricately detailed (and heavy) dresses. The craft on display in both the attire and riding were a sight to behold.

dresses, saddles, and hats from the escaramuza charra exhibit at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

Within this section of the museum, however, was essentially a sub-exhibit of Constance Jaeggi’s Escaramuza, the Poetics of Home. Large and beautiful prints of Jaeggi’s photographs shared space on the walls with poetry by Angelina Sáenz and Ire’ne Lara Silva, providing contemporary context for this traditional practice. Astonishing work, seriously.

Oh yeah, and because it was next door and we have young kids, we killed some time at an underwhelming science museum. At least they had a few dinosaur skeletons :-P

allosaurus skeleton at the Fort Worth science museum

We returned to the Near Southside for a killer lunch (and some decent beers) at Funky Picnic Brewery before crossing the street for even more coffee at Roots Coffeehouse. Another charming cafe, some decent coffee, and time to make a decision to visit the Botanical Gardens.

Except we hadn’t accounted for a flower show that had the whole place absolutely saturated with visitors. We bailed out, called an audible, and headed for the Kimbell Art Museum so Valerie (and all of us, really) could check out the buildings designed by Louis Kahn and Renzo Piano. Turns out the permanent exhibits in each building are free to the public! The kids—particularly the 10-year-old—didn’t have the patience for a stroll through the halls, but we did happen upon two works by Mondrian immediately inside the first gallery! Sweet!

On our way around the buildings I noticed a large steel structure across the street beside the Modern Art Museum. Turns out it was, as I suspected, a work by the late (recently, as of this posting) Richard Serra: his 2002 work “Vortex”.

twisted steel plates tower overhead, part of Richard Serra's sculputre

We were all able to walk within the multi-story sculpture and the kids loved playing with the acoustics. We returned to the hotel for a short break while I researched dinner. Guess what? We returned to Near Southside for some amazing tacos at Buena Vida. The tortillas, the fillings, garnishes, salsas, everything. I ate my son’s abandoned rice just so I could use it as a salsa delivery vehicle. Follow it up with some decent ice cream at Morgan’s and that’s another day for you. And a pretty great one at that.