Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Dark Underbelly of the Bike Biz

Monday, August 18, 2008

Coming Attractions

Not that I'm going out to the left coast for this, but good luck to all my friends, acquaintances and heck, folks I don't even know at the Single Speed World Championships, held in Napa, California this coming weekend. Stay out of the poison oak.

Closer to home, August 31 will be the Ride Lugged August Scramble, a 40+ mile jaunt through the mountains west of Frederick. Shaping up to be good fun, and something I can actually attend. Come on out yourselves.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pump Track Tuesday

No photos, but Damien became the second to pump the whole circuit last night. He also ate it big on the lower berm when his front tire burped. Nothing some air and beer or two couldn't cure.

I got as far as I've ever gotten, but still have 5 or 6 rollers to get past before I do a whole lap. We dug and shaped another roller to get the flow a little more smooth.

I am sore today.

Progress. Next time in two weeks.

Now I'm finally caught up in blog posts. For a short time.

Brunswick again.

Sunday I once more went to Brunswick. This time I knew what to expect and brought along some friends. Friends in the form of 24 gears to choose among while riding the crazy hills in town.

Once again I parked at the high school. The weather was going from cloudy to sunny, with even light drizzle all through the ride. This time I went over and down Maple Avenue, catching all the little spur streets off of it. All those little streets don't go through because they drop into steep little ravines. Mmmmmmm, gears so good.

Once at the bottom I crossed over the Potomac River to Virginia and then back and down to the C&O Canal Towpath. Next was a stiff climb up catching pieces of 6th through 8th Avenues, and spurs off of them. Then right back down on 2nd Avenue and it's associated stubs of side streets. One more climb back up Petersville Road, which has a nice gentle grade and good shoulders and I was off the the deli for my reward.


Since I had new found Ice cream energy, I hit one more modern development. As I was there, it turned into a race between me and the clouds, for the sky was now getting serious about rain. I finished up and was back to the car as the first drops fell


Coming out of my building Friday afternoon I ran into my department director. He was also riding that day. We talked a bit and it was good to see that he's been trying to ride in more often. That makes three of us who ride regularly. Now he just needs to work on getting us good bike parking and showers :^)

I also managed to cross off another road in my Fixing Frederick project. I've left a couple of roads on my alternate options unridden so far, and am slowly winding them up.

S24O - Gettysburg

After a good time in Ohio and an uneventful drive home to Maryland, I arrived with just a couple of days left in my vacation. One of those was spent entirely in house and yard tasks, but on the weekend I found the time for an S24O to Gettysburg with some friends.

Jon, Jason and Jay all started from Ellicott City, and after a bit of phone tag I joined them in Union Bridge.

We rolled the lovely rolling hills of central Maryland on our way to Emmittsburg, where we met the rest of our group.


Becky, Julie, Joe, Donna and Steve all came up from Frederick. We all met at Chubby's BBQ right off of Rt 15 and had a late lunch. I think my body is used to this as a signal that the riding is done, and after we got back on the road, I was very stiff and sluggish.

It didn't help to watch ourselves heading to where the clouds were darkest ahead. We stopped for a quick break at an interesting natural dam just over the Pennsylvania line, and then the heavens opened up.

The rain, not so bad, but I just don't like being out in the lightening . Scary. then it started to hail. Nice nickel sized pieces. I'd stopped to throw on a rain jacket and started again, to find my companions' bikes abandoned under a tree and them in a nearby barn. This seemed like a good idea, so I followed suit. We passed around a flask and waited for a lull. Soon we got a break and as soon as we we rolling we hit another band of heavy rain and lightening.

This time though we also found a better barn, one which we could ride into. Nice.

When this band had also passed we rode on the a gentle drizzle. Not so bad. I was really ready to get to the camp site though.

Our route took us though the Gettysburg National Battlefield and over little round top. The climbing certainly took a toll on my legs, and my normally sunny disposition was beginning to waver.

We rolled off the battlefield and to the campground. The rain has stopped completely for a while and set up went great. I couldn't decide if I should change into dry clothing then, or wait until we got the the evening's restaurant. I changed at the campground and so naturally it rained again on the way to the Appalachian Brewing Company. I was certainly grumpy then, but a beer and an order of fish and chips set me right pretty quickly. We closed the bar that night (not saying much, it closed at 11PM) and 9 slightly tipsy riders rolled back through G'burg to the campground. The lights and blinky parade was lovely from my natural position at the back of the pack. Once back at camp most of us turned in pretty soon.

Morning was there before I knew it, and I broke down my camp to let thigs dry on some nearby picnic tables. I borrowed a stove to heat water for tea and oatmeal. The day was bright, and cool. Perfect touring weather. The others had planned to ride into town for breakfast, but I wanted this to be a true sub 24 hour excursion, so I hit the road southwards.

It was a straight shot to Taneytown, where I just missed the breakfast time at the Scottish restaurant and had to settle on a lunch sandwich for my elevenses.

Then on through Union Bridge and back into Frederick County and home, arriving with about 5 minutes to spare in my 24 hour timetable.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ohio 4

The chain I broke on the previous day put a crimp in my riding plans. I didn't really want to do a flat road/trail ride out to the covered bridge I missed a few days before with such a tiny gear, so I skipped a ride. Let's see, what else am I good at...? How about eating? I checked to see if anyone else wanted to go to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Clifton Mill. What do you know? They all did!

On top of that, my Mom had seen a blurb in a local paper about an interesting museum to visit not too far away. Our lives had purpose again!

We headed out to Clifton, following the same road I rode yesterday, and were soon seated in the mill with a lovely view of the Clifton Gorge.



I ordered my favorite Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, and Em and I explored the porch while waiting for the meal.


Heading back to the table I noticed cycling content.


After out meal we walked the mill property for a bit to settle in the meal.



Next it was off to Urbana, Ohio, where Urbana University is the home to the Johnny Appleseed Museum. This pleasant one room museum is home to a wealth of information about the interesting and eccentric frontier legend. I learned some info about him I'd never heard and we saw tons of Johnny Appleseed memorabilia.

Emily had a grand time, but Ian may have been a touch bored. We didn't stay too long and were soon headed on the straight shot down 68 to Xenia. A mellow afternoon was just the kind of low key time I enjoy, watching my kids and my parents get to know each other a little bit better without a lot of other folks around as distractions.

Emily and Mom shuck the corn for dinner, at the end of our wonderful last day of a wonderful Ohio vacation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ohio 3 - Scorching John Bryan Park

Still in Ohio, and looking for something different to ride. Hmmmm. The Quickbeam is a cross bike. Maybe some scorching some off road trails? One of the very few drawbacks to this part of Ohio is a relative scarcity of mountain biking destinations. Hard work on access issues by organizations like the Ohio Mountain Bike Association and the Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association are improving the options. Closest to Xenia are the trails at John Bryan State Park and Caesar Creek State Park. I've done some riding at Caesar Creek, but never at John Bryan, so I decided to try there. An added advantage was my ability to ride to the park on the Little Miami Rail Trail and local roads vs. driving to Caesar Creek.

To get the QB ready I wanted to swap out my wheels. I brought my second set of wheels with a freewheel on both sides and the WTB knobbies mounted, but when I was working the rear wheel, I realized that I usually have a longer chain to swap as well, to give the fatter tire clearance. Whoops. Since I got my Monocog, I haven't been using the knobbies on the QB, and forgot this little detail. So the fixed wheel and 37 Pasela stayed on the rear, with the knobby on the front. All sorted.

I got things together and headed out. There were only a few trail users on this Wednesday morning. After only about a mile I turned off the railtrail onto Clifton Rd. A few cars, but a nice ride in the sunshine. A left on Grinnell took me down into the valley of the Little Miami and across the river.
Bryan Park Road took me up to the park. Incidentally, Bryan Park Rd. is also the steepest longest climb I've found in Greene County. It reminded me of Hamburg Road here at home, but only about a third as long. Still, I was warmed up well when I got to the park gate.

I entered the park and was aimlessly casting about when a car with a bike on it rolled past. Ah-ha! Follow that car. As I did I noticed that there are signs directing you to the MTB trails. When I got back to the trails the rider in the car that passed me was getting her bike out, so I stopped to ask about the trails. It turns out Diana is the trail manager for this trail for the MVMBA, so I got a guided tour of the whole system. Pretty cool. I asked about the amount of climbing here and she said that there really wasn't much, so I decided I'd just leave the bike fixed at 40x18 instead of switching to the freewheel side. After signing in in a log at the trailhead kiosk (maybe something to consider locally), we fist rode Powerline. I noticed a spur to a skills area, but we stayed on the main section. Powerline was wonderful tight twisty singletrack. Lots of tight turns and narrow passes through trees, with some small single logs to cross and I think three larger log piles. A couple of rock armored stream sections as well. Super twisty and fun. I took the optional bypass on two of the three piles.

Soon we were at an intersection with doubletrack, called the Arboretum loop. This is an easy access trail that the singletrack is always close to. We crossed that and onto a segment called Abracadabra. This was a bit less twisty, but similar to Powerline, allowing a bit more speed and flow. Diana mentioned plans to bank some of the turns. Going through one curve I felt some give and looked down to see my chain wrapping around the fixed cog. A quick stop and unwinding revealed that the chain was broken. I don't know if I broke my chain and it wrapped up, or if I threw it and it wrapped and then broke, but the result the same. Diana said she would finish her run of Abracadabra and then come back to see it I needed a ride to a nearby bike shop. I had a short hike to the bailout doubletrack and a kickbike glide to the parking area, where I set up at a picnic table to look things over.
The section that broke was fortunately right next to the powerlink. I was able to shorten things by one link and use the Quickbeam's small ring/freewheel combo to get back into riding form, albeit as a coasting SS rather than fixed. All good.

Diana arrived back just then and was surprised to see me ready to ride, but offered to show me the last trail segment. We headed out on Great Scott, named after the park manager who was originally receptive to mountain bike trails at JBP.
This was more singletrack of the fast and swoopy kind, with a few ramps over logs, bridges, and armored stream crossings. We rode this part and then rode Abracadabra backwards from the way we had originally started on it. I meant to take more photos, but it was so much fun I only stopped a couple of times. We were soon back at the parking lot and I considered another lap, but I need to leave some time for family stuff later in the day, so I opted to head home. JBP was a thoroughly enjoyable place to ride. I'll be back for sure.

My repair job freewheel was a joy on the downhill of Bryan Park Rd and 32x22 made the climb into Yellow Springs a breeze as I searched out a place to get a cool drink. I ended up with a root beer and a soft ice cream (and even a camelbak ice refill!) from the Corner Cone, and then got back on the railtrail to Xenia. This is where that easy gearing was not so fun. Spin like a mad man on the dead flat trail up to a whopping 10 MPH and then coast for a hundred yards. Still, it got me home under my own power.

The kids were waiting and a after a change of clothes, we headed over to the Greene County Fair. It was an OK fair, but of course expensive. We saw various critters and displays, ate some tasty junk food and played some goofy games. Let me ask you, are there any more bizarre people in the world than the folks who operate midways at carnivals and fairs in the US? I submit that there are not.

Keeping busy on vacation leaves you with the best kid of tired.

Ride photos on Flickr here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ohio 2

On Tuesday I took the chance to get away and ride my bike some. Xenia has really embraced becoming a cycling destination. Once a rail hub, it is now a rail trail hub, and part of the network of over 300 miles of Miami Valley Trails. Nice.

I started by going downtown to visit the Xenia Station. I was looking for more info on the Jamestown connector trail, but it had not yet been brought all the way into town. I opted instead to ride out towards Cedarville on part of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail. After a bit I left the trail for some of the nice quiet low traffic roads in the county. I was trying to do part of a route I did 10 or so years ago connecting the county's remaining covered bridges.

Although there were a few sprinkles as I started, the clouds kept the day cool, perfect for cycling. I also have to say that the area was perfect for fixed gear riding. There was some rolling terrain, but the climbs were all gentle and not too long.

I soon found the first bridge. Ten years ago Ballard Road bridge was closed and a modern bridge bypassed it. It was good to see it restored. However the road now ends as a cul-de-sac with the new freeway (Rt. 35) cutting it off. So I turned around and went back the way I came. On the way I found an huge apple tree along the road and was just able to jump high enough to snag a tart apple for a snack.
One thing I wondered about riding here was if the proximity of the rail trails would lead to under-utilization of the wonderful country roads. I need not have worried. Although I didn't see any other riders while on my ride, there were a huge number of road marks laid down for club rides. from what I have observed, it seems like this part of Ohio has a greater portion of the population taking part in recreational bike riding than in Maryland.

I followed the quiet roads over towards Cedarville again. When I say quiet, I really mean quiet. Except for in the towns, I probably didn't see 20 cars all day. Just east of Cedarville I got back onto the railtrail, then off again in town to explore. My great-grandparents once managed the Cedarville hotel, and I was hoping I could find it. I might have, but the building I thought from memory was the correct one was not, so I only caught the edge of what I now think is the right one in my photos. After a bit of exploring It was back onto the trail moving towards Xenia.

20080728_33Then off again to check out some more covered bridges. Riding down into these stream valleys is the only elevation change you get around here. Just enough to make you work. The Stevenson Road bridge is now closed, with a modern bridge next to it, 20080728_41which is also the opposite from my ride 10 years ago. Just past that bridge is the farm my paternal grandparents were living on when my grandfather passed away. I took a couple of photos and rolled on. 20080728_46Soon I was back in Xenia and almost home. While waiting for a light, I struck up a conversation with a couple of young ladies out for a ride to Yellow Springs. They had come in to town on one spoke of the hub and were going out on another. It might have been nice to ride with them longer, but before I knew it I was back at my parent's home, and ready for lunch.

Full Flickr Photo Set Here.

Ohio 1

At the end of our week at Deep Creek, the kids and I packed up and headed west to my parent's place in Ohio, while Jenny and the dog headed home. A bunch of us were visiting my folks for my Dad's 77th birthday. He's looking pretty good. Mom is always proud when we can fill a whole pew in their church and we didn't disappoint. After church we had a get together at my folk's place. All sorts of good food and company. On Monday we just puttered around a bit. Some people had to head home, and some went to see a movie and other's hung around the homestead. I was pouring over the local maps to decide on a ride for the next day.


My annual vacation has once again come and gone. :^( I was lucky to make the most of it this year. The first part was spent up at Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland. My wife's family gets a big house for a week and we hit the lake, trails and other diversions. Good times. I had a bike, but on the best day for riding, I ended up doing a jigsaw puzzle instead. I made up for it in the second half of vacation later....

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dial Up.

Loading lots of photos over a dial up connection is not much fun.

Just in case you didn't know.