Category Archives: Harrisburg

Rausch Gap S24O

It looks like His Boniusness beat me to the punch and actually wrote up a ride report in a timely fashion. You can read it here. Anyway, mine’s mostly a photo dump with a few comments.

Bone and I decided to meet at the Stony Valley Railroad Grade parking area at 3pm on the 6th of October in the 2012th year of our Lord^H^H^H^H His Noodly Appendage.  I didn’t tell him, but I had planned all along to ride there from home.  Bwahahaha!

For the gear heads, from left to right.  The saddle bag is perched on a Bagman support and holds my tent stakes and a Big Agnes Lost Ranger.  There’s a Eureka! Spitfire strapped to the top.  Three bottle cages with full bottles.  The white one underneath is a Kleen Kanteen vac flask.  It works great for road coffee.  The Ostrich bag holds most of the food, along with camera, phone, wallet, keys, mon-ay, tools, jacket, extra shirt, some gloves, basically anything I might want to access during the ride.  The Lone Peak panniers hold a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core, a pillow, my kitchen, some warmer clothing, toiletries, and maybe some food.  I can’t recall exactlywhat.  That yellow thing is a tent stake mallet, stolen from the car camping 8-man Tent Mahal.

The skies had been threatening rain for a while, but held off until just after I left the house. So I stopped and put on my rain shell within a half mile.  Of course, it stopped raining a few minutes later and wouldn’t rain again until the next morning.  It was windy and cool, though, so I kept the jacket on until I left the river front.  Here we are crossing the Susquehanna headed toward Harrisburg, home of the Mayor for Life – Linda Thompson.

And then making a left to follow the Green Belt north along the river.

There’s lots to see along the river front part of the Green Belt. Like Tom Corbett‘s house.

He’s a pretty easy going guy, so I thought I might ring the bell and ask if he wanted to come along, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to the front door. Does the mailman just chuck packages over the fence?

Here are some pretty flowers.  Let’s hope the city council doesn’t find out about them.

Pretty sure this is the PA Vulcan compound.

End of the line. Time to turn east and head through the burbs.

Northern Harrisburg has some really nice neighborhoods with big houses, wide streets and mature trees. I’ll bet the folks who live here vote in the mayoral election next time around.

Leaving the city and heading north just a bit farther takes us to Ft. Hunter. If you’re ever in the area you should take the time to check it out.

It’s also a good place to stop for the essentials.

Bridge to nowhere. Been there?

The old tavern house. Unfortunately, they don’t serve anymore. What’s up with that?

Heading north out of Ft. Hunter along PA Bike Route J is interesting. The only road on this side of the river that goes through the water gap is US 22/322. It’s a limited access highway, 55mph, and normally not open to bicycles. They make a grudging exception here. Bring your steel nerves. Train tracks cross over the highway in the gap and the shoulder under the bridge is only about 4 feet wide. The alternative adds 22 miles and goes over a big damn mountain.

But I made it to Dauphin, underwear intact.  That’s Stony Creek in the background.  I’ll follow it all the way to Rausch Gap.

This way!

There was a bar behind be.

I purchased a refreshing beverage.

This was the best part of the ride. The 12 miles from Dauphin to the trail head melted away all too quickly.

Good times!

For those of you thinking an S24O isn’t complete without dirt, I agree. Let there be dirt!

This gravel road follows the old railroad grade. I’m pretty sure I was speeding.

I got to the trail head before Bone…

…and decided it was time for this.

From October 2012 S24O

But he wasn’t far behind me. Let’s go!

8 10 13 miles of this.

This is the Appalachian Trail. About 1/8 of a mile up the hill is a shelter, along with a composting toilet and lots of tent space.

Our light was fading fast and our eagerness to set up camp took a bit of a precedent over our picture taking activities. But the camera came back out Sunday morning. I took a few horrible low-light, shaky photos. First up, breakfast.

Everything tastes better cooked outside, and few things taste better than bacon and eggs. So this was absolutely perfect.

Here’s the camp site.

Bone can move faster than light.

The trail back was pretty much the same as the night before, only colder and wetter.

My original plans included riding all the way home, about 30 miles from A to B, but conversation along the way evolved from bacon to bacon cheeseburgers. And then to Five Guys. It was decided, with 10 miles of rail trail remaining, that my bike should take a ride on Bone’s car and we two should get bacon cheeseburgers and fries and sugary soda-type drinks for lunch.

And that is how we defeated the evil zombie king of St. Anthony’s wilderness went on our annual fall S24O.

Tips for group rides

Over the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been a member of the Harrisburg Bicycle Club. Most of the group rides I’m able to get to are the slower, social rides that range anywhere from 10 to 13mph average, and from 10 to 30 miles. During my time on these rides, I’ve picked up a few tips that seem to work well and formulated my own opinions that sometimes run contrary to the club’s culture. Here are my tips for social group rides, all of which are rooted in situations I’ve either had to deal with or witnessed. These may not apply to hammerfest, just-like-Lance, sprint-for-the-county-line rides.

  1. Your bike.  Make sure it works right.  Newer riders often show up with semi-functional hardware and might be looking for advice about how to maintain or fix their bike.  This is fine, and clubs are a good place to learn a little about wrenching.  But if you’re a regular, your bike shouldn’t be the one causing us to stop every mile or so.  Keep it maintained or get it to a shop once or twice a year.
  2. Pedals.  You really don’t need clipless pedals on a social ride.  You don’t.  I promise.  In my time with the club I have personally witnessed no fewer than 4 falls that were due to riders not being able to get their feet off the pedals.  Social rides tend to spend time in neighborhoods where there are stop signs.  Expect to start and stop a lot.  Flat pedals and comfy shoes are ideal.  If you still insist on riding clipless pedals, see rule #1.  Make sure they’re properly adjusted and get some practice before you fall on the poor guy next to you.
  3. Tools.  You need a few basics.  A multi-tool or a set of loose wrenches that fit the fasteners on your machine.  A patch kit.  Tire levers.  Pump.  Usually, the group will have all of these things collectively, but being that guy who always needs something every time he has a problem is not cool.  Carry a spare tube.  If you regularly ride sweep, bring a few spares in two or three different sizes.
  4. Lights.  Most social rides occur during the day, but it never hurts to have some lights on your bike.  If you’re not the sweep, and your tail light is on, don’t make it flash.  Some people find it irritating if they have to stare at a blinking blinkie.  Epileptics who are sensitive to flashing lights might not like it either.  If you are the sweep, flash it up if that floats your boat.
  5. Don’t litter.  This ain’t the BORAF (Tour de France).  No one is coming along behind to clean up your mess.  Don’t leave Clif wrappers, tubes, water bottles, or CO2 canisters on the side of the road.  Littering gives us all a bad name.
  6. Stop signs.  We often roll stop signs at empty intersections.  You could possibly get a ticket for this, but you won’t get yourself squashed and you won’t hurt anyone else.  If there are cars or cyclists approaching from other roads, play by the rules.  Stop and take turns.  If the person in front of you stops, don’t blow past them.  Drivers will often wave the whole group through, but don’t expect it.  If there’s lots of traffic go through in twos or threes and regroup on the other side.
  7. Red  lights.  Don’t run them.  Don’t.  Not ever.  Stop and wait.  Sometimes the light won’t change for a cyclist.  If this is the case, after you’ve stopped and made sure there’s no cross traffic, proceed carefully.  The law in most places allows for this.  Red lights are not the place to socialize.  You don’t need to talk to the guy 3 bikes back.  You don’t need to fish your kid’s picture out of your wallet to show the ride leader.  You need to be ready to go when the light turns green.  Sprinting is not necessary, but ride like you have a purpose.  It should not take 30 seconds to get 6 riders across the line.  Resume the social aspects of the ride once you’re on the other side.
  8. Falling down.  More often than not, if there is a crash on a slow ride it’s because someone bumped into someone else, or lost their balance starting or stopping.  Mostly, these crashes result in a scraped elbow or a bruised ego.  If the fallen rider is not injured, get them and their bike off the road.  This takes one helper and/or the sweep.  Everyone else should continue on and find a safe place to stop and wait.  Someone should tell the ride leader what happened.  You do not need to gather around in the middle of the lane.  If there is a serious injury that precludes moving the rider the sweep should direct traffic, if necessary, and someone else should call an ambulance.  Check if anyone on the ride or passing by can administer first aid.
  9. CAR BAAAAACK!.  If you’re calling out something like “car back”, you don’t have to yell.  You just need to say it loud enough for the person in front of you to hear.  We don’t need to turn a quiet neighborhood into a shouting match.  It’s OK to let other riders know about cars approaching from side streets or at intersections, but don’t rely on it.  Check for yourself.
  10. Traffic.  When cars are passing a small group on a narrow road, it’s often easiest to form a single file line on the right.  If you have a big group, splitting into a few smaller groups on busy roads is a good idea.  Staying two-abreast keeps the line shorter and makes it easier to pass.  Move with traffic and don’t needlessly impede other road users.  Be a group, not a gaggle.
  11. Road hazards.  Debris, storm drains, potholes, etc.  Different clubs have different ideas about how to handle these.  There are two predominant methods – point at the hazard or point where to go.  I don’t like being told what to do, so the HBC’s method of pointing at the debris works for me.  Just point at it as you pass.  There’s no need to be dramatic or shout.  The rider behind you can make their own decision about how to navigate it.
  12. Have fun.  That’s what social rides are for.

There are, of course, exceptions, but I think that putting these tips into regular use can make social rides easier, safer, and less stressful.  If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them.

Spring cleaning

A few things have happened since the last installment.  We bought a house, moved our stuff, cleaned the old place, and tried really hard to not pull all our hair out.

Bicycle miles for March are pretty close to zero.  As such, I kinda didn’t finish the Utilitaire 12.  I suppose I could have, and probably did, get in enough riding to do 12 utilitaires.  But they were mostly out of necessity and time didn’t allow for much variety.  I did, however, get a big ol’ Honorable Mention from the ever-so-lovely MG.  And that was super cool.  Thanks, MG!

I’ve had to do some plumbing.  The new (old) kitchen required a new faucet and dishwasher.  The new (new) bathroom needed a new shower head.  I have yet to figure out why in hell anyone would voluntarily choose to become a plumber.  Furthermore, I don’t understand how anyone with less than 7 joints in each limb can make a living out of it and not have to hand over their entire pay check to a chiropractor.  Eugene Tooms could have been a good plumber.

The rSogn is getting closer to done.  I’ve attached a Nitto M12 rack and an Ostrich handlebar bag.  Speeding down hill with a front load and no hands is wicked cool.

I just received a snazzy new set of stainless fenders from Velo-Orange. Anyone want to see a pictorial installation how-to? I’ll try to get that done within the next few days.

A slow, easy S24O is coming up.  Tentative plans have us heading down to the Lower Allen Township park and forcibly ejecting anyone else camping along the Yellow Breeches.  If you’re near Harrisburg, PA for the second or third weekends in April and would like to come along, lemme know.

I think that should just about wrap things up.  Tune in next time for co-ed naked alligator wrestling in a mud pit.