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.

Coffeeneuring, Cornerstone Coffee

MG is at it again.  I missed last weekend so I’m going to have to down a few double shots over the next few weeks.

The gang and I headed for Cornerstone Coffee in Camp Hill today.  It’s less than a mile from home, but we detoured to the LBS and put a Giant Bella on layaway for the little one’s upcoming birthday.

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Coffee!  I had something called a Cornerstone Cap, which is espresso, maple syrup and frothy milk.

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The girls had hot cocoa and Christie had some sort of seasonal pumpkin coffee abomination.  Then we went to the LBS.

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After that, we headed home, stopping at the elementary school for some slow racing and monkey bars.

Peace out, and go ride your bike.

Shame

A couple months back I was on my way to lead a club ride, going downhill, exceeding the 25mph speed limit by 4 or 5mph, and taking the lane. Traffic wasn’t exactly light, but this particular side road wasn’t horribly busy, either. I noticed a car riding too close to my rear just before I got to a curve in the road, and an oncoming SUV. At this point, instinct might have told most people to get out of the way, to move over and make some room. Experience told me to hold my line, because if I got out of the way, the driver of that car was sure to try and squeeze around me on that curve, regardless of oncoming traffic. That would have been a dangerous situation. I’m sure you can imagine the possible consequences of a mishap while sharing a narrow lane with a 2 ton car in a curve at 30mph. So I held my line.

And the old bat pulled out to pass. I’ll reiterate. Speeding, both of us. Curve in the road. Oncoming traffic. The oncoming SUV swerved to its right. I braked hard and swerved to my right (where there was lots of room because I held my line). Crazy old lady in the Buick cut me off and hit her brakes, you know, so she could stop at the STOP SIGN just ahead of us.

This should have been the end of it. My little take-the-lane ploy sorta worked and no one got runned over. Crazy lady made it to her stop sign intact (because others were paying attention).

But it wasn’t the end of it. I was mad as hell and my anger got the best of me. There were no fingers, no words exchanged, no dirty looks. But I hopped in front of that Buick at the sign (I didn’t run it), and when it was my/her turn, I really took the lane and rode near the center line for the next 4 blocks at about 10mph, one man critical mass, until she turned off. I sure showed her. Or something.

The reality is that she probably hadn’t the first clue. “Why did he get back in front of me, and why is he going so slow now, and why won’t he let me pass?” I should be ashamed.

But I’m not.

It felt really good…

Went to a wedding

This last weekend we loaded up the cage, bike on the back, and drove to New York.  My lovely wife’s lovely cousin was to be married at a lodge in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by State Forest.  Dirt roads, horsey trails, fall foliage!  How could I not bring the bike.  As it turned out, we were put up in another lodge roughly 18 miles away via unlined country roads.  I decided to ride to the wedding, and employed Google Maps to find a suitable route.


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About 18 miles.  Hour and 45 minutes.  With some stopping to take pictures, 2, 2 and half hours.  No problem.  I left our lodge three and a half hours before the wedding was scheduled to start.

I anticipated getting there before the wife and children, so I packed my saddle bag with a pair of shorts and t-shirt so that I wouldn’t be wandering around, pre-nuptials, in my Spandex, showing off my gear.  Christie would bring my wedding attire in the car. The saddle bag also contained the standard crap I drag along on every ride; tube, patch kit, multi-tool, rain shell, wallet, and phone.  Since it was cold when I left, and the weather guy said it was supposed to warm up, I put a fleece over my jersey, donned the full-fingered gloves, and tossed my fingerless gloves in the bag.  As usual, the frame pump rode along, sandwiched between the head and seat tubes.  (That part is important.)

Let’s begin.

From New York Ramble

There was dirt. Lots of dirt. This particular dirt, leading away from Beaver Point, was packed hard and rolled fast. Whee!

It didn’t last long, at first, and eventually dumped me out onto a paved surface. The scenery was heavenly. Like this.

And this.

And this.

What I didn’t know was that a horsey lives here. He was happy to see me and put on quite the show, prancing around and snorting. I think he wanted an apple. Or maybe a cigarette. You never know with horsies.

I passed many dirt roads and little trails, heading off in the wrong direction. A week wouldn’t be enough time if all did was ride. I wonder where this one goes.

I eventually got to McPhilmy Road, ahead of schedule. McPhilmy is dirt, or sand rather, from one end to the other. Most of it was ridable, but much of it was very soft. My 28mm road tires were no match this stuff and I walked a lot.

I made a small error at the intersection of McPhilmy and Bailey. This intersection was not signed, and I mistakenly thought I was at Stony Lake Road, where I was to turn left. Besides, there was a sign across the road that said “Dead End”. So turn left I did, onto the sandiest of the sandy roads, and walked nearly half a mile before realizing I was headed the wrong direction.


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I backtracked to McPhilmy and resumed a correct course, rolling past the “Dead End” sign. Those of you who cycle know that dead ends are often only dead ends for those sad souls stuck in a car. The bridge has holes in it, or the road’s washed out, or maybe the county is broke and just can’t maintain it any more. So they close it and put up a sign. But a bicycle can often sneak through.

A more accurate sign would have read “Bridge Out. For the last 30 years.” It would have also notified the fine folks at Google Maps and told them not to plunge unsuspecting travelers into the icy depths. Anyway, this is where the bridge used to be.

And this is what it crossed once upon a time.

I considered turning back, but I was already pushing my time limit, what with the detour down Sandy McSand Lane. The only rational choice was to shit-can any semblance of intelligence and cross the stream on foot. I stuffed my phone into the saddle bag, removed the frame pump, and hoisted the Pacer onto my right shoulder, a la cyclocross. Then I waded out into water that couldn’t have been warmer than about 50F. The river bed was rocky, the rocks were slippery, and the water was fast. Take another look at the photo above and note the location of the large boulder on the other side.

Trying to find a safe way across was difficult. My path was zigzag-ish and I nearly fell several times. But the frame pump saved me. It was the third leg of a tripod, and kept me upright when I surely would have went swimming had it not been with me. Those poseurs over at Velominati could learn something from this. (OK, OK. You’re right. They would have turned tail and ran away. And I suppose I could have found a stick.)

I climbed out the other side, one sleeve of my fleece soaked nearly to the shoulder, both gloves wet, and everything below the waist dripping. You can see that boulder in this photo, too.

The bike and I scrambled, stumbled, crawled up the bank. This is the view from the other side of the creek. Where the bridge used to be. Google. As in, not there any more.

After swapping my wet fleece and winter gloves for a rain shell and fingerless gloves, I turned and rode away from my vanquished foe.

At least until the sand made me walk.

The last few miles were mostly uneventful and mostly snowmobile trails. These “roads” are crisscrossed with tree roots and paved with pine needles. It was slow-going, but fun and scenic.

Right about here, Google Maps routed me onto a road that doesn’t exist. Adirondack Park Preserve most definitely exists on the other end. Maybe it goes somewhere else. Maybe it dead ends long before it gets to East Shore Rd., but there’s not even the remnants of a long forgotten logging track. Nothing but trees and ferns. I made a couple quick course corrections and continued on.


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Finally! I had reached the driveway to the Otter Creek Lodge, and my last half mile or so was once again hard packed, fast dirt.

I had arrived with 20 minutes to spare, an extra 3 miles on the clock, and I parked the bike on the porch and dashed inside. My wife had laid out my clothing in a spare room and I even stopped sweating before the ceremony. First time for everything, I suppose.

At the end of the journey.

A few statistics.

21.1 miles. Top speed was about 33 mph. 24 cars, half of which were encountered on a 2.5 miles stretch of Erie Canal Rd.

In all, this was a lovely ride, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the stream crossing. The roads and trails in this part of New York are fabulous and it is conceivable to me that a person could spend the better part of a life-time riding them and never tire of it. I can’t wait to go back.

 

How many bikes?

Sometimes, the wife asks me a silly question.  “How many bikes do you have now?”  This is not a question of curiosity.  It’s a mixture of mild contempt and disbelief.  If you’re married and you have bikes, or cameras, or some other obsession hobby that encourages collecting stuff, you’ve seen the look which accompanies this question.  There is an underlying desire for me to part with at least some of the gigantic pile of crap taking up space in the basement.  And on the porch.  In the foyer.

There are several ways to answer this question.  Some of them are even honest.  Fewer are answers given to wives.

  • N+1.  This means that the proper number of bikes is always one more than the number on hand.
  • N-1.  This means that a divorce is imminent or the rent is two months behind.
  • 7, or 9.  This is from Rivendell Reader #42, page 6.  “Seven is good.  A beater, a bomber, a single-speed, a touring bike, a lightish road bike, a do-all racked and bagged bike, a mixte, a loaner, and a work in progress.  Seven?  Make it nine.”
  • 6.  Beloved Cycles has 6 different frames, each intended for a different purpose.  A road bike, a porteur, a commuter, a touring bike, a randonneur, and a mixte.
  • Maybe you’re a roadie and you need a different racing bike for different conditions.  Racing, training, raining, cold raining, warm raining, might start raining.  At least one each of crabon, aluminium, and steel.  Maybe titanium.
  • That frame without wheels isn’t a bike.  It’s a bike part.  Don’t count it.

There are a zillion ways to answer the question, but I think I may have it figured out.  The true answer and other secrets of the universe are revealed below.  Keep reading!

One of the ways I’ve looked at bikes is to classify them based on use.  In other words, they need to do certain things and I have to figure out which bikes can do what, and which needs are currently unmet.  These are the things I commonly do on a bike.

  • Just riding around.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Towing the girls to school, dance class, etc.
  • Bicycle club rides.
  • Camping.  Going, not just riding around once I get there.
  • Dropping books off at the library.
  • Rail trail riding.
  • That one time I rode a metric century.
  • In the future I’d like to commute to work (if/when I find a job), maybe go on an extended tour, and possibly ride a brevet series.

Grant Petersen’s 7 or 9 is a good place to start for this type of justification.  At one time I had a bike with a porteur rack, a touring bike, a mountain bike, fixed gear, city, and probably a couple others.  Right now I have the lightish road bike, a beater, a bomber, a do-all, tourer, and a couple works in progress.  2 or 3 are ride-able at any given time.

I had considered paring it down to the Beloved 6, but couldn’t figure out how to slot my existing frame sets into their classifications.  Plus, I have more than 6 bikes.

This is dumb.  (You were thinking that all along.  Admit it.)  I can do most of what I want to do on a bike on any bike.  Maybe I shouldn’t pull a trailer full of kids on the lightish road bike, or ride a metric century on the Collegiate, but there’s a hell of a lot of overlap.  I can certainly take any of them on an S24O or on the slow club rides I sometimes lead.

I think it comes down to handlebars, and I think you/I/we need 3 bikes.  Three.  One, two, three (3).  Thuh-ree.

Circling back around to Grant Petersen and Rivendell, those guys have sold 3 types of handlebars ever since 1994.  Some sort of drop bar, an upright, swept back bar, and the infamous mustache bar.  I’ve read a lot of GP’s writings, and I don’t recall him ever saying “you need one bike with each of our handlebars”, but I think he meant to.  Or maybe he knows it, but doesn’t want to just come right out and say it.  I don’t know.  Doesn’t matter.  But in a round about way, I think he’s on to something.

Get a drop bar you like.  I like the Nitto B115, the Nitto Randonneur, and the Salsa Cowbell.  Pick something you like and set it up in a way that’s comfy.  Higher for an off-road-ish bike, lower for lightish, fastish.

Get some city bars.  Wald 8095, there’s something called a Promenade, maybe Albatross bars.  Pair them up with a leather saddle or a sprung saddle.  Maybe both.

Get another bar.  Mustache, Mary, those weird trekking bars.  And that’s it.  That’s all you need.

Put the porteur rack on your bike with city bars.  Now it’s your shopper, S24O’er, townie.  Or follow Jan Heine’s lead and put it on your drop bar rando bike with fat tires.  Now it’s an “urban bike”.

Got an old mountain bike?  Albatross bars and racks and baskets and now you can tour, camp, grocery shop and commute on it.  Mustache bars and pretend it’s an XO-1.  You’ve always wanted one of those.

Get three different bars and put them on three different frames and go from there.  You’ll figure out which bike does what.

You need three bikes.

Maybe a fourth, just in case one of them is in the shop…

 

Eurotrash

July 28, 2012.  I swung a leg over the Silver Bullet and shoved off toward Mercersburg.  This was, I hoped, not to be a repeat of my first attempt several years ago, which ended 25 miles early at a McDonald’s, soaking up their AC and trying not to puke while I waited for the cavalry to bail my fat ass out. It had been my longest day in the saddle ever.  Nearly 50 miles.  Part of my new motivation was simply the fact that there would be no bail out, no matter how far I fell, which meant I’d have to find a shady tree and take a nap under it.  The horror.

Back then I was 25 pounds heavier with a pack-a-day habit.  July the 28th bore forth a man lighter than he’d been in a decade, an ex-smoker, with over 400 miles behind him during the last few weeks.  A veritable god among men.  OK, maybe a demi-god.

Hero of the Republic?

Circus clown?  Let’s go with circus clown.

My weapon of choice would be a Surly Pacer.  The Silver Bullet.  A steed I had almost forsaken, thinking she was too big, too stretched out.  I had ridden her most of July and grown quite fond of the fit and feel.  Several years of trial and error and Christie’s money had shown me what was best in a bike, and I had kitted her out appropriately.  Cloth bar tape and a firm leather saddle.  Down tube shifters mated to a nearly new Shimano 600 rear derailer.  A Carradice Bagman supported a canvas saddle bag, which in turn held my abundance of crap – rain shell (didn’t need it), Lara bars (didn’t eat them all), tools (never touched them), wallet (empty), phone (dead) and GPS (the only useful bit in the whole bunch).

I rolled out at 6am.  By the time I arrived in Carlisle, I had to pee.  Like, now.  The first convenience store displayed a sign in the window – “No public restroom.”  I feigned ignorance.  The middle-eastern girl behind the till showed indifference.  I grabbed the nearest candy bar, dropped it on the counter and offered up the cash.  She pointed to the “employees only” door at the back corner.

Back in June I got the damn fool idea to join a challenge.  “Ride 500 miles in July” says they.  “Durr, OK” says I.  So I stopped again at 31 miles into my quest.


500 miles, suckers.

I was skeptical of actually meeting this goal.  So was everyone else, I think, though they were mostly supportive.  25 miles a day, most days, at oh dark thirty with Bill and Owen.  And it’s up there in lights a photo on the Internet.

Newville is a pretty little town that sits at the crossroads of 641 and 233.  Both are busy roads (and I’d be riding them again in the near future).  I approached Newville on a farm road and only had to deal with 641 for a couple blocks before making the left onto 233, and then a couple blocks more until peeling off to the right in search of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail and 11 miles of flat and easy all the way to Shippensburg.  I missed my turn and went a few gorgeous miles out of the way along Big Spring Road before correcting my course.


Nealy and Bullshead. Middle of nowhere. Very big, protective dog on his way. Didn’t stay long.

So maybe 8 miles on the rail trail.  Their sign-age is funny.  In addition to a stop sign at every cross road there are a myriad of unenforceable requirements.  No weapons.  No riding after dark.  Walk your bike across the intersection.  And cyclists please, oh god, pleaseohplease wear a helmet.  I think the signs are there to make the trail commission feel better about being safety conscious or some such.  Granted, it is technically private property, owned by a non-profit.  So I suppose they could have come out there and told me I was trespassing and made me leave or whatever.  Feel-good-ism and CYA above all else, I guess.

The trail doesn’t extend into Shippensburg as suggested by Google Maps.  That’s a future expansion.  It currently ends at a park just north of the University.  This turned out to be a nice place to stop.


The Pacer taking a much needed break. BTW, I made it to Shippensburg without bonking!

I realized at this point that I hadn’t taken my chain off the big ring since leaving home. And thus was hatched the most retarded scheme in history – I would ride all the way to Mercersburg without touching the front shifter.

As I approached Letterkenny and then Chambersburg, I knew I was truly in southern Pennsylvania.  The proof was at a yard sale, though I didn’t have the opportunity to take a photograph of the woman as she climbed down from the lifted 4×4, wearing heels, jogging shorts, beer gut and tube top.  Her shirtless companion, in flip-flops and cut off BDUs was easier to purge from the memory banks.  I’m fairly certain her image is permanently etched upon my retinas.

The sun was in full fry mode by this point and the weatherman’s “partly cloudy” really meant “clouds everywhere except between the Sloth and the sun.”  Traffic was heavy south of Chambersburg, too, and I started to look for a place to find some shade for a few minutes.  A Pepsi machine appeared on the left, as if summoned by Mordenkainen himself, and beckoned me to partake of the fizzy.  It turned out the diet button was really a Pepsi Max, but getting a refund proved difficult.  I drank it anyway and sat in the shade for a few minutes.

When it was time to go I looked down at the computer and noticed something funny. 62.69 miles. You know what that means, don’t you?


Metric century!

Hot damn! I was stoked.  I had just ridden 100km and felt pretty good.  Hell, I decided, I’m going to start training for my first 200k brevet.  This was easy.

Back on the bike and rolling, I burped up every last molecule of carbon dioxide, along with whatever reserves I had left. There were only 10 miles to go, and I was about to hate every last one of them. The man with the hammer had been hiding in that Pepsi bottle the whole time. Even the slightest incline, grades I wouldn’t notice at any other time, required all my strength. But I still wouldn’t shift the chain off the big ring. The chain, over most of that last 10 miles, was in 53/28. But I made it. 72.9 miles.

I might not be ready for that 200k, but at least I didn’t puke.

 

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.

Core dump

This is one of those multi-topic, Spring cleaning posts.  It’s a bunch of random clutter I need to sweep out.  You’re the dust pan.

April was #30daysofbiking.  I finished the month with at least one ride daily and 206 miles.  The bulk of that was getting the kiddos to school.  I didn’t lose a single pound.

Speaking of weight, I tend to get hungry when I exercise.  That means I eat.  So instead of burning fat, I’m burning the stuff I just ate.  When I don’t exercise, I eat then, too.  I like starchy things.  They go right to my tummy and stay there.  For the last two days I’ve been not eating within an hour of riding, before or after.  And I haven’t been eating bread or sugar.  Guess what?  I’m losing weight already.

Grant Petersen wrote a book.  It’s called “Just Ride“.  You can get it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or better bike shops.  The evil LBS doesn’t have it.

  • He and I disagree about underwear.  In my experience, seams in the wrong place hurt.  They bunch up into my nooks and crannies and rub me the wrong way.  Seamless undies and shorts without rear pockets work well for me.
  • Part 7 was a snoozer, which surprised me.  I can talk bike parts and geometry and tire suppleness all day long until you’re bored to death.  Apparently, I like talking parts more than I like listening to someone else talk parts.  I’ll talk less parts next time.
  • Other than that, GP is spot on.  You should get a copy and read it.  It’s worth more than the 14 worthless Americanos.  I’ve already started using the wobbly bike method when cars approach.  I think it might just work.  Will report back later.

The rSogn continues to be a work in progress.  It’s currently sporting Gary II bars, which I just put on two days ago.  Haven’t ridden it yet.  Will report back later.  I also measured the 38mm Col de la Vie tires with a digital caliper.  36.2-ish at 3 bar on Velo-Orange Diagonale rims.  That’s less than a 10% margin of error.  I can live with that.  It also got some Eggbeater pedals and I put cleats on my shoes.  This experiment is probably coming to an end soonly.

The Pacer is back in rotation, but not as the Bio-Pacer.  105 double rings, drop bars, plastic sneaker pedals.  I really like the pedals and am considering trying out some of those RMX sneaker pedals or Grip Kings/Lambdas.  They allow me to ride in canvas Chuckie T sneakers, which I can’t do on rat traps like the MKS touring.  The Pacer is a fun bike.  It climbs better than anything else I own and the side pull brakes stop better than anything else I own.

There are two new Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch Me Baby Just Like That Turbo Rocket Ship Super Duper Special Edition phones on the way.  We’re also ditching T-Stationary in the process.  Android’s been good to us for the last two years.  I’m looking forward to it being even better starting tomorrow.

I finally got around to ordering that part for the refrigerator.

Ride bike!

Sometimes I’m Dr. Jekyll…

…and sometimes I’m Mr. Hyde.

All hail the Bio-Pacer.

Crunchpoundhash 30 Days of Biking

April is #30daysofbiking.  That means ride a bike every day.  Even if it’s just around the block or down the hall.  Get on your bike, their bike, a bike and ride it, at least a little, every day in April.  This is my second April participating.  It’s kinda fun.  You should try it.  Even if it’s too late for the official thing, you can still get in 30 straight days of riding.

I’ve been tracking my rides with Daily Mile.  You can go have a look at what I’ve done.

On a side note, the rules.  I have some slight additions and modifications to the rules.

  • First, if you can help it, don’t be a roadie.  However, if dressing up just like Lance, showing off your junk in your lycra shorts and riding a carbonplasticwunderbike are the things that make you want to ride, well, it’s better than not riding.
  • Rules 4 and 5 are, without question, spot on.
  • Rule #29.  A tool roll is acceptable.  In fact, it’s dumb to carry tools in your jersey.  Have a tube, patch kit, tire levers and a small set of wrenches or a multi-tool for every bike.  Leave them on the bike all the time.  Attach the roll to your saddle with a toe strap.
  • Rule #30.  No pump peg shall be left unadorned.  The full sized frame pump, the one that fits between two pump pegs, or between that little nub on the head tube and the joint between the top and seat tubes, is the one pump to rule them all.  If your bike has pump pegs, you shall acquire a frame pump.  If this is unacceptable to you, get a different bike.
  • Rule #31 should be revoked.  See the modification to rule #29.  There are no exceptions for Lezyne man-purses.
  • Rule #39 should be revoked.  Go try to find a photo of Eddy with glasses.  Try.  Go ahead.  We’ll wait.  If he didn’t need them, if his peers didn’t need them, you don’t need them.  The I’m-a-douche eyewear fad started by Lemond should have died when he retired.
  • Finally, the frame material pecking order, from highest to the lowliest of the low.  Steel, titanium, aluminum, plastic.  One could possibly argue that aluminum ranks higher than titanium at certain price points.

The refendering of the rSogn is still on deck.  Stay tuned.