Start planning your strategies folks…
Time got away from me and words escaped me. My photos (above) were none too plentiful or well composed either. A week or 2 ago we got together for a relaxed ride around town and to relax at Charlies afterwards. Special thanks to Charlie & Mary for hosting plus Bob for organizing — it was a great day and great to see everyone again!
45ish miles, unspecified speed or elevation.
I did some wrenching this afternoon. Started by stripping the blue…
I did a sweep Friday on Nashbar and actually thought about picking something up new to ride in-town. There were 1 or 2 candidates in the $200-$300 range that looked suitable, but I couldn’t see buying anything with the pile of surplus equipment I have laying around. The trucker has been neglected since I turned my attention to the rando and now warbird. Part of the neglect was due to some mechanical issues. I replaced the middle and big rings with a purchase from Riv Bike 1000 miles ago. It was probably the only bad purchase I’ve ever made from them with the middle ring not aligning properly between the inner and outer. I’ve had rough shifts ever since and I really didn’t want to spend any money fixing it. (p.s. the retrogrouches will tell you that you don’t need ramps or pins on your rings, but trust me on this they are REAL NICE to have if you’re shifting.) I took the crankset off the 1 speed, grabbed the takeoff alivio rings from my parts box, pulled some cables and brake pads, and set to building myself a new commuter…
Not really crazy about putting the trucker in harms way but I removed the skewers and have a more secure lockup procedure to implement. I intend on making it as much of a pain in the ass to take stuff from as possible. These wheels are true as well but they’ve got about 8000 miles on them and the back rim is nearly burnt through. I’m not quite ready to spend $150 on a set of pitlocks yet. We’ll see how it goes.
Ever since I started taking the train the 1 speed has been seeing more and more action. After I went over the bars of the folding bike in early July it was the only bike I was riding downtown. For what it is I’ve come to enjoy it as my city transportation again–trackstanding at lights and growing accustomed to the scratchiness of a rusty chain funneling through a slightly misaligned stx derailer. I hopped off the train this morning and headed for the racks as usual ready for a sunny morning commute when…
Some douche yanked the back wheel and that was that. Over the years I’ve rebuilt this bike more times than I can count. A few years ago the headset was on its last leg. Then I did a bars reconfiguration and resurrected this bike. Then I broke off the crank arm when I stepped on the gas after a light turned green. Then I resurrected it a second time with a $45 alivio crank purchase the next spring. Now my first ever hand-built wheel was thieved. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend any more money on parts specific to this bike given how iffy the headset is. I don’t own any other 26″ rim brake bikes, so seeya. Thanks for the memories. Thing that bums me out more than anything is if I knew my commute to Penn Station Wednesday evening was going to be the last time I ever rode the blue 1-speed I would have savored it a bit more. Anyone who needs a 26″ front mountain wheel or a really swanky set of yellow planet bike fenders hit me up. I could probably part with the frame too if you can put together a good proposal for what you’d do with it. It’d be fun to watch someone else try to squeeze a little more life out of it.
Now I’m left to figure out what I’m going to ride in the city and what I need to do to keep it around in one piece…
I wasn’t in the mood to dodge cars, or roots, or rocks, or get lost in the woods. A couple hours of the trail was in order…
A couple of hours, 40 miles, a few intervals thrown in when the traffic died down. My original plan was to put in at Monkton and ride as far north as I could–hopefully making it to the tunnel or at least the cafes in Glen Rock. The parking lot was full when I got there so I had to go south to the giant parking lot at Paper Mill. +7 miles south and the drive ate up my free time and I only got as far as New Freedom. Still a good ride. Nice thing about Pugsley is you can get a good workout while maintaining a ‘rail trail pace’ because you’re cranking over 4 lbs of rubber with those big tires.
I worked around the house all Sunday and Monday morning. 2pm rolled around and I took a few hours out to do something different. I had been checking out local trails and decided to explore the Sweet Air section of Gunpowder Falls. Some climbing, some singletrack, some doubletrack and some grassy paths bordering farmland. I had stolen the bottle cage off pugsley at some point and didn’t notice until I was prepping in the parking lot. With no other option, I took a big swig at the car and headed out. For the next hour and change I got myself good and lost. I had the gps with me but kept doubling back on myself because I had no tracks loaded of the park. In the end I only saw the northwest side but I got a real good look at it.
My original idea was to do a 50/50 road/trail ride but I was glad to have the fat tires. It was much more fun doing the singletrack than sticking to what I could run on streetable tires. The trails were practically dry but there were a few places where water had pooled and dirt was filled in again by the maintenance crews that were still a little wet. Pugsley was fun to ride in those areas because I could ride straight through without leaving ruts. I was even smoothing it out a bit and I knew I was lost when I started to see my tracks 2 and 3 times in the same spot. Traction for the climbs was great in the loose rocky sections too. Have to go back again soon and check it out more.
The last month has been a continuation of me being run down and my decision to ride the Ramble this weekend was up in the air just like Gettysburg. July has not been a good month for me in the last few years. Once my ribs were nearly healed I got a nasty head cold that was brought on from working non-stop. I had vacation planned from the 2nd to the 9th. The cold was letting up and everything looked like a go when I got some fierce pain in my left ear the Thursday before. A trip to the doctor diagnosed it as a really nasty infection. Instead of a week of frivolity I spent a week reading and trying to get back to zero. At the beach I rode a few 20 and 30 mile routes–barely enough to build my confidence back up. On Thursday, Andrew sent me an email to check in and see if I was riding. It was just the push I needed to commit and I told him yes. Glad I did because it made it easier to dismiss my second thoughts and follow through.
We met in the morning at our first reservoir–Druid Lake. There was a triathalon event going on and we had to dodge the racers to get to the other side of the park. We learned later that Andy and Rita(?) were at the start but had missed us. They rode the entire day in front of us. Clear of the event most of the pack took off and Andrew and I did sweep. We cut across the west side of the city through Leakin Park, along Dogwood and then up Dogwood–the steepest grade of the day.
me climbing dogwood (photo credit: Andrew — thanks!)
Fresh legs and a low gear make all the difference in the world for me and it didn’t feel too bad. We caught up with Boson along the way. He had a shoulder injury recently and had to back off from the main group.
regroup at the top
I made a conscious attempt to break the day into little chunks that seemed insignificant to complain about. I didn’t feel like I was in ‘century shape’, but there was no reason why I couldn’t do a 20 mile ride… Then another… Then another… Then another…. Then another……. It sounds stupid in retrospect, but it really worked.
Andrew pulls ahead on the hills
Pretty fresh–through Liberty watershed and ground up a few more hills–soon we were at the mile 32 Arbys rest stop. There wasn’t much to eat, but I needed something so I got some fries and a bit of sugary soda. Tom was inside and the lead pack had picked him up around Liberty. Boson decided to bail and make the call home. Hope you’re feeling better soon.
Bob salutes our red, white and blue bikes
More riding – 20ish miles to the lunch stop but it felt like 40 to me. We made our trek through Prettyboy Reservoir, climbed out and arrived at Wally’s cafe around 1. It’s a fine stop, but I was really wishing for someplace with a public bathroom. Post lunch, I remembered freezing out on the same descent 4 years ago when we ran the route in October. Today was a different story and the weather was great. There were a few headwinds (more like breezes) in the afternoon but that was it. This was probably the best August riding weather I’ve ever seen. Great conditions aside, I was still beat and the next 20 or so chipped away at my ego. I was really dragging and very surprised when Tom did not catch up with me in the next few miles. Later we found out that he had made a wrong turn and looped around in the reservoir a few times before making the decision to cut a route straight for home. Everything west of 83 is still ‘no mans land’ for me so I was too busy wondering where I was and how far I had to go. By the time I passed the trail on Corbett Rd., the temptation to cut the ride short was very strong. I didn’t have Andrew’s # and didn’t want him wondering where I went so that was enough initiative to keep me going. He’d pull ahead all day and I’d catch up with him waiting at the top of a hill or intersection. He was at the Carrol Rd. crossing after the Corbett climb from the valley. I pulled up and fished my emergency gu shot out of my bag. It was my first try of one and it tasted qué terriblé. It was like eating fruit flavored toothpaste that was warmed to 120 degrees in my saddlebag. I can’t argue with the results as it did keep me moving for the next 6 miles until we got to the McDonalds for a quick break. In lieu of actual food (sick of fries and not in the mood for a processed sandwich) I got a coke and downed 400 more empty calories along with an energy bar that had some fruits and nuts in it. There was a loose-knit plan I had with the wife to come and get me at this intersection if I wasn’t able to soldier on. I was pretty beat by this point but there was only 25 miles and maybe 2 nasty hills separating us from home. I thought I could do it so after a few minutes we got to it.
The trip towards Loch Raven was a net elevation loss that felt pretty good. The downside was the climb up Old Bosley. True to form for the day I just thought of it as a little 2 mile ride and tried to ignore all the other stuff I had done and still had to do. With that out of the way we crossed Timonium and towards home on Falls. I was too tired to balk about the climb on Lake Ave. Bob and PJ were ahead of Andrew and myself. They made plans between them to procure a cable lock from home and a table at Alonzo’s. We all ended up at the restaurant in one piece at the same time and enjoyed our reward–good beer, apps, and conversation.
Thanks to all for a great day and hope to see you out on the road again soon!
Numbers: miles – 100-ish | total time – 9:28 | mv average – 13.0 | overall average – 10.6 | elev gain – 8770/8306 (unit/rwgps #’s)