I did some wrenching this afternoon. Started by stripping the blue…
top half – garbage, bottom half – useable
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)
RWGPS Permalink | Flickr Set Permalink
The prospect of riding this month’s ramble was a difficult subject for me all last week. I spent a large part of my time since the crash stretching and hoping for the best. On one hand I’ve been dreaming about doing this ride again for at least a year now. On the other hand I’d been off my commute and obviously hadn’t been doing my weekly 50 milers. I could feel my fitness rolling off and everything ‘biking’ related slipping away. Saturday I did a little checkout ride after a quick tuneup to the Salsa. Wrenching the pedals up a few hills I couldn’t find any movements which made my side hurt so I just decided to go for it. I printed out a map with the route drawn out on it for my better half who promised to come rescue me if I got in too deep. I decided to leave at the same time as the rest of the group and let the cards fall where they may so I got the luxury of sleeping till 6am.
After a quick meetup at the conservatory, it was north out of the city. A light rain was coming down. Even with our downhills being straight on clear roads I’m still skittish and backed off big-time on the speed. It looked like the skies could open up at any moment but real rains never materialized. I rode most of the day with Andrew and enjoyed quite a bit of conversation about biking, fixing bikes, bike camping, and everything else. We hit the Burger King rest stop together as everyone was sitting down with their food. Leaving with the group we lost visual after only a few minutes on the rolling landscape along rte30. I hit a light at the bottom of one hill and watched Andrew pull away. Not a problem except I let the lead get a bit too big. When the Garmin dinged for the Impounding Dam Road turn I looked around to see if I could make visual and saw his jersey far ahead in the distance. Luckily it was a downhill because if I tried to catch him on a climb I would have been out of luck as he’s much stronger than me on the hills. Once I was within shouting distance I flagged him down and we got back on course. That was good for an extra 1.7 miles. On the back roads again we had plenty of rolling scenery to enjoy for the next 25 miles. Before we knew it we were turning into the battlefields…
Photographic evidence on Round Top.
North through town, we stopped at Garryowen Pub, ate lunch and talked more about camping and bike stuff.
Leaving Gettysburg and riding south is easy going over the Maryland line. The main pack cleared out a few minutes after we hit the open road. No tractor show this year. The tractor graveyard was still there and the inventory was shuffled around so I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there working on restoration projects right now. Riding through Taneytown Andrew and I caught Bob at an impromptu stop for lemonade. It’s been a banner year for lemonade stands! I had a glass too and we were on our way. The climbing kicked in for the afternoon outside of New Windsor and I started to question my decision to ride. Once you’re out there the best you can do is to keep moving and hope for the best. The steady grade up rte 31 wasn’t aided by a tail wind this time around, though mercifully the most we had to deal with all day was light crosswinds from mixed directions. The temperatures were much more pleasant than last time around as well. I pushed on the uphills and would watch Andrew pull away. I’d tuck on the downhills and make the most of my momentum. Aside from a little tweak in my left knee I still felt ok and the convenience store ice cream stop came pretty quick.
Back on the bike we headed towards the reservoir. I caught up with Pat who had run the first half of the day with the lead group and decided to ease up a bit. He had come out to the start from Ellicott City and had a few miles over us all to begin with. I also kept bumping in to Adam who would pass me, and then pass me again a few miles later. We all stopped on the side of the road and had a second impromptu stop for a few ripe blackberries. I maybe saw Adam once more before he broke with the group to head for BWI. Down, up, down again towards the beltway, then up again towards Baltimore. Jeez. We lost sight of Andrew while climbing Milford Mill and after a series of complex turns through a neighborhood Pat and I started to wonder if he might have missed the turn while waiting for a light crossing Reisterstown. At that point there really wasn’t any way we could backtrack so we hoped for the best. We passed the parking lot where I met up with Bob on the last ride and it was empty. Sort of groaned to myself and lamented that I’d missed on the post-ride drink synchronization yet again… I wasn’t surprised as it was past 6:30 by that point. Coming down through the top side of Mount Washington I was thinking about how to get home with the least climbing. Taking the official route carries you higher in altitude, but cutting across to Roland Park makes you descend into the valley first. I don’t think there’s a real difference between the two. Pat was headed back to Ellicott City after the ride so these were mostly internal thoughts as I was sure he wouldn’t want to loop further away from home even if the net distance/elevation was the same. We stuck to the route, crossed Northern Parkway and rode across to connect with the start of the Jones Falls Trail. This was my first ride on that section of the JFT and it’s a nice jaunt through the woods. Approaching one of the switchbacks I even caught a glimpse of a 6 point buck bounding back into the trees. Coming past the Mill Center I was shocked to see a certain awesome ride leader hanging out on a park bench by the light rail tracks. OH YEAH it’s ON AGAIN I thought as I laughed out loud and we rolled to a stop. Good thing we stayed on course. As we exchanged stories of the late afternoon Andrew rolled up behind us. He’d missed a turn and fortunately had self-corrected.
We decided to convene at Golden West for what was now a late dinner and drinks. Andrew left for home to drop of his bike and we headed for Bob’s to stash the bikes in his garage while we were closing out the restaurant. Perfect end to a great day in the saddle and I finally got the post-ride beer I’ve been trying to do for
6 8 months now. Good times!
Numbers: time riding 9:45’ | miles – 131 | mv average – 13.4 | elev gain – 8040′ — I thought this was high when I looked at the unit after the ride, but it matches up with my elevation numbers from the last time.
Photos: No photography. Just trying to survive this month.
Last week was pretty decent at work. I had some challenges at my job that I rolled through and I was looking forward to enjoying a long weekend where I left my projects behind and just relaxed. I’d been too busy to check in on the weather but was optimistic nonetheless. Just as I was wrapping up and getting ready to leave Thursday evening that line of nasty thunderstorms started to roll through. I sat in the breezeway of my building for 10 minutes or so waiting. The worst of it looked like it passed and I knew if I waited too much longer I’d miss my train so I headed towards St. Paul street. Coming down the south side of campus and coasting through one of the walkways near the Charles St. construction everything was wet, but felt normal otherwise–until my front wheel suddenly stopped and I kept going. There was a dip between 2 uneven sections in the sidewalk obscured by a giant puddle and in a split second I was flying over the bars. My forearms and elbows evenly caught the first 30% of my weight and my torso caught the rest. in a split second I knew my weekend was shot.
I’ve dodged 1,000,000 potholes on that little folding bike. Although it rides well on a good day, when it wanted to stop the combination of small wheels, short wheelbase and high center of gravity caught me totally off guard. I peeled myself off the concrete a second later stumbling around in the rain and having a hard time breathing for the first minute. Walked it off and decided to aim for the shuttle stop at Barnes & Noble to catch the a ride to Penn Station and missing it by ‘that’ much. Good news is it’s downhill nearly the whole way so I coasted there half afraid for my life on a bike for the first time in who knows how long. I arrived at Penn Station (right behind the shuttle I missed btw) only to find out that the train was delayed AGAIN and I ended up waiting for it in wet shorts for over an hour. I totally get why people put up with driving to work because the train is really starting to piss me off. After all that pretty much any weekend would be good.
Friday – good time with family around the house. I wasn’t in the greatest shape but had enough energy to run the grill and have a few hard ciders. Saturday – hanging out with friends at their house which was nice. That night I was out in the garage and thought to myself it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go for a little ‘recovery ride’ in the morning. I went to get a bike down from the ceiling rack and my core felt like it was torn up just trying to lift it off the hooks. If it is too tough to pick a bike up maybe it would be a bad idea to try and ride one…
I sat around today, took care of cooking for the week and some other chores. Jen did everything she could to keep my spirits up even though I kept telling her it hurt like hell to laugh. I was being a bit of a tool this weekend so I deserved some of it.
Glad it was good weekend weather for the rest of you. Hope you all got out for some great riding. Looks like it’ll be another July of me following the Tour de France. I’ve been through worse and I’ll be back soon.