Pancake Intercept 2015

Bob held a ramble ride out to Union Bridge yesterday. If you missed it, you missed out. 5th trip around the pancake loop for me. Fantastic weather, good company and the best roads in the Baltimore area made for a great day of riding after what seemed like an endless winter.

IMG_3121We met up at Starbucks.

IMG_3134Andrew, John and I made a great sweep team for the beginning half of the ride.

IMG_3138We made it to Union Bridge in time for some breakfast…

IMG_3138 - Version 2Closeup of the last shot. I produced a set of spoke cards for this ride and had a great time with it! Here’s a full size shot of the art…
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IMG_3140Then we rode some more. John peeled off for Westminster…

IMG_3144Andrew bumped into some wildlife…

We made it back to Baltimore in one piece. Beer and a bit of dinner with Andrew and Bob – new NEW best day ever. Only 1 complication–before the ride I noticed a bent/torn tooth on my big ring. I bent it straight and it bent back within 25 miles. I had to trim my shifts differently and it clicky-clicked all afternnoon, but the ride wasn’t ruined by it. I swapped it out for the 48 tooth ring I stripped off the trucker a few months back today and it’s rolling again. Not shifting the greatest–works for now. Time to get geared up for Monument to Monument!

Permalink to my photos HERE. Bob’s photos can be seen HERE.
Bob’s Writeup HERE.
100 miles even – 7744′ elevation – 12.4 moving average

Winter Wrap

Been a while. I haven’t been riding that much and am pretty much forever finished building bikes. Gotta have something to talk about before I write something… Took a vacation over Christmas break from work and did some drawing for the first time in about 15 years. My degree is in illustration. Did you know that? Maybe. I’ve mentioned it here and there to folks, but other than that it hasn’t been a focus since I fell in with advertising agencies and started doing production–before I started doing i.t. support–before I started doing web development… You get the idea. Anyway, 2014 was the first year since graduation where I wasn’t overwhelmed with 1 thing or another. It was supposed to be ‘the year’ to do great things and work on some side projects with the intent of going back and taking stock of some of the stuff that I’ve learned along the way and let go. Good intentions, but it kind of fell flat with a bit of injury, illness, work stress and other junk. Normally I work a bit over the holiday and catch up while nobody is in. This year I stopped everything for 12 days and just drew. Nothing good, nothing important, just did. Even on the days I didn’t want to. When I was burnt out I’d practice the guitar or go for quick spins on the trainer.

IMG_2990January 1 sunrise for y’all — here’s to new beginnings…

We were at the beach with friends over New Years. The one afternoon I was doodling in a sketchbook and a friend of about 10 years looked over my shoulder and said “oh, I didn’t know you could draw… That’s pretty good.” Yeh. Gonna do more of that. I stole my wife’s folder and went for 1 ride ‘downey ocean’.

IMG_3021Big wheels and little wheels

I’ve been commuting since I fixed up the trucker with new brakes and some Schwalbe Studs but that has mostly been it. This time last year I was part of a weight loss challenge at work, down about 15 pounds from my current weight and training just about every evening in one way or another. My little art experiment worked well and I’ve been productive again. The other edge of that blade is that I’ve been sitting at a desk with all the time I’d normally be riding. IRONY. What additional riding has been done is described below with 4000 words worth of pictures…

IMG_3061Velo Rando on my shortie ramble ride 2/1

Started out at about 23-25°. My toes were blue by the time I got back to the house after 20ish miles. Totally worth it. After 30 minutes of walking around to jump-start the circulation in my feet, I got back on the bike, rolled over to the Bob Evans 1/2 mile away and had a cup of coffee while the guys finished their pancakes. Went on Amazon that afternoon and brought a box of toe warmers.

IMG_3074Pugsley on a snow day

We got–what–6-10 inches of snow last week? Noice. After the first round of snow shoveling I took some time to roam around on the unplowed roads near home. Good times.

IMG_0579Andrew stops for a break with me on the March Ramble

Even with the snow it was 50 degrees on Sunday and we rode a March ramble with Bob and the guys. I chose not to ride studs. The first 15 miles in the pre-dawn thaw were nail-biters but with a little caution all was well. Starting with coffee in Hampden and stopping afterwards at the Dizz for 1.5 beers I ended up with about 74 miles for the day. We ate lunch in Mt Airy. I rode most of the day with Andrew who suffered from cramps a bit. Still a really good pacer for me. I was finally able to put words to what has bothered me so much about the Frederick route. It’s hilly, but none of the hills are real beasts, it’s just 40 miles of little inclines which chip away at my soul. There’s a net elevation loss on the way home, but by then the damage is done. I kept it together ok and the huge tailwind was a perk. The only problem I had was with my bike…

IMG_3079The Damage

Just over the newly constructed Frederick Rd. bridge at 695, something got lodged in my back fender causing it to crumple up like a soda can. I popped the back wheel off and after a few minutes of tweaking the fender with some pliers we were ready to go. It’ll never be purdy again. Seeing the way this self destructed, my horror at ruining a set of flared Honjos is tempered by the fact that…

  1. this happened at low speed
  2. it was the back wheel.

I got off easy. A sensible purchase of a set of SKS longboards with break-away mounts is in my future.

More commentary on the March ramble available at Bob’s blog HERE.

I took a few photos along the way and you can see them here with better-than-normal commentary.

Till next time…

better Craic

Bob worked up a really great new route with the B&A. I was getting in from that day almost exactly 1 week ago now. Not much time to write about it, but this route is a winner. Sunday was a great day to ride as well. Ken & I carpooled to the start and met up at 7 for coffee with some of the other guys before a quick bolt to the official start. From the chatter on the forum beforehand it sounded like a few were scared off by the wind. We had tailwinds or crosswinds at worst for the entire trip south. By the time we turned around the front slowed and the headwinds weren’t as daunting for the return trip as we were expecting.

15832109740_a61b238670_zWashington Monument start…

15833621917_a579637cd0_zWe visited Sandy Point State Park and saw the bay bridge…

15993582706_0818d7e4cc_zThen we all posed for a picture at Thomas point State Park…

16017418221_1be147ae84_zThen Ken and I got lost 100 yards in the woods like a few weeks ago…

15397120384_bfab2e7b3d_z    And then had some brunch at Fado…

We took a few breaks here and there. We lost our battle with the daylight and the dyno lighting on the Rando worked great. Ken and I were moving at our own pace and got back as a group of 2 with enough time to have a beer and some wings at ‘the dizz’ before heading home.

See Bob’s writeup here: and photos here:

My full photoset here:

Best day ever. 100 miles — 4700′

November Dump

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been plugging along, but writing has not been on my hot list of things to do. If you rely on feeds to notice things changing then you didn’t see anything in the last month or so. A few pictures found their way over to flickr, but nothing else of consequence has happened via the internet. Quite frankly, when I went on the November ramble, it knocked the wind out of me both literally and figuratively. That is no reflection on Bob’s route. The cue was excellent and the sights I saw were fantastic. Everything was in the right place. There were good friends, good route, good weather, no mechanicals and no injuries. If it wasn’t mental fortitude, the only other scapegoat was personal suckage plain and simple. Most likely the problem I had was just a strength to weight ratio that had me dragging the back of the pack. It also could have been due to wardrobe problems. I took a rare lead when the group stopped to deal with a flat tire early on. Stopping wasn’t an option for me because I started overheating within 2 minutes and knew that if I let myself sweat too much I’d have the chills for the next 78 miles. I did stop around quite a few corners for photos. The reservoir was quiet and beautiful. Sure enough, the group caught and dropped me climbing out of the reservoir. Even though that experience is old hat for me, I was affected for some reason on that particular Sunday and never fully recovered mentally. I caught up at the rest stop right around the same time that they were getting ready to leave. The 10 miles after the convenience store were much like the 10 proceeding it. Less than 1000 yards from the PA line, I stopped at an intersection, looked at my phone to see which was the easiest way to break for the trail and cut my losses. Andrew had seen me go the wrong way and chased me down (sorry for running you out of your way btw). I told him what was up and we parted ways after well wishes. It was sad, but also the right decision. The trail miles and urban return was just enough riding for me to swallow and I got back to the truck with little more than a few random leg cramps and 2 minutes of stretching/walking here and there. I still dunno for sure what happened, but by the time I got through my 80 miles/4600 feet for the day I was ready to throw in the towel and sell my bikes outright. Crazy huh? Didn’t feel it at the time. I threw my pictures up on Flickr and vowed never to speak of it again.

The despair didn’t last for long and I was back in the saddle only a week or 2 later. In email exchanges with Ken I told him my tales of woe and we agreed to go out. He had a route entitled Beefshack II (sorry vegetarians) which had us stopping for lunch at a pit beef stand on the 4 corners intersection. The day started out cold and wet. It probably didn’t get any worse but it certainly didn’t get any better. We rode north on Old York (?) and headed towards the trail. Ken had us going up Wesley Chapel but mistakenly turned us left at the ‘t’ when we should have gone right on Shepperd. We stopped at Monkton Station and debated backtracking to make up our miles eventually deciding to head north on the flats instead. We exited on Blue Mountain Rd.–my new litmus test for over-the-top short sharp climbs with +376 feet elevation change in 1.1 miles. Ken as always was in his comfort zone talking away but I was taking deep heavy breaths trying to not go anerobic for the last 1/3. He coaxed me on with some healthy encouragement. I wasn’t thinking about stopping but it was well timed as a boost for more than just that hill. I’ve heard his voice reverberating in my head on every ride since at some point so thanks again. To get back to the trail there’s a big descent and then ANOTHER hill. Then rather than heading for the flats we CROSSED the trail and headed east on Hunters Mill Rd. At the start I looked ahead and saw a side street called “Bacon Rd.” with a sign below it that said “no outlet”. “Wonder where that goes?” We didn’t know, but with a meat-themed ride we were obligated to find out. Climbing up a few more ridiculous hills led us to the logical conclusion — a cul-de-sac with little more than a path of matted down leaves going off in 1 direction between 2 houses…

15870836581_4f90723e65_z…Ken was not fazed and kept rolling in the same direction. We wandered off for a few 100 yards until I finally said “can’t go any further” knowing too well that I would go the distance on this trail and then not have enough gas to get me back to civilization. On the return trip to pavement Ken diverted again. I followed him down this rocky trail which he was “sure led back down to the NCR trail”. I had my doubts (and for once was correct – I looked at the gps track later and if we had kept going in the same direction we would have run parallel with the trail through about 1 mile of forest.) Turning around we resolved to explore another day with fatter tires and less ambitious of a route outside of Bacon. Back on the main road we shuttled up and down hills along what for me were mostly roads I had been on before. We made one more revision on the cue to avoid having to climb the full length of Paper Mill with 50mph traffic bearing down on us all the while. Those final 15 miles were uneventful. I got a little cranky in the home stretch but wasn’t so insufferable that Ken has stopped talking to me. Before we knew it we were lunching it up. All was good, but stopping to eat outside in 40 degree weather with a 15mph wind wasn’t the best plan. After about 4 minutes, the shakes set in. Mercifully, the owner started a small fire for us.

15847009086_fce3e92449_zKen found out she was an old classmate from high school and they talked about old times for 15 minutes or so while I slowly forgot about what it was like to have fingers I could feel. After lunch we headed straight back to his house and hung out for a little bit watching the game while I warmed myself sitting right next to his pellet stove. Good Day. I was cooked but not destroyed by the experience. 44.5 miles and 4323 feet.

The next weekend I was trying to keep the momentum. Ken was busy with a Goruck event so I pulled myself out of bed and started riding towards the city. I remember stepping in the kitchen and gazing listfully at my french press. Nope… put on your cycling shorts and then if you don’t go riding you’re just a guy who likes walking around the house in tights. The questioning of my sanity continued south through Kingsville…

15250513214_80e9a99285_z…into Middle River when I got to the point where all my bailouts were gone and finding my way home would be more effort than just riding the route as cued. Baltimore is a great destination on days like that because it’s pretty much all downhill until you’re as far south as you’re going to go. It’s also great because I love riding around the city when 95% of the world is asleep. 25 miles in and I was awake for the climb north through the city. Once I’d had my coffee, coasted north through the business corridor and up the trail to White Hall I was refreshed enough to climb some extra hills and visit south Jarretsville before looping home. 87.9 miles for the day, 5267 feet of climbing and a respectable pace (but not so respectable as to brag about it here)

Last but not least, I finally broke the custom mount I fabricated 3 years ago. It was an accident where I grabbed the gps while trying to lift pugsley out of the truck bed when I was camping in October. It was fixed before the Beefshack ride–unfortunately I used a different kind of plastic which disintegrated on it’s maiden voyage. RE-re fixed it using steel and it’s been good to go for the last 190…

15250516164_14ed2b2284_zThat’s about it for November. Now I’ll be caught up once I can find the time to slap some pictures on this post and write about the Ramble last Sunday…

45 miles into the wind

It would take a pretty decent day to make me want to bump last weekend down the page on my blog. I’ve been a little lax about weekend rides lately. I get the idea to go somewhere, and I wake up on time, but frankly just make my coffee and get to work on one of my projects around the house. I checked in with Ken mid-week about schedules for the coming weeks and he said he was good to go for a ride on Sunday. I of course can’t say no so to him so it was on!

This morning I got up normal time and was listening to the wind kick the house around for 2+ hours wondering what I had gotten myself in to. Around 9:30 Ken showed up, we got our stuff together and headed out before we could think it over too much.

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If Harford County had a fondue ride this route would be a pretty good starting point. Climbing, gravel, climbing on gravel, more climbing… Maybe 20 minutes after this photo we were heading down a fairly steep hill near the northern most point in our route and I was DOWN-gearing while pedaling because the headwind was so strong. Fortunately the hills and wind cancelled each other out in at least a few places and winds didn’t turn on us at any point. It did whip around from quite a few directions.

IMG_2693We took a break in horse country to get out of the wind for a few minutes… There were a few places we could cut it short but were having enough fun to resist temptation.

IMG_2695Ken sprints along Bottom Rd. for a bit. I think that’s what he was going for in this pic…

The wind was still pummeling the back of the house when we got back so we hung out in the garage and had a few beers. 44.6 miles — 5621 feet by the Garmin and 4787 by RWGps.

Mini-Update

Everything has been crazy busy lately. I haven’t been riding much outside my commute but I did get out for a little stuff here and there.

Early October we rode the Bike Doctor Frederick Grand Fondue. This year’s route was just as great as last year. I wasn’t really awake or into it and even spent 1/3 of it thinking about cutting the 50 short. Ken kept me in the loop long enough to wake up and by the end of the first and worst climb I was ready for even more (well almost). The Warbird ripped. Wish I could have done it justice by not walking a stretch of that first hill. 50 miles, a chicken/spinach crepe from the food truck and a glass of mead. Pretty good day. Here’s some pics: Grand Fondue Flickr.

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Last weekend I got out for one of my best trips in recent memory. I’d wanted to do one more bike trip before the parks closed down for the season around here but it didn’t happen. I picked up a Hennessy Hammock this month on sale and decided to take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather to give it a shot. I took an extra day off of work and headed out Sunday afternoon once I finished my work around the house for 2 nights and 1 day at the beach. BEST IDEA EVER. I was glad I didn’t go on Saturday night because the park was about 90% full with walk-ins and it would have been nowhere near as peaceful. Here, look at some pics: Cape Henlopen Flickr. I had loaded up tents and extra sleeping bags in the truck in case the hammock didn’t work out but it was all unnecessary. Sunday and Monday night were the best nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had this year. Add to that bumming around on the surf, riding around the trails, plus ‘exploring’ down to Bethany and I’ll be dreaming about this trip till March or whenever the parks are open and nightly lows are over 35 again…

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While at the beach I did my first 2 coffeeneurs – one on a Monday and the other on Tuesday morning so of course they don’t count but I wasn’t too concerned. Quality over quantity these days for me.

Number 1 – I took Pugsley out onto the surf along with the old whisperlite stove and my coffee gear. I rode around on the beach until I found the best spot. I poured the water while it was a little hot and forgot to temper the grounds so the drink was bitter. When the view is this nice I couldn’t really bring myself to care.

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Number 2 – The view was so nice and it was so peaceful that I went to the same breaker Tuesday. Technically it was a different location because I sat on a different rock–the ‘coffeeneur without walls’ equivalent of ‘stopping in the starbucks across the street from the other starbucks’. I was going to ride into Rehoboth and pick up a muffin for breakfast but got 3/4 of the way there and realized I left my wallet back in the truck. Doop. I didn’t need the pastry anyway.

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These coffeeneurs brought to you by Snow Peak. I brought a French Press for camping years back and was severely disappointed with it. No matter how coarse of a grind I used every cup was super muddy and undrinkable. It had a 2 layer screen (wire mesh and nylon layer). If I took the nylon layer off the grounds would squirt past the seal at the rim because there wasn’t enough pressure. If I left it on it would squirt through because it took too much pressure to plunge it. It was worthless as a coffee press and even worthless as a paperweight because it’s made out of titanium so in the basement it sat because I couldn’t in good conscience sell it to someone else knowing full well it sucked. Last month I had an idea to fix it…

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I cut out the area of the nylon mesh in the center and left the ring around the outside.

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There’s still a little bit of cruft at the bottom but none less than my home french press and definitely manageable. I’d still take instant or buy coffee in shops for a long trip because I’m too obsessed about cleanliness to drink out of a half-dirty pot for a 5 day trip. Now I’ve got a good system for the occasional trip into the woods so +1.