Gifford Pinchot Car Camping

Ken and I broke away from everyday life for a few hours last weekend:

Just a bit less than 24 hours away at Gifford Pinchot. We took the car this time because 1) We would have spent the entire time on the road if we s240’ed it and 2) I’m unfamiliar with routes that far north. We had considered a redux of our trip to Henlopen from last fall. Unfortunately, they are closed for renovations and I didn’t have the free time to take a day off anyway. This was a nice alternative. I believe they have put in some new mountain bike trails since I was last there and we were out for an hour or 2 Saturday after we set up the tents. There were a few occasions where we got confused by the markings as to which way bikers were allowed but we kept speeds down and tried to be courteous to hikers. All was good.

Sleeping was borderline cold. I had my bag zipped up to my face and 3 layers on all night. Slept well. Ken, not so much and I was selling him on a slightly thicker sleep pad in the morning. The packed gravel camping pad probably didn’t help him any.

In the morning we set another fire, cooked some breakfast and broke camp in time for me to get home and do all my weekly chores. Ken didn’t feel like driving on 83 so he mapped a back route which looked to be a great extension from York to the park. I’ll need to do more reconnaissance work as I think I have a good route for bike camping next year.

Life is busy, but good.

Green Mountain Loop

I haven’t written much at all in the last 3 months. I’ve been riding, but it’s all been in circles. Recycled circles. Part of writing this blog and riding in Baltimore over the last few years has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’ve met a lot of great friends. On the other side, I’ve had to come to grips with what I’ve termed my “low normal.” I busted ass by my own metric training this summer in preparation for what happened last week. No matter how much riding I do it never seems to be enough to effectively catch up to the awesome I’m surrounded by and ride “fast”. The good side of the equation is that I found last week I can tour through east coast mountains for 4 days with all my junk and come out the other side still wanting to ride bikes the next week. My job changed too. That’s been good for commuting but when it comes to free time–not so great. Any extra energy has been shuttled away from writing and posting into “real” things.

Anyway, last Saturday, Andrew and I caught the Amtrak Vermonter north and met Adrian in Burlington to set off on an augmented version of the Adventure Cycling Green Mountain loop.

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Weather was great, it only rained once and 90% of it was while we were sitting at lunch. Adrian had to back out 50% of the way through because of some knee pain. He turned lemons into lemonade by renting a panel van on the fly at a local enterprise and shadowing us for the second half. We had planned on arriving back in Burlington after 5 days of riding but decided to skip the slog across suburbia. In lieu of riding Thursday, we visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory and hung out in Burlington for half a day. So much adventure. So many side stories that will never make it to the page. I could talk your ear off for an hour so let’s go for a ride and if you go slow enough to stay in earshot I’ll tell you some stories.

Days: 4
Trip Odometer:
307 miles
Elevation: 20267′
Photos: In the Flickr Gallery. LOTS more.
GPS data: track 1, track 2, track 3, track 4, track 5, track 6, track 7

Another Wheel Build

I do these frequently enough to be able to make a strong finished project that rides straight and infrequently enough that I always screw up lacing somewhere between the second and fourth course making me backtrack for a half an hour. I set up my camera to take pictures at intervals but had to shut it off in the middle for a few minutes so my lip-syncing curse words wasn’t recorded for all eternity.

I was going to post the video here but apparently WordPress makes it more difficult than it should be so click here to see it.

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If I hadn’t been so obsessed about rim weight when building the rando and laced a dyno wheel on something that would handle a mid-30’s tire (unlike open pros) this wouldn’t even have been necessary. Live and learn.

new old stock

I dug around in the basement storage and finally finished a project a few years in the making correctly…

I picked up a matching small saddlebag in tweed back when I brought the little tweed bread loaf for the front of the Randonneur. Mostly I brought it because it looked like a short run that they’d never reproduce. It never saw the light of day because of a few problems that I never worked out. The two biggest issues were the lack of loops on my Brooks pro special and that it would block my tail light in its original mount location. I’d created several versions of bag quick releases in the past, though none of them ever worked out to my satisfaction. A week or 2 ago I revisited my old experiments, worked out the problems I had with the designs and added a light mount killing my 2 problem birds with one stone. Monday ride last week worked as a nice successful test. Also successful in test was the blue padded basket I sewed an equally long time ago for my dslr with a medium lens. I’ve been trying to get more use out of that lately too.

Michaux Gravel Grinder

Andrew had the good idea to ride some gravel today…

38 miles | 4520′ | maybe more words later. I gotta sleep now…

…While riding we joked about how these things happen. He’s been excited about riding out in Michaux for a while now. On Thursday or Friday he emailed our regular group and tossed the idea of driving out there a go. I was a little sketched out about the elevations but didn’t want to squash his enthusiasm so I “checked YES” and sent a reply. I went back to look at the RWGPS track and immediately started to regret my decision. These mixed feelings of excitement and regret continued straight up through the moment when we started to pedal away from the car. Andrew told me he was going through a similar process of hesitation and unwillingness to back out after he sent his original invite. Shout out to great friends with crazy ideas because if it wasn’t for that I’d probably never get to the trailhead by myself. Once on the bike we were greeted with some of the most gorgeous (and brutal) terrain I’ve ever ridden through. The mystery person who designed this 80/20% unpaved/paved route really had us off the beaten path…

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We’d be rolling along on some beautiful well-maintained back road and the gps would ding. Off to the left there would be a barrier with a muddy double track fire road. This happened more times than I could count. The one road was muddy-fresh from the rain and barely passable (documented in photos 8 & 9 above). The crushed rocky section I took a picture of was actually the EASIEST part. For most of it I was caught in a muddy tire rut pedaling for my life. I said to my self “Self, you can take a picture if you have to clip out but until then keep pedaling.” Somehow I made it through in one piece without stopping.

Around mile 22 we were on a screaming descent for what felt like forever. Half-way down I started to think “This is going to hurt.” Lucky for us the worst of the pain was on the rutted paths and 11% grades behind us. At the bottom, I looked at my map screen and realized that we were basically going to climb straight back up the same mountain on another pass. Going was much smoother here and when we finished descending a second time we were nearly home. There was an on-road stretch at the bottom of the loop that was flat/rolling. Knowing we were about 5 miles from the car I hit it as hard as I could. I wish I had left a little gas in the tank because at the very end there was about 2 miles and 300 feet of climbing–just enough to completely finish me for the day. We changed out of the muddiest of our clothes and hit the road with time to grab lunch/dinner in Frederick and be home long before sundown.

Thanks again Andrew for making me work for my Saturday. It was a blast!