Sunday, January 24, 2016

Big (Bend) Thoughts

I feel to be in a period of transition. Perhaps more to come at some point. I saw this image and it immediately nudged me an inch closer to a position- mental, spiritual, physical-, some kind of position where I need to be, to strive towards.  Just a thought.

Thanks, Justin, for the inspiration. Blog about Big Bend, TX area found here.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mas snowfatcold

I met Timothy at Please&ThankYou for a cup, and for me one of their excellent egg bagels, before we headed out on the early edge of our next snow-ing, billed this time as a potential storm between 1" and 12". Yes, you read that right. Anyway, it was snowing.

Timothy brought his Orbea 27.5+ bike to try in the snow for the first time, while I was again on the Mukluk, whose tires were I'm guestimating at 8psi or so. We plowed the bumpy trail our the Riverwalk towards Shawnee. In this section, Timothy was stronger than I and I think having more fun than I. Pushing the knobby Nates over long flat sections (long is relatively here) is not particularly enjoyable. As we began to explore the Shawnee/Portland river bottoms area the Nates sprang to life, so to speak. Noodling and Toodling around at 3mph with an extra grippy footprint seems to be what the Mukluk is made for, while Timothy was consistently losing grip with his mild knobbed 3" tires (sorry, don't remember make). We explored a bit until Timothy's cleats were entirely frozen up. After fortunately retrieving a missing coffee thermos, we wended through the woods a bit more and began to head back. At the flood wall under I-64 I borrowed Timothy's pump to boost my pressure a bit and basically tore the valve stem inner stem off (whatever it's called), but low and behold the tire held air. I assume there was some frozen stuff in there aiding my cause. We trudge back in increasing snows and wind, eventually popping over to River Rd. to avoid the snow drifting o the Riverwalk. A beverage and hot food melted our frozen edges and topped off a fun day. This made for the 3rd snow ride in a row, all with different shoe combinations. The zipper on the Wed boots (my favorite broke, begetting the Oboz boots, begetting the new Shimano bikepack boots, all with weaknesses.  Maybe I'm the weak link. I hate cold toes.

Snow Ohio River scene.

Frozen face selfie. Googles this time, but same hat.

Portland/Shawnee river bottoms. This area had scene much ATV/truck/4x4 activity, making for ruts that Timothy found difficult with his level of tire grip.

Drive home not so rosy for the Mukluk wheels. Even worse (not shown) was the frozen front mechanism on the rack. I engineered a questionable solution with a small bungee. I got home in tact, so I guess it was good enough.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First Snow Fattie '16

Is started snowing around 3am, so by the time I awoke at 4.45am to check on school status they had already cancelled. I tried to go back to sleep, but to no avail. Eventually still under the cover of darkness I hit the ol' fatbike, for the first time in while. I managed to stay out for 3hrs. Although I didn't do much mileage, it felt good to manage temps at 21F and to pedal for a long time. Below is my account.

 Seneca golf course is always fun

 Along Beargrass Creek as the light begins to increase bit by bit.

Seneca Golf Course singletrack. I only did a portion. 

Further into Cherokee trails. I dabbled and explored but don't consider it much of a trail session. 

Bad pic, but a cold, wet Blue Heron along Beargrass Trail. He set to flight shortly after this. For as large as they are, they tend to be nervous, although a bit less so than Kingfishers.


New bridge behind old bridge

Mukluk along the riverfront. It was sorta snowy at this point. I was comfortable until my hands got a bit cold about here.

Love this pic, the snow, the river, the RR bridge. Oh, and the green grocery cart.

Legit ice beard at my coffee stop at McQuixote down in Portland

My original plan was to travel down to the Shawnee river trails area for some exploration. At this point after coffee I had been out for two hours and had around an hour to get home at the substantial mph I was managing, so I turned for the barn. I stopped at OYLC on the way home for some bike BS and even briefly test-rode a 27.5+ Scott, which I had to say tracked better in the snow than the Muk. Less rubber though. It was a great day on the bike, and apparently I might have another opportunity on Friday as we get another system.

Additionally, viewing passively:
Great Blue Heron
Northern Cardinal
American Tree Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow
some other LBJs
Dark-eyed Junco
Downy Woodpecker
other ducks along river
Ring-billed Gull
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Mourning Dove
Eastern Towhee
Carolina Wren
Carolina Chickadee

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 Highlights

In no particular order:

  • 4510 miles- my highest mileage year ever. I had a slow-ish start to the year but finished quite strongly, totaling 3400 miles since the beginning in June.
  • The "Most Trips" award goes to the JonesATB with 52 trips, and that is from early August. I had a really nicely balanced year of bike usage with 6 different bikes with 30 or more trips. Share the wealth. The "Most Mileage" award rightfully goes to the IF with 908 miles. 
  • In February I picked up an amazing new ride, My Jones Diamond+Truss. My previous mtbike rig was a 10yrold Cannondale that had seen its better days. I wanted something fun, interesting, and capable on the trails and I found it in spades with the Jones. I love the Jones. It makes me want to ride the bike, which I think is the point. My trails rides increased significantly with this new rig, and my long-term ambitions are that much greater with its capabilities. AZT? CT? Maah Daah Hey? Big Bend?

  • In August, heavily influenced with my love of the truss Jones, I got another Jones, this time a steel unicrown Jones ATB. I love the Jones' position, security, footprint, comfort, comfort, comfort. I loved it so that I wanted to translate that feeling onto all aspects of my riding, not just on the trails. I didn't want to have to constantly bounce between set-ups. I wanted to jump on and use it, so Jones for trail, Jones for everything else. I was also influenced by an article I saw in Bicycle Times, a review of a "Jones ATB" as a city/tour/trail, as the article states, "anything short of road racing". Jeff Jones himself is also marketing his machines in this way, obviously trying to expand into new markets.

  • The most memorable cycling experience of the year was our DBNF modified bikepack all-terrain tour in June. Again Patrick and I visited that area as we had done in previous years. We spent 4 days on a mixture of pavement, forest, gravel, trail, 4x4, and bushwack. Write-ups can be found for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. If I could capture the essence of cycling in a bottle of magical elixir, it would be the 15 or so miles of ridge-running on day two, paved mind you. Empty roads, great flow, good company, good temps. What it's all about.

Found this spot nestled deep in Rockcastle Co., KY. This is my off-the-grid dream.
  • While not "epic", our S24O to Lake Shelby on my birthday weekend was deeply satisfying. I felt great on the bike both days, slept great, and generally had a wonderful time exploring this new doable campsite.

  • In keeping with the theme of bike camping and such, the Ferdinand SF camp-and-bike in February was another highlight. We car camped on a very cold night and the rode FSF's old-school trails. Other than belching a rear tubeless tire that I'm still confused about, it was a fun first test for the Jones.

  • Yet another off-road ride of note was my and Dave's another round of DBNF exploration in January. I had forgotten this trip a bit until looking back, but the memories and textures remain strongly embedded, aka I liked that ride a lot, a whole lot. And the Mukluk was entirely in its element.

  • My mileage was predicated mostly on small and medium trips, but I did pull off a nice Spring Break 70 from the in-laws down to Lexington. I felt so beat up the last 15 miles of that ride, but it was a fun experience and the longest ride of the year.
  • Another memorable road day was my "Sunday Service" ride with a mix of local strong riders I sort of know. It was a fast 50-miler on which I sucked every wheel I could find. For them it was just a random semi-easy training day. For me it was proof that I could attain another level of fitness if I really applied myself. 
  • Louisville hosted the NAHBS show in March in the middle of an enormous last season storm. Incredibly, I never did a post of pics from the show. Weird. I volunteered to work the door and later even wrote some copy on adventure bikes. I don't remember where that article ended up. Suffice to say that was an excellent bike weekend, albeit in 10" of snow which basically shut the city down.
  • And finally, I can't say much more than that we all lost a great person in Drew in June. He inspired me to ride 3 BiketoBeatCancer rides, including the one this year with a sizable group of his former classmates. He was a good man, a good friend, and an inspiration regardless of activity. I am better for having know him and spent time riding bikes with him on his quest. Peace, my friend.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 end-of-year bric-a-brac

I'll do one of my handy dandy "Best of" posts soon, but I want to take some time to assess things first. Of note, though, is that 2015 was my biggest mileage year ever. I did a 32-miler today, giving me 4510 for the year. I made mention last year of wanting to supersede 5k, which I didn't achieve, but I'm very happy with my results.  It's been a big bike stable year as well, which I'm sure inspired some of my road time, so I need to supply some information on those changes too.

I'm trying to clean up the moribund blog as well. I've been posting for 10 years now, but if you look around, the blogworld is dying on the vine. I suspect the same reasons I'm not blogging dictate why other folks aren't blogging either: lack of time, lack of content, changing "social media" values and platforms, more activity and less talking about activity.  For me, I fear that fewer folks are posting and reading, so I'm inclined to write less as well. I use a rss feed reader on my tablet to keep up with blog traffic, but I don't like it that much and its quirks don't allow for easy commenting. Just now I deleted the "blogs" links on the blog sidebar because so many of them were hopelessly out of date. People change. Platforms change. Interests change. But it doesn't mean that I'm not interested in what Pondero, AMidnightRider, or Doug (Who is back!) are doing on bikes. The blog flow has just changed.  One goal for the depths of winter is to clean the blog presentation up and rebuild my blog list with blogs that are interesting, active, and reflect my current interests.

Hope 2015 was a fulfilling year for you and that 2016 is full of fun, satisfying plans.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crosswalk Ramble

It's winter break, i.e. Christmas break, so amid family, food, more food, even more food, friends, and frivolity, I've been trying to get out and ride my bike(s), to reasonably good effect. Temps have been above normal, although the recent rains have dampened things a bit. Yesterday (Tuesday), I heeded the call of a "meet-up" email to go on an urban ramble marketed for mountain bikes. Barturtle, Micah, and Stephanie joined to became a peloton of 5 with a route designed and captained by Mark, with whom I rode on Barturtle's gravel ride back a few weeks ago. Mark's goal was to visit some new areas and cross several pedways over Shawnee/Watterson Expressway. We totaled 35 miles on the ride and four of us finished with a nice (albeit slow) lunch at Game . I had the Angus burger b/c I'm too cheap to pay $18 for a damn hamburger. Both the sandwich and fries were good, though. With the ride there, mileage for the day totaled 42, which I'm really pleased with. Some images:

Our weather has been wet but not dangerous. This is an image of the 'cross park 

This is not a perfect compare but pretty close, with the 2013 river level issues at the 'Cross Worlds that year. I think it would be a bigger problem now.

 Crossing I-64 at Lannan Park

Lannan Park crossing looking west 

 Really cool mosaic house deep in the West End. Not sure I could find it on a map.

 Really ugly, brutal house in the West End.

 Crossing the Watterson at Watterson Lake Park in Shively

Attempting to capture an interesting industrial line. Don't think it worked. 

Crossing main L&N railroad artery at Louisville Ave. 

I missed pics at the Southern Middle School (it has a different name now, but I'm old school) and Hill St. crossings, but I suspect everybody will live. I'm also trying to play with some new video options, but am not yet ready to publish  (aka I don't know what I'm doing).  Suffice to say, though, it was a really, really nice day on the bike even if my toes and hands got cold from the headwind. Thanks for the route, Mark.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Some 2015 highlights

Sr. Smith is a little down these days, so I'm going to post some outside pics to pick me up. Hope they pic you up as well.

Lake Shelby S24O in November

Casey County in September

Somewhere in DBNF in June

Crossing the Rockcastle River watching the swallows in June

Rockcastle River ford near Livingstone, KY in June

PJ with a morning crossing before a hot, long day in June

In terms of "flow", maybe the best hour of cycling of 2015 along the gentle downhill of Carpenter Ridge Rd. near S-Tree in June.

Looking for rustic roads we found them in spades along Wild Horse Creek in DBNF near S-Tree in June.

Ferdinand SF overnight in February

In hindsight I tremendously enjoyed my DBNF ramble with Mr.Crowell in January. We covered all the bases that day, all in our own typically methodical-but-adventurous way. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lake Shelby S25O

My annual return to the starting point of the great circling globe dance was approaching, so a plan was made. No, let me back up. Yes, the birthday was approaching, and like last year, it corresponded with on the same weekend as the Ramble as hosted by the esteemed Pondero. Some initial contacts and plans were made, but then a week ago my lower back got tweaked, making any and all sitting a real labor. Although the back has slowly improved, the thoughts of 26 hours in the car over a weekend seemed daunting to foolish, so an alternate bday bike celebration was needed. Mr. Crowell and I debated some different venues for a S24O before settling on Lake Shelby in the outlying community of Shelbyville in a campground we had never visited. It would entail a 35-mile route over some well-known (to me) roads, and as a bonus, offered us store options relatively close. A call confirmed inexpensive space ($12) and wood ($5), so a plan was hatched. Since Mr. Crowell had already taken the day off work, we wanted to make the best of it so decided to leave early enough to set up in the daylight. 

A pre-ride at our customary Twig-n-Leaf allowed us some carbo loading before embarking on a now 40-mile Fall ramble.

Nice arm, and David too. 

We realized early that conditions were in our favor, as we easily did 18mph along Taylorsville Rd in full camp mode. A strong easterly wind filled out sails on our depart and would assist us for much of the afternoon. The challenge of the route was to be found at mile 8 or so when one has to negotiate Jefferstown on the perimeter. Miles 8-10 are no more, no less, than daintily escaping the gravity of the city.

Map study found a new feature, the J'town Bike-Walk path, of which we availed ourselves. I found it unfortunate that the only users seemingly were adult male vagrants. They offered no ill will. I hope were enjoying themselves. 

Dedicated, separated bike infrastructure crossing tracks along Watterson Trail 

Soon after we found ourselves in the "country" portion of the ride, spending many miles going easty on 148. It's a road I use for my Lou-Frankfort efforts and one that led to my parents' former ranchette before its sale some 10+ years ago. It's classic, rolling KY, helped by the tailwind on this day.

A left turn onto  Olive Branch Rd. strangely informed me of a grumpy tummy, somewhat out of nowhere. I was fine. And then my stomach turned nauseous. The brief stop did allow for Mr.Crowell to catch a drink before heading north, and out of our luscious tailwind. I was worried the turn would mean a struggle. Although Zaring Mill presented a bit more traffic and some nicely lumpy rollers, the wind was a crosswind and never stuck much in our faces. We made a quick stop in Shelbyville proper for some snacks and to purchase appropriate camp libations, a key feature made easier by the 3-mile proximity of the main drag to the campground proper.

Cabras. They eyed us very circumspectly. 

We didn't buy any chicken.

Entrance to Lake Shelby.  

We found the camp manager trailer and paid for our services although I was very disappointed to find that the back portion of the primitive sites was closed for the season, thereby putting us quite close to the RV section and to civilization. While there were several RVs parked, otherwise we saw no one around, so we hoped for a quiet night a little less rustic than anticipated. We declined an initial offer of a hilltop site to instead move downhill a bit, next to the water and importantly behind an embankment and treeline, which we hoped would provide a windbreak. The tailwind we enjoyed along 148 was now buffeting the campground, concerning us that using the campstoves was going to be a challenge, much less setting up. I tucked my gear right at the base of the bank for protection. Mr. Crowell did not have guy lines.
Golden hour setting in on the plant nursery just above the campground. 

Our view of Lake Shelby from the campsite. While I was disappointed in not being able to use the more remote sites, this one afforded a great lake view and very open skies to the east and south. This view is looking almost due east.

All importantly, my camp set-up. For this S24O I decided on using the Alpkit bivy and my new BigAg Spike Lake 14, which I bought from a local establishment at a competitive price. The wind worried me, so I tucked in close to the bank and tree line and hoped for the best.

Mr. Crowell set his tent up close to mine on the far side of the fire and table.  

Basic camp was set up so Mr. Crowell set about starting a fire. Being lazy or moronic (I won't name which), we usually depend on other actors to make our fire, but on this trip credit was given to DC for getting a fire going in the windy conditions. Yes, his fire brick helped, as did the plentiful dry leaves, but WE HAD FIRE!!!!!!!! And it was needed in the crisp conditions. Some fire watching and sunset watching transitioned to food prep. I had tried to find my Esbit stove but instead brought my Trangia, but my burn time took forever. He- using his Esbit-was on his second macncheese before my water was even ready, and really the boil was mediocre one at best. None-the-less we ate- my "santa fe chicken meal" was a bit crunchier than it was supposed to be-and watched as our fire dwindled. The "armful of wood" burned quite quickly so my portion of the fire-prep was finding more shit to burn, mostly sticks and twigs and such.

Plant nursery above the lake and across the road. Very pretty in the golden light.

Camp, you know. You gotta if you can. (Modelo in case you cared. DC had a PBR. If I had seen that, it would have been my choice too)

 Crowell. Fire. Good.

A central reason I camp is the sunset and sunrise. I really groove on nature's beauty in this way. The east didn't fire in an epic way, but the subdued layers soothed.

If you embiggen you can see the crescent moon with the rest of its body on the left side. It was very impressive in full view.

The night got slightly strange as some rabblerousers showed up to play with a green laser on the water. They were to our east for a bit and then moved to the dock to our west, at one point shining it at us. Our fire had died so I don't know if they knew we were there. We hollered "Hey!" and they apologized and eventually left. What I think was the same car showed up a bit later back to the east and set up a tent at another site and again played a bit with their laser. Then, with much envy, they lit a monstrous campfire. I still wonder what they used to make such a big flame, and also wonder how it didn't burn their tent(s).

Our fire was out. We had eaten. It was cold. We went to bed, respectively of course.

Camp sleep is almost always vexing to me. I remember one night at Lago Linda after a long day in the saddle that I slept like a log for a long time. Otherwise, camp sleep involves tossing and turning, numb arms, having to pee, and generally waking up exhausted. Interestingly, this turned out not to be the case. Yes, I awoke briefly at 3.30ish to fight off having to pee. I adjusted my bivy and bag to better deal with some moisture. I watched the stars, Venus, and Mars, and then went back to sleep. I awoke at 5.30 or so and did get up, but snuggled back down in my bag and bivy, adjusted some more and peeked out to watch the stars, this time a shooting star going south towards Venus. I win! I feel back asleep.

I awoke finally at 6.30 to see some sunlight peeking up over the lake against the silhouette of the Jones.What did I say I lived for while camping? Sunsets and sunrises. I snapped a couple shots and told DC that the day was awaking. 

A new favorite shot, the morning sun barely peeking over the horizon along the lake with the Jones bar in the foreground. Yay bikes! 

The faint early morning light doesn't yet drown out Venus, and even better, Mars if you squint hard to the upper right of Venus. 

Frost-covered Jones. Excellent. 

 Good morning

Mr.Crowell's friends on the early-morning water. Better them than me, but a fisherman was already floating around at this point. 

After plenty of morning sunrise picture taking the coffee was started- using DC's Esbit Thank You!- and we fiddled with camp as well. What were to be temps in the lower 30s became temps in the upper 20s at Lake Shelby. The Nalgene bottles were mostly frozen and everything was well covered with frost. Our morning plans involved coffee and a later restaurant breakfast, so it was mostly gather and pack. An advantage of being a bit nearer to civilization was the heated washroom. It was *heat*, but it wasn't 28F either. It was good.

David from the same dock where the idiot laser people shined us. Idiots. 

Morning sun, morning cup. Yes. 

Once packed up we took a little bike stroll out to the primitive area, which also has a hiking trail of some sort. We weighed the benefits of the two areas. Privacy or bathrooms and lake view? That's a tough one.

Mixed-terrain out to primitive sites. "Squire Boone Station" buildings to the right. 

From nice, primitive sight at end of peninsula. I could camp there. 

We traversed the 4 or so chilly miles to the Waffle House where we girded our loins for a nice morning. Amazing how good Waffle House is given the grime. The previous day's trek summed some 40 miles, but day two would "cut the corner", shaving off 5 miles before reconnecting with 148 at the Jefferson County line. The Brunnerstown/TaylorWood/Veechdale roll couldn't have been much nicer, with pleasant, rolling roads, ranchettes to break the monotony, and crystal-clear blue skies. And a big And, the wind had died down from the previous night, leaving us very little headwind to put up with on the return. Generally one of us had much better legs than the other, but we ebbed and flowed and had a very nice morning roll, helped by the rising and warming sun. We started our morning below 30 but by ride's end were probably near 60.

For me this is it. A long driveway leading to a distant farm house. This is where I could make my stand. 

Wife say she's going to farm alpacas in retirement. I found some. 

JonesATB, a near perfect touring bike. Comfortable and importantly, ridiculously rock-solid while loaded. 

Tattered and broken along the old Finchville bridge. I imagine it a tavern or store for bridge-crossers. It has seen much better days.

What can I say? Once DC got in traffic he became Maniac Man, doing 18mph down Taylorsville in the opposite direction. Eventually we pulled up and headed to Breadworks for post-cup, which then became Great Flood for a post-pint. Ritual is important.

As I told David, the combination of images, conditions, fitness (I felt great on the bike the entire time), challenge, all of it combined to make this perhaps my most favorite S24O. I felt good on the bike and refreshed after sleeping on the ground in below-freezing conditions. What isn't to like? And I finished it off with a nice pint. All good.  Happy birthday to me.
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