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.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Fall 2015 S24O

It's that time of year! Seems like we- the group- have a penchant for getting out from time to time for a local S24O. There doesn't seem to be a real logic to when we go, be it February, November, or in June. Eventually folks antsy and we go, and oftentimes go to Jefferson Memorial Forest, what sometimes is called Horine due to it being a former boys scout camp, as I understand.

Given the timing Mr. Crowell left work and made his own path while Mr. Stephens and I met up in the Old Louisville area after having eaten our meals respectively, I with the wife. I guess the theme of the entire out leg was rain. And more rain. And then some rain. It was chillly-55F,  raining and we got wet. It was quite amusing (or not) that the big rotors on the BB7s on the Jones made very abrupt train-like noises, announcing "GET OUT OF MY WAY!", to all. I think I saw a couple folks in cars laugh at me. Up towards the top of Holsclaw Hill I thought I saw some blinkies in the distance and almost caught Mr. Crowell on his climb. We cruised into camp a bit wet but otherwise intact and set about setting up, made all the more interesting by the steady rain falling. Oh, and I had forgotten my headlamp, so I was setting up in the mostly dark. Fun. While Mr.Crowell and I set up tents, Mr. Stephens built a the rain. By the time I appeared from my tent- somehow set up in the dark- we had an actually fire ablazing. Very, very impressive on the part of Mr. Stephens. He wins.

The rest of the evening involved staying very close to the fire trying to dry out a bit as the rain slowly petered out. Impressively I managed to stay awake until after midnight, but none of us had the spirit to cook anything because we would have been too far from the fire.

Morning-time brought drier skies skies, and Mr.Stephens was able to get his fire going again. Impressive. We did the coffee thing, and some maybe even the breakfast oatmeal thing, although for some reason I didn't. Eventually we packed up, in strange opposition (is that the word? Backwards?) with Mr.Crowell packed up first. A first for everything.

First cup, hard to beat. Even better with 6-month-old grounds found in the garage.

The return to civilization took a turn once the rain started again. We got wet, again. It was sort of cold, again. Our path eventually ended at Twig-n-Leaf for the standards post-S24O breakfast, my favorite event of the entire process to be honest. Eggs, pancakes, and bacon hit the spot after a long night of tossing and turning. Mr.Stephen departed and Mr. Crowell and I availed ourselves of a liquid refreshment at Great Flood, thereby completing a wet, cold, smoking, but none-the-less dandy time.

The wife is bothered by the motto #outsideisfree when one is paying for a campsite and various sundries. What she doesn't realize is that fresh air, the open road under ones' own power, and a sense of accomplishment and freedom is/are what is "free". Monetarily, no, it's not free. Elbow room, yes, yes indeed.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I recently got one of these. Pretty cool so far.

  • battery life solid. I don't constantly use the "bike" feature for long trips, but have used it. I suspect it won't hold for days and days, but it doesn't suck down like a phone.
  • I like the steps feature. Seems more real-world than, say, the phone. Steps are random and not the be-all, but I think they are a good way of assessing sloth. And I'm trying to defeat sloth.
  • "Bike" gps works well. I've like using it for commutes when I'm not interested in "fitness" and extra data. I switch it on quickly, roll to work, and then turn off.
  • Comfy on the wrist.
  • Sleep feature is limited but instructive. I don't need mega-data, but sleep length is good info to have.
  • Bought the watch w/HRM strap. It's been a while since using one. I used it, for example, on a mtbike ride this weekend. I can see using it (I combined with Edge500, not watch) for "big rides", not the day-to-day.
  • I'm old so the face is a challenge to read in certain situations. No, I'm not going to get lasik to use it.
  • Did I say the face could be challenging to read?
  • Notifications, I'm on the fence. Sort of annoying, really. I turned the "buzz" off. I don't want to be assaulted by notifications.
I'm gently moving into the Garmin+Strava universe. I like seeing improvement. I like seeing my own records and segment bests.I like seeing my fitness begin to reach 2011/12 numbers. "Thumbs up"

I got a pair of these:
My Lake mtbike shoes are probably 10 years old at least and have been total workhorses. Just great, beater mtbike/commuter shoes. It's the only reason I bought to replace. It was time. These have plenty of toe box room and generally have a comfy fit. They're not 100% dialed in as I am still not quite there with left cleat placement, but I've used them for two weeks and they're exactly what I wanted, a replacement commuter shoe. They walk confidently on hard surfaces, are generally easy on the feet, and will tack a thicker sock come winter. "Thumbs up".

I have another thing on the way, nothing quite so reviewable. I'm riding my bike, losing weight (down 13lbs), and feeling pretty good. I'm gaining fitness. I'm moving forward. That's all you can do, right? Just move forward.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Sleepy Hollow

Another pic-less post. Another round of good ol' solid tempo. Patrick and I did the L'ville classic Sleepy Hollow loop, with a newly-discovered extra-mileage wiggle at the top of Sleepy Hollow and then a later detour for brown water at the large Seattle company brand shop. I felt really solid the entire ride and my "10 achievements" perhaps reflect that.

Yes, Pondero, "no achievements" is good, but growing fitness is good too. It's all bike riding.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Waverly 5-star

I know I'm committing regular blog faux pas at this point, what with all the posts sans photos, but so  it goes.  I dragged Mr.Crowell (no other takers) out to Waverly for some trail action this morning, and I'm still hyped. It was such a good morning on two wheels in the woods. My fitness is coming around so I'm able to mash the pedals and throw the bike around to great effect. I set 9 segment records (according to Strava), and I know that is just a reflection of someone getting in shape on the bike. I felt good. It was fun. I attacked things. And the way Dave and I managed the ride, we were able to combine some nice group/solo sections. I think he had a good time too. I'm sure he did.

Better than sitting at home on the damn couch! Get out there!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bike to Beat Cancer 2015- TEAM HILLARD & The James Van Der Bikes

I rode the BtBC with Drew in 2013 to help him celebrate new-found fitness and motivation after his first cancer treatments for osteosarcoma. He and I did the 60+ while Matt had to peel off for the 35. In 2014 I again rode, that time with Matt (and late Wes from work) doing the 60+ while Drew was at the finish rooting us on after undergoing another treatment, this time for cancer which was found in his upper body.

One year later, 2015 finds me doing the BtBC to honor Drew, who died this past June. I'm honored to be a part of a group of his long-time friends, many former students like he from duPont Manual. They are coming from all over the country and have been training, I suspect, for the first time on long rides. I miss Drew and often think of a favorite line from "The Shawshank Redemption". Andy had escaped and Red simply states, "I guess I just miss my friend." I miss Drew, his puppy dog positive attitude, his love of rock guitar, his sincere, muted conservatism, and his general love of friends and good vibes.

 I also ride for Ben Hull, younger brother of a Manual tennis player whose time line in the cancer fight mimicked Drew's second go-round. Ben was only able to live 14 years (maybe 15), but he filled the room with brightness while many around him saw dark days. I often think of his parents and his brother and hope they find a sense of peace somehow in the gaping hole left by Ben's departing.

I ask you to visit my personal page and make a donation, be it $1 or $100,000. It was a rough June. It was a rough July. Many people suffer from cancer and many people need support and eventually a cure from this shitty disease. All we can do is do what we can do. I'll be on the bike, remembering Drew and Ben, and missing them both. #FuckCancer

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More trails

I was leg tired this morning and actively chose to drive to school, which helped a bit taking some extra tennis crap back to store at school instead of in my garage.

Once I got home I was a bit more motivated so I jumped on the Jones and got another hour and change in, starting at Seneca first and doing some of those twisty, rooty trails before crossing over to do the traditional Cherokee loop. At one point I stopped to check my phone and stupidly stopped my computer, thereby not recording a nice attempt at speed on the "Three Kings" downhill. Doh! Turning off the computer always causes some kind of dilema.

I backed off and coasted home, but it felt great to get out again. You should do the same.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cherokee trails

Nice bike day. Commuted on the QB to pleasant effect. I had some time post-work during L's sax lesson, so after dealing with a flat tire on the Jones (obviously my efforts from a couple weeks ago didn't take) I jammed out for a lap mini trail ride before doing supper. I've stated and restate that I don't really care about Strava comparing myself to the manly men. When I'm 170 I'll worry about that. Instead I set 8 PRs today, suggesting that some fitness is coming my way. Good stuff. Felt good.

Get out there!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bikes and Pace

Saturday was an annoying bike day, as I was planning on hitting some trails. Instead I had to replace yet another chain and cassette. Oh, and I wore out another middle ring, in this case on a Deore crank on the Rawland. Blah. The shop sourced one for me pretty easily, so I'll be back in the middle ring by Wednesday afternoon. Tail between legs. Defeat. Returning home I then did some front tube maintenance on the Jones to get it rolling again, but by that time it was mid-afternoon and I had started on the cheap beer. Later I added a few commuter miles to meet a friend at Great Flood, but ended the day with my beer quotient being much more influential that my mileage one.

Rawland in commuter form. I rode it all 5 days last week. Friday's commute was among the slowest ever. And that's alright.

Well-used Deore crank with very unhappy middle ring.

$6 pint last week at a local restaurant. $5.99 six-pack of PBR at local gas station.

Sunday Timothy and I were planning to do a long Corydon ride but I bailed due to having some family requirements. I received an invitation late for an early Sunday ride, one where I could get back home at a reasonable time. The original ride was 2 people (including me), then three, one guy 'B' I had never ridden with and the other WrenchJimmy with whom I've had several foolish adventures. All Jimmy's fault, of course.

Pretty much right after meeting at 7.30 the plan then changed to meet up with the "Sunday service" ride, a spirited road ride with some local guys who race 'cross, gravel, and generally are way stronger than I. Yikes.  We eventually found each other in the Beechmont area at S.Pkwy and headed out to JMF. I tucked in and rode some wheels and even took a few strokes up some of the puncher hills in Iroquois and Manslick. I was feeling good. I was a little disheartened when they turned towards Jefferson Hill as I knew it was "off the back time", but a mile or two after the climb there they were, waiting to dish out some more misery. It was very strange to ride where the pace vacillates between 15 and 23mph instead of my usual laggard 13.5. Another more reasonable climb up Martin eventually led to a 20mph+ swoosh along Mt.Elmira and down Holsclaw. Jimmy was feeling some pain for various reasons so when the group went left we went straight to save a few miles, but I ended up right at 50 miles with a nice, spirit 16.5mph pace. I stopped at Breadworks only to be informed that "Sunday brunch" had started with a bucket of suds at Shenanigans, which is B and ShopDrew's M.O. And so I packed up my coffee and bagel and did the post-ride as well. I really, really enjoyed myself, to ride a hard pace and feel like a cyclist and not just a fat guy. I held my own on the flats and short, puncher climbs and have to give my appreciation for waiting on the bike stuff. Racers get alot of grief for their bike attitudes, but this crew proved to be a cool. And sorry to Timothy for the bail.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015


My energies have gone to G+, Instagram, and I guess just riding. I commuted today but does anyone care about that? I mean, lots of people ride their bikes every day. Not sure it needs to be put in print as such.

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