Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunny West Loop, aka, la inundacion, aka un refresco muy bonito!!

Day started with some garage flooding cleaning, in addition to some post-snow rocksaltallovertheplace cleaning. IH came by. He's going to borrow the FrakenTrekSS for a couple weeks to see how he likes road bikes. He's looking for an all-rounder and his mtbike got stolen several years ago. Imagine being without a bike for several years. Shoot me.

Took a spin on the Jones.

His new puppy, Neha, decided to attack my pants. Cutie.

I met Mr.Crowell for a spin in the sunshine (60F+!!) and we both did the single-speed thing. The QB was excellent all-round as we headed west where it's rather flat. Eventually we circled back around and finished the afternoon at Great Flood, ruminating on bikes, plans, bikes, and plans.  I had begun the day in a black mood- work has me pretty bent out of shape at the moment- but after an afternoon of bike organization, riding, beer, and more bike commerce, the day ended very well. 

Seneca golf course. That would be a tough up-and-down.

You can seen the ditch full of water to the right of the train. I suspect the river was at or above track level at some point. It's supposed to rise even higher later this week.

To the left is a fork of the Riverwalk. That would be a tough ride and the moment. From here you're practically even with the barge. Wacky.

The day finished with some bike biz, in this case the sale of my 1989 C'dale 'Criterium' to a young hipster couple, I think for the girlfriend. I stopped riding this bike in the mid-90's when I bought the RB-1. I find this bike to be a misery after about 2hrs and wanted something for longer distances. It went to my uncle more recently for a bit, but he found it uncomfy too. While we all live a little too much by the N+1 principle, I'm ready to pare down a bit. With this sale and the potential sale of the SSFrankenTrek, that'll be 2 out  and close to a more manageable stable.

Danville Roll

Family had some business in Danville, KY on Saturday, so after some hemming, hawing, and whining about potential rain I dragged the Blueridge along for a mid-day central KY roll. While I faced damp conditions, I never really got rained on, which was nice. More nice, though, was the chance to tour the Bluegrass region of KY. I know there are areas considered more "epic" or "raw", but C.KY has that "bucolic America" quality that is easy on the eyes. We finished the day up at Bluegrass Pizza Pub in the middle of town. They have yummy crispy pizza and a fine tap selection. The wife and I visited a summer or two ago on a mini-trip, and it's a must visit while in the area.

And now, the drop:
Rolling hills and "bluegrass" fences to the west of town (into a stiff headwind). I was surprised at the horsefarm-like nature of the area this far south of Lexington.
The mouth of the eath. I noticed a rivulet rushing to the right and once there I found the stream to be coming straight out the earth. It's KY. It's limestone. It's caves.

More horsefarmish style.

When I win the lottery I'm going to make them an offer they can't refuse. You have the rolling pastures, some trees for texture, and in the distance the foothills and knobs of the early Appalachians. The long, rolling (that word again), gravel driveway did it for me, into the distance.

The Wife and I, both graduates, both learned a bit about our alma mater today. The sign states that Transylvania U. was founded just north of Danville in this spot and then, I guess, moved to Lexington, where it now stands. Nice spot, too.

Somewhat common railroad crossing in the area. The tracks are carved down into the..rolling...hills, leaving the road to cross above at grade.

Monday, March 09, 2015

RawlandMind @ NAHBS2015

This is Nate from Michigan. As you can see, he was sporting a nicely-patina'ed Rawland bike hat, and at some point during an after-show party I found him to have a chat and a pic. In fact, upon leaving the show earlier that day I noticed a nice Rawland Stag in the bike parking area and had a little look at its balanced build.

(Pic is a little fuzzy, but build is nice. We didn't talk about how he liked the Soma Cazaaderos, or are those the 650b Rock-n-Roads)

(tired-looking old man)

Nate is from Michigan and regaled me of the miles and miles of gravel up there. Along with some singletrack talk I had with the boys from Quiring Cycles, I feel like I'm going to have to design a MI bike visit.

Thursday, March 05, 2015


Vote below please:


For the second time in recent memory, Louisville is going to host a big cycling event, and for the second time in recent memory, Mother Nature's furious anger has rained down on the 'Ville. The 2013 Cyclocross Worlds were met with flooding and a very unhappy schedule change, which was fine for a resident local but all-out Hell for Euros flying in. This weekend we have the NAHBS coming in, lots and lots of bike porn invading the convention center. And what just happened, a March snowstorm dumping a foot on us. I drove downtown this evening and found snow-covered but doable streets helped by this afternoon's sunshine. Tomorrow's start might sort of suck, what with the temps in the morning in the single digits, but by Saturday things are supposed to warm up into the 40's and Sunday even better. I found a link on the NAHBS site for daily morning rides before the event gets going, but I doubt they'll have many takers tomorrow.

I, on the other hand, am volunteering tomorrow for the purposes of getting a free tix for Saturday or Sunday. Because I refuse to pay for parking, my cold ass is going to be fatbike commuting the 7 miles downtown in single digit temps on black ice and crust.

Mas nieve, Mas gordo

Happened again. What a late winter! The forecasts were coming in over the week that we were going to have an "event" and, indeed, we did. I never actually measured at home, but the official total is 11.9" of snow, with less downtown and 14+ at the local NWS office. Portions of Central KY received a foot and half of March snow. Amazing. I got out earliesh to explore a bit and see how much snow-riding/fatbiking I was going to do. On the street of near-1' totals unless I was in a car track I was going *nowhere*. Amazing even with all that float a foot of snow if not easily defeated.  I toured the neighborhood, finding a nearby 5th-class city much improved with its plowed roads instead of the big city's boodoggle. As often the case I ended up at Breadworks for some much needed supplies. I realized pretty early on that I didn't have the feet taken care of enough, and that was my easy excuse to do nothing more than a short coffee ride instead of something more adventurous. That's how it goes sometimes.

Plowed street

Fat tracks

The home street in its snowy, mushy bliss.

Conditions on the day were all over the place, as I've found snowbiking to be. It's hard to describe every possible surface and every possible (medium to slow) speed. I've learned to stay the hell away from the tire-sucking mush. Peanutbuttery gross.  After my Herculean outing  I came home and shoveled and cleaned off cars, doing a better home-owning job that usual. And this is after I cleaned out the gutters on Wednesday in anticipation of the needed flow. Hope we have no more leaks like a week ago.

Sunday, March 01, 2015


The weather has been crappy and I've ridden very little. Both yesterday and this evening I managed to get out for 1hr workouts that were less workouts than just good ol' pedalling. Eventually the cold will break and we can all feel like cyclists again. This morning I did a little birding for the first time in a while, all in a nice 33F sleet and rain. Geez.
10th Street:
Canada Goose
DB Cormorant
Ringed billed Gull

Clark Cabin:
Carolina Wren

Juvenile Bald Eagle- flew overhead. So large, so distinctive. So cool

Ashland Park:
GB Heron
I was cold and wind-blown here, so I think there were some more but I didn't last long.

Brown Creeper
C. Chickadee
Juvenile YB Sapsucker Crow

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Days

Although we had numerous days of precip last winter, this week has been our single biggest "snow event" for perhaps around a decade. With a couple snows we're sitting on 10" of the white stuff right now, and temps are to plummet to around -10F tonight. I've been off of school for three days, and on two of those I've apprised myself of 3.8" tires to create bike events, however satisfying or frustrating they have been. I also crawled on a snowy roof and almost fell off, but that's a different story

Monday mid-event I went out and found conditions to be taxing. I think we had more snow on the ground (having neglected to go to more than the coffee shop in the morning. Mistake) and I was having a rough time plowing fresh powder. I did a bit of golf course exploring and found it to feel like very deep sand, every revolution 3 steps up. Pant, heave, push, grunt, pant.

After a downhill which comprised of pedaling to keep forward motion, I stopped by to take a couple nice pics of Beargrass Creek and then found that my rear tire was being wonky. I had backed it down, but it felt flatter than it should. Did I really take that much air out?

Long story short, my tire was going flat and eventually went flat. I basically rode/walked home in the mid-teens temps and had a jolly, ol' swell miserable time of it all. Someone on Google+ later informed me that presta valves have a reputation for freezing up and leaking air. I suspect my fiddling might have created such an outcome.

After a miserable time Monday in a pique I didn't ride Tuesday, but instead climb on a snowy, slick roof and tried to remedy a leak behind the wall. The melting ice and snow had created an entry point. The roof itself isn't that high, but I felt stress hormones most of the afternoon after that. Miserable.

This morning I awoke to 2" more of snow. I used El Fatso to head up to the local coffee joint and graded and sipped for a good while, eventually joined by a co-worker. I'm not sure how much grading we actually got done.

This evening L had a long sax lesson- and the wife is cooking chili- so I rode from his teacher's house for a cold, windy snow loop back on the horse. The tire is holding air, so I assume the valve story is holding as well. I found a variety of conditions, with the trail snow and wishy-washy, and many of the streets a soupy, peanut-buttery kind of slickness. It was hard. The following pics are in reverse order. You'll just have to cope.
Down Beargrass Creek Trail, the longest, hardest mile of cycling I've done in a while. It took me 16 minutes when on a good day I do it in under 3. The easiest way to make progress is/was to cut fresh powder in lieu of falling into other folks' tracks.

Camera really didn't do justice to weird sun/sky/snow combo.

PJ and I rode this on Sunday and it was frozen dirty. Not now, and not any time soon.

Snow-covered creek barely visible.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Ferdinand S24O

It's cheating a bit to call this a S24O, but we left town at 6.00pm and were back at the house at 2.00pm, well under '24' status. PJ has had many life responsibilities, but we finally scheduled a weekend camp/ride to knock off the cobwebs. I had the further motivation of giving the new Jones a thorough introduction. As read, Ferdinand SF has more of an old-school mtbike feel to it, so I knew that a little water would be much less of a problem than on the local groomed options.

If we had left on time, we would have caught the sunset at camp, or maybe even missed it through the trees. As such, we were entertained with great views for the majority of the trip up I-64.

FSF is rather remote. I expected the warm weather- 50's in February!- to bring out a few campers, but we were the only ones in the campground. I suspect we were in the exact same spot as last time, near water and the facilities. A team effort of wood from my backyard stack and PJ's fire skills had us toasty over a fire and cooking a supper of several things, pad thai noodles with chicken for me and I believe some salt bomb for him. The beef hotdogs over the fire set the scene, as did the bottle of grape juice. Refined, we are! Refined!

With my limited camera skills, or at least limited set-up, this was the best I got of the nice, yellow moon that greeted us late evening. Not only was it warm, but we had a very starry sky to admire. And warm temps! 

I've yet to solve the camp sleep thing. My pad lost air, as usual, and I tossed and turned all night. At one point I was semi-awake at 3.00am listening to the dogs and coyotes try to outnoise each other.  I finally got up to, you know, visit nature, and decided to use my silk bag in addition to the Mountain Hardware 45. I don't know what the evening temps were, but that combo got me some extra hours until 7.

 Camp coffee, yes. I used a the Soto Helix dripper again to good effect. I think PJ went with the Starsux Via standby. Not a bad choice either in times of need.

I think I did a better job setting up the Nemo last time out. I had a corner popping up for some reason and had to use stakes. The wind picked up with the evening, so by bed time I had all 4 corners staked and two ends guyed down to keep out the drafts. 

 Jones ready for a first real ride. What would await?

 This was a noisy critter up there. I think the best chance is a Downy WP, but really I have no clue. This pic doesn't have enough detail to help, at least without some CSI image cleanup.

The plan was to do some mtbike trails in the park in combination with a 20-mile gravel loop in the area to give us a nice, mixed morning. We decided to start with the trails, driving to a close-by trailhead. It's sort of hard to describe FSF trails. We found a mix, a real mix, of somewhat untechnical trails with lots of speedy downhills, lots of punishing uphills, and enough stream crossings, leaves, ruts, and "stuff" to keep things interesting. I liked Fox Hollow Trail for its interesting textures. We made an early stop to shed a layer. I pushed the Jones early on to get a feel for its capabilities.

 Something pretty common in FSF, a singletrack feeding into a wide forest road. It's seems to be half/half. The roads aren't particularly easy, as several had sizable climbs.

Perhaps I pushed the Jones too much. I decided via Jeff Jones to have the rear wheel as a tubeless setup, as all the cool kids are doing that. Problem was, as we crossed the entry road and began the second trail- SouthRidge- I noticed the rear wheel going soft. Drat! In what was one of the worst tire changes ever, I ended up mounting an extra tube, all the while burning through 2 CO2 cartridges, and using PJ's pump to top things off. My theory is a leak at the valve stem. My lack of skill was very apparent and I suspect this little "situation" cut into some of our later riding. Yes, it took that long.

One of my favorite sections was SouthRidge along the lake. The trail leveled out a bit to allow for nice views.

 A leveling out became a fierce, quick climb with some switchbacks to climb away from the lake. This was the first section where I really, really redlined. Foreshadowing.

At the end of SouthRidge the trail dumps you across this creek and into a picnic area, where we picked up Fossil Lake trail with its steep little opening. More redline. 

As some point at the crux of Fossil Lake I thought we followed signs for the Twin Lakes trail, which would take us up the eastern side of the forest. Not terribly long after that it dumped us out on the road where we started, somehow missing Twin Lakes. I'm still confused where we missed the the turn. After a couple toasty, tough sections I asked to use the gravel roll to collect myself, and we would push on to see what might happen.

At the northern end we decided to do the Kyana trail and found a couple miles of really soupy, gravelly, messy fun. It wasn't "mtbiking" per se, but it was off-roading and a ton of fun to slop through. At some point PJ stopped for a chain issue and I chugged up the climb, at the top of which we found a really nice pine grove before diving back into singletrack. Nice section.

After an exhilarating descent  we followed along bottom land, including the crossing bridge, before beginning the climb to the fire tower. Where are fire towers located? Yes, at the high point. This climb was a walk-n-ride-walk to the top, a *hard* walk. I was pretty cooked at this point, and we both had some time pressure. After the fire tower we decided to head back via a bit more gravel, giving us 2 hard hours of riding and close to 3 total.

Jones thoughts:

  • Fun
  • Handles as good as advertised. It's sharp, precise, and confident. 
  • The combo of front fat, truss fork, and Ti made for lots of front suspension without the compression of a suspension fork. It worked *really* well. And my upper body feels great even though the trails dealt out some punishment.
  • The rather far back position helped with muddy traction, but I still lost purchase sometimes.
  • My lower back is really sore. I don't know if that is a function of the geometry, a poor night's sleep on the ground, or just being fat and old.
  • Fun
  • The position is like none other. You sit very in the middle of the bike instead of being splayed out forward. Jeff said I might climb more out of the saddle and I understand why, although I didn't much b/c of wet conditions. Again, you're in the middle of the bike, firmly planting both wheels.
  • The Jones fork bag is alright but I need to work on positioning more. It held my jacket when I took that layer off. The weight wasn't a problem, but it rubbed the tire a few times. I can see using it for trips but not for day-in-day-out singletrack riding.
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