Friday, July 31, 2009


With my mtbike trip to Seneca/Cherokee I totalled 570 miles for the month of July, and that was with 10 days of vacation where I only rode a few basic 1-hr rides. 570 is easily a personal record, for which I'm pleased. Yes, I could've gotten 600m, but I didn't and that is just fine.

I had a good mtbike ride this afternoon after a day of lethargy. I hit Seneca first, doing pretty well until I got stuck on a very twisty bottom trail that I just couldn't manage to master. Cherokee went well too, where I cleared most of the obstacles and roots that faced me. I only walked 2 times, both on severe uphill sections where roots stopped me more than the terrain. The C'dale is funny, b/c the 29er wheels and front shock make clearing roots and rocks much easier, but the larger wheel size isn't very compatible with the twisty nature of the trails. Looks like a compromise.

I hope to ride tomorrow a.m. and get August started well. Work will start soon, so no more days of disappearing all day, but we'll still try to get training miles for the Family Camp 110. At this point I've ridden enough that I shouldn't let the opportunty pass me by.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Progress

I'm slowly but steadily recovering from my longest solo ride in a good while- since '99 in fact- with the 80-miler I put in today. It wasn't entirely solo, as I rode miles 25-45 with Lithodale during one of his "lunch time rides". The first portion involved city riding through Cherokee and the Beargrass Trail towards downtown and the bridge. I crossed that and took the Randolph/Lincoln/Providence route into New Albany. Dale was suited up and ready for action, so we immediately hit it onto E.Main/62/111, riding at a nice clip through New Albany before turning onto Budd Rd. I contend that there is no nicer riding road than Budd Rd. anywhere in the 'Ville area. Yes, it's tough for me b/c you're faced with three "mini-climbs", none too difficult, but all testing the legs on an otherwise flatish road that runs at the base of the knobs. Another reason is that it gives you a means to reach excellent climbing roads like Blunk Knob and Farnsley. Dave and I had savored Blunk in May; that ride introduced me to the blessings of SW Indiana. I dropped Dale off at the base of Farnsley and bade him good climbing and I continued beyond Horseshoe Casino and onto 111.

Stately farm house overlooking corn fields and Ohio River

The Ohio is just beyond the farm bank of trees

111 runs along the river for many miles, but I was only on this portion about 5 of them, until I came to my knob climb up Stoner Hill. As you can see above, this area enthusiastically uses that flood-fed silt land for corn, corn and more corn. Stoner Hill is listed on the LBC site as being .60m with an avg of 9.5%. It began ominously with huge wailing horn noises, which turned out to be those of an 18-wheeler coming down the hill. What he was doing there I have no earthly clue, but I'm glad I waited for him to come down before I did my own climb. I noticed riding with Dale that I didn't have the best of climbing legs today, so I put it in a very small gear and just chugged up. PaCkMaN also lists it as having a 15% portion, and maybe that's where I rested a moment. I didn't walk; I just let the heart rate slow down.

On top of Stoner Hill, with Ohio peeking through in distance. And, no, I didn't see any stoners.

What I found challenging was that, also listed at only .6m, after the hill and a .1 descent, the road continues upward another couple contour lines before my next turn. Ugh! Along this portion, though, I passed my dream country house (of which I didn't take a pic. duh!) It was a brick and stone old farm house with a nice front porch and an excellent country flower garden to the side by the entrance. It also had a small barn near the side entrance, one which would be perfect to hold bikes. =) The ride from there to Elizabeth seemed uphill, but the terrain view doesn't support that. It was a nice collection of roads but I certainly needed the stop in Elizabeth, where I bought some Powerade (no Gatorade) and a package of King Dons. I'm sure it's against exercise nutritional theory, but the sugar and fat seem to do a good job refreshening me and they also don't give me any stomach issues. I passed though Elizabeth and passed behind Seven Springs Lake, a private lake with a "subdivision" community built around it. From the pic below you can see that it's numerous feet below stage, so I don't know how much fun boating would be. I linked up to Lottick's Corner, Black Creek and St. John's, roads Dave and I visited on the aforementioned trip. Throughout this portion of the ride I found very little tempo riding. I seem to keep diving from hilltop to creekbed, rushing descent and grinding climb. I dove (dived?) down a particularly quick, steep hill on Ball Diamond Rd., but again, ground out the climb on the far side. That put me more or less in Lanesville, a seemingly quaint little town that would be worth quick stop on another day. Because I'm relatively new to 3-4 hour rides, as opposed to 1-2hr ones, I'm still not practiced in the art of the stop. I tend to rush to get back on the road instead of relaxing a bit. Then, 2 miles down the road I'll think of some dumb reason to stop: fiddle with iPod, check brake pand, investigate mysterious ping, consolidate water bottles, etc. It seems smarter to just stop in town, visit the store, and do the fiddling all at once.

Typical SW Indiana road

Seven Springs Lake, not looking so hot. Notice the stranded boats near the dock with several feet of land between them and the water. I don't know why.

As you notice, I stopped taking pictures after Seven Springs Lake. I was getting tired and tired of the up-n-down. I saw on the map that I would end up on Corydon Ridge Rd. Sounds like a ride, a high spot. More grind. I was proud of myself, though. I didn't feel that good, but I just kept going. Once on Corydon Ridge, I finally found some rollers that you could build some tempo on. This road took me into Edwardsville, an area that I knew better. On the way I passed by Edwardsville Park, the site of Louisville's early 'cross races. Nathan from Clarksville Schwinn (he works for Zipp now) organized those early races. I raced one (two?) and helped marshal some others. Also, I knew heading into Edwardsville that it was down the longish 62 climb and into the river valley, and close to home.

After being detained at a mystery non-existant train on 62, I found New Albany's river road and rode into Clarksville for the bridge crossing. It would be my second-to-last "hill" and would put me to the end of this long day. At this point, around mile 70 I was whupped. I didn't have much left but just tried to make distance, coming straight up B'town at rush hour. Near home I saw that I would have a chance at topping 80m, so I took a left at St. Francis of Assisi to do an extra little neighborhood loop, using Seneca Gardens to do the same. I turned over 80 just a half-mile from the house. It was the longest solo ride I had undertaken since doing Louisville/Lexington back in 1999, that fateful spring when I lost practically 40lbs and muscled up with a heavy lifting regimen. I'm nowhere near that weight now, and I think it's holding my riding back. Lugging my girth up and down the rollers and knobs has me in a pattern where I'm building fitness and enjoying the bike, but I'll only do so well if I'm carting an extra small child around. Dave has lost 90, Dale 30 in the last year(s), using the bike to burn calories. I have as many miles as they, but the weight is still there. Calories in, Calories out. That said, I remember suffering immensly at the end of that 85miler in '99. I was tired today, but still able to push a gear and still able to function. It puts me closer to my goal of doing the 110 Family Camp Century solo the first week of September. I think I'll need 2 more good, long rides to make that happen so I can finish in one piece.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bike Week

I've been of the blog circuit b/c I, well, have been off the blog circuit. The Tour's been interesting, but I don't think today's Ventoux drama was worth 2 weeks of extremely boring racing at the start. The good wife and #2 were at camp this past week, so #1 and I were men of the house. We made supper a couple nights (steak and later italian) and helped my mom some on her kitchen project. Because I was single parenting, I didn't have tiem for substantial days of mileage, so I used the week to take short, controlled rides in the parks (to stay close to home), so I decided to use it as "Bike Week", and ride different bikes, since I have several (so many?). Here are some brief thoughts:

On the first day of Bike Week I got very little riding in. #1 and I took the bikes out, I on the LHT, for an errand. I've done more miles on the LHT than on any other bikeh the last few years. I like the set-up right now quite a bit, although I've thought more than once of buying a longer stem, like one of these from VeloOrange. The other recent change on the LHT is that I have a non-generator hub on right now. I decided to do so for the Mixed-Terrain a bit back and since I'm not doing much night riding, I've kept it on with its montrous Serfas 2". Once school starts I'll certainly switch back. Writing about this Saturday, I have no remembrance of where we went, but we went somewhere. Now I remember; we rode the bikes to Ramsi's to meet some other fellows for lunch.

I did the 19.8m loop that I would another time during the week. I warmed up via Casselberry and entered the park via Chauffers' Rest. I then went towards Seneca and up Old Cannons to connect to some St. Matthews roads before returning to the Seneca Loop for a lap. Then it was towards Cherokee and a bit of climbing before heading home via Millvale. I took the RB-1, having gotten in back from LithoDale. The only change I made on the return was to put some 700x28c Gatorskinz on there. After riding lots of fat tyres, the 28c looks sort of skinny, but not as skinny as the 23c's on there. My first ride on the race-oriented RB-1 a bit ago was more difficult than Tuesday's. I could definitely feel a difference in the sprightliness of the ride as compared to my Bleriot or LHT. Actually I'm pretty happy for the RB-1 as a once-a-week "fast" bike. With so many rides in the 12-13mph range, it was nice to add a few more mph to that.

I continued the Bike Week's pattern with an afternoon ride in the pouring rain on the Blueridge. I did the same exact loop as Tuesday, with the Chauffer's Rest Hill thrown in for good measure. The Blueridge is wearing fenders right now, which helped, and of course the titanium isn't supposed to rust. If the RB-1 has me in full "racer" position, the Blueridge as me a bit higher up, but I still ride in the hoods alot and maintain a lower position than, say, on the Bleriot. There are 2 things I really like about the Blueridge. First is that I'm charmed by the Pasela 35cm on there. They're a great tire and I wouldn't mind if any of my other bikes wore them. The other is that I think the butt/saddle interface is actually more comfy on the BR than any of the others. The B-17 is nicely broken in and for some reason, the angle just works.

After Thursday off, I chose another set of wheels for Friday's ride, in this case with a colleague from work. We set off early on Friday, I on the Crosscheck, which was seeing its first work since the North Dakota trip. Having no real idea of my colleague's level, I designed a route that went downtown and took in a bit of the Riverwalk. I ascertained that she strong enough so we then looped back up RiverRd. to the Indians Hills area and linked up to Seneca on the return and a total of 26m. Compared to the RB-1 and BR both, the Crosscheck felt cramped, but that befits a 'cross frame instead of a pure road frame. Right now the CC is also carrying the heavy Vittoria Rando tire, but they inspire confidence that flats will be unlikely. Although the CC wouldn't be my century choice, it is a quick, efficient, battle-trod bike for the city, or the cross course.

Friday was further enchanced by a first, the first ride for #1. He, his neighborhood friend and I set off for Cherokee to give both boys their first taste of real mtbiking. #1 rode is own KHS quasi-mtbke. It's too small for him but it's the only option at present. I rode the C'Dale Caffeine 29-er and 'J' rode my singlespeed Redline Monocog. We did the Cherokee loop, with our total ride time of just a bit short of 2 hours. I was very, very pleased that they did a good job all in all on the trails. 'J' was limited to SS, but he's a strong little guy (he's entering high school but isn't the biggest freshman I've ever seen- strong though) and pretty daring, so he made good work of most of the obstacles. #1 was a bit "cautious"-his own word- but he didn't suffer any calamities and rode well. The only thing I fussed at both of them for was first, to get off the saddle and get the weight back. After about half the ride they started doing that. The other was that #1 kept riding in slightly too big a gear and it hurt his transitions, but he ignored me, as sons often do. I had a pretty easy time on the 29-er. I definitely noticed an improvement in overall fitness (though not weight), so some of the climbing came easier. I think a bit of the testostarone kicked in, b/c I found myself very confident on some portions as a means to show the boys the best lines, etc. It was a great afternoon and I'll definitely drag them out again. #1 said he definitely had fun, but that it was also "exhausting". And that's great. I did do one small portion of the trail on the Redline. Even with that short portion, I really think that bike is the best for what Cherokee offers. Its tight frame and wheelbase make for the twisty trails and the stiff frame make for adequate climbing. The only prob is that either the left pedal or BB is near death, so it's something that needs near immediate attention. I intend to take another trail ride next week with the updated Redline. Zippy indeed.

So if you include 'Bike Week' as being from Sat to Fri, then those 7 days encompassed 6 rides on 6 different bikes- 1 RBW road bike, 1 classic steel road, 1 titanium nee-tourer, 1 'cross set up for road, 1 suspended mtbike, and 1 SS mtbike. Quite an array, but I'm glad to have gotten time of each. And no ride included the Quickbeam or 'bent. Guess those will have to get workouts this week as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What a difference

Last Sunday I could barely finish a 50-miler. I agonized over the last 15 miles of the route. I walked parts of 2 hills. I didn't enjoy myself (the last 15...). Agotado-dripped out- is the Spanish word that best describes my experience.

Today was the opposite. Having ridden with LithoDale yesterday, I worried about how my legs would respond. We called an impromptu RCCS 80-miler, and left this morning at 6.00 to make it happen. I'll put a ride report on the RCCS site, but today I was just good. We ended up doing 68 miles, but I felt confident and strong all through those miles, and I wish I could've tagged on more, but with birthday parties coming (in fact, in 40min), other responsibilities awaited.

Bicycle Schizophrenia at its best.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I've done quite a few miles this week (for me), and they've been of highly varying quality. Sunday's RCCS Mixed-Terrain was half bliss, half death march. Monday I took off. Tuesday's was a mediocre effort on the Quickbeam. Wednesday I tried something different and took a Cherokee/Seneca Hill ride on the Blueridge and I used my heart rate monitor for the first time in a while. I wanted to see what crappy legs felt like at specific HRs. Really it was a pretty good ride, with some "brisk" (and in effort) climbing. Thursday's was another mediocre effort on the QB. I strongly feel like some of these tough rides have been influenced by mexican food-induced lower GI issues.

At this point River Rd. is definitely closed

Today I rode over to IN and did a lunchtime ride with LithoDale.. I used the HRM again to gauge my efforts to there and back; I think it worked pretty well. But of course, long and lean Dale whipped my on the moyenne montagne. Tomorrow the RCCS does a show-n-go 80-miler. That should be interesting.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

bum legs

Took care of an almost 30-miler this afternoon on the Quickbeam, doing the Algonquin/Riverwalk Loop. After the Sunday death march (write-up found here), I wanted an easy spin, and mostly i got one until the Riverwalk. As I stopped to fiddle with the iPod, a group of 3 gentlemen came roaring by, all of them on "non-standard" bikes. I do admit to raising the pace ever slightly to see if I could catch up, and to one I did. I saw him in the distance and worked to reel him in. On one of the last open sections before the Belvedere I passed on the left, but it only took about 20sec and he was back through. Mind you, he was pushing the largest gear his bike had and I was doing it "hamster style" on the QB. Anyway, we sort of shadowed each other through the various routes around the Belle (outoftowners, visualize, but I'm too lazy to describe) and I got slightly ahead by taking a more direct route via the bridges by the Great Lawn. His 2 buddies were there waiting, so they must've done a decent clip.

After that I came up Adams/Spring and passed a group of 6-7 cyclists, and an interesting group it was. The guys in front were standard lycra/carbonbike roadies, the middle 3 looked to be riding hybrids or mtbikes and the woman with them was on a fendered Bianchi. I complemented her bike and moved ahead of them only b/c I thought it would be odd to just join up, although their pace was more my pleasure. From there it ws through the park and up golf course hill. I'm not feeling fresh right now, and haven't since the vacation, or really since the start of vacation. Granted, climbing SS style on the QB is not a great way to build confidence, but after that I was sort of done and mosied home from there. 28 in the bag, a great feel on the QB, but not feeling all that rosy myself. Hope it's not the ticker.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


After 2 days of post-vacation lethargy, I took the SSFrankenTrek out for what amounted to an errand ride this afternoon. Skies were mixed and the radar showed electrical, barometrical nastiness at some point, so the SS Trek seemed logical. I had purchased a few things before the trip: tube, old-school mesh gloves, and finally a box of CO2 cartridges, figuring that in an alien city and with morning time constraints, a quick fill would prove better for all. Upon departing the shop, I noticed that my total was a bit high, and looking at my receipt, noticed that my box of 8 cartridges totaled $20. Yikes!! Guess it's been a while since I bought those. I assume buying threaded increased the price a bit, but Wowee, I just had a hard time paying more for throwaway cartridges than I did for a decent pair of gloves. So I stored them on the trip and mcguyvered the carry method for an old minipump I had found in the "parts" box.

Today, box and receipt in hand, I returned the box of cartridges, figuring that I can handle a frame pump if need be, and at worst I can buy 2 cartridges for a quickie a.m. commute fix. Taking in St. Matthews, I turned onto Frankfort and encountered a nice headwind to work into. I made my first stop and headed towards the river, taking a quick look at the new Lincoln statue there. I turned for a turn up Washington and went to my 2nd shop of the day (preferred one this time, although the other one isn't bad at all) to pick up a couple tubes for tomorrow's potentially carnage-inducing RCCS gravelfest. Under normal circumstances, I prefer to patch tubes and save the $$, but experience has told me that some folks who might come might also come unprepared. The RCCS experiment is sort of static right now. We've had a couple rides with good turnout and good fun, but it's sort of laying there, under the radar, and not gaining as much momentum as I would like. I think it's one of scheduling, in that people need time to put in on the calendar, and with my life and with Dave's, we just haven't been very firm in making the calendar discipline happen. That said, we're going on a near-70m ride tomorrow, with much of it S.IN gravel (via the DIRT site). I think there is a potential for "epic", at least on the level Dave and I can muster. I'm riding the LHT for the benefit of fat tyres, and hence the extra tubes.

From there it was back through Cherokee and one more stop, at Morris Deli this time, for libations, to be had later this evening. 19m total and a good warmup for tomorrow's fun.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Mixed-Bag Vacation Rides

We're home after a very successful out west vacation. Instead of doing multiple entries (which would bore all my readers to tears), I'll sum up my later rides in this one. I previously rode the St. Louis Riverfront Trail and on the edges of Rapid City. I'm glad I did both, but neither captured much gusto. Hill City provided me an opportunity to ride a portion of the Mickelson Trail, which is a 100m+ rail-to-trail in the Black Hills of SD. Since we had full days planned, I was able to only get out a bit early and experience a portion of it. That morning was cool and drizzly so I wore a rain jacket, which I proceeded to remove in the first 2 miles. As it was, I turned north and went up hill for about 4-5m and then turned around, giving me 2 very different experience, those of steady climbing while being very warm- even in the morning mist-and that of a freewheeling descent pushing a big gear. To be honest, I enjoyed the scenary more while climbing. I'm sure it's a lovely trail start to end, but I really only got a 50min introduction.

woodland phlox in full bloom

nice valley and near my turning around point

typical trail scene near Hill City

My plan (in my mind) was to explore some Nat'l Forest Service roads near our hotel the next morning, but alas. My next ride took place in Rapid City before leaving for the Badlands. In this case, using a city bike map I put together another quick morning jaunt, this one much more fun than the slog that took place the previous Thursday. Rapid City's mostly concrete trial snakes along a river that apparently killed 200+ people in '72. Now, the area along the river is a series of parks, now tied together with this path. I did almost 15m, doing outnbacks along both arms of the trail. It was interesting that the "across the tracks" addage certainly applied to RC. To the west the parks and path were well maintained; across the tracks to the east was decidedly more roughntumble, with some sketchy characters milling about.

Minnelusa River (native American name)

My final ride was the most satisfying, but also the longest, so is it chicken or egg? Good legs+time to appreciate=well-designed facilities? Our last night's stay was in Columbia, MO, where I found a nice bike trail map which would supply me 2 hours of enjoyment. Not only did Columbia have nice trails in and of itself, they also linked up to the well-known Katy Trail of central MO. I took the Hinkson Creek Trail, tying into the MKT trail, and finished up (well, in the middle of my ride) rode a portion of the Katy as well. I came back very, very satisfied. These three combined for a 14m one-way, bringing me to 28 on the day. The Hinkson links several nature preserves and then ties in to a UnivofMissouri "fitness" trail, which is just an extension of the same. The surface here was a nice, compact crushed limestone, one which made for good bike handling and a cushy feel. Eventually those connected to the MKT, which is a central trail leading out of Columbia. I was impressed with the number of users at 7.00a.m., but with such nice facilities, why wouldn't you? The entire trail followed Hinkson Creek, so grades were gentle, something good for a general-use trail such as this. Eventually it tied to the Katy, where I took a left (east) and experienced some miles- maybe 4?- of it before I had to turn back. I suggest anyone to take advantage of this series of facilities; it provided an awfully nice morning ride and something of an experience that I don't think the Louisville Loop/Riverwalk quite meets. Sorry.

Example bridge crossing the Perche Creek. I crossed probably 10 or more bridges, many designed to reflect railroad heritage.

McBaine station along Katy. These had postings of resources, facilities and notes for riders.

Return portion of Hinkson Creek Trail, this being a sideshoot singletrack encircling the nature preserve. I met numermous dog walkers here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Rapid City

After a long-but-satisfying day viewing the grandeur of the grassy plains and amber waves of grain, we arrived in Rapid City, SD. We went for a slice and a drink and then I jumped out not far from the hotel for an hour spin. I encountered spitting rain, gritty gravel and dark skies, but nonetheless I did my hour. Here are a few views.

**a couple commenters have commented on the "flatness". What is interesting is that I remember it not being that flat. The last picture looks into the valley with the opposite ridge showing the elevation. Later, I put the route into mapmyride and found, as it were, that it was pretty flat. Rapid City sits at around 3000ft. Can that elevation change have an effect on the the cardio system? It felt more tiring that the terrain suggested. My later ride in Hill City begat a similar observation.

Desoto NWF

Desoto NWF in western Iowa and Nebraska. This made for a long side trip, but worth every minute. I have many more pics which I'll have to doctor and post, but I can express how wonderful this corner of the world is, and our subsequent scenic drive through Nebraska made me want a vacation home there. *Very* attractive!

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: