Monday, June 29, 2009

2 possibles

Hopefully I may get some action on the following locales in the days to come:

Mississippi River Trial-St. Louis- downtown St. Louis. Apparently not scenic, but who cares.

Mickelson Trail- Hill City, South Dakota- 110+ railtotrail. Entry point near our hotel

MKT Trail- Columbia, MO- will have to drive if I'm to do this one.

Sioux Falls, SD- close to the park loop trail of some sort

Sioux City, IO- WOW! I just found a "bike trail" along the river, with an entry very close to our hotel room!! Just found it!!

Rapid City, SD- Just found a potential trail near our hotel here too. Or googlemaps is wrong and it's a drive.


I don't care if it is one of Chris's 3-mile loops; I gotta ride if I can and if it fits in the schedule!








Sunday, June 28, 2009

4-Star

Not much to say other than I wish more folks had the opportunity to experience what a fantastic ride we did today, well, save the near-death experience careening out of control in front of an SUV while descending at near-40mph. I digress. I first suggested the route and Dave made appropriate alterations, maps and cue sheets. Much thanks to Dave. We started in Sellersberg and head north via many empty country roads. Some of these showed up at both a Spring RCCS ride and one I took with Dave a ways back as well. This route put us toward Underwood, where we both found the necessary goods we were lacking. From there we again ventured over some of the same roads as the RCCS ride, but after the climb up S. Liberty Knob Rd, we headed SW into new territory on the Blue River Rd., or some variation of it (E.B.R. or S.B.R., etc.)


Maize, plenty of that today, although the recent flash flooding hasn't helped.

Our tour along the Blue River- I never saw it unless it was the creek we followed, delivered us into Pekin, sometimes known as Old Pekin. We were greeted with a rough-n-tumble kinda rural town. The Sunoco provided snacks and drinks, but also a myriad of, well, rednecks, of all sort. They were pleasant enough, but living in a near-hippie enclave and teaching reasonably middle and upper-middle class sorts separates me from these kind of folk I used to teach in Trimble Co. I made the comment that I understood why there was a New Pekin just up the road. Not nice, but the truth hurts sometimes. I hope escalating globalization and State and Federal education and economic efforts bless these folks with future reward.


Gene's right on the track. I failed to get a good pic of a big pipe coming out of the side of this building, one used to refuel the train with water and/or coal from back in the old days.


Nice bridge on E.Main St. in Old Pekin

Church steeple may or may not be visible in the distance


After Pekin, and a steep set of short climbs to get us to appropriate altitude, we were blessed with amazing expanses high above the knobs. Who knew? It was truly beautiful country and worth the 40m we had ridden to arrive there. Shortly thereafter we happened upon a couple cultural touchstones of Southern Indiana: Stumler's, Huber's and St. John's the Baptist Church. Concerning the latter, with the quantity of Virgin Mary statues we saw in Starlight I would say that the parish is doing a pretty good job getting the word out. The former- and middle?- are both popular family-run orchards and restaurants. Huber is big enough that it has a bit of everything, including wine. The ride through Starlight where these are based was just heaven, with blue skies, cooling tailwinds, sunshine and no traffic to speak of.

Our last leg involved getting down off this plateau and into the valley where Sellersberg resides. This is where the brief plot thickens. We came upon the following descent

Top of Dug Knob

Dub Knob Rd. falls off the plateau, so we fell too. Not smartly, I took the lead. Dave had been descending all day much better than I, but I divebombed the hill, zooming through the first sweeping curves. Approaching the 3rd one, a steep switchback, I realized I was going too fast. I felt the back wheel skid and I just sorta freaked. I understood based on speed that I was going to cut across the switchback, and my good grace would not find a car coming up the hill. Alas. At that point, the SUV ascending looked like it was going to hit me or I was going to hit it in the side. Somehow, whether he sped up or slowed down, I got around him, and I slowed into the gravel on the side. No harm, no foul. No tarmac, no blood, no boo-boos. Just alot of frustration for being irresponsible- STUPID- and loosing control like that. It happens, but I'm still frustrated with myself; I could've negotiated the descent much better and not created such drama. And thanks to that driver. Whether he/she really did anything, he/she didn't hit me, and that's good.

From there we rolled down St. Joe's Rd., different Catholic church, and into Sellersberg, capping off a 61-miler that I'll put right now into my top-5 list of favorite rides. It was just fabulous. Hope everybody hit the road today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mammoth Cave

After my conference day on Thursday, I headed home towards Louisville, but taking advantage of the location and the timing, I stopped off for a bit of an adventure (not much of one) in Mammoth Cave. I had read inklings of a new rails-to-trails in the Nat'l Park, so a bit of research led me to some general info about the converted rail-to-trail. Interestingly, I couldn't find a paper map of the sign below, but online full park maps are available. I parked where you find this trailhead, but the the trail actually goes back east a bit, so I went to the end and returned to the trailhead for the full route.

Trailhead marker


Typical scene on much of the trial, with heavy gravel along a forest tunnel

I did particularly enjoy the first part of the trail. The pic below shows a strangely deforested, sun-searing land, and for reason, it had been re-gravelled or dragged recently, so it provided heavy, slow-going conditions. I later found on the return leg that the inital portion was a long, steady climb. At one point, the NPS even posted a sign of "steep trail" conditions and encouraged the public to walk this one off. I just rode in a tidy, low gear.



Eventually I broke away from the deforestation and back into the forest, sometimes very close to the main road and sometimes curving a bit further inward. My informative ride would educate me to 2 new nuggets, first that the deforestation was the beginnings of "prairie renewal", and secondly the trail often followed the road, because the road, in fact was laid on the original rail line. Nice and tidy, eh? I came to Sloan's Crossing, which is a sinkhole that never drained, hence a pond. NPS built a nice wooded raised path around the pond, providing multiple viewing spots.

By this point I was having that much fun. The trail surface regularly used very heavy limestone gravel; it reminded me of riding in sand. And the heat of the day- 92F and humid, was taking its toll. After Sloans' Crossing, I roused 3 wild turkeys having a snack in a meadow, but they ran off before I could get a pic. I then descended into a steep valley, one I didn't relish climbing back out of. The trail used three wooden trestles or bridges to cross steep gorges. Soon thereafter I was almost run over by a deer bounding across the trail. Boy, they look sort of big up close. Not long after I arrived at the terminus, the visitors center and hotel. I had decided at some point that I didn't enjoy the trail surface enough to return via it, so I aimed to go back on the main road. After perusing a park map, I found a different and interesting alternative for a return. Not far from the visitors' center, the map showed a one-way gravel road- Joppa Ridge Rd.- that connected to State 70, which would put me back at Sloans Crossing and a relatively return via the main road. The descent towards Joppa Ridge had the LHT at 41.5mph on the descent. Weee!


Entrance to Joppa Ridge Rd., with barely discernible gate

If the rail-to-trail failed to meet expectations, Joppa Ridge Rd. exceeded them in every way. While only 2 miles, it steeply climbed out of the Green River valley on a nicely gravelled surface completely devoid of anything save the shade, whisper of the trees and my heavy rhythmic breathing from the climb. At some point a SUV with a canoe attached passed me, not far from the top of the climb, and I was able to keep site of him on the descent. Thinking that it was a simple "climb up, fly down", I was confronted with a short, steep climb towards the end of the road (seen in pic below). The entirely of the road was gravel, but NPS had paved- only once, and a while ago given the deterioration- the steep pitch to the top. I admit to walking a brief portion here.

Steep portion

After Joppa Ridge, turned my sights for the truck, using State Rd. 70, which doubled as a park road here. Notice in the pic, the mown, parklike maintenence of the road. With little traffic and a steady 3-4% grade towards Sloan's Crossing, it and Joppa made for the highlight of the ride.




If you look carefully, you may be able to discenrn three turkeys in this meadow. They're there. It's the same coven I passed earlier in the day. They're there, I promise.

I finished the ride up on the main road towards the truck, noticing that I had come across hillier terrain than I had realized. I really enjoyed the return portion, the trail, well, I did it. It might be fun in a group, or it might be more fun when the surface improves. Nagging aside, it made for a great ride, all in all, to experience new roads, new trails, a Nat'l park, and some honest mixed terrain. yea for me!
I

Bowling Green

I returned last night from a 3-day conference in Bowling Green, KY. Thanks to my good bud, Doug, and his lovely bride, Tamala, for their hospitality. The sessions ended late afternoon, so I had a nice 5.00-ish window to explore the town a bit. Tuesday night I took a evening ride that turned a bit dark in me, but I put in 10 miles of closetothehouse suburb riding. Oh, and Dough and I went to see the midnight showing of the Transformers movie. I was more entertained than I thought I would be, but it's 30% too long; good editing could've made for a fun time. Wednesday I headed out in the heat, using the Bowling Green bike map for assistance. I would like to chastise BG a bit for not making a more usable map; it offered vague hints but no concrete usage, especially in a map holder.



Same Greenway

Riverwalk over old bridge


This is listed as Kinlock Ln., on googlemaps, but as you can see, it used to be a lane. I turned around when it became singletrack out of fear. It was dark and scary.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Country Ride

We went to Plumville for an augmented family reunion on my wife's side yesterday. Since it was Father's Day, she was gracious enough to let me take a country ride for a couple hours. I'll let the pictures tell the story of a very nice 2-hr ride.
























Thomas Grocery, outside Tollesboro, KY


I believe Sugarloaf Mt. is to the left


main intersection of Burtonville, KY











came through that notch


"sign, sign, everywhere a sign..."


South Bear Wallow, 'nuff said














Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ride the Rans!!

"Ride the Rans!" was the rallying cry at the end of our 43-miler this morning, but the beginning had Dave and I taking advantage of an open Saturday. We went out early to beat the heat, using River Rd. and Rose Island Rd. to get some "easy" miles in and to let me try some mileage out on the Quickbeam. While I waxed poetic about the QB from my Lawrenceburg trip a couple weeks ago, I'm still trying to get a feel for its capabilities, and my own capabilities riding it. River Rd. is table-top flat, and Rose Island is about the same but with a few rollers just for good measure; both provided the means to stretch the early morning legs.

Our route started at 7.15 and took us through Seneca and St. Matthews before linking up to Lime Kiln via Rudy Ln. Once on River Rd. We were greeted with an empty path and morning sunrise sunshine. Ah!!! Below are the bikes by the tracks in St. Matthews. What is not pictured here is the bizarre sight of a small raptor almost attacking me, talons bared (sic). It flew off but scared the beejeebees out of me. Not something you would expect so early in the a.m.

early morning light

Bacchetta and Quickbeam

Our first significant obstacle wasn't the terrain nor the weather; it was entirely man-made and contentious to boot. River Rd. crosses Harrods Creek at a quaint one-lane bridge (it used to be a two-lane bridge before cars metastasized, requiring a reduction to one lane). Of late it is in horrible condition and the State condemned it, much to the dismay of the many yuppies that live in Prospect and western Oldham Co. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. It's well closed to autos, but it seems bikers are jumping the barriers and using the newer portion of River Road for futher training. Glad I don't have to worry about it on my commute, but it did lend us a nice 2-3 mile stretch today of very limited traffic, almost like a bike trail.

condemned Harrods Creek Bridge

Rose Island Rd. is old-school bucolic riding. I began riding here some 10 yrs ago, and although there was a bit of traffic, it reminded me of some river roads I had ridden many years ago in western St. Louis. Now, of course, there are several new developments and traffic is picking up, making it a bit more tenuous for bikes. I'm sure, before long, they will be flattening it and widening it so the SUVs fit and the soccer moms don't have to think while they talk on the cellphone while scheduling their Pilates workouts.

Rose Island Rd., "green tunnel"

Dave on Rose Island Rd.

After a little excitment with Dave's lack of attention paying (ask him), we turned back and took a very short side route down toward the river side (pic below). Also, here we decided to do a little bike swapping. Dave hadn't been on the QB, and I had only briefly ridden his Bacchetta. I think he found the short time quite nice, noting that the QB is really damn smooth, and its larger size fit him better than his short stay on the Bleriot last year. I also enjoyed the stability over the twitchiness of the Rans. I also noticed that, one back on the QB, the seat felt like it was going straight up my @#@$, but that disappeared a mile or so later.


old man river

historical house next to Harrod's Creek, owned by first African-American family in area

We finished up using River Rd. to link to Mockingbird Valley Dr. and then back through Seneca to Breadworks, where coffee and scones finished a very pleasant morning. This ride gave me 170m for the week, which is more miles than I had in February or April. The heat has set in, though. I got sufficiently hot yesterday on a 23-miler through the parks, and today I didn't drink as much as I should. It's time to adjust to the real summer conditions.





house hidden behind meadow


the 'Ville downriver

Oh, and Dave implored me to ride the Rans some this week. He has mentioned purchasing it, and maybe it's time to ride the damn thing or just sell it. Once observation I can make is that, after having ridden his, I needed to move my Rans seat much farther forward, and I did. I was way too stretched out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pocas Millas

My Sunday adventure made for a great weekend, but so far the week has been a mediocre non-starter kinda week. 2 miles yesterday going to the store (on the newly-tubed TrekSS), 13 miles total on Tuesday on 2 different errands. None Monday. Today I at least got up and out the door at a reasonable time for a reasonable ride, on the QB no less.

There wasn't anything special about the 23-miler on the usual Indian Hills route. There was something special, though, about the ride quality of the QB. It's magic. Really. If I were braver, stronger, and lighter, and boy, I sure am *not* lighter right now, I would make the QB the primary mount over the Bleriot. I don't know. They're different, but the QB is so smoother and steady, so assured on the road, the Jack Browns rolling in perfect unison. Yes, hyperbole, but also, yes, satisfaction. And I didn't get rained on either, today. This is now the 19th day in 27 that it has rained. The QB has no fenders and I still haven't procured a usable fender bracket to fix the Bleriot. Maybe today.

p.s. Addendum to previous rain notice. At 11.00 or so the sky turned green and then black and we experienced a doozy of a thunderstorm. As usual our little dead-end street lost power and only got it back last night (Friday @ 3.00a.m.). Thanks to the electrical crew for working 12 hours on our lonely, little street to bring us back into modernity.

Below is a pic for the Rapha Road Journal. If you haven't, check it out. Although the clothes are ridiculously overpriced, the images and stories of monster, epic rides is certainly worth a read on a rainy today such as today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Helmets

You can follow the various threads here, here and here of the old "helmet discussion" Nemesis. I usually wear mine; the only time I don't is when I wheel up to the local plant nursery a mile away. That said, when the RCCS took our Paris-Redux ride back in April, one of our riders hit a puddle-filled hole going slightly downhill at speed. He catapulted over the bars and landed directly, and I mean DI-rectly on his helmet-ensconced head. Without it he would've been hurtin' for certain. If I have one of those days when I feel like going "free", I'll think back to that day and probably make the safer decision.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wilco Friday

Cincinnatti Aronoff Center set list- Fri 6/12

1.
Wilco (The Song)
// E1: 19. The Late Greats
21. Walken
  • it was the wife's 9th time and my 8th seeing Wilco, beginning with their first tour back in '95. We actually saw Tweedy play on the final tour with Uncle Tupelo oh so long ago
  • I'm not sure why #22 is highlighted like that. I pulled the list form the WilcoBase site.
  • I enjoyed both "Spiders" and "Bull Black Nova" quite a bit. I'm a fan of dissonance and noise.
  • The selections are pretty heavy from 'Ghost' and 'SBS'. They only played a few off the new album. The fit pretty well in the typical Wilco repertoire, but don't break much new ground.
  • We had nice seats at the front of the first balcony, but we had cavalcade of 10 people constantly passing in front of us. It gets very, very, very tiring being stepped on by poseurs who are only there to have been there. It detracted from our show experience quite a bit. We're old. Can you tell?
  • I was surprised that there was no background. It was some basic lighting and not much else of a stage show.
  • The behind-the-scenes guys- Nels, Pat, Mike- are coming more forward as full bandmates than just hired extras.
  • I had a large McDonalds chocolate shake after the show. It was disgusting and I got what I deserved.
  • The crowed sang all night and seemed to know all the lyrics. I'm not sure what to think about that one. The crowd also reacted very enthusiastically to "Impossible Germany". I never have liked that song.
  • My fav Wilco venue out of those 8 was definitely the Iroquois Amphitheater who from a couple Octobers ago. My fav Wilco show overall was on the Summerteeth tour at Headliners when the wife was *very* pregnant with 'L'. Interestingly, she was pregnant with 'Z' at the first show. It hasn't affected their musical tastes, as least obviously. Neither likes Wilco all that much.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

70!

Longest ride since 1999, and a great one to boot. Info found over at RCCS. Other than some sore shoulders I felt pretty good through it all.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ride

Don't have anything enlightening to say. Finally got up this a.m. and did my "summer thing", which is to get up and out the door for a ride. I did a total of 42m, with a fair amount of it in a firm drizzle, for which I took the un-rust-able Blueridge. I combined 2 rides in one, doing a "park" ride with loops around Seneca/Cherokee and then did a RudyLn/IndianHills loop as well. If I had a magic bike fairy I would have it swap a shorter, more angled stem on the BR, but I guess it's good to have at least one bike that has me in a more classic "aero" position.

The bigger news is that we're off to see Wilco tonight in Cincy. Should be a very good time. Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wistful

This is but one pic from Doug's pictorial review of the Hiawatha Cyclery League Tour, aka "Gentlemen's Tour". I'm just generally very, very jealous. While I know folks do some touring in KY, including some overnighters hosted by the LBC, these trips in WI and MN are assisted by the great facilities they seem to have there. During their trip they used part(s) of the Root River Trail (60m), Cannon Valley Trial (19m), and Great River State Trail (24m). KY doesn't have any amenities of such nature; the longest "trail" I know of in KY is actually the Riverwalk here in Louisville, and it doesn't lead to any camping facilities. In fishing around for more info on the KYRtT site, I did find some nice pics of members scouting abandoned railway access between Lexington and Ashland, the enigmatic 'Big Sandy project. My point, of course, is that it's a bit more feasible for the MN crew to put together these picturesque trips when they have trails and virgin gravel at their disposal. We don't. Whaa!

That said, it's more the effort and the mindset than the facilties. "Where there is a will, there is a way."


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Errands and Injuries


Although I've officially been on summer break 4 days now, I still haven't pulled off my first "real ride" of the the summer. We've been busy with some yard and house projects and I'm trying to be helpful instead of absent like I was all Spring. Today I rode to my errand on the Crosscheck, but that's all the mileage I put in. I'm trying to make plans for a long ride or two coming up, so we'll see.

I also played some tennis with 'L' today, and as is my usual summer tradition, I injured myself, in this case with the usual twisted ankle. There's some minor swelling, and I'll live, but boy is it annoying, like usual.

We just got back from Dundee, where I made 'Z' ride his bike, thereby allowing me to grab another 2m. The bulb on the B&M seems to be burned out, but I have another. I fully intend on moving to the Lumotec Fly sometime early fall.

Actually, I just read PeterWhite's discussion of the LED headlights and he strongly suggests the taillight as well to avoid excess head in the headlight. More to think about, I guess. I sure do like the facility of a dynamo headlight.
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