Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hills

I rode 611 miles this month, my biggest total since last June (627m). The tour started me off with a bang at almost 250 miles for the four days. After that I didn't have any tremendous rides, but I did stay on the bike regularly.

 Today Dave, Timothy and I did some hills. It's so easy to fall down that path of least resistance and find those table-top flat routes, but I designed a course that would a) give me at least 600 for the month and b) not be too terribly easy. After coffee we took in some hills in Cherokee/Seneca and then a few more along River Rd. A short .25m jaunt up the new (to us) Rio Vista Dr. was a nasty little bugger. I'm glad it was relatively short. Towards the far end the other two need some sustenance, so I bade them adieu and came pretty much directly home for family obligations. Smartly we started at 7.00, so we found ourselves with temps in the 80s with a little bit of humidity; the forecast is for 105F, which is another issue entirely.

 Peace.
 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Doings


Been riding and walking. The HEAT is on now, so we'll see how to work in and around that. Yesterday I got antsy after the Germany/Italy game, so I jumped on the Troll and headed west in the 102F heat, probably my hottest bike ride every, or at least I can remember. I'm usually hit-n-miss on water consumption, but I sucked down 3 bottles in 30 miles and my eyes dried out. Strange. On the return I picked up Dave at Quill's and we did a loop through the park into St. Matthews and back to complete the total.

Wednesday, again antsy in the p.m. I jumped on the Troll and headed down to the river to take a look at the MTB Short Track Series, basically races on the 'cross course but on required mtbikes. As I stated to Dave yesterday, I can completely appreciate have *already* achieved the necessary fitness to be able to race. Whether I want to put in the effort to get to that point, I'm not sure. It was fun, though, and I got some good pics of Lithodale, BenK and MichaelS. I also ran into Derek from OYLC and a neighbor whose grandkids were involved somehow.

I'm within 50m of topping 600 for the month and I have 2 days to do it. It's awfully hot outside.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

gettin' some trail

Sometimes you just gotta get some trail!

Today has been an active one. This morning opened with a 50min walk under perfect, 67F, breezy, blue conditions. Perfect.

Later I moseyed down to OYLC on the Troll, first with a stop at Quills, for some tape and a few Honey Stingers. Drew did a fine job with a much more 'pro' look than some janky job of mine. My return led me to the Beargrass Trail for some heron watching and then home via a Cherokee cut-through.

Post smoothie, Luke and I took a brief bike ride, his first since The Accident. He lasted about 3m, which is great considering his bed-ridden status of the last few weeks.

And finally I "dusted" off- funny, very dusty today, in fact- a 1.15 mtbike ride in mostly Cherokee. Mtbike performance is so enigmatic. Today I felt great. I hit things hard, muscled the bike around, took things at speed and climbed well. I kept rolling until a few bad lines around the new "switchback" trail, but still cleared it alright. By the time I climbed the Seneca golf course trail the wind had left my sail, but a good day on the trails. Go figure.

**A side word about the trail conditions is that they were really rough. I think it's so dry that the ground is contracting and leaves these big, gaping ruts and holes all around. Rough.


Walk

Nothing special. Got a walk in this morning to start the day. 67F. No humidity. Azure skies. Beautiful.

As DerrickP says, "Get out there!".

(Before later in the week. They're forecasting 3-4 days in the triple digits.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Covered Bridge

I don't want to wallow online here, but suffice to say I'm disappointed where my fitness is now. I'm impressed with how much stronger some of fellow riders are at the moment, but hills that I charged up last summer are just creeping by now. And riders that I challenged (and sometimes bested) are *way* beyond me at the moment. Yesterday we had a peaceful, relaxed coffee ride, me spinning quite wildly on the QB. Great bike, but I like it better for solo rides.

Today I got up early and rode out towards PJ's neck of the woods for some early morning country miles. We descended Wolf Pen to River and linked up to the stair step climbs of Covered Bridge, returning via Sleepy Hollow and a quick coffee stop at Starsux at the Summit. I tried really hard, rode really hard and tried to push the pace but I just couldn't get over on top of the gear. PJ just sat there in his own SuperBuddha way, pushing a big gear and seemingly never in a moment's trouble; he could have left me miles behind at any moment. This course trod some of the same terrain as last year's Populaire. That was a 75m ride at 14.8avg in higher heat. Today's ride was 46m with a 15.4avg, much shorter and a much greater effort. And the Populaire had more climbing. Last year I remember portions of Wolf Pen when we were waiting for folks and I was in complete control; today I had to follow wheels so often.

 The bike was great. The route was great. The early morning was a perfect time to ride. And PJ was great, strong, relaxed. It was very disappointing, though, to ride my ass off and feel like I didn't really get anywhere.  I feel like I can count on one hand the number of strong rides I've had since last November. I don't know if it's weight, fitness, health or what, but you know those legs, and I haven't had them in forever.

Sea lo que sea.

 

Friday, June 22, 2012

3 hours

Walk 

  • 3.5m/1hr 

Ride

  The weight and fitness feel out of control, and I'm the only one who can control that. It's been a long few weeks after our fire accident. I may elucidate later; I may not. But it's improving and now it's time to kick out the cobwebs. Activity. Not so damn much food. Positive instead of negative. Relaxed instead of stressed. Goals at least.

Casey Co. MT

This past Monday I had to drive the teenager down to camp for the week. As I've done in the past, I used it for an excuse to get out on some country roads, some of them textured. And as in the past, the short steep climbs of the area kicked my butt. I'm in terrible shape right now.

A few miles into my route I took an early, wrong turn and had to re-route on the fly. I ended up hitting a new gravel section, but the re-route cut my northern leg short, missing a different batch of texture. I took the Crossheck thinking, but actually I wasn't thinking. Not enough gears. Or not enough legs.

I'm done. Pics tell the story.


All my FB friends tell me it's a boa constrictor.

Blackberries. Not quite.

Clear Branch Rd.

Clear Branch Rd.

Sign self evident, as is building.




Nice flow

Mas flow

Best guess is that this is Green River Knob on the Casey/Pulaksi border

Down Schoolhouse hill. I walked. Fact is it was so steep I couldn't get enough purchase on the Crosscheck to descend comfortably. I was wishing that I was on the Troll b/c I would have flow down.

After my interlude on Schoolhouse Rd. I re-routed again to head generally back onto course, using what was either Jonathan Fork Rd. to work my way east. That was a great rolling run snug up to a hillside providing some shade and some rollers to keep interest. Towards the end, though, I hit the climb out of the creek valley and didn't get far. By the top of that road I was pretty much finished for the day. I found a road that would get me back to my starting point. I did 26m on the day. I felt like crap. And I found the wonderful Shoolhouse Rd. (and Clear Branch again). Not a bad outing.

Walking path up Jonathan Fork. Steep and walkable.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

Surly Troll thoughts

Prior to a recent tour I decided to upset the apple cart and order a Surly Troll frame to replace my longstanding primary grunt rig, a Surly LHT.  The LHT, bought perhaps 6 years ago, has served mostly every purpose imaginable for me: commuter, gravel-grinder, hauler, coffee stroller, and long-distance rig. As recently as this past Christmas I asked for an received a couple pieces of kit to better dress up the LHT, including Ortlieb backrollers and a Tubus Logo. Things were good.

Sometime this Spring, I made two different observations which led to the Troll decision. First, the LHT was starting to show its age. There is some rust forming along the seatstay bridge, not a frame killer but more a source of fade, like an older car which starts to need random servicing. Also, given my bike collection, I have some repetition; I could do what I do on the LHT with another, more-spirited bike like my even older Crosscheck.  I decided to change.

What has facilitated the swap is the 26"-sized wheel. My LHT is 26", as is the Troll, so changing over wheels was no problem. The crankset and brake set were in good shape, and transitioning to a mtbike frame also gives me another chance at a Jones Loop Bar, one that didn't agree with me that well on the LHT. the only specific kit I needed for the  Troll was a new headset and new BB to deal with wider chainstay placement for potentially *wide* rubber on the Troll. I'm running my old 1.75" Conti TravelContacts, but this bike screams for some 2.15" or wider rubber.

For the tour, my set-up was as follows:

  • 16" Troll frame with a predominant Shimano Deore LX drivetrain and V-brakes
  • two random wheels, both sporting Shimano hubs and very used Conti TravelContacts
  • Jones Loop bar with Paul's Thumbies and Garmin 60cx that getsh the job done
  • VO seatpost and Brooks B-17 saddle
  • Orblieb Backrollers on a Tubus Logo. Tent, Thermalite, sandals and rainjacket attached to that
  • no fenders. I had the rear one mounted with some brake clearance issues. I bought an $8 "mudguard" or something that didn't do much. A touring bike needs fenders.
So, thoughts:
Pros:
  • much more nimble frame that LHT. Feels lighter, livlier and more fun than ponderous LHT.
  • very stable at speed. I hit speeds in excess of 40mph with touring gear a couple times b/c I was so confident. That isn't to say that the LHT isn't rock solid as well, but descents were *fun* on this rig.
  • carried weight well enough. With a primarily rear load I did get some front end waggle, which if I didn't try to induce, never caused any issue. Next time I will try to put a little weight on the front via a rack or under-the-bar roll like the bikepackers are doing.
  • for me a proper size, which keeps my frame rather small but stiff for dragging the weight.
  • a Hell of a rig on mixed terrain. *SO* in its element on the chunky stuff. It immediately makes me want to find some more.
  • while the lack of compartments keeps me busy staying organized, the Ortliebs did a great job keeping things secure and dry. We had heavy rain one night and I suffered no concern about my gear.
  • MtFeedBags provided extra storage up front. I used the left one for food and sunglasses, the right for camera. Good system, and the Jones bar has the extra handholds to make it happen.
  • potential for big rubber. Have I already said that?
Cons:
  • still undecided about the Jones bar. When I was climbing or graveling- basically mtbike applications- I enjoyed their positions and options. When I was plowing across wide expanses of road sections my hands got tired. Basically I found myself not using my abs (what abs?) and leaning too heavily on them. Still undecided.
  • the front end waggle wasn't a prob, but I never experienced than on the LHT. It's the difference between a touring and mtbike rig, I presume.
  • had to ride older 1.75 Contis. Didn't have the $$ for new fat Schwalbes.
In the end I'm very satisfied with my decision. I don't think the Troll is quite the road grinder that the LHT is, but the Troll also opens up newer avenues of mixed-terrain, fire roads, trails and such. With road rubber it did 90% of the necessary tasks that the LHT road machine does, and brings a much livelier feel. Other than making decisions about bars/cockpits and such, the Troll is an upgrade to my stable, and I already look forward to find other applications for its skillset. 








Thursday, June 07, 2012

West End Loop

On the QB. Not bad.

Tour Day3

Day 3 was met with stiff legs and grey skies. Little did we know how grey the grey would become, and on a personal level how stiff the legs would be as well. After a quick breakfast including Dave's most excellent pre-cooked bacon, we moved out and onto some rolling IN roads on the way to Orleans for our first mini-stop. There was no real reason for a stop after only 8m, but we all seemed to relax and enjoy our choco milk. Once back on the road venturing south towards Paoli I was feeling every little rise. Very tired legs at this point.



Panorama looking NE on a climb just north of Paoli 

At this point I think we were still dry, but the pics reflect heavy skies. Although we were only at 18m in Paoli, it was the only logical lunch stop, so stop we did, but not before rolling around the town square with its old-school town center. Someone made the suggestion of Super Burger, which I'm pretty sure the other three made work of- burgers. I wasn't feeling very well, nor riding very either, so I made work of two grilled cheeses. Timothy and Asher missed the turn (a little too far ahead of the gps holders) at Belle Ford Rd; they received the punishment of an extra climb on busy 150 and Dave and I received the bonus of another rest.

The next portion of the day was one of rain and hills. The rains finally opened up somewhere in there, really right around the time Timothy broke a chain. At some point Dave and I were hiding under his foam bag pad. The steady coolish wet combined with incessant hills, some rolling, some climbs, really sucked the life out of me personally. We eventually pulled into Marengo and had a long stop there, first buying snacks and drinks along with a little beer and ice (dry-bag) for our campsite and then a pizza across the street. I'm pretty sure I took a nap in the pizza parlor.

Darkness descending along Belle Ford Rd.

Next to Blue River



Somehow, the 10 miles outside Marengo changed the course of the day, literally, physically, and for me spiritually. OK, that's a little dramatic. The rains continued, along with the temp in the upper 60s. It was cool and I was the only one to bring a rain jacket. Doh! So, within the 10m after Marengo we faced the twin killer of Depot Hill (not one depot hill but two) where we raced and mostly beat a tractor, at least on the downhill. I hit 44mph on the Depot downhill. Interspersed were numerous little climblets along the Blue River before hitting another substantial climb of around 1 mile climbing out of the river valley. It was at that point that Dave brought up that he was soaked, his sleeping bag was soaked, and he was prepared to detour to Corydon for a hotel stay instead of a miserable wet tent night. Asher agreed enthusiastically. I approached the detour with trepidation because I couldn't get lost. I had to just finish this day. And Timothy wanted to camp because it was a camping trip.

We briefly discussed the pro's and con's and decided to trust Dave's gps and follow its short-cut to Corydon and skip the last night's camp. We immediately found intrigue when our through-road was gravel and downhill. After a brief discussion with a motorist as to whether it went through, we barreled down Rothrocks Mill Rd., ironically my favorite road of the trip. What we found was a combo of deep, shaded forest, gravel and a slight descent which later became significant as we head towards the Blue River. The Troll was firmly in its element here and I divebombed down, giving myself some time to stop and catch "action shots" of my comrades. What a gorgeous road!








Troll in its element.



Blue River

We got out comeuppance at the bottom when we faced the steepest climbs of the day coming out of the valley. We also picked up a friend who shepherded us for miles. After the fun of the river valley, we eventually found ourselves back on more standard country roads, eventually on 337 with its narrow shoulders, taking us into north Corydon and to a Holiday Inn Express. I was too tired to drink very much of the beer I had carried for 25m, and too tired to even watch TV. We had a snack at Culver's and went to bed by 10. A long sometimes miserable day, but a memorable one.



Dave's feet aren't look too hot, or are they?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tour Day 2

After our rainy night day 2 started reasonably straightforward. Ian decided to take to head back to the barn for some pack planning for the next outing. Did I mention that he packed a lot? We rode together for a brief spell and he bade us adieu, only to meet up with him later at the end of Chicken Run Rd.

Clifty Falls in the distance




The pic below shows a Paul's Thumbie with some strange contraptions holding it together. Those are called "zip-ties", and I had to use both mine and Ian's to keep my shifter together. I was loosening it to change the angle when the bolt sheared off. Ian's zip-ties were thicker than mine, so a combo of 3 held it together nicely. Thanks Ian!!  We bade him adieu again, he turning south back home and us turning north and then west towards our next destination, Spring Mill State Park.



Words can't really describe how ugly this is.
Our second day legs weren't quite as fresh as our first day ones, but we were making reasonable

W366N (I'm pretty sure), a nice respite of shade amid thick trees. It provided a good snack spot.

Hardy Lake S.P., which may provide future camping options.

Muscutatuck River. The areas around this low-lying creek provide many gravel opportunities.


After seeing Hardy Lake, the dog, and the river we stopped in Crothersville for lunch, finally eating at a Subway after looking at some local options. The AC and drink refills were appreciated. I even stopped by the local store and bought some soap and the cashier gave me a free mini-roll of duct tape since they didn't have any electrical tape for sale. Nice.  What wasn't nice was the mileage after the lunch stop, at least for me. We faced a 20m stretch of very flat riding directly into a steady 15mph headwind, not epic, but not much fun either. Frankly I disliked this stretch pretty intensely.

flat

Wow! We were downwind of this for a while and, boy, what it foul! or is that, fowl!?


By the time we reached the shaded little oasis at Vallonia Nursery I need a quick nap in the grass. A quickie did the trick and we continued, crossing 135 and immediately noticing that the terrain was becoming a bit more rolling- for me more interesting- and the wind less of an issue. Even better, Dave's route had us turn onto some of my beloved gravel. Heart! I was certainly the most prepared of us three- Asher with a 23/25 combo and Dave on 40s on the 'bent- and I took advantage to casually push the pace out a bit. Ironically, this area became the apex of my form for the day. We turned right onto another gravel road, and after playing hopscotch with some farm vehicles, I pushed it out again and noticed a nice river with some gravel getting chunkier by the minute, at least through the turn. My mind thought as to how interesting it was that this turn was so similar that one we went through last August on a gravel ride out of Mitchell, the day I had the best for of my life. Lo and behold! It was the same stretch, only from a different direction! And if last August I was leading the pack, this day by the time we reached Medora, I began drifting back and Asher was the one taking up the pace.




The wife laughed at yet another Heron pic. I like Herons.

Troll against the backdrop of old muddy and 'Stefani'.



Gravel panda, with a sprinkling of suffer face

The "tunnel" of Tunnelton?

At some point we hit the hills, doing a series of half-mile-ish climbs towards our destination. I took advantage of my mountain bike gearing and cleared the Tunnelton Road climb, but that was it; I had sapped the legs for good. Asher distanced himself on the next Lawrenceport climb, while I walked (I won't speak for Dave), the opposite of what took place last summer. We crawled into camp only to find that our entrance road was closed, so we added a few more miles to the official entrance- manned by some rather slow dudes- and descended into the campground to find Timothy already set up. He had left much earlier and arrived much earlier, giving himself time for a swim.  We had an amazing amount of room with a relatively empty camp- although one much less nice than the one at Clifty.

The night turned a bit more interesting around 1.00a.m.- same time as the rains the previous night- when our camp was invaded by either a racoon or two of them. Dave did some of the early work, and I joined in in an effort to fend them off. They had originally stolen a jar of peanuts, which I then retrieved, much to the dismay of the offender, who at first approached me to get me peanuts back. Codger!  Dave and I secured what we could and went to bed hoping that they would leave us alone.  I went to sleep and assume they did.

Email to mysurly69@yahoo.com