Saturday, June 29, 2013

Skyline Metric

What can I say? Something got in my noggin, mostly likely some inspiration from @lithodale and all of his mileage shenanigans, but I awoke early (after a bad night's sleep) and reeled off a solo metric, 100k, of southern Indiana bliss yesterday morning. The ride felt like three or four distinct stages, the first two of which were some of the best riding I've experienced in a while.

As I crossed the bridge I noticed it being pretty windy, but I turned east for the roll along Utica Pike and could barely feel the pedals. Tailwind! I made very good time in to Utica and then felt very comfy up Waterline Rd. (where I saw a red-headed woodpecker and several goldfinches). I assumed the run along Bethany Rd. would be more into the NW wind, but aside the rollers I still felt really good along Bethany/Stoney Point. Again, figuring my turn onto Brick Church would bring headwinds, instead I found a tree-covered road along the Singing Fork creek with just enough profile to make it interesting. I don't ever remember being on that road, but I really liked it. I turned south into Sellersburg for a stop right at the mid-point and felt great, pulling in with a 16mph average. Stage 1 completed.

If Stage 1 was bliss, stage 2 was my comeuppance. What I thought was a NW wind was more like a SW one, into which I dragged myself along various St. Joe roads. My combo of barbq chips (salt, you know) and choco milk wasn't sitting well. Then  I came upon the redone St. Joe/Dug Knob climb, which unfortunately isn't even a mile long. It contains plenty of steep, though, and that is where my fancy bike loses out. I'm "ample" and I need me some small gears to climb and the fancy Campy just doesn't have enough smallage for fatties. And so I toiled. Stage 2 with one of the slowest climbs up St. Joe ever was in the bag, huffing and puffing.

The I took a left and began Skyline Drive, which follows the contour of the knob ride in S.IN just to the north of the 'Ville. I had heard about it but don't think I ever rode it in its entirety, but yesterday I did. I found blue skies and enough legs to enjoy the ebb and flow of such a great cycling road. It moves away from the knob edge to do the little half-mile climb up Christian/S.Skyline- I still had some legs there- and then dived down Spickert Knob. @Lithodale intimated that Spickert was quite the descent, and it certainly was. I wish I knew the road better. At this point I was getting sort of tired and sort of butt tired, so I gingerly picked my way through New Albany until I found Lithodale's place of employment where I stopped for a water break and chatted him up for a minute or two. Stage 3 was completed. Successful, but I was tired.

Stage 4 was the anticlimactic "transpo" stage through N'albany and Clarksville before crossing the river and in to home. I had different notions of stopping for coffee, for a snack, or even to get my bars re-wrapped, as the Brooks leather was moving on the left side of my bar. Instead I somewhat meekly picked my way down the busy traffic of B'town and into home. My slowest "laps" by far- aside the world's slowest climb- were my last 8 miles on the transpo portion. I was toast and later in the afternoon felt it even more. I laid around like a zombie, to be honest. I think I like rolling along at fat-man-on-rbw pace better, but it was great to get out and push the envelope a bit. And anybody living in the 'Ville should try this course out as a metric. Absolutely fabulous from miles 10-45. As good as it gets in the area.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Clark State Forest S24O

A S21O, to be precise. I needed some adventure and to test out some recent gear purchases, so I strong-armed Dave into going with.  Our usual S24O spot at JeffForest is fine, but it's nice to see some new sights and see what else is available, and ClarkSF seems to offer cheap accommodations ($10.70/night), a reasonable distance at 35 miles, and a bit of newness about it.  I had family doings, so I didn't leave the house until 5.00 and picked Dave up en route.  He has suggested making an extra 5-mile loop to hit up Charlestown Pizza on the way up, so that was our first goal.

We have few pics from the first leg because western skies were generally threatening the entire time. After climbing Waterline Rd., we found a stiff headwind running into Charlestown, which made those few miles quite a drag. Once in Charlestown, we found them having their Founders' Day Celebration, which meant the pizza joint was closed. I'll admit that my mood departing and for these first 27 miles was less than stellar. I think Dave could have convinced me to turn around and head home. We found a Subway on the far end of town and I downed a sandwich, chips and cookies hoping for a pick-me-up. We also consulted the phones for a glimpse of the dark clouds just to the west. It looked like mucho rain. My mood worsened.  

The Hell with it! We soldiered on.

Interestingly the food combined with the last 10 miles of road really improved my mood. We found roads that Dave (and I) used to ride when he lived in Charlestown- rolling, empty, bucolic. Bliss. I think Dave suffered a bit on the 'bent, but we pulled into Henryville before reaching the park and looked for some amber refreshment, which we found at our second gas station. I had brought a drybag, so we filled it with ice and our night-time beverages and then rolled into the Forest looking for the campground of which I had little-to-no knowledge.

In the fading light we found the signs and eventually the campground and tried to register and pay, only to find no pens. How could we register without a writing implement? I kept an envelope and had my $ ready in case a ranger showed. Camp set-up for me was a new experience. Instead of my usual bag and tent I was trying out my new-ish military bivy with  silk sack liner and an updated Big Agnes Air Core pad

Some props to BA. I sent off an REI-purchased BA pad of some sort with a leak expecting a repair bill and BA warrantied it and gave me a new pad in its place. #GreatService  Reviews in later post.

We had already eaten, so camp consisted up setting up our gear and then sitting at the table drinking our ice-down beverages. Aside from a few bugs the campground was mostly empty and our out-of-the-way spot was under some nice tree cover and far away from anybody else. Very peaceful.  We settled down around 11.30 or so.

I awoke around 7.00 after a mediocre- BUT DRY- night's sleep. The rain never arrived thankfully. Dave woke up there of and after some camp coffee and oatmeal, we headed out for our return leg, which at some point became a basic transport leg to get into town for breakfast. Our early route consisted of more emtpy bucolic rural roads. As we got closer to town the conditions- both road and air- were changing; it was quite humid and warm, and instead of running up St. John's Hill and Skyline Drive as planned, we ploughed an easier route through Sellersburg to Hamburg Pike and in. Twig-n-Leaf finished our trip.  What was a ponderous early leg became a nice S24O. Good decision.

(BTW, my camera didn't have it's card, so these are from my phone and some of them downright suck.)

Atlantis for S24O duties. Excellent.

Dave-n-coffee/oatmeal. His two-man Alps Mountaineering is behind.

My (blurry) bivy set-up. I'll  review it in a different post.

Green friend who made his home on the green bag.

ClarkSF campground green

If visiting CSF, the water spigot is at the building on the left. It wasn't all that evident. This saved us from going back into Henryville in the morning.

Some maps have this as blocked/closed, and, in fact, it is. Being on two wheels we were able to get through.

Dave off-roading on the 'bent. He had just bunny-hopped the log.

Crossing I-65

If you know your Bruegel the Elder, then this is quite Bruegelesque.

Clark State Forest Campground

  • Cheap at $10.70 for a large site. We ended up not paying, but did try
  • Large sites. Could fit multiple tents. Included one or two tables and a fire ring
  • For a Lou-CSF roll, the route via Waterline, Bethany, Hansberry, Murphy is an awfully nice ride. 35 miles, which is doable for a S24O. We just did it!
  • There were 5 campsites being used out of 26. Seems to not be very busy.
  • Generally pretty
  • Water and adequate, new pit toilets
  • Access to hiking trails (and horse trails) and other stuff at CSF
  • Biggest one is that the camp sites next to the interstate (see previous pic). It can't be seen from the camp but can certainly be heard. Biggest negative.
  • No firewood available.
  • Henryville has few amenities, so not good for food, meals, etc. Limited beverage options at one gas station.
  • Our site had lots of large, red ants. They didn't bite, but still.

Birds- I didn't specifically look for them as on other trips, but they're around.
Eastern Bluebirds
Northern Mockingbirds
Indigo Buntings
Brown Thrasher in camp
Hawk (flying overhead)
Great Blue Heron (flying overhead)
Red-winged Blackbirds

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tonight, tonight...

Amid a typically busy family, day, looks like Dave and I might have a destination.

 More to come...


Monday, June 17, 2013

Where is Susan's Amish Bakery?

I'm a little tired but still giddy about what a *great* ride I pulled off today. Suffice to say it was a route, a moment, and some well-positioned Pringles that made for my second day in a row of mixed-terrain riding, this time solo and in KY, Casey and Lincoln counties to be a bit more precise.

 I had to drop to drop Z off at his first week of church camp, so I planned an afternoon to search for the elusive Susan's Amish Bakery, of the KY Donut Trail fame. My route had me at little over 40 miles, and I had a clear free afternoon to again ramble around in this central KY area.  The ride can easily divided in thirds, albeit not in actual mileage.

The first third took me from Yosemite, KY up to the location where Susan's Bakery was to be on state road 643 near Crab Orchard, KY.  Previously I had only descended state 501, but today in my second mile I had the opportunity to warm up via a 1k climb that saw in excess of 10%.  On top, 501 gave me a 10-mile run of ridge-top running under sunny skies, but with some dark foreboding in the distance. After crossing 27 the roads got lumpier into the Buck Creek valley at Kocher Ridge, but the .3m steepie dumped me onto another sunny ridge-top where the tractors were cutting hay and setting tobacco plants (a bit late). I turned onto 643 and began looking for the enigmatic Susan's and found nothing. I eventually stopped at Ottenheim Cemetery (or church. I think it was a Lutheran church. Old.) to use my phone (with only a sliver of service) and eventually gave up on a mid-ride treat and ate some dark chocolate and had water.

Looking back climb up 501

Rainy, foggy distance. I like this.

The disappearing culture and vision of KY tobacco. Yes, it's bad for you, but it's KY.

Bridge across Buck Creek

Ottenheim church in middle of field. Not sure what's going on here.

Seafoam with front bartube bag for gps and binoculars (later camera and even later bagged pringles and rear Carradice Pendle bag. That's an awfully nice-sized bag for one-day trips such as today. Awfully nice country bike, at Ottenheim church.

Thus began the next third of the day, and I can't say that it was much fun at all. Just before arriving at Ottenheim I notice that my rear derailer cable had moved out of its cable guide and had practically fallen on to my crankarm. I fiddled with it some and had it shifting, but during this next 10-mile leg from Ottenheim to Waynesburg it slipped out a couple more times, necessitating stops. The run along Schuler/OK Schuller Rd. was sort of grimy and dark, my first sketchy road of the day. Then, somewhere during this I encountered a perfect storm. Ha! My biking was shifting poorly, I ran into a wall, another .3-mile 10+% steepie, and at this exact time the heavens opened with a furious deluge, not a summer rain but a bucket of wet death raining down on my climb/not-climb. The final miles in to Waynesburg and a gas station proved pretty low and challenging: wet, weak, mopey, shifty, blah. A positive is that I hit 43.5mph on a descent mid-ride. Fun!

St. Sylvester, rather new

Claustrophobia along Schuler Rd.

I stopped in Waynesburg and bought chocolate milk and some barbque chips to get some salt back in my system, as well as some Nuun-infused water. It helped that it had stopped raining and I was drying out, and aside my mediocre mood I also knew that about 10 miles remained; I could suffer through that. I bombed down the nice descent of Pond School Rd and found the intersection of S Fishing Creek Rd. Almost immediately, my mood improved. Maybe it was the Pringles. First I encountered a strange, foreboding intersection into a wilderness abyss, a stop sign to nowhere. I like those. Then I moved along S Fishing Creek, which in all honesty has been added to the mental "Top Roads" list. As its title suggests, it hugs the contours of Fishing Creek and the valley it follows. I don't remember encountering one car (maybe one) nor one house. It was secluded, scenic, and had "flow". While not gravel, the road surface was deteriorating asphalt, which sort of felt like gravel underfoot the 26" Marathons. After too few miles I made the turn onto the Fishing Creek bridge and stopped for a couple to take things in. Very shortly thereafter I found another highlight of the day- maybe the best- in Phillippe Rd., a mile+ gravel climb up through a close, dark, cool tunnel of trees and terrain. The surface made it challenging, but it stayed in the 5-7% range, making it rideable. I did stop for a breather at some point, but more so I just wanted to drink up the mood of the texture of the road and surrounding greenery. Phillippe Rd. had a nice feel all the way to its terminus at 837, where I made a quick turn to find my final road of the day, Bastin Creek Rd. Again, I had a creek to follow. I had previously climbed this and remember it being a steady up. Today it began with a bombing 35mph careen through the trees and 5 miles of downhill for the most part. I felt great, pumped the short rises and finished in a way that had nothing to do with my mid-ride storm-fueled malaise.

Fishing Creek Rd., or not. A road into the grassy distance. This stop sign is actually not along the road. I can 't really figure this out, but I like it. My camera accidentally switched over to "pinhole". I like it.

Pin-holed S Fishing Creek Rd. I like it.

Fishing Creek

Sunny Seafoam on Fishing Creek

Phillippe Rd. gravel climb

Looking north just of 70 at 501

Today was proof-positive that longer rides have varying moods just as the contours of central KY vary from wooded creek runs to exposed ridges along with steep, sudden jolts of climbing. One road can include a climb, an open tour of fields and then disappear into a silent world. KY is great for bike riding.

I did a bit of bird watching today, although I find that I need to either choose to ride or view, but it's challenging to do both. Something to consider. Following are ones I remember. None is special; they're all KY summer birds and I sort of like that about them:

barn swallow (a bit more obvious)
swallows aplenty- small and hard to differentiate
eastern kingbird (binocs)
turkey vulture
brown-headed cowbird
eastern meadowlark (numerous)
blue indigo (numerous)
mourning dove
kingfisher (at the one clean pond I saw all day long. The rest were algea-green)
red-winged blackbird
I won't count the innumerable sparrows and other little brown birds I didn't try to ID
bobwhite (heard)
eastern mockingbird
brown thrasher (binocs)
Raptor- I saw one late in the ride at a distance getting harassed by some smaller birds. No clue which one.
Fighting cocks
Domestic chickens- One yard had LOTS

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vitamin G IN style

Suffice to say I haven't been on a gravel ride in a good while. The impetus for our many vitamin G sojourns has dried up a bit; life is busy for 1-hour drives just to ride bikes. That said, PJ and I plotted to use our Father's Day to get an interesting ride in. Asher and Dave also plotted to jump in on the action. Their original plan might have included riding up there for the pre-ride, much like they did for the Populaire a couple weeks ago. Eventually they decided to drive as well, but morning of they had to bail due to lingering pain and suffering, or something like that.

We got an early start at 7.30 so PJ could get back in time for dad lunch, using known roads generally to the north of New Washington, IN. Our early roll was hampered by a grumpy belly on my part, but eventually we hit some gravel with a really nice run along W Arbuckle and after a pit stop things improved. Shortly after we found the infamous S.Hutchinson Rd.. Unfortunately, two things worked against us, first the mud pit in which Dave had previously sunk, and then the tall grass, which we later realized had offered the many summer ticks a free ride onto our legs. We each pulled off 5 or more; hopefully none found warmer climates.

Arbuckle Rd, maybe the best of the lot.

Going north on S. Hutchinson Rd., always an interesting highlight.

After the tick cleaning we hit a 5-mile stretch of flat, misty riding where Pat ground out a solid gear and I struggled between cogs. Pat it is his element pounding out a cog on the flats and I'm a weak pansy.  Our flat leg dumped us onto the rather steep descent of W Ten Cent Rd, where we found a very nice view of the Ohio River valley, a highlight, but I think the climb *up* would be very challenging.

We then were on somewhat familiar roads along S River Bottom Rd. where we found splashy humid conditions and something of a headwind. Pat had no clue that Lee Bottom Flying Field was down on the river plain, and I had no idea they had a website. Impressive. The river bottom road transitioned to gravel towards the southern end and we then hit the climb which is listed as W Saluda Hill. PJ ground up. I ground to a halt, where I had to walk to catch my breath.  That said, Saluda Hill is one of the nicer runs in the area, paved or textured.

Once out of the valley we directed our way back to our starting point, leaving out Taylor Rd. gravel due to my failing rhythm. I have no explanation. The last third of the ride was a bit tough for me, what with a tiny headwind to help, but none-the-less it was a very pleasant mild summer day of country riding.

Pat in the distance as I lagged with flagging form.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What I did today

A very common question I receive as a teacher is any kind of variation on, "What are you going to do with your summer?".

Here is what I did today, so far:

  • Woke up at 7.00am
  • Watered the flowers and the front road bed which was a bit dry
  • Drove to Breadworks to get coffee and scones for the family (should have ridden, I know)
  • Sat at patio table, drank coffee and read the newspaper a bit
  • At 8.15, took 'L' to his art camp
  • Sat at the computer and played with maps for potential rides and tours.
  • Rode a bit over 20 miles. I stopped at Caperton Swamp for some bird nerding and then at Eva Bandman for more bird nerding. Fact is, the weather (75F, sunny, lowish humidty) is just about perfect and I'm happy to ride, view, putter, ramble, ride, etc. I'm not very driven to pile on mega-mileage at the moment.
  • More computing including a letter to the passport office about 'Z's' missing passport. Both the post office and someone there screwed up and they're suggesting we pay $72 to expedite it for his July trip. Screw that. They screwed up. They should finish the damn thing and mail it here, thanks.
  • Mid-afternoon blog writing and bird researching
  • Shower
  • In a mad dash, from 3.30 to 5.30 I ran to Kroger to drop off a prescription and then picked 'L' up from art camp and then returned to Kroger to pick up scrip and then to home for 'L' to change and to give scrip to 'Z' and then to MVSC for a summer pick-up game
  • Read a book and watched an indoor soccer game
  • Picked 'Z' up and went to Buckhead's- Z's choice. Had a nice flight of IPAs mostly and a chicken sandwich with veggies.
  • Stopped by Party Mart for various sundries.
  • Am now home, partaking of sundries, finishing the post and living the Dream. 
That's what I do on my summer break.

Caperton Swamp:
  • kingfisher- "Caperton Kingfisher" I'll call him. He's been there 3x now
  • two black-crowned night heron
  • great blue heron (flustered and flying off)
  • grackles aplenty
  • **unidentifiable heron-  he was hiding down in the reeds a bit and I didn't get a good look at him. Smaller, squatter neck than the usual great blue
  • **some kinda ducks with a funky head, but I don't think it was a mallard. could have been from afar.
  • male cardinal in field
  • downy woodpecker in field
  • **carolina wren- most likely, but they were flittering about and didn't get a good look
  • Great blue heron EvaBandman/Beargrass Creek
  • black-crowned night heron EvaBandman/Beargrass Creek
  • cliff or barn swallow- they fly so fast I have a hard time differentiating  EvaBandman/Beargrass Creek
  • pair of goldfinches along River Rd.
  • red-winged blackbirds in EvaBandman field
  • robins, lots of robins
  • Mallard duck mother and approx 8 ducklings  EvaBandman/Beargrass Creek
  • Killdeer at boat dock
  • Starling flock at old Louisville Country Club
  • domesticated geese flock at boat dock- same one I've seen there before
  • mother wood duck and approx 5 ducklings Beargrass Creek Trail

Huge poison ivy vine fallen. "Leaves of three..."

Caperton Swamp path

Caperton field

Beargrass Creek confluence at Ohio River at Eva Bandman. Heron in the middle. Terrible pic.

Fine Night

No,  I didn't pound a hundy yesterday in the wonderful weather. Instead I rebuilt the compost pile and spent a good hour or more cutting honeysuckle and wild grape off the corner of the fence. It's looking a bit less wild now.

In the evening the fam wanted to go close for supper so we decided to roll up to Dundee Tavern, the local. Given the proximity, I decided to roll up on the Sogn instead of the car, and I was pushy about eating outside. How often do you get mid-70s and low humidity in the 'Ville in summer? Never!  Aside directly facing the sun (thank you occasional clouds), it was a very chill, dare I say, urbane meal on the patio if you want to call it that. The two Guinness helped.

The evening took an interesting turn as we were finishing up when a big pack of casual cyclists came rolling up, and to my somewhat surprise, I knew quite a few of them. Just a week ago on Facebook I saw a picture of numerous parents of former students- pretty much all from the neighborhood- on Facebook at a bicycle soiree at 'Ville's famous Mike Linning's. Seems that this crew of middle-agers gets out on all forms of bicycles and visits "destinations", which I think might involve cold, refreshing beverages and good food. Well,  last night this group grabbed plenty of tables and set themselves about fooding and rehydration and general revelry. Fact is, it looked Fun! Some of the group included the famous De Vlaeminck (name changed) brothers with whom I used to ride in the summers. Fast, fit boys they are. I loved the broad spectrum of cyclists in this crew: "real" roadies, newbies, two daughters- former students- representing absent parents, a tandem in full kit, *all* shapes and sizes of active middle-agers.

My own crew moved on to Graeter's for some summer ice cream, but I later walked back and rejoined the cyclist crew for another yummy brown water. Seems that Thursday night at 6.30 is the night for this crew. What a wonderful summer tradition to get involved in! I hope to make it a regular appointment for myself.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Army bivy + compression sack

With some health hiccups, a still-busy family schedule, and just a sheer lack of "GO!", I've not exactly begun my #SummerCyclingSeason with a bang, this year, but the summer is still young. Instead of miles, I've piled on some minor swag purchases to prepare for ensuing adventures, in part facilitated by some tennis year-end gift cards. I'm going to post some pre-adventure thoughts on said items, and once put through the paces, I'll give each a "review" as needed. So here goes.

Gore-tex military bivy: $42 (w/shipping) from Amazon. I spent quite a bit of time websearching tent options for summer touring, as I'm uninspired with my 1-man AlpsMtneering tent. Eventually I ditched the 'new tent' concept and started looking at bivys, ony to find that they're as expensive as tents.  With my limited and occasional camping outings, I decided to go the cheap route and buy a military bivy. They're are generally well-rated for dryness and quality and less-well-rated for weight and "features". As received, it really is a gore-tex sack with a zipper, snaps for extra weather protection and a make-shift hood enclosure that would seem to have the chance to suffocate you in a storm. As a person who doesn't *plan* to camp much in driving storms, I'm not as worried about that at the moment.

While easily stuffable in the bottom of a pannier, I decided to get a Sea-to-Summit compression bag to make the bivy as pannier friendly as possible. I originally bought the medium with a Dick's card but found that I only needed a small, and so exchanged. The bivy now stuffs down to the size of a 2-liter, maybe a little wider but also shorter. The manageable size will fit in either a pannier, Carradice longflap or a backpack if I were to take up that route.

The hope is to use the bivy sack sometime soon for a S24O or for a short tour in lieu of using the 1-man tent. I can see the gore-tex being a bit warm in summer, but I have some options to deal with that as well.  More to come.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Bummer. Afib lasted a solid 24 hours+ and finally settled down last night. Left me pretty wiped. Not much motivation to ride. Not much motivation to do much of anything.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm trying to start the summer positively but the last couple days have been near rotten. Sunday I can barely remember except that I paid the price for spending Saturday eating junk food and drinking beer. It was a beaut of a day and I wasted it. Yesterday, Monday, I spent the morning catching up on some year-end at work and then hit this dead period in the afternoon where I couldn't, or didn't, do anything productive whatsoever while waiting for a child to get out of camp. To remedy my perturbedness, after pick-up I went out on SeaFoam and rolled some miles, but to my detriment, at some point I had a nasty Afib episode and really had to back off the jets. I came home and took a pill hoping it would cease but I sit here 12 hours later and it's still flopping a bit. Combined with the weight gain of tennis season and an absurd diet, it's time to clean things up for summer. Stay positive! (while being pretty damn negative).

Not bad

Looks like something exotic or very rural; instead it's a service road down at Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park

Where's Waldo? One of these chaps it our eldest, EMS. He's blond. (Figure AMidnightRider would appreciate this.)

Don't know why, but g+ picked up some old West Coast pics. This is of a garden in Portland unless I'm mistaken.

And the comely Columbia gorge.

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: