Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A nice hike (with a bike)

First, let me set the stage by saying that we all know they come in threes. Friday I left the house for a 1.5hr road jaunt on the fancy bike. I felt great and hit some good warm-up tempos. "This is going to be a good day!". "Ouch!". Been sting, right in the leg. I could even feel the stinger hung up in my shorts a bit. A few years ago I had a very severe reaction to a sting on a ride and ended up in the emergency care center for several hours, so this time I waited a bit, soft-pedaled a bit, and eventual limped home for a grand total of 12 miles. One.

Saturday after Z's first soccer game (and before the evening game. They won both- same team at a tourney- with a goal differential of +14), I grabbed the mtbike for a 1.5hr bit of trail work. I was feeling pretty good and perhaps a bit edgy from the previous day's fail. At the top of a hill, "Crack!". Broken freaking chain. I hadn't brought my full kit, so had no chain tool, so I mostly walked home for a grand total of 3 miles. Two.

The stage was set for Sunday. Would the third come? Dave and I left out early enough to catch a small bit of the Ironman. By the time we hit downtown the front markers were well out of the water, but the energy was evident. No, I don't want to do it. As we crossed the second street bridge we caught a glimpse below of swimmers, kayak support crew, and a few police boats not evident here.

I had been occasionally experiencing a weird little "shirking" noise, mostly when I started up or sometimes when I turned. We made our way through New Albany and it seemed like it was increasing ever so slightly. By the time we were on Corydon Pike I decided to stop and take a looksie. Broken spoke. Three.

**I'm too damn busy to elucidate more on this. Fact is, instead of mileage Dave trued the wheel enough and we went on a crazy-ass adventure along a power cut. The "path" is listed on google bike maps, so we did it, mostly walking. It was nuts. It was fun. Nobody got hurt save the salt bomb at a certain red and yellow restaurant at the top of the hill. From there it was down Old Vincennes and back home. A good time was had. A return visit is a very reasonable idea.

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Monday, August 19, 2013


I celebrated the last Sunday before the school year starts with a Metric Hundy, graciously supported by riding pal Dave. I need miles if I am to attempt my family camp Hundy in 2 weeks, and Dave needs miles for his MI Hundy in September.

We started with a coffee and then some "dumb" miles in Seneca, Cherokee and Iroquois to get things rolling. From there were encountered our first big test, Jefferson Hill (1k at 8%) which we passed in style.

Downtown is barely discernible to the left, the airport to the right.

The combo of Top Hill Rd. and Knob Creek is a delightful one, especially on a nice morning as we had. Our next test was Barrelton Hill, perhaps the toughest of the 1k climb in the area. I made it all the way up for either the first or the second time, and felt pretty good at the top. Hooray Gears!! From there we found our store stop and loaded up on sugary, salty treats.

By our return on Blevins Gap we were feeling the 40+ miles. I still felt frisky until I made the dumb call to give a brisk out-of-saddle on the second Blevins climb. Oops. No Bueno.  From there it was along the crappy, busy, tight Manslick run and through Iroquois again. At UofL, Dave checked his messages and saw he was clear so we did a late-ride 4Pegs stop for more salty (and hoppy) goodness. First we had to puzzle over the new bike markings along 1st Street. Experienced urban cylists both, we're still a bit confused.

The Stout chili fries and Stout took it out of me, so I crawled the last 5 miles home, giving me 63 on the day. Great day. Great ride.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rawland cSogn 2.2

I'm not sure if I'm exactly on 2.1 or 2.2. Numbers confuse me. Suffice to say, though, that the Sogn is in a slightly different iteration, but I claim that to its credit, not its failings.

I've gone over this, but 1.1 was the original build with the Dirt Drops, which became the 1.2 with the Nitto Rando plus some other stuff like my old Blackburn rear rack.

To become the 2.0 I trail-i-fied it and took if for a very singletrack-ish ride in Cherokee Park. I added touring stuff for the DBNF trip, and below is how it ended up, although this pic is sort of crazy, silly, busy, Patrick. The 2.25 RacingRalphs I added performed fabulously, although we found knobbies to be overkill for two of our three days. Once "Teaching moment" is more consideration of tire selection for that part of the world (DBNF). A hearty Marathon-type tire would suffice, I think, for most situations. That being said, those knobbies sure were nice to have on the very chunky Fixer-Leeco this time.  Other of note was the use of the front mini-rack with the 'lil Loafer and Ortliebs on the rear. I had mounted the old Gnashbar "mtbike" panniers, which PJ insisted that I change. Given the amount of rain we saw this weekend, it proved to be the wisest, most cogent choice of the weekend. The Jones Loop bar was good on the Troll, with a bit of right hand numbness. The Jones through the weekend was better, giving me numerous positions to attack the miserable climbing we punished ourselves with.

Yesterday I should have ridden, but I spent a couple hours fiddling and fixing, getting ready for the school-year commute. The Sogn changed again, from an off-road tourer to an urban, do-anything commuter. The RacingRalphs were swapped for the massive 650b 2" Contis I bought from RBW  a ways back. Yes, they're heavy. No, I won't win any races. Yes, they'll plow through anything, and I think that is the greatest asset an urban tire can do for me personally. Also I removed the mini-rack and moved the IQ CYO up to the top of fork position. I've been wanting to return the mini to the QB for a while- no logical reason- and since the rear rack can haul pretty much anything short of the cargo bike, it's now gone. I also remounted the 2" fenders for the commute season. Finally, instead of using the Ortliebs I fished the old C'dale panniers out of storage (the left one's spring was so strong I almost couldn't get it on). I have a few sewing touch-ups to perform on these, but they're sizable, sturdily mounted, and it saves my Ortliebs for touring. Fact it, I don't commute a ton in the rain anyway.  The drowned rat look in front of teenagers at 7.45 just isn't the best option, at least for my mine developed vanity.

The Sogn is taking place of the LHT in my bikie heart, with the Troll an unloved cast-off. The Rawland has a sporty ride, nice all-rounder features, and so far has done the trick as a roadie, trail/tourer, and now as a commuter machine (30 sunny miles today). Sorry to say, but some of you should be jealous. If anyone was looking for a genuine all-rounder, one that could do road, trails and do some medium lifting, The cSogn seems like a very nice option.  I would rank my "grunt" bikes in order of cSogn/LHT/Troll given my uses and experience.

And if Sean @ Rawland were smart, he would keep a Sogn all-rounder (a la RBW's Atlantis) as a permanent offering in its stable.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A little slice of Heaven DBNF'13 D3

We awoke early to a sticky morning and cars and climbers all over the place. Patrick had a potential family commitment, so didn't want to hurry so much as to make steady progress towards our day. After a breakfast burrito courtesy of Linda's kitchen and one last sit in the deck chair we left amid many of the climbers also heading home, in many cases hours of driving.

Our first task was the descent of 52, which we also did last year, all 2 miles of descending glory. 52 never gets stupid steep here, so you can open things up and relaxed a bit in lieu of the bare-knuckle fear I get with steeper hills. So great, even this year on the knobbies. Saturday's route suggested we didn't need such textured tires. What would today's route look like?

The turn onto 1036 at the base of the 52 descent didn't provide much of a warm up. Instead it started at around 10% and then punched us in the gut with early slopes up to 20%. We were now fully loaded again, making things all the more ridiculous. Passing an Episcopal church camp, we cleared the first section only to find a little leveling and then more pitches in the 15% range. At the top we had cleared a roughly 1.4 mile climb, perhaps my personal longest climb ever. And steep. And loaded. The scenery, though, was becoming what was hope for: green hills, rocky topography, mist, craggy isolation. After a swift descent we hit gravel, this time how I had imagined our route presenting itself in sheer, abundant, isolated, beauty.

Somewhere about halfway through we passed an isolated homestead on our right, unfortunately during a lively descent which made picture taking prohibitive. In my mind I imagined the perfect getaway, hideaway, hermitage. 1036 tested us again with a shorter climb of around .5 mile and at some point turned a tight 90-degree left on an off-camber downhill.  I had seen glimpses of, but finally took a picture of a Sheltowee Trace Trail marker, the Sheltowee turtle ascribed to famous Kentuckian Daniel Boone. We saw these markers a fair amount on yesterday's ride too, which is problematic. This implies that a significant portion of this area's trail is nothing more than road hikes, although this road was a fine one.

At some point, 1036 turned to pavement but still brought nice views along the creek valley. And then we turned upwards, with another 1+miles plenty stupid pitches, one listed at "31.4%". That's steep! At the top we rode the ridge northward and eastward, passing Fixer-Leeco and bringing us to the descent on 11; our efforts climbing KY11 on Friday provided us a 3-mile roll into RedRiverRockhouse for a closing breaking of the bread. I had some of the best pancakes ever, I'll have to say. I love me some pancakes, and, boy, were these fine.  The staff and guests were even kind enough not to mention how repugnant my shorts were. I hadn't brought extras so rode in the same outer shorts all three days, through the rain and muck.

After lunch we spun the last 3 or so miles back to the parking lot. In that short time we: Climbed some more around Mill Creek Lake while being out of gas, Climbed the nasty little pitch into the parking lot, and finally, got Poured on yet again, a thorough soaking through and through the last couple miles and during the time loading the bikes, the ultimate ending to the theme of the weekend.

But a great weekend it was.

Hale Ridge Lollipop DBNF'13 D2

Saturday's ride was to be our 'Queen Stage'. Instead of riding the loaded bikes, we pared down to essentials including the Esbit stove for a warm mid-ride lunch. Our opener included the cruise south along 399, where we made a note of the store at Yellow Rock for later purposes. Unfortunately, the run from LagoLinda to the river crossing at Heidelberg was basically a 5-mile descent, which we would have to repeat on the return leg home. The descent down Heidelberg Rd. was thrilling, but it was damp and we were both treading lightly with our RacingRalphs. The pic below shows a lovely bright blue bridge in contrast to the lush greens of the Kentucky River valley. Great stuff.

Shortly thereafter we turned right onto Cressmont Rd, which the KY Division of Transpo map shows as unpaved. We found a paved creek run road which we couldn't decide was ascending or descending. Neither of us had particularly good legs. Whining.

We briefly stopped at the juncture of Cressmont, Todd and Hale Ridge to find Todd's Rd. as gravel, as promised. We turned up Hale Ridge, which fortunately was paved along the steeper pitches. The entirety of the Hale Ridge hill is sort of unknown. Strava has the primary climb at 1.6 miles with a 5% average. Suffice, though, that that opening pitches were mid-teens and 24% at some point. That, my friends, is steep. Imagine it on gravel. We worked out way up the ridge, which ended up being a solid 5 miles of gain which did include some gravel at the top as it worked its way through the forest proper.

I'm not sure what is more impressive, my many chins, scraggly beard, or helmet straps so loose as to be unsafe.
At the top of Hale, a marvelous cycling road and one I would love to ride again, limited gravel or no, we debated lunch plans and decided to work our way back towards the barn. We had had designs of Turkey Foot or Wild Dog Creek Rd. further south, but instead went with the game plan of enjoying- not killing- ourselves. If the ascent of Hale Ridge was tough but satisfying, the 5-mile gradual descent of 587/Farmer's Ridge Rd. was even better, maybe the best. I am not a daredevil descender; I get scared. So this kind of gradual, flowey descent felt great, relaxed. Just right. We found a turn-off near a cemetery where we made a lunch of macaroni/cheese bowls with packets of tuna and salmon using the Esbit pocket stove. I'm going to be honest, a warm lunch using the small stove was far preferred over mutated, gooey sandwiches or fake food. Yet again, I think Pondero with his mid-ride coffee stops in on to something. Warmth.

At the end of our thrilling descent we turned left onto Todds Rd. and finally found our gravel creek run. It wasn't long but was refreshing and appreciated. Pics at this point became rare. Yes, again, the theme awoke. Spoke. Rain.

By the time we left the gravel back on Cressmont (we made a lollipop) it had become something of a deluge. From then on we put our heads down and resolved to grind back, make progress. At Heidelberg we turned left, then right, and up the climb, which was to be another mile long grind. Strava has the average at 7%. I say take out the last couple tenths, give yourself a .8-mile climb and have pitches of 15, 23, and 18% beat the living daylights out of you. Remember that Heidelberg to the camp was a general 5-mile ascent and we felt it. The store at Yellow Rock provided sugary goodness, and we rolled into camp beaten up but not beaten.

In camp we beat around and relaxed. Oh, it rained, only this time with actual conviction. The climbers had come back from their work day so they filled up the pavilion. Pat and I, like many others, ended up pinned down in our tents for an hour or so, the heavens open and crying with a furious rage. I felt a few drips but stayed dry. Patrick, on the other hand, had three distinct leaks and he spent some time mopping. After the storm we were able to have some supper- this time rice, curry, chicken and some potatoes the nice lady at Yellow Rock grocery gave to us for free- and finished with chocolate. We fell asleep to bluegrass music and plenty of noise from the revelry. Good for them. Good for us.

But no Perseid meteor shower like last year. Our expectations has modified to basic warmth and dryness.

p.s. Earlier in the camp afternoon we were "entertained" by a group of young ladies and a guy who was gay or not gay or a dad or a boyfriend of something. His sexuality is not the point. The point is that this group of young girls- say 23yrsoldish- and a guy at least as old as us spent a solid hour talking VERY LOUDLY about poop, bra sizes, pregnancies, clitorii, and the like. It was vile. I spend time with teenagers and these girls and guy reminded me of my years teaching freshmen. LISTEN TO ME! I AM GOING TO OUTDO YOU WITH MY DUMB CONVERSATION TO GET ATTENTION! ME, I AM TALKING LOUDER! ME!! We had to stroll off from our  campsite because we couldn't bear it anymore. Fortunately they joined the bigger throng of climbers and melded in. Totally inconsiderate and atypical amid a group of generally chill folks.

LagoLinda-Fixer DBNF'13 D1

Day 1 had the plan to taking a very similar route to what we experienced a year ago, the famous Fixer-Leeco Rd., which at the time left our mouths agape. The first pic below suggests that our first day was going to be an interesting one, if not "epic", what with the rain, plenty of rain.


We parked at the Natural Bridge SP lodge.

We may have started in the rain, but by the time we finished the steady 1-mile grind up KY-11 the rumor of sunshine peaked out and we attacked Fixer-Leeco with relish. Given the rain and a year's worth of oil trucks and who knows what else, we found the conditions thicker, chunkier than last year. Both of us rode RacingRalphs from Schwalbe, Patrick's a hearty 2.4/2.3 combo, mine both 2.25s", and we enjoyed the extra float and grip. The road this year kicked up loads of sand onto our drivetrains; within the first miles Patrick had a link issue and my mount was skipping gears. A mess.

Below the reservoir things became a bit more civilized as we began to pass houses instead of oil rigs, well except for the vicious pit bull at the shack of a house at Fixer with the meth head who couldn't get up the hill to take his dog away. We eventually escaped but only just.

We passed by Indian Valley Recreational Retreat and Peaceful Valley Resort, which research shows as being "developed" areas with cabins and rentals. You should understand that these cabins are as deep in the middle of nowhere as anywhere I can imagine. The roads in and out are unimproved to say the least. Both, though, are marketed to the Jeep and 4-wheeling crowd, and to that I am sure they are nirvana. (Let's not forget the mixed-terrain cyclist types).

We were amazed last time at the section of road as it became Bald Rock Fork Rd. with its many creek crossings. This time the crossing provided us with more water, one of which was axle/BB level. No pic from that because I was primarily concerned with getting across and then how my front end was doing after crashing a boulder mid-stream. I stayed up! Once through the climbers' preserve we  faced the 1-mile climb out of Bald Rock and we took to walking. The rain, while stopped, created an oppressively humid day which blanketed us while walking, requiring both of us to take extra breathers at the sections of 20%+

At the top by the small cemetery we stopped for a snack and a breather, the snack courtesy of the owner of RedRiverRockhouse, my near-favorite restaurant on earth. On the run up in the morning we stopped by there to take a gander and the owner and employee were outside getting ready to leave, the restaurant closed for the morning. Out of kindness he gave us a mostly full roll of all-natural summer sausage. At the top we sliced that roll up and had the best fatty, salty, yummy bike treat every.

We found LagoLinda quite empty, surprising given that it was to be the climbers work weekend (like last year) and they were expecting some 200 climbers piling in. Many of the campsites were already called for, though, and we ended up in the same one as last year, on the end. We set up for a pleasant evening, which the pics convey. What is not well-shown is that around the dinner hour, not long after Patrick had prepared a nice pasta and sausage dish, the skies grew heavy and God began to cry. And cry. And sob. It *poured*, both of us concerned about the watertightness of our tents. We found fundamentally dry tents but standing water all about. We survived. The gear survived. But only barely.

A solid day's ride and rain experienced made for a pretty easy bedtime, but as often the case, the night's sleep was as terrible as ever. I'm not sure why I camp.

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: http://superissimo.com/the-cu...