Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 end-of-year bric-a-brac

I'll do one of my handy dandy "Best of" posts soon, but I want to take some time to assess things first. Of note, though, is that 2015 was my biggest mileage year ever. I did a 32-miler today, giving me 4510 for the year. I made mention last year of wanting to supersede 5k, which I didn't achieve, but I'm very happy with my results.  It's been a big bike stable year as well, which I'm sure inspired some of my road time, so I need to supply some information on those changes too.

I'm trying to clean up the moribund blog as well. I've been posting for 10 years now, but if you look around, the blogworld is dying on the vine. I suspect the same reasons I'm not blogging dictate why other folks aren't blogging either: lack of time, lack of content, changing "social media" values and platforms, more activity and less talking about activity.  For me, I fear that fewer folks are posting and reading, so I'm inclined to write less as well. I use a rss feed reader on my tablet to keep up with blog traffic, but I don't like it that much and its quirks don't allow for easy commenting. Just now I deleted the "blogs" links on the blog sidebar because so many of them were hopelessly out of date. People change. Platforms change. Interests change. But it doesn't mean that I'm not interested in what Pondero, AMidnightRider, or Doug (Who is back!) are doing on bikes. The blog flow has just changed.  One goal for the depths of winter is to clean the blog presentation up and rebuild my blog list with blogs that are interesting, active, and reflect my current interests.

Hope 2015 was a fulfilling year for you and that 2016 is full of fun, satisfying plans.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crosswalk Ramble

It's winter break, i.e. Christmas break, so amid family, food, more food, even more food, friends, and frivolity, I've been trying to get out and ride my bike(s), to reasonably good effect. Temps have been above normal, although the recent rains have dampened things a bit. Yesterday (Tuesday), I heeded the call of a "meet-up" email to go on an urban ramble marketed for mountain bikes. Barturtle, Micah, and Stephanie joined to became a peloton of 5 with a route designed and captained by Mark, with whom I rode on Barturtle's gravel ride back a few weeks ago. Mark's goal was to visit some new areas and cross several pedways over Shawnee/Watterson Expressway. We totaled 35 miles on the ride and four of us finished with a nice (albeit slow) lunch at Game . I had the Angus burger b/c I'm too cheap to pay $18 for a damn hamburger. Both the sandwich and fries were good, though. With the ride there, mileage for the day totaled 42, which I'm really pleased with. Some images:

Our weather has been wet but not dangerous. This is an image of the 'cross park 

This is not a perfect compare but pretty close, with the 2013 river level issues at the 'Cross Worlds that year. I think it would be a bigger problem now.

 Crossing I-64 at Lannan Park

Lannan Park crossing looking west 

 Really cool mosaic house deep in the West End. Not sure I could find it on a map.

 Really ugly, brutal house in the West End.

 Crossing the Watterson at Watterson Lake Park in Shively

Attempting to capture an interesting industrial line. Don't think it worked. 

Crossing main L&N railroad artery at Louisville Ave. 

I missed pics at the Southern Middle School (it has a different name now, but I'm old school) and Hill St. crossings, but I suspect everybody will live. I'm also trying to play with some new video options, but am not yet ready to publish  (aka I don't know what I'm doing).  Suffice to say, though, it was a really, really nice day on the bike even if my toes and hands got cold from the headwind. Thanks for the route, Mark.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Some 2015 highlights

Sr. Smith is a little down these days, so I'm going to post some outside pics to pick me up. Hope they pic you up as well.

Lake Shelby S24O in November

Casey County in September

Somewhere in DBNF in June

Crossing the Rockcastle River watching the swallows in June

Rockcastle River ford near Livingstone, KY in June

PJ with a morning crossing before a hot, long day in June

In terms of "flow", maybe the best hour of cycling of 2015 along the gentle downhill of Carpenter Ridge Rd. near S-Tree in June.

Looking for rustic roads we found them in spades along Wild Horse Creek in DBNF near S-Tree in June.

Ferdinand SF overnight in February

In hindsight I tremendously enjoyed my DBNF ramble with Mr.Crowell in January. We covered all the bases that day, all in our own typically methodical-but-adventurous way. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lake Shelby S25O

My annual return to the starting point of the great circling globe dance was approaching, so a plan was made. No, let me back up. Yes, the birthday was approaching, and like last year, it corresponded with on the same weekend as the Ramble as hosted by the esteemed Pondero. Some initial contacts and plans were made, but then a week ago my lower back got tweaked, making any and all sitting a real labor. Although the back has slowly improved, the thoughts of 26 hours in the car over a weekend seemed daunting to foolish, so an alternate bday bike celebration was needed. Mr. Crowell and I debated some different venues for a S24O before settling on Lake Shelby in the outlying community of Shelbyville in a campground we had never visited. It would entail a 35-mile route over some well-known (to me) roads, and as a bonus, offered us store options relatively close. A call confirmed inexpensive space ($12) and wood ($5), so a plan was hatched. Since Mr. Crowell had already taken the day off work, we wanted to make the best of it so decided to leave early enough to set up in the daylight. 

A pre-ride at our customary Twig-n-Leaf allowed us some carbo loading before embarking on a now 40-mile Fall ramble.

Nice arm, and David too. 

We realized early that conditions were in our favor, as we easily did 18mph along Taylorsville Rd in full camp mode. A strong easterly wind filled out sails on our depart and would assist us for much of the afternoon. The challenge of the route was to be found at mile 8 or so when one has to negotiate Jefferstown on the perimeter. Miles 8-10 are no more, no less, than daintily escaping the gravity of the city.

Map study found a new feature, the J'town Bike-Walk path, of which we availed ourselves. I found it unfortunate that the only users seemingly were adult male vagrants. They offered no ill will. I hope were enjoying themselves. 

Dedicated, separated bike infrastructure crossing tracks along Watterson Trail 

Soon after we found ourselves in the "country" portion of the ride, spending many miles going easty on 148. It's a road I use for my Lou-Frankfort efforts and one that led to my parents' former ranchette before its sale some 10+ years ago. It's classic, rolling KY, helped by the tailwind on this day.

A left turn onto  Olive Branch Rd. strangely informed me of a grumpy tummy, somewhat out of nowhere. I was fine. And then my stomach turned nauseous. The brief stop did allow for Mr.Crowell to catch a drink before heading north, and out of our luscious tailwind. I was worried the turn would mean a struggle. Although Zaring Mill presented a bit more traffic and some nicely lumpy rollers, the wind was a crosswind and never stuck much in our faces. We made a quick stop in Shelbyville proper for some snacks and to purchase appropriate camp libations, a key feature made easier by the 3-mile proximity of the main drag to the campground proper.

Cabras. They eyed us very circumspectly. 

We didn't buy any chicken.

Entrance to Lake Shelby.  

We found the camp manager trailer and paid for our services although I was very disappointed to find that the back portion of the primitive sites was closed for the season, thereby putting us quite close to the RV section and to civilization. While there were several RVs parked, otherwise we saw no one around, so we hoped for a quiet night a little less rustic than anticipated. We declined an initial offer of a hilltop site to instead move downhill a bit, next to the water and importantly behind an embankment and treeline, which we hoped would provide a windbreak. The tailwind we enjoyed along 148 was now buffeting the campground, concerning us that using the campstoves was going to be a challenge, much less setting up. I tucked my gear right at the base of the bank for protection. Mr. Crowell did not have guy lines.
Golden hour setting in on the plant nursery just above the campground. 

Our view of Lake Shelby from the campsite. While I was disappointed in not being able to use the more remote sites, this one afforded a great lake view and very open skies to the east and south. This view is looking almost due east.

All importantly, my camp set-up. For this S24O I decided on using the Alpkit bivy and my new BigAg Spike Lake 14, which I bought from a local establishment at a competitive price. The wind worried me, so I tucked in close to the bank and tree line and hoped for the best.

Mr. Crowell set his tent up close to mine on the far side of the fire and table.  

Basic camp was set up so Mr. Crowell set about starting a fire. Being lazy or moronic (I won't name which), we usually depend on other actors to make our fire, but on this trip credit was given to DC for getting a fire going in the windy conditions. Yes, his fire brick helped, as did the plentiful dry leaves, but WE HAD FIRE!!!!!!!! And it was needed in the crisp conditions. Some fire watching and sunset watching transitioned to food prep. I had tried to find my Esbit stove but instead brought my Trangia, but my burn time took forever. He- using his Esbit-was on his second macncheese before my water was even ready, and really the boil was mediocre one at best. None-the-less we ate- my "santa fe chicken meal" was a bit crunchier than it was supposed to be-and watched as our fire dwindled. The "armful of wood" burned quite quickly so my portion of the fire-prep was finding more shit to burn, mostly sticks and twigs and such.

Plant nursery above the lake and across the road. Very pretty in the golden light.

Camp, you know. You gotta if you can. (Modelo in case you cared. DC had a PBR. If I had seen that, it would have been my choice too)

 Crowell. Fire. Good.

A central reason I camp is the sunset and sunrise. I really groove on nature's beauty in this way. The east didn't fire in an epic way, but the subdued layers soothed.

If you embiggen you can see the crescent moon with the rest of its body on the left side. It was very impressive in full view.

The night got slightly strange as some rabblerousers showed up to play with a green laser on the water. They were to our east for a bit and then moved to the dock to our west, at one point shining it at us. Our fire had died so I don't know if they knew we were there. We hollered "Hey!" and they apologized and eventually left. What I think was the same car showed up a bit later back to the east and set up a tent at another site and again played a bit with their laser. Then, with much envy, they lit a monstrous campfire. I still wonder what they used to make such a big flame, and also wonder how it didn't burn their tent(s).

Our fire was out. We had eaten. It was cold. We went to bed, respectively of course.

Camp sleep is almost always vexing to me. I remember one night at Lago Linda after a long day in the saddle that I slept like a log for a long time. Otherwise, camp sleep involves tossing and turning, numb arms, having to pee, and generally waking up exhausted. Interestingly, this turned out not to be the case. Yes, I awoke briefly at 3.30ish to fight off having to pee. I adjusted my bivy and bag to better deal with some moisture. I watched the stars, Venus, and Mars, and then went back to sleep. I awoke at 5.30 or so and did get up, but snuggled back down in my bag and bivy, adjusted some more and peeked out to watch the stars, this time a shooting star going south towards Venus. I win! I feel back asleep.

I awoke finally at 6.30 to see some sunlight peeking up over the lake against the silhouette of the Jones.What did I say I lived for while camping? Sunsets and sunrises. I snapped a couple shots and told DC that the day was awaking. 

A new favorite shot, the morning sun barely peeking over the horizon along the lake with the Jones bar in the foreground. Yay bikes! 

The faint early morning light doesn't yet drown out Venus, and even better, Mars if you squint hard to the upper right of Venus. 

Frost-covered Jones. Excellent. 

 Good morning

Mr.Crowell's friends on the early-morning water. Better them than me, but a fisherman was already floating around at this point. 

After plenty of morning sunrise picture taking the coffee was started- using DC's Esbit Thank You!- and we fiddled with camp as well. What were to be temps in the lower 30s became temps in the upper 20s at Lake Shelby. The Nalgene bottles were mostly frozen and everything was well covered with frost. Our morning plans involved coffee and a later restaurant breakfast, so it was mostly gather and pack. An advantage of being a bit nearer to civilization was the heated washroom. It was *heat*, but it wasn't 28F either. It was good.

David from the same dock where the idiot laser people shined us. Idiots. 

Morning sun, morning cup. Yes. 

Once packed up we took a little bike stroll out to the primitive area, which also has a hiking trail of some sort. We weighed the benefits of the two areas. Privacy or bathrooms and lake view? That's a tough one.

Mixed-terrain out to primitive sites. "Squire Boone Station" buildings to the right. 

From nice, primitive sight at end of peninsula. I could camp there. 

We traversed the 4 or so chilly miles to the Waffle House where we girded our loins for a nice morning. Amazing how good Waffle House is given the grime. The previous day's trek summed some 40 miles, but day two would "cut the corner", shaving off 5 miles before reconnecting with 148 at the Jefferson County line. The Brunnerstown/TaylorWood/Veechdale roll couldn't have been much nicer, with pleasant, rolling roads, ranchettes to break the monotony, and crystal-clear blue skies. And a big And, the wind had died down from the previous night, leaving us very little headwind to put up with on the return. Generally one of us had much better legs than the other, but we ebbed and flowed and had a very nice morning roll, helped by the rising and warming sun. We started our morning below 30 but by ride's end were probably near 60.

For me this is it. A long driveway leading to a distant farm house. This is where I could make my stand. 

Wife say she's going to farm alpacas in retirement. I found some. 

JonesATB, a near perfect touring bike. Comfortable and importantly, ridiculously rock-solid while loaded. 

Tattered and broken along the old Finchville bridge. I imagine it a tavern or store for bridge-crossers. It has seen much better days.

What can I say? Once DC got in traffic he became Maniac Man, doing 18mph down Taylorsville in the opposite direction. Eventually we pulled up and headed to Breadworks for post-cup, which then became Great Flood for a post-pint. Ritual is important.

As I told David, the combination of images, conditions, fitness (I felt great on the bike the entire time), challenge, all of it combined to make this perhaps my most favorite S24O. I felt good on the bike and refreshed after sleeping on the ground in below-freezing conditions. What isn't to like? And I finished it off with a nice pint. All good.  Happy birthday to me.

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: