Saturday, January 17, 2015

The One Less Traveled

 The jaunt to the boat launch confirmed the inter-web reports of treacherous riding conditions - the trails were coated in half an inch of hard shiny ice - so I was surprised to see half a dozen riders circling at the boat launch when I arrived (this group seems to thrive on adversity which is good because we were about to have some).

After gravel grinding to the dam, we knew the Sole Trail would be a ticket straight to the emergency room, so we diverted to ride the frozen flats above the spillway. With so many of us on fat bikes this quickly devolved into a Charlie Company bushwhack through the bamboo, hand-over-hand dragging bikes up the side of the decrepit crumbling spillway, and finally onto some east-side high pucker-factor icy singletrack.

For the return from The Beer Tree (yes, "all roads do lead to The Beer Tree") we rode/skated/walked across the lake ice back to the flats to ride in more aimless circles around and over the occasional rock pile. It wasn't long before one of us pinch flatted with the sun just about to set and the temp about to plummet. This of course presented even more opportunity to yuck it up and 20 minutes later (ICTs have big tires) we were all smiles for the gravel grind back to the launch.

This ride was the definition of "Adventure by Bike." No plan, no destination, just a group of friends turning corners just to see what would happen next.

Chris

"Two paths diverged in the wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
     -- Robert Frost

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 "Hair of the Dog" Hangover Ride

Man down. Like really down.

2015 started pretty much the same way 2014 ended...riding. The only difference was that this morning's Hangover Ride was sparsely attended - possibly due to the 10:30 am start time. In spite of this, the ride was a success on multiple fronts:

  • Some healthy hangovers were burned off by the fresh air, the exercise, and a little hair of the dog.
  • We on-boarded a new (to us) rider Justin. He's a quick study on the dog hair stuff and also outlasted us on the riding part.
  • We were able to give one very bedraggled (decapitated actually) camper a proper Sioux-style tree burial.
Field work.
Looking forward to more 2015...

Chris

photos courtesy of mike

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Answer

25° temps ensured the trails were fast and grippy for twelve  riders who turned out for the last ride of 2014, and if this ride was any indication then 2015 is gonna be a hum-dinger even if it does start with vegan month (more on that later).

The short ride to the trail was painfully cold, but once the cold turned to tingling and then to burning, the blessed numbness finally set in. In two hours we hit most of the sights at White Clay including The Goat Trail (never gets old) and Corkscrew a couple times.
Trail tip: After the first trip down Corkscrew, Kirk's rear brake started dragging. Unable to find any bike lube he resorted to borrowing a flask of bourbon to "loosen up" the caliper and we learned yet another valuable lesson - that that sometimes "alcohol is the answer."
14 miles later, eight of us hit McGlynn's pub to recap the awesomeness of the ride and to celebrate that it is not yet vegan month by devouring:
Bourbon fixes everything
including stuck calipers.
  • One ahi tuna burger (a vegan distant cousin)
  • One McGlynn's Stuffed Burger. The vegan coup de grâce, this is pile of beef the size of a bowling ball stuffed with a whole philly cheese steak sandwich and (we think) poached in duck fat.
  • Six Farmhouse Burgers topped with cheese, locally grown mushrooms, and a fried egg. We added lettuce and tomato just to make our Moms happy if they are reading this blog.
We started washing these down with a session IPAs (it was 11:30am after all) but then mercifully switched to Old Dominion Bourbon Oak Barrel Aged Stout. 


We thought we might have a problem when Jesse (our passionate part-time vegan) dove into her Farmhouse Burger and her eyes rolled into the back of her head like a great white shark devouring a sea lion. No joke. It was weird. Tom thought he might have seen an extra eyelid too. 

Thanks all for turning out for the ride. I'm lucky enough to be able to ride a bike in the woods. To do it with eleven other great people who are at least as passionate about it is just awesome. Impossible to put into words.

Cheers,
Chris

"RIDE HARD, live easy"
     -- Unknown

photos courtesy of our vegan photographer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Licking Windows

"We're licking windows now."  It was an apt observation. At 2:00 am the discourse had deteriorated to something akin to a bunch of 12 year olds in the back of the school bus at the end of a very long ride.

About seven hours earlier we kicked off festivities with the traditional mountain bike ride. This ride is never too ambitious but it's always fun because we know what's coming next. The ride is how we legitimatize what happens afterwards (the window licking part). This years ride was notable for the number of  fatties (five) and our penchant for driving headlong into every mud pit we could find on the west side trails.

Some kiln dried lumber and a couple gallons of kerosene ensured that the bonfire got rolling without a hitch once we tossed the match after the ride. We had a minor violation since Rob, as only the second person in history to clear the Trail of Broken Collarbones uphill on a mountain bike, was supposed to do the honors but was otherwise indisposed. We'll somehow rectify this next year at the Tenth Annual which is sure to be a doozie.

The post-ride alfresco menu featured reindeer chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, cornbread, homemade mexican guacamole-sour-cream-cheese-bean dip, bags of cider donuts, a huge pile of christmas cookies, chips, and assorted other high-calorie snacks enjoyed by mountain bikers.

Well fed, amply watered, and energized by the ride, nine of us settled in for a long night of shenanigans and belly laughing around the bonfire. Shenanigans included one fire jump (it's not a bonfire without one of those) and belly laughing included Löwenbräu lyrics and some now immortal bonfire memes and quotes including:

  • "The Finger of God." I won't attempt to explain it here and Google won't help so don't bother.
  • "It's the end of the the world and I was facing the wrong way." It looked like it was, and clearly one of us was. Yeah, I guess you had to be there.
  • The window licking reference which I think has some legs with this group.

We finally threw in the towel not because we'd run out of material but because it was almost 3:00 am and apparently you have to draw a line somewhere.

Chris

"Here's to good friends, last night was kinda special."
     -- The Löwenbräu guy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just Around the Corner

This guy provided the chili recipe. I figured if he could make 
a bunch of squirrels edible then he could probably do 
wonders with some reindeer meat.
Quick update on the bike bonfire beer thing, which is just around the corner:
  • Elk & bison meat chili has been re-dubbed "reindeer chili" by my disapproving daughter. No need for me to bring any home, she won't be trying it.
  • It will be mild (low 29 degrees) so consider flip flops for apres-ride attire. Also Kirk has kindly offered the use of his hot tub to "take it up a notch" so bring your bathing suit too (no birthday suits please). Seriously, bring it.
  • Kirk and I will be setting up the bonfire tomorrow mid-day (felling trees, lashing the pyre together with bailing wire, dousing with gallons of kerosene, setting up a fire jumping skills course, etc.) so if you want to join that fun let me know and we'll keep you posted on time. 
  • Park at my place or in the cul de sac, then hump your stuff behind Kirk's (walk to left of his house) and down the trail to the bonfire site by the creek. Plan on a couple trips to get all your stuff (bike, cooler, chair, food, gear, etc) down that dang trail. It's called the Trail of Broken Collarbones for a reason. Note: if you RIDE down the trail then you are nominated to light the bonfire (an honor not unlike the lighting of the Olympic torch). If you ride UP the trail then you are superhuman. It's only been done once. Ever.
The fun starts in about 21 hours and this house smells awesome!

Chris


"Oh the things you can find if you don’t stay behind."
     -- Dr Seuss

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bike Bonfire and Beer Exchange Fun Quiz for 2014

Back by popular demand, here is the Bike Bonfire and Beer Exchange Fun Quiz for 2014... 

1. At Mike's Tiki bar in East BurkeVermont, four dollars will buy you:
a) A warm beer
b) A cold beer and a warm shower
c) A cold beer and a space heater with an empty propane tank
d) A french Canadian cycling chick and a cold shower
2. "Ginger lips" is:
a) An organic lip balm made from hemp and ginger root oil
b) A taunt used to provoke red heads, as in "get back in your biscuit tin, ginger lips"
c) Someone who insists on ordering fish tacos even when barbecued pork shanks are on the menu
d) All of the above
3. The Dirty Penny Fan Club is:
a) Figment of our imaginations
b) Back in business after a brief but alarming 12 hour hiatus
c) A hall of mirrors that makes big things look small and possibly visa versa
d) All of the above
4. Which of the following has never happened at a Bike, Bonfire, Beer Exchange:
a) Burning of a scantily clad blowup doll
b) An Irishman getting a sunburn
c) Driving a lawn mower through the bonfire
d) Visitation by a homeless guy wearing spandex
e) An Irishman taking a swing at a town council member
f) Drinking beer from a toilet bowl
g) None of the above (i.e., they have all happened)
5. The "Brew Screw" is:
a) A novelty item made by mountain bikers in a garage in Pennsylvania
b) A form of fraternity hazing that has been mostly outlawed except in Kentucky
c) Espresso chased with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
d) At the bottom of Marsh Creek Lake with a cheap Welgo left-side pedal attached to it.
e) Both a and d
6. During the 2014 Kingdom Trails trip, Andy Doble earned $80 cash by:
a) Playing Texas Hold'em in a barn outside of town
b) Playing slot machines at a dive bar just north of the US/Canadian border
c) Throwing a hissy-fit at the LBS when his fancy Niner frame cracked
7. During the 2014 Kingdom Trails trip, how did we learn that Chris' nickname is "Rug Rat." 
a) He was caught sneaking to the bathroom in his flannel RugRats cartoon pajamas
b) His Navy buddy Marc told us
c) He mumbled something about it while half asleep in the lounge chair by the wood stove
d) Someone saw it tatoo'd on his leg
e) None of the above (his real nickname is "Maverick") 
8. The 2014 Cinco de Mayo ride featured:
a) Hot dog tacos with cabbage and barbecue sauce
b) A teak coffee table and a 7' blowup cactus
c) Three donkeys and a guy playing guitar
d) Home made heirloom tomato salsa eaten off the bottom of a SIDI riding shoe
e) Bike riders riding by and smashing a pinata with their heads
f) A horrified trail runner splayed out on the ground
9. Steerer tubes should be cut:
a) By a professional
b) By someone who is not drinking beer
c) By a chopsaw
d) Once but only after measuring twice
10. Two DB's were DQ'd from the Brandywine race because they:

a) Were juicing
b) Wore flesh colored spandex
c) Stopped for unsanctioned hydration during the race
d) Couldn't follow instructions
11. The January 2014 "Tour duh" planning meeting at Victory resulted in:
a) A detailed plan for the event of the century
b) A bar tab of $147.58
c) Decision that Corinne will be our waitress for all future "Tour duh" planning meetings
d) A bunch of scribbles on the back of a paper napkin
Happy holidays, and don't forget to...

..."use it while you still have it"
     -- Gasp4Air

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fat Bike Beat Down

Five and a half hours into the ride we ran down our list of aches and pains. "Oh God my butt is KILLING me". "My hands are sore". "My back and neck hurt". "My knees are a mess". "The balls of my friggin' feet are sore" (Bryan was literally pedaling with his heels at this point).
It has been months since we've indulged in a beat down of this magnitude. Even longer since we've gotten up at 5:00am in sub-freezing weather for the beat down. 

Our Tour de Perkiomen (led by Rob - thank you FaceBook) used miles of scenic creek-side Perkiomen trail to string together a grind up the backside and down the front side of Spring Mountain and a spin around Knight Lake in Green Lane Park. Cool temps and a warm sun made for ideal riding conditions. 

Most of us were also on fat bikes which makes just about any ride more fun. Fat bikes are ironically very nimble and they go just about anywhere as long as have the legs to keep pushing the pedals. They also put smiles on the faces of civilians who think they look like clown bikes. 

And there is something immensely gratifying about suffering together and draining the tank bone dry once in a while.

Chris

"Suffering has a luminous beauty, and cleanses the mind in much the same way a wildfire clears an overgrown forest."
     -- Mike Ferrentino

P.S. Thanks to Kirk and Rob for the snaps.