Sunday, September 28, 2008

Slippery When Wet

(Guest blog post from Mike Riley)

When the rains come in the way they have for the last few days, it means wet trails, tricky roots and mud covered bikes.  Reminded us a of a certain Bon Jovi record.  A few riders were game enough to take advantage of the brief respite from the precipitation and sneak in a few miles. 
We slip slided out the connector trail, around the bonus loop and back home.  A few root slides aside, the trails were in terrific shape, the rain doing a nice job of softening things up and providing a little grip, except of course for those pesky roots and off camber rocks. 
To our historian, the clock on the crash counter must be reset as one rider suffered what appears to be a broken "bird" finger attempting the flattened log obstacle.  It has now blown up to the size of a golf ball and turned the shade of a purple tootsie pop just before you get to the sticky center.  Always appealing in the tone of your indexes.  Oh man, so close to the end, and then spectacular failure. 
And although his timing could have been better as he interrupted what was sure to be a interesting look at the local wildlife on the dam road, we were treated to a surprise mid-ride visit from a former regular sidelined by a minor surgical procedure.  It was not Ali-like and it was not the ring, but it was nice to see him back in the game. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Other" Equinox

Welcome to Andy Doble who joined for his inaugural ride with us today.  Todays ride included both sides of the lake and some impromptu trail maintenance work on the bridges leading to the lakefront trail.  That stretch between the two bridges was getting pretty sloppy, will see how it holds up...

Registration is now open for the November 9th Fall Classic mountain bike race at Marsh Creek State Park.  Plenty of time to tune up man and machine and what a great excuse to spend a nice crisp November Sunday at the park with friends and family cheering you on.  This is a very low key family friendly event.  Get off the fence, put $30 worth of skin in the game, and show your kids that the old codger still has some game.  

The sun passes directly over the equator tomorrow (9/22) at 11:44 EDT.  It is heading south so that makes it the Autumnal equinox (vs Vernal which we celebrated with a Happy Hour ride last March ).  From that point forward the nights will outlast the days but you can have the last laugh if you strap on a light and join us for the weeknight rides.  And since the archers have now taken to the woods (and the Coast Guard on their heels) we will say goodbye to the scheduled morning rides and take our chances with Rob's night time 'coon poachers... We will ride on Tuesday and Thursday night but will play it loose with the departure times so let me know if you are interested in a particular day (along with any time preferences) and we will lock in the details with all interested parties by 5:00pm on ride day.  


"Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually."

Relive our (mis)adventures at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lindsay Lohan Advice Needed

First official night ride of the season was tonight.  It was great, chasing bats down the trails and exploring some corners of the park we haven't seen in a while.  The night was capped off at the boat landing by a visit from the ranger who asked us "if we knew that the park was closed."  After a pregnant pause, one of our more brilliant riders tried to diffuse the situation with a little friendly conversation and asked for clarification "you mean, for bikes?"  The ranger did not take this in the spirit in which it was intended and the whole thing took a decidedly unpleasant turn, but we were able to disengage without incident.  Bottom line is that it's probably good to avoid loitering at the boat landing during night rides.  

On another front, we could use some wrenching advice.  We have a bike with brake problems - brakes squealing like Lindsay Lohan at a Hollywood coke party (been dying to use that one).  Pads have been replaced, rotor cleaned, but still squealing.  Anyone with advice on this front please reply to this address - it is getting really old and the wildlife is complaining.  

Weather looks great for the next few days:  
  • A happy hour ride is in the cards for tomorrow, reply all if interested and include any time preferences. 
  • Sunday ride is on for 9:00am departing from Upper Lyndenwood.  
Before we wrap up, I wanted to ask everyone to please take a few minutes to review the group ride guidelines before our next ride.  


"If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle"
          -Rita Mae Brown

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rules to Ride By

Here is a quick rundown of guidelines for our rides.  They are not directed at anyone in particular (I am personally guilty of violating more than a few of these), but if we all make an honest attempt to adhere to these guidelines then our little corner of the world will be a better place:

#1 - DO NOT mention in a seemingly offhand way that you "had a big night" to suggest that any failure to perform on today's ride is not a reflection on your riding ability but rather on your extremely demanding social life.  That was your choice not mine.  If someone else mentions that you smell like a brewery then you are free to share a couple of embarassing stories from the night before, but please keep them brief.

#2 - DO NOT talk endlessly about techie bike technology like aluminum vs scadmium frames or tubed vs tubeless tires unless you are talking to another gear techie.  This is boring, unless you are a gear techie (like me).  

#3 - DO NOT point out to us that you are riding your single speed as if we are supposed to be awed by your stamina.  You chose to leave a perfectly good geared bike hanging in your garage, what you are doing is not that hard to do anyway, and your chest thumping is really annoying and in violation of rule #10.

#4 - DO NOT mention that you "haven't ridden in like, two weeks" suggesting that we should understand if you fall behind the group or be amazed if you are somehow able to keep up after such a prolonged layoff.  We all have jobs and families and stuff which sometimes interfere with our riding schedule.  That's life so get over it.  

#5 - DO NOT complain incessantly about your recent injury.  If you want to give us a quick update on your recuperation status at the beginning of the ride, you may do so but again, brevity please.  

#6 - DO NOT wait fore the group at the top of the lung buster hill and as soon as the last rider arrives start rolling again.  I know it is funny to see the look in his eyes but remember that in some other group YOU are the last guy so lighten up and read rule #10 again.

#7 - DO NOT blind me by shining that 10 bazillion candlepower helmet light into my eyes when we stop for a breather during a night ride.  Put your hand over it or even better turn it off.  It took me 30 minutes for my eyes to acclimate to the dark and that thing will probably fry my retina and it's hard to ride a bike with fried retina.

#8 - DO NOT charge ahead and then tap your brakes in the pace line to Chelsy's.  We have no business riding in a pace line anyway, and especially at night.  And when I am cruising at 25 mph just 6 inches away from your rear tire and you tap the brakes, the fun factor completely disappears and instead of thinking about beer I am thinking about stuff like plastic surgery and screws in my wrist.  Please just stay on the back if you want to do this.

#9 - DO NOT carry on about your minor accomplishments that nobody cares about anyway.  Like that time you "cleaned the stream crossing".  Nobody remembers nor really cares.

#10 - DO NOT take this too seriously.  We are riding bicycles for Pete's sake.  We're not negotiating an arms treaty or discussing corrupt homeowner associations.  We do this for fun, just like when we were 8 years old.  Fun means a few laughs and maybe talk about the game or even politics or whatever - but it's not all pedal, pedal, pedal.  Life is too short.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Road Biking for a Change

BIG weekend for cycling:

BikePhilly was a chance to bike, car-free, through and around Philly on Sunday.  Every type of ride imaginable was there for the start at the Art Museum - gearies, single speeds, recumbents, tandems, tandem recumbents, recumbent tricycles, handcycles, and even a tandem bike with "kidback " for the 8 year old stoker in back.  The 8:00am start was awesome with about 10,000 bikes (my guess) cruising down the Avenue of the Arts past city hall on the way to the waterfont.  We finished shortly after 10am (20mile loop) and were home and showered by noon.  This is a great family event, I would highly recommend it for next year.

We also had some competitors at the MarshMan Triathlon this weekend.  I have not received the "full color" report but I understand our contingent enjoyed the refreshing romp in the water, turned in some respectable times, and are definitely looking forward to next year.  Maybe Mike can chime in with some "color commentary" on this event.

Yet another great family event is just around the corner - the 35th annual Marshalton Triathlon.  Don't let Mike's stories about the MarshMan scare you off.  This is a 1000% low-key family event that involves biking, walking (running prohibited), and paddling (downstream, canoes are provided).  A few of us did this last year and had a good time.  It is very popular so if you are interested you should register ASAP.

Weather looks pretty good for this week.  I am traveling on Tuesday so will probably do a morning ride on Monday.  If anyone wants to rally a Tuesday ride just jump in...  So to start we would have the following:
  • Monday morning 6:30am
  • Thursday evening 7:30pm - sunset around 7:15 so bring your lights.

"Just remember, when you're over the hill, you begin to pick up speed." 
- Charles Schultz

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Fur Will Fly

Hunting season is coming and a few people asked what this means for us since we spend a lot of time banging around in the woods. So I took a dive into the PA Game Commission web site and learned that you need the mind of Kreskin to decipher all the regulations.  I do NOT have the mind of Kreskin but following is my attempt at a summary (this is all true, I am not making it up):

The fun starts on September 20th with the opening of archery season for deer.  The junior hunters get going with squirrel season on October 11.  Things get really interesting on October 18 when the muzzle loaders enter the picture with open season on deer, and finally on October 23 the fur really starts flying when disabled persons and residents on Coast Guard active duty jump into the deer season fracas.  Finally the gloves come completely off on December 1st when bear season opens.  Of course woodchucks and opossum are always in season, except until noon daily during the spring gobbler turkey season.

The news is not all bad though:
  • I do recall hearing that guns at Marsh Creek State Park are limited to shotguns which I suppose have less lethal range than rifles but would still leave a mark.  If anyone could confirm or deny this, it would be a nice additional tidbit of information.  
  • I have not been able to confirm but do believe that hunting at night is prohibited.  I think that is brilliant.
  • Not ALL of Marsh Creek State Park is open to hunting.  Apparently the state has concluded that the areas immediately adjacent to the snack bar, the swimming pool, and the bathrooms should NOT be open to hunting.  Again the wisdom of our elected officials is readily apparent here.
  • On Sundays the citizenry is permitted to stroll about their state park lands without fear of being accidentally hit by a stray bullet (unless you happen to be in Philly, Wissahickon for example, in which case the bullets fly 24x7).
So what does this all mean?
  • Wear orange and make lots of noise.
  • Morning rides are probably winding down in the next few weeks so if you want the experience better jump on now.
  • Night rides cranking up soon - getting dark earlier and no fear of being shot (crash into a tree yes, but shot in the head no).
  • Sundays have been and continue to be an all around great day for a mid-morning ride.

"Better to wear out than to rust out"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Perfect Storm

The tools of the trade were varied this weekend.  

It all started with tropical storm Hanna - the rare "perfect storm" for 7 lucky kayakers - warm weather, tropical rains, and high water on the Brandywine all on a weekend afternoon!  We scrambled around 4:00pm and were splashing the kayaks shortly after 5:00.  The scramble was ambitious as it entailed pulling a few guys off the couch (PSU game), dropping two trucks at the downstream takeout point, collecting 8 kayaks and gear, and staging all that equipment down at the creek....all in a little more than 1 hour.  The ensuing ride was wet and wild (and windy) and swept us into Downingtown in just 90min.  We capped off the ride with the obligatory stop by Chelsy's for post adventure debrief.  You know it's home when they have dry clothes waiting for you (yes, one paddler got a free - but most importantly dry - shirt as a gift from Roy the bartender).  A couple of honorable mentions:
  • One kayaker in full wet suit, bicycle helmet, and work boots;
  • Another kayaker navigating very tricky rapid, ran aground, and then shoved off without setting down a paddle or spilling a drop of his cocktail;
  • Our rookie kayaker attempting an Eskimo roll toward the end of the ride.
But most of all, thanks to Dave Burdick who put this whole kayak idea in play with an offhand remark last week...

Sunday as you know cleared up nicely for a bike ride, where we picked up an extra rider who was busy "catching air" off the teeter-totter by the boat ramp.  

And finally on the way home, one of the "Lucky 7" from Saturday was sighted shooting the rapids in a kayak, again, solo this time.  Apparently enough is never enough. 

Revised ride schedule this week, weather looks great:
  • Tuesday morning 6:30am
  • Thursday evening 6:30pm - note proposed time change, trying to catch sunset mid-ride.

"Paddle solo, sleep tandem"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Communication Breakdown

On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 10:34 AM, Andy Sokol wrote in an email to the group: "WAY TO DROP THE BALL DDAY!!"  What follows was my response...

Wow thanks Andy for the nice email (below), I had a great weekend. How was yours?

By "drop the ball" (in flaming capital letters) I presume you are referring to the rescheduled Sunday ride. In my last management trend of the year seminar, I learned that indeed it is the responsibility of the communicator (i.e., me) to ensure the message is effectively received by the audience (i.e., you), so I have taken this to heart. I spent Sunday afternoon and the entire day on Monday in my dark basement office beating myself up, reading management effectiveness books, and Googling "effective communication" trying to figure out how I managed to scramble such a simple message. I am at an impasse, stuck trying to figure out what part of "If you let me know you are interested in riding on Sunday and the time does change then I will be sure to let you know" you did you not understand? Please advise.

For those of you who want to finish the summer on a high note, the Marsh Creek Triathlon (MarshMan) is returning on Sep 14th! The format is do-able (0.25m swim, 12m bike, 2m run) and it looks like over 400 entrants so far! I have already registered for the Bike Philly thing on that same day so can't do MarshMan, but if you are interested check it out at

Riley and I cranked out a great ride this morning. The light rain we got earlier in the weekend has done wonders for the local trails, they are in friggin' great shape.

Finally in closing here is my attempt to communicate a ride schedule for this week:
  • Tue 9/2/2008 is OUT due to back to school activities
  • Wed morning 9/3/2008 6:30am ride.
  • Thr evening 9/4/2008 7:00pm ride. Note bring your lights as this ride will likely end in the dark.
All times are daylight savings time for the eastern time zone.

Adny, plesae let me konw if you hvae any qeutsoins or if tihs cmomnucitaoin appaers to be gralbed.