Saturday, December 29, 2012


With just five riders for the 8:00 pm start we missed the carnival atmosphere that comes from a large more diverse group - the first time night rider, a light without a charge, or the inevitable mechanical breakdown that comes when some of the bikes have not have been ridden in some time. But still, we did have our moments. Like the wardrobe change which left Jim's pants dangling from a no-parking sign near the Lyndel crossing; and the frequent stops to share flasks of bourbon, root, and snap "courage" while imitating the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz.

We were back to "camp" before 9:00pm where we lit the fire and settled in under a clear sky and brilliant full moon. Bonfires foster easy conversation and this one was no different, until it took an innocent but awkward turn.  A casual gesture triggered it, and before we knew it we were knee deep in a good old fashioned outing (as in "out of the closet"). Not the conventional LGBT closet - no - this was a very dark damp musky closet. We did out best to stuff the new knowledge back into the closet and to seal the door shut. Unfortunately the Saturday morning email suggests we were not entirely successful.

We were treated to a great selection of exotic microbrews, Nathan's hot dogs roasted over the open fire (on forks "made in a fork factory"), and more flasks of "courage" before calling it early Saturday morning. The bikes and backpacks were covered in frost lit by the still brilliant full moon. Really spectacular.

Best beer presentation went to Mike (the Irish one). His entry won sort of by default but what it lacked in debauchery in made up for with high marks for practicality and combustion.


     -- The Cowardly Lion at the top of The Bobsled Run

"There Goes Tokyo"
     -- Uttered during Friday night's whirly-bird reenactment

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fire and Ice (actually mud) for Tonight

Preparations for the 7th Annual Bike Bonfire and Beer Exchange are in full swing.

Weather for tonight is 29 degrees at ride time, dropping to a low of 27 degrees at midnight.  Balmy which also means muddy.

Nothing left to do but charge the lights, load up the beer, kiss the family good night. Oh and take the following Beer Bonfire and Beer Exchange fun quiz:

What is "Sheep Dip?"
  1. Liquid formulation of insecticide and fungicide which shepherds use to protect sheep from parasites such as blow-flies, ticks and lice
  2. Half filled bath of hot soapy water shared amongst friends, used to wash off the disco dirt post clubbing or boozing before everyone crashes out on your sofa and floor
  3. Scotch whiskey enjoyed by mountain bikers around a campfire somewhere between Durango Colorado and Moab Utah
Who was featured in a full page spread in the June 2012 issue of Mountain Bike magazine?
  1. Glenn Armstrong
  2. Claus Van Traup
  3. The D2M gang
  4. Chiggers
Which of the following transportation accidents are associated with previous bike-beer-bonfire events?
  1. Riding Miller's lawn mower into the bonfire
  2. Riding Kirk's bicycle over the bonfire
  3. Riding Cathy's beach cruiser through a rock garden
  4. Riding Kaleigh's ATV over a flaming kerosene torch
  5. All of the above
Andy has a new baby-blue bike seat because:
  1. He's color blind
  2. It's slightly more manly than the hot pink one he was riding before
  3. It matches his baby-blue spandex shorts
  4. It's the only color seat Rob had in the trunk of his car
The Overlook is popular on Friday evenings because:
  1. It has a jacuzzi
  2. It has great music
  3. It has a beer tree
  4. None of the above
The 2012 trip to Raystown will be remembered for:
  1. $12 worth of firewood
  2. Night time unicycle riding
  3. 10 seatposts x 1"
  4. The First Floor Queen
  5. All of the above
  6. None of the above (it won't be remembered)
Which of the following is NOT true about the "Green Lane Tickler?"
  1. It is about 8" long
  2. It is flexible
  3. It tickles the inside of your thigh
  4. You can only get them at turnpike rest stops
Please make a nomination for your favorite Bike Ride Beer Exchange acronym::
  1. BEER (BEer Exchange Ride)
  2. BONER (BONfire Exchange Ride)
  3. BaRBIE (Beer Ride BIke Exchange)
  4. REHAB (Ride ExcHAnge Bike)
  5. ________________________ (write in nomination)
See you tonight!


"Keep riding, Nancy. It's just water and dirt.
     -- Huck And Roll

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Obsolescence, Averted

I am a bike part pack rat. My garage is filled with old bikes and parts.  Wheel sets on their last legs are hanging from the rafters in my shed.  I have milk crates filled with old bottom brackets and cranks.  Boxes of bolts, cables, and derailleurs.

And an old steel frame with a 1" head tube.  That head tube size is a casualty of the bike industry's relentless innovation.  Some of the changes are real improvements (remarkable there is anything left to innovate) but others just seem to be strategies for selling more bikes.  Like the new 12 mm x 142 mm axle standard or 650B mountain wheels. Or the 1-1/8" head tube that obsoleted this bike about 10 years ago.

But I digress.

I have found a use for that old friend with the little head tube.  Instead of collecting dust in the shed it is creating smiles in my back yard.  That's right, nothing warms the heart quite like the combination of a bicycle and Christmas tree lights. You've just gotta smile.

Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 7, 2012

Foul Weather Alchemy

The basic ingredients were not that appealing:
  • Dark (5:00 PM)
  • 37° 
  • Rain and sleet
  • Seriously sloppy trails
But two more ingredients...
  • Bikes
  • Beer
...and some Friday alchemy turned it into pure gold.  It always does.  


"Oh Goodness"
  -- Biker chick who wanted to pass me in the root garden...and Kirk

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baby Blue

Sunday's Fair Hill beat down was loaded with great numbers.  Eleven riders, mid-forty temps, 2.5+ hours of riding, 9.5mph average moving speed.  The list goes on.

But the highlight was when Andy busted a seat rail about a mile from the cars and we rode back to get a replacement from Rob's car.  A fetching baby blue one.  Yes he took quite a bit of good-natured abuse in the parking lot.

Now the big question is whether he'll still have that seat next time we ride.

He better!


"We all get it in the end"
     -- unknown

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Cleared the second step.  This picture
shows about 25% of the skinny.
Seven locals and two "Jersey Girls" (Stephanie and Sheryl) turned out today for a Saturday morning romp around White Clay.

Kirk brought his new Daisy Rocket Sled with big wheels and 42x19 gearing (that is not a typo).  There was some head scratching in the parking lot, but I only saw him throw it over his shoulder once during the entire ride.  Pretty impressive.

Also impressive was the detour we took because of a partial park closure for hunting ("violators will be arrested").  The detour included some impressive new skinnies including one mid-air masterpiece with a gnarly entrance and some serious steps, drops, and gaps along the way.  Tom, Scott, and Steve all took serious runs at it, two of them eventually succeeded to much applause and fist pumping (and expletives which I can't put in this blog).


“A bicycle does get you there and more And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.”
     -- unknown

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Terminator

 The Beer Tree at Night
According to Wikipedia, The Terminator is a moving line that separates the illuminated day side and the dark night side of a planetary body.

FHHR has been on the illuminated side of that terminator since last spring.  Thanks to last weekend's switch to standard time, this week's FHHR was on the other side of the terminator.  But it turns out it was not the wrong side.
The Terminator Passes
The Overlook

I arrived at The Overlook a few minutes early.  I thought I might hide and surprise Mike and Mark as they bombed the trail to The Overlook, but then thought better of it (bikes speeding through the woods at night, somebody would get hurt for sure).

Once they arrived, we cracked our beers and enjoyed our first Happy Hour on this side of The Terminator.  The feeling of standing in the woods, at night, drinking beer, conjured some distant memories.

It felt like we were getting away with something.

It felt good.


"It’s opener, out there, in the wide open air"
     -- Dr Seuss

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Little Bit Frightening

Friday Happy Hour was "a little bit frightening" with Mark leading the charge on his new Karate Monkey single speed.  That "cat was as fast as lightning" and even "had expert timing" ... except for that one spot on The Bonus Loop where it was not so expert.  Not a a reset of the crash counter but definitely honorable mention.

Fortune Cookies and an iPod playing "Kung Foo Fighting" rounded out the christening and festivities for four of us at The Overlook.  And that can of Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA (10%) didn't hurt either.


P.S. Here's one more for the old timers.

Raystown Romp

The Big Ride
Who ever thought nipple-ripping could be so much fun?  Not me, no sir.  At least not until last weekend when we headed to the hills of central PA for three days of singletrack.  The basic outline:
  • 20 Downingtown area riders 
  • 2 cabins on Raystown Lake
  • 40 miles of top-shelf singletrack
  • Food and beer for 40
  • Enough firewood to build an ark (that's $12 in local currency)
Steve airs it out on The Hydro Loop
First let's explore the riding.  The reason we came.  The tie that binds us.
  • On Friday Mike, Mike, and I ditched our bags at The Chalet and went straight to the trail head.  We had driven 3.5 hours for a weekend of riding.  We'd been dreaming of the Hydro Loop for 12 months.

    Tangent: Hydro is an enigma of a trail.  It is straight out of a M.C. Escher illustration.  A quick two mile loop the returns to it's origin but is downhill the entire way.

    We were full of piss and vinegar.  So we chose Osprey for our pilgrimage to The Hydro Loop since is was the most direct route.  Top to bottom in about 10 minutes.  Railing turns and popping ears, we rolled right into Hydro.  Midway through the Loop, Mike spied a beer bottle delicately perched on a tree.  It was Friday and it spoke to us.  Without a word we dropped our bikes and popped open the beers that happened to be in our backpacks.  Friday Happy Hour was secure for another week.
  • Saturday was of course THE BIG RIDE.  Twenty bikers snaking through the forest, down Doe and Fawn to Eagle on our pilgrimage to the Hydro Loop .  It's hard to describe the sensation of riding with a group that big.  The energy is palpable.  The banter is endless.  The pace is fast.  And with that many riders, you never quite know what you will find around the next when Jim washed out at high speed, bloodying an arm and ripping off a nipple.  Luckily with 19 fellow riders to administer first aid and help with the bike we were back on our way in minutes.
  • Kicking back at The Chalet
  • Sunday was more of a recovery ride. Twelve miles of single track on the south side of the park.  A little rockier, a little rawer.  More variable terrain.  Some great views and a smokin' downhill back to the Visitor's Center.
Bikes with properly adjusted seat posts
hiding in laundry room at The Chalet
FOOD of course is a HUGE part of any serious biking weekend.  And at the Chalet, the food theme started with "PO" and ended with "RK".
  • Saturday breakfast included three pounds of bacon.  Saturday lunch was pulled pork sliders.  Sunday breakfast included ham and bacon.  Saturday lunch was grilled pork sausage.  Tough 
  • Boxers Cafe on Friday night.  Bikes hanging from the ceiling and college co-eds sitting in the seats.  A great menu and draft microbrews.  Home made mixed-berry pie.  
  • Sunday morning we discovered Oreos and sour cream.  Calories any way you can get them.
  • The Root.  It's always there, on the rides, around the campfire, and in the center console.  Like an old friend.
And finally the people, the ingredient that really makes the weekend.  Whether you are riding with them, eating with them, passing a bottle around the campfire, or lowering their seat posts, it's the people that make the mojo and the memories.  For example:
  • Kevin and Jason (Chalet Black Ops team) who snuck over to The Cabin in the wee hours of Saturday morning to lower ten seat posts by about an inch.  The next morning at the trail head was priceless and set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
  • The First Floor Queen at The Cottage.  This weekend wouldn't happen without The Queen.  The First Floor one.
  • Suzy.  She brought a touch of class to The Chalet.  She ensured we sat together at the table for meals.  She taught us how to Farkle.  She rode some mean single track.  And she made me laugh and snort beer out of my nose when she sarcastically uttered "is he talking?" as Mike was pontificating around the campfire.
  • The zombies patrolling the dirt road.
  • Eric performs tubeless stress test at the Visitor's
    Center.  Click and zoom in on that rear tire to see the
    displacement.  With tubes that is a pinch flat for sure.
  • Martin, who rode a unicycle - on a rutted pothole infested dirt road - IN THE DARK - to Friday's campfire at The Chalet.  And then home again when a freak weather microburst sent The Cabin scurrying.
"Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood."
     -- Vincent (Pulp Fiction)

     --  Possumrider

Friday, October 5, 2012


Statistics for this week's Happy Hour at The Overlook:
  • Low 70s, sunny, and dry 
  • Nine riders 
  • Two walkons (Kim and "St Pete's" Jim) 
  • One foam-padded bike with Specialized carbon frame 
  • One video shoot with multiple bloopers and out-takes 
  • and more additions to the beer tree (still no repeats) 
By my calculation, that totals up to a perfect 10.


"Every Ride Has A Story"
-- unknown

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Destiny Meets Her Match

Mark wins for most thematic lunch
Where would I be without my bike friends? Probably stuck somewhere in the woods north of Sinking Spring PA.  Or worse, at work drowning in mountain of emails. Let me elaborate...

It started early in the week with idle banter of playing "hooky" to ride Blue Marsh on a Friday. It was an entertaining thought but when a couple of Friday meetings cancelled, it became a real possibility. By Thursday night we had six responsible dads shifting gears into full delinquent mode.

Blue Marsh is one of the bigger rides in this area. It's a respectable 23 miles with a lot of ups, downs, and stream crossings. And it's lake loop so there is no bail out option, you have to be "all in." This and the fact you're doing it with five buddies gives the ride a mildly epic feel. Mere mention of the word epic brings out the seven year old in any red-blooded mountain biker, and as we know seven year olds don't always exhibit the best judgement when they get over-excited.

My lack of judgement shifted onto the big ring Thursday night as I was checking out the bike (tire pressures, chain lube, etc) and I noticed the rear brake dragging just a little. The thought of even a little brake drag for a 23 mile loop was disconcerting so I did what you never do before a big ride. I started fiddling around with the bike (in this case adjusting the calipers). And I went to bed and then I got up and I started fiddling with the bike again, this time cycling the hydraulic brake pistons while the bike was upside down. I should have known better but obviously two espressos had not cut the fog enough to bring out my better judgement, and now I had hydraulic brakes with air in them and rear brake power was severely compromised.

But now it was time to leave so I did what any self respecting seven year old would do with defective equipment on the morning of an epic. I loaded up the bike and I eagerly headed off for my 23 mile appointment with Destiny.

Destiny plays her third card
Well it turns out that Destiny is a crafty and patient lady. She had 23 miles to work with so she cradled me gently in her arms for nearly an hour. She did this so that I would feel safe and confident. She did it for 10 miles so I would be fully committed. And then she played her cards, three of them, in rapid succession...

First she bent my derailleur hanger and let me limp along with grinding gears for a couple miles. Then she loosened the bearing assembly in the rear hub just a tiny bit. She thought I would not notice, but I did. With some fiddling I fixed the hub and got the derailleur barely functional. But Destiny was not finished with me, oh no. At mile 11 Destiny sucked the rear brake spreader-spring into my brake rotor. The wheel ground to a halt with the horrible screech of metal on metal.

The trailside scene at mile 11 was a highlight of the ride. Imagine three guys (that's six hands) in there fiddling with the bike, disassembling the brake, bending springs, examining pads, and reassembling it again. My 51 year old eyes were struggling with the close-in detail work. Mike asked if we had a forty-year-old in the group, and Andy chimed in with "I had Lasik surgery!" Somehow with Andy's sharp eyes and Mark's technical know-how we got it back together with only one part left over (the spreader spring) and we were off.  Now the nearly useless rear brake would be totally useless with 12 miles of swooping downhills and waterbars to go.
Tangent: A waterbar is an abrupt 1-2' drop partway down a steep downhill trail. It forces water off to the side of the trail to reduce erosion. The last thing you want to do when going downhill over a waterbar is to use your front brake...which of course was the only brake I had thanks to Lady Destiny.
I became a better rider during the last 12 miles. I had to. I learned to shift my weight back and to generally use less brake. I learned to let'r fly. I made a mental note to add spare pads and some readers to my camelback before the next ride. And I managed to find "my happy place" (a skill I learned from D2M) on some of those long uphill grinds and the short punch-you-in-the-gut steeps.

Somehow I finished the ride without going over the handlebars. We rolled into the parking lot exhausted and triumphant. We headed to Ganly's Pub for well deserved beers and California Chicken Cheesesteaks and arrived home just in time to saddle up again for the Friday Happy Hour Ride. That my friends is commitment!

Our second ride of the day was mercifully short and not as painful as I expected, and our commitment was rewarded in spades when Don made his second annual pilgrimage from southern Vermont to join the Friday Happy Hour Ride and Jesse rolled in on her Spot Longboard with a batch of fresh baked vegan wheat germ muffins. This truly was a day packed full of bike rides, bike friends, bike food, and bike stories.

Destiny had met her match!


"I just like stuff that works"
     -- BobG comment during trailside bike component discussion

Monday, September 17, 2012

Other Side of the Tracks (Road)

Following is our track and statistics from Sunday's ride where we explored the east side of Appleton Road. We retraced our route a couple of times but it appears we did a pretty thorough job...

View 09/16/2012 8:57am in a larger map

Total distance: 22.21 km (13.8 mi)

Total time: 2:19:41
Moving time: 1:51:10
Average speed: 9.54 km/h (5.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 11.99 km/h (7.4 mi/h)
Max speed: 28.80 km/h (17.9 mi/h)
Average pace: 6.29 min/km (10.1 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 5.00 min/km (8.1 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 2.08 min/km (3.4 min/mi)
Max elevation: 85 m (277 ft)
Min elevation: 33 m (109 ft)
Elevation gain: 230 m (754 ft)
Max grade: 6 %
Min grade: -4 %
Recorded: 09/16/2012 8:57am

Friday, September 14, 2012

FHHR Hat Trick (or "Blood Sweat and Tears on the Double Bonus Loop")

It has been a punishing couple of months at work. The sort of stuff that, if you're not careful, can take a real toll on you over time. It sounds silly, but the Friday Happy Hour Rides (FHHR) have been instrumental in helping me put the work week behind me and carve out a few days to relax with my family and start the next week re-energized. The FHHR is a magical concoction of blood sweat and tears:
  • Sweat - take the tension from a long workweek and HAMMER it completely out of your body with your bike and miles of wooded singletrack. This is the one physical activity where I can completely commit myself physically and come home utterly exhausted and drenched in sweat and endorphins.
  • Blood - occasionally one of the group will get a little banged up. Nothing life altering, just a little mud and blood. If you're lucky it will be you. If you're really lucky it will be the guy in front of you. It jars you out of your day-to-day and reminds you that you're alive. If it's the guy in front of you, it's a reminder it could (and eventually will) be you.
Tangent: How does getting banged up make you feel alive? Well, that scraped shin or sore knee that starts throbbing during the noontime conference call is a tangible reminder of the adventure had - the fresh air, the speed, the laughs, the risk that you took, the high that you had just a few hours or days before. It's a daily reminder that you sometimes live outside the comfort zone of day-to-day life, in a place where shit happens to you. Stuff happening. That's living. That's alive.
  • Tears - of laughter. At The Overlook on a Friday afternoon there is nothing but your fellow bikers, some dirty bikes, a beautiful view, a warm beer or two and lots of great stories and laughter. Nothing heavy. We're twelve years old again. Riding bikes and carrying on in the woods. 
During the Friday ride, this concoction helps us switch gears from the workweek to the weekend. It happens subconsciously. We don't know it's happening. All we know when we saddle up at 5:00pm is that we'll return home in a couple of hours exhausted and energized, with the workweek fading in the rearview mirror and a full weekend of family, relaxation, and maybe some more adventure stretching out in front of us.

This week's FHHR installment was particularly notable for:
  • The un-frickin' believable weather. Yes this is truly the best riding time of year. 
  • Picking up a walk-on FHHR player. We will see if Mike becomes a regular (that would make three Mikes in the group of regulars, I am feeling outnumbered). 
  • Our emerging Object D'Art at The Overlook (according to Wikipedia an Object D'Art is "a work of art with some artistic merit. An artwork exhibited for the purposes of decoration or the reflection of social status"). This week Mark added a performance element when he did his imitation of "a monkey using a tool" to make his contribution.  We also instituted a "no repeat rule" to the performance art elements which elevates this from an Object D'Art to an outright competition. 
And if a walk-on and an installment of competitive performance art isn't enough, we were also treated to a reset of the crash counter on the hard charging return leg when Mark tried to bunny hop an 18" log pile at full speed (On most days a prudent rider would slow down just a little before hitting that log pile. This wasn't most days). We already had the sweat and tears in the bag. Now we had the blood... 

...which made today's FHHR a bonified Hat Trick. A FHHR Triple Crown!


"They say money can't buy happiness. But it can buy bikes and beer."
     - ecards

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Morning Shredfest

DB5 with Shredded Chain
I don't know if "it's darkest before the dawn" but when I saddled up this morning it was well before dawn and it was so dark I nearly collided with a couple of pre-dawn hikers on my way to the lake (I like to ride by moonlight when I can).  When I met DB5 around 6:00am the lake was shrouded in mist and the eastern sky was just starting to give up the ghost.

We decided to hit the hills on the west side. Of course this demanded that we eventually assault (again) The Sidewinder from the downhill side. I bailed on the first punch and waved DB5 in on the Furly single-speed. He fully committed all 220 pounds to the assault but unfortunately his two year old chain failed him, well, catastrophically. I mean it just shredded. I've seen many broken chains in the field but this was the first time I've seen the side plates on a chain literally ripped in half.

We took 15 minutes to laugh about how bad it could have been, take some pictures, repair the chain, and saddle up for the return leg.

An hour later I was showered, dressed, and at the office...snickering to myself and glad that there are DBs in this world who also like bikes and are crazy enough to ride them in the woods with me. In the dark. In the early morning on a weekday. It's one of the things that gets me through the day...


"Cycling is like church-many attend but few understand"
     -- Jim Burlant

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dirty Little Secret

Stop on Way to the Launch to Meet Mark
Mark and I have been doing weekday morning rides all summer. That's a 6:00am departure from the boat launch.  Home before 7:30, showered, and at work by 8:30. A full day of action before most people finish their first cup of coffee.  My dirty little secret.

But it's late August and the summer solstice is a distant memory, the sun is heading south, and the days are getting shorter.  It is pretty dark at 6:00am.  So we were considering pushing start time back to 6:15am. The extra 15 minutes of sleep wouldn't hurt either.

Then somehow I got turned around in my thinking.  I got silly.  Don't avoid the dark. Embrace it by nudging the start time in the other direction. To something like 5:30am. Then I could start riding in the pitch dark and finish in daylight.  Never done that before.  I pitched it and there was some head shaking and head scratching, but I knew.  It had to be done.

So I did it.
Still Dark on The Bonus Loop

Alarm went off at 5:00am.  Breakfast, coffee, and morning constitutional.  I rolled at 5:35am under a starlight sky. Very peaceful.  Saw some critters in the woods, pairs of eyes staring at me from the woods. Brilliant stars overhead.  Rode to the boat launch around 6:00am to pickup Mark, and we rolled the Double Bonus Loop (still with lights), then on the way back home we burst out into full daylight at the top of The Sole Trail.  After 90 minutes in the relative dark, it was like an explosion of light and warmth to cap off our ride.

Night to light.  Never did it that way before, but I'm know I'll do it again.  Maybe even earlier.


"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
     - unknown

Thursday, August 2, 2012


View of the valley from above North Conway.
We are a couple hundred yards from
the most amazing switchback I have ever seen.
Thank you Erica!

I was vacationing in Maine this week.  Turns out my neighbor Mike was too. We both had our bikes and were both staying within an hour of North Conway New we made a date this morning with the renowned Red Tail Trail in North Conway NH.

First we stopped by Joe Jones Sporting Goods for some parts, advice, and a map, and it was there that Erica gently prodded us to ignore our XC sensibilities and shuttle The Red Tail Trail instead of riding up it. Good call. Red Tail is do-able uphill, but it was unbelievably awesome as a down-hill and I would want all my marbles in order to fully enjoy the ride down.

Note the striking similarity between
my knee after the ride and
the chili dog I ate after the ride .
This trail is a NEMBA masterpiece. The many switch backs are tight and nicely bermed. One was crafted entirely from about a dozen pieces of granite the size of a washing machine. They were precisely arranged like a giant jigsaw puzzle into a massive bermed turn (impossible to slow down for a picture). I have no idea how they did all this work in such a remote spot.

The 1,500' descent was over too quickly, probably no more than 45 minutes had elapsed when we rounded the water tower at the bottom. This is where I got my memento of the ride, when my front wheel washed out in some loose gravel.


"Ride it, don't slide it"
     -- anonymous downhiller

Monday, July 30, 2012


This morning I rode to the top of Streaked Mountain (pronounced "STREEK-id").

According to GPS, it was a climb of about 1,700 feet which seems way on the high side, until you consider the view from the top. As you can see from the pictures, I was high ABOVE the clouds. Granted the clouds were very low (dense ground fog really) but the effect was stunning.


Friday, July 27, 2012

The Bike Will Choose

"The Bike Will Choose"
Friday was a rare double-dipper. And on this particular Friday, "the bike would choose." Let me elaborate.

The first dip was a morning of rolling single-track at Fair Hill. About an hour in, Mike's rear derailleur sucked up a loose branch and twisted off his frame. Without a spare derailleur hanger, we had to resort to converting his bike to "dingle" speed by removing the derailleur entirely and shortening the chain. As you'd expect from any mechanical, there was no shortage of advice for Mike as he worked on the bike. There was even some debate about "what gear Mike would 'choose'" for his new dingle speed. But anyone who has done the s/dingle-speed field conversion (I did one myself last year) knows the mechanic has no say in the matter. It's all about the chain line and in the end, we knew"the bike will choose." Thankfully it chose a merciful 34:21 ratio for what little was left of Mike's morning ride.

After three of us rolled the single track in The Fox Pen, we returned to the cars to cap off the ride with some cold Shift Ale and talk of Moab, then home to clean up, refuel, and head out for the Friday happy hour ride (our second dip of the day). That afternoon was not my fastest time to The Overlook (legs like cement), but the siren call of bikes and beer (and baked goods) would not be denied.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recipe for Disaster

Stan's Miracle Sealant
I have four recipes I would like to discuss with you.

Recipe #1 is for STAN'S Tire Sealant. My El Mariachi is rolling tubeless on Stans ARCH rims and Continental X-King tires. The only thing between a thorn and a flat tire is a couple tablespoons of Stan's sloshing around inside the tire. So imagine my surprise when I found this 1/4" gash in the rear tire which is still holding air even after a one hour trail ride at Marsh Creek.  Whatever did that (probably a shard of glass) would have certainly sliced a tube and flatted instantly.  What the heck did Stan put in that stuff?  And do I try to repair from the inside or do I just keep riding it?

Recipe #2 is for vegan pumpkin oatmeal COOKIES (which by the way go great with beer).  Once again, Jesse's considerable biking and baking skills combine to make the Friday Happy Hour Ride even happier. Maybe she'll post the recipe on her bog.

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Recipe #3 is the one for the FRIDAY HAPPY HOUR RIDE. There are a lot of intangibles in this recipe, but the basic ingredients this week were:
  1. A Friday afternoon with the whole weekend in front of us 
  2. Eleven mountain bikers with a passion for fast singletrack and cold beers 
  3. A few miles of fast and firm singletrack (no rain in weeks)
  4. Assortment of thematic microbrews including New Belgium's Shift Ale and Fat Tire Ale
  5. An occasional civilian through-rider to stir up the crowd
  6. Fresh homemade pumpkin oatmeal cookies
  7. Did I mention beer?
Recipe #4 is for DISASTER. Almost. There are two versions of this recipe, one of which was perfected by Mark on the ride back:
  1. Recipe for disaster #1 is drink one beer at The Overlook.  On the way back (while riding some twitchy hillside singletrack), reach down with right hand to tighten ratchet on right shoe.  This is survivable in 5 out of 10 attempts.
  2. Recipe for disaster #2 is drink two beers at The Overlook.   On the way back (while riding some twitchy hillside singletrack), reach down with right hand through the frame to tighten ratchet on left shoe.  This is survivable in 2 out of 10 attempts.  
Mark tried the 2nd version and arrived at the boat launch a little bloody but still smiling...and we all agreed that this recipe tastes great and is much more memorable than the more pedestrian (literally) "happy-hour-on-the-back-deck" variety.

Already looking forward to next week.


“Like dogs, bicycles are social catalysts that attract a superior category of people” 
     -- Chip Brown

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Clockwise from upper left: Belt drive Raleigh XXIX departs
with precious cargo; about 100 degrees in the sun; close up
of belt drive with break-away chain stay; and ice cream
being served on the dirt at The Overlook.
We thought we'd taken the Friday Happy Hour Ride about as far as could be expected for a handful of middle-age biker guys. 

It started with a garage beer thrown in the backpack for our Friday afternoon ride to The Overlook. 
Tangent: Garage Beer is always in a can, usually inexpensive, and is kept in (or in close proximity to) the garage for spur of the moment consumption or sharing with friends.
Oh sure, we dialed up the event by switching to exotic micro-brews, and finally by upping the ante to 2-3 beers apiece, but the basic formula has remained the same. Bikes+beer. A simple but a very effective way of slamming the door on the workweek and stepping into the weekend with some style.
Another tangent: That last innovation (the 3 beer thing) was a silly stupid which we learned the hard way.  We've since voluntarily dialed the limit back to 2.  We're smarter than we look.  
But all that changed a few weeks ago when Jesse and Steve turned up for the Friday Happy Hour.  We frequently have drop in guests (once we had one from Vermont), but this time the visitors brought fresh homemade vegan chocolate bundt cake. The only thing better than chocolate cake and beer is chocolate cake and calorie-starved cyclists...or so we thought...

...turns out that beer, calorie-starved cyclists, and fresh homemade ice cream on a steamy 94 degree Friday afternoon is an even better combination. Yessiree. 

But now where do we go from here?  Drag yourself out the The Overlook to find out!  With the safety net of good people, a relaxed outdoor setting, and cold beer, you really can't go wrong.  And who knows what kind of culinary feat of daring-do you might whitness?  


The Green Lane Tickler

The Tickler
What is about 8" long, made of flexible plastic, and tickles the inside of your thigh for almost 3 hours on Saturday morning?

Correct Answer: The Green Lane Tickler

Closely resembling a broken bike seat held together by some duct tape and a zip-tie, the Green Lane Tickler was conceived about 2 miles into our 15 mile ride around Green Lake. The Tickler provided Bryan with 13 miles of biking bliss. 

But the question remains, will The Tickler return for another ride? Or will The Tickler be retired to the bedroom nightstand fun drawer? Stay tuned to find out.


"Put some fun between your legs"
     -- unknown

Sunday, June 17, 2012

AT Shakedown with The Girls

WARNING: This is technically not a bike related post but it is the reason I missed the Friday-Happy-Hour-and-Micro-Brew-Taste-Test ride and it does include a back woods rope swing so hoping nobody will be too offended...

The girls are amazing.

On this weekend we opened a new chapter in our long-running father-daughter adventure series.  We've done a decade of of car and cabin camping since they were five years old. We've sailed the Chesapeake in our own bareboat flotilla, and we even did a weekend canoe camping trip down the Delaware. But this would be a Father's Day version featuring backpacking, our most primitive adventure yet.  We chose the Appalachian Trail north of Reading for our trip. We were told this was some of the rockiest and difficult terrain on the entire 1,200 mile AT. How would the girls handle the hiking with 15-20 lbs of gear on their backs? Drinking water would have to be filtered from mountain springs. Digging their own latrines when they were kids would have been a novelty, how how would four teenage girls take to it?

Well in short they tore it up.  There should never have been any doubt, they have always risen to the challenge. And the challenge started before we had even strapped on the backpacks. We were at the trail head, cutting walking sticks and scoping out the trail entrance when the sole of Emily's hiking boot delaminated. Completely. A tube of 5 minute epoxy, a roll of duct take, and 30 minutes later we were on our way with fingers crossed.

At the first trail junction, we handed the girls a compass put them in charge. They never looked back and led the way, Dads sweeping, for the entire two days of hiking.

Sara showing how it is done. That
water is wicked cold (spring fed).
Dinner time
A few hours later we trundled into the Hertlein campsite. We settled on one of the two tent platforms (the other was already taken) and started setting up camp. The girls, to their credit, immediately got to figuring out the rules of engagement.  "Can we take off our boots?"  "Can we go to the stream?" "Can I sleep outside?" (as if sleeping in a tent isn't outside enough) "Can we put on our bathing suits go down that path to the swimming hole?"  And of course the answers to all those questions was YES but we did insist on the buddy system as they trucked off to the swimming hole and we finished setting up camp. Within minutes we could hear screams and laughter, confirming they had found the legendary spring fed (very very cold) swimming hole and rope swing. We (Sebastian, Jim, and I) eventually worked our way down there and discovered the shangri-la of camp sites. Picnic table, fire pit, plenty of room for the tents, next to the swimming hole and water fall,  After a quick glance (no words were necessary) we hurried back up to the original campsite, and hauled our gear down to the place we would call home for the next 16 hours.

PJs around the campfire, it doesn't
get any better than this!
We quickly fell into the familiar and comfortable rhythm of camp life. Dinner was a smorgasbord of freeze dried backpacker meals - lasagna, spaghetti with meat balls, chicken and potatoes, tacos, and freeze dried ice cream. Yum (seriously). We gathered wood and soon had a crackling campfire. Games ensued and the Dads used the rope swing to set up the bear bag, and we eventually settled in around the campfire for the traditional Dad-Daughter jocularity and ghost stories.

The Tribe before breaking camp
We turned in around 10:00pm and Sara, true to her word, found a small clearing for her sleeping bag (no tent) and crawled in for the night. Around 3:30am I checked in with her and she asked me if there were "any wolf packs in the area." I assured her there were not, but obviously her imagination was working on her and I was not surprised when 10 minutes later she showed up at the tent asking if she could curl up with me. That was a no brainer, and with her snuggled up next to me I was finally able to fall into a deep relaxed sleep.

Boulder field. About a mile of this
ankle busting terrain on day two...
...but yet they keep laughing, smiling,
and hiking. They are amazing.
We slept in until 7:30am (obviously very tired). Coffee got things going for me and I learned (the hard way) why setting a round roll of toilet paper on a hillside while you are "indisposed" is a very bad idea. We topped off our water supply, loaded our packs, groaned a little as we put them back on (funny how they push on all the wrong sore spots from yesterday), and broke camp, continuing west toward Rt 501 (this was a point-to-point hike). Today's hike would be about twice the distance of day one and would include traversing of a massive boulder field but would also include many more scenic overlooks than day one. The Angelina Jolie game, twenty-one questions, and hours of Seinfeld trivia questions made the 4.5 hour hike go by quickly. The sun was out, but temps were cool, and it was absolutely perfect hiking conditions.

Rt 501 and Success!
Sara working on her free
climbing skills
I can't say how proud I am of the girls. This was a physically demanding trip that asked a lot of the girls, but they were all about embracing the adventure every step of the way. When they had to suck it up and soldier on they did. And when they had a chance to relax, they provided and endless supply of giggles and smiles. Emily had even climbed aboard this adventure while nursing a nasty summer cold (in addition to her disintegrating boots).  It was the kind of weekend that brings tears (of joy) to a Dad's eyes and produces memories for a lifetime. Thank you girls!

The Luckiest Dad on the Planet,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Brought a Bike to a Paddle Fight

Forgot my paddle for this morning's ride.

We stumbled upon the last 2 hours of a 24 hour paddling endurance event featuring the pastor from a local church. He was bundled up in blankets at the first aid tent. He had paddled 80 miles!

When I do an endurance event, I want to rely on endurance of my legs, not my arms.  Have you seen my arms?

BTW, Safe Harbour is a local homeless shelter.


"Beware of all enterprises that require a change into Lycra"
     -- unknown

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"I love the smell of thermonuclear
detonations in the morning
Name that movie...
We were greeted by cool crisp air, dew covered grass, a heavy mist over the lake, and a massive thermonuclear detonation (sunrise) over the lake.

When we ducked into the Sole Trail around 6am we were in the shadow of a hillside so it was still almost dusk. We rode the Bonus Loop, under cover the whole way. When we finally climbed out the top of the Sole Trail on the return leg 30 minutes later, we were bathed in brilliant sunlight. It really was like night and day.

It was our first weekday morning ride of the season. These morning rides are precious, partly because so few people do them, but also because they feel so utterly different from the typical daytime ride. You know how the first few times you go on a night ride, it's utterly alien experience?  Well it's the same with these early morning rides. Your head is in a completely different place, the light is totally different, the smells, the wildlife, everything is different. These factors stack up and multiply in your head, and the result is quite amazing.


P.S. Oh and Mark's Furly SS had a mechanical. My geared El Mar did not. I think he's looking forward to switching from Furly to Surly, MikeM get your toolbox ready...

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Knee Bone is Apparently Connected to the Ankle Bone

Had my knee drained as result of my crash a couple of weeks ago. Doctor told me some ice, compression, and Advil should finish the job. But today about 4 hours after I put the compression wrap on my knee, my ankle swelled up like a kielbasa sausage and started turning purple.

Yes, this is a knee injury.

I figure the knee's bursa sack with new drain hole (as of yesterday thanks to drainage procedure) is now draining down the inside of my leg and pooling in my foot. Kind of gross but no pain and kind of an interesting physiological experiment.

Glad to be of service.


“I'll take the Pain and Humiliation Combo, super-sized”
     -- unknown

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

52 Back

I never met Bud Mauger, but I think he would have gotten a chuckle seeing the look on that biker's face.

The biker was westbound on the Lakeside Trail but swimming against a very strong current - the 2012 Bud Mauger Memorial Ride. Dozens of eastbound mountain bikers. I imagined the lead rider telling him something like "fifty two back", and him standing there watching a seemingly endless train of riders emerge from the woods. I made that number up but I think it's about right, and it's says a lot about Bud's reputation with the local biking community. All those riders turning up at 6:00pm on a Wednesday. Amazing.

I expected a milk run, with lots of stops, a few breakdowns*, etc. But train moved fast and never slowed much as it wound around the bonus loops, over a bunch of new rogue single track and eventually back to the boat launch for some beer-assisted socializing. I was glad to be part of it (thanks Mike for beating the drum).
Old Rasputin
* the only breakdown I know of was our own MarkS. Crank arm fell off. Apparently this was the second time. The first time he hammered it back on using a rock. We explained that properly attaching a crank arm requires a little technique and sometimes a special tool. And that special tool is RARELY a hammer. Or a rock. Someone is shopping for a new crank set.
I capped off the ride with a shower, a plate of macaroni and cheese, and an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. The most aweome-est pint of empty calories that money can buy. What a Wednesday!


"There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so worthwhile as simply messing about on bicycles"
     -- Tom Kunich

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giving Back (a.k.a. playing in the dirt with power tools and chain saws)

Main stretch
of new causeway
PATH trail maintenance day at Marsh Creek. Amazing what 15 volunteers can get done with a box of donuts, some scrap lumber, and a little supervision. The creative playthings bridge has evolved into a 70' long raised causeway, seems like overkill but apparently park officials were fetching about damage to the soft ground from bike traffic.

The bridge is built to last, but most memorable is the curved on and off ramp. So sweet cannot wait to ride this thing!

Crafting the curved on/off ramp


Friday, May 18, 2012

Unhinged for Something Cold

Something Cold in a Brown Paper Bag
This morning when I woke up my knees were symmetrical . This evening not so much. But let's start at the beginning.

The FHHR run-up started Thursday night with this email from one of the DBs:
"Speaking of beer, I was sitting in traffic at Chelsea's Tavern an hour ago and I think MO7S's old girlfriend came stumbling out the front door, dropping f-bombs with every misplaced step.  Gem.  Inside I could see a guy in a wheelchair running over some dude's work boots.  I really wanted to stop in..."
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Chelsey's of course is our favorite skanky-get-some-local-color-dive-bar and we have more than a couple of ride reports to prove it. So this kind of talk on a Thursday really tends to get the group rev'd up for the FHHR. And when it's followed on Friday by en email photo of a brown paper bag with something cold in it, people start to come unhinged and potentially make bad choices... the bad choice I made trying to rail a turn in my haste to get to The Overlook for the HH part of FHHR. Ran wide, front tire washed out, and my knees got a little dirty (and later that day asymmetrical).

But within minutes we were into the HH part of the afternoon and the knees were forgotten (for a while) as the conversation ranged far and wide, from merits of boiling versus finishing hops in an IPA, to Fox versus Reba suspension forks, and finally to breeding stock and Ron Jeremy.

Another bang-up happy hour, in more ways than one.


"Keep the rubber side down"
     -- unknown