Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Inflection Point

"Would you like something to drink with dinner?"

I had just gotten home from work. I have been feeling pretty lazy and soft lately. Sitting at my desk earlier in the day I had daydreamed of a quick ride to clear the cobwebs. Now it was 7:00pm and Ruth had asked the innocent question, unwittingly putting me at the fork in the road. There were two possible paths for the evening, now I would have to decide which to take:

  • Path #1 - Go for a ride  Temps were still fairly mild (33°). Sure it was wet and normal trails would be the consistency of peanut butter, so I'd be forced to ride the Struble into town. And back. Oh and yes it would be dark. And it would be lonely (wingmen in short supply on a Wednesday night).
  • Path #2 - Have a glass of wine and put on some music. After dinner kick back for some board games, possibly catch some John Stewart. Maybe if I was lucky, even doze off on the couch after Sara went to bed.

"No, I think I'll just have water" I heard myself say.

A couple hours later I found myself riding across the dam toward the Struble, in the cold, and dark, and wet. Alone. But the fresh air and exercise felt great, my head was clearing and I was feeling just a little bit less soft.

On the way home is when it happened. As I crested the hill by the farm I nearly hit a deer. Literally. It just stood there staring at me and didn't make any effort to move out of my way. I hit the brakes, my wheel less than a foot from her. I moved slowly to turn off my lights, amazed that she had't bolted. She was looking straight at me and I reached out slowly. I could feel her breath on my hand, but she would not let me touch her. She slowly stepped back, cautious but also curious. I tried to lure her back, but she took a very slow meandering path back toward the treeline, never in much of a hurry, but never quite taking her eyes off me either.

By the time she was gone, my eyes were adjusted to the dark so I treated myself to one of night-riding's rare pleasures - a lights-off ride the rest of the way home.

Once again it is proven, you'v got to play to win.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Single Track

Just about as single
as a track can get...
That track is about as single as you can get, unless you are riding a unicycle.

The fresh snow and rabbit tracks, and the "cotton in your ears" sensation you get with fresh snow in the woods was really beautiful this morning. But the wet snow made for a pretty tough ride. There was enough snow that I had to stand up to push through it (single speed) but that would unweight the rear wheel and I would lose some traction - two crank turns to make one crank turn of progress.

But what a welcome break from all the mud and slop of the last month. Really spectacular. God I love the seasons.


"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
     -- John Muir

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King

Overnight temperatures of 12° guaranteed fast trails for today's Martin Luther King Day ride. I needed all the help I could get. Two months of crappy riding conditions (slop) have left me in pretty sad shape. Hoping for a real winter and more 12° nights...

Review - Winter Riding Shoes Boots - Shimano MW81

Shimano MW81 (569g)
ITEM: Shimano MW81
PURCHASED: from Brands Cycling and Fitness in December 2011
PRICE: $229

After five years of pulling a pair of tight fitting neoprene booties over my riding shoes, the convenience of slipping into a pair of MW81s is awesome. I have only ridden 3x with them and not yet below the mid-20s, but they seem to be plenty warm (though not quite as warm as my riding shoes with the booties). Unexpected weight bonus, they are considerably lighter (569g each) than my Shimano M086s with Performance booties (743g each).
Shimano M086 and
neoprene bootie (743g)

Sizing was a little tricky. Web site and customer support said to go with same size as the M086, but turned out the MW81s were too small, I had to go one size bigger. This was not a "thick sock" issue, the foot bed fit was different. Once size bigger fixed both problems.

All around I am thrilled with these, now if only winter would get started (has been very mild so far). I would definitely recommend these, just be careful with sizing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Skunked twice in two days.
Saturday morning -
Closed for deer culling
Whenever we visit the inlaws in Maryland I take the opportunity to sneak out early and hit the awesome trails at Schaeffer Farm. 

Saturday morning I ran into the second day of a two-day organized deer harvest. I considered riding anyway in my bright green jacket but figured if I got winged by one of those hunters I would not had a leg to stand on. Skunked. Off to Starbucks.
Sunday morning -
Closed due to trail conditions

Sunday morning I snuck out again. Early. This time the park was closed due to wet riding conditions. Skunked again. I considered riding the trails anyway, but the law-enforcement--per-capita down here is pretty high, so I thought better of it and rode some pole-line trails instead. Brutal on a single speed but hey, I was riding and it was on dirt.