Tuesday, February 24, 2009

grinding the tracks

Trails in the immediate vicinity of my house are non existent. But I do live about 500 feet to the left of some railroad tracks, and there was no way I could blow a beautiful day on a road ride. So I decided to grind the tracks.

From Tracks

(almost there)

Riding along the track's fist sized gravel is wonderfully painful. There is no good way to pedal on the stuff. Its to continuous to stay out of the saddle, but to rough to stay in the saddle. So it beats the hell out of the body.

From Tracks

(does it ever end?)

I had read on mtbr that there were a system of trails connecting my home town to a neighboring one about 11 miles away. My plan was to find the trails, and possibly use them to commute some mornings. The review said "...turn right, pick a trail, and welcome to Latrobe!" This was, as Id soon discover, grossly simplified.
The first step of the journey was to ride along the tracks for about four miles to Twin Lakes Park, where I would find the supposed trails.

From Tracks

(it freaks me out when a train goes by. they're really big.)

Eventually I found a side trail and took it. And suddenly I was covered in mud. The soil stuck like wet cat litter to my wheels, shoes, and back.

From Tracks

(i had to hike up this one. its a wee bit steep)

The trails I had turned on to were all of the ATV variety. It seems like an ATV trail should make a good MTB trial, but it doesn't. Quad riders live to spin they're tires as much as possible, and climb straight up the steepest hills they can. And why wouldn't they? Its no more work for them to go up than it is to go down. But all they're spinning translates as digging on the the "trail" which becomes more of a loose, muddy, trench than a path.
On the first big down hill I came to, I crashed. Hard. I hit a big rock on the way down, and bounced right into another big rock, then was deflected off of that rock into the ground.

From Tracks

I made sure to take a picture of the bike right after the crash. I have my priorities straight. Notice the direction of the stem. My hands were still attached when it twisted like that. I think I landed on the saddle with my quad, because it started throbbing. I proceeded to ride for three more hours on it.
The next climb was hard because my leg was hurting. But eventually the trails turned into some nice single track that ran back down to the rail line. After a few wrong turns I hit the summit of this hill.

From Tracks

Once a developer knocks down all those pesky trees that is going to be a lovely view.
I rode back down the trail, made some more wrong turns, then found another set of atv tracks. The PRIVATE PROPERTY, STAY OUT, and BEWARE OF DOG signs on the sides of the trail were starting to bother me a bit, but I know for a fact that I was not on private property. People in western PA are strangely protective of their land. And well armed.
I exited the woods in a Christmas tree farm and sat down to have some pb n' j.

From Tracks

(break time for the steed.)

The next section of trail was a blast.

From Tracks


Then at 2 1/2 hours I hit my destination. I turned back, and making all the right turns it only took me an hour to get home. In all it was a great ride.
30 minutes later I was off to work.
From Tracks

(maybe my butt was itchy)
And I still can't bend my leg. But it was worth it :D

Thursday, February 19, 2009

brand spakin new

I've been wondering for a goodly while how a 50mm stem would feel on the big carrot.
From Worthless Garbage

(the old stemski. 90mm. yuk.)

I searched and searched for a reasonably priced 25.4 stem that didn't weigh a ton. It was surprisingly hard to find. But I eventually came upon the Spank, in a lovely blue no less, and ordered it.

From Worthless Garbage

(much better. :D)

I must say that it looks really cool. So I'm estimating that I'll net about a 2-3mile per hour gain in overall speed.
I will be very interested to see how it affects the BK's handling. It does feel easier to pull the wheel up, but I won't be able to really tell until I can get onto a trail. I'll post some updates just as soon as that happens.
Tenderfoot approves.
From Worthless Garbage

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

marshmallow fields forever

The feeling of a tire almost rolling off a rim is a curious thing. It feels like the back of the bike turns into a trailer and swings out to the side. Or like the rear wheel just ran into a pit of marshmallows and lost traction.
I felt that twice today. Then I flatted. Again. I am soooo damn sick of tubes.
I rode most of the way to the lady bears house on about 5psi in a 26c tire. That says great things for Soma Everwears. They hold their shape really well without air (much better than say, a larson mimo). And the blue stripe on mine makes them extra fast. (when they do have air, of course.) The whole way I was riding gingerly, hoping that I wouldn't pull the rubber off my rim.
3/4 of the way to her house I remembered carry a Co2 inflator in my bag o' shit. Oi. I hate my forgetfulness sometimes.
After I gassed up the tire I was off again without and problemos. And it was a rather pleasant day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

cruising to victory: parte uno

I wrote once last week. I just didn't feel like it. So shoot me.
But now I feel like it, mostly because of the latest acquisition of the meaty meaty knob corporation.

From Worthless Garbage

Its a cruiser! and it has rust! everywhere! yay!
Did I mention its rusty? Because it is. I say it twice because I don't think the picture does the oxidization justice. But it was free, so I'll stop whining.
I'm actually really excited about this frame. Along with the above cruiser, the meaty meaty knob corp. also received a shipment of old and heavy parts. So everything I need to make this a smooth cruisin bike is ready to go.
The plan is to strip the frame down and repaint it, repack the bearings, and make everything nice and shinny (birds will try to steal it for nest material.)
From Worthless Garbage
Life after fenders.

Since I was so majorly excited, and lonely and bored, I did a preliminary build.
From Worthless Garbage

From Worthless Garbage

and its schweet. Almost every part of the bike is steel. It weighs close to 35 pounds. No brakes, no gears, and 35 pounds! Oi! Cheap steel is real, real heavy. But it cruises just fine. So I am pleased. Once I get it all finished it will be given away to a sibling of the lady bear for a birthday present.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hail to the cycle who coastith not

From Worthless Garbage

From knobby meats


Crazy good climbing!!

Today's ride made me a believer in the benefits of riding a fixed gear with a 30lb bag o' shit everyday.
The temperatures were great today in Western PA, so after some running scaffalaca and I went out for about 20 miles at a moderate pace. Scaffalaca is a good road racer and rides a carbon fiber Colnago. I ride a heavy ass steel, fixed, skinny tired mountain bike. And I was smoking him like a stoggie on every climb we hit.

At the bottom of every hill I heard a 'click' 'click' 'clicking' down the of his gears. He slowed down. Obviously, on the fixed gear I do not have that option. I have to stand and hammer and pray my knees don't explode. I sped up. And kept it up.

I won't discuss what happened on the downhills. (coasting is cheating.)

Riding fixed has definitely made me a great climber. It's really good stuff.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

a ride in the valley?

Its supposed to hit 50F this weekend. I am so stoked. The lady bear and I are planning on skiing Saturday, and hidden valley happens to have a ton of singletrack. I think I smell a ride on the big carrot :D
Oohhoho I really hope I can get I ride in. I haven't been able to mountain cycle for ages. Rest assured, the blog will be filled with pictures if I do get to cycle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

the world at large

It amazes me how things work themselves out. I'm beginning to find that if I'm patient, everything just falls into place.
I recently sold the dirtmobilis. The padre was convinced that we would be lucky if we could get someone to come drag it away, but I put it on craigslist and am now $1000 richer. If I would have been hasty and taken it to the scrap yard, I would be sitting on a whole lot of nothing.
We are in the process of trying to get rid of our B.A Van which is currently located at my old residence in the middle of no where. At my old residence, I had the pleasure of having one old jazzersizing, Subaru driving, lady as my neighbor. She has since died, and a new couple has moved into her house. As we pulled the battery out of the B.A Van, the new resident of the casa down the way trudged up the hill in deep snow to, as he so eloquently put it, "shoot the shit." We shot the shit until we were absolutely sure that it was dead, and it turns out he has a buddy who is in the market for a B.A Van. I'll have to go shit shooting with him real soon.
The lady bear and I have been on the lookout for an old beach cruiser to fix up for some time. I've been combing ebay and craigslist and finding some crazy prices. Today at work, a customer saw my bike sitting outside the coffee shop. He asked who's it was, I told him it was mine, and we started talking bike. He just so happens to have massive amounts of old frames and parts he wants to get rid of. One frame is a beach cruiser. Huzzah! Free bikes all around!
I'm excited. And right now, I'm feeling like the worlds a pretty lovely place.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ice cold dressing: commuting part 1

The cranial area:
From Worthless Garbage

The head region does more to regulate body temperature than any other area of the body. Getting the hat situation figured out is more important than a jacket, as important as a morning bowl of cereal.
On chilly days 40-20F I were the black hat of the right. Its a loosely knit viking cap that breathes nicely and works great on days I have to go pillaging. The sunglasses (natives) are enough to keep my eyeballs happy down to about 10F. However, they don't do a damn thing when the snow starts falling.
The red hat is a pollypoo blend of some sort. It does not let nearly as much wind in as the viking cap, and is much tighter. It keeps my head toasty enough in the negative Fahrenheit temperatures (-5F has been the coldest we've had this year in lovely Picksburgh.) I feel a little self conscious about wearing a red hat under a lime green helmet, but I really don't want to buy another hat. When the sky starts falling, there is no substitute for ski goggles. I really don't like to wear them because they're a pain with my helmet, but sometimes there is just no choice.
On the subject of helmets, I've had my Giro for something like 6 years and its sooo nice. I just love it to death. I don't have to much trouble getting a hat under it.
The final piece of head gear I swathe myself in in the cold is a neck warmer. It makes a huge difference in holding in body heat. At this point in the winter, when I'm used to the temperature, I can wear the warmer instead of a jacket. It makes that much difference.