Friday, May 10, 2013

Moving out

This blog space had a pretty good run, but I've let it fizzle out in the last few months. I just finished up with all that silly college shit, so it seemed like a good time to start a new site, which I've been thinking about doing for a while anyway.

I switched everything over to Wordpress, so now the Google doesn't own everything I write.

Anyway, here it is. More of the same and more. If you have Knobby Meats in a link list on your blog, it'd be swell if you could update it to The Skrumble. 

See you on the other side of the internet.


Friday, February 15, 2013

I bring the cookies

I'm interning at Dirt Rag Mag right now. It's pretty neat, and I'm writing lots of stuff.

Pulp Stiction is my weekly web column, and so far I have two posts up. They're more of the same kind of thing that I write on here. We'll eventually set a regular day for the posts.

Pulp Stiction: A snowbound adventure staring Sixpoint Resin and raw potatoes

On my first day in the office, I set up Karen's fat test bike tires tubeless. Which made me a little nervous, because the tires fit the rims really loosely, and I was afraid that they would roll off the first time she rode it. Injuring an editor on the first day of an internship isn't usually a good choice. 

But so far so good. And I got to pose for creepy out of focus face shots:

I'm working on some print articles now, and I'll have another web column up next week. It's sweet to be writing about bikes in a semi-professional capacity.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Up the mountain and down the tracks

Last Sunday, Cider Bloch and Chrissy met me in the Pyle for a long fat bike ride.

Actually, I guess I should preface this by saying that I'm riding a fat bike now. It's cool. Really cool. Possibly the best bike related purchase since my first mountain bike. More on that later.

fat bike

We head out of town, and start the long climb out of the valley. Since Ohiopyle is at the bottom of the deepest gorge in Pennsylvania, some of the biggest climbs in the area are around here. Chrissy has the heaviest bike of the three of us, and looks like she's feeling it.

"How far is this thing?" she says.

"Probably only another six miles to the top," I say. Groans all around.

The road eventually mellows out. Pass some hardscrabble houses, with yards full of sharp rocks and tired horses. A little beagle puppy runs out of a house and tries to sound tough. We laugh at him.

At the next house, we're charged by two fat muts, and a huge rottweiler. Don't laugh at them. They run onto the road, and the littlest and fattest charges Cinder Bloch. Nips the back of his leg.

"You little shit!" Cinder Bloch yells, and sprays water from his bottle. The dog yelps, turns, and runs into the other chubby dog.

After a while, we hit the first top. Drop back down a couple hundred feet, then back up some more. Past a cemetery where cows have their faces in a rusty hay bin. I pull out my phone to check the GPS. Only a little more climbing till we hit the trail. Finally, the top of Maple Summit.

"There's some sled tracks," I say, pointing to a chewed up piece of snowy road.

We turn onto the snowmobile trail. The snow is super slippy, and starting to melt. Cinder Bloch crashes into a snow bank. I laugh at him, then my tires slide out. Nuts. I'm laying on the road.

Drop tire pressure, drop it some more. Then more, till I can squish the big tire to the rim with my finger. Then I can ride. Sweet.

The suns starting to set, and we should probably figure out how to get back. I check the map. Looks like there's a pipeline that drops back down to the river.

"Looks like it gets a little steep," I say. The contour lines are scrunched tight together on the topo.

Cinder Bloch photo
 I start ripping down the pipeline, then the snowmobile tracks stop.

Fresh tracks
Cinder Bloch photo

Oh shit. I slide my bike sideways, and lay into the snow. The pipeline drops straight down the ridge. And the ridge is really steep.

Cinder Bloch and Chrissy roll up, and we stand looking down the drop.

"Well this'll be something," I say. Click into my pedals, and let off the front brake. I pick up speed, get way behind the saddle. Jesus this is steep. My back tire slides out, the bike goes sideways, but I stay on it. Snow sprays. The brakes heat up and start to scream.

Just don't hit a tree. Stay up. I crash through a pile of sticks, jagger bushes, and more undergrowth. Then I'm at the bottom. My leg twitches a little. Roll down the last drop to the rail road tracks.

I sit down there for a while, waiting. Nobody comes. I yell up the hill. No answer. Damn. I guess I better get my bike and start back up.

Then Cinder Bloch appears. Chrissy a little later. No broken anythings. Excellent.

We jump onto the railroad tracks, and start rolling back into town. One evacuation to let a train rumble by, and a few jarring miles later, and we're back. We go to the pub.

Riding tracks on fat bike

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Riding snowmobile trails on the mountain

On New Year's Eve, Cinder Bloch, Chrissy, Colleen and I headed up to the mountain to ride some snowmobile trails.

While we were driving up, I wondered if Cinder Bloch would be able to get his little Golf into the snowy parking lot. A minute later, my phone started ringing.

"Hey, you have four wheel drive right?"

The entrance to the lot is downhill, so he didn't have any trouble getting in:
Colleen's photo
After the crusty Park Service guy helped me push, and gave Cinder Bloch a lecture about the importance of using real snow tires instead of all-seasons, he got back in his plow truck and told me to move the Danger Ranger out of his way. I did. Then we assembled our bikes and hit the snowy trail.
Also Colleen's photo
Cinder Bloch and Chrissy were both on fat bikes, while Colleen and I were on our 29ers.
Colleen's photo, not Colleen's fat bikes
I figured that if we stayed on the packed snowmobile stuff, Colleen and I would be mostly ok. I was mostly right.

We pedaled up Fire Tower Road, then dropped down into some snowmobile stuff. The snowmobilists had left a bunch of rollers on the trail from twisting the throttle. I giggled a little while we ripped down the snowy pump track.

Unfortunately, after almost 2000 feet of descending, we had to go back up. That's where things got less fun on a normal bike. Cinder Bloch and Chrissy spun their beasts up the hills easily. With her low gears, Colleen could still get up most stuff.

On my single speed, I had trouble. Which made everyone else very happy:
Intentionally resting. Photo stolen from Cinder Bloch
We rode down and down some more, then popped out on some frozen pavement at the bottom of the mountain. At which point we realized that we were lost:
Of course I know where we are. I have a map.
Then I remembered that I had a magic phone with the GPS technologies. I consulted it, pinpointed our location, then led the group in the wrong direction. We ended up on County Line Road, which was full of dickheads going to the ski resort. People passed fast and spayed salt far. Since I had been letting air out of my tires to try to get traction all day, I probably had about 5 psi at that point. It made the pavement feel like peanut butter.

We finally made it back to the snowmobile road that went towards the cars. But it was a long climb back, and the snow was starting to soften up. By the second pitch, everyone but Cinder Bloch was pushing:
A long walk. Cinder Bloch photo
After almost an hour of pushing our bikes, we hit the summit. The wind was blowing so hard up Rt. 31 that I struggled to pedal down the hill to Fire Tower. My fingers started to tingle and my face burnt. A few seconds later I made the turn back to the truck.

The ride was a sweet way to end the year. Since the conditions were good, our standard mountain bikes were fine about 75 percent of the time.

To eliminate the times that they sucked, I've got a new project going:
Does not involve handlebar mounted coffee cups.