Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Dirt Ride

Easter weekend and we have a full schedule.  Fortunately I planned ahead and had my bike and gear ready to go for a trip to Mohican between a soccer game and birthday party.

Ready and waiting. 

There were a good number of cars in the parking lot.  I'm guessing there were more than a few Mohican 100 racers out on training rides.  The weather was just perfect, 55 degrees and sunny, as I rolled out.

I was not certain how much I was going to ride today, but I did a better job of packing food for this ride than the last.  About five miles in a downed a GU and was feeling good vibes about going for a full lap.  My handling seemed to be on today and I was enjoying front suspension.  The gears were nice too.

Coming up to the covered bridge I met two fisherman who looked to be having a good day.  I stopped and chatted for a couple minutes as I admired their catch.

Easter dinner?

After adding some more food to the tank I started up the climb and continued to feel good.  I reached the second trailhead and was excited to see the trail ahead was open.  At this point I figured I would ride down to mile 19 and see how I felt.

 Feeling good in the pine forest.

At 19 I crossed the road and stopped for my last bit of food.  May as well keep it going now.  Within a mile I was slowing down and felt some pending leg cramps.  After a little bit of slower riding I seemed to recover and felt a good push to the finish.

It was a much better ride than my last one at Mohican and I really enjoyed the day.  It was a nice time out in God's creation the day before celebrating our risen saviour!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rays Indoor Bike Park

For all the acclaim and the close proximity, I've never been to Ray's Indoor Bike Park until today.  Ryan and I loaded up and drove north for an afternoon of fun.  We had planned to go since new years but never made it until now.  The park closes for the season end of April, so sunny day or not we were going to ride inside.

First time to throw two bikes in the hatch.
All good with a couple blankets.

Ryan had been to Rays before which came in handy right away in finding the place.  Its in an old parachute factory in a rundown industrial park.  The entrance is not very noteworthy.

The front door.

Inside is a mountain bike and BMX playground.  I've seen many pictures and videos over the years but it was quite impressive to walk into.  The place is really sprawling and woven into the factory structure.

Ready to ride.

Rays is divided up into different areas with a cross country trail connecting it all together.  We had fun in nearly every area.

Rolling some logs.

I was amused to ride the perimeter and take different options with each pass.  It took a couple hours to really understand how all the separate rooms and area connected together.  A wrong turn just led to more fun.

 Up in the rafters.

Several places ramped up into the ceiling structure.  An incredible amount of work went into building this place.

Bike park.

We spend some time in the bike park, it's own dedicated room.  Certainly more geared for BMX bikes but we had fun on our 29ers.  This was the case throughout, most other riders there today were on BMX bikes.

Ryan navigates.

The pump track was a lot of fun.  I went around for at least a dozen laps and was amused all the way.  It was easier than I expected to get out of breath working the bike and features.

Ryan rolls a rock drop.

The sport section was a main spot for us.  There were many entertaining and challenging options to go from one side to the other.

Sport section choices.

We were there for about four hours.  Every hour and half or so we were back to the lounge for food and drink.  It's a cool place to hangout and watch the action on the Red Bull expert section.

Good times at Rays!

It was difficult to know when to be done, but hunger for dinner helped us call it a day.  We stopped at the Brew Kettle in Middlesburg Heights on the way back and had a good dinner.  It was a fun day riding bikes inside a building!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tough at Mohican

Sunny and nearly 60 degrees.  The weather was nice but will the trail be dry?  I headed to Mohican to find out.

Plenty of brown leaves on the ground.

In the first 5 miles there were a couple wet puddles to be found but it was overall pretty good.  The woods felt more like fall than spring.  Lots of brown and not much green.

Spring has not yet sprung.

There were a few other cars in the parking lot with bike racks but the only people I encountered on the trail were runners.  Arriving at the covered bridge there were lots of parked cars and people hiking about.  It was a nice afternoon to be outside.

As I started up the Mt. Doom climb I realized it was going to be a challenge on the single speed.  Seems I should have packed some food to go with my water.  I kept it going the whole way but had some slow speed, low cadence pedal grinding along the way.  I was glad to make it around all the switchbacks without stalling.

Trailhead B.

At the second trail head I reached the closed section of trail and rode out to SR97.  I probably would have been wise to take the road back to the parking lot and been satisfied for the day, but I turned up the park road and got back on the trail at mile 19.

Good thing for glasses or this would've
been a direct pupil shot of mud!

The next four miles were tough.  I was pretty worn down and without energy; I might even call it a mini bonk.  Why didn't I bring food?  Not sure.  Oh well, it was still a good roll through the woods.  The rigid singlespeed mostly kicked my butt.  I was probably not riding very efficient either, as my handling skills seemed to be absent today.  I limited the damage and arrived back to the car glad for the ride!

Worn out legs!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

To Munson and Back

Tonight was supposed to be the first club ride of the year.  That is after last week's first club ride of the year was cancelled.  Well, tonight's was cancelled too.  I guess it was too cold for some.  My gear was loaded in the car and I was ready to ride.  So, I came home from work and headed out.  I did swap bikes and headed, once again, to the swamps.

Really loving this bike.

Perhaps it's a good time to state: the Black Mountain Cycles Mostercross has really been performing well.  The past couple months of riding this bike have been a lot of fun.  The feel of steel is great when bouncing across dirt and gravel. It's great on the road too.  Yes, there's a weight penalty and I feel it from time to time, but these rides are not about max speed and there's nobody to keep up with.

The brakes are fantastic.  What a difference the KoolStop pads have made on these Tektro CR720 cantis.  The crown mount brake hanger probably contributes to chatter free braking compared to my last setup.  I guess it's possible this hanger is not needed, but I don't really see a penalty for having it.

Prime riding surface for this bike.

Today I basically did the reverse of last week's swamp ride.  I rode down to County Line Road and climbed up Harrison to Munson Rd.  After an unfriendly dog encounter when I turned on Munson Road, I met a couple out for a walk and enjoyed meeting them and hearing about their diversity farming research.  I realized the sun was going down fast and said goodbye to get moving.

On the way out, when the sun was already getting down.

The temperature was dropping with the sun and I put in a steady effort to stay warm and get home before dark.  It was an energetic end to the ride.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cold with Good Company

We made plans earlier in the week; Sunday afternoon was open for Ryan and I to get out on a ride.  After church we came home for lunch and talked about how windy and cold it was outside.  But, we made plans to ride so let's ride!

Balaclava time for Ryan!

Down into the swamps we pedaled our cross bikes until the road gave out.  Too much water and not worth the chance of a wet, cold foot early in the ride.  Engage u-turn and detour.

Longhorns.

The change in route took us by a farm and introduced us to some cool longhorn cattle.  They didn't seem to mind the cold and were curious to see us.  Shortly we got back on track and rode into the swamps again.

Tundra swans in the distance.

We rode out on the end of Force Road to have a look around.  It was a cold, overcast day for sure.  The migratory birds were starting to appear.  We spotted a large flock of Tundra swans to the north.

Icy puddles ahead.

The feeling of cold was mostly gone and we enjoyed being out and about the dirty roads.  We left the swamps and pedaled some road to make our return.  It was a good time and I'm glad we were undeterred by the temperature.




Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mohican Plan B... again

With enthusiasm for a trail ride I loaded up and drove down to Mohican.  It was a couple weeks ago that Ryan and I tried this and were sent to the road instead of trail due to the snow depth.  The snow is mostly melted in yards and it seems the trail should be rideable... only one way to find out.

 I thought it was going to be a trail ride.

The parking lot at the main trail head was still snow covered as pulled in and unloaded my bike.  I rode to the trail head and started up the opening climb.  The woods were mostly clear of snow, depending on the shadows, but another problem presented itself.  The trail was ice lined.  It seemed the melting snow ran down the hillside, collected on the trail, and froze.  After a half mile or so I pulled the plug.  Too much slipping around for me.

The downs are ups this time.

Out to the road.  I decided to ride the same route Ryan and I had done a couple weeks ago, but I this time I rode it in reverse.  Once again, there were some good little climbs, especially on the singlespeed.

Somewhere along the way I started to get cold.  It seems my glove choice was not appropriate for the windy roads.  My hands were as cold as they have ever been on a bike ride.  On the stretch from Landoll's castle back to the car I was alternating hands under my jacket front to keep them warm.  Not very pleasant at all but I made it work.

Back to the car I enjoyed some shelter, heat, and food!



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pickle Biker

Me: "Hey Daniel, that looks good!  Who are all those bikers?"
DNL: "There's you and mommy and me and Ellen. We are climbing a hill."
Me: "What's that roundy thing?"
DNL: "That's a pickle riding a bike."
ME: "Why?"
DNL: "I just thought it would be funny to see a pickle riding a bike!"


Pickles like to ride bikes too.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Biking: Cold or Not

Everyone else is still cooped up inside, but we're outside and having fun on our bikes!

Ellen rides among the fallen snowmen. 

Daniel passes by the snow mound.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Snow Melt

Wow, what a difference a week makes. Clear roads, except for cinders and pot holes of which there were plenty, with very little snow in the landscape.  It was 41 degrees when I rolled out.  The trails are certainly in no shape for riding, so the road it is.

Under a US30 overpass.

Very aware the low lying areas likely have flooded and closed roads, I stuck to the high ground.  I did get a good look at the Funk bottoms from Elyria Road and there was not as much standing water as I had imagined.

It was a nice ride in the sun.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mohican Snow - plan B

Ryan and I went down to Mohican in hopes of some trail riding.  The roads were clear on the way down, but we have 8 to 10" in the yards.  We were hoping for some tracks to follow on the trail, but I got a bad feeling when we pulled in the parking lot.  First, we didn't park in the MTB parking lot as it had never been plowed.  Second, there were a couple guys on mountain bikes riding in circles in the lot but not heading to the trail head.  Eventually they headed out on the road.  Not a good sign.

We got out of the car and realized there were no tracks in the snow heading into the woods from the parking lot.  Was it even rideable?  We gave it a try, which the other guys apparently did not, and our progress was measured in feet.  This is no good.  After a few minutes of playing around we realized it was going to be a road ride, on mountain bikes.

Cinders on back roads.

Not having planned a route, we headed for Landoll's castle.  It quickly became clear it was a good thing we were on mountain bikes.  These roads would not have been fun or even safe on a cross bike.  There was a good layer of crunched snow.

Not much clear pavement.

It was in the 20's but staying warm was not a problem.  There was some windy beat downs from time to time, depending on which way we headed and how many trees were around.  We got in several good climbs that had me standing on the singlespeed to keep her going.  It was a good workout and felt like a longer ride than it was.  Not bad for a plan B!

Windy in the open!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A little warmer

After church we ate lunch and I set out to meet Ryan on the road.  I realized I had left about 15 minutes earlier than we planned, so I made a little detour to get in some off pavement riding.

The light was working well for this picture!

We met on Messner Road and headed south to Fredericksburg.  It was in the upper 30's and frequently overcast but it still felt cold.

Nice row tunnels.  Green stuff growing inside.

After a good climb out of Fredericksburg on Harrison we rode north and split off.  I felt particularly cold on the ride back home.  Must have been the headwind.

Wow, that's a trash filled jam at a bridge.

Left turn.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First 2014 Ride

Our schedules finally matched, allowing Ryan and I to get out for a ride.  We rode into the swamps but were blocked passage across Valley due to streams flowing across the road.  It didn't seem like a good idea to risk wet feet in the cold weather.

 Back tracking on Valley.

After an out and around we were back in the swamps.  We climbed Clark and circle around before getting some more snow covered gravel roads.  While discussing the virtues of Kool Stop brake pads I drifted into some thicker snow and lost my front wheel.  It was a pretty quick bounce to the ground on my left side before jumping back up and remounting.  Maybe more concentration is in order on such surfaces.

Overcast, snowy landscape, but not too cold.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Breaking Trail to Close 2013

It's the final day of the year, and I really want to go for one last 2013 ride.  The weather is not cooperating.  It's 20 degrees, 20mph wind, snowy, and a "feels like" of 6.

I pile on my warmest layers, adding an extra upper layer and a balaclava.  Wow, I haven't busted out the full face coverage in a while.  At the least I'm going to Mohican for a short loop.

Loaded up.

It's cold in the parking lot as I pull down my bike and put on overboats.  I really should have gotten fully dressed at home instead of in the parking lot.  I'm cold as I jump on the bike and start to pedal.  The first mile should warm me up.

There were no other cars in the parking lot and I'm making the only set of tracks on the snow covered trail.  By mile 1 my core is warm and by mile 2 my hands and feet are too.  Hey, this is fun!  The snow is providing some excellent traction.

Making tracks.

The wind is not as cutting in the woods.  I enjoy the sound of snow crunching under my tires.  Several miles in I look up and swear I see a rider pass.  Weird, how is someone ahead of me?  Maybe he's off trail?  There's no other tracks out here.  Snow mirage?

No problems staying warm.  My glasses are fogging from time to time and I pull the face mask under my chin.  The air is cold to breathe.  It feels better with the mask over my mouth.

I stop to take a picture and hear a rider coming behind me.  I figure out he was the mirage and was behind me on a twisty section of trail when I saw him earlier.  He complains of cold feet as I invite him to ride ahead as I take a picture.

Rare sun on this ride.

About six miles in I turn 180 to back track.  The trail is new on the way back.  I enjoy seeing our tracks in the snow and monitor how often the other guy took a different line than me, not often.  I'm also amused by how often I take a different line in the reverse direction, sometimes.

I pass another rider on the way back.  He is in better spirits and having fun.  Maybe it's the Stairway to Heaven blasting from his Camelbak.  I do not understand why someone wants to ride in the woods and blare music.  I like the sounds of the outside.  I can listen to music anywhere but only the outside... outside.

Almost back to the car.

A truck is pulling into the parking lot as I ride in.  It's some Soupcan guys.  We chat for a bit as they get dressed, in the warm truck, and I get cold standing.  I rack my bike and hop in the front seat to drink some hot coffee I packed in the Coleman thermos.  Oh how good it tastes.  Two steamy cups chase a Pro bar that Santa put in my stocking.  

I'm glad I came down for a ride despite the weather. It's a nice end to 2013!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2014!

The skies are sunny the day after Christmas and a 20mph wind from the west is persistent as I head out on a ride.  The plan was to ride into the wind for an hour turn south and ride back.

The wind is relentless and blurs my senses.  My head is cold, presumably from persipiration evaporating away and taking heat with it.  I'm glad to turn south and really glad to put my back to the wind and ride east.  It's nearly silent as I pedal along matching my speed to the wind.  Tired.  It was a fairly short ride but felt longer, particularly on the way out.

No snow for now.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Last of November

The turkey and stuffing are well digested and this afternoon was time to get out for a ride.  On my last, and first ride, with the Black Mountain Cycles bike I thought the handlebars were a touch high.  Today I lowered the handlebars 15mm before heading out.  I also strapped a super blinky to the seatpost.

Not a crash, just testing the ice. 

It was nearly 40 degrees when I left the house.  The sun was quickly dropping in the sky and I had a feeling the temperature was about to follow.  It's been below freezing the past couple days and when I got down to the swamps I found an icy landscape.

A setting sun. 

There were several hunters parked down in the wildlife area.  I passed by a father and son headed for the woods.  "Have a good hunt!" I yelled.  "We're gonna' try!" the father yelled back.  Before dusk I left the swamps, climbing Clark Road to the east.  As the sun began to set I heard end of day gunshots from the woods.

After climbing south on James Road I reached Harrison and turned west.  A couple rollers kept me warm.  The air temperature was dropping and the sun was about gone for the day.  I stopped alongside the road for what I thought would be one last picture.

Sunset from the county line.

Coming around an uphill bend on County Line Road I looked up to see a flock of birds flying over in formation.  "That would make a good picture" I thought as I ripped my glove off my hand with my teeth to retrieve the camera from my pocket.  I got my picture and returned the camera to my pocket.  The hill didn't allow me to put my glove back on as I needed to tend to stand up pedaling.  My hand was frozen by the time I did get my glove back on and it took a mile to warm up again.

Formation flying. 

About this time I realized it was smart to have put the blinky light on the back, but I was about to need a headlight up front.  The shortest route home was back through the gravel in the swamps, no need to twist my arm for this option.  I had to drop my lightly tinted glasses to my nose and look over top the lenses to see where I was going.  A pothole caught me by surprise and I nearly lost the handlebars from my grip but kept hold.  Then, a couple miles of road and I was home, ready to stand in front of the wood stove.

Dark came fast.