Monday, December 31, 2007

Fred Shed

Many folks drove in from PA, DC, MD, and VA to the Shed for a nice Sunday ride. In all twelve travellers were greeted by a friendly local wielding some home-brewed oatmeal beverage.
It was a sub-four hour, 20 mile journey that featured a pretty even mix of climbing (3000 feet), descending, and flat sweeping terrain. The trail was occasionally interupted by great rock gardens, log-overs, and other technical features. A trail named Super-Sweet is now Super-Sweeter. A bunch of us headed into Historic Frederick to grab some food, drink, and check out my new office.
For many, it was their first riding experience in the Shed - hopefully not their last.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Touch of the Ultra-Violence

It was rainy this Sunday, Martin and I spun while watching 2007 Het Volk and then the Mark family put this together:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Franklin's Fun House

Thomas and Henry volunteered this past weekend at a "science of weather" show at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. Actually, Thomas volunteered and Henry followed him up onto the stage. The meterologist was demonstrating barometric pressure with two suction cups. He removed the air and had Thomas try to pull them apart - no go. Then he lifted Thomas up - no go. He was about to let the air out and show how easy it is to separate them that way when Henry pipes in "my turn". So he lifted Henry up too and then let him pull the cups apart. The guy was very entertaining and kept the kids interested by making snow, a hot air balloon, a tornado of fire, and the show-stopper: a huge cloud. Thomas answered so many questions that I was beginning to feel self-conscious - he even clarified a couple points for the meteorologist (that the earth/ground doesn't absorb as much heat in the winter as it does during the summer). The meteorologist tracked us down after the show to give the boys an extra snow shower and say thanks.Henry got to drive a race car, they played virtual soccer, visited Newton's workshop, made their own paper, and both of them went through the gigantic beating heart that the Institute is famous for. I can remember going through the heart when I was seven or eight - great fun.

The Rant: One of the things I like most about the Franklin Institute is its decidedly non-commercial atmosphere. For starters, it's FREE. They don't have corporate sponsors for every damn exhibit trying to hock their wares and their exhibits are not designed to move product in the gift shop. Too often these days you see "museums" that feature exhibits that are as much about science and education as "Dora the Explorer" is about language acquisition. They have some cute "tour guide" for the exhibit that is available as a plush toy in the gift shop and adorns the soda cups in the snack bar. Franklin is a breath of fresh air and Ben would be proud.

Philadelphia rarely disappoints and this trip was no exception, despite poor weather, there was plenty to do, easy parking, and the usual great food options. If you have kids or are a big kid yourself - you should check it out. If you are a cyclist don't miss Cadence in Manyunk - it is to cycling what Tiffany is to jewelry.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Connector Trail

Yesterday, with its overcast skies and occasional icy precipitation virtually screamed out "trail work day". A brief morning email exchange secured a couple of willing parties who rallied shortly thereafter at my house in order to carpool out to the forest. The goal was to dial in the top of Connector, do some maintenance on Abbey, and scout alternatives to the eroded fall-line section of lower Abigail. This is the section that goes down from the intersection to Long Pine Reservoir. Specifically, the fall-line section that used to have the water bars, but is now a gulley of increasingly poor soil conditions. You can tell it's bad because of the sand bar forming at the bottom right hand turn. It is in dire need of a couple of switchbacks with coweeta dips to replace the water bar section. Martin removing a Michaux punji stick. Leaving just a sweet line and nice log to ride over. It was in the upper twenties, but you hardly noticed. Little know fact: Larry uses poultry shears to mow his lawn. When the trail is cleared it sure looks good - can't wait to ride it.We think we found some alternatives for the short eroded section of Abbey, but since it is blazed trail, we want to run it by DCNR before cutting in a switchback or two.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New red sled

Following the collapse of my On-One frame, I purchased a used GF Paragon and built a rigid 1X9 29'er with all the parts in my dining room.

Monday, November 26, 2007

1997 Tour de France

This is racing at its finest.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Morning Services

The Chambersburg contingent sans cupcakes rallied at the Mark house to chase Larry's good isobars South - way South to Buzzard Rock's in Virginia to be precise (click church photo to enlarge). Martin had mysteriously lost his spacers so we had a little tweaking, the hammer and large screwdriver type tweaking. It was cold and misty in Chambersburg as we left.
As we crossed from Pennsylvania to Maryland the rain picked up and in West Virginia it was overcast and threatening more precipitation.
Virginia featured some dismal gray skies and more rain. I was thinking that trailwork at Raystown Lake was the good option for the day and that we had possibly made a mistake. But, Larry had read the isobars and I only the icons. As we turned off I-81 the rain stopped, the skies opened, and the sun began to peek through.
Services began at 10:15 on dry pavement and crunchy leaves.
We climbed and hiked.
3 miles (1 hour) up to the saddle where we turned onto the Buzzard Rock trail. Which we rode out to a very nice vista through challenging rocky technical sections.This is the domain of the fully rigid SS 29'er.Fort Valley - North

Fort Valley - South Fort Valley - DownBuzzard Rock's features tight ledges, ups and downs, on a skinny ridgeline with a high penalty for failure and magnificent overlooks.A vista.
A move.
We rode this fine trail out the Massanutten East side and hit the hard road for a few miles to our second major climb of the day. About a half an hour into this gem I got a call from my sister Daphne. Since I was hiking with my bike on my shoulder anyway, we worked out some Thanksgiving holiday plans and she said that it was cold and sleeting in State College. So that Raystown trail day was definitely not the way to go - kudos to Larry and his isobars.

We rallied at the top for another nice technical ridge ride. This one had less exposure but some nasty little ledge drops and numerous skinny stone staircases. On one particularly nasty one, as he was walking down, Martin says "that's rideable". Ok, snap, highside save, and creak - then this:A double whammy - the carbon fork was unscathed, but I was officially hiking from here on out (about 3 miles downhill). After about 20 minutes both tubes broke clear through and I had to carry it on my head and shoulders.I purchased the frame on August 27th so it doesn't even have three months of use yet. Time to see how On-One's warranty program and customer service rate. We grabbed some Mexican food in Strasburg and headed North to PA and back into the rain.

Despite the frame failure, this was a great service - a five hour one. I highly recommend reading Isobars chapter 3, verse 7 or attending a service with Pastor Camp soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Sometimes you just know it's gonna be a good ride.

Even from the gut pile.

And it was - michaux stylie.
das route: middle narrows to lee's rocks to heaven or hell to lower narrows to black andes to oak/shelf to sawmill (recently clear cut) bail to oak road to gas line (hike-a-bike) to deer bone to sand road to hermit to charcoal hearth (lower hermit) to buckets to black andes to lower tv/cable line (short) to lower wayne's trail to turtle (up) to 4 logs (up&ouch) to firetower to crumble to the gut pile to the fat dogs and to the sea hags.

somehow if lee had taken care of saddham the first time around this ride might have been easier. there was snow, safety, big logs, and no mechanicals.

much planning was afoot regarding the buzzard rocks ride next weekend and something about "man camp"?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fight on State!

Another fine fall trip to State College: dinner at Boxer's, a minor plumbing job at the Suchanec's, ride, tailgate, PSU-vs-Ohio State game, sleep, ride, meet with our tenants and inspect our rental properties. After sweating some water pipe at my sister's house, HO and I were treated to suprisingly good weather and decided to take advantage of it before the tailgate. We jetted out to Tussey Mt. and rode some new-to-me stuff near Shingletown Gap. I renamed the trail Cagney & Lacey, due to its healthy blend of beautiful and nasty sections. Back to the Suchanec's for a quick shower and we rode the bike trail to their tailgate.
Our hosts: Daph & Mark.
Charlie perusing the chips and chocolate section.
Eric taking a break from stirring the big pot of chili. My niece, Hayden, and I as game time nears.
Beaver Stadium on our way in.
Our seats at the game.

Long story short OSU is good, we played very poorly, and lost, the fans, the stadium, the tailgate were all incredible. This was the second largest attendance in PSU football history - something that was cool to be part of. I was able to ride back to my sister's house on the bike path and avoid an otherwise 45 minute, 2 mile drive. This is HO and Otto's Jolly Roger Imperial Stout a 10%'er available in 22oz bottles. It is much better (and stronger) than their reasonably good Black MO Stout. CAUTION: Tis much better to drink AFTER a ride.

Sunday morning we had waffles, coffee, bacon, and sausage and then I met HO, Frank, and Rodney at Black Moshannon. Black Mo was riding great and this was one of the finest rides I have ever had there! Frank was on a 69'er, HO a dulie-geared 29'er, Rodney a big-travel 26'er and I had my SS rigid 29'er - we laughed, and blocked HO's lines the whole time.

Fall riding at Black Mo is a Pennsylvania standard - much like Penn State football.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Rothrock in Autumn

The Mark Family enjoyed an amazing fall weekend in State College, PA. What started as a mt. bike weekend turned into a very nice family weekend. Martin Kell, our neighbor from Chambersburg, joined us for the trip. We drove to State College early Friday evening and had a nice dinner at Kelly's Steak & Seafood in Boalsburg with the Muckers and Aaron Hofelt. My sister, Daphne, kindly let us all stay at her house for the weekend. She and her husband, Mark, have three boys Eric, Matt, and Charlie so Thomas and Henry were happy to have kids to play with. Eric and Matt were playing in a football game Saturday; Eric had a soccer match on Sunday as well.Saturday morning we awoke to coffee, bacon, waffles, and fruit. After a quick breakfast, we headed out to the Tussey Mt. ride start (with a stop at Starbucks, of course). We had Mike & Brenda Mucker, Martin Kell, Aaron Hofelt, Eric Lensig (SP?), Kevin Bergman, Aaron Pontzer, John (LHORBA), Mike Steininger, and me (10 total).Aaron and Kevin put together a nice collection of Tussey classics including the uncleanable John Wert Path, the fearsome Wildcat, and the always beautiful Tussey Ridge and Croyle Trails. HO actually rode the big rock garden on Wert clean, but failed to get the entire trail - I mean PATH.
We logged 30 Rothrock miles on day one.
Including this nice log/rock bridge at the end of the extension - many of us rode it.
After test riding my singlespeed 29'er in Michaux, I realized that while the Mary bars it came with were fantastic for level singletrack and mild hills, they totally blew for long downhills where you had to stay on the brakes. A quick visit to Mt. Nittany Wheelworks and a discussion with avid singlespeeder, Harry, led to my swapping the Mary bars for a set of Easton XC70 monkey bars. The new bike:
Saturday evening we had a nice dinner with the Suchanec family, and my brother Nabil at Beula's B-B-Q in downtown State College then retired to Otto's for a very nice high octane Stout.
Some of my good friends were there: (Frank told me this means hello in State Collegese)
Sunday morning I awoke to my nephew Eric who said that my friends (Mike) thought we should get moving. Mike was concerned about making the 10am ride start. It was 8am! Michele and I were just wrestling with Henry anyway, so I got up and moving. Plans changed several times, but we finally got under way (with a stop at Starbucks, of course). This stop had Mike convinced that we were running late and that we should call the others. I was still positive that were would make it on time and held out (I had told everyone to expect me at 10:05 anyway). Long story short, we made it to the Tussey lot at 10:01. In my own discreet way, I tried to let Mike know that the stress and worry about being late for the last two hours was entirely unnecessary - he was a good sport. We rallied and drove a convoy of bikers over to the shale pit. At the shale pit we were greeted with some hunter types (no hunting on Sundays in PA) who were sighting in their high-powered rifles across the shale pit and over top of the parked cars. I trusted that they were good shots and parked - they kindly ceased firing until we left the area.

At this ride start in addition to Mike, Brenda, Martin, Aaron, myself, HO, Eric, Kevin, we were joined by Nabil, Don Andrews (saw him at Otto's), and the Perry County boys: Ray, Brian, Larry, and Keith (14). This would be my first long ride on the fully rigid SS 29'er.
Almost immediately out of the parking area, I took a wrong turn and climbed up Brush Ridge solo only to reconnect with the group near the deer fence. We then proceeded over to the Cooper's Gap area and rode (not in this order) Cranberry Ridge, Deer Tick, Shittaka, Chestnut Springs, Lingle, Brush Ridge (down), and much more.
Nabil shot some video:

Including shots of Martin and I returning from completely unsuccessful attempts at climbing the ridiculously steep shale pit. A couple of really nice rides in Rothrock in perfect weather with a great bunch of folks.