Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur. Coffeeneur.
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monkey Butt Monday

8/29/11 #228


Recently at a bike-trail media event, I had the opportunity to discuss distance cycling with local reporter Brenda Waters. She told us her story of riding in a long-distance charity ride and experiencing a discomfort that the other riders explained was called "monkey butt".

I had never heard of Monkey Butt, and discredited the story as somebody pulling her leg. Who ever heard of Monkey Butt? I never did. Until today.




My left knee is problematic, my friends with knee-experience tell me it's probably overuse and insufficient stretching, which seems likely because I have been using it a lot, and I haven't stretched in at least 15 years.

The timing is unfortunate, since I hope to go on a long ride with my riding buds next week. So I am elevating, icing, and hoping, and passing the time by surfing bike blogs.


We are always eager to read Urban Velo's blog, since they are (1) credible, (2) informative, and (3) Burgh-based. Their blog post today is about a commercial product for bike commuters called Safari Towels, and it opens with the best opening sentence seen in many years:
"From the minds that brought you Anti Monkey Butt Powder comes Safari Towels".


The website, AntiMonkeyButt.com, uses lighthearted graphics and a euphemistic style to sell a powdery, prophylactic treatment to prevent Monkey Butt.



In recent years, the product line has expanded to include Lady Anti-Monkey-Butt Powder (for the distaff riders), and Baby Anti-Monkey-Butt Powder (for the surrogate children of cyclists).

Faced with the obvious use of the term "monkey butt", and wondering what the received body of knowledge is on the topic, we resorted to Googling the term, an act not to be taken lightly (or at work). The Urban Dictionary reports that monkeybutt describes a chafing irritation in the areas generally covered by bike shorts. Fortunately, AntiMonkeyButt.com provides a brief video explanation of the term:












We extend to the lovely (and well-informed) Brenda Waters our sincere apology.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Danny MacAskill aka Danny Megaskill

No riding, no mileage to report; plans coalescing for a long ride next week.

From Danny MacAskill, (web), aka Danny MegaSkill:



(filming-of article).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Short Saturday

8/27/11 #225 12 miles



Rode short today because of a swirl of activity, and it may be that a relative rest day could be a good thing, too. I rode 12 miles on the road, my "short winter ride". It's got two good hills and a bit of variety, and among my rides it is unusual in that I don't drive to the ride, I step out my door and ride.


8/27/11
Week 33
this week:
203 miles
[3rd quarter: 1294 miles]   
2011: 3029 miles

Friday, August 26, 2011

It Takes a Posse: 3000 miles in 2011

8/26/11 #225
Rode 36 miles with R and M, from the Manchester Bastille to Millvale, breakfast at Pamela's, 31st Street Bridge, Strip Trail, Mon Whorf Trail, Jail Trail, Panther Hollow Trail, Fifth, Wilkins, Shady, Forbes (ProBikes and Starbucks), Braddock, Hutchinson, Lancaster, Nine Mile Run Trail, Duck Hollow Trail, Second Avenue, Hot Metal Bridge, Southside Trail, Station Square Trail, Ft. Pitt Bridge, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, back to the Manchester Bastille (aka Western Penitentiary, dba SCI Pittsburgh).

Yesterday my legs were complaining, and I did my best at telling them, "shut up legs!". Today they felt better, and I felt better - it may have been Pamela's coffee and strawberry crepes.


We stopped at ProBike in Squirrel Hill to look at all the bicycle glory. Today's Noted Innovation was on a Globe bike, which is a Specialized in-house brand. This bike was a Globe Live-3, and I'm not sure how that's pronounced (verb or adjective?).

It's a beautiful heavy bike, integral frame, belt drive, internal Shimano 8-speed. It had a spring between the rear of the front fork and the down tube, which tends to keep the heavy front wheel from getting all "jiggy wit it" and swinging too wildly during locking, parking etc. I decided it was called a "wheel dampener", but apparently it's called a wheel stabilizer.



I did have a truck attempt a "right-hook" manuever on Second Avenue, but I sort of saw it coming (I had certainly ridden myself into this posture) and it was uneventful.

It was a beautiful day for a ride, much nicer than you could reasonably expect from August.




It takes a posse. Someplace in the middle of the ride I crossed 3000 miles so far this year. I really appreciate the help of my bike buds in getting those miles, I don't think I'd be out there so often if I were consistently solo, but a ride with K on Monday, a ride with M on Tuesday, a ride with R on Wednesday, a ride with J on Thursday, and a ride by myself on Friday, and all of a sudden the mileage accumulates and my diabetes stays in control. Sincere thanks to all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shut Up, Legs! The Wisdom of Jens Voigt

First, just let me say: 4 months until Christmas.

A few diabetes links:
  • Affect of Exercise on Diabetes, Limited Effectiveness of Snapshot Testing: new study
  • Insulin Pumps Affected by changes of Airplane Cabin Pressure. report
  • Insulin pumps vulnerable to hacking demo


This is a tremendous August for bicyling.


Rode 36 miles today, McDonald out to the horse farm, with a stop at trailside Farmhouse Coffee, which is always a pleasant respite.

Today's ride was harder than it should have been. My quads were complaining and protesting even thought it wasn't a challenging ride or pace. I needed the wisdom of Jens Voigt, who famously tells his legs: "shut up, legs!". This is why Jens Voigt can watch "60 Minutes" in twenty minutes.



BTW, so far this year: 2981 miles.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Manchester Bastille, SouthSide Nadine's, Squirrel Hill Bike Porn

8/24/11 #224 31m

Rode 31 miles. We rendezvoused at the Manchester Bastille at 0800 (Western Penitentiary) under threatening skies. We wrestled briefly with the wisdom of beginning a ride when it seemed quite certain that a soaking was very likely, but we'd already gotten out with our gear and all, so with a certain foreboding we started off.



We rode around the stadia out to the 31st Street Bridge, then crossed the Allegheny and used the Strip Trail back to the Point. By that time we were getting rained on, so we tried to expedite reaching our planned breakfast stop at Nadine's on the SouthSide.

We took the Mon Whorf trail to the Smithfield Street Bridge, then the SouthSide Trail to REI. Our breakfast destination was on the same street as REI, but just on the other side of Carson Street. We pulled into Nadine's and were happy to get out of the rain. We had made a pretty fast run to get there.

Nadine's came highly recommended, and it's an interested place: a family run, shot-and-beer bar, with a few tables around the perimeter and a big grill behind the bar. Yes, you can get a drink with your breakfast, or you can break fast with your drink, depending on your sense of priorities. It's kind of cool to be in a bar at 0900.

I had a Western Omelette, K had a Mixed Grill, M had a Egg-English-Muffin, and it was all very good (especially since it was raining outside). The clientele seems more regulars than itinerants, but they were quite welcoming to a few outsiders dressed in lycra, high-viz jackets, and helmets.

It was a great meal that was also high-value, I think we each spent about $7 on breakfast. I recommend Nadine's (same street as Southside REI) highly as a breakfast bike stop, with one caveat: it is a smoking establishment.

We had a second cup of coffee and went outside to great our meteorological fate, only to learn that the rain had passed over and it was a pleasant cool, windy morning.

We rode across the Hot Metal Bridge, up Junction Hollow, along Fifth, Shady, and Forbes to stop at ProBikes in Squirrel Hill to indulge in the bike porn. Man they had some beautiful bikes. I was particularly smitten with a 29 inch mountain bike, I think they'd make a great snow bike.

I was very impressed at a folding bike made by Giant called the Clip; it's a tremendously clever design. Several very cool design features: a bipod kickstand that descends out of the seat tube, folding pedals, a hand-grasp loop built into the frame (some reviews find the loop too small to be useful), and an assymetrical front fork - sort of like Cannondale's "Lefty", but this single-part fork is on the right side.



In my small experience (I've had a Dahon folder), the problem with folding bikes is that while they do fold, they're not bikes you'd want to ride 50 miles on - and they're generally not intended for that.




We came out of ProBikes and proceeded via Forbes and Braddock (and Hutchinson and Lancaster) into Frick Park. I descended into Frick too fast, and for a moment the bike was ahead of me instead of me being ahead of the bike. We rode Nine Mile Run Trail, followed by the Duck Hollow Trail and a portage across a few railroad tracks to Second Avenue. That took us to the Jail Trail, we got to ride along with some Green Gears Pittsburgh pedicabs for a few blocks, and then we crossed the Ft. Duquesne bridge to the Manchester Bastille and our waiting cars.

I am really glad we didn't cancel at the obvious approaching rain. Lessons learned:
  • attempt to find a great eating establishment to hole up in while the weather passes by
  • don't descend into Frick Park going very fast
  • don't have a pedal-strike on the pavement at the hairpin-turn at Swinburne Street on the Jail Trail


Hopefully, whatever doesn't kill me will make me smarter - although I am loath to quote Neitzsche. (thanks M!)




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Smart Phone Handlebar Mount

8/23/11 #223


Rode 26 miles on the Montour Trail, my "old reliable" route starting at Boggs. Experimented with a handlebar mounting for a smart phone that I purchased at Performance in Bakery Square yesterday.

Because, if nothing else, I need more gadgets on my bike.



I don't make a habit of watching my phone while I'm riding, but I'm thinking about an effective way to refer to the phone (in map mode) for navigation while riding - something more effective than dig it out of a jersey pocket, try not to drop it, trying to open the App while pedaling, etc. I think this may be useful.

I felt a bit underpowered on the ride today, like I was tired. I'll have to see how that progresses.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Washington Blvd Bakery Square Ride

08/22/11 #227 62miles


Rode 63 miles, urban trails and streets. A very nice day. This is a partial map of today's route, before MapMyRide kind of froze on my Droid:


I wanted to see the scene of Friday's four flooding fatalities, so I rode from the Western Penitentiary, out to Millvale, back to the stadia, then out along the Strip Trail and Butler Avenue to the intersection of Washington Blvd and Allegheny River Blvd. There weren't any indications of it being a dangerous roadway. There was certainly a lot of silt and debris still to be cleaned up.

While I was there I took a lap around the Washington Blvd Oval, a bike racing track. This is a picture of another bicyclist, a hardworking skinny guy on a road bike, working on the oval:


From Washington Blvd I took Fifth Avenue, and then made the right turn on Penn for Bakery Square and Coffee Tree Roasters. Coffee Tree Roasters was an oasis of comfy chairs, wifi, and ice water - I'd stop there again.



I made a stop at Performance Bikes, just to browse, and picked up a SmartPhone handlebar mount I've wanted to try. Took Babcock Blvd. toward Squirrel Hill, it's a great street with a well-marked bike lane.

In Squirrel Hill I stopped at Starbucks for a few minutes, then rode Forbes, Braddock, Hutchinson, and Lancaster into Frick Park. Rode the Nine Mail Trail to the Duck Hollow Trail, and then Second Avenue in Homestead to the south trailhead of the Jail Trail.

I took the Hot Metal Bridge to SouthSide, rode the trail down to the American Water Works closure and then reversed, and stopped at the SouthSide Subway for a sandwich and water bottle refills. Took the SouthSide Trail to the Station Square Trail, and the Ft. Pitt Bridge and the Ft. Duquesne Bridge back to the Western Penitentiary.

That was 43 miles and there was still a lot of day left, so I rode another loop for 19 more miles and ended up at 62 miles.





Saturday, August 20, 2011

Painting and a Black Powder Encampment

8/20/11 #229 15miles




I've been off the bike since Sunday, participating in an infrequent domestic exercise called "painting the living room". It seems to take longer as I get older. We have transitioned to a lovely colorway known as "crème brûlée", and it is every bit as fabulous as you would expect.

The week off the bike was probably good in that I've been riding pretty steady, and a modicum of diversion is always a good thing (moderation and all that...) but the interruption was mildly bad in that my stuff gets disorganized when I'm not riding. The gear in my car gets rolled up, the bike stuff in my house gets hidden put away while we're prepping rooms, I took off my RiderID and didn't get it back on for today's ride - just the normal snafu's that come with a break in routine.

Got a short ride in this afternoon after completing the last coat of paint, just 15 miles but it was great to be back on the bike.



I came upon an interesting encampment at the gun club on the Montour Trail. Several old-style tents, men and women wearing centuries-old clothing styles, and if you looked closely enough you might see a smartphone or a cold bottle of beer.

I spoke to one of the participants, I assumed it was a historic reenactment but I learned it's the 3rd Annual Robert "Bob" Haushalter Memorial Shoot. It's a black-powder shooting event, participants are encouraged to use time-appropriate equipment and clothing, and a donation from the event is made to the National Cancer Society in Mr. Haushalter's name.

Very cool; there's always something going on around the bike trails.

8/20/11
Week 32
this week:
52 miles
[3rd quarter: 1091 miles]   
2011: 2826 miles

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sycamore Street Made a Big Impression on Me

08/14/11 #227 37m
I rode 37 miles solo today, mostly trails some streets. The first 30 miles was just a bit of a warmup, followed by my first attempt to climb Mt. Washington via Sycamore Street. Let me say this: Sycamore Street made a bigger impression on me, than I made on Sycamore Street.

Sycamore Street has a dual notoriety; it's number seven in the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen hill series, and it was the key feature of the Thrift Drug Classic when that bicycle race was held in Pittsburgh. This depiction of the grade is an effective presentation.

I believe I stopped six times while riding up Sycamore Street. I look forward to someday only stopping five times. My profanity is insufficient to describe this climb.



On the way back across the North Side, I noticed that a full-size MouseTrap game had been erected at the Carnegie Science Center. Somehow I'd missed it on the initial leg southbound.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hot Metal Bridge to Boston's Green Box Car and the GAP

8/13/11
Rode 38 miles on trails from the Hot Metal Bridge to the Green box car in Boston, PA, with R, S, S and M.



It was a great morning for a ride, we assembled at 0700 at the south end of the Jail Trail in South Oakland. Took the Hot Metal Bridge, the Southside Trail, the Baldwin Borough Trail, Sandcastle, the Waterfront Trail, the Coaster Trail, the Riverton Bridge, the McKeesport Trail, the Boston trail (including the Durabond Hill), stopping at the green boxcar in Boston PA.

8/13/11
Week 31
this week:
214 miles
[3rd quarter: 1039 miles]   
2011: 2774 miles



Friday, August 12, 2011

Boggs on the Montour Trail; so Beta it's Meta

8/12/11 #229 26m


Rode 26 miles on the Montour Trail, from the Boggs Trailhead to MP13, reverse back to MP0, round trip back to Boggs. A nice day, 80F with a bit of wind.

It looks like a clearing is being made around MP9.5-ish, it will be interesting to see what develops there. I must say that the Montour Trail folks do a very nice job, the Cliff Mine Road trailhead (a recent improvement) is excellent.

I've been experimenting with Google/Android MyTracks and so far haven't produced a suitable map of a bike ride yet. I think it must be me, Google generally doesn't turn out clunky counter-intuitive interfaces. Maybe it's so beta it's meta.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Warren to Ashtabula Ohio: Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail

8/11/11 #229
Rode 83 miles in 5h45m with R and M from Warren, Ohio to Ashtabula, Ohio via the paved Western Reserve Greenway.



We met at 0600 near the PIT airport and it took about 90 minutes to drive to the southern trailhead. We carried extra water bottles because there's really not any stores or water along the trail.

When we started we were joined by Bud, a bicyclist who is on the Board of the trail. It was great to have a knowledgeable trail guide for the first 25 miles.

This is an excellent trail: paved, flat, well built and very well maintained. There are several at-grade road crossings, and the local rule is the bikes have to stop because the cars will not be stopping. That seems contrary to the basic rules of the road (peds and bikes have right of way over cars), but they do a good job of advertising the policy. The trail is well marked.

Bud told us that in the town of Orwell, on 322 east of the trail, there's a good restaurant. In Austinburg there was a small convenience store and a trailside hot dog stand. Other than that, no supplies or water along the trail.

There is a bike shop about five blocks from the northern trailhead: B J Baker Bicycle Sales & Services‎, 996 West Prospect Road, Ashtabula, OH (440) 997-3486. There's also a bed-and-breakfast called The Guilded Swan near the northern trailhead.

We had lunch at Compadres Mexican Restaurant, very good food, good service, reasonable prices. We'd go back there again.

The trip back was very pleasant, we made good time without knocking ourselves out. There is a bit of overhead cover, but a lot of the trail is in sunshine at midday. We stopped at the curiously named town of Orwell to take this picture:


I wonder, in what manner is the town Orwellian? Are all the meals HappyMeals served by GoodFolk? Or has it gone the other way, is it a town of brutally accurate communication, bereft of euphemism?

When we got back to the southern trailhead, we continued on the trail to the southern terminus, and rode back to the parking lot. It seemed like since we were there, we should see the whole thing.

This was a very nice, bike-friendly 83 miles; this was not a soul-crushing hard ride. You could easily add another 17 miles to make it a Century.

Lesson Learned:
  • I should have charged up my smart phone while we were sitting in the restaurant

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cycling Glove Disintegration

Rode 26 miles on the Montour Trail, very nice day for a ride. (80F) There was rain in the area but not on the trail, and I think that kept trail traffic to a minimum. The bike is doing real well.

I have tentative plans for a Thursday ride in Ohio of some 75 miles, and a Saturday ride with some friends through the Kennywood trail.

I have a favorite type of bicycle gloves, Ironman Elite gloves by Spenco; in my opinion they offer the best protection against hand numbness and nerve damage (ulnar neuropathy, aka handlebar palsy). I bought a pair in May and over the last three days they've disintegrated on me in the area around the fingers. I took them back to the bike shop and have hopes of a refund or replacement. (I wish REI sold this glove) In the meantime I bought another pair, because I really like these gloves.

I did revert to my habit of listening to NPR while riding on a trail, the news on 90.5 was all about the stock market, so I listened to 91.3 and they had a pretty good show on - a visiting band, Foster the People, played guest DJ's and presented a very eclectic selection, perfect riding music.





Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reversing Type2 Diabetes?

8/07/11 #229


Rode 41 miles today, Western Penitentiary, 31st Street Bridge, Market Square, Hot Metal Bridge, to the Riverton Bridge between Duquesne and McKeesport; and then back to the car through a gauntlet of dejected baseball fans walking away from the Pirates afternoon game.



Scott Adams had an article in the day's Wall Street Journal, adorned with the image above, and mindful of it I choose to ride without my radio and earbuds, forsaking my NPR opportunity in order to ride like it's 1959.
  • The trail below HofBrauHaus at Station Square is looking more and more ready to open, it looks like all that remains to be done is few railings and some landscaping. Saturday's report seems to carry good news about the path through Keystone Metals.
  • There were a lot of people walking their bikes around Keystone Metals on the train track ballast, and there were a lot of people riding around the perimeter of the Sandcastle parking lot. It seems like Sandcastle is good with that.
  • It is so cool to be able to ride from Manchester on the North Side to McKeesport without ever using a road.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shifting Bicycle Gears Explained or at least Discussed

8/6/11 #226 0 miles
Did not ride today; other obligations.

8/6/11
Week 30
this week:
216 miles
[3rd quarter: 825 miles]   
2011: 2560 miles


The Embarrassing Complexity of Bicycle Gears

The bicycle industry sells geared bicycles but doesn't provide the buyer with an explanation of how to use the gears. It's not obvious, it's not intuitive, and it sets the rider up for a frustrating experience. This nonchalant sale of unintelligible complexity is unmatched with the possible exception of Windows computers.

I found myself wanting to explain bicycle gears and thought I would set it down here in case it might be of use. This image below attempts to depict the names of the various pieces of the drivetrain. A "low gear" is used to do a lot of work at slow speed, such as climbing. A "high gear" is used to move at high speed.



In this image, there are three "front gears" or chain rings; low gear is small/inside, and high gear is big/outside.

On the rear wheel, the "back gears" are rings that make up the "cassette". Low gear is big/inside, and high gear is small/outside.

UGMT (usually generally most of the time) you should stick with the front/rear matchings suggested by the colors above. If the front chainring is small/closest to the frame, the read cassette should be in one of the three largest rear rings, also closest to the frame.


The goal is to keep the line of the chain parallel to the bicycle frame. Avoid "cross-chaining", or putting your chain on a diagonal combination.

How many gears does your bike have?

Say you have a triple-chainring on the front, and a nine-gear cassette on the back. How many gears does your bike have? Simple, 3x9 = 27 gears, right? That's not quite right.

There are 27 possible combinations of gears, but there are really only about a dozen useful, practical combinations of gears. Bicyclists follow a gear shift pattern that leads them efficiently through all the effective gears, as shown in this image:



In this simplified depiction of a gear shift pattern, the rider starts in the lowest usable gear, the granny gear, low on the front and low on the back. This is the gear for climbing steep hills carrying supplies at low speeds. (low gear=low speed)

For the next gear we move the rear cassette over one ring, and for third gear we move the back again, but then we face a question - how do we move to the next gear? To avoid a double-shift (changing both the chainrings and cassette) we use a transition shift to the fourth ring in the back.

For fifth gear the rider moves the front chainring into the middle. Now the bicycle is in the "middle range" of gears. The shift pattern progresses through sixth and seventh by shifting the rear cassette, and the eighth gear is accomplished by another transition shift.

For ninth gear the rider moves the front chainring onto the big outside ring. Tenth and Eleventh gear are configured by shifting the rear cassette into its final two positions.


Calculation of an actual gear-shift pattern involves knowing (or counting) the number of gears on each of the front chainrings and the rear cassette, doing some math to calculate the gear-inches of every combination, and then choosing a path that provides the optimal coverage between low-gear and high-gear.

The chart on the right depicts my shifting pattern for my Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT), which as a touring bike skews toward delivering low gears for climbing with baggage.

And that's not all: you're not looking for a consistent incremental change in gear-inches, you're looking for a consistent incremental percentage change in gear-inches, so it's a logarithmic function.

  • Each wheel size / front chainring / rear cassette combination has a unique gear shifting pattern.
  • Why don't bike manufacturers provide this information to bike buyers? Wouldn't it be cool to know that one hybrid has a low gear of 16 gear-inches, while the other hybrid has a low gear of 28 gear-inches?
  • Gear shifting has been a manual/analog process involving cables and springs. Manufacturers are now introducing electric shifting mechanisms - nothing but wires between the handlebars and the derailleurs. The next big step in bike gear management will be when the gear combinations are managed by software, and the rider just chooses "higher" or "lower" and the software picks the correct combination.

Friday, August 5, 2011

35-Mile Friday via the Tranquil Nine-Mile Duck (T9MD)

8/05/11 #227


Rode 35 miles in the city today, mostly trails, some streets in Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and Hazelwood.



I rode with J, M, and S. We started at the Penitentiary, rode around the stadia where I glommed onto the stern of a Just Ducky tour boat/bus and skitched a pull for a little bit. We rode out to Washington's Landing and the 31st Street Bridge, used Railroad Avenue to the Strip Trail and the Mon-Whorf Trail to the Jail Trail, then Junction Hollow up to CMU. (stopped to catch breath).

Then we rode cross-town to Squirrel Hill and stopped at Starbucks for a proper respite. Back on Forbes to Frick Park, the Tranquil Trail, the Nine Mile Run Trail, the Duck Hollow Trail (a combo I may start referring to as the Tranquil Nine Mile Duck or T9MD), and Second Avenue back to the Hot Metal Bridge.

We rode back and forth on the SouthSide Trail, took a break outside REI, then north to Station Square, the Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne Bridges (which I may start referring to as the Two-Fort-Bridges). Near the stadia we saw a rider on an extremely cool hand-crank recumbent trike, it was radically low to the ground - outside of the wheels, I doubt anything was more than 18 inches off the road.

We rode the Casino Trail back to the Penitentiary. We sadly note that Mr. Rogers' red knit sweater is no longer in evidence.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Exordium and Terminus: 2525 in 2011

08/04/11 #226   29m


Rode 29 miles on the Montour Trail, Boggs Trailhead out to the south, east to MP0 in Groveton, back to Boggs. A very nice day to get back on the bike.


Today I crossed 2500 miles. My yearly total at the end of the day is 2525, which serendipitiously is the title of my fave song from 1969 (subtitle:Exordium and Terminus, sung by Yager and Evans)--

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hump Day: Hennessy Hammocks?

8/03/11 #226


Today was a rainy day, and my second day off the bike since my overnight trip. Back on the bike tomorrow, I hope.

I am noodling the concept of bike camping (as opposed to credit-card touring). I like the idea of self-contained / self-sufficient travel, and I really like the idea of not being locked into the location of hotels for overnight stops. I also really like the idea of not spending $90 a night for lodging.

I've been resisting camping because I don't want to sleep on the ground; I want a bed - which is why I was in the Navy, and not the Army. I want a bed and a hot shower. A bed, a hot shower, and wifi. And a hot tub and NPR and 3G coverage.

I've been reading and hearing more about hammocks and bicycle camping. It seems like Hennessy Hammocks have a good reputation. I really like the idea of camping without sleeping on the ground, and I like the idea of having a middle capability between getting a hotel room and begging for the kindness of strangers.





Monday, August 1, 2011

S36O (Sub 36-Hour Overnight Bike Trip) Cumberland MD to Ohiopyle PA

Short version: reversed course, regained car. 77 miles.

I departed Cumberland at 1150 and began the 24-mile climb to the top of the Continental Divide. In case that's not impressive, I'd like to emphasize the key phrase: Continental Divide

I took short stops at 5 miles, 9 miles, and at 16 miles where I found the train station and sandwich shop in Frostburg, MD. There's a hill between the trail and the train station with a very effective set of switchbacks, it was a little bit of a Tour Day France moment.

The climb, while sustained over many miles and a few hours, was not character-building. I did enjoy the vista at the south-east end of the (John) Savage Tunnel. While I was in the tunnel, and thought I had it to myself, I let loose a blast on my AirZounds horn; it made a magnificent sound that reverberated through the tunnel, prompting a young boy being hauled in a trailer to exclaim "Wow what was that?"


It rained pretty steady from the Continental Divide to the Meyersdale train station. I stopped in Meyersdale at 4pm to check the GI Dayroom, which had already closed. Next stop was the Java Cafe, which was also closed. I ended up eating at Subway. In a lot of situations, Subway and Sheetz are the supply chain for bike touring.

When I departed Meyersdale I decided to take advantage of the descent and attempt to get back to Ohiopyle without further delay, so I rode to Rockwood and stopped just long enough to use the cellphone repeater (which is awesome of the town to provide for riders). This is a photo of a sculpture at the Rockwood trail head, I like the way it suggests the dreams of the town having a bicycle focus, coming out of the railroad history:



Then I pressed on to Confluence. This is a nice ride (descending westbound), and I really enjoy the bridges across the rivers and the Pinkerton Horn detour. There's an intersection with Ursina Road that always prompts me to consider the presence of bears (ursina ~ bear) in the area. This morning in the Cumberland bike shop I saw a bicycle accessory I'd never heard of before: a "bear bell", which attaches to your handlebars and makes a persistent noise so you don't startle any bears. When you want to silence the bear bell, there's a small magnet you attach to the bell and it keeps the ringer from moving around. Cool design, major bike-geek attraction, but the "bear-and-bike" niche is too narrow for my needs.


Between Confluence and Ohiopyle the sun settled below the mountain ridges, and most of the riders had their headlights on. I got back to the car at 8:20 pm, pleased to find that it was still there and not towed away. There was a $5 mail-in ticket on the windshield for parking overnight in an unauthorized area, and I guess that's fair because that is, in act, what I intentionally did.

This was a very nice ride. It was novel to ride solo; usually I have the advantage of good company along. It's a different experience by yourself. Today's ride (on a Monday) has a lot less traffic on the trail and was much more of a solitary experience.

I departed Ohiopyle at 1230 Sunday, and returned to my car at 8:30 pm Sunday, so I think that makes this ride a S36O - sub-thirty-six-hour bicycle overnight.