Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cool Bicycle Art

I spotted this sign along the bike path the other day.  The art is very well done. I like how the artist tied in the themes of country and city.

Well as far as bike to work goes for me and many other bike commuters every day is bike to work day.  So I'll just roll my eyes and keep my comments to myself.  But the bottom line is any advocacy to get people out of their cars and onto bikes even for a day is a good thing and I support it. 

Here's a great Time article that sums it up quite nicely.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Dirt

It's been a while since I felt the pulse of Mother Earth through my knobby tires. I couldn't wait any longer so this morning I loaded up my mountain bike and hit the trail.  Every spring I like to ride the mountain bike trail at Mohican State Park. 

This place never fails to recharge my batteries.  While I stay in shape doing other things in the off season I'm from the flatland so busting out of the gate and flogging myself up and down these hills transports me to another place.

Speaking of transports in this picture is my new internal combustion powered four wheeled recumbent with 5-speed manual transmission (I like to decide when to jam the gears of whatever contraption I happen to be piloting.) and cargo box.  Toss the bike in the back and secure it with a bungee cord to keep it from bouncing around and I'm off. 

Of course I'm concerned for our planet and for that reason and my own good health I ride my commuter bike to my day job and other errands about town as much as possible.  As long as I am able to afford and operate a motor vehicle I will continue to use one for important things like getting to awesome bike trails.

I've been trail riding since the early nineties.  One thing I've noticed about climate change in my region is the spring-time is much drier. This makes for excellent mountain biking.  I'm sure I've been mentioning it before that the trails are dusty dry this early for several years in a row now.  I can remember waiting out the muddy season not only to prevent damage to the fragile ecosystems but to save the head ache of cleaning mud from my bike and accelerated wear of drive train parts from what is basically liquid sandpaper.

I rode the same route I usually do with the first half being 8 miles from the snowmobile parking area east to the campground on State Route 3.  All was going fine and before I knew it I was cruising on the camp ground road towards the connector trail to continue on back west up the other side of the gorge.  

Clear Fork of the Mohican River
The camp road is paved and flat following the river in the bottom of the valley so for the first time I could shift up to the big ring.  There was major work being done in the campground with heavy equipment of all shapes and sizes and workmen busy on improvements.  The road surface had been ground in preparation for repaving but rolling on my fat off road tires it felt fine.  Suddenly I noticed that the bike was feeling way to hard to pedal as if I was going uphill. I soon realized my back tire was almost flat. This was both irritating and odd as I had just replaced the tube the night before to fix a slow leak that I'd been dealing with since last year.

Luckily I was right near the camp commissary which had picnic tables and shade so that made a perfect place for a pit stop to eat my mid ride snack and fix the flat.  I was also well prepared with an extra tube and my trusty mini pump so shortly I was on my way again.  

 The path up from the campground starts with a steady two mile zig-zagging climb up to the top of the north ridge of the gorge.  The mountain bike trail "officially" starts at that point but I hate starting my ride first thing with that devil of a climb. I'd much rather face it in the middle of my journey when I'm at least warmed up.

After a few more miles I was feeling pretty beat down and was ambling along a relatively flat section of trail when I suddenly felt the urge almost subconsciously to look to the left.  I didn't think about it just instinctively jerked my head around and instantly locked eyes with a whitetail doe standing perfectly still watching me pass about 30 yards off the trail.

I came to a stop and pulled out my camera and attempted to get a shot off.  Unfortunately in my excitement I forgot that I had the two second timer set. Whether it was the beeper going off or she had simply had enough human interaction the doe turned tail and bugged out.  I did manage to keep the lens on her and after the timer delay I got a shot of her warning flag flying.

These last couple shots are of an area along the north ridge I really like. The hill slopes down steeply and is covered with Hemlocks. Some older trees tower high above but it is reassuring to see younger hemlocks doing well waiting their turn to one day take the place of their elders.

Eventually after 16 miles of single track I used the park road to cross back down and up the other side back to the parking area where I left the truck that morning.  Completely exhausted but with that well earned satisfaction that only a hard day on the trail can give.

I used my smart phone's gps to determine something I've always wondered about while running around in this park: Elevation gain.  I climbed a total of 2700 feet during my ride.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Laid Back On The Olentangy Trail

This year for my first recumbent ride of the season I wanted to go big and also add a new bike way to my list of trails ridden.  This weekend the weather was perfect so I loaded up the HP Velotechnik and headed south to Franklin County in central Ohio.

I used that popular online map to determine how exactly to get to the northernmost trail head and also to study the route I would be riding south once the car was parked.

The trail follows its namesake the Olentangy River 13 miles to its confluence with the Scioto River in downtown Columbus.  I chose this trail because the Olentangy originates in Crawford County where I am from although it is little more than a ditch at its start.  From Crawford County the Olentangy meanders 97 miles in length and has long been a resource to those inhabiting its banks.

The river was first called Keenhongsheconsepung (Heck with three times -just try to say that once!) by the Delaware peoples who lived in the region.  The word translates to "stone for your knife stream" after the shale exposed along the banks of the creek.  White settlers who moved into the area changed the name of the water to the Whetstone.

The past week of rain and storms has the river running high and muddy.  It's early spring yet and things look pretty brown and dead but the sun is warm and things will start turning green soon.  The grass on this golf course I spotted across the river has got a good start.

The trail switches banks occasionally.  Here's a shot taken on the east bank as I continued south. 

 I like riding in the early season because with out leaves on the trees it's much easier to see things along way.  Alternatively later during the hot dog days of summer the leaves create welcome shade.  For now though exploring a new trail I like the openness.

More evidence of recent rains

Soon into my ride I started finding examples of Columbus' excellent infrastructure catering to park users.  Bridges are a great combination of art and architecture and they always make for interesting compositions in my camera eye.

As I continued on the area along the banks became more urban.  And more bridgey. 

Lane Avenue Bridge

The Olentangy Trail cuts right through the Ohio State University campus.

The Horseshoe

Back on the west bank I came across the first railroad bridge of the ride complete with some vintage antique telegraph insulators.

While the telegraph system those old insulators belonged to was long since retired the bridge was still very much in use. 

At midday I arrived at the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto not far from downtown.  At this point the Olentangy trail links up with the Scioto Trail.  I rode to the western end of this trail away from town first.  

The Scioto is one of Ohio's longest rivers stretching just over 230 miles across the state until draining into the Ohio River at Portsmouth.

After a couple miles I reached the end of the trail and headed back east towards the city.

Another railroad bridge offers a unique vantage point to the downtown cityscape.

In recent years the Ohio EPA and the city of Columbus have been making improvements to the river front area.  The removal of a damn reduced the width of the river and freed up land along the banks to create parks and green space.

The big white building in the center of the frame above is the Ohio Supreme Court House.  From this spot I took a picture of the ongoing construction.

A big section of the bike trail is closed because of the work and detoured a few blocks through the city.  The detour was well marked and even protected with cement barriers from automotive traffic.  I felt very safe.

I am not a fan of driving in the city.  I'd much rather get around by bike.  As I was pedaling along the detour route I spotted this rack of bike share bikes and stopped for a closer look.  I did see quite a few people out and about on the rental bikes. 

South of the city center the Scioto trails heads along the bank of the river for a few miles before abruptly terminating.  I wheeled around and headed back towards town to find a place to take a break.

On the West Main St. bridge I found a nice spot with a sun warmed bench to sit and eat my snack.

Note the public binoculars on the rail above my bike.  Free! no quarter needed and yes I did have a look.

West Main St. Bridge

This is how bridges should be designed.  The pedestrian and bike deck is just as big as the automobile side. 

I took my time on the trip down stopping often to take pictures and look around.  As the shadows lengthened and I headed back north I settled into a faster pace and used up the rest of my energy.  I like to ride harder on the second half of my rides and this works out well when exploring a new trail.  

It doesn't look like it in my pictures but there was lots of people out enjoying the day. I saw all kinds of bikers, joggers, dog walkers along the trail in the forty miles I covered. Parks and fields along the way were filled with sports teams playing games like lacrosse and softball.

One thing I really liked about the Olentangy Trail is that the designers kept the trail always winding and turning.  It made the ride a bit more fun than the arrow straight runs found on many rail trails that can get tedious.

I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day than laying around on my recumbent bike.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Cycling Update

Well warmer weather has finally come and it's about damn time.  The cold was starting to effect my mood.  But all is good now.  The days have gotten longer and I've been out a few times on my bike and even back to steady commutes on the Ti General Purpose bike.  

The winter seemed extra long this year not only because of the bitter cold but late last year I upgraded a couple of my bike's rider interface components and hardly had a chance to enjoy them.  I was anxious to put some time on the Brooks B67 and really test it out so when the first warm day came around I took off on the bike trail.  I did encounter a few icy spots but most of the trail was dry and I logged 33 miles in two and a half hours.  

My Brooks saddle continues to amaze me.  It just seems unbelievable that a bike seat can be so comfortable.  I hit the trail after two months of not even touching a bicycle and sat for hours with absolutely no discomfort.  Don't worry though I'm not giving up on the recumbent. 

I picked up some new tires during the winter for the Ti GP bike.  These Michelin slicks are a tenth of an inch narrower than the old rubber I was running and much lighter.  My old tires were durable yet heavy and made the bike feel sluggish but as the years past I just got used to it.  

1.40" equals out to about 36mm and on my old 26" mountain bike rims they seem to be a perfect balance between comfort and speed.  I'm happy with the ride quality and the snappier acceleration from lighter tires is very welcome.  They are folding bead and only set me back about forty bucks. 

When I got the Bosco bar I wrapped the exposed alloy with old fashioned cotton bar tape. The tape has a little strip of adhesive on the backside just like modern bar tape to hold it in position.  I learned that back in the day cyclists would mix up a little shellac and coat the tape once their bar was wrapped.  At first I liked the cloth look and just left them as is.  

After some time went by I noticed the cotton was starting to fuzz up a bit and maybe starting to lighten just a touch.  It was staying tight but the more I thought about the shellac the more I realized it might be a good idea to slap a little on the tape.  At the local hardware store I picked up this little pint of premixed clear shellac. Nice! I didn't even have to mess with the raw flakes and denatured alcohol.

I used a foam brush to dab it on.  At first the cotton really soaked it in and once dried the appearance hadn't changed a whole lot.  After a few days I put on a second helping and the wrap picked up a little more gloss.  Now it look great but best of all the the fabric won't fuzz and those wraps will definitely stay tight.

It's been raining all week but the weather is looking up for the weekend so I'll be out there for sure.