This is last week, Feb 15th, after the big snow:
Rode five miles to the base of the canyon, skined up...
...then made my way up here:
Fresh tracks on the AT. (It wasn't that great.)
Actually, snow conditions were horrid. After the initial 4-5 inches of snow it warmed up a bit and what came next coated everything with a kind of free-on-impact rain/snow mix. So, you have to imagine this...
...as not pretty fresh snow with some tracks through it, but frozen white ice as hard as sculpture.
Later that week I tried to ride for a while on top of the snow's frozen crust. It worked okay...until my front wheel broke through the crust and I face-planted over the handlebars. That was the end of that.
As for riding with skis on my back... I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty hardcore riding through town with that get-up. But it was also windy, so besides nearly freezing my nads off (external genitalia...who came up with this stuff?) I was predictably, and dangerously, blown about the road. Especially when crossing freeway overpasses and that sort of thing...experiences which left me thinking the whole thing maybe wasn't such a good idea.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Today I rode, on my road bike, outside, for the first time since January 16th. That's a whopping 35 days.
Since January 16th I've spent 17 hrs and 22 minutes on the trainer plus 19 hrs and 13 minutes on the mountain bike. Those mountain hours have been and are enjoyable, but at heart I'm really a roadie, and today was a beautiful day to be on the road--
Temperatures topped 40 degrees for the first time since probably I last rode on the road, some wind, but not too bad, and just the right clothing choices to stay warm, dry, and comfortable. It all made for a delightful way to spend a couple hours of my day.
at 5:09 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2007
There's no better way to end a rest week than with a 5.5 hr, flirt-with-hypothermia, cold mountain ride, minus the flirt-with-hypothermia part, and probably the 5.5 hr component as well.
Last Saturday's failure to make it all the way to Mt. Holly Springs has been gnawing at me all week. So with temperatures still in the 20s (I don't think it's been above 30 degrees in south-central PA for 10-14 days) I decided I'd give the ride another go.
This time I made it, but it turned out to be a rather looong ride; 61 miles in 5:33 with likely something between 3500 and 4500 feet of climbing. Plus I wasn't making tracks through fresh snow the whole way, which made the riding generally faster, but less idyllic. Descending on the south slopes, where the dirt roads were mostly clear, was certainly faster and safer, but descending on the north facing slopes (where the snow was compacted into road-width sheet of ice) was decidedly hairy.
In Mt. Holly Springs I stopped at this little Chinese restaurant to refuel on a shrimp & cashews dish with steamed white rice. Yummy. I was soaked from the effort to get there, so while I was waiting for my food I excused myself to the bathroom and changed my base layer. Afterwards, I spread out all the other stuff--hats, gloves, jacket--on chair backs to dry a bit while I was eating, but of course that wasn't near long enough to have made any real difference, and by time I began to pack on the layers again I realized I was in for an extremely wet, cold, and generally miserably ride back.
And then it came to me, this:
I got my change in quarters and followed the nice Chinese lady's directions (across the street) to Dolly's Wash House. I felt like a character in a TV commercial (absent an encounter with a beautiful woman) as I stripped down and threw all my wet stuff in the dryer. Even my socks.
(Can you see my eerie reflection in the window?)
Despite feeling a little uncomfortable with the looks I was getting from the crowd of motley middle-aged on-lookers, the kind of people frequenting a laundry mat in rural Pennsylvania outpost of a town on a Saturday afternoon, the idea proved a stroke of genius and I was feeling rather proud of myself. In less than 10 minutes I was dressed in dry, warm (if not clean) gear and on the road again.
The ride back was uneventful, only tremendously long. When back in Ship I was riding in the dark.
In other news, the new Vandy kits are in, and mine came in the mail Friday. (Thanks, Josh.) They are really pretty fantastic. Easily the best looking kit I've ridden in.
Here's a trail shot of my handlebars modeling the vest:
at 9:39 AM
Monday, February 5, 2007
Since you can hardly not talk about the Super Bowl today, I'd like to share my favorite post-Super Bowl analysis/read/whatever--Virginia Heffernan's (isn't that the surname of the couple on King of Queens? is that intentional irony?) contribution to the The 5th Down.
Read it here. (Remember to start from the bottom.)
I read stuff like this and come to two realizations: (1) I'm a terrible writer and (2) I'm not even B-level culturally savvy enough to appreciate how clever this girl is.
It's a long way between Cumberland Co., PA and NYC, NY.
at 9:11 AM
Sunday, February 4, 2007
The weather yesterday looked to be cold. It turned out to be. Here are yesterday's actual temps in the valley:
That's right, at 11am it was 24 degrees, with a wind chill that made it feel like eight. Ah yeah, time to go riding.
So I left my house a little before 10am and headed up towards the mountains. I battled the wind for about five miles, then got to the mouth of the canyon (Means Hollow) and started up the snow-packed dirt road...up, up, up about 1200 ft to Ridge Road, which looked like this:
Twelve hundred feet is my estimate. Shippensburg, PA is listed at 656 feet above sea level. The Birch Run Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, which one passes just a stone's throw away on Ridge Road, is 1795 feet above sea level, according to this site, and I'm fairly confident that Ridge Road, at it's highest point, sits a bit above the shelter. (Of course, the road doesn't just go straight up, so to get up 1200' you end up climbing quite a bit more.)
Here's the bike:
After the climb I rode several miles north on Ridge Road along the spine of South Mountain, planning to make my way as for as Mt. Holly Springs for lunch. Those mountain roads are tricky though, and I ended up making a wrong turn that brought me down to Pine Grove Furnace State Park (about 850' above sea level), which wasn't really where I wanted to be.
From there I considered taking route 233 north until I could get back on track, but the road was still icy/snow-packed on the shoulders, and there was enough traffic that I was made nervous by that combination of circumstances. Also, I'd already been out an hour and 54 minutes; making Mt Holly Springs by the route I had planned would take at least another hour, maybe more.
Also, my feet were cold! One of the most significant problems with cold weather riding is the negative energy transfer from your warm feet to the ice-cold metal pedals and crank arms. I was wearing two pairs of neoprene booties--enough to warm my feet right up when I got off the bike and danced around a bit--but booties don't insulate against the shoe-pedal contact point. I haven't figured out how to solve this problem yet.
Anyway, from Pine Grove Furnace I climbed back up to Ridge Road, then back to the Baltimore Road intersection (about 1900'). From there I opted to take a different route home, riding east on Baltimore (crossing the AT again) about a mile to Big Flat, where I caught Birch Run Road all the way down to Chambersburg Reservoir (about 1000'). Birch Run had been heavily traveled by both snowmobiles and four-wheelers, but I didn't see any out while I was on the road.
From the reservoir, I begin climbing back over the ridge again, but once more took a wrong turn and ended up climbing probably 200 - 300' feet more than I needed to, about 800' in total.
Finally back to the valley, though even at this point I took several wrong turns, on purpose this time, thinking I had found new, less traveled, more fun routes to make it back down. These efforts proved fruitless, and only resulted in my having to climb several more hundred feet as well as having to do quite a bit of walking.
Val took a couple of picture when I got home:
Including one showcasing the salt stains on my butt--tell-tell signs of a good long bike ride.
Total ride time: 4:55:23
Total miles: 51.3
Total climbing: 3500-4000'
Number of mud splats on goggles: 22
at 9:03 AM