Friday, June 22, 2007

exploring the tuscarora state forest

Did my riding on the other side of the valley today along roads that looked mostly like this:

I'd been up here before and rode two roads until they sort of turned into rough single track, then disappeared. But according to a dude from the DCNR (PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources) who I ran into today, the "trail" at the end of one of those roads is marked with red blazes which, if I follow them, will connect me with a whole network of remote roads and trails in the older part of the state forest.

It turns out that I'd been entering the forest from a swath of land purchased by the state just five years ago, and that's why the roads and trails didn't seem to go anywhere--old logging roads that hadn't yet been hooked up with the rest of the forest.

Anyway, I followed his advice, and after what seemed like about an hour of finding and losing the "trail" while shouldering my bike across acres of tree fall, I found my way across. Then I rode here:

From this overview you can see just about the whole valley. Those mountains on the other side, about twenty miles away, are where I usually do my riding.

...a self-portrait. Looks like the shrubbery could use a bit of trimming.

On my way back, I found this:

Interesting. Reminds me of the crash site on Timpanogos. But there, presumably because of the remoteness of the location, you can still walk around and inspect the fragments of engine, fuselage, and wing scattered about the mountainside. I didn't actually find this crash site, but my guess is all that's been cleared away.

Also, this:

Audrey was a little incredulous that I would take such a picture. "You don't like butterflies, do you?"


Components didn't arrive today. I'm steaming. I won't be able to get on my old front dérailleur, but I'm thinking of just throwing on the rest of the old stuff and racing all the same. Who needs a little ring anyway?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

bike building...


(Audrey wanted her turn.)

Building up a bike seems like such an easy thing to do, but stuff always comes up that makes it a chore.

The first major complication is that, like an idiot, I ordered the wrong size stem for my handlebars. Unbelievably moronic. So I had to drive to Mechanicsburg (the closest competent bike shop--shhh, don't tell, but I'm not fond of Coles) to sort through their collection of toss-offs and find a stem that would work. (I should also add here that by "competent" I mean more a shop with competent help AND higher-end shmiz. I'm comfortable bringing any mechanical problem to Merv's on Firehouse, but they don't carry much of a selection of road stems.)

The second major complication is that the last person to mess around with my bottom bracket put the bearing cups on so tight that it took a three-foot lever to get them off. (I know who it was, but to protect the guilty I won't tell.) Fortunately, I discovered that last night so I could bring the old rig along today on the stem errand and let the boys at World Cup--and their three-foot lever--help me out.

The third major complication is that my new Rival groupset isn't here yet. If it doesn't come tomorrow then it looks like I'm screwed for Saturday's race. It better come tomorrow.

One thing that wasn't near as complicated as I was afraid it might be was putting my headset together and cutting the steerer tube down to length. I got a little instruction from two sources and then just went at it. I think it turned out nicely. And you've got to cut your steerer tubes...nothing says ghetto like an inch or more of spacers above or below that stem. Man, that's an easy way to ugly-up a sweet ride.

And to answer a question asked earlier, the fork I also ordered from Fetish. Carbon steerer tube.

Frame, fork & headset weigh in at about 4.2 lbs. (It's a 60 cm frame that's really more like 58.5 cm.) For comparison's sake, the Specialized Allez Epic that I bought new in 1990 weighs, frame, fork & headset, about 5 1/4 lbs. I'll weigh the Giant when I get everything off.

Anyway, things seem generally to be falling in place. I scooted around the funeral home parking lot next door pretending to do this and that (without a chain you can really only pretend) and everything held together nicely. I'm super excited to get it finished.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

frame drama

A couple of weeks ago I discovered what I would describe as a catastrophic frame failure--a crack on my Giant TCR. The crack runs about 3/4 the way around the drive side chainstay, about two inches from the bottom bracket shell. I took the rear wheel off and gave the drive side rear triangle a little tug outward. It bent out way too far way too easily.

So while I've been hemming and hawing about how to replace the frame, then waiting for my new frame to arrive, I've been on the mountain bike a lot. Last week I logged over 12 hours riding the trails of Michaux and some of the double track in the mountains on the other side of the valley. Today my new frame arrived:

More pictures to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

a ride in the woods

A twenty-mile walk in the woods with the Boy Scouts left me with a map of Michaux that revealed all kinds of trails I didn't know existed. Yesterday I went to try out a few.

I put in three hours riding a 31 mile loop. Single-track, double-track, and dirt road. Some really great riding.

Can you feel the joy?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

TT "fun"

Had a nice little ITT run yesterday, 24:53 on a 10-mile, hilly, out-and-back course. Local cross junkie Mark Laser puts on the series. Series...that's really too official sounding for what it is. It's free, it's friends, it's fun...sort of. Time trails aren't really "fun." They're...something. But not fun.

Anyway, props to Mark for putting these things together. For more info and email updates, click this.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

edgar soto - stage 4

Man, it's taken me a long time to get this up. Two issues, most likely, have contributed to my procrastination: (1) I was disappointed with Monday's result and (2) so much steady blogging got me bogged down, dampening my enthusiasm.

Anyway, Stage 4 was a quality event. Seventy-seven miles of up-and-down along rural Tennessee roads ending in a 5K climb up the Cumberland Plateau. I predicted before that everything would come down to that climb. About that, at least, I was right. What I wasn't right about was my prediction about how well how many people would be riding once we got there, and how well I wouldn't be riding against them.

I played it casual through the whole race. I kept my nose out of the wind and moved up near the front before the bigger hills and the long downhill section. I stayed watered, fed, and for the 20 miles or so before the finishing climb felt increasingly good. I mean, I felt good, but I also felt good in comparison with how I perceived those around me to be feeling. It seemed like with each roller I was riding stronger and the field was losing steam.

A long two-man break was finally reeled in maybe 15 miles from the finish. When we hit the climb there was one rider off the front, but I assume he was reabsorbed on the climb. Anyway, I hit the climb in perfect position--about 10th wheel. The pace was steady, no one was attacking, and all seemed well. Except that all seemed well for too many riders. About 1/3 the way up the climb the lead group still had about forty riders together en masse riding tempo. The wild attrition that I had expected didn't materialize, the pace stayed high, and ultimately I couldn't hang on. I'd slip a rider or two, then another few positions, and finally there I was at the tail end of this lead group trying desperately to hang on, but knowing I'm just not going to be able to pull it off.

I finished the day 32nd, 1:44 off the pace of the stage winner. With that result several riders jumped me in the GC, and I finished in 21st place. Fat. Old. Slow.

One has to put these things in perspective, of course. I'm not the flyweight climber I was in high school...and as I pulled across the finish line and took a look at those that finished in front of me I couldn't help but notice that many of them looked much more like that--long legs and narrow torsos, skin so thin you can see the veins across their ribs. I'm a good 10 lbs lighter than the last time I finished this race, but my ribs would still make much better eating. The biggest disappointment is that what for me was a sensational TT result feels squandered. After that TT I felt like a finish in the money (Soto paid out 15 places) was guaranteed; a top 10 finish highly likely.

Anyway, now that some time has past I feel better about the result. And motivated. Which is good, I suppose. An overall satisfying effort, but just dissatisfying enough to work a little harder.

I've only finished in the money once since upgrading to Cat 3. That needs to be corrected.