Sunday, November 08, 2015

Flatbread 200K Report

Yesterday was the DC Randonneurs Flatbread 200k, which is an easy comfortable cruise across the Eastern Shore. Look how happy and relaxed I am at the end.

It took me 9 hours on the clock, 7:30 pedaling. I was easily in well before dark, but just barely before the battery died on my Garmin.

The ride started and finished in Centreville, MD. Here is the courthouse in the town square.

I stopped to take a picture at the first information control, which is only 8 miles from the start. After this, it started raining and I didn't take any more pictures because my phone was packed away where it would stay dry.

It rained all day. The first half of the ride, it was 60 degrees, with a slight tailwind, and light rain. I stopped for lunch at the Subway in Milton, Delaware, at mile 68.

Leaving the Subway, I found I had a flat. I found the responsible party, a piece of broken glass. This cost me 40 minutes, because I tried to patch the tube, and the tube exploded when I was putting it back on the bike. It worked fine with a fresh new tube. These tires are due for replacement.

The second half of the ride, it started raining moderately harder, but not bad. The temperature dropped steadily from 60 to 50, and the wind picked up. It was a headwind now. This was not the most pleasant riding conditions, but I was fine with my nice rain jacket. I didn't put on my rain pants, I was fine in a pair of light spandex tights. The rain stopped right before I got to the finish.

All in all, this was an easy cruise, and a nice confidence builder. I feel better today than I did after the very hilly 75 mile ride I did last week on the Campeur. It's probably because I ate lunch on this ride.

Here is the Strava page: 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Fall Ramble on the Campeur

It was a beautiful fall day, and I decided to go out and ride my bike where ever I felt like riding it. If I made 75 miles I would get a little badge on Strava. If I climbed 4100 feet, I would get another little badge.

My bike is a Velo Orange Campeur. I built it up in June, and it had nearly 1200 miles on it when I left.

One nice way to start a bike ride is to climb up Gun Road. This is a 16% grade. I have very low gears. I used them.

Here is the Charm City skyline in the distance heading in on Wilkens Ave.

I took the Gwynns Falls Trail. Here is where it crosses the former Western Maryland Railroad.

Heading in to Federal Hill by the Ravens Stadium on Hamburg Street.

Into the Inner Harbor in the Trolley Lane. This is my old commute route from when I lived in Fells Point.

 If you look at the first postings on this blog, you will see why this scene made me very happy. You can make things better if you try.

Here is a shot from by the Broadway Market. I can't believe the Ding How is still there. I remember when it opened. It used to be a 7-11. It was horrible. It stayed horrible for years. Bizarrely, there is a new 7-11 on Thames Street across from The Horse. The storefront restaurant next to the Ding How is where Debra and I had our first date. At the time it didn't have a name, or menus. The guy who ran it would just come out and have a discussion with you about what you would like and what he had on hand to cook. Note the hideous new apartments behind the historic storefronts.

This is The Horse, of course. Where Debra and I met in 1987. I used to get together with a group of friends here on Wednesday nights to hear Mike White and Dave Matthias play Jimmy Buffett songs. I will endure a lot to enjoy my friends' company. This weekly get-together morphed into Half Price Burger Nite on Tuesdays at Looneys and lasted for the next 20 years or so. Parenthood eventually killed it.

Random people walking their Borzoi on Broadway. I so want a Borzoi someday.

Some things never change, and that's great. 

Here is where I used to live when I first moved to Baltimore, in the middle of the three houses. This house was built in 1787. I was living there when it turned 200 years old. It's two blocks from The Horse. I had to walk past 8 other bars to get from my house to The Horse, all of which were better than the Horse. Actually, there were two different ways to walk to The Horse, and each way went by 8 other better bars. When Debra and I started dating, we immediately started trying to make our weekly meetup be somewhere else. Note the former St. Stanislaus Catholic School two doors down is now a charter school.

The bar between where we used to live on Fleet St., which has come and gone under many different names over the years, including Tysons Tavern, is now an Ethiopian restaurant!

I lived in the yellow house for 17 years. It wasn't so yellow when I lived there. It had formstone until Debra made me have it taken off. I'm pretty sure the old guy who took it off had put it on in the first place 40 years earlier.

One thing that was really annoying about our block on Fleet St. was the Bail Bonds place a half block down. It's now a Sushi restaurant! Ethiopian and Sushi both less than two blocks away! I showed this to Debra, and she is now sad that we have moved "out to the country" where we have to drive a whole mile and a half for Sushi.

My favorite Kentucky Coffee Tree in Patterson Park is still hanging on, despite having most of it blown off a few years ago. I gathered some seeds from it a couple years ago, and I have a sapling in my yard.

The Pagoda is looking good. This is a monument to the War of 1812. The residents of Baltimore set up battlements on this hillside to repel the British invaders. The British ships never got past Fort McHenry, and the land invasion from Fort Howard got stuck in a swamp. 

There is now a dog park in Patterson Park! I used to be on the Friends of Patterson Park Dog Committee to get this park built. It was a total exercise in frustration. Martin O'Malley's Director of Parks was very open about how much he hated dogs. He thought the best solution to dogs in the park was to arrest all the dog owners. O'Malley's community relations office set up this "process" to get a dog park built that was designed to erect every possible barrier to having a dog park. But they had a nice Powerpoint deck for the "process" with lots of cute pictures of dogs in it. I said at the time "No dog living today will go to this dog park." The park opened about six months before Monkey died, but we were long gone by then, and Monkey lived most of his life running around a fenced yard.

This is Orangeville, my favorite obscure Baltimore neighborhood. It's like a little village in the middle of abandoned industrial wasteland.

From Orangeville, I headed through Clifton Park, and did a lap around Lake Montibello. I've always admired the houses on the south side of the lake.

It may be that "Time Will Not Erase The Memory Of Their Deeds", but time is sure erasing the memory of Memorial Stadium.

This is where Debra lived when we started going out. There was an excellent video store in the basement.

The Homewood Deli was across the street, which was very convenient for breakfast. Now it's a Ledo.

I headed north from Charles Village up to Mount Washington. This is the ghost bike (what there is of it) for Tom Palermo, on Roland Avenue.

At this point, I decided to start doing more riding, and less stopping and taking pictures, so I could get in 75 miles before it got dark. I forgot to move the lights onto the Campeur, so I had to get home before dark. I headed west from the city on Smith Ave to Old Court Road, through Woodstock, and out to Marriottsville Road. I decided to ride Folly Quarter Road and Shepard Road, which I've never ridden before, but my cow orkers recommend. This is a very nice ride, but you will eventually end up in Clarksville and have to figure out how to get home. And you will be confronted with stuff like Cedar Lane here by the interchange with MD 32.

Eventually, you find the Columbia bike trail network, which is familiar ground. This is Lake Elkhorn.

When I got to Montgomery Road and Lawyers Hill Road, I was a mile from home, and still had five miles to go to get my little badge on Strava. So I went down Hunt Club Road, to South Hanover, and through the obscure short cut on Pine Ave to get to the railroad crossing on Hanover Road. From there, Race Road and up the other end of Lawyers Hill was just long enough to get the little badge.

This was a very nice 75 mile ride, which took 7 1/2 hours, at a comfortable pace. 4200 feet of climb. This is the longest ride I've taken on the Campeur, and the longest ride I've taken on an upright, non-recumbent bike since 2001. I'm very stiff and sore now, riding that long is way easier on a recumbent.

Monday, July 27, 2015

First Bike Tour for Max and for the Campeur

Max and I did Max's first bike tour this weekend. We rode out a ways on the C&O Canal Towpath, camped, and rode back the next day.

Here we are after the first day's ride of 47.2 miles.

And here we are after the second day's ride, of 47.1 miles.

We started at the hostel across the river from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The hostel is on the Appalachian Trail, and you can stay inside or camp in the back yard. We camped. The hostel is very nice and relaxing. It's an old favorite. There was a screech owl whinnying outside our tent as we fell asleep.

This is the first time riding the Campeur loaded. I have new panniers ordered to match the rando bag and the saddle bag. So for now I am using my old Ortleibs, which are about 10 years old. I had to take about a dozen luggage tags off them with Debra's name on them, from past trips to RAGBRAI.

To make this a good test of loading up the Campeur, I brought everything we needed and then some. I wasn't sure how far Max could go, so I brought full cooking gear and food for dinner in case we didn't make it to a restaurant. Also, sleeping bags and Thermarest pads for two. I think I had about 40 pounds of stuff.

The Campeur did great. It is very stable and comfortable, and the Velo Orange racks are rock solid. I have a touring triple crankset with a 24 tooth granny ring and a modern 12:36 triple so I had no trouble climbing anything, even the very steep road up to the bridge to West Virginia to Shepherdstown for lunch. That climb was at least 12%. Once we got to the top, we realized there is a nice easy bike ramp on the other side of the bridge.

Here we are crossing in to West Virginia for lunch.

Which was at the Blue Moon Cafe, and it was very nice despite how Max looks shellshocked. I think he always looks like this after a tough climb.

Here is Max at Dam 4.  We took lots of breaks and read all the signs.

Dinner was at Tony's Pizza in Willamsport. This was not great. Max is not happy. There are not many choices in Williamsport. Max is having a real bike touring experience. Food is not always great, and your butt hurts, which he pointed out to me about twice a mile.

Here is our campsite, at the hiker-bike site a couple miles above Williamsport. There was one other bicycle tourist there when we arrived. After we got the tent set up, a barred owl swooped into the tree right over our head. He hung out there for a half hour or so, then spent another hour in a tree in the center of the campground, before flying across the river.

Unfortunately, awhile later, two local couples showed up. The women were obese, the men were shirtless, bearded, and sporting mullet haircuts. In no time at all they were arguing and screaming profanities at each other. Then one of the women vanished into the woods, probably to check on her meth lab. This is what Williamsport is like. Max and I hid in the tent. This is sad, because he was having fun discussing bike touring with the other camper until then.

The next day, we had breakfast at the Sheetz, which is the only choice in Williamsport. Sheetz always hits the spot. Max and I were both very happy with our bagels, although Max's fruit cup was disappointing. We loaded up on snacks for the ride back.

It used to be there was a detour on this segment of the towpath, at an area above Dam 4 called Big Slackwater. The river runs right up against cliffs for a couple miles here, and instead of digging the canal, they just made the towpath, and built a dam so the river was deep enough for the canal boats to go in the river. The detour was necessary since the towpath had washed away long ago. 

But now, there is a nice new cement bike path along the river. I read on a helpful sign or pamphlet somewhere that it cost $19,000,000.

Here we are looking at one of the locks by Dam 4, I believe.

We ate lunch again in Shepherdstown. By this time it was hot and humid, and we were dragging, with about 15 miles to go. An then disaster struck. Somehow Max's foot bounced off the pedal and became entangled in the bike frame and he took a nasty spill. The only damage was a big scrape on the elbow, but there was about a half hour of ranting about how he's never riding that bike again, why didn't I pack any band aids, and I want bike shoes to clip into the pedals. And call Mama to come pick us up.

After about an hour he got bored and continued on the bike. We took more frequent stops to refresh ourselves from then on.

One really cool sight was this dual train bridge at Harpers Ferry. The left span is now a walkway for hikers to cross the river to Harpers Ferry. It is part of the Appalachian Trail. What is really cool is we have a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of this exact bridge with two giant B&O steam locomotives on the bridges.

And while we were there, a train came, so here is our picture of modern locomotives on the bridge.

The bridge is only three miles from the hostel, which includes a giant climb. Max went right up the hill and beat me to the top by about 5 minutes.

Here he is at the end with his wound. The hostel gave us some Neosporin. I bought him some toe clips this afternoon.

So this trip was a great success. I am pretty stiff and sore today. Max says he feels great and is not stiff or tired at all, despite us having to drag him out of bed this morning.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Campeur Pics with Commuting Bags

I've got the bags I ordered for commuting now. They are made to order from Swift Industries in Seattle. It wasn't them who decided they should be purple.

I think the bags look fantastic with the honey leather and grey frame of the Campeur.

I tested them out riding to work this morning, they work great. My work clothes and tools go in the back, and my lunch goes in the front.

I didn't get the decaleur attached until this evening. If you look close, you can see the decaleur is for show, and there is a bungee cord doing the actual job. 

It seems you need a soldering iron to do the job. I don't use a soldering iron very often, and after spending a couple hours looking around for it, I gave up and went to Home Depot and bought a new one. Then there was a huge thunderstorm and the power went out. It was still out when I took these pictures.

Here's a picture of the Campeur on the Fourth of July. Notice how much better the new bags are compared to the nasty old trunk rack I dug out of the basement.

I have 125 miles or so now on the Campeur. It's not as fast and comfortable as a titanium recumbent or anything, but it's really nice. Gun Road is no biggie, I didn't even need the lowest gear.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Bike Day - Velo Orange Campeur

I got a new bike! It's not a recumbent!

The bike is a Velo Orange Campeur, with as much available bling as I could attach to it. It has a kickstand, a bell, shiny stainless steel racks, three bottle cages and a frame pump.

I'm going full retro with this. Note white wheels, downtube shifters, fenders, mud flaps, sprung leather seat, and non-aero brake levers. This is my old man bike. It's geared super low so I can climb up anything, loaded with panniers.

The saddle bag and decaleur bag will be here soon.

I finished putting it together yesterday, and did one short test ride.

 Now it's time to take a bike ride! I'm going to restrain myself and not head for the Pacific coast.