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.