Category Archives: Ride Reports

Buffalo Valley Rail Trail

I finally got a chance to ride on the brand-spankin’ new Buffalo Valley Rail trail.

BVRT Sign

We started at the Lewisburg end of the trail, and headed west toward Mifflinburg.

BVRT map

There’s a bathroom and a parking lot at the Lewisburg end.

BVRT Bathroom

The trail is really well done. It’s paved for about a mile or so on each end, and it’s crushed limestone in the middle.

The scenery is about what you’d expect. Lots of farms, old Mennonite ladies hanging laundry out to dry, cows, etc.

Cows

The railroad ties are still piled along the trail in a few places. The tracks were torn out only recently.

railroad ties

There are a few interpretive signs along the way.

Sign

The trail was really, really busy. I was starting to regret that my cross-check doesn’t have a bell, because the herds of pedestrians might have benefited from a bell. It doesn’t really feel right yelling “on your left” to old ladies.

We played leap frog with this contraption most of the way.

Burley Tandem and Weehoo trailer

It was piloted by a couple towing their granddaughter in the trailer. The grandfather told me that the granddaughter has logged over 100 miles so far this year in the WeeHoo trailer.

When we made it back to the parking lot, Klinutus asked me to pose for some action shots for a photography class he’s taking. He was experimenting with motion blur or some such thing. Anyhow, the pictures came out pretty well. My Cross-Check and I are stunningly handsome, if I do say so myself.

Me and my Cross-Check

Me and my Cross Check

Anyhow, it’s a really nice trail. You should go ride it before winter sets in.

Read all about it at BVRT.org

Bald Eagle s24o

The Sloth and I did our annual fall s24o this past weekend (fourth year in a row!). Somehow, we managed to pick the coldest night of the year for our camp out. It was the first time I’d been on a bike in two months. Hauling camping gear around the mountains after a long time off the bike is probably not a good idea, and my legs were shot shortly after we started.

We stopped by this covered bridge to take a picture or two.

Covered Bridge

A couple of miles later, we crossed into the State Forest.

Entering the woods

We had a big mountain to climb to get to our campsite, but it was starting to get dark. We wanted enough daylight to gather a big pile of firewood, since the forecast was for cold, cold, and more cold. I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the site before dark, so we started to look for any good site we could find.

Signs

We couldn’t find anything suitable on the north side of the mountain, so we climbed (haha, we walked) over the mountain, and rode down to our site, just as the sun started to go down.

camp site

When we got to the site, we discovered that the forest spirits had blessed us with a big pile of firewood, left by some previous campers. The only downside was that the wood was soaking wet from the recent monsoons and freak snow storm.

It took a long time and an Esbit tablet, but we got a fire going.

Fire!

Good thing, too. It was miserably cold. The forecast was calling for 26 degrees, but I call bullshit. I didn’t have a thermometer, but it was cold. Cold enough for stream to come off your pee. And that’s cold.

I experimented with cooking and making hot cocoa with an alcohol stove. Alcohol kind of sucks in the cold, but I eventually had a hot dinner and a big hot mug of hot chocolate. I later figured out that you need to keep the alcohol in your pocket so it stays warm.

We had the traditional bullshitting session around the campfire until it was so cold we couldn’t stand it anymore, and so we went to bed.

With the early bedtime and daylight savings time nonsense, I was awake by 4:30 the next morning. I got up and made a pot of coffee. After I finished my coffee, I got cold again, and got back in my bivy. I laid in my bivy, looking at the stars for about an hour. I saw 4 shooting stars, and thought that it was pretty nice not to be in a tent, even though my bivy and Thermarest were glazed over with a nice heavy coating of frost.

Frost

Sloth got out of his tent to go pee, and said it was cold. He went back to bed, and declared that he wasn’t coming out until the sun was out to warm thing up. I stayed in my bivy and kept on looking at the stars until the stars went away and the sky turned blue.

Dawn

I decided to go have some breakfast, but my cliff bar was frozen solid. So, I made a second pot of coffee, and dunked it in the coffee to thaw it out. This actually turned out to taste wonderful, and I think I’ll keep dunking my cliff bars in coffee even when they’re not frozen from here on out.

At long last, the sun came up over the mountain, and actually started to warm things up. Sloth got out of bed to make some oatmeal, while I wandered off into the woods to dig a cat hole (this is a wild campsite without facilities).

Sunrise

We broke camp, loaded the bikes, and were on our way and rolling down the mountain. It was a nice long descent. I was flying down a gravelly road on over-inflated 35mm tires, and I think my brains almost got rattled out of my head.

When we made it to the bottom of the mountain, I looked down at my handlebar-mounted GPS to see how fast we were going.

CALAMITY!

GPS was no longer there! Must have rattled loose on the way down the mountain.
My legs were already beyond fried at this point, and there was no way in hell I was riding back up the mountain to look for it. I honestly would have been lucky to make it back to the car (which was less than 10 miles away). So, I had to radio for a rescue.

Klinutus and Evil sister came and picked us up, found the lost GPS, and shuttled us and our bikes back to the starting line.

Instead of the 20 miles we had planned for day two, we rode about 7, and then ate gigantic cheeseburgers.

As we exited the cheeseburger establishment, we saw a young lady eyeballing our bikes. She said her dad was a frame builder in Philly, and that she liked touring bikes because most people ride hybrids.

Sloth and I are reasonably convinced that this mystery woman’s father is Bilenky, but neither of us had the presence of mind to ask, and didn’t want to come across as strange frame builder groupies. She was impressed to learn that we camped out, and told us the official temp was around 24 degrees that night.

I think this makes the coldest night I’ve ever slept without a tent or mummy bag.

For those of you curious about gear:
I was under a JRB Mt. Rogers quilt on a Therm-a-rest neoair, inside a cabelas XPG bivy.

I was very comfortable with this setup, except for my head, because my hat kept falling off.

This was a fun trip, and we’re even considering doing a second one this year; possibly in the Tuscarora State Forest.

Update:
The Sloth has written up a more entertaining account of our adventure on his site.

Ride: Nancy’s D-Lite

By way of training for our proposed Metric Century, Sloth and I did a ride yesterday. Sloth found a book of routes / maps / queue sheets from the Harrisburg Bicycle Club. (They also have some of these online as PDFs).

Anyhow, we picked out what looked like an easy one – 17 miles of gently rolling hills outside Mechanicsburg. The route was titled Nancy’s D-Lite. I don’t know who Nancy is, but her route was very nice. There was probably less than a mile of roads with any traffic at all, and the scenery was good.

What few hills we had were short, and generally not overly steep. I was very proud of myself for not walking any of them, AND not shifting down into the granny at all.

We stopped somewhere in the middle to take really blurry cell-phone pics, which look especially terrible when stitched together as a panorama.

Sloth and Bikes

Anyhow, it was a nice ride. Just tough enough to make my legs a little tender today, but not so bad that I was totally worthless for the rest of the day. We passed several full-zoot lycra-clad roadies, with the requisite crabon bikes and STI, etc. Sloth and were keeping it real in full retrogrouch style. I had lugs and barcons, sloth was rocking 650b wheels and downtube shifters. We both had shiny metal Velo-Orange fenders. Despite our being the classiest fuckers in the whole county, the roadies mostly waved or at least nodded at us, instead of looking at us with sneering derision as they so often do.

It was only 17 miles, and we have lots and lots of longer rides to go on before we’re ready for 63 miles, but it’s a start. I gps logged the whole thing, and here’s a map of it, if you’re familiar with Mechanicsburg.


Nancy's Delight

Anyways, we have lots more queue sheets to pour over. Maybe we’ll try a 20-25 miler for next time.

No more dick-monkeying around!

Bald Eagle Ramble

For the past two years, The Sloth and I have undertaken overnight bicycle camping trips in the fall. We did the Pine Creek Rail Trail in 2008 and 2009. This year, we decided to mix things up a bit, and did our ride on the gravel forestry roads in the Bald Eagle State Forest.

I grew up a few miles from where we were riding, so I was already pretty familiar with the area. We planned a 20-ish mile loop Saturday, and a shorter loop for Sunday, with R. B. Winter State Park as our base camp.

We got kind of a late start on Saturday. It was probably around 1:00 before we started up the first climb out of the park.

It was about a 3 mile climb to the top of the first mountain. Even with my 17 inch low gear, I ended up walking some of it. At the top of the climb, there was a gorgeous view of the mountains all dressed up for fall.

My bike at the overlook

Overlook

I forgot to bring my camera, and I shot these with my cell phone, so that’s why they kind of suck.

After catching our breath at this overlook, we had about 5 miles of mostly downhill riding through the Spruce Run valley. A wild turkey ran across the road in front of us, but that was the only notable wildlife sighting.

Rolling down to Spruce Run

Then we had to slog our way up Running Gap, where I stopped to refill a water bottle out of the stream. No filtration needed. It’s nice that there’s at least one place on Earth where you can drink the water straight from the stream.

After the long ride walk through the gap, it was a long, mostly gradual uphill back to the park.

About a mile from the end, we stopped off at another overlook to take some pictures.

Overlook At R. B. Winter State Park

We rolled into the campsite just before dark, where Klinutus and my evil sister were waiting for us. They brought us some cupcakes, of which we were in dire need.

After we finished off the cupcakes, we decided that our freeze dried camping food didn’t seem very appetizing, so we drove into town and got a pizza.

By the time we got back to camp, it had gotten really cold out, and we had no firewood. So, I lit my candle lantern, so we’d at least have some light, and we sat around the picnic table and drank coffee and talked a load of bollocks until late in the evening.

The next morning it was freezing cold. Sloth emerged from his tent and discovered he had forgotten to bring anything for breakfast.

Calamity!

So, we packed up our stuff and drove into town for the manly farmer’s breakfast buffet at Ard’s farm market.

The breakfast at Ard’s is delightful, but it’s composed almost entirely of grease. With a gut full of grease, we decided to bag the 15 mile loop we had planned for the day, and drove back to Harrisburg with all due haste, before gastro-intestinal misfortune could strike us unawares.

So, only 20 miles for the weekend, but they were good, hard miles. Probably worth at least 50 rail trail miles.

Sloth has a few more pictures on his Picasa.

(For those of you reading this on the OpenStreetMap Blog aggregator, I traced the whole thing, and added the campground we stayed in to the map.)

Saddle Experiment

I went on a longish ride today to test out this setup: a Brooks b 72 with noodle bars.

B 72 with noodle bars

In the interest of scientific inquiry, I did not wear any sort of padded bicycle shorts. Just regular underwear.
I had to stop a couple of times to fiddle with the tilt, but it seems to work.

I rode from the Elizabethtown trail head of the Conewago/LVRT trail to Cornwall and back. It was about 31 miles in all.

I found these raspberries growing along the trail.

Raspberries growing along the trail

I ate some. They were good.


They were good.

A few miles later, I had to stop to pee, and suddenly realized that I was going to pee on raspberry bushes if I wasn’t careful. Hopefully, the berries I ate were not peed on by somebody else, but I guess I’ll never know.

Thoughts like this occupied my mind until I got to Mt. Gretna, where I stopped to indulge in narcissistic self-photography.

Some Handsome devil at the Mt. Gretna Spur

I marveled at my rugged good looks for a good long while, and continued onward to Cornwall.

At the turn-around point in Cornwall, they have this ridiculous gigantic root beer barrel thing in the parking lot.

Giant root beer barrel at Cornwall Trail head

Root Beer Barrel plaque

I stopped here and had a lovely chat with one of the volunteer trail patrol guys. He had a really thick Pennsylvania Dutch accent (said he was a Brethren), and so it’s possible that I misheard him, but I think he said that the Stony Creek rail trail has been extended eastward all the way to Pine Grove, and that this part is paved.

I’ll have to go check it out sometime.

He was a very talkative fellow, and I probably spent an hour hearing stories about his time as a sniper in Vietnam, his political opinions, and many other such matters.

It was starting to look like rain, so I took my leave of my new friend, and headed back the way I came.

I stopped in Colebrook for some refreshment.

Ice Cream!

This is the world famous Colebrook Twin-Kiss maple and walnut sundae. Guaranteed to cancel out all the calories you burn on your bike ride.

After my ice cream break, the rain held off, and so I stopped to say hello to these ladies.

Who farted?

By the end of the ride, my butt hurt. But, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did with the B17. I was able to ride in the drops with no problems.

I’ll have to give it a try with my padded breeches on and see how that works out.

Sore Arse, Flat Tires, and Ice Cream

Girtong and I planned out a lovely morning of bicycling today. We would meet up at the Elizabethtown trail head of the Conewego Trail, ride out to Colebrook for some ice cream, and ride back.

Girtong texted me at some ungodly hour of the morning to report that his bike had a flat tire, and he didn’t know how to fix it.

I threw some patches and the floor pump in the back of the car, drove down to the trail head and taught him how to mount a tire.

So, off we rode into the wilds of Lancaster and Lebanon Counties, and arrived at the ice cream shop around 10:30, only to find that they didn’t open until 11:00. Calamity. We decided that sitting in the parking lot for 30 minutes would be silly, and so we kept riding a few miles past the ice cream shop to kill some time.

We made our way back to the ice cream shop, got our confections, and headed back to the car.

Colebrook Twin-Kiss

Around this time, my butt started to hurt pretty bad. In fact, on just about every ride I’ve been on since my accident, my butt has been hurting something fierce. The accident led to my spending two months off the bike, and so maybe my butt isn’t “broken in” enough yet, and I should just tough it out. Maybe the accident screwed something up down there. I know that the two months off the bike have added several pounds to my belly, and now there is more weight pressing me into the saddle when I ride.

Whatever the cause, the situation is not acceptable. The Brooks B.17, for all its strengths, no longer works for me. I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of the B.17 and noodle bars on my Trek, and going with a B.67 and some Albatross bars. I have that configuration on the Roadster, and it’s pretty comfy, but I really don’t want two bikes setup in more or less the same configuration.

So, I’m going to try something maybe a bit nutty. I’m going to try moving the B.72 from the Roadster to the Trek, and keeping the noodles on it, to see how that works out.

But, that leaves the Roadster without a saddle.

So, I ordered one of these:

Brooks B 190 Saddle

This is the great and mighty Brooks B.190. It’s the biggest, springiest saddle Brooks makes. It’s ludicrous. It weighs four pounds. It’s about the size of an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper. But, I think it will make my butt very happy.

The UPS man should be dropping it off on Wednesday, so I will have make another ice cream run Thursday night, and see if my butt makes out any better.

Codorus s24o

I went on another s24o with doc and sloth this weekend. We met up at Doc’s house and threw our bikes and camping supplies in the back of his truck for the ride down to the YHRT trailhead.

Around this time I remembered that I had forgotten my tarp poles. Not really a big deal, I assumed I could find a few sticks in the campsite to set up my tarp with.

So, we rode down the YHRT, stopping at Serenity Station for some lunch.

Me riding my bike

After lunch, we had a few more miles of rail trail before turning off into the real world. I was a little nervous about this part, because I was the one who mapped out the route to the campground, and I did so without any real knowledge of the area. I just looked up the topography view on gmaps, and tried to steer us around any big hills, while simultaneously keeping us off busy roads. Luckily, I was pretty successful. We had a few hills, but nothing horrible. Traffic was also pretty minimal until we got close to the campsite.

The route from the rail trail to the campground

A few miles before the campsite, we had some weather. It rained on us for maybe the last 2 miles of the ride, but once we got to our site in the “Timberdoodle Roughin’ It Area” of the campground, it had mostly stopped.

We decided to pitch our shelters before making dinner, in case it started back up again.

As I had forgotten my tarp poles, I had to make a little expedition into the woods to look for some sticks. The only sticks I could find were a little on the thin side, and a wee bit rotten, but they only had to hold a few pounds of tension, so I guessed they would serve.

My tarp, setup with rotten sticks

After dinner, sloth poured a small vial of olive oil into his little cook pot. He lit up a second Esbit tablet when I asked him what he was up to. “popcorn!” He said. He was going to try to make popcorn over an Esbit tablet. It was the wackiest thing I had heard all day, and I was not optimistic about the odds of successful popcorn popping.

I was wrong. It did work, and the popcorn was pretty good. Luckily, Doc snapped a photo of the popcorn with the still-burning Esbit stove to document this achievement, as nobody would have believed it otherwise.

Popcorn over an Esbit stove

After dinner, we had some festive beverages, and a bit of conversation before turning in for the night.

About an hour after bedtime, it started raining. Hard. It rained pretty much all night long, which was kind of nice, because it chased the bugs away, and I was having some insect issues in my open tarp.

Just before dawn, I had to get up the answer the call of nature. I noticed that my tarp was much closer to my face than it was when I went to sleep. Nylon stretches when it gets wet, so the whole tarp had lost a good bit of tension and there was water pooling in some of the low spots.

As I was walking back from my trip to the potty, I briefly considered tightening things back up, but I figured we would be getting up for breakfast soon anyhow. Then, calamity struck! I tripped over one of the guylines, and one of my rotten little sticks snapped in two! The whole tarp came crashing down, dumping water all over my camping gear.

I therefore decided it was time to get up. I got my breakfast sorted out, and my camping compatriots were stirring soon thereafter. We were underway in a stiff drizzle by 8:00 or so.

We returned to Serenity Station for a second breakfast, and made the final push up the rail trail towards York.

At around the 50 mile mark, I was feeling pretty tired and lightheaded. Then I beheld a truly amazing spectacle. A penguin had waddled out onto the trail maybe 100 feet in front of us. This was very disconcerting, because penguins are not indigenous to this part of Pennsylvania. I asked my companions what manner of animal that was up ahead. They reported that it was a cat. It still looked like a penguin to me, but in a few seconds, it changed direction, and then I could see that it was, in fact, feline. A black and white feline, but a feline to be sure. I don’t know if I was just really tired, or if maybe Serenity Station puts hallucinogens in their breakfast omelets.

At any rate, we were soon back in downtown York, covering a total distance of 55 miles for the weekend.

Despite the rain, the tarp failure, and the hallucinatory penguins, it was a lovely time. I can’t wait to do it again.

Gifford Pinchot S24O

Last weekend, I did an S24O with Doc, and The Sloth, some of Sloth’s neighbors.

When I arrived at the Sloth residence, it seemed to have turned into a bike shop of sorts.

The Lovess Bicycle Emporium

Turns out he was putting a bike together so some of his neighbors could come along. Once all the bikes were packed and ready, we headed out through New Cumberland, and into the hills.

Oh, the hills. They were steep, and evil and ugly. And I walked up more than a few. After several miles of misery, we came upon a small country store, and got some gator-aid. I also bought some oatmeal-cream pies, because Kent Peterson is my nutritional role model, whether he likes it or not.

At any rate, the hills smoothed out (slightly), and we ran into Doc near the entrance to the camping area. This is Doc’s Trucker, all loaded up.

Doc's Bike

Our campsite was nice and scenic, but there really weren’t very many good places to put tents. State Park campgrounds are notorious for their hard, compacted ground. I only brought a RidgeRest to sleep on, and it wasn’t very comfy on the hard ground.

I was testing out some new gear on this trip. I had a Jacks-R-Better Stealth Quilt. It’s a cool piece of kit, because you can use it as a sleeping bag, and as a Serape to keep you warm while you futz around in the campsite. Dual-use items save pannier space and weight. It got down to around 37°F That night, but I was mostly warm, even though the stealth is supposed to be a summer-weight quilt.

The Sloth's Bike and Tent

I wore the stealth as a serape in the morning, while making breakfast and whatnot, and it was very cozy, if somewhat unfashionable.

At any rate, after a somewhat sleepless night on the hard ground, we rode back the way we came. Pausing several times to catch our breaths on the tops of hills.


A rest stop at the top of a long climb

At the end of the ride, we found that all the exertion had given us a hankering for burritos, so we made our way out to Neato Burrito to recharge our batteries.

All in all, it was a fun trip. I think I’m going to get one of those fancy new Therm-a-rest NeoAir mattresses for next time. My hips and shoulders were sore the next day from sleeping on the hard ground. Guess I’m getting old.

Doc and Sloth have both written up trip reports, so go and read them for some more insightful commentary on our adventure. Sloth is already hatching plans and schemes for another S24O sometime next month.

Crash!

A bunch of people noticed in my Dailymile widget, that I was involved in a collision with a car on yesterday’s commute. At some point, I’ll probably write a big long story about the whole thing, complete with navel-gazing about the meaning of the universe, etc.

In the meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been typing a thousand times in response to a thousand emails from lots of lovely people concerned about my well-being:

  1. Are You OK? – As far as I know, yes I’m ok. I’m going to see a doctor tonight tomorrow, just to make sure. Mostly just scrapes and bruises. It was 20 degrees out, and I had a few layers of wool on to cushion my fall. :-)
    Update: — Doctor says I’m ok, but I’m not supposed to ride bikes for at least a month :-(
  2. What Happened? – I don’t really want to publicly divulge all the details, just in case for some reason all hell breaks loose and the driver ends up suing me for scratching her bumper with dynohub shrapnel or whatever, I don’t want some lawyer using my own blog against me in court.
  3. What about your bike?– Front wheel (shinamo dynohub) totally destroyed, front fork really badly bent. I don’t know if the fork can be fixed or not. Rest of the bike seems ok, but I haven’t really given it a good look.

    Update: — Took the fork over to Pedal Pusher. They said fixing a fork would be totally unsafe, but were not able to find a suitable replacement in their pile of spares, or from any of their suppliers. Fired off an email to Ozwald, to see about having a replacement custom-made.

  4. Where did it happen?Here. About a mile from home.

Route J is not so scary

I live about 10 miles away from BikePA route J, which makes it the closest piece of “official” bike infrastructure to my house. I’ve never ridden on it before, because it’s just a bunch of signs on a really busy 5-lane highway, and I was afraid of getting run over by a semi.

I was feeling reckless today, and I braved the fog and drizzle to gave it a go. It’s not nearly as scary as it seems from a car. The shoulders are about 10 feet wide, and separated from the traffic with a rumble strip.

The 10 miles of 11/15 between my house and where route J starts is a terrible, no-shoulder piece of highway, so I drove to the Haldeman Island Wildlife area parking lot, and rode from there.

Haldeman Island Wildlife Management Area

“Wildlife Management Area” means it’s a place you can go hunting for ducks and geese in the river.

My bike on the bridge to Haldeman Island

Anyways, I rode north, past seedy motels, porno shops, and truck stops.

Stardust Motel - $38 / night!

I didn’t get very far before the rain started coming down pretty hard, so I turned around at the Clemson Island Wildlife Management (goose hunting) area.

Clemson Island

I’m glad this route isn’t as scary as I thought it was. I think there’s a picnic area a few miles north of where I turned around. I’m going to try to find it next time.