Category Archives: mountain bike

Baltimore Bike Party July 2014 – A Visit From Georgia

Last Friday of pretty much every month I make the trek into Atlanta to participate in Critical Mass, which has been loads of fun.  This time around though, I was heading to Baltimore on vacation, and made sure to schedule my time off to include the last Friday of the month, so I could do Baltimore Bike Party.  This was my first time experiencing the end of month group ride anywhere else but Atlanta, so I was pretty excited to examine the differences.

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The ride started at St Mary’s Park and ended just a a short way away at the Maryland Historical Society, so this particular ride formed almost a perfect loop.  From what I have heard it does not always end so close to where it starts.  I was on the scene by 6:30 and by 6:45 there was already a pretty serious size crowd.

One of the things I dug about the start gathering was that there was repair station set up by Twenty20 Cycling.  There was definitely a lot of action at their table from people needing last minute adjustments and air.  Very good idea to have this included and certainly some great promo for the shop. BONUS LEVEL:  the organizers also posted info about bathrooms for use at the start point.  I like it.

Each BBP has a theme. This month was Boasting Baltimore and Maryland Mania. In addition to seeing a zillion tons of Ravens and Orioles gear, there was at least one person with a giant 3d steamed crab attached to his helmet, and one pink flamingo as a nod to John Waters. Best dressed won some gear from Hill Killer Apparel Co.

Pretty much right at 7pm the ride started.  How about this…the ride has a police escort as long as they do not get a call that supercedes leading the ride.  Yeah, I can support that to the fullness. The ride rolled out to a bunch of “Bike Partaaaaay” whoops and hollers, which would continue throughout the evening, the northern cousin of the “Happy Friday” heard along the way at CM ATL.

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Starting from such a dense traffic light area, the group got separated pretty quickly, and I tried to stay in the front group since I didn’t want to get lost.  We had only gone about a mile when I noticed that there were a LOT more 20″ BMX bikes than I am used to seeing, and you know I love that.

Then the craziest thing started happening. There were these kids riding all sorts of different bikes, most of which seemed to be department store mountain bikes in various states of disrepair, careening THROUGH the crowd at crazy speed, doing wheelies. I mean, looooong coaster wheelies, and then just when you thought the front wheels was going to drop, they would hit the gas and speed up even more. I’ve done wheelies…long wheelies, but never with the reckless abandon that these kids were doing.  But wreckless may not be the right word, because I never saw any of them wreck, never saw any of them have to hop off because they over pulled and came off the back of the bike. They were always teeter tottering on the brink of control, but never went over the line. It was pretty freakin sick.

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One very large contrast to the ATL CM is that about 80% of the riders at BBP did NOT wear helmets.  I don’t really have a point or agenda to state here,  just observing the difference.  Truthfully this ride was so much slower paced than our CM that I can see why people may leave the lid off.  I didn’t.  I really enjoyed how this ride was much more -party paced- and not the faster pace that ATL CM has sort of morphed into over time.  I have no trouble staying in the front group at CM, but I think it may have gotten a little fast  for the folks who come and bring kids in trailers, beach cruisers and such, wanting to support biking in Atlanta but getting dropped very early into the ride.  I feel so bad when that happens.

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The route was pretty cool and we definitely were well received by the folks hanging out outside, having card games, playing loud ass music, drinking booze and being hood. Fuck yeah man, I love my home city, and on this ride you saw things and heard things that you could never experience anywhere else.

Then all of a sudden, in the middle of a park along the way, the whole ride stopped to take a breather at the halfway point.  Wait, what? What a great idea!  There was shaved ice from Hula Honeys and people took the time to be social and conversate.  I even caught up with an old friend who spotted me in the crowd which was super rad.

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The rest stop was just long enough to not be -too long- and soon enough we were on the backside of the ride.  Somewhere not too long after we got going again, we were all stopped at an intersection when about 30 kids on dirt bikes came jamming down the street at a zillion mph, popping wheelies and in general owning that intersection until they were passed. I am not sure, but it could have been the 12 O’ Clock Boys.  The whole spectacle was pretty rad.

By this time it had started getting dark, and I noticed that what the Bmore crowd lacked in helmets they made up for in headlights. Everybody had one, and a lot of people had good ones, not some crappy toytown bizness.  I’m gonna chalk this up to the high number of insane potholes in the streets up here. You wouldn’t want one of them to sneak up on you after dark  for sure. It was a good choice to not bring my roadbike.

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The last part of the route was a long trek down St. Paul street which was a total blast, since it was mostly down hill and the whole group got going pretty fast. Stop lights were obeyed.  Fun was had.

Eventually we reached the end of the ride at the Maryland Historical Society.  The entire ride was less than 9 miles. Here is where the biggest difference between CM ATL and BBP happened…this was a full on after party scene!  

There was a parking lot with some security guards at the entrance.  Once inside there was an area specifically designated for bike parking, but it was a little weird, there was almost nothing to lock your bike to. So, people made the best use they could of the poles  and fence that was available, and there was definitely a lot of creative use of vertical space.  I kept thinking how rad it would have been to have the Atlanta Bike Coalition Bike Valet here.  Baltimore people, if someone isn’t doing a bike valet for big events around town, here is your opportunity to get in the game.

The rest of the lot was filled with food trucks, a dj, and they were selling beer!  Really?!  I love it.  The afterparty scene was super cool. so much so that I would be willing to bet that about 80% of the people who started the ride, finished the ride.  How awesome is that?

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Yeah man, it was packed. Packed enough that the smart money said to buy more than one beer from the beer line, which was a good strategy, but even when I did have to get back in line, it ran pretty fast.  I reaaaally should have tried some of the food from the food trucks. You Atlanta people know how the whole food truck thing has had it’s ups and downs, and they aren’t as ubiquitous in the A as they are in some cities which is too bad.

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As I had said earlier I was pretty stoked to see a lot of BMX representation at the ride, but there was one group who really killed it by bringing out the proper vintage gear.  They were running a Schwinn Apple Crate, two Hutch Trick Stars, a Skyway 26″ and a GT which I can’t recall as a 24″ or 26″ but it was definitely not 20″.  All of these rides were super clean and well done. I talked with the guy in the pic for a while but by this point I had had a few beers so I don’t remember his name. Great crew of people though.

The whole after party scene was just so good.  I was chit chatting bike talk with my buddy and his crew who I had met at the halfway point, and probably could have stayed til they kicked people out, but I had to bail to go meet some other friends. I am imagining that at some point maybe someone got on the mic and awarded the best dressed prizes or something, I dunno.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
When I set out to document my experience at BBP, I wanted to make sure that it did not come off as “Here is what we’re doing wrong in Atlanta”, because we aren’t doing it wrong.  We do it our way, and we love it.  I love it.  But I knew there would be a lot of exciting and fun differences I wanted to relay.  I had a pretty good idea of how it would be from following the BBP facebook page, and it was definitely what I thought it would be and more.  The ride here reminded me a bit more of  The Mobile Social back home. I guess the reason that I used so much comparison to CM is that since  BBP happens the last friday of the month, to me it came across as “Baltimore’s version of Critical Mass”.

 

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Cherokee Bluffs Park to get Mountain Bike Trail.

Cherokee Bluffs Park is a 200 acre park here in Flowery Branch, Georgia which is currently in development.  Yesterday it was announced that the park would definitely be getting a mountain bike trail. From the article in the Gainesville Times:

“The approved plan allows IMBA to conceptualize the trail system, flag the pathway and train county workers to properly construct mountain biking trails. The cost of the project will be $16,729, of which $5,000 will be paid for by IMBA with the remaining amount provided by the county through the special purpose local options sales tax and impact fees.”

“One of the things we’re really excited about is that this trail would include some riding on exposed rock surfaces, which is unusual for trails in Georgia,” he said, “and it is not going to be backcountry riding in the wilderness either.
“It’s going to be an urban, neighborhood interface.”

I think what he means by the “Urban Neighborhood Interface” part is that the local McMansion burbclave called “Sterling on the Lake” butts practically right up against the park, but I’d hardly call it urban.  Much of the exposed rock in the park is less than a mile from civilization though, so I am thinking that his remark may mean that you wouldn’t expect to encounter such a feature so close to the road, houses, etc.

You can view a preview tour of Cherokee Bluffs Park here.

BONUS LEVEL: I live less than 2 miles from the park. I can easily ride TO the trails right from my hut.

DOWNSIDE: Not looking forward to all the mid life crisis crew from Sterling that will no doubt clog up the trails with $6000 carbon dream machines and technicolor kit covered with sponsors they aren’t actually sponsored by. As a low budget soul rider I just can’t help but feel the scorn directed my way when these guys pass me on my hoopty  of a mountain bike.  I hope we can all get along.

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Ringle’ Quick Release Lever – The Talisman

ringleBottleOpener

Pictured above: My Ringle’ Quick Release Skewer/Bottle Opener / Talisman.  Here is how I got it.

Sometime around ’92 or ’93ish, me and the rest of the crew from Golden Ring Bicycle Shop headed to Interbike Bicycle Trade Show and Schwag Accumulation Event which was either in Atlantic City or Philadelphia the year we got these awesome artifacts. I’ll just go ahead and admit my memory is a little fuzzy since we always used Interbike as an excuse to get pretty wasted the night before. Anyway, whichever year this happened, here is how it went down.

We were walking around collecting a zillion tons of literature, stickers, water bottles and all the free stuff that the manufacturers give awar at bike trade shows, when we came upon the Ringle’ booth.  Zillions of sweet looking parts were on display, in typical early nineties anodized glory, and some dude was giving out these “Bottle Openers”.   The guy who was giving them out was kind of a big dude, and at some point we overheard him telling another attendee…”I’m Geoff Ringle” and I am the testing department as well as the company namesake. If I can’t break it then it is strong enough for us to sell.” I may not be exactly precise on the wording here, but that was the point he was getting across, and believe it when I say he def looked like he could destroy some parts. We were kind of stoked to be talking with the man himself, since Ringle’ parts were all the rage that year. We all got out samples and kept on pushing on.

Since then this little unit has been my trusty beer opening companion for over 20 years and still going strong! Actually, it has worn down quite a bit, and I have to work a little bit to get it to open a brew these days, but I will always give it a try before I opt for some cheaper, less meaningful mode of beverage enabler.  This is because I am convinced that every time I use this on a beer, I get a little boost of good luck.  I never go on big rides without it.

I’ve stayed in contact with the other brothers from “way back when” at the bike shop. If I remember correctly, I may be the last man standing who has one of these from our group.  I hope theirs served them as well as mine has.

I got out of the bike business in 1995, and sort of lost track of what happened to most manufacturers, and I am almost sure that Ringle’ got bought out by a larger company.  Here is an ad from the company when they were in their heyday:

192Ringle

To see a much more thorough collection of Ringle’ history, head over to the MOMBAT Bicycle History Pages (where I copped the ad image from thanks folks).

 

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Georgia Proposed Bicycle Legislation HB689 Meeting – What I Saw

HB689 is a bill proposed by 3 Hall County Georgia lawmakers (Rep. Carl Rogers and supported by Reps. Lee Hawkins and Emory Dunahoo, all Hall County Republicans) that would require all bicycles in the state to be tagged and registered for a $15 fee, would limit riders to 4 at a time single file with 50 feet of space between groups, and would allow authorities to deem any road they they see fit to be off limits to bicyclists.  Needless to say there is huge opposition from the cycling community. Tonight there was a public meeting about the bill which I attended.

bikeMeeting

The room packed out completely, I would estimate about 300 in attendance.  There was a brief introduction and then people from the audience were allowed 3 minutes to speak. The first speaker delicately took the side of motorists, and genuinely seemed concerned for the safety of the cyclists and herself. Then the cycling crowd began to rock the mic one by one.

The most exciting part of the meeting happened when a gentleman named Robert Wilhite spoke at length very passionately and got the crowd fired up, then was asked to stop speaking as he was over his time limit.  He tried to make his closing point but was asked again to stop, to which the assembled crowd started chanting “Let Him Speak”.  Mr. Wilhite did sit down but the crowd continued to voice their displeasure with him not being allowed to close.  Then a security gaurd stepped over to Mr Wilhite, who had sat down and was complying with the instruction to not conclude his speech.  But for some reason, as the crowd got more and more vocal, the security gaurd ended up removing Mr. Wilhite from the meeting.  I doubt he was arrested as he was complying with their demand. I hope he wasn’t anyway.

More speakers took to the mic and there were some very good points raised.  Two speakers actually raised the point that I had hoped for all along, which was that we as cyclists need to realize that we aren’t always setting the best example, and that there are loads of cyclists out there who take the “Share the Road” mentality to mean that they can just ride however they want to and motorists should deal with it.  This is a horrible attitude and does not promote a sharing atmosphere at all.  Examples were given about how cyclists could be more courteous and also how their actions could be interpreted as smug and defiant.  It was great when someone pointed out that almost every cyclist in the room was ALSO a motorist and that we have all witnessed bad form by cyclists when driving.  You may not like that but it is true.  Each commentor that brought this up left the room with words of encouragement to NOT be that kind of cyclist as it ends up contributing to the polarizing effect.

One of my favorite speeches of the night was by a lady who I believe represented a tourism organization in Lumpkin County. She made excellent use of her time by providing examples of how fantastic the Six Gap ride is to Lumpkin County financially, citing 2600 riders in attendance from 31 states. Then explained that since this legislation has been introduced that she has been fielding messages from out of state participants who are concerned that they’ll have to tag thier bike in order to participate in the ride at risk of being ticketed. It really made an impact on the room when the issue got down to losing dollars because of legislation that was not well thought out.

The speech with the most impact though, happened early on in the meeting.  A man used a visual aid to illustrate the group ride that he was in this past weekend which had 32 riders riding 2 abreast.  The length of the entire group was 111ft, a manageable length for a car to pass providing the road allowed for it to be done safely.  Then, with the help of another participant, he brought out a visual aid of that same ride adhering to the specs of the bill…no more than 4 riders to a group with 50 ft between each group. People started applauding as the visual aid kept unrolling and unrolling, eventually stretching across a large section of the front of the room, representing the 638 feet that the group would now consist of if adhering to HB689.  No single moment of the night illustrated the absurdity of the bill as well.

Several other great points were made by advocates of the cycling community, including one great suggestion that the pocket cycling guide from georgiabikes.org be given out with each new bike sold in the state.

Another interesting moment happened when Jim Sysfan spoke.  Mr Syfan is a local businessman and has been largely regarded as the source of getting the representatives to write the bill.  He began by apologizing to the crowd if he had gotten any of us upset.  He made a comment that resulted in a heckler from the crowd shouting rudely, trying to make a point that money was some sort of factor in Mr Sylers influence.  The heckler would not reveal; his identity when pressed, and truthfully, it was probably for the better.  Mr. Syfan continued, and was obviously very nervous in hostile territory, but tried to make a point that the reason for his involvement was because he was concerned for the safety of the cyclists.  Unfortunately he was not able to strongly make his point and ended up coming off like he was backpedaling  on his stance.

I left the meeting before it concluded, and at the time of writing this I am happy to see that  Rep. Rogers concluded that the point of the bill was to get everyone together and begin a dialogue, and that since that process has been accomplished, nothing more will be done on HB689 and the bill will be pulled in the morning.

Congratulations Georgia cycling community, you have done yourselves well!  Let’s all do our part to make the roads safer for cyclists and motorists alike. 

dontread

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Bicycle Upgrade Funtime – Ye Olde GT Talera

For a while now I have been wanting to put some purple handlebars and purple cable hangers on ye Olde 1993 GT Talera. I finally got around to ordering the parts, so my big project for the weekend was to make the swap. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’d much rather be riding my bikes than working on them. After 7 years of working at a shop a zillion years ago, I learned that what I really like is to get the thing set up right once and then ride the crap out of it, as opposed to switching parts all the time, which was more my thing during the BMX days.

Right away I ran into a major unforeseen problem. I had stupidly ASSumed that the shfters were a separate component from the brake levers, similar to how they are on my mountain bike.

WRONG!

LucyShifter580

Lucy Does Not Approve Of One Piece Brake Shifter Combos

I sat there looking at the thing forever, trying to figure out a way I could saw it in half, but that was’t going to happen. It was pretty evident that to complete the mods, I was going to have to buy some new shifters, which I wasn’t looking forward to/ We are talking about a 20 year old bike, so I was really anticipating compatibility issues.

Since I already had the thing apart though, I figured I would move on with what I could do, which was to revers the positioon of the stem so it was angled downward, and put on the new bars. This whole operation went pretty smooth, including the part where I removed the logo from the side of the stem so I wouldn’t have to ride around with a bunch of upside sown lettering.

stem

The next day, and a few internet searches later, I found that they had a 7 Speed SRAM Grip Shift at my local REI, so I headed over there and grabbed it. I would love to have put some under bar shifters on, but the idea was to do these mods without ending up in the poor house, so I opted for the Grip Shift which was ridiculously inexpensive, and hoped that if I set it up correctly, that it would work better than the sloppy feeling versions I remember from BITD.

I was pretty stoked to be able to work outside since for the first time this year the sun actually came out here in Georgia. No seriously, all it has done all year is rain, and if you don’t believe me, check the records. BUT ANYWAY, working outside is fun, much better light and all, so I loaded up the surgery cart with my gear and got ready to dig in.

surgeryCart

First was the front shifter and brakes. Everything went smooth as glass. The new anodized precision cable hangers are SO RAD! Total Overkill. It is the kind of piece that most people will not even notice but heads will know.

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Rear shifter and brakes also went silky. Taking my time and paying attention to the details really helped this Grip Shift perform much better than I thought it would.

rearHanger

Overall the whole thing turned out pretty much exactly the way I envisioned. A few people have told me that adding all the purple anodized parts is very 90’s, which is fine sith me since the bike is 20 years old. Period Correct. To me it is like a modern version of a Rat Rod type thing…the beat up old frame hung with a bunch of upgraded parts, wheels, etc. I love this bike, so much SOUL!

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Oh Yeah, I Got Some Tricked Out BMX Brake Levers Also, And Added Purple Anodized Barrel Adjusters. Another Touch For The Pays Attention Crowd.

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Shimano 8speed to 7speed Spacer Issue: Hall of Fame Level Cheap Dirty Fix

Got a new set of wheels for my beater bike, Ye Olde GT Talera, which is a thousand years old and still jammin.  Seriously, I love that bike, it is so weird.  So Thursday night I was stoked when the wheels arrived and I could finally remove the one with the giant flat spot from that pothole I hit at Atlanta Mobile Social.

The new wheels have an 8 speed freehub, and Ye Olde Talera is a 7 speed, so I ordered the appropriate space from Bike Island  as recommended. Dove into the install and immediately found that the spacer was way too big! It was big enough that I couldn’t even get the  lock ring to catch the threads.

Bummer.

I put all the tools and gear away, and headed in to see what I could find about getting a smaller spacer, which was pretty easy to find, but I just couldn’t let the issue go. I had to WIN. It was the kind of day where a bunch of crap had happened that sucked and getting the wheels put on was going to be the redeeming element, there was no way I was going to give up that easy.

Then I got an idea. A -possible- solution. So crazy it just might work. So I headed out to give it a try. I’ll let the pics do the talking from here…

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Yep.  I used a freakin coat hanger to create a makeshift spacer…and it WORKS!

A few notes.  The cassette I have is very old, the original from the bike. I’m pretty sure that newer cassettes as completely flush on the back of the big cog, as the connector pins are recessed. At least that’s how they are on my SRAM cassette on my mountain bike, so I figure Shimano must be doing the same.  This particular cassette has pins that are like rivets, I don’t know if they are removable, but they ad about 3/4 mm to the stack size that butts against the inner part of the freehub.  This contributed to the problem, and is a factor in the makeshit install as well.  In the places where the rivets bumps are the coat hanger wire is bent inwards a bit when they line up with one of the “hollowed out” portions of the freehub body. You can sort of see this at the top of the pic with the yellow arrows.  As far as I can tell this han’t caused any alignment issues at all, it spins straight and shifts fine.

My rig is awesome but it will be temporary. The wire has the potential to pop out if the circumstances are correct, and I don’t want to take that chance, o I ordered a proper spacer, just to be safe. Overall though I was pretty happy since I WON, and I’ll actually be able to use the bike this weekend. Ordered some wicked new Kool Stop brake pads also…upgrades are fun. Cantilever pads are increasingly hard to find, unless you want clunky black uncool bricks.

So Ye Olde talera now has actual round wheels again. Truthfully these wheels are a little much for this bike (bladed spokes? cmon now…), but the price was good and hell, why not trick it out, I love this bike. Still haven’t decided whether I’m going to remove the stickers from the wheels or not…they kind of mess up my vision of a totally murdered out blackity black ride, but at the same time they are kind of growing on me. I’ll decide in a few days. Comparison below.

TaleraB&A_NewWheels_edit

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Wind Battler, Charleston Park Cherry Poppin, & St Patty’s Day Hillbombing

First weekend of 2013 where the temps here in Georgia were reasonable enough to allow riding in shorts and short sleeves.

I started it off Friday afternoon with a Wind Battler.  Truthfully, it was not very fun.  Tried some new roads that turned out to be pretty lame overall.  The whole time I was fighting a crazy headwinds it seemed, and I had no energy at all.  The tailwind on the ride back to the car didn’t do anything to redeem the ride. It was so bad that later I went out to Little Mulberry Park to just have an easy spin and try to shake the bad vibes. Ended up riding there after dark, which was fun. At a certain point I kept seeing “leaves” in the middle of the trail, then I noticed that they weren’t leaves at all, they were frogs or toads (dunno which).  Managed to actually get a decent camera phone shot of one, which kind of made a crappy day of riding a little better.

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Saturday I met up with a few riding buddies at Charleston Park. It was the first time any of us has ridden there, and according to the SORBA forum posts about the trail, it isn’t actually officially open yet.

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This was the maiden voyage for Mershon’s new GT Zaskar 29er w a 2×10, and about the third time out for Jay on his Cannondale.  The trail system (about 5.5 miles) looked pretty rad from the map and and we were all pretty excited. I figured we would do it at least twice.

Right away there were issues.  The first 1.5 to 2 miles of this trail are exactly the kind of terrain none of us have been riding at all through the winter.  Lots of quick dips and sharp short but very steep climbs. We all headed in a little over zealous, and the trail quickly knocked us all down to size.  Brian hasn’t been riding much at all through the cold season, and Jay and I have been doing lots of road work with long but gradual grinders of climbs, so short bursts of quick energy just killed us all.  About 2.5 miles in Jay has a big problem with his shifting on the rear, which we could not work out via a trailside repair (more on this later).

The trail started to get a bit  more likeable at this point…longer swoopier sections without so much of the rapid ups and downs.  Jay was at the same place I was the day before though…just no energy coupled with mechanical issues…so by mile 3 it became pretty much a mission of just getting back to the car.  We stay together when riding a new trail for the first time so we stopped a lot to get the group back together.  Mile 4 to 5 was a blast…really wicked downhill sections and I was jumping everything, being an ass powersliding into turns, and hllering a lot. yeah I like to holler when I ride. Must be the beers.

Once we made it back to the car, it was decided that we would transfer to the much more tame Haw Creek, just to log a few more miles. I’ll head back to Charleston Park for a double or triple at some point but today was not the day.

bentCogs_edit

Haw Creek was just flat, loads of loose dirt now that our area has stopped being the rain planet.  Jay had a corner get away from him on his singlespeed rig and ended up with the first and only blood of the day. Brian opted for a single loop, Jay and I did a double.  Haw creek is ridiculously  short and tame, but hey, we’re not pros and we’re not trying to be.  We’re okay with that.

I did the second pass at Haw Creek on Jay’s mis-shifting Cannondale, thinking I could dial it in while riding with the barrel adjusters, but it just wouldn’t work. After the ride, once we got the bike on his car rack, he noticed that the top cog on the rear was BENT!  Check out how the cogs are squashed together at the bottom of the pic compared to the top.  I have never seen that before. Well, now I have. The folks at REI said they had seen it a few times when jay took the bike in to have it replaced.

All in all, in spite of the troubles, it was still a pretty fun, but short day of riding.

stPattysDayRide2013_edit
Sunday, I headed to Jays hut for what I thought was going to be a casual chill road ride,  just to get past the  record setting amount of beers I drank from the night before.  Turned out to be quite a bit different. Couldn’t help laugh that I had actually done all my weekend drinking before St. Patrick’s Day proper. There would be no beers today. I did manage to wear some green though.

We headed out and about 2 miles in Jay says “Around the corner is a hill I have wanted to do but last time I tried it I didn’t make it.”  So of course we headed that way.

It was a pretty decent hill, and it set the tone for the whole rest of the ride. Since we were going UP a lot, we were also going DOWN alot, which meant a bunch of rad hillbombing around Roswell GA.  Lately I’ve been digging geting tucked down aero as I can in the drops and hitting light speed on descents, then staying in the big ring little cog as far as  I can powering up the next side.  This ride had a zillion sections just like that.

We eventually crossed to the other side of the Chattahoochee River and headed down a cool side road towards a ranger station/park entrance.  It was on this section, just towards the end of the road, that we encountered the sickest climb section of the day.  It was hellish, and I had to resort to the full granny.  It was only about 1/4 mile, but it was 8% avg grade and at the tail end a series of lengthy grinders that left you with just enough of a descent to catch your breath before you hit the wall.  After that, the Welcome Center / Ranger Station provided a much needed break.

scottyChatty2013

The way back was awesome though, more crazy highest gear spun out hillbombing in the drops.

All in all it was a great weekend of riding, and it looks like this summer I will actually be able to count on doing some rides with Jay and Brian, as opposed to the last few years which have been pretty much solo.  It’s hard to find folks for me to ride with because most people are waaaay faster & fitter than me, and those that aren’t tend to be waaaay slower.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’m not quite at the level yet where I can confidently join up with one of the local group rides, but I’m def ready to step things up some and start riding the big boy roads and trails.

Easing in as I would say.

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Haw Creek Micro Air

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Little bit of air at Haw Creek during last Sunday Beer-n-Bike. Higher, further and more style as the year progresses, seen?

Instagram & Twitter @RobertAshton

let’s go riding.

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Haw Creek Trail Strava Leaderboard Fun

After riding haw Creek with my buddy Jay today, I hopped on Strava because I always like to see the elevation map, even if there isn’t a lot of elevation change on a ride. I was kind of suprised to see that during one of our loops today (most likely the first) I ended up 9th out of 29. I’m not fast, but I’ll take my kudos where I can get ’em, and Strava leaderboards have been a fun way to gauge how well I’m doing.

Here are some interesting things about this particular stat though:

  • Haw Creek is NOT a hard trail by any means, it is short, wide and easy. The only real difficulty is a few very rocky sections and a bunch of off camber hairpin turns. But it is under 3 miles and no -real- climbs (IMHO). HOWEVER, we have been pounded by rain here in GA for a few days, so at the moment the trail is very muddy, slow, and has a few sections of straight up standing water.
  • I did not feel like we were going particularly hard today, and would have guessed we didn’t even place on the leaderboard since it certainly wasn’t a goal.
  • But the craziest thing is, the route we rode was actually about a mile (probably more) longer than the times segment! Check out the graphic below to see a comparison of our route VS the timed segment.

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Why is our route different / longer?

As I said, Haw Creek is not a hard trail, or a long trail. In order to make the trek there worth doing, Jay and I like to ride the extensions marked in pink on the lap above…one is a short section with wooden bridges up to Samples Road, and the other is a climb up a gravel road then along Echols Rd and around the fire road of the high school…a section which actually includes one of my fave climbs, a short but steep “out of the saddle” hill back up from the school which I always try to blaze up as hard as I can.

So, now I am wondering…what will happen if I go back when it is bone dry, fast trail conditions, and straight up time trial it, without the extensions? I’m thinking I could move up a few places. I’d like to crack the top 5. hell, I won’t lie, I’d like to be FIRST if even for a little while, on an easy trail.

That would be kind of RAD!

Bonus: On our third loop, I used Jay’s single speed old school StumpJumper, which was alot of fun. It’s running 36/18 and I had no trouble with any of the hills. Very fun. Of course, I want a single speed now.

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