Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sol Returns

The sun was out today and the wind was calm. A great day to ride.

We received 3" of snow on Sunday morning. The roads are mostly clear, but this evening the sun and salt melted roads re-froze as the temp dropped below 20.

My rear derailleur froze today - the brifter lever would move, but the derailleur would not move. I was able to wiggle it free and when I got home I sprayed WD-40 in the joints. Has anyone had that problem before?

Happy riding!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day ride

Santa was kind to me this year, he brought me a new Brooks B-17 saddle. I've heard a great deal about these saddles for a long time and Santa delivered.

For my Christmas Day ride today, I covered my new saddle with two plastic bags to keep it dry.

We had a white Christmas very early morning, but temps overnight in the mid-40's with a great deal of rain washed and melted away our snow.

Half-way through the ride it started to rain again. I wore cotton stretch tights beneath my ski wind pants. The wind pants are not waterproof, so near the end of my 23 mile ride my legs were getting quite cool.

I rode down to New Haven, then jumped on the Rivergreenway and rode towards Fort Wayne. The Park Dept. plowed this stretch of trail, and it was nice to ride without worrying about cars.

Although the rain was quite heavy at times during the ride, I was glad to have the chance to get out.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Happy riding!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's no ride like snow ride

We received 3 inches of snow overnight. Went for a ride in the snow this morning - the first real snow ride I've ever done. I've ridden on dry roads with snow on both sides, but not a full-out ride in the snow.

Here's the Cedarville Reservoir. The weight of the new snow has pushed water up from around the edges of the ice. There's about 4 inches of clear, strong ice on the edges - plenty for ice fishing now.

Snow on the twigs and branches looks beautiful.
One thing I found is there are certain conditions that make for difficult riding. The open tire track here is fine for riding.

This grey snow is packed and partially melted snow - it is very difficult to ride on. The front wheel is very squirrelly in this stuff, making going straight very tough.

Scraped road surface, packed and frozen, is no problem at all. I had good traction, and could ride almost as fast as on dry asphalt. The interesting thing is this surface is slippery to walk on, but the new Nokians had plenty of traction.

This deep snow riding was no problem either - plenty of traction and it was fun to ride in. When I say deep snow, it is only 3 inches deep. I could only get up to about 9 1/2 mph in this stuff.

Snow packed itself in the brakes.

And in the derailleurs and in the wheels. I rinsed everything off with hot water. After everything melts off in the garage, I'll wipe off the chain and put some lube on it.

This happens to be my 100th post. Thank you to all of you folks who follow this blog and make comments. I've learned a tremendous amount from your blogs and comments.

Happy riding!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Park and Ride

Perhaps one of the best ideas I've had in a long time is to drive part way to work (it is 19 miles), park my truck, bike the rest. The only problem is there are very few places to park where my truck will be allowed to remain for the day. I think it was Steve A who said that commuting is about time, not mileage. I agree, it takes me up to 1 1/2 hrs to ride 19 miles to work, so I want to reduce my commute time in the cold and the dark by driving part way.

I parked today at a public park - the only place where I'm sure my truck won't be towed. There are a couple of public access sites for boating where I can park, but when the snow gets deep, these areas aren't plowed. There are a couple of nature preserves where I could park also, but the park will be my first choice. There are no stores, malls, or other areas with large parking lots on the way where I can park.

I did get my new studded tires today, so I will be mounting them tonight for the ride tomorrow.

Happy riding!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Commuting About to Begin

Ever since grade school, I've never ridden much in the winter. It's not because I don't like winter, because I really do. It just never struck me that riding a bike in the winter would be a good thing to do. Ice hockey, ice fishing, cross-country skiing were things I liked to do in the winter.

But thanks to many of you people who keep riding through the snow and ice and blog about it, I think I'll give it a try. I've been riding here and there after work and on weekends when I can find the time so I can get used to the idea and to figure out what clothes to wear.

Today I ordered some Nokian Hakkapaliita W106 studded snow tires for my Tricross, from Peter White Cycles in New Hampshire. Penny said they would be here Monday or Tuesday, so my winter commuting will begin soon.

Tonight I rode past the Cedarville Reservoir (it's right behind the bike). It was a balmy 20 degrees, and the wind is down to only 10 mph, so it was very nice compared to the howling winds we've had since Wed. morning.

Anyway, will keep my posts coming regarding my winter commuting.

Happy riding! Stay warm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blowin' In The Wind

We missed the big snow, but have big wind now. Sustained wind is at 35 mph with gusts to 60. Temp is at 29, but is dropping quickly now. Didn't ride today because of the ice on the roads and the big wind.

I hate the strong winds. Should be over by Thursday morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snow

We received the first measurable snow of the year - about 1 inch. Did not ride to work today (haven't for three weeks now). I was thinking of riding this morning, and charged my light battery for the commute. But with the snow and slick roads (no studded tires yet), I unplugged the charger and got in my truck.

One day soon, I'm tellin' ya, I'll get back on the bike to work plan. I did ride a little yesterday (Sunday) after supper and had a good time. This weekend was a work weekend on two of the public disc golf courses. Of course, being a disc golf junkie, I managed to get in several rounds.

The nice thing about this time of year is the temperature is staying cold enough now to freeze the lakes. Ice fishing soon for Bill! Some people are out already, but I take great pride in staying on top of the water.

Happy riding!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Like My Bike!

I rode my Tricross today for the first time in 3 weeks. I've been doing short rides when I had a little time on my Schwinns - the Continental and the LeTour III. I really like the Schwinns, but I had forgotten how much I like my Tricross. I rode 32 miles this afternoon, the last 21 miles in moderate rain. But with the cold, the wind, and the rain, it was still glorious to be out on the Tricross again!

Just east of my home is a horse pasture that the owner had just spread some fresh horse manure from the barn. These ring-billed gulls are recycling what the horses couldn't digest. A farmer friend of mine told me that if you want to use manure in your garden, always go with beef manure - their 4 stomachs, along with regurgitating and re-chewing their cud effectively kills most of the weed seeds in the forage they've eaten. Horses only have 1 stomach like us and their stomachs don't kill very many of the weed seeds.

The harvest is almost over for everyone one around here. The grain dryers were running at every farmstead I passed today. The corn this year was exceptionally wet, right up to the end of the harvest.

Here's the mighty Maumee River heading to Lake Erie. Actually it is more genteel at this point, it gets mightier closer to Toledo. We are east of New Haven here, looking southwest toward Fort Wayne.

Hope all of you were able to get out on your bikes this weekend.

Happy riding!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Day Ride

My riding and my blogging have suffered lately due to my kitchen project. Since Alex and I were hosting T-Day Dinner, the kitchen project has consumed most of my non-work and non-sleep time.

Happy to report the project is almost complete. Here's a shot with the cabinets going up.

Couldn't have completed the job without help from the family beast.

Here's the mostly completed kitchen. Still need to put up the trim at the top, light over the sink, and toe board. But, worked perfect for Thanksgiving Dinner prep.

After T-day Dinner and after company left, I headed down to Shoaff Park. Shoaff Park is on the northeast side of Fort Wayne. The city is completing a trail connection from the Rivergreenway all the way to Shoaff. Here is the trail where it meets the Shoaff Park loop road.

On around the soccer fields the trail winds.

After winding for a short while along the St. Joe River, the trail dumps on to Washington Center Road to cross the river, then will travel down the towpath to the Wabash and Erie Canal Feeder Canal. The high-tension towers are located in the canal itself.

On the towpath.

Yours truly. I started the growth when I started the kitchen project 3 weeks ago. A little whiter each year.

At the Hefner Soccer Fields and the Plex, Indiana-Purdue University has installed a couple of these signs.

Here's the cross-country route. The Plex hosts many cross country races for middle schools, high schools, and colleges.

The McKay Family sold or donated the family farm to IPFW for use as an athletic complex. The old forage barn is still standing, the only structure from the farm still standing. I hope they restore it and keep it.

The old moldboard plow which tilled the soil here for years and years now looks out of place.

A little ways down the trail to California Road is a new bridge across the St. Joe leading to the IPFW campus.

I don't know the Ron Venderly Family, but think their bridge is awesome!

Heading back to the Plex and Shoaff Park, I noticed this mass of Asian Bush Honeysuckle spreading throughout the forest floor (the low growing shrubs with yellow and green leaves still on the bushes). ABH is an invasive shrub in this area that grows in forest understories and crowds out natural forest regeneration.

Here's the road entrance to the Plex.

After crossing over the Plex grounds again and riding up the towpath trail, it empies onto Washington Center Road. I don't know how the city is going to safely encourage trail users to cross the bridge here. This is an incredibly busy road most days, especially at rush hour.

I am very thankful to have the opportunity to ride on these new trails, among many other things.

I hope all of you out there had great Thanksgiving Days also.

Happy riding!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indian Summer Ride

Alex and I took the afternoon off from working on the kitchen project to ride the Rivergreenway out to the new Towpath Trail. It was a magnificent day, mostly sunny, 69 degrees, and a gentle southwesterly breeze.

I took Big Orange today, my Schwinn LeTour III that I converted to a fixed gear. I recently wrapped the handlebars with a used inner tube, then used some spongy tape from Planet Bike on top of the tube wrap.

Here's the new trail that connects to the new Towpath Trail. Although this section is not called the Towpath Trail, this is where the Wabash and Erie Canal once flowed. It has since been filled in. This is the grand portage between the Great Lakes and the Wabash River which flows into the Mississippi. This was a very strategic location early in the westward expansion of our country.

Here's Alex and the end of the trail

On the way back we found this sign posted next to a small bridge that crossed a section of the canal still in place. I didn't see any trolls.

Hope the weather was good for all of you out there today!

Happy riding!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In The Kitchen

Since last Saturday, I've been under a self-imposed ban from cycling so I can renovate our kitchen. We live in an old farmhouse (124 yrs old), and the kitchen hasn't been updated since the mid-50's. We thought it was time to do something, so we ordered some cabinets. It was then I realized how much work was ahead of me.

Progress has been really slow until recently. Ripping all of the old plaster and lath from the ceiling and walls was the dirtiest, dustiest thing I have ever done, and it took a lot longer than I thought (4 days in all).

I'm doing the electrical and plumbing myself, and have that completed now. No leaks so far.

I have a couple of friends who are good at drywall, and they are helping me with that. Once we started drywall, progress has been good. Above are the two walls left to do, and below are the two walls and the ceiling we have already hung.

The weather has been perfect for cycling all week, but I wanted to stay focused on the kitchen. The new cabinets come early this next week, so we should have the drywall all taped and mudded by then, if all goes well. Unfortunately, I return to work, so I will only have evenings to hang the cabinets.

It is amazing how life revolves around the kitchen, especially the kitchen sink. I didn't realize that until I started this project. How we miss that old kitchen sink. But in the end, life will be much easier and cleaner, since we will have cabinets for all of our pots and pans, plastic food containers, cycling maps, ride flyers, pegs to hang my cycling clothes, etc. You get the idea.

Well it is morning and daylight is burning, so back to the drywall with memories of the road to spur me on.

Happy riding!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Auburn Trail

At lunch I've been riding a new trail the City of Auburn Park Department is building. I keep my Schwinn fixed gear bike in the back of my truck. Today I took a video using my camera. I held the camera with my right hand and held onto the brake with the left. It's pretty bumpy, so if you get seasick easily, don't click on it.

Over the past few weeks, the entire length has been topped with limestone gravel and much of it has been compacted and is ready for asphalt. A section of the trail behind Rieke Park has already been paved with asphalt.

I believe this segment will be called the Rieke Park Trail. It is a part of the old New York Central Rail Line. The state of Indiana claimed the 150 mile right-of-way some time ago, but last year divided up the trail and gave each segment to the county/municipality in which it passes.

By following this trail to the end, it is a short hop east on Betz Road to a bike and walking trail along old US 27 that connects Auburn with Waterloo, Indiana. From my office, it is about 5.4 miles to Waterloo.

View Rieke Park Trail to Waterloo in a larger map

Nice to see some progress on the trail front in NE Indiana.

Happy riding!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunny Day

The sun came out today and farmers are able to get into their fields to cut their soybeans. Sorry for the crappy picture, but this is the first time I've been able to capture my shadow in over a week (clouds and rain).

Happy riding!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

LeTour Fixed Gear

I didn't bike commute at all last week, but I took my Schwinn LeTour III fixed gear conversion with me each day and rode at lunch. One of the nice things about having a pickup truck is I can leave the bike in the back and ride from different starting points.

This afternoon I rode from home out to the Van Zile bridge on my fixie. I've been riding it more lately than my Tricross.
It's fun to ride, but it's a much different ride. The frame is very comfortable, but the saddle, well, it sucks. It was the saddle that came with my Tricross, which I promptly replaced. I need to wrap the handlebars - I have the tape, but want to put something under the wrap to make the bars more comfortable. Thanks to Myles, I think I'll use old innertubes for the base wrap, then put the other tape I have over the top.

On the way home, I passed this hot air balloon taking off from the park in Leo.

I like winter, but I really miss the warm weather. Not quite used to putting on layers to bike.

Anyway, hope all of you out there are having good rides!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Editorial Comment

Parade Magazine ran a bike-related article in this morning's paper. Columbia, Missouri's Mayor Hindman is to be commended for his efforts to make his town more bike friendly. I believe the simplicity of his message is the secret to the success of such an investment in Columbia's bicycling infrastructure. His message is attractive for people no matter what their political persuasion.

Mayor Hindman has identified three big problems our society faces:

1) Reliance on foreign oil
2) Childhood obesity
3) Life isn't as much fun

If we are to advance our pedal-pushing so that our cities and counties and states make places safer and more convenient for us to ride (and of course encourage everyone to bike!) then it is important that we identify and repeat messages like Mayor Hindman's to our lawmakers that are politically neutral.

We have much to gain if we keep our messages simple and appealing to everyone.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kuwahara Fork Problem Solved

After some fiddling around, I think I've gotten my Kuwahara fork bent back in to shape. Here's how I did it.

I started by bolting the fork to my workbench using u bolts - 1 1/2" for the steerer tube, 1" for the fork tubes.

Notice how the bearing cone extends beyond the steerer tube. I hand-tightened the nuts on the u bolts so I didn't bend the steerer tube.

After the nuts were all hand-tightened and very snug, I began bending with a 4' long piece of 2" dia PVC pipe. I used my right hand near the end of the pipe and my left hand on the work bench. If you decide to do this at home in this same manner, beware. It doesn't take very much effort to bend the fork. I wanted to bend only a very small amount at a time so I didn't over bend and have to bend back. I believe over bending and bending back will weaken the fork.

I used reference marks on the workbench to check my bending progress.
To check my progress, I placed a straight edge along the fork tube first on one side, then the other.

Doesn't look like much space here at the top of the steerer tube.

There's loads on the other side. I split the difference and measured from my reference marks near the drop outs. More bending to do.

I actually had to bend the other side - the side I thought was the non-bent side. I bent that in slightly toward the center, and pulled the bent side out again very slightly.

There, now the measurements are equal on both sides.

I had to do a little bit of bending to get the fork ends to be equal (level) on the front-to-back axis.

Then, the last item I checked before declaring myself done was to measure the drop out spacing. Perfect.
Fits like it should now.

One last item - since the fork had been bent, and I did more bending to get it back to close to factory condition, but not quite, the fork drop outs are not parallel. They should be parallel so they don't place too much stress on your front axle, and especially your skewer. A broken skewer equals broken bones or worse. Be careful. Take the fork to your local LBS to see if they have the whereabouts to fix this problem for you.

I did put the fork on my bike tonight and rode for a little bit. I can now ride no-handed on the Kuwahara!