Ride Report: 07.12.14

Another beautiful Saturday morning.  Of course I got a late start, at least later than planned, due to sitting around drinking coffee and surfing the net.

Eventually I took off for Boiling Springs with the thought of sitting on a bench and reading for a bit.  I also had it in my mind that I just wanted to see other bikers this morning as well – ‘not sure why.  The Boiling Springs route is always guaranteed to produce quite a few roadies, especially on the weekend.

Sure enough, once I got over to Williams Grove they were out and about.  Plenty of waves and smiles, but a few who were busy matching their own pace to the Tour leg for the day.

??????????????Boiling Springs was perfect.  I sat on a bench and people watched for a spell, then I read a few chapters of The Perfect Mile, which I’m re-reading.  Great stuff and I sat for too long enjoying the morning.

My trip back was uneventful until I got to the corner of Gettysburg and Grantham.  A woman came around the corner in her car, on her cell phone, and shouted to me: “You better move on, there’s a black bear right over here coming this way.”

…like I’m going to move on from that…

I rode through the intersection and pulled out the camera.  Another car came around slowly and blocked my view just as he came through the bushes onto the roadway.  I got a glimpse of his shoulder and side, but couldn’t tell if he crossed or was scared back by the cars sitting there.  He was big, and I was impressed by how clean and shiny his coat was.  This guy was far cleaner than any black bear I’ve seen, either stuffed or in captivity.

There were news reports all weekend of this wayward bear, and that was my big excitement for the weekend.

Coming back in Siddonsburg Road, with a bit more light this time, I stopped to snap this pic of the root ball that I mentioned previously.  It’s just unusual to see one this big:??????????????Homeward bound.  Another near perfect ride.

Misc. Miles: 2

Distance: 38.5  2014: 412.6

Ride Report: 07.09.14

No storms tonight so I ventured out for a nice ride broken up with some time reading “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.”

There is wind damage all over the place: trees down, crews working, some areas still without power.  Yet, life goes on and people seem to be taking it all in stride.??????????????Brenneman Road was closed off, but I decided to take my chances.  I ended up “doing the limbo” to get through where this tree came down on some power lines.  It was too dark for a picture, but there is a massive root ball (10′ round) at the base of a fallen tree at the corner of Seitz and Siddonsburg.  It looks like the tree just brushed the house – could have been much worse.

Misc Miles: 10

Distance: 17.2 miles  2014: 372.1

I Couldn’t Help Myself

For $10 with free shipping this little isobutane stove was calling out for an impulse buy.  It should work out fine as a light weight alternative to the Eta Packlite, but also a bit more heat and duration than the Esbit.

100 ml cannister

100 ml cannister

My only wish is that the legs weren’t quite as big for storage.  This may call for some customization at some point!??????????????


Both the LHT and now the X Bike have NGear Jump Stops installed.  In each case, the work was precipitated by instances of a hard down shift into the granny gear, but the chain overshooting and becoming wedged against the bottom bracket shell and the crank rings.

Jump Stop photo

Jump Stop photo

They’re very inexpensive, really easy to install and adjust (allen wrench supplied) and do exactly what they are supposed to do.

I suppose one could argue that the overshooting chain was due to a mis-adjusted front deraileur screw, but I prefer the insurance of not getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a tight chain.

Dremel Tools are Dangerous

Last night was really muggy and I had some house matters to deal with, but afterwards I pulled out the parts box and tried to solve the front deraileur issue on the X bike.  Of the spares that were on hand, none provided the clearance needed between the seat tube and the tire.  After staring at things for a bit and mentally taking measurements, I decided to “customize” the one that was already on the bike.

In short, this meant destroying a 30 year old perfectly functional Shimano Deore 600 with a Dremel tool.  I ended up cutting off about an inch of the cage so that when properly positioned for the 44t ring, it would clear the chainstay.  ??????????????I bent the front plate to create a chain catcher, but it’s not supported by a connection to the rear plate.  I don’t know if I’ll need to address that later or not, since for now the shift is very smooth and accurate.

The other minor modification was to replace the allen head cable bolt with a shallower phillips head.  Between that and dropping the FD by 1/2″, there is now about 3/8″ clearance between the swingarm and the tire.  Not much, but alot better than it was.

So I’ll continue to play around and still install a Jumpstop once it arrives, but it looks like this bike is getting closer to launch.

Ride Report: 06.30.14

Between longer rides on the LHT, I’ve been toodling about on the X bike, trying to get it dialed in as a trail tourer.  My biggest gripe was the gearing.  The 48t big ring was fine with the drop bar setup, but was just too high and too big a jump with this configuration.

??????????????Over the weekend I picked up a 44t big ring to finish the conversion to a true mountain triple with pretty low gearing.  The good is that it feels much better with both the overall gearing in the big ring, as well as the transition from moving from middle to big.

The bad is that now my front deraileur is all wonky since its meant for larger rings.  It would only lift the chain into the big ring if I was also in a fairly high gear, although things did improve a little as the ride progressed.  More concerning, though, is that I’m getting rub against the tire when in the middle ring because of the short chainstays.  I have a bottom pull mountain FD that I’ll try to mount up and see how that works.

When out on the ride, I was impressed at how “steady” the bike felt.  The big tires create this sense of sure-footedness, and the tread whirring along the pavement sends the message that we’re ready to take on some rough stuff.  The bike sure isn’t fast, but there is still this constant forward momentum feel, even while taking pretty steep hills.  It’s like a truck in 4 wheel low gear.

While taking one of those hills, I managed to downshift and completely miss the granny, getting the chain tight between the BB.  I futzed with it, but it was pitch black and I forgot that I carried a small Maglight in the stem bag.  Since I was only a mile from home and it was mostly downhill, I just coasted halfway.  Then when I got off to walk up a hill, I heard the chain gingerly drop back into gear, and finished up riding the last leg.

I need to get this deraileur issue sorted out, and I think installing a Jumpstop like is on the LHT will help, but I like that this bike is so fun to ride.

In other news, Red has been having some sciatic issues that look like she might finally have some progress with treatment, but she is thinking that riding might be better for her than walking.  Last night I pulled out the Marin, pumped up the tires; and then we took a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood.  She really enjoyed it, so I’ll be encouraging her and perhaps we can motivate each other.

Misc. Miles: 3

Distance: 6.7 miles  2014: 344.9

Ride Report: 06.28.14

Saturday morning just proved itself to be a great morning for a longer ride, but I was concerned about overdoing it with too many hills.  That’s when the thought of cruising over to Lattimore Park popped into my head, which is a fairly level route with only a few short climbs.

Traffic was a little heavy at first, but then cleared off as I got more out into the country.  It’s proving to be “flat critter” time on the roads of central PA: flat ground hogs, flat possums, flat skunks, a concerning number of flat snakes, flat racoons, a flat red fox, and most interestingly, flat birds.  Two flat crows, a flat blue jay, and a few flat sparrows.  I spared you any pictures, and I’ve perfected holding my breath while riding, given the odor that usually accompanies a flat animal in the mid-summer heat.

When I got over to Lattimore, where I intended to stop and read for a bit, I was greeted by an antique tractor show.  It consisted of mostly old guys walking about and communing withe each other, and I’d say 100 or so old tractors, many of which were restored to pristine condition.  It was early, and there were still trucks and trailers showing up.  Within the crowd were some really old cars, some steam engines, and quite a few oddities like the lawn tractor that had been modified with a pair of car seats so Ma and Pa could cruise around together.

I have to admit that I enjoyed myself walking around snapping pictures.  Below are just a few of my favorites.

Too much time on his hands.

Too much time on his hands.

I like everything but the name.

I like everything but the name.

The color stood out - something a little different.

The color stood out – something a little different.

Still around today.

Still around today.

Oliver - my personal favorite.

Oliver – my personal favorite.

Distance: 36.6 miles  2014: 335.2