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Archive for March, 2010

After finishing a scheduled appointment in Elkins, I pulled out the cross bike that I ever so conveniently stashed in the vehicle the night before and headed off to complete the Elkins to Parsons section and turn around. I had been on the rail-trail once before, with a friend of mine, and we pedaled at blistering speeds. he ended up taking a corner in the gate sections too hard, and ended up crashing.

I’ll sadly admit that I also hit a car barrier when I clipped one of palisades with my MTB handlebars, and ate dirt; it was not a pretty sight. To my defense, my handlebars were (I’m guessing..) 76 cm apart, when my handlebars were 60 cm wide… Yeah…

This most recent ride on my cross bike with 42 cm wide handlebars made cruising all around a breeze. Little hesitation was taken for slowing down for these barriers, and I was fortunate enough to not see another bicycle on the trail the entire time. This parked Jetta was as close as I came to passing another two-wheeled object on the trail:

There were many people jogging and walking on the trail, and even a family pushing their gaggle (three) baby strollers along a paved section. Being on the rail-trail is a desirable thing not only of exercise, but due to the scenic nature and geographic variety along the way. Most of the path follows the river, and you also ride past a lot of farm land with different kind of animals; I like making noises at the cows… but they too often run away in response :( Several spots along the trail were also carved out of a hill or mountainside, displaying jagged rocks, or layers of history to be seen and appreciated.

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The photographic opportunities on the rail-trail are limitless. I only brought a Kodak Zi8 portable webcam with me, but I was still able to get some great footage/shots of the area around me:

Video:

Macro:

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This looked like I could eat it! :o Spring Garden Mix, I say!

Bike Photo-ops

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Right before reaching Parsons, you come across a small industrial complex with the smell of pine, then you see a mountain of sawdust and wood mulch. It might have been the biggest mulch pile I have ever seen in my life…. I want to say it was 9 to 12 meters high, it was ridic. This was all behind closed gates for the Kingsford corporation! That’s right! The little charcoal briquettes that people use for campfires are made in West Virginia! This alone was worth the trip!

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I finally made it to Parsons, and I know this by seeing the Sheetz. Several people replied to my question of “What is there in Parsons?” by saying: “Sheetz.” I’m sure there are more interesting places to go and visit, but my lycra-clad self wasn’t interested in romping around off the bike for too long.

The ride back to Elkins was met with strong headwinds which were more demoralizing than anything. I was ready to get back to Elkins and scarf down some Taco Bell. Since it was an out-and-back, not too many things were worth highlighting or speaking about that were not yet covered. I did see a creepy old waterworks plant with an open door. I was tempted to go in, but there might have been some Parsons equivalent of Crazy Carson in there or something…

I also saw another place which I swear had to be a crack house or something. There is always a nice Nissan 350Z parked by it, but the trailer is so crappy looking… Must be a meth dealer or something :o

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All in all, the ride was great. The terrain is very forgiving, and about 1/5th? of it is paved. Pace on a mountain bike can be kept at about 24 kph, without overexerting one’s self. I would suggest anyone looking for a good recovery ride to come and try it out; or if you are wanting to make a day out of it, ride all the way to Thomas!

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Hah, the title reeled you in, no?

While going down the rail-trail in Elkins, I was cruising along and kept riding past old farmhouses with tons of crap laying around them. I thought to myself

This would be a great area for the American Picker dudes

Lo and behold, I end up just pacing myself faster and faster without noticing, all while pretending to be Mike Wolfe and freestyling all over that rail trail like there was money to be made. It was a blast.

Take a look at some of these dumps!

Is that a TV outside???

This isn't a beater, Its a classic! >.>;;

Gold Mine :O

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With the weather heading south for the past couple weeks, this was only a good thing in preparation for testing out my new cyclocross bike build. In the immediate area there is not a large cyclocross scene, so a friend of mine, and I went out on a path with the muddiest and rutted roads we could find.

My friend that I just spoke about is completely what you would call a retro-grouch; that is if he had a bone to pick with modern components. He loves the look and design of many new things, but his older, more familiar bicycle components leave him with enough satisfaction without an upgrade. On this ride, he’s on a 20+yr old frame with a downtube shifter for the front derailleur, and a bar-end for the rear… such an amalgamation of parts. Heck, he even had fenders on this bike. :o

Off we went to some abandoned county roads that have not seen tar & chip, or asphalt in quite some while; the bike took care of it with no problem. I was very hesitant on the descents, being the first ride on this bike, but everything was fine once I warmed up to it. The Hutchinson Bulldog tires were satisfactory everywhere they should have been. Attempting to stand up and pedal while on a 12% incline had some wheel slippage included, but with the tires inflated to 4 bar, I could not blame them.

Here is a prototype video I did with Google Earth of the ride.

The course took us through some pretty interesting terrain; I’m pretty sure we crossed through more streams than a typical MTB ride through the area. At 48 km, this was not a long ride if classified as a road ride, but this was trail riding on a cross bike, basically. I have yet to perfect my fit on the bike (to my surprise), so I had to stop about 3/4 through the ride to adjust my saddle for comfort. My back and knees still say the bike need tweaking, and this will be my project for the week…

Other than that, the ride was fine. We chatted about the history of parts, companies, people, and regions of places we have never been. It was an ideal test ride.

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This post will be permanently shown under the My Bikes page, above.

Hasa Full Carbon Road Bike

  • Frame – Toray T-700 Carbon Fiber 12k
  • Fork - 1 1/8″  Threadless Carbon Fiber fork and Steer Tube
  • Bottle Cages – 2x Specialized Rib Cage Road (Spray Painted Black)
  • Headset – Integrated Headset, Hiddenset
  • Stem – Ritchey WCS 4-Axis, 90mm
  • Handlebar – Ritchey WCS Classic, 42mm
  • Brake Levers/Shifters – SRAM Rival ’09
  • Bar Tape – Bontrager Gel Tape (Reusable)
  • Cables/Housing – Bontrager
  • Brakes – SRAM Rival ’09
  • Wheels – Flit Letica
  • Skewers – KCNC Ti Skewers
  • Tires – Vittoria Open Corsa EVO, Bontrager Race 700 x 23c
  • Bottom Bracket – Truvativ GXP 68mm
  • Cranks – SRAM S550 Compact Crankset 50/34
  • Front Derailleur – SRAM Rival ’09
  • Chain – KMC X10-SL
  • Saddle – Nashbar Glide
  • Seatpost – Ritchey WCS Carbon One-Bolt 31.6mm
  • Seatpost Clamp – Campagnolo Clamp for Carbon Frames
  • Pedals – Ritchey WCS
  • Cassette SRAM OG-1070
  • Rear derailleur – SRAM Rival ’09

This bike was the first bike I ever built from the frame, up. It has been a work in progress, changing out handlebars, wheels, and cranks until I have found perfection. It hovers at the UCI 6.9 kg (aka 15.25 lbs), and rides like a dream. The component selection is all to make this bike look as ninja as possible, while still sticking to a high standard. Ritchey products are not the lightest or best, but they sure are reliable, and are competitively priced.

The carbon bike’s geometry is fit perfectly to me. After a long MTB ride, or a five-mile run, I feel like I can crawl up on the saddle and pedal on it like it was molded specifically to me… like a glove. It does not handle perfectly downhill at high speeds, and this has made me reluctant over time to go faster than 40-45mph on the bike. I have said the light weight feel of the bike is the culprit, but I think it is more of how much of my body is place where on the frame and just use the weight as a crutch. Climbing on this bike is equivalent to running a marathon on roller blades; it just makes things seem effortless. I am sure this bike, not only due to the weight, but also the fit has allowed me to gain watts, or not need to use as many on strenuous parts of a ride. I couldn’t really ask for a better bike with my standing socio-economic status as of 2009.

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West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private college in WV; it is also my alma mater. One thing I was able to do for the campus before I graduated was getting a 20-bike bike rack for two residence halls. It wasn’t much, but it was all I could do and it was put to good use. Sadly, I am not satisfied with the amount of bike racks on campus for reasons highly visible all over. All around the residence halls, and academic buildings, you will see bikes locked up to handrails on the breezeways, on benches and light poles, and even just right outside a classroom. If there were more bike racks, there would be less of a clutter of bikes all over the place. One last reason for more bike racks is due to three bicycles being stolen even after being properly locked up; two of them belonging to friends.

Well, I was bored this weekend, and decided to take a little bit of action; I had some left over lumber supplies from a previous project, wanted to make a bike rack out of these discarded pieces. This project took me two hours, and no money. The screws were salvaged from a demolished DIY arcade cabinet I created in 2005, and became tired of.

Here are the results:

The best place to put this bike rack was at the library. There were several times I locked my bike, or there was someone else’s bike chained to a handrail on the steps leading to the entryway of the building. It was an ostentatious gesture doing this, but there was no where else to put your bike while studying there. After cleaning up my sawdust mess, and putting everything back up, it was 8:00pm; darkness was falling. I drove up to the library with the rack and a little sign in the bed of the truck and carried it to the steps of the library, I felt like a ninja or some kind of crazy advocacy person… (think Greenpeace) I placed my little promotional sign in the most visible area, as close to the bike rack as possible. I also found a spot for the wooden bike rack that was out-of-the-way, but still noticable and available to be used. I had to face one side of the rack facing the grass, instead of both sides on the sidewalk since the placement of bikes on both sides while on the pavement would have taken up too much space.

While this kind of approach to getting what you want is nowhere near as diplomatic as actually going to the faculty of the college or writing a formal letter, it does create a little bit of publicity for an issue on campus. I’m hoping for the best with this, but if nothing happens… I’m only out two hours of my time and some wood scraps~

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One of the few things that bothers me about mountain biking is searching for people, places, or means of finding kick ass trails. Seriously, you have to be an adventurer, or know like fifty million people to become privy on where some of these unmarked wonders are. Some people do not give up and disclose info about where local trails are because of the encroachment on private property; and if the trail blows up, it will be shut down. Living in an extremely rural area also limits knowledge of local trails just due to the fact that not many people ride.

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This lady knows where some hot trails are, but she's not telling...

Growing tired of trails immediately around my town, I started stretching out and looking for others in a still local area. First stop, MTBR trail reviews. MTBR’s trail listing for West Virginia is pretty hit-and miss for Upshur County. There are one or two locations that are just flat-out wrong on the provided map, or the directions might as well be told to you by a parrot with a doctorate in Swahili;. Seriously, a few times, it has been the complete opposite of helpful… I heard about a trail on Boy Scout Camp Road, and wanted to check it out… I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

The first thing against me was the MTBR Trail Review itself. The listing shows a point somewhere, just a few minutes outside of the center of Buckhannon, near a trailer park. EPIC FAIL. First off, I decided to do some reconnaissance driving to see if I could scope out the area and find a decent place to start riding from. The road was only ten miles from my house on the highway, so I went out for a weekend joyride.

boy scout camp road

Proof I was looking for the trail!

My first drive was quite unsuccessful, and ended up with me reaching points on a road that was too much for my 1992 Dodge Caravan SE, and I did not feel safe driving over mud and large rocks anymore. I backed up off the hill, and went home. Deciding that some of the area around Boy Scout Camp Road was inappropriate for my pristine and classy ride, I took the Gary Fisher in my van back to the area. I parked in a vacated area close to the sign up above and set off. My first hunch was to traverse the road that I was not able to fully drive up. After a three-mile climb up this dirt road, all I saw were No Trespassing signs EVERY 20 FEET on both sides of this excuse for a road.

Traversing back down the road was a breeze, and it was off to the other side of the bridge in order to see if the other area had any signs of trail riding. (If you viewed the YouTube video, you’ve already spoiled the surprise.) I met up with a fat, hairy man who I could only assume was the caretaker of a large camping area which I stumbled upon. He told me that several riders a few years ago went on a road which led to the railroad tracks; I thanked him and went on my way after he gave me his blessing of permitted usage.

This so-called road that the man pointed to was an edge along a riverbank, not even ten feet wide in some sections, how it was called a road… I have no clue. Maybe the guy was suffering from dementia, he did look old afterall… This whole area around the Middle Fork River was covered in hiking trails, abandoned jeep trails once up on the hill, and very little singletrack. The free area, and winding paths would be great for taking a group of people wanting to ride together at a brisk pace; think MTB peloton…

The sun was going to set in less than an hour after I found the trail, so I wanted to hurry back after exploring for a while. I felt like Indiana Jones, but in lycra and on a mountain bike… it was awesome finding trails that have not been documented to my knowledge. Somehow after taking a spill on a soggy bare tree branch and resting for a minute, I lost my bearing and ended up in path-slash-sand pit of doom; things were not looking well. My feet were soaked, my legs were becoming tired and I just wanted to get back to the vehicle. I ran across some more No Trespassing signs right next to a house, so I did the stupid thing and rode right through their treeline. Rolled past their garage and luckily there was a man waxing his little wooden fishing boat. He politely gave me directions back to Boy Scout Camp Road, and I was off! Got back to the van, got in and turned on the feet vents for the heater. I was on my way home~

indiana jones mountain bike

Driving home, I thought back on my effort to find more local trails for myself and others in town. I was glad that I found land that was permitted to use on bike, and was encouraged. The terrain was fine, and the trails do need a little bit of maintenance (fallen tree moving), but overall it was a great adventure. Completely worth the time and effort. This just shows anyone in WV that with a little bit of determination, fun can be had just about anywhere.

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This post will be permanently shown under the My Bikes page, above.

Despite one’s appearance, a person who’s been looking for something their whole life, may one day turn out to be much more; in the world of cycling is where that can happen.

The bicycles below are the current ones I hold in my quiver and are listed chronologically.

Dawes Lightning Sport

Dawes Lightning Sport

  • Frame – CrMo
  • Fork - 1″ Threaded CrMo
  • Bottle Cages – Bontrager 5mm Hollow Aluminum Tubing
  • Headset – 1″ Threaded
  • Stem – ITM Stem 110mm, 74*
  • Handlebar – Kalloy Aluminum
  • Brake Levers – Cane Creek SCR5c
  • Shifters – Suntour Stem Shifters 7-spd
  • Bar Tape – Two Layers Foam/Cork Tape
  • Cables/Housing – Bontrager
  • Brakes – Rebranded Tektro R320
  • Wheels – Alex R500 700c, Sealed Hubs
  • Skewers – Classic Skewers
  • Tires – Michelin, Bontrager 700 x 28c
  • Bottom Bracket – Shimano UN-26
  • Cranks – Shimano Forged Aluminum 39/52T
  • Front Derailleur – Shimano FD-050
  • Chain – SRAM PC-1070
  • Saddle – Bontrager Inform Race
  • Seatpost – Kalloy Aluminum
  • Seatpost Clamp – Generic
  • Pedals – Shimano PD-A520
  • Cassette Shimano 7-spd
  • Rear derailleur – Shimano RD-050
  • Rear Rack – Blackburn MTN-2

This bike Started my journey into cycling; it was the first, if you could call this serious, serious road bike. Many things have been changed, removed or modified since it’s original out-of-the-box condition, but it is still holding up well. I tend to use this bike for around town riding, grocery getting, camping, and taking it places where my typical road bike should not go. With the addition of my cyclocross bike, this may end up getting less usage than before the new steed arriving.

Dawes made a terribly cheap bike that has to my amazement, held up very well, even while learning how to upkeep something like it. Unfortunately, the frame has started to rust on the inside, and there have been occasions where the stem or seatpost have seized up due ot the rust (I am unable to raise the stem at all). This bike is comfortable with the steel frame (dead feeling) and 28c tires, which allow me to go nearly anywhere that will not bend or taco the wheels. It is now my rain bike.

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