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Posts Tagged ‘Sheetz’

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! 😮 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 😮

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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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There has been the West Virginia University sponsored Mini-Series/Stage Race every August in Philippi since I moved to this state. Two days of fun consisting of a TT, Criterium, and Road Race. Even if I am not competing, I like to go there and scope things out; you know, see who is participating and make verbal bets with friends on who is going to place podium.

Last year, decided to drive up to Philippi from Buckhannon with a few pals to do some recon a few days before the races were planned. A well placed convenience store was placed a few hundred feet from our pre-planned Le Depart, so we staked our claim in the Sheetz parking lot and tried to be as PRO as it is possible in West Virginia. There we were. Full road kits, Radars upside down in our helmet vents, Back pocket wadded with credit card, drivers key, spare tube, CO2, single tire lever, and maybe a Clif Bar of some sort that we purchased with our Sheetz MTO Espresso-like-beverage. I’m not saying they pull a bad shot, but it does feel less genuine sipping it out of a bleach-white paper cup, handed to you by someone who possibly can’t spell espresso. (sorry for the crack shot there)

Ken was kept outside, guarding our steeds while we ordered for him. He peered at us the whole time like a dog similar to when you leave them inside the car while you run in the grocery store to grab a gallon of milk. He made us promise to never do that to him again.

Poor Ken 😦

About ten or so minutes after our quasi-cafe stop, we hit the road. I grabbed the recon map since none of us ever pedaled in Philippi before. Thirty-Two miles was expected to take about 1:45-2:00 depending on the pace we set for ourselves but this was a reconnaissance ride. We decided to pay attention to the locations, scenery, terrain, elevation, road condition and places where we could try to do a sprint to gain a few places. You know… the tricky stuff that is PRO in theory but never really works well in application. I can recall being at least half-way completed when Greg falling off the back. He really seemed to be having a hard time staying with the group. Never more than a few hundred feet behind us, but enough that we knew if it kept happening it would be demoralizing and disheartening for him. We stopped at the turn onto Carrolton Road to let him catch up and for us to hydrate/scarf.

If you've been to Phillippi, you've seen this bridge.

After some highly scrutinized wheel rotations by hand, he determined the rear brake was rubbing on the wheel. “Ohhhhhhhh, so that was the problem was…” The whole time, he  felt like he wasn’t putting out the watts while he was still putting out the same amount of effort. We all chuckled at the mechanical and his inclinations about it and went on. Two or so miles later he stops again. The bolt holding the brake screw tight was loose. This was an odd thing, since he claimed it wasn’t like this earlier. Even funnier was that no one was carrying a mini multi tool… Eventually, we all made it back to the vehicle safe with Greg following behind, but with less enjoyment than expected.

Another story similar to this was when a bunch of MTB buddies I befriended last year took a trip to a local state park for some shredding around on the newly fallen leaves. My friend… Let’s just call him Rider-X (to protect his identity), slipped on a slick pile of leaves. His rear derailleur had seen better days and this was not one. Everyone regrouped to evaluate whether he was fine. His bike was repairable enough to allow him to hobble down the mountain back to the vehicle. We all retired early and went home. It was a bummer.

These nostalgic tales of the peloton ending early due to mechanicals involving friends have spurred me to take action to save future rides. Those adventures are stories that may benefit your upcoming travels also.

Everyone carries or should at least carry a saddle bag with multi tool, spare tube, and pump of some sort while riding, and some more serious tools in their home-base vehicle on a ride trip that is going to be away from a LBS or Big-Box Store. Think of your car as a stationary Mechanic’s Car/Broom Wagon sans Danila Di Luca’s wonder mechanic.

But what about those simple but critical items? Shifter/Brake cable? Brake Lever? Pedal? Saddle? Bolts/Screws? Stems???

These sound like components involved in a pretty serious mechanical, but when you and three or four other buddies out on the road/trail… there is a possibility for something serious to happen, no? Will there always be a LBS open or even available? I mean really now… This is West Virginia… Why not just arrive prepared for the unexpected?

I have come up with a small toolbox with my discarded/used/old/spare parts for such an event. These items are not of Shimano XT/Ultegra caliber, but they will allow you to enjoy the rest of your anticipated ride. For me, it just makes sense to carry spare parts like this. Hypothetically, if I were out for a weekend, I would bring more than my little toolbox full. Something with a little more oomph, like a whole bike or a second set of wheels.

This isn’t paranoia, just preparedness. I also want to make it clear I do not purchase items for the sole use of being spares for those ‘just in case’ moments… but the thought has crossed my mind.

How many times have you heard of freak accidents where a rider isn’t hurt but their pedal or cleat is needs replaced during the ride?

Broken seatpost?

Loose bolt or two falling out?

Shifter cable freak accident?

Broken spoke?

Freewheel/hub bearings having a catastrophe? <—- happened to me 😦

I read a lot of cycling sites and I see stories like this a lot. Doesn’t mean it will or will not happen to me, but at least I have the means to be prepared. when driving off to distant lands away from the service-course.

What do you bring along with you when you drive to a ride? Have you ever had a minor failure that could have been fixed if you had the spare part in your vehicle?  What do you do with rest of your day when you are at a special place and the bike is borked?

Neat poll of things people have broken on a ?brevet? type tour.

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