Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bicycle Commuting In Sandy The Super Storm

Well I couldn't resist.  These are a few shots I took this morning on my commute to work.  It was pretty slushy so traction was fairly good.  Folks around here say if it snows before Halloween we're in for a harsh winter.  Oh well I guess I'll wax up the cross-country skis.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Triumph World Record!

My favorite motorcycle brand blasts into the record books yet again! Below is the accompanying text that came with this awesome photograph. Via: Triumph High Performance Motorcycles Since 1902

DiSalvo Conquers the Salt Flats

Jason DiSalvo and his Rocket III set new world record at Bonneville.

Latus Motors Racing rider Jason DiSalvo set new AMA and FIM land-speed racing records at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats with a Rocket III Roadster, fielded by the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing team. He ran in the Modified (normally) Aspirated Fuel (MAF) class for motorcycles up to 3,000cc’s. DiSalvo’s initial run was 175.998mph, and his return run was 172.587mph for an average, world-record-setting speed of 174.276mph (280.470kph) for the flying mile and 174.880mph (281.443kph) for the flying kilometer. What’s amazing is this Rocket is fully streetable, using one of Bob Carpenter’s 240hp over-the-counter performance kits. The records are subject to FIM Ratification and anticipated to be reviewed during their November meeting in Valencia, Spain.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clear Fork Loop 4

This morning at breakfast I looked out the window and noticed the patio was dry so decided to go for a recumbent ride.  The sky was gray and a chilly wind was blowing from the north and the temperature registered about 47 degrees on my computer. That's ideal riding conditions really and as long as it's not raining being on the bike beats sitting on the couch any day.
I've had a busy week. I'm about three weeks into my winter workout regime.  The shock of hitting the weights has abated and I'm not feeling too sore from that.  Tuesday I worked chest and 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. Wednesday I took a down day and then was back at it Thursday with an arm workout and 30 minutes again on the elliptical.  Last night was shoulders followed up with another half hour on the cardio machine.  I've done a couple leg workouts but I don't worry too much about legs now that it's still warm enough to ride my bike.  In a few months when everything is frozen I'll add leg exercises to the resistance training and increase the duration on the elliptical.
Increasing my activity level has left me feeling great so I decided to ride the Clear Fork Loop for the extra workout the hills provide in the middle third of the route.  I didn't take a lot of pictures on this ride because of the overcast sky and the dreary look of the landscape. Besides I've already documented this route several times here and most recently here.

The majority of this loop is the east-west directions which minimizes the the strong north breeze to a manageable crosswind.  To mix things up I decided to run the loop counter-clockwise opposite of the last time I rode and I was surprised to notice this old brick schoolhouse.  It's funny I've been riding this road for 15 years and I never noticed the school house. Granted I've not been actively seeking them out until recently.
As with many of the old school buildings I found this one is in a similar sad state of disrepair.  I don't know what happened to the back corner but the bricks are completely gone.

The school house lies in North Bloomfield Township in the north-east corner of Morrow County.  The architecture is more spartan than most of the buildings I've documented.  Notice there is no round window above the door or decorative plaque with the district number and date of establishment.  It could be that this school is older than the others in the area built before the engraved date plaques became a standard feature.  Hard to tell and I'm just speculating.  In any case I would feel confident dating the structure to the late 1800's.

Another notable feature of this one is the original doorway.  Many schoolhouses were turned into storage buildings once retired and the subsequent owners knocked out a bigger hole and installed sliding shed doors.


Readers have commented how picturesque and peaceful the places I ride look and for the most part they are.  Even so from time to time I have to deal with that scourge of the road going cyclist: Asshole drivers. They're everywhere and if you spend enough time on two wheels eventually you will run into them. 

The eastern leg of the loop descends into the Clear Fork Valley then climbs up the other side. This climb nearly two miles long is unfortunately part a well used route between two cities.  The route is a simple county road with one lane for each direction. There is no shoulder and not enough room for a car and bike to occupy the same lane.  For me on the bike it's the most stressful part of an otherwise great ride. 

Today I was irritated twice in less than half a mile.  I had begun the climb and was only 500 feet or so up the road already dropped to the granny gears and was chugging up the hill at around 6 or 7 mph.  the road twists and turns so I keep a constant watch behind me in the helmet mirror.  Soon filling up my mirror is the grill of an older red full size Chevy truck.  Oncoming traffic held him back for a few seconds until it was clear to pass then the asshat floored the accelerator; half burnt hydrocarbons and oily blue smoke spewing out and hanging heavy in the air for my enjoyment.  What an idiot! Gasoline nearly four dollars a gallon this yahoo guns his V8 up the road probably burning a quart in the process. I'm sure the guy would argue that the acceleration was warranted to get safely around me and back over into the lane as quickly as possible but I say bollocks! A full on 300 horsepower hole shot is not required to overtake a bicycle traveling at a blistering 5 mph.

Sixty seconds later still cranking up the hill I'm watching a sedan's steady approach from the rear in my mirror.  Up ahead is a small SUV closing and I can tell we are all going to intersect at about the same time.  Sure enough the sedan barely slows and edges out about a foot over the center line.  This action in turn forces the SUV driver to edge his vehicle as far to the right of his lane as possible.  In the distance behind me I hear the long blast of the SUV's horn conveying the driver's irritation over the situation.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves. 

It took me two minutes to look up the violation in the Ohio Revised Code:

(A) No vehicle or trackless trolley shall be driven to the left of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing traffic proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made, without interfering with the safe operation of any traffic approaching from the opposite direction or any traffic overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle or trackless trolley must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for traffic approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.
Of course if your a cyclist all of this is old hat but if you're a car driver exclusively and for some strange reason you're reading this blog go up and read the excerpt from the law book again and remember to slow down for us bike riders.
Later in the ride I have to make a short jog of about an eighth mile on a busy state route to connect back up with rural county road.  This stretch of highway doesn't twist and turn but it is very hilly.  As usual I'm grinding uphill in my lower gears and watching behind in the mirror.  At least the state route has a shoulder a couple feet wide and a white stripe but I always stay right around the stripe regardless of what is going on.  A small black SUV closes on me but slows down matching my speed. Traveling uphill as we were it was impossible to see oncoming traffic ahead.  In just a few seconds we crested the rise and like clockwork there was a car coming at us in the opposite lane.  After the other car passed the SUV pulled out and began his pass.  As the driver came around I gave him a wave with my left hand as a sign of thanks for holding on a second. Once safely back in the lane I heard a quick and happy toot-toot of the SUV's horn.  This little episode made me feel better and proves that cars and bikes can get along.
In any event I made it home safe with another great ride in the log book and I even dropped 6 minutes off the loop time from earlier in the year.
Clear Fork Loop
Bike: HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  2:14:07
Distance:  28.84 miles
Average Speed:  12.8 mph
Max Speed:  44 mph

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kokosing Gap -- Knox County, Ohio

Today was a fantastic day on the bike. The schedule was wide open and with no place to be I headed south and east to Knox County, Ohio.  Oh no more leaf pictures! Oh yes, I never tire of autumn splendor on display.  The peak is well past and and a lot of leaves are on the ground but what color is left has shifted to the coppers and golds.  Put a little sunlight to it and a blue sky in the background and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than kicked back on my recumbent just taking it all in.
I get a bit sentimental at this time of year because soon the fields and woods will be brown and dead.  The days will be short and darkness will mostly have fallen by the time I get out of work in the afternoons.  When I was younger ten or fifteen years ago I would spend an afternoon on the bike and always feel like I was missing something or could be using my time for something better. I don't feel that way anymore.  I cherish every chance I get to be out on the bike.  I guess that's just part of the process of getting older.  Pastimes and interests get distilled down to what really matters and that's where we invest our precious time.
Today I planned to ride the Kokosing Gap Trail starting at the western end in Mt. Vernon and travel the full 14 miles to Danville and continue east from there.  As I cruised down the trail I noticed a big clump of cyclists ahead and as they got closer I noticed the low height. Lo and behold it was a recumbent caravan!  I reached behind my head and grabbed my camera managing to take a few shots as they passed by.

When I reached the end of the rail trail I headed east towards a small village called Brinkhaven.  The shot above shows me cruising along Highway 62 at 25 mph.  Knox County is home to a large Amish and Mennonite community.  Their homes and farmsteads are easy to pick out. The houses are always painted sharply white and well kept. 
This farm was on the corner of 62 and a county road so I had to circle around and take a picture.  I rode up the dirt road a bit and when I was more or less even with the front of the house one of the upstairs windows slid open and a loud voice called out "Nice ride!"  These people are no-nonsense folk and they know a good machine when they see it.
At Brinkhaven Highway 62 crosses over the Kokosing River and here I explored this quiet country lane that wound its way up out of the valley.  This stretch was especially magical with golden deciduous trees on the left and a narrow band of pines on the right.  At the twenty mile mark I took a break for a mid ride snack before turning around and heading back to Mt Vernon.

Kokosing Gap - Danville - Brinkhaven
Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Distance:  40.31 miles
Ride Time:  3:15:35
Average Speed:  12.3 mph
Max Speed:  27.4 mph

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Ride

On Wednesday the temperature was warm in the 70's and although there was a stiff wind blowing it was still a great afternoon for a ride.  I love riding in the fall but with the beautiful conditions and scenery also comes the bittersweet knowledge that soon freezing rain, sleet, snow and bitter windchill will rule the day.
When I rounded the corner on the northern leg of my loop I saw this bit of woods ablaze in color. I had to stop and click a photo or two.  The change of the seasons especially the fall adds something different to the same old route.  This time of year I find it real easy to throw a leg over the bike go spin.
  I've recently got a new cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S2 which while not the latest device on the market is plenty powerful for me and has a killer 8 MP camera.  All these photographs I took with the phone.
These two show a small valley about a half mile from my house where the Olentangy Creek winds its way south.
Local Loop
Bike:  Motobecane Road Bike
Ride Time:  1:19:08
Distance:  20.1 miles
Average Speed:  15.2 mph
Max Speed:  26.7 mph

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Shooting Bench -- H & R Pardner Pump

Today we're at the range field testing an H & R Pardner Pump Protector 12 gauge home defense shotgun.  Wyatt is very familiar with the standard fighting shotgun from his video gaming but there is nothing better than some real live fire exercise to appreciate the awesome firepower of a 12 gauge pump gun.
The H & R is a solid no nonsense Remington 870 clone with a receiver machined from solid steel.  I noticed the scatter gun at the local hardware store the other day and after doing a bit of research I went back and put my money down.
For the initial test after swabbing out the 18-1/2" cylinder (no choke or constriction at the muzzle end) bore we fired some Remington 2-3/4" game loads consisting of 1 ounce of #6 shot.  After noting a spread of about 12 inches at 7 yards I loaded the five round tube with Rottweil 1-1/8 ounce Brenneke rifled slugs. Of course the boom and kick of the slug was nearly double that of the game loads but the size of the groupings shot from 75 feet is interesting and promising to say the least. 
 Keep in mind the Protector is a defensive weapon for close combat situations and it's pretty obvious it would fill this role perfectly. What is cool about shotguns is their inherent versatility and it's good to know the gun can sling a solid projectile downrange with a degree of accuracy as well as a hard hitting spread of pellets in basic shotgun fashion.

This target shows my first five shots of the rifled slugs. The very first shot is the hole at the bottom of the paper.  I read online that the standard brass bead on a shotgun barrel is set for 100 yards so I put the point of aim down at about the bottom of the paper target and squeezed off the round. (Don't believe everything you read online.) One nice thing about the giant hole left from the slug is I could see it plainly from 25 yards.  For the following shots I held the bead dead center on the target which effectively covered the black rings. 
After replacing the paper I held a bit higher for the fifth through tenth shots and did bring up the point of impact to center but the round seemed to group up to the right.  These five shots are shown in the photograph with the gun resting on the target.  By this time my was shoulder was feeling it so we called it a day.
During my second string of slugs I did experience one stoppage. After the first shot the action froze and it took several firm jerks of the fore-arm to eject the fired shell. The remaining four rounds cycled perfectly through the action.  I'm not overly concerned as any new weapon needs at least a few hundred round fired through it to break in the mechanism. Besides further proof testing provides an excuse to go burn some more gunpowder and have some more fun.
Here's a review that influenced my decision to purchase the weapon: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/12/ralph/gun-review-hr-1871-pardner-pump-protector-12-gauge/

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Family Hike -- Hog Hollow

As I have grown older one of my favorite things to do here in Ohio is just be outside and experience the seasons change.  Autumn is an especially magical time to go out for a walk in the woods.  The cooler air smells much different from that of the humid summer months.  The sunlight is more golden and enhanced by the changing foliage.  All to soon the days will be gray and cold in the icy grip of winter.
Earlier in the week I planned this Saturday outing to spend some quality time with my family in the great outdoors.  It is always worth the effort and I'm grateful we can share the experience.  Throughout this post are pictures that LeeAnn took with her Sony and a few I shot with my little Canon point and shoot.
A quick forty minute drive got us to the Mohican State Park where we set off from the lower end of the Hog Hollow Trail. This trail is one of our favorites and is a two mile route that ascends up out of the Clear Fork valley and terminates at the highest point of elevation in the region near the park's fire tower.

Back in the spring work crews were out building a series of new bridges along the trail.  Upkeep of our public lands and parks is one thing I'm happy to know my tax dollars are a part of.

This last shot is looking to the north-west up the Clear Fork Gorge. The elevation difference from the valley floor to the top of the ridges is about 300 feet. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Ride

By the time I got done with work and pedalled myself home the sun was pretty low in west but I figured I had a couple hours of daylight left.  I was really in the mood to ride but didn't feel like sharing the road with cars so I hurried up and loaded the recumbent, grabbed my helmet and gloves and a bottle of water.  I sipped a bottle of energy drink on the drive over to the B & O Trail where I planned to start about in the middle of the trail's length and ride the lower portion.
Since I was in a hurry to get out the door and on the bike I didn't bother with the Spandex bike clothes I just wore my jeans and the light nylon jacket that I already had on.  The nice thing about riding a recumbent is street clothes are nearly perfect attire.  When the temperature drops I actually like wearing jeans.  I cuff the bottoms shut with some bungee to keep out the wind and down the road I go.
It has been a few weeks since I last rode on the bike trail and I was pleasantly surprised to find the trail freshly repaved.  It was nice and smooth but covered in fresh leaves and sticks in places.  This railroad right of way was converted to rail trail back in the mid 1990's and I can remember riding on it during the construction when it was just crushed limestone before the pavement was laid.  The original surface has held up fairly well for the 16 or so years except for a few pressure ridges and cracks caused by the ground heaving under many freezing and thawing cycles.  It has been interesting to witness just how long a paved road surface remains smooth and intact without automobile and truck traffic to quickly degrade it.
There was a little breeze out of the north but it was weak enough to have little effect on my laid back position on the bike.  The air was cool and crisp in the upper 50's.  These are my ideal conditions for going fast or trying to anyway.  After about five miles I was feeling great so I decided to press on for time and see what I could do for a late season effort.
The scenery along the way was gorgeous.  I imagine the trees are now at there peak of color.  Some species are completely bare and a few like the silver maples are still green and not begun to yellow.  Autumn and cycling go together so well.  While I love blasting down country roads on the motorcycle at this time of year it can get downright bone chilling but on a bicycle creating your own heat it is an experience hard to beat.
B & O Trail Richland County
Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine gte
Distance:  20.00 miles
Ride Time:  1:16:05
Average Speed:  15.7 mph
Max Speed:  21.00 mph
I was working hard to push into the 16 mph average range but I just couldn't tough it out on the return leg.  I was holding 16.5 - 17.5 mph for long stretches but it seems to take about 3 or 4 mph hour faster than the current moving speed to drag up the average.  Still a satisfying run and a great start to the weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seasonal QSL Card

I've been spending some time in the ham shack bouncing high frequency Morse Code signals off the ionosphere for fun.  Yesterday I was pleased to receive this nice Halloween themed QSL card confirming the radio contact between myself and Dave's amateur station K9AAA in Michigan last Saturday.  This October marks my fourth year as a licensed radio amateur and I never tire of finding these QSL card surprises in the mail. 
Thanks Dave for the nice meeting on the air and the cool card!

This is the back side of the QSL card with blanks to fill in the specifics of the contacts and equipment used.  Dave was using a Begali Spark hand key. Very Nice!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One-Room School House -- Huron County


It's time for another look of one of Ohio's original school buildings.  Late Saturday morning I was north bound on a smooth rural two lane on my motorcycle when I whizzed by this one-room schoolhouse located in New Haven Township, Huron County.  I found a safe place to get turned around and headed back to investigate. 

Like a bicycle a motorcycle is just as easy to whip off the path and park while checking out an interesting road side discovery.  This building like many of the others in my series has been converted to agricultural storage at some point.  In its original form the front door was just a normal walk in door.  The sliding barn door was added later after the school systems were consolidated and larger multi-room schools were built around the 1930's.

The wood framing is still visible in the round opening as is the wonderful stone plaque below listing the date and district.
As seen in the opening picture a small stand of trees has grown up on the south side of the schoolhouse.  One big maple in particular is growing very close to the foundation and is having a detrimental effect on the masonry to say the least.

I love this ivy creeping up the back wall.  Below I got as good as shot of the slate roof shingles as I could facing up into the sun.  The wood is rotting away and with nothing to anchor to the slates are coming loose and sliding back down to earth. 123 years and its finally giving up.  That's a pretty good run I'd say. 

 It still makes me sad when I see the old schools slipping away.  The ravages of time and the elements are a relentless enemy but each time I find a new one and preserve some images for the blog I feel a bit better.
If you are a new reader and find this school house interesting be sure to check out the others I found by clicking on the Schoolhouse label below.