Monday, May 19, 2014

B & O Trail with Mohican S. P. Extension

Peaceful Farm - Richland County

Spring is in full swing here in Ohio so when dawn broke cool and clear I knew I was going for a recumbent ride.  I decided to ride the B & O Trail which is my local trail and a staple in this blog.  Early on it was cool and almost fair to say cold.  I wore long tights with my jacket and even a thin helmet liner.  Spring has been a bit late here in these parts but things are finally shaping up.  Over the last couple weeks we've had a load of rain and the trees have all sprouted their greenery.  Next to the crisp days of autumn it is my favorite time for bike riding.

I've been up and down this bike trail at least a hundred times but I never stopped to read this sign posted along the trail in the small town of Bellville, Ohio.  Today I wasn't interested in racing the clock so I pulled over to check it out.

McClure Cabin

Site of the first settlement in Jefferson Township and the second in Richland County.  James, Thomas and Samuel McClure and Jonathan Oldfield cut a trail from Fredericktown in 1808, and built a log cabin here on the banks of the Clear Fork!
 That's pretty cool.  The United States was only 32 years old at that point. Ohio was indeed the wild frontier.
The log cabin is not in existence anymore but I bet the view out front of the McClure brother's cabin looked a lot like this 200 years ago:

I continued on from north to south covering all 18 miles of the trail as it warmed up and I could shed my extra layers.  When I rolled into Butler at the end of the trail it was too nice of a morning to just turn around so I decided on the fly to add a loop and tour through the Mohican State Park which lies about 7 miles to the east from Butler.

I know a route that uses seldom traveled rural roads so I can avoid the busy state highway that leads to the park.  For a short while the country lanes follow the Clear Fork valley and the steadily flowing river.  

Within a mile or two from the end of the bike trail I get to the hill country.  My recumbent bike climbs just fine and I actually like the experience pushing off the firm seat back putting 100% of my effort into the cranks.  The loop circles around to the north of the park.  The views are nice.

Eventually the Clear Fork River flows into Pleasant Hill Lake which was formed when the Army Corps of Engineers built a damn.  

The level of the lake is maintained at the damn and excess water is directed through a spillway and continues on its path through the valley.  A glimpse of the water can be seen just above my bike in the picture.  From this point on the stream is called the Black Fork.  It flows roughly east through the Mohican-Memorial State Forest for a few miles until its confluence with the Mohican River at Loudenville, Ohio.

In the above photo is the pump house and spillway.  In the background is the end of the 850 acre lake.  Continuing on the loop took me into the state park and down into the gorge along the park road.  I've rode in this area and photographed the natural beauty of the gorge from my mountain bike on the 25 mile single track circuit.  It is fantastic on a knobby tire bike.

Both the park road and the mountain bike trail meet up at this covered bridge to cross  the Black Fork.  I took a break here and ate a bag of pistachios before starting the mile long climb back up the south side of the gorge.  I exited the park on the south side and eventually caught back up with the country roads I was on leading out of butler and made my way back to the B & O Trail.

The formula of this ride is one I really like.  18 miles of flat rail trail to get warmed up before a serious 22 miles of hilly beat down followed by another 18 mile of smooth sailing back up the rail trail.

Ride Time:  4:45
Distance:  58.46 miles 
Average Speed:  12.2 mph
Max Speed:  40.6 mph

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Revving My Engine At Mid Ohio

 I don't normally ride charity rides but when I do it's the Mid Ohio Walk, Run or Ride event put on by Summit Therapy Charities. I really enjoy this one and what makes it special is the venue.  I've ridden here before but the last time was on my recumbent bike.  The Mid Ohio Sports Car Course hosts world class racing of sports cars and  motorcycles. Everything from Indy car and super bike, amateur racing and vintage bikes and autos.

The 2.2 mile circuit is laid out on the south slope of the Clear Fork Valley and this makes the track a challenging ride on a bicycle.  Quite a bit of the course is uphill and the first time I rode I was dismayed at my speed dropping to into the single digits while aboard the recumbent.  Back then I told myself the next time I would ride the Motobecane road bike and take advantage of its faster climbing ability.
Gassed up and heading out of the pits.
 This time around the RoadQueen met me at the track and agreed to be my photographer.  I tried to talk her into bringing her bike but she thought it was a serious type of ride which of course it is not.  This year they did have a competitive 5K running race but aside from that the promoters put the emphasis on a do it at your own pace fun type of event.  

Even so its a race track and I can't help but not stomp on the accelerator.  I like to simply race the clock and see what kind of performance I can get out of myself.  Normally I'm taking pictures of the things I see along the ride but in this case since I have a photographer I'll treat you my dear readers to some photos of my awesome form around the track! It is my blog after all.

The weather forecast was bleak for the weekend but things ended up being ideal for a bike ride.  The sun broke free from the cloud cover later in the evening.  Around my tenth lap a gentleman caught up to me who was riding a Lynskey titanium bike.  We had a nice chat for a couple miles then I had to drop off the back. I just couldn't hang with his pace.  

Much easier to dodge the slower riders and pedestrians on a thirty foot wide race track than on the bike trail.  

Rolling into the pits after twelve laps. 

Ride Time:  1:36
Distance:  26.7 miles
Average Speed:  16.6 mph
Max Speed:  32.9 mph
12 laps -- Average Lap Time: 8 minutes

Friday, May 9, 2014

Go Fly A Kite!

Interacting with the natural world around me is something I have always been drawn to and found interesting and fun.  The past few years I've had a blast creating electromagnetic waves with my ham radio equipment and sending them off skipping along the atmosphere and all around the Earth.  Another way I've been harnessing the forces of nature for amusement has been kite flying.  

Some of my earliest memories are kite flying with my dad on a warm and breezy spring afternoons long ago.  Many of my kites were inexpensive tradition shaped versions and I even built my own as young boy using newspaper and a couple crossed sticks.  These paper kites flew great but never lasted long.  On very windy days my sister and I would attach empty bread bags to a spool of kite string and surprisingly if you could get it to fill with air the bag would fly as well as any kite.  Fascination with the sky and flight is just one of those cool things that are ingrained in us as humans.  I think the birds are pretty much responsible for that.  For ages man has stood grounded to Mother Earth and marveled at the sparrow who so easily takes flight or a group vultures lazily riding the air currents high above barely flapping their wings for minutes on end.  I know I have.

One day I was browsing around the hobby store and I noticed a rack of kites.  All my life I've only flown simple single string kites.  With traditional kites the learning curve is pretty easy; hold it up, let it go and let out more string. That's about it.  What caught my eye was this delta wing shaped kite known as a sport kite or stunt kite made by Premier Kites of Hyattsville, Maryland.  On trips to the ocean I've seen these double string wonders in action above the beach were steady breezes are plentiful.  Having always wanted to try one out I bought that kite on the spot and waited for the windy days of spring to arrive. 

A few weeks ago that day finally came and after work I headed out to my favorite flying spot to give the new kite a try.  My first two attempts lasted about two seconds with the kite shooting up like a rocket then looping around violently and plummeting back to the ground.  The instructions state: "The most common problem a beginner has is over controlling their kite" And that is indeed the truth.  Just the slightest pull on one of the control lines will turn the kite and instantly send it into a dive.  In a fit of panic it's very easy to jerk the other cord overcompensating and send the kite equally out of control in the other direction. 

I like to think I'm fairly coordinated and soon enough I had the kite doing lazy sideways figure eights or soaring stationary straight up above my head.  It's easy to remember pull the left string to turn the kite left and right to go right.  It's another thing altogether to keep it straight when the kite is careening wildly out of control.  In time I became more relaxed and found that slightly turning my shoulders rather than pulling my arms provided smooth control to the kite.

The RoadQueen accompanied me to the flying field my second time out this past weekend.  To say it was windy was an understatement.  We estimated a steady 20 mph wind with gusts well higher than that.  It was perfect for the stunt kite.  Variable winds and lulls don't provide ideal conditions for this kind of kite.  That reason explains the popularity of their use along coastal regions and larger lakes.

RoadQueen at the controls with Jake the dog as ground crew.
We had a great time and spent nearly four hours flying before heading back to town for lunch.  learning to fly the sport kite has been a lot of fun and certainly a thrill.  With the double control lines and being able to use your whole upper body to maneuver the kite it really seems more like flying an aircraft and not just passively standing there holding a single string kite.  My only regret is not getting one years ago.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Finally Springtime has rolled around and I actually look forward to cleaning up my commuter bike.  I try to keep it out of the worst of the winter mess but it ends up grimy and salty no matter what.  A couple years ago I started using an Automotive washing soap in my bucket of hot water instead of the dish soap from the kitchen.  I read something somewhere about the sulfates in dish soap being bad for paint and clear coats but I don't have to worry about that with bare titanium tubes.  The difference I have noticed is that the the car wash stuff cuts the grease and rim brake dust much more effectively than it's kitchen cousin.

Flossing the cogs!

I use a wax based lube on my chain. It doesn't last like a wet lube so it has to be regularly reapplied. The one downside to overzealous lubrication is that it tends to gum up between the cogs.  A piece of old cotton sock drenched in a solvent like WD-40 makes an ideal floss to clean those sprockets.  Positioning the hub against my bucket and with my feet boxing in the tire I use a side to side motion with the cloth to work down between the gears.  The pull to the left spins the freewheel about an eighth of a turn.  Sliding back to the right engages the pawls locking the sprocket and allowing the rag to do its thing.  With some experimentation the thickness of the cloth can be found that best slides between the teeth without snagging and with a little practice eight or ten back and forth cycles between each gear leaves them all clean and polished.

I picked up a new Park chain tool last year and finally had a chance to use it to putting on a fresh drive chain.  

A clean drivetrain is a quiet drivetrain.  And that makes me a happy rider.

The Ti General Purpose Bike serviceable and ready for commuting duty.