Saturday, March 24, 2012

I rode the Scrambler out to get some lunch and fill up the tank.  The 2.6 gallons of petrol cost me a ten-spot which isn't hateful considering I'll get about 140 miles of fun out of it.  After dinner I took a little spin out into the country.  Always with an eye out for adventure I spotted this double track heading off westward.  I followed this course for about four miles along a set of railroad tracks until I ended up at the next town.  Back on pavement I circled around to a familiar state route and back to home.  What an awesome bike the Scrambler is.

While I'm on the subject check out this video and see what the Scrambler can do in the hands of a capable rider:


Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Commute

Another work week is on the books and the weekend is here at last.  The weather has been great for cycle-commuting although today was the first time I wheeled out the general purpose Ti-bike.  In the past week I have put 80 miles on the Scrambler burning off the last of the old gas left in the tank from winter storage.  So with two daily commutes on the Triumph, one by bicycle and the remainder of the trips by car my total expenditure of gasoline is maybe a gallon or two.  If I wasn't purposely taking the long way home to drain the motorbike's tank of stale fuel my weekly total could very well be just a pint or two. 

 I haven't put gas in my car in over two weeks and the gauge has been resting at half a tank all week.  It is not uncommon for me to go a whole month between fill-ups during the summer months.  Don't get me wrong I love my car when its raining and I can transport my son to school and myself to work dry and comfortable but most days its not raining and the two wheelers work just fine for getting from point A to B. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yard Work!

Hammer for scale

I've been too busy for bike riding. The weather in Ohio is sunny and beautiful with temperatures in the 80's. Recent rains have the ground saturated and standing water is still prevalent in low lying areas.  The grass is turning greener by the day and is clumping up in places. It will be a waiting game till the ground dries out as far as mowing goes.

In the meantime I removed a huge 20+ year old evergreen shrub from the corner of my house.  This was the last of the evergreens that lined two sides of the house.  The bushes required trimming twice a year and over the years while I enjoyed pruning and forming the shape of the living trees like big bonsai it got to be tiresome. I can honestly say I don't mind seeing them go. My wife has done an expert job restocking the landscape with more compact shrubbery better suited to the look and size of our property.

Maintaining a house and grounds is expensive and time consuming but one can improve and upgrade all the while making the upkeep easier to deal with.

The first two pictures I took with LeeAnn's new camera. It's a Sony and does a great job.  Although my shots don't do it justice.

She wanted a camera with performance above our little point and shoot Canons without having to bust out the cumbersome SLR.  I quickly familiarized myself with it's operation and have been having a blast in auto mode.  I'm naturally skeptical of cameras manufactured by non-traditional photography related sources but this is a prejudice I'm quickly getting over. Being a fan of Sony audio equipment for years I should have realized they would be making excellent digital cameras in this day and age. 

The Sony has a larger lens and manual control which to me adds a large measure of ease and fun as well as quality to the hobby. The numbers don't mean anything to me but I do know the body has interchangeable lens and I'll be buying the 250 whatever lens for big shots in return for access to the equipment.

  The last three photographs I took with my Cannon Powershot. The little compact does a good job for a camera less than the size of a pack of cigarettes. Resting unnoticed in the pocket the canon is always at the ready when something interesting appears. Like a kilted band.

St Patrick's Day  2012  Columbus, Ohio

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Ride

Hello Springtime

Today I opted for the road bike. Not as comfortable as the recumbent by any stretch but it does let me ride fast.  A beautiful day for St. Patty's with a warm sun and temperatures in the 70's allowed me to wear just bike shorts and a jersey.  I kept the mileage down on this ride but did put in a solid effort.  I'm happy anytime I keep my average speed above 15.

Local Loop
Bike:  Motobecane Le Champion
Distance:  23.8 Miles
Ride Time:  1:28:58
Average Speed:  16.0 MPH
Max Speed:  27.2 MPH


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Commuting with Wyatt

Here we are on our way to school and work.  The sunny weather continues in Ohio and while it's chilly in the morning the temperature will reach the mid-seventies today.  Wyatt's mom will ride her bike to school this afternoon and they will ride home together.  It's Wednesday and I've already reached my minimum 2 days per week quota of commutes by bicycle.  I love knowing my car is sitting at home in the drive way unmoving just like it's gas gauge. 

Speaking of bicycle commuting yesterday I received my copy of Bike Snob NYC's new book "The Enlightened Cyclist" and was laughing before I even made it through the introduction.  Bike Snob is my favorite bike blogger and writer who lives in Brooklyn and I enjoy his musings on bike riding in the big city.  It's a completely different world from my experiences pedaling in small town middle America.  I downloaded Bike Snob's first book on my Kindle but this time I decided to buy the old-timey paper version.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recumbent Ride -- Schoolhouse Jackpot

A second schoolhouse in Sandusky Township

A few years ago I remember passing an old school house while out on a bike ride in the North-East corner of my county.  The problem was I couldn't quite remember where it was.  Since we are having a beautiful weekend with temperatures again in the upper 60's I decided to set out on two wheels and see if I could find this building again. 

Before I left I got a birds eye view using Google Earth and without too much looking I spotted the shiny roof of the schoolhouse with a single tree to the east, a state route to the front and a county road on one side.  I knew the general area to look but as you can see in the background the Northern part of my county is wide open and pretty much all looks the same.  Without the help of Google Earth I doubt I would have been able to pinpoint the exact location based solely on three or four year old memory.  After a pleasant 16 mile ride I saw the familiar shape up ahead.

I love the ornate brick arch above the windows and notice how the arch top wooden window frames are still intact.

As I was taking pictures the property owner pulled up on an all terrain vehicle from his farmhouse just a short distance down the road.  I knew this was the owner because we had met those few years before when he saw me poking around the building then.  I introduced myself and he did remember our first meeting.  This fellow is the third generation of his family farming this land and he told me how his dad and grandfather used the old school as a grain storage building by dividing the inside into rooms and shoveling grain in and out by hand.

I asked about the date plaque that surely rested below the small window and yes the farmer told me someone had stolen the marble piece years ago.  Since then he keeps an eye on the place  and maintains the roof in good repair.  He told me he wants to cut some sheet metal siding pieces to fit the windows on the sides to keep the weather out and preserve what still remains of the window frames.

Before I left he gave me directions to another schoolhouse that was just another mile and a half to the North-East so I thanked him and climbed back aboard my recumbent bike and set off in search of the bonus prize.

Next I entered Cranberry Township and soon the unmistakable red shape with three tall windows came into sight up ahead.  The photographs show that the two schoolhouses are similar but there are some small details that set them apart. 

As luck would have it soon a person of about my age rode up on a bicycle from a nearby farm.  He pulled his bike right up to the front door of the schoolhouse hopped off like he owned the place.  It turned out that he too was a third generation landowner but he had a bit more knowledge about the building that had spent all these years on his family's land.

The school was built in 1880.  The chimney visible in the picture above was added around 1910.  Unfortunately a sturdy foundation was not built under the chimney and it settled over the years causing the exterior wall to bow inwards threatening collapse at some point if the structure was not properly supported.  The wooden crates in the far left of the shot contain the bricks removed from the top of the chimney as well as those around the base of the masonry inside.  The double front door was added at a later date by the gentleman's grandfather after the school was turned back over the landowners at the end of it's service.  It seems a common practice that these structures were relegated to agricultural storage duty once they ceased their noble purpose as meeting places for education. 

The building's original slate roof is still in fairly good shape. Not bad for 132 years.

Now for the real treat.  The chalk board and wood paneling below is still in place at the head of the class.  With these pictures it's much easier to envision the goings on of America's early educational system. 

Although it was a bright sunny day outside I was still surprised at how light and cheery the inside of the room seemed thanks to the six tall windows.  In the following shot the chimney can be seen resting on a steel beam and pilings.  At some point the owner will lay a new foundation to support what must be an incredible amount of weight. 

What luck to see not only one but two old schoolhouses. And catch both the owners and have the chance to learn a bit of interesting history about each of them.  I consider this little expedition a success and I got a nice ride in too.

Out and Back
Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Distance:  34.27 Miles
Ride Time:  2:22:58
Average Speed:  14.3 mph
Max Speed:  31.1 mph

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One-Room Schoolhouse -- Whetstone Township

Here's another schoolhouse I encountered late last summer on a recumbent ride out into the Ohio countryside.  The building now sits proud but somewhat neglected between some natural gas equipment and a farmer's grain silo.  Look closely my bike is leaning up against the silo in the far right. 

Visible at the peak of the roof is all that is left of the belfry or structure that once held the bell that called class to session at the beginning of the school day. 

While not technically a "cornerstone" as seen in other architecture the marble plaque set into the masonry clearly identifies the district and construction date after all these years.

AD 1886

Documenting these old schoolhouses is a feature I have wanted to incorporate into this blog as an interesting glimpse back in time and yet another example of the cool stuff you can find by hopping on a bicycle and going for a ride.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Work Bench

A couple decades ago when we bought our first home I decided to put my wood working shop in one end of the unfinished side of the basement.  While this arrangement worked there was several drawbacks that eventually forced me to think about moving my woodworking operations up to the garage.  In the basement cramped quarters made maneuvering longer pieces of lumber problematic and controlling the dust was always a difficult task.

Over the past couple of years I moved most of my woodworking tools up to the garage and this weekend I spent cleaning out an area in the back of the garage to set up my work bench.  I designed my bench and constructed the assembly from 2 x 4 lumber, carriage bolts and wood screws.  A friend of mine sourced for me a solid core institutional grade door that I used to make a very solid bench top.  I ripped about a 5" strip off one side of the door to make a tool stop along the back edge of the table top.

Fully assembled the bench weighs a ton but is very sturdy.  I have no doubt it could hold the weight of an automobile.  Luckily my modular design let me break the bench down into manageable pieces and bring them up from the basement.  The following picture shows the frame reassembled in the garage with bench top leaning against the wall behind.

I've got the urge to get creative and I think the garage is going to work out much better as a base of operations for my woodworking hobby especially once the weather warms up.  Opening the big overhead front door and the smaller walk out door along the back wall sets up a cross breeze that will help pull the dust out making it much easier to keep things clean.  The last piece of equipment yet to make the move up to ground level is my vintage Sears wood lathe.  Like the workbench I crafted a sturdy table for the lathe that will have to be disassembled before I can bring it up.