Sunday, April 29, 2012

MTB -- Mohican State Park

It's been a while since me and my vintage steel Yeti got a healthy dose of single track medicine.  Today was bright and sunny but cool, the perfect conditions for a bike ride.  I headed out to my favorite trail located in Mochican State Park and departed from the trailhead located along OH S.R. 3

If the above photo is viewed on an ipad or similar device you can zoom in on the map and get a decent look at the park.  The trail climbs and descends and skirts ridgetops along the Clear Fork Gorge.  I rode a total of about 17 miles.  Starting at the far right side of the map on the North side I rode 8 miles of single track then descended down into the valley.  I crossed the Clear Fork River on a covered bridge (Located near the cluster of 3 red icons and 2 blue ones near the left edge of the map).  I climbed up the south side of the gorge using the paved park road then back to the single track for another 8 miles back towards the trailhead  on the South side of the river.

The first or West bound leg starts off with a beat-down 1 1/2 mile climb to the ridgetop.  After that the trail becomes a mixed bag of sweet swoopy downhills and lung busting climbs and a few short rock gardens.  The leaves are all well on their way but the foliage is not dense yet and beautiful views are plenty from the higher elevations.

As a middle aged mountain biker I'm not as fast as I once was but I feel my off road bike handling skills have developed over the years to their highest state.  Today I was spot on hitting every line through root and rock with precision and balance.  Any mountain biker knows that off road riding is a crucible of pleasure and pain and the pleasure (downhills) always seem so much shorter.  It's really sweet and almost a spiritual experience when your game is on and all goes well on a ride. 

I started the ride with 40 psi in my tires but soon let about 10 pounds out improving the ride  even more.  My bike is a chromoly Yeti from the late 1990's running a 32-20 single speed conversion.  My fork is a '05-06 Rock Shox Sid that has given me flawless service.  I run about 110-120 psi in it's +/- air chambers.  I call it my vintage Yeti complete with old school V-brakes which actually work fine for me.

When in the woods I always take time to admire the plants and wildlife I see on the way.  They are varied and plentiful here in North-Central Ohio.

Where telephone poles come from.

Eastern Yeti in it's natural habitat.

I don't have a computer on the Yeti and don't worry about ride times and statistics when I go trail riding. I simply enjoy the natural beauty around me and that unique symbiosis between me, my machine and the trail.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cool Bike Art by Ryan Heshka

I love everything about this!

Ryan Heshka website:

Contact info for availability of limited edition giclee prints: 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

W0S Special Event

Unless you've been living under a rock and not had access to any media you've probably heard about the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster.  A couple Saturdays ago I was listening to 40 meter CW on my ham radio and I noticed this station with a short callsign calling CQ and taking calls from other ham stations.  I waited for an opening and jumped in and made contact.  Later that day I sent out my QSL card and a SASE to confirm the contact and a short nine days later I found the above special event QSL in my mailbox.  Talk about running a tight ship that's about the quickest return I've ever seen from a special event station. 

The cool thing about this contact is we used the same mode of wireless communication -radio and Morse Code keying that was used on that fateful night 100 years ago.  A great tribute to those wireless operators aboard the Titanic, Carpathia and American shore stations without whose valiant efforts many more souls would have surely been lost.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Shooting Bench -- Charter Arms .22 Pathfinder

I love supporting local manufacturers and Charter Arms of Shelton, Connecticut is an American firearms maker I've had my eye on for a while.  I finally picked up this little snubby from my local hardware store this morning so I would have a revolver to shoot when Wyatt and I head out to the range for some rimfire pistol practice. 

 I have also been considering which type of firearm that would suit me best as a concealed carry weapon. I've always been a fan of wheel guns and personally feel that if I was ever in a situation that put me under duress and having to consider the use of deadly force I would want a simple and reliable revolver. Racking slides and high capacity magazines of semi-automatic pistols while great for the Hollywood action movie are really best left to professionals like the police and military.  Certainly all firearms users public or private are entitled to their own opinions but if I ever found myself backed into a corner I don't want to be worrying about manipulating a safety or jacking the slide of an autoloader I just want to pull the trigger and make it go bang!  Another trait of the revolver that makes it shine as a defensive weapon is that in case of a missfire for whatever reason the double action trigger can be instantly pulled again bringing the next live round into battery.  A missfire or cartridge jam could potentially render an automatic pistol useless at the absolute worst time.

 While a .22 caliber such as the Pathfinder is too underpowered for a carry gun I like this model for several reasons.  The small frame rimfire revolver shares the same dimensions and weight as the centerfire .32, .38 and .357 magnum calibers in the Charter Arms lineup that would make ideal defensive weapons.  I would only consider a .32 caliber or larger for personal defense.

I believe that if one is to use a firearm for self defense that person must be exceedingly proficient in it's use.  The only way to achieve mastery of small arms is lots and lots of range time.  Having two weapons with identical controls and heft with one chambered for the inexpensive .22 cal rimfire and the other in a more potent centerfire caliber as the actual protection piece seems the logical system to employ.  Hours of enjoyment can be had plinking cans and punching holes in paper with the cheap .22 allowing for the big caliber to be brought out occasionally for live fire exercises -Saving money and wear and tear on a critical piece of equipment that may one day be called upon for that most important duty of saving your life.

Of no less importance is the fact that .22 rimfires are just plain fun to shoot.  In the afternoon the rain quit and things started to dry out.  Overnight the temperature dropped considerably and we had to break out our winter coats but that didn't slow us down a bit and we headed out to the range after lunch for some rimfire fun.


My partner brought his H & R Model 686 .22 convertible.  The single action six shooter has two cylinders, one for .22 long rifle and one for .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire.  He's not fired the gun with the .22 WMR cylinder but I have and it really cracks!

After about 65 rounds fired to figure out how to aim the little stainless snubnose I managed to get a few into the sweet spot.  The 2 inch barrel of this gun is really short.  The hits on the target pictured below were fired from a distance of 21 feet.  Wyatt and I have finally burned through a brick of 500 Winchester .22's and our stock now needs refilled.  This will provide an opportunity to try some other brands of rimfire ammunition  and put a few downrange from a little further back next time.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Tire Swap -- Recumbent Ride

When I first got my HP Velotechnik recumbent bike I changed out the stock tires for narrower Schwalbe Stelvios. I chose the Schwalbe rubber because they measured 1.10" wide opposed to the stock Primo Comets at a fat 1.50". The Comets are a touring tire and with a fully loaded rig I suspect they would perform nicely but they feel slow on the bike. While I'm not a racer or a tourer for that matter I do like performance and I like to push myself on the bike. The best yardstick for measuring is of course how far how fast and tires can make quite a difference.

The Schwalbe tires have about 2,160 miles on them and still have plenty of usable tread but during my routine inspection I noticed the sidewalls starting to get some good sized cracks running along the circumference of the tire. I'm sure they would be fine but the cracks make me nervous with 100psi of pressure behind the casing. I've been looking at new tires trying to decide which new models to try and decided in the meantime to put the original Comets back on.

I've been getting over a cold for the past couple weeks and although I have been riding the short commute to work and back I haven't felt up to hitting the open road.  Finally tired of sitting around I swapped the tires and set out for an easy cruise yesterday after work.  I inflated the Comets to 80psi a little short of their rated 100psi.  What I noticed right away was the comfy smooth ride.  The wider tire on the front 20" wheel completely removed the twitchy nature that was always present with the skinny 1.1" Schwalbe up front.  I've always felt the bike's handling was impeccable, smooth and precise but the wider tires seem to hold the road even better and I found myself taking turns faster with more lean.  Carving turns on a recumbent is great fun, an experience unlike that on a standard upright.

The Primo Comets have a reflective silver stripe on the sidewall. I'm not sure if I like the look of them or not.

For the time being I'm going to ride the Comets and give them a chance.  I need to change my mindset about this bicycle and quit worrying about my average speed and look at it more from an enjoy the ride- touring point of view.  I think I've said it before but some fredly habits are hard to break.  I've tried to deny it for a while now but what I really need is a super light titanium recumbent.  A bent without the added weight of suspension equipment pared down to deliver the basics -speed, light weight and comfortable recumbent riding position.

I live in the bottom corner of my county so it's not hard at all to travel through three different counties in a 20 mile loop.  I struck off in a South West direction and randomly chose my route as I went figuring I would use the Southerly winds to help blow me back towards home at the end of my loop.  Arriving at a crossroads in Tully Township, Marion County I found this cool old schoolhouse.  This one's been retrofitted with a sliding steel door.  It doesn't go with the architectural style very well but I'm sure that's the last thing on the current owner's mind.  At least he's made an effort to take care of the structure.

Tully Township near Martel, Ohio

It's interesting to me to see how the owners of the old school houses have gone about the minimal upkeep required of these sturdy little buildings.

The traditional standing seam metal roof which I've seen on several schoolhouses now has got to be the  hands down winner in the categories of durability and longevity as a roofing material.  The original slate roof I photographed for an earlier post this year has proven an amazing service life of over a century but that type of roof is unpractical and obviously way to expensive for what is basically considered a storage shed by the owners of these old schoolhouses.

This school has a peculiar window treatment I've not seen yet.  It looks like quite a while ago the windows openings were covered with corrugated fiberglass sheeting and steel mesh.  Discoloration from the rusting metal over the years can be seen on the sill stone, bricks and all the way down to the sandstone foundation blocks.

Crawford-Morrow-Marion 3 County Loop
Ride Time:  1:31:59
Distance:  18.19 miles
Average Speed:  11.8 mph
Max Speed:  24.4 mph

Monday, April 16, 2012

Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding during his Presidential Campaign, 1920
Last year while on a bicycle ride here in North Central Ohio I passed the birthplace of Warren G. Harding.  For some time I have wanted to add to my blog some more details of  the famous Ohioan and the 29th President of the United States.

Yesterday was a sunny and warm spring day so I decided to use the Triumph to ride 40 minutes to the city of Marion, Ohio to visit the Harding home.  Harding settled in Marion after he graduated from college and began his career as a newspaper man.  

The home and small museum located at the rear of the property were closed during my visit but I still had fun poking around the grounds on my own.  Even though I've lived in the area all my life I've never seen the historic home he built in 1890.

Here is a link to a web page with some pictures of the interior of the house and a brief synopsis of Harding's life and times:

The Harding home is not an extravagant mansion but a handsome Victorian style wood frame reflective of Harding's middle class status at the time.

Warren G. Harding Timeline

1865    Born on November 2 near Blooming Grove, Ohio
1882    Graduated from Ohio Central College, Iberia, Ohio
1884    Purchased the Marion Daily Star
1891    Married Florence Kling De Wolfe, born in 1860 in Marion, Ohio
1899    Elected to Ohio State Senate
1903    Elected Lieutenant Governor of Ohio
1914    Elected United States Senator
1920    Nominated for U.S. President Republican Party
1921    Inaugurated President of the United States
1923    Died at San Francisco, California
1924    Florence Kling Harding died at Marion, Ohio.

I love the huge front porch and the view looking out towards Mt Vernon Avenue.  Harding began his bid for the presidency by giving speeches from the top of these steps which became known as the "Front Porch Campaign"

Pretty cool to stand right there where it all went down!


In 1978 the Harding house was donated to the State of Ohio and has remained in it's care ever since.  In an interesting side note my wife LeeAnn has an aunt who lived in the house and LeeAnn remembers as a child spending the night on a few occasions there.  The only place she was forbidden to go was the Harding bedroom which was used at the time to store many of the Harding's personal belongings.

Next I hopped back on my motorbike and rode a short mile and a half distance to the President and First Lady's final resting place the Harding Memorial.  It's an awesome place.


From a series of informational plaques I gleaned this interesting knowledge:

Prior to state ownership, the properties were owned by a private organization, the Harding Memorial Association.  The HMA was organized soon after President Harding's death in 1923 to raise funds to build a proper gravesite for President Harding. The HMA was comprised of President Calvin Coolidge, members of the Harding cabinet, Marion businessmen, and prominent members of Washington D.C. society.


A Sum of $977,821.76 in private money was raised for construction of the tomb.  More than a million people contributed to the project, with funds coming from across the United States, The Philippines and Europe.  More than 200,000 school children also collected pennies for the fund.


President Harding had requested a simple burial under a tree and the open sky, and the Harding Memorial Association was determined to incorporate that request in the tomb design.

While I was researching for this post I came across a few quotes from speeches Harding delivered throughout his political career.  This stuff is great and rings as true today as it did 90 years ago.

"In the great fulfillment, we must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation."
-US Senator Harding, Republican National Convention, 1916 

"It is fine to idealize, but it is very practical to make sure our own house is in perfect order, before we attempt the miracle of old-world stabilization.  To safegard America first, to stabilize America first, to prosper America first, to think of America first, to exalt America first, to live for and revere America first."
-US Sen. Harding's view of regaining world balance after World War I, 1920

"America's greatness, her liberty, and her happiness are founded upon intelligence.  They are founded upon that wide dissemination of knowledge which comes only to the many through our educational system."
-US Sen. Harding, 1920

"We need a rigid and yet sane economy, combined with fiscal justice, and it must be attended by individual prudence and thrift, which are so essential to this trying hour and reassuring for the future."
-President Harding, Inaugural Speech, March 4, 1921

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Photos by LeeAnn

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cleveland, Ohio

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Walnut Grove School #10

Yesterday after work I went for a motorcycle ride and found this old wooden schoolhouse tucked away in the hills of Knox County, Ohio about 50 miles from my home.  This one is in amazing shape for a wood structure complete with a bell and an engraved plaque listing the building's history:

Walnut Grove School #10

This one room school house was built in
the latter part of the 1800's, one of ten
similar schools in Jefferson Township.
The last class was held in 1920 as many
small rural schools were consolidated
into larger districts.
For the next half century, following the
addition of two side sheds, it served
agricultural purposes: corn crib,  equip-
ment storage, and hog nursery.
Ken and Ann Wobbecke restored it to it's
original configuration in 2001-2002 so
that it's history would be preserved.

I snapped some quick shots through the dusty window glass.  I wish I could have taken clearer photographs but in the end I decided to convert them to black and white.  The monochrome images slightly obscured by the foggy glass completes the trip back in time. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Ride -- B & O Trail

The last few days the weather has been a bit more seasonal here in Ohio.  We've had some freeze warnings overnight and the temperatures have only been making it into the 50's during the day. My wife worked today and Wyatt went to visit his grandmother so that freed up a few hours for me to enjoy the day on a recumbent ride. 
I've been wanting to get over and ride the 18 mile B & O Trail and today just seemed like the perfect day.  I love riding the recumbent on cooler days because sitting in the full body seat shell traps some of my body heat and really makes me feel warmer.  Not to mention the bike is just damn comfortable for hours at a time in the saddle.

Since the B & O is my "local" trail I've ridden it many time and blogged about it over and over and frankly I'm starting to run out of interesting things along the way to photograph.  Don't fret dear readers because I did manage to take a few neat pictures I think you will enjoy!  

Here's a Native American riding bareback and wielding a war club.

In these photos is what appears to be a stand-off between a cowboy and a Texas Longhorn Steer although I could be wrong about the cow.  I'm just a Yankee from up North and don't know much about wrangling.

You may have noticed an old time steam train in the background of the Indian pictures.  No your eyes were not deceiving you.  One of my favorite subjects in American history is the railroads.  The invention of the steam locomotive drastically and rapidly changed the face of our nation and the world.  I love the chance to get up close to these big monsters from the past.

The engine is huge and not until you put something recognizable right next to it for scale can you appreciate the massiveness and incredible steam pressure it must have taken to get these iron behemoths underway.  And this isn't even a large one by locomotive standards.  Number 917 was a tender and probably spent it's days shunting cars around a yard somewhere.

Just the nuts and bolts that hold the connecting rods to the wheels probably weigh more than my recumbent bike.  I'd also guess one of those big wheels weighs as much as a small car.

Below is a restored Pullman car.

This place just off the B & O is actually a railroad/western themed diner.  The owner went through considerable expense to bring the train cars to the site and build a restaurant against the back side of the train.  Diners can actually sit in the red passenger cars and enjoy their meals.

Another nine miles or so down the line brought me to Butler, Ohio a small village at the Southern terminus of the rail trail.  Butler really is just a one-stoplight town with a restaurant, a bar and a Chrysler-Jeep dealer oddly enough. 

Butler, Ohio was settled in 1823 by Joseph Craig.  The village was founded January 12, 1848 by Daniel Spohn.  Originally called Spohntown but was renamed Independence.  Incorporated in 1877 and renamed Butler after Mexican war hero, General William Butler.  The spur line of the great Baltimore & Ohio railroad network came to town in 1853 and according to local lore this was the only railroad in the United States that entered and left town in the same direction - west.  The line that the bike trail follows today is in the shape of a big D arriving in Butler at the northern end of the village and gently curves around ending just to left of the bike route sign pictured above.

Before I started the return leg of my ride to the North I found some high ground and got a nice wide angle shot of Butler. Picturesque to say the least.

B & O Trail Complete
Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  2:58:59
Distance: 40.20 miles
Average Speed:  13.4 mph
Max Speed:  28.7 mph