Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gearing up

A few people have asked me about gear... I think the topic can be outlandishly boring, so I won't go into full detail all at once. I'm not exactly a bike-head, so I don't get excited about brands, weights, and all the mundane stuff. I'm learning I do want to make some gearing changes, so I'll talk a bit about that here too.

My chariot for Climate Ride
I ride two Marin hybrids... no not at the same time... one that leans a bit more road and one that leans a bit more mountain. I like them both, and I like Marin as a company... I think you get good bang for the buck, and the mountain hybrid has been with me for more than 10 years of sometimes uncaring rides. I've found the gearing on my road hybrid (see left... the one I'll be riding in CA) is a bit too high for what I need (and forgive my lay terminology here if you actually know what you're talking about). I need some lower gearing to accommodate what, to me, are going to be some pretty brutal hills. That's a project for tomorrow and beyond, because I expect that will require at least a new rear cassette... but who knows. That's what good bike mechanics are for, so off I'll go to the local shop.

Oddly enough the biggest issue with this ride is not the training or the equipment itself... it's getting the damn gear to California from DC. I did a ton of research and after a lot of back and forth on to ship or fly, I decided to fly the sucker. It has as much to do with my flight itinerary as anything else, but I think I like the idea of knowing my bike is traveling on the same plane as me... plus it looks like it might be cheaper. Maybe. I think.

I bought a Sette padded bike travel bag online and I dig its overall look and think it should serve me well for the future. Take a look at shirtless dude's video of the bag. Note to shirtless dude... would have been way cooler if you had packed a bike in there too. Just sayin.

Speaking of gear, I'm also thinking about getting something very alt energy producing: a dynamo that will charge a front lamp and my iPhone while I pedal. I found that my iPhone's battery is a rockstar if it gets a signal, but tries so hard to find a signal when there is none to be found (i.e. rural MD on the C&O) that it burns through a charge in about 6 hours. Since I like the data collection, mp3 playing, safety line, and other features of said phone, I need more juice. We'll see what I end up getting, but I figure this might make me the cool kid tech nerd at Climate Ride. And I'll have a charged phone, unlike the poor saps who'll be searching the campgrounds to charge their Zunes for an outlet.

Ok, that wasn't nice. Nobody has a Zune.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Who else believes in climate change?

Insurance companies, except they are sort of lousy at measuring the economics of it. Which is odd since they're all actuarial about everything...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cabin to Cumberland and back: 156 miles

Check out pics with snarky commentary here.

Part 1, Cabin to Cumberland (Saturday 7/30)

One more weekend left before I leave town on a few trips that won't include my bike... so I decided to make it a good long ride with some camping mixed in to see how it would feel.

Friday night was a late night as I loaded up my bike. And I mean loaded it. I used mostly car camping gear, so I had a wide load. Honestly the weight wasn't awful... maybe 30 lbs? I'm sure that would be horrifying to a real touring person, particularly since I lashed it all to a single rear rack. Thank you inventor of bungees. I wonder if dude's last name was Bungee?1

I got out a little after 6 and the temperature was really nice for a few hours... then that devil heat2 we've been afflicted with kicked in. As you can see in the map data, there is a slowish climb all the way up there (a few flats and downhills too, but trends up) so the slog got sloggier as the day went on and I started tiring a bit.

    2I can't let this go by without saying: weather is different than climate, and I therefore can't say "It's hot, therefore there's climate change" anymore than that dufus Drudge can post blizzard footage (<sigh> in winter... in places that snow...) in a tacit denial of said global climate change reality. That being said... this is historic heat and my nonscientific right side of my brain says, "hell yes, this is global warming," while the left side of my brain shakes its proverbial head (a confusing metaphor, I agree) and mutters something dismissive about "creative types." It's an ongoing battle between the two. Thanksgivings are the worst.

The Paw Paw tunnel was a real highlight. And by highlight I mean "kicked in my claustrophobia and was therefore not fun." The tunnel is friggin huge, so there was no good reason to feel claustrophobic other than the nagging certainty that this engineering marvel of 1850-something was inherently unstable and would bury me at any moment. Good times. Oh, it's pitch black and I left my light at home, forgetting about the whole mile-long-pitch-black-tunnel-thing. I survived. Whatever.

I decided to roll all the way to the campground at MM180 and pitch the tent, then roll the remaining 4 miles into Cumberland for dinner. My iPhone was running low on juice, so I found a bbq place that had a nice spot near an outlet and mediocre food combined with AC. In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen..winn... nah, I can't do it.

"Congrats, you're half done"
I rode back to the tent in temps near 100 in the sun... once back in the tent, I pretended to listen to Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest but was asleep before Award Tour. That's not long. It was 6pm.

Oh, forgot... I should mention I bought a battery operated fan. Pre-use of said fan, I would have mocked me for it. Post use? If you camp in this godforsaken heat, do yourself a favor and get a battery operated fan. I pretty much gave up summer camping after moving from Oregon to DC, but technology has given my summers back to me. And by technology, I mean D-cell battery-driven gear. Who knew they even made D cells anymore?

cabin to Cumberland at EveryTrail

Part 2, Cumberland to cabin (Sunday 7/31)

Let me begin by urging you not to camp at MM180 on the C&O. Beautiful and cool spot, and very convenient to Cumberland (a mere 4 miles away) but holy hell is it noisy. Campers were great, but the stopped freight train must have had some freezer unit car, because it ran AC all night... and not quietly. At 5am, the farmer on the WV of the river switched on the pumps to irrigate the crops. All that said, I was out... like... a... light. 81 miles the day before on 3 hours of sleep = zzzzzz.

Ok, so the return trip was pretty uneventful. I saw a ton of deer on a mostly empty trail through the morning. I got to Paw Paw in what felt like record time, so I crossed the river and went to the gas station for an egg and cheese biscuit. That may sound gross, but to be honest... best thing ever. About then it started to heat up. That forecast for lower temps Sunday? Lie. Total lie. 95 at least and the sun baked right through you.

I took a long break in Hancock (I used the WMRT again... I couldn't risk downed trees on the C&O and I just think the NPS pays less attention to that 22 mile parallel stretch since there's far less traffic). The 11 miles to the crossing plus the climb was brutal... I ran out of water towards the end, but at that point it was all about getting back so I pushed through. Tough slog... so looking forward to a time when these temperatures will be a joke as I'm freezing my butt off on some fall-ish ride.

So... I've ridden every inch of the C&O. What's next?

Cumberland to cabin at EveryTrail

Miles this trip: 156.0
Total miles trained: 1073.4 (!!)