Saturday, January 09, 2016

2016 Is Here! El Nino Is Keeping It Crazy.



January 7th, 2016 here in Columbus. Not a snowflake to be found.

Unseasonably warm days have led to rain-filled gorges in the Hocking Hills of Ohio.

Conkle's Hollow in December of last year.

It has been one crazy "winter" here in the Midwest. Mild temps, not a single flake of snow on the ground, and we have been warmer on many days than back home in So Cal. The nice thing about that for me, is racking up 600-plus mile months on the bike! The ground will freeze soon enough, and that means the mostly unrideable mountain bike trails will be ready to go.
Hail makes road riding "interesting."

Miles are piling up here in the Midwest.

Jeff and Josh have been hosting some great mountain bike rides in Kentucky, and even spending some time down in the New River Gorge logging some miles. I have been dabbling with the new Polaroid Cube + Jennifer hooked me up with at Christmas, and thanks to some amazing January weather, working on maintaining about 120 miles per week...unheard of here this time of year! I am all ready to go for Spring with a new cassette and KMC SLTi chain. My current one has over 4200 miles on it!

Jeff Williams' pic was seen on MAMIL SPORTS UK's Facebook page last month!

Josh and Jeff riding in the leaves at Greenbo State Park, KY.

Ara is recovering well in Glendale. Tsolag is looking after him, which may or not be helping:)
Bob and Cyrille have relocated to a nice new home in Santa Rosa, and VB has not missed any opportunities to ride his various bikes both on and off road.  Randy checked in from the outlying areas of San Diego Friday, where it was just 48 degrees in Ramona. he has been rocking some night rides with his SIGMA Buster 200 and Karma lights. Even my mom sent in a pic from the old backyard of snow-capped Idyllwild. California is frozen, and Ohio has had 70 degree days in December. Craziness!
The Fuzz with his Next-Gen 'cross racers.

Bob eating oysters. Don't ask why.

Randy's Trance is ready for some night riding action.

Matt Thome just had a baby! OK, his girl did...but he had a marginal bit of input on that situation. Mark is probably riding the Fullerton Death Loop and drinking beers.
Matt Thome and the new baby screaming for mom.

Mark Thome ends his rides the way I used to. Bastard.

I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and taking every chance to ride bikes and get ready for the coming season. Sea Otter is just around the corner!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Prospect Ride

   
   Wet and foggy mornings always make me a bit nervous before a road ride. Limited visibility, increased stopping distance on rain-slickened roads, and those damned lane line paint stripes. I hate those things. Thank god I have serious rubber on my Kenda Kountach road tires! This was exactly the scenario yesterday for the fabled "Prospect Ride." This one is a local Columbus favorite, and yesterday was my first time doing it.

    It's amazing how much coffee I can put down. It's even more amazing that I can get my hands to stop shaking long enough to start my Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 computer before clipping in and riding. The crew was on time and had even eaten prior to the ride today, which typically equates to much more satisfactory average speed. Forty six to fifty miles was the projected distance, and we were ready.



    Departing the parking lot of the Olentangy High School parking lot on the corner of Sawmill and Home Rd., we rolled north and west down Hyatts Rd. to Section Line Rd.  Clark-Shaw Rd. provides a nice drop in elevation down to Riverside Drive where we roll north.. I had never even driven this far north along the river, so I was pleasantly surprised by the undulating terrain. Large expanses of farmland were occasionally interrupted by sweeping bends in the river. Cavernous barns dotted the landscape, the faded names and dates of the families who built them barely visible through the weathered wood. A ten mile per hour tailwind driving hard from the south propelled us along Riverside Drive at an alarming pace. Look for the historic Oller Cemetery as soon as you hit Riverside Drive, it's amazing. Grave markers dating back to the early 1800's I am sure hold a lot of secrets.


   River Road becomes Klondike Road just after crossing Rt. 42, and parallels the river all the way up to Marysville Road. Klondike dead-ends into Marysville Road, so you need to make a quick left/right combination and continue north on Warren/Warrensburg Road (same thing). There is a funky corner at Rt 172 and 173 where you can make a mistake, crossing the river and ending up on Ostrander Rd. Don't do it. Veer right (north) and stay on 172 (Warrensburg Road). I will include the link to the corner in question here..
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.3063843,-83.1664689,254m/data=!3m1!1e3

   In very short order and after a right turn, look for the LEFT turn on Hodges Road, just at the crest of the short hill. This is a nice stretch, with scenic vistas of the water and large, custom homes. One of the nice things about this ride, is that the residents along these roads are used to seeing cyclists. In many cases, they will wave from the porch, or even offer fresh water for us like the fine folks at the Warren Presbyterian Church! Just look for the cooler on the corner and help yourself. The church sits at the intersection of Hodges and Rt. 37. Make a quick left on to Rt. 37, and take the first right back on to River Road. This section is nice. No turns for a long time, and just big farms everywhere.


   The next turn comes in the apex of a corner with Watkins Rd. Take the left and continue north, staying as close to the river as you can. Be advised that the road from here on in to Prospect is marginal at best, and in many cases seems more like a Tijuana toll road than a frequently used roadie route. Chip-n-seal, manure covered and even sometimes more gravel than pavement lies beneath your tires. Once here though, you are so close to the halfway mark! You will dead-end in to Main Street, where a left turn places you on the path to the trusty "Dexter's Market." On the corner of Main Street and Water Street, Dexter's is the jam for a restroom and all the junk food and drinks you will ever need to satisfy the calorie debt. Look for the old artillery piece at the American Legion post! This is 23.5 miles.


   Be advised that the return is more downhill than up, but is still hilly and usually means you face a sizeable headwind blasting from the southwest...exactly the direction you are headed. Ride with a  group and paceline it home for the most efficient use of remaining energy stores. I am lucky enough to have bunnyhopping skills, and thusly managed to avoid disaster by jumping a dead opossum in the road.
   Be prepared for the final short-burst ascent up Clark-Shaw, then cruise out the final couple of miles to the car and go eat some tacos.

See you on the road to prospect!


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Fall And Winter Backbone Style.

A little airtime over a camera never hurt!
  
 With such a mild fall and winter here in the Midwest, the miles have been racking up when normally they are dying a painful, abrupt death. Jeff and Josh have been ripping it up in Kentucky and West Virginia since the mountain bike trails are still perfect. They have dropped some amazing fall foliage photos on us over the past three months, and managing to teach people how to mountain bike with frequent skills clinics at Greenbo State Park. Super awesome dudes!
 Josh even managed to pound a 100 mile group ride with the boys and girls of A.C.E.....ON HIS MOUNTAIN BIKE!
100 miles. On a mountain bike. Dick.


Jeff, as usual, makes people feel bad about themselves while leading the train through the singletrack trails, as seen below.
https://www.facebook.com/chris.sharp.338/videos/10207784981763256/?l=5894673641035484458


     Ara was doing great in the So Cal Cyclocross Series, even looking to take the overall series victory! He then found out that an earlier crash was causing blood clots in his knees. This removed him from the series final, and I'm pretty sure he was not happy about that. The docs released him, he did a few short recovery rides, then BAM! Clots came back. He is still dealing with them, and we wish him all of the best.

Beautiful shot from Phil Beckman.


Mark Thome has been landing on the podium for the Over The Hump Series, and blowing up his HRM on the Fullerton Loop in the evenings. Amazing to think that one could be THAT OLD and still ride a bike!! Hahaha...his son and Backboner Mark Thome just had HIS first child...that we know of...in November. That makes Mark a grandfather. Old bastard.
Mark Thome thinks it's a biscuit.
Charles has been racing his Subaru like a freak, and bringing home ALMOST as much bling as he did racing downhill mountain bikes! Check out this latest medal..pretty sweet.


Randy, asleep holding his nuts.

NICE WIN'S WHEELS KIT!


October along the reservoir's single track near Westerville.

The ol' 26er hardtail still works. Go figure.

I have been doing what Randy Rush does...drinking beer and being surly. It's in the contract. Seriously. The riding in and around Columbus is certainly the best between September and January. The leaves are popping, the air is cool and dry, and mosquitos aren't the size of pterosaurs. The road miles for me have been racking up well, with roughly 2400 miles between September and November. Most of it was rolling the country farm roads, but at least this year it was above freezing on most days....except two Sundays ago. See the hail in the photo below...
That's hail.

Admittedly, the cold days last year were awful. Negative 11 degrees is not fun to ride in. It beats CrossFit, don't get me wrong...but it's still not ideal. All of my rides begin and end on bricks, and all bricks seem just a little bit harder and less forgiving on days that are that cold.
Carpel Tunnel? You betcha'!

The open country roads appear quickly from our home here in Westerville. Vast swaths of flat, glacial scraping turned in to corn and soybean fields await me, just minutes from home. Open skies give you at least a fighting chance of seeing the approaching, almost daily storms that roll in from August to November. There are not many places to hide out there, so the reality of having to lie in wait snuggling up to deer ticks in a swail is legit. The trees are amazing though in the fall, and worth every bit of risk. The Cuyahoga National Park roads and trails are perfect in the fall and winter.
Big sky, beautiful roads.


F*****G BRICKS.





Vegas Bob has moved to Santa Rosa, CA. He has been racing in his new home town, and has also been very active in the high school mountain bike racing scene as a coach! He has also been consuming large quantities of beer. Star Wars is coming by Christmas as well, so there is a good chance he will be found somewhere without pants, in a storm trooper helmet. Just sayin'.
Vegas Bob, carb loading.


 All things considered, it has been a magnificent year to ride bikes, from the left coast to the right coast and everywhere in between. Hope you all are out enjoying it while it lasts!

Cheers..

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fuzzbucket Back In The Hopsital


He was in, he was out...now he is back in.
Ara had been diagnosed with blood clots behind his knee a few weeks ago, and had been doing well enough to be released to ride again just two weeks ago. I have been informed by The Fuzz that he is now back inside Glendale Hospital. The clot is back. For those of you unfamiliar with the blood-thinner process, it is a total pain in the chamois.

Weekly drives to a crowded hospital take time away from work. The blood thinners are dangerous. The tests always involve a needle each week. Blah. We are hopeful that he will recover, but he is sad that he will be forced to miss the final cyclocross race of the So Cal Cross series, the Turkey Trot. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Fuzz!

Friday, November 06, 2015

End of Season Write-Ups From Josh and Ara


Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Do-It-Yourself Cleveland/Cuyahoga BikeTrip.

Sunrise from the rooftop patio at The Cleveland Hostel.

   Whew! This is one of my favorites by a large margin. There are so many things to see and do, you will be pressed to even get through this abbreviated itinerary in the two nights and two days recommended. The plan involves leaving work on a Friday afternoon and driving north on 71 in to the Ohio City neighborhood on Cleveland's storied West Side. Get unpacked, then stroll up to the rooftop patio at your weekend HQ,  www.theclevelandhostel.com and see who and what is happening! Enjoy the sweeping vista overlooking downtown Cleveland's skyline, and the amazing "Guardians Of Transportation" that anchor the historic Loraine-Carnegie Bridge (clevelandhistorical.org for more details).
The Guardians Of Transportation stand strong against the elements in Cleveland.
One of the many nice things about staying at The Cleveland Hostel is the second floor kitchen. It doesn't hurt that just across the street is the fabled West Side Market. Between the market and the kitchen sticking to dietary restrictions is a snap for those who need to do so. Visit www.thewestsidemarket.org for details and hours of operation. Take cash and work on your negotiating skills!
Fresh produce and a variety of ethnic foods await the senses at the West Side Market.

The fully stocked kitchen at The Cleveland Hostel is ready for your inner foodie. Grab essentials from the market to save money and eat healthy if you so desire.

The beautiful clock tower puncturing the sky at the West Side Market. This is the focal point of the Ohio City neighborhood.


 For those of us who more closely resemble an all-consuming Whale Shark, the neighborhood is packed with great restaurants and bars to replenish calories. Check out the Koffie Cafe at 2521 Market Avenue, (216) 861-2233 for an early, pre-ride Saturday morning bagel or egg sandwich and a cup of coffee. Look for it right across the alley from Great Lakes Brewing Company. Once properly fueled, grab that bike and hit the road! 

Saturday's route is breathtaking. The link to the ride route will be listed at the bottom of the page, along with Sunday's route.  I would recommend a GPS enabled bike computer so that you can upload the route directly to the unit and have it walk you through the ride. Store faves are the Garmin Touring or the Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 GPS. Both retail for under $300 and are spectacular at what they do. The ride starts right out of the Hostel, and you roll down through the neighborhood and right to the doorstep of The Christmas Story House. It's less than three miles away, and is a fun way to begin the day. Check hours and details at www.achristmasstoryhouse.com
Janis Jett rides past the leg lamp window of The Christmas Story House en route to the National Park.


Just a short distance down the road is a fast descent down the bike path and along the rail lines to the trail head for Cuyahoga National Park. Look for remnants of the old lock system that carried boats laden with goods from Akron to Lake Erie while riding. You will also see lots of animals, and the occasional CVNP Scenic Railway train depot. Use the depots as shelters from seasonal thunderstorms as needed, or if tired jump on one and take a ride! Only $3 a ticket for cyclists, and they will load and unload that bike for you! Trains have food, drink, and restrooms for the weary. Visit www.CVSR.com for railway details and schedules.

The small village of Boston Mill is always a trailside favorite. A museum, restrooms, and a nice cafe called "Trail Mix" await you. For the adventurous, you can stay the night (with a reservation) at the historic Stanford House, a quasi B & B operated by the park service. Clean rooms in an historic home and free breakfast are not a bad way to spend a night in the park. Check out www.conservancyforcvnp.org/space-rental/lodging/stanfordhouse for details. 
The large lock in Peninsula is a wonder of 19th century engineering.

October is the best time in the park.

Pushing south you roll across a marsh with an elevated wooden bikeway that runs for roughly 3/4 of a mile. It's pretty amazing, and you cruise right up in to Peninsula while riding through and over a series of the locks along the old system. Pull out in Peninsula for a drink at The Winking Lizard if needed. If not, ride over the massive lock and continue south along the trail.
The wooden trail platform south of Boston Mill.



Marshes and locks, quarries and bridges await as you head south towards Szaley Farm. Their website, www.szaleysfarm.com, will provide the necessary info for a visit. The corn maze here is outstanding, as are the food offerings. This a nice place for a break before riding over to the Everett Road covered bridge just across the old highway. It's at this point that you can choose to ride back along the towpath trail, or follow the map directions and roll back along the eastern edge of the park. 
The Everett Road covered bridge is always a ride favorite.

Once east of Peninsula, you jump the old rail-trail (paved) to beautiful Brandywine Falls. Here you will find viewing platforms and a restroom/water stop. Depending on regional rainfall, it's either a raging torrent or a trickle, but still worth the trip. Leaving the falls you begin a very low grade ascent up to the Sagamore Hills neighborhood. This will eventually put you at the gateway to Tinker's Creek Gorge State Park. You won't be long here, as we make a hard left and drop back down to the valley floor for the final push home along the Cuyahoga River. The river is one of a very select few that run NORTH, which always manages to mess with my sense of direction.
Brandywine Falls in all it's glory.

Once back in the valley floor, we head north toward the Hostel the way we came in. Get back to your room, shower, and get ready....food and libations await! My favorite post-ride spot (not counting the rooftop patio) is the tiki bar just south of the Hostel on 25th st, PORCO'S! Chorizo tacos and drinks that you are only allowed one of make those weary legs perk right up. Dead puffer fish lamps and bamboo everything make you feel like you are aboard the Kon Tiki with Thor Heyerdahl. Check out hours of operation at www.porcolounge.com
The Mind Eraser, Level 2 from Porco's.
Closer to the hotel you will find Great Lakes Brewing Co. They have a perfect outdoor patio for a summer or fall evening of burgers and pints. The "Burning River" is my favorite (mostly due to my being a dork for history), and the sunset view across the street to the clock tower is just stellar. Be sure to grab a six pack for the rooftop patio later! Check out www.greatlakesbrewing.com for up to date beer offerings and menu selections. 

Ohio City also features fan faves like Nano Brew and Market Garden Brewery. Nano Brew is a cycling-centric bar that has a HUGE wooden Jenga game in the back, along with a bike repair stand and plenty of tools for the bike tourist/commuter. Market Garden has an unbelievable pork chop dinner and their beer taps are hand-made renditions of the Guardians Of Transportation. They sell by the growler too, so WATCH OUT! The links to these fine watering holes are www.nanobrewcleveland.com and www.marketgardenbrewery.com.

The taps at Market Garden Brewery.
Sunday always hurts a little bit, and NOT because of the riding from Saturday. Wake up a little late, have breakfast and get on the bike. This day, head north on 25th, then east along the route (listed below) to hit the waterfront homes along Lake Erie. We ride to Rocky River today, home of Sue Johansen's "Wild Flour Bakery." Her facility provides most of the tasty treats for the high end hotels and restaurants in the area. Check out a sweet treat at www.wildflourbakery.com.

The Rocky River gorge is a blast, and the bike trail is part of the larger Emerald Necklace trail loop throughout northern Ohio. Since Sunday is a recovery ride, the route just becomes an out and back so you can get a shower and pack out before 2p.m. On the way back home there are a couple of nice parks with sweeping vistas of the lake and Cleveland proper. Look for the large howitzer, ride it like a bronco and take a photo. Use the hashtag #curattiing so we can see that you found it!

Get to the Hostel, pack it up, and get home before dinner. You will beg for more once the legs recover, and with so many other great options in Cleveland for ride routes and fun, you will return often. Hope to see you on the rooftop! I hope this helps make the adventure a little easier.


Saturday's long route link via Cuyahoga National Park is found here  http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/806496569

Sunday's shorter ride route to Rocky River is here..
http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/504186750