Monthly Archives: October 2010

Seen at the Seagull Century

While Felkerino and I started our bike tour, the rest of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area cyclists made their way down to Salisbury, Md., to ride the Seagull Century.

OK, not everyone, but a large number of them.

I’ve never participated in this event, but it sounds like an EXTREME social gathering on bikes. According to the Seagull website, over 8,300 people participated in the 2009 century. Yikes! That is a ton of people!

My cycling friend Leyla was at the Seagull this year (which took place October 9, 2010), and mentioned to me that she would be wearing a Capitol Dome on her helmet during the ride. What? A dome on your helmet?

Leyla (in the middle) and friends sporting their Capitol Dome helmets

Now that’s not something I see every day on my commute. Actually, I’ve never seen anyone riding with a Capitol Dome on their helmet, on my commute or otherwise. I like it (although wearing it might diminish a person’s image as a “serious cyclist”)!

Thanks for sharing the photo, Leyla, and I hope everybody who rode the Seagull Century had a great ride. At least, the weather finally cooperated this year!

Cycling the C&O Canal

This Sunday, I briefly met up with those doing the Chuck and Crista ride out of Hains Point.

See? I made it to the ride start

They were going the opposite direction from me, however, so after a couple of miles I left the group and pedaled the Quickbeam out to White’s Ferry via the C&O Canal. It was a stunning day to ride the towpath. Have you been out there lately? It’s just gorgeous.

Fall Color on the C&O

The C&O was a great choice for a Sunday ride, and the Quickbeam made for a perfect bike selection. The ever-so-slight uphill grade as you ride west requires virtually no shifting so one gear is all a person needs.

I expected the C&O to be crowded with cyclists, runners, and walkers, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it moderately trafficked. Around mile marker 7, I spied a cyclist taking a break along the side of the path. He was using a Carradice bag and had an interesting bike setup so I just had to stop and talk with him!

Nick and his bike

“Where did you come from? Where are you going? What about your bicycle? Tell me everything!”

Nick, a touring cyclist from Washington state, was just finishing up a five-day tour from Pittsburgh, Pa. (He took the Alleghany Trail to the C&O, of course!) He told me that a week from now he and his girlfriend will be starting a major tour, riding from Washington state to Mexico. Wow, that sounds so great!

Nick sounded like a serious touring cyclist who was quite adept at camping and cooking. Being a credit card tourer, I envied his skills. He also reported that he has read The Daily Randonneur, which of course I found quite exciting since one of my favorite people in the whole world is the author of that blog.

Here is another picture of the bike with a better view of his Carradice Camper. So nice!

The Diamondback and the Carradice Camper

Felkerino and I have a black version of the Camper that we took on our recent tour and it worked great. Those bags are like magic hats. They don’t look that big, but you can fit an amazing amount of stuff in them. And check out those wheels. Nice and sturdy!

After a good talk with Nick, I left him to finish up his seven remaining C&O miles, and made haste toward White’s Ferry.

White's Ferry

The Quickbeam and me on White's Ferry. One dollar, baby!

I ended up taking the Ferry to Leesburg and making my way back home via the W&OD Trail. It was not nearly as beautiful as the C&O, but I did save a turtle’s life by removing it from the center of the trail. Ok, maybe I didn’t save its life, but I was helping it out. It did not seem to agree.

This turtle is mad at me!

It was a great ride. Perfect weather, met up with friends, rode through the fall color, met a cool cyclist, and saved a turtle. Not bad for a Sunday ride!

Farmers’ Market and a Rivendell Romulus!

My stop by the White House farmers’ market today proved particularly fruitful, not only in terms of the apples I bought, but also because of the bike I ended up spotting.

First, the fruit. Spring Valley Farms stocked me up on apples, and I got to pester chat with the staff about my recent bike tour. Our tour took Felkerino and me through Romney, West Virginia, which is the home of Spring Valley Farms. Twice a week, these guys make the two-and-a-half hour trek (by car, of course) from the idyllic cycling country of quiet West Virginia roads into Washington, D.C. It’s a hike, but I’m glad they do it because I like their produce. And it’s fun to talk about the area around Romney.

The Surly LHT at Spring Valley Farms

Now, the bike! As I stepped in line to pay for my produce, I noticed that the person in front of me had a Rivendell Romulus. Excitement! I know there are a few Romulus commuters out there, including one person who I’ve seen with a set of Baggins panniers, but it’s not every day I see one stopped right in front of me.

Sloan, the owner of the bike, had set up his Romulus with a Brooks cut-out saddle, toe clips (for commuting purposes, he said), and NO FENDERS. So bold and optimistic! I also believe that’s cork in the bar ends. Nice!

Sloan and the Rivendell Romulus

I would have liked to take a few more pictures of the bike, but we were both maneuvering in a small space, the light was fading from the sky, and the flash can be distracting to others. I don’t want people to think I’m a totally weird bike paparazzo.

Thanks, Sloan. I am glad we ran into each other at the farmers’ market! (And I hope I spelled your name correctly!)

Weekend, I hear you calling me. Where are the mailboxes? Have a great weekend, all!

The Accidentally Humbling Multi-Modal Fall Bicycle Tour

The Co-Motion along the C&O Canal

When Felkerino and I began planning our recent bike tour, we put a lot of thought into where we wanted to start. Should we drive somewhere with the bike and begin pedaling? Fly to a distant location for a supported tour?

We determined that we wanted to ride from home. No gas, no car, no muss, no fuss. And how cool is it to tell everyone that you went on a 700-mile bike tour that started from your front door? It’s cool!

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about all the places that I rode, and all of them from my own front door. We are so awesome, I thought. Other people are out driving to their vacation destination, or taking flights to do who knows what. Not us, though. We are righteous cyclo-tourists!

Righteous Pedestrian Panda-Riding from our Front Door

October 11th came and Felkerino and I started off proudly on our journey. Around 40 miles into our tour, however, our self-satisfaction rapidly plummeted as the wheel of our recently serviced Phil Wood rear hub began its death rattle. Pedal pedal clunk. Pedal clunk clunk. Clunk clunk clunk pedal. Clunk.

Felkerino checks out the hub at White\’s Ferry, C&O Canal

After some stressing on the C&O Canal and some choice words about Phil Wood, Felkerino and I rushed home and swapped out the rear wheel. Felkerino summed up the day on his Facebook page, saying:

Phil Wood hub clunks. Phil Wood fixes under warranty. Phil Wood hub taken on tour. Phil Wood hub makes hideous noises. Phil Wood hub leaking grease when we return home, 80 miles ridden. Phil Wood hub retired as we drive to our first overnight on tour with backup wheel. Thanks Phil Wood.

Not wanting to set our tour back at all and not feeling like adding another 60 miles to the 80 we had already covered for the day, we put the tandem on our roof rack and drove out to Harpers Ferry. Yes, we drove our car. Boo.

It was a sad day, as I could no longer be so righteous and I couldn’t tell people that we rode to “x” place from home. Now I had to say we rode from Harpers Ferry, W.V. Oh well! I still felt good we had worked ourselves out of the day’s jam.

Car, Bike, and Felkerino and Harpers Ferry, WV

The next eight days of riding were amazing. I won’t go into detail, as I’ve already summed up the riding on previous posts. The bike worked perfectly (as did the captain, ha ha!). The weather, scenery, and routes were unforgettable. The bike made not a peep for the remainder of the tour.

Felkerino, Crista, and Chuck

Yesterday, we returned to our car, loaded up the bike and ourselves, and drove to dinner in Frederick, Maryland. Our car then decided it was not going any further. We were stuck in a strip mall parking lot with our bike on the car roof. We called AAA, were advised there was “something major” going on with the car, and waited for a tow truck.

For a moment, we considered riding our bike the 60 miles home. It was a pretty evening. But it was 7:30 p.m., and the last thing I felt like doing after my bike tour was riding a bike. Our car was towed to the shop, we were towed by our friend Chuck to the Metro, and he also took our bike back to his house.

As we walked home from the Metro, Felkerino said, “This tour sure is ending on a whimper. We left with our bike, had to come back to get our car, now we’re walking home with neither. I blame Phil Wood.”

It was a little unceremonious to be sagged by our friend, return via Metro, and walk in our front door with our bags on our shoulders, but I found it hysterical. No, we didn’t get to say “I rode here from home” whenever anyone asked us about our trip. Our tour wasn’t petroleum-free. We didn’t have a triumphant return home on two wheels (or even four) Sunday evening. We got home four hours later than we planned, and we had to drag our tired selves to work today. We still have to have our car fixed and do something about that blankity blank rear Phil Wood hub. But through a little bit of luck, some help from our friends, and the good old Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority we made it home unscathed. I’m not going to send Phil Wood a thank-you letter anytime soon, but I must confess that I had a great vacation!

The Co-Motion on Skyline Drive

The Tour that Keeps on Giving. From Harpers Ferry, WV – Home

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Felkerino and I rode the final 50 miles of our fall tour today. Middletown, Virginia to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Tailwinds and more quiet back roads. Excellent views of the Shenandoah River. Easy rolling terrain, sun, and bare-legged riding. Yes!

As some of you know, Felkerino and I resorted to driving to Harpers Ferry on Day 1 of our tour when our rear hub began to fail 40 miles away from home. We made it back to D.C. on the ailing wheel, but then drove our way out to West Virginia.

After that little hiccup, our tour ran seamlessly. It was nine amazing days on the bike. 706 miles of riding, zero rain, buckets of sun, yummy fall air, and vibrant scenery.

Today’s ride was a perfect finish. The best part was that our friends Chuck and Crista rode the first 20 miles with us. Thanks, guys!

I thought for sure that our legs would be the first thing to crack, but it turns out that our car was. 40 miles from our front door, our car sputtered grumpily and refused to run. Fortunately, we had stopped for a bite and were in a parking lot when it happened.

Our car was towed, and we were rescued by Chuck. OK, there was no trail angel on this tour, but Chuck must be in the same league with them. Now we’re nice and cozy on the Metro. It’s been an exciting day, both on and off the bike.

I’m ready to return to the office. I’ll look for you on the commute!

LATER: By the way, we made it home safe and sound. Thanks for following the adventure!!

 

We interrupt this tour for the D.C. Randonneurs 200K Brevet

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Felkerino and I ditched the bags for the day and rode the Cacapon 200K brevet out of Middletown, Virginia. A group of around 35 people participated. Even though we rode much of the ride alone, it was great to see and ride in the vicinity of fellow riders.

This route has about a kerpillion feet of climb over 128 miles. Ha! In fact, someone said it falls out at around 9,000 feet.

The first half of the ride was the most challenging, with some unsheltered windy climbing up into West Virginia orchard country. Even though the wind was fighting us up there, the clear day made for excellent views. Also,the temps were pretty warm (50s, I guess).

The second half of the ride seemed to mellow out, and the winds took pity on us. We covered quite a few miles in the George Washington National Forest, with the second half highlight being the climb up Wolf Gap.

I loved the route’s mountain, valley, and orchard views, but now I’m glad it’s over and I will enjoy the rest of the day’s beauty from the pictures on the Weather Channel in my hotel room.

It’s quite a shift to go from touring to brevet mode. Instead of our leisurely 70-80 miles, we covered 128 miles. We happily left the bags behind, but then had to be mindful about carrying brevet cards and making controle windows. And NO SHORTCUTS.

It was worth it, though. Our club has such gifted routers, excellent volunteers (thanks Bill, Charlie and Katrin), and friendly members. Thanks to all who kept company with us!

Back to touring mode tomorrow for ONE more PRECIOUS day.

Skyline Drive – mile 42 to 0

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That was fun. How do you like my new patch?

More downhill than up today and a solid descent into Front Royal, Virginia. There was a big influx of people and cars onto Skyline Drive today. It was nice to make our exit from the incoming traffic with memories of yesterday’s solitude dancing in our brains.

Some sun, some wind, a couple drops of rain to keep our guard up, and back to the edges of Interstate 81.

More riding tomorrow, but that’s all the pedaling for today. Yippee!

Skyline Drive – mile 105 to 42

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The day started in mist, fog, and a climb from Waynesboro, Virginia, up to Skyline Drive. Morning fog kept us well-insulated from any mountain views so I spent the morning focused on the trees and falling leaves within ten feet of me.

Around one, the winds kicked up and pushed away the low-lying cloud cover and kept steady company with us for the rest of the day.

Tour conditions are in transition. We avoided inclement weather, but the temperatures fell into the 40s and the wind whipped everything around, including us. Felkerino and I were getting far too spoiled by these 80-mile, low humidity, calm sunny days. What kind of brevet training is that?!

It was still a great ride. Traffic was sparse. The blue sky and afternoon sun after a damp gloomy morning buoyed my spirits and kept my legs turning the pedals. The wind gusted loudly through the trees and washed us in crisp leafy air. Views of the valley and colorful trees were not crystal clear, but they were grand enough to keep me enthused about the ups and downs of the ridge.

Also, the more challenging conditions of today’s ride made me feel perfectly fine about devouring a cookie and Route 11 sweet potato chips for lunch.

Tomorrow, more Skyline!

Field Trip: Harper’s Bike Shop. Knoxville, Tennessee

The final stop of the recent Tennessee bike tour work trip was Harper’s Bike Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee. This was a large shop just outside of the University of Tennessee campus, and has been around for 50 years. At least, that’s what I was told.

 

Mural at the Rear Entrance of Harper's

 

The shop carried a nice variety of bikes, but the bikes that most caught my eye were the staff’s bikes. Check out this SyCip. Isn’t it amazing?

 

Shawn's SyCip

 

 

SyCip Rear Rack

 

I love the custom rear rack. Shawn, the bike’s owner, said that he had added the wood panel to the top of the rack. I also love the way SyCip uses coins on the top of the seat stays and the fork. Shawn thought maybe this bike was a little overkill for an around-town bike, but I’m not sure if I’m able to make that judgment. If you’ve got a beautiful bike, ride it anywhere you want.

This shop’s inventory included a Lynskey titanium road bike as well. Apparently Shawn was freeing it from his personal stable. (Was this his previous “around-town” bike?) Check this out.

 

Lynskey Road Bike

 

I bet if I owned this Lynskey I would be able to do all my 200Ks in 6 hours or less. Ha ha!

Shawn mentioned that Lynskey uses helix technology on the seat stays, which is visible here.

 

Lynskey Helix Technology... and look at these brakes!

 

I’m not really sure what helix technology does (I’m sure it MUST make you faster, more vertically blah, more laterally something), but it does make for a nice aesthetic.

Finally, one of the other employees had a gorgeous green Waterford with what look like Honjo fenders and a great Sackville front bag. Delicious.

 

Waterford and Sackville

 

 

Waterford and Brooks

 

I have a few more pictures from my stop at Harper’s, and they are here.

Harper’s is definitely a cool place, and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Knoxville. Just don’t even think of staying past closing time, though, or I’m pretty sure they will kick you out. They’ve got bike riding to do!

Waynesboro, Virginia

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Hey, we’re in Waynesboro! The last time Felkerino and I passed through here we had been rescued off the Blue Ridge Parkway by an Appalachian Trail trail angel.

Why, you ask? Thanks for asking!

We had gone on tour from D.C., made our way down Skyline Drive, pedaled up to Wintergreen, and were making our way back to the Blue Ridge Parkway when clink clank clunk, our bottom bracket bit the dust. We were stuck, and at a loss for what to do.

The top of the Blue Ridge is not the best place for a mechanical. Few cars and patchy cell service. And a tandem mechanical? Often trickier than a single due to the specialized parts and the overall size of the bike. You can’t put a tandem in a Prius, for example.

Enter trail angel. He had just dropped off some hikers and ended up taking our bike and us down into Waynesboro. It was a great and unforgettable rescue. There are some really good people in this world.

Now here we are again. We didn’t arrive via the Parkway. Instead, we chose quiet valley roads. It’s lovely to be here tonight, especially having enjoyed five days of spectacular riding so far.

The adventure continues tomorrow as we head up Skyline Drive. Felkerino is getting his helmet cover and Gore Tex out. Sigh. I guess I should, too.