Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looketh Over There

Time has passed, and according to the calendar on the wall spring has sprung.  By now we're almost 3 weeks past the end of winter and we're finally starting to get some weather that is somewhat spring-like.

But we've regularly had temps down into the 30's at night, and when I was out last weekend there were stray snowflakes drifting down out of the sky with the thermometer reading 36 degrees.

The oldest trick in the book - call it spring and it's going to snow.  Older than books even.  And I'm not convinced yet that we're not going to have this oh-so-funny prank pulled on us this year.  I still look out the window when I get up in the morning with a sneaking suspicion that everything is going to be covered with a layer of white.  It will definitely be a while before I believe winter is gone this year.

That's fresh snow on the Western Reserve Greenway on March 25.

As the seasons start to change I start looking forward to changes in the things I can do outdoors.  We've had a temporary pause in our trail building efforts, since the area we're working in has a tendency to hold water in the spring.  But I think I'll be heading out that way this weekend to see if the dirt is starting to firm up yet.  It doesn't have to be dry enough to ride - just dry enough that we don't sink in the water and mud up to our shins.

Another one of the things in flux this time of year is the bicycling destinations.  During the winter its more likely that I'll be riding on pavement - rail trails or the road.  And as the weather warms and dries it allows me to get off the pavement and get back to riding singletrack in the woods.  This change is starting to happen now, but most of the trails are still not ready for bicycle traffic.

But with the snow pack starting to diminish in March I was lucky to be able to get in quite a bit of pavement riding - my total for the month was just over 230 miles.  That meant a bunch of rides on the Western Reserve Greenway, and also quite a few rides on the Little Beaver Creek Greenway.

Open trail on the Western Reserve Greenway.

Little Beaver Creek Greenway, and the creek with some water in it.
Active rail line next to the LBCG trail brings commerce from Youngstown.
Another rail trail, one that I checked out in March for the first time, is the Stavich Trail.  It runs parallel to the Mahoning River from Lowellville to New Castle, PA.  This is another great ride - one that has curves and hills - and even some lumpy pavement on the Lowellville segment.  It joins the other transportation arteries in the valley as it heads into Pennsylvania.

From the left - road, Stavich bike trail, railroad, gravel maintenance road, and Mahoning River.
The trail is another that parallels an active rail line for a part of the way.  In the two hours I rode there were 6 trains - but they go by fairly quickly and the trail quickly quiets again, with only the birds and wind for company.  And there does seem to be quite a bit of wildlife out this spring - they must be as anxious for a good meal as I am for a good ride!  Since the beginning of March while riding I've seen dozens of turkeys, a whole bunch of deer, beaver, opossum, trumpeter swans, and about a million squirrels.

I've also taken the bike to work so that I could try to get over to Mill Creek Park and get in a little bit of a ride during lunch.  Turns out that it takes just over 15 minutes to get there, so I'm limited to less than a half hour of riding.  But I just discovered that if I head out parallel to the river that I can get to the Stavich Trail parking area in exactly 10 minutes, so I can get in 40 minutes of riding during lunch.  So I'll be doing that on nice days this year for sure!

East Cohasset bike road in Mill Creek Park, Youngstown.
Last Saturday I took advantage of the recent rains and headed east into Pennsylvania with my kayak and bike for an adventure at East Sandy Creek.  I always enjoy the drive into the Allegheny valley and choose a back road route for the best scenery possible.

My car with boat and bike, parked at Kennerdell overlook above the Allegheny River.
After verifying that East Sandy Creek was at a level that I'd be able to paddle I stashed the kayak in the woods and headed back west to the Belmar trailhead for the Sandy Creek Trail.  I left the car there and got the bike ready for the ride back upstream.  The first notable feature is the old railroad bridge, high above the river, that was renovated for the trail.

Sandy Creek Trail bridge at Belmar.
View of the Allegheny Trail bridge over the mouth of East Sandy Creek.
The trail is always an enjoyable ride, with a mix of rocks, woods, and creek that keeps the scenery interesting.  The builders incorporated five old railroad bridges in the lower run, each with views into the creek valley.

Sandy Creek Trail scenery.
East Sandy Creek from one of the trail bridges.
The trail also goes through a .3 mile long tunnel that has been rehabbed in the last couple of years.  Now it's a fairly easy passage through the dark - before it was a wet mess, complete with piles of bricks that had fallen from the roof.

The west portal for the tunnel on the Sandy Creek Trail.
A little further upstream and I got to the area where I'd hidden my kayak.  I hauled the bike in and started the change from biking gear to boating gear.

Leaving the bike, and getting ready to get in the boat.
On the bank, ready to put-in.
The creek was a little bit high from the rain.  East Sandy Creek is one of those creeks that has a fairly narrow range of water levels for paddling.  If it's too low you're in for a miserable day of scraping over rocks in search of a deeper channel.  And if it's too high the rapids start to wash out and the fun level drops appreciably.  But it was the first paddling trip of the year, and I was satisfied with what I got.  My camera stayed in the dry bag for the entire paddling portion of the run, so there are no shots from the creek, other than at the put-in and take-out.

At the take-out. The creek runs into the Allegheny River just out of frame to the left.
After finishing the run the third part of the East Sandy triathlon begins - the long carry from the creek back to the Belmar trailhead.  It's about 3/4 mile and includes the climb from the Allegheny Trail up to Sandy Creek Trail.  Seems like I'd forgotten just how little fun this part really is...

Looking up at the Sandy Creek Trail bridge, from the Allegheny Trail.
'The Cardiac Climb' - time to carry the kayak up the 66 stairs.
Taking a break on the carry back across the high bridge.
It was a great trip and I had a good time, though it took most of the day and left me feeling way more tired than I expected.  Still, I had plenty of energy the next day when my brother suggested we take our mountain bikes down to the trails at Bavington, Pennsylvania and see if they were dry enough to ride.  I was glad to take the chance, and was pretty sure that there would be at least some sections of rideable trail.  When we got there we found that the trails were almost all dry enough to ride, though there was considerable trail damage from some inconsiderate equestrians.

Matt at Bavington.
This was the first non-snow mountain biking of the year and it was SWEET to get out and spin some miles on the dirt.  All the rail trail riding had my legs feeling good, and my breathing was up to the challenge.  The Bavington trails are a great destination for riders who are looking for an intermediate trail without the crowds.

Quality singletrack!
The upcoming weekend looks like nice weather, but Sunday is Kenny's Boy Scout fundraising dinner, so there will be extra demands on the schedule.  But I hope to get out at least one day and get in either a mountain bike ride, a long rail trail ride, or a kayak trip. 

If it doesn't snow that is.

The natives are restless.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Give Me Patience

Each of the four seasons is theoretically 1/4 of the year and should therefore last three months.  This year we've got more than our share of winter, something that is probably pretty obvious to anyone living in the Northeast.  It started being winter sometime in November, even though the calendar says that winter doesn't start till after the middle of December.  So we've had half of November, all of December, January and February - and now it's March and I'm still looking out my window at snow.

Lord, give me patience.

Patience to wait out the days as the temps slowly start to warm and the snow shrinks and finally vanishes.  Patience to wait out the 'mud season' so that the trails will be firm enough to ride.  Patience to wait until the conditions are finally just right for a great mountain bike ride, or whitewater kayak run, or maybe even a backpacking trip.  Just take a deep breath and relax - that time is definitely coming soon.

But I've been trying to get out and do what I can to get some fresh air and exercise.  I've been doing quite a bit of trail work this winter, cutting new corridor to finish up the phase 3 trail at North Road Nature Preserve.  Last summer we built a section of trail through the mature woods that line the creek.  This is a beautiful area, and pretty easy to make trails through, as the canopy keeps the undergrowth down to a reasonable level. 


Flagging a new section of trail in the more mature woods.
 
But in the fall I started working in an area with a much younger woods, and another area of dense scrub.  This stuff is HARD to build trail through - I call it 'the most work for the least return'.  Thankfully the distance through this scrub is not that long on this loop, so a couple more work days should at least let me cut the corridor all the way through.  Then as the weather improves and the ground eventually dries up we'll be able to start getting the stumps out and filling in the low spots.  We hope to finish this trail loop by early summer, and spend the rest of the year improving the existing trails and possibly adding a new trail extension.  Even though these are beginner level trails, it is absolutely a GREAT thing to have a mountain bike trail less than five miles from my house.

I headed out a couple of weeks ago to try and get in a ride on the rural roads in northern Trumbull County.  The roads were clear of snow, but any place that I was legally allowed to park was still covered with 8" of soft snow.  So that pretty much ended that days riding before it even started.  But by last weekend there had been a few days where the temps got above freezing, so the snow cover had lessened, and I had hopes that I could park in one of the rail trail parking lots and get in a road ride from there.  It was still mostly snow covered, but clear enough that my little car could get in and out without too much trouble.

Oakfield parking area, Western Reserve Greenway.
It's pretty easy to make a route up there that follows roads with almost no traffic.  I think I usually see an average of one car every 10 minutes (and mistrustful me, I usually pull off the road to let them pass).  There are some interesting old dead ends in the area, too.   Here's one I followed till it reached the edge of the wildlife area:

Don't shoot swans.
The road surface wasn't exactly easy to ride on, but if I wanted easy I could always sit on the couch drinking beer.

Some of the dead ends get very little traffic this time of year, so the snow is easier to ride than on the road above.

Very quiet back here.
And sometimes you can find a bike accessible route on roads that haven't seen car traffic in years and years.

Bridge closed - except to stubborn bicyclists.

Occasionally these dead ends require a bit of hike a bike - especially in the areas with unbroken snow - but its all good.

Hike a bike territory.

But I always end up back on the pavement, heading back into farm country. 

Smooth riding!
I have Friday after lunch open for riding again this week.  And with temps forecast to climb today and tomorrow I'm hoping that this chest cold that developed yesterday gives me enough wind to still get out and ride.  If not - patience...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Grind

It's been a while since I posted anything here - since November in fact. I believe that's the longest gap since I started the blog. But in my defense, there just hasn't been a lot of fun stuff to write about lately.

The holidays are through, and that's a good thing. I'm not a big holiday type person, and I'm glad when the blatant commercialism and worship of well-packaged crap is over for another year. We had a typical Christmas, even though it's harder to make it happen as Kenny gets older and leaves childhood behind. Still, he was more or less happy with what he got and I guess that's enough.

The main thing on my mind lately has been winter. This won't be news to anyone who lives nearby, but this winter has been unusually tough. We've had wintry weather since the end of November, with a colder than normal December and January. The mid-winter thaw that has been such a wonderful reset the last several years just didn't happen this year. We've had just about constant snow cover, and way more than normal days with temperatures below zero. Usually I pride myself in being able to deal with winter and still do the things that I enjoy, but when the thermometer gets down to single digits or below I really have very little desire to be outside.

Between the snow and the frost heave (also known as 'needle ice') on the trails there hasn't been very much mountain biking this winter. I've managed a couple of trips out to West Branch, but the trail conditions each time were less than ideal. With winter riding you expect it to be way harder, so it was still worth the trip - but its not something that I want to do that often. I've also headed over to the nearby North Road Nature Preserve to ride a couple of times in the last two months. These are the mountain bike trails in town that I've been working on building for the last three years. We're a small group of volunteers, so it's taken us that long to build three miles of trails. They're basically beginner type trails, with no real hills, and very few rocks or roots. But they're only a couple of miles from the house, and by riding a complete circuit in either direction I can get an hour of riding in the woods - and that is a good thing.


Beside Mosquito Creek on the North Road Nature Preserve trails.

I've tried to take advantage of the rail trails this winter too.  I've done a few rides on the Western Reserve Greenway - until I overestimated my skills and underestimated the ice cover, which resulted in the hardest crash I've had in a couple of years.  It's been over a month and the road rash is still healing.  I also got in a couple of rides on the Little Beaver Creek Greenway, which has to be one of the best around.  So far this winter I caught it with just a little snow, with a lot of snow, and in the middle of a blizzard.  But the trail is great, with curves and mild hills, where many of our NE Ohio rail trails are flat and straight.  And the scenery along the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek is hard to beat.

The Teegarden Bridge alongside Little Beaver Creek Greenway.

And just to show how far this winter weather has pushed me - I've been out riding on the roads several times.  Usually I don't like to do road rides - as a million mile plus driver I've seen way too many idiots at the wheel to place my trust in a random motorists talents.  But with singletrack unrideable, and the rail trails covered with snow packed down by illegal snowmobilers (and boy does that make me mad), the only choice remaining has been on the roads.  I do realize that I'm lucky to live in an area that has easy access to sparsely travelled back roads - seeing a car every ten minutes is about the average up there.  But I now ride with a rearview mirror and almost always stop when I see a car approaching from behind to make sure I'm not about to become another statistic  (go to crazyguyonabike.com and check out the "Sweet Rolls" tour journal for a sad story about this - and take a minute to leave some words of encouragement in their guest book too).  But it can be a lot of fun on the back roads in Amish country.

Gravel road riding between snows in southern Ashtabula County.
Riding through the old farm country can be very pleasant.  The terrain is mostly flat, and since I ride my mountain bike the road surfaces are always good enough.  As I spend more time on these back roads I'm picking out the best spots for to string together to get a nice road loop that I can access from the rail trail once the snow melts.

Old fashioned quality building.
The trick is finding the balance between traffic and snow cover.  Too little traffic and the snow doesn't get worn down, too much traffic and it's not safe.  So sometimes I choose the lesser of two evils, and ride on roads that are maybe a bit more snowy than I'd like.

Snowy, but not quite TOO snowy.
So I endure, just like everyone else.  The days are getting longer at over 2-1/2 minutes of added daylight each day.  Spring approaches - eventually.  I wait for the weekends, when I have time to ride in the daytime, and hope that the weather will at least minimally cooperate.

In non-bicycling related news, there have been a couple of developments.  For one, the firm that I work for has gotten two big jobs in the last couple of months.  When the recession hit the competition in our field got pretty fierce for the few remaining jobs, and we've gone over five years between big commissions.  But we recently won the contract on the biggest building we've ever done, and another big job not long after that (and another one that looks very promising coming up).  So that means some of the pressure is off about paying the bills etc.  I'm very thankful to the partners in the firm that we managed to stick it out through the lean times, and keep on pushing ahead towards recovery.

Another interesting happening is that I was appointed to the Trumbull County Metroparks board.  One of the retiring board members, familiar with me through my work on the North Park trails, nominated me for the post, and in December I was sworn in.  I have no illusions about the job - things happen slowly, and progress has to be planned carefully.  But I think that we have an amazing county park system for the population we have, and am excited to be able to be a small part of continuing the improvements that we've seen in the last ten years.


With the calendar heading towards spring, and the inevitable return of warm weather, I'll probably be way more likely to get out and ride.  Which means that I won't be likely to go another two months between posts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Under the light of the silvery moon

My blog posting as of late has been a once-a-month thing, with a recap of the previous month sometime in the first week or so. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get things together early in November, and neglected to post. So, under the 'better late than never' heading here is an update.

September was a pretty good month for riding, as I tried to meet a mileage challenge of 200 miles (which I managed to beat by 10 miles or so). But in trying to get more miles I rode less singletrack and more road/rail trail. Any type of riding is good, but I do consider myself to be more of a mountain biker, so sacrificing time on the dirt to rack up numbers didn't seem like a very good idea to me. So in October I tried to get my bike time on dirt if possible, rather than more miles on the rail trail. The monthly mileage total was only 150 miles in 16 rides, but 8 of those rides were on the dirt. For me that's not too bad, especially considering that my bike was out of service for several days in the middle of the month. I also spent a bit more time on trail work, with two group days and two solo days. Fall is a great time to work on the trails up here - the mosquitoes are finally gone, and the poison ivy loses dies back a bit. My long term trail project at the county park is starting to get to a point where it provides a nice, close to home riding alternative.

One thing about riding this year has bothered me - it seems like I never have enough time to just ride until I'm tired enough that I want to stop. It's relatively easy for me to carve out regular chunks of time in the 2 hour range (my wife is very understanding of my need to get out). But it seems like my ride is always defined by the time available and not the energy I'm willing to use. Here's hoping that this situation will find some resolution in the upcoming year. One thing I could do to get in more long rides is to focus on the nearby trails, so there is less driving time and more riding time. Even though I love to get out on a variety of trails, that is something that I'm going to have to keep in mind.

The weather was pretty good during October, and I did finally buckle down and get the majority of the leaves raked in our yard. If we get one more fairly dry day above freezing I should be able to finish up - I raked 42 bags so far, so I'm guessing that there are about a dozen more to go. But today the weather is making a point of not cooperating - the forecast is for up to a foot of snow in the next day or so. As I look out my window a steady snowfall is coating the Youngstown buildings. So I'm guessing that there won't be much riding for at least a little while, since 4" is about how much I can ride through without having a major coronary.

All this riding, trail work etc could lead a person to think that I'm fantastically fit, but that is really not the case. I'm probably in as good condition as I ever have been, but the fact remains that I'm a short, slightly overweight 50 year old with a respiratory problem. So my rides aren't that impressive - either in length or in speed, and my stamina is not that great. I know that I have to keep active to stay fit, and it's become part of my lifestyle to try and get out every other day or so and get some exercise. Taking all that into consideration, I had a banner day earlier a week or so ago.

Saturday started out brisk - perfect weather for working on trails. I met with a couple of other volunteers and we spent a couple of hours cutting a new trail corridor, and bringing the tread on another section up to finish quality. Our volunteer group isn't exactly a flock of spring chickens, so we're satisfied with a relatively short trail work day. After we finished up I headed home, but rather than plopping down on the couch to recover I decided to take advantage of the clear day to rake up some more leaves. Two and a half hours later I had over 20 bags filled, and the job was past the halfway point. I was pretty tired out, and figured that I'd be pretty much exhausted for the rest of the day.

We headed out to my sisters for supper, and spent some time watching some of my Dad's slides from 50 years ago. It was just what I needed - good food and a chance to relax. Afterwards, as we drove home I couldn't help but notice how bright the full moon was, with the sky being mostly clear of clouds. Just seeing that spotlight of a moon gave me a burst of energy.

As I was driving I said to my wife, "Do you have any problem with my trying to get in a night ride at West Branch tonight?" She knows that I love night riding, and I'd told her earlier in the month that I was hoping for a good full moon ride this fall, so she gave me her blessing. As soon as we got home I packed my gear and bike into the station wagon and headed out.

The mountain bike parking lot at West Branch State Park was empty when I got there at 9:00 - no big surprise there. The sky had started to cloud up slightly as I drove out, and now there was a thin layer of clouds across the sky. But the moon was so bright that it lit up that whole area of clouds, and I could see around me almost as if it was daylight. I geared up, put the lights on the bars, and headed out without turning them on.

The pale light through the clouds was bright enough to read the trail by, thanks to the recent storm taking most of the remaining leaves off of the trees. Some places the leaves on the trail blended in with the roots and dirt, but by keeping a slow speed I could feel my way over everything. Occasionally the clouds would move so that the moon was shining through a clear spot, and then the forest would light up even more - enough that I could see my shadow on the trail ahead of me. I rode for over an hour, covering more than 6 miles of rooty singletrack, and never even turned on my lights. While I was loading the bike up I realized that I hadn't even thought about being tired during the whole ride. The magic of the surroundings had provided the stimulus, and my basic fitness had provide the ability to experience something special. Later at home, relaxing with a cold beer, I entered the day's activities on my Mapmyride account, and was surprised to see that it totaled well over 2000 calories of exercise.

As far as non-bicycling news goes, the biggest (and best) news is that it looks like business is finally picking up at work. We've had a long (loooong) dry spell between big jobs, which looks like it is going to end very soon. Too early to say definitively, but it sure looks promising. Another small tidbit of personal news - as part of the Mosquito Lake Greenway Committee, it was obvious that our area needs some sort of meeting place for bicyclists. A club would be the best thing, but I'll be double damned if I ever go through torture again. Instead, I started a Facebook page called 'Warren Bicyclists' to post local and regional bike news, and provide local riders with a place to meet each other. Obviously it could have been better timed - starting up just as the Ohio riding season is coming to an end isn't helping. But slowly it's drawing members, so that hopefully it will be useful in the spring when everyone is ready to ride again.

Of course I'm ready to ride NOW. Not looking likely, but I'm ready to go!

NOTE: Blogspot is giving me an EXTREMELY hard time putting this post together. Hopefully I will be able to edit it and add some photos soon. And thanks TJ for a nudge to get this post done.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rollin' Around Again

Even though we had a 'cool' summer compared to the last several years, there is no mistaking the feeling of fall slowly sneaking on in.  Where sleeping with the window open was providing a breath of fresh air at best, now the night temperature is regularly down in the 40's and the room is chilly when I wake up.  The woods still look green, but already some of the trees are starting to drop their leaves.  And the wheel has rolled around far enough that it's still dark when I get up to start the work day.

But I love the feeling of autumn, so it's not hard to accept that the warm weather is on the way out, and that winter is not too far around the corner.  I look forward to mountain bike rides over crisp leaves with bright colors blazing through the woods.   And I love it when the foliage dies back and you can see the contours of the land through the woods.  So I'm all ready for autumn to start in earnest.

September was a pretty good month.  The rainy pattern from earlier in the season didn't repeat itself, so there were only a couple of periods of manageable precip.  I took up a mileage challenge with a buddy to ride a very reasonable 200 miles during the month, and I managed to finish it up on the last day.  I got in just over 210 miles in 19 rides, with 7 of those rides being shorter mountain bike rides on the dirt.  It's only about the fourth time that I've totalled more than 200 miles on my mapmyride workout record, so I'm pretty happy to have managed it.  But I have to say that riding towards a goal, rather than just riding because I wanted to, made it seem kind of like a work schedule.  I'm sure I'll get in some comparable mileage months, but I think I'll avoid setting goals.

I made the majority of my monthly mileage in 12 longer rail trail rides, so I did get to spend quite a bit of time on our local greenway.  I know some places the bike trails are really congested, but in our neck of the woods the usage is pretty light, except at the sections adjacent to the trailheads.  And that means that I've spent many hours this September - this whole summer really - pedaling solo down well paved green corridors.  I put together a short video to give an idea of what its like.

video

Starting out at the Sunside Trailhead and heading north is a nice 13.4 mile ride to the county line.  The trail continues on another 20 miles or so to end near Lake Erie in Ashtabula, but there is a nice bench to rest on at the line, so I'll often ride up and take a break before heading back home.


The rail trail goes through a lot of farm land, some active and some abandoned.  Old apple trees grow beside the trail in some places, allowing the more adventurous riders to stop and enjoy an old fashioned apple - or maybe even some wild grapes.

 
 
It's still almost as green as the heart of summer still, but there are some signs that it won't be long before green turns to orange, yellow and red - and then to grey, brown and white.
 


For most of the month we avoided the extended rainy spells of June and July.  I did head out into the boonies during one overcast day and got a few pictures before and after the rain.
Before...
Just after...
and sunnier skies begin to show.
With the cooler nights we've had some intensely foggy mornings.  I absolutely love fog.  I love being out in it, and I love to try to capture the feeling in a photo.

 
 
 
 
 
Even when it's not really foggy, the sun on the cool, moist ground brings up a ghostly ground mist.
 
 
 
This month I even took a picture with an actual human in it.  This is my brother and riding partner, taking a break on the trail at Bavington, PA.
  

 
And it seems fitting to sign off with a sunset.
 
 
Here's hoping for clear skies and tail winds for everyone out there.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is a kind of milestone by which the summer is measured.  I'm definitely not one of those guys who thinks that it means the end of summer - heck, just looking at the calendar will show you that there's another three weeks still owed to us.  And summer is kind of a state of mind anyway, not something that's necessarily easily defined by the calendar.  But it is the end of the three 'summer months', and with school starting it means a change of routine for students and parents.

I've had a tough time getting into the summer mind set anyway this year.  I definitely missed the early summer mountain bike season, which kind of dissolved into mud thanks to the all too frequent rains of June and July.  But August - it really did give me the flavor of summer, with all the heat, sweat, bugs and grit that I'd missed.  I did have a 'no faith in humanity' moment early in the month, when someone stole my mtb backpack - with all my tools, pump, first aid kit, camera equipment, etc - out of my car, but that's been the standout negative happening in a basically good month.

The rain did finally let up in August.  I only got 4 singletrack rides in during June, and four more in July.  Almost all of my rides were longer rail trail trips, where it doesn't matter if the surface is wet or dry.  But in August I managed to get in seven singletrack sessions - not a big number by any means, but an improvement.  And there were also about a dozen nice road or rail trail rides too, so I managed to get in about 170 miles in the saddle in August.  Compare that with July, where the focus was on longer rail trail rides and I managed to total up 223 miles.  Hopefully the weather will allow some more mountain biking in the upcoming month - I haven't even been out to ride at Kennerdell this year and would really like to.

Labor Day weekend ride at Bavington, PA.


I always take my mountain bike when I go for rail trail rides - because it's my only (working) bike.  Sure it's heavy as hell, and it takes a lot of energy to bring it to my top cruising speed of about 15 mph.  But the idea behind my pavement riding isn't to go as fast as I can, but to build up fitness and burn those extra calories, so a big heavy bike is just fine.  But my father-in-law (a truly good guy) got me an el-cheepo bike at an auction, so I've been fixing it up with the idea that it will be my rail trail bike and I can stop wearing out my knobby tires on the asphalt.

This bike is a tank.  It's a 26 inch "Stalker" 12 speed - steel framed, mega-cheap.  The flimsy wheels are stamped '1989'.  The derailleurs are at least Shimano, but they're not a model I've heard of before.  I stripped off a mess of ugly plastic dress up parts, which lightened it up a bit, and replaced the ruined tires and tubes with second hand equipment from the basement.  It took a couple of days (because I am REALLY not a bike mechanic) but I managed to get both of the derailleurs to shift correctly - and the brakes to work.  I plan on putting some narrower, smoother tires on soon but even now it's kind of fun to ride around the neighborhood.   It gives me some incentive to try and rehab the 1980's Puch Cavette frame that I've had since I was a teenager...

Another thing about Labor Day is the Oxroast Car Show, sponsored each year by the Glenn Christian Foundation at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.  This is a totally FREE event (free parking, free admission, free midway rides, free music, and a big free ox roast meal) and is the high point of the local car shows.  Every year I spend time there and every year it's a lot of fun.  This year was no exception - beautiful cars, great weather, and fun with friends and family.  I've posted up a couple of pictures of my favorite cars.

My favorite of the whole show.
Really a work of art.

Fantastic inside and out.


It was a fitting way for my son to end his summer vacation as well, with a great day of cars and fun.  Always a good thing to see the boy having a good time.


Now lets see what September has to offer.  Hope everyone who stops in and checks out the blog has a great end to their summer, and a fine start to their autumn.