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.


  1. Looks like it was a n awesome weekend. Glad you were able to almost double your time in the dirt in August over June and July. I'll take the chopped and lowered burgundy Mercury...

    Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a rainy Autumn.


    1. Dan,

      Yeah, that Merc was gorgeous. I love to see people who can really bring out the best of their cars, and the stuff they can create. That's one of the reasons I like rat rods - they're so individualized.

      If it does turn rainy this fall I hope that it at least drops enough that I can get some kayaking in. I guess I can survive on that and rail trail rides!

      Steve Z