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.


  1. It was my pleasure, Swampy. At the north end of our beach there is a very extensive wooden boardwalk that is forbidden to bicycles, but the park closes at sundown and yes, I have been known to pedal down the beach on the Goose and sneak onto the boardwalk under a full moon and ride like a maniac up and down the mile or so that it covers. It is a blast and like a self-propelled roller coaster, with the waves of the Atlantic crashing in the background. I don't know what they will do to me if they ever catch me but it will be worth it, I think.


  2. Awesome write up! That night ride by the full moon sounds incredible. Glad you are still getting out in the woods.