Friday, April 10, 2015

At Long Last - Spring!

The snow seems to be gone for the season.  Temperatures are trending up, and the nights are no longer below freezing.

The spring peepers are out and singing, birds are building nests, and daffodils are beginning to bloom.  All this can only mean one thing, and that is that spring has finally arrived.

This winter wasn't as bad as last by any means, but we did have over 70 continuous days of snow cover - and that's a bit of a test.  Either way I'm glad that it has finally passed by and that the seasons of getting outside are back with us.

My efforts at improving my fitness have been going pretty well.  Kenny and I are in the 9th week of our weightlifting workouts, and have been able to keep up a fairly consistent schedule of three workouts a week.  I have skipped a couple of Sunday workouts, but when I have there's been a bike ride or trail work to take it's place.  Kenny, being full of the vigor of youth, is definitely showing signs of development in his shoulders, upper arms and upper body.  Even my past-prime self is slowly firming up and showing some improvement.  It's been a long time since I was involved in a weightlifting program, and it's just as little fun as I remember.

I've been doing very well with my calorie intake as well.  Forcing myself to enter everything I eat on the Mapmyride nutrition counter has been a huge help.  So far in over two months I haven't exceeded my daily allowance of 2300 calories, plus any calories burned via exercise.  According to the calorie deficit that I'm counting over the last 9 weeks I should definitely be burning off some fat, but I'm avoiding the scale until next month some time.

Despite the wet weather I've managed to get in a couple of mountain bike rides since snowmelt. The most notable was last month when there was a spike in temps corresponding to a week without rain.  Kenny was out camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, Diana was in Columbus visiting her sister - and I was unsupervised for the day.  So I headed down to Bavington and rode my favorite section down there.  The trails were almost all dry, with only two places where sitting water caused me to get off and walk.  It was one of the first real mtb rides of the year, and I was fairly satisfied with my riding and stamina.

On the trail at Bavington.
After finishing up at Bavington I took to the road for a couple of hours and ended up just across the West Virginia state line at Cooper's Rock State Forest.  I'd done a bit of research on this place, and thought that some of the trails open to mountain bikes and marked 'easy' would be a good, low stress way to end up my day's adventure.  Little did I know that the park wasn't open yet, so I had to park outside the gates and ride the hilly road up to where the trails started.  Once there I rode a couple of miles that definitely were NOT easy, but had spectacular scenery and views.
At Cooper's Rock State Forest, looking down 1400 feet at the Cheat River.

On the Rock City Trail at Cooper's Rock S.F.
Since that time it's rained pretty regularly, leaving all the trails around way too soft for riding.  So I've been getting out on different rail trail and road rides, just trying to get in a few miles here and there.

Getting ready to hit the trail in an early spring blizzard
Sufferfest on icy Little Beaver Creek Greenway before the snow melted.
At the edge of the wildlife preserve north of town. Note bald eagle nest in trees above steel pole.
Snapping turtle crossing on Little Beaver Creek Greenway.
On Sandy Creek Trail, PA overlooking Pine Run.
Repairing a broken chain on Western Reserve Greenway Trail in Ashtabula County.
Earlier this week I packed my kayak and bike on the car, dropped Kenny off at school, and headed east to paddle some whitewater in Pennsylvania.  There had been significant rain for two days, and I hoped that I could find someplace to paddle without too much hassle.  I got lucky on my first try, as Bear Creek (between Parker and Bruin, PA) was at a low but fun level.

Looking upstream on Bear Creek from the put-in bridge.
It had been something like 7 years since I paddled this creek, but I had high hopes that it would provide an interesting morning.  The run starts off slow, but before long some bigger rapids show up.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still able to make the technical moves required on this class II creek, but I wasn't so overconfident from a couple of good moves to take unnecessary chances.  So I ended up walking around a couple of the harder rapids, which was just fine with me.

After the 3.5 mile kayak run I stashed the boat in the woods and hike back upstream on the old rail grade above the creek, climbing about 400 feet on the way back to the trailhead by the road.  There I changed out of my wet gear and picked up my bike from it's hiding place for the road ride back to the car.  It turned out great - about 2.5 hours of physical exertion and I still had time to get in nearly a half day of work!

And the good news is that it rained another 2 inches over in that area last night!  I'm set up to head out early in the morning tomorrow to try my look again on the creeks over there.  This time I'm hoping to get on Deer Creek, and I think that I might bring along the GoPro and try to get some whitewater footage.  If it turns out I'll be sure to link to it here on my next post!

Old house in Salem, OH.  Love those chimneys!


  1. Steve, by the look that most of your pictures are gray and overcast, I know you are making an effort to get out and get after it. I hear you on the youth thing. I watch as my boys trim and firm right up with not much working out while it takes a lot of time for me to even trim an inch of fat off the waistline. Good for you to stay with it. I have been out of the mountain bike thing for about a month. In anticipation of the arrival of the fatbike I was telling you about I took the knobbies off my Ogre, changed them to some pavement friendly shoes and it has become my commuter. Alas, the fatbike has still not arrived, so, I have been content to road biking this spring so far. I know, first world problems!!
    I like the picture of the old house. Majestic!!
    Keep up the work-outs and cycling/kayak double days!!

    1. Jim,

      Yeah, I really start to go nuts if I don't get outdoors and wear myself out on a a regular basis. Makes me wish I was better at winter sports, so that I could enjoy the snow more. But with my bad knee I think I'd better avoid skis - so what does that leave besides fat bikes?
      Unbelievable that your bike is still hung up in shipping. It's been a LONG wait for you - hopefully those guys will work out some resolution soon and get things moving again.
      Headed out for another bike/boat excursion this last weekend. Had a GREAT time, but it wore me out for the rest of the day!

      Steve Z

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