Friday, August 21, 2015

Rolling With the Changes

Time for another blog update, and it's not going to be the one I thought I would be able to write.  I was planning on writing about the bike tour on Greenbrier River Trail that my son and I planned on taking.  But that didn't happen.

I don't want to spend a lot of time complaining, but here's what happened.  Three days before we were supposed to leave an uninsured driver hit my car at a stop light, which caused enough damage to total the car.  With all the hassle because of the uninsured motorist, and the trouble with my insurance company on getting a rental car that I could take to WV I was forced to cancel the vacation.  It took almost two weeks to get things straightened out and get a new car - and then it broke down within the first week and took a major repair.  But that's all history now, so no use dwelling on it.

Broken wheel number one: my totalled VW.  Lucky the bike didn't get ruined as well.

Broken wheel number two: the other front wheel is pointed straight ahead.
Ken and I did manage to get the bikes out for an overnighter at Clear Creek State Forest, Kennerdell Tract.  So we did get to use the pannier systems that I made, and it turned out that while they do work they need some tweaking to get them perfect.

Ken on his bike, getting ready to ride into Kennerdell.
You can see them on the photo above. Diana got us four waterproof bags on clearance, for something like 80% off.  So I bought 100 feet of 1 inch black nylon strapping, and designed and sewed up two harnesses that hold the bags on the bike.  They hold quite a bit of stuff, but I can see that I'm going to have to start investing in some ultra-light camping gear if I want to actually do some real touring.

Our bike packing trip turned out great, with nice warm weather.  We camped at almost the exact same spot where we stayed last time we headed out there, a nice ferny section of woods not far off of the gravel forest road.  We used our new tent for the first time, and Ken got to be camp cook.

Ken loves it when I take his picture.  Observe the enthusiasm.

I'd like for us to be able to get out on at least one more overnight bike trip before the season turns.  I'm thinking of a paved bike path trip over by the Allegheny River, probably from Emlenton up to the campsite on Sandy Creek Trail, then back the next morning.

Bike camping map - Allegheny River Gorge area

And we've got a long weekend planned for Labor Day, with Diana actually able to get the whole weekend off work.  Hopefully we'll get a bit of rain so that we can camp over by the Clarion River and get in some kayak time.  But even if it's dry we'll be able to get out and camp, and that's good enough!

Classic lines at the LaBrae car show.
On to the next topic!  It's been about 7 months since I started watching my calorie intake and increasing my amount of exercise, all in an effort to shed some weight that I'd put on over the previous year.  This wasn't the first time that I'd tried this since turning 50, and there was no reason to really expect any more success than I'd had at earlier efforts.  But I figured that limiting my calories (including eliminating sugary foods and drinks from my diet), and adding a basic weight training program could only have good effects in the long run, even if my weight didn't change much.

The first couple of weeks were tough.  I definitely have a sweet tooth, and eliminating Mountain Dew from my routine was harder than I expected.  But I kept at it, even if there were no noticeable changes for a looong while.  But after about two months I started to notice a difference - maybe that's just how long it took my metabolism to get used to a different nutritional balance.  And now after 7 months I'm down about 25 pounds - from 205 to about 180.  I know it's not a huge difference, but for me at 5' 5"  I feel a LOT better without that 25 pounds. And since I'm not planning on returning to my old diet there is hope that the gradual weight loss will continue for a while.  If I was able to drop another 15 pounds I would be extremely satisfied.

With the weight loss and all the extra rail trail miles I put in during the extra rainy months of June and July, it seems like I'm riding my mountain bike pretty well this year.  Trails finally started to dry out towards the end of July, and all the local trails are finally in great shape.  I've had some great rides out at West Branch on the fat bike, as well as on my Gary Fisher Marlin.  And the trail crew has repaired the trails at Quail Hollow, making the trail better than it's ever been.

West Branch State Park, Rock Run Trail.

The skinnies on West Branch's Exit Ramp Trail.

The Marlin at West Branch S.P.
Even though we're already in the last month of summer we still have a bunch of stuff on the schedule, including a trip up to Conneaut, Ohio tomorrow to watch a D-Day re-enactment.  I'll remember to take lots of pictures for the next blog post!


  1. The car trouble thing is such a glitch in the plans. Looks like you made the best of it and still got out.

    1. Yeah, can't stay fixated on the problems or else you might miss a chance to make up some of what you missed. This has been a pretty grim summer at our house, but since cycling is my 'safety valve' for stress relief I'm still focused on getting what I can.

      Your 'short' tour looks like a ton of fun. I love my Allegheny foothills, but I have major envy for your scenery (and whitewater - that river looks like a blast).