Friday, January 29, 2016

A Different Winter

Looking back, it seems that I missed posting in December - and if I don't hurry up I'll miss January as well.  Not that it would be a significant missing link in my riveting history, but I do like to take a look back every now and again to see what I've been up to.

But I should take a minute to talk about my progress in getting more fit, since I'm at nearly the one year anniversary of re-setting my goals last February.  In that year I've lost 25 pounds and established a much healthier diet by largely excluding foods containing processed sugar.  I've pushed my exercise program further than before, logging more miles than ever and adding a semi-regular weight program.  And, joy of joys, I managed to avoid gaining weight during the "Fat Holiday Season" between Halloween and Christmas (last year I gained over 10 pounds).  I'd still like to lose a bit more weight, but as long as I keep my calorie count honest and exercise several times a week I think I'll be able to continue with slow progress.

Our extended autumn weather continued well into December, with only the slightest hint of snow and unusually warm temperatures.  And I certainly took advantage of the conditions to get out as much as I could manage, with over 150 bicycling miles in November, and over 250 in December.  Thanks to this strong finish to the year I racked up over 1700 miles in 2015.  Now I've set my sights on trying to get in over 2000 miles in 2016 - and I've got a strong start with nearly 200 miles so far this January.

November gave us some excellent weather for mountain biking, and I managed to get in 12 rides on dirt, covering a bunch of the local trails.  The majority of my riding was at West Branch State Park, but I also got a ride in on the excellent new East Rim Trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, as well as Quail Hollow State Park, Beaver Creek State Park, and North Road Nature Preserve.

West Branch State Park mtb trails in November.
West Branch Reservoir at sunset from the trails.
Lots of night riding during the short days.
Amazing berms and jumps at the new East Rim Trail.
Trail work time at North Road Nature Preserve.
More West Branch trails.
West Branch after the snow.

I spent some time out on the trails at North Road Nature Preserve, doing some much needed maintenance as well as pushing to close our final gap.  There was also a good deal of clean up needed after the electric and gas line right of ways were re-trimmed.  Hopefully we'll be able to get in a bunch more work this off season so we can FINALLY get the last phase of trail finished this year.

New trail armoring at North Road Nature Preserve, trying to close the gap!
Right of way trimming debris.
Of course the majority of the miles I ride are on pavement, mostly on rail trails.  And I managed to get in a LOT of miles in the last couple of months, spread out across several trails.  All these extra miles are great for my legs, and for my cardio as well.  And of course burning that many calories can only help with my fitness goals.

Western Reserve Greenway Trail under heavy leaves.
Little Beaver Creek Greenway in the snow.
Portage Hike and Bike Trail last weekend.
Thanks to the milder temperatures and a massive amount of rain in late December I even managed to get in a nice whitewater kayak trip.  After it rained I loaded up all my gear, and my wife and I headed over to the Allegheny gorge area to check out what was running.   Turned out that EVERYTHING was running, and it was all too high for a mild mannered paddler like me.  But I came back two days later and managed to get in a nice run on Scrubgrass Creek.  This is a beautiful, safe, easily accessed run near Kennerdell, PA that has become one of my favorite easy whitewater runs in the area.

Scrubgrass Creek near the put-in.
One of the other things I've been doing is learning to use a new video production software.  So I've been taking a lot of new footage, as well as using old footage, to make some new videos.  Here's a link to the one for the Scrubgrass Creek trip:

Scrubgrass Creek trip

Let me say that I have no illusions about the "gnarliness" of the whitewater I paddle.  I know it's easy class II, the type of stuff that serious whitewater paddlers wouldn't even cross the road to paddle.  But for me it's become about having a good time without the stress and strain of pushing your limits.  So I'm just fine with Scrubgrass Creek as a destination.

As far as videos go, I've put together a couple of mtb compilation videos - just to practice what I'm learning on the software.  These mtb videos are on a par with the whitewater video above - no serious rider would ever consider this to be great riding, but I'm having fun without having to worry about breaking any more bones!  Anyway, here are the two videos I put together.

Hope you enjoy the videos, as well as the photos.

Right now I'm thinking about tonight's snow ride on the Little Beaver Creek Greenway - it's going to be fun!  Bring on the winter!


  1. Looks like you've been enjoying this global warming and taking advantage of the mild weather. Love it!

    1. Yeah, I got in almost 450 miles in December & January combined. It helps to even out the last 3 winters here, which all had looong periods of deep snow cover.

      How did you take to that Paleo diet?

      Steve Z

  2. Steve, It has been awhile since I checked back to your blog. Good write up. I sure enjoyed the videos, and the music you put with them. You do not have to apologize for your choice of rapids or trails. I am with you completely, it stops being fun when you start to consider the injury that might happen. It is the same for my skiing. I ski with some guys that want to try a few steep mogul runs. I can always ski them but why??? It is not fun for me anymore to beat myself up on those moguls. I like cruising the big wide open blues!! I sold my fat bike because it was getting me into trouble with crashing down snowy, rocky single track. I really do not want to break ribs and collarbones anymore. I just want to ride.

    1. Amen to that. I had three injuries in the first three years I was mountain biking. It took a constant effort to overcome my 'go for it' tendencies, but now I've adapted and it's been five years without significant injuries. At this point I'm only out for the fun, definitely not to impress anyone.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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