Mar 31, 2012

Bike portraits

The other day I decided I'd wash all of my bikes. Living in the city without access to a hose has deprived me the luxury of scrubbing and hosing off bikes in the front yard. I washed all five and them and lined them up for portraits. I've been wanting to do that for years. I even added a new page to my blog which details the bikes and their set ups. You can see them all by clicking the my bikes link at the top of this blog.

Mar 28, 2012

Nuts - 20 miles

I happen to reach down and wiggle my rear wheel side to side this morning and noticed a few millimeters of lateral play. Damn; loose cones I thought. Actually, there are no “cones” in my Mavic Cosmos wheel set. Instead, theses pieces are called “fork support nuts”. Even when discussing the rear hubs. This makes sense though; since these nuts only hold sealed cartridge bearings in place and do not affect rolling resistance. They serve as more of a drop-out mating surface or... FORK SUPPORT. Traditionally, cones were used to hold ball bearings in place within a hub by sandwiching them between the inside hub flanges and the cones themselves. Each cone would be tightened inboard on either side of the axle until a firm, yet friction-free relationship is attained. Once this is established, thin serrated jamb-nuts are used to lock them in place. At any rate, I removed the cassette from the hub and noticed that my fork support nut on the drive side had loosened and migrated about 8 mm outboard. Yikes! I cleaned the hub, dropped some lube in to the visible cartridge bearing and then snugged it up using 13mm & 17mm cone wrenches. No more wiggle; only smooth operation. I snapped a few photos during the process, just for shits & giggles. More for giggles I suppose.

At 1:00 I headed out for a road ride. Threatening clouds made me run back inside and grab my arm warmers and rear fender. Rear fenders; great equipment for rainy rides. They help to mitigate the dreaded wet ass. Riding in the rain is one thing, but riding with a constant stream of chilly road muck spraying up your butt and back is another thing entirely. I was glad I used the fender today because two miles from home, the black sky cracked loose and dropped big fat rain down on me. Luckily I had nearly completed my 20 mile loop and only spent 10 or 15 minutes getting drenched. Tip o' the day: Ziploc bags are great protection for your phone on rainy rides.

Redneck road ride - 20 miles

Yesterday afternoon, I spun the cranks on the road bike and collected some paved mileage. I have a fantastic little route which begins at my doorstep, follows Dover road down to Butler road and then doubles back for a nice 20 mile loop. It was 4:00 by the time I had finished mowing the lawn and after some quick maintenance the road bike and I were headed for the hills. For the past several rides I've noticed some chain rub on the cage of my front derailleur. I kept forgetting to adjust it until I'd remember in the middle of a ride. So, before I left, I clamped the road bike in the stand and fine tuned the front derailleur. Somehow, the derailleur had shifted just a bit around my seat tube. I repositioned the clamp, snugged it up, checked my cable tension and high & low limits, then ran it through the gears. Voila! Problem solved.

Temps were in the low 50's and the wind was kickin' so I kitted up in bib-shorts, short sleeve jersey, and wind vest. Less than a mile into the ride I stopped and pulled on a pair of arm warmers. Arm warmers have to be my all-time favorite pieces of riding gear; closely followed by shoe covers with bib-shorts bringing up the rear. The warmers were just the ticket and kept me comfy for the entire ride.

I stopped a few times to take some pictures. My first stop, on Dover road, was to look snap a picture of a farm I admire. It's nestled down in a hollow with a little pond and a bunch of cows peppered around it's fields. The cows were incredibly interested in me and they mozied their way over to the fence slowly but surely. It was a little strange. I didn't know cows would walk right up to you like a horse would. I snapped a few pictures and was on my way, but here's the weird part... as I pedaled off, the cows began galloping along side me on their side of the fence... what's up with that? I'm just a likeable person I suppose. I shook my head and zipped off down the road. Fare well my bovine lady friends!

My next stop was further down Dover Road where a gate blocked the entrance to some Baltimore Gas & Electric property. The sign on the gate warning people not to trespass had, of course, been shot by the local rednecks. Classic! A nice shot pattern covered the center of the sign which was obviously shot from the window of a truck on the road, 20 feet away. “Good one Vern!” Rednecks truly must hate signs. Or do they love them? I don't know.

Mar 27, 2012

Picture of the day

Photo taken in Kobe, Japan using the timer on my Lumix GF2. February 12, 2012 at 4:08 PM JST.

Mar 23, 2012

Spinning webs

Driving through dense fog this morning around 7:45, I was forced to pull over at the old church & cemetery on the corner of Butler & Dover roads. Heavy fog floating around the head stones and blossoming apple trees, in the adjacent field looked just too good to pass up with my camera sitting on the seat next to me. So I pulled over and took a wet walk around. Originally, my intentions were to photograph some eery tombstones, but those plans were quickly dashed when I caught site of numerous spider webs glistening with morning dew. The rising sun reflecting through the dew droplets made them pop against the landscape and so I took my time crouching down and snapping photos. In each of the little webbed dwellings was a small spider, one of which is visible in a photo below. It felt great to capture the scene and I drove off with wet sneakers and a grin on my face. I'll get a quick road ride in this morning before headed down to DC for the cherry blossom festival.

Mar 22, 2012

Mountain ride at Hashawha - 16 miles

From a purely physical standpoint, I am feeling fantastic these days. I believe I've finally gained some semblance of one who is in-shape. My body is nowhere near race-shape, but it's at least in-shape. I'm slowly building a base mileage on which I can soon start tossing some sprint & interval training. My slow-twich muscles are growing stronger and stronger and soon I'll get those fast-twichers up to speed! I realized all of this today while riding at Hashawha. A hill that usually has my dogs barkin' (quads burning!) felt like nothing at all today. I zipped up it and really enjoyed chug-a-lugging up its grade. I'm setting my sights on a couple of mountain bike races this summer and thoughts of rejoining my old racing team enter my mind more and more frequently the more I run and ride. Hell, yesterday I ran 4 miles and felt fine afterwords. My friend Damien is racing this April 1st at the 4th annual Dragon's Tail Race and I'm incredibly jealous. That's a pretty brutal race... 40 miles of hurt/joy, depending on how you look at it. I see a 50/50 blend. I wish him luck!

Today I took the Cannondale over to Hashawha and cranked out 16 miles. I love riding a nice mix of singletrack, open fields & gravel roads. I just kept motoring, on and on, but, like they say, sometimes you have to stop to smell the roses. I stopped. I smelled. But there were no roses. Only the stench of watery cow manure which farmers enjoy slinging about their fields. I'm told there is some value added in this fertilization tactic, though the only value I see is the guarantee of no visitors knocking on your door. “Harold, get back in the car, you're letting the stank in! Let's try again another day!”

1000 frames per second

Incredible. Slow motion. Check out the suspension compression and rider repositioning. Amazing. Thumbs-up on the selective color desaturation too! [via]

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup - 1st XC race of 2012

Found this coverage over at (awesome site BTW) from the first men’s elite cross-country race of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2012 in Pietermaritzburg. Won again by Swiss racer Nino Schurter just like last year! Look at all those 29ers!

Mar 21, 2012


I've been listening to a lot of The Pixies lately, and the other day, while riding at Schaeffer Farms, I had this song stuck in my head. I think The Pixies are one of my all time favorite bands. I love the lyrics to this song, Caribou. Though they're meaning is quite ambiguous, I feel like they apply to my move from the city to the country; and my life in general. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I'll have another cup.

Caribou Lyrics:
I live cement, I hate this street, Give dirt to me, I bite lament. This human form, Where I was born, I now repent. (Caribou [3x]) Repent, Re-pe-ent.

Give me white, Ground to run, And foregone, Lets me knife, Knife me lets. I will get, What I like. (Caribou [3x]) Repent, Rep-pent.

Mar 18, 2012

Schaeffer Farms - 21 miles

Today I drove out to Germantown, MD and met my friend Damien for a mountain ride at Schaeffer Farms. Schaeffer is awesome in general, but today's ride pushed past the confines of awesomeness and dare I say, bordered on the realm of epic. Though not fully worthy of the wearing the Epic robe, today's ride had nearly all the makings necessary for the aforementioned garment. The only ingredients lacking would be: distance and technical adversity. However, we did crank out 21.07 miles of nothing but singletrack.

And now... in bullet format... I give you the reasons for the nearly epic ride:
  • Mechanically speaking: My bike rode like that of Tinker Juarez's at the 2000 Summer Olympics. (I'm assuming analogously here, that his bike rode in tip-top shape; given the fact that he is a pro-rider and as such pro-mechanics finely tune his bike to provide intimate responses to his affectionate inputs).
  • Physically speaking: My body felt pretty fantastic. Even though the last bit of physical activity I partook in, was a 3 mile run around my home town this past Thursday morning. Unless of course you count the king-size mattress I folded in half and shoved into the back of the truck before taking it to the dump yesterday. I almost lost that battle. And if you think that's funny, I suggest you take your king size mattress out in the yard and try folding it in half... Anyway, I felt great today. Rock on.
  • Weather-ologically speaking: Temps hovered in the mid 50's with over cast skies and the dew point at 51°F. Yes, it was quite comfy indeed kids. I rode in shorts, short sleeves and arm warmers which were just barely necessary (Tougher men could have gone without).
  • Tera-firmically speaking: The trails were hard-packed, zippy, clear of debris and most notably: NEW. That's right: NEW. We stumbled upon a linking trail that connected Schaeffer Farms with the Seneca River Trail by crossing Germantown Road. This new trail is sweeter than sweet. It's manicured to perfection with a broom-swept appearance and has fantastic flow making you feel like a fun-loving luge racer but without any of the awkward & humiliating luge crashes.... awk-waaaaard! Though, crashes were kind of out of the question because the only possible flaw I could find with the trails was that they were too easy to ride. Great flow, but no real challenge. No baby-heads, big ledges, or rooty/rutty sections. Let the record show that I'm not complaining... just sayin'.
Tomorrow night is the Race Pace group ride over at Hasahwa. Till next time....

Above left: My beloved 1X9. Above right: Damien zipping by.
Above left: Beautious day to be riding. Above right: Survivors of a recent forest fire.
Above left: Me. Above right: Damien rides through the singed piney section.
Above left: Damien showing some leg. Above right: Damien in motion.