Thursday, June 25, 2015

All is Quiet in This Back Alley of the Internet

I let my domain pavementsedge.bike slip.  Its unfortunate because I've considered lately bringing From the Pavement's Edge back to life.

That is all.

For now please keep reading my rambling bloggitude over at The Chainring Report.

Monday, April 14, 2014

To Celebrate 100,000 Pageviews...

…I’m changing everything.

(Hopefully) one last time I will be splitting my bloggular attentions.  From the Pavement’s Edge isn’t going away, it is just moving from Blogger to Wordpress with a new look and a more focused content. 

For my continued daily ramblings you’ll want to follow my new blogger site: The Chainring Report. TCR will have a looser format and will focus more on trip reports, monotribes, pinings, dreaming, and basically just less cyclo-centric value-added content.

The NEW AND IMPROVED From the Pavement’s Edge site will focus more on local, state, and national cycling issues as well as an increase in attention on pedestrian issues and on the dysfunction of our car-centric culture.

GO >>>HERE<<< FOR THE (new) PAVEMENT’S EDGE BLOG

I hope you see this as a continuation and not a complete 180.  My intent is less about changing content and more about focusing my energies into the proper categories.  I really just want to separate out my personal views from material that I could share more professionally or more seriously to a broader audience.  I think I’m better defining my potential audiences.

I’m not making an ideological shift.  I’m not changing my online persona. I simply want to provide a clearer message.  I feel I need to make this change now as it seems I’m on the cusp of breaking through into a wider audience anyway.  This might be the nudge I need.

Let it be known: this hyere post is the last to be published at the URL:

http://pavementsedge.blogspot.com

Please update your bookmarks, dartboards, and billboards with the new URL:

http://www.pavementsedge.bike

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Redbud Ride: Tussey Time

In honor of the Redbud Ride tomorrow (and apologies to Don Williams):


Tussey Time (sung to the tune of Tulsa Time)


I left Laurel County ridin' on a bicycle
Just about to lose my mind
I was goin' on to East Bernstadt, maybe on to Livingston
Where the people like them bikes just fine
My baby said I was crazy, don’t gun for Tussey lazy
I was goin' to show 'em all this time
'Cause you know I ain't no fool an' I don't need no more schoolin'
I was born to just climb that climb

Livin' on Tussey time
Livin' on Tussey time
Well you know I've been through it
When I set my mind onto it
Livin' on Tussey time

Well there I was in ridin’ in the woods wishin' I was doin' good
Talkin' on the cellphone line
But I can’t get a K-O-M and the pacelines are too long
Guess I’m just wastin’ time
Well then I got to thinkin', man I'm really sinkin'
And I really felt a bonk this time
I had no business draftin' and my body would be collapsin'
If I went on back to Tussey time

Livin' on Tussey time
Livin' on Tussey time
Gonna set my watch back to it
I-I've set my mind onto it
Livin' on Tussey time



Truth be told I have nothing to fear from Tussey Hill.  Lately I've been tackling my local hills, and in the last two weeks I've even climbed two of the hardest on my longtail cargo bike.  I think Tussey will be fine.  And while I'm not worried, I am looking forward to Tussey.  I consider myself a connoisseur of fine Cumberland Plateau cycling climbs.

After cresting Pottershop Hill during the OKHT last fall a volunteer eagerly asked what I thought about the climb.  I said it was no big deal.  They thought I was joking when I said my home hills were bigger.  I had a similar exchange with an organizer for another Bluegrass region century ride.

No really...Furnace, State Rock, Sky Bridge, High Rock, Cobhill, Patsey...all way tougher.  And those are just the paved roads.  Remember, the most insane hill I've ever ridden (pushing my bike up Columbine and Powerline don't count) is a gravel waterfall about two miles from my house.  It's hard to get up and down in a car.  And I lived in Colorado for five years where the climbs are miles and miles long with steady average grades even if they don't have extremely steep sections.

It takes a big hill to impress me.  But I can enjoy any good hill, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Tussey's all about.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Am Jack's...

Late afternoons I walk a post-apocalyptic wasteland of low blood sugar and empty-bellied angst.  I become a ravening appetite of road rage, screaming dad-ittude, short fused and ripping, slavering, masticating anything I can get my hands on.

This has been going on for two days.  I've changed my daily SOP to exclude afternoon snacking or any kind of junk/fast food shenanigans.  I'm serious about dropping weight for the Loudonville 100.  I'm serious about losing the equivalent of a small child (or medium-sized dog) from my frame. 

The other night Li'l Bean had an appointment with the gymnastics people, and I was going to haul her over the hill to town on the X.  In my thin-blooded haze I couldn't motivate her to find her helmet or locate it myself.  Then we ran out of time to make the ride.  Then when I announced we'd just drive (against my own wishes) she melted like a chocolate chip on the sun-broiled linoleum of the kitchen floor.

I wanted to give up.  I wanted to begin chewing my own leg off.  I wanted to take down a wildebeest and eat it raw...with BBQ sauce.  I just wanted the afternoon to pass without so much friction.

The whole ragged affair was the result of poor nutritional planning on my part, and the return to lunchtime cycling activity.  For breakfast I had two packets of oatmeal and black coffee.  For lunch I had a pb&j on whole wheat and a can of Ale-8.  Then...then I took off on a 13+ mile ride over to UK's campus, then into the heart of downtown Lexington, and finally I returned to the neighborhood where I work via the long straight bike lanes on Richmond Road.

I ate nothing else the rest of the afternoon.  Hangriness kicked in just as I got back into town.  I stopped at Kroger, a veritable hornets' nest of vehicular activity, and then the gas station.  By the time I was speeding up my home road I was ready to kill and eat.

Thankfully there was no junk food at home.  I would have eaten it all.

The moral of this story, Dear Readers, is that you should feed your Chainring if you want to have access to quality blog posts.  I know you read this to escape the humdrum existences you call…existences.  So send me cookies.  Send me cake.  Send me pita chips and baby carrots.  Send me oatmeal packets and baked goods.  I will eat pizza, I’ll eat jam, I’ll eat whatever you get near my maw.

I…am Jack’s hangry rage.
 
NOM! NOM! NOM!
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I'm Doing the #KY4X100

I had vowed around the middle of 2013 that the only organized bike event I would do in 2014 was the Redbud Ride.  And at the end of 2013 I was still resolved not to get wrapped up in organized events.

Then Mandy decided (when she saw the 2014 jersey) she wanted to do the Kentucky Century Challenge.  I was only going to do the Redbud with her, but then the Preservation Pedal is going to be one county over from us, and the Hub City tour is all new to the Challenge.  Might as well just kick in for the whole thing...

Jeffro talked me into doing the Mohican again this year.  And that darned Joe Bowen has organized a trail half marathon in the Red River Gorge.  Sigh...

At least the 4 Good Trail Run and the Sheltowee Challenge are donate-what-you-can-afford events.

What's different about this year is my lovely wife is going to be doing it.  So if nothing else I get to ride 300 (or 400) miles with my best friend this year.  We're kind of on the fence over the Horsey Hundred.  I'd be fine if I never rode it again, but I think she would enjoy it.

I'm looking forward to doing another century together.  Three more, actually...at least.  And it'll be cool to have the matching jersies.  Plus, it's no fun to go do these things by myself, or to go do them with other people while she stays at home.  I never enjoy them as much as I do when she's with me.

Speaking of KOMs (yesterday's post), I raced home and tried to do some segment maintenance.  Considering that I hold the KOM on Cobhill and my cargo bike ascent was still faster than the other three Stravathletes who have tracked it I decided I need to get on the ball with my local segments.  I did my Clark Kent-in-a-phone-booth thing and raced away toward Furnace Mountain at a gutbusting pace.

I can't get anywhere in the world from my house without dealing with a hill.  There are four ways out and three of them require at least a moderate climb out.  The fourth way is out the mouth of the creek I live on to the main (read: busiest) road in the county.  To return home I have to climb unless I'm coming off Furnace Mountain and drop down Hart's Orchard.

So I climbed over Granny (Gears) Moppet which dumped me at the base of Furnace.  I didn't slack off and charged skyward.  At the top of the first crux I was beginning to breathe heavy.  I kept attacking the pedals through the reprieve around the second turn.  I stood on the pedals up the second--and longer--crux for a few yards and then dropped back to the saddle and slowed.  But I went into the upper rest on my feet again, with chest heaving from the effort.  I slowed.  I slowed.  But then I kicked up a couple of gears through the last reprieve.  Then I clawed to the top as my momentum failed. Eighteen minutes flat from the mouth of the Bike Cave to the "summit" of Furnace Mountain.

I hoped it was enough to secure the KOM.  I fought to control my breathing and get my foggy brain back under control for the terminal velocity descent.  In review, I would manage only my second fastest ascent (by 20 seconds).

I took in the postcard view, turned my wheel back toward home, and used my girth for something constructive.  Every time I start down the "downhill b4 town" segment I vow I won't touch the brakes.  And every time I grab the levers of wussitude and slow myself on three of the sub-standard curves with awkward horizontal alignments.

I try to make up for my PW by cranking hard between curves.  It's hard when you're doing 40+ and edging a blind curve you know some meth-head will be short-cutting on the way up.  I try to stay out of the paint in the middle.

I fired through the last curve before the bottom and opened the throttle.

Looking back, I probably should have eaten something--anything--a half hour or so before I set out to claim my localest KOM.  I didn't.  It really was an impromptu jaunt.  I went light and with a nearly empty tank hoping I could leverage the minimalist approach into faster speeds.  What I really need to do is leverage about 30 pounds off of myself and become a physical minimalist.

I slammed harder on the pedals looking out far beyond the curve at the bottom, scanning for oncoming traffic.  If only I could take it a little wider, I might be able to wring a few more mph out of my effort.  In the end I grabbed the levers of Strava mediocrity and slowed.

I eased back on the reins when the road flattened out and sat up, catching my breath, and preparing for the last obstacle before home: the short stout face of Granny Moppet. 

In retrospect I realized one reason I might be falling short of a KOM on the descent: I always ease off at the bottom, but the segment goes on for another couple tenths of a mile.

I laughed as I vocalized this to my SAG bunny at the kitchen table.  It's likely I'm pretty fast on the hill, but I'm not carrying the effort through the segment.

While I didn't clean up my local segments I did tick one thing off my cycling bucket list.  I hit 50 mph on the Furnace descent.  That's something I've been trying to do for a year.  I've only managed it a couple of other times on the Mount Vernon Canyon descent along US 40 west of Golden.  It's so much harder on the short steep hills in Kentucky where off-standard curves guard everything.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Like Strava Users in the Night

On Saturday I returned home after my glorious cargo bike ascent of Cobhill.  I dutifully uploaded my Strava track in a timely fashion.  Others, however, did not.

Yesterday morning I found a strange thing: a multi-rider leaderboard for Cobhill.  What?!?!

There were two riders that did it on Saturday…the same day I did.  Jefe also rode sort of the same loop that day.  He continued past Watson Ridge and traversed the Patsey gorge and then dropped into South Fork, swung out and came up the Cat Creek side of High Rock to return home.  I cut back to Furnace over Watson Ridge and surfed the rollers back to town on 213 before running an errand in town.  Dual purpose cargo bike: ascend sick steep Cumberland Plateau climbs and carry shopping fare home.



As I was text/telling Jefero about the weird “encounter” a third Stravathlete appeared in the leaderboard.  THREE!  That meant a total of five cyclists rode Furnace, the Tipton Ridge Descent, Cobhill, and Wet Puppy Ridge!  FIVE!  That’s a tie for the previous most cyclo-congested day on Cobhill when Mandy, Casey, Jeff, Mark and I all rode Cobhill back in the summer.  INSANE!!!

But HERE is the mind-boggling proof!!!

Jeff said my cousin Parnell told him he saw the peloton of three cyclists descending Cat Creek.  Parnell is a sometimes cyclist himself, most notable for having ridden with Joe Bowen some on his second 14,000 mile cross-country bike ride and being mentioned in Joe’s book Real Winners Don’t Quit.

Jeff and I both agree it is crazy that we didn’t somehow see those guys ourselves.  We only rode together for the first couple of miles from Stanton, and then Jeff went on while I sailed the Xtracycle out and about over ridges and deep into chasms in the earth.  I lingered at the top and bottom of Cobhill for a total of 15-20 minutes. 

I looked a little deeper into the matter.  The other three cyclists are from Michigan and Illinois.  They did about half of the same loop I did, and three-quarters or better of the loop Jeff did and opposite Jeff’s direction for a few miles as well!

He was freaked out because he had never ridden that exact loop before and they chose the same day to do basically the same loop.

I was freaked out because they must have been on cargo bikes too, because I still retain KOM on Cobhill and some of the ridgetop segments between Furnace and Cobhill.  At my cargo-bike pace! 

Green was my first clean ascent
Red was on the Xtracycle


It was a busy cycling weekend on my section of the Cumberland Plateau.  The CTL bikepacked out to Hatton Ridge on Saturday to meet with some friends for a little bouldering.  Then he traversed the epic Powder Mill Trail and continued to Tunnel Ridge Road to camp Saturday night.  He said “hello, city limits” Sunday and had clocked about 50 miles on the bike and 15 hiking.

Jeff and I rode along-with-but-separate-from the three out-of-town visitors for a total of 220 or so combined miles on Saturday.  Mandy and Casey rode Sunday for a combined century.  And while they were riding I went hiking/photographing and saw a touring cyclist on the back roads of Powell County while the ladies saw another touring cyclist in the Gorge proper. 

A Powell County motorist showing you how it's done

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but all that cycling activity was centered in a county of about 12,000 souls.  And that’s just the cycling activity we know about!

It’s going to be a busy week for me, and the Redbud is coming up fast.  If I don’t post daily please accept my apologies and be aware that I’m going to turn the Pavement’s Edge world upside down beginning the Monday after the Redbud.

ADDENDUM

After sending one of the visiting cyclists a message via Strava he responded and said they started from Stanton around 1:00 pm which is when I was cruising back into town.  I still don't know how I didn't see them.

Monday, April 7, 2014

First Cargo Bike Ascent of Cobhill

A quick bit of news: over the weekend this blog reached 100,000 pageviews.  Combined with the old version of this blog (jerseyguys.blogspot.com) and my old Ascentionist blog I have nearly 150,000 pageviews.  The taint on my celebratory mood is that I know a good bit of these numbers represent trolling bots. 



 
Doubt crept in.  It's true, I'd ridden the Cannonball X(tracycle) up a hill simulator called Furnace Mountainto train for the Redbud Ride's signature climb Tussey Hill.  Maybe it wasn't enough.  Maybe I needed another climb under my bottom bracket.  Maybe I needed to go and drag myself and my longtail cargo bike up Cobhill.

In preparation I brewed coffee and sealed it up in my insulated Klean Kanteen.  I tucked as many calories as I estimated I'd need to carry me to and fro into the cargo sacks.  To all that I added crampons, an alpenstock, and a natural fiber rope.  Then I overdressed.

Once I was sufficiently laden with expedition gear I headed off for Cobhill, 16 or so rolling miles distant.  I had to stop at the top of Furnace to shed layers.  As an avid armchair mountaineer I'm used to the notion that the temperature should drop as you ascend higher, but in this particular case just the opposite seemed to be true.

I dropped my sodden jacket into the trunk and pushed on.  It felt like it was going to be a long slog into Estill County and back.

The ride could have waited until a more convenient time after the Redbud, but I really needed a good shakedown run for the bike a week before the big ride.  I wasn’t sure if I’d get another chance for an extended ride and I had to jump through the narrow window of opportunity.
 
 

One thing I needed to do with the bike was move the shifters forward of the crossbar on the Titec (Jones) H.  That meant fiddling with angles, rewrapping the bars, and trying to come up with the best balance of comfort and usability.  I needed to move them because the original position of the shifters on the H-bar didn’t allow for a comfortable resting grip on the bars.  That was fine for shorter rides, but for a century I wanted maximum comfort.

Once repositioned, with the bike cleaned and mostly tuned, I wanted a good solid ride to shake out any other lurking bugs.  I’ve only recently started riding the bike with any frequency since we moved back to Kentucky.  Last year the bike suffered with chronic rust and a mysterious shifting problem.  Late in 2013 I finally got it all lined out, but a few weeks ago I was shocked when I discovered more rust on the bike after a long dark winter sweating in the Bike Cave.

The obvious solution to my cyclo-ailments is to just ride the danged bike.  And that’s what I’ve been trying to do the last couple of weeks.  A couple of weeks ago I took Boone to town for both of us to get haircuts.  I’ve been to town for an errand or two.  And then I cranked up Furnace Mountain last week to satisfy my curiosity.  Cobhill was next in the natural progression.
 
It's definitely spring on Furnace Mountain
 
I wasn’t moving fast.  Just before I reached KY 52 for the descent into Fitchburg I checked my average speed: 10.5 mph.  I said I had everything lined out, but the shifting is still slow compared to the sporty-sport bike and The One.  But those bikes have much better quality shifters.  I assume it’s all relative.  The important thing is that they work, and the new position on the bar works more effectively than I had hoped.

To give away the ending let’s just say I am 100% confident in the bike that it will carry me through the 2014 Kentucky Century Challenge.  But…Cobhill…

The Tipton Ridge Road descent from the top of the ridge down to Furnace Fork where Cobhill looms is always a fun bomb run.  Last year when there was still a chance for ice in the shade it was a little sketchy, but this past Saturday I had no worries; I let gravity have the full mass of me and the CBX, and we screamed toward the center of the earth.  It feels like such a huge loss in elevation, and the truth is the bridge over Furnace Fork at the bottom of Cobhill is 636’ (Kentucky River watershed) and my own house is 664’ (Red River).
 
 

Bottom of Cobhill: full stop.  I got off the bike.  I took a quick photo.  I tried to text Mandy but then remembered there is no cell service in the center of the earth.  I drank a bit of water (having chawed down some energy chews at the top of Tipton Ridge), and I took off my helmet and sunglasses and stowed them.

Listen, I average between 3 and 3.5 mph crawling up Cobhill.  It has an ADT of 182 cars per day.  It’s a paved road.  So yeah, I took off my helmet to ride up it.  Get over it.  My head overheats if I wear it.  Or if I don’t for that matter.  I only do this on Cobhill.

182 cars per day and I saw four of them during the fourteen minutes and forty-three seconds I was crawling up the face of it. 

It was a grueling ascent.  At times I thought the summit was hoped for in vain.  The first bad omen was the road sign with multiple bullet wounds.  But then as I got closer I could see the injuries were caused by a small caliber weapon.  Amateurs.  I pushed on.

The crux eventually loomed and I was feeling pretty good as I slithered along in my granny gear.  The first crux fell easy and I felt no molten agony in my lower back.  Between the first and second cruxes the mental crux attacks.  You barely get a reprieve after the steep curve and you can’t ignore the obviously steeper pavement ahead while it feels like you’re going to fall over backwards on steeper terrain below.

Slow and steady wins the summit.

Through the first, the second, the third, and the long, long fourth crux finish that looks like it might go on forever…and I pedaled a few yards further for good measure, did a u-turn and paused on the brink looking back.  I parked my faithful steed and extricated my celebratory coffee.  It was worth hauling it up that murderous face to suck down some good coffee out in the wilds of Estill County.
 
 

It was a good, leisurely ride home afterward.  I enjoyed just being out on the bike, taking in the pre-spring forests and greening fields.  I had much to do at home (that never got done) and so I pedaled my happy self back to civilization and rest. 

Redbud…here we come.

 

PS, after returning to town I headed over to KY Auto Parts and picked up the goods to perform an oil change on my four-wheeled conveyance.  Hauled on a cargo bike #45.
 
 
PPS!!!

I noticed this morning that Chris Warren and Wesley Thelen, both of Michigan, did almost the same loop I did ON THE SAME DAY!  That's insane!  And Jeffro Mozhican did it that day too!  Ironically that's the second biggest cycling day we know of on Cobhill.  The first saw both the Chainring and Mozhican couples and the CTL for a total of 5 bicycle ADT.  Nuts!