Monday, July 29, 2013

'Finished' the W&OD

Well I guess it depends on your definition of finished... I have been to the western terminus now. I met up with Rob near the Carmax parking lot in Ashburn and we did the almost exactly 40mile back and forth to get to the end in Purceville and back again.  He is actually training for the Bike-to-the-Beach century ride this coming Friday.  It was a great ride, faster than I usually go but the Bianchi performed excellent. First time I've ridden the drop bars since my unfortunate fall the week previous and no worse for the wear...  add to that helping family clean out my grandmother's house Saturday and helping a friend move Sunday and I'm worn out for the weekend!!

Monday looks great, can't do my regular commute as I'm offsite today... hopefully i'll get in an evening ride.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Big Week!

With one day to spare I've already topped my previous weekly mileage record with 143 miles.... Sunday got it off to a good start with a re-do on the 50 miler that I crashed the previous wednesday. This trip was far better due to the company of my friend Joe, the fact that I knew where I was going, and of course that I didn't go over the handlebars!

While Mon-Tues were normal commutes for me Wednesday I joined my friend and fellow Velocity volunteer Craig on a 22 mile return commute via the MD bank of the Anacostia, through Bolling AFB, UPP Oxon Hill and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge... suffice it to say that Craig is in much better shape than I am.  The ride was really cool though as it gave me some completely new views of the Potomac and another alternative to get home when I have some time to burn.

Thursday was cool to start and finish with early morning coffee at Misha's in Old Town with Wes and then dinner and drinks with my father-in-law at Shelly's Backroom (cigar lounge) after work.  

As if all this weren't enough I managed to snag my first #fridaymorningcoffeeclub at ME Swings in NW DC... the core of the group was founded by DC Randonneur's Ed and Mary  and I had an awesome conversation and ride after coffee with Ed talking bikes.
So what to do with my final day of the week?  Looks like I'm meeting Rob out on the W&OD early Sat as he makes final preparations for the big 'Bike to the Beach' Century ride next week.

The Four-Mile Run underpass at about 0700 this  morning, I love the lines made by the shafts of light.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

State of the Trek

The Trek and I have had an amazing journey this year, she is barely recognizable from the initial drop bar, skinny tired, 6 speed steed that I picked up on Craigslist last December.  I've been trying to wait till I'm 'done' to post some more complete pictures but have decided to go ahead as the projects are really un-ending and at the same time she's really riding very well as is...  I haven't really named her, though I usually use 'Trek' to differentiate from the others, at the same time based on my inspirations for making these modificiations I've been musing over 'RIVEN-HERSE' to honor the Rivendell/Grant Peterson and Rene Herse/Jan Heine connections.  At the same time I could also go with SURLY-ORANGE to honor the Surly Bikes and Velo-Orange companies as they have both supplied parts and direction on the path to putting this bike together.

I've also made some progress in the 'provenance' (to steal a term from Waterford), I'm now settled on the 'fact' that she is a 1982 Trek 715... The initial 612/614 designation was blown up by the brazed on derailleur cable guides on the top of the bottom bracket.  So to make it a 715 the only missing feature are the Reynolds 531 stickers on the fork... maybe they came off at some point, or maybe this is an odd duck 612/4 with the extra braze ons. I'm not sure but from now on I'm going with 1982 Trek 715.

Regardless of what you call her here she is circa July 2013;

Beusage! - The Cockpit is dominated by the two-toned, Hokie-inspired Orange and Maroon bar tape... two coats of shellac and a very liberal coating of hand sweat especially towards the bar ends has changed the look significantly the more I've ridden.   The PDW cup holder is reasonably new as well, pretty cool but you can't put a paper cup in there an expect to have the lid keep your coffee in on all but the gentle-ist rides.  Works great with a sealed metal cup though.  You'll notice the baseket crumpled to the left, I'll fix it eventually but for now I'm leaving it as a constant reminder to keep my head up, pay attention, and NOT CRASH THE BIKE AGAIN!

The other huge addition is of course the Supernova Dyno-powered headlight...  this thing is just as awesome as I was hoping.  The installation isn't finalized as I need the rear fender on to accomplish my taillight mounting plan but I'll certainly be adding images once I'm done with that portion.
Extra Leger - The Grand Bois Hetre 42mm tires... like the supernova these puppies do not dissappoint. I can't compare them to the non- Extra Leger version unfortunately but am satisfied enough that I'm trying to see if the 29mm EL tires will fit on my Bianchi.  The tires make a humongous difference in the ride quality.  The Velocity Synergy 650B rims also deserve a shout as they have been flawless and held their true very well.
I've bragged on the VO prototype brakes before, but can't avoid a mention again.  Extremely effective brakes (too effective last wednesday!).  They continue to be very easy to adjust, very easy quick release to remove a wheel and just all around awesome.
Of course after Wednesday's mud clearance experience I can't help but point out the extremely narrow tolerance by which these 42mm beauties fit in the rear triangle.  I'm wondering now if would be feasible to have a frame-builder give me some 'clearance dimples'... like I've seen on other chainstays to make this a bit more comfortable...

Also worth mentioning here is the rear fender, or lack thereof...the problem is the chainstay bridge which has no hole drilled in it. My mechanic buddy Mark says I shoudl drill it and I'm close to following that advice but I just haven't built up the momentum to do so yet.
The semi-horizontal (or is it semi-vertical) dropouts have had their adjustment screws removed to push the rear wheel back as far as possible, thats the only way these Hetre tires fit.  The Shimano Deore XT RD has been flawless, easy to keep in adjustment and really invisible to me as the rider.  The sweet in line cable adjuster that my mechanic friend Mark installed is a bit out of focus but very clever.

The Brooks B67 came to me after I got a very kind gift card to Spokes Etc from a friend... I'd been considering it for a while.  I'd say after around 300 miles or so I'm not completely sold but am trending happier with it.  I've been stubbornly avoiding wearing my padded shorts, even on the recent 50 mile ride to really break it in and get a 'feel' for how I like it.  On the 50 miler from about 25m on I was distincltly aware of the spring column's if I sat to far back on the seat.  Also it squeeks like no bodies business.

Not much to say, but the topeak frame pump has worked splendedly, the stains on the headbadge are from coffee coming out of a paper cup in the PDW holder.  Nice lugs!

One of two original to the time of purchase, and most likely the last original part on the bike.  (the front derailleur is a Shimano LX but I think Suntour was the initial group on this bike as delivered by Trek)
The bottom line (actually the top tube)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Half Century

Finally put together a continuous 50+ mile ride.  The designed route above looks like 48 but the mileage on the ground (with a number of false starts and 'explorations') got a bit past 52.  The ride also resulted in in my first crash since I've gotten back in riding, denoted by the red star on the map above but more on that later.  My wife and I had a blast the day previous exploring Wakefield Park ('D' on the map) with our moutain bikes, it is a mixture of fire road, gravel, dirt, single track and hard pack trails... it was really both of our first times doing 'mountain biking.  One of the benefits was discovering on the ground that the Fairfax County 'Cross County Trail' passes through the park and carries north on an good path of gravel or pavement along the Accotink Creek...  we had surmised that it must somewhere connect up to the W&OD trail which I  confirmed later on Google.

All this to say that once I had the idea and realized that an out and back would be very close to my 50 mile target I decided to get up and do it before the serious heat on Wednesday.  I hit the trail later than I had planned at 0545 and found the early going to be a steady effort as the 4 Mile Run and W&OD trails consistently rise from the shores of the Potomac out towards the Capitol Beltway.  I was fairly pleased to reach Vienna, my jumping off point for the exploration down to Wakefield at around 0700 as it had seemed to take longer than that in my head.  The adventure south to hit the trail head at Rt 50 and Nutley St was pretty easy with only about a half mile of false starts.  Once on the Accotink Trail (CCT) I was immediately satisfied by my route, the trail between markers 'C' and 'D' on the map above are gorgeous, you are riding through the woods on a mix of pavement and gravel with a couple rougher patches and one small stream crossing.  The real adventure began when I decided to forgo an extension to round Lake Accotink and then return via the Long Branch Stream Valley Park and just double back to re-enjoy the Wakefield and Accotink portions.  My me-ander included a tromp through a large field with knee high grass that put me on the wrong side of Accotink Creek (where it is 20'+ wide) and some bike hiking/pushing to get back on track.  Here is a shot of the bike during this portion;

Highlighting the fact that while the 650Bx42mm tires fit, I have no margin for any mud clearance.
So why didn't I just retrace my steps via Nutley St back to Vienna?  Well I was convinced by some excellent map stations along the trail that it continued up to W&OD if you stayed on the trail, this was misleading.  The trail did continue as a proper trail but quickly devolves into a patchwork of one small municipal park trail to another with many road crossings and limited to no trail signage outside of the parks (so it was hard to connect the dots).  The focus on navigating coupled with growing fatigue resulted in me going over the handlebars somewhere in the 30-35 mile range.  I was on a trail, and descending and about to cross a tree root-raised bump in the asphalt when I for some reason got nervous and hammered on the brakes which predictably sent me up and over... the results were road rash on my palms, left knee and left elbow, fairly light though my palms still hurt.  The bike fared pretty well, I'll document that soon but the front basket was bent, the left side bar tape got roughed up and on the downtube the front derailleur cable actually abraided the paint which is the most concerning.  Beusage?!?

Lessons learned;  take breaks when you get tired, consider wearing the gloves you brought instead of leaving them in the basket, get a mount for my smartphone/nav solution or better route sheets.

With the fall behind me I continued on gingerly after collecting my thoughts (and all the stuff that fell off the bike!).  I made it back to Vienna and was very happy to see the steady and wonderfully marked W&OD.  The other lesson learned from this trip was to better plan out my eating as I had hoped to get an opportunity in Vienna but the trail passes through a section devoid of any vendors.  I ended up stoping at a Deli just off the trail in Falls Church that was spectaculor, I got eggs, sausage and cheese washed down by an 8 oz glass bottled Coke... rejuvinating!

The last 8-10 miles were a mental struggle, I noted that my legs felt fine but overall my core, back and brain were just tired and worn out.  But I finished!  Another lesson for me was that at least at this point I should plan to break up the ride more with time off the bike in the 20-30mile range and make sure I remain fresh, 50miles essentially continuous was rough.  The bike did amazingly well, I was on road, paved trail, gravel trail, gravel road, large gravel, hardpack dirt, grassy field... the 42mm Grand Bois Hetres 'Extra Legre' were fantastic.  With the exception of the mud clearance I had no complaints.  The gravel sections were the first prolonged gravel I've done, I'm not sure I love it to be honest, but accessing the gorgeous wooded and stream lined sections of trail was well worth it.  I think a bike with 33mm and up tires could handle that route pretty well depending on the riders tolerance for being bounced around.

I didn't follow up my big ride with mileage today as I had hoped to do but I'll try to get out and do around 20 tomorrow.  More later.