• Category Archives the sporting life
  • Biking, running, weights, yoga…

  • A Stinker of a Day!

    We had a few chilly days this week, including a rainy day or two, but the past two days have been in the upper nineties. Sunny and hot, classic summer weather — like the weather at the Battle of Monmouth, whose anniversary just passed. Anne and I went to Mauch Chunk Lake yesterday and rented kayaks, and spent the day along the shady lake shore, but today will be a bike day: she went to the Hellertown Farmer’s Market by bike (to hang with her spinning group), and I’ll be joining her there later for the ride home. Ugggh — maybe we can take a dip in Saucon Creek on the way home.

    I helped Scott S with his Road Scholar rides this week, but only biked two days: I helped with a towpath ride on Monday, and with a road ride on Wednesday from Cherry Valley Vineyards to Delaware Water Gap — in the rain. (It felt awesome; I wish I was there in the rain right now.) Interesting crew of people, ranging in age from about 50 up into the 80’s, and ranging in skill from neophyte to fairly experienced.


  • Bike Week!

    After a period of not riding as much as I’d like, I think I hit a stride… I got out this week and did about 46 miles on the towpath on Tuesday, then (after exorcising my bike squeaks), I did a Jacobsburg ride starting from home. About 12 miles there, 10 miles riding and 13 miles home. While I was there I ran into Greg H and we rode together until I had to head back; not to be all judgey but his bike was pretty squeaky…

    Yesterday, Anne and I drove to Norristown and took the Schuylkill River Trail into Philly. My GPS became a bit wonky — it turned itself off, at the same place out and back, and I lost a mile or two each way — but I think I got about 37 miles or so. We rode into town and met Ben, a friend of his, and his college advisor for lunch at Dock Street Tavern. It was just on the verge of raining the whole day, a sprinkle here and there but very pleasant — we ate outside despite the sprinkles, and were kept cool the whole way home.

    Today is Anne’s orchestra’s annual picnic; we are probably going to ride there with some friends. Another 30 miles I’d guess, bringing the week’s total to about 150. That would be nice, but I am pretty tired right now and trying to gird my loins for the ride.

    Next week: I offered to help Scott S with his bike touring gig, so next week, for most of the week, I’ll be doing something or other — riding sweep?) — on the towpath. Summer is here.


  • Cancel The Exorcist

    I had a pedal-induced creak building in the 5010 over the past week or so. The last time I had anything like this it was one of the pivot bushings, so a few days ago I tightened them — no fix, and the creak was worse than ever yesterday. I did the pivots again today, and the creak remained.

    Next step was to look at the crank and bottom bracket. I’d never taken my crank off this bike, didn’t recognize the system (for the record: it’s a Race Face Aeffect crank with Cinch chainring tech), and tried for about an hour to remove it. This included at least 20 minutes looking through instructional videos, but this information seems to be some kind of secret…

    I finally found one that showed how, and here’s the secret: there is a dust cap on the drive side, removable by an 8mm Allen wrench, but you don’t remove it. Instead, use a 7mm Allen wrench inside the dust cap to unscrew an internal connection to the ISIS drive; this pushes against the dust cap and acts as a self-extractor. It came off smooth as silk — live and learn. (Note: take the dust cap off to re-install the crank, the internal screw is kind of finicky to get going.)

    I cleaned and lubed the crank parts, then looked at the bottom bracket and found my problem: the drive side had come loose, and that, coupled with the grit that subsequently got into the threads, was the likely cause of my creak. I pulled the BB, cleaned and greased the threads, put it all back together, and took it for a test ride. Perfect! No squeaks and no creaks, and that’s good because I don’t know what I would have needed to do next.


  • Back In The Saddle

    I’m still not sure why, but Monday was a totally wasted day. Maybe it was residual exhaustion, maybe it was the heat or pollen, but I was tired and headachey, unable to concentrate, and just plain out of sorts all day, and I basically did nothing. I got up yesterday and I felt much better (it was also a bit cooler), but I seemed to be on track for another “do nothing” day anyway. Until…

    I was out in the backyard putting away some party things when I realized it was a beautiful day, and I really needed to go for a ride. I also wanted to keep up on my D&L Trail patrol obligations, so I saddled up and went off for a long towpath ride — I went first to the end of the Lehigh Towpath at Canal Park in Allentown, then turned around and rode to Easton before coming home, for a total of of 34 miles. I was beat by the time I finished, but I was glad I did it, and not just for the mileage: I managed to find two things to report (a down tree near the train yard, and a missing footbridge in Freemansburg), and also helped two women walking their bikes. One had a flat tire, a slow leak that just needed filling so they could get back to where they parked, but they had no pump. So I pumped it up, and off they went. Finally, some things to put in my trail report!

    I also came a across two guys on the Albert Street footbridge (my Allentown turnaround), and we all marveled at the giant fish — easily 30″ long — swimming under us in the canal. We exchanged a few more pleasantries, then they went back to ignoring me and continued their conversation, which sounded a lot like drug-dealer gossip, and I took that opportunity to move on. This interlude did not make it into my report…

    Back home, I had just enough time to brown the leftover ground beef and toss it in the crock pot with some beans, before going out again with Anne for her Tuesday Night Ladies Ride. It was just us and one other woman, and we did maybe 12 miles total at a pretty mellow pace, which was just fine by me. I did manage to bump into my old friend Bob R, and we rode together for a bit.

    Home, had some homemade pizza and some beer, and we (or I) fell into bed exhausted — but it was the right kind of tired this time.


  • Memorial Day Fly-By

    Posted on by Don
    old cemetery with city in background
    St Michael’s Cemetery, with Bethlehem Steel in the background and Martin Tower in the distance.

    Took a rest day today, as Anne did a road ride with Julie G. I had my party yesterday, when I joined a few friends in an MTB pub crawl: Riding up the hill through South Bethlehem and into SMB, out to Lost Tavern and Hop Hill in Hellertown, then taking Black River Rd and SME to Yergey’s and Funk’s in Emmaus. We did some more riding in Allentown, but the bars were closing — it was Sunday afternoon — so we took the towpath home. Here’s the first half, before my Garmin died:

    Pretty good time, even if I did feel sketchy and tentative in the more technical offroad stuff. Cheers!

    three men drink beer at outdoor table
    Dave, Scott and Lou enjoy some samples.

    Reading: I’m almost done with Jeff VanderMeer’s book of short stories, The Third Bear. This is working out a bit like N.K. Jemisin: after reading an awesome trilogy, I picked up the author’s freshman effort and found it a chore to read. I’m finding that VanderMeer is big on weirdness — I’d read before bed, and every night I’d finish one story and say “Well, that was fucked up.” — but he isn’t really into closure or answers, and in a short story format, where things keep starting over, over and over again, it wears thin.


  • Just An Experiment

    Posted on by Don

    Here is a test of an embedded Strava activity:

    There’s noting special about this particular run, I just picked it as an example to see what it looked like in my browser.

    Here’s another example of an embedded map, this time from Google Maps:

    Again, there is nothing special about this map — in fact, I’d be wary of using it, as it’s probably years out of date — I just picked it out from a bunch I made once. The point is to notice that the embedded map showed up.

    One more embedded map, this time from Ride With GPS:

    They all just seem to work, right? Contrast these with this one from Garmin:

    If you have anything other than Firefox, you may see the embedded activity (inside the box I added for clarity), but if you’re using (a more modern version of) Firefox you should just see a gray line and a blank space in the box — Firefox is blocking what it now considers an insecure script coming from Garmin. I talked to Garmin tech support, and they say it’s a Firefox problem — that is, their insecure script is really a Firefox problem — and they won’t be fixing it.

    This screws up about a half dozen pages here, and a few more on my old blog, and maybe even some other websites where I’ve embedded Garmin rides over the years. I think I may be going back and re-doing my ride pages in RideWithGps. Ugh, work… Oh well, lesson (re)learned: avoid counting on Garmin, especially their website.


  • In Memory of Two American Badasses

    Posted on by Don

    Yesterday was some awesome mountain biking at Merli-Sarnoski Park, just outside Carbondale. I rode up with Scott S, and we met Mike K and Renee E at the park. This place is pure northern Pennsylvania, hardwoods-and-granite singletrack, with rocky surface and plenty of climbing. Those guys rode like the monsters that they are, and I managed to hang on the back…

    Merli-Sarnoski State Park is named after Gino Merli and Joseph Sarnoski, two local guys who both won the Medal of Honor in WW2. I found no biographical information about these guys on the park’s website, which I thought was strange, so I Googled them:

    • Gino Merli (1924-2002), one of the inspirations for The Greatest Generation, left high school and fought his way from Omaha Beach to the Battle of the Bulge. Along the way, in Belgium, he covered his comrades with machine gun fire as they retreated from a German attack. His position was overrun several times — he feigned death as he was bayonetted, then when the Germans moved forward he got up and shot everything standing. Twice. When the Americans counterattacked the Germans surrendered, and his comrades found him still at his gun, surrounded by enemy dead. After the war he returned to finish high school, and later in life he worked as an advocate for veterans.
    • Joseph Sarnoski (1915-1943) was the son of a coal miner. He joined the Army in the 1930’s, became a bombardier, and when war came he was assigned to lead training and practice missions in Australia, where he started volunteering for other missions. In June 1943, with three days left before being sent home, he joined a B-17 flight crew on an unescorted photo-reconnaissance mission over Rabaul, where they were attacked by Japanese fighters. (Photography means the plane has to be flown straight and smooth over its target — no evasive maneuvers, they’d just have to fight it out as the cameras roll.)  Blasted from his station and mortally wounded by 20mm cannon fire, he crawled back to his guns and continued firing, while the mission continued, until he died at his position.

    It seems fitting to recognize them here, and it was good to remember them as we rode in their park. I have no idea what they would have thought of mountain biking, but I’m glad that the Merli-Sarnoski trails have not been dumbed down; they are as badass as the men they were named for.

    Anyway, back to our ride: it was really fun, and (luckily) uneventful. There were no serious crashes, no mechanical problems; the only mishap was when I looked at our ride time and distance (seven miles in three hours, according to my GPS), and panicked because Scott said the ride was 20 miles long — we had another six hours of riding to go! I actually volunteered to bail, so they could finish the ride at a more reasonable pace. They talked me into continuing, and the pace picked up, though not by much, as the trails became a bit easier in the second half — and then, just like that, the ride was over. My GPS read 12.9 miles total riding, but since it calculates distance by connecting the dots between location measurements, it was cutting corners and under-reporting distance on the twisty trails. Well, live and learn.


  • And A Couple More

    Friday’s ride at South Mountain in Emmaus was awesome, though it started late in the day with some missed connections. (We were all together at the trailhead by 4:30 and riding soon after, so it all worked out.) Greg, Ken M, and Mike K and his brother Mark. The day was pretty warm for a change, and I was puffing and sweating but I thought I rode well enough, especially on unfamiliar and sometimes difficult terrain.

    Saturday I rode in to the Museum again for the annual volunteer cleanup day at the park. Unfortunately, I got my signals crossed (maybe a theme for the weekend), and arrived at the end… Facilities guy Scott set me up with some work for me before he left though, so I got in my share: about about four hours of sanding benches. I only got four done, and part of a fifth, but it was hot, dirty work; when I left for the ride home my butt was dragging…

    We went to Ted & Mary Lou’s house last night — after my too-short nap — to celebrate their daughter Lily’s marriage. A fun evening with a lot of really nice people, but it was also an early night: we were home and in bed by 10:30. The evening, which started out just on the good side of “too warm,” had already turned chilly on our walk home. Now it’s cold and blustery out, and we’re expecting rain.


  • A Coupla Rides

    I’ve been getting out a lot more as the weather gets nicer…

    Last Thursday I took a “mapping ride” on the Iguana, down the South Bethlehem Greenway and over into the Intermodal Facility, aka Commerce Center Boulevard. There’s been a lot of construction over there, new buildings as well as new roads, and there has also been a persistent (and likely erroneous) OpenStreetMap note connected with that location, that I wanted to clear up but I didn’t know the area at all. So off I went, to see it all firsthand and gather data. Total ride mileage: 14.8 miles in just over an hour and a half.

    The result? After the ride I was able to update the map with several new roads and buildings, including the extension of Commerce Center Blvd into a huge, newly constructed loop. (I’d never been back there, and was amazed at the size of the place and its buildings.) I also updated the Greenway, which is now no longer under construction, and added a new access point.

    On Friday I did a towpath ride, 23.5 miles in 2:04.

    Wissahickon was on Saturday. I half expected this ride to be canceled because the weather was supposed to be bad (one reason for Friday’s ride), and the day started cold and a bit sleety, but things rapidly improved… I rode down with Lou and Scott, and we met Jason and Mike down there. I have not been to Wissahickon for mountain biking in probably 20 years, had no idea what to expect, and ended up having a hilly, rocky blast. We all felt good and rode well, especially for how early in the season it was — weather-wise at least, if not according to the calendar. Ride stats: 16 miles in just about 4 hours.

    Monday was another Towpath ride, and yesterday I rode the towpath to my Canal Museum gig — on my ride home I was running on fumes.

    Today is a rest day, and it’s raining anyway, and tomorrow I may ride with a few friends at South Mountain in Emmaus.