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

  • Getting In The Miles

    We just had a string of nice days this past week, and I finally got in some decent riding: I did a towpath ride on Monday, a decent (if slow) lap at Sals on Wednesday, followed by another towpath ride Wednesday night with Anne and some friends, and I took the towpath to get to and from the Canal Museum yesterday. (I also got in a good ride at Jacobsburg last Friday, as well as that aborted Nox ride on Sunday.) The rides are currently a bit Towpath-centric, but I had a lot of fun at Sals and the ‘Burg so I think I’ll be branching out. I still have yet to get out on the road bike.

    Today is rainy, and tomorrow and Sunday might prove to be the same. Blogging, bike maintenance, listening to the blues…

     


  • What Not To Do

    Today I had plans to ride at Nockamixon, my only worries being that the trails might be closed because of recent rains (though it hadn’t rained in four days so things were probably OK), and if it were open, that it would be so crowded I wouldn’t be able to park at Tower Road. I got a late start, and the Tower Road parking lotwas pretty crowded but there were still a few spots open. So far so good: I got a spot and the trails were open.

    There was a weird vibe there though, something I pick up on sometimes at certain New Jersey trailheads: a sort of laconic cockiness in the conversations, everyone pretending to be the alpha male or something, and trying to sound superior without allowing the effort to show. Hard to describe, but I know it when I see it or hear it, and it always indicatesthe presence of assholes. Uh oh, maybe Sunday isn’t my day to hit Nox.

    I didn’t know anyone there at first, but then Jen S rode up just as I finished getting ready. She was parked right next to me, and we got to talking. She said she’d come out with the intention of doing several laps but had stopped after one — the place was really muddy.¬† Now I was in a quandary: Nox is fragile and the ground gets really soft when wet, but I was already there after a 40 minute drive, and I really wanted to ride…

    I rode anyway — I figured it couldn’t be all that bad and still be open, but I was seriously mistaken. I got about a mile in on the first loop and hit a long section of inches-deep, churned up mush with standing water on top, and saw moving water, like maybe from a seep, flowing over the ground in another area, and decided that being out was a bad idea. I bailed not long after, taking a grassy doubletrack that led back to Tower Road.

    It was a bit disconcerting to think that so many people were riding there in these conditions, but of the people I came across on the trail, I was the only one who seemed bothered by the mud, at least in terms of trail damage, and I was the only one who didn’t continue.


  • Where Does The Time Go?

    I’m not sure where it’s gone, but here I am all alone… Anne is at a knitting convention; she should be home tomorrow, but I’ve been on my own the past few days.

    So, what have I been up to, this past week and this past month? Lets see:

    Riding: I got out at Jacobsburg yesterday, and I got in a towpath ride the day before — a fairly hot lap too, for me and for this time of year, which I guess is why the ‘Burg was so tiring. Today I helped out with Bike Smart Easton (kid’s biking education program) at Calypso Elementary, but otherwise took it as a rest day, and tomorrow I may ride either Sals or Nox. I’m supposed to help with a Sals trash cleanup tomorrow, so that may influence my decision, one way or another.

    Travel: We just got back from visiting Emmi and Kyle in Durham, where we participated in the March for Science in Raleigh, among many other things, except riding: we did a run the first day we were there, and it was sunny for the march, but otherwise it was a rainy, rainy visit. Plenty of good but heavy food, some bookstores and coffee shops, and some really cool night spots — our typical Durham visit.

    We also did a short trip to Rehoboth Beach about a month ago, just a few days to do some riding and visit Dogfish Head Brewing.

    Reading: I’ve been obsessing over the “Expanse” series, by James S.A. Corey. More on this later but it’s some seriously good space opera, and I’ve read five of the six published books (out of a total of nine planned).

    I’ve also been doing a bit of volunteering at the Canal Museum, and also quite a bit of playing with the mapping software, but those’ll have to be other stories.


  • A Win Is A Win

    Remember how I said my only New Year’s resolution was to ride more this year? Well, procrastination FTW: I just got out for the first ride of the year today… Out along the towpath, taking pictures of old locks and industrial ruins. Cold but sunny, it was a pretty nice day for a ride, even though the ground was mushy in places and there were headwinds on the way home, and it felt really good to be riding.

    By the way, tomorrow is the big Chili Contest in Easton. I’ll be meeting Eric and his neighbor George there, and maybe Doug and Lori, and I expect to see a whole bunch of the old Easton crowd as well. I just may get up early and do a short run before going over, but as they say, we shall see.


  • Therefore Let It Be Resolved

    Well, the holidays are over, presents unwrapped, toasts drunk and the house guests have all gone home, now it’s time to assess the past year and plan for the coming one…

    I have only one resolution for 2017: I will ride my bike a lot more than I did last year. I mean, last year was kind of pathetic, even after accounting for my July mishap.

    monthly exercise column chart for 2016
    Here we see the ugly truth.

    I have to say though, that this is mileage, and miles don’t tell the whole story: my best and most enjoyable rides (other than June’s long Jim Thorpe solo ride) were those camping trips in Jim Thorpe and Bald Eagle, and the big Fall group MTB rides — and on those rides I mostly held my own, I was nowhere near as out of shape as I feared. (I won’t show it here, but I just looked it up, and my saddle time last year was almost double my 2015 and 2014 times. For what it’s worth…)

    Anyway, my resolution is to ride more.

    These aren’t resolutions, but here are some other things I want to be a part of my life in 2017:

    • Get a better grip on my finances
    • Pick up the cello again
    • Learn a few computer-assisted design things (mapping, 3D CAD, the web)
    • And finally, I want to find a niche in the gig economy, something to bring in some pin money

    I’m already on my way for all but the last, but for that one I’m still not sure what I might want to do or how to make it happen.


  • Winterizing

    I got in a towpath ride this afternoon, and one on Friday as well. Both of them were short versions — now that the day ends earlier, I really have to get myself out earlier in the day — and both of them involved at least a little bit of snow. I felt pretty good on each, not too cold except my face at the very start. It really feels like winter is here, and I think I’m ready.


  • That Fit Feeling

    We did a run this morning and some errands later, so there was no bike ride for me today — maybe tomorrow, when the weather will be better, if a bit colder than today. Meantime, we hit the weights yesterday, including squats…

    I woke up this morning sore, mostly my biceps and upper back: recovery, prostaglandins, the usual fallout I guess. I also have been finding myself needing a bit more sleep in general lately — I’ve also been a bit of a night owl recently though, and that may be why mornings are drifting later, but I suspect that it’s my typical reaction to heavier exercise: I need a lot more sleep.

    By the way, WXPN is playing their entire song library, from A to Z. They’re deep into the L’s right now, and I’m jamming out to Gary Wright’s “Love is Alive,” super loud — the truth is, I’ve had it cranked since “Louie Louie.” My soul’s like a wheel that’s turning…

    Now they’re playing “Love Is All Around” by the Troggs.


  • An Old Standard

    Here’s a little something about last Sunday’s ride:

    Me, Renee, Scott, and a few friends of Renee from the Poconos, good people and a good ride. We followed a pretty old-school route, except a few choices just towards the last singletrack. One take-away: dropping the seat while riding through the rock gardens made all the difference.

    I’ve been doing yoga, running, and lifting this week, but that was the last time I rode. It’s been cold and wet, but tomorrow may be nice.


  • Blast From The Past

    Among my more prized possessions is a book called Indian Paths of Pennsylvania, by Paul A. Wallace. I was struck by a sudden enthusiasm the other day, and wanted to take a look at something in it, but could not find the book — I tore the house apart but it was nowhere to be found. Along the way though, I did manage to run across one of my first MTB guide books, Joe Surkiewicz‘s The Mountain Biker’s Guide to Central Appalachia. This was a book that I got more than 20 years ago, one of several I bought in my early, “explorer” phase, long before GPS or online maps, and though I used it mainly for Pocahontas County (West Virginia), and Michaux State Forest here in PA, there were a few other trails and areas I checked out, including a ride I did once in Bald Eagle State Forest.

    This Bald Eagle ride started from a trailhead off of I-80, and I mean immediately off I-80, at an exit that ended with a Forest Service parking area. It was the strangest Interstate exit I’d ever seen. (I remember the author also found this “inexplicable” exit notable.) This odd trailhead actually was the only part of the ride that made an impression on me: although I had fun — and saw a bear up close too, which luckily ran from me because my brakes were so squeaky — I spent most of my time semi-lost, and the trails I saw really didn’t excite me. I never went back.

    Fast forward about 5-10 years, and I bought another MTB guide, this one of Pennsylvania, from local author Rob Ginieczki. It quickly became one of my favorite guide books, mainly because the author’s ideas about trail characteristics and quality closely matched my own. I trusted his assessments, and I made a point of checking out as many of his recommended rides as I could, including one he listed as “Cowbell Hollow” — a 29-mile loop¬†starting from R.B. Winter State Park, over mixed jeep roads and singletrack, whose high points are Cowbell Hollow Trail and Top Mountain Trail. It is now one of my favorite “destination” rides, and for years I made a point of putting together a group ride there once or twice a year. (Unfortunately, I was not able to make it out to these two on my most recent visits, though I did get to discover a whole bunch of similarly awesome trails a bit further west.) One thing caught my eye though — every drive out to R.B. Winter, I’d go past what I could swear was that crazy exit on I-80, just east of the R.B. Winter exit.

    Fast forward another 10+ years to just the other day, when I unearthed that first guide book. Since we had been up in that part of the state recently, I immediately thought of that ride with the trailhead on I-80… I flipped open the guide, found the ride with the “inexplicable Interstate exit,” and the loop was basically Cowbell Hollow and Top Mountain Trail.

    Well I’ll be jiggered.


  • Ride Ride Ride

    I was sick last week, Wednesday and Thursday, and then Friday was a travel day — I camped out over the weekend, near R.B. Winter State Park, at the BEMBA “Jamboree” — but since then I…

    • rode 25 miles of Bald Eagle State Forest trails at the Jamboree on Saturday,
    • rode another (almost) 20 Jamboree miles on Sunday,
    • did a short Sals ride with Anne on Monday morning,
    • did another short Sals ride with Anne on Tuesday morning,
    • rode Lehigh with Rich and Greg on Tuesday afternoon (I got tired and bailed),
    • did Nox with Anne and Mike on Wednesday, and
    • rode Mauch Chunk Ridge — including Bob’s Option, for the first time in maybe 10 years — this morning.

    We caught some overnight rain at the Jamboree, but overall the weather has been sunny, especially down our way. This makes for beautiful riding days, but our local trails are starting to dry out, getting dusty and scrabbly and generally showing the strain. We have a few more days of sun before storms hit, but I’m feeling the strain myself, and tomorrow is a well-deserved rest day — I left my gym bag in the Mauch Chunk Lake parking lot; the boat rental people grabbed it for me so we’re going back up tomorrow to get it, and we’ll make lemonade from the situation by renting kayaks. Saturday we’ll ride out to the Velodrome and cheer Anne’s brother Joe at the first ‘cross race of the season.

    Colors are just on the verge of changing, and some leaves have already started to fall, and I just heard some geese, through the open window as they flew past. Autumn is about to drop.