I was supposed to go for a lunch-hour ride today with Greg H, but his office was shorthanded and he had to bail. I went out anyway, just for an easy towpath ride, but by about five miles I was sluggish and exhausted and couldn’t go on. I stopped at Farmersville Road, ate some shot blocks and two GU packs, sat for a while for them to take effect, and then moseyed my way home. I think I guessed right: whatever ailed me was nutritional, and I felt much better on the way back.
I also think I lucked out, because with Greg I’m sure we would have done either Lehigh or Sals, and I would have been dying. I still have no idea what could have made me so drained — I haven’t overdone the physical activity lately, and we’ve been eating much better, since our return, than we have in about a month.
I did an exploratory ride today with my friend Renee E, at Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area (basically Splitrock, near Rockaway NJ). Neither of us had ever been there before, but Renee had heard good things from some friends, so off we went…
It was a great place: a whole lot of technical riding (some of it above my pay grade, leaving me walking the tougher sections), along with some really sweet singletrack. One highlight was going up a trail to what was called “the bat cave,” an old mine with some seriously cold air coming out of it. This was early in the ride and we were still both pretty spry, so we took a few selfies before moving on.
Renee had a bit of an itinerary, some trails she’d heard we should ride, and even though we didn’t really have a grip on where we were much of the time we managed to hit most of them. Later, after my GPS died, and her phone (with trail maps) died, and we started getting lost and eaten by bugs, we’d had enough — we found our way through a nearby suburban development to the road back to our parking lot. We were out about six hours, maybe four of them riding. What an awesome day!
I have a bunch more photos to put up about the final leg of our vacation (Ben’s graduation), but before I get to that I have a few other items, and a few other vacation photos, I want to post that really don’t go anywhere else.
Just a few photos of things around the cabin. Our place apparently was a camp once, having multiple primitive cabins, etc, and had been refurbished — and had the main house added — after years of downward fashionableness and possible abandonment; three cabins were still standing, one converted into a sort of detached den or game room, and the other two converted into separate sleeping quarters. Behind the cabins, as things were now arranged, was a small pond with a dam at one end. I’m not sure how important the pond had been in the past — it had the look of a kiddie fishing area — but now it was brown and scummy, and working its way back to being a meadow. (The lake was a lot better, but the muck at the bottom made for unpleasant swimming. Only Alex and I tried, and we only tried once.) There were other camp amenities, including a fire pit which we made use of on the chilly nights.
Shapes and Clusters
The clustering experiments were a success, but what I really want is to show the regions or neighborhoods where my cycling amenities are clustered. I’ve been trying several different ways to build a shape around a group of points:
Convex Hull: this one is pretty nice, it’s the shape you’d get if a rubber band were stretched around the points. It’s also built into both QGIS and PostGIS. Unfortunately, if the point cluster has concavities the convex hull won’t show them — an L-shaped cluster would get a triangular region.
Concave Hull: this one is also available in both QGIS and PostGIS, but I don’t trust it — I can’t find too much about how it really works, its very name doesn’t make all that much sense, and it requires parameters that are not as well documented as I’d like.
Alpha Shape: the most promising of the bunch, defined pretty rigorously in “the literature,” and I like the l looks of the shapes it makes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in either QGIS or PostGIS; it is available as a package in R, so I’ve spent some time this week getting R to run correctly after much neglect, then installing the “alphahull” package and trying it out. I managed to import my data and create alpha shapes; now I have to find how to convert and export the shapes back into my database.
There is one other method I just thought of, and pretty simple compared to these approaches: I could just make a heat map from the clustered amenities, then use a “contour line” function on the heat map raster. If the others don’t give satisfaction I may try this.
Today was a brief respite from days of heavy, almost continuous rain — more is coming, starting tomorrow. I took the opportunity to attack the jungle that once was our back yard, managed to use up all the weed-whacker twine, and ran over a yellow jacket’s nest (no stings, but a fairly hasty retreat into the house for a while), and the yard looks much better if not quite 100% yet.
We’ve also had a Warm Showers guest: a young Brit named Arron who landed in New York and is cycling across the US. He’s early in his ride, not quite acclimated to cycling, and he’s getting a real baptism by fire, or at least by rain and hills and poor road choice, but he was a trooper. He stayed for two nights before heading for Coopersburg.
Anne and I took the canoe out for a short paddle the first day we arrived, but later in the week we went out on the lake “for real,” in kayaks with Laura also in a kayak, and Joe & Alex in the canoe. We had a good time exploring the pond and the lake, but I really don’t have much to say about it so here are a bunch of pictures.
We brought four bikes on vacation: my road bike, my mountain bike, Anne’s road bike, and Anne’s mountain bike in case Holly wanted to go for a ride. Anne and I did a road ride together, and I also got in a mountain bike ride.
On the Road
The Adirondacks have some pretty big hills, but there is also a lot of flat ground — there are a lot of lakes and swamps and slow meandering rivers — and the roads, the paved main roads at least, mostly traverse the flatter areas. We found a really nice loop that was paved the whole way, had very few cars, and (for the most part) had the most gentle of rolling grades. Some areas were pretty remote — on one road, for a few hot seconds, we even had a bear running along with us, just a few yards away in the woods — and all of it was really scenic, with rivers, and waterfalls, and vistas everywhere you looked.
In the Woods
This area is a bit of a singletrack desert, which may just mean that no one posts their rides online, but there are a lot of dirt roads and ATV trails, and I found what looked like a promising area a little south, near where we hiked. I drove down to a place called Mountain Pond Road, parked at an “equestrian/snowmobile staging area” (aka “dirt parking lot in the woods”), and rode towards something called Slush Pond Road, another dirt road across the main street from Mountain Pond Road, which seemed like my most likely chance to find a trail.
So far so good, but about a mile into the woods I ran into a roadblock: two Park Rangers standing in front of their vehicle told me that there was a search going on and I had to turn around. Search and Rescue? Manhunt? I didn’t ask, but we’d been seeing Park Ranger vehicles and rescue teams on the roads, and saw a few “missing person” flyers here and there… I looked it up when I got back to our cabin: a sad situation, and I was basically trying to ride into Ground Zero for the search.
The Rangers told me the Mountain Pond side was OK, so I went back over there and eventually found some really pleasant, though not particularly challenging, singletrack leading to an equestrian campsite, and I took a bunch of photos of this side.
This was our first full day on vacation. Joe and Alex and I were on our own, so we decided to do a moderately difficult hike, maybe four miles or so up to the top of Saint Regis Mountain, just outside the nearby town of Paul Smiths. We took off in the morning and arrived at the trailhead not long after, and started on our way. This map shows the gist of our hike — my GPS didn’t start recording position until we were maybe a half mile in:
The trail was easy to follow, fairly well maintained, and kept to an easy grade as it slowly ascended over rolling terrain, until we got to the halfway point and started the real climb. Even this was pretty doable, and the views at the top were well worth it. There was a fire tower at the summit, and we climbed that too. Some photos from the top:
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.
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.
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.
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.