• A Stinker of a Day!

    Posted on by Don

    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

    Posted on by Don

    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.

  • Exhausted!

    What a busy weekend! We had an afternoon/evening barbecue on Saturday, which meant that we spent much of last week getting ready, especially in terms of the yard: I dismantled two raised beds — they were under the persimmon trees and didn’t get enough sun — and re-seeded them for grass, then mowed and trimmed and weeded and generally cleaned the yard, bought food and beer, and also did a bunch of indoor, house-cleaning stuff. This meant that by Saturday morning we only had an enormous, as opposed to overwhelming, amount of preparation to do. Got through all that just in time for the first guests…

    The party was a success as far as I was concerned, and I think everyone had a good time, but I pretty much forgot to eat I was so busy, and the same was true for Anne. Too bad, because we had pizza from the bread oven, and burgers, and hot dogs, and various salads & desserts brought by our guests. (Luckily, we overdid it on the food shopping and have tons of leftovers, so we won’t miss out.) We fell into bed around 11:00 with just a minimum of cleanup.

    Yesterday I did a bit of backyard policing while Anne went to the Hellertown farmer’s market, then we went to Glassboro for her niece’s HS graduation party. That was really pleasant, and the drive was fairly painless despite having to get through/around Philly. We managed to be home before dark, grilled up some chicken kebabs and eggplant, and were in bed fairly early.

    It’s stinking hot out, yesterday and today, and it’ll likely continue for the rest of the week. We had water balloons for the kids at our BBQ, and I am thinking of going down to the Monocacy for a dip. I was ready to write off and re-re-seed the newly seeded areas in the back, but the trampling they got Saturday seemed to do them good: the new grass sprung up overnight. A win is a win; I plan to do as much nothing today as I can.

  • And A Bit Of Sun

    Anne and I did the Sojourn thing today. We volunteered to monitor, and direct the bike traffic through, a busy intersection: Race and Lehigh Streets in Catasauqua. Race Street is a tiny two-lane road, but it’s insanely busy (it handles about 18,000 vehicles a day, I looked it up when we got home), and the riders had to go about two blocks on the street, before getting into a left turn lane and making a left onto Lehigh. My job was to direct the riders to their left turn, and Anne stood on the other side of the intersection, sending them on their way.

    It was an interesting, and sometimes hair-raising, day. The ride is billed as a multi-day ride on a towpath or rail-trail, and I don’t believe that many of the riders were expecting or prepared to ride on busy streets. Some few came through like champs, obviously able to ride as part of traffic: they took their lanes, controlled their situations, and made the turn with no problem. Others were able to pedal and steer their bikes, but had no real skill or confidence in vehicular cycling: they clung to riding the gutter and were trapped there by a wall of cars when it was time to go left. Finally, there were the riders who looked only marginally competent on their bikes, and were truly frightening to watch — they mostly ended up walking across the intersection.

    Anyway, we were out there for just over four hours. Then the last riders came through, Scott S rode up from the intersection he’d been working, and the three of us biked back to Bethlehem for some Lehigh Pizza. It was a warm and sunny day, and by the time it was over I got all the sun I’d missed yesterday, and then some. I now sport a serious “farmer’s tan:” white forehead, lobster-colored everything else.

  • Ugh, Rain…

    Posted on by Don

    I was going to be leading a ride today, up on American Standard in Jim Thorpe, but the weather — which was beautiful yesterday, and has been really nice and sunny all week, dry even, despite repeated dismal forecasts — just isn’t cooperating today: there is much rain coming down, and the radar says it’s going to continue. Oh well, the garden could use it; I’ll reschedule for another rainy day…

    Yesterday was “errand day,” meaning I drove around and bought things. I mostly picked up cleaning and yard products, but I also hit Cutters and Saucon Valley Bikes — I got new gloves, chain lube and other standard things, and also got new brake pads. Yesterday was my first time replacing the pads on this bike, and it seemed easy enough, though I may have to bleed the brakes at some point once the pads have seated. (I never know what problems I’ll encounter, or cause, when I start messing with real bike maintenance.) I also tightened some pivots and re-slimed the tires, things that I’ve been putting off for a week or so. “Errand day” sort of morphed into “bike prep day,” but that bike was ready for today’s ride.

    Meantime, on the mapping front: I got jazzed again about trail-accessible amenities along the D&L, mainly because we did an event with CAT at the Canal Museum and met some people, including a woman representing the Hotel Bethlehem, who would like to see the trail become a tourism draw. I also found out about a B&B outside Freemansburg, sort of a “rural retreat” kind of place, just a few hundred yards from an access point. I decided to add the B&B to my “accessible amenities” database, developed a workflow to do that fairly painlessly, reorganized my QGIS project …and then decided to update both OpenStreetMap and my database with new and missing restaurants, shops etc, in Bethlehem. In other words, things sort of snowballed.

    Tomorrow, which is supposed to be a sunny day (sigh), I’ll be volunteering again, this time to help direct bike traffic for the Rails-To-Trails Alliance “Summer Sojourn,” as they navigate the missing parts of the D&L trail near Catasauqua.

  • I Can’t Stop

    Posted on by Don

    Here’s one I made, using Carto:

    This looks a bit closer to usable, though I don’t see much real style control when making the map. Maybe a little studying over at Carto…

    Meanwhile, I tried one of my demo web pages that uses Leaflet, embedded in a test post, and it (the map) worked great. Unfortunately, the map itself was only one part of another website, and stuffing the entire thing into an iframe caused some display/clutter issues, so I decided to write another demo to see what I can do. This can sit and stew for a while, I think I got whatever out of my system — it’s time for a ride.

  • New Maps Marker Plugin Test

    Posted on by Don

    Here’s another map plugin, called “Maps Marker.” This one is also based on Leaflet, but seems to have many more features, at least at first. Here’s a simple map:


    loading map - please wait...

    Hotel Bethlehem: 40.620044, -75.382369
    Sayre Mansion: 40.611965, -75.384450

    This may take some work to bring it up to speed: you have to load your own marker icons etc, and many features (e.g., GPX tracks) are unavailable, unless you get the Pro version — at €249 for the license, no thanks! Meantime, the actual markers didn’t even show up on the map (though they did show up on the post preview), let alone the pop-ups — again, this may be a problem with my theme, though explicitly creating a map for one specific marker does show up (sans pop-up or tooltip):

    Sayre Mansion

    loading map - please wait...

    Sayre Mansion 40.611965, -75.384450 The Sayre Mansion is a bed and breakfast on the south side of the river.

    It looked for a second like we were getting close, but still no cigar.

    UPDATE: I added some experimental CSS to this post, which at least made the pop-up content show itself more reasonably.

  • New Leaflet Plugin Test

    Posted on by Don

    I’ve decided to make my own maps here for posting about rides, and maybe for some other mapping tasks I might want to do, so I’m experimenting with map plugins. The first one is something called “Leaflet Map,” let’s see how this looks:

    Hmmm, seems OK, but there aren’t all that many options straight out of the box — I especially would like to be able to center the map, for one thing, and the map design (on the back end) seems pretty text based. Default tile server is standard OpenStreetMap, but there is an option for Mapbox (with a place for your API key), as well as other map tile providers — though I don’t see how to set the API key for anything other than Mapbox. This could be a problem for, say, ThunderForest tiles, which are my favorite map tiles and also require a key.

    Meanwhile, try clicking on the marker: a pop-up appears, but the pop-up is apparently only one letter in width, and its background is transparent, and I don’t see any easy way to change these. (These may be due to issues with my WP theme, but I like my theme and I don’t want to change it.) Like I said: Hmmm…

    If I keep using this map plugin, I may have to build a custom container for it, div tags and custom css, with a place for titles, etc. I have other plugins to try before it comes to that.

    UPDATE: I added some custom CSS for this one post, and it seemed to at least allow the pop-up content to show up. So there’s that…