A Tour Without a Plan

Last Wednesday, I realized time was running out before I start my new job and have to go back to the daily grind.  I posted on G+ asking about locals for an overnight bike camping trip.  Nobody was very certain of availability.  So I improvised and whipped out a quick 5-day plan of about 250 miles.  I’d ride alone if necessary.  I had just a couple of hours to plan and pack.  Diane was flabbergasted.

Wednesday – Day One

After a trip to the ATM on my loaded recumbent bike, I headed north.  I detoured around some of the bridge construction mess, and eventually crossed into Indiana on the Big Four Bridge.

I noticed the cables for the new downtown bridge are partially done.

I cruised through Jeffersonville without stopping by Flat 12 for a beer.  I continued up to Utica, where I could see the progress on the new east-end bridge.

I continued to Charlestown, where I did have a beer, a half-sandwich, spinach salad, and copious amounts of water at Charlestown Pizza.  I probably had too much of something.  I felt “sloshy” while leaving.  Ugh.

Shortly after leaving town, the rain started.  I don’t mind riding in the rain.  The glasses making it hard to see does bother me.

At this point I had to deal with hills.  Oh well.  I’m fat and old.  I’m attempting my longest (in days) tour while being at my fattest and most out-of-shape since I got a bike.  I went slow.  I walked up hills when I had too.

The rain stopped after an hour or so.  The roads were gorgeous.

I made it to Clifty Falls State Park after sunset.  I paid the fee, set up my tent, and went in to take a shower in the nice facility their just as a torrential downpour began.  It rained a lot Wednesday night.

I slept poorly.  It was hot and muggy in the tent, but I couldn’t open the rainfly due to rain.  I couldn’t leave the tent due to bugs (I had already washed off the bug repellent in the shower).  I read my Kindle for a while.  I think I finally fell asleep at 3:30 am or so.

Download

 

Thursday – Day Two

I woke surprisingly late at 9:00 am.  I can’t normally do that while camping.  I unzipped the tent to a pleasant day, and my ‘bent leaning against the picnic table.

Timothy contacted me about meeting up at Hardy Lake, where I already had plans to swim.  I packed up and headed out.

Weather was a bit mixed, and this was probably my slowest day on the bike.  I was a bit stressed, getting sunburned, and trying not to make Timothy wait too long.

Due to spotty cell coverage, my conversation with Timothy was difficult.  I rolled into Hardy Lake, down to the beach, and took a swim with my waterproof camera.  I didn’t see Timothy.

Just as I was leaving the water, Timothy came rolling up on his bike.  He had apparently been at the park for a couple of hours, but missed the beach.  He was down at the boat launch enjoying the view.

We rolled out.  Our destination was Delaney Park, which I believe is a county park nestled into the hills of Jackson-Washington State Forest.

It was hot, then it rained.  I was slow.  I complained.  I think Timothy pulled ahead to avoid hearing my complaining.

We rode a little gravel.  We rode a few hills.

I needed food and more caffeine.  We stopped at a Subway restaurant in Crothersville (where I stopped in a 2011 tour also).  In the 2011 tour, I went into that Subway to hide from a storm, and ate while I was there.  This time, I went there to eat, and ended up waiting out a storm.

The second half of the day was mostly flatter terrain.  We were in ancient river valleys between “knobs”.  As we approached the park, bigger hills were visible, but our path took us around them.

I had been under the impression that Delaney Park was private, but I now believe it’s a county park.

We arrived, set up camp, and were immediately set upon by a severe thunderstorm.  It had scary-strong winds.  We took shelter in the laundry area of the laundry/restroom building.  It appeared to be a sturdy block building.

The winds passed, and we wandered about, watching the deluge flood down the hills and eventually into the lake.  Surprisingly, both tents and bikes were right where we had left them.  Timothy’s was fairly dry.  Mine was soaking wet.

I didn’t have real food with me, and had intended to eat at the restaurant in the park – which was closed.  Timothy saved the day with camp food.

After eating, we settled in for the night.  The rain had tapered off.  I wan’t able to fall asleep easily, so kept the rain fly open on one side to watch the lightning bugs flicker in the stand of trees a ways a way.  It was hypnotic.

I’d like to say I fell asleep in that bliss.  I did not.  The “residents” who have full-time sites there were loud and boisterous.  There was a very loud strange bird flying from tree to tree.  The frogs were very vocal – including one very close to my tent.

Eventually things quieted down, but the rain started again.  I closed the rain fly, and fell asleep eventually.

Download

 

Friday – Day Three

I woke at about 5:30 am.  It was raining.  My tent was dripping on me.  Packing up in the rain is difficult.  Timothy was still asleep.  I tried to go back to sleep.  I considered the absurdity of camping in the rain, of bike touring, of many of my life’s choices.  I was unhappy.

Then, at 7:00, the rain just stopped.  That’s my cue.  I got out of the tent and quickly started packing.

We made coffee and more camp meals, and headed out.  Salem was our immediate destination for a more substantial breakfast.

There was one brutal climb on the way that I walked most of.  The rain did not hold off.  Often there was just a drizzle.  A few times it was a downpour.  We took shelter under a tree briefly.

We arrived in Salem looking for a breakfast place I had been before.  Apparently they don’t exist anymore.  The best we got was excellent doughnuts and mediocre coffee.

Shitty Mushroom Bridge?
Shitty Mushroom Bridge?
Lemme sleep!
Lemme sleep!
Mr. Scruffy
Mr. Scruffy

Our destination was Spring Mill State Park, which is just a short distance from the town of Mitchell.  Timothy thought that heading to Mitchell first for a substantial meal would be a good idea.  I agreed, and off we went.

I had already scoped out The Hub Restaurant online before the trip.  It’s a simple, family restaurant, but the staff was friendly and the food was good.

While there, more weather warnings were issued.  My gear was pretty wet.  I suggested we skip the camping and go across the street to the Mitchell Motel.  Once checked in, and had our bikes secured, we walked to the local liquor store for a six pack of beer to share.

There's a bike under all that wet stuff somewhere...
There’s a bike under all that wet stuff somewhere…

I slept like the dead.

Download

 

Saturday – Day Four

I woke with the 7:00 am alarm.  We were packed, check out of the motel, and across the street at the restaurant again for breakfast when they opened at 8:00.

After a hearty breakfast, we headed out.

It had rained all night and most of the morning.  There flood warnings scattered around the area.

My planned goal was Buffalo Trace Park in Palmyra.  Timothy was going to ride with me, then ride home.  He was going to have a much longer ride than I.

I was really struggling to keep moving.  I was having knee pain.  I was wet and miserable.  Along Vincennes Trail there was high water across the road.  We consulted the GPS, and took an alternate route.

We made another short detour to visit Beck’s Mill.  It’s an operational water-powered mill.  Timothy wanted to buy a bag of grits.  Apparently they can’t operate with flooding and were closed.

We continued further along Vincennes Trail.  We came across another, longer, deeper flooded stretch.  It didn’t look good.  There wasn’t an alternate route that wouldn’t add significant mileage.  It wasn’t flowing water, so it was safe.  It was a matter of submerging parts of the bike that shouldn’t be submerged.  We decided to try to carry our loaded bikes the distance.  Neither one of us managed, and instead set the bikes down, and pushed across.

Yes, both my hubs were submerged.  Timothy had the same problem, along with his bottom bracket.  The lower part of my panniers were also dragging in the water.  It was a long slog down the road before it wasn’t underwater.

At this point, I knew the tour was over.  I was too sore, too tired, and would need extra time to clean and fix the bike at home.  We continued to Palmyra, found a diner, and I called my wife to come pick me up.

I still rode about 200 miles in 4 days.  I’ll take it.  I’ll do it again… later.

Download

Still on a Bike

Yes, I’m still riding a bike.  I just having been writing much about it.

Camping!

Back on June 20th, Tim and I went bike camping.  I rode my Big Dummy.

Big and dumb

We didn’t want to deal with a campfire, so I brought a candle for light.  An unfortunate spider managed to get into the molten wax.

We each brought our Esbit stoves for cooking dinner, and making coffee in the morning.  There’s little else as important as camp coffee.

World’s smallest campfire

This was just a quick trip to Jefferson Forest, but it improved that weekend.

Family Riding

The next weekend was my wife’s birthday.  She had her daughter over.  We got out on the bike (my stepdaughter and I on the tandem, and Diane on her own bike).

Among other places, we rode the Beargrass Creek Trail.  There’s a heron usually visible, but he’s shy and hard to photograph.  This time he was feeling brave, and I managed to get a picture of him.  I think Tim knows him well.

Heron!

This was a slow, meandering ride.  It was quite enjoyable.  We stopped for ice cream on the way home.

Volleyball

I’m still not playing volleyball, but I will be in about a week and a half.  Two years ago, I was the only one who rode a bike there.  Last year there was usually one other bike.  Last month brought a large collection of bikes, including my ex-girlfriend riding the bike I bought her.  Sweet!

Diane and I rode the tandem

The motorcycle belonged to our group too.

Look carefully, there are four more bikes

Robin’s bike had a low tire.  I pumped it up.

Robin’s bike looks neat with a basket

Fourth of July

Bicycling For Louisville put on the Family Freedom Fun Ride on the morning of the Fourth.  It was partially intended to celebrate/show off the new bike lanes on Breckenridge and Kentucky streets.

Turnout was good, probably 100+ people.  The mayor was there.  The news crews were there.  There were four highwheel bicycles there, which is more than I’ve ever seen in one place.

A few of the crew

We didn’t take many pictures.  This one was at the end, before everyone returned.  Diane is off to the left in hi-vis yellow.  There’s a highwheeler hiding behind the tree.

Tim rode with us most of the way.  We ran into a number of people we knew, including Ben and Marcus.  After the ride, Ben, Tim, Diane and I went to Cumberland for beer and to watch the soccer game.

Ben invited us to a party at his house.  We went home, and packed up the tandem with beer.  Ben is much younger than we are.  He lives in an apartment with a roommate.  There’s a nice back yard.  He had quite a few people show up, most on bikes.  You know it’s a party when the police show up.

Yes, one person was arrested.  Almost nobody there knew her.  She was arrested for DUI.  She had driven there (drunk) and ran into a parked car in front of it’s owner.  Sigh.  The police are never in a good mood when responding to incidents like this on the Fourth.

Louisville’s main fireworks show, at the Riverfront, was cancelled this year.  Diane and I went home early and watched a few neighborhood fireworks from our front porch.

More?

Yes.  More.  I’ll have more posts today.  Things are a-changing.

More Winter Bike Camping

Tim planned another S24O for last Friday.  Timothy, Patrick, and I joined him in the madness.

Friday brought some nice temperatures – into the 40s.  It was a tad windy and overnight temperatures were about 30.

Tim and Timothy both used bivy sacks instead of tents.  No, thank you, I’ll stick with my tent.

We each heated our food over the fire, or various stoves – fueled by alcohol or Esbit tablets.  Timothy made an awesome chili.  I had a can of soup.  There was also bread and sausage.  We had some adult beverages.  I drank more than the others, but stayed up later.

Another stupid fire picture

I expected to be cold and have a lousy night of sleep.  In reality, I had a great night of sleep.  I was warm, slept for nine hours, and only got up once for nature’s call.

The morning was cold.  Packing up was brutal.  The camp coffee was less than good.  We rolled out and had a nice warm breakfast at Twig and Leaf.

It was a great way to get away from holiday madness and spend time with friends.  I hadn’t seen Patrick in months.

Tim wrote more here.

Crestwood – Part Two

When we left off in Part One, Diane and I were invited to sleep indoors in the warmth.  Once in the spare bedroom, I was asleep within seconds.

I woke to coffee and breakfast served by our hosts – my future brother in-law and his wife.  I had hauled my Esbit stoves with me for morning coffee, but this turned out to be unnecessary.

We were able to shower before heading back out.  This was quite nice, and different than the average bike-camping trip.

Unlike Saturday, we didn’t have to worry about rain.  It was a beautiful day, if a bit cool.

I had a different route planned.  It was a little longer, a little hillier, and a little more scenic.  We struggled on the hills.  We eventually scrapped the planned route and took a more direct route.  This required taking the lane on busy multi-lane roads.  We had no issues.

My favorite part of the day was a brief break we took near the Snyder Freeway.  We pulled off into a grassy field, and sat in the grass, drank wine, and ate some crackers.  We should have brought cheese!

I adjusted Diane’s saddle (and watered the brush) and we were back at it.

We stopped at Mark’s Feed Store, Diane’s favorite BBQ place, along Shelbyville Rd.  There was a large crowd waiting to get in, and they really liked the loaded tandem.

The lovely Diane, behind the refreshing beer

We had a large lunch and a beer and moved on.

Yes, I like beer

We really were in “get back to the barn” mode now.  This was the last of the pictures.  We did make another stop for beer, but it was brief.

We rode three roads that I usually avoid: Shelbyville, Hurstbourne, and Taylorsville.  They are high-speed, heavy-traffic, multi-lane roads.  I took the right lane and let people go around.  We really didn’t have any problems other than odd looks.

I do think that Louisville drivers are pretty clueless about how bikes fit into traffic.  I don’t think they’re all that aggressive about it.  There are always exceptions… but not for us on this trip.

We arrived home, tired and sore.  This was more than 50 miles over the weekend – which is new to Diane.  I still have saddle issues on the tandem, so I was a bit tender.

Overall, Diane still loves the tandem.  She tells me that pretty regularly.  How can I not love her for that?

Download

Crestwood Wedding Chapel & Camping Tour

Diane and I had talked about riding the tandem out to Duncan Memorial Chapel on Saturday, even before her car was stolen.  We’re getting married there, and needed to finalize the booking for the right date.

We left later than intended, as usual, Saturday afternoon.  A quick trip to the store and we remembered something at home.  The 20% chance of rain seemed to materialize while we were shopping.  A quick ride home in light rain to grab the forgotten item, and we headed back out.

We hadn’t had lunch.  It was starting to rain.  Stopping early to eat seemed like it could solve both problems.  A quick trip to Four Pegs (while the rain petered out) was quite pleasant.

The rain quickly returned and became a brief storm.  Only one lightning strike that I noticed, but a little wind, a lot of rain, and small hail.  I was worried Diane would call off the trip.  She didn’t.

The skies cleared, and most of the trip was pretty pleasant.  The first 18 miles were pretty urban.  It takes a while to “get out there”.  Even at the 21-mile mark, where the chapel is, had exurb traffic.  Bleh.  It made for narrow winding roads and numerous pickup trucks.

After finishing the business at the chapel, we continued on along Mt Zion Rd, which I’ve ridden quite a few times.  I remember complaining about the unending rolling hills.  Diane and I do not make a good climbing team on the tandem.  Diane gets scared of high-speed descents.  This stretch was a bit taxing for both of us.

We eventually arrived at Diane’s brother’s house.  He wasn’t home, but we’d already talked to him about this.  We set up camp around his fire pit in the back yard.

She’s glad to be off the bike

The back yard / campsite is a sprawling thing ending at a line of trees, a pond, and a valley.  It’s quite pretty with the fall colors.

Blah!

The fire pit already had chairs around it.  There was ample aged firewood in place.  This would be nice.

Fire pit

I had a decent fire going before long.  We brought snacks, drinks, and sausages to cook over the fire.  It was quite pleasant to sit and watch the fire.

Diane by firelight

The homeowners weren’t due back until late, and when that time rolled around, they still weren’t home.

Diane finally gave up and climbed in the tent.  I sat watching the fire a while before joining her.  I was able to get comfortable and warm pretty quickly and I fell asleep.

I woke up cold and stiff.  I had been asleep for possibly 90 minutes.  I realized the cellphones had woken me up.  Our hosts were home and inviting us to sleep in the spare bedroom.  We were cold.  The fire was dead.  We happily agreed.

Ten minutes later I was in a warm bed and sleeping soundly.

Sunday’s events will be posted in part 2.

The route below is mostly what we rode.  I edited out the camp location and our goofy riding around before finally leaving town.

Download

Tandem Camping

Diane and I took the tandem on a camping trip on Saturday night.

It rained most of the day on Saturday.  We knew the rain would end in the afternoon.  It did, around 2pm.

We ran to the grocery store on our way out to grab some supplies, only to discover some mechanical issues.  We went back home for some adjustments before heading out.

Arkel panniers look and work great on the tandem

Some of the roads were still wet.  We still need to get fenders for the tandem.

Asher and Denis had invited us to go out for dinner at Jimbo’s Bar-B-Que, which was quite good.  Not being in a hurry to get to the campsite meant we had plenty of time to hang out.

Loaded

Once on the road again, we took a “tour” of the outer edge of Iroquois Park.  The park is built on a hill, but by skirting the outside edge we avoided the heavy traffic on the main roads and the hill in the middle of the park.

Wow, what a doofus

Diane was in good spirits.  We weren’t going very fast, but faster than she would have went on a single bike.  There was a fair amount of traffic, but we encountered no problems.

Diane is much better looking than I

We had to make a slight detour to pick up our campsite paperwork.  I had reserved it over the phone.  For an extra fee, they deliver firewood directly to the campsite.  It’s worth every penny.

Just a bit later, we were climbing Holsclaw Hill.  This is the only real climb on the route, and Diane’s first real climb.

We made it up a bit.  I fell into a reasonable pace in our lowest gear.  I thought we’d do it.  Shortly after, Diane had enough.  We got off and walked to the top.  For a few minutes, I thought Diane was mad, and that I had pushed her too far.  That turned out not to be the case.  She was suffering with sore legs, but didn’t get grumpy.

It was fairly dark when we arrived.  I put my focus on a campfire first.  I’m notoriously bad at starting fires, but I had bought some fire starter bricks, and that worked well.  Before long we had a roaring campfire.

Fire!

Meanwhile, Diane was inflating the pad for her sleeping bag.  It’s actually my new-ish Big Agnes Air Core Pad and Encampment bag, but I let her use it, while I used my old bag.  The weather forecast was calling for cool temperatures, and I didn’t want her to be uncomfortable.

Blow it, Baby!

My new-ish tent is officially a two-person, although I bought it for solo camping trips.  It worked out well enough.

Two people? Yep

This is the route we took to the campsite, edited for Asher’s privacy (we stopped by his house).

Download

We completely enjoyed the evening.  The warm fire and a couple of adult beverages coupled with non-functioning cell phones made this a nice night.  Diane did manage to get one of her shoes too close to the fire, and it started to smoke.  Oops.

Eventually, we went to bed.  This is where the trouble began.  I was uncomfortable without my air pad.  Diane was cold.  I managed to fall asleep for a while, and Diane listened to me sleep, getting angry as I did.  I got possibly two hours of sleep before I woke up sore and cold.

We talked a while.  She wanted to go home.  I convinced her I would have trouble packing everything in the dark.  She eventually dozed off and I was the one who couldn’t get back to sleep.

She probably slept four hours.  I laid there wishing I could sleep.  My bones ached.  I remembered why I had the air pad.

She woke up around 5:00 am.  I was still awake.  It was still a couple of hours from sunrise, but neither of us wanted to lay there any longer.  Unfortunately, we had burned all of our firewood, and wouldn’t be able to start another fire.

I did bring an Esbit stove, so I fired that up for coffee.

Coffee and raccoon hat make Diane smile

We spent a couple of hours making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to pack the little things.  Once it was light out, we took down the tent and began packing in earnest.

We learned that it had gotten colder than the forecast 42 degrees.  There was frost on the ground.  Brrr!

Diane mentioned that we should take a direct way back, traffic be damned.  Considering it was early Sunday and there wouldn’t be much traffic, I was in complete agreement.

After a frigid downhill leaving the campground, it was just the steady monotony of keeping the pedals turning.  There wasn’t much discussion other than where to stop for coffee and food.  We settled on Sunergos on Woodlawn Ave.  We stayed there quite a while.  The bike got quite a few looks.

We left Sunergos warmer and happier than we had been.  It was time to go home and do yardwork and other mundane tasks.

It was a good weekend.  I like to push Diane to do more than she’s used to, but I want to be careful and not push her too far.  I think I did well on this, other than the overnight temperature, but that was due to an incorrect forecast.  If the weather guys can’t get it right, how can I?

Download

 

Weekend S24O

Last week, Tim suggested a weekend overnight bike camping trip.  He met me at my house on Saturday afternoon, where we took a route through Utica and Charlestown to Clark State Forest.

Loaded ‘bent

I’ve been limited to my recumbent recently due to more back issues.  The cervical (neck) issues continue, and the lumbar (lower back) issue is recent.  Getting older sucks.  On the other hand, riding the recumbent more has gotten me comfortable on it again.  It had been my primary bike from late 2008 until early 2010.  It’ll be my primary bike again.

Luckily the ‘bent has a decent rear rack and can easily haul my camping gear.  I’m currently missing the rear fender – as the old one broke after five years.  The gripshift shifters have started to deteriorate, and need replacing.  They still function, but I get a gooey, rubber-like mess on my hands from them.

We intended on enjoying pizza and beer at Charlestown Pizza company, but we were unaware that it was the weekend of the Founders’ Day celebration in Charlestown, and the pizza place was closed.  We tolerated food from Subway instead.

Just north of Utica, we could see where the planned east end bridge will soon (?!) be constructed.  They’ve cleared trees on both sides of the river.

East end bridge path

As the ride progressed, we considered bailing.  The weather was sketchy.  There was a chance of rain.  It might even storm.  The temperatures were cooler than forecast, and we weren’t dressed for cool temperatures.  Tim was using a bivy rather than a tent.  I had my new-ish tent, and felt that I could handle rain – but I was worried about cold.  We decided to stick to the plan.

In Henryville we bought a little beer (cheap, nasty stuff) and ice.  We poured the ice in a dry bag with the beer containers.  This would get them cold enough for camp.

The campsite was roomy and we mostly had the campground to ourselves.  There were distant sites that were occupied, but nobody close by.  This was our first time at this campground.  It would have been much better without the nearby freeway.  We weren’t going to haul firewood, so we did without a fire.  We sat and drank beer well into the night before going to bed.

Bike camping!

It was warm, as forecast.  It never rained.  I initially slept on top my sleeping bag.  I never put the rainfly on the tent, so I just had a mesh shelter to keep the bugs out.  I woke up about an hour into my sleep because I was cold.  I crawled into the bag where I mostly slept well until 7:00am when I woke to hearing Tim moving around camp.

It was time for coffee and oatmeal on the Esbit stove.  After enjoying breakfast, we packed and headed out.

Southern Indiana scenery

Tim’s original plan had us heading through some hilly terrain on the return trip.  Neither of us was feeling up to it.  So we exited the beautiful country roads and made our way through exurban and suburban sprawl on somewhat busy roads.  One of the roads, that I used to ride all of the time when I lived in southern Indiana, was now under construction.  It made the ride less pleasant.

We wanted to get home.  We dealt with the traffic and lack of good scenery.  Although I didn’t take a picture, we saw the path of the pending downtown bridge also.  There’s a McDonalds and a Waffle House that are now closed and awaiting demolition.  There was a row of empty houses with the windows boarded up.

We rolled into Louisville and celebrated the trip with food from Twig and Leaf before we each headed home.  It was in that final two miles home that I got rained on.

Tim’s write-up is here.

Spring is for New Beginnings

So it’s good that I got up and rode the rSogn to work, albeit a bit late due to the damn snooze button.  I brought leftovers for lunch, but a friend invited me to lunch.  I’ll save the leftovers for another time.

I really wanted to go out for a beer after work, but I stuck to plan and came home.  I set up my new tent, so I know how for my next camping trip (possibly tomorrow).

I’d order this tent a while ago.  It arrived a while ago.  It’s been sitting in it’s unopened box until today.

Mesh

Without the rainfly, the tent is mostly mesh.  This helps with ventilation.

With rainfly

The rainfly sits far enough away from the tent that it should be more waterproof than other tents I’ve owned.  It also creates two vestibules (one on each side) to store things outside the tent, but covered.

All packed up

The whole kit, including the footprint I purchased separately packed into the tent tube on my tour panniers.  It was a tight fit, but it worked.  The main body of the pannier is empty.  Only the tent tube has anything in it.  The rest of that pannier can hold sleeping bag, pad, etc.  I still have the other pannier available for cooking stuff.

I’ll write more about this tent once I actually get to use it.

Once I was done playing with the new toys, it was time to cook dinner.  I threw pork chops on the grill, steamed some veggies.  I drank water with it.  I’ll admit to craving a beer.  I don’t have any in the house.

I’ll be up early tomorrow.  I have no coffee in the house.  I consider that an emergency.  I’ll run by Sunergos and grab a few pounds.  After that I plan to go to the farmer’s market.  Yes, I’ll be riding the Big Dummy.

Camping Gear

I’ve complained about my 13-year-old sleeping bag long enough.  It actually works well enough at 50+ degrees, but not so much for camping during October – April.  It’s also big and bulky.

I fixed that.  I bought a Big Agnes Encampment bag and Air Core pad.  It wasn’t cheap, but it should last years, and keep me comfortable.

As an added bonus for bicycle camping, it packs a lot smaller that the old one.  The inflatable pad also packs smaller than the foam pad I’ve been using, and I won’t wake up on the ground instead of the pad, because the pad slips into a sleeve on the bottom of the bag.

Tim has the same pad, and his has developed a slow leak.  They include a patch kit, but if you can’t find the link, Big Agnes has a repair program.  It’s not free, but it’s reasonable.

I also ordered a headlamp so I set up a tent in the dark without drooling all over a flashlight held between my teeth.

I’ll be bike camping again this Friday.  It’ll be quite cold, so I’ll really get to test out my new gear.

Next up:  A better tent!

Last Weekend’s S24O

Tim, Patrick, and I headed out to Jefferson Forest for another overnight bike trip last Saturday night.

It being winter with forecast lows around 30, I knew my sleeping bag wouldn’t be enough.  I have a nice winter bag in my wishlist, but haven’t been able to purchase it yet.  In the meantime, Timothy loaned me and old, heavy, but warm bag.  It was bulky enough, that the Big Dummy was the only bike I would be able to use for this trip.

Loaded Dummy

It had rained earlier in the day, but by the time I left home, to meet Tim and Patrick, the roads were beginning to dry.

I arrived at the coffee shop about 30 minutes early.  Tim was already there.  Patrick was running late.  That saved us from getting drenched.  Shortly after Patrick arrived, the skies opened up and it rained hard for about 20 minutes.  If he had been on time, we would have been out in that rain.

Once the rain passed, we rolled out… where Patrick immediately had a roofing nail in his rear tire.  We quickly fixed it and moved on.

We rode 20ish miles to Jefferson Forest – where I was able to make it up the hill without walking the time – and set up camp.  Patrick had fire duty, well, because he can actually get a fire started.

I brought hot dogs to cook on the fire, which worked reasonably well.  Patrick and Tim both brought dehydrated “camp food” that they complained about.  I shared the hot dogs.

I’ve had too many camping trips where I was uncomfortable and cold.  I have trouble sleeping on the ground.  That wasn’t an issue this time.  The borrowed sleeping bag, while old and tattered, was warm.  I also used my existing sleeping bag for extra padding.  I slept well and wasn’t cold.

Still, getting up in the cold morning makes me a little grumpy.  At least I had my #zombieraccoon hat for warmth.

Zombie raccoon hat

I made coffee with a pour-over.  The water was heated on my Esbit stove.

My breakfast consisted of cookies.  It was enough to hold me to real breakfast.

We packed and headed back to town for breakfast at Twig and Leaf, which is a pancake and eggs kind of place.

Another S24O complete.  I enjoyed it.  I still need to buy better winter camping gear, but I did okay with the borrowed bag.

 

Winter Camping… Again

Although I did a four-day tour back in June, I’ve really enjoyed the quick overnight trips, that I’ve done in February and September.  Tim, Patrick, and I are leaving tomorrow for another quickie to Jefferson Forest again.  Asher may join us.

I still don’t have good cold-weather camping gear, but Timothy was kind enough to loan me his bulky, but warm, sleeping bag.

Due to the size of the sleeping bag, and the extra clothes I’ll be carrying for this trip, I’ll once again be riding the Big Dummy for it’s cargo capacity.  I’ll also put on the wideloaders to better help support the load.

As an aside, I’ve really grown to dislike the Xtracycle Freeloader bags.  I’ll probably replace them with something else when money allows.

S24O or Quickie Overnight

An S24O is a sub 24 hour overnight bike camping trip.  Tim, Patrick, and I took off Friday evening after dinner to go to Jefferson Memorial Forest.

I did the same thing, with a similar group back in February, but I was quite uncomfortable last time due to a neck flare-up and not being equipped for the cold.

I packed up the Big Dummy and headed out to meet the other two.  I carried minimal clothing, despite the chance of rain.  The temperature was mild, but not really cool.  I packed a soft-sided cooler with a growler of Atomic Dust from Apocalypse Brew Works.

Loaded Big Dummy

I didn’t yet have a rear rack on my Fargo, so I used the Big Dummy.

Tim’s Rawland

This is Tim’s latest machine.  It’s a Rawland Sogn.  I really like the color.

Patrick’s Fargo

Patrick has his Fargo set up for touring.

It was getting dark by the time we were heading out.  I had the best lights, so I usually stayed behind to act as a “bumper” to keep us visible, or at least take the first hit from a car.  It was Friday night and we travelled busy roads.

The decision to take the main roads (New Cut Rd in particular) was that there would be better sight lines for us to be seen.  They are straight, mostly flat roads to get out of town on.  Being multi-lane, we could easily take the right lane and not hold up traffic.

We stopped at a convenience store for snacks, and I grabbed a package of Red Solo Cups for the beer, and for giggles.

After getting off the main roads, wandering up to the park office to get the paperwork, then climbing Holsclaw Hill (which I pushed my bike up most of it), we rolled up to the campsite.  Tim had arranged for the site.  He paid the fee (Patrick and I reimbursed him our portions).    Yet there was already a tent in our spot.

Upon approaching, a young man popped out, and after some gesturing we figured out he was deaf.  After some awkward “conversation” on paper, we determined he had squatted there.  We just wanted him to move over to where his car was.  It was less than 30 feet away, and still technically in our site, but he was reluctant to do so.  He seemed to get emotional, but eventually pulled his tent over by his car.  He was a quiet neighbor.

It was dark, so we struggled to set up our tents by headlight.  Once set up, Patrick had fire duty.

At that point, it was just three guys camping.  We talked shit.  We drank a little.  We (Tim) farted a lot.

Being old farts, we soon climbed into our tents and went to sleep.

 

Cloudy Moon, or Moony Clouds?

There had been a chance of rain all day Friday, Friday night, and Saturday.  During the night, it didn’t rain.  Although the temperatures dropped into the 50s, I was comfortable curled up in my sleeping bag.

I didn’t sleep well.  I usually don’t while camping.  Whether it’s noises of critters (two or four-legged), the hard ground, or my cramped tent, I tend to wake up a lot.  At least I didn’t wake up cold each time, as had happened in February.

We rose at about 6:45am.  Patrick made coffee (he’s so domestic!) while we packed.  It was quite cool.  I had some warmer clothes i could put over my bike clothes, but they weren’t good for riding in.  They were fine for staying warm while packing.

Stuff packed, coffee consumed, we rolled out.  Once we hit the road, we had a nice fast downhill (the one I had walked up the night before).  I was back to wearing only shorts, short-sleeve shirt, socks, and sandals.  I didn’t even have gloves.

I knew I’d be cold.  I was right.  The 30mph descent was absolutely frigid, but it only lasted a few minutes until we got to flat ground, slowed down, and had to pedal.  Within a few more minutes, I had warmed up and was comfortable.  I still saw no sign of rain.

We took a similar route back to the start location of the night before.  Being fairly early in the morning, traffic was lighter.

Patrick and breakfast

We arrived at Twig and Leaf for a hearty breakfast and more coffee.  We then parted ways.

Tim

While riding home after breakfast, it had gotten cloudier and the temperature had dropped again.  There was an extremely light mist.  The short ride home was rather chilly.

Tim wrote up rather flippant remarks about the trip here.  I like when he writes like this, even when he makes fun of me, as in the quote “Dave walked, as expected.”

This is Friday’s route:

Download

This is Saturday’s route:

Download

I was really glad to have the opportunity to do this trip.  It was short, but yet packed in quite a bit of fun.

The total mileage is actually more than what is shown here, as I rode to and from the ride start.  I also ran errands before the trip to get beer and other supplies.

I still need some better camping gear.  I want a tent that packs down smaller, yet is longer so that I can stretch out.  I need a warmer sleeping bag.  My current gear is more than 12 years old.  Tim suggested I could not drink beer for a week and buy the camping gear.  That’s only a slight exaggeration.

 

Beautiful Suffering – My June Bike Tour

Planning

Things happen in strange ways and for strange reasons.  I planned a four-day three-night tour hitting three campgrounds in southern Indiana.  I did this at Debbie’s urging, as she wanted to ride another tour.  June 2nd was set as the date.  As the date approached, Debbie was unable to ride the tour.  My other friends were still on the fence.

I had been planning to ride the Big Dummy.  My neck issues seem to be exacerbated by riding an upright bike, so I figured that 230+ miles over four days might be a bit much, so I changed my plans to the recumbent.  I was worried about packing what I needed on that bike.

As the date drew nearer, my friend’s plans were firming up.  I would ride alone if need be, but that didn’t look like it would be the case.

Day One

On Saturday, June 2nd, we were to meet at 9:00am at Sunergos for coffee and snacks.  Asher, Tim, and Ian met me there.  Ian ran late, but we had plenty of time.

Loaded ‘bent

I packed too much.  Overall I carried too much food and not enough clothing.  I also brought a little camp stool that I never used and should have left behind.  Only Ian carried more, as he was riding his Big Dummy with an absolutely huge box on the back.  This was his first bike camping trip, and he basically threw his car camping stuff on the bike.

Ian had too much weight

I put two handle-bar mounted mirrors on my bike so I could skip the helmet mirror.  I didn’t even bring a helmet with me.  It was liberating.  I figure I won’t have far to fall from a recumbent, and helmets have a very mixed track record when getting hit by a car.  Luckily, there was no crashing involved during the tour (except a minor bump between Tim and Timothy).

The route to Clifty Falls was pretty straightforward.  Most of us have ridden many of the roads.

Download

We all felt good rolling along the Ohio River up through Utica.  Once we began the climb up Waterline Road, Ian and I fell back.  Ian had too much weight.  I was slightly overloaded and haven’t ridden many hills on the ‘bent in a while.

We rolled through Charlestown as a group.  We didn’t stop.  Ian was beginning to suffer from the rolling hills.  We then made the mad descent into the creek valley on Tunnel Mill Road.  I, on my ‘bent, could have easily passed everyone on the downhill, except they were knotted up in a group and dodging the rough spots on the road.  Asher, with his narrow tires, really had an issue on that stretch of road.  I stayed safely back, applying a little braking pressure.

Asher: roadie touring

Tim packed fairly light.  He was also riding his new bike, a very-capable Surly Troll.

Tim and his new steed

Tunnel Mill Road turns back uphill and I think everyone but Tim had to walk the hill.  Ian and I were carrying too much weight.  Asher didn’t have the low gears.  Only Tim with his low gears and reasonable weight could climb the hill.

We stopped in New Washington for lunch.  At this point, it was obvious that Ian was struggling.  Ian made the decision to continue riding to Clifty Falls, but he would ride home the next day instead of continuing on.

There was a mile or so of gravel on this route.  It was easy stuff, not bad to ride on at all.

Ian on gravel

I fell behind Tim and Asher.  I rode with Ian for a while, but then Ian fell back further.  I continued on, stopping occasionally to make sure Ian was on course.

Ian and I rolled into the park and met up with Tim and Asher, who had already arranged camping.  The showers at Clifty Falls are quite new, private, and very welcome.

Ian used his huge collection of cooking gear to boil water quickly, and feed us dinner.

Nobody wanted to ride into town for beer, so we drank water.  Tired from the day, we went to bed early.  I had trouble sleeping, and was woken in the night by a rainstorm.  My tent leaked very little, but my sleeping bag was up against the tent wall (small tent) and the foot-end of the sleeping bag was soaked.  I did manage at least four hours of sleep.

Day Two

I woke before everyone else on Sunday morning.  It was about 5:30am, and the eastern sky was just getting lighter.  The birds had gotten noisy, I needed to use the bathroom, and my sleeping bag was wet.  There would be no going back to sleep.

The overnight rain was gone, as were most of the clouds.

Blurry morning

I started up my Esbit stove for coffee and oatmeal.  I had forgotten a coffee mug, so I used one of my insulated water bottles.  I ate the oatmeal directly out of the cookpot.

Breakfast!

We eventually packed up camp and headed out.  The first few miles of Ian’s return trip were the same as ours, so we rode together until Ian fell behind.  At a crossroads Tim wanted to adjust the position of his shifter (while I was out watering the weeds) and broke the bolt.  He managed to secure it with zip ties.  Meanwhile, Ian caught up.  We talked for a bit.  Ian headed south, and we headed north.

I assumed the second day would be the most difficult.  It was 70 miles and the last half was rather hilly.  As we headed west again, we realized we’d also be fighting a headwind.  The straightest, flattest part of the ride had unending headwinds.  It was a bit demoralizing.

Download

On the other hand, it was beautiful.  It was warmer.  The skies were mostly sunny.  Things were all green and blue.  It was perfect weather for riding…. unless you were riding west.

North end of Hardy Lake

There was more gravel on day two than on day one.

Straight and flat

I also noticed that I was getting sunburned.  I was wearing sunblock, but with no hat or helmet my forehead took a beating.  My legs were really getting pink, as were my feet from wearing sandals.  I don’t burn easily, but I’ve burned pretty much every year since I started bicycling.

We stopped in Crothersville for lunch, disappointed to find nothing but a Subway.  It still made for a nice rest and some calories and hydration.

Blue and green

We rode through a covered bridge outside of Medora.  I didn’t think to take a picture of it.  We stopped at a gas station in Medora that had ice cream.

We rode through Sparksville, Fort Ritner, and Tunnelton.  These towns are old railroad town that are dying.  They flood often from the East Fork of the White River.

We arrived at Spring Mill State Park after a very trying day.  I believe all three of us had walked a number of hills.  Our legs weren’t as fresh as they had been.

Timothy was waiting for us at the campsite.  He had ridden up from Louisville that day.  Timothy had several cans of beer, but they were warm.  It would have been an easy ride to Mitchell for more beer, but being Sunday, in Indiana, we were out of luck.  I enjoyed a can of warm beer and a sip of bourbon, and that was it as far as alcohol.

The primitive campsites at Spring Mill don’t provide showers, but when they’re aren’t many people there (like on Sundays!) it’s easy enough to slip into the showers for the electric camping spots.  I did, and felt much better afterward.

I did a bit more complicated cooking this time.  Not as complex as Timothy did.  He had cooked noodles, then simmered a sauce, and dumped the noodles on top.  He also had a larger cookpot and an alcohol stove.  My Esbit is good at boiling water, so that’s what I did with it.

I had some “just add water” stuff from the grocery store.  I made shells and cheese, and added tuna.  I had “cup of soup” with other meat added.  I also provided Asher a hot meal, as he didn’t bring a stove and was relying on pre-cooked stuff.  he did share an awesome bacon roll he made at home.

In our rush to cook and eat, we forgot to take care of the trash.  It was in a bag, hanging off the end of the picnic table.  We went to bed early again.  My sleeping bag as still damp.  It was a warm night, so I just laid on top of it.  I fell asleep quickly this time.

I woke up with a start as it sounded like someone was messing with my bike.  I grabbed my flashlight and quickly unzipped my tent.  I was greeted by the two glowing eyes of a raccoon who had been digging in the trash.  I chased the critter off and picked up the trash and put it back in the bag.  I then began walking, looking for the trash can.

It was quite a walk to a trash can.  I returned to the camp and Tim was up and awake shining his flashlight into my open tent, wondering where I was.

He had seen the raccoons.  There were at least two, possibly three.  They had also run off with a jar of peanuts.

It was still a warm night.  I had left the rainfly off my tent for ventilation, comfort, and the ability to see the stars.  I went back to bed and tried to fall back asleep.  Within minutes it started raining.  I put the rainfly back on and managed to fall asleep.  I slept reasonably well until morning.

Day Three

I woke up early on Monday.  I was cold, damp, and stiff.  I got up and started coffee.  The weather was much cooler and cloudy.

I made a pretty awesome breakfast that included my precooked bacon.  I think we all shared a little bit of something.

We packed and headed out.  Although the planned route was shorter at around 50 miles, we also knew it was hilly.

Getting ready to roll

I was in a hurry to pack and had trouble getting my tent packed small enough to go into the tent tube.  Tim helped me.

It rained lightly a couple of times while we were still at the campsite.  I had visions of a roaring fire and a cold beer once we got to the next campsite.  I also knew we probably wouldn’t have a fire, as we hadn’t had one yet.

It was about eight miles to Orleans where we stopped for a snack at a gas station, and better water than the foul-tasting stuff from the campground.

The land got a bit “lumpier” as we approached Paoli.  We rode to the Paoli town square looking for a good lunch stop.  We didn’t see anyplace interesting, so I went into an insurance office to ask.  We were directed to SuperBurger, which was nearby, but in the opposite direction than we needed to go.  It was worth the effort.  I had a burger, fries, and chocolate shake.

We left town going southeast on US150, which was less than pleasant, but it took us into Hoosier National Forest, and after about two miles we turned off on a county road.  Asher and Timothy had missed the turn.  Tim and I waited at the turn for them to turn around.  They got some extra climbing out of that.

Timothy coming back down the hill after missing a turn

It was hilly, quiet roads through Hoosier National Forest until we reached Marengo.  We had all walked hills.  I had walked a lot of hills.  I was cold and wet.  Timothy had broken a chain.  We all stood in the rain as he fixed it.

Marengo has a liquor store.  We agreed to buy cans and ice.  Tim and Asher went to the gas station to get ice.  Timothy and I went to the liquor store for beer.  They had a decent selection of beer… in bottles.  In cans was only the mass-produced stuff.  I grabbed a six-pack of PBR, and decided if we can’t drink good beer, we can at least drink “ironic beer“.  We were about 15 miles from camp, and Tim offered to carry the beer, so I let him.

We headed out of Marengo and ended up on Depot Hill Road.  As we began the first climb on that road Tim commented that “this better be Depot Hill”.  It was about a 10% grade for a bit, then plateaued, then kicked up another shorter 7% grade.  We’d climbed worse, but the emotional impact of this was strong.  We felt beaten.  Looking at the GPS data from this, it appears I was moving at a walking pace… because I was walking.  After that climb was done we had a nice downhill, then were face with another 10% climb for a bit, then it tapered back to 4%.  Again, not the steepest of climbs, but I commented to Tim that “this must be Depot Hills Road”.

My God! It’s full of hills!

After Depot Hill Road we turned east on Speed Road.  We took this to Milltown.  There wasn’t any reason to stop there, so we went south on Wyandotte Cave Road.  This was mostly gently rolling hills until one good climb.  As we neared the top, I called everyone together.

I was cold.  My gear was soaking wet.  I didn’t have warm clothes with me.  I explained this to the group.  We only about five miles from the campground, but getting there wouldn’t do me any good.  Once I stopped pedaling, I would be horribly cold.  I suggested a hotel in Corydon.

I got some resistance.  Tim was worried we’d get lost changing the route like that.  Tim and I both had GPS devices that can do routing, but he was worried that the gravel road it was telling us to turn down would not actually go all the way through.

We stopped a passing car and asked.  The road did indeed go through to highway 337.  That was it.  We had a fast downhill on gravel down to the Blue River.  At the bridge we met a very friendly dog who was our companion for at least five miles.

More gravel

The dog was happy and playful and didn’t bark.  We did have to be careful because he would run in front of us.  When we got to highway 337, he stayed behind.

Once on 337, it was a heavy-traffic slog to Corydon.  I really don’t like riding uphill, at low speed in traffic.  It was the quickest way there.

We grabbed two rooms for the four of us.  It felt great to sleep in a real bed, take a long shower, and stay warm.  I also got a good look at my sunburned feet.

My feets!

Here’s the route we ended up taking.

Download

Day Four

I got a solid nine hours of sleep.  I had been exhausted.  We packed our bikes and rode over to Waffle House for waffles, eggs, and coffee.  Once fueled, we now had a shorter ride to get home, as we were in Corydon rather than O’Bannon Woods State Park.

Download

We rolled through Corydon, then eastward on Corydon Ridge Road.  I’d gone this way before, but never on the ‘bent.  I managed the rolling hills without walking.  This was the only day I managed to do that.  I had a slightly lighter load, as I’d ditched some of the food that I wouldn’t need.

Tim taking a break

I really didn’t take many pictures on this stretch.  Timothy and Asher disappeared up ahead.  They knew the way.  Tim was not feeling well and kept a moderate pace.  My legs were very weak, so we mostly rode together.

Corydon Ridge Road is mostly uphill, but very gently for many miles.  When we reach Edwardsville, there’s an ice cream shop there a few blocks off the route.  Asher and Timothy stopped there.  Tim and I just kept going.  Then it’s on to Corydon Pike downhill all the way into New Albany.

McAlpine Locks and Dam and Louisville skyline

We made a brief stop at Falls of the Ohio State Park.  There was a woman sketching or painting something.

Art?

We rode across the Second Street Bridge and went our own way.  I stopped by work to say hello.  I grabbed a snack at the coffee shop.  Then I went home to unpack and greet my excited dogs.

Conclusions and Lessons Learned

I didn’t pack well.  Overall I had too much weight.  I carried too much food.  I didn’t have a good enough variety of clothing.  I couldn’t stay warm enough off the bike.  My sleeping bag, tent, and sleeping pad are sub-par, and are really only good for fair-weather camping. They are also too bulky for bike camping.  I’ve put replacements on my wish list.

I need a camp bowl and coffee mug.  I used an insulated water bottle for coffee once, and it’ll probably never taste the same.  I used the cookpot another time, but I had to be very careful to not burn myself.

My Esbit stove is very simple and easy.  An alcohol stove is more flexible, but the Esbit fuel tablets do the job very simply.

Being flexible is a good thing.  There aren’t a lot of campgrounds within riding difference from each other.  I think my decision to get the hotel rooms was the right one.  It’s better if you don’t need to do such things, but I’m glad I wasn’t so stubborn to stay on plan, that I would have had an extremely miserable night.

The recumbent bike handled a touring load wonderfully.  It handled the same as when unloaded.  That surprised me.  I expected to handle strangely.  I felt comfortable with 40mph descents as well as 4mph climbs.  I may have suffered sore legs and sunburn, but my ass never hurt.  I never had wrist pain.  It didn’t bother my neck or worsen my spinal issue.  I did have more issues climbing hills with the load.  I was slower than the others.  This isn’t a great “group ride” bike, but it’s great for touring.  I could see a recumbent trike with even lower gearing to be more useful for touring.  It’s hard to keep this thing upright below 3mph.  That’s when I get off and walk.  It’s also a bit harder to push up a hill for a long distance.  I can speak from experience now.

Tim’s write-up for the first day is here.

Last Minute Tour Musings

I’m heading out on my four-day tour in less than seven hours.  I’m sleep-deprived and still haven’t finished packing.

The plans have changed since I first mentioned them.  Debbie will not be on this tour.  She bowed out.  Asher, Tim, and Ian are planning to ride the whole thing with me.  Timothy will join us at Spring Mill State Park.

I’m riding the recumbent instead of the Big Dummy.  My neck really doesn’t like long rides on an upright bike.  Packing that bike is proving challenging.  Maybe I’m just trying to carry too much stuff.

My phone will be off while on tour.  I’m not bringing a computer.  I will have my camera and will post when I get back.

See you in a few days!

Where Did May Go?

I last posted on the last day of April.  Today is the last day of May.  What’s been going on?  A lot.

Part of the problem is that I’ve been posting on Google+ instead of my blog.

Although I rode my bike everyday in April, I only managed 300 miles.  In May, I skipped the odd day when I didn’t work.  I still managed 358 miles.  Still down from my normal, but things are improving.

I’m getting more miles on the recumbent.  My neck will bother me if I take a long ride on the other bikes.  If I buy another bike it’ll probably be a recumbent, as I can ride those with no issues.

I’m still spending a lot of time with Robin, and I enjoy that time a lot.  We spent a day at Millionaire’s Row at Churchill Downs.

I bought Robin a bike.

Robin has been a good sport and ridden her bike a fair amount.  She also ridden on the back of the Big Dummy a few times.

What’s next?  I’m heading out with a few friends on Saturday for a four-day tour around southern Indiana.  We’re camping at four state parks.

Stay tuned!

 

Touring in June

Last year, I did a five-day (four of riding, one of rest) tour to Indianapolis and back.  It was in March, so I stayed in hotels.  I’ve had two overnight trips since then, but not a multi-day trip.

I’ve now got the time off work starting June 2nd for a four-day tour.  Debbie, who joined me on half of last year’s tour, is planning to ride this one.

Below is a preview of the tentative route.  We’re riding four days, which means three nights of camping.  Total distance is approximately 230 miles.

Tentative route
Tentative route

Camping is planned at Clifty Falls State Park, Spring Mill State Park, and O’Bannon Woods State Park.  The entire tour is in Indiana, but the start location is just across the river from Louisville.

My plan at this point is to ride the Big Dummy, assuming I can get the handlebars dialed in where it’s comfortable.  Failing that, I’ll try to figure out how to carry everything on the recumbent.

Reset

I bitched and moaned a bit about gaining weight over the last 18 months.  I’ve made half-hearted attempts to get back on track.  Today, I’m getting serious.

My weight goals:

  • Get back down under 200lbs by March 2012
  • Get to my goal weight of 175lbs by September 2012
  • Maintain my weight between 175 and 180 indefinitely

How will I achieve these goals?  I will:

  • Get back to tracking everything I consume
  • Drink beer only for special, social occasions
  • Quit going out to eat alone
  • Quit eating at my desk at home or at work – especially snacks
  • Severely limit carbohydrate consumption, especially sugars and grains, except on days with big bike rides
  • Visit coffee shops less often, I drink my coffee black, but coffee shops have very little I can eat
  • Look into a support group, such as Overeaters Anonymous – I’ll ditch it if I see little value

I have some physical goals also:

  • Gain some upper-body strength
  • Through diet or supplements, reduce inflammation – this should help my neck and other areas

Somebody asked if I was starting this at the first of the year.  No, it started TODAY.  I’m not waiting.  Here’s my food list for the day (don’t worry, I won’t be posting this all the time):

11/21/2011
Breakfast:
Banana
Yogurt
Lunch:
Bowl of chili
Dinner:
Spaghetti w/meat sauce – serving was a little too big
Snack:
Almonds – serving was a little too big

You’ll notice I’m not counting calories.  I think what I eat, and the amount of it is more important than an inaccurate calorie count.  I’m also not measuring stuff closely, but relying on common sense.  Portion sizes will be a challenge.

I also have some bicycle goals:

  • Complete a ten-day tour next year
  • Participate in at least one race next year (I’ll be racing Gravel Grovel this Saturday, but I mean another race)
  • Get faster so I can keep up and have company during a Populaire/Brevet
  • Buy a lighter road bike set up “Brevet” style
  • Buy a mountain bike and try to avoid breaking any bones
  • Ride one century per month next year

I’m 40 years old.  I’m in better shape now that when I was 35, but things have been heading downhill again.  I think that losing weight, eating better, and getting stronger will help my mental and physical well-being.  I may even see improvement in my neck, which is important as I can feel the inflammation returning.  I’m terrified of going back in for another epidural.

So, this “project”, over four years in, is being reset.

No Camping

Tim & Michael both came down sick, ending the plans for the Red River Gorge camping trip.  Although I am disappointed by this, I’m also slightly relieved.  I’ve been quite stressed and busy recently.  Final preparations for the trip would have been further stress.

Sometime in the next few months I’m going to create a camping pack that will contain everything I need for an impromptu camping trip.  Next time an opportunity pops up, whether a car-camping trip like this one, or a last-minute S24O, I’ll be prepared.

Camping Ride – Day 2

This is part 2 of my camping trip from last weekend.  Part 1 is here.

My sleep at the campground wasn’t bad.  I normally sleep poorly in a tent, but I was tired from the ride.  My bladder woke me at about 8:00am.  I was also quite cold, which was quite a change from when I first tried to sleep the night before.

I changed into fresh shorts and jersey and headed for the pit toilet.  I’m not squeamish about gross bathrooms when camping, but the bugs in this one were quite bad.

I went back to my campsite and struggled to get everything packed up.  I’m lousy at getting a tent rolled up to the proper size, which is quite important when bicycle camping.

When I was married to my first wife, she insisted that she would pack the tent so that I wouldn’t make a mess out of it.  🙂

Once I had the bike packed, I rolled on out, at about 8:30.  I had an immediate need for coffee and a slightly less pressing need for food.  I’m going to have a fire and be able to cook and make coffee for any future camping trips.

I began the ride by backtracking my way down Hwy 62 and 462.  I deviated from my route by taking Feller Rd to Old Forest Rd.  Feller Rd was very scenic and that’s where I stopped to take my first pictures of the day.

The weather forecast didn’t call for rain, but with the cooler temperatures and darkening skies, I wondered if that was going to change.

Also along Feller Rd was this old, yet well taken care of cemetery.

I was really enjoying Feller Rd.  I think I only saw one car the whole time I was on this road.  I had been doing very well both days on enjoying the trip instead of focusing on making the next destination.

The mounting headache and hunger reminded me not to dawdle.  Beginning right before my turn on to Old Forest Rd, the road pitched upward.  I had quite the climb to handle, with grades exceeding 15% in spots.  This was on a loaded touring bike, before I had my morning coffee.  This was the first time I considered heading home on a more direct course.

After making the climb, things were just rolling hills.  It was an enjoyable ride with a little traffic into Corydon.

I found the local hotspot for breakfast, Frederick’s Cafe.  It was busy, loud, and cheap.  The coffee was harsh, but had caffeine.  I ate a huge pancake and some eggs.  The food was much better than the coffee.  I did have a picture of the pancake, but due to a technical mishap (I’m an idiot) it’s been lost.

The square in downtown Corydon is quite nice.

After heading out of Corydon on Corydon Ridge Rd again, I continued until Pfrimmer Chapel Rd.  I took this north and crossed over I-64.

I continued north until Crandall-Lanesville Rd, where I turned east.  The skies had cleared up by now.  It never did rain.

Eventually I ended up on Angel Run Rd.  More rolling hills, and some really cool red dirt made this a neat area.  Is this what a terra-formed Mars would look like?

While taking pictures of red dirt, I heard a train approaching.  So I backtracked to the railroad tracks to get a picture.

I rode through Georgetown.  I didn’t even see a store worth stopping at.  IN-64 was a mess to ride on, even for a few blocks through town.

I eventually found my way north on Kepley Rd.  Although I saw this sign, I never saw the cattle.

Kepley Rd became Carter Rd.  There were no serious climbs, but just rolling hills in a peaceful area.

Carter Rd ended at a T on John Pectol Rd.  The road was closed to the left, which was my intended route.

I’m not one to let a simple barricade stop me, so I went around the pile-o-rocks and continued.  Apparently the road has been closed for some time.  Nature was attempting to reclaim the land.  It was peaceful in an eerie kind of way.

I eventually came to a bridge over Big Indiana Creek.  The bridge is closed with barriers.  I wasn’t going to lift my loaded bike over the barriers, but I was able to lay it down and slide it under.  I got across to the other side, where a car was parked – someone fishing I assume – and grabbed another picture.  The road becomes Buttontown Rd at this point.  There’s a bit more traffic here also.

There’s a cemetery at the intersection of Buttontown Rd and Old Vincennes Rd.  There was a large shade tree near the road, so I stopped for a rest.  I simply laid down in the grass for about 15 minutes before continuing north to Greenville.

Greenville has a small city park.  They had restrooms with running water.  I was thankful for that, but things were dirty enough that I wasn’t going to fill my water bottles.

I headed north out of Greenville on Pekin Rd.  It’s a small climb out of town.  A kid on a BMX bike told me to be careful going up the hill.  I found that hilarious at the time.

I realized I was running low on water and hadn’t really had a good place to get any.  While riding through a rather suburban part of Pekin Rd, a woman was outside in her driveway washing rocks in a wheelbarrow.  I asked to refill my water bottles, and she cheerfully handed over the hose.  I thanked her and moved on.

I don’t think her neighbor is quite as friendly.

I eventually headed toward Voyles Rd.  I’m entering an area I know, a friend of mine lives nearby outside of Borden.  I think that some of my friend’s wife’s ancestors are buried here.

The town of Borden sits down in a valley, but I was still riding the ridge tops.

Louisville has the big bat.  I found the big paper towel tube.  (Yes, I know it’s a water tower).

I rode past my friend’s house, but he wasn’t home.  I had a nice downhill into the town of Borden.  While there I bought some more snacks at a gas station and refilled my water bottles again.  I took my time and enjoyed the break.  I spoke with several people who were coming and going.

Then came the next big climb.  I was leaving to the north-east on Jackson Rd.  I am familiar with this climb, but had never done it with a touring load.  It shoots up to about a 19% grade before falling back a little to about 13%.  I was prepared and already in my little chain ring.

Here’s a view looking back the way I came.  You can’t really see down in the valley where Borden is, but you can see the hills (knobs as they call them here) on the other side.

Shortly after finishing the climb my chain came apart and spooled unto the ground.  This was the second time I wished I’d headed straight home.

I was carrying a chain tool and spare master link, but they weren’t even necessary, as the chain came apart at the existing master link.  I don’t know why, it’s a new chain.  I spent about ten minutes getting it back together and continued on my way.  Riding along the ridge was rather pleasant.

After a couple of twists and turns, Jackson Rd becomes Bartle Knob Rd.  There was an older house to my left, and the view they must have – that was to my right – from their front door is breathtaking.

Before long, I’ve crossed over “the knobs” and it’s a fast downhill on Bartle Knob Rd.  Toward the end, I slowed enough to get a picture of this neat church.

I continued to Blue Lick Rd which took me past the truck stop, under the freeway, and into Memphis.  There was another old church there.

I was getting close to Charlestown now.  I’m familiar with most of these roads.  I had never seen this end of Fox Rd before.  They apparently are saving sign material for roads with short names.  Waste not, want not.

I rolled into Charlestown.  I stopped at my old house to check on it.  I talked to a former neighbor.  Then I headed toward Charlestown Pizza where I enjoyed a small pizza and some beer.

I headed out of town on High Jackson Rd.  The sun was getting lower in the sky.  I’m glad I had the dyno-powered lights on the bike.

That meant I was casting a long shadow.

I rode to Bethany Rd then crossed Hwy 62 – into the grass as Bethany Rd doesn’t continue.  I rode a few dozen feet to Patrol Rd, then down to Waterline Rd, which is all part of the old ammunition plant, but that section has recently been opened to the public as another way to get to Utica.

There are still many signs of what this land once was.  It may be a lightly-traveled road with forest, but it’s got trains, signs, and fences.

I eventually got to Upper River Rd.  This runs right between the Ohio River and some cliffs that used to be a quarry, and have since been turned into a housing development.

I continued through Utica.  My normal route from here would involve Utica Pike all the way through Jeffersonville, but I turned off through some neighborhoods and made my way to Middle Rd.  This was fortunate as there was a Dairy Queen on Middle Rd.

By the time I left Dairy Queen, it was completely dark.  My last stretch of the ride was flat, urban, and dark.  I got across the river and into Louisville late enough to miss most of the Ironman stuff going on.  I did notice that 3rd street appeared to be blocked from downtown to Old Louisville.  I went down 1st instead.  I arrived home about 10:30pm.

Saturday ended up at 43.9 miles.  I had a much more interesting 87.7 miles on Sunday that brought me up to 131.6 miles for the two-day trip.

I did get tired, but I stopped for rest when that happened.  Some of the steep climbs caused knee pain, even in my lowest gear.  I was able to go as slow as necessary because I had no real deadline.  I never imagined I’d be out until 10:30 on a Sunday night after leaving for the ride on a Saturday morning, but I had allowed the entire day, both days.  That allowed a lot of flexibility.  I hate riding fast to make a deadline.

I packed light for a camping trip, but I have lousy camping equipment.  I’d like to be able to carry cooking supplies and not carry any more weight.  I can probably do that if I replace my tent and sleeping bag.  Those are at least 10 years old.

I’ve learned that putting most of the weight on the rear of the bike, and the big, fluffy, light things on the front works best.  I also need a good way to carry more water.  I wasn’t even in the middle of nowhere like on the Big South Fork trip last year, and I still ran out of water.

I totally enjoyed my weekend.  I wish I could do it every weekend, but weekends are when I usually mow the lawn and take care of other household duties.

This was my route for Sunday: