Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kinder Farms again... and again... and again...

Since I have gotten my mountain bike, I have been out riding it every day. Kinder Farms is the closest place that I can experiment tearing up some trails, so most days I'll ride her over there. I've gotten fairly accustomed to the trails now, though every time I go I find something new. Today was no different.

I started off passing by that pond again. I decided to stay away from the bamboo though, considering I already popped a tire over there.
From May 30

The pond has a pretty nice little floating dock which somehow I missed up until now.

From May 30

While out exploring around, I did stumble across this... which I can only presume to be an oven or fireplace.
From May 30

The best part of mountian biking though, is making your own trails.
From May 30

Kinder Farms is a great little park. They even have my college's favorite sport, Frolf!
From May 30

I took a little break for some lunch in a hidden away picnic table:
From May 30

Where I found something a bit creepy.
From May 30

From May 30

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From May 30

Yes, those do say Mother and Baby Meyn.

Kinder Farms has a lot of pavilions you can rent out
From May 30

along with a ton of fields and playgrounds
From May 30

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They also have a communal gardening area that I might look into!
From May 30

Anyways, thats it for todays ride. I can't track mileage while on the mountain bike, but since getting it, I have put in about 10 hours.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Bike's First Time Out!

I got a call today from Bike Doctor saying my bike was in and built so I should stop by at some point to pick it up. Needless to say, I have never driven the 3 miles from work to the mall in that high of speed.

As I mentioned two posts ago, I won the grand prize at the Maryland Bike to Work day, a brand new 2010 Trek 3500. I was ecstatic. I could barely get out more than a "Thank you!" for the 10 minutes after I won. I road over there on my lunch break to check it out. The Trek 3500 is an entry level bike, retailing for about $350. While it is a great bike, I have had my eyes set on a Cannondale F9 for awhile now. My buddy has one and he let me ride it for a bit. I loved it. While it is still an entry level bike, it is a great trail bike. I'll give a little review of it shortly...

So I was able to get a store credit for the Trek 3500 and only had to pay the $90 difference for the Cannondale F9. I paid, thanked them again, and drove home. I tossed off my work clothes and headed out to Kinder Farms Park... a place I have ridden many many time before on my road bike. A coworker said there are some awesome trails back there for mountain biking... I had my doubts. I hadn't seen anything of that sort on my road bike... man was I wrong.

From May 26

And here is a close up of the bike...
From May 26

I love it.

Anyways, you may recognize that photo... I took a similar one last year when I first went there on the road bike. So I took off down the paved road and before long I was in Kinder Farms. Still having my doubts about mountain bike trails. It wasn't long before I spotted an opening off the side of the pavement and off I went.

From May 26

Soon this grassy trail turned into dirt...
From May 26

Which then opened up to be a beautiful glade.

From May 26

I was surprised to see a lake nearby with a small "bridge" going over some marshland. Hell, I have a mountain bike, lets do this!
From May 26

After riding through some bamboo, I came across another glade on the other side of the lake.
From May 26

With beautiful tree coverage.
From May 26

A few more side trails led me out to a field overlooking a pitch (as most of you call it)
From May 26

And in an attempt to pull a CoastKid profile picture, I lifted my awesome new ride up in all its glory.
From May 26

I rode some more trails then headed home. Gotta start dinner soon anyway. So, how do I like the Cannondale F9?

It is everything I could want. Assuming my scale is calibrated right, the bike weighs exactly 29 pounds. The tires are "slick" enough to ride on the road without losing much efficiency (I was going nearly the same speed on pavement as my road bike). I didn't feel any of the roots I hopped over and the overall experience was great, albeit different.

I do have to get used to riding the bike though. The upright position is a bit... strange after only riding a road bike for a few years. The lack of hand grips is strange as well, though once you actually get in the woods and off pavement, the thought of getting "aero" goes away completely. Shifting is of course different... I got caught in too high of a gear quite a few times, but that will just come with general mountain biking practice.

But all that aside... I am astonished at the amount of fun I had. Even with stopping that much to take pictures, it was a great experience to get off the pavement and get "hidden" in the woods. I can't wait to go back out again!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beautiful day out with the Wife

This morning the weather was great so the wife and I decided to do the same route we did a few weekends ago. We took off from Elvaton northward on the B&A. When we got to the end, which is where we turned around last time, we decided to trek on ahead. I kept us going until we had done 5 miles, putting us just about half mile away from the BWI loop.

This area is in a small forest. I know the picture doesn't look like it, but there is a great 7 foot wide bike trail (which I am standing on to take the picture. Here is the wife at the 5 mile mark.

We turned around there and made our way back. Nat got her first real "scare" when we were crossing a street and some jerk lady slammed on the gas only so she could slam on the brakes and blare her horn as we were crossing when we were legally supposed to. I got yelled at by the wife for stating my opinion of the driver loud enough so she could hear. Haha.

Anyways, we took a little break at one of the flower gardens that dot the B&A.

And we ended our trip at just over 10 miles.

After that we grabbed a lunch from the deli across the street from where we parked. Great morning!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I just won a Bike!

I mentioned a few days ago that today was the national bike to work day. I met up with a few coworkers and road down... I'll do a write-up on the whole event once I get some pictures loaded up.

But in the meantime.... they had a drawing for a Trek 3500 Hard Tail mountain bike and I won! A huge thanks to Bike Doctor of Annapolis who are giving me the bike and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council for putting on the event!

Unfortunately I won't be able to get fitted and pick the bike up today since, well, I don't think I can ride two bikes home. But, yay, I am so freaking excited. I already scheduled a day out to Patapsco!

Edit: So I biked over to the store on my lunch break. They are offering me store credit equal to the cost of the 3500, which means I can get the bike I have had my eyes on for a long time now, the Cannondale F9! which is about 5 pounds lighter and has better components. I'll only have to pay the difference which is about $100.

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Local Bike Race Sabotaged

Apparently a bike race down where I used to live (and went to college) got sabotaged. Some numbnut laid out a line of thumbtacks onto the course and when the riders went over them the all slid out. This is absolutely terrible.

I am a bit surprised they held a bike race in Leonardtown. It is a pretty run-down crappy neighborhood surrounded by pristine roads and beautiful water-front views. I actually rented a house right down the street from where this happened for a few months before I moved up here. If you hook a left right after the fire station you run into a strip club.

I am also surprised with the crash. Unless the guy saw them and attempted to move around them, I am surprised with how quickly he was taken down. Anyways, hopefully the jackass that did this will get caught and have to pay dearly.

Leonardtown Criterium Crash - Pro/1/2 Race from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bike to Work Day 2010

This Friday is Maryland's Bike to Work Day. I started this blog in June of last year, a migration from a website I personally owned that I never really updated. I had started a blog for biking over there as well... which all started at this time last year, on the same day as my very first ever commute to work on Bike to Work Day 2009.

A lot has changed since then. On personal levels, I have gotten married, moved, and got a few promotions. On a biking level, I have really started riding. At the 2009 event, I rode my cheap mountain bike in.

I met up with a group of coworkers and we rode in. I was the slow man of the group, so slow, in fact, that they broke away with me to ride up a one mile side street and back down to let me get some distance on them. They still caught up and were annoyed at my slow speed. Here I am cresting the top of the Naval Academy Bridge on that bike. Note my terrible saddle position, terrible posture, and look of torture that I try to mask with a smile.

Well, as you all know, I got a new real road bike shortly thereafter. It was an incredible change of speed and efficiency. We started doing weekend BWI Loop bike rides. We rode at lunch together. Anyways, this is all due to the wonderful event that Maryland puts on each year and this Friday they are continuing the tradition. On top of that, Annapolis has started working hard on making the city a more bike friendly place. They have put up road signs, added a few "bike lanes" and even released a map showing the "Bike Routes" through the town. I'm looking forward to this Friday!

And here is a slideshow from last year.

Up to Gettysburg

Saturday morning the wife gave me a choice. Go do my bike ride I had been wanting to do for weeks or go on 90 minute car ride to her aunt's for lunch. Hard choice, right?

I left in the early light of the morning and drove up to Gettysburg. Since a majority of you reading this are probably not American, Gettysburg was the location of the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War (ya know, the war we had after we kicked all your arses :P) and what most people believe the turning point of the war. Robert E. Lee got his butt handed to him by Meade.

Unfortunately (and I am still kicking myself)in my rush to get out in the morning I left my camera at home (along with my helmet!), so no pictures. It was a great day to be out biking though. I rode up and down Little and Big Round Top and took a break to explore Devil's Den. All in all it was 42 miles according to my bike computer... which seems about right as I was attempting to follow this guide. It took about 3 hours and I made it home right around lunch time.

Amazing time, some nice hills, and all around a great workout. Unfortunately sunday I came down with a stomache pain and didn't make it out to do anything.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Too damn cold

The weather has been too damn cold/rainy/undesirable to be out riding for the past few days. Hopefully with the weather heating up today I can get out for a quick ride after work. Instead, I've been working out inside. Unlike KungFoo, I don't have an exercise bike, though I would really love to get a set of nice rollers at some point. I'd think they'd go on sale soon enough, considering their sales probably plummet during the spring and summer when people start to go outside again.

I've been working my legs a lot indoors, doing squats and leg extensions. After about a half hour, my legs seem to have a much more intense workout than an hour or two on a bike!

Anyways, go check out CoastKid's latest blog entry, Midweek Trailride. I have to admit, I am thoroughly jealous of all the history he gets to see on a daily basis living in Scotland. The pictures from that ride show a knight's tomb, which I can't even begin to describe how amazing that is to me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rider's Collective: Free Online Magazine

Awhile back KungFoo posted a link to an online Mountain Biking Magazine. I now present a general riding magazine, the Rider's Collective. It is filled with beautiful pictures, stories, and advertisements. Of particular interest to me are the "How to Ride with your Wife" on Page 18 and Cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway on Page 20.

I have been staring at my Skyline Drive route, attempting to determine how best to do it. The Skyline is what precedes the Blue Ridge Parkway. Anyways, give it a read!

Scary Biking Video

I saw this posted over on Reddit's bicycling subreddit. Just goes to remind us all to ride defensively and never assume a driver sees you. Cuz even if you don't do anything wrong, a car is gonna win the fight every time.

I only got out for a ride on Saturday this weekend. Truth be told, it kicked my ass. The wind was terrible and I was a bit nervous to be latched into my pedals. Sunday was Mother's Day and I opted to not do anything bike related. To be honest, this whole week is looking bad. Low temperatures on some days, raining on others, and isolated thunderstorms on the rest. I doubt I'll be biking to work at all this week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

$1 Bike Mount and a Video

After seeing some videos posted over at Massive Mountain Biker, I decided I really wanted a bike camera. Even with the MD80's coming in at $30 shipped, I knew I already had a camera which could take video. So I came up with a way to mount my Kodak C613 on my bike.
The camera:

I went to Lowes (a hardware store) and bought a 1.5" long 1/4 inch wide screw, two nuts and two bolts for a total cost of $0.48. I then went to my local bike shop, dug around their rubbage bin to find a spare mount. Really, any mount would do, light, reflector, anything. I managed to find a broken bike computer mount for $0.50.

I drilled a small hole in the extended part of the mount, threaded the screw through, (surrounded by the nuts and bolts) and then tossed the whole device on the bike:

After that, I just screw the camera on (the camera has a screw hole for use with tripods). It is ugl and not the most secure thing in the world, but it works impressively well for under a buck.

So then, here is a video I made with this thing sitting on my bike. It leaves my house, shows the max speed I get on this ride (right at the start) then speeds up. I got off the bike a few times to verify the thing was still recording and it was doing great. Unfortunately, my batteries were dying, so I had to restart it a few times then I finally gave up as I made my way onto East/West Blvd. Enjoy!

Music: Any Given Day by Carbon Leaf

Highest Point in Maryland

I updated my stats over at Riding with GPS and saw my climbing stat of 3,462 feet since I began keeping track last week. I know its not all that much and I would destroy that number in a single trip out to Pataspco State Park if I make it out there again. But, according to Wikipedia's article on the highest point in every US State, I surpassed Hoye-Crest, the highest point in Maryland. Which means I have also "climbed" the vertical equivalent of 19 other states as well. Another 30 feet and I'll have Massachusetts as well.

And here, via HMDB a view from Hoye-Crest.

I have another write-up tonight or tomorrow which I am quite happy about, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Out on the B&A: Repairs lacking

It was such a nice day out that I took a ride along the B&A after work last night. I did my normal loop, skipping Kinder Farms, as the wife was getting hungry. It seems that there has been zero progression on fixing the B&A where it washed out oh so long ago. In fact, the only difference I noted was they put up a wooden barrier in an attempt to prevent people from getting to the hole. I jumped over it and snapped a few photos.

They might have done some damming of the wall on the right. I know this picture doesn't really show it all that well, but the water level is about 2 feet above the hole in the path.

There was a cool little bird that was sticking its head out of its nesting hole every few seconds, looking around, then going back in. Enhanced zoom for the loss.

Anyways, they diverted the path as I mentioned before down a side road for about a quarter mile that eventually reconnects with the path. You get to cross over a little bridge that spans the swamp.

And you ride the B&A until you get to East/West Boulevard, which is a great road for bikes, as there is a dedicated biking/walking path off to the side. Here I am on the bridge on the B&A passing over East/West.

Trip time: 00:30:34
Average speed: 14 mph
Top Speed: 27.4 mph

Total this week: 28.3 miles
Time: 02:10:34
Climb: 1,143 feet

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Entry Level Road Bikes

A coworker is looking to get a new road bike, so I wrote up a little spreadsheet showing some of the more well known entry level road bikes with their retail price, their derailleur components and their website. You can find it on a tab up there at the top or here. Of course, those prices are what is posted on the manufacturer's website, so you should be able to find them cheaper. Both my wife and I are riding the Fuji Newest 2.0, which retails for $899, but I got mine for $500 and my wife for just a bit more than that.

Well, I won't be doing that again

I saw a coworker out on his bike a few months back along a path I frequently drive at lunch. It is a nice little loop, crossing over two bridges and through the woods. I asked him about it and he said it was a nice little 10 miler that fits in perfectly with out required hour long lunch.

So I mapped it out, it turns out to be 11.2 miles.

So I brought in my bike to give it a go.
I will never, ever, be doing that again. Leaving work you head down Admiral Cochran, a two lane 30 mph road. Not all that bad. You then get on Route 2. Down to the first bridge it isn't bad, a large shoulder. Going across the bridge is great. After that? Screw everything about that road. A three lane highway with a "bike lane" that starts and stops randomly and way too many cars getting on and off. Luckily that is only for a mile or two before you can take an early right to get over to Route 214. At that point, there is a rather large shoulder and the speed limit isn't all that bad. Eventually you get on Riva Road.

Screw everything about that. Small-ish hills with no shoulders riding into curves.

View Larger Map

Luckily, I got through that mess without any issue and the cars behind me were kind enough to wait for a good minute until I was over the hill and they could see around me before they passed. After that little juncture the riding is fine until a few miles from work, where Riva turns into the second busiest street in Annapolis after West Street, there are no bike lanes, and there are businesses for cars to pull in and out of.

No. I don't think I'll be doing that route again anytime soon. I'd rather run laps around the shopping center.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Awesome Bike Stat Video

First off, new blog layout so I can have larger pictures and whatnot in the body of the post.
I have been looking for a gps device that will keep track of data for me as I climb/descend hills. I have a cheap-o bike computer that I bought from target for about $10 that gives me some of my vital stats, but I'd love to know my exact routes and data for every single pedal I push. I inquired over on reddit what some of the other guys use, and it seems like Garmin Edge series is the way to go. Unfortunately, their Edge 605 and 705 devices are way out of my price range. A user mentioned his Garmin Edge 500 series device and linked to a video he made. Check this awesome video out!

I asked for his source code for it, or rather, his website on instructions for this, so I'll update this once he gives it to me, but damn... I am impressed!

In the mean time, for the best review I have seen thus far on the Edge 500, head over to DC Rainmaker's review of the product. I wonder what the wife would think if $250 went missing right about now...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wife out!

I was going to head up to Gettysburg this morning to do some loops through the battlefields, but my wife said she wanted to go for a ride. So I loaded up the car with our bikes and drove down the street to where the B&A meets Elvaton. She had some trouble getting her second foot in the pedal cage, but other than that she did great! I was talking to her the whole time about how to shift and how to stop, but after awhile of me saying "To pedal easier push left, harder push right!" she got it nailed down and off we flew.

We rode to the end of the B&A and turned around right before the lane to get to the BWI Loop. Here we are at the turn around spot. That brick building on the left is the parking deck I use to get on/off the B&A from the northern end.

7.5 miles ain't bad for her first trip! Woo hoo!