Commute Pictures

It’s a very nice morning to be a bicycle commuter.

I discovered a secret shorcut through a graveyard. It doesn’t really save me any miles, but it keeps me out of traffic for a few blocks.

A shortcut through a graveyard
Shortcut through the graveyard

My goofy route crosses interstate 81 twice.

Interstate 81
Interstate 81

This is the spot where I stop to cool down before I go into the office. It’s about a quarter mile away, but it’s all downhill from here and I like the view. You can see the buildings in downtown Harrisburg across the river.

The view
The view from my cooldown spot

Today: 16.5 miles
April: 106 miles
2007: 287 miles

Blasphemy and Bubbles

Brandi’s niece turned 2 years old yesterday. She got some cool presents. Among the metric ton of toys and such, was a tricycle, a bubble-cannon, and some sidewalk chalk.

She didn’t really care that she was supposed to be pedaling the trike, so long as someone would push her.

Tricycle
Not quite ready for a 2-wheeler yet

After she got tired of the trike, she got down to business with the bubble cannon.

Bubbles
Click for Video!

Once we were all out of soapy bubble juice, “Uncle Bone” took the sidewalk chalk and began an introductory lesson on the construction of Celtic Knotwork.

Celtic Knot

She lost interest somewhere during the lecture on runic spells and curses.

Runes
Uncle Bone can’t remember all the Runes anymore

Oh well. Enough corrupting the youth for one day.

Today: 18 miles
April: 89.5 miles
2007: 270.5 miles

Rain Gear

I did 13 miles in the pouring rain tonight. I was finally able to try out some new rain gear. Rainlegs worked out very well. The XL size is freaking huge; almost too big for me, and I’m a monster.

Velox Seat cover…not so well. It’s a very tight fit on my B17, and it’s got a velvety texture that kind of sticks to your butt. So when you stand up, it tends to come undone. I’m hoping it stretches a bit over time so that won’t happen so much.

I can’t really comment on how waterproof it is, since I tried not to take my butt off it for fear of losing it.

The combination of my old rain jacket and the rainlegs made the entire ride very nice despite the rain. Only the tops of my feet really got wet.

Today: 13 miles
April: 71.5 miles
2007: 252.5 miles

How about some good news for a change?

Sometimes I bitch and moan on this blog a bit more than I ought to. Here’s some happy news to balance things out a bit.

Pennsylvania set a national record [Last Thursday] by reaching 350,000 acres of preserved farmland, said Governor Edward G. Rendell. The milestone was reached when the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Board voted to preserve 70 farms, which also happens to be the highest number of farms ever approved at a single meeting.

— PA Dept. of Agriculture Press Release

Rock on, PDA, Rock on!

The Meaning of Life

There are over 600 miles of fire roads and mountain biking trails in the Bald Eagle State Forest.

Bald Eagle State Forest Trailhead
A new sign at one of the Trailheads

One of the reasons I went to 700c wheels on the Trek was so I could run wider tires for those fire roads. The 37mm Paselas handled the bumpy stuff pretty nicely.

Rougher roads
Cushy tires on a rocky road

I came to the woods today not just to ride, but also to seek the Buddha. I was pleased to discover that my Therm-a-Rest Z-seat makes a perfectly serviceable Zabuton, at least if I sit seiza. It did a good job of keeping the twigs and dirt and junk out of my kneecaps. I didn’t have much luck using it in Lotus-style postures, though. When folded, it fits very nicely in a banana bag.

Portable Zabuton
A portable Zafu/Zabuton

In the course of my meditations, I was seeking the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. It was kind of faint, but I think I head the voice of the almighty say “chainstays, my boy. Long fucking chainstays.”

Long fucking chanstays
Long chainstays are the meaning of the universe

After receiving this profound wisdom, I scouted out a couple of nice looking camping spots. I would like to do another bike-camping trip this year, and now I have a much better mount than I did for last year’s trip.

My Bike
My trusty steed

All in all, a very happy day in the woods. I’m now in a much better mood than I was yesterday.

P.S. Happy Earth Day, hippies!

Today: 9 miles
April: 58.5 miles
2007: 239.5 miles

Spice

Spices are awesome. You can take a totally bland, boring bowl of runny snot, and make it into something tasty with a prudent selection of spices.

Evidently, some real estate developers are now taking this approach to their spruce up their fecal smörgåsbord.

Behold Ginger Fields, a shiny new housing development, just outside of Mechanicsburg.

Ginger Fields
Ginger Fields

Amazingly, those are the actual street names. Turmeric, Cardamom, Ginger, and Thyme.

I wonder what sort of blandness these people are trying to liven up with those spicy name… Let’s go see, shall we?

After a short ride, we arrive at the grand entrance. Note the lovely beige house.

Welcome to Hell
Welcome to Hell – Click for big

Surely, not every house in the development would sport so unimaginative a color pallet?

Just another bullshit development
Oh dear…

Well, let’s just see what’s around the corner…

Freak show
A sea of sameness

Wow! It’s a horror show! If it weren’t bad enough that every house is the same color, every house is the same BEIGE color.

Whatever. Slapping exotic-sounding labels on the streets of your brand-name, all-beige suburb does not make it exotic, unique or interesting. It’s just a sad, pathetic, attempt to polish this turd of a neighborhood.

Anyhow, after I had my fill of these banana-republic mass-produced bullshit people, I rode out into the remaining farmland, where I regained my composure.

I’m going to the woods tomorrow. I’m afraid I’ll loose my Buddha-nature if I stay in the suburbs for Earth Day.

Today: 20.5 miles
April: 49.5 miles
2007: 230.5 miles

Urban Assault

It’s a scary thing when you finally meet internet friends face to face. Online personas don’t always have much in common with the people behind them. I was a little bit apprehensive about going to the big bad city to meet the Large Fella. What if he’s an axe murder? Even worse, what if he’s secretly a carbon fiber & spandex racerboy wannabe?!

I put my apprehensions aside and drove east, into the sun, for three hours, admiring my bike’s new paint job through the sunroof most of the way.

I arrived at se casa de Large Fella and didn’t see any axes, carbon fiber or otherwise.

When you follow someone’s blog for any length of time, it’s easy to feel like you know them pretty well, and after a few minutes of drooling over each other’s bikes, it was like talking to an old friend. Conversation flowed easily from lugs-n-steel to cars-n-road rage to food-n-nicotine. Little Miss Chloe slipped out of her bedroom and began leading me around the house to show me her collection of fruit-scented magic markers, and the Easter eggs that she and her dad had colored the week prior.

While I was sniffing markers, Scott got his riding attire on, and we were soon rolling out along the Jersey City waterfront.

skyline
A slightly deformed skyline

After pausing for a moment of silence at the Jersey City 9/11 memorial, we worked our way up the Hudson, cruising through the mean streets of Hoboken, and reappearing at the waterfront for a relaxation break. We discussed my philosophy on how to deal with road rage and assholes in general. My theory is that it helps to try to remember that every asshole was, at some point, an innocent child and was made into an asshole by the world. Assholes should, therefore, have our pity and not our contempt.

Philosophical Cyclers
Assholes and Empire

With thoughts like these I am sometimes able to delay the deployment of my middle finger for as long as 2 or 3 seconds.

Trek
Another pic of the Trek

Deep philosophical discourses such as these work up quite an appetite, so Scott radioed back to Large Fella HQ to ready the picnic commandos. We rode back to the house to pick up the ladies. Chloe got her piccolo attached to Scott’s bike, and Amy (Mrs. Large Fella) unsheathed the Bob Brown Copper Penny Custom, which is easily the most beautiful bicycle I have ever seen. When the noonday sunlight hits it, it looks like something an Aztec priest would have ridden into the sun to sacrifice himself to Huitzilopochtli, (if Aztecs had bicycles of course.)

At any rate, with panniers full of picnic goodness, we rode out to Liberty State Park. We chased some gulls, and ended up at a huge playground with some picnic tables. Chloe played on the monkey bars while the grown ups ate and talked about politics, religion, and urban design.

Chloe checks the water for crocodiles
Chloe keeps a lookout for crocodiles

Chloe gave me a thorough tour of all the playground equipment before we packed the bikes up and rode back to to the house. At home base, we sat on the stoop, had a beer, and recounted the day’s adventure before I packed up the Trek and headed back to Pennsylvania.

It was a very nice day. Perfect weather, nice riding, interesting conversation, good company.

The Cutshalls and their bikes
The happy family and its bikes

Epic Ride

I will sleep, and write a ride report when I awake. Here is a teaser pic to build some suspense.

Bikes
Bikes @ Empire State Building

Today: 20 miles
April: 20 miles
2007: 201 miles

Trek Finally Done!

I got the Trek back from Oswald today. The new powder coat turned out really nice.

New powdercoat
It looks red in the shade – Click for big

It looks orange in the sunshine
It looks orange in the sunshine – Click for big

Rear End
Rear drop-out – Click for big

So far, I’ve only taken it around the block to make sure nothing fell off. Tomorrow, I’m off to the big city to ride with the Large Fella. I should have some more pix up in the next day or two.