Buffalo Valley Rail Trail

I finally got a chance to ride on the brand-spankin’ new Buffalo Valley Rail trail.

BVRT Sign

We started at the Lewisburg end of the trail, and headed west toward Mifflinburg.

BVRT map

There’s a bathroom and a parking lot at the Lewisburg end.

BVRT Bathroom

The trail is really well done. It’s paved for about a mile or so on each end, and it’s crushed limestone in the middle.

The scenery is about what you’d expect. Lots of farms, old Mennonite ladies hanging laundry out to dry, cows, etc.

Cows

The railroad ties are still piled along the trail in a few places. The tracks were torn out only recently.

railroad ties

There are a few interpretive signs along the way.

Sign

The trail was really, really busy. I was starting to regret that my cross-check doesn’t have a bell, because the herds of pedestrians might have benefited from a bell. It doesn’t really feel right yelling “on your left” to old ladies.

We played leap frog with this contraption most of the way.

Burley Tandem and Weehoo trailer

It was piloted by a couple towing their granddaughter in the trailer. The grandfather told me that the granddaughter has logged over 100 miles so far this year in the WeeHoo trailer.

When we made it back to the parking lot, Klinutus asked me to pose for some action shots for a photography class he’s taking. He was experimenting with motion blur or some such thing. Anyhow, the pictures came out pretty well. My Cross-Check and I are stunningly handsome, if I do say so myself.

Me and my Cross-Check

Me and my Cross Check

Anyhow, it’s a really nice trail. You should go ride it before winter sets in.

Read all about it at BVRT.org

Winter Bike Commuting

I’m planning to get back into bicycle commuting, after a rather long time of being a slacker and driving my car to and from work.

Winter is coming, so I’m reconfiguring my Cross-Check for frozen commuting duties. The build is inspired (more or less) by Doug’s “Belt-Check”.

It’s a 62cm Surly Cross-Check frame, with an all Sturmey-Archer drivetrain. The rear wheel is a Sturmey-Archer XL-RD5(W) laced to a Salsa Delgato Cross rim by Jim Thill of Hiawatha Cyclery.

Sturmey Archer XL-RD5(w)

This gives me 5 speeds and 90mm drum brakes. The whole works lives inside the hub shell, so it’s all kept out of the snow/ice/slush/salt/slop we tend to have around here in the winter time.

Power is transferred from the pedals to the hub by a Sturmey-Archer FCS73 crankset.

Sturmey-Archer Crank

The chainring has 44 teeth, and drives a 23-tooth sprocket in the rear, which gives gears from 85″ to 33″ – not really as low as I’d prefer, but that’s pretty much as low as I can safely take this hub.

It shifts with a snazzy little Sturmey Archer barcon. The cable is routed along the top tube, through an old-school S/A pulley, and then down the seat stay. Hopefully this will keep the cable up and out of the winter road slop as much as possible.

Sturmey Pulley

I really tried to make this bike work with Albatross bars, but I never really liked it that way, so now, she’s sporting a pair of Nitto dirt drops, which I like a whole lot better.

Cockpit

Yes, I know my cables are a mess. Maybe I’ll get around to tidying them up after I wrap the bars.

Winter commuting means riding in the dark. So I got a Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Cyo-R headlight powered by a Sturmey Archer XL-FDD dyno hub.

Lumotec Cyo-R

This headlight rocks. The Dark is scared of it and gets the hell out of the way. The XL-FDD hub also has the same 90mm drum brakes as the back hub, so no worries about wearing out my rims with cruddy brake pads.

Commuting (for me, at least) also means hauling a bit of cargo. Usually, cargo is limited to a change of clothes, and my lunch. I mounted a Nitto Campee rack in the rear, and a little Nitto M-12 up front. I’m not really sure I’ll ever put anything on the front, but the rack is really cute, and it makes a nice place to mount the headlight.

I still need to come up with a better set of pedals. Those rubber platform pedals really suck if they’re wet. I’ve got a pair of 40mm marathon winter studded tires in the garage that I’ll probably mount in the next week or two, or whenever we start getting overnight lows below freezing on a regular basis.

My Cross-Check

Tada! There she is in all her glory. Other than pedals, tail light, and some handlebar tape, I think I’m ready for winter.

Bald Eagle s24o

The Sloth and I did our annual fall s24o this past weekend (fourth year in a row!). Somehow, we managed to pick the coldest night of the year for our camp out. It was the first time I’d been on a bike in two months. Hauling camping gear around the mountains after a long time off the bike is probably not a good idea, and my legs were shot shortly after we started.

We stopped by this covered bridge to take a picture or two.

Covered Bridge

A couple of miles later, we crossed into the State Forest.

Entering the woods

We had a big mountain to climb to get to our campsite, but it was starting to get dark. We wanted enough daylight to gather a big pile of firewood, since the forecast was for cold, cold, and more cold. I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the site before dark, so we started to look for any good site we could find.

Signs

We couldn’t find anything suitable on the north side of the mountain, so we climbed (haha, we walked) over the mountain, and rode down to our site, just as the sun started to go down.

camp site

When we got to the site, we discovered that the forest spirits had blessed us with a big pile of firewood, left by some previous campers. The only downside was that the wood was soaking wet from the recent monsoons and freak snow storm.

It took a long time and an Esbit tablet, but we got a fire going.

Fire!

Good thing, too. It was miserably cold. The forecast was calling for 26 degrees, but I call bullshit. I didn’t have a thermometer, but it was cold. Cold enough for stream to come off your pee. And that’s cold.

I experimented with cooking and making hot cocoa with an alcohol stove. Alcohol kind of sucks in the cold, but I eventually had a hot dinner and a big hot mug of hot chocolate. I later figured out that you need to keep the alcohol in your pocket so it stays warm.

We had the traditional bullshitting session around the campfire until it was so cold we couldn’t stand it anymore, and so we went to bed.

With the early bedtime and daylight savings time nonsense, I was awake by 4:30 the next morning. I got up and made a pot of coffee. After I finished my coffee, I got cold again, and got back in my bivy. I laid in my bivy, looking at the stars for about an hour. I saw 4 shooting stars, and thought that it was pretty nice not to be in a tent, even though my bivy and Thermarest were glazed over with a nice heavy coating of frost.

Frost

Sloth got out of his tent to go pee, and said it was cold. He went back to bed, and declared that he wasn’t coming out until the sun was out to warm thing up. I stayed in my bivy and kept on looking at the stars until the stars went away and the sky turned blue.

Dawn

I decided to go have some breakfast, but my cliff bar was frozen solid. So, I made a second pot of coffee, and dunked it in the coffee to thaw it out. This actually turned out to taste wonderful, and I think I’ll keep dunking my cliff bars in coffee even when they’re not frozen from here on out.

At long last, the sun came up over the mountain, and actually started to warm things up. Sloth got out of bed to make some oatmeal, while I wandered off into the woods to dig a cat hole (this is a wild campsite without facilities).

Sunrise

We broke camp, loaded the bikes, and were on our way and rolling down the mountain. It was a nice long descent. I was flying down a gravelly road on over-inflated 35mm tires, and I think my brains almost got rattled out of my head.

When we made it to the bottom of the mountain, I looked down at my handlebar-mounted GPS to see how fast we were going.

CALAMITY!

GPS was no longer there! Must have rattled loose on the way down the mountain.
My legs were already beyond fried at this point, and there was no way in hell I was riding back up the mountain to look for it. I honestly would have been lucky to make it back to the car (which was less than 10 miles away). So, I had to radio for a rescue.

Klinutus and Evil sister came and picked us up, found the lost GPS, and shuttled us and our bikes back to the starting line.

Instead of the 20 miles we had planned for day two, we rode about 7, and then ate gigantic cheeseburgers.

As we exited the cheeseburger establishment, we saw a young lady eyeballing our bikes. She said her dad was a frame builder in Philly, and that she liked touring bikes because most people ride hybrids.

Sloth and I are reasonably convinced that this mystery woman’s father is Bilenky, but neither of us had the presence of mind to ask, and didn’t want to come across as strange frame builder groupies. She was impressed to learn that we camped out, and told us the official temp was around 24 degrees that night.

I think this makes the coldest night I’ve ever slept without a tent or mummy bag.

For those of you curious about gear:
I was under a JRB Mt. Rogers quilt on a Therm-a-rest neoair, inside a cabelas XPG bivy.

I was very comfortable with this setup, except for my head, because my hat kept falling off.

This was a fun trip, and we’re even considering doing a second one this year; possibly in the Tuscarora State Forest.

Update:
The Sloth has written up a more entertaining account of our adventure on his site.