TAB 206K Ride Report

Eric K., Reddan, Steph, and Bill joined me last Sunday for a first running of the Turn-a-Breeze Perm route.

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3710329

As I think I mentioned before here, I have never ridden all this route in one shot, so even though it is well known to me, I was interested (and slightly concerned) about what it would be like to ride it.   It’s really not the same to ride it in pieces on different days than to do it as a permanent.

While the route is designed to maximize safety and scenery, it does have a few unavoidable warts.  Would the 5% unpleasant overshadow the 95% pleasant?  Possibly.

The first 1/3rd of the route is flat-like (about 40 feet of up per mile), as is the final 1/3rd.  But the middle section has about 90 feet of UP per mile.  I was worried that the climbing was too poorly distributed.  Would the bookends feel a little too boring, and the middle would feel like a deathmarch?

I have been doing the least amount of riding I have in the last 6 or 7 years, since before I started riding again (after a decade off the bike back in the lat 90’s / early 2000’s), so my weight is up and my fitness is down.  I had a number of upper back and shoulder problems this past winter and spring, and only in the last 6 weeks or so have they not impeded my riding significantly.

So I started this ride fearfully.  None of my companions have been so stationary this spring and summer, so this ride was no big deal for them.

Steph and Bill took off on their own about 10 miles into the ride, shortly after we passed through the first road closure of the day.  Dan, Eric, and I stayed together the whole day.  So did Bill and Steph.

Everyone had a few words of encouragement  (ahem, complaints) about the info controle question in Bedford.  Ok, yeah, it’s not supposed to be a scavenger hunt, is it?  I personally think it’s cool to have to hunt for a minute or two.  Yeah, I know it’s about proof of passage, but tough noogies.  Acceptable alternate controles are any local businesses nearby, so the hunt is optional.  I prolly should warn future riders though (or change the question, of course).

The route from Bedford to Breezewood is well known to CTC anciens, and is absurdly hilly.  On the ride, we pondered why on earth some of these roads are even there at all, or why did anyone want to pave them, as they serve very few houses and farms.

Breezewood was a total cluster-____, what with the 4th of July holiday traffic.  We filtered through it like a….um…breeze, and then found ourselves unable to filter through the chaos at Sheetz.  I had been looking forward to a freshly made sub, but had to settle for a really lousy pre-made one.  Such is life.

The 15 miles after Breezewood keeps up the pressure, and the climb up French Creek road was worse than I thought it would be.  This was one of the few parts of the route I had never actually ridden my bike on before, only drove in a car.  It sucked.  Dan, following close behind me on the climb, began to hallucinate, and saw a neon yellow muppet shark on the back of my bike as he ascended.  He afterwards showed me the pic he took – yep, he’s right – a  Yellow Shark.

The Yellow Shark.  RIP.

The Yellow Shark. RIP.

The descent off that climb is a hoot.  Worth it.  Totally worth it.

Anyways….. We finished the rest of the ride without incident.  Some other interesting notes:

We had a headwind in the afternoon coming north through the Cove, even though we had a headwind heading south that morning through Imler Valley.  Screwed, I tell ya.

The section of road through the narrows on Rt. 36 near Loysburg that I thought would be dangerous was fine.  We did it on a Sunday when truck traffic is low, and there is a bit more of a berm there than I remembered, so it was manageable.  Not fun, but manageable.  I can tolerate almost anything for a mile or two (and that’s all this is).

I felt like crap at the end of the ride. Like I had a fever, along with heartburn and nausea.  I relied on sugar and caffeine to see me through the last 40 miles and that was a mistake.  One I know better regarding, but I was being stupid, I admit.

Oh, by the way, total climbing per RWGPS is 7,200 feet, but my Garmin said over 8,400 by the time we finished.  Who is correct?  Beats me.  It sure felt more like the 8,400 but that could be my lack of fitness doing the perceiving.

Reports from all participants were that this is a great route.  I am glad they liked it.  I liked it too.

In the end it seems my fears about the route were not well founded.  I guess I was just being paranoid since it’s the first RUSA route with my name on it.

After doing this break out 200K, I felt really jazzed about riding again, and was looking for a good end of season.  However, I am typing this with a 3″ long stitch in my face, recovering after skin cancer surgery.  No more riding for at least 2 more weeks, I figure.  Oh well.  I will recover and have a good fall.  In the meantime, wear your sunscreen, folks!

Heading south in the morning through Imler Valley

Heading south in the morning through Imler Valley

Eric cresting the top of the day's first steepie.

Eric cresting the top of the day’s first steepie.

TAB follows PA Bike Route 'S' from Bedford to Breezewood, save for a silly loop de loop in Everett.

TAB follows PA Bike Route ‘S’ from Bedford to Breezewood, save for a silly loop de loop in Everett.

Ahh, such a calming and relaxing atmosphere at the Sheetz in Breezewood....

Ahh, such a calming and relaxing atmosphere at the Sheetz in Breezewood….

Coming down off the roller coaster descent on French Creek Rd.

Coming down off the roller coaster descent on French Creek Rd.

Muddy river.  Lots of rain around here lately...

Muddy river. Lots of rain around here lately…

Chillin on the bridge.  I stopped, so Dan and Eric obliged.  We were only at mile 70 or so, but I certainly was feeling the route.

Chillin’ on the bridge. I stopped, so Dan and Eric obliged. We were only at mile 70 or so, but I certainly was feeling the route.

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The Moulton Has Landed

Well, the Moulton finally showed up about a month ago.  What should have a been a 6 week wait became nearly 6 months.   I won’t go into the details except to say it wasn’t the fault of the dealer I bought it from.

Anyways, this post is sort of a ‘first impressions’ review….

I got the bike through Bruce Metras, a Moulton dealer in the SF area. Bruce is very well versed in these bikes, and has the little bit of specialized knowledge these bikes occasionally demand.  Upon un-boxing my first impression was that it’s quite a lovely machine and very well made.

First ride impressions were great. It actually fits and feels like a regular bike in a lot of respects. I have the fit adjusted to nearly exactly match my steel Spectrum road bike (within about +/- about 5 mm on setback and reach).

Further comparing those two on the road, I found the Moulton climbs seated as well as my Spectrum. Standing is slightly annoying because of suspension bob. You have to modify your riding technique slightly to minimize the bobbing. Lower cadence and rocking the bike a little bit more. Between that and getting the spring rate and damping adjusted right, it’s now mostly a non-issue. The TSR has the ‘unified rear triangle’ design that prevents any pedaling force from actuating the rear suspension, but even when pedaling over bumps I don’t really notice the BB moving back and forth (although it is).

The Moulton feels great at high speed. Very stable and secure. I wasn’t really expecting that. I’ve had it up to about 45 mph so far.

The most notable thing about the bike is that it’s just simply a fun bike to ride. It sure feels different than a big wheeled bike. Not recumbent level different, but perhaps splitting that difference.

The suspension is quite effective. I am genuinely surprised that it more than makes up for the 28-406 Duranos pumped up to 100 psi. The Moulton rides softer than my 28-622 wheeled Spectrum (with Clement LLG tires) over the same roads. On chipseal, specifically, there is not as much difference in ride quality, but over potholes, manhole lids and the like, the Moulton is much softer. Where I need to lighten up on the saddle on the Spectrum, I can stay fully planted on the Moulton and just ride it out. It’s way cool.

Also, in the handling department, this bike corners with notable enthusiasm. The bike seems to want to take every corner all out, with confidence. The only thing about the bike that does NOT inspire confidence in the ride is any loose gravel you might expect. The small wheels definitely do not feel as secure in those conditions.

Overall, I am really happy with the bike. Time will tell if it becomes my preferred ride or not.

I am already well on my way into doing mods and upgrades.  I just can’t leave well enough alone.  The Durano’s have been shelved in favor of some Panaracer Minit Lites.  The adjustable stem is going soon.  And I’ve discovered I don’t like compact bars and some Noodles are in my future  (to match the Spectrum too).

Here are some pics from what I think was the 2nd or 3rd ride.

Nice color in the sunshine. Officially it’s called ‘Burgundy’ but I think of it as ‘California zinfandel’.

Parked by the Curve.

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T-A-B 200K

Sorry for the long gap between posts.  Sometimes life is more important than riding your bike.

What:  First running of the Turn A Breeze perm….

When:  Sunday, July 5th.  8 a.m.

Who (tentative):  Dan B, Steph B, Bill H, me.  Maybe E.K.

Why:  Why not?

How:  By two wheeled human powered contrivance.

If yer interested in joining us, email me a couple days ahead of time.  Don’t just show up that morning.  You have to be a RUSA member, BTW.

RUSA:  http://rusa.org/cgi-bin/permview_GF.pl?permid=2567

Random Image:

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Bear Gap in Winter

EK’s bike enjoying the view from the top of Bear Gap.

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Why Do I Do This?

My wife asks me this all the time.  Well, occasionally, at least.  I think it’s because invariably when I get home from a long ride, and I tell her how the ride went, I tend to focus on the material aspects of the ride.  How I did physically, what the weather was like, what problems I had, etc.   So, to her, it often sounds like a bunch of pointless suffering.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t an upside to the whole affair, it’s just that those upsides are harder to talk about – they are less concrete, and much more touchy-feely.  Dare I say, philosophical, or even spiritual?  And unless I feel like getting into an existential discussion, I don’t go there.

You can see it here on this blog too.  I am not dishing out a lot of deep thoughts, clearly.  But, you know, that’s not what this thing is for.  This is the modern equivalent of a diary for me, but only as it concerns the easily-relatable.  Sometimes I will read something I posted a while ago and I get a kick out of it.  That’s enough for me.  And if a few of you folks enjoy a photo or a ride report now and again, then hey, that’s all the better.  The other types of thoughts swimming around up there that I keep private, well that’s not because they are all that private, really, its mostly because I am too lazy to try to articulate them.  Articulatin’ is hard!

But still, something is compelling me to answer the question:  Why do I do this?

Because I enjoy the challenge?  Seek to test my abilities as a ‘complete’ cyclist?  Is this that whole ‘Type II fun’ thing, again?  It’s nice to look back at something I did that was hard.  Something I could have definitely failed at, but didn’t.  Is this a self-indulgent, ego-driven thing?  Sorta.  Maybe.  I’m not sure, really.  But in any case, it’s an bad explanation, because even when it’s not hard, I still find the ride rewarding.

Because I just simply enjoy riding my bike?  Well, it’s true.  I do.  BUT, I can get my ya-ya’s out in 2 or 3 hours.  I really don’t need to ride for 10+ hours.  Truth is, the physical enjoyment of simply riding starts to fade after 3 or 4 hours, more or less.  So no, that’s not really it, either.

Is it about communing with the natural world?  Yeah, it sort of is.  I, like most people, spend most of my time indoors.  Riding my bike is one of my few times to spend time outside, far afield.  Extended time.  Like all day.  That creates a different feeling than spending a few hours here and there.  Or spending all day in your back yard.   We may be on roads, but many of  them are remote.   And rando in Rothrock and Bald Eagle SPs  (that what this blog started out being about, after all) is even better.  There is a smell and feeling out there in the woods that’s somehow good for the soul.  But I could get that from hiking, or camping.  Something more civilized than riding a bike all day long.  Then getting up the next morning and doing it again….

Camaraderie?  A shared travail is always a positive thing, as it breeds goodwill.  Friends in rando are good friends indeed.  Hmmm.  Maybe this is the key.  I don’t really get this any other way.  Perhaps it is telling that I have never done a perm or brevet solo.  Not interested.

Well, perhaps it’s a combination of all of these things.  Not all of these are at work at the same time, or all on the same ride.  But collectively they provide enough motivation to get out there and do something audacious every once and a while.  And it feels right.  So I’ll keep doing it as long as I am able and willing.

Oh, as another form of explanation, this song captures a bit of the indescribable sentiment that I feel about riding my bike a long time.  Riding a bike up and over the road’s obstacles then coasting down the flipside is a little bit metaphoric for life itself, I suppose.  Is that deep?

You can do a lot in a lifetime, if you don’t burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance, but first you need endurance, first you got to last….

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Long Springtime Ride Plan #3: Gravity Hill 200K

I’ve got another 200K permanent route in the works:  Gravity Hill 200K.    So named because the route goes right by (and optionally on as a side detour) Gravity Hill.

There are a couple other points of interest too:  Blue Knob, and the Flight 93 Memorial.  The former is very much on the route  (you climb up to the summit, where the ski area is located, and then you descend down through the State Park), but the latter is about a 5 mile out-and-back side trip.

There are even a few covered bridges along the route (well about 300 feet off the route).  One is in New Baltimore, and another in New Paris, and other in Ryot  (which was burned down, but was was rebuilt).  Then there is the Dr. Knisley bridge, and the Snooks Bridge, which you will need to travel over.  Visible in this linked photo of the N. Baltimore bridge is the “Church of the Turnpike“.  Bedford county is rife with covered bridges, reportedly 14 of them.

Here is the RWGPS plot:  http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6654045

Oh, a mildly interesting snippet about Gravity Hill:

I’ll be scouting this sometime in the next month by car, and by bike by the end of spring.

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Long Springtime Ride Plan #2

I recently had my first permanent approved.  I started working on it (very casually) over a year ago.  I first mentioned it here.  I finally got my act together this late fall / early winter.

RUSA Permanent Route #2567:  http://www.rusa.org/cgi-bin/permview_GF.pl?permid=2567

RideWithGPS:  http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3710329

It’s officially named the Turn-a-Breeze 206K.  It starts in Altoona, a place name with a second syllable that sounds like tuna.  And then, at the halfway point, you find yourself in Breezewood.  So, I almost named it Tuna Breeze, but that seemed slightly too indelicate (or something) for a sensitive and serious rando crowd.  And so it became Turn-a-Breeze.  As in, you Turn a-round in Breezewood.  Well,  you sorta do anyways…

As the RUSA site ‘official’ description implies…  you start along the Allegheny Front in Altoona, and then the route takes you on a quiet and intricately scenic ramble through the rugged forests and rolling farmlands of the ridge and valley region of south-central Pennsylvania.

Translations:

quiet:  yeah, lots of the route is on farm roads; not many people or cars around.

intricately scenic:  there are lots of turns, and the route is quite pretty in most spots.

rugged forests:  there are a few Deliverance-esque locations here and there.  Nothing to get too worried about though.

ridge and valley region:  really, I personally think this is among the best places to ride in PA.  The topography is distinct and beautiful, with plenty of climbing and scenic vista opportunity, but with the ability to stick to rolling valley roads to keep some sense of humanity if you wish  to / need to (i.e. let’s keep  the climbing below 80 feet per mile, thank you very much…..).

If we ever break out of the snow, ice, and polar vortex weather mode that we seem to be in right now, I will get an inaugural ride report posted.

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