Headlight Woes

This is the time of year that my headlights get pulled out in full force. The issue is, I'm down to one headlight. I used to have three, one for each bike. Now I'm up to four bikes and down to one light. What happened? Well, I lost one. That sucks. The other one broke. The one that broke was my nicest and brightest. It was a CatEye HL-EL450 that I paid full price for last year. I hit a bump on a ride it and flew off and shattered. I've got an email into CatEye to see if I'm covered by a warranty. They want me to mail the light in to look at it. Here's hoping I get one back in working condition. I don't have an extra 50 bucks to drop on a light right now... with a baby due in three weeks!

Until then, I'll be swapping my headlight and wearing my headlamp from my camping gear. It works great, but I like to have the headlamp and a headlight, especially in the nighttime rain (like the photo above). Let's hope CatEye pulls through for me!

Get out there.


Still Soggy

We've had three days of rain in a row. That means the Redline 925 has gotten the call all week. That's okay with me. I love the single speed. Something about it speaks peace into my ears as I pedal. Perhaps it's the simplicity. I think my mind may rest a little more when I never think about shifting. Either way, it makes me okay with this wet, cold weather.

Get out there.


Thanksgiving Exploration

I'm really enjoying having the Troll. It's become a great bike to grab when I don't know exactly what to expect. That's exactly what I did on Thanksgiving day.
My first idea was to hit up the local railroad tracks. There's a rail that runs from my little town all the way near work. I used to jog on the gravel occasionally, I figured I could try it on a mountain bike. If riding on those bike gravel chunks worked, it was feasible that I could ride my commute on rails instead of road. That would be pretty cool.

Did it work? Nope. The gravel is so big and loose that your tire just buries itself without gaining momentum. I think it would work with the maximum float of a Pugsley. But the Troll was no match. I could try it with a super wide MTB tire eventually. Right now I'm running more narrow touring tires.
Without the ability to ride the tracks, I took the opportunity to explore streets I've never been on. I found a couple areas that are pretty run down.
Main Street just got a new makeover. The fresh asphalt was a nice change from my train track follies.
I ended with a couple runs through the local parks. Riding on an MTB is just a little more comforting than exploring on a road bike. I'm not sure if I could explain why. I just feel a bit more prepared when I'm turning corners without knowing what's on the other side. The Troll is perfect for rides like this.

Get out there.


Kayak Friday

Curt and I decided that hitting up the Kentucky River would be a better option for Black Friday than hitting up the retail establishments. With temps in the mid 60's we persuaded our awesome wives to let us take a few hours of paddling for ourselves.

We put in at a boat ramp in Jessamine County and paddled up stream for a bit.
Snail resting on a tree.
The road went over a creek that was entering into the river here. We got several bites on our lines but never reeled anything in. Then we had to explore what was on the other side of that darkness.
Here's Curt coming in from the other side. The echo in here was amazing.
Once we got through there wasn't much room for the boats. The creek dried up pretty quickly. It wasn't worth paddling through.
We found a bunch of campers parked along the edge of the river. I thought it might be a small campground but it seems like they actually live right here.
Later on, we found another little stream that we paddled down until it dried up. It looked like the perfect place to do a little stealth camping. It took you far off the river but ended with high cliffs on all sides. There's no way anyone would find you back there if you spent the night.
Eventually, I dry-docked and went for a walk.
It took a little maneuvering to get back there. We had to do the limbo under some trees. It can get a little wobbly in the kayak when you're in a tight spot.
This was a huge tree growing in the middle of this stream. It went up 100 feet in the air. I bet it's beautiful with color on it.
All the trees were bare. Last time I was on the river, it was fully green out. I missed paddling in the fall colors completely. But it was a great day and I'm glad I went. My arms are a little sore since it's been so long since I was in the boat. And that current today was strong. But you can't beat mid 60's in late November. Being in the kayak was a perfect way to spend the day.

Get out there.


When a Bad Idea is Good

Mondays are my day to take the boys to school. That means that I come to work on four wheels instead of two.

This past Monday was no different. I drove into work in the cold rainy weather and stared at the bike I had left over in my office, wishing I was riding... wishing it was nice out. But alas, the bike in my office was my geared Cross Check. No fenders for rain. And I had no jacket or rain gear with me.

As the day progressed, I realized the short holiday week was going to mean the pace at work would certainly be sped up. And when the pace increases, so does the stress. If you're reading this blog, you're most likely like me. The best remedy for stress is to get outside and ride.

So what was my bad idea? How about I ride home with no rain gear? How about I take this fenderless bike and just roll my pant leg up on my khakis and hit the road? How about I let the rain soak through my t-shirt onto this ol' body that's been sick for two weeks? Could the mental value be greater than the physical cost? Yes. Yes it could.

Right at five o'clock, I hopped on the bike in the rain and mashed on the pedals. I pushed it hard to stay warm in the wintry rain. I breathed hard and made it home in record time. Was it a good idea? Nope. Was it the best decision? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Being outside does so much good for me. I'm glad I made the right choice.

Get out there.


Winter Days

Today looks like a typical winter day in Kentucky. Wet and gray. I need to give the single speed some love in the garage before this winter gets here full on. Everything from brakes to bottom bracket need to be tweaked, lubed or adjusted. I'll make it happen soon enough.

In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for a sunny day. I don't mind cold. But the dreariness of winter eventually gets to me.

Get out there.


Rustic Bike Rack

Recently, I heard a great way to cover up your crappy lack of craftsmanship is to refer to something as "rustic." Apparently, being rustic is cool. So here's my rustic bike rack I made for my garage.

You guessed it. I took an old wooden pallet that someone was throwing out and modified it to hold my parked bikes in the garage. I've been leaning bikes on one another or hanging them on the wall. It's annoying when you need the bike that's got three other bikes leaned on them. And hanging your bike is a pain when you've just ridden a dozen miles in the snow. Now, I just slide the bike of choice out of the pallet and roll.

It really was simple. I just took the four slats on the back of the pallet and used them as the side supports. The center brace became the joining beam on the floor, connecting the two sides. Nothing to it. It took me about 20 minutes while entertaining three kiddos.

Not a bad solution for free. I can get four bikes on here at one time but I'll just run my three short bikes you see.

Get out there.


The Teens are Here

This morning, the windchill was 17 degrees. That's the first time the temp has gotten below 30 on a commute so far. It was fun to get out all the cold weather gear and ride. It's always enjoyable for the first few weeks of riding a new season. This is the the time of year when it's super bright in the mornings with clear skies and your breath in the air. Soon enough, it will get dreary, wet and gray. I'll soak up these rides for as long as I can get them.

Welcome, Winter. It's good to have you back.

Get out there.


Ortlieb Warranty

The good folks over at Ortlieb are replacing my pannier that blew out a couple months ago. I took the bag over to Pedal the Planet (where they were purchased) and they set me up with a new one out for delivery. The only problem is the delay. Ortlieb is shipping the bag from Germany, which means that I won't have it in my hands for a few more weeks.

Pedal the Planet was nice enough to let me take the shredded bag with me so that I could continue using it until the new one gets in. I'm not sure if I ever showed a pic of the rip. Basically, it went from the top of the taped area all the way around and across the bottom. This heavy duty tape has done a great job holding everything in, though. It's just not going to be water resistant.

Tape will have to do over the next few weeks. As the weather gets colder and colder, I'm choosing the Cross Check for efficiency's sake. I'd rather pedal the Cross Check 18mph with a taped up pannier than plod along on the Xtracycle at 13mph when there's a 20 degree windchill!

Get out there.


Bike Camping Packing

I'm terrible at packing. It doesn't matter if I'm going to Florida to stay in a condo for a week or packing my bike up to head into the woods for a few days. It's a probability that I'll end up where I'm going with no clothes for the lower half of my body or something.

So this post is, in part, to help me pack better for the next trip. This packing setup was for my overnighter on the Troll in lower 30 degree weather. This is everything but my clothes.

This, however, was the perfect gear list for this trip. Particularly in terms of food. I'll often overpack with food. Right here I had two apples, two packages of Ramen, two protein bars and coffee. I had zero food leftover. That's great for me. Food is heavy. And I tend to pack in twice as much as I need. But I think the frequency of my trips recently kept me in the know.

Here's what I have for gear...

  • 30 degree Lafuma sleeping bag stuff in an OR stuff sack
  • Kelty camping pillow (not a necessity, but it helps me sleep much better!)
  • ENO single nest hammock and straps
  • first aid kit with emergency blanket
  • MSR Pocket Rocket stove and canister 
  • headlamp
  • pot, coffee mug, plastic fork and spoon
  • cycling gloves and pump
  • toothbrush (also not necessary, but I'm just that considerate to those I huff and puff past on the bike)
Honestly, it doesn't seem like much. All this stuff fit in one pannier pretty easily. My only issue was that we were leaving in near 60 degree temps and sleeping in 30 degrees. I had to bring a lot of clothes that I would normally have on my body. My second pannier was full of clothes that I slept in that night. For that matter, I don't have the nicest cold weather gear, either. I need a lot of layers of my cheaper stuff to compensate for warmth. I'm not complaining at all. I'm thankful to have enough to keep me warm. But it does get rather bulky.

So there it is, my latest packing efforts. Hopefully, next time I'll be smart enough to look back on this entry before I scratch my head trying to figure out what to pack again.

Get out there.


The Bathroom Sink

Art Prints
This great bathroom sink was sent to me yesterday. My father-in-law is a plumber. Perhaps we'll have to install something like this in the Purvis house.

Sometimes I think we should try a little harder to include some bikey stuff in our house. Then I remember that there's plenty of that in the garage. We should probably just leave the inside alone :)

Get out there.


Stone Fences

One of the beautiful points of interest along my commute are the stone fences that line miles and miles of farmland. The fences are built with a technique called dry-stone masonry. They're basically, just situated to fit on top of one another without any mortar. From what I can tell, these fences were built around Civil War times. All the literature online says that Irish masons came over here in the "mid 19th century and passed the craft along to slaves who became master artisans." Central Kentucky has one of the largest concentration of these fences still standing. It just so happens that my route has plenty to look at.

Just another reminder of how beautiful my bike commute is.

Get out there.


Troll's First Camping Trip

After work last Friday, Jason and I headed out on the mountain bikes for a little camping. The Troll has never left the house for more than a commute to work so this was an exciting maiden voyage.
I really liked the way the Troll felt loaded down with a couple days worth of gear. It was really comfortable over the longer ride.

Jason was pulling a BOB trailer with his Giant MTB. This was the longest ride he'd ever done on a mountain bike, too. We weren't sure how it would go, but we were willing to try it out.

We camped in Frankfort in Jason's friend's back yard. It wasn't too adventurous, but it was accessible and free. The closest campground was closed for the winter to tent campers.

I slept in the hammock again. It was so cold that our bags and hammocks were covered in frost by the time we went to bed. I need to find a better solution for cold weather camping. My bag is rated at 30 degrees (it got down to 33 that night) but my feet were too cold to stay asleep. I didn't sleep well until the sun came out in the morning. In fact, I slept until 10am. I haven't slept that late in years. But I think the warmth of the sun knocked me out after being up all night.

When I finally woke up, I ate a quick breakfast and we headed over to Capitol View Park for some trail riding. This little MTB adventure was the whole reason for our choice of bikes. In hindsight, I could have brought the Cross Check and had a more well-rounded experience. But I wanted to see how the Troll felt for a longer ride. It was a good decision.

The trails were nice. We just dumped our panniers and the trailer in the woods where no one would see them. It felt good to ride unloaded for a bit, but we were cautious of straining ourselves since we had a long ride home. It was still a bit wet, too. We were riding at a much slower pace than usual.
After riding unfettered, the bikes felt heavy on the way out of the MTB park. But the ride home was so beautiful, our scenery made up for our tired legs and heavy loads.
We left Frankfort and headed to the river. We had a great ride along the river for several miles.
 No dumping sign was thwarted by some old van seats.
 An abandoned trailer.
 We got to see an old distillery that was shut down. These old buildings were really cool to look at.

The photos above show the barrel rollers that were used to transport liquor all over the distillery. These things went on and on. It was cool to see how the mechanisms would move such heavy barrels in a simple, yet intricate way.

 Parked here for a snack.
The Old Taylor Distillery Company had some beautiful old architecture. We knew that taking this route would add some climbing and mileage, but it was well worth it. It made for a great point of interest.

After the distillery, it was miles and miles of horse farms. We hit 60 degree temps and straight, flat roads. It was a great way to round out the trip.
With 14 miles to go, we stopped for some Long John Silvers. Terrible decision, but totally worth it. Everything on my plate was fried. It didn't sit well at all for those remaining miles. But it tasted so good after all that pedal mashing :)

Get out there.