2015 Road Trip Report #04

Yesterday was…um…interesting is one way to put it. The day started off well with an omelet at the student dining hall, an excellent one at that, lots of coffee and a decision to head in the other direction along the Beltline this morning.

Yesterday I’d gone north once I connected to the route, today I would try heading south. As it turned out, this was both more or less impossible and a lot of fun.

Where I’d picked up the route yesterday, just east of GSU, the path heading north was lovely, the path heading south was…a dirt road behind a construction site. I started off and within a quarter mile I came to the end of the dirt track and no clue how to continue. Okay, back the other way and lets try again.

I’d seen some other folks bike up a road just bit further that what should have been the start of the trail heading south and found myself in Cabbagetown. This is a decidedly funky neighborhood and I’d love to live there if I were a resident; lots of street art, small cafes, and small residential homes of a certain age. It’s not one of the toney neighborhoods I passed through heading north, nice as they are, but rather one that has a working class character, and one would hope, price level. Honestly I’d be more comfortable there than up in the stratosphere. Enough class warfare for the moment.

Okay, as nice as Cabbagetown is, I soon discovered that I’d found the Beltline again and started off. This time it was a dirt track alongside old railroad tracks.

Beltline South

As I’m riding on 2″ tires this presented no problem and it was great to be a on a bit of ‘rails to trails’ conversion.

This state of affairs didn’t last however. The path got narrower and narrower and the tracks were harder and harder to find.

Beltline South ... where?

 

I pressed on. Soon the tracks were back but the ground where it was clear enough to ride was sandy, beach sandy. Even with my 2″ tires I found it almost impossible in places and had hike a good part of the way. ¬†Sometimes I could ride, sometimes I walked. No worries, with my new hip and after only a year I still think of it has new, walking isn’t a big issue.

Finally, however, I realized that if I kept this up I’d be at it all day. The next time the path crossed a road, I started cycling again. As luck would have it I’d been moving mostly south and just a bit east so the road I found was exactly the one I’d have chosen. Go figure.

I ended up passing by the Atlanta Cyclorama, which has nothing to do with cycling and a lot to do with the Civil War. I didn’t stop but if I’ve time on Monday I plan on getting back to it.

Again I hit Cabbagetown and as it was still early I decided I’d stop at one of the cafes for a quick cup. Big mistake.

The morning, which had been overcast, opened up with major passing thunderstorms. In seconds the roads were awash. Luckily I was under cover having hot coffee, but I did wonder if it would let up. It did, but none too quickly.

And here’s where my actual day deviated from my plan. On the way back to my dorm, probably less than a mile from my newly found coffee house, my camera dropped out my bag and hit the ground.

Toast.

Really.

Toast.

Sigh.

PIcked up the decidedly broken camera and tried to figure out what to do. Get back the room first, then decide. When I got back to the room I checked the camera just to be sure and I’d been right. Toast.

Since I’m on a rather longer trip, with more stops to come next week and beyond, I needed a camera. It turns out that downtown Atlanta isn’t the most shopping friendly place I’ve ever been and finding a new camera became an adventure.

More on that in my next post…

2015 Road Trip Report #03

Atlanta can be beautiful. Really. It can also be a bit frustrating, but hey, what place isn’t? When I awoke, a wee bit later than I’d planned, though not so bad really given I’m on vacation, I discovered that the wet weather of yesterday had passed and it looked perfect for a ride.

I had a quick breakfast of eggs and sausage at the college dorm’s dining hall and it was just fine. The coffee was hot and plentiful, and if it wasn’t freshly pulled espresso it was at least endless and real cream was available.

Watered and fed I grabbed my bike and my phone for GPS and headed out. And promptly got lost.

I was looking for a specific entrance to the Beltline and Atlanta was not cooperating. Like many places I’ve visited, and where I currently live for that matter, Atlanta doesn’t seem that interested in making sure there are street signs or visible address numbers. Add to that the fact that the Beltline isn’t actually complete, parts are really just old trail (and some rail-to-trail), it can be a little iffy.

But find it I did and the parts that are working are sumptuous. The paths are roomy and well maintained, there’s signage explaining natural features and local flora, plenty of public art, both sponsored and ad hoc as it were, and great weather above.

Here’s an example of some of the art I found along the way…

Public Art on Beltline #1

 

That face is really two installations you must line up to get just right. It’s really pretty neat. There’s a lot of stuff like this along the way.

After a couple of miles of bike path I came to a street and promptly got lost again. A bike path stretched up the street alongside a wonderful park, but I couldn’t figure out where the bike path entered the park. Big mistake. I did find it later, but not finding now led to a merry chase through the streets of Atlanta while I tried to figure out which way I was going, which was I was supposed to go, and which way I could get back.

In short I got lost as all get out and had a great time.

For the record, I’m sure locals know their way around and I’ll have better luck next time I go (because, hey!, I know at least the first bit now).

I wasn’t able to do the full loop as I would have liked, the path, when I managed to get back on it petered out as a rail-to-travel gravel bed that, frankly, was a bit more than I wanted to deal with this morning. I’m sure it would have turned back into a great path if I’d kept at it, but by this time it was time to head back as I’ve a lunch date with an old friend and don’t want to be late.

All in all I did about 15 miles and had a great morning. Yes I got lost. No, not so lost I couldn’t find my way back. It just takes time to get used to a new city and that’s okay. Getting lost is half the fun of urban exploring.

Here I am under another bit of art along the path…

Public Art on Beltline #2

 

How’d I get so skinny; okay, maybe I’m not, but compared to what I used to be…

So here I am in Atlanta, having a great time and being very grateful I have bicycle and the heath to use it.

Public Art on Beltline #3

2015 Road Trip Report #02

I’m 37,000 feet somewhere over the middle of the country winging my way to Atlanta for the first part of my summer road trip. I’ll be here through the weekend taking in a Braves game and, as I’ve discovered, biking around the city on the Beltline.

Atlanta Beltline

That looks like a blast to me.

I can’t say how much I love taking my Friday to a new city (or anywhere really). Riding a bike is one of the absolute best ways of seeing a place, either for the first time or again with new eyes.

There’s a lot to see in Atlanta, at least according to their tourist bureau’s website. Of course first things are first and I’ll be needing to check in at Georgia State University where I’ll be staying.

But for the next couple of hours I’m 37,000 feet up in the lap of luxury. I managed a first class ticket for this trip on Delta and it’s great. Basically I”ve got my own tiny little cabin.

Delta First Class Cabin

Pretty cool, eh?

It actually converts to a bed but, unfortunately, try as I might I wasn’t able to get more than an hour or so and hence, this post.

I might get another hour in before we land (around 6:30 AM), but it looks like I’m going to be a bit worse for wear today. Won’t be the first time.

 

2015 Road Trip Report #01

Yes, I’m on the road again. Or more precisely I will be on the road again soon enough and my Bike Friday NWT is coming with me. It’s going to be a very full journey and highlights include:

  • GAP/C&O bike ride – Pittsburgh to Washington DC
  • Three Major League games/stadiums in five days
    1. Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
    2. Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals
    3. Oakland A’s at New York Yankees
  • Visiting one of my best friend’s from high school

I can’t really tell you what I’m looking forward to the most. I will admit, however, that the bike ride, lasting seven days, is the centerpiece.

My friend Erich and I will be riding from Pittsburgh to Washington DC over seven days, keeping the daily distances relatively short so that we have plenty of time to explore and relax.

I’ll be riding my Bike Friday again. Indeed I’ve been riding it for the past couple of weeks to get it ready for the trip and over the weekend I packed it up so it’s ready to go. Here’s a recent image:

Bike Friday  NWT 2015

Of course it’ll have panniers and more water bottles, but that’s pretty much the look. My friend Erich gave me some new tires (and much, much more) last Xmas and now my NWT sports 2″ Schwalbe Big Apples. The NWT specs suggest 1,75″ as the maximum tire size, but I can assure you that at least this set of Big Apples fits fine.

I’m sporting the larger tires because much of this ride will be not be on pavement but on fairly well maintained trail. I’m a wee bit concerned because the BA’s don’t have any tread, but I’m not riding single track so I suspect I’ll be just fine.

I’m in good shape (and if not, it’s too darn late), weighing in at 190 pounds, a lot lighter than the 275 I weighed last year around this time. My hip replacement is doing fine and I feel stronger than ever. This will be the first long extended ride I’ve done since my operation during April of 2014. I’ve done any number of long rides, and have actually averaged over 17 miles a day combined riding and walking for all of 2015, but I haven’t strung together multiple days of long rides. Okay, not quite true. I did do a nice weekend camping trip earlier this year, but it was only three days, not seven.

We’ll see.

Stay tuned for more as I document my trip. I’d love to say I’ll have lots of photos but honestly, I tend to want to make very good images instead of snapshots and that, of course, takes time. Time I could be riding. Mind you, I’m not saying I actually do make good images, just that trying takes time.

There’s a fair bit left to do before I take to the air, but mostly it’s odds and ends…and not forgetting anything. This trip I’m actually flying first class which is a blessing. My suitcase allowance is 70 pounds instead of 50 so I’ve been able to stuff everything bike related into my Friday’s travel case. Yes! That makes it a lot easier, though I have discovered that on the train portion of my ride I’m limited to 50…uh oh, I’ll have to think of something. But hey, that’s down the road and soon, so am I!

 

 

 

More crankiness…

So the crank arrived and looked great. That left the problem of installing it, but at least I had a new crank set. Naturally enough I decided to install it as soon as I had a little time. Of course I messed it up. Well, only for a few minutes, but messed up all the same.

I should note that I have a crank pulling tool, ¬†a couple of them in fact as there was a time I couldn’t find the one I had and…well you know the rest.

The first problem, and this wasn’t my mess, was that the crank were on tight enough that I couldn’t get enough leverage to pull the cranks off the bottom bracket. The second problem, not the mess either, was that I didn’t have a vise to hold the broken crank leg so that I could get the pedal attached to it off.

Sigh.

Well it was a weekend, this was a bit over a week ago, so I took it to my LBS and they had the bits off in no time, and I might add, didn’t bother charging me. Thank you!

I then took the bike off to the nearest park and get to work putting things on.

This is were I made my mistake. Can you guess what could go wrong when putting on cranks?

Yep, I wasn’t paying attention and instead of putting the crank arms 180 degrees from each other I put them on, ahem, the same way. I had two pedals pointed in exactly the same direction. Looks interesting but, um, you simply can’t pedal that way.

Sigh.

Well I was too embarrassed to go back to the shop so I walked the bike home, pulled one side off and reattached it. I know everyone was staring at me as I walked home. Cars slowed down and stared at my pedals. People gawked.

Okay, probably no one noticed. Besides me that is.

I then went for a ride and discovered, quite pleasurably, that the new cranks worked great and the extra two teeth were not a problem either for the length of my chain or the strength of my legs.

It’s been a bit over a week and I’ve ridden the QB daily including to 30+ mile rides. Lovely. I’m quite pleased with the purchase and my LBS. I’m not quite so pleased with my own mechanical skills, though really it was my lack of attention more than my actual wrenching that caused the problem.

All in all things are great with the bike and even my stupidity didn’t even last an hour.

Here’s a pic of the results after fixing my, um, attention deficit…

New Cranks