Brent Cohrs eloquently sums up my feelings on Autumn

Normally, I like to speak for myself, but sometimes, you come across someone else's prose that just says it so much better. That's what I've got here in this piece by Brent Cohrs on

In the post, Brent mentions that his posts have been decreasing as the season ends, due to his getting out and enjoying the good days left. Meanwhile, I'm riding less and writing more, and thoroughly unhappy about it.

I need to prioritize my time, write when the weather is bad (like it was for most of this past week) and ride when the weather is good. Instead, I spent the one good day we had this week cramped up in my room, fingers tediously tapping away. I'm glad that I was able to produce a lot of great content for the site, but my heart's not happy unless I'm sitting in the saddle.

The rest of Brent's post is a great read; he makes the crisp, chilly air sound almost pleasant. That could be just enough to get me out on the road. My aim is to take a few days this week and just ride, whether it's cold, hot or whatever. Especially with the 50k coming up on Saturday, it's important that I do this. Dress in layers, ride hard. There's only one week left.
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Meetin' and greetin' at NEPA BlogCon 2012

This is a bike blog, in case you haven't noticed. Yes, it started out as just a personal training log, but I wanted to make it so much more! As such, I've been flexing my blogging muscles, trying to network with other bloggers and hopefully meet a few other geeky bicycle enthusiasts. Yesterday at the NEPABlogCon seemed like a perfect opportunity for just that.

Some of the first folks I ran into were some old friends of mine, Mark Hunsinger and Leslie Stewart from
Blue Owl Web, DarlingStewie and a host of others. I've known Leslie since at least 2003 -- which was at least 4 or 5 blogs ago. (I've been blogging, and failing at blogging, for a long time!) Leslie is also part of the "Fearsome Foursome," who got NEPABlogCon off the ground.

Once I grabbed a swag bag and headed through the door, I saw another friend of mine, Jason Percival, owner of NEPA Geeks. (If you need an iPhone repaired, or any other kind of tech work done, this is definitely the cat to see.) Unfortunately, he couldn't stay the whole day, but it was great just to see him again.
I was glad to see a few other familiar faces, but also glad to meet some new ones.

As you can tell by the lack of photos on this post, I did a real bang up job of not taking pictures, so I'm linking to photos other people took, like this one from Mandy Boyle:

Blergh Kern
Great shot, Mandy! Another member of the "Fearsome Foursome."

Moving right along, but not so footloose and fancy free, we gathered in the Bloggy Boudoir for the keynote, presented by Gala Darling. Following that was a Q&A with Gala from New York, via Skype. Of course, the Skype call started out as an excellent re-enactment of every Skype call ever -- basically, technical difficulties, a lot of, "Can you hear me nows?" and then just typing questions for her to answer live. At least we could see and hear her without any problems.

For the most part, I just stuck with the panels that I was interested in. Anything that had to do with monetizing blogs, building an audience or SEO and keyword stuff, I wanted to know about. Search Engine Optimization is one of those things I feel like I read about the most, yet understand the least.

If I got any lessons out of this convention, though, it was to stop worrying about that stuff and focus on creating content and writing about topics I'm passionate about. So, more or less, blogging and bicycles, bicycles and blogging. That's me.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet too many people in my niche (that niche being, people who ride bicycles either on the roads or trails of North-East Pennsylvania). But there were a few who were closely related. For example, Glenn Kipps who runs seems like he would have some good ideas for people who are interested in cheap campsites. Say, people on a cross-country bike trip, for example.

Then there's Alicia Magda who has a blog at and told us quite a bit about SEO in her presentation at BlogCon. Probably the best thing about this panel was getting answers to questions I've wondered about for a long time. Not only that, it was wonderful to look around and see a room full of people who worry and fret about this stuff as much as I do. It was great to know that I'm not the only person who stays up until the wee hours of the morning, poring over search results, keywords and other stats to gain some kind of insight into how people find my site and the best ways to take advantage of that.

Despite the difference in our activities, her blog is definitely worth adding to your RSS feed reader, especially for posts like this one on Top Foods for Runners. Plenty of advice and motivational posts to be found, as well.

Our lunch was made very interesting by a group of geek bellydancers called Antipode dancing to various internet memes.
antipode geek belly dancers
Antipode - geek belly dancers.
Of course I got a picture of that.
Pictures of friends and colleagues? Nope. Pictures of women with bare midriffs? Totes, for sure.

Probably the panel I gleamed the most information from was one on content strategy that was presented by Shannon Nelson from and Jessie Holeva from
They focused on the importance of organizing content, finding topics to write about, getting people to link to you and quite a few other nuggets of wisdom that really got the gears cranking. Talking about ways to generate new ideas and how to make them happen is one of the best ways I've found to get inspired and keep motivated. It was a great panel.

Lauren O'Nizzle from had a fun panel on community management, including a sad story about her bicycle that someone, apparently, tried kicking to death and bent the wheel. Kids, don't kick people's bikes to death. That's seriously uncool, ok?

Finally, Kris Jones, founder and former CEO of Pepperjam had a lot of great information on how to monetize a blog, and then I was on my way home.

Part of me really wanted to attend the after-party, but my head was buzzing with so many ideas that I just couldn't wait to get home and put some plans into motion. Again, I wish I could have met more people in my niche (even if just to organize some group rides) but it was such a great experience just to be there.

Thanks again to Leslie for telling me about the contest that won me a ticket to NEPA BlogCon and to everyone else who helped make it happen. See you all next year!
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Crossing the double yellow line - gimme 4 feet!

Did you know that, in Pennsylvania, drivers must give cyclists 4 feet of space when passing? Neither did I, until a few days ago.
This is exactly the kind of situation I'd like to avoid. Image source

I'd read that in some states, 3 feet of space is the rule. That sounded like a good idea to me, as I've had some pretty close calls, and I wondered if Pennsylvania would ever get a similar law. Imagine my surprise to find out that we already did; 
it went into effect on April 2, 2012. In fact, we even get an extra foot in the deal. Here's an educational video to tell you all about it.

Ok, did you watch the video? Did you? Riveting stuff, I know. I just wish I could have hauled out a film projector, loaded the reels and found a really uncomfortable desk/chair-hybrid thing to sit in to complete the effect. Maybe even throw in some jittering frames, film grain and the always classic, "film gets jammed and starts to melt" effect to make it real. 'Cause I'm all about keepin' it real.

So, a couple of things blew my mind while I was reading up on all of this, like the fact that it's totally ok for drivers to cross the double yellow line in order to fulfill the requirements of the 4-foot rule. That's something that even California's Governor Brown doesn't like too much. But then there's the bit about "taking the lane."

I try to avoid unpleasant conversations, and it seems like pretending I'm a car by riding in the middle of the lane is the first step towards having an unpleasant conversation. However, as I've learned, I'm not pretending to be a car when I do so, I'm simply exercising my right to the road, same as any other vehicle. (think: large load vehicles, tractors/farm equipment, horse-drawn carriages, etc.) Of course, cyclists are still required to avoid becoming an impediment to traffic, which means getting over to the right as far as they can safely go. Just because a driver must give us 4 feet of space doesn't mean we get to be dicks about it.

It seems weird, but it's safer. Riding in the lane keeps cyclists visible to drivers, and it keeps us away from some of the fun stuff we're bound to find on the side of the road that could damage our tires and put us in a world of hurt. And, again, drivers are encouraged to go around us to give us 4 feet of space -- even if that means crossing the double yellow line.
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Recent bike theft from home in West Scranton leaves owner "rattled"

I just learned that a friend of mine from Scranton, PA, Chris Hughes, had his bike stolen very recently. It's a deep blue Haro mountain bike that can be identified by a sticker from the band "The Offspring" stuck to the center cross bar. Also, the back brake was disconnected due to rubbing against the wheel rim, so be on the lookout if you see anything matching that description in West Scranton.

Stolen bikes are an unfortunate reality that many of us must face at some point in our lives. While the bike thief might see it as a way to score a free ride, or a quick way to make a few bucks, the heartbreak of losing your favorite bicycle goes beyond monetary value. However, even the pain of loss that comes with having your bike stolen off the street is nothing compared to feeling of violation when a bike is stolen from your home.

"It is worse," Chris said when I spoke with him via Facebook Messenger. "The safety and security of my home where I'm trying to raise a family was violated by someone who felt entitled to something I've owned for more than half of my life. It rattles you."

"The bike was stored in a shed in my backyard in West Scranton. I noticed it was gone Wednesday morning as I was walking my daughter to school. Something didn't look right about the shed and the way the contents sat inside. I came back after dropping her off at school and quickly realized that my bike had been taken. As frustrated as I am, I'm thankful my kids' bikes were not taken with it."

While it's likely that the bike was taken Tuesday night, anytime between September 23 and 26 is a possibility.

"It would be tough for anyone to get in and out unnoticed. My wife is home during the day, and I usually don't get to bed until 11:30 p.m. Also, my shed doors are incredibly noisy, so we should have heard it. This would have had to have been pretty well calculated, whenever it happened."

Chris then did what anyone would do, he went to the police to report it.

"Police were helpful, but I also understand that cops in Scranton are dealing with much more than my stolen bicycle. Some have struggled with their income being affected this year (if police work is their only source of income) due to Scranton's money troubles and other issues. The officer I spoke with today took down all of the details I had to offer, but I did not have a serial number to give to them."

Finally, just a personal, precautionary note from me to anyone reading this. Take few moments to shoot good photos of your bike and write down the serial number. (see image below for likely places where it will be imprinted on the frame.) If stolen, this information will help you to retrieve your bike from authorities if found. 
5 likely places for your bike's serial number. Source
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Should cyclists receive points on a license for traffic violations?

Friday September 9th: bicycle ticket on a terror alert weekend
Source: @jfluck's flickr
His crime was not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk, a violation that carries a $130 fine. The fine itself seems harsh enough, but then you consider the addition of three points on his license and things go a bit screwy.

Of course, it's just a technicality -- a clerical error, as the article explains. Points aren't supposed to occur on a license for violations on a bicycle. The problem is that the DMV's computers make no distinction between a car and a bicycle -- they simply see a traffic violation, pull up the license and act accordingly. It comes down to whether or not the law enforcement officers understand the law correctly. Therefore, it seems likely that the man will either be found not guilty, or the wheels of justice will see that he is fined, and nothing more.

The whole episode elicits some very fine questions, though. Here in Pennsylvania, bicycles are considered vehicles and are entitled to full use of public roadways. We have some leeway when it comes to where we can ride, but it's still illegal to blow stop signs and traffic lights. But should a cyclist receive points on their license for violating traffic laws? And considering the number of people who don't have a license, should a license be required to operate a bicycle?

Furthermore, what would be the age at which a license is required? How much would it cost to get and renew a license? Would requiring a license increase, or decrease, the number of people who choose to ride bicycles? What would be the benefits versus the costs of putting such a system in place?

Somehow, I just don't see requiring licenses to operate a bicycle as being a very good idea. That is, unless the fines and licensing costs were to go towards improving infrastructure, adding bicycle lanes and educating riders and drivers on how to properly share the road. There's definitely a lot to consider.
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Why so serious?

Horsing around on a bike. Source
It was about 10 years ago that I was sitting on my bike at an intersection, waiting for traffic to clear. As I waited, someone drove past and threw an open beer can at me. The beer was dripping off my bike and soaking through my shirt as I looked down at the can and recognized the cheap American brand. I thought to myself, "At least they didn't waste a good brew."

I bring it up from time-to-time as one of those, "Cyclists don't get no respect!" stories, but I also bring it up because it gets a laugh.

I love telling the story because it's just one of those things that seems so ridiculous that it can't be true. And yet, here's a story about a Butler, PA woman who threw a 30-pack of beer out of the second-floor window of her house at police. And the cops weren't even riding bikes. So, yeah, stuff like this actually does happen. But the whole point is, I don't take it personally. Haters gonna hate, and all that.

I ride because it's fun. I get an intense workout that keeps me in shape and it gives me a chance to indulge my sense of adventure. Meanwhile, I measure my performance because I am pretty competitive. I like to go fast, and I love when I can pass another rider, or go further than they can. It just feels great. But I also understand that I'm not going to be setting any records or getting picked up for a sponsorship to race professionally any time soon. So, I don't take myself very seriously and just ride for fun. And, yes, I do wear lycra.

My writing, likewise, is meant to be fun. This is why, for the past few days, I've had a blog post up that I'm not too particularly proud of. I think about taking it down, but then I read it again, get a nice chuckle out of it and decide to leave it be. I don't know what to do with it.

I want to be a credible source of information, but if I'm not having fun, then what's the point? Life is hard. Why make it harder by never taking time out to go crazy and do something ridiculous? I'm not suggesting anyone go driving around, throwing beer cans at people, but try not to take it personally if it ever happens to you. Drivers shout, pedestrians get upset... whatever. Just enjoy the ride.
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What I eat to help me ride 50 miles

Stopping for a mid-ride meal at 25 miles.
Yesterday I
got a little nuts. Seizing the opportunity to push myself even farther than ever before, I rode for 50 miles. Trip time: 4 hours and 14 minutes.

It's amazing to think that, only a few weeks ago, 30 miles seemed so long. I remember charting those first few rides and getting giddy at the idea of riding so far. Now, I don't think twice about it. 30 miles seems like a cakewalk.

One of the biggest differences in determining how far I could go was to change my eating habits while on the bike. For my first few rides, I didn't eat anything while on the bike. Re-reading this post from August 20, is it any wonder I wound up in so much pain? Lessons were definitely learned.

Since that time, I've wondered, "What should I eat during a long bike ride?" I read a number of articles on the subject, like this article that states: "The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise."
The article is actually warning against over-eating, but it provides a good minimum to prevent under-eating, as well. I've since stocked up on several bars that I like to eat while riding, and it's definitely helped me go the distance.

One food I like, in particular, is Kashi's Honey Almond Flax.

I open a packet, stick it in my pocket and nibble off a quarter of a bar every 15 minutes. Depending on which route I take, that time interval is usually right after I go over some big hill, so I need to replenish the energy dished out to get me over the top.

Another favorite is Nature Valley's Oats & Honey bars.
Here, it's the same thing. Open a packet, stick it in a pocket for quick retrieval and munch on it while pedaling. There are 2 bars per packet and both need to be consumed within the hour to get the full 29 grams of carbohydrates.

Going back to the article, it's suggested that an athlete eats at least 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, so I also pack along a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat mid-ride while taking a short break and sipping on a sports drink. There's also a water fountain conveniently located at the Rockport Road trailhead access in the Lehigh Valley Gorge, so I make sure I refill with water before heading back home.

The before and after meals are also very important. I like to fuel up with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grain cereals before I head out. It helps get me off to a good start. Meanwhile, a post-ride recovery meal of carbs and protein helps get me back on my feet. I haven't had a situation like this one in several weeks, and it's because I became a lot smarter about what I'm eating while riding.

I wrote this post not as a warning or a suggestion, but merely to highlight some of the steps I've taken to keep myself healthy, and it's worked so far. Comments, criticisms and suggestions are very welcome.
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The Amazing iOS 6 Maps is Amazing bad

ios 6
The most advanced iOS ever. Until the next one.
I know, I know... you're sick and tired of hearing about iPhones and iOSes and 5s and 6s and on and on. I'm sick of it, too. But because I'm a gadget freak and I heavily rely on my iPhone while on my various treks, I figured this was a relevant topic to take on.

I've been fooling around with iOS 6 for nearly 24 hours. For some reason, iTunes got fussy (what a surprise) and didn't want to download the update, so I updated the iPhone directly, "
over the air."

Because I don't want the least most advanced iOS ever, I was standing on my head, having kittens while waiting for iOS 6 to go live. The install went perfectly, except that it was the slowest update in the history of ever. I figured, maybe it was slow because of the umpty million other Apple fanboys, all downloading the update at the same time. But then the installation process -- the bit that doesn't rely on an internet connection -- dragged out for a hundred years, hitting 99% and then just sitting there, like an expensive tub of glass and aluminuminumin (that's the UK spelling) lard.

Here's how I felt, watching my iPhone update itself:

After 15 minutes of shivering in anticipation, I actually buggered off and did something productive (shocking!) Another 45 minutes later, and we were rolling. Woo hoo!

Approximately 10 minutes after that, I was bored again. Also, not happy.

Google Maps on iPhone was a hot mess. Without turn-by-turn voice navigation, it was completely useless to me. Even trying to map out bike routes while out and about was a hit or miss proposition. The idea that Apple was making its own Maps app, and that it would have turn-by-turn voice navigation, was making me squee with joy. Unfortunately, I have an iPhone 4 -- minus the S.

iPhone 4 -- minus the S -- doesn't get turn-by-turn voice navigation because Apple arbitrarily decided that it shouldn't. Those bastards. The only feature I liked on my Droid X was Google Maps -- a pre-loaded app that came for free and worked astonishingly well. Google Maps may have been terrible on iPhone, but it was my favorite part of Android. Meanwhile, years and years later, Apple still can't get it right, even when they make their own amazing iOS 6 Maps.

the amazing ios 6 maps fail
iOS 6 Maps is amazing.
the amazing ios 6 maps fail theamazingios6maps
Oh, it really is just so amazing.
the amazing ios 6 maps fail theamazingios6maps
Amazingly, insanely great.
And there's your daily dose of schadenfreude, just in case you also have an iPhone 4 -- minus the S -- or older.

For those who often find themselves lost in the middle of nowhere, or those who are trying to get lost in the middle of nowhere, having a decent GPS can be a life saver. I'm sure Maps will only get better, as time goes on; you can't expect every new thing to be perfect. Until then, there are plenty of other, better options available on the app store. Just remember, in the words of Louis C.K., "The shittiest cell phone in the world is a miracle!"
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New Connector Links Up Pine Creek Rail Trail and Downtown Jersey Shore

Here's some great news for cyclists and hikers in Jersey Shore (no, not that Jersey Shore, the one in Pennsylvania!)
WNEP's Jim Hamill has the skinny:
Image source: WNEP 
Thousands of people use the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Lycoming County every year. Now the trail is connected to downtown Jersey Shore. 
The community is banking on the rail-trail connector to bring tourists into the downtown.
The hope is the more tourists, the more need for small businesses where bikers, hikers and the like can eat and shop and stay.

The connector looks to be a 1.5 mile paved strip that runs from downtown to the trail itself. I've never been on the Pine Creek Rail Trail, but according to
...the Pine Creek Trail in Pine Creek Gorge offers travelers a spectacular 62-mile journey through the area commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. With numerous trailheads, comfort stations, campgrounds and small towns along the route, the well-maintained trail is ideal for an afternoon excursion or a longer trek. The trail is crushed limestone but is suitable for most bike tires.
62 miles of well-maintained trail? I would love to go banging down that! Sounds like the perfect opportunity for someone who wants to ride a 100K without going in circles and dodging cars. Also sounds like a great place to set up a bike shop/bike rental fleet.
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NEPA BlogCon - A winner is me!

Hell yeah.
I knew I was in for something good when I noticed that my email inbox had been stuffed with glitter. It was the telltale sign that
Darling Stewie had been there and was informing me that I'd won a ticket to the NEPA BlogCon.

What the hell is NEPA BlogCon? From the site:
NEPA BlogCon is a day-long, not-for-profit blogging conference that benefits The Arc of Luzerne County and the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance.
The shindig takes place Saturday, September 29, 2012 at the Luzerne County Community College campus building number 7 in Nanticoke, PA. (That's LCCCCCCCCBN7N,PA, for short.)

So, that's it, basically. It is a thing, and I'm getting in for free because a drawed a kitty.

Say what?

Some time ago, Darling Stewie announced a contest whereby entrants could win a ticket to the convention by drawing a cat -- because cats are the true currency of the internet.
I put my meager art skills to the test and came up with this:
Yeah, it's terrible, and I wish I would have been a little more creative, especially when you see some of the other entrants. What can I say?

So, I'm definitely going to NEPA BlogCon this year and I'm hoping to meet some other bike bloggers there!
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How to make your bike look like a TRON light-cycle

We're currently experiencing torrential downpours in a bout of super colossal crap weather, today. It's making me even happier that I went out for a ride yesterday instead of sitting at home, doing boring junk -- like working -- which is what I'm doing today. In between rounds of boring junk, however, I tend to hit up various blogs to see what's going on in the world.

Today, via Prismatic, I stumbled across this gem on

This video is demonstrating the XFire Bike Lane, a safety light that attaches to a bike and uses lasers to highlight a personal bike lane, making cyclists more visible to drivers at night. The gadget is currently awaiting a patent and FDA approval. ...because I guess you might want to eat it? I don't know why it needs FDA approval. Is it because of the frikkin' laser beams? Regardless, it's a pretty sweet idea.

In addition, the XFire also just happens to make you look like you're in TRON, riding on a light-cycle! Maybe that's kind of dorky. Or, maybe that's just so awesome that it completes an orbit and loops right back around to dorky. Either way, it should definitely help drivers see you and give plenty of room when passing. Or, more likely, you'll be easier to hit with half-empty beer cans and yelled at to get off the road. But at least they'll see you, and that's the important thing.

My favorite part in the video is when two cyclists can be seen riding side-by-side with XFires, if only because it answered the question, "What happens when they cross the streams?" Unfortunately, nothing happens. For a moment, however, the two cyclists do meet on an even keel and revel in their collective nerdery. "We've got frikkin' laser beams on our bikes!" And you know you want one, too.
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Another Perfect Day

This is where I ate my sammich today. Jealous?
Much like Friday, today was another perfect day for a ride. As such, I decided to push it a little harder than usual.

First of all, if I'm going to go, I'm going to go hard. Otherwise, what would be the point? Even if I were going on a leisurely ride, it would be a hardcore leisurely. Why? Because I have other things I could be doing, like cleaning out my DVR by getting caught up on Honey Boo Boo episodes. I'm not out here to waste time. It's not fair to drivers who have to go around me, and it's not fair to myself for skipping work. Besides, I mean, Honey Boo Boo. With that much motivation-crippling distraction available at my fingertips, of course I'm going to stay in the saddle as long as possible. Sometimes, you have to save yourself from yourself. I think Dr. Drew said that once, I'm not sure.

So, results time. Just how hard did I actually push it? According to the computer, I travelled 42.7 miles for a total trip time of 3 hours and 37 minutes at an average of 11.8 mph. I like that number. I like it a lot. I like it especially because my trip on Friday took 3 hours and 32 minutes to travel 40.6 miles. That's an average of 11.4 mph. In other words, I rode farther and faster today (following the same route, plus a few extra miles on the gorge trail) than I did on Friday. That makes me happy -- much happier than I would have been sitting at home, watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
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50K and 100K Routes Updated for 2012 Flaming Foliage Ride

Received an email from Ed Pane at Serento Gardens that the 50k and 100k routes for the 2012 Flaming Foliage ride have been updated.
Updated 50K Ride Map
Updated 100K Ride Map
According to Ed, PennDOT recently tar and chipped the roads along the old routes, making them awful to ride on. The new routes go around the affected areas, which is good. I'm glad the ride organizers acted quickly to change the routes and didn't decide to just make us tough it out.

If you've never had the displeasure of riding on chip seal, allow me to break it down for you. Chip seal is extremely rough to ride on. You'd think it would be about the same as riding on a well groomed trail, but it's not. It's very hard and unforgiving, whereas a gravel trail tends to offer a softer ride.

It also slows you down and makes it hard to keep pace. Ever have one of those dreams where you're running as hard as you can, but just can't move forward? That's exactly what it feels like. Then the rocks stick to your tires and slowly dig in, until you end up with something like this. Oh, it's fun stuff, and I don't think it's a coincidence that I rode across chip seal and then had a blowout on my very next ride. There's a reason I don't use the Quakake Road past Weatherly anymore.

Chip seal is awful; I hate it. Rather than attempt to fix a road properly, someone decided to save money by pouring tar all over it and stuffing holes and cracks with millions of sharp, tiny rocks. It's a half-assed solution that doesn't fix the problem, it makes the existing problem worse.

Again, big thanks to Ed Pane and the ride organizers for helping us avoid this mess.
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Walz Cycling Caps look too good to keep under your helmet

Earlier today, I stumbled upon Walz Cycling Caps, an outfit out of Vista, CA that makes cycling caps in a variety of styles and functions.

From the site:
Walz Caps creates cycling caps that are made from durable, comfortable fabrics. Our cycling caps are stylish and functional and work well both on and off the bike. Walz Caps are individually made in the United States, which ensures that each Walz cycling cap is of the finest quality.
I want one. In fact, I want TWO.

This is a 3-panel model made with moisture wicking material, and probably the one I'm most interested in. Of course, the dark color might make it a bit warm in the sun, but the moisture-wicking should keep you feeling dry. It fits under a bike helmet, or so I'm told; the pictures on the site certainly make it look comfortable while worn under a helmet.
$19.99 regularly, $24.99 with personalizing embroidered text.

For cooler temperatures, this woolen, plaid version features ear flaps. As Fall weather encroaches, I wouldn't mind stuffing my noggin into one of these. Unfortunately, they do cost a little more than the other models. $32.99 regular, $37.99 with custom embroidery.

Walz also offers cotton-blend material and headwraps in addition to the broad variety of colors and custom patterns. They all look great, and while I can't personally endorse them (I don't have one to try out) I'm not kidding when I say I'd love to own one. Especially the ear-flappy wool model!
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Riding in Reverse

There was no way I was going to resist the chance to get on two wheels, today. The weather was perfect, and the road was inviting. I simply had to heed the call...

As promised in a previous post, I rode the Lehigh Valley Gorge route in reverse -- going out Stockton Mountain Road first, then through Beaver Meadows into Weatherly, down into the gorge and then up past Eckley.

I have to say, I like the reverse route better, although it does ruin my favorite part of the ride -- flying down Buck Mountain Road, screaming through tight curves and holding on for dear life. Things are a lot different when you're sweating and panting on your way up it, instead.

One of the things I always forget to mention is the amount of wildlife I get a chance to see. Unfortunately, most of it is dead when I get to see it, like the porcupine I saw the other day. Still, though, a porcupine! I also felt really bad that I saw a dead groundhog, especially since it occurred coming up out of the gorge where people aren't supposed to be going very fast in the first place.

But today, going out Diamond Avenue towards Stockton Mountain Road, I could swear I saw a live coyote. I mean, I don't know... there's a lot of houses back there, it could have just been someone's dog that ran away, but it was grey and had a long, bushy tail. It took off as soon as it saw me, but it looked like a coyote.

Finally, into the gorge. There are picnic tables set up every mile or so as you ride through the gorge, and I knew there was one that sits in an open area with plenty of sunshine on it about 5 miles in. Sure enough, I made it to the table to sit down and eat, and I was very grateful for the sunlight. Sections of the gorge get kind of cold because the sun doesn't get through the trees very well. This section was nice and warm, though. Perfect.

My plan all along was to add another 10 miles to my route by riding into the gorge a bit. I want to increase that number slowly, until I'm able to go 60 miles, or better. I just seem to be hitting my limit at 40 miles, and that bothers me. Fortunately, I only need to do 30 miles for the 50k in October (JUST 21 DAYS LEFT!!) but even some days, that feels like too much. Today, though, even at 40 miles, I felt great.

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Fall is Definitely in the Air

Today's ride could have been better. I made it to the Lehigh Valley Gorge (15 miles) in about an hour and was feeling pretty good. But the ride back took almost twice as long, and I was definitely not feeling good by the end of it.

The reason the return trip takes longer is because the trip into the gorge is mostly downhill, so it's easier to go faster. I don't follow the same route back, I always go in a big circle, but I still have to go up just as much as I come down.

I'm curious as to what the trip would be like if I rode in the opposite direction -- going through Beaver Meadows first, then Weatherly and on into the Gorge, then riding up past Eckley. It's definitely worth a shot to find out.

I also wasn't crazy about the weather, today. It was 66 degrees, which isn't that bad until you're soaking with sweat and riding through heavily shaded, tree-covered back roads with a headwind. I wore layers and tried to stay in the sun, but it still got chilly. And before you roll your eyes, remember: I was doing this back when the mercury was hitting the mid-90s and didn't mind it one bit. Most folks were hiding in the shelter of their A/C units -- I don't even own an air conditioner. I would love to have that weather back.

I was also rather annoyed with my rear derailleur. I'm going to have to adjust it a bit before I go out again because it kept slipping gears and shifting when it should have been steady. Hopefully it just requires some cleaning and tweaking to get it to settle down.
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Jim Thorpe Ride

It's 15 miles from my house to the gorge, and since it's another 15 miles from the gorge to Jim Thorpe, I decided to put the bike on the back of my car and drive to the gorge rather than attempt a full, 60 mile round trip. I'm just not up to that level, yet.

The trip was beautiful! I saw a couple riding 4-wheeled recumbent bikes, and another couple riding a tandem bike. There were also quite a few other sites to see, like this view off the Nesquehoning Bridge:
Lehigh River Nesquehoning Bridge instagram
Shot from the Nesquehoning Bridge on the D&L Trail.
All in all, I had a great time. I even took a ride up through Jim Thorpe to see some of the shops, galleries and other sites along the way. I love Jim Thorpe.
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Weatherly Cemetery

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Come for me G'Mork! I am Atreyu!

Really hadn't anticipated meeting the servant of The Nothing while biking out of the Lehigh Valley Gorge, today.

Alright, so, maybe it's just sunlight streaming through the back of this eerie cave/rock formation, but it's got me thinking about naming my bike Artax.
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Another Ride to the Gorge

I couldn't wait to make another ride to the Lehigh Valley Gorge. I was eager to see what the river was like after the remnants of Hurricane Isaac made its way through our area. As I had expected, the Lehigh River was swollen and wild, running violently in places. The rocks where I stood a few days ago were now under water with a rushing current splashing around them.

Even the bottom steps of the staircase leading down to the bank of the river were fully submerged. What a sight it was to see! Compare the shots below to the shots I took the other day.

I rode the trail for almost a mile before heading back. I don't want to spoil whatever awaits down that path until I'm ready to take it all in. Maybe on Friday I will head out early enough to follow it to its terminus and visit Jim Thorpe. Until then, I wait. I simply cannot resist the natural charms and beauty of this place.

This area was dry only a few days ago, where I sat along the rocks and ate my lunch.
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Lehigh Valley Gorge Ride

Today, after getting a new inner tube for my front tire, I headed out to complete my mission to find the Lehigh Valley Gorge.

I followed the same route I took last time and made very good time. I was feeling strong -- even better than I di
d on Friday.
Unfortunately, after making it past Church Road -- past the scene of my front tire's blowout -- I found myself on Lehigh Gorge Drive and turned the wrong way. I even remembered thinking to myself before I left the house, "Stay to the right, and you can't miss Laurytown Road."

But, nope. I forgot and went 5 miles out of my way towards White Haven. That's when I knew something was very wrong. The route I mapped would take almost exactly 15 miles to get to the Lehigh Gorge State Park, so when I passed 15 miles on my odometer and started seeing signs for White Haven, I knew I had to turn around.

After doubling back on Lehigh Gorge Drive (adding a total of 10 miles to my 30 mile trip,) I found Laurytown Road. From there, it was just a few miles of windy turns and steep downhills to get to the park. Everything was alright. I even took pictures!

I couldn't stay long because I was burning daylight, so I took just enough time to eat my power bars and enjoy the view before heading back home. I don't have a light on my bike and I hate riding in the dark, so I had to hurry.
According to the map, the Lehigh Gorge Trail runs all the way to Jim Thorpe. That is a trip I would love to take, but it's going to have to wait for another day.
And now, pictures!

Note the red line heading North, indicating my wrong turn.

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