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Category: weather

Fat vs. 29er Tires

When out for a ride this afternoon I grabbed this photo which fairly clearly shows fat bike tire prints vs. 29er tire prints. The top fat print is the Big Fat Larry that I mounted up a few days ago, and the lower one is the Larry pointed backward for increased traction while pedaling. Crossing this is some of my friend Jeremy’s tire tracks, a Specialized The Captain followed almost exactly by a WTB Nano Raptor.

This was taken in the parking lot of Shelby Township’s Whispering Woods Park while en route to meet Jeremy to ride at River Bends. Even though I was turning it still does a fair job of showing that a fatbike’s contact patch is twice as wide (or greater) than that of a typical 29er tire. From beach riding to snow, exploring soft floodplanes to checking out trail conditions in known-soft areas, it’s pretty nifty to see how many riding opportunities tires this wide open up. Sure, they is a big increase in rolling resistance, and most fatbikes are still very much rigid (read: pneumatic dampening with no suspension), but they sure are fun.

There’s a fair bit of snow in the forecast for the next couple of days. I’m really looking forward to some late afternoon (and hopefully evening, via the usual Wednesday Night Ride) excursions in the snow. Maybe this winter won’t be quite as sparse as the last, either. While I didn’t mind all the days of dirt road riding, Michigan is a great state for multiple outdoor activities. I’d rather enjoy having a nice winter for doing winter-y things.

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Finally, a Daylight Ride

Being so close to the solstice the days are getting mighty short, and finding the magic combination of daylight, decent weather, decent trail conditions, and available time has been quite difficult lately. Everything worked out right this afternoon and I was able to head out to Stony Creek for a daylight ride. The El Mariachi felt like a rocket after a few weeks of riding only the Mukluk or trainer, and it was really good to get out.

I rode one lap of the 6/12 Hour Route, then rode the paved path over to the Fitness Trails, through there, then back to the trailhead. Most of the trails were in great shape, with only a few greasy corners and uphills. Some of the two track had its normal wet spots, but it was all quite acceptable for a 50°F day in mid-December. I was able to ride comfortably wearing only summer time gloves, normal shoes and socks, a short sleeve jersey, and knickers. It wasn’t bothersomely cold until I spent ~20 minutes standing around in the parking lot talking with someone.

The photo above was taken while moving, looking southwest along Stony Creek Lake from along the gravel path which comprises the Fitness Trail route. While it’s just basic, flat, wide gravel trail I think it’s one of the most scenic parts of Stony Creek and wonderful looking year round.

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Muddy Trails Enhance OpenStreetMap Data

Part of my map making workflow that uses OpenStreetMap (OSM) data requires updating the existing data set to be as accurately as possible before exporting the data. The data that I originally loaded into OpenStreetMap for River Bends was based on GPS surveying that I did not long after some new trails were built. Thus, the (prone to error) GPS data was the most accurate data available.

When updating OSM data, one is explicitly permitted to trace Bing imagery to enhance maps. Earlier today while poking around in JOSM (which adds Bing data as a tile so it can be traced) I noticed that the latest imagery for River Bends was taken on March 11, 2012 and most of the recently built single track is now visible. Because of the particularly wet spring here in Southeast Michigan many of the trails were muddy while these photos were taken, resulting in the trails being visible dark marks on the traceable photos.

The image above demonstrates this, showing the imagery date, current OSM data (red dashed line), and the wide/dark lines are the trails themselves. By adjusting the routes to match the imagery I can radically clarify the OSM data, validating and refining routes. River Bends is due for a map update soon after some new trail construction is complete, so this means that the next map of there will be much, much more detailed and accurate. Thanks in large part to a wet, muddy March.

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…to Richmond

It’s been a while since I last rode to my parents house, so with family plans in the afternoon I set out from home just after 11am, hoping to arrive a bit after 1pm. The last time I did this ride it took me just shy of two hours and I was left very winded with sore legs. This time I beat my previous time by twenty minutes and felt like I could have pushed myself harder. Sure, I was on a different bike, in different weather, and dressed differently, but I figure all of that riding earlier this year has actually made a difference.

Here is the ride data uploaded to Strava, if you’re interested. No, I don’t have a wheel sensor on that bike, thus no cadence and GPS-only speed.

Here’s a few more photos that I took during recent rides:

· Start of the east loop at Holdridge, known as Gruber’s Grinder. This is a slow, rough, but fun ride.
· Mushrooms found somewhere along Gruber’s Grinder.
· Ducks in a park in Lake Orion while stopping near the end of a ride with Scott.

Now, back to work for a couple of weeks, then off for another two. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a bunch of autumn riding (read: hopefully cool, dry weather) in during that time.

On the last ride I was wearing typical winter riding wear and on a full suspension 29er with a knobby front tire. This time I was in typical summer jersey and bib shorts on my older Specialized Rockhopper Disc with a 29″ front wheel and two Small Block Eight tires. I doubt the suspension and clothing was responsible for 20 minutes, though.

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100 Miles, Turtle Rescue, and Rain

In preparation for Lumberjack 100, the training plan that I’d been following dictated an 8 hour ride today. Erik also had to ride today (but only for seven hours), and we ended up planning to meet at the Clarkston Road crossing of the Paint Creek Trail at 6am. This got pushed to 6:20am as I had to run back home and pick up a forgotten bottle and my shoes (two separate return trips), but eventually we were on our way.

The ride involved laps of Bald Mountain, Addison Oaks, and the Four Corners (Indian Lake, Barr, Drahner, and Lake George), which worked out well and tended to put us back in Addison Oaks right around the times that we were due to mix up more drink stuff. Due to a bit of slacking (and frequent pee breaks) and talking with Shari at Addison we ended up with almost two hours of downtime during the ride, so it was good that we started out so early.

Just after the 7 hour (moving time) mark we were near the cabins at Bald Mountain and Erik headed back towards his car while I started thinking about what I wanted to do for the next hour. With my computer saying I’d already ridden ~82 miles, I got an itch to try and go for a full 100 miles (often referred to as a century). I finished up the lap of Bald Mountain then rode back over to Addison Oaks, as mental calculations told me this should put things at just past the goal.

Despite angry looking clouds and a beautiful front passing over us this morning, we missed getting rained on. Half-way through this final lap of Addison Oaks the skies once again darkened, but this time I wasn’t so fortunate. Heavy winds gave way to drips, and by the time I got back to Bald Mountain a solid rain was falling. This lasted throughout the rest of the trail and for most of my ride back, but ended just as I reached the parking lot, which was fortunate as it made putting things away and changing much easier.

All said, this was a really good ride. I ticked off just over 100 miles, for the first time ever. While tired I still could have ridden more, as my legs were (and still are) feeling pretty good and not too much of me is sore. Reviewing the post-ride data I think I should probably have kept my heart rate a little higher to conform to the training plan requirements, but hopefully things will be fine in a couple weeks.

One odd thing from today’s ride: we kept encountering turtles, some of whom needed a bit of help. Two of them were on roads (and bound to get hit), with one having clearly fallen down a dirt embankment which it wouldn’t been been able to climb. These were relocated off into the brush in the direction they had been going. Three more were found on trails where bikes could easily hit them, but only two of these were moved as one was a basketball-sized snapping turtle (seen above). Finally — and unfortunately — there was a sixth turtle on Indian Lake Road which had already been hit.

Now that I’m home and having finished a large meal from Khom Fai I think it’s time to consider a shower and then bed. I’ve been up since ~4:05am and sleep is sounding good.

Here is the GPS plot and stats for today’s ride: link.

Here’s some photos from today’s ride:

· Erik and the snapping turtle found along the two track at Addison Oaks.
· Detail of the snapping turtle found along the two track at Addison Oaks.
· Another view of Erik and the snapping turtle sitting along the side of the two track at Addison Oaks.
· 101 miles in 08:46:10 of moving time, shown on the Garmin Edge 500. My longest ride to date.
· Gang Gai (red curry) from Khom Fai, a nice post-bike-ride meal.

If you’re interested here’s a few more photos taken during yesterday’s ride on the dunes southeast of Sleeper State Park. This was a fun ride, but I found that I couldn’t keep going in sand over ~4″ deep:

·The Mukluk on some dunes just southeast of Sleeper State Park.
·Sand along the power lines just south of Sleeper State Park. This was too loose for me to ride.
·The Mukluk leaned against an old barbed wire fence somewhere southeast of Sleeper State Park.
·Somewhere along the way I picked up a stick.
·Closer view of the large stick in the frame. It was easy to remove and basically fell out.

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Christmas Eve Paved Riding

Ever since the Macomb Orchard Trail paving was completed a couple months ago I’d been wanting to ride it to my parents house. After cancelling (due to slush) then resuming the plans later in the day I set out to do so today, managing to ride the whole distance with only one stop: a crosswalk half a mile from my house. I did the rest of the 29.38 mile treck in one go spanning a total of 1:59:53 (1:58:08 moving time), pedaling nearly the entire time, for an average speed of 14.8 MPH and average heart rate of 155 BPM.

This is an interesting route, because the first half of it (to the barn-shaped bridge over M-53 just north of 32 Mile Road) is uphill, and after that it becomes gradually rolling with nearly unnoticable (except for wondering why you are feeling slow) ups and downs. There was also a gusty wind out of the southwest, which made things a bit unpleasant at times. Still, the pavement on the path made it an overall nicer ride than when I last rode this route on Mother’s Day.

The most interesting part of this ride was how sore I was afterward. Being a flat, paved route it was easy riding, and I sitting and pedaling hard almost the entire time. This resulted in some hamstring (not sure exactly which muscle, but something right near my sit bones) cramping right after getting off the bike, to the point where squatting was extremely painful. One small dose of Ibuprofen, a warm shower, and a couple hours later and it’s better with just a little residual soreness. Due to being on trails my normal rides involve a good bit of sitting and standing up, but for this ride I had to occasionally stand on the pedals to take some weight off my sit bones and stretch a little. I think a few more rides like this would do me well.

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Rainy Ride on National Guacamole Day

Just before noon Jeremy Verbeke and I set out for a ride through River Bends and Clinton River Park Trails (CRPT). I was riding my Mukluk 2 and Jeremy was on his new Specialized Epic Comp 29er and it was an excellent day for an autumn ride; cool, cloudy, and comfortable. While out at CRPT the rain started, so we hastily made our way back to River Bends and even managed to get sleeted on for a bit while in Utica.

Even though the ride got cut a bit short, it was still a really nice day. Hard riding on the way back was enough to keep warm despite the cold water falling from the sky, and I only really started feeling uncomfortable while sitting in the wet car on the way back. A warm shower once home sorted that out, just in time to get called by work and have to start looking into a problem. Oh well…

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Doughnuts at Paint Creek Cider Mill

…just a quick photo from yesterday’s impromptu bike ride from when we stopped at Paint Creek Cider Mill and split a bag of cinnamon sugar doughnuts about 30 miles into riding. As Nick said, due to five people being present and a dozen doughnuts in the bag, a few of us had to “take one for the team” and eat three… Mmm…

Yesterday’s weather could have been a little nicer as sprinkling rain was a little was a little unpleasant at times, but otherwise it was a nice cool autumn day. I’m really looking forward to a couple months of this type of ideal riding weather.

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Bald Mountain and Addison Oaks are Wet

After work today I met up with Jon at the Clarkston Road crossing of the Paint Creek Trail to ride Bald Mountain and Addison Oaks. While Bald Mountain was a bit wet Addison was so wet that we skipped the second half (and most fun part) of the trail. Still, it was nice to get out and ride some single track, particularly something other than Stony Creek. This isn’t to imply that Stony is bad, it’s just the local go-to single track and it’s nice to have a bit of variety.

The photo above shows one of the wonderful new maps at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. The story I’d heard is that the old park manager was retiring and didn’t do much his last few years there, but when the new person took over he started making all manner of positive changes. I’m not sure how true this story is, but within the last year all of the (previously terrible and generally useless) intersection signs in the park have been removed and replaced with new, high quality maps. Kiosks like this also have been put in place, and now Bald Mountain has a nice feeling of being-cared-for to it.

Here’s two more photos from today, one of a fallen tree which someone has formed into a sketchy log pile (note the chainring marks) and the other which is impassible for a typical rider. Also, here is a GPS plot that Jon recorded of tonight’s ride. Note that heart rate is definitely not mine.

Tonight’s ride (per my bike computer) ended up at 23.66 miles, 2:03:14 moving time, for an average of 11.56 MPH, with a maximum of 26.56 MPH.

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High Winds and a Clean Garage

I went home early from work today because I was motion sick due to the swaying of the building in the high winds. I didn’t expect this to happen as I don’t normally get motion sick, but an hour after arriving at work I felt my head swimming, my stomach churning, and I was unable to think clearly. Even eating a bit of lunch didn’t help, but walking around for a bit at ground level seemed to. So, around 1pm I headed home and finished up the afternoon working remotely, which isn’t a particularly challenging thing since most of my work is remote, but instead of being 35 miles away I’m normally about 300′ away.

After getting home it took almost another four hours before I was feeling better, but after that occured I decided that it was a good day for cleaning the garage. This hadn’t been properly done in two or three years and was long overdue, so it was quite satisfying to finally wash the floor. It only took about an hour to empty the garage, sweep it, and hose it out. After letting it dry out (which was helped by the wind) I put everything back in, and now the garage floor is as clean as the basement floor. I can once again walk outside with bare feet without needing to brush then off before coming back in.

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