Experimental music, photography, and adventures

A very rainy ride

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Before I talk about my actual ride, I want to talk about some bike stuff. If you don’t want to read it, just skip down to “The Ride” section below.

As I mentioned previously, my front Velo Orange fender developed a crack recently. Fortunately, it was within the one-year warranty, they said they would replace it if I sent in my broken fender. I had a hard time finding an appropriately-sized box, so it took a while for me to send the old fender back to them.

I also placed an order for a fork crown daruma (a different type of mounting bolt for the fender) and a shorter stem for the Trucker. I let them know I was going to do so, and they shipped the replacement fender and the other items all together. They sent the items out immediately, and I got them two days later. Nice service from Velo Orange.

It took a while to install the replacement fender, and although they sent me all new mounting hardware, I reused some of the old hardware. Mainly, I didn’t want to have to cut the new stay, so I just used the old one. The daruma bolt works much better than the L bracket I had before. I had to settle for a fender line that’s a little less than perfect, but it’s close. It’s worth it though, the fender is definitely more solid than it was before. We’ll see if the fender holds up better this way; I think it will.

The new stem is nice too: silvery and with a subtle V O on it. I may have gone too short with the stem. Or I may just have to adjust to this one, I’m not sure yet. I went from 100 mm to 80 mm, thinking 1 cm didn’t seem like much difference. Now I think 90 mm may have been just right.

The Ride

Yesterday, I set out on what will probably be my last longish ride here in Pennsylvania. Given that, I thought it would be fun to ride in familiar areas, but explore some new roads in the process. I had planned out a route a week or two ago that I never got to ride. The forecast called for a 30% chance of scattered storms, but the radar looked clear. I don’t often ride in rain, at least not intentionally, but I figured it either wouldn’t rain, or I might hit a patch of rain that wouldn’t last long. Here is the route I rode.


View Center Moreland, alternate roads 08/23/2009 in a larger map

Center Moreland elevation profile

I headed out, and made the long climb up Bunker Hill Road. Sometimes I settle into a groove and enjoy the climb, but that didn’t really happen. I think I just haven’t ridden enough lately. As a result, I’m not in top form, and I’ve gained some weight. It wasn’t too hot, but it the humidity was extremely high; I was uncomfortable.

However, eventually, I made it to the top and then enjoyed the descent down the back of the mountain. It was fun, but short-lived, and then I had more climbing to do on Manor Road.

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Then I took Wyoming Road over to Ransom Road and then Ryman, thereby avoiding the tough climb on Krispen Road. I still had climbing to do, but it wasn’t as bad. During this time I saw some golden hillsides, a rafter of turkeys, and a pig grazing in someone’s front yard. As I turned a corner, a Great Blue Heron startled me by swooping up out of a marshy area that was hidden behind some brush.

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I spent a while on Ryman Road, a very enjoyable gravel road with nice scenery and no traffic, and some decent ups and downs (but nothing too strenuous).

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I came across an fascinating, beautiful, gnarly iron gate.

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The Stewart Iron Works, Cincinnati, Ohio (now apparently in Covington, KY)

I reached Lake Catalpa Road. The road turned paved and the skies grew increasingly ominous. This road is a lot of fun, some great descending with a lot of twists and turns along the way.

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Somewhere along here, the rain started. It rained gently at first but it quickly picked up the pace. I turned onto the gravel Nesbitt Road and was at the base of a big climb when the rain turned into a deluge. It was raining so hard that I could barely see, from the raindrops that were falling and from the water on my glasses. I had notions of waiting it out and tried to see if a tree would shield me from the rain, but it was just coming down too hard.

I waited a few minutes and it was clear that the rain was not going to let up any time soon. I got back on the bike and resumed the slog up the hill. By this point, water was running down the hill toward me in the tire ruts and forming lots of puddles. This would have been a difficult climb without the rain but it was even harder now. It took a while, but eventually the grade let up and I was able to spin at a higher cadence. It wasn’t so bad now, I had to try to avoid puddles since I couldn’t tell how deep they were, but at least the road was more ridable now.

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I reached Levitt Hill Road and the riding got a bit easier. There was a little more climbing but then it was downhill for a while, and the road spit me out of the heavily wooded area into a more open area with views of some fields and mountains. But it was still raining hard and now rather foggy and it was hard to see much. It was a beautiful scene. I took more photos than I probably should have and the lens cover got wet and refused to open or close properly without my assistance.

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Soon Levitt Hill Road unceremoniously spit me out in Center Moreland, the halfway point for my ride, and a frequent refueling stop. I planned to get some water and gatorade, and maybe a snack. Unfortunately, the convenience store was closed. They had a vending machine but it didn’t have any water. I ended up trying Ginger Ale as riding fuel, and it didn’t work too badly at all. I had an energy bar so I ate that. I stood under the awning for a few minutes. There was no chance of drying out, but it felt good to be out of the rain for a few minutes. I called my wife to let her know everything was going fine, knowing she was probably worried about me being out in the rain. I hoped hearing from me would make her worry less, but I think I made it worse.

After a bit I decided I should hit the road again, and I felt surprisingly refreshed. It was still raining, but it had let up a little bit. Enough so that my glasses weren’t getting too much more water on them. Truthfully I was really enjoying riding in the rain. It was the first time I haven’t felt hot during a ride for some time. I had to be extra careful about traction, but my tires handled the situation well.

My route had me taking a slight detour further north before truly heading home. I enjoyed Ripple Brook Road quite a bit. It had a rough surface but it was just beautiful, with a couple of ponds, some fields and some other pleasant scenery.

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I crossed PA Route 292 (this would’ve been the more direct route from Center Moreland) and got on Village Road / Cider Run Road, and the scenery just kept getting better. I had a hell of a climb, but it was wide open on my right so there were some wonderful views.

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The rain was light at this point, but I was really glad that I got the new fender installed before this ride. Water was running out the bottom of it most of the time. That would’ve been all over me, without the fender. I could probably use a mudflap for insanely wet days like this, but I was drenched anyway so I didn’t really care.

Once I reached the top, it was mostly downhill for a couple of miles. I couldn’t exactly let loose and ride fast, given the slippery, wet roads, but it was still quite enjoyable.

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Unfortunately, I had a long climb ahead of me on School House Road. This wasn’t a fun one at all, it was 500 feet of climbing and quite steep for a while. There weren’t even many turns, it was just a long, straight, grueling climb. It had stopped raining and the sun was starting to come out. Normally this would be a good thing, but having it warm up during a tough climb wasn’t particularly helpful. There were some nice views, but only when I stopped to look back down at where I came from.

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Eventually I reached the top. By now it was sunny,  and the road was flat very briefly before turning down steeply toward 8th Street.

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I took 8th Street down to the valley where I live. I had basically five miles of descending ahead of me. Normally you can reach 40+ mph on this road, but with the rain, I don’t think I passed 30. That was fine; I was in no hurry and it was great just to let gravity do the work for a few miles. Once I reached the bottom, it was a flat 6-mile ride home with just one climb.

This was an absolutely wonderful ride. Some of the most fun I’ve had riding in the rain, and it’s a good reminder that I even though I don’t often start a ride if it’s raining, I do enjoy riding in the rain, so long as it isn’t too cold. I should ride in the rain more often.

I also thought it was fitting that my last long ride here gave me a new appreciation for riding in the rain — something I can take back to Indiana with me.

6 Responses to “A very rainy ride”

  1. Jon Grinder Says:

    I love riding in the rain. We don’t get that many “rainy days” in Colorado, mostly quick, heavy thunderstorms. All my friends have come to expect me to be out on the bike on weekend days when the rain is forecasted for all day.

  2. Bill Lambert Says:

    You have some outstanding photos there. I’m going to miss NE Pennsylvania after you move back to Indiana, but am looking forward to your photos of Bloomington area.

  3. Chris Says:

    That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Nice ride. Nice report.

  4. Tim Says:

    great woodsy pic on Levitt Rd. Hope the return transition goes well, and we’ll be in touch to get an IN ride in.

  5. mike Says:

    Nice images again. You have an eye. I love a summer rain ride. Love it.

    Spring and fall – depends on the temps.

  6. Doug Says:

    Some of my favorite rides (and hikes) have been in the rain.

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