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Archive for January, 2010

2009 in review, personally

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

No bike content here, that’ll be a separate post.

2009 was a strange year. We spent most of the year in Pennsylvania, having moved there in October of 2008 when Sarah was offered a job there.

Her job was great, but we hated living there (really, we hated the Wilkes-Barre area, not the whole of PA). We missed our families, both of whom live in Indiana. We took a long hard look at what was important to us and we realized we belonged back in Indiana.

So, in September of 2009, we moved back home. Once we returned, we went through a lot of effort to attempt to put our lives back the way they were before the move. And, we did such a good job of it that now it almost feels like the 10 months we spent living in Pennsylvania never happened. Like a weird dream, or an extended vacation (even though our time there was largely miserable).

I also found myself unemployed at the beginning of 2009, and started my own company. That went relatively well, but ultimately I learned that I hate working for myself, at least in that way. After we moved back home, I got a more normal job, and it feels great.

So, in a way, it was a year-and-change of mis-fires: moving to Pennsylvania, starting my own company. But we learned valuable lessons about how we DON’T want to live, which in turn reinforced how we DO want to live. It was a year of taking risks, but also of taking control of our lives, and learning how to steer the ship. We oversteered a couple of times, but we managed to correct for it.

Moving back home was even risky. Sarah had to quit a good job so we could do it, and we spent a lot of our savings to make it happen. But we saw what we wanted and went for it, and I am proud to say that we did. We are now both gainfully employed and loving being here … near our families and friends. It’s great to be home.

Cold, but still rolling

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

So far both mornings this week have seen single-digit temperatures, and below-zero windchills. But I’m getting pretty good at this (again) and riding to work really hasn’t been a problem. I’m still working out exactly the right set of layers, but only making small tweaks at this point. It is a little silly how many layers I have to peel off when I arrive at work, though.

On a side note, I have long wanted studded tires, but I haven’t been able to justify the cost. Until this weekend, that is: I found a “used” pair — actually brand new, the guy bought them and realized they wouldn’t work with his tubeless mountain bike setup, so they had never even been ridden. He was selling the pair for $70 (each tire normally goes for about $55) so I snatched them up. They’re Nokian Mount & Ground tires, 26×1.9″. So far I’ve only mounted the front tire, and we don’t have ice at the moment, so I will have to wait to formulate an opinion.

I will say that to the front tire actually rolls BETTER than the old, crummy, knobby tire I had on there before. These Mount & Grounds have less-aggressive knobs and are a little narrower. The carbide studs make a pretty unpleasant noise as I ride, but I think it’ll be worth putting up with it to stay vertical.

More winter mountain biking: Nebo Ridge

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Well, the snow in the forecast for the weekend never materialized, but the temperatures did stay low enough to allow for some fantastic mountain biking. On Sunday, I headed out to Nebo Ridge, one of my favorite trails in the area. It was nearly a three-hour ride, with temperatures in the teens, and single-digit windchills. Fortunately, it was sunny outside which helped a little bit.

Nebo Ridge is a long enough ride that I have never done it during the winter. And the trailhead is remote enough that if we did have snow, it would be hard to get to. So, I felt lucky that I got to ride this trail in January.

The trail starts at the bottom of a big hill. There was quite a bit of ice at the bottom, but once I started up the hill, the ice dissipated. The trail was nicely frozen and crunchy, though there were some frozen tire ruts throughout the trail that made it extremely rough.

The climb went better than I expected. I made myself stop a couple of times to catch my breath, after the coughing fits I experienced after a long climb on another cold ride. These breaks seemed to help, and I was able to avoid any major coughing fits.

After climbing for a while, I reached this sign. I was headed out on the Nebo Trail and would come back up on Combs “Road” (which is more of a fire road than an actual road).

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After the long climb, the trail throws some rather large rolling hills at you. These were a lot of fun and I once again felt that the 29er’s increased momentum was helpful. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the rest of the trail, the first half seems like it’s mostly climbing and rolling hills, but the last 2 1/2 miles are a real blast, as they’re almost entirely downhill.

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When I reached the end of the trail, I stopped for a snack. I grabbed a Clif Bar from my Camelbak and tried to take a bite. Frozen solid! I literally could not get a bite. I held it in my hands for a few minutes, and eventually warmed it up enough that I could take small bites. I am going to have to find a better snack food for cold weather. I’m not particularly fond of energy bars, but I usually buy them anyway because they are convenient. Any suggestions for snack items that won’t freeze would be much appreciated.

At this point, I had a decision to make. I had considered riding back along the trail, or riding down to the road to do a loop with a few miles of paved/gravel/fire roads. Ultimately, I decided to make the loop. I knew it would be colder down on the road, so I put on an extra layer. As I put my Camelbak back on, the buckle for the waist strap broke. Damn!

After my break, I felt very cold for a few minutes. I got a little worried that I wouldn’t warm up again, but I did after a few minutes.  The road section has a very different feel from the trail, the scenery is a bit more varied, and the road goes by a creek, some farms, etc.

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I reached Combs “Road”, a fire road of sorts, and here you have to pass through a gate. No cars back here. There were a few creeks to cross, which gave me some pause. They were icy, as were parts of the “road,” and I knew if I got my feet wet, I’d get cold. I made it through a few creeks, some of which had ice on them. I tried to ride across the last creek, but the ice cracked and my wheel fell in. I had to put my feet down to catch myself, and they got wet. Fortunately the water was only a few inches deep, but it was COLD.

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This is the one that got me

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After a while, I reached the end of the “road” and had a tough climb back up to the trail. This climb is hit or miss for me: sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. It was hard, but I made it up.

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After that there was a bit more climbing and then I reached the trail proper and had a rough mile and a half downhill to the parking lot.

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This was a great ride, and as I do more winter rides, I gain confidence that I can do many of the same rides I love, even if it’s cold outside.

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