Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer in Review

Our quest is done, the twins start school this week, so it seems like a good time to kick back and look over what we did this summer.

My original goal was to hit all 56 parks by bike with the kids. In the end, we had to visit five parks by car, and I visited another five (all open spaces, no playgrounds) by bike without the kids. So, 46 parks with the kids by bike. I'm happy with that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

DONE! Dublin Spring Park and Karrer Barn

Today was the day. After our dinner of taco slurry, we headed out for our final two parks. Our first stop was #18 Dublin Spring Park. We headed down the steps under the bridge:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kiwanis Riverway Park by Surly Cross Check

About a week ago, I drove around with Henry to try to find the parking area for the #32 Dublin Kiwanis Riverway park. We finally gave up that day and ended up going to the Toy Barn to look at exotic cars (this was Henry's request, I was so proud again!) When I got home, I studied the map and realized we should have turned into the River Quarry development off Riverside Dr. Early Saturday morning, I headed out on my fixed gear Cross Check to check this park off. Even early in the morning, I don't want to bring the kids in a bike along Riverside Dr, so this was a solo trip.

Near the Dublin Rec, I noticed something new along the bike path:

Henry goes Mountain Biking

On Tuesday, I was able to rearrange my schedule at work a bit to take off early in the afternoon for the "meet the teacher" day at Henry's school. Teacher met, we had the afternoon free to decide what to do with. The twins were with my folks, Jodi had gone shopping. I asked Henry what he wanted to do: "Let's go mountain biking!" I'm so proud!

I had earlier mentioned to Henry that the trails at Wellington Park looked like a good place for him to practice. We saddled up and rode the few miles over there. On the way, we notice something new at Avery Park:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A History of My (Many) Hardtail 29ers

(reference: my history of full sus bikes, road bikes, and 26er hardtails)

I was a reasonably early adapter of 29ers (for Ohio), starting back around 2006. That spring, I saw a guy on the trail with a white On One Inbred--the first 29er I'd seen in real life. I tried to meet up with him later for a demo ride, but it just never worked out. That didn't stop me from taking the plunge, though, and I built up my own 29er that summer:

1. Voodoo Dambala

A decent frame, super versatile as were most of the early 29ers (disc or rim brakes, single speed or geared). I had a Marzocchi Bomber fork on there, which was adequate. But, it just felt kind of slow and unwieldy on the trail. I blamed the 29er wheels, but I also had some medical issues going on that summer which likely played a bigger role. I sold it and went back to my Specialized Epic... for a while.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

S24O to Alum Creek, Or So I Thought

I had nothing major planned for this weekend, and with the forecast looking great, I decided to take Henry camping to Alum Creek State Park. On Saturday, I figured I might as well take Sam with us--my niece Marli was staying over, so Kate would have a good time with just the girls at home and wouldn't miss us. Sam has never been on a bike trip with us, but he has been camping, so I figured he would do all right.

I was a little worried that my two man tent would be too small, or that I would struggle up the hills with the extra weight of Sam and his gear. Turns out these weren't the right issues to worry about.

We set out about 4:00. I was riding my newly converted 8 speed Novara Buzz, with Henry on the Picolo and Sam and gear in the trailer:

Novara Buzz Update

I've had my Novara Buzz for a few weeks now, and I've already rebuilt it. Not that the initial, er, buzz has worn off, but the stock setup wasn't that useful for me: 42x16 gearing was too tall for me knees, and all those white components... blech. Plus, I needed some gears to pull the kids around.

Here's how it stands now:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Soma Double Cross vs. Surly Cross Check Comparison

This summer, I ended up with a Soma Double Cross and a Surly Cross Check at the same time. Many people shop these two against each other, so I thought I would put up some thoughts between them.

Here's how they were built when I took my comparo photos:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Avery and Woods of Brighton Park

#3 Avery Park is another of our "home" parks (along with Westbury), since it's very close to our house. Of course, we've been there several times this summer, and I did mention it back here, but this evening I brought the camera so it became all official like.

There's a small trail in the woodlot at Avery Park where Henry is learning to mountain bike:

I've also been known to do a bit of comparo riding here. And there's a bunch of sports fields and stuff. Yawn... but our main attraction is the playground:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Westbury Park

Just a quick ride last night. We first headed back to Wyndham Park, because Kate wanted to ride her bike somewhere further than Avery Park. From there, we backtracked to #53 Westbury Park. This is one of our two "home parks," because it's only a stone's throw from our house.

I'm starting to appreciate this playground more. It's divided into two sections, with a little kids side:

and a bigger kids side:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rigid 29er Smackdown Part Duex

In my last installment of some comparison riding, I rode the Blackbuck vs. the Soma Juice. The Blackbuck won that one--evidence being the Juice has been sold, but the Blackbuck remains. Today I took the Blackbuck out for round two:

It's the Blackbuck vs. the Singular Gryphon. I just headed out to my local guerrilla trail in Avery Park. It's short, maybe only a 1/3 mile figure eight, and flat, but it does have a few logovers, and some anonymous (ahem) but community minded person has been keeping the trail clear of fall downs and brush.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Surly Cross Check to Campden Lakes, Hutchins Open Space, and Bryson Cove

Beautiful weather here for a busy weekend. On Saturday, I ran the Warrior Dash with a couple of buddies from work. I'm not a runner by any means, but it's fun to climb over stuff "Survivor" style:

(this picture was after I washed off)

 Saturday night, I fulfilled an earlier promised to the kids and we camped out in the backyard.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wellington Park and Amberleigh Park

My new playground posts are getting further between. With only a handful of parks left, I'm pretty much limited to weekends to head out to a new park. But on Saturday, we got the gang together after dinner and headed out.

Brian and his boys were joining us again. Our first stop was #52 Wellington Park. We entered this park through the woods off Brandonway road:

Which, as a side note, I think will be a great training ground for Henry to practice "mountain" biking. I had thought this was only an open space, no playground, so I was happy to round the corner to see this:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Henry's Trip to Virginia (guest post by Jodi)

Last weekend, while I played single dad with the twins, Jodi took Henry on a plane trip to see her friend Michele in Virginia. I asked her to make a write up of their trip. Here we go:


Henry and I (Mom)  flew to Reagan Airport on Friday, July 27.  It was Henry's second plane trip - the first one was to here 2 years ago.  He likes planes (as any little boy should) and likes airports too.  He is quite the nice traveling companion. :)

Mom's friend Michele, along with her son Christian, picked us up and off we went to explore DC.  We had flown over DC on our way to the airport and saw that the Washington Monument was being repaired - apparently, it has been closed for 2 years due to an earthquake and structural issues.  So, we parked close to it which took a while with the parking situation there.  I was glad Michele drove the entire trip - not only because she knows all the roads, but because she is accustomed to the aggressiveness of not just the other drivers, but the pedestrians who regularly put their lives on the line while crossing the streets.

Our first stop was the Smithsonian Museum, which is excellent and like most museums in the area, is free.  It has such a great dinosaur exhibit which little boys like. :)  We also saw lots of bugs, an African exhibit, lots of rocks, and even the Hope Diamond.

Them's the Brakes

I've mentioned earlier (and repeatedly) that I wasn't happy with the rear brake on my Rawland Nordavinden. After today's ride, I started thinking about all the flex I was feeling in the lever. What, I wondered, would happen if I put on a lever with less flex? My current road levers are typical run of the mill Shimano aero levers. Shimano usually makes good stuff, so I'm not sure how much better other road bike levers would be. But I did have some Dia Compe flat bar levers in the parts bin.

Here is my super elegant test mode:

The result was significantly improved brake performance (if not appearance). I could now skid the rear tire, at least.

At this point, a more rational bikie would start thinking about upgrading brake levers. But that's not my way. I'm still in my downsizing mode. Them's the brakes!

Billie Bar Review, with bonus Pine Tar Soap review

I placed a Rivendell order the other day to try out a few new products. My main purchase was a new bar for my Fuji. The Billie bar is an evo...