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Showing posts from 2014

Trek 620 650B conversion

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One of my projects over winter break has been to convert to my old Trek 620 to 650B wheels. For mountain bikes, I don't see any special value for 650B wheels over 26", but for road bikes, they really do open up some new possibilities. In my case, my Trek didn't have much clearance for fat tires and fenders with either 27" or 700c wheels. The smaller diameter should fix that.

The key to a good 650B conversion is... math. The 27" wheels I had lately on the Trek have a bead seat diameter of 630mm. A 650B wheel has a BSD of 584mm. Subtract those two numbers (630-584=46) and divide by two to look at the radius (46/2=23) means I need to look for a brake with 23mm more reach than the current calipers I have on there. My current brake reach is about 47mm (front) and 53mm (rear), meaning I need a brake caliper capable of 70~75mm.

I ordered up the parts earlier this month, just about doubling the initial $300 I spent on the Trek:

Did it work? I'll save you the heartac…

A Weekend Chock Full of Biking (Sette Razzo, ERB)

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I should probably spend these days finishing up my Christmas shopping, but it was cold enough that the trails had a decent freeze on them, but not so cold that riding is complete misery. Best to get outside then while I can.

Saturday, I headed to Chestnut Ridge for my second chance at a fat bike demo. Er, except, where's the demo fleet?

Fat Bike Demo Day (and more ERB as well)

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This weekend, our friendly local Trek store had a fat bike demo. We had a pretty full weekend at home, but I managed to get out to Alum late Saturday morning. Alas, all the Large and XL bikes were out, leaving only a medium Pugs available to ride:

Two sizes too small for me, but I got tired of standing around waiting and took it for a quick spin. Compared to the Moonlander I test rode a few years back, it was quite a bit better, more like a mini Krampus and less like riding a beach ball bouncing down a flight of stairs. Still, the 3.8" tires didn't seem to give more cushion than my 29+ tires, and it didn't seem to have quite the indomitable rollover of the bigger wheels.

New Tires and Cupcakes

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Sparked by some black Friday madness, I've been on a tire buying binge lately. A place in Indianapolis had 25% off and free shipping, so I loaded up my order with tires. Starting at the front, I picked up a 26" Dirt Wizard, because... I'm not sure why, but I put it on the front of the ERB:


No ride report yet, since it's been raining pretty much non stop for the last 24 hours, but I'm always happy for a chance to use my swanky Bontrager scandium wheels.

ERB as a 69er, Sette Razzo, and Velo Orange Camargue update too

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After a blast of cold, we had a relatively warm weekend, which means I was able to get out for some biking. Saturday, I took the ERB Freakbike out for its inaugural ride at Alum Creek:

As usual, there were good and bad points to report. The bike has a very lively feel, and seems to get up to speed and move down the trail quite quickly. On the other hand, it's not as stable and smooth as my carbon 29er Sette Razzo. My biggest is that the seatpost kept slipping down:

ERB Bike Introduction, or, Presenting: The Freakbike!

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This post really needs some theme music to get us started:


My bikes often fall a bit outside the aluminum hardtail mainstream, but this one goes a few steps beyond that. It came on Saturday:

Trail Work, and a Velo Orange Camargue Update

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Henry and I headed out to Alum Creek P1 bright and early this morning to join our first trail work day of the season. The plan for today was to fill in some bad areas west of the parking lot, and cut in a re-route for the flat, wet trail along Lewis Center road. We joined the reroute crew. Henry had brought along his shovel so he could help too:

Though he had more fun and was more productive in ripping out saplings that were in the way:

Goodbye to Fall

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Continuing my theme of getting out while we can, I tried to take advantage of the warm weather while we still had it. After dinner Monday, it was dark but still close to 60 degrees out. I couldn't pass that kind of weather up, so Sam and I mounted up some lights and headed to Kroger on a milk run:

Get Out While You Still Can

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The newspaper warned of an impending cold front coming next week, so I made it a point to spend the afternoon outside doing pointless things. I rolled around town on my Crosscheck:

I hope that treeclimber doesn't fall on my bike:

Sette Razzo SC to CR

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I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I had sold my IP-106 frameset. That leaves poor little me with just one carbon frame in the house, my Sette Razzo SC. Happily, I'm growing to appreciate the Razzo more every time I ride it. Today's ride started off in planning as a group ride, then three of us, then just me and buddy Mike.

We were riding Chestnut Ridge, one of my favorite trails in Ohio. Mike hadn't ridden it before, so it was a new experience for him. Unfortunately, his pre ride prep involved a late night of imbibing while watching OSU hammer Illinois, so he wasn't in peak form for this ride. At least we both made it up the hill to enjoy the view from the apple barn:

Ye Olde Trek Rides Again, with a Sella AnAntomica even

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I spent some time in the garage last week changing my old Trek 620 from a fixed gear back to its stock configuration. My intention was to get it ready to sell, on my path to just three (or maybe four) bikes. But, and there's always a but, partway through the build I got the idea to put my Soma Oxford bar on there in place of the laughably narrow stock drop bars, as a sort of trial moustache bar.

My first try was a complete failure:

It's easy to see the reason why:

S26O to Columbus

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The kids had Friday off for some teacher service day, so I took the day off from work and we headed out for a quick family overnighter... via Honda Pilot, not bike. Our destination was Columbus... Indiana. I stopped here in the summer with my brother, and saw a few things there that I thought the kids would enjoy. Of course, the kids were mostly looking forward to the hotel, because it had a pool:

Actually, this wasn't our intended hotel... their pool was closed due to maintenance, so we went across the street. That worked out well in the end, as Jodi somehow sweet talked them into a lower rate, and this hotel also had a mini golf course:

Practice putting gets a lot more exciting when you judge it by time, not strokes. I think professional golf could learn something here.

Working on the Six Pack

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I felt bad after writing in my previous post that I haven't taken the kids to enough playgrounds this season. I decided to rectify that situation today. After a couple of morning laps at P2 on my Sette, then a trip to the library on ye Olde Trek, I dragged the kids outside to go to a playground this afternoon.

Much whining ensued: "I want to stay home!" "Why can't we just go to Westbury Park?" But I promised them a new park feature, and some bamboo, and that got them out the door.

The new feature was the outdoor workout machines at Coffman Park. Henry tells me he can work on his "six pack" this way, and he's pretty serious about it:


Where Have All the Playgrounds Gone? and Fleet News

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These days, it seems I can't take a simple ride down the street without someone flagging me down to ask, "hey, what happened to all the playground ride reports lately?'

All right, this has never actually happened, though with my ever increasing blogging fame, it's not as unlikely as, say, Fox news actually reporting with a balanced viewpoint.

There's a couple of factors that have really reduced our playground travels this season:

Ohio to Erie: The Bike

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I was incredibly indecisive about which bike to bring for our Ohio to Erie trip. I didn't have a base of longer rides to be able to say which bike, or which bike setup, would prove the most comfortable over a long day of riding. Or perhaps,  "least uncomfortable" would be a more appropriate term. Combined with a busy rush at work, this found me out in the garage on Wednesday night (before we left on Sunday morning) struggling to get a rack mounted to the Breezer with P clamps. After over an hour of frustration, I couldn't get the rack to sit square and solidly, so I gave up on the Breezer for this tour.

Logically, I should have taken the VO, but I wasn't feeling very warm towards it at the time and wanted to spend some time with my Cross Check instead. I thought my CC setup with the Open Bars would be the one instead. I took a quick shake down run to Kroger:

Of course, in the final days before we left, I had still more changes to make.

Ohio to Erie Day 3 and Done

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Tuesday found us waking up from our campsite near Alum Creek and creekily getting rolling. We rode the few miles to Galena to stretch out our legs, and stopped at the diner for breakfast:

No need to specify which diner, since there is only one in Galena... but I would recommend it even if there was some competition.

Charles's knee was starting to bother him more, but we only have a short day in front of us, just 30 or so more miles to Mt. Vernon.

Ohio to Erie Day 2

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Day two of our trip found us happy to be leaving our hotel room and back on the road. Not surprisingly, our $55 rate didn't include a hot breakfast, so we crossed the street again for breakfast:

We wandered a bit around Xenia until we found our way to the Xenia station:


It's the hub of several rail-trails network that converge here. We switched from the Little Miami trail to the Prairie Grass trail and started to head east.

Ohio to Erie Day 1

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I mentioned a few posts back that I was planning to ride the Ohio to Erie trail with buddy Charles. This is a 300 mile, mostly paved, trail from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland. This Sunday, we boldly set out, starting off with Jodi shuttling us down to Cincy. There was no time for long goodbyes, as the Bengals were getting ready to beat the Falcons right in the area we hoped to unload. Jodi parked illegally, we threw our gear out into a pile on the sidewalk, and we were on our own.

Our planning for this trip was pretty carefree. We spent an hour with Google maps over lunch about a week prior, sketching out distances and likely stopping points. Mostly for my own amusement, I'll record that our original plan was:

Sunday: Cincy to Caesar Creek SP, 54 miles, campsite
Monday: to Batelle Darby Metro Park, 64 miles, stealth camp
Tuesday: cross Columbus to Mt. Vernon, 63 miles, hotel
Wednesday:  to Apple Creek vicinity, 55 miles, sleep in a ditch somewhere
Thursda…

New China Carbon

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I started thinking about getting a Chinese carbon bike frame (ie, an unbranded frame direct from the mainland China factory) last fall after riding a demo on a nice (but far too rich for me) Trek Superfly. Regular reader(s) will know that I'm a steel guy at heart, so I moved into carbon with a half hearted, tentative step by picking up a used Sette frame off ebay:

Somewhat to my surprise, I found I really like the Sette. It was smooth like carbon is promised to be, but it didn't feel dead and wooden like an earlier carbon frame I tried. This galls me a bit to say, but it feels like a good steel frame, just much lighter.

Of course, now that I had a carbon bike I liked, I couldn't leave well enough alone. Ideally, the top tube would be a hair shorter, the chainstays a bit shorter, making for a tighter handling package. And if I could get a carbon fork that matched, so much the better. I had a bulge in my bike fund from selling the Krampus that just about matched the cost of …

The Choice of Paris

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Paris, of Homeric fame, was chosen by Zeus to decide which goddess was the most desirable: Aphrodite, Hera, or Athena. Each attempted to bribe Paris with various wonderments, but in the end he choose Aphrodite, who had promised him Helen, the most beautiful women in the Greek world (I would have picked Athena, because who can resist the combination of hot, smart, and tough? It's like Jennifer Garner in "Alias.")

This ultimately proved a poor decision, as it precipitated a 10 year war against Paris's home town of Troy, his dead brother Hector being drug around behind Achilles's chariot, the razing of Troy, and Paris's own death.

I have my own choice of three to make. I hope it turns out better.

Labor Day Play

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The boys are a little under the weather, but I still peeled them away from their iPads to drag them to a playground this morning. This was for their own good as much as it was for me try out my CC in family mode again.

I intended to go farther, but excessive whining from our eldest shortened our trip to the Dublinshire Greenway park. Once there, we all had a good time, even though Sam was nervous in this pose:

Kate's hair makes for some good pictures:

Surly Cross Check and Velo Orange Camargue

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I gave a short update on my somewhat new VO Camargue a few posts back. For no good reason, I haven't been particularly warming up to it. So much so, in fact, that I recently changed my trusty CC from "lean and mean" to, er, family... "pudgey and friendly?"

Now I have the two bikes set up very similarly: racks, fenders, gears, flat pedals, fattish tires. I think I lean towards the CC just because I like the way it looks better: the dead horizontal top tube appeals to the traditionalist in me, even as I grunt to throw my leg over it every time I stop while riding around with the kids (which is pretty often). Thinking about the VO, I think the stupid reason I'm not warming up to it is the top tube: it's neither flat nor really sloping, just kind of dropped:

Technically, this addresses my concern about the standover on the CC, but it exists in the nether region between a traditional road bike and a mountain bike. It smacks of compromise.

Last Day of Summer

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Tuesday last week was the last day of summer before the kids started school on Wednesday (yes, I'm behind in my blogging) Coincidentally, I had the day off so Jodi could go to a doctor appointment and we could attend the "meet the teacher" events in the afternoon. Nothing to do for it but break the kids away from their iPads to hit the road for some playgrounds:


Buyer Beware: Selle AnAtomica Review

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I bought a Selle AnAtomica Titanico X saddle this winter when they had a half off sale. I was looking for something less hard and slippery than my Brooks B17N, but still with the bag loops and traditional leather saddle appearance. I didn't ride much this winter, and my early review of the SA wasn't exactly glowing: I thought it flared out too much at the skirts, and the way those raw edges rubbed my thighs was annoying and made me avoid the saddle for longer rides.

I continued to not ride the saddle much over the spring and summer, but this month I finally decided to contact SA while my warranty was still in effect.

If you noted the title of this post, you can guess their response wasn't all I hoped it would be.

New Bike (Not Mine) and Fleet Notes

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I've been on a downsizing swing lately. Again. The Breezer is for sale, though I don't actually expect anyone to buy it. If it were a 29er, it would have been sold long ago, for more money. But an XL 26er? No market there.

Today, I sold my FSR frame and fork to buddy Charles. Charles had been riding another of my ex bikes, a Habanero Ti 26er. A nice frame, but his front Marzocchi fork was blown out, which caused the front end to bounce uncontrollably. He was more or less used to it, but when I tried it briefly at Alum Creek, I was left white faced and shaking. Charles came over today, and we spent a few happy hours this morning tearing down the Habanero and rebuilding the FSR with his parts (seems like half that time was spent adjusting the front derailer... another reason to like 1x drivetrains)

A "before and after" picture would be great right about here, wouldn't it? But in our excitement, we only took an "after" picture:


I led Charles on a shakedown…

Alum, Alum, Henry's S24O, and Chestnut Ridge

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It's been a busy week of biking around here. Wednesday after work, I went to P2 with a few friends. Our first lap was still slick from an afternoon thunderstorm, so it was slower and a bit tentative as we warmed up and the trail dried. But the next lap, I was ready to open it up with my latest bike build:

Still (but not steel) singlespeed, but now with 100% more suspension! I really enjoyed railing this around the twisty, rooty P2 singletrack. For solo rides, I tend to putter around the trail, but group rides bring out my competitive spirit. In this case, I ended getting a bit too far ahead of our group while I chased down a pair of racy looking guys (one had a number plate, even) on what I think of as Midwest race bikes: carbon hardtails, big drop from saddle to seat. In the end, I caught them just before the parking lot, and the quick lap allowed me to get home before bedtime for the kids.

Saturday morning, Brian and I hit P2 again. We took some action shots:

Indy Races to Irish Fest

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We had a busy weekend that, strangely, involved no playgrounds and only a few bikes:

Saturday, my dad and I took the boys to Mid Ohio for the Indy 200 race. The Big Race was on Sunday, but I much prefer to watch the GT cars on Saturday--it's also less crowded, and easier to get around with the kids. We got up close for a good bit of racing:

Unfortunately, a thunderstorm hit mid point in the race. We saw a few spectacular off track excursions at turn 4 (?) the cleared out a good chunk of the field, but all we had for rain protection was a fleece blanket, which, it turns out, wasn't particularly waterproof. We made a chilly exit for our car.

Three Bikes On and Off the Bubble

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I'm up to six bikes now, which is about twice my comfort zone. Of course, this has me thinking and scheming about how to rearrange my bike fleet. I'll explain this through three rides on three different bikes:

1) Last weekend, I took my spare parts build Cross Check for a quick spin to the library. I actually had the CC posted for sale, but I set my price on the high side, perhaps subconsciously knowing I didn't really want to sell it. That, and I'm really enjoying the way it rolls on the supple Racing Ralph tires. Those supple tires, though, didn't help when I couldn't bunny hop over the sharp edge where the road had been ground down, pinch flatting my rear tire (I can't bunny hop worth a darn if I'm not clipped in). I got a little nervous when I opened my tool bag to only find a 26 x 2" tube. Luckily, I also had my patch kit, AND the glue hadn't dried, so I successfully patched the tube and carried on.

With only a mini pump to use, my tire di…

Night Rider's Lament

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OK, so there's really not much "lamenting" in this post, but it was a title of an old Garth Brooks song that has stuck with me...

Friday, the local metro park had a night ride. After a cookout at the neighbor's, I loaded up all three kids to head out. Strangely, Henry didn't want to ride his own bike... I think he was a little nervous about riding at night. So for the first time in a long while, I was pulling all three kids:

Sette Razzo SC Introduction

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I've had my Sette Razzo--my first carbon frame--hanging around for some time. Due to commitments in my weekend schedule, work, and the general crapiness of Oury grips, I wasn't able to take it for a good ride until this weekend. But before I get into the ride details, let's take a closer look at my build and the frame:

Coming off my Krampus, my goal for this was to make a lighter version of that: big tires, smooth riding, but light enough to be a realistic single speed. In that respect, I'm pretty happy how it turned out: the wheels are my Velocity Blunts from the Big K, the front tire is the Knard, the rear is a Mission Vee 2.4. I'm impressed that this frame has the clearance for this big tire:

Presenting the B&P Worst Product of the Year Award

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How, my reader(s) may ask, can I present a Worst Product of the Year Award when it's only halfway through the year? I can do this because I have found a product so bad, so foul, so hopeless at its simple task, that I am both confident and hopeful that I won't find a worse product in the remainder of the year.


Yes, I'm talking about Oury grips:


New Park and Bar Hopping

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Jodi is off with Henry to visit her friend in Virginia (again), so I'm playacting as a single dad for a long weekend with the twins. Tonight after dinner, we headed out to a new playground. I'm not sure if it's an official city park--it's not on the master list--but it's located in a relatively new sub near Glacier Ridge Elementary, so perhaps the official list isn't updated.

Anyway, new playgound, we had to be there and check it out.

It turns out to be a large area with a few small play areas:

Robin Hood and Little John

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Last weekend, the Metro Park had an archery activity. While Kate was staying at my parents, the boys and I loaded up and headed out. Back when I bought Henry's 24" bike, it looked quite big on him. Now it fits him nicely:

Part of that is the new bar and stem I put on, and part is that fact that he's grown over an inch since then.

Anyway, we arrive a bit early, so we stopped at the playground:

Velo Orange Camargue Introduction

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I've teased a few shots of this in my last few posts, but now it's time to do a proper introduction of my latest city/utility/touring/family/all rounder bike, my new Velo Orange Camargue. I try to avoid buying new, since the depreciation hurts when I inevitably sell the bike, but the VO pushed so many buttons for me that I couldn't wait for that rare XL frame to show up on ebay someday just to save a few bucks.

Besides, I wasn't happy with how the Breezer was doing as a city bike for me.

I'm too fast with my builds (read that as "impatient") to do a drawn out series of unboxing the bike frame, laying out all my shiny new parts, installing the headset, etc. So I'll just cut to the chase and show how my first build came out:

Independence Day Parade

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We got home from our trip a day early, which gave us time to finally see Dublin's Fourth of July day parade. After living in Dublin for over a dozen years, this is the first time we've been able to make it to the parade:

The kids were ready to get candy, although we didn't plan well and had to scramble to find bags or things to hold candy:

Iowa Vacation

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That title is sure to suck you in, isn't it? We go to Iowa about every other year to visit relatives. Last year, we went to Myrtle Beach, so this year we headed in the opposite direction. Our plan was to visit my Uncle Larry (Mom's brother) and Aunt Shirley in northern Missouri, then head to western Iowa to see my paternal grandmother.

It would have been a smooth trip, except for the tornado.

Spare Parts Build

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I've had my Cross Check and various other parts halfheartedly for sale for a bit now. That is, up until a few days ago, when I was browsing this thread over on mtbr.com and saw this CC build, courtesy of fellow CC owner phsycle:


I just love the looks of a flat bar CC, and I immediately had to get me one. Good thing I had a garage full of parts with everything on hand for this:

Still Here, and Meet the Plastic Fantastic

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It's been a while since my last post. Since I took the kids camping two weeks ago, my schedule has been: sick - sick - work travel work travel - family weekend - work travel work travel work travel. After putting many miles on my TSX, it was nice to come home to my (sleeping) kids and lovely wife, and of course a frame box.

Which contained this:

Yep, my first carbon frame. After researching all the direct order Chinese frames, I wasn't ready to commit even that much money on something that far outside my steely comfort zone. However, when this Sette Razzo SC popped up on ebay in an XL, I took the chance (and ended up being the only bidder, so I got it reasonably cheap).

I rarely involve Jodi in my bike stuff, but I had to hand this frame to her so she could feel how light it was. "Wow!" was her reaction. I'd like to wow you with the actual frame weight, but my fish scale has decided to take a dive now. I figure I'm dropping 2.5~3 pounds over my typical steel …

S24O to Homestead Park

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This is something of a record for me: three S24O trips in four weeks. This weekend, our local township had their yearly family campout at Homestead Park in Hilliard. We were ready to hit the road on Friday after dinner:

It was about nine miles to the park: I knew Henry could do that kind of distance on his own bike, which is what allowed me to take all three kids... no way I could pull all three with all our camping gear!

Farewell Party at Ballantrae Spray Park

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One of Sam and Kate's pre-school classmates is moving to Colorado this summer, so there was a going away party for him at the Ballantrae spray park. I'm not sure why we don't go to this park more often, it's only a few miles away and the kids absolutely love it:


Sam's S24O

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I was riding a bike with wheels the wrong size, on tires that were pretty much worn out, towing Sam to a "non-designated" camping spot, and hadn't checked the weather forecast.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything was all smiles at the start:

Well, that's not exactly true. There was some frustration even before the start.

Two Bikes, Three Strikes

I spent a bottle of hard cider working in the garage while the boys played with army men in the dirt just outside. Kind of puttering with the Trek, but also getting the Breezer ready for a camping trip I'd promised Sam tomorrow night.

I tried to fit my SKS Longboard fenders from my Cross Check onto the Trek, but of course they wouldn't clear under the caliper brake with the 32mm (actual, 35 advertised) Forte tire.

I tried to mount my Picolo rack on the Breezer using P clamps (which Burley does not recommend), but the clamps I had were slightly too big, and the whole thing turned out to be a wobbly mess. I'll probably just pick up some smaller P clamps tomorrow, but the whole episode reminded me how much I hate mounting things with P clams instead of braze ons--of which the Breezer has none.

(Incidentally, the S24O spot I have in mind is too rugged to bring the trailer, so I really need the rack and panniers for extra carrying capacity, even if I use the Giant trail-a-bike …

Weekend Riding Adventures, New City Bike Trial

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Another beautiful weekend here in Dublin, so I took advantage of it and spent quite a bit of time on the bike. Saturday morning, I was out just after 6:00 for an early ride on Ye Olde Trek:

The Memorial Golf tournament is this weekend, and one my small traditions is to ride through the area before it gets crazy busy. It's nice to think that I'm quietly cruising through what will be a frustrating traffic jam in a few hours time.

I wanted to investigate another location idea I had for a stealth S24O spot, so I headed north. I stopped for a quick breather:

Feeling 26 Again

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This past Sunday--my 42nd birthday--I headed out to P2 with buddy Brian for a morning ride. I was riding my somewhat also old school configured Breezer:

Kate's First S24O

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Last fall, I took both boys on an S24O to Alum Creek (though we didn't end up there). In the six months since then, Kate's been regularly reminding me that the next time I take multiple kids on an overnight trip, it was her turn. This Memorial Day weekend, the forecast was absolutely perfect for an overnighter: days in the 70s, nights in the 50s. If you don't make an effort to camp during weather like this, just crawl back inside to the couch and big screen TV and give up.

I planned to go to my favorite (and so far, only, but it will be hard to top) "stealth camping" spot. Henry and Kate and I left after dinner, about 6:30 or so. We stopped again at the dam so Kate could see it:

She was impressed! Next time, we'll have to stop on the west side so we can walk down to the water. But we had our camp site to get to, so we rolled on.

Ice Cream, You Scream... and Stonefield Park

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We celebrated Mother's day, the sequel, with Jodi's mom today. We met up with her and Jodi's sister Ginger at the Velvet Ice Cream factory in Utica, Ohio.

Henry and Sam goofed around while we waited for everyone to show up:

I got all four big kids to pose by the old mill wheel:

and then we fed some ducks and possibly the largest goose I've ever seen: