The St Louis Bike Polo Lock-In happened for the third time. We like to party. Surreal, lawless experience. Just wonderful. Got lots of games in, especially come 7 am or so when all the sleepers were sleepin’ and quitters were quittin’. I also have a gallery of the 2010 Lock-In event, missed last year due to injury.
I guess the time comes with every cyclist where you are hit by a car. Saturday night was my closest call yet, as a group of seven people I was riding with in Columbus OH was plowed into from behind at speed, perhaps at 35 mph. Two lanes in either direction with a center turning lane, no traffic at all, sharrows painted on the road, and easily 10 blinkie lights between the 7 people. We were riding in a tight group, taking up no more than 2 or 3 parking spaces length of road in one lane. No sounds of brakes, no sounds of the engine, the first notice any of us in the tight group had was a loud bang with the impact with the first rider and then the actual crash. Somehow only two riders had the complete impact from the car—24hrs later after spending the night in the hospital each is doing well, quite sore and beat up with a single broken collarbone between them. Considering the sickening crunching sounds of the impact and the distance they were thrown (out of their laced shoes…) the outcome is unbelievable. Pieces of the car littered the scene, bikes destroyed, this was no grazing hit. Perhaps cynically and predictably the car sped off with squealing tires, only to be caught on the opposite side of town minutes later with a reportedly very alcohol impaired 70 year old man (wrongly reported as woman at first, no matter really) behind the wheel. It is amazing the entire group wasn’t taken out, it’s amazing the two who got hit aren’t injured worse. We’re talking about making sure people could wiggle toes and fingers in the middle of the street here. One other rider went down in the melee but managed to only scrape his knee as he rolled out. Miraculously I didn’t go down, even though after all was said and done my rear wheel was left unrideable from some sort of impact during the incident.
Be careful out there, be nice to people, live it up.
Dirty Dozen 2011. The steepest hills in Pittsburgh hosted by Danny Chew, this time contested by 300 riders or so. Shot a few hills with the oddball Russian Horizon 202 and expired 400 bw film before heading off to lunch.
The inaugural Keystone Cup polo tournament to decide the best team in the state. The best Pittsburgh could muster up was third place, not even first loser.
Taken at ESPI 6 in Philadelphia PA June 11-12 2011. Not sure where these images have been until now; I like them.
The goal was six straight days in the saddle. Ride the roughly 300 miles from Pittsburgh PA to Frederick MD over the course of four days, arriving for two straight days of polo at the most glorious DC Polo Camp. Mission accomplished. Here’s a quick account of the four days on the trail.
Last year I rode this same route alone to the first DC Polo Camp, and apparently spoke highly enough of it to convince fellow Pittsburgh polo player Max to come along for the 2011 edition. First time bike camping for Max, killer travel mate. Pretty great trip.
Day 1. We are blessed in Pittsburgh and DC to have the longest continuous trail system in the United States connecting the two cities and many small towns in between. Between the 150 mile Great Allegheny Passage and the 185 mile C&O Canal you can travel between the two cities by bicycle or by foot, camping in various sites along the way. We hit the trail just outside of town riding 85 miles to Confluence PA, passing the Edgar Thomson Works mill in Braddock, the relatively old Dravo cemetery, and through the Roundbottom campsite (pro tip: new structures are in the works, but still no water) on the way. We also passed through Ohiopyle, but our leisurely pace early in the day and push to camp in Confluence made us motor on through without picture-time. The pay-campsite in Confluence is ok, but pales in comparison to other more primitive hiker/biker sites along the way that don’t have camper trailers and people driving to the bathroom all over the place. Unfortunately given our daily mileage needs it was the best of two or three less than ideal choices.
Day 2. Definitely the most picturesque, and perhaps the easiest of the four. We got a late start, letting the mist and fog burn off the day warm up a bit before going, especially seeing that the previous day was spent in the mid-50s and in a fine mist all day. After a quick stop in Rockwood for a snack we soon crested the Eastern Continental Divide, finishing the climbing for the trip with 1700 ft of elevation gain from our start. Shortly after crossing the divide the trail takes a definite downward slope, losing the past day and half of elevation gain in 25 miles or so. Just after the divide is the 3300 ft Big Savage Tunnel, one of the longer ones most people will ever get the chance to ride through—from there it’s the Borden Tunnel and a quick last 15 miles from Frostburg to Cumberland. Stopped at Sheetz and Dollar General for food rations and an alcohol fuel refill for my stove and pushed a few miles to the Irons Mountain campsite on the C&O. About a 75 mile day, ending in a pretty great campsite right near one of the many locks on the canal.
Day 3. Morning was beautiful as the fog burned off and we had our usual breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. Rode through the dark and damp 3000 ft Paw Paw Tunnel and otherwise hit lots of the towpath, trying to hit our mileage before dark. Midway through the day we were able to hit 22 miles of paved rail trail that runs next to the rough dirt C&O canal towpath, a welcome change and a few extra miles per hour. We stopped at Hancock for food and refreshments before calling it a day at the Jordan Junction site. Another 75 miles down.
Day 4. No time for photos—with Polo Camp and friends in store at the end of the day, we woke up early and hustled, trying to make it to camp and cool refreshing beer and a grill pretty well as soon as possible. With no real towns on the way, we cooked the last of our food along the trail for lunch and made good time on the longish day, riding up the steepest hill of them all just as we finished the 313 mile total ride—Polo Camp’s driveway. I was hungry enough upon arriving that against all better judgment I ate a giant sausage from the grill, perhaps the first full serving of “meat” in eight or nine years. It was awesome.
No walking the entire trip. No real injuries even if both of us had some knee pain throughout. One flat 15 miles from the end of the ride (me), and one lost fender (Max) with no other mechanicals between us. Awesome trip, would do again.
DC Polo Camp II. Killer. Best event of the year. We played lots and lots of polo on the finest courts I’ve ever played on by day and drank moonshine around the pallet fire by night. I only took pictures of one of these activities.
Last word: The Ransom family is awesome. Thank you!
Recent product shots, some tech, some review. Sometimes it’s interesting to see them uncropped, without text over them.
It started with talks of a Kentucky Bourbon Bike Tour, but somehow ended up a four day, three night bike camping trip in the Allegheny National Forest. Camping at the base of waterfalls, lots of forest roads, amazing times.
The plan was to head up to ANF with a forest service map and a loose route with these two guys, finding our way to primitive sites along the way. With some local guidance and a truck drop off at the top of a ridge we were off into the woods. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but the first bit of trail that local knowledge said we’d have no issues besides a few recent blowdowns was barely rideable without 25 pounds of gear a piece. After a couple of miles (and a couple of hours) we had our first casualty, a failed rack braze-on. Hose clamp and cord to the rescue—it held the rest of the trip without further adjustment. We were expecting a rainy, wet trip and at the moment a storm seemed to be rolling in, so we popped up a tarp and found a spot we could stay for the night if need be. The storm passed, and we pushed onward.
We pushed on further, eventually coming to a steep uphill hiking trail where we decided to bail on the rest of the proposed 8-10 mile loop. We were 3.5 miles in, and honestly worried about spending the rest of the weekend pushing the rest of this loop if we decided to go further. Another mile or so up and we stumbled upon the most amazing campsite, tucked into a huge boulder formation directly next to the classic babbling brook. Even though the entire hillside was completely wet and lush a bit of dry firewood was found hiding under a rock. Dried out our shoes from the many creek crossings throughout the day, ate the first of our Indian feasts (with naan!) and dug into our deep dried fruit provisions.
Pushed out of the woods and finally covered some ground, both paved and on dirt forest roads. Perfect riding, in perfect weather. Ducked out of a short burst of rain at the only not packed in meal of the trip and hit a couple of overlooks looking out at the Kinzua Dam. The goal was finding Hector Falls, an unmarked site off of some forest roads that we were told was not to be missed.
Hector Falls was everything promised and more. Not the easiest to find, not the hardest either, but worth every effort. Surreal square form, with water falling from both sides of the rock after flowing over the flat top. And we camped directly at the base of the falls, in something that looks like a movie set and would be a major tourist attraction in most any other location. But here, desolate with hardly any sign of humans besides a hiking trail and a small firepit. A pretty incredible place to live for a day.
Onward to Route 666, a grocery store stop for a bit of ice cream and fresh veggies, and then onto a fish hatchery where we guessed there would be picturesque camp sites. Somehow missed images of the hatchery itself, but the camp site above the small dam that provides water to the operations was quite awesome. Had to push across a shin deep creek to get there, with a locals party camp site sitting there right at the dam. More trash than any other site, but not unbearable and the ample firewood and beautiful surrounding made up for the beer cans tucked behind a tree for future pickup.
Day four, back to the car. After a leisurely paced wake-up some awesome riding and a quick walking tour of the old growth Heart’s Content area of ANF we made it back to the car. No flat, no injuries besides a bruise or two. Packed all but one of our meals in, pumped water out of streams, totally self sufficient for the three nights. The best camping trip for me yet. No question. Pretty amazing, and it all passed by so quickly.
B Rose and Shockspital, from a visit back in June ’09.
Black and Goldsprints at OTB last night.
Pedal Pittsburgh always attracts a number of riders to explore the city. BikePGH parked some 300+ bikes for folks as they had lunch after the ride.
Schwinn American. I’ve owned this bike for years – bought it at the thrift store as seen for $39.99 – and know very little about it.
Shot a few months back for a friend’s project. Needed a shot of an old bike that looked like a flatbed scan.
Everything was going well until Rob’s knee opened up. A few dozen stitches, back playing polo two days later.