Saturday, March 31, 2012

SWK Trailwork

This morning we did a CAMBr workday at SWK. We worked on a couple of tight turns on Dominator. It was a pretty good turn out with 10 bodies showing up.

The first turn was rectified with a slight reroute. A tight flat turn on black dirt can be slick and cause ones wheels to wash out unexpectedly. This particular section was rerouted over a mound which is basically an improved trail feature.

The second was a larger flat turn that is also flat. It comes out of a drop where you are carrying quite a bit of speed and as a result you are forced to scrub your momentum to stay on the trail. Bummer. We built a short berm here, roughly a quarter turn and about a foot high. Hopefully this will allow you to carry speed through the turn now.

Jerry and Jimmy broke off from the main work group and tackled a small water crossing on Jack Rabbit. It gets water drainage during the wet Spring season. In the past we have built it up with rock, which makes a solid crossing for bikes and equestrians alike, while still allowing water to pass through. Jerry and Jimmy built this crossing up with more rocks today as it has deteriorated somewhat over the last couple of years. It has held up well I think. They also did some maintanence on the Colossus water crossing. It had begun to dam up again with more debris which they cleared away.

Since we had an extra hour to kill, the main group went over to the trailhead by the first parking lot and did some needed work there as well. Apparently people have been driving Jeeps on CAMBr Freeway, so the OLPD put some large timbers there to keep them out. We built the timbers up to allow a mountain to cross over. We also trimmed up the bushes on either side of the timbers to allow bike and equestrian access that way as well.

At about noon we all retired to the parking area for refreshments. After an hour or so hunger pangs began to set in and about six of us headed over to Portillos for some grub.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SWK Workday

Who schedules a trail work day the morning after Paddy's Day? While admittedly, I am not particularly Irish, I do ocasionally embellish. Yesterday was not an exception. My brother-in-law, Timothy O'Kernican, has been calling me every few days for the last few weeks to remind me of the approaching holiday. Since I have had a several hours to recover from the leprachon frenzy I will try and remember some events of the day.

It should also be noted that I put out a call to my Snotfoot'ed bretheren to help out with some of the trail work as the scheduled Sunday ride was to be at SWK. Hopefully, with the potential for some aftercarbs, there will be a few volunteers.

9:00 am, call from Timothy, "We're leaving for The Claddagh at 11:30 am". The logo on the wait staff T-shirts was some sort of ring with a pair of hands cupped around either side. After some quick googling I found this definition courtesy of wikepedia.

 The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring given as a token of friendship, love, or marriage. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the city of Galway. The ring was first produced in the 17th century, though elements of the design date to the late Roman period.

While at the Claddagh we actually met two different Irish people, apparently fresh off the boat in New York Harbor. The first, a young gentleman who sat with our group in the outdoor area on a spectacular sunny/breezy afternoon. The other we met indoors while listening to the Irish band. The band members were friends of Tim and the Irish women known only as "Shelly" and her Italian friend were band groupies who intended to follow the band to it's other destinations as the evening progressed. Tim and I, along with our designated driver, Victoria O'Kernican headed to the Friendly Tap at around 4 or 5 pm in Plano to check out some of the local flavor. It was a bit bland, not much activity at the old Friendly Tap. No matter, we had plans to move over to the Kendall Pub in Yorkville for more Irish tunes. The KP did not disappoint. A great beer selection and a fiesty buch of Bagpipers. They also had a one man band playing a nice variety of  folk tunes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He was wearing one of those harmonic things that allows the musician to play harmonic with out removing his hands from the guitar, ala Bob Dylan and Neil Young, 2 of my favorites. The one man bands' face lit up when I made a request for such. I enjoyed listening to a few Dylan and Young covers before the O'Kernicans drug me to the car from my drunken barstool. I get the impression they are not fans of folk music the way I am.

My first Paddy's Day experience, yes thats right, my first time actually celebrating St. Patrick's Day was as delightful and bleary eyed as one could hope for. At least the parts I can remember.

I learned this afternoon through my cell phone messaging service that several of my Snotfoot friends hung around to assist with the work day. Ahhhh! The power of suggestion and false promises among my Irish brothers. Cheers!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saw Wee Kee Work and a Fox River Trail Ride

We started off the day with some trail work at Saw Wee Kee in Oswego. Some Ninja has been building trail out there during the winter months and we had to discourage some of that activity by filling the openings with deadfall and digging holes along the new routes. Our intentions here are honorable, I assure you. Our mission is to maintain existing trails. This includes making them sustainable to foot, bike and equestrian traffic. A few days ago I posted a pic of a proposed project (say that ten times fast). I will post it again along with an after pic.

When riders come over this rise they tend to hit the brakes and skid to the bottom. Time will tell if the new work will hold up.

After the workday I went over to the Fox River Trail, also in Oswego. I took the Miyata 610. This bike was new in 1983 and purchased by me at a garage sale a couple of years ago for $10. I have done quite a bit of work on it. My intentions are to use this as my daily rider and I have been trying to get it dialed in to my liking. I'm on my 3rd set of pedals. Every set I've tried on has had a bent shaft on the left pedal, including the set I rode today. I'm not satisfied with the center pull brakes either. So the plan is to swap out the center pulls with a set of side pulls. I should also mention that the cable routing is a bit of a mess as well. When I install the side pulls I can straighten out the cable routing. Now to find a set of clipless pedals without a bent shaft.

  I am otherwise pretty happy with the Miyata. Today we took her for about a 20 mile ride. Starting and the Route 34 bridge and riding up to the bridge in North Aurora. There I took a short brake, drank my remaining supply of water and ate a peanut butter breakfast bar. The ride up felt like a breeze even though my fitness level is in question. When I heade back to Oswego after my break I figured out why it was such a breeze................TAILWIND! The tailwind has now become a headwind for the return trip. I was poorly hydrated for this ride and I was feeling the effects for most of the return trip. Dry throat, sore knees and slow cadence all reared their ungly heads. It was a beautiful and warm day that I managed to survive. I'm looking forward to the next ride and hopefully the soreness over the next few days will be limited.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SWK Spring Scout Out.

I did a walk through at Saw Wee Kee Park in Oswego Tuesday afternoon to scout some potential trail work projects for CAMBr West. Temps were near 60 degrees. Normally there is a lot of mud and water to contend with on the trails. With the mild winter we've enjoyed in this region there is no melt off. Specifically, many parts of Wildcat are underwater in the Spring and when I walked through this trail I found no mud or standing water. It will be a good Spring for mountain biking at SWK.

This is the water crossing at the start of Colossus. I wish I had taken a "before" pic. Normally the damn-up here is much worse. I pulled out all the logs, sticks and muck and got the water flowing through. It may flow for a few days before the water levels out. Then we can go in and pick the rocks that have washed through and rearrange them on the high side again. This is a yearly maintenance task. I think it makes for a nice water crossing, especially when you splash through the crossing on a hot day.
I will propose a repair of this downhill rut. I think we could break down the dirt on the left side of the trail and pull it into the trail. We could also cut the lip down. Then pack it so that the water sheds down and to the left.

Trail damage from horses can tend to be an issue this time of year. It will usually work itself out over time with rain, bike and foot traffic. At times riding through it can be bone jarring. If it is real bad we'll propose a workday to go in and rake it out. Again, with the mild Winter, things look pretty good right now.

I did find a few other minor trail projects. Most, similiar to the scenario pic'd above.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chicago Bike Winter Swap Meet

It's time to start packing for the Winter Swap at the Pulaski Park Field House in Chicago. I have never been to this swap as a vendor or a consumer. I have high hopes.

First things first, lets get that van cleaned up............I just cleaned this thing in mid January for the Madison Swap, not sure how this happens. My kids and their friends have to ride in here sometimes. They don't like it.
This is where Jeff will be sitting...........he's a science guy, I hope he's into fungus and molds.
This is much better....................time to start packing.
 ..............and there's even room for Jeff
Finished! Still time for a couple of beers and hit the rack early. I'm picking Jeff up at 5:30 am for breakfast then head into the city for an 8:00 am unload time.

I hope this enough to fill a 6' table space.

Up at 4:30 am Saturday morning, made some coffee and out the door. Made it to Jeff's place right on schedule. The breakfast choice, Mothers, did not open til 6:30 am. We tried a couple of other places with the same result and finally ended up at Harner's Bakery, not bad for a last resort, ditch effort. My plan was to be on the road by 7:00 after breakfast and we were well ahead of that by a good 15 minutes. Traffic was thin that time of the morning and we were parked by 7:30. The pre packet info I was given said parking might be an issue and unloading could be hectic. I found a spot less than a half  block away and parked it. We checked in and a young volunteer followed us out to help offload. When I handed her the first complete bike she hopped on it to check it out. At that moment I could see that the Active Transportaion Alliance people were passionate about cycling. Cool!

Tiki (Official ATA photograher)

I was set up a good 45 minutes to an hour before the doors open so I had some time to check out the other vendors. I did'nt have much cash to spend, probably a good thing. I did find a few bargains though. Purchased 3 sets of hooded levers from Bibliobob, 20 gear cables from Paul, a winter cycling cap from Erin at Kozy Prery and a 1st gen. Suntour Cyclone rear derailluer.

When I was getting my bikes prepped in the bike corral I spied a Bridgestone MB-1. It was not yet labeled or priced. Apparently it was being sold by a volunteer and when I came back later it was labeled and marked SOLD $50.....Bummer. Later on a gorgeous Tange 2 Schwinn Super Sport caught my eye. No sold tag on this one! I called the number on the tag a pleasant couple met me there within a few minutes only to inform me that someone had made an offer and was coming back with some cash. They said they'd call me if she did'nt return within 20 minutes. No call, I walked through the corral a while later and the Super Sport was gone......Bummer, scooped again. I saw the bike later with it's owner so I approached and told her what had happened and complimented her on a great find. She looked very happy with the purchase. Through the course of the day I was called back to the bike corral 3 times to represent my 5 bikes in the corral. The first time it was Sten, a young gentleman interested in the Schwinn World
Sten was pretty stoked with the World, always a good thing. I had it priced with or without the Cardiff Touring saddle and Sten had a saddle of his own he wanted to mount on the World.

The second time I was called it was Alex. He was very interested in the Univega Viva Sport and wanted a test ride. We went through all the proper channels to get the bike through the security forces of the Active Transportation Alliance and Alex hit the road. He really liked the Uni and wanted it to work but in the end it just was'nt a good fit. The third and final call was a young man interested in the Trek fixed conversion. We also went through the checkout procedures. This potential buyer, whos name presently escapes me, was very interested but also rather indecisive. We exchanged information for a possible future deal.

I sold most all of the helmets I brought, all in new condition, a pair of shoes in like new condition, some toeclips and straps, 3 or 4 rear racks, 2 frames (likely for SS conversions) (both buyers were pretty excited about their project frames) (I like that) and a 47cm Trek 420 frame. Sold various other misc. parts as well.
This swap was in the Pulaski Park neighborhood, a nice centralized location right off the Kennedy expressway. Convenient for out of towners like myself, yet also within walking and cycling distance for many locals. I spoke with Katie Liesner at the after party and she said that about 1500 people came through the door with most paying a $10 admission fee. That's a pretty good day.

I spoke with a few people I knew from the bikeforums Classic & Vintage board including Paul (Big Chainring), Bob (Bibliobob), Alan (ChicagoAl), and Bob's friend Alex. All good people. I talked with several others I have met these past few years at bike swaps and through craigslist trading. Some of those include Brian, Ron, Paul (from Wheaton), another CL guy whos name I can't remember.

 In addition I met some new and interesting people. Chris Wallace from Holistic Cycles in Oak Park. He teaches some repair and maintenance classes I am interested in attending. Erin from Kozy Prery cycling caps. She custom makes these caps herself in several sizes, summer and winter styles, made from recycled materials. The people from Alewyfe. They made soaps and other concoctions, not to mention some awesome homebrew they shared with Jeff and myself.

Early on during the dayI left the room I was set up in and when I tried to return I was stopped dead in my tracks by a couple of volunteers. I was not wearing my name tag or my wristband. One of the volunteers recognized me and let me carry on. At that point I realized I had misplaced my hoodie, a handbag, my day of packet and my camera. It was obvious to me right away that I had set them down while registering all my bikes for the corral. I heade over there and saw all my stuff against the back wall behind a vendor. It was a few hours after the doors had opened (the ATA stated in there rules to be set up by 10 am NO EXCEPTIONS). So I told the gal setting up what I was searching for and she kindly let me pass through. When I stepped on her sign that was laid out on the floor her mood changed rather drastically. I grabbed my stuff and hauled ass outta there. Hell knoweth no fury, than that of a woman scorned! Sorry, no pics.

It ended up being a pretty fun day.  Met up with some old friends and made some new ones. A cycling social bonanza ,if you will. As I said earlier, there was an after party planned at Goose Island Clybourne. It was a long day so Jeff and I decided to get some grub at GI and join the party. The party turned out to be a bust as there were only about 6 people there, 8 counting us. Just as well, long drive ahead.