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Taking it to the streets  //   Saturday - February 12, 2005

Wednesday night, day is warm, cooling by night, lots of snow melt off, trails are definitely out. So, downtown we go following Kevin's suggestion of hitting the Baltimore Brewing Company to help put them out of business. You see, as mentioned recently, they are shutting their doors once the last of the beer is drained.

Five of us on the move, I lead us out of our usual starting place of the Avalon park and ride. Still running the cyclocross knobbies on my fixed gear because I've been too lazy to swap them out. I've pumped them up but they still feel a little sluggish. No matter, they'll do the job and fend off the nasty bits that litter the scrub zone.

We start off at a nice clip, trying to avoid traffic but that means staying on roads not meant for bikes. Torn up roads from industrial traffic keeping you on your toes, wind down in to Morrell Park with it's dirty feel, keeping a sharp eye out for car doors and stray hookers. Back into industrial areas with wide streets that are quiet at night. On past the Raven's stadium, into Federal Hill and tighter residential streets. Stop and go with the traffic lights but we've got a good rhythm. Slip by a few cops who don't seem to notice us violated a few laws. Down Light street, move right, up the handicap ramp, launch the curb and slip into the trolly/bus lane that allows them to go against traffic. It's all ours except for dodging the occasional ped. Legs churning circles, past the multi-million dollar Harbor Place, the National Aquarium, the ESPN Zone, then a quick right on to brick pavement - no cars allowed, not sure about bikes. The pack stays tight, shoot some metal polls, off the curb, round the traffic circle, hop a curb, back down and someone wonders where I'm taking us. We are a little off course, already past the Brewing Company but the night is warm and a little extra mileage is in the plan. Along the water heading for Fells Point, it feels like spring tonight, how about a little Paris-Roubaix action? Whip a hard right and onto the cobblestones. Teeth chattering, ass pounded, speed getting stolen, trying to keep the cadence. Pass the cars that can't drive to fast on this stuff, the bicycle wins again. Click off the blocks, through the center of Fells where it's wall-to-wall bars. Quiet tonight, we have the streets mostly to ourselves. A left and the cobbles turn to asphalt after another couple of blocks and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. A right and we are headed for Canton. Reach the outskirts and swing it around to head for the beer. Quick stop at Fleet Street Cycles to pick up my White Industries freewheel, jabber with Donald and Patrick then remount. Sneak through Little Italy, dodge a cab, cut through an open work site that blocks the direct route to the brewer and get in the tiniest bit of dirt action with a nice little sketchy drop-in to the bar.

Chalk board announces 57 kegs left, they aren't done pouring our first round and it's down to 55. Pils, Marzen, Dopplebock and Weizen, these are your choices, even less for food. The operation is almost running on fumes but there are a lot of customers for a Wednesday. Mourning the loss, paying respects, helping the doors close as soon as possible. Food, beer, more beer and back into the night. Rain was in the forecast, did not look good earlier, but all we got was a brief sprinkle while we were inside. Slip back to the streets, alleys, on to the bus/trolley lane, dodge cars sneaking out of hidden entrances, blast by a parked cop and on to inner harbor sidewalks. Up Federal Hill, along the Kinetic Sculpture race route, through old neighborhoods rehabbed with yuppie dollars, through old neighborhoods still showing age, a quick turn to an alley short cut. Left back on to the street and a clatter of steel and aluminum. Rider down! A quick look back and #2 lays it down in a scrape of metal and a show of solidarity. Circle the wagons, pick up the pieces and we are back in action. Hello Ravens stadium once again, hello wide industrial streets. Slide onto the darkened Gwynns Falls trail, through the tunnel, over the bridges, but Grandma's house is not in sight. Back onto the street and a flat pulls us over. No 15mm wrench to be found, so we pump and sprint. Get a couple of miles, and stop to reinflate. CO2 is produced, we heckle the crippled and we're off again. Not long and we are repeating the scene. One more time and it's time to patch. Glass is the enemy, removed with surgical precision and glue and rubber are installed in it's place. A long grind on the final stretch and the problem tire is done once again. More glass? Poor patch job? I never find out, it is either reinflated or repaired. Regroup, then split up, half mile each way to our respective destinations and we are done.

- riderx

2005 Indy R.O.S.S.  //   Tuesday - February 8, 2005

2005 Indy R.O.S.S. (rallye of single speeds)
Just in from the Mid-west:
March 18th & 19th.
Friday is the pre-rallye party at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub at 9pm (to get course maps and starting point) The rallye is on the 19th at noon. The course is fine for most single speed bikes with mountain tires or cyclosross tires. Most of it is on pavement and chipped lime stone with some single track. Conditions vary here in Indiana and it could be cold and dry or warm and muddy. The course will be approximately 14 miles and has some cool sites, like the highest point in Indianapolis at Crown Hill cemetery (in the route) where you can check out John Dillingers grave. It runs along a river, canal, urban street riding, and a rail-to-trail corridor. After the rallye is a ride at the local single track trail, Town Run trail park and the band Pizzle will be playing at the Melody Inn that night.

For additional info contact: wrfritz@comcast.net

- riderx

In Deep  //   Monday - February 7, 2005

Things have been getting warm here, a virtual heatwave in February. Hit the trail fairly early on Saturday morning knowing that as the day warmed up the trails may not be rideable. Got to catch that insulating snow while it still exists. Headed to the Howard County side of Avalon on the southern side of the river. Trails were still buried in snow and ice but you could tell the melt off would be in full swing later and this might be the last day of local trail riding for a while until we get another freeze. Fun stuff, out there solo, steady riding with only two stops brief enough to dig the camera out and snap a picture. It was so great out in the woods that a return trip was made for a late afternoon hike.

Sunday saw a bunch of us go rummage at the annual bike swap. No big scores for me this year but that's OK, just means I saved some cash. Headed out to Hashawa where we always do a post-swap ride. Prayed that the trails were still snow covered because otherwise things would be to wet to ride. The MTB gods answered us with deep snow and 50 degree temps. Lost 1 rider on the way to the trail, had 10 to start, 2 pulled out early to do their own pace, 1 found us on the trail and 1 cut it short with a roached crank. Keeping track of that? Yeah, wasn't easy when we were on the trail either.

Those who made the whole ride cranked it out for three hours in the thick white stuff. As the POTUS would say: "It's hard work". Satisfying for sure. I got us briefly off route in some deep snow, but hey, I ride this place once a year, it's not like I'm a local. Luckily the sun was shining and nobody was too worried about it. With all the snow rides we've been racking up lately, it was definitely one of the better ones.

Got to get that fun in while you can because now it's all melting and there will be zero trail action this week. Back to the asphalt.

- riderx

 

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