Tuesday, September 27, 2011

North Park PA Ride

This weekend, the family made its way back to Pittsburgh to enjoy a little family time and catch a family reunion on Sunday.  Since I was going to have the entire day to myself on Saturday, I decided to take the Giant with me and do a little riding.  After carefully reviewing all of the trails available, I decided on North Park.  It had the most information on line in terms of trail maps, and helpful hints, and it was also the closest to my in laws house.

I was on line at Pennsylvania Dirt and found this blog about one of the best ways to ride NP, so I decided to follow Shred's advice and give it a try.  Since I was going to be riding this by myself, I wanted to make sure I had a good map and reasonable directions, just in case I got lost.  Turns out, Shred had some pretty good thoughts on how to ride this.

This was also the first time I got to try out the new set up on the rear end.  I upgraded to a Shimano 11 34 cassette.  It was a bit different than the stock 11 28 that came with the bike, definitely better on the climbs.  It just took a little time to get used to using different gears when going down hills and during ridge rides.   It was however, awesome to not be constantly fighting the gear slipping that had been plaguing me for the last two months!

The ride itself started out with a bridal climb straight up the hill, followed by a nice trip around the golf course.  Some single track through the woods followed by some nice little up and downs and then back across the road onto some serious ridge riding.  This section actually had me hiking the bike a bit, as I am a bit out of shape due to lack of riding.  Some nice trails, then back across the road onto some more trails circling the golf course.  From here, I crossed over onto another series of trails and started some serious switchbacks up the N Ridge trail.  I met up briefly with some locals on niners (single speed rigids); got some tips and was then left behind on the hills.  This trail was a pretty sweet ride, lots of ridge riding and a few nice downhills.  Also hit a couple rock gardens on a down hill which provided some sweet opportunity for some jumping, then into some more awesome forest.  Did I mention all of the animals?  Deer, squirrels, birds, ground hogs, chipmunks, more deer and I think quite possibly a bear (ok, maybe it was me making all the noise and not actually a bear).  This sweet trail led back across another rode to another trail system, which had an awesome double downhill that I bombed!  At the bottom, there was more trail to be had, but quite honestly, I was not quite sure where it was, I was getting a bit tired, and I was actually a little lonely. So I jammed to Park roads back to the parking lot and called it a day.   All in, 16 mile ride, not sure of elevation change, and a nice energizing ride!  

Monday, September 19, 2011

11 34 Cassette

Dropped the bike off tonight again to get the chain slipping fixed.  I sat down with bike mechanic and we examined chain and cassette. The chain was stretched big time and the cassette was extremely worn out.  Ordered new cassette and chain; going to go with a slightly different cassette.  Stock cassette was 11 28, I am moving to a 11 34!  Should make those hills a lot easier!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kennerdell & Two Mile Run PA Rides

     I made the trip back to Pennsylvania this weekend to attend a funeral for a family member who had passed last week. Since I was going to have a little free time Saturday morning, I took the Giant with me to get a ride in. My parents live next to the Kennerdell trail, and they are only about 30 minutes from Two Mile State Park, so I decided these would be my destinations for the weekend. I spent the week researching the trails, printed off a few maps, and decided on a plan of attack. I also had my bike tuned up during the week so I was excited to get out and see how it was riding.
      I started my day with Two Mile since it was the furthest away and on paper seemed to be the most fun. After parking at trail head where I was the only one there (I guess I should have realized something up) I started out on my attempted ride. I found entrance to trail and started off on rocky hill climb. 5 minutes in, and I realized I was in trouble. First of all, the bike was not working well at all. The "ghost" shifting and slipping that had been bothering me for the last month, had not been fixed. Not a good thing when you are playing on hills and rocks! However, chain issues and all, I soldiered on. My mistake, as about a mile or two in, the trails started to be difficult to follow. Every where I looked there was a side trail leading off of the main trail, and quite honestly, the map became completely useless. I road around in circles for a while, until I was able to figure out the trail system a little, but by then I was completely frustrated with the trail and the bike. I ended up getting a little over 8 miles in, but this trail system just was not fun. No flow, rocks, and soft track which made it very difficult to get any speed. I got back to the trail head ( I was still the only person riding) and made my way towards Kennerdell.
     Even though I was having troubles with the bike, I was going to tough it out and make it work. I got to the trail head, tried to adjust the rear derailluer a bit, and plotted out my lap. There were a couple locals there, so I chatted them up a bit, and got some advice on the best lap. The trail started out on a gravel fire road (fast riding) and eventually got into the good stuff. Right away, it became apparent that there was going to be some rock and roots, as well as some mud! I met a few other riders down in the woods, and got some more advise on what to stay away from, and continued on. The map worked wonderfully, and I was able to turn a 7 mile lap into a pretty fun ride, even though the damn rear cassette drove me insane. There was so much slippage going on I almost sterilized myself on many occasions. I had heard about the rock gardens here, and they did not let me down. A couple nice downhill rocky sections followed by a nasty rocky climb on ridge trail (time to push) and I was reasonably happy with the ride. I didn't do anywhere near the total miles here; I was riding alone and didn't want to journey down over the mountain to the Allegheny River without someone along for help if needed. Although I will definitely go back again someday and make sure I complete it all.
     Unfortunately I didn't get any pics, although the ridge trail at Kennerdell did have some awesome views overlooking the river! Next time when I am not using GPS on phone, I will be able to take some pics. However, the fact that I didn't get pictures and had issues with the bike and the trails, the ride itself did me some good; I had time to think about my little cousin (RIP Jay) who had passed and spent some time alone thinking about a few things. I also got in a nice workout, saw some nice views and explored some new trail.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Warrior Dash Ohio 2: Carrollton

"The craziest freaking day of my life" turned into one of the most painful as well. Yesterday, I completed my second Warrior Dash in 4 months, and let me just tell you....This one was tough! I have done a lot of things in my life, but this was one of the hardest. Don't get me wrong, running 5k isn't that hard to do. Quite honestly, it is not hard at all. But running 5k, in all mud, up many many hills, over obstacles, more hills, more mud, more muddy hills, and a masses of muddy falling people, and you get the idea. Let me be clear, I didn't really train for this by doing anything other than bike and drink, but still this one kicked my ass much more than the last one. As a matter of fact, the overall fastest time was 9 full minutes slower than the last one I ran. Personally, my time was 17 minutes slower than the last. Mostly because of the mud and hills, but also because of start time. Instead of running with the faster runners, I was lumped with the masses and I spent half the time maneuvering around people who were struggling miserably in the mud and on the obstacles. I guess I should have seen that coming, since I also spent almost two hours in traffic just to go 2 miles. Note to self....if I run again, it will be back in early heat again! The course itself was similar to the last one, but it definitely had more hills! The start was on a downhill, followed by a half lap around the lake. A short chest high wade across the lake with floating logs (caught a couple logs to the chin) and out the other side for another uphill, muddy run. After a painful uphill, a sloppy muddy run through the woods, back up more hills, then started hitting the obstacles. A series of wooden hurdles followed by crawl under barbed wire, then off to another hill! More mud, and then a few more obstacles to complete. A cargo net climb, a wooden wall climb, balance beam, run through the tires , dumpster obstacle (medics were working on some woman here), horizontal rope crossing (too many people at one time on this), another wooden wall climb (especially hard for short people), a steep steep hill climb leading to fire crossing, then the mud crawl for the finish. All of this done while running through more freaking mud! Good Times! Click here for results

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wish Upon A Star- Dema Style

I still haven't sat down long enough to ride up a blog entry of the trip to Disney and all the fun we had, but I did get this slideshow of pictures put together. If you haven't done Disney at least once, you need to. There is some really cool stuff; Rock n Roll Coaster, Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Test Track, Tower of Terror, Awesome Fireworks, Great Food, Disney Characters everywhere, and even GOOD BEER!

Cinderella's Castle- Disney with Dema

Just a short video of fireworks over Cinderella's castle at Disney!