Belated 2013 Brown County Breakdown Recap

Sorry for the late post. After the BCBD, I moved into a new place and have been busy getting everything unpacked and organized. I’m mostly situated now, and I need to catch up on some posts.

The 2013 Breakdown was a great time. I went down for the whole weekend on Friday evening and camped both nights. I got there a little on the late side, and wound up in a suboptimal campsite. It wasn’t a bad spot, but it was out in the open and got hot in the sun. The Crosstrek held our camping gear well.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

We could have organized the gear a little better in the car, but it wasn’t bad. Unfortunately being out in the open we couldn’t use our hammocks because we had nothing to attach to. Thankfully we brought the cabin tent just in case. We need to remedy the hammock situation. A couple things that might work – freestanding hammock stands would probably be the most flexible, but also more bulky. Another alternative would be to figure out how to hang the hammocks using the roof rack as one anchor point and then only needing a stand for one end of each hammock.

We also need a canopy of some sort for cooking/relaxing under. Being out in the open exposed us to all the elements. We had a tarp we could use, but it wasn’t quite good enough.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

I found this scene when I went to fetch water Friday evening. Very nice autumn scene – a wooly bear, corn stalk, and a pumpkin.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

FYI, the work stand on a Kuat rack also makes for a handy lantern hanger. Yet another difficulty with camping in an open field. I’m used to finding trees to hang my lantern.

Saturday showed us that a lot of people didn’t get there until well after dark. This place got pretty crowded. We slept a little extra, so didn’t make it to the demo event until well after they had already begun.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

2013 Brown County Breakdown

2013 Brown County Breakdown

The wife and I got to test a nice variety of bikes. She came away with the conclusion that she loves her Santa Cruz Blur XC Carbon. That’s an outstanding conclusion, because it’s nearly a $7,000 bike! I came away liking my bike better than most of the bikes I rode, but I focused on riding things different than my own bike.

What I most wanted to demo, though, wasn’t a particular bike. I wanted to try out a bike or two with the SRAM XX1 group. I got my wish, by taking out a Giant carbon 29er hardtail.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

I loved the XX1 setup. It was quiet, offered the gearing that I wanted, and the shifting was spot on. The bike was fast, but I’m just too used to an XC FS bike and didn’t like the harshness of the hardtail. I also noticed the 29er wheels in a glaringly negative way on this bike. I found myself going too wide on most tight corners with this bike. I could probably adapt to it, but the bike’s handling felt too slow to me.

I didn’t take pictures of every bike I test rode. After the HT, I rode a Giant 6″ FS bike. I felt like the bike took all the fun out of the trail I rode (I demo’d all the bikes on the same Pine Loop/North Gate Connector course). It would be a great bike on a really chunky trail, but this was not that trail.

After that bike, I managed to get on the fatbike that Kona brought along. I’m surprised there was only one fatbike on offer. I didn’t like it at all. I’ve ridden a couple fatbikes before (the Surly Krampus and the Salsa Mukluk) and this sucked. A big part of it was the ridonkulous handlebar on it. Super super swept back, forcing me into an excessively upright position. For a size L frame (I usually ride a M), this was disconcerting. The handlebar was also too narrow for being swept so much. Handling was too twitchy. I realize Kona wanted to build a fatbike on a budget with this one, but it’s a failure. This bike isn’t half as fun as the Mukluk I rode. Even the Krampus (which I didn’t care for) was more of a fun bike.

We missed the main departure before dawn on Sunday. Those riders got out soon enough before the rain began that they got some trail miles under dry conditions before it got wet. Gearing up Sunday, it was obvious the weather would get sketchy. We hoped it wouldn’t last too long.

Gearing up for the 2013 Brown County Breakdown from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

We were wrong. Light rain pretty much all day, with periods of heavier showers. No storms, at least. Trails were wet and a little slick when we started with a smaller group of other riders, but it was clear that the trails weren’t going to get better. In fact, I expected that once folks left the main BCSP mtb trails, conditions would get sketchier fast. I wasn’t wrong about that.

Climbing Hesitation Point in the Mist During the 2013 Brown County Breakdown from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

It was beautiful out, though, in spite of the rain. The mist in the valleys when climbing up to Hesitation Point was very cool. Reminded me a lot of my last trip to Pisgah several years ago. I need to go back. The Friends of BCSP ran a very nice Sag station at the lookout. Lots of good food to stave off the bonk.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

We skipped Walnut, because sliding off rocks is not my idea of fun. After riding Limekiln, which at the time had spots in awesome shape, but also spots in terrible shape, we decided to bail on further trail riding and take the roads back. I gave up on my goal of riding 50mi that day, and the wife cut her day short, too.

In spite of the rain, I still got a PR on the HP climb. And I stopped to record vid of people trying the big rock garden in the rain.

After returning to the campground, it was time for cleaning up, eating roasted pig, and listening to a little bluegrass.

2013 Brown County Breakdown

2013 Brown County Breakdown 2013 Brown County Breakdown

2013 Brown County Breakdown

Yay for the bike wash station!

2013 Brown County Breakdown

2013 Brown County Breakdown

Oh yeah, thanks to Upland Brewing and Big Woods/Quaff On! for the beer provided Friday and Saturday nights. I’m told that last year, event attendees didn’t finish the beer that was provided. Are you kidding me?! We sure finished it this year. Here’s hoping for good times (and better weather) for next year’s Breakdown.

Holiday Activities and 2013 Fitness Goals

As with the rest of you, my holidays have been pretty busy spending time with family and friends and doing the holiday party circuit. I’m trying to avoid gaining more weight, as I already weigh more than I want to (last check at 184lb) and I think I managed to avoid that.

I tried to make time to be active over the holidays, too. The first of those was the 2012 edition of the 5k’s of Christmas, which I ran 2 winters ago also. This time it was held in Carmel’s Central Park.

Apparently, I didn’t write a post about the 2010 race, but here’s that one, which was held in downtown Indy along the canal.

Both routes were very nice. Both were also very snowy. Though I think the snow was cleared better for the 2010 race. This time, there were some lengthy sections with some treacherous ice. I saw some people slip, but fortunately didn’t hear of anyone falling and hurting themselves. Along the icy sections, I found myself running in the snow on the side of the path most of the way. I’m also pretty happy with my time. The last run I had done was the June Blueberry 5k in Nacogdoches, TX, seen below.

My stats for both races are VERY similar, and I’m pretty darn happy for that considering the lack of running in my schedule this year as I finished my thesis.

When my wife came to Indianapolis last spring, we decided we were going to do the Mini Marathon in 2013, so when registration opened up, we signed up and committed to doing it. It’s her second half marathon (she did the Nike Women’s in San Francisco in 2011), but it’ll be my first. I REALLY want to get rid of the gut I developed during my leukemia recovery and has proven to be pretty persistent. I had my weight down in the low 170’s, but all the time I spent sitting at the computer finishing my thesis allowed me to put about 10lb back on.

I have started doing a “6 week 6 pack” ab/core workout plan and have made it through week 1 on that one, and I have begun my half marathon training, also. The wife and I signed up to the local YMCA so we could make use of the treadmills and indoor track during bad weather this winter (and avoid running in the sketchy neighborhood we live in right now). We will try to do our long runs outside on some of the greenway paths around town to mix it up. Our families think we’re nuts for exercising outside this time of year at all.

I also made some time to get some bike riding in. This past weekend, mayor Ballard hosted the 2013 Polar Bear Pedal in downtown Indy. It began at the City Market (at the Bike Hub YMCA), looped around downtown, and went through Fountain Square and to Garfield Park before looping back to the starting point. It ended up being about a 10 mile celebration of bike commuting and showcasing parts of the Cultural Trail and some of the bike lanes on the southeast side of the city.

A number of local media outlets covered the event: WTHR13, Fox59, IndyStar Slideshow, IndyStar writeup, also. At least 900 people registered for the event, and most sources are suggesting that possibly over 1,000 actually attended. I think it’s an awesome show of support for bike commuting in the dead of winter, and a show of support for the mayor’s efforts to expand bike lane coverage around town.

The part of the city I live in right now isn’t the most conducive to bike commuting, but I’m hopeful when the wife and I finally get our house in TX sold and can afford to find a better place, we’ll be able to choose a place in an area with better bicycle infrastructure. I’m also pretty sure my bike commute will get quite a bit longer as compared to TX. That was an easy 3-4mi but I could see the distance easily doubling. For the most part, there aren’t many hills so my SS gearing will probably still work out for me. Of course, gotta get that job search taken care of first.

All in all, I think 2013 is looking pretty good. I wouldn’t call them resolutions so much, but I have some sound fitness goals for the year.

1. Get rid of my gut.
2. Run my first half marathon (hopefully will go hand in hand with #1).
3. Do a 50mi mtb ride before the end of the year.

Coupled with a few general outdoors goals

1. Do more backpacking and camping.
2. Paddle the canoe more.
3. Actually get out and hunt so I can source a significant portion of my meat from hunting.

And some goals for this website

1. Post weekly about my exercise and training progress.
2. Post more photos.
3. Post more videos.
4. Engage my readers more (as few as you are) by offering some free stuff this year for reader contributions (details to come as I decide how to do this).

Of course, for the photos, I’m not going to lug my DSLR everywhere. Somewhere, somehow, my wife lost the charger for our little rugged camera so I think I just need to suck it up and order a new one. If we had it, we’d probably have had some photos and maybe a couple short vids of the 5k’s of Christmas run and the Polar Bear Pedal. And of course, I need to make better use of the GoPro. I also have Costa Rica vids I need to edit/compile that have some surfing lesson footage and zipline footage.

I hope 2013 is good for my readers, too.

Thesis Defense is Done!

If you’ve been following me, you’re aware I’ve been working on a master’s degree. This week I took a huge step towards moving on to the next phase of life. I had my thesis seminar, followed by the defense of my thesis. My committee chose to sign off on my work, so I’m that much closer to graduating. I do have some edits that need to be made to the thesis document itself, so I have about a month of work left to do. After that, I should be increasing my trip frequency and gear use, which should increase the frequency of my posts.

For now, I’d like to leave you with a short vid I included into my seminar. It’s really simple, but it went over well. I put it right at the point where folks were getting a little bored of some of the details to wake them up.

15 Days from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

It’s been a long journey. I started this program in 2008, before I got sick. I spent nearly a year undergoing treatment for leukemia, and probably another 6-8mo after that just getting my head into the game again. Chemobrain definitely put me into a fog for a spell. It’s better now, but not gone. So glad to be finishing all of this.

Tyler State Park 23 September 2012

I’ve been busting my tail on my thesis lately and not doing much else, so when a friend invited me out to Tyler SP on Sunday with the Morning Glory Yoga Run Club, I had to come. Most of the group was there to do a 16mi trail run in training for the Tyler Marathon. The longest run I’ve done has been just over 4mi (partially on trails, I might add) so I wasn’t up to that. But the time would give me the opportunity to do the whole ABCD loop.

The most I’d previously done was the ABC loop with my wife. I love riding with my wife, but she has neither the bike fitness nor the technical skills for CD, really. C was over her head the last time we did it together and I apologized profusely, as I didn’t know exactly how rough it was. I put my photos inside the map this time around, so click on the waypoints and the popups will have the photo thumbnails. If you click them, you’ll get to see the full sized image on flickr.

There appears to be a temporary error with displaying this file. I was getting a FETCH_ERROR and TIMED_OUT, which appears to be a problem on Google’s end. I hope that gets worked out. Until then, here’s a photo slideshow. If you really want to see the map, it appears if you refresh it enough, it will eventually display.

Here’s my Strava embed if you’re interested in my ride stats at all. I had to stop a few times. The loop C switchbacks are a beast. I haven’t been able to clean them yet. My first attempt I went over backwards. This time I made it about halfway up before hitting something (I don’t remember what) and tumbling down the hill. The big climb on the backside of loop B is tough. It’s a long one and after riding everything else, I find myself needing a break JUST before the top at one of the false flats. I do apparently have a respectable pace when I’m moving along. On my lap of AB after doing ABCD, I managed 15th overall out of the whole pack of nearly 60 riders who have done this loop. Not bad when I’m pretty exhausted already.

I brought the GoPro along and took some video. I admit, I didn’t put a lot of effort into getting a bunch of angles. I was honestly more interested in riding. Got some chesty footage and some rear-facing footage. I chopped it all up so nothing is in order.

Tyler State Park 23 September 2012 from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

I am absolutely beat. A warm bath with epsom salts did me well, but I’m still going to be hurting tomorrow morning. Do I bike to the office, or do I use one of my single-day parking passes and rest my muscles? I think that will be a game day decision.

Long Time No Post

It has indeed been awhile since my last update. I’ve been BUSY trying to get my thesis done. I really haven’t done much GPS tracking of any rides lately because I’ve just been riding when I can. And lately, that’s meant lots of commuting duty so I can keep my cycling legs under me.

The Pompetamine has been getting some miles on it lately. It’s also had some changes since I posted up my original build pics. Here’s what I’ve done to it:

It’s the wet season, so I threw on some SKS full fenders so I can keep drier. I also had to get some narrower tires so the fenders would fit. The rear end of this frame has plenty of width, but tire height is a bit of an issue with fenders. I had some 38’s on it, but I dropped down to 32’s. They’re smoother and faster on pavement and can still take a little dirt. But they’re no gravel grinder tire. If I want to do that, I’ll have to remove the fenders to put the old 38’s on.

I put a smaller 42t chainring on instead of the 46t. I found starts from stoplights to be a PITA on the 46t, and I’ve got a bit of a climb on my way home that was just a beast every evening. The 42t just takes the edge off of the climb and starting from stoplights takes a lot less effort. 42×18 works for me on my commute.

I got a Portland Design Works rack just last week. Boy is this thing nice. Bamboo deck, aluminum construction (even bamboo dowels inserted into some of the aluminum tubing), and curvy, sexy lines. This isn’t grandpa’s utilitarian rack. This one has some design put into it to make it LOOK nice.

More reflective tape to increase visibility and a MagicShine taillight.

Now for the pics (and a vid):

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Check out that sexy rack. I don’t have any panniers just yet, though. But you can be sure I’ll pick some up. I’ll probably get a set of waterproof ones. I also want to move the taillight from the seatpost out to the end of the rack, but it’s designed to attach to a round post, not the tab. I have some scrap pvc and I might rig something up.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Rear view. You can see the round light on the seatpost here.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

I had to get creative for the front fender attachment to get around the disc brake caliper. First, I needed to use a longer bolt with a shim to get the plastic bracket away from the disc tab. Then, I bent the fender stays around the caliper. I did all that bending with just two pair of pliers. A vise sure would have helped out a lot there.

On-One Pompetamine commuterOn-One Pompetamine commuter

Checking out the reflective bits on the bike. You’ll notice something about the rims. I got these wheels built up with Velocity Dyad REFLECTIVE rims. Do you see them reflecting here? Barely. If you notice in the horizontal picture where the light hits the front of the front wheel that maybe 1/4 of the rim is reflecting brightly and another 1/4 of the rim is reflecting faintly. That pales in comparison to the reflective sidewall of my Crucible tire. I’m a little miffed that the reflective effect of the rims is that wimpy.

Here’s a vid of most of the active lighting on the bike (the brand new wheel blinkie is dead…must have blinked in the store for hours or something). Pay no attention to the audio here. That noise is the focus on the camera. I have the headlight on blink, actually, but the frame rate of the camera is too slow to catch it. The taillight is good, and motorists appear to be able to see it in the daylight just fine. I seem to be plenty visible to people around here without extra hi-vis clothing, even. Now, people do drive EXTRA cautious around here, though. I have passed more than one person on my bike crossing the railroad tracks going UPHILL. It seems to be sport to go 10mph under the speed limit. It’s enough to drive you crazy when you learned to drive in big cities and when you get in the car you just want to get somewhere for cryin’ out loud.

Commuting here is spoiling me in many respects. Drivers around here mostly don’t yell at cyclists. I can remember being yelled at once since I moved here in 2008 and I have more road miles here than in any of my previous residences. And even then, it was just dumb kids. No idiot rednecks in pickup trucks (though I do live in rural Texas and there are PLENTY of pickups – none of them care to cause any trouble), no aggressive businessmen in too much of a hurry, nobody’s thrown anything at me, none of that. The worst I get are the clueless students. In some ways they’re more dangerous because they’re unpredictable. There’s a half-roundabout at the main entrance to campus that I use to exit sometimes. It used to be two-way, but it was somewhat recently changed so that it’s now a one-way loop. It really simplifies traffic flow there. But there’s the occasional idiot that enters at the exit in spite of the prominent “DO NOT ENTER” signs, paint on the street, and whatnot. I was waiting at the exit on my bike a few times when people have entered there. It’s quite scary to see headlights bearing down on you head on and you’re just standing there straddling the bike. I do my best to scare the crap out of those idiots. I’ve successfully had one group actually stop and get out of their car. Small lessons, right?

Saturday’s Ride (in Video)

Today’s ride was interesting. Due to the video recording, we weren’t getting a big workout. Mostly just sessioning on the flow trails to get some interesting video. I wanted to practice getting off-the-bike shots with my GoPro.

We had to scrape a guy off the trail on the Downhill loop when he cased it hard trying to ride the drop and made a divot in the trail with his face. Some first aid and he got hauled to the ER to check him out for a concussion and a broken nose.

Please, folks, when riding this sort of stuff, do a few things:
1. Wear a helmet, and if you ride particularly aggressively or clumsily, a full-face model.
2. Know your limits. Don’t let testosterone and peer pressure push you into doing something you’re not comfortable with.
3. Inspect technical features before you ride them. You definitely want to scope out your line so you enter and exit the feature the best you can (and determine what’s required of you to clear it), but at minimum you need to inspect the obstacle itself for safety.


I was playing around with some old footage from my GoPro and getting an animated map to follow my track. It’s not exactly how I’d like it, but it’s a little taste of what’s possible.

I used Sony Vegas HD Platinum 10 for my video editing. The animated map I created using ESRI’s ArcScene 10 (part of the ArcGIS 10 package) and a shapefile of Scooby that I traced over a GPS track (the large number of trackpoints in my actual GPS tracks makes ArcScene act a bit wonky). It’s not exactly feasible for most folks to make use of ArcScene, but as long as you can export your GPS flyover as an .avi file, you should be golden.

One-One Pompetamine (Road Bike Commuter Project #5 – Finished)

This post has been a few weeks in the making, but please forgive me. I’ve been riding my new bike when I haven’t been working. It’s nice that even though my workload has increased, my riding miles have also increased because of this new bike.

On-One Pompetamine CommuterThe great thing about this bike is that it doesn’t matter where I take it. It can handle trails OR roads. Now I’m not doing Scooby at the SFA Rec Trails on this thing, but I can get a dose of dirt on it when I need one.

I took the opportunity today to get some daytime pics of the bike. I’m still trying to get good nighttime pics that really show off the glowing frame, but that’s much more challenging to actually pull off than you might expect. Since my first pics of this bike (in the dark on my patio), I have added some reflective tape on the fork legs and the seatstays. I used Duck brand reflective tape from Walmart. It advertises a pretty serious adhesion, so I put down some black electrical tape first in case I need to remove the reflective stuff. So far so good with it. It’s a pretty flexible tape that works well for this sort of application. When I install fenders, I’ll be putting more of it on, but I wanted to get started.
On-One Pompetamine Commuter
I’m really loving the mustache bars. If you don’t recall from a previous post, they’re Mungo bars from On-One. I really like the comfort of these things for commuting purposes. I settled on a 110mm stem with a 17* rise, and 25mm of carbon spacers IIRC. This position is upright enough to maintain visibility, but aggressive enough to keep a relatively aero position when I need to cut the wind.

On-One Pompetamine Commuter

I commute with a 2010-era Magicshine headlamp on a 6.0mAh battery from Geoman’s batteries are pretty solid. I also have a pair of his 4.0mAh batteries that I use for mountain biking (one of them for my second lighthead that my wife will use, or I will loan to friends who need one since my wife doesn’t night ride often). I plan on adding a Magicshine tail light, and moving my old Blackburn blinkie to the back of my helmet.

Have I sung the praises of Brooks saddles yet? I might start sounding a little hipster for this, but I dearly love the one I put on this bike, and I’d buy a new one at full retail for my next bike with no hesitation. Several people have commented on how hard it is. Honestly, it’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever had on a bike! It does squeak a bit at the hardware on the front, but a little lube will take care of that. It’s easily worth the comfort, though.

On-One Pompetamine Commuter

I keep going back and forth about the drivetrain. I’m running 46×18 gearing right now and it can be a little on the high side for the hills. But then I’ll go the other way 5 minutes later and say that as my leg strength improves, it’ll be less difficult to ride up the hills on my commute. They’ve always been doable, but my major complaint is that I can work up quite a sweat, even when it’s 43 degrees F outside like it was the other morning. I definitely don’t want to be sweating like that when it’s warm out. I may push the taller gears this winter, and then drop the gearing for summertime to reduce my exertion.

On-One Pompetamine CommuterAnother note about this bike: if you chose to build one with On-One’s fork, do yourself a favor and start out with Centerlock hubs AND Centerlock rotors. I bought a wheelset with Centerlock hubs because On-One “recommends” Centerlock on this bike. And for the frame, sure, I’d go with “recommend” as a reasonable term. 6-bolt is tight on the back end, but you can make it work. The front end is a different story altogether. I attempted to install Avid Cleansweep G2 6-bolt rotors with the Origin-8 Centerlock adapters. When I got everything installed, the wheel would not rotate! The bolt heads were hitting the fork leg, preventing the wheel from rotating freely. I had to break down and order some Centerlock rotors. I ordered the Shimano SLX SM-RT64 rotors, and so far I like them quite a lot. They were such a breeze to install with the same lockring tool I use for my cassette. Even with the proper rotor, the clearance on this fork is TIGHT! Here’s my recommendation: don’t even try to use 6 bolt rotors or adapters. It’s entirely possible that some combinations might work, but is all that trial and error really worth it?

And finally, it’s been a little while since I posted any videos. A photo project on convinced me to pull the GoPro out and get some video of my commute. I tried a couple angles, but these were the only ones that worked out. Helmet and handlebar. I’ve seen some pretty disastrous handlebar mount vids, but I think that option works out great on the road bike. I tried a stem mount pointing up to get a view of my face, but my stem angle prevented me from getting the aim right…and all you could see was my torso. That one needs an extension on this bike, and I didn’t have a lot of time to fuss with it.

Bike Month Weeks 2 & 3 and Tyler State Park Apocalypse Ride

I didn’t post any updates for awhile and I apologize. I had finals to deal with and hardly went to the office at all. And when I did, there was bad weather brewing so I wound up driving. So Week 2 was a wash. I didn’t bike to work, but then again I hardly drove, either. Week 3 was another matter. I biked in most of the week but wound up driving a couple of days for inclement weather forecasts. The forecast bad weather those days didn’t end up happening until well after dark, so I felt cheated.

I made up for it (sortof) by doing some mountain biking on Saturday. I figured if the rapture actually WAS going to happen, I’d rather be mountain biking once the fit hit the shan. Of course nothing happened, so I still got to have a fun day in the woods. In the process, I also snagged all of the geocaches in Tyler State Park.

I deviated from the trails a couple of times while searching for geocaches. Stash the bikes in the woods and hike the rest of the way. Some of the caches in the park are pretty good ones, but the park appears to be a black hole for trackables. Eight were listed on cache inventories and none of them were actually there. It’s too bad because I had a neat geocoin that needs dropping off somewhere. I’m not going to leave it somewhere it’s likely to disappear, though.

I had the GoPro along for the trip. I think I really need to get a spare battery or the battery bacpac because I was running out of juice well before the end of the ride…and I didn’t even try to record any cache searching. I still got some good video.

It was a great ride. Mel really rocked the trails today. She rode with confidence I’ve never seen her possess on the bike before. Rooty climbs – no hesitation. She attacked them. Rooty descents with speed and small drops. She attacked those with confidence, too. I was hoping to spend some time sessioning with her on some downhills at the edge of her comfort zone, but she blew away my expectations and she tried way more than she has before. I’m totally proud, and she tells me she had fun, too. And, compared to our ride of these same trails in 2008, she rocked in the fitness department, too. She rode way more trail this time.

Tyler State Park, 21 May 2011 from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

I could have done without her leaving my second pair of sunglasses at one of the geocaches. But thankfully I had a waypoint for where she left them and I was able to return and retrieve them. It’s also fortunate that the boy scout troop out geocaching that day had visited the cache before we did. Otherwise, we might not have recovered the shades.

We probably should have skipped the C loop, though. Mel was getting tired by then and didn’t ride much of it. And of course by the time we got back onto the B and A loops where the trail was less technical, she was really thrashed and we had to stave off the bonk.

For my efforts, I was pretty happy overall. Commuting this past few weeks by bike has helped to strengthen my climbing legs, which is one of the things lagging a bit in my cancer recovery. I was essentially singlespeeding the A and B loops. I don’t think I shifted gears once until I hit the C loop. The C loop got me in some of the technical spots. The switchbacks were a beast, but thankfully I’m not the only one. I spoke to an older gent who went up them just after me who was dabbing in the same spots I did. It’s not so much the steepness of them, but the radius of them that gets you I think. I took a bad line on the first one and had a nice spill.

I have some work to do on my videography skillz. I changed up the POV angles more this time, which was an improvement. And despite the ease of use of the chesty mount, it really does a good job of providing shaky video. Not a fan. I think I’ll be using more helmet mount in the future. It’s a lot more stable. I should also find some locations for an adhesive mount or two on my frame. Maybe a second bar/seatpost mount so I can get some shots of my face. I have some room for improvement, at any rate.

Bike Month Week 1

For the first week of bike month, I was able to commute every day of the week, totaling about 35mi. Weight 178.2, BF 12.3% (I was apparently dehydrated when I stepped on the scale). Not a huge amount, but I do have a short commute. I compiled a video showing one of my route options (the one with some dirt).

Week 1 Bike Month from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

Here’s my main commuter: It’s a 2000 Diamondback Topanga Comp.

Commuter Bike

I bought this bike new in the spring of 2000, which makes it 11yrs old right now. It has a lot of the stock parts still, but I’ve had to change some things over the years. The rear derailleur was the first to go – it was a trail casualty on the first mountain bike ride this bike took. There’s an XT RD on it now. I had to swap the wheels because I mashed a rim pretty bad on another ride. New seatpost and seat because I sat down too much early on and I was hard on those parts. I swapped the cockpit out a couple of times. First, to get rid of the heavy stock bars and then later I swapped the bars & stem from my FSR because I wanted wider bars on this one. New shifters because the stock Deore ones died after 10yrs.


Important to the commuting function of this bike, I put some Snafu BMX platforms on it. They’re still trail-worthy (and also winter-friendly), but they allow me to wear any shoes I’d like and I don’t have to change out of my cycling shoes into shoes for walking around. Note that these pedals have replaceable pins. This isn’t a big deal for commuting, but it is one feature that makes these pedals trail-worthy. Use most cheap platforms on the trail and your feet will be slipping everywhere. These will grip your shoes tight.

rope light

I also have various lights for the bike. My headlamp is temporarily out of commission, but I still have a rope light wrapped around the frame (pictured above) that I bought at REI and I have my rear blinkie (seen farther above). I also have reflective tape all over the place to improve visibility. People give me a WIDE berth at night because my bike is lit up like a UFO. Better to be obnoxious and seen than unseen and hit by a car.

AirZound Horn

AirZound Horn

I also make use of an AirZound horn (I think Delta makes them now). The first picture shows the air reservoir and the second shows the horn itself. The air reservoir holds up to 80psi and it’s rechargeable with a simple bike pump. This thing is LOUD. Loud enough, in fact, to get people’s attention inside their cars with the radio on. I don’t use it often where I live now because people seem to pay a little more attention. But it has helped me in the past to avoid being hit by getting drivers’ attention.

You might notice in the above pictures the tires I use. They’re Specialized FastTrack Pros. Essentially, they’re a low-profile micro-knobby. I use 2.0’s on this bike. They roll well on the pavement and give enough traction for the occasional bit of dirt. Because I tend to take this bike in the dirt on part of my commute, I’m hesitant to put full slicks on it.