Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just Another Sunday

Another sunday and another ride at the Shed. This time Pat rounded up some folks to come down from Pa to ride some Fredrick single track. The boys and girls from up north kept things moving and at a clip. There werent many photo ops as I was trying to hang on for much of the ride. Although the weather wasnt nearly as nice as last week, the rain hepd off until we finished up. The were several flat tires, but nothing to hold things up too much. Anyway, good to have the fine folks from Pa down and hopefully I will catch some of them on the trails soon.

Most of the group atop SofaKing...


Churtle is a climbing machine...



Regroup at the stone house...



Buck and Chad. Chad was sporting a fresh bike and Buck a new stash. I gave him a mangey haircut, topped off with spray paint at last years Tour de Burg...



Company comin'...



Meet Andy. He has been riding less than 2 years and hangs all day with the big boys...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Its Been a While

Its been 2 months since I have been out riding with the crew or out on single track at all in 2 months, as the trails here have been quietly snoozing under a think blanket of snow. On the 1st climb up to the ridge trail, I could feel the time away from the mountains and thought my heart might jump out of my chest, but after another 10 or 15 minutes, I regained my composure and settled confortably into the pace the group was setting. Several new bikes were in attendence and everyone seemed to be in good spirts, happy to be playing on the rocks once again. We rode the usual suspects and I was eager to take pictures of something other than my front wheel: namely my friends riding bikes. Here are a couple of images I captured today...

The sun rises over the ridge as we prepare for departure...

Pat makes some big moves on this steep climb. Picture do it no justice...








Chad putting the bike through the motions...



Pat got the photo, but it was Poz with the glory, cleaning the first climb on Newburg...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

White Line Nightmare

Some photos from this winter that I finally had time to go through. Experimenting with different settings and different cameras on my commutes and here is what I came up with.

The old Bridgestone still gets some play...




Squeeze...



Sunny day on the C&O...



For some reason I like taking pictures here...



This gate on North Cap gave a cool effect...



Gwadzilla's blog keeps me entertained and lately he has had a couple of bits on stolen bikes and their recovery, which made me remember a pretty good story from '92 or '93...

It was the early '90s in DC; the gravy days of the messenger business, before the anthrax attacks, 9/11, and the Beltway sniper. Yes, those were good ole days, before email and internet took over, when any burnout with a messenger bag could just stroll into pretty much any government office. Summer time was a time for college kids to try their hand at slinging packages and head back to school in the fall and brag about how they helped to save the world that summer delivering junk mail to thier congressman before the weather turned bad and the money got good. Yes, there was good money in the gig, if you were on top of your game and had paid your dues. My dues came during my first summer, fresh out of high school, in the form of a skull fracture, a broken right arm and fractured left, leaving me with a blood clot on my brain that gave me double vision for a week or so. Once I healed up I got right back in the game and stayed there for about 5 more years.

During a slow summer's day I sat in the lower level of 1350 New York Ave, which was home to Choice Courier in the early '90s. Dispatcher Mike Medina got word that Track Bike Steve's custom, double wishbone reared, burnt orange Spectrum track bike had been stolen. Me and some other messengers left the comfort of the office to roll around and keep an eyeball peeled for Steve's rig. I headed northeast into Shaw when I spotted a piper at the housing projects at 7th and M streets trying to ride the bike but unable to figure out why it wouldnt coast.

As I put the call out on the radio, the airwaves came to life with people relaying the information. I was with another messenger, possibly Eric Roman, and we confronted the crack head. "Cool bike. Where did you get it?" Before he could get a word out he was interrupted. "I dont think its yours." The piper began to make a scene and other residents started to gather. Keep in mind, it was a different place back then. No gourmet cafes, no hipsters and no convention center there. Things looked like they could get sketchy so we kept our distance for the moment. Other messengers began to arrive and someone wrestled the bike away from the thief who disappeared in projects.

I can only be sure of what I experienced and witnessed but according to Steve and confirmed piece by piece by various others, the story went like this: Steve was at a MOST machine (ATM) somewhere around 17th and Penn Ave where he leaned his bike as he withdrew money. In the reflection of the ATM he saw the rear wheel of his bike disappear. He ran into the alley, dropping his cash but the thief and bike where nowhere to be seen. He was with another messenger when he got the call that his bike had been spotted across town. He borrowed his friend's bike; another brakeless track bike, this one with SPDs rather than the clips and straps that Steve rode with. While making his way across town, he went over the hood of a car. The driver got out and wanted Steve to wait around for the police. A scuffle insued as the driver attempted to restrain Steve at which point Steve hit the driver dislocating his jaw. Steve came running up to scene with his buddy's bike on his shoulder. Steve grabbed his bike, shouldered the other with bent fork and buckled headtube and made his way back to base, and resumed work as normal.

So many reasons not to leave you bike locked up outdoors for weeks at a time...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Raging Waters

Recent heavy rains in the midst of the year's big thaw has brought the Potomac above flood level once again. I went out today to take a gander at the swollen Potomac which I have never seen so high. Great Falls was indistinguishable from the rest of the river. Just a massive swirling sea of white water flowing franticly through the trees, carrying docks, trees and even construction equipment downstream. It must have been 25 or 30 years ago when the brindge to Olmsted Island washed out and today the waters were knocking at the bottom of the deck. The railings were still up that bridge could be a gonner by first light if things continue to be on the rise.

Hunting Quarter Road was under a bit of water...





The bridge to Olmsted Island...





A much different scene last week...



FLASHBACK....

The spring of 2003 and was unusually wet in the Washington area and Phil, as well as myself, had been itchy for some excitement. It had been a couple of years since Phil and I had been night paddling out on the Potomac and the river was high after 3 days of rain. We thought this would make our travels a bit easier as a typical journey of this sort included portaging through rapids due to shallow water. We contacted some friends who supplied canoes and we began to assemble a crew, which was no easy task for Phil and I. Many of our friends knew the 2 of us to get hip deep in mischief at the drop of a hat and barely make it in to class/ work after the previous nights adventures. We had veterans Bob and Brad; the ladies Kay, Heater and Kathleen; and then there was Richard, a rather boulbous fellow who joked that he hadnt seen his own penis in 10 years.

Several groups of fishermen lined the shore of Seneca Creek upon our arrival but began to pack it in as the skies once again opened up. We all unloaded boats and life vests and wasted no time getting to the water's edge. Everyone grabbed a partner and shouted directions as they shoved off, drowned out by the peppering of heavy rains on the water's surface and thunder booming overhead. Bob and Heater were first on the water with Brad and Kathleen close in tow. Next was Richard and Kay followed up by Phil and myself opening fire on the rest with bottle rockets and roman candles. We all regrouped at the top of the first rapid and discussed our plan of action.

Bob and Heater glided through with ease, Brad and Kathleen following their lead. Phil and I waited for Richard and Kay, for they seemed to have trouble keeping the boat straight. Phil and I followed close behind into the splashing white water, but it wasnt long before they dumped the boat in the cold, spring waters. Phil shouted at them to hold onto the overturned boat, but Richard had already lost hold and was in the water up river. Phil and I made our way over to Kay who was clinging to her canoe. Phil told her to grab hold of the side of our boat while he tried to get a grip on her canoe. Still in whitewater and now off balance, we found ourselves sideways and eventually joined Kay in the water.

The air was only in the 50s with the water temperatures even colder; dangerously cold to be in for any length of time. We floated for a couple of minutes waiting to enter still water again, but the fierce water raged on. We tried to swim out of the current, but found it useless. Kay began to panic saying she didnt want die 6 hours before graduation so Phil and I found ourselves talking to her, calming her down slightly and keeping our own panic at bay. We floated along waiting for the current to let up or to be pulled ashore by one of the other canoes in the group. Phil began to panic as well, and at one point let go and began to drift away from Kay and myself, finding himself helplessly alone in the cold river, floating ever closer to great falls, but pulled himself together and grabbed hold once again.

In the water for some 10 minutes at this point, we began to shout for Bob. Eventually hearing our pleas, Bob and Heater pulled along side and I grabbed hold of their canoe telling them to take us to shore; any shore. Bob and Heater battled the currents and headed for an island in the middle of the river. I tried to hold firmly but began to feel my grip slip. I was so tired. I just wanted to rest, but others were counting on me. I was able to hold long enough to get to shore and collapsed face down in the mud shaking uncontrollably from hypothermia. I lay exhausted in the mud for a couple of minutes while Phil wandered about aimlessly muttering nonsense.

I got my bearings together enough to realize that my clothes were wet and keeping me cold so I began to undress. I took off my pack and my shell, which at this point was keeping water in rather than out, and joined the others in search for wood to get a fire started. Phil was still fully dressed and shivering uncontrollably, but eventually was able to understand that the clothes were doing him no favors at this point, and stripped as well.

Richard! Where was Richard?!? Upon last sighting, he was clinging to a small tree in heavy surf maybe 30 minutes ago. We told Bob that he and Heater needed to get back in the boat and go try to find him. They balked, but Richard would surely die if nobody went back out for him. As we stood on the shore discussing this, Richard floated right by the island at a good clip, waving his hands over his head, so Bob and Heater went in pursuit, hoping to reach him before he reached the falls. As the two paddled off, Brad, Kathleen, Phil and Myself attempted to get a fire started with wet lighters, paper and wood. Another 10 or so minutes and Richard was back on soggy land (but at least it was land) with his 2 rescuers while we still worked with the wet supplies to get some warmth. Richard casually walked up chuckling, which irratated both Phil and myself as we were in the water less than half the time he was, but he was much better insulated and dint even appear to be cold. Eventually we got the fire going good enough to dry some larger logs and before we knew it, the warmth began to soak in. Our clothes were hung on sticks around the fire to dry as we traded stories, food, smokes and beverages that somehow stayed dry up to this point in the night. We sat half naked on stumps and logs, telling trivial stories and making small talk. There is something implied, and you all know you just shared something big. Its something that only a person who has shared a near death experience with others can relate to. We sat around the fire waiting for the sun to rise so we might be able to find a land mark and see where we were on the river.

As the sun began to rise, we dressed ourselves in our toasty clothes and piled into the 3 remaining boats and paddled across the river to float along to shore and watch for a pull out which had been marked with some bags tied in trees. Not even 5 minutes had passed before we found our pullout, which was Swainslock and the last pullout before coming to the falls. We pulled our canoes ashore and carried them back to the lot where some more smoke were had and some photos taken before heading back upstream to fetch the other cars. We parted ways; most of us to bed, while Kay went off to graduation, never to be seen again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fredders Finally

My computer took a dump on me a couple weeks back so needless to say i havent been posting much, however I do have several hundred photos to sort through, some old, some new, so I will be keeping busy on here for the next couple of weeks. With the unusually high amount of frozen precip this winter, I havent been able to get out in the woods on a bike as much as I would like. I have been keeping busy with a photography project Im working on, doing a bit of writing as well as a little bit of snowboarding. This weekend was the first time I had been riding in the shed for a couple months due to the snow. I started out from Sand Flats somewhere between 0930 and 1000 to a nice firm surface. The endos dont grip too well, but I did manage to navagate the better part of the blue trail without issue. I then hopped on the road, making my way out toward Skink where I came across a couple locals who had their Ford explorer pretty well burried. I helped them for a while but eventually saw the futility in matter. I was wearing short sleeves and the warm sun was now high in the sky, ever softening the surface. I hiked for the last 30- 45 minutes back to the car as the snow was now too soft to support even the fattest of tires. I headed over to the canal and put in another 40 miles.

Following ski and snowshoe tracks...



Easy to loose the trail...



Self portrait...



I like the over exposure...



Reminds me of the Indian Ira Hayes..



Canal toward sunset...



Quite the sunset...



Sunset...