Archive for January, 2010

Today we woke up with intention of trucking out to Valley Forge and back.  The Schuylkill River trail runs all the way out of the city, through Manayunk on to Valley Forge National Park.  It looks like a nice little ride– about 22 miles each way.  After last weekend’s successful trip to Camden we were pumped and ready for a challenge.  After checking the weather to make sure it wasn’t going to snow we bundled up, packed a lunch and headed out.

I was enjoying the *crisp* breeze on my face as we headed out along Chestnut Street to the start of the trail.  We were both excited to see that the trail was completely empty so we could ride side by side.  As we cruised down the hill leading to the Art Museum it suddenly struck me– it is 15 degrees outside.  I was freezing.  Feeling like a big wuss I told Pat we had to go back home, I simply could not ride 42 more miles without my fingers falling off.  I like my fingers.

We’ve spent the rest of the day sipping hot tea, working on various projects and playing Mass Effect 2 (okay, that one is all Patrick).  So we’ll file today’s attempt at cycling to Valley Forge under “Misadventure” and carry on.  Here’s to a hopefully toasty February!


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My brakes

I had auxiliary brake levers put on my road bike when I first got it and recently had the same thing done to my Trucker.  When I bought my road bike, I’d never ridden a bike with drop handlebars before and was pretty terrified of riding such a speed demon with my face all bent over the street like that.  Now I have a little more experience under my helmet and my bike is a little more manageable but I love the comfort and security auxiliary brakes give me.  It’s really nifty how they work– at first I thought they were like those scary “suicide brakes” which are not very reliable (hence the name).  Instead these actually interrupt the main brake line so you get two fully functional brake systems.   The only problem I can see this causing is that it takes away the space on your handlebar where a front storage bag would go.  Guess I will just have to let Pat hold my purse…

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Camden Waterfront

It’s a gorgeous, mild winter day today– perfect weather for our jaunt over the Ben Franklin bridge to the Adventure Aquarium.  We rode across Grey’s Ferry bridge to get to the B.F. which was a good way to avoid traffic in Center City.  The bridge has a nice little climb up to the middle where we stopped to take some pictures.  Of course we loved the cruise down the Jersey side of the bridge.  Camden has a really nice path along the waterfront so we rode around that a bit before we ventured into the aquarium.  We rode about 20 miles today.

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Europe Map v.1

Yesterday we mapped out a potential map for getting around Europe.  This will be the first 6 months of our trip.  As the route stands it will cover about 5,400 miles but we have a few options we’re still working out so that could vary a bit.  This is a VERY preliminary map, we made huge “legs” for the trip just to get us around the map.  This is definitely a project that requires some time and planning! 

This map has us riding up the western coast of the Balkan peninsula.  Another option we’re considering is taking the bikes on a train from Istanbul to Budapest and then continue on through Austria making a stop in Vienna.  Then on to Prague and Berlin.  From there we could either bike further west to Warsaw and possibly Moscow or just take the Tras-Siberian railway (our transportation across Russia) directly from Berlin.

We’re both really excited about this route, it’s definitely do-able in the timeframe we’ve set out!

Tomorrow we’re off on an adventure to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.  Hopefully the sun will shine and I can take some good pictures on our journey over the Ben Franklin bridge.

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On Friday Pat and I took the Truckers out on little ride.  We took the Schuylkill River Trail out to Forbidden Drive, which is in our old neck of the woods.  It was a nice little ride and took us about two hours total.  I liked being able to practice on some of the hilly sections– downhill is definitely more fun!

The Wissahickon Creek

 My first upgrade for this bike is a new saddle (apparently you do not call it a “seat,” oh the things we learn!).  My buns were screaming, let me tell you what!  I am off to do reasearch on the comfiest, most shock absorbent saddle there is!

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Yesterday’s “Place to See” on Patrick’s “Places to See Before You Die” calendar (thanks, mom!) featured a place called Rotorua on North Island, New Zealand.  According to the calendar Rotorua is the center of a thermal field.  What is that?, I wonder.  After a little research I have found that these are areas on the Earth’s surface where cracks have opened up in the crust.  These are called “fumaroles” and they usually emit gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur and often interact with the groundwater.  How cool!  I have never seen anything like this but I imagine it would be very intriguing– when else do you get to experience the “guts” of the Earth?

I checked out Lonely Planet’s entry on Rotorua and it mentions that the city is known as Sulphur City because of the ever-present stench of rotten eggs.  Yummy!  It also said there is an active geyser there that shoots hot water 20-3o meters into the air and many bubbling mud baths.  Let’s bookmark this one for the trip!

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We’re still  early in the planning process so I don’t have a lot to update.  I figured I’d take this opportunity to share some harrowing tales of my bicycling adventures to date.  Let’s focus on several of my less than successful attempts to outmaneuver the world on my bike, shall we?

Round 1: Liz vs. The Hidden Driveway

Tweedly-dee I am minding my business, cruisin’ down the streets of Ann Arbor when all of a sudden- BAM! Car in my face!  Over the handlebars I go, thank god for that helmet! 

Score: Liz- 0; Hidden Driveway- 1; Cheap Wal-Mart Bike- also 0

Round 2: Liz vs. The Curb

Wowie, I am awesome riding this super fast road bike around the streets of Philly!  Oh no, now it is raining, I am going to hop up on this sidewalk to get out of the scary street.  BAM! Face plant into the sidewalk! Thank god for that helmet!  An observing motorist locks his doors as I scape myself off the pavement– Brotherly Love!

Score: Liz- 0; The Curb- 1

Round 3: Liz vs. The Trolley Tracks

Tra-lala it is a beautiful day and I’m going on a bike ride with Pat!  What’s that, a funny joke?  I am laughing and having fun!  Whoa, now I’m swerving all over the road… BAM! Wheel caught in the trolley tracks and me flat on the pavement.  Commence loud wailing and little-girlish crying.  Thank god for that helmet though!

Score: Liz- 0; Trolley Tracks-1

Round 4: Liz vs. The Cab Door

Uh-oh, I am running late for work, I better sneak past all these cars waiting for the light so I am first in line when it changes to green… BAM! Door in my leg!  Swear words!!

Score: Liz-0; Cab Door-1

Let’s total it up, shall we?  Looks like Liz has scored a whopping ZERO points against the world and, well, we just won’t mention the other team’s score…

So what have we learned?  You will very rarely win on a bike.  Most of my accidents happened because I was inexperienced and in a hurry.  It is important to remember that you will never, ever EVER win in an accident against a car.  Always wear your helmet, turn on your lights at night, and ride with the flow of traffic.  These are the things I’ve learned so far, hopefully I won’t have to learn the “hard way” anymore!



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