Category Archives: Bike

Lessons Learned on the Fat Bike Today

Today I finally got my butt outside and rode Helga! We went around the block, 7 miles. It took me less time than I expected. I’m more out of shape than I thought.

Lessons Learned on the Fat Bike Today

Lessons Learned in the Fat Bike Today

Get correct size cycling booties

The temperature was about 36F when I started my ride. I decided to try out my neoprene shoe covers, similar to these Pearl iZUMi Pro Barrier WXB MTB Shoe Cover 
to see if these would keep my feet warm. I believe I did not buy the right size, even though I bought a Large. I couldn’t get the shoe covers to attach in the back. Walking up the first hill, the left one pretty much detached and flopped along. I took it off and stuffed it in my pocket.If I can’t figure out if these are the right size, I’m going to take my friend’s advice and wear plastic baggies over my feet, under my sock. Same principal and cheaper. (The ride warmed up and it wasn’t even applicable.)

Wear Protective Lenses

As I rode down my first hill, I noticed the mud spattering all the way TO MY FACE! I knew I would get muddy, but didn’t expect to have mud on my face, in my mouth-and then-SPLASH-mud in the eye!

Why didn’t I wear my biking (safety glasses) or at least sunglasses with my contacts? It wasn’t sunny, so I didn’t see the need for them. Now I do!  Glasses will keep mud out of your eyes! And bugs!

Fenders Can Be Beneficial

I knew I was going to get muddy, but I didn’t anticipate HOW muddy I would be. Fenders are looking like a very good purchase for Helga in the very near future.

Lessons Learned on the Fat Bike Today

Get Something to Cover your Water Bottle With

I ride a muddy township road. We live among the Amish who also travel these roads. The Amish drive buggies, powered by horses. Horses leave their road apples everywhere. So that mud splashing up on me is not just mud, it’s mixed up with horse manure. Which led to me looking at my water bottle:

Lessons Learned on the Fat Bike TodayEw! I tried wiping off the little nozzle and just squirting the water into my mouth, not touching it to my lips. Next time, I think I might cover the top with a plastic baggie, therefore keeping the spout of it clean for me. Better safe than sorry.

I Need to Get Outside More

I had fun out there even with the mud splatters and pushing my bike up all the hills. I was pleasantly tired after, which means I need to go bike more!

Biking at the Beach

I finally went outside today! It’s the first time since about the first of the year that I opted outside!

Biking at the Beach

I was all set to do this great hike at Caesar’s Creek on my birthday..but the negative temperatures and unfamiliar terrain made me pause. Then it seemed the weather was wicked on my days off, and I was too wimpy and lazy to go outside. If I was still running, I would have been outside 5 days out of 7. Because that’s what ultra runners do. Since I no longer run, I no longer have a great training goal which gets me outside.  I need the outside, people.

Plan IT

Today, my day off from work, I planned to take Helga out. I settled on Salt Fork State Park, the home of many trail runs for me. I decided to go ride Helga on the beach, as I really haven’t spent much time on the beach area of the park.

Biking at the Beach

Juggling Clothes

Being a cyclist is much different than being a runner. I’m still struggling with what to wear biking versus running. The wind chill can be greater on the bike, and I have to think about feet staying warm biking.Biking at the Beach

No Wind

I lucked out today. It was about 24 F, but with little wind. The cold wind off a body of water can be killer cold.  I biked around the beach area.

Biking at the Beach

I wandered down a few mowed areas that I had never been to before. They weren’t very long.

Biking at the Beach

Nobody was out on this Tuesday noon, but I did see tracks that someone had been afoot lately.

Biking at the Beach

I was glad I broke my inside streak and opted outside. I love being outside and experiencing new places. I just need to plan my outings, to make sure I actually get out and do them!

Biking at the Beach

Bike Tours 2018

Bike Tours 2018

It’s time to plan some adventures for 2018! I have come up with four bike tours for 2018. I hope to make all of them happen!

Steel City Loop

This is about an 82 mile loop around the city of Pittsburgh. It will incorporate the Montour Trail, Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, and a little road riding. I could do this all in one day, but I may make a two day ride so I can stop and sight see around the trail. I hope to do this in the early springtime, maybe April.

Ohio to Erie Trail

The Ohio to Erie Trail goes from Cincinnati to Cleveland, 326 miles. I am going to ride this in the spring quarter before it gets too hot here in Ohio. I don’t know yet how many days I will take or which direction I will bike.

Northbend Trail

North Bend Trail is a trail located in northern West Virginia, spanning from Parkersburg to Clarksburg, 72 miles. From what I  have read, it’s a rather rough trail. I am planning on riding the fat bike on this trail. Fat Bike

I am planning on doing this in two days so I am not too rushed. Given that some of the trail  has mud sections, I am planning on riding this trail in midsummer when the mud should be dried out.

Greenbrier River Trail

Greenbrier River Trail is in southern West Virginia, 78 miles long. It appears that the trail has been repaired after the big floods that occurred.  This is more of a tentative plan, as the drive would be five or six hours to get to that corner of the state. But wouldn’t it be awesome to ride in October in the peak of fall foliage?

Any long bike trails you can recommend to me? Most of these are planned due to they are the closest to drive to, but I am always up for new ideas!

The New Biker Experience at Camp Tuscazoar

New biker


I bought a new bike! Meet Hellga, from Specialized.


I’d been curious about fat bikes. Or rather “fat tire bikes” for some time. I wanted a bike to ride in the winter, on my back roads around here, when my hybrid bike is up on the trainer. I had done some reading, and decided to just bite the bullet, and buy a bike.

The fat tire experience is different than my hybrid bike. The tires do “float” over objects,  like gravel. I would have never even thought about taking my hybrid into one of our pastures to ride there.

I was excited to be off work Monday and I headed to Camp Tuscazoar at 8 am! I’ve blogged about many experiences at Camp Tuscazoar. There has been many improvements to the trails there over the last few years.

East Side Trails

East Side Trails Camp Tuscazoar

On the East Side of the camp, there are newly built mountain bike trails. These are for the beginner rider. I helped out in the spring doing some trail maintenance.


Skills and Thrills

The trails are very well marked and signed. I was going to stay away from the “Skills and Thrills” until I read the description. It was for the youth and total beginner! That’s me!

You start off with a downhill (gulp) but it levels out. The trail is wide and there are no big ups or downs.

At the skills section, you can ignore all the skills and just ride through. Or you can practice going over a log; rocks; hopping off a bridge, both wide and narrow; biking on a log. I did just the very basic skills. I hopped off the little bridge, rode the bridge with the little hill. I did not try anything like biking on a log or trying to go over two logs at the same time.

This route is about 0.6 miles long. I think I rode it about five times before I ventured to the next upgrade, Hilltop Trail.

Hilltop Trail

This had many more ups and downs than the Skills Trail! I used my brake quite a bit on this. I am a total newby mountain biker.

I rode this trail again, then decided to add the North Slope. This trail had big switchbacks and berms!  There was much braking on this trail. I had to hop off Hellga and push her in a few places. I don’t have gearing quite mastered yet for this new bike.

After this, I rode the Skills Trail again and called it a day. I was tired! Hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow. These are excellent mountain bike trails for a newby!

Final Thoughts on my First Bike Tour

My Final Thoughts on my First Bike Tour

Final Thoughts

Time to wrap up the adventure that was Co Gap Bike Tour 2017!

Overall, I enjoyed my tour. It was neat to see new areas. It was good to learn that I can do multi day physical activity.


Lessons learned from first bike tour

Know how to change a bike tire all by yourself. It will happen. No kind strangers will come by. It’s up to you. Make sure you have all the components to change a tire: spare inner tube, bike tire levers, hex key, tire pump, gloves.

Mile 174 C&O Towpath

Fixed Bike. Almost fixed bike. Wheel is not correct on axle..yet

Be comfortable being on your bike. I bought a touring saddle from Terry. I was pretty comfortable on the bike until Day Seven, I did develop some chafing on my rear. I think that was due to the big uphill on Day Five. I could have done a better job with application of butt cream.

What I was glad I carried

Carry enough calories and water. Know where you can next get water if possible. I didn’t carry water purification tablet or system, but that is a good option.

Bug Spray! I forgot it on Day One but was okay. I could have used some more on Day Four fixing my tire on the trail-I had sweated it all off.

Allergy medicine-I took an allergy tablet every morning. When you are in a different state or region, you don’t know what plants or pollen may affect you.

Music-I was glad to have both music and podcasts available for some of my riding. As soon as I hit the edge of Pittsburgh, I put it away, I needed to concentrate on riding.


Camera-or phone, something to take pictures with and record moments. I recorded small things on my Evernote app.  This helped me remember when I wrote my blog posts.

I was glad, on this first bike tour,to sleep inside every night. The first thing I would do at the hotel was grab something to eat, like a cheese snack, and then shower! I’m sure having the air conditioning to sleep in was more restful than sleeping in my tent on the ground.

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

On the other hand, I missed out on that bit of adventure of bike camping. But there will be more opportunities to bike camp, I’m planning on two short bike camping adventures before the end of the year.


Final Day of my First Bike Tour

Final Day

The final day of my first bike tour! It was an early morning start. We (my husband) wanted to finish and be out of Pittsburgh as quickly as possible. I would have preferred a much slower amble but oh well. We were awake at 530am, out of the hotel by 630am, and a meandering way back to Smithton.

Back to Smithton

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

I was set for these last miles to Pittsburgh. I chucked everything out of the pannier except the bike repair kit and food. No need to carry the lock or dry shirt, I was going to the end.

Great Allegheny Passage Trai

It was another very overcast early morning but still hot and humid.

Acid Waterfall

Acid Waterfall Great Allegheny Passage Trai

One of the iconic views on this section of the Great Allegheny Trail is the acid water waterfall, which is acid mine drainage from an old coal mine. The water here is acid and iron-rich, coming up to the surface from underground mines, staining the rocks rust-red. Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a major source of water pollution and the cause of extensive stream degradation
and environmental damage.

Mile 131 Great Allegheny Passage Trai

Road? What road section?

I leave the little Boston Trail head area, the trail winds downhill…onto a road. With no markers. I don’t remember reading about a road section…I can see a bike tire in a mud puddle, so I go in that direction. I finally see cyclists in the distance and then there is an actual official GAP mile marker, I’m still on the correct trail!

Great Allegheny Passage Trai

Great Allegheny Passage Trai

Riding in the City

I got off trail right thru McKeesport, but two nice runners pointed out the trail to me, it was parallel to the road I was biking.This little fortress is a hostel in McKeesport. I’m not sure if I would want to stop in McKeesport at night, but if your biking plans leave you no choice there is this hostel available.Mile 139 Great Allegheny Passage Trai

I biked through the areas of Duquesne, The Waterfront and Homestead. The signage is not great here, in fact I asked another biker if I was still on the GAP Trail.

My Friend Cam

My friend Cam lives in the Pittsburgh area. I was just starting across the Hot Metal Bridge when he showed up to bike the final miles with me. Not only did we bike across the Hot Metal Bridge, we crossed back over the river to go through the South Side and cross again, this time on the Fort Pitt Bridge!

Meanwhile, my poor husband was wondering where I was..

Final Miles

Cam helped me get the bike up for the “money shot”.

My husband Dennis who deserves much credit being my “batman“. He picked me up at the trail

head and then delivered me back to the trail head in the morning.  Since he came along, there was somewhere to sleep every night and air conditioning and showers!

Sock monkey and my bike. A successful journey on a bike. The first time I had done sustained activity, day after day.  It was a very cool ride and I am glad to say this first bike tour will not be my last one!


Penultimate Day of my CO GAP Bike Tour

GAP Trail Day Six


This was my Penultimate Day of my CO GAP Bike Tour.

Day Six Start Rockwood Great Allegheny Trail

Big Mileage Day

When I had looked over the daily mileage, it looked like I was going to bike 60 plus miles on the last day into Pittsburgh, from Connellsville to Pittsburgh, Mile 88 to Mile 150. That was a bunch of miles for my seventh day on the trail.

The Steelers were playing in  Pittsburgh that Sunday afternoon. My husband hates cities and Pittsburgh driving-the combination of mountains, tunnels and rivers does not make Pittsburg an easy driving city.

The original plan was to end at mile 88 and sleep in Connellsville. I decided to push on past that town to Mile 110 Smithton. This would make the last day in Pittsburgh much shorter.  It  would be tough to bike past my hotel-but oh well.  This would be mile 44 from Rockwood to Mile 110 in Smithton-big miles!

Smithton GAP Trail

This was Laurel Highlands Day! One of my favorite spots on the planet.

Heading on out the trail, it was another day of seeing almost no bikers in the first few miles. I knew that would change as I got to Ohiopyle State Park.

Casselman River

The Gap Trail follows the Casselman River as I biked toward Confluence,  very scenic views to see besides the green tunnel.

Casselman River


I had never visited Confluence before. It was a quiet little town, very different than the rocking atmosphere found in Ohiopyle.

Leaving Confluence, I found Ohiopyle State Park begins right around Confluence. Then the steady stream of bikers began. You can rent bikes in probably six or seven bike locations in Ohiopyle. The stores must send them  all to the east, where the biker will be going on the slight uphill, meaning when they turn around, they can enjoy the slight downhill that I am enjoying.

Because I was born in 1966



Ohiopyle, my favorite trail town! It was packed, as to be expected on a Saturday.


Today I was dreaming of a hotdog for lunch. A chili cheese hotdog to be precise. I knew I could find it in Ohiopyle. While I would have loved to dine at the Falls City Pub for lunch, I knew the Falls Market was right off the trail, with good food and faster service than the pub.


It was not only a cheese hotdog, it had pulled pork instead of chili, and coleslaw on the top!

I had to take the obligatory picture of kayakers and rafters on the Yough as I biked over the river.

This Saturday was amazing. Nobody was biking on the western side going toward Connellsville. The few bikes I saw fell away very quickly in the distance.

Yough River Overlook

My favorite picture I took on the  entire trip, my sock monkey at the Yough Gorge overlook!


Mile 100! Less than 50 to go now!

I biked into Connelsville. We were staying at the Cobblestone Inn and Suite, a pricey hotel right on the trail. It’s brand new. It wasn’t a bad place to stay, the bed was very comfortable. The fixtures are brand new but very cheap, it’s not going to wear well. I wonder what the rooms will look like in one year.  There was also no light in the room other than a desk lamp on the desk. I had to take my bike into the hallway to check the air pressure.

Cobblestone Inn and Suites were very bike friendly I have to say. It was fine to take your bike in the room. Another biker had his dirty bike dripping in the lobby as he checked in.


The closer I am to finishing the daily miles the less pictures I take. It was cool to pass the 100 mile mark, but I was ready to be done with all these miles on the trail.


I was happy to see my husband at the pavilion at Mile 108, not 110! It’s amazing what two less miles can do for your spirit.

Wow, tomorrow is my last day on the trail! I can’t wait to get going!

Day One C&O Towpath

Day Two C&O Towpath

Day Three C&O Towpath

Day Four Last Day on the C&O Towpath

Day Five Starting the Great Allegheny Passage Trail