Dirt Rag Magazine

Stephen Haynes

Stephen Haynes

Title

Art nerd

Yeah, but what do you ACTUALLY do around here?

As little as possible

What do you think about when you're riding your bike?

How much my ass hurts

How would you rate your coffee consumption on a scale of 8-10?

27

Complete this sentence: "My other bike is …"

Cigar Box Guitar

What are you eating, drinking, reading, or fearing these days?

Donuts/Beer/Of Dice and Men/Everything

Elvis or the Beatles?

Elvis

Say something profound and meaningful in exactly seven words…

Go away and come back with beer

I like your answers. How can I get in touch with you?

Email me

Interbike First Ride Impressions: Haro Bikes Flightline Carbon Pro


By Stephen Haynes

In case you didn’t know, Haro makes more than just 20-inch bikes for the likes of Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist to do amazing feats of acrobatics while flying through the air. They make mountain bikes too.

For the 2013 model year, Haro will roll out its Flightline Carbon 29 series (or FLC29 for short), named for a now defunct trail network near the Carlsbad, Calif., airport. What Haro was going for with the FLC 29 was a 29-inch ride that handled more like a 26. Smooth rolling yet nimble.

(Editor’s note: Gotta call you out on this one, Haro. "Handle like a 26?" We thought that cliche was finally dead and buried. We don’t want to ride a 26-inch hardtail. Besides, we want bikes that ride like great bikes, wheelsize be damned. Ok, off my soapbox.)

The sub-3lbs. frame is made from T-700 modulous carbon fiber and boasts a tapered head tube and a super beefy down tube.

The $3,500 FLC 29 Pro model is spec’d with a Shimano XT crankset and shifter and Deore XT derailuer and brakes. It also comes with Rock Shox SID RL 100mm fork with Push Lock, which allows you to lock out the fork with the push of a button mounted on the handlebars.

The shifters and brakes performed admirably running through the gears well, and the Rock Shox SID RL soaked up everything I ran it over, even with my less than elegant navigating.

Though much more aggressive of a bike then I’m used to riding, the FLC29 wasn’t uncomfortable. The carbon frame is as stiff as anything I’ve ever ridden but wasn’t off-putting. Climbing was a breeze with the fork locked out and the rigidity of the frame lending a firm platform for pedaling. Down hill and through corners the FLC29 did well. I can’t come up with anything noteworthy for or against the FLC29. In my opinion, it’s just a solid ride. I think on familiar trails, or in race conditions this bike could be pushed to the limits without batting an eye.

Overall I had a good time on the FLC29 and I think Haro has achieved the desired effect, a smooth rolling yet nimble ride. If the $3,500 entry fee is a little rich for your blood, check out the Comp or Expert models, $1900 and $2,400, respectively. That gets you the same quality carbon frame, with a slightly less bling build.
 

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Review: Gates Centertrack Carbon belt drive system


By Stephen Haynes, photo by Justin Steiner

Gates is a Denver-based company that has been manufacturing belts for automotive, agricultural, and industrial applications for more than 100 years. The company partnered with Spot Brand, located in nearby Golden, Colorado, to develop a belt-driven drivetrain for bicycles in 2007. Gates’ Carbon Drive System uses a high-strength belt that has carbon fiber cords embedded in a rubberized belt. The sprockets are machined from aluminum.

Early versions of the Carbon Drive System occasionally suffered from alignment issues; the forces generated by pedaling and braking could lead to misalignment of the sprockets, causing the belt to “walk” off the sprockets. In 2009, founder of Avid and owner of Spot Wayne Lumpkin developed Center Track technology in conjunction with Gates. The center ridge on the sprockets helps to mitigate alignment issues.

There has been some controversy over the validity of belt-driven bikes in the mountain bike community. Initial hiccups with my test bike seemed to validate many people’s suspicions of the Carbon Drive system for off-road use. Dropping the belt on a few different occasions—and potentially damaging the fragile carbon fiber cords by walking it back onto the cogs, as you would a chain—compelled Spot and Gates to insist I put a new belt on. I was sent a new belt and we set about installing it.

Here I come to my first hiccup with belt drive. The bike (a Spot Rocker SS. You can read the full review here.) came set up for a rider 40lbs. lighter than I am. I was assured this wouldn’t have been an issue for most consumers, as the shop you purchase the bike from would dial in the belt for you. Fair enough.

My second hiccup with the belt drive occurred when I had to tension the new belt. Installation is a delicate matter. The belt must be handed with kid gloves, as the belt’s carbon fibers can be damaged if kinked. Tensioning the belt was a different story. I was told to download the free Gates Carbon Drive Bicycle Calculator (GCDBC) app for the iPhone. The iPhone 4 and 4s to be exact. (Dumbphone users, those with older iPhones or Driods are S.O.L.) I enlisted the help of some co-workers with the required technology to assist in “tuning” the belt.

An adjustment that seemed like it should have taken five minutes ended up taking the three of us over an hour. The GCDBC app takes a hertz measurement, via the iPhone’s microphone, when the belt is plucked. The app then spits out a reading. You take this measurement and tighten or loosen the belt accordingly. Ambient noise often skewed the results and tightening and loosening of the dropout and tension bolts began to wear on us.

The hour spent toiling over the proper tension was worth it. After four months of abuse I have not had a single issue with the system. I’ll even admit that in the last few weeks of my test period I was trying to break the thing. Leaning back and mashing with everything my 225-pound ass could muster, only to have the damn thing spite me and continue to work perfectly. I’ve done no maintenance since it was installed; no scrubbing, wiping, or hosing down, and it continues to perform flawlessly.

I think this could make a great drive train for singlespeed racers. The Carbon Drive System is very light and, despite the finicky setup, has proven reliable in a multitude of sloppy conditions. For weekend warriors interested in the Carbon Drive System, I still say go for it, but be aware of the prep that has to be done beforehand, and the precautions you have to take when setting it up. The system has a two-year warranty against defects. Gates is also com- mitted to making customers happy and is willing to assess inquiries regarding belt problems on a case–by-case basis.

Belt drive pros and cons

Pros

  • Belts perform well in harsh environments: Belt drives are less susceptible to mud, sand, and, unlike a chain, a belt will never rust.
  • Exceptionally light: Weight weenies and racers take note: an entire belt-driven drivetrain can weigh as little as 250g (belt and both sprockets). A singlespeed chain weighs approximately 280g.
  • Very quiet: My belt ran silent even when full of mud and muck.
  • Goes the distance: Belts have excellent longevity and they won’t stretch. A single belt can outlast many chains.
  • Low maintenance: No need to lube. I never so much as washed my belt off and it performed flawlessly.

Cons

  • Not field serviceable: Other than carrying a spare with you, there is no fix for a busted belt.
  • Belts are fragile: You must be careful not to damage the carbon strands embedded in the belt when installing or removing it. Once damaged, the belt must be replaced.
  • Finicky installation: Having to handle the belt with kid gloves is one thing, having to tune it with the assistance of an iPhone app is another. Patience Grasshopper.
  • Aglinement issues: Belts are much more sensitive to misalignment than chains.
  • Frame-specific: Belt drive presents frame builders with several design considerations: chainstays must be within a certain length and the drive-side chainstay be dimpled or use a yoke to accommodate a much larger, and wider sprocket. The frame must have a break on the drive-side seat- or chainstay for the belt to be installed and removed.
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Review: Spot Rocker singlespeed


By Stephen Haynes, photos by Justin Steiner

The Rocker SS is Spot Brand’s steel, belt-driven, singlespeed 29er. Spot started as a singlespeed-specific component manufacturer in the ‘90s, so they know a thing or two about the genre. Since 2006 the company has applied that know-how to 29ers.

Like an old, open-wheeled Ferrari racecar, the Rocker SS is classically understated. Spot uses the same high-end steel tubing as many custom frame builders, and the Rocker SS has the price tag to prove it. If you’re tight on cash take note: for 2012, production has moved from Colorado to Taiwan. The complete bikes will cost $300 less than the 2011 model we tested.

When it comes to geometry the Rocker is in lockstep with many other cross-country 29er hardtails: 71-degree headtube angle, 73-degree seat tube angle, and 444mm chainstays with the sliding dropouts set in the middle position.

Speaking of the dropouts. The Rocker SS sports a proprietary sliding drop- out system, which allows for tensioning of the belt and easy wheel removal via vertical dropouts. The tricky bit for belt-driven bikes is how to get the belt between the drive-side chain- and seatstay. (Read our separate review of the Gates Carbon belt-drive system here.)

Unlike a chain, Gates carbon belts have no master link and cannot be spliced. The frame must be made to accommodate the belt, not the other way around. To solve this, Spot has a made breakpoint on the drive-side dropout. With the slider bolts removed, you can slip the belt through the split between the stays. You can also run a more traditional chain-driven drivetrain, should you feel so inclined.

I’ve ridden the hell out of this bike. It has carried my doughnut-loving ass over hundreds of miles of singletrack. The high-quality steel frame is light and very comfortable.

Going uphill, be it short and steep, or long and sustained, the Rocker SS performed well. The bike handled predictably and was happy to be manhandled. Any ascents left unfulfilled were due to this tester’s short- comings as a rider, not because the bike didn’t want to go.

As a 225-pound singlespeeder I did experience a small amount of bottom bracket flex when I stood and mashed while climbing. The flex was enough to notice, but not enough to adversely affect the bike’s handling. I felt the Rocker SS was also a capable descender. The comfortable steel frame and 100mm- travel RockShox Reba RL Dual Air took enough of the shock out of high speed bumps to concentrate on pointing the bike in the right direction. The Sun Ringle Charger Pro wheelset and Avid Elixir 9 brakes also proved to be reliable components.

This is the first 29er singlespeed I’ve ridden for an extended test. The Rocker SS allowed me to rip through rock gardens and technical sections that had given me fits on my personal bike. I’ve had so much fun testing this bike that I lament having to send it back.

Riding the Rocker SS is very intuitive. Hop on, hammer on the pedals, and go like Hell. I’d recommend this bike to riders who are looking for a quality steel singlespeed. The Rocker SS is only offered in pearl white for 2012. Spot also offers a titanium Rocker SS, and a geared version of the Rocker in both steel and Ti as well. The Rocker SS comes with a three-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

Bike stats

  • Price: $3,500 (as tested), $3,200 for 2012
  • Weight: 23lbs.
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L (tested), XL
  • Country of Origin: 2011 frames made in the United States (tested), 2012 frames made in Taiwan. 

Tester stats

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 225lbs.
  • Inseam: 31”

 

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First impression: Jamis Dragon 650b


By Stephen Haynes, 

The steel framed Jamis Dragon 650b is an understated beast ready to take you on any quest you may have in store for it. Saddle up and sharpen your broad sword, this bike is ready for adventure.

Right out of the gate the Dragon 650b felt good. I’m not the most tech savvy adventurer there is but I could tell something great was happening underneath that sparkly green paint job. A 68 degree head tube angle is relaxed for an XC bike and makes for great handling going fast and cornering. Relatively short 16.75” chainstays offset the slack HT angle a bit and give the bike a snappiness when you need to make quick turns.

A 120mm White Brother LOOP TCR 650b fork takes the hits out front and is the same model as the fork we tested back in issue #159, but set up for 650b and set to 120mm for the Dragon.

American Classic 32h 650b XC wheels feature a 15mm thru-axle up front and 135mm QR in the back. Kenda Nevegal 650bx 2.1” have performed well so far in a good mix of conditions from dry and dusty to muddy.

The wheel size is the big ticket here. Aside from the very rideable geometry of the Dragon, the 650b portion of the name deserves a little credit too. Easy rolling yet maneuverable, the wheel size instills confidence and gives a stable ride while not feeling like wagon wheels. It really seems to capture the essence of both 26” and 29”.

Shimano SLX 3×10 drivetrain gives you a wide range of gearing possibilities to get you up and over just about everything. Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic brakes do the stopping. The Syncros AM handlebars, with 25mm of rise and 5 degrees of sweep suite my riding style well and compliment the bike.

The only thing I’m not sure of is the decision to route the brake and shifter cables along the top length of the top tube. I’ve grazed my inner thighs a few times already and can see the potential for disaster there.

Jamis has thus far scored a critical hit with this tester. I’m looking forward to many more rides atop the Dragon 650b and the D&D geek inside me is stoked that Dragons are no longer the stuff of fantasy.

Look for the complete review in Issue #164. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss a review.

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Review: Syncros FL 26-inch wheelset


By Stephen Haynes

Having never had a new set of mountain bike wheels, I was excited by the prospect of testing the 26” FL wheelset from Syncros. My tester set came in their black anodized grunge color scheme with red and white accents. (They are also offered in matte white grunge.) They happen to compliment my black, red and white bike as well! The 28-hole Syncros DS25 rims are tubeless-ready (via Stan’s tubeless kit) and are 25mm wide (19mm internal). I ran the wheels with tubes and 2.35” tires that mounted smoothly. Stainless steel, DT Competition, J-bend spokes are laced three-cross for strength and are mated to DT Swiss alloy nipples.

Installation was easy, though I used my old quick-releases, as none were included. The front wheel has a 9mm QR or 15mm thru- axle option, while the rear is 135mm QR only. The Syncros hubs have 6-bolt rotor mounts and feature cartridge bearings adjustable with a 5mm wrench. The hubs stayed tight and smooth-rolling for the entirety of my test and the freehub has a non-intrusive buzz that lets you know it’s coming without being obnoxious, which I was thankful for after riding an attention-grabbing Hope hub.

The Syncros FL is intended for everything from XC on rigid singlespeeds to long distance trail riding or racing on bikes with 4”-5” of travel. These wheels ran true and smooth for the entirety of my test. They have great engagement when pedaling with six pawls and 12 points of engagement and are snappy through corners with no apparent flex.

Syncros offers a 29” version as well. Each wheel is hand built and the quality shows through in a solid, confidence-inspiring ride that has me sold.

 

Price: $550

Weight: 1,702 grams

Country of origin: Taiwan

Online: www.syncros.com

 

 
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The making of a poster for a decades-old, secret race


By Stephen Haynes

Plagued by the memories of my first Punk Bike Enduro experience last year, I felt compelled to produce a poster that captured both the spirit of the event and my own nightmarish recollections. If you’re not familiar, Punk Bike is a race event held every year near Pittsburgh that combines speed, skill, and standing around in the freezing cold woods drinking beer.

First, some haphazard, drunken sketches were scribbled:

Which leads to a more refined drunken sketch.

Of course sketches don’t stay sketches for long, eventually they grow up and become inked drawings ready to be scanned and colored. Or mocked, ridiculed and trashed in a rash, drunken tirade…

Alas, this drawing did not fall victim to such a tirade and made it safely from the scanner into the magical coloring what’s-it where upon a color mockup was spit out, complete with text!

At this point I began to mash the keyboard with both hands until I got confirmation that my file has been received by the Screen Burning Gnomes. Imagine Oompa Loompas, but with screen printing supplies.

Once received, the SPG’s take my files and transfer them to screens by way of secretive “exposure” process. I have no idea what this means but I’m almost positive it involves the SPG’s disrobing and giving the screens a full-frontal view of what I can only imagine is a glorious sight…

After the screens have been secured and proper dues paid to the SPG’s, I set to work on printing. The ability to multi-task is important. Especially when your counterweight system breaks and you’re forced to use your head to hold up the screen between pulls of the squeegee.

Wash, rinse, repeat until the stack of paper goes away.

First color down.

Miraculously, the second color simply appeared.

The third color was a stubborn prick and refused to simply show up like the second color.

Mustache Dave sleeping with his eyes open as I regaled him with stories of Eamos Stoutbarrel, my 2nd level Dwarf Fighter from my bi-weekly D&D game.

Finally, the culmination of weeks spent procrastinating. The 2011 Punk Bike Enduro poster. Top 3 finishers in each category of this year’s race will receive a copy, dutifully signed and numbered by this poor schmuck. See you Sunday.

Haynes is the art director at our sister magazine, Bicycle Times and a frequent Dirt Rag contributer.

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First impression: Spot Brand Rocker SS


By Stephen Haynes

Founded in 1999, Spot Brand bicycles out of Golden, Colorado, makes beautiful, no-nonsense bikes for going fast. When my bright green Rocker SS tester showed up at HQ I couldn’t wait to get it out and get it dirty.

I love singlespeeds. Easy maintenance, easy operation and you don’t need a background in engineering to wrap your head around what’s going on. The Rocker SS fits the bill here with a few exceptions. The Rock Shox Reba fork is anything but a simple mechanism. I had some trouble dialing in the right compression and rebound pressure for my weight but with a little tweaking I got it where I wanted it and now it performs beautifully.

Also, the Gates Carbon Belt Drive has been updated for 2011 and now features what they are calling Center Track technology. Essentially (and I’m way over-simplifying here) a line is cut down the middle of the belt notches and fits into a corresponding spline on the drive sprockets. This is meant to keep the belt from drifting off the sides of the sprockets, but I managed to do it nevertheless…

While competing in the 23rd annual Tour de Strongland I dropped the belt twice. Once about halfway through the race and again about two thirds of the way to the finish. To be fair, conditions were sloppy and I’m not a light dude, but it’s never a good time to drop your chain/belt, especially when racing. On a few other occasions I’ve had the belt slip on me as well. It makes a horrible “CLUNG!!!” sound and generally marks the end of forward momentum. Despite the setbacks, I finished mid-pack, which was much faster then my previous attempt at this race.

Tester’s Note: It should be noted that after speaking with Spot about the belt problems, I should have been walked through the belt drive set-up. I was told that a person my size (220+lbs) would likely need to increase tension in the belt to the higher end of the “Go Zone” before riding. This may have solved the skipping and dropped belt issues. I was also told that walking the belt back on to the sprockets (as one would do with a chain) after dropping the belt can damage the carbon strands running through the belt. In an attempt to remedy these problems, Spot is sending a new belt that I will dial in to an optimum starting point before continuing my test.

Belt drive hiccups aside, Everything else has been a dream. Out of the box the Rocker SS weighed in at a svelte 23 lbs (without pedals) and feels like a big, light, BMX bike. The WTB Prowler Race 29×2.1 tubless tires work well as an all around tire and only in deep mud or over snotty rocks have they faltered. The Avid Elixir brakes have been subtle but dependable and the TruVativ Stylo stem, bars, seatpost and crankset have vanished from thought while riding. The bike as a whole wants to go fast and asks that you lean back and hang on. Steering is done less form the handlebars and more from your body and is terribly fun once you get used to it.

It eats up rocks and is light enough to bunny hop over most small obstacles easily. I’ve enjoyed this first month immensely and look forward to riding the Spot Brand Rocker SS through the oncoming Western Pennsylvania Fall and Winter.

Keep reading

Look for my full review in Dirt Rag Issue #162. Order a subscription today.

 

 
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Putting the Gnar! in narwhal: A Lesson in T-shirt design


By Stephen Haynes

Most folks aren’t aware of the growing population of aquatic mammals riding gravity inspired bikes in the far north. In fact, it’s laughable to think that such practices even happen, even on a practical level. How would aquatic mammals equip themselves for such exploits? Wouldn’t the components rust or freeze? Whales don’t even have legs, how are they going to pedal a bike?

Product guru and general pulse taker Karl Rosengarth knew what was happening and he was determined to make sure someone listened. Plagued by visions of horned whales going big began to permeate Karl’s every waking thought. He’d spin yarns at HQ so grand and outrageous that most though he’d gone off the deep end. There was a small contingent of “believers” made up of myself, Dirt Rag Editor Josh Patterson and Art Director Matt Kasprzyk who felt the stories needed to be confirmed. So we set to work to make that happen.

In an attempt to make real Karl’s vision, Josh and Matt tapped me to follow this cold weather snipe hunt to whatever conclusion would arise. In earnest, I traveled to Greenland and began researching this phenomenon of Arctic hucksters. Armed only with a sketchbook and salted pork for provisions, I was astounded by what I saw. ..

The following is a visual account of what I found.

Initial sketches of the fantastical beasts. So amazing were their feats, that I found it hard to capture on paper. Also, I’d lost two fingers on my drawing hand and found it difficult to grasp my pencil.

The amazing narwhal are as agile as they are dapper.

I commune with one of the elder narwhal and he tells me of one of his kind who far exceeds the abilities of his brethren.

A leader emerges. Frantic pencil strokes hardly do justice to this majestic and horrific creature.

After returning to HQ I set to work immortalizing the beast. Such power. Such grace. Such a long and pointy horn.

The painstaking process of color matching and properly branding the Arctic. My meager sketches do little to capture the spirit of the Greenland waters and the amazing feats contained therein.

Finally, the “Jedi of the Sea” is given proper credit. This magnificent, mustachioed mammal definitely puts the “Gnar” in narwhal. Look for the Gnawhal immortalized on T-shirts available from our online store.

 

 
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There and back again


Not quite ready for the house of Elrond, but as ready as I’ll ever be for this particular outing.

By Stephen Haynes

A few weeks ago I set out in the spirit of Bilbo Baggins for a grand adventure of the solo variety. Many wouldn’t see this as a warm up to some greater adventure, let alone an “adventure” in itself, but an adventure it was for me.

The ride was simple. Take the Great Allegheny Passage from near my house outside Pittsburgh to Rockwood, MD some 80 miles away. Camp in Rockwood and meet my Wife and kids in Ohiopyle State Park halfway back on the return trip.

I brewed up the idea of a self supported overnight jaunt after I was given the opportunity to test the Maya Cycle bicycle trailer (Keep an eye out for my full review in Bicycle Times Issue #13). I felt like I needed to give the trailer a good shakedown and what better way than isolated rail trails and many miles all alone?

Friday evening I laid everything out for my journey. I didn’t shy away from packing my full sized gear, figuring any extra weight on the test trailer was a good thing. This would come back to haunt me later in my travels. But it does make an impressive collection of stuff.

All my stuff. Yes, I was only gone one night.

I started out early Saturday morning. It was about 65 degrees out with little humidity as I pedaled along the Youghiogheny River. This section of the trail passes under overpasses, between back yards and through small boroughs and towns that litter the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Old mine shafts, coke plants, and industrial age relics pop up here and there amidst the trees, houses and parks.

Buzzing along the GAP, in the early morning.

A few hours in and I’m making good time. Connellsville, PA is coming up and I’ve had a short chat with a guy on a carbon fiber cross bike. My knees make a nearly perceptible whimper as he peels away from me and my steel bike, pulling 50+ lbs worth of trailer.

Connellsville comes and goes and I enter into the more isolated world. Closing in on the Ohiopyle State Park boundery means more trees and less development. Unfortunately it also means that there is a steady 2% grade ahead of me for the next 5 hours as I head towards Rockwood, just shy of the Continental Divide.

The forest begins.

I arrive in Ohiopyle right at lunch time and have a nice talk with a guy about biking the various rail trails that Pittsburgh has to offer. One turkey sandwhich, fries and Coke later and I’m back on the bike.

The rest of the days ride is pretty uneventful with the exception of my legs blowing up with just under 20 miles to go to my destination, the Husky Haven Campground right on the trail in Rockwood.

Husky Haven is one of those places that you scratch your head over. It’s right on the trail, there’s a bath house, water spiggate, reusable gallon jugs and free fire wood all for $10! I got camp set up, made some burritos, had a few Troegs Treogonators and fell asleep before 8 p.m. All the while thinking, “Best $10 ever.” Then, around 9 p.m a train came rattling through on the other side of the river, horn blowing and tracks rumbling. This happened every hour on the hour. At one point two trains passed each other I woke thinking some apocalyptic fate was about to befall me. Still a great place, just bring ear plugs.

Home for the night.

Despite my lack of real solid sleep, I woke before dawn, made a pot of coffee and ate breakfast. My legs felt much improved as I packed up camp and before I left I spoke to the only two other campers at Husky Haven that morning a couple of guys heading to DC from Pittsburgh. We shared opinions about various gear choices and I wished them luck.

Just down the trail from camp.

The return trip was fantastic. Brisk early morning riding on empty trails through beautiful wilderness. Deer skittered on the trail then off again in leaps and bounds that seemed to defy physics. I’m smiling while I enjoy the last of my coffee and the 2% downhill grade.

Bridge over the Casselman River. Early morning.

The Casselman River near Somerset County, Pa.

A loud twig snap shakes me from my reverie and I slow to gander at what could have made such a noise. To my right, between me and the river perhaps 40 feet away, is a black bear cub. And it’s pacing me! I momentarily entertain the though of stopping to take a picture then quickly dismiss the idea, realizing I’m nowhere near anyone or anything that could help me. Instead I shift into high gear and put distance between me and what my imagination thinks will be certain doom.

After 30 minutes of solid pedal down riding I decide I’m probably ok and listen intently to make sure.. No twig snaps or growling, I fall back into a leisurely pace. Ohiopyle comes into view more quickly than I’m expecting and I make my way to the meeting spot where my Wife and kids will be arriving at some point in the morning.

Me and the trailer getting a move on.

Though I didn’t encounter any trolls or dragons, fight off orcs or see the City of Rivendalle I did have a fun adventure, though next time I think I’ll invite friends. Perhaps a fellowship of riders?..

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Brain Fart: Out and about (with kids)


Odin enjoying his favorite outdoor pastime.

By Stephen Haynes

Some of my best memories as a kid were of doing things outdoors with my parents. Fishing with my Dad, learning to surf with my Stepdad, camping with both sets of parents. All good times. A large part of me wishes I’d paid a little more attention to my Dad when teaching me the names of the trees, or what poison ivy looks like, but the love of the outdoors stuck. As my own children grow up, I’d like for them to be able to look back and smile at the same sort of memories.

The past few weekends my family has spent more time sleeping on bedrolls in a tent then on mattresses at home. This makes me smile. Three days at Raystown Lake for Dirt Rag’s Dirt Fest and the three days the following weekend at a remote site in George Washington State Forest in Virginia. Both sites centered around different activities but were enjoyed nearly equally by the kids.

Our home away from home. It was rainy.

My kids do pretty well out of doors. My daughter enjoys fishing and my son enjoys throwing rock into bodies of water. They both enjoy lake and river swimming, hiking, sitting around a fire and in general bicker less than you might expect. Perhaps we lucked out.

We keep a sprawling garden every year and are always investigating new bugs or digging up worms, building up our immunities to the creepy crawlies out in the wild. On the second half of our springtime outings my daughter did run upon a large, bright orange spider that made her do jazz hands and scream like, well, like a girl. She laughed about this fact for several days afterward “I totally screamed like a girl Dad!”. At least we can laugh about it.

In the age of the smartphone and ready entertainment, I thinks it’s becoming increasingly important to introduce younger generations to the natural world. I still don’t know the names of the trees and feel a little skeptical about my poison ivy spotting abilities but I love that my kids love going outside.

The sun finally broke through and we celebrated with ice cream. Darby also got to show off her big catch of the weekend.

 

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