Sunday, December 30, 2007

multi region ride

what a cool ride today in the good ol' Watershed. Why the hell don't I ride there more often? It's ridiculously fun compared to what we usually ride. This ride had Cupcakes, a Philly thoroughbred, Frederick locals, and Capital Hill denizens joining the Chambersburg contingent of Darius, Martin, and me.

Joe makes beer
Joe makes trails
A tasty pre-ride sampler of a fresh stout

Shawn takes the girly line like the rest of us did. Moments later, we were all schooled by a freerider who did a minor huck off the ledge to Shawn's right, then casually threaded his way through the lycra-clad xc-ers littering his landing zone.

Andy ponders the view of impending parenthood.

Serious distribution discussions underway.

The ride was followed up by dinner with Joe & Julie, Ernie and Tony at the brew pub in Frederick. It's conveniently only a couple blocks from Darius' new office.
The day ended much later with 4 hours of cards, games, Hot Wheels, etc. with the kids at D's house. A long day for sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December so far..

this is what I've been up to.
Green groomers with Oliver

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

according to one

According to one crazy lady patient of Kim's, I am President George W Bush. This woman has been sending letters to the office directed to Dr. Kim for several months. Kim just received her christmas card last week. The lady thinks that:
  • Kim is her daughter
  • Kim is engaged to George W
  • that she is married to VP Dick Cheney
In past letters she has detailed her own and family's history going almost all the way back to William Penn. Apparently her family was instrumental in the building of most of eastern Pennsylvania's churches, universities, and medical schools. In the christmas letter, she mentioned again that she really wanted her daughter (Kim) to be a Presbyterian Minister, but that she's still proud of her present occupation anyways. She hopes that Kim will convince me to run again for another 4 years. She believes that regardless of whether I run or win, that she and Dick will remain in office for 4 more.

I think I'll tell Kim to tell her next time, that I will run again, but the first thing I'll do when I win is to fire her husband.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

more stokage of a watery sort

These are all from the last week or so.
The Atlantic and the Pacific have been going off for the folks big enough to handle it.
Spain (click to see the dwarfed surfer)


Todos, Baja

the Pacific had the swell of the last several years, biggest Mavericks ever they're saying. Same storm system that flooded the Seattle region.
One Monterey local wasn't so lucky and drowned at Ghost Tree (aka Pebble Beach)

all photos poached from

first turns

Got out for a couple hours on Whitetail's opening day yesterday, and it was surprisingly good, soft snow upon arrival (not exactly dawn patrol either). No lines, burnin' legs, good turns, and home by noon for relief duties. Today doesn't look so good, nor does the next week of warm wet Wx. Doesn't look so good for the mountain biking either until the ground freezes up. Really glad I got something yesterday....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

some stokage

this is all from the Northeast in the past few days.
from this thread in case ya been missing it.

they've been backcountry skiing for 6 weeks already.

first ski of the seas

I wish I could spin some tale of light, soft, dry snow, swoopy turns, and exploration rewarded. No go. Took a lap last night on the Michaux xc ski network (yea, that sounds funny to say that). The snow was dry and light, and there really was almost enough of it on those smoothish grassy double-tracks. The problem was the un-frozen, warm ground underneath the snow. It hasn't been cold enough yet to freeze the ground, and there were lots of water runs hidden below the snow. These caused loads of snow to stick to my skis, which turned my planks into 175 millimeter slowshoes. It was 25 degrees last night and still snowing while I was out. This morning probably would be much better at 13 degrees if it froze up all that water.

I'm sure White Grass is off to a sublime start right now...


Some weekend work, not un-sanctioned by DCNR

Friday, November 30, 2007

GoogleGeek stuff

Thanks Dominic for this link to USGS quad sheets for Google Earth. They are much better resolution than the ones released by Penn State.

Here's a link to the National Snow Analyses Center if you want to lay current snow cover over your Google Earth. Not much more useful than the snow cover website itself, since you have to download a new KML each time you want it.

click this (sorry if it doesn't open in your browser, seems to be a Blogger problem...)

This week, my work sites were talking about this new terrain feature in Google Maps. Pretty is a good word for it. Somewhat useful for planning and visualization. Would be nice to see this imagery get into Google Earth too, though my work sites say it's going the other way. That GE will be gone in a couple years, with all the functionality being moved over to Google Maps, (allowing for easier display in our cars and phones?).

Monday, November 26, 2007

V---a Trail

I don't know how this trail came into the inventory, but it is one fine selection. Twas part of a Tomi-Special loop yesterday, 4+ hours of quality singletrack that I don't usually ride.


Ancient Pete and the Hemlock

BTW, Has anyone noticed that Google Earth has upgraded the imagery for Pennsylvania? It's much better resolution, they're taken airplane rather than LandSat. But it's still an old photo for Michaux. Its shows the empty reservoir as not.

to add PA quad maps to your Google (use the transparency to lightly show overtop the imagery)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuscarora Trail

One more thing about the Buzzard Rocks, Shawl Gap area. The Tuscarora Trail is the trail we climbed up to Shawl Gap. The same Tuscarora Trail that begins near Carlisle. Food for thought....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the Fort Valley

click to engorge

For any who may be curious, here's a shot of the Fort Valley. We rode (sans Cupcakes) the top northeast section. These ridges are ridable with trails all the way to Harrisonburg and the ski area. Some of this was in this year's Tour, and the southern bit of Kaylor's Knob has been often featured in the Tour.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Buzzed Rox

The trail on the Massanutten East ridge was riding very dry and leafy yesterday. The leaves made it pretty sketchy in a lot of places and they hid lots of wheel traps. Leaf surfing is not something I like to do a whole lot of on this trail, but we all made it through fairly well, though we did miss a few attempts at tricky sections since the leaves covered the good lines.

It was a pretty tough 5-hour tour, especially on singlespeeds. We climbed up Shawl Gap from the Day Use Area, then Buzzard Rocks Trail down to the Buzzard Rocks parking lot, then down the road to Sherman Gap Trail. Hike-a-biked up Sherman for about an hour (or more?). Refueled and froze at the top, then rode the ridge from Sherman Gap to Shawl Gap.

For years I've been telling people that this 2-mile ridge section is one of my favorite pieces of trail anywhere in the GWNF. But I wasn't feeling that much love from it yesterday. I was whipped hard from the Sherman slog. The leaves were covering the rocks that I usually try to stay on top of and it was hard to take as many chances as usual. But, I drained the legs anyway, trying to clean as much as possible knowing that we had no more climbs ahead. That last bit of trail dropping into Shawl Gap brought the smile back to my face. And, just as the smile was returning to Darius' face, this happened on the last rock steps. He evac-bailed left into the rock face. For those who know this trail, you know how ugly that coulda been if he fell right-side.

Martin early on the Buzzard Rocks ridge

Was good to ride with Buchness again. Mike and I go way back in GWNF experiences.

NOTE: No Cupcakes were harmed in the making of this ride.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

One year in PA

We've been in Chambersburg a year now, and it couldn't be much better. One way I know it's been a year is this is happening again. Since I photo'd this same thing last year, on Nov 4th

Here's today's pic, on Nov 8th. Since these Ginkos drop their leaves in one day, I wonder if the date is some kind of climatic indicator? The amount of daylight remains the same, the amount of precip and temps don't. They're dropping greener than last year too, and on the first really cold morning (25 degrees). I wonder what the temp was last year when they dropped? (Easy enough answer to find....29 degrees, also the first morn' in the 20s last fall)

This year I have a bright idea of putting tarps out to catch some of the leaves. Then all I'll have to do is drag them out to the curb. Obviously, I don't have enough tarps...

Leaves also played a role in my frustrating search to find and learn the good mountain bike trails in the Forest. After being busy getting moved in, I'd get out to Michaux any chance I could and try to learn something. I remember getting totally lost off the trail on Lower Buckets, Rattlesnake Ridge, and Lewis Rocks (in the dark w/ no lights) to name a few. But leaves certainly weren't the only reason I had trouble finding the trails. I whined constantly that they're just freakin' hard to find and figure out. My maps were so useless that I made up my own trail map of Michaux (click below).

Finally, the Cupcakes included me on their e-mail chains which on every Sunday, led to a cool ride. I tried to ride fast and keep up, keep my mouth shut, and bring my share of beers and treats. But I couldn't keep quiet. I never complained about the ride being too long, or the trails too hard, but I peppered everyone with questions like "...what's the name of this trail? Where does that one go? How do you get to such & such from here....?" I rarely got an answer that I really understood.... And then I'd be dropped, off the back on some rocky descent, passing numerous trail junctions that I hoped the group didn't take, hoping they were waiting at the bottom of something for me...

I also did some exploring west of here. Went to the Tuscarora Trail a couple times, and thought I'd be back often (I haven't returned). X-C skied a couple times at Sideling Hill and thought I'd be back to explore by bike (I haven't). Skied the Laurel Mountain area a couple times, and I will be back there for sure.

In my year here, I also learned a lot of cool bike trails from this guy, and drank barrels of good beer with him.

Here's to another great year in the Pennsylvania forests with new friends!

Monday, November 05, 2007

the Sunday ride

A big group yesterday.
TG was out in force, which meant plenty of stops,
but the KeeferKeefer factor kept the pace pretty high in between those times.
We had a few folks who bailed out at various spots. I think many peeps were pretty whipped, I know I certainly was on the last trail section, H-3, or Campsite-3, or Hansel & Gretel-3 or whatever we call it. I led the pack through Campsite-2 Trail and cleaned it, then faded fast on the ensuing Sketch City descent and powerline hike-a-bike.

Back at the coldest spot in Michaux, we faced an unusual low number of beers for a group this size. It's nearly winter-time boys and girl, we need to up the beer time:ride time ratio. How are we gonna pull off a grand tour if we can't even load up the beers??

O.C. yesterday

Our nephew Jake sent this shot of yesterday's surf in Ocean City, MD, courtesy of the remnants of TS Noel.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I got to partake in Day-1 of the annual Fall Classique this year, and Day-1 was a ride on a famous trail I'd never yet ridden, the North Fork Mountain Trail.

A major driving dab had Tomi and me discovering a slice of WV State Park heaven en route to Seneca.

My pace at the back of the pack didn't give me much photo opp time, but I snagged this at the first re-group.

But there was plenty of time for this......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

where's this at?

Who else knows where these trails are in Michaux? Found them poking around this week. Anyone?

Lil' Belgians II

A couple more pics of Oliver from the bike race from lensman Don Pagano here

Oliver gettin' lessons from local legend Levi.

Monday, October 15, 2007

own a piece of Laurel Mountain, PA

Laurel Mountain could end up like Mad River Glen, owned by people like us. There's a chance that a co-op could buy the closed-for-3-seasons ski area and run the lifts again. This ski area is right next to the Laurel Mountain State Park Cross Country Ski Area. Check the map, you'll see the old downhill area at the top, a real easy ski over from the first trailhead parking lot. I skied here last winter and saw the potential. It's a lot like White Grass with x-c trails and downhill runs together. It's in the same snow belt as Canaan Valley, and usually gets similar snow.

I would definitely like to see this area open up again as a co-op and would love to buy a share. Or maybe even better is have it remain "as is", and accessible from the Park's x-c trails only. I always like the idea of adding real estate to the State Park system, especially, since those x-c trails are some fine mountain bike trails too. Either way, I'm sending in some thoughts. Check out the article pasted below from a Pittsburgh paper and the contact info below that.
article link

n Vermont, the Mad River Glen ski resort is proof of what a nonprofit, cooperative-owned entity can do with desire and hard work.

"Twelve years ago, the skiing industry was rapidly consolidating and becoming increasingly commercial-based, and we kind of flew in the face of that," said Eric Friedman, longtime marketing director of the Mad River Glen Cooperative, formed in 1995. "Today, we're the only cooperatively owned, not-for-profit ski area in the country."

The group -- which in 1998 fulfilled its purchase agreement by selling its 1,667th share and has grown since -- has local admirers.

Ligonier Mayor Ormand "Butch" Bellas, Butler County's Rob Davis and others want to form a similar group to buy and operate Laurel Mountain ski resort, which will remain closed for a third consecutive winter season for lack of an operator.

"We're looking at Mad River Glen as an example of what we're pursuing right now," said Davis, an avid skier who recently requested pre-approval to form a nonprofit, cooperative aimed at purchasing the resort -- located in Laurel Mountain State Park -- from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the R.K. Mellon Foundation.

"Right now, we're just a handful of enthusiastic people with an idea," Davis said.

Key to making that idea a reality is the prospective co-op's intent to maintain a strictly winter operation at the 64-acre, 18-slope site, Davis said.

Since Laurel Mountain is located in a state park, it is forbidden from operating outside the skiing season, which hampers marketing efforts, Bellas said.

"The state is really intent on honoring the agreement with R.K. Mellon in the 1960s to have no overnight lodging and no summer programs there," Davis said. "We'd be willing to keep that going."

Since Somerset Trust Company took control of the area in 2004 from Laurel Mountain Ski Co., company representatives said they have talked with up to 10 parties nationwide interested in buying the resort.

"We are actively marketing the property," said Thomas J. Cook, Somerset Trust executive vice president, who declined to comment further.

But Bellas, a ski patrol member who has worked on Laurel Mountain, said the operational restrictions and the recent string of mild winters have driven away many of those parties.

"It's a big investment, so I can understand with winters why people have been scared off," Bellas said. "Somebody's got to be really committed and have really deep pockets to take it on."

But by attracting members to a cooperative like Mad River Glen to purchase the resort one $1,500 share at a time, Davis said anything is possible.

"We would need people with business and legal skills to form a board of directors to help shepherd us through this process," Davis said.

Representatives of R.K. Mellon Foundation and Laurel Mountain State Park were unavailable for comment.

Contacts (from here)
State Parks/PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources should be sent to Doug Finger at:

The Westmoreland County commissioners should also be contacted. They are:
Tom Balya,
Thomas C. Ceraso,
Phil Light,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

summer's over

I'm back home from my first night ride of the season.
First ride in wool,
first ride in the rain,
Started raining hard on H-1 Trail, aka Campsite 1, aka Hansel & Gretel 1,
we were all cold, and under-dressed,
we bailed on Yellow Ridge and took the freezing road descent instead,
my light was fading as we pulled in, way sooner than it should've,
guess I better pull out the manual and re-learn what that button does,
shivered in my car on the drive home with the heater set on 3,
felt the mud caked under my jeans,
thermo read 48 degrees,
I need to harden the hell up,
it's gonna get a whole lot colder and wetter than this

this was taken last night, out messin' around with Oliver,
when it wasn't cold and raining

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hatteras III

Stayed an extra day since Kim's friend Todd and his family visited on Friday-Saturday. Todd is a surfer friend who lived in Carlsbad for 10 years, and Costa Rica for the last 7 where he worked as a flower grower, and surfed some of the best point breaks anywhere. I'd call him, the Duffy of my surfer friends.

We hung out at the contest Saturday morning and watched the finals in howling onshore winds. Those guys all made the best of it, and made it look good, even the longboarders were having few problems. We didn't even go out that day. It was howling side/off shore and too small at our part of the island, and still hard onshore chop on the contest side. So, only one day out of the 8 days I was there was unridable (for me) Last year, I was 7 for 7. That's pretty amazing, to get that much ridable surf there. Or maybe it's not.

It was cool seeing Hatteras Island so unchanged again, and seeing all the campgrounds I used to visit still all there. I started going to Hatteras in 1980 to learn how to surf. I knew squat about wind directions, forecasts, tides, and island aspects. But I was a skater, and I figured if I could ever get up on a wave, I'd know how to turn and ride it. Well, that part was basically true. Riding and turning, is the easy part, but unfortunately, it's only about 1% of the game. All those other parts, not to mention paddling, are far more important, and can contribute to you never even getting into the position to actually ride or make a turn on an open face.

Over the past several years, I've learned a lot about how to get yourself in the right spot at the right time, meaning the right part of the beach, as well as the right part of the wave. The swell, the winds, and certainly the tides, are usually going to change a couple times in a day. It pays to check the surf every couple hours from anywhere you happen to be, and know how what you see there will translate to other spots. I'm not really a good surfer, and I can't ride in many conditions. I also have weak paddling arms and know that I only have an hour or two a day in me to work with. So, I need to maximize my chances at waves by going out when the conditions suit me best. Now, I've finally got a simple formula for getting some surf nearly every day in Hatteras:
  • find out when low tide is
  • get the wind forecast for that time of day
  • figure out which direction the swell is coming from
  • know which part of the island will be closest to offshore winds (having a big 4WD truck really helps with this part, since you can get to one more aspect by truck that you can't reach by paved roads). If this part of the island will be receiving swell, then:
  • plan your entire family and group's activities that day around you getting to that part of the beach just after low tide
  • enjoy the ephemeral bliss, 5 seconds at a time
Or, just forget all that wind and tide crap and take up kitesurfing instead.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hatteras II

Back at the contest for the morning, and Jake got 3rd in his first heat and progressed to the final tomorrow. There was definitely some swell in the water today, looking a little like a groundswell, and even at high tide the contest surfers were getting some nice waves.

I went out at the old Coast Guard Station after Jake's heat and had the session of the week (of ever maybe??). It was low tide by then, still clean, and starting to get a little more hollow on the sandbars, much more so than these pics. I actually got barreled for the first time ever. Dropped in, pulled back up the face, stayed crouched, watched the curtain come over and in front of me, and then, popped out. Dammnnnn!! Even managed a clean exit out of the small tube onto some green face before the other end closed out and I kicked on out through the back. I was freakin' stunned. Stunned. In all these years of trying to surf, I'd only come close to this a few times in the past few seasons. And I never had illusions that I'd make it out of the first tube I ever got into.
Got close to getting there a few more times in the next hour and a half. They were all quick take-offs, and I got pitched on many of them, but caught a lot of good waves and seemed to have progressed a level. Many were close-outs, but they were all great practice on steep take-offs, which I certainly need. I was catching a lot more waves than usual, since there was virtually no paddling necessary. I was sitting right off the 3rd groin, and there was a strong rip right next to the groin that made the paddle back out a snap. But, even cooler, was that you could walk most of the way out to the lineup since they were breaking on a wide sandbar. And since the waves were kinda steep, the take-offs didn't require a lot of paddle speed. Just get in the right spot, and you were good.

Quigfoot dropped by with his rig on his way to Arizona to ride bikes with a couple friends. He rented a Fox 9-footer and caught a few good rides.

The surf forecast for tomorrow does not look good. Head-high, and strong, on-shore winds. The final day of the contest, and maybe our final day here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


What must this island have been like in 1866?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hatteras Island

Kim and Oliver dropped me off at the beach as soon as we crossed the Wright Brothers Bridge and went in search of breakfast. The surf was small and glassy, with no wind and an incoming tide, I knew this was as good as it would get today, as the wind would surely pick up in the afternoon and chop up what little swell there is. There were about 5-8 guys in the lineup. The water was warm, and everyone out was just trunkin’ it. I watched several small schools of silversides jumping out of the water, I suppose chased by something larger. I caught a few short easy waves and saw a 12” dorsal a few yards outside me. Then, more dorsal, curving up and down, looking for a breakfast of their own. It felt so good to be back in the warm water, and catching the surf nice and mellow was a perfect start.

Kim popped her head over the dunes about 20 minutes later after a frustrating and unsuccessful search for breakfast. We rolled on down to Hatteras proper, with me a little mellower after the quick surf, but Kim still with her city game face on. As soon as we hit the National Seashore, our moods picked up, our shoulders relaxed, as we enter a different time and place.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is still different, even after decades of development in Nags Head to the north. Hatteras Island has a “country” feel to it, much like the “town and country” of Hawaii for surfers, with the developed Honolulu and the rural North Shore. Hatteras is still fairly rural, and only a few decades away from being pretty feral and roadless. Nags Head is definitely considered town.

I went out for another surf after dinner off the beach at the house, hoping to catch an evening glass-off. It was high tide and moving out towards low, and it was a bit breezy. But I went out anyway, knowing that every minute I sat out there, the tide was getting lower, the wind calmer, and the surf glassier. The big group of New York neighbors were watching me from their upper deck, and enjoying lots of Bud Light.

Paddling a fiberglass surfboard hurts my breastbones and pelvis bones, just like a bike saddle hurts the sit bones if you don’t ride often enough. I was already sore from the short morning session, and knew that this would make tomorrow even sorer. But, what the hell, I’m here, and all I had to do was walk to waves, marginal though they were, they were waves. I spent a long time not paddling after anything, just sitting there watching, no doubt making the NYers wonder what the hell I’m doing out there in the near darkness. Finally, a few come my way and I get a couple small short rides. For some reason, I remembered hearing how much sharks prefer the dawn and dusk times as I look up and down the beach see no other surfers out. I recall the sizes of a few sand(?) sharks I’ve seen caught on the beach here, and start to sketch my head out a little. Somehow I get past that, rode a couple more and headed in.

Headed up to the Buxton area this afternoon to see if the surf is any better up around the big curve in the island. I also wanted to check out the contest, the Eastern Surfing Association is having their 40th annual Championships here all week. The surf down at our place in Frisco is small and very glassy with a light offshore breeze, but there’s just not enough juice in the swell to make it break well enough. I check the Frisco Pier on the way, and it’s not much better than at our house. Sometimes it is, since the pier catches a lot of sand and offers a break when nothing else is breaking.

I paddle out at the 3rd groin in Buxton and spook a small school of fish as soon as I hit the water. The water here is much clearer and warmer than yesterday up north, and I can easily see the bottom at about 6-8 feet deep. It keeps making me think I can touch the bottom since it looks so close. With the contest 2 groins away, I expected this spot to be crowded, especially after seeing the SOBE and Monster sponsor trucks parked nearby. But, there’s only one other guy out in the lineup; long blond dreadlocks, long gray-blond beard. I paddle out past him, and sit closer to the takeoff zone near the groin and immediately realized my breach of etiquette. So, I just sat there a while, and let him grab a couple waves before I tried for any. After he had a half-dozen or so nice, long rides, I still hadn't caught anything. He asks me if I’m from Delaware too. I replied, “no, Pennsylvania”, and he inquired if I was always from PA. I gave him the quick rundown, Baltimore-Florida-and Virginia for the last ever. He had all he needed to know about my surf prowess, and my next few wave attempts confirmed that as well. He told me that he worked in a shop in Virginia Beach 14 days a month making high-end longboards and retro fish. He said he lived here the other 16 or 17 days a month. He was pretty specific about the 16 or 17 days. Finally, I started catching a few waves, and they were pretty good, with some clean, open face time, and almost some pocket time. Dreadlock guy rode a long one to the beach, dropped his board off, and grabbed a spear gun, snorkel, and mask, and spent an hour or so swimming up and down the groin looking for some fresh catch for dinner. I was the only one out until one of the “Delaware guys” paddled out and caught a few out near me. Later, another two paddled out, and I took that as a sign that I helped make the surf at least not look totally crappy. That doesn't happen too much to me.

Man, did it ever feel great to be surfing small, quality surf right there. I didn't really want to get out of the water but I wanted to save my arms, and check out the contest. The contest surfers really rip, and made the surf look spectacular, doing anything they wanted on their long rides. They were getting clean lefts off the 1st groin, and riding them a long way milking points from the judges. The judges sit 3 stories up, in an elaborate scaffolding structure, which is causing controversy with the National Park Service. The NPS doesn't allow any advertising, and the large sponsor banners and tents, and the judges platform doesn't exactly conform to most of the Park's management plan. After 39 years here at the lighthouse, there was a serious threat by the NPS to not allow the contest back here with banners. Of course, the contest can't really function without the sponsors and banners, so a 1-year agreement was settled, with the NPS staff on-hand inspecting all aspects of the operation and assessing the contests' impact on any non-surfing visitors to the Park.