Friday, October 21, 2011

Back to Reality ...


I was off the bike the last two days - Wednesday it rained all day, so I was more or less sitting around on my ass watching movies all day (N.B., vacation still kicks ass even when the weather sucks.) Then, on Thursday, Joanna and I took a trip down to the Camden waterfront to tour the Battleship New Jersey. That was very cool - I never would have thought of doing that on my own - it was Joanna's idea. But what an interesting trip!

I took a thousand photos, but I'll just throw some of the more interesting ones up here. We missed the last guided tour, but took the audio version on our own. There is so much to learn on that ship! It's history is basically the history of the war for the U.S. since Pearl Harbor. I was totally fascinated by the weapons systems (especially the guided missile system that was added in the 80's.)

There were originally more than a dozen of the "big guns" on the New Jersey.  Each of these were capable of hitting within 50 feet of a target as far as 23 miles away!

This is one view from inside the gun turret. Operation of the guns required up to 77 men!

This is another shot from inside the turret - the brass seat and wheel were used to turn the entire turret for aiming.

The radar tower above an opened and raised missile coffin

I think this is called a chronograph - just another cool piece of equipment

The voice on the audio tour descried this as the "white R2D2". It's  the housing for the missile guidance system. It directs and orients the missile stacks. This is a really cool part of the ship!

The missiles are kept in groups of four in these large boxes referred to as "coffins". 

Closed missile coffins

The ship's helicopter

"... 30 feet on the water line, nicely makin' way ..."
(Anyone know what that's from?)

Just a great trip. If you are at all interested in military history, I highly recommend it.

But between yesterday's trip and Wednesday's rain, I hadn't been on the bike since the end of the TdE on Tuesday morning. May not seem like a long time, but since I'm still on vacation, it's an eternity! So this morning, I swapped out the 16t for my usual 20t and headed down to Wissahickon for a loop. It was a bit cool at first, and never got above 60 all day, but that was actually perfect. After a week of 2:1, the 20t felt like I was spinning like crazy on the flats. 

About five miles in when I hit Bell's Mill Road, I saw another rider who asked me about trailhead access. I invited him to ride along with me if he wanted. He hadn't ridden the Indian side before, so we ended up doing the whole Chestnut Hill side of the park and I even showed him the Spaghetti Bowl across the street on Lincoln Drive. That section is a total mess right now -- in the first mile, there were two downed trees, and the whole thing looks like no one has been there in months. And then at the bottom of one descent there's now a six foot deep gully that was probably cut in by the washout from Hurricane Irene. It runs all the way down to the lower trail. It looks like a giant knife just ripped the trail in half there!

The 20t was back on the Misfit because of climbs like this

Loose and rocky on the climb up Twisty-Turny

Leaves are everywhere on the trail, but everything still seems awfully green for October

At last! Some color! (Okay, so one tree isn't exactly Vermont-quality foliage, but I'll take what I can get.)

Would you guess this is only a few miles from Center City?

The step ups to the Indian statue ... another reason to be thankful for a 32:20!


Anyway, I had a great day out there! I know those trails really well, so I always enjoy getting the chance to share them with other riders. I showed this guy a section of the park he'd never seen before, and that's really cool!

The thought occurred to me today that my vacation is sort of over as of 4:30 this afternoon. I would have been out of work on a Friday by 4:30 anyway, so that's sort of the where my vacation ends if you look at it that way. It's funny, though - I'm not even the slightest bit depressed about that. I had an awesome vacation this year. Great rides, new experiences, and a bunch of good beers ... is there really anything more I could ask for? 

Officially, I'm back at work on Monday, so I have a few more chances to get out on the bike again before then. I always use some of my vacation time in October, and I can't help but look at the end of it as the sort of unofficial start of winter, which means rides become shorter and gym time increases. That's kind of sad because I'd always rather be outside on the bike than in the gym, but this year I'm really okay with all of it. I'm still going to ride through the winter when I can, and I'm even looking forward to doing some cross-training in the gym. I'm enjoying all of this more this year - maybe because I had a rough season and yet the last two months have been only good on the bike, or maybe it's because I'm plotting the next year in my head right now and what I'm thinking about is a lot less about racing than it has been in the past. Sure, I'll still race my favorites (e.g., SSAP, Stewart Six Pack, Iron Hill) and even a few I've never done before (DH40 is on my list for next year), but I'm going to be looking to incorporate some new non-racing experiences in there too. And I'm pretty psyched about that!

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