Bob and Bill's first coker ride of the year.

Bob (unidaddy) and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm 55 degree F weather and met for a coker ride. This was Bob’s second ride on his new coker and only my second ride on mine since mid-November. The warm weather and an opportunity for a new year’s mileage start had us both thinking big. We decided to go for 20 miles for the day’s ride.

We met at a Rails To Trails path that consists of a fine crushed gravel. Last spring I had learned that the path gets pretty soft after the winter from the freeze thaw cycles that are common in southwestern Pennsylvania. Since we’ve had the ground frozen a few times this winter, I wasn’t sure how soft the trail would be. It wasn’t bad overall, but some sections were soft enough to make pedaling similar to going uphill, even though we were on flat or close to flat terrain. Other sections were very soft and difficult to maintain momentum and balance.

We started off on a semi soft section that lasted for about 1/2 mile. It was a little discouraging but we plugged along in hopes of better trail ahead. It got better, then soft, then real soft, then better. Through out the days ride it varied and kept us on our guard. Those soft spots caused each of us a few UPDs.

After a few miles, we were both pretty much commited to going for the full 20 miles. Our plan was to ride for 10 miles, then turn around and ride back to the car. The trail was a slight uphill most of the way out, so we knew gravity would help us get back home even if the quads were giving up on us. In my mind I was concerned that I would be pretty wasted on the ride back to the car. But with such beautiful weather and a desire to achieve 1,000 miles for the year’s mileage, I couldn’t stop myself. You know how those new year’s resolutions start so strong at the beginning of the year.

During the early portions of our ride, we caught up to a runner who was running in the same direction as us. He stated that we were doing the mileage the hard way but both of us thought he was doing it the hard way. Ends up he was doing an easy run that day since it was new years day. He was only planning on running about 20 miles! I was impressed! We passed him and pedalled on. Later he passed us while we were on a saddle break. Then we passed him a little later and chatted some more as we slowly passed him at our 8.2 mph pace. We discovered he is a distance runner and had completed a 50 mile race last fall that took him 10 hours to complete. He is training for a 70 mile race in June. Wow.

Bob and I enjoyed riding together and talked about a variety of subjects. A nice change for me since I have done most of my present 200 miles solo. My butt still got sore from the time in the saddle, but I didn’t notice it quite as much as we talked. Well, at least most of the time. Of course, we did numerous short breaks for saddle relief and shot a few pictures during those breaks. Bob should be adding to this post with a pic or two.

At a location that I estimated would be about the 10 mile mark we decided to stop for a break. As I rode towards a bench, I hit some soft ground and did a quick UPD onto my feet. When I picked up the coker and checked the odometer, it read 10.00 miles. Say no more, the coker had obviously said it was time to stop and I assumed it was ready to carry me home. Bob and I were willing to give the coker its way and were ready to turn around and head back to the car. After a short break and an energy bar, we headed for home.

Up to this point Bob had experienced 2 UPDs to my one UPD, so I was feeling my previous 200 miles in the coker saddle was giving me an edge over the Bob’s “inexperience”. But as we all know, those unicycles have a way of keeping one humble. Before the end of the day, we were tied with an even number of UPDs, all due to soft and irregular terrain.

We both faded fast on the way back and we plodded through the last 4 or 5 miles. Although I often felt Bob was pushing my pace a little. Anytime one of us wanted a saddle break, the other would quickly reply, “Okay!”

We reached the car 3 hours and 15 minutes after we had left. Average speed for our time in the saddle was a slow 8.2 mph. But we both knew the soft ground had kept our pace slower that our last ride which averaged 9.2 mph for a 12 mile ride. It was good ride. We were both very tired, but in a good and healthy way. After two rides together, I believe Bob will maintain a slightly faster pace than I have been riding. That’ll pull me along into a quicker pace. Or it may cause me to drop over from exhaustion as I try to keep up with him. Did I mention that he is 7 years younger than me? I did feel a little old a few times today as I lagged behind him.

We spent a few minutes picking up the garbage left in the Rails To Trails parking lot. Unfortunately some people don’t seem to think it’s wrong to throw their trash on the ground. It just didn’t seem right for us to use such a great trail and then leave without helping support the Rails to Trails effort. Picking up that garbage seemd like a small way to say thanks.

Bob and I departed, each in our vehicles. On my way home I wondered, can I find the energy to get out do a short 7 - 10 mile ride tomorrow? We’ll see.


Re: Bob and Bill’s first coker ride of the year.

You’ll find it. Dang, you’re halfway there just by thinking about a 7 - 10 mile ride as “short”. That’s the ticket :).

If you want to log a lot of miles, shorter regular rides seem to add up more than less frequent “epic” rides. Look at Gus Dingemans total for this past year…I don’t think too many people got close to him, and he did most of it via work commuting.

Thanks for sharing the nice write-up. I used to spend some time in your part of the country. Wish I could twiddle my nose and come join you guys for a ride.


my oldest brother is 7-years older than me…he’d still be out there, coming out of his tent gnawing a krispy kreme!

Hopefully this will work…the pics are a little big. Any tips on resizing? I have Photo Paint (corel).


and another…OH YEAH…

Bill taught me a lesson about crediting the photographer…the 1st pic was on a timer (20 yard dash, 10 seconds flat…still smilin’)
the second pic was taken by the old-fashioned push the button method (Fuji Finepix 3800) by…me



The young-looking smiling guy in the second photo is Billham!

Re: Re: Bob and Bill’s first coker ride of the year.

I agree on lots of rides and lower miles per ride as an overall strategy. Unfortunately my commute to work is on a busy winding roads, not very uni friendly. Commuting is the ideal way to log mileage. Gus D is the man!

I did my “short” ride today. It didn’t feel short. I was still tired from yesterday and started off uncomfortable in the saddle. Did 10.2 miles and averaged 9.7 mph. Was hoping for 10 mph avg but I was only at 9.9 around mile 7 and starting to fade a little. I did have enough leg left in me at mile 8 to run out of a UPD. Boy those UPDs sneak up you really quick! :frowning:

What had you in this part of the country, Tom?


Re: Re: Re: Bob and Bill’s first coker ride of the year.

Childhood and adolesence. Grew up in Syracuse, but my parents were both from PA, met at Penn State, etc., so my extended family all lived in various parts of PA. Spent lots of time as a kid visiting places like Erie, Frackville, Ashland, and Gordon.

Nice area, but when I moved west after high school, I swore I’d never move back there just because of all the rain. So now I’m in Seattle…go figger.