Tag Archives: Cycling

Been a While

It’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog.  In that time a lot of things have happened.  They are as follows, in no particular order:

My wife and I had a little girl.

Jane

I became the store manager at the shop where I work.

My car needed a repair that would have cost more than the car did originally.

I picked up a BMX bike.

I picked up some new shoes and Speedplay Zeros.

I picked up a new frame for my wife.

I stabbed my leg with an XT brake lever during a Pivot demo.

I raced the RAGNAR Miami to Key West race with my entire immediate family (and a few other people).

Team Much Dutch

I raced the RAMBO 4 Ways in a Day race again this year and placed 6th in my division…out of 6.

On the big bike.

I stopped riding my road bike in favor of my mountain bike.

I rode my mountain bike while Atlanta was shut down because of snow and ice.

I continued to switch between clipless and flats on the mountain bike.

I was featured in two online newspaper articles.

I ran my mountain bike into the roof of my garage.  Twice.

I rode one of the most expensive mountain bikes I’ve ever put a leg over.

Nickel. Full SRAM XO 3x10, Easton Haven wheels, 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork with carbon steerer tube, Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock, Truvativ stem, bar and seatpost. Maxxis tubeless tires, ODI lock on grips

I participated in a trail day or two.

My plan is to start contribute to this blog more often.  Since my leg injury healed I’ve been getting outside more and that’s a positive change.

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Is It the Engine or the Equipment?

So I crashed on my mountain bike a few weeks ago and the damage to my knee totally took me out of the game (both physically and here on the blog).  No running, no riding, and with the slump in activity, even my swimming felt the hit.  But I’ve started PT and hope to fix my knee for good.  And then this situation came up and I felt it was certainly worth sharing…what do you think?

Lately I’ve started coming to the realization that it’s not always about the equipment but more about the engine behind it (i.e. me and you).  It’s interesting to me, because I’m coming at it from the perspective of someone who works with the newest cycling technology every day.  My job is to convince people that the newest cycling technology will make them better riders.  And I believe it will.  Mountain biking went from rigid clunkers to carbon full-suspension 29rs to DH bikes with more than 10″ of travel.  Road bikes started about as steel and since then have been made from aluminium, scandium, carbon fiber, heck even bamboo!

But the other day I got to ride a tricked out version of the aforementioned Santa Cruz Tallboy 29r owned by one of our regular customers.  This sub-25lb. bike had everything: Edge (now called  Enve) composite wheels, SRAM XX 2×10 drivetrain, carbon handlebars and a Rock Shox XX Sid fork.  Everything, that is, except clipless pedals.  That’s right; the guy who owned this bike worth over $5k (and that’s just at dealer cost) didn’t even clip in.  After years of riding, he’d just never gotten the hang of it.  But that didn’t stop him.  His regular circuit at Big Creek would turn my legs and lungs into a lump of jelly.

A few weeks ago, pre injury, I raced in the Big Creek Time Trial Series.  I felt alright about the time, it was slower than my 4 Ways time, but told myself that it could be better if I had a newer, lighter bike.  This was confirmed when a friend picked up my bike and called over to the officials, telling them to knock a few minutes off my time because of how heavy it is for a XC bike.  Later that same week, I was talking with one of the regular customers at our shop, mentioning my plans for a new bike.  He asked what my recent lap time was and looked at me in disbelief.  Even with his new bike that weighs four to five pounds less than mine, my slow time was two full minutes faster than his best lap time.

This caused my focus to change a bit.  Instead of worrying out when I’m finally going to scrape together enough cash for my new mountain bike, I’m going to focus on improving my body using the equipment currently in my possession.  Feeling sorry that I own a 35lb. XC bike – think of it as resistance training.  Still have a granny gear on my road bike – just means I need to hit up steeper hills.  Bum knee – more time to get back into swimming and rock climbing and build my upper body while I rehab the knee.

Backyard Building

On Friday I spent a little over 2 hours working on a tiny trail that winds its way up the hill behind my house.  I’ve been living here for over 2 years and I’ve always wanted to build something that is rideable in both directions; up to build endurance and down to work on technique.  The going has been slow so far because of two primary reasons: mosquitoes and the soil.  Or lack thereof on the soil part.  A majority of the hill seems to have a ton of roots in the first inch of “soil” and a ridiculous amount of rocks buried about an inch below that, which makes any real digging on the trail almost impossible.  I’ve mostly just cleaned off the fallen leaves from the area I want to ride and packed down the loose loam with my feet or my bike.

I’m sure my trail building technique needs more refinement.  I know enough not to try to run my trail straight up or down the hill, but I’m trying to find a happy medium where the uphill part isn’t impossible to ride and the downhill section doesn’t leave me yawning.  I also know that it’s sometimes better to work with an obstacle rather than remove it.  A fallen tree about 2 feet tall caused progress on the building to slow a bit, until I was able to find enough fallen logs to ramp over the tree on both sides.  I’ve also set up a line that allows me to ride off the tree without a ramp on the other side.

As it is, I have to walk up the first 50′ of trail, because of a drop that happens right after a ladder bridge that I made out of monkey bars from an old playset.  I’m sure someone like Hans Rey could ride up it, but I prefer that section coming back down.  There is a line that could make it ridable, but that’s going to wait until after my trail makes it to the top of the hill. Because of the drop, and a hard-packed path on the last little hill, I get to fly around the last corner with my rear tire skidding like I’m some crazy DH racer.  The wife says I should end my run further away from the house, worried for my sanity as I drift through the off-camber turn.

Beach Ride

This past Memorial Day weekend, I visited my family in Florida and decided to ride to the beach with my parents.  It’s just under 50 miles from door to door, that is to say, door to dunes.  I was a little concerned at first because I haven’t done a ride of that length in at least a month and I had flown into town, so I didn’t have my bike.  But my parents are friends with another couple that rides and quickly got me sorted out on a steel Bianchi with full Campy components; a first for me on both counts.

So we prepped in the morning, loading out bottles with water and mix, rolling Cliff Bar quarters into little balls, and topping off the tires.  I had spend and hour the previous night getting the bike fitted to my typical riding position (and marking the bike so I could put it back how I found it). We rolled out around 6:30am and quickly settled into a 3 person paceline, switching places every five minutes or so.  The first hour rolled by quickly. The second hour found me suffering a bike from riding a bit I wasn’t used to.  Being that far out, there was nothing to do but put my head down and keep my pulls at a steady speed.  After the second rest stop, I found a renewed energy.  Okay, maybe it was the iced coffee drink my mom made me finish off, but the third hour seemed to fly by.  At the last rest stop both of my parents got something to drink while stopped as well as a sports drink for the road.  My mom was worried when she saw that I hadn’t finished either of my bottles.  Though as I pointed out, we had climbed a total of 300′ in about 30 miles.  300′ is what I climb in about 3 miles here in Atlanta, so I was still feeling fresh.

I had told my parents about bridge sprints, but with the holiday traffic building as the ride went on, whoever was pulling the paceline won the sprint without contest.  I managed to luck out and combine a bridge sprint with a county line sprint.  As we neared the coast, my parents warned me about the steepness of the causeways we had to cross, but I was unafraid.  Despite starting up the tallest bridge, a whopping 65′ of vertical elevation, in third position, I managed to gain the lead and hit almost 40mph on the descent.  My mom, on the other hand, is still developing her descending skills, so she topped out at around 30mph with my dad somewhere in between the two of us.

About 4 or 5 miles out from the beach, the rest of my family, who thought the three of us were crazy, passed us just as the traffic started building up on the roadways.  By the time we hit the A1A Coastal Highway they had secured a spot on the beach.  We stowed our bikes in the car and hit the surf, glad that the trip was only one way.

I Think We’re Going to Need a Bigger Bike

My friend Charlie, who is the mechanic at our shop, is into freeride and downhill mountain biking.  So while out riding the cross-country trails at Big Creek, I caught up with him in the freeride section and did a bit of filming with my cheapo point-and-shoot camera, threw the footage together and showed it to my family.  My grandmother was concerned that it was me in the video—she does want great-grandchildren in the near future—but I assured her that I was not the crazy person.  Maybe a little jealous, but not crazy.  I have decided that my next bike will definitely have more travel so I can at least consider the more technical terrain that is becoming popular.  Perhaps one day I’ll even voyage to a lift-accessed slope and rent a big squishy bike.  So, without further ado, I give you Charlie the Mechanic on the Sender at Big Creek.

Bring it on 2010!

It’s almost mid-February and by now people have forgotten their New Year’s resolutions.  Usually that would be the case with me.  But this year, I took the time to write down my recreational goals, and I’m going to share them here to keep myself reminded of the lofty ambitions instilled in me with each passing January.  So as I look back on a relatively unproductive first month, resolution-wise, I am reminded that I already have to play catch-up on a whole month’s worth of workouts.

My first resolution is to fix my right knee.  During last year’s ING Georgia Half Marathon, I injured it around mile 4 but still finished the race.  Feeling completely disoriented, I decided I’d rather go with the flow of 11,000 participants than against them.  Maybe not the best decision in retrospect, but at the time it actually hurt more when I walked than when I ran.  Eleven months later, I struggle to run 2 miles without significant pain.  I resolve to actively repair my knee: be it through stretching, weights, non-impact exercise machines, even physical therapy or any combination thereof.

Last year I had a set of mileage goals that I did not achieve, so I am going to use those as my goals again this year:

Swim – 88,000 yds (50 miles, including at least two hour-long continuous swims)

Bike – 2,237 miles (the total distance of the 2010 Tour de France)

Run – 262 miles (10 marathons worth or a long run for Dean Karnazes)

Aside from the general mileage goals, I want to participate in two cycling races (one road; one mountain) and two triathlons, as well as finish my first century ride and maybe even a cyclocross race.  I want to get involved at the velodrome here in Atlanta and complete their beginner’s program.  I want to build a pump track in my backyard.  I also plan on volunteering at 4 trail days.  There is nothing more satisfying for me than riding past the grade reversal I carved out all by myself at a local mountain bike trail. They might pass by in a split second while I’m riding, but those 15 feet of trail give me a sense of ownership far beyond anything else.

Time to Purge

So recently my wife has decided that I have too many cycling magazines and I’ve been set to the task of thinning out my collection.  So far the most keepers have come from Bike, Triathlete, Dirt Rag, and Outside.  The biggest losers have been Cycle Sport and Pro Cycling (though I love Pro Cycling’s website: Bike Radar).  I’m sure someone, somewhere has a reason why I ought to keep the results of the ’07 Vuelta close at hand, but I don’t see one.  The race result-based magazines have certainly taken the biggest hit, while magazines with product reviews, training tips and stories are spared the axe because they are more likely to be revisited by me in the future.  Maybe this is a sign of how my riding will be this year—shedding the unnecessary pounds to become a svelte racing machine.  Or maybe just a trimmer riding machine.  One can hope.