Monday, June 22, 2009

First Metric Century

I was sitting at home wanting to go out to West Branch yesterday. I knew it was going to be too wet to ride, so I went out into the garage and started to do some work on my bikes. Working out in the garage I realized that one year ago yesterday was my first ride at West Branch. Before that I had taking my Walmart Mongoose out to Quails Hollow many times before. Those laid down the foundation for me, but I was just lazily going around a flat course. No Offense to Quail Hollow, love that place, but you can be lazy and slow on that course. West Branch kicked my butt. I struggled to get up the first hill out of the ravine, doing it in my granny gear and not making it up without getting off. I remember that day as being very painful. I sweated like a pig and almost throw up. I ended up heading back to the trail early (made a wrong turn and ended back to path back to the car). That was humbling day for me to say the least. I knew then I had no fitness what so ever. It was the first time where I had been defeated and I vowed that day to conquer that course. Needless to say, I conquered later that season and many times after. This year I'm able to ride that course in the big chainring no problem. I still have a couple rock gardens to clear but I'll be back to conquer those sections. It's just a reminder of where I've come in one year. From a guy on a mongoose struggling to ride, to a much stronger rider this year.

Today I decided to work on my endurance so I'm a little ready for the Wayne Ultra this week end. I had wanted to do an Imperial century (100 miles) but with my road buddies off doing other rides (sara at Goba, and John doing a recovery from his ride yesterday). I decided to shoot for a metric century. I headed up the Metro Parks MUP towards the valley and rode into the valley on Truxell. I then did a 30 mile loop around the valley including three major climbs. I took the MUP back home and was cooked by the end.
Total Mileage- 64.3
Avg speed- 16.6
Time-3 hours 53 minutes.
Elevation Gain-2800 feet

Friday, June 19, 2009

Feeling Good

This past month I've been feeling pretty good. I'm getting my bike where I want it and my legs have felt really good. Kinda wish there was a race sometime soon so I could get out there. Turthfully, I feel there is a little redemption for the last two races. Neither race was a good race for me. I worked the night before and I felt it during the race. So now I know not to work the night before. There's still that unfinished bussiness of having two bad races before a long break.

I currently got Off Road to Athens. If you haven't seen this movie and race mountain bikes I suggest you go and get it right now. Here's a clip from my favorite scene.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A perfect bike?

Today I headed out to my favorite trail, Medina's Reagan Park, with my good friend Mike. We both pulled into the parking lot at the same time and saw a sea of cars. Apparently Reagan Park was holding a huge soccer tournament. We somehow found parking next to each other and got ready. After suiting up we headed over to check out a certain manufacture demo tent. They were at West Branch yesterday and were at Reagan today. We had planned this ahead of time, and planned on doing two laps and then demoing some bikes. When we approached the tent we learned that they had arrived earlier today at the prescribe location at Reagan Park couldn't find the trail head and no one was around so they decided to set up over at Huffman Park. Since it was already packed because of the tournament they were asked to move back to where they were giving permission to set up their tents. The representative was a little salty and was packing up things and generally complaining. I was put off by this attitude, since they had decided to set up in a spot they were not giving permission to do so. They decided to pack up and head home, instead of letting potential customers demo their bikes. I was also off put by the position they put me in, since I was in my CAMBA uniform. I was stopped and asked multiple times where the specialized demo was. It made us look bad because a demo was posted at one of our trails and was cut short. Generally, this situation left me feeling uneasy about the brand.

It also made me realize how great a representative we have with Bob Myers from Trek/Gary Fisher. Bob Myers is very professional, and nice. His demos are well planned and go off without a hitch. If you ever talk to Bob, you'll quickly see that it isn't about anything other than a true love of cycling.

OK now onto the ride. I decided to bring two bikes out today. I planned to start on my new Nashbar 29er and if my legs didn't feel good I brought along my Gary Fisher Piranha hard tail to switch to on the second lap. Two factors made me make this decision. First was I was unsure of the gearing on the single speed. I'm running 32x18 with heavy wheels, second was this was the 8th day straight of a hard training week.

The first lap was a medium paced ride. Immediately from the start the heavy tires showed their weakness, add on wide risers and the cornering could only be described as cumbersome. Every change in direction happened slowly. I would turn the handlebars and it would take a second for the bike to change directions. Climbing was also labored as it was hard to get the heavy tires to spin up. The wet conditions and v-brakes meant braking wasn't crisp.It wasn't a horrible ride but it was missing something. The only excitement came when on a steep muddy downhill my front tire lost traction and I went over the bars.

We went back to the car and I switched to my Piranha. I immediately felt a difference in the two bikes. The Piranha was light and stiff. The feeling I got can only be described as being on a bike but not having a bike under you. It almost felt like I was running and not on a bike. With this I became more aware of what I love about this bike. First was it's handling. Turn the handlebars and the bike whips to your input. There were times where I swear just thinking about turning made the bike turn. When I pedaled there wasn't resistance from the pedals or wheels. Getting the wheels spun up to speed was effortless. Climbing was easy, easily staying in the big cog up all the climbs. The brakes would slow you down with the slightest pull and the fork soaked up the bumps without letting you know it was working. Gear shifts were smooth and seamless even uphill out of the saddle without even a hesitation. This got me thinking, what makes this bike so enjoyable to ride? It took me a while but I think I finally figured it out. I love this bike because I don't notice it. It's not about the bike when I'm on this bike, it's about the rider. It's the rider not the bike that makes you fast or slow.

That whole second lap I was smiling and thoroughly enjoying myself. Can't wait to get back there tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Here she is.

Since the Camba group ride got cancelled today I'm going to unviel it on my blog. Factory Rider Robert got a sneak peak at it today, and sorry Bob but it's not a Fisher. I wholeheartedly support the Gary Fisher brand and love their bikes, I own three, and those three Fishers will be my main bikes. This was definitaly a splurge, whim purchase. Don't worry Bob I haven't strayed far at all from the brand. But I will say you did have a part in this purchase.

So enough of this longwindeness, so what was in the box. Well here's what it looked like coming out of the box.

So this is my fourth mountain bike, and it's a rigid single speed 29er. I picked this particular bike because it's what my bank account could afford.I had been looking at the Fisher Mamba, and dreaming of a procaliber but knew I couldn't afford either of those for a while. I also wanted a rigid ss because I had a hardtail and full suspension 26er's already in my stable to handle all the race courses around the area. This bikes purpose is fun. All my other bikes beg to be ridden fast. I've set them up this way and each time I get on them I just want to go as fast as possible. This bike will be for the days where I just want to enjoy a ride through the single track and not worry about my training plan. To get back to my first few months of riding, before the racing bug bit me, where it was about the bike and the trail. No suspension settings or lockout, no gear changes, just myself pushing the pedals with a smile on my face.

The first thing I noticed about the 29er platform is how stable it is. Take your hands off and ride no handed and the bike feels like your hands are still on the bars. It's that effortless. Of course, it's harder to get the tires to spin up and doesn't have the snap getting up to speed, but once it's up to speed it's much easier to keep the pace. I feel more confident descending with the bigger wheels, higher handlebars and widers bars. Ascending is a small bit harder. If you have momentum the bike carries you up the hill, but if you lose momentum it's a lot harder to get the tires moving again.

Now to the actual bike, it's a little on the heavy side out of the box, at 25 pounds. A lot of this is in the wheels and fork. The wheels are definitly the weakest link of the bike. They are heavy, non disk (even though the bike comes with disk tabs) and the hubs are not that good. I may have another set lined up which will be much better. The fork is just heavy and I'll be looking to upgrade to a new fork. Maybe the Bontrager carbon rigid fork.

The good points, first disk tabs, other bikes in this price point don't come with those so it was a nice feature. It's also ready for gears so if I ever want to take it for an epic climbing ride I can add some shifters, gears and a read derailleur and I have a 1x9 pretty easily, for all those epic climbing rides. The frame looks nice and the welds seem nice. It's nothing special but it's going to do it's job of letting me enjoy the trails. It definitly won't be used the most but it will get it's fair share. Hopefully, I'll be out at West Branch tomorrow taking it for a test ride.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guess What's in the Box

My new toy came today, anyone want to venture a guess to what it is? Come out to the Camba group ride at West Branch state park Thursday at 6 to see it. Here's the box...

Monday, June 8, 2009

CAMBA Blue Knob Camp Out

This last Friday I left for Blue Knob State Park with some hesitation. I was heading towards CAMBA's Summer camp out. It was first camp out on a new trail system. I made the long drive out there and I was rewarded with a weekend of fun.

Friday night we checked in and got settled in to our respective cabins. The camp provided ample sleeping quarters with cabins of all sizes. Some larger cabins with electricity that slept 8 or so, down to two person primitive cabins. After dropping off our gear we convened in the dining hall and sat around the fireplace, caught up with old friends and heard of adventures on the trail this year. It was a great bonding experience sitting down and talking to all the people I've met over the past year I've been with CAMBA, people I've ridden with, but haven't really gotten to meet, and people I've never met before, because our paths never crossed.

We all returned to bed early to get ready for the next day. I woke up early to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains of Blue Knob state park. I took a second out on my porch and took in the beautiful scenery. Visited another cabin and watched a baby bird take flight for the first time. What an amazing area. Helped cook the opt-in breakfast, and went and got ready for the ride.

We all assembled outside the Dining Hall and had a short meeting describing the ride. The local club ,LHORBA, came out and planned our rides and led us. They planned for every skill level and had a ride for everyone, from riders who've only been out on the trail a couple times, kids, intermediate riders who want to practice their skills and the seasoned racer. There was apprehension to go into the Expert and soon the intermediate advance group was formed with the expert group. I won't go into much detail of the actual ride, since each was different. The trail was fun to say the least, we a lot of descending and even more climbing. The paths took us up to a beautiful outlook over the entire valley and to the top of the ski hill. There were plentiful rock gardens to test your skills. Even hills that made you lose your lunch, and I'm not talking about downhills. I guess I should explain. The first climb of the day took us up a grueling hill climb. I really pushed myself hard up that hill and half way up had to stop and lost part of my breakfast.

We came back around 5ish and took a shower and ate our dinner. We all sat around for a while and old of tales of our rides. Later a roaring campfire was built and we sat around and made smores. We all slowly made our ways back to our cabins and I fell hard and slept like a log. I had done around 16 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.

The next morning we woke up ate breakfast, which I went a little easier on, and headed out for another ride. The next day we broke into smaller groups as some riders had to head home early. My group consisted of Brett Z, Mike Farley, Neil M and our rider leader. It was a good matching as we all proceeded about the same pace. We completed a loop of the "race course" which is one of the most extremely rocky courses I've have ever encountered. It was a day of friendly trash talking, pushing each other to push harder. We ended out day with another grueling hill climb. Mike F started climbing fast up the hill, and I soon caught up, wanting to relive Tour De France history he gave me "the look" I let him roll for this for a little bit keeping him right in my sights until the climb started to get steeper and I Knew we were near the top. This is where I attacked, closed the gap and crested the climb first. We rode back up to the look out, and rode down a stair step rock garden which was a blast. We ended the day with a blazingly fast downhill that topped 27mph back into camp. Showered, finished packing, said our goodbyes and headed home.

Overall, it was a great weekend, I made many new friends and had a great time. Bill Braum did an amazing job at putting this together and it's truly appreciated. Big thanks to Brian Jay for putting together the menu and cooking and finally a thanks to LHORBA who did an awesome job of leading us around the mountain. Make sure you mark your calendars because it's a week end you don't want to miss.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lost Garmin Edge

I call on you my humble followers to help me locate my Garmin Edge 305. I took it off my bike at Quails Hollow today (6-2)around 8ish and returned home and it wasn't in my bag. I fear I had left it on my trunk. If you locate it let me know, Lap seven on todays ride was 17 minutes of 48 seconds if you need something to confirm it was mine.

On a side note the 205 is still missing but I know that's somewhere hidden in my house...