Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ice Axes and Crampons

Standard cold weather mountainbiking equipment includes; long insulated riding tights, underarmour shirt, long sleeve jersey, two pairs of socks, neoprene shoe covers, good thick gloves, earmuffs, and maybe a jacket. This morning at Candler's, it would have been helpfull to have some extreme mountaineering equipment too. It started out fine, a little mucky, but managable. As we began getting to the areas less visited by the sun, the trail was glazed over with a thin layer of ice covering about an inch or so of snow. Traction was not too big of a problem, when the front wheel would break the ice, the snow gave some much needed grip. The problem was that it felt like riding trough wet concrete. Switchbacks were almost impossible and normal hills felt like mountains. We took a couple of trails that appeared to be relatively clear, only to find the steep sections were covered. Just walking up these icy traverses while pushing a bike was very strenous.
With all that said, we were still out at 7am on Saturday morning, mountainbiking with great friends. So it was a good day! I am wanting for Spring though.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Angel's Race

I am either a glutten for punishment, insane, or just easily bored. I am getting ready to sign up for the Angel's Race on April 13th. It is a sprint level triathlon! 300 meter swim, 25k bike, and 5k run. The bike section should not be too bad. Running is tough, and as I have found out by going to the Y some mornings, swimming is very intense. So I welcome anyone who will come out and compete with me, or at least cheer me on. I have a lot of training to do between mountain bike rides! I will expand more about this later. I just wanted to write a quick blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Single Speed Epic

It's time to start training for the first race of the year. It's an XXC race. So instead of 20 miles on the Dragon's Back, a very challenging and rough course, it is 35 miles with an 8 hour time limit. It will be an accomplishment just to finish.
To start training, Allen and I decided to ride at Peaksview and do 4 race laps. That's about 28 miles. Start out easy, right? We began at 10:25. The temp was about 30 degrees, so every thing was still frozen. We wanted to see how far we could go without stopping at all. We made a bet, who ever called a break first would buy protein shakes after the ride. After 1 and a quarter laps, Allen finally called a break. We ended up taking 1 break per lap, except for the last lap. We were both shredded by then.
By the third lap, the ice was turning into mud. The fourth lap was a mess. Sticky slimey mud was everywhere. The whole day was done at a medium pace, not slow, but not at race speed either. By the time we exited lap 4, I had nothing left.
It was a great training day. I have not been worked that hard in a long time. I felt very good about myself today. Tommorow we are leading a ride for some people from Roanoke at Candler's. If someone told me that I would someday be using Candler's as a recovery ride, I would have probably just laughed. Soon we will be stepping it up to 5 laps, yea!


The FROTY, the First Ride Of The Year. Something that I had never heard of until this winter and probably would not have done until this year. It takes place in Carvin's Cove, which supplies Roanoke with fresh water. None of us, Chris, Allen, Jimmy, or myself had ridden there. Our friend Jen rides there often and met us to show us the way.
I love all the Derailler trails (except the hillclimb, which is not a mountainbike trail) and Candler's beats them all. But after one day, Carvin's Cove has become my favorite mountainbiking destination. We did not even ride half of the trails there. Even what we rode, had a little of everything: fast smooth and swooping, rocks, creek croosings, large log crossings, long climbs, and whoop-dee-doos that can easily give you some hang time.
Everyone had a wonderful time. There were a lot of fellow mountainbikers out in the cold. It was not too bad at first, somewhere in the low 40's. But the combination of high winds, wet feet from the creek crossings, and the setting sun, made it a very cold ride. It could not dampen the joy of the day though.
I can not wait to go back to the Cove. Thank you Jen, for guiding our ride. Good friends. Good times. What a great way to start the new year!

The Perfect Ride?

The perfect ride is something all cyclists search for. That magical ride when everything clicks. Great weather, well maintained trails, good friends, and the abilty to overcome all challenges in front of you, all help to create the perfect ride. Unfortunately, there is no absolute "perfect" ride. What we hope to achieve, is to get as close as we can to this cycling Nirvana. I have a good ride every time I hit the trails, but this weekend was exceptional. It was very close to our goal of perfection. Of course it was not perfect. There were crashes, some slick and sticky mud, and a bit of a chill Saturday morning, but overall, I had a wonderful time on my bikes this weekend.
It started Saturday morning. I met Chris and Allen at peakview park at 7:00 AM. This is after getting home past midnight from a business trip to Kentucky Friday night. It was prety cold that morning, but after getting into the woods you warm up quick. Unfortunately, Chris could only ride for about 50 minutes. So after 5 or 6 miles Allen and I decided we would ride out with Chris, pack up, and head to Falling Creek Park in Bedford. We arrived around 9 and started the race loop. Some of trails have changed because of some clearing going on there, but we quickly got our bearing and pushed on. There was a lot of slippery mud on the first few trails, that introduced both of us to the ground a couple of times. I was riding my newer Fuel, but I was steadfast in forcing myself to ride it like a singlespeed. I never shifted the entire day. We ended up doing 2 laps, for a grand total of 20 miles for the day! Everything felt good, I was climbing well and had no problems on log pyramids or technical dowhills. It was a great day for mountainbiking, so we decided to do it again on Sunday on Candler's.
This time I brought out the MonoFuel. I had some chain popping the last time I rode it with my new design. But, after a tension spring change, It is working excellent again. I met Allen and Jimmy at the Wingate hotel at 2:30. We decided to do our normal 9+ mile loop backwards. That means a long hard climb from the start. Once again everything clicked. I was feeling great. All of the technical challenges were passed one by one. Allen and Jimmy were having good days too. We kept up a steady pace through the whole ride until the end. Then on the last mile or so, Allen and I kicked it up to race speed. It feels good when you give every ounce of strength and willpower to push yourself to the limit and beyond. When we reached the end, I had absolutely nothing left.
This weekend reminds me why I love cycling. That elusive time when the stars allign and you ride for the sheer love of the sport. Good rides frequently come and go. Great ones should be cherished.

Cycling Creation

Mountainbiking purists will tell you that the best way to really experience all that mountainbiking has to offer is to ride a fully ridgid single speed. That means no front suspension, ne rear suspension, and only one gear. Many single speeders out there will use a front suspension though. Without the worry of which gear you should be in, you concentrate on just riding. My friend Allen recently converted his hardtail bike to a single speed, not so much by choice, but more as a result of destroying his rear derailleur on Candler's Mountain. Now he loves it. So given my competitive nature, I started looking at my options for building one. Unfortunately, I do not have a hardtail bike or the money to buy one. All I have are 2 Trek Fuels. The problem, because the chain length changes when the rear suspension moves, it is very difficult to keep the correct tension. I've seen 1 production bike from Kona that was a full suspension single speed and no one makes a conversion kit specifically for full suspensions. The solution? Design and build my own. Then I decided that I was not going to spend a dime, so I also designed the sprocket and spacers. I have yet to try it out on the trail, but riding it aroung the house, it seems to work great. Check out the pictures in the Single Speed album. I love making things work that other people say can't work!