After reading Chris's post below I've got to rub it in a little bit that I was able to get out yesterday and hit the dirt. After a week of frustrating work, I threw the bike on the rack and headed down to Morrisville to hit Crabtree and some of the other associated trails.
Rather than hit Rocky Road -- not my favorite trail -- I headed to a newly cut trail across the road from RR. I'm not sure what the trail's name is (it's a bandit trail and you've got to be one of the cool guys to be in the know), but it was a fun few miles. It's one of those weird suburban trails that has lots of miles squeezed into just a few acres, with the trail twisting back on itself over and over again: at one point there are three segments of trail running parallel to one another, each a different direction, and all within fifteen or twenty feet from one another. Still, it was a fun trail, and reminded me a lot of what Rocky Road looked like a few years ago when I first road it, and before it was eroded down to the ugly mess it is today.
I still had some daylight, so I sprinted across Old Reedy Creek to hit Crabtree. I realize that this isn't the most exciting trail in the area, and that it's certainly not difficult, but this really is a great trail: it has lots of traffic, but it's well-managed and is constantly changing, with new obstacles on it every time I ride it (admittedly not that often). Right now some of the park staff and volunteers are working on a pump track, which should be a nice addition. I also found some new log stacks, and the elusive loop 6 that I'd never ridden before. Together with the "beginner skinnies" and the artificial rock garden, this is a great trail in the middle of the city. I really wish that there was something like this a little closer to Durham -- even in it! -- where people could get an afternoon ride in, as well as be introduced to the sport.
Take that, P-ride cold kids! Really, though, I hope that you guys warm up reasonably quickly. Let's hope we can ride tomorrow.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
After reading Chris's post below I've got to rub it in a little bit that I was able to get out yesterday and hit the dirt. After a week of frustrating work, I threw the bike on the rack and headed down to Morrisville to hit Crabtree and some of the other associated trails.
that was stupid.
i'm not sure how it switched from sunny and 80 on friday to rainy and 40 on saturday. and i'm not sure how i decided not to ride on friday and instead to ride on saturday. 12 miles and 10 frozen digits later i'm drinking tea, still trying to warm up. i need to figure out a way to fatten-up my hands so they don't get so c-c-cold. brian and ben had the right idea of escaping the rain and weaseling a car ride home. okay, well that's the end of training for the day. i'll dig the winter gloves back out of the closet and try again tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The hoops on my Cannondale have been showing their age lately, so I've been searching around for a new set of wheels. The old Mavic Cosmoses (sp?) that I've been rocking for a few years were listing out of round and making weird noises that dosing them with lube was no longer helping. After hemming and hawing a bit I scored a set of Fulcrum Racing 5's from a very generous friend: Tom C's deal on this barely used wheelset, complete with Schwalbe Stelvio tires and high performance Schwalbe tubes really was generous. Add to the price the fact that Tom takes immaculate care of his equipment (we bonded over how many coats of wax we'd put on our bike frames), and I was happy with wheels before they were even on the bike.
I mounted the wheels up last night and took them out for a spin today. I think they're good looking wheels, but I'm not sure the red and white decals complement my frame all that much. (Then again, there's not that much to complain about: between the frame, fork, and seatpost has 'Cannondale' emblazoned on it no less than thirteen times.) The Fulcrums aren't significantly lighter than my Mavics -- a few grams or so -- and I didn't notice any difference in them as I spun them up to speed. I did notice the stickiness of the Schwalbe tires: my old rubber was getting pretty worn, so standing up and hearing these things stick to the pavement was nice.
Most importantly, the Fulcrums are significantly stiffer than the Mavics, which could be charitably called 'pliant.' The Fulcrums manage to be both stiff and forgiving. Whereas in the past I would often rub the tires on the brake pads when standing and climbing (or lately when seating and climbing), with the Fulcrums not only was there no rubbing, but the bike felt much more stable and predictable. In the past sprints were a bit of a adventure, with the bike rocking back and forth in sometimes unpredictable or downright frightening ways, and while I didn't do any sprints on my solo ride, standing up to climb felt more exact. Cornering was better too, and I felt like I could lean on the bars and weight the frame better with the new wheels on.
The best thing about the wheels was that the ride was much 'quieter' than before. This seems counterintuitive -- you'd think that stiffer wheels would make for a harsher ride -- but instead the bike felt like it stuck to the ground better, with less bouncing on chatter bumps and no wind-up on larger hits. It didn't turn the 'Dale into a carbon wonder (I still largely stand by my review of the bike from back when I bought it), but on the chip-seal surface of University Station I felt much more comfortable and in control of the bike.
It's obviously a bit early to have a final opinion on them, but I think I'm going to enjoy putting these things through a thorough test.
Well, I gave the Tuesday ride a second go at it hoping that I would fair better than the first try...
As I peddled up to the shop I noticed that the group was much smaller this week so my hopes were higher that some of the freak shows on bikes wouldn't rip my legs off in the first few miles. As it turned out I think 15 guys or so made it and it was a bit more reasonable riding, for me at least.
The traditional first run up Mt. Sinai was fairly easy going with a little acceleration after the top to shake things up. The pace mellowed as we looped around for the second run up. I was trying my best to hang at the back and not take a pull in an effort to conserve as much energy as possible but inevitably somehow I ended up on the front as we were on Kurley heading from Cornwallis to Sinai. I decided to take an easy pull, keep the pace reasonable and pull off as we made the turn towards the ascent. As soon as we hung a right, I turned to the guy next to me and said that I was swinging off. He looked relieved thinking the same thing I was... no way in hell I am leading this group up that climb.
We gently pulled to the side only to hear Bergler whisper in disgust...nice timing. He was right behind me and forced to take the group up the road. As you can imagine, the attacks began and the group got even smaller.
Over the top, I ended up with two other guys as we chased to catch two guys up the road and had a group of 4 chasing behind. Fortunately, the two guys up the road slowed down a bit so we could catch on and the other group latched on shortly there after. Somehow I managed to hang on to the end and finished up with the group.
Honestly, It was a much easier ride than the previous week but I will take what I can get. There were only two guys that were really strong and they just took monster pulls and kept everyone in enough pain that attacks were nullified.
Thought you guys might like to hear about the ride and I hope to see you there next week.
Monday, March 24, 2008
This is my first go at a posting from mapmyride.com so I hope this works out...
Geoff, The Professor AKA Chris Oishi, and I headed out for a tempo ride in celebration of Easter. It ended up being a bit under 4 hours of beautiful countryside. We knocked off just under 70 miles, had a few laughs and great conversation. Here is the route below...
We all had a blast and I ended up with pretty tired legs. Geoff was pretty wiped out as well. The professor said that we worked him but personally I think he was just toying with us. He probably went out and reversed the loop on his own or something insane like that.
If you have not ridden with either of these guys recently, they are animals and are tearing the wind in half. I am getting excited about the up and coming racing season. If we continue to work hard maybe we can make something happen.
Until later, keep riding...
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I left Redding early Thursday morning for a drive down for San Francisco where my conference was. I'd never been to California before, much less San Fran, so I was pretty excited. I did make one mistake: I booked a hotel on Fisherman's Wharf, which turns out to be a strip of tourist-related activities, the majority of which I had no interest in. However, I did spot a few bike rental places that advertised the chance to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. I was intrigued, but professional duties kept me tied up for the next couple of days.
I was able to break free on Saturday afternoon and dropped by Bay City Bike for a ride. They outfitted me with a Giant Ranier: nothing fancy, but a serviceable hardtail that seemed more than enough for my needs. Faced with fading light and plenty of adrenaline, I sprinted to the Golden Gate Bridge and then into the Marin headlands.
I really can't say enough about how great this ride was: I started with a long climb on the road up to a WWII battery, then I looped back around for a long singletrack downhill, through a valley and then a long fire road climb. I dipped through some stables, then back up and over a ridge, down to a lagoon to watch some surfers, then up and over the hill and back to the bridge.
I know that doesn't make too much sense, so just look at the pictures, OK?
The view over the ocean to the northwest:
The trusty steed looking west toward the far side of the Bay. Notice the super-fly bag in the front for necessaries. Yes, it looked really silly, and tended to bounce around a little on the downhills, but it was convenient for grabbing the camera and taking quick shots without even getting off of the bike. I'm not sure if I'm ready to put one on the Ferrous, being as how it's fred-tastic and all, but it did make me think how I'd like a more quick-draw pouch for my camera. The bag did clearly ID me as a tourist, though, which I suppose also served to tell people to get out of my way.
The stables, just kickin' it with some peeps:
Down in the valley:
Doesn't this look like a classic California shot? (It actually reminds me of The Goonies.)
The sun is setting at my back, so it's time to put the jets on and head back to...
The Bridge, from the Marin headlands:
I hope the pictures give a description of the ride that I can't. I was amazed at the amount of climbing that was involved: while Google Earth only shows around 1000 ft. of total change, I felt like I did that over and over again. Again, I've got no idea how far I went, but I was out for just under four hours and was totally worked at the end of it.
One thing that I developed a new appreciation for while in California -- and especially on this ride -- were gears. Not only did I use the little ring on this bad boy, I used it on the road climb. I'll admit to not being in the greatest shape, but I thought that my SSing had turned me into a decent climber. Alas, if I were to move to California I would have to revise that assessment. I don't think that I embarrassed myself -- or Bull City Cycling -- out there, but neither was I ascending the hills on wings of angels. Clearly I need to do a little more of the B-Swad training plan before I rest on my climbing laurels.
In short, California is just as beautiful as everyone says it is, and those kids can climb.
I got a chance to head out to a conference in San Francisco, and decided to go up early to visit my brother in Redding. For those of you not in the know, Redding is a smallish town on the far northern end of California's central valley, surrounded by mountains, most of which are volcanic. (Random fact of the day: Lassen was the most recent volcano to erupt in the US before Mount St. Helens in 1980.)
My brother works for a local land trust, and has thus gotten the chance to really get to know the area since he moved there in the fall. My parents were up visiting as well, and little bro' gave us a pretty extensive driving tour, complete with a few short day hikes. For the sake of brevity, I'll include just a few of the pics that I got a chance to snap.
The roads out there were spectacular, each one seeming to offer a better climb than the last, and the trails seemed challenging and varied. All of which made me wish that I had a bike with me, better lungs, and about a month to ride.
I got one of the three. My brother hooked me up with his friend "Double D" who works at the local newspaper and he set me up with an old Trek 850 in great condition. It was about a dozen years old, with the old made-in-the-USA chromoly frame, cantilever brakes, and 7-speed rapid-fire shifting, all in great condition. I few adjustments, a stop by the local bike shop for some air, and I headed up the mountain for a quick ride.
D had the Trek pimped out in full commuter mode, with slicks and a rear rack, so I didn't think I could do much in terms of trail riding. Still, I headed out of Redding in a light rain and up toward a small local park. After a few twists and turns, I found Mary Lake and the trails around it. They weren't bad, though they kinda reminded me of California's version of Lake Crabtree: relatively close to town, well-ridden, but not particularly scenic when compared with other local options. Granted, the fog was thick enough when I was there that I couldn't really see much, but the brush was pretty dense.
There was climbing, though: according to Google Earth there are only about 400 ft of elevation gain between the ridge and the hills to their west, but that was plenty for me. The bike went up well, and I was only held back by the slicks on the rear. There were a few jumps and freeride-like stunts, but on a loaner bike I decided to skip them. Oh, and I remembered that I'm scared. On the trail:
A view from the top:
At the risk of sounding like a technophobe, the Trek totally rocked. Sure it was rigid, but the steel gave a smooth ride and shifts were strong and crisp. Even the cantilevers -- something that I never remember being strong -- offered sufficient stopping power. Maybe I didn't feel like going big on the ride, but I'm not sure that was the ride.
What I could have used were some clipless pedals. I've got to agree with Chris in his post to a recent thread on TMTB: clipless pedals really do offer better control and power than the plastic flats and the running shoes that I was sporting.
After a number of twists and turns, and more than a few backtracks, I wandered back down to Redding and rode their River Trail, which is everything that a greenway should be: fast, flowy, no-tech, but with just enough curves and rises to keep things interesting, and scenery that wouldn't quit. I've got no idea how many miles I got in, but I was out for a total of three hours on a day and a trip when I didn't think that I'd get anything, which was pretty amazing.
Props to my brother for finding the bike for me and double D for the loan. I was sore for a couple of days, a testament to both the quality of the ride and my lack of fitness.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
I just got back from a weekend trip to Asheville and thought I would share the experience with you guys. My girlfriend had a volleyball tournament on Saturday so she invited me to come and check it out and sneak off for a ride. Of course, I took her up on the opportunity loaded up the car and headed to the mountains.
We arrived late Friday nite and just chilled out at the hotel. I got up early and dropped her off at the tournament and boogied on back to the hotel to get suited up for the ride. As I was driving back I was trying to think of a road ride. I have been to Asheville several times to hang out and have spent some time in Brevard on the MTB but never hit the road. I figured the best thing to do was to link up with the Blue Ridge Parkway and go from there.
I got some quick directions from the front desk and headed out. The sky was ominous and it was pretty chilly out so I was ready to get going. As you guys know, I tend to go a little lite on the clothing as I hate to sweat in the cold temps. I was hoping for a nice climb to get the blood flowing and a solid warm up.
As soon as I turned onto the parkway, I let out a little scream "Hell Yea". I love climbing on the road bike in the mountains, it makes me so happy. I just wish that I was better at it!
Anyway, I fed into the parkway and was faced with the decision head north towards Asheville or South towards Brevard. As I love the riding in Brevard I decided to head South...that turned out to be a great decision as the road north is basically just a bunch of small rollers with a couple of small climbs.
I hung a left heading south and immediately started up hill. I love the solitude of climbing, it's so peaceful and therapeutic for me. I found myself clicking along staring at the scenery and finding my rhythm. The roads were completely vacant without a car in sight. I think I saw 4 cars the whole ride it was primo.
About 25 minutes into the climb I saw a group of 5 guys zipping down the mountain with huge grins on their faces. I recognized them from the hotel and we gave each other the traditional head nod and I got out of the saddle to stretch the legs. Just as I saw them I began to think, I wonder how long this climb will be? Didn't they head out an hour or so ahead of me?
I passed a mile marker and made note of it mentally so I could keep track. The road continued to wind and the legs began to feel better so I shifted from the 25 to the 23 then the 21 then the 19 then the 17...oops too much so I backed off to the 21 and just noodled for a while. Before long, I had passed a couple more markers and realized that I was 6 miles into the climb and loving every minute of it. The breathing was under control and the heart rate was slowing down...recovery is a nice thing.
I started going through a couple of those tunnels that are cut right out of the mountain and I got a little nervous as they are pitch black for a little bit, not so bad on the climb but could be a factor on the descent. I came out of the first tunnel and got hit with a little rain, I started thinking about the descent and the challenges that it may pose. Nevertheless I kept climbing. With each mile the grin on my face got bigger and bigger and the pain in the legs got greater and greater.
There is just something about climbing that changes my perspective on riding bikes. My body goes through all kinds of emotions and pain but at the end of the climb it feels so satisfying. It makes me want to come back for more.
It turns out that I went through 7 tunnels and the climb topped out at just over 14 miles. It was beautiful and I can't wait to do it again.
The descent, on the other hand, was a bit grizzly. The wind picked up ripping across the mountain pass, the road was wet and while those zero gravity brakes excel in the bling factor they are not very efficient at slowing you down.
To add to that, I had to release the front brake before the ride because my wheel was rubbing a little bit. I found myself going 40+mph on rain soaked roads with limited stopping power, then I hit the tunnels. The fist 5 were short and I zipped right through them with no worries. The final two were a bit longer and stressful. I would say there was at least 5 seconds of complete darkness. I just had to hold on and hope for the best. Luckily, I faired well and headed back home.
I was glad to pop off the first real climb of the year and I am super motivated to get the team up to Boone and start hitting the hills. Sorry for no pictures, I forgot the camera.
See you guys soon,
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Let's face it, cycling is a hobby that takes up alot of free time. That's tough on my wife and son sometimes because it can interfere with quality time together. Here are a couple of ways I stay on the bike without losing much time with them. Commuting is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. I've got to get to work so why not do it on the bike instead of in the car. My commute is about 12mi each way which takes me 45min on the bike and at least 15min in the car (best case traffic). Yeah I have to get up a little earlier but I only miss 30min of time with my family in the afternoon. Lots of side benefits too like the money saved on gas, less mileage on my car, and I just feel better at work when I ride in. Another great ride for me is to hook up my son's sidecar and take him with me. We can get about 18mi hitting all the adjoining neighborhoods without doubling up any streets. Not only does Luke love it, but Trisha really likes the alone time she gets while the boys are out on an adventure. Sometimes we'll load up the rig and head to Umstead for a change of scenery. I'm really looking forward to the day when he can hold himself up on a trail-a-bike.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Anyways, on Sunday many miles were logged, thousands of feet of elevation were gained, too many Clif Bars were consumed (no hard boiled eggs this weekend) and only minor mishaps occurred on the trail. Bent Creek is a fast paced, elevation heavy, mountain bike roller coaster ride. I love it. Mills River.....well it will kick you in the face if you are not careful. Luckily....I escaped with only frozen toes this trip.
Well we had a pretty good showing at the March 2008 Durham Critical Mass. It was a perfect weather day and a fairly large crowd showed up for the 8 mile event. A happy and social time was had by all. Dave, Ali, Pirate, and myself mixed, mingled and cycled with an eclectic group of Durham cyclists.
Part 1 (the ride): Pirate and I met JD at Beaverdam this evening for a "night ride." With sunset at 7.30 and a ranger-mandated and -enforced notice to vacate the parking lot by 8pm, the night portion of the ride was brief. While short on the darkness, the ride did not lack for speed: JD and particularly Pirate were killing it tonight. Although Pirate claims to be of lesser fitness during the early part of this season, there was no evidence of this being the case this evening. A longer post may be forthcoming. Stay tuned for pictures.
Part 2 (over heard post-ride): We returned to D-town and ran into cyclocross specialist, all-around good guy, and materials specialist to Duke's efforts to produce an invisible cape (long story) Jonah while in line for burritos. It was great to see Jonah and hear about his goings-ons, especially as he and I had been out of town for parts of the last year. It was during dinner when I heard Pirate say "I've always wanted to do a race while wearing a stuffed bear costume," something I thought particularly worthy of sharing on this blog.
[Many thanks to Big Pun for today's title.]
Ali and I loaded up el truckadora and headed out to Beaverdam for a TMTB-sponsored night ride, where we met JD in the parking lot. (He'd already done something like four laps and one hundred pushups.) Ali was sporting some new bling, and we spent some time in the parking lot admiring it.
Unlike last time, rather than rolling out in a big group, we were able to spin around all by our lonesome, threading through the woods in fading light and beautiful 60 degree weather. In fact, other than the beautiful weather, the night ride was only really remarkable for how uneventful it was: just a really nice spin in the woods. Oh, Ali did get a little carnage, but nothing too bad:
I think he'll survive.
All-n-all, a good night: we were crushing, enough to make Big Pun proud.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Tonight was the first night for the weekly DCC/BCD shop ride, aka the FakeRace (not the fakerace). The course is pretty straightforward: out 751, over to Kerley, up Mt. Sinai (oh ye of myth and lore), scoot around on Friends school to Cornwallis (hi Coach K!), then Kerley to Sinai (more myth, more lore), University Station to the final sprint on Old NC 10.
Basically it's been roughly the same route since Chris and Adam Haile suggested that rather than go down Mt. Sinai, all the cool kids wanted to go up. Twice. Adam has long since moved on to bigger and better things (like Ohio), but the rest of us are left lugging our ample posteriors up the hill. Twice.
Today we had a smattering of BCCers: Ali and I showed up at the shop, and Linus met us there, having already done something like a double century (that's the scuttlebutt). (Rumors also had it that Brian was going to show up, but that are unconfirmed reports that he never made it back from Tennessee.) Chris met us out on the road, where it was basically us, half the Franklin Street team, and a couple of random guys thrown in for good measure. Not a huge crew, but not bad for the first outing of the year.
The ride itself was fine. Which is a gentleman's way of saying I got dropped. Not until the top of the second climb up Sinai (the weight of all the myth may have been holding me back), which wasn't bad for my fourth road ride of the year (excuses, excuses), but early enough to teach me that training is a good thing. Ali fell back around the same time, and Linus rolled off after sneering at our measly sub-30 mile ride, but Chris made the break and ended up in the chase group that tried but never succeeded in pulling in two FSCers that went off the front. I'm not sure how he did in the final sprint, but lacking corroborating evidence I'll say that he crushed them.
Chris and I rolled back into town for the obligatory post-ride rub of Major's nose and then hit the showers. Needless to say I'm tired, but it was good to actually mix it up a little on the road, even if the only mixing I was doing was with myself for the last five miles.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Or here's hoping:
If you look closely you'll notice that not only do I have a fancy new Brooks saddle on my Redline, but it's mounted on a Specialized carbon fiber seatpost, complete with Zertz inserts, or some such nonsense. Rather than a product of my continued search for upgrades (at Beyoncé's urging, of course), it was more my need for a setback post and Geoff's finding this lying around the shop.
I'm hoping that this takes care of some, er "problems" that I've been having of late. If not immediately, then at least once my posterior perspiration takes care of the breaking in. (Umm, tasty...)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
This morning B-Swad and I set out from Durham in search of four hours of the Triangle's most scenic roads. Under grey skies, strong winds but otherwise balmy conditions, we found them. The conversation and pace were good; exactly what I need to shake off the recent onset of a funk. We climbed the good ones, Sinai, Borland, and Johnston Mill, together and I was left to grunt up Pleasant Green alone as Ben and I split at Saint Mary's and he headed home via another route. It was shortly after we parted ways that the promised rain delivered, coming down in a cleansing torrent. I enjoyed that solid rainfall for a good six miles, contentedly thinking back to many rainy rides this last summer and in years past. As I rolled the final deuce, the sun shown with strength for the first time that day. Its presence today was brief and like our ride itself, will be sweetly recalled.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Hello Bull City Cyclists....This is my first blog so I am crossing my fingers that it turns out well.
Daniel, Linus and I met up at 10:30 today and headed out for a mountain ride at Beaverdam. Daniel was early, of course, and ready to rock and roll. Linus hasn't ridden his MTB for about a month or so and was thinking he was a bit rusty. As you can see, he still ripped it up...
Daniel was cheesin' while catchin' air. In case you didn't know his nickname is Dirty Hairy..."got one question for you kid, do you feel lucky?"
Then there is me, Daniel said that he's not a photographer so he missed the shot...I think that I was just too fast for the shutter. Ha Ha!!!
All in all it was a great ride and a good time. No major crashes, although Linus' chain popped off 7+ times. I don't know how he did it. Dude kept a cool head and kept riding, personally I would have thrown a temper tandrum but hey that's just me!
As you can see, the weather was primo and we all threw down. I can't wait to shred Beaverdam in the race this summer. Who else is ready?
That's it for now.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
In an effort to up the ante on endurance mountain bike training and break the winter monotony of Beaver Dam, New Light, Duke Forest, Beaver Dam, New Light, Duke Forest...etc...JD and myself ventured down to Uwharrie National Forest rollin' in speedy style aboard Bull City Cycling Team Vehicle #1.....JD's 350Z (our response to Michael Ball and Rock Racing). At first I was a bit nervous that we would arrive at Uwharrie sans bicycles.....but after one missed exit (on I-73/I-74/US220/whatever this road is called now) we met up with former Durhamite turned Charlottian - Wicked Mike.
We turned some fast laps on Super Tree and Keyauwee, riding everything forwards, backwards and sideways. After 30+ miles of intense up and down singletrack with some fireroad action mixed in the middle we came to the following conclusions:
- The Cohutta 100 is only seven weeks away.
- The Cohutta 100 is over three times as long as what we rode at Uwharrie.
- The Cohutta 100 is going to hurt.
- JD wants to trade his 350Z for a 1970's El Camino SS that we saw for sale in Troy, NC.