Thursday, October 29, 2009

Popsicle Toes.

Yep, that is me all over as soon as the mercury dives below the 60s. Even in the 50s I can get chilled at the piggy level and by the time I am in the 40s and below, it is only a matter of time till the cold creeps in to numb my feet.

So, this year, I am fighting back with these:

I really do not need full on winter snow rides for me or really that much rain, usually cold wind. But one ride last year was wet, cold, and colder as we climbed. Finally even the exertion of riding uphill did not keep me warm. Brrr. No toes at all, as far as I could tell.

Heck, my normal riding shoes have mesh panels in the toe section! I have tried wool socks, plastic bags, etc. That helped, but cubes. I am hoping I can cut the wind factor, add a great deal of water resistance, gain insulation in the construction of the shoe, and give my feet a fighting chance. The next step is the chemical warmers, which makes sense for a epic cold ride. But, this should get me out the door and back home again with warm feet on 2 hour, local winter rides.

If they do, I will be a happy man. And warmer. Pigs in a blanket, you might say.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Dark, have been my dreams of late"

"Dark, have been my dreams of late" - King Theoden, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.

The Dark Side that is singlespeeding has been working its way into my thoughts whenever I think of long bike rides. For instance, the WRIAD; White Rim In A Day. It is a ride that means a long day in the saddle in the wilds near Moab, Utah. I would like to do that someday and it makes little sense to do that on a hardtail SS when I have a multi geared FS in the garage. So, why then, when I think of this type of ride do I envision it being done on an SS?

I think some of it may be romantic delusion cuz the reality is that I am no where near as fit and young as most of the SS riders who are doing long rides across the country. But, even though I know it would still fires me up to do it that way.

What is the deal?

For some reason I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction standing and pedaling that rolling stairmaster from hell, a satisfaction that I do not quite get on the FS. It is perplexing, is it not?

Yesterday I was riding a steep section of trail near me and I passed two riders at the beginning of the climb. Sections are ride able SS and others are granny ring, nose of the saddle steep, so that meant pushing. I would pull away from the geared rider and then get reeled back in on the uber steeps. At one point we rode side by side. He looked over and commented on the SS, saying that he had tried that and it was not for him. "I understood", I said and then pedaled up the trail, dropping him on the next climb. It sure felt good to do that.

I bet his dreams are different than mine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Race Across The Sky

Last night I went to the special showing of Race Across The Sky, the documentary of the Leadville 100 mtn bike race. The theater was filled with bike freaks from my area, many of them I knew, some I did not, but the experience was pretty cool.

It was very Lance focused, but give him his due...he is an amazing cyclist and has a hammer for a motor and the will to use it hard against anyone or anything that gets in his way. If it was not for Lance, I wonder if the film would have even been made? Likely not, and even if it had been, it will be watched by more non-bikie folks cuz the Lance factor is there.

But ya gotta pull for Dave W. I met him once and he was just the nicest down to earth guy. I can totally see goin' for a ride with Dave (as long as he waits for me). The part where he crests the top of the long, cold climb, hits the turn around point and thanks the volunteers who are there in all that ugly, cold, nasty weather....that is character. Character always will out, good or bad.

Something I noticed...Lance wins the race to the cheers of the crowd, finishing the last few miles on a rear flat. Post finish line, he is whisked away by his 'people' and others, security folks, etc. to some trailer somewhere. Dave crosses the line in second place and is greeted by his family...wife, kids...all on camera. I like Dave's ending better.

I would have liked to have seen more historical footage and seen more from the guys like Tinker, but the stories from the 'average' guys and gals were touching and inspiring. All in all it was well worth it and I will be sure to add it to my library alongside stuff like 24 Solo and Seasons.

Makes ya want to ride.

I am so glad I am a mtn biker. I am glad I like to do hard things. I am glad I know and have known lots of great folks that feel the same way. Cycling rocks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hubba Hubba

Some new SS wheels are in the making and these are the centerpiece (literally) of the new hoops. Suave, no?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Congrats to the 24Hr SS Solo National champs, Dave and Lynda of Team 2 Epic. Good people, great riders, true winners. Proud to know ya' both.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just your basic ride report.

I finally got out of the local woods into the semi-local woods for a bike ride. I went out with Tony the Tiger, he on his V1 Sultan and I on the SS Jabberwocky. Unfortunately, my camera died the death of a thousand grains of sand at Bootleg, so I had to resort to the internet for my pics of the journey. The images may not be exactly what we saw, but the spirit of the journey is totally accurate. Any bike ride is, after all, a grand adventure.

We began our journey by being suitably equipped. Having the right clothing makes a huge difference in the success of any big ride. The sailor hats are for the long climbs and are fabulous for keeping the rising sun out of our eyes and I cannot say enough good things about the wool jerseys and long cut baggies. For the downhills we donned leather helmets, of course. Both of us are experimenting with the fixie/hipster phenom, so you may notice the alternate bars. So far, so good.

We had enough food for the day, including a nice balance of protein and carbs using the 'real food' approach to endurance riding (say no to Powerbars). We believe in the 4:1 ratio, so we had 4 times as much food as any one person needed. Perfect.

We also had a map. The GPS unit is nice, but it is no substitute for an up to date map. The world is a big place, after all.

We began at the base of a pretty big climb and it was a lot of work on the SS. Soon enough we had risen above the valley floor and got a good look at where we had begun.

The ride took us into open grasslands and changing temps. I am always amazed at how the local mountains can surprise me with new and different looks depending on the time of the year.

We also began to see some native wildlife.

It was hunting season and the forest was full of folks looking to score a freezer full of venison. We were lucky enough to catch a couple of sportsmen returning from a successful hunt.

We also rode past some locals who seemed to be ready to accept all the trail users that day. It is nice to see that attitude with all the trail/land conflicts that we are involved in. You can see the open, friendly looks on the faces here. Not shown is the "Say No To More Wilderness" bumper sticker on the family car. A nice touch, I thought.

Back on the trail, we kept climbing into the old growth forest. I am pretty sure it was old growth cuz I sure was feeling my old age as the day's mileage grew. There was some traffic on the trail, but we followed the old adage of 'yield to the uphill driver of the horse wagon' and everything was fine.

We ended up climbing a bit higher than expected and the winter seemed to be more real here than when we began. Our wool clothing proved to be a real benefit here and the sailor hats were all we really needed to avoid the blowing snow.

Mountain bikes are an amazing conveyance. For a simple weekend jaunt in the country, the 4 hours we spent riding seemed like a true adventure. Hopefully next weekend I can really get out of town, but if not, there is always the local stuff like this, and with a bit of imagination, you never know what you will find.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lack of Stoke

Notice the lack of riding pics lately? I have. Boring. I have not been on a good ride since the Utah trip with Team 2-EPic and Ed the Tall. That has to change. All my riding of late has been local and fun-ish, but really...I am getting pretty good at riding in a big, local rut.

Heck, I have not even gotten more than an hour from home to go riding. Ugh. I think I need to fix that.

Maybe tomorrow.

Sock Love

Recently I was sent some samples of socks. Yeah, I know...yawn. But not so fast. These socks rock. Swiftwick has something right when it comes to snuggly, comfy and supportive footsie wraps. I am going to wear these through some Fall conditions before I make a final judgment, but so far, they are my go to socks among a batch of other players in the game.

Happy feet. Give 'em a try.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Points Of Contact

Just recently the concept of Points Of Contact came to my mind. By that, I mean the points where we contact the bike with our bodies: gloves/grips/bars, shorts/saddle, and shoes/socks/pedals. I list the entire suite of items in each POC (Point Of Contact) as they all need to be considered. Now, sometimes we agonize over one thing, such as which bar sweep and rise is perfect, but then buy whatever glove is on sale.

Or perhaps we may do the same for pedals and get whatever shoes the bike shop has in stock. We may not think about socks at all. Got gym socks? Got game.


So recently I have been reminded to pay attention to all the parts of the POC. First there was the new grips on the SS, the Ergon GA1 grips. I am still checking them out, but so far I am quite surprised at how much difference the shaped grip has made in the area of bike control.

Another example was the recent Demo Days where I was un-lucky to ride a few saddles that were not WTB products (OK, the Specialized ones were pretty good too). But the ones from the Bontrager line of stuff were pretty horrible IMO and the fizik saddle on the Giant XTC 29er 1 has Marquis De Sade stamped on it.

Then, the Swiftwick Socks arrived at the house. Wow, I already had discovered I liked Specialized shoes, but I was using and being pretty happy with whatever cycling sock I found as I went along. the Swiftwick Merino wool blend is like a snuggly blanket for your feet.

It can be a lot of trouble and some cost to find the products that work for you. I have 4 pairs of baggies but only the Specialized Demo short is the comfy one for long days. Of course, it was the last one I bought before I found that out. Now I know.

I probably would not have bought a fancy grip like the Ergons, but I am glad I won them as it has been well worth trying.

It can take time to find what works for you but when you do, you will have added one more piece to the puzzle of improving your performance. The end result is a much enhanced cycling experience. If you are just left with uninhibited pedaling (other than your fitness...or in my case, lack thereof) then the ride is better, faster, richer. Who would have thought that socks could do all that?