Thursday, August 25, 2011

Riding Skinny Tires

My roadie/commuter is ~20lbs of steely goodness.
So, a few weeks ago, my buddy Jeremy mentions a road ride out of a church here in Fuquay Varina on Monday nights.  Even though I had a big ride that Saturday (62 miles), I thought it might make for a nice recovery ride (and I have heard how road miles are good for endurance racing), so I joined in.  Naturally I was the only rider on a SS, and only Jeremy and I were were riding steel framed bikes.  I was thinking, "Man, these riders need to HTFU!" (o.k., not really, they were all very nice...and they were roadies, go figure!).  I was told by the organizer I should start with the 'C' group because of some of the big hills.  Surely this is because I am on a single-speed, I mentioned I don't really road ride, and honestly, I do not look that impressive.  I did my best to act like I was hurt by scrunching up my face like a just stubbed my toe.  I said, ooh, 'C' group?  Uh, I think I will at least start with 'B' group.  The B group was broken into two, so I took off with the first group for what was to be a ~24 mile ride.
I must admit, being that this was my first real road ride (other than commuting to work and back), the ride was pretty tough.  I was able to maintain a good cadence that kept me between 19-23 mph and I ended up leading for most of the ride.  Because it would hurt to slow on the hills, I powered up each one with everything I had, only to find that I had left everyone behind and then had to wait for them.  A couple of riders were having a tough time keeping up, causing us to slow and wait.  Eventually, we could see the 2nd 'B' group coming up behind us.  I hope I did not sound like too much of a jerk when the two started to fall behind again and I was told we should wait for them...I replied, that they should just fall back to the 2nd group so we can ride on.  Eventually we powered our way back to the church and finished the ride at an average of ~17.9.  Definitely could have pushed harder, but then I also had plenty of rest time, so who knows.  Maybe next time I try 'A' group, but I have a feeling that (as usual), I have no group, and will hopelessly by lost in some void between 'B' and 'A'.  Maybe I can make a B+/A- group for others like me.  Well, next time I will likely try the 'A' group, but they did average over 20mph.  Oh well, you don't know until you try.  At least I would be able to start the 'A' group ride with my steel framed brotha Jeremy. (until they drop me like a bad habit).
Lookin' forward to it. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

HTFU! Last SM100 Training Ride

So lately I have been calling my weekly endurance ride the HTFU Ride.  If you don't know what it means, well, it means Harden The "Freak" Up!  Sure, not everyone uses the word "Freak", but hey, my mom might read this.
26", 29" and 36" oh-my!
Today was the last of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (SM100) prep rides.  We had the biggest turnout (12 riders) and I rode the most mile (71) ever for a training ride.  Sure it was hot (mid 90's) but hey, if you can't handle it, then you, sir or ma'am, need to HTFU!

The route consisted of 11 miles of some of the Piedmont's best single-track, followed by 20 miles of quadruple track (Umstead fire roads (~1000ft+ climbing every ten miles)).  This was done twice, with some hilly green-way miles thrown in the mix (in full sun) to get over 70 miles).

Highlight from today's ride:

  • Mass confusion during the first Umstead lap.  I guess I should have told everyone we were crossing the river for an out-and-back on Cedar Ridge.  As the kids say, "My Bad"
  •  A lot of Umstead eye-candy.
  • A Black Sheep 36er that rolled through the first half of the ride.  Pretty impressive considering it was his first "real" ride on that beast.
  • Me realizing that I had a plenty of small slimy chunks of mold floating around in my half-empty water bottle.
  • 12 people started the ride.  Four names beginning with the letter "M" and four with the letter "J" (honorable mention to the letter "B" with two names)
An example of the joggers throughout Umstead.

  • Eight, yes eight single-speeders. 
  • Did I mention all the Umstead eye-candy.
  • Three riders (all on single speeds) finished the odometer showed 71 miles. 

  • In spite of the heat 90+, there was very little complaining.
    Good Times.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Preparing for the 2011 Shenandoah Mountain 100

    So last week a group of us set out on a 55 mile fire road ride.  It was hot, most bailed by 30ish miles and as usual, I finished the ride on my own.
    This week the ride was going for a metric century (sounds better than 62 miles).  A group of around nine riders set out to ride 22 miles of single track and 40 miles of double track to mimic similar terrain conditions for Shenandoah 100 (SM100). 
    So who shows up for this ride?  Besides dome of the usual suspects, two newcomers (for my rides) JD, who snaked a $300 titanium frame away from me, and he shows up riding it (some nerve); and get this, he rode from Wake Forest (cukoo, cukoo).  And an old pal Bret shows up.  Here is a guy I was crushing in the beginner XC series two years ago.  Now he has buffed out (P90X) and kicking my but in XC this year.  Still, this is an endurance ride, so he is in my territory now!
    As usual the guys who were planning to  bail after ~30 miles set a pace faster than I wanted, but whatchagonado?  So we all kept pace for the first 11 miles of single track with the only notable events were watching one of the trail builders (let's call him Ennis), falling sideways into the water during a stream crossing (doh, rookie move).  We also ran into Mack and Brent on the tandem as they prepare for Shenandoah it is always a hoot seing those guys.  As usual, Dale was with them, riding his SS with pink streamers off the bars.  Not sure if that take a real man, or the opposite, but hey, it was entertaining.
    Back to the ride:
    When we hit the double track, I suddenly had a tough time keeping up with my geared brethren.  It became clear that my planned 32:19 gear choice for Shenandoah was going to leave me spinning on many sections of the trail.  It was pointed out that I am going to wish for a taller gear on the flat sections as guys will form pace lines and I won't be able to keep up.  I reminded them that flat sections (and downhills) are where I spin away and rest my legs for the climbs.  Going taller means suffering (more) on the climbs and eventually cramping.  My goal here is survival, so I will stick with 32:19 for this one.
    Wow, we lucked out with the weather.  Instead of getting hotter closer to noon, it actually cooled and started to rain.  When we ducked into the single-track for our 2nd loop, things were slick, but not messy and we were able to make decent time.  At one point I slid off a skinny and luckily caught my chain-stay right where my derailleur would have been.  I grinded across the board without falling into the ditch and made a nice recovery as I kept on riding.
    The last 20 miles of the ride were a grind (now with Kelly, Bret, JD and me).  Kelly kept reminding me that nothing we had ridden was as difficult as Shenandoah, and after the 60 mile mark, that is when the real climbing begins.  My legs did not feel great so I told him to STFU!  My confidence going into this event is not at an all-time high, and he was not helping.  To make matter worse, Bret, who once could not hang with me in XC, shows up to this ride just to see what he could do, and he is kicking my butt!  He and Kelly are constantly pulling ahead of me and then are slowing to wait up or I have to work extra hard to keep up.  Good for Bret, not so good for me.  How dare he show up to my ride, never having ridden that distance before, and the only thing that hurts is his butt from being in the saddle for that time-length.  Really, who does he think he is!  Clearly he did not once think of my fragile self-esteem and how I was affected by getting embarrassed by a newb.
    Still, when the ride ended, I felt so much better than the previous week.  Even though the ride was longer and tougher, the weather/temp. made it that much easier.  My legs felt better and no headache.  Next week the goal is 70+.  Ouch! My legs hurt just typing that.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Mountain Biking in the Heat....Meh.

    So it is hot out there; 90+ degrees with a 100% chance of sweat!  What are you going to do about it?  Sit in your air-conditioned home and complain about it (maybe watch Jerry Springer or Court tv) or are you going to go out and ride?  You already know my vote.  After all, I have always felt it is fine to ride in the heat as long as I don't over do it.  I found a decent article about just this topic.  Still, last weekend, after a 55 mile ride (that started at 7am, in order to miss the most intense heat) I had a headache for the remainder of the day. Could the heat have caused the headache?  Maybe grinding my teeth during the ride?  Maybe from the beer I chugged immediately after the ride?  Or maybe (my vote) it was not the heat (or teeth, or beer) but the lack of sunglasses.  I recall reading somewhere that being in the sun, squinting all day, can lead to headaches.  Another big ride the weekend (60+ miles), so maybe I try wearing some shades (and maybe some preemptive Advil) to see if I can fend off headaches.  If it doesn't work, I will try switching brands of beer (and drinking more of it).   

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    29er Online Specialized Bike Reviews

    Thanks to Alex who runs the 29eronline website, I have had the opportunity to ride a few bikes in return for providing an honest review from a regular Joe.   The first bike I rode was the Specialized Camber Elite, the 2nd was the Specialized Epic Carbon.  I had fun on the dispelled any worries I had about my new 29er build (coming August/September to a trail near you).  The next bike I reviewed was a Specialized Epic Carbon.  Ooh, daddy like!  I could go on, but why don't you just watch the darn videos?!?

    Specialized Camber Elite


    Specialized Epic Carbon


    I hate the way I sound on video (o.k., audio), but hey, it is for a good cause.  Thanks to my thought provoking, insightful review thousand of people...o.k., dozens of people...o.k., 'you' are now more informed.