Sunday, August 8, 2010

These Boots weren't made for walking

But that's just what I had to do.

I haven't posted a story in awhile, I've been so busy it's crazy. We have a Baby Girl on the way and I've been tied up with everything that includes. But.. On to the story.

Being so busy I haven't been able to ride nearly as much as I should be and in turn I'm still much fatter then I'd like to be at this part of the season. But I've been determined here as of late to get out there and get my riding on.

Yesterday I wanted to get out on the Mtn Bike and since we had no other plans it was a go. I went for a walk with the wife before hand then started to tune up the gears. Took a little bit as they were being extra annoying. They'd shift down perfectly but would grind on the mid gears going back up. Ajust one way one gear was fine .. adjust it the other and another would be but in conjunction they were still grinding a bit. A tweak here an F bomb there and WA LA! smooth shifting.

So I packed up my gear, loaded up the bike and headed for Loch Raven. The ride should be sooooo much better then the last. A couple of weeks I went for a ride at LR and it was 105 with about 80% humidity. I close to dead in there .. it was so hurtful. But this time it was low 90's and lower humidity and it started off pretty well. I'm not going to say I was riding strong but felt much better then last time. Right as I crossed the stream and was head left into the tech single track I rode past three guys. I nodded to them as I rode up and said whats up guys and was about to pass them by when I saw one of them give me a crazy look. I did a double take and I was surprised that I knew him haha. Patrick use to work at the bike shop I went to and I haven't seen him in probably 4 years now that I think about it. We BS'd for a little bit and someone else rolled down the trail and they stopped and also knew him haha. So I said good to see him and rolled on, as I was riding away I then thought damn I should have gotten his new number. But maybe I'll see him out there again.

So I'm off and riding. I ride my normal route. Doube in to the stream, over the stream then head left into the single track. Follow it down along the water and cut back up the double track and make a right on to the single headed up to mid. Snake down to Sams and on to the climb up to Provident. It's a long way it seems, well the fatter I am the longer it seems haha. You do get a couple of good sections and two small streams that test you a little bit but then it's the grind up to Provident road.

I made it up to Prov and took a little breather before heading into the speed loop. It's just a small loop with some log piles and is a pretty fun run. I'm about a quarter of a way into the loop and BLAMO! I'm just riding a normal section at a normal speed and then my legs are spinning at light speed. Damn, the chain popped. I get off and walk over to a log to have a look and yup, the SRAM quick link shattered. It couldnt have done it when I was climbing now could it! Haha It let me make it all the way to the top of Prov and to pretty much the farthest point from my car. But no biggy right? I'll just fix the chain with one of the master links in my camelbak. Well I would have if they were in there. A few weeks ago I cleaned the camelbak and it looks like those links didn't make their way back into their pouch because they most certainly were not in my bag.

So trudge my way out of the loop and think to myself .. road or trail? Which will be the easiest path back to the car. The road seems the first choice but I was thinking there is a good bit of downhill in the trail on the way back and that means a half broken ride through the trail will at least give me some fun. So off I went. And let me say, riding without a chain is an odd feeling, or maybe it is just me. I'm use to the resistance the chain gives and if I lean too far one way I'll use some pedal power to right me. I didn't have that option and soon found it unnerved me quite a bit haha. Maybe it was also that I didn't want to touch the brakes, the more brakes I used meant the more walking that would follow.

At first I was a bit annoyed at the chain and at extra links for not being where they were supposed to be (not me, the links knew what they did). But I though hell could be a lot worse, I could be busted up or a cracked frame or wheel and it would be 100% walk back to the car. So with that in mind I moved on, sometimes walking, sometimes riding or a combo of both. The only thing that sucked were my Sidi's. There were not made for an extended hike and that's what they got. I really do like my new shoes but I'll have to say my old faithful Nikes were pretty comfortable to walk in and when I did look at the bottom of the Sidi's the cleats were taking a beating.

I stuck to the double track for the way back, no sense going into the single track for a walk. The double track also runs right through the middle of the woods (which is why I usually call it mid track.. duh) and is quite lumpy. So I'd walk up and zoom down trying to tuck as much as I could to get the most out of my not walking time. Up and down, up and down .. I kind of felt like a DH rider, just without a ski lift. But while out on my hike I did find a sweet section of the double track that someone had built up into numerous jumps (well at least built up humps). I don't usually ride the double so it was a bit of a surprise and was quite unexpected. I was blasting down the section trying not to touch the brakes and I was flying! I was getting a ton a air, not so high but long and it was a blast. So I did at least get something out of my hike.

I was almost out of the trail and someone finally asked me if I needed any help. A friend and I have been talking about peoples attitude as of late. The last few years it seems that people have gotten more and more rude. People road by be without a word, I'm sure a person pushing up hill looks normal but pushing on the flat? Eventually someone finally did ask and that was cool, too bad it was so close to the end and I figured it didn't even make sense so I just walked it out.

All in all it could have been worse. Sidi's might be some awesome cycling shoes (though not as aweseome as my fifteen year Nikes - RIP) but they are most certainly the worst hiking shoes I've ever worn.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My New Season Begins?

I'm fat .. yup going to just put that right out there.. it's March whatever it is, I don't need to know, the site knows for me! Last year ended in a train wreck. Not really a train but a car. Not only was I hit buy a car on my bike but my wife was also in an accident when a goon ran a red light and smashed into her. Then work got all busy and life as well.

Not to sugar coat it, i got discouraged. Big time. My riding slowed down and on the last Mtn Bike ride of the year I broke my shoes! Old Faithfuls .. Nike Mtn Shoes (model : AWESOME in case you were wondering) that I bought when I first decided clipless was the way to go. I've had/wore/used them for somewhere around 15 years. I can still remember buying them.

Into Performance I walked, at that time that was the shop I went too, I didn't know any better. But anyway, so I'm looking around and back then my budget was non existent. I pick up a pair of Wellgo SPD pedals, can I just say screw that whole system. Maybe better pedals would have given me a better experience but no matter what i did or how i adjusted them I could never release when doom was inevitable. Down down down into that burning ring of fire I would go.

*disclaimer- In case you haven't noticed. My stories are never short and never ever get to the point quickly. My stories never go in a straight line they are more akin to a Mountain Profile from the Tour. Half the time I have to reread what I started with to even remember what story I started to tell. * end disclaimer

As I looked around I noticed all the shoes were high dollar. Well for me at the time they seemed to be. But they did have a closeout table which i walked over to and saw a Nike box that looked interesting. I looked at the side and it said they were 71/2, whoa that was small. But I pulled them out and tried them on. They fit perfectly, at first I thought it must be a different sizing system until I looked in the shoes themselves, 91/2. So either they just didn't have the right box or someone was trying to hold them all sneaky like. Written on the outside of the box, 29.99. Awesome.

The only thing i ever had to replace on them was the cushion, some of the foam was actually drying up and breaking apart but what can you expect from 15 years of use. As my brother in law pointed out as we got back to the car on their final day, " Basically you spent two dollars per year for them". Wow, I hadn't really thought about it like that. Not to sound nutty but I'll miss those shoes. Blue with Yellow Swoosh and Highlights. Not to mention I'm a Nike man, the only athletic shoes I'll wear.

So I had to get something new, Nike doesn't make them any more so that limited the choices. The two Cycling shoe brands I've ridden and like are Nike and Sidi so my choice was now laid out before me. I put off buying them for awhile as I wasn't motivated to ride and didn't want to spend the money at the time plus the mourning period had to be observed. But the time was upon me. I was getting Fat, well fatter at this point. So after watching prices on numerous sites I got a deal on a pair of Sidi Spyders.

Now I'm excited about getting new shoes. I've been wanted to get on the trainer but I don't feel comfortable putting the Wilier up on the trainer with it being full Carbon ( and me now being fat ). Don't know why, but to me the trainer seems to put a lot of stress on the rear triangle, so I usually throw my single speed up there. But, my SS has MTN pedals, Candy SLs to be exact. And just let me say that they are also made of AWESOME, I can release without issue but they don't pop free at the worst possible moment. If you are looking for pedals I highly recommend them ( any eggbeater really but I prefer a bit of a platform ). I had been saying I was going to switch the pedals for some Looks but never did. So now I'd have no excuses, well I'm sure I could make some more other lame ones up but now i was determined to get on the trainer.

I ordered them on a Thursday and they were set to be delivered the following Thursday. Sweet. Enter life. The Saturday in between shoe Thursdays I went to my friends house to cut some molding for him. Brought my Miter saw down, measured some and then went out on some errands. On the way back we picked up his daughter and went to home depot. On the way I had to make a quick side check and felt a little tweak in my back but didn't think anything about it. On the way out of Home Depot his daughter and I were goofing around and I scooped her up. POP! Yup.. that was my back.

That night I finished up the molding for him. Hung out with some friends and then went home. It was sore but not terrible. Sunday was pretty much the same. Monday and Tuesday I went to work and the horrible chairs their must have aggravated it. It was now uber tender so when I went home I put a heating pad on it and even slept with it. The next morning I tried to get out of bed but I couldn't even lift my leg! Every time I moved I'd get a feeling like someone was shiv'n me in the back. I'd lock up. Called out of work and then called the Doctor. Got an appointment at 10:30 and figured if I just took it real slow I could get up and get a shower then head to the doctor.

A slow torturous trip out of bed to the bathroom to then realize I had no clean towels. I'd have to go downstairs to retrieve one and then return. Down i went trying to bend as little as possible. Every step; Boom fire, Boom fire, BOOM fire, and so on. I tried to speed up to get it over with, turned and hit the laundry scooped up a towel and then right back to the steps. Going down the steps was hateful but trying to go back up was brutal. I was two steps short of the landing when my back could take no more and I collapsed on the steps. The pain was terrible. I laid there cussing for at least ten mins before I just got so angry I stood up through the towel into the bathroom hobbled to the bed and fell onto it. My face was wet with tears it hurt so bad. I had to call the Doctor and cancel. There was no possible way I was going to make it anywhere. She called in a prescription for Muscle Relaxers which my wife picked up for me. Thankfully they brought the pain down to a tolerable level. I laid in bed the rest of the day and called to make an appointed for the next day.

The pills had helped and I could at least move the following day but it was still ultra painful. It was like the shiv was still in my lower back and if I turned a certain way or moved my leg too far it would cut off all feeling below my waist. My legs would give out and almost fall. But I made it to the Doctors which is only one mile from my house though it sucked the entire way. Couldn't twist to look any way but straight and every push of the clutch was pain. I get there early but i still wait a fun 45 mins trying to find a comfortable position to sit in. Then watch people who got there after me going in before me. Yah!

But once I got in there she did her doctoring stuff and and told me I needed to rest as much as possible and gave me some pain meds which I normally don't take. I don't like to be out of my gord, I prefer to be in control with just a smidge of OCD thrown in for fun. So I roll home and tell Angela I have more meds that she'll have to get for me. When she got home she picked them up and I took the first bit of them. Whoa, enter the Zombie. I'm pretty sure I was drooling on myself a good portion of the night and that was with me only taking half of the pill! But I rested the whole weekend and felt better come Monday. I figured I'd be able to make it to work. That didn't work out so well. I ended up hurting the back again and was back in bed that night in pain until the zombie pill kicked in. Now it's Thursday and I've been taking it super easy. Haven't carried anything heavier then a cup of something to drink and have avoided bending as much possible. Because bending is the devil.

And just to rub it in the weather has broken and it's been in the 60's all week. 60's, new shoes just sitting there looking at me. Oh do I want to ride. Should I try the trainer this weekend or give it another week? A smart man would wait, but right now I'm more fat then smart and I hear the Sidi's calling .. actually I think they are saying " Wass a matta U? "

Monday, August 17, 2009

The New Whip

Here's the New Whip all together .. finally got the bike all built back up. Now I'm trying to get use to the new setup. So far I can only say, AWESOME! Now if my insurance would stop screwing me around, they found the guy and he does have insurance. He's also with Nationwide, and they are "looking" over the information. Of course he lied and said he was parked. Well if he was parked and it was my fault why would he not give me his info and say he didn't have insurance. It's complete BS really, gotta love the A-Holes!
Here's a link to a few more Pics

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Not really sure how to take this?

Sunday night Angela and I were sitting in the living room chilling. Me on my laptop, her watching TV. Out of no where she looks over at me and says, "You really looks small." To which I respond with a "Umm, what?" I've been working pretty hard to lose weight as I have two big rides coming up I want to be in shape for, so far I've lost 20 pounds and want to shave off another 15. So I figure that is what she meant. She says, "You can really tell you've lost weight." "Thanks" "I really mean it, you look so much smaller. Even you head looks smaller!"

Yeah, not really sure how to take that ..

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ahoy, A Three Hour Tour..

Friday night my wife and I decided that we were going to go for a walk. I recommended that we could hike around Loch Raven and then stop at Red Robin for burgers after we were done. It was looking a little shakey thoughout the day, with the return of the humidity the likelyhood of thunder showers has also returned. The day was going from blue skies to Black clouds and back all day long. But thankfully as the day was going along the clouds started to clear up. So we decided to go for it.

I parked on Providence and we started our hike on the speed loop but as we made our way around I figured we'd head toward the Dam. I haven't riden in that area in years, probably 8 to be exact. When we first started going to Loch Raven that was all we use to ride but as we moved over to Seminary as we liked that loop a lot better and it stuck. Too bad we haven't been back for so long as I had forgotten about some of the really good sections that are over there. We trudged down to the Dam area and it looks so different. In 2005 they repaired and upgraded the Dam. They also changed the parking area right by it and the surrounding land. It looks familiar but different. We left the trail and walked over to the Dam to check out the view and the water levels. The water is still riding pretty high from the Spring rains but it wasn't pouring over. After the quick servey we headed back into the trail and I asked " You want to turn right and head back to the car or go left?" "I'm pretty sure it turns up ahead and leads us back toward the car." Angela said whatever was fine with her, so, left it is. I wanted to see the old trails and figured I'd be able to get us back to the car without too much trouble.

We head left and then the trail as I remembered turned right. I forgot the awesome tech section that was down there. A few burms and a few rises that snake you through a pretty fun section. It then crosses some streams and curves up and around the mountain. Off we go and we are having a good time checking out the trail, deer and nature in general. We start to talk about what we are going to get at Red Robin after the walk. Are we going to get some of those tastey Onion Rings? I'm thinking no, I'm trying to be good and keep my diet going strong. It was a fun walk that was also a good workout. The trail is gradual but is quite a long climb that leads you up to a grassy area.

Sidetrack --> Numerous years ago at this very spot my friend Jason had a low sugar moment as he climbed up this section and once he got to the top he flopped down on his butt where he devoured all the food he brought with him and looked about terrible as I've ever seen someone on a bike. I really thought I was going to be carrying him out of the woods (NO MAN LEFT BEHIND!) He had lost all his color and was swerveing all over the trail on the way up. It was all I could do to coax him up the hill before he colapsed. He's hyper glucemic and crashed hard. Thankfully after 20 mins he was ok and could ride on! Though every first ride of the season that story comes up to haunt him.<--- End Sidetrack

Normally we turned left and up the trails that way, but for some reason I wanted to get a little exploring on and went right. I have never been right but figured it had to tie into the other trails once we got over the mountain. As we started to walk up the mountain Angela started to hear Thunder, I heard it but was trying to ignore it. That was working until the wind really picked up and the Thunder was getting louder and closer. Oh boy, I was getting a little worried now. I really didn't know exactly where we were or how long it was going to take us to get back to familar territory. The answer was a LONG time and we never actually got to where I wanted to get. By this point I was a sweaty mess and we laughed I was going to have to stop and buy a shirt. Before leaving the car I asked if we should bring the water bottle. I didn't feel like carrying the damn thing but wow I'm so glad I did. It was hot and we had been treking now for quite some time. Thankfully on this occasion smarts beat out lazy!

So up and up and up we go. I can tell Angela is getting a little nervous, I let on I really didn't know where we were and that was a mistake. The expedition (as this was becoming) leader always need to be in command of the situation (even when he's not). I wasn't too worried as LR is surrounded by roads that will get us back to the car so no matter which direction you walk you will leave the woods. We come out of the trail by a house and honey farm. What the? I have no idea where this is, so we head for the building. Come to find out it's Sherwood Farms (a Park just outside of LR). Good news, I know where we are and know how to get back to the car. Bad news, we are no where near the car. Well we aren't really too far from the car as the Crow Flies, but we aren't Crows and can't fly so it's going to be out and around.

We caught up to a guy walking somewhere and asked him which way is closest to LR. He says he doesn't know, he's only been here a week. Haha.. nevermind. "That way to Cromwell Bridge Road?", yeah right down that road. So down the road we go. Once we get to Cromwell I check the location on the Iphone and it appears it'll be closer heading right for Cowpens Road then turning right on to Providence Road where we parked. So we head right and notice that Cromwell doesn't really have much of a shoulder or grass to it. We'll be walking on the side of the road. I ride this road on my Road Bike all the time and never pay it much attention. But Angela isn't too pleased with walking down the road. I try to calm her down saying it's not too far to the school and we can cut across the field. It's not working too well and she starts to get a bit upset "we need to call someone to pick us up". "I'm not calling someone to pick us up!" by the time someone would get up there we could be at the car. At this point we were about 3 or 4 miles from the car.

Angela went from a good mood to a rant, then back to a joking mood. She aid she was just joking but it didn't seem too fun to me. She made a comment about not wanting to be Lance as we climbed up Cowpens. It annoyed me and I shot back with "It's not that hard, come on". Which she took poorly. So there we were; annoyed, tired and hungry. So what better to break the mood? If you guess animal poop you win a prize! We walked into a cloud of STANK, it was terrible. It was so bad it almost made Angela barf right there on the side of the road. On the other side of the road were what I could only guess were actuall "Cowpens". Funny, is that why this roads called Cowpens? If so, bravo .. well named. At that I couldn't help but start to laugh. Poop is always funny no matter the situation.

As the mood had lightened and we now turned on Providence Road we started to enjoy the walk a little more. We checked out the houses as we walked down the road. Providence Road is a high dollar area and there are some super nice houses up in that area. We marveled at some, laughed at others and envyed quite a few. If only we were big money. But finally we were within sight of the Focus. Yay. As we are making the final leg of the journey Angela starts laughing and tells me that she can't get the Gilligan's Island theme out of her head. Sweet, that's exactly what I thought I'd call this entry! haha 3 Hours later we return to the car.

I looked down at myself, I was a mess. I looked over and said "I'm going to have to pick up a shirt for sure. And we are SO getting Onion RINGS!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yay for me

Wednesday night BJ and I decided to get in an after work ride. We got a little worried as it started to pour at work, and I mean like monsoon rain. It was nuts! Thankfully it didn't last that long and although the beginning of the spring we had a ton of rain it's really slacked off lately so the ground just sucked it up. That little bit of rain may have even helped as sometimes it can get a little sandy out there. Lucky as we were with the ground we didn't get so lucky with the air. The humidity came back with a vengeance and it was super thick in the woods. Although I do hate me some humidity I figured this would be a good test of my form. Last ride it was low humidity and a beautiful day, today it was nice but super thick. So I had a control and now for the test.

We started as per normal at the church at seminary road. As soon as we made the first climb and entered the woods you could just FEEL the air. It was so thick it did take me a few minutes to adjust but it wasn't too bad. We were flying, we made it through the coast singletrack down crossed back up to mid without much trouble. I was feeling good. Down the switchbacks pass Sam's and then on to the first test. Hit the steep opener to the long climb, then I slowed up a bit to build up some strength before hitting my nemesis. Not only was this a confirmation ride to see if I was actually riding stronger I now had an audience. I made the hard right and took off. Scratch that. I made the turn and took my first burst, right into a downed log. It appears that a piece of log had fallen into the trail and I had to adjust right quick not to hit it. I was leaning way forward pushing hard and if I would have hit that damn thing I most likely would have gone over the bars and face first into the climb. Thinking back on it, that would have been expected from my nemesis but Nay! This time I made a quick adjustment and though it did slow me down I was still upright. I pushed harder and shot up the hill, then I stalled. Thankfully I still had enough to slowly push ahead. HAH! It threw something new at me and I still beat it! See that dirt hill! You can't hang with me!

Bj and I pushed on up the rest of the climb and stopped at the intersection. We were on a super quick pace. It was way humid but I appeared to be riding well and was getting confident. We took off and didn't stop until we got to Providence Road. This is our usual BS point so we sat there for a few minutes just chilling and talking. After the typical guy discussion was over we hit the speed loop that's really not so fast anymore, someone has built up some rather large log piles and placed them really close together along the second half of the trail. It now requires some thought to get around that little section. Which normally is cool but on the speed loop it just slows you down and this little loop is supposed to be the reward for having climbed up to Prov Road in the first place!

We came out of the speed loop and crossed Prov Road and then dropped right back in. We didn't stop again to we got back to Seminary Road. We had a very quick pace though our longest loop. I felt good and it was nice to know that my performance has actually increased. Makes not drinking soda all day almost worth it. 8)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How you like me now?!

Yeah, that's what I said to the 12' hill at Loch Raven that always laughs down on me as time and again fail to clean it. Oh, but not this time I finally conquered it. Using BJ's trick I rode up and off the trail giving myself enough space to turn and it worked like a champ! I'm not saying I didn't come to a crawl and I'm not saying it wasn't the suck, cause it was. But I beat it's dirty a$$ (get it, it's a hill made of dirty. No huh? damn). I was so excited I was struck with the idea to stop and take a picture so I could include it with this post but then I'd have to stop. My nemesis is just the start of another climb that wines it's way back up to Mid range. I was on a roll and didn't want to stop so I just kept on going until I reached the intersection with the Mid Double Track. This weekend was a good one, the temp and humidity were both down and it felt great. I got ditched on Sat but there was no way I was going to miss such a great day.

I don't know if I've improved this weekend or if it was just because of the wonderful weather (aka no humidity which seems to beat me down) or that I might actually be gaining some form. I've lost some weight so that's helping for sure but I'll wait till next weekend before I decided that I'm feeling stronger.

My MTN ride was the best of the season. I cleaned all the hills that usually give me grief and never had the taste of my spleen well up in my throat. Oh yeah it still hurt but no where near as bad as it has been. I went from Mid down down the S's to the shore past Sam's Grave crossed over the log pile bridge cleaned both steep sections and made my way back up to Mid without taking a break. First time in awhile I didn't feel spent and could just keep on keep'n on. Went up to Provident Road hit the speed loop dropped back in and then even cleaned the other rutted steep curving hill that I usually burn out on. I had enough juice in the tank to pick a good line and take my time, most of the time I'm just seeing black spots hit a root burn out and then start cussing. No cussing required this time. 8)

The root section down my the shore was the only painful section for me. My knee still isn't 100% after the accident but it's feeling a ton better. I can at least get out of the saddle to climb now. I finished with a good time and even had enough energy when I got home to get out the never dull and polish the Chameleon (that's my bike, a Santa Cruz Chameleon, get your mind out of the gutter).

Sunday it was again super nice. I headed up to Falls Road to get in my climbing loop. My knee started out a little sore but it cleared up pretty quickly. I felt good most of the ride until the last big climb at mile 40. But at least I'm feeling stronger and that is a bonus. If I can just get my insurance bike stuff all cleared up and done.