Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Like Fall

I think that fall is by far the most beautiful season.  Spring still has the hangover of winter; it is not quite green, and is a little grungy and muddy.  Winter, though beautiful has the challenge of being cold which complicates outdoor activities.
I can't put my arms down!

Summer has nice long days but it has bugs and heat.  When it comes down to it, fall is probably the best season for riding or any activity.  I love the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet or tires.  I like it when a leaf becomes lodged in bottom bracket region of my bike and rubs on the tire creating a sound that reminds me of using a playing card and clothes pin to make motorcycle sounds on my BMX bike as a kid.

Here are some pictures from Sylvan Island, my new favorite location for Forced Family Outings (FFOs).  Though it doesn't provide a ton of mountain biking trails, the random nature of them coupled with the industrial obstacles makes it fun.  It is amazing how nature can reclaim itself.  While "scars" still exist from a steel mill, Sylvan Island still provides a healthy dose of nature.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why Do I Like to Ride? A Great Question!

There I was lying in a heap, my XL bike frame tangle in my legs, my shoulder throbbing.  My shin was bleeding after being grated across the shifter and brake lever of my handlebars.  Fortunately the steep embankment from the stream bed I was riding through/across prevented me from flying too far.  As I got up and brushed myself off, I asked myself "why do I do this?"  Bicycling causes the following conditions:

1.  Sweat
2.  Sore muscles:  During and after rides.  Mainly during the ride.
3.  Fatigue:  Mainly after riding
4.  Sore body:  During and after, especially if there is a crash.
5.  $$$:  I just bent some teeth on what has turned out to be a $100 Shimano XT chain ring trying to clear an old building foundation on Sylvan Island.  I think I will just stay with the middle ring for now.
6.  Sweat

Considering these six conditions, I am not sure why I spend so much time riding or dreaming about riding.  Maybe some day I will figure it out.  In the mean time, I will take some ibuprofen to get rid of the pain from today's outing.    

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tailwind Century

Based on my amazing performance at the Heartland Century, I decided that the Tailwind Century would be a great idea. You can read about it here. Based on the website it sounded like a fun ride. The ride organizers determine which way the wind is blowing. You put your bike on a truck. You get on a bus. One hundred or so miles later you get off and ride back. In this case we started in Byron, IL. Here is the cue sheet. Please take a look at it and imagine trying to decipher this while pedaling down the highway.

My preperation strategy was the same as before.

1. Ride as much as possible: The Heartland was on 10 September. The Tailwind was 1 October. I did not ride a bike more than about 10 miles during that time period. This ride as much as possible strategy doesn't really work when trying for pain free riding!

2. Get a good set of tires: Used my Gatorskin tires by Continental.

3. Drink a bunch of water: having learned from the last century drank at least 32 ounces of water in addition to Diet Coke. I might learn someday

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of Jelly Belly Caffeine Sports Beans and Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls: This time I made it to the bike shop to purchase Jelly Belly Caffeine Sports Beans. After several hours of riding, these help with a little extra brain boost. I do not like to put Gatorade in my water bottles because green stuff eventually grows in them. I went out to the garage where I keep a big box of Salted Nut Rolls. To my dismay, it was empty. Turns out the kids like them after swim team practices. It also turns out that my body stores many of the candy bars I eat, however, that does me little good when I am a.) hungry, b.) trying to fit in spandex, and c.) spending 6+ hours on a little seat. I would also like to add that I watched a guy eat one on the bus, which goes to show that my theory about them is correct.

As you can see, my preperation was terrible, which is how I felt about 30 miles in. The ride was great. We started at Byron, Illinois which is on the Rock River and is home to this:

One of the more challenging aspects of this ride was deciding on clothing. The temperature was about 45 degrees at the start, if you figure in shady areas and wind chill, it was very cool, however, the afternoon high was 60 degrees. I wore arm and leg warmers which peel off easily (and it never really warmed up enough for those to come off) and a light hat under my helmet.

The group was hesitant to start, I guess nobody wanted to be the first to misread the cue sheet. We quickly headed down the road, 104 miles home. My main concern was getting lost, in the middle of Illinois so I found a group that was going at a comfortable pace. I stayed with them until one of them threw a chain on hill. I then began to crank hard to catch the group in front of me.

They were too fast for me and worked a paceline well. I didn't stand a chance.  I ended riding with two others that were familiar with the route.  

All was well until I left my water bottles at the SAG stop.  It just so happened that this was the section with no convenient stores for 30 miles.  I basically rode on the 8 oz mountain dew I drank at the SAG.  At the end of the day, was ready to be done.  I am not sure if we got a lot of assistance from the wind.  It certainly didn't feel like it.  

Notes for the future:
1.  Eat breakfast
2.  Drink water before the ride (don't leave bottles during the ride)
3.  Ride a little before a century.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vance Rockin it on Sylvan Island

Diga and I did man things today. We drank root beer and had burping contests. He ate some candy and then we hit the trails. He rode some technical stuff and did not get frustrated. He ate dirt a couple of times. I should buy a small decent video camera. I could get some great shots.

Sylvan Island is an amazing location. It was once home to a steel mill and had no vegatation on it and the novelty of it is that the obstacles are foundations, bricks the occasional piece of tire shredding rebar. With no recognizable terrain or order to the trails. It is an all day event.

Diga did an amazing job.