Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

The last time I rode, it was 3 weeks since the previous ride.  Now I managed to have a 4 1/2 week gap between rides.  I'm not sure why but I just didn't feel motivated to ride.  But today I felt the urge and took a few hours off work to ride at Webster Park and Whiting.

I remembered to bring my folding saw with me in case I could clear any small downed trees or limbs.  I got the opportunity several times.  Here are some before and after pics:

There were also a good number of big fallen trees the could use a chainsaw.  Most I've seen before.

It was about 60F out which was a nice riding temperature.  It's a good time of year to ride.

At the end of the Green trail at Whiting I found a bench that wasn't there last time.  Since Green is a down-and-back trail, it was nice to have a spot to rest and refuel. And it's positioned to sneak a view of the lake across Lake Rd.  Pics:

I assume it's another Friends of Webster Trails scout project.  I forgot to read the plaque before I left. 

Despite not having ridden in a while, I made the short but steep climb at the end of the Green.   Yay me.  Overall I felt pretty good riding, but I could tell I fatigued quicker than normal.  I need to get back in shape.

My GPS failed to record my ride from the bench back to the parking lot.  I rode about 5 miles.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Forced a Ride

I haven't been riding for three weeks because of weather and work.  Mostly work.  Today I forced myself to get out and ride.  That's kind of lame because I'm supposed to be enjoying this sport, not forcing myself to do it.  But I didn't have any real destination or goals, and riding the usual trails holds only so much excitement.  Not to mention the sport is a big workout and after a three week break that can hurt.

There has been some recent trail work at Bay Park West lately so I decided to go there.  I've referred to BPW as Big Punishing Workout, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense for me to go there, but I figured I'd take breaks as needed.

Photo: A new fence to keep the mountain
bikers from flying off a cliff
At the start of my ride I felt like I was having trouble balancing.  I quickly discovered I had a low tire pressure problem and not my brain.  I didn't have a pump with me so I kept riding, hoping I'd be able to get used to it or find a mountain biker with a pump.  Thankfully within my first mile I encountered a mountain biker doing some repairs on his broken chain.  He let me borrow a pump and from then on my unicycle rode nicely.  That was a lucky break because I didn't see any other mountain bikers for the rest of my ride.

I actually rode fairly strongly, making a lot of climbs and technical sections.  But it was hot and I didn't need to push it, so it wasn't my longest ride at BPW.

I saw some trail improvements, like regrading and a safety fence at a turn along the edge of a cliff.  Nothing too exciting, but positive improvements nonetheless.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Unicycle science - Why so many wheel sizes?

Roland explains unicycle wheel sizes in this video.  I thought it was well produced.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Trail Work at Four Mile Creek

Work has been busy and we've been getting so much rain.  Those are my excuses for not riding since the race two weeks ago.  Maybe tomorrow.

I also haven't done any trail work so far this year.  But this morning I went to the monthly Friends of Webster Trails work day at Four Mile Creek Preserve.  We cleared a new trail on the east side of Salt Creek.  Most of the ~10 people were cutting vegetation away and raking.  I took the job of chopping out the ankle-twisting sapling stumps.

At the end of out work we hiked to Salt Creek where a group has been working for over a week on a new bridge.  It's coming together nicely.

It was good to get out and help with the trails.  I should have taken some pictures and mapped the trail with GPS.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fat Tire Festival Follow-Up

A short write-up of the Fat Tire Festival appeared in the "Daily Messenger" and the Victor Post.  Just like two years ago, one of the photos in the article is of me.  I guess I stood out again.

Screenshot for safe-keeping:

I had been taking Hammer Endurolytes electrolyte capsules before most rides to try to avoid cramps and post-ride headaches.  I ran out of Endurolytes and two local bike shops didn't have any.  Wanting something before the race, I settled on Nuun electrolyte tabs, lemon-lime flavored.  They dissolve in water like Alka-Seltzer.  I haven't been using anything in my CamelBak except water, but since these tabs don't have any sugar I thought it would be acceptable.

During the race I found the lemon-lime tasty, but it left me wanting nice clear water.  I also started to feel the onset of cramping in my third-lap.  So at this point I'm not convinced this product is for me.

I didn't have to pee until maybe an hour or more after the race, and it was minimal.  Maybe I wasn't drinking enough, and that's why I started to cramp.  Even with my 100oz CamelBak I get nervous about running out of water while I'm still riding.  I had some water left after the race, though not much.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014 Fat Tire Festival

Today was the Fat Tire Festival.  I was nervous as it approached.  My two lap ride a few days ago left me sore in my lower back and quads.  It wasn't until this morning that the soreness was mostly gone.  I was also concerned with riding 3 laps, the trail conditions after the rain yesterday and this morning, riding a unicycle at a mountain bike event, and my usual race jitters.

It was about 70°F, but the humidity started high.  Despite racing Sport class (3 laps), I started behind the Beginners (1 lap) to avoid them all passing me.  I passed a few within the first climb, but they passed me soon after.  In my first lap I had a few more UPDs than I did in my test runs.  I blamed it on race jitters, the humidity, and wet trail.  There were a variations to what I expected the course to be, the most significant being the climb up Helix.  I think they somehow connected Helix and an adjacent trail or something, adding more length.  For a switchback climb that might be better: more horizontal distance up the same vertical distance means less grade.  But in this case the additional trail had significant ups and downs.  So I was outputting more effort than expected and found myself having to hike more than I like, though still not much.

Lap two was as I expected.  The fatigue was hitting my lower back and I questioned why I was there.  At some point I was considering my excuses for not doing a third lap.  I passed by one of the race marshals standing out on the trail, who knew I was doing 3 laps, he said something like, "Keep going, you got one more lap in you!"  That and the other encouragement helped.  At the start/finish line I sure got a lot of attention each time I came through.  Jonah, the announcer, psyched up the crowd for me and I got much applause and praise.  That also helped me push on.  I felt like the humidity drop some, so that was good.

A moment that stands out to me was on lap 2 when I was going down West World.  It's a downhill and has several log steps and tight technical turns.  After the steps, a mountain biker was approaching from behind.  He exclaimed his amazement that I was actually riding this all on one wheel, and we conversed for a few seconds as I successfully rode it.  I'm not out there looking for attention like an entertainer, but I very much appreciate someone who genuinely praises the skill I've worked at, because they are on the trail and can understand the difficulty.  I got a lot of praise from other riders as I let them pass.

Lap three was painful.  The fatigue doesn't just hurt, it makes my reactions slower and I get sloppy, making stupid mistakes.  My quads were threatening to cramp on the steeper hills.  Towards the end I had to give up a few intermediate climbs to avoid it.  I got an especially loud greeting as I crossed the finish line.  I think I was the last to cross, including the 5 lap Experts.

My laps were about as expected, 45-50 minutes each.

Amy came with me and helped volunteer at the finish area.  It's always nice to have my own podium girl waiting for me at the finish.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

2014 Fat Tire Festival Test Run #3

This Sunday is the Fat Tire Festival race and I'm preparing. Yesterday I was going to ride the course again but I was exhausted and decided it best to wait until today.  I have been staying up too late and getting up too early.   I tried to get to bed earlier, but I'm still pretty tired today, but nevertheless I rode at Dryer this afternoon.

I was able to get two laps in.  Again I had minimal dismounts, though in the race I'll likely have to dismount to let bikes pass.  I'm fairly certain I won't be able to climb a steep section of Helix in race conditions, but I'll do my best to give it a try on my first lap.  I expect I'll be too fatigued after that.  In my second lap today I was certainly more fatigued, but I was able to push through, but I'm still worried about a third lap on race day.

Once again I found few opportunities to use my high gear, favoring the low gear while my breathing and heart rate recovered.  Again I rode out into the sport field to simulate the race start/finish line and again decided the high gear wasn't worth it.  So I'm leaning toward swapping my much lighter non-geared wheel back in.