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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Fat Tire Festival Test Run #2

With some apprehension I signed up for this year's Fat Tire Festival in Sport class, which is a week away.  Sport class means three laps, like I did a few years ago.  I'm concerned for several reasons: I haven't been riding quite enough to say I'm training, the course is different than past races and I have yet to complete three laps in practice, and racing always makes me nervous.  Being the only uni racing with hundreds of mountain bikers doesn't help.

So this morning I rode the course again.  Last weekend I rode the same course with Dustin and we stopped more than I normally would.  This time I rode with more urgency and tried to keep moving.

I'm proud to say I made it 2.7 miles of the 3.5 mile course before my first dismount, near the beginning of Helix, which is the final significant climb of the course.  I rested for a minute and continued, but had to dismount again further up Helix, again because of the climbing difficulty.  I finished the lap with only those two dismounts.

My thought was to ride 3 laps, though I knew it'd be hard work.  Thunderstorms were likely today, but less likely in the morning, so I got up early to ride.  There was some light rain before and during parts of the first half of my first lap, and then it started coming down harder.  The trail was getting slick in places.  I'm not sure I could have done three laps today, so I was kind of content with getting rained out.  I only did the one lap.

Should I try to ride a three lap test run before the race next Sunday?  Maybe two?

I ride my 24" at Dryer.  Last night I swapped in my geared wheel.  I've been enjoying the lighter weight of my non-geared hub, but I figured it might be worth having for the segment of the course around the field at the top of Dryer and the sport field at the start/finish area.  But after the climb just before the top field I was content to concentrate on staying mounted, conscious, and breathing.  It wasn't until the last 20%, before reentering technical trail, that I actually used it, for like 30 seconds.  Today I didn't ride into the sports field but I'll have to in the race.  I know this area is the typical grassy, flat yet bumpy terrain that I despise.  I'll probably feel like staying in low gear, but with an audience I'll feel like I'm going too slow and so shift to high gear for the minute or so before I am back into the trails.

Should I lug around my geared hub for two or three minutes of a 50 minute lap?


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dryer with Dustin

Today I went to Dryer Road Park with Dustin.  It was my first time there this year and Dustin's first time ever.

We rode the 2014 Fat Tire Festival race course.  The race is in a few weeks, it's different than the other years I rode, so I carried a map.  Dryer is hilly and pushed Dustin's muni endurance, but he did well.  We stopped a lot more than I normally do and certainly more than in a race.  I may need to go back and do some more riding there if I want to do the race.

After the trails we played at the skills area.  With its odd angles, uncomfortably tight turns, and disjointed features, it's not that great, but we did have some fun.  I worked on a log skinny but sadly never completed it.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tryon with Dustin

I went to Tryon with Dustin today.  It was too hot and humid so we took lots of breaks.  Tryon is more fun when it's cooler out, but we still had a good time.

Although I had easy access to my camera (phone), thanks to my new holster, I didn't use it very much.  But when I did use it, it was not a big hassle, so that was cool.  Since it stayed in place and didn't bother me, I'd say the holster is a success.

I took a quick video of Dustin coming across a boardwalk.  He's a pro!



I also took a picture of this downed tree. A skilled chainsaw operator could make it into a real nice skinny, as I clearly outlined.  I think I'll ask the local trail crew to consider it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hold the Phone

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been wanting to take more photos on my rides.  But I keep my phone in a pocket of my CamelBak that I can't access without stopping and taking it off.  The inconvenience outweighs the benefits of a photo... at least that's how I feel when I'm riding.  Later when I'm back home I sometimes regret not getting the shot. I don't want to put the phone in my short's pocket because I think it might fall out or I'll fall on it, or it will just move around and be annoying while I ride. Wearing my phone on the front of me, just like I do with my gel flask, seems like a solution to me.  As far as I could find, no such accessory with this purpose is manufactured for my CamelBak.

So I bought a phone holster on Ebay that has a belt clip, belt loop, and a lanyard ring.  Cheap and free shipping!  I figured I'd find some way to use these features to secure the holster to the right strap of my CamelBak.

The case is compatible with my phone and fit quite nicely. Technically I don't use my phone (Samsung Victory) as a phone, but just for GPS tracking and photos/video. For now I have a cheaper pay-as-you-go plan on a cheap $15 phone that also lives in my CamelBak when I ride.  Anyway, the only concern I had with the holster was that its flap wraps over the top of the phone and the flap's Velcro came down a bit too far, so it didn't align perfectly.  The phone came with a piece of foam filler in it, so I cut a small strip off and put it in holster before my phone, giving it the extra height.  Now it has a lot of Velcro holding it closed and won't likely open unintentionally.

Only after receiving it did I learn the holster also has a vertical sleeve which I suspect is a side-effect of how the belt loop and clip are attached in manufacturing.  Bonus!  I removed the metal clip and then worked my CamelBak strap through the vertical sleeve for a dry fit before I found a way to attach it permanently.  The sleeve is tight enough to keep the holster in place when jumping up and down like a crazy person.  So for now I have no need to secure it.  It doesn't seem to be in the way of any movements I make while riding. The real test will be my next ride.