Monday, September 27, 2010

Schenectady Muni Race - The Race

Sunday was race day. The course was at Schenectady Central Park.

On the way there, I had one more right turn to get to the race. But then I saw a sign:

Sorry, I didn't take a picture and that image is the best I could get from Google StreetView. It says:
<--- I knew the golf course was to the left, but I thought the muni was supposed to be to the right. I wasn't fooled, turned right and found the race just fine. But someone needs to fix that sign! ;-) There were 11 riders. Some rode 29ers, some 24's. I'm not sure I saw and 26's. I saw a 20 or two, but they may have just been for playing with off the trail. A CBS reporter named Mitch Butler came to the event with an associate (sorry, didn't catch his name). Mitch is actually a unicyclist himself!

The course was on the harder side. Like with all my rides, at first my breathing was more difficult and my heart rate was off the charts. There was a hill climb to start, so that didn't help. I found myself riding with Perry and James for a while. The course was very winding so you'd even if a rider was 500 ft ahead of you, he might actually be only 20 ft next to you. Because of that, I saw a lot of Perry and James during the first lap.
About 1/3 of the way through the first lap I encountered Roland and Steveyo. They were expected to be the top riders, so I knew something wasn't right. One of the two had a camera attached to their uni to help Mitch get some extra footage. Apparently they had some technical difficulties and were fixing it. But they got moving just about the time I was there and were soon out of sight.

Mitch and company were filming in different areas of the trails, always at the more exciting features of course. It felt like every time I was about to finish something difficult, a root caught me. And they always caught it on tape! Hopefully they'll edit all that out. ;-) I'm sure I'll be posting his video once he produces it. Sounds like that might happen in about a month.

There were a good number of logs, log features, and skinnies to ride. Some of the skinnies seemed to go forever. Those we so much fun.
As expected there were some very rooty sections too. Some of it was insane and had to be walked.
There was also a up and down winding section. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time between hills to have the stamina to climb them all. I saw a lot of walking in that winding area.

Because of all the roots and hills, my lower back fatigued early. It was killing me! I find this at my local trails too. In the first lap I was feeling like maybe one lap would be it! Thankfully the trail flattened out in a few places and I was able to deal with the pain.

Part of the course comes back to the road where the finish line is, but then goes back up into the woods. At that point, the lap is only maybe 2/3 done. On the first lap I could hear and then see the people as I approached, and I was glad my first lap was coming to an end. But then the trail took me away for more pain! Arg!
It took a long time before seeing that finish line again to complete me first lap. I think my lap time was about 45 minutes.

On my second lap, my back was hurting, but I was warmed up and my breathing and heart rate were better. I was having more success on the piles and skinnies.
And I ate my first energy gel to keep me going. Still, my back was killing me at times, and I figured this might be my last lap. I was seeing less and less of Perry who was behind me and less and less of James who was in front of me. A woman named Lisa was walking and running the course. We talked a bit on and off. She's a relatively new rider and I guess she was there to check it all out on foot.

At the end of the second lap I stopped to take a breather. I ate my second energy gel and talked with Amy for a few minutes. I had time to start a new lap, and seeing that I had come all this way with the family, I wasn't going to let my back pain stop me. She said I was in fourth or fifth place, which surprised me. I wasn't too careful about keeping track of everyone I passed or passed me very carefully. And a lot of that happened at the beginning of the first lap. But it was good news to me and helped keep me going.

On my third lap I was even more successful clearing log obstacles and skinnies. But I was UPD'ing occasionally for little things. My muscles just weren't responding well. But I made it through. I even did a few do-overs. I wasn't going to let a log pile I'd cleared earlier trip me up on my last lap and I didn't think anyone was close behind me. It turned out I was the last rider to finish.

Here are the results:
1. 3 Laps, 2:01, Roland
2. 3 Laps, 2:11, Steveyo
3. 3 Laps, 2:12, Mark Premo
4. 3 Laps, 2:33, Buzz (me)
5. 2+ Laps, 2:00, Jason K
6. 2 Laps, 1:45, Perry
7. 2 Laps, 1:56, Kai P.
8. 2 Laps, 2:10, Baker
9. 1 Lap, Logan
10. 1 Lap, Steven T
11. 1 Lap, Eric K.

Roland and Steveyo are at the top, as expected. Mark rides a lot of street. He certainly has great cardio stamina. I don't think he messed around much on the skinnies, as I saw him running past me on foot.
Jason stopped at 2:00. He was right at that point on the trail I mentioned that comes close to the finish line. He thought there was no point in continuing since the time was up. And when he was told he could still finish, he chose not to. He was ahead of me for so much of the race, I think he would have finished ahead of me had he continued on.

This time I had my GoPro charged to the max. It still ran out of juice before I did, but I got a lot of good video. I'll be editing that soon I hope!

Schenectady, NY Muni Race - 2010-09-26

Schenectady Muni Race - Fun Ride

This past weekend the family and I went to Schenectady, New York (just outside Albany) for a muni only race. The are at least four hardcore muni riders in that area, Roland, Steveyo, Perry, and Brad. Roland was the main organizer of the activities.

Amy thought it would be nice to turn it into a mini vacation for the whole family. I'm glad she's so supportive of a fairly bizarre hobby.
Traveling by car with baby Kessa is painful because she'll often begin crying 20 minutes in, which leads to blood curdling screams if she isn't pulled out of her seat. It's about a 3 1/2 or 4 hours drive, so Amy had the idea of taking a train so she could hold Kessa and take care of her needs. The ladies (Amy, Sydney, and Kessa) took the train and the men (Kyle and I) drove. It worked out well. Our departure and arrival times matched closely so no one was waiting around too long. We traveled on Friday and stayed at La Quinta Inn in Latham.

Saturday we chilled out at the indoor pool and in the evening we went to a planned muni fun ride at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Kai, Steveyo, Mark, Roland, Perry, Brad, me, and Sydney.

Sydney helped tear up the parking lot. The guys were impressed with her skills at age 6.

I had the opportunity to ride a 29er and a 36er, but only in the parking lot. The 29er felt cool. Maybe I can borrow Mj's and ride some local trails sometime. The 36er was bit much. I couldn't free mount but Roland gave be a hand.

The fun ride was cool because we weren't in a big hurry. When there was a feature worth trying over and over, we did just that. The trails had a good number of logs and log piles to get over. And some nice short steep hills to challenge us. But I tried to be careful not to over do it before the race on Sunday.

Above photo by Perry

I used my GoPro camera to capture some of the ride. Unfortunately my battery wasn't fully charged and I didn't get it all. Hopefully I'll be editing that footage in the next week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Muni Ride at Bay Park West

This morning I used a few vacation hours to ride at Bay Park West.
I started at the trail head where Sydney and I did some trail work a few weekends ago.

I didn't like the trails much. Too many uphills to battle. The new trails are generally bumpier and haven't been graded properly yet. But even if they were smooth and all work was complete, the hills are still going to be there.
I probably did about 50/50 riding to hiking.
There were a few sections that were good, but they weren't worth the effort to get to them.

I only saw one person; an older woman with a dog. We talked for a bit. She had actually been to one of the county shared-use pilot program meetings. Unlike many older hikers, she supports cycling in the parks and the trail maintenance that comes along with it. She ripped on the hikers/walkers who whined about shared-use concerns at the meetings. Ha ha!
Her small dog was running around everywhere. When I rode away, it followed a bit and then seemed to go back in her direction. As I rode I kept hearing the woman yell "Sandy! Saaaaannndyyyyy!" I wondered if the dog ever got back to her. Did she think it kept following me? After about 5 minutes of that, I turned around and worked my way back to find her. She said her dog Sandy always goes off on her own and will eventually find her way back to their car. Oh. I guess I didn't need to be concerned.

I didn't ride very far. Oh well. It was good to explore and form an opinion of these trails.

Muni at Bay Park West - 2010-09-21

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekday Morning Ride

I took a few hours of vacation this morning and rode in my usual place, Whiting and Webster Park.
It was in the 50's and felt a bit cold at first. But once I got going it was much appreciated.
I made it up a particular hill in Webster Park for the first time. So my progress continues.

If I could consistently power up all the hills I've ever done I'd feel very accomplished.
Then I'd feel the need to move on to bigger hills.
On the loops I like to ride in Whiting and Webster, the only hill I've never gotten up is a very steep one on the Yellow trail. I've never actually tried, so maybe it's about time.
Maybe then I'll try to take on the Red trail. Big hills in there.

I rode just over11 miles according to my GPS, and 11 3/4 miles according to my cycle computer.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2010-09-15

Saturday, September 11, 2010

West Bay Trail Work Begins

Today I attended the first day of trail work at the West Bay trails.
Sydney came along with me and helped. There must have been about 30 workers there. We collected a bunch of garbage along the sides of the trail. The area has clearly been used as a dumping ground for the neighboring residence over the years. We all filled a dumpster with old junk: lawnmowers, bicycles, a snowmobile, typical garbage, and who knows what else. We wheelbarrowed tons of discarded wall block from where they were dumped, down a winding trail to a new location. A group of workers used them to build a boardwalk in a muddy area. Other workers use flagstone to armor a length of trail and discarded drainage pipe to redirect water under a trail.

At the end of a few hours of work, Sydney and I hiked further into the trails. While we had been doing our part to help, other workers had been clearing new trails. It was amazing how much work got done in a short time.

I didn't bring my GPS along, but I think the map below shows the general area that we worked in.

View West Bay west side in a larger map

EDIT Sept 12: a video and pics were posted by other workers:


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Whiting and Webster Park - 2010-09-05

We got a nice break in the heat yesterday but the wind has been blowing wild. Today is calmer. I got out to Whiting and Webster Park.
I successfully repeated some of my harder hill climbs and rooty sections, but some still taunt me.

Feeling more comfortable with my route in Webster Park, I tried expanding a bit. But I found there where a lot of overgrown and unappealing trails. There still might be hope to finding another good loop in there, but I didn't find it today.

On my second run through Whiting, I felt a sting on the top of my right ankle. I thought it was a thorn at first, but I dismounted and found a bee was under the tongue of my shoe. I flicked him off and pulled the stinger out by lifting my sock, which it had gone through. I haven't had a bee sting in a long long time. I'm not deathly allergic, so the area just stings and is red.
Odometer says 10 miles even.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2010-09-05