Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #3

Even though I rode in Syracuse today, I decided to give this week's Fat Tire Weeknight race a try.

The juniors all went before the adult racers this time, and we waited for them to complete. So I didn't have them chasing me and passing. Plus I didn't have to fix anyone's chain this time!

There were a few female beginner riders that I kept up with. I was near one of them for most of my first lap. I was able to power over a log I usually dismount for, right in front of her. So that was cool. I like to show those two-wheelers what's possible.

Unfortunately my lower back was fatigued and my first lap was my last. It felt like a bad idea to keep going. Oh well.

It had rained earlier today and some of the trail had bit puddles and muddy turns. Unfortunately this was in the area that I had found my high gear to be most effective. But having to be cautious on the turns slowed me down and caused me to UPD several times. It can be hard to keep the high gear going in those conditions, and probably added to my fatigue.

The next race in this series will be in two weeks due to the 4th of July.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #3 - 2011-06-28

Muni at Skytop

Yesterday I got an email from Steveyo, one of my Albany muni friends. He was going to be in Syracuse today and wanted to know if I was up for a ride. Hell yeah!

I took a vacation day and drove almost 2 hours to the Skytop trails in Syracuse.
The trails are in the wooded areas around an old rock quarry. "Private Property" signs are posted all around, but it is well known place to ride. I've heard of people getting in trouble for trespassing, but it's rare. The only other alternatives were trails that sounded too easy, or were too far out of our way. I stopped at The Bikery bike shop along the way for advice about Skytop. One of the guys there convinced me that we'd be ok there, despite the legalities. Thanks!

The trails we rode were almost all singletrack. It had a great combination of smooth flowy dirt and many rock gardens. It challenged us both very nicely. We found ourselves trying and retrying technical areas. Having Steveyo there helped push me a bit, especially with rocky step-like descents. But there were a good number of difficult sections we gave up on or had to skip. They'll be waiting for us next time, and we both agreed there should be a next time. Plus there are trails we didn't have time to explore.

We don't know of any muni riders in Syracuse. I wonder if we are the first ones to visit Skytop.

Muni at Skytop - 2011-06-25

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dryer: Prune in June

I went back to Dryer this morning for some light trail work. There were about a dozen of us and we cut back the vegetation along the sides of Epping Forest and, I believe, Gully Down. The two head guys, Rick and Victor, fixed some of the Epping Forest trail where mud has been an issue. One fix was a reroute.

After the work, I rode a bit. I tried to ride up Kasha again, but got hung up on a root and walked the top section. I headed directly to Chutes and Ladders to see if I could do any better without riding Epping Forest first. I did have more energy and climbed more, but still I couldn't ride some. I'll keep working on it. I was able to get over a good log pile though. I also got higher up Elevator, but at one point the grade increases and it feels impossible. Maybe someday I'll be more capable.

I rode back down, rested for a minute, and headed back up Kasha. This time I made the climb! Then I rode Tree Beard and Ziggy and headed back down.
I rode just over 4 miles according to my cycle computer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Year Unicycling Anniversary

Recreating my longest ride on day 1 has become a tradition:

2011 Fat Tire Festival Test Run

The Fat Tire Festival at Dryer Rd Park is on July 16th. Last year I got permission but then decided to skip it. It's a tough course for me and I was afraid of getting in the way of mountain bikers.

This year I have a little more confidence because of my recent races, but I'm still a bit nervous. I rode this morning at Dryer, following the posted course map. It's supposed to be 5 miles, but both my GPS and cycle computer told me it's under 4. Closer to 3.5 miles actually. Hmm.

I think I followed it right, with the exception of some of the parking lot area. But if anything I'd think I rode a little extra:

Under 4 miles doesn't seem like a big challenge, but Dryer has a lot of hill climbs. In the race, Beginners do 1 lap, Sports 2, and Experts 3. I think a single lap will do.
Looking at last year's results, I would finish about 5 minutes after the last beginner male mountain biker (excluding the very last, who was significantly later).

This was my first ride at Dryer this year and I was very pleased with myself. For the first time, I climbed Kasha! Last year I had to walk the upper half. I was panting heavily at the top, but kept moving down the slope across the field. Then it's up a small hill around the perimeter. Last year, I remember walking this, having not recovered from Kasha yet. But this time it was totally doable! The next section has enough descent to keep me going for a bit, though I did UPD once for no good reason. I continued through a couple of good climbs on Epping Forest that have always been challenging. Woo hoo! From the start to that point, I had a great run! But much of Epping Forest was muddy and had to be walked. I actually slipped and fell on my butt while walking. I did better than ever on the final hill climb of Epping Forest. But then Chutes and Ladders kicked my butt as always. The climbs (ladders) are too much for me by then. My lower back was fatiguing. SSW was muddy but ridable. By the time I get to Elevator, the main hill is just too steep to ride. But then it's into the field trail and I engaged my Schlumpf. I remember last year I couldn't shift well enough to use it. The rest is downhill through Gully Down and Kaliedoscope. So overall it was a stronger ride that last year's test run.

It helped that there was low humidity and it was cooler out.

Muni at Dryer - 2011-06-25

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #2

Tonight I rode again at the Fat Tire Weeknight Series mountain bike race. This time the family didn't join me, and registration was a snap. No paperwork and I already had my number.

Without my family I kind of stood around by myself waiting for the racing to start. A few curious riders chatted briefly, and Tom and Matt from Tryon stopped to chat.

Once again I started at the back of the beginner pack, and the juniors started something like a minute behind. And once again at least some of them caught up with me. And once again one of them had a chain fall off! It's kind of sad to see some little kid standing on the side not knowing what to do while his buddies all ride away. Of course I stopped and fixed it for him, this time having to grab the chain and yank out from between his frame and little ring. Greasy hand. Yay! So that's twice now that the only guy without a chain had to fix one! Hahaha!

The course was modified slightly to avoid a somewhat dilapidated bridge. I don't think anyone thought the bridge was really unsafe, but I guess the insurance company thought different. I think the detour added a touch more distance onto the race, but not much.

I raised my seat about a 1/2" in the hopes it might help my lower back fatigue. I also tried to be more conscious of my posture. I think I might lean my upper body too far forward sometimes, especially on hill climbs. I still ended up with some fatiguing, but not as much. So I might be onto something.

As I have gotten to know the course, I've found some great areas to shift my Schlumpf hub into high gear. I really felt like I was cruising in places.

I think I did better on hill climbs than last week, but unfortunately there were a bunch of climbs that got interrupted by a rider approaching faster from behind. I have no choice but to dismount and let them pass. They often apologize, but I'm a guest in their race so I've got to stay out of the way. And then sometimes there is a train of other riders I have to wait for to pass. Though I guess it's a good way to catch my breath. I didn't stop to rest like I did last race.

Between the Schlumpf and resting less, I shaved about 7 minutes off my time. Last week my time was 1:24. This time 1:17. I had thought I might have done even better than that, but it's a step in the right direction.

Once again I got a ton of positive comments from riders as they passed and from spectators as I passed. I kept hearing "Go uni-man!!" There was also a swimming event going on and the racers ride down a hill adjacent to the pool. The first time I rode past I got a huge cheer. All the positive comments help to keep me moving.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #2 - 2011-06-21

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fat Tire Challenge 2011

In Butler, Pennsylvania there are a group of unicyclists called the Butler Wobbles. Dave, the leader of the group raced last year in the Fat Tire Challenge. It's a mountain bike race in the town of Sigel. He rode the whole 14+ mile course and impressed a lot of people. This year, Dave worked with the race organizers to include a unicycle class in the race.
I heard about it online and decided to go. So I took Friday off, and the family and I drove the four hours and camped at the nearby Clear Creek State Park.

On Saturday morning we scurried to get up and ready for the race. There was a kids race that was supposed to start at 9:45, and although we got there in time, that race was already underway. Apparently the kids had lined up and were ready to go early, so they just let them go. We rushed to get Sydney out there and she was able to get a lap in. Kyle didn't bother, but both kids got goodie bags and were ok with that.

The big race didn't start until 11:00, so I had some time to ride around and check out the venue. There were a lot of wheels around, but it was fairly easily to spot the ones I was interested in.
In total, there were six of us muni riders at the event. Dave, Andy, Isaac, and Connor came from about an hour or two away, and Claude was from Maryland.

There were race announcements explaining the how the racers would line up. Unicyclists would start last, of course. We would do about 7.7 miles, while the mountain bikers would either do 14 or 21 depending on their class. There would be arrows all over the course to guide us. That's all I needed to know. Or was it?
The race started on a dirt road with an uphill and downhill. I was able to use my Schlumpf on the downhill and keep up with Dave and Claude. Dave rode a 26" wheel, Claude a 29", and I rode my 24". The other three riders were not far behind. After a few minutes we turned into a trail and it wasn't long before we started spacing out. Dave was pulling away from Claude, and Claude from me. I never really looked back to see the other three riders, and I didn't see them for the rest of the race. The terrain varied a lot, from double track, to dirt road, to single track. Some areas were very technical and I doubt even the mountain bikers road it. There were a lot of big rocks jutting out of the trail. Many of them could be navigated around or over, but in some places it was more like a trials course. It also must have rained recently, because a lot of rocks and roots were wet, and there was mud every once in while. My wheel slipped out from under me causing a few UPDs.

There was a point, still fairly early on where Claude had pulled away significantly, but we popped out onto a dirt road. I was able to gain on him a bit using my Schlumpf. But it wasn't long before he pulled away again, and I didn't see him until the end.

The only people I passed were some bikers. Two had technical difficulties and ended up passing me later. Two others looked like a father and son just enjoying the experience together. Towards the end I passed a woman on an uphill dirt road climb, but she cruised away down the other side.

It felt like one of my typical rides when I push myself. Though if I was riding in my own trails, I would have found an alternative route around some of the unrideable areas. Nothing too eventful happened, and I just kept pushing forward. There was a sign at 5 miles, which seemed to come pretty quick.

Very close to the end I was riding down a dirt road. Dave was heading toward me and said the end was just up the hill. Just before that there was a hydration station with people cheering and handing water to riders, if they wanted some. Amy, Syd, Kyle, and Kessa were there. I knew the race would end for the unicyclists very shortly after this, and the mountain bikers would be continuing on through the second half of the course.

Who could ask for a more supportive family?
As I rode down what was supposed to be the final hill I somehow forgot that I all I had to do was stay on the road. Ahead I could see a few bikers that passed me had followed the orange arrow off the road and onto a trail. I had been following arrows the whole race and for some reason as I approached, it didn't even occur to me that I was supposed to stay on the road to the finish. No one was there to guide me and there were no signs, other than the arrow. So I turned off the road and headed down the trail for a while. I kept wondering if I had made a mistake and finally after cruising down a long double-track trail for what must have been 10 minutes, I decided this could not be right. I kept hearing Dave say, "The finish is just up the hill".

So finally I turned around and headed back. I got back to the road, headed down and found the finish line was right around the corner. Ugh! I had wasted what seemed like 15 or 20 minutes. In hindsight it seems obvious that I should have stayed on the road.

I came through the finish and found I had come in 4th. Dave was first, then Claude, and while I was lost, Andy had finished. I was pissed at myself for making that mistake. I explained what had happened to the other riders and Andy was quick to say I should have third place. I would have come through the finish line about 8 minutes before him. Amy took pictures of the uni riders as they passed the hydration station. Looking back at the time stamps on the pictures, I was a little less than two minutes behind Claude. Given that I had gained ground on him on the roads with my Schlumpf, I bet I would have come in less than two minutes after him, had I ridden the right way. I didn't want to take anything away from Andy, but I also felt cheated because there wasn't a sign to tell me what I was supposed to go straight. There were some fun signs along the trail saying things like "Your wife called. She says it's either her or the bike." Then 1000 feet later, "Looks like you chose the bike." Ha ha ha! If only there was a sign for the unicyclists to go straight! Thankfully Andy really didn't seem to care and we all talked to the organizer to correct the placing.

I guess my brain wasn't with me, because I also forgot to turn my GPS on before the race. And I didn't reset my cycle computer either. Ugh. I feel like the GPS trail would have been proof of how I had messed up. But I guess I'm the only one worried about it, and everyone seemed cool.

There was food available after the race, but I wasn't hungry. I had downed three energy gel packs along the way.

Awards were announced for all the many classes: experts, sports, men, women, age groups, single speed, Clydesdale, and unicycles. The awards were machined plexi-glass. Most looked like cogs, but the unicyclists' awards were unicycles. I felt bad again that Andy, having given me third, wasn't getting one. Though I would have done the same. He had to hit the road before the awards ceremony began, so I was kind of glad he wasn't still there for me to feel bad about.
In the upper left picture, from left to right: Claude, Isaac, Andy, Connor, Dave, me.

Dave gave each of us a laser etched Butler Wobble drinking glass, a key-chain, and some stickers. So I got some really great mementos from the race.
Aside from actually riding, the best part was talking to the other unicyclists. One thing I learned was that none of them had any lower back muscle fatigue while they ride. Last year at Schenectady, no one had that problem either. And yet it's got to be my number one problem while riding. I now feel like I HAVE to figure out why my back gets so fatigued and then fix it. If I can do that, I'll be a much stronger rider.

After chatting with Dave and Andy for a long time about the race, trails, and unicycle clubs, the family and I headed back to the campground to stay another night.
I was kicking myself for the next day about riding off the course. I've learned my lesson to totally understand the course ahead of time. Looking back, had I studied the map better and listened better, it could have been avoided. After all, the other uni riders did it fine. Dummy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #1

Tonight I raced at the first Fat Tire Weeknight Series mountain bike race at the YMCA Camp Arrowhead. I posted about investigating these trails a few weeks ago.

A week or so ago I stopped into Park Ave Bike shop and talked to the owner, Andy August, about me participating on my muni. I actually worked for Andy at Park Ave Bike Shop back when I was in college, over 15 years ago. He granted me permission.

I've been nervous on and off for the past few days. I've never ridden with a single mountain biker before, much less over 50 of them... racing! I was mostly worried about getting in their way, and envisioned some of them getting pissed at me.

The whole family came with me, which was nice. Before the big race started there was a kids race. Sydney participated in that one, as the ages went up to 7. I was too nervous and busy figuring out where to zip-tie my race number to really watch her. But I hear she did well and she says she liked it. I ended up zip-tying my number between my spokes. #148

Kyle also raced, but in the actually race, as a Junior level. His age group did a single lap. He doesn't really ride his 24" wheel mountain bike on trails much, and before leaving he said he didn't want to race at all. But once we got there he changed his mind. I was a bit nervous for him, because I know there are some challenging climbs and downhills. An inexperienced rider could definitely get out of control and get hurt, or at least very frustrated and discouraged. Plus, despite bringing shorts in the car to change into, he decide to stay in jeans. If he wasn't going to ride, that would be ok, because it was unseasonably cold today, in the lower 60's. But, Kyle is Kyle, and he wore his jeans. He turned out to be ok, but I'm sure some people saw it as a bit weird.

Each lap was supposed to be something like 2 miles.

Experts went first, starting their journey of 7 laps. After about a minute, Sport started their 5 laps. Then beginner with 3 laps. That's where I was. I positioned myself at the back of the group. I got a sudden burst of anxiety as we were about to start, but nothing too bad. The start was actually not at the finish line, but went around the perimeter of a baseball field and passed the finish line. I'm not sure why the finish line just wasn't where we started, but ok.

If you click on the picture below you can see me at the start, though it's a bit of a Where's Waldo. My head is at the corner of the white tent in about the middle of the picture. There's a wheel that almost looks like it must be mine, but it's really the back wheel of a biker. This is just the beginner class and the juniors waiting behind.

As we got going, it became clear that I was slower than all the beginners, but that was expected. I shifted into my Schlumpf for some of the field, but had a UPD towards the end of it. I'm not a big fan of riding on grassy areas because potholes are not easy to detect. That's what got me. It got me again on the second lap. Grr.
Right after the field, I entered single-track, and started feeling winded pretty quick. That happens to be at the beginning of most of my rides. I guess I gotta get warmed up. But it's scary at that point to think how much farther I have to go and I'm already feeling crappy.

I believe there were two Junior classes that started after me. It wasn't long before I was being passed by some of them. I guess that was a bit discouraging, but I hoped I overtake them later. I saw Kyle every once in a while. He passed me too. I was glad to see he was doing well. At one point I helped a kid get his chain back on. At the end of the race he told his parents the unicycle guy helped him. hehe.

The race route was certainly different than what I has test ridden a few weeks ago. In fact, they had made new trails there altogether. There was a pretty significant switchback climb, which unfortunately was too much for me to ride in one go. I did ride a bunch of it, but probably walked at least half. I always feel like I'm doing the walk of shame, but hey... maybe someday I'll be more capable. New trails are always a bit softer and harder to ride, but these weren't all that bad. Perhaps the dozens of bikers ahead of me had paved the way.

Somewhere in that first lap the experts were starting to pass. Pretty much the standard routine was for them to yell "On your left" and for me to hug the right and keep riding, or when the trail was particularly skinny, for me to hop off and stand to the side, often in the weeds. I could usually hear them as they got close, and often didn't need any verbal cues. I got a lot of "Thanks" and a whole lot of encouragement and compliments for riding muni. "That's hardcore!" "You rock!" "You're awesome" "Go uni man!" Much appreciated.

There were some Tryon team riders there too. In the parking lot one of them (sorry!! I forget his name... again) asked if I wanted a Tryon jersey to wear. I asked if he had a small, but he didn't. At one point, he and another Tryon rider passed me and one said something like "Passing teammates!" I'm tempted to interpret that as an acceptance onto the Tryon team. I'm not sure if there's any requirements to do that, or what that would really mean, other than wearing their jersey, but it felt like respect and felt good. I really did get a lot of great compliments throughout the whole event. I really appreciated it all, and don't really feel all that worthy. The other racers were pushing themselves and working very hard too. I'm just using different skills.

Somewhere probably half a mile before my last lap I saw caught up to Kyle and expressed my concern about doing another lap, much less two. I was feeling it in my lower back. But as the course eased up a little bit, I guess I got a second wind. I passed by the finish point and moved on to my second lap.

But soon my back was getting bad again, and after walking up a short steep hill I needed to rest. I decided to down one of my PowerBar energy gels. Tangerine with twice the caffeine! I was hoping it would give me some more energy, but definitely wasn't thinking about it helping my back. But within minutes I realized my lower back suddenly felt just fine. Huh... maybe there's something there. Of course, it didn't last for the rest of the race, but it was great while it lasted. On the topic of nutrition, I used my CytoMax mix in my CamelBak. And about 48oz was enough for the entire race, and post race. But then, it was cool out so I wasn't sweating too crazy.

At one point in my second lap a mountain biker was about to pass in a tight section. I pull over and held onto a small tree. I was on an incline, and after he passed, I unintentionally did a funny pivot thing, turned around and basically fell before I ever got going again. I raked my shin down my pedal, but didn't really think anything of it. It wasn't until the end of the race that I saw I had a small amount of bleeding. And it wasn't until I got home that I noticed some swelling. It's nothing too bad, but it's funny how those kinds of injuries are unnoticed when you're really pushing yourself.

Throughout the race, at certain bridges and open areas, Amy and the kids, and miscellaneous spectators cheered for me. At the end of lap two, I stopped at the finish line. Everyone cheered as if I had finished my three laps. I corrected them and just said I was taking a break.

But even the time keepers looked baffled. Hmm. I was feeling pretty spent, but I considered going for my third lap. I asked for my time to determine if people would be standing around waiting for me at the end. My time at that point was about 55 minutes. And I knew from looking at last years times that some of the expert and sport riders finished at about 1 hour 30 minutes. So I decided to try for another. Amy looked a bit concerned, because that's her job, but I really didn't want a DNF (did not finish) posted.

Lap three didn't seem too bad. I did stop for another energy gel. This time it was a strawberry flavored Clif Shot energy gel. The package shows a coffee cup on it with "1/2". I haven't looked into it, but I guess that's half a cup of coffee worth of caffeine. I any case, it didn't consciously notice any difference after that one, but who knows. Maybe those "x2 caffeine" gels are better?

On one of the final hill climbs of my last lap, I got a crazy cramp in my right calf. Well, I'm calling it a cramp, but it was caused from pushing really hard on the climb. Is that a cramp? Anyway... Holy bejesus! I literally dropped to the ground and rolled around, swearing and groaning for a moment. I stumbled to the high side of the trail and sat there for a few minutes. Probably about six riders passed in that time, and several of them asked if I was ok. "Cramped up. But I'm ok.", I said. Thanks for checking guys. After a few minutes I walked until I had some friendlier flat ground and continued on. I could feel some after effects on my calf, but it wasn't bad.

As I rounded the field in my final lap, my eye caught a small person charging at me from the side. It kind of startled me, but it turned out to be Sydney, and she ran beside me as I finished. I got some good cheer from the crowd.

After chilling for a bit, shaking some hands, and getting some compliments, I walked over to the time keepers to check my time. 55 minutes. WHAT! That was my second lap time, but they had written it in the third lap place! And I had no third lap time written anywhere. Ugh. Thankfully, Amy had been taking pictures of me as I approached, and rider #6 was caught in a picture. Knowing he finished just before me, the time keepers estimated my time. Though once the results are posted I'll have to check. I think they make have just given me his time. We'll see. I think it was about 1 hour 24 minutes.

I think all the other beginners had finished their 3 laps about the time I finished my second. Maybe that explains the funny look when I informed people I had only finished my second lap. In the reports I get from other muni riders racing with mountain bikers, it ALWAYS sound like they pass mountain bikers and finish ahead of some. I guess I'm just not there yet. Or maybe this trail was different. It's hard to say, but I'm at least a tad bit disappointed from that perspective.

On the other hand, on the first lap I couldn't imagine doing any more. And on the second lap I had thought my back was going to break. But I pushed myself and finished the 3 laps I signed up for. So I'm overall pleased with my performance.

It is great to finally know what it's like to race with mountain bikers. Thanks to Andy August of the Park Ave Bike shop for allowing me. Thanks to the countless mountain bikers and spectators who encouraged and praised me. And special thanks to my great family for their support!

I can't say for sure I'll be racing again next week. It will undoubtedly be hotter. But it would be cool to try to beat my time, and continue to represent muni.

My cycle computer says it was 7 miles.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #1 - 2011-06-11

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trail Work at BPW

I attended this morning's trail work at Bay Park West. There were seven of us. We did some benching and clearing on the green trail. The route of some of the trail was not completely defined yet. What we ended up with is great.

I missed last weeks BPW work and could now see what that group had done on the green trail. They did a lot of benching. It looked really good, but there is still plenty of work to do.

I'm looking forward to riding it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good Muni at BPW

I arrived at Bay Park West this morning just after 8:00. I wanted to beat the heat and rain, and I did.

I'm happy with my ride because I made some good accomplishments. I climbed some hills I've never finished before, got farther up several, side hopped a nice log, and got down a small ravine that I didn't last time.

There are several trail heads into BPW, but I favor the Homewood Lane entrance, on the west side of the park. The others ways start with significant hill climbs. Once I get closer to those trail heads on the east side, there is basically three downhills to choose from. The all currently are dead ends and thus require me to come back the same way. Unlike last time, I chose the one I favor and skipped the others completely. I wanted to save more energy this time for the way back. In the future the green trail will create a loop. But to my knowledge that trail is not officially complete. There is a new boardwalk leading into it from the east. That looked pretty nice!

The downside of starting from Homewood is that it leaves a long hill climb for me at the end of my ride, when I'm most tired. Today I may have discovered a technique to help me with this. All I did was went very slow. Before I knew it I was farther than I had gotten in the past. I still ended up walking up a good portion, but progress was made, and for the first time I feel like that climb is possible for me.

I rode 4 miles:

Muni at Bay Park West - 2011-06-11

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lighter Weight Tube

I wanted to try a lighter weight tube in my KH24. The whole unicycle is heavy, especially with the Schlumpf hub, but there isn't a lot of room for weight loss. One thing I have heard of is "rotational weight". It's something about how it takes more energy to move a pound of the rotating wheel and a pound of the rest of the uni. Weight on the outside of the wheel has a greater effect than on the inside.

The tube I've been riding with is the stock one, so I assume it is a heavy duty Duro brand tube that normally comes with it. By "heavy duty" I mean it is made of thicker rubber to help it endure the stressed of the most extreme muni riding. While riding a unicycle off-road may be considered extreme by itself, there are plenty of riders out there doing way more extreme riding than me. So I'm hoping a lighter tube will survive just fine and give me a lighter wheel.

I've read about some riders do this have having no problems, while others get flats soon after. So I'm still a bit concerned.

I had to call 5 bike shops before finding a 24x3 tube. Giant brand. I had heard Specialized brand tubes were good, but none of the Specialized dealers in town stocked a 24x3 tube. It's kind of odd. I found it at Towner's.
I weighed both the new and old tube using a cheap postal scale.
I don't now how accurate it is but here's what I got:

Duro: just over 15 oz. (425g)
Giant: 10 oz (284g)

I gave my new one a test spin around the neighborhood. I want to say I felt a difference, but it could easily be psychological.

But then again, my wheel's circumference is about 77", so that's about 4114 rotations in a 5 mile muni ride, which means I'm moving over 20,500 extra ounces around... that's 1285 pounds! Sounds good to me... whether it's logically sound or not!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Ride at Tryon

I rode this morning at Tryon. With the heat, it makes sense to ride early in the day, but it was still hot.
Just like with my last ride at Bay Park West, this was my first time to Tryon this year and a lot of trail work has been done. The new trails and improvements were good, but Tryon is still a very tough place to ride. I still don't know my way around completely, and I think I sometimes ride trails in the more difficult direction. I need to come back and work on picking a smarter route.

In my exploration of energy supplements, today I tried using grape flavored CytoMax powder in my CamelBak water.

I liked the taste a lot. It wasn't too sweet. But did it help me? Of course, once again, it's hard to say. But with a 5 pound canister, I plan on using it again!

There was a big snapping turtle crossing a trail I was on, so I dismounted. He began turning to face me as I walked past him. I think he would have snapped at me if I were a bit slower!

I rode about 5.5 miles. Actually, probably 20% of that was walking. It's a tough place.
Here's my GPS map:

Muni at Tryon - 2011-06-08

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Do Energy Supplements Work?

Yesterday I posted about my ride at Bay Park West and my use of No-Xplode, PowerBar gel, and other energy products. I questioned whether any of it made a difference.

Today my quadriceps are pretty sore. That's unusual and I wonder if I actually worked harder yesterday than I realized. Maybe the energy supplements actually did something?

I think I'll have to try it again soon.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Muni at Bay Park West

I swear Mother Nature is against me. She knew I wanted to ride this morning and despite the 10% chance, it rained. But only a little, and it let up, so I headed to Bay Park West. This was my first time back there since last year.

It's a tough area to ride for me with its many hills. But I noticed the trails were smoother than last time, because they've been ridden a lot more since then. And they're in great condition.

I stopped in at Tryon Bike Shop yesterday and picked up some supplements to try.
At home, before leaving for my ride, I ingested a Rocket Chocolate Honey Stinger bar and half a serving of No-Xplode.

The instructions on the No-Xplode make it seem like you're going to turn into Mr. Hyde if you take too much. It suggests taking half a serving to start and wait an hour to see the effects. I didn't bring the second half with me.

I was expecting to feel some kind of super power boost. I figured I'd be jumping of the walls... err trees. Not so much.

Probably 30 minutes into my ride I was wondering where my extra energy was. It's a tough place to ride, so I decided to down a PowerBar energy gel pack. It was the Double Latte flavor with twice the caffeine.

I continued my ride and never felt anything special.

At some point on my journey out of the trails I was feeling a bit hungry. I ate a few bites of a PowerBar.

I completed my ride feeling like I usually do.

I did ride up more hills than I have there, but there were still plenty of hills I ran out of steam on. There were plenty of times that I stopped for minutes to catch my breath. I feel like I met my expectations given my current fitness and skill levels.
So I'm not convinced any of those energy food/supplements helped. I wish I could have a vision of the alternate reality for comparison.

It started raining about 20 minutes before I got out of the trails. The trails started to get a bit greasy, but nothing too bad.

I rode 5.4 miles, which is a lot for me, on those trails.
I mapped my ride, but EveryTrail.com doesn't seem to be working. I'll try again later.

EDIT: Finally, two days later, my EveryTrail upload is working.

Muni at Bay Park West - 2011-06-14

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

South Tryon Trail Work

Tonight I joined the trail work crew in south Tryon. We added material to some wet spots, armored a few places where water runoff crosses the trail, and de-bermed some.
There was a lot of poison ivy in the area and I wasn't very careful to avoid it. I was told multiple times that I was standing in it. Whoops!

On the advice of a co-trailworker I stopped at CVS and bought some Technu cleaner to remove poison ivy oils from my skin, clothes, shoes, and tools. Hopefully it works!

Checked Out Camp Arrowhead

There is a mountain bike race series put together by Park Ave Bike Shop and a local YMCA camp that starts in a few weeks. It's called the Fat Tire Weeknight Race Series. Five races will be held at the Camp Arrowhead YMCA trails on Tuesday evenings starting June 13th.

There are Beginner (3 laps), Sport (5 laps), and Expert (7 laps) classes, for mountain bikes. Of course there is no muni class.

Before I asked the organizers if I could join in with my muni, I wanted to investigate the trails. You are supposed to be a YMCA member to ride there, but I asked around and learned that the program director there, Mike, would probably be ok with it, especially if I explained.

So I went there this morning and rode a few laps around. I spent a fair amount of time just figuring out which trails were which and how to get on them, just like with any new trail system. The land is adjacent to Powder Mills Park, which is a county park and does not allow biking, and the trails run together. So it was kind of tricky to stay in the right area. The trail markers aren't always clear. I did have a map, which helped.

But even with the map, I didn't hit all the trails the right way. I think I strayed out of the property a few times. Of rourse for a race the trails will be marked way better.

The trails aren't bad, though not all that exciting: some rooty areas, some trail along cliffs, a few significant hill climbs, and a few significant downhills. I don't know what the race course will be, but 3 laps is likely going to be plenty for me. So I'll see if I can join the Beginner class. I'll have to contact Park Ave Bike.

I met a few of the YMCA employees near the parking lot. One of them was Mike, the program director who it was recommended I talk to. He was very nice and excited to see the mountain unicycle. We talked a bunch about the sport and he showed me some of the work he's been doing on the trails. It's always good to see some people actively working on trails. He's in need of some workers to do some trail benching, so I may be back for some trail work soon. As it is now, you'd have to buy a full YMCA membership even if you only wanted to use the trails once in a while. That's way too expensive. We talked about the possibility of having much cheaper trail-use passes.

I only rode 4 miles. And probably 10% of that was walking, either uphill or trying to figure out where to ride.

Muni at Camp Arrowhead - 2011-06-01