Sunday, July 31, 2011

Short BPW Ride

I didn't really feel like riding much today, but it's hard to let a weekend go by without it. I headed to Bay Park West this morning thinking it would be good to try the hill climbs that challenge me.
I did make it up two hills I never had. My failed attempts were not from lack of strength or stamina but because I had random UPDs from unseen roots and ruts.

It was a short ride at under 3 miles.

Muni at Bay Park West - 2011-07-31

Saturday, July 30, 2011

IMBA Trail Crew Training

Today I attended a trail construction training class presented by IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association.From the IMBA website:
The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew, on the road since 1997, is IMBA's grassroots educational program and an authority on sustainable trail building practices. Two teams of professional trail experts travel year-round throughout the United States and beyond, leading trail work sessions, meeting with land managers and working with IMBA-affiliated clubs and the communities they serve to improve mountain biking opportunities.
Although mountain bicycling is in the name, the trail building philosophies suggested by IMBA benefit all trail users. Building sustainable trails is the overarching theme.

In the morning there was a three hour classroom training. The instructors, Steve and Morgan, presented the philosophy of successful trails and the techniques to build them.

After lunch, we met up again at Tryon Park for the trail work portion of the class. We began the construction of a new trail that had been flagged by the GROC leaders and IMBA yesterday. The work was pretty much identical to the work we've already been doing at Tryon and Bay Park West. GROC has been leading those efforts and has been following the IMBA trail building practices.

The class was good reinforcement of the philosophy and techniques I've been learning from GROC.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beware the Stick Woman!

This morning I took some much needed vacation time to ride muni at Whiting and Webster Park. I haven't ridden since the Fat Tire Festival, as I've been recovering from a cold.

One of the trails I rode was the Midnight trail, as I have many times over the past few years.

On the double-track road section of the trail, a woman was walking her dog in the direction I was riding. As I do with pedestrains in this situation, I approached slowly and from a distance gave a "Hello" until she heard me. I don't like to startle people or dogs. She reined in her dog and I continued my approach on the half of the double-track she was not occupying.

As I approached she began says something to me about wheels. Realizing she wasn't just giving me the usual "Did you lose your other wheel?" comment but had something more urgent, I began to dismount at the point where I was just beside her. At the same time she made an attempt to poke one of her two walking sticks into my wheel, in an apparent attempt to force me to stop! I KID YOU NOT!! My dismount was quick enough for me to step away and avoid her stick of death.

She said that wheels were not allowed on the Midnight trail. I said it was my understanding, through the Friends of Webster Trails, that they were. She said FWT is wrong.
She said that the covenant that was established when the land was given to the town states that no wheels are allowed.
I explained that I was riding there with the understanding that wheels were allowed.
She continued to say I was was wrong, and I suggested she talk to the town.
She said she already has.

I then addressed her attempt to put a stick in my wheel by saying she can't put a stick in someone's wheel to stop them!
She said, "I'll do what I have to do."
I suggesting that action could land her in jail.
She said she did not think so.
I gave her a look of confusion and said her approach to the addressing the issue was awful.

Feeling like no more value could be added to our conversation, I repeated that I understood I was allowed to ride on the trail and would talk to FWT about it.
After walking ahead, out of stick-of-death range, I mounted and began riding away.
I stopped a moment later, turned back, and asked her why it bothered her so much to have wheels on the trail. She said the covenant says so, and wheels damage the trail.

I specifically recall attending a FWT board meeting two years ago, and being told bicycles (and unicycles) were allowed on the Midnight trail.

So now I'm looking into the legality of riding there. I'm also curious who this woman was and what her role has been for the Midnight trail. I'm positive she's the same woman who had a problem with me leaf blowing the Midnight trail a few years ago.

Again I attempted to ride Whiting's Red trail, the Yellow trail in the steep direction, and steeper hills in Webster Park. I didn't have any huge accomplishments, but I'm still pushing.

UPDATE: I found a document pertaining to the donation of the Midnight Trail land to the town. It says:
The Trail system shall be used for non-motorized recreational uses only, including, but not limited to, walking, hiking, cross country skiing, horseback riding and other uses that neither require nor produce significant surface alteration of the land. There shall be no hunting.

Nothing about wheels or cycling at all.
I've also emailed the leaders of the Friends of Webster Trails, and they forwarded the question on to the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Mark Yaeger. He responded:
There is no restriction of wheels on the midnight property. To access it you would need to violate Webster parks rules.

Right, so I can't legally ride in Webster Park, but can in the Midnight Trail. Technically I can carry my unicycle in, and also there is a Webster Park road that gets very close, leaving only a 30 second walk.
So Stick Woman was certainly wrong.

My cycle computer said I rode 14.6 miles. GPS says 13.7.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-07-26

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hardcore 24 and Suicide 6

As I mentioned in a previous post, there's a 24 hour mountain bike race held at Ontario County Park called the Hardcore 24.
It was a few days ago and I did not attend. Race teams send a rider out to do a lap, and when they return, another rider may go. The goal is to do as many laps as possible in 24 hours. While your teammates are out riding, you can sleep, eat, or whatever, in preparation for your turn. There are also solo riders. In the night hours, riders use headlamps to light their way.

I didn't race for several reasons. I didn't have a team, I've never even ridden at night, I don't have any lighting equipment, and it's a freakin' big race! This year is my first year of racing with mountain bikers, so it would have been a push to jump right into the HC24. Plus I've only ridden at OCP once before, and it was tough on me. I still want to return and give it another shot sometime. As it turns out, this was a hot weekend, and I was just recovering from a head cold. So I'm glad I didn't try to race. Next year may be a different story.

Bruce, representing the Park Ave Bike Shop Race Team, had invited me to race muni at the HC24, without having to pay the $100 registration. And now, he's invited me again to another big race. The Suicide 6.
The S6 is held at Harriet Hollister Spencer Park, south of Honeoye Lake in Candice, NY. It's similar to the HC24, but only 6 hours. The race site says, "Come have fun riding in a real mountain bike race on a punishing loop with white knuckle single track." Gulp. Sound tough.

This race is coming up in a few weeks, on August 14th. Currently, the only excuse I have to not race is that I've never ridden there, and it sounds like it's harder than the trails I've ridden. I also don't have a muni team, but riding solo would be ok. It's short notice, and it'd be hard to ask others to ride with me without ever having been there myself.

Maybe I'll take a vacation day soon and head there for a test ride.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #5

Unfortunately I was not able to race tonight. I've been sick for a few days and didn't feel up to it.
This was the last race of the series, but I'm looking forward to next year!

Thanks to Park Ave Bike Shop and YMCA Camp Arrowhead for putting together this great event!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2011 Fat Tire Festival

Today was the Fat Tire Festival at Dryer Rd Park in Victor, NY.
I raced beginner, doing one 4 mile lap. Of course I started at the back of the beginner pack. It started in a sports field before heading up into the trails. This helped the pack thin out while people find their pace. Unfortunately there was still quite a bit of congestion before entering the singletrack, forcing me to dismount. Once into the first trail, Kasha, I felt like I was pretty much alone. But then the real climbing started and I found I was right on the heels of the last beginners, and again was forced to dismount. It was a little frustrating that no effort was made to make room for me, despite my requests. I guess they weren't expecting to get passed at that point. From then on I only had to dismount as a courtesy for any expert riders, and possibly sport, who passed me from behind. As usual there was the occasional train of riders forcing me to wait what must have been a few minutes. But hey, I'm on their turf, and I'm happy to oblige. I also wasn't really worried about my time.

For about the first third of the race I rode behind a child mountain biker who did outstanding! I couldn't believe the hill climbs he was making. Eventually he left me behind, making distance on all the downhills.

I didn't ride as strong as I have before. It could have been the sore throat I woke up with, or the heat, or whatever. But I still did well.

I received a lot of positive remarks from many people. Many riders and spectators recognized me from the recent Fat Tire Weeknight race series I've been doing.

There were tents set up in the field for the many bike shops and sponsors of the event. There was also a little skills area set up. It had about a 40' skinny section, made of 2x6's, a teeter-totter, a single log, and a 3-log pile. I had fun trying it all out.
Then a GT bike rep offered to give me a t-shirt if I rode the skinny for him while he videoed. So I did, though it took a couple tries to get the whole thing. I also did the teeter-totter, which was a new experience for me.
Later, the announcer for the event walked over to me and did a sort of live interview with me on the PA. He asked about my geared hub, brake, and wheel size. I guess it was kind of fun, though I don't normally like that kind of thing. Then he asked if I could demonstrate riding the skinny. Now all of eyes were on me, but I did it fairly well, and then did the teeter-totter too. Riding back to him, I powered over the single log. He wondered if I could do the 3-log pile, so I made an attempt to do a few side hops over it. I came close but failed the first few times, falling to ground, but without injury. Someone yelled, "Third times a charm!", so I gave it another try with success!!

As a reward for entertaining the crowd I received an awesome pint glass.

These were given out as prizes to the riders who placed, so it's an honor to have gotten one of these! A great memento.

Fat Tire Festival - 2011-07-16

EDIT 2012-06-06:
I was given some photos from an awesome mountain biker tonight at the Park Ave Weeknight Series race.  Thanks!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #4

I raced for the fourth time at the Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race at the Camp Arrowhead YMCA. It was a hot day, but I managed to make it through my three laps.

I made it up both of the difficult climbs for the first time! The switchback climb I made on my first lap, and I came close on other laps. I made the climb just before the pool area on my last lap. I think I could make that one every time, but on my first and second lap I always have to dismount for mountain bikers wanting to pass. On my third lap, a biker was approaching at the last steep section. I powered up it, involuntarily letting out some big grunts and slurred expletives. I wonder what he thought of that. Ha ha... whatever works, right?

It's kind of interesting how each lap is different because I get passed more in different sections. Today it seemed like I had to wait a full minute in some sections. I'd dismount for a rider, and once he passed I'd see another rider approaching through the trees. I'd wait for that one, and then another, and another! It doesn't bother me much, but it does affect my time.

I also made it over every log on the course on all laps! That was a first. No hopping was involved. I just powered over them. One near a parking area is telephone pole size with curbs on either side. I had never even attempted it in the past. So that was more good progress.

At the end of the race one of the guys from GROC and Park Ave Bike, Bruce, encouraged me to ride at the upcoming Hardcore 24 race. He said they'd sponsor me and pay the registration fee. Wow! That's $85! It sounds like he liked the idea of having something fairly unique there.

That's a 24 hour race. You just do as many laps as you can, sleeping and eating between laps as needed, and heading back out when you feel like it. You can ride solo or on a team that alternates riders. I'd be solo or on a muni team, as my slower speed would hurt a mountain bike team.

I had considered doing that race if some of my muni friends in Albany could. But I don't think they can. Maybe I'll hit them up again. In any case, I'll think about it.

Here's my gps track from this evenings race:

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #4 - 2011-07-12

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Whiting Webster Challenge

I thought I'd fit one more ride in before my Tuesday weeknight race. So I rode a bit at Whiting this morning.

Again, I tried the red trail, south to north. There's one hill climb that I haven't been able to do. I didn't make it up today, but I'll keep working on it.

I also tried the yellow trail from north to south. Again there is one steep hill climb that's holding me up. I've actually never tried it, because I always ride the opposite way. I made it halfway up, which was actually further than I expected, and I could see it might be possible for me to complete it in the future. So again, I'll keep working on it.

In Webster Park, there are two hill climbs that offer two possible routes, the left route being easier on both. It took me months to be able to climb those left routes, but now I can, more times than not. So today I tried the right routes. Despite several attempts, I failed the first hill. I'll keep working on it! The second hill beat me four times, but I succeeded on my fifth attempt! Woo hoo! Still, I'd like to be able to consistently climb it. So I'll keep working on it.

My left elbow has been bothering me lately. I think I strained it while trying to cut some over-sized tree branches with a pair of loppers. Today's hill climb attempts irritated it more, because I pull up on the seat pretty hard at times. Hopefully it will get better soon.

My gps did not record for some unknown reason. My cycling computer said 6.8 miles.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

WNP Trail Work

This morning I worked at the Whiting Nature Preserve with the Friends of Webster Trails.
We had a big turnout.

Most of us broke up into groups and attacked any problems we saw, specifically on the Blue trail.

Others did some more work on a new trail off of the Red trail. I haven't even seen that progress yet. And still others did pruning on the blue and orange.

I worked mostly alone on some drainage runs off of several long sections of sloped trail. The idea is to allow water to flow off the trail instead of building up as it runs down the entire length. Erosion could be a problem, though in this case the water flow would be fairly slow. The bigger problem is the water collecting at the bottom of the hills, and sometimes having no place to go. Maybe I'll walk out there during the next heavy rainfall and see how things are working.

My family showed up at the end with watermelon slices for the group! Everyone was very appreciative!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Progress at BPW

Tomorrow is a trail work day for the Friends of Webster Trails and I feel obligated to attend. That will eat up the morning and it's best to spend some weekend time with the family and on home projects. So I broke out of work to do some riding before the weekend at Bay Park West.

I tried the new Green trail which I've hiked before and helped build. I could ride more of the hill climbs than I thought I'd be able to. Still, some are too much. I rode it both ways, and both have their pros and cons. I don't have a strong preference yet. It's a cool trail, but I'm not sure it's my favorite. The mountain bikers I've talked to really like it.

After descending down to the south most parking area, I was able to make the climb back out. That's a first, and I wasn't particularly winded at the top. I stopped there to talk to some mountain bikers, but next time it would be cool to continue on and make the climb around the corner.

I also made good progress from the old trolley bed back to my car at Homewood. That's a long drawn out climb, with a few steeper points. I did UPD at one point, which sucked because it was totally doable. At that point I had to walk two feet to get to a place to remount. Without that UPD, I would have climbed the entire trail, which at the beginning of the season seemed impossible. Next time!

I rode just over 5 miles.

Muni at Bay Park West - 2011-07-08

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sprague Brook

There is a trail system at Sprague Brook Park south of Buffalo in Glenwood, New York. It's just a few hours away from me.
I had originally heard about the trails last year from local riders and was told it might be difficult to ride muni there because it is rooty. But it's hard to rule out a trail without ever seeing it.

There is a mountain bike race in August at Sprague Brook called the Single Track Stampede II. Mj mentioned it to me and it looked like a good one.
I emailed the race coordinator and got the go ahead to ride muni at the race. But first I needed to test ride the course since I've never ridden there before.

So Mj and I drove out there today and gave it a try. They are definitely the most rooty trails I've ever seen. The roots are everywhere and they rarely let up. In the past this would have been an awful trail for me. But I guess I've gotten to a level of riding where it's actually fun to continuously pop over roots and pick the path of least resistance. It's a constant battle to power over the roots, rocks, and log piles on these trails. It's also a huge workout, but surprisingly my lower back did not fatigue like I would have expected. I've been trying to sit up and relax more whenever possible and I think it's helping.

At first Mj and I missed a turn and rode a cross country ski trail which is a much wider and smoother, dirt and rock trail. It was really the only place I used my high gear, but most of that isn't part of the race course.

Looking at a GPS map I found online, I may not have ridden the end of the course completely. But I certainly got a feel for it the trails. ROOTS! There were also, some good hillclimbs, some walking hillclimbs, a fun stream crossing, some cool rock armored sections, wood bridges, skinny bridges, small log piles, one big log pile (I had to walk), and... ROOTS! And a lot of it is right at the edge of a ravine, adding to the excitement.

I enjoyed it a lot and I will likely ride at the race in August.

My cycle computer said I went 9.9 miles, which is a little farther than my GPS. I guess all those ups and downs aren't accounted for on GPS.

Muni at Sprague Brook Park- 2011-07-05

Friday, July 1, 2011

Long Ride at Whiting and Webster

I took another vacation day and decided to spend the morning riding. I went to Whiting and Webster Park. Last time I was there it was a disaster with crazy amounts of mud and water from the spring rains. There is very little mud there now, but the once muddy parts are still scarred with ruts and depressions. It's totally rideable, just bumpier.

With all the riding I've been doing I've been feeling stronger. This definitely showed during today's ride. While it still took a strong effort to climb the hills I always ride, I succeeded every time and was not nearly as out of breath as in the past.

I rode the red trail in both directions. This is the hardest trail in Whiting and I rarely ride it. Riding south to north, there was one hill climb that was too much, a big log, and a short section of crazy tall roots that I stepped off for. Going north to south, I was able to climb everything, except the tall roots section which is part of a climb. The big log got me again. Oh, I did have get off for a step up to the boardwalk. It's narrow and there are railings that make it difficult to side hop up.

I saw an old coworker and chatted for about 10 minutes. It was good to catch up a bit, but I prefer to keep riding. I encountered a couple with a few dogs, and their small dog was afraid of me. I had to walk about 20 feet off the trail before it was willing to pass by! The owners were laughing so much. They didn't know their dog was afraid of unicycles! Later another little dog walking way ahead of its owner decided to climb a hill with me. But halfway through he turned around and started growling. I dismounted and made friends before starting the climb over.

Overall, it was a good strong ride. Both cycle computer and GPS agreed with about 15.5 miles.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-07-01