Monday, September 26, 2011

Schenectady Muni Only Race 2011

This weekend was the second annual Muni Only race in Schenectady.  Like last year, the family and I made an event of it.

On Saturday there was a fun ride at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.  There were a few new faces this year.  Rob was new to riding but did very well.  Kaycee came from Maine, but showed up about 20 minutes late and didn't make the picture.
Steveyo, Kai, Tom, Rob, Roland, me, (Kaycee not shown)
It was a good ride but the mosquitoes were relentless, thanks to hurricane Irene's recent flooding.  Kaycee showed some impressive skills, landing a few 180 rolling hops over logs. He was also a fast rider on his geared 29er.
After the ride we enjoyed dinner at Roland's house.  Thanks to Roland and family for their hospitality!

Amy made special unicycle cookies just for the occasion.  We had a choice of super fat tire gingerbread unicycles or sugar cookie unicycles.  They were a big hit.  Also, Friday was my birthday and Amy made me a unicycle cookie cake too!  
Gingerbread, Birthday Cake, Sugar cookie
On Sunday we raced at the trails at Schenectady Central Park.  This year we registered on BikeReg.  How official!  Was this the first unicycle only race on BikeReg?  A super serious runner and biker, Heather Rizzi of HHRT, helped put the race together with Roland.  I can't thank people enough for the effort they put into preparing and managing an event like this.  THANK YOU!

There were 9 of us racing this year.  I wished Perry and Jason, who I met last year, could have made it.  Maybe next year.
Kyle, Max, Roland, Kaycee, me, Steveyo, Tom, "non-racer"
Missing from picture: Kelley and Rob
Just like last year, the race was a 2 hour race, as many laps as you can.  You can start your final lap before the 2 hour mark and finish it.  Most laps in the best time wins.

The start of the race comes down a cinder road before climbing into singletrack.  At go time, I waited for a handful of riders go ahead of me.  I knew the race wouldn't be won or lost in the first 30 seconds and I didn't want to get tripped up in the group.  Most riders were ahead of me as we entered the singletrack.  It's sandy right there and I UPD'ed, holding up the few riders behind me.  Oops.  After remounting, I passed a few riders within the first minute or so.  Soon I was riding by myself, with three riders ahead:  Roland, Kaycee, and Steveyo.

I believe it was during my second lap that I found Steveyo in my sights.  We switched places several times during much of the lap, but somewhere along the way I gained some ground.  I was able to use my high gear for a few minutes on a flatter area at the end of each lap, and I'm sure that gave me an advantage over Steveyo, who was riding a 24" uni like me, but with no geared hub.  Roland and Kaycee were riding 29ers, and Kaycee had a geared hub too.
Near the beginning of lap three Kaycee was in sight.  I could tell he was running out of steam, as he was no longer riding up some hills.

As we finished each lap, Heather would yell out our time so far.  Mine were 29, 58, and 1:27.  I was consistently doing 29 minute laps.  This was kind of bad.  At this rate I would finish my fourth lap just under 2 hours.  Would I stand there and let the time run out or head out for another lap?

It must have been during my fourth lap that I saw Roland.  But he was on a trail above me going the other way, so I had no idea where he was.  He knows the trails very well.  Enough to tell me that I was in 2nd place.  Even though we passed within talking range, he might as well have been two miles away.  I still don't know those trails well, so for all I know, he WAS two miles away.

Sometime after that I decided I would definitely do another lap.  I was spent, but I saw two scenarios.  One was that Roland would be waiting at the finish, ready to do another lap only if he had to.  That case would have been fun.  The other scenario was that he'd be into another lap and possible have a technical problem or cramp up, allowing me to catch him.

Sure enough I finished my fourth lap just before 2 hours at 1:57.  I didn't see Roland standing there and I headed back in.  And I didn't see Roland at all during that, my final lap.  My quads started cramping up on the hill climbs.  On steeper hills I stepped off for fear of cramping up bad enough to not be able to continue.

I got a good cheer as I finished.  It turned out I didn't need to do my 5th lap, but I'm happy to have gotten my money's worth. ;-)  I'm proud to have earned 2nd place.

This year we had some prize options:  a helmet, some folding tools, and Park tool pint glasses.  I've started a collection of pint glasses from the races I've done this year, so I went with that.
yeah... anyone have a hack saw? :P
Unfortunately the course was a bit wet from recent rain.  Some of the skinnies were hard to ride and I learned to walk across some rather than slip and slide.  I was able to ride over many more log obstacles than last year, and that saved some time.  The hill climbs felt easier too.  I've definitely a better rider than last year.  My lower back was still sore like last year, but I felt like I could manage it better.  Now I have a sore knee (ITBS I believe) but it bothers me after the ride much more than during.  Stretching is helping.

Here are the results:
1) Roland Kays 25:10, 49:22, 1:16, 1:40, 2:07 (5 laps)
2) Buzz Weetman 29:00, 58:02, 1:27, 1:57, 2:28 (5 laps)
3) Kaycee Stevens 26:00, 55:27, 1:30, 2:05 (4 laps)
4) Steve Relles 28:00, 58:28, 1:36, 2:19 (4 laps)
5) Kelley Terrill, 36:30, 1:14, 1:51, 2:44 (4 laps)
6) Max Demilner 33:45, 56:40, 1:55 (3 laps)
7) Kyle Demilner 40:45, 1:23 (2 laps)
8) Tom Baker 55:38, 1:50 (2 laps)
9) Robert Detweiler 59:30, 1:57 (2 laps)

For the record, here's my fun ride GPS track:

Muni at Albany Pine Bush Preserve - 2011-09-24

 And here's my race GPS track. My cycle computer said it was over 12 miles. And some of my track started miles away, so I trimmed that. And I guess it stopped recording during my last lap, since it ends before I finished. But I guess it shows the general idea.

Muni Only Race at Schenectady Central Park - 2011-09-25

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Return to Dryer

It had been a while since I rode at the Dryer Road Mountain Bike Park (PDF trail map).  The last time was two months ago at the Fat Tire Festival.

I did well and rode longer that usual, making good progress on several hill climbs.  There's a short but steep hill on Epping Forest that's fairly rooty and has a bit of a step up in the middle.  I finally made it!  I also successfully climbed two of three hills on Chutes and Ladders.  The one I didn't make seems easier in terms of grade and distance, but has a log obstacle that's tough to get over during a climb.  On my two runs up Elevator, I UPD'ed as I hit the steepest section. On my second run I stepped back after my UPD and tried again, several times.  On my third attempt I made it!  I can't claim to have climbed Elevator in one run, but now I've climbed every part of it.  I just need to put it all together.

I've been using Kasha as my way up from the parking lot, and it tripped me up all three times today.  It actually seemed a bit shorter and easier than I remember, which I think means I'm making progress.   The steepest sections are riddled with rocks and sapling stumps that have been left since the trail was built and that's what caught me each time.  I think that was just bad luck.  I'll keep at it, but it also might be time to try some alternative routes again.

My knee was hurting as usual around the 5-7 mile mark.  I stopped several times and stretched my leg best I could.  That helped, but once I got home it was worse.  I keep stretching it, and it's getting better, but it's still frustrating.

As usual, with all the twists and turns at Dryer, my GPS track shows less than my cycle computer: about 7.5 miles versus 8.5 miles.

Muni at Dryer - 2011-09-18

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BPW and Hojack

I took vacation from work this morning to ride at Bay Park West. When I started it was under 60°F. Nice and cool. I was able to recreate the hill climbs I accomplished last time I was there without much problem, including the climb from the parking lot near the Fish and Game Club, and the climb out to Homewood Lane. Actually, come to think of it, there wasn't any climb I didn't succeed at. Oh wait, there's a little 5 foot section coming out of an old creek crossing that gets me every time. I don't think I even try very seriously because it's just not happening, but I should work on it.

The logs are the biggest challenge for me.  Some day I'll learn to hop them.

Because of the roller-coaster of hills at BPW, I accumulate mileage very slowly. And because of the route I like to take, at about the 4 mile point I find myself deciding whether to commit to nearly doubling that of just heading out. Not wanting to push things, I decided to head out.

Instead, I decided to ride the Hojack Trail in Webster before calling it a day. As an old railroad bed, this trail is flat and tame. I was able to ride my high gear the whole way with no problem. I did shift to low gear at several road crossings. Last time I rode there was after the winter thaw, and the trail surface was a mess. At this point it's back to normal.

Looking at the stats of both rides really shows how different these trails are:
Bay Park West Hojack Trail
5 miles in about 1.5 hours
Average speed: 3.4mph
6.8 miles in about 45 minutes
Average speed: 9mph
Halfway through the Hojack, my left knee was starting to bother me as usual.  Before turning around for the return trip, I sat down and stretched it out.  After that it felt 100%!  It got sore again before I was done, but I was amazed at how much the stretch helped.  I'm still hopeful that I'll completely rid myself of any pain during a reasonable ride, say 20 miles or less.  But until then, I hope I can use stretching to push on.

Muni at Hojack Trail - 2011-09-14

Muni at Bay Park West - 2011-09-14

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hills and Graffiti

I rode at Whiting and Webster Park this morning. I hit the Red trail, going from Orange to Blue. One of the hill climbs in this direction is a challenge for me and I had never accomplished. But today I made it on my second try! I also took the more direct, challenging route up two hill climbs in Webster. I also made both on my second attempt. Aside from some good hill climbs, I used my high gear quite a bit.

I made sure to ride the new Green trail opened yesterday.  I rode from the field entrance to where it meets the Red trail.  It's a good trail, though it's fairly pitted.  I remember how some of the new trails at Bay Park West were like this a first.  I'm not sure if work was done to smooth the surface of those trails or if it just happened with use.

My left knee started bothering me a bit towards the end of my ride. I stopped and stretched a bit. It's not as bad as it's been, so I'm hopeful I'm on the path to recovery. For months I have noticed the "Closes at Dusk" sign in the Whiting parking lot had been graffiti'ed. Someone had spray painted a penis on it. Nice. So today I brought a ladder and a variety of cleaning supplies to try to remove it. My first attempt was to use auto body rubbing compound and it worked very well. That was my good deed for the day.

I rode nearly 10 miles:

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-09-11

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Whiting Green Trail

Today was the monthly trail work day for the Friends of Webster Trails. There were about 30 volunteers helping out. We continued working on the new Green trail at Whiting Road Nature Preserve. I worked with a group that did a lot of benching. In all I was there for over three hours.

There is still more work to do but the trail is completely usable and has been opened! This is actually only 1/3 of the planned trail. The rest will likely be worked on next year.

I hope to ride this new trail soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nursing My Left Leg

I've been working on fixing my left leg. It sounds like my IT band is too tight. That's what I suspect caused the pain on the outside of my left knee last time I rode. But the deep sciatica-like ache within my hamstring might be a different problem. I've been stretching more and more, and have come to realize just how inflexible I am, especially in my legs.
This morning I did some yoga with my Wii Fit and so many exercises cause the muscles/tendons/ligaments on the back of my legs to feel like they're stretching too far. And yet, my legs still have a long way to go to be straight. When I sit on the floor with my legs straight out and reach to touch my toes, I can only get to about 12" away. As I try harder the back of my knees burn. That's pretty pathetic.  I'm going to be stretching more and more and see if I can fix this.

After this morning's stretching, I rode at Whiting and Webster Park. I did well, making all the usual hill climbs. I didn't try to challenge myself with the Red trail or any more difficult options because I'm trying to take it easy. I kind of surprised myself at how easily I climbed the usual hills.

I did my standard circuit, and then repeated the first half in Whiting. By then I was feeling some issues in my leg, it was raining significantly, and the trails were getting greasy.

I rode the Midnight Trail, but did not see anyone.  This was my first time riding there since the stick woman incident.
My ride totaled about 8 miles.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-09-05

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

I had another chiropractic appointment today. The sciatica-like problem I was having has not been a problem, even after my hard ride at Bay Park West.

But as I previously mentioned, the outside of my left knee got sore towards the end of my ride, and continued to be sore for the rest of the day. I was limping a bit at times. This problem has gotten progressively worse over the past four or five rides.

My chiropractor analyzed it and is pretty confident that it's a problem with my IT band. It's very tight on the left leg. He suggested the sciatica-like feeling could be related. Stretching it should help, and he gave me some exercises.

Hopefully I'll get rid of my back, leg, and knee problems so I can concentrate on edurance and skills.