Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 FWT Leaf Blowing

Once again I helped the Friends of Webster Trails clear the fall leaves from some of the trails using Frank's leaf blower. I cleared all of Whiting Road Nature Preserve, which looks to be about 5-6 miles.  It took me 3 hours.

Last year I was able to also clear the Midnight Trail and a few miles of Webster Park, despite being fatigued after Whiting.  This year I stopped with just Whiting as I was running low on gas, tired, and figured I could come back another day.  Once I was home and sitting around for a while, the sides of my knees and hips were killing me when I walked. My IT bands and hip flexors aren't used to hiking around like that!

I noticed the section Green trail that was built this year was very wet. Last year's section was wet in spots too.  Hopefully time will cure this.

The Friends of Webster Trails had filled some chronic mud pits with "oughts and ones" stone in the spring.  We don't like the look and feel of the stone but it does seem to do the job.  On these sections, I noticed the leaf blower blew off some of the loose surface stones leaving a hard packed surface that looked like gray dirt or worn concrete.  I didn't spend any effort to intentionally remove this stone, but in the future is might be a good idea, though it will probably happen naturally with trail use.

Also, like last year, I noticed in some places the leaves were well packed into a muddy trail surface, or blew off and revealed a wet trail.  This makes me think the leaves fell earlier in some areas and probably should have been removed earlier.  Certainly some trees drop their leaves earlier than others.  Maybe next year I'll see if we can clear the trails twice to prevent water from getting trapped under these early leaves.  I think some people like the leaves on the trails when they hike, so I hate to do it too soon, but maintaining the trails  and avoided problems is important too.

I may head out for some more trail leaf blowing in the next few days.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Two Parks One Wheel

I hadn't ridden in over three weeks because of the cold and wet weather we've been having.  There were a few days in there that may have been ok but the trails weren't cleared of leaves and I was busy at work.

Today's temperature was unseasonably warm at about 70°F so I had to take advantage.  It felt like I needed to do something bigger than usual.  I have seen ride reports from my mountain biker friends showing how they rode at both Bay Park West and Tryon by riding about 3/4 mile of road.  So I decided to do this.

I started at the Homewood Lane trail head at BPW, rode through in the most direct way possible, all the way to the south end of Tryon.  Pretty much all of the trails have been leaf blown.  Some spots were muddy, as expected.  I saw many people out on the trails: mountain bikers that I know, some I don't, hikers, and joggers.

On my way back I tried to take any reasonable alternative trails to keep things interesting.

I definitely wasn't feeling my strongest, which makes sense since I haven't been riding for weeks.  I didn't make it up many of the hills that take everything I've got.

About a third of my way out of Tryon I pushed hard up a hill and my left calf cramped badly.  I was able to ride within a few minutes, and though I could feel the residual cramping pain, it never came back so intensely.

I worked my way back through BPW but I was running on empty.  My quads started cramping on my last climb up to Homewood.  When I had to walk, I'm sure I looked like an old man.

Overall it was a good outing.  I might want to try it again when I'm feeling stronger.

My cycle computer showed 8.7 miles.  Both parks have tough trails, so this felt more like 15.

Muni at BPW and Tryon - 2012-11-11

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tryon at Sunrise

This morning I rode at Tryon. It was just under 40°F when I started but I warmed up before too long.

Many of the trails were completely covered with leaves. I got tripped up by unseen roots a few times. I hope the Rocket Man cleans things up soon!

My cycle computer and GPS agreed at about 6 miles.

Muni at Tryon - 2012-10-17

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Robi Visits

Robi of Schenectady offered to make the long drive to Rochester so that we could ride some muni!  He stayed overnight and we rode at Whiting and Webster Park this morning.

Forgot to take a picture on the trail!
I met Robi at the past two Schenectady Muni-Only Races and he organized this year's race.  He rides very well, especially given he has only been on one wheel for not much more than a year.

It's always fun to talk with someone who is really into the sport.  I also learned a thing or two from him on the trails.

We rode about 10 miles, but sessioned a number of hills and obstacles.

We're hoping to find some cool spots to ride halfway between Albany and Rochester and plan another meetup.

I'm giving Endomondo a try to display my GPS data:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tryon - Long Time No Ride

After last weekend's ride at Bay Park West I was looking for something new.  I hadn't been to Tryon Park in a while so I figured I'd head there.  I didn't realize how long it had actually been until now.  The last time I was there to ride was in June of last year!

I guess I can justify that because Tryon is a tough place to ride and it's probably best to ride there when temperatures are low.  Today it was about 50°F out which is probably ideal.

There are so many hills and technical challenges.  It's definitely a fun place.  But I found myself stopping to lean on trees and catch my breath after many hill climbs.

I mistakenly took my old GPS receiver, which looks almost identical to my newer one, but because it's not actually a logger (it simply transmits GPS data via bluetooth) I didn't map any of my ride.  It looks like a generally covered the same trails as I did on my last ride there.

My cycle computer seems to have malfunctioned.  It said I rode for only 38 minutes and went about 3 miles. But that's not right because I was there for closer to 2 hours and probably rode at least 6 miles.  I must have a bad connection or magnet position.

I saw a handful of mountain bikers while I was there, some of which I knew.  I also saw some nice trail improvements that have taken place over the past year.  Nice work guys!

My back didn't bother me too bad, but it's still got fatigued at times.  I've been trying to stretch it and do some exercises to help, so I think that might be working.  I also raised my seat a tad.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Brief Ride at BPW

I rode at Bay Park West this afternoon.  I didn't feel very strong and my lower back fatigued early so I made it brief.

There's a steep climb that comes right after a moderate climb that I always have to pause and rest for.  I remember about three months ago, the last time I rode at BPW, I wanted to make these climbs in one go.  But by the time I got to the steep section it just wasn't in me and I didn't even try.  Today I made the full climb with no rest stop.  I think the cooler low-humidity weather and my continued riding made it easier.

Come to think of it, I made several other tough climbs.  I guess even though I wasn't feeling strong, I was still riding ok.

It looks like I rode 3.75 miles.  Once again my GPS logger had some kind of hiccup. Hmm.

Muni at Bay Park West - 2012-09-29

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Schenectady Muni Only Race 2012

Once again the family and I made the trip to Schenectady for the annual muni race.

On Saturday I went to the fun ride at the Pine Bush Preserve.  The turnout was small, with only Robi, Tom, and myself.  But it only takes a few of us to have a great time.  It was nice that the thunderstorms waited for us to finish our ride!

After the fun ride we went to Robi and Liz's house for dinner.   The tamale pie and sweet potatoes were awesome!  It's always nice to visit with fellow muni riders.  We seem to be a rare breed.

Today we raced at Schenectady Central Park.  We had 8 racers, which isn't bad, though it would be awesome to have double or triple that sometime.

This year we got a good picture of the Schenectady Muni sign.  It gives me a chuckle every year.  While the golf course is to the left, the muni race is actually to the right.  Someone should probably fix that.

In the past, Roland mainly organized the event, but he has since moved to North Carolina.  Robi, who has only been riding for just over a year, took the initiative to organize this year's event.  He and Liz did a great job, and we really couldn't ask for anything more.  Tom, who lives an hour away, helped mark the course early this morning.  Thanks for making it a great event guys!  Also, thanks to Heather Rizzi for managing the timing and insurance for the race!

The course this year turned out to be a bit different than the last two.  It was longer and took us into some super rooty sections and some extra hill climbs.  I liked it.  Unlike last year's 25 minute laps, this year's took me about 45 minutes.  But the rules were the same: as many laps as you can, and your last lap must begin before the two hour mark.

This year I didn't have the great Roland ahead of me.  My greatest challengers were Steveyo and Robi.  Steveyo is a strong experienced rider and has always placed in this race.  Robi is the newcomer who has made huge progress in a short time.

I'm happy to say I was able to earn 1st place this year!  Robi got 2nd, and Steveyo 3rd.  Each of us did three laps. (me: 2:17, Robi: 2:31, Steveyo: 2:32)  Maybe they let me win because today is also my birthday!  Nah. ;-)

I picked a skate-style helmet as my prize, but even cooler than that was the trophy that Robi had made for those who podiumed.  So cool!

Amy made her awesome muni cookies again for this year.  They're certainly a crowd pleaser.  Thanks Amy!

My GPS has never recorded the race properly.  This year it seemed to miss 90% of my first lap.  My cycle computer says the three laps totaled 11.3 miles.  That's just shy of my somewhat typical trail ride at Whiting, but this course is at least twice as tough.

I was happy to find my hill climbing abilities have truly improved.  I was able to climb every hill even when fatigued.  It's rewarding for me to conquer these hills that I was forced to partially walk the past two races.  I had some long clean runs on the skinny sections too.  I also made in over nearly all the log obstacles that are within my ability.  There are a few big ones on the course that I couldn't do even outside of a race.  Probably the biggest difficultly of this course is a few sections of insanely dense, and wet, roots.  But even on those I had good luck, falling a few times.

My lower back was screaming for much of the race.  It's frustrating to have that problem return.  I tried to straighten up and stretch as I rode, but otherwise I just had to do my best to ignore it and push on.  Toward the end of lap three my legs were pretty painful on the hill climbs.  But in general I felt pretty strong.

It was a great birthday weekend for me.

Muni at Albany Pine Bush Preserve - 2011-09-22

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tour de Webster

Today I wanted to go riding but my lower back was feeling stiff and sore.  I decided to do a lot of stretching and do a lighter ride.

I've been wanting to do ride a loop from my house through several connecting trails throughout Webster.  Since a good portion would be road and path, it would be an easier ride.  I also raised my seat a bit hoping it would help my back.

I rode on the street from my house to Webster Park.  I knew there was an unmarked trail-head on the eastern most side of the park.  From there I rode the trails, only slightly knowing where I was going.  I don't normally go through Webster Park this way.  It wasn't long before I was on part of my typical route and I headed out to Whiting.

My trip through Whiting was very direct.  I know these trails well and my goal was to pass through: blue to orange to red to white, exiting at Pellet Rd.

Across Pellet Rd I entered into the Gosnell Big Woods.  This is a pedestrian only trail, so I hiked through, pushing my uni.  As a board member of the Friends of Webster Trails, I especially feel obligated to honor the no-riding rules of this trail, and I did.  But I have to say I don't see the issue.  While the woods may contain very old trees, I can't see how riding on the trails would be a problem.  The trail surface appears to be like any trails in Webster and the trees would not be damaged from riding.  Perhaps this will be changed in the future.  I think it should.
As I pushed my uni along, I encountered a group doing trail work.  It was Alisa, a board member of FWT who has been coordinating many scout projects in our parks.  Today the project was to build some benches and extend a bridge with boardwalks.  I stopped briefly to say hi and continued on my way.  Nice work!

Once out of the Big Woods I rode around the Big Field, crossed Vosburg Rd and entered Vosburg Hollow.  It only took a few minutes to ride through Vosburg and I was onto the Hojack Trail.

Aside from the street crossings, I rode in high gear on the Hojack and made good time.  The Hojack was recently extended so I stayed on it the whole way to check it out on my muni.  Another option would have been to take the Bird Sanctuary Trail  to the Chiyoda Trail, which I would probably choose next time.  The new length of the Hojack was made by compacting road millings.  It works, but it's pretty boring.  We need some log piles or skinnies along the way to make it interesting.  Haha.

Finally I hit the end of the Hojack and headed up Philips Rd towards home.  This road has a relatively new bike lane but it's so flat and straight that once you've seen 10 feet of it you've seen it all.  I was able to stay awake for most of it.

Along the way I pushed pretty hard to make good time and there were a few good hills to climb on the trails.  My back didn't bother me too much.  Overall it was a fun outing.

I forgot to turn my GPS logger on until I got to Webster Park, but I added the missing road section using Google maps.
The trip was about 13 miles.

Muni Around Webster - 2012-09-16

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spirit Ride

I rode at Whiting and Webster Park this morning because I was excited to try my new Spirit cranks.

Mornings are cooler now and I started out feeling cold, but not too bad.  The cranks felt pretty much like I'm used to, but shifting seemed a touch more difficult.  These cranks have a bit of a bend to them so I think I have to push my heel in even more than before to hit my shift buttons.  It might take a few more rides to get my shift success/failure ratio back up.

I felt like my riding was a bit sloppy because I was stepping off more than usual.  Also my lower back was complaining to me.  It hasn't bothered me like that in a long time.  I'm hoping my new seat post or saddle just needs some adjustment.  I may not have set it up like exactly like my old one.  Or maybe I was just more tired than normal.  I did notice I wasn't concentrating as well.

I cut my ride a bit short at about 8 miles.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-09-13

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spirits and Fixed Post

Days ago I got my new Spirit cranks to replace my broken Moments but just got around to installing them.  The quality of Kris Holm parts is first class.  These cranks feel like they're from the future.

I also bought a new seat post.  The one I've been using has extra hardware on it to make the saddle adjustable.  The one I got is fixed, though the slotted holes still provide enough adjustment.  I figured it would be lighter but I couldn't find any numbers online so I just bought it.  Sure enough it is about 100 grams (0.22 lbs) lighter.

As long as I have practice making a comparison chart...

Old PartWeightNew PartWeightSavings
Aggressively milled KH Moment cranks - 125mm/150mm444 g / 0.98 lbsKH Spirit cranks - 127mm/150mm431 g/ 0.95 lbs13 g / 0.03 lbs
KH adjustable post (cut short)258 g / 0.57 lbsKH fixed forged post (cut short)158 g / 0.35 lbs100 g/ 0.22 lbs

That's another quarter pound removed.  Most of it is static weight and not rotational, but I'll take it.

I'm actually more excited to have a working muni than the weight loss.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Borrowed Nimbus

With my muni temporarily out of order, I spent the time to painstakingly compile and sort a list of every single muni rider in the area who might have an off-road unicycle I could borrow.  After four exhausting seconds, I had my results:  Mj or Jamie.

I ended up borrowing Jamie's 26" Nimbus.  He assured me he wouldn't be riding it this weekend and it was fine with him.  This was pretty cool because I've been wondering if I should get a bigger wheel.  My 24" wheel is the smallest size for muni, but 26" and 29" are commonly used also.

A bigger wheel interests me because it would increase my speed when I'm in my low gear.  And it rolls over obstacles easier.  But a bigger wheel scares me a bit because it would increase my potential speed when I'm in high gear, and will make climbing hills more difficult.

So I headed back to Whiting and Webster park this morning with Jamie's ride.  This is the first time in my 3 years of muni that I've ridden on a trail with a wheel that wasn't 24".

It didn't feel all that different.  Like my old Onza, his cranks are 165mm, the longest typically used.  My current uni has 150mm cranks.  It's kind of surprising how the 1.5cm difference can feel like a lot.  Obviously the circle path your feet move in is bigger.  Generally this makes for a slower cadence, but with the wheel diameter being bigger, I couldn't definitively conclude a difference in speed.

I did feel like the rolling over roots was a bit easier, as it should be.  The 3" wide tire, like I had before lightening my load, helps rolling over bigger bumps too.

I tried all the tough hills and my results were not far off from my normal ride.  At times I did feel like I had extra leverage with the longer cranks, but I questioned if there was some power of suggestion at play.  I didn't feel like the bigger wheel was necessarily holding me back when climbing.

I missed not having my Schlumpf hub.  Some of those long flat sections were begging for a high gear.  I also missed my brake.  I was able to descend most hills without a problem, though with a bit less control.  But there are a good number of hills that are steep and also have something of a step down in them.  Without a brake, the momentum gained has to be controlled with back pressure on the cranks alone.  But back pressure can only be applied most effectively when the cranks are in the right position.  Any extra drops on an already steep hill, with cranks positioned sub-optimally, caused me to dismount out of fear.

For now my conclusion is that a 24" and 26" wheel are similar enough that with different cranks and tires, their performance overlaps significantly.  I think I need to ride a 29er to feel a bigger difference.

Thanks for the loaner Jamie!  Both your cranks are still in one piece.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-09-02

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Broken Moment

Back in the spring I mentioned I was trying to make my muni lighter, but I never got around to posting the details, until now.

Weight matters because it affects acceleration, deceleration, hopping, and the response of the uni.  The most critical location to remove weight is on the wheel.  This rotational weight is the biggest contributor to the factors I mentioned.

So back in March I took my my unicycle apart, down to the nuts and bolts, and weighed everything on an electronic scale.  I didn't want to make any assumptions about where I could remove weight.
(Google spreadsheet of part weights)

I researched and purchased lighter weight parts.  Here's what I replaced and the weights:

Old PartWeightNew PartWeightSavings
Odyssey Trail Mix pedals566 g / 1.25 lbsWellgo MG-1 Ti pedals300 g/ 0.66 lbs266 g / 0.59 lbs
KH Moment cranks - 125mm/150mm585 g / 1.29 lbssame, but aggressively milled444g / 0.98 lbs141 g/ 0.31 lbs
Duro Razor 24x3.0 tire1421 g / 3.13 lbsPanaracer Fire FR 24x2.4850 g / 1.87 lbs571 g / 1.26 lbs
24x3.0 DH stock tube425 g / 0.94 lbsSchwalbe A 10 24x1.5/2.5165 g / 0.36 lbs260 g / 0.57 lbs
KH two bolt seat clamp67 g / 0.15 lbsWoodman Deathgrip SL Ti11 g / 0.02 lbs56 g / 0.12 lbs
1294 g / 2.85 lbs

That brought my muni weight down from 17.91 lbs to 15.06 lbs... almost 3 lbs!  And all but 0.12 lbs of that was rotational!

The tire and tube change removed 1.83 lbs of weight at the outside wheel, where weight is the worst. That's huge. But the tire is less wide, has weaker sidewalls, and the tube is thinner and more prone to flats (I got one in June).

The pedals and crank changes removed 0.9 lbs of weight.  I love my magnesium pedals with titanium spindles.  When I held one in my hand it the lightness was incomprehensible.

When it came to the cranks, I had seen a few examples online of people drilling and milling material away to make them lighter.  I remembered a friend of mine had a milling machine in his garage and he was willing to do some work for me. Thanks again Mike!!

Here's the before and after:

We went extreme.  It should be clear to anyone that removing so much material would significantly weaken these cranks.  But I'm lighter than the average rider and I don't do big drops, so I figured they had a good chance of working for me.  And they did... for about 5 months.

This morning I went back to Whiting to power up some more hills.  On the White trail I was on attempt four of a hard climb when PING!  I stepped off as if I was stopped by a root and found my pedal was on the ground.

When I first rode these cranks I feared if they broke I might get cut in the leg by the resulting sharp spikes.  My Achilles tendon was going to get severed.  Thankfully that didn't happen.  I'm also thankful I wasn't in a race or out of town.  In fact, I was at the trails closest to home.  Though, I was about as far away from the parking lot as possible.  I jogged back to at least get some exercise out of the trip.

On a positive note, I got home and ordered some new cranks.  This year Kris Holm replaced the Moment cranks with Spirits.  They're made of 7050 aluminum instead off 6000 series aluminum, making them lighter.  In fact they're 424 g / 0.93 lbs per pair, which are actually a bit lighter than my crazy milled Moments!  I got a few other goodies too.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-09-01

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Continued Climbing Success

This afternoon I rode again at Whiting and Webster Park.  After my success on the Red trail this weekend, I was kind of psyched up to try to ride the White trail and try to claim I can climb every hill at Whiting.

I can't recall the last time I was on the White trail.  I knew there was something of a hill on it, and that it led to Pellet road, but that's about it.

So when I headed there this afternoon it was like riding a new trail.  The trail is nothing crazy except for the single up and over hill.  Up wasn't too bad, though still challenging.  Down had a couple of switchbacks that are pretty tight.  I felt proud that I made it to Pellet Road with no dismount.  The way back was harder because those switchbacks are steep and sharp.  I was one root away from making it my first attempt, but only succeeded after 3 or 4 tries.

So I can now officially say that I've climbed every hill in Whiting!  Someday maybe I can ride every trail in both directions with no dismount.  That would be tough.

Webster Park has many trails but I tend to follow a single path through it.  There are a few challenging hill climbs going counter-clockwise, but I make them all most of the time.  Today I rode clockwise because I knew of one hill that I had never successfully climbed.

It's pretty steep and has some tricky roots. I saw three paths to try, and graded them as gold, silver, and bronze.  I failed gold a few times, and worked on silver probably about 10 times.  I was so close, but I decided it wasn't in the cards today.  I went for bronze and made it my first try.

Along the way I saw two small snakes and a small snapping turtle.  I removed the turtle from the trail and put him in some nearby water.  I also unblocked a section of trail by removing a small tree that had fallen.  I brought my folding saw in my pack because I noticed it on my last ride.

I feel like I've leveled-up in my climbing ability today.  I also had about six successful side hops up onto bridges.  These might only be about 8" high, but I was successful and consistent.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-08-28

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Final Red Hill

This morning I rode at Whiting Road Nature Preserve and Webster Park.

Towards the end of my ride I encountered Jeff, the Trails Chair of the Friends of Webster Trails.  We chatted a bit and headed over to a brand new boardwalk on an unopened section of the Green trail.  Even though I'm involved with FWT trail work, there is so much that happens thanks to the other members.  One of our members has organized an astounding amount of work that's been done by scouts and high school seniors.

Bridges, boardwalks, and new trail clearings magically appear!

The new boardwalk I saw today looked awesome, and I bet I was the first wheel and first unicycle to cross it!

Afterward, I headed to the Red trail from the north, to make an attempt at a tough hill climb.  This is the last hill on the Red trail that I haven't been able to climb..  It took me close to 10 attempts, but I finally made it!  Finding the right path and avoiding a pedal strike in one section was key.  Otherwise, the incline isn't that bad.  I avoid a crazy root section by riding along a narrow bypass along the edge of it, which feels a bit like cheating.  I may work on side-hopping those roots someday.

Now the only part of Whiting that I haven't successfully passed is a log-over on the Red trail with a step on each side, and the White trail.  I've only ridden the White trail once or twice because it leads to the Gosnell Big Woods which are off limits.  But I'll give it a try next time.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-08-26

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harrisburg Vacation

The family and I spent four days at in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, meeting up with some relatives for a reunion.  Since muni riders are hard to come by, I made some plans to meet up with some riders during my trip.

On Saturday I took an excursion to Germantown, Maryland to do some muni riding with a few riders from that area, Chuck and Claude.
We rode at Black Hill Regional Park and Hoyle's Mill Connector, about 11 miles.  We were all feeling somewhat spent, but because I had driven so far, I pushed to ride more.  So we drove back to Chuck's house, refilled with water, and rode to a trail not far away.  We added another 5.5 miles to our ride.  I had a great time.

I had ridden with Claude in the 2011 Fat Tire Challenge, but racing and riding with someone are two different things.  I like riding together as a group better.  He's a very strong rider and throws some tricks into his ride too... like occasionally riding with one foot.

Chuck hasn't even been riding for a year yet, but he's already quite impressive.  In places I was sure he'd UPD, he rode like a pro.  Nice riding Chuck!

Back at Chuck's house, he treated us to some homemade pizza!  It was SO good.

Monday was our last day in Harrisburg.  On our drive home we made a stop at Danville, PA to meet up with Sundy, a unicyclist from Mocanaqua, PA.  He drove a bit and met me at Geisinger Trails, so I wouldn't have to drive too far off my path to home.
It's a small world.  Back when I had my Schlumpf hub built into a wheel, the bike shop owner told me about a local unicyclist.  I remembered he said his name was something like Sonny, but that was the last I heard of him.  It turned out that Sundy was him!  He had previous gone to school in Rochester at RIT.  He's an experienced unicyclist, but hasn't been riding muni and this was an opportunity for him to get into it.  He happens to be deaf, but could talk very well.  He was able to lip-read and interpret my gestures enough to communicate.

For someone who hasn't been riding much, he did very well.  Geisinger Trails turned out to be very hilly but I enjoyed the challenge.  We rode the Bear trail and managed not to get too lost.

Thanks for the ride Sundy!

Muni at Black Hill Regional Park - 2012-08-11

Muni at Geisinger Trails - 2012-08-13

Monday, July 30, 2012

Victor Post Fat Tire Festival Article

A co-worker of mine brought in a newspaper clipping from the Victor Post about last week's Fat Tire Festival.  I found the same article online and took a screenshot for safe keeping:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Festival

Today was a big race for me.  I raced Sport class at the Fat Tire Festival at Dryer Rd park.

As the only unicyclist, you could say I'm in a class of my own, but I was in Sport because I wanted to do three laps.
That's about 10.5 miles on a pretty tough course, especially for muni.

It was pretty much as I expected.  Doing three practice runs (#1, #2, #3) over the past six weeks and last year's race was good preparation.  Still I had the usual doubts and fatigue I've come to expect during a ride like this.

Also as expected, I had to step off many times when I heard mountain bikers approaching from behind.  It works out fine but does slow me down.

According to my GPS I finished in 2 hours 13 minutes.  As I anticipated from my test runs and last year's race results, I finished with just a handful of expert riders still on the course finishing their five laps.

The crowd and announcer cheered a lot for me when I was in the start/finish area of the field.  Obviously I stand out.  A lot of people were impressed.  Who knows, maybe I made an impression and we'll end up with some more local riders.

Since there was no muni class and I was in Sport, I didn't place.  But when I was cleaning up my stuff to leave, I was given another pint glass to add to my collection.  Awesome!

Fat Tire Festival - 2012-07-21

Thanks to the Town of Victor, the Victor Parks and Rec, GROC, and all the sponsors that made this an awesome event!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #6

This evening I rode at the final race of the Fat Tire Weeknight Series.

Nothing particularly exciting occurred, but it was a good ride.  I got some good "Go uni-guy!" comments, and another kid saying "You're an inspiration!".  :-)

My chest has been feeling uncomfortable off and on for about the past four days.  It feels like when I have a chest cold or have been working in a dusty area.  If it's not an irritation in my lungs it might just be a muscle strain of some kind.  It's hard to know, but I don't think it affected my race.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #6 - 2012-07-18

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #5

Weeks ago I rode the Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #1.  I skipped the next three.  I was sick for #2, thought it was too hot for #3, and was too sore for #4.

This evening I rode race #5.

I used my high gear quite a bit more than usual, though my average speed was about the same as last race.  This may have been because the course was slightly modified and I had a somewhat significant UPD.

There used to be a relatively steep rooty downhill that has been replaced with a freshly cut winding trail, probably for safety concerns.  Unfortunately this new trail is not yet well formed and is a battle of humps and bumps.  It added a bit of distance to the course and was also significantly slower than the previous trail.

On a smooth section I had a UPD at a high speed.  I stepped off hard and did a tuck and roll.  My left hamstring must have extended hard because it cramped up and was unusable for a few minutes. I sat on the side of the trail until I could ride.  I got a little dirty and have a few abrasions but nothing bad.  I think a mountain biker was fairly close behind me and probably got a good chuckle.

It seemed like there were more riders to me.  I must have dismounted to let riders past like 100 times.  It's kind of crazy and breaks up my riding, but that's the deal.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #5 - 2012-07-11

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Festival Test Run #3

This morning I did yet another three lap test run of the Fat Tire Festival course.

There was a youth lacrosse group practicing in the field, so I couldn't incorporate the start/finish section of the course into my ride.  I rode a few loops in the parking lot as an alternative, but since the field is actually a bumpy minefield on a unicycle, it hardly compares.  Still, the majority of the difficulty comes from the hill climbing, which I did.
I've probably written this up before, but I don't feel like doing anything else, so here's a rundown of the trails in the course:

Sport Field - The race starts in a sports field.  For me this sucks because even though it's level, it's riddled with bumps hidden by grass.  I'm in a constant state of adjusting my balance and that wears me down.  I wonder if it looks like I can hardly ride and that's where the spectators are.  After the field is a just a bit of a climb up to the tree line.

Kasha - This is where the race enters the woods.  It's a series of switchbacks that climb up to the top of the park.  None of it is crazy steep on its own, but all together it requires a significant energy output. By the end I'm spent.

Upper Field - Then the course crosses the field.  Unlike the sports field, this field has something of a trail, but it's worn probably only six inches wide and riddled with rocks and tufts of grass.  Much of it also shaped into a trench which can be a fight for a single somewhat snaking unicycle wheel.  I actually find riding just to the side of this in the mowed grass to be more efficient.  The trail loops around one side up the field before entering the woods again.

Tree Beard - This is a pretty cool trail.  Most of it is smooth and rolling.

VB - This is a switchback heading down.  None of it is particularly steep.

Epping Forest - Technically there's a small section of connecting trail between VB and Epping Forest, but it's just a short tame section.  EF is pretty long and has a series of hill climbs and descents.  It's a good workout but totally doable.  It ends with a long medium grade climb that leaves me winded, which sucks because what's next is harder.

Chutes and Ladders -  As it's name suggests, this one has it's ups and downs.  Basically the medium grade climb from EF continues, followed by a descent.  The next climb would be totally doable if it weren't for a section of log corduroy in the middle.  Although it's relatively level and probably three feet long, the approach requires a significant hop up onto it from a upward slope.  By that time I'm spent and my efforts are weak.  Today I got close, but still ended up walking about 20 feet.  Then it's down only to encounter the next climb.  This one is significant in grade but not too long.  I usually make it with a significant effort.  Then it's down again only to encounter a longer and even steeper climb.  I'm not sure I've ever made this one.  It's tough but doable if I were not so spent.  I've been getting pretty close but there's a short rooty section that's been getting me.  Finally it's down again and over a log stack.

SSW - This one has some twists and turn and a few mini climbs but nothing too bad.

Elevator - The first part of Elevator is a short climb.  I find myself taking a breather here for the big climb.  This climb is very significant and leaves my quads pulsing with fire.  It's steep, somewhat rooty and sandy, but I'm happy to say I made this climb on all three laps today.  It ends with another short climb back out to the upper field.

Upper Field - This is fairly similar to the previous section of the upper trail in terms of its surface.  But about two-thirds of this I use my high gear and get some good speed.

Gully Down -  For the most part this is a descent and heads back down to the parking lot.  Nothing too crazy here.  The race course may incorporate some part of Kaleidoscope, but either way it's about the same as the ending of Gully Down.

Sport Field - Finally it's back into the sport field to the finish of a lap.

Cycle Computer: 11.6 miles
I finished about 5 minutes faster than my previous test runs, but that's probably just because I didn't ride the field.  I suspect my actual race time will only be slower because I'll have to step off or pull over to let a hundred mountain bikers pass.

Muni at Dryer Road Park - 2012-07-08

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Whiting and Webster Ride

I rode at Whiting and Webster Park this morning.  Nothing too exciting, just wanted to keep the wheel in motion.

I did successfully climb the Whiting yellow hill on my third run through.  I rode the opposite way through Webster.  It's funny how different everything looks going the other way.

I rode a bit longer than usual.
Cycle computer: 16.5 miles

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2012-07-01

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Morning Ride

My quads have been crazy sore since my Sunday ride.  I must have really pushed hard I guess.  I skipped the Wednesday weeknight race (again) because of this.

I wanted to get a mid-week ride in, and while I was still a bit sore this morning, it wasn't enough to prevent me from riding.  So I took a few hours off from work and rode at Bay Park West.  I didn't feel particularly strong, but then BPW is a tough place and I was feeling the heat early on.  I did have some good climbs and made it through and made it both ways through the rock garden on the Purple trail, first try.  But I UPD'ed a few too many times on the second half of my ride and decided I didn't need to push myself so hard this time.  So I ended my ride a bit early.

Cycle computer: 4.4miles
Muni at Bay Park West - 2012-06-28

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Unicycling Anniversary

Every year I do a ceremonial ride down the driveway to remember my first day of unicycling.
Plus my family gets me a cake.

Here's this year's video:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Festival Test Run #2

This morning I worked with a fine group of trail workers to help prepare Dryer Road Park for the Fat Tire Festival race coming up on July 21st.  From 9:00 to about 11:30 we worked to improve a few of the trouble spots on Elevator and Chutes and Ladders.  Mostly we widened, resurfaced, de-bermed, and made channels for water flow.  The majority of this work was on significant hills which are prone to erosion from water and tire force.  Hopefully the fixes will last.

After the trail work I cleaned up, had a bit of food, and prepared for another Fat Tire Festival test run like I did about a month ago.  Again my goal was to ride 3 laps, since I've registered for the Sport class.  For this ride I put Hammer Endurolytes powder in my Camelbak water in an attempt to fix the cramping problems I recently had.

My first lap was tough mentally.  Physically I climbed well, but after each big climb I found myself fighting to catch my breath and lower my heart rate.  I felt dizzy more than usual and was somewhat concerned.  I guess my stomach was working on the food I ate after the trail work.  My goal to do two more laps was not seeming realistic.  Despite the struggle, I made it up Elevator.  Actually, my hand that holds my seat handle cramped up on this climb.  I've never had that before.  I guess I was really squeezing tight.  For a few minutes it was like my hand could either snap open or snap shut, painfully.  Thankfully it didn't last.

On the start of my second lap I had a devil and angel on my shoulders:"screw it, who cares, just call it a day", "keep pushing, you can stop when you absolutely have to, you can do it!"   It's hard to say who was the angel and who was the devil, but in any case I pushed on.  My climbing was good and I felt like my breathing and heart rate improved and I wasn't feeling as dizzy.  But I was getting tired and  my lower back and shoulders were starting to yell at me.  I started to feel the onset of some cramping in my quads and calves but it didn't become a real problem.

While I was feeling fairly spent, heading into my third lap wasn't much of a question.  With two laps behind me I just ignored the option to quit and kept pushing.  My fatigue caused me a few extra UPDs and leg cramps were feeling imminent, but I finished my ride without incident.

I confirmed doing 3 laps is in me, but it's a struggle.  It got to about 80°F.   Race day could be significantly hotter.

According to my cycle computer I rode 11.4 miles.  My GPS says 10 miles... the usual loss of twists and turns.  It took me 2 hours 15 minutes, 5 minutes more than my previous test run.  I guess I may have stopped to lean on a tree a few extra times.

Despite drinking over 2 liters of water/Gatorade during my pre-ride, ride, and post-ride, I didn't have to pee for about 6 hours.  Crazy.

Once I got home and showered I started to get a killer headache which is still lingering despite taking Excedrin migraine.  It feels like I got hit on both sides of my head with a hammer.   Maybe I didn't eat right?  Maybe I didn't drink enough?  Between joint pain, lower back pain, cramps, and headaches, this sport just doesn't stop kicking my butt.  I hope for a day when all I had to deal with is running out of energy.

UPDATE:  My migraine did not go away like it usually does with Excedrin.  After googling a bit, I found many suggestions that migraines after exercise can be caused by a lack of electrolytes.  Well what the heck, maybe I didn't add enough to my water?  Hyponatremia?  I also read some people believed a lack of protein caused their migraine.  So I ate a bunch of peanuts and drank another Gatorade spiked with electrolyte powder.  Within about 30 minutes my headache faded by about 70%.  Now I also noticed I have hives on my chest.  Somebody shoot me now!  Who knows.

Muni at Dryer Road Park - 2012-06-24

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Moraine State Park

On Sunday, the day after the Fat Tire Challenge I rode with Dave and Isaac of the Butler Wobble at Moraine State Park in Butler, PA.

It's a lot more fun to ride as a group of friends instead of racing.  Speaking of which, I was pretty sore in my quads and lower back, but after warming up during the ride, I forgot all about it.

This park has dedicated mountain bike trails which were very nice.  It offered a great combination of flow, hills, and technical sections.

I accomplished some good climbs and got through some technical sections well.  I'm most excited that I cleared a few small logs with rolling hops.  I normally do a pseudo rolling hop over an obstacle where I get nearly all my weight moving up, but my tire still rolls on it.  But this time my tire didn't touch.  Hopefully I'll push forward and keep making progress on this.

Dave has a great side hopping ability and would hop (aka peck) up inclines when it got real steep.  Plus he side hops well and would get over logs that way.

Muni at Moraine State Park

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fat Tire Challenge 2012

I raced the Fat Tire Challenge in Sigel, PA, just like I did last year.  This is the only mountain bike race I've gone to that actually has a unicycle class.

We only had three muni riders attend. Two of the local-ish riders from last year had other obligations and one from Maryland didn't make the journey.

So it was me (24" geared), Dave (29"), and Connor (24").

The photos always seem to be taken on the easy road sections.

Last year the muni group rode about 6 or 7 miles, about half of the mountain bike course.  This year, about an hour before racing, we decided to extend the course to over 10 miles.  The shorter course is hard enough, but making it longer seemed like a good way to get the most out of the long trip I made.

This year had a time trial start.  This meant that riders didn't start together but staggered every 10 seconds.  The race was against the clock more than other riders.

I was especially impressed with Connor at the beginning of the race.  He started ahead of me with about a 20 second start.  It starts up a dirt road hill and I don't think I cut much distance between us until we headed down the other side.  At that point my geared hub had an advantage over his single-speed.  I caught up to and passed him.  Seconds later we entered the trail and I was back to low gear.  I thought I was pushing fairly hard, but in a few minutes I UPD'ed and Connor was right there to pass me.  We battled back and forth for maybe 10 minutes before I eventually passed him and gained more ground.  I had some time to watch him ride and he's definitely a strong rider.

The course was painful.  The climbing seems to never end.  There are many rock outcroppings and technical uphills that just aren't worth messing around with during a race, at least at my current level. So I walked more than I'd like.  It's good to have a challenge, but many sections were torturous.

On probably about the last 3 miles, my quads were giving hints of cramping up on any significant hill climb.  Eventually they did.  Just like I felt several weeks back, it appears to be my "Vastis Medialis" muscles.  I had to step off but that only seemed to make it worse.  Walking felt impossible.  Those muscles were spasming like crazy.  It looked like something was alive in there and moving around. So I stood there in pain, drinking some water, wondering how in the world I'd make it to the finish.  It seemed like about 5 minutes passed before I could start moving again, but then before I knew it I was riding fairly normal, though feeling like cramping was imminent.  Sure enough, I had about 5 more of these bouts before finishing the race.  At least 10 minutes of my race time must have been spent just standing there waiting to become functional again.

The standings were fairly predictable given last year's outcome:

 Place   Name     Age   Start      Finish       Time   
    1    Dave     40   38:23.70  2:28:24.50  1:50:00.80 
    2    Buzz     36   38:37.70  2:49:33.00  2:10:55.30 
    3    Connor   15   38:14.90  3:02:09.90  2:23:55.00 
Besides the leg cramping issue, my lower back was fatiguing too.  I'll be doing some serious research about these problems and working to solve them.

Fat Tire Challenge - 2012-06-16

UPDATE 2012-07-15:
I stumbled some images at this blog and this album. Thanks Grace!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #2

Unfortunately I've been sick and didn't ride on the weekend or at tonight's Fat Tire race.

Hopefully I'll be riding again soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2012 Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #1

This evening I raced at the Fat Tire Weeknight Series, just like I did last year.  My family had planned on coming with me, but my son broke a bone in his hand just after school.  So instead, my wonderful wife took the three kids to a variety of medical centers to get things fixed, and let me race.

The course was the same as last year.  The race was delayed quite a while from its expected 6:30 start time because the Junior class races started late and they were still on the course.  That was kind of a drag, having to wait around not knowing when the race was really going to start.

Eventually it got going and I started at the back of the pack.  It begins in a baseball field which kind of sucks for me.  You might think the grass would be easy to ride on but there are so many unseen pits and bumps that it requires constant adjustment.  I think a lot of the course has similar bumpy characteristics, even on the dirt single-track sections, and it caused my lower back to fatigue and bothered me, just like last year.  Plus I repeat it 3 times.  It was also a bit muddy in places.  Going in and out of mud also throws me a bit because of the instant speed changes.  But I pushed through and completed my laps.

I made it all the way up the difficult switchback once, on my third lap.

My gel flask worked well for me.  It did partially unsnap once, but I was quick to reattach it.

According to my GPS it took me 1 hour and 12 minutes.  That's dead on with the final race I did there last year.  It's hard to say if how much I could improve.  We'll see.

I got the usual positive feedback from the crowd: "Go Uni-man!"  A row of kids held their hands out for me to high-five, well... low-five,  as I rode by.  Later the kids were on the trails and one said something like "You're an inspiration to us all!"  Ha ha, they were fun.

There was a family there and the dad said her 10 year old daughter was inspired to try unicycling because she saw me race there last year.  That was cool to hear!  She's still working on it, but I gave her some pointers.

I also saw a mountain biker who took two pictures of me at last year's Fat Tire Festival.  He brought the photos with him to give me.  That was awesome of him and they're great pictures too.  I've posted them on my original 2011 Fat Tire Festival blog post.  Thanks!

It was a good time.

Fat Tire Weeknight Series Race #1 - 2012-06-06

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Flat

Tomorrow is the start of the Park Ave Weeknight Series races and I plan to attend and ride muni.

So this evening I decided to tighten my cranks and make sure my uni is good to go.  As soon as I took it off the hook in the garage, I noticed the tire was flat.  Crap.  I figured it was a pin-hole leak caused by some thorn or nail I must have run over.

I took my wheel off and removed my tire.  I still haven't gotten around to posting about the weight saving changes I made to my uni over the winter, but here's a sneak preview.  I'm using a lightweight tube made by Schwalbe.  It's lightweight because it's thinner, and maybe a less durable rubber.  When I removed the leaking tube from my tire I found it looking all worn.

Worn Tube
I inflated it outside the tire a bit but didn't see, hear, or feel any obvious leak.  I'm assuming there are some tiny holes within the worn areas, but for now it's not important to me.

I had a second Schwalbe tube so I installed that.  It was kind of a pain because I screwed up a bit.  I put the wheel on backwards first.  Duh, right?  Somehow it can be tricky when the uni is upside down.  Once I switched it to be correct, I noticed an obvious foolproof way to get it right every time.  My cycle computer sensor and magnet are only on one side.

One other problem I had has been haunting me for a while.  For some reason the wheel sits in the frame a bit cockeyed.  It's slight, but it can be seen when looking at the distance between each brake pad and the rim wall.  There's no adjustment for the rim position in the frame.  The hub bearings just sit in bearing holders that get tightened down. It could be caused from minor manufacturing variations in the frame, bearing holders, bearings, the wheel build, or an accumulation from all of these.  I did notice that with the wheel in backward, it centered itself very well, but I can't ride my geared hub that way.

In the past I've just tried to put pressure on the rim while I tightened it it an attempt to take advantage of any play available.  It helped a touch. But this time a cut a super thin piece of flat rubber to shim one bearing holder, so the bearing in the side sat the tiniest but higher.  This worked well.

I rode my reassembled uni once around the block.  It seems to be running fine.  I'll check my tire tomorrow morning and hopefully it will be holding air.
I'm a little nervous heading into a race tomorrow with these changes, but it will likely be fine.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rogue Wheelbarrowing at Whiting

This evening I headed to Whiting with my daughter, Sydney, to do a little rogue trail work.  On Saturday I was there for the Friends of Webster Trails work day and saw a few more puddles on the Blue trail.

With more rain since then, I figured now is the time to fill these in.  Spots that hold water are easiest to see when they are actually holding water.  So we shoveled some of the remaining stone from the pile in the parking lot and wheelbarrowed it along the blue trail filling puddles.  We must have dumped about 5 loads.  It still feels wrong to use stone on a dirt trail, but in time I hope it will sink in.

There are still a few puddles remaining on the west side of the blue, because I ran out of steam by the time I got to those.

We walked further into the Yellow trail and I pointed out the big hill I recently conquered. Syd was surprised that I can ride my muni down it, and commented about all the roots and the difficulty of walking.  On the way up she said her legs were hurting and wondered if my legs hurt when I ride it.

On our hike back to the parking lot we cut some encroaching vegetation from the trail sides.  I need to buy a new tool for this.  We used hand pruners.  They require us to trace back individual stalks and make a focused cut.  Something like a hedge trimmer would probably be quicker.

It was a nice was to spend some time with Syd out on the trails.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Habitat Trail Work

This morning I worked at Whiting with the Friends of Webster Trails.  There were about a dozen of us.

We didn't work on the trails themselves, but on some of the surroundings.  Some people in the group are more focused on removing invasive species and maintaining habitats.

We worked on removing brush from "Clover Hill". There is currently no clover on clover hill, but instead a bunch of tall weeds and wild thorny brush.  We cut all these down and removed them.  I guess the hope is to restore this hill as a meadow.  The clover that was once there was seeded by a hunter to attract deer.  I'm not sure if the goal will be to get clover back, but it's closer to a meadow than when we showed up this morning.

After that work was done we moved to another area where Autumn Olive is growing.  It's a small tree, probably about 4 meters high and branches out from it's base.  It's an invasive species from Asia that doesn't belong, so we cut them down with pruning saws.

I don't get too excited about doing this type of work.  The actual trails is where it's at for me, but I was signed up to lead this work day, and I don't mind helping out when I can.