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.