Thursday, August 20, 2015

Robi Comes To Town 5

There's fungus among us
Another month, another ride with Robi.  He got his tattooing done yesterday and we rode this morning.  I was kind of hoping that Jim would be available again and we could all ride the Hardcore 24 race course at Ontario County Park.  I thought maybe we'd all enjoy it and possibly want to do that race next year.  This year's race happened several weeks ago.  Unfortunately Jim couldn't make it so that option was slightly less appealing.
I also considered trying the new Black trail.

Robi and I decided to give the Black trail a try.  Early into our ride we both felt far from 100%.  As we rode more we found the trail was a big contributing factor.  I've mentioned before that the trail surface at OCP is riddled with rocks so it's constant work.  The Black trail was a workout too.  We walked more sections that either of us typically do.  Some days are like that.

It was good to get out riding again and good to hang with Robi.

.GPS track

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Robi Comes To Town 4

It's that time of the month again!  Robi came to town yesterday for more tattoo work.  This time he drove in early, spent the whole day getting tattooed and stayed overnight.

This morning we went to Dryer and rode muni.  Robi's good like that.  Just because he was tortured with needles the previous day doesn't mean he can't ride.

Jim met us there.  Diane couldn't make it this time.

It was a great ride.  We rode some of the good trails I usually ride there and a number of harder trails I had never ventured down, like Black Widow and The Den.  They're mostly rideable but with a number of more difficult drops or log obstacles.  Jim managed most of the obstacles.  Robi was surprisingly strong despite being tortured the previous day.  I did well too, even though I hadn't ridden since the Empire State Muni Fest... and entire month ago.  Yikes.  Life has been busy.

Here's a good picture for a caption contest:

Here's some of Robi's tat coming together:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Railing and Welding

With Kessa learning to ride I wanted to rebuild the railing I once had in the driveway for Sydney.  That one rotted and is long gone.  I decided to use my skinny as the base, some old trampoline poles for supports, and some spare railing mounts that were once sent to me in error.  The railing is number two of two that was once in the basement stairway.  I might cut down the poles at some point.

One of the unicycles Kyle has been riding on occasion is the Barracuda I bought on craigslist over 3 years ago.  Unfortunately one of the cranks was loose tonight.  I went to tighten it and found the bolt spun.  The threads on the spindle were stripped.  I think I recall tightening this bolt years ago and feeling it start to give just at the end.  So now with no way to tighten the crank and with it being a cheap uni, I decided to fix it by welding the crank to the spindle.  I did both while I was at it.  With no training, I've "successfully" welded about 4 or 5 items at this point using an arc welder.  My welds are embarrassing, but I expect that will hold for driveway riding.  If not, I'll hit then with the welder again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 Unicycling Anniversary

Amy and the kids surprised me with a unicycling anniversary cake!  I had forgotten!

Before cake we had a unicycle jam session in the driveway.  Syd's been favoring my 20" trials.  Kyle's been riding more and is more stable.  He free-mounts sometimes too.  Unfortunately he's so tall he wants my seat post raised too high for me, so it makes sharing difficult.  Perhaps he needs a uni of his own!  He does ride some of the cheaper 20" unicycles I have, but the seats aren't nice.

Kessa's tiny unicycle that I got her for Christmas 2013 is actually too small.  It's too bad the seat height isn't adjustable.  It was a cute uni and very well built, but not at all versatile.  It's good if you can actually get a 3 year old to ride it, but that's not realistic.  I didn't expect her to, but I thought it would still be rideable at age 5.  A few weeks ago at the Empire State Muni Fest, Robi let us borrow his small uni, which is actually a 12" wheel like Kessa's.  I swapped the cranks with Kessa's, which were slightly shorter, and shortened a seat post from Syd's first 16" uni.  This made it an acceptable size for Kessa.  I too can ride it! lol  I think I had more fun on it than Kessa so far.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Empire State Muni Festival 2015

My family and I spent this weekend at the Empire State Muni Festival in Austerlitz, New York.  It was basically a repeat of last year's event.  That's a good thing because it's a lot of fun.

The drive there on Friday afternoon was memorable as we passed through a number of thunderstorms. We eventually got ahead of the torrential rains and lightning and arrived at Fox Hill campground in time to set up before the rain came.  Thankfully the weekend was dry.

I rode with the group at Beebe Hill State Forest on both Saturday and Sunday. The trails had occasional mud, but were generally in fine condition.  We rode many of the same trails as last year and new one.  All were a lot of fun.  There are so many challenging, but optional, features.  I wish I could ride there regularly.

It was great to be with an awesome group of muni riders.

The peaceful view from the fire tower:

GPS ride 1
GPS ride 2
GPS ride 3
GPS ride 4

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Robi Comes To Town 3

Robi came to visit for his third tattoo appointment.  We rode today at Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area (apparently it's a recreation area, not a park).  Robi knew that two other Albany area riders were going to be somewhat near Rochester and so we added Jim and Diane to our group!  I had met Jim and Diane at last year's Empire State Muni Festival.

HHS is where the Suicide Six mountain bike race is held.  It's tough with plenty of climbing and technical trails.  Robi and I had talked about riding some tougher trails so this was good.  Jim is an amazing rider so he was game.  Diane planned to ride what she could and at her own pace.

It was a gorgeous day with thunderstorms predicted in the afternoon, so we met up at 9 am.  The trails were in great condition, damp and only muddy in spots.  These trails are serious work!  I hadn't ridden in weeks thanks mostly to being super busy at work.  My cardio had weakened and I wasn't really well rested.  I felt a bit of vertigo at times when I stopped to catch my breath.  I'm pretty sure I was just tired... but not two tir.. oh never mind. :P

The trails are a lot of work but a lot of fun too.  After a respectable distance into the trail Diane decided to ride at her own pace.  The rest of us broke away and followed the nicely marked S6 trail markers.  I has never seen those before so I assume they were put up since I last rode there over a year ago.   Some of the trail was new to me too so  I guess the race course has been extended. I rode my fat tire 26 and was happy I did.  The fat soft tire gave me some much appreciated suspension!

After riding the 3 mile south-west portion, Robi, Jim, and I headed back to the parking loop to reconnect with Diane, assuming she probably headed back.  We weren't able to find her, so we decided to backtrack the trail we just rode.  Riding it the other way is always different.  It wasn't until we were back at the parking lot that we found her again.   After a break we all agreed to be insane and ride some more.  We continued the ride up the east side which has some good fun flowy parts, followed by more challenging climbs and technical.

At the end of the trail we followed the crushed rock road back to our cars.  On the last hill climb my quads cramped like they have in the past.  Even though I drink a lot of water during the ride, maybe I'm not hydrating enough in the day or so before riding.

This year's Empire State Muni Festival is happening this weekend and I believe Jim, Diane, and Robi are going, so I'll likely ride with them again very soon!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tryon Stop Me

Surprise!  I rode again at Tryon today!  It was a good ride though I had a mix of good and not-so-good moments, which kind of made it an overall ok ride.  It was nice and cool out.  We've got some hot days coming up, so it was good to get out before those.

I rode out to the dump trail again.  Somewhere in there I saw a pack of mountain bikers regrouping and just starting to ride again.  At that point I caught up to the their last guy, though none of them saw me.  It took all of about 15 seconds for them to disappear.  I admit I tried to keep up, but it's not much use.  Later I saw them in the middle of Tryon in the rock ring.  They just ride through like it's nothing. Stinkin' two-wheelers coasting their way through life.  lol

Next ride I'll probably hit some other trails.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Addicted to Tryon?

Last year I rode at Tryon twice.  Same for 2013.  In 2012, three rides.  I'm surprised these numbers are so low, but I guess the difficulty of Tryon was always a turn off.  I rode there again this afternoon.  This is my fourth Tryon ride already this year, and all within 12 days.  I feel like the difficulty but do-ability (it should be a word) is what's making it so addictive.  Our relatively dry and, ideal temperatures, at least lately, help too.

I rarely avoid hill climbs and on this ride I also tried to avoid taking the path of least resistance in terms of trail surface.  I sometimes navigate around rocks and roots when that option exists, but this time I tried to at least hit the intermediate options.  It adds to the fun.  I generally felt like I rode better and stronger than last time.  Riding every other day might be a good thing.

At the southern point where the Browncroft apartments are, I usually turn around and head back.  But I know of the "dump trail" that starts right there on the town/county access road.  I had ridden it in the past but I always felt a bit lost in there.  Today I rode it, found my way just fine, and had an absolute blast!  I was able to find a nice route that reconnected me back to the trail I know.  It's a real nice loop with a good number of log-overs, rocky outcrops, and hills to keep my interest.

At the end of my ride I sessioned a steep hill climb just off the parking lot.  It was pretty close to my limit and I was proud to make the climb on my fourth try, especially after a long hard ride.

I enjoyed it so much, I'm pretty sure I'll be back for my next ride.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tryon, Yet Again!

I guess I'm just really diggin' Tryon!  I went there this afternoon because the weather was so nice.  Cool, low-humidity spring days are the best.

I hit the rocky trail I mentioned last time, and also the "rock ring" which is more technical.  I thought I did quite well on both.

At one point I passed an older woman and her dog, and then over the course of 10 minutes I'd ride until I was spent, then just when I was about to go again I'd look back and see her approaching slowly through the trees.  It was like something out of a horror movie!   It also made me feel like I was no faster than an old lady, which I guess is almost true. lol  In actuality I was taking the more winding technical trails and she was on the easier trail that intersected.

I am liking Tryon so much this year, I might just ride it again!  It's not far from home, it's technical, has hill climbs, and works well with my current 24" set up.  Plus I like how it has many parallel options with different terrain that lead to the same place, so I can keep mixing up my ride.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cool Ride at Tryon

I had hoped to ride during the week but I felt too tired.  Finally I caught up on sleep and rode today.
I hit Tryon again.  This time the temperature was cooler, in the mid-60's I think, and humidity must have been low.  I even felt a cool breeze at times.

I rode just about the same route as I did on my last ride.  I was hoping to see a significant increase in my performance, specifically on hill climbs, but really I did about the same. Tryon is just a tough place.  Still, I might try yet again to do better.  Several of my failed hill climbs were caused by unlucky UPDs, though I probably would have ran out of steam momentarily anyway.

One notable moment in my ride was when I was moving fairly quickly down and around a left turn.  There's a fork in the trail and I normal go left because it's the main trail.  To the right is an unknown trail that gets closer to Irondequoit Creek. Long ago I'd tried several of these off-shoot trails and was disappointed to find they were short hiking trails that led to a fishing spot and were sometimes dead ends.  As I sped toward my normal trail to the left a couple and their dog appeared and were caught a bit off-guard but started to move over.  But I instantly made the decision to avoid them and headed right.  It was a much more technical trail embedded with jagged rocks along its entirety.  I impressed myself with the distance I was able to go without a UPD, though I did end up with a few.  Those hikers had a good view of the first portion and I knew it, and sometimes that helps me give a little extra to put on the best show I can.  I'd rather have observers leave thinking "Wow, that's impressive" versus "See, what kind of idiot thinks he can ride a unicycle here."  I always wonder what observers are thinking, because before learning about muni I would have been blown away.  Anyway I'll be adding that trail to me regular mix.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hot Ride at Tryon

For my weekend ride I skipped Saturday because we had an unseasonable high of 90°F.  Today I rode in the morning to beat the heat the best I could, but it was still in the 70's. I guess our 5 days of spring are over.  My 24" ungeared muni was ready to go, and since it's kind of too slow for Webster and Whiting, and I was just at Bay Park West, and I didn't want to drive far, Tryon seemed like a good choice.

The ride was on the hot side, and difficult, as expected for Tryon.  I saw some new-to-me trail reroutes and rock reinforcements.  Trail fairies are awesome!   Otherwise, it was just me pushing through the best I could.  There are very few hill climbs in Tryon that I can make without stopping.  I need to go back sometime and just session some individual climbs.  Usually I'm going for some amount of respectable distance, so when I fail a climb I rest a minute or two, remount and continue.

Not long after I got home I got one of those headaches I've gotten in the past, I guess from being too hot and pushing too hard.  I even took electrolyte pills and drank lots of water on my ride.  Excedrin and a few hours seems to have gotten rid of it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stelber Unicycle

A friend of mine (and of Webster Trails) called me yesterday to say she saw a unicycle thrown to the curb not far from my home.  She didn't really know if it was worthy of picking up.  It wasn't much of an investment in time, so I drove there and found it.

It was a vintage uni made by "Stelber".  I've never heard of it and I'm not really into old unicycles but I took it before the scrap metal guy did.

The tire has no air in it and the wheel turned with a horrifying metal grinding squeak.  Being an old unicycle, it has lollipop style bearings.  I dismantled it enough to access the bearings.  I squirted some of my Schlumpf grease into them.   Using grease intended for a state of the art nearly $1500 unicycle hub on poorly engineered bearings of this cheap ancient unicycle kind of blew my mind.  I worked the grease into the bearings and reassembled.  The wheel turned about as good as I'd expect.  The tube still held air, so it was ready to ride.

It's basically built like a toy.  I think most old unicycles kind of were compared to today's standards.  Perhaps this one was especially because it has a thin one-piece crank that you'd only see on modern tricycle for a 3 year old.  How anyone could think that would be strong enough for even a 10 year old to put weight on is beyond me.  "They don't make 'em like they used to."  Good thing!  Even today's cheap unicycles are way stronger than this crap, but comparing this unicycle to something like a modern Kris Holm muni... again, mind blowing.   We've come a long way.

And then there's the saddle.  Sydney's first comment was, "Oh my god that seat looks like it would hurt!"  And since I thought of this as a toy, I asked Sydney to ride it in case my weight crushed it.  She found it too difficult and complained the seat wiggled too much.  After a few unsuccessful tries I rolled my eyes.  Come on, it can't be that bad.  I confirmed to seat was wobbly because of its poor engineering.  It was just riveted to its base.  But I was sure I could ride it.  Nope, not really.  It was wobbly and one of the cranks was bent in a bit.  I probably could with enough trying, but I didn't bother after a few attempts and only about three rotations.  I feel sorry for anyone trying to learn on such a turd.

I may try to sell it.  I picture it bolted to the wall of an interesting bar or restaurant.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Robi Comes To Town 2

Robi came back to town again for more work on his tat.  This time we rode at Dryer Park in Victor.

It was in the 60's and low humidity and trail conditions were perfect.  We rode about 80% of last year's Fat Tire Festival course, but then broke away from it.  I think we both had the most fun on Owl's Maze.  We were both riding 24" wheels but Robi rides faster and seemed to have endless energy.  After leading for a minute, I let Robi pass.  I kept losing ground and it wasn't long before we were passing by each other in opposite directions.  Owl's Maze is rather awesome like that.  The trail winds so much and keeps passing by a place you were just at a minute ago.  It seems never ending.  Looking back at my GPS, it took about 8 minutes to get down.  It must have taken some real dedication to build that trail and to make it fill in the all the space that it does.

Robi had asked what size muni to bring and with Dryer in mind I thought I'd ride my 24".  My 26" fat tire wouldn't be ideal because of the fat tire, and I think my 29er is too big for me on tight hilly trails.  Robi brought his 24" but in hindsight thought his 26" would have been better.  I too thought a bigger wheel would have been smoother.  I sure could use a non-fat tire 26" muni, don't you think?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Another Ride

I rode at Bay Park West today.  It's the same old story a great cardio workout.

I noticed some nice trail improvements and some signs that asked people not to use the trails when they're wet.  At this point they are 100% perfectly dry and in great condition.

I saw a new trail, which I was aware was being worked on, but it hasn't been opened yet and I didn't have the energy to check it out.

I believe it was about 65°F out, but it felt hotter.  I wish it would be in the 50s every time I ride.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Canal Ride - 30 miles

Far point - Chili Ave
I'm thinking about riding the Prattsburgh Gravel Classic in a few weekends.  It's a bike race on gravel and dirt roads in Prattsburgh, NY.  I thought it might be enjoyable to cruise at such an event on my geared 29er.  The course has a 20 mile and 30 mile option.  If I'm going to do it, I should be doing at least some training.

Today I rode the Erie Canal path starting at Perinton Park and heading west.  Probably about 1/4 of it is gravel and the rest is paved.  My goal was to do 30 miles, 15 miles out and 15 back.  I did it, but just barely.  Woot.. my longest distance ever.  On the way out my seat was bothering me a lot but then I seemed to get used to it and all was well.  On the way back it got progressively worse.  It wasn't a chaffing problem, just a pressure problem.  It could be an early season problem or a seat problem.  This is the unicycle I bought from Steveyo several years ago and is the oldest of my unicycles.  Maybe the seat padding isn't as good or is worn out more.  The last three miles were rather agonizing.  Thankfully being saddle sore is only a problem when sitting on a saddle, which I don't need to do in my daily routine.  My legs were getting quite fatigued toward the end too. 
It will probably be a few days before I'd like to ride a uni again.

I had one tumble toward the far point.  It was a paved section and nothing tripped me up, but I had just put my energy gel flask in its holster and I guess I lost concentration.  I fell forward and rolled, but was able to angle toward the grass on the right side.  Apparently my left hand planted on the asphalt because it had a touch of road rash, but otherwise I was uninjured.  My speed was likely about 10 mph.  I'm not a big fan of speed on the uni.  I especially get uncomfortable when I'm heading down even a slight incline if I'm moving at more than about 12 mph.   At one point during my ride I lost control going that fast on a decline but dismounted and ran it out.  I even managed to reach back, grab my muni and pull it around, but it was still a bit scary.  I think on a decline that is trying to increase my speed too quickly requires a higher skill of applying back pressure while still pedaling forward.  On the trail I usually just feather my brake, but today I has none.

Otherwise my ride wasn't very eventful.  There were a  good number of bikers and walkers to negotiate, but they we generally spaced out well.  I once mentioned this before, but I swear canal path users are less friendly than trail users.  So few people say hi or smile.  Maybe people encounter too many others to keep up their friendliness.  Seeing people on trails is a bit more rare.  I don't know.

The Prattsburgh race description say there will be some serious climbing.  The canal path doesn't have any serious hills.  For now I'm undecided about racing.  I'm too fatigued to really think about it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Silky BIGBOY 2000 Returns

Resting on a bridge
I rode today at Webster Park and Whiting today.  It feels like my first real muni ride of the season because there was no snow.  I rode my fat tire muni because I thought the trails still might be muddy, but they weren't.  I expected worse for this time of year.

I noticed how the fat tire tended to lead me just a bit more than I like.  It tends to pull a bit to the low side of a trail.  Until we get a lot of rain, I'll probably ride one of my regular munis next ride.

I brought my saw along, expecting the trails to need some spring cleanup and it proved useful.  I was able to clear the five downed trees I encountered.  One of them was big like a utility pole but the Silky handled it like a big boy... 2000.  Overall it worked great, just like last fall.  I noticed a few other recently cut trees, so at least one other person is helping out.

Video or it didn't happen:

Dustin had ridden recently at Whiting and mentioned a slight trail reroute in the Orange trail.  That was motivation for me to check it out after riding in Webster Park.  It's on the east side and is a short reroute that shifts the trail to the west further away from private property.  It has some ups and downs and is a great addition but needs some time to smooth out before it's really nice.

When I was just into the field area of the Orange trail I heard an air horn and yelling.  Some boys were on the other side of the field following the trail the same direction as me.  Although they were at a distance it appeared they were being goofy and trying to get my attention, perhaps trying to distract me with the hope of seeing a dismount.  That's not unheard of in the uni world.  I raised my arm up to acknowledge and heard their horn again a moment later. By the time I rounded the field they were into the woods sitting at a bench.  I said "hi" as I passed and at least one of them replied with a "hi".  They appeared to be about 12 or 13 years old.  As I pedaled away I heard one of them say "bye -bye" in a high-pitched baby-like voice in an unmistakeably condescending, mocking way.  I ignored it but then heard it a few more times at a volume obviously intended to for me to hear.  I dismounted and walked back.

There's are several things that really bother me about these kids mocking:
1.  Sometimes kids in groups act like assholes but would actually been really cool if they were alone.  They're showing off for their friends and using them as protection.
2.  At a distance people feel protected.  Hence the air horn at a distance and comments as I'm riding away, but just a "hi" when I rode right by.

When I approached them they were quiet and looked nervous.  I said something like, "Was there something you wanted to say to me?"   They just stared.  I said, "You need to learn to show some respect".  (By which I meant, to be respectful to people in general, not just to me or some guy on a unicycle.  Though I'm not sure how it came off.)  I followed with, "Who has the mouth?"  They continued to look nervous and flustered and within a few seconds two of them pointed to the one on the end and said "Jack".   hahaha
I think I said something like, "I thought so", which really didn't make much sense.  I turned around and rode off.  I didn't hear anything else from them, so that felt good.

Hopefully two of them realized that hanging out with "Jack" is gonna eventually lead to an ass beating, and Jack learned his "friends" will throw him under the bus in a second.  Nah... they probably just mocked me for the next hour after I rode away.

My one regret is not getting a picture of them for my blog.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More like "Not-a-Single-Unicycle-Palooza"

Today in Montgomery, New York hundreds of single speed mountain bikes are racing through a 32 mile course and having a blast!  Today is the Singlespeed-a-Palooza race.  Unfortunately, not a single unicycle is there.

Last year we had a great turn-out of 11 muni riders.  This year, well before the registration time, I poked and prodded the unicycle community on the unicycle forums, Facebook, and email, but no one showed interested in attending.  I'm not sure why.  Some people had big events on the same weekend or an adjacent weekend.  Others probably just still recall the long drive they made and the difficulty of the race.

This year the course for the mountain bikers is extended to 32 miles and the unicycles would have done a shorter 24 miles.  This would have allowed the bikes and unicycles to start and finish around the same time.

I'm a bit sad not to be a part of it.  But then, preparing for this early season race is so hard.  Everything has been snow, ice, and mud out there, and you really need some good saddle time to be ready.  It's also a super busy time of year for me, with many family birthdays and Easter eating up my weekends.  I was sick for a good solid week in March and unfortunately I'm sick again!  So I would not be happy racing today.

At least the prospect of attending SSAP got me psyched up to work-out during the winter..  I've continued working out though probably not as much as I could.  Currently I'm just doing the Stronglifts 5x5 every few days though as I reach my limits on that I'll probably start mixing more cardio in.  Really I'm hoping to shake this cold so I can get out and ride!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

More like "Slowjack"

Today was a warm day with a high around 70°F so I left work a few hours early to ride.  I know the trails are still covered in snow and ice so I figured I'd ride the Hojack and keep it simple. Knowing the Hojack has been a mess in the spring of previous years, I've been wanting to try my fat tire on it.

Riding the road to get there was pretty darn boring with the 26" tire.   I longed for my geared 29er.  When I got to the Hojack I still wanted it because it was clear and easy.  Though really I knew this first section melts sooner and at least some snow and mud were yet to come.  Boy was I right.   It was a mental challenge to keep pushing to the end of the Hojack because the going was tough and I was only averaging about 5 mph.   More like "Slowjack"!

I took a bunch of pictures to show the variety of trail conditions I encountered:

Notice how it starts out nice...

but gets quite snow covered.

One section had inches of water for as far as I could see.

More snow.

Approaching the end...

I took this picture in an attempt to show my level of excitement for making the return trip.

Riding on the far left in the leaves was easier
On my way back I felt like I was getting better at riding through the snow and I found riding way off the trail was much firmer. Sometimes I could see my previous tire mark and avoid areas that I had previous sunk into.

I was getting quite fatigued by the end.  It was 13 miles much felt more like 20 miles of effort.  I expect to be sore.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Save The Tread?

I've been seeing this "Save the Tread" banner on Facebook posted by local trail groups, bike shops, and mountain bikers:

At first it sounds like a good idea.  The trails are wet and muddy in the springtime and hiking and biking them makes a mess.  So I should avoid the trails for the next month, right?  It's not quite that simple.

Good trails are constructed in a way to shed water.  Other trails are created without such thought and it's left to chance whether they will have chronic mud problems.

In the spring thaw, even the good trails will have slow-draining frozen earth and ice dams that prevent them from drying quickly.  Given a few warm weeks, these good trails will generally dry up.  Using them before they're dry would be a shame because any extra trail work it causes could have been avoided with just a little more patience.  So staying off these good trails during the spring thaw and after heavy rain makes sense.

On the other hand, some trails are chronically muddy.  Usually the problem is the trail has no elevation change or camber to allow water to shed and often have loamy soil that holds water.  With no solutions to the water problem and nobody actually trying to fix them, these trails are chronically muddy.  If you had patience to wait for a month or so, these muddy sections might dry out, though I've seen some sections stay muddy for the entire spring and people are not going to wait a month for the trails to dry out.  Plus the areas closest to the trail-head are more likely to get some maintenance and be dry, which invites trail users to use them.  When trail users move further in, they encounter muddy sections but push forward, walking through or around the edges, hoping for better conditions ahead, but leaving boot-prints and ruts.  So staying off these poorly constructed trails is futile because too many people don't.  You can't hold back the masses for the entire spring.  So should those of us who really think about the maintenance of the trails stay off?  I don't think so.  Nobody can tell the difference between a wrecked trail that's had 900 users pass by versus 1000, and we want to go out and play in the mud too!

Look at the poster again:

I feel rather certain that muddy area is chronically muddy.  There is no elevation change, no camber, and, although I'm no botanist, the vegetation in the muddy picture just looks like the type that I see local chronically muddy areas.  It's practically a rice paddy.  With spring rains, that mud pit is gonna be big, fat and happy for a long time.  The smaller inset image is a completely different trail.  It's beautiful because it was built to stay dry.  It probably only takes a few hours to completely dry after a rain

So if you're going to use the bad trails in the spring, it's important to know which trails are the good ones and which are the bad ones.  It's easiest to classify entire parks, through even parks with mostly good trails sometimes have a few trails or sections that tend to stay wet longer.

In my opinion, the well constructed, well maintained parks in the area are:  Bay Park West, Tryon, Dryer, and Ontario County Park.  Let these dry out before using them.

Pretty much all trails in Webster are chronically muddy including Whiting, Webster Park, the Hojack, Chiyoda, and the Big Field.  I'd suggest allowing Whiting to dry out, but nobody does and it gets wrecked every spring anyway, so go have fun.

After they're destroyed, one thing that does help these trails heal is using them heavily when they are getting close to dry.  The cratered dirt is easily flattened when it's still soft.  If it dries before people flatten it the trails stay riddled with bumps for most of the summer.

So there you go.  Don't feel bad about riding chronically muddy trails!  If you don't, someone else will!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Robi Comes To Town

Robi visited from Albany and he, Dustin and I rode at Webster Park.  We're not quite thawed out around town yet and, as expected, the trails are significantly worse.  Trampled snow in the shade takes longer to melt.  Every part of the trail was cratered with frozen boot-prints and many parts that got sun were solid ice.  It reminded us of a similar ride we did over a year ago when Robi visited... bad conditions.  Next time he visits we better have dry trails!

The rough conditions made riding at least twice the normal effort.  Robi and I both have fat tire munis that helped a lot.  Dustin made the best of it with his standard muni tire and was never too far behind.  Dismounts and hiking were frequent for us all.  Sometimes we'd hit a section of dirt or smoother harder snow and we got a glimpse of the good old days when trails were smooth and dry.
Robi's right foot misses his pedal
 The primary reason Robi was in town was to get the start of some tattoo work done.  Check it out!  Muni themed and quite awesome!  There's a local tattoo artist who is worth the drive.  The plan is for him to come back for more tattoo work, so hopefully we'll ride again soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mac5 Winter Fat Tire Festival

Today I raced at the Mac5 Winter Fat Tire Festival in the Open race.  After my test lap yesterday, I could only hope the trail would be more solid and more rideable.

The Open race was the second race, so I showed up after the first race was just about over.  I was pleasantly surprised by a painting in the snow of a guy on a uni.  Ha ha... hey that's me!  How much more welcoming could they be?  It looks like he's wheel-walking. Nice!

The word around the starting line was that the trail was getting rather chewed up as more riders rode it.  Ugh.  My hope was that the fat tires of the first race would have solidified it more, but the opposite had happened.  Oh well.  I was paid and ready to go, so it was what it was.

Somehow I misplaced my sunglasses before the start but decided I could ride without them and the race was soon underway.  Like in my test ride, some parts were rideable and some were nearly impossible.  All of it was difficult.  When I did get a good section of riding, it wouldn't be long before some deep soft snow or a rut the width of my tire would trip me up.  The extra effort to get through the snow meant my heart rate was near its limit and when the going got even tougher, the odds of riding were against me.  I walked a lot.  Maybe even as much as 50%?  I'd feel bad about that but at any point during the race I could look around and see many bikers walking too.  Mounting was harder too.

The snow was too soft in places, too rutted, and riders walking on the trail just compounded the problem.  The trail grooming for this kind of race hasn't quite been perfected yet.  Still, it was certainly a good time and I appreciate the huge effort that Trail Methods and others put into it!

Thanks to and for taking photos during the race.

I was glad to have some good riding near the start and finish so people could see I wasn't just pushing my uni around the course.  Unfortunately since the trail was actually worse than yesterday, my lap time was slower and I could only fit two in.  But I got out, got a good workout, saw some mountain bike friends, impressed some people, and got a consolation prize of a balaclava which I'm sure I'll use.  My missing sunglasses never turned up.  Bummer.

I think this kind of winter race is a lot of work for organizers and riders, but it's a lot of fun too.  If the trail grooming could be improved we'd add even more to the fun.
Thanks again to Trail Methods and Mac5 Bikes for putting this together.