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.