Tempermental Retrospect

Sunday was a ride on Tzouhalem. Shane, Darryll, James and myself tackled the mountain in Duncan.

I took my hardtail for a little climbing fun. I felt really good on the long arduous climb up to the top, and never once really felt the need to stop. I felt like I could climb forever, and that is certainly is something I have not felt in a long time. It reminded me of days gone by where I used to love to climb. Climbs were a challenge, and often if I didn’t make a climb, I would turn around, head to the bottom, and give it another go. No such luck on Sunday, but I actually did enjoy the climb (maybe not at the time, but definitely in retrospect).

Once there we were treated to some spectacular views, and some stiff breezes. After a rest and a refuel, we started the descent which was loads of fun. Some steep loose sections, some fast twisty sections, a couple small jumps. Lots of big smiles.

We came to a couple sections of stunts. I tried a couple on my trusty hardtail, but with me in XC mode, and riding clipless, I was too timid to try some things. I am a chicken shit to ride stuff now when I am attached to my bike. I like them for climbing, and general XC riding, but when the trail turns downward, or the stunts start appearing, I begin to wish for my flats. My how times change.

I went over one jump, and my left foot came unclipped. I landed awkwardly, my chest slamming into my saddle, and my nuts getting raked over the tire. I grabbed fistfulls of brake, and stopped as quickly as I could. After a few minutes rest we continued descending.

My bike was being a little tempermental, and kept dropping the chain from the big ring to the granny. This caused my grief in more than one situation where I stomped on the pedals to ascend a small hill, only to find no resistance on the pedals. Only once did this bite me as pedals swung around unimpeded until it connected with my shin. Ouch!

The rest of the ride was uneventful, but fun. We were on the hill for a little over three hours. Fun ride, and I am definitely glad I brought the hardtail. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I might DH-ify it a bit by putting on some flat pedals and taking my shin pads, just so I would feel a little more comfortable descending steeps and riding skinny logs. All in all though, the bike performed pretty well, and I am feeling in pretty good shape. Bring on the plane trip! Woohoo!

Click here, or the first pictures to see more pictures from the day.

South Ridge Seals

Sean on LogGreat weekend for riding. Saturday I was feeling really blah. I had a ton of things I wanted to get done on the weekend, but the problem was on Saturday I didn’t feel like doing anything. I forced myself to jump on my road bike and go for a spin. It felt pretty good actually. Riding usually perks me up, and lifts my spirits. I got out about 10 km’s, and realized that my rear tire was pretty low. Hmm, better turn around now and keep an eye on it. I got home just fine, but I was concerned.

Sunday Sean and I hit up the dump for a fun ride. Up and down, all over the park. We both rode pretty well. The picture above is Sean riding over a large log pile on South Ridge Trail. A couple hours later we emerged from the trails. Very fun ride. I was glad I got out.

Unfortunately for me the seals in my Boxxer are acting up. It is time to replace them. Good thing I get it done now since in a couple weeks Sean, Shane, James, and myself are heading out for a road trip. Bad thing is I don’t have the cash for it. Grrr.

Flawless Barrier

me dropping 4I decided a while ago that I needed to buy an armour jacket. I have done more shuttle riding lately, a few DH races, and this summer I plan to hit a few really good ski hills. It was time.

I bought the armour on Saturday, and Sunday was my first ride with it. The destination was Whistler. Click the picture to see the gallery from the trip, or read on.

My girlfriend was going to Vancouver to go see a friends newborn, so I thought that maybe I would come as well, do some bike shopping, then maybe sneak in a ride while I was there.

The trip got complicated really quickly when I found out that JimC and K’endo were heading to Whistler to hit the lifts. After my girlfriend decided to come with me, and just hang out in Whistler for the day, I started to get a little psyched. Riding in Whistler is not like anything else I have experienced. They have a wide range of trails to choose from, all mostly downhill, and all really fun.

When the group assembled in Whistler it was myself, JimC, K’endo, Alan, and Dave. We also ran into a bunch of other MTBR’ers, but we didn’t end up riding with them.

My day got off to an excellent start. Our first trail led to the jump park. There were 4 table tops of increasing size for people to learn on. Just past them was four drop platforms, again, in varying sizes. I practiced the 2nd table top a few times, but that wasn’t really my thing. I then went to the drops. I started with the 2nd one, then did the third one in quick succession. The fourth one was quite a bit bigger than the third. I wanted to do it. I knew I could do it. I had new armour on. All of this added up to a drive to do the fourth drop. I did the third one again, hiked back up, and lined up for the fourth.

I pedalled into it quickly. I knew that the slightest hesitation would make me walk away from this drop. I was approaching it quickly, and the thing that stuck out was that you couldn’t see that landing zone. My fingers moved to the brake lever. I was starting to chicken out! I moved my fingers back to the bar in a determined move to nail this drop. I was up on the platform, then in the air. I sailed for what felt like a long time, and then came the touchdown. Perfect! The transition was absolutely flawless. I had to do the drop again. I went up and did it a second time, and that one also felt great. I was all jazzed up over this. I knew this was the beginnings of a good day.

You see, one of my biggest problems in mountain biking is that I don’t give myself enough credit for the skills I possess. As a result, I have problems committing to a line. I had broken the barrier, and it felt great.

The rest of the day was a series of runs whose names escape me. I know that K’endo and I hit Dirt Merchant, Joy Ride, Schleyer, A line, and others.

On Schleyer that was a drop that reminded me of the 4th drop I had nailed earlier that morning. I did that one a couple times.

In all I have no idea how many runs I did. They were all great. My riding was awesome, the new gear felt great and certainly didn’t slow me down at all. My bike held up until the last run. It truly is a thrill and a half to ride trails that you see feature in MTB movies, and magazines.

Interesting Solo Ride

zipped spokeLast night I went for a ride. It was the most interesting ride I have had in a long time. Originally I was going to ride with Shane, but his plans involved heading to the Juan de Fuca BMX track, and I really needed to get Yoshi some exercise. What to do? I bailed on Shane, and decided to go to the dump. Problem was that it was starting to rain, and with me riding solo, I had no real push to get me out there.

That is when it dawned on me. What has happened here? I used to always want to get out riding. I remember times when I was riding 4 times a week, and now I am lucky if I hit dirt once a week. I began thinking about how my my drive to ride has slowed a lot. I still have lots of passion for the sport (I almost always enjoy myself when I get out), but my drive is certainly lower. In an effort to improve my physical fitness I recently bought a road bike. This decision was mainly to help get me in shape for off road riding this summer.

But I digress. I was waffling on going riding. I never used to do this. In a fit of disgust at myself I got changed, loaded my truck, and set off for the dump. When I arrived Yoshi was chomping at the bit to get out and run. I reluctantly got my shoes on, stashed my change of clothes, readied my bike, release the hound from his backseat confinement, then took off.

Already I felt good about deciding to get out.

The first trail I took was a tight (really overgrown from Victoria’s last couple weeks of sunshine), twisty, swoopy, and fun. I love this trail. The freshly fallen rain helped make the trail really tacky, but also provided some refreshment. Slicing through the grass wet my legs, and brushing the trees soaked the sleeves of my jersey. It was good to be out there.

Rounding one uphill corner, I nearly had a collision with another rider who was coming the opposite direction. It turned out to be Claire (she use to go by gnarly on MTBR). We stopped and gabbed for a bit, then parted. It was nice to catch up with here for a bit. As we parted I fondly remembered a road trip, myself, Claire, and another friend Mike did. It was a spur of the moment decision. We drove up Island from Victoria, and set up shop at my moms place in Nanaimo. From there we hit 4 trail systems in 3 days (or something silly like that). A great memory from my past. I have since grown apart from Mike and Claire, but I don’t think I will ever forget them or that road trip.

Hmm, the back tire was feeling a little squishy. I stopped and put a few PSI more back into the tire, then continued on my way. Yoshi love going mountain biking, and he is learning to be a better trail dog every single time I take him out. As I slowly make my way up the steepest trail, he takes off sending stones rolling back down into my wheels. A couple minutes later he comes roaring back down towards me to see what is taking me so long. Like I said, he is quite a character.

I realized (right before a stream crossing) that my rear is still too low on air pressure. I stopped to put more air in, and as I am doing so, I noticed the nipple to one of my spokes has sunk pretty far into the rim. In a confused state I tested the spoke for tension, only to find that I had a broken spoke. One quick zip tie, and a couple minutes of pumping later I am ready for the stream crossing.

I climb up the other side, and notice more cheater lines all the time. I know that SIMBS closes as many as they can (and I do what I can to block some of them), but with the parks ever increasing use, it might likely be impossible. I decided to do a long climb that I have not done in a long time. I need to work on my climbing legs so that when I do jump back on my bullit, I can feel comfortable like days gone by.

Part way up the climb I find a shortcut to the trail that was my destination. As I follow the shortcut I realized that this one would make my loop too short. Turning around I took off out of the shortcut, and continued the climb. I got to the top, headed down fun trail, then made my way back to the other side of the park, back to my truck. Yoshi was tired, yet I was feeling. Not long enough to tire me out too much, but still lots of fun. In the end (like so many other times), I was glad I got out. Why don’t I go more?

Part of it is now that I am in a relationship, I am generally more busy. We go and visit friends, spend time together, clean the house, etc. Life is more full now. I think also part of the reason I don’t ride as much any more is because I am in a relationship. While that may be confusing, what I mean is that I now have responsibilities to more than myself. Riding is dangerous, and I have had my share of close calls. I don’t want to strand my girlfriend. Does that make any sense? I also think part of it is that I am aging. I am still 28, but my outlook on life is certainly a lot different now than when I was 25.

In all it doesn’t really matter. I have bikes. I ride bikes. I enjoy riding bikes. I think I will always ride bikes, even if it is not in the same way as when I was younger.

Last night was a very interesting ride indeed. I travelled a lot further mentally than I did physically.

Tank-like Fun

life behind bars
Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. No, wait, that isn’t what I mean. Yesterday was the first day on my new bike. Well, that is a little closer to the truth. Yesterday was the first day I went for a training ride on my new bike.

I am pretty pumped on my new bike. I primarily bought it to help whip myself into shape for the summer MTB season. I have been on a couple rides so far, but yesterdays was the first of any length and intensity. I planned a pretty good route, and set off a little nervous.

It was actually a lot of fun. Compared to my tank-like mountain bikes, this one is smooth, fast, graceful, twitchy, yet surprisingly still fun. The shifting is something new. The brake levers twist inwards for one direction of shifting, and there is a paddle shifter under the thumbs for the other direction. The other thing is that the shifting is backwards from my mountain bike. I am used to the thumb action going to an easier gear, but on the road bike the thumb goes to a harder gear.

I am still uneasy on the bars. Mainly I am not sure where my hands should be resting and at what times. Going downhill is freaky. I feel like I am way over the front wheel, and that I am going to fall. Smiling

Skinny bars!!
Skinny bars!!

no rear suspension????
no rear suspension????

clean straight tubes
clean straight tubes

my sleek and fast beauty
my sleek and fast beauty

Gorgeous Mishap

peace outWhat a gorgeous weekend. Yesterday was a busy one. First it was Emily’s Christening, then I was off to my photography class field trip at Beacon Hill park. For dinner Sue and I had a couple friends over. In there I also cut the grass, and tidied the house. Phew, I was beat my 10pm.

Today, Mark, Sue, Yoshi and I went for a nice easy ride at the dump. Absolutely awesome. My wrist is still a little sore from last weekends mishap, but I did my best to take it easy. I walked way more things than I would have had I been completely healed.

I hope all had a good weekend, and got outside to enjoy the weather.

Instinctively Nervous (long and painful)

Hammerfest Ten is now over and what a weekend. Shane and I headed to Nanaimo on Friday so we could do practice runs on Saturday. No problem. We got up at a reasonable time Saturday morning, made our way to the course, grabbed a shuttle, and began our day.

The first run down was a slow roll. Shane needed to see the course, and I needed to see what had changed. There were a couple new sections that were a little tricky, and the last section to the pits was brand new. Actually the end bit was pretty nasty. A sandy uphill section, that then dropped into some really loose sandy berms before a step down jump to the finish line. We headed back up for a second slightly quicker run, and I felt a bit better about the berms.

Time for the third run. I thought I would pick up my speed a little and check out some of the sections at a little more speed. We got to the top, I got on the platform to start, and off I went. Shane was to follow me a few seconds later. I started off well, and felt pretty good. I got to the ladder drop, and decided to air off the top. I landed my rear wheel exactly where I wanted, and the front touched down a millisecond later. I went to slow and turn to avoid a tree when disaster struck. My right hand slipped off the bar. I couldn’t slow, and I couldn’t steer. I headed straight for the tree. All I was thinking was “Not again!“. I was going in, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I instinctively brought my hands up to protect my face. I hit the tree hard, then my bike hit, and I bounced off landing on the ground with a thud. I lay there in the middle of the trail a little stunned for a couple minutes. I wanted to get up, but I couldn’t. A couple other riders that were watching came to see if I was alright. One of them must have had some first aid experience since he was checking the bones out. I heard the other guy yell rider down, just as Shane rounded the corner. My wrist was starting to swell, and I knew I had to go get it checked out. Shane seemed pretty concerned (thanks Shane), but I told him to finish the run, and I would meet him at the bottom (I was headed to the shuttle point to take it back down).

At the bottom I got checked out by the ambulance attendant. She poked, prodded, bent, twisted, pushed and pulled on my wrist, and after each test she would say that is good (since I wasn’t screaming in pain). I got off very lucky with only a sprain. The attendant wrapped my wrist, then taped it, and told me to test it out a bit before doing another run. I had a dull ache, so I took a breather for a couple hours while I iced my wrist. I lent my goggles to Shane, and told him to do a few runs. I ended up doing two more runs later that day, and for both of them my grip was a little weaker than it should have been, but at least there was no pain.

Sunday morning arrives, and I am tired, and more than a little sore. Shane and I are slow to get going, and that turned out to be a very bad thing. We got to the site, just in time to miss the last shuttle to the pits. We needed to get our mandatory training run in by 10, and it was around 9:30. Crap! We had to hoof it up to the pits pretty quickly. We then barged through the shuttle line, and crammed ourselves into the cube van. The van dropped us off at 9:55. We still had to get to the top of the course by 10. We hustled, and got there just in time. I finished suiting up, then ripped down the course. I felt pretty good about that run, so we waited at the bottom for our start time.

Race time approacheth. We jumped into the cube van for the last time. We got to the top with plenty of time to spare. We sat, rested, ate, and drank. Setting the gear up one last time for one last run. My race face comes on when I get into the line up for the starting gate. I down my PowerGel, snug up the straps on my pads, don my gloves, and flex my fingers to get some warmth. I set my bike in the right gear. A nervous energy fills me. Shane gets up on the starting block, the beeps count down, and he is away. I climb up, and mount my bike. One last time I flexed my sore wrist. It felt pretty good. I knew it only had to last at most 5 minutes longer.

All too soon the countdown beeps start. I think “wow that was quick”. I set my mind, I focus my stare, and I launch down the start ramp. The first little jump I get too sideways, and almost go off course. I curse myself to stay focused, and I slip in a couple pedal strokes. The ladder ramp/launch that I messed up the day previous is nearing, and I instinctively tap the brakes to slow. I curse myself, and move my fingers off the brakes, I pull up off the ramp, land, slow a bit, and slither past the tree that claimed me the day before. Yay! With that roadblock out of the way I pick up speed. I conserve energy where I can, but still keep my speed up. I near the first road crossing, and prepare for the drop. I messed up, and ended up way over to the left on the road crossing, so I hit the binders hard, and lean to the right. I dropped off the far side of the road, nicely lined up for the mud pit. I got sucked into one hole pretty bad, and I lost a lot of momentum. A few pedal strokes later I was again hurtling down the course. Over a couple jumps, around a few turns, and I was back into the trees. Over the rutty roots, and ahead is my least favorite corner of the run. I messed up badly. The turn before I needed to put my right foot out to save my balance. This meant I was ill prepared for the sharp left. As quick as I could I rolled the bike to the left, got my right foot on the pedal, and stuck out the left foot to push myself around the corner.

With that out of the way I pedal some more, do a couple drops, prejump the nasty rock garden, the drop to the right of a gap jump. Railing the berm I pedal hard to get through a bumpy section. Cutting the corners I try to make the straightest line possible, but by this time my thighs are burning. The first of the uphill climbs is right ahead. I sit and pedal hard as I ascend the ladder bridge. As I near the crest I am about to downshift, but I realized I was too far to the right, and I wouldn’t be able to make the corner which was fast approaching. Right at this instant my front tire washes out off the course, and I go down. I jump up, grab my bike, and run to the top of the hill. I jump back on and get set for the off camber rooty turn that is next. As I approach it I find my brake lever is twisted up from the crash. I bang on it to get it back in place while rolling down the course. I come to the third road crossing, and I almost had enough speed for the stepdown. In the back of my mind I hear Sue and Cathy cheering and yelling. I hear them say my name, but I was too focused to look around. Across the road, down the other side, and back into the trees.

Down, the up. There is the log crossing that claimed me a couple years ago. I am still feeling pretty good. One last road crossing, and one last uphill. This one is killer. The rain has helped pack it down, but it is still pretty loose. I keep up my speed, and wait until I can do some good pedaling. I crest the hill, shift up one gear, head past the nasty log (last one yay!), then into the berms. I managed to upshift again, but I should have gone up two or three times. I exit the berms, lift off the lip, get a little squirrely, launch the best I can over the last step down, then pedal as fast as I can across the line ( here is where I needed the extra high gear).

My time was 4:33.57, and I placed 22 out of 28. When all is said and done, my race run was definitely my quickest run on the weekend. I am happy with it, but reading back on this, there is definitely room for improvement. I had a good time this weekend, but I am a little stiff and sore today (especially my wrist). I may head home early today and ice my wrist.

Coaster Casing

Last night was supposed to be an easy ride to loosen the legs. It turned out to be much, much more. I met up with Shane and company whose destination was Sofa King. I had been to the trail many times before, but I am not a big fan of gap jumps. I decided to give a couple of the smaller ones a try. Hmm, I think I can now see why people like them so much! When you nail one, there is no other feeling like it. It is almost like a roller coaster cresting a hill. You feel the upwards motion, you feel a little weightlessness, then you feel a downward motion. There is no hard impact like doing a regular drop.

For me the hard part is getting over the hole in the middle. I am worried about coming up short on the gap, casing, and hurting myself. I rarely give myself enough credit for the skills I have. Maybe some day I will do all of Sofa King from top to bottom. I am almost ready!

Why was the ride so good? I am not entirely sure. It felt great to be on my bike again. My bike itself felt great. My cardio was hurting a little. It had to be the shoes. I bought new shoes for riding while I was in Kelowna, and they were amazing. I am not sure if they are a little too big or not. Haven’t decided. They certainly stick to the pedals though. Wow. I need to decide if I want to race in them though. I will probably do my practice day in them and see how it goes.

I am ready for Hammerfest. My bike is prepped, my gear is cleaned, and mentally I think I will do fine. My main goal is to go an have fun! I am definitely ready for fun.

Downhill Dumper

big hair mikeSaturday saw Mike I riding at Nields road. There are some pretty fun trails there, and some insane stunts. We went up the steep fireroad to start, then off towards the Black Sabbath stunts. Some of them were torn down a while ago, allegedly by some drunk partying teens who needed some firewood. Anyway, there are some left there, but I keep chickening out on this one jump. Grrr. I am closer than ever to launching it though.

click for the pictures or read on.

We continued on and did the full loop, taking pictures along the way when the weather permitted. It was overcast out, so some of the shots have a bright background, and a black foreground. Some of them look pretty cool that way. I did a bunch of jumps and drops that I normally do. I need to take my forks in to get overhauled. I think they are low on oil, and as a result they were bottoming out quite easily. Not good.

Near the end of our ride, when we were starting a short downhill section, I went to pedal, and got the horrible feeling of a stick in the derailleur. Instantly I stopped pedalling and jammed on the brakes. I couldn’t see any sticks, but on closer inspection I found some wood had jammed itself in two links of my chain, between the two sides. Very strange. We had to take a couple minutes to dig that out, and then we were on our merry way.

As we arrived at the parking area, some other guy in a pickup arrived. He turned around, backed around a ditch, and up into the bush a little. I thought he was going to be unloading a bike or even a motor bike, but no, he sat there watching us. I quickly realized we had caught this guy trying to illegally dump garbage! We played it up for him. We goofed around on our bikes in front of him, and kept looking over at him. I memorized his plate number. He tried to fake us out by opening his hood and looking at his engine. Right. He backed up off the road because he is having engine troubles! This after driving way up to the end of a road in the middle of nowhere. Dingbat. Mike and I went to his car, and started getting changed. I kept looking over at the guy, and he was sitting there watching us. Finally he started his truck and drove off. I snapped a quick pic as he drove away.

Besides the dumper I had a good ride. Endurance wise I felt great. Technical wise I felt fine. I just chickened out on a few stunts!