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!