Torpedo Road

Yesterday was the perfect day for riding. Warm, sunny, not windy. I met a friend out at the trails and off we rode. It was great to catch up with him and to get out and ride.

We took some very familiar trails and rode up to one of the highest points. Along the way we checked out a reworked torpedo run. That looks like a fun A line style trail that is nowhere near as big as A line. We ran across one guy who was on his fifth lap of it. The nice thing is that SIMBS has provided a walk up for the trail so that riders can easily lap it. Apparently the trail is fun, but still has a couple issues with flow.

D and I took Snakes and Ladders down. I still want to know what SIMBS was thinking with their rework of that trail. They absolutely wrecked it. The first three or four turns are lots of fun, but then the re-route starts. The new section feels nothing like what Snakes and Ladders used to feel like. No meandering down the hillside. Extra jumps. Less flow. I am decidedly not a fan of the new trail.

The ride was a lot of fun and a little under two hours. It did highlight I need to ride more though for me to really have lots of fun. With Ulti started for the summer I hope to ride more. Road biking during the week and maybe more mountain biking on the weekends.

Smiley Shock

Wet. Muddy. Smiley.

That’s how I described myself after today’s ride. I was lucky when I started my ride since I had beaten the rain. The first ten minutes or so my hands were pretty cold and I was doing what I could to warm them up. Once I started climbing some hills the blood got flowing and they warmed up.

I took fireroads up quite a way and descended down North Ridge and South Ridge trails. I certianly could stand to ride more though since I found myself walking a lot of the uphill portions. My legs just don’t have the strength they used to so getting the big bike to the top now seems to take a lot more effort than it used to.

One thing I love about riding in the wet is that the technique come back fairly quickly. Using body english and lunging the bike to get over roots. No front brakes to get down slippery rocks. Avoiding mud on corners. I love being able to see a tree root and be able to accurately envision what will happen to my wheel if I hit it in a certain way.

Just today I was slithering down a steep rocky section when I started to go off course. I purposely rolled over an off camber tree root knowing my tire would slip. This slip got me centred on the trail again.

Nearing what was supposed to be the end of my ride I took a wrong turn on a new trail. This took me down a fun trail with lots of berms. At first I wasn’t going fast enough to actually use the berms. A few pedal strokes and I could hit higher in the berm. The next one that I hit I was going a little too hard and felt the bike start doing a two wheel drift around the corner. All of a sudden the tires bit into solid ground, I shot out of the corner and straightened out. Very fun, and a good little adrenaline rush.

My brakes were feeling awesome today and that little bit of confidence was a nice bonus. I knew I could attack the trail and not worry about whether I could slow down or not. I’m glad I changed those front pads and after a slight adjustment, the rear brakes felt balanced with the front.

As I exited the trees and made my way to Shock Treatment the rain started. It wasn’t a hard rain, but it made me pick up the pace to get back to the truck quicker. I couldn’t have timed that ride any better.

A nice hot shower and home and good cup of coffee were the perfect caps to the ride. Those and a foot long sub from Subway. 🙂

Snakes Muddy

Today I got out for a wonderful wintery mountain bike ride. Boy am I out of riding shape! I need to ride more.

I took my time heading up hill, and ended up walking way more than I am used to. Once I figured out where I wanted to go, I chose the route there. I should always do this before I start riding, otherwise I stop and every intersection and wonder which way I should go. I ponder about which trail comes after the intersection, and I consider several trails beyond that decision point. This makes for a very stop and go ride.

Somewhere along the way I decided to head up the switchbacks then decide on which end trail. I settled on Snakes and Ladders.

The ride was pretty typical winter ride. A little chilly at the start, but I warmed up pretty quickly. The rocks and roots were pretty treacherous, and I likely should have let more air out of my tires. Getting back in the winter riding groove is hard. Slithering down rock faces is pretty easy, but climbing up wet off camber roots when you haven’t done it in a year is tough.

Overall I had a blast. It wasn’t a terribly long ride, and I walked a fair amount, but I still worked up a good sweat, got some fresh air, and more importantly got myself and my bike muddy.

Also, my new brake pads are now bed in nicely and have dramatically changed the control I have over my bike. The read pads are likely a little low too, and I might pick up some more the next time I am near a bike shop.

Mountain Bullit

I got out for a nice mountain bike ride today. Today was my first day of unemployment, as well as the first day of December. It was chilly out, but I dressed warmly and headed out.

At the first climb I could tell it had been a long time since I rode last. My legs definitely are not as strong as they used to be, so hefting my Bullit up the hills was a chore.

I also found that my bike felt jarring and harsh. The suspension seemed stiff, but it was actually fine. It turned out I had filled the tires too full, so after deflating the tires a bit, the ride quality improved dramatically.

My brakes were feeling a little off. I think the pads need replacing. Due to wonky brakes I chose to stay on the lower trails in case I needed to do some walking. This lead to a very fun ride.

The lower trails are the old-school trails to me. I know them well. They are still a blast, especially when the ground is soft and muddy from rain. You just never know when you are railing a corned if the ground will hold, or if the tires will break loose. If they break loose, can I recover?

After 1.5 hours I was done. My legs were toast, my bike was muddy. It was time to go. The shower when I got home felt wonderful and well deserved.

There was one unfortunate thing that happened on the ride though. I took my camera out of my pack to take a picture of a stunning stream. Picture a rushing babbling stream flowing over moss covered rocks. I planned to keep a small aperture so that I could get the water blurred. Woops, no card in the camera. Oh well. It made me focus on the ride, and the trails, not look for photo opportunities.

Ride Effort

Since it was so nice and sunny today, I thought I should get outside and ride, instead of getting on my trainer. It actually took a lot of effort to convince myself to get out and ride. It would have been so easy to just stay home and read.

The ride was actually quite nice, and I felt like to was a decent workout too. I dressed warm enough to generate a decent sweat, but never once felt hot. Here is my route:

Slowing Intersection

I don’t know why, but when I am out on the roads, I seem to come across lots of morons.

Yesterday I saw this guy on a scooter running a red light. More than once. He turned right on to the road I was on without slowing down at all. I know he had a red then. He approached another light that was also red (the instersection of Head and Old Esquimalt). Instead of slowing, he turns right, then noticing there is no traffic, pulls a u-turn so that he is on Head, facing Old Esquimalt. He guns it and turns right to get back on to Old Esquimalt. The same a running a red.

Today while riding to work I was moving along at a pretty good clip and some car pulls out of a driveway to get into traffic. Only there isn’t room so they hit the brakes and end up blocking the bike lane. I then have to hit the brakes and weave around them. A little later some truck stops in the bike lane and double parks so he could drop off his wife. I wanted to give him a mean look (oooooh), but he was shielding his eyes with his hand. He knew he was doing something he shouldn’t.

On the way home today I was coming down a hill to an intersection and I had a green light. A cyclist decided to try and zip across the red, and through the traffic, nearly t-boning me.

Finally, as I was climbing a hill on Esquimalt Ave, a red and white taxi blew past me pretty quickly at less than a foot from my shoulder. There was a whole other lane they could have mover over in to, but no, he had to stay in his lane.

After experiences like this, it’s

no wonder more people don’t cycle commute.

Sunshine Speed

While in Nelson I had the opportunity to go mountain biking. Actually, to go riding I needed to take my bike, and to take my bike I had to get a hitch installed on our car, and buy a bike rack. Expensive bike ride! In reality we were wanting to make those purchases for a long time.

The destination trail was 49’er. It was a short drive from where we were staying to the bottom of the hill. I was going with Sox’s two brothers, one who lives in Nelson and rides there a bit, the other who lives on the Sunshine coast and doesn’t mountain bike.

Since it had been hot lately we chose to get up at 6 and head out early to beat the heat. Leaving the house around 6:30 was a little difficult but I was looking forward to the ride.

Unloading the bikes I strapped my armour to my bike and to my pack. I wouldn’t need it on the ride up. Here I was with my 40+ LB bike riding up a logging road with two hardtails. I got dropped pretty quickly, but that didn’t bother me. I knew the DH was going to be worth it.

The climb took just over an hour, and right near the top we got a few rays of sun. The instant those hit my body I could feel the temperature go up. Good call on the early ride.

Dropping in to 49’er I was sort of prepared for what was to come. From previous rides in Nelson I knew it was going to be steep and have stunts. B’s description mentioned some good stunts too.

The first section was flowy and smooth. Lots of twists and turns and carving. We crossed the road to get to the next section. B warned me that a stunt was just ahead. Dropping in to the overgrown trail I wasn’t sure what to expect, when suddenly there was a log ride. I got on it, then when I looked up I saw an uphill climb up a ladder to another log. I jumped off since I didn’t have enough speed and went back for a second go.Didn’t make it that time either.

The trail continued down and down. There were a few log rides and ladders along the way that were really fun. A few jumps along the way kept me pumped too.

There was one log ride feature that had a few different exit options depending on what the rider felt like. I did the 3 foot wheelie drop. There was one option that went up pretty high that required a small drop to a ramp.

I’ve been having some issues with my front brakes on my Bullit for the last couple rides. I think I need new pads, but the lever goes right to the bar. If only have 1 finger for braking, the lever will hit my other fingers and not engage the brakes.

Sure enough I did a jump off a ladder and landed with lots of speed. The lever hit my finger and I couldn’t slow down. Unfortunately there was a big rock in my way. I used the rock as a ramp and jumped again, pickin up more speed. I shifter my fingers and jammed on the brakes as fast as I could. I was approaching a left turn with a log on the outside. I had slowed considerably, but not enough. I hit the log and got catapulted over the bars.

Landing I tucked and rolled down the hill, laughing. When I came to a stop I looked up the hill to see my bike tumbling toward me. I stopped that with my foot.

B rolled to a stop next to me, and I could hear a hissing noise. I assumed I had a flat in progress, but it turned out to be his fork. He blew some seal and the pressure was causing the oil to seep out. We were 1.3 of the way down.

For me the rest of the trail was awesome. Steep and switchbacky. I had a blast. There was one section that had four jumps in a row that I had to do a second time.

Eventually we came out of the trail to the fireroad. From there it was a downhill coast to the car and the end of the ride.

Poker Biking

Early last week I heard about the SIMBS poker ride. I thought it sounded like fun so I enlisted a couple other friends and we headed out for it.

There were 4 stations scattered about the park and we had to visit each one to get a card. First person back got a price, last person back got a prize, best hand, worst hand got prizes, and there were a few others too.

I had a great ride and felt like we really pushed ourselves. We rode some pretty technical trails that I hadn’t ridden in a very long time. It was a blast.

At the first station I got a 6 of spades. After bombing down SouthRidge we got to the second station where I got an A of hearts. Not a bad start. We then hit Green Ribbon in its entirety which brought back lots of memories. After Green Ribbon we found the third station where I got another 6. Looking good I though.

We took crossover, climbed a short ways, then found the fourth station where I got a 5. Meh, that didn’t help at all.

We hit up a great little chute, then dropped in to the back side of the TTA. Back up the hill we got back to the parking lot. We were out riding for a little under two hours and we didn’t really stop all that much. I was surprised at how well my legs and lungs held up. I haven’t been mountain biking much at all lately, and I was on my big bike. Add on that I have been fighting a cold for the past few days and I was expecting a pretty bleak picture.

I felt great skill wise on the bike too. My balance was good, jumping, manualing, braking, and cornering were good. It was a perfect day for a ride.

My final card was another A. Sweet, A’s and 6’s. My hand was recorded and I was looking pretty good for a long time until someone else showed up with 3 5’s. 🙁 Then, the last person to the parking lot (who won a prize for being last), pulled out an A high flush! 2 prizes for that guy.

SIMBS finished off the event with a burger BBQ that was free. I paid $5 to enter the race and at two yummy sirloin burgers. Got my money’s worth I would say.

Racing Today

I recently wrote about wanting to do some racing this year. A couple weeks ago that plan changed. I haven’t been getting in many training rides, so my fitness just isn’t ready for racing. Also, I haven’t spent any time on my mountain bike so I just don’t feel comfortable going all out for a race. My balance and jumping skills are a little rusty, and so is my timing. This just adds up to a bad combination.

I had contemplated just doing the Victoria race, but it would prove too expensive. A club membership is needed for insurance purposes, and that runs around $45. Add on races fees of $10-$20, and that is an insane amount of money for a 5 minute race run. I am going to pass on racing this year, and plan to get some racing in next year.

Of course I did get out for a nice ride today. It was a lot of fun, but it really reinforced in my mind that I made the right decision to not race. My fitness is nowhere close, and I was not showing the finesse I normally do. I had a great ride though, and my friend and I rode some excellent trails. I had a few good jumps, good log rides, and some good rock faces. I also had a few close calls, and a couple off-bike excursions.

I am a little disappointed about not racing this year, but after today’s great ride, I am more comfortable with my decision.

Ditch Jelly

Yesterday morning I met up with a few friends for a ride at the dump. It was a cold morning so I dressed extra warm. At the dump I decided to ditch the pants and go with shorts. Add in leg armour, and I was still plenty warm. The route we took was pretty good. It had been a while since I was on trails, so I wanted something easy. We ended up on Green Ribbon, which is decidedly not an easy trail. There are some good steeps, fun rock faces, and some big jumps. I had a blast and was pretty knackered by the end. My quads felt like jelly.

At the end of the last trail we were waiting for Sean to do the last couple drops and I thought I could see some dust falling from the trees. At first I thought pine needles, but someone else said hail. Then we all realized it was snow. 🙂

The sad part of the ride came as we were ascending fun trail. There was lots of ribbons tied to trees and we could see some stakes in the ground marked PL. Sean pointed out that the ribbons were for a fall boundary and the the stakes were property line markers. Looks like we might be losing more trails to a housing development. Years ago people used to call Victoria a biking mecca. We had a few excellent areas to ride, with more in Cobble Hill, Sooke, and Duncan close by. Now we have the dump and Duncan. A few trails at the dump have been lost to development. It is sad for me to see these trails get eaten since the trail system at the dump was a place I grew up. I strongly feel that mountain biking changed my life and helped shape me. Seeing some of this getting torn up tears me up.