Last weekend found MegaJoules and I celebrating our one week wedding anniversay by trailing through the Hoosier National Forest looking for Cemeteries! wOOt wOOt sounds fantastic, right? well for me yes for others well maybe a little less than fantstic.
My beautiful wife and I agreed to this Dead World Assembly Ride so rightfully called the Sub 9 Death March a few months ago. With a little training and a pair of new gold rings we set out to locate the hillside cemeteries chalk full of empty hourglasses. A quick talk with Tania the promoter of the race lead to the story behind it. She says her husband and a few friends thought it would be fun to see if they could loop all the historic cemeteries together by riding forest roads and trails. It drew almost 100 teams in its first year. I will tell you its worth the drive and money spent for lodging and entry. Beautiful area and some truely awesome little resting grounds.
So on with the race story. what strategies does one with years of racing experience use for such an event.. Well I waited as people rolled out and followed the lesser of the groups. Figured it was probably not the normal route and was most likely more fun with less people at the stops.
Hickory Grove Church
our first stop which was found using trails straight out of the starting gate. Of course they lead to some roads but hitting trail on the Trek Crossrip put a smile on my face instantly. I could see MegaJoules concern as the first miles of a long day began with her on a new Crockett and no roads in sight.
Well, let me chime in here and state that not only did we not have a plan but as riders began to roll out of the parking lot there we stood looking at the maps trying to locate the final two cemeteries announced just moments before take off. Once we get rolling I quickly realize that my husband's version of "a fun little event" still meant he was out for blood (competitive overdrive). Out of 200+ riders we follow a lonesome 4 into the woods and up a hillside. I quickly realized my energy would be drained today riding a lot of mountain bike trail on my cross bike (with 51 psi for all you cross folk!)t
second stop was this gem! of course this was worth a 50 min bonus becasue the only route in or out was via trails. So once again we slugged our way to the top of the hill for photo op #2. all the while we followed a couple of guys on MTBs who were kind enough to show us the way.
Again, Mr. Out for Blood was kind enough to give me about 5 seconds here to derobe my layers. It was a cold morning that quickly warmed up, especially pushing hard through the trails. I can't breathe when I overheat (or so I feel) so all I wanted to do was take 2 minutes and stash away my layers. I was grateful for the two men we tagged along with so that Stork had some people to chat it up with while I was hanging on for dear life to keep up.
3rd stop had us shedding some clothes as the weather warmed up. We were still seeing people but not the large crowd that started out. I felt like we were doing okay but also realized we were not setting any time records. The point was to have fun but stay competitive and learn the area.
At this point I was feeling pretty good and thought for a moment we might do pretty well in this event (forgetting that there were hundreds of people out there creating their own routes). The people were really friendly and allowed us to follow them to some of the time bonuses we may have otherwise missed. We quickly got back on our bikes, downed a banana and then began my mental block of feeling like I couldn't keep up. There was just no way in hell these legs could pedal at a pace that Stork would deam worthy for a competitive event. I struggled the rest of the day to stay positive in my abilities to pedal fast enough.
the 4th stop was easy and was right along side the road. By this time we were criss-crossing with a few of the same people from earlier. Houston lead us out to the 5th stop where we turned around and retraced our steps past Houston in route to the 6th cemetery on our list. I was still spinning the 53 tooth and the Crossrip had proven to be a wise choice for the nice gravel roads.
At this point my memory is all becoming a blur ... I would have liked to stop and look around to enjoy the historical sites, BUT ... no time for that. Had to keep moving, must press onward, march march along (pedal pedal pedal).
this was super easy and was just a few miles out past the previous but it was located along a nice winding road.
Upon leaving this site Stork sped up to pull two guys and myself. I did the best I could to hang on to their draft. We quickly approached some hills where Stork kindly grabbed a hold of my seat to help push me up the inclines. Now let me state I would have no trouble doing this route with a friend at my own pace but there was no time for a leisure ride. Stork would see a female ahead of us and he would keep pushing my seat until we passed them. While I was grateful for his assistance I struggled not to get down on myself for not pedaling hard enough. Come on legs! Get with it!
......to be continued
Hello readers & friends I'm new to the blog site but will be contributing posts over the next several months. Since meeting the Stork we have cycled, run, skied both cross country and downhill and are preparing for a season of charity rides and some mountain bike races.
Following years of swimming, cycling, and running (sometimes all in the same event - yes I was a "tri" athlete) I decided to further my fitness by focusing on gear and equipment. I was recently introduced to Matt at Trek of Pittsburgh by the Stork. Immediately I became intrigued by the fit process they call "FitSquared". After signing up and scheduling an appointment I found myself in Top Gear Bike Shop for an initial bike fitting to see what size cross and road bike would fit me best. Matt uses a process called FitSquared, which was developed by Don Mosites and a few others which is a combination of fitting systems and data collection. Matt has an athletic training background and brings his expertise and working experience from UPMC. I was curious as to what the outcome of this fit would be, considering my most recent cross bike is a size 46cm. At 5'3", 117 lb I thought the 46 was a smidge small but I liked it. It wasn't until I saw photos of my rounded back and received comments of my legs doing "figure 8's" and my hips rocking back and forth that I decided to seek out Matt's professional fit process. After warming up on the bike, Matt analyzed my structure (leg length, flexibility, back and hip balance) before getting me back on the fit bike. He wired me up, using the 3D motion capture technology of Retül which analyzed my body's position as I pedaled against a work load. The data captured was simultaneously converted to the computer.
The most interesting part came after I got off the bike. The information gathered from my pedaling was inputted into a program that matched my pedal stroke, body size and lengths to specific bikes that would best work with my fit needs and cycling goals. Knowing I am looking to purchase a new road and cross bike, I left the store tonight knowing exactly which two bikes I want to purchase, and knowing that Matt will fit me when I purchase them.
If you have not yet experienced a professional bike fit, or even if you have, I highly recommend the FitSquared process at Trek of Pittsbrugh. You may not even realize how your bike or your bike fit could be holding you back from reaching your potential.
Stop back and continue to follow me her efor future posts as my bike fitting process continues.
I've been using these new Bontrager Bar ends for a few months now. During one of my visits to Trek Bikes last year I got the opportunity to test prototypes that were crafted from a clay like mold.
I'm extremely happy with the end product that came from those molds. Being an avide bar end user I was a little nervous to change from my current Bontrager carbon bar ends but I can say with the utmost sincerity that these are fantastic. Comfortable, small and easy to take on and off.
I usee to wrap my bar ends with bar tape to give them some grip but these new Ergo ends have a textured grip area. They come in Black/Silver or Black/White.
Although they are called Ergo Bar Ends I affectionatly call them "Love Handles" because my hands love to be on them :)
Should be available in October so see you Trek Dealer for a pair #433748
What can I say... i've slipped pretty hard with updating here. Since Instagram, twitter and FB came a long I didn't think many people still read blogs. But hey i'm going to try making a once a month post at minimum
I'm still riding and riding a lot so take look here on Flicker. You dont need to be a member to view the photos.
Keep an eye on the photos I just returned form two trips, one at the Transylvania Epic and the other was a visit to Trek in Madison.
Only moments after this photo our ride was offset as one of the riders in the group was swept across the road on the decent of the Fig a little over a year ago. High winds grabbed him as he came out of the side protection of the mountain and sent him careening into the rocks. Crushing his Helmet, flattening his tire and knocking the wind from him when he stopped into the side of a small outrun.
It wasn't a pleasant thing watching someone so helplessly being forced from the roadway. Especially a close friend whom you just spent the last 3 hours climbing and talking with.
Never the less, no cars, no trees and a skilled rider still can come out bad...Wear your HELMET.
Small injuries were experienced but look at this helmet! Imagine if he hadn't been wearing one.
The weather is getting nice and everyone wants to get outside but lets not get in a hurry and forget the important things. Stop at your local Trek Shop and spend a little "insurance" on yourself with something like the Oracle or the Specter
I use both and the Oracle is great helmet but I lean towards the Specter a little more myself ;)
"what tires do you use for riding in the snow?"
I get asked this a lot. Everyone knows I'm a big supporter of Bontrager Products including all their tires. I've been luckily enough to hold future rubber products in my hands while at Trek, see charts and tests and even rode several proto type tires from time to time from them. I understand what drives making a certain tire and why others just aren't feasible to make. Basically if they cant make the best then there isnt a reason to make it and hundreds of hours go into designing a tire.
That being said Bontrager does not currently chase after the slow aggressive cross market tires which is where a good snow tire comes from. So this is the one and only tire you will find me using that isn't a Bontrager. Accept it and dont give me a hard time for it. I have miles and miles of wintry snow roads logged on a bike and for over 5 years been using the tire i'm about to speak of.
Before continuing let me clarify that i have indeed tried several Hybrid tires and for the normal winter rider Bontrager offers great choices such as the LT3 which comes in a 38c. I use this tire in a 26" version on my Transport and its fantastic but a little wide for my winter training roads.
All my harsh winter deep snow rides are contested on my Mendota wrapped with fenders and on it I have the Kenda Kross Supreme 35c tires with a Bontrager Thorn resistant tube for trouble free flat protection in the cold.
So let me explain my opinion on the following which everyone talks about:
great for ice but truly how many miles are ridden on ice? occasionally I come across a road iced over and proceed with caution but never have I yet wished I had studs. The cost of them dont seem realistic for a few miles here or there. Second point is that they are extremely sketchy on some wet pavement surfaces. So braking hard with studs can easily allow sliding. Snow doesnt need a stud to bite into it.
There is no possible way you will ride the roads around my area on a road tire in the winter. they simply will not get traction and the hills come frequently and are steep. I question anyone riding road tires in the winter stating they are riding country snow covered roads. Maybe somewhere flat but I have guys and gals who will back me up on this that have tried some of my training roads with a decent Cross tire and fought hard to stay upright and for traction. So it isnt just me and these people are good handlers and strong riders. Get the right equipment for the job!
So the reasons I use my current set up:
logging long hours and milage on country roads
Aggressive tread for traction climbing and cornering (basically trying to stay straight in the snow)
narrow for a high pressure per square inch = traction. yes they can get pushed around and cut in on deep snow but it all equates to better bike handling skills.
Thorn resistant tube- can practically be ridden flat when its cold the last thing you want to do is change a tire in the cold and snow. Adds extra weight for better traction.
Fact- These Tires wear fast but thats probably due to a softer rubber compound which is better in the cold.
So if you have an argument for your favorite tire thats great, but hey this is my blogsite and I'm simply providing an answer to a question that I've been asked. Anyone doubting or debating my opinions need only look at the dozens of winter riding photos to see proof of my riding. I do lots of it ..not a little ;)
With so many outlets for social media I've fallen behind with the Blog. For this I apologize. Recently Instagran has become my favorite place to post. I've added a new folder of pictures that I posted on IG and I will try to update a little more often for those of you who do not use the other media such as FB Twitter and IG.
recently while spending time with my niece i've been reminded of something that I haven't really thought about since being a kid. Imagination... its wonderful to watch someone so carefreely imagine they are making you something eat and how detailed the motions and actions are when there is absolutly nothing but thin air in front of them.
This made my own imagination awaken. So during my lonely dark night rides on the rail trail I started thinking that I was on a path between to small communities in some dark place. I was traveling to deliver news of the Beast that was bringing death to the villages.
As I would pass through areas where the temperature changed I would imagine that the cold spots where places that Death was very near and that I must stay strong and push forward otherwise devastation would come to many others. When the air would again warm I would believe that I had outran the Beast that tracked me. Sometimes I would ride without my light on to try to go unnoticed. I would at times see other wildlife along my journey and could somehow sence they were watching out for me.
As I cross the small bridges along the trail I would proceed cautiously in case one had a Troll living under it. I didnt want to have to deal with them also.
Once reaching my destination I still had to go back and this was a little bit scarier since I know somewhere along the path I just traveled the Beast could be laying to ambush me even after I've warned the others.
Well you get my point... never to old to imagine and have fun. thanks to my sweet little niece for reminding me of this. Before I realized it my 2 hour ride was finshed and I was safely back home with my bike hanging in the basement. All the villages were prepared for the Beast and I could lay my head to rest until another night. The sun would be coming up and Evil would rest itself for the daylight hours.
Never to old are we? Bicycling helps the imagination work.