Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weekly update

The weeks keep ticking by, and the days are getting shorter. Seems like less than a week ago it was 9:30, now it is dark closer to 9. Pretty soon I will be driving to work in the dark (which I already do) and driving home in the dark. ugh.

Not a real good week for riding. I did a road ride Tuesday night, and that was about it. I was in the gym on Monday and then headed there Friday since nobody was home. I did ride on Saturday too, so let me recap the 2 rides I did.

Road ride.
The funny thing about the road bike is how twitchy it is...until I get used to it. Once I get settled in I really do like the bike. It rides smooth. I do a short sub 18 mile loop around my town here. It is low traffic and the road surfaces are decent, especially for Michigan. My legs felt like concrete though. I had zero power at all. My sustained efforts were slow, and hard. (thats what she said ;) 

Anyway, my ride was pretty good all things considered. The interesting thing about this ride? My time was exactly 1 second different than the last time I rode this route. 1 second over 18 miles. I have never had 2 times that close in all of the journeys over this route. As awful as my legs felt, I figured it would be a slow ride, but it was "consistent". 

Didn't do anything but order tires the other days. Those will be here next week, more to come on those. Saturday I loaded up Albert and headed to Fort Custer. Because I was at the gym the night before I wasn't sure how my legs would respond. The first mile wasn't bad. lol. I rode into Custer and took a shortcut to the green loop. I finished up the Green loop and headed to the Red loop. I was actually getting comfortable on Albert until I remembered the brakes are weak and nearly blew a corner. After that caught my attention I was able to settle in and get comfortable again. Not a fast ride, but the bike sticks to the ground because the tires are so freaking big. I don't care for the tread on my current tires, but those will be getting replaced in the winter anyway. 

So that is about it....other than I need to buckle down and eat healthier. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Updating again

Every time I remember to post it has been weeks since my last post. For those that read, my apologies. Life has been hectic still and I am doing my best to survive day to day.  Alas, onto the last few weeks.


I have been getting out. Rode Merrell a few weeks ago. Made it about 4 miles before I chirped a rock and gashed a sidewall. So, I took a nice hike in the woods before finding my way out. 


Having to wait a while to get a new tire I remembered that I actually have a fat bike. So I loaded that up and rode to the Allegan trail here in town. I wanted to see what progress had been made...and it wasn't much. I just tooled around checking things out before heading home. The main takeaway...the fatty is a way different bike than the DUFF.


Wanting to really test out the fatty (Albert) I headed to the Maple Hill trail at Markin Glen in Kalamazoo. This is a new trail that hasn't even had it grand opening yet. This will be an interesting trail for sure when it is done. It was fairly short yet, but there was a screaming fast downhill line that has table tops. Stupid fast. being on a 40 pound bike I wasn't about to fly...not that I like to fly anyway. I was just riding and checking out the terrain. Hilly. The fist section is uphill to an opening where you can choose the "downhill only" line or the other section of trail. I missed the other section the first time thru. I just went to the downhill run and really enjoyed it. After that run there is a section of trail that is fairly flat and winds around the south side of the park. This is where the trail construction is continuing so you take the road back to the lot and go uphill again. This time I took the trail towards the right. it wraps around and ends up back at the trailhead. Overall, a fun trail and a nice change of pace when compared to the other trails in the area.



I headed to Hammond Hill the next week with Albert (fatbike) to see how the new trail system is doing. It is interesting for sure. This is another new trail system that is about 6 miles long. The kicker here....it is bi-directional all the time...meaning you can find someone head-on....while bombing down a hill....or they could be...so it was farily nerve racking riding here. Other than that, it is a pretty cool trail system. There are connectors all over and you can just sorta keep riding and turning left or right and generally end up back at the car. 



Once I got the tire fixed on the Anthem (D.U.F.F.) I had to go try out Merrell again. This time I rode with Nate and we did 2 full laps and got all the spurs. The major thing I noticed....after riding Albert for a few rides I was super twitchy on the D.U.F.F., super twitchy. It took me at least a mile before I was getting comfortable again. Because Merrell is such a blast (in the yellow direction) it didn't feel like we rode as far as we did. Solid ride, slow....but solid.


Today I headed to Fort Custer. I turned in a solid lap on the red loop. The dirt was "hero". the trail was in amazing shape all around and I was just pushing everywhere I could. I felt "good" for the first time in a long time. I have been feeling ok, but not good. Today was good. I headed out on the green loop to complete my ride and it was cut short by another torn sidewall. This tire had about 25 miles on it. I didnt hear a big twinge or anything, but I must have hit a rock just right to cut the wall.  Oh well, just need to get it replaced again...for the second time in less than a month. Going to look into the snake skin version next time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Finally an OK week

This was one of my best riding weeks of the year, and I will take it.

Monday I dusted off the road bike and headed out for a familiar loop. My so called "Little John Loop" where I ride from home and make a circle to Chicora before heading back home. My ride was hot and a bit twitchy. Having pulled the road bike off the shelf for the first time in 2017 and going from 2.3's to 22mm tires, well...there is your difference. My ride was not fast, but it was mileage that I desperately needed.

Tuesday was the group ride turned solo ride at Cannonsburg State Game area. Solid two laps. Look at the previous post HERE for more info on this ride. 

Wednesday I took the day off. My legs were out of gas. I went and had a nice dinner with my oldest daughter instead.....you know...recovery ;).  I took Thursday off as well. It was one of those days were I probably should have gone to ride, but instead of taking care of the odds and ends of daily life.

Friday, I had to do some electrical work for my sister-n-law. I was also expecting my wife home from her trip so I voted against riding. Instead, after finding out the wife was going to be late, I geared up and headed out on the road again. I was actually noticing some zip in my pedal force. I was holding a pretty solid average. Then I caught a guy that was on a similar route. We rode together for a mile or so and chatted. Then I turned back towards home and he went on the rest of his journey. The rest of my ride was pretty good. Held a constant speed and just enjoyed being on the bike.

After taking Saturday off, it was time to go again today. I loaded up and stopped at the gas station, still not 100% sure where I wanted to go. A quick look at the weather map gave me my direction. There was a bit of rain to the south so I headed up to Luton Park. To my surprise it has rained there some time that morning. Still, I was there and figured if it was muddy I would just ride the interior loop. It wasn't. There was 4-5 small puddles and the rest of the trail was in great shape. 

First lap it did take me a bit to settle in because the rocks and roots were a bit slick. Because I am still heavy I am just riding to be riding....not setting any records. My main notice, it was humid out. I was dripping sweat into my glasses in the first 10 minutes. As it always seems at Luton, I felt like I had the trail to myself. First lap in, I stopped at the parking lot. Refilled my bottle and headed out for another lap. It was only about 11 o'clock but I was pouring sweat still. Not hot, humid. 

On this lap I decided to work more on handling and cornering. Trying to avoid the brakes....because...that is how you get faster right? It went pretty good as I was taking corners a bit faster that I did on the first lap. Overall it was a good ride.

My average speed on the road was nearly .5 mph faster on my second ride.
My average speed at Luton was almost a full mph faster that the previous time I rode it a few weeks ago. So, progress is happening.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Keep on slippin'

Time...as it were.....keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'

Wow time is going fast. The last week of July is rapidly approaching and while I have some goals for the 2018 season that seem very far away, the weeks are dropping off like panties in the white house when B.C. was in charge. HA!

So, what has been going on? How is everyone? I am sure you guys are putting in more miles than me, but that is ok. I am alive and doing pretty good all things considered.

This past Monday I actually got the Defy out of the garage and did a nice 18 mile ride. First time that bike has been on pavement in 2017. Let me tell you this much, it was a very twitchy first mile or so before I got settled in. The ride went pretty good, albeit slow. That is ok too. I was out there and I was just enjoying being on the bike. The weather was beautiful. Looking at my average speed was not very surprising because I am just a heavy human right now.

The next night, Tuesday, I joined a few guys from work and headed to Cannonsburg State Game Area. The first mile was ok, but then one of the guys (a newbie) shot off the front and we decimated the group. I was holding on for the most part....but I was concerned about the rest of the group, so I backed off....only to be dropped about 1.5 miles later. lol. How was it that I waited for people.....and ended up last...by a long time? I don't remember CSGA having so many roots, but the trail was in amazing shape. I was close to losing it on a rooty section. My rear tire went left, front tire went right. Then, front tire and rear tire went right together. Thankfully I stayed upright and rode in solo. The last section from 3 mile to 4 mile is surely my favorite. Flat and fast as hell. I was reminded of a few years ago when I was pushing Jeff to the point of him puking. I wasn't very fast, but it felt fast compared to the rest of the trail. Once I got back the other four guys were loading up and heading home. I took that opporutnity to head out again for "another" solo lap. This lap was less than 6 minutes slower than the first. That is a huge win for me for a few reasons. First, as a sport level rider I strive for consistent lap times. They might not be the fastest, but they will start getting faster the more I ride. The second reason....I was the only one out of 5 of us that did two laps. Why do 1 when you can do 2 right?

The second lap was just a cruise. Working on flow rather than being choppy in and out of the corners. With a very high center of gravity the handling of a bike is way different. 30 pounds up and different speeds means a whole new way of riding. The plan is to get faster, thinner, and improve my handling skills all at the same time. The hope is to come out in the spring a lean mean cycling machine.


But, back to the Newbie. I get it. I get that you have a desire to "win" every time you do anything. But it is a dick move to invite 4 other people and simply leave them behind to fend for themselves. Sure you "won". But you got to the trailhead 8 minutes before I did. You could have been well on your way home by the time I hit the parking lot. What if someone crashed at mile 3. There is certainly a learning curve there and some etiquette to be taught. Simply stated, this is why I ride alone. I ended up riding alone anyway. 

So, I am probably going back to riding solo for now. I have my reasons and I don't expect everyone to understand. Just know that I don't like being the weakest link. So, I will do what Rocky did: go off the grid and come back ready to stomp some ass.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An old friend, and a new friend

Been nice to be back on the bike. I was at Luton on Friday and back on the bike Monday.

The old friend:

I was wanting to ride on Monday. I gave Matt a shout and we headed to Upper Mac. For a short trail, it really is an asshole. This trail has never been one of my favorites but it is a track that is something to ride where you don't have to worry about getting mowed down by a distracted driver. And it is singletrack....which is the entire point of this blog in the first place.

I only did one full loop because frankly my legs just were giving me the finger. Meaning, zero power. Because of the zero power I nearly tumbled backwards down a steep valley wall because I just didn't quiet have enough to reach the top (for the first time ever). I grabbed at a tree and slowly felt my fingers sliding across the bark....and then feeling air. Thankfully I kept my balance and didn't each shit. Because I would have rolled down the damn hill and probably ended up in a huge pile at the bottom of the hill....without a gopro running. lol. Matt and I went our seperate ways and I headed home having ridden 5ish miles.



Not sure if I have mentioned it or not, but a few guys at work have decided to do a weekly ride. This week was supposed to be the first ride. Nobody else was able to make it so I headed to Ken-o-Sha Park which is less than 2 miles from where I work. I knew it would be short, but I wanted to check it out.


Into the woods and across the bridge is where the Northern trails are located. The bridge is needed because there is a pretty solid creek running thru this area. 


The trail is marked pretty good with some 4x4 posts and arrows. As you come across the bridge there are numerous trails converging. I went straight thru to the second post and headed to the right. Here was a quick little loop that has a few twists and turns to go along with a little kicker before dumping back out by the bridge.


Back down the trail and this time to the left. The trail leads out into the woods on a small incline. If you know the area you might surprised to know that there is indeed a hill back in the park. Much like Upper Mac, there is a single hill that you ride up and down. The entire area around both parks are flat, so I was pleased to find some small climbs in here.


I was also happy with the trail surface. It is what I classify as "normal". lol. The trail has a pretty good flow to it and I was just cruising around enjoying nature with a city piled all around me. You can see from the picture below that it is city and then some random woods. 28th St is on the North side and Kalamazoo is on the East side of the park. The main entrance is off Kalamazoo. You end up parking by the Ken-O-Sha elementary school

So there are three loops on the north side of the paved trail. A short one to the right at the first tee. If you go left at the first T you arrive at an unmarked split. The trail appears to flow to the right, but is very clear to the left as well. The right is the longest of the 3 sections and actually brings you back to the second tee where I decided on left. This medium length loops brings you by the creek and eventually back to the paved bridge. 



Overall I rode for just over an hour. Lots of looking around and trying to sort things out. Exploring if you will. I guess I missed an entire loop on the south side of the pavement. I think that section must be about half a mile more or so. Knowing that I have a trail that close to work is awesome though. I will head there work on handling at speed and cornering. Not much climbing. Just a fun little trail that I can ride all the time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nice Luton Park Ride


For the first time this year I headed to Rockford to one of my favorite trail systems. While I love being in the woods in general, Luton has a little bit of everything. Each loop is just different enough to mix it up. 


My buddy Matt joined me for a loop. It was reaching "hot" levels when we rolled into the woods. In the shade it was comfortable, but the open areas felt hot even when rolling. What felt like a blistering pace was really just...slow. I know I am just getting back into the swing of things....but it is funny how it felt on Friday. 

The actual ride felt fast. My average speed would disagree. But, I don't know if it is from not riding, or just my mass....but the feeling of speed was there. And I will tell you this much...at my current weight....I have some serious inertia. My center of gravity has always been high, but with the extra weight it is even higher, making the handling of the bike totally different. Making how I ride totally different.


Since I was there I decided to head out for another lap. I was about 5 minutes in before I started to wonder if it was such a good idea. My legs just quit. Knowing that I could just ride the inner loop I just kept plugging away. By the time I got thru Yellow I was feeling better. During Orange I was comfortable and then I hit the red. While I was slowing down (due to lack of conditioning) I was still feeling pretty good. I got to the parking lot and I was really happy with my ride.

Progress.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I saw your bike in the woods....

I finally threw my leg over The D.U.F.F. at Fort Custer on Saturday. First time in a month, gotta make sure I don't over do it!

I was already in Kalamazoo helping Lisa out so I decided to put the bike on the back of the truck. We got done with our duties and headed to lunch. After lunch we headed over with Kevin for a slow red loop. 

Things started off well enough. Flashback: last time Kevin and I rode together he ended up in the hospital with a broken collar bone and some broken ribs. He is much stronger and faster now. 

We took off down the red at a blistering pace. By blistering I mean I was at 90% heart rate in about 10 seconds. Doesn't take long when you haven't been riding much.  The odd thing was, I was feeling comfortable. I felt good on the bike. Not fast, but that really isn't the point with the lack of saddle time. After the switchback climb we rode up on a couple of kids that were trying to find the campground. We decided it was best to get them to a good launching point and we rode back toward the trailhead. Once close we sent them on their way down the Yellow towards the campground.

That was when the elder child speaks "are you guys professional mountain bikers?"

LOL, all I could do is laugh. But realizing that Lisa and Kevin were in full team kits that really isn't a bad question from someone not familiar with the sport. I am roughly 100 pounds from my goal weight....I really don't look like a professional. ha.

Anyway, we got them on the right path and shot back down the red trail again. We did Dan's loop and continued on into the amusement park. Right before the rock wall I took the shortcut because I didn't want to climb the next short climb. Wasn't long before Kevin and Lisa caught me. 

We continued into the Crazy Beaver and then I finally saw the parking lot. It was high 80's hot. Overall it was a solid ride for me. I can only do what I can at the weight that I am. I rode. that was the important thing.