Monday, July 30, 2012

One is all you Need

"Fixed gear is not ideal for all circumstances, however. A fixed gear is not well suited for seriously hilly terrain, and, more importantly, is not good for technical mountain biking. A mountain biker in difficult terrain must be able to control when each pedal is down, to avoid striking a pedal on rocks, logs or other obstructions. Similarly, jumping over obstacles is much more difficult on a fixed gear." - Sheldon Brown.

I wish I would have read the above quote by the ultimate Guru of Cycling, before I hit the trails on my newly build up fixed gear mountain bike.  But as usual, I did not read any assembly directions or watch any You Tube videos.   I just finished assembling a "project bike" of mine that started over five years ago.  Yes I said five years.  I bought this Lucky Strike Airborne Ti frame with the intention of building up a Fixed Gear mountain bike.  I have ridden/raced single speeds for many years (with great success I might add :-)) and even spentd several winters training on a fixed gear road bike.  But I had never ridden a "fixie" off-road.

My project almost did not get completed.  Several years ago Gerard needed a bike to ride since he had just broken his.  I said he could use my Lucky Strike until he got a new one.  A couple of years later she gets returned and the project finally gets completed.

The Airborne is not designed as a single speed, but thanks to an ENO hub converting any bike to one gear is a breeze.  Both Christopher and I took a few short trips in the neighborhood, but Sunday was my first time riding a fixed gear off-road.  Yes, I am no longer a fixed gear virgin.  Why I kept my virginity so long is beyond me because Mr. Brown was indeed correct.   One gear, fixed at that, is all you really need to have fun riding your mountain bike.

I must confess I was kind of excited driving up to Smithville with Carolynn.  Not because Christopher is gone for two weeks either.  I remember how much fun I had riding my fixed gear on the road many years ago.  I had given up riding a fixed gear because of some knee problems, but decided to give it another shot only this time in moderation.

The first couple of miles I only rode the easy trails at Smithville Lake.  I noticed right away the amount of concentration that you need to have while riding fixed. You really have to be aware of everything, from that root that is sticking up that might grab your pedal to that creek crossing that requires a smooth line because you can not coast nor raise the front wheel as easy over that big slippery rock.   Descending rocky terrain takes a special skill in itself and a lot of nerve.  All in all, I felt totally connected to the bike and my riding experience was so pure.  I had so much fun and did not want to stop, but knew I should stop while I was ahead.

I still can not get over how observant I was out there on the trail.   From the smells of the trees to the noises of the animals.  I could hear my wheels rolling over the leaves and broken twigs.  There was no sound coming from a derailleur.  No sound of brakes when I needed to slow down - I used my legs to slow down.  I can not wait to hit the next trail system on my Lucky Strike Fixie.  I know I will not be able to ride all the technical trails in our area, but I do know I'll have fun trying.

One word of caution, using your legs to brake can be very taxing on your legs and ligaments.  My hamstrings are very tender today.  No pulls or anything like that, but I could tell I used em :-)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maple Leaf City Triathlon Report

Today I ventured over to Baldwin City, Kansas for the 1st Annual Maple Leaf City Triathlon.   This is the 5th new triathlon that has been added to our regional calendar this year.  This is good news for the sport of triathlon.  Having big events like the Kansas 1/2 Ironman is nice, but it is the grassroots events that really make a sport grow.  I put this event on my calendar earlier this year as a "C" event when my good friend Gerard, a Baldwin City resident, sent me the flyer.  I am glad I did because I had a fun time. The event was well organized, had chip timing by Raceday Timing Solutions and Dick Ross and Kevin Gray from Seekcrun were on hand taking photos.  After the race a full buffet of goodies awaited everyone. 

The swim was very short, possibly the shortest swim I have ever completed in a triathlon.  The city pool only has a 6 lanes at 25 yards so 150 yards was the distance.  I have a swim PR in a triathlon - 2:27 :-)

All kinds come out for triathlons.  Check out the guy above getting ready for cylocross.   As for me, my T1 went very well.  I have my transitions down good and got out with the 2nd fastest overall T1 time of the day.  The time included the run from the pool and the run after we exited the transition.  My only problem  came after I got on the bike at the "Mount" line.  For the life of me I could not get my foot into my left shoe.  I think I am going to try this rubber band trick I saw a few months ago.  I need something to fix my cranks in one position

This was a training event for me so I was really not mentally ready to push myself really hard.   Once my heart rate got up and I was rolling well my mind started to wonder some on the hills when the effort got really hard.  A few "focus you dumb ass" thoughts got me going somewhat.  What did not get me going was my breakfast.  I mistakenly ate this delightful breakfast casserole that my lovely wife Carolynn made for us.  I took a risk that eating at 5:00 am would allow enough time for digestion. I am here to tell you that  Fluffy eggs and bacon take longer that 2 1/2 hours to digest.  I was able to keep the effort high enough to get the fastest bike split in my division.  I kept pace with overall winner Brandon Simpson on the first half of the bike, but was unable to push myself as hard as I went out on the return trip back to Baldwin City.

Another good transition with only a slight problem getting my wet foot into my shoes.  Once out to T2 I tried to settle into a good running pace that would allow me to finish strong.  Speaking of finishing, we got to finish up in Baldwin Stadium on the track.  That was cool.  Just check out the little guy above who competed in the kids triathlon.  He seems to agree with me.  Run was not good.  The lack of running intervals again showed its ugly head.  Despite my slow run I held on to finish 1st (out of 16)  in the Male 40 - 49 division and 4th overall out of 103

Next week is either the Cowboy Up triathlon in Smithville or the Big Ring Ranch MTB Enduro.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Knife Fight

I am getting ready for bed after a long day of work and training (running intervals and swimming). I am tired and looking forward to a good nights rest.  As I walk to my room,  I see Christopher go into the bathroom with a grimace look on his face holding his leg.  I ask what is wrong and he says "I have been in a knife fight.....and I lost".

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Win # 3 at Wyco

Christopher made it 3 wins in a row at this mornings round #7 of the UFD West series - Colavita Cross Country Challenge.  For his efforts he got a used cog w/chain and two packages of pasta.  He was a happy camper and appeared pleased with his effort.   

His form is coming along nicely.  I guess I can still do one thing correctly - call me Coach Locke.  I was actually a little worried when he opted to race the Haro Mary Single Speed at the Wyco trails.  It is a heavy beast, but handles very well.  I think he wanted to notch a win on her - she did take the win at the 1st Annual Bone Bender with this old man at the helm so I guess the old Mary still has it.

I took a little more than 225 photos.  Some good, some bad.  Link is below..

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heat Kills - Tips to Survive

I will confess that I do not like the summer months here in the Midwest.  Why I listened to Carolynn and moved here from Florida is beyond me.  I remember her saying something about seasons and cooler summers and watching leaves change colors.  Well I would just assume be color blind as spend another year here.  The summers in Kansas City are some of the worst I have ever experienced. I can only recall a few that are worse including one spent in Laural Hill, FL and one in North Carolina - both while racing motocross in full gear.

My troubles with heat had their beginnings back in the late70's/early 80's.  Back then I actually liked the heat.  As a kid I used to climb into my parents 1976 Lincoln, roll up the windows and proceed to bake myself in the summer months.  Our family car acted like a greenhouse, trapping the sun's heat and bringing the temps inside into the 120's.  Basically it was my own personal sauna.  I would stay in that car for up to an hour for no particular reason other than to see how long I could stand the heat.  At the time it actually felt good I guess.  Years later I would use the same technique to try and acclimate myself to the heat for motocross racing.  Needless to say it did not work and by the end of moto's during the summer months I would tear off my gear as quick as possible and head to the nearest source of water.  I wished I new about ice baths back then. 

I stepped away from motocross and ventured into the sport of Triathlon, but my loathing of heat continued to a near death experience.  On a hot summers day, back in 1990,  while competing in the Florida Challenge Triathlon (1/2 Iron man Distance) I experience Heat Stroke first hand.   If it was not for the medical crew that attended to me while I laid along that hot road I would most likely be dead right now - my core temperature above 105 degrees.   After that event I was never the same and have had long term complications dealing with heat.  That is why I do not race nor ride much in the heat anymore.  My body just can not take it and it is just not worth dying over as reported in . There are two types of Heatstroke.  "Exertional" is the type us active folk need to worry about because it can be deadly to those that decide to participate in the heat.

My 10 tips for riding/racing in the heat:
  • Acclimate - workout in the heat at a lower-than-normal intensity.  Cool stuff happens including increased plasma proteins and increased sodium chloride retention.
  • Hydrate! Drink plenty,but be careful not to drink to much.  Water intoxication and hyponatremia are side effects of too much H2O.  Begin hydration well before a planned workout/event - like two to three days.
  • Replenish those lost minerals - Hammer Endurolytes are great. 
  • Wet your clothing.  Why? Water is 25 times more conductive than air, as the water evaporates from your clothing, the captured heat is removed with the water. 
  • Pour cold water over your head.  This has helped me numerous times. Keeping that core temperature down is the key.
  • Consume ice cold water during the ride.  Freeze a water bottle, as it melts then you have a supply of ice cold water. 
  • Stay cool. These cool vest are the ticket. I have also used ice bags placed in my jerseys and around my neck.  A bandana soaked in ice cold water does wonders. 
  • Back the pace down, way down.  This may be one of the most important tips. Forget about PR's or maintaining certain mile splits.  By all means, cease the activity if you experience any symptoms of heat exhaustion (fatigue, weakness, nausea, chills,  headache, dizziness)
  • Shorten your warmup prior to races. 
  • Don't do it.  I only add this because I wish many times that I would have just gone  for a swim or anything other than race in the heat. 
One good item that training in the heat may do.  It may improve our performance in the cold.  Check out this article in the NYTimes.

Good luck and stay cool!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Motivation to Race

Christopher got a package in the mail on Saturday. Truman Lake Bikes, the promoters of the 2012 Missouri State Mountain Bike Championships, sent him his championship jersey.  Fits very well.  Thank you guys so much.  Can he add a cyclocross championship this year?  I think receiving the jersey gave him some motivation and he asked if he could use my new Ritchey Swiss Cross bike this year or buy him one also.  He may have to get an old better cross bike because this kid crashes way to much and I can not afford it

I have had a Go Pro for a couple of months, but have not use it yet.  Below is my first go at it.

Riding at Smithville with the Go Pro

We ventured out to ride Wyco this week.  A very well designed and maintained trail system by the Trail Masons .  At first I thought Christopher would not enjoy the trails because they are not rocky - he seems to like rocks and more technical trails.  I thinking training on a rigid single speed has caused him to appreciate nice flowing smooth single track :-)   Another benefit of Wyco is that not to may rides know about it and do not ride it.  That means we have all the trails to ourselves.  Well, us and a few of trail runners

 I think Christopher has been watching to much of the TdF. 

Today we meet up with Tige and Damian.  Neither have been to Wyco yet and both enjoyed the trails.  Above is what Christopher ended up with trying to keep up with full suspension bikes on a rigid single speed. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Photos of Colorado

We made it back to Kansas City a few days ago. We all miss the mountains already so much. I have personally been looking for jobs out in Colorado and have found several of interest. Maybe it is time to move on...

Here is the link to photos from our trip to Colorado.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kenosha to Georgia Pass

The family headed  to Colorado over the July 4th holiday week to get in some great rides and visit our good friends Ben and Allison Reeves. 

Day 1 was a short trip over to ride Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass. If you are ever out around Denver be sure to do this ride.  You can do both the North and South routes for a total of about 48 miles.  Be ready for plenty of climbing, awe inspiring descents through hillside meadows and dense forest.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of technical features found on this section of the Colorado Trial.  The climbing was tough for this Florida boy and his son, but we were rewarded with breathtaking views atop Georgia Pass and Continental Divide -we topped out at 11,585 feet
Carolynn, Christopher and I getting ready for our days adventure. 
Atop Kenosha pass Christopher is ready for a fun descent through beautiful aspen stands and the meadow below.
Some fun creek crossing awaiting us along with cool mountain streams.

One of the many technical sections along the Colorado Trail.

After about 45 minutes of climbing we break and check out where we just came from below.

Christopher climbing up to Georgia pass.

The timberline approaches (~11,500)  where it is getting very hard to breath.

Our first mountain top ride.  It was awesome.

Christopher checks out the view of Breckenridge.

Views like this make me want to move out to Colorado.

Christopher was very happy to reach the summit.  Now time for the fun descent.

Christopher bombed the descent.  He could hardly move his hands by the time he reached the meadow below.

Try as we might, we were unable to clean this muddy/rocky section. 

Very fun to descend, not so fun to climb back up with temps in the high 90's. That was a tough climb especially when you are out of water :-)

My dream home.