I had this whole article written out, with the images still between each page of typed text. When I saved it, it all disappeared. I thought I would share it now, and type it all back later.
Archive for September, 2010
Posted in Humor, tagged Bicycle frame, cobbles, cross bike, cycling, cyclocross bike, fenders, Organizations, Paris-Roubaix, Rain, rain riding, riding in the rain, Road bicycle, road bike, sean kelly, Sports, United States, West Virginia on 09/21/2010| 2 Comments »
I am having a conflict of interest in determining of what to think of cyclists that ride in the rain. Putting miles on the tarmac while the precipitation is on is a job for professional cyclists, but what about for the sportives and enthusiasts? Are we crazy for thinking that our favorite loop ridden in the rain somehow makes us closer to the riders on a Pro Tour team? Does riding in the rain have any advantages that over-weigh any disadvantages? To further investigate this inner struggle of mine, the following issues will be discussed:
- Motive for riding in the rain
- Positive/Negative aspects
- Alternatives? – If any…
First off, why are you wanting to ride in the rain? West Virginia has on average 210 days (+/-15 days) with less than an inch of rain. This means there is more than enough time to ride in perfectly acceptable weather. Why would someone want to expose theirselves to rain? I can understand if you don’t want to miss those much needed training rides, or you hate the trainer; I hate the trainer too. Camaraderie between friends while being exposed to inclimate conditions is also an acceptable circumstance in my opinion. It sucks to miss group rides, and facing something like a rain shower can make it even more fun. All of these reasons are pretty badass, and can be rationalized without looking too crazy…
On the other hand, just because you have visions of cobbles, and self-torture after watching a rainy version of one of the spring classics doesn’t mean you should go out and try to re-enact scenes in your head by riding in the rain… This is where it starts to get silly. You are not Sean Kelly, you do not have a contract; you are not contractually obligated to ride in the rain. Heck, you may not even have the gear or talent to maneuver well enough in the slop that the roads are slathered with during a shower. Your petty dreams of Belgian cobbles are a fantasy in WV, and keep it at that, otherwise you will be placed on my crazy people list.
Okay, so you are kitted up and have your layers on or whatnot. You think you are prepared for the WV roads ahead of you just because you have your cycling cap on, and a pair of knee warmers. What about the grit, the loss of grip on the road? Do you know how to properly thermoregulate while on the bike? Handling? How does your bike change when the roads are muddy, or just overall slick? Are these things you have encountered before, or are you just going out willy nilly; with all concerns being thrown to the wind? If you haven’t done this before, start slow. Don’t pump your tires up before the ride; keep them about 10psi lower than usual. Cut the ride length by about 20-30% for a first rain ride.
Bring a spare tube and co2, and please….. Please tell me you know how to change a tube, and won’t whine about changing it in the rain. I’m already waiting for you to start pedaling again; I don’t really want to hear you complain. If I wanted that, I could have just stayed home and listen to the family complain about the noise my trainer makes.
Also, if you are a newbie rain rider, be sure not to crash into me on the downhills. Prep your brakes before you actually plan to brake by tapping them a few times first. This gets some of the water and muck off the machined lip of the rim, and makes braking a little more effective. Lastly, if you didn’t bring a splashguard, or fenders, stay far enough away from me that I don’t have to be sprayed in the face continuously by the water coming off of your back wheel.
The skills of riding in the rain are pretty common sense, and most people with an IQ level higher than the number of teeth on their outer chainring catch on pretty fast. Just don’t be afraid to slow down if you need to. Better to get home safe, than to have to call for a ride to get back.
Bikes – They’re tools, not jewels.
You should still maintain them like they are a Smithsonian-quality artifact, but don’t be afraid to ride it like you stole it. Pros don’t do a thing with their bikes after they cross the finish line. On the other hand, you do, and will have to be prepared to inspect and clean things appropriately. Make sure rain isn’t going into your seat tube, clean your chain, and get the grime off your drivetrain/pedals, and make sure all of the pivoting parts on the bike are in good shape. If for some awful reason you are riding a steel bike… make sure to bring it inside post-ride. Rust is a terrible thing. Trust me.
Better yet, take your rain bike/cross bike out instead of your main steed. You do have more than one road bike, right?
Depending on the temperature of the rain, you may want to add a layer or so extra clothes to what you are wearing. Just remember to keep your head and core warm, and keep moving. Rain is cold. It will be cold on you. Not much you can do about it. Kit up and don’t complain. You were the one who wanted to go out on a rain ride…
What are the benefits of riding in the rain? Any? The novelty of it is pretty exciting, but once that wears off, what is left? The acquisition of superior bike handling may be the only key element that can be gained from such training. Falling or getting sick due to the weather are the main negative consequences, and the prior is more of an eventuality than a potential consequence. Falling happens, you just have to be ready for it, or be lucky enough to catch yourself.
Even with the threat of looking crazy, having to prepare a bit more, and chances of getting hurt, there aren’t really any alternatives to riding in the rain. Stationary trainers are just about the most unmotivating thing you can do. I think I would rather not ride than ride a trainer. Seriously. As long as it isn’t too cold or intense, get out there and ride in the rain. Keep your awareness up, and enjoy the ride. Stay warm, ride hard, and enjoy being outside.
It was 6:44 PM. Jeff came to my door wanting to know if I wanted to go on a road ride with him. Not wanting to turn down a ride, I kitted up and was out the door in less than five (minutes). As soon as we were on the tarmac, we turned the ride into a hammerfest. Average speed was was about 3.2 kph faster than our typical ride, so immediately, we both knew this ride was business, not some lolligagging group ride. We were only wanting to be out for an hour, and we did 30km, with 610m of climbing. There was also one badass downhill where Jeff hit 80kmh. He caught up to a Subaru Forrester, and I can only imagine what the driver was thinking about with us trailing it at those speeds.
The ride took us around the Sago Mine; you know, where the 2006 Sago Mine disaster happened? While the mine is sealed and flooded, there are still a lot of coal trucks on these back roads. We saw one of these coal trucks for a few miles until we decided to try and catch up to it. Imagine what you saw on the vintage, landmark American cycling film, Breaking Away. Yeah. The speed limit in that area was 35mph, and when we were tired of being hit in the face with dust from its backend, I decided to pass it instead of slow down. YES. We passed a coal truck. I said something about this being a brazen ride, no? We were so pumped about our pace time, that we hammered all the way until the last hill. The coal truck was several hundred meters behind us, so we took a water break, and let the truck accelerate up the hill, in order to gain momentum. We might be crazy, but we’re also courteous.
The last 8km of the ride was ridiculous as ever; we had raced cars, coal trucks, and each other, now we must race the sunset in order to get back home before dark.
Just in case you were wondering, Man 1 : Nature 0.
Sometimes just going out and hurting yourself is a wonderful thing. We rolled through the neighborhoods to get back to campus, and had the biggest grins on our faces, knowing that we had just learned things about ourselves that we may have not known before. For instance, I never knew that I could have a 199bpm heart rate. The typical standard for finding max heart rate is 220 minus your age. 196. I have rarely ever even reached that, let alone 199. This was 104% of my max heart rate. This just shows that we left it all out on the road.
My average heart rate was in Zone 5 the entire time, and numerically averages to 176bpm. This once again reinforces my belief that sometimes really stupid rides are great for you.
Have you ever gone out with your friends and tested each other the entire ride? Added a little bit of fun and competition to the mix, instead of the boring as plain grits no-drop group ride? They’re pretty memorable, no?
I suggest before it gets any cooler out, go on a ride with a friend or two, and just try to rip each other’s legs off. You won’t regret it at all.
Posted in Interview, West Virginia, tagged government, North Fork Trail System, North Fork Trails, Robert Byrd, Shelley Moore Capito, Shelley Moore Capito [R-2], United States, United States Senate, US House of Representatives, West Virginia on 09/17/2010| Leave a Comment »
I contacted my local representatives about Alan Mollohan‘s bill that could potentially disrupt MTB’ing in a large section of the North Fork Trail System.
Shelley Moore Capito‘s office mailed me a letter, and it arrived this morning:
I wasn’t expecting much when I sent these emails to my representatives, but at least she adknowledged my concerns, and displayed her history on past decisions conerning these types of issues.
Posted in Classic Post, cyclocamping, Event, Humor, Sunday, Video, Weekend Post, West Virginia, tagged camping, cobia, cycling, fat tire cycle, gary fisher, hi-fi, hifi, Mountain biking, MTB, Philippi, race course, race to lil moe's, Recreation and Sports, rock gardens, Single track (mountain biking), Sport, Sports, sports & spokes, Thad's Singletrack, Trail Information, United States, West Virginia, WV, WVMBA on 09/12/2010| 3 Comments »
This weekend was a blast; it consisted of some mountain biking, cyclocamping, and going out to Philippi to ride Thad’s Singletrack again. (You know, the WVMBA #6 race I covered)
Laura’s roomate, Amanda, bought a mountain bike over the summer; (probably peer pressure from Laura) and is riding occasionally now. We also had a few other pals come along who rarely ever ride or haven’t ridden in a long time. This has taught me that going fast is easy, but staying back with the pack, and reassuring them on how to control their bikes is difficult, or at least taxing. It is sometimes easy to forget what parts of a trail you had issues with, or how you learned all of those little techniques that allow you to bomb through the singletrack.
Being able to convey those things to other people in layman’s terms without scaring them by saying something like “But don’t go into a really deep, dry rut, since if you oversteer you will crash” will have your bordering on a very thin line… You just can’t say those kinds of things. Yes, they are going to happen, but you don’t want to scare them, yet you want them to develop the skills to still ride with you, and keep the collegiate cycling lineage going. We ended up doing six miles in like an hour and a half. I kept telling myself:
“Stay calm and friendly, don’t scare off the newbs.”
Later that evening, after gathering some supplies and camping gear, Jeff, Laura, and I went back of the woods for a nice little cyclocamping trip. Grant Peterson would have been proud of me, since I came in normal clothes, didn’t wear my cleated-shoes; just my boat shoes, and brought a wool sweater to sleep in. I’m sure his heart would feel warm if he ever read this. Oh, I also decided to bring my cyclocross bike, since I knew I could do all the trails on it, and I could latch on my rear rack to strap all of my camping gear to it. It rocked. I felt like a BA being on a cross bike, going over roots, and hills, and being able to hang with the MTB’s 90% of the time. Good stuff.
We set up camp pretty quickly, and right after that, it became cold. Really cold. Colder than that one ex that cheated on you, then told you about it straight to your-face-cold. What else did you expect us to do other than to sit around a fire, and throw stuff into it while hanging out and talking for a few hours? Check the footage to see the rip-roaring fire~ 😀
Once again, the Wenzel tent used was comfy cozy warm, and did its job well. When I woke up in the morning, I tried to make instant pancakes, but the little optimus pan kept sticking so bad it wasn’t funny. I gave up and ate the rest of the trail mix I had brought. I was really missing the conveinances of a teflon pan right about then. Later that morning, we all hopped out of the woods, went on our way and planned on meeting back on Sunday.
After church, we all met up at Gene’s shop to load our bikes and gear. I brought an icebox full of water bottles, and towels; planning to jump in the Tygart River after the ride. I knew the course was going to be intense with Gene coming with us, but I never expected a pentagenarian, let alone someone a little older than that to slay us… without noticing it! His Gary Fisher HiFi Full suspension devoured the terrain, and left us in his dust.
Almost makes me want to get a full suspension… *suppress such thoughts, be a man!* Maybe I should just HTFU and learn how to ride and control my bike.
See how the tables turn? Friday, Kicking ass. Sunday, Ass = kicked.
Gene did help us out a ton on descents, switchbacks, and the rock gardens that I call Indian burial grounds; they’re mounds and piles of rocks built up in order to ruin your pedals when you climb up them. Video below.
Our trip was a success, and we ended up reinforcing our tradition of jumping in the river. It was much colder than it was
on Thursday (Did a reconnaissance ride with Laura), and I can only imagine it will get colder and colder until it is unbearably frigid, and we all get hypothermia walking back to the vehicle. Jeff on the other hand is a competitive swimmer holding records for the state of WV, and whatnot decided to swim across the river, back, and then all the way out again. He is not human; must investigate further.
All in all, this was a jam-packed weekend that really shows that WV is the place to be to have tons of outdoor activities in your backyard. While the scenery and environment was great, going out and doing things with your friends is better. Building camaraderie, and testing each other’s legs through little camping trips or race courses is a blast.
I hope all of you readers get a jeep full of people out this next weekend and plan something great. I’m sure you deserve it!
Posted in Event, Uncategorized, Video, West Virginia, tagged 720p, Bontrager RXL, cross bike, cross bikes, cycling, Cyclo-cross, cyclocross, cyclocross bike, cyclocross bikes, cyclocross season, eddy merckx, first ride, garmin 500, Garmin Connect, google earth, google maps, hutchinson bulldog, hutchinson tires, kml, kodakzi8, pake, season, Shimano, Sports, the cannibal, Ultegra on 09/08/2010| 1 Comment »
The local crew took me on a ride that may or may not be a local race in the near future. It was grim, demoralizing, tough, treacherous, steep, fast, and fantastic. I called it an indulgent ride, since I was longing to use my off-road skills, for this is the first year that I have owned a cyclocross bike. Barry, he just called the ride masochistic. Indulgence, masochism; I guess it all matters how much you actually enjoy the pain.
Here is the course we took – The elevation profile says it all… While there were a few dips that gave us a break from the constant climbing, it was still uphill 60% of the ride on washed out roads.
The roads… if you can call them that, were great. No only were there gravel sections, but we also encountered mud, animals, rutted out segments, and even parts of abandoned roads that had cracks in the dirt itself… Like some tube eating monster was trying to come out of the earth and attack us.
Check out the video:
My bike held up well, and felt more nimble than I expected. I didn’t fall, and barely had to hike the bike. I came home feeling tired, and slept quite well that night.
I can’t wait to do it again.