Saturday, May 30, 2009

Crash Test Dummy

In the movie The Rock, Nicholas Cage's character says, "The second you stop respecting this stuff -- it kills you." He is referring to nerve gas. As it turns out your seemingly harmless local mountain bike trail has a lot in common with said nerve gas. On the morning of Memorial Day, I headed back to MEQ for another go at it. I had customized my route to cut out some technical switchbacks and add a mile plus stretch through the back part of Maywood. I wasn't a mile in, when my mind started to wander, "If I make one more hill then I did yesterday, I will improve my time." The next thing I remember was watching my front tire sink into 4inch deep mud and come to a stop on a root. This launched me over the handlebar and flipped me into the air. I landed on my right shoulder and rolled onto my back, looking up at the tree-tops and sky just in time to watch my bike land on me! That part of the trail is right on, or immediately below a natural spring that ensures that it is ALWAYS wet and sloppy. In fact, before the WORS race, they dump a load of crushed limestone on it before the race to try and dry it up. By the time practice laps are over -- it's a mess again. I got up and shook it off. At 41 years old, I live with the knowledge that it now takes a month to heal what would have taken a week ten years ago. Luckily, the fore-mentioned mud made for a soft, injury-free landing. I was a mess; but unharmed. My bike, however, snapped a cable stay (or so i thought). So I'd have to do the rest of the ride without my back breaks. I made it up the rest of the killer hills and did shave a little over a minute off my 7-mile ride. When I got home, I washed my bike and had to hose off all my clothes BEFORE i could throw them in the laundry. Just another day at the office!

Memorial Day Weekend/Back to the Local Haunt

Sunday was an amazing day when it comes to 'playing outside'. It started with a 7:30am bike ride and ended when Lori and I pulled out new kayak out of the river at 6:30pm.
My ride was my first trip to my local trail. The ride encompasses three different parks: Evergreen, the Quarry, and Maywood Ecology Center. I'll call it my MEQ ride. It plays host to one of WORS (Wisconsin Off-Road Series) biggest races. It's a nasty trail. Tons of technical crap that slows you up and knocks you down. I hit the trail talking myself down, "Enjoy the ride. Pick a good line. Don't race." I had a decent ride. I made it up 'the puker' (but I didn't throw-up), I intentionally walked a hill, and slick roots kept me from making another hill. The log jump was down-graded over the winter: a fallen tree now forces you around the jump and the water-cossing got harder in the off season. Other then that, it's pretty much the same trail. It was, all around, a respectable first ride. When I got home, Lori, Koval, and I headed to to the beach (via a coffeehouse) to chase seagulls. We cooked out in the afternoon and headed to the river for a couple hours after dinner.

First Trip to the Woods.

On May 19th, I headed to to kettles for the first run of my favorite trail. Unfortunately my trail was closed. I rode a different path that i was unfamiliar with and didn't have a great ride.
It never fails. I spend a chunk of sping riding a nice 10-mile route around town. Patiently waiting for the trails to dry. Along the lake, in and out of the river valley, a nice not-too-boring route through town. It's nice.....but it's NOT the woods. 2.77 miles into the kettle trail, i was puking over my handlebars. My cardio and lungs can never seem to get in shape as quickly as my legs. Lessons learned.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mr Repair Man

When I was 12 or 13, my father and I built my first road bike from the ground up. We started with a $10 police auction bike and spent the winter creating my first real ride. That bike lasted a few years until I got a new Royce Union bike that weighed about 45lbs! I pampered that bike season in and season out. Every spring, my friend Jim and I would field strip our bikes and re-grease the fittings and clean and oil everything that couldn't be re-greased. The reason I bring up my credentials, is because today I realized I'm an idiot. I am now 41 and can barely figure out how to put air in my tires! I have three bikes and can do most of the basics. Or at least I feel I can. I still get looks at the bike store for what I consider repairs the average guy can't do. I may be wrong. Last weekend I crashed. A spectacular crash that I will elaborate on later. The spill left me without rear brakes for the rest of the ride because I snapped a cable stay. Today I brought my bike to my favorite shop because I don't have the means...or the will, to re-string a cable. I walked in to the shop and Harley, the owner, came out and asked "What's up?" After I told him, he reached down and found the cable-stay still on the cable. It had snapped free and simply slid down. An observant 6 year old could have fixed it. Now, if only I rode with a 6 year old!