Sunday, February 24, 2008

I got sunshine on a really cold day...

Thanks to the sunny skies and dry roads I was able to get out today and yesterday. Both days were right around 37 miles over a couple hours.

Saturday had around 900 feet of climbing on the east side, along with the company of John E. and Dave S., among others. We went east from First Baptist Church on Fairmount, then hit the bricks and headed out Music St. past the Chagrin River before looping back and climbing up Old Mill Rd. on the return trip.

Today I headed out with Matt O. and John V. down into the Valley Parkway from my place in Lakewood. I've always been a fan of the Parkway ride, as it's flat, scenic, and the cars are mostly used to bikes on the road.

Unfortunately that's going to be my last ride for a few days. According the mechanics at Bike Authority, the star-fangled nut that brings my fork, headset, and frame together as one is loose and is in need of re-gluing. Since I don't want to pull a George at Mid Ohio next weekend, the bike is going in tomorrow morning for some much needed TLC, and won't be back until Wednesday. Until then I'll just have to run the stairs at work...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I think so Brain, but if Jimmy cracked corn, and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?

Proof once more that some people have entirely too much time on their hands...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?

The time has come to make my new mountain bike no longer a single speed. There shall be pictures, as soon as I track down my camera...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Bunny says, "Mountain Biking is painful and fun!"

Since I started cycling in earnest four years ago, I've never had a mountain bike. And while I had a mountain bike throughout high school, I never took it off road. So tonight was an interesting time for me; I took my very first real mountain bike to Ray's Indoor MTB Park and tried it out. Good times were had by all.

It all started at the last SBR meeting; Chad, one of the team members, mentioned that he had a couple mountain bikes he wanted to get rid of for a smokin' good price; as Chad is roughly my height, I took him up on his offer for one of them (a Santa Cruz Chameleon, set up as a single speed). Not wanting to waste money on something I couldn't use, my only option for trying it out was to take it to Ray's. I guess I could have taken it out into the 5" of snow, but somehow I doubt that would have been the experience I was looking for.

Before I left for Ray's, my friend Jim warned me that he heard reports that it was "sickly technical" even for someone at the expert level. After carefully considering this warning for all of 10 seconds, I opted to go anyway; I mean, what's a broken jaw and some wood burn? Besides, the website said they had a Beginner's Area. That means lots of stuff for wimps like me who have this crazy fear of falling over, right?

Ray's beginner area was, at first, terrifyingly difficult. For those who have never been, the room has a circuit around the outside edge, along with some alternate routes through the middle, some practice logs and boards off to the right, and a rock garden pretty much down the middle. The part which left me shivering was the merge with the Gary Fisher XC Loop that runs around the outside edge. The folks who know what they're doing get dropped in from the main room just after the beginners entrance, and they were going much, much faster than me. And were more stable. And riding shinier bikes. In cooler looking kit. All this made me a little shaky. Having a white-knuckle death grip on the bike didn't help, either.

After about 20 minutes of riding the outer circuit, I started to try the boards in the middle. Imagine a balance beam, but crooked, and not level. Around this time, Allison and Geoff rolled in; I also managed to make it across the beginner's beam for the first time. They cheered, and we started talking. They gave me some pointers on how not to die, the most important one being, "You're more likely to hurt yourself and break the bike if you're worried about breaking the bike and getting hurt. Just relax, ride, and when you fall pick yourself up, kick your bike, and get back to riding." This was, quite possibly, the best advice I've gotten in a very long time. I started having fun after that; I tried the rock garden, and got through it on the second try. After a while we went to try the XC loop, which was a lot of fun.

At some point on the XC loop I slipped a pedal and took a few chunks out of my left shin. I also grabbed my front brake in a panic on the beginner loop and did an endo 45 minutes in. This brings me to the part of the blog where I discuss what I learned. 1.) Wear long pants or use clipless pedals while riding. 2.) Front brake checks are bad; avoid them.

Now it's time to order some Eggbeaters...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Road Riding in February

I decided today that I've had enough of the trainer. Black ice be damned (yeah, I know the temp was above freezing today, but never underestimate Cleveland), I was going to ride outside before work. In my 40 minute ride down the Valley Parkway I discovered two things. The first is that Jim might have something with that ski goggle idea. The second is that feeling in my toes is a good thing, and that perhaps some neoprene shoe covers would be a good investment; apparently shoes designed for keeping feet cool work as well (better, even!) in the winter as in the summer. Aside from losing feeling in my toes for a bit, it was a good ride; I forgot how good getting outside feels.