Saturday, August 20, 2011

Race Day!

So yeah. Today was the Absolute Bikes Old Fashioned Mountain Bike Race, to benefit the St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance.

Exe was nice enough to be my transport to and from the race, and hung out while I was pedaling to watch. Before the race, I asked if he had any bets as to what I would break today... frame, fork, taco a wheel, maybe. He said I'd taco the frame pump. Wouldn't that be interesting...

So, after getting all registered, and waiting an hour and a half, (We got there good and early) which gave plenty of time for the nerves to set in, the race started, and everyone bolted. I quickly fell back through the field, and settled into my own pace, which was significantly slower than everyone else.

The first lap went fairly well. No one passed me, and I even managed to pass a couple people. I paced myself, and spent some more time figuring out the new suspension fork, which settings would be best for climbing, flats, downhill, technical, et cetera.

I have to stop here, and just say how awesome having a suspension fork is. I never realized how much the rigid fork was beating me up. I'd have some pretty good fatigue going in my arms and shoulders about 20 miles into a good ride, but with the suspension fork, riding over 30 miles in a race, I had none of that. Not to mention how much faster I was on the downhills.

Lap two started off well, as well. I had a second wind for the climb up the road, and managed that fairly well. I ended up getting passed by a couple people, but they were in the teen race. Never mind that even if they were doing the full race, they'd still wipe the floor with me. But oh well. About half way into the second lap, I had my first new-fork related crash. (Woo!)

I came around a turn, and planted the front wheel against a rock. I wasn't leaning back far enough, so the fork squished all the way, and pivoted bike and rider over the wheel, neatly depositing us on the trail. I don't know how, but I came off it completely unscathed. I didn't even get my jersey dirty. I just remember the crash, then immediately picking up the bike and riding on, as the guy behind me shouted "That was impressive!" The rest of the second lap was spent building my confidence back up.

The third lap was a long hard struggle. It was long, it was hard, and it was a struggle. The road felt steeper, the singletrack climb was brutal and longer, and the downhill left me with shaking legs that wanted to bounce off the pedals like a sewing machine needle. Never mind I had already ridden it twice today, it felt like a completely different and foreign trail. It was a grind. I didn't see many people. I finished the lap with not much left in me. I was glad it was my last lap.

I finished the race!

My plan was to take it easy on the first two laps, and give the last lap everything I had. I did just that, but when it came to the third lap, I didn't have much left to give. But I finished! That was my main goal. My soft goal was to finish in three hours and 30 minutes, but I didn't care so much about that as just finishing.

So, Exegete and I packed up the bike and went home. I showered, hydrated, and had a soda, and felt good enough to hop on STeve and ride to the awards party downtown.

Cool clouds on the way to. First chance I'd had all day to look up, really.

I hung out with the real racers, ate pizza, watched trophies get handed out, and talked. Unfortunately I didn't get my race time there, due to a bit of a snafu. It didn't matter. I might have been last, (I was sure of it.) but I finished!

So imagine my surprise when I got home, and looked up the race results online?

Specifically, the class I was in?

9   837 KEVIN OKON            99    3 3:23:42

9th place, out of 11. I wasn't last! and I finished in 3:23! Faster than my 3:30 goal.

I'm tired, I know I'll be sore tomorrow, but I feel good. I gave it my best, and finished a race. I feel strangely accomplished for having ridden around in circles. Very tough, challenging circles.

And I didn't even taco my frame pump.
Mileage: 42.2 (33.8 raced on Tri, 8.4 moseyed on STeve.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Concessions to Modern Technology.

I like to think that I like to keep things simple. Though, sometimes in my quest for simplicity, I overcomplicate things, but that's beside the point. I like simplicity.

Take, for instance, my mountain bike. One gear, no suspension. Much like how bicycles were 100 years ago. Dependable. Very little to go wrong. Good stuff. Tri was much like bikes of yore, only a little lighter.

Was? What did I do to Tri?

Examine this artistic picture of Tri I took earlier this evening:

Can you see it?

Yep, you are correct. I added a disc brake. I figure, I have these nice wheels I built with disc ready hubs, why not put a disc brake on Tri? Of course, this does deviate from the simplicity of rim brakes, but I still have one on the rear, so if the disc up front eats itself, I still have my old reliable rim brake in the back to stop me.

Of course... to add this disc brake, I had to replace the fork, as Tri's original fork didn't accept discs. So, why not replace it with a suspension fork?

A little more of my treasured simplicity flutters out the window.

So, what's with all this, then?

Well, you may remember last year around this time, I signed up for a little mountain bike race, and proceeded to bash in a pedal. Well, I'm signed up again this year, in what is sure to be a fail of epic proportions. Once again, as it was last year, my only goal is to finish. I'm in no way prepared for this, but I'm better prepared this year than I was last year. Last year, I signed up the day before the race. This year, I'm two weeks early. Last year, I had never ridden on the trails the race takes place on. This year, I've already pre-ridden the course, and have a strategy to try to maintain my awareness. Last year I only did two laps before breaking my ride. This year... we'll see.

All of this doesn't mean I plan on doing well. My mantra last year was "Hey, I already know I'll finish last. I just don't want to slow your race!" This year, my mantra is "Well, someone's gotta bring up the rear. Might as well be me!"

Feel free to come laugh at me at the race. It's this coming Saturday, the 20'th.

So! Having updated Tri a bit this afternoon, I took him out for a test ride around Soldier's Loop, at Fort Tuthill. A test ride I decided to do at race pace. Mostly. I did stop to take some pictures of the sunset-lit clouds.

By the time I put my camera away, the color was gone.

Learning to ride with suspension is going to take some getting used to. I have a lot of habits to change. However... the disc brakes? They feel smoother, but that's about it. Other than that, I can't tell a difference.

Mileage: probably around 12 or so. (Tri's speedometer wire broke in the fork swap.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The bikes wait.

If the lack of bloggery has been any indication, I've been slacking some in my riding. This'll happen, especially when you couple overtime with moving. That's not to say I haven't been riding my bikes, just not as much as I'd like. That's one thing about my bikes... as Big Jonny over at DC said, the bike will wait for you.

So what have I been doing?


I gave Bi a bath, which consisted of wheeling him outside the shop at work when a thunderstorm packing some driving rain rolled through.

"Zest-fully clean!"

Then Henry and I went shopping, and brought home a ladder. I always seem to get the same cashier at Home Depot, who always asks me "You're on a bike, right? How are you going to get this home?" There's only one answer for that...
"I have a really cool bike."

Earlier this week, I tempted the weather and played "Dodge the Thunderstorms" with STeve. Though oddly, I found myself riding towards them more often than not. It was hot out, I wanted the rain!
But that's where home is!

Sorta ominous looking...

Southern end of Upper Lake Mary.

Not so ominous now, eh?

This brings us to today, and the last bike that I hadn't ridden yet. So this morning, I woke up, ate breakfast, then pulled Tri off the wall. A little work, some grease, some oil, and we rolled out for a mountain bike ride. I hadn't been on my Walnut Canyon/Arizona Trail loop since the last time I wrote about it, and I had decided it was about time. It's been a month short of a year, almost. Time flies.

It didn't take long for me to get to the parts that remind me why I love these trails as much as I do:

Rolling out of Skunk Canyon.


Lots of paintbrush this time.



Usually this field is yellow with sunflowers... today it was red. Awesome.

I ended up bailing early on the ride. The lack of substantial riding has really kicked my endurance, so I decided to point my bike towards home while I was still enjoying the ride. I think it was a good call. I got home, and put Tri up on the wall, where he will wait patiently until next time.

And I will look forward to it.
Mileage: 33.3 (in 3 hours and 33 minutes moving time. No joke!)