Sunday, July 31, 2011

Indiana Mountain Biking.....Fast and Fun

The verdict is in....They know how to make mountain bike trails in Indiana!  If you live anywhere near Indiana, you need to try these trails out.  As Ohio residents, we don't get a lot of "flowy" trails.  We have some technical trails, and some hilly trails, but nothing like we experienced this weekend!

Our ride started out with  Versailles State Park, which was one of the best tracks I have ever ridden.  This trail provided 15+ miles of fast and "flowy" trails as well.  The only challenge with this trail system, was that it was extremely dry and dusty.  The corners were extremely loose due to the dryness; however it didn't slow us down too much!  We rode this trail in close to 100 degrees temperature and the humidity was nasty!  With that being said, this place was awesome and 15 miles didn't seem to bother us to bad, although we did push one rider to his limits.

From there we drove another hour west to our next stop and campsite!  Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised to see we were sleeping here..Pizza, poker, and beer and oh, 6 hours of pounding rain took us through the night!

Believe it or not, there are actually some decent hills in Indiana; it is not as flat as I had previously thought.  We found this out on Saturday with our next ride at Brown State Park..  These trails are set up so well and flows so fast, that you never really feel like you are climbing.  At Brown County State Park you can easily ride 20 miles with very little pain of climbing, but lots of sweet jumps and fast flowy single track!  However, beware of "Schooner Trail" or Death Valley as I call it.  This bad boy is 4.5 miles of hell!  A double black diamond trail that includes boulders, off camber ridge riding with 50+ foot drops, ridiculous log crossings, boulders,  bridges, briars, sick climbs, sharp switchbacks, more boulders, eroding trails, and oh yeah, even more boulders!  I couldn't even get pictures of this trail because I was to busy cursing, sweating, walking, carrying my bike on back, dodging rocks, watching out for rattle snakes, cursing, and praying that someone would put me out of my misery!

 As tough as Schooner Trail was though, the rest of the the trail was the best I have ever ridden.  The rain Friday night made the trail tacky but still fast and we were able to fly.  We did however, take our fair share of breaks, it was 90+ degrees outside and humid as I have ever felt. 

 Even after the climbs, he was still smiling!

Another one with a smile after a climb!

Not sure about this guy.  No smile, just all business!

A tree falls down in the woods, what do they do with it..they just made a bridge out of it! 

 This was an awesome two day ride.  Although every single one of us is in some major pain (cramping, chaffing, bruises, scrapes, and slight dehydration, we all would do it again in a heartbeat.  (except for death valley).  I cannot overstate how sweet these trails are to ride.  If you get the chance,take it, you will not regret it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

God Bless My Smokin' Hot wife...Boogety Boogety Boogety

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Broken Giant Update

Not much to report today other than the fact both Roll and Giant still do not have any answers for me on an eta for the fix on the Yukon.   Most likely, it will be a couple more weeks at the earliest before anything is fixed.  Since I have a potential weekend ride plan next weekend in Indiana, I thought it would be a good idea to shake things up a bit and see what I could get for a demo. 

Initially, I believe I was either given bad information from the shop, or they gave me the right info, and just didn't understand my circumstances.  Either way, I was told I could get a demo for a day and would have to return right away.  Not very  convenient for an out of town ride.  So I checked with Trek and they are willing to hook me up with a Trek Fuel EX9.  On top of that, they will let me have it for the weekend.  Not a bad deal, since it is a freaking sweet bike!

After talking to Trek, I went back to Roll to get my Candy pedals for the Trek, and Roll offered me a deal on a Niner for as long as I needed it at no cost.  However, it is a hard tail, so I need to think that one through a bit.  It would be nice to be able to keep up with the guys, even though I would be cheating with the 29er!

Hitting Brown and Versailles in Indiana.  These two tracks are fast!   Cant wait!

Update 1:  Giant will be fixed by Friday; not in time for weekend ride

Update 2:  Going to take the Fuel ex9 for the weekend!  Will be a sweet ride!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh Snap! Giant down!

It was bound to happen.  Sooner or later, something had to give.  210 pounds of Endo, or the frame on the Giant.  Today, it was the Giant and it snapped in a big way!

I started out my ride today from my garage and hit the roads a little bit to get to Alum beach!  From there, I rode the top of the dam, over to the beginner course at Alum Creek.  I did a half lap there, and jumped onto Phase 1.  I was feeling good, and riding fat and intent on turning a good time on my scheduled 17 mile ride.  About 5 miles into Phase 1, I passed a few slower riders and was really moving.  I crossed a small bridge and jammed up a quick hill and then SNAP.  Something went seriously wrong.  I dismounted, and tried to figure it out, but I just couldn't figure it out.  The derailleur was still  working and for the life of me, not a clue.  I flipped the bike over and then I saw it!  The break was pretty clear and I realized I was pretty screwed.  About 6 miles away from the house, 90 degrees and the water in my Camelback
was running low!  Even though I had the cell phone, I couldn't get a hold of Jen so I started hoofing it.  I made it out of the woods and onto the rode where a fellow mountain biker picked my up and took me closer to my house.  I still had about a mile and half walk from where he dropped me off, but it did help! 

Still not sure what and why it happened, but it was an experience.  Looks like I will be making a trip to Roll tomorrow for a warranty check up!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vultures Knob Rematch

As you my recall, I have only been mountain biking for a little over a year.  I started riding Alum Creek last year in May and spent my entire summer on P1 and P2.  At the end of the season, I ventured out of my comfort zone a bit, and went riding with a friend at Vultures Knob.  The name doesn't do this place enough justice.  It is truly insane in terms of obstacles and down hill challenges. Last year, on my one and only visit, I made it about 5 miles, before I almost passed out (could have been hangover induced), and gave up.   The course is roughly 7 miles long.  At that time, I vowed I would get revenge.   Yesterday that day came!

The clubhouse at the start

We got to the course around 9 am to beat the heat and get back for a nice day with the family.  Our plan was to do two 7 mile laps and call it a day.  We met up with our third rider, who actually had already completed a lap.  We should have know something when we saw all the blood on his leg.   As it turns out, he laid his bike down trying to go under this bridge (which by the way is straight down).
Expert bridge obstacle

We got through this obstacle as well as may others (the glass highway, the maze, the furnace, the cradle etc.  We were both feeling pretty good and hit a second lap.  I guess we should have thought this one through a bit, as add in heat, tired legs, and an unfamiliar trail, and you know trouble will happen.  It did!  As I was leading the way down through a series of technical challenges, I was carrying a little too much speed, and took a nice trip over the handlebars.  The bike ended up scarring up a tree pretty good, and I ended up in a ravine filled with mud!  Not pleasant.  In addition to the blood from the cuts and scrapes, the mud acted as a fantastic bug and mosquito magnet for the remainder of the ride.  Quite the site and  smell.

After dusting myself off, fixing the Giant and warning several other riders of the pending crash site, we preceded on and had a great but careful ride.  Two laps done, no lunch tossing, and happy to have gained some vengeance on the hill that truly introduced me to real mountain biking.  If you get the chance and you want a challenge, you need to ride here.  Check out Vultures Knob for a piece of this action.

Cradle, picture says it all.
 This last picture is a photo of the Cradle.  Basically a straight drop down, bridging across a gulley, followed by a sweet uphill launch that shoots you up the hill.  Best part is, the ground comes up to you instead of the opposite.  Scary at first, but what a thrill.

These were not my pictures; I borrowed them from Vulture's Knob website.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time Trial Alum

Got a surprise Tuesday night at the team ride.  As we gathered to put in a couple laps around Alum Phase 2, we found out C.O.M.B.O was there and helping with some time trials.  Since I am new to the race thing, I thought what the hell, why not.  Might be fun!  So,I got in line with the rest of the riders, and took my turn at a fast lap.   Needless to say, I was riding a little extra hard, and made quite a few mistakes.  The last one even sent me over the handlebars into a classic ENDO!  Proud to say however, I had my fastest lap to date and I was very proud of the ride.  We even followed up the time trial with an up tempo team lap, which most likely was my second fasted lap ever!  It was nice to be able to run with the guys for a change instead of bringing up the rear and making the others wait!  I guess saddle time does make a difference!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Practice Lap For Alum Creek Race

In case I haven't mentioned it yet, I have been training aggressively( at least for me) for my first mountain bike race in August.  The race will be at Alum Creek State park and will consist of  novice, intermediate and expert groupings.  You can probably guess which one I am racing in...Since I haven't done this before, I do not know exactly what to expect, so I have been training hard so I don't make a fool of myself. 

Monday morning, I was able to get out about 7 am and get a ride in on what will be the lap for the novice riders.  It is basically a 12 mile trip starting at Alum Creek Beech, crossing over the top of the damn to Africa Road, a half lap around the intermediate trail by P1, one lap around P1, back around second half intermediate lap, then back across damn and finish back at the beach.  Let's just say, it was a nice ride this early in the morning, especially since I got it in before the heat and humidity rolled in.  The only problem, was that P1 was still a mess from the Saturday rains.

Not knowing what to expect, I was pretty damn happy with my time, given the trail conditions and the earliness of the day.  My ride partner didn't show for the ride so I had no one pushing me.  Maybe next time I will be able to ride a little harder and stretch myself now that I have a time to compare against! 

I will not finish dead last in this thing!  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mohican Quickie

Fourth of July weekend continued to provide great opportunity for some sweet riding.  After my 26 miles I put in on Friday, four of us from the Back Room Coffee Racing bike team got together and took a trip up to Mohican State Park.  At the time of our departure, we were getting dumped on pretty good by rain, but we decided to take a chance and make the hour 20 minute drive up north to see what we could get into.  2 cars, four guys, and hopes for a nice ride.  Since we had two cars when we got there, we decided to shuttle and do 15 miles, instead of the entire loop.  The rain was still coming down off and on, and we thought it would be muddying up the trail a bit.

Of we went, with me in my usual spot in the rear.  With a start at mile marker 15, right out of the gate we got into some sweet riding through pine forest.  Believe it or not, it was actually fairly dry and really really fast.  It was fast right up unto the road crossing at 19, where we had to cross a wooden bridge coming out of the woods.  The wood on the bridge was like Ice and Rob crashed out big time, actually breaking shifter, as well as clips on his shoes.  After 10 minutes or so of makeshift engineering, we got back on the trail and started up our first real climb.  To be honest, I was still feeling pretty damn good, and was rolling pretty good.  I wasn't keeping up with Kato and Rob, but I was hanging in strong with Mark.

Ride kept going and we finished the first 9 in good time, dodging the rain and thunder all the way.  Since it was rainy and humid, I was having some troubles with the grips, and actually they were spinning on the handle bars, which made it a little tough to hang on.  Again, we did a little more engineering, and decided to make the mile and half climb to start the next 6 miles.  Pace slowed down considerably here, with Mark really struggling on the hills.  Again, I was still feeling pretty good, and kept pushing him along.  Completed the climb, caught up with the other two and we moved on through the rock gardens around mile marker 3.  Let's just say I hate this section.  Just too technical for me, but I got through it!  With 3 miles to go, we cranked it up a bit and hammered home to the finish.  Nice downhill to finish, with some technical bridges and a few jumps.  All in 15 sweet miles and that would have been awesome, had we stopped at 14.99 miles.  As I came out of the woods and into the parking lot, some kids in the woods yelled out and spooked me a bit.  I locked up the brakes and all hell broke loose.  Next thing I know I am all twisted up in nasty little crash next to the parking lot.  To quote Kato, "that can't be good"!  Well fortunately, no major damage, little tweeks on the front tire and brakes, and back in business.  I guess a little blood never hurt anyone!

I guess I learned a couple valuable lessons today.  First, I simply cannot ride as fast as the others. Second, bridges are slippery.  Third, tie straps and duct tape our a must for any tool kit.  And finally, keep concentration to the very end!  Anything can happen!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Biking with dad!

Took a ride Friday morning with my dad on the Olentangy Bike Trail.  I wasn't sure what we were getting into.  He hasn't really ridden much, he's up there in age, and it was going to be hot. However, since the trail is mostly covered by trees, and it is paved, we thought what the hell, let's see what we get into.  We got onto the trail by 7:30 and started our trip.
It took awhile for the heat to get too bad, so we actually made some good progress.  After cruising about 8 miles, with some awesome scenery, we realized we were close to the Ohio State University.  Since I have never been, we decided to keep going and check out the stadium (the horseshoe).  Good call!

The Horseshoe

Took some more pics.......
More Shoe

Then saw this sweet bridge...
Cool Bridge by stadium

Then took this pic of dad posing in front of sweet bridge....
Dad posing with his big ass seat
Then completed trip back with nice 10 mile roll back up the trail.  Little slower, but still a nice ride.
Passed this awesome fishing lake on the way back, stopped and took a few more pics!

Sweet lake along the way
All in, 20 miles, nice ride and great time spent with dad!   Looking forward to our next adventure!