Monday, December 10, 2018

The Lake Is Frozen!

Really Frozen.  I think this is the earliest freeze I can remember.  But then again my memory is crap.  I'm sure it is earlier than the last 2 years.   It is also the hardest ice I remember.  Working together with the 516 studs in my tires I dumped the bike as soon as I started to put my foot down and  my weight wasn't perpendicular to the ice.  Starting on the lake was just as difficult because there wasn't enough pressure on the rear wheel to get traction.  Going in a straight line was just fine.

Smooth as a baby's ass - but colder.

Clear as a Window - But Stronger

Crisp as a Winter Morning - But Fall
Ice Art - From Yesterday's Recon

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Someday I Will Realize...

that riding through a foot of snow to get to work isn't as fun or romantic as it seems.  Seriously, it took me 45 minutes to ride the 7 miles to get to the trails.  Once I got there I found between 4-12" of soft snow on them.  The rest of the trip was 4 miles of hard peddling to average 3.4MPH.  Yup, that is about an hour and 20 minutes to ride 4 miles with a total commute time of over 2 hours.

Winter "wonder" land.  I wonder if this is fun.

I spend the whole ride wondering if I am crazy.  Who would do this on purpose anyway?

These trees make for slow going,
The front tire washes out for the 100th time and I'm walking up another hill.   By the time I get to work my bike weighs an extra 10 lbs and so do my clothes.
Abominable Snow Bike

Then I realize that I'm in the middle of nature.  I've seen some deer and eagles on my ride.  The only thing I am worrying about is how I'm going to maneuver the next rut or hill.  By 8:00 I've got more exercise than most people get in a week or possibly a month.   Maybe I'll never learn.  But I do think I will be looking for a ride home tonight.  I think I've had my fill for today.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bike Zion

Well, not exactly.  There isn't any mountain biking allowed in Zion National Park but that's OK because there is some fine mountain biking just down the road in Virgin and Hurricane.  You might have heard of a little event held in Virgin Utah called Red Bull Rampage.  More on that later. But not much more.

Bikes and Canyons

We rented our bikes at Bike Zion.  I don't want to go to negative here but I have to be at least a little honest.  They claim to be "A Full Service Bike Shop" and we were just trying to get 2 functional bikes
  • The first bike had a flat.
  • The second bike had a shock pumped up so hard it was a hard tail.
  • The third bike had a shock that took 3 seconds to rebound
  • They couldn't find a spare tube right away
  • They couldn't find a patch kit, I went behind the counter and found it for them.
  • Nobody was available to adjust the bikes.
  • I ended up with a bike with a pretty wobbly front wheel.
They let me use the one shock pump that they finally found and I got 2 bikes working for our trip.  The odd part was that nobody seemed concerned that half the bikes in the fleet were non-operational and they would just stay that way forever.  Anyway, not going too negative...The guys at the shop were all nice and helped work through the issues.  They let us pay for a 1/2 day rental and if we went over we would just pay the difference. They also turned my on to MTB Project which was a great way to find the trailhead and know if we were on the right trails all day.  I'd recommend the app for any mountain bikers.
And we're off
We found the trail head with no problems.  I had planned a route called Hurricane Rim Loop which was about 24 miles of riding and seemed good for the day.  I didn't realize that the rim trail was mostly technical rocky riding and 24 miles would be a LOT.  Add to that the rim nature of the trail.  My wife is not a fan of precipices and needed to walk by a lot of spots.  Actually, I'm not a fan of riding trails where a small bobble that would normally be nothing could easily send you to your death we re-routed. 

Not the furthest drop if you make a mistake but still not good. The rim trails was a lot like this.
We found a trail map of the area that doesn't seem to exist anywhere but on the trail head so I'll post it here.
Plenty of Options
The riding away from the canyon was better.  We picked intermediate trails which were mostly easy with some technical spots.  The toughest sections had re-routes around the tricky spots for those who were not inclined  For the most part it was just a lot of good flowing riding.

Fast Fun Flowy Desert Trails
The one thing that you always get in Utah is a decent view.  Just 10 miles from Zion National park the scenery is totally different but still "Spectacular"
The View
We made our way to the opposite side of the plain and got back into the hills.  There was a little more rim riding over there but not quite as deadly.
This is as close to the edge as she got.
One of our favorite trails was Dead Ringer.  The name sounds more ominous that it is.  It was named after a dead cow that was found while building the trail with an old cowbell still around its neck.
More Cowbell

This whole trail system was great.  The trails were nicely built and well marked.  It may not be as epic as Moab but we had a good taste of riding in Utah.  We returned the bikes a few hours after our half day rental was over.  In this case the laid back attitude at the shop was on our side because they didn't charge any extra.  I don't think pot is legal in Utah but I think some residents may use it.

We ended up riding 20 miles around this trails system which was plenty to satisfy my mountain biking itch.  Did I mention I was sick.  That probably kept me from needing to do more.
Click It

That is a NO-GO on exploring the Rampage site.

We just happened to be in the exact spot for Red Bull Rampage on the exact day they were riding it but it was sold out well before we knew we would be there.  We were hoping the area would be open before the event so we could see practice runs and the like. Nope.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dempsey Challenge 2018

Year number 10 and also a new coastal route.  At first I was grieving the loss of the old nostalgic Dempsey Challenge route. After all, I had done if ever year so far.  A couple of things led up to how I chose to ride this year.  Mostly the Thursday before the event my other 3 road bikes were all out of commission.  Don't worry, they are fine.  I fixed them all.  But it gave me a chance to ride my 30+ year old Viva Sport.  I decided that with the new route I would take the ride relatively easy and ride with my wife.  Riding a bike that was about 1/3 heavier with 1/2 the gears and less gearing range than modern bikes would keep me from wanting to catch the speedy riders.  Incidentally I had done the old route on this bike back in 2010 but I've become a little more "Performance Oriented" since then.

Nice start to the day

While we were waiting for the start we got to see a hot air balloon do a touch and go on the surface of the Androscoggin River. He was descending pretty fast so it must take some skill to time it just right not to submerge.
I missed the touchdown.
The ride got underway and all the fast riders sailed passed us.  I gave a quick chase to try to say hi to some friends.  After a few miles I decided it wasn't worth toasting my legs at the start of a 100 mile ride.  So I eased up and was very quickly caught by my wife.  The first 45 miles to Bailey Island we did with a group at a pretty quick pace.
Seaside Photo Opp
It turns out the new course was spectacular. I'd say it was a definite upgrade and a good draw to people that don't usually get to cycle by the ocean.  I should have taken some more pictures. I'd previously done a solo century to Harpswell and wasn't that impressed. This side of the island seemed to be more scenic and I enjoyed the ride more. The ride back was just the 2 of us at a slower pace and we were wearing down a little.  Overall I was feeling pretty good at the end of my first 100 mile ride of the year.

Round ???
Once we got back and changed we found the rest of our Dempsey team and it was time for drinking beer.  Each participant gets ONE free beer ticket.  Luckily our captain and his friends know a lot of people.   There were plenty of spare tickets and there was no reason to pay for beer.  I don't feel bad about that.  This year my wife and I raised over $1000.  I think it is a fair trade.  Thanks to all that donated.

Click here to see where we went.

Dempsey Challenge 2018 Flyover

I did learn that "The Big Boys" turned in a century time of  a little over 4:40.  Maybe next year.  Although I've also got this idea of doing the 100 on the fatbike.  I think either might be just as demanding.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Metallak Race 2018

"Up and Down"
"High Gear/Low Gear"
"Burning Quads or Burning Brakes"
"1.7 million bumps"

I was coming up with a lot of names for this ride while I was on it.  But the real name was "Metallak: A North Country Endurance Adventure".  This blog is a little wordy but 6 hours in the woods mostly along is a long time to think of stories.

The biggest challenge for me in this race was picking the right bike. And not because I have 11 bikes and just couldn't choose.  I just didn't have the right bike for this race.  In fact, there is no right bike for this race.  Which although frustrating also makes it unique.  I had already come to terms with the fact that there are 5 miles of running and 3.5 miles of hiking in this race and even though I'm not a runner I could get through it.

First I ran some tests with the cross bike:

Then and then with the mountain bike:

And I determined that the mountain bike was faster...So I took the cross bike.  Hey, I had reasons.  The cross bike was 18lbs vs 32lbs and there was a lot of climbing/hike-a-bike and the cross bike would be faster on the gravel and tar.  I was thinking it was mostly gravel with a few miles of trails.  In actuality it was about 50% gravel "Roads" 40% jeep trails and 10% trail.  Rough Rough. I had my tires at about 80PSI because I am excellent at pinch flatting and I felt every one of the 1.7M bumps on the trail. I realized on the first downhill that a good part of my energy going uphill was being used to heat up my brake rotors.  The extra energy used to pedal a heavy bike uphill gets stored as kinetic energy but riding the brakes down a bumpy trail doesn't win races.  I've already started shopping for the non-existent right bike for this race.  That's all I'm going to say about bike choice because I know most of you are bored and have skipped ahead to the very limited number of pictures.

OK, Pre-race.  We planned on camping and making a long weekend of it which was nice.  The race venue was Mohawk Falls which was a  great space for the race festivities.  The owner was busying around greeting people.  The race organizers were no different, welcoming everybody and thanking them for coming.
Home Sweet Home Away from Home
The Namesake of Mohawk Falls
I attended the mandatory pre-race meeting to learn which right turn I was supposed to miss during the race.  It worked, it missed it.

The race start was the typical mix of nerves, excitement and optimism that: "This is going to be my day".  GO! We were off and I decided I would stick with the leaders as long as I could.  That was about 1.6 miles into the race when my seat pack ejected off the back from bump number 8.  Not a great start.  I retrieved the bag.. (OK, I'll pause here for a note: I came into possession of this seat bag during a triathlon I was spectating. Where?  In the middle of the f-ing road. Duh.  Don't put anything heavier than a tube in it or duct tape it in place) ..and shoved it into my jersey pocket.  I had worked hard to keep anything bike related attached to the bike so it would stay with the bike while I was running, oh well.  Luckily, I was able to catch back up with the leaders.  I held on to second right behind the leader until he started pulling away up the first 9 mile climbing section.  Not because of the bike but because he was friggin' strong.  Once the road tilted back down I got passed by some mountain bikes.

After some position jockeying I got to the first transition in 2nd place.  About 1/2 way into the first run I got passed LIKE I WAS STANDING STILL. That's what 32 miles total of run training for the entire year will get you and I totally expected it.  The gap between me and 2nd widened even further in the kayak and I knew I was racing for 3rd.  I never came close to 2nd place again.

The next section was one of the few times I was enjoying my light bike, when I was carrying it on my back. After that was a downhill on an ATV trail that was sketchy as hell.  I fully believe I could have gone twice as fast on a mountain bike. This is when I was so intent on not cracking my skull that I missed the well marked right turn.  No big deal, the course was marked well enough that I realized that the markers has stopped.  I only lost 3 minutes. The run around mud pond was uneventful.  I alternated trotting and walking.  I used walking as an excuse to get in as much nutrition and water as possible while my hands were free.

After an easy ride downhill I got to the second paddle.  The "Boats" were inflatable whitewater kayaks and handled like a queen sized air mattress. That was fine because "Everybody was in the same boat" so to speak.  At this point the "4 hour" racers had done about 20 miles of biking and the "8 hour" racers had done 32 miles of biking, 5.5 miles of running and 3 miles of paddling.  The next step it to climb up here:
It's steeper than it looks.
And then hike back down to a valley and then go back up to the top of Sanguinary (Translation: never ever ending) Ridge.  Actually I just looked that up and it really means: involving or causing much bloodshed. OK, that fits too.
The view from the top taken the next day - Yes, we really hiked it again. This is one of the lakes we paddled.
I got up the first steep climb in good shape but my legs have this uncanny ability to know when they are almost done and they give up just a little before that.  Like when you ignore the urge to pee for 2 hours on a road trip and almost piss your pants pulling into the driveway.  Bodies are weird.  Cramps were followed by cramps.  A guy from one of the relay teams bounded by me like a deer running through the woods but assured me it was because he was fresher.  Probably at least half true. At the top of never ending ridge I got passed and moved into 3rd place.  Dammit, 3rd for 7/8 of the race and passed; quickly, I might add.  I decided that 4th was a great place and podium was overrated.  Amazingly, he was still in transition when I got to the bottom and I had a much better bike for the mostly paved stretch to the finish.  I jumped on my bike ready to chase him down and BAM my legs cramped in a way that I have never seen before.  Both ankles were stuck and I was peddling with the sides of my feet.  OK, 4th place is fine. But things did loosen up and I was able to catch him going up the last climb.  Once again, it was my race to loose at this point.  So I was pushing hard down a very steep golf course trail and realized there is a hard left ahead.  And I'm not going to make it.  Wheels locked up and into the woods I went. Not a lot but  certainly enough for a story.  Long story short (not really) I managed to cross the line for 3rd!

The 4 hour race had started 4 hours later than the 8 hour course except I finished the 8 in 6 so I had quite a bit of time to wait for my wife to finish.  Oh, did I forget to mention she was racing too? My blog, my story, sorry honey.  I'm getting to your AWESOME finish.  I didn't' have to wait too long because she was the 3rd 4-hour racer over the line and the first woman!  Woot!  She was riding the polar opposite of my bike, a fatbike.
Team Edwards Takes a Podium Sweep

Overall the race was very well organized all thanks to a very hard working race director (and she baked us cookies). And for some strange reason I plan to do it again.  I'm fully expecting my legs to be almost back to normal by then.  I'm no spring chicken after all.  It will also give me a year to cultivate the perfect bike which will be both light and stable.  All of my mountain bike options are full squish and don't fall into the light category.

I obsessed over this race a lot.  What bike to use, was I going to stay on course, what would my time be.  I made a spreadsheet with all the legs and transitions and estimated my speed/time/pace for each.  I broke it down by on-road, off-road, climbing, running, hiking off-road, kayaking and transitions.

My estimated time was: 6:04:15.6.
My actual time was: 6:04:19
That is either some top notch estimating or some dumb luck. Probably more of the latter.

No adventure race ride blog would be complete without the relive flyover

Relive 'Morning Ride'

  We hiked back up the next day to actually enjoy the views we had earned.
That is as close to the edge as she would get.

Probably Smart

Prelude to Angles Landing Trail Next Month
Life Is Good (Camera Zoom, she was 1/4 mile away from the edge at this point)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Dempsey Challange...I'm late!

OK OK,  I should have done this a while ago but my tardiness will keep you from procrastinating.   The Dempsey challenge is in a little over two weeks and I've only raised a hundred bucks.  This year I have joined with Team Bilodeau which not only includes a group of riders I have joined the last few years but it is a positive tracks team which means that your donations get matched!  It's that simple.
This will be my 10th year doing the challenge.  It honestly seems like I've been doing it forever but checking back a few blogs. I see that I started doing it in 2009.  I've rallied my friends, family and co-workers to donate over $10,000 over that time period.  Thank You!

One big change is that the route is totally different this year.  I'm not sure why but I'll welcome the change.  So don't be looking for Patrick over in Raymond of Otisfield because he won't be there.

Since I'm late I'll leave it at that.  If you didn't like the link above you can use this more traditional one.

Since I'm a nice guy I'll give you a link to Donate To Kelly in case you wanted to donate to both of us. ;)

Photo ID
Team Edwards

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Camping 2018

I guess it is time for a post. I didn't get out on the bike as much as I usually do on our annual camping trip but I did get in a few good rides.

The first ride was a 40ish mile loop that was planned on some scenic back roads with some gravel grinding logging roads thrown in for fun.  That was the plan.  Most of the plan came to pass but some of the logging roads turned into skidder paths and snowmobile trails. There was some hiking.  I would have taken some pics of the rough terrain but the deer flys might have drained me.
This is a lot steeper than it looks

Who wouldn't want a sleigh in their front yard?

Route 153 in New Hampshire was spectacular with great views and new tar
Freedom New Hampshire, very cute town.
This was one of the more passable roads.

Relive 'Morning Ride'

I did get a short rip out into Brownfield Bog which includes lots more deer flys and one of my favorite sections of trail up to Walker's Ripps. The trail follows the river bank with a combination of light technical and flowy double-track.

Magical spot in the bog
Walker's Rips (Really low water this year)

Relive 'Afternoon Ride'