Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CSI: State Forest

My ride on Saturday was... a mix of sweet singletrack, puzzling scenes, and anoyances Mother Nature likes to throw at us.  This was the second time I've ridden Willowdale, the first time was last year in early March.  Last year the doubletrack/fire roads were in horrible condition with mud/snow/ice still littering the trails, but I remember the singletrack was magnificent.  That ride was cut short as I was bombing down a short downhill and a stick jumped up and snapped a spoke or two in my rear wheel - luckily leaving my derailleur untouched.  I had to cut that ride short, but vowed to be back....

A year later, ROUND TWO!  As I started the ride I jumped right into the singletrack and things were looking good.  Even better, things were feeling good.  My legs were feeling good (could spin class already be proving to be beneficial??) and my bike was outstanding.  As I tore through the trails I was already recognizing the route from the previous year and boy how the HiFi was just tearing it up out there!!  Short rooty inclines that I remembered as being a bastard on my hardtail weren't a second thought (except for "wasn't that an annoying section last time I rode it?").  Once again the HiFi proved to be an absolute billy goat on any climb I charged.  So happy with this bike!!  Over all the ride was eh.  The first half rocked, there was some sweet singletrack blazed with blue that was an absolute blast.  But as I got to the western side of the park I was greeted by snow.  And not just patches of snow here and there but firm, hard, not even close to being gone snow.  I came across stretches of snow that were basically telling me "come back after April vacation and maybe we'll clear out by then."  It was deep, firm snow that could handle the weight of me walking through without much sinking in.  Well, you know what snow??  I will come back after April vacation because during April vacation I will be railing smooth hard packed trails down in NC.  So how do you like me now???

The other week Big Bikes mentioned the inherent dangers of ravenous coyotes.  Which led me to make mention of coyotes here.  At the time I thought his was the ramblings of a mad man, and even pitied the rag tag life coyotes live (as evidenced by my comment expressing my hopes the coyotes had a success) but maybe Thom P knows more than he lets on??
I'm not sure about you, but I've come across evidence of animal on animal hatred on trails.  It's kinda curious and I often wonder who was involved and what the outcome was... was it just a scrap?  a courting gone wrong?  a straight up "get in my belly" murder?  Well, on this ride there wasn't just fur tossed around the trail, it went off into the woods.  So, me being me, I jumped off the bike and followed.  As I neared a clearing I saw a "chunk of fur" that I could not identify.  Was it a hurt animal?  A napping killer?  I grabbed the sturdiest stick I could find (first rule of horror movies - grab a damn weapon!!) and approached.  I had found the kill zone and it appeared relatively fresh.  What I had found was a chunk of the victims hide and nearby I found the spin/hips/leg bones.  Footprints were abound in the snow and it looked like possibly a coyote(s) had taken down a deer?  - check out 7/8 for visual evidence

To follow - a pictorial guide of my ride.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Put me in coach!!

Is what I might say if I was on a cycling team with a coach...
and the upcoming event was a flip cup tournament, not a bike race. (as a side - I just did a quick flip cup search on the old googler and it appears any sort of "organized" flip cup tournament last saw the light of day in 2009.)
But let's say the upcoming event was an actual mountain bike race... maybe not.

Came across this on Saturday up at Willowdale.
Trail flooded by nearby pond.

With Mother Nature just bitch slapping us with the reality that Spring never just comes to New England, we have to relapse into crappy winter weather before the beauty that is Spring shines her face on us, I haven't logged any solid miles on the trails.  Wait... Spring shining her face on us, who am I kidding??  What we have to look forward to is about a month straight of rain - great for logging solid trail time!!!  not riding at all.  Although rain hasn't been the serious problem thus far, we've seen some flooding surrounding pounds and streams with all the snow melting off.

Remember last year??  When it literally rained every day in June??  Yeah, that sucked.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Media Fridays
We'll posts videos or photos that will hopefully inspire trail shredding weekends.

I love riding.
It is great on so many levels that it is down right addicting.  
Getting away from the daily grind
Finding peace in nature
Pushing your limits and going further, faster, higher, and through more gnarly terrain than you ever have before
And just flat out enjoying yourself!!

I love this video.
It makes me smile.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How many is too many?

As I was putting together my race schedule for the year I basically did it geographically... where can I get to relatively easily?  So with that in mind I have started with a list of 7 races.
7 sounds ok.  I think?  Maybe it's a bit too much?  I'm feeling like maybe that is a bit overzealous.  I have no real idea of how many races I "should" enter in my first season.

I'm going into this in not quite the riding shape I'd like to be in.  It is what it is at this point, so if nothing else this season will tell me what shape I NEED to be in moving forward (assuming racing fits me and I do continue with it).

So, with the thought that my condition may be severely tested by racing, I'm thinking I need to also consider the timing of the races.  Allowing myself time to not only recover from a race, but to have time to prepare and train for the next race is important.  After all, I don't want this season ending up being one long death toll on me.
And yes I do plan on racing in cowboy boots and a top hat.
With that in mind I will be rescheduling to allow about a months time between each race.  This will leave me with just 4 races so far (right now I have nothing scheduled for June or July so if races are posted I may be able to pick up one or two more).

Hopefully time between races and ease of attendance (distance to the race) will help ensure an enjoyable first season.  After all, it is crucial that I enjoy myself throughout this experience if I hope to continue racing in the future.

As always I welcome any suggestions/feedback regarding racing for the first time.  Is this a good scheduling strategy or would just a week or two off in between races be reasonable for a first timer?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You are one fickle bitch, Boston.

Things were looking up last Friday. The sun was shining, people were smiling, dogs were getting much needed exercise in local parks and recreational bikers were out and about during the wonderful 68 degree day.

Too bad it was Friday, and I was stuck in a room with no windows (thanks work).

Once I finally stepped out of my dark room and into the light, I was discouraged to see the sun setting. I stupidly comforted myself with the thought of riding over the weekend, since 68 degree weather has to linger for a while... right?

Not in New England, my friends. New England likes to tease its patrons with periodic glimpses of a better climatic life just so it can smack that ice cream cone dream right out of our hands. Bastard.

So, it not only dropped 25 degrees the next day but two days later in a cruel ironic fashion, it snowed on the first day of Spring.

Needless to say, my beginner excitement on biking does not involve freezing my little ass off, so I skipped riding over the weekend. I feel like a loser. Today I ran to the bus stop (three blocks) and choked repeatedly on the cold air. I'm not much for aerobic activities (as we have established previously), but I would like to be able to sprint three blocks and not sweat and cough like a 500lb Italian dude.

I NEED to bike. I need to get my endurance up to a respectable level. And most importantly, I have a new toy that I can't play with. Stop being an exercising cockblock, Boston. Even my dogs are sad.

"Hey Asshole, we'd like to go outside."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And the weatherman is a...

Annie made, what turned out to be, a wise decision on Saturday.  Maybe it was optimism taking over but the warm sunny weekend I was expecting turned into a foot freezing ride on Saturday.  Annie bowed out opting for the comfort and warmth of the couch as I loaded my bike onto my car.  Already I knew it was going to be a cold one but figured by the time I got to the trail (shooting for noonish) things would be PERFECT.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring!!

And it's crap!
Our "Backyard."  Hey, that's a lot for Southie!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why yes it is... and that too!!

Media Fridays
We'll posts videos or photos that will hopefully inspire trail shredding weekends.

Let's kick off this weekend with a video that asks a series of questions.

Slick video.

And the answer is YES!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you can dodge a wrench...

Leaving the gym today someone was cooking, and my legs definitely smelled it!

Remember when Dwayne Johnson was The Rock?  And how he would ask "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?"?  Yeah, well apparently I remember and that is all thanks to a kid we called "butters."  See Butters used to love that stuff and would constantly watch it... anyway, for some strange reason I thought of this while leaving the gym and thinking how every muscle in my legs were definitely feeling used.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We don't need no stinking coyotes!

First off, I'd like to confirm that fact that my wife is a mountain biking CHAMP!!  She did awesome on her first two rides (the fact that she wanted to bike again the following day - even suggesting that on the car ride home from the first ride - is awesome!) and tackled much more than I thought she would so quickly.  She even got some short bursts of singletrack in on day two... very impressed.

So, what has my progress been?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Biker Ailments


As mentioned in my last post, my legs are suffering. It's been two days since my last (second) excursion on a bike and this morning my quads and calves were (to borrow a saying from another Annie) singing Grand Opera. No, I'm not comparing my sore muscles to Paul Sheldon's car wrecked legs literally, but they do hurt. Walking hasn't been an issue as much as moving into a seated position, stretching to reach something off a high shelf or squatting to pick something off the floor. I feel like I could walk on flat terrain for miles (I don't WANT to...but I could) while walking up two flights of stairs is just not in my wheelhouse right now.


As far as my ass, the soreness is somewhat recognizable. Before you start going down the wrong (inappropriate) road on that statement, let me explain. When you venture out into the sun wearing a bikini after months of covering up there's a very specific burn you ALWAYS get no matter how much you try to prevent it. That burn is the most painful right on the line where your bikini bottom separates your legs from your butt. You can put layer after layer of sunblock right there but it never helps. I have no idea why such a burn is inevitable, but now you know a little tidbit about the bikini wearing culture that you might not have been privy to before.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is it riding season yet?

With temperatures rising and rain here and there we've had much of the snow melt off up around here.  It's nice to be able to see the ground again, but now comes the torture.  The time of year when your legs are just jumping to get out there and ride some trails, but your mind and conscious can't let you as the trails are too soft ride.

This also marks about a month out from my very first race.  So I'm nervous on a couple of fronts here.
1. This winter has been horrible, and outside of my trip to Florida, I've gotten very little riding in (due to the weather and due to the basketball season)
2. Being able to make up for not riding outside by some solid gym time has also been interrupted by the basketball season
3. I'm not sure when I'll be able to get some good quality miles of singletrack in before the race
4. The race is down in Connecticut, and is in an area I've never ridden before
5. Will I find a reason NOT to enter this race?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

She's got (tired) legs.

Exactly three weeks ago I was standing in a fitting room with my best friend admiring how wonderful my newly tanned legs looked in a pair of shorts that I desperately wanted to buy. Even though "real" summer (we were visiting Daytona Beach from Boston) wasn't for another three months, I bought the shorts and hadn't thought of my legs again, until today.

Yesterday I went on my first ride with Michael. We went to this park about 30 minutes south of Boston. Being outside was just as fantastic as I expected. It was nice to feel the fresh (albeit cold) air on my face without shaking my phone repeatedly for updated arrival times of the number 11 bus. I haven't been on a bike ride for years, and I was a little nervous. Relaxation washed over me almost instantly with the combination of nature and Michael's patient encouragements. We rode for only 40 mins and, due to a lot of stopping and starting, we only went 4 miles.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How I'll bike you.

Let me just put my cards on the table; mountain biking doesn’t sound fun. It never interested me. The main reason is probably not what you would assume. You might think my lack of interest stems from being a city girl. That would be a great guess, except I actually grew up in West Virginia and absolutely salivate at the chance to get some quality quiet time amongst the trees, fresh air, wildlife and dirt. Buildings make poor substitutes for trees, bus fumes don’t refresh my lungs, squirrels and rats barely qualify as wildlife and the dirt…well the amount of dirt is pretty much the same but there’s a huge difference between dirt and dirty.

So we’ve established that the great outdoors aren’t my deterrent. So maybe I’m a girly girl. Maybe I’m scared of getting hurt and even more terrified of damaging my new cycling attire that looks adorable on me? No (I mean, it does look adorable, but you can always buy more!). Being from West Virginia, I’ve done a lot of rafting, rock climbing, hiking, skiing and camping. I’ve dealt with the stiff muscles, gashes, broken ribs, poison ivy, black eyes and even a case of meningitis from a trip down the New River (gross). Any physical activity has its risks. Some carry larger risks than others, but it sure beats sitting on the couch and watching Teen Mom 2, so bring it on.

I’m not sure what your other assumptions would be, so I’m going to stop guessing because it makes me sound like a know-it-all. So here’s my reason: I hate cardio. I have no endurance. Running is horrendous. Jogging is ridiculous. I stick to yoga, hiking and playing with my dogs for all my exercise and that works for me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

So... what are you riding?

This may be an appropriate place to start... our bikes!

My first experience mountain biking was back in high school - riding a rigid.  It was a Univega, with this sweet blue paint job speckled with black... it was the 90s and I guess the splattered paint look was in.  I don't have a picture of it, but it's still at my parents house, so maybe I can add one later.

Got away from the sport until the winter of 2009 when my wife got me a Trek 4300 Disc for Christmas... and that is where it all began, I was hooked!!

2009 Trek 4300 Disc
For me, the 4300 has been a perfect starter bike.  It has pretty much let me handle anything on the trail I have wanted to (or felt confident enough to) and has held up well and got me tearing up trails all over the place.  Just last week I was riding down in Florida on it, enjoying beautiful mid 70s to low 80s weather and perfect trail conditions.  

Getting my bike to Florida was my first experience shipping a bike, and it was interesting to say the least.  My initial plan was to ship my new ride so I could actually get some dirt on the tires, but for a number of reasons I wasn't able to box her up and ship her down.  So I shipped my 4300 and I had a lot of fun!!

I've been thinking about my "next bike" for a while now.  I got hooked on mountain biking with the 4300 and probably within 6 months of riding I was "ready" for a new bike.  My skills were growing by leaps and bounds and I felt it was time to handle a new bike.  But what to get?