Friday, April 29, 2011

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

Here is a video that Annie picked.  She loved the speed she got to experience on the super packed trail in Charlotte, so this video is very fitting.  One day we'll be able to shred like this day...probably not though.  


Thursday, April 28, 2011

new toys!

Late post - sorry!!  But yesterday was full to the brim with new bike stuff!!

The other day I bought myself a Garmin Edge 500 with wonderful tax return monies!!  I got it home, busted open the box and drooled over the gear I got.  With the garmins I got the heart rate monitor (something I've never had/used) and the cadence johnson (again something new to me).  So while the garmins was charging up I stuck the cadence junk on the HiFi. 

Yesterday I got to use the new toys (sans heart rate monitor) for the first time.  I took a ride from work to a local trail.  The ride was eh due to blow down all over the place so the trails were kinda crappy.  Plus, I think Charlotte spoiled me with their smooth, cleared trails.  More often then not I'm riding leaf covered trails that are at times hard to follow... nothing cleared nicely like you get down south.  But then again, it is rare to find mountain bike minded/designed trails around these parts - seems like we just ride what we have (hiking trails).  So anyway... I rushed home after the ride and plugged the bad boy in and YIPPEE!!  I got a whole bunch of data and a map of the ride - how sweet is that??  If I get out for a ride today - all depends on the possible thunderstorms - then I'll add the heart rate monitor to the mix.  I'm excited as all this extra data will only help push myself more during rides to ensure I'm getting the most out of it.  FUN FUN!!

Check it:

While we were in The Web I bought Annie some  bike shoes (2 shoes, one for each foot) for her birthday.  So last night after I played with my new toy I switched out the pedals on Annie's Wahoo and she got to practice clipping in and out.  Taking off pedals is a bastard... seriously.  I had to take a mallet to the wrench to get those platforms off!!  But ah well.  Now she's offical, and we'll probably be out at Wompatuck this weekend getting her practice and hitting up some singletrack.  She certainly enjoyed the trails in Charlotte, let's just hope she enjoys the New England versions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hodge Podge

Only got one ride in while down in Charlotte but it was FUN!!!  Although the weather wasn't horrible during our visit, it still didn't completely cooperate with my planned 3 rides over our brisk visit to the Queen City.

So where did we get to ride???  Settle down there, don't get overly excited.  And don't jump down our throats getting all twisted that we didn't even ride the "best" the area has to offer.  So we got into town on Wednesday and got to witness some fun times.  I even took some pictures.  I had planned on getting back to ride the trails there as I was very curious... the section we were at was very buff fast singletrack.  I asked one of the promoters about the trail and he did describe it as rooty and technical.  I really do need to see what "rooty" in NC means to "rooty" in NE... how do the two compare?  But alas, it rained the morning we were to experience Beatty.

So Thursday we got up and had an awesome breakfast before hitting.... drum roll please... USNWC.  Take it easy.  This was a good choice for our starting point of Charlotte trails in that it was 1. close by 2. clearly defined trail system with user ability labeled trails and 3. sounded like a neat little facility what with the whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, zip lining, canyoneering adventure land.  Annie and I headed out on the green loop.  This was the first all singletrack ride Annie was embarking on so I wanted to ensure it was a success (and figured any facility that was labeling trails with the green circle, blue square, black diamond system would be the place).  And as always, Annie took it down like a champ.  Well, she did want to vomit and that was my fault.  In my excitement for some southern hospitality I chose a breakfast place that loaded us up heavier than we needed to be for a bike ride... it was good, but too much.

Monday, April 25, 2011

North Carolina on my mind.

As Michael shared last week, we headed to Charlotte, NC with our bikes to do a little reconnaissance. Charlotte is on our extremely short short list of possible places to relocate. When choosing a new place to live, we have certain non-negotiable requirements. Charlotte already fit the bill (according to our endless sessions of googlestorming) for many of our specifications therefore a visit was of the utmost importance in order to make a well-rounded decision.

Here's what we found out:

  • Requirement 1 - Mountain Biking Culture: The first day we got to Charlotte we attended a race, which took place about 10 miles south of downtown. We expected there would be about 20 bikers participating in this Wednesday evening race. Truthfully, we figured we were probably wasting our time. We were wrong! After we took the turn to enter the park, we saw around 50 cars parked along the street with many more in the parking lot. There ended up being over 250 riders registered for the race! We found out that this series goes on every Wednesday for 16 weeks and rotates between three different trails around Charlotte. Michael found a place to camp out so he could take some pics, and the people passing by us were extremely friendly and welcoming. Requirement full-filled, check!!
  • Requirement 2 - Neighborhoods: Naturally, even though we are about a year out from actually moving from Boston, we are curious when it comes to the types of neighborhoods around the city. Prior to our trip - and thanks again to our googlestorming skillz - I had a list of addresses ready to punch into the GPS for our house hunting adventure. Michael and I are hoping for a nice bungalow or craftsman with about a quarter acre or more of yard that's close to downtown. After five years in Southie, we've had our fill of street parking and concrete so really urban neighborhoods need not apply. We were delighted to find so many places with exactly the feel we wanted! Basically, every neighborhood on this list was awesome. Looks like the "not hipster but still highly interested in biking and craft beer" couple will have many options!
  • Requirement 3 - An actual city: So we may be ready to get a house with a picket fence, doggy door and a yard providing a justifiable reason to purchase a lawnmower -- but we ain't quite suburbanites yet. Unfortunately, the southeast isn't really full of metropolitan areas. You pretty much have Atlanta and...well Atlanta to choose from. So we decided a small city could possibly work as long as it had the amenities we loved (A major airport hub, professional sports teams, a major university, concert venues, multiple cuisines with many restaurant options, great hospitals and a strong arts district) without the ones we're completely over (subways, traffic, Chinatown I work right here, water issues, non-stop concrete and rodents). Charlotte, albeit small, has a beautiful downtown area with all the things we need. Looks like we're on a roll!
Our next step is to visit again in the summer to see how well we stand up to the intense humidity we keep hearing about. I'm thinking that adventure will be sans Treks, since taking our bikes will require us driving again. Not enough time has passed since our 14 hour ride home last Saturday for me to get excited over another possible road trip.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

rain can suck it!

Loading up this morning for our road trip to Charlotte.  We'll stop in Morgantown tonight to see the family there.  Continue on in the morning to Charlotte.
There is a threat of rain pretty much everyday we are down there... but we are bringing the bikes anyway.  I get to pick up the 4300 when we are in Morgantown (it's been there since I shipped it down for our Daytona trip in February).  It will be nice to have it back for my rides with Annie because on the 29er I end up just rolling away from her.

When I got back into biking the addiction set in pretty quick.  And now it's official, racing has me hooked.  I certainly have a long way to go to be considered any sort of a real threat, but I love it.  I loved the whole scene, I loved the personal challenge, and I will enjoy the training aspect.  I've really enjoyed riding, but I've never had anything pushing me on my rides... I just rode.  Still fun, for sure, but I never had that push to really challenge myself on rides.  But now I have that motivation.  For a person that isn't super organized/structured I really DO like scheming and planning.  I enjoy my workout routines I put together, and recording my performance (for no real purpose other than to keep it up) so I think having races in mind, tracking my finishes, setting purposeful training rides to push my limits and increase endurance and speed will be a fun new challenge.

Keeping my fingers crossed we get some riding in down in Charlotte... it will be nice for Annie to get more riding in, might get her some shoes while we are down there so we can get her riding clipless, and it's always nice to be able to explore trails in a different part of the country.  If we do end up in Charlotte it would be a huge plus to have nice local trails as I have to drive to ride living in Boston.  I would LOVE to be able to ride to a trail (or even multiple trails)!

I'm also looking forward to a nice vacation with Annie.  Get away from our jobs, enjoy some time together as we explore a new city and check out prospective neighborhoods.  Friends (and possible moving buddies) are joining us Friday down in Charlotte so I'll get to share war stories with Sean as he's already 3 races into this season.

No rain, and certainly no tornadoes!!  

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday damnit!

Living in Boston I totally forgot today was Monday (and thus necessitating an entry here).  How does living in Boston in an way = forgetting that today is Monday???  Because it's Patriot's day.  Because the Boston Marathon is today.  And that, my friends, means that no one works in Boston today.  So there you have it.  No one is going to work makes it feel like it's a second Sunday here in Southie.

To add to that feeling Annie's best friend from Morgantown came in yesterday as her sister is running the marathon.  So we all went out last night to Barlow's to eat and generally be merry.  Oh yeah, and yesterday I completed my first race!!  We are heading down to Charlotte Tuesday (via Morgantown WV - so arriving in Charlotte Wednesday) so entries probably will be non-existant until next week, and then there will be a flood of updates (perhaps).

To the main attraction - Winding Trails Fat Tire Classic.
I took two pieces of advice with me going into this race.
1st - (from CB2)just wear the camelbak, don't worry about trying to switch things up and just carry a bottle.
2nd - warm-up.  Saturday I talked to my buddy Sean (from WV) regarding pre-race warmup.  Not sure why it's important that he's from WV - but he is.  So yeah, he gave me the low down on the warmup routine... which I followed and felt good going into the race.

My parents and my wife came to watch, which was really nice.  I entered in the First Timers category and as we lined up I was surprisingly not nervous, which made me... (a little) nervous.  Chatted with a couple guys as we stood waiting.  This, I determined, was one of the best parts of racing.  The people.  Seriously, everyone was just laid back and friendly.  Conversations were easy, people were helpful.  Even out on the course people were looking out for each other, we were all racing but still friendly/courteous.  LOVED IT!

Friday, April 15, 2011

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

Here is a video from the race in 2008.  Course is a bit different this year, but you get an idea for it.

And then some inspirational music... probably along the lines of what I might be playing in my head while racing.

What I like about it (for riding purposes) is that the music is driving forward, but the vocals are calming... hopefully a nice mix that will keep me going, but more importantly, keep me calm and within my zone.

PS.  Thursday - feeling better.
Today - staff vs. student floor hockey game... keep my mind off the race.
I'm excited to see what happens - looks like maybe rain Saturday evening, but hopefully none on Sunday.

Here we go!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You are the weakest link

Sick, since Sunday evening.  The both of us really.  I'll skip any gory details (not that there really are any) but both Annie and I were out sick Monday.  Annie returned to work on Tuesday while I suffered through day two.  Wednesday I returned to work, but still feeling the effects.

What am I sick with, you may ask?
First, thank you for asking.
Second, I have no idea.

Sunday night I had this weird loopy/dizzy thing going on with the old noggin.  Literally felt like I was going to fall over when I stood up.  That continued into Monday.  Monday night I started getting some "stomach" issues and couldn't sleep. So Tuesday I was exhausted and still feeling loopy/dizzy with a headache/fever thrown in there for good measure.  Tuesday night started feeling some pressure in my sinuses and that is always fun.  Very strange side effect (or main effect, not sure at this point) is numbness in my right hand - mostly half my hand, on the pinky side).

And then at work on Wednesday got the numb/tingly feeling in both hands... SWEET!  Just briefly.  I was talking to a coworker who had been ill the week prior, and she confirmed that her scenario also involved a weak/tired aspect to it.  Viral.  Fun.  She eventually ended up with a sinus infection which antibiotics took care of.  That may be the route I'm heading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Battle Axe Warrior

Wow... things got busy real fast!!

Got a preride in on Sunday at Winding Trails.  The course is looking NICE!!  And it's a good thing I missed the first ride and attended this past weekend as a section was just completed and added on Wednesday.  A lot more singletrack than I expected.  And A LOT MORE climbs that I expected. It's a 5 mile loop and as a First Timer I'll just bang out one lap.  I'm good with that.

During the preride I felt ok... didn't warm up.  I have to start doing that!!!  It was a good pace for the ride (I was with a pack of 6 or so).  I defintely got a good sense of where I'll be able to pass (if I can pass that is) which is key.  Technically it's not a difficult trail.  Some roots, but those are hardly noticeable on the HiFi.  There are a bunch of logs down across the trail, most are small but there are two that are big ring catchers... so I want to practice getting over larger logs smoother this week.  The other BIG thing I need to practice is putting my damn bottle back while riding.  On my first lap I took a drink on a fire road straight away and I couldn't seem to find the cage to get it back in before a quick turn onto singletrack came up... so on the brakes I was pulling.  Hopefully I won't be dehydrated (like I was a bit on Sunday) for the race so drinking won't be such an issue for a 5 miler... but still, something I need to work on.  Typically I ride with a camelback when hitting singletrack... but for a race (and such a short one at that) I'd rather go with less weight.

So I completed the race course (plus some as I missed the last turn and headed down a fire road for a bit before turning back around) and took a break as I talked to one of the guys who built up the course.  He took off and I decided I should hit the course again.  Riding for the second time was certainly much smoother.  Being able to anticipate hills really helped.  On the first lap there was a killer steep toward the end that comes at you from around a corner that I had to hike.  Knowing it was coming the second time I kept my speed as much as I could and dropped the gears and was able to get up and over it.  That felt great!!  But we'll see how that goes with others on the course (didn't seem to be much room for two on that climb).  And riding alone on my own pace (which actually ended up being pretty decent) was nice for the confidence.  I didn't break any speed records, but I felt solid at the pace I rode around the second time - and with opportunities to turn it up on the fire roads (and not to mention even more comfort on the sinlgetrack and declines) I'm pretty content coming into the race.  Oh yeah - and that spot I couldn't get the bottle back in the cage on the first lap - deja vu on lap 2.  Seriously, I have to practice that!!

So last night I was feeling all light headed/dizzy and Annie wasn't feeling too hot either.  Woke up and neither of us made it to work today.  Great start...

Friday, April 8, 2011

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

In honor of my upcoming race, and the motherland, I present to you this video.  Thought we forgot about media Fridays eh??  Well I almost did, but then didn't, so how do you like me now?
Perhaps I'll don my Ireland jersey for the race?

We are cleared for launch

Went for an after work ride around the seaport with Annie.  Leg looking feeling good, so I'm happy with that.  I won't continue the photo log of the injury because honestly, it looks gross.  The bruise on my thigh is an interesting mixture of purple and yellow and behind my knee is a rasberry/purple blend.

Another adventure I had was taking attempting to take off the old cleats from my bike shoes.  One bolt would not come out and of course I hadn't dug ALL the dirt out so I ended up stripping it.  GREAT!!  So I dropped it off a the LBS close to work and they drilled it out for me.  It had to happen.  On my last ride at Wompatuck my left cleat did come out at inopportune times during the ride... and although didn't cause a crash, caused some close calls.  The ride today was easy, and with new cleats on new pedals (I got myself a pair of XT pedals as Annie will sooner than later be converting to clipless so I figured I'd give her the new pedals I had put on the HiFi originally) things were a bit "tight" unclipping.  That's one of the things I love about the pedals I've been using - they adjust to your personal comfort level in terms of clip-ease.

So the leg is feeling good, the cleats are all set and the pedals will be tuned in for that perfect clipness... all things leading to the best news.  Preride this Sunday at 10am.  All the arrows are up on the course, which apparently has been modified from last year to include more singletrack with some short steep climbs thrown in there.  The fact that it has changed from last year makes no difference to me as I'll be riding it for the first time, but I'm excited/anxious to get out there and see what I'll be facing in a week!!!  Oh boy...  the nerves haven't started but I know they will soon.  I'm certainly not near the weight I'd like to be for race season, my legs are OK, and my lungs are no where near good.  But it's only a 5 miler, so I should be able to push through it and get my ass in gear for the next one.

I'm ready for the eye-opener... hello race world (First Timer class anyway), here I come.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Walk with a gangsta lean

Normally I love the fact that I work on a campus setting.  I get to escape the little closet of an office I have and walk around.  Go check in on kids as they ride horses, in gym class, pull them from math... whatever.  Just to get up and out of a chair.

Since the HiFi's first scaring I have not enjoyed walking around so much.  The HiFi wasn't the only one to suffer injury.  And no, I'm not talking about beardface who broke his collarbone.  I'm talking about my damn leg.  My initial assessment was the damn IPhone caused the most damage (while my leg destroyed the steroid injected protective cover) which is the main issue with residual annoyance.  But the HiFi, pissed that I let it hit rock, did exact revenge on my leg.

Check out the photo evidence of my injury.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I hurt myself today.

Ok it wasn't today, but I did hurt myself.

On Saturday, Michael and I went on a couple's bike ride for his birthday. We went back to the first place we ever went to together because it has a lot of paved trails for a beginner. I felt like I did a fairly good job, aside from a 60 second crying spell after making it up a steep incline. I made it up the hill while never getting off my bike, but yet I still felt pathetic.

Pointless acute sobbing aside, it was a wonderful day. The weather was a strong and sunny 50 degrees. We rode for the same amount of time as the last trip there, while squeezing in an additional three miles. We even got the chance to take a few pictures. Overall, a great trip.

"Trip" being the operative word.

It had to happen sometime

What a great weekend!!
Weather wise things bounced back from the cruel joke that was played on us on April Fool's.  The sun came out and temps jumped up.  It also happened to be my birthday on Saturday.  And UCONN beat Kentucky to advance to the National Championship.

Saturday Annie and I went for a ride at Wompatuck.  It was a great ride.  We got some nice miles in and took some pictures.  I'll leave the details of this ride to Annie.

When we returned from our ride I discovered that a preride for Winding Trails had been scheduled for Sunday morning.  Oh decisions...  UCONN was playing, Annie made ribs and green beans for my birthday dinner, and there were beers to be enjoyed.  Google maps listed the course at just above 2 hours away... I know that to be on the high side, but a 10am ride time would mean an early morning for me.  This is my first race and I want to be as prepared as I can be so I seriously considered attending.  I jumped on the forum and attempted to post a question as to whether or not another preride would be scheduled in the future.  Apparently my posts have to be approved, and apparently no one approves anything on a Saturday evening, soooo I went to bed not knowing if there would be another opportunity.  My posts never ended up showing up so I messaged the ride organizer to no avail.  In the end Annie convinced me to not go and bank on there being another opportunity.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I guess I shouldn't complain about being cold...

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

So I actually went out this week on Thursday, and I bitched and moaned when I got back because my ears and fingers were freezing.  I was biking in Boston near the harbor so it was cold...but after seeing this video of people from my home state; I think I should toughen up. 

You gotta love West Virginia. :)

Actually posted by Annie