Friday, December 29, 2006

Coombs Canyon

This first picture is the beginning of the Coombs Canyon climb. You'll also notice from the sign that it is also part of the HWY 395 bicycle route...a route that takes you through town on the back roads, away from the dangerous traffic. This is one of our favorite climbs. It's easy enough to do in the middle chain ring, and short enough to race up. Most of the time we just ride up the hill at a normal pace, but once in a while this turns into the drag strip. It's more fun to race when Ryan doesn't ride, because he smokes everyone, all the time.

It was just Kristy and I today. Actually Patrick rode too, but we missed him by a minute at the rendezvous place...he did a different trail. The climb felt great. I could feel the xmas calories burning away, heating our bodies in the below freezing temperatures.

We continued over the top of the climb, enjoying the view of Washoe Valley. This is where the thrilling part of the ride starts...a fast descent down a sandy canyon that leads to the old V&T Railroad Grade. In the summer this descent is very sandy, but today it was wet and slightly frozen. Even the snow in the shadows had excellent traction. We flew down the straightaways, and railed the corners. Part of the thrill of the downhill is the high-up feeling you get looking down at the little cars on the highway below.

At the bottom of the hill we got on the V&T Rail Road Grade and headed back towards town. The parts of the trail in the northern shadows of the hills were covered in snow. Cold crunchy snow that was just a blast to ride through. The V&T is still pretty high above the city, and provides great views of the city below.

At the end of the ride we both agreed that trail was so fun today, that it made the cold, numb parts of our body seem tolerable. Warmer temperatures are expected this weekend!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is it possible to fall off the trainer?

Not a roller trainer, a rim drive trainer?

Why yes, yes it is. Not to worry, Brent's project car (1964 Chevy Nova) managed to catch me although since the door is not currently installed on the car, I almost fell inside the car.

How did I fall off the trainer you ask? Well let me just tell you how. I was doing my usual Spinerval work out and was out of the saddle sprinting in my Tour de France time trial and my minute man was just ahead of me when all of the sudden the back wheel comes out of the trainer and I start falling to the left. Yes the left, the side where I have one good ankle. Evidently, the mechanism that holds the bike in place had come loose and all that sprinting I was doing was the final straw.

Can you imagine less than one week away from getting the air cast off and I break the other ankle?

I think I would lose my mind.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Snowy Wednesday

True to my word, I went out riding in Wednesday's snow storm. The wind was driving hard from the North, making progress slow, and forcing snow into the air vents of my helmet and onto my bald head. I may need to add a balaclava to my riding wardrobe for days like this.

The climb goes into the west, and this provided some relief from the wind. The temperatures were not very cold, so the ground was kind of soggy from the precipitation. This made for a great workout on the single speed.

Once at the top, our descent led us to the south and east. The change in direction made it feel like spring time! My head instantly warmed up, and the brutal headwind became a pleasant tailwind.

Patrick was absent today. I did see Dennis briefly, but he retreated back to work due to insufficient clothing. He was minus a wind stopper layer today, and the wind was going right through his jersey all the way to his bones. Today's crew consisted of myself, Barbara, and Kathy.

Tag; I'm it.

Ok, here goes. Five things you may not know about me....

1. I like to match. My husband and I wear matching shoes and socks. We wear our, Keens and Smartwool socks, just about everyday. We also have some matching riding gear and plan on having matching road bikes this spring.

2. I was a dancer from 8 years old through college. I performed in several local shows but never made it big.

3. I escaped from the cops, when I was 17! I was attending an under age drinking party with my brother and some friends. When someone opened the door and invited the cops in. The party broke up and people scattered. I pushed out a bedroom screen and jumped out the window. I climbed a wood fence, (in a mini skirt and tights no less), then crawled on my hands and knees through a field of brush. I thought we would be caught for sure when the cops started searching the field with flash lights. I crawled on my belly and made it to the street. Just in time for my brother to pull up in my car. He had stolen it out from under the police. We whispered to our friends in the field, gathered them up, and took off. Now that I think about it, I can remember another incident like this. I was always the kid that never got caught.

4. My husband and I have been together for 18 years now. He is also my bestest riding partner. We met in the Dining Commons at UNR. He taught me the most crucial college survival skills. Like, "how to ditch your classes and still pass" and "how to stay up all night and still make it to class the next day".

5. Natural childbirth sucks! You don't get any points for not having drugs so what's the point. Just opt for the no pain method and enjoy it. I now have a wonderful, handsome, brilliant son who is 6. I am fortunate to be able to stay home with him and enjoy every minute.

6. I used to be a punk rock chick. I was mistaken for a rock-a-billy chick once. Now I am just a biker chick.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Missing Summer

Nope...haven't ridden since last Thursday. Today there were high winds. The sort of winds that knock semi-trailer trucks over in Washoe Valley. I chose not to ride today, instead hiding out in a Borders Book Store. The book store is a six mile drive (round trip) from work. Being in the car that long at lunch time made me sick! I felt like I was cheating on my bike. Patrick went riding by himself today making me feel even worse about it. Tomorrow I owe it to myself, my bike, and poor Patrick to get out and ride no matter what the weather.

In the meantime, I'll post this picture from the archives. Bill riding the Flume Trail above Lake Tahoe...just over the hill from where we ride at lunch. Ahhhh...summer time. I miss you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tagged?

Okay, I'll play... since I have a few minutes to spare.

1. I'm a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction...

2. Contrary to what my wife believes, I do NOT love my dog more than I love her. But should I be worried that she calls him Handsome but never calls me by such names?

3. I wore my hair long from the time I was 11 till I was 26. It was long enough to reach my belt when I cut it off for good. My least favorite question was "How long did it take you to grow that?"

4. I hate wearing shoes.

5. I was a member of The Sierra Nevada Boys Choir When I was 10 years old.

There you have it.

First Week of Snow

This week marks the first week of true snow riding for us. Temperatures in the high 20's, and snow only an inch deep made for great snow riding conditions. The cold, crisp snow has plenty of traction and makes a pleasant crunching noise under the tires. And although the streets looked treacherous, the packed snow never got too slippery. It's when things melt a bit during the day and then refreeze at night that things get scary...

Some of our upper trails are unaccessible this time of year, but since it takes so long just to get to the trails in the snowy conditions, we wouldn't have time for them anyway. This trail here has a gentle climb, perfect for single speed use.

You may also notice in the picture that I'm sporting my new Gator Booties. This is the first year that I've tried them, and I love them! My feet stay comfortable the entire ride. I also enjoy the fact that they in no way make my feet look extremely large in proportion to my skinny legs. One of the tricks is to make sure you start with warm feet, socks, and shoes. This helps keep the warmth the entire ride. Don't pull your gear out of the frozen car 10 minutes before the ride....

Here we see Patrick on his girlfriend's bike. An older, but pretty cool looking Marin. Moments before the ride, Patrick discovered his Santa Cruz was freewheeling in both directions! We both assumed the freewheel was busted, but it turns out that it was just frozen. Anyone ever encountered this before? It seems to be fine now...

This week also marked Kristy's first time riding in the snow. She had a good time, but is still working out the right clothing combination. We've since gone and purchased some new gloves, pants, and a beanie. Unfortunately the pants we ordered were not as described. They were made with a fabric called "Tundra Fleece", but didn't really look like fleece. They were somewhat wind repellent, but not to the degree you want in the freezing cold. They'd be great for temperatures in the high 30's, low 40's I think. We're going to go to Reno and personally pick out the warmest pants we can find! After xmas that is... The picture below shows our descent. Kristy in the foreground, and Barbara, further down the trail....

Another funny thing that happened this week, came from a pedestrian. It was a dark, cloudy, gloomy day. I was by myself in traffic, waiting at a red light. A pedestrian, bundled up in a trench coat and hat, looks at me, smiles, and says, "You're a STUD!". I almost opened my mouth to explain to him that with the correct clothing, you can actually stay quite comfortable. But then I thought, no...I'm going to let that compliment stand! I am a stud! I just gave him a big grin, and took off riding as the light turned green.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nevegal

I found a good deal at Pricepoint on the Nevegal 2.35 Stick-E Folding Bead Tire. I've been wanting to try one for a long time, but they've always been a bit expensive. I have the tire mounted, and it will be the front tire on my Kona Kula.

Before mounting the tire though, I put it on the scales. Kenda's website lists the tire as 760 grams (+or- 40 grams). Mine weighed 730 grams! Not bad for such an aggressive looking high volume tire.

I'm curious to see how the Stick-E rubber compound works. Will the softer rubber wear down quickly? Will the sand stick to it and be flung all over my down tube, making little pinging noises?

I'm very excited about the tread pattern. It reminds me of the Dunlop 756's I used run on my old Dirt Bike (Honda CR250R). The center knobs in this configuration always worked better in the sand then the staggered checkerboard style configuration. I'm hoping to see the same performance on the bicycle. The leading edge of the center knobs is ramped for less rolling resistance, and squared on the trailing edge for braking.

I also love low pressure tires. I'm going to run this tire at 30 psi, the lowest recommended tire pressure on the sidewall.

I did some Google searching on the name Nevegal. From what I can find, these tires may be named after a specialty cheese from the Belluna region in Italy. Another possibility is a high speed downhill run in the same area. Anyone got the real story on this?

Unfortunately I won't get to try the tire out for a while, as most of the dirt is now under snow. Stay tuned for the full review...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tagged

Evidently not only do we get stupid chain mail via e-mail we can also be "tagged" on a blog.

Whatever, I am bored and know I can do better than Jeff so here goes...

5 things that you, the general public, may not know about me:

1. I am a nice person - this is evidences by the fact that I purchase Christmas gifts for my ex husband, his new wife, his roommate, his roommate's kid, and my brother (who lives with my ex husband). Oh and there also was the time when I paid for my ex husbands fiance's wedding dress but that was inadvertent since he charged it on my JC Penny card without my knowledge;

2. I grew up in a single wide trailer near the freeway. Ok, number one might have been a clue;

3. I have a pet Betta fish that I have trained to jump out of the water for his food pellets;

4. Speaking of trained fish, I worked at Sea World in San Diego as a teen;

5. I had to change High Schools after my junior year and start a new school as a senior and was not part of the witness protection program.

The chain stops here...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've Been Tagged!

There I was, minding my own business over at Snakebite's, reading about how he had been "tagged". When I got to the bottom of the post, I was shocked to find that he had tagged me!

Being tagged means that you have to list some things about yourself that people may not know about you. In the case of this tagging, I must list five items. So here goes...

  1. I was born in Carson City, NV. I have lived and worked no more than 30 miles away from the spot of my birth my entire life. I raced BMX when I was 15, and got my first mountain bike at 19...a brand new 1989 Specialized Rock Hopper.
  2. In High School, I was the bassist in a Big Hair, Heavy Metal, Glam, Rock Band named Atomic Gypsy. See if you can pick me out in the picture. Extra Credit: In the same picture, identify Brent and Scott.
  3. I went to college for a few years, studying music and biology. I dropped out to pursue a rock band career with a band named BBQ'd Salad. Things didn't pan out, so I got a job cooking and delivering pizza, followed by a job filling orders in a warehouse.
  4. While attending college I met my future wife. We met in 1989, and got married in 1993. Kristy is now also my bestest riding partner! We also have a 6 year old mini cyclist.
  5. These days I'm a Computer Systems Programmer. The job pays well, and supports my bicycle habit.
Fascinating huh? Now I have to tag some people! The envelope please....

And the names are:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Competition 1.0 - No Slackers Allowed!!

Barbara loaned me this Spinervals VHS tape to use on the trainer in the garage whilst I am convalescing. When she loaned is she said "it is hard". In fact, the box has a difficulty level rating of 9 out of 10. Friday night I decided to try it out and I must admit I was scared.

The first thing I did in preparation was remove all my make up. I then put on my spandex padded cycling shorts and a t-shirt. I never thought I would miss cycling shorts but I do. I also really really miss my cycling shoes. I can only wear one of them of course since I still have to use the boot. I then headed out to the garage and got on my bike. I started the video and warming up. Immediately I had to stop and go get Brent for help. At the bottom of the screen it tells you what ring to be in and it is based on road gearing. We had to count the teeth on the rings to figure it out on my mountain bike. OK, now I am ready....

The entire work out is only 45 minutes so you start with a warm up for a bit and then it is straight into something they call a ladder. Then you do intervals where you go real hard seated, then soft pedal, then real hard standing, then soft, etc. I was a bit curious when I first started to watch that all the riders had big towels laying across their bars. About 5 minutes into it I completely understood. I was sweating like a whore in church! At one point Brent came out to check on me (good thing) and I informed him I was doing a time trial in the Tour de France and could not be bothered. He laughed and went back into the house.

I give this video two air casts up!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Snow Bike

I wasn't sure what to do with my $50 Garage Sale Cannondale, but then I started seeing some snow bikes around the blogs. I mounted some Tioga Factory DH 2.3 tires on the rims, and took it for a spin. It worked great! The big tires aired down to 30 psi bit into the snow nicely. The neon green rack will double as a fender too.

I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture, but the paint job is black with neon green splatter paint. The super stiff aluminum frame and fork are a bit brutal off road. Definitely doesn't feel like my steel On One...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Results of Wolf vs. Bear

Last weekend I posted Wolf vs. Bear. I wanted to compare the 2.5 versions of the IRC Trail Bear and the WTB Weirwolf, and also see how it would be to run a 970 gram front tire on the single speed. The picture shows the Trail Bear 2.5 on the front, and it's little brother, the 2.25 on the rear (750 grams).

The 210 gram heavier Trail Bear is noticeable from the get-go. It accelerates slower, and makes the front end a bit heavier for wheelies. On the plus side, the tall, closely spaced knobs roll very smoothly, and stick like glue to the trail. The Eastern Sierras are mostly sand (decomposed granite), so shedding the wet dirt was not a problem.

When comparing this tire to the Weirwolf though, I think it falls a bit short on overall performance for XC riding. While the Weirwolf might lose a bit to the Trail Bear in traction, I've always felt in total control with the Weirwolf. It's a very predictable tire. Spinning a half a pound less weight makes the Weirwolf a bit more exciting in the acceleration category, and also makes it more uphill friendly. This is important to me, since I spend most of my time riding uphill.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, the last time I tried this tire was on my 35 lb Kona Coiler. The heavier tire on the already heavy bike made the bike too sluggish for XC use. I was surprised to learn though, that the heavy Trail Bear was acceptable for single speed use. My single speed is 24 lbs, so adding the heavier tire was not a huge penalty. It may also be noted that I am 5 lbs heavier than I was in the summer when I tested the Trail Bear on the Coiler. I didn't feel like I was constantly struggling to keep up with the gang, which was a big problem on the Coiler. Since the Weirwolf that I pulled off the Single Speed is near retirement, I plan to keep the Trail Bear on the SS until something else comes along...which could be a matter of days. The other Jeff has a Panaracer Fire FR 2.4 he wants me to try, and Brent already loaned me a Conti Vertical Pro 2.3 for demo. So many tires, so little time.

I ran the Trail Bear at 35 psi, 5 psi below the sidewall recommendation, with no problems. In fact, I plan to drop it down to 30 psi for the next ride. Every bit of extra suspension you can get is welcome on the rigid fork!

Wii Have a Problem

As we all know, there are risks in mountain biking. Many non-riders think we take unnecessary risks, and that the sport is far too dangerous. But if you compare mountain biking to other activities, like playing your new Nintendo Wii game system, you'll see that mountain biking is really a safe alternative. Check out THIS WEBSITE and see what I mean. Broken arms, black eyes, damaged property...

Note: For those of you not familiar with the new Nintendo Wii, it comes with a new wireless controller that is sensitive to motion. You can swing it like a sword, swing it overhand like throwing a baseball, etc.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wise Words

"The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash."

~Julie Furtado

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Week of Mild Weather

We've had pre-winter weather this week. Enough rain to moisten the sand, but nothing more. Temperatures are in the 40's at ride time. This picture is taken near 5,500 elevation. As you can see in the picture, the snow level is much higher. Snow Valley Peak, the mountain above Kristy's head, is 9,214 feet tall. Carson City is in a Rain Shadow, so it's normal for all the precipitation to stay on the other side of the Sierras. Soon there will be snow though. Until then, I'm enjoying the perfect dirt conditions. The sand is packed down, and the tires are hooking up. You can really fly through the corners!

Secret: Just to the right of the tree behind Todd, is the start of another new trail. It needs to be ridden in. Duty calls!

Here's another picture looking down Ash Canyon towards Carson City. It's a pretty steep climb to get to this point, but the downhill is all fun singletrack, making it more than worth it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Happy Dance - 3 More Weeks

(Click on picture to make her dance) I just got back from my follow up appointment with the orthopedic doctor and had an x-ray. He says I am healing nicely and no longer have to sleep with the aircast on because my fracture is so stable. He recommended that I start some range of motion exercises. The best part is that he said only 3 weeks to go! I will then be out of the aircast and put in a lace up support that will fit inside my regular shoe. I can then ride my bike and drive a car.

My new return to the ride (and independence) date is January 2, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wolf vs. Bear

I like tires. I mean, I really like tires. There's nothing like the smell of opening up your Pricepoint shipment, and smelling the new rubber. I'd have to say that fresh rubber is what gives bike shops that exciting new bike smell.

Also, tires are the cheapest performance enhancing component on the bike. You can really enhance your ride by picking the right tire for the terrain and conditions. My favorite tires these days are of the low pressure / high volume variety. I ride a lot of sand, and the extra flotation of a larger tire makes a huge difference. The big tires seem to add an inch of travel to your suspension too.

One of my favorite tires up front is the Weirwolf 2.5 from WTB (shown on the right here). The shorter smaller knobs in the center roll quickly, but hook up good. The aggressive side knobs hook up great in turns. The Weirwolf is also the lightest 2.5 tire I've found, weighing around 760 grams when new. The Weirwolf I just pulled off the single speed weighs around 705 grams from all the miles I've put on it. It's been in service on various bikes since the spring of 2004!

But even though I love this tire, I'm always wondering what another tire might ride like. I grabbed an almost new IRC Trail Bear 2.5 (the tire on the left in these pictures) from the library and installed it on the single speed.

I originally bought this tire for my Kona Coiler, a 35lb bike. The tire was advertised at 750 grams, and was only $15! I thought it might compare well to the Weirwolf. As it turns out, the Trail Bear actually weighs 970 grams! I gave it a go on the Coiler, but I just couldn't keep up with the group on the big climbs we do at lunch. It felt unstoppable on the downhill, but most of our lunch hour is spent climbing. It just didn't work out for this application, so the tire went into the pile.

Last week, I was riding with my buddy Jeff, and he had a Panaracer Fire FR 2.4 on the front of his single speed. This tire is advertised at 860 grams, but Jeff was smoking us on the trail. And even though I think Jeff would smoke me no matter what tire he was using, it got me thinking about that heavy tire I put back into the pile. Since my single speed is only 24 lbs, 11 lbs lighter than my Coiler, would this tire be suitable for single speed use? In other words, would 11 lbs less in bike weight make up for a 1/2 lb increase in tire weight? This will be a question I hope to answer this week.

The extra weight on the Trail Bear obviously comes from the more aggressive center knobs, but the sidewalls appear to be a bit thicker too. The low end of the recommended tire pressure is 40 psi, but I think I could easily get away with a psi in the low 30's. The tire looks slightly taller than the Weirwolf, and may give a softer ride up front...a quality that is welcome on the single speed's rigid front fork.

Stay tuned for the results of this week's test...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Beta Blogger

After months of waiting patiently, I was deemed worthy to upgrade my account to a Blogger in Beta account. After a few hours of learning how things worked, I started to like it!

Fellow contributors, You will need to sign on to Blogger. There you will be prompted to upgrade your account. Follow the instructions, creating a new Google account. When you're done, your name will reappear in the list of contributors!

And another thing...I also updated the template with a winter look.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let's Ride!

I was feeling great 3 weeks after my injury, so I decided to hit the trails last week. This was a week earlier than the ER doctor recommended, so I took it easy. The first day we did an easier ride, the Railroad grade. It was, "fricken freezing Mr. Bigglesworth,", but I dressed in everything I own and just did it. All in all I felt pretty tired and out of energy, but was so glad to be back riding. Then Wednesday we did the new Postal Route that is currently being constructed. Going up C1 I remember almost dying. Luckily I was roasting, so I made a quick stop to remove some excess clothing and catch my breath. I really enjoyed the new route, but there was still one section that was not finished yet, probably where Sandie had fallen. I just took it slow and had fun. Then Thursday, we took the same route but in reverse, which was a blast going up the hilly singletrack. Plus, Kathy wanted to ride a bit longer, so we said our good-bye's to the group and took the long way back. We went to the top of Deer Run and came back down the trail again, so we got a lot of singletrack in that day. I had a lot of fun with Kathy. She knows a lot of little side trails that we took on the way back. We also saw the Bobcat that day too so I couldn't have asked for a better end to my first week back.

This week started off great. We did the same Postal Route trail again and noticed the new work that has been done on the trail. Looks like the section that was rough last week is almost finished this week. It is amazing...the little dirt elves have been busy. Thanks Jeff the Postman! I heard that Brent has worked on it some too! It is really coming along and will be a nice singletrack addition to the area! This time I was able to accomplish a section of the Deer Run trail that I haven't been able to do up until now, so I feel real good about that. Jeff got a picture of it above. There is nothing like completing a section that you have been struggling with. You feel like, "wow, that wasn't that bad at all." Now I know I can do it and will be able to from now on.

Wahoo! I just got back from today's ride and it felt awesome! Today we rode Lakeview, and although I was sluggish on the uphill, I was able to complete 2 more little sections of the trail that I had been struggling with. One of the sections is at the top of the hill where you get onto the dirt trail from the street. It is a bumpy and twisty little singe track section, and I have just been fighting it. Today I told myself I was going to do it, and I did it as if I had done it 100 times before. It wasn't even hard! I probably just got it in my head that it was hard, so I sabotaged myself. I got it figured out now though...I tell myself I can do it, and I will be able to do it.

It is such a great feeling to be doing something that you have told yourself for years that you could never do, like biking for example. I would say, "I could never do trails like that or ride in the cold or do hills in the dirt, blah, blah, blah..... Not true anymore because I can finally do it with consistent practice. I am finally past the frustrating stage and into the rewarding stage. Each time I accomplish something new that I wasn't able to do before I feel amazing! It is such a huge personal reward and I just can't get enough. I am trying to share it with everyone, because it's awesome!

Sprint Stats:

Today's Sprint: Coming out of the last turn I was still chatting but decided to go for it, I was in the back, so I moved my way up and tried to get Dennis interested. Then I see Jeff on my left going for it, so I chased after him once he passed me. I finally caught up to him at the last turn but couldn't pass. Next time, Jeff.

Favorite Sprint: Last week I was shifting into gear at the last turn, so I was all ready. I approached Todd's back wheel and he says, "I thought that was you." So he takes off but he's on his single speed. I catch him, then he takes off, I catch him again then he takes off again. I caught him at the end, but then I look up and Kathy zooms by both of us. It was the best! She kept up and then made her move. It was great!

2 Weeks Down - 5 To Go...

Today it has officially been 2 weeks since my accident, and one week since I saw the Orthopedic doctor. He told me at that appointment that as soon as I could to go ahead and walk on it (pain permitting). Well I had been trying to take a step ever since that appointment. Finally this past Saturday, I took my first step without the crutches. It was an incredibly freeing moment. I have been crutch-free ever since. Brent and I went Christmas shopping at Costco that day and I did pretty good. I had to use the cart every now and then to rest but other than that, it was great. I have to walk with the Aircast on so I still use the crutches to get in and out of the shower.

It is pretty comical to watch me walk, particularly up stairs so Brent has taken to calling me Frankenstein.