Sunday, April 27, 2008

In the Dirt

Last night we got some light (very light, thank you) rain. Reports at breakfast said CB was about the same. What little rain we got dried off by noon, so decided it was time to do a longer ride on the new trail bike.

Was a pretty nice day at Manawa - all things considered; mid 50s, clear, variably winds. Made 2 full laps (my shortened laps) and 2 extra laps through W Sidewinder (warm-up and cool-down laps).

On my ride on Riverfront Real Estate, I found that large tree crossing has been damaged. Someone had purposely tore out the leading side of the crossing. I could not help of thinking that the damage was done my mushroom hunters - they were all over in the woods.

It was great back riding Fast Track. This was another test of the bike handling. The bike rode well.

My second lap was better - improved lines. Just about ending the ride through Fast Track, there was a pile of wood stacked right across the center of the trail. Now, the pile was not there on my first lap. Mushroom hunters again? But the pile looked purposely stack right over the trail. I have never see such wantonly interference with trail users here at Manawa.

The new bike now has logged over 11 miles. My speed was low - compared to end of the last season. 11.3 miles in 1:39. - no speed record. Some of that is conditioning, some is not able to ride as much (weather and trail conditions), and some was getting accustomed to the new bike.

All-in-all, a great day in the woods.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wrap it Up!

I was in town for breakfast. The weather was getting pretty nice, the ground is drying, and there's a new bike at Xtreme Wheels ready for me to ride. It didn't much time for me to change clothes, grab my gear, and head to the bike shop.

My goal was to make a test ride at Manawa. Then, if that goes well, over to Swanson Park.

I rode W Sidewinder to warm up and to get used to the bike on singletrack. That went well. I noticed that on sharp turns I have a tendency to over steer - nothing I can't overcome. Heading back into Woodchopper, I felt how the bike grabs the trail when climbing.

By the time I was on W Sidewinder again, I was in my groove - good lines. When I rode at the shop Thursday, I was worried about the higher ride/bottom bracket. When I ended my ride on W Sidewinder, my position on the bike felt natural.

So, over the Swanson Park. Lets see how it climbs, specially with all of the roots.

The bike dug in and climbed great - no problem with the roots. The only thing that limited my climbing was my physical conditioning - I need to get in better shape, working on it. Down the trail over the roots, "what roots?". The suspension did it's job, giving me a smooth ride.

When I got back to the shop, Blaine asked my how I liked the ride. My comment was "wrap it up" (I will take it).

We got the bike all decked out - new heart monitor, computer, seat pack, bottle cage, and spare tube. Photos for blogs before leaving the shop, then on the car rack for the trip to home.

I commented to Blaine and Bill, the Fuel EX7 really is a "trail" bike. It belongs in the dirt. I feel that it rides better on singletrack than on pavement.

Photos: Above - on Woodchopper. Right - all decked out at the shop.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A New Ride?

The new Trek Fuel EX7 arrived at Xtreme Wheels. I was there when the bike was unloaded from the truck.

One of the first things Zach noticed and remarked to me, was the lighter bike and wheels.

Zach assembled the bike, and I was the first to ride it.

As you see from the photo, I was not expecting the bike being delivered today. After a quick ride around of the parking lot, I headed home for my helmet and riding clothes.

I rode in the area on the paved paths. I did not have my heart monitor on; it was getting a little windy for a test ride over to Manawa without the monitor.

Really looking forward to testing on singletrack. I was planning to test it Saturday after the trail day - weather and trail conditions permitting. The trail work has been canceled. So, lets see what the weather brings - if I can test ride in within of the next couple of days.

From what I have ridden, there a couple of things that will have I would have to get used to (or changed). The biggest thing I noticed (and had talked with Blaine before it was ordered) was the higher bottom bracket. You ride higher, which resulting a more "lay over the handlebars", prone position. Blaine said that if needed, the handlebar height or headset could be changed.

All-in-all, an impressive bike.

Now, if I can only get my car repaired before the weekend...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back in the saddle

Eight days without a ride - ouch. Now 2 rides within 24 hours. I am exhausted.

Over the last week, the weather was just not with me. Lots of rain and wind. Last weekend the weather was good, I had gotten busy with other stuff.

Yesterday was NOT turning into a good day. After breakfast, I had car problems. The ignition switch is locked up - has happened 2 time before, 2 years apart. Means had to have the car towed. Stopped by at Xtreme Wheels. It was that day I needed to decide to order a new trail bike. Well, they had already ordered one - Trek Fuel EX7. Hope the bike is the ride for me.

I needed the Tuesday Evening Ride - any bike ride. Dennis rode with me. Headed out towards Manawa. Not sure why I was not riding well. Heart rate was high during the ride - and I was not riding that fast. Maybe I ate to much in the day, perhaps it was the 8 days off the bike. Rode the hybrid. Still was a good ride - how can you complain when it is 73 deg, sunny, very light wind, and you are on your bicycle!

Today was the first Wednesday Morning Ride (mountain/trail bikes). Now, I had problems sleeping - probably from the ride last night. But I wanted to get out to ride since the morning dawned clear and calm. Little cool but forecast for warm day. Wonders of wonders even Zach made it - isn't great to ride in the early morning?.

Blaine, Randy, Zach and I headed out from the bike shop. We rode the paved trail to the Lake Manawa mountain bike trail. Started on the West side, moved over to the East side. I was riding pretty good - heart rate was much lower than last evening. Layers started coming off as the temperature climbed.

Zach headed back, Randy, Blaine and I rode the West side again, then rode to the shop. Great morning ride. (Thanks for starting the ride, Randy).

If you want to join us for the weekly ride - show up at Xtreme Wheels ready to ride at 7am.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This and That

For those of you that are looking for my race photos, your wait is over. Last night I got them posted on the NaugaBike web site. Here's the link to the Maskenthine Race.

Sunday, it was trail day at Tranquility Park. Some 17 or so THOR members turned out. Order of the day was erosion control. In addition, the new trail markers were installed.

Thanks to everyone helped put. Great to see you up and about, Doug.

Monday I got my first true dirt ride. Rode the green & blues at Lake Manawa. Sure was great to be back playing in the woods! By the time I finished my loop, I was really feeling good. Everything seemed to click again.

I came across one dead fall in Woodchopper. Also, one spot in Woodchopper had some brush hanging over the trail - cleared that. Another THOR member says there's another one over the trail. Later today I will be calling our TrailLeader. Make sure he knows about the problem and discuss plans for the Lake Manawa Clean-up Day.

Wednesday, would have liked to ride in the dirt, but the trails looked just to soft from the rain Tuesday. I headed out from Xtreme Wheels, over to Manawa, checkedout the singletrack, then rode around the lake. Turned out to be a pretty good ride. My log topped over 400 miles for the year so far.

Spend some time reviewing specs on trail bikes. I had been planning to buy a full suspension 69er. But, I am not sure Trek has the bike dialed in quite right. And it does not yet have the EVO and ABP. That leaves me the Fuel EX. Several times (couple models of) I have ridden the Fuel EX7. It is a sweet ride. Would like to ride it now with the new EVO and ABP refinements. I could also ride (check out) the specialized Stumpjumper. That was a good ride last year at Black Hills FTF. Lastly, I could just tide my Trek 4300 for another year (but what is the fun in that).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Race Season is Off and Running

The Psycowpath mountain bike racing season kicked off this morning with the Maskenthine XC Classic. Tired of winter, shaking off cabin fever, over 100 riders took to the trails.

The weather was windy, cool in the morning, and with hazy sunshine (but compared to last year season opener - who could complain). The trail was in good Spring riding condition. There were a couple of soft, damp spots.

The race was hosted by the Elkhorn Valley Cycling Club. One racers won a KHS singlespeed bike (compliments of Cleveland Bike & Sports of Norfolk).

As usual, yours truly was busy photographing the races. Once the nearly 400 shots are processed, they will be on my web site (or a link will be on my web site).

On the way home, I was able to do some PR work. At the West Point McD, a guy stopped to chat. He is a mountain biker but had not raced in some years. He directed me to Wilderness Park in West Point - it now has hiking trails. They could be upgraded to mountain bike trails.

In Bennington, at a convenience store, the Manager talked with me. A friend had showed him Tranquility Park - he had had no idea idea we had such trails. Gave him my card, suggesting that he check out the T.H.O.R. web site. Guess it was the Bike Masters jersey and Iowa ball cap!

A busy, enjoyable, productive day.