Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall is here - some ponderings

Here we are in mid-September and fall is on our doorstep. Leaves haven't changed color yet but the morning temperatures have dipped into the 40's and low 50's at night bringing on that crisp fall morning feel that I love. This is the time of year when we can have 30-40 degree swings in temperatures a day - so morning rides without wind can be downright cold but the afternoon rides and be hot and in a stiff wind. Gee, how's that any different than riding in the spring. The refreshing new smells of fall, that's what. That wet morning smell on the hay and grass fields from the dew. The frantic activity of bugs (keeps your mouths shut while riding) in the fall air. Catching those floating spider webs with your bike and trying to get them off while not wrecking.

Mid-September also means the last preparations for the Manastash Metric century ride the first Saturday of October. I look forward to this ride every year as it's the last big, formal ride that I do. For some reason this year tendonitis and arthritis in the knees has been a bigger issue than in the past. I don't know if it's the inconsistency in training - i.e. 4-5 days one week and then 2-3 the next - or more physiological. I already ride because of prior knee surgeries (3) and missing 80% of my meniscus in the right knee. There's also the developing arthritis and chondromalacia - all reminders that I'm not 18 anymore.

This year I'll be taking a couple of weeks off toward the end of October to give the body a break and also to mix in some weight training and other exercise. I'm starting to set goals for next year which then means I have to set the off season goals - which you should consider as well. What's the proper mix of weight training and cardio in the off season to aid. I'll definitely be more serious about leaning up and trying to get to that elusive 155lb body weight. Hill climbing will be easier at that weight and, while I've wanted to lose that weight the past couple of years, I really didn't go into it with the right attitude. That'll change this year.

So, it's time to look back and evaluate this year and plan for next. To look forward to some cross training and to relax a little. Before you know it the snow will be flying and we'll be cooped up inside wishing we could be out on the open road again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another "adventure" ride

As the Manastash Metric Century/Half Century approaches (don't forget to send in your registration) I've had to create time to ride and try to get my fitness back up to a decent level. Like all the other riders in the valley I've had to deal with a very finicky Mother Nature this year. It's limited the miles ridden and changed the training. But, beyond that there have been kid's sports, a job change, family functions and a foot problem that has been getting worse over the past couple of years and had gotten to a point this summer where I could not push hard and my average pace has dropped almost two miles an hour. For a rider who loves going uphill I've had to limit my climbing because if the burning and numbness in my foot. After investigating different inserts for shoes I bought a pair and was looking forward to trying them out.

I have a couple of employees in Boise, ID that report to me and drive there every 5-6 weeks for work. The drive can be pretty boring, especially through Oregon with their slower speed limits. But, I'm also scanning places to ride and take a bike with me on every trip as I drive. This trip the temps were in the mid to high 90 degree range in Boise and work overloaded me (worked until 9:00pm each day) so I didn't get a chance to ride. But, I was really itching to hit the road.

So, on the way north I stopped in a little town called Durkee in Oregon. This town is just south of Baker City but the road that runs next to the interstate has a hill that I really wanted to ride. It was 95 degrees and the wind was blowing 5-10 mph in my face as I headed out. Before I could even ride 100 ft I had to stop at the train crossing for a freight train to pass - in the middle of nowhere! Once it cleared the crossing I took off on my 1984 Gitane Sprint. I have just changed the gearing to a 52-38 and 12-24 set up front and rear. This makes for some decent climbing yet a big enough gear for the downhills.

I had the new inserts in the shoes and was trying not to push too hard too soon. The hill I really wanted to climb was 2-3 miles up the road and I went up it easily with no foot problems. As I got close to the top and rode across the freeway I realized the train was crawling up the hill on the tracks. "Maybe I have a chance to pass it", I thought. Being competitive I now had a goal. I figured I'd ride as far as I could or 10 miles whichever came first and then turnaround and continue the drive home. I passed the train at 6.5 miles and realized how much this ride was similar to Ellensburg - much of it was a "false flat" - gradual incline - with a headwind. The last two miles were probably a 5% incline and by the time I got to the top I was getting real tired. The bike seemed real heavy and I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Until I was ready to turn around, that is, and I realized the front tire was almost flat. That explained the resistance. I run sew up tires and as I inspected the tire I realized there was no penetration through the outer tire to the tube. It had to be a leaky valve stem.

I was able to get about 80 lbs of pressure in the tire and headed back down the hill to the car. I coasted most of the way and topped 30 mph with very little effort. Half way back I stopped and put some more air in the tire.

Arriving back at the car I realized the road had been so hot that the glue between the tires and rims was actually softening up - not a good proposition if I had had some sharp corners to negotiate. I guzzled water and chalked up another ride in a different part of the country. The best part was my feet - while having a little numbness on the ride after 10+ miles of incline and hills I was encouraged because the burning and cramping had not appeared. Maybe I'm on the road to some healing and back to my former self on the bike.

The little church in Durkee

The train that became the target to pass

The first hill - about 1.5 miles long and not as hard as it looked

Talk about some dry country and large bales of straw

The resemblance to the Kittitas Valley was uncanny