Group Rides

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Layer up

Forecasts for the winter are for warmer than normal temperatures and a little more rain than snow.  That's fantastic to keep riding.  I haven't moved toward a studded tire bicycle but know people who have.  However, wet roads are something that is easily done - just ask all those daily commuters in the Seattle area.  Some good fenders on your bike help limit the road grime and spray and make the ride a little more enjoyable.  Check out options at the Recycle Bicycle shop.

More importantly is to properly layer your clothing while riding.  If it's 40 degrees or warmer I usually have three layers up top - polypropylene or some other sweat wicking material, a jersey and lightweight jacekt (I tend to work hard and heat up a lot).  For temperatures under 40 degrees I'll usually add a base layer to aid in the warmth factor.   I also use either mid-weight leg tights for temperatures above 48 and up to the mid-50's or so and then switch to leg warmers above the mid-50's to low 60's.  I'll wear protection on the legs until it's a little warmer thanks to arthritis that has developed.  Normally the guideline is 60 degrees or warmer you don't need tights.

The feet have three different options - lightweight toe covers, mid-weight full booties and heavyweight booties.  The heavyweight ones are used only on the coldest days - rides below 30 degrees.

For the hands - either a lightweight wool liner glove followed by a mid-weight full fingered glove - down to temperatures between 40 and 50.  Above 50 I'll just use the mid-weight glove.  Below 40 I typically what I call a penguin glove- thumb and only two fingers with a cover that's neoprene to keep the cold off the hands.

Finally, for the head either a lightweight cap under the helmet or a balaclava for the colder days.

Proper layers make those winter rides more enjoyable.  With the roads being fairly clear so far - even with the temperatures being colder - the riding has been great through November and here's hoping for more through February.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Profile - Richard Stripes, local teen racing enthusiast

One of things we're missing in Ellensburg is encouraging younger riders to get into the sport and even to race if they want to.  Over the years a few riders from Ellensburg have been successful on the state level racing front but more in the area of triathlons and time trials.  Several have had success on the mountain bike trails.  One type of racing getting very popular is cyclocross (see my earlier post about this type of racing) and Ellensburg has seen excellent participation over the past few years in the cyclocross racing circuit.

One of the local riders who got involved in cross racing this year is high school student Richard Stripes.  This fall is his first season racing and the results are showing his potential as he scored his first win just three races into the season.  Richard is still ranked 3rd in the MFG Cyclocross Beginners Men category despite missing the past three races because of a non-cycling injury.

I had an opportunity to ask Richard some questions about cycling and his getting involved in cyclocross racing.

What prompted you to get into cycling?

 Richard:  My cycling story starts in the spring of 2011. Ever since I was young I've loved riding bikes no matter what. But in March of that year my dad decided to start riding his bike. I got my bike fixed and "it" began. My dad did a 15 minute,  3 mile loop and decided to say he was faster than me. I corrected him and we timed mine. After I finished he forgot to save the time but we concluded that I was faster. Ever since then we have been going at it seeing whose faster on that loop up the hill down the hill on the flats. Finishing many rides in a sprint finish. I was prompted by my competitive nature to start trying to be better than other people. I then fell in love with riding my bicycle.

Do you have friends who ride? If not, what do they think of you?

Richard:  I have no high school friends that ride due to them all being major wussies. But I do have people and bike shop employees I have met on group rides that have become friends.

I have found three basic opinions on my cycling: 1) the people that hate it 2) the people that like it but think I'm stupid for doing it how I do and 3) then the ones that love it. The first ones aren't athletes and are lazy and don't understand whats so amazing about what cyclists do.  The second group are the ones that think I look stupid in my awesome ReCycle Shop jersey but think that I am a badass on an expensive bike.  The third group are people that ride a lot and also the bike shop employees that understand the significance of what cyclists do. Carrie and Jordan are my closest riding friends and think it is awesome that in a summer I put 3000 miles on my bike. But, of course, being me I don't get any attention from girls or high schoolers in general about how much better my sport is than anything the school offers other than cross country. 

What's your favorite thing about cycling?

Richard: My favorite thing about cycling you ask? I cannot pick one single thing! Its all a great sport! If  I'm on, or around, bikes I'm usually happy. But, if I had to pick one aspect I think it would be the freedom a person can have by simply moving their legs. The long solo rides mostly through scenic areas. Scenic riding is really fun, especially climbing mountains. I mostly like the fact that you can see all kinds of beautiful places while getting activity and having fun. It's a great way to clear my head and have freedom, on the road and trail I make the decisions on what I'm going to do. I can go as fast or slow as I want given I don't crash.

Why cyclocross racing?

 Richard:  My cross story starts when I got my Specialized Tricross. For the first month after I got it I did not ride or corner fast or take it off road. Then I rode the John Wayne trail. From there I went to Carey Lake and rode those trails. After that I loved cyclocross so much I'd ride it everyday. Then I started going on group rides. Once people noticed my cross bike and the riding ability I had to go with it they started asking . me if I was racing cross in the fall.  I said maybe until August then I started saying I hope so. Then Jordan, Ken, and I went riding in the Naneum and I was hooked on it after going 28 mph down a dirt road. So the day before my first race I spent the afternoon with Carrie riding and cleaning my bike hanging out at the bike shop.

Walk us through a cross race - do you utilize a strategy or is it every racer for them self?

Richard:  Cross racing prep starts Thursday or Friday when I get home from school. I start with downing water from Thursday night until the race. The day before the race I usually go to the bike shop and buy a Cliff bar and talk to the staff there. Before every race I clean my bike. I get two good nights of sleep before race day. 

At the race I will ride the course once and decide where I'm going to do what, such as how to deal with the trickier sections, best passing areas, how I'm going to do the barriers etc. I warm up by riding around in a low gear high cadence to get my blood flowing. 

At the start line I take deep breaths and clear my mind as much as possible; thinking about bikes, girls, any thing that I need to in order to calm down and mellow my heart rate. Then right before the start I close my eyes and take 3 deep breaths. The man says go and I explode off the line accelerating the best I can. But then I slow down and start pacing because I know its only the beginning. My strategy is to just keep pushing and pick off riders one by one or stay on the leader's wheel because I have a decently good sprint from behind.  Once I get on someone's wheel I can stay there no matter how bad it hurts. I've found that racing and riding is mostly mental so long as you train properly. 

Have you thought about road racing? What about track racing?

Richard:  I enjoy all the cycling disciplines I have tried. Cyclocross is my favorite. But I enjoy mountain, road, and want to try downhill but I'm not that crazy.  I hope to have a Specialized Allez (the aluminum version of the Tarmac) before next summer. And I'm hoping to get involved in road racing before I graduate high school and hope to get onto a pro team sometime in my life. 

 Do you have a favorite professional cycling racer or star? Why or why not?

Richard:  It is hard to pick a favorite pro rider.  I like Tom Boonen, Levi Leipheimer, along with Bradly Wiggins, Tejay Van Garderen, Thomas Voekler, Yens Voight, and many others. But Specialized being my favorite bike maker I'd have to say Tom Boonen because he is a great bike rider and racer.

glassesYou've mentioned there's no cycling club at the high school, what would be the goal of a cycling club if one were to start?

Richard:  If there were a club the goal would be simple, have fun riding and learning about bikes. Have a few different disciplines and try new extremes when it comes to riding. It would mostly be a fun place to go hang out and do what cyclists do - talk about, work on and, most important, ride bikes. I think it would be a great club to keep students away from drugs and future health problems by getting them in the habit of fun exercise. 

There you have it.  A local teen with a lot of upside potential.  My favorite rider was Greg Lemond, who also started riding with his dad and having sprint and climbing contests with him.  Maybe we'll see some similarities.  A cycling club at the high school would be a great way to encourage cycling but also finding other students that may also excel in the sport. The Northwest has already produced some good cyclists like Wenatchee's Tyler Farrar and Chris Horner from Bend, OR.  I see no reason there can't be at least one from Ellensburg, WA.

A really fun fall ride

I finally got the opportunity this fall to ride the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in north Idaho.  If you haven't had a chance to make the drive to do this ride I highly recommend it.  The only hills are on each end and no more than 2-3% gradient.  The trail has a total length of 73 miles - all of it paved on an old railroad bed.  I've heard of many people who ride one way, stay in a hotel and ride back the next day.  Making a two or three day trip out of it would allow you to also check out the Hiawatha Trail and it's nice long tunnels.

I decided to ride from Plummer (the west end of the trail) to Kellogg and back.  Total distance was 102 miles.  Start time was approximately 9 am on October 11th.  Unfortunately, going this early in the year means a cold start especially when combined with the six mile descent to Lake Coeur d'Alene at the start.  Because this was a Thursday and mid-October I saw very few people on the trail until I started getting closer to Kellogg at about mile 44.  There was one stretch where I went close to an hour without seeing any other trail users.

Below are some photos of the ride that I'm sure will become an annual trip for me. 

As you drop down to Lake Coeur d'Alene you're greeted with this view

After leaving Harrison, ID the trail parallels the Coeur d'Alene River almost the entire way to Kellogg

My trusty and fantastic ride - 1984 Gitane Tour de France