Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Night Riding at Mud Lake

This last fall I went out to Mud Lake for some night mountain biking.  Mud Lake is a trail system that it is maintained by Rasta and it features mountain biking and hiking trails for all levels of mountain biker.  They are also groomed for fat biking in the winter.  I was using my GoPro Hero 10 and my Light and Motion lights.  I run an Urban 500 on my helmet to see where I am looking and the brighter Taz 1200 on my bars to keep the trail well lit.  This is basically the raw footage.  I didn't do much besides cut the shots together.  Outside of taking the camera out while riding with my daughter, this is my first time using it.  I tried helmet mounting it, using a chest mount, and threw down on trail with a tripod.  Ultimately I was just messing around with the camera and enjoying the trail.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A New Spring, Well Sort Of...

So the spring classics have started and we are all well into our own spring training. Unless, you live in the Northwoods and you still have two feet of snow on the ground. We have have fewer than 5 days above freezing so far this year and had the coldest winter on record and were very close to a record for snow fall. Needless to say, my bike and I didn't venture outside much. I have spent more days on a trainer than I care to remember. I did have a discovery that made these days a bit more bearable.

The Sufferfest training videos provided me some direction, motivation, entertainment, and most of all accountability.  There is no try, is one of my favorites but you can't go wrong with any of them. I realize now that I am back outside on my bike how much I accomplished over the winter months. Usually the winter is trying not to lose much strength, but this winter I feel like I made some gains. The best part about The Sufferfest is the amount of interaction the staff has with it's customers. I have posted on twitter about my workouts and will receive some sort of acknowledgement from someone at Sufferfest within a day. This is a great investment for any time of the year.

Enough of the shameless promotion. I always find it a bit funny to ride by snowmobilers and ice fishermen. I am wearing some level of spandex and form fitting outerwear while they are bundled up for Arctic temperatures. I wonder if they judge me the way I judge them. I can just hear them saying to one another how crazy I am for cycling, wearing spandex, or just being me. I really wish they would be thinking what a beast, I can't believe he is out in this pushing himself. I am sure they hardly notice me and if they do they probably just think I am nuts. I know I am thinking that I am glad I am on my bike rather than sitting on the ice or sledding between bars.

Well.. I have been rambling as usual but here is my final thought for the day. I hope I don't get on the wrong side of the hooligans who shot up this sign.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cars and Bicycles need to learn to Coexist

Every time I leave the house on my bike, wearing only a piece of styrofoam as protection, my wife reminds me to be careful. My response is generally, "I always am, I have the two best reasons to come home."  My reasons being my beautiful wife and my soon to be born baby daughter (I am so excited about both by the way). I can control the way I interact with cars and the road, but that is it. When I think about it, that is not much that is in my control.

A month ago a friend of mine linked to an article on Facebook that got me thinking about the risks I am taking every time I am on the road riding my bike or driving my car. There is a constant stream of incidents between all users on the road.  I want to focus on cars and bikes, since that is my greatest area of concern.

Now, as a cyclist I have had my fair share of interesting interactions on the road.  Not mentioning all of them I have had cars swerve at me, people cuss me out while they drive by, and my favorite, people tell me to get off the road or ride on the sidewalk (this is actually illegal in some places). I would say there are four kinds of drivers when there are bikes around.  The first is the accommodating driver, this driver will pass at reasonable speeds and is perfectly fine with a bike on the shoulder or taking up two feet of the lane. The second is the prankster, this driver thinks it is funny to mess with a cyclist by swerving, honking and trying to startle the rider, and generally screwing around. The last two are the groups I am least comfortable with. Third, there is the driver who hates the cyclist. In their mind we are a complete inconvenience or there have been sour experiences in the past. This driver thinks bikes are a nuisance and has been known to take matters into their own hands. Finally, there is the uncomfortable driver. I would say this is my least favorite, they are unpredictable.  This driver will tail a cyclist or group and insanely slow speeds, waiting until they have six lanes to pass.  When this happens I know that this driver is tensing up and could be building a frustration towards the rider.

It is no secret that cars and cyclists need to learn to coexist.  The road is to be shared by both and everybody should be allowed to use it while feeling safe. There are so many people who write and talk about this every year.

I am not sure why both groups think they are solely entitled to the road.  Lets just calm down and be considerate for one another.  No one is intentionally trying to inconvenience or injure anyone else (I have been in situations where this is the case). Let us, drivers and cyclist, do our individual part to foster cooperation in the road.

Cyclist, do your best to be visible and FOLLOW THE LAW.  Unless you are in a sanctioned race a stop sign or light will not ruin your ride. If you ride like you are supposed to be there than you will be okay.

Drivers, pass cautiously with enough space. I guarantee the cyclist is not purposely sucking up 5-10 seconds of your life. Please treat bikes like they are another car, they are entitled to the road and they should follow the same laws.

Sorry that this was a bit of a ramble. Until next time, be safe and push a little harder.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mt Hamilton

Big weekend rides are quickly becoming my favorite rides. They often become more than a simple ride, they are almost a microcosm of life. I say this at risk of over glorifying a bike ride but the more experience the more I feel justified in my statement. My most recent encounter with this was my ride to the top of Mt Hamilton and back down while I was visiting family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I had been gearing up for the ride for weeks. I have attempted it twice before as I live in the woods and not in California. Both time previous I only finished part of the rides. I was determined to get it done this time.

I started of early in the morning. I was riding from home because I live a mere 25 miles from the Lick Observatory and about 5 miles from the base of the climb. It was a beautiful and chilly Fall California morning. I took it easy on my way to the climb because I knew I would be pushing myself, I am a mere recreational cyclist, no pro or anywhere near pro ability. I start up the first of the three climbs and I pass a group of riders getting prepped to get on the road. About 2 1/2 miles up the first climb I carelessly hit a large crack in the pavement, causing me to go down.  I quickly notice that my tire went flat and I examined my tire to see what else might be wrong... 

My tire was shot.

I get on the phone and start arranging my ride home, the mountain beat me yet again. That is when I remember Rule #5. I start to look around to figure out what I can do to get back on the road until I can get a new wheel. while I am sitting on the side of the road the group I saw at the beginning of the climb went by and offered their support but none of them had a spare tire so they kept on their way. I quickly suck down my GU Espresso Love and remount the tire with the empty packet keeping my spare tube from pushing through the hole. Success! I was back on my bike and heading up the road. I eventually got over the first climb, descended into the flat and caught back up with the group on the second climb.  I joined in with the main part of this group and we shared some conversation and after a while I pulled off to try to get in touch with my dad who was bringing me a new wheel.

After a few moments I got going again and caught up to a pair of riders who were shortly joined by two others returning from the top to continue on with their friends. I made a comment about how they were dominating the climb and the woman chimed back, "I have cancer surgery this week, so I might as well kick something's ass." These were the words of a determined woman.  Well did not ride with this group for long or ask for anymore details, this statement stuck with me. It almost seemed like the suffering that day was a practice run for what was ahead. I too shortly reached the top of the second climb and decided to wait in the parking lot at the top for my wheel.

Alright, I have a new wheel, headed down to the base of the final climb. I have about 9 miles to the top, 7 of which are steep uphill. This is where I was turned back due to cramping on my last attempt. I hit the bottom and begin going up, I immediately feel a searing in my legs, this climb is the steepest and longest of the three.  The difference is at the top there are no more climbs.  A few miles up this climb I rode by another couple, this pair was much different than anyone else on the mountain.  They were riding touring bikes packed to the gills with gear. I immediately felt light in comparison. As I do, I made conversation. This pair started in Portland and was on their way to Yosemite in route to South America.

This has just become one of the more interesting days of my life. Everyone on the climb had a story and was on a journey. I never would have met these people without the shared love for the bicycle and a desire to explore the world on it. 

I made it to the top, the view was worth it but it was of little interest to me after some of the brief conversations I shared on the way to it.

I had a frigid descent mixed with two short climbs to get back out. I rode passed dozens of people on the way down. I could only imagine what each of their journeys was.

A group ride unites people from different places and experiences. Everyone for a short while is on the same mission no matter what is going on in their lives. The longer I ride the more experiences like this I compile.  There is a mini community on the mountain.

As always... Keep pushing.  Don't use the bike to run away but to enrich the experiences in your life. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

California Bound

I am heading out to California this weekend. My family is throwing a baby shower for my wife and I so we get to spend the weekend in Milpitas, just north of San Jose.  This is the area that I grew up in and I have so many memories.  It will be good to spend some downtime with my beautiful wife, see some family and friends, and hopefully get a couple rides in.

I have recently given up on shipping my bike out when I go so I have started using my brother in-law's bike. It is a size smaller but I can manage for a couple of rides.  the ride I am most looking forward to is Mt Hamilton.  The summit is 25 miles away from my house and roughly a 3,500 ft elevation gain. I also rather enjoy (hate, because it is terribly hard) the Sierra rd climb and Calaveras rd out to Sunol.  These are both so close that I almost have to ride around to get warmed up enough to start the climbs. The last time I was out, I drove up to livermore and went up Mt Diablo. Diablo is ten miles long and summits around 3,600 ft.

I have never finished Mt Hamilton. I ride mostly rolling terrain and have zero access to any sustained climbing in Wisconsin. That being said, my first attempt was at the end of the season and in the rain. I submitted and ended up catching a ride down the mountain. I had never done any descending and I did not want to start in the rain, I am not trying to win any races and Strava records are not worth my life.  The second attempt was at early in the season and I made it all the way to the base of the actual Hamilton climb, a mere 7 miles from the summit, and the man with the hammer visited me.  I bonked hard, I could barely stop my bike and stand up, my legs were cramping so bad.  I had to turn around.  I knew I had about 8 miles of climbing to get back out to the final descent of my return trip.

Hopefully, I will be able to tweet a selfie on the summit of Hamilton this time.  A bit better than the gloomy view I got last time.

My other goal on one of trips out there is to get up north of the Golden Gate and do some riding as well as spending some time on the bike in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We got our first snow today (pic is just the beginning)...and I am not impressed.

It was cold this morning as we headed out for what we planned to be a century ride, a bit over 32 degrees. The temperature rose slightly throughout the day, getting near 40 but after we stopped for some lunch it began to drop back down. We knew that the forecast was telling us that around three the rain might start and it began just before that and we were still about an hour out. With the rain beginning and the temp back at 34 degrees we started pushing harder to keep warm and make it back to our cars. We made it, we were wet, cold and as I always am after a big ride, hungry.

Shortly after I started towards home in my car the rain began to turn to snow and that trend continued for the rest of the night. We now have a thin layer outside.

This snow will not stick as the ground has yet to freeze but it means three things to me...

First, It is going to get a whole lot harder to ride my bike. It will take me five times longer to get dressed for a ride and I will have to thoroughly clean my bike after nearly every ride. The worst part is there will be fewer days that are safe to ride.

Second, ski season is nearly upon us. I am a pair of XC ski boots away to having a full set. My wife found a set of skis that were my size and were in reasonable shape at a local Goodwill and the other day we acquired some poles. This means I am getting close. While the Midwest is well known for being flat there are a few hills here in Wisconsin and in the U.P. that are reasonable to slide down on skis. Most of them even have chair lifts and ski patrols. As I do not have the funds to fly/drive to Colorado, this will due for now.

Third, it is cold. Everything you do in your daily life requires more planning. Driving to work means you need to let your car run for five minutes before you can leave. If it snowed the night before, well...everything needs to be shoveled or cleaned off. Any roads other than the main highways are left slightly covered and this makes traveling them both more fun and more time consuming.

Thanks for bearing with my slight rant about winter but the first snow is always a bit jarring. It means that winter is really around the corner and there is nothing you or I can do about it. The only way to defeat winter is by finding someway to enjoy it.

I will say, had we ended our ride in the snow rather than the freezing rain, I would have felt about two times as sweet.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fender Season

The days of beautiful, sunny, dry, and warm are behind us, at least for us in the northern parts of the country. I know there are many places that have to deal with rainy weather on a year round basis and still have strong cycling communities (Seattle and London), but here in the woods our summers are mostly dry and then fall through spring we see quite a bit more precipitation. Last fall I purchased fenders in the attempt to keep cleaning time down.

I used to avoid wet rides but as I fell deeper into cycling, I cared less about the weather.  A lot of this transition was finding the proper clothing, see my post on winter gear.  I owe the inspiration to ride no matter the weather to retired pro Robbie Ventura.  I made a comment about the challenge of riding in Chicago while I was working for Vision Quest Coaching and he said something along the lines of, year round riding is all about having the correct clothing. I got to a point where I was personally comfortable in about any temperature, I am sure there are some pieces that I can add to my gear but I am content with what I have.

Now my bike is another story.  I was getting fed up with cleaning my bike for an hour after an hour long ride.  If you ride in the rain or snow getting your bike dirty is inevitable, but there are ways to keep that to a minimum.  There are always special articles on how the pro mechanics prep the bikes but the reality is they have the ability to wash the bikes after any race in sub ideal weather.

My solution was a set of CRUD Roadracer MK2 fenders. The piece that appealed the most to me was that they were super light and provided full coverage.  As I only have my one bike I wanted sleek close fitting fender and The Roadracers met my expectations.  They do feel a bit flimsy out of the box and take a bit of getting set up but once they are on you barely notice them.  I felt a lot better riding in the rain and snow knowing that I was not spraying my drive train with grimy water.  I also spared myself and anyone I was riding with from a black shower.

This is a hard time of year for me.  Most of the activities I enjoy require good weather but I enjoy riding too much to let the weather be in complete control.  I feel like I now have the option to set up my rollers for an easy spin or get out and enjoy some fresh air.

As always, get out on your bike and spend a little more time in the big ring.