Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Bicycle Likes Me

My bicycle likes me. At least it appears that way. Yesterday I was enjoying a nice ride out to Syracuse and back on the Barcroft. After a minor navigation error around a construction detour, I ended up on the 3-mile bike path that runs parallels Bluff Road all the way from Gordon to 300 North in Clearfield. It's a nice multi-purpose path, with kids, moms, dogs, walkers, and most importantly this time of year: stickers!
Of course, I was the proud recipient of a flat front tire. No biggie, I’ll just switch tubes and head on my way. Wrong! Some idiot, who shall remain nameless, had put a new tube in the bag, and not paid attention. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had two 26-inch tubes, and no 20 inchers. Sigh. OK, step two; fix the tube! So far so good, put a self-adhesive patch on, inflate tube and be on my way. Not quite that easy. I pumped up the tire with my hand small hand pump, and intended to use the last few pounds in my CO2 pump to top off the tire.
Unfortunately, I sheared the top of the Presta valve off with the hand pump. (note picture on the right, of a normal Presta valve) Luckily the plunger stayed down in the valve! Usually when this happens the remains of the valve eject leaving the rider dead in the water with a valve-less tube. (note the picture to the left)
Quickly I placed the cap on the remains of the valve and gently, rode the 12 miles home. I took it easy; no bumps, no drastic turns, and I carried the bike over the railroad tracks on Gentile. The tire was probably around 60-80 pounds and just a little soft on the road. Amazingly, I made it home. 30 minutes later when I went to leave on errands, I came back out to the garage to find the front tire completely flat. My bicycle likes me. It waited until I was safely home before the valve plunger broke seal. Amazing!

One extra benefit from this ride was that I ended up waiting at the railroad crossing for the new commuter rail train to pass by. The Frontrunner commences service next spring, and will run from Salt Lake City all the way to Pleasant View. It has been great fun watching the construction of tracks, trains, and stations along my commute route. That was another part of the plan for a second bike.
The mountain bike will fit easily on the train, and I can commute to work without the car! The Layton station will be only a mile from the house, so it should be feasible to give it a try next year.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reflections on the Dark Side

Hi all,
Well, another week of dual-discipline riding; 32 miles on the Barcroft, and 90 minutes on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, learning downhill riding techniques on the Cannondale. My recent dual-discipline riding has led to some questions from my friends at work. One fellow from Area “A” that I passed in Mueller Park said: “It’s about time you got off that stupid recumbent!” While another who enjoys reading this blog thinks that my transition to the Dark Side is complete, and that soon I will be addicted to mountain bike riding, never to be found on the road again. And of course, a third associate from work told me (What I already knew) that there is plenty of room in cycling for both.

Who is right?

Well, the third associate, of course! I will give special credit to respondent #2, since I actually am having a lot of fun on the mountain bike. There are plenty of ways to enjoy cycling. Racing, mountain biking, snow riding (Check out this blog for someone who is truly nuts), long distance brevets, casual bike path riding, work commuting, and many other disciplines all have a place in the world of cycling.

Am I on my way to the Dark Side? Of course not. What I am on my way towards is being stronger, faster, and a better rider on any bike I ride. I enjoy riding 60 miles; I enjoy riding a trail; I enjoy finding a 50 Mph canyon to scream down; I even enjoy riding to the Post Office! And that is the moral of this little missive: To enjoy riding!
Which, is what I am going to go do now before it rains.

I couldn't resist....
See you down the road, on whatever bike you ride.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Learning Curve

Well, I managed two rides this past week, 30 miles on my Virginia GT recumbent, and 2 hours on my new Cannondale mountain bike. You may notice that I don’t mention mileage when riding the mountain bike. Well, it is my hope to not become a data-starved techie when riding the mountain bike. Whenever I ride the mountain bike, my intent will be to enjoy the ride, the trail, the fresh air, the new scenery, and not track much of any data. Besides, on the mountain bike I’m too busy keeping the rubber side down, and the Jim side up!
As with every ride, I seem to always learn something; whether it’s something about riding fitness, technique, or how to compose a nice photograph, there is always something. This week was no exception, although all of my learning experiences this past week were on the trail in Mueller Park.

Mueller Park, on the foothills east of Bountiful, offers a great trail for a beginner. Long steady climbing, with few rocky sections, I climbed (according to the signs) about 3 miles to Big Rock, or as Bountiful locals refer, Elephant Rock. There is a whole second section to Ruby’s Flat and North Canyon that I will have to ride next time. Being the second time on a trail, I found that I have quickly adapted to new climbing techniques, and have figured out how to shift my weight forward to keep both wheels on the trail without the front wheel doing a “wheely” and the rear wheel from skidding out from under me.
Antelope Island in the distance...
I also learned that from a cardiovascular point of view, that climbing hills on a mountain bike will be very beneficial to my distance recumbent riding. For someone who has ridden nearly 2,000 miles this year, my heart sure was pounding as I climbed! I can only become a better climber/sprinter from this cross training.
All the leaves are on the ground...

What I haven’t learned yet, are my safety parameters on descents. You might infer from this statement that I may have had some minor “learning experiences” on the descent from Big Rock. Ok, so I had two learning experiences. First that I must gain more trail experience before careening at warp speed down the trail, and second that I shall not change my “plan” of attack in the middle of a downhill, hairpin turn. Ah well, the bruises are healing nicely, and I did manage to get the leaves out my helmet vents!
In the shadows, winding through the canyon...
That’s all the riding news from here. Finally, I would like to mention that there seem to be several blogs on my tab list that have become like lonely spider-filled mailboxes, a veritable wasteland of news. (You know who you are)… Keyboards broken? Cameras gathering dust? After all, with the Broncos at 3-4, Sunday afternoons are free for writing!