Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Adventure

Over the last couple years my wife has enjoyed doing some low key adventure racing.  Just some local 12 hours races not like the insane ones you see on TV.  This weekend will be my first endeavor to that completely different type of endurance racing.

Lucky for me this race only includes disciplines I can handle.  There is no rock climbing, traversing or rappelling from dizzying heights.  Just canoeing, mountain biking (that I can handle) and trekking.  Each area requires you to orienteer using UTM coordinates.  This is something completely new for me.  I am used to navigating with cue sheets or maps but not coordinates and a compass.  Should be interesting on the water and in the woods.  When you have to follow roads on a map I am good to go.

The event we are doing is the Boone Crusher and takes place in Boone Iowa.  The location is handy since our oldest son lives in Boone and we can hang out with him the night before and stay at his house.  Connie and I have been trying to get out on our mountain bikes once a week but have not been able to ride any trails with all the rainy weather we have been having.  Hopefully the trails at Boone will be too muddy as well and they will keep us on the gravel roads.

My wife and I love watching The Amazing Race reality show and this will give us our own little version.  Hopefully we can get along and just enjoy a day of wandering around the country side without getting on each others nerves.  It should be a good time.  I will post some pictures and video next week.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What to wear?

When venturing out for a ride, this time of year, the decision should be whether to wear long sleeves, short sleeves or sleeveless.  Instead this month it has been whether to wear insulated winter riding boots, shoes with covers or just shoes.  There is something wrong with this picture.

The Tuesday night 6:00 PM group ride was a classic Iowa spring ride.  I got off work at 3:00 and it was 77 degrees with the forecasted temperatures to be in the mid 60's by the time I got done riding at 8:00.  Winds were to be SSW at 10.  Great night for a long pre-ride before the group ride.

I headed out in shorts and short sleeves only to notice the wind was NE.  Strange, but no problem I will just head towards Wilton and then back to the shop by 6:00.  I had only gone a mile when the chill was not going away.  I flicked my bike computer to the temperature and noticed it said 69 degrees.  Thinking to myself it would not get any warmer I turned back home and grabbed a pair of sleeves.  That took the chill off and away I went.

Once to Wilton I noticed the wind was more North and my computer was showing 63 degrees.  At that point I decided to swing by home and pick up a pair of riding gloves since my hands were a little chilly.  No need for full finger gloves just a little something to take the edge off.

At home grabbed the gloves and my wife asked if I needed a hat or some long finger gloves.  I decided to carry the gloves just in case.  After all she said "they are free to take".  Out I went, with a tail wind, to meet the group.

I arrived to find eight riders at the shop all wondering what the heck happened to the 70 degree temperatures.  Most of us with long sleeves and shorts.  A few smarter ones with knickers or knee warmers and only two with any type of jacket.  The teenager was bare arms and legs.  Ah youth.

As we left town the cold northerly cross wind was blowing strong enough that keeping the group together was almost impossible.  We finally settled in and made our way through the wind to Moscow.  Tail wind time.

The anticipated tail wind had enough cross wind in it that drafting was very tough.  As we returned to town my computer said 52 degrees.  Heading back to the shop Greg complained about it being 52.  I replied "hey, it's 52 degrees.  Last week this would have been a great day."  The problem was not the 52 degrees but the fact we were dressed for 70. I was really glad I had my long finger gloves for the 50 degree ride home. 

It will be interesting to see what next Tuesday brings.  50,60,70 maybe 80.  All I know is I will have my long finger gloves in my pocket just in case.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rookie Mistakes

With the unseasonably cooler temperatures this spring the bar for good outside riding weather has been substantially lowered. If the wind is not howling over 20 mph, it is not raining or snowing and especially if the sun is shining it is a good day to ride. It is now spring and I have only ridden outside three time without my winter boots. One of them was in January. History tells us it will warm up as some point.

A few weeks ago, on a Thursday. there was a good day to ride outside. Sunny, 32 degrees, with light NNW winds. It had been cold enough the last couple days that the gravel was hard/frozen. There was a road that goes north of town, through a very small town of Moscow and then continued across interstate 80 and points beyond. My mission was to explore the points beyond and see where I would end up. Connie was going for supper with her sister and to a movie so I had all kinds of free time.

As I headed out I felt pretty good and was rolling along nicely. The gravel was sweet and I was in the zone. I was hoping to get a nice 50 mile ride in before the sun set. I had lights so even the sun set was not going to stop me.

The week before I had scouted this same area and got a flat tire. I could not find the cause of the flat at the time and just changed the tube. Mistake number one. One week later as I am rolling along I noticed the back tire getting soft. What a way to kill your Mojo. No problem I pulled over to change the tube. This time I found the nasty thorn that was the culprit of the last untimely puncture.

My cross bike tires are very hard to install and I don't have the strength to remove the stubborn tires by hand. So I whip out my handy new tire lever and proceed to remove the tire and install the new tube. As I start pumping I notice that the tire is not taking any air. So I remove the new tube and notice I pinched the tube with the tire lever. Mistake number 2.

Now what do I do? The first flat was a slow leak so I figure I will put that tube back in and keep airing it up and limp my way the 15 miles back home. At this point it that is my only choice since I do not have a patch kit with me. Mistake number 3. I make it about 50 yard before the tire is completely flat again. It is time for the come get me call.

Fortunately I had my cell phone with me and did not make mistake 4. I carry my phone about 50 percent of my rides so I caught a break this time. 2 miles of walking and riding on the flat tire to the pavement where my rescuer picked me up and took me home.

Needless to say the next time I was at the bike shop I bought a glue less patch kit. As I tell my boys; "It is only a mistake if you don't learn from it".