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SMSG MBT Race Rescheduled

October 30th, 2010 [print] No comments

After spending a lot of time getting my bike (and myself) tuned properly for the Show-Me State Games MTB race last July, rain hit, and the race was canceled.  I was pretty bummed about it, especially since I’d decided about a year before that I would race it this year.  In fact, it was just the night before the race that I was out on the trails, checking trail conditions, and seeing what changes were made by park officials to counter destruction due to heavy rains in the spring.  As I was 3/4 through with a lap, thunder hit, the skies went black, and I high-tailed it to my car, just in time for a massive storm to hit.

Anyway, the race was called off, and we were told we’d have to wait until July 2011.  A lot of racers were disappointed, though, and I guess there was a push to bring the race back.  I found out last Tuesday that it would be held today, but with no really prep time, and a bike that would need to basically be rebuilt after my rail-trail mods, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.  Besides, who wants to race in the cold?  It would have been over 100° in July, but today it was about half that.

Oh, well.  I’ll still be waiting until next year, and by then, I’ll have a little more angst to take out on the race track.  In the mean time, I’ll get the race results posted as soon as they’re available.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Katy Trail Century

October 10th, 2010 [print] No comments

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I wanted to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri, from Jefferson City to St. Charles in a day.  At the time, it was supposed to be my second century ride, but ended up being my third, after a 60mi training ride got out of hand and turned into 100.  Anyway, I’m happy to say everything worked out, and on the 25th of September, I did the ride.

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Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Impromptu Century

September 13th, 2010 [print] No comments

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In planning for my Katy Trail century across Missouri, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a 60-mile ride on Sunday.  I left for my ride equipped how I plan to be for my Jefferson City-to-St. Charles ride, just to get an idea of how my stuff would feel/perform.

My original plan was to start at the smoke stacks on MU campus in Columbia, MO, and do exactly 30 miles, then return.  Somewhere along the way, though, I decided to go ahead and ride all the way to Jefferson City.  My thinking was, it’d only be a few miles more, and as long as I’m going in that direction on a beautiful day, I might as well take it the whole way.

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Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , , , ,

Prepping for a Century

September 7th, 2010 [print] No comments

As far as I’m concerned, my Katy Tail Century is a go.  But, being a bike weight-obsessed dipshit, my first thought was, how do I get my bike to its lightest before the ride?  Fortunately, I have years worth of experience in this sort of dipshittery, so I’m hard at work making my wife question marrying me eliminating weight from my Fisher Wahoo before the big day.

Getting my bike under 18.5lbs is actually easier than it sounds, since many of the parts currently on it were initially bought with light weight in mind.  Still I had to swap a few things…

My SR Suntour Epicon RLD fork weighs just shy of 4lbs, so I replaced it with the Carbon Cycles eXotic rigid fork I took off last fall.  That’s a savings of roughly 1.9lbs, and I don’t really need suspension for a flat trail anyway.

Next up, and even more importantly, was to get rid of rolling weight.  I swapped to a set of Kenda Klimax Lite tires which, together, weigh about the same as just one of my more aggressive tires alone (649g/pr).  I put in some Forte LunarLite tubes, as well.

Since I already run 1×9 gears, I decided to swap the Shimano XT 11-32 cassette for a Sram PG-970 11-23 9-speed road cassette, shaving off close to another quarter-pound.  The close gear ratios will also help keep my cadence steady as I spin my cranks for 7-8 hours.

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Finally, I pulled an old Easton CT2 carbon handlebar out of my parts bin.  It’s been chopped down to 20.5" and weighs 119g with end plugs, 28g less than my Titec Ti 118 bar (I told you I was being ridiculous).  I actually prefer the narrower width of the Easton bar on the long flats I’ll be riding, so it wasn’t all about taking off weight with this piece.  I normally don’t trust carbon bars for XC riding, but on the Katy, you could just about ride a bar made out of straw and not worry about overloading it.

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I didn’t have any foam grips laying around (I swapped back to rubber grips after having the foamies come loose a couple times), so I used some Easton road bar tape instead.  I’ve been wanting to try this out to see how it feels on a trail bike, so I figured this was a good excuse.

All told, the bike is now at 18.33lbs.  I have a Selle Italia Signo T1 triathlon saddle on the way ($26 on eBay–woot!), so that’ll add 30g back on, but it’ll be worth it to have the additional padding since I never have reason to stand up while pedaling on the Katy.

I’m also re-thinking my food and water situation for the trip.  I had planned on 100oz of water in my CamelBak, plus two 33oz bottles on the bike with Gatorade in them.  Since I’m passing through 22 towns along the way, I may take a 70oz bladder of water, and stick to just one bottle, refilling them along the way when needed.

Less weight means an easier bike to push for all those miles, and I see no sense in making it anymore difficult than it needs to be.  Colin Chapman would be so proud.

Bicycle Boulevard, Columbia, MO

September 5th, 2010 [print] No comments

My hometown of Columbia, MO, has been increasingly bicycle-oriented over the last few years, thanks in part to our previous mayor, Darwin Hindman.  And though I could complain all day about their lack of attention to bike lanes filled with glass, road debris, sandy gravel, and unfriendly storm drains, at least they’ve given us the lanes to begin with.  Hell, it’s better than nothing.

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The city’s latest endeavor is what’s known as Bicycle Boulevard, which consists of Windsor St. and East Ash St., with a short connector on University Ave.  The goal of it is to piss off motorists allow easier access to the downtown area from East of College Ave., a notoriously bad road to ride a bike on, due to narrow lanes, high traffic, and high speeds.  To help bring attention to Bike Blvd., two 25’x25′ murals are being painted by artists Sandra Eccles, 63, of Canton, MO, and Tom Edwards, plus whoever wanders over to volunteer to help.

The East Ash St. mural was finished on September 5, 2010, with the Windsor mural scheduled for Sept. 11, as week later.  I stopped by and snapped some shots of the first one today, and I’ll add more to the gallery below once the entire project is finished.

You can read more about the making of the murals here:  ColumbiaMissourian.com

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Flickr Photoset

Planning My 2nd Century

September 1st, 2010 [print] No comments

I started biking in ’98, then waited some 12 years to ride my first century.  This time, though, I think I’m going to keep it to around 4 months.

Last time, I kept to the road, mashing my pedals all around my hilly city on a singlespeed.  My legs hurt, but all the time out of the saddle, standing during climbs, kept my butt from feeling too much pain.  This time, though, I’m swapping my SS road bike for a geared MTB, the roads for a rail-trail, and the hills for the flattest trail around.

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Sometime before the end of September (I hope, but it’s dependent upon the weather), I’m going to ride the Eastern section of Missouri’s Katy Trail, from Jefferson City in the middle of the state, to St. Charles in the East (map).  Total distance is about 104mi, according to this chart, so it’ll be my longest ride to date.  I’m figuring on about 8 hours, if I average 13mph, but that’s if my legs die on me.  If I can keep around 15mph, then that should drop to 7 hours.  It’s sort of a toss-up between more time seated–thus an unhappy ass, but less tired legs–or a faster, more tiring ride.

I have a few parts to swap on my bike first, namely lighter tires & tubes, my rigid carbon fork, and a smaller cassette (I don’t need 32T gearing), just so I have less weight to propel all that way.  Other than that, I think I’m in shape for it, so I won’t do any training ahead of time (what sort of pansy prepares for epic rides, anyway?).  I’ll be sure to take my camera along so I can return with plenty of boring photos of flat, straight trail, as well as the 22 small towns that I pass through on the way.

Tentative date:  September 25.

I’ll keep you posted.

Flickr

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , , , ,

Hateful Rock

August 11th, 2010 [print] No comments

After I slammed pretty hard last week, I figured I’d take a couple weeks off from trail riding to heal.  Of course, I got bored with that idea about 4 days later, and headed back to Rock Bridge for a re-do.  Along the way, I found the rock that I faceplanted on when I flew over my bars.

It was still sitting on it’s side, same as it was when my chin came in contact with it.  I snapped a photo, then chucked it about 30ft into a lower-laying creek bed.

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The little fucker is about 5" high and 9-10" long.  Had it been on its side, I doubt I would have made contact.

Anyway, the whole point of my ride was to put together the ultimate Rock Bridge ride, flowing as much as possible, and hitting all the major trails (aside from Karst, which is too far removed from the rest).  It also has 5 climbs:  one is a long, two-stage climb that’s part of the SMSG race course, with lots of rocks and roots; two are in the High Ridge series of trails on grass; and two others are damn near impossible, just the way I like ’em.  As soon as I get a chance to put a map together, I’ll post it.  All together, it’s a little less than 13.5mi, which is doable even after a long work day, but still challenges you quite a bit.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Show-Me State Games MTB Race Canceled

July 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

Canceled

We got hit with rain the night before the mountain bike race, so park officials have canceled the race.  It sucks for me, since I’ve been planning to have this be my first race for an entire year now.  But, it also sucks for all the racers who traveled to Columbia, MO from around the state, only to have to drive back tomorrow without having had a fun race.  I guess I’ll see you all out there next year, and maybe the weather will be a little more cooperative.

I headed out there tonight–the night before the event–to see how well the trail had been cleaned up over the previous week.  The park crew did an excellent job re-routing parts of Deer Run trail that had been damaged due to fallen trees, as well as a swelling creek that has come a little too close to the edge of the trail.  I was really impressed with the effort, since they’ve apparently worked O.T. just to get everything in order; even more so considering we’ve had triple-digit heat indexes over the same time period every single day.

In the middle of my ride, I came up on the Walt’s crew as they marked the race course, and Sarah–the race commissioner–said she hoped she wasn’t putting the markers up in vain.  Twenty minutes later, the trail went extremely dark, thunder picked up in the near distance, and an out-of-town racer and I left the rest of the crew to head to our cars.  I hopped in mine literally the second a monsoon hit, flipped on the A/C, dried off, and waited for the rain to back off enough that I could see past the nose of my car.  I finally drove home at half the posted speed limit, barely able to make out the roads, disappointed that I missed what would have been my first race, but glad that I had a thrilling final practice ride.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB, News Tags: ,

SMSG MTB Race Hanging By A Thread

July 21st, 2010 [print] No comments

Per my previous post, there’s a chance the 2010 Show-Me State Games mountain bike race won’t happen if the rain doesn’t stop.  I emailed an event organizer yesterday about whether the race might be canceled or postponed, and here’s the response she gave me:

"The park folks are supposed to let me know on Sat afternoon if they are going to cancel the race.  They are a bit more lenient because they really don’t want to have to cancel it.  If it is wet there isn’t a rain date for the race, so there just won’t be a race this year. "

Mid-Missouri was hit with a huge storm on Sunday, and then another on Monday night, into Tuesday morning.  More is expected for the weekend.  I’ve been planning this race for a year, so this pretty much sucks.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Racing, Rain and Tires

July 19th, 2010 [print] No comments

BAH!

That’s what I have to say about Missouri’s increasingly wetter July’s.  We had a nice, dry run through the latter parts of June and early July, but now the storms are here again.  Normally, I’d just be annoyed, but this time I’m getting pissed.

The Show-Me State Games MTB race is less than a week away, and the forecast is grim for race day, with a good chance of showers.  However, if it’s dry enough to race, I doubt it’ll be called off.  What this means for me is, my proven fastest tire choice has to be tossed out, and I have to prepare for sloppy conditions.

I discovered last Fall that my fastest tire set-up happened to be a skinny 1.8" Kenda Klimax Lite in the rear, with a 2.1" Nevegal up front.  The rear spins up quickly for sprints, while the front adds extra suspension (at 25psi) and better braking.  So long as I keep my ass planted in the saddle, the rear’s excellent L3R compound gives it plenty of grip, despite a lack of tread.  However, that only helps if it’s dry… which it most likely won’t be.

My options are this:  keep the current tire set-up, have less weight in the back, but less grip and braking in the mud.  Or, put on a heavier tire, lose some speed in the flat areas due to weight, but have ridiculous climbing grip.  Light weight is worthless if I’m just spinning my tire, so I’ve gone the heavier route.

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Enter, my new set-up:  the 2.1" Nevegal in the rear, with an old and proven 2.35" Kinetics Stick-E up front.  In the past, I’ve run a pair of Kinetics Stick-Es, and nothing has ever come close to the grip they offer in slick stuff, which Rock Bridge park is full of.  The braking grip of the front tire–even with my antiquated rim brakes–will just about pop your eye sockets out.  I’ve never run the Nevegal in the rear, but it seems to have performance matching the Kinetics, only at a lighter weight.  Since I have no time to order something else, this is going to have to do.

In the mean time, I’m going to pine for the old days of dry, horribly hot Missouri summers, where we’d go for weeks without rain at times.  It makes the trails more predictable, and for my first race, I could really use that.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , , ,