Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pole Canyon trail work

I will be haulin' tools and diggin' water bars bright and early tomorrow morning for a trail work day on Pole Canyon. The Forest Service is giving Pole Canyon some much needed attention now with some bigger improvements to come next summer and I am stoked to volunteer on my backyard trail.

The Rokon can haul an amazing amount of weight uphill with its low gearing and two wheel drive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lovin the singlespeed

Yesterday's ride on the singlespeed was one of my favorite rides of the year. The varied effort, the lack of chain slap, and the sweet buzz of my DT Swiss freewheel while ripping downhill cleared my head of all the "nutty professor" thoughts about training progress, wattts, and PowerTaps that were rattling around in my brain.

Yesterday was also the first ride where I wasn't sure whether I would be able to ride all of the terrain I chose but when the moment arrived I simply torqued on the barends a little harder and mashed my way up...everything...Bovine, Shark's Belly, and even the rude hill on the backside of Sodbuster. Yeah, that felt good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is your PowerTap lying to you?

For the past year I have been using a PowerTap on my road bike and my mountain bike and the watts have always “seemed” to be in synch. At least the numbers were close enough that I never gave it a second thought.

While riding in St George this past April I broke my PowerTap Disc hub and had to send it to Saris for the $350 full-overhaul special that includes a one-year warranty. Since I bought this wheel used I felt as if this was fair and Saris turned it around pretty quickly.

I didn't know that my $350 overhaul included new quad muscles and a new VO2 Max. During my first post-repair ride I miraculously turned into Fabian Cancellara and was seeing some impressive numbers on the screen...but the numbers were lying to me. Damn, it was fun putting out 260 watts at 120 beats per minute. Evidently the hub was not calibrated properly and the newly repaired PowerTap had to go back again. Bummer.

Last Friday & Saturday were my first rides following the second repair. Although the numbers weren’t quite Fabian-like, they were still seemed inaccurate. WTF? I needed to be sure. My brain needed to know for sure because seeing two separate sets of numbers, one from the road bike PowerTap and one from the MTB PowerTap, was now messing with me.

Dave Harris kindly steered me in the right direction and I rigged up my own test. By using a fixed weight and the following formula, you can test whether your power meter is accurate.

Measured torque = (weight in lbs) × (crank length in mm) × (1 in/25.4 mm) × (cog teeth/chainring teeth)

The test confirmed that the PowerTap Disc hub is still out of calibration and needs to go back to Saris for a third time since April. Power meters are finicky little gizmos in general and I knew this going into it but I really hope that Saris gets it right this time.

This exercise made me wonder how many people have PowerTaps that were out of calibration from the start. How many people think they are putting out 300w when they are really only putting out 250w or vise versa? I guess it really doesn’t matter that much as long as you only have one PowerTap and that is your only point of reference. I will freely admit that I am very type “A” and I want to know what the “real” number is.

Even if my test methodology is not perfect, it is obvious that one hub is way out of whack

My high-tech fixed weight system

The crank arm must be level

Don't drop the weight on your toe while conducting this test

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 19th was the first day of our summer

Yesterday finally felt like summer to me and it was glorious. The singletrack is drying out nicely and the feeling of the sun on my bare arms brought a huge smile to my face.

I met up with Gabe at 10am and planned to chase him around the Snow King trails for a couple of hours. Upon my arrival he informed me that we would be in the company of a celebrity today and that I better get my game face on. Our rock star friend Amanda was in town between winning 100-mile races and training at altitude for the Firecracker 50 and decided to join us. So now I had two really fast people to chase around.

Three dudes and a PRO

What a blast! The Snow King trails are so sweet and I don't ride them enough but I am going to make it point to get over there more this year. Halfway through our loop we ran into Kyle and he spun it around to join us for the rest of our loop.

The posse was still going strong at the two hour mark when I decided to stick to my plan and head back to the truck. My brain wanted to ride all friggin' day but since I raced eight hours last Saturday, and with the Cream Puff three weeks away, it wouldn't have been the smart thing to do. The swoopy descent back to the trailhead ensured that I would have perma-grin the rest of the day. Nice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pole Canyon Drama

Disclaimer: This post has no actual biking content and is a very personal rambling

As part of the trail project being lead by the City of Victor, I was asked to spend some time Monday with Scott of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Our goal was to hike the Pole Canyon Trail, identify problem areas, and scout potential solutions for short & long term projects.

First, I’ll give you a little background from a mountain biker’s perspective. Pole Canyon Trail is the closest trail to my home but I don’t ride it very often because its combination of relentless 15-20% grade and loose rock in the trail tread simply take the fun out of it. It wasn’t always this way. Five years ago the trail was the same grade but its surface was predominantly tight dirt and therefore traction while climbing wasn’t an issue. It was hard but rewarding and the the payoff was ripping back down an incredibly fun trail. An exponential increase in motorcycle traffic, which is legal on this trail, has dislodged rocks and created a deep rut where the trails surface used to be flat.

My hike with Scott was incredibly enjoyable and educational. This day was not about turning Pole Canyon into a mountain bike trail. It will remain a multi-use trail shared by motorcycles, hikers, horses, and cyclists. However, I was able to give Scott some perspective on why certain sections of trail were unfriendly to mountain bikers and we discussed solutions that would work for all users. On the flip side, I learned a ton about building trails for multiple user groups and why you can’t simply switchback a trail up the side of the mountain to cater to mountain bikers.

I left Pole Canyon Monday afternoon full of energy and excited to be a part of turning Victor’s flagship trail into a gem that all users would love.

A public meeting had been scheduled for 6pm Tuesday in Victor to discuss Pole Canyon and gather input from all user groups. The Forest Service already had plans to work on Pole Canyon this summer and therefore it made sense to provide feedback from the community to the Forest Service ahead of their work.

The meeting was train wreck. Somehow a rumor got started that the meeting was about closing Pole Canyon to snowmobiles in the winter and the rumor spread like wildfire throughout the valley during the day on Tuesday. An angry mob showed up in Victor and despite our Mayor’s best effort to dispel the rumor immediately, the crowd was too emotional to hear it and verbally attacked him. It was an intense and uncomfortable scene that resulted in the Mayor walking out of the meeting after 20 minutes because the crowd simply would not let him speak. I would have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. The goal of the meeting was never about closures or excluding a user group.

Having agreed to help facilitate the meeting, I was at the front of the room writing down notes on an easel as the room exploded with angry emotion and I felt exposed and a little uncomfortable. At the same time, I wanted to see how this scene would unfold so I remained. I recognized many faces in the room and was shocked to hear what was coming out of their mouths. The anger and ignorance that I witnessed at this meeting was so shocking that knee-jerk thoughts of leaving Teton Valley filled my head. If this was the majority voice of the community I live in, I don’t want to be a part of it.

Our Teton Ranger District’s big chief, Jay Pence, happened to be lurking outside the packed room listening to the proceedings. At a critical point, he bravely stepped in front of the firing squad and fielded questions for almost two hours. Jay was able to alleviate the unfounded fears that the Forest Service was going to close Pole Canyon and explained the work that the Forest Service has in mind for this summer and next.

Wednesday Morning
I woke up early Wednesday morning replaying the events of last night’s events over and over in my brain. I have to admit that the stoke level that I had Monday following my hike in Pole Canyon has been replaced by doubt. I had visions of our little non-profit, Victor Velo, officially adopting Pole Canyon and pouring volunteer hours into the trail but now I am not so sure. The trail needs work just as much as it did before last night’s meeting but it just doesn’t “feel good” at the moment. Maybe that feeling will pass.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boise 9 to 5 Race Report

Boise 9 to 5 Quick Stats:
6th Place Men’s Open
8 laps in 7:12:00
75 miles
10,200 of climbing
Max speed – 40.6 mph, yeah baby!

Last weekend went by way too fast. The Boise 9 to 5 race was a great excuse to leave the marginal weather of Teton Valley, ride dry dirt in the warm sunshine, and see our friends Tim & Chellie who recently relocated to Boise. It was all over in the blink of an eye and I don’t feel satisfied. I need more sunshine, more Tim & Chellie time, WAY more Henry time (pics to follow), and more downtown Boise time.

This race was primarily a pre-Cream Puff training race but I would be fibbing if I said that I didn’t want to have a solid race with so many of my friends and teammates there. The Fitzy team rallied in fine fashion and fielded 10 racers who would go on to claim several podium places. How cool is that?

The most interesting race tidbit for me was the pace of my first two laps. I tend to be a bit conservative early in long races but I went out pretty hard in this one. It was a strategic advantage to be ahead of the masses in the opening singletrack so I thought I would give it a shot. Throughout the first two laps I was surrounded by friendly adversaries who I watched carefully and was surprised by their comfort level. I wasn’t pinned…but my HR was on the high side. The guys around me were speaking easily and looked really good. Hmmm.

By the fourth lap I knew that the heat was going to be factor even though it was only in the high 70s. I just haven’t ridden in the heat this year so I adjusted on the fly and started taking two bottles per lap even though the laps were only 53-55 minutes. The Carbo Rocket continues to impress me and I went through 8 bottles of it during this race along with some EFS Gel for additional calories.

Throughout the second half of the race I simply kept the diesel motoring at a consistent pace and tried to stay strong on the climbs. With two laps to go I could see a dilemma unfolding. Will I be able to do 9 laps? This race has a rule that states you have to FINISH your last lap before 5pm for it to count. Well, my last four laps were all 55 minutes and I was working harder each lap to keep them there. When I crossed the line after lap #8 it was 4:12pm which meant I would have to uncork a 48’ lap for it to count. Race over. Crap. I needed a few more minutes somewhere but I honestly don’t think I left a few minutes out there this time.

The Boise 9 to 5 was a blast and the Broken Spoke Cycling Team put a lot of great energy into it. It has a grass roots feel to it but the race was run efficiently. Nice job guys!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Get out in it!

Cyclists in Teton Valley, ID/Jackson, WY have two options right now: A) whine about the crappy wet weather OR B) get out in it. JayP and I emphatically chose B, and had an excellent adventure.

Cross tires and fenders turn the Niner into an all-weather gravel grinding machine...but I have to admit that I was jealous of JayP's Vaya and especially his Salsa Woodchipper bars. They look super comfy and stable. We stuck to the wet backroads in an effort to slow the speeds and reduce the windchill.

A black & white pic seemed an appropriate for today's weather

After being stopped by a runoff-swollen South Leigh Creek, we doubled back and found a new route north that eliminates a big section of pavement and will be a key link for longer backroads rides in the future.

If you worry about keeping your bike clean, today was not your day

JayP's new ride is the sweet steel Salsa Vaya. Salsa's new tagline "Adventure by Bike" seemed to describe today's ride perfectly

Mad Alchemy's Cold Weather embrocation kept the legs insulated from the rain and the mud while neoprene shoe covers kept the feet happy

Babies are popping up all around Teton Valley. Baby draft horses are especially cute with their oversized hooves that don't seem to fit their legs yet.

It feels good to bang out 65 miles and explore some cool places on a day when it would be easy to stay inside.