Monday, June 23, 2014

NEMBAfest 2014

Sweet Jesus.  There is no way I'm going to be able to adequately put into words how awesome this event is.  If you ride a bike in New England (or beyond) and you somehow come up with some reason to not attend you are probably a bit mental.  Sure there are some legit excuses but all attempts should be made to experience the awesome of a full weekend of killer everything bike related.

My weekend went about as well as I could have hoped for.  I had some reservations as to how my body was going to hold up.  This was my first time back on dirt in weeks and I was going to be testing out all of my bike modifications for the first time.  All of which it turns out were good decisions for me, at least for right now.

Cockpit changes are definitely a lot more comfortable and the gears allow me to sit and grind heading up so I don't have to rip the front end back and forth.  I was certain I was going to ride a geared bike all wrong but surprisingly I remembered to actually use the gears in most cases and even remembered to shift before the drivetrain was under a lot of load.  Hard to say if I was truly any faster over all.  I wasn't exactly hammering and I was certainly climbing certain sections slower but I can tell you without doubt I was riding similarly fast MUCH more efficiently.  Riding gears is so easy.  I kept waiting to get really tired and it never really happened.  All told I got 50+ miles on dirt this weekend.

It felt really good to be riding a bit like myself again.  I still get some pain when the speeds get high and the terrain gets a bit chattery or chunky but for the most part I was riding about how I would have.  I was even accused by Mick of faking this entire time.

I was still waking up with quite a bit of stiffness and soreness but some painkillers and stretching got me back on terms by mid morning to the point that I felt ok to ride again with help from my braces.  Didn't really seem to get any worse day to day so there was no real cumulative effect.  So I guess the order is keep working at the PT and feel free to mix dirt back into the mix.

The only thing I'm worried about is that now that I'm close enough to "full health" I'll just go back in full bore and I'll never make it past this point so I'll need to be careful / smart.  I'm already itching to do bigger rides on the MTB now and I was even starting to think about Carrabassett being a reality for me.  I'm going to try and be good though and go at this in a very calculated way.

Weekend didn't go ALL good though.  The biggest tragedy was snapping the rail on my beloved SDG Bel-Air that I have been riding probably for at least the last 10 years.  It finally gave up on my night ride Friday but like a true gladiator it somehow remained solid even with one completely sheared rail and got me home just fine.  Luckily I was able to get a saddle at the expo the next day.  My best option was a WTB Silverado Slimline that I actually kinda like now after riding it 30+miles Saturday and Sunday.  If you are going to break something do it at a giant festival, you'll be covered no problem.

I was also really pleased with the team presence at the event.  It really seems like at least a subset of the team is really 'gel'ing' well.  I have high hopes for the future.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Check 1, 2

Oh man has it really been a month since my last post?

So many things movin' and shakin'.  PT has begun and progress is being made.  I still can't really rule out there isn't some nasty underlying issue causing all this but it definitely seems like I'm going to be able to get myself to a better place doing these various stretches and exercises regularly.  I've got all kinds of cool PT toys now and I'm doing things like the 'reverse waiter' and 'the chipmunk game'.

I'm also crashing my cross bike and getting covered in road rash.  Does that count as therapy?  I didn't put my hands out to break my fall so no setbacks in that department.  Just a bunch of annoying scabs on my elbow and knee.  This was the first time I've crashed on a 'road' ride since I got pinched out of a B2B ride peloton into a parked car.  It was a pretty classic dirt road goof on my part.  Too much speed into a 90 degree turn and choose the wrong rut to commit to.

I was probably only 2 miles from home at the end of a 55+ mile ride.  I was pretty gas'd and just trying to limp back in.  I had a few options on how to get home and I choose the one with a bigger early descent instead of finishing off a bigger climb.  Whoops.  That steep descent led to the turn in question.  Dove into the turn and the dirt just disintegrated and my wheel dug in.  Luckily it sloughed a bit and I didn't endo and explode.  I tried quickly to muscle through but I was just too tired and flopped into the ditch.  It was relatively "controlled" but it doesn't take much for that gravely dirt to shred all your skin off.

I am thoroughly digging these mixed dirt/road rides I've been focusing on lately.  Getting in some new routes and locations that I've been missing out on all these years.  Dirt roads around here seem to be guaranteed hilly and many of these rides have been chock full of vert.

On the MTB front the mods continue.  Finally got around to installing my new cockpit setup.  Shorter stem, riser bars and (although not in this pic) I re-found my Ergon grips that I ran a year or two ago.  I had totally forgot I had them and remembered that the only reason I stopped running them was because I couldn't get them to grip my carbon bars and they would spin under higher SS torque.  Bar is aluminum now and there will also be less torque due to my second mod decision which is GEARS.

I know. Blasphemy.  It was a hard decision to make.  But I think it was the right one.  At least for awhile.  Sitting and spinning at times will be much easier for my wrists and gears will actually allow me to do some of the longer format rides I like to do a bit easier and more time efficient by being able to actually pedal the flats etc.

Bike is at Chainline now, parts are ordered for the 1x10 conversion.  Just waiting on a new dropout with a hanger from Spot and hopefully I'll have it converted and ready to ride for NEMBAfest.  That will be my first time back on dirt in weeks.  Cautiously optimistic.