10/28/07

Autumn Rides

The weather has been beautiful for riding the past 4 days and I took advantage of that. Thursday and Friday were Fall Break days at Simpson College, so I took the dogs out for some exercise while I rode the bike and they ran alongside. I judged a voice competition at Drake University all day Saturday and on Sunday afternoon, but was able to sneak out this morning with my wife and the dogs. Temperature was a nice 35 degrees as I hit the trail. I had to break out the cool weather gear and dress in layers for that.

The trails are pretty much leaf covered, so I lowered my psi to around 20 front and rear to absorb anything I couldn't see under the leaves. Nice and plush on the Dos at that level with my tubeless set up.

Here's a shot of me dropping the Salsa into my usual training trail:

FallRide

After one loop, I passed the wife who had the camera and was out for a hike while I led the dogs around the 8 mile loop. She snapped a shot of me looking all serious as I navigated some leaf covered deep ruts as I rode past her:

FallRide3

Once the exercise was over, I slumped over the bike at the top of the hill by the parking lot ready for some Sunday Brunch with the wife:

FallRide2

It felt good to string together 3 out of 4 days of riding. I won't get to do that again for a while due to my work schedule, but hope Thanksgiving provides a similar multi-day riding opportunity.

Weather looks to be good the next few days as well, so I may have to come home from work tomorrow and mow the lawn for what could be the final time this year (unless global warming proves me wrong...).

10/20/07

Boof goes the football season...

Junior suffered a season ending injury on Thursday night in the freshmen football game against Dowling. With the score Dowling 7, Indianola 0 near the end of the first half, we had driven the ball down close to the Dowling 10 yard line and were set to score. My son rolled to the left and was looking for an open receiver in the end zone. He had plenty of time to throw a pass or tuck the ball in and run, but he kept looking and waited that extra second or two too long. When you have that much time and wait that long, there is a higher probability that somebody is going to hit you from the blindside. Unfortunately, a Dowling defensive player got around the tight end untouched and was in pursuit of my son on his backside where he couldn't see. Just as he was in the middle of his throwing motion to an open receiver he got hit hard by this defender right in the arm. The ball fell incomplete a few yards ahead and my son went down in pain clutching his right arm. As a parent in the stands, I could see it all unfolding. As a QB, when you drop back to pass or roll out to the side, once you count beyond a thousand one, a thousand two, a thousand three, a thousand four - it gets risky and a decision should have been made to tuck and run or at least look around to see who is coming at you. My son didn't, and....

That was it for him and he huddled on the sideline for the 2nd half clasping his arm. Initial diagnosis by the sideline Doc was rotator cuff strain. We went to good ole Doc Lindeman yesterday who saw my son this summer for pitcher's elbow. We wanted to make sure there wasn't a tear and the coach had suggested we get it looked at to know the full story. He did all the tests and they found no tear in the rotator cuff (which is good), but said it was either a strain or a bruise. On a strength scale of 1 - 10, his right arm was a solid 5+. As expected and knowing rotator cuff injuries well myself, he pretty much needs 3 - 4 weeks of doing nothing with that arm to heal the shoulder. Being that there is only one remaining game next week, his season is over.

Interestingly, the Doc says he can try to throw on it Monday in practice to see how it reacts as the motion will not injury him anymore than it already is. But the power, speed and zip on the ball will obviously not be there as the muscles will be weak. So he suggested showing the coaches what he can do on Monday so they can determine if he is of any use or not. No point in using him if he cannot be effective. No miracles when it comes to rotator cuff. Time and then gentle building rehab will be in order. Ice and anti-inflammation therapy has been our routine and will continue throughout the weekend.

I'm just glad it wasn't torn...

10/12/07

Quarter Rage #1...

I raced off after work (actually left a few minutes early) to make it up to the 1st TT race in the series of 3 Quarter Rage TT's at Denman's on Wednesday. These are sponsored by DQ and I had fun giving a go at two of the three held last fall. I guess my goal for this fall is to see if I can beat my best time of last fall for my own personal challenge.

I parked the car and took off the business suit and suited up in my riding gear. Now that's a pleasant sight to see a grown man changing clothes parked on the side of a Des Moines street in broad daylight. But I had no other alternative...

I had the Sugar 293 in the car, so figured I would give it a chance even though it is the heaviest beast I ride. Not much time to warm-up, so I tossed my 25 cents in the hat, signed in and rode up and down the paved trail a few times to get the blood flowing while I waited for my turn at the starting line. Air temperature was below 60 and felt cold and dry. I was wearing my Gore long sleeved jersey it was so cool. I figured the cool air would get the lungs burning and help the cold weather, exercise induced asthma kick up by the end of the 20 - 22 minute full out scramble. (It did!)

My times to beat from last year were:

2006 QR #2: 22:49 on the Dos Niner
2006 QR #3: 20:59 on the Karate Monkey

I lined up behind Mike Lebeda who was riding SS. I took off 60 seconds later and settled into a tucked position to cut the wind on the paved trail until the drop off into the woods. I love to stand and mash at times, but the FS Sugar 293 is a sit and grind it out bike which probably slowed me down coming out of the sharp corners since I am so used to standing and cranking to get back up to speed on my other bikes. But it sure soaks up the logs and bumps well and allows me to keep pedaling at all times. I was rolling pretty well, but found myself searching for a little recovery in the early section of Denmans after the effort I used from the start and coming out of those sharp corners seated. My mind said forget the recovery and forced my legs and lungs to go on for the 20 minutes of pain as I struggled to find a rhythm and the best gearing.

The singletrack was covered with leaves, but the Nanoraptors were hooking up quite well on every corner. A few mud spots from Monday morning's rain, but nothing that really slowed me down too much. The most difficult thing for me was the setting sun and all the rods and cones adjustment that goes on to handle the lighting. I found myself ducking and weaving a few times at what I thought were trees, but they were only shadows. I may have to wear a different colored lens next week.

There were a couple of new logs that were not there last year, but I always like variety so welcomed the new challenges. One log grabbed my chainring as there is a sharp turn to the right between two trees, so my speed was too slow to bunny hop completely over it. No teeth were bent, so all was fine.

My mental nemesis at Denman's is one log that I have never even tried clearing and I need to get up there some Saturday and ride it a few times to remove my mental block. Squirrel was there (photo credit to Squirrel and link to his photo) with his camera and caught me wimping out with my foot out playing old man safety hop. He told me, after I crossed the log like grandma with a load of groceries on the bike, that it was easy to clear at speed. Mike Lebeda confirms this, so I just need to go practice on it a few times to remove the mental block and save a couple of seconds at that point of the trail.

I don't know, it must be an optical illusion approaching it from the side we do in the TT. I know I've ridden it just fine in the other direction a few times, but somehow coming up the hill after a couple of sharp turns that thing just sits there looming across the trail and I'm like a horse who won't do that jump.

Me in all my wimped out glory as captured by Squirrel:

Squirrel shot me being a wimp

Squirrel caught me again in another section going full tilt:

Squirrel caught me again

Full credit to the photographer and I owe him a beer for each picture.

I caught Mike on the latter portion of the trail and passed him in the final singletrack section before the sprint to the finish line. I'm not sure the Sugar 293 is the best bike to be riding for the TT, but it seemed to do what I was asking it to do. I'll probably try another bike next week.

Final results came in at 21:20 which landed me 10th place. I didn't quite meet my goal of besting my time from last year (missed beating it by 22 seconds and tying it by 21 seconds), but I think I can meet my goal in one of the next two weeks if I learn how to hop that log at speed and ride a different bike. I guess it will depend on the trail conditions as well. If it is tacky or a little muddy, speeds will be down a tad. However, if it is dry and fast - I have a chance of meeting my goal.

Regardless, a little fun in the autumn was had by all.

10/5/07

Fun Fall Rides...

October is here and I have found myself enjoying low key, fun fall rides the past couple of weeks. With the dogs. Without the dogs. With the wife. Without the wife. With my iPod. Without my iPod. On the recumbent. On the mountain bike. On the tandem. On the road bike. On dirt. On gravel. On pavement. On grass. On leaves. You name it, I'm enjoying it while the weather holds. I know the cooler temps will eventually arrive - despite global warming - but it is beginning to feel like I will be mowing and weeding until Thanksgiving at this rate. My grass is looking the best it has in months except for a patch near the street where I got hit with grubs. I applied my anti-grub stuff, but I'm still in battle with the suckers.

Speaking of fall fun...

Check out this fun ride:

36inches

36 inches of pure, unadulterated fun. It's a custom 36" wheeled SS owned by Ben of Milltown Cycles. A lot of us would love to toss a leg over it just to smile and laugh while enjoying the fun. That would be a perfect fall fun machine....

Several good things came out of the Interbike Show in Vegas that I followed online. One that stuck out which I will enjoy was the announcement of Continental coming out with tubeless ready tires for the 29"er crowd via the King and Queen nomers. Looks like the Queens will be mud specific and enhance my fall and spring riding with a better mud tire for the big wheels than the Kenda Klaw (which is good, but I know Continental knows Mud having ridden their 26" products in Europe). Here's a shot of the Kings:

Continental Tubeless

Amazing growth in the choices of tires for the big wheels. There are now 50 different tires to choose between for the 29"er crowd. Remember when it was 5? Wow! I can't wait until a year from now when that number may have grown another 50%.

It's been a couple of weeks of injuries at our house. My daughter got her knee smacked by a 7 year old boy in a neighborhood game of football. That ended her cross country season this fall as her knee was sprained and she was on crutches for a week. The coach was not very understanding or forgiving which perplexed me. My daughter decided to go to practices just to watch and be there as part of the team and the coach basically scolded her non-stop. My daughter stood up for herself, but told the coach she would not be able to compete in the final few meets as she had only progressed to walking this week. Running is coming slowly, but not enough for the meets. She's been rehabbing and should be able to play soccer by next weekend (we hope).

My wife sliced her thumb skinning a pumpkin while making soup on Wednesday night. She called me at work and I had to rush home to take her in to the clinic. 7 stitches, a tetanus shot, some antibiotics, and a bottle of Vicodin later we were on our way home. Heck of a localized swelling at the tetanus shot on her arm, but that is a common reaction for adults.

And my son got beat up in last night's football game as Indianola's freshmen beat Johnston's freshmen team 13-5. That improves Indianola's season to 5-1 with 3 games remaining (Urbandale, Dowling, and Ankeny). Zack plays QB and he took some typical QB hits last night. Two guys hit him hard right after he released a long pass. His left forearm got hit with the face mask of a helmet and left an imprint and his right elbow got smacked and swelled up like a grapefruit. He was able to finish the game, but even after ice and anti-inflammation goodies, he woke up stiff and battered. Such is football. The frosh are doing well, but they were beat up after last week's win over SE Polk and equally beat up last night after defeating Johnston. Concussions, hamstring pulls, groin injuries, scrapes and cuts were all part of the past 2 weeks for several key players. Hopefully, they can all bounce back for next week's game against Urbandale.

Weekend riding will be with my wife on the recumbents.