Mt Biking etiquette

This month I have come across some bad etiquette from other riders. Knowing some of these riders, I know that it probably wasn’t on purpose, and I bet they didn’t realize how this effects other people’s ride.

Broken carbon 2Niner frame

This past weekend for example, a group of my buddies were on a long Mt bike ride. There were about 70 people at the start of this ride. The course was over varying terrain – single-track, fire road, steep uphills, steep downhills and nearly everything else in between. One of our buddies is stronger in leg strength, but is still developing in off-road technical bike handling. So, we would ride awhile, then 1 of us would pause and wait on the other 3 to catch up and re-group.

This helps to make sure that if there is a problem someone is there to help you out. We wanted to make sure no one got a flat, everyone is following the same route and that no one crashed and needs assistance or actual medical help. But, it is also a chance to catch our breathe, talk about Fun sections, any crashes and/or near misses that just happened.

BERMS!

The problem was once we got onto the last 5 miles and less technical section of this course, our buddy proceeded to drop the riders that had just waited on him for the previous 25 miles. Although nothing was said, it was bad etiquette to not wait on us, when we had waited on him and stayed together as a group.

Another time I was riding with a friend on a trail that I had never ridden before. After a few miles, I realized that my front rotor was rubbing – I said ‘hold up for a sec’. I stopped for a second to readjust the front wheel and proceeded, I guess she didn’t hear me, but I figured I would catch up. I went a short distance and came to an intersection. I had no idea which way my friend had gone – so I just stayed there. A couple minutes later my friend showed back up.

Friendly bike rack

When Mt biking, here are some tips to keep everyone together and safe.

1) Always stop at intersections or at least make sure at each intersection that everyone makes the correct turn.

2) If you come to an intersection and don’t know which way to go – just stay there, that is better than getting lost, and people having to search for you.

3) On long uphills and or downhills, occasionally check that the person behind you is ok. Sometimes I just look over my shoulder, sometimes I will stop and regroup to ensure everyone is good.

4) If you encounter other riders stopped on the trail, check to ensure that they don’t need assistance because at some point it will be you that would like someone to check on you.

5) When passing riders going in the opposite direction, it is courteous and safer to mention how many other people are in your group, that way they will know there are more riders up ahead, thus potentially avoiding a head-on collision.

6) I have a bike Bell. Several reasons – it warns bears and horses that a human is near, alert other Mt bikers while going around blind turns, alert other mt bikers that I want to pass, and let other riders know that I’m Freaking Enjoying the Ride!

pedaling with anger

Looking for a short turbo boost?
Focus all of your emotions into the pedals.

There is a saying around the interwebs about ‘Stomach of Anger’. Although I’m not really sure what they mean by that I can tell you that I have pedaled with Anger before. And it makes you fast! But also out of breathe very quickly.

You see I was on a group ride that was usually very steady paced. Everyone rotated evenly and the pace of the group as a whole was pretty quick at around 22-24 mph. But this day we had 1 rider that was randomly attacking the group.

It was throwing off the rhythm of the group and thus lowering our average speed, and it was getting on my nerves. So with each successive attack I was getting more and more P-O’d at this person and their failed attacks off the front that were distracting other riders, until he attacked one time, and I had enough!

I down shifted & MASHED the pedals, shift, MASH, shift, MASH, until I not only went by him at a much greater pace than he was going, but had gotten a significant distance up the road to a red light. As I sat at the red light attempting to catch my breath, I had a chance to think for a minute about what had gotten me so riled up. Although I felt better getting some anger out, I also felt guilty for doing the same thing that this person was doing to the group.

I guess in hindsight I was trying to tell him that he wasn’t the only strong rider in the group that ‘could’ go faster. I’m still not sure, but one thing I learned from this was that when I got my emotions together and focused my energy, that I could create a large amount of watts for a brief amount of time.

I could pedal in Anger!

The thing about pedaling in Anger is that your mind shuts down – you don’t feel any pain, all you have is raw emotion – and all that energy is poured into stomping on those pedals!

never ride at the front

I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.

Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.

Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.

Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.

It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.

What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.

I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.

Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.

One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.

Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!

Jackrabbit over Memorial Day weekend

Over Memorial day weekend some friends and me did a Mt biking – camping trip (back) to Jackrabbit campground in Hayesville, NC. This is such a great location to ride and camp at due to it also being directly on lake Chatuge.

Apollo is dog gone tired.

Ride report: Friday was Noon Dog loop out 2 Saba beach – unfortunately for Apollo I took a wrong turn and we ended up doing an extra 2 miles before actually getting to the beach – this had him tuckered out for the rest of the weekend! Friday afternoon the Faster group went out for all trails, followed by a lake swim.

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Friday evening there was some discrepancies about who’s campsite was where, and who had reservations and at what location (luckily we were not at all involved in any of this). The park rangers showed up and went about attempting to get things sorted out – luckily for our ‘camp neighbors’ it all got sorted out and they did not need to re-pack and move to a different campsite because they spent about 3 hours setting up their campsite. Yeah, they had a BUNCH of stuff – but hey, they are out camping w/ their kids and they were really cool about us having our dogs – so everyone was happy.

Saturday was ‘no drop’ on all trails, lunch, Faster group (all trails), lake swim, dinner & some folks went out for a night ride. (some folks didn’t tell other folks to bring their night lights).

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Sunday was Kid’s day – Dale brought up his 2 boys and we rode at their pace. 1 of whom had the most awesome crash that I may have ever witnessed. Coming off the blue loop there is a double hump, he rode the first 1 well, but the 2nd 1 threw him – somehow, he appeared to be off the bike landing hand first, which turned into a cartwheel, then flopped onto the ground – the whole time the bike soloed away from him for about 30 yards into the woods before stopping – it was the craziest dis-mount I had ever seen! He wanted to be upset about it, but we were all patting him on the back & cheering so much I think he ended up taking some pride in it.

We followed that ride up with another lake swim, then afternoon ‘no drop’ ride.
Sunday afternoon several people went back to Greenville for the USPro race – although I really wanted to go, I had been there the past 2 years, and since the campsite was all set-up ‘sleep-in & recover’ on Monday morning with out all the driving sounded a little more appealing.

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Monday morning my friend Carey packed up early and headed home, so I decided to go out and explore the surrounding area some more.

I headed out to check out a friends cabin that is in the area. I originally drove directly past it. Came to the end of the road and turned around and came back. The directions were go South on the road – green gate, before the bridge. So, I saw a gate, but it looked very unused, so I kept driving, and ended up going over the bridge before realizing that must have been the gate. I hiked in through the tall grass a little nervous due to the fact that there isn’t an address, so I wasn’t really sure if this was the correct cabin or not.

old cabin

I’m not sure how old the cabin is, but it was definitely rustic in nature. I was nervous when I walked across the deck. Each of the boards looked like they could give way at any time.
The nice thing about the cabin was that it was just up from a pretty good size creek. It looks like you could at least walk down to the creek and cool off if you wanted too – not that you could do laps or anything, but at least soak a little bit.

I ended up going for a walk with Apollo since we were on a quiet road. We went past the bridge and up the hill – Apollo was running from shade tree to shade tree now due to the sun. We were stopped under 1 of the big trees beside the road when I noticed a Solar panel in the pasture. This was the 2nd time on this trip that I had seen what appeared to be a field of solar panels.

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After I got back home, I did a little research into these solar panels in Hayesville, NC. I came across Green States Energy website which talked about 2 different projects in the Hayesville area – so I’m sure that I saw one of these 2 projects, but I can’t tell for certain which one…. although I would guess it was Hindsman, since the one I saw from the road was on a slight hill – unfortunately didn’t get a chance to get a picture of that one.

Waterfall near Unicoi.

On the way back from Jackrabbit I decided to stop along the way at the top of Unicoi gap and reheat some lunch. After eating, I took Apollo for another short hike and hiked back to a waterfall that I had been too before – I particularly like this waterfall because it has a man-made ‘basin’ near the base of it that fills with water and has a little run-off.

Video Mt biking at FATS

I got out last month and met up with some friends for a ride at FATS Mt bike trail. If you have never been there, let me tell you, it is like going to a pump track! I remember saying to the group, ‘you just can’t jump each one, you have to select which one’s your going to jump, because there are so many”.

I tried to time some of the music to the events in the video, whether each person jumping a jump in line, or a crash.

It still amazes me how much footage I end up cutting out before getting what can be put into a video with out it being over 5 minutes long. And I think this video is a bit too long, but I tried to warrant the length with crashes, passes, jumps, and whoops.

This video is actually the 2nd video from the day (here is the First). It is amazing how different people can change the dynamics of a ride. I was glad I wasn’t wearing a Heart Rate monitor!

Mt biking video from FATS

A group of friends got together once again, this time for a Fun ride near Augusta, GA. A local trail system called FATS.
All I can say is WOW!! This has got to be one of the most Fun trail systems that I have ever ridden!

While I was editing the footage for this video I kept thinking 2 things – 1) I wanted to show how rolling this terrain was, which lead to the 2nd thing: this trail system is like a Mt bike roller coaster, thus the music. Now, this isn’t to say that every part of FATS has a slightly down-hill angle and a whoop to jump every 5 feet. There is definitely some climbing involved on a couple trails. But for this day in January we chose to stay more on the flatter trails of Brown Wave and Skinny.

Unfortunately, as always, footage from an event rarely ever does the course justice. But I hope you enjoy the video & that it will encourage you to get out and ride!

2011 Christmas eve ride

This year was a bitter sweet Christmas eve ride as we enjoyed our time together on the trails.
We got the dogs out for a short ride before most folks showed up, then headed out for the group ride around 11am. There was a bunch of climbing, and we ended up exploring an unknown trail which ended up looping us back around to mid-climb, then we got to bomb back down the trail again – good times!

We had a water crossing that had no bridge – w/ a smart phone in my pocket, I figured it was safer to walk than take a $200+ dunk/phone renewal.

Post ride we hung out with our friends and the dogs, and remembered our friend Jeff.

Good times with Great friends!

Hope you have very Happy Holidays and enjoy time spent with friends and family!!

Winter Bike League Maysville 2011

You know that Winter is about to cast her steely grip across the US when anybody whose is a cyclist rushes to Athens, GA to join into the Winter Bike League. They go in hopes of Fame and fortune that but a few have been able to attain, the stories of which have never been told – unless several adult beverages have been consumed.

Mineral Man and StrongerCyclist

I got a call from the Mighty Mineral Man himself, telling me that he was returning to grand form & was making preparations to rip the legs off any non battled hardened cyclists that dare forget his story. It had been a mere seven years since Mineral Man and your’s truly left their own mark in the Archives of the WBL.

As I do every year, I re-read last years WBL report . This year I was determined that my lack of mileage (from recovering from a recent Mt bike crash) wasn’t going to be the source of my suffering.
Greenville WBLer Derek.

Luckily, I talked my friend Derek into coming from Greenville to the original WBL & luckily he gave me 2 NUUN tablets at the start. I also filled up 2 flasks full of Hammer Gel, a clif bar, and a secret weapon, a pack of pop-tarts – yeah, I’m going old skool! I wasn’t going to let a lack of nutrition keep me from holding onto the front group.

WBL start Dec3, 2011

As the ride gently rolled out of town, everyone was all chatter and festive, seeing old friends, meeting new friends. Little did I realize the depth of the days field, but why would that surprise me? this is the WBL! I saw some great riders, a @Team Type1 rider, 2 Team Mountain Kakis riders, a Real Cyclist.com, Jered Gruber, Clay Parks, Hammerin’ HillBilly, FarmerG, the PACK SHOUTER, old motorcycle racers, and a score of cyclists that race! It was a stacked, packed, jacked field of 2 wheeled craziness about to embark on a slugfest. As we rolled outta town, you could tell everyone was giddy with anticipation!

Then, came the rolling hills. At the mid-field riders were being made into diamonds via the intense pressure of the leaders. All you can hear is the weazing wind of those putting in monumental efforts to keep themselves with the herd. As I looked up I realized that we were only half way up this roller and you have to pay attention as riders start to fall off the pace.

Pack is spread out on 2nd lap

I see a couple riders swerve around and then suddenly see why, 1 gal was lost in her personal hurt locker, I checked traffic, played frogger and eased over and became a pusher. I geared down, and asked if she wanted a push, when she looked over her shoulder I realized it was her weazing I heard. She was nearly hyper-ventilating. I got the two of us up to the same speed, but we still had a ways to get over this hill, and now I’m nearly weazing also. PUSH! Finally, I got her onto the flats, let her catch her breathe, and the ride continued along.

Once at the store stop, I filled the bottles, popped in the extra Nuun tablet, ate on a smore pop-tart and checked in with the Mineral Man & Gainesville fella’s. So far, so good! But as the group was knocking out the 2nd half of the ride, the rollers were back. Funny how you can’t remember much about a route, but once you are hurting you can realize this is where the hurt was put to you last time. We were on a skyward ascent, under I-85 when I had deja-vue. I dug down and my quads were talking to me, but I was able to throttle enough to keep my placing in the pack.

By now, I’m going through my second flask of gel. The quads and hamstrings are mumbling, but no mutiny yet. Onward, we march. I take every chance to throttle my pace. After each surge ahead of me, I catch up slowly – no big efforts. And no one is in any hurry to get around me either. Everyone is suffering.

Finally we round a corner and I realize we are just outside Athens, and have 2 climbs left. But the first climb I loathe. It is somewhat short, but man is it steep. Suddenly the pack starts to move all over the road nearly everyone is out of the saddle, rocking their bikes. Again, I make it with the group, and my mood improves, Athens is on a hill, and now that is the only hill left. Post ride Food and Beer awaits!

Interesting to hear the stories when your done and finally relaxing. Man, was I suffering when we were going past that white picket fence. “yeah, I remember that fence, that section SUCKED!”

You are suffering? Remember everyone is hurting, you just have to hurt just a little more to stay with them!
Most races come down to 3-5 minutes of who can suffer the most and that often determines the winner.

Bike crash injury

I crashed. I was going too fast and there were acorns and lots of leaves on the ground. I hit hard.

I went Mt biking with some buddies today. I slowed down at an intersection to make sure everyone was together and 2 of the guys passed me – suddenly I was playing catch-up. I went into a berm with more speed than usual, ended up high on the berm, I overshot the exit and the front wheel landed on leaves. The front wheel immediately folded out from under me and next thing I knew, I was rolling off the trail so that I wouldn’t get run over by the guy behind me. It happened that fast.

If you have not crashed, your not going fast enough…. or something like that.

I went down on my left side and had pain in my left knee. The guys stopped and waited as I figured out whether or not it was serious. I finally got up gingerly and slowly got back on the bike, and continued the ride. The knee was sore, but I pushed on…. I was riding the Jamis SS so I had to mash and stand often. My knee wasn’t very Happy, but I was enjoying the ride. After we finished an easier loop we moved onto another trail.

After transferring over to this other section my knee felt like it had hot-spots. I pulled down my knee warmer, which revealed a purple knee cap and being October, I don’t exactly have a tan. I could see where the skin had taken some abrasion. I was now figuring that I needed to take it easier than I was and attempt to spin my way out of the woods if possible.

I solo hiked & biked my way back to the parking lot and threw down some advil. Once home, I elevated and put a bag of frozen broccoli on the knee cap. Hours later and there was serious swelling and I could barely bend my knee past a 90 degree angle. This was probably my fault.

Things I did wrong
I should have realized how hard the impact was that my knee was going to swell and be sore. More riding was not going to ‘loosen it up’. In fact, all it probably did was aggravate it even more. Being on a Single Speed wasn’t helping either.

Things I did correctly
Once I realized that it was worse that I initially thought, I attempted to get back quickly and not make things any worse, and then took take advil in hopes of suppressing any swelling.
Elevate the leg and start 15 minute periods of icing the knee.

UPDATE:
After a couple days of the knee starting to feel better, I checked to see what was restricting my range of motion. Well, where I was feeling the pressure was not in the joint itself, but coming from the muscle.
I started massaging the muscles around the knee and found some tight spots that were fairly tender. SO, I pulled out my good old foam roller and started to roll out my inside knee. I did some searching for those main spots that were so tender, and put some slight pressure on them until they slowly released.

Almost immediately, I noticed improvement in range of motion and less pain.

After a week of doing this, the knee joint itself feels good – no pain through full range of motion.
The inside and just above the knee muscle seems to be quite swollen – I’m continuing to take Advil, apply ice and elevate.

Mountain biking Tsali

This past weekend I loaded up the Jamis Exile Single Speed and made the drive North to Almond, NC to one of my favorite Mt biking locations in the South east – Tsali. Tsali is a magical trail system located on one of the most amazing backdrop of The Great Smokey Mountains.

I got there late Friday afternoon, just in time to set up camp before dark. And that’s when the fun started. Hanging out by the campfire catching with friends that I haven’t seen for most of the Hot, Muggy summer we have had in the southeast.

Campfire and Niner single speed at Tsali.

One of the great things about Tsali is the ability to ride straight out of camp and onto the trails!! It is awesome to come back from a ride with perma-grin and pop open an adult beverage, heat up some food, and just hangout and chat about the ride. And fortunately it is cool enough to need a campfire in the evenings. And oddly enough, I just happened to see this picture opportunity pop-up one evening of Tad’s Niner hanging on a hook behind the campfire. We took several photos of this with various amounts of lighting on the bike.

Mouse loop overlook

The next morning we get up, eat, and get prepped to ride Mouse, followed by Thompson.
I honestly can’t remember much about riding mouse – but for some reason I seem to remember everything about riding Thompson, especially the finishing stretch down to the camping area. This is a longer downhill section with just enough twists, berms and turns to keep you on your toes.

Of course, since I brought a good friend who had never been here, I made sure that we got to each overlook. And Lady Luck was on our side as it was a peak leaf viewing weekend at altitudes above 4,000 feet.

The next day we headed out to ride Left loop. This such a great section of easy paced trail that followed along the edge of Fontana Lake. It gets challenging in a couple sections due to the narrow trail along the slate rock.

Lake Fontana, Left loop at Tsali.

From the overlook on the left loop, we headed over to the Right loop. This Right loop takes you from the overlook level back down to the lake level & then back to the Tsali parking lot.

All the trails are quite groomed at Tsali, but what makes them so much fun is the speed and maintaining your momentum on the berms in the corners. Running the Jamis Single Speed at Tsali was Great! I ran a 32×20 gear, and although it seemed a bit on the easy side a couple of places, for several of the climbs I was glad I wasn’t running a smaller cog. Any place that was flat or downhill & straight enough that I wanted more gearing didn’t last long enough to really warrant a bigger gear. And I was surprised to find on the couple of climbs that I had to get off the bike (don’t say walk) was where a rider in front of me caused me to loose momentum or the rear wheel spun out on me.

This wasn’t my first weekend at Tsali, but I think I got much better pictures this time!