15 June, 2012

Cleansing, Self-inflicted Pain

If you squint really hard you can see Denver in background.  This is Kev.
The last ride I did was with Kevin.  Kevin plus myself make 2/3rds of the homey trinity(definition:  it's like three peeps who are homeys, c'mon, work with me here).  Where?  You ask is the third?  Good question.  He was doing work stuff.  Yuck!  But he is Teacher of the Year 2012 at RHS so I will not disparage my brother on this blog (maybe the next one though).  That last ride was before my vacation to southern California to visit me Mum (yes, I'm English, Southern English that's why I have this tan) and li'brah and sweet sis in-law.  It was amazingly cool and I learned two things.  One, the sweet tooth my mother has is genetic; and two, I can honestly say I don't like sitting around on a beach (not conducive to my ADD) and the hotel pool's just fine!  The only beaches I gravitate to are the rugged Oregon or Washington coasts where you can hike and decompress looking at some magnificent, water sculpted shorelines.  
The first thing I learned added girth to my waistline.  My Mum loves DQ desserts (really who doesn't).  So whenever there was DQ around we bust out a Blizzard, a dipped cone, a Caramel Shake, French Fries-and that was just for me!  Do that habitually on vacation and you end up with some sweet potential energy in the form of adipose tissue 'round yo middle.  Being a cyclist-and if you've spent quality time with cyclists-means I'm hypersensitive about my weight.  Call it vanity but you can't have extraneous girth when you're busting an uphill move or in an 80 mile race where thin=proficient, efficient use of transporting and burning crucial kilocalories.  Anyhoo it was my plan to store this potential energy and to transform it into kinetic energy as soon as I returned to Colorful Colorado (not really, I just have no self-discipline).  Today was that day peeps.
Kevin and I did a looped ride called Mt. Falcon to Lair O' the Bear.  I wanted to do the climb up Mount Falcon twice, so the plan was after the big loop, I'd just climb to the top of Falcon again and descend to get ready for the protracted pain threshold I will suffer through doing the Firecracker 50.  My new toy's Airborne Bike's Guardian 29er spec'd with the Goblin's components.  I just added my CrossMax wheelset that I'm running tubeless.  Penelope, after I did my pre-flight ritual of airing the + and - air chambers (10 pounds higher than manufacturer's recommendation), pumping tubeless tires to 40 psi (I know it's high), nighttime soak of chain lube (not me silly, the bike), was raring to go.  Once you've gotten over where the bike's center of gravity is, it's just a matter of expectations of what the bike's capable of doing and the driver's abilities (now I ain't saying she's a gold digger, but she ain't going for no broke...).  So-and I've been racing for a while-my expectation was for Penelope to deliver me a predictable, high performance translation of my pedaling and body english, to speed on the ground and to confidently track on the hardpack...which she did.  The big wheels coupled with the tubeless setup has a characteristic of beach cruiser wheels.  Kinda bubbly and bouncy but extra force dissipation (as oppposed to those forces dissipating via your spinal cord) is a plus.  When I lean to corner, the squish goes away and it tracks confidently (wish they made a UST version of the Small Block Eights). 
Here's why predictable ride quality is important.  Once the bike does what you ask for and you are intimately educated about how to get every nuance of performance out of her, the racer mind kicks in and you can get in the zone-the trance.  Once you're in the zone all the energy is spent on where your focusing your eyes (in tandem with:  setting up the body english, using arms and legs as shock absorbers, and visualizing) towards your desired path (obstacles or not).  It's like skiing moguls as fast as you can, except when you crash at speed in an XC race there's no snow to break your fall.  You worry about equipment (or your equipment flat out sucks), you lose that edge and focus and probably some time.  So thanks Airborne for spec'ing Penelope better than ite. 
Quasi big rocks, at speed mind you, needs a float like water stance and approach once you hit it.  It doesn't look pretty here but that's what I'm doing.
Approach, setting up the english...
Not particularly floating either but the big wheels have inertia baby!

Lair O'The Bear is roller coastery singletrack with these big-ish rocks as either uphill or down hill obstacles.  Another advantage of big wheels is one of my pedal strokes means my wheel will cover more distance than a 26er.  It's like disc wheels, you need leg strength to get the rolling inertia going.  If you have it, you win; if you don't, it's a waste of energy.  They also have rocks strategically placed where you have to thread the needle or else Mr. Rock will shear off your rear derailleur (Moab did that to my Yeti) or shred a sidewall (my tubeless tires are expensive!).  Either way it's not fun...
Kev threadin' the needle...
...me threadin' the needle.
Punctuating LOTB is a rocky, stair-steppy path.  'Tis better to descent it than ascend it so that's what we do...

This is actually pretty steep!
Almost done!
Back at the cars, Kevin gives me the remainder of his Cliff-Bloks and I still have some more potential energy hanging around.  Better do that second climb up Mt. Falcon.  Saturday's going to be an off-road Natural Grocers Dirt Team ride at White Ranch-a bunch of grown men sporting Halloween's colors wearing spandex.  Funny if you think about it.  If Penelope's going to be this confidence inspiring I await her debute at the first WinterPark XC race June 30th 'til then it's self-inflicted pain mixed with spiritual cleansing after epic rides setting up for the Firecracker 50 (guess the date). 


Anonymous said...

Mikey ,
as always that was a hell of a reat read!!!! thanks!

...it's me!... said...

thanks brah.