Friday, June 16, 2006

Riding With a Faster Group &

So I'm reading along on, the newsletter where they have an opinion short about riding with a faster group. This question came up ealier on and I put the link above if you want to try and find the discussion on it. In that forum it was mainly about taking turns at the front of the group. Again, I'll take a turn, but if I'm not able to hold it that long then I peel off and fade back or try to stay with it. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't which may be the case with lots of folks.

One of my greatest and most efficient strategies in the last two years has been to ride with groups that are faster than I in the hopes of getting as fast as they are and it has worked. I believe one of the groups I ride with has served this purpose and I have gone on to ride with another that challenges me even more. Now when I can't stay with a group eventually I just fade back and end up in the second group which then I'm leading. So success! Alas, according to the opinion on RBR I'm causing an unsafe situation.

Their point about needless crashes being caused by riders hanging with groups that deplete them to such an extent that they are no longer able to make wise moves and decisions. I say to them, if we take away that avenue for improvement then we are left with getting faster solely on our individual training. I don't know about you, but I'm able to push myself further when I'm with a group than when I'm by myself pushing myself to the limits. I just am not able to sustain an 18.3 average on an 32 miler when I'm by myself. When I'm chasing someone or trying to hang-on to a group I am able to average that 18.3.

Personally I've not been involved in those kinds of crashes. The crashes that I have witnessed or been close to has been caused by carelessness at the beginning of the ride. Maybe people are just a little groggy - I don't know.

I also know when I'm on the mountain bike I get in the groove after a few minutes of easy riding on less technical stuff. I fall when I attempt the technical stuff too soon after the start of the ride.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

To Bike, or not to bike (Adapted from Hamlet 3/1 w/ apologies to the Bard)

To bike, or not to bike: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the hills and byways of your favorite 100 miler,
Or to take off due to a sea of work,
And by resting lose training effect? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by sleep to say we end
The ease at which we climb and the thousands of hours in the saddle
That cyclists are heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wisked away. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death-like fatigue what dreams may come
When we have sprinted off this mortal road,
Must give us pause: there in retrospect
That makes calamity of so long a route;
for who would bear the heat and humidity of time on the bike,
The opressor's breakaway, the proud man's arrogant solo sprint,
The pangs of horrendous hills, the law's delay,
The broken promises of politicians and potholes
That unsolicited support of the caboose club member takes,
When the lame excuses for falling behind he makes
With a stone face? Who would challenges bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary ride,
But that the dread of hors categorie.
The undiscover'd country from where new mettle is formed
No cyclist makes it back, puzzles the will
And makes us challenge ourselves to levels otherwise never attempted,
Than sandbag and draft on others we know not of?
Thus the logbook makes slaves of us all;
And thus the obvious tan lines of resolve
Is paled o'er with the sickening thought,
And accomplishments of great achievement and courage
With this point of view their efforts get blown-off,
And lose the name of action. -Soft you now!
(The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd).

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Salado Creek MTB Tour - Possibly

Theoretically speaking we now can do a tour on Salado Creek. Recently some members of the Thursday night Bike World ride sponsored by STORM ( stretched the envelope a bit on the access to trails from McAllister Park. A doable extension was found to the trails north of 1000 Oaks by going through a greenway access that puts you on North Jones Maltzberger which from there you can go all the way to 1604 of groomed trails and can even be extended past 1604 to reach 281. Wow! First of all very cool trails go around a damn for the Edwards recharge I'm assuming.

So that's North of McAllister, now I've personally gone in the creekbed South of McAllister all the way to Ft. Sam Houston (I think in and around McAllister it's actually Mud Creek, but who's counting). You make your way to Lady Bird Johnson via the creekbed and from Lady Bird you make your way South and eventually you will have to tip toe through Los Patios (Trespass warning - plus if you do get stopped just mention someone that you that lives there at the retirement/apartments - and no I'm not telling you to trespass - I know folks that have gone to court for lesser trespassing violations so noli consequi - don't know if it's appropriate, but it sure sounds more forceful with some Latin thrown in). After you pass under the bridge at 410 you then enter an old horse ranch (currently overgrown - darn near impassable) which connects with the new park area at Austin Hwy and Ira Lee (creek crossing here as well about a mile up from Austin Hwy and Ira Lee). BTW did I mention you do about 4 or 5 creek crossings so if you don't like getting your BB wet then wimp out and stay home - whatever! This is a gnarly trail so if you're faint of heart stay away. Anyway that new park area has a map of the proposed Salado Creek Greenway expansion project so you can get an idea of the big picture.

So now you're under the bridge at Austin Hwy and Ira Lee (if you're chicken or your MTB isn't as stout as you would like then you can take Ira Lee all the way to Ft. Sam) and you enter the trail by Nations Rent and it's pretty well groomed in this section and most of the next. So you'll have it easy from Austin Hwy to Under the bridge at Eisenhower and from Eisenhower you go about half way and you suddenly have to go right and cross the creek again (wear your sturdy MTB shoes). And you hook up with a trail that every time it rains/floods you get all this trash on the trail so be ready to get off and climb over piles of dead wood or whatever else gets washed down the Salado. Eventually you come to a section of the trail that seems impassable, but it's doable without a machete (although there's a section later that I wouldn't have minded having one for cutting down all the bramble bush that attacks your legs). Careful right before the Rittiman Bridge there's some sewer spillage there - do not immerse your feet or bike in that caca water. Right after that you enter what seems to be one of the nicest trail systems close by.

You are now at James park which has trails that connect with the equestrian trails off of Ira Lee somewhere in here you morph from the equestrian trails of the people off Ira Lee and the Ft. Sam equestrian trails. Now at a certain point yesterday when I was adventuring I came across an obvious camera out in the middle of nowhere - where Uncle Sam said this is where we draw the line. To enter Ft. Sam you must show your license so I dutifully held out my license so they could zoom in on it and clear me through. The MPs didn't come to get me when I kept going so I guess that was ok. Eventually you make it to the Binz Engleman gate to Ft. Sam by going on some of the paved roads - enjoy it whilst you can because it gets way worse here in the next section. Anyway cross the creek over the low water crossing bridge there and go immediately back into the brush eventually you reach access to the RR tracks and go under the bridge there now in this section there are a couple of creek crossings so beware. This is where I pretzelled my back wheel yesterday and had to ride the next hour on the worst looking wobbly wheel ever. I was embarrassed at how visible it was! Drivers were probably saying, look at that homeless guy, poor b@st@rd! Has to ride a pos bike like that. BTW that last section is where you need the machete or you can do it the hard way like I did. Look for a better place to cross the creek than what I found because the pretzel happens.

So then I'm out at I-35 and Splashtown where one can theoretically go all the way to the Southside Lions.

Since my wheel was trashed I decided to forego the next part of my adventure. Think about it someone in the group parks their truck at SS Lions and the rest meet up at 281 yeehaw and you have thirty plus miles of gnarly trail to enjoy. Make sure you bring lots of water. I drained 64 oz camelback plus a waterbottle of go juice in three plus hours.