Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kettles, 1.0

Today was my first time riding the kettles. Cale and Katie took Jon and I down with them to meet some of the Chicago folk as well as a very farmer-esque Gary who was doing some trail building. (I hope I got his name right).

Anyways, I bought myself a mountain bike for a graduation present, with the encouragement of my boyfriend. (I think all mountain biking boy's dream is to have a mountain biking girlfriend, at least from what I've seen and heard from boys..)

I've taken it out twice and had stellar crashes both times but I'd rather try and crash than not try at all. The first one was interesting because I was in the air long enough to think about the landing so I was able to tuck and roll, which was left over from my skateboarding days. The one today was done with the encouragement of a drop that sucked in my front tire and tossed me over the handlebars. So much for silty loam. (Which, by the way, is the Wisconsin state soil!) The first crash was just fine since I was able to "plan" my fall...but this one scraped up both legs, clunked my knee pretty good, and most frustrating of all, sprained my left wrist. (FYI - I sprained my right one in a road race two months ago and it gets irritated when I mountain bike, so now both are out of commission!)

Despite my squirliness, The kettles were stunning and I loved just about every minute of it. (Not the fifteen or twenty after the crash when I had to calm myself down and keep pedaling... or this one hill I had to walk up because my granny gear wasn't happening!) I especially loved the switchbacks through the old pine forest, I was able to just kind of flow around the trees and everything worked out providentially. It worked out really well for me and I know that every time I ride I get a little bit better, and a little bit better. I was able to deal with most of the rocky sections on the way back, but not the former farm walls that still cross the path in sections. Also, I started taking on the logs on the last section, not because I wanted to get better but out of sheer laziness. It was simply too much work to get on and off my bike and was simply easier just to try to ride over things. To my surprise I was able to make it over every single one I tried to go over. Fancy!

I'll post some pictures eventually, though they'll probably be cross posted because Katy
was the only one with the wherewithal to bring a camera. I probably would have crashed on mine anyway.

I love the sweet newness of mountain biking. There is something really really enjoyable, to me at the attempts to try to get over a log or through a rocky section or down a bridge. And the feeling of doing something that makes your stomach drop, but doing it and rolling through it cleanly- I like that feeling too. I know someday it won't be like this - someday I will roll over things and through things and it won't feel like a giant victory to hop a log and I will fluent but there is an undeniable pleasure in learning this one particular skill set to me.

It is not painless to learn but it’s equally, if not more, satisfying

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Single Speed Stupidity...

I’m currently borrowing Katy’s single speed bike until I get my own bike (cross your fingers…I’m bidding on one on ebay tonight..), and I have a few days off before my new job starts so I decided that today would be a cycling day. The weather is warm, though not sunny, the wind isn’t too bad, and the river trails are, for the most part, dry.

I headed down there, started at Capital and Humboldt, got on the trail and had this really nice flow going. I was dancing over the rocks and branches, heading up all those little hills with power, flying down the trail at a fabulous speed and then….

BAM down I went.

I hadn’t hit an obstacle, run out of speed, fell on a root or something, I just had gone down. It wasn’t hard, not even enough to rattle me, it just surprised me.

I looked down at the bike and saw a shiny metal thing lying in the dirt…it was a screw.

“Now where could this go?” I thought. Single speeds are not that complicated and it was easy to see where it was coming from – the chainring was loosing it’s screws! There was only one left holding on the ring. Out of the four I started with that morning.

I pulled out my tiny little multi tool and threw the bolt on the best I could and limped up off the trails. My plan was to head to the nearest shop, throw on some bolts and then head back to the trails, quick as a flash.

So, I headed to a shop, and they set me up with four new chainring bolts to tide me over. Happily, I pedaled back to the trails, this time entering at the east side of the north ave bridge, into that section that is all gravel park trails, pedaling happily along the flat trails. As soon as I got out of the park and out of the way of all the kids on field trips I stood up to get some speed to start getting my dance on and….

I hear the most terrible sound of screws popping out and the bike seizes and I somehow manage to unclip and bail, landing nicely in a grassy patch.

I stand up to inspect the bike and lying in the gravel are four brand new shiny chainring screws, all stripped and scattered, with the chain off and the chainring sitting pretty on the crank arm.

So, no harm done to anything but the screws I gather what I can find of them and put them in my jersey pocket, along with the chain ring and march right back to the store that had put them in for me.

The poor mechanic who had put them in looked really sorry as I marched in waving the chainring around.

“Hey, I need you to put these back in for me” I said giving him the screws…

A half hour, three mechanics, four new screws, and countless jokes about how I am the most powerful mountain biker later everything was re-attached and in working order. They actually took it out to test it and made sure it was okay.

I got back on the river trails but I just couldn’t, after tumbling off the bike in such a stupid manner, get back into a spot where I could tackle everything and found myself falling off the bike, skipping things I usually can tackle and thinking more about lunch than where I was going. I was very much a tree-hugger today, falling off the trail into the willing embrace of a few different trees this afternoon.

I figured this was a sign from the gods that it was a roadride sort of day. I’ll give mountain biking another try tomorrow…

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I just finished my last exam of undergrad.

Holy Cats...I'm old :)

To celebrate I'm going to eat some taco bell and then go for the 5:30 Alterrra ride for the first time and I think I actually roped JR into doing it with me...I gotta whip that boy into shape for our 12 hours.

And after that ride I think it's more mexican food and drinks with my cousin, who I have to call when I get home.