Sunday, March 29, 2009

Injury Update

I went to see the Doctor last Monday, the day after the race/injury. I got an appointment to see Dr. Owens at 4:15 p.m. She examined the shoulder had me move it and/or moved it all around and was impressed with the range of motion. She didn't think it was anything too serious but sent me to get a x-ray just to be sure. She also gave me a prescription for 800 mg of ibuprofen for good measure.

So Tuesday I got the x-ray. They actually took four because the tech cut off the top of my clavicle on the first two. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary so she let me go. I spent the rest of the week in pain barely able to move my right arm without greater pain.

Saturday morning I got a call from my doctor at around 8:30 a.m. She told me she was looking at the x-ray's and wanted to know if I knew I had a broken arm. Having woken up not too long ago I wasn't sure I heard her right so I asked her which bone was broken. She said it was the humerus up near the shoulder. My brain finally kicked in and I said that I knew I had broken my arm there about 33 years ago. She said it was good because the x-ray tech hadn't written anything about on the films. She then told me to give it another week and if it was still bothering me she would refer me to an ortho.

So today it is one week since the injury and I can say that it is improving. I still feel pain when I move the arm, mostly around the outer part of my upper arm. I do not feel pain constantly though. That stopped yesterday. I rode my MT bike on Thursday and the arm did not bother me at all, although I rode on the road. I could not stand and pedal, it was too painful. I rode the trainer last night and that was mostly pain free. There might have been a circulatory issue because my arm started getting numb toward the end of the hour. I tried to ride outside on my road bike today but my saddle bolt stripped out and my saddle dropped about eight minutes into the ride. Fun! Actually, I was lucky it happened early in the ride. I'll try again tomorrow and hopefully will not have to write about this again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Race Tires

For those of you who read my wheel review, you will not be surprised by my tire review.

Road Bike

Basically, I do not want to be changing tires the night before a race and I don't have a spare racing wheelset so I ride in races what I ride to train. I haven't raced my road bike yet this year but if I were to race, it would be on my Panaracer Stradius Pro tires. Why do I train and/or race these? I am not sponsored by a tire manufacturer so these go on my bike at my cost. They are available for $19.99 each at Performance. End of story.

TT Bike

Above applies here, I do not want to be changing tires the night before a race and I don't have a spare racing wheelset so I ride in races what I ride to train. I haven't raced my TT bike yet this year but if I were to race, it would be on the tires that are on it. Honestly, I don't know what they are. They are the ones that were on it when I bought it. Maybe I will look at them sometime to learn what they are. Probably when I need to replace.


OK, ahem, I do have a set of "racing wheels" for this bike. Not really, I have set set of training wheels with somewhat slick tires that I ride during the week. I also have set of wheels with real MTB tires that I use for races. Right now they the tires on these wheels are the front and rear specific tires from Panaracer the front-specific classic Dart and the rear-specific classic Smoke. Last year at Twisted Tire Spring Cup I had a spoke issue and was seeking assistance from one of the shop vehicles before the race. The Bike Factory of Charlottesville folks were able to fix the problem. The reason I bring this up is one of the "kids" saw the tires I was using, the Dart and Smoke, and quoted the Performance Bike buzz words in the catalogue description about how more races have been won on this set of tires than any other. I looked at him with a quizzical look at first and then told him that those words hadn't influenced me. It was the price.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Ride The Ridge" MTB race - Blue Ridge School, VA

After last week's debacle at the O'Hill Muddown, I was hoping for warmer temps, drier conditions, and a good race. Can you believe all three requests were answered . . . . up to a point. Oh yes, the weather was warmer, mid-60's by mid-race. Very nice!! The course was mostly dry with just a few wet/muddy spots. Not much more you could ask for there! Good race? Well . . . . it started out good!

Start time was 11:00 a.m. for the Pro/Expert cat. and they went right on time. We folk in the Sport category went at 11:02 with the beginners following us. The course was all you could expect it to be. The race director, Nolan Lavoie, sent out a course profile on Friday and if I wasn't mistaken I thought it could have been a "sawtooth" waveform. Yes, it was up or down the whole eight mile without a meter of flat. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but not much. There were also a good number of rock gardens and other obstacles that would prove rather difficult given the terrain. For the beginner's sake, they cut about a mile out of the first lap which was good for them, but not for me as I will explain later. There was also one really muddy spot next to a pond that was about ten feet long. Someone had the sense of humor to throw a railroad tie down along one edge of this "bog". I considered attempting to ride across it but then decided I better not even try so I used it to walk across the mud. The first lap was quite frustrating at first because they sent all the sport category riders out at once, and there were twenty-six pre-registered, so it was quite crowded. Given all the steep climbs and obstacles you had to stop and walk quite a bit because you were always coming up on someone walking. It got less frustrating and more challenging after everyone spread out a bit. Toward the end of the first lap I came up on a guy on a rocky descent who was having a tougher time than me, and I'm terrible on the downhills. He (Kevin) said, "go ahead, I think you are better at the downhills than me" to which I replied, "that doesn't say much about your descending skills then." We both chuckled and rode on. At the very end there was a fire road climb followed by a fire road descent to a road descent then a short dirt climb back up to the football field and the start/finish. Kevin passed me on the road and then quickly lost it on the dirt climb and started walking. I passed him back then and crossed the start/finish somewhere in the middle of the field of sport vet men 35+.

So after the first lap I would say that I was having a pretty good ride. On the second lap, things went much smoother in the beginning because there were a lot fewer riders to get stuck behind. I rode almost all of the places I had to walk on the first lap and was opening a pretty good gap to the folks I had passed just after the lap started. I duly noted the spot where we turned off on the first lap and headed up the 300 foot climb over a half mile plus the corresponding descent. I was going up a particularly nasty spot where the trail was narrow rocky and steep. There was a ~120 degree turn to the right between a big tree on the right and a couple of little trees on the left. Oh, and it was a steep little four foot rise on loose soil to get between the trees. I swung up and around to left side of the trail because I wasn't sure how close I should get to the big tree when either my bar hit one of the little trees, I lost traction or something else but I started to fall to my right toward the big tree down the slope. I was just far enough to the left to fall and crack my head on the big tree. Of course I was falling down the slope so even though I got my right leg out it touched only air. So I threw out my right arm to keep my head from smashing into the tree only to have my forearm hit the tree causing my body to pivot as I spun twisting and falling down the slope. My head missed the tree mostly but my arm got abraded by the bark and as i fell/twisted I heard and felt a loud pop and searing pain in my right shoulder. I thought, Aw man, I was having a good race too. I went to move my bike out of the trail but it hurt so much when I tried to lift it I just sat down on the slope. Kevin stopped because he saw me wincing in pain and my bike was laying across the trail. Another rider rode back down to inform the race folks of my injury. Just about everyone stopped to ask if I was OK. I tried to tell Kevin I could push my bike back down the hill myself but he would have none of it. He insisted, so we walked down to the place where the trail split and we ran into the guy who went for help. I told Tony I could handle it from there because I could see some Blue Ridge School buildings just below from where I stood. I headed toward them and ran into Tony the race promoter. He took my bike and walked me down to meet Judy from the infirmary. Judy met us by the Church and gave me a field examination. I was able to shrug my shoulders and lift my arm and some other things pain free, all be it slowly. So off to the infirmary to get some ice and saran wrap. Don't ask. While Judy was wrapping me a boy (Brandon)~fourteen or so who had also hurt his shoulder came in and started talking to me. I think he was pretty impressed with my 53x11 kit. He was nice and had lived in Crofton, MD. Judy gave me four ibuprofen's and then drove me down to my car where my bike was sitting. I have to give a big shout out to everyone who helped me or tried to help or even gave a nice word. Thanks everyone!

So I had my first DNF due to injury. The jury is still out on what is wrong with my shoulder. I don't think anything is broken. At first I thought collar bone or something but I don't think so after my self-examination. Probably a strain or tear up there near the shoulder joint. I guess I'll have to visit the Doc tomorrow. Bummer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Cleaners & Degreasers

OK. I have some cleaners and degreasers in my basement but I don't know what brand they are and I do not use them. In fact, I am not really sure how or when I acquired them. For cleaning I use H20. I use the same natural ingredient for degreasing. Why? I don't know. Maybe I don't trust products of this nature. Maybe I feel a little "elbow grease" is all you need. Perhaps someone will enlighten me with their product review. Anyone in the market for a unused bottle of degreaser?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

O'Hill Meltdown

Today was the Observatory Hill Meltdown XC race down in Charlottesville, Va. This was to be race #2 of the 2009 VORS but turned out to be race #1 because Camp Hilbert was postponed last weekend until April 4th. Of course last weekend's weather happened to be seventy degrees and sunny both days but the trails would have been quite muddy due to the snow melt. Warm but muddy, I think I could handle that. Enter this weekend, with rain Friday night and then again Saturday (up to 1") forecast to continue into Sunday morning with temps in the Charlottesville area in the upper thirties. Now the O'Hill trail is on the campus of UVA. After the promoter stated that marginal weather would shift the race to the Tevendale Farm, Saturday night the announcement was made that the race was on. OK, but someone needs to define the term "marginal weather" for me.

Anyway, I drove almost three hours to get to the race but arrived on time and about an hour before the start. Another 63 racers pre-registered so there was going to be a pretty good showing. So the weather forecast holds true and it rains the entire race and the temps stay in the upper thirties. The trails were wet, muddy, slippery, etc. I think the conditions were as bad as Spring 2008 Twisted Tire with the exception that there were no trails turned into waterfalls. The laps were supposed to be about six miles long and the promoter told us at the start that they took out one flat section that was about a half-mile long because it was too muddy so the rest was either up or down. I did the sport race and it started on the road by the Slaughter Rec Center. We went up the hill towards the observatory and then cut off the road onto the trail just before the top. The trails were as advertised. It was very hilly. I think I would have liked it if it were dry. OK, my bike and I are not mudders. Our mother's weren't mudders. Our father's weren't mudders. We don't like the slop. Unfortunately for me, on one of the many leaf covered, rock strewn, muddy, white-knuckled descents on my first lap I had something happen to me that has never happened before. Oh, I've crashed many times, but not in this particular way. Like I said, I was picking my way down this descent when I saw a line where there were no leaves so I shifted my weight in that direction and then looked further ahead for the next line I wanted to hit when all of a sudden I realize that my hands are where the handlebars should be, my feet are where the pedals should be, my eyes are still looking down the hill for where I want to go next but my bike has decided to stop. So I hovered about six feet down the hill before my left foot, then knee finally hit ground causing me to tumble onto my left shoulder. Other than a small scrape on my knee I had no damage but the front wheel on my bike unfortunately get wedged or jammed into a hole or rock or limb and got bent. Every rotation of the wheel resulted in a loud clacking noise as the brake calipers slammed into the left fork. Of course, I continued the race and finished even though I took another header on a subsequent similar descent. The second lap was better in that I didn't crash at all and was able to ride some of the hills that I had walked on the first lap even though I was getting dizzy watching the front brakes go back and forth, back and forth. There was one place on the trail where there was about a four foot climb up what seemed to be a rock face with a tree on the left until you got close and saw it was a bunch of big rocks with spaces in between just about a bike tire width. On the first lap some guys in front of me had stopped and walked it so I just joined the parade. On the second lap I was by myself, or so I thought. As I approached this spot I was trying to decide the best way to ride up it when I heard a shout behind me. I bailed left and stopped by the tree and watched Jeremiah Bishop bunny hop up and over. I guess if I were a pro I could do that too.

I don't know where I finished in my race. I do know that I let a whole bunch of guys by me after my wheel was bent. It definitely slowed me down. Hopefully next week at Blue Ridge School won't be as bad weather-wise.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

GamJams Reviews: The Wheels I Want - Mavic Kysriums et al

You may look at the title of this post and ask, "FD, didn't you tell us last week that you have Mavic Kysriums as your race wheels for your road bike." Can it be true? Could the wheels that I have be the wheels that I want? To avoid the long-winded answer I respond, yes. The wheels I have on my road bike are the wheels I want. That last sentence just sent me down memory lane by having a DEVO song ("Girl U Want" with Wheels substituted for Girl) running through, but alas, I am back to reality. I am totally happy with my Kysriums and I'm not spending four digits to remove one of my better excuses for why I get dropped in road races. Think about it. If I am in a race and I get dropped (which happens all the time) I can say, look what I'm riding. I'm racing on a Performance Forte with Mavic Kysriums. Wait a minute. I may have stumbled onto something here. Perhaps the former combined with any racing wheel would be an acceptable excuse. Whew!!! Caught myself straying from the company line there for a moment but I am back on track.

Now, on my TT bike I already have Zipp 303's (650's) and I am, honestly, quite happy with them. They are more wheel than I ever expected to have so there is no wheel bling envy with this bike at all. I even have a Synergy wheel as a backup rear wheel for this bike so I am set wheel-wise for this bike. Not even looking at anything else.

Ok, I have a confession. I have a documented case of wheel bling envy concerning my mountain bike. Twice I have had the Mavic Crossland MTB wheel set in my cart on Performance Bike only to remove it at checkout when I see how much they charge you for shipping. Yes, I know they are not that "bling-y" but I have a rule that I try to live by. It goes something like this. No component can cost more than you initially paid for the entire bike. So if I want to get some really nice wheels I must go out and buy a more expensive bike. ;-)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

GamJams Reviews: The Race Wheels I Have - Mavic Kysriums

I believe I have communicated to everyone that my bikes are almost completely blingless. Having said this, my road bike wheels are your standard Mavic Kysriums. I got them from Bill Browne within the last two years (they say the memory is the first thing to go) when he removed them from his new bike (I think he had some Zipp 404's- now those are bling!). The nice thing about my Kysriums is they are rock solid. They are heavier than any "bling" laden (read $$$) wheel so I feel comfortable riding them all the time. They have remained true for the entire time I have ridden them and I haven't had any issues at all.

My MTB has the wheels they sell at Performance for $19.99. I have been in the market for some nice wheels for racing for about a year but just can't get myself to make a decision or drop the coin. I believe for the $19.99 I spent the hubs are plastic, there are no bearings, the spokes are linguini and the rim recycled egg shells. Alright, I think they have the base Shimano hub, regular spokes, aluminum rims, and some kind of system that adds five pounds but they roll quite well for the cost . I really do want to upgrade and will at some point, hopefully soon. Yes, I will cringe as I ride over logs and other obstacles that could turn your wheel instantly into a taco but those are the risks one takes in MTB racing. I have my eyes on some Mavic wheels and since I have had such a good experience with their road wheels I will probably stick with them for my MTB race wheels.

My TT bike has Zipp 303's (650 mm). They came with the bike when I bought it used from an ex-teammate. They have too much bling for me. I can honestly say that riding on them is totally unfamiliar territory for me. I would be much more comfortable riding on wheels that you would see on the Flintstones. You know, the ones with a wooden axle and carved out of solid stone. I'll stick with the Zipp's for now. I will stick with them at least until I find some of those Flintstone wheels or some low cost wheels from Performance Bike. Although, some may consider the former and latter identical.