Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sharing my Tour Divide with Bears and Lions

There has been some lively discussion on (starting on pg 5, )about bear spray.

Naturally I chipped in with my 2 cents about mounting your spray on the bike so you could access, arm and shoot your spray before coming to a stop.  Ha-but it was brought up what if you were knocked off your bike before you grabbed your spray?  Well if a bear knocks you off your bike it would probably be too late to use your spray, but if you have it on 'you' at least you ‘might’ get a chance.

And I should have thought of this myself as the one time I used my SPOT to call in SAR the darn thing was still attached to my bike, 15 rocky yards above me, while I franticly dealt with a 8 inch bone deep gash. 

And my one heart stopping mountain bike ‘close encounter’ with a scared momma bear took place at less than 20 yards.  She had heard me coming down the trail at a high rate of speed--and had tried to scoot up a tree, just  like her cub had, but fell from about 15 feet on her butt-- and was then scared, embarrassed and pissed—all at me, gulp!!

Well I survived both situations but it got me to thinking.  (And unlike some fellow TDR racers I believe in being efficient rather than stylish, blasé, trendy or whatever)  So my thinking got me to order one of these to be tested and played with.

It’s a light weight running vest that looks prefect to carry bear spray in a secure yet quick draw location.  Also I plan to load it up with ID, money, toilet paper, phone, chap stick, sun screen etc. etc.  In the back I can occasionally add some extra water or food as needed.   Basically in addition to a bear emergency and extra/occasional carriage space, I want to have handy all the little things that one uses over and over and many times misplaces or forgets on the bike and have to walk back to retrieve.
Yes yes, I could have just used/modified one of my many backpacks but this one looks so trendy and cool…and as you know I try so hard to always be in vogue.....
Ha-and for sneaky mtn lions who like to attack from the rear-- I will just tape two of these eyes to the back of my helmet.

In all seriousness I do carry and regularly use a whistle, avoidance really is best.  But wild animals could care less what one's philosophical quasi-religion outdoor experience leanings are.  Just because one seeks to avoid an encounter is irrelevant to an animal.  Hopefully I will never need to use bear spray but if I am going to lug it around I will try to do so in the most efficient manner possible.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Backyard and some other drifiting

I live in the foothills next to the mountains.  My home is 8300 feet in elevation, but here it’s more dry than snow much of the winter. My local, out the front door, riding areas consist of 4x4 roads, doubletrack, ATV track, singletrack, no track, bike paths, gravel and rarely a bit of pave.

My personal temperature cutoff is 40 deg F.  Above 40 I am always up for a ride, below 40 and it’s a big maybe.  IE: below 40 deg and I have to break out true winter clothing.  But anything at or above 40 and I can just add knee or leg warmers, arm warmers or a long sleeve jersey and carry in my pockets a thin balaclava, wind breaker and maybe shoe covers.  So during daylight I can ride almost year round with very minor accommodations.  I like riding at night but in the winter I rarely do, rather I go to the fitness center and spin for an hour.   
I think I might do a winter overnight'er here, cant you just picture the fire and reflected heat?
So in my backyard it would be pretty easy to get in some extended/focused training.  If I actually had a 9-5 job, but as I spend about 100+ nights per year in hotel rooms there is nothing focused about my training.  A main training stable is to pretend to train on beat up, ½ broke hotel exercise bikes.  Ha, but I am not going to let that stop me from hitting my body weight target for 2015 TDR!

And speaking of weight my bike is 33lbs (as shown) with my old bags, most of my old gear and suspension fork.  I can now see my 30 pound bike target is going to happen (give or take 1 pound).

Saddle Testing:
I have spent about 9 hours and 3 rides so far on the new Spiderflex. To soon to make a definitive decision but to summarize my three test rides:

Ride 1) 2 hrs, Stop and adjust, stop and adjust over and over.  No comfort, no power, as awkward as could be.

Ride 2) 3 hrs, Adjust 1 time, Some comfort some power in certain gears/grades, aero bars, one hand riding to eat and drink all very awkward. Very sore in new places, like one’s 1st ride.  Side bar—Ha, I was trashed talked by a 77 year old—he laughed at how slow I was going.  We chatted for a bit, he rides 12 mile loops around town, had a new hip put in 2 years ago—I told him I hope to be a fit as he is when I hit 77.  He said to never stop and I will be.

Ride 3) 4 hrs, Adjust 1 time, Starting to feel like I might be getting the hang of this saddle.  Today I rode and rode hard and fast.  Adjusted a cleat position which I was not willing to do till I saw some overall progress.  Some things I really liked (aero position fell into a happy place big time), some not so much, but a bit more yay than nay today.  And I am even more sore, but over all I am encouraged, at least enough to want to continue testing.  More when I get back from overseas.
Yah we have rednecks in my backyard. ( I do not drink, but if I did this Fireball Whisky has just got to be the cure for a sore bum?)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sometimes life’s a beach (or at least some tide pools)

Got in some sun & fun down in San Diego with family.  And got word today that my vacation will be approved, so barring unexpected work or personal issues I am in for 2015.

The other day I stumbled across Scott’s review of his Spiderflex saddle.
Scott mentioned that Kurt Sandiforth used one for his Triple Crown (Kurt is the TC record holder bty) rides.

My interest was perked so I ordered one for trial.  Went for my 1st ride today, spent a lot of time fine tuning its position. 
To be honest I have no clue how to really set it up properly.  It’s really different.  Anyway I will do some rides/hours before I comment yea or nay.  

Also got a new $80 ebay carbon handlebar that has just enough mounting real estate for my $14 ebay aero bars but still offers rise. 
Perfect fit for aero bars, ideal overall width & rise—ding ding I seem to have an ebay winner!! 
Also ordered up a $90 carbon fork.  Waiting for a spare race crown and then testing will commence on it. 
Sort of scary testing an off brand but I suspect it’s the same manufacture as the $400 ones.

All in all, my TDR bike is coming along quite nicely.  I will keep chipping away at it over the winter, testing this and that item, GPS mount, bear spray storage location, cable routing etc etc.  But the only major items left are a set of light weight bags.  I will most likely go custom front to back as I have some specific ideas that I want to incorporate for my small daily items, tools, electronics and water bladder etc.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

22.8 as shown
I have been slowly piecing together my 2015 TDR ride. Almost done with a few parts yet on order, carbon fork, bars and tires being the main items.  Current weight (as shown with suspension fork and aero bars) is 22.8lbs.  Projected/final weight of bike (minus bags, lights etc) will be right at 20lbs, +/- a few oz’s.

Saved a little weight with some road SPD pedals.  I can see where I might miss the double side ease of clipping in here and there but considering the non-technical nature of the TDR route they should be fine. Plus all the contact area will help minimize hot spots on the ol feet.

Anyway just counting the unencumbered bike, in 2015 looks like I can be running 4 lbs less than 2010, .  My goal is to have total weight (minus food/water and daily clothing) at or just under 30lbs. 

So with a bike that weighs in at 20lbs I will have 10lbs for everything else.

But now I have a minor dilemma.  I have been running the Fox fork, and well I don’t want to give it up.  It has been so fun to bomb down some modest rocky sections, flow over the small drops etc etc.  Not that I am going to be doing much if any of that in the TDR.  On the other hand there is a lot of high speed descending where 100mm would speed things up.   And also there are some sections, like Lima to Red Mountain Pass, that literally beat beat beat you to death. 

Ah, so do I go full rigid or lug around 2 additional lbs but luxuriate in 100mm of squishy goodness?


I have some other “Should I or Shouldn’t I” questions.  The biggest so far is South Bound or North Bound.  Some days I am all set to do a NB attempt, but then I truly question if I wouldn’t be more motivated chasing the pack with a SB run.  Really got to think about this one………………..lots and lots of thinking on this one....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weight Control Program



I have always put on to much weight thru the winter.  Other than securing vacation authorization the most important factor to my 2015 TDR attempt is to NOT gain excess weight this winter. 
The following photo dump shows how I have been fighting back. 
Still waiting for the ‘real’ snow to show up, in the mean time I have been crunching my share of fallen aspen leaves as often and in as many locations as I can..