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Posts Tagged ‘ride journal’

Ride Journal: Big Hill: Hell Measured

Posted by bikezilla on February 20, 2012


Big Hill. Waterfall Glen.Darien Illinois. Hell on Earth.

My expert opinion? An educated and brilliant guess? 1000 ft of vertical pain covered in a mere .9 miles. Average elevation? Near f***ing infinity.

One lap. One time around. All would be known.

Rains had turned the trail into a misery of soggy squish.

Tires sinking inches into the sodden mire. My legs pumped and burned over 9.51 miles of strength-sapping goo, forcing me to the very limits of my  endurance and my sanity. Doubt invaded my soul like a Mind-Control-Ray-Wielding B movie alien.

Push dammit! Push! You sniveling little b***h! Push!

Suddenly my tires broke free of the slime and ooze. I flew! My tires barely making contact with the ground.

The speed! Oh, God, the speed! I could sniff the burning rubber of my tires as I ripped past the limitations of mere human locomotion!

Quickly I checked my trusty 305. I had to know! I had to KNOW!

10.3 MPH! Ten point . . .

Thus it was that I first learned how easily my godlike thews could exceed the satellite’s ability to track me. 10.3?

Yet, still I hoped. I hoped beyond hope, that this lowly device could somehow successfully measure the hideous satanic might of looming Big Hill.

My 305 did make a mockery of both my epic performance and of the hellish monstrosity that is Big Hill, quoting numbers unworthy of the true and overwhelming nature of my struggles against the beast.
146′ total ascent. 9′ total descent. Max grade 10%.

Wha?! No, that can’t  . . .

Clearly the scope and vastness of Big Hill, the fire-spewing hatred of its Olympian slopes, blew the circuitry of my 305, revving it beyond the boundaries of its engineering.
1:18? 7.3 MPH average?

Lies! The harpy lies! It taunts and it lies!

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Ride Journal: Snow

Posted by bikezilla on January 9, 2011


Actually, snow covered ice this time.

Today I took Jen (my skanky azz mountain bike (MTB)) back out to Waterfall Glen, the 9.75 mile trail that runs around Argonne in Darien.

I was hoping that, as the stupid, evil, lying weatherman predicted, there’d be a few inches of snow on the trail today. But no. I’d guess the actual cover was between half an inch and one inch.

But that was perfect for testing out my new back tire.

Before the ride I managed to ruin my favorite hydration pack, a 1.5 liter Bell that I’ve had for at least 4 years and truly loved.

To help me keep warm on my 1 1/2 hour long, 9.75 mile ride, I fill my hydration pack with hot water. This time it was apparently just a tad too warm, because the bladder seam softened and opened like it had been parted with a ninja sword.

Thankfully I had a backup Camelback 1 liter pack, and it held up perfectly, though I ran out of water at mile 8.

With my handy dandy heated hydration pack snuggled beneath my top two layers, and this time with my helmet squished onto my head over my thermowhatever winter cap, I was off on my merry jaunt through the woods.

Because of my previous triumph I was feeling quite cocky, so laughed at and taunted the trail: “Ha ha haaaaa, Trail! Once again you shall taste defeat at the mighty hands of Bikezilla! Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa!” said I.

Which brought only a silent and frightened trembling from the twice cowed trail, but managed to earn pitying stares and mocking snickers from fellow trail users.

The spottier stretches of ice had largely evaporated since my last ride, but much of the sheet ice was still intact, now covered with a shallow coating of snow.

In my search for a proper snow riding tire I wanted a tread pattern of deep, heavy, square lugs; something that would bite hard into snow cover and completely void of the compromising effects of a directional tread.

I actually found the perfect tread at, I think, Target for just $15 per tire. Unfortunately it was only available for 24″ rims and try as I may I could not stretch it to fit my 26″ wheels.

What I ended up with instead was a beautiful new Continental Gravity, with more angled, very slightly directional lugs, that are still just as deep as I’d wished to find.

But at $40 I could only afford one of them, so on the back wheel it goes until payday.

I avoided riding the shoulder, or even the clearest areas of trail, in order to be more sporting and give the trail a better chance to best me.

Plus I wanted to give my new back tire an honest test and see what it could handle. So I stayed within the flow of the sheet ice and focused on staying in the least traveled (and so least beaten down and cleared) areas of snow.

Only once did I involuntarily make snow angels again.

I was on a long heavy stretch of sheet ice, angling down hill and came into about a 75 degree curve a little faster than I should have. Then again, I’m not entirely sure I could have taken that curve upright even at a slower speed and with a studded tire (which is my next purchase, ridiculously expensive as it is at $80).

Stretch after stretch of snow covered sheet ice met defeat beneath my beautiful new tire. As each stretch was defeated, one by one, I could feel the trail hanging its miserable head still lower, beaten and ashamed once again.

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Ride Journal: Ouch

Posted by bikezilla on January 2, 2011


This “ouch” thing seems to be a common theme in Ride Journal. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!

After my snow ride I was pretty excited about another. But my legs were so beat up from that one that I needed a rest day, then there was work, then temps shot into the 50’s with a hard, ugly rain.

Leading us to today.

I had thought that the trail out at Argonne (Waterfall Glen) would be mostly clear due to run off and evaporation. As with most of my thinking, this notion went badly astray.

The drop from the 50’s to the 10’s over night must have come on pretty fast once it started. Because, there were areas of the trail completely covered in thick, uneven layers of ice. The rise of temperature back into the 20s did nothing to ease my passage through these ice fields.

For the first couple miles the ice was so patchy that it was no problem riding over it, though with my center-slick tires it was undoubtedly a stupid idea.

As stupidity tends to do, mine caught up with me.

My success with the patchy sections of ice emboldened me. So, when I came upon my first stretch of nearly unbroken ice, I didn’t even think about jumping on the rough, grassy, rutted shoulder.

I made the first 100 ft no prob. Then my tire slipped and I caught it easily. It slipped again. I caught it again. It slipped . . . WHAM!

That, my dear readers, is the sound of my head, helmetless because said helmet would not fit over my thermowhatever winter cap, bouncing off the ice like a tennis ball off a practice wall.

Thankfully, I didn’t land on my pretty face, because I think the bloody knot on the crown of my head is a lot more sexy azz than a mouthful of missing teeth would have been.

I’m not sure how it managed, but somehow that fookin’ trail slipped a hammer-wielding dwarf inside my skull before I managed to pick my wobbly azz up off the ground. That lil bastage spent most of the next 7 or so miles thumping an out of tune rhythm on the hinter parts of my brain.

I think he must have known when I was almost back to the car, because that was about when the thumping stopped and I can only assume he ran off through the woods like the chicken-hearted coward he is.

From about the 4 mile mark onward the trail was obviously conspiring against me. There was more trail covered in waves of sheet ice than not. Each stretch was longer and covered a wider section of the trail than the last, like a series of tests, or traps.

At first I escaped onto the uneven and partially snowy or icy shoulder. The shoulder became narrower, with steeper dropoffs, reducing from feet wide to just inches.

Finally, the shoulder disappeared and there was nothing but sheet ice side to side, stretched out for 100 yards, 200 yards and more in front of me, culverts and cliff-like dropoffs dominating the edges.

Even walking my bike I could hardly keep it from slipping and I have no idea how I managed to keep my own footing over the worst sections of ice.

I thought I heard the wind woofing past my ears. But, listening more closing, it was actually the mocking laughter of the trail, guffawing in time to the damnable dwarvin hammer blows inside my skull.

Around mile 8, just about the time the dwarf inside my skull made good his escape, the trail “eased”, showing me longer and wider stretches of bare trail, or where the trail was covered, again offering me the relative safety of the rough and gullied shoulder.

At about mile five I noticed the growing pain in my deeply chilled fingers and toes. The hot water I’d filled my hydration pack with helped to fight that off until now. But, the water, though protected by the outer layer of my clothing, no longer retained enough heat for its warming effects to be detectable.

With each mile the pain in my fingers and toes worsened, offering a sharp counterpoint to the dull, throbbing dwarven hammer blows in my head.

And then I was there, the final mile, the home stretch, and all pain seemed to float away. There was no suffering, only the victory that was now within reach, almost within site.

Warmth and joy flooded through me, vanguishing the Demon Trail, the steel fork of my bicycling driving through it’s greasy, black heart.

I entered the parking lot, battered and bloodied, but unbent and undefeated, a conquerer and a king.

Plus I have this really cool bump on my head I can tell people about.

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