That bit about digging into the ice to turn tighter and faster reminded me of a conversation I had with Aaron after his enduro clinic last weekend. He mentioned that the instructor is able to audibly rip though his turns on flat ground, dirt or pavement. I asked something to the effect of, “What do you push against? There’s no berm,” to which Aaron replied, “He said, ‘You make your own berm.’”
I would like to know the mountain bike equivalent of the one legged outside edge drill so I can do it over and over and over. Because “make your own berm” is the best phrase ever.
Alternate titles because I’m lazy about writing separate, timely, fully titled posts:
- Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival 2013
- Sugar Showdown!
- Pump Track Pandemonium 2013 (see Pump Track Pandemonium from last year)
- DJ Bike Review! (see DJ Bike Build Part 2)
I guess I should go in chronological order. Hey guess what? That DJ bike I won last April and finished building in October? It rocks!
While it’s prettier than the Malice, I initially wasn’t sure if it handled better. After this weekend, I can safely say that I am totally comfortable with this bike. Time to clean up the Malice and sell it to someone with more time to love love love it than I do.
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Next on the list, Kat Sweet’s Sugar Showdown skills class! I took a pump track clinic with her and Tammy Donahugh at last year’s SCMBF, and was thrilled to see a jump clinic offering this year.
Good news: I remembered to bring my pads! Bad news: I should have brought my shinguards instead of kneepads. While practicing rear wheel lifts, my left foot came up off my super awesome spikey pedal and my shin came sliding down against it. It immediately resulted in a puncture, two scrapes, and a deep gash right in the middle of my shin. It split open and looked like raw meat with a couple white globules oozing out of it. WTH?! I’m told the white stuff is fat. o_O
Coach Lisa did a great job helping me clean and bandage it up right away. I continued with the clinic and went to the first aid tent during our lunch break. They asked each other for gauze that no one seemed to have, then for butterfly closures that no one had either. Finally, they decided to slather some antibiotic ointment into the gash, squish it shut, and put a giant bandage over it, followed by a big piece of tape for good measure.
Ate lunch, continued the clinic. Despite oozing once I started jumping in the afternoon, it felt fine.
Ran into the Cebedos after the clinic. The first thing Cherubin did upon seeing my leg was take a picture. LOL!
Since I was lazy and allowed 4 days to pass before writing about it, I can now tell you that pedal bite sucks, not because having your leg sliced open hurts, but because the contusion from impact feels like freaking skate bite when you try to play hockey.
That said, it’s amusing listening to me walk. I can’t lift my left foot with my shin so when I walk I go, “thump, step, thump, step, thump…” I sound like a peg legged pirate. Arrr!!
Enough about my shin, more about the clinic! I got a nice refresher on berms, which I should document here.
(1) Enter high, exit low.
(2) Pump through the turn. Pusssh!
(3) Bike perpendicular to the berm.
(4) Pedals level. No need to drop the outside pedal.
I got to work on jumping too. I’ve been relying on speed to clear jumps, and while this works some of the time, it doesn’t work when the conditions don’t allow for super crazy fast. Plus, it’s like magic when I see people launch their bikes at low to moderate speed. What are they doing that I’m not?
After many repetitions on both the pump track jump line and the beginner area of the Post Office jumps, I managed to clear some tabletops slowly and smoothly. I can’t yet describe exactly how or why, but I now know what it’s supposed to feel like. I look forward to building on that “feeling”.
Briefly, I do NOT want to:
(1) Rely solely on speed for my jumps.
(2) Try to lift my bike by bending my legs / compressing my body.
To illustrate, I do not want to do what I did here last June:
Sure, it looks smooth, but I should be able to jump with more height and a less compressed form.
Documentation is everything. Here’s an attempt at putting that “feeling” into words.
(1) Don’t pull up with my body straight over the bars. Maybe think about pulling back.
(2) Claw the pedals to pull the bike with you instead of bending your knees to let it rise under you.
(3) The end result is a more upright jump… hopefully with more air and distance.
I did some jumps tonight at Arastradero on my Mojo. It’s hard to compare jumping with full suspension + clipless pedals vs. DJ frame + flat pedals. Felt like I got a lot of air without too much speed, but I think it’s all in my head.
Bottom line is I need to spend more time at pump tracks and jump parks with my DJ bike!
- – -
All right, on to the pump track competition!
Having not ridden much all winter, I wasn’t originally going to compete. But then I looked at the schedule and figured I might as well race if I was going to be there anyway for the clinic. We had a field of 6 competitors, a nice group of spectators, and the same crowd-pleasing announcer as last year.
Mr. Announcer man introduced me as the defending champion from last year. Hello, pressure!
The format this year was a little different: 2 runs of 2 laps each for each of the 6 competitors, after which the top 3 riders each get another 2 lap run to try to lower their time.
The race unfolded in nailbiting fashion. After the first 2 rounds, less than a second separated the top 3 riders. I went into the final round with a 187 millisecond lead. When the #3 rider did her final run, she dropped her time to the fastest of the day. Then #2 went, and she lowered (raised?) the bar by another half second+. Where was I going to find 600 milliseconds in a 27 second race? My turn. I had one shot to win it. I dropped in, pump, pump, pump some more. Berm coming up. Enter high, push through the turn, stay neutral so I can soak up the face of roller at the exit (thank you Sugar Showdown coaches!). S berms approaching, enter high / exit low!, push!!!, crap! too slow, pump!, pedal through the final berm. Pedal, pedal, lap 2! Do it all over again.
I really thought I’d put in a slow and sloppy run. I thought I had come in 3rd. Mr. Announcer got on the mic.
“3rd place…” not me.
“2nd place…” not me again.
It turns out I’d managed to drop 732 milliseconds from my time. I really don’t know where that came from. Adrenaline, perhaps.
Lots of photographers were on hand to capture the action this weekend. That gives me action shots to analyze. Here’s a shot of me riding the first berm on the final lap of my final run, courtesy of San Jose Mountain Biking:
My body position isn’t too terrible; I’m leaned with the berm, centered over the bike, not too stiff, and not too low.
But I still have a couple really basic things I need to do better:
(1) Look farther through the turn.
(2) Cowboy legs.
Just did my first mountain bike ride in almost 11 weeks. I am way out of riding shape and can’t climb to save my life, but I can descend just fine, and even set a couple PRs. I guess you really don’t forget how to ride a bike.
- 13 months of clearing and reclearing my schedule to make every race.
- Missing 1 race because it got rescheduled to a travel tournament weekend.
- Losing 2 races’ worth of Cat 2 points because I started in Cat 3.
- Breaking my collarbone, yet miraculously missing 0 races.
I managed to accumulate enough points to win the Women’s Cat 2 CCCX Super D 2011-2012 Series on Sunday.
I started this season with a single goal: To win the series in my category. It’s been a long journey. I’ve learned a lot, met a bunch of new people, repeatedly rearranged my calendar to accomodate schedule changes and additions, and watched the schedule rearrange itself a few times to magically work around my broken collarbone and tournament schedule.
For these last 13 months of effort, I will receive a series winner jersey. This jersey doesn’t say, “I’m fast,” or “I can ride down a hill faster than anyone else in Cat 2.” Cat 2 isn’t particularly fast, nor am I fast right now.
What this jersey says is, “I’m persistent,” and also, “I will walk my bike down the hill with one arm if that’s what it takes to achieve my goal.” (I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.)
Now, to think about next season. What are my goals? I’ve lost some ground, I’ll likely lose a few months to have my collarbone plate taken out, I need to schedule some clinics, I have yet to test my nerves on big stuff. There’s a lot I want to learn and a lot of factors to consider.
A little voice in my head says I should just enjoy my victory and not worry about next season yet. Screw you, voice.
I’m back! I’m back I’m back I’m back! I don’t care if I’m a few seconds slower now than I was in March. I am so freaking happy to be back on the bike! See:
That big smile is actually for photographer Rick Rasmussen. I always try to say hello if I see him on my practice run and have enough brain cycles to process who it is, say hi, and not crash. But that picture is a pretty accurate reflection of how I feel about racing again.
Heck, it’s a pretty accurate reflection of how I feel about riding again, skating again, driving again, working again, being able to lift my arm again, sleeping on my right side again, brushing my teeth with my right hand again…
Almost four weekends ago, we had my bike mostly assembled. I’ve been bad about documenting things and thus have lost timeline, but this is what has happened since:
1. The axle adapters arrived. They fit great… except the freehub wouldn’t spin when the axle was tightened.
2. I got super busy with work and moving stuff and didn’t do anything for a week and a half.
3. I finally contacted Stan’s about the freehub issue.
4. Aaron helped me remove the freehub to see what was going on in there.
5. Contacted Stan’s again and they sent me a 0.2mm washer to add to the internal spacer.
6. Installed the washer last night and the freehub spins now.
7. Cut the steerer tube.
8. My trusted bike advisor made an attempt at installing the star nut, which resulted in a bent headset bolt.
9. The next morning I had the star nut pressed in at the bike shop and bought a new headset bolt.
10. Finally reassembled and readjusted everything.
DONE. No exclamation point. I’m glad I know how things fit together now, and while I like being able to work on my own bikes, I don’t particularly enjoy the process. Too many moments of frustration when things don’t fit, won’t go in, or won’t come off.
Rode at Saratoga Gap. I like this park because it’s a fun flowy ride with some rocks and roots and a few water bars to air.
KLN 1: Yay twisty roads to the park!
KLN 2: Yay flowy trails!
KLN 3: Aired them water bars good.
KLN 4: I rode almost as fast as I ever have. Missed my own full ride QOM by 6 seconds.
KLN 5: Got hit on by some mountain biker guy in the parking lot.
KLN 6: Yay twisty roads home!
Feeling great pedaling, mashing, turning, baby jumping, dropping, descending. Did not feel brave riding up challenging obstacles, but that may have been because I was tired from pushing hard on the pedals. Good thing my race next weekend is riding down stuff.
Speaking of next weekend’s race, starting tomorrow I need to get out there on the Enduro. Gotta get used to the “big” bike again.
I must have been feeling super duper glowingly happy about being able to do that again, because I gave every trail user I encountered a big smile, and for the first time ever, every last one of them smiled or waved back.
I was a bit sore from my exercises Monday so I took a day off Tuesday. I did make sure to run through all my ROM motions, though.
With the sun going down early now there’s not much of a chance to ride after work. The solution? Ride before work! I got up early this morning for a bright and early spin at Arastradero. I felt good on the bike. No shoulder discomfort, and I was able to push and pull on the handlebars as I mashed uphill. Tossing the bike side to side to turn at speed was no problem either.
I may or may not have jumped the baby jump in the little bowl… a few times.
Everything may or may not have felt a-okay… awesome, even.
Someone asked after my accident if I would continue jumping my bike. My answer was yes, and I believed it 95%. In the back of my mind, however, I knew the answer wouldn’t come until I attempted to jump again. On today’s ride, I arrived at the big bowl first. I rolled it once to make sure the terrain was in good condition, then rolled in with speed so I could catch some air off the lip. Except I didn’t. My body just said nope, you’re rolling this one. Understandable, since you need to be going pretty darned fast to air off that round lip.
When I got to the little bowl, I started with the roll in. It felt like nothing. All right, then, let’s do the baby jump, which doesn’t require a ton of speed. Pedaled, hit the jump, landed it perfectly. Pedaled a little harder, hit the jump, landed it perfectly. Pedaled one more time, harder still, hit the jump, landed it perfectly. Huge psychological relief.
- – -
My bedroom door is terrible for doing my PT exercises. Due in part to the fact that I’m pulling a lot more with my green band row pulls, the door flexed just enough to open mid-pull, which resulted in the knot that was holding the band in place being shot with the force of my pull squarely into my sternum. It left a big red mark. I suppose it could have been worse. It would have sucked way more to have been hit in the head. Or a boob. OW.
Today’s PT exercise:
- 20 horizontal arm small forward circles
- 20 horizontal arm small backward circles
- 13 or so green band row pulls – stopped after it attacked me
- 20 yellow band rotator cuff pull out
- 20 yellow band rotator cuff pull in
- 20 5 lb dumbbell chest presses
- 20 5 lb dumbbell chest flys
- 20 9 lb dumbbell biceps curls
- 20 5 lb dumbbell triceps extensions
- 20 4 lb dumbbell shoulder flys – to the top every 5 reps, up from 2.5 lbs
- 20 4 lb dumbbell shoulder forward raises – to the top every 5 reps, up from 2.5 lbs
- 10+10 4 lb dumbbell military presses – new!
- 10 knee pushups – up from 5 last time
- 1 minute plank
I want to do side planks but I’m not sure if I want to exert that much force on my collarbone yet. I’m starting to do downward dogs again, though. The shoulder doesn’t mind too much, and the backs of my legs love it. Love love love it.