Saturday, February 6, 2016

Just WOMBLEing along

We left NC in the rain and the rain followed us most of the way to Arkansas.  It was gray and gloomy, but the there was a break in the rain.  I took advantage of the day and rode the 27 miles the point to point of the WOMBLE trail, early November of 2015.  The WOMBLE is leaf covered this time of year and it is still humid, but cool enough, not to be oppressive.  The trail WOMBLE rolls along,, mostly, with the occasional steep climb, of short to moderate duration.  Mostly small rocks under the leaves, like big gravel, which made for a rough slower ride.  There were a few sections, though, of smooth and flowy trail too and a really cool knife edge ridge that looked down on the river and out across the valley to other mountains.
Plenty of roots and exposure, not the fall off a cliff kind,but in places it could be dozens of feet before a tree stops your fall. That really keeps you focused, there is some tech and switch backs as well.  Plenty of creek crossings, most of which were pretty dry, due to lower than normal rain fall this past October.  Even though it rained the 2 days prior to our arrival..

For the most part the trail is pretty easy to moderate, with it's moments of challenge, far and few between as were the roads, you really felt miles from anywhere!  The length does bring up the challenge aspect some and not being a loop means either a shuttle or out and back, which would double the length.

Note:  The phone app does not show the section north of the lake.  Cross the bridge and the trail is on the left, just after it.  I missed because I had to go from memory and there was construction on the bridge at the time.  The north section is just over the bridge on the left or west side of the bridge.

Trail blaze white and all the major road crossings have a big WOMBLE trail sign.  Until you get to mile marker 27, coming from the SW, that is.  I am not entirely sure that the section north of the lake is still part of the WOMBLE.   I think my Garmin shorted it about 2 miles, due to the twistyness of some sections of the trail.  I finally did find the trail head, but had already called my shuttle (Wife) and she was already on her way.  By the way thanks Tammy!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Power Meters have no place on a Mountain Bike!

"Why would anyone put a Power Meter on their Mountain Bike?"  Some might ask.

Whether you believe this or have been considering powering up your , here are the thoughts of a Mountain Biker that has trained and race with a power meter for years.

Did I loose you already?  If not let's get in to it.

I had trained and raced for years first using an HR monitor (mostly threshold, because that was where my HR stayed for most of the race!  Boy was this not the case!  I will explain later) and first used PMs in their stationary form (Computrainer) and switched to mobile PMs once they moved out of the upper stratosphere price wise.

I was convince about training with power, because I would come out of the off season on the Compoutrainer in great shape, but the threshold power I worked so hard for in the winter would slowly slip away as the season unfolded, as I could not get myself to hit the Computrainer in season, when I could do real riding.  I did not realize it at first, but I was slowly de-training over the course of the season.

Enter the portable on bike PM and you could accurately work your energy systems in the real world. At first I had one of the original Power Tap hubs on my mountain bike (I only had a MTB for some time).  This was prior to disc brakes and the bearings on the drive side were crap and the seals left a lot to be desired, especially for off road.  But is was a start and my experience grew from there.  Now there are other choices, while not inexpensive, are with the realm of possibility for many riders.  Pedal and crank systems are probably best suited for road bikes, as you can't entirely eliminate pedal strikes off road.  If you have a Mountain and road bike and can only afford one PM, it may make sense to get one for the road bike as it is usually easier to find suitable terrain to work the different energy system intervals and you don't have to change tires to put it on the trainer.

While I have PMs on my MTBs and race with them, it is not that popular yet and most riders are surprised when they see it.  Partly to due to the fact for those early terrible durability issues, weight and then no disc brakes.  Saris bought Power Tap and those issues began to be addressed.  First they completely redesigned the hub putting cartridge bearings in the freehub body and shaving some grams, then going wireless with ANT then ANT+ and eventually got a disc brake version with some upgrades to the electronics and shaving some more weight.  The road version became barely heavier than some performance racing hubs.  I still have one of the first wireless hubs on my road bike, that I use manly for training, although I did a few road races with it.  Having a bike with a smooth tire and a PM made the Computrainer redundant, if you have a decent indoor trainer.  I used a trainer mostly in the winter, when light was short or the roads were not suitable for the energy system I was training that day.  I have coached riders that would, on occasion, hit the trainer in the summer due to bad weather or scheduling issues.  Many find indoor trainers frightfully boring, but for efficient use of the time you spend on one, a PM will get your session over as quickly as possible, knowing that you accomplished your training goals for the day.

Now this fine and dandy, but "Why would anyone put a Power Meter on their Mountain Bike?"


If you only own a MTB and want to train with power.
Probably the most important reason is keeping track of your Training Load.
The folks at TrainingPeaks coined the phrase Training Stress Score or TSS.
Why should you care?  Wouldn't you like to know how much training is too much or how much is too little, allowing you find the Goldie Locks zone of your best performance?

The original low tech way to do this is to just multiply your Perceived Exertion times the duration of your workout.  This is better than nothing, but is very subjective and really does not take your bodies actual output into account.  But you can use a very simple spreadsheet or even just log it on paper

A step up is using heart rate instead of Perceived Exertion,  TRIMP is and example of this.  It is easiest to use HR Training software to accomplish the math.   The trouble is that HR is a response to the effort you put out.  Power is actually the measure of what you put out,  just like Horse Power ratings of a race car engine.  Just like strength training is measured by how many reps you do of a particular load (usually weight), PMs will show what you are able to do and if you are improving or just wasting your time!

The math gets even more complicated and unless you are a real math geek like me, you should use Power training software to track your TSS.  Even Stava has it's own version of training stress measurement, although different from TrainingPeaks.

Tracking your training load, can get tricky, but with a PM a simple test and some training software, such as TrainingPeaks (on line) or WKO+ (desktop) you can track your fitness and your freshness and with WKO+ you can see you where your peak efforts are in relation to your training load.

Now fitness most people understand, but if you are tired from to much training you are will not be fresh when you want to be, that big race, event or that MTB trip to Sedona!  Then add to that you can see your 10 top intervals in any duration that you want to monitor, to help you know when you are fit, peaking and the training loads and tapers that got you there.

In conclusion, a Power Meter will help you build your engine by targeting the energy pathway, read interval lengths that work best for your discipline, but most importantly, accurately track your training load!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Daniel Ridge/Cove Creek

In last few weeks, I found two of my favorite rides in Pisgah, near Brevard NC and mad it to Bent Creek near Ashville.  Here is the one.

If you want a pretty technical climb and a boat load of single track on the flip side, I think I've got it for ya!

The Daniel Ridge/Cove Creek combination is pretty killer.  You can park at the Fish hatchery on 475 off of 276 north of town of Pisgah Forest, which is next door to Brevard. NC.  Ride out of the the Hatchery and turn left on 475 and in a few the Davidson River trail will keep you off the road and get you a taste of easy single track to get you warmed up for the 1500 feet of climbing to come.  Take a left back on 475, just before it turns to gravel for a short while before the Daniel Ridge Parking lot.  Cross the Bridge and stay left when Daniel ridge splits.  You will gain some elevation as this trail slants gradually upwards, with just a few tricky spots.  That is, until it turns abruptly right and up, where the bridge use to cross the creek.  This is where the fun begins.  Very technical and some hike a bike will be required my most folks, enjoy the cascading creek to your left when forced off your bike or taking a break.  Continue right where Farlow gap comes in from the get to descend a bit as the trail rolls, instead of going straight up, like before.  But it is still plenty technical.  Watch for a trail that comes in from the left after a period where the trail levels off before the descent of Danile ridge starts.  That left will take you to Cove Creek rd, take a right there.  This rolling mostly DH single track becomes a Forest Service rd.  Watch for the Cove Creek Trail head to come up on the right.  While manly DH, it does roll up and down on it's way back down to 475.  Fast and flowy, with banked turns and new bridges (as of this writing) as well as some gravel filled mud holes, that rode nicer that the hike over them the day before suggested.  A few techy parts and off camber roots here and there that can get sketchy at speed.  Shorty after the fastest section you will see the camp ground on the left.   Turn left after you cross the creek, there is a sign but you come up on it quick, just when you have to navigate over a few log steps, up out of the creek.  Take a right on the FS road.  The creek crossing can be deep, so take the bridge to the left, just as you see the creek.  Take a left on 475, and take the Davidson River trail back the way you  came in to 475 back to the Hatchery.

1500 feet of climbing and less than 14 miles and 2 hours (for me).

I kind of gave up looking for that perfect 3ish hour ride, in this part of Pisgah.  Anytime I tried, ended up being 5 or better hours, with either way to much gravel or some ridiculous hike a bike or death march.  I like nibbling on Pisgah, cause when ever I try to take a mouthful, I always end up


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pisgah Kicked My @$$ Again

Turkey Pen Gap was was much better in the DH direction.  See WTF I Need a Beer or 4 for details!  There still was plenty of hike a bike up Black Mounrtain from Claw Hammer Road.  Some on TPG itself and Cantrell (Can't Tell If if is a creak or a trail) Creak had a fair amount of Hike a bike as well, particularly with the 34X19t.  Funny it did not seem so steep on the way down, just the other day.  Squirrel Gap was pretty fun, but I was shot by then, but could still turn over that big gear, more like a slog.  Even the gradual South Mills River and Buck horn trails back to Claw hammer would probably have been more pleasant on a lower gear, though.  Broke a chain early and stopped to borrow a tube and pump to a guy from Indiana that left his in the car.  "Don't leave home with out your gear" goes double for Pisgah.  I carry two tubes a big air, a pump, plugs and boot material, chain links, tool w/chain breaker, Leatherman, Hanger fixer for when I have gears etc. 

Overlook on The Black Mountain trail

Waterfalls on the South Mills River trail

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Roth Rock Ride Epic State College PA

This is a long lost post. We were just getting moving, for real this time.  We had no internet or cell reception for a hot spot at Greenwood Furnace Campground. Then my PC went out. So it got lost in the shuffle.  But with this years TRANS-SYLVANIA MOUNTAIN BIKE EPIC looming I thought I would drop it.

Even though ROCK is in the name, I thought North Jersey has the rockiest trails that I have ridden so far. I reached out to a local, cause the guy at the shop hurt his back last fall after hitting it too hard on his brand new fat bike. Wider Q factor and chasing around youngsters, he said.

So I show up a little early and and get a warm up in with the president of the local club. I guess Tuesday is the day regardless if the official shop ride is on or not. Most thing are up from the Tussey trail head. Ironically there was enough cell signal for my wife to work a the trailhead while I rode.

I headed back to the trailhead for the arranged time. I was happy to see four single speeds coming off of cars.

Plenty of climbing, be it on fireroad or single track, most of which could be considered a rock garden.  Kinda like Wawayanda on the New Jersey's north border with New York, just with more up!  The landscape has some spectacular groups of rock outcroppings to navigate

Sunday, May 10, 2015

WTF I need a Beer or 4

About half way through, what was supposed to be a 28 mile ride, I figured, if the climbing the stats of 5700 ft, were correct on the file for the route I was taking, that I would be paying for it all on Turkey Pen Gap (TPG).  As I approached mile 22,  those feelings grew.  Then that first look up the stairs should have had me and my 34X19 gearing, scurrying to the road back to the car.  2500 feet in 6 miles is just silly.  The file I had said 28 miles.  I had a little out and back here and there, plus the 3 miles on Squirrel Gap and Cantrell (cant tell if it is a creek or a trail) .  To top that off TPG was so steep, even with the speed coming off the rear wheel, the Garmin read 0.0 MPH and did not gain 1/100th of a mile during the walking sections, which was most of TPG.  The garmin got 33 miles,compared to the 40 from the phone.  Felt like 40.  The file I followed was probably made with a Garmin using GPS for speed and distance, which under states, while the phone app usually overstates, particularly the more you stop or go painfully slow.  So it is probably some where between 33 and 40 miles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cohutta the 2nd Half

See the first half here. On the subsequent climb a woman came by.  Most of the girls were gearies, with that and long endurance event being the great equalizer between the sexes, I have humbly accepted the occasional pass by the fairer sex.  Not this girl, she left her gear bike at home because of the muddy conditions.  She ultimately got 6th among the women.  When Bonsby came by a little later he said he has seen her race before and she was a force to be reckoned with.  I dropped her on the next descent only for her to dance away up one of the succeeding climbs.  She seem to climb about twice as fast as me,  a feat I could not match on the DHs.

Now back to the numbers game.  I was still averaging about 10.5 mph at this time.  My metric century was done in 5:44.  Thing were still looking up.  But that damn rest stop #5 would just not materialize.  Mike came up just before the crest of a hill, we both lamented over the 35 miles between rest stops, he was out of H2O.  I told the full suspension riding Bonsby that I would follow him on my rigid bike for the descent.  He said he was not going to go to fast and let me pass.  The fire road turned up again and some time had passed, as well as a few other rider and I started to worry about Mike.  Hoping that he did not crash or flat.  But shortly before the climb out to rest stop #5/4 he passed me.  I had another fast pit and left as Mike was getting his camel back filled, only for him to pass me on, what I call the bonus climb.

My average speed from 62 to 77 miles had started to drop.  There were several riders walking up the bonus climb, I think they were stragglers from the 65 mile Big Frog version of the race.  At least I was going faster than walking pace!

Finally back back at rest stop #3/6.  A volunteer asked how I was liking the single speed now.  I felt a slow grin come across my muddy face and sad the bike hadn't given up yet, but my body may have.

The final climb.  It would end just over the next rise or around the next bend, but it seemed like it never did.  A short false flat or small dip and I was sure it was down hill from there.  After all Mike said the the last Single track was all down hill too, Great I thought.  But first I had to climb the same hill we first came down on the fire road.  Blue sky, That is a good sign we are near the top right?,  Not! The road would turn and keep on climbing.  We had to dodge the occasional car on these narrow gravel road from time to time, as well.

Just when I just about had it,  A bearded single speeder with a full hip pack passes me on what was really the top of the Fire road.  I caught him back on the descent, but confused the entry into the single track, which turn immediately up, not down and he was on my wheel, so I let him pass. I headed into the Quarry loop as Bosnby headed out.  I was dead tired and parts of the quarry did not care.  As for the rest of the single track, I am sure it would have been great fun an hour or two earlier, but now it was anything but the DH single track I was hoping for!  A girl on gears passed me on a particularly SS unfriendly stretch.  I thought she was gone until the hard left hander, that pointed up a moderate to steep climb with rooty technical bits.  She was walking about a couple hundred yard up.  I asked how she liked the DH single track, she replied that she did not have anything left in the tank.  I was walking before I got to her and pulled off as a guy on gears  was coming up.  He saw why I got off and got off as well.  He said "after you", so I remounted after the big root that I was too tired to to attempt and was on my way past the girl, with the guy in tow.  He and I replayed that same scenario a few times, before a definitely pro gearie section came up, where I stepped off to let him do that gearie thing they do.  This Single track may have been loosing elevation, but it was not giving it up with out a fight at every turn, literally.  When it finally did pint down, it was like, "Wait What, that was it?!" and we were out at the power station, not the finish line like TK and I had thought.  Nothing left and nothing left to do but pedal the very slight grade on the pavement back to the start finish area.  Pedal I did, painfully slowly.  I have never really needed a cheering section to motivate me, but here on this plain old, nearly flat stretch of pavement, going about 7.5 miles an hour, through the parking lot, I soaked up every cheer and clap and good job that came my way.

I ended up 15th out of 21 single speeders that signed up, but was the 2nd to last that finished on this day, at ten hours and thirty eight minutes.  I would have been 13th out of 34, with only 21 finishers.

As slow as this was, just two weeks prior to the event, I would have happy with 11 hours, and consider it an improvement over the eleven hours and nineteen minutes that the Tatanka 100 took me, with similar elevation gain, but a completely different profile.

I was happy with my start and the first 20 miles of single track and even the early fire road climbing and I was super happy with my fire road descending through out.  I was good until about 10% over my training duration and miles and I finished and got that mug.  Over the last 10 miles I was thinking I got to finish to get that mug!

TK had to take this Picture quickly before I fell over!

Recovery ride with Tom

Lunch the day after....
We Crown thee the Hundred Miler