Amy had a great time at the skills clinic this weekend. She was beaming when I met her afterward. She loved Anne and Sunny and told me many stories about her day.
I also had a good time riding my bike while Amy was at her clinic. I rode over from Gainesville College to Chicopee. Then rode all of the trails at Chicopee twice. It was a fun relaxing day.
Sunday I went for a run. When I got home Amy and I practiced the drills she learned at her clinic. She seemed to enjoy yelling orders at me the most. I kinda liked it to be honest. I hope we can do the drills again soon.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Amy had a great time at the skills clinic this weekend. She was beaming when I met her afterward. She loved Anne and Sunny and told me many stories about her day.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:41 PM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A while ago I had an idea to start a company called NoMoreSaddleSores.com. My plan was to rent people saddles until they found one they liked. This probably seems like a silly idea to most folks. However if you are one of the unlucky people like me who gets saddle sores from riding your bike, then this service might not seem so silly to you.
I have tried lots of different saddles, but I have never ridden one that felt like it really fits me. It is very hard to look at a picture of saddle and know if it is going to be comfortable. So the best you can do is take a guess then give YourBikePartStore.com your credit card and hope for the best.
Saddles start at $100 and many go up from there. If you guess wrong more than once or twice then you just wasted a good bit of money.
Apparently Competitive Cyclist came to the same conclusions that I did and started their own saddle demo program. Amy (having heard my crazy NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea many times) decided to surprise me on my birthday with a week rental of mountain bike saddles.
On the day the saddles came I took them all out of the box and rode them on my spin bike.
Here are my initial impressions
Fizik Gobi - This saddle is close to the right width for me. The roundness of the saddle feels a little weird though. Plus there is very little padding. The saddle seems to flex some though.
Fizik Aliante - Feels very similar to the Gobi except that the top is flat instead of round. Not as slippery as the Gobi either. Has these little Y's cut into the top to add friction. Both saddles are extremely well constructed with no seams.
Intense Sacred - Very thin. Can flex it with my pinky. Feels like it would break on the first ride. Extremely uncomfortable when riding it. Amy laughed and made fun of this one.
Maxm Ti Rail - Feels very similar to my Terry Ti Fly. Maybe a touch wider. Top of the saddle is smoother and slicker then my Terry as well. Has plush foam padding on top.
Selle Italia Yutak - Extremely weird to the touch. Feels like Styrofoam or stuff they use to make art sculptures. Shape is weird too. I threw it back in the box quickly.
Selle Italia Flite - I have tried one of these before. It is too narrow for me.
WTB Rocket - This one was too narrow for me. The shape is unique though. Has a deeper dip in the middle of the saddle.
WTB Devo - This one is very flat and very hard and very thin. It doesn't flex much. I wanted to like this one, but I am not man enough.
WTB Laser - This one might actually be too wide for even me. I could not tell if it was too wide or just not the right shape for me. It felt kinda like when you go camping and forget your pillow and try to fashion a pillow out of your jacket or something. It is kind of lumpy and disjointed. It also has a large number of seams on the top. The stitching was already coming undone on the one shipped to me. I threw it back in the box and moved on.
A couple of days later I took the two Fizik saddles and the Maxm saddle to demo on the trail at Big Creek.
First I rode a lap on my Terry Ti Fly. I had ridden a really tough ride two days before. I chased a bunch of people around that are way faster and more skilled than me for about three hours. Plus the trail was very rocky and steep. The next day I rode for 5 hours at my own pace on a much smoother trail. The combined effect of those two rides left me a little sore in my saddle area so I wanted to make sure I had a good frame of reference before I rode any of the new saddles.
After I riding my Terry, I rode the Gobi. My first impression was wow this is kinda hard. It didn't really hurt, but it didn't have the familiar inch of foam padding that my Terry does. As I rode it more though I didn't really miss the padding. The saddle seemed to get more comfortable the longer I rode. I think the foam compresses on my Terry after awhile and doesn't really do much good. Instead of using foam, this saddle seemed like it was designed to flex a little while you ride it to increase comfort. I came away at the end of the lap feeling like I liked the Gobi better than my Terry.
Next I rode the Aliante. This saddle felt very similar to the Gobi. The big difference I noticed was that end of the saddle was flared more than the Gobi. As I ride I tend to push my butt backwards across the top of my saddle. Sorry I don't know why I do this. I do know that when I do this with a flared saddle like my Terry or this Aliante I eventually get a sore on my butt right where my cheek hits the flared part of the saddle. So I gave the Aliante the thumbs down and moved on to the Maxm.
The Maxm felt very familiar. This saddle is almost a carbon copy of my Terry just a little wider. It has the same foam top and the same basic shape. I got the same flared saddle feeling when I push backwards and felt the same sore flare up. I think this saddle would be an improvement from my Terry because I need a wider saddle. I don't think it is perfect saddle for me though.
I switched back to the Gobi and rode another couple laps. Eventually my butt started hurting with this saddle as well. I don't think Gobi is perfect for me, but it is probably the best thing I have tried so far. I switched the Gobi over to my road bike and commuted to work one day on it. I didn't really learn anything new. It felt about the same as my mountain ride.
I may hunt around on ebay to see if I can find a cheap used Gobi to test further. The one week demo at competitive cyclist is a little too short for me. Plus the number of saddles they send you is kind of limited. I would have totally blown their service away with my NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea. :)
Posted by James Bigler at 1:24 PM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Amy and I did a fun ride today at Cooper Creek WMA. Here is a pic of Amy after a long downhill.
Here I am cruising down a scenic forest service road.
Here I am checking out the view off a bridge
Here is what I was looking at
We ended up getting 13 miles in at just under 3 hours. Amy rode the whole thing without the x2cycle. Go Amy!!!
We also rode Saturday at Gainesville college. We wanted to scout the trail out a little for the clinic that Amy is going to next week. Afterwards we went to my sister's house in Dahlonega.
My niece showed me how well she can ride her bike now. She is fearless. She pedals as fast as she can downhill and can turn on a dime. I wish I had some pics to show how well she leans her bike to turn. I need to get one of those tag-a-long bikes and start taking her up to the forest roads at Bull Mtn.
Amy and I had a great time babysitting the kids. We played games, watched Babe, and ate some awesome lasagna (my favorite) that my sister made. It was a great weekend.
Posted by James Bigler at 5:48 PM
Friday, August 15, 2008
We baked our final cake and split it tonight. Snapped a quick pick just for cg.
On another note my life less wimpy has been anything but this week. Pulled a muscle in my back on Wednesday and have been gimping around ever since.
I managed to do some work on Amy's bike tonight. Turns out she has been basically riding a hardtail around ever since she bought her new bike. I thought the bike shop had setup her shock and fork pressure for her, but I was wrong. The air pressure was almost double what it is supposed to be. A big burly woman must have demoed her bike last. We dropped her pressure down and her bike should be super plush now.
We also tipped the nose of her saddle up a little and installed her computer. Hopefully she will be happy tomorrow when we hit Gainesville college. Afterwards we are heading over to my sister's house to babysit the youngins. Should be lots of fun.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:59 PM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I cleaned up on presents
Box of saddles to demo
Portable Fan With Power
CD of cool jazz clarinet players
2 instructional clarinet books
Glen Canyon Book
Plus Amy made a really good chocolate explosion cake. The outside is cake but the inside is gooey liquid chocolate. When you dig into it the goo comes running out the cake into your ice cream. Good stuff.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:34 PM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Just got back from TN on a fun camping and riding trip with Amy. Click on this link to chocolate girl's blog post if you want more information about the Saturday ride. There is no way I could say it any better than that.
After the ride I was wrecked. Somehow I got dehydrated and just could not think clearly. I laid around in our campsite for a couple hours drinking water. After drinking about seven thirty ounce bottles I was finally starting to perk back up. Amy and I made some sandwiches then went for walk to escape our crazy camp neighbors.
I got a good night's sleep in my brand new tent Amy got me for my birthday. It has windows everywhere and even a big skylight at the top. I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at stars until I passed back out. Thank you so much Amy for this weekend I really had a great time.
Sunday we packed up our site and headed over to Brush Creek. We rode there for a couple hours. It was our first time riding this trail and we both really enjoyed it. Amy claims it is her new favorite trail. When we got back to the car, I loaded up on more water and food and headed back out to the Tanasi trails. I did a big three hour loop there and still didn't ride everything. What an awesome trail system.
I took jmillron's advice and soaked my legs in the river after the ride so I am hoping I will still have something left for tomorrow. I tried to drink and eat as much as possible today, and I feel much better now than I did yesterday. Since I took the day off work, I might as well go do something fun.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:44 PM
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I rode by bike up to the lake just north of my work this morning to see how the other half lives. Even though it is just a couple miles away it seems like a whole other world. Last time I was there I saw all these cool sailboats. This time all I saw was a bunch of power boats. Not sure what happened.
I also took a walk after dinner. It is crazy how many people are still rushing home from work at almost 9 pm. People gunning their engines to go a hundred feet then slam on their brakes and wait again. It was cool watching the sun go down and seeing the moon and stars come out.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:11 PM
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Amy and I hit Big Creek tonight for a quick ride. I saw a bunch of people there I knew. When I pulled up they all yelled "Hey James" in unison. It made me feel really good. Sometimes I feel like James Bond, because I can meet the same person over and over again yet they never remember me. Maybe my fro makes me more distinctive now. Whatever the reason it was sure was nice to feel welcome. I am also glad Amy got to meet some of the people I talk about from the forums.
I tried to kick up our ride up a notch for my life less wimpy goal by pedaling with one leg. I mostly made it around the beginner loop. I had to switch legs when I got tired, but I only used one leg at a time. I had to push on that steep climb after the switchbacks. My legs are comically sore from trying to run yesterday. Riding made them feel better though. They loosened up on my commute to work then got sore while I sat at my desk all day then loosened up again on my ride home.
I am looking forward to Saturday. I think Amy and I are going up to Tanasi to do this ride. Then we are going to camp out Saturday night and ride again on Sunday. Should be a fun weekend.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:08 PM
Monday, August 04, 2008
I stumbled on a old house-mates blog today. I was inspired after reading about several of her adventures. She is so tough. I want to be more like her and less like a lazy couch potato so I have decided to do something about it.
I quit watching TV a couple weeks ago. That was definitely a step in the right direction. I have been mostly sleeping, reading books, and playing my clarinet with my new free time. I am thinking I can spend some of that time doing a little more exercise though.
I did start the 100 push up challenge two weeks ago. The challenge is to be able to do 100 push ups in a row after six weeks of training. I started week three today and did 100 push ups but not in a row. I took some long breaks to recover between sets.
I also did 11 pullups before riding my bike to work. Not sure about the length of my commute. I spend all day looking at computers so I don't want one of those computer things on my bike. I am guessing it is somewhere like 15-20 miles round trip.
When I got home I walked down to Big Creek and tried to run around the walking trail. I am guessing I walked like 2 miles and ran probably 3 quarters of a mile.
I think that is a good start for a life less wimpy. I wonder how long I can keep it up.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:21 PM
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Saturday I woke up and wanted to ride somewhere. My choices were heading down to Big Creek and doing my regular ride or mixing it up in traffic and picking up a chain I needed from Performance. I was feeling a little adventurous so I pumped up the tires on my road bike headed out to play in traffic.
Normally I try to avoid major roads on my bike so I found a road that seemed like it would be less traveled but still take me in the general direction I needed to go. There were less cars on this road but the shoulder was very narrow. Plus the road was super hilly so it was hard to stay out of the car's way. I almost made it to the store without incident, but I made a wrong turn and ended up having to cut through a parking lot. I wasn't exactly paying attention to where I was going and I ran right into a storm drain with slots parallel to the direction I was traveling. Next thing I know I am air borne flying through the air like super man.
Luckily I have wrecked many times and somehow managed to land on my feet. Should I really feel lucky about wrecking so many times now that I am actually good at it? After my unplanned dismount, I sheepishly looked around to see how many people just saw me wreck my bike in a parking lot. I didn't see anyone so I hopped back on my bike and road to the store. When I walked into the store the cute young lady behind the counter gave me a little snicker. I turned over my shoulder and noticed she had an excellent view of my crash. Oh well. If I want to be cool I would probably be better off buying a trans am and growing a thick mustache.
I decided to ride home on the main road instead of off the beaten path. It was actually easier because the road had multiple lanes. Cars could just pass whenever they needed to. There was one guy that tried to show me how fast his car was at a red light. He pushed me out of his way and gave me a face full of exhaust but other than that it wasn't bad at all. I think I build this stuff up in my head too much and should do more and think less.
Today Amy and I headed to Fort Yargo state park in Winder. I noticed on YABA's website that they have a beginner trail now. Ever since I told Amy about the trail, she has been asking me to take her there. Being the loving considerate man that I am I decided that I could make this sacrifice and go ride my bike on a fun new trail. I have ridden the outer loop at Yargo many times, but I never knew about the beginner trail.
The beginner trail starts out a paved sidewalk with some signs about the local wildlife. Then you branch off the sidewalk onto a bulldozed single lane dirt road through a dried up mud hole. You follow the lowlands for a couple miles then pop out on a burned down clear cut. Then you go back to the bulldozed single lane road for awhile then popup out in a RV park. Next you hop through a couple campgrounds then take a very nice scenic path along the lake. Then you cross a nice dirt dam with a good view of the lake. Then you hit some really sweet buff singletrack for a couple miles. Then you pop out on a pipeline clear cut and fly down a kudzu lined singletrack descent. Then you cross a big wooden bridge over the lake. Next you follow some nice rooty paths along the lake shore. Then you pop out in the middle of a disc golf course where the fairways are lined in mulch. After getting lost you eventually pop out back on the outer loop and get a nice easy ride back to the parking lot.
The beginner trail definitely has something for everybody. I liked that there weren't many hills and most of the trail was smooth and not technical. The distance was a little on the long side but you could definitely pack a lunch and take a nice long picnic break to split up the ride. The trail could probably use a few more signs or yellow blazes. If you get lost just remember to keep the lake on the same side the whole time and try to hug the lake as close as possible.
After Amy's fun I rode the outer loop solo. I ran into Tweety and Racey Tracey. They had just come back from a 10 hour race in North Carolina and stopped on the way home for a couple of cool down laps. Super humans I tell you. Also extremely nice and friendly people. I would like to work on my fitness a little so I can ride with them more often.
I really enjoyed the changes to the outer loop. There were little jumps and hips and drop downs every where. Someone has been working hard on making the trail more fun. They were also a bunch of re-routes that added more length and reduced the user conflicts with the other park users. They have done an excellent job.
I was able to ride everything out there except the horseshoe drop. I had ridden a similar gully on the old trail and when I saw the sign for the drop I thought that is what they were talking about. I was wrong. The new drop looks like it is three stories tall. I dropped into it no problem, but I only made it about half way up the other side. I was too scared of flipping over backwards to fully commit. So I climbed out the side of the gully.
After climbing out of the gully, I figured I could just get back on the trail and keep riding, but I was wrong again. The trail turned back on itself and dropped through the gully again. This drop only looked like 2 and half stories so I decided to give it a go. I backed up as far as possible and sprinted for the drop in. I zoomed back up the other side and only need a couple pedals to top out the other side. Woo hoo that was fun. I would love to see someone ride the other side.
I had another great weekend and I am looking forward to next week. My birthday is a week from Monday and Amy is hinting around that she might have something fun planned for next weekend. Whatever happens I am pretty sure there will be cake involved so I am very excited.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:49 PM