Saturday, December 27, 2008

H.O.T. Bike Race May 2008

H.O.T Bike Race
Brady, Texas
May 10, 2008

By Roy and Christine Jones

Saturday May 10, 2008 Brady hosted the H. O. T. (Heart of Texas) 65 mile bike race. San Angelo was well represented in turn out.

The morning was over-cast and cool. Wind was 11 plus and in one’s face except for the last 10-mile leg. But I am getting ahead of myself.

As mentioned, it was a race and everything is going to be from the perspective of non-racers. Knowing our places, Christine and I lined up in the back row to keep out of everyone’s way. Indicative of the day, the leaders of the pack were ½ mile down the road before we got out of the parking lot. No problem. Some guy jumped his chain as soon as he got on the highway. His friend stayed back with him, and two other guys weren’t paying attention so didn’t even start with the group. So, we weren’t last at the start. The “slow” group dropped us at the second hill. From that point on Christine and I were pretty much by ourselves and had a nice ride touring through the country side at our pace. Did I mention the hills and wind in the face?

Besides our interesting start, the second clue that this was a race and not a tour was that the first “rest stop” was 26 miles from the start line. And no porta-potty. The second rest stop was the standard “12 miles”----make that 15, and no porta-potty. The third rest stop was the standard “12 miles”---make that 14. There was a porta-potty, but after 55 miles, who cared.

Back to the “race”, everyone has to beat someone to maintain dignity. Well, the two guys who hadn’t been paying attention passed us around mile 20. The guy who slipped his chain turned out to be on a mountain bike, so he and his friend were still trailing us. Later, about mile 30, a guy had broken his chain and was waiting on SAG. So I was thinking, all right, we are going to beat a mountain bike and friend, and a broken chain DNF. But as luck would have it, about mile 45, the mountain bike and friend gave up and caught a SAG in. That put us last so everyone still upright on his bike beat us in.

Have I yet mentioned the hills and wind in the face? Well, by the time the mountain bike gave up, the overcast skies were long gone and it was in the 90’s. What was said to be wind to the back/downhill turned out to be hot, shifting wind, and more rolling hills, some of which were in the downhill direction. Remember the previous hills and wind in the face? By the time we got to the easier section, I was pooped and close to dehydration. My legs were taking turns cramping and playing gotcha. A hip muscle would lock up, then the thigh would cramp, then the ham-string would contract making it very difficult to pedal. Never mind that my hands were numb, feet hurt, bottom would go numb, lift up in the saddle to get circulation and as soon as it would wake up, it would start hurting. Solution was to sit back down and let it go numb again. Hurt less.

We bicycle for fun, recreation, and health. Sometimes that is like saying I wrestle wild bears for sport. But just as soon as the lactic acid leaves our legs, we will be looking forward to our next tour. Forget racing, it’s too lonely in the back.

Beginners Page 2 Pedals and Things

Beginners Page 2
Pedals and things
By Roy and Christine Jones

When I was little, bikes were not as complicated as today. One chain ring, brake by pushing backward on the crank, and one type of pedal. The pedal was simply a platform to put your tennis shoe on and pedal round and round.

Wow, have things changed. You have to be sober to learn about pedals. The ones with clip-on are called clipless and the ones with straps are called clip pedals. I think the pedals that go with tennis shoes are called pedals.

Personally I started with a pedal. Easy to get onto and easy to get off of, and they make the bike go. The problem which is an on-going theme of mine (ask Randy about my quest to go faster if you want a good laugh) is that just as soon as you seem to hit your max speed, you want to go faster. So you look around for something mechanical to make you go faster. Work on yourself? Nah, too much trouble. Easier to buy something or up-grade something to make you go faster. As you listen to people talk and if you surf the net, you will find the next step up from a pedal is a clip pedal (the one with a strap). It will make you go faster and is not TOO expensive. The strap allows you to pull up on the pedal as well as push down the old-fashioned way thereby using “up” leg muscles as well as “down” leg muscles. And you go faster. You even find you can go up a hill a little faster and easier and life is good. Sometimes the clip pedal is a little tricky to get out of but with some practice you can safely stop and brace yourself with one leg down.

But then invariably, you want to go faster again. It may be real soon after getting clip pedals or a long time, but eventually you want to go faster. Now faster could mean up to 12 miles per hour or a heart-stopping 15 miles per hour. But it will happen, and you have been watching what other people are using and listening to them tell you that if you just had CLIPLESS pedals, you too could go as fast as the wind without laboriously working on your conditioning, legs, torso, cardio, and all that. (watts, mets, torque, heart-rate, VO2 max and all the things too advanced for me even to mention)

So you are ready to take the leap and go clipless. Oops, that means I have to buy biking shoes that have clips so I can clip into the clipless pedals. Buying shoes is a trip in itself. What size do you want? 42, 43, 45? Heavens no, I am not a big footed clown; I wear a 9-91/2. Nope, you are a 43 unless you buy brand X and then you may be sporting a 42 or 43.5. And then there are SPD, Look, or some other type for wide feet. Best just to throw up your hands and let the experts fit you because all you are interested in is to go 1.5 miles per hour faster, right? Oh yeah, they have shoes that you can walk around in straight from the bike or one that you have to put a protector on before you walk around.

Now you are walking around with a click every step and can’t wait to hear that manly click into the pedal that you have heard the big boys do so many times. But first, you have to learn to click in AND get out of those suckers. Clicking in is not too hard. You push down on the pedal----excuse me---the clipless pedal hard enough to get the bike going without falling over and then search until you find the clip in the clipless pedal and push down to clip in. Hear that click? Then click the other one in----and then never stop so you will not have to un-clip.
Not likely, so you have to twist your foot out a certain way to un-clip, and there is a lot of other technical stuff so let the experts (bike shops) teach you to get in and out of your new clipless pedals.

First, let me make it clear. Unless you are not like 99.99999% of us, you will fall at least once. I still have scars from my learning days and am very conscious of starting and stopping correctly to this day.

Second, you will find yourself able to go at least 1.5 miles per hour faster than you used to so all of the confusion is worth it. And note that you did not have to work on yourself to get faster. Just a simple up-grade did it.

Third, after getting used to the clipping in and out of the clipless pedals, you will find yourself impressing the newer riders with your “click” as you take off. You are an old-timer now.

But first things first, you must come out and ride with us in order to become an old-timer. It’s your club.

Beginners Page 1 Airing the Tires

Beginners Page
# 1
Airing up the tires
By Roy and Christine Jones

We have been submitting reviews of different tours in different places for a couple of months. When we first talked to Scott about it, we hoped to stir up interest for the recreational rider who is out for fun, health, and doesn’t care if he ever hits 20 miles per hour except going downhill.

I forget how many are dues paying members of SABA, but it seems that I see the same thirty faces that I did last year when the club was much smaller. We wanted to reach the other “70” and get them active in riding. We had hoped that between the organized rides and various tour opportunities, a few more people would join in. Maybe if they knew that there were some slow members who ride despite getting “dropped” by the masses but still keep coming back, it would get some more to try it out.

Maybe if the silent majority knew of the struggles we have gone through and continue to experience, they would come join us.

Before we knew there was a bike club, we started biking for fun, health, and to lose weight. We started out going five miles, then seven, and then we hit 10 miles! That was a milestone. Then one day I made a wrong turn and we went 15 miles. We were so proud. We were now distance riders but we started wanting to go faster. We had el cheapo mountain bikes that sometimes got up to 10-12 miles per hour. (We thought the only other bikes were used by professional racers in the Tour de France.) The internet was a wealth of information so I bought a road bike over eBay and lucked out. It fit. I didn’t know 56 cm from 2 pints. I didn’t know shifters came in different places. The bike I got had shifters on the tube (but I didn’t know it was a tube at that time). But was it fast. I could run circles around Christine on her mountain bike. So we got her a new 1.2 Pilot Trek in November 2006. Her bike had shifters on the handlebars. Man, that was convenient and I marveled over the advances in technology. I didn’t know when they changed from shifters on the tube to handlebars and still don’t. And she ran circles around me until she hit some loose dirt and fell the day after getting her first bike shoes and hurt her left knee.

In December 2006, we discovered SABA and joined. We went on the Christmas lights ride with some of the club members and found that they were very friendly and helpful. Some of the members brought extra bike lights because they had heard that there were some newbies riding---and guess what? We didn’t have lights. You need lights to ride at night?

Then winter hit and our riding went down to every once in a while when the temp was reasonable. Finally daylight saving time hit and we joined the group at Mary E Lee Park. Once again we found the club members friendly and helpful. And sympathetic. The route was 13 miles and it had hills! One or more of the members would hang back with us as we were still riding at 10-15 miles per hour. And we thought those hills by the dam and up toward Knickerbocker were Mt. Everest in size. I almost had to get off and push uphill and Christine was huffing and puffing so much that Anke came back and rode with her. Christine just knew that Anke thought she was going to have a heart attack.

We made it for that 13 mile ride and after two weeks riding the Monday ride, we felt brave enough to try the Tuesday 20 mile ride called the Loop Group. We didn’t know the route so some of the members stayed back with us to show us the way. We slowed them down so much that we convinced them that we knew the way. As soon as they left, we turned around and rode back the way we came. As it was, we turned around at 10 miles so by the time we got back to TXDOT, we had ridden 20 miles anyway.

Oh yes, this article was entitled airing up the tires. Rapidly we started learning all the extras that come about in order to ride. You may have already noticed that we had bike computers in order to know that we went 10 miles per hour or rode for 20 miles. Then along the way we learned that the real riders air up their tires before every ride. So we bought an air pump. The bike shop probably thought that EVERYONE knows how to air up a tire because we weren’t asked if we knew how to put air in a tube with a Presta valve. The floor pump had a double-sided nozzle assembly for a Presta and a Schrader stem. Road bikes had Presta and mountain bikes had Schrader, so we were set.
The first time I tried to check my tire pressure; I unscrewed the Presta valve cap on one of my tires, attached the Presta end of the pump’s nozzle assembly, and tried to pump air. The air went nowhere. The gauge on my pump skyrocketed. I could not get air to go into my tires for anything. I was too embarrassed and macho to go back to the bike shop and ask. So I did the modern thing---typed in “how to air up a bicycle tire” on the internet. I found an excellent article written by a person who had the same problem as I did. I learned that the Presta valve has a little locking nut at the end of the stem and if you unscrew it, the pump will work. Oh by the way, after airing the tire, pull the nozzle off straight from the stem. Don’t twist or wiggle the nozzle to get it off the stem. Really don’t want to tell you why I learned not to do it. And then don’t forget to tighten the locking nut after airing the tire. Again, don’t ask me why.
There is no way to go through all of our learning mistakes and triumphs in one article so we may continue in future writings. In the meantime, we would like for the other “70” to come out and ride with us and we can learn together.