Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Rumspringa!

A picture is worth a thousand words... but I didn't have the camera and even if I did, it would have been totally disrespectful to take the picture. Soooo....words will have to give you the visual image:
  • Gas Station

  • Souped-up Volkswagen at pumps -- tinted windows, low-riding, playboy sticker, tassles hanging from the mirror, and of course the vrooom, vrooom loud muffler sound.

  • Boy pumping gas -- beige shirt with suspenders and black polyester pants, bowl-like haircut, no hat. Could he be Amish? YES!!!

Rumpsringa is when Amish kids turn 16 and they are allowed to explore the "English" ways. By George this kid was exploring -- right down to the playboy sticker. Two years ago, Rick and I were spending a good bit of time riding bike prepping him for a hundie, and we often went by this one farm that had tons of Amish kids always hanging out -- they were "exploring." Cigs, booze, flirting, rock/rap music, cussing, driving cars/trucks (always souped up and decked out with fancy stuff), all a way of life for many 16 year old amish kids. Those brats! :) If you really wanna learn about them, here's an interesting book on it -- To be or not to be Amish Rumspringa, by Tom Shachtman. NPR did an interesting article on the subject, mentioned this gentleman's book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pre-40-Miler Contemplation

You'd think after umpteen races, including a handful of long buggers, I'd have it all figured out without nary a worry? So why do I still have to read about prepping for endurance races and the taper prior to? Why do I still seek out articles -- I guess I'm trying to assure myself that I'm doing it right. Mr. Rosengarth is my newest hero. Yup, the one and only Karl Rosengarth from Dirt Rag (I think formerly of Dirt Rag). The article I found is from 2005, but it answered all my questions about this Sunday. The big one was do I have enough mileage under my belt so far this year to do 40 mountain miles. Yes, according to Mr. Rosengarth, I do. His article is about prepping for a 100 miler and I zeroed in on the mileage. He claims if you regularly complete (weekly) 50-70 miles you'll have no problem doing 100. If you equate that to a 40-miler, that means the 20-27 miles we've doing are on-the-money and we shouldn't have any issues with 40 miles. Well slap my ass -- he just boosted the energy level a couple notches. I'm ready -- WE'RE ready. That would be Donna and me. I especially like the below section from the article. He said all the right things!

Nothing to it, but to do it.
An endurance ride, after it's all said and done, is really "just riding along." Plan to have fun, and you probably will. Consider finding a friend or two to enter with you. Stick together on race day and enjoy each other's company.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Riding in Weiser with Weiser

They really shoulda built their house in WEISER state forest, not MICHAUX state forest with the name of WEISER -- and he IS the 11th (?) generation of the famous WEISER from PA -- the Conrad Weiser Homestead guy? Anywhos... Mrs. Weiser rode Weiser with me today for a lovely 3 hr ride with a little climbing, a little rock-hopping and a lotta feelin' good about the ride. We did the climb, then stuck it in 4th gear and stayed there for the rest of the ride 'cause we both love our singlespeeds, but have been riding gears because of the climbing we've been doing in prep for the Michaux 40 milers. By mile marker 20, 4th gear was a hurtin! Well, I was a hurtin -- maybe if I wouldn't have eaten those crappy GUs (they were old and I wanted to use them up) with no protein. GOTTA have protein. We rode Deep Hollow, Rock's Ridge to Wolf Pond, Wolf Pond, Rim, Lukes, Grim, Shale Run, Perserve Line, Fawn Kill, Lykens Road to Doc Smith, Rattling Creek, Dry Run, Schreffler and a finish on the screaming, jarring downhill of Ironmine. About 22 miles total. We didn't want to do a long ride with next weekend's extra long ride approaching - I think what we did today was perfect after last week's 27 miler. I forgot it was turkey season, and yes we saw two hunters. Maybe they should hunt on gamelands where there aren't any bikes to disturb them? One of the hunters had his blind about 15 feet off of Deep Hollow trail. Granted, I've seen the turkey run up those trails so it probably IS a good idea to sit near a trail, but that one seems a little too well-traveled by horses, bikes, hikers to sit a blind right next to it. Maybe he discovered that today. Beauty of day -- thanks for coming up Miss D! It was an awesome ride.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What to Do on an 80+ Degree, Sunny Weekend

Hmmmm... 80+ degrees, sunny, and no particular plans for the weekend. How perfect is that?! Rick is making his kayaking plans for BOTH days this weekend with the Dauphin Narrows on Saturday and the Lehigh on Sunday. Sunday will be different for him - he plans to "mingle" with a bunch of 1) strangers, and 2) whitewater canoe people. Will he be ok? Will the canoe people accept an obsessed kayer amongst their own? Maybe I should go to protect him. Most of our kayaking budds are heading to the Stony Fest near Johnstown. Its a pretty big festival for white water kayakers. But its also a drink fest like kayakers are known to do (doesn't everyone except me and Rick?!). Rick didn't want to go. I suggested we go to "watch", but kayakers can't watch other kayakers without getting in the water, and the water there is a bit much for both of us (class 3+).

And me for the weekend? I think I'm going to be climbing Deep Hollow Trail on my mountain bike in Weiser at the crack of dawn, and be home by 10:00 am. Then its garden time! Or, if Rick didn't leave yet, I might hitch a ride with him to the Narrows for a little yaking. The Lehigh is out for me on Sunday -- way too long of a day and I need to be on weed detail this weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Michaux Pre-riding

Donna, Brett, Don Pagano, Zachster!, and Christina all came out for a pre-ride of part of the Michaux 40-miler yesterday. Riding with other people makes it a whole heck of a lot funner -- thanks guys! Don and Brett were on singlespeeds and as usual, made it look easy. I just don't know how they do it. Brett was fully rigid too! Geez. Zach is Zach and wasn't even sweating until about 20 miles into the ride AND planned to race Fair Hill today too. And Christina and Donna are just like one of the guys and ride SOOOO well. I don't think Chrissy's been mountain biking too much (?) and she rode like she's been riding every week. And Donna? Well, what can I say...she's riding like a seasoned racer on her 29er and I found it hard to stay with her. She used to complain about logs -- not anymore with those bigs wheels to help her out. She log hopped every log, well almost every one of them - there were some tricky, up-hill logs and a handful of fatties neither of us could get over. We decided we'll ride together for the Michaux 40-miler, but I may have some trouble staying with her - but I'll certainly give it my best shot.

And my take on the course? Well, after a few years of mountain bike racing on all types of terrain and deciding which trails were the hardest/most technical/longest/funnest/etc, our PA home-turf Michaux is in a category all by itself and stands way, way above all the rest. I came home speechless yesterday after pre-riding about 20 miles of singletrack (we actually did 27 miles the whole ride). I simply can't figure out what to say. Should I rant about how hard the trails are? How much climbing there is? Should I bitch about the shoddy trail building at spots (off -camber with no bench cutting, steep/hard turning switchback turns; but its not all shoddy, there's some really nice rockwork sections too and its obvious folks put a lot of time into building these new sections) and the fact many of the trails are new; thus not broken it? Twigs slap you in the legs and there are spots it's near impossible to see a "trail." This is the real-McCoy -- true adventurous, off-road mountain biking on ever-so-slight resemblances of trails. No more ATV crap in this course. Should I whine about the difficulty... OMG, there are trails that aren't rideable on my skill-level (tricky rock piles with turns in the middle of them, rocky sections that you can't quite see where the lines are; logs, logs, logs, and more logs - big ones, little ones, double ones, split ones, rotted ones, ramped ones). Or will it suffice to say, there's no doubt it will be the hardest 40 miles I'll ever do -- if I finish which is still the goal. I signed up for this in prep for what's coming the rest of the season -- 12 hour duo, Rattling creek 50, and the big one for my FFF 50th Birthday, the Ironcross. The 40-miler seemed like a good early-season training race. Ha! Who am I kidding. Getting through this will make all the rest seem easy. I did the Rattling Creek Marathon two years ago and it took 6 hours and 37 minutes to finish. I fully suspect 40 miles of Michaux will take longer. But it will certainly be some of the best training I'll get all season.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ironcross VII

October 11, 2009 will be the seventh running of the now infamous Ironcross, a 65+ mile cyclocross "race" in Michaux State Forest. Why am I writing about this now? 6 months before it happens? Because I like it and have been thinking about it - that's why. This will be my 4th Ironcross. I did it the 1st two years in 2003 and 2004, took a year off to go on that stupid trip to Hawaii for Xterra Worlds (I sucked SO bad), was back again in 2006, had end-of-the-season burnout in 2007 and didn't race it, and last year my racing ending a little early in the season. So this year it's my "goal" race for my 50th FFF Birthday 6 days after the race. There's just something about the Ironcross I find attractive -- maybe its the fire road riding that most people despise. I actually enjoy fire road riding. Sometimes the rocks piss me off on singletrack, so its nice to get on smoothness (but I really don't like road riding). Maybe its the challenge of finishing 67 miles of mountain riding. Oh the pain - oh the pleasure. My first year (with Donna!!) was memorable -- we were near the end, and Donna and I came across Christian Carney rolling on the ground in pain. Donna made him eat Endurolytes (I think that's what it was) so he could finish. Thinking back, Christian? Rolling around on the ground in pain??? That's funny. For those that don't know what Ironcross is, they label it the longest cross race in America. They start you on a cross course, then send you mountain climbing for the next 60+ miles on fire road and a spattering of single track and hard top road. There's a steep section you literally have to crawl up with your bike on your bike -- my favorite part of the race. Then you hop back on your bike and do some power line climbing which is always painful (and seldom rideable). I truly can't call it a cross race -- there's no gasping for air every lap like a true cross race -- you just wanna finish, so its a slow go (for me anyway). It started in 2003 with 70 finishers and has grown in popularity every year to last year's near 300. Donna has an idea we're gonna do it on single speeds??? I did it on my cross bike in 2006 and it was SOOO painful. The other two years were on a mountain bike. Most riders are on cross bikes or something modified just for this race. I was thinking about the 29er with skinnier tires (1.75), or may that nice Felt singlespeed cross bike (not really). But I'm not sure yet about single speed. I kinda like that flow you get into in the big ring on flat fire road sections. We might spin out fairly easily on single speeds Miss D. Have to think about that one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Funsters - Tilt Shift video!

Have you ever heard of a "tilt-shift" video?? Nope, I didn't either until Mr. Brown turned me onto this very-cool video of kayakers in the Susquehanna River at the Holtwood Dam. Tilt-shift is a style of making the animated figures in the video (in this case, kayakers in water) look like tiny litte minatures. It's awesome. WATCH IT HERE. Yes, Mr. Brown aspires to surf the Holtwood waves someday just like the guys in the video. He's my hero!

And another funster -- the radio announcer people this morning were announcing a contest where you could win a "Vera Bradley purse!" And I said to Ricky, "what's a Vera Bradley purse??"" And we laughed... then we started joking, "man, if they were giving away an NRS kayak Gear bag, or a nice biking Gear bag, we'd be all over that contest, wouldn't we??" I'm so non-fashion oriented. I guess the Vera thang is a women's fashion in-style thang??? HA!.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bouncing Off of Rocks

I had forgotten how nice dual suspension really is until yesterday. Contemplating what bike to ride for the bigMichaux 40-miler, I opted to take the dual sus out for a practice run and by George, there's nothing like a little extra cush when putting on the miles in rocks. My old, tired, flabby ass really enjoyed the extra little softness. I think this baby doll will be the bike for 40 and 50 miles of rocks (Rattling Creek is a 50-miler). The 12-hours of the Farm will be hard tail time. While riding this bike, I was thinking of the ultimate bike for rocks -- titanium, 29 inches with tubeless tires, and dual suspension. I'm sure some of you bike weenies know of just the bike that fits that bill -- please tell me! Would it happen to be IF? Another company?

And the ride in Weiser on Saturday? I screwed up the day before and planted 400 onions, 100 strawberry plants, 40 broccoli plants, and prepped the potato patch. When I woke up, my wrists would hardly bend. Needless to say, at mile marker 25 on the bike, I could hardly hold onto the handlebars anymore and had to call it quits. Now if I wouldn't have been rock hopping for 20 miles, maybe, just maybe, I could have gone longer and further. But fate has its way and my wrists said knock it off after playing in rocks for 3 hours. But have no fear, all the major digging and planting is now done -- so next weekend will definitely be the 30+ miles -- the required 75% of the destination race - the final long ride before May 3 (I'm planning to cut the long ride in half the weekend before the 40-miler to "save" myself for May 3).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Homemade and Natural Energy Gel

I found this recipe a year or more ago and have loved it ever since -- even more so now that I'm more "aware" of local and sustainable food consumption (and less processed foods). It's got all the good stuff you need to go the distance -- carbs (in the honey), calcium (molasses), protein (soy), magnesium (molasses), potassium (molasses), and sodium (salt). And here's my original post on it. I use non-GMO soy protein. Yes, its processed! But until the glorious day I can grow my own soybeans, dry them, and grind them into flour, I gotta use the processed stuff.


Gel with Protein - fills one 4 oz gel Flask
6 Tablespoons honey
5/8 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (I LUV this stuff and have been eating it for years. Its full of calcium, potassium, carbs and iron -- two tablespoons a day right out of the jar will cure all that ails you).
6 3/8 teaspoons soy protein
1/16 teaspoon salt
1-3 Tablespoons water (to get it to the consistency you like).

Gel without Protein
7 1/3 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/10 teaspoon salt

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pedal vs Paddle

During the past two years, Rick has really been getting more into the whitewater paddling thang...not as hardcore as Sam Mummert and a couple others (Class IV and V paddling -- things like the Upper Yough, the Tippy top Yough, going over waterfalls, etc.), but getting out at least twice a week in Class 2+ like the Dauphin Narrows, the Lehigh River during all their releases, or a handful of other local whitewater trips like the Nescopeck or Red Mo. There's nothing Rick would like more (I think) than for me to have the same enthusiasm as him for paddling, but my heart is still in bikes, while Mr. Brown's passion heads to the water. Thus, the ever-so-slight dilemma each weekend -- he wants to paddle, I want to bike. We're trying to meet half way, but even that's getting a little hairy now -- he wants to whitewater paddle even in higher water, I want flatter, low water - mainly because I'm still a little apprehensive after flipping twice last fall on the Lehigh (not fun). I want to ride long rides with climbs and rocks, he likes short ones that he can coast as much as possible. He has the appropriate boat for the appropriate water -- I have the appropriate bike for the terrain. He gets very excited about upcoming river runs, I can't wait for the big Michaux ride May 3 and a couple others this summer. He talks about nothing but boats. I dwell on bikes, garden, and our food system. He studies websites on water levels and rain forecasts, I blog. Sooo... how does hubby and wifey meet half way? I want to paddle with him...but more flatwater. I think (???) he wants to bike, but not as much. Oh the drama.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm Sick

May 3, 9:02 am. And if you don't quite get it, try this. It's so I don't have to ride every long weekend fun ride alone. I'll have some sick friends to enjoy it with.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week Two of the Marathon Mountain Bike "Training"

Beauty of a day for riding, huh? I just realized I can't call it "training" any more... that makes it seem like work -- riding I HAVE to do. So I'm calling it my weekly "fun rides" -- a day to get out and simply enjoy. My goal is to go slow and smile the whole time. Screw the concept of "training."

I made the trek to the RCST trails in Weiser extra early so I could get home to the garden. 7:15 am was the start time with the notorious Ironmine snowmobile trail climb. Yes, I took the gears today knowing I'd be climbing. I purposely did a 25 mile "inner" loop of the Rattling Marathon Course, to see if I'll be able to build up to doing the entire 50 mile loop in August. (Will I you ask? after today's ride?? I'll let you know after the next ride or two - the rocks HURT). After I climbed Ironmine, you do a short piece on Wolf Pond fire road, then hop on Rock's Ridge West singletrack. Ouch. After that, another short piece on Wolf Pond fire road and back onto Rock's Ridge East. Double Ouch. I'm thinking to myself, "self, how hard could 1 mile of a rocky trail really be? It's not far at all!" My ass is paying the price with this ride. I noticed a HUGE difference between the titanium hardtail and the aluminum hardtail. I like the two-niners, but the geared aluminum hardtail is very painful in rocks. I may have to go to 26 inch dual suspension for the rocky rides with climbing. The ride ended with the 2nd rockiest trail at Rattling Creek -- Wolf Pond. Yet another mere mile, how hard could it be? I walked the rocky sections -- that's how hard at the end of a ride after not really riding a whole lot yet this year. It took 3 hrs, 35 minutes (stop it! I know its slow - I'm old. I can be slow). That's a little more than my planned 10% increase from last week, but I guess I'll have to deal now, won't I?

I kept thinking 'bout the 12-hour Relay at the Farm, and how much I'm looking forward to doing it. I really, really wanna do the race, and Kuhn doesn't have any rocks at the farm, so I think I'll be fine for it on the aluminum geared niner hardtail (I don't think I can do Kuhn's on the singlespeed -- there's a bunch of short steep sections -- too many for 6 hours). The relay is 12 weeks away -- plenty of time to build up to 6 hours if I keep up my weekly, long, get-out-and-play fun rides. I'll try to do them all in the woods -- screw road riding (unless Ricky Brown goes along to take the boredom out of them).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Our Empty Y

The Northern Dauphin County YMCA in Elizabethville expanded (courtesy a federal Community Development Block Grant), but we still pretty much have the place to ourselves on a Saturday afternoon. Rick took pics because when his brother was visiting from Orlando last year, he was a little surprised when he saw the blue mat was the extent of the stretching area (it was in a much smaller, crowded room at the time). So Rick's sending him these pics to tell him what he has to look forward too the next time he visits. Its really nice to now have choices....including TV cable! (BTW, we're down to 3 channels since 33 and 15 went digital). I'm not quite sure how we lived without the leg machines... and cable!