Monday, January 28, 2013

Trail Duathlon Race 2

Temperature 5 Celsius (40F)
Light steady rain

Bike setup:
New bottom bracket bearings (XT, previous FSA MegaExo lasted 4 years)
New wheelset - American Classic Terrain 29 Tubeless, 2013 model, very sweet!
New Shimano XT disc rotors
New rear brake pads
Old Specialized Captain 29x2.0 2Bliss tires, rear one will be gone soon, but this rubber snapped onto the tubeless rims upon inflation with a floor pump in no time
One and half scoops of Stan's in each tire, 32psi

Personal setup:
Old (untreated) sinus infection, maxillar, frontal...
Brand new otitis media with effusion
Slight lack of balance
Screw the weather and middle ear infection attitude
Wool base layer, Twin Six bike jersey for running and a Goretex jacket for the bike laps
New Endura neoprene wet weather bike gloves - probably better for cold weather surfing than mountain biking

Race result:
A negative improvement (similar to the current economic term "negative growth") of 8 minutes over the 1st race.
Looking forward to the 3rd and final one on February 17!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mountain Biking Skills Session

Finally, after three months of hiatus, my full suspension bike, the Ibis Mojo tasted the local dirt. I took it to the world famous I-5 Colonnade for couple of hours of intense skills practice. The park is usually empty during the work days, when I run through it on my lunch breaks. But it was empty on a Sunday afternoon, in the winter when most real mountain trails are covered with snow here. Or are there so many good winter coastal destinations where all mountain bikers go? A guy I met at I-5 said that it gets "a little busier" in the summer months. The place rocks and I cannot thank enough those many people who must have spent hundreds of hours building the sweet tracks here, so that two guys could have the whole park to themselves on a sunny winter afternoon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Between Three Kings and Hromnice

There is a Czech saying that loosely translates as: "On New Years Day, a hen's step ahead, on Three Kings Day, one step further, on Hromnice Day, one hour more". As I look at it, it makes no sense whatsoever in English, it does not even rhyme, which it does nicely in Czech. Anyways, the saying is referring to the daylight increases after the Winter Solstice. The Three Kings Day (Epiphany) was January 6th. Hromnice day is February 2nd, still three weeks away. But the days are getting longer at an alarming rate of 1-2 minutes per day here at the far-far-north-west. And we are not even as far north as Prague! (Seattle 47.6097, Prague 50.0833).
For now, we keep our bike lights charged, blinkies, as well as headlamps and reflective vests for running ready. The dry, cold and sunny days make all the surrounding mountains visible, I think I saw Mt. Baker from the Volunteer Park water tower the other day - that hill is 90 miles away. Of course, "The Mountain" seems to be looming above the horizon no matter which direction you look. Here, we look at it from the Snoqualmie Alpental ski area, just off the Edelweiss chairlift:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


When Roger, one of the people behind 4th Dimension Racing, Evergreen Trail runs and Northwest Multisport Trail Duathlons, asked me on Sunday how I liked the Northwest after moving here from the Bay Area, I only had time to answer: "A lot!". It would be a long explanation and I am not even sure if I could coherently and logically explain to myself what I like or don't like here. Marketa sums it up: these runners and bicyclists here are for real, unlike the Silicon Valley slightly overweight crowd in tight colorful kits with some lard escaping the Lycra. People here will outrun you and bike commuters will zoom by you when you are in a big ring and thinking how fast you're going.
So to make things even more interesting, they have created trail duathlons, where, in the long version, you can run on trails, then hop on your mountain or CX bike and ride several laps, and after you are done with the bike, run again. I had no idea how this worked, how to arrange gear at the transition area or how to dress for the race. But I guess I figured it out before the start and then I only had tons of fun. I know how cliche this sounds but the green grass, forest singletrack, ferns, slick roots, sunny breaks, rain sprinkles, snow covered mountains on the horizon, and the pleasure of moving and finally riding my mountain bike on technical enough trails just made my mood excellent.

This was the first race of a 3-race series, all taking place at Ft. Steilacoom in Tacoma. There are few more oficial photos here:

And a Garmin track here:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

...And A Happy New Year

Mt. Rainier National Park, January 1, 2013

2012 was a strong bicycling year, with 3,560 total recorded miles and almost 320,000 vertical feet. It was a year of my first loaded bicycle tour, my first bike overnight trip, my first 8-hour mountain bike race and one European bike marathon race. It was also a year when I could go for a bike ride pretty much any time I wanted during my six months of unemployment, in a state when there is always a good riding weather and dry trails. Yet towards the end of the last year, I realized that while riding my bikes is fun and thoroughly enjoy it, it does not really fill my life with a purpose. Moving to Washington state also made me realize that eight months of no rain was boring, skiing and snowshoeing is what I love to do in the winter and mountain biking can easily be the sport I do in summer months (it used to be when I lived in Connecticut and it was perfectly fine). I even think bike commuting to work in rain is OK and hubs, bottom brackets and other bike parts can and should be replaced sometimes.
So 2012 was really good for me getting in shape, yet happiness does not get measured by miles ridden or feet climbed, or races won or lost. And I hope 2013 will be a happy year full of new roads and trails discovered, but mainly one filled with a sense of doing something useful, for myself, for my family or for the humanity, and not just riding along.