For the noob

Last week I talked a little about why some saddles are so thin. Trying to write to the Non-cyclist who may not already know, I’d like to occasionally go down this road and answer some simple questions I frequently hear from people new to the sport or just the average joe.

Todays topic will be, “How in da heil does you ride with you’re seat so high?!”

I get this question quite often, and seldom like answering it due to how many times I’ve had to explain it to people. But that’s okay, now I can tell them to just go on the internets and find this.

Take a look at this douchbag lier and his perfect saddle height.

Lance Armstrong

Aside from everything wrong about this specific rider, his saddle height is dialed! Lets take a look at why.

You want your leg just about straight. But never fully straight! Getting good extension in your pedal stroke will result in more power output, and your legs will be happier at the end of your ride. But if your saddle is set too high, your body will have to shift over side to side in order to get a full rotation on the cranks. Terrible for your  riding form and can cause multiple problems down the road. Literally.

This general rule of thumb doesn’t only apply to the douchey roadies and professionals. Recreational riders and even children will find it easier to pedal for a long period of time when their legs aren’t scrunched up. And while most people don’t realize it, If they are riding with their seat too low, or if they are on too small of a bike, they will most likely be turned off by their experience and quit riding. Unaware that this simple problem is underlying factor of a bad experience.

The initial reaction of someone not able to put their feet flat on the ground and sit on the bike at the same time would be that it’s way too high. While in reality, you don’t want that. When Im sitting on my saddle I literally can’t touch the ground at all. That will change depending on the type of bike, but keep in mind you should at least be on your tip toes on most bikes.

 

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Trip Part 3

Take a look at all the pictures of the trail in my Flickr page.

For now, here are some of my favorite spots on the trail.

There wasn’t many views of mountains, but this spot came pretty close. After a days worth of rain, mother nature decided to stop just in time to show off this incredible sunset.

On the last morning, (the day my wonderful friends decided to leave me sleeping) I got to ride by myself until I caught up to them. During this time I ended up stumbling upon a very cool cave way up on the side of a mountain. Haha silly fools missed out on this gem. It probably went into the mountain for at least 150 feet and could probably be home to a few bears. Luckily I didn’t see any. But it was still kind of spooky.

as you can see

Definitely a worthwhile bike ride, easy enough for anyone to ride, and apparently interesting enough to keep a 7 year scout’s attention. Id give the trail two thumbs up. If you find yourself near Galax VA, definitely check it out, it shouldn’t disappoint the average rider or outdoorsman.

New River Trip (Part 2)

Missed part one? Well it’s right here.

For the first day we rode 40, then 18, then 35, then a final 22 miles the last day. While those distances are typically a normal ride length for me during the week, I’d have to say it worked out just perfect. With the added weight we were carrying it worked out to be plenty of work, not enough to make me sore, but enough to get me to sleep really good. I can’t say too much for the other guys, James and Andy. I think they had their work cut out for themselves. They must have realized I wasn’t sore because they left me sleeping in my hammock one morning and woke me up right as they took off. “You can catch up to us Pauly.”

I decided to just take it as a compliment. Besides I enjoyed sleeping in, it was Sunday after all.

It’s going to take me a while to fully clean my bike. This weekend wasn’t exactly the driest few days, but thankfully it also wasn’t the wettest of days. I could have done with less precipitation, but the mountain’s unpredictable weather surprised us with rain everyday.

For some reason I get really excited when this amazing mud line develops on my leg, and I get to unveil it when taking off my socks. Maybe it’s just a cyclist thing?

Despite the rain, when the sun shone our things always dried off pretty quickly, and allowed for an enjoyable day.

My food was epic. First night I made tacos from a drained can of chicken chill, a fresh tomato, and cheese I kept cold until we left the truck. As a camp trick, Boil a small bit of water and lay your tortilla over the pot. This will steam it just like they do at Qdoba. Second night was my magnum opus. I don’t think my words will explain how good it was, just look at the picture and imagine how good that would taste while camping. Because everyone knows food always taste better camping. (or maybe you didn’t, but now you should go camping)

Cabbage, peppers, onion, potato, sausage. Smothered in butter and oil, cooked to a crispy, stir-fry-like finish.

let it cook for like two quarters of an hour plus one half of half an hour. Or 45 minutes.

I don’t even know what this is called. I called it good.

A lot of my other meals were completely unexpected. Three of them were from restaurants we found in towns, or right off the trail. The other two were from other campers. There was an obnoxious group of cub scouts that filled one of the entire campgrounds, and left us sleeping in the horse camping area. (we slept in hammocks tho so it didn’t matter much) Never-less they were all little kids and parents and I really had no intent to interact with that group until we realized what they were cooking for breakfast. So we devised a plan.

I skipped my jolly, happy self right over to where the parents were fixin up whatever smelled so good. I introduced myself and faked some small talk asking about the scouts and how cool it was they were taking them biking on the trail and all. Then I happily let them know, “My friends and I all work in a bike shop, so if anyone is having issues with their bikes I’d be gad to take a look at it before yall hit the trail.”

I don’t think it was but two seconds after that one of the moms kindly offered me some breakfast. “Ohh my! I would love some!” We ate good that morning, Sausage, omelets, hash browns, Oj, hell yeah. In return we wrenched on some bikes. I had to get creative on how to work on them tho.

Make shift bike stand but really a lantern post. 

Then that evening at another campsite a group of boy scouts offered us the rest of their chili. Double hell yeah! We call this trail magic.

WERD UP, scouts are the shiz!

 

New River Trip (Part 1)

James and Andy, the old men I went with =P

Our first day we put out the most mileage. Each campsite we stopped at just wasn’t good enough for us, but really neither was the one we chose. It just got dark. So 40 miles into the trail we settled with a muddy, dark, leaf covered site next to the river. Whatever, it was just a place to sleep. On the plus side, I didn’t have to wash my dinner dishes, just left them out on the picnic table for the rain to wash off. I love you nature.

Our next day was an out and back spur to a town called Fries just 10 miles away. The only thing there is a big dam, a bunch of vacant stores, and a few hick locals looking at us city dwellers all weird. Ohhhh Virginia… We did however find a nice little spot to wash up in the river.

Then we pondered on over to the slightly bigger town, Galax. Here the New River Trail Ends, a total of 52 miles from our original starting point in Pulaski VA. (Plus the 10 miles visiting Fries) Our Route. This marked Our halfway point.

The entire trail pretty much follows beside the the enormous New River and uses old railway bridges to cross the river at least a dozen times. I really enjoy the old architecture of these. There are even two places on the trail where you go through some very cool, anciently old feeling tunnels.

New River 2013 (9 of 76) 

Besides just the cool man made ‘artifacts’  there was plenty of country side scenery to take in. But I’m not going to lie, the entire trail looks all just the same when you’re in the woods. None the less, this here what most of the river looked like.

The whole trip really went by fast, all the events are blurring together in my mind, but we had an awesome time. I have many more details to share with yall, but they wouldn’t fit in what I consider an appropriate blog length. Sit tight yall.

Tomorrow is so far away!

My anticipation is at it’s peak right now, as I just finished packing for the New River Trip and am as ready as ever to get-a-pedaling!

It was a rather long time spent walking around the grocery store, but I finally decided on my gluten free meals. It’s been a past tradition for me and my pals to plan the best meals ever while camping, take picture of it all, and make campers jealous of ours delicacies while they slurp down dehydrated meatloaf out of plastic bags. Yuk.

So with fewer options, and not quite the selection I had before my dietary restrictions, I think I’ll still be eating pretty well. Specifics will be sure to come, but for now here is what I’m packing.

Before Trip  (1 of 7)

That pile (which is so neatly organized) would be a lot smaller if I was on foot, but that’s the beauty of pulling weight, not carrying it.

Everything else needed all packs neatly away into my Hyalite panniers. Two thumbs up on this waterproof set of panniers! Only complaint I might have is that it’s super easy to pack more than I need with all that space. Those are of corse on the rear racks and I got my camera bag mounted up front for easy access while on the trail.

Hyalite Rear Panniers Before Trip  (7 of 7)

It’s such a short trip, extended into way more days than needed, but I’m so pumped to get into the mountains and chill for the weekend! See you Sunday!

 

Saddles. It’s a trial and error sorta game.

If you say, “I want one of those BIG, WIDE, SOFT, GEL, seats because I ain’t gonna have no sore bottom!” I get pretty frustrated. Especially if you are road biking or mountain biking. Recreational cruisers are a different story. But there is no doubt THIS, is worse for you than THIS. Call me crazy, here is why.

Simply put, you’re squishing all your sensitive muscles and surrounding nerves riding a thickly padded/wide seat. Your anatomy is designed to support your weight relying on your sit bones. Not your muscles. Over a long ride you are going to find your butt sore because they are tense from trying to give your body a solid platform of which to drive power off of.

But don’t let me get ahead of myself here, as anyone begins riding on a more anatomically designed/thin saddle, you will no doubt be sore at first. There is the potential for your bones and surrounding muscles to become slightly bruised on long rides and unfortunately you have to suck it up and get use to it. Generally, it should go away after you ‘acclimatize’ your butt. (hehe) Don’t give up, your body will adapt!

Having a saddle which your sit bones are issued the main weight also relieves pressure off of ‘sensitive areas’, and allows proper blood flow to all areas contacting the seat. (Wait Paul! I’m confused, you say its a saddle, then you call it a seat. Are they the same thing? Well plain and simple, I believe a seat is something you rest your lazy butt on, a saddle is a cockpit made for you to work your ass off.) So yes, a thin, narrower saddle is better. At least for the enthusiast through professional rider.

Note* Big seats are just fine on beach cruisers because you shouldn’t realistically be riding more than 4-5 miles at a relaxed speed. I’m referring to cyclist who are going on 15-60 mile training rides, or workouts.

Most of the time serious riders just have to guess which saddle might be good, try something out, and either be happy, or try something else. It’s a personal preference to what you will end up liking the best. Trial and error. I think it comes down to an educated guess.

So it is my encouragement to new riders to not just buy a saddle because it looks way more comfortable with it’s extra padding, you’re literally kicking yourself in the butt. There’s so much more about saddles I could talk on but for now, you know why my seat looks so uncomfortable, and you hopefully people will stop asking me if my butt hurts after I ride.

My MTB race saddle, has nice narrow nose, and a nice bit of flex to the frame.

 

Easy Peasy

Its been too long since I’ve gone bike packing. (Like backpacking but traveling with bicycles) It was last september, my fellow coworkers and I took a weekend to explore the Green Brier River Trail in West Virginia. Yes thats right, WEST Virgina, where the inbred zombies lurking in the forrest play banjos and like to feed on stupid college students who took a wrong turn…

This year we are head up not as far, but still in Virginia To the New River Trail. Both of these are Rails to Trail Parks, where old railway paths have been converted into very long greenways. Another familiar one is the Virginia Creeper Trail. Considering railways never have steeper inclines than about 1 percent grade, these trails make for an awesome and easy day of pedaling. Last September we did 180 miles of this flat terrain. I prefer the longer distances, but this time it will only be 114mi, or 183 Kilometer. Yeah, I like how that sounds better.

So it will be a relaxing trip for me. Not so sure about the other guys, they seem to be a bit overwhelmed at 45miles (72km) for the first day. So to try and even it out a bit I’ve decided to take my single speed. They can use those shifty things which apparently make life easier.

One trouble Im currently investigating is what to bring to eat. On my past adventures/camping I’d take tons of pasta, ramin noodle, baguettes and literally gluten everything. So it will be interesting to see what I can come up with for three days, non refrigerated meals that wont bore me to death.

And on that note, I think I’m nearing my forth week of Gluten freeness. This trip will be good to see how badly my Joints will flair up. Fingers crossed.

Gluten?

For the past 4-5 years I’ve struggled with an inevitable sharp/stabbing pain in my Hip(s). Lasting for weeks at a time, the pain isn’t really like any other pain I can specifically relate it to. It’s always confused me SO much and the cause of it has been the mystery for that past few years. While it might go away for a few months at a time, it can sometimes come on harshly and stay for multiple weeks, constraining me from walking comfortably, or being able to move with assurance. This also stops my cycling -_-

About a year ago we were able connect it to my cycling and figured that it was over worked/very tight muscles induced through excessive cycling. Physical therapy seemed like it was helping, but to no end the pain would come back after just a few rides.

Lots of stretching, Yoga, physical therapy, chiropractic care, none of these were solving any problems.

Last month I decided to take the next step beyond muscle related specialist and get an opinion from a orthopedic doctor. I wasn’t surprised to find out after a painstakingly expensive MRI that there was a heavy fluid build up and inflammation in my SI joint. This directly points to either EXCESSIVE overuse OR an rheumatism/ arthritis disease.

Sounds bad I guess but I couldn’t have been more happy to at least narrow this stupid problem down. The next step would be to see yet another specialist but due to Insurance, monies, blah blah not your problem; Ive decided to see if I can remedy this on my own and potentially see if there is an allergy or intolerance to something that I have that is causing this unexpected arthritis (or whatever) which is so abnormal for a 19 year old like myself.

I did my research, and other people have had rheumatic arthritis spur from gluten allergies. It randomly choses a spot in the body settle and devour your joints. I know gluten is terrible for anyone, and as of today more and more people are developing extreme and bizarre allergies to this majorly genetically modified grain.

So almost three weeks ago I stopped all gluten and have been clean as far as my knowledge. I plan to do this at least two months straight to completely cleanse my body of this sticky substance and see if there is any results, depending on how difficult it becomes, hopefully I’ll stay gluten free much longer as it’s really terrible for you anyways.

I can’t wait for the day that I’ve solved this more than irritating, incredibly deterring pain and can start training again. Its quite a long shot but I’m crossing my fingers on this one and ill just have to see how it goes. Until I can get blood tested and afford a specialist it will be NO GLUTEN FOR ME!

Ps: Also excluding GMO’s, heavy sugars, chemical stuff, and highly processed foods.

Successful Sunday

A little over 2 months ago some friends of mine found out about a competition at the White Water Center called, BYOB. Surprisingly, it’s not alcohol related, it was actually the Build Your Own Boat competition. Rules were simple, not to be over 10ft, all materials had to float, and no sharp objects. Immediately it was decided that we would collect as many used bicycle inner tubes as we could (We all work at a bike shop so this was no problem) and try to patch them and construct a raft to float of us down the White Waters most taunting channel of rapids. Yay!

Wait stop Paul! This blog is so-pose to be about bikes and stuff! Well inner tubes are close enough.

So over the pasts few months we collected every damn inner tube we took out of a bike. I’m fairly positive I had close to 600-700 pieces of useless, Chinese rubber packed in my car, at the shop, and over my garage floor. Not to be so useless very soon though! It also wasn’t till I had them all in my garage that I realized just how much business we do changing out tubes. Anyhow, it was more work trying to find every tiny puncture in those powdery little things and patch ’em than is was to swap a new one into a tire. Well worth the time spent though! A few weeks later, many man hours, some bamboo, and lots of boring construction deatils later, we had a boat. And it looked like it would float too.

one

two

three

Presto!

Wasn’t exactly as easy as the three steps like above shows, but we had a swell time figuring out how to go about it. Very rewarding too as many people at the competition were very impressed with our tube ingenuity. Most the rafting guides had their money on us as well.

Over 30 teams with their own home made boats and rafts showed up! We had plenty of competition in store for us, which I was glad of because I was kinda thinking there would be like five others who even knew about it. Many awesome rafts were seen, some that looked well made, some that were funny and themed and others that well… didn’t look safe.

You can kind of see the other ones here,

The goal of the competition was not only to make it down the comp channel in one piece, with your team members “mostly” hanging on, but there was also style points. Mostly consisting of costumes, themes and so forth. 50 total points could be given for style, and 50 for execution of the rapids. Also a bonus 5 if no-one fell out of the boat.

A few other contestants went before us, it was hard to see them go down, but you could pretty much tell what happened by hearing the crowds expression of very loud cheers, or very loud, OHHHH’s! Carnage was at large today. Our turn was up, and we went with the plan of paddle as hard as you possibly can and keep a tight grip. Keeping it straight would hopefully help too.

With the only test we had was plopping it in some static water and sitting on it, theres no other choice but to just go for it. And we did, and it was awesome, and we crushed it! Aced the two big drops no problems, and, oh well expect for a few people falling out, but they got right back in and continued crushing. We ended up with one of the fastest runs, which unfortunately wasn’t apart of the scoring, but it felt great to have never done white water rafting before.

Overall we got 50 points for making it down the entire channel in one piece, and 40 style points (Costumes will defiantly be in effect for next year). That put us just 5 points behind the 3 place finishers. Meh, not bad. Awesome way to spend a Sunday for sure, and check out the video of our run.

Oh Oh and I went mountain biking afterwards and it was hot! <– bike relation.

This not a real title

Well my first post is so pose-ably required in the setup process of WordPress. So let’s not get all excited my fanatic followers, because this is not a ‘real’ post. Although you can expect a genuine one soon.

So for now go away, I’ll be messing with different layouts and wouldn’t want to confuse anyone or have you see the embarrassingly bad ones.

Not a real ending.