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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #561 ·
Weather changes fast in Coquitlam. Last week, we had snow. Today, shirt-sleeve-and-shorts weather. I went for a ride in Bert Flinn and actually felt too hot in my long-sleeve jersey. Also felt exhausted, since I seem to be unable to grok the simple concept of working back into it.

Good session, though. Did everything except the small jump at the bottom of Jo-jo. I even did the rooty section at the bridge that normally freaks me out. Walking it a few times helped. I think I have the proper line nailed now.

All the locals are closed now, I think (haven't actually heard from Grouse). The COVID variants just have people too freaked out. I think it's just as well. I'm good with moving on to the summer sports.

I did my end-of-season navel-gazing a couple of posts up, so no need to revisit that. But I will say that I turned some kind of corner this year. I seemed to be stagnating for a while, but I've broken through that plateau, mainly due to working out technique issues that were holding me back. Next year, I'll be challenging myself on harder runs and higher speeds, as well as rougher terrain including moguls.

Meanwhile, for the MTB season, other than having gotten a bit out of shape I'm pretty much picking up where I left off. So I can look forward to some significant improvements this season. I've booked a Trek Dirt Series day for early summer, which will help significantly. And depending on how the pandemic thing goes in Whistler, I may take a day-lesson or two on downhilling. Granted it's not my preferred niche, but you still learn a lot of techniques on the downhill sessions that translate into cross-country biking.

And the new place is on the other side of the highway, which puts me closer to some of the trails that I haven't been bothering with because of distance. On the other hand, grizzlies tend to hang out more on the west side... grizzly encounter definitely no bueno. And pepper spray just adds spice.

Well, we'll see. It'll be an eventful summer one way or the other. I just hope it's one way and not the other, know what I mean?
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #562 ·
Definitely sad I didn't bring my bike to Whis. Mid-April is when you can start riding the valley trails.

On the other hand, I'm so sore by the end of the day from all the humping boxes around and cleaning, I'm not sure I'd be able to get my leg over my bike. 😢

Next time, we get professionals.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #563 ·
Updates

Well, we're more or less moved into the new place, and we have an accepted offer on the old place (still a few subjects on it). So things are looking good from that point of view. In addition, my new bike has arrived at Trek. Not in time for me to pick it up, but that's okay. I have the EX 8 up here, so I'll probably go for a ride today if the weather doesn't go to shit.

And that's the bad news. We seem to be in a blech weather cycle right now. Basically a solid week forward of clouds and rain in both Whistler and Coquitlam. So no getting away from it.

Meanwhile, the snow is melting at a frightening rate on Blackcomb. I honestly don't see how Vail could have kept skiing open until May 24th. Of course this means that downhill biking could be ready to go soon, assuming they were allowed to open soon.

Shoulder season. Waiting for everything. Sigh.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #564 · (Edited)
158220


New bike. The gear whorage continues into the off-season.

I took it for its first ride today. It definitely feels lighter than the 8, and by more than the 2 pounds that the specs indicate. Weird. But it feels great. Good braking, solid shifting, and the suspension is really accommodating. I'm probably going to end up bringing it up to Whistler when the lock-down is over, but for now I can enjoy it in Coquitlam.

I've gotten in 13 days of riding now in 2021, which is pretty damned good. My riding is also already better than I ended with last season, so even damned better. Once the weather gets dependable enough, I hope to really make good progress this year. It'll help as well that the Lost Lake trails will be open all season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #565 · (Edited)
I've done two days of rides, Tuesday and today. Both really felt good. I'm still being a little careful, not attacking the hardest runs that I was doing last year. Right now, I'm still more worried about getting my conditioning back into condition. I am still a little short on wind, but I'm concentrating on stand-up pedalling, and so far it feels like I'm doing better than last year. I've also found myself doing short sprints where I wouldn't have before. All in all, very happy with how it's going.

I've got 16 rides in so far in 2021, compared to 19 by this point in 2020--which surprised me. But apparently I did a lot of cycling in April of 2020, compared to a handful last month. Probably to do with weather--this April was kind of crap. But from here on, I'm all in.

Today I added a lap on Starz in the Bert Flinn trails, so I ended up hitting the skinnies at the bottom of Jo-Jo twice. Aced them both, both times. I think the practice on driveway ramp strips going up Lansdowne is making a huge difference. I also charged through the root garden on Hett Creek. That feature might be about to become routine. The only things I'm still having trouble with are drops. There are two--one at the bottom of Jo-Jo, and one on the Starz run. I'm not sure why I'm hesitating, other than simple cowardice. But I should be able to do them--I did them last year, many times. I just need to break the ice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #566 · (Edited)
Yesterday I did Bert Flinn trails and added the bottom part of Backyard Bikes--the one that dumps onto Ioco road. It's the first time I've tried that segment, and overall I'm very happy with my handling of the trail. It's significantly harder than the upper parts, both narrower and with more drops, roots, and rocks. I dabbed once and got off my bike twice, but even in those two cases I think I could handle it with some time to review the stretch of trail. Overall, it's about the same level as No Horses, which means I could now handle all of No Horses.

Now, the bad news. I way overdid it yesterday, both in terms of pushing my pace and by climbing all the way from Newport village to David. Last night I was so sore I kept waking up, and that was with Advil. I'm not sure what I'll do today. One option would be to go to the grassy field and practice techniques instead. Another would be to take a rest day.

I'll be bringing my new EX 9.8 up to Whistler and returning my EX 8 to Coquitlam. I'll also need to take the 8 in for a service. There are a lot of noises coming from it, and they make me nervous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #567 ·
Excellent day in Whistler yesterday. I did the full route -- Fountain of Love, Pinocchio's Furniture, Dwarf Nebula, Zoot Allures, Toads of the Short Forest, Gee I Like Your Pants, Son of Mr Green Genes, and Jellyroll Gumdrop. I even did that 180 degree ladder bridge on Pinocchio that's been terrifying me. I dabbed several times, at places that I generally have trouble. I'll want to session those spots eventually to figure out the best attack strategy. I also dropped my rear tire off a short ladder bridge on Dwarf Nebula, which kind of surprised me. It's a straight bridge, so it must have just been carelessness. No harm, though.

My fitness is coming back, and my weight is coming down. Both too slowly for my liking. I just have to keep at it. OTOH, that can be hard to do the way the weather keeps changing. Yesterday was gorgeous, but today is low overcast and raining. The next couple of days are weather soup, so who knows if I'll get another opportunity while I'm up here. Oh, well, I did come up to get some work done for the move, so maybe it's for the better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #568 ·
Back in Coquitlam today. I did a Bert Flinn ride, and added the first half of North Starz to the mix. I'm still dabbing here and there, especially on North Starz which has some very technical steep, switchy climbs. But I'm also doing all my trails faster. The weird-ass leaning technique that I used to find so offensive actually works, in that it shortens your turning radius and allows you to get the bike way over without committing your upper body.

I managed to get the cadence sensor on to the 9.8, and I added a handlebar mount for the Garmin. I'm going to try putting the phone holder back on at the top of the steering stem. I really don't like the Rockbros bike bag on the 9.8. I'm not sure what the problem is, but it's probably geometry. The bag just seems a lot more in the way on this bike.

The 8 is in the shop. The guy thinks most of the noise is just joints that need to be lubed and tightened. He'll take the front fork and stem apart just to be sure, though. He also says I need a new cassette, chain, and possibly chainstay. The cassette is $370. Yeesh. But I knew this was coming. The tech in Maple Ridge warned me last fall that it was coming up on needing to be replaced. I'm just surprised that I've used the 8 so much more than the 7 that the 8's cassette wore out first.

This also makes me wonder if I should be selling the 7. I need a bike in Whis and a bike here, and a spare for when I bugger one of them up. OTOH, I've been eyeing the 9.8 NX, which uses SRAM parts instead of Shimano. Yes, I am a gear whore. But the difference between the XT and NX is just the brand of the shifting and braking bits, so it would be really cool to be able to compare them that way. And the 8 could become my spare, and the 7 could go.

Last thing, and a note to myself--I'm able to lift the front tire pretty good these days. Manuals are becoming easier. But I still need to learn to lift the rear tire before I can have any hope of doing bunny hops. I need to make a point of practicing a rear-wheel lift a couple of times per ride. It's what got the manuals going, it should work for this as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #569 · (Edited)
Normally I wouldn't update this frequently, but honestly I'm improving day by day right now. There's a rock between the two short bridges on the Bert Flinn Loop that I've started riding over this season. Except today I started using it as a jump ramp. I'm getting actual air. And today I did the drop at the bottom of Jo-Jo's for the first time this season.

And I've finally tried the rock roll on North Starz. It isn't a big or nasty roll, but the run-out is really short and the obvious fall-line doesn't point at the way out, instead runs you into the trees. So unless I can find a slightly different line, I'm always going to really have to be on my brakes quickly at the bottom of the roll. Something to work on.

And last, today I blasted through Hett Creek at speed, standing all the way. I'm really feeling good so far this season.

That is all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #570 ·
I'm back up in Whistler with the EX 9.8. I went for a ride this morning, trying to squeeze in some time between the overnight showers and the expected afternoon showers. I mostly nailed it, although the wind was a little scary. It felt at times like there was a real biblical storm coming--there was even the occasional howling wind noise. So far, as I write this, it seems to have backed off a little.

The BC government has announced their post-pandemic plan. Wisely, they've tied it to deliverables rather than committed dates, i.e. we'll move to step 2 when first-shot immunization reaches 60% and hospitalizations continue to trend down. Same for steps 3 and 4. So if people start jumping the gun and things go pear-shaped, we don't advance and maybe even go back a step. That might, just might, register with the morons who think this is all just a plot to inconvenience them.

But the immediate upside is that travel within health authority boundaries is okay without an excuse. Step 2 will allow travel within BC, but that's less interesting to me. Whistler has announced that they will be opening up things as of May 31st, including getting the bike park going. Sadly no lessons last time I looked, but that could change. And there are always the several third-party coaching companies.

Meanwhile, I still have my Trek Dirt Series booking at the end of July to look forward to. Although at this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'll have advanced past the level I registered for by that time. No, seriously. I did two hours this morning which included the full blue trail-line, and whereas I wouldn't say it's 'routine' just yet, it's certainly damned close. I'm still dabbing here and there, but about half the time I sessioned those spots and nailed them within 2-3 attempts. There's just that one rock outcropping about 2/3 of the way along Pinocchio that's still kicking my ass, and I bet I can successfully session that if put my mind to it.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm breathing down Blake Samson's neck or anything like that. I'm still a low-intermediate rider, and blacks still give me trepidation. But I've passed that cusp in progression where you have accumulated enough skills that they start building on each other. I'm by no means fearless, but I at least can go into new situations with the expectation that I will come out alive, if I'm careful. And interestingly I hit that same cusp in my snowboarding last season. Odd. I think it simply comes down to having enough time to spend on my obsessions hobbies. Which comes back to my mantra: nothing ups your game like time on the hill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #571 ·
(copied from forum post)

The BC Gov't has loosened up on COVID restrictions, and Whistler has announced they'll be opening the bike park May 31st (if all goes well). First, woo-hoo because mountain bikers in the bike park are mountain bikers not on the trails (more for me). Second, woo-hoo++ because it looks like they'll be doing group lessons after all. I'd been hoping to get a few downhill lessons this year as the skills translate pretty well into trail-riding.

It looks like they'll be enforcing the health-region limitations until June 15th, so this'll be a strictly locals-only thing for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #572 · (Edited)
I did a Bert Flinn ride today. Did all the usuals plus North Starz. Also did all the features, including the rock roll. That roll isn't a problem for me any more in terms of fear or capability, but it really is poorly laid out. It's almost impossible to go down it and aim at the exit, so you really do have to hammer on the brakes as soon as you're down. I'll probably keep doing it sometimes, but I'm not going to consider it a required feature.

I did the drop at the bottom of Jo-Jos again, and the root garden at the bottom of Hett Creek. So those can be considered more or less routine now. There was a tree down on the climb up Lower Backyard Trail just before it intersects Parkside Drive. I tried to move it but no joy. I'll have to do a report on Trailforks and hope they clean it up.

I continue to dab here and there, but that's mostly a combination of not being totally back up to snuff and not being totally back into shape. I had one scary moment though, on Hett Creek just above the root garden. I'm still not sure what happened, although I think it involved my front wheel, but I suddenly found myself aimed to the side of the trail pointed right at a large rock. I hit the binders and it was all good, but WTF?

Anyway, the most significant event of the day was that I forgot my water bottle. The swearing was epic and inventive. No, scratch that, it was kind of repetitive, actually. But definitely heartfelt. The takeaway though is that I really have to create and post up a checklist, because I still am managing to forget something almost every time.

And the EX 8 is definitely heavier than the 9.8. I can feel it.

On that subject, I got the 8 back from Trek after they did the level 1 service. Makes a huge difference.

So anyway, progress continues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #573 ·
Whistler day today, and the first day of Whistler Downhill Bike Park. And man, did it show. People started lining up at 8am (opens at 10). By the time I visited the village on my way to my ride, the maze was full and the line snaked around Carleton Lodge on the way to Spaghetti Factory. I took a couple of pictures, but they don't really do it justice.

I did my usual trails, except I went down The Torture Never Stops and Disco Boy, then came back around Tin Pants to get to Fountain of Love. It worked quite well, and may form my new routine when I'm doing that line.

I made a point of sessioning every dab today, even if it took multiple attempts to clean. I even managed the two rock outcroppings that have been eluding me, on Dwarf Nebula and near the end of Pinocchio's Furniture. I'm definitely taking trails faster, and more often standing up. Which both fortunately and unfortunately is killing me, wind-wise.

I still haven't started doing that rock roll at the top of the dome on Toads of the Short Forest. I think I'd like to wait until things are a little busier, just in case I mess up. Paranoid? Maybe.

Some guy caught up to me on Pinocchio, and I let him by because first, he caught up to me, and second, I was sessioning things. However, I found myself catching up to him several times over the course of the runs, and he was walking a fair number of features. Most of the same stuff that has freaked me out in the past, as a matter of fact. It felt like it validated my learning experiences.

So, as mentioned earlier, Whistler is doing downhill lessons this year after all. But after discussion with my wife, I've decided that I won't attempt a lesson or any downhilling until 2 weeks after my second shot. Since the Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been approved for a 1-month extension to its expiry, they'll be working extra-hard to get them all used up. Bodes well for my chances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #574 · (Edited)
Second Whistler day, and second day of Whistler bike park. Yesterday they started lining up at 8am. Today, I rode by just a little after 9am and there was no-one. So I guess there was some opening-day-frenzy in play yesterday. As I write this (early afternoon), there's only one lane of the maze full of bikers. And this is a beautiful day, better than yesterday, so WTF? I guess everyone took a long weekend yesterday or something.

Anyway, on to my morning. I decided to do White Gold Traverse this morning. First time this year, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I did better than I could have hoped. Didn't dab even once all the way down to the bridge at the exit of Jellyroll Gumdrop. Then I rode Hookender back up to Molly Hogan, and took my first try of the year at Grand Wazoo.

Yyyyyeahhhhh... That didn't go quite so well. First, I did a lot of dabbing, because there are a lot of spots on Grand Wazoo that you have to get just right in order to have any hope of getting through. There's also that short bridge at the top of the hill that I honestly haven't figured out how to attack yet. By the time I get to it, I have pretty much zero momentum left, and I really don't feel like trying to power my way across a narrow ladder bridge. But the coup de grace was when I fell off the downhill side of a long bridge. Yep. Right over the edge, bike going sideways. Fortunately it was only about a three-foot drop, and I managed to partially dismount before I hit. Although I did put a foot in some shallow swamp. Ew! The problem was that I'd gone onto the bridge in too low a gear and couldn't keep my momentum going. But I went back and cleaned the bridge right away, otherwise I'd have probably ended up with a mental block about it.

Other than that one spill, it was a great morning. I'd like to be able to ride every day this week, but I think Friday may be going downhill, weather-wise. We'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #575 ·
So I've now gone riding four days in a row, and should be able to get a fifth in tomorrow before the afternoon rain settles in. I continue to session any obstacles that give me grief, and it's really helping. Although I'm worried about starting a forest fire with the swearing. I'm not what you'd call philosophical when it's not going well :cautious:. I'm trying to keep my bike rides to a minimum of two hours, as that seems to be about the point where I really feel it the rest of the day. Strangely, my weight's been going up for the last several days, although my girth is going down. So maybe more muscle mass? Would be nice. I am stand-up-pedaling a lot more, which I would think contributes to that. I'm standing up for all of Son of Mr. Green Genes, for instance, and even pedaling to get up speed.

Interestingly, I've discovered that it's possible to enter my weight into the Garmin Connect app after every ride, although I don't seem to be able to go back and enter previous rides. Not sure if I'll make use of that or not. The Notes file on my phone seems to be good enough for my purposes.

I did the rock roll at the top of the rock dome on Toads today. First time this season. It's actually an easier feature than the one on North Starz, despite being higher, longer, and made mostly of rock. It's because of the ride-out--it's much easier on Toads.

I think I'm going to try No Horses tomorrow if the weather stays dry long enough. It'd be nice to add that to my routine.

Eventually I want to get into that whole Why Johnny Can't Read to Grand Wazoo course as well. I remember that whole run as being a real ass-kicker. And I do want to work up some variety. I think, of all the Lost Lake trails, I only have Muffin Man, Central Scrutinizer, and Treacherous Cretins left to explore. And all the fire roads, of course. Maybe the Trek Dirt Series course this July will give me some other options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #576 · (Edited)
I did an abbreviated ride today, because it started raining at about the one-hour point. If I had rain gear I might consider staying out longer, but in a T and sunglasses it just doesn't work.

Still a good session, though. I did some of the usuals for warmup, then at Pinocchio I turned off onto No Horses. I bobbled a bit in places, but I didn't get off my bike for any of it. That felt damned good.

Heading back home today, so this was my last Whistler ride. But I'll be back next week for a day or two, as we're getting new blinds installed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #579 · (Edited)
Weather roulette continues in both Coquitlam and Whistler. Rain, wind, sun, cloud, rain, cloud, rain, sun, rain... sometimes rain and sun at the same time o_O. I was up in Whistler for a very short time--just long enough to find out the blinds guy had to cancel. That was okay, the weather was crap anyway. I got back to Coquitlam, dropped the 9.8 off for its complimentary tune, and went to Bert Flinn on the 8.

I finally got around to trying out the Garmin heartrate chest strap with the Garmin bike computer. Unsurprisingly, they are compatible. Having the chest strap adds a shit-ton of new stats to the Garmin recording, including breaths-per-minute, which was a total surprise. I'm going to have to spend some time analyzing. My heart rate is surprisingly high, and consistently so. I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure I'm out of the zones for my age bracket. Not sure if that's good or bad.

So the big news for today--I did my first bunny hop. It wasn't high, or particularly good, but I definitely lofted the bike. It was that rock on the loop trail that I'm always jumping. Up until now, I've been manualing the front tire then just letting the back tire bash over it, but today I cleared with both tires. Of course I couldn't do it again to save my life, which is pretty typical. But it's a start.

It was hella wet today after all the recent rain, and I did a lot of root-zipping. But I only had to do a dab-save once. On the other hand, I spun several times when I lost traction, but that's not the same IMO.

All in all, a damn fine day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #580 ·
Another Bert Flinn day yesterday, but it didn't really go well. Part of the problem was that it was wet as hell after several days of rain, but I was determined to get out there and get some exercise. Unfortunately zippy roots and boggy soil caused a lot of spinning and dabbing. I failed on almost every steep climb. I think I was also suffering aftereffects from my second AZ shot, though. I just felt tired and heavy, and ran out of breath even quicker than normal. I ended up truncating the ride. Still got exercise, though, and I have to remind myself that that's my main reason for biking.

On a more positive note, I did another successful bunny hop over that same rock on the Loop trail. Then I failed on the next two attempts, actually losing a pedal on one of them. I know what I should be doing, and I know what I'm doing when I screw it up. The goal is to push the handlebars forward to rotate the bike around the pedals. I have to avoid any motion that will tend to make me unweight the pedals. It's just practice, but I think I'm going to have to dedicate some time to it on the grassy field.

I've looked into the max heart rate thing, and based on my reading your max heart rate isn't just some arbitrary number, but is the actual maximum rate at which your heart should be able to beat at your age. So if I am able to go over my putative max, then by definition it's not my max heart rate. That's not to say it's a good idea, but it does mean I don't have to religiously avoid going into the 150's. There's a lot of argument about whether or not you can increase your max through fitness or exercise, but there at least seems to be a consensus that the max varies by individual. Given all this, I will pay attention to what my Garmin is saying, but I won't panic the moment I go into my zone 5.

As mentioned above, I got my second jab on Thursday, so in two weeks I can think about booking that downhill lesson. I'm not going to book it until much closer to the day, though, as I want good weather for my first time. Based on what I'm seeing on the Whistler website, you can pretty much book right up until the day before. I will probably also want to stick to a Mon-Thur booking, given the usage patterns this year.

Meanwhile, Junuary has settled in, and we have nothing but crap weather off into the indefinite future, both here and in Whistler. Yeehah.
 
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