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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #581 ·
Updates...

First, I got my EX 9.8 back today. Unfortunately, It's not completely fixed. They've had to order a new chainstay assembly. Apparently the hole where the wheel bearing goes in is just a little too big and the bearing moves around. Fortunately it's under warranty. I have to say, so far my experience with Trek has been all very positive.

I went for a ride today on the EX 7--first time I've taken it out since I did the level 3 service. It rode well, no noise, etc. Unfortunately, it's still an EX-7, which includes a 42-tooth first gear. That's about third on my 8 and 9.8. Mostly that was okay, just threw me off a little with the shifting, but there are a couple of spots on North Starz in particular where I really need that low second gear. I didn't even try Backyard Bikes.

I did however do a couple of good jumps, a couple of not bad bunny hops, and I aced the skinnies and the drops. I had to session a couple of features, but no biggie.

I also paid close attention to my heartrate, and I think the posts on MTBR forum are right--you can't take the zone ranges and the max heart rate calculation too literally. I used the new Wahoo Tikrfit that I bought recently. It goes around your upper forearm either on the inside or outside. I think it could use a stretchy armband, but it works. It also measures breaths per minute which really surprised me. I can understand how the chest strap does that, but your forearm?

Anyway, I now have two chest straps and a forearm strap. Good for one in each location and a spare. I just have to decide if I want to use a chest strap or armband.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #582 · (Edited)
We're in the middle of a dry spell and mini heat wave in the Lower Mainland right now, which means riding every day if I want to. Honestly, I'm not sure if that's the best idea though. My Garmin has a whole bunch of new training functionality with the latest firmware upload, and one of the things it does now is tell me how hard I worked out relative to my fitness level, and how long I should rest to recuperate. I tend to view those things as overly conservative, but even if I don't do 72 hours of recovery, taking a day off is not a terrible idea--especially if I have stuff to do.

Anyway, I took yesterday off after several days of hard sessions (for me), and damned if I didn't notice a difference in my aerobic capacity. I do have to be careful here, because I also tend to do better with early morning rides, and this could be nothing more than that. Still, it was nice to get to the top of the Backyard Bikes steep climb and just be somewhat winded instead of about to fall over. So fitness-wise, I'm doing well. My weight continues to decrease, along with my waistline. All good.

Today's ride was significant in other ways, as well. Mostly good. First, I did an absolutely flawless bunny hop over my favorite bunny-hop rock. Cleared it completely. As usual, I couldn't duplicate it, but even my flubs are better now.

Second, my manuals clicked--at least the front-wheel-lifting part. I'd watched a video yesterday by a guy who was just learning to manual and something he said clicked with me. I tried it, and it worked. Essentially, think of a rowing motion when in the pulling-back part of the lift. That works for me. It works to the point where I really have to work on my rear-wheel lifts now, because that's the part that's blocking me from full-on at-will bunny hops.

And the last thing today (and not a good one), I did an OTB on North Starz. I had just finished cleaning the whole climb at the beginning of North Starz right up to the rock roll--including that really stupid ladder bridge--so I was feeling pretty cocky. As I went down the trail after the rock roll, there's a rock jutting up to form a small kicker that I usually go around. Instead I decided at the last moment to give it a try. Of course I screwed the pooch on un-weighting my front wheel, came down nose-heavy, went OTB and landed in the bushes. I got a small scrape on my cheek (face, not butt) and got covered in leaves, dirt, and dead insects, but I was otherwise okay. Turns out I can still do a pretty good shoulder roll.

Actually, my third and fourth fingers on my right hand are a little sore, but they don't appear to be broken. Probably just hyperextended the joints a little. The other thing that was interesting was that both my watch and my Garmin activated their incident detection systems. I had to cancel both or my wife would have gotten a call. Eep! Good to know, though.

I rode a little more conservatively after that, and in fact my ride stats are down a little for today. But it's still exercise, and it's still fun.
 

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But it's still exercise, and it's still fun.
This has become a bit of a mantra for myself. Especially after really slow/boring days at work I tend to go out trying to burn off some energy, lift my mood and at least achieve something for the day. When things don't go quite to plan instead of letting myself feel a little defeated, hey I still got outside, did some exercise, and had fun. That's always a win!
 
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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #584 ·
We're well into our heat wave now. I'm sure places like Arizona would laugh at us, but for Lower Mainlanders this is like a preview of hell. It still beats steady rain, though.

I'm taking the day off, partly because I think I'm due for a rest day. I was really sore yesterday after my ride. It didn't seem like a particularly hard one, but it was a little longer because I did an extra lap of Black Dog. But whatever. It's hot, it's a Saturday so the trails will be packed, so what the hell.

It looks like we won't be able to get up to Whistler for another week due to family issues. Normally that wouldn't matter that much either way, as I have a lot of good riding I can do around here. But I've been wanting to book that Beginners Downhill thing, and the weather is cooperating right now.

July 16th is approaching, which is my Trek Dirt Series course day. Trek will be getting the part in for my 9.8, so I'll be dropping it off on the 6th. That means I can use the 9.8 on my course. Cool beans!

Not much new news on the actual riding front, really. I continue to improve, my weight continues to go down. My new goal is to successfully jump that kicker on North Starz that sent me OTB. Incremental strategy applies. For now I'm just rolling it. I also want to start using the Starz Line trail entrance again. There are a couple of features in upper Starz that I should be starting to hit.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #585 ·
The temps are coming down to something reasonable for June, as of today. I went for a ride this morning and was able to do the whole course. My Garmin wasn't, though. For some reason my Garmin kept self-activating selections, as if a phantom hand was poking at it. I ended up with only half of my ride recorded. Not a fatal issue in the long term, of course. The most important thing is that I show myself having ridden on the calendar. But still, WTF?

I'm continuing to have dabbing issues on a couple of spots on North Starz and on the Black Dog connector. This morning I got angry and walked back the bike to session the connector and got it the second time. I think what's causing my problems is a tendency to slow down in the more technical sections if I start to lose my line. When I just bull ahead at speed and bash over things, I actually do better. :sneaky:

I think I need to take a break though and work on my bunny hop components for an entire session. Front wheel lifts, rear wheel lifts, and then bunny hop. I'm really like that close. I can do them, but not dependably.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #586 ·
Eeeeeeeek!

Met another bear today, this time on the North Starz trail. Or maybe it was the same bear as last fall. Definitely as fat.

But neither of us was happy about it. He went his way and I went mine.

Oh, and of course I didn't have my camera. 💩
 

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Discussion Starter · #587 ·
Not much hugely new. I've gone on a couple of rides using the EX 7 while the 9.8 was in the shop getting the swing arm replaced. Took a bit of getting used to, but I can do pretty much everything on the 7. Interestingly, I'm finding some things are actually easier with the 7's limited gearing. That tells me I'm gearing down too low on some features. Huh. What I really miss on the 7 though are the bell (!) and the cadence sensor. Of the two, I miss the bell more. I've become quite used to dinging people as I approach.

I'm also finding I get a lot more left-hand tingle on the 7. Not sure if that's a configuration issue or if I'm just squeezing the handlebars harder.

I did an absolutely perfect bunny hop today, the kind I wish I had on video. I'm still flubbing some, but my percentage is way up. I'm also much better with tail lifts, and may be ready to combine them soon.

There seems to be some kind of kids' mountain biking program going on in Bert Flynn. I've met several gaggles of kids being led around by a couple of adults. This morning I ran into a group at the bottom of the rock garden section on Jo-Jo. That's pretty narrow down there, and typical kids didn't think they really needed to move over. Grrrrr.

Anyway, my good bike is back, so things should go back to relatively normal now. My next problem is deciding if I want to bring the 9.8 up to Whistler for the Trek Dirt Series day. If I do, I'll need another of those expensive Kryptonite locks.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #588 ·
I added a lap onto my course today by going through the Starz line before Jo-Jo. It was fun, interesting, and I kinda got lost a time or two. There are a lot of interconnecting trails in there. I even ended up turned around and found myself going back up a trail at one point. But the extra effort really made me feel the session. I think I'm going to start mixing in some different Starz lines, and maybe do the Backyard Bikes trail instead of Hett Creek from time to time.

I did have a couple of minor milestones today. First, I managed that entire first climb on North Starz and didn't have to rest at the top. Second, when crossing Parkside Drive on the Hett Creek trail run, I was able to climb the curb cleanly using a manual/rear wheel lift. This sounds like a very minor thing, but it's one step short of a full bunny hop up. Meanwhile I continue to bunny hop my rock on the loop, but I'm starting to get sloppy with it. I need to spend a session just doing bunny hops--and maybe manuals and wheelies and stuff. Maybe on one of my 'rest' days I'll just do an easy session in the park.

I'm now working on the Heritage Blvd climb in 4th gear. I can make it about halfway before I have to shift down. But a little better every day.

Looking forward to the Trek Dirt Series day this week and being in Whistler for a few days next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #589 ·
I did the Trek Dirt Series session on Friday. It followed the same format as the last time--morning session on a grassy field practicing techniques, and an afternoon session on the trails. This time, the morning session was at Myrtle field, and the afternoon session was on a couple of trails on the west side--Old 99er and Danimal. The camp was interesting, all in all, but ultimately disappointing. The two items I wanted more than anything else to work on were drops and jumps. And the two items we didn't cover were drops and jumps.

I should qualify that a bit. They had some jump ramps in the morning session for practicing technique. That would have been perfect for me, but we ran out of time before our group got to them. So no jumps. We did some drop practice off of boxes, but I've done that before and it was meh at best. I wanted to practice drops to a downslope and there was nothing like that. So I'm disappointed in the morning session.

The afternoon was a bit of an ass-kicker, though. First, we had to ride uphill quite a distance to get to the first trail, Old 99er. Then another uphill ride to get to Danimal. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but I've been wondering if I'd be able to handle climbs for something like Seymour or Burke Mtn. I feel a lot more confident of that now.

Second, those two trails are blacks, and deservedly so. The features on them are scary as hell, and in fact I went around one of the rock rolls. Not because of the rock roll itself--I'd have done it if it had a better run-out. Not even because of the run-out either, really. The problem was that the run-out did a sharp right turn and on the other side was a vertical drop, so the consequence of failure would be a 20-30 foot fall. Sorry, no. I'm too aware of consequences to take on something like that.

Anyway, like I said, black diamond trails. Rocky, rooty, bumpy, droppy, climby, with narrow passages and sharp corners. And other difficult features. I feel pretty good about how I did, though. I was in a very similar position to when I started the harder blues in Bert Flinn and Lost Lake trails--I can ride the trail, but may have to walk some features, and probably will dab a lot. So I'll probably start picking occasional blacks to try out here and there.

Oh, and one last thing. Mosquitos. Holy fuck, they were everywhere. I'm covered in bites. I hate mosquitos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #590 · (Edited)
A few thoughts on the Trek bike camp, now that I've had a day or two to think about it...

Like that private snowboarding lesson with Marius a few years ago, the most valuable takeaway from the Trek camp is that my form needs work. I became really aware of it on today's run. In situations where I should be in attack position, I tend to shift back on the bike way too much and way too soon. This usually results in me going over a drop or rock with straight arms, and that results in a head-rattling pull from the handlebars. My attack position has to be more forward and lower, with arms still bent, rather than sitting behind the seat getting wheel-burn on my ass. When I made a point of doing it properly today, I didn't get the neck-wrenching pull on the drop. In addition, I went over the rock roll at the top of Toads with this in mind, and didn't have a catastrophe. So lesson learned, although I'll be practicing it for quite a while before it becomes automatic.

Today was a hard session in that I really pushed myself. I ended up with a 2:40 total time instead of my usual less-than-two-hour outings. And my Garmin says I 'overreached', which just means I worked hard enough to push myself into out-of-breath rest breaks. There were a freak-load of bike classes today, all with little kids. And what do little kids have in common with dogs? Neither has any concept of sharing the trail. The instructors did their best to get the kids to move over, but it's an uphill battle.

I did the full No Horses today, although I had to session that really technical section 4-5 times before I got it. I'm going to try to make that trail a regular part of my route now. In addition, I'm going to try to work in Why Johnny Can't Read through Grand Wazoo. Eventually I'd like to be able to do a 2-3 hour session without duplicating any trails.

It's good to be back biking in Whistler, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #591 ·
Downhill biking

I did (or re-did) the beginner's lesson for Whistler downhill park today. There were only 2 of us in the class, which meant a lot of individual instruction.

It's funny, though. I remember it being harder. I think it's because I was just starting out with mountain biking in general when I did the lesson the first time, and everything was new. This time it was interesting, but there was never any feeling that I was in over my head. And that despite us ending up on B-Line, which is a blue flow trail with a little bit of light technical.

All in all, we did Easy Does It, Golden Triangle, and B-Line--multiple times in a few cases. But because it's a beginner lesson they stick to the flow trails, so mostly berms with some occasional rough stuff and a small tabletop or two. I never really had a problem with anything, and doing B-Line on my first day really rocked.

One small, minor irritation though. Myself and the other student were given enduro bikes rather than downhill bikes. I discussed it with our instructor, and it seems that non-downhill bikes are quite common, at least for the flowier trails and greens and blues in general. Not that it matters. I have my Santa Cruz for next time. But I could conceivably at some point in the future go for a bike ride and either start or end the day in the park.

All in all though, it's less physically demanding than trail-riding, at least from an aerobic POV. Isometrically, standing all the way down should be good for my snowboarding endurance. So there's that.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #592 ·
And second day

I went downhill biking again today. I wanted to do a second session as soon as possible after my lesson to help cement everything in my brain. Plus I wanted to finally try out my Santa Cruz DH bike.

The session went very well, overall. I did a number of greens and blues, and even ended up on A-Line for a very short stretch (eek!). I'm still a little tentative with berms, but a lot better than yesterday. I'm also hesitant about letting the Santa Cruz get off the ground, but toward the end of the session I was beginning to hop just a bit on tabletops.

I kept it short, maybe an hour and a half total. As with snowboarding in Whistler, the lines and lifts move fast enough that you don't really get a lot of chance to rest. By the end of the session my legs were sore but not screaming. My biggest issue, ironically, is riding the Santa Cruz to and from home, because of the seat height.

Anyway, my suppositions have been proven correct--mountain biking is a lot more aerobic, but DH is more of an isometric workout. This means that DH will actually be better for preparing me for snowboard season than MTB.
 
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