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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #681 ·
I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, so there are a few updates. First, the weather may finally have turned around. It's been nice the last couple of days, and it's mostly nice for the next 10 or so. A bit of short-term ugly around next Tuesday or Wednesday, but nothing major. I've now gone riding several days in a row, and it sure does feel good.

In most respects, I'm pretty much back up to where I left off last fall skills-wise, with one exception. I took a fall on the second skinny on Jo-Jo this spring, and now I'm freaked out by both skinnies. I'm going to have to bite the bullet and session them both until I'm over it. OTOH, I'm having no problem at all with the drop at the bottom of Jo-Jo (they've bermed it as well-bonus!) and I'm already rolling the big rock-roll at the top of North Starz.

The Whistler bike park has had a slow start because of the weather, and they just finally opened Garbanzo on Wednesday. And I use the word "opened" generously. There's like 3 or 4 runs open and you have to use connector roads a lot. But on the other hand, the weather predictors are for hot and sunny, so the snow might finally start disappearing.

On that subject, it's a bit ironic--I bought my park pass last year mid-July so that's when I started using the park. This year I bought it before opening, but to this point I've only been in the park once. And since I won't be back up to Whistler before the first week of July, looks like I'm running true to form. The only consolation is that I'm already mostly trained up, so won't be starting from scratch.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #682 · (Edited)
The weather looked like it was turning bad really quickly this morning, so I opted to go to the park with my jump kit instead of doing a normal ride. My jump kit consists of my GoPro Max and a tripod, and an adjustable hurdle which is usually for dog skills competitions, but is surprisingly ideal for practicing hops. The whole thing goes into a cheap duffel that I bought on Amazon and I can carry like a backpack.

Anyway, I spent about an hour at it and got lots of footage (wow, there's a doubly obsolete term). But the big takeaway is that I'm not getting low enough when pulling back on the manual part of the bunny hop. Simple as that. Nothing deep, nothing mysterious. Instead of going down and back, I'm kinda going down then back and up at an angle--and I don't even get that low on the initial pump. The consequence is that there's very little room for lifting the back tire during the second half of the hop. And sure enough, every time I knocked the bar off, it was with my back tire, which never went as high as the front.

So my homework for the next little while is manuals. Never mind practicing hops, 'coz I'm not doing them right anyway. Practice manuals. Do them slow to get the feel of where my butt should end up, then gradually speed them up. I can do videos of this in front of my garage, so quick setup.

Addendum: A little more info on the manual issues... first, I'm definitely going back up at an angle with my butt, which dilutes the pull. Second, I'm not letting my arms go straight, which means I'm stopping the pull-back early. I need to work on doing the full down-then-back motion with my whole body and all the way back until my arms are straight.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #683 ·
I've had a pretty good week or so for rides, with the weather having suddenly turned into actual summer. Of course yesterday and today we're back to 'normal', but I think that might just be a short-term glitch. Here's hoping.

I've definitely gotten my mojo back as far as stamina is concerned. I'm a little surprised though that I'm not losing more weight, considering that I'm combining good fitness with a much-improved diet. Might just be that I'm not consistent enough yet with the rides.

My major hurdle continues to be the skinnies down at the bottom of Jo-Jo. I am now officially psyched out by them, I think. Which is irritating mostly because I was doing them all last year while I was freaked out by the drop at the bottom of Jo-Jo and the rock roll at the top of North Starz. Both of which I'm now doing routinely :rolleyes:.

In related news, I had a spill the other day right at the top of Hett Creek. I mean literally on the first turn past the entrance. My front wheel rolled over a loose branch, front went that way, I went this way. On my way down, I distinctly remember seeing an approaching stump and thinking "I probably should avoid landing on that." Seriously, I actually feel like I had time to evaluate my landing, which is kinda impressive, really. Anyway, I deliberately didn't try to catch my fall to ensure that I'd hit the dirt before the stump instead of landing on it. It almost worked, but sideways motion still slid me into the stump. But that's still way better than landing on it. I took the impact in my kidney area, which is generally speaking not a good idea, but fortunately I have a lot of extra padding around the middle. And no, I don't mean armour. Anyway, I've got a godawful bruise, but nothing more than a little soreness otherwise. Just as well that the weather's crap right now, I guess.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #684 · (Edited)
So, a bunch of things to talk about. First, we're in Whistler right now for a few days. Second, I bought another bike. Fuck me, I've got a problem. This one is a Trek Session. Not the top end model--you can't find that to save your life. This is the mid-range aluminum frame unit. Still a good bike. I bought it because I've been having misgivings about my V10, mostly relating to brakes and handling. This gives me another perspective on how DHs behave.

Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket. Research. Yeah. ;)

Anyway, I took it for a ride yesterday. Second day in the bike park this year, and it's friggin' July now. They've finally opened Garbanzo, but I was talking to a guy yesterday and he said that the runs are in horrible shape. Apparently it takes longer for them to dry out higher up. Makes sense, I guess--they're closer to the snow melt.

The Session is a shorter bike than the V10. That's the first thing I noticed. I feel like I'm a lot closer to the handlebars when riding. I guess the V10 is either a bigger frame or it's incredibly slack. I actually feel safer on the V10 from that POV, but in terms of handling the Session definitely feels more nimble. I was very conservative on my jumps the first couple of runs, fearing an OTB if the rear suspension had been set up wrong, but no issues. So far, I like the bike.

Given the scare the other day with my fall into a stump (the bruise is wicked, BTW), I've decided to get serious about wearing all the armor I've bought over the years. One piece of good news is that it's fitting better than it used to. I went up yesterday with my Leatt armored jacket and padded undershorts. Didn't have to test them, thank dog, but I feel better for having them on.

I discovered that this year Whistler has put a drinking fountain in the singles line, so there's really not much reason to use the water bladders, except maybe on very hot days.

And it's busy, BTW. Weekend-level busy, even on weekdays. I only managed to get 4 runs in over a 2.5 hour period. And the Garmin app shows a bigger gap between each run as the morning progresses. The busyness seems to peak around noon, then peter off a bit, but it takes until midafternoon before it's back down to mid-morning levels. Around the peak, the singles line stretches right out of the maze and wraps around the ticket kiosk. I hope that's just temporary, but I have a bad feeling it's related to Creekside being closed this year.

Still, by the time I quit, my legs were pretty tired. I hope I can condition myself past that this season.

I'm going to be coming up again next week, since the weather predictors are looking pretty good. I need to get caught up on my session count.

Addendum: I measured the wait times in the line-up on my Garmin recording. They were: 11 minutes, 19 minutes, and 32 minutes. The 4th wait would have been longer, but I said screwit.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #685 ·
Rode the park today. First, omigod was it busy! I was up on second chair when they opened, but when I got to the bottom of my first run, the line-ups were already at what you'd expect around 11-11:30. Interestingly, the park crew has extended the singles line-up around the maze counter-clockwise so you enter closer to the lesson pavilions than the Blackcomb gondola base station. OTOH, by a little after 11 it was starting to die off a bit. Almost as if everyone decided to get some early laps in before it got too hot.

And not an unreasonable plan. I'm wearing my Garmin Fenix watch these days when doing the Whistler bike park, mostly because it records heart rate. I can't use the Wahoo arm strap or the Garmin chest strap with all the armour, so that's my only option. And truthfully, the Fenix is a pretty good item once you get used to the UI. Anyway, one of the fields I'm displaying on my main screen is temperature. And it was hitting 88+ F standing in the line-up. According to the session recording, I hit 99 F at some point in the morning. Yeesh.

So the big news is I finally tried Garbanzo and went down Blue Velvet. I gotta say, it's in rough shape. I don't know if that's early season wear because of all the runoff or what, but right now it feels like late, late season on B-Line.

It was my very first time on Blue Velvet, so I rode extremely conservatively. Scrubbed every jump, took the easiest path on every feature. And pulled over regularly to let others by, to keep the muttered curses to a minimum :) . It's a long trail, and not really well marked in some spots. I got lost once and had to hoof it back up to where I went off-track. It's also the hardest blue flow trail in the park, so I don't feel bad for being a little freaked out. I think I'll try to find Blueberry Bathtub next time, which is supposed to be considerably easier.

So all in all, I did Easy Does It, Golden Treasure, Del Boca Vista, Longhorn, Blue Velvet, B-Line, and Crank It Up for the day. That's a pretty good session.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #686 · (Edited)
Another day in the bike park. Nothing really dramatic to report, except that I finally figured out pumping today
Head Art Cartoon Font Symmetry
. Turns out I was pushing down too early, probably before my rear wheel had cleared the apex. I was actually able to pump my way up Easy Does It to that bridge. It's a series of rollers on a generally uphill section of trail, so it is really obvious whether or not you're adding momentum.

OTOH, for some reason my jumps just weren't clicking today. I think I may have to spend a half hour on Gentle Giant just to get the feel back.

Oh, and an unexpected risk of mountain biking: Full-face-helmet tan. I haz it. Getting some sunscreen this afternoon.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #687 · (Edited)
Fourth day in a row of downhill biking. It's been fun, but tomorrow is Saturday, which is never a good time to go. Plus the weather is looking a little iffy. It actually started to rain mid-morning today, so my last ride was a little wet. In any case, I had an appointment in early afternoon so there was no decision to make.

Still, I got a good 4 runs in. And they were good runs. I'm still warming up on Easy Does It or Golden Treasure, and I'm not quite ready to skip that warm-up run just yet. But today, I only did one warm-up, then a run down B-Line, then two on Crank It Up. And there's nothing like being faced with jump after jump after jump to give you an opportunity to work out your issues. My second run on Crank was absolutely aces. Cleared or just barely cased on every jump, and starting to hit the approaches with enough speed so I'm not forcing it.

It's too bad I'm not going to be able to ride the park again for a while, because as I've learned with snowboarding, repetition and reinforcement is the key to improvement. Ideally, I'd really need another day or two in the park, doing mostly Crank It Up, to really nail down the techniques. But now looking at the predictors, the weather is going to crap for the entire weekend.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #691 ·
I've been going on rides fairly regularly and I'm noticing my fitness improving each ride. I'm doing the full course that last year would leave me exhausted for the afternoon, and I'm only moderately tired by the end of it.

I've finally gotten around the freak-out about skinnies. I know that most people do skinnies while standing, but I haven't bothered up 'till now, preferring to do it seated. So just to change it up a little, I started doing the skinnies standing. Made a significant difference. I can come to an almost complete stop and correct, rather than just bailing. And it feels safer going over some ladder bridges as well. So a win-win all around.

I did Starz Line 1 yesterday, which I haven't seen since last year. I noticed that I flew through it rather than the slow and careful creeping that I used to do. So I tried Lower Backyard Trail instead of doing the usual Hett Creek run. Same thing--I basically bombed through it. I've definitely improved significantly since this time last year. Feels good.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #692 · (Edited)
Just did two days in the Whistler bike park. The first day (yesterday), I rode the Trek Session. I'd brought the Code RSC brake levers with me, and at the end of my morning I dropped the bike off at the shop to have the work done. And no, I'm not going to do it myself. Swapping the brake levers, no big deal. Doing two brake bleeds in a condo with my wife within shouting distance, no Bueno big time.

Anyway, that meant I was using the Santa Cruz V10 today. I used that bike all last season and did fine. Today, I hated it. It was heavy, it was dead, it felt like it wandered, the brakes were iffy... Jeez, I hadn't realized how much of a different bike the Session is until today. And better.

So I'm going to sell the V10. And as long as I'm on that roller coaster, I might as well get rid of the EX 7 and the 520 road bike.

Anyway, back to the Session. The new brake levers have more adjustability and as I understand it, better braking power. So good all-around. The other thing I want to do soonest on the bike is install better handle grips. The stock Bontragers feel a little thin, and I need more cushioning for those braking bumps.

Other than that, I think I'm a confirmed Session fan now.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #693 ·
I did a bike park session today. The weather was cooler due to partial overcast in the morning, and unfortunately everyone decided to get in a session, so it was weekend-level busy.

I picked up my Trek Session from the shop with the new Code RSC brake levers installed. And I gotta tell ya, that was a totally justified upgrade. The difference in braking power and control is just amazing. And just riding the Session was incredibly satisfying after the last sesh with the Santa Cruz.

Today was a bit of an experimental day. I had bought the Insta360 3rd Person POV backpack mount and this was the day to try it out. I did 4 runs: Golden Treasure, B-Line, and 2 x Crank It Up. As I write this, I'm waiting for the footy to be downloaded to my phone so I can take a look at what I have. The mount is supposed to produce a drone-like POV somewhat similar to my home-brew backpack mount for snowboarding. Well, we'll see.

Meanwhile, GoPro experimentation aside, I really had a blast again. But there's an aspect of frustration involved here. Even going during the week this year, I can't get more than 4 runs in before the line-up just gets too ludicrous. Generally that means I can't get more than 2 runs of Crank It Up. But I think if I could just session that mofo a bunch of times, I could nail it. One option might be to do an afternoon session, starting at maybe 1 pm. I wouldn't exactly call it deserted, but the attendance is down from the 11 - 1 peak. If I committed to all afternoon, I could conceivably get a 4-hour session in with better lap times than I'm getting right now. But it would have to be a cooler day. I don't think I could take full-on afternoon heat with that Alpinestars armor I use.

Oh, and one funny (not really) thing to relate... I finally found a Trek Session 9 in stock, at Fineline Bikes in Whistler. $9K. The credit card bill hasn't even come in yet for the Session 8. Do I dare?
 

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The other thing I want to do soonest on the bike is install better handle grips. The stock Bontragers feel a little thin, and I need more cushioning for those braking bumps.

Other than that, I think I'm a confirmed Session fan now.
I thoroughly recommend the DMR Deathgrips in the thick size. https://www.dmrbikes.com/Catalogue/Grips/DeathGrip/DeathGrip

Oh, and one funny (not really) thing to relate... I finally found a Trek Session 9 in stock, at Fineline Bikes in Whistler. $9K. The credit card bill hasn't even come in yet for the Session 8. Do I dare?
Not being one to dissuades others from new bikes (N+1 and all, I just bought a gravel bike :LOL: ) But what would you really be gaining going from the session 8 to 9? Throw a carbon handlebar and better grips on your 8, you've already got the RSC levers, do you need the fanciest highest end suspension?
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #695 ·
Not being one to dissuades others from new bikes (N+1 and all, I just bought a gravel bike :LOL: ) But what would you really be gaining going from the session 8 to 9? Throw a carbon handlebar and better grips on your 8, you've already got the RSC levers, do you need the fanciest highest end suspension?
Sadly true. I did the compare function on the Trek website and the biggest difference is the brake levers, which I've already taken care of.
 

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Destroying Worlds Since 2015
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Discussion Starter · #698 ·
So, updates...

First, I ended up buying the Session 9. Because I'm a gear whore. I'll be selling the Session 8 and the Santa Cruz V10 to make room in the bike room. I'm not sure about the Specialized Enduro. I've used it a half-dozen times, and I'm not sure if that's going to increase. I'll have to think about it.

Meanwhile, I'm in Whistler for the entire week. I went to the park Sunday, Monday and today, and did trail riding yesterday. The trail riding kind of kicked my ass because it's a whole 'nother level of exercise compared to Bert Flinn. But other than almost puking up a lung, I did pretty good, skills-wise. Dabbed a couple of times, which is inevitable, but I also took a lot of features like ladder bridges with a lot more confidence than last year. Stand-up pedaling helps a lot with that. I did two laps of the Fitzsimmons skills park but really didn't do well. I should have checked the suspension on the EX 8 before I left. I have the feeling it's a bit flat.

The bike park has been great fun and very gratifying. The first two sessions were very busy and I only got 4 laps in, and they were sunny and hot. Today was overcast and less busy, so I got 5 laps and felt better overall. As with snowboarding, I'm finding that a bunch of sessions in a row has a great effect on my training, resulting in quick improvements. I did 3 laps on Crank It Up today and by the third one I was totally clearing most of the jumps. I actually overshot one or two, which is unusual for me. The only jumps I really continue to have trouble with are the ones with very little room for setup--either they closely follow another jump, or they closely follow a berm. I still need a relatively large lead-in to set up for the jump. That'll come, but meanwhile I'm either scrubbing those jumps or braking to give myself more time.

But all in all, I'm very happy with my park riding. I'm also more fit this year, strangely. Doing 5 laps last year would have left me half-dead. This year, I could have done another one, except for the line-ups.

I think I'm at the point where I can try C-More. Probably won't go full gonzo, but I should be able to do the run without killing myself. Next time.
 
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