Friday, June 29, 2007

Review of Swagman 2+2 Hitch Rack


Problem Statement:

Find a bike rack that will fit the following criteria
-Fit 4 bikes
-Ranging in size from kids 12" bike to adult 700c roadbikes
-Including funky shaped full suspension bikes
-Ideally be able to open the tailgate with the rack on (bikes off)
-stable configuration w/o bikes flapping in the wind
-easy on/off w/o having to puzzle bikes on every time

Typical Hitch racks
-Cons: too difficult to fanagle bikes w/funky top tubes such as Trek kids's bikes.
-requires FS bikes to use one of those artificial top tubes. One more thing to break, lose, run over.
-If I was going to get one I'd get the Soft Ride one

Thule (sportworks)
-Great option but pricey as heck

Swagman / Performance Xport Style
-Meets all the above criteria, and much cheaper than Thule.

We opted for the swagman. I quite like it so far. Simple design. The bike tires fit into metal hoops, so no need to take the front wheels off. Hooks are used to press down on the frame to keep the bike in place. This type of system works for almost all bikes ranging from kids bikes with funky frames like Treks all the way to full suspension bikes and road bikes.

The swagman comes in two flavors. A complete 4 bike unit or you can get the 2+ 2bike add on. We opted for the 2+2 for two reasons. One, my wife would be using it on a daily basis so we didn't want the 4 bike one sticking way out all day every day. And two, I thought it would be easier for carrying/storing purposes to have the ability to split it up into two sections.

The 2+2 is really 2 identical rack units but with a special cross bar for 4 bikes. When using it in 2 bike mode you use a much shorter cross bar at the hitch.

I love how the unit is put together. All the arms can fold up/down by pulling a pin.



To access the lift gate with the rack on you can fold down the center bar. To get it open you have to have all the bikes off except the most outside one.

It does take some inital setup to figure out how to line the bikes ups right. There are lots of variables including differences in handlebar height, cranks, pedals, etc. that make this step take a while. You can alternate directions or face them the same way. But the good thing is that once done you shouldn't have to do it again just place the bikes in the same orientation.

The pictured configuration probably isn't the best but I just wanted to be done. It works but I think it could be set up a little easier.




Some setup tips:
The two hooks are actually different sizes


If you are going to be putting two bikes of similar sizes next to each other you will need to put the taller hook on first. I didn't figure this out when racking two adult bikes and it took me a while to figure out what was going on.

The hooks work on a spring loaded ratched that click into notches on the center bar. You can press them down pretty tight. But when removing them you need to take some of the tension off the red lever. Do this by pressing down just a hair on the hook and it will remove some tension and the lever will open easier.

Be careful to not pinch your skin in between the center bar.

The cross bar fits into your hitch via a large pin and cotter pin.

There is some side to side sway of the cross bar in the hitch. But honestly, when driving I didn't see the bikes moving at all. I'd ordered this Hitch stabilizer a few weeks before trying the rack and just got it.

It does cut down on the side to side movement, but honestly, had I known how rock solid the thing was when driving I wouldn't have ordered it.

In use:
It is pretty fast to take the bikes on and off. It can get a little tricky when fitting 4 bikes on there with all the pedals, bars getting in the way. Sometimes I'll lower the center bar and put a bike in and then raise the bar back..

But for the most part it is easy on, few seconds and lock it in place.

This thing is solid. On the highway it doesn't move at all. The bikes are on secure.

It folds up easy for storage. Goes together easy and was very affordable.

The performance Xsport is made by swagman and looks of similar quality. but it only comes in a 2 unit or a 4 unit. Swagman also makes a only 4 unit. The 4 units only work on 2" hitches while the 2 unit will work on a 1 1/4" hitch.

There is potential for the exhaust pipe to melt and explode your tires. This is dependent on your vehicle and where the exhaust pipe is. But my one friend blew his tire out on a trip to the beach. On the return trip he put on of the kids bike first and was able to move the wheel holders to that the kid's bike was away from the exhaust.

On that note the Performance Xsport 4 bike rack seems to be angled up a tad bit more which might provide more clearance from an exhaust pipe.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

slow progression

The hallmark of a good training program is planned progression. For example, Leadout intervals are key for mountain bike racing. A typical leadout workout is in the format of:

# of sets by # of reps of Time on / Time off and Rest time/set.

So 3 sets of 8 reps of 0:15 on / 0:15 off and 2 minutes rest/set as an example.

A few months ago I was at 2 sets of 6 reps of 0:15 on 0:15 off with 3 minutes rest set. This morning I did 3 sets of 8 resp of 0:20 on 0:20 off with 1 minute rest/set.

In the meantime I've been slowly progressing by adding to each of the variables one at a time. So one week I might at 0:05 seconds to the interval. Another few weeks and I'll drop the rest period down, another few weeks and I'll increase the # of reps, another few weeks and then increase the # of sets.

Actually I didn't do this, I had a coach do it for me last year and I've just followed the methodology again.

And before you know it one foot in front of the other leads to walking out the dooor-oor-or.

I didn't think I was very good at them when I first started. I still don't think I'm good at them.

Old zen saying:
Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. -Wu Li

Another anecdote:
One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked."It is," he replied. "And how do you feel?" "As miserable as ever," said the monk.

Ti Bling

Stem bolts on my road bike were starting to rust a little from sweat dripping on them. Doubtful that they were in danger of rusting through but it would kind of suck for any stem bolt to break while riding.

So I opted to replace them with a little bling bling ti.

Redmist and Hyperbolts are two good sources. I got mine from Hyperbolts.

Probably a few grams saved at a cost that isn't even worth the additional cost. If you're really worried about weight, wheels are the absolute best bang for the buck, but a little Ti here and there is good for the bike geek soul

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Finally getting the legs back

Today I finally had a really good ride. I'd been getting a little worried because since the end of May and the Mountain of Misery I just haven't felt that great on the bike at all. It hasn't been because of lack of rest either.

After the MOM my focus diverted a significant amount to more work/career issues. So biking has been in the back of the mind a little. I am proud though that in these last few weeks I haven't let it just fade away though. I'm trying to follow my plan and just do the workouts as best possible. Oftentimes, the workouts in the basement took precedence over riding outside in the incredible weather we've been having. In fact I rather wanted to just do a set workout and have something to check off.

Today was a 3hr mountain bike ride. Starting out with a run up OF. Always need to go for a time on this run. Forced myself to stay in the small ring until the mid section of the climb. 1 second improvement on PR! 16:02. I was totally stoked because while I was in difficulty I was not subhuman at the top as in past PRs. Which makes me confident that meeting a goal of sub 16:00 is doable. However the last few weeks I'd been wondering if I'd ever get close to my PR again.

Of note is that I'd just repacked my bearings in the Azure. But when checking my sag it hardly even seemed 25%, but it did feel plusher. This is more evidence to me that while counterintuitive, softer more supple rear suspension can be faster.

After this I was just rolling all over Brush. Up down, around. Royale, then back and did down Royale again for time. Up dodger, up Beast, down Sidewinder, Some gap here and there...

My skills practice is definitely starting to pay huge dividends. I'm just feeling very solid in my body positioning and railing a few corners here and there. The body position and cornering development have to be done with cones in the parking lot. It's way too hard to try and work on this stuff on the trail, as you can't cocentrate while in a survival mode.

Keeping my head level is something that seems to be developed better on the trail, but more so on easier flat trails. My goal is to not even look at the trail, but rather keep my dead on vision at a point about 4-5 feet off the ground. We are almost always in the trees here so I'm looking at about 4-5' on the tree trunks. I'm striving to see the shape of the trail in my peripheral vision. Also I'm trying to swivel my head in the direction of the exit of turns.

Braking is something that I'm still struggling with. The key is do do all my braking before the turn. Once in the turn I'm trying to lean and separate from the bike. In order to do that with with saddle at XC height I've got to get to move my body forward. Which is actually a good thing as it weights the front wheel more. The bad thing is that if I grab some brake in panic mode with my weight already forward I pith forward even more...not good.

On the last downhill of OF I tried something different. I pulled out an allen wrench and lowered my saddle by 3-4 inches. Haven't done that in more than a decade. At first it felt really awkward. I seemed to bias my weight to the rear more which messes up front traction a lot. It started to feel a little more comfortable the farther I went. But one thing that shocked me was the incredible strain on my quads. Not sure if it was from some of the pedalling performed while on the low saddle, or because I had no support at all from the saddle going downhill. But the quads were really burning bad.

My time wasn't very good at all. I'm thinking this is one of those things where I would get worse before I got better. Obviously there is something to it or all the downhillers, freeriders, dual slalom people wouldn't run low saddles. But I must be just so used to XC height that I've adapted somewhat. Again, I just seemed to bias the weight too much to the rear I guess because I could given that the saddle wasn't in the way at all.

At home my legs were just throbbing. I mean deap seated pulsating pain that I haven't felt in a while. Similar to a toothache or other deapseated dull pain I started to get fidgety almost like a panic attack. Tried something I'd read about in the newsletter.
Cold Bath:
"Next, as soon as you get home, run a bath of cold water. It doesn't need to be ice water, just cold tap. Fill the tub so you're covered up to your hips. Wear a sweatshirt to keep your upper body warm.

"Most of the damage you receive from a long ride results from cell membranes swelling and then breaking down and spilling their contents. You actually continue to swell for some time after you get off the bike. The cold water will reduce the swelling and limit further damage. Try to stay in for about 20 minutes.

"A cold dip is much better than an anti-inflammatory at this point. Even though the anti-inflammatory will make you feel better, the blood thinning will allow more cell contents to spill out of your damaged cells.

"After your cold bath get a good balanced meal -- carbohydrate, protein and healthy fats. Then get your legs up and stay off your feet.

I didn't stay in 20 mins but my legs did feel much much better when I got out.

other notes
left leg muscles still hurt a lot. Left knee hurt a little especially when trying scrape back on the pedal. This is putting the kybosh on my latest kick to set up a singlespeed.

Listened to the Ipod today. It was fun though doesn't seem to be any more focused than riding with a song going through my head. A few times the right song was going on a downhill and it just felt like playing.

At 2 hrs before. Started on energy drink as soon as I was on the bike. Started to get some reactive hypoglycemia. High sweat rate, light headed and tingly feeling in arms/legs. Passed within 30minutes. I seem to do better with a larger meal and 3hr time delay before riding.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

from BMOC to small child

Got a great mtb ride in. Slight drizzle, warm, tacky soil, wet roots, good friends. Doesn't get much better.

Met up with John and did a nice loop. Took 10 seconds off my sidewinder downhill time even with the wet roots. For the firs time in a long while my legs were turning well. Climbing went really well and was riding at the threshold point with some small forays into the red at the tops of climbs.

Just like the training intervals I've been doing. And for a little while I was feeling like BMOC.

Then we met up with Chris on the way down Old Farm and I turned around with him for another loop. He's spinning these small gears but moving really fast. It just took me over the edge and the legs just exploded in a supernova.

We then went to Beauty and flew down. The wet roots at the bottom would pick up the rear tire and move it about 2 feet in either direction. Chris is a really good bike handler and just throws his upper body around corners. It was a little disconcerting to follow.

I'm so concerned right now with keeping my vision to the horizon that it threw me for a loop to have someone infront. I wasn't sure where I should be looking. At his back or his wheel or trying to look past him like when riding in a paceline. I'd find myself dropping my gaze to his back wheel which was a bad thing. Trying to look past seemed to work the best, but just keeping my eyes on his back worked ok too. He's such a good rider that if I just mimiced his motions I'd be ok.

Except for the time he did a quick chicane around the sapling that has mysteriously appeared in the middle of the trail.

Of course the really awesome thing is that I'm actually going fast enough for this to be an issue. Cause if he's going fast and he's blocking my view that must mean I'm going fast.

We climbed the Beast and cleaned the bottom section only to be stopped dead by the tiniest of pebbles. From there out I was reduced to small child riding. The legs were just so dead and couldn't hold much power. The muscles in my left leg are still messed up but at least my knee isn't hurting or anything. I started to think about the new Qrings John had bought and if they would be helping my legs right about this time.

One last rocket run to the parking lot. Once again perception is so flawed. I felt off and cornering didn't feel right, but at the bottom the stop watch said 20seconds faster than my PR. And this was with some slightly wet conditions. It's definitely faster to try and keep someone in sight than to let them out of your site even if you feel more comfortable with an open view ahead of you.

It felt like my saddle was getting in the way in cornering. I'm going to try dropping my saddle 3-4" before the next long downhill to see how much of a difference it makes in time. I know it will help I'm just curious to see how much it helps. If it makes a significant difference I might be considering one of those telescoping saddles. Gravity Dropper, All Mountain Post

The big issue is weight of course. Being an XC Geek with weight weenie issues makes a change like this significant. The two other issues are if any movement in the telescoping post is going to bug me during pedaling. The main issue is that I'm much more a set/forget kind of person and things like fork lockout or shock lockout jsut do not work for me, especially at redline racing.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Notes to self-skills


Notes to self.

-Chimpanzes keep head level while swinging through trees. Tilting head down engages the evolved part of our brain and triggers thinking. Thinking is bad when mountain biking

-Body/brain react faster to things seen in peripheral vision--drag racers/christmas tree

-Downhill corners are equivalant to ramps. Brake before the ramp so that you can take advantage of the gravity of the ramp. By braking in the turn it's equivalant to braking half way through the ramp.

-When leaned wheels want to stand up under braking

-Forget about concept of permanence of memory. Just focus on seeing the shape of the trail and don't worry about 'spotting' an obstacle first.

-when climbing, bend more at waist, keep palms open on top of bar to keep from pulling back on bar. Scrape pedal forwards at top of stroke, back at bottom of stroke.

-log technique
-front wheeel loft
-throw weight forward to unweight rear wheel
-thrust bike forward/hips back

-Riding roots usually closer to the trunks is better

-Key mental triggers to help on the trail
-MOTO (elbows out, chest low)
-Vision (head up, chin out, look into the distance)
-flow (loose grip, loose elbows)
-separation (from bike)

Personal Practice routine
-coaster wheelies x3
(stick on ground, vision at horizon)
-rear wheel lifts x3
(unclipped, stick on ground, vision at horizon)
-Jhop x 3
-wheelies x3
-Endless w/focus on bent elbows x3 laps
-Endless w/focus on vision (looking 2 cones ahead) x3
-Endless w/focus on hips/separation x3
-Trackstands 3x30seconds
-if available, mock switchback x3
-climbing 3x30seconds
(open palms on bartop, bent at waist)
-if available, log hopx3
-braking drill x3

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BetterRide Skills Clinic: Baltimore June 2-4, 2007

In November 2005 I took a private lesson from mountain bike skills coach Gene Hamilton of

The original intent was to attend a 3 day camp in Richmond but unfortunately, that camp had sold out before I committed. Since I was an experienced rider (17 years+) with some decent skills the private lesson seemed like a good idea. It was an incredible experience and completely changed how I looked at mountain biking skills. And I also made a huge leap in my skills within a few months afterwards.

After the lesson I was in total information overload. But it was a turning point in my mountain biking journey. The only regret is that I wished that I'd taken the 3 day camp. This past weekend this wish was realized when I attended a 3 day camp up in Baltimore. Special bonus, it included guest coach Marla Streb.

This camp was just awesome. Even with almost 19 years experience on a mountain bike and a BetterRide private lesson under my belt it was just phenomenal. I'm pretty decent but there is a lifetime of room to grow. Even the true superstars in sports (Tiger, etc) are always growing and always striving to be better so why not an amateur mountiain biker. Gene's teachings have shown me that there is no limit.

Why go to a camp anyway?

Mountain Biking is a relatively new sport. There just isn't a lot of well defined instruction out there such as with snowboarding,golf, tennis, martial arts, ..... In addition, mountain biking was founded on an outlaw spirit and the culture of self sufficiency. The notion of mountain bike instruction is often met with skepticism especially from experienced riders. The most often mentioned advice is, "Just Ride. Just spend time on the trail."

The problem is that similar to movement sports like golf and snowboarding, mountain bike skills are often very counter intuitive. Learning becomes much more trial/error where the error=scars w/o a lot of knowledge gained as to why things happen. Trail time and just plain experience, of course, can develop a certain proficiency at mountain biking. However it's very difficult to really understand why you were able or not able to do something. I also found that after a certain amount of time skills plateaued and there was very little improvement after that. Crashing is a part of mountain biking. However, not understanding why you crashed in the first place dooms you to repeat the mistake over and over.

Yet no one would think twice if you were to say, I'm going to snowboard camp or I signed up for a round of golf lessons.

The 3 day camp is definitely the way to go if you can do it for two main reasons. One, there is just so much information that spreading it out over 3 days lets you assimilate it a little easier. And secondly, you can learn a hell of a lot by watching the other students in the class.

In fact, I found the ability to watch and learn from the other students to be one of the most beneficial things from the camp. Very experienced riders might feel that taking a camp with beginners might not do them as much good. However, the ability to watch someone else and see the affect of applying the skills that Gene teaches is an excellent way to learn. This affect of the core skills is even more amplified in beginners so it is much more apparent.

Without video footage of yourself it is impossible to have sound objectivity of how you are riding or body position. It's extremely difficult to know how far leaned over or how bent your elbows are as the mind's perception is usually full of crap. This is one reason why a coach can be so beneficial, they can be objective eyes upon you. And you can be an objective observer of the other students in class.

In addition, improvement usually takes place in baby steps over a period of time. As such, getting better is often transparent to the rider sort of like watching your kids grow. Day to day they don't change but all of a sudden they are growing up. By watching other people it's readily apparent that this sh*t works.

For example, we were sessioning on a pretty steep uphill pitch with a sharp right hand turn at the top. The track had a bunch of half buried chattery rocks and was not an easy pitch. One of the riders was climbing it and was struggling on the verge of stalling out. Gene was at the top past the corner and was coaxing vehemently (ok, he was yelling) to "LOOK UP, LOOK AT ME". When the rider applied the vision techniques we learned the affect was dramatic. His pedal stroke evened out, his upper body relaxed and the bike tracked effortlessly through the turn and towards Gene. He looked amazing, and the change from being on the edge to being in total control happened in an instant.

Seeing the core skills in action on someone else had as much if not more benefit than practicing it myself.

Another side benefit of the camp was seeing the empowering capability of mountain biking experienced by the other riders. People were doing things they never thought possible at the end of 3 days. One woman's smile just got bigger and bigger as the camp continued as she transformed through the class. A few weeks after the camp I got to experience a similar feeling as I applied some of the core skills in a rock garden.
It scared the heck out of me. And it was something I never thought I'd ever do. That is empowerment. Bottle that stuff up and make a million.

The Coaches
This camp included a special guest coach, Marla Streb. Marla is probably one of the most recognizable faces in the tiny niche of mountain biking. With a wild woman reputation and single speed world championship tattoos it's hard not to have a mystique like Marla. However she's very down to earth and approachable.
Marla is extremely intelligent and very articulate. She has a knack for explaining things with a foundation in science yet easy to understand which isn't surprising given her research background. She represents her sponsors very well.

Her kung-fu is quite good too.

Graceful doesn't even begin to describe her riding style. Marla is the epitome of power and fluidity gliding through the trail. No momentum lost, never letting the front wheel hit anything.

Gene has good kung-fu too. You can't stand on the podium of a world Master's downhilling championship w/o being fast. But, from our perspective as students, how fast you are isn't the most important thing. How fast can you make me is more important. Gene's made the effort to understand why things happen and to break down mountain biking into core fundamental skills. More importantly, he's got a knack for analyzing rider's individual weaknesses.

I'm really impressed with his coaching ability. Each rider had individual issues and each rider has their own learning style. Some are tactile, others are visual. He's pretty good as saying the right thing to help someone make a concept click.

While both are very analytical in their approach to mountain biking they also work hard at developing the ability to turn off the brain when they neeed to.

They are true professionals in their sport but it was interesting to see their 'mortality' with respect to mountain biking as well. Just like all of us at the camp, they made mistakes, tried too hard, and sang funny songs in order to disconnect their brain. At one point I was discussing how truly difficult it was to keep my vision looking up. They both agreed that there are probably only 2 or 3 riders in the world that do it perfectly all the time and that they struggle consistently to work on their own fundamentals.

Gene's philosophies
I'm a big fan of Gene's teaching philosophies. None of what he's coaching is brand new or novel. What's significant is that he's taken the extremely complex aspects of mountain biking and broken them down to fundamental core skills. The value of this simple act cannot be taken lightly.


Breaking complex movements down into focused component skills enables the teaching of these complicated motions. It is just too difficult to teach someone a multi-level skill such as cornering without breaking it down into individual components. Each core skill has dedicated drills associated with them. The drills are first introduced in parking lots or grass which are non-threatening environments. By performing the drills in parking lots we can focus all our attention on them and not be worried about the trail, rocks, roots, trees, etc.
DSC01126 DSC01134

These drills are not easy either. Parking lot or no parking lot, it takes every ounce of concentration to perform them. The ironic part is that the less you think about it the better you do. But the first times you do them it requires lots of focus. I had the benefit of learning the drills over a year ago and have been practicing them since. To the other campers my performance may have looked easy. But Gene will attest to how stiff and awkward I was the first time I did the endless drill. On some days we probably only rode 1 mile or two total. But I was utterly exhausted at the end of the day from mental fatigue. Which closely drives physical fatigue.

The order in which he teaches the skills is also no accident. Similar to a periodized training plan where each period builds upon the last and leads into the next, the core skills he teaches build into more complex skills.

Included in the core skills are things you've heard of in every book you've read on mountain biking yet I'm telling you that there is no substitute for having someone like Gene get you to really feel what it means to do them right. In addition, Gene stresses the importance of also doing the skills wrong.

For exmaple, one camper was cornering with the inside leg down sometimes even on a switchback. She knew that something wasn't right and was able to contrast this feeling to cornering correctly with the inside leg up. I'm a firm believer in the principle that you don't know if something is working right until you break it and then fix it.

This type of general architecture is seen across many sports. Tennis, snowboarding, martial arts. The pattern is common. Complex movements are broken down to core fundamentals. The fundamentals are drilled in repetitive movements. Over time the movements are developed in muscle memory and become more second nature and don't have to be focused on 100%.

Think how many practice balls are hit in tennis? Or how many balls are hit at the driving range or shag field.

The key though isn't how much you practice but rather HOW you practice.

The cool thing about mountain biking is that it is just an inherently fun activity that even practicing can be fun. The drills are actually very enjoyable, and on trail practice where you focus on one component is also fun. At some point, though you just gotta ride w/o concentrating so much. Over time the quality practice leads to the breakthroughs on the trail that provide the perma-grin associated with railing it on the trail.

In fact the real goal of this camp is to not come out mastering any of the core skills. But rather, the goal is to just get an inkling of what it feels like to do them right even if just for an instant. Learning takes a while. The body/mind needs plenty of time to take new skills and make them second nature. But the truly important aspect is that you know how to do it right. So that you have a goal to strive for in practice. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Application of the core skills
Of course, it wouldn't really be a mountain bike camp w/o riding on the trails. The core skills developing in the parking lot drills are then applied on real trails. We rode the very fun trails at Patapsco and would stop at different sections. Gene and Marla would point out how to analyze sections and then we would each run through the trail under their watchful eye.

Without fail, each of us totally forgot everything we had just worked on in the parking lot drills. There was just too much going through our heads once you add the trail into it. Again, Gene's coaching helped refocus us. He'd get us to just focus on one thing. Then we'd move on to focus on another thing. In this manner we were able to once again hone in on each of the core skills.

I'm bummed I didn't bring my camera on the trail excursions because it was amazing to watch Gene, Marla and the other students rail some of these turns.

Just the beginning
A camp like this is really just the beginning. If anyone is thinking that you can attend one and come out the next day ready to blow away your friends or move up 10 spots on the podium you better think again.

The irony of doing something like that rock garden I mentioned earlier is that even though I proved to myself that riding with my head level and looking in the distance actually works. I am going to have to re-prove it every time I go riding. The concept is just so counter to every sensibility in my head that it's going to take constant reinforcement.

But without instruction like Gene provides, I'd never have known a 'right' way of doing things. Not that his methods are the only way, but they are one method that is going to work in almost all situations.

Regrets shouldn't be part of life. But my god, I can't imagine where I'd be in mountain biking if I'd had instruction like this 20 years ago.

In his book Mastery:The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment George Leonard highlights the 5 keys to mastery.

#1: Find a good teacher
#2: Practice

Gene's a great teacher and just as important, he provides fundamental practice drills and practice methodology. I'm totally convinced performing these drills consistently especially when on the plateau is the key to improvement.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A torture device

This is torture

I've been having some issues with my left Quad muscles. Now I think it might be the IT band.

Regardless my muscles are just knots. Mobility is weak. Left knee splaying. Some things I've read point to the IT band as well as hip flexors as causes for knee splaying.

This video discusses using a foam roller to help increase mobility. In addition, there seems to be a lot of coaches and trainers suggesting their use.

The general consensus seems to be that if it hurts it's a sign that you need it.

OMG. I must need this. At this point I cannot do the IT band roll with my full weight on the leg. I've got to have one leg out for support.

It is getting a tad better. But I've got a feeling that doing these has tired out my legs as they just have felt like they've got no power the last few days. Hopefully in 2-3 weeks they'll start adapting.

My goal is to be able to roll out the IT band like this

especially down by the knee.

I use this thing in conjunction with my friend, the Stick.
Though I like the blue length. The stick feels as good as the foam roller hurt. The two together are like good cop bad cop.

Friday, June 08, 2007

a good ride or a bad ride

Needed to get a long race/sim type mtn bike ride in. But also have lots of skills stuff going through my head from the clinic I just did. It turned out just too difficult to push myself hard because of all the stuff going through my head.

Concentrated on keeping my head level. Looking past obstacles. Was able to ride several rock gardens w/o even looking at the rocks. Just an amazing voodoo trick.

Also working on climbing technique. Climbed several hills with palms resting on top of bar. Elbows very bent. Can't pull back like this. Tried to focus on smooth pedal stroke and the scraping motion. Scrape forward at the top, scrape back at the bottom.
Much more energy efficient because no upper body pulling but it was exhausting me because my legs aren't used to it. The inside of my knee was hurting and it was getting pretty hard to do only after a short time.

But at the same time I was screwing up lots of stuff I normally do. Overturning, duffing on small logs, etc.

1.5hrs into it and I was exhausted. Not sure if it was the uber focus of the skills or trying to change pedal strokes or because I haven't been riding that much lately. It usually takes me a few days to get back into the groove of things. Or if it was the heat and I was just getting dehydrated. It worries me a little because I should be recovered and supercompensated from the MOM century so I should be flying effortlessly. But just gotta be patient.

Dunno, but in some ways it felt like a slow ride and that I wasn't riding well. In other ways it was a breakthrough because I was able to implement some of the things learned in the class and prove to myself that they can work. Looking far ahead plays with your mind. It slows everything way way down, especially when climbing. So I might have been going faster but felt slower.

If history is any indicator it is going to take about 3 weeks for new skills to be assimilated and for riding to improve from a perception POV. These first few rides always feel very awkward.

It's also going to take constant reinforcement of the techniques to keep things
17:28 up OF. Off PR by 1 minute but wasn't pushing too hard. Keeping head up on some ledges REALLY works well to drive through and not stall out

6:20 down OF (left Y at start to the Sign kiosk). Tried to look ahead and brake before corners and not drag brakes through corners.

Bleed notes

Got a lesson on Juicy Brake bleed from Ian at the shop. 12 pack of bud gets you a lot these days.

Much different than Avid instructions but seem to work ok

Advanced Auto Silicone Dot 5 fluid (purple)

-Fill up syringe 3/4 full
-do the bubble trick to remove bubbles once or twice
-remove any bubbles

-Lever horizontal
-install empty lever syringe
-with syringe open push out pistons with box wrench
-lever vertical
-pull fluid and any air out
-put caliper syringe on
-push from bottom pull slightly at lever
-close both syringes
-with lever horizontal remove syringe
-top off with fluid if needed
-remove caliper syringe.