Archive for January, 2013

Back at it…Again!!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2013 by tbird7

After several months of not riding while concentrating on my running prowess, I finally broke the seal with 3 days in a row at Oak Mountain State Park. It’s amazing how fast you lost your leg strength as I’m lighter and more cardiovascular fit than I’ve been in a while due to running more. While living in Florida, I could get away with jumping right back on the bike and do quite well because of the lack of hills, but not at Oak Mountain. The amount of lactic acid build up going up some of the climbs the last couple of days was very painful. I decided to do my infamous 3 hour loop that Eddie Thomas and I created two years ago in preparation for Cohutta 100 and the Leadville 100. It is essentially the regular Oak Mountain Loop with a couple of extras thrown in to make it over 3000 feet of climb in 3 hours. We did this ride 2 years ago and I did it twice at a clip fast than I did 1 today, so I’ve got some work to do pronto. It’s amazing what that park and it’s trails will do for you in terms of washing away stress. I feel like a million dollars and did the grocery shopping and am getting ready to cook dinner. Just like surfing, only a cyclist knows the feeling!

http://app.strava.com/activities/38992130

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singlespeed chain tensioner comparison

Posted in gear review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 22, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I’ve been running Big Red as a singlespeed since I got the frame late last August.  And in years past I have run the Great White Hope (formerly the Stumptress) as a singlespeed pretty much every Fall/Winter.  My go-to chain tensioner has always been my Surly Singleator.  However, I had a DMR Simple Tension Seeker sitting around, which I had bought a long time ago when I thought my Singleator wasn’t going to work out.  I recently decided to install the DMR and can offer some quick comparisons.

First off, the biggest difference in the two tensioners is that the Singleator provides tension by way of a spring, whereas the DMR provides fixed tension by simply getting the tension arm where you want it and tightening it in place.  I have always really liked my Singleator, but I didn’t like having to carry a cone wrench with me in case I needed to adjust the spring tension while riding.  I also had to install a half-link on my chain when I built up Big Red in order to get the length where it needed to be, and this half-link will occasionally grab at the Singleator pulley cog just enough while on out-of-the-saddle climbs to cause the tension to fluctuate very quickly (basically feels like a chain skipping on a geared bike).  Seeing as how a lot of my rides start out with a steep Cat 4 pavement climb, I was getting annoyed by that grabbing feeling.

With the DMR Simple Tension Seeker, the tension remains constant since there is no spring to worry about.  If it has a drawback while riding, it would be that it slips onto the quick-release axle, which means you might need to loosen it if you change a flat tire.  Luckily I have not had to do any such maintenance yet while riding.  Another minor drawback, which I originally thought would be a big deal, is that due to the spacer width surrounding my rear cog I am not able to get the groove in the tension wheel to line up with my chain, forcing it to simply push my chain up rather than let the chain sit within the groove.  But, even over some high speed bumpy terrain I have not yet had any issues with my chain falling off to the side….the tension is simply so tight that it maintains a good grip.  And if I started having issues with this, I could always widen the groove with my Dremel tool so that my chain remains tucked inside of it.

Weight-wise, the Singleator claims 157 grams, while the DMR claims 103 grams.  I did not bother weighing either of them, as I really don’t care that much about weight on such a small component.  With a weight savings of 54 grams, I was able to skimp 0.12 pounds.  Impressive, huh?

My overall opinion so far is that each device is more than capable for most singlespeed conversion scenarios, and I would be more than happy to run my bikes with either setup.  That being said, right now I am really liking the tightness of the DMR Simple Tension Seeker, as well as the fact that all I need is my multi-tool in order to make adjustments while riding.

***Quick Update: I rode Big Red at Oak Mtn last Friday and included the Cat 4 climb from the lower parking lot to the upper Peavine Falls parking lot and had zero issues with the DMR tensioner….it performed flawlessly, and reassured my original opinion that it is a very worthy product to use.

Surly Singleator installed

Surly Singleator installed

DMR Simple Tension Seeker installed

DMR Simple Tension Seeker installed

side by side comparison

side by side comparison

encounters with rednecks, flat tires, and stomach bug aftermath

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized on January 20, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I woke up Saturday morning thinking that with the long-overdue abundant sunshine it would be a good afternoon to go for a run.  However, Brian texted me to see if it was possible to go on a ride that afternoon.  We knew that Travis was working that day, and that David was tied up with coaching duties.  But, a quick text to our new riding buddy Kyle B confirmed that he was a definite maybe.  Time was set for 3:15 to 3:30, with hopes of getting in up to two hours on the trails behind Mt Laurel.  Kyle had never been on the trails up there, and I was excited to get to introduce him to our backyard playground.

Little did we know until he arrived, but Kyle was coming off of having the stomach bug for a couple of days and was visibly not looking like he was up for a large ride.  But, considering Brian and I were both on singlespeeds and really wanted nothing more than a casual ride we were totally on board with a slow tempo.

We opted to save a few minutes and take the short hike-a-bike trail that leads from Spoonwood Lake up to the top of the ridgeline where it tees into the paved Double Oak Way (well past where it is gated).  Kyle’s heart rate was quickly rising while hiking up the trail, so my guess was that we might get to see him pass out and/or vomit at some point during the ride.

Once on top of the ridge, the smooth semi-flat pavement ride for the next mile gave us a chance to regroup before hitting the first section of jeep road.  After coming to the fork in the road (around 2.75 miles from where we started in Mt Laurel), we chose to go right, which leads to a set of power line crossings before ultimately dying out (choosing to go left would have taken us another 6 or 7 miles all the way to the crest of Hwy 25).  After a mile or so, Kyle just wasn’t looking good and told Brian and I to go ahead and that we could catch back up to him after we turned around at the power lines.

So, Brian and I motored it along on the really fun section of mostly downhill trail until we had a brief encounter with some hunters in a pickup truck.  The driver belligerently questioned whether we had a permit to be up there and basically insinuated we were stupid for riding up there during deer season.  He didn’t seem to like my answer that I knew where all of the hunting stands were located and that certainly he wasn’t hunting without a stand.  After a sort of Mexican standoff for a minute or so, where neither party was moving, the hunters drove off.  We started to worry that they might say something to Kyle, so Brian and I headed back as well.

We ended up meeting back up with the hunters (turns out there were three of them….we originally couldn’t tell due to the illegally dark tinted windows on his camouflage-painted truck).  This time they were outside of their truck and the driver barely gave me enough room to pass between him, the truck, and the trees on the side of the road.  Then I noticed that Brian stopped, and my first thought was that the redneck decided not to let Brian pass.  So I turned around to offer some help when I noticed that the redneck’s attitude was starting to change.  Apparently Brian stopped on his own and decided to question whether the hunters had permits to be up there….basically turned it around on them (well played, Brian).  As we got to the truth, it was discovered that the driver was borrowing his dad’s property permit and that he didn’t know any of the higher-ups at EBSCO who were in charge of all of the land.  After a quick chat that turned fairly friendly, we took off again in search of Kyle.

We thought for sure that we would find him near the crest of an extremely steep uphill section (averages around 17-20 percent grade for around 1/8th of a mile), but we kept riding and he was nowhere to be found.  We even ratcheted up our pace and still didn’t see him.  I started to worry that he got to the designated last-resort meeting location and had to wait on us.  But lo and behold, here comes Kyle going in the opposite direction looking much better and faster.  Apparently the electrolyte fluids kicked in and he got a second wind.

We all rode together to the point where Double Oak Way turns 90 degrees and drops down to Hwy 41, then turned left onto an old dirt road.  From there Brian and I showed Kyle a nice little overlook with some rock cliffs facing the valley between 41 and 43…one of the many hidden gems of this trail system.  Then we decided to drop back to Hwy 41 by way of the Jones Valley Urban Farm, which meant a fast downhill on a relatively smooth jeep road.

It was here that Brian discovered he had a flat rear tire.  No big deal though, as he runs tubeless and certainly his sealant would work once he aired it back up.  But unfortunately that was wishful thinking and Brian had to ride the last 2.6 miles with a completely flat rear tire.  Luckily 1.6 of those miles was on the smooth pavement of Hwy 41 with Kyle leading the charge so that Brian could draft.

All told we only rode 13 miles in 117 minutes (actual moving time of 90 minutes), but it was the most fun I’ve had on my bike in a good while.  Some days I just want to crank up the pace by myself and get in a good training ride, while other days I really enjoy just getting out with friends and doing some exploring.  Luckily this day was the latter, and was exactly what I needed after weeks of cold weather with rain and grey skies.  I’m looking forward to showing Kyle more of what the trails have to offer, because we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the vast miles of singletrack, doubletrack, and jeep roads that exist up there.

Ride data and map can be found here: http://app.strava.com/activities/38052159

A couple of pics are below.

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Kyle and Brian at the overlook

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looking towards childersburg

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dorking it out with brian and michael

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the recent rains and brief snow left quite a bit of mud….this was after a lot of already fell off.

 

2012 Riding Stats

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Because I am a very numbers-oriented sort of guy, I’ve been keeping a strict tab on how many miles I log on my various bikes each year….be it on the road, trail, or the dreaded indoor trainer.  And really the only reason I get on the indoor trainer is to burn calories and avoid a rapid weight gain….I don’t ride it long enough to gain much cycling fitness at all, nor do I add any intervals to my time on the trainer, which would be very beneficial.  Just 30 minutes in the morning before work a couple days a week during cold weather is all I can stand to do.  But nonetheless, I’m including those miles.

2012 started out pretty good for me, logging decent trainer miles in the winter and then plenty of Spring miles outside once the winter died down (which must have happened pretty early based on looking back at my ride dates).  But, I had a fairly slow Summer, followed by a slower Fall, which really turned into not much at all by November and December.  My goal is usually to hit around 4 hours of bike time each week, which I typically achieve from April through October.  I know 4 hours a week does not sound like much (and not enough) for anyone reading this that trains on a regular basis in order to complete in races, but with 3 kids and a demanding full-time job that’s pretty much all I can ask for.  I achieved that goal with regular consistency, and often times hovering around the 5-6 hour mark, throughout the good weather months.  Then I hit November when I averaged just 1.6 hours per week, and December when I averaged only 1.4 hours per week.  And really October was not much better.

However, I decided around August that I would start running a little bit.  At first I truly hated it, as it had been so long and so infrequent that I really ran that going out for a 3-mile run at a pace of 8:10/mile felt like I was going to pass out.  Now when I run it is usually twice the distance and much closer to a 7:15/mile pace.  But the point of all this is that my time spent running has taken away from my time on the bike.  But really I’m OK with that.

Here are my 2012 riding stats:

Mountain Biking = 617 miles (seems low, huh?)

Road Biking = 636 miles

Indoor Trainer = 1225 miles

Total Climbing = 134,161 feet

And since I studiously keep records, here is where I was in 2011 for comparison:

Mountain Biking = 1003 miles

Road Biking = 215 miles

Indoor Trainer = 840 miles

Total Climbing = 151,976 feet

What this tells me is that for 2013 I need to make it a point to get outside more, especially on the mountain bike.  While one of my favorite races, Big Frog 65, is unfortunately already sold out for this Spring, there are some other endurance races on my radar that would give me a good excuse for some late Winter training.  But I also have my sights set on doing a few trail run races and maybe 15K or 13.1M road running events.  I think that the extra bit of running will only help my fitness for the long term, and even though it will decrease my time on the bike it should ultimately prove to be beneficial.

Nice little cut

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 6, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

After more than four weeks off the bike, I decided to take Big Red out for a quick spin. With only an hour to spare, I headed out on 41 to the Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail.
My trail riding skills have diminished due to lack of time on the bike, and this came to haunt me on a routine, albeit rocky, stretch of trail. My rear tire slipped on a rock and the next thing I knew I was falling over on my side. My left calf absorbed the blow, which didn’t feel too bad….until I looked at my leg.
A quick visit by my good friend Eric Evans, who I’ve relied on before due to his medical background, revealed that stitches would normally be needed but the skin on the front of my calf is too tight to make it work. So, I’ll be heading to Walgreens tonight to get some butterfly bandages in hopes of sealing it up as much as possible. No doubt will leave a scar.

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Favorite places to ride

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by mokelley

Recently I was asked to contribute two articles for a new magazine debuting later this month. The topic of the second article is Places To Ride In Dunnavant Valley. This got me thinking about some of my all-time favorite places that I have ridden. Below are a few places that come to mind.

Local spots:
Oak Mountain State Park. This place has such a great selection of trails that is has been named an IMBA Epic trail system. Full of most everything I could want.
Highways 41, 43, 11, and 25 in Shelby County. Some great road riding just outside of my door. Good for loops or out-and-backs, and can be combined with other roads for added distance. I never get tired of the 41/43/25/41 loop of 30 miles.
Jewish Community Center. When I lived downtown I would frequently ride from my house to the upper trailhead at Altamont High School. The trail loop is only around five miles but offers great climbing and descending. I prefer to do one lap clockwise and follow it with one lap counterclockwise.
EBSCO property. I am one of only a few riders with a permit for access to this vast property, and never run into any other riders while up there. It contains dozens of miles of jeep roads and is perfect for training or even just the occasional exploring. When doing a long training ride on my mountain bike, I often take one of the jeep roads all the way to the top of Hwy 25 and then drop down to Hwy 43. After a few miles of pavement I then link up with other jeep roads that take me back up and over the mountain. And the best thing about these trails is that it begins just a half mile from my house.

Regional:
Race course at Big Frog 65. This has become my favorite mountain bike race. Lots of fun trails and relentless gravel climbs beginning at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.
Raccoon Mountain. Fun trail loop with occasional views of downtown Chattanooga. Great for singlespeeding.
Swayback Bridge Trail. Near Wetumpka, this is another great trail system for singlespeeding. When I traveled to Montgomery occasionally for one of my projects I was able to take my bike on a few trips so that I could hit the trails on my return.

National:
Santos trails. Near Ocala FL, these trails originated from old clay pit property. I discovered the trails while home during college breaks, and they continue to grow. It’s been around 8 years since I last rode there, which is way too long.
Leadville CO. Got to race there in 2011 and it was absolutely amazing. The climbing was brutal, which I loved. The scenery was unbelievable. And the race atmosphere was remarkable. I likely would feel the same about many other trails in Colorado.
Lake Tahoe. While on vacation there one summer, most of my family rented bikes and rode from town to town along the water (north shore) one day. While the actual ride was not what I had in mind (I was on a cheap rental hybrid and was going at a pace that our slowest family member could handle), the views over the lake were incredible. I would love to go back one day and do the entire lake loop on my road bike.
Leesburg FL. My hometown for the first 18 years of my life. Where I first learned to ride on a cheap banana seat bike. I brought my road bike home a few years ago and got to see the town in a new perspective. Details I never noticed before were suddenly apparent. The highlight was probably riding in Sunnyside with Lake Harris in view.

Bucket List:
Swiss Alps. Leslie and I traveled to France and Switzerland a number of years back, and the highlight of our trip was our time in Geneva.  We managed to venture up into the mountains for a day trip and the scenery was unbelievable.  I was instantly jealous of all of the bikers we saw taking their bikes up the various ski gondolas for some summertime trail sessions.
Italian Dolomites. Based off nothing more than photos I’ve seen, I’d really like to make it to the Dolomites for both road riding and trail riding.
Scottish Highlands. Something about the greenery, fog, hills, and nearby coastal areas make we want to throw on a waterproof jacket and hit the trails for some long endurance rides.
Haleakala National Park in Hawaii. A 36-mile road descent from the top of a volcano in Maui, dropping more than 9700 feet.  Spend the morning making the monster climb, eat a quick bite at the top, and then hold on for dear life for the next hour.

 

 

top of Hwy 25 in Shelby County

top of Hwy 25 in Shelby County

Old Hwy 280 along the Narrows creek

Old Hwy 280 along the Narrows creek

one of many amazing views in Leadville, CO

one of many amazing views in Leadville, CO

great Leadville view

great Leadville view

IMBA World Summit jersey

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 2, 2013 by mokelley

A few months back I posted that I had co-won this year’s IMBA competition to design the jersey for the 2012 World Summit. As part of winning, I received a free jersey and a pair of socks. This jersey arrived in early September but I had forgotten to mention its arrival.
Thanks to IMBA and Primal Wear I now have two sweet new jerseys in the rotation (they also were nice enough to send me a jersey from the other winning design).
Fits great and is of course high quality as can be expected from Primal Wear.

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