View From the Back of the Pack – Pre-ride

I have a post about the race in Kelowna that I’m currently working on but the video editing is taking much longer than expected.  Honestly, I’m cutting out all of the walking I did up climbs mid-timed section as to not bore you all to death and there’s a lot of them.  In the meantime, Ryan and I are off to another race back in Kamloops.

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Car is packed and ready to roll!

This time we’ll be racing on Harper Mountain (another new one for us both) and when the course was released it actually looked okay.  I mean, anything looks okay compared to Vedder.  So, despite my concern for my body giving out from riding too much, we headed up for a pre-ride today to check out what we were up against.

Honestly, I’m not going to say much about the actual course because I’ll cover that in the race write up.  What I want to say is concerning the pre-ride itself and how iffy a situation it is.  If you’re a seasoned, advanced rider it’s kind of a no brainer if they’re new trails for you.  You’ll get an idea of what’s to come and get to have a bit of fun while you’re doing it.  You certainly won’t wear out your body or — gasp! — come across shit that looks so scary you figure you should probably just volunteer as a marshall instead of riding the race.

Naturally, those are the things that happened to me today and I’m feeling a little torn on the pre-riding front.  I’ll be more solid tomorrow morning on if I knackered my body too much or not, but as far as the nerves are concerned I went through a whole rainbow of emotions when I was out there today.

Firstly, it was great to get an idea of the climb.  Mostly because it wasn’t terribly horrific and it gave me hope that I may actually finish a full course race tomorrow.  Secondly, I honestly do believe that it’s fantastic to get a look at what’s coming up the next day in a more relaxed environment but when what’s coming up is some terrifying bumpy rocks and loose loose loose terrain it starts falling into the “scaring Sarah off” category.  We made it up and did all of stage one.  The beginning of stage one is pretty scary to be honest.  The whole first section is.  I spent quite a bit of time hiking a bike thinking “oh boy I definitely should see if they still need volunteers for tomorrow.  I can’t do this at all.”  The good news is, the trail continued and turned into some fast, fun, flowy stuff that was a blast.  I spent the whole bottom half grinning from ear to ear.

There was also some official fun to be had as they had some tents set up and a grass slalom race to watch.  Ryan tried his hand at the $100 but unfortunately fell in the middle of the pack.

I saw this as a bonus, steep hike a bike with a huge audience watching you come down and decided my time was best spent in the beer tent and waiting for the food truck to open so I could get some deep fried Mars bars.

Overall I feel like pre-riding is a great thing to do.  Honestly, for quite a while today I thought that all it did was make me chicken out but tomorrow I’ll feel much more confident having at least an idea of what’s coming up – – and what I have to walk down.

Keep an eye out for the Kewlona blog as well as the follow up on how I do in Kamloops take two!

You Can Do It! (Brake Edition)

In my last post I touched on how my front brake has given up the ghost.  I put it off for a little while but was getting really itchy when I couldn’t get out and ride my bike.  True, I did one trip out and used Ryan’s hardtail and then swapped it for our friend’s full suspension downhill monster bike (talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!).  Both were fun but I was on new trails and I was missing poor Jenny.  It was time to take the matter into my own hands!

I decided that I had enough money to replace just the front brake.  I would’ve loved to do both at the same time but I’ll have to wait a bit on that I think.  I was also super keen to put my new mechanic skills to the test and actually take it home and install it myself.

This journey starts with a bit of research but I decided which kind of brake I wanted and headed into the shop.  My history with bike shops has been pretty good, actually, but I’ve found that I spent a lot of time beforehand studying what to say and how to say it to make it seem like I have some idea of what I’m talking about.  Mostly I’ve just given up on that endeavour as it’s always better to just admit when you don’t know something and ask for help, but I still get a bit nervous that I’ll be looked down upon for my ignorance.  I headed into Dunbar Cycles and, luckily, was mostly just tired having come from work and didn’t have time to feel nervous.  I walked up to the service desk and, astoundingly, found myself saying words like I knew what I was talking about…. wait a minute… I DID know what I was talking about!  There wasn’t a panicked text to someone about a question I didn’t know how to answer or even much of a pause in the conversation for me to think!  Honestly, it felt so good to be asked a question and know exactly what the answer is.  It’s quite the turning point in my biking career and I loved the feeling of it!  Hell yeah I can tell you about my bike and its parts!

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So I get the brake home and look at it.  It looks familiar.  There’s nothing too foreign about it in comparison to the brake I had already.  I can do this!  I must say without help of Ryan OR Youtube I changed the pads (swapped organic for metallic), changed out my rotor for a gently used one, installed the brake, routed the cable properly, and got the lever on in the right spot.

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I must say the moment I put the wheel back on I was holding my breath a little bit, worried it would somehow not fit… or explode… or something dramatic that ruins my entire bike. But it slid right in, fit like a glove and I felt so proud that I used what I’ve learned and that I have the confidence to just tackle it without second guessing myself (too much)!

I’ve already taken it out for a ride and had a blast.  It took about half a lap for me to get used to it but after that it felt totally fine.  I think it may need a bleed so I’m going to get a kit and do it myself rather than go to the shop.  I’ve got this!

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I know sometimes these things can feel incredibly daunting and intricate.  It feels like somehow you’re going to do one little thing that will absolutely ruin the entire mechanism or even bike itself.  My only advice for people like me who get nervous about this stuff to seek out and take a bike maintenance course.  If you’re in BC and can make it to Abbotsford, I really do recommend taking the UFV Bicycle Mechanic course like I did.  I feel so much more confident because I got to play with bikes, screw up, realize it wasn’t a big deal, and learned how to fix what I’d done.  That alone is worth so, so much.

What about you folks?  What are your home mechanic victories?

New Summer Challenges

Last summer I really challenged myself with my 45 days of mountain biking.  This year I was struggling to come up with an idea of what to do as a new and fun challenge.  Suddenly it came to me . . . last year I participated in my first ever race (the NSMBA Fiver) and I thought I’d keep the fun, competitive spirit going!

I have signed up for a number of enduro races this summer and have created quite the fun schedule of trips around BC and Alberta to participate in the sport I love and really test myself by being pushed to the limits.  Will I win?  Absolutely not!  Will I finish?  That’s the hope.  Will I have fun?  That’s a given!

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The races are all part of the Canadian National or BC Enduro Series as of now.  So far the schedule is as follows but there may be 1 or 2 more races added and I will update when I add more:

April 21st – Kamloops Beaver Classic

May 13th – Fraser Valley

May 20th – Kelowna

June 3rd – Kamloops

June 24th – Crowsnest Pass

July 8th – Canmore

July 21st – Squamish – Hot on your Heels

Of course I will be riding in between these as well.  Maybe participating in some Fivers again or just getting out there for some no-competition fun.  I also can’t imagine a summer would go by without a trip to Coast Gravity or Whistler as well but time will tell for those.

Naturally, Ryan will be joining me on this adventure.  He is registered for the races with me and is going to be a great cheerleader . . . waiting at the finish line for hours for me to be done.  So far we’ve managed to negotiate which races we should register for, figure out accommodations, and estimate any expenses that we’ll come across.  There was some debate over camping vs hotel vs Air BnB and while I absolutely love camping I got a bit nervous about riding a billion hour race and not having an actual, comfy bed to return to.  Luckily, Ryan could see my point and we have some rooms booked up with some lovely local folks at each stop.

An exciting addition is a new logo made by the lovely Kristina at Sketchy Trails.  It is absolutely beautiful and I love that she captured my “popsicle nightmare” look of colourful gear.  I have an order ready to get some custom jerseys printed to wear to the races and maybe one or two extra to give away.

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The other issue that is at hand is training.  Other than the mountains being covered in snow at the moment, I’ve also run into a snag of my front brake giving up the ghost (just before a descent no less) and me scrambling together money to replace it.  In the meantime, I’m hoping Ryan is okay with me borrowing his hard tail.  At least my legs will get an extra workout that way!  Pretty soon I’m going to be kicking it into high gear and getting out on trails as close to every day as I can.  I have a long way to go before being in form for racing.

I will be documenting the whole experience.  I plan on having my trusty GoPro on me for every race so you can all enjoy my suffering and my triumphs.  I will also be writing all about it in my blog series which will be called:  (Drumroll, please!)

The View from the Back of the Pack.

I’m not saying I won’t be giving it my all.  I just know how many wonderfully talented riders are going to be out on the same trails as me and I know that just finishing each race is an amazing goal for me.  I fully intend to get to know some of the trail sweeps and to fall over, exhausted, at the end of each race.  But through this I’m going to learn so much, meet new people, and have fun experiences to remember forever.

Wish me luck, all . . . I’m going to need it.

Conclusions: The Smell

This tale starts off in a romantic whirlwind. I had just finished riding and, after dropping my bike off at home, went straight to Ryan’s house. I hadn’t changed yet and was sporting my usual shorts and whatever shirt I had clean at the moment. He pulled me in close for an embrace… looked deeply into my eyes and said something I’ll always remember:

“You should write about how all your riding clothes stink all the time now.”

Ah, young love…

While not exactly tactful, he did have a point. I had a grand total of two sports bras and two pairs of shorts and I definitely did not have time to be washing them every day or every other day. Let alone how wasteful that would be water-wise just to wash those items. That led to a kind of.. well you could call it a build up. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I couldn’t wash my pads because they needed to hang to dry and where I live is too damp for them to dry within a day.

So I embarked on a journey of de-stinkifying myself. Of course I was showering like crazy and I, personally, was not smelly but the minute my gear went on you could smell me from a mile away. Eyes watered and dogs scattered.

I googled how to get rid of permasmells on clothing and came across several things saying I should soak my clothes in white vinegar. I did this with my beloved Sombrio jersey and then soaked it in detergent and then washed it in more. The result: a now vinegarry perma-BO. It was even more glorious than before! This was definitely a side effect that I didn’t even consider when starting my 45 day journey and it ended up being one that really got to me. Even my CamelBak backpack stank! It was an olfactory awakening and a clear indication that perhaps I should buy some more gear if I’m going to ride that often.

Luckily, I can report, that since then I have managed to de-stinkify my clothing. It took numerous washings with long pre-wash soaking periods in detergent to get them back to normal but at least I didn’t lose any of my favourite pieces to such an unworthy cause.

What about you? Anyone else have smell problems? Any amazing solutions out there?