Don’t Look Up

 

^Don’t Look Up from James on Vimeo.

I was invited by my friend to do a little hill workout starting  in Lost Maples and heading out to Leakey. It took us over four nice climbs, two of which we went back and did again just for good measure. They’re only about 1 mile long but all four make it into double digit grade. The video below is only for half a mile of the first climb but it’s enough to show you that the climbs are nice.

Strava map.

When we finished the four climbs my friend asked me if I wanted to do the first one again. Hell, why not? So up we went. When we got to the top he asked if I wanted to go down the other side and come back up. I thought about it. This dare would be more of a commitment since I had to come back up and not just turn around and go back down if I had enough. I thought about it. Hell, why not?! You only live once!

When we went down to the bottom to start our climb was when I realized that this could be the end of “You only live once “. The down hills were actually the hard part. We had a very strong, gusting side wind that tended to blow us out into the road or off of the road depending on the direction we were going. And even without pedaling you could easily hit upper 40s. My friend hit 46 mph. I did not trust myself on this day due to the side winds and stayed in the mid 30s. Maybe next time, wind permitting, I’ll try upper 40s.

Next time we’ll go from Lost Maples to Camp Wood. That will be 80 miles, 5,700 feet with 12 climbs of 1 mile all hitting double digits. As long as we don’t look up,  that should be really nice…..

 

Lungs

 

^ Lungs from James on Vimeo.

If you’re a cyclist you probably realize you’re a heart/lung machine. Runners and swimmers are too. And of course, there are those crazy people that do all three sports who are too, maybe more so.  I’ve got to say, it is so much fun to build and  drive these machines.

I see it like this- we are the engine. We work on it and build it to perform in different ways just like you would a car engine and just like a car, we have strengths and weaknesses and other design limitations. Some are due to genetics and others to desire. Some, I’m sure, are due to discipline.

The video below is of me and a friend driving our machines at the end of our 20 miler at MacAllister park. It’s on a fun Strava segment called Lungs. The link below will take you to the map of the ride.

Strava map.

This was a fun day. The engine was running good. It’s a little old and has lots of miles on it, some of them pretty hard, but we won’t get into that. I may have been at my skill limit but it was still enough to maintain a fun pace.  I went as fast as I wanted, or as fast as my skill would allow, without having to worry about getting a ticket. Or getting my car impounded! Or having my insurance rates sky rocket! Sorry, getting off subject here. (deep breath, serenity now, serenity now)

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say with all this ruminating is that I think fitness is fun. It’s not just for health reasons. Sure it’s good for you, but all things considered, doesn’t it all end up being about the fun you’re having? Isn’t it the best hot rod of all?

 

Sharing a Forty

 

^Sharing a Forty from James on Vimeo.

My friend Jack and I sometimes lead rides out in the Texas hill country. There are plenty of great roads around San Antonio to use for training and getting ready for all of the organized group rides that we have here.  Recently, many of our friends were getting ready to ride the Tour de Gruene so we decided to have a ride on a section that had some unknown climbs. We don’t have any mountains here so we knew they were all rollers, but if people were training in the flats the hills could come as a hard surprise. Especially for those doing the longer rides. The short video below shows just one of the many reasons to go on a ride with plenty of climbing.

Strava map.

Yes sir, those down hills can be fun. Maybe not as fun as the climbing, but still fun. We had quite a few of those on the ride. Most of them were easy to enjoy because the road and the view were good, making you feel more comfortable. I think on this ride I hit 40 at least three times. It’s too bad I can’t have a camera everywhere because I know I wasn’t the only one enjoying the speed rush. For those that had the strength and gearing, I’m sure 50 was there for them.

At the end Bill, Joe and I added a few hill repeats just for the fun it. Maybe next time we can do the whole route. After all, it’s almost time for the Tour de Grune again.

 

Chasing Youth

 

Chasing Youth from James on Vimeo.

When you get to be my age you ride with a lot of people that are younger. It helps your fitness because of their energy level.  But when they’re young AND fit? Well then, it’s going to hurt. This was a great 50 miler out around Smithson Valley and yes, it hurt.

Strava map.

The video is of a segment on Upper Smithson Valley Road. We had just finished a nice long steady climb and were now faced with the unenviable task of going down hill- fast. It wasn’t very steep but it was enough. Poor us. But somebody has to do it so we threw ourselves into the task. It did not disappoint.

We all took turns pulling but weren’t organized. It was more of a free for all. You know, more of a “let’s play with the gas pedal on this thing” type of ride. Everyone played, everyone had fun and everyone tried to remember what climbs were left in the ride. After all, we were only half way into the ride. But what the hell? It’s not like we haven’t blown up before. We all just put it on the credit card- and paid it back in the last five miles. Or maybe it was the last ten miles….

 

Attacked by Hornets

 

^Attacked by Hornets from James on Vimeo.

This video is of one of the rides Jack and I lead out in Bulverde. It was 50 miles with 2,300 ft. of climbing. There are no mountains here so any climbing that you do has to be out in the Texas hill country. And if you want to do a lot of climbing you have to plan very carefully in order to do as many of the small hills as possible. The link below will show you the map of the ride. The segment in the video is Last Mile to Bullis.

Strava map.

I like this segment. You do a nice steady tempo for a flat half mile then maintain what you can for the second half that goes up hill. Then you’re at the park for refueling for the next stage. It’s a fun ride with good climbing at the end.

This day was beautiful. It was 82 degrees and sunny. We all played hard on the first 20 but I still wanted to open it up a little on this segment. I started at the back so I could get this group in the video as I passed them. The second group had not made the turn onto this segment yet.

As I passed everyone I thought about how much fun I have on these segments. Everyone has their own favorite and they’re spread throughout the route. As I passed people most were lost in their own thoughts. Most were saving their energy for the climbs that were coming up. But some people are like hornets. When you pass them they wake up. Some of them come after you ready to sting!

And that’s what makes it fun. I don’t always know what’s going on behind me when I ride, so it’s cool when I get to see it on the video. What I see is people having fun. People putting the hammer down to make a hella catch! And I wonder, do the people in front of me know how much fun I had trying to catch them?

 

Madrone-With a Rock or Two

 

^Madrone- With a Rock or Two from James on Vimeo.

As I’ve said before, we have some great places to ride in San Antonio. Lately I’ve been riding with the Trail Ninjas and they took me to the Madrone trail in Canyon Lake. I’ve never ridden there mainly because everyone said it was a hard trail. Come to find out, it was. But there was plenty that I could ride.

Strava map.

My tour guides knew the trail well and sized me up accurately enough. They know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but they could warn me of what was coming up and give me some pointers. After all, I’m 441 years old in dog years. Too old to learn anything new but still with enough skills left to enjoy the trails. Plus I could watch them and enjoy some of it vicariously. It turned out to be a blast!

If you could only use one word to describe the trail it would be “rocky”. If you could use two, it would be “rocky as hell”. Ok, that’s three words but you get the picture. It also has plenty of short climbs. We got about 550 ft in 8 miles. Not bad for the area.

I’ve got a couple of hours of video to go through so I’ll show some more of the trail soon. You can see the map of the ride with stats on Strava and a short video with the link above. I’ll definitely be going back. I think there might be a rocky section we missed.

More Madrone- Oh Fudge

 

 

 

Rocky Raccoon

 

^Rocky Raccoon from James on Vimeo.

If you’ve read any of my other posts you know how I feel about Strava. I love it. It’s fun to go back and see my times on different segments, especially when I have a matching video! The video below is  of a segment called Rocky Raccoon. Click the Strava  link below to see the stats.

See Strava for map.

The segment is short, flat and very rocky. Now, you know that every segment has an optimum speed. I’m not talking about max speed, I’m talking about an efficient speed. One that doesn’t waste energy. The speed you would use if you were doing this segment in the middle of your 50 mile bike ride. That speed depends on your skill, fitness level at the time and the type of bike you’re riding. Obviously, it’s different for a full suspension bike as opposed to a rigid bike. Having said that, who wants to see efficiency?

I never know what’s going to happen during the ride. Luckily, I had the camera on when my friend dropped the  hammer. The video has nothing to do with finding an efficient pace. We just threw caution to the wind and tried to jump on his wheel. We’re not pros or world class athletes. We’re just average Joes having a great day. We had to save some energy since the goal was 25 miles but hey, we’ve all blown up before, right? If you’re not barely dragging your butt home every once in a while you’re just not visiting paradise.

 

 

Riding with Ninjas

 

^Riding with Ninjas from James on Vimeo.

The other day, after finishing up a Random Ride, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He’s with a group call Texas Trail Ninjas. I needed to round out the numbers on my Garmin so I decided to join them for a few miles.

Strava map.

One good thing about San Antonio is that it has a great cycling community. And just like there’s different types of riding to do, there are also groups with different styles of riding. So what the hell? I just jumped in and tried them out.

Funny thing is I wasn’t the one jumping. In fact, I had both wheels firmly on the ground the entire time. The Ninjas, on the other hand, were jumping everything – roots, rocks, gaps, bumps….leaves. Anything and everything. They reminded me of Salmon swimming up river and jumping out of the water all the time.

Unfortunately I didn’t get much of it on video. I still have about 2 hours of video to go through so maybe I caught some. And the battery died during the ride, so maybe I didn’t. Either way, I did catch the start of our ride so I posted that. You can see the video with the link above and see the ride stats on  strava. I also noticed that whenever we started going down hill, even the slightest amount, they woke up. I didn’t even go with them to the drops but on the way there I could tell what terrain they liked.

Whether I got any jumping video or not it was still a great day of riding. I didn’t get to see them do the drops but from the little I saw I know I need a full battery the next time I ride with them. As far as the day goes, I saw an old friend, made some new friends and got to see a new style of riding. As usual, it was another day in paradise.

 

Scrambled Legs

 

^Scrambled Legs from James on Vimeo.

Strava. It’s a love it or hate it thing, isn’t it? Me? I love it. When you do a lot of training on your own it’s a great way to see how you’re doing. You can see your time on different segments, plot routes or see other’s rides that you may want to try. And something I really like is that when you plot a ride it shows you how many feet of climbing there are in the ride. Pretty cool, right?

Strava map.

The cool thing about the segments is that you can compare your ride to previous rides you did there. You can also compare it to anyone that has ridden that segment before. And even cooler than that, you can compare it only to your friends that you follow. Even though you’re training by yourself, if you’re like me, you’re chasing that one guy ahead of you and trying to stay ahead of the person chasing you. It’s just another training tool for us to use.

The video attached to this post is a short one showing a segment we did at Mac. Everywhere you ride there are Strava segments. You can even set some up yourself if there’s a section you really like. Whoever set up the Scrambled Legs segment in the video picked a cool one. I always liked that section. And thanks to Jason, my friend in the video, I set a new PR! What can be better than that?

 

 

 

Ted’s Excellent Adventure

 

Ted’s Excellent Adventure from James on Vimeo.

The other day I was looking through the Facebook page of a group I belong to and noticed a new member who had just moved to Texas. He was asking if anyone could recommend some local trails. We’re pretty lucky here in this part of Texas as there are plenty of places to ride. I told him I could show him McAllister Park the next day and had several other members willing to help out. It looked like the weather was going to be perfect.

Strava map.

The day did not disappoint. It was sunny and cool, the trails were in great shape and everyone was fit and ready to rock. We ended up showing him 20 miles worth of Mac. Judging from his smile, I think we did ok.

I like playing Ambassador. It’s a good way to pay it forward. So many people have  helped me that I can’t even count them. Not to mention the fact that it allows me to appreciate what we have. It’s like watching a cartoon with kids. You see it through their eyes and you enjoy it more. The day we rode I saw how lucky we are to have the trails we have and to have a group like Storm to fight to keep those trails. My thanks go out to Ted and the others that went. They helped me enjoy another day in paradise.