October and November Rides

I have yet to perfect the art of writing as life events happen.  Usually, life catches you up in events to the point where there is little time for writing about them.  Alas, I have now found the time to write about the memorable things I’ve learned about cycling in October and November 2008.  :)

Attempt At Cycling To The Top of Kinport Peak

City Creek TrailEver since I began this cycling craze portion of my life, I wanted to try out some serious mountain biking.  I had already given China Peak a try on my mountain bike earlier with some success, but now I wanted to give Kinport Peak a go!  So, in the second-to-last weekend of September, I set out on my mountain bike to give it a try.  This is a poplar time to explore the Kinport and City Creek Trail areas because the deciduous trees are showing their fall colors which makes riding or hiking the trails a very cool experience.  I rode up Lincoln Ave. to the start of the west trail that leads up to Kinport since I wasn’t in the mood for the up-and-down single track at the bottom of the City Creek trail system.  The uphill riding was pretty arduous since most of my riding has been on roads this year, but soon I got to a fork in the trail.  One path led downhill and the other went up, so I chose the uphill thinking that it would get me to Kinport quicker.  City Creek TrailThis turned out to be the wrong way and it was an extremely steep trail; it was at this point that I began feeling some pain in my lower back, especially when I was walking my bike up the horribly steep sections of the trail.  Eventually I discovered my folly in choosing this route, and then I did some white-knuckle downhilling back to the fork.  Between the terrifying vertical down-hilling and my lower back bothering me, I was pretty grumpy by the time I reached the fork.  Yeah, I’m not a very extreme mountain biker.  I’m more of a nice, safe, road and jeep-trail type.  But, don’t worry folks, my cycling tastes are constantly evolving, so eventually there’s a chance I may fall in love with <insert strange cycling style here>.

City Creek TrailAfter getting on the correct trail, I encountered the steep section that is unavoidable to get to the top of Kinport.  And this is where I screwed up my back some more.  I shot some photos and turned back after reaching a section of the trail that was both steep and littered with fist-sized rocks.  I really don’t understand how people cycle to the top of this god-forsaken trail.  Yes, yes, don’t mind my negativity, for I am yet an intermediate cyclist.  Give this trail a try and create your own opinion.  :)

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was in a lot of lower-back pain and this injury never fully healed for about 3 weeks.  Yeah, lower-back strains last a while.  According to some sources I found on the Internet, to avoid this problem in the future I might consider A) raising my handlebars a bit and B) trying some lower-back exercises.  Currently, my theory is to just give the finger to anything greater than a 15% grade.  Ok, I might still be a little bitter.  :(

The Two 92-mile Circum-Reservoir Trips

After a month or so of healing and waiting for a cycling-weather-friendly weekend to happen, I decided to hop on my favorite road-racing bicycle and do a ride I had never done before: ride around the American Falls Reservoir, the shortest route being about 92 miles.  I like to do at least one long ride once a year and so I thought this would do nicely for this year.  This route goes north from Pocatello into Fort Hall, then west across the Snake River on Ferry Butte Road, on to Springfield, then south to Aberdeen, then American Falls, and then back to Pocatello.  Yeah, you get to see lots of Idaho in this trip!  And at this time of year, you get the added benefit of checking out the giant mountains of sugar beets around Aberdeen ;) Ok, it is kind of a boring ride, but it has its own uniqueness and curiosities.

Attempt number one at this trip was disappointing.  The whole thing took me about 7.5 hours and I had to repair a flat tire twice while pumping up the other tire every 10 miles or slow due to a slow leak.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening to me since I supposedly found the holy grail to avoiding flat tires (tire liners).  Yeah, I was pissed to say the least.

After closer inspection of my tires and tire liners, I found that the problem was with the slippery tire liners sliding up on the side wall of the tires when trying to mount the tire/tire-liner/tube combo onto the rim.  It is literally impossible to keep the skinny, slippery liner laying flush against the tread portion of the tire.  My next idea was to buy some 1.5 inch wide mountain bike liners and put those in my 23 mm road tires so the liner would cover the entire inside of the tire.  Then again, I had already purchased a couple packages of the skinny road tire types, so I thought I’d think of another way.  I discussed it with my good friend and bike mechanic, John Bickelhaupt, and he suggested that I might try a little rubber cement to keep the liner in place until I got it all mounted onto the rim.  After giving this a shot, I discovered that rubber cement doesn’t bond to the tire nor the urethane liner at all.  I might was well use oatmeal as an adhesive.  After digging around in my basement, I found some automotive Seal-All brand glue that I used to use for fixing things on my old 1985 Volvo 240.  I was pretty desperate to get my tire problem solved, so I used a very thin coating of this stuff.  I made sure beforehand that it wasn’t the kind of glue that hardens into sharp crystals, since I knew that such a thing would eventually tear up the tire.

The very next weekend, I set out on the same 92 mile ride.  I wanted to prove to myself and to those reading this blog that it is possible to have a flat-less ride using road racing tires in territory littered with glass and thorns!  This ride was very pleasing indeed.  The wind was calm, I had no problems whatsoever, and I beat my previous time by like 1.5 hours.  Well, it appears that the glue and tire liner idea brings me closer to the zen of riding a road bike.

And now here is a more recent update to make this article even longer and more bloated.  On Friday, November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, I was riding this very same bicycle slowly along Highway 91, coming back to Pocatello from Inkom, casually chatting with my friend when all the sudden we heard a sound similar to a .22 caliber round going off!  After pulling over and giving the situation a closer inspection, I found that I had worn my rear tire down to the threads and it had finally succumbed.  Well, I was just happy that it had nothing to do with my bloody tire liner soap opera!  After using part of the blown tube to cover the 1-inch tear in my tire and inflating to about 70 psi, I was able to make it home.  The moral to this story is, do not become so preoccupied with preventing punctures that you forget to change your worn tires.  Or something like that.

3 comments to October and November Rides

  • Jeffro

    At what point is a blog considered ancient history to the point of it not being worth leaving a reply?

    Mountain biking back pain can be reduced by a few methods (in my perceived order of importance).
    0) Get/use a bike that fits.
    1) Build up your body’s core strength – yoga/pilates/etc.
    2) Mountain bike frequently and start on easier terrain and slowly build up to the more difficult and/or strenuous terrain as your body comfortably allows.
    As a long-time back-pain sufferer, I will attest to the validity of the above methods to improve back discomfort.

  • Haha, cycling is timeless and always relevant regardless of when information was posted (well, mostly)! Thanks for the tips. In my opinion, mountain biking has a lot more “gotchas” than any other kind of cycling, and it is ironic that mountain bikes are the most common (and usually low cost) kind of bicycle sold. I wonder how many people have tried getting into cycling by buying a mountain bike, hitting the trails, and then winding up getting injured in some way. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’m still working on learning mountain biking skills after years of all kinds of cycling. :-)

  • Jeffro

    I would argue your mountain biking ‘gotchas’ count being higher. Off road there are mostly only rules of survival after some courtesy rules. On the road there are rules of the road, which appear to challenge the majority of the riders I see in town, though they typically don’t have immediate consequences like more of the off-road gotchas provide. Additionally, riding on the road with others in a tight group should include a full set of rules for riding form and communication between the group and with other vehicles. On road the metal-caged vehicles tend to be more threatening to those in control of their bikes than things off-road.

    Mountain bikes depreciate faster than road bikes, and they can go more places, so it makes sense to me that there would be more of them, but I think they are also more prone to have things break and be rendered unrideable, which will reducing their total usage mix on the whole relative to the mix when they are sold. Most of the junk bikes I see are ‘mountain bikes’, but I doubt most would be adequate (let alone survive) a real mountain bike ride, so I view them to be more of a cheap and inefficient town and trail bike. So if you count the junk bike population as mountain bikes, I don’t think it is ironic at all that there are more ‘mountain bikes’ around. I consider junk bikes to be those that don’t require common quality bike shop tools, but can instead be ‘maintained’ with a couple crescent wrenches.

    I continue to see a mix of bike types around, though with the mountain biking around Pocatello, which I think is world class, I’m not surprised when I see more real mountain bikes than road bikes. Our mountain bike trails largely resemble our local ski hill – the terrain is either very easy, like a dirt road, or advanced to expert terrain, with little in between.

    I, too, am curious about how many cyclists buy a bike but then get injured and/or intimidated when riding, both off-road and on-road, as I know it happens with both. For those that can’t handle it, I just hope they bought a really nice bike in my size and are motivated sellers. ;-)

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