Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for August, 2006

New bike!

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Finally, I got a new bike! I bought a GT Avalanche 2.0 from Indy Cycle Specialist. It kind of sucks that I had to go to Indianapolis to find a GT, but it was definitely worth the trip, and I liked the shop a lot. Here’s the bike:

Here’s a cool shot of my GPS mounted on the handlebars:

I’ve gone on three rides with it so far, Saturday, yesterday and today.

Today’s ride was to Wapehani with Chris, Tyler, and Collin from work. When I got there, I had a bit of trouble getting the front wheel back on — I wasn’t entirely surprised, because I had some trouble with that when I got the bike home. I don’t know whether the disc for the front brake isn’t mounted quite right, or if the thing with the pads isn’t lined up right, or if I’m just incompetent, but it took me a while to get the wheel on in such a way that the front brake didn’t rub. I need to use the bike rack more in the future.

Anyway, as for the ride itself, here’s a map and elevation profile. I need to figure out a way to calibrate my GPS or something, it shows us riding onto the highway, and a bit into the lake — which we didn’t.

My bike handled the trails pretty damn well, better than I did, that’s for sure. It’s a pretty technical course, and there are lots of roots and other obstacles — the suspension absorbed a lot of the bumps, allowing me to concentrate more on, well, riding! I need to try to find the optimal stiffness for the suspension. I think I could set it a bit softer without having problems. I haven’t bottomed it out once yet.

I am really loving the brakes on this bike. I’m still getting used to them, but I already have pretty good control, and can slow down slightly or stop suddenly to whatever extent my traction allows. To a certain extent, when you’re flying around a bumpy trail with loose dirt and (increasingly) leaves on it, you just aren’t going to have terrific traction. I think better tires would help, but the ones I have don’t seem bad.

There are a few problems I’ve noticed; sometimes I have a bit of trouble shifting (the chain has gotten bunched up in the front derailleur a couple of times), there’s a really annoying noise coming from, I believe, either the crank or the rear wheel. Also, the pedals suck. Fortunately, I’ve got 1 year free service from the shop. Unfortunately, I have to go to Indy to take advantage of it.

Overall, though, the bike is working out great. I’m also getting better at going over logs and other obstacles. I still need work at that, but I feel more confident and usually can get over obstacles fairly well.

I didn’t think the path we took through Wapehani was as much fun as the ones we did last time, but it was more challenging. It seems each direction you can take at Wapehani (and there are many!) has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Yesterday and Saturday, I rode in the woods in my old neighborhood. I went further than I usually do. The short ride to the pond and back just isn’t enough anymore; Unfortunately, there’s no way to go just a bit further without going a much more exhausting route. So I think I need to pretty much keep at it and hopefully I’ll get in better shape.

There’s one part of the ride that’s a lot of fun, where you go downhill while curving around to the left, then go straight, through this dip, and then up and to the right. There are a lot of roots, and it used to be pretty harrowing for me at times, but I can pretty much just cruise through the whole thing on my new bike — it’s great!

Here’s the map and profile for this ride:

GPS Mapping

Friday, August 18th, 2006

I’ve tried mapping my ride at Brown County State Park with a few different programs. The data is from my Garmin eTrex Vista GPS, which is mounted on my handlebars. Here are the results (click for larger versions).

Google Earth:

Garmin Mapsource Topo:

ExpertGPS Trial – Topographic map:

ExpertGPS Trial – Aerial photo:

ExpertGPS Trial – Elevation Profile


Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

I went to Wapehani Mountain Bike Park for the first time today, with some coworkers (Chris, Dan, and Tyler) — I really wasn’t prepared for the experience. I had heard that it was a more technical course than Brown County, but I guess I didn’t realize what that meant. I also didn’t realize how hardcore Chris and Dan are (Tyler had to leave when I got there).

It was definitely intimidating. First of all, my rear brakes aren’t working too well, which causes a lot of problems. But more than that, Wapehani has a lot of steep drops and climbs, as well as some pretty rough conditions you have to overcome. There are a lot of roots, and in one spot, there was a palette-type thing used to cover a hole, but it was missing a couple of slats. Fortunately, Chris warned me about it and that I needed to do a little wheelie as I rode over it to avoid an accident. I pulled it off pretty well — it was pretty exciting! The steep dips and drops were a bit frightening, but overall a lot of fun to ride through.

There are also a couple of parts where you ride on a wooden bridge, which wasn’t hard, but it was fun. I enjoyed Wapehani a lot and look forward to going back!

I really need to quit smoking. I was having trouble breathing and started wheezing after a while. I think I could do longer rides if only I could breathe bettter. I also need to carry more water.

Although it was only about a 40-minute ride, I was pretty exhausted. I’m not used to riding in those conditions and on such a challenging course. I need to ride more — I’m still in pretty crappy shape, and I can only handle about an hour of mountain biking at a time right now.

According to my bike computer, some stats:
Distance: 2.923 miles
Max speed: 15.2 miles
Average speed: 6.8 mph

I realized that I didn’t write anything about my ride in Brown County State Park last weekend. It wasn’t too hard technically, but the hills absolutely kicked my ass. I was exhausted by the end of the ride, but had a great time.

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