I Made It!

Yes, you pro/expert mountain bikers out there will scoff at this, thinking it is nothing…Anyone could go over those logs. Piece of cake.

For some reason, they’ve been one of my greatest fears…And I’ve attempted (and fallen) over logs three times the size. But I’ve never even tried to go over these.

But, today I did it. Well, I kind of moved a rock to act as a little ramp. But still.

I did it. Clipped in. And, didn’t fall.

Mini ramp (above)

And, just some photos because I take way too many pictures.

Spring is here

Bring it on, you branches, logs, rocks, roots, and hills. I will conquer you.

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And We Now Return to Triathlon Training

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written about my training–did you know how many blogs out there are by triathletes following their training and racing? Reading them makes me feel lazy. But, my “real” tri training for Timberman started this week. And, after last year, I think with proper nutrition, enough sleep, not working night shifts, and simply being smart about it all will help in my favor to finish it. Not only that, but now I can actually swim…Outside…Which I actually prefer to do than in a pool.

Monday was a run day–running without my Garmin, nor a HR monitor has somewhat bothered me… ohh well. The weather made up for it.

View from Burger Hill, Rhinebeck, NY

But, running, which was something I’ve been okay at and have done for years, I mean, I’ve done marathons, half marathons, trail races….Has not been going so great lately. Last week I went for a longer than usual run (you know, instead of 4 miles you run 13–who does that?) and did something to my hip. I let it rest, stretched, and did what I’ve been told to do, but my run Monday was a killer and ended up being a walk–so painful I couldn’t walk up the stairs in my house. So, that is somewhat concerning, especially since I have a half marathon to run in less than 4 days. :-/

To give my hip a rest, yesterday I went for a great road ride which ended up being an easy 25miles–I’m saving my longer one for friday. And, to think I was riding in almost 70 degree weather in March is unheard of. It’s hotter in NY than in Austin, TX! Spring is here!

Catskills in the background, taken from the road ride

Today, since I went for a mountain bike ride last night as well, I’m taking a rest day…Maybe go to the pool later…We’ll see. (I actually do have a training plan that I follow–I really do!).

However, my race schedule this year, which really depends on work schedule, includes some different, and I’d say more challenging in certain aspects,  races: mountain bike races. I ended up going for a short spin last night before the sun really set and realized (1) I love going fast and (2) I love mountain biking, even if it really hurts, and (3) it’s simply fun, technical, difficult, challenging, and a blast. So, why not give this type of racing a try?

Trying to race the setting sun in the woods

This....

Caused this...Amongst the other bruises and scrapes all over my body.

Last car in the parking lot with my bike...Gotta love it

Soon, I’ll be racing with these guys…Well, women. And, maybe not the World Cup right away….

WinterBike and Kingdom Trails in the Winter

They say the first time you attempt something and don’t succeed, try, try again.

And that’s what I do–whether it be mountain biking, swimming, or xc skiing.

Months ago, a friend and I decided to head up to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT for a mid-winter gettaway. I’ve shared my first (solo, mind you) mountain biking trip there this summer here . And, in the summer, it is amazing. Miles and miles of single or double track for mountain biking, technical trails and downhill for  those adrenalen junkies, to leisurely groomed paths.

co. of Winterbike

Ofcourse, I didn’t go up to go mountain biking in March. Well, that is a lie, because technically, the reason for the trip was to go to WinterBike, an event that started this year where mountain bikers from all over are invited to come and ride together on groomed cross country paths. A sweet idea. They had rides for riders of every level– fatbike rides, studded tyre rides, inntermediate, and “leisurly” paced rides. Towards the end, they even served Vermont cheese (yumm!) and a variety of local brews. After the main event, there was a race for those hardcore mountain bikers who really have no fear at all…I’m pretty sure they were stoked about the ability to race in the winter. I’m definitely going again next year.

As with the rest of the Northeast, East Burke did not get a huge amount of snow. As I recall, driving into Lyndonville looking over at my driver saying, “Umm, where is the snow?” thinking that there would be feet and feet of snow everywhere you looked. Nope. Fortunetly, at higher altitutes, there was more snow…Super for WinterBike! I did notice there was snow on Burke Mountain, so entering the town of East Burke observing visitors bundled up in ski gear gave me hope there would be enough snow to ski on. But, with the weather we’ve had, I think we managed to embrace the last of the snow of their winter snow season. **Meaning, next time I go, it’ll be for pure mountain bike pleasure!**

Kingdom Trails is amazing and has so much to offer for every season. In the winter, it has has special Nordic Trails only for cross country ski and snowshoe use. There is Darling Hill, which has about 20 km of trails which can be used for skiing, as well as Dashney Farm, with about 50km of trails–this is where the WinterBike event was held.

Some Winterbike Photos

Most courtesy of K.Young

Fatbikes!

Mountain bikers are simply hardcore. Shorts? Wicked awesome.

Vermont cheese, bread, PB, water, local beer, local vodka...What else do you need?

Cross Country Skiing

Okay, it’s actually a lie that I’ve never been cross-country skiing before. I have. Years ago. Furthermore, once upon a time, we owned a “Nordic Track” which I used religiously before we gave it away. During winters as a child my family would travel to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (in Bavaria) so my siblings and I could downhill ski, or snowboard. But that was years ago. Truth be told, with the winter we had last year in the Hudson Valley, I thought I’d be getting much more use out of my cx skis than I did this year. But, the Molly philosophy on learning how to do something is to go full speed ahead and simply, do it. Thankfully, I had an amazing person with me who actually does ski (and worked at a ski shop) and could teach me the correct way to cross-country ski.

Oh, and if you were wondering, exercising on a Nordic Track™ is nothing compared to actually cross-country skiing. For one, you don’t have hills; two, you don’t have ice, and three, with a Nordic Track you have something to rest your abdomen against. 

We were fortunate to stay at the Wildflower Inn, a Bed and Breakfast on Darling Hill, right from which you could clip in the skis and ski (or ride in the summer). It’s an amazing place, and has activities for the whole family–if you have a family that is. Plus, they have the best pancakes with REAL maple syrup and their breakfasts are phenomenal. Not only that, they are accommodating to vegetarians and those who must eat gluten-free. Their restaurant, Juniper’s, has incredible food too. I highly recommend it. Plus, I must admit, having a weekend with no phone, computer, television (not that I ever actually watch TV) was amazing. I may be old-fashioned, but I do miss the days when society was not so dependant on technology as we are now.

Fun at Wildflower

Courtesy of K.Trails...Darling Hill Nordic trails

Mountain bikes and skis in one car...And missing my bike

The Inn

Sledding at night behind the Carriage House where we stayed

He is an extreme sledder

The Inn has hot cider, tea, crackers, Vermont Cheddar Cheese, and homemade cookies every afternoon

View from Heaven's Bench in the winter

Where we stayed

Besides the point, after a five-hour drive to get to the Inn, it was time to learn how to ski. The person I was with had no problem whatsoever photographing my dread, terror, and fear.

With the lack of snow, most of the trails of Darling Hill were fields and tracks of ice. Not the best conditions for learning how to ski. (I’m pretty sure downhill skiing, from what I remember, is much easier than cross-country skiing). After some side-step instructions, learning how to snow plow, learning how to get in and out of the skis, we were off on the Bemis Trail. It took some time to get used to the movement, especially since I’m not used to the use of the poles and upper body, but I managed with only a few “Craaaaaaaps,”  “I can’t do this,” and, “I’m coming!!!Slowly.” Thank goodness for my skiing partner. He could not have been more patient with me.

Preparing for skiing

Mentally preparing myself

Coming along slowly…

Best teacher ever

The Nordic Center

Courtesy of Kingdom Trails

Before heading back south to NY, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and do some more skiing at Dashney Hill Farm. It had been nicely groomed from the WinterBike event the day before, but with the 40° weather, the snow was melting fast, and making trails turn into trails of ice. Going up was fine. Going down, however, was a different story. But, we were able to spend a couple of wonderful hours skiing, only passing a few snowshoe-ers along the way.

 We tend to wear matching colored hats and same-brand sunglasses.

All in all, it was a fantastic, fun, sometimes terrifying weekend BUT with no broken bones or hospital visits. If you are into mountain biking on the east coast, Kingdom Trails is the place to go. And now we know you can cross-country ski there, as well as downhill!

Thank you, to the volunteers at the Kingdom, the organizers of WinterBike (my t-shirt is the bomb), and the friendly, welcoming staff at the Wildflower Inn.

Ohh, and one last thing. If you decide to travel to East Burke, it is vital to stop at the Country Store, located right across from the Burke Sports store and gas station. They have the most appetizing homemade maple-oat or maple-wheat bread, and delicious sandwiches. 🙂

Mountain Biking—Clipped in

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. ~Eleanor Roosevelt  

They say that your first time clipped into pedals on a bike can be intimidating. Yes, over a year ago I went clipless with my Mavic’s on my road bike, and that was nerve-wrecking, especially stopping intime for cars and traffic etc etc. But with time, the thought of having normal pedals became an idea of the past. Plus, with duathlons and triathlons, my biking shoes are clipless. It’s something that I got used to.

Being clipped into a mountain bike is, yes, intimidating, but it is also terrifying, atleast for a beginner.

I’ve done my share of mountain biking around Dutchess County– mostly 909 and Ferncliff Forest, but have also dabbled in Round Top in Greene County and Onteora in Ulster County. There are amazing Mountain bike clubs, such as Fats in the Cats and the up-and-coming Round Top Mountain Bike Association who have done really a great job at keeping mountain bike trails biker friendly and have group rides if you are ever interested. Heck, I even went to Kingdom Trails by myself–alone–to mountain bike ride. For those rides, though, I was never clipped into the pedals of the bike. Simply put, being clipped in is being attached to the bike. You and the bike are one. **In basic terms, you are stuck to the bike.*** 

With the amazing March weather we’ve had, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to spend more time mountain biking than normally. And, found out there are many more bike trails at Ferncliff than I ever really new which is amazing for me since it’s about a 3mile ride from my house.  Anyway, I decided it’s time to put on my big girl pedals on my mountain bike, and take them off my cross bike until next season, and learn how to ride clipped in. Actually, I need to know how to ride clipped in, because the first mountain bike race of the New York State Mountain bike series is in June. And, I need to crush that race (What, me? Competitive? Pu-leeez, not at all.)

Sun setting on the Hudson

Yesterday was my first time clipped in. And within the first seven minutes riding on trails I’ve done many times before, I fell four times. That’s when all the confidence built up from prior riding simply oozed out my pores and left me fearful, and dreading being stuck to my bike. Ohh, by the way, when you fall, your shoes actually clip out of the pedals without you even knowing it! The ride was fun, but with shattered confidence, I rode home after an hour, full of scratches and bruises over parts of my body, thinking “I’m never mountain biking again clipped in. I will forever be horrible at this. Everything hurts. Ughhhhhh why is there a hill on Mt. Rusten road going back to Rhinebeck?” (Yes, I wasn’t very chipper).

This morning I woke up and decided, after an amazing cup of coffee, the only way to conquer a fear is to face it full on…That, and to practice…and just know you are going to fall and get hurt. I got to the parking lot, clipped in, and was off. Riding a mtn bike clipped in is much easier for going up hill (1) because you can keep up momentum and (2) your shoes don’t slide off the pedals.

My car and bike--first in the lot!

And, after LOTS of psyching myself up…I was able to weave through trees, ride up over roots, and on descents jump off the rocks.Okay, they weren’t huge cliffs, but I’d say riding off a large 6-7 inch high rock is pretty decent for being concerned for my safety. ***Another FYI, it’s easier to go faster than to go slower when clipped in.***

Fun

Coming down...It's steeper than it looks

Then, the inevitable happened. No, I did not fall off a bridge into water like last year (which can be read about here). But I fell. And hard. You know, the type of hard where the end of the handle bar jabs you right in your trachea and kinda “blows the wind outta ya.” But, it’s bound to happen. I just hope the bar jabbing into my windpipe won’t happen again (knock on wood), but I did make it out of the forest alive and with more confidence mountain biking than I ever had using normal pedals. (Which, by the way, I switched off my cross bike all.by. myself…Learning how to build a bike from scratch really teaches you things.)

Seriously...It is steeper than it looks

So, if you are ever hesitant about going clipless, it just takes time, practice, no fear, and knowing that you’ll fall and hurt yourself at somepoint. And, you WILL get better. Trust me.

**Ohh, and it’s a smart idea to have health insurance, too, if you do such an activity. And to let someone know where you are going, just incase.And having a mobile phone isn’t always the best thing, since some dislike being thrown from your CamelBak or crushed against rocks when you fall. ***

Goose in pond....Just because I like taking pictures

Building a Bike: Bottom Bracket, Crankset, and Rear Derailleur

Building a bike from scratch isn’t actually that difficult if you have all the parts and know what you are doing. Having short weekends has not helped my burning desire to finish this bike. But, my bike will be built soon, I hope, for I have many outdoor adventures I want to have it for. No, it’s not that I don’t have any other bikes–I have four already, but this bike is special.

Bike before

Below are the parts, and tools, that were used today:

  • Suntour XCE Crank
  • Eastern BMX Platform Pedals (which can be changed later if I decide I do not really like them)
  • Shimano Altus front/rear derailleurs
  • TOOLS25mm/36mm Bottom Bracket fixed cup wrench
  • Lock ring
  • Pin spanner
  • screw driver
  • 14mm socket wrench
Suntour XCE Crank with crank arm and spindle with bearings
Tools neded

greased threads in the bottom bracket

1.I started with greasing the threads in the big bracket shell. Then, I greased the cup and put it into the threads using my hands to turn the cup until I could no longer do it with my hands. That’s when I turned to a 35mm wrench.

sliding the bearing over the spindle, then sliding the adjustable cup over the spindle

2.I then greased the bearings, quite liberally, because those will be used a lot during riding.After, I slid the bearings on each end of the spindle-note: make sure the bearings face outward. Then,I greased up the threads on the ends of the spindle because eventually the ends will receive a nut.

3. Now I returned to the adjustable cup. After greasing the threads at the ends of the spindle, I slid the spindle through the adjustable cup. The Bottom Bracket shell is an important component because it houses the parts of the bike which rotate– the adjustable cups make sure the spindle stays in place, and the crankarms which are attached to the ends of the spindle, allow for the bike to move.

4. When you add the adjustable cup, you do not want the spindle loose. Hand tighten the cup down until it takes up as much “free play” as possible. Then, you use the lock ring pliers  and bottom bracket fixed cup wrench, at the same time, to tighten the lock right–the lock ring keeps the adjustable cup from moving.

tightening the spindle into place

** When you remove the tools, and there is a little bit of “leeway” with the spindle,it is okay.

5. Now it’s time for the rear derailleur. You need to grease the threads and this is when you will need your ALLEN KEY. There are two types of rear deraileurs–short cage and long cage. “Cage refers to the two side plates that hole the derailleur pulleys apart. A short cage derailleur is used primarily in conjuction with two-chainring drivetrains like those commong on road racing bikes.Long cage deraillerus allow for a greater difference in cogset and chainring combinations and are most or very wide-range cogset in the rear. there are also mid-cage or medium care gear derailleurs that are sometimes favored by mountain bikers  who opt for two from chainrings instead of the usual three” ( Downs, The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance &Repair, Rodale Inc, 2010, p. 227).

rear derailleur and fixing it to the bike

6. For the rear derailleur, you need to grease the threads and attach to the  bike using an allen key.You want the derailleur to be snug.

7. The front derailleur/Crankset

 FYI the crankset is composed ot chainrings, the spindle in the bottom bracket which ultimetely attaches to the crankarm, the retaining ring, chainring bolts, the “spider,” and the chainring bolt and chainring fixing bolt. The Front Derailleur is composed of a cable anchor, clamp band with clamp bolt, pivots, an outer arm, an inner arm, an outer cage plate, and an inner cage plate. You want the face plate (a.k.a. the outer cage plate) of the front derailleur to be parallel with the chainring before you secure the derailleur to the “seat tube” of the bike. When fastening the front derailleur to the bike, it is also vital that there is no clearance between the upper teeth of the chainring and the plate of the derailleur. You use your allen key to secure the derailleur in place using the clamp bolt, a part of the derailleur.

fixing the chainring, adding the crankarm

Front derailleur and rear

tightening the left sided crankarm

8.  Pedals are one of the next step *Note, there is more than one way to  put together a bike. This is simply the way we did it. I have platform pedals. The key to pedals is to know the left pedal is reverse threaded, which means you must turn it counterclockwise (after you grease the threads, of course) when inserting it in the crankarm. The right pedal twists in clockwise. And, it is vise versa when you remove them.

Putting on the pedals!

And, that’s it (for now). Learning to build a is a tedious but fun activity to learn how to do! The next installment in this series on bike assembly will be coming shortly.

Fur Ball helping with the writing and research of this post.

My bike building guide

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