Wednesday, April 3, 2013

30 miles of learning.

I'd been looking forward to this ride all week.  I had a rough route in my head and Thursday night I used connect.garmin.com to map it and upload it to my gps.  I used Google maps and garmin's to plan my route.  Trying to make sure that I wasn't using anyone's driveway or private land as a trail. 

I used one of my current 3L Camelbak reservoirs.  Quickly finding out that it fits, but it's very tight.  Lesson #1- Look for better fitting bladders/reservoirs.  I only filled the 3L reservoir with 2L so I could still fit my rain jacket in.  Advancements in reservoir technology over that last few years has been great.  Manufactures have addressed the "balloon" effect on there bladders in a variety of ways.  Camelbak has added a plastic baffle in there reservoir to keep it flat when in there packs.  Instead of turning into a dachshund which wallows around on your back as you ride.  Osprey has put a plastic insert on the inside of there bladders to keep them flat.  While these advancements are great for backpacks they suck for a frame bag.  Since the ride I've purchased a 2L Camelbak.  I'm thinking I can carefully reach in and cut the baffle inside allowing into balloon and fit easier in the frame bag.  Time will tell.

The ride started pretty much the same as most of my Scottsbluff rides.  Straight up a hill to start.  After riding for a bit I noticed the GPS wasn't tracking my progress.  Just giving me a MPH reading.  So about three miles in I finally hit the start button.  There's a learning curve with every GPS.  I just wish I knew where I was on that curve.  The GPS while it had it's bad moments was great.  Lesson #2 - better routing.  I had routed myself down some driveways and private property and had to make adjustments.  Those added another couple miles on to my total.  I loved the ability to have a map, average mph, mph, and a host of other stuff right at hand.  I like input on my rides.  Something to keep my brain busy.

Through out the ride I started noticing my shifter didn't move out of it's high range very much.  When I gave it some thought I found that I'd only been using the top four gears on my rear cassette.  Even with the steeper hills in the area, I'd only been using four gears.  Lesson #3 - Make better use of all my gears.  The bike is set up for mountains.  So some serious upward hills that would require the lower range that I wasn't using on dirt roads.  Once I add lower rolling resistance tires this will only grow worse.  I emailed Renold when I returned to pick his brain a bit.  He suggested a larger front chain ring.  I was thinking a road cassette.  I need to research this a bit more to decide on which way to go.

When Renold gave me the bike it had Nevegals on it.  Not the best tire for gravel.  So Renold also had a set of Quasi-Moto's that he loaned me as they would be better suited for the job.  When I changed them out I added new tubes and slime.  I knew the goatheads would be bad.  I just wasn't sure how bad.  I was totally expecting a flat on my first ride.  I lucked out.  I completed my ride with only a tire going low.  However after closer inspection once the ride was done, I think I got lucky on this ride.  If the tubes on this ride were gun shot victims they would have bleed out, I'm sure of it.  I had to wipe the tires down before loading it in the car.  There was so much slime, dirt, grass, crud on the tires. Lesson #4 - Need to experiment with sealant and thorn protection.  I have ordered a set of Stopflat liners and am going to change out one of the slime tubes with a Stans filled tube and try it for awhile.  To compare the two.

I packed enough food for about 3 hours.  I love granola bars and I know that I can work out pretty quickly after consuming them with out any negative results.  So I packed three bars, two different types.  Plus a few True North Clusters just because.  Lesson #5 - Dry food his hard to eat with out lots of water.  The first bar I ate was a dry bar(as compared to a chewy bar).  It probably took me two miles to get it all down.  That brings me back to hydration - Lesson #6 - Keep drinking and keep water readily available.   I need a longer hose on the Camelbak.  I'll be getting a connector to join two hoses together, so I can drink while being more upright.  Hopefully I'll drink more if it's easier to drink.

All in all it was a great ride.  Loved doing it and can't wait till I have the time to do it again.  Till then I'll work on the things noted here.
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