Cycling – 12 months on (belated)

For many years my Cannondale mountain bike remained dormant (fallow, having a spell) while I contemplated selling it.  It was fun to ride cross country on rough grass fields, but every time I tried any type of dirt riding I felt like I was too high and too ungainly to be safe. That changed on 31 December 2012 when I ventured onto the fire trails near my house and was hooked. I was very sore, but vowed to keep it up.

On 1 January 2012 I tracked my ride with MapMyRide (since converted and uploaded to Strava) and explored more of Mulligan’s Flat.  The initial fire trail gave way to narrow tyre tracks and loose quartz on steep (to me) climbs.  Despite bursting my lungs and frying my legs I was getting into it.

Mulligans Flat – 12 months on

To celebrate New Year’s I retraced the route from 12 months before.  I probably rode at 80% effort to maintain a steady pace and not redline.  So how did I do compared to last year? About 40% faster!

  1. Kangawallafox Climb 5:52 to 3:55
  2. Mulligan Downhill 1:58 to 1:36
  3. Left Coach to Standup 6:11 to 4:06. Considering that the fast, hard clay downhill section was metalled and had rain bars cut in during September and used to be a top gear run, that’s a very good performance.
  4. Standup 1:12 to 0:38

12 months of change

It’s easy to have huge gains in the first year, especially from a low base of activity and fitness, but that’s no reason not to celebrate:

  • Weight fell from 115kg to 103kg
  • Body fat fell from 30% to 26.5%
  • Visceral fat fell from 15 (bottom of unhealthy range) to 14 (in the healthy range, just)

Fitness gains weren’t obvious until October and my weight plateaued at 105kg.  While my times were getting faster my heart rate remained high even on medium-high efforts.  Suddenly I was smashing out times equal or better than previous bests but with heart rate 10-20bpm lower.  I even rode a very steep section between Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura, hit 195bpm at the steepest section and my heart rate dropped to 170bpm as the slope moderated slightly to the peak.

12 months of learning

Things that you learn, often the hard way.  Fortunately, there’s help around if you ask and are lucky to have willing coaches.

  • Road/MTB: Correct position on the bike is vital.  The wrong position will cause pain, suffering and general hatred of cycling.  Get measured by an expert and take their advice.
  • Adjust gradually.  Don’t make too many adjustments too far too quickly.
  • Road: If you are not a supremely-fit and flexible athlete or sponsored, get an endurance bike.  You will be faster because you will be more comfortable.
  • MTB: Tyre pressure makes a big difference.  I’m still quite heavy so I leave 35-40psi in tubed tyres.
  • MTB: It is the opposite of what seems right, but put weight on the front wheel.  Grip and cornering confidence will result.  The back wheel can work out things for itself.  Often.
  • Road/MTB: Ride with others.  Whether they are faster or slower or at the same level matters not.  Riding with someone else makes the distance shrink, is safer and the coffee tastes better.  You’ll learn from others and learn more about your own riding too.  Just make sure that at least one of you is carrying a puncture repair kit and a pump.
  • Always offer help to fellow cyclists in need.
  • Don’t be afraid to extend yourself.  It’s only too far and too fast and too difficult until you do it.  My longest ride sat at 70km for months until I almost doubled it to 133km on a Saturday morning for fun.

And for 2014?

For 201, I shall be mostly riding, Audax.  Plodding along over great distances suits me more than racing.  So I’m considering several 100km events this year, culminating in a crack at Fitz’s Challenge.  I just have to learn how to climb unremitting hills.

So, what will you be doing this year?

Bike Repairs – new bottom bracket

English: WD-40
English: WD-40 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to repair and upgrade my old road bike regularly, taking it from a 12-speed to 21-speed in the process.  The only things I haven’t replaced on that old thing are the front rim and hub, brake callipers and the frame.

My newer bikes are a different prospect.  Firstly, my big old tools aren’t needed or just don’t fit.  My Cannondale Super V is weird anyway and my Trek Domane can be taken apart using only Allen keys.

The Cannondale has been clicking on the bottom of the pedal stroke for a while.  At the last service I was assured that the BB was fine, whereas the rear hub bearings were stuffed.  I wasn’t so sure.

Luckily, I only needed a new BB tool, Park Tool BBT-32 as my old crank puller would do the rest.  I also bought new Park Tool PPL-1 PolyLube from Bike Culture.

Crank bolts were removed with 8mm Allen key, then the cranks were pulled.  I used the BBT-32 on the non-drive side to remove the plastic cup.  Removing this side first releases pressure on the drive-side thread and will make removal a little easier.  The hardest part is keeping the splines of the tool engaged; clean the cups with a brush beforehand.  Even then, the tendency was for the tool to twist out.  The thread is quite stiff until the cup is all the way out.

The drive side wasn’t budging.  I sprayed WD-40 from the other side to penetrate the thread and a few minutes later the BB was free.  The threads are integrated into the body of the BB.

A few turns of the axle and the grinding was obvious.  It is not unusual to have some resistance when you turn the axle, but this was gritty and sticky and yucky.  And not a user-serviceable item, either.  While everything was off the bike I removed the chain-wheels and gave everything a good scrub in the parts washer.  The black cranks and chain-wheels polished up nice.

As luck would have it, Pushys Wheels were having a Boxing Day sale, so there was hope of getting a new BB.  I needed a 68mm (width of the frame at the bottom bracket) x 111mm (width of the axle) but had to settle for a 68 x 113.  The extra 2mm would require a change of chain-line at the front, which shouldn’t be too much to compensate for, I thought.

Fitting was straightforward, using plenty of lube on the threads and a very thin layer on the cranks tapers.  (Old timers might shudder at the idea if greasing the tapers before replacing the cranks, but a thin layer will help to seat the crank and won’t make the cranks round out.)  Once it was all back together, I rode around for a bit and re-tightened.

The front dérailleur needed adjustment.  The front mech has always been temperamental; last weekend it threw the chain off the small ring and the large ring on one ride.  I shifted the limit screws to some semblance of 2mm and put some tension in the cable adjusters.  I had enough to get into all front chainwheels, though the middle needs a little more thumb than usual.  I really wanted a ride by the afternoon, so fine adjustment could wait.

During the ride (more on that later), I adjusted the shifting a little, but it is still hit and miss.  Fortunately the rear shifts as sweetly as ever, so I could stick to a chain-wheel and grind one out.

Or rather, not grind.  The smooth action from the new BB was immediately obvious.  I often put a lot of expectation on any adjustment or new component to have benefits several orders of magnitude greater than their cost.  But I could tell that even steep and loose hills were easier to climb and the pedal action was much smoother.  Not bad for $40 (+$40 for tools and lube).

Bicycle repair can be liberating and cheap; not only saving on labour costs but also by extending the life of existing components and knowing when to replace before failure in an inconvenient location.  Proper tools are essential to avoid expensive injury to bike and self.  And a workstand helps (Pushy’s have a nice one reduced to $99.)  And it keeps your mechanic honest.

 

Mental anguish from a lack of riding

Oh the irony… just as I seem to be making gains in strength and fitness, I’m off the bike because of illness. Not in sub-zero conditions, fog or the exhaustion of exertion, but just at the start of Spring weather.
A bug, maybe two bugs; chest and stomach. There have been so many good rides in the past three weeks and I have had to stay away from all of them. Most disappointing was missing The Berm ride of the Canberra Centenary Trail; 140km in one day. I’m currently missing the first day of a two-day ride of the same trail.
The stomach bug has left me quite crook in the mornings, but generally not too bad. The sniffles and slight asthma symptoms have been annoying rather than debilitating. I suspect that I have greater lung capacity that has compensated for the congestion.
The worst effects have been mental. I am serious missing out on the feelings of pleasure and pain. I am seriously going spare waiting to get back on a bike.
By the same token, staying off the bike has been useful Despite the lack of activity, I’ve lost 1-2kg over these weeks but I’m sure that my leg muscles have more definition.
My first ride will be tomorrow at the Onyabike Giant Demo Day at Mt Stromlo, where I’ll try the 27.5 versions of the Trance and XTC; my first hardtail. I would like to have a few lazy k’s in my legs before attempting a serious ride, but a quick ride tonight is probably all that I’ll get.
New goal: Before the centenary year is out I must complete the Centenary Trail.
No ride, no life.

Back in the saddle – sitting further forwards

The past 3 weekends have not been easy to fit in a ride. I’ve put on 2.5kg as a result.  My first ride in 3 weeks was going to be a bit hard, I thought, especially since I was riding with my colleague Ed who has a few KOM on Strava to his name.  The cold morning and forecast high temperature was a challenge too.  Fingerless gloves seemed a good idea but the temperature didn’t rise despite the bright sunshine.

I arrived 20 minutes early to the rendezvous and the prospect of getting sitting still and chilling wasn’t appealing  I rode a lap of Northbourne Ave and returned at 0700 not much warmer.  A nice climb to the Sutton Turn-off and back to Dickson for breakfast.  A moderate ride with plenty of PRs for me  I’d put many of the PRs down to maintaining a steady pace and high cadence.

A bicycle, a few months ago
A bicycle, a few months ago

Mountain bike seating position

I was professionally fitted for my road bike but my mountain bike was just the biggest one they had.  This year I’ve made little adjustments every few weeks and mostly realised benefits almost immediately.  But it was a mystery why my saddle was all of the way back.  I easily mono-ed up several steps on a long climb, nonchalantly riding in the saddle and lifting the front wheel with ease.  When I got home I noticed the position of the seat and the obvious leverage it would have given me.

But I was struggling with flat turns and berms and never seemed to keep the right line.  Either the front tyre would have low grip or I’d steer too much and have constantly correct.  I would often put a foot down to keep upright.

A colleague who happens to be a level 2 cycling coach said that I had to get more weight onto the front tyre to get the grip.  It seems sensible but at the same time frightening.

So I prepped the bike for this morning’s ride by putting the saddle in the middle of its rails, about 30mm forward.

I instantly found grip on the corners that I had been washing out on during previous rides.  Even the very dry and dusty conditions weren’t affecting my grip.  I could hit every flat turn and berm with confidence and a certain impunity, gliding through corners with a bit of speed.

Make small adjustments and leave time to adjust to them; that’s always been my watchword

PR on every Segment – Mulligans Flat ride

I had a great day for results today.  I PR’d every segment I rode and smashed some old times.  I was feeling 9/10 and even though the wattle pollen was noticeable.

Name Dist Elev Speed HR New Time Previous Best
Mulligan’s gate to gate east 3.3km 32m 22.9km/h 164bpm 00:08:30 00:09:07
Kangawallafox Climb 1.7km 29m 24.1km/h 171bpm 00:04:15 00:04:34
Quoll Gate to Curlew Gate 1.4km 9m 21.2km/h 164bpm 00:03:50 00:04:55
Mulligans Not So Flat – The Rest 1.5km 22m 16.0km/h 169bpm 00:05:50 00:05:50
mulligan’s gate to gate west 3.3km 33m 20.3km/h 159bpm 00:09:32 00:10:03
Mulligan’s Sanctuary to Gate 0.5km 9m 21.0km/h 169bpm 00:01:31 00:02:09

On segments 1, 2 and 5 I waited at the top for my colleague Amandeep, so there’s almost 20s to gain there.  On those segments I pushed quite hard, maybe 90-95% effort.  The big difference was that my legs provided power without question instead of crumbling as I reached the top.

Makes me want to set some goals:

  1. Mulligan’s gate to gate east in 8:00
  2. Kangawallafox Climb in 3:45
  3. Quoll Gate to Curlew Gate in 3:40
  4. Mulligans Not So Flat – The Rest in 5:30 (I should aim lower, but I’ll just have to see.)
  5. mulligan’s gate to gate west in 8:00 (which should be easier than going East if the current times from other riders are anything to go by.)
  6. Mulligan’s Sanctuary to Gate in 1:25.

Now that Spring is starting, I might start morning rides and chase these times down.

It also appears that my average heart rate, while still high, is moderating and my recovery time is improving gradually.

9/10

 

The Bonner Widowmaker and creating segments in Strava

Strava view of Bonner Widowmaker segment
Strava view of Bonner Widowmaker segment

This morning the fog was quite thick and had only just burnt away when I went for my ride. I intended to explore a few new tracks identified as segments on Strava.  The Border Run has an alternative downhill section I wanted to check out and I also wanted to create a segment that Amandeep and I have ridden (and in my case walked) recently.

Bonner Widowmaker

That name comes from the Widowmaker Hill Climb that I saw on Wide World of Sports 30 years ago.  The main event features 1000 ft (305 m) of climbing on a nearly impossible hill.  Despite modifications such as paddle-wheel style tread rear tyres and very long chain stays, only 19 riders have reached the summit in over 4500 attempts.  I can’t find a gradient measurement, but it is beyond steep.

The Bonner Widowmaker is steep and silly like its Utahan namesake.  The average gradient is 11.25% (the figure above for distance is rounded to the nearest 100m.) with sections as steep as 23%.  It is almost too steep to walk, let alone ride up.  Or down.  The path is mostly grass with thin tyre tracks in the hard clay.  Pink quartz is scattered in sections, making the path quite bumpy.  It is so steep that your front wheel is very light and can easily leave the ground and it’s all too easy to loop the bike.  Even sitting on the nose of the saddle with my hands on the bar-ends with elbows bent and my body forward and low wasn’t enough to prevent wheelies.  But at least I was able to keep a fairly straight line.

I stopped five times.  My elapsed time was 18:18, which felt like my earlier attempts.  My resting time was 12:41, time that I spent sitting, admiring the view and waiting for my heart rate to fall to a human level.  So my riding time was 7:27.  Had I stayed on for the length of the climb, I’d say that 7:27 was a good time.  With better fitness, I might just be able to climb that hill in a single go, or at least without stopping for death 5 times.

On my first attempt on 6 April 2013 I walked 90% of it.  I simply couldn’t stay balanced when the front wheel bounced around and it was almost impossible to get my clips into the pedals to push off again.

My second attempt on 12 April 2013 with flat pedals was much better and much steadier, as previously reported.  I spent a lot of time riding across the hill and zig-zagging up it.  I only walked a 10m section just before the top to get better grip.

Props to Amandeep who has ridden the entire length a few times.  He had to stop now and again, but unlike me he rode it.

Strava – making a segment

This is very simple.  Take an existing ride and mark off a section of it, give it a name and save.  Cross-referencing with the map and altitude graph makes it easy to pinpoint the section.

I might have missed something on MapMyRide but I got the impression that I could only create a “Course” from a real map; not from a Workout.  And since many of the tracks I took weren’t on maps, I couldn’t create a Course.  (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Segments are best made without pauses or stumbles

My segment has a few wobbles.  As my iPhone was in my jersey pocket (I can’t find my waterproof case anywhere!) when I stepped off the bike, a new wobble was recorded.  It also put little dips on the tracks that aren’t there.  It wouldn’t make sense for Strava to automatically straighten out a segment, especially if those dips and shuffles were part of the track.

I think that the solution is for me to walk the track (without the bike) and use that straight run as the basis of the segment.  I’ll record that as a walk so as not to post another impossible time.

Today’s time and my previous, impossible times

Strava recorded 18:18 as my time on the climb.  That was the elapsed time but I spent 12:41 of that resting for a total riding time of 7:27.

My previous times recorded on MapMyRide, converted to TCX files and then uploaded to Strava are 4:25 on 6 April 2013 for my first ride (or walk) and 5:03 on 12 April 2013 for my second.  Both seem to have been affected by the auto-pause function and seemed to have been tricked by my very slow progress.

The only way to post a fair time is to ride the climb in one pass or getting straight back on after stumbling.  I’m working on it.  My elapsed time of 18:18 should crumble soon as I didn’t need that much rest.  My riding time of 7:27 was slow and steady.   I wonder if I’ll even beat the impossible 4:25 one day!

Border Track detour – Mulligans DH

I’ve noticed a few Strava users taking a different line from the Border Track along a segment known as Mulligans DH (down hill).  About 1km from the junction of the Border Track and Mulligans Circuit and just over the second climb you’ll see the Treecreeper Gate to the right.  Through that gate and Mulligans DH is the track along the fence.  You avoid two steep climbs and a somewhat tricky descent adjacent to a pine forest on the Border Track going this way.

Mulligans DH is a nice down hill; no jumps, moderately rough terrain and some 90° corners just for fun.  Though the newly-metalled parts were a bit squirmy.

I took it easy at the top and let it go about 1/3 of the way down.  The final sharp corner and small climb caught me out a little so I took at fairly easy to the finish; the Curlew Gate on the Pipeline Track .  After seeing my Starva time of 3:00 was only 11 seconds behind the KOM, in hindsight I could have gone a bit faster.

Using Strava for the benefit of mankind

Perhaps that’s too high a goal.  But I am using Strava as a benchmark for my own times; firstly to log what I’m doing and secondly to see if I am improving as I go.  It would be interesting to combine heart rate and power over a ride because that’s where an improvements will be subtly obvious.  I mean that my time might be slower for a particular run but if my heart rate is relatively low, then I completed the ride more efficiently and I’m getting fitter.

The rides are a bit too hard to be in the zone for burning fat.  A 166 average HR is about 30 beats higher than it could be for a good burn and I spend 1/3 to 1/2 of the time above zone 3.  I’ll start using my cross-trainer for a steady HR-specific workout.  Winter sometimes gets an early start on ANZAC Day; we’ve had a few sub-zero mornings already.  Hopefully I’ll stick to a reasonable riding routine during Winter and be bursting by Spring.  Whenever that decides to visit.

Finally Found Kowen Forest

The location of Canberra within the ACT. Canbe...
The bit on the right that looks like it’s waving at you.  That’s Kowen Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, that was an interesting weekend…

As even the casual reader would know, I’ve had some trials finding the trails at Kowen Forest.  My Navi takes me to a forest area off Sutton Road that has been constructed for logging truck access.  There is two small parking areas, but not much cycling action.

So… I thought that I had made a plan to meet Trevor at Pushy’s ‘car park sale’ so that I could follow him to Kowen Forest.  (Bought long gloves with cuffs for Winter for $15 reduced from $80 and two $3 cable outers.)  After spending some time and little money and not finding Trevor, I drove aimlessly towards Kowen Forest.

At my third attempt I found “East Kowen Forest, Canberra” on [the old] Kings Highway.  This link to Google Maps shows the location of the car park.   I found Trevor’s car, so I was at least in the right place.  I missed the reference to “Sparrow Hill” and instead rode Northwest to some trails.  Marked with blue arrows and fairly good signs it was easy to navigate.

My first impressions of “The Kow” were just how the tracks flowed so well without requiring much climbing or superior technical skills.  It was fairly easy to maintain pace through twists and turns and really have fun.  The narrow and unfamiliar tracks did catch me out a few times; partly from the dappled light from the mid-autumn mid-morning sunlight through the pines, partly from the pine needles on the track making the edges unclear and the surface slippery and partly from being a bit absorbed in the ambience and not concentrating.

After the 4km loop I returned to the car park and then across to the Sparrow Hill trails to the South of Kings Hwy.  Again the tracks were well-marked and I must say, well-decorated.  Big thanks and respect is due to Self-Propelled Enterprises at http://selfpropelled.com.au/ for excellence in trail-building, trail-naming and trail-decorative arts.  The decoration ranged from the practical (a dual-flush toilet on Dunnies) to the abstract (cow bones tastefully arranged on another) and back to the practical (yellow reflectors hanging from a tree like a mobile or 1970’s bead curtains).

Once again I was so memorised by the beauty of the trails that I ran off on an uphill corner!  Someone had hidden the curve behind a tree and hadn’t told me.

This footage taken at the Mont 24 Hour race in 2012 gives some impression of the trails and the setting.

There was only one section that I walked: a jump that was well-marked, but I came upon it before I had worked out my line.

As for times… Strava was quite generous.  I rode the 4km loop in 17:01 for 25 place from 128 riders.  I was pushing fairly hard, so that’s a good result first time.  I finished the 11km loop in 59:00 for 189th out of 355.  I had a few off-piste excursions here, so I was a bit more careful as I progressed.  There were some sections that I seemed to take at blinding speed, though this was probably more to do with taking a wide line right to the edge and holding my nerve on the curve.  If I knew the track better I could probably go faster on the right line.

Kowen is much easier to ride than Mt Stromlo.  The physical challenge is not as great so the ride is more fun if you’re not entirely fit or you want to take it easy.

5 stars

Oh, and I returned via Pushy’s to buy the cables to match the outers, some arm warmers and a pair of 3/4 length knicks.  More to come.

MapMyRide to Strava Converter

Strava
Strava.  Ur doin’ it rong. (Photo credit: lodri)

[UPDATE 07/03/2014: Mark Filer provided a new link to a converter.  Procedure updated.]

[UPDATE 24/06/2014: Manually-created MMR workouts cannot be converted; there’s no time data.  Thanks to Amanda for working that out.  Use http://www.strava.com/upload/manual to recreate instead.]

[UPDATE 26/06/2014: Mike Palumbo, the author of the current converter, commented on the issues some of you are having.]

I’ve converted to Strava.  The app and website are so much nicer than MapMyRide.  Not perfect, but quite nice.

Naturally, I want to upload my rides from MapMyRide to Strava so that I can analyse my rides with better tools and get a good comparison against many riders.  I can even compare against myself easily and graphically.  The Strava upload instructions are at https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/20950143-Uploading-to-Strava-Website

From MapMyRide I downloaded a KML file and GPX file of my ANZAC Day ride around Mt Stromlo Loop 3.  The KML file worked well in Google Earth and let me fly over the route.

However, the GPX file failed when uploading to Strava, with the error message “Error processing activities”.  The solution is on Strava Customer Support here.  To quote Mat from the Strava Support Team,

Data exported as GPX files from MapMyFitness sites does not contain workout data, which includes the time data for your activity. Since Strava requires time data for Segments, segment matching and other analyses, data exported from MapMyFitness is not compatible directly with Strava.

If your activity on MapMyFitness sites does include workout/time data, and you would like to export that data, you can try this third-party workaround, a tool that is available on the web (but is not affiliated with Strava or MapMyFitness):

Conversion instructions

To convert and upload your MapMyRide workout, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to http://www.mikepalumbo.com/MMRConverter/ (Thanks to Mike Palumbo for the new converter and Mark Filer for the new link!)
  2. Enter the workout ID of the ride you want to convert and click <SUBMIT>.
  3. The converted workout saves as a GPX file.
  4. On Strava http://www.strava.com/upload/select upload the GPX file.

Perfik!

What could possibly go wrong?

A surprising number of things.  Firstly, the original conversion site went offline without warning, but Mike Palumbo provided an alternative.

  1. Only recorded workouts can be converted.  Manually-created workouts do not have data to convert.  Workaround: On Strava, http://www.strava.com/upload/manual and enter the details manually.
  2. Your browser might add an extension to the .GPX file such as .XML.  Workaround: Look at the filename in full and remove any stray extensions before uploading to Strava.
  3. If the converter fails to convert, it could be an error as the upload is occurring.  To quote Mike Palumbo, “99% of the time, the issues are caused by MMR losing your time data on upload, resulting in a “NO_TIME_SERIES” error on their side. Without that data, sadly, there’s nothing I can do to export your ride or run. Sorry about that!”  Workaround: Try again?

Sunday rides and Strava v. MapMyRide

Phoenix chainring
Phoenix chainring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Started so well.  I rode to Coffee Guru at Bonner, which is likely to become a favourite start/finish line for such rides.  I got down to the bottom of the concrete path near Mulligan’s Flat Rd and Rob Riley Circuit (known as “Bonner Training Climb” on Strava) and had a bit of a stretch.  The climb on the middle ring felt OK, a fact confirmed by my time of 5:21 and King of the Mountain status on Strava (first place out of 2 riders).

Scrambled over to the bottom of the grassy climb.  The inner chainring (the granny gear) was not letting go of the chain.  I flipped the bike upside down to find the sticky link.  A few wiggles and the problem should have been solved, but then I saw some burrs of alloy on the chainring, which I cleaned off with a screwdriver.  Until I found one almost the size of a grain of rice.  This was not so much a burr as a tooth that had been folded backwards and no amount of scraping would remove it.  It will need to be ground or filed off.  Even liberal lashings of lube that worked when the chain was not loaded could not overcome the jam when the chain was loaded and was therefore seated deeply into the chainring and hard against the burr.  The old chain would catch a little, but must have been just wide enough to not get stuck.  There would be no attempt on the climb today and walking it would have been pointless and misleading.

The rear shock pressure was just about right at 250 psi and about 15mm less sag.  The pogoing has reduced but not disappeared, I can stand and pedal with reasonable success and I was a good 10mm from bottoming out, even after some big bumps on my return ride.  However, I had to let out some air from the front fork; 180psi was way too much and 150psi was more like it.

But I really need to get the brakes bled.  The front brake lever almost touches the handlebar before it starts to work, so I had to avoid picking up speed where it would be tricky to reduce it.

Joined the border track near the Mulligans Flat Rd/Gundaroo Rd roundabout and continued on my normal run.  But this time I ended in O’Conner in the hope of seeing some bikes at Bike Culture.  Well… at least the 39 Steps cafe was open and I had a free coffee on my card!

Return was around the Southern side of Mount Ainslie.  On Telecoms Rd I was stopped by a personal trainer who sought advice on the tracks heading to Mount Ainslie.  His mission was to take “sloths” from the Department of Defence building to the East and give them an hour of pain they wouldn’t forget easily. I’m not sure if there are tracks heading from the fire trails to the peak, but there must be.  We chatted about options for a little while and then he set off to try some out.

Oasis of green in parched bushland.  Three small gulleys empty into this spot.  Sadly, I scared off the parrots that had been feeding there moments before.
Oasis of green in parched bushland. Three small gulleys empty into this spot. Sadly, I scared off the parrots that had been feeding there moments before.  132kVA poles in the background.

I took the Blue Metal Rd and turned left to follow the 132 kVA lines until I ran out of track.  I climbed the walking track until it met the fire trail.  A few moments later I was climbing a steep and rocky hill when saw a man and an 8-year-old girl jogging down the hill towards me.  They had just cleared the steepest and rockiest section when the girl tumbled forward onto her face.  Her father went all drill instructor on her arse telling her to stop crying and that the fall was nothing to worry about.  He said this even as he wiped dirt from her teeth and removed stones from a cut in her hand.  I stopped to see if everything was OK (apart from the drill instructor dad bullshit) just long to wonder.  Oh, and to put things into perspective, they were at least 1.5km distant and 50m above the nearest house or hope of first aid.  Nice one drill instructor dad.

Return was back along Goorooyarroo and Mulligan’s Flat.  Bum started to hurt, more from chafing than from pressure.

Strava was a bit of a change from MapMyRide.  For a start its display is dark (which probably helps battery life a little) with a single start/stop button.  The only stats are time (nice big numbers), distance and average speed.  I’ve since discovered that you have to swipe to see the map, though it only takes up 1/3 of the screen.  First attempt at uploading did not go well.  After 5 goes it seemed to work.  I uploaded the return journey successfully over WiFi when I got home.

A very big difference is the amount of analysis you can do in the app.  For MapMyRide you can get some information on the app but you need to use the website (and click through several levels) for analysis.  By contrast, Strava has every segment (course) you’ve ridden with leaderboard, filters, accurate grade, distance and altitude measurements.  And the units are consistent.

It’s obvious that the Strava community is much larger than the MapMyRide community. Or perhaps Strava encourages competition.  On my out ride I rode 13 segments, compared to a no courses on MapMyRide and 8 on return compared to 1 on MapMyRide.  I’ve already had a comment from the person upon whose segment I achieved KOM..  He has vowed to beat my record on Tuesday.  I’m treating that as friendly and neighbourly competition.

Mt Stromlo – Lost and Found

Funny ride today at Mount Stromlo.  Beautiful day to have another go at Loop 2 to avenge my poor performance last time.

Lost – Granny Ring

Changing my old Sachs chain for a new Shimano seemed a great idea at the time.  Sadly, I forgot to compare the number of links with the old chain.  A sudden attack of chain suck indicated a tight link; not unusual with a new chain.  Then I realised that the rear derailleur couldn’t take up enough of the chain to clear the rear cluster when on the smallest front chainring.  I could only access the 2 lowest gears at the rear when on the granny ring at the front.

I didn’t have my chain breaker tool and I wasn’t sure that I could reuse the pins anyway.  (UPDATE: You can use any pin.  Just press them out far enough so that they remain attached to the other link. I took 4 big links or 8  links in total off the new chain.)

On the plus side, I should probably be using the middle chainring anyway; you just can’t get over obstacles when you are spinning the pedals.  Despite this the pedals took a beating (I really must pay more attention) on rocks, tree roots and the trail itself.  I saw a large chunk of a plastic pedal on the track after a rather nasty obstacle.  I feared that the studs I had extended would be bent and snapped, but all was well, if a little scratched.

Lost – XC Loop 2

Revenge postponed.  Loop 2 was closed from Red Rock Lookout, about halfway.  (This also affected Loop 4.)  So today Loop 3: rating Intermediate / Advanced with a suggested ride time of 60 to 90 minutes.

Found – mad skillz and power

I was surprised at how many sections I was able to clear.  Loop 3 is challenging with a lot of rocks right in the middle of the lovely track you’re riding. As previously reported, my new Shimano Saint flat pedals and my wider stance as a result has given me much better balance and somewhat better power from my legs.  Several times I was all but stationary on an obstacle and managed to get the power down on the right line and clear it.  I did plenty of walking (there are sections that defy belief) but I rode sections that I barely walked on Loop 2.

Found – Lost Garmin

At 14:40 I found a Garmin 500/510 on the side of the track on Shady’s, still running.  I’d let 3 overtake me and there was a group of about 8 riders that had left the previous junction just ahead of me.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find someone looking for a missing computer.  If I had to stand in the carpark and yell “Lost Garmin!” and see who came running.  Worst case I’d put a message on Garmin Connect.

At 14:50 I met a rider coming the wrong way, one who had overtaken me earlier.  Sure enough, it was his Garmin.  Shane then spotted my vintage Cannondale Super v 700 SX and then we chatted about his bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper and discussed what bike I should buy next.  (The 2011 Specialized Camber Elite XXL on special at The Cyclery.)  He answered a call from his friends with the good news.  After a few minutes and a good yak, we started the right way up the track.  Despite the track doubling back on itself, Shane was soon out of view.

Lost – Loop 3

The signposting on Mt Stromlo is generally good, if sparse.  Some loops share sections.  I’m sure that one day I’ll learn all the tracks.  This is especially useful when there are trail options… or if I need the fastest way back to the carpark for whatever reason.

I reached the end of one trail and there was no signpost to greet me.  I rode to a nearby trail end and found a sign for Loop 4 and 6; no mention of 3.

So I rode Missing Link (blue and unnumbered) until I found a sign for Dingos.  I had to ride some distance from the sign and turn sharply to enter the trail; 2 warning signs I shouldn’t have ignored.

Lost – all sense of direction

“Dingos” was great fun; tight berms, some drops, trees at my shoulders.  A good skills challenge.  However at the end of the trail the sign was facing the wrong way.  Or rather… I had just ridden Crimtrac the wrong way!

Comparing my MapMyRide trace to the Loop 3 map it seems that I missed the Telegraph Junction and ended up on the wrong side of Crimtrac; and you don’t want that!)

Two riders were just about to enter Crimtrac the right way.  Keep them in my sights and I should be OK.  I let them pass (nice track stand in a wide part of the trail) and struggled to keep them in eye- or ear-shot.  At the end of Crimtrac I could see them climbing towards Dingos, so at least I’d ride that the right way.

Found – Loop 3

I was now on the downhill stretch.  There were small climbs and uphill berms to negotiate, but the vibe was “coming home”.  MapMyRide had me quite close to the carpark, but there’s an unknown number of twists and turns to get there.

Stats from the ride

I switched off the auto-pause feature on MapMyRide because I was concerned that any slow sections might be interpreted as pauses and may under-report my true times, putting me at the top of the leaderboard on any courses I rode.

I stopped a few times; to check the chain, deflate my tyres, take a “natural break”, decide whether I wanted to play anymore and handed back a lost Garmin Edge computer.  Riding the same track twice doesn’t help.  The track also stopped a km or two from the finish, for some reason.  My real time was probably just under 2 hours.

  • Distance 17.53km
  • Time 2:23:56.  Somewhat more than the suggested ride time of 60-90 minutes.
  • Climbs Cat 4 and Cat 5
  • Calories 2548
  • Heart Rate: Ave 177, peak 197, 62% was above zone 3.

Found

I’m really happy that those happy accidents happened. I found that I could finish Loop 3 without too much bother, negotiate gnarly obstacles (mostly), help someone and get lost and find so much.