New stem, new PR; Challenging bunny hop; Bent wheels; Lisa very sick.
I have quite a few different subjects to cover this morning, and a busy day ahead. Let’s dive right in!
First I want to talk about Saturday’s cardio. I was feeling a little off again on Saturday (more on that further down), but I wanted to get out on the trails and test my new Thompson stem.
When I rebuilt my Trek Fuel EX 8 a week ago (story here, pictures here) I originally wanted to try a shorter stem, so I replaced the stock 90mm Bontrager stem with a Truvativ 70mm stem. Unfortunately 70mm was just too short for me: I felt very cramped and boxed in during my first real ride with it.
I decided to replace the Truvativ stem with a 110mm Thompson Elite X4 stem. That extra 40mm of length made a massive difference! Not only was I much more comfortable, I was faster.
As I mentioned briefly above, I was feeling less than 100% on Saturday morning. When I set off for the trails I told myself that I would just relax, not push too hard and have a fun ride. I don’t know if it was the perfect weather (sunny and cool) or just my competitive nature, but literally two pedal strokes after setting off I had the hammer down.
The first three miles of the route I take at Wekiwa is my fun and challenging timed run. Before I rebuilt my Fuel my best time was 17m18s, and on my very first ride after the rebuild I smashed that record with a time of 15m42s. Lighter bike and lighter, stronger me.
On Saturday’s timed run I managed to turn in another record time: 15m26s. While the cool air was invigorating, I truly feel the new stem played a role in my new personal record. I felt very comfortable, and the longer stem made being in the attack position much more natural. Also, climbs felt easier.
There are two hills covered in sugar sand that I’ve never been able to crest without dropping below 10 MPH at least once. Believe me, I’ve tried many times. Well, on Saturday I was able to take both hills while keeping my speed in the double digits the entire time! There’s no doubt in my mind that the new stem played some roll in my ability to finally accomplish that feat.
Needless to say, I’m very happy with the new stem.
I need to mention one other very cool thing that happened on Saturday. We had some serious storms late last week, and there were a lot of downed trees and branches on the trails. I was doing a lot of bunny hoping. On Saturday I took a different route than I took on Thursday, and I saw a freshly downed tree ahead of me that was pretty big.
When I practice bunny hopping in my driveway with my homemade bunny hop stand if I come up short the PVC pipe falls away, I reset and try again. Out on the trails the penalty for failure is a little higher…
As I raced towards the downed tree, I estimated that it was about 16″ – 18″ high. That’s right on the bleeding edge of my absolute highest hop ever. When I first saw the tree I’d just passed two hikers. The showoff side of me was thinking, “How cool would it look if I effortlessly jumped this big ol’ tree and continued on like it was nothing!” The practical side of me was thinking, “If you blow this, and there’s a more than reasonable chance that you will, you’re going to look like an idiot and it’s going to hurt…. a lot.”
Of course the showoff side of me won that battle.
It may have looked effortless to the two dudes hiking behind me, but as I went sailing over the downed tree with room to spare I was thinking, “Oh god, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I had my bike on the stand yesterday, and both wheels are either horribly out of true (again), or bent (again). I just don’t think these Bontrager Dusters can handle the big roots I’m constantly hitting. I still don’t have a truing stand in my home bike shop, either (I really need to get one). Those American Classic All Mountain tubeless wheels are looking mighty attractive right now. The American Classics would unquestionably stand up to the kind of riding I do and, paired with lighter tires, would shave off more than 2 pounds of pure rotational weight.
Lisa returned from Las Vegas early Saturday morning with a bad case of the flu. She’s been unbelievably sick all weekend, and is still down for the count this morning. I haven’t seen her this sick in many, many years. Unfortunately whatever she has I now have: my throat is slightly scratchy, my eyes feel a little puffy and I’m feeling a little “off” in general. The question is will I be able to fight the virus off before it really takes hold? Well, I’m thinking positive. I’m going to train today with 100% intensity. Yesterday’s body fat reading was 6.9%, and I’m probably only looking at two more weeks of cutting. I’m not slowing down unless I’m forced to.
I’m often asked about whether or not it’s a good idea to train while sick. I think it really boils down to listening to your body. While I’m clearly not at 100% right now, I’m not even close to being at the point where I’d consider missing a workout. If I were as sick as Lisa is right now, there’s no way I’d train.
I’ve rambled long enough, I need to get to work. Thanks for reading and have a great day!