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Several stories: Google maps, a new KOM, an apology and a hard crash.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Interesting ride at Mt. Dora yesterday…

First of all, Google Maps sleuthed out a new route to the Mt. Dora trailhead for me, and I can now get from my driveway to the trails in 15 minutes flat. It used to take me almost 30 minutes using my old route, so this is very cool.

I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned this about me in my blog, but I have the absolute worst sense of direction in the world. When I’m driving (car, bike–whatever) my instincts on which direction to turn are almost always wrong. Also, I’m absolutely terrible at remembering routes. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I would be constantly lost if it were not for the miracle of GPS navigation. It’s terribly frustrating, but I guess that’s how they wired me up at the factory. I get it from my mom, who is exactly the same way. In fact, when we were kids I, my brother and my sister used to torment my poor mom about her inability to navigate. Karma.

Anyway, using the new route I can reach the Mt. Dora trails even faster than the Wekiwa trails. Not that I ride much at Wekiwa anymore–it’s been two months to the day since I was last there. I love Wekiwa for the scenery, the animals and the cardio workout, but they relegate mountain bikers to the absolute worst trails, and during the rainy season many of them are flooded and pretty much impossible to ride. Shame, as with some planning and work there could be some really challenging and fun mountain biking trails there.

So, finally getting to yesterday’s ride…

I decided I wanted to take a shot at regaining the KOM that I lost to Mike Simmons on the Gravity Destroyer up/down and Florida Flow Loop segment. I warmed up by riding that route, making sure the trails were clear. There were a couple of sketchy areas due to all the rain we’ve had, but overall the trails were running well.

The trail conditions were less of a concern than how poorly I rode on that warm-up lap: I felt clumsy, out of sync with my bike and my cardio felt a little off. Still, I decided to to take a shot at the KOM.

My previous best time on this segment was 9m15s, which I set on July 26, 2012. That time earned me a KOM, but Mike Simmons easily took the crown back with a solid 8m49s ride a short time later. The 26 seconds between my best time and Mike’s time is a pretty wide gulf, but I’ve made some drastic improvements to my times lately. I felt pretty confident that I could come close, if not take it down.

I didn’t feel like I rode the segment particularly well. While I didn’t make any serious errors, I definitely was not riding up to my full potential. Despite feeling a little disappointed in how I was riding, I finished the segment with a very strong climb up mini-destroyer (which, as it turns out, was my second best time on the mini-destroyer segment, where I also have KOM).

I figured I’d beat my personal record, but I didn’t feel like my performance was strong enough to take the crown. I was, therefore, very surprised when I saw my time: 8m36s! That’s a 39 second improvement over my previous best time, and I got the KOM crown back.

I know I can ride that segment faster than I rode it yesterday, but I also know that Mike Simmons can, too. I suspect this KOM will be short-lived, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can!

Probably the most embarrassing and pointless wrecks of my mountain biking career happened yesterday. Sigh. Oh well, I might as well tell what happened.

Right after I finished the all-out ride for time, I was doing a cool-down lap and just cruising along. Pretty much out of nowhere a rider was on my wheel. I said hello, told him I was cooling down and that he should pass me. The rider stopped and introduced himself, but I already I knew who he was. He also knew who I was. How? I’d inadvertently pissed this guy off with a post I’d made on a mountain biking forum about 1 year ago (I’ll get to that in a minute).

When I introduced myself I said, “I’m John, and I don’t think you like me too much.” He said, “Oh, you’re John Stone?” Yeeeeeeep.

The post in question was innocent enough, but I unknowingly made a horrible breach of mountain biking etiquette. In my post I made some suggestions on how I thought the trail could be improved. The problem? You don’t do something like that until you’ve shown up for a few work days! I didn’t know that at the time, and despite the polite tone of my post it really rubbed a few people the wrong way.

In fact, that post was my first introduction to Mike Simmons. Mike replied to my post, and was extremely polite with his answers. It was only after Mike and I became friends and started riding together that he told me how much that post had pissed of at least one person–the person standing next to me on the trails yesterday.

I wish I could go back and time and remove the well-intentioned, but ultimately boorish post. But it’s out there, and I can’t change that. So I did the next best thing and apologized–both to Mike and to Mark. Mike and Mark have poured countless volunteer hours of labor into building and maintaining the Mt. Dora trail system (and many other OMBA trails). When I think about how my post must have come across to them, I cringe.

Anyway, Mark was very cool about the whole thing, he seemed to accept my apology and so we talked for a few minutes before getting back to the ride. Mark told me to lead out, but I didn’t want to. Not only was I very tired from my the speed lap I’d just done, I happen to know that Mark is a very strong rider, and that he races. I told him I was loafing this lap, and that he should go ahead. Still, he insisted that I ride lead and so I did.

As we started to ride Mark said, “I’m going to keep the pressure on you!” He said this with a smile, but you guys know how competitive I am. Tired as I was, I dropped the hammer and rode as fast as I could. In fact, I was going to so fast when my handlebars sloppily clipped a vine that I scarcely had time to realize that I was sailing upside down through the air. The error sunk in pretty quickly as I crashed down hard about 10 feet away from my bike. Yeah.

I bruised up my knee pretty good and have a few new cuts to show off, but by far the worst damage was to my pride. Crashing like that in front of someone who pretty much already thinks you’re a tool sucks pretty bad–especially riding a trail on which I never crash. Mark said it was a spectacular wreck, I just wish he had a GoPro on so I could see it from an outside perspective.

The Truvative T40 Noir Handlebars on my Fuel.

The Truvative T40 Noir Handlebars on my Fuel.

Every single recent crash I’ve had has involved my handlebars clipping a tree or a vine. My handlebars, which I love, are the Truvativ T40 Noir Carbon bars (700mm/15mm rise). I just measured my old handlebars, and they are nearly two inches narrower! No wonder I keep clipping things–I put a heck of a lot of miles on those old bars and became used to their width. I like the feel of the wider bars, but I’m going to trim them down a bit–about 1/2 inch off each side (~25mm in total). Wide bars are great when you’ve got relatively open trail, but they are not so great on the tight, twisty single track I usually ride.

John Stone Fitness Comments

15 Responses to “Several stories: Google maps, a new KOM, an apology and a hard crash.”
  1. Cool that you made your apology in person and were able to humble yourself in front of him to show how bad you felt for unknowingly being insulting! Funny how a little thing like longer handlebars makes all the difference.

    Glad you didn’t damage anything. My own major wreck wrecked me majorly!

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  2. Man, there’s so much deja vu in this story! I learned a similar lesson years ago on a motorcycle forum, and I’m glad I exercised a bit more restraint this time when I was tempted to voice my general distaste for the Mt. Dora trail. Good thing I did, because two of it’s builders, Mike Simmons and Mark Pettengil, frequent the same forums I do on Facebook, and would likely have taken my comments personally. 🙂

    Apparently there are different attitudes to crashing, depending on who you ask. When I rode a dual sport motorcycle years ago, the general feeling was that crashing is something to take pride in, and the more spectacular the crash, the more it enhanced your ‘street cred’ with other riders. A friend who got me into the sport put it this way: “It’s a dirtbike fer Christsake! If you’re not crashing, you’re not riding it right.” LOL

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    • I definitely do not subscribe to the notion that there is anything cool about crashing. Almost all crashes happen because the rider is either riding too far over his head, and/or he’s made a mistake. I try to avoid both of those things as much as possible.

      Crashing can hurt you, the trail, your confidence and (perhaps worst of all!) your bike.

      While no one in their right mind would suggest that a mountain biker should never crash, I definitely feel those who attempt to romanticize it are not doing our sport any favors.

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      • It’s crazy, I know. Yet as I was flying through the air at Santos, the only thought that went through my mind was what awful luck it was that I’d just turned off my GoPro. LOL

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        • I’m with you there. If you do have a crash, having it documented on video at least provides some entertainment value to an otherwise bad experience.

          I realize this is slightly contradictory to what I said above, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise. 🙂

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          • It’s one thing to try to salvage what you can from a catastrophe, and quite another to deliberately invite one. I have no desire to experience yet another unscheduled dismount, but I hope I have my camera rolling if/when I do. 😉

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