Friday, October 30, 2009

2 Moon Park

9 miles
50 degrees

I took advantage of the nice weather today and went out for another ride during lunch. I decided to go back to Two Moon Park even though my bike is really acting up. I'm taking it in tomorrow. I really babied it today, which is fine because once I got on the bike I realized how sore I was from running last night. I did three miles in under 27 minutes which is big for me since I've never run three miles straight without walking. I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm glad I figured out how to strengthen my running without actually having to run. This cycling thing is pretty cool.

Nothing real exciting or usual happened today on my ride, pretty much the same ride that I've done several times now. I tried to mix it up a little by taking some single track trails when I saw them but I quickly lost most of them and had to turn around back to the main trail. I did find a few good ones but I doubt I could find them on purpose again. It was kind of tricky because my trail would disappear in a field of fallen leaves and I'd have to pick it up on the other side. Either that or the grass had grown over the trail making it too difficult for my busted up bike. I can't wait until I get both bikes fixed up.

At one point, I was pedaling down a trail and had to hit the brakes because there were two dogs and a woman walking up it the other way. No big deal usually but I kept running into her over and over again, and its not a small park. Later, when I saw her, rather than stopping to wait for her and the dogs to pass, I just turned around and found another trail but I quickly ended up on their trail over and over again. Oh well. It forced me to explore more of the park. I think I could bike that park for hours before tiring of it. There are so many small trails all over the place. I'm glad I found it. I just need to get back over to Riverfront park again some time to play there aswell.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feel like what?

11 miles
46 degrees
29 mph winds

I was cold in the office this morning and I really debated whether or not to go for a ride today so I looked up the weather on the internet. Although it said there were 29 mph winds out, the temperature was 46 degrees so very much like yesterday's ride. The weather site also said it feels like 46 degrees, even with 29 mph winds. What happened to the wind chill factor? Anyway, I decided to go out and see if it really feels like 46 degrees with the wind blowing. Well, it doesn't. Add on my 10 mph (I know, but I was riding into a 29 mph headwind) for 40 mph winds and I was getting pretty cold.

Despite (or because of) the wind, I decided ride up the rims on 27th Street and out Airport Road into the wind as far as I could go in my lunch break. I have to admit that it was not enjoyable. It felt like a bad spin class where the instructor keeps yelling "Add it on" without any kind of recovery. I finally hit five miles on my speedometer and figured I'd had enough. I turned around and suddenly the world fell silent. No more wind howling wind in my ears. Even hauling down Airport Road at 35 mph, I couldn't feel any wind. Let me tell you, its pretty cool to effortlessly fly down a flat road a 35 mph. I quickly hit 27th Street to drop back down the rims. Without pedaling I hit 42 mph. The rest of the ride was a cinch, except for the moron who stopped in the middle of the road to let me cross instead of letting me slip behind him. Nice gesture, but he held me up long enough that the other vehicles were quickly approaching and put me in a bad situation. I wish drivers would just treat cyclists like all other vehicles because when they don't they put cyclists and other drivers in danger.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Up Coburn Road

12 miles
53 degrees
26 mph winds

I'm trying to squeeze in as many rides as I can before the weather turns sour. This morning was cold so I was expecting a miserable ride at lunch but it warmed up nicely. My bike has been acting up as well and I didn't get a chance to take it in this weekend so I babied it today. I did some climbing but on roads only, no mountain biking. I climbed up Coburn Rd to the TV antennas on top of the rims to the Southeast of Billings, touched the gate where they close the road going down to Pictograph Caves, and turned around. Everything was smooth sailing until I turned around and had to deal with the cross and headwinds. At least I was going downhill most of the way.

On my way down, I turned down Canyon Trail Road, a gravel road thinking it would take me into Lockwood. I flew down the road at 20 mph with loose gravel underneath. It felt like I was riding on slush again, but when a wheel would slip, it would grab again almost instantly. I went down the road about a mile but I couldn't see where it was going because of the rolling hills and the bends in the road. I gave up and turned around to go back to the paved road that I was on. Its a good thing too. I just mapquested the road and it goes nowhere. In fact, I was near the end of it. Anyway, I cruised back down Coburn Road and into town and fought the wind back to the office...And here I sit wishing I were back out there.

Friday, October 23, 2009


15 miles
56 degrees

Not much to say but I am tired. I left work early today as to not put in too much overtime. I left at 4pm and rode my mountain bike up the Black Otter Trail over to Zimmerman Trail and back down to the YMCA just in time for spin class. I'm pooped.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


9 miles
44 degrees

So my chain broke again today at the very "Power Link" that was supposedly NOT recalled. I think I'm taking it back anyway and having the bike shop install a new one. I'm not touching it again. I have some shifting/sprocket issues that's driving me nuts as well. It's not bad unless I'm climbing on a trail. Its frustrating because I have to stay in a very low gear while riding because if not, and I get caught off guard with a steep climb, its POP! PING! GRIND! and I'm tired of it.

The actual ride was a good one though. Mike and I took off and climbed 27th Street (not an easy feat) up to Airport Road to get on the Black Otter Trail going the opposite direction that I went the other day. We rode the trail until I found a dirt trail. Man! This trail is incredible. I need to bring a camera. I've never even noticed the rock formations while riding the paved trail but on the dirt trail we rode right through and over them. We had to walk parts because the rock was too steep and running perpendicular to our path with no shelf to ride on. At another point we ended up right on the edge of the rims with only 3 or 4 feet to the ledge. Needless to say, we were a little nervous. We were having a great time, when POP! my chain falls off. I griped enough above so I'll spare you this time. I was able to put the chain back together and we decided to play it safe and take the paved trail back, plus we were running out of time.

On the way down the backside of the rims, I convinced Mike that my chain could handle the single track trail down to the bottom that I found the other day. (I'm not sure my rims can though). We took it and at the bottom we came to several drops. I rode the brakes, hung back over the saddle and dropped off. The next thing I know, I have cleared it but I'm behind and below the saddle pretty close to the tire and instinctively pulled myself back up. It was pretty cool. I didn't know I could do that. We made it back down to the road and Mike found another steep shortcut. It was a really fun shortcut with some steep rock faces. Steep enough that I could never get up them.

Besides the chain, it was a really fun ride. A keeper in my books!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I can feel my fingers again!

9 miles
38 degrees

Mike's back in town so we decided to go for a ride during lunch back down to Two Moon Park to see the Weeping Wall. It was a nice ride. On the way back, however, my bike started acting up again like it was the other day on top of the rims. As I was climbing the final hill, my chain kept popping and skipping. I worked through it by shifting down to the lowest gear and just spun the pedals all the way up the last of the hill. When it leveled out at the top, I tried shifting up when I heard a loud metallic PING! I stopped to check out my gears but didn't see what the problem was. I got back on the bike and took off to catch up to Mike and as I shifted, I heard it again...PING! I'm really confused now and Mike and I tried to figure it out but couldn't see the problem.

As we approached Main Street, Mike bolted and I started mashing pedals to catch up. All of the sudden my feet are flying everywhere and I lost contact with the pedals. When I found the pedals there was no resistance. That's when Mike saw my chain lying on the ground. "Do you have a chain tool?" he asked. "Nope," I replied. I could see it in his face. He was thinking, 'great! I'm going to have to pull this guy back into town or walk back with him.' That's when I pulled out a surprise.

Several weeks ago I found out that a special chain link called a "Power Link" was being recalled and I thought I had it on my bike. The advantage to the special link is that tools are needed to put it on the chain. I took the chain off to get it replaced but found out that mine wasn't being recalled. I tried re-installing it but but couldn't do it, so I put a regular link back in. In the meantime, I'd seen a keychain made from old bike chains and decided to make one and use the special link. I've now had time to practice using the link and had the key chain with me so it was a quick fix and I was back on the road. I think Mike was really impressed.

Bike chain "Power Lock" Push it together to open it and pull it tight to lock it.
My key chain is similar to this with more links and the "Power Lock" above.

Oh, and in regard to the title of this blog, I forgot my long fingered gloves today and it was cold. I showered at work, not because I was sweaty, but because I was freezing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bike to the Beartooths Jersey

No ride today. Even though it was a beautiful day today, we couldn't get our acts together to do anything. Of course, for the same reason (or two reasons) we never get to do anything we plan on doing. I won't mention their names.

I did get a lot of yard work done today like mowing the lawn and cleaning up the garden. I also worked on my bike a bit, replacing a chain and the brake pads. Somehow I messed up the brakes so bad that I can't ride it until I fix it. I have a friend who said he'd take a look and help me out with it. The chain seems to be good so far but I still have a shifting problem to work on. I wish I knew what I was doing when it comes to bike repair. As bad as I can screw up a car, I thought that bikes would be much simpler but in a way, they are even harder. I'd rather change brake pads on a car than a bike.

Anyway, I thought I'd post a picture of my new jersey from the MS ride. I really like it. Can't go wrong with orange. I wore it a few days ago and Sarah washed it today so it's still wet so I didn't feel like modeling it myself. However, last night Sarah and I were talking to an employee at the gym and he asked about my jersey. I was wearing one of the Cyprus jerseys that Ashley designed and he told me I looked like a shirt model. Weird!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Get it together, Russ

12 miles
48 degrees

I went for a ride during my lunch break but I don't think it was meant to be. I started off by gathering up my stuff and heading to the basement to change. I made to the first floor when I realized that I left my shorts at my desk. I trucked it back up the stairs, got my shorts and went down to the basement. I got completely changed when I noticed that I didn't have my shoes. Being sheepish and not wanting to wander through the building in my lycra shorts and bike jersey, I put my clothes on over my bike gear and climbed the stairs back up to my desk to get my shoes and then back down to the basement to finish getting dressed. Finally, back up the stairs and out the door. By now I'd already lost 10 minutes or so but I guess I still got a workout with all of the stair climbing.

My original intention was to work my way through traffic over to the North end of Lockwood on the country roads and then come back. I couldn't make it that far with the time I lost trying to get my clothes on so I settled for the paved trail system. On my way out I hit a pothole and noticed how low my rear tire was. I kept riding anyway since I was pretty sure I didn't have a flat.

I was really shocked that I was able to fly down the trail at 23 miles an hour and I wasn't really pushing it either. When I turned around I noticed that I'd been going slightly downhill with a tail wind. Now I was fighting the wind, a low tire, and the slight incline. I gave up and finally stopped to pump up my tires. I slipped once and hit my hand pretty hard but didn't think much of it. When I got back to the office, I looked at my hand and my finger was a bloody mess. It doesn't hurt but I somehow peeled the skin off.

So between all of my obstacles, including a few chain malfunctions that I didn't mention, I determined that maybe I shouldn't have gone for a ride today. I should have gone to my continuing education course or gone to lunch with my family since the kids are out of school. I'm tired and still get to look forward to spin class this evening. Yeah!!! (sarcasm)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black Otter Trail - Part 2

10 miles
54 degrees
20-25 mph winds

I attempted the Black Otter Trail again today, this time on road bike. Sticking to the paved trail I thought I'd be able to get in a few more miles. However, with the 25 mph winds, I didn't move much faster than yesterday. Given our proximity to Wyoming, I thought this picture was appropriate.
I fought the wind the whole way but it was satisfying to be able to ride without bundling up. I got to try out my new jersey today as well. I received my MS tour jersey in the mail last night for raising over $500. Really Sarah and I raised $800 together so we'll try to get her a jersey next year. Thanks to everyone for supporting us. I'll have to post a picture of the jersey because its pretty sweet.

My route varied a little bit today since 1) I found the entrance to the trail, 2) I stayed on the paved trail, and 3) I avoided the heavy traffic of 27th Street through town (I peeled off at Rimrock Rd). I also rode down the hill on 27th at 46 mph today instead of 35 mph on my mountain bike.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Black Otter Trail

34 degrees
~9 miles

Today during my lunch break I headed out toward Two Moon Park again but as I crossed Main Street I thought I'd go check and see if one of my favorite rides was open. There has been some major road construction on Airport Road and in the process of the work, the lower half of the Black Otter Trail was removed. I bolted over there on Main Street to Airport Road and saw that entrance to the Black Otter Trail was still there. However, when I got there I noticed the road went down into the ground instead of up to the top of the rims. They used the land where the Black Otter Trail was to put in an underpass to the neighborhood North of Airport Road. I'm a little ticked off but I know other ways to get to the trail. So I turn around and truck it up Airport Road until I can see the old Black Otter Trail. I cut across the road and over the re-grading they had done until I reached the trail. When I got there I noticed that the road was now solely a bike path...Nice! I can't complain anymore. The entrance to the path was only 30-50 feet from where I was near the underpass. I'm still not sure how to safely get there but I'm sure there is a way.

Anyway, I start cranking up the road remembering how hard this ride is. When I get to the top, I notice some double track paths carved into the landscape. I really have the mountain biking bug now so I took one of them that lead me to a single track. I followed the single track along the hillside until I hit the bottom near where I had started, turned around and trekked back up the trail. At the top I found more off-road trails. These trails are much harder than the other trails I've been riding, mostly because the ground is so soft that your wheels spin out on any incline. I played for awhile but the trail was slow and my bike was acting up. Since the end of my lunch hour was quickly approaching, I worked my way back to the paved trail and flew down it to the end at 27th Street. I have a lot more exploring to do of that area now.

At the end of the trail there is a new tunnel that goes underneath 27th so you don't have to cross it anymore. I took the tunnel and scrambled up the other side to hop the guardrail and ride 27th back into town. 27th Street is a steep road going from the top of the rims right back into town. I flew down 27th at 35+ miles an hour when some idiot in a large SUV pulled out in front of me. Not want to brake, I popped into the left lane and passed the SUV. He never even saw me until I pulled out in front of him. As I got into town, traffic picked up and I was now riding in bumper to bumper traffic with no shoulder. I don't know what's scarier, passing a vehicle at 35 mph down a hill, being forced to keep up with 25 mph traffic in downtown, or trying to get into the left lane in that traffic to make a left hand turn. I made it but its not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And so it begins

2 Miles
18 degrees

This morning was my first snow ride of the year. No, I don't do it for pleasure. Its a necessity since I bike commute to work. The way I see it, its still faster to ride my bike the one mile to work than it is to start the car, warm it up, scrape the windows and brush off the snow, drive to work, park a block or so away, and walk to work. Plus, during the winter, its sometimes the only outside time I get during the day unless its shoveling walks.

I was at least prepared for the snow though. After getting wet on Wednesday's commute to and from work, I decided that I needed some rain pants to slip over whatever pants I'm wearing for the day. I finally found some that weren't just cheap plastic at Big Bear. I'm pretty excited for them since they are nice enough I can use them for skiing and playing in the snow with the girls as well. They are not insulated so I still have to wear pants underneath but after skiing last year in jeans, I've determined that I need something to keep me dry.

Anyway, I took off this morning all bundled up with gloves, coat, scarf, hat, and rain pants and felt pretty good. The snow was sticky and hadn't melted yet so the roads were not slick. I didn't slip once and felt pretty confident. This fall (if you can call it fall) I been dreading winter, not because of the cold or snow, but because of the ice. I took a spill last winter and hit my elbow pretty hard. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I fractured something but I toughed it out. I developed a big pusy cyst on my elbow that finally burst with some foul smelling green stringy pus. Months later I was able to squeeze out some solid, somewhat spongy, white pieces of something, bone? Yeah, I know, gross! But it has had me paranoid, especially because it's still somewhat sore today. But no falls today. We'll see what happens tonight after it melts a little and freezes again.

I took it slow this morning. Partially because I was unsure of the roads but mostly because I was unsure of the drivers. I met up with Robert along the way. Robert also rides in to work everyday and lives about three blocks from me. As we get to work, I sigh with relief and comment on how glad I am that that was over. I pull my bike over to the rail to lock it up and notice that my bike lock, my new heavy duty bike lock, is gone. It had fallen off my handlebars (velcro strapped on) but with all of my bundling, plus the snow on the road, I didn't hear it fall. I turn around and get almost halfway home when I see the lock lying in the middle of the road at the busiest intersection of my ride, luckily not in the intersection. I wait for traffic that is swerving around the lock, see my window, bolt out and grab the undamaged lock, hop back on my bike and ride back to work.

I'm glad that's all over. I can't wait to do it again tonight!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weeping Wall

9.5 Miles
40 Degrees
Wind - 20 mph

So after a miserable Monday riding on slushy roads to and from work, I decided to take advantage of the brief break in the storm during lunch today. Its supposed to rain or snow for the rest of the week and just get dang cold. I ventured out towards Two Moon Park again. I got there with about half an hour to explore the park. The riding was slower today because the trails are muddy and, at some points, icy. I took a different trail today that we did on Friday. This trail took me over several wooden bridges that were still icy. At one point I started sliding all over the bridge until I finally hit the mud on the other side and was able to right myself. I brushed out several deer as I rode through the park. This side of the park is pretty dense foliage and the trails were somewhat over grown. I had to continually hug my bike frame to clear some of the lower branches and fallen trees.

As I was cruising along, I noticed a sign marking a trail. I immediately hit the breaks to turn onto the trail called The Weeping Wall. After flushing up a couple more deer, I finally rode out of the thicket and was able to see the weeping wall. It was absolutely incredible, something that probably few people actually know about. The rims were sloped enough that green vegetation just cascaded down the wall appearing like a green waterfall. It really was something to see. In fact, I was probably watching the wall too closely. As I followed the weeping wall, I suddenly had to hit the brakes. I wasn't watching what was in front of me very closely. What was in front of me was a huge fallen tree, nut just the trunk but the whole plumage. Wanting to continue the trail, I scrambled around the fallen tree through the thicket with my bike on my shoulder. Not an easy task. I finally made it through the mess and looked down at my legs. My shorts, leggings, socks and shoes were all covered with cockle burrs. I spent a few minutes picking off the burrs and then hit the trail again.

As I continued on, the scenery started to appear more familiar. The thicket broke and I exited right where the creek dumps into the Yellowstone River. Straight in front of me was a small doe whitetail holding its ground cautiously as it watched me. Thinking this was sort of bizarre since all the other deer have taken off as soon as they saw me, I continued to ride toward her. She didn't budge. I finally stopped about 20 feet from her. We sat and watched each other for a few seconds before she calming walked off and jumped the creek.

It was time to turn around and head back to work. I climbed the hill and finally noticed the 20 mph headwind that I was going to have to fight all the way back to the office. All said and done, it was a pretty invigorating ride.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Feel the burn

Aaggh! My lungs and throat are on fire!

I should explain. I came down with a bug on Tuesday and haven't really done anything since except ride to and from work (in the rain on Wednesday). I am finally feeling a bit better today so I agreed to 1) meet up with Mike for breakfast with our wives and 2) go riding during lunch.

Breakfast was great although I biked over there in front of Sarah, who was in the car. I worked hard to get there so I was coughing all through breakfast while my nose ran like a faucet. I'm sure it was pleasant for everyone.

Later I met up with Mike during lunch, and after his act of public indecency, we found Janet and rode over to Two Moon Park. I had told Mike about it before and since it is close, we decided we could try it during a lunch break. We booked it over to the park on 4th Ave. with the traffic and I could feel the fire in my lungs but it felt so good to be off the couch that I kept going anyway. We scrambled down the switchbacks into the park and took off through the trails. The trails go on forever and only once did I see something I recognized from my previous trip. At one point I had to slam on my breaks and yell "Duck!" back to Mike and Janet as I hugged the frame of my bike to clear a huge fallen tree in the path. I scraped it with my back, almost missed it.

I was leading since I'd been there before and Mike caught me skidding around corners instead of slowing down and was shocked that I could do that (simple maneuver). So on the gravel road I told him how to do it and then demonstrated a skid spraying gravel all over. Only problem, I had nowhere to turn so when I released the brake and tried to straighten out, I almost went over the other direction. I made it look smooth and no one knew the better.

Anyway, I had a really great time but now my lungs are burning. Hopefully I'll be ready for Monday's ride.