Tag: explore your own city
To really know if you are improving, you need some kind of benchmark to evaluate progress against. It’s as true in sports as it is in business. At work, we routinely set baselines or benchmarks, and this week’s first trail rides of the season have me thinking about benchmarks in my mountain biking. Every sport has its own ways to measure training and skill progression. As with road cycling or running, there’s the simple measure of time taken or average speed within a section of trail. More important than a speed measure in mountain biking is judging the development of technique and how that allows you to ride harder trails, tackle larger obstacles, get more air, be more aggressive. if you are only interested in speed it can be bench marked against your own performance or that of others. There’s tons of gadgets and smartphone apps that help you track this. Many of these allow you to compare how others rode the same routes. I find this interesting and a piece of the bigger picture, but my biggest competitor is myself. I need to measure my progress versus the trail, improvement in technique. I am
at the point in my mountain biking skills development that increasing strength and stamina play a significant role, but I still have so much to learn in this sport. So much technique to develop.
By riding the same trails regularly, I can easily judge the progression of my skills. Now starting my third summer mountain biking, I’m realizing both what I’ve already learned along with an awareness of how much I don’t know. It brings a smile to my face when I look back at pictures like these from 2011 and remember struggling with a climb I can now top, being afraid to ride across rocks I barely notice, coming to a dead stop in front of a log, I now pop over without a thought.
As I rode this week, I remembered how we used to have to stop at each and every bench, along with at the top of every small climb to rest and recover. I’m working hard at active recovery, continuing to pedal while I catch my breath. Limiting rest stops. I continue to be surprised how much the line you take or the momentum you have going into a climb, descent or obstacle plays a part. There were places on Sunday’s ride I struggled due to a line that put me into bigger roots or rocks, or how by not having proper momentum, I had to put a foot down in areas I’ve cleaned in past. At the same time in a section of the Muir trails called The Beach, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to ride. I remember the first time we rode that section, stopping half way up to rest. It’s the first time I’ve actually felt like I was enjoying a climb. Minutes later Hell’s Kitchen reminded me why it has the name it does.
But with increased confidence and skills, also comes increased chances for error. I’m riding faster. Attacking sections more. Weaknesses are being exposed. At the Ray’s Women’s clinic, I struggled with both speed and bike angle/position in the bermed turns of the pump track. At Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, I did better at speed, but Kiddo chastised me for not leaning the bike, for going through upright. On Sunday’s ride, in a section called Bermuda…. Damn bermed turn. I just don’t trust myself to lean the bike through them. Towards the bottom of the section, the final left turn, took the turn too high on the berm, upright, no real lean. On the exit there’s a small tree to the right. Because I was high I was on the right edge of the trail and bbeing upright meant my handlebars were not leaning away, I clipped the tree. Leading to a face plant and a bloody nose. Funny how many thoughts go through your head in a millisecond. ….Don’t look at tree! You’re gonna hit tree. I’m flying. Splat. Oops there’s gonna be a bloody nose. Get off bike off trail before someone barrels into you. Feel blood begin to pour. Pinch nose….
Still work to do. Benchmarks set, and continually updated. I’m super stoked about this summer’s riding. Here in Wisconsin I hope to do some rides with other women in addition to the family and solo training rides, there will be rides and the Women’s Clinic in Brown County, IN in June, riding on our family vacation to Breckinridge, CO in July and another prior to my nieces wedding at Killington, VT in August. Plan on doing a WORS race or two, The Brown County Super-D, Fall Colors Festival. Hopefully we can sneak in another spot or two, like maybe a trip up tp Copper Harbor, MI.
Tho, face it, even with a desire to more formally train this summer, I still want to stop and smell the roses so to speak…pausing to snap a few pictures and enjoy the view will always be a part of my enjoyment of mountain biking.
“Blues skies…local MTB trails are open.”
Was thrilled this morning to see this tweet from @WORBA_MMB, the account of Metro Mountain Bikers, Milwaukee’s off-road biking club. The Metro Mountain Bikers maintain several areas of mountain biking singletrack around Milwaukee County. The Hoyt Park and Oak Hill sections are in located in Wauwatosa – the city just west of Milwaukee proper.
The weather was perfect for our first trail ride of the year. Sunny, 80 degrees. We put the hitch on the car, checked out the bikes; giving them the ABC once over – air, brakes, cranks and chains. Once that was complete, made sure we had all the gear – helmets, water, gloves, before heading out on the 5mile trip to the trails. Yes, I know we could have ridden, should have – in fact I ride past the Hoyt trails on my bike commute. However, kiddo doesn’t quite have his biking legs and stamina to do both the rides to and from plus the trails. Working on that is a goal for the year.
For this ride, we choose the Oak Hill 1 trail, aka Harley Woods, at Capitol Drive and Menominee Parkway. To get to the trails, you drop in on the north side of Capitol Drive, just west of the parkway and the river, east of 45. Trailhead is well marked, just look for the signs.
The trails are flowing, curvy single track. No tough climbs, but fun little touches of dips and creek crossings. The Metro Mountain Bikers do a great job of maintaining these – in keeping brush in check, building boardwalk type crossings, and installing rock and other armor in low lying spots.
The trail makes a 3mile loop heading out along 45 (which is only noticeable in one small section), and returning along the Menominee River. While not overly technical, and no steep climbs, the trail does force you to pay attention in order to successfully navigate the twisty spaces between the trees. Both kiddo and I were fascinated by the bench in the river – and couldn’t decide if when the river isn’t so high, if you could sit in it.
I also laughed at this tree. Apparently, a local beaver has the same opinion as I about having this tree at the base of a small hill with a slight curve in the trail. Tho’ I suppose it would prevent you from riding into the river.
The entire time, I could hear the voice of Tania, my instructor from the Ray’s Women’s Clinic
, telling me, “Eyes up, Kim”. I must say compared to the first time I rode this trail last fall, my skills and ability to tackle the trail have made dramatic improvements since that clinic. I am so looking forward to learning more at the Midwest Women’s Mountain Bike weekend next month. I even made a couple of tries at making it over a large log (these not so successful, but other smaller logs, no problem).
We had a great ride, a great time playing in the mud today. Brought a bit home with us.
And as I typed this, was reminded that it was a good thing we took advantage of this sunny afternoon – and how handy it is to get text updates via twitter from @WORBA_MMB, because my phone buzzed with this tweet:
“More rain, arghh!. Milwaukee MTB trails closed.”
Here it’s December, Everyday…..
Was reminded of that fact this morning when I dropped Kiddo off at school, and he commented about car ahead of us, “What a cool license plate”.
After a long, glorious,seemingly never ending fall, winter has come in with a vengeance. Seemed like one day temperatures were still hanging in the 40’s, and the next snow was flying and temps were in the teens. Or lower.
Somewhat ironic that Kiddo would notice and point out a license plate with that sentiment. Of everyone in the household, he and Kutya the Wonder Dog seem to enjoy winter the most. [Truth disclosure, these three pictures were from last winter…we’ve had snow (not quite this much), they’ve recreated these scenes more than once (I just haven’t gotten any pictures) Yet.]
I, on the other hand, have to be eased into it. And this winter there has been no easing – more like a full frontal assault. The season began with my first experience of a mandatory Wisconsin tradition, a Packers game at Lambeau Field….in December. I was immersed into winter. Dragged kicking and screaming (or at least grumbling). Frozen. Just so we’re clear, when it comes to winter games at Lambeau Field, this lifelong Chicago Bear fans has been there, done that and checked the box. September or October games, probably, November or December games in a suite, maybe…….December games in the stands, not gonna happen again.
Even when I leave Wisconsin, there’s no avoiding Old Man Winter. This week when biz travel took me to Des Moines, I was greeted in the hotel lobby by this lovely sight on Monday evening. 9 degrees with an overnight low of 4, really?!? When I called home, Hubby tried to make me feel better by telling the overnight low at home was supposed to be 0. That. Did *Not*. Make me feel better.
Still I know I live in a great state for winter fun. Maybe not Colorado level skiing, but decent skiing close by. Kiddo begins 6 weeks of snowboard lessons next month, giving Mom an opportunity to ski while he learns! Tons of places to ice skate. Could learn snow shoeing or cross country skiing.
Have a pledge to myself to get on a bike, ride, to at least pedal a bit outside (not on the damn trainer) every week over winter. This week a couple of spins around the yard – on our home off road trail 😉 were completed to get the picture of the commuter in the snow. Now Commuter and Road bike have been moved to the basement. But considering putting some studded tires on Sally Schwinn or the MTB to get in the occasional ride beyond the yard.
Or better yet, maybe I can take a lesson from these guys, who seem to be having so much fun, and do some actual trail riding! Huge props to Capital Off Road Pathfinders
at madcitydirt.org for building and maintaining these trails – which I hope to ride one of these days. Even if my first spin around them is in the spring.
Growing up midway between Chicago and Milwaukee gave us the option of taking advantage of what both cities had to offer. The Milwaukee Zoo, Christmas window shopping on State Street, and in August, the Wisconsin State Fair. Now that we live in the Milwaukee area, I am able to continue this tradition with my son. We’re not big ride people, choosing instead to skip the midway and focus on the barns, the exhibits – and of course the food.
At least the traditional Wisconsin state fair food….the roasted corn and the cream puffs. The chocolate covered bacon, deep fried Milky Ways or deep fried Oreos, just aren’t calling our names. In fact, if you asked the kiddo, he’d tell you that deep fried Oreos sound like one of the grossest things *ever*.
As we toured the animal barns, we noticed these container groups, and living wall.
There are a couple of “rides” that we can’t miss, the Giant slide and the sky ride. First up was the slide. Mom skipped it this year, but kiddo says next year, I must do it. And I will. To ride, you grab a burlap “potao sack”, climb a ton of stairs to the top (getting more nervous with each step), and then fly down!
From there a quick trip through the Wisconsin Products building, and a bit of Cedar Crest ice cream. We fell in love with Cedar Crest while living in southwestern Il. About 15 miles east of downtown St Louis, you’ll find the town of Lebanon, IL. On Main Street is Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain
. Oh how, we miss Dr. Jazz (and its owner, Paul). But we still can have the ice cream…in fact this reminds me that we owe Paul a picture of us in front of the cow statue at the Cedar Crest factory up in Manitowoc, WI
Next up the sky glider. No trip to the fair (or Summerfest for that matter) is complete without a ride on the sky glider. Kiddo and I love it – hubby not so much, in fact I suspect avoiding this ride was the reason behind needing to stay home and cut the grass. Great views of the fair from up here – no doubt we’re in Milwaukee, home of the great beers of MillerCoors!
Perhaps the best part of the sky glider is where you end up……
Kiddo was getting tired, so we grabbed a box to go…because no trip to the fair would be complete without the cream puffs. Even have one for Mom when she arrives tomorrow.
Have a new resolution to try and get out of the office for a fast-paced walk over lunch on most days. Not sure why in two years of working from this office I never did that. Is a good little habit I’m bringing back from my Chicago office days.
This week as I was trotting along Martin Drive, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a pretty little Henry Lauder’s Walking stick (Corylus avellana “Contorta”). The intricacy of the twisted branches slowed my pace a bit, the plant tag and fresh mulch slowed it a bit further. But what stopped me dead in my tracks was the garden I noticed behind the bush, well, behind the low hedge behind the bush.
A charming little urban oasis. Paved seating area up front. Pretty iron arbor with some sort of climber – curious to see that that is when it leaves out. Stone path through what appears to be a herb garden. Lots of garden art, both on the wall and throughout the space. Another seating area in the back with a small statue centered at the rear. Obviously well tended. Someone or someones pride and joy. In a sliver of land between an apartment building and a parking lot. Somewhat a fringe neighborhood, abutting the semi-industrial area of Milwaukee where the Harley Davidson headquarters and Miller Brewery are located.
I’ve driven by the spot probably hundreds of times on the way to and from work. And have never noticed this garden. Now I can’t wait to watch it through the seasons. Funny what slowing down and paying attention to the world around you can bring…………….