Monday, June 29, 2009


Proper cleat placement is essential in preventing injuries up the whole kinetic lower leg chain; especially the knee.

There are a couple of different movements of the cleats to be set properly.

First of all the correct position fore and aft:
If they are set in the right spot you should be pushing through the ball of the foot for most people. So find the bump on the side of your big toe ( the ball of the foot ) and mark a dot on your shoes. Then line up the middle of the cleat with the dot. Some shoes do not allow you to move forwards far enough to line up with the ball of the foot. But that's OK; as long as you are not ahead of the ball of the foot. Reasons not to be in line with the ball of the foot include hot spots under the ball of the foot or an achilles problem.

Next the rotation needs to be set properly. 95% of the time how you stand and walk off the bike tells you how to set your cleats. For example if you stand toed out like a duck; then chances are you will want a toed out position on your bike.

Cycling is a fairly linear motion. But because the hip and knee joints are not mechanical hinge joints; but are ball and socket joints; there is a certain amount of conjunct rotation that occurs as you go around the pedal stroke. So if the cleats are set up properly your legs should be going where they want to go. Not in an uncomfortable unnatural direction for your body.

Here is a simple way to test your cleat rotation position. This is best done on a trainer.
It would be ideal if when you stopped pedaling you were in the middle of the float. This means that you can toe in and toe out equally. There is an equal amount of play on either side.

So to find out what your legs want to do on your bike:
Pedal X 5 - 8 or so pedal strokes. Stop at the bottom and try one direction ie: toe in/heel out to see how much movement/play there is.
Then repeat and test the other direction; ie: toe out/heel in to see how much play there is.
If for example you find that you have lots of toe in movement/play but little or no toe out; then that is where your legs are trying to go and you cleats aren't letting you go any further in that direction.

So you should adjust your cleats to give you more toe out.
To get more toe out you will need to aim the cleats in more. The opposite direction for more toe in. If the cleats are set up properly your legs should feel like they are going where they want to go. You shouldn't feel like you are fighting them.

With proper cleat set up your legs should be pedaling comfortably and injury free.

Mary Paterson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chico Racings Summer Solstice 09 "Snowman Mud" Fest

June 20/21 was this years anual Chico Racing Summer Solstice 24hr mountain bike event.
I chose to solo again this year, well for various reasons actually, but not the least of which is that last year was such a great solo experience that i was eager to duplicate that success. My results over the yrs have progressively improved due to training, organization and few other tricks which i'll save for my book which i may call "How to be a Great Solo 24hr Mtb Champion Like Me" (pic of me smiling and dirty and stuff)

This year I havnen't been on the mtb much, i got in only 85km of trail riding for this race which i believe i matched km for km in 6 laps, only 5 of which counted towards my standing. But i did have about 1600km of road riding so I wasn't worried about my legs. That 80km commute is awesome for getting in the klicks.

Preparation and organization of gear and campsite are important to me so after packing and driving and setup of the campsite which took until 10pm Fri night down in the "Fishin Hole" it was time for a beer and some shut eye.
I was having a great sleep Fri night until the heavy rain started, glad i picked up that Kenda KOT "King Of Tread", (this tire is scary looking, think tractor wheel but sharp), at the Moose as a last minute purchase on my way out the door.

I was hesitant to install these big tires on my race bike at first because of the rolling resistance so i at the last minute (theme here, never enough preparation) asked fellow Big Ringer Peter to switch them up for me as i headed off to the start line with the current Kenda Small Block Eights which were on my race bike already.
This proved to be stupid, or should i say StOoooopid! It was raining hard enough to wake me up 8 or 9hrs before the race! And it was still raining....I had asked Matt what he was running and he said he was running his dry tires so i figured good enough for Matt good enough for me. Think for yourself folks. Whatever Matt was riding was good enough for him anyway since he smoked that first lap like there wasn't any mud, i'd have been happy with that time on a dry day.

Lap 1

So after slipping and sliding around the first half of the course, the second half was much better as the ground back there drained away the surface water much better, I was glad I had asked for help with the mud tires as i was planning to use them right away. I came in switched my Giant race bike for my old Specialized which is my backup bike now with big knobbies, time to earn your keep old freind. I haven't ridden that bike in years for any length of time.

Lap 2

I immediately felt the benefits of these tires, on the rear was the mother of all mud tires the King of Tread and on the front was a Maxxis hanging around the tire pile in the garage thats been around for years, last minute decision to throw it in the truck once again. I was screaming thru the course without reservation for conditions whatsoever, it was great, i thought this is going to be awesome, i was giggly and happy cruising thru the muck like there wasn't any so i decided to have another lap on the Specialized before changing the wheels onto the Giant.

Lap 3 and 4

This is where things got weird with the mud. Lap 2 mud was soupy, messy, splashy stuff. Then the rain let up a little which caused the mud to stiffen and become thicker and stickier for lap 3. As i hit the muddy bog just outside the timing tent, i saw mud that reminded of a livestock stall on a farm, pigsty and such where the mud retains its shape after its been impacted. Riding through this quickly became no fun and as a solo its always a good idea to avoid pushing so hard through stuff that gains little time but kills the legs.
Anyway this turned out to be the theme for the first half of laps 3 and 4. As you pushed you bike thru the muck it would stick to itself and build up, hence the name "SnowManMud", on the tires to a point where the wheels would no longer roll. I at times put the seat into my right shoulder with the right across on the top tube, left hand on the left hand grip and pushed, sliding the bike to a place where i could remove the mud congealed - all over the bike - the old specialized was weighing 70ish pounds now and it wouldn't roll. There were some sections where something resembling riding was possible and once again the second half of the course was better and rideable, so it gave you some encouragement to go right on and do another lap, which i did.

Now i should mention that some riders had shown up well prepared and were actually riding past us in the bad stuff. I saw very skinny knobby mud tires that cut throught the muck easier and held less mud,I heard spray your entire bike with vegetable oil and the mud won't stick, be a really strong rider, whatever these guys were doing it worked for them and they were the envy of the race course.

Lap 5

Same old, same old, except that once in the second half of the course which was ridable before we found that it was now deteriorating to a point resembling the first part the course which had been shut down after my lap 4 for a shortened course.
During lap 5 i realized that this course was going south , particularly for solos. It was my feeling that on a team it would be more tolerable since its only one lap and then a long rest, so i figured the teams would continue until the course was shut down altogether, which fellow BigRingers did and gained first place in their category, as did Tanya, who by the way was also solo.
I was pretty much committed to hanging up my helmet for this one but Jenn, my fiance and support crew was doing her job making sure i went back out for my 6th lap. I didn't argue with her and did my job. I had borrowed Tobins light for this race and was excited about riding at Albion hills with over 1200 lumens combined head and bar mount, but decided not to subject my buddies lamp to this kind of abuse for no apparent reason so headed out with just a helmet mount.

I now pushed the bike -for the entire lap- until i got to the back section where i could duck under a ribbon and cut out 2 sections of bike pushing to save a good 45minutes getting back to camp. I felt i could maybe grunt through and steal some spots off of guys who dropped out but decided if they were ahead of me they deserved it and good for them, i trained to ride a bike for 24hrs, my best comes out in the second 12 so let'em have it and congrats! Time for a beer! When i got back the news was that the course was officially shut down. No surprise.

Big thanks,
To BigRingers Peter and Mark for the tech support in pit, like i said those tires in lap 2 were the high point of the race.
To Jenn her mom Doris and aunt Ruth for the as always awesome pit support.
And to the all the BigRing sponsors, especially Kenda and Prolink who's products worked so well in the crazy conditions.

See you at Hot August Nights, Solo!

aka, Golonghardman

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Riverkeeper Duathlon/Triathlon

Last Saturday a couple of Big Ring Racing mountain bikers put on different hats and competed in the Ottawa Riverkeeper Duathlon and Triathlon. Kari is a seasoned veteran of triathlons and this was a piece of cake for her compared to her Ironman, but this was my first "real" attempt at something like this. I took up running last year just for something to do at lunch at work. I've been running with a friend, never getting out of zone 1, and did the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon recently alongside her. I figured this was my chance to try something new.

Upon arrival, I immediately ran into Kari and set my bike up next to hers in the transition area. Kari felt that this would be a good time to clean her bike and lube her chain for what appeared to be the first time in 3 years, but was in a hurry as she needed to hit the potties before the rapidly approaching race starting time. I took over bike cleaning on her behalf. I also adjusted her gears a bit which seemed off and tightened her brakes. The announcer casually mentioned something about the race starting. No sign of Kari. I waited around as long as I could then sprinted to my start line. The duathlon started with a 5k run and I watched the swimmers leaping into the water, sans Kari who was still at the potty. Seasoned veteran that woman.

My cunning strategy was not to go out too fast on the first run, blow everyone away on the 45km bike, then hold people off on the final 10k run. Didn't happen.

Here's Kari looking like a true tri-geek with her decked out bike and serious look:

Meanwhile, I finished the run as planned in amongst a bunch of people who clearly had eaten a bit too much over the past 40 years. Hit the bike with confidence. But I didn't seem to be catching anyone. Sure, I passed two or three people, but two people passed me. I was not pleased. I was truly surprised to see some of these folks riding so fast. They did appear to be pushing pretty hard I had to admit, but I was chunking along only about 3 beats under threshold myself, a pace I held (without dropping in velocity) the full distance. I finished the 45 km in 1:20 which I was pleased with. I tried to tell myself I'd have done better had there been any hills to speak of instead of such a flat course.

Part of my problem appears to be that I have terrible roadie posture. First of all I seem to be smiling, secondly I'm sitting up like a goof, and finally what's with all that flabby ass business going on? I know, I know, the camera adds ten pounds, but just how many cameras could possibly have been trained on my butt? Three?

We ended with a 10k run. As I said, I'm not a runner and all I really knew was that I did a 10k run Terry Fox run in 45 minutes 5 years ago and it almost killed me.

Well, I felt just fine. In fact, the 1:20 on the bike seemed to have allowed me to recover and I had an easy time doing a 45:30 10k, passing everyone who'd gone by me on the bike and catching a few people who'd been ahead of me all along. I now felt better about my biking. I may not be fast, but I can go at a decent clip for some time without it affecting me.

I was in at the finish a full 15 minutes faster than my "best" estimate had been pre-race so overall I was very happy with the day. I got to watch Kari cruise home like it had been a typical day for her:

In the end, both Kari and I finished 9th overall. Thanks to being old however, I was first (of 6) in my age group, while Kari was 3rd in hers. Two podium finishes for Big Ring Racing! Maybe our new motto should be "We excel when there is very little competition."

It was a fun day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

SMH, finally!!

I finally got out to SMH on Saturday, where Lenny took me and my neighbour, Yves, for a tour of the highlands. I had not ridden SMH since the summer of 2007. It seemed that every time I wanted to go last year it was raining and I did not want to cause any damage to the Mamasita. Lenny took us on Outer thigh, Pete's Wicket, Outback and Ridge to name a few.

Lenny and Yves, all smiles as we start the ride

Lenny showing his hucking skills!

Powering up a rock face...

Guess who we ran into on the top of Rib Cage? T-Bone! She was schooling some young punks on the finer points of technical riding. Speaking of Rib Gage, Yves rode up it (yes, up!) on in first try - like buttah! Dude got some power! The only other person I ever heard of who made it up Rib Gage on the first try is this guy. (forgive me if your eyes hurt, I could have picked a worst pic)

T-Bone hamming it up!

After concurring Rib Cage, Yves showed us how to endo and still
keep the rubber to the ground, and that was not his last demo!

Lenny got a flat as we were hauling ass back to the car for post ride refreshments...

...and the post-ride refreshments were tasty and refreshing!!!

Great ride boys! Thanks Lenny for showing us around and bringing the wobbly pop!