Sunday, June 25, 2006

epic #2: another take against the wall

there are several important particularities that was during my first time up at Maarat, San Mateo, Rizal
1) it was my first time to use my Stumpy on a real trail

2) i was using the stock Specialized Resolution 2.0 tires (which looked and felt like 2.4s) on Mavic 317 rims
3) i was using LX hydraulic disc brakes and drivetrain (front and rear derailleur) BUT my wheelset has specialized/deore hubs and Avid disc rotors (not center-lock)
4) before the ride, i had problems with the rotor hitting the brake pads unintentionally. a quick fix and i solved the problem
5) the climb up the wall was hard. too hard. yes, it was my first time to ride after a very long time so i might just be out of shape, but it really feels like the bike was too slow. i thought it was the rear suspension sapping pedalling efficiency, but i was fully locked out. climbing was exceptionally hard for me that day. i couldn't climb hills i could normally clean before. i didn't rule out the possibility that i was just really out of shape, but i also want to blame my tires.
i'd also blame my brakes. there was a point in a climb where it just felt that pedalling was "makunat". i think it's because my disc brakes became malaligned and were hitting the pads. i guess my quick fix didn't last long
6) we were resting somewhere when we realized that it was getting dark. dark clouds loomed over our heads. we were sure it will rain. under the shade of a tree we planned to wait out the rain. we waited for a long time until we decided to just ride out and away from the rain. shortly after we went on, rain began to pour hard. for some reason, we all felt that the rain gave us strength and comfort to continue. perhaps because it was a hot day and the rain cooled us off. perhaps because the trail was generally going downhill when the rain poured. whatever it was, we were glad the rain drenched us.

i keep saying that sometimes, rain just wets us on purpose. no other reason why the weather decided to rain, "umulan para lang mabasa tayo". after less than ten minutes, the rain stopped and we were riding dry fire roads. and the sun was out heating us up again.
7) the reward of climbing is the fast downhill part. we passed through a winding fire road with really loose gravel. really loose. it was a good thing that our trail guides warned us in advance to slow down.
8) we ate adobo, corned beef, eggs and bulalo on banana leaves in a small canteen near the foot of the wall

yesterday we decided to take on the wall once again, to redeem ourselves
1) i've been using the Stumpy every week (as long as there's a ride). it has tasted Santa Rosa, Davilan and Langgam trails

2) i was still using the Spez Resolutions, but it's now on the X223 wheelset
3) the X223 wheelset has LX hubs, rotors and cogs
4) since i'm on all LX parts, my wheels are definitely compatible with my drivetrain now. no braking problems here
5) perhaps i was just more conditioned now, but i was able to ride the wall better than before
6) we tried the singletrack that we were not able to try last time and it was wicked. to date, this has been the steepest i've been going downhill, plus the fact that it was a singletrack. downhill rush! i turned off the fork lock-out and switched the Triad rear shock from Propedal(tm) to open. i shifted my weight back, kept some fingers on the brake levers... when i felt like im losing balance, i just let go of the brakes and i regain balance. gyroscopic inertia does its thing. after i popped out of the dense vegetation singletrack and landed on the road, i couldn't wipe the smirk off my face. i gotta do that again. two things: somehow i began to crave for dual-crown forks; i have to cut my seat tube so i can lower my seat
we entered another singletrack on the way home. i hit this big ditch and for some reason i couldn't get over it, so i had to be contented to hike my bike up. the others were just near ahead waiting. after we were all rallied on our small stop we went ahead, but upon pedalling, i noticed that my bike feels funny. i looked back on my rear tire and saw that i suffered a flat. "bobby parcs" was suffering from a leaky interior before so he borrowed my interior. sir edu lent his to me. after a quick repair, we were off again

7) riding fast feels so good, especially if you're not exerting effort. the wind zips past your knees, elbows and shorts. when turning, you experience g-forces and lean at angles unimaginable at low speeds. i decided to overtake sir joseph on this turn because i'm overconfident while turning - i've mastered the art of shifting weight and leaning the bike. after i passed him there was another left turn. i put my wieght on the right pedal, turn my handlebar (not lean the bike) to the left. the turn was too fast so i pushed on both brake levers. my tires were skidding a lot even though i was correctly feathering the brakes. i finally skidded too much that i fell on my left side. my eyes were open the whole time as i saw my bike beneath me then on top of me. i felt my helmet bang the ground. i stopped moving and i was down. sir joseph came to help me. he alerted the incoming riders about the accident. in order, these are the things, in chronological order, that came to my mind when i realized that i crashed:
masakit ba? ah hindi pala. ayos makakapagbike pa ako
then i lifted the bike off me
oh no nasugatan ba yung bike ko?
i fell on the left side. the drivetrain is on the right side. that's good. my dual-control lever on the left is scratched badly.
dirt was all over. on my bike. on my bag. on my body
ano ba masakit sakin... nasan sugat ko. haha ayos lang hindi masakit
sir joseph kept telling me that i was going too fast. he would've warned me that i was, but he didn't "kasi kanya-kanyang diskarte naman yan...". that's ok, i thought. it was an experience i'd gladly want to have. tito gary and mang fred came. several riders passed and asked if i was ok. sir fred brought out the agua, some cotton and betadine. sir edu came and helped drench hydrigen peroxide all over my left knee and shoulder. as the solution came into contact with blood, it fizzed up. some goo collected on my shoe. another slothering of betadine and i was ok. i wasn't in pain. bleeding yes. in pain no. tito gary said that i will feel the pain later, probably at night. i didn't know if he was joking. i then realized that we were in the fire road with the really loose gravel.

8) as soon as we were back to mang fred's rest house, rain poured hard. this time, it was as if weather waited for us to get back under a roof. maarat weather was probably guilty for drenching us the first time.
adobo will not be lost. but this time we also brought bopis and menudo and ordered servings of bicol express and pakbet on the side. we had plates (and bowls and rice-cooker covers) but we didn't have spoons. our hands were dirty. and there was no water. we washed our hands with soap and rain water. THEN someone came inside with utensils. great

things i learned because of the crash
1) stay in control when unfamiliar with the trail. this is going to be hard for me when i'm enjoying downhills
2) when turning in loose terrain, do not lean, steer. this i did, and will do now with conviction
3) do not use the front brakes when turning!!! this is very important!! yes, when going down, the front brake offers more braking power. but when turning, braking the front wheel will cause it to lose traction. front wheel traction is responsible for steering!
4) do not tighten the screw that clamps your levers. it should be a little loose so that in the event of a crash, if the levers hit the ground, they will just swing back instead of taking on the impact of the crash
5) wear a helmet. and knee and elbow protections if possible

i just hope that i didn't become apprehensive because of the accident.
mantra: the accident happened because the ground was loose... you can still bomb down if you the terrain is good...

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