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The Knoxville Double came off great. The weather was perfect (though I did hear “a tad warm” complaints–unfortunately the shade less climbs were during the heat of the day.) For once I didn’t do something stupid like hit a car the week before, so I came in healthy. Turned out to be easiest double of the year (I was on good behavior, only got po’d 3 times, mostly late in the day, and chased 3 riders.) .
Jack and I finished this one in the dark, as we did starting the year on Devil Mountain Double. Late start (5:40), early sunset, not timed event so can go easy and bs with lots of riders and great rest stop workers we know, no mass start (well we had one), and deceptive climbing (NOT a climbing double, ONLY 12,600′ climbing) all conspire to have us finish after sunset.
Aforementioned weather was nice–in Vacaville was low 60’s when we started off. Dr. Dave (our Triple Crown rookie of the year) is correct–great moment on a double is when sun comes up, especially since I was fearing riding over many of the torn up roads in the dark–but there was massive re-pavement. Napa Valley-which is usually frigid was overcast but ok. The funny thing was that usually on doubles you start off with tons of riders but we don’t see many until later in the day. Because we set out late (most people leave at 5:00) we didn’t see too many riders through Napa Valley. No “oh wow” scenery but constantly riding past nice rustic scenery–or on the Silverado Trail some real funky wineries. Moist morning air in Napa and grapes ready to be picked combined for a real nice aroma.
Knoxville Road was real pleasant–a @20 mile mostly gentle climb in the middle of nowhere, which got us to Lower Lake. Here we started to pick up and pass lots of riders, and get back into the middle of the ride.
More on the Pumpkincyle blog ride report with photos—Gruppo Pumpkincycle
Side note-day before rode Vacaville to Lake Solano and took a side trip to Winters. From Lake Solano a great way to get to Winters is Putah Creek Road–flat, rustic and minimal traffic.
Let me end by regrettably declaring that JACK HAS LOST IT! That’s right. At Davis he has always picked the PERFECT tandem to draft, one that is setting a nice flatland speed without killing us.
At Knoxville I was actually looking forward to NO mass start–and started with minimal lights. Also air was a little cool and damp, not great for my breathing. Ha. A tandem pulled out in front of us–Jack stuck his elbows out from the get go raced to catch up and hang on their wheel. I knew something was wrong–both riders were wearing Alta Alpina 8 jerseys and when we got to the freeway overpass out of the park the tandem zoomed up it. F! Jack made a few more digs but we were dropped as soon as the road leveled off and I had no hope of staying on the first downhill.
Later I talk to someone who told me that that one of the guys on the tandem was a guy who usually finishes in the top ten on the Terrible Two (he “only” finished 3 hours ahead of me this year) and he was the WEAKER RIDER. The other guy finished 1 1/2 hours ahead of me on the Terrible Two–oh yeah, he was on a fixed gear and set a new course record on it.
Jack did redeem himself by setting a blistering pace from the last rest stop to the finish–we had seen Kitty dining out at the last rest stop and Jack wanted to make sure we’d get to the food line at the finish before her.
Nice way to end a long doubles season, which began before the Devil Mountain Double with Jack, Ward and I coming up with ridiculously hard century training rides (eg. Sierra Road Twice.) The high point of the year was another high finish on the Mt. Tam Double, my favorite. Picking the lowpoint is easy, getting hailed on in Death Valley on the rerouted Eastern Sierra Double.–Jay
OR…Don’t think about this the next time you’re descending a winding road.
Ask any cyclist how you steer a bike, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s a combination of turning the handlebars in the direction you want to go, and leaning into the turn, right? Well, not exactly. Although balancing and steering a bike is something we take for granted, and do automatically, it’s actually a very complex skill to describe.
We learned quickly about balancing. If the bike started to fall over to the RIGHT, we had to steer RIGHT, into the fall to straighten up. But think about it for a moment. When your mass began falling to the RIGHT, the act of steering to the right actually exerted a force on your mass in the opposite direction, bringing it back to the LEFT towards the upright position.
So what about steering? Next time you’re out on flat ground, try the following experiment, but make sure you’re going very slowly! You’re going to isolate the two movements, steering and leaning. First, try to steer into a turn without leaning. In other words, if you want to go left, turn the handlebars left but remain upright on the bike without leaning into the turn. Whoa! I hope you pulled yourself out of it in time, because steering LEFT just caused you to fall RIGHT. Try steering right without leaning, and you’ll fall over to the left. In other words;
Steering in any direction will actually cause you to fall in the opposite direction.
Now try just leaning into a turn, but without turning the bars. The faster you are going, the harder it is to lean over anyway, but when you do manage, if you don’t steer into the fall, you’re just going to topple over.
Which brings us to the concept of counter-steering. To initiate a RIGHT turn on a bike, you actually have to first, exert a force on the bars (steer) to the LEFT. This causes you to start to fall (lean) towards the RIGHT. Now you can move the bars right, (steer into the fall) to try to catch up until you are pointing in the direction you want to go, at which point you have to OVER-STEER to push yourself back upright. If you want to turn LEFT, you start with a counter-steer to the RIGHT, etc.
THE RULER ANALOGY
Imagine what would happen if you were trying to balance a ruler upright in the palm of your hand. If the ruler starts to fall over to the right, you have to move your hand to the right to catch up to its fall, and then overshoot it by a bit to bring it back upright. Now suppose you have the ruler under control, and you want to move it over to the right. If you start moving your hand to the RIGHT, the ruler is just going to fall over to the LEFT, so that won’t work. In fact, what you have to do is first make a small movement to the LEFT, which causes the ruler to fall towards the RIGHT, and now you can move your hand right until you reach the point you want to be at. So then, how do you stop the ruler from moving or falling further? You over shoot the fall to the right, which pushes the mass of the ruler left, and hopefully brings it back to upright.
When you want to make a turn, you have to:
- First counter-steer in the opposite direction, which causes you to fall (lean) in the direction you want to go.
- Which then allows you to bring the handlebars around and steer into the fall until you are pointing in the desired direction.
- Now to bring yourself out of the turn, you have to over-steer even further into the turn, which will push your mass opposite and bring you upright.
Have fun on those hairpins next time out!