Thursday, June 18, 2009

I had a strange relationship with a small pine tree...

I've kept this pretty quiet until now. I've told a few people about what happened in the forest, but not many. Only now can I start to understand what happened and find a hint of levity.

Trail riding in the forest is a lot like trail running. Yes, running on trails with your feet and legs. Runners find and latch onto "runner's high", a brain state where endorphins are flowing and the runner is relaxed, euphoric, even 'high' and sometimes, 'quite high'. And for me, that runner's high sets in much sooner and is a lot more intense when running on trails. The reason is that you're really focused on picking your line. You totally zone out the surroundings other than the immediate terrain that you're negotiating. And you must pay close attention to your line to prevent twisting your ankle or tripping on a root or rock. It's easy to get lost when you're trail running because you tuned out the surroundings.

The same thing happens on a dirt bike when you're blasting through the woods. It takes a while for this intoxication to set in. You start to sweat, you're exerting energy moving around on the bike (body English) to get it to go where you would like. You're getting a little tired and you start picking up the pace a little. NOW, you're entering the ZONE! You're paying particular attention to the trees, ruts, roots, mud puddles, and sand patches. You're not totally focused on any one element; your brain is processing all of the information about the stuff in front of you and the stuff you just blew past, in your periphery. It's COOL! (this pic is not THE tree, just a pic I swiped off the internet)

So let's get back on topic. I had a strange relationship with ONE small pine tree out of billions. As I approached, it was perfectly in focus. Not an unfocused, slightly blurred tree like all of the others. I saw this tree perfectly. Perfectly focused, perfectly right there on the side of the trail. And I RODE RIGHT INTO IT!! Bwahaha! It nailed the ring finger on my left hand. Beneath my glove, it hurt like hell. After about 5 minutes of riding, I had to stop to peel the glove off. Finger was bleeding and cut pretty well on the outside of the hinge joint (I ain't no anatomy guy!). I'm damn lucky it didn't separate my finger! Lesson learned? Bark Busters!! Don't go into the woods without 'em! I've had these for years but hadn't bothered to bolt them on! Doh! So now the 125 has 'em and I'm going to fabricate a couple more pairs for the 100's.

So I've heard about something related to motorcycle riding that is called Target Fixation. I've always heard about it in a bad light. How could this be? Target fixation must certainly be a good thing, eh?! You know, like super focused, really alert to pulling off what you're trying to do. So after this episode with the pine tree, I googled it. And SURE ENOUGH, it's a BAD thing and something to be avoided! Apparently, if you focus too sharply on something, the brain has a little software glitch that will steer you right into that object. Prior to my relationship with the tree, I would have absolutely called BS on such a ridiculous notion. No way, it'll never happen!

Target Fixation DOES exist and it IS a bad thing! I've done it! Only once. And I mean that tree was in focus! Like no other tree ever before. Strange. Really weird! Here's what Wikipedia says, Target Fixation.

And in other news,I got an invitation from a friend, Glenn (a guy I met while riding in the woods), to visit the legendary Houston motocross track that has been laboriously and meticulously resurrected, Rio Bravo MX Park! Wow! Nice work, guys! They've done a fantastic job putting it back together!

After I took a couple of laps, I came in and said, "WOW, it's an old-fashioned motocross track, just like what tracks looked like in the 70's and 80's!" It's different in that it's a fast track with long sweeping turns and pretty graceful jumps. It just means you've gotta ride super fast to get the effect (like the Gran Prix track at 3 Palms). Not really my cup of tea because the speeds are high (the consequences for making a mistake can be high). But the guys at Rio Bravo have done a GREAT JOB! Hats off!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another great weekend is now 'on the books'...

On Saturday, we were all fired up about going to the RTW 5k. It has been 2 weeks since the last one, right? Ahh, but something failed to register. The race is the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Doh. So when Tessie and I showed up, we were disappointed to be the only ones there. Tess was looking around the starting area, wondering why we were alone. I was going to bag the run, then thought, "we're here, we're gonna RUN IT!" So we did. Tessie came in 1st place dog, and I finally got my 1st place finish.

Sunday brought the Tejas Triathlon. Having signed up for it only 6 days prior, I had ZERO training going into the event. But I DID show up well ahead of time to get set up. You might recall what happened last year when I sped to the event at over 100 mph. Here's the funny topic from last year: Tejas Triathlon 2008

So this year, I was punctual. "Hmm, I wonder if I can just stuff the bike into the convertible?" Wheels in the trunk. Yeah, it's doable:

Horrible mess, big pile of stuff in my transition area (last year)? No way baby, my little piece of real estate was tidy and organized! Yea:

Nice venue, super triathlon weather:

The swim was really no big deal. Hmm, that's a first. I didn't inhale a quart of water right at the beginning of the swim (last year), and it seemed that there were very few people kicking me and very few being kicked by me. What's up with that? Swim was good. I didn't get passed by anyone, but I passed a bunch of people.

The biking was good. I got passed by a BUNCH of folks! My bike is prolly 25 years old and my body much older than that. I have no idea how much the fast riders are benefited by riding the ultra-modern (read very expensive) TRICK bikes. It's probably a mix of modern equipment AND training. Imagine that. It was funny, I was pedaling along thinking, "this is a 19-20 mph ride". I came upon one of those automatic speed displays on the side of the road to make drivers conscious of their speed. There was a car coming past on my left. The sign read "32 mph", then "19 mph". "Ahh YES, I'm doing just fine". Funny.

The run totally SUCKED! That's unusual for me. I just couldn't find my 'land legs' after ditching the bike. It was bad from the start. I was walking at times. I was spent and just couldn't get the job done. Perhaps if I had trained. Mental note to self.

My swim was 12:37 for 600m (6 seconds slower that 2008), the bike was 21.7 mph (19.1 for 2008, YEA), and the run pace was 8:33 (7:32 in 2008, BOO!). Total time was 1:15 Pretty cool being done with this before most people open their eyes!

In all, I saw about 5-6 people I know. I wanted to get a group picture of 4 of us, but people didn't want to be photographed. Whatever. But Cassie was OK with it:

Cassie JAMMED with a 10 minute PR (personal record for you non-runners)! Great job on that! Overall, I'm pleased and had a great weekend! Now I need a work week to recover! Whew.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dirt Biking in the Sam Houston National Forest

After riding in the Sam Houston National Forest in 2007 when I was looking to relocate here, I swore I'd never do that again. Those who keep up (on this blog), know I've been riding motocross here locally, for the past year and a half...

I'm HOOKED on RIDING IN THE FOREST!! It's different, requiring typically a smaller bike than the motocross track and is an acquired pleasure. After riding in the forest 3 or 4 times, I can now understand the attraction. The terrain isn't too technical and there are no big jumps and not much high-speed terrain.

I've contemplated taking beginner riders to the woods, but now don't think so. There is deep sand and tree roots that require bike handling prowess, for sure. But the real problem is that the consequences of even a minor riding mistake can be pretty dire, as there are unwielding pine trees everywhere! There is also a neat camping area 3 miles from where I go dirt biking. The camping offers kayaking and grilling, all the good stuff. The trails are not far from my house. Here: Multi-Use Trails