Winter Biking – Trying to Stay Warm (and Fit)

James Knott at Alum Creek

I had a fun, but cold, ride at Alum Creek last weekend. Anytime the temp drops below 28 degrees on the weekend, I’ve been getting out and riding the trails.

Winter in Ohio is always a challenging time to be a mountain biker.  I should probably take up some other sport during the winter like speed skating or curling.  But, I try to stay focused on riding throughout the winter so that when spring comes I’m ready to crush some singletrack.

So far Winter 2016 has been very warm and that’s meant that the trails are usually unfrozen and too muddy to ride.  I’ve been watching the weather closely so that when temperatures drop below 28 degrees, the magic number, I can squeeze in a ride.  My goal is try and get in at least one big mountain bike ride every two or three weeks to try and stay in decent MTB shape.  For example, last weekend, I rode from sunrise to 10:15 a.m. at Alum Creek with Mike Whaley.  I did 4 laps and got 24 miles in before the trail started to get squishy.  Good thing I got an early start.  On another occasion, I rode 30+ miles at Chestnut Ridge, but, it can be a struggle to stay out for those long rides with my extremities getting chilled.

Snow at Chestnut Ridge

It snowed before the last race at Chestnut Ridge. There was about 2 inches on the ground. Then it warmed up and all the snow went away. I’m all for the warmer weather, but it makes it difficult to go mountain biking.

Fat Bike Race with Skinny Tires

Currently, temperatures are dropping and this Saturday will be in the teens.  I will be competing in race #3 in Combo’s Fat Bike Race Series at Chestnut Ridge Metropark.  I don’t have a fat bike – yet – but they have a skinny tire division.  So far, I’ve won the first two races in my division.  It’s been a lot of fun and a nice change from the other events that I’ve completed over the last year.  Combo holds the race on the CX course and adds singletrack if the weather and trail conditions permit.  So far there was one race in the mud and one frozen race in two inches of snow. Both times, I struggled to keep my bike upright in the slippery conditions.  I think I’d prefer the cold, snowy race over the warm muddy race though.

James Knott jumps a barrier

The fat bike race is held on the CX course at Alum Creek and even includes the barriers for hopping over. Maybe some day I will be cool enough to have a fat bike.

New Trek Bike

The big news this week is that I ordered a new bike.  I had narrowed it down to two bikes – the Trek Procaliber 9.7 and the Trek Superfly SS (singlespeed).  I asked the friendly folks on Facebook which bike I should buy and they basically could be put into two groups.  Folks that ride singlespeed wanted me to switch to singlespeed and those who like kicking my butt on a geared bike want me to continue to ride a geared bike.  Hopefully the bike will be here in a week or so.  I can’t wait to take it on the trail.  It’s been a long time since I had a new bike.  I’ll be revealing which bike I bought on Facebook when it arrives at the store.

Thanks to Dan Negley at Breakaway Cycling for helping me figure out what size I needed and for just being a swell guy to work with.

Dan Negley and James Knott at Breakaway Cycling

Dan just sold me a bike. He is happy. So am I. I can’t wait to ride my new bike this year!

A Smaller Jimmy from a Larger Jimmy

Towards the end of the year, and especially over the holidays, I packed on a few extra pounds – too many cookies and fine craft beers.  My weight wasn’t out-of-control or unhealthy, but it was headed in the wrong direction.  I spent so much effort losing the weight 2 years ago, over 40 pounds, that I don’t want it to creep back on.  Weight-loss kinda sucks and I don’t want to do it all again.  The great thing about cycling is it rewards being light and that gives me a goal to work towards that keeps me healthy.

James Knott at Zaftig Brewing

I had a few too many of these over the holidays. …but they tasted SOOOO good.
This was on a fun trip to Zaftig Brewing Company.

Recently, I started cleaning up my diet.  I try to stick to vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats, basically a paleo diet.  Whereas last time I was focused on MyFitnessPal and tracking calories, this time I’m going to try without.  When I lost weight before, it taught me how to eat, which foods would satisfy my hunger, but not cause me to over-indulge in calories.  Now I want to try and stick to those lessons and do it by feel.

I created a chart and hung it in my bathroom.  It has a trend line that goes down about a half pound a week.  I weigh myself every morning and my goal is just to stay under the line.  If I go over, then I know I have to be a little more strict the next couple of days.  If I can stay under this trend line, then I should be in great shape for the Mohican 100 and other big races in the summer.

James Knott's weight chart 2016

Obsessive? Jimmy’s weight chart. I weigh myself every morning. I’m just trying to stay under the blue line.

I also signed up for Tough Mudder in May, so I’ve started working on push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups to give myself a little extra upper body strength.  I’ve also been tracking this on a chart in my bathroom.  I’m just slowly increasing the number of reps.  Right now I’m up to 27 of each every other day.  I’m definitely starting to feel a difference, so I’d like to keep it up even after the Tough Mudder.

So Long

Those are my random wintery thoughts.  Please make sure to like Quickdirt on Facebook.  Also, you can follow the Breakaway Quickdirt Trek team on Facebook to see what they are up to and find out which races and rides they will be at.

James Knott with Hopslam

Oooo… Can I just have one or two of these? It tastes so good when it hits your lips.