Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dehydrated but Organized

And time passes for our hero, as it does for all of us...

Work continues to barely drag along, but the REAL world (note: there is no such thing as the real world) has been doing pretty well.  Our garden is at least sprouting, and there are a bunch of hot pepper and tomato plants in the ground, growing contentedly.  There are also sweet peas, beets, lettuce, green beans and cucumbers (don't count on the cukes though - they look a mite sickly).

A Simpson Design convertible at the Greenway trailhead.
Turns out it's a body kit that goes on Miata frames.

I've been trying to maintain a healthy level of exercise, which for me is riding five days out of seven.  Looking at my trusty MapMyRide calendar for the last couple of weeks I see that two weeks ago I only rode four days out of seven (darn that mythical real world) but the one day I got out and rode twice, soooo - it's almost kind of like I rode five days out of seven since I did get in the same number of rides.

Then this week I redeemed myself from last weeks shortcomings by riding six days out of seven.  Checking the MMR tally I see those six rides consisted of two singletrack sessions, three pavement rides and one stationary bike torture-fest.  And on the seventh day I got in three hours of trail building down at Beaver Creek (more on that later).  So it was a pretty active week, and I'm basically feeling mostly good, though I am still sporting a few fading bruises from my latest Off Bike Experience.

About a month ago one of my trail building buddies, Eric, and I started talking about what it would take to start a mountain bike club for our area.  Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) does a really great job and has helped me a lot, but they don't cover our county since we're 50 miles away.  I'd thought of starting a club a couple of years ago, but I seriously don't want to be the president of anything, so I put it off.  But Eric and I decided to see if we could get something started, so we made up some fliers and got them out to all the local bike shops.

The response was minimal, but at the same time another rider was having the same thoughts.  And when he met up with the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) rep for the Great Lakes region at a mtb event, things really started moving.  Thanks to the work and commitment of our new president, the Rust Belt Riders MTB is the newest IMBA chapter club (or will be when the final application is submitted this week).  I did end up with the job of secretary, but I think that's something I can handle.

We'll cover Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana counties in Ohio, as well as the area in Pennsylvania that's just across the border.  One of the main issues will be to get Mill Creek Park to change their policy and allow mountain bikes on some of their trails.  Another focus will be continuing the work I started with building new trails down at Beaver Creek, and making that park our showcase of trail building possibilities.  After putting in three years of negotiations to get this project going I'm really excited with the possibilities.

We had a trail building day at Beaver Creek this Saturday, despite the 90 degree temps.  The park was having a Civil War re-enactment this weekend (a fact of which I was unaware) so the place was PACKED full of cars.  We're working on the other side of the creek from the encampment and re-enactment site, so there weren't many people around - just a hundred parked cars.  But I found a space way at the end, and so did Eric.  We got to work on the trail and finished off our big rock work project, an 85 foot long rock roadway that contours across a rugged part of the hillside.  The next task facing us is a steep section that will require a good sized rock retaining wall and pretty substantial bench cutting.

Building a new retaining wall at Beaver Creek.

Partway through the day Ian showed up to help with the build.  And just about the same time Doug, the "ranger" (actually a Resource Manager, I believe) for Ohio DNR stopped by to look at the new trail.  He's actually an avid mountain biker, and was excited to see our progress and the quality of the new trail.  We got to talking about the Rust Belt Riders and he wants to set up a time to do a walk-through of 100 acres of land over in Lake Milton State Park that he thinks would be prime for development as a mountain bike trail system.  And I heard second hand that Trumbull County Metroparks might be interested in developing another one of their parcels with some mtb trails.  So it turns out that there are quite a few positive things going on with the new club, and lots of possibilities to make a real difference for riders in our area.

Then today - funny thing, today... 

Yesterday I ended up doing three and a half hours of trail work in 90 degree heat, followed up with an hour and a half of gardening, in the same heat.  The real problem there is that I am of Greek heritage and sweat like a lawn sprinkler, so in the heat I have to put considerable effort into maintaining my hydration - or I crash like the Hindenburg.

Yesterday I drank two 32 oz. Gatorades, two 12 oz. Mountain Dews, and two 24 oz. water bottles while trail building and gardening.  Then when I got home I had another water and a couple beers.  I added up the total input in my head and thought that it should have been sufficient and went to bed tired.  Then this morning I got up before 7:00 and headed out to West Branch to ride.  Even getting out of bed was tough, but I attributed it to a hard day's work and being 49 years old.  When I got out on the singletrack I expected to feel better and get my groove, but after the first half hour or so I felt like chewed gum.  Despite that I continued on the singletrack, passing on the bail trail that in retrospect I should have taken.  It wasn't long before I was feeling seriously low in energy - like "maybe I should lay down for a minute" low.  I'm used to draggin' ass now and again, and this wasn't it.  After several granny gear climbs I finally made it back to the car and drove home, where I once again poured in copious amounts of fluids.

After a bit of reflection I decided that I must have still been dehydrated from the day before when I got up, and that once again going into 'full exertion' mode in 90 degree temps might not have been the best idea.  This afternoon I just sat around and took in fluids, with short naps in between (I'm usually not a nap guy).  And after drinking a LOT of Gatorade, ice tea and water I seem to have once again balanced the system somewhat, as there is now at least some output to go along with the massive input.  And once again I've relearned the 'hydrate yourself, you fool' lesson.  Hopefully this time it takes!


  1. Good advice, Steve. I have only recently started thinking about hydration. I have been off the beer for the last couple weeks in an effort to drop some poundage. I consciously drink a couple gallons of water during the day while I am working. I can't tell if I feel any better but I have lost about eight pounds.

    It sounds like you guys have your act together pretty good up there. Will there be T-shirts?


  2. TJ,

    You'd think that I would have learned this by now, but it's just very difficult to keep up with the fluids over a long, hot day. Carrying 200 oz of water with you is a noticeable burden.

    The club seems to be coming together well. We need to have 37 paid members within the first three months to break even, not counting any possible sponsers. Hard to tell how we're doing on that goal, but we do have a lot of names & email addresses of allegedly interested individuals. Being an IMBA chapter we have access to their graphic design team to make our logo. I would be surprised if there's not a t-shirt fund raising sale in our future.

    I also have a top secret ghetto t-shirt making method that I occasionally drag out to make shirts. My wife got me a stack of blank t-shirts of different colors, and I'm working on a design for our trail workers. It'll say 'TRAIL CREW' in a square on the front, and "blood, sweat & poison ivy' on the back. I'm hoping to be able to get these going soon, as a token of my gratitude to the volunteers who brave the heat, wild roses, mosquitos - and poison ivy to make trails happen.

    About the architecture - I work for a firm in Youngstown that does mostly school architecture, and is one of the top educational facility designers in the state. However with the real estate bust, the construction trade crashed, which left no jobs for architects. Of course that drives everyone into competition for the remaining jobs - like schools.

    Lots of firms have gone under already from lack of jobs. Our prospects were extremely good at the beginning of this downturn, but right now we're just barely hanging on, and hoping for some good news on the jobs we're going after. This is not good at all, since there is now a glut of architects on the market compared to the few jobs out there. In other words, the future is very uncertain - things could get ugly.

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my meanderings.

    Steve Z