A Blown Out Shoe

Today the weather was perfect. Clear skies, a little breeze, and the temperature reached 78°F. It made for a nice day to practice some long shots and ride my mountain bike.

Shooting was a bit tricky since the early sunlight through the trees illuminated the target and left me in the shadows. It, of course, washed out my pins. Still, I shot for about an hour and a half until the call to ride my bike become overwhelming.

IMG_3500
My block type target about 30 yards out. I have this marked out to 65 yards at 5-yard increments.

Competitive riding has been part of my life for 45 years. Those were spent racing in cycling, duathlon, and triathlon competition. Because I’d started racing bicycles before adding duathlon and triathlon, during the multi-sport events cycling was my strongest component.

Cycling, when it was my primary sport, meant road racing and track racing. I also raced mountain bikes for about 5 years and it was always a blast. Where we live in Maryland and on the North Carolina coast there isn’t any mountain biking. Here in Georgia I can hit trails and ride all day never touching pavement.

I’d planned a long off road ride and had a challenging course planned. I’d leave the house; cut along wooded trails, then hit a power line break riding that out and back for an hour each way.

It took 30 minutes to get through the woods and onto the power line break. These are nice to ride. There are often trails perpendicular to the power lines made by ATVs and logging for exploration. It’s hilly and rough. It’s fun.

IMG_3519

Fifteen minutes into the power line portion of the ride I reached a steep downhill that merged into a sharp turn before working into a steep climb. It was broken up with rain washouts and ruts. I stopped to look it over before taking the plunge.

This is what it would take: Stay to the left on the down hill, let momentum carry me over a small hump on the uphill then slam it hard to the right to pull off the climb without stopping or falling.

I rode back about twenty yards to get the speed it would take to make the assault after the downhill. I cranked up speed and lifted off my saddle to handle the ruts, hit the outcropped hump on the rise, then jerked right when my right foot pulled free.

It was a surprise to have my right leg off the pedal. The torque on the pedal was in the wrong direction to have pulled my cleat free. This made me lose momentum, I put my foot down saving a crash and was honestly amazed that I’d pulled off the pedal.

When I looked down I was even more astonished to find the cause of the liberated foot. The jam to the right was going to require a bit of force to move the entire bike making it hop toward the new direction I’d wanted. What had happened, and this has never happened to me before, I pulled the shoe apart! The shoe literally separated into two parts, the upper and the lower. The lower half holding the cleat remained firm with the pedal. The upper half followed my foot. And, these were not inexpensive shoes. They’d only been used about a dozen times. All I could do was offer a disappointed glare.

IMG_3503IMG_3504

The ride was over except for the getting home leg. For that portion of the ride I found a road and gently pedaled back. Once home I tried using super glue to make the shoe whole. True to my experience with super glue, the only things that it seals together are fingers.

Regretfully, I only have one pair of mountain bike shoes with me in Georgia. I also only have one bow. In consideration of Sunday’s tournament, I hope it doesn’t fail me, too.

A Challenging Day Shooting 3D

On Saturday I shot in the Roanoke Archers’ 3D tournament. They’re a member of the Down East Archery Coalition’s clubs that hold  3D competitions here in eastern North Carolina. Early in the day the weather promised to make things interesting and fulfilled that promise. The range is tough and the club does not shy away from using all the real estate on the course.IMG_3443

Aside from a challenging course, what I like is that the club is only an hour from my house. I try keeping driving  time for local competition less than 2 hours one way. Spending four hours on the road then adding three to four hours at a range makes for a long day. A one hour drive is very reasonable. Heck, from my house it’s 30 minutes to reach a major intersection.  By major intersection, a country road that interests a state highway.

Driving to the shoot it rained non-stop. The rain continued for a bit once we (River, my dog made the trip)  reached our destination, but stopped pretty much as the forecast had predicted. The rest of the day was beautiful.

IMG_3449

The folks that had come early to shoot had rushed off the range to take cover from the rain and were headed back on course as I approached registration. Patrick and Leon, two guys I’d shot with in the past, were in the clubhouse as I signed in. Leon invited me to shoot with them. We had a trio.

IMG_3441
Leon at the stake while Patrick watches

On the range, the sounds of arrows zipping through the trees attested to the complex nature of the targets. The archers shooting in the Pro Class weren’t missing targets. But, all the pros I talked with had at least one 8.

This course hurt me the last time I shot it. Tis try was better by 14 points, but still 1.48 points per target below my average. Back at the clubhouse I heard that one fellow was 6 up and another 2 up and they were still shooting.

IMG_3444

It’s nice to show -up solo for a shoot and find people to shoot with that aren’t strangers. Shooting with Leon and Patrick made for a fun afternoon even if I got more than a fair share of 8’s.

When I got  home there was still time to get in a bike ride. River, also glad to be home went for a swim while I rode. It’s hard to beat days like this that closed on a high note dinner of fresh baked biscuits and venison chili.

IMG_3446

All Day Playing Outside

Yesterday, Tuesday March 24, the weather was slightly warmer and the wind slightly less. It was a pleasant day for being outside and I took full advantage.

IMG_3377

Up before sunrise I took my coffee and walked out onto the dock. As the sun broke through geese that have become permanent residents honked past, a few ducks swam by and eagles pasted overhead. Sunrise on the water is a great part of any day.

After breakfast, River and I headed out for a run. Friends naturally, greeted her and one followed us home in search of a cookie.

IMG_3388
“Cookie, cookie, cookie” – River’s rather crazy friend

Cookies provided and dogs gone, I took my bow out for practice. The wind was blowing with a bit more force with occasional gusts to 15 mph ( 24 kph) and a rather constant 10 mph (16 kph) push coming off the water. Aside from 3D events, which are often protected from the wind being held in forested areas, I’ve never shot an outdoor competition. With all the practice I’ve had shooting outside and dealing with wind I should find a field archery tournament and give it a try.

After morning practice I was able to get in a decent ride on one of my bikes. This one was a retro steel frame Peugeot that covered the bumpy country rides like a luxury car.

Back with plenty of time for afternoon shooting I took a foam deer and moved it around in the woods to get various shots at unknown distances and have some protection for the afternoon wind.

IMG_3396
This deer is out there a ways
IMG_3396 - Version 2
There he is…

It was another nice day for playing outside. I got to shoot, run and ride – my kind of day. It was followed by a good night’s sleep.

No archery today, but there was cycling

Friday was a rainy day until around 2 PM. Then there was break in the weather. It happened to be a rest day from archery. But, cycling was still on the menu.

IMG_3349
At least it has stopped raining

I wanted to ride a steel bike. I have two steel frame bikes, a Peugeot and a 3Rensho. Yes, that is correct a 3Rensho. The 3Rensho it is a track bike, meaning single speed and brakeless, intended for racing on a Velodrome. The Peugeot is an old retro frame rebuild in the 1970’s fashion including down tube shifters. Most of today’s racing bikes are aluminum or carbon fiber although it is still possible to get a really nice steel frame.

IMG_3343
Not riding this today, but man it is one nice bike

The last time I rode my Peugeot I got a flat. I wasn’t able to recall whether I’d replaced the tube. After I filled the tires with air the answer presented itself – I’d not changed the tube. I spent 30 minutes trying to get the tire off the Rolf rim and only succeeded in breaking my tire tool. That wheel will be going to Cycle Gallery and Fitness in Elizabeth City where the experts may have better luck. I changed bikes and took the LiteSpeed for a spin.

IMG_3345
There is a bit of history behind this Nalini jersey. Vincenzo Mantovani who’d won a silver medal in the 1964 Olympics for the team Pursuit started the company. I got the jersey while racing in Florence at the Cicli Sergio Bianchi shop around 1999. The jersey is as good as new.

There are few forms of exercise I enjoy as much as cycling. It is a great way to enjoy a lot of scenery while blowing cobwebs out of muscles and brains. Even though I didn’t get to ride a steel frame, titanium is a close second for providing a smooth ride.

IMG_3348
Local swamps are over flowing thanks to the rain

Some differences between city life and country living

Living in a city is okay. I’d done it and found it enjoyable. Living in the country is good as well. There are obvious differences.

When I write that I’ve lived in a city I mean in the heart of the city. When I lived in Atlanta I was near Buford Highway, inside the parameter, but in 1976 not the center. Later, living in Kennesaw, GA it was a little like living in the country, however, by the time I lived there, mid 90’s, Kennesaw was the suburbs for Atlanta. A good example of the heart of a city was when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. There I lived at 12th and Euclid, pretty much the SA Node of the city.

home-photo-process-sc743x326-t1287444852
Hertford, NC

When I write that I live in the country I don’t mean suburbs. From my home in North Carolina, the closest town, Hertford, is 14 miles away. Hertford has a population of 2176, about that of a large apartment complex in Atlanta.

City life was fun. There was always something to see and do. If you don’t mind crowds and have patience with traffic it’s a good life. Riding a bicycle can be a challenge, but there is always a path to follow. Shooting a bow means an indoor range or driving to a club outside the city limits. IMG_3334

In the country there is also a lot to see and do. The scenery and activities are different from a city. Riding a bicycle is easier – there are a lot less cars. In fact, during my ride of 20 miles yesterday only 2 cars and one truck passed me.

Another country life advantage is that if I want to shoot all I need do is step out of my front door. In fact, I can shoot from my front porch at two sets of targets. It certainly makes practice convenient. Other unique advantages to where I live is I can fish and crab from my bulkhead or off my dock. And, if inclined, I can hunt from a tree stand after a 4-minute walk from my house into the woods.

IMG_3321

The down side is if we need anything that has to be purchased I’m making a long drive in the truck or car. Despite this very slight inconvenience, I find living in the country is generally better. If I need to get back to a city, I’ll make the drive knowing I’ll be back in the woods or on the river momentarily.

IMG_3335

Éirinn go brách

It was practically hot this St. Patrick’s Day, 80° F (27°C). It felt great and I was outside all day. This is a summary of my play.

It started with an hour and a half of shooting a 3D deer from 20 to 50 yards distance. Afterwards I wrote for a bit, had lunch, and then napped under several large oak trees in my yard. Following my break I checked my email for directions to this weekend’s 3D tournament, which had arrived. A nice surprise among my email was a message letting me know how much I’d won in last week’s competition. Not a lot of money but better than a sharp stick in the eye.

IMG_0278

Then it was time to go kayaking. Brenda, my wife, and I paddled from our house several miles up river. We paddled into the wind going out so we’d have a tail wind coming home. In the smaller creeks that are bordered by trees wind isn’t a factor. Out on the Little River, the wind can kick up waves. In fact, on the trip home we had small waves as the wind had begun to increase. The waves weren’t high enough to surf a kayak but definitely sufficient for bit of a lift and push.

IMG_0265

Once the kayaks were stored I headed out on my bike. I only rode 20 miles since the kayaking had eaten into my cycling time.

IMG_3317

Cycling merged into my afternoon archery session and I practiced for another hour before heading back to the river to toss toys for River, my lab, to retrieve.

IMG_0247

The day wound down with a dinner of corn beef and cabbage, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for our family. Éirinn go brách

images

 

Training Cold Hold

The morning plan was a short 40-minute run then archery practice on a 3-spot. This is a light week on my training schedule. One look outside and confirmation of the temperature altered the plan.

IMG_0275
Light snow in eastern NC

A native Savannahian, and despite having lived and worked in very cold places, cold still hurts. While living in Cleveland I ran and rode my bike year round. I did the same in Pittsburgh. In prior years I’ve run during the coldest months in Boston, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Uppsala, Sweden. I’ve headed out for a snowy run in Nagano, Japan, Alta, Utah and ran the Tokyo Marathon is freezing rain. But, I’ve never really enjoyed the cold. As a matter of fact, I don’t like cold.

IMG_0223
Wind on the Albemarle Sound kicking up white caps

There are a lot of folks that seem to enjoy cold and snow. Great for them. Exclude me from that crowd. When I looked at the temperature and the white caps from wind blowing across the Sound I made a deep-rooted Southern blooded decision and didn’t head out for a run. Shooting can wait until it warms up.

My arctic loving brethren scoff at 19°F (-7°C) and laugh at gale force winter wind. The light dusting of snow across the Tar Heel State is a joke to the Patriots of Boston. My Viking friends consider the current weather here in North Carolina excellent for short pants and t-shirts. Well, all I can say is, “Bless their hearts.”

IMG_0188
Nope, not for me anymore.

Living as far away as I do from an indoor gym means no easy access to a treadmill. It also means there is no indoor range on which to practice archery. Days like this become recovery days and I amend my training programs. I, also, look ahead to the continued cold in the forecast and make plans to temporarily move further South. I’ll be back in Georgia in just a few days to face a wintery warmth of 68°F (20°C).

IMG_0157
December on the Big Island of Hawaii. Works for me.

 

One Percentage Point

In the past, I’ve mentioned keeping records of my shooting. I keep scores, where I trained or competed, the bow, arrows, tips and other bits of data. The other data often includes physiological and nutritional data. The physiological and nutritional data remains a bit too sparse to draw conclusions. The equipment data is more enlightening.

One of the most frequent paper targets I shoot is a 5-spot. The data on this target spans twelve months, January 2014 until January 2015. The earlier data scores are lower than the scores recorded later in the year. There is a clear progression of improving scores. However, the improvement is not statically significant.

IMG_2927
Morning practice target

Statistical significant is important when determining whether or not a test method difference is meaningful. In sports, data that isn’t statistically significant doesn’t mean that something important has or has not occurred.

A great example are data that were collected during my cycling career. For months I repeated a 10-mile time trial to measure the effect of a training technique. The data wasn’t statistically significant. The improvement in time to complete the trial was a major improvement – about 2 minutes. Two minutes could be the difference between 1st place and 10th place.

In archery, the data collected revealed that over the course of the year I had a 6% improvement in my scores, which leveled out after a few months. What is interesting is that over the second half of the year, my average is a 1% below a consistent 300 (100%), or an average score of 298. Is it me, or is it the equipment?

Scoring a 300 every time I practice on a 5-spot isn’t likely. Still, improving my 5-spot average is possible. So, where do I make minor improvements that can defeat one or two poorly placed shots?

There are little adjustments that must be made in the physiological (form) of my shooting. These seem somewhat apparent when I lose form. In the meantime is there anything else missing?

In all sports, there is the equipment. In cycling there was a time I competed on a mid-level racing bike. Not the best bike and certainly not the worst. Then, I was given a bike that had been ridden by one of the professional cyclists in the Tour de France. Not a replica, the very same bike ridden by Rodolfo Massi before he was disqualified for using performance-enhancing drugs. When I rode the bike, it was nearly 3 pounds lighter than my previous one; it felt like I was cheating. I wasn’t taking performance-enhancing drugs, but in this case, the change in my equipment was significant, especially during climbs.

In archery very minor adjustments have an impact. My bow is a Mathews Apex 7, a bow with a good track record in tournaments. My sight is a top end Axcel with a high end SA Scope. My release is a Scott Pro Advantage. My arrow rest is a mid-range model that has raised eyebrows and earned questions.

Thus far I have been fairly pleased with the arrow rest barring a time or two when it didn’t drop and once when it broke. But, a bow technician asked way did I have such nice equipment and still used a mid-range rest. Does my rest account for a very slight variance in accuracy?

If it does, that occurrence might only happen less than 1% of the time. Maybe it is that 1% of time when a very slight “arrow rest” variance led to a less than perfect shot. If so, maybe it accounts for the 1% gap recorded from my average to perfection. (I do occasionally shot a 300)

In practice today, I used my mid-range arrow rest. I shot a 5-spot for training this morning. Later, today I’ll work on yardage. Later this week, I’ll investigate changing my arrow rest to a top end model. Today, I shot a 298. The lessor shots where entirely not the fault of the arrow rest.

Out on the mountain bike

Aside from shooting and hunting I spend a lot of time running, swimming and riding a bike. I really should spend more time lifting weights – I get to the gym about once a week. If the weights were outside I might lift them more often. During gym workouts I stare outside and think I’d rather be there. This morning, the rain eased so I headed out on my mountain bike.

IMG_2745
I won’t be sporting these shoes during a 3D shoot.

The plan was to take an “adventure” ride. Those are rides where I set out to investigate trails I’ve not ridden. The area where I rode wasn’t a site where I could get lost. I could get off course and I did a few times, but I never got lost.

IMG_2735

What I wanted to do was find a trail that would get me through the woods to the water at the end of the little peninsula where we live when we’re in Georgia. The ride crisscrossed dirt roads, hard pack, deer trails, and bona fide paved roads.

The journey lasted just under two hours. I found many dead ends that required me to back track. The deer trails were thorny at times and muddy all the time. Eventually, I made it to land’s end and was rewarded with a spectacular view.

IMG_2737

Heading back I met Brenda driving down a dirt and gravel road.   She had mistakenly thought I’d taken River, my dog, with me. Inviting River run me with while I ride is okay for shorter trips. But, for a long unplanned trip, she stays home. River was missing which caused Brenda to become concerned. Actually, River had hidden on a very comfortable cot and was snoozing.

IMG_2736
One of many dead ends

I woke her up when I got home. Then, we both took off for another ride, this time a shorter one where she could go and investigate. The accumulated trips took close to three hours. It felt great.

IMG_2747
I really wanted to buy this property – it sold before I could make an offer