Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking Trip report

Kekoa and I visited Emigrant Wilderness over Labor Day weekend. We started out at Crabtree Trail head, visited Chewing Gum Lake, Y Meadow Lake, Upper Wire Lake (and Middle Wire Lake and Lower Wire Lake), and even more lakes, but you'd have to read the trip report to find out :)

Trip report linked here!

It was fun trip!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bike fit by Ari at Bespoke Cycles (Review)

This post will not be interesting to anyone not interested in biking :-)

I've been road biking for about 2 years, and since the beginning - I've had a lot of neck/shoulder pain, and right knee pain on longer rides. After trying multiple things, reading about optimal bike fit (and since I'm considering purchasing a new custom built frame), I finally decided to get a bike fit by someone more knowledgeable.

Ari at Bespoke Cycle was recommended by a few sources (and they also do custom Seven frames, a builder I'm considering), so I made an appt with them. The fit first started out by Ari and I just talking about my history, and things I'm concerned about, and also what I want from a bike in general.

First off, Ari spent a long time looking at my feet and doing cleat adjustments. Apparently I have somewhat of a hammer toe on my right foot. He also mentioned that my toes need a bit of stretching, as they have a tendency to curl up. Also, it turns out I have quite high arches, and that the insoles (superfeet green) I were using weren't even high enough to support them. He moved my cleats back quite a bit, to help relieve the pressure points on the balls of my feet.

After that, Ari had me stand up and tested my flexibility. He immediately pointed out that my leg length was not equal when standing still. Apparently my left leg has a tendency to collapse and become shorter and my right leg needs to hyper extend to compensate for this. This can apparently be the cause of my right knee pain!!! I have some options in front of me: shimming my shoes, seeing a sports doctor to get to the bottom of this, and trying better insoles. The good news is I have some hope in figuring this out once and for all. I've had right knee pain for the last few years, and have given up running because of it. I've had *two* other doctors look at this and have gotten an MRI, and they never mentioned this leg length discrepancy. Hopefully this means, if I can get this all figured out, that running will be in the cards again.

Now it's finally for time on the bike! The fitting uses this Retul fitting system and also a power measurement system that I can't remember the name of. I learned a few interesting things from this part.
- my saddle fore/aft was completely off, this moved ~1.5cm (forward)!!!
- my legs aren't working 50/50 efficiency when it comes to my pedal stroke (my "shorter" leg is actually working more)
- I hyper extend my ankles too much, and this actually leads to a loss of power as I'm trying to extend my ankles and then have to pull my heel back up
- my positioning isn't the best, I'm tilting my hips backwards too much and slouching way too much
- my frame is somewhere between 0.9 inches - 1.9 inches too big for me (and probably the main cause for my upper body pain)
- stiff aluminium frames aren't for me
- I need to stop scooting back on the saddle to get more extension in my legs, as this also screws with power output
- I need to do more stability exercises, and my VMO (inner knee) muscle is still quite weak
- I should do more core work :)

All in all, this was WAY worth the money spent. Ari spent about 3 hours with me, and also explained a bit of the options we could do if I decided to get a custom frame. I was really impressed by the fact that he seemed to take into account that one of my main concerned was *comfort* (as I've heard sometimes a lot of fit folks focus on maximum power and not comfort). I went for a ride yesterday in this new position, overall it'll take some getting used to. We'll see after a few rides how this all pans all!

The Cube: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Bestselling Puzzle - Secrets, Stories, Solutions (Review)

One of the last BANGs had a Rubik's cube puzzle in it. After that, I decided it would be cool to try and learn how to solve one. At the same BANG, someone mentioned that Wei-Hwa co-authored a book on this particular subject, so I decided to read said book.

For my purposes, The Cube: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Bestselling Puzzle - Secrets, Stories, Solutions was great. It didn't take too much reading to figure out how to solve the cube following the steps in the book. There were lots of pictures with colors and the text was good enough to figure out which way you have to orient the cube while twisting it around. Note, I'm not very good at the whole "spatial" thing, so being able to stare at the pictures to figure out how to twist the darn thing was key. One gripe I do have - the authors decided to use some rare colors (pink, cyan, ...) such that the readers wouldn't get confused if their cube had similar colors. Unfortunately, there were still times where I got confused by the colors in the book. Some of the moves in the book are easy to remember, some of them, not so much. My goal is to be able to solve a cube without having to refer to the book in the future. We'll see how much work I'm willing to put into this :-)

The history part and the descriptions of the other cube-like-puzzles sections were pretty fun too, lots of pictures. I found a few things that I played with when I was a kid. Since the book also includes directions on how to solve a 4x4x4 cube... of course now I want to get my paws on one so I can attempt it.