Bike Trials Group Ride – Colonel Ledyard Park – April 21, 2022

This week we’re back again at Colonel Ledyard Park, but this time with a bigger crew: seven riders, if I counted correctly. It was a windy afternoon, but fortunately the breeze kept away the annoying gnats that always gravitate to your eyes, nose, and ears while you’re trying to ride.

Fortunately, this week I finally decided to add a DIY windscreen to my GoPro microphone (perfect timing!). Apparently it works because you can barely hear the wind in the video. I’ll be putting it to the test a bit more in the coming weeks; hopefully it significantly improves the audio.

Bike Trials Group Ride – Hidden Pond – April 14, 2022

Thursday’s forecast predicted rain; however, the rain held off until evening, yielding a surprisingly sunny, warm afternoon. We also had a pretty good rider turnout with skill levels ranging from beginner to expert. The group dynamic didn’t disappoint, with plenty of grab-assing, good-natured ribbing, and witty banter.

The group sessioned several different lines along the trails, yet barely scratched the surface of the number of good riding spots here. Mother Nature didn’t hold back on the boulders in this park.

The edit closes with a big old pile of outtakes. Make sure you have the audio turned up – some of the chatter is pretty hilarious.

Trials Biking Group Ride – Colonel Ledyard Park – April 5, 2022

Once again Thursday threatened rain, so the group ride was temporarily moved back to Tuesday… and back again to Colonel Ledyard Park. The weather was mild, sunny, and dry – perfect for a trials ride!

Last week was the Jim and Scott show; this week we had Ryan, Tony, and Jereme. Same park as last Thursday, but different lines, different skill levels, and different riding strengths and styles.

Trials Biking Group Ride – Double Header – March 29 & 31, 2022

Jim rolls up onto a slippery rock

This week’s group ride started on Tuesday with a break on Wednesday and finished on Thursday. Due to weather, work, injuries, and other logistical challenges, Jim and Scott were the only riders that showed up with their bikes on both days. Tuesday was absolutely beautiful, sunny, warm, and clear. Thursday was a completely different story with fog and rain all morning, but clearing somewhat to offer a windy, overcast afternoon. While the rain held off during the ride, the rocks (and everything else) were still pretty slippery.

Despite the meager turnout, we had a good time both days. Tony even showed up Thursday (with his rake, but no bike) to hang out with us so that he and I could cheer and jeer while Jim and Scott threw themselves at a variety of obstacles. Being on the trials bike is certainly my preference versus being sidelined with an injury, but the camaraderie we enjoy during the group rides really is the secret ingredient.

Testing Camera Mounts on My Trials Bike: Unique Video Perspectives

Since my arm injury seems to be actually getting worse lately, I can’t really ride ‘real’ trials lines and moves, so I’ve been trying to be more creative – both in my riding and my video production. Here’s a short video I made primarily to test a couple GoPro camera mounts as well as to see whether they give interesting camera angles to consider for future edits.

Despite the fact that I really didn’t do any big moves, I think the result was fairly interesting. Once I heal up and can ride ‘normally’ again, I’d like to try some of these angles on some bigger moves like gaps and drops on some rocks.

I made a YouTube version (below) and a shorter Instagram version (scroll down).

Trials Biking: Simple Balance Practice at Home – March 20, 2022

As I continue to recuperate from by tendon injury, I have been looking for simple yet fun practice sessions that I can do without causing ongoing pain for days following my rides. My practice session on Sunday began with the goal of just practicing trackstands on a beam. Soon I added a pallet. Then I added a number of different nuances to the line to make it more fun and interesting. With something as simple as a board and a pallet, there is actually quite a bit that you can do. It’s one of the great things about bike trials: you can do it anywhere and ride anything.

Trials Biking – Practicing Skinnies at Home – March 13, 2022

Up and over the boat trailer

Since my injured arm is still angry at me from the (small) lunges, gaps, and drops I did during Tuesday’s group ride, I figured today I’d take it really easy. Though apparently, it still wasn’t easy enough: My arm was still tender from Tuesday’s ride, and was even more cranky after today’s. I’m trying to find the right balance between actually doing basic trials without making the tendon injury take forever to heal. As badly as I miss riding, I surely don’t want to re-injure it and end out being off the bike all spring and summer.

So, today was pretty much just a couple skinny lines. Nothing crazy, just practicing basics.

Bike Trials Group Ride – Glacial Park – March 8, 2022

My first time on the trials bike for a group ride in 3 months. Taking it really easy since my tendon injury isn’t fully healed yet.

Due to schedule challenges from work, winter weather, physical therapy, and probably some other stuff, it’s been about a month since I’ve been able to get out for a bike trials group ride. The tendon injury in my arm is still far from healed, though it’s definitely improving – enough that my physical therapist gave the ok to try some (gentle!) trials biking again. Since I definitely want this arm to heal as quickly as possible, I took it pretty easy on this week’s ride… thought it’s still sore 2 days later. Sigh…

Even though it’s only been about 3 months since my injury, riding the bike felt somewhat foreign. It took a bit to get down the timing and muscle memory. Having said that, I really didn’t ride much since I didn’t want to overdo it and end up missing out even more of the upcoming season. I think I rode only 4-5 simple lines (one of which you won’t see in the edit because I’m an idiot and didn’t press the record button). Despite the challenges and the pain, it was good to be back on my bike.

As usual, Glacial Park didn’t disappoint, with its endless supply of rocks and trials lines. And of course being with the trials crew is always a blast!

Owning Your Life

Card that states, "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Kurt Cobain
Photo by Annie Spratt from Pexels

As I was skimming through my newsfeeds today (yes, I still us an RSS reader), I came across an article title that reached out and grabbed me: ‘Most of Us Look for Ways to Feel Offended’: How to Break Out of Toxic Patterns and Start Living. What caught my eye was the first part, since too often I have noticed exactly that: often people seem like their trying to be offended.

Interestingly, I had a discussion just today with a colleague who was put off by the manner and tone an individual was using to provide valuable insights during a teleconference. I had previous interactions with the individual who was providing the feedback, so I understood that right or wrong, that was his style. I told my colleague that the person was providing valuable feedback, probably earned through some painful lessons, despite the somewhat tactless approach he used to convey his points.

One of the reasons I’m able to work with just about anybody, is that I realized that everyone has their own set of ‘filters’ through which they experience the world. These filters not only bias the way in which people perceive the world, but also the way the interact with it, including with other people. Additionally, not everyone has learned how to communicate effectively. Top it all off with individual quirks, some more pronounced that others, and you can get some rather interesting interactions.

I’ve found that the trick is to separate the personality from the message. While some people are utterly toxic, others just have certain idiosyncrasies to their approach. Once you understand a person’s style, even if you don’t particularly like it, you can still work with them effectively. Maybe you don’t want to invite them over for dinner, but at least you can interact with them and not get all bent out of shape. Another key is to realize that most of the time, it’s never about you – even if the person you have to deal with is somewhat obnoxious. Finally, it’s just not worth the energy to get all bent out of shape over someone’s personality, particularly is you have to work with them (of course harassment, bullying, threatening, etc. is never acceptable, but that’s a different story altogether).

The part of the title that mentioned being easily offended is why I clicked the link, but that was only one little piece of the article; the author offers 7 additional maxims that amount to the fact that you need to ‘own’ your own life, control what is within your control, and don’t cede control to other people or things you cannot change. I highly recommend reading the entire article, and really reflecting honestly on the 8 points. They are proven concepts that increase the likelihood of living a happier, more fulfilling life.

“Everything we think, say and do in life is a choice. Regardless of what’s happening to us, we always have a choice in how we respond, and when we leave our focus and energy there, we find ways to win and succeed.”

Amy M Chambers 

Bike Trials Group Ride – UCONN Avery Point – February 8, 2022

Trials bike rider rear-wheel hopping on rocks with a lighthouse in the background
Alex battles a strong offshore wind

We had some rain this week and there’s still some snow on the ground. It even rained Tuesday morning, but it cleared up, resulting in gorgeous afternoon. When I left work, it was sunny and mild, with barely a cloud in sight. By the time I arrived at the UCONN Avery Point campus, the cloud cover had increased significantly and the wind was howling! But what’s a little wind when you’re trying to balance on a trials bike…

Despite the chilling breeze, had a pretty decent turnout and a fun ride. We managed to ride some locations on campus that we’d never ridden before (at least not when I’ve been there). While I do like the typical spots we always ride around campus, mixing things up a bit adds an interesting variety. That and it lets the advanced riders tackle more challenging lines. All good stuff to present a more interesting edit, of course.

It wasn’t until I started editing this week’s video that I realized I need a windscreen for my GoPro. In some shots, the audio is just terrible due to the howling wind coming off Long Island Sound. Oh well. Now I know: gotta have a windscreen over the microphone.