Great bungee inline technique

After a lot of punishment to my back last summer prior to my expedition, I was getting tired of having expensive bungees wear out, get snagged, and crank on my body.

After research and seeing what other people have done, I cut this little video to show how the bungee is actually integrated with the line, cutting the hard edge of having the rope hit you.  It’s easy to do.

For those towing tires or sleds for cardio and leg training, this is a great way kick your butt and get it in shape.  And, you won’t hurt your back from rope shock in the process.

Specialized HP floor pump with Switch Hitter II head

Alright, I thought I was pretty competent with bike floor pumps.  Until last night.  It was

Specialized HP floor pump
Specialized HP floor pump

rather embarrassing, really.  My Blackburn pump has served me well for the better part of a decade but it’s a 1,000 miles away from me right now.  So, a new pump was in order.

The Specialized HP floor pump looked to fit the bill.  It is almost all aluminum construction, so it looks like it will last.  And the parts are replaceable.  Good enough.  And Hoback Sports in Jackson Hole was having their 15% off sale, so I couldn’t resist.  The pump head is supposed to support both Presta and Schrader valves without any selection, adjustment or fiddling with adapters.  Great!

Except when I went to pump up a tire and nearly flattened it trying to connect the pump to the Presta valve on my Specialized Allez Elite.  And, this was at 10:30pm at night.  As an engineer, leaving a problem unsolved is an anathema to me.

So, I web surfed madly and found only this page describing the procedure for attaching the pump.  Immediately I tried reconnecting the pump and, surprise, it worked as advertised.  It was merely a matter of being too tentative attaching the Schrader valve to the Switch Hitter II pump head.

As it seems other people run into the same problem or complain about the complete lack of instructions for these floor pumps, I decided to make a short video explaining how to use the Specialized HP floor pump.  As I’m a cinematographer, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

After a morning of shooting, foley work, color grading, and editing, I now have a video that will (hopefully) help others in the future.  I certainly didn’t want to return to Hoback Sports and ask how to use this $50 pump.  Death before the embarrassment of admitting ignorance in this case.

The video does not show screwing back down the nut on the Presta valve nor replacing the dust cap.  Make sure to do this!

Getting somewhere in rough conditions

Tire footprint at 7.5 PSI
Tire footprint at 7.5 PSI

Several years ago, I made a study of tire surface area versus inflation pressure.  This information was most helpful when driving in sand and in extreme off-road conditions.  Many times my brother, his family and I went out to the southern California desert to roam and drive around.  It was a good time.  More than once, I pulled someone out in either a 2-by or who hadn’t reduced their tire pressure to something that would work in sand.

My short article on tire inflation actually shows the tire footprint relative to the inflation pressure.  This graphically shows how different the footprint can be.

This article here by Harry Lewellyn is a more complete mini-tretise on why reducing tire pressure works.

Tacoma grill
2013 Tacoma grill

Granted, I’ve never taken my 2005 Tacoma up Elephant Hill in Utah.  That would have been an ultimate test of tire inflation vs grip.  It’s a notorious vehicle wrecker.  As I walked up, I could see serious scrape marks on the rocks with lots of drained oil or other vehicle fluids.  I’ll stick with simple sand driving and medium off-roading.

Add rocks

To make towing up the mountain more difficult, I’ve added 8lbs of rocks to my tire. I was afraid it was getting too easy.

The rocks are a nice addition for the psychological component as well. The first time I had them in there, I wanted to throw in the towel. The drag force was strong enough that I could still flex my legs to pull, yet not so much that the only thing to do was to lean forward and hope it slid. It was just right.

These rocks allow me to regulate the difficulty both going uphill and downhill. I can make going downhill more difficult than having an empty tire going uphill.


Smoothing out the towing

After training for several months for an expedition to Yellowstone, I’ve been searching

Bungee elastic in trace to harness
Bungee elastic in trace to harness

 around for how others have changed the shock of dragging a tire or a sled.  As the rope pulls taught, the lower back and hips take the impact of the full weight of the sled or tire I’m towing.

This makes you a little tougher but over mutliple days, it’ll kill your back.

Enter bungees. Continue reading “Smoothing out the towing”

Posted even better time

Slogging up the side of San Jacinto did have an immediate impact. I was able to get my standard tire towing route under 28 minutes. That’s a first! I was able to push much harder and feel my muscles strain to pull but I didn’t flame out like I would have last month.
There’s still the balance to be had of keeping injury-free while improving in performance every time.

Upgrading the workout routine

After a recovery run this morning to the top of Tamarack, my hamstring started to feel better.  Once I got home, I did the un-manly thing and implemented a stretching routine.  After surfing the web for a whopping 2 minutes, I found a combination I liked.

Quadricep and groin muscle

Shoulders and back (beginning) – I found the quad stretch isn’t nearly as good in her video as the still pix link above.

Calf and hamstring (after 5:17)

Gluteus maximus

And to my great surprise, I was felt much better than I expected.  It might be a duh moment for some but the difference was incredible for me.  I’ll now be doing this routine after each run, ride and tyre pull.

Tyre training modification

After half-wasting another chain into metal dust, I carved a hole in the old tire with a 1/2″ drill bit. After a couple of cuts, I was able to punch through a link to the outside of the tire. Now I can either use the tire in difficult or less difficult mode.

To make the change between modes, I flip the chain around from being mounted high on the tread or low. If low, life is easier because I’m lifting up on the tire when dragging. For difficult, the tire is pulled straight if not slightly down, dramatically increasing the pulling force required to move the tire.

30 minute tire drag.  I’ve also begun logging my training in an Excel worksheet, as I have yet to find a good WordPress widget to track workouts with.