Archive for August, 2011
I’ve got some pretty exciting news: I bought a new bike this week!
I started cycling with the Quincy Bicycle Club back in March and have quickly become addicted to the sport. I’ve made so many friends and learned so much about cycling this summer. It’s just been wonderful. It occurs to me, though, that I got lucky with my first bike purchase. A friend had one for sale, and it just happened to be a good fit for me. At the time though, I didn’t know enough about road bikes to make an educated purchase. It can be pretty intimidating to shop for a bicycle, and being an informed buyer and getting a bike that fits your needs will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the sport. So, today I thought I’d write a quick guide to buying a bike that will help you Get Out and experience cycling.
Bikes are like shoes. You’ve got to get the correct fit, or you’re going to be pretty unhappy and sore. There are a lot of elements to finding out the correct size bicycle for your needs, but the main one is frame size. Everyone has different leg/torso/arm measurements, and a knowledgeable bike shop can help you find exactly the right bike for your size. I’m about 5 foot, 5 inches tall, and my fit is a 52 cm bike. My husband is 5 foot, 10 inches, but because he has a longer torso and shorter legs proportionate to me, he only rides a bike that is 2 cm taller than mine. Don’t just depend on a height chart to fit your bike, get measured and find out exactly what size you need.
There are many styles of bike on the market today. Road bikes, hybrids, mountain bikes, race bikes … the list goes on and on. It’s important to determine your goals as a cyclist before you go shopping. For example, I like to bike lots of miles at a medium/fast pace. I’m not a racer trying to go as fast as possible, but I’m also not a “touring” type of rider who wants to sit up straight and keep a slow, easy pace. For me, a Sport Road Bike was the perfect answer. For some riders, the more comfortable upright position and wider tires of a Hybrid Road Bike might be the right style. Some riders are racers, and there are very aggressive bike styles made for speed and agility available, too. Still others are all about getting off road on uneven terrain, and mountain bikes with rugged tires and frames are more appropriate. The point is, knowing what kind of rider you hope to be will help a bike shop determine what style you need to select.
There are four main materials that modern road bike frames can be made of: steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber. Each has advantages and disadvantages in terms of stiffness, weight, durability and price. Steel offers the advantages of being relatively cheep, durable, but is generally a heavier bike. Aluminum bikes are also relatively cost effective and weigh less than steel frames. Aluminum frames can have more of road noise though, so you’ll often see carbon fiber forks on aluminum frames to reduce vibration. Titanium frames are durable, fairly lightweight, but also more expensive. I rode a titanium Litespeed Vortex for my Metric Century, and I was impressed with the relatively low road noise and the responsiveness of the frame to stresses like big hill climbs. Carbon Fiber bikes are the most popular type of bikes for professional riders and serious amateurs alike, and this was the type I selected to purchase. Carbon fiber is very lightweight. In fact, some of the best carbon bikes are under 15 pounds total weight- wheels and all! The frames are stiff and offer a quiet ride. The disadvantages to carbon frames are that they are fairly expensive and that they are somewhat less durable than the other types of frames.
Shifters, Deraillleurs and Cranks, Oh My!
You could definitely write an entire book on selecting components to a bike, but luckily for most recreational riders, you’ve only got a few decisions to make. The most common brands of shifters and derailleurs — derailleurs are the part of the bike drive train that moves your chain from one gear to another — on the market for road bikes are Shimano and Campagnolo. Once you’ve selected your bike brand and frame material, you’ll probably only need to pick a package “level” of components. It’s not as intimidating as it seems. For example, for Shimano packages, there are five main levels: Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Just think of those as entry-level, enthusiast-level, serious-level, race-level and pro-level. My new bike has the “serious-level” 105 package. I’m really happy with this combination of performance and affordability. There are a few options on types of cranks too, and a good bike shop can explain the differences in detail. A quick overview is that there are usually single, double or triple cranks, and the number of cranks and their size determines how many total gears are available on your bike. I got a double-compact crank, which was one of only two options on the bike I selected. I chose this because it was enough gears that I felt like I’d be comfortable on most hills, and it is also lightweight compared to a triple-crank bike.
Which brings me to my last point: Go to a bike shop! It’s just my two cents, but if you really want a great bike that will serve you well for many years, don’t head out to Walmart. I highly recommend Madison-Davis Bicycle Shop at 912 South 8th Street in Quincy. Greg, Carl and Ryan will walk you through each step of selecting the perfect bike for you. They’re an authorized Trek retailer and can service Trek or most other makes of bikes. Trek bikes are made in Wisconsin and buying a quality American made bike from a local small business is great for everyone. Madison-Davis also has all the accessories you might need for your bike — pedals, shoes, flat tire repair kits, helmets, mirrors, computers, kids bikes, tool kits, jerseys and even little bicycle bells. It’s a particularly good time to shop right now because — just like a car dealer — bike shops will be clearing out their 2011 model bikes and getting 2012 models in. It’s a great time to get a good deal.
I hope this quick guide gives you a starting point for shopping for a bicycle of your own. I am extremely happy with the bike I purchased — a 2011 Women’s Specific Design Trek Madone 3.1. It’s a carbon fiber bike with the right combination of components for the way I ride. If you’re interested, you can read all the specifics on my new bike by clicking here. Happy cycling!
The sun really did shine, it was too nice not to play, so we gathered in the field that hot, hot summer day.
I arrived there with Andy, we walked there we two. And I said, “Sweet! Now we have something to do!”
It’s better than checkers, more fun than playing ball, and it beats the heck out of doing nothing at all.
Would you like to know what we were doing and where we were at? We were out playing Frisbee at a tournament called Quincy Hat!
It was held just last weekend in the field by a school — and all 30 players were awfully cool.
The tournament crew picked our teams from a hat, and we all made a dozen new friends just like that!
I learned some new tricks from the Jacksonville-six, and a few new ways to throw thanks to two from Chicago.
My team was fast on the run, not a person would fall, and we were up four to zip in no time at all.
But the team in the white put up a good fight, and soon they came back to tie — we were locked up five to five!
We won that first game, then we lost a few more, but the fun of the Ultimate Frisbee is not just seen in the score.
The fun of the game and the whole Quincy Hat, is competition and laughing and being where friends are all at!
Next time you should be there! You should find out what Ultimate is about! You can “Get Out” to play and run, jump and shout!
I promise you’ll have lots of good fun, good fun that is funny — on that I’d give my word or I’d bet you big money.
So if you read my story, you’re all finished now, and if you want to “Get Out” and play Frisbee, I’ll help teach you how.
*Quincy’s Ultimate Frisbee pick-up league meets at South Park each Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through the end of September. Last weekend’s tournament was the Third Quincy Hat. Find more information on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Quincy-IL-Ultimate-Frisbee-League/205264693260?ref=ts
You may enter the challenge with either two- or four-person teams. There are male, female or co-ed categories. The course will consist of basic orienteering, running, mountain biking, a 40-foot climbing/rappelling tower, a 350-foot zip line, and a canoe race.
The Physically Strong Challenge will benefit local scouting programs and is designed to promote healthy living. Even the name of the event comes from scouting. In the Boy Scout Oath, members pledge to be “physically strong.”
There will be a pre-race meeting at the Saukenauk Scout Reservation on Oct. 14 that is mandatory for participants. Campsites at the scout camp will be available for those that would like to stay over the night of Oct. 14.
To find out more information, visit www.mississippivalleybsa.org/AdventureRace.aspx or register online at http://www.mississippivalleybsa.org/AdventureRace/Register. The cost to participate is $90 per person if you sign up prior to Oct. 1, or $100 per person if you sign up after that date.
I’d been nervous about the ride all week. One hundred kilometers — equal to 62.2 miles — is known in the cycling world as a Metric Century, and it would be my longest single ride ever. The route was designed for the “Friends of the Trail Fun’d Ride”, which is this Saturday, Aug. 20, but I had a prior commitment, so a few weeks ago I asked fellow Quincy Bicycle Club Member Jim Cate if he would pre-ride the route with me. He accepted the invitation, so at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, we left Bob Mays Park with the goal of a safe and successful 100-kilometer ride.
Jim Cate is something of a biking legend in Quincy. He will be 73 years old in a couple of weeks, and he cycles with enthusiasm and endurance that riders decades his junior can rarely emulate. He and his wife Phyllis — a great cyclist herself — can be seen around Quincy each Thursday night riding their tandem bike along with the Quincy Bicycle Club Pedal Pushers group.
For me, Jim has become a coach and a mentor. When we ride, he’ll share little tips: Shift smoothly and think ahead. Use your “spinning gears” on big climbs rather than muscling it out in a tough one so that you can conserve energy. Keep your feet even and your head down on downhill sections to reduce wind resistance. Don’t look at the wheel of the rider in front of you when you’re drafting — you’ll be able to hit the break instinctively when they break if you watch their back instead.
He coaches quietly and gently, but you can tell that he speaks with the authority that comes with years of experience. When he is trying to teach you something, you should definitely listen up.
We left the park Sunday morning and headed up Koch’s Lane. With the entirety of 63-plus miles sitting out in front of me, I briefly had a moment of doubt. But then I thought of something Ultra Marathon Runner and friend Jared Busen said to me recently, “It’s about not quitting … it’s about continual forward progress.” So I regained my focus and didn’t think about 63 miles. Instead I thought, “All I’ve got to do is the bit of road right in front of me and keep making forward progress. The miles will do themselves.”
The morning was gorgeous, and it really wasn’t hard to ignore the miles in the beginning. Jim and I were dashing along at a pace of around 15 miles per hour, and we’d eaten up the 17 miles of pavement between Quincy and Payson in no time at all. We stopped at the Fast Stop gas station there to check the map and have a quick granola bar, and then we were off to tackle the next 25-mile section.
I had already ridden part of this section before. One of the favorite routes of the Quincy Bike Club is Quincy to ride to Mike’s Place Restaurant in Liberty for breakfast, so the road was familiar. There’s a downhill on Highway 96, on which I reached my highest speed ever — 36 mph — and immediately following that is the first tough climb of the 100-kilometer route. It wasn’t too bad though, and once we got to the top, we went right back to chatting and knocking out miles. I had a nice time telling Jim about every bird we saw on the route, and Jim told me a bit more about the two bikes we were riding — the Trek Madone he was on and the Litespeed Vortex I had borrowed from him for this trip.
Much to my surprise, when we arrived at Mike’s Place in Liberty, a big group of other Quincy Bicycle Club riders were already there. It seems pretty peculiar to see twenty high-end bikes sitting outside a little diner in rural Illinois and to walk in and see their spandex-clad riders munching short-stacks of pancakes, but that’s the club for you. The riders greeted us as we walked in, and Jim explained that I was working on my first Metric Century. They all offered their encouragement, and I felt really good about my chances of finishing my ride. As we were leaving, one of the club riders asked Jim where the rest of our route went, and I should have known by the solemn nod the rider gave me that the route was going to get a lot tougher.
The midmorning saw a change in the weather, and the wind picked up to 10 or 15 mph from the North Northeast. The next set of directions had us doing three 5-mile sections into the stiff headwind. Wind is the enemy of cycling; it just makes everything difficult. We took turns drafting off each other, but the rolling hills were starting to make my quads burn. We hit a “false flat,” which is where a road looks flat but is actually a low-grade climb, and I had to just put my head down and labor through. I’d say this was the first time I hit a “wall” on the ride. It was just a slog. The wind saw our average speed drop into the 13.6 mph range, but when we turned the corner out of the wind to Highway 104 near Quincy Regional Airport, my spirits lifted and I could practically taste my first Metric completed.
I hadn’t once checked our mileage on the ride for fear that it would just discourage me, but Jim shouted out that we were only 15 miles from the car and I was so happy I could have got off the bike to do a little dance! But then …
Ellington Road. Only 10 miles standing between me and victory, and Ellington Road decides to go into roller-coaster mode. Twelve big climbs in 10 little miles awaited my 53-mile-worn-bones. This Metric had to be earned the hard way.
The hills were painful and slow. I looked at Jim and said, “Well I guess we’re too close to call it quits now!” and tried my best to smile. Jim actually didn’t look all that tired, and he passed me on each climb and — thanks to my heavier body weight — I passed him on each decent. He said, “I usually don’t push people, but I want you to get this. Let’s attack the end of this!”
I don’t know if what I did could be considered a proper hill attack, but we got through them, and when I spotted the familiar corner of 36th and Koch’s Lane, I was so excited that nothing ached at all. We cruised up Koch’s, turned left on 18th and there we were — right back at the car we’d left hours before. I actually took a victory lap around the parking lot. I jumped off and hugged Jim and offered my sincerest thanks for being my coach. He gave me a certificate commemorating my first Metric Century. It was such a proud and joyous moment that I’m grinning while sitting here writing about it. Our official ride time was 4 hours, 49 minutes for a total of 63.8 miles, approximately 102.67 kilometers, at an average of 12.9 mph. I learned a lot about cycling and a lot about myself over that distance. The ride was simply extraordinary.
When I started cycling this spring, I didn’t know if I’d enjoy it or stick with it. Since then, I’ve met such wonderful, passionate people in the Quincy Bicycle Club, that I can’t imagine my life without it. Jim Cate and his wife are both great inspirations for my riding, and each of the members of the club have offered their knowledge, support and encouragement as well. If you’re looking for a way to get active and meet a great group of people, my highest recommendation is to try the Quincy Bicycle Club. All ages and abilities are welcome, and I promise you, you will be delighted you found such a great way to “Get Out.”
*There is still time to sign up for the Friends of the Trails Fun’d Ride this Saturday! Distances of 5, 15, 33, and 64 miles will be available. Click here for details.
This weekend will be a great time to get out and “Tri” something new with the Quincy Multi-Sport Club! The QMC will be hosting a Sprint Triathlon event called “Tri-ing to Help” this Sunday, Aug. 21.
The proceeds from Tri-ing to Help Sprint Triathlon will benefit Camp Callahan. This camp serves children with a wide range of disabilities. It provides specialized equipment and trained staff to make summer camp activities accessible for these special area youths.
Tri-ing to Help Sprint Triathlon will consist of a 400-meter pool swim at Sheridan Swim Club, followed by a 20K (13 mile) bike ride and a 5K (3.1 mile) run. The event is USA Triathlon sanctioned and will feature electronic timing and results. There will also be volunteers including the Quincy Auxiliary Police providing safety support on all of the course’s roads.
You can find out more information by visiting: http://quincymultisportclub.com/triingtohelp.aspx
Read about Camp Callahan here: http://www.campcallahan.com/
Day-of-event registration is also available prior to 7:30 am.
Most of the time when I’m in the great outdoors, the things that are absent are nearly as important as the things that are present. Absent is my iPhone and its email, instant messaging, Facebook and Internet connection. Gone, too, are the radio, the television, the junk in my mailbox and advertisements of all shapes and sizes everywhere I look. And one thing that’s not usually there — which is especially nice considering the state of things — is politics. This week though, I had the opportunity to help guide a kayak tour for the Quincy Bay Area Restoration and Enhancement Association, the Quincy Tourism and Visitor’s Bureau and a special guest, Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon. This time, I was pleased to welcome politics to my adventure.
Simon is a stalwart advocate for the rivers, lakes and streams of Illinois. Last year, her office established the Mississippi River Coordinating Council to address specific needs of the river and its tributaries in regards to environmental protection, flood mitigation, tourism and development and commerce. The Council is also tasked with identifying sources of funding for Mississippi River resource management projects.
Quincy Bay is a unique resource on the Mississippi. Besides providing a sheltered backwater for boating traffic, the bay also has untapped potential for tourism development projects, like Kayak Quincy. It is also an ecologically diverse area that provides vital habitat for wildlife, migrating birds and more. The Bay, however, is in great need of maintenance. Silting — or the process by which sediment fills up previously navigable channels — is one of the main problems facing Quincy Bay. It’s estimated that it will cost around $6 million to dredge the bay and add four feet to its depth. This dredging is crucial to the long-term success of any management plan or development the City of Quincy hopes to have on the riverfront.
Simon explained some of the nuance in river management to me while we paddled our kayaks. “It’s interesting because we often think of rivers as boundaries between counties or states or even countries.” she said. “They often lie in more than one political zone. That makes the coordination of efforts from every level extremely important.”
I was enjoying hearing about plans to help community, state and federal organizations work together on projects like Quincy Bay when our conversation was abruptly interrupted by a large Asian Carp, which launched itself through the air and hit the lieutenant governor’s kayak with a loud thud.
“And… we probably need to invest in the study and management of invasive species too?” I asked, hopefully.
“Yes,” the lieutenant governor, clearly startled by the flying fish, replied. “Yes, we do.”
I don’t know what will come out of our day kayaking with the lieutenant governor. Money is tight at both the state and federal level right now, and it’s hard to say when we might see action to preserve Quincy Bay. I am heartened, however, to have met Ms. Simon. She’s clearly an outdoor enthusiast herself, and she cares deeply for the natural resources of our state. It’s important to remember that it takes passionate people to protect and develop our waterways, state parks and recreational areas, and I am encouraged that we have advocates at all levels of government that are doing their best to address problems facing these assets.
Click to read more about Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and the Mississippi River Coordinating Council. To learn more about Kayak Quincy and to book your own Kayak adventure, click here.
As far as Grecian heroes go, Perseus really has it all. He’s the son of Zeus and Danea; so he’s got the fame. He’s slayed his fair share of monsters, including “snake-for-hair” Medusa; so he’s got the street cred. He rescued the damsel-in-distress Andromeda from a serious sea serpent set upon her by Poseidon; so he’s got the girl. With a resume like this, it’s not surprising that Perseus is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky.
Each summer in Northern latitudes, we are treated to the Persied Meteor shower. These meteors are actually remnants of the tail of a comet named Swift-Tuttle. This comet orbits through our solar system, and its tail debris stretches hundreds of thousands of miles through space. As the comet crosses Earth’s path, bits of rock and ice slam into Earth’s upper atmosphere, and we get to view to some of the most spectacular “shooting stars” in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Persieds began in July, but will be peaking this week. Gazers can expect to see up to 50 meteors per hour in the Northeast sky radiating from the belt of the constellation Perseus. The full peak of the shower will be on Thursday, Aug. 11, around midnight, but there’s a bit of bad news: this year, Aug. 11 is also the night of a full-moon, and this will obscure all but the brightest Persieds. Here are a few tips to view the most meteors in spite of the moonlight:
1. Watch all week — Sure, the meteor shower peaks Thursday, but there will still be lots of streaking debris as the moon begins to wane next week. The best time for viewing with the least amount of moon interference is immediately proceeding dawn. At that time, the moon will set just a bit before the sun rises, so there will be a few minutes of precious dark.
2. Get out of town — City lights of any kind are going to obscure your view, so head out to the country to the darkest spot you can find. I’d suggest camping out at a local State Park and setting an alarm to wake you up in the wee hours of the morning if you really want a great view.
3. Find a moon shadow — The moon will be shining low in the southern skies around dawn this week. If you can find a barn or big tree or hill, you can sit on the north side and amplify the darkness. The darker the sky appears for you, the more meteors you’ll see.
4. Bring a sky map — If you’re going to be out star-gazing anyway, bring a sky map. There are five planets that are visible from Earth with the naked eye, and three of them appear in August (four if you’re lucky enough to glimpse Mercury just before sunrise). Saturn will be in the West in the early evening, and you can even view its rings with a telescope. As Saturn sets around 11 p.m., you should see Jupiter rise, and then Mars will follow Jupiter’s path in the sky a few hours after that. Besides the planets, it’s a fun time to find constellations like Queen Cassiopeia in her “W” shaped chair, Canus the dog, Ursa the Great Bear (A.K.A. the Big Dipper), Ursa Minor the Little Bear (A.K.A. the Little Dipper), Taurus the Bull, and many more.
5. Get the App — I apologize for the advertisement, but for my money, the app “Star Walk” (available on iPhone and Android) is simply one of the best celestial aids out there. Point it at the sky to see a map of the constellations you’re looking at. Point it at a major star and find out where it is, how big it is, and how many millions of year old the light you’re viewing today is. Besides the great live features, the app also gives you a picture of the day and a calendar — without which I would have forgotten the Persieds. The app is $2.99 for iPhone and $4.99 for iPad. It’s totally worth it.
I hope you “Get Out” for some star-gazing this week. Your next best chance for a meteor shower will be this winter when the Geminids will be streaking through our skies, but believe me when I say that sitting outside in August is substantially more comfortable than doing the same in January.
P.S. — I couldn’t write a blog about the stars without mentioning my favorite poem of all-time: When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer, by Walt Whittman.
Happy star gazing everyone!
In my very first blog for The Local Q, I wrote, “We might not have the Rocky Mountains in our backyard, but we’ve got plenty of great ways to ‘Get Out’ and have an adventure.” When I wrote that though, I’m not sure I really believed that our area could compete with the Rockies. I thought finding things to do and topics to write about would be a very difficult task.
Since then, I’ve written about running, cycling, hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, conservation, caving, rafting, team sports, fitness classes … it’s a pretty long list for six short months. It’s fair to say that my friends and I have had a lot of exciting exploits in a mere half of a calendar year.
This Tuesday, I set out on yet another wonderful adventure with a great group of friends. This time it was kayaking again — the seven of us braved the 102-degree heat, launched boats and paddled the Mississippi River from Canton, Mo., back to Quincy Bay. The trip was action-packed and fun for all of us. We practiced different paddling strokes, explored shore lines and surfed barge wakes. We saw jumping carp, great blue herons and at least one very surprised soft shell turtle. More experienced paddlers shared tips. We all practiced rescue techniques. I spent at least a half-hour trying to learn to roll a kayak. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon away from work.
A dear friend and fellow Local Q blogger Clinton Begley joined us on this trip. Clinton has spent the last few months as a guide in the “Touch the Earth” program at Georgia State University. There, he helped guide student groups on some fantastic excursions including paddling some of the famous whitewater rivers of the South, traversing Yosemite National Park during some late-in-the-season heavy snow, and even hang gliding from mountains in Tennessee. Adventure really must be his middle name.
Anyway, it was near sunset, and we were paddling our kayaks toward the bay. Clint had paddled off to my right a few hundred yards to snap a picture of a barge with a tug named “Clinton,” and I studied the stunning panorama in front of me. The elbow in the river had opened to a wide channel with several offshoots, and the sinking sun had painted the Bayview Bridge gold a few miles in the distance. My friends were ahead of me in their colorful kayaks, paddling down one of the great rivers of the world, enjoying a brilliant summer day on the water, and I was taken aback by the unparalleled beauty of the moment. My words failed to be as poetic as the feeling in my heart as I yelled to Clint, “Yo man! This is absolutely gorgeous!”
He hollered back in agreement and explained when he’d paddled close enough for me to hear he said, “You know, this area has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to adventure. Not with this in our backyard.”
Looking back on the fields, rivers, roads, parks and people of the past six months, I can see that what Clint said was true. This is a great area to live, and there are so many things to discover right here in the Midwest. With that in mind, I’ve decided to offer an apology, a thank you and a promise for my six-month-blog-anniversary.
I apologize for spending many years in the Midwest complaining about the lack of options. Really, the intrepid and the creative can find great adventure anywhere, as long as we take the time to explore.
My “Thank You” is broad, and goes out to all of the people who have facilitated, inspired and participated in my expeditions. You’re spirited friends with big hearts and bold ideas, and I appreciate you for all you’ve added to my life.
And my promise: I promise not be the woman who stands near the river and says it is beautiful, nor to be the one who would dip a toe in just to say that she’s been there. I promise to dive in, get wet and, from time to time, float away.
For another great blog of discovery, please read my very favorite entry from Clinton Begley by clicking here.
The seventh annual Jax Hat Ultimate Frisbee Tournament was held this past weekend in Jacksonville, Ill. Ninety players from all over Illinois met at an elementary school’s soccer fields and were broken into six teams by “hat draw.” The “hat” process ensures that teams are evenly matched by taking into account each player’s experience and skill level, and then randomly assigning and mixing players into balanced teams.
My team was called “The Highlighters.” The name was picked for two reasons: First, our assigned shirt colors were a shade of yellow that can only be emulated by a florescent marker. Second, we were bound and determined to make our every play look like it belonged on an ESPN highlight reel.
For those unfamiliar with Ultimate Frisbee, think of it a bit like soccer or football but played with a Frisbee. Two teams of seven players try to move the disc toward the end zone of a field by passing the disc to their teammates. The other team tries to block the disc from being passed. Once a person has caught the Frisbee, they cannot move and must pass the disc to advance. If a disc hits the ground, it is a “turn” and possession goes to the other team. Players on offense have positions on the field called handler, cut and deep which correspond roughly to backfield, midfield and forward positions in soccer. Defensive players can either play man-coverage or zone defense. In this tournament, games were played to 15 points or until a time limit was reached.
Each team in the tourney played five games. For our team, the first game was probably the most difficult. At the beginning, you’re just getting used to your teammates’ playing style and learning who is best suited for which position. I started in the “cut” position. My main goal as a cutter was to run routes and try to get open for short and medium distance passes. The Highlighters started the first game on fire and we were moving the disc well and scoring points all the way until half-time. That’s when the opposing team made a run and eventually took the lead away from us. We played well even though we lost that first game, so we were excited to get on with the tournament.
Later in the day, I was moved to the “handler” position. The handlers (usually three players at a time) are responsible for moving the disc forward in short crisp passes at the beginning of an offensive possession. I actually don’t normally play handler on the Quincy Ultimate pick-up teams, but I really enjoyed the position, and I think I’ll try and play there more often in the future.
The Highlighters had a fun day in the hot sun, but we ended the tourney in last place with a record of 1-4. That didn’t matter to any of us really though. We’d played well and lived up to our goal of making some great plays. My personal best moment in the tournament was made off a pass that had ricocheted off of its intended target and ended up in my arms. I tossed the disc a few yards from there to another player who made a beautiful “put” or pass to the endzone for a point. It felt great!
Jax Hat wasn’t about our win/loss record or even the highlights though. It was about being able to “Get Out” with some other Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts, make some new friends and have a bunch of new stories to tell. I had a terrific time and learned a lot from all of the players on the field.
I saved the best news of all for last though: YOU can still “Get Out” and try an Ultimate Frisbee Hat Tournament this year. Sign up is going on now for the Third Annual Quincy Hat Tournament. It will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, at the soccer fields behind Baldwin School. Registrations must be received by this Sunday. You can call Corey Miller at (217) 242-2424, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and find the tournament on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=227901753898174&ref=ts
Also, join in the Quincy Ultimate Frisbee pick-up games. These informal games are wonderful for all players regardless of skill-level. The group meets at South Park’s lower fields every Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. There is no cost to participate — just bring your running shoes, some water and lots of enthusiasm.