Monday, October 27, 2008

Bike Fall Down Go Boom

Short post (for now) I'll expand upon it with photos later. But yesterday we loaded up the truck to head up to Great Glen Trails to race their cross series. All was good. Nice morning (well it was raining, but it was supposed to turn nice and it did), on time (almost I was running a bit late, but it's me and I'm always late), out with the family (well the dogs were left at the house)- but anyway- driving on route 302 and low and behold my cross bike and rack go flying out of the back of my truck. Yup, flying, like they sprouted wings. Don't know why. Not sure how. I've driven thousands of miles with bikes in the back, never an issue. But on this day it was an issue.
Busted lever
Amazingly the damage isn't tooooo bad. I'm placing an order with Bikeman this morning and it will be a manageable amount. Need a new brake lever (the Dura-Ace STI survived it was the Cane Creek that took the pounding), a new bar, new tape, new seat- and I think that may be it. Everything else looks ok but the true test will be the no-handed test once it's rideable again.
When you can't race- eating is the next best option!

Not all was lost, got in a great road ride with K. She was in a hammering mood- so I got in a great workout and enjoyed some nice views. I'll show those to you once I find a flash drive that isn't being so temperamental! (late edit- flash drive still tempermental but got it to take a few pics so here they are)
K getting ready to go up the hill at the end of the ride
K showing the TWAF colors

later and ride safe.


Friday, October 24, 2008

A ride with K

For those who have followed Team Weak and Feeble you know that this "team" was built around the Jay Challenge, a race (that no longer exists) that was the first true test of our endurance as riders. It was a race that scared us into actually getting into shape, and brought us together as a group of friends who spent a lot of time out riding in the woods.

Prior to the Jay Challenge I had a different memory of Jay. When I was in college over at St. Mikes in the early 90's Jay Peak had started letting people ride the tram to the top and ride their mountain bikes down the mountain. No real trails, just ride down however you want. It seemed like a good idea so a bunch of us went. At the time we were all on fully rigid bikes and the idea of quality braking was still a few years down the road. Needless to say there was much carnage on that trip. My friend Kevin Queenan took off right out of the blocks and disappeared as the horizon line dropped away. We caught up to him as an unconscious mess with his bike a good twenty yards away from him. We were so pissed that after we got him off the mountain we made him sit in the base lodge while we took more runs (we'd check on him to make sure he wasn't sleeping). It was fun.

A couple years later I met this hot skier chick who was into the outdoors and knew her way around a mountain. I was working at a bike shop at the time so I got her a deal on a sweet Specialized Rockhopper, it was a good bike, steel, rigid, and ready for anything Vermont could through at it. I was riding a first generation Specialized M2, rigid, and loved that bike. After we explored the single track around Burlington and Winooski I talked this girl into going up to Jay for a day of lift serve riding. We had a good time, my roommate went with us and we spent the morning bombing down the mountain. We were making our last run (it's always the last run when these things happen) and the girl of the story comes hammering down a steep section of trail that has a center section made up of large rocks that form of sort of nasty cobble. As I watch I think to myself, "Wow, she's going fast, too fast, she's in trouble, oh this is going to hurt!"

Moments later the girl of the story tries to walk off the back of the bike at a high rate of speed. You can imagine the carnage that followed. My roommate ran up to her immediately, I had to compose myself as I knew she was hurt and I wanted to go into a first responder mode as opposed to a boyfriend mode.

I ran up and she was using interesting language to describe the pain she was feeling, and rightfully so. Her knee was hammered as were other parts of her legs, hands and other body parts. We cleaned her up as best we could and then rigged up her bike to reduce the braking she would need to do to get down and we began a slow crawl off the mountain. It was one of the hardest wrecks I've seen on a bike, and one that likely would have had many say this sport is stupid. She was out of commission for a few weeks, but she bounced back and we spent many an afternoon riding around Vermont, then for a few years around NH.

The girl of the story is my wife, and we stopped riding together after we had our first child. For her cycling became more about watching the riders of the spring classics and the Tour. She was always a big fan of Jan, of Boonen, of Basso, and others. She would explain to me what happened in a race that I didn't see, the attacks, who did the work, who sat on, what worked what didn't. She has loved the sport for a long time, but just wasn't able to participate that much anymore. She got into running (went back to Vermont to run the VCM a few years ago)but cycling took too much time and it was hard for her to ride with me unless the kids were someplace else.

The kids are older now. The grand parents are across the street, and we know have more time. We've snuck out for a few road rides from time to time, but I had yet to get her into the woods. Heading out
Part of the issue is her Specialized S-Works M2 from 1995 had been retroed for our oldest- super short stem, flats, different gearing, etc- but last night we got it set up for K and we got out on the trails for the first time in years. It was a short ride, mellow (and cold!). K in the woods
K didn't have the same handling skills she used to, but those will come back (I used to marvel at her ability to pick a line- all that ski racing I guess!). But the important part for me was we were out riding together.

Riding side by each
I had a blast, and now we'll just have to see if she gets bit by the bug again. Here's to keeping my fingers crossed!

Cruising the jeep road.



Downeast Cyclocross Race

I got my first cross race of the season underway this past weekend over at the Downeast Cyclocross Race in New Gloucester, ME. This used to be a venue the was home to a Verge series weekend, and I remember seeing the big boys race on this course and it was what really got me stoked on the concept of cross racing. I've raced at this venue several times now, and I really like it- the big issue for me is to now put some effort into coming to the race to do well.

This year was about having some fun, shake the cobwebs out and just see how it went. During warm-ups I realized that not having worked on dismounts, remounts, off camber, etc was going to be an issue. I worked really hard on those elements last year and it paid off- so this year was more of a fake it till you make it.
The girls all went with me to the race and K was shooting pics while the girls drank hot cider and cheered. It was cool to see them during my warm up laps and during the race. I raced as a 4 so that we could head to Freeport after the race and still have most of the day, that meant a 9am start on a frosted course. It also meant a 30 minute race, which I assumed would be a 35 to maybe 40 minute actual race. That wasn't quite the case.

We got cued in the start area, I saw Marc from the Maine Cycling Club, who I've been racing cross with since I was doing my race promotion work with the original Rockpile Rampage (now a part of Porky Gulch Classic). I also met Ethan "Buzz" Magoon, a fellow Bikeman team rider.
A Group of 4's about to create chaos

The race began, we were expecting it to be four laps, and I immediately was reminded how squirly a cat 4 race can be. This isn't to say I'm the worlds best bike handler, cuz I ain't, but I do understand the etiquette and how to race aggressively without putting everyone else in danger of going into the ground. Needless to say my lack of initial desire to be at the front bit me in the butt, and I held back to let things string out a bit before trying to pick up the pace.Holding back, wishing I hadn't
Soon I found that Marc and Buzz were right near me, and for some reason that made me feel more comfortable- Marc is a solid rider and Buzz seemed to be so I was not as nervous having them either on my wheel or being on their wheel. We made our way around, the course had only one dismount, and two other spots where some chose to run. I was feeling ok and was able to ride the two other spots each lap (well that's not entirely true- on the first lap I did have to scooter the first little run up as a guy slid out in front of me and I dabbed to keep from running him over). The girls were moving all over the course so I got to see them several times and that was cool (and the photo credits go to my wife- nice work K!)
On the flat section topside

By the end of the second lap I was feeling ok and wanted to start moving up, we rolled through and they called out last lap. What? This is going to be a three lap race? That doesn't even make sense! (should have raced at 10 for the Master 3/4)- I put my head down and so did Buzz and Marc and we moved up a bit through the field. Buzz was ahead of me on the climb and I yelled to both he and Marc that they had to clean the piece that others were running- telling them it was the small victories that count. We then made it to the top of the course and I accelerated and passed Buzz and then rolled in for an 8th place.
In the final set of corners.I would have liked that last lap to see if I could have made top five as I was really starting to feel strong, but that's how racing works- everyone has a Monday Morning QB story!
Post race.My girls after the race.
So that's the story.

Roll on.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A couple good days on the bike

Got out for a great ride on Friday with my Dad, who to many is known simply as Boogie. It stems from his days as a freestyle ski coach back in the 70's and 80's, and rumor has it it was based upon his prowess on the dance floor, although I think it is more to do with the way he skis. But this isn't about skiing this was about a ride.

My Dad was the one the got me into cycling, although not the way you might expect. It was my grandfather that bought me my first bike and my second bike (which I still own, a Columbia three speed), but it was photographs that my Dad had taken of a crit in Aspen, a photo of John Howard. He had on one of those cool hairnet "helmets" and was banked hard into a corner. The show was taken with a slow enough shutter speed that as my Dad panned with the action the back ground blurred but the racer was in focus. That shot was on the wall and I looked at it every day. I used to push a tricycle around like a scooter on this "dirt track" I had built in my parents garden when I was four and pretend I was that guy on the wall. When I would get bored with that I would go back to digging my hole to China, never made it.

My Dad rode a bunch before I was born, but cycling wasn't something he and I shared until I was working in a bike shop in Burlington, VT. Then he got back into the sport in a major way. He had picked up a mountain bike before that from Sunday River one summer but never really rode it that much, but when he got into road riding again he got bit by the bug. That was the only way I could get my parents to come visit me, bribe my Dad with sweet deals on choice bike parts! I'll never forget the day he came to pick up his red De Rosa Primato with Campy Record- that is still a sweeeeeeet bike.

Anyway he had traded his bikes for computers and camera equipment in the past couple of years (not literally as us Cole's have a tendency to keep all our gear, it just gets put in the back for awhile). I'd been bugging him for awhile to get out and ride in the woods to help re-acquaint myself with the local trails (there are a ton of snowmobile trails and old logging roads- but not much in the way of what I would think of as buff single track- but still you take what you can get!). I finally got him out on Friday and we were set to go for a short ride, well it was anything but short!

We headed out behind his house and started with a powerline and that was a good warm up, we then found a logging road that went straight uphill, so we tried that. We got to a section that just wasn't ridable, but we were confident that if we just kept pushing on we would eventually find clear trail again, and we did. Onto another powerline that just stretched as far as you could see. The best part of powerlines- the wet spots. There were plenty and every once in awhile I would hear Dad express his joy for the muck holes out on the trail.

We finally made it off the powerline and hit Monk Road, and from there jumped onto another snowmobile type trail, it took us to a pond (Little Moose) and then we looked for an old connecting trail, which we found along with the bridge we needed- it looked safe so off we went.

It was cool to just be cruising the woods, nothing technical, but with the fall colors that was good as it gave me plenty of opportunity to see the surroundings. We came across a few small ponds and some new beaver ponds and plenty of great riding (and plenty of climbing!). Now I just need to see if I can remember this route the next time I head out!

The comical part was at the end of the ride we had one more steep pitch to ride on a paved road, we had been out for over three hours so my Dad's legs were cooked- so I was pushing him up the hill, I gave him one last shove and then heard a car coming so I fell back inline. The car went by and hit the brakes- it was the owner of the local ski shop and the rep from Rossignol (the two guys who take care of all my Dad's wintertime gear needs)- and they were chatting about how great it was that my Dad was out hammering on the young guys and keeping fit for the season. I bit my lip and didn't let on it was his first real ride of the year and that ten seconds ago I was pushing the old man up the hill (he's in his 60's so I'll cut him some slack)- after they left and were out of view he was looking for another push!

It was a great ride, and I can't wait to do it again.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


I'm sure you've seen this floating around your email box, I think it has been sent to me at least five times in the last couple of weeks- but if you haven't- it's pretty funny so here you go:

Investment tips:
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year
ago, you will have $49.00 today.
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you will
have $33.00 today.
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago,
you will have $0.00 today.
But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank

all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refund, you
would have made $214.00.
Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink
heavily & recycle. It is called the 401-Keg.
A recent study found that the average American walks about 900
miles a year.
Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.
That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the
Makes you proud to be an American!



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Time to start racing again

This has been a weird year. I'm not talking about the Pats blowing their perfect season with the loss to the Giants, or the Celtics winning it all after coming off the worst record in a LONGGGG time, or a Tour that now has a number of riders booted for CERA, or the wild economic ride, or the insanely long presidential race (most of the year I lived in NH- so it has been long)- no I'm talking about a cycling season that sort of came and went and I had little to show for it.

Obviously this was due to the fact that I was contemplating retirement, more so that I could then mount a comeback- but then someone reminded me that you actually have to have gotten to a certain level before you can retire. And if you haven't retired you can't really mount a comeback. This whole having to do one thing before you do another has caused a great deal of confusion in my little world.

This means I am announcing my "I never retired so this isn't a comeback, but I haven't really trained so don't expect much" return to the world of cycling as defined by course tape, start and finish lines, and result sheets that show how far from the front you finished.

Saturday I'll head over to New Gloucester for the Downeast Cross Race. I'm not sure why it's New Gloucester, as Gloucester, MA should have been the "New Gloucester" sort of like New Hampshire- of course with the poor understanding of geography in this country maybe they thing that Gloucester, MA is the "original" Gloucester- who knows.

Then I head up to Great Glen Trails for the start of their cross series on Sunday- that should be fun- a bit more laid back (or at least I hope). Either way it'll be fun to go hard for a bit of time.

I've got some work to do on my bike as I have the saddle affectionately known as the "ass razor" on my cross bike right now and I that just isn't going to cut it- no pun intended. So I need to pull another saddle off of a bike to make the remounts more manageable. I also need to "rewire" the brakes so that my left hand is my back brake- one of these days I'll just do all my bikes that way so that I'm used to it all year long and not going through the hassle.

That's my story for the moment, more to come when another moment comes along.

latter- DEA

late edit- just saw an article that GW wants to ease restrictions in national parks to allow mountain biking- hmmm, may need to read up on this

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unintentional Night Ride

Got out for a ride yesterday after I got done shooting our two big rivalry games against Navy Prep (you can see the results here: football and soccer) where we got our butts handed to us. The only issue is that now that we are into October a ride that leaves after 5pm quickly runs out of light- but in my infinte wisdom I thought I'd be fine and could beat the setting sun if I just did a quick hour spin. I did have a small Knog blinky on the back, so I rolled out feeling safe.

The ride was great, especially the trip out. It was getting a bit dark but nothing crazy as I hit the half way point and began to climb up to a beautiful ridge that looks out over Keoka Pond. I was enjoying the view and the dark orange along the horizon- then the sun just dropped and it got dark. I could see the road ok at this point, and it's a road I know pretty well- but none the less the descents were a bit unnerving as I couldn't see much beyond 5 yards. I was on back roads so traffic wasn't much of an issue- I knew I had a one mile stretch of route 37 that was going to be dicey- no shoulder, traffic, curvy, and holes along the edge of the road. No worries- I can hammer that section and have it done in no time.

I hit the start of the section and gave it full gas, as I was coming up the first little blind rise I looked back and could see lights coming- which made me nervous as I wasn't sure how well they would see me if I was on the back side of the rise just as they crested- and I could see lights coming toward me- I descided to just go harder and try to beat the car behind me to the oncoming car. I couldn't see my HRM as it was toooooo dark- but it felt like it was in the 185-190 range as the back of my throught had that taste that is almost acidic. I made it to the on coming car before the vehicle behind me caught up- that made me feel a little better. Next thing is there is this massive shadow of a cyclist on the road- my body was blocking the trucks lights so where I was going I couldn't really see that well- but there was enough light around that my eyes were adjusting to that light level. I wasn't really sure what to do- I was in my 50x13 going as hard as I could- so pulling off would have required a massive deceleration and possibly confuse the truck behind me- continuing that fast would require that I didn't hit anything I didn't see as I would end up star fishing down the road, and slowing down would mean being on this now very scary section of road for longer then I needed to be- so I stayed riding fast. The truck just wouldn't go by, I couldn't figure it out- I was appreciating the fact he wasn't trying to run me over, but the light was killing me as I really couldn't see anything that was useful due to my shadow. Finally the truck went by and as it did a familiar shifting sound alerted me to why the truck was behind me- it was a big rig and he needed to make sure he had a clear shot. He got by me clean- although it was a bit nerve racking as he went by as my eyes were now all messed up and I couldn't see anything as he passed. He was followed by several other vehicles and I will say I was very glad to get off that stretch of road in one piece. By the time I got home it was fully dark out, and my wife wasn't very impressed with my lack of lighting, but I'm pretty sure she was pleased she wasn't having to fill out paperwork to collect life insurance!

The verdict- next time take lights!


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kingdom Trails

Finally got back to Kingdom Trails this past weekend with JJ and Fat Old Dads, what a great day of riding. I didn't do the full weekend that was described as- "Ah what troubled times when these grown men leave their families to get sweaty and drink beer, excessive behavior to be sure." J-Mac. I had to do the over and back in a day (which wasn't bad)- but the riding is so worth it.

JJ and I started out with Dave-O and Jim and hit a whole bunch of trails that I can't recall the names of- other then Loop and Fence-Line. It's was interesting as the "easy" trails were the ones to sketch me out, mainly because they were covered with leaves and you just couldn't see what trouble you were about to get into, but no trouble ended up being found- so that is a good thing.

We got in a couple hours of riding, including runs through Old Webbs and Sidewinder- such great trails. We then met up with other members of Fat Old Dads and rode for another couple of hours having a great time. Click here for a video from FOD of Sidewinder.

JJ and I then headed back to the cars with the intent of reloading water and food to head out for a bit more and ultimately hit the pump track. However JJ locked his keys in the car so we had to hang out for AAA to show up and bail us out. Amazing the simple tools you need to get into a car- but that is another story! By the time we were ready to roll we made the decision to hit the pump track and then grab some food and a beer.

The pump track was interesting. We both sucked at it- but it was fun. I'm not sure if 29'ers aren't really ideal for pump tracks or we just lacked skill- or a combination of the two- but the rollers and corners just felt a little small to really get comfortable and to get a "pump" going. Of course I'm not really sure what the heck I am doing on a pump track- so that may have had much more to do with it. Either way it was fun and it did take the last bit of juice out of my legs, so I was ready to hit the pub.

Good food (slow service) and good beer for a great day. Can't wait to do it again.