Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Epic

I had high hopes all week of getting out for 3-4 hours of riding on Sunday. The weather looked crappy and not many folks were responding to the emails I was sending out to see who wanted to ride. I figured it would end up being DEA and me but I was surprised when Charles pulled in. We moved our ride start back an hour from noon til 1 as I had some errands to get done and DEA had a bit of a hangover to get over.

Just as we were getting ready to roll out the rain started again. It was coming down pretty hard but when I went inside to look at the radar it did not show up. Maybe the radar is getting tired of the rain too. At about 1 the three of us headed out for a 3 hour tour. We started on Davis Hill and rode a good bit of the network there and were disappointed to see that there had been some significant logging operations that had ruined a real nice section of singletrack, bummer. We then proceeded around the end of Conway Lake and then through Redstone to some new trail that I do not know the name of but was just soft enough that it was sucking the life from us. We could never really get any momentum going or any flow.

We finally arrived at Sticks & Stones and did most of a lap there and while doing so bumped into Carl from the Red Jersey and the Michelin Mike (not sure he should be called that anymore) who were out for rides too. After seeing them and chatting for a few wee decided to test out the new pump track. There were 6 or so folks at the track which was nice to see. Either I suck at pump tracks or my bike is too big for them. Not sure they were designed for 29ers.

About this time we alldecided it was probably time to start back. I asked which way we wanted to go, left or right, and we chose right. That meant a good climb up Peaked Mountain to the Sidehill Trail. Once we got to the top of the climb I think we were all feeling pretty spent. The trail was a good ride as usual and I showed DEA all of the new stuff that seems to be popping up all over as we rolled along. We then hit the Power Lines and then back through Redstone and on to home.

Overall it ended up being just over 3 hours of actual ride time and 26.5 miles. I had a blast regardless of the rain. Nice to have 3 SS 29er riders out on the trails together. Like a freaky bike gang.

So here's the data from the ride:
Summary Data
Total Time (h:m:s) 3:34:16 8:05 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 3:05:03 6:58 pace
Distance (mi ) 26.50
Moving Speed (mph) 8.6 avg. 27.3 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +2,007 / -2,008

Avg. Heart Rate 144 bpm Zone 3.6

Temperature (°F) 68°F avg. 69.8°F high
Wind Speed ( mph) NE 8.0 avg. NE 11.5 max.

Might head down to Pat's Peak and pre-ride the 24hr course on Saturday. It would be nice of it dried out some before though.


Summer Race Series at Attitash

It has been a strange spring season for me as I’ve been recovering from a broken tailbone that had taken me off my bike for a good five weeks. That meant that this year my first race wasn’t Crank the Kanc, but instead the first race of the Red Jersey Summer Race Series.

This year the first stop took place on the Thorne Pond trails at Attitash in Bartlett, NH. A flat, twisty piece of single track that tests your handling and root riding skills. Like most of the Northeast, it had been raining for several days (race day included) so the roots and rocks offered little in the way of traction.

The race started with a mass start of all categories, which is different from how they usually run the race. This meant that when I rolled back in from my warm up lap I found that they were lining everyone up and that I didn’t have time to go back to the car for a pre-race check up on the bike. I knew my tires were running soft so I borrowed a pump from a buddy and put in some air- but the gauge didn’t work so I was doing my best to do an accurate squish test, shooting for 32psi in my Panaracer Rampage tires. Let’s just say I missed that mark, more on that in a minute.

The race began and I quickly move backwards through the pack as my 32x18 that I was running on my Salsa El Mariachi, had me spun out quickly. Once we hit the single track I began to get some of those spots back, and the slight climb on the back of the course gave me a chance to get a few more back. What I was finding was that the air pressure I had put in was a bit more than I had thought, and the roots were really pounding me. Finally I pulled off to let out a bit of air, in the process loosing a few spots that I hoped to get back in the final two laps.

On the third lap I began to hear a clunking sound, that I attributed to the fact that I had left my tool bag on the bike and figured it was my multi-tool banging into the seat post. How wrong I was. A short while later on a step down bridge that you basically aired onto, I found myself on a bike that seemed to be imploding. Some how I didn’t completely wreck and managed to get my feet to the ground and looked back to realize my rear wheel was no longer in the dropouts. This image left me confused for a moment and then I realized I never snugged down my rear wheel after changing the cogs. Rookie mistake that could have been a very costly error. I put the bike back together and chased back trying to catch up to the people who I had by yo-yoing with each time ended up stopping.

By the fourth lap I realized the people I had been chasing had already finished, must have been sport class and I’m guessing I was now taking up the rear of the expert field. Not a great showing by any stretch, but I looked at is I got the best value of any of the racers out there as I paid less per minute of racing then those who went much faster!

Here is the Garmin 705 data from the ride.

In all it was a good start to the season. It felt good to ride hard and chase a bunch of other like minded people through the woods. It also reminded me, yet again, how important it is to have your gear ready and dialed before the gun goes off. You’d think after 20 years of racing I’d have that figured out, but it seems like at least once a year I have to go through this to remind myself- I guess I have it out of the way for 2009!

See you out on the course.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Race Day

The Red Jersey Summer Race series kicks off today, and it'll be my first day of racing this season. I come into this race not in the shape I would like to be, but that's ok. I like to think of racing slowly as the best way to ensure you get maximum financial value out of an event. I like to take my time and admire all the hard work the course crew put in and really enjoy all it has to offer. You just don't get that same level of enjoyment when you are racing at full bore speed!

Ok, truth be told- I'd rather be able to blast around the course but between not riding enough and eating and drinking tooooooo much I'm not going to be that fast. It'll still be fun.

JJ and I are in the planning stages of a fathers day ride, in the rain. As much as rides in the rain usually don't seem like they are going to be fun when you first head out, they usually end up being very enjoyable. Of course they usually also mean much more cleaning and repair work on the gear, but that is alright.

Speaking of gear I'm soon going to be in need of a new SS rear wheel. I could just rebuild using the current hub after a major hub overhaul, but part of me just wants a new wheel all together. I will admit this is a want not a need, but it is something that has my mind working. I checked with Big Al at Team World HQ and he's giving it some thought, as my original idea of a pre-built WTB wheel was shot down when he gave me his opinion of that hub. I keep looking at the King or I9 SS hub, and I'm crushing on those pretty hard- but that are in a price range that really makes me stop and think. Not that much happens when I stop and think, but it does at least get me to stop. Time will tell what the final call is.

Thinking about doing the 12 hour race at Great Glen instead of the 24 hour race. Not sure why, but I figure since there is an option I should at least think about it. Part of me really wants to put in a good effort in the 24 as I still haven't ridden one to the level I would like, but part of me also knows a 12 hour is 12 hours shorter than a 24 (see how smart I am!)

That's it for now- more drivel when I get a chance.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bear Notch Loop

Was hoping to get out and ride again with DEA this weekend but he was busy with work or something like that. I was figuring I was going to be spending my Sunday morning riding solo but at about 9PM Saturday night I got an email saying there was a ride heading out this morning at 8AM to ride up and through Bear Notch. I decided I was better off riding with other folks than alone so I met up with 3 guys and we set off. About 4 miles later we connected with our 5th rider. The pace started off pretty easy as I expected. On of the guys in our group, Sam Anderson, is in college on a cycling scholarship, the others are not. I was riding off the front at the start and all of the suddden this young kid stomps on it and I don't know why, but he dropped me so fast it was stupid. He let up and about a mile later we reconnected. The other three were straggling back some and this was how it was for most of the ride, us two and them three. We'd ride along and then stop and wait to get back together.

Th goal of the ride was Bear Notch. Its a pretty good climb going up almost 1,200 feet in about 4 miles. No let up either, basically one you start up you continue going up til you get to the top.

The ride takes about 21 miles or so to get to the base of the climb and we were there about an hour 20 minutes. We all regrouped and started the climb.

Sam at the base of the climb

Sam stared off in front and I grabbed his wheel. The climb is about 4.5 miles long and averages about 8.5% for the entire time. Sam we keeping a pretty good pace but I was able to stay with him. It had been a while since I had ridden this climb and couldn't remember any landmarks to know where I was or how far I had to go. Sam had his iPod on and I could hear the music faintly over my heavy breathing. I was not sure that Sam even knew I was with him. We got to about the 2/3 mark and he stood up and I thought he was going to make a move but he actually eased up and I rode past him. I think I spooked him. He hopped on my wheel and we rode together a bit further and we came to a scenic vista and he said "want to take a break?"

Vies to the West

I said sure, who knows how much of a lead we had on the rest of our crew at this point. We stopped at a scenic pull-off, had a couple granola bars and talked something we did have in common, shoulder injuries. After comparing war wounds, Tom rode past us.

View to the North

Not wanting to get beaten we both put our helmets back on and started the chase. We caught Tom a bit up the climb but well before the top. I noticed I had a gap on both Tom and Sam at this point and decided it was my chance to get the KOM points. I tried to make a go of it and was able to widen the gap, figuring any minute that Sam would go riding past me. It didn't happen and I hit the top with a few hundred yard lead.

We cruised down the other side a little bit to an overlook to wait for the other two guys. I looked at my watch and realized with all of the stopping and waiting that my hall pass was going to expire before I got home. I told my wife the ride was about 40 miles and I would be home by 11AM, no problem. Well at the top as we waited I saw that it was a few minutes past ten and I was over 23 miles from home. I miscalculated the ride distance by about 8.5 miles, oops.

I told the guys that I had to go, even before the other two had reached the summit. I headed down the descent and was moving along at a nice pace. As I made the turn on the the Kanc, I was hit in the face by a pretty stiff headwind, that probably knocked 3-5mph of the ride pace for that 12 mile stretch but I was able to move right along at about 23mph. It is a fun stretch that you can really go on if you have no wind or a tail wind. With a tail wind you can comfortably ride at 30+ for 12 miles without drafting anyone, pretty cool.

As I made the turn for home and the final 8 or so miles I saw I was going to be about 20 minutes late. I tried to push it as much as I could and kept the pace up the whole way back. I hurried in figuring I was about to be told I was 15 minutes late. We had made plane to leave the house by 11:30. As I opened the door, nobody was home. I checked my phone and I had a txt. They went out to run an errand. Great. I was saved. I hopped in the shower quick and was ready to go by 11:30, just as they pulled in the driveway. Nice.

So the ride ended up being just shy of 50 miles at 48.4 and had almost 2,700 feet of total climbing. Overall pace wasn't too bad considering the makeup of the group and the amount of climbing.

Garmin Edge Summary Data
Total Time (h:m:s) 3:11:44 3:57 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 2:50:27 3:31 pace
Distance (mi ) 48.40
Moving Speed (mph) 17.0 avg. 38.4 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +2,702 / -2,701

Avg. Heart Rate 151 bpm Zone 4.0

Temperature (°F) 66.2°F avg. 69.8°F high

Hope to get out more this week than last. Maye I'll get over to Bridgton and see what DEA's new trails are looking like.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Chili Shakedown Cruz

I took the Chili Con out for a short shake down cruz last night. Gave it a good run of pavement, dirt roads, roads that used to be paved but aren't quite dirt yet, and then so doubletrack that led to singletrack that led to nothing track, or as I called it last night "the place where you move to the bottom of the food chain."

The bike ran well, it's very comfortable and pretty quick. The Conti Speed Kings run well, but it's funny how quickly I forget the difference in pavement cornering between a 23mm road tire and a 35mm cross tire. There is that point when you go from riding the upper edge of the tire to dropping down to the actual side and there is that perceivable drop of the bike- took a minute to get used to that.

The shifting on the front feels a bit funky and I need to work on that, but figured I'll get the cables all stretched out first. The new Rival has a trim that the original Rival didn't- that took me a minute to figure out. The brakes work much better than my old XT's that I have on the Surly.

I have a few position things I need to tweak and then I think we'll be good. The sad part is once I get it all dialed in I likely won't ride it again until later in the summer, although it may be the rig I use to go cruise for new MTB trails that I think I see out on my road rides- time will tell.

Got in a fantastic road ride on Tuesday, road a route that I've never hit before and can't believe this great road has been out there and I've missed it for the past 20 years. The ironic part is I can see the ride that the road goes on from my house and from my office window- been looking at it forever- just realized there is a perfect stretch of pavement across the spine of it- I'll take my camera next time as there are some cool views of the mountains and lakes.

Other than that- not much else going on. Busy work weekend coming up with Reunion here at the Academy. Get to play with the new camera I bought for my office (a Canon 50D). So that's it.

Ride on.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's Been Awhile

Nice day, and I'm sitting here typing, hmmmm. But there is news on the cycling front, so it is my duty to report it to you (you being me, and maybe JJ, ok and maybe Blue)

My ass is finally getting better. That means the excuse period is over, and now I have to shed all this lazy weight I've put on, and I've put a bunch of it on! I stand on the scale and it jumps right past 200 and hits 207. That's a good 17-20 lbs over where I was last year at this time. Making my goal of 180lbs by 24 seem a bit of a reach. That being said I know where I can cut calories, but I have a tough time doing that. My plan, jump up the burn side of the equation by a lot and cut the consumption side by just a little. My hope is that will result in a weight of 190 by the time I have to drag my fat self up Mount Washington on July 11th. That's five weeks to drop 17 pounds, meaning 3.3+ a week. Not an easy task, but possible. Time will tell.

The scale is one thing, but I've gotten a chance to ride with JJ a couple times over the past few weeks- one the day after I bagged racing CTK and then this past Sunday. Both times he put the hurt on me, but Sunday he rode away from me on climbs in a way that was crushing (in a good way of course). It did two things, one piss me off to ride more, and two made me realize how much I miss riding with him on a nearly daily basis. I've had a lot of good riding partners over the 20+ years I've been addicted to this sport, but JJ has been the best by far.

I've had a few great training partners, Adam Lauer who raced with me for a few years when I first started racing in the late 80's and early 90's, we raced club and for Bridgton Academy. Adam and I shared many a mile on the roads of Western Maine. That and may a frightening road trip to races (Adam had a car, I didn't, and Adam liked to draft off of semi truck on the way to races to save on gas- used to scare the crap out of me!)

Or Seth Turner who would chase down cars that got to close and let them know what he thought about their driving (he could catch them, he's the only person I've ever seen break a crank, drive side of a Dura Ace, broke it mid shaft, rode the remaining 7 miles with one leg). Or Steve Vosburgh who's knowledge of the sport always amazed me, but he was always so much more fit! The "worst" was riding with Ward Solar, he once pushed me up Pinkham Notch- literally. That guy can ride (heal well Ward!).

But Dennis and I started riding in what I'd call my second phase with the sport. Cycling became more of a lifestyle and racing was secondary. Part of that was the realization that I wasn't ever going to be a hotshot racer, and that that was ok because riding a bike is just plain fun even if you are in the back of the pack. It was at that point that I figured out that the longer it took me to complete a race the better value I was getting out of my entry fee! It was also cool because I got to introduce Dennis to the sport. I helped him select his mountain bike, I sold him one of my road bikes at a pretty good deal (lol), and in essence I was like the drug dealer getting him hooked. At the same time his desire to learn and get better pushed me and I started to ride a lot more. We then got A1 hooked, and we all enjoyed the craziness that was training and then racing the Jay Challenge. TWAF was born and SS's were found, Bikeman became and option, we all got to look at X-Rays, cross racing got into my blood, and the list goes on.

JJ and I didn't always talk a lot on rides, but there was a comfort in being out on the road, in the woods, on gravel, that was relaxing. We learned where every town line was in a 50+ mile radius. We watched A1 finally learn how to ride and then start stomping up in races (he is only 19 you know). We all had a good run.

I ended up moving for a job, ironically right back to where I grew up and first started racing. While not to far away I've gotten lazy and haven't taken advantage of sneaking over to the Valley to ride with the crew- but I need to change that as I miss it. Of course I have a few new people I'm breaking into riding with me, but none that will go through the same breadth of cycling experiences I've gone through with JJ. So hats off to you JJ, and thank you for stomping my ass on those climbs Sunday to give me the kick in the butt that I needed!

Onto other news, I got the Chili built, damn she's a nice looking bike! Just a test spin, but smooooth. Can't wait to get it out on the terrain she's built for!

Then in not so good news, on my ride out to meet JJ on Sunday my Garmin took a flyer off the bike at 40mph. The freakin mount broke! The unit is still working, but not a good feeling to have a $500+ dollar piece of electronics hit the tarmac at speed. I need to touch base with Gamin about his as the mount failed badly and it makes me a bit nervous.

This isn't an old mount or one that had been crashed before, so not sure what the skinny is- but I'll keep you posted if I hear anything from Garmin.

Well that's it from here, going to go search e-bay for any of Tom Boonen's old bikes that he might be looking to sell. Bad joke.


Monday, June 01, 2009

A wet one

With DEA moving to Maine last year it has made it logistically harder to ride together as much as we used to. So yesterday we met in the middle and then headed back to his place for some beers and a BBQ.

The rest of my family was going to drive over and hopefully give me a ride back later on. I left the house as the skies seemed to be getting sorta nasty looking. After about 5 miles I was feeling some sprinkles and knew I was at the last gas station or store I would see in quite a while so I stopped and got a plastic bag for my phone in case the skies did really open up on me.

That turned out to be a good move. I had some good reggea cranking on Pandora on my Storm as I was rolling along. I could see what appeared to be brighter skies up ahead so I hoped that I might be able to outrun the rain. I was very wrong. Within 5 minutes I was getting pelted by big summer storm type rain and some very blustery gusts of wind. Made for some very dicey peddling for a time. Then I started hearing the rumblings of thunder and started to keep an eye out for the flashes of lightening I suspected were approaching. I saw a flash and started counting, one-one thousand, two-one thousand. three-one thousand, four, Booommmmm. OK HR just spiked. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. SO I just peddled harder and hoped that I would not be riding the lightening.

I rolled into Lovell, Maine and saw DEA had arrived at our meet-up spot as well. The rain started to subside and we then continued on our way, he was actually just turning around and heading back the way he had come. DEA got me at the only town line, I didn't know it was coming and by the time I realized what was happening I had not shot. Home court advantage was his. The ride from my house for the first 15 miles or so was relatively flat. The last 10+ miles was not.

We got a in a few good uphills and some pretty fast descents as well. I felt pretty good climbing and went faster than I usually am comfortable while going downhill. Actually hit 45.5 mph which is usually a bunch over the comfort zone and well into the white knuckle zone.

Garmin Edge Summary Data
Total Time (h:m:s) 1:28:13 3:21 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 1:24:45 3:13 pace
Distance (mi ) 26.23
Moving Speed (mph) 18.6 avg. 45.5 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +1,793 / -1,931

Avg. Heart Rate 160 bpm Zone 4.5

Temperature (°F) 65.1°F avg. 68°F high

All in all it was good to get int the ride, rain and all. Once we got to DEA's place we saw the storm had hit there as well as a really huge tree had the top of it blown off and into the road. Impressive it was.

DEA showed me his new Salsa Cross bike, the Chili Con. It has a wicked cool red paint job which I'm sure he'll put up some pics of. Did a little test ride and it felt smooth. Someday I'll get me one of them, maybe.

We cleaned up and he fired up the grill and I opened my first of many Sam Summer's. Great Sunday afternoon. Let's do it again!