Friday, July 31, 2009

August is almost here

Summer is slogging by here in the Northeast. The weather has sucked, but that's just the way it is so no point in complaining. What it has meant is that I haven't ridden my mountain bike much at all, I've been racing on Tuesday nights, but other than that it's been road riding.

The Tuesday night races have been fun up at Great Glen Trails. It is more of a TT format, where you can start when you show up and race one of three courses- Mini, Short, or Long. Mini is for the real little kids, short of the kids and beginners, and Long for everyone else. Our routine is we roll up to Great Glen and I ride with Elizabeth for her race (short course) with Emma on the trail-a-bike in tow. It's fun as there is a bit of singletrack on the short course, but it's mild enough that I can ride it with Emma on the back. She's been a trooper as it's been wet so she's getting covered in mud after each lap- but she thinks it's fun so we keep it going!

Liz is doing well, but she's starting to get competitive when she sees the results but when she's actually riding I have a hard time getting her to go fast. I keep telling her that she can just enjoy the ride and check out the flowers and animals, but understand that she won't have a fast time, or she can try to go fast but that it will require some effort. I think he wish is that the other girls would just slow down!

My races have been fine, back of the expert pack. But for a SS I feel like I'm putting in ok times, as there is a fair amount of big ring fireroad on the 5 mile course (that is the long course) and I'm running a 32x18 on the 29er. There is a fair amount of spin/coast/spin/coast. The battle has been between JJ, Charles and I. JJ has been cleaning up but his two week vacation may have tipped the scales- we won't really know until August 11th or 18th as I'll miss next Tuesday's race.

The race on the 11th may be off as well as both JJ and I will have just come off the 24HOGG as solo single speeders. We had planned to do double single but I chickened out as I didn't want to have JJ dictate when I was riding or sleeping. I'm looking at this as either a two or three part race- a five or six hour section, a couple hour section, followed by a morning 5 to 6 hour section. So the high end will be 13-14 hours of actual racing- which means I fully intend on spending some time off the bike. I'd like to get 13 laps as the goal (that would put me over 100 miles), with 10 being the minimum that I'll be happy with. We'll see!

The other wrinkle is that I'm heading down to DC for a few days with my wife and our friends Cecile and Jonathan who are here from France for a couple weeks. That means I'm not sure what I might get in for riding over the next few days. Then we get back and I'm hoping for a big box from Team World HQ that will enable me to build up the Mamasita as a light, rigid, kick ass SS. Then I'll want to get that shaken down for the weekend, but doing so with no real effort- hmmmm. We'll make it work!

That's it for now, oh here is a pick from Newton's Revenge from a couple weeks ago. This is near the top, that is Chris Proulx from RSN tv16 chasing me with the camera. I tried to give him a good promo, but I was out of breath. He keeps telling me he's going to post the video, but I have yet to see it.

Either way ride safe.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

24 Hours of Great Glen

There is this race, you see, where you ride around this course up in the woods at the base of Mount Washington, and well you just keep riding around for like, a day. Not just the day part of a day, but for 24 hours, actually in some cases more like 25 hours.

Sound's tempting doesn't it. The next big thing on my cycling season that wasn't is the 24 Hours of Great Glen, a race that has been a part of my year for longer than I've been a Dad.

This year it looks like JJ and I are going to race the two person format. I've done the four person, the five person, and solo, so this is a format I have yet to try. I think it'll be fun and it gives me a much better shot at having a sense that we put in a good race than I would have if I raced solo (unless I did the 12 hour format).

I'm getting excited and nervous as I'm still heavy and haven't put in any looooong rides yet this year. If the stars align I'll get in a good road ride on Saturday, out through Bethel and up and over Evan's Notch- we'll see how that feels. It also looks like the Mamsita will be in SS glory for the race- details when the big box from Bikeman World HQ shows up next week.

Just heard from Mary, the event director up at 24HOGG- prize money went UP this year,not a bad thing in a year that many events have been cutting prize money. Of course the downside is that I won't be in the money, but it's nice to know that those that are actually do get some! Top team takes $1000. Overall solo for both men and women walk with $500, and top pro-four person teams (both male and female) walk with $600. There's more but those are the highlights. I wonder what bottom of the results sheet guys get? Hmmmmmm.

Ride safe out there, speakign of that have you checked out Dave Z's site- Yield to Life? Certainly a good cause- but between this and all the Road ID ads I see I feel like I'm supposed to get smacked by a car- been there done that, don't need to do it again.



Monday, July 20, 2009


Just saw that we've posted 500 times to the TWAF blog, not sure the level of excitement that I am supposed to feel. Does this image show the appropriate level of excitement?

Just got word from Garmin that my 705 is enroute, and when I checked the tracking it is slated to get here today- so I am excited about that. I hate to admit it but I am a data junkie now. I dream of someday running a SRM singlespeed crank just so I can be super cool. Maybe I can get one of the head units in a special TDF color. Here is to dreaming.

So my weight loss is happening, very slooooowwwwwly. I've decided the next time I get hurt and can't do anything for a long period of time that I'm going to ingest tapeworms that I have tied floss to (so that I can pull them out when the time is right) to help with weight control. Not sure if it will work, but it's a thought. Better yet- don't get hurt again and just keep the weight off to start with (boring!).

JJ and I are considering, strongly, racing 24HOGG as a double/single instead of both racing solo. Part of this is that we are both a bit soft this year and, well, he's just flat out old. I have concerns that if he doesn't rest from time to time he may get lost in the woods. Ok that's not really true, or maybe it is- but the truth is I looked at last years results and realized we would have been on the podium as a Double/Single team. With that intel we got all excited. However, since that epiphany I have gone back to look at the registration for this year and it looks like others have found the Double/Single category to be one that is of interest. A few names I recognize and to beat them would take very subversive tactics, like stealing their bikes during the LeMans start or swapping their energy bars with Exlax. As evil as I am I just can't bring myself to doing either of those things. So I'll have to revert to just sending them an email saying the race has been postponed by 12 hours so they show up for the wrong 24 hour period- with a 12 hour head start JJ and I could kick their asses!

No tour to distract me today, and that is a good thing. Hopefully I'll get in a good, easy ride today and then go up to Great Glen tomorrow for the weekly series and put in a good ride.

That's about it for excitement at the moment- but I'm sure I'll let you know if something pops up.

Ride on.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Check Newton's off the List

“The winds at the summit are currently a calm 10-15 mph, visibility is 65 miles, and it is looking like a beautiful day on top of Mount Washington.”
Those were the words of the race director about 45 minutes before the start of Newton’s Revenge, a race up the famed Mount Washington Auto Road. While I heard the words and enjoyed the idea of idyllic weather, I also cringed knowing the weather gods heard the words as well and I was sure they would look to show just how futile predicting the summit weather could be.
I had signed up for Newton’s Revenge back in the winter when I had had great intentions of rolling into the 2009 cycling season in great shape and having trimmed down to a nice 180lbs. That was of course prior to falling down and going boom at the end of the ski season that left me doing nothing (other than enjoying adult malted beverages) for a month and a half and not getting onto a bike for real until mid May. That left me coming into the season at a legitimate Clydesdale weight, and far from being in shape- but it didn’t matter- I could ride my bike and that made everything A-OK with me.
Toeing the start line I looked up at the Mountain that I’ve had so many great adventures on, mostly in the winter. I thought back to the night my wife and I and a group of friends did a night ride up the road to above tree line, talking our time and enjoying a beautiful summer night. I thought about all the Toughest Two’s I’d raced in (the hillclimb TT portion of the Porky Gulch Classic Stage Race- a race worth doing). But at that moment I realized that today I was riding all the way to the top. Not stopping at two mile, not stopping at tree line, but going all the way to the top- 6288 feet in 7.6 miles.
The cannon fired and we were off. I took it very easy in the start as I had forgone doing a really good warm up with the intent of warming up on the hill. That had more to do with being lazy than it did being a good strategy. I soon found myself spinning my 22x32 and enjoying the gear but not the lack of speed.
I was racing on my Salsa Chilli Con that had gone through a couple changes for the race. The crank had been replaced by a Truvita Stylo 180mm with a 22t chain ring. The rear end of the bike say the SRAM 10 speed cassette give way to a 9 speed cassette 11-32. With that change the Rival derailleur was swapped for a SRAM x9 with I had tried to operate with a 9-speed Dura Ace shifter. For whatever reason I couldn’t get the Dura Ace shifter and the X9 to play nice, so off came the drop bars and the flat bars with the X9 shifter made their way to the bike and all the shifting issues were resolved. I was running bar ends (Ergon grips, the greatest grips of all time) and found the position quite comfy for the climb.
Back to the race, not much exciting happened in the first hour other than being passed by the fast age groupers who started behind me. A couple of them were breathing so hard as they went by that I just couldn’t believe they would make it to the top. Of course I realized that when I usually “race” I breath that hard as well- ahhhh the joys of approaching the event as a tour!
Once about the treeline the views were fantastic. Looking out into the Great Gulf, and being on a bike on the road gave me a great opportunity to dream about skiing next winter, especially when I looked over and saw snow over on Jefferson. I noodled my way up the mountain, not moving very fast, but moving up the hill one turn of the cranks at a time. Newton’s Revenge is a bit smaller race so there were times that I felt like I had the road all to myself, of course that was until a group would catch me and blow by me from behind.
At about the five mile mark I started having some cramping in the thighs and lower back, I decided that walking for a bit to stretch out my back would be a good idea. I would give myself about a minute of walking before I would jump back on, the irony was that when I was walking I found that I gained on a few riders ahead of me, only to just maintain or slip back once back on the bike!
As I rode up I thought back to when I worked for the Summit Road Company, and did press for the big Hillclimb the first time Tyler Hamilton won the event. I rode in the back of one of the vans with the doors open yelling splits to him as we went up, the only problem was the splits were junk as they were being called down to the driver via radio and then yelled to him from me and half the time I couldn’t hear the driver that well. Tyler seemed fine with that and went on to crush the record and drive away with an Audi A4. I thought of how fast he road up that hill, and how slow I was going. I decided I was having a much better time as I got to really enjoy the scenery!
The road is unrelenting, averaging 12% for 7.6 miles, with a finishing kick of over 22% that you have a hard time keeping the front wheel on the ground. You can see the road go up ahead of you and it can get discouraging, then you can see the road below you and your realize how far you have come, it’s pretty cool.
I saw my wife about 500 meters from the summit and she gave me a good boost of encouragement. I then knew all I had to do was make the finishing “wall”. As I started up the wall and struggled to keep my front wheel down I started to panic as I had removed my rear brake to “save weight” (how much does a set of Avid canti’s weigh?) and realized that if my front wheel came up and I started to go over I didn’t have a way to stop it- that was good motivation to push up and through as fast as possible.
I cleared the wall and road across the finish line to get my medal and famed fleece blanket. The winner had been up topside for over an hour, but all the racers are great about cheering everyone on. I found my wife and we did the walk down the stairs to the car where I got cleaned up and just sat and looked out and New Hampshire below my feet. It was a pretty amazing view, and one that was that much better because I earned it on a bike.
I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

First MTB Race of the season

It seems odd to be into July and to be finally doing my first race on dirt of the year, but that's how it worked out. I guess I should restate that and say first race off the pave as it was clearly not on dirt but rather in the mud.

So Tuesday was the first race in the Dakine Summer Series at Great Glen Trails. We had planned to arrive at about 5 or so and have myself and my two sons who are 5 & 10 race as well. At about 3PM I got a call from my wife asking my to check the radar as there was a large green blob moving towards us. Knowing that the rain was coming soon we decided to head to Great Glen sooner and arrived there about 4PM. The whole drive up was in the rain but as we pulled into the parking lot the rain subsided. I usually will pre-ride the course or at least do a lap on the short course with my kids as a warm up before racing, however I decided to just go out cold and try to get my race in before the skies opened up.

A couple of friends went off a few minutes before I did and I stood in the start house awaiting the count-down. Eli told me right before I was to go that he expected a 24 minute lap from me. I said "Eli, look, I have only one gear." He just smiled and then I heard the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go....

I was off. Within about 200 yards my heart rate was already at 167. I could feel that I was red lining right from the start. The course changes every year and this year even had some new singletrack. As I rode the mud and roots were wicked sloppy. About 1.5 miles in I came upon a friend who had started before me. She was off her bike trying to get through a really muddy almost bog like section at the entrance of Moose Alley. I figured that maybe she had just picked the wrong line and decided to just ride right through it. I hit it and it almost sucked me right in and threw me off my bike. I came to an abrupt halt and slowly churned through the peanut-butter like ooze and then proceeded on my way. That was almost a disaster so I decided to be a bit more careful as I approached other similar sections.

There was a good bit more of carriage roads before I came to the entrance to Whiplash, a section where I have had some great success riding it and other times great difficulty, including some very bad crashes. With that in mind I stared into it and made it to about the half way point until I decided it was much more prudent considering the conditions and my present heart rate of about 300 that I get off and try to run this section as opposed to ride it and break myself or my helmet, again.

I ran some, but not enough and got back on too soon, I got back off and ran some more and then got back on only to jump off yet again and finally start yelling at my dumb ass as I jogged along, the whole time thinking that the clock was going as I was farting around getting on and off my bike instead of riding.

Finally I was able to get on my bike and actually ride it. I completed Whiplash and headed out onto the carriage road, I had taken my glasses off due to the fog that appeared on them as I was running(walking). I tried to pull them out of my jersey pocket and put them on while going as fast as I could. It was not a good idea as I proceeded to hit a water bar with one hand on the handlebars and almost stuck the glasses in my eye and just plain crash. I averted that mishap and thought I was ready to head back to the start/finish area. My heart rate was still in the low 170's and had been there since almost the start with no let down. I figured I was going to struggle getting back in a good time and as I looked at my clock I was thinking I was looking at a time of about 27 minutes.

I peddled my bike as fast as I could considering what was left in the tank and was cruising along at a blistering 14 mph. I really could have used a few more gears at that moment but was stuck with the only one I had. AS I headed up the final hill I could really feel the legs starting the not feel good and my lungs were on fire. To top that all off I was thinking I was going to taste my lunch again shortly. Gotta love when you get to enjoy a meal twice.

AS I hit the tunnel to the home stretch I saw that I was still under 25 minutes. I drove for the line and came in at 25:01. Just missed the 24. Not too bad considering the amount of time off the bike and being spun out as much as I was. Oh well, that's racing on a single-speed.

After the race everything needed a good hose down and as I was loading the car up with all of our bikes Sven rolled in with his crew. I told Sven's oldest to make sure he took his time on his lap and she asked me what my time was, I fibbed and told her I put up a 30. Guess I wanted to give Sven some false sense of my time thinking he'd take it easy out there.

Overall I ended up in 8th p[lace in the expert division, but I think I was the top singlespeed finisher so that's cool.

My oldest son took second place in his division and our youngest who is 5 and was racing for the first time took first place in his division. Nice job fellas.

Next week is Week 2 of the series as well as the second race in the Red Jersey Race Series.

Good luck to Sven on the hill climb Saturday. Better him than me.


Newtons Revenge

This weekend is Newtons Revenge, the sibling to the Mount Washington Bicycle Hillclimb. Same course, same hill- different date, different name.
(racing to the top of this, yes there is a road- 7.6 miles, average grade 12%, gain 4400'
I haven't "trained" for the ride, other than riding. I don't have a goal, other than to finish on the same day I start. And until last night I wasn't nervous.

Race nerves- do they ever go away? I felt nerves before the Four on the Fourth running race just the other day- and I'm not a runner so I wasn't really "racing". I felt nerves getting ready for the first race of the Dakine Summer Race Series- which is about as laid back as you can get. I just get those butterflies when it's time to toe the line, yet I don't when I know we are going out for some epic ride- hmmmm.

So last night I began to tear apart my Salsa Chilli Con, which I found ironic as it is still in shakedown mode from the initial build. Off came the chain, cranks, derailleurs, and on went a MTB crank I had bought over the winter that after I got it I couldn't figure out why I had bought it- but it found it's home as it is a 180mm crank that has a small ring of 22t. The other chain rings came off and just the 22t remained.

Tonight I'll pull the cockpit apart as that bike is currently build with SRAM 10sp and I'm not throwing down for a SRAM XX cassette (at $300) so I'll use an old Dura Ace lever and a SRAM X9 for my rear shifting giving me a 11-32 cassette in the back. Then I'll get it all buttoned up and go up and down Chadbourne Hill a few times to make sure it all works. Then before the race I'll pull the rear brake off and save a few more grams- why- why not?

I thought of using my road bike, but knowing how next week is, I didn't want to have to find time to rebuild that bike for road riding- see there is an advantage to having a quiver of bikes!

Next week we have the Dakine race then on Thursday the second race of the Red Jersey Series- so in two weeks I'll have gotten in five races (one running, one hill climb, three mountain bike races)- jezzz that's almost like I'm using racing as "training".

Hopefully by the end of July I'll start feeling a bit better about 24 Hours of Great Glen. Right now I'm nervous about racing solo as I just not in shape. But a good three weeks of riding and racing may change my perception of that (or not)- either way I'll be at Great Glen and it'll be fun.

That's it for now.

Ride on.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So here was my race

Liz: "Dad, Dennis rode the course in 30 minutes- you better not take longer than that!"
Dad (Dad being me): "I'll try kiddo, but it's pouring and well I'm not fast anymore."
Liz: "Don't try that on me Dad."
Dad: "Ok, go watch your sister."

Eli: "You ready to rock this course like a hurricane?"
Me (feels weird to do refer to myself as Dad when talking about Eli): "Ummm, maybe?"
Eli: "5,4,3,2,1 go, go like the wind."
Me: actually I already couldn't speak, out of breath

Me: (in my head- and even in my head I sound out of breath)- "damn this is hard, watch that entrance, duh, ok, run, watch your shin, ouch f$*&cking pedal, you stupid bastard, ok get on go, go, go- this frikin hurts"
Me: (still in my head, later on course- Whiplash to be exact): "can that time be right, I'm at the top of the course and I'm at 15 minutes, damn I'm flying, I'm going to crush that Dennis Morgan- I'm going to crush him like potato chips on the floor of my car, I'm going to crus... oh shit- ground coming up quick. Ok back up, why did that happen, why can't I see, why is this cloud bank so think, wait it's my glasses, you dumb ass, take them off, into the pocket, where is the pocket, why are you like a retarded monkey drunk on skunked beer- why did I just think that, ok put the damn glasses in the pocket- now run, ok walk, but walk faster, back on the bike you sissy- there you go, hey I'm flying now- ok back off the bike, run, walk, back on, back off, this is getting stupid, go, go, ok ride the rest of this- wow look at that slug- I bet the slugs are loving this weather....."
Me: (in my head, back on gravel): "Oh look at this time, I'm killing it- I can be back in in 5 minutes, I'm the man, Lance ain't got shit on me, I'm so fas......oh crap, A LEFT, are you kidding me A LEFT, I could be so much faster if I went straight- argh, nobody would know if I went straight, just go straight- why are you going LEFT!!! You make some crap decisions in you life, but you do the right thing here- what the hell is wrong with you, ok just keep going, maybe you're not as fast as you thought, oh man another Left- are you kidding me- I can be fast through here- crap traction, don't nut yourself, who is coming up on me? Why are they coming up on me so fast? This sucks. There he goes- look at him all fit and trim and in a UNH jersey, I wonder if they have scholarships for cycling, I wonder if he dopes, I wonder if he's like the next Lance Armstrong, I'm so sick of hearing about Lance, almost as much as Michael, watch that root, duh...."

Me: (back on gravel)- "I can still crush Dennis, I can regain my crown as the fast guy formerly from Center Conway when you only consider a carefully selected group of people, I can get in by 28 minutes, oh I'm cranking now. Wait- a little piece of new single track, sweet, save some climbing, oh I can be in in under 27 minutes- I'm the Mac Daddy! Wonder what Mac is doing? The prick is probably in the hot tub drinking a beer, argh, and I'm racing in the rain in 52 degree temps in July- I'm just stupid, why is there a camel over there? Ok crank this hill, damn I'm going fast, damn I just blew up, damn just get me in, here comes the finish- is Eli even paying attention try to say something, can't, he'll see me- ok- DONE."

Me: (out loud): "I kicked Morgan's Ass!"

Liz: "Dad you beat 30 minutes, but Dennis did it in 25 something."
Dad: "Argh, are you kidding me. Oh well, I can live with that."

Fast forward to this morning- I click on a Garmin Connect link, it shows 24:41

Me: "Damn, I've got work to do. Maybe I should write a funny thing to send to Dennis letting him know that I tried like hell to crush him, but instead was the one crushed, yeah that's a good idea- it'll only take a minute"

Moral of the story- if I can cut the amount of time it took me to write this damned thing- I'd be faster than you!

By the way- it's raining.


Monday, July 06, 2009

How did the Fourth of July come and go?

How did that happen. One minute it's March and now it's July 6th? Hmmmm, I need to look into this as I think this whole Obama and change that has messed with the time space continuum, might need to invest in a flux capacitor.

Anyway summer is "officially here"- we don't think of the summer solstice as the start of summer, we use the 4th of July. And for good reason, this year we were still in long tights and booties up to the 4th of July as "spring" really sucked this year. But now the sun is out (for now) and maybe the trails will dry out by next year.

The summer race series begins up at Great Glen tomorrow night. It'll give me a chance to get away from the tour on TV (and NOT in HD in Maine!!! grumble, grumble, grumble).

The tour could shape up to be interesting, or Contador is just going to crush everyone and just make Lance mad- that might be funny. I know Lance is trying to say he's ok riding for the strongest man- but that's because he's never had to do it. Ok he did at teh TOC for Levi- but that was in the winter- we never got to see him ride back up from the cars with 12 water bottles stuffed down his jersey- that's what I want to see.

I've got another race next weekend (two races in a week- I feel so pro)- but this one is a hillclimb and I'm scared. 4400 feet in seven miles- gulp. Should be ok, building up a super low geared bike this week just for the occasion. Hopefully it works! Who knows with all this racing and tour watching maybe I'll start gettign some speed and endurance for that silly 24HOGG in August. I hope the course dries out by then (I'm not kidding- it could take that long!)

Back here at work we're still working on getting the last few kids in the door (so if you know of 18-19 year old male who is still wondering why he didn't get into Harvard and is still looking for options next fall- send him my way!) I'm starting to think about trying to build a cyclocross program here at Bridgton Academy. Not sure if we'll start this year, but I'm thinking it could be fun. There are quite a few races fairly close- and I'd bet I could work a deal with a bike company to get a few rigs here cheap- hmmmmmm. Food for thought at least!

Ok that's if from here. Hoping to get out for another ride with JJ in the near future (he's gonna kick my ass tomorrow night- you heard it here first!). We hit up Kingdom Trails last Friday, and it was good. It was slick, but still super fun. That being said- they do have roots over at Kingdom, if I tell you they don't- then I am lying!

Ride safe.