Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sunday Ride

Planning a Sunday morning ride over in the Cedar Creek area. What I'm told is there is a trail that goes across White Horse Ledge and has some nice exposure. We'll have to see. Heading out around 8:30 AM which is like 9:30 with the time change. Anyone who's interested, let me know by sending me a txt to 6036628768 and I'll give you directions on the meet up.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Porky Gulch Classic

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2009

Contact: Ryan Triffitt
Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center
Office: 603.466.2333 x 177 / Cell: 207.837.5045

Porky Gulch Classic: The Most Unique Cycling Race in New England

Pinkham Notch, NH—The best all-around cyclist in New England will be crowned on Saturday & Sunday, November 7 & 8 at Great Glen Trails during the Porky Gulch Classic. Three stages over two days, the Porky Gulch Classic combines a hillclimb, criterium and cyclocross to make the most unique cycling race in New England.

On Saturday, the Porky Gulch Classic begins with the Toughest Two, a two-mile hillclimb up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, home of the toughest hillclimbs in the world. In the afternoon, the competition shifts to Story Land in Glen for the Story Land Criterium as cyclists race through the famous amusement park—it’s a wild ride. Sunday morning, the action heads back to Great Glen Trails for the cyclocross portion, the Rockpile Rampage. Cyclocross is a fall and early winter form of bike racing that combines elements of mountain biking, road cycling and cross country running—with some steeplechase mixed in for good measure.

Points are awarded based on finish order in each event. The cyclist with the most combined points after the three events is declared the champion. The race features categories for riders of all skill levels from experts to beginners, and prizes are awarded in each category.

Porky Gulch Classic Schedule:
Saturday, 11/7:
Toughest Two: 9:30 am All Categories
Story Land Criterium: 12:00pm Beginners, 1:00pm Intermediate and 2:00 pm Elite

Sunday, 11/8:
Rockpile Rampage: 9:30am Beginners, 10:30am Intermediate and 11:30 am Elite

Complete information and registration is available at

For those looking to get a sneak peek at the cyclocross course, the ‘Cross in the Glen Cyclocross Series continues on Sunday, November 1 at Great Glen Trails. More information is available at


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mud and Sun

Saturday I headed over to New Gloucester, ME, to take part in day one of the Downeast Cyclocross race. I needed to go over and face a demon from last year, but as I rolled onto the Pineland campus I was directed to a totally different part of the facility, so while it was still Pineland it wasn't the same spot as previous years- oh well.

I should mention the temp when I arrived was 38 degrees and it was pouring. Good times. The course this year included much more cow shit and a ride through a barn, which was nice as you got at least a little bit of warmth and dryness for about 4 seconds per lap.

I tried to warm up, but the weather was such that I really just wanted to sit in the van and wait for the start. I rode a lap and a half and decided that hot coffee and some Black Eyed Peas in the van was a much better option. I headed back, cleaned up the bike a bit, stripped off my muddy over pants and jacket so I didn't totally trash my car, and kicked back for about 20 minutes while I waited for the clock to approach 9:30am. Usually before a race I feel like time is flying and I don't have time to get everything done, this go around the clock just seemed to not move, which was bad as I was cooling down and loosing motivation to go out and race.

Just then the rain stopped and the clock had gotten close enough to 9:30 that I grabbed my helmet and gloves, slugged down the last of the coffee and headed over to the start. The lack of rain was short lived, but now the excitement of the race was taking over.

I got into the staging area, near the back and found Marc D'Amour who rides for the hosting club, Downeast. Marc and I have been riding "against" each other for a few years and it's always good to see him at a race. We took our place near the back and began the typical "anti-smack" talk, who was going to be the slowest, how many laps until we got lapped, etc. Nothing like lowering expectations before a race! We (35+ Cat 4's) were set to go about a minute after the Senior 4's, so there would be plenty of rabbits to chase.

The whistle was blown and we were off. Surprisingly Marc and I both moved up through the field pretty quick on the start, which caught me off guard. This isn't to say I saw the front of the race, more like I saw what the back of the pack looked like from inside the pack instead of taking up the caboose position. The course had plenty of passing spots so I felt better letting the race come to me instead of blowing up right out of the blocks.

The course was wet, muddy, slippery, muddy, and rutty. It was one of those races where there was ZERO rest, as even on the flats you were going hard just to keep moving. If I was a runner I would have jumped off and run on the flats and likely been passing people in the process. Instead I sat and ground away at the gears trying to find a line that enabled me to feel like I was moving.

I started to get my heart back down into my chest a bit the legs began to remember what it was like to pedal hard. We came into the first set of barriers and somehow the connection between my brain and the rest of my body took a short break and I'm not sure how to explain what I tried to do (I can tell you it didn't work). Basically I unclipped my right foot, started to swing it around the back of the bike, at the same time I took my right hand and reached down to grab the top tube- while my right leg was still coming around the back, all the while my weight was shifting to my left and the barrier was coming up fast. At that point I woke up and actually said something out loud about my apparent attempt at combining modern dance with cross racing, I said this just as my front wheel plowed into the barrier and by some stupid luck I came out of my left pedal and managed to get that foot over the barrier on the ground safely while the bike launched up and over the barrier with a little bit of guidance from my hands. Somehow I stayed upright and got over the second barrier and back on my bike thanking my lucky stars and feeling much more awake!

The rest of the race was a test of lines and an effort to keep momentum on my side. I was pleased with my bike handling, as I took efforts to really find my limits on some of the corners. I spent a good amount of time sliding through turns, barely hanging on, but keeping the Chilli Con upright. It gave me confidence as the race went on and I got faster each lap through some of the trickier turns.

With a lap to go I got a Cat 4 rider in my sites and planned to catch and pass him on the final climb. I had been cleaning that climb each lap and passing riders who where trying to run (unfortunately many of them would then pass me back on the following mud bog), I was sure I could make the catch on that spot and then hold him off to the line. However I struggled on the climb and lost traction and momentum about half way up and watched him pull away. I assumed I wouldn't be able to catch him at that point but as we came into the finish S turns I found myself on his wheel and I put in the effort to go by. I'm sure he was wondering why I was trying to pass him for such a low placing, but I had two good reasons- one it was a race, and two- I was really racing him to the bike wash so I could then get changed and warm!

It was a good ride and it gave me a bit more confidence in my bike handling. It also gave me a pile of nasty laundry and a fair amount of bike cleaning to do. It took me a good couple of hours to feel warm and comfy again, but by Saturday afternoon I was feeling human again and looking forward to racing at Great Glen on Sunday.

Sunday morning rolled around and this time the entire family was going to head to the race as the weather was looking much nicer.

We rolled out, a touch behind schedule, and I had promised the girls a "treat", which translated into a stop at Burger King for some breakfast. I chose to pass on the BK feast (which was hard to do!)

We made it to GGTOC and I was met with a bit of grief as registration had closed already (oops), but it turned out to be just a bit of grief as they took good care of me and I got a chance to race. I did a very short warm up and then lined up for the Elite/Intermediate race. This is a course I know pretty well having raced there for about five years. At the start I took my familiar place near the back and again had an interesting go at the first set of barriers. Looks like that is something I'll need to work on. Soon it was a bit of a battle for the back of the pack with Michelin Mike and a guy racing on a SS and yours truly took turns riding at the back. The course was pretty fast and (for the most part) dry.

There was a fair amount of wind (surprise, surprise- wind in Pinkham Notch)and for the most part I rode either alone or did short stints with MM and the SS guy. My wife and kids where on the hill above the tunnel and K was doing a good job of not letting me slack off to much. I was feeling a bit fatigued and couldn't really get my heart rate up into the numbers I usually see when racing, but as the laps ticked off I did manage to pull away from MM and SS guy.

The course was fun and the weather was great. This is the first of three races up at GGTOC. I'll likely miss this weekend, but will then be ready for Porky Gulch Classic the following weekend, looking forward to that!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ready to Get Wet

The game plan is to race tomorrow at Pinelands (in cold, pouring rain)in the Downeast Cyclocross Race and then head up to Great Glen on Sunday for the kick off race for their series. This will be a good warm up for Porky Gulch, perhaps one of my favorite races of the year (despite never riding real well).

Looks like the weather will be good on Sunday, but tomorrow may be a sufferfest of cold and wet- should be fun!

Gotta get back to building K's new cross bike- I'll uploads pics soon.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Casco Bay Cross

I headed to Portland this past weekend to take part in the 1st Annual Casco Bay Cross presented by What a fantastic venue, right on the Eastern Prom with Casco Bay as a backdrop, a playground in the middle of the set up and a kick ass course.

My family made the trip with me and while getting ready my wife asked if she could do anything to help. I asked her to take my spare wheels to the pit for me, she looked at me and laughed- the sort of “my husband is being a poseur” laugh that only a wife can provide. In a way I agreed. I had succumbed to the “buy my way to fast” adage that I hated 20 years ago when I first started racing. When the older guys would show up with the most zooted out stuff but a lack of race fitness. Well guess what- I’m thumbing my nose at my 16 year old self ‘cuz I like all my cycling toys, especially my Salsa Chilli Con Crosso- even if I am slow these days.

Anyway I was darn glad I had brought that extra set of wheels- more on that in a moment. I warmed up on the trainer and tried to figure out what to wear- shorts or knickers, light long sleeve jersey or the heavy one. I went with knickers and the heavy jersey. I was plenty warm, but not overly, so I was happy with my decision.
The course started with a mild climb on pavement then jumped onto grass for a few 180 type turns, then a fast (or it was fast for some) stretch down to the first of many off camber turns. It was here that the Pit was located, which was good to know because I was soon going to need it. I was near the back of the back at the start but felt I’d get a chance to move up once I had a lap into my legs.

Little did I know that ¼ of the way through the first lap I was going to tear out the sidewall to my rear tire, and while it didn’t flat, it did urge me to ride very gently back to the pit as I wasn’t sure when it was going to blow as the tube was making its way out of the casing, I’m assuming to enjoy the fresh ocean air. The tire was thub dubbing inside the frame and driving me nuts, but I nursed it back to the backside entrance to the pit- where Craig Harrison was yelling at me to go faster on the descent, which I was riding very slow trying not to blow the wheel out completely.

I got to the top of the run up and yelled to see if I could Pit from that side (the sign said yes- but I was a bit cross-eyed from the run up- about the only place I’d been able to go all out). Big Al jumped over to help me take out the rear wheel- I think I tried to make a joke about Cadel Evans and his wheel change at the Vuelta- or maybe I made that joke in my head to myself- not sure. But soon I was off- after a bit of wrestling with the straddle cable.

I was in last place- but plenty of people to chase! So off I went. Soon I’d caught one rider and was moving up on another- the main pack was well up the course- so I was in a bit of a TT, but that was ok as the course was so much fun the ride. I took lap 2 and 3 fairly clean and felt I was gaining on a few riders who were now in striking distance.

On a remount I felt the front wheel slide as I came down on the bike, and a second latter the thub dub again, this time my front wheel (which was good as I didn’t have a third rear wheel)- argh! I nursed the bike back around the course- losing ground and again taking up last place. Another wheel change, and then a big effort as I headed out for my bell lap.

I had one guy in my sites, fellow rider Herb Keller, and I gave it all I had to catch him- after all I had paid my race fee- so I was supposed to race right? I felt pretty good, but realized I really didn’t have any top end speed at all (maybe I should work on that).

I finished up and the girls wanted to know why I kept “popping” tires. K laughed and said that it was a good thing I had brought extra wheels. I looked at the wheels and thought- maybe I should have ridden with more air (check that- I know I should have ridden with more air) and need to look at the where the brake pads engage the rim. Then I looked up and took in the view. Casco Bay at our feet, cross racing at our backs- it doesn’t get much better.

Kudos to everyone who worked on the race- job well done. I’m sure we’ll see it again next year. Thanks to Big Al for helping me in the Pit and thanks to my wife and kids for coming out and cheering. Can’t wait for the next race!

Ride on,


Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to the races.

I get back to racing tomorrow. It'll be good to go out and ride hard, although I know it's going to hurt- a lot. It's that reality check that I sometimes think I crave. To know that you're not quite as fit as you might think you are, and to give you a reason to go out and ride more. That, and of course the sheer grin factor of racing your bike as fast as you can. I can't fly- so racing my bike is as close as I'll ever get (I won't be a birdman- although it does look cool).

I'm wondering if my wife will get a bit of an itch to race tomorrow. If she doesn't I'm sure my oldest will. With that in mind I ordered up a cross bike that the two of them can fight over. had a screaming deal on a KHS frame and a full carbon Origin 8 fork, so I took the plunge and will build it up with a Dura-Ace kit I've gut literally lying around. It'll be a pretty nice set up, and if nothing else will give K an awesome gravel grinding rig.

Got in my first cold night ride of the year last night. Full snivel gear, and I was glad I had it all. I wore my winter Pearl Shoes, but no booties. My feet were ok but by the end (out for just over an hour) I was starting to loose feeling in my feet- but had I had on my booties they would have been fine. I still feel like a cold night ride should give you double fitness as it is "tough"- but alas you get the same workout as a daytime ride. Oh well.

So that's it at the moment- looking forward to giving a race report after this weekend. As well looking forward to building up K's new bike.

Ride on.


Monday, October 12, 2009

A Gravel Grind Type of Weekend

I got out for a couple of good rides this weekend,which was nice considering my ass was starting to forget what a bike seat felt like. On Saturday I grabbed the Chilli Con and headed out for a ride with no real idea about where I was going to go. I chose to hit up every gravel road I could find, and then veer off onto jeep roads if they looked passable. I "found" some great terrain that I hadn't ridden in probably 15 years or so and connected several dots in my memory, as I explored trails that I have been wondering about for the past couple years. Many of these were trails I'd roll by and tell myself that I thought I knew where it went, but wasn't quite sure- well now I'm sure. I ended up getting in about 20 miles on Saturday and was quite pleased with the adventure. The only guilt was that I didn't shoot the soccer game at work, oh well. (The team ended up winning handily, pretty much just playing keep away in the second half, this years soccer team is pretty much dominating the prep school schedule- ok enough about work).

Sunday I talked K into going out with me for a gravel grind on the mountain bikes. Per my usual MO I ended up tearing apart her bike and "fixing" things that didn't need to be fixed. It almost cost me my riding partner as by the time I went back in to see if she was ready she was almost asleep. She rallied and we headed out for about an hour of easy spinning through a fantastic fall day here in Maine. The leaves have really popped, in some cases have gone by- but it was a great day to be out on the trails.

K looked at it as a recon mission as she is looking for longer running routes that aren't just on pavement- we found her a great 8 mile loop (I won't be going with her, unless I ride while she runs- which is possible).

After that I headed out for about 30 minutes of work on the cross bike- plenty of barrier sessions and off camber corners. It felt good- but I also felt slow- oh well.

First cross race of the year next weekend- still trying to decide which one- but it looks like this one. A good chance to fly the colors.

Ride on.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

A screaming season pass deal.

If you are like me and have this pesky thing called work chewing up the vast majority of your daylight hours, yet find that skiing just on the weekends isn't quite satisfying your skiing needs- then check this season pass deal out from Shawnee Peak.

Shawnee Peak has most of their mountain lit up, so you're not skiing on only a couple of trails. They do a nice job grooming in the later afternoon so the mountain is in good shape for night skiing. Plus they are only about an hour from Portland or 25 minutes from North Conway.

It's the mountain I grew up skiing at so I have a soft spot for it, but even it that weren't the case I'd still say it's a hill you don't want to miss.

I do think this pass deal does run out in about a week, so if you're interested don't delay!

Time to go clean my bike.