Monday, November 23, 2009

A Ride With K

The weather had me wondering if it really was November. Blue sky, mild temps, dry ground. Hmmmm, maybe there is something to this global climate change that has an upside (until it stops snowing, grumble, grumble).

I guilted my wife into going for a ride. At first she was enthused, then not so much. Then she was enthused, until I said we'd be out for over an hour. But she rallied and we headed out the door. The temps were comfortable, but she doesn't ride very often so she wasn't sure what to wear- it took a bit but soon we were moving and she was comfortable with the hat and glove selection and we began to pick of the kilometers.

This was her maiden voyage on the cross bike I had built up for her. Big Al and World HQ had pointed me to a screaming deal on a KHS cross frame and an Origin 8 Carbon fork. I looked at it as a deal I couldn't pass up and used it as a good way to hang an older Dura Ace kit on a bike, and not have it be my bike- everyone wins!

Here is bike post ride (K manages to stay much cleaner than I do on a ride- how does she do that?)

Anyway we headed out on part of the TWAFHGGPT route and soon found an old car. Here Karen is checking it out, thinking it just needs a bit of work.

We tooled along enjoying the gravel and great weather, and I kept pointing up to where we were heading. K wasn't so sure and I kept expecting her to be way behind me and walking, but instead she was glued to my rear wheel and forced me to ride harder than I had planned- oh well.

We eventually got to the top and enjoyed some great views (unfortunatly the 15 day forecast says on TWAFHGGPT that we will have snow and clouds so maybe no view).

We ran into a group of four wheelers, and much to my surprise it was a group of women. Not sure why that surprised me, but it did- good to see them out having fun.

We tooled on down to Vacationland Campground and followed a snowmobile trail to another road that took us down the western side of Crystal lake. At first K thought for sure I was going to get us lost, so I asked her, "do I ever take you on routes where I'm not sure where I am going?" Her answer was just a look. Ok so maybe she has a point. But in this case I knew where we were.

We cruised it home and spent the rest of the day watching football, running around outside with the dogs and kids on the athletic fields that are empty right now as the kids are all home for Thanksgiving break, and then I found some Geary's Winter and the Pat's game and went into full on American Male mode.

It was great to get out with K and I think she'll do it again, as long as I promise to know where I'm going.

Ride On. DEA

State Lines

Getting the state line is not near as much fun when you are riding by yourself. Regardless Sunday afternoon was like a carbon copy of Saturday. Did another hour and twenty in the woods. Almost 1k of climbing over 10 miles.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

DEA making me feel guilty

I was sitting on my couch watching the Ohio State/Michigan game when I saw the DEA had put up a post mentioning he was going for a ride. It was a beautiful Fall afternoon, unseasonably warm in fact. I hemmed and hawed about going so I txt'd A1 to see if he wanted to go. I figured that if he was in I would go. He was not. He had kid duty. I was on my own. It was about 3 and I thought I had about an hour and a half before sunset.

One goal of the ride was to avoid having to cross any significant water. I got the SS and started out. It was really a nice day. Hard to believe it was late November. I wore my blaze orange shirt over my jersey as it is full on deer season here in New Hampshire and I didn't want to end up on the hood of some pickup truck being mistaken for a trophy buck.

It was pretty quiet in the woods. Did not see any hunters but did see a couple pickups parked with no one inside so I knew there were some armed fellas in the woods with me. Always seems that my head is on a swivel when I know this.

The ride was good. A touch over 10 miles of riding in an hour and 17 minutes of riding with 935 feet of climbing. Even better, Ohio State beat Michigan and I didn't get my feet wet.

Hoping to get out tomorrow with A1, we shall see. Have to make a run to Sunday River to take my oldest there for a 3 day ski racing camp. Just doesn't seem like we should be skiing yet.


Thinking riding, writing skiing

It's that time of year when I need to transition into a ski writer for my weekly ski columns in the Mountain Ear (they usually end up over here a couple weeks later). Of course right now I am getting ready to head out for a ride while writing about skiing- it's sort of messing with my head. See I have a last minute goal to put in another 300 outdoor miles in before 2009 goes the way of fiscal respnosibility in Washington. This week looks to be in my favor as it'll be warm and skiing will be on hold, but I'm not planning on piling in 300 miles in a week. Once we get to cold temps and snow on the ground my two wheel desire will transition to a two plank desire and I'll be all about skiing for awhile (except for the Gravel Grind of course!)

With that said- today it's about the bike. So time to kit up and head out the door. I'm hoping I may get in some time on the trails tomorrow with JJ- time will tell, I'll just need to convince him that it isn't ski season just yet first!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Gravel Grind promo

Ok so I shot some video with my cell phone that will likely make you sick trying to watch, but figured I'd post it (unedited.

However- some great views and good gravel- keep the 6th open!

TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Some might think I am accident prone, I like to think of it as giving 110% all the time and suffering the consequences. As a result of this, I have had much more than my share of injuries. From dislocated ankles, a couple knee surgeries, to multiple dislocations of both elbows and one elbow surgery, broken bone in my left elbow, an avulsion fracture in my left shoulder, 3rd degree AC joint separation, and 4 (maybe more, lost count) shoulder dislocations. Gravity hates me. Luckily for me I have gone a year or so now without another major crash (knock on wood) that has resulted in hospitalization. Problem is my left shoulder is such a mess at this point that it has trouble functioning properly. It looks funny as my collarbone doesn't connect to the shoulder anymore. It makes terrible noise when I use it. It is generally weaker than my right shoulder and structurally is unsound. So much so that I have actually dislocated my shoulder rolling over in bed and reaching for my alarm clock. Not a great way to wake ones self up in the morning.

Where this leaves me is deciding what to do about the shoulder. I spent some time last weekend talking with my orthopedic surgeon about options. See I don't even really have a primary care MD. I have a surgeon cause that's who I see most often. I don't get sick, I break myself instead.

So the Dr. tells me that with the mess I have for a shoulder that I can expect arthritis to start by the time I am 45. With my limited math skills, that is only a few years off. The second issue is that unless I resign myself to new sports like couch surfing I am going to continue to dislocate the shoulder and continue to make it worse. So I think I have reached the conclusion that I need to go under the knife, again. The surgery on the shoulder unfortunately has a 3 month recovery time.

3 months is a long time to be out of action. Particularly when your activities are dictated by the calendar and the weather. Warm dry weather is riding season, cold and snow is ski season. That leaves me mud season & black fly season as the most probable time to get cut. Last ski weekend of the year will most likely by March 27 & 28 at Sugarloaf. That would mean April, May & June would be rehab and I could be back at 100% or so in mid summer. Other options are to get it done now and miss this ski season or try to hold out and get it done at the end of next summer and then rehab in the fall and be ready for winder 2011. Wow that seems like a long ways off.

I sure hope we have a good winter.


And So Begins the Slide...

Actually the slide began about 17 years ago when I came to grips with the idea that I would never make the big time in either Nordic skiing or bike racing. Ever since then I've struggled with my inner American and justified those "Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun" by getting out for a good ride or ski (depending on the Earth's current position relevant to the sun). As I got older and metabolism continued to find it's inner tortoise and my "means" gave me the opportunity to enjoy darker beers, I found that I needed things to scare me a bit to stay somewhat fit.

For a long time it was simply being at the beach without a shirt on, my how fat of 10 years ago would seem so ripped now! When that motivation gave way I found ski or bike races were good motivation. 50km ski races worked for a bit, until I theorized that since I've done them a few times in the past that I'm sure I can make it regardless of training. 24 hour bike racing worked for a bit, until I found that beer makes for great carbo loading and that the podium is overrated anyway.

Then I found the one thing that did sort of keep me on track- cyclocross. Despite the short nature of the races, the sheer volume of pain and the needed speed- I found there was no way to fake my way through them. Based on the my previous comment that the podium is overrated, I have relegated myself to being a mid to back of the pack racer, however you still need to bust ass just to make it around the course and to try to either not get lapped or at least not get lapped until the very end. Racing with your heart rate at 180 bpm for 45 minutes caused you to think that a bit of training is a good thing so that your wife doesn't have to find out that you might have forgotten to mail in that life insurance policy payment (don't worry honey, I did pay it- honest!)

This brings me to my point. My cross racing season has ended. Since then I've been conducting a scientific taste test between the various 12 pack samplers put out by Smutty Nose, Shipyard, and Long Trail (results forthcoming). My lights have been charged and my cold weather night riding kit sits at the ready- but the motivation has gone the way of fiscal responsibility in Washington. And so the slide begins.

Meaning I'm looking for a winter event, something to get me fired up. The Canadian Ski Marathon is one, as is the crazy ass Coureur de Bois 90km race that Dave Mark (original owner of the Red Jersey) is involved with out in Colorado. Or maybe it's finding an off-road stage race like the Trans-Sylvania Epic that takes place in the spring could do the trick. Who knows but I need to find something to get me fired up, especially since I've found I can doctor photos of myself in photoshop and past them to Facebook and help make myself look all fit- a great way to keep those high school and college buddies thinking that you're still getting it done in the gym.

In other news- working on the TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder. I'm sure A1 and JJ will be in attendance. Doc Leband is hoping to make it as will Chris Ames and Brian Roche (I hope that by putting their names out on the interwebs they'll feel shamed into riding). I'm hoping to either Sunday Dec 6th or Sunday Dec 13th work- but we'll keep you posted.

Until then keep the rubber side down and ride safe.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Porky Gulch Classic

I showed up. I raced. I raced again. I showed up late. I raced with the big boys. I am now very tired.

More on that later.


Photos shot by world class photographer Ryan Triffitt.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Epic

I had big plans of riding Sunday with DEA over near his place in Maine. Unfortunately that didn't work out due to his work schedule. Luckily for me Chris was looking to do a ride this weekend so we made plans to ride from his house on Birch Hill. We each sent out invites to a bunch of folks, but as we got ready to roll out this morning, only Eric joined our trek. I had checked all my gear the night before and made sure I had my Garmin GPS packed as we planned to ride some stuff I have never been on before. I had my bike all ready and put the GPS into the mount on the bars and turned it on. It chirped and gave me a message, "Battery Low" was being shown on the screen. I said some choice words and took it off my bike and tossed it into my car. Its amazing how tech reliant I have become over the past 3 years riding with the GPS. I am always looking at it for distance traveled, elevation gained, speed and heart rate data. Without it I feel quite lost (not that I ever use it for directions), but it isn't always a bad thing.

Chris has a trail right from his front door that connects him to the Cedar Creek trail network. It was really windy last night and as a result most of the leaves that were on the trees were now on the ground. There were sections where it was actually hard to follow the trail. After a little over a mile into the ride Chris came upon a large pine that had blown down across the trail and tried to ride around it through a bunch of smaller downed branches. He made it almost the entire way around it and then he went down in one of those slow motion crashes that seem to happen and there's nothing you can do to stop it. He hit the ground pretty good and wacked a tree or branch or something like that as he impacted the ground. It left a pretty nasty mark on his lower leg just above his ankle. Luckily the damage all appeared to be internal. Either way it hurt a bunch. He walked it aff for a couple minutes and then we got going again.

After a good couple of loops in Cedar Creek we started the long climb up one of the National Forest fire roads to High Street which is not much more of a road than the WMNF fire road. This climb is a few miles of continuous gravel grind. Once you hit the gate at the end of the fire road and turn right onto High Street you have another mile plus of climbing up the end of the road and the beginning of the trail head to the Mineral Site Trail.

The trail had sections where it was deep with leaves and other areas where it was mostly pines and there were very few leaves on the ground which was a nice change. We had almost reached the trail known as Sherwood Forest when Chris caught a slick root beneath the leaves funny and went down. This time it seemed pretty clean and he had no further injuries from the crash. We got moving and started the fast entrance to Sherwood Forest. All three of us were flying along pretty well and then all of the sudden the trail was covered in a very deep blanket of leaves. The leaves made steering your bike much like steering a boat. Control was somewhat lacking. This trail is all downhill and has some really fun sections.

Eric and Chris, both better downhillers than I, which I attribute to my numerous ER visits, pulled ahead of me a bit. I then came into a switchback section and there was Chris, stopped in the middle of the trail. As I rolled up he flipped his bike over and showed my his rear wheel, it was flat, not low but completely flat. Eric was ahead of us and didn't hear us yell that we were stopped to change the flat tire. Once the tube was out we could see the slice in the tube that looked like it might have happened when he caught the root minutes before.

Chris pulled out his spare tube and pulled the wheel off and started to change the tube out. He started to re-inflate the tube once it was swapped and it just didn't seem to want to hold any air. He pulled the tube out of the tire and we examined it and found that alos had a hole in it. What we didn't know was if it had a hole in it before Chris put it into the tire or if it got the hole during the installation, either way it wouldn't hold air. Neither of us had a patch kit either.

Eric now came riding up as he realized that we were delayed due to something. We now had a problem, we had no more 26" tubes. Eric runs a 29er as do I and he runs a tubeless setup. I had a spare 29er tube and I pulled it out and tossed it to Chris as I figured it was better than walking. Unfortunately once Chris had it in place and started to inflate it he had the same issue with it as he did with his tube. We were now thinking he was going to be walking back home. Luckily for us two other riders came up the trail and were a great help and gave us a tube to use. This one held air. Yahoo. Unfortunate thing was that now we had no spare between the three of us.

Once we finished Sherwood Forest we had another fire road climb. A little less than a mile but by this point we were all feeling our legs a bit. The next trail section I think is called the Carol Reed Trail. It has a nice water crossing over a 2x10 that was a little sketchy. We all just went for it and made it without issue. I had not ridden this trail before so this was nice to ride. It was a twisty rocky rooty trail that had a gradual climb in elevation. We came to a junction of the Stoney Ridge Trail. We went to the left onto the Upper Stoney Ridge Trail This trail was nasty. It goes up and up and just when you think you are done, it turns and goes up some more.

I was very glad that Chris had said I would want a bike with gears today instead of my singlespeed. I was in full on granny gear mode and happy to have it. After a good bit of pretty slow climbing and a little hike-a-bike we came to some slick-rock.

This section I was told is known as the Whitehorse Ledge Trail. The slickrock was pretty cool and very steep. We climbed across it and then dipped back into the woods. I though we had seen what we were going to see. The climbing unfortunately was not over and we worked our way towards the southern end of Whitehorse Ledge.

I was riding the trail and it looked like it just went into the blue. As I approached the clearing Chris yelled out to make sure to turn and its a long way down if you go straight. I was going nice and slow and made my left turn to follow the top edge of the ledge.

This is what Whitehorse Ledge Looks like in a few weeks with a dusting of snow.

As you can see in the above shot there is some significant exposure up on top. It is pretty cool being up there. Here's a few Shots from the top with a view back to the East and North with Echo Lake below, and North Conway to the East.

Riding slickrock is not all that common around our area as it seems it is much more common in places like Moab. It was a lot of fun to ride across, something new for me for sure. I had a 3 hour time window when we left Chris' house and it was about 11AM when we hit the top of Whitehorse Ledge. We decided it was time for us to start back so I could make my 12PM appointment. No more than a half a mile into the ride, while on the Stoney Ridge Lollypop trail section it was my turn for some bad luck. I was descending with Chris behind me and I was off my saddle and was just beginning to get seated again and as my weight hit the seat it gave way.

I have been on a few rides where this has happened to other folks, DEA and NK for a couple, but it has never happened to me before today. One difference for me than what happened to DEA and NK was that I didn't break the seat post bolt that holds the saddle onto the top of the seatpost. I stopped and got off my bike and looked down. My saddle was sort of sitting on top of my rear tire askew. I picked it up and saw that it had broken clean off at the top of the carbon fiber seatpost.

The aluminum insert into the post that attaches to the saddle had snapped. We were still quite a few miles from Chris' house and I was looking at my watch knowing I had about 40 minutes to make it to his house and then to pick up my kid from lacrosse practice at noon.

I put the seatpost into my pack and bunjied the saddle to the back of my pack. I tried to ride as well as I could but you never realize how much you use the saddle of a bike when you ride, even when standing. Without it I was really struggling on the rocky rooty trails. The trail came to a clearing and I decided that if I was to head into the clearing I would be able to find pavement and then ride roads back to Chris' house. I left Chris and Eric and made my way towards the roads.

I got into my big ring so that I could peddle and have enough resistance to keep moving. After about 20 minutes of riding this way I was completely spent. I made the turn onto Birch Hill Road to Chris' place. It is all up hill to his house and I was suffering. I looked at my watch and saw that I had 15 minutes left. I figured I could walk the last steep section of the road and have about 8 minutes to make it.

As I walked I decided I should call my wife and tell her I was probably going to be a few minutes late due to all of our issues of the day. As I grabbed my phone I saw I had a text message which told me that I didn't have to pick up my kid. It was a huge relief. I walked the last couple hundred yards to the top and then got onto the peddles and coasted into Chris' driveway. As I rolled in I could see that Chris and Eric had beaten me back.

It was a long and very tough ride that was filled with a few unfortunate and unexpected things, but overall it was a lot of fun. Chris had his GPS and it said we had done about 15 miles and over 2,330 feet of climbing.

Now that its been a few hours since the ride, I am wicked tired, a good night for the hot tub me thinks.