Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Great TWAFHGG In the Books

It was cold, but not too cold (mid 20's), the gravel roads were clear of snow (but not of ice!), the crew was eager (to get back and eat), and most of us (well maybe only me) had enough extra "padding" to ensure that we were going to stay warm for the duration.

Folks started showing up at around 9ish, well not really considering CW lives 40 feet away, so I guess he was there much earlier as I'm sure he slept in his own bed, but he was over the property line and in my yard around 9am looking to air up his bike. He knew where the pump was so off he went, only to return a short time later holding the torn off schrader valve in his hand.

Now if felt like a TWAF ride, as we had busted gear for me to fix! Of course I quickly realized I didn't have any schrader valve tubes and his bike is 8speed so I didn't have a wheel that would work. Instead we opted to just put him on another bike, this is exactly why having a quiver is so important!

Jon showed up a few minutes later and gets the award for the longest drive, making the trip from Waterbury, VT. We then had a few riders bail, Mike the Weeble took a fall on ice the night before that had him questioning his recently rebuilt shoulder (so he gets a pass) and Bishop bailed because, well we really don't know why but he did. However the crew had a final count of six, and the number six represented the final count of riders. No more than six, but certainly one more than five.....

The count was: Jon Conti, Alan Ashenfelter, Frank Ostrow, Chris Webb, Grady Vigneau, and myself. By about 9:50am we headed out and within 5 seconds a few people were cold. For those who haven't ridden a bike in cold temps the issue of windchill becomes apparent very quickly. Unlike Nordic skiing where you're upper body is actually doing some work, on a bike your upper body gets cold easily without making sure you've got ample wind protection. This is especially true with your hands and ears. The other spot that has a tough go- feet. Especially when you factor in you have shoes that have a metal plate, attached to a metal cleat, which attaches to a metal pedal. Let's just say someone should invent a "heated pedal" where the metal to metal isn't so cold- it would make for much more comfortable winter riding!

Our first crash of the day came about four miles in on a climb that had some ice hidden in the perfect spot. A few of us made it over barely, and then GV put a bit too much power to the rear wheel and slid out in fantastic fashion. It wouldn't be his only fall, and certainly not the only one to fall on the ride.

Up next to hit the deck was yours truly, again ice was the culprit as I took a quick trip to the ground and despite the pain my right knee was feeling, I was just glad the ice didn't give way under my heft as laying in water at that point would have really put a damper on the ride.

We soon made it out to Monk Road and everyone got their sweat going pretty good on the long grind up to the top where it meets Ben Hale. Of course, then you descend for about a mile on pavement so all that heat is quickly lost, and soon we had a few folks who were on the chilly side.

Up next was the climb to the top of Hawk Mountain. We made it about 3/4 of the way up before we ran into a serious ice flow that had us bush whacking to get up the mountain. Once in awhile we'd try to get back on the trail itself but it was pretty slick, AA took a nice slide that looked sort of fun it it weren't for the rocks that were poking through the ice that looked to do some damage if you hit them wrong. Needless to say Alan found a safe spot to get back OFF the trail and continued his climb. This flow was about 300 meters or so long and once we got past it we were able to remount the bikes and finish up the route to the summit. Once we got there everyone was pleased we had put in the effort as the views were excellent. We scrambled around on the rock for a bit, took some shots, and then suited back up for the final push home.

We opted for a secondary route down as we really didn't feel like dealing with the ice flow again. We took a route that JJ and I had scouted about a month ago, I was nervous as it was very wet then, but it wasn't that bad this time around. A snowmobile club had obviously been doing some trail work as there were a lot of branches and saplings that had been cut laying in the trail, which also meant a lot of little pungi sticks on the side of the trail. We took it easy on the way down, but we still saw CW go over the bars as well as GV hit the deck a couple of times. Let's just say the ground wasn't giving much, but fortunately neither of them were any worse off after their gravity check.

I had assumed that to be the last tough piece of riding, as the rest of the route was on gravel road or pavement, however the final stretch of gravel proved to be the diciest from my point of view as there were deep, frozen ruts that were having a good time trying to throw us from our bikes. While everyone stayed upright there were some pretty big sighs of relief when we got down to the pavement. From this spot we could look back up and see where we had just been up on Hawk Mountain, and while not a huge climb the way the elevation displays in front of you in the form of a cliff face it certainly looks impressive.

From here it was a paved cruise back to food and beer. The sole town line was snagged by the only one who knew where it was (me) and the final climb up Chadbourne Hill was a slow one as we worked our way up through campus trying to flatten the hill as best we could. In the end we had spent just over 2.5 hours out on the bikes, got over 1800 feet of climbing and logged a respectable 17 miles. The post ride feed of chili (thanks Jon), wings, beer and other good stuff certainly tasted good and felt well deserved.

Now winter can begin in earnest!

Ride on.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

TWAFHGGPF2010 Update

The TWAFHGGPF2010 is set for Sunday morning at 9:30 am (December 19).

Weather is looking good- low 30's maybe some snow.
For those who haven't ridden in colder temps here are some thoughts:
balaclava under the helmet is a good idea, or at least have one that maybe you stash in a pocket, but a hat is a must under your helmet.

warm gloves that provide dexterity- a good idea, lobster claw style mittens are the warmest, but at least something more than just a liner glove but not quite a full on alpine ski glove

FEET- don't try to pack too much sock into your shoes if it makes them tight as that will make your feet colder. A shoe cover is ideal- and the redneck solution is an old pair of wool socks that you don't mind sacrificing and wear them over your shoes. Maybe even a bread bag over socks sometimes works.

for legs, bike shorts as a base and then tights over them, what ever you'd wear XC skiing

Upper body- baselayer, an insulating layer, a vest and then a shell.

If you have a camelback style pack you can always pack an extra layer.

Now for bikes:

I currently have a bike for Alan to use and one for Fletcher to use.

If you need a bike let me know asap so I can try to work that out (Webb?)

This is a gravel grind, so you don't need some trick mountain bike. I'll likely ride a cross bike (looks like a road bike with bigger tires)- so if you've got an old Ross Mt. Shasta and the tires hold air and the chair still moves that could work. A true road bike won't work, but hybrids, fully rigid mountain bikes, etc will work fine. There will be points where you can take a shorter route home, so everyone should feel welcome regardless of fitness

Post ride- we'll be cooking up some wings, soups, I know Jon Conti is bringing Chilli. There will be some beverages provided but feel free to add to the selection!

My goal is for us to actually start riding by 10am, so showing up by 9:30 is a pretty good goal for everyone. Nick- if you come show up at 9am so we can get all your mechanical issues resolved before we try to ride ;)

Back to the post ride- I'm guessing we'll be out for about 2 hours. The over under on that, no idea. That doesn't mean we'll be riding the whole time as there is a lot of hanging out on route to let everyone gather. So for those who are either coming only for the post ride, or have kids or sig others who are coming for the post- I think a noonish goal works.

Parking- there is plenty of room on the grass to the right of the garage so park away!

Also feel free to invite others, the more the merrier.


Hope to see you there.


DEA (sven)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TWAFHGGPF2010 Just Days Away

It's that time of year again, when we pull out the bikes and go find gravel to ride all in the spirit of having fun with great friends.

For most of us we've made the switch from cycling season to ski season, and this ride on Sunday is a great way to celebrate the 2010 season, and to make sure our bikes are so covered with road grime that we'll never get them clean before spring!

The ride is set for Sunday, December 19th- (a day later than originally planned due to a conflict on Saturday). We'll leave from the Cole residence in beautiful North Bridgton Maine.

The route is still up for debate, the weather leading into the weekend will have a definite impact on where we go.

We'll plan on leaving by 9:30 a.m.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Porky Gulch Classic

Porky Gulch Classic, the single greatest weekend of bike racing of the year. I didn’t have the week leading up to the PGC that I had wanted, as work was crazy, however I credit the PGC with helping me keep my sanity during that week.

For those who don’t know what the PGC is all about, here is the run down- it starts with a two mile time trial up the first two miles of the Mount Washington Auto Road- gaining just under 1200’ in two miles (after you get to ride back down as well), then later that same day you run a crit INSIDE Story Land- perhaps the most fun you can have on a bike. The following day the weekend concludes with a cross race up at Great Glen Trails. Three races over two days.

The race kicked off with the climb, with is done as a TT with 30 second intervals. I am not much of a climber so I look at the climb as my ticket to be able to race the crit later in the day. My goal was to make it to the one mile mark before getting passed by Pete Ostroski- who got third in the actual HillClimb earlier in the year and who also raced in the mountain bike World Championships this year. I used to be able to beat Pete, when he was like 10, but now he just crushes me (as well as everyone else)- but it is great to see a local kid having success on the bike (and skis). I made my goal, but only because the time gap between us on the starting grid worked to my favor! The crazy work week meant I didn’t swap out my crank for something a bit more hill climb friendly, so I ran my road set up (compact- so a 36x28) which worked but definitely found me weaving at times.

We finished up the climb, I was notably slow, but I was OK with that. The ride down was FAST. I’ve ridden down the road many times in this race as well as way back when I used to work there, and it still tweaks me out how fast you pick up speed and how hard it is to scrub speed on that hill. I will admit I much prefer descending the road on my mountain bike with disc brakes- it’s just I don’t like trying to ride that much heavier bike up the hill!

Once down everyone got warmed up again and we headed down to Story Land for the crit. The course is two parts- the long shot around the outside of the park, followed by the craziness inside the park. For the power riders they can make up time on the outside, but once inside it is nothing but cornering, braking, and accelerating. To say it’s been awhile since I’ve led a road race is a bit of an understatement. I think the last time I was at the front of a road race Bill Clinton was still the new kid on the political block. With that in mind when the cannon (literally) went off and I saw a chance to get the hole shot into the park I went for it and spent ALMOST the entire first lap at the front. Coming into the final few (10) corners of the first lap I skipped a pedal and had a couple of riders slip past me as we came back out to the start finish. They wouldn’t be the only ones to pass me, but they were the ones that bummed me out the most- more of a pride thing. I looked down at my Garmin and my heart rate was sitting in the mid 180’s. The adrenaline of leading the lap had me pretty jacked up and I knew that that effort was going to cost me. Over the next two laps I progressively lost positions until I was sitting more toward the tail end of the field. However it was about at this time when bodies started hitting the ground and it became a bit of a game of who could stay upright.

The last few laps we had formed up a small group, and a guy I’ve been racing with for a few years and I traded pulls and he was the guy I really wanted to “race”. I took over our small group with two laps to go and rode tempo for the second to last lap and then began to ratchet up the speed on the last pass across the front of the park- knowing that would be the easiest spot for him to get by me. Once inside I knew all I really had to do was go hard up Heidi’s Hill and then just hold on for dear life through the rest of the park. I was surprised when I opened a small gap on the climb and really just had to stay upright for the rest of the lap.

The Story Land crit is one of those races that you just get faster and faster each lap as you get to know the course and build confidence. It is also one where you legs and lungs are glad when it is over, but your mind still wants to go at it- cranking through corner after corner is just way too much fun.

Saturday was now behind us and all that was left was the cross race on Sunday.
As a guy who is really a weekend warrior these days, and one who thinks core work is something that is fun to talk about doing, but never finds the time to do, I’ve had (surprisingly) issues with my back over the past few years. That being said I hadn’t had many issues so far this season and maybe I got a bit cocky about being “over” my back issues. I’m not sure why I thought that, I know better, but I had thought it anyway. Well the cross race turned out to be the reality slap that I needed so that I can start talking about doing core work again.

The race began and the field broke into three groups pretty quickly. The fast guys, the sorta fast guys, and the not so fast guys. I was in the second group and actually felt pretty good. I was technically riding well and making up ground on the barriers and the run up that was rideable if you hit the line. I found myself near the front of the sorta fast guys group a number of times and even toyed with the idea of really upping the pace and seeing if I could bridge up to the other group, which looked to be up the course by about 20 seconds or less.

Just as I was imagining my inner Sven Nys putting the power down and bridging the gap I began to feel that awful feeling of my lower back starting to misfire. I was confident it wasn’t going to cramp and lock up, but I knew the power was about to spike- in the wrong direction. Within a half lap I went from being at the front of the sorta fast group, to the back of the sorta fast group, to dangling and riding the straight shots sitting up and trying to stretch out my back. I was pretty bummed as I had felt good, but I was also being pretty honest with myself about the fact that maybe it was time to stop talking about core work and to actually start doing some!

That little bit of a respite from going full bore was enough to keep me from locking up and actually by the last lap I felt about 80% again and chased back to the dangling stage for the finish.

It was then all over and my favorite weekend of racing was once again something that I was walking away with great stories and memories and great anticipation for the next year.

For those who haven’t raced the Porky Gulch Classic, I highly encourage it. It is fun, it’s down to earth and it is a weekend that will keep you smiling.

Ride On- DEA

Friday, November 12, 2010

Playing Catch Up on Race Reports

Where did October go? As I write this I have one CX race left and have six races already done, so I guess you could say I'm behind on my reporting.

The season kicked off, for me, at the Downeast Cross up at Pinelands. The season had been planned to get kicked off at the Casco Bay Cross, but Mother Nature had other plans and dropped so much rain that the race was canceled due to potential damage to the park on the Eastern Prom.

Heading to Pinelands I began to have a few butterflies as I realized I really hadn't done any CX work to get ready for this race. I'd been riding, but more in the manner of going out and enjoying the woods and roads of Maine, not in the lung busting, cross-eyed manner in which CX races are enjoyed. Add to that I hadn't done any dismount/remount practice this year, so I knew I was very well prepared!

I got to Pinelands and realized that the big upside to trying to move up to a 3 would be that I could sleep in for another hour AND the temps might be a bit more humane. However I have done little to try and get myself in shape to move up so early, cold starts are the reality I'll have for awhile.

The course was super fun. Lots of twists and turns, great flow, very little climbing, but lots of energy sucking accelerations on grass made me realize that sometimes climbing is much easier! I took my time on my warm-up laps and did get in a few dismount/remounts done before the start and began to feel a bit more comfortable before I headed down to the start.

The start, well the start of a CX race always catches me off guard. I am just not a fast starter, for two reasons- one I like to ease into a race, and two it scares the hell out of me to go full out, elbow to elbow and wheel to wheel from a dead stop. With that said I took my place at the back and planned on riding my way to outside of the first hard corner so I wouldn't get chopped in the corner.

The starting whistle was blown and we were off and I was quickly in my planned position of back of the group, however I felt like I was riding way too hard to be already at the back. The cold air combined with hard breathing had my lungs searing a bit and I was quickly in full on chase mode. I moved up a bit on the opening lap but the reality was that the lead group had already formed and was cranking along, and I wasn't anywhere near them, nor would I have been able to ride their pace. My heart rate was pretty much pegged from the gun and my goal was just to hold on for dear life.

The racing was fun and my goal became to just ride my own race and not get lapped. I rode pretty well, stayed upright and felt pretty good through the barriers. I moved up a bit as the race went on, but still finished near the back of the pack. I did however catch a guy on the line, but he was racing in the 4's and not the Master 4's- so that effort didn't show up on the result sheet.

Day two was colder than day one and I found myself sitting in the car with the heat on full bore trying to thaw out my toes before the start. I had decided to ride harder at the start and see if I could get a better finish. With that in mind the start went pretty well and I was up in the front group for half of the first lap before sliding out hard on a corner and spending some time on the ground. I chased back only to fall again on a stone wall crossing. That fall did actually hurt and it took me a minute or two of riding to get back to feeling like I could go full gas. I again found myself racing my own race and just tried to be smooth and have fun, and stay upright from that point on.

The course on day two was tougher as it had three dismounts and all three lacked (for me) any real rhythm. It was still a very fun course and I was happy with how I rode. I finished up closer to mid pack on day two and was pleased considering the time I had spent laying on the ground.

In all it was a good weekend of racing.


Monday, October 18, 2010


The date is set, now plan on being there.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Columbus Day

Rode Columbus Day morning. It was very chilly at just about freezing when we started out. Got to ride some new singletrack which was great. Made our way up to Redneck Slab and had some great views of the Fall colors. Need to get out more soon.

Time: 01:11:39
Distance: 8.18 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,217 ft
Calories: 1,081 C


Friday, October 01, 2010

Late September


With the onset of school and the practical end of Summer coming Labor Day weekend, my bikes have gotten very lonely. I think I had about 25 total miles of riding in September leading up to last weekend with all of that composed of 3 rides in the woods. None of this lack of riding had been due to anything other than lie being too busy. Up until this week, it has been almost drought-like so the trails have been bone dry, dusty if anything. So last Friday, I was in Court and as I returned to my office, I found a note on my chair. It asked if I wanted to get out for a road ride on Saturday morning with a proposed rout that would take us up the Kanc for ten miles or so and then up and over Bear Notch into Bartlett and then to North Conway and finally home. My friend said it would be 30 something miles. I thought the idea of a ride sounded great and the weather was supposed to be spectacular. As I thought about the rout I began to question the distance as I had a relatively tight time window. So I looked at some old ride data as I had done a similar loop before, but in a different direction.

Google Earth shot of ride

It came up with a ride in the mid 40's. So I decided to do the rout on Map My Ride which if you have not played with is a pretty cool, and free site. It came up with 48 miles. SO I knew either way it wouldn't work with the times I was thinking. So I called John and said we'd have to leave pretty early and ride at a pretty good pace to make it work. He said he was game.

I then went out to the garage and wiped the cobwebs off the bike and checked it out, filled some water bottles and laid out some clothes. 5:45AM was going to come awful early.

My Alarm woke me up and I started to get dressed for a virtual night ride in late September, I was expecting to need knickers and a long sleeve jersey with arm warmers underneath. I decided to check the temp, and was amazed that it was already 61 degrees out. So I put the snivvel gear back and just went with the normal summer day kit. That was nice to not have to be bundled up at all.

I rolled down the hill towards John's house at 6:10AM. It was dark. Not like the sun's about to come up dark, but middle of the f'ing night dark. I had no headlight and just a single little knog LED blinkie light on my seatpost, but fortunately the moon was almost full and it was shining bright. It was so silent and peaceful for that first part, just coasting along sorta stealth-like.

We were on the road by 6:15AM and it was still dark. John said he would pull for the first 15 minutes as he had no light at all and that way my little red blinkie light would be at the back. We started at a pretty good pace as we headed down into Conway Village towards the Kanc. The air was a little heavy and weird. We would be riding along an suddenly hit very warm pockets of air and the cool pockets of air. I likened the warm air pockets to someone peeing in the pool.

We encountered very little traffic which was nice. The ride up the Kanc was very peaceful, the sun was beginning to brighten the skies and you could start to make out the colors in the foliage.

Lower Falls on the Kanc

With the Swift River on our right to climbed towards the first break spot, the Lower falls, which for me was a chance to realize that I wished I had brought a better camera than what was on my Blackberry Storm. As John hit the facilities, I snapped a couple of pics.

First break at Lower Falls

The sun was just starting to light up the rock face on one of the mountains near by giving a great look and feel with the colors of the leaves, top that off with the early morning blue sky and a full moon above and it was a pretty cool thing to see. Better than sleeping even.

View up the Kanc

We made our way up through Bear Notch and I was pleasantly surprised to be riding on fresh pavement. The only issue was with the weird weather we were experiencing, the road was actually wet from the humidity I was guessing. As we worked our way up through the Notch the riding was very nice and my legs were feeling good. As I approached a scenic overlook, I knew that we were almost at the top. I stopped and John rode up shortly and we each got some water and I ate a couple fig newtons. We were now refueld and readt to hit the top and descend the other side.

Looking up the road

None of this side of the Notch is super steep, just a nice consistent grade. The Bartlett side, the one we were descending was different. It was a consistent grade but much steeper and turnier. Another fun thing was the pavement was new on this side too but still wet. This can mean a greasy road surface. We started down and were quickly cruising along at 30+ mph and a desire to push it, but he wet corners were enough to give me some pause. So I just coasted. That was a great descent. Well worth the climb. The views were great, but at that speed and with those road conditions I didn't get to see all that much for too long.

Once we got to the bottom in Bartlett we were doing well on time. We figured we had enough time for a pit stop in North Conway at The Front Side Grind. We had a nice little break and a bagel and we were off on the home stretch. It was not pushing 80 out and while still feeling good, I could tell I had not been on a bike as much as I had hoped.

Once I pulled in the driveway at home, these were the numbers from the Garmin:

Time: 02:49:46
Distance: 47.43 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,258 ft
Calories: 3,516 C (wow, that's like a case of beer, or a pound of fat)

A great ride and awesome way to start the weekend.


I had sent a text to Sven on Friday to see if he wanted to get out for a ride over the weekend. With his current schedule dictating our ride location, I drove over to his place at Bridgton, Maine early Sunday morning. Once nice thing was that it wasn't quite as early as Saturday's start time.

With the upcoming TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder 4.0 fast approaching, Sven had some sections of the ride he wanted to do some recon on. The ride started out right behind Sven's parent's house following a fence-line in the woods. This was the only real singletrack of the ride and didn't last but a mile or so. We were then out of the woods riding on some powerlines trails that are part of a snowmobile network in the coming months. Most of these trails are nice rolling hills up and down. For some reason power lines are never laid out on flat ground around here.

Google Earth Image 09-26-10

After the powerlines we had a short bit of pavement before a dirt road that climbs up Hawk Mountain. This road is one that we did last year in the TWAFHGG 2009 and it is much like an access road to a ski area. It just basically goes up. This time we took another route once we had ridden most of the way up. This trail went up even further and ended up at an exposed slab on the top of Hawk Mountain.

Sven pointing something important out

We had some awesome views up there. Sven was busy pointing out all of the landmarks one could see off in the distance as I snapped a few photos. Unfortunately it was overcast instead of the bluebird sky that I had the morning before. Even still we had very good visibility.

Dennis posing at the top of Hawk Mtn.

Sven at the top of Hawk Mtn.

Sven surveying the landscape

As we were coming down off the mountain we had a very nice descent down a washed out jeep road. It was eerily reminiscent of a section of the Pat's Peak 24 Hr race course. Shortly thereafter we were on pavement for a stretch and were doing some nice fast downhill coasting.

After this section we found another jeep road which we had also ridden last year, but we took another trail off of this for some more uncharted territory for me. These were all basically doubletrack trails but pretty fast and rolling terrain. It is really difficult to find much of anything flat in these parts.

The final stretch back to Casa Cole was on the pavement. We still had some good climbing left and by this point my legs were really cooked. I felt like I had very good legs the day before, but the lack of regular riding caught up with me this day as there was little left in the tank by ride's end. Overall it was a good ride with over 16 miles and almost 2,000 feet of climbing. Stay tuned to the TWAF blog for news and updates on this year's TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder 4.0, it's sure to be wicked good.

Time: 01:39:20
Distance: 16.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,867 ft
Calories: 1,412 C (that's like 10 beers worth!!)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planning The TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder

JJ and I got out for a good recon ride on Sunday morning. We ended up riding much of the same stuff we did last year, other than a trip up to the summit of Hawk Mountain, and just when we got to the new section we began to run out of time. My goal is to get him back over this way soon to go check out a new piece for this years route. Part of the planning has been taking advantage of the updated images on GoogleMaps. This area was updated recently and that has made for a great way to scout gravel.

I am still looking for my first cross race of the year but have not pulled the trigger on a registration as of yet. I am hoping to race the CascoBay Cross Race set for a couple of weeks out, but am on duty that weekend, so hoping i can find a creative way to make it all work. Beyond that I will most likely just race the GGTOC series and Porky Gulch.

Looking at next year K and I have talked about my racing a stage race, either Trans-syvlania or Breck Epic. If we go to either one I'm guessing it'll be in PA, but one can always hope!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's September?

Where did the summer go? Today is the last day of summer and I'm not quite sure how that happened. But it did, and now I am looking at fall and trying to figure out what cross races I can make happen.

I think this year will be a bit low key in terms of cross racing, as I can't "start" training on September 20th and expect much good to happen. That being said I can certainly go and have some fun racing around on the grass!

The cycling season sort of ended for me after the 24HOGG. Not that I wanted it to, but life got crazy busy. Now I find myself trying to get back into the flow and to throw my leg over the bike a bit more. With that in mind I am looking for an adventure of some sort. What that is I don't yet know, but it'll include loading up the pack and heading out for a day of riding where I'm really not sure where the heck I am going- anyone game?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

24HOGG Re-Cap

The cannon went off and then 24 hours latter it went off again, in between there was a lot of racing to be had.

Ok I guess I can write a bit more than that, especially since I've been given a hard time for not having a write up ready to go on Monday morning. Jeez TWAF fans have high expectations!

This was my 14th go at the race, and my fourth go as a solo, but my first running it solo on a geared bike (got all of that?). In addition to gears I ran the Big Mama so there was plenty of squish to keep my back a bit more comfy. Add to that that K has had me doing planks and some core work (when I remember) and for the first year in a long time my back was not really an issue, other than general fatigue.

The weekend started on Friday when I drove up to get our camping area set up so that Saturday morning would be a bit less hectic. I found a spot in the solo area and set up the Bridgton Academy pop up as well as our actual sleeping tent. I picked up my registration packet and drove home so that I could have dinner with my family as my sister was home from Colorado for a super short trip for a wedding. (If you're looking to book a group for skiing at Eldora give Sony Cole a call!)

Saturday morning I packed up early and thought I'd be heading up hours before K and the girls, but a transformer blew in the early AM near our house leaving us without power, so the female contingent headed up to GGTOC soon after me. I got camp set, bikes set, food set, and then headed over to the tent for intros and the captains meeting. It was cool to meet Laird Knight- in many ways the father of 24 Hour Racing, being the promoter of the original 24 Hours of Caanan. He still oversees Granny Gear Productions and handles timing for a number of events.

I got my intro as the forum moderator and then grabbed a seat in the crowd and listened as we almost had a major change to the finish rules go unchecked. Laird was talking about the timing system and said you didn't need to have a rider on course at the time of the finish- which would have broken a 14 year tradition- I asked Howie (the GM at GGTOC and the Auto Road) and he agreed that we didn't want to make that change at this point so he got the attention of the crowd and got the issue resolved. I was glad as having to be on course at noon sort of keeps me motivated to keep riding. If I could go out and ride for a few hours and knew I didn't need to do at least that last lap I could see myself really mailing it in.

After the meeting I headed back to camp, stopping to catch up with people I seem to only see at the 24HOGG but who feel like long time friends. That is one the parts I love about bike racing is the "culture and community". While I don't see a lot of these people all the time they are people who I get to suffer with on course and who share a lot of common stories. Many I can't even remember their names- but I can tell you that I know their faces- and many of them I can pick out their ass out of a line up, having spent hours over the years riding behind many of them. Some may only recognize me by my ass.

The family was over at the camp and K was getting ready to be the Pit'B for the race. JJ had planned on doing it, but realized that watching some of the race would be fun, but staying for the full 24 might be overkill. Which I can understand. It was a bummer not racing with JJ, as this is a race he and I have done together many, many times. I'm looking forward to him being all healthy and un-broken next year. Who knows, maybe we'll do a two person or maybe a full bore TWAF reunion race with a 4 or 5 person team next year.

I found my way to the start, K had the bike, and you could feel the energy build. The race starts with a run around the pond for a LeMan's style start. Having done this race enough I know you have two choices- run like hell and try to stay at the front so that you can actually ride the Blueberry Hill, or walk around the pond and get to your bike a minute or two after the main field but then catch most of them on the Blueberry Field hill anyway. I let experience dictate the tactic and walking was the choice. I mounted up and rode with Mike and found that our prediction was spot on.

The course was DRY and very rideable. And that allowed the field to string out pretty fast as we didn't have a lot of crashes on the single track clogging things up. By the time I wrapped up my first lap I didn't feel the course was congested at all, and that made for good riding.

The course is just over 8 miles and has 1000 feet of climbing per lap. You climb a lot and you climb often. Most of the climbs are not technical at all, but traction can be a bit of an issue. I found myself using the granny gear a fair amount and it was very different than past years when I was racing on a single speed. In that same vein I definitely noticed the additional weight of the bike on the climbs, but enjoyed the descending and root eating ability of the Big Mama the rest of the time.

The laps started to tick off and I felt pretty good. It was HOT so I was blasting through water and gel and the occasional Cliff Bar. K was doing feeds and keeping the Enduolytes coming as well, but I was already falling behind in hydration, a fact that became very clear on my fourth lap. For those who have followed this blog for awhile you will remember "Pam and Tommy" my infamous inner thigh leg cramps that I first dealt with during the Jay Challenge at a time when my mind as starting to shut down. Anyway Pam and Tommy began to "fight" about halfway through my fourth lap and had me standing on the side of the trail trying to stretch. I'd ride a bit, then have to walk a bit and I was getting concerned that this might be a bit like 2008.

I limped my way through that lap and really started hammering the water, a full bottle while in pit along with another bottle on the bike. I headed out for #5 with Mike and the idea that after that lap it would be time for some real food as we'd be approaching having been on the bike for nearly 6 hours.

Mike and I took it easy and it felt pretty good, the cramping wasn't always on the verge and when I could feel it coming I could walk a bit to work it out. We wrapped up lap 5 and I was stoked to get some food. I headed to the pit with the girls and K made me a sandwich and I hammered the liquids. While I was sitting there I saw Mike go out for another lap, which got me all wound up as I was ready to have a beer and kick back for a bit, but soon I was kitting up and hoping I could get in number 6 before A) it got dark and B) the Moat stopped serving their Pulled Pork BBQ.

I headed out and rode fairly comfortably, with only a few minor slips on a few roots showing a bit of moisture as the temps began to fall. I rolled into the tent with about 10 minutes till the Moat BBQ shut down so K headed over to grab me a plate while I rolled back to camp to clean up a bit. Any yes the food tasted fantastic, especially with a couple Long Trails to keep the fluids going!

At that point we called it a night and climbed into our tents, and while I can't say I slept great I slept enough the when I woke up a 5am I was feeling ok. I kept hammering the water and headed over for a quick breakfast and coffee before embarking on another six hours in the saddle.

Morning is always interesting, as when I went to bed I was likely tied for third place in my category, but by the morning I had dropped like a rock down the standings. While I was feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to go, so of the other riders where looking like hell- and they should have, having ridden all night.

I kitted up while the bag piper ushered in the hour of 6am, and headed out- determined to ride strong until the finish. The course had held up well over night and the laps felt good. K was giving me good feeds and encouragement and I actually felt ok. As 10am approached I was trying to figure out if I wanted to give it a bit of a go and try to see if I could make 12 laps or if 11 was going to be more realistic, as I finished #9 I realized that I would really have to crush #10 and #11 to possibly make it in before noon so that I could go out on #12- and the ability to crush had left the building.

Once that realization was made I just put it in cruz control and tried to ride smart and smooth. I heard the cannon go off while climbing Dugway, and knew that I only had about 15 more minutes or riding to do.

I was riding with Chris Meier and we took our time rolling around the course. But as we got closer to the finish I could feel myself wanting to ride fast, but there wasn't any juice left to get me moving much quicker than I was going.

I crossed the line at 12:23 with 11 laps, about 90 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing.

It was a good year, missed my goal by 2 laps, but still came away happy.

Next year will be my 15th run at the race, and I can't wait.

Thank you to my wife Karen and the girls for pitting, to the Morgans for coming up and cheering us all on and shooting some cool pics, the Webbs for checking out all the craziness, Big Al at, and everyone else who raced, cheered, crewed, watched, cooked for, sponsored, worked on, volunteered, and whatever else I'm forgetting.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

52 Hours To Go

I'm sitting here realizing I've got 36 hours of work to get done in only 16 hours of "office time" and only 52 hours to go until I mount up on the bike and try to ride to a simple majority in a 24 hour race (for those trying to keep up that would be doing 12+ hours of actual racing).

I've been watching 24 Solo (thanks Mike) for the last few nights. Those guys are amazing. I "race solo" but I don't race for the full 24-25 hours. I go out and ride a crap load in a 24 hour period, but I also sleep a bit and take some time off the bike. It's like doing to really epic (sorry couldn't resist "epic") days back to back with just a few hours sleep in between, and starting the second day really early.

I've done zero long rides this year. The most saddle time has been two three hour rides with Ames over at Kingdom. However I've been much more consistent in the past month with my riding- so that is good.

I'm already thinking about the 2011 24HOGG, and don't tell JJ this (since he never reads this blog I think I'm safe)but I'm gonna try to talk him into doing a two person team next year. Next year will be my 15th go at the race and that is the only team configuration I haven't done. Well that and both he and I only race 12-14 hours in the solo category anyway- so maybe it's time we team up on that! Add to that the last time we did a team he wasn't on it- he bailed on the TWAF team and NK had to step in.

So there it is- the next 72 hours are pretty much set in terms of what is going to happen. Now we just need to get there.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Road Rash, Gears, Presta Nuts, A$$ Razor and Lust

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I had my first significant wreck on my road bike in some time, and it was a wreck unlike any others I've had. This one involved another person, but not a person on a bike, a person running out into the road with out fear of cars or trucks, or in this case cyclists.

I'll spare the details- but needless to say I hit said person, said person hit the deck, I went airborne with my bike, and we all found out that gravity was indeed working very well that day.

Said person took a ride in a box on wheels with a shiny red light on the roof, and was later released from the hospital with some cuts and a mild concussion. I took a ride in a grey truck back to the top of the hill to then sort out the damage. Busted helmet (did it's job), significant bruising of the back, excellent assortment of road rash on the right side of my body, a torqued front wheel, a destroyed saddle, big flat spots on both the front and rear wheel from some wild skidding before impact and a bit of missing memory.

Needless to say I didn't kit back up and go for a ride, I took that day and the next off the bike.

Two days later the girls and I headed up to GGTOC for the weekly race. I was still sore so I took the Big Mama to give me a little bit easier ride. I loaded up the car and off we went. When we got up to GGTOC I unloaded the car and got Bean and Em's bike out and ready, and then grabbed mine and put on the front wheel. I then went to roll the bike over to the rack and the front wheel wouldn't roll. Hmmmm.

Check the quick release, all is good- but no roll. Then I had an "oh sh%t" moment- I'd grabbed the "wrong" front wheel. The wheel that had the 185mm rotor instead of the 180mm rotor. Argh.

I told the girls I wasn't going to be able to ride and that they needed to do the race on their own. That wasn't receive to well, but they were getting ready to go when I had an idea. I could shim the caliper and we'd be good to go- but with what?

I looked around the car and couldn't come up with anything- but then I saw a spare tube and looked at the nut the sits on the valve stem of a presta tube. I only needed about 2.5mm of shim, maybe even less. Could it be that that would work? It was the right thickness but I figured there was no way in hell the threads would be the right diameter or pitch. But I gave it a try.

Holy cow it worked and I was in business. I was very pleased with my discovery and after a couple minutes of messing with the front brake we were in business. I raced first with the girls and then did my run, and despite my injury felt pretty good and had a good ride. However about halfway through my run I started to think about the upcoming 24HOGG, and started thinking that I've done SS solo for the past three years- and wondering if I should try to run gears- after all I bought this new rig and with my back being pretty tender a bit of give and gears might be a smart move. That was pretty much the thinking running through my head on the backside of the course. That and thinking how easy it was to clean Whiplash on gears instead of the SS- it pretty much sealed the deal. Well that and a conversation with JJ that revealed he wouldn't write me off if I ran a geared bike at 24HOGG.

The next day was spent using Facebook to find out what I should run for a saddle, as my long serving Avocet O2 Ti had been a casualty of the ride. In its place (temporarily) was a Sella Italia SLR 135 that I had in my parts bin. A very "nice" saddle- carbon shell, ti rails, very light- 135gms- but also very narrow and VERY firm. The saddle had another name- the Ass Razor, but it would have to do while I waited form my new WTB Devo to show up. Actually the AR has served me well- and has given my backside a good warm up for 24HOGG.

So all is good. Then I read Dicky's blog and he reveals he's building up a Carbon Tall Boy from Santa Cruz. I tried to not let it happen, but within moments I was on the Santa Cruz site (just like a number of years ago) and I began to drool. The bike lust had taken effect- and I suddenly wanted to donate a kidney so that I could own a Tall Boy. I had done so well staying away from looking at the bike. I knew it was out there, in fact I had gotten an email from Santa Cruz back when they released the bike as I had been bugging them after I converted to 29er wheels about doing a 29er version of the Blur- as that had been one of the best bikes I'd ever owned- it was just that I had drank the 29er Kool-Aid and couldn't see myself riding 26er wheels again. Santa Cruz replied and scoffed at my idea- saying they didn't see 29er as being anything they were interested in and wished me luck.

My how times have changed. Not only a 29er platform from SC with VPP, but done in carbon. Oh my. So now I need to up my antibikelust medication so that I don't do anything stupid.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dakine Summer Race Series

I love racing up at Great Glen, be it mountain bike racing, cross racing, running races, nordic ski racing, or even riding up that stupid Auto Road- it seems like racing is a big part of what you do at Great Glen.

The Dakine Summer Series is like many of their various series races- a time trial format where you can roll up to the line at pretty much any time and go out and do your run. While the start time isn't quite as much of an issue as it is in the winter- when track conditions can make a major difference in times, it can still make a difference. Heat, rain, etc can all have an impact on how the course is riding.

This year my youngest is "turning her pedals in anger" for the first time on the mini course, which is about a mile loop with some single track. A 12" wheel can sometimes struggle on the single track- but she has fun and I joke that she and I are team single speed. My oldest also enjoys racing and hits the "short" course. Meaning my pre-race warm up is a lap on the mini and then a lap on the short before I head out for my run.

I've been running a single speed the past few years and planned to do the same this year, despite the fact that there isn't a SS class. It actually is a pretty good course for a SS, but gearing is key. My standard gearing on my 29er is a 32x20, and for this course a 32x18 or 33x18 is really the gear you want of you will find yourself spun out on a regular occasion. With that said I ran a 32x20 as I'm too cheap to buy an 18t that will fit on my EBB hub (I have an 18 for my other SS- but I like the weight and snappiness of the Mamasita a bit more than my El Mariachi)

The course is a mix of packed gravel roads and several short sections of single track and one longer section of single track to make up a total course length of just shy of five miles. It's a fun course and uses portions of the 24HOGG course- including Whiplash, which this year the summer series runs in the same direction as it will on August 14th and 15th, so it's a great chance to work on your race line.

Week one I ran the SS, posted a 21:36. When week two rolled around I thought I'd give the Big Mama a run and see if gears helped out. Now the downside to this is the extra 10 lbs the bike ways, and the suspension- but gave it a go- turned myself inside out and posted a 20:34. Upon reflecting on the two I figured I could push a bit harder on the SS and match my week two time on week three. However two things conspired against me. First was a strong thunderstorm that rolled through right before the race- drenching all the roots out in the woods. Second was a lack of thinking on my part as I boosted the air pressure in my tires to 40+psi (usually run between 25-30psi)

Chris counted me down and I was off. The bike was rolling fast and I was pleased with the speed I carried on the flats with my legs working like high RPM pistons- just trying to keep myself from bouncing off the bike. I was feeling pretty good about the time I was going to post. Then I hit the first single track. Next thing I know I'm bouncing and slipping off of everything- literally ending up in the woods at times and having several dabs on a section I've never had any issue with. Then on the short pitch out of the single track I lost traction and just about ensured I'd never have to worry about fathering a child again. All the bobbles and near miss threw me for a bit of a loop and my first thought was just that I was going so bloody fast that that was why I was having such issues, but I quickly put it out of my mind as the bike once again felt fast going up another hard pack climb. Up next Whiplash.

Withing 20 yards of entering Whiplash my delusion that my issue on the roots and single track had to do with my "blistering" speed quickly eroded. Once again I was bouncing and slipping and quite honestly going nowhere fast. Then it dawned on my- wayyyyyy to much air (keep in mind I run Panaracer Rampages on a fully rigid bike- so my tires are my suspension and these tires have always been awesome). After slipping off one more root and riding into a tree I considered stopping to let out a bit of air- but realized I was better off just going for a short jog with my bike and take my losses and then enjoy the fast roll on the gravel. Of course the "short jog" in my mind ended up being much longer in reality (still short by most peoples standards- but for me running any farther than from my driveway to the bathroom after a long drive is starting to feel excessive.

I eventually made it out to the other side and started hammering on the pedals, the remaining climb went very well- and I was trying to figure out how to install a system like that have on Hummers where you can change the air pressure on the fly- as that would be slick.

I only had one more section of single track that gave me any issue- and by that point it was just funny. I managed to get through but did some nice "root slides" that gave me the impression that hitting the ground might be a very real possibility.

I wrapped up my race and posted a time around 22:20, so not even close to getting near my geared time (nor my first SS time). However it was very fun and reminded me of the importance of tire pressure!

Looking forward to next weeks run- and who knows maybe I'll throw a drive train on the Mamasita and see if we can get the best of both worlds- light and stiff- and taller gears than a 32x20. Then again I am pretty lazy...

Ride safe,


Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm done

I met with my surgeon for the final time (finger's crossed and knocking on wood) and had my last physical therapy appointment last week. In a couple weeks I will be green lighted to re-enter the woods. Progress so far has been pretty good, actually better than I had expected. Particularly when I see other guys in PT with the same surgery struggling with their rehab. Apparently the beers have helped me more than I expected.

Since I have been unable to ride in the woods I have been limited to the roads. This isn't all bad as I have been able to get some good riding in the past few weeks, logging well over 200 miles in the past 2 weeks which has been great, particularly the early morning rides with my wife.

Problem I have now is my road bike is telling me something. I replaced the rear wheel a few months ago as it had developed cracks in the rim around the spoke eyelets which made it unsafe. So I was riding a mismatched set of wheels. Then yesterday I went out for a ride hoping to climb some hills and get in a good sweat. As I was making my way back towards home I was out of the saddle climbing and I was just cresting a long hill when I felt a "pop". Luckily it was a mechanical pop and not one of my joints letting go, which happens all too often. A mechanical pop isn't often a good thing either though. AS I was climbing I wasn't going very fast and as soon as I heard the noise I felt the "Houston, we have a problem" feeling. I Grabbed my brake levers to stop and as I did I looked down at my front wheel. It was so out of round and untrue it was having trouble fitting through the brake caliper. I could also hear a ticking as it rolled. I stopped and picked up the front to spin the wheel and realized I had blown a couple of spokes and the rim was toast.

At that moment I was hoping the Team Car was about to roll up and a mechanic would hop out and do a nice quick wheel change for me. Guess I've been watching too much of the TdF. THat didn't happen so I had to get the phone out and call for backup. I called my wife and said I needed a ride as I had a mechanical that made it unsafe to continue on. She said she'd be there in a few. As I waited for the ride I looked down the hill in front of me and thought that the last time I want down it I was rolling along at about 65 kilometers per hour (40mph) and how bad a scene it could have been if I'd have had the wheel fail at that speed. I hate it when those types of things run through my head. I think I felt a twinge in my shoulder at that moment to remind me just what that sort of thing does feel like. So I made it home and was fortunate enough to have a spare front wheel to swap out while I decide what to do next.

One problem with riding recently though is the Great Glen Summer Race Series has started and the Red Jersey race series has started too, now the Pats Peak 12 & 24 Hr race was this past weekend and the 24 Hours of Great Glen is a month away. I have resigned myself to not racing this season and just heal up. Buts difficult to be riding at all and not be able to turn the peddles in anger at all. Then I get a text from a friend looking for another rider for their 24Hr team and I start to think, I could race on a team and not do it solo this year, maybe even use gears and suspension. Hmmm, hopefully he fills the spot soon to save me the pain of considering it.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Comment Period fof Moat Mountain Trail System

Just got this from our local NEMBA rep, wanted to pass it along as it has a big impact on where we ride!


Hello all – The U.S. Forest Service has released their analysis report on the Moat Mountain Trail System Project in the White Mountain National Forest. The analysis document can be seen at

The analysis report contain four alternatives:

· Alt 1 – no action

· Alt 2 – formalize of 12.1 miles out of 13.9 miles of inventoried trails; Bloody Arm Trail and Cathedral Connector would be closed, Thompson Falls Trail to be open for foot traffic only

· Alt 3 – same as Alt 2 but with winter closures of some of the westernmost trails to protect wildlife habitat.

· Alt 4 – formalize 13 miles out of 13.9 miles of inventoried trails; Thompson Falls Trail to be open for foot traffic only

NEMBA strongly recommends selection of Alternative 4. Closure of the Bloody Arm Trail and Cathedral Connector would be a significant loss to our trail network. These trails provide long loop opportunities that are not possible with the existing Forest System trails. While we understand concerns of user conflict with bikers descending the Lucy Brook/North Moat Mountain Trail, this has not proven to be historically true. The Bloody Arm Trail is at least 10 years old and largely follows old skidder paths; Cathedral Connector is multiple generations old and allows a high crossing of Lucy Brook to avoid Diana’s Baths. These trails are important to the west side trail network and we are not aware of any conflicts with other users.

We urge you to please call or write the Forest Service and request Alternative 4 be chosen for reasons outlined above. Please use your own words, as form letters are essentially lumped together as one comment.

How You Can Comment

Comments should be addressed to Saco District Ranger Terry Miller as follows:

Written comments must be postmarked by the Postal Service, e-mailed, faxed or otherwise submitted by 11:59 PM ET 30 days following publication of the legal notice in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Mail: Send to Jana Johnson, Saco Ranger Station, 33 Kancamagus Highway, Conway, NH 03818. Letters may also be hand delivered Monday, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM and Tuesday through Sunday, 8:00 AM – 4:30PM.

FAX: Send to Attn: Jana Johnson at 603-447-8405.

E-mail: Send to and include an identifiable name. Comments submitted as electronic documents must be in plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rft) or Word (.doc) format. You should receive an automated electronic acknowledgement as confirmation of receipt of your comments. If you do not receive acknowledgement, it is your responsibility to ensure timely receipt by other means.

Oral comments may be submitted Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm, by phone (603-447-5448 x109) or in person; and must be received by close of business at the end of the 30-day comment period.

Comments should include the following information:

• Your name, address, and if possible, your phone number and e-mail address.

• The title of the project you are commenting on.

• Your specific concern and reasons the concern may lead to environmental effects.

The purpose of soliciting your comments during this scoping period is to collect additional information and to identify any unresolved issues regarding the proposal. To make your comments substantive they should be specific to the proposed action. Be sure to provide supporting rationale for your comments, including concerns about environmental effects of the proposed project. Please be aware that your name, address and comments will become part of the public record and may be available for public inspection.

Thanks - Rob

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Saying Goodbye

If you ask my wife she will tell you I hold onto things wayyyy too long. I feel differently, I feel items continue to have purpose and while they may have passed their prime they still have a use.

That being said even I do have my limits, and with that the time has come to say goodbye to a pair of Pearl Izumi winter riding gloves that I have had for well over 15 years.

I can remember buying these gloves, back when I worked at the Skirack in Burlington. I can recall many cold rides as well as great ski days that these gloves served me well. I remember how impressed I was with how warm they were yet they still offered good feel on the handlebars and even worked well with that new fangled STI technology (I know STI came out before 1995- but I didn't have it until then).

About five years ago the seams started to go, but duct tape solved the issues. Then about three years ago the fabric started to show its age and the fingers began to rip. This past winter the gloves started to become more duct tape than glove, and I knew the end was near. I wonder if this was how Darth Vader felt as he transitioned from man to machine?

Anyway they served me well and I bid them farewell. I just hope my next pair of winter riding mitts serve me as well.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trying to find a bike a new home

Anyone looking for a 47cm woman's road bike- have I got a deal for you. In the spring of 2008 my wife bought a 2008 Trek 1.2 WSD as she wanted to do Crank the Kanc. It's a good bike and it served her well for the 15 or so rides it has likely seen in it's life. However after buying her a cross bike last fall it has been relegated to the back of the bike rack and may never see another day of riding if it remains in the stable here at the Cole residence.

With that said- $550 OBO and this nice ride can be yours. Here are the parts spec. And here is a pic of the actual bike. Great shape- maybe 500 miles on it.

If you are interested shoot me a note at velofreak29 at

Ride on!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Stop On the Summer Race Series

I pinned on my first number of 2010, well didn't really pin it on, more zip tied it to my handlebars, but you get the idea. This memorable zip tying took place at Attitash in Bartlett, NH as the first stop in the Summer Race Series.

This course, despite being held at a ski area, is as flat as they come. In just over 10 miles of racing we climbed well under 200 feet. it is a two mile loop that is flat, twisty, tight, and has plenty of roots and rocks to keep you honest.

The past few years I've raced this on the fully rigid singlespeed, and up until a couple of days before the race that was still the plan. However I had pulled the trigger on a very nice Salsa Big Mama over the winter and seeing how it was the only one of my bikes in the stable that had never been raced I figured I should give her a try.

During my warm up lap I quickly realized that while the Big Mama is about 10 pounds heavier than my Mamasita set up as a SS and running a Black Ops carbon rigid fork, that the weight penalty wasn't going to be an issue on this course. I also realized that I was much less jarred banging through the root and rock sections- so if nothing else I was going to be much more comfortable during the race!

We lined up, Experts starting 10 seconds ahead of Sport and so on, and the race for holeshot was on. I've found that in this race you either have to go all out to be in the first 10 or you might as well hold back just a bit and avoid the inevitable tangles that are created in the first three technical turns.

We quickly settled into a long line of about 20 or so Expert's and I was sitting in about 15th or so. I worked my up a bit on couple of the passing sections and was feeling pretty good. The course is such that your heart rate is never fully pegged as you can only go so fast and still make all the tight turns, but then again it is constant acceleration so that can take it out of you.

One of the sections that makes me the most nervous is a slick bridge that has high speed two way traffic on it. This year they put down some plywood to improve traction, but you hit it from one side at about 18 mph, and it is a down, flat, up bridge- which some people were airing off of quite nicely (not I).

Within three of the five laps the Expert field had strung out and I was racing with three other riders. One was a woman I've known for years and who is a very strong ski racer as well as bike racer. The other was a guy who I always talk to at races but always space on his name. The three of us took turns leading the charge, with lead changes usually taking place on overcooked turns by the lead rider. Eventually I took up the last position in this group and tried to keep them within striking distance for my wicked awesome sprint finish (insert laugh here).

As we headed out on our fifth and final lap I figured I had about a five second gap to cover to Laura and a eight second gap to Mr. Ialwaysforgethisname, and I figured I could close a third of it in the first big ring second, a third in the second big ring section, and then blast by them at the finish line in a burst of speed that would have made Cipo proud. At least that was my game plan.

Now for how it really happened. By the first big ring section I realized I had lost a bit more time. By the second big ring section I realized I had stopped the loss of time, but hadn't started gaining any back- so I decided I would use my masterful handling skills to get back some time in the final twisty section. With that plan in place I went full gas, and I was flying, had someone been out there with a video camera I'm sure they could have sold the footage to one of those freeride movie producers as I was getting it done. That is until I way overcooked a turn and spent the next millisecond flying through the air upside down wondering what I was going to land on and how much it was going to hurt. Amazingly enough I landed on fairly clean ground, bounced my head (lightly and it was nicely protected by my Lazer helmet), pounded my shoulder and then slid to a stop in a manner that didn't even leave me wishing I had shaved my legs. I picked myself up and went back about 15 feet to pick up my bike and get going again.

I don't know about you but after a spill it takes me a minute to get my groove back. But soon I was up to speed and looking to finish strong. I held my Cipo impression back as there wasn't anyone to sprint against- and plus I'm really not all that fast so it might have looked a lot goofier than it did in my head.

The finish line was behind me and it was back out to cool down.

I rode another lap and just enjoyed the flow of the course. The Big Mama was a fun bike to rip around on, and with some race dieting could be a 25lb weekend warrior race bike as well as a kick butt all around fun ride.

After catching up with a few riders I loaded up to head home, enjoying a Hammer Recoverite smoothie for dinner (1/3 cup OJ, 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup blueberry yogurt, four ice cubes, and a 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries with two scoops of Recoverite). I was anxious to get home and download the data from the Garmin 705 to see how much faster I went on the Big Mama as opposed to the Mamasita SS last year. I was convinced I was much faster. Well I was faster- averaging 11.6 mph this year vs 10.8 last year, but I guess it confirmed that a SS is often very close in speed. I will say my arms hut much less this year than last!

It was a fun race and looking forward to the next stop, which will be July 15th at Great Glen Trails (home of 24 Hours of Great Glen- a fantastic race in August).

Until then- ride safe!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Feeling off the Back

It's mid June and I have yet to pin on a number and "turn my pedals in anger"- as Paul Sherwin would say. It feels a bit odd not having raced, and with that said I need to find a race fast for a whole host of reasons. With that in mind here are my top ten reason's I need to race soon:
10) Racing makes me feel better about the number of bikes I have hanging in the garage.
9) The time just before the start is where you pick up the best excuses for why you haven't been riding or can't ride fast.
8) You see people who two years ago should never wear lycra and now they look super fit- and you think to yourself, "that could be me".
7) It gives me something to stress about for a full 48 hours before the start.
6) It gives me something to second guess for a full 48 hours after the race ends.
5) It gives me blog and race recap fodder for this blog as well as for Big All at Team World HQ.
4) It gives me reason for needing some new widget or cool piece of gear that I've never seen before.
3) At work I get to say, "yeah gotta leave early, heading to a RACE" and then the next day say, "yeah that blood is from the RACE last night."
2) Let's my wife continue to say, "I'm married to a bike racer." (not sure she's ever said that- but a guy can dream)
1) It makes me go, "HOLY CRAP ONLY TWO MONTHS TILL 24HOGG! I've gotta get my ass training!"

So there it is. If all goes well I'll head over to Thorn Pond at Attitash on Thursday for round one of the Red Jersey Summer Series. Here goes nothing!

Ride on.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting Ready to Play Catch-Up

Last year at this time I was coming off of a busted tailbone, or to make it sound more dramatic a broken back. I had pretty much taken six weeks off and had dealt with the pain by helping out Sam Adams sales. With that in the back of my head I felt pretty good coming into spring and feeling like I was going to be able to crush this season and be super fit.

LOL. Not sure what I was thinking. I'm close to 10 hours of saddle time behind where I was at this point last year. Add to that my weight isn't far off from it astronomical highs of my beer induced month of couch surfing. How did this happen? A couple of things- I rode my bike a lot in the early months of 2009. Then I rode my bike a lot after my back had healed up. Compare that to this year where I rode a bit and figured I was just going to be fine. Oops.

Other factors- JJ is down with his wing being all rebuilt 6million Dollar Man style. But looks like he'll be at least on the road bike in a couple of weeks. A1 "never rides" but then avg'd 21mph to the base of the pitch during Krank the Kanc (and that first 18 miles is uphill as well). So the only one that I think I am riding better than is NK, who is a brand new dad so he's out. Even the reclusive PowderJew has been getting after it on the bike- despite bulging discs and a host of other issues. Leaving me feeling like a slug.

Ahhh but there is a silver lining. Five days- five days out on the bike with 6.5 hours total and a renewed desire to drop some lbs and get in some miles. I need to plan to put in a century here in the next couple weeks- big words.....

Until then keep the rubber side down and enjoy this great weather.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


On April 16 I had my left shoulder reconstructed after years of abuse. The Dr. reattached the torn labrum with a couple of anchors and some bailing twine. My rotator cuff was also a mess and that has now been tightened up too. Saw the Dr. yesterday for a follow-up and he checked me out and said I didn't need to be in a sling anymore. That was great news. I start PT next week and can actually start to rehab it. Only bummer is I'm still a couple weeks away from getting back on a bike, but its getting closer. I'm afraid to actually find out how out of shape I've gotten the past couple of months.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You know you're a.....

You know you're addicted to biking when.....

Your surgeon tells you need a heart valve replacement and you ask if you have a choice between presta and schrader.

A Power Bar starts tasting better than a Snickers.

You wear your heart monitor to bed to make sure you stay within your target zone during any extracurricular activities.

The funeral director tells you "NO!" you can't ride your Cannondale in the funeral procession, even if you keep your headlight on.

You experience an unreasonable envy over someone who has bar end extenders longer than yours.

You're too tired for hanky-panky on a Friday night but pump out a five-hour century on Saturday.

Your wife tells you the only way she'll let you ride across the country is over her dead body and you tell her, "If that's the case, you'll be my first speed bump!"

You no longer require a hankie to blow your nose.

You have stopped even trying to explain to your spouse why you need two just go buy another one and figure it will all work out in the divorce settlement.

You buy your crutches instead of renting.

You convert your car's brake and gas pedals to clipless.

You see nothing wrong with discussing the connection between hydration and urine color.

You find your Shimano touring shoes to be more comfortable and stylish than your gunboat sneakers.

You refuse to buy a couch because that patch of wallspace is taken up by the bike.

You have more money invested in your bike clothes than in the rest of your combined wardrobe.

Biker chick means black spandex, not leather, and a Marinoni, not a Harley.

"Four cheeseburgers and four large French Fries" is for you.

You see a fit, tanned, Lycra-clad young woman ride by, and the first thing you check out is her bicycle.

You empathize with the roadkill.

Despite all that winter fat you put on, you'll skim weight by buying titanium components.

You use wax on your chain, but not on your car.

Your mud guards are made out of milk jugs.

Your first course when you eat out is a large banana split.

When driving, you yell "On Your Left!" on passing another car.

You yell "Hole!" when you see a pothole while driving your car.

Your bike has more miles on its computer then your car's odometer.

You wear your riding gloves when driving your car.

You wear your bike shorts swimming.

Your bikes are worth more than your car.

You buy a mini-van and immediately remove the rear seats to allow your bike(s) to fit.

When you move to a new area the first thing you look for is a bike shop.

You have more bike jerseys than dress shirts.

You take your bike along when you shop for a car - just to make sure the bike will fit inside.

You use the Yakima or Thule 'Fit Catalog' to pick your next new car instead of Consumer Reports.

You start yelling at cars to "hold your line."

You're comfortable bumping elbows with step vans.

You view crashes as an opportunity to upgrade components.

You clean your bike(s) more often then your car.

You're on the Board of Directors for a Bike Club.

You spend weeks during the summer spraying arrows on the sides of roads.

You and your significant other have and wear identical riding clothes.

You mount a $600 cap, on a $1,000 pickup truck, so your $3,000 bike doesn't get wet.

You can't seem to get to work by 8:30 AM, even for important meetings, but you don't have any problems at all meeting your buddies at 5:30 AM for a hammerfest.

You can tell your spouse, with a straight face, that it's too hot to mow the lawn and then bike off for a century.

You regard inter-gender discussion of genital pain as normal.

You know your cadence, but you have no idea what your speed is.

When driving your car you lean over the steering wheel, just like an aerobar.

Your car sits outside your garage because your garage is full of bikes and cycling gear.

You tailgate a semi-trailer to get the drafting effect.

You hear someone had a crash and your first question is "How's the bike?"

You smile at your evening date, and she politely points out that you seem to have bugs in your teeth.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends who are addicted to cycling.

Thanks to JJ for sending these along- I found myself laughing hard enough that I felt I got in my ab work out for the week.

Ride on.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm gonna find my bike

The last week has been nuts with graduation taking place and all the craziness that goes along with that. The on Sunday and yesterday- I was in full on recovery mode and just couldn't find the energy to hit the bike. That will all change today.

Watching Dicky's PMBAR video and reading about CVV crashing out and Tyler taking a stage win got me fired up. That and my pants aren't fitting.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

My $550 Dollar Trail Run

Running is stupid. I'm pretty sure I've made that comment a million times, and I do feel that way. It is the same way I feel about snowshoeing. However I do run and I do snowshoe- but then again I also pay taxes and I'm not always feeling so happy about that.

That being said I took the dogs out for a trail run yesterday after work. It was raining a bit and I'm lazy, so I figured it would be easier to clean up myself and the gear needed for a trail run than a bike ride, so there you have it- lazy trumps stupid.

Molly, Jake, and I headed out and settled into a nice groove. For me that means constant motion and only one nearly rolled ankle out of every 50 footfalls. We had completed the first part of the loop and I decided I wanted to do a bit of exploring for some future trail building I've been planning. So we hopped over a small stream and picked our way through the woods. We had just come across a really cool spot that had about 30 largish boulders and rocks strewn about and I was envisioning cool northshore style elements that I'd likely never ride- but sure would look agro out in the woods. I was mentally mapping where we were and just picking our new heading when Molly took off. I didn't think much of it other than thinking "Squirrel" in the voice from "UP". Then I heard her barking- and I knew it was one of four things: skunk, porcupine, bear, or another dog.

Now this list of four is not random, in fact it is quite well researched. My dogs have a tendancy to get themselves into a bit of trouble. My wife and I were trying to figure out how many skunks and porcupines the two of them have gotten into over the last few years- we lost count. Add in the handful of bears that Molly has faced off with (or the one my wife faced off with when it looked like Molly was about to get into a bit of trouble), and a King Kong sized handful of dogs that our two have scrapped with- you get the idea.

Of course being the responsible dog owner I am, I have no leash so Jake follows me as I go charging through the woods to find the barking Molly. I then hear the first yelp, followed by more barking- so my list of four remains firmly in my head. I then find her, trying to bite the ass end of a porcupine.

Now the thing about porcupines is that they don't move very quick, so this 80lb dog is yapping and trying to bite off its backside- but is is still moving at a Sunday stroll pace. And Molly, well she looks like she's got a full beard now- face full of quills and it doesn't seem to phase her- yet.

I yell to Jake to stay (this is when the leash would have been helpful) and he does for the most part. I run over and pull Molly of the porcupine and wait for it to start to scamper up the tree. But this is toooooo much for Jake, he's about 15 feet way and just vibrating- and then it happens- he busts forward grabs the porcupine (now about three feet up the tree and moving slooooooowly) by the leg and the thing falls on Jake- filling his side, paw, and part of his face with quills.

If it wasn't for what I knew was coming soon, it would have been sort of comical to watch. Now I grab both dogs and try and encourage the porcupine that moving up the tree a bit faster this time might be a good option. Of course if you've ever trying to hold two dogs by their collars while their faces are now pin cushions and at the same time trying to not get pulled over by them onto a porcupine, you'll know that there is a moment where you wonder how bad the jokes are going to get about the fact that your face is full of quills. Fortunately that didn't happen.

Next we begin the trek home. At first the dogs were fine, but they kept getting their heads a bit to close to my legs, and now the frustration of knowing I've got to pull quills, or more likely, will need to finance another significant vet bill, starts to creep into my head (there goes that new road wheelset!) At the same time I'm having that thought the dogs start to become more aware of their new Pinhead look. Jake is rubbing his face and side on the ground about every 20th step and Molly grabs at her face with her paws and tries to pull them out that way. But we slowly head home.

We get to the house and the dogs stay on the porch. I go in to let K and the girls know about the dogs and to grab a pair of leather gloves and pliers. The girls want to see and K is already on the phone with the vet. I get about 40 quills out, but each one is at the risk of loosing my hand as Molly is getting pissed and pretty snappy with her mouth. Jake is just so full on his side and is so squirmy that I just can't make much progress.

K comes out and says the vet will meet her at the office and she loads the dogs and heads out. Now the guessing game begins- how much will this one run?

About three hours later K comes home with two very dopey dogs. Molly is very out of it as they have to sedate her just for her shots, so a quill removal requires and elephant tranquilizer. Jake is a bit gimpy as his dragging his side on the ground drove a couple quills pretty deep and they had to cut him a bit to get some of them out. The total bill $550.

Remember how I started this- running sucks.