Monday, January 25, 2010

Super Weekend

Friday night we went to see High School Ski Jumping under the lights. It was awesome. I took a video clip with my phone which just doesn't do it justice. My 10yr old, D3 and I worked the jumping comp. as landing spotters to be able to let the officials know how far each jumper flew. We were about 6 feet from them as they either landed in front of us or flew past. What makes this even more cool is that I am told the New Hampshire is the last state in the Country that still has ski jumping in High School. A great Tradition for sure which I guess whichever school is the state champ can also lay claim to the title of National Champs as well.

Saturday we had some amazing weather for January in Pinkham Notch when my wife and I went to Great Glen Trails and took a skate-skiing lesson. We had a blast. You go so much faster than on classical skis. DEA can attest to my limited X-C skiing abilities but I found skating to be more intuitive and I liked the amount of speed you got for the effort you gave. I guess I have some more gear that I need to be on the lookout for. Maybe DEA has some in his garage??????

After 3+ hours of skiing we were wrecked. One problem with skating is once you are cooked there's no easy way to just shuffle along like you can do on classical gear. It's either skate or walk.

We left Great Glen and headed down from Pinkam Notch into Jackson where we stopped at the J-Town Deli where we had a wicked good lunch made fresh by the Anzaldi's who are very nice people and have some of the best food in the area. It's worth stopping in for lunch.

Sunday we had an early morning as D3 had a J5 Giant Slalom race at Wildcat Mountain. We lucked out again with a second bluebird day in Pinkham Notch. The skiing was great. The fresh snow earlier in the week had been expertly groomed into some fine cord. After a while it had broken up and we were just cruising around on the loosened up packed powder. Add temps in the low 30's and the sun and it was almost perfect. D3 had a descent first run in the GS race and was standing in 10th place. The times were pretty close together so that if he laid down a fast second run he could move up a few places. Unfortunately that was not to be. About a third of way into his run he ended up crashing onto his inside hip. It scrubbed all his speed but luckily he didn't have to hike or lose a ski. He got back up and finished the run but the fall had killed his shot at moving up and he dropped instead.

We tried to tell him that crashing is OK, (I've gotten pretty good at it) as long as you were giving it your all and having fun. Hope to have some pics up shortly as we had some awesome views of Mt. Washington and Tuckerman Ravine from Wildcat.

Too bad the forecast for today is 2 inches of rain with temps in the 40's.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Riffing on JJ's NYR Post

JJ posted a while back about his resolution to "just be better". I've been thinking about that a bit lately as I have been watching from a distance another member (not founding, but member non-the-less) wonder about his future as and dedication to being a bike racer.

I've been getting better on a bike now for well over 30 years. As a kid I dreamed of racing bikes and in my mid teens I got my chance. I was lucky as there was a private school across the street from where I grew up (literally) that had a cycling team. I hung around enough and the coach asked me to ride with them a bit. As fate would have it I would break my leg very badly the next winter and by spring I was in need of some heavy rehab, and my cycling career began in earnest. I had a chance to race for two years with that team, and I got better each year. I had dreams of being great but then reality set in that being one of the top five junior riders in Maine didn't always translate into 7-11 having a contract waiting for you for your 18th birthday.

Still I got better. I raced on and off in college, a couple of incidents with cars that didn't share my enthusiasm for sharing the road tempered my desire to be a road rider. At the time I had had a mountain bike since '88, but didn't do much mountain biking, but being in Vermont in the early 90's I got a chance to ride that wave that was mountain bike fever, even landing a job at a great shop called Skirack. While my road riding languished a bit my mountain biking got better.

While working at Skirack I started getting a bit of a road itch again, and proform on bikes can make an itch a downright irritation that must be dealt with. So I picked up a Cannondale road bike and feel in love with the speed again. It was actually on a road ride (that involved a massive hail storm, a wrong turn that added 30+ miles to the ride, and a crash through a busy intersection that was very wet) that I made up my mind to call a girl to go out on a date with me. That date went very well, in fact I said to myself on that date that I would end up marrying that girl- and 16 years latter I still am married to her.

It was during that time that cycling had moved into not only a passion but part of my livlihood as well as a common theme between K and I. I talked her into buying her first mountain bike and into working at the Skirack as well. Soon she was railing around on a mountain bike with the same passion, and it wasn't long before I watched her take the most awful wreck I've had to watch while we were riding down the face of Jay Peak. She was pretty banged up, but survived. Soon she ended up with a road bike as well (those who live in North Conway may see it from time to time- a white Diamond Back with a Team Betty- Ride Like a Girl sticker on the top tube). But during this time my understanding of cycling and my appreciation for the history of the sport began to grow, and I guess in a way I got better.

Graduation, marriage, new jobs- soon I was running my own shop and was also the head wrench- I got a lot better at working on bikes.

Kids, house, another new job- soon I got good at squeezing in rides when I could and even got my hands dirty promoting events.

Another kid, another house, another new job- I got good at squeezing rides into even less time, and I got good a keeping our growing fleet of kids bikes and trailers working, and I even "owned" a bike race for awhile.

No more new kids, same house, another new job- I got bitten by the racing bug again. I found a new crew to ride with. Jay Challenge presented itself- I was back trying to be a racer again. Epic year of training, stories, and racing. I made some of the best friends I'll ever have- so I'm going with I was still getting better. Heck JJ and I even end up getting the opportunity to ride for Team Bikeman!

Still no more kids, and we still have the house, but now live in another house, and yet another new job- my infatuation with single speed and cyclocross has gotten to a point that I might require medication. I'm now in a place where I need to build trails to ride trails. I'm getting chances to expose kids to cycling, and remember that school that had a cycling team way back at the start of this? Well I work there now and am working on bringing a cycling team back in the coming years. So I'm still feeling like I'm getting better.

I guess my point is that we get better every year, as long as we get out and ride. We may not get faster, we may lose some technical skills, but all in all if we are riding we are getting better in some way. Now get out and ride.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A shake up of the fleet

It's that time of year when I start dreaming of what I will be riding next year. Unlike past years I don't have any designs on a new race bike. The Mamasita will continue to take up the role of SS race bike, the Chilli Con will serve in the cross department and the Primero will help me out with the handful of road events that I sign up for. However with my advancing age the time has come to bring gears back into the fold, at least part time, in the mountain bike side of the equation. Since I'm bringing back gears I should also consider suspension- so throw some squish under my hands and butt and we're in business.

The game plan is to own one of these:

This of course is the Salsa Big Mama. I'm still torn between the XT version vs the SRAM version. The hangup that I have is with the fork. I'm a big fan of Fox forks, and the SRAM version comes with a Rock Shock fork (or course). The reality is I wouldn't ever notice the difference- but I just had such good luck with the Fox on my SC Blur and the Kona that I had in the previous decade.

I of course still lust for a Big Dummy. But not sure if that is in the cards this year.

That being said I may be in the bike sales world for a bit. I'm looking at maybe (see how committed I am) to selling my Salsa El Mariachi SS. I will also be looking to sell a Trek WSD 1.2 woman's road bike (42cm). I built up K a cross bike spec'd with an older DA kit and with the number of wheels we have lying around and the fact that she puts in maybe 10 days a year on a bike I'm not sure if she needs two road style bikes. I'll get some photos and pricing thoughts pulled together soon, once I talk myself into actually saying goodbye to a bike. Usually JJ ends up with my retired bikes, but I don't see that being the case with this!

That's about it. Work is busy. Skiing is good.

Until next time, Ride on.