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.