Monday, May 26, 2008

Root 66 Coyote Hill Classic Day One:
Short Track and Hill Climb

Got Saturday off for this one so we loaded up the family truckster with Greg, Colin, and Linnea and set out for West Fairlee, VT semi early in the AM. We got to Tom Masterson’s Coyote Hill center with ample time to mess around. It was a schizophrenic day, hot and cold all at once with rain showers out of blue skies and swarms of black flies trying to devour us as we tried to register for the short track and hill climb events.

Dandelions make for a Tour De France like backdrop, in miniature.

Before the Short Track we were able to get out for a full lap of the XC course. Big climb from the start, screaming decent out of the hole shot, fast, loose sliding the rear wheel type corners, roots and more roots, fresh cut loaminess, stream crossings, bridges, rocks, steep drop offs, and more climbing. It was virtually bone dry this year so I began re-thinking the gear choice, I’d shown up with a 32 X 18, thinking that would be steep. It didn’t feel so steep in the singletrack and the climb was nicely graded and not so loose that I couldn’t get up it in a bigger gear. That night I would throw on the Surly 33t ring for that little jump up in gearing, not wanting to commit to dropping a tooth in the back. I’ve found that riding a light gear in tight singletrack is much like driving a car down a winding Vermont road in fifth gear when you should be in third, it’s like that Bad Religion album…No Control. It’s funny, on a geared bike you switch between two gears and it’s kinda like “meh”, on a single speed a one tooth difference is everything. We’re talking the difference between Graham Parsons and Alan Parsons here.

Lazlo Shaw rips the pump track while I struggle up the climb

No time to mess with the gearing before the Short Track though, got totally spun out, even up the climb I felt like I was on flat ground, I’d recover and breath through the very ‘Cross race like decent (but with a couple berms),down through the grassy field, I’d catch my breath just in time to start drooling and wagging my tongue out of my mouth again up the climb. Greg Carpenter went out Ryan Trebon fast, dropping everybody, it was kind of scary. The way I was riding I thought “man, he is going to lap me in about three minutes. Fortunately all the guys who tried to match the pace of that lil’ whipper snapper slowed down considerably as the not quite thirty minute race went on and super-fast roadie Josh Dillon flatted out somewhere. The last hold out was Jeff Whittingham who was doing pretty damn well (whether he thinks so or not). in a super-high intensity event for a guy that hasn’t raced his bike yet this year I probably went the exact same speed throughout but in the end managed to catch all but the totally out of sight Carpenter. Watch out for this kid, he can ride a bike like it’s his job, and someday soon that just might be the case.

Straightening a rotor with LED assistance. Jeff and Seneca. Tools of a neurotic Single Speeder.

Next up was the Hill Climb, I’d pre-ridden the course and had resigned myself to the fact that I would be going for a hike with my bike. It wasn’t a straight up climb either, it actually had two downhills in it, glad I didn’t try to rock the ‘Cross bike which had been my initial plan. I rode all but the final bit of the climb, walking not running it, knowing that I was not doing anywhere close to well. Whittingham and Mellen blew by as I was tacking up the second steepest pitch, gasping out, “this isn’t working”. Whittingham went on to win with Mellen in second and Dillon in third.

Root 66 Coyote Hill Classic Day Two:
Cross Country

We stayed over in Waitsfield at the Whittinghams with Whittibaby and Whittidog (no blog for the dog…yet, but it’s only a matter of time). They have an amazing spot over there, you literally cross a covered bridge to get to their house. Jeff and Jenn fixed us up with a big pasta dinner, chocolate cupcakes, and ice cream, just what any Euro-pro would eat the night before a big race. Sleep didn’t go well, but it rarely does, even spooning with Montello in the guest bed didn’t help any.
The coffee is always special at the Whittingham’s, three cups later I wasn’t feeling like I’d slept a mere six hours. Then it was down to The Green Cup for an amazing breakfast with extra toast. In Vermont toast is a delicacy, fresh local butter and artisan bread put the stuff over the top. The coffee ain’t shabby at that spot neither.

Colin needs to drink more coffee. The Whittinghams. Bronte, the horrible Beast.

This day was gorgeous, Tom Masterson’s place is what people dream about when they dream of Vermont. Red barns, green mountains, flowers everywhere, and singeltrack surrounding it like construction workers around a roach coach. We were there mega-early to cheer on IBC sport riders Alex, and George. Alex ended up second with George rounding out the top ten in his class and scoring himself some series points. The extra time allowed us to take another lap of the course, which was worth doing just because it was so damn fun to ride. It makes such a difference when you’re racing on trails built and maintained solely for the purpose of mountain biking, this stuff was just 100% fun.

Recent upgrades to The Rig, AKA "Bailey" or "Creamy Beige" have made it a bit lighter. A full compliment of Bontrager Race X Lite Parts have brought the weight down to 23.5Lbs. This was the first ride on 'em and they worked frickin' great.

Came up to the start line sweating and warmed up (so I thought), squeezed in next to Greg Carpenter hoping to get a lead out on a good start for once, Adam Snyder jumped in front of me which is where he should have been and where he would stay by a mile so that was fine by me. It actually came as a shock how crappily I started, even for me. I thought the uphill would help but it only helped me get dropped as I watched Paul Simoes take the hole shot. I dropped into the singeltrack out of the top ten behind Greg Montello and a wicked young dude who I don’t know yet, but who probably hates my guts, I’ll get to that in a second. Greg had told me that if I ended up behind him in the singetrack just to tell him to move, unfortunately there was this kid between us who he didn’t want to let by as well so I had to figure out a way to pass him before I could take Greg up on his generous offer. Eventually the issue had to be forced and after one too many bobbles I said “alright, you gotta ride faster or get out of the way” as at this point Montello was gapping him. Shortly thereafter I strong-armed past the kid and Montello let me go by. I took out some frustration on the singetrack, trying to kick it’s ass with my big knobbly wheels. After a little bit too much heavy breathing like a creepy crank caller I settled in behind the next group. Aside from one classic single-speeder trying to pedal through everything, clipping a crank on a rock going uphill, and flipping bony ass over coffee maker(tea kettles are for British Grans) I kept the bike upright.

Men in Black

Toward the end of the second lap I was feeling better and I started to catch glimpses of other riders in the singletrack. To give you an idea of how labor intensive this course is, I would try to check my watch to see what the gaps were but I couldn’t without dying so I just guess-timated it and thought I was closing. Where you could really get an idea of where you stood was through the slightly graded winding trails leading up to the field at the start/finish. At the close of the lap I could see Whittingham and Cavanaugh ahead, I paced myself gapping up to them, finally making contact just after the feedzone. I stood up on the steep, grassy climb, which seemed hotter every lap, got on top of the gear and came past those guys out onto the dirt road climb. I sat down and tried to spin up it like I do my water tower workouts, riding like it was the last thing I had to do all day, hammering up the last pitch fully pegged into the singletrack knowing that I would have a couple minutes of descending to recover.

Stretch Leg-Strong

Jenn Whittingham was doing bottle feeds and had thought we were a lap ahead so she had handed me my bottle of flat coke for the last lap going into lap three. At first I was nervous that I would cramp or have a sugar crash before the race ended but it turned out to be the best thing possible. I was suddenly wide awake and lucid, ready to shred the trails as hard as I possibly I could. Maybe I’ll race exclusively on coke from here on out. It’s also just plain awesome to get bottle hand ups and not have to carry all the extra weight of multiple bottles or a Camelbak, thanks Jenn W., you’re a life saver.

Linnea and Colin talk strategy. Alex grinding it out. The most placid part of the course.

Third lap was sweet, just riding fast as hell, taking chances, laying it out, mostly by my lonesome, occasionally passing lapped riders. Same place as the lap prior I saw two more riders in my class, Michael Mooradian and Aaron Oakes. About the same thing happened as lap three, caught them in the same spot, and attacked the same way up the climb, but went even harder knowing it was the last time I’d have to do it until next year. Once in the singletrack I went even nuttier, brakeless down to the next hard right-hander up the fire road. Here I ran into a lapped rider, gave him a bunch of warnings then made a bad pass while talking some smack. I felt bad, but that’s bike racing for ya, and after the race with hand shakes and pats on the back we were good.
I had no idea where I stood but kept drilling it regardless, looking for more prey. The only guy I ran into was Greg Carpenter who, after a great start and what looked to be a great ride was side-lined with a catastrophic flat. He would cross the line running like hell with his tire wrapped around his waste and his front rim bare. Like I said, watch out for this guy.
After I crossed the line, fully tapped out, ready to have a heart attack, I went over to the results tent to assess the damage only to find that I had somehow made the podium again , well behind Justin Lindine and Adam Snyder. Michael Mooradian would come across in fourth with Mike Joos coming in fifth having made up a whole bunch of time on people.

"What the hell did you just say, don't make me come down off this thing! ". Adam Snyder looking at the podium rookie going "god, what a douche you wait for the event photographer to say "arms up, not one of your friends...tool!". There we go.

Big thanks to Jeff and Jenn for everything, well dones to Colin, Linnea, George, Rachel, Alex (and an extra well done for the Margarita cupcakes, wow-wow-wee-wow), Miriam for getting me registered for The Vermont 50 because it fills up in two seconds these days and there was no way I’d be back in time to do it myself, and thanks to Andy for also registering me for The 50 due to a miscommunication…better to be registered twice than not at all. Hell of a weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Church
Some folks go to church, I go to the Water Tower in Arlington. What others describe as a "religious experience" I find as I descend down the inbound side of Route 2 in a thunderstorm with The Stooges "Gimme Danger" blaring in my ears. No drug, no delusion, no...nothing could make me feel that good.
     I didn't feel so good though as I finished my last repeat and dropped down Park Ave. to the bike path. My body was convulsing in shivers, my arms covered in goose bumps, knees a deep shade of purple, I was in serious trouble...if I wasn't ten minutes from home, a hot shower, and some take out hot and sour soup from East Asia I would have gone more than mildly hypothermic. As it was Miriam had to take my gloves off and remove all the various items from pockets while I stood there with my hands formed into useless white claws and my legs buckling. When you do stuff this painful and stupid in training, races seem like jumping in a ball pit at Burger King. 
Think riding a single speed is simple? Not for this guy. Don't know how many pieces of paper I have lying around with gear calculations scribbled on them, don't know how many hours I've spent replaying courses in my mind, pondering whether I would gear up or gear down next time. Having a freehub style system is key, messing around with freewheels is no fun for anyone. They cost more than cogs, they aren't as well sealed, and they seize on and often require brute force and hammers to get them off. If you're going to have one gear it better be the right one. 

The above photo is from the EFTA site. It's allegedly from The Horror at Harding Hill race in Sunapee, NH in 2006. It's not really, it's from 2002, it was taken by my 
(Ex)Uncle Paul Webb. That is 2002 Thom P. right there, all 172 or so pounds of him, about 20 more pounds than I carry today. To my left is Paul Simoes and a little behind him is another legend, Kenny Shardlow. Those guys kicked my ass so much back then it wasn't even funny. You know what is really funny? The bizarre "comments" underneath the photo, I think that site needs some sort of filter on it, yikes, be afraid. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

EFTA NECS #1 Glocester Grind, Glocester, RI
Just Ride Your Bike

The night before a race my preparation routine is incredibly meticulous. I like to go to an afternoon wedding ( like Stefan Scott’s for example) then proceed to double fist Stellas (yes, the other fist held a pint of ice water) at the open bar for four hours, and assemble a pre-race meal comprised of fried Trout cakes, fried fritters (which I thought were vegetarian, but contained pork), deviled eggs, fried veggie dumplings, and the lion’s share of a cheese plate. My stomach still isn’t speaking to me, actually it is…quite loudly, it sounds like Lewis Black with a megaphone, and that’s the problem. In the morning I picked up IBC teammates Jesse and Uri at IBC Newton. I had, in a rare moment of charismatic persuasiveness convinced them accompany me to this event. Action with very little thought behind it, that’s the stuff adventure is made of.

It was a beautiful day in Rhode Island, the recent spring rains bringing the green to the trees almost overnight. The venue was essentially at someone’s house, that’s New England Grass Roots racing for ya. Not much of a warm up was had, just headed out for a pre-ride of the first third of the course. Doug Peckham, the promoter of this event is (in)famous for his sadistic genius when it comes to course design. Design, don’t know if that’s the word, Doug’s courses are more Jackson Pollack than Rodchenko. If I were some Christian-whack-job-primitive on right wing radio I’d dub it something like “Belligerent Design”. Stay with me for a second here…if New England Mountain bike courses were western films Doug could change his name ever so slightly to “Peckham-Pah” and his courses would be “The Wild Bunch” to NORBA’s aseptic episodes of Gunsmoke.
Uri is happy and salty. Uninviting man-made pond. Jesse's wound and sick tan lines.

The first race I ever did on a single speed was Peckham’s “Richardson’s Saw Mill” race. My IF geared bike got stolen, my friend Kurt leant me his Voodo SS, I think it had a monstrous 32 X 18 (if that ) on it. It went well, like punching your fist through a windshield while jacked up on PCP, and the results were about as painful. Back then I was a crazy spinner, a big ring was something to smash on rocks and gash the back of your calf with, so when the trail bit it was as if a million muscle fibers cried out at once and were suddenly silenced. I spent the rest of the race bouncing off rocks like a human pinball and walking, finally getting lapped by the entire sport field as a lovely young lad taunted “They’re catching you!”. I completed one of two eleven mile laps and dropped out before my knees exploded like a small pig in a giant microwave oven. That was the first and last time I dropped out of a race for a non-catastrophic reason. If you call guaranteed knee reconstruction and the transplant and replacement of my lower back with that of a baboon “non-catastrophic”. It took all these years and race seasons to realize that Peckham’s races are the ideal Single Speed races. There are virtually no open areas where the roadies types can whup up on the mountain guys. Sure you can get cranking in the big ring and hit terminal velocity just in time to rail into a rock garden and knock your teeth out but that would be just plain silly. These are “Just Ride Your Bike” courses. If you can clean the majority of the tricky sections, stay upright, keep your bike intact (tall order), and survive ‘til the end you’ll do well.

Oh ya, I raced my bike, I might want to talk about that bit eventually. We lined up, the Elite field was on the small side, but had some strong guys in it. Matt O’keefe from CCB was there, one of the two fastest guys on the New England circuit, rumor was that he’s prepping for some big road race and that he’d been out for six hours the day before, the way he took off from the gun it seemed like a six hour ride was a light spin with openers for the guy. I took second wheel, sitting not too uncomfortably, wheezing anaerobically, trying to stay with Matt for as long as possible. Behind us were Colin Eggleton, Paul Simoes, and Michael Patrick (I apologize to the others, I just haven’t met you yet). Colin was a Pro at age 18, was top ten at Junior worlds, the kid could basically not ride a bike for three years, subsist on nothing but trans fat smoothies and Doritos, and still come out on any day and kick all sorts of ass. One of the most physically gifted mountain bikers I’ve ever known. Paul is a monster, this was his kind of course, he rides the unrideable, he swears at his bike like a prospector at his mule, he is preternaturally strong, able to wrestle a huge gear on his single speed. And Michael, he’s still getting up to speed after a long winter of Chemo-therapy and recovery, but even at partial-speed he is as dangerous as a Capybara at bay (if it had brass knuckles and a bolo knife).

Things were going alright then Matt used his superior ‘Cross skills and that thing under his helmet, in his head, that I guess I have but don’t often use which told him not to try to ride the first rock garden because it was virtually unrideable and getting knocked off and then running is way slower than preemptively dismounting and galloping through. I also managed to burp my tire pretty bad (tapping out a little pressure on the line after it was fine on the pre-ride, unwise). This burp lead to more burps, which lead to flatness and bottoming out the rim on rocks. So I stopped to hit the tire with some CO2, here Colin and Paul passed me, it took me a while to gap back up to Colin, I rode with him for a while, recovering from the catching back up, then he had a drivetrain issue which was too bad. Paul had really taken off and by the time I got a bead on him he had passed Matt, things were not looking so alright all of a sudden.
Oddly enough, I caught Matt and passed him, the chickens of the previous day’s efforts coming home to roost. Then I saw, or rather heard Paul screaming bloody murder at his bike. He’d bent his chainring on a stone wall and was in the process of bashing it back in line with a rock. Now I was in the lead and I got that “I just threw a rock at a hornet’s nest feeling” and took off. Shortly thereafter I tripped a pedal on a rock just before a really complex rock garden (using the word “rock” four times in three sentences…totally unavoidable), the trip sent me into a front flip, and my hands weren’t fast enough to prevent my face from planting itself into the ground. The new pink helmet works I guess and it looks great doing it. After the flip I couldn’t get into my right pedal, I’d whack my foot on the side of it, trying to dislodge any foreign objects which might be gumming up the works. I’d eventually get in, only to dismount and find that I then couldn’t get in and my foot would keep flying out on the upstroke as I was climbing, wicked awesome. I didn’t realize until after the race that I had smashed one of the tension plates on my new XTR pedal, another wicked awesome for that.

Going into the last lap I heard the gap was solid, I came through the Start/Finish, reaching for a bottle I had left baking in the sun on a sideways tractor tire, knocking it into the middle portion. This caused me to dismount and fumble to retrieve it, good thing I had that gap. I imagine that I looked so disheveled and delirious that folks were going “is that guy really the leader? He’s a God damn mess”.

Brown-nosed from face-planting.

Last lap was a combination of riding semi-conservatively in the tech-sections for the sake of equipment-preservation (more ‘Cross than Trials skills coming into play) and absolutely hammering anything I could hammer. One thing I didn’t ride conservatively was the big log hop, I’d ridden it every lap but not as fast or smooth as this lap. I threaded the needle between the rocks approaching it brakeless at speed and glided over, wheel to wheel, landing in the rock garden on the opposite side, pedaling through the muddy corner beyond and grinning ear to ear. Man, this was a fun course. I managed to clean one tricky root section which had thwarted me the rest of the race, wheely-ing into a pool of muddy water and lunging up the rooty embankment on the other side, sliding sideways on the off camber slipperiness, and finding traction at the very last second to ride out of it.

Toward the end my internal soundtrack went off…track, Motorhead’s “Overkill” lapsing into Devo’s “Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin’)”, apropos as I was getting pretty sloppy, although I wasn't missing the holes, making more and more mistakes as I went on. I brought Overkill back before it was too late though, and started turning the cranks over at a good clip.
There was no real victory salute, just a subtle flash of either a “Hang loose, shaka-brah” or a sign of the horns type hand gesture (can’t remember which ) and a sigh of relief. Paul Simoes rolled across in second place to make this the second weekend in a row that Single Speeds occupied the two top spots on the podium, watch out now! Gotta love the EFTA awards ceremony too, no podium, no medals, no trophies, just a handshake, a “good job”, and a folded bill of a large denomination.

Next stop Coyote Hill.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Root 66 Brialee Ramblin' Rumble:
Movin' On Up

Woke up feeling like this was not my day. Had that “demon elves came with caulking guns full of cement, stuck them in my ears, and filled up my head during the night” feeling. You know what I’m talking about right? There was not enough coffee in the world to burn it off. So groggy and unmotivated, I slumped behind the wheel and drove down to Ashford, CT.
My fuzzy math skills had landed me there even earlier than I’d planned, which was already plenty early. The start was 11:45, not 11:15, I could do with making those kind of mistakes more often. I got a lap or so in before the race, the course was dope, very technical and gnarly, a real roadie killer, moo ha, ha, ha. I had opted to run a Camelbak…which I despise, totally sucks and throws me off, but I knew there would be few places to drink and I had no one feeding me bottles so it seemed like the best choice at the time.
About last place into the woods, maybe not that bad, but close anyway, I could still see all the leaders, this is a new experience for me, I’m still getting used to it. Moved up a few spots, partially due to checking and re-checking some of the early parts of the course for good lines. I could see Sean Cavanaugh up front putting the hurt on the geared guys, but I was out back ,struggling to get my cloudy head in the game. Gaps formed and I lost sight of the front of the race. A little while later I caught up to Alec Donahue and another guy. I had looked at the results from the Sterling Road Race the day prior, Alec had taken second in the Pro/1/2 race after riding in a break with Mark McCormack all day. The fact that he was slowing this dead beat down on the climbs was probably a result of that business.
Oops, gotta back up here. Before running into Alec I had happened upon Sean Cavanaugh as he was remedying a burped tire situation. He quickly gapped back up to me and then it was, as they say…”on”. There are certain riders you have a sort of psychological link with, something in your brain says “I can go as fast as this guy…no matter what”. Your brain forces your body to do so as it writhes and screams in pain. A problem arises when the other rider’s brain tells their body the same exact thing. The battle that ensued between Sean and I was akin to a fist fight where two men grab each other by the throat and proceed to trade unblocked punches directly the face…for nearly two hours.

Directions from the south scribbled out, directions from the north scrawled in, and the correct start time right there plain as day, not to be noticed until the ride home.

Don’t remember seeing anyone but lapped riders out there for a while after that. Due to the short length of the course (Dear Root 66 race organizers…five laps for the Pros next year) the lapped traffic became a major issue by the end. I apologize in particular to the Bikeman rider I passed just toward the end, I think I was a little snippy (Cough! Understatement, Cough!) with him. For anyone reading this who might have fallen victim to the rudeness of me or another rider in my class, please try to understand, if you’re riding in no man’s land, you have two guys battling it out behind you and another guy in their class has just passed you fifteen seconds prior, you are effectively between a father bear and his cubs…who he badly wants to eat.
What was going on ahead of us, I did not know, but I thought there were several dudes up there, my only concern was ditching Sean. However we are evenly (but differently) matched. I would get a gap through the mud and roots, that’s my bread and butter. He would rocket his rigid Niner up the steep, punchy climbs and kill my gaps. I would think that I could get him in the really rough stuff because he wasn’t running a suspension fork,but I couldn’t really, he would go just as fast as I. Somewhere in there I decided to enact “Operation Reckless Abandon” , I would ride like a brakeless nut, take huge risks, and ultimately rid myself of Sean, but it turned into something more like “Operation Wreck and Abandon” as I dove down over a wooden bridge and into an uphill turn at Godspeed (that’s really f-in’ fast), clipped a pedal or something and flew to the ground like goat hucked off a cliff by a Golden Eagle. I guess it looked bad enough that Sean thought he should stop and see of I was alright, that or he is just a class act all the way, or a combination of both. Took me a while to regain my composure and I actually lost sight of Sean for awhile, but I did see Foley ahead.
Fourth lap I dropped the Camelbak like a peeing toad and took off with renewed impetus after Foley and the monolithic Bethel Cycles rider beyond. I closed the gap back to Sean eventually and the battle was on once again. We passed a side-lined with a flat Andrew Freye and could see totallybad-ass junior Seamus Powell a ways up. Here I started thinking, “Ya see this is why you never give up, this is why you always go hard to the end, anything can happen”. After a miserable beginning to the day and the race I felt that I may be holding onto the series lead and possibly nabbing another podium spot.
I made a decisive move through the mud section, I think Sean bobbled, but I got a big ‘ol gap. Then I tried to power up the steep, stair-stepped climb and my right foot came out of my pedal. Gap…gone. I kept the lead until the last maybe 1/4 mile, giving it all. Sean came around and lead into the last singletrack section before the line. I tried to be all savvy and come around on the outside for the sprint but the combination of my ass already being resoundingly kicked and Sean’s .18 gear inch advantage (yes I calculated it and yes I am joking) he crossed the line half a bike length ahead of me…for the WIN! Yes, two guys who aren’t from Wisconsin who aren’t brothers one-twoed a Pro race on Single Speed 29ers. I hate text messagy acronym’s but I also generally don’t curse (too, too much) on the blog here but WTF?
I’m being serious when I say I wouldn’t even have been happier with the win. I went as hard as I could, I had nothing left, and I had damn good time doing it. Sometimes after a race you scrutinize the results, going “man, forty seconds to the next guy, oh, I shoulda, coulda…aw crap”. But I know there was nothing more I could do here and that’s a satisfying feeling. Big, HUGE ups to Sean for the win, it was a good field and he earned it, like he said after the race “It’s gonna be a fun season”.

The Beer Fairy left me a present for after the race, thank you Beer Fairy, whoever you are.

On a side note this might be a good time to go off on my “Finishing is winning” rant. It relates somewhat to my bit on Tim Johnson’s “lucky win” at ‘Cross Nationals but on the mountain biking front. The short of it is this: if you cross the finish line before another rider, you beat them. If you cross the finish line DFL and another rider was DNF…you beat them. Dropping out because “you’re not feelin’ it” is losing. Having a technical due to poor equipment choices is losing, flatting…losing, you get the picture. One of my favorite overheard quotes was at the Palmer ‘Cross race years ago. A junior was coming through the start/finish and whining to his dad about how he was going to drop out. His dad replied “The FIRST race you drop out of is the LAST race I pay for!”. Yeah guy.
Showing up to a race with sound equipment, picking good lines, not crashing, not flatting, not breaking your bike, it’s all part of this game. In road racing flatting or crashing can be bad luck, in mountain biking it usually isn’t, it’s bad bike-riding (or bad equipment to some extent). Would these excuses work in motorsports? No. If you show up to a Nascar event and forget to put gas in your car, don’t take a tire change, flat, then decide to turn right instead of left, you lose.
I just wanted to clarify for the roadies (or other folks that don’t get it) out there that come over to the dirt side and say things like “Yeah, I would have beaten that guy but a., b., or c. happened”. On the road you don’t hear a guy say “Yeah, I would have totally beaten that guy but he rode his bike up the hill faster…he got lucky!”.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I'm Hot For Time Trial

I don't know why I become obsessed with certain things, like bike racing in general or The Dover Wednesday Evening Time Trial
in particular, maybe after another cup of coffee I'll figure it out. Maybe not. This thing has been my fitness check for the past few years. I don't go Aero, I don't change up my bike significantly,
I want to know if I have become faster here, here, and here (pointing to my legs, lungs, and head like a three year old nodding "yes" while on the phone with their dad).
This month (it only occurs once per month) I headed down there with Linnea and Colin
we pretty much went TTT pace all the way down, which is a "great" way to warm up. I lined up in second to last position with the a very serious looking Aero guy behind me. I took off, fumbling with my right head phone, had to have my motivational music going, this time it was a mix of Ministry, Rammstein, and Van Halen. "Hot for Teacher" was doubled up because it is such an ideal TT tempo track, I guess that would be an ideal "TTTT". Last time I went with the Cro Mags and after this very scientifical test I have determined that Van Halen makes one ride faster than the Cro Mags. Next month I may experiment with Motorhead or Dragonforce.
Oh, before I forget, the above photo is from this guy he's really quite good. I would say "long story slightly less long here or something like that, but there is no real story here. So I guess I could say "long tangential, babbling rant made short" and tell you that I bettered last month's time by about twenty seconds, but was off last year's best time by seven seconds. And that is about as exciting as watching Golf ,or NASCAR , or Baseball, or the first week of The Tour De France, or...I shut up now.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


After what seemed like an eternity of waiting and riding around on what was a perfectly awesome geared bike (which I hated) my new Rig is finally here and I am one stoked camper. No racing this weekend and I didn't end up heading to VT to ride the gaps with Whittingham
so plan B was to ride my new bike as much as possible. Couldn't work it out saturday so I put all my chips down on sunday, all in, I don't play poker so I really have no idea what I'm talking about here.

The Rig in it's just slightly altered from stock state. Threw on a Race X Lite stem and bar, the wheels from my 07 Rig with Bontrager Jones ACX's set up tubeless, weighs in at 24.7 Lbs, with a few more upgrades I should have it a wee bit lighter soon enough.

Sunday AM, woke up at 11:30, didn't know I could still sleep in like a hungover teenager, but I pulled it off (thanks to Miriam for the Tequila shots, ow). Drank a few buckets of coffee while throwing the disc brakes on Miriam's recently converted to single speed Stumpjumper and we were out the door. Six minutes later we were on the trails, it was a wet "morning" but the rain was holding off for a bit. The roots were slick and the moss covered rocks were bright green and as beautiful and deadly as a great white shark (if it got plastic surgery to look more like Rosario Dawson).

We played around for a couple hours, at one point we ran into an all star crew of riders including local pro Sara Bresnick-Zocchi, Michael Zocchi, and MTB Mind's Rich Blair, good to see some other folks out there. Then I got a call from my neighbor, IF racer guy Greg The Leg, I made a plan to meet him back at the house in half an hour. I called another fast mountain bike riding neighbor Colin Reuter and roped him into the ride as well.

Actually a shot from the sunnier Thursday AM ride. McQueen muscling his Rig up part of the NEMBA MTB loop.

I hadn't eaten anything before the first ride of the day, the plan was to have a big brunch and the time to digest it before the sequel later in the day, but no dice. Before Greg and Colin showed up I scarfed a piece of toast with a pound of jam on it and downed yet another cup of coffee. By the end of the 2.5 hour second ride my body was devouring itself. We went out and did some the best technical stuff in The Fells, heading all the way up to the northern tip and back down again. Technical issues were rampant. Colin front flatted, didn't have a tube, and as I stood there explaining to him how he would have to kind of knot my 29" tube into his 26" tire I realized that I had, in fact brought a 26" tube. Sheer brilliance.

So we were at the top of the Fells with no tubes and more pointy rocks in-between us and home than you can swing a cat at.
Greg's rear tire was leaking but with frequent stops to air it up he was alright. Then I went to hop a log, my foot unclipped, my glasses flew off my helmet, and I came down all cock-eyed, catastrophically burping my tire. Luckily the seal held and I was able to fill it up and ride on. Greg also had the seal plate on his White freewheel back off causing the body of the freewheel to jam between the hub and the frame, bizarre. I was able to pull it apart (dropping the pawls in the dirt and finding them in the process) and get it going again. Lastly Greg developed a gash in the sidewall of his old Hutchinson tire which became a not so slow leak.

We all hobbled home under our own power and I subsequently ate enough take out Chinese food to feed a family in the Gansu province for a week.

My first impression of the new Rig is 100% positive. Why I like it so much more than it's geared, identical counterpart The Paragon is unquantifiable for the most part. It's quiet, the freehub is silent, pushing the same gear as I would on a geared drivetrain feels easier and better. It's stiff as all hell but with the large contact patch of the 29" tires coupled with the suppleness of running tubeless at sub 30 psi makes for a smooth ride. I would sit here and try to convey how psyched I am on the new ride in type but I'd rather go get some sleep and dream about riding in the woods again.