Friday, May 29, 2009

Errands by Mountain Bike

Ooh, that sounds exciting doesn't it? Warning: I don't think this post is going to contain a gram of positivity. I don't get a lot of time off from racing and working right now and what do I want to do with the paltry amount of free time I do have? You guessed it! I want to ride out to the town offices in Lexington Mass in the 50° drizzle, pay me excise tax from 2003 which I just found out about, then noodle my way down to The Arsenal mall in Watertown to wait two hours at the registry to get my license renewed. You are a good guesser.

It will never cease to amaze me...the amount of effort people put into being lazy. Doing anything relating to cars and the registry of motor vehicles is such a royal, time-consuming pain in the ass, yet people work it out. They wait for hours, they take time off from work, they probably miss their kids Little League games. It's amazing there are so many cars on the road. If I didn't drive to races I wouldn't have bothered to get my damn license renewed (that and something about needing it to get a Marriage license).

While waiting (in full lycra) I was made fun of more than once by flat cap wearing dudes in pants large enough to clothe a Cape Buffalo. This really hurt my feelings because I would much rather be wearing what they're wearing, driving the lowered douche bag mobile they're driving, listening to the insipid music they listen to, and generally living their primitive, useless, retarded lives.

That's my way of saying "I'm happy being me".

Sorry, just having one of those I hate everybody except for maybe three people days. Don't worry, you're one of them.

Aah! Wait, don't go away yet, it's SingleSpeed-A-Polooza this Sunday. I have a 100% sane plan of leaving for New York at 3:30 AM "Saturday Night" (it's not like I'm going to sleep anyway). I've actuallly got one, maybe two spots left in the car (which I am now totally legal to drive). If you love Single Speeds and hate sleep (or more like sleep hates you) then you're a friend of mine and you can have a spot in the car. If you like The Stooges and stopping to pee a lot, we'll get along great.

My Misanthrope License.
I'm wearing my 29er Crew Jersey
which kind of makes me look like an
evil Army Officer from a Sc-Fi movie.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Root 66 Coyote Hill Report

Here we go, another frantic, breathless (pointless) report with very little regard for punctuation, structure, or grammatical rules of any kind.

After Tremblant Linnea and I bolted down to Waitsfield, VT to stay with the The Whittinghams. Slept like absolute hell as per usual, but the coffee with real VT maple syrup was enough to crack me out of my sleep-deprived stupor. I needed all my mental alertness to survive the caravan following Jeff over to West Fairlee and Tom Masterson's Coyote Hill race. It got interesting when I didn't have cell reception or any way of communicating the fact that I needed to pee (those who know me, know I pee about nine times on the way to a race) I had Jeff back-tracking wondering where the hell we were.

It had rained pretty hard in the AM then become quite sunny, yet not hot, perfect conditions. Warm up didn't really happen, just rode up the opening climb a few times, chatting with people. Everyone was there, and then some. It was unbelievable, the parking situation was like nothing I'd seen at the race before, overflowing up the street.

Harry, the only person besides two year old Seneca who's butt is small enought to fit in this high chair. Party Girl. Jeff swaps tires ten minutes before we are about to leave for Coyote Hill. Breakfast at The Green Cup, so good. Harry Precourt makes me look like I pick at my food.

When we lined up, we had over thirty Pros. Not bad. Actually, the largest field I've seen at a regional race. This sport may be on the way back up. The first of the two hole shots wasn't as silly as some years, they backed us down the field a little ways so we didn't just take two pedal strokes, then run, ten abreast into a bridge wide enough for one rider. I didn't find myself so bad off coming over the bridge, made a few passes and found myself mid-pack going up the dirt road climb to the woods. I punched it a little bit, just catching the top ten train as we dropped over the edge of the road and into the singletrack.

The first section of singletrack is something I have good dreams about (on the rare occasions that sleep long enough to experience REM sleep). I was lucky enough to follow Nate Ringquist and Greg Carpenter down it during my warm up (the course was too muddy for an entire pre-ride). They showed me the way of The Brakeless Warrior...or something . If you ride that section right, you basically don't hit your brakes until the log-cross-hatched mud bog at the bottom. You get a euphoric, floaty feeling as you rail up over the couple little lumps and loft off the small kickers along the way. It's seems to go on forever, which is part of the reason that, although his course has a decent amount of climbing, it doesn't really feel like it. You lose all your elevation on the first decent, wind your way through a few miles of rooty, tight singeltrack,
then meander back up a slight grade along the river, go up a couple punchy little bastard climbs, then hit the road and gain most of the elevation back there.

The Whittibaby Show

First lap we had the requisite jockeying for position thing going on. Someone would bobble, I'd go by, I'd bobble someone else would go by. There were maybe three sections which were super-hard to clean on the single speed with the 34 X 19 gear, after I figured that out I chose to preemptively dismount and run them, instead of getting knocked off and having to awkwardly step off my bike and wrestle it up the hill from a standstill. The singletrack in this course has so many little wallows, and on a day like Sunday, when it's so wet and soft it really takes it out of you, it has you praying for the climbs...where you can recover.

As things sorted themselves out I found myself chasing John Foley, Seamus Powell, Matt O'Keefe, and Ben Silberfarb. I was being chased by Paul Simoes, I couldn't see anyone behind him. Paul is also a Single-Speeder and this year he has a real bike, a Fisher Rig with a rigid fork, he is now more dangerous than ever. I was definitely feeling a bit more ON than I was on Saturday, I was breathing hard, my legs were moving, both good signs. I was able to pass Matt at some point, I think on the road. Seamus and Foley had gapped me pretty bad, but Silberfarb was in site, I set to reeling him in.

We had the classic battle of the fit guy and the technical guy. I would close down through the singletrack only to have him blow the gap open again as soon as he could put two pedal strokes together on the open stuff. I caught up to him just before the singletrack decent off the road (the brakeless dreamy thing). There was no way to pass unless he pulled to the side completely gave it up. So I got right up on his ass and started sweating him, hoping he'd make a mistake. I realize that I have a (probably incredibly annoying) habit of exhaling through my nostrils loudly and repeatedly when I'm sitting in behind another rider. I'm really just clearing out the pipes and trying to recover a bit, but what it amounts to is me literally "breathing down their neck". I usually don't expel snot onto the rider which is nice. I finally made a bad pass and got around Ben on the outside of a corner.

On the third lap I felt my Mojo coming back, I felt like I maybe knew how to ride a bike. My performance on the descents of tremblant had left me broken and demoralized so this was good. I do recall thinking "This is nothin' compared to Tremblant, I'm gonna just let it rip....AAH-Crap!" as I slid out on some downhill-off-camber roots, hooked my bar on a tree, jack-knifed my bike, heard my tire double burp, and planted my hip on the ground, ripping a gaping hole in the side of my shorts. Oddly, after that, with my now perfect front tire pressure and my violently jogged mental alertness (the two bottles of Coke might have helped) I began riding way, way better.

Fourth lap I was seeing lines that weren't there before, carrying all sorts of speed through the corners, cleaning all but one section (the thing with the greasy ass mud leading up to the stream crossing), I felt great, like I knew what I was doing out there. My late surge brought me up right behin Greg Carpenter and within site of Nate Ringquist (same order as on the brief pre-ride, if I'd realized that was going to be a portent, I would have lead out the warm up). I could see Greg was scrambling to find every bit of strength he had left, but I was too, and there was no way I could close it down before the finish.

I came across the line 8th, which with a field of this size and caliber, I would take. Thanks to Jill and Chris Logan and Tom Masterson for putting this thing together, damn good race!

In other news, I kind of mentioned seeing Emily Batty suffering from chainsuck issues at Tremblant in my last post but neglected to mention that I took a break form being a total jerk for a minute to help her out with some mechanical advice:

"A man who was racing actually stopped to help me figure out what was going on. I never got his number plate but if reads this... thank you again :)"

For the whole story, check out her Blog.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Turn off, Tune out, Drop out
Coupy Canadia Cup Thingy Part Dos

So we met up with the big kids up in Tremblant: Freye, Snyder, Ringquist, and Burns. The place was more pimped out than P Diddy's house. Check out the high-definition T.V. in the bathroom in the above photo. Puffy Daddy's house probably has far less gargantuan mosquitoes in it. Also note the uber-pro style with the tire-swapping the night before the race. Freye-Guy rolls with a portable Husky compressor for this express purpose. The guy riding the bike in the lower right photo...we followed him to the race. Oddly we wound up heading in the exact opposite direction of the venue.

We got to the mountain, it got hectic, barely had time to get my number plate, find the feedzone, and get to the line. No warm up...that's OK, I was coming off a rest week just like I was before the Fat Tire Classic. That went well, so to would this, right? The Fat Tire Classic didn't start at all like this, 80 dudes flying toward an uphill holeshot looking like a knobelly tired version of the Tour De France peloton, my "And the rest of the field" last row call up not ideal. The effective hole shot was an artificial bottleneck at the the end of a bridge. Guys around me putting their feet down as I did a track stand while waiting in line. One dude tried to muscle past me, I was not having it, Parlez-Vous "Are you fucking kidding me?". After that it was up a steep, loose, sun-baked gravel road to the actual hole shot. With a field this big and aggro, apparently an auxiliary hole shot is required. It was supposed to be 70° out, it felt like 70° Celsius on that exposed climb.

I hadn't pre-ridden, so it took me a lap to find that the course went up, across, up a little more, down. The traverse was flat and I got dropped in my 34 X 20. It was technical in spots, super-fun off-camber slippery rocks and neat little features, but the decent...yikes! Scariest thing I've ever really done on a bike, might have had something to with my head and body not being in the game at all. I was riding badly in every way. The downhill, batton bridges (steep wooden slides, intersected with small pieces of wood, and slimy too) were terrifying to me. The downhill berms, so steep and alien to my flatland mind, I was out of my element. Watching the lead Junior Expert come into one of these bizarre things like an old AMA dirt-track motorcycle racer, right foot out-riggering to the inside as the bike was turned 90° into the turn on the outside - sliding at an insane speed. I was flummoxed, baffled, bufoosed (I made up that last word), never seen some bicycle-ninja shit like that before.

Not long into the race I was pretty sure I was beating two dudes, I could not get going, I had no fire. After most of the Juniors passed me, Canadian superstar Emily Batty caught me. She had powered up to me on the slightly downhill bike path section at the bottom of the mountain. I found that I could climb with her though, staying about ten feet to her left on the fire road out of her way, watching as she climbed like a machine, so efficient, all business, head down, elbows out, upper body aerodynamic and static as her tree trunk legs ticked over the perfect gear. The fans went nuts as she went past, "Go Emi-leeeeee!". Once in a while I got a secondary shout of "Go Sing-gul Speed-dur - yew are duh man!" (Quebecois accent). But when we hit the traverse - BLAM! She put it in the big ring and was gone.

I did see her again as she was stopped dealing with some chainsuck issues, but once she worked that out she flew past me a second time and that was it. She went on to win in convincing fashion. After seeing her badness in person, the gloveless hands, the determination and concentration...I am now Emily Batty fan #1.

I made a deal with myself, either I was going to ride for two hours or until I got lapped. I got lapped slightly before two hours. The second place rider coming up on me in a bad spot (pay attention here because it may come into play during my post on the Coyote Hill race), I was out of my race, way off the pace, I didn't want to slow this hard-charging bad-mammer-jammer down for one nanosecond, I veered off on an alternative line (alternative to safe or sane) and jammed my wheel in-between a log and the edge of the trail. My bike stayed upright as I took a dive off the side, running it off down a steep embankment. I scrambled back up, got on my bike and decided to just get down the mountain alive and live to fight another day...which would be the very next day, at Coyote Hill. More on that tomorrow perhaps, but I'm not making any promises.

P.S. - IBC MTB Jedi-Guy Kevin Sweeney has started a blog, it is very good, he is smart and funny, go check it out.

Pee. Pee. S. - I got into the Vermont 50, the race I think about more than any other single race. Sweet nightmares for me from now until September.

I have no eye dear. Guy cramping at line. Linnea going up the awesome cobbled, Spring Classic like climb through the faux European village at the base of Tremblant. Rare siting of the mythological beast called "The Ben Moody". Guy wearing a shirt reading
"Pain is temporary - Quitting is forever". I beg to differ.
Pain can linger and linger on some more, quitting is over as soon as you do it.
It transforms the pain first to mild discomfort then not-pain.

For those of you who haven't been following along at home. This was the story of me, on my single speed, racing a UCI Cat 1 event against real Pros at a pretty major event. In summary it did not go well. But it was a way. A sick, sick way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MTB - Coupe Canada Cup, Can (1/2) Mt. Tremblant, Quebec

Above Photo: Packed like a ten year old running away from home. The Honda Fit is magical, like Baba Yaga's Hut - much larger on the inside than it is on the outside (that and it moves around on two pair of dancing chicken legs). The completely senile yet helpful old woman. You know you're in Canada when the Dunkin Donuts become Tim Horton's and the Doritos flavors become even grosser and weirder.

I am a genius...totally forgot that, although I didn't work today, that it was still an effective blog-work-day. So I give you this meager offering of a half (assed) post. More tomorrow I swear.

After last Sunday’s fiasco I was actually looking for an out on this one. When I saw I was scheduled to work this weekend and went up to the head office at The Work to remind Le Boss (Sorry, I guess all this time I’m spending in Quebec is rubbing off on me) that I was supposed to be off, I half-hoped that I would be implored to work. Then when Miriam woke up with Strep Throat and a fractured wrist, I half-hoped that I too would come down with Strep Throat and a fractured wrist. She told me that fractured wrists aren’t contagious but that I could catch one from trying to be as wicked hardcore as she is on the mountain bike.

Since all the up and coming Pros read this thing looking for hot training tips, allow me to describe my meticulous two nights prior to the race regime.

1. Stay up until 1AM watching Angel re-runs and drinking all the beers in the house.

Pretty simple, anyone can stick to a plan like that.

"Anybody can be a non drunk. It takes a special talent to be a drunk. It takes endurance. Endurance is more important than truth"

-Henry Chinaski

In the morning Linnea picked me up and we headed up to Nashua New Hampshire. She needed to drop off some Edge rims to be built up by Justin Spinelli. I had thrown our time-line off by insisting on stopping first for Ice Coffee then for muffins. I bought what I thought was a Banana Nut Muffin from Whole Foods, only to find, to my horror, that it was indeed a Bran Muffin. Vile thing! I haven’t seen any trailers for the newest Terminator Film, but I’m pretty sure it involves a Killer-Death-Robot being sent back in time to the 80’s to hunt down and Kill to Death whoever invented the fucking Bran Muffin.

When we got to Spinelli’s house, he wasn’t there. We rang the bell and walked around the outside of house, wondering if we were even in the right place. I called Spinelli’s good buddy Craig, to ask him if we were actually in the right spot.

“Craig, we’re in Nashua, at Justin’s house, we think, it looks like it’s one house, but maybe two apartments, but they back up to separate streets…”.

“That sounds insane…but good luck”.

Turns out his elderly downstairs neighbor was home, she let us in and instructed us to leave the wheel box at the top of the stairs with a note.

“And I don’t need to know what’s in the package…all I know is that he’s a fine gentleman. Oh my grandson just graduated, I’m so proud, he was just came to visit, you just missed him…”.

She was immensely helpful.

Due to my prima donna-muffin-antics, the stop at Spinelli's, and our stop for awesome food at Stone Soup in Burlington, VT (again, my brilliant idea, but we did see MTB celeb Lea Davison walking around which was cool), we landed squarely in Montreal rush hour traffic. It was serious. All told it took us nearly eight hours or something to get to Tremblant. We showed up just in time for dinner, but unfortunately way too late for a preride or even a spin.

And with that nail-biting cliffhanger I leave off for today, like I said at the top, more tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Off To See The Ass Whuppin' Wizard

Guess I screwed up the "Scheduled Post" thing, this was supposed to go up last Friday AM. It'll give you something to read while I try to cobble something together about the Canada UCI race and Coyote Hill.

Heading out to Quebec for the UCI Pro race at Tremblant. On "the way back" we'll be hitting the Root 66 Coyote Hill race in West Fairlee Vermont. Convoluted weekend travel-wise. Rolling up Friday AM with Linnea Koons and Kate Harris. We're meeting Andrew Freye, Nathan Ringquist, John Burns, and Adam Snyder up at house near the resort. We'll all be racing Saturday. I have no idea what I'm getting into here. Hell, I could hardly get through the registration page, it looked like it was 100% in French to me, then I clicked the "Francais" button...and it got even more French. I'm probably registered for the Junior Women's class damnit.

Sunday AM we're all heading back down to Vermont for the Root 66 race. Tom Masterson's race frickin' RULES. Since I'm not writing much worth reading today (this is becoming a habit) you might want to check out the long-ass report I wrote last year. By the time you're done with that it'll be Monday and I'll have this year's report up.

After the race M and I will be heading over to The Whittingham's for the night. Jeff is trying to rope me into an epic on Monday with Harry Precourt but I am planning on being wicked knackered. Don't think I'll be able to turn the cranks over.

OK, this is important, I'm leading our first NEMBA Explorers Kids Ride over at Cutler Park next Saturday, the 30th. For more info go over here. And yes Al, that's my imaginary Nephew in the promo photo.

Time for sleep. I like sleep, it's where I dream of gear ratios.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another One of Those Nights

Late to bed, early to rise.
Lead the Cutler ride. It was awesome tonight, good, fast group, even had a blast from the past celebrity appearance I'll babble on about sometime later. Props to IBC MTB team guy Harry for riding down to the shop from Sudbury on his Superfly. At one point during the ride he asked what the quickest way back to the shop was. "Oh is your car there?" "No I rode there from home". "From Sudbury? Jes-us". For those of you who aren't familiar with the area (like all the Big Bikes readers in say, Romania) Sudbury would be a decent road ride from the shop. And props to Colin and Linnea for braving rush hour traffic to make the ride. Personally I'd rather ride a mountain bike on the road for an hour and a half than sit in traffic for ten minutes.

It was a freakin' gorgeous night and I would have gotten some great shots, if, I say if I had not forgotten to put the battery back in my camera. So stupid! "Camera on now! I on now!" Got home at 9:30, got to get back up at 6AM for a Bike Rodeo at a Needham elementary school. Basically yuck it up with the kiddos, check out their bikes, show them how to lube their chains, and put air in the tires until your arms are about to fall off. Nobody gets hog-tied.
Unless they blow a stop sign on the obstacle course of course.

If you're looking for something more substantive to read, go check out my write up of the Bike Friday convoy last week over on the IBC Blog. It's got some silliness in it, don't worry.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The International Bicycle Hair Club For Men of Mystery Super Army Soldier Ninja-Jedi-Sardaukar Attack Force Squadron Team

OK, now I can talk about bike club. Now that all three members of International Bike's mountain bike team have their rides. Johan Bruyneel, I am not. I got our clothing and bike orders in so damn late that we only now have kits and bikes. The good news is that the bikes and kits are dope. Colin Reuter and Kevin Sweeney (Sunday's Root 66 Winsted Woods 30-39 Expert winner, who got a flat and still won. I'm calling you out right here buddy, you better register for the Pro/1 race at Coyote Hill) went with Trek Top Fuel 9.8s. Harry Precourt went with the Superfly, a choice I highly approve of.

Not only are these Ninja-Jedi etc. etc dudes wicked fast racers, they are also upstanding citizens of the mountain bike community. Look for them at your next trail day or NEMBA event. In fact, all three of these super heroes will be rocking the new kits at today's Cutler Park ride (5:45 71 Needham St. IBC Newton). These kits will be available to the public, Colin Rooter autographed editions are extra.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Always look to the positive
and never drop your head

Ya, I had a pretty sucky race Sunday. What wasn't sucky was taking my six year old Nephew Noah Mountain Biking last Thursday.

I went to pick him up at School in South Natick. Things have changed significantly since the days when I would pick up my brothers (who were ten and twelve years younger than me) at elementary school. Now you have to wait in the library as the kids file in behind their teachers before being handed directly over to their parents or another pre-cleared and approved individual.

Back when the brothers were in school, at the end of the day they would basically open the front door and let the kids pour out in all directions like a screaming tsunami. One day I was commissioned with picking up James, the younger of the two, something I probably did begrudgingly as barter toward use of the mini van for the afternoon. Parents were lined up in their station wagons (this was before children became so obese that parents required SUVs to contain and transport their immense carcasses), kids everywhere, mayhem. I swing the miniature van up to the curb, my buddy Stu, slides open the door and jumps out, running like a linebacker toward little James. He picks him up under his arm like a sardonically smiling football and begins to run back toward the van yelling "I got one! GO! GO! ".

I think my parents forgave me for that incident last week.

It was his first real mountain bike ride on his new Fisher Precaliber SS. It's his first bike without a coaster brake, first bike with hand brakes, a whole lot to get used on your first ride in the woods, with the roots and the rocks and the pointy things everywhere.

He had never used hand brakes before, he demonstrated this by getting on the bike and promptly grabbing a fistful of front brake, jack-knifing in the parking lot and whacking his shin before we even got going. He walked it off and after a little practice with the rear brake we were out in the woods for some proper mountain biking. Riding as slow as I have to to go at a six year old's pace is actually quite dangerous for me, especially when I'm not watching where I'm going but where he's going. I rode into more than one tree.

He learned quickly that as a Single-Speeder you must come to love "long walks up steep mountains next to [your] bike". Being the budding multi-sport super-star that this genetically gifted little bloke is, of course he opted to run up any hill that knocked him off his shiny red bike. He made up for any lost time on the downhills, adopting a Sam Hill-like, brakeless descending style:

I tried to convince him to lift his butt up off the saddle while going through rough stuff or downhill and to stand while he was climbing, forgetting for a moment here or there that this was his first time riding anywhere besides his driveway or the most sedate carriage path. He was just doing so well. We'll work on that some more next time. That and J-Hopping.

The area we went riding in is called "The Noanet Woodlands". On the car ride home Noah asked "Uncle Thom, what was that place called again?". "I'll give you a hint...if you were trying to catch a Butterfly named Noah, what would you use?". "A Butter-fyie net" (he has a bit of an adorable speech thing going on, his sister "Lyla" is "Yie-La" right now). "Ya, but if you just wanted to catch one named NOAH". "Um, um, um...a Noah Net?".

This story is entirely fabricated. I don't have a Nephew (I don't even have a sister) I just wanted you people to think I wasn't such a prick for a day.

In other news, it may sound insane but it's true. I'm heading up to Canada Cup #2 in Tremblant "on the way" to Coyote Hill Sunday. It'll be my first UCI race as a 35 year old over-worked Single-Speeder with a Pro license in his wallet. I'm sure it will go really, really well. It's OK if I embarrass the living hell out of myself up there though. What happens in Canada stays in Canada (unless you babble all about it on your trog).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lady, you can't cheat at bingo.
If you could, I would, but you can't.
I won because I was lucky -
lucky to wind up in a town full of losers!

The above quote, one of my favorites, from the otherwise rickety little 1991 Indy film Highway 61.

I had a bad race today and it had nothing to do with luck. I went into the race unprepared, things went well initially with the hole shot and some lead time, then went all to hell pretty quickly. I was tired and riding badly, bumping into things. It was a combination of mental lethargy and physical fatigue, nothing felt right. Eventually it caught up with me, I flatted. The flat fix took eons and I was out of my race.
I did finish in the end, but not at all well.

Flats don't happen because of bad luck, neither do bad legs, and neither do flat fixes that take ten minutes for that matter. I clipped the side of my tire on a sharp rock because I was lacking in skill, the skill not to clip my tire on a sharp rock. I was not riding well technically because I lacked the mental alertness to do so since I hadn't slept enough. Not bad luck, just life. It's not like I lost sleep because a meteor came crashing through my bedroom ceiling. The sharp rocks didn't appear out of the ether either (those two words look kinda funny sitting next to each other).

In the the open areas where I could have put the hammer down there were no hammers to be found, this because I had ridden too much all week and not rested. My legs never came back after the Orchard Assault and I never really gave them a chance to. Not bad luck, stupidity.

When I did flat I was unprepared. My tube was strapped tightly to my saddle rails, difficult to remove, all covered in mud like it was. My Co2 injector was lost in a separate pocket from my cartridge. I hadn't changed a flat on the Superfly SS in the field and I was slow. Not bad luck either.

Rob Stine, Stephen Humphreys and Kurt Schmid finished ahead of me today not because they were lucky and I was unlucky. They finished ahead of me because they rode their bikes faster and better than me in every way. Big congratulations for Rob on his first Elite EFTA win, you're the man Rob.

This clarification on the matter of luck was inspired by a discussion over on Gewilli's Blog about Tom Boonen's "Lucky Win" at Paris Roubaix this year. Of course Rob, Stephen, and Kurt probably didn't celebrate their podium appearances by going out on a booze and cocaine binge. Not that it would be any of our business if they did. But that's a rant for another day.

Oh, if you want something like a race report, that's over here today.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Thom P. Will Be Out of The Couch Today

Got back late from an excellent day off full of Mountain Bike fun. Got to get up super-super early to lead one of the Bike Friday commuter convoys. I'll tell you all about it sometime next week I swear.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Have No Idea Why People Make Fun of Me

A Kid walks into a bike shop (and yes it was my bike shop, not worried about him reading this. Any time this kid spends on the internet is devoted to looking at porn and posting semi-literate phonetic messages under Youtube videos while he's stoned). Kid walks up to the service counter, looks into the back of the service area.

Kid: "Yo (almost unintelligible due to the fact that he's chewing on a straw) can we go back there?"

He was the only one there, was he talking about him and his drool-covered straw?

Me: "No sorry, you can't".

Kid: "Alright, can I use the phone?"

Me: "Sure"

Takes a couple minutes to explain how to press one of the line # buttons to dial out, he finally gets it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The definition of stupidity is doing the same simple task which a retarded tree shrew could be trained to do over and over again and still fucking it up.

Kid gets on phone, proceeds to threaten person on other end "Yo bitch, you wanna get slapped?"

After a couple calls I get tired of listening this suburban wannabe gangster threaten his friends with violence and I'm scared he'll get drool on my phone.

Me: "OK, that's it for calls, can't have you tying up the line"
(It was dead at the shop, all five lines were clear)

Kid: "Yo, what's the sickest thing you can do to a bike?"

Me: "I can put $3000 wheels on it"

Kid (totally unimpressed): "I'd rather spend that on a car"

Me: "Yup, you'd get a pretty sick car for $3000"

I finally bought a new camera to replace my Canon Digital Elph something or other that ate it up at The NEMBA Turkey Burner last fall. Been making due with The Helmet Hero but getting a good shot with that thing is like carpet bombing. Take 600 shots, get 10 keepers. But some of the random stuff you end up shooting in photo every two seconds mode is great. Of course the video is really what the thing's for and it does a good job with that.

I'm a financial genius, part of my savings plan involves never giving exact change and hoarding all my coins in a huge tupperware container. It had been quite a while since I'd cashed it all in. My buddy J informed me that you can now get Gift Certificates for places like Starbucks and Amazon at the Coinstar machine without having them take a percentage. So I did it, got myself $300 toward Amazon. Figured I'd go with Amazon over Starbucks - it might take me weeks to spend $300 at Starbucks.

What I got is this thing:

The Canon SD780

And I got if for free! Oh wait...

It even has this nifty little filter thing that makes you appear totally beat down, bedraggled, and so sleep deprived that your face looks like it's about to split wide open and hemorrhage sawdust and sand onto the floor. See:

That reminds me - bed time - now.

And yes, the outfit I'm wearing at the top of the post...actually what I wore to work yesterday. To ride to work, not all day long, working at the work. That would be weird.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Coca Cola Bike

A guy walks into a bike store (not necessarily my bike store) and says to the Service Writer
(this joke format will soon eclipse the "Guy walks into a bar" format, it already has here at The Big Bikes Blog) as he opens a catalog on the counter.

"Is this bike good?"
(points to photo of an incredibly horrible and cheap department store style full suspension bike prominently displaying multiple Coca Cola logos)

Service Writer (who may or may not be me) :
"Uh, probably not, why do you ask?"

"They offer it as prize (Russianish accent)...which would you choose - coffee maker, watch, or Coca Cola bike?"

Me like Service Writer:
"The rule is if they are offering a choice between a coffee maker, a watch, and a should probably go with anything but the bike"

"What about this, is this good watch?"

In other Gnus, I tried to ride up some hills today in the interest of training but when I tried to lay it down, you know, lay down the power, my legs made that massive piece of industrial machinery shutting down sound. I guess the weekend's race f-ed me up pretty good. Then I spun to work and thought about how I was going to pull this week out of a any-kind-of-structured -training nose-dive. The Charles River Bike Path was lovely this morning though, despite the birds who decided to poop on The "UD!" (My Derosa. Hey you know anyone that want to buy a really nice 57cm Derosa UD? I'm not kidding, don't worry, I washed the poop off).

And ya, tomorrow, doing that Wednesday ride thing out of the shop. As an added incentive for showing up, we have Demo bikes! 2009 Trek Fuel EX8s and Gary Fisher Paragon 29ers. I hear those 29ers are kinda awesome, maybe you should come over and find out first hand.

An' annuver fing...this coming Saturday, May 16th, NEMBA Cutler Park Trail Care Day 9AM -12 PM, to be followed by a ride (and preceded by bagels and coffee courtesy of your buddies at IBC). Meet at The DCR parking lot sometime before 9.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh God, I Shouldn't Have Eaten All That Sushi

That's what I was saying to myself half way through the Orchard Assault race. I had gone out to dinner the night before the race, my dish was small, my buddy Greg's dish was huge, I wound up eating my dish and half of his. I did not go home hungry. Of course that didn't stop me from eating the two trays of killer Sushi Miriam brought home from her dinner. It's can't not eat it. It's the law. I went to bed sickly full, but so happy.

As I watched Ringquist float up that hill like a ghost, like a Ninja, like the ghost of a Ninja, I felt all that Sushi weighing me down, a big anchor made of rice. A delicious anchor. The climbing at that race was no joke. They said it was something like 600 feet per 3 mile lap. We did six laps, that adds up quick. It rivals some ski area races like Mt. Snow or Windham. It felt like it. Being the dumb ass that I am, I ran a 52"ish gear . A 34 X 19, not the 32 X 22 that I've run at Windham and Mt. Snow. Considering that I'm stoked I was able to ride all but a couple small sections.

I'd love to stay and chat at you but I have an appointment with my pillow. I am about to lose my freakin' mind.

For example, the following is something I may or may not have said aloud today at work:

Crazy lady (who had been tormenting me for over an hour about saddles and blinky lights. She even told me "The Flat Story" ) - "So is there some way I can give this old saddle to some poor children or something?"
Me - "Only if you hate poor children and want to torture them"

And this is something I may or may not have said to a Mercedes AMG driver who almost killed me on my commute home:

"Hey, you know what's better than having a hopped up Mercedes?
Having a functioning penis".

I'll be nicer tomorrow. I swear.

Oh wait, I should probably tell you something about the above photo, or maybe my new thing will be posting a photo which appears to be entirely unrelated to the text, then explaining myself the next day...while posting another non sequitur of a photo. I shaved my head (For Battle!) before the Orchard Assaulting race. I was glad, I felt so much cooler on that muggy day, although the weight loss achieved by the removal of all that hair did not offset the mountain of undigested raw fish churning in my belly.

Also, notice the weird blur in the center of the lens in the last photo in the sequence. That would be the massive divot caused by me knocking the camera off the shelf during the vacuuming up process. So sad that The Helmet Hero's waterproof housing, like Elvis, met its demise in a bathroom incident. The camera itself is fine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Attempted Orchard Assault

This is a little race put on by the guys from UMASS. It's not a collegiate race and it's not a part of any series but it fell on a weekend when nothing else was going on and in the middle of a two- week-no-racing-vacuum. And I, like nature, and most cats, abhor a vacuum. I had read varying reports about this one, but that did not dissuade M and I from loading up the car for the weekend and heading out to Amherst.

The plan was to get Miriam there in time for the Sport race, giving me three hours to exhaust myself pre-riding the course in different gears...wait that wasn't the plan at all. The first part, yes, the second, that's just something that happened. We got there with what I thought was twelve minutes to spare, rolling rapidly past The Butterfield dorm, where I spent quite a few crazy nights hanging out with my buddy Seth "Back In The Day". Yes, it was technically back in the day. We're talking fifteen or so years ago, does that qualify? I think so.

Miriam headed out for her race, I hadn't pre-ridden at that point so I didn't realize that her tires were going to be a horrible joke on this course. If I only had a brain I would have been able to extrapolate from the NEBC reports and the weather over the days preceding the race that the trails would be slick and muddy. Oops. She wasn't able to finish the race (opting to "relax" and run a couple laps of the course) due to the fact that every time she came into a corner she went straight. Sounds like she wasn't having much trouble hopping the many slick logs...a better pair of tires and I think she'll be all set for The Glocester Grind next week.

I did my first pre-ride in a 34 X 18, found it nearly impossible to torque up some of the steep, greasy pitches and chose to swap out to a 34 x 19. Nice thing about the that gear combo is that I end up with the absolute, shortest possible wheelbase (wheel all the way forward in the dropouts), I like that. Great for whipping around tight uphill switchbacks and the hopping of logs. The lower gearing wasn't going to be a problem, the course was brutally honest, just straight up and down, hardly a stretch of flat ground to be found. I was amazed at what those guys packed into that tiny space, right there on campus. I'd never been on race course so labyrinthine, it was difficult to figure out gaps to riders ahead or behind, it was so easy to lose track of which corner you or they were in.

The hole shot was uphill on a gravel road, and it was that, a hole shot, one man enters...a whole bunch of guys get stuck behind him for the first five or so minutes. I didn't get it, I was actually spun out going uphill they guys took off so damn fast. I was maybe sixth or seventh, cutting off BrentMellen pretty bad (for the first time) as we hit the woods. Form there it was an anaerobic conga line through the switchbacked singletrack . The only pass I made was on the most terrifying portion of the course, right at the bottom of the first descent was this off-camber, I mean really off-camber grassy slope you had to traverse. This guy got knocked off and went for a little slide, he tried to hop back in, but it was back of the train for him after that.

Part way through the first lap Nate Ringquist made what would be his decisive move, breaking away and just plain climbing faster and smoother than anyone else. When I talk about Nate, I always describe him was an incredibly graceful and efficient climber. Quite a contrast to my lurching, ogreish, single-speedy style. He would use his ascending prowess to put a huge gap in early on. I counted it at a 1:40 not too far into the race, it held for a couple laps, then increased to what had to be over two minutes somewhere. I would see him going the opposite direction in the grassy field above the parking lot, an easy place to time a gap.That's what we call "Running a clinic".

The whole race I was chasing Seamus Powell and Brent Mellen. I closed it down on both of them only to have Seamus re-accelerate, gapping me and Brent, I'd never come close to catching him again. Brent I did catch and pass at one point, taking an obnoxiously dumb line through the steep center of a corner, thinking he was fading and that I had him. Wrong. He passed me back on the soggy grassy climb up to the finish then proceeded to build on that gap for the latter half of the race, I was just too cooked to chase him down. I would land in 4th place for the day.

I'm going to keep this one short and race reporty for now, I may have more obtuse thoughts (including the explanation for the sushi triptych) on the subject tomorrow or later in the week, but I gotta get to work now.

Have to say thanks to Mike and Uri and the guys that put this cool, little race together. Nice work, definitely worth the trip.

Above, top to bottom left to right: Seamus Powell looks down at me thinking "My powers were diminished but they have been fully restored, today I will crush you, you silly little man". The uphill wet log hop was tricky while torquing on the SS. As was the mossy uphill ledge thing. As I became more tired, even the wet little bridge thing got technical. "That was hard, really hard". There were two sections I had to a mosquito-legged chimpanzee.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I'm The Luckiest Guy on The Upper West Side (of Somerville)
Cause I Got Wheels and You Want Go For a Ride

My Girlfriend, er...Fiance has become a pretty avid mountain biker over the past few years. To me it seems like she has progressed quite rapidly, like an evolutionary leap. This isn't really the case. I just don't get to the opportunity to ride with her nearly enough. But she's been spending a whole lot of time riding with some of the fastest Chicks around. She tends to beat herself up over being slow, I have to remind her that she is comparing herself to some great riders. The bar was just was just set really high from the get go.

So when I ride with her I'm like "Holy crap! I can't believe you just rode that" left and right. I'm like an Uncle who doesn't get to see his Niece and Nephew nearly enough, and when he does they seem have made huge developmental leaps (actually I'm just like that). One day they're sitting, smiling in a warm diaper full of poop and the next they're rattling off the Fibonacci sequence.

Not much time to write today, all I really want to say is that I'm stoked to be marrying such an awesome mountain biker.

Does this look sketchy? Because in reality it is way sketchier than it looks.
Wet roots through an off-camber, downhill, switchback corner.

Cleaned it. Yeah!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going

"Hello, Ace Wheelworks"
"Ya, I jus' bought a bike from you guys n' I'm down on the Esplanade n' I got a flat"
"Um, OK, how can I help you?"
"Pfff! I want you to come down here and fix it!"
"I'm sorry sir, but flats are just a thing that happens to bikes"
"How? It's a brand new bike"
"I don't know, perhaps you rode it through some glass"
"Ya, like I'm gonna but a THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR bike n' go ride it through some glass...
keep smokin'...keep smokin'!"

Do I really need to point out, not that it matters, that a three hundred dollar bike is the equivalent of a 10,000 car or $1.65 Sushi?

Positivity. My commute recently. I've discovered, much like Columbus "discovered" America, a new path. It's part of the bike path which runs along the Charles River in Waltham, it cuts out Nonantum, which is a great place to get doored by a senile little old Itlaian lady getting out of her Buick Skylark, then, before you cane even peel yourself off the pavement her three sons who work for a Landscaping company emerge from the nearest Dunkin Donuts wielding aluminum bats and beat you relentlessly and throw your bike under a passing dumptruck.

Wait, that doesn't sound too positive does it? The positive part is that this path is beautiful. Seeing hoppy hoppy bunny rabbits and Great Blue Herons on your commute is pretty alright. The tree are still budding, the smell of the flowers is lovely, and when the wheels of my road bike hit the dirt I feel reinvigorated. I watch the speed on my computer actually go up by a mile per hour. I just like dirt better.

Speaking of which, I road the Superfly into work today. I like riding my mountain bike better on the road. I can go anywhere, do tricks, speaking of tricks, I'm going to post the same video that three million bloggers are going to post over the next few days, the latest Danny MacAskill video.

I hope I'm not the guy you look to for the latest greatest cycling videos. I hope you don't look to me for anything current or groundbreaking of any sort. I'm not that guy. I like my bubble. I was discussing music today with a coworker, he was talking about all this stuff that had been written or said about a particular recording artist who he sort of likes but I am particularly fond of at the moment. This talk had colored his perception of this musician. I told him that the fact that I don't read anything or listen to anyone helps my uninhibited enjoyment of music. Like I said, I like my bubble.

So MacAskill, the guy is brilliant, Sheer beauty on the bike, there are a few people who read The Big Bikes who might not look at other Blogs or sources for cycling awesomeness (that's what we serve up here, Cycling Awesomeness) and this might be the only place they see this video. Hell, if I am the only source for that type of stuff for those few people (My Mom, my Grandmother, my six year old nephew) I will also link to the really amazing, even more sick video of MacAskill (it was filmed in Edinburgh, which is gorgeous even without the hoppy bike business).

Now for the "No Shit Batman!" moment of the day. Cycling is an interesting sport. MacAskill is as good as Lance Armstrong at riding a bike. Only in an entirely different way. I don't really know much about mainstream sports, but I know enough about say, Basketball to know that Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are two of the best dudes in the game today. But they both play exactly the same game in pretty much the exact same way. There aren't forms of Basketball that diverge so drastically from the form they practice. There is that guy Lucky at Celtics games who does back flip slam dunks but that isn't close to an equivalent to the juxtaposition of Armstrong and MacAskill. I wish I wasn't so sleepy, I could go on and on about this...and Nazi Zombies and Werewolves.

So ya, rode the Superfly to work, lead the Cutler ride, it was good, I'll be writing about that for the IBC blog later, on the way home I hit some more trails because I hadn't gotten my fill yet, as I was rolling down the Alewife Rail Trail I saw the glowing eyes of a Feral cat which I'd passed in the AM, I said "Hey, hey cat, what, don't you work? You been here all day long?".
And he said "Ya I work you dumb ass, I get off at five, I've been sitting here on my stoop drinking High Lifes (High Lives?) for hours like a normal guy while you've been out riding around in your leotard like some god damn fairy".

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Big Nazi-Werewolf-Zombies
(and Sometimes bikes too)

I might have to start another blog where I talk exclusively about things like Nazis-Zombies fighting Nazi-Werewolves. There's a lot to consider in such a battle. Would a Nazi-Zombie's bite turn a Nazi-Werewolf into a Nazi-Werewolf-Zombie? Would a Nazi-Werewolf's bite turn a Nazi-Zombie into a Nazi-Zombie-Werewolf? These are serious considerations. If you shot a Nazi-Werewolf-Zombie with a silver bullet would it revert back to just being a Zombie or die entirely? I suppose not "die entirely" because it's a Zombie, it's dead, cease to ambulate maybe. That's without even considering the whole Nazi thing. I mean, do Nazi Zombies have a predilection for biting Jewish people? I was having enough trouble sleeping while pondering why Rich Dillen yells "Bumble Bee Tuna" at competitors during races (Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls reference).

More on this subject later.

This morning was one of those mornings where I said to myself "You better wriggidy check yourself before you chiggidy wreck yourself". I didn't sleep, but more so than usual, I mean less so, I mean the thing where I slept extra poorly, whatever that is. I left the house grumpy...for blood. David Byrne wrote a song when he was with Talking Heads called "Stop Making Sense". I wrote a sentence three seconds in the future called "I Was Never Making Sense In The First Place, Which Makes You Being All Bossy and Trying To Tell Me What to Do That Much More Lame and Annoying".

I was being dumb, which is normal, a little extra-special, trying to do intervals while riding the total-100%-crap-way to work through Waltham and Watertown. But I'm also trying to ride in a more legal fashion than I used to due to my involvement with organizations like Massbike. So I end up in situations where I yell at a motorist who buzzed me "Don't you ever get that close to a cyclist again, Grr, Rar!", then have sit next to them awkwardly at a stop light for a minute. Or, when a Van tries to merge into me and I give them a little proximity warning tap with my foot and the guy goes ballistic then I'm up a few cars from him at the light wondering "Is that numb nut going to come charging up from behind and blindside me with a 2 X 4?".

For the one of my four readers who gives a flying frog about mechanical things (and even then only when he's drunk). We had a quality bicycle in The Shop the other day, a Cadillac bike. It's a Cadillac, so you know it's got to be good. Like a Cimarron. It had a completely hosed Bottom Bracket which was seized in the frame. Bryan and Jeff Huckleberry put a six foot lever on a breaker bar afixed to the BB tool. They are both big men, Jeff is a veritable mountain of a man. At his Buddhist paint ball club retreat they called him "Chomolungma". Bryan is not quite so large, but possesses what the indigenous people of Medford, MA refer to as "Retaahd Powah".

The two of them went at the thing like crazy until CRACK! Something gave and it sounded like the thing had broken loose. It had not. What had happened was that the splines of the BB tool had sheared off in unison. Totally unprecedented. I've seen the splines of the BB cup go a bunch of times, but the hardened steel tool? I guess she was just ready to go.

Back to the commute. The ride home was a a lot more sedate than the ride in. I was cooked. I just plain didn't eat enough today. The only thing that got me through the end of the day were a couple bags of GU Chomps. The Blueberry-Pomegranate ones are really frickin' good. I can't remember the last time I bonked during a race, I can remember bonking on my 45 minute commute home.

And no, I did not eat the doughnut today. That was taken the morning after I ate all those Waffle-Fry-Nachos (Not "Fried Waffles" Bullit, although you may be onto something there). I promised myself I was going to have a better food day...then I started things off by showing up to work and eating Girl Scout Cookies and Doughnuts. I have all the will power of a fat Beagle Dog.

Wednesday MTB Ride Today. 5:45, IBC Newton. Weather looks good. Call over if got questions 617-527-0967.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Things I'm More Realistically
Thinking of Doing

I'm going to talk about some of the races I might be doing, but first I'm going to take a moment to mention some of the disgusting crap I've eaten over the past few days. Maybe I should just do a post entitled "Disgusting Crap I'm Thinking of Eating". I'm much more likely to follow through on that.

Friday I went out for dinner with my Mom. Jake's Dixie Roadhouse in Waltham. It was out of hand. Pulled Pork Dinner with beans, slaw, cornbread, and watermelon on the side. I figure the less pigs there are, the slower the spread of H1N1. Or something. The truly disgusting part was the app, get this, I'm not kidding, Waffle-Fry-Nachos. My dream. My Mom didn't really help and I did damage, serious damage. I even went at her mashed potatoes. Later on that night I was so full I threw up in my mouth...twice. The truth is sometimes bent and twisted here on the Big Bikes, but that is 100% true.

In the immediate future, as in next Saturday, I'm heading to The Orchard Assault out in Amherst. My buddy Uri's hood. I hear it's good and technical. M and I are making a weekend of it, heading down to stay over in Providence, RI straightaway afterward for a Cheese Tasting with the caterer for our wedding. The amount of working and riding I've been doing and the sleeping I have not been doing has left me, uh...grumpy. Feeling strapped for time I entered into a "discussion" with Miriam on the subject. At a real high point I might have said something like:

"Whatever cheese they have is fine with me.
American, Cheez wiz, Velveeta, whatever"

Something like that.
What can I say, she's a lucky girl, got herself a real winner here.

Then it's down to The EFTA Glocester Grind in Rhode Island. I did it last year, it went well. It's a super-nasty-technical one for sure. Just the way I like 'em. Actually, shit, if you click on "last year" you'll read perhaps one of the least horrendous race reports I think I've ever written. Definitely more interesting than what I'm writing today. Must have had some good coffee that day.

Then a big move, got plans with teammate Freye-Daddy to hit up The Canada Cup in Tremblant and Coyote Hill on the way back down with some hanging with my favorite VT50 winner afterward. That's exciting.

On the 31st of May we got Singlespeed-A-Polooza out in New York somewhere. I hear the guys that do The Dark Horse 40 put on a good event.

Next is the very catchily named NYCMTB All-City XC MTB At Highbridge Park (at least that's what it's called on Bikereg) I owe my brother and Br0-in-law a visit and I never get down to NYC in the summer because of my queer racing addiction.

Something I just busted out the Sharpie and indelibly inked on my calendar is The Stoopid 50 in State College, PA. It's a Chris Scott race. Need I say more? OK, maybe you don't know what that means. What it means is this. I won't make some specific analogy here, just think of it it this way, if the guy who is the absolute above and beyond best at doing a particular thing does that thing and you can go benefit from his doing of that thing pretty easily, you should probably go do it. OK, analogy; no understatement, If God existed and he promoted mountain bike races he would be Chris Scott. Less offensive analogy; if he were a Film Director he would make Stanley Kubrick look like whoever directed Scary Movie 3.

That's as far into the future as I'm going to go today. Who knows when I'll need to scrape for writing material again.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I Didn't Race My Bike So I'm Just Gonna
Talk Crazy For A While

Most Evil thought I had on my ride Saturday evening:
"Hey kid on the Razor Scooter, tell your Mom to buy you a helmet, and while you've got her attention, tell her to stop buying you Twinkies".

Greatest act of self preservation on my ride Saturday evening:
Not yelling at the guy who cut me off with a flying right turn on red in the clapped out Chrysler Lebaron because he looked like Charlie Manson and had a large German Shepherd in the passenger seat.

I'm working on a screenplay for horror movie called "The Booth" (not to be confused with "Phone Booth" the crappy movie with Colin Farrell, where he's trapped in booth, pinned down by an extortionist sniper). It's about a bike mechanic trapped at the service counter of a busy bike shop on a sunny Saturday. He has to listen to "The Flat Story" time after time until he's ready to jam a pair of Ksyrium spokes in his ears in hopes that he will forget everything he's ever heard. Oh, you don't know The Flat Story? It goes something like this:

"OK, so we pulled this bike out of the garage, we haven't ridden it in years, we tried to pump it up but there might be something wrong with the pump...or we don't know how to use those weird French nozzles...or the wheel is defective...or...I don't know, maybe you can patch it or something you think we need to replace the tire? What do you do plug it? Is is because we lost the cap that holds the air in?".

I'm at work so I can't respond like I would to a child asking me such questions,
"Your tire went flat because you are a bad person and God hates you".

And that's not really the end of the story either. If you allow them to the teller will carry on until it dwarfs the Icelandic Sagas, even though there are ten people in line behind them, it is imperative that you walk away at some point to go fix their flat.

I know that most normal people's idea of horror involves Nazi Zombies or Nazi Werewolves (which would win in a fight anyway?) but for a misanthropic bike mechanic, this is true horror. The Booth. Coming to..,well, a theater nowhere near you, this...never.

Now for the note to self portion of the post, the part where I talk about my "training" so that I can look back next season and see what I did right or wrong. Friday I recovered, or tried to. Had a tough time getting the legs back under me after Winding trails. Don't know if it was the stupid gear or the heat or a little from column A, a little from Column B. Whatever it was, it left me pretty tapped. I wasn't able to effectively train until Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I did the Pyramids: 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 minute intervals. Roughly. No way to really do these accurately while riding to work the total-non-crap-way through Weston. I did more on the way home, really going more "organic" with the intervals. "Well I know I'm going to hit that stop light or that cross street so I'll start this one a little late...or a little earlier". Seemed to work better. Been spending so much time on the Superfly SS mashing the big gears that when I'm doing proper douche bag intervals I'm doing them super-high-cadence and trying to breath hard. Hopefully the lungs will catch up with the legs sometime soon and we'll put together a couple good races when it counts.

This AM (Sunday) I did the Joe Friel hill cruise intervals up on the water tower along route 2 in Arlington. The access road, not Eastern Ave. or one of the undulating, stop sign broken pitches through the neighborhoods. I start it at the manhole cover by the merge sign in my 39 X 19, switch to the 39 X 21 when the pitch changes, switch down to the 17 across the false flat up the Park Ave., hitting Park at about 4 minutes in, then continuing up to the tower for about a five minute interval. I do them until my times start to increase, this time I got six. With a ten pound pack. I pack light these days but I've developed a habit of dumping change from my huge change collection into my pack in case the service registers run out of it during a busy day at IBC. In The Booth no one can hear you scream...because the sound will be drowned out by the wailing of children and the incessant ringing of bike bells.

This post was brought to you in part (the fuzzy part) by Speakeasy Ales & Lagers.

Change is Good. And Heavy.

Friday, May 01, 2009

One of The Top Ten Worst Rides Ever

I'm not talking about the Harold Parker portion of the ride, I'm talking about the getting there via the road on the Single Speed bit. After sleeping off the all time record thirteen hour workday, noodling on the computer for a little while and doing the most cursory amount of housework, I got on The Superfly and began rolling up to Andover, home of a highly esteemed preparatory school and a tractor trailer training school. It definitely felt like I was riding toward the latter.

I mapped a route using my Rubel Eastern Massachusetts map, all the roads I chose were "Green Streets", meaning "preferable for bikes" as opposed to "Red Streets", meaning "These streets will run red with your blood if you try to ride a bike on them". I guess green streets are a relative thing. I already know not to attempt to ride any roads in Framingham and Natick, period. Green or not, they all suck. If I had mapped my route on Google Maps it would have gone something like this:

1. Head north through The Middlesex Fells on the dirt, enjoy it while it lasts, your ride is about to go all to shit
2. Cross Under 93 take a right on Forest St. and begin riding on shoulderless, crap roads while being buzzed by angry drivers who are rushing for no good reason at all.
3. Take a right on Washington st.
4. Continue on Washington/Shit/Pothole/Glass-Strewn/Miserable Piece of Crap/Hell-Hole for two hours
5. Arrive at Harold Parker State Forest demoralized and broken.

When I look in the mirror these days I say to my reflection "Oh my god, I am dying" but my new Tifosi Forzas are nice. I wrecked my last pair with the mud at Hopbrook.

However, it didn't take long for me to start feeling stoked and getting into the ride. HP is just about my favorite place to ride these days. Proper East-Coast, rocky, twisty, annoying technical for miles and miles.

Our posse was tight, consisting of Matt O'keefe, Rosey, Colin, Linnea, Will, Scott, and Rich. We were rolling pretty fast, only stopping for Colin's multiple mechanicals involving horrible knee-smashing on his stem.

My only mechanical consisted of last minute flat, about five minutes from the car. I had thrown the 34 X 17 on The Superfly so I wouldn't suffer so terribly riding up on the road. HP is not 34 X 17 territory, it's more 34 X 19 or 20 territory. It's good practice for the long races though. If I'm going to not suck too too bad at the 101, I'm going to need to be able to spin until my taint falls off and mash until my knees swell up like cantaloupes and explode.

Unfortunately this left me all torqued out by ride's end. Like a wingless frog, I was unable to lift my ass off the ground so it wouldn't go "Bump!" on all the pointy rocks. I put a good-sized hole in my Xr-1 which Stan's didn't come close to sealing. This forced me to do my running practice for the week. I love running. It's really useful. Who knows when you might need to escape a saber-toothed tiger or a charging Mammoth.

Will is a great rider. So is Linnea. I was not so great yesterday. But my hair was.