Sunday, June 29, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #4 Moody Park

Wow, where to start. Okay, in a word....MUD. Lots of women pay good money for the kind of mud bath treatment I received today. I have never ridden in conditions like this. I probably cannot adequately describe the amount of mud but lets just say it was literally everywhere and it was deep (yes that deep DT) and thick. Peanut butter in spots and pudding in others.

I would say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the course was basically unrideable, but the stuff you could ride was really fun and suited my style pretty well. I had been earmarking this course as one that I wanted to do well at all the way back at the beginning of the season because I knew it suited me.

So lets get to the highlights...within the first 200 yards I dropped my chain. SWEET! It was a brand new chain and I think I might have gone pansy when tightening the bolts when I put the wheel back on and it slid forward a bit and presto, SS field gone and I'm riding by myself at the back of the expert field per usual. I got back on and hammered hard because I wanted to try and get back into things and I was motivated for this course more than others.

Strangely I actually caught a guy within a mile that usually beats me by at least 5-10 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised and motivated even more. I dont know what happened to that guy, I kept waiting for him to catch me but he never did and I think he may have just given up because he wasnt on the result sheet and his car was already gone when I got back to the parking lot after finishing.

The next best thing that happened was my half gainer into a mud hole on my third lap. I had ridden this section with two successive mud holes two times before just fine but I think the holes were continuously getting dug deeper and deeper by riders every lap and the third time around the depth of the first hole caught me by surprise, I went into a instantaneous fully inverted endo and literally dove into the next mud hole hands/head first. The hole was so deep my arms went completely in and I didnt hit ground until my head was almost completely submerged! I had to hold my breath, my nose was under mud water. One of the most hilarious things I have ever done on a bike. (I was later told by a woman taking pictures of riders that the mud running down my face made me look like a "horrifying Polynesian warrior"...EPIC SCORE)

On my last lap a SS rider caught me about 1/4 through the course. Seemed to me he came out of nowhere. He passed me going through some heavy mud and I jumped on his wheel for a bit. The strangest thing was that he caught me so quickly but then he was riding very slowly in front of me. I was having no trouble holding his wheel and I was even getting some rest hanging back there. Coming into the Gravity Cavity he stopped to snag a water bottle from a friend on the side of the course...not sure why he actually stopped but I saw my chance and gassed it. I figured with how slow he was riding in front of me if I got a good gap I should be able to hold it to the finish. I was right. Never saw him again. and I crossed the finish line in a hilarious time of about 2h 50m (I think the winning Elite rider came through in 2h 15m, which is very slow for this course...the mud brought everyone to a crawl.) But that 2h 50m was good enough to get me a hard EARNED 3rd! My first podium with more than 3 people starting in my class. Needless to say I am very pleased. I got $30 for my efforts too, but more importantly a little vindication.

sparkly clean before the race

The entrance to the 'Gravity Cavity'. pictures never do anything justice but this is basically a giant 'V'. Very steep descent for about 50yds and then an equally very steep ascent of about 50yds out. The trick is to carry crazy speed down the descent so you can coast up the ascent without working. For reference my comp clocked my max speed at 36mph. FAST on a MTB.

I should have got some close ups for effect but this sums it up pretty well

The guy in first was a no show so me and Tom Noble decided to be extremely flaming.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kolsch 'N Honey

I'm sure most of you are probably saying to yourself..."what the hell is Kolsch?" And the reason most people have never heard of this beer is because the only place you can brew it commercially is in the German city of Koln. Apparently brewers there have some unique methods, yeast strains, etc. and Germany is fairly proud and protective of their beer and allow brewers to basically patent a brew.

So obviously this batch isnt a true blood Kolsch but hopefully its close. Its another pilsner-esque ale (like EDA) that is light, smooth and crisp. Northern Brewer sells it as a great summer 'lawn mower beer'. This was a really easy grains to steep, just 6lbs of extract, 2oz Hallertau Hops, and 1lb of Honey at the end of the boil. This will be a nice change of pace from the last few batches I have done. The last four batches or so have been in the 1-2 month turn around range whereas this Kolsch should be good to drink in about 5 weeks tops.

Adding the Wort

*UPDATE*: Holy Crap this has been in secondary for a long time. Probably a month longer than I had anticipated. But that has happened before and I did not complain about that batch...far from it. This time around I was a bit concerned though, it has been very wet up here the last few weeks and you could tell the basement was getting a bit 'ripe'. I was worried the airlock wouldn't be able to hold off the additional 'basement musk'.

But it appears as if my gear did what it was supposed to. I tasted while bottling, like usual, and it looks like this is going to be another winner. Its a bit darker than I had thought it would be but I think thats just because I dont have the ability to do a 'full boil'. i.e. boiling a full 5 gallon batch of wort. You need one of those propane jet engine burners to boil that amount of water at once, which I dont have, and you typically get slightly darker brews when you make more concentrated wort (only boiling 1-2 gallons).

Lucky for me I don't really care about color so much. This batch is nice and smooth and the honey added a nice twang of sweetness. Its a bit weaker than some of my other batches but that was the intention. Just a nice easy-to-drink summer beer...Ready just in time for a camping trip up in the north country.

Almost batch is back to the strong stuff, batch after that is my first time experimenting with my own recipe (probably with some help from the local brew store)

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #3 Clifford Park Assault

Many athletes in many different sports often refer to 'it'. As in on any given day you have 'it' or you dont. Today I did not have 'it'. A combination of a lot of factors lent themselves to a hell of a day in the saddle for me.

I wasn't feeling with it pretty early on, as in like the first lap (out of 4). Hard to tell exactly what was throwing me for a loop but I think it was probably a combination of the heat, my sore knee, my still somewhat tired legs from last weekends big ride, and a digestive track that I think has been rebelling the last few days due to all the ibuprofen I have been taking for my knee. Cocktail for disaster. But my body sent a clear message and I read it loud and clear so I will probably be taking some time off the bike this coming week to try and really recover.

minus my meltdown, actually I'm not sure you can even call it a meltdown...I don't think I ever officially got going enough to have a meltdown. The race went pretty well. I rode most of the technical sections cleanly, no major crashes. This course is renowned for high DNF rates due to flats on all the sharp rocks, big crashes and mechanicals. So I suppose even finishing considering my bodily issues was a pretty good accomplishment.

They added a new reroute to this course that made things very difficult for us single speeders. Added quite a bit of very technical climbing and a new very technical descent (that I had to walk on the last lap because I didn't trust my tired self being able to navigate properly...first time I have bailed on a technical descent at a race ever I think) I limped in, literally, in 2h 30m ish. That is pretty horrible for me on that course. Not sure what place I came in, something happened with the timing and they werent able to post the results at the race. I think there were about 10 SS starters give or take.

Hopefully I scored some points, I really need something to justify what I put myself through today. The next three weeks are going to be interesting...recovery is going to be the name of the game for sure.

*UPDATE*: Found a link to results and currently they have me coming in 6th in SS but I think they still have some things to work out because I saw two names that I know raced SS but their results are listed in other classes. So in reality that puts me in 8th, scoring 88 points towards the overall. If these results hold out, I have moved up from 10th overall to 5th after 3 races. I put up a hilarious 2h 42m time which is a literal DFL for Expert Men by probably 10 minutes or so haha.

Surprisingly though if I had raced my age group in Sport I would have put up a very decent time. I remember my third lap time was about 1h 48m which would have put me in about 4th in Senior II. Not bad considering how annihilated I was and that I was riding SS. Lately I have been toying with the idea of building up a nine speed and racing in my normal class just to see where I stand fitness wise on similar equipment to people in my age group. So be on the lookout for a project thread if I decide to start another build at the end of this season...

Monday, June 16, 2008


Similar to a professional bike racer I have now officially put in a full work day on my bike. About 8 hours in the saddle over, what my comp recorded as, 147.68 miles. I took in 3 states leaving from MA heading to VT by way of NH.

The terrain was great. Most of the roads were in good shape, the two major climbs were tough (I passed lots of riders walking their bikes up the second major climb) but they were suited to my style...longer and gradual. I was able to set a good tempo and I never ran out of gears and probably only got out of the saddle twice during climbs and that was more to stretch my legs and back.

All things considered I am very pleased with my ride. I felt like a managed my nutrition perfectly, I never bonked or even really felt like I was close to bonking, and I always felt hydrated even in the heat we hit heading north into NH and VT. I kept my heart rate where I wanted it and I don't think I went anaerobic the entire ride. I averaged just over 17 mph, didn't have any major mechanical issues and made it to Windsor, VT with some energy to spare. Basically all goals were met and two days later I feel 75% recovered.

But you might be saying to yourself...thats all well and good, everything went smoothly, blah blah blah. But where is the adversity? the toil? the hardship? the epic struggle? Because everyone knows thats the real reason people do these rides. Whats the point of trying something bigger than you have ever done, pushing your body to the limit...and then just having everything go perfectly, no big deal, see yah next year. Its almost a waste of a personal challenge.

Luckily for me though my ride wasn't all perfect. Sure, I finished and met my goals, but I met those goals after having hit, not one, but TWO parked cars at about mile 35 while I was traveling at about 20mph. I was coming into Groton as part of a very large group of about 80 riders, I was towards the back of the group and for anyone who has watched helicopter footage from the Tour knows...when big groups ride into roundabouts or narrow roads they squeeze together very quick and orderly. Unfortunately I am not in the pro tour and we did not squeeze in an orderly manner and I was the odd man out when push came to shove and didnt quite have room to squeeze into the flow of traffic.

Hit the first car with my right brifter to driver's side mirror...thank god for those space saving folding mirror designs because it just folded out of the way on impact. But I still didnt have room to squeeze left and the impact jarred me enough that I lost control and I slammed into the back left corner of the next car leg/knee first and then got sort of wedged underneath it. I was towards the back of the pack so I didnt get run over or anything. Long story kinda short...neither car was damaged (not sure how that happened) the impact hurt but thanks to adrenaline it wore off enough that I got on my bike and worked things out and was able to finish. Unfortunately my adrenaline wore off on the car ride home and my knee stiffened right up and started to swell a bit. I think I stretched/strained some ligaments on impact as I slid underneath the car my leg didn't have anywhere to go and the knee took some of the force as I got jammed under the car.

So I have to sort out that last 25% of recovery over the next few days, but hopefully that goes well because I have lots of MTB racing to do starting this weekend.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #2 Bear Brook Blast Off

Due to some land use issues EFTA had to cancel the Sterling Sizzler (which I had scheduled for) and instead of completely ditching the Championship Series race they decided to use the Bear Brook Blast Off (which had just been a fun race, not part of the series) as the new NECS #2.

This kinda sucked for me because I had already booked myself that weekend for some white water rafting on the Deerfield River in MA as part of Voss' bachelor party. The rafting was really cool though and I am really glad I went.

Not a bad alternative to racing bikes

Shaun is scared

Boom, for real

I have read some race reports around on blogs and team sites and the race sounds like it was really fun and a very fast course. I hope they continue with this venue next year, it looked like the promoter knew her stuff and had things very well organized and Bear Brook is very close to my house compared to all the other races.

There was a very large SS class for this race...13 finishers. Probably the second largest finishing field I have seen in SS, maybe since Bradbury last year. This probably helped me out a bit because it spread the points out. Right now I am sitting in 10th with 130 points and only two people have shown up at both races and scored points so a lot of the people in front of me are 'within striking distance'.

Next race is June 22nd up in Biddeford. I'm hoping to race well there but I will be coming off of the B2B ride the weekend prior and I don't know how fast my legs will recover from a 143 mile effort in one day. Guess I'm about to find out.