Thursday, July 17, 2008

Momma Bear

Now I kinda wish I had waited to do that little commute photo essay until today.

Just before reaching the I-93 overpass this morning I rounded a slight corner to see a Black Bear with her two cubs crossing the road maybe 20ft in front of me. Momma was about the size of a quad ATV and the cubs were Wylee sized. They were about 1/2 way across the road when the mom noticed me. I was basically stopped, she eye'd me for a few seconds and continued to cross with the cubs. I wanted to stay moving so I could jet if need be so I continued to roll by. They were on the other side of the road starting to climb up a small embankment as I was passing them. As I was rolling by the mom pivoted around to face me and that is when I uncorked a sprint like I never have before.

I got up to speed and gave it full gas for 50 yds or so before I snuck a peek and lucky for me momma didnt feel like pursuing. Not sure if I could have outrun her or not...bears are pretty fast, I think my top speed would have been a bit faster than hers but my commute bike is fairly heavy and hard to keep at max speed for very long. I guess I'll just have to hope that my body's preservation instincts will kick in some extra adrenaline if needed, glad I didnt have to find out today.

Monday, July 14, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #6 The Pinnacle

It is turning out that without fail once a year I have a pre race meltdown. Last year was at Moody when I forgot both socks and my helmet. I was lucky to borrow a helmet from a sport rider who had already finished and I just rode without socks.

This year at the Pinnacle I completely forgot to fill/bring my camelbak and get a bottle of Accelerade made. On top of that the camelbak holds the adjustable wrench that I use to affix my oldschool bolt on hubs. So I realize in the parking lot that I cant put my front wheel on and I have no fluids for the race...JOY.

Lucky for me I found a fellow SS'er with an adjustable wrench to fix my front wheel problem and luckily I had brought a half gallon of gatorade that I staged at the start so every lap I could at least stop and pound a bunch. And lucky for me the race organizers at the Pinnacle have their shit together and had a water station handing out cups of water to racers as they went by. Problems pretty much solved...on to racing.

I actually kinda like riding without the weight of the camelbak, I might have to experiment with that a bit in the future. I actually ended up feeling really good during this race. The climbing was really tough (always is at the Pinnacle) but I felt pretty strong the entire time and the second half of the course was more than a reward for all that hard work in the first 3 miles.

There was an epic section of cross fall line trails that felt like a "pump track in the sky" (coined by Derek Griggs). Very little pedaling needed, no brakes necessary and FAST. It was such a blast to ride. and after that section was a screaming descent that was a perfect balance between technical, speed, and flow. As you can tell I probably had the most fun racing I have ever had this past weekend. Def one of the best courses I have ever ridden.

Results were pretty typical for me...came in 7th of 8 finishers. Broke the 2 hour mark coming in at 1h 54min and finished even closer to my competitors, missed 6th by about 2.5min to a guy who usually beats me by 5-10min. And coincidentally the guy who came in 8th was the guy who sold me the fork that I am currently riding (beat him by 6 mins hah!).

Finally get a bit of a break from racing (4 weeks straight) and I will finish up the series with 2 more races in August.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Commute...Visually

I had been thinking about doing a little photo essay type documentation of my commute for awhile now and finally got around to it this morning. Couldn't have asked for a better day for it.

I figured I would get both of the gratuitous "I have a camera and I'm on my bike" shots out of the way early. The classic 1st person under the drops perspective. Coming through Ashland first thing as I get started

and the ever popular thats my shadow shot about another 500m (thats right I'm going metric) down the road.

this is the first little "hill" just after passing under I-93. Its a nice little warm up and its good to know I can legally go 50mph up it....just in case I'm feeling real good.

North Ashland Rd. has a great canopy feel in the summer, lots of growth and nice and quiet

There is a much better view from here in the spring before it gets overgrown. That smoke stack to the left of the shot is the Bridgewater Power Plant. They burn cedar wood chips and it smells like bourbon near here when it gets really hot and humid

Shortly after passing the Power Plant you come to the home of 'my brother in arms'. I cant believe this picture came out as well as it did cause I was on the move for fear of this man coming out and killing me for taking pictures of his Man Cave. One day I hope to upgrade my 'area' to a cave.

After a nice lazy descent past the Man Cave you hit the major climb of the morning, what I call the Buckaroo Bump. (it passes the Buckaroo Farm, wicked pony rides there) Probably about a 7-8% pitch for maybe 150m or so.

another nice long lazy straight away (tons of traffic eh?)

I very frequently leave early for work and stop at the White Mtn Country Club for a quick 9 with the VP of Student Affairs and the Director of Public Relations. No I don't.

Looking North over I-93. This pic was taken from an economically, environmentally and maybe even ethically superior viewpoint.

One of my coworkers condo. About 2.5 miles from campus and he still drives that truck to work. COME ON!

I have been watching this house be built from the ground up. They started in the Spring and each day I get to see new things completed, it has been really fun to watch it progress.


Rolling into campus.

And that, in a nutshell, is my morning commute.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #5 Horror at Harding Hill

I went back to read my race report from this course from last year and I think I was a bit harsh. The course was basically identical to last year and while I hurt probably just about as much as I did last year there were parts of the course that I enjoyed a lot. Or maybe its just because I didn't have to deal with any mud and after last week I could ride up a giant 20 mile fire road and be happy.

Harding is a tough course for a SS. Its a lot of work, grinding fire road climbs one after the other. And unfortunately today a few of them were exposed and trudging up slowly in direct sunlight pretty much sucked. I was able to ride all the climbs though which was an improvement from last year, although I came close to cramping on a few pitches on my 3rd and 4th laps.

The main descent on the course was awesome. Just technical enough to be fun but not crazy so you can really let it rip. That section was followed by a great flowy section that I looked forward to every lap. Basically for me this race was just busting my ass so I could get back to that section 4 times.

Other than that the race was pretty uneventful, no crashes, no funny stories like last week. I met some personal goals...I didn't come in last and I broke the 2 hour mark coming in at 1h 54m, thats almost 10min faster than my time last year...a HUGE improvement for me. I came in 6th about 3 minutes out of 5th. Not sure where I stand in the overall at this point, they haven't updated the standings, but I think I might be in 3rd or 4th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Times they are 'a Changin

This morning on my commute in I passed TWO other cyclists on their morning commute. Now while city commuters will be like, BFD I pass like 500 people riding bikes on my commute, this is a pretty big deal up here in Cow Hampshire.

I have seen other riders in the morning but they are always just local cyclists that I know out for a morning ride. I have never seen anyone else on their way to work before. Part of me was pleased that people in the area are finally looking into alternative methods of travel. I think there are a lot of people in the area especially some of my coworkers that live well within a manageable commuting distance but still drive in to work.

Unfortunately part of me was also not pleased when I saw both of these riders. The first individual I came up on was riding on the left hand side of the road. Seriously that is like cycling 101. Consider yourself a car, easy as that. Riding where he was is so dangerous for everyone, I was cringing watching him ride up a small rise to a blind corner in the middle of the left hand lane. Granted N. Ashland Rd. is relatively low traffic and the speed limit was 30 where he was, but I can guarantee if a car had come around that corner at 30mph he would be dead. I hope hes British for his sake.

Then the next person I came up on was cruising down Rt. 175 not wearing a helmet. I remember back when I was 12 and wearing helmets meant you were not cool and I didn't want to wear one either. But you aren't 12 and not wearing a helmet means you are an idiot.

So yeah...times are changing, people are trying out more sustainable options of a lot of things but in true American fashion not always using their heads. Maybe I should offer a community learning course on the basics of getting to work on a bike....hmmmmmm