Saturday, October 25, 2008

'Mighty Chicken'

So my newest hobby/endeavor is trail building / maintenance. Sounds boring, and for most people it probably would be...but I have found that you cant beat cutting your own trails and then riding them.

Today I started and basically finished a project I have been talking about for weeks both with friends and with members of my chapter of NEMBA. There is an area at the Falls in Franklin that has a perfect natural ravine. Currently there is a trail running right down the gut called Chicken Ravine...a great screamer of a descent in its own right, but any time anyone went in there everyone mentioned how there needed to be 'waves' cut into the ravine walls to ride it down like a half pipe. 'Sidewinder' at the Kingdom Trails would be a good comparison. Our version will be known as 'Mighty Chicken'.

We were finally able to turn lots of talk into action and myself, Scott, George and the Tilton School MTB team went from top to bottom in about 6 hours or so of work. It needs to be ridden in and we may have to do a bit of additional bench cutting to avoid some areas that might wash out, but other than that I am very pleased. This was the first time I have been 'in charge' on a project like this. I have done building before but I have been following someone else's markers not placing my own. I chose each and every line of a trail that could be a new New England classic (pending rider reviews)....pretty cool.

Scott workin hard

Its hard to see the real angles in these shots, but trust me its SWEET.

U Ditch

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Night Rider

Overcast, Pitch Black, Raining, Cold and my lights shorted out and turned off.....but I still had a blast.

I am somewhat new to night riding, but I needed to get some time in the dark under my belt so that I am ready to go for next season's 24 hour races. In the past the expensive nature of good bike lights had prevented me from bothering with night riding. I found a deal on a Blackburn X8 system that had pretty good reviews.

X8 - Sketchy when wet

The ride kicked off just before 6pm and we still had a tiny bit of light to work with and it looked like the X8 was gonna work just fine. We rode the new trail we just cut last weekend and things were good. Then during a regroup, the lights just cut out on me. Not really sure what happened, they just shut off and I couldn't get them to turn back on. In retrospect I think it may have been a combination of a loose connection and some moisture getting where it shouldn't have gotten. The system has a feature that when it detects a short it shuts itself down to avoid damage to the battery. A good feature I guess, but I was left in the dark...kinda.

I still had my jerry rigged headlamp mounted to my helmet with zipties. This isn't my permanent helmet light solution...I will probably supplement my X8 with a better, lightweight option, possibly a Danolight.

This is an okay headlamp but not quite adequate for tearing through dark woods at speed. Needless to say the ride was interesting. I was having fun though, no doubt about it. Riding at night can turn a seemingly 'boring' trail you have ridden 1000 times into something new and challenging. Not to mention it extends your riding season quite a bit. I can get rides in after work now until the snow hits.

I got the X8 working again after getting home, drying things out and making sure connections were secure. Hopefully I can avoid further issues in the future.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pinnacle Challenge '08

Another year in the books for the Pinnacle Challenge. And another year that I won't have to buy maple syrup. I was really looking forward to this race this year due to how much fun we had last year and because we managed to talk some more friends into making another 'Blue Zoo' team.

mmmm, syrup.

The weather this year was amazing, couldn't have asked for anything better. A little crisp in the morning but it warmed up to mid 60's and the sun was shining.

We were down a member from our team from last year due to injury. Christina broke her foot and her Doc wants her to stay off it for another 6 months. Lucky for us Adam had a friend from high school who ran track through college and was free this weekend. Jeremy agreed to join the team with a disclaimer that he 'was a little out of shape'...more on this later.

This year we started out with Natalie on the road run. She put up a great time of 36min, putting us in real good shape going into the mtb leg.

Ice emerges triumphant

Adam didn't have as much traffic to deal with this year thanks to Natalie and put up another great time around 34min.

The brothers Bradley owning it

Then it was my turn. My goal this year was to, obviously improve on my time from last year, but specifically I was looking to try and get to that 40 min milestone (meaning I would have to cut 2mins and change off my time from last year)

It was a lofty goal but I have felt pretty strong this year. In retrospect I think this year I was stronger going into the race but I think I prepared a bit better last year. Last year my schedule allowed me more opportunities to simulate the time trial effort on a course near my house that is similar. I didn't get around to doing that as much this year. Oh well.

Course was in great shape this year, some portions had been repaved since last year, traffic was minimal, and the wind was swirly in spots but not too bad. I came out of the start feeling pretty good, trying to conserve a bit of energy for Lovering Hill. The climb started well for me but I think I got a little overconfident about 3/4 of the way up and gassed it a bit too much because the last little pitch over the top almost sent me 'to the point of no return'. Luckily I was able to get up and over and recover a bit on the descent.

Hurting a bit over the top

I was giving it everything I had on the haul back to Newport. I could tell I was a little bit off my desired time so I was really trying to dig deep. I ended up pulling into the transition with a time of 41 mins and change (good enough for 25th overall, road times were much faster this year), taking about a minute off my time from last year but still not quite hitting that 40 min goal. No regrets though, my average heart rate was 181...I'm not going to get much more from my body than that.

So while I was fighting off the urge to puke I passed our timing chip off to 'slightly out of shape' Jeremy who proceeded to annihilate the trail run course coming back in with a time of 23 mins and change, putting up the fastest time of anyone there by over 2 mins.

en route to victory

So thanks to everyone getting a little bit faster and to Jeremy laying waste to the trail run we cut a cumulative 15mins or so off our time from last year and won the Co-Ed class by a somewhat hilarious margin of half an hour. But even more impressing is that our time put us in 6th overall of all teams and solo racers competing...pretty gnar.

But I think the best part is that the Co-Ed team that came in second 30 mins behind our team was none other than the other Zoo team made up of Amanda, Ben, Naro, and Dustin. A great result seeing as the team was thrown together last second and that none of them really had any current race experience. They have the taste for syrup now though, and next year we are gunning for a Blue Zoo Co-Ed podium sweep.

Monday, October 6, 2008

That's a Wrap

I am officially sticking a fork in my commuting season. I haven't been able to find the motivation to get myself up when its still dark and get geared up for those freezing temps like I could in April. I am a bit disappointed about bailing before I met my goal of 1000 miles commuted, but on top of my lack of motivation the daylight is also getting to dangerous levels in the morning and I worry about sleepy drivers.

I met a lot of my cycling goals for this year and while I did fall a bit short on this one, I can still be proud of my over 60 days of riding into work and at least now I have something to shoot for next year. There is nothing like just missing a goal to get you motivated for next season.