Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lifts Smifts

A somewhat decent sized storm for this early in the season came through town yesterday and man did it blow!

High winds, 6-12in in most places and just like that New England is in the middle of winter. Remember when it was 60 degrees like 5 days ago? Bill and I coordinated and decided our first turns were in order so we met at Cannon looking forward to some early season on piste powder turns that would fill in run after run.

For some reason it never even occurred to me that the lifts would not be running at Cannon. I have ridden the lifts there in weather that would make most people crap but I think it may have been the combination of wind and the fact that there was maybe 25 people on mountain yesterday...that's a lot of electricity to use for 25 people I guess. But all 25 of us decided there was no way we weren't getting some turns in after driving all the way there in less than ideal conditions.

Unfortunately because it had never occurred to me that there wouldn't be lifts running it also didn't occur to me to bring any of my AT gear that I have now. Not even a pack I could have used to haul my skis. Soooo time to shoulder those skis and start postholing our way up. A benefit of the running I have started doing immediately presented itself. The hikes up felt great, could have gone all day. Bill and I hiked over to the top of the Zoomer chair and got a run down Zoomer with a quick hike up a cattrack to grab a little more vert on the bottom 1/3 of Rocket. The snow was interesting, extremely wind blown and a bit grabby but better than sitting at a desk.

Top of Zoomer

We looped back around to the base and grabbed another lap up to the top of the Eagle Cliff Chair and down Gremlin. The wind was getting even worse into the late morning and I was literally blown over waiting for Bill before our second run. I had just put my skis down and went to turn my back to the wind and as I was spinning around a huge gust came through that I was not ready for and it felt like someone ran up and tackled me.

me sulking after getting pwned by the wind

After wrapping up our two laps the next challenge was getting the hell out of the Notch and home safe. Winds were still picking up and I was not looking forward to the drive home. Luckily the Echo is low profile and great in the snow. As I was leaving southbound through the Notch I came upon a tractor trailer stopped with hazards on pulled all the way to the left and hugging the guardrail that runs down the middle of the parkway. The reason he was hugging that guardrail is because it was keeping him from tipping over. The trailer was rocking back and forth in the wind almost enough to pick a wheel up off the ground. There was a enough room to crawl/sneak past him and I got the hell outta there. WILD.

Bill ended up getting a pretty good shot that shows just how gnarly it was...

Unfortunately all that wind lowered the accumulation at Cannon to just around 5in all said and done, but all the other snow got blown somewhere (the woods). Really looking forward to getting this season rolling. Looks like my skins will arrive in the mail the 14th and they will be trimmed and ready to go 1hr after that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Good lord, can it be?! Am I really getting into running???

Went for another jaunt around the neighborhood this afternoon, this time a full loop, down to the lake, up and around. Never thought I would say this but I actually enjoyed it. You can take in a bit more of your surroundings when running as opposed to cycling and the views from Black Brook Rd. are pretty sweet.

Today I was trying to figure out how to pace myself. My first two runs this season felt a little herky jerky. Fast starts, mini bonk, level off. I wanted to try and even that out a bit. I set the Garmin to auto lap at 1 mile so I could keep track of my splits and I think I was pretty successful.

Loop came in at just under 4.5 miles and for the first two I was coming in at about 7:45/mile, third mile was just over 8 and mile 4 was about 9:20 (but it was also straight up a huge hill). And after that huge hill I was able to recover and bring my pace back down to just over 8mins for the last half mile.

I felt like this was a pretty sustainable pace for me, I can usually gauge how much I have in the tank by my recovery rate after a bigger effort. I bounced back quickly after the effort up and over the hill on Eagle Ledge Rd so I think I could have easily gone another few miles at that pace. No knee pain and so far basically no soreness. Progress continues.

I also tried out running Pandora on my Blackberry for music and I was very pleased. Pretty slick little app and decent sound quality. I'll need to set up some more stations...or at least one called 'Running' based on Eye of the Tiger and Final Countdown...c'mon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Burner '09

Second year in a row I have made it to the Burner and its the second year in a row I probably should have stayed home warm on my couch with a coffee.

I set off this morning in the rain hoping that the weather was better down south. It was not. Pretty steady rain and temps in the 40's. Not sure if that is better or worse than last years snow/rain mix and temps in the 30's. I think I liked last year better, snow doesn't get you quite as wet.

I think a lot of people agreed with me because the head count was much lower this year than it was last year, its a shame they haven't been getting the nod from the weather lately. I have heard this ride has drawn near 300 riders in the past which would raise a lot of money for a good cause. Not sure if they even hit 40 riders today, every person I knew that was thinking about riding bailed so I was on my own.

But I threw on just about every piece of cold/wet weather gear I owned (why own it if you aren't gonna use it?) and actually felt awesome for the first half of the ride. Just cruising around on some of the fireroads, staying dry. Ended up seeing a few familiar faces and rode with some groups here and there. Then slowly but surely the water started to find the kinks in my armor. In another couple minutes I was soaked to the bone.

Made it to the 'rest stop' and downed some chili on offer from the local Fire Dept and wasn't really feeling doing any singletrack at that point. Wouldn't be long before I started getting cold and FOMBA doesn't really drain that well in spots and I didn't want to ruin any trails. Finished up the lap around the lake for about 12 miles and (more than likely) put a period on this years riding season.

Word on the street is snow in the forecast soon and I have already seen a tweet from Jay Peak saying it is snowing presently....can't wait.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yeah Running!

Took my first stab at seeing whether or not my body can handle running this afternoon. The jury is still out (i.e. have to wait and see how I feel tomorrow) but the initial results are promising.

I tried about a 5K (ended up being 3.2 miles) from the house out to Collesion Rd. and then back to where the dirt starts, with a cool down walk back up the hill to the house. Perfect little loop for me to test my progress over that distance which is basically the run distance for a Sprint Tri. Like it was meant to be....

Ended up with a time of 24:38. Which I am pretty proud of. I compared that time to the 2009 results of the Black Fly Tri (one I am planning on doing next year) and I would have come in 67th of 314 competitors for the running leg. Granted I was fresh for this run and not two legs into a tri but I bet I would still be in the top 100 range which is actually a bit better than I thought I would be starting from scratch.

This was a decent effort for me, avg heart rate was just about threshold. Definitely wasn't 'race pace' but I doubt I could have gone too much faster at this point without cramping or having some other kind of issue.

So all things considered I think if I get some better shoes and start running a bit more I can get running under my belt no problem. Of course this all depends on my knees. There was some soreness (about as much as expected I guess) but I am hoping better shoes will take care of some of that.

Now I just gotta blow up my floaties and see how fast I can swim!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bagging some peaks in the Belknap Range

on a bike.

Grant sent an offhand email at the end of last week mentioning a ride he called a "climbing extravaganza" led by a local leaving from Gilford and heading into the Belknap Range. I love extravaganza's in general and looking at the topo I was very intrigued. A ride didn't really look possible in that area which of course means you gotta get in there and ride.

We met at the Elementary School in Gilford and immediately started the climbing basically straight up to Mt. Rowe. It was rough going in spots, leaves were deep and there was some runoff from the previous days rain but it was doable and at least an even mix of riding and hiking. We toped out to some gorgeous views of the Lake and the range.

The days crew

There is some definite BC potential up here for this winter

Looking to Gunstock and Mt. Belknap

Once we were on top of Mt. Rowe the riding turned quite a bit more rocky. Riding ridge line down into the valley between peaks and then basically dumping out onto and riding straight up one of Gunstock's trails. I made it as far as I could (which was much farther than I thought possible) and then hiked it from there.

Picture with my kill for the trophy case

The descent down Gunstock heading to Mt. Belknap was great, very craggy and unrideable in spots (unless maybe you had a DH rig). We then rode as far up as we could and then hiked it to the peak of Belknap, the highest of the day. There was some decent exposure up there with even more great views, I was too busy loading back up on calories to remember to take pictures though.

The descent off Belknap was by far my favorite part of the whole ride. It made all the hiking well worth it. Super technical but basically all rideable, lots of great ridge terrain coming off the top and some brake burning slab sections and great singletrack. Picking good lines was paramount and really made things interesting. There were more than a few gut check points and a few spots where I was lucky to be running a 29er.

We bottomed out in the valley and started our way up what I believe was Mt. Piper (or maybe Whiteface, I'm not sure) and I got a great pic of the back side of Belknap that appears to have some terrain prime for backcountry skiing.

I am liking the density of those trees...

Coming off Piper we hooked into an extensive network of doubletrack and fireroads for the haul back down into town. We ran into two jeeps who were (DL)mudboggin and a hunter or two. The doubletrack descents were really fast and very fun. Sketchy in spots with some baby head rollers that you couldn't really see due to all the leaves but nobody exploded. We eventually kicked out onto some pavement and we all let it rip on a short hill back down into town. I hit 42.1mph. Very fun but also kind of cold.

The GPS data from the ride appears to be a bit more accurate probably because we were more exposed and not under such dense tree cover like a usual MTB ride.

oh and while I'm at it I also got an awesome ride in on Saturday with Adam at FOMBA. We checked out a new trail I had heard about from a fellow NEMBA member. It was crazy...tons of real big built up features...teeter-totters, bridges, a giant A-frame over some swampy area, sweet lines built into natural rock outcrops. Lots of work went into this trail and it is AWESOME. Forgot the camera and also forgot that my new phone has a camera. Off chance I might try and get down to ride this again before the season is done, it was that good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How'd I Do? / Where'm I Headed?

So right around this time of year I like to try and look back over what I've done this past riding season as I mentally get ready for riding snow and figure out how I am going to train for whatever it is I will be doing next year.

This season I was a little bit less specific with my goal setting and race planning. I knew I wanted to try some longer format races (which I did, with mixed results) and spend less time traveling all over to hit all of the EFTA races, which in hindsight I partially regret because this would have been the year I could have won the whole thing. I was putting up strong enough results at the races I attended that if I had simply shown up I think I would have had it in the bag...oh well.

I am not sure if I will continue to make stabs at the 6/12/24hr formats. Pat's Peak was fun (in a way) but I think in the future I will need to do more course recon. Lots of hours on a course that isn't that awesome kinda sucks. I will also probably only do that format again if I'm on a team. That's a lot of time to be on your own solo and I'm just not serious enough about racing to ride a short loop over and over for hours unless I'm sharing the torture with friends. I did however prove to myself that mentally and physically I can pull at least a 6hr off and be marginally competitive.

As to the NH100, I am still trying to figure out if that was awesome or the worst thing ever. It broke me something wicked but I definitely enjoyed the single lap adventure format as opposed to the 6/12/24. I finished the distance and I didn't come in last, but I felt like I should have done much better. Granted, the heat that day was outrageous and I have come to the conclusion that I am one of those 'belgian-inclined' type riders that does better when things are a bit colder or even wet. So again, I proved to myself that I could do it but I will probably not focus on this type of format in the future. But I can almost guarantee that I will continue to try and have at least 1 epic type race/ride on my schedule each year...otherwise how am I going to figure out what I am capable of?

I did score some decent results on the EFTA side of things this year. I thought I put up fairly strong rides at the three races I attended and if I am going to be hanging my hat on anything this year it will probably be that. I was in the mix at Bear Brook, got a podium at the Pinnacle and rode well at Millstone (even with some IT band issues). It was apparent this year that I'm not getting any slower when it comes to XC racing so that is good. I think the EFTA circuit will continue to be the core of my racing year to year. There are several local races with courses too good to pass up.

So thats that, proved I could and didn't get any slower. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. But as everyone knows that doesn't mean the war is over. 2010 is quickly approaching and I need to figure out if my body can pull a sprint triathlon off. This year has made me confident that my body can handle new challenges but this will really be pushing the limits. New cycling challenges are easy...running and swimming? uh oh.

I am tentitively planning on using Garmin Connect to try and track my various running / training / skiing / etc. this offseason. I am going to need to train a lot to get running and swimming under my belt and the only way for me to stay motivated with that is to track everything so if I slack it is readily apparent right on the screen in front of me. I plan on using some more of the PSU facilities this off season...getting in the pool, riding the sweet new trainers in the HUB with the 'computrainer-esque' interface where you can race people and the features of the terrain on the screen dictate the difficulty. Gonna start running and trail running around the house as well as earn more turns this season on snow.

Next year I don't want to just prove I can do it, I want to prove I can do it fast.

Now all I need is for everyone to stop getting married so I can actually have a few free weekends next season K THX BYE!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hopkinton-Everett Dam Trail Day

I finally got to head down to the Hop-Ev / Elm Brook area to assist with building a new trail yesterday. CNHNEMBA has hosted a few weekday rides there this year but it is kind of a long drive for me from Plymouth to try and get there after work and I could never make it in time.

The Hop-Ev land is also owned by the Army Corp of Engineers (same as Franklin Falls) and they are great with allowing access and providing support. There has always been a rough network of multi-use trails in the area but there is potential for lots of great singletrack and there is now quite a few motivated individuals in the area and with the help of the NEMBA troops I think Hop-Ev is going to be an amazing place to ride in a year or two.

We had a much bigger crew than I had anticipated. Lots of local support and a boy scout troop even came out to lend a hand. Our local contact Sharon had already flagged a trail for the day and all we needed to do was lop branches and rake / ride it in. We broke into two crews and set to work on each end of the trail and were able to hash the whole trail in in about 3.5hrs. Final distance came in at just over 1 mile total.

We were able to take advantage of lots of interesting features as well as build up a crossing over a rock wall. There was also a low lying area that is going to require some additional attention which could turn into a really fun / interesting bridge building project.

Loading up our implements

raking it in

building some features

rock wall crossing

the whole crew just after meeting up in the middle

A few of us suited up and raced the sun trying to get a short ride in to see how our handy work panned out. It actually rode really well and was much firmer than I had anticipated. I think this trail will ride in quickly as long as we can get some consistent traffic on it next year. And there were already spots that you could tell will have great flow and be real fun as soon as it is riding a tiny bit faster. Here is the ride data:

The new trail is the squiggly singletrack and we added a big loop before riding the new trail in the other direction to head home. Ended up just beating the sun, can't beat that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crotchtoberfest '09

Just because we moved doesn't mean our Fall Extravaganza would fall by the wayside. Slight name change and we are off and running. Had a great time and great weather this weekend. Snagged two rides on Saturday, first at Franklin Falls and the second at the Concord Hospital Trails.

Trails could have been a bit dryer but basically textbook fall riding. Of course I completely forgot to bring the camera on the actual rides, oh well. But I did manage to remember it for all the fall activities on Sunday.

I challenge you to represent Fall better in three pics, and GO.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pinnacle Challenge '09

Yet again I have padded our stores of maple syrup to get us through another year...But I will be partially haunted when I partake in this batch of syrup, thinking of greatness that could have been.

But before I get to that, let me thank the rest of Blue Zoo squad who all put up extremely strong performances. They all owned it pretty hard.

This year our team consisted of Jen Caban, myself, Adam, and Jeremy. Our go to gal Natalie was called away to NY unexpectedly, but we were able to tap the Zoo extended family and Jen came through on short notice keeping us in the game...thanks Jen!

in all our glory

I dont know much about what happened during everyone else's leg of the race so I will just sum things up. Jen came in with a real strong time of 32min and change (best female time in the entire team division, scoring her $25 hard currency) and put me in great shape with little traffic in front of me. Adam picked up after me and put in a strong time of 38min and change (I think that was top 10), which is all the more amazing when you find out how overdressed he was. I would have passed out from heat exhaustion. Maybe he can elaborate in a comment... Dressing for races/rides in the fall can be tough, big temp swings from morning to afternoon and at race effort things warm up fast. Jeremy scorched the course similar to last year and came in with I believe a top 3 overall time of 24min and change.

finishing strong

With their help we netted 1st in the Co-Ed division and 7th overall with a time of around 2hrs 20min. Sounds great right? We got the syrup we came for and did well in the overall...goals met, head home happy right? Yes and no. Now to my leg of the race.

In the days coming into this race my health had finally been coming around and I was really starting to feel good on the bike again. I was feeling fast and confident and I was really looking to do well. Things got off to a good start, I got right to business and gassed it up to the stairs you have to run up the ski jump hill. I had already made two passes on the stairs and made two more shortly after that. I was starting to feel the pain and my heart was definitely pinned. I ran a few steep sections that I knew were coming but other than that I rode everything clean and was red lining but moving along at a decent pace.

I got a cramp about 3/4 of the way up the first half of the course that I thought was gonna screw things up but I was able to power through it and mentally I was getting pumped because I knew I was already coming up to the descent and I had snuck a peek at my watch and saw I was at 22mins. 2/3 of your time on this course is usually all the climbing and then the descent down takes about half as long so I was looking at hopefully no more than a 10 min haul back to the transition for a possible finish time in the 32-35min range. Right where I wanted to be. Then as I was riding the traverse trail to the main part of the descent I heard one of the most sickening sounds a biker can hear.

The sound of a rock that has hit just at the right angle and with enough force to reach your rim and pinch your tube. I heard that ever so slight *ting* and my heart sank. I knew what had happened but I kept riding anyway hoping that if I didn't look it would go away. Didn't work. Shortly after I started to feel the tell tale signs of my tire getting softer. I was able to ride for maybe another couple hundred yards before it was completely flat and my rim was bottoming out on everything. Immediately my mind flashes back to the parking lot when I was having the conversation in my head..."should I top my tires off? nah they feel okay."

I ALWAYS top my tires off. I cannot think any any other race I have done in the last 3-4 years where I haven't. What the hell was I thinking??!?!

Luckily I immediately went into kill mode. No way was I going to give up and screw everyone else over so I just started running like a maniac. Slipping all over the place, taking huge strides and using my bikes brakes to slow me down when things got crazy. I had about 2 miles to the transition area and I am no runner (yet) so I was hurting. But I just kept pushing, amazingly I was only passed by about 3-4 guys on the way down. But I pulled into the transition area with a time of 43mins and change a full 10mins longer than I had wanted.

Just before the finish I attempted to hop back on and ride the last downhill doubletrack. Someone was there documenting and I found a pic. I wish I also had the audio of my rim bottoming out on every root...

So now to the WHAT IF's...

If I had indeed come in with a time under 35 mins there is a chance that we could have won the race overall. I don't know that for sure because I haven't seen the official results to crunch all the numbers but it would have been very close. I will probably try to not crunch the numbers so that I never know for sure because really the what ifs are just a waste of energy. Mechanicals are part of racing off road and I did what I could with the situation. But man WE COULD HAVE WON THE WHOLE DAMN THING! oh well.

I had a blast (even though I didn't get to ride the best part of the course), the members of Team Pinnacle put on a great show as always and I really hope that they continue to get the support that they deserve.

I'll post race pics as I find them and results when they are posted.


I still put up a mid pack MTB time even running half the course. The guy who put up the third fastest time in the MTB leg finished about 4 mins slower than me at the Pinnacle X earlier this summer, so I should have been right up there. Next year I will be...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scottish Wee Heavy

As the temps drop I have once again ventured back in to the realm of higher gravity brew. Such is the way of the world. As I try more and more different types of beer I am finding that I am partial to a good English Brown or any type of Scottish Ale. Union Jack knows his stuff, what can I say.

The Wee Heavy is a standard Scottish Ale at its core but it's trumped up a bit...kinda like the batch of New Old Ale I made a while back, which was a brown on steroids. I figured this would be a good beer for the holiday season and Thanxmas in particular. Oh man, Thanxmas? Can't wait. 7 years strong and I still get giddy every year around Sept when we start laying the ground work for yet another magical get together.

This batch is rocking a full on 12lbs of malt extract, which is about twice as much as many of the batches I make.

Power Burner

It was only a matter of time before manarea went recursive. Don't look at this for too long. Trying to comprehend the implications of this photo could make your head explode...kinda like this video:
I dare you to watch it.

*UPDATE*: And now for the Thanxmas Brew Beer Label Vote, brought to you by my section of Web Expressions. Vote for the one you want to see on your bottle of Thanxmas homebrew in the comments. I might actually look into getting the winner printed off and the bottles labeled in time for the big day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Millstone Grind NECS '09 #9

or #8 depending on how you look at it...#6 was rescheduled for later this month so maybe its #9 now? Who cares, I don't. Why am I even writing this?

Go ride Millstone, do it now. Do it often. Ride everything they have 4 times in a row, you won't regret it or maybe you will depending on your level of leg cramping, but I had a pretty awesome level of leg cramping and I still had a huge smile on my face and it was not a face cramp induced smile either.

I can't say enough about this place, these trails were everything I love about mountain biking. Challenging climbs, but doable (even SS, sorta). Lots of technical features. Ample flow. And plenty of spots to let the speed get a little crazy.

Enough horn tooting onward to the report. I went into this race with a little trepidation. Things hand't really been gelling since the NH100. I had some residual IT band issues that would act up about 5 miles into any ride and I was still trying to ditch a cold/allergy thing that I've had for a week or so now. Wasn't anticipating an awesome experience but I really wanted to check out these trails due to all the hype its been getting lately. Hype that is well deserved.

Hit the road early for the 2hr drive and got to the venue while the fog was still clinging to the valleys. Granite country in VT is gorgeous and it was a pretty cool scene with the fog and everything. I was actually starting to feel pretty good, I had done a lot of stretching and using heat to try and get the IT band back on terms and my lungs felt a lot better. Then they started blasting techno.

8:30am serene VT farm, fog, cows, really loud techno. Obviously this got me very pumped up. Perhaps it was our time in Canada this summer or just how ridiculous the whole situation was (so ridiculous I had to tweet about it) but I was ready to race. My mental game was ready to go...sickness didn't matter, leg would be fine, LETS DO THIS. I suited up still had lots of time to burn so I decided to get a quick pre-ride in. This got me even more pumped. Did maybe 3-4 miles of some of the sweetest singletrack I've ridden in a long time and could not wait to get the show on the road.

Got out of the gate sitting in 5-6th and pretty much stayed there all day. I rode in 6th for the 1st and half of the 2nd lap and then caught 5th (NH guy that I actually bought the fork from that is on my Kona). We were pretty similarly matched and leap frogged all day until the last lap when I ditched him at the feed station. Now to some highlights. 1st and 2nd lap were pretty uneventful. 3rd lap things started to get interesting. Cramps were setting in, they were managable at this point but fatigue was starting to set in pretty hard. I could start to tell the 'slop' was starting to show up in my lines...with almost catastrophic consequences.

Towards the end of the lap there was a sweet descent I believe called 'Switchback'. Three guesses why they call it that. Huge, techy in spots switchbacks at speed, awesome. One in particular was fairly hairy, largeish boulders and maybe 1-2 doable lines and if you screw it up you either fall into a boulder field or get thrown off into the woods down the fall line into trees and various other brush, probably getting impaled in the process. I had smoked this section laps 1 and 2 with a pretty sweet inside line that was relatively clean, not the best exit but it worked. For some reason (probably a brain cramp...everything else was cramping, why not my brain?) on lap 3 I figured I would try a high line...not really sure why, I had already found a good line and I wasnt trying to pass anyone but I tried it. Didn't work.

I tried to wiggle through a spot that was probably un-wigglable, maybe on a 26in bike but you'd still have to be a ninja. Made it half way and then my rear wheel hit the boulder and popped straight into the air. I am now doing a huge nollie down a steep switchback boulder field heading straight for the woods and certain doom. Last ditch, I push and throw all my weight back and let go of the brakes to try and get things centered again to get my wheel on the ground. It worked, but it actually worked too fast and now I have to try and get my weight back centered again and fast because there are more boulders coming. So I throw my weight forward...failing to ensure I had proper junk clearance over my seat. I basically thrust my crotchal region straight into the back of my saddle as hard as I could. Luckily I took the shot in the bladder I guess is the best way to put it and not to my business. But it still did not feel good. 10 second breather and I'm off again...gingerly.

Lap 4 was good because now the legs were really locking up. I had to find the exact riding position where I could still get some power without cramping. I was able to sort of figure it out but sometimes you just cant get in that position when you need to. These were pretty epic full leg cramps too. Quads, calves...if you've never had a muscle as big as the quad fully seize up on you I highly recommend it. It is hilarious. Especially when you attempt to get up a very short steep pitch and your left leg completely locks up (as in it will NOT bend probably not even with outside assistance). And then the momentum from your movement and your other leg still brings the cranks around, only problem is that leg isnt bending. Try and visualize what would happen if you were pedaling your bike and one of your legs couldn't bend. That's right, you get lifted off your bike and tip over into the woods.

Rest of the lap went better, took the right line in the switchbacks and pulled in around 3h:48m. Which I am very pumped about because my goal had been 4hrs.

per usual, until Garmin figures out their correction algorithms, this data is basically all wrong. Distance...wrong. Elevation...probably wrong. Average Speed...wrong. Thanks Garmin!

I believe that time puts me in 5th of what was probably 8-10 starters, didn't get the best head count at the start. I am very pleased all around with my result...bested my goal, placed well, and I think I even beat some people I have never beat but I'll have to wait and see the official results when they post probably tomorrow. And all that with some phlegm and an angry IT band. Very pleased. Pleased enough to use an emoticon :)

Official Results. 5th of 7 finishers, I want to say there had to have been at least 1-2 DNF's in SS as well. A much more respectable time in the Expert field for me too, especially considering this was a longer format race and I was dealing with issues. Always nice to end the season on a stronger note.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Continued Intensity

Here we are barreling into the end of '09. My last few races are on the horizon and I'm starting to struggle to keep motivated, I'm getting over some sort of bug and am dealing with some repetitive stress injuries...yup its Sept. Just about every sport I consistently partake in requires a healthy dose of looking ahead down the trail to be successful. Being 'hardcore' is no different. To battle the end of season doldrums I have begun to start thinking about what it will be in '10 that makes my friends and family tell me I'm nuts.

This past year I have tried some longer distance MTB races. I had anticipated doing well in these events but that didn't entirely pan out. I felt like I managed things well considering I was new to the distances and the endurance is definitely there but getting/maintaining the high end performance to really be competitive at those events probably requires more intense training than I am really willing or have time to put in. So for now I have conquered those challenges, notched my belt and am thinking that I will table some of the 12/24hr stuff for a bit (unless I can actually convince some friends to throw down with me). The NH 100 was a whole nother beast that may or may not be tackled again depending on how my bike stable rounds out and the weather forecast going into the race. I have come to the rock solid conclusion that temps over 85 completely remove my ability to ride effectively.

Speaking of bike stable...I tried to sell some bikes and it didn't go that well. Probably part economy and part I build weird bikes that don't really appeal to a mainstream demographic so selling is a lot of work. So I have gone to plan B. I'm keeping the roadie (specifically for one of my new endeavors for '10, more on that later) and my old commuter will get a few modifications to make it a better more versatile ride. I'm going to refine the fit and maybe upgrade a few parts. Might even be a ride I could use at a race like the NH 100 or another less techy long distance off road event. Or maybe I'll actually try some off road touring, who knows. I hope to sell my 9 speed successfully, its a good build and if Shaun doesn't snag it I think I'll have more luck moving that ride. That moolah will either go towards an AT setup for this coming snow season or be put towards a nice new shiny single speed.

I have spent the last few years focusing specifically on cycling fitness which has been great, no regrets. I feel like I really took myself to a new level of cardiovascular fitness that I doubt I will ever lose at this point as long as I stay active. However at times I think back to when I was ski racing and doing more consistent dry land cross training and a lot of skiing and I feel like overall I was in better shape back then considering both strength and endurance and now that my heart is used to very prolonged harder efforts I want to get back to a more rounded fitness level.

So I have decided to try and get myself back into more of a multi-faceted fitness regime. Gonna start by getting back into the gym this winter to start building strength again, gonna earn more turns this winter (hopefully) to keep the cardio up, gonna try and start running (body part permitting...running and me haven't always gotten along), maybe even start swimming a bit...can you see where this is going?

Turns out Central NH has an amazing triathlon scene, probably due to all those lakes in the area. So the form of competition I will use to try and keep me motivated to stay rounded will be triathlons and duathlons. There are plenty in the area scattered across the whole season that will require less than 60mins of driving. Can't go wrong there. I'll probably start with sprint tri's (usually no more than .5 mile swim, 15-30mi on the bike, 3-6mi running) next year and see how things go...I'm still not 100% sure my body will take to all this yet. I have spent a long time thoroughly beating the crap out of myself and a bum shoulder could make swimming interesting and don't even get me started on the various joints in my legs and their interaction with running...only time will tell. But thats the plan...return from being a pure cyclist to more pure fitness. I'll still race single speed MTB here and there though, there are a few races that I love too much: Bear Brook, Pinnacle, etc.

Here is a tentative/possible race calendar for next year:

Black Bear Duathlon (Running / Biking) Waterville Valley, NH
Mooseman Tri Festival Alexandria, NH
Bear Brook Blast Off Allenstown, NH
The Pinnacle Newport, NH
Black Fly Tri Waterville Valley, NH
Top Notch Tri (MTB / Swim / Hike) Franconia, NH
NH 100?? Greenfield, NH
Timberman Short Course Tri Gilford, NH
Circle Tri Ashland, NH
The Contoocook Carry (Run / Paddle / Bike) Contoocook, NH
The Pinnacle Challenge (Run / MTB / Bike/ Run) Newport, NH

This list will obviously get narrowed down due to schedule constraints and reg fees, but look at all those choices I have! and all within no more than 1 hours drive. Gonna be a doozy in '10. Actually thats gonna be my campaign platform:


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NH 100 (degrees)

I have waited a few days before writing this recap partly because I have been recovering for the past day and a half and partly because directly after the race I am always in a 'that was the worst thing ever' kind of mood and you have to let the 'race amnesia' set in.

For those who don't know, bike racing is inherently horrible. Every mtb racer has something missing in their brain that tells them that suffering like that is actually not that fun. We are reminded of this during a race but then forget it shortly after thanks to that amnesia...and we keep showing up week after week.

Directly after the NH 100 I was mentally battered, the second 30 miles of that course is demoralizing. Steep punchy climb after steep punchy climb, every time I thought it must be over and the rest is just a cruise to the finish I turned the corner to another 10-15% grade. That combined with the oppressive heat and I eventually just went into survival mode. Its hard to stay out of your head in situations like that and I was getting down on myself because my goals had been to do much better and I was falling far short of my target finishing time.

The numbers are all wrong (they advertise 7,000ft of climbing. where the hell are you getting that other 10,000ft garmin! COME ON!) but look at that elevation profile...I shudder every time I look at it. Shorter steep climbs; the bane of my existence. I would have done better if it was just one giant 62mi climb at 5% the whole way...all those 200-300yds at 10-15% from mile 45-50 over and over? not so much.

And how about burning almost 7,000 calories? That's like 3.5 days worth of food for a normal person...burnt in 9 hours. Not really sure how I didn't just vaporize. News Flash: I don't weigh a lot.

In retrospect, my goal was a tad unrealistic. I think there have been some course changes so trying to base a goal off past finishing times didn't really work, and with the added heat I think everyone's time was probably about 1 hour or so off what it could have been. I still am not that pleased with my 8h:57m finishing time, some people beat me that I very typically beat but I can take solace in the fact that this course ruined a lot of people and finishing in and of itself was an accomplishment. All told about 20% of racers DNF'd. I also didn't finish last in Expert Senior II which was a pretty big surprise, I thought for sure I was gonna DFL...turns out I beat 2 other Experts. SCORE!

The race was organized expertly. Huge number of volunteers, course was marked very well and the aid stations were adequately spaced, well stocked and organized. Also got some cool swag just for participating...the standard t-shirt but also a custom pint glass full of stickers and other goodies. Unexpected and very cool.

Okay so there is the overview, now the details as best I can recollect, this will probably all be in the wrong order and completely not accurate. Dehydration does weird things to your memory, go figure:

We started off cruising on dirt roads and mostly flat doubletrack probably for the first 8 miles or so. With some railroad bed and a sketchy old bridge crossing with holes in it mixed in for good measure. Then some gradual climbing (which was actually suited to me and I passed some people here) up and around the side of Crotched Mountain Resort, followed by a sweet descent right down one of the ski trails.

Then we had to trudge along a sandy path for quite awhile that pretty much sucked. Nothing like riding in sand to just completely sap your energy and make you feel like you are going nowhere. After all that wonderful sand we hit a little bump called (I believe) Hedgehog Hill. Not very long but plenty steep. Just enough to kill any mental momentum you had going and remind you that this is not going to all be a cruise. Then they didn't waste any time in taking that loss of momentum and really driving it home.

The power line climb follows immediately after Hedgehog and while I have heard that Mike Broderick rode that section two years ago, he is a pro (literally) and in my opinion that section is basically unrideable. And completely exposed to the sun. I hauled my carcass over as best I could and went in to damage control for the following few miles.

Luckily we got a respite with a screamer descent on pavement where I almost hit 40mph but shortly after that we ducked back into the woods for a very steep wooded climb that sucked the wind right back out of my sails. The next 15-20 miles is where I slowly faded away into a shadow of my former somewhat fast bike rider self.

The terrain consisted of LOTS of climbs just long enough to prevent a sprint push to the top and too steep for me to sit and attempt to spin my 32-34 combo. By mile 40+ I needed a granny gear up front to spin grades above 7-8% the power just wasn't there in that heat. So I ended up sprinting as far as I could get before cramps began to set in and then hopped off and walked the rest...slowly. Rinse and repeat that sequence for a few hours. Somewhere in here I somehow got turned around for a short period (although I could have sworn I saw course arrows telling me I was going the right way) and rode head on into a group of 3 guys one of which I knew from Central NH riding. It was a very funny "Hey Jesse...Hey're going the wrong way...ok" exchange. I also rode through two 'puddles' that were knee deep on the bike and about 100ft long. Yeah frontier track!

Then as the epic slap to the face they threw in the biggest summit of the day in the last 10 miles. At this point I was pratically delerious and just laughing that I was still gaining vertical feet. Every injury I have amassed in my almost 28 years was back to haunt me at this point along with lots of other new pains. Luckily pain was just one of the things my brain wasn't really processing that well at this point. Last rest station was at the summit of the back side of Crotched Mtn. then we had 5 miles back down to the start/finish.

Thats about as best as I can remember it. At some point the only way to get through an ordeal like that is to turn the brain completely off and rely on muscle memory.

For any interested you can find pics and videos from years past here:

I would assume they might have this years pics posted soon? All told I'm glad I did it and can cross one more challenge off my list, any rider looking for a sufferfest should look no farther.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

L'Canada? Oui s'il vous plaît

So this past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a bachelor party in Quebec. Ben is one of the early birds in the Zoo family to get hitched and his bach'fest has set an extremely high standard. I almost don't even really know where to begin but I think this post will focus more on the biking aspect of the trip, seeing as that is the primary focus of this blog and that most of the other things that happen at bachelor parties are not 'G' rated. Hi Mom!

We rented a "slopeside" condo at Mont St. Anne (about 30mins northeast of Quebec City) for the weekend to catch the World Cup MTB events and to get some riding in of our own. I had never been to a world cup or up that north into Canada so I was pretty pumped.

Watching the best downhillers in the world was pretty humbling. Those guys go stupid fast into extremely gnarly blind lines. Very fun to watch and I was actually able to snag a few decent shots with my walmart special pink camera. Never saw any crashes up close and personal though, oh well.


The whole group was able to snag a ride on the cross country trails surrounding the mountain on Saturday and Dustin and I were the only troopers able to muster another ride on Sunday. To be honest I wasn't too impressed with their XC terrain. I was expecting a lot more but it seems like the resort focuses all their effort on their World Cup courses and I suppose I can't blame them. That is where all the money is for them. At best their XC is 80% double track and 20% single and in reality its probably more like 95% double and 5% single at least from what I could tell by the trails we rode.

But to their credit they really maxed out the available real estate and you can get very 'removed' on a ride and really get a cool adventure feel. Partially lost, partial exploration...nothing wrong with that but I was just expecting a bit more singletrack goodness. And dont get me wrong just because its double track does not mean it was all easy. Lots of climbing and some interesting steep/fast descending with loose rocks and some washout.

no earthly way of knowing...



no one will hear you l'scream

it was hilarious how out in the middle of nowhere this hut was

We got a solid 14 miles or so on Saturday with aobut 4000ft of climbing

and Dustin and I followed that up with another 14-15 on Sunday with another 4500ft of climbing

And for an interesting cross reference those two rides combined is almost exactly the distance and amount of climbing that I did in 6hrs at Pat's Peak this year.

So to sum it all up I can't think of the last time I jammed that many activities into an extended weekend. Very little sleep and all kinds of action. World Cup racing, big rides, big raves, historic cities with Euro appeal, epic clubs, and did I mention no sleep? L'Awesome.

Au Revoir!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pat's Peak 6hr Solo '09

I have mixed feelings about my first foray into endurance racing. Some things went pretty well and some things went pretty poorly, but I guess that's probably the first lesson of the endurance game. Its never going to go perfect so you better be ready for it when things go south.

I got all my nutrition stuff figured out a day or two before and packed up a cooler full of goodies to stash at the race for me to hit in between laps. This brings me to the first thing that wasnt all that awesome. Pats Peak charged $15 for a 'tech tent area' in the start/finish and technically you weren't allowed to put anything in that area without paying. That was probably my only gripe with the organization of the event. Everything else was very well put together. I think a lot of the 6hr crowd was pretty pissed about the setup because really all most 6hr riders had was a cooler at most...not a tent / stand like a lot of the 12/24 racers.

bike race...not an eating contest

I was pretty pleased with how I handled my nutrition, especially not having any kind of frame of reference as to how my body was going to react to a longer effort. Never really cramped or had any bonks of any kind so that was one of the things that went well. I ended up bringing WAY too much food and fluid but I guess thats the way to do it. Certain foods worked and some I had trouble eating consistently. Things taste / go down different when you are in the pain cave.

The venue itself was pretty cool, defenitely had the festival feel.

start/finish tent with obligatory Red Bull inflata-banner

They set up a nice S turny thing down the slope to the finish. got pretty greasy by the end, very fun.

interesting crowd, the DHers were on hand as well preriding the course for tomorrow

The race started with a leMans start, which is pretty typical for an event like this. Basically bikes go across a field, and everyone runs to get their bike then mounts and takes off. Started off fine got in line about mid pack and got to the days business. Traffic was kind of annoying on the first lap, but there isnt much avoiding that. Much easier to just mass start in a timed event like this. About 15mins into the first lap things got 'hilarious'. I feel a sting/bite on my upper arm and look down to see a bee stuck in my flesh. AWESOME. I flick it off and keep on keepin on. Then on lap 2 at almost the same spot STUNG AGAIN. This time on my leg. What am I Dustin?? Completely ridiculous. Luckily I'm not allergic but I'm sure that didn't help my race physiology much.

Then we got to the climbs...oh the climbs. Ouch. I think I can speak for anyone without a granny ring up front at this race that those things sucked. First one was worse...way too steep even for my 9 speed, second lap I was already walking it, couldnt really get any decent power going in the heat. Did I mention these climbs were on exposed ski slopes in direct sunlight? Yeah, I'm not used to heat yet cause its been raining since May. Second one was more gradual and I could get a rhythm going. A ski resort is a tough place to do any kind of endurance racing without a full gear set. Anyone who pulls it off is badass in my book (myself included...kinda).

So of course I have some mechanical issue stories, I think that is probably also a staple of the endurance scene, unless you get really lucky I guess. End of my second lap I was heading down the descent at a pretty good clip (I passed a lot of riders on the main descent, all day really, but more so early when people were close together, pretty pumped about that.) and my best guess is that my low limit screw on my derailleur was set a bit lax and the vibration sent it behind the cassette just enough to get it jammed and when I went to downshift, all hell broke loose. luckily nothing snapped or broke but it was never the same after that. I unjammed it but I think the cabled stretched a bit and threw the indexing all out of whack. Long story short, my 9 speed was now a 3-4 speed off and on depending on terrain and mud as of lap 3. JOY.

Now to lap 4 but still on the descending topic. I was feeling good on the descent all day. Making passes and picking decent lines, smoothness was abundant. Unfortunately certain portions of certain lines were getting progressively more greasy the more riders hit the descent. I found out one portion had gone terminally greasy the hard way. Slightly off camper turn with some roots but nothing that couldn't be handled by just keeping the bike more upright, straightening out your line a tad just for a second and on your way. At least for laps 1-3. Lap 4 that scenario turned into wheels hit roots and immediately are out from under me. They slipped just enough to throw my center of gravity / balance way off but not enough to take me down right there. My wheels eventually caught in the trough of the turn and when they finally hooked up the force was too great for me to handle and by that point I was pointing directly at a tree.

For those keeping score, yes I rammed my bad shoulder right into a tree.

So needless to say descending after lap 4 was substantially slower due both to the mental impact of the crash and the fact that my shoulder was pretty sore and all those jarring impacts were not fun. It kind of eventually numbed itself out and I was able to keep truckin but I'll probably pay tomorrow morning. Only time will tell.

So yeah that was basically it, I managed to snag 3 more laps after my crash for a total of 7. My original goal had been 8-9 so I fell a tad short but I think it being my first time trying this format and the fact that I had a few issues here and there, I'm happy with the result. I didn't give up when I had plenty of pretty legitimate outs. And funny enough when I pulled in on my last lap mentally I was still okay, I probably could have kept going even though I was walking a lot of the course and physically breaking down. I guess that is a good sign? We'll see how the NH 100 goes in a month or so. I think I will like that format a bit better than this.

The Hard Data:

As for results, they will probably be posted soon. I don't imagine I placed very well. There were quite a few very fast individuals taking a crack at the 6hr format...Pro's and Semi-Pro's all over the place. Oh well, I would be psyched if I got top half of the field but I'm not even sure if that is later lap times were pretty slow, I would imagine the average rider could snag 8 laps on that course. Especially if they have all their gears. I'll post results when Pat's puts them up.


Did a bit better in the standings than I had anticipated. Ended up 17th of 30 (originally thought it was 14th but Pat's Peak printed the numbers wrong saying there was a 4 way tie for 11th, but there wasn't really) almost a mid field placing. And I was only a minute behind 16th and a lot of the riders who finished up with 8 laps were only about a half lap ahead of me and if things had gone differently for me I think I could have been right in there with 8-9 laps.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wrenching is Fun!

It's been awhile since I've had a decent bike maintenance session, I haven't renovated a dumpster bike for a while (no time!) and luckily my stable of bikes has been running just fine so there really hasn't been a need.

If you've been in New England lately you are well aware that it has been WET. But I still gotta ride my bike and with Pat's Peak on the horizon I have to try and snag as many miles as I can to get myself ready. Monday night's group ride was a wet one indeed; rained hard at first but then let off and then poured at the end. 14 miles in the pouring rain and mud will take a nicely running bike and turn it into a pile of crap pretty fast.

What I thought was going to be a normal boring hour or so in the area, cleaning and dialing things back in got real interesting and ended with me having to take my X7 trigger shifter completely apart.

FYI if you need to get BB5 disc brakes lined up real nice this article is the easiest most succinct I have found. I have had my doubts about disc brakes lately because I could never get the feel I wanted. Part of this is probably due to me being so used to V and being semi resistant to change. I also think that I never really had the discs set up right. After getting the rotors properly aligned things feel a lot stronger...granted I haven't ridden it yet but I think I might start to like them better now.

Got the drivetrain cleaned up and I was ahead of schedule (I have to try and set a time that I am going to work in the manarea otherwise I end up in there for waaaay too long) so I decided I wanted to slide my rear wheel back a tad. My Kona has sliding dropouts so you can set it up as SS or geared. When I set the bike up geared I put the dropouts in the middle of its slide range figuring that made the most sense. I also ride a Redline Monocog and now that I have been riding both bikes for a while I have noticed that I really prefer the Redline's longer wheelbase. So might as well slide those dropouts back as far as they go to lengthen the Kona's wheelbase right? Easy enough, I had an extra derailleur cable and housing in case the distance of the slide was too much for the current cable (it was). So I slid things back, recabled and went to test the shifting. And all hell broke loose. Shifter was completely thrashed, made it half way through its range and then just locked up, levers froze, nothing.

This is getting wordy so I'll skip to the end...I had to completely take the shifter apart and get into the guts. I was pretty worried at this point that I was screwed. When I popped the casing off a spring flew out and I thought for sure that was it. Too many gear mechs, springs and moving parts for me to figure out. Then I remembered that I have two advanced degrees. Played with it for a bit got the ins and outs figured out and came to the conclusion that the thing that was screwed up was the little gear indicator that shows you which gear you are currently in. Weird huh?

All that thing is is a little piece of thin plastic that extendeds down into the ratcheting system in the body of the shifter. There are 'teeth' on the plastic of the indicator that also engage with the teeth of the shifter so that when you shift the teeth on the indicator move with the teeth of the shifter and the little orange piece of the indicator moves down a notch. Turns out that little piece of plastic was getting jammed up about halfway through for some reason and preventing it from actually shifting. Remove the indicator, problem solved (I never look at that thing anyway). And now I know how trigger shifters work (X7's at least, but I would imagine the principle is similar for all).

Not sure how it happened...whether it was caused by moisture in there somehow warping the plastic or if I screwed something up when I recabled it but it was a learning experience and fun in a way.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pre-Ride from Hell

I think I should have read my biking horoscope for today. I think it probably would have told me that my stars were very much not in line.

The day started off okay, some work I had intended to do around the house was better tackled with two people so I left that and got an early start on the ride portion of my day. I went down to Concord, stopped in the city to get a tux fitting for Jake and Tara's wedding. Got in and out fairly quick everything was running smoothly. Get to Pat's Peak with plenty of time to do two laps or so and still get home before Gina gets home from work...perfect. Until I actually got on my bike.

Right from the get go I could tell my energy levels were off. My heart spiked pretty early into the ride and I had a real hard time getting things regulated. The trails were still very wet from all the rain we've been having. I decided I would just ride the course slowly to avoid causing any damage just to get a feel for the terrain and then head out. For some reason riding slowly and me dont mix at all. I completely lose the ability to ride correctly. Tipped over a few times, got extremely muddy, every time the trail tilted up my heart rate would spike and take far too long to come back down. Not sure if it was the humidity or the sequence of things I had eaten for my last few meals or what, but my engine was not firing on all cylinders.

My troubles quickly spread to my brain and I was unable to follow the course, basically at all. I went off track at least 3-4 times. It's not excellently marked but I was definitely missing some obvious turns. Almost killed myself on a waterbar on the decent, for some reason I didn't even realize it was there until the last second and was barely able to absorb it. After the decent I lost the course again and ended up getting back on track on a previous portion of the course heading back the way I had come somehow. At this point I was so confused/frustrated that I just pointed the bike down the neareast ski slope and got back to the base area and packed it in.

I lasted about 30 minutes, didnt even make it 3 miles. Quite the waste. Didn't get a workout and didn't even get to see the whole course. But what I did see has assured me that this race is going to be tough and more than likely leave me quite battered after 6hrs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pinnacle X NECS '09 #3

Apparently I love riding in slick conditions.

I almost called it when I woke up Sunday morning listening to a downpour come down on the skylight in the bedroom. Turns out it was raining much harder at home than it was in Newport and things were looking okay at the venue. Course was wet enough to be real slick but not wet enough to be really muddy and I can deal with that...more than deal actually, flat out ENJOY.

Things started off with a mass start, all experts at once, which I used to think I hated but I am starting to think I like mass starts better because the traffic issues that they create actually allow me to get warmed up a bit slower and I am able to keep pace better but at the same time there are tons of traffic issues and technically there were some spots where I was getting held up. I did manage to make 4-5 hilarious passes all at once though which was fun. I have ridden this course a few times and I have raced SS long enough now to know that there is no shame in running sometimes. There was a headwall of sorts on the first portion of the 1st lap where there is almost always a bottleneck and especially so with a mass start. I knew it was there and knew I wouldnt be able to sit and spin it and with no room to get up and hammer I planned on jumping off and running up the 'bad line'. Worked great, and I ran right past 4-5 guys spinning their grannys. I think one guy even got a little mad, like I was breaking the rules or something.

Sticking with the theme from last race...I am 90% sure I am the sliver of helmet and shoe behind the second guy in the pink jersey. Slipstream! Shake and Bake!

The singletrack was actually riding kinda nice. The roots and rocks were very slick but the dirt was actually a bit tacky. The rest of the climbing was how it usually is, leg breaking and slow especially with things as slick as they were. I was forced to try and stay in the saddle to keep weight over my rear wheel turning most of the climbs into the equivalent of a hardcore session of squats in the gym. Suffice it to say, there were a few times that my GPS unit thought I wasn't moving. I did manage to 'ride' most everything though minus a few techy spots on some climbs and the suffering was all worth it. I've said it before and I'll say it again...I would climb 15 miles straight up just to be able to ride the down at the Pinnacle. SO MUCH FUN. And I think I might even like it better when its slick.

1st time down kinda sucked because I had some less confident riders in front of me but laps 2 and 3 were perfect, no one immediately in front of me I had the lines pretty much figured out and the slickness added just enough to make it really interesting. Didn't crash once although I lost count of all the hail mary's.

Here is the hard data:

And results:

As you can see this is my first 'real' podium in the SS Class. In the past I have pulled some top 3's but that was usually due to there only being 3 people racing. This time around I actually put up a pretty strong time and was only 2 minutes out of 2nd place. I snagged a sweet bronze medal for my efforts as well that will be hanging in the manarea. I am pretty proud of how far I have progressed in about 3 years time and I'm looking forward to my coming endurance races. New challenges...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

California Common, AKA Steam Beer

WOW its been a long time since I've brewed a batch of beer!

Not really sure how that happened...just a combination of events with higher priority that made brewing not optimal. But we are basically settled in the new house, work on the furnace in the basement is done and brewing can commence.

I ordered two kits a LONG time ago and have been sitting on them waiting until I could find time to brew. At the time I thought I would get around to them much sooner. As such I am a tad worried about the yeast for this batch. It has been sitting dormant in the fridge for months and it didnt really come around when I busted the nutrient packet to wake it back up. Usually after a few hours the packet is swollen quite a bit as the yeast eats and expels gas....this time not so much. Not 100% sure the yeast is even viable at this point, but I went for it anyway. Worst case I will have to swing by Fermentation Station in Meredith and get the same strain or something similar and repitch if the fermentation doesnt kick off.

So yeah this batch is a 'California Common' or sometimes more commonly called a Steam Beer. Funny though, steam doesnt and never has had any thing to do with the brewing of this beer. It was concocted by some dudes in old San Fran who wanted lager but had no means of refrigeration, to hit the lower temps needed for fermentation of lager yeast. So they magically figured out a way to get lager yeast to ferment at more ale like temps and viola, Steam Beer (no steam).


Crotchville setup is very similar to the Squamy setup.
If it aint broke...

**UPDATE**: The first batch of Crotchville Beer has been bottled. Feels like it has been ages since I had homebrew bottled almost ready to drink hanging out in my basement. If I felt like it I could look back through the manarea archives and tell you exactly how long but I don't feel like it right now (bonus points for whoever does feel like it).

I may have taken an extended hiatus but I am back with a vengeance. I think this batch is going to get great reviews and will probably be up there with my best. I have been so busy lately that this batch has had plenty of time to figure itself out. And once again I have to sing the praises of my high capacity siphon. Saves me so much time. That and my new kitchen's island adds some much needed gravitational assistance.

Look Ma, No Hands!

Racked to my bottling bucket in around 4 minutes and the entire bottling process including clean up only took me 1hr and 19mins. Down from an average of about 2hrs in the past. Data Nerd? Perhaps. But that's EFFICIENT data nerd to you.