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...