Monday, May 24, 2010

The Weeping Willow EFTA NECS '10 #2

Ugh.  Where to start?  I have been trying to purge this disappointment from my memory and have been basically successful, sort of.  I've been trying to put as many positive spins on this as I can but its hard to not boil it down to a missed opportunity, but I'll give it a go.

Unfortunately I'm not quite in the groove of race blogging yet and completely forgot to take any pictures, oops (but I did steal some from Shaun!).  Ok now to the positives.

1. Turn out.  HOLY CRAP.  I think I can safely say this was the biggest EFTA race I have ever been to.  Parking lot was packed, people everywhere, fields stacked.  The start was pandemonium, never experienced anything like it.  31 singlespeeders toe'd the line yesterday!!! 31!? Playoffs?!

2.  The trails.  Mike was right.  They are awesome and I only saw about 4.22 miles of them.  Single speed paradise, very high speed, flow, whoops, etc. I was having a blast right up until my pedal fell off.

3.  Enthusiasm for juniors.  Very rarely do I get to see Novice and Sport riders finish usually do to still being out on course and all.  But it was great to see every time a Junior rider come into the finish everyone cheering and ringing the cowbells extra loudly.  Everyone typically gets a cheer to a certain extent but juniors get everyone's undivided attention as they come in.  It must have been great for them to come in with that many people (hundreds) all cheering.

4.  I rode really well (for 4.22 miles). I got a decent start and was positioned far enough up so that I wasn't getting stuck behind slower riders but far enough back so that I wasn't redlining really bad trying to follow the fastest guys.  Speeds were really high and there were some high speed washout crashes in front of me early on but nothing that held me up.  I felt strong through the first two bigger climbs, even with the new 19 tooth in back.

A guy I have raced against for several years now, who used to beat me by 30mins and more recently by 5-10mins even mentioned after the race that he was having issues holding my wheel heading up those climbs.  Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better after my DNF but I will choose to think he wasn't for my own sake.  I bobbed a bit coming into a corner too hot and got passed by 2-3 riders but I caught back up quickly and was then in the back of a 4 rider singlespeed paceline, which was actually perfect because we popped out onto a fireroad and I was able to draft and do basically no work and rest a bit.

I was feeling great and loving the trails and just waiting for a chance to gas it, pass my paceline mates, etc, etc. and then my pedal fell off.  At first it just sounded like a click and I thought I had just rotated my heel a bit too much so I attempted to just click back in but I was having a really hard time finding my pedal this time, i.e. I wasn't even hitting it which I thought was weird so I look down and hmmm thats why I can't click in...its not there.  I stop and look back the trail a bit trying to spot it, no dice.  Look down and sure enough, still attached to my shoe.  Pulled over and tried for about 5 minutes to reattach it, with no luck the threads were mangled just enough on its way out to prevent it from being threaded back in easily. (I was able to get it back in at home in the shed with a wrench and some elbow grease, we'll see how the next ride goes...)  So I accepted my fate and started the long walk back to the start, I was of course just about as far away as I could have possibly been.

I can speculate until the cows come home but I felt like I had a really good ride in me that day.  Looking at results today, two guys who I have beat in the past came in 10th and 11th and I don't know the guy in 9th but I think I was on his wheel when my pedal came off.  I was halfway through lap 1 at 23mins so I was looking at maybe a lap 1 time of 50mins give or take and I usually am just as strong in the second half of a race so I should have been right around 2hrs for a finishing time which more than likely would have put me top 10 out of 31 starters.  But who knows like Gina says maybe if my pedal hadn't fallen off I would have exploded in grand fashion at mile 14 or something and hurt myself and DNF'd anyway.  Hard tellin'.

So what I chose to take from this is that the fitness is there, I just don't have any written proof of such yet.  Onward.

 Team tactics meeting. 
Me: "I'm gonna have my pedal fall off right when I'm doing awesome." 
Shaun: "Good plan, I'm gonna get passed and then dropped by a mom." 
Me: "Let's DO THIS."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Somebody get me a Monster..."

Famous words, only to be spoken north of the border.

In usual context that quote is referring to an energy drink but in this case it is referring to a bike.  A 'monster cross bike'.  This term has come about recently and usually refers to a bike running the bigger 29er mtb wheels but built up more like a cross bike with drops, etc.  Some manufacturers even offer some stock monster cross bikes, Salsa is one and I think there are a few others as well but they escape me at the moment.

Mine isn't a 29er unfortunately but its still pretty sweet.  This has been a long time coming and I have mentioned this project a few times and the bike itself has made it into a few tweets in various stages of completion.  A lot of the parts on this bike have lived a long and varied life but I am particularly pumped with this version of things, I think this could be really fun to ride.


My favorite part about this bike is the fact that most parts on it would fall under the category: "no name".  Its just a big steel nameless behemoth that can go anywhere it wants for as long as you can stand.  Lets see, interesting tid bits...On One Midge bars for the 'dirt drops'.  I spent a lot of time researching the various options here and ended up with the Midge mostly because it was one of the few that took bar end shifters, which I find weird because just about every monster cross build I have seen has bar end shifters.  The disc brakes are the Avid BB5 Road.  Basically the same thing as a normal BB5 but a short pull version that is compatible with road brake levers.

wrapped the shifter cables under the bar tape to keep the front end a bit more tidy cable wise

I'm going to be riding this monster for the NH100 this year, should be interesting to see how it effects my time.  I bet I'll ride it quite a bit faster, this thing is fully geared which will be nice in certain spots on that course.  I can change up my hand positions a bit with the drops.  No suspension though...

In other news I went a bit more manly with my SS and shrunk my cog down to 19 teeth the other day.  Went  with a Surly.  Usually a good bet.

 Things were starting to get too easy and I can't let that happen...

Took it out for a spin this morning.  My feelings are mixed at this point.  Which is basically what I expected, try riding your favorite trail system except ride everything in one gear will kinda suck first time around.  Initially I felt much slower, my acceleration was non existent, didn't feel very 'peppy' on the bike.  I almost felt like I was lumbering a bit more, my cadence was much lower which typically doesn't suit me.  I have always been a spinner over a masher.  BUT come to look at the ride data afterward and I put up a similar average speed on a similar route at this time last year running 32-20.

So overall the speed is still there it just feels completely different.  I feel like I am strong enough for the 19 but I will have to make some modifications to my riding until my legs get the force they need to turn that gear at the cadence I am used to.  Just going to have to rely on momentum even more for a bit and try and smooth out my riding.  The roots were still a bit slick this morning so there was a lot of slow and start out of corners and getting the 19 going again was wearing on me a bit.  But I'm not discouraged, I will get there it'll just take some time.  Good idea to change things out 1 week before my first race?  Time will tell...

Its funny to think that when I started my foray into single speed riding the most I could muster on my converted 26in bike was a 32-22.  Which when you get into gear inches is more like a 32-24(ish) on a 29er.  What I am running now would roughly equate to a 32-17 on a 26in bike and when I had first converted my bike I had set it up in the 'recommended' 2-1 ratio of 32-16 and I remember test riding it in Plymouth and thinking to myself there is never any way I could ever ride this for any length of time, way too hard.  If things go to plan the 32-19 will be my new 'butter gear', ride anything, anywhere, anytime.  Never would have thought it possible a few years ago.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Almost time to buy a onesy

Here we are about 2 months out from this seasons experimental challenge, The Black Fly Tri

I am satisfied enough with my progression to date and I think I can make a pretty decent go of this whole triathlon thing, which of course means now its time to start thinking about buying more gear.  Specifically a hilarious one piece skinsuit.  Stay tuned, I don't think its possible for this to not be ridiculous.

Speaking of progression, my swimming and running has been coming along pretty well of late.  Particularly the swimming.  If you'll remember my swimming started off pretty sub par.  I was looking at being very far behind going into the bike and basically negating my strength in that discipline.  Over the last month or so hitting the pool twice a week I have cut my quarter mile time in half and I am now a solid mid pack swimmer.  Over the last two weeks the improvements have gotten smaller but they are still consistent and I am hoping I can maybe cut another minute or so off my time by July.

My running progression hasn't been quite as dramatic but I definitely feel stronger on the road now than I did when I started running again last November.  I am now running sub 7 min miles for roughly a 5K on a pretty hilly course during my lunch break run.  Not amazing, but solid and I believe the course at the Black Fly is more on the flat side.  I'm hoping to slowly improve and get stronger but I think my run is just about where it needs to be to keep my placing coming off the bike.  Hopefully I could maybe get my miles down into the low 6min range before July.

I haven't been doing any tri specific bike training.  I've done a few road rides so far this season and my mountain biking has slowly been ramping up.  Once MTB race season starts my cycling fitness should take care of itself, the brunt of that season is before the Black Fly in July.  I am also planning a few sessions on the road bike up in Waterville where I will do some fitness tests on the course.  Maybe even a brick or two. (thanks to Ice for the 'brick' vocab 411, I was calling them multi-sessions i.e. bike then run, but bricks sounds way cooler)

Maybe I'll even start working on my transitions...I'm sure I can put my bike shoes on faster than at least half the field.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NEMBA happenings

I don't have enough time nowadays to double post so I will just do the ole redirect.

Great trail day at FFD this past weekend.  Added what will probably be a marquee trail there by the end of this season.  Still needs some finish work but it is roughed in and technically rideable.

In other NEMBA news, I mentioned this in a tweet as well, but I have been selected for the new NEMBA grassroots racing team for this year.  I am excited about the opportunity.  It's always been a goal to get "spons'd" and even though this isn't really a traditional sponsorship type deal I can act like it is if I want, kinda like I did two years ago.  Still don't know many details yet, this is the inaugural year, but I think it will be fun.  First race will be The Weeping Willow at Willowdale State Forest down in MA in a few weeks.