Monday, August 30, 2010


Finally made it back to Millstone for a proper tour since racing there in '09.  A few of us dudes tagged along on a trip to VT so the ladies could throw Tara a baby shower, they showered the baby with gifts while we shredded win/win.

Shaun and I arrived at the Millstone Hill touring center around 9am but the center didn't open until 930am (Millstone can't handle our early morning intensity) but it worked out because Mike was meeting us there later in the morning so we did a quick warm up lap on the first part of the race course that I could remember from memory because for some reason at the time when I loaded the course into my Garmin it thought we were 5,000+ miles away from the recorded data points.  Gonna have to test that a bit before AT season, if that broke last season it would have ruined at least one ski venture.

Luckily when we got back and bought our day passes we also received a huge detailed (almost too detailed) map of the trail system.  This led to a lot of this:

and this:

But after an accidental back track and me finding as many big climbs at the beginning of the ride as possible, to kill Mike of course, we got into a pretty nice groove.  Millstone is HUGE and its a bit daunting trying to come up with a ride plan because really you just want to ride everything but its not all that possible in one day so we had to try and pick and choose.  We headed south to try and snag a sweet overlook on the way to some sweet directional singletrack called Fellowship Ring.

There were plenty of places to stop and get really cool views of the old quarries and surrounding area.  That sheer cliff above I believe was called the Rock of the Ages lookout.  And the pic above that is the view from that cliff.  Very cool stuff.  I was pleased to see that most of the rest of Millstone is very similar to the race course.  Its a great mix of terrain that is very well maintained (except for that one trail with all the pricker bush overgrowth, good god I look like I was attacked by a really small cougar or something).  A good amount of technical aspects throughout but not enough to wear me out on a rigid in 16 miles so its manageable.  After hitting most of the stuff down by Rock of Ages we made our way back towards the Touring Center to check out the Grand Lookout and Roller Coaster.

You can see Canada from the Grand Lookout and Shaun and Mike just couldn't resist getting close.

The huge piles of granite in this area are really impressive.  Hundreds of feet high, just piled up.  After they hugged it out we back tracked a bit to hop on Roller Coaster which is the trail you will see if you search Millstone Trails VT on Youtube.  Starts off with some man made bridges over some granite piles and then after that its basically a freeride course down to the bottom of the hill with lots of man made features to jib off.  We didn't really have the bikes to do much here but it was still incredibly fun.  We looped back around to the Touring Center, Mike passed out in the parking lot and Shaun and I rode back in for just a few more miles of singletrack before heading out.

All told we got about 16 miles, all of it great.  I will more than certainly be back.  With a tent, that map and a whole lot of murder juice.

Droid Does

THEEEEN after the ride we drove back up to Burlington and hit North beach on Champlain (which I highly recommend, very cool locale) and then did this:

*all pictures courtesy of

and some finger painting and twister and karaoke but I digress.  Millstone is great, get in there...A LOT.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This blog is the same every year

and late summer / early fall is when I usually do a short recap on my season and drop some hints as to what I'll be suffering at next year.  Sooooo here we go.

Tri experiment = success.  The swim was obviously iffy but I think I prepared myself well and my overall fitness has definitely benefited.  I plan on continuing to use the pool here at PSU and also continuing to run from time to time as well.  I think in a round about way they help parts of my cycling and I am willing to bet I will also feel some benefits come this winter.

I think all the tri stuff I was doing hurt my high end cycling fitness a bit and I think I have been stronger on the EFTA circuit in years past but that wasn't my goal for this year so I am not too worried about that.  Surprisingly I actually feel pretty strong coming off the 100 and I think if I can keep this going a bit I can try and put up a strong time at the Pinnacle Challenge in early Oct.

I think the Challenge will probably be my last race for 2010.  There is another tri at the end of Sept that I was thinking about but the pool is closed again until Sept 3rd and I feel like I have some really good mtb fitness right now and I think I would prefer to try and build on that instead of changing gears yet again this summer.  We still need to find a female runner for this year.  I have some feelers out and hopefully something will come together soon so we can get registered to defend our title.

Other than that the rest of this year will be hopefully lots of riding for fun (already have some big rides planned that should be very sweet), some work around the house and then gearing up for what will hopefully be a huge winter with lots of AT and other awesome.

THEN starting early next year I will begin training for the next step in my efforts to see what I'm capable of...Adventure racing.

It's been on the radar for quite some time but AR is typically a team event and it has taken me a few years of setting a solid example of suffering and blogging about it to drum up some intensity in the Zoo Fam.  But it looks like next summer I will be taking on the Untamed New England race with D-Bone and JPMV.

3 days in the North Country tackling all kinds of obstacles: trekking, bikes, swims, ropes, paddling, etc.  Non stop, no sleep, lots of trench foot, maybe some hallucinations.  It's all in good fun.  Should be hilarious and don't you worry all the training hijinx and awesome new gear will get posted here.  No idea how exactly I'm going to train for this, I'm sure Dustin has some ideas...

I will also hopefully continue with the NEMBA Racing program next year and do some EFTA races per usual but they will take on more of a training/fun role similar to this year.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 New Hampshire 100. Less Hot, More Wet.

Ok lets get this thing written up already...GEESH!

I talked not only myself into doing this race again this year I talked Dustin into doing it as well.  Although that isn't entirely the best term because talking Dustin into something as ridiculous as a 100K mountain bike race is actually really straight forward and does not require any kind of convincing whatsoever.

We camped out at Oak Park in Greenfield the night before, took a dip in Otter Lake, ate some pasta, etc.  We saw a guy throw a frisbee at a girls face while she wasn't looking, she started crying and then he sat in the lake in shame for quite awhile by himself (for reference these people were probably our age, increasing the funny).  Then we chatted with the mechanic EFTA had on hand who had a digital scale with him and I thought it would be neat to actually know how heavy my monster cross really is.  32.34lbs.  It's like I'm hauling a nice heavy freeride bike around with plush, cushy suspension...without the suspension!  So in short we got some excellent pre race prep in Saturday.

Home Sweet Home

Lots more racers camping out this year than last if I remember right.  Which is good to see.  I am hoping this race continues to garner more interest.  I have never done the VT50 but from the race reports I have read I think the NH100 course is a better mix of terrain and just as challenging if not more.  For some reason the 50 sells out in 5 minutes months before the race, I'm hoping the 100 will be there someday just to reward all the people who go through the trouble to put this all together.  70+ individual private landowners needed to be convinced to let us pass through their land on race day!  No small feat and again this race is very well supported, marked, etc.  A huge thanks to all the volunteers who worked the aid stations in the rain for hours on end.

Ok to you may remember from my post on this race last year the brain sort of ceases to function entirely over this distance and level of effort so recapping is kind of a crap shoot but I will do my best:

Things got going fairly well.  I let most of the Experts ride away and just settled into my own thang.  Sketchy railroad bridge at about mile 5 or so was much less sketchy this year which was nice but the sand pit at mile 15 or so seemed much deeper which was not nice.  I was able to climb more of Hedgehog and the Powerlines this year than last with a fully geared bike but remember how I said the one thing the monster cross doesn't handle that awesome is really steep technical climbing?  Guess what the 100 has a lot of?  Yeah.  And throw in the monster is a good 10lbs heavier than my 9 speed was and I was still walking some stuff.  Similar to last year I was on about a 6 hour pace through the first 30 miles or so of the easier part of the course.

But this year I came to the realization that it isn't actually the climbing that killed me on the back half of this course, especially this year with my full complement of gears.  It was the descending that was my undoing.  Namely the fact that usually when you think descending you think "rest".  Not so much.  I had forgotten how every descent for the back half of the course was typically fairly steep and fairly riddled with boulders and washout and all kinds of other things that don't let you rest, at all.

I have also come to the realization that I do not ride a geared bike well anymore.  I was extremely inefficient and lazy with my gearing choices at times and 'hitting my shifts' with old school friction shifters at mile 45+ wasn't really happening.  Very typically instead of gearing down for a flat or descent I would just spin it out waiting for the inevitable climb that was sure to be coming, not the best strategy for speed but I was having issues convincing myself to put out those extra few watts.

My shifting wasn't the only thing to go south at mile 45(ish).  I had my Garmin in my jersey pocket because I can't mount it to the stem of the monster with it being high rise the angle is too steep.  I must have bumped it either when jamming an endurolyte wrapper in there or when checking mileage or something.  So according to my data I imploded at mile 46.93.

Lots of great single track in the second half of the course, I recognized some of it from last year but I think some was new including a few miles at the very end of the course that was awesome.  I wish I had been in a better frame of mind to enjoy it a bit more but by then I was just soaking wet and ready to be done.  I finished in just under 8 hrs which was a goal of mine so I am pretty happy with this years race.  Last year I assumed the heat added about an hour to my time and this confirms that give or take.  Factor in a fully rigid bike that weighs almost 33lbs and I think that's a pretty decent ride.  Dustin came in just under 2mins behind me, another strong ride, not really sure how 62mi would go for me on a SS but I'm not sure I could pull 8hrs...

Amanda and her parents came out to cheer us on at the final feed station, the last road crossing and the finish and I hear she got some sweet pics of trey that I will post up once they get digitized to the interwebs.

 Gimme those nuts!

That's enough nuts

Gravestones = dropped. They didn't stand a chance when I opened it up

Ah the glamor of finishing 3hrs after the winners...

I have been putting a lot of thought in to how I end my season going forward from here.  Another tri has been on the radar as well as a few other big rides and the Pinnacle Challenge.  Getting hard to balance the fitness and get it all in, I think something is going to have to be tabled for another time I just have to figure out what.  More at 11.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Continuing the Joke

I have built some weird bikes in the past and experimented a bit with 'strange' setups all in the vein of exploration.  One of my most interesting and successful to date has been my monster cross bike.  I have created a few other versions of this type of bike in the past but I think this is by far my best effort to date.

I have finally ridden this bike on some substantial rides both mixed terrain and singletrack and I have found the transition back to 26in wheels a bit harsh, especially with a rigid fork thrown into the mix as well.  I figured I would buy some new rubber for this bike before the NH100 in a few weeks seeing as I am currently running my old semi-slick commuter tires and I would go with something a bit more high volume to soften things out a bit.

I found a deal recently on on some WTB Prowler XT 2.3's that fit the bill and tonight I was in the process of mounting them up when something slowly dawned on me.  The cheapo chromoly fork I have had on this build has always had quite a bit of extra room available.

And now conveniently I have a spare 29er front wheel sitting around from my Kona that is sitting in pieces waiting to be sold.  So why not see if that bad boy will fit before I mount up the new tire on the 26in wheel?  Ok it fits with plenty of clearance but it must really mess up the geometry and create all kinds of toe overlap and other weirdness right?  Not quite.  No toe overlap at all, bike still feels pretty normal short of the front end feeling a tad high everything else feels pretty ok.  Riding it around the yard at least.  I'll know for sure this Thursday when I take this out on our NEMBA ride and ride it AS A 96ER.

Almost looks normal

Kinda strange how ok it felt really.  This pic makes it look almost unnoticeable mostly because there was so much extra room in that fork that now it just looks like you would think it should.  I am very interested to see how this rides on singletrack Thurs.  The 29er up front could help quite a bit with softening out some chatter, which would be much appreciated at the 100.

And yes I did try to jam a 29er into the rear triangle as well and the clearance just wasn't there.  Would have been funny to have converted this to a full 29er on a whim.  But riding a 96er for the first time is intriguing, I'll update here after the first ride with a report...


Rode this last night in the new config and I continue to be dumbfounded with how well this worked out.  It rode just fine, better than fine in fact.  The bigger hoop up front definitely softens out the ride quite a bit.  And there really is basically no 'weirdness' to the feel of the bike.  The only thing I really noticed is that on steeper technical climbs I need to make a conscious effort to stay low over the front of the bike because the larger wheel does bring the front end up a bit and if I'm not paying attention and it hits a bump or rock or root the front end will very easily pop off the ground.

I still need to get acquainted a bit more with this ride to really be at home on it but this 96er set up is def fun to ride and can literally do anything and go anywhere, any distance.  Singletrack, Fireroads, throw some racks on it and get lost for a few days...whatevah.  My lower back was a bit angry with me and this bike last night but I guess I can't blame it.  This is probably the 4th different riding position I have asked it to deal with this season.  I am hoping I can work that out in the coming week or so before the 100.

I haven't fully scoured the interwebs yet but it occurred to me I don't believe I have ever stumbled on another "monster cross" 96er.  I'm sure I'm not the first but just in case I am coining this build the Franken Mullet. Franken as a nod to the fact I built it in my evil lab and brought it to life with lightning and Mullet due to the whole business in the front party in the rear aspect.