Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring(?) Skiing

This season just won't quit!  I'll be honest I'm ready to be on dirt and roads spinning wheels but this week threw us right back in to the swing of things particularly up high and it could not be missed.  The Whites had seen all kinds of snow over the past week in little spurts here and there.

Driving north Saturday morning things looked prime for a nice Spring day, then I rounded that corner on 93 where the Notch first comes in to view...except it didn't come in to view.  It was completely socked in and as I got closer small little flakes started to fly.  Those flakes got bigger as I got closer and by the time I was at the base there was a nice dusting going on and you could see the deposits from earlier in the week as well.

We took a chance and went powder hunting off the reservation and we were rewarded with some of the best turns I have gotten in awhile and some of the best I have ever gotten this late in the season.  My proof was taken using the GoPro chest mount.  Not sure how I feel about that perspective.  I had to actually slow some of the footage down a tad so that you could see what was going on.  I simultaneously like and dislike the additional motion you can see.  It demonstrates how the terrain varies better but it also makes the footage really busy.  I love the mount though.  So much less hassle mounted to the chest and much easier to deal with.

A great day and a fitting last hurrah for the Icon's...

After riding I stopped in at Village Ski and Sport in Lincoln to have my new boots thermomolded.  If you have AT needs in Northern NH go see them, great no nonsense service and good prices.  The Factor's now fit like a glove on both feet and I can't wait to put them to task.  Maybe MTW next weekend?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Crotch-Belgian Classic

I have gone on a few of these rides now and I felt like they deserved a designation.  A Crotch-Belgian Classic is a ride in the greater Sanbornton area with decidedly Belgian characteristics or at the very least Northern France, i.e. any mix of cold temps, moisture, ice, mud, dirt, and frost heaves.

I have been dying to get on my new touring build (and on a bike in general) and today's forecast looked workable so I put all kinds of gear to the test with a nice little out and back with a little hill circuit in between.  Getting their inaugural uses were my new touring bike, my homemade bar-mitts and the new trunk rack.

I had to drive down to Black Brook Rd and park at Tony's house to avoid the epic mud bog that is our road currently.  Gave me the opportunity to test my new Saris 1051 Sentinel.  I am thinking about trying to commute more and if I want to be realistic about it I will probably need to cut out the massive hills I have to get over to get in and out of Crotchtown.  Soooo I am thinking about driving to New Hampton, parking in the park-and-ride and riding the 15mi from there.  Basically flat and straight, much more doable on a daily basis.  The fenders prevent the use of a fork mount roof rack, hence trunk rack.  Plus now in the time that we might be going on a ride with 3-4 guys we can take less cars.  GREEN.

It works great for a 'budget' model.  Easy to set up and feels pretty solid so far.  Granted I drove 1mi down the road, but that road was a mud/rally fest so there is that.  It will be interesting to see how easily you can get 2 bikes on there and how well it supports all that extra weight.  Time will tell, but so far I am pleased.

Next piece of new gear was my (or more accurately OUR, Gina did all the sewing) homemade bar-mitts.  I did not design these with this bike or flared drop bars in mind so this was more of a maybe it will work/just want to see if they keep my hands warm type test.  They performed awesome with the latter, temps at ride time were probably in the low 30's and my hands were just fine.  They fit a bit awkward on the Midge bars but I was able to make it work and I will probably be able to use them commuting if needed without much issue.  They will definitely be perfect for the winter rides I get in here and there.

 material was wetsuit neoprene stolen from some ancient wetsuit tops that don't get any use really so, YOINK!

 You can see they sit at a slightly weird angle but they cover what they have to.  They were a bit tricky to get into but I managed.

Velcro runs along one edge for opening them up to install.  Hard to tell in these pics but they are also fleece lined.  We Rule.

And finally the new bike.  Love it.  Probably one of the better, more successful builds I have ever done.  Everything worked great right from the get go...usually there is always at least one little thing that is loose or needs adjusting.  I think I might need to tweak the reach a tiny bit but the jury is still out...I want to ride it a few more times before I decide.  I think the bar mitts may have been making me sit a bit weird to get my hands in there and that might have been contributing.  If anything I think I might need to ditch the high rise stem and stretch things out just a tiny bit more maybe 5mm-1cm or so.  Anybody have a 90 or 100mm stem with about 5 degrees of rise kicking around?  Other than that good to go; stable, comfy, climbs better than I was anticipating.

Most of the ride was a cruise but I gave it a go here and there and felt pretty good.  I was really pleased with how things went on some of the climbs.  My leg strength/power has definitely increased with some of the work I have been doing this winter.  I also actually had some power to put down at lactate threshold which in years past is one place I struggled.  Soon as the burn got real bad I would fizzle and today I was able to go just that little bit deeper/longer to get me over that hump where in the past I would have dumped gears and sat up.

Motivation is good as well.  After my first run at Perley Hill I turned left to swing around for another go.  Hadn't been part of the original plan but it felt appropriate and both times felt strong.  Was able to sit and churn much bigger gears than I feel like I've been able to muster in the past when climbing steeper stretches like Perley.

Good signs for a hopefully great season.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

When All Else Fails...Nordic

I was fairly certain this weekend held very little promise for winter recreation.  Conditions/weather have been all over the place lately.  Cannon probably locked up tight Friday in to Saturday, winter biking is out of the question unless it gets real cold again and the roads are still a bit messy/sandy/full of frost heaves to try a road ride.

Nordic skiing to the rescue.  Was putzing around this morning and the sun was peaking through a bit, temps were moderate so I figured what the hell, this is the exact reason I bought this gear.  Supplement everything else I do and snag some miles here and there.  So that is exactly what I did and I'm glad I made the call.

 Snow was soft and pretty slow on the flats but it was great for climbing.  I am starting to feel at home on my setup.  Balance was good, rhythm was better.  I wasn't flying but I was much more efficient.  I was contemplating using the headlamp-esque GoPro mount to get some really boring footage but I just couldn't bring myself to be that much of a tool.  Too bad though I did end up having to gap a small drainage, would have looked GNARLY.

Also got to witness a J2 race that was going on.  Pretty funny scene.  There were teams from all over: NH, Maine, Mass.  Lots of spandex and really ridiculous glasses/goggles.  I really don't get the eyewear that is prevalent in the nordic scene.  Some of those things are incredibly silly retarded (sorry Mom).  For some reason that era of cracked out eyewear from the late 80's early 90's when Greg Lemond had everyone wearing hilarious Oakley's never went away and they all still rock them.  I don't get the benefit of having these huge alien things on your face.  It has to be possible to design something that keeps the wind out and is lighter.  I wear my Briko cycling glasses which weigh next to nothing and have zero issues with wind. **rant over**

I like all the international flags.  I wonder how many Russians were at this race?

I was hoping to overhear some sketchy wax/drug deals going down but I think everyone was too busy visualizing for their upcoming classic sprint heats.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shine's VT bach'fest

This is going to be a really hard one to quantify in any real meaningful way.  I am very proud to say that we have gotten so good at being our own particular brand of awesome that we have transcended the 'recap'.

Friday we started pre-first bell with some Cat skiing at Sugarbush and a guided mountain tour with John Egan.  If you get enough people together its very reasonable and I highly recommend checking it out.  Its a really unique experience for the east coast.  Having an entire mountain to yourself is weird and awesome and following around a seasoned pro is also somewhat weird/surreal and at times aggravating/frustrating.  I tend to think of myself as a fairly decent snow rider, above average for sure but John made stuff look annoyingly easy and effortless.  Hes a great guide though, very personable and peppers the day with anecdotes and tips and tricks here and there that made things interesting.

We also lucked out with some sweet local connections to the resort and got some of their media team to follow us around to take pics and video the entire day.  There will be some great pics to post soon and I will also hopefully be making a longer edit of their footage and some from my GoPro.

photo courtesy of John Atkinson @Sugarbush Resort

photo courtesy of John Atkinson @Sugarbush Resort

Saturday was a mellow day at Sugarbush with ok weather but good for recovery.  We then stopped in Waterbury for dinner at the Resevoir en route to Jay and a stay at Grandpa Grunts.  I really like Waterbury, seems like a great town the times I have stopped/passed through.  Great scene and close to good skiing and mtb.  We've had Grunts on the radar for years and never gotten around to booking it.  I would link it but they don't do the whole internet thing.  It's not for everyone but it is definitely for us...Its hard to explain, I'll wait for some of the other guys pics to tell the story.  We had a great night of partying in the middle of nowhere Northern VT.  Who knew Montgomery Center, VT had such a happening scene?

Unfortunately Sunday morning brought lots of rain, enough that no one really felt like forcing the issue to ride Jay.  Even more unfortunate is that rain turned into snow at 1:30pm and continued to be snow for quite some time ending with a 24hr snow total record for Jay of 32in and 42in by Tuesday morning.  C'est Le Vive.  Would have been very tough to snorkel through powder that deep with 2 days of riding and partying in the legs anyway.  We could have done it, but we would all have certainly died on the drive home.  I'll leave it at that for words and follow up with more pics and video soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Magical Afterthought

This post is more of an afterthought at this point but I figured the whole point of getting the GoPro was so that I could get additional media up here.

We had a great day at Magic.  My first time there and we picked a great day to check it out.  We got seconds on a decently big storm from Friday.  Conditions were pretty variable but still plenty fun and the terrain at Magic is just that.  Very cool natural features all over and nice and steep throughout.  I would definitely hit this place very often if the drive there didn't suck so bad.  Not that far mileage wise but getting east/west in NE sucks the big one.  Especially in the conditions I would most likely be driving in to take advantage of a good day there.

Congrats to D-bone on a solid showing at the Ski The East Freeride Competition taking place that day.  First outing in that format and ended up top 35.  Probably just needed a bit more pole whacking for the win...

I ended up just having a bit of fun with the edit from the footage that day.  Picked a random old techno song and just got lucky with the length of some clips matching up with the song fairly well and went from there.  I only had the camera on in the afternoon and I missed the best moment of the whole day in the morning when Tobin crashed and ran directly into JPMV spearing him in the back with his board.  I was looking right at Jomo when it happened too, would have gotten the whole thing.  At least I can play it back in my head over and over, but bummed I can't share it with ya'll.