Friday, October 28, 2011

Recap Alert!

Right around this time of year, at least for the last few years I've found myself taking a look back at how the race season went and dropping bombs on weird plans for the coming year.  To date I've tagged sprint triathlons, almost slayed adventure racing only to be derailed by the Universe but the alternative opportunities that presented themselves in AR's absence have been pretty sweet so I'm not complaining.

NEMBA Racing has really come into its own this year and I am pretty motivated to stay heavily involved.  Racing mountain bikes has a whole new aspect to it that makes it even more appealing to focus on now.  I feel like I'm right on the cusp of being pretty fast and with the added motivation and support from a full blown team I think I might be able to make that jump.  I've made continued improvements in my confidence with some of my placings this year and I'm thinking about actually upgrading some of my tech and dropping some weight from the bike for next year to try and give myself some of the advantages everyone else enjoys.  Right now I'm thinking of a nice light carbon fork (I think I'm done with suspension for good) and finally going tubeless with some nice light hoops.

So next year I'll continue to attack the EFTA series looking for yet better results and maybe another top 3 in the overall.  I want a sub 7hr NH100 and I would like to get in a 12 or 24hr now that I can pretty much guarantee I could field a 4 man team without even having to try that hard.  I'm also thinking about making stabs at Singlespeed-a-palooza and I've heard chatter about SSUSA2012 being in VT...might be worth checking out.

I'm also interested in getting some big mile touring rides in next year.  I really liked the challenge and adventure aspect of really big point to point rides.  I'm thinking I'd like to try some sort of multi-day trek I just need to figure out something that makes sense.  I recently found out about these guys,, and I am intrigued by the format.  Only problem now is similar to mountain bike racing 5-6 years ago, I'm the only one I know looking into stuff like this with an appropriate bike ready to go.  I'd settle for a few more big road rides next year, its always fun getting in a few big passes/gaps.

Off season training will be similar to years past, nothing too weird to get ready for tri's or AR just a whole lot of strength training to get ready for skiing and continue to build for next year.  This winter is looking up, already flakes flying as well as whispers of some epic trips in the works.  I'm hoping to increase my number of AT days this year as well as get some ridiculous camera courage with D-Bone and make the stupidest edit ever (pro callout).

It also is appearing like I have to take this blog up a notch.  I have always sort of putzed along but on a recent check of my STATS it appears like I have gotten over 10% of my traffic over the last 5 years in the last month.  (HI EVERYONE!)  Not sure how I take things up a notch, more content? new content? should I buy a domain?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sandown MTB Challenge

More late season MTB racing!  I love it!  This one seemingly came out of nowhere, hadn't been on the radar at all heading into this weekend and while browsing EFTA for TVR results I noticed Maz has posted that he would be at the Sandown MTB Challenge with the EFTA tent...hmmm.

Initially I thought I was out of luck due to my plans to help Naro on his house this weekend but upon further review I realized that Sandown is just a few towns west of Kensington.  I gave Chris a call to see what time he wanted to get going Saturday.  He said he was looking forward to sleeping in a bit and Noon would be fine.  Race is from 9am-11am...SCORE.

Right around now is when I started making some silly assumptions.  For some reason I'm thinking smaller race, partnered with a little festival they probably want it family friendly so the course will probably be pretty mellow.  I then looked at a really inaccurate topo map and convinced myself the race would be flat and fast.  I threw the 18 tooth on figuring I would need it to keep from spinning out.  Wrong on all counts.

Course had some fast sections but it was also fairly technical in spots, nothing crazy but a few tricky spots requiring full attention.  Also a decent amount of punchy climbing as well as a longer gradual fire road climb that had me climbing very sluggishly with the 18.  I had some issues with the punchy stuff as well because my tires were not handling the grease very well and as soon as I would try and get up and get those 1-2 good power strokes to get momentum for the up and over those strokes would just spin out and I would be running.

I got off to an ok start sitting 3rd behind EFTA regulars Andy Gould and Jesse Taylor.  A few of the DG Cycles guys were yelling "Somebody tell that guy to shift!" at me heading up the first little rise.  Eventually Mark Tucker got by me (per usual) never to be seen again until he half lapped me heading back from the second lollipop loop as I was heading in a few laps later.  A short while later Doug Reid came by (another fast EFTA Sport rider, but could prob be Expert)  I was able to hold his wheel through the back half of the first lap until we came to one of those tricky little sections with a blind bridge hidden behind a tree/rock in a little steep section.  I had not pre-ridden and didn't know it was there.  I was probably riding too close and too fast...Doug called the bridge out as he slowed sharply to make the slight turn.  I came in pretty hot and the braking forces were too much and as soon as my already greased up tire touched the bridge it slid out and I rode off the side to crash fairly spectacularly.

Lost Doug's wheel and then hung out about 1-2mins behind him for the rest of the race in 5th.  Things stayed that way for the remainder of the day.  The 18 was wearing on me and I slowed a little each lap and finally cashed it in after completing 5 as I realized going out for 6 would get me nothing more than more mud.  Andy and Mark came through 1st & 2nd a few minutes later finishing their 6th and were both greater men than I heading out for 7.  My 5 laps was good for 5th.

why am I the only one without SOLO written next to my name???
(pic stolen from Mark

 scored some more pics from Mark & family of me lapping through.  Thanks guys!

The race was pretty well organized for the size of the event.  It's a good spot to facilitate a race.  With some more trail work and a bit more mileage I could see this being an EFTA race.  They would need to eliminate the short 'two-way' section of singletrack but that wouldn't be too hard with just a new small trail put in to turn that lollipop into a full blown loop.  The festival was cool; food vendors and local groups were there as well as a little bluegrass trio complete with banjo and fiddle.

I forgot to request dueling time.

 This area of NH is REALLY into scare crows.  Saw tons on the drive in. Quaint and HORRIFYING

We chatted with the promoter a bit after the race.  She puts on one other race and its coming up on, I believe, Dec 10th at Fort Rock called the Cold Crank Challenge.  That's right a winter MTB race at one of the most technical spots in New England.  I'm not sure if she has any info up online yet but I am intrigued and will be sharing as I learn more.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Treasure Valley Rally EFTA NECS #8

The 2011 race season is in the books.  I am simultaneously a little bummed and very pleased with how it ended and simultaneously happy and very sad that it is over.  I can very easily say this was the most fun I have had going through the season.  Our now well established NEMBA Racing team makes race day much more enjoyable.  It is funny now to think back to '06 when I decided to get back into racing, showing up week in and week out by myself, hardly knowing anyone finishing dead last in the SS class a good 30-45mins off the pack...such a sad story.

But now I know just about everyone who races a bike in New England and all that toil is finally starting to pay off.

I can't remember why I haven't done this race the past two years...maybe the usual proximity to the NH100? Last time I did it was '08.  I remember that race fondly because it was a milestone in my racing career.  I had come in third in the NECS the year prior due primarily to just showing up every race.  I was knocking on third again but in order to keep my spot I had to beat someone I had never beaten before.  Long story short, I was able to pull it off.  That was the first time I started to think I actually had a shot at being as fast as the guys blowing me out by 30mins.  Progress was being made, there was hope.

Fast forward 3 years and it is back to the TVR.  I like this course, it is really hard and quite brutal to ride but it combines it all.  You need legs, lungs, and spot on technical riding skills to do well.  I had felt really good coming into this week and I was looking forward to just letting it hang out to see what I could do.  I had almost even planned on not bringing tools/tube to save weight and go 'all in' from the start, luckily I changed my mind.  The start was a little rushed but I think there were something like 10-11 SSers.  I got a decent jump off the line and was sitting about 4th heading into the first section of the course.

I felt strong heading up the first few sections of climbing and heading into the first set of really technical sections I was hitting my lines and really liking my chances.  Then as fate would have it I was railing a turn and there must have been a perfectly shaped sharp rock hidden by some leaves right in the trough I was using as a slightly banked turn.  Usually I am soft enough on the bike to absorb shots like this one but because I was in the middle of a corner things were pretty locked out and there were a lot of forces in play.  All those forces went straight from rock to rim and I knew immediately I was toast.  I was able to ride it a bit longer but it started getting squirelly on me and I had to pull over just past a little rock wall.  There were some other casualties in this area as well.  I watched as all the SSer's and a line of Experts and then Sport riders ride by as I worked on changing my flat.  Shaun came up about halfway through the fix after having some chain issues.

We had a chat about the state of the economy and then got back on the trail.  Initially I was thinking the day had turned into 'just out for a ride'  but eventually I started feeling a little 'randy' and decided I was going to stick to my original plan of hanging it out.  I knew this course was gonna be hard for a lot of people to stick with for the full distance.  It wears on you and if there is one strength I have compared to other riders it is the ability to take a beating.  I was pretty sure if I stayed on the gas I would catch at least one of the guys who passed me so I set to it.

And its a good thing I can take a beating because I got one.  It was fun though.  One of those fun beatings.  I was catching SSer's before long and that just made it more fun.  I caught 2 during the end of the first lap and 2 more during the last lap.  I spotted them almost 10mins and still almost finished where I had been when I flatted.  Looking at results the two I caught on the last lap lapped through 5mins before I did.  Bummed about the flat due to the 'what could have been' aspect but I couldn't be more pleased with how things went.  Finished the race strong and the season strong.


Without that flat I think I would have been 4th by just a few minutes...but who knows.