Friday, December 28, 2012

A day of season firsts

As predicted most of yesterday's storm's accumulation occurred later in the day and Cannon had some goods on offer this morning. First 'powder day' of the year!  Unfortunately its the Friday of holiday week so there was also TONS of people competing for said goods.

Shaun and I missed first chair by just a bit but were headed up mountain by 9.  We got some fun early turns on Taft and Upper Hard (which was riding much better than I expected).  We paused and thought about ducking into Middle Hard but I had visions of that nasty third pitch that is just steep enough to not really hold snow early season and is basically a boulder field. Save that one for later.

We then b-lined it to Zoomer to try and lap that a bit before things got played out over there.  They had dropped the rope on Rocket with all natural snow.  It looked like shit from the top but rode awesome.  The nice thing about the Front 5 is that they are almost entirely grass underneath so you can rip on very little without worrying too much.  We did three laps there before heading back to Peabody to try and find Bill and Irwin.

We caught them just as they were sitting down for coffee and we pretty quickly made plans for an exploratory jaunt to Mittersill.  We figured the tube had to be good and after that we would play it (slowly) by ear.

It was a good call, first Mittersill runs of the season!  The tube was indeed great, even that late in the day.  Based on the overheard conversations at the top (does anyone know the terrain over here? which way are we supposed to go? GOOGLE IT.) and the tracks leaving from the top of the chair, everyone was hitting Baron's.  We were very worried about that first section being wind scoured and rocky on almost every other option so we decided to stick conservative and go with the more packed down route on Baron's where the dangers would be more uncovered and easier to avoid.

We then skied 5ft down mountain and completely changed our plan and went way skiers left.

Sometimes you gotta take some risks, plus Bill was on old skis so we sent him down first.  The coverage was actually quite good and hardly anyone had ventured out this way.  We made a few turns here and there searching for the best options and we were able to find some untouched staches that were great.  We decided to pass on what looked to be a decent option to do some recon on a wooded line.  It was just about ready but looked really scary in a reach up and grab you kind of way.  One or two might have been able to get through it successfully but there wasn't enough snow for 4.  We passed on it and ended up getting untouched boot deep on that last little snow field heading over to the Tuckerbrook area.

Then we found out the Peabody had broke again so Shaun and I took Eagle Cliff to head over to the Tram to get at the summit again.  Everyone else had the same idea and the line was across the bridge...eventually though we got our first Tram ride of the season!  Got too more mediocre runs off the top before calling it a day.

Bring on the shred!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet at the Oasis

First snow riding post of the year! Guess its time to change that banner image?  I'm not sure I have any good candidates from last year...I'll have to do some searching.

This was my third day on Cannon but the other two didn't warrant any kind of mention really.  Typical early season stuff.  We finally got our first real significant 'event' for the '12-13 season and I had a pretty interesting time trying to take advantage of it today.  Its now looking like tomorrow will probably be the better day to really get the benefit from the accumulation, seems like this morning was a bit light (and really windy) and now as I write this its dumping more in the inch an hour range.  But I'll be there tomorrow as well so I don't regret making a stab for it.

I brought Gina to work and ended up just missing first chair by about 20-30mins and got the word early that first chair may have been last chair.  Everything was on wind hold except for Eagle Cliff.  SWEEEEEET. Eagle Cliff was better than nothing and they had left lower Gremlin ungroomed with all kinds of irregular whales and berms to mess around on so at the very least the one option we had was interesting.

I lapped that until about 10:45 or so until I started hearing rumors that they were running the Cannonball lift.  Which seemed very odd because at that time they weren't running any other lifts that would access Cannonball.  Apparently there were enough people who made it up while the Peabody was still running and had camped out up there instead of heading back down that they decided to run it even though no one from the base could get there.

A rumor was all I, and a few other hardy souls, needed though.  I only had a bit over a half day before I would need to grab Gina from work so it was either continue to lap Gremlin or start hiking up into a whiteout chasing stories of an upper elevation oasis.  I chose cardio.

I was with a mixed group at the time...Irwin and his wife with a few others I didn't know, some teenagers who tagged along, Joe and maybe 1-2 others.  Pretty early on though the conga line was moving much too slow for me.  Luckily some stopped to rest and regroup at the access road over to middle ravine which allowed me to take the lead.  Normally I wouldn't just ditch everyone but I was on a limited schedule and it was snowing so I dropped everyone real hard. NO FRIENDS.

You still couldn't see Cannonball with the blowing snow, I had to get pretty hilariously close before I knew it was running for sure.  The lifty was PUMPED I had hiked for it.  I guess I was the first one to show up having hiked.  He said there was only a handful of people up there and to hit Skylight first.  I did, and it was good.  As I was finishing my first run the rest of my initial group was just arriving and there were another group or two coming behind them.  I was able to get 2 more runs in before they opened the Peabody back up and the masses arrived.

I took one last run and ducked over to Taft on one of the lower traverses and that was nice in spots but it was just barely worth it.  I bet by tomorrow they might be able to drop the rope on it.  It felt real good to be out really getting after it a bit instead of just lapping groomers.  Hopefully these weather patterns are here to least until April anyway.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Burner (of sorts)

Always try and get in the Turkey Burner as a nice exclamation point on the season.  Unfortunately this year I snagged a sweet little chest cold two days out.  I've been moving through the various stages quickly and luckily this one didn't involve too much congestion in my head/nose.  Just a pretty sore throat on Turkey Day (which is the best btw, I recommend lots of wine to make it numb) that turned into some chest congestion and a cough for Friday.

I had decided Thurs morning that I was gonna go for it regardless.  The forecast looked great and we had a plan to avoid the crowds/traffic at FOMBA and hit Bear Brook with a much smaller group instead.  I was a little worried that I was in for a doozy, there isn't really a conversation pace with this group.  Ended up being Bully, Carl, Gould and Mike.  Pace ended up being pretty reasonable.  I would tail off a bit but I was never that far off the back.  Legs felt ok but the lungs were struggling and my throat was getting pretty thrashed with the coughing and cold air.

We got to check out some of the new trails around the hiker/biker lot though which was awesome.  I forget the exact names..Big Bear and new Little Bear? as well as New Rye Singletrack, all really awesome.  I'm still getting comfortable on the Y bike so I wasn't shredding as well as I would have liked.  To be honest I think I have reached the point where I prefer riding rigid now.  I truly feel disconnected from the trail on a full suspension bike and I have a hard time trusting the steering.  I don't like not fully experiencing the features I'm seeing and the way I come into corners doesn't really work with suspension and I feel like it messes with my braking as well.  I suppose I could re-figure suspension out but to be honest I think I'm getting to the point that it doesn't slow me down that much more than folks with forks and I like the efficiency heading uphill.  I might just ride ironman until my arms fall off at this point.

After swinging through the parking lot to ditch some layers, (it ended up getting pretty damn nice by midday) we went over and got Hemlock and some of the other stuff over on that side.  We eventually rolled up to the campground with plans on going around the pond, up Lynx and getting I-Trail, etc.  I decided to call it, we were at about 15mi at that point and that loop was looking to add about 7-8 miles or so.  My throat was shredded and my lungs were getting a bit more congested and I was running out of calories so I hopped on the road and hauled back to the car.

Lucky for me Carl is a stand up guy and loaned me a 20 spot seeing as I had made the decision to push the limit a bit and then gas up on the way home before I had realized that I had forgotten my wallet at home.  Without that 20 I would more than likely have run out of gas on 93 or more likely I would have taken 106 to avoid getting stuck on the highway and then just ridden the party bike home for the gas can and then ridden my road bike back to the stranded Fit.  I'm glad I didn't have to do that.  Thanks Carl.

Not sure if my riding season is done or not.  I suppose that all depends on what the weather does.  Next weekend is Thanxmas and then its just a matter of time until skiing will make more sense.  Although I do only need about 60mi for 2000 on the year...that would be a tough one to just miss out on.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Strava BMC Challenge Ride

I completed a Strava challenge! Although this one wasn't in the same league as all of the other challenges they've ever had.  Most of the others require some super human abilities and not having a full time job.  Strangely though lots of people seem to complete them despite that so maybe I just suck.

They worked up a somewhat weird challenge of riding 79mi in a 24hr period on a particular weekend to commemorate Phillipe Gilbert taking the 79th running of the World Championships on his BMC.  When they posted it I thought I might actually have a chance at this one weather permitting.  We've had some decent weather of late so I figured I would pencil it in and if things looked good as we got closer I would go for it.

I also tried to talk a few other people into coming along for the ride but 80mi in 40 degree weather isn't an easy sell.  A ME/NH border high five ride fell through, and I was unable to figure out a good route in the middle ground between here and Boston for Shaun and I to take a stab.  BUT as fate would have it Clint texted me the weekend prior looking for a road ride.  I was tied up then but I told him to stay tuned cause boy did I have a ride for him!

I gave him the details and surprisingly he was all for it.  So I mapped out the flattest route I could think of.

PRO TIP: When the temps drop its better to keep your rides on the flatter side.  This makes it easier to regulate your own temps.  Big climbs will overheat you and then immediately descending covered in sweat will take you to the deep freeze.  And lets be honest if the temps are dropping that means the season is ending and your legs are probably not what they were 4 months ago.

Clint has only been riding road for a year but hes one of those dudes with some serious natural fitness that works for just about anything and never seems to go away.  He also rides Rt. 118 from Canaan to Plymouth once a week or so and that ride will do nothing but make you strong.  He was churning big gears early and I was working pretty hard to hang on the rolly stuff.  When am I going to learn that I can't do flat/rolly rides?  My legs came around after about 20 and we got to business cruising right along to our stop at 50mi to top off fluids and get some calories.

Took me a bit to warm back up after that but then at about mile 60 we popped back out on Rt. 104 and those big rollers RUINED me.  Very weird sensations.  Wasn't cramping, wasn't bonking, my legs just hurt.  Kinda like someone spent the day just unloading charlie horses on my quads.  Never really felt anything like it.  Needless to say I couldn't get them to do much but I was able to settle in and just suffer a bit.  Even more strange after about 10mi of that they came back around a bit.  Not completely but they felt more 'normal' for being that far into a ride.

We finished up Winona Rd. and Rt. 3 pretty efficiently for a ride time under 5hrs.  Not bad.  We had a short discussion about just rolling up to Campton and back for the full hundo...I think we both could have done it without much issue but it was risky with daylight and making calls in those scenarios seems to always tilt the scale towards bad luck.  Make a plan, execute it well...don't push the limit late in the game.

Its nice having Clint back in the area.  He's got a good attitude when it comes to slaying things.  Next up...Turkey Burner on the party bike!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spot Brand Rocker SS for 2013

Well I made another of my classic fast moving purchases today.  I have a solid history of having gear presented to me by the Universe at surprising deals that always seems to work out pretty well for me.  I don't question it I just roll with it.

A few days ago I was made aware of some sale items over at  I noticed the Rocker SS frame at a pretty good markdown and got intrigued.  I've always been aware of Spot's stuff and part of that awareness was that they are usually well outta my price range...except now it wasn't really.  All of a sudden it seemed like the big question mark that was "What am I gonna be riding next year?" seemed pretty obvious.  Lots a things about this deal/opportunity were making sense to me.  George at bike29 is going through a bit of a transition period right now and this felt like a good opportunity to try and help out a local merchant who has been great for the industry locally...I mean he put on SSUSA2012, dudes legit.  Spot's are handbuilt 'braincrafted' in Golden, CO and are pretty renowned for quality stuff.  They are at the forefront of the SS belt drive movement (which I am not sold on yet, but I like the idea of being ready for it when I am).  I was unable to find any griping about major con's in any review I could find anywhere.

Bing. Bam. Boom. Don't overthink it, just take advantage of what is served up.  So the trigger has been pulled.  I'll be moving my parts over to a new Pearl White Rocker SS come 2013.

I still need to make a fork decision but I'm leaning towards going all in and building this up real svelte with a Niner carbon fork in the Vanna White colorway.  Should be able to get one through Eric at Chainline but I've got months to decide on that.

I love the dropout design on this frame that allows for the belt install.  Just makes the most sense to me and seems to be the strongest, most durable way to get that done.  Splits at the dropout itself and the sliding bolts hold the whole thing together.

Also liking what I'm reading about the ride feel of the 853 tubing Spot uses and it sounds like its pretty easy to build up pretty light for a steel frame.  This also allows me to keep the Redline in rotation a bit and use it for my SS Cross build idea.  I'm thinking cross tires on an old 29er wheelset with some dirt drops...DUN for almost no $$.  Here is some sweet marketing material for your viewing pleasure:

I'm feeling pretty good about this...can't wait to start messing with builds/projects if there is some downtime this winter.  Bikes!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Season Recap / Highlight Reel

The sun is setting on the 2012 race season and what a doozy it has been.  It was a year of milestones for me, I broke through a few barriers and reached some new heights but not without some trials and tribulations along the way.  Its been a long year for me, I haven't verified 100% but I believe this has been my busiest year to date.  I toe'd the line 11 times this year from April to Oct...not bad.

This year I was lucky enough to get into a free program put on at PSU where they partner Fac/Staff with a senior in the Athletic Training program for 8 weeks of structured training.  My trainer Rob got me on a pretty intense HIIT program that yielded a lot of fitness improvements as well as a lot of new knowledge for me on how to use my limited training time a bit better.  My time spent with Rob got me pretty excited for the season and I hit the ground running in April at the SS-a-palooza.

SS-a-palooza - 10th Sport NY & North

I got an early indication that my work over the winter had punched me through to riding at a new level.  I had some issues early on at this race with a few funny crashes but surged late as everyone else was fading hard and managed a top ten finish out of a very large sport field (87 riders).  In the lead up to this race I had been telling Shaun and Dustin that the top 10 riders in the Sport field would certainly be sandbagging...whoops.

Weeping Willow - 8th

Got a nasty little cold a few days before Willowdale that knocked me down pretty thoroughly.  I was bummed because this is always a big target for me and a course I love.  I was able to get clear of the worst of it by that Saturday and I decided to give it a go and see what happens.  Willowdale always has the largest SS field in the EFTA series and the competition is tough.  I have been battling for a top 10 finish the past 2-3 years.  It didn't come easy, I drained all the available energy I had on tap and even crashed late in the last lap and messed my finger up (its still messed up) but I still managed to crack the top 10, something I hadn't been able to do healthy up until then.

Glocester Grind - 5th

Oh the Grind. Such a mess every year. Course doesn't really suit me or my bike but its usually a decent enough time so I usually show up. This year was just as messy as years past.  My rear wheel fell off mid race (lolz) and I never really recovered from that and rolled in for 5th in a small field.

The Pinnacle - DNF

This one stung...A LOT.  The Pinnacle has always been one of my favorite courses and one of my biggest targets every year.  The course hurts like hell but suites me quite a bit.  I can leverage my power to weight advantages and despite running rigid I typically don't lose much time on the descents there.  Everything was going perfectly early on.  I felt really strong, the confidence was there and I was riding top 3 well into the race in a decent sized field. Then my rear wheel mysteriously taco'd and my day was done.  I have since deduced what probably happened but to be so close and then miss out on a result I have been battling for for years was tough.  I plowed through it and luckily that was the end of my gear woes for the rest of the season.

Moody Park - 6th

6th at this race doesn't look like much and is a pretty standard EFTA result for me but this field randomly got stacked with talent thanks to some coverage and another big SS race coming later in the year that brought some pros into town early.  Moody was finally dry this year and the course was rippin.  I raced pretty well and got nipped for 5th late in the last lap by a Cat 2 CX racer but I was able to best someone else who had gotten the better of me at Willowdale so indications were still good I was going better than I ever have.  It was also nice to see I was now 15mins behind professionals instead of just 15mins behind the rest of the entire field like I used to be.

Harding Hill - 3rd

Even though I pulled a podium here I am probably more proud of my 8th at Willowdale and 6th at Moody than this result but even though it was a smaller field it wasn't a freebie and it was nice to win some syrup for my troubles.  They ran this course in reverse this year which made things interesting.  I think I am equally indifferent to it in either direction but it does make it an entirely different race.

SSUSA - 200th?


NH100 - 5th

This may have been my biggest result of the year. This was my 4th go at this race and every year I have improved as I chipped away at breaking the 7hr mark.  If you look at the results year to year the 7hr mark somewhat stands out as a good delimiter...if you can break it you are pretty damn fit no if's and's or but's.  I came close last year but ultimately fell 16mins short.  Prep this year was good and I thought I had a solid shot this year.  My cleat fell off at mile 47 and I proceeded to learn some great lessons in determination, perseverance and suffering.  Long story short I made it with just over a minute to spare and scored a top 5 finish.  Hard telling what I could have done with two cleats for the whole race but this race probably does the best job at showing my progression over the past 4 years.  NH100 2009 raced on a 1x9 hardtail with suspension up front - 8h57m. NH100 2012 raced on a rigid SS - 6h58m.

Bradbury 12hr - 3rd

Teamed up with Shaun to check out the whole 12hr thing.  Its awesome.  At least at Bradbury it is.  Course was a blast and having such a big team presence was great.  It was fun to watch the results as the race progressed and watching gaps extend and shrink as we battled over such longer periods of time then I'm used to.  Watching our gaps to 3rd slowly come down over the second half of the race was awesome and catching them late in the game and seeing Shaun step up and regulate when everyone else was dying on the vine was fun to experience.  Team endurance racing is rewarding and a hell of a good time and I will be doing it as often as possible moving forward.

Gordon Barker No Brakes - 12th

That looks a lot like my 'worst' result of the year but I'm actually pretty pleased with it.  Gordon Barker is a smaller time charity race that doesn't really break out by age or ability other than a giant Sport field and a giant Expert field.  SS is not taken into consideration.  So that 12th is in a big Expert field of about 60 riders with most of those guys running gears.  I could have probably taken 11th if I had less consideration for childs lives but the finishing straight wasn't really straight and there were lots of families around and a full on sprint to the line didn't seem prudent.  Fun race, hoping it steps up to the big show in years to come...

Tinney's Hill Climb - 10th

Dbone talked me into a road race and then he beat me.  What a dick.  Good times though, hard effort but one of those where as soon as you finish you immediately think "damn I could have gone harder" even though during the whole event you just want to die.  Weird how that works.  This was a great way for me to wrap up my race season (unless there is a random winter MTB race like last year) and we even got a big road ride in after that was awesome.  Note to self: talk Dustin into early season road ride in the Whites so I can motor pace behind him and Schnellinger and then get picked up by Carl on the side of the road shaking with calorie debt.

So thats a wrap! Time to wind down a bit, eat lots of food over the holidays but gain absolutely no weight (lolz again).  Hopefully shred lots of powder snow and then ramp it all up again next year and hopefully punch through to even greater heights.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tinney's Tavern Hill Climb

I'm a road racer!

Although I doubt I'm allowed to say that officially with hairy legs.  I'm sure there is a by-law somewhere that prevents that.  It just so happened that a little local hill climb race coincided with our visit to Saratoga for Halloween so Dustin and I decided to try our hand at hurting real bad for 20mins with a bunch of other people.

I didn't have high expectations seeing as I didn't know the climb and going full gas from the gun isn't really my forte.  But I figured I should be mid pack or a bit better depending on the crowd and how I felt.  They run this race twice a year, once in the late Spring / early Summer and again in the Fall.  I think there was a higher turnout in the Spring but we probably had about 20 people on the start line.  Looked like a solid mix of serious individuals along with some weekend warrior types.

There is a short neutral roll out and then once you hit the bridge its game on until you make it up to the Tavern / lake about 4.5mi later.  The grade is pretty reasonable early on and things started off pretty civil.  We were probably rolling along at just better than conversation pace for probably the first 1K or so.  Then 2-3 guys decided it was time to quit screwing around and things got painful.

I tried to hop on the tail end of the move and was moderately successful.  I grabbed a wheel or two and was there or thereabouts to the sharp end of the race for maybe the next 1K or so.  Then I started getting this weird side stitch / cramp that I have never really gotten on the bike before.  I used to get them from time to time when I was running more training for my tri a few years ago but never on the bike.  No real idea why or where that came from but it ended up making things difficult for me.  I had a hard time getting a good lung full of air and getting out of the saddle and staying there was made difficult as well because it was hard to stretch out my right side.  That made it hard to stay on wheels as the pace was increased and they slowly started drifting away.

I was hanging tough with Dustin up until the headwall which required lots of out of the saddle work which wasn't really working for me so I did what I could and settled in.  Got passed late by a women whose kids were cheering for her at the top of the final big pitch.  That probably gave her a surge of motivation and she just spun away from me which in turn gave me a surge of demotivation and I let her go and putz'd into the finish for 10th at 22mins flat.

I'm sure I have a better ride than that in me but its a pretty punchy climb and I'm much more of a tempo guy. It was fun though and I would probably do it again.  Great way to measure your fitness early and late in the season, kinda wish they did something like that around here.  To top it off there was a great little mini buffet at the finish with pulled pork sliders, slaw, potato salad and fruit.  If you live in the Saratoga area and ride road bikes and you don't check this race out you are an idiot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bully Merrimack Invitational

I don't have a lot of time this morning to document this ride in a thorough fashion but it had to be mentioned due to the high levels of awesome.  Luckily cyclists and blogging go hand in hand and the Hill Junkie has me covered with a great recap.

Shawn stitched the various ride spots of Merrimack together in a nicely cohesive way and by the end of the day we had close to 40mi done.  Pace ended up being pretty spirited but manageable.  Early on I didn't feel all that hot and spent most of the morning tail gunning.  Then I ripped my tire open on a fast rocky powerline descent.  It wouldn't seal and I had to throw a tube in.  My bike was also making some kind of weird clicking noise (that I still need to figure out) and I was worried that my day had gone sideways and the stars were not in line for me.

Then we hit Millipede and everything was right in the world.  Someone had blown the leaves off of several singletrack trails in the middle of the ride and they were all awesome.  Pace elevated to somewhat ridiculous levels considering the length of the ride but its hard not to let it rip in a group like that in those conditions.

Shawn's better half met us halfway with food and fluids ready.  Supported team rides?  Can't beat it.  We then got over to Horse Hill to ride some of the great NEMBA built singletrack there.  Great stuff but a little climby for 30mi into a ride and we were all starting to feel it.  Many of us commented on how it felt like we were stuck at mile 33.  Luckily my legs were coming around and I wasn't tail gunning anymore (until we hit pavement).

We rolled back in averaging close to 10mph for the day to chili and wings ready and waiting.  I'm not even entirely sure the day could have been any better.  Except for having the hot tub running.  Nothing like sitting in a hot tub with a bunch of dudes after riding around with a bunch of dudes.  Maybe next year.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gordon Barker No Brakes Race

Playing bikes in October! In the rain! I'll be amazed if I don't get sick. But it was worth it. Turns out I really like riding bikes in greasy mud. I kinda knew that before but this definitely confirmed it.  There is a fine line between grease and just ridiculousness though. The rain held off during the race and temps weren't too bad. I like how the grease levels the playing field a bit. I can hang with many more Expert riders in conditions like these.

It ended up just being myself, Bully and Carl from the team. Weather kept a few folks away but the turn out was still pretty good. Quite a bit better than what I was expecting. I was hearing talk that the Expert field was 60-70 strong. After getting our miniature race plates (Bully and Carl didn't even need to trim them for aerodynamics) we rolled around a bit to get warm.  The start was fairly well organized as was the whole race, not bad for a smaller operation. Seems like Stratham is pretty recreation oriented and there were lots of volunteers/families there to help out.

It was a mass start and we were about 2nd or 3rd row.  I'm fairly certain they had some sort of minor celeb or like a beauty queen or something set off the air horn to send us off which was pretty funny.  Then I missed the start button on my Garmin and got right to spinning at 140rpm.  Some of the heavy hitters (Dylan McNicholas, Crossley, etc.) got the pace ramped up pretty fast and everyone else followed suit.  I was getting my doors blown off just trying to hang on hoping that we'd get into steeper terrain or at least singletrack.

Unfortunately there was probably 1.5-2mi of various flat/field riding to get done before that happened.  I was getting passed left and right but luckily as soon as you finish up with that stuff the trail turns up and I got right back to stealing spots back.  Guys were dumping gears and I was sprinting by.  That climb hurt pretty bad because I was already basically red lining just trying to survive.  Once we got to the top though we got into the greasy off-camber turny stuff and I really started to make up some ground.


Lots of guys were not following the rules of the race and using their brakes. Somebody should tell them that when you do that you usually fall over in conditions like these.  Find those ruts, control those slides and let it rip.  I was having a real good time.  Lots of really fun sections to the course and a good amount of some really tough steep climbing.  This would be a great venue for a summer series race, plenty of parking and facilities and a fun well balanced course.

I ended up having a quick mid race conversation with our Exposure Lights sponsor rep Steve J.  I had never actually met him before only exchanged emails and when I rode by he saw my kit and asked who I was.  We yo-yo'd a bit until I was just able to get away on the last climb to the fire tower.  It's nice to see reps like that getting involved and laying waste to singletrack with everyone else.  We are looking forward to working with him more next season.

I ended up getting into a sprint of sorts with two other riders coming into the finish but speeds were getting pretty hilarious and the finishing chute/area wasn't really equipped for 3 people to be coming in full bore.  There were lots of kids around so we all sort of neutralized things and rolled in, I was second in the group.  I hadn't really had any idea where I was in the field. I wasn't expecting to do all that well racing geared guys but I started hearing guys saying we were just outside of top 10.  I was fairly surprised.  They didn't really have results up (should hopefully be online tomorrow) but it looks like Bully and Carl got 6th/7th and I got somewhere around 15th (12th Official Results) coming in a few minutes after them.

The organizers had several hoses set up around the venue and everyone was able to immediately hose their bikes off, like it never happened!  Then I got a free visor (who wears these things anymore?), water bottle and an enormous free woopie-pie.  I'm glad I made the trip.  This is a cool event, I hope it gains some traction and eventually becomes a New England regular.

Friday, September 28, 2012

URT Singlespeed a Ride Review

The long journey that has been my Trek Y 11 singlespeed blast from the past has finally culminated.  Version 2 was finally completed Wed night thanks to some parts bin BB7s from Carl for the front wheel.  Just in time for our CNH Thurs ride.

For those keeping score version 1 was more of just clean the thing up, convert to singlespeed and see if it even works.  The singlespeed portion of the build has proven itself solid from the get go.  The DMR STS chain tensioner works great and is pretty smooth no issues there.  Version 1's main issue was the tired old suspension, front and back.  I knew if I was going to ride this thing long term I would need suspension that actually worked.

I put my desire for a full suspension singlespeed party bike out into the Universe and a few months later I got a text from Jomo informing me he was actually going to mail the fork I gave him back from CO.  I had told him to just sell it and then buy me beer when I come out to visit but all told this is probably better.  Then Phil at work had mentioned a while back about an old Stratos Helix rear shock he had laying around in a box in his shop doing nothing.  Although I guess technically what it was doing was hiding..waiting to fulfill its DESTINY.

Only issue at this point was the fork coming from CO was a 29er but I've randomly decided to turn 26er frames into 69er's before to pretty decent effect so I didn't let that phase me for a second.  There was a good chance the geometry was going to go straight to hell but it turns out the Stratos is a quarter inch longer than the original spec'd rear shock on this frame.  So the wagon wheel fork tilted things back a bit but then a slightly longer than spec'd rear shock tilted things right back.  Its still a bit hokey but it works.

The ride itself went pretty damn great.  It's going to take me a bit to learn how to appropriately ride suspension again.  I wasn't really using it to its full effect and was getting messed up a bit in corners because of the slight differences in steering behavior and not being used to rebound etc.  The geometry feels very odd to me but I think its actually probably fine.  I need to get someone like Ben on this thing who is used to riding a bit more slack to know for sure.  It rides flats and downs just fine...climbing is awkward as hell and feels like its 3 times harder than it should be but I guess that is to be expected.

I posted one of my faster times on Mighty Chicken last night so right from the get go I can see there will be some gains in the descending realm over my Redline.  Although I did almost kill myself going off the slight drop before the last big berm.  Turns out this thing is a little front heavy, go figure.  I'm comfortable in a high speed nollie though so no big whup.  I think once I learn the little ins and outs of actually riding a slack FS ride appropriately I will probably be partying pretty hard on this thing.

A viable full suspension 69er singlespeed? Who'd have thunk it??

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bradbury 12hr 2012

First 12hr race is in the books.  First time I've returned to this format since I did the 6hr at Pat's Peak years ago.  I didn't so much like the race at Pat's but Bradbury was large amounts of fun.  Shaun and I decided to try our hand at the 'Double Single' race (2 man SS team).

We arrived at Bradbury State Park early afternoon Friday and set up shop at what would later be known as 'Podium Camp'.  Carl did a bang up job of getting a great site reserved early and getting things dialed.  Having team support is key at a race like this.  All in all we would have 4 teams using the site on race day.  Myself and Shaun, Carl's 3 man team with Bully and Andrew, Steve and Andy and a 4 person Women's team from MA (sorry I don't remember all their names).  We got out for a pre-ride of the course on Friday afternoon and holy shred was it awesome.

Calling this thing a bike handler's course is almost an understatement, which suits me just fine.  I like handling bikes.  Tight, twisty, techy in spots, bridges, ample flow and a reasonable amount of climbing.  Very SS friendly.  I was jazzed and very much looking forward to riding it a BUNCH.  Then it rained.

I had seen a forecast or two calling for a very slight chance of showers Sat AM but most of them had then changed as we got closer to the weekend.  Even that morning as it was raining most people checking their smartphones informed us that it was indeed not raining according to all weather sources.  This would make things quite a bit more interesting.  All those cool bridges immediately turned into death traps and all the slight tech turned into full tech.  Not a problem though, I tend to handle things a bit better when it gets loosy-goosy than most others but it was going to be challenging to manage temps and stay comfortable with everything being damp and the sun not being out for most of the day.

Shaun and I decided I would head out first and try to keep us as close to the fast guys at the front as I could.  As we were staging to head out I had thought (for no specific reason) that they would break out the groups a bit more but instead they sent off the solos, and all two person teams at once.  And it just so happens that where I was standing was just about at the very back.  So much for that plan.  I was able to work my way past about 1/3 of the field just heading around the parade lap before actually entering the course but this course didn't offer too many passing opportunities.  Much of the course was tight/fast single track.  If you wanted to pass you either needed it offered up or you had to make some serious risky and sketchy maneuvers.

Being the first lap no one was really offering anything up but I was able to take a few opportunities to move up a bit when people bobbled.  It was a tad frustrating here and there but things were moving along pretty quickly.  Eventually I was stuck behind another SSer that was a tad slower than me in the tight stuff but equally matched in everything else so I never really was able to get around him (turns out this would be half of our nemesis for this race).

After tagging Shaun in I got into the routine of cooling down on the trainer and consuming protein and salt.  Trading war stories at camp and giving course beta to those who hadn't gone out yet.  I had a stop watch running with Shaun's lap time so I could time heading back to transition.  Similar to the NH100 things get a bit blurry here and there details wise.  First few laps were fairly uneventful.  Luckily I was able to keep things fairly upright with only a few hail marys.  Others weren't so lucky, the slick bridges were claiming lots of casualties as well as the roots/corners.

Pog made this sweet photo sequence of me and then I yoinked it off the Twitters

They started posting results/lap times around lap 3/4 and I was able to start getting a picture of where we were standing.  At about lap 4 Shaun and I were in 4th about 3-4mins our of third place.  We had both settled in and our lap times were leveling off and holding steady for the most part.  In the next lap or two we ended up loosing a bit more time on 3rd (biggest gap opened up to about 10+mins) and 5th had closed the gap and actually caught us and for a lap or so we were neck and neck and actually relegated to 5th for a time.  Mentally I was a bit bummed thinking that maybe we didn't quite have the mettle for this format and that most of the other teams were a bit more equipped.  Little did I know the joke was on them.

PRO TIP: If you tell Shaun to do a wheelie, he will do it.

Shaun was battling with his man on the team that passed us for 4th and keeping the gap close enough so that I was catching my half of their team earlier and earlier in the lap.  That team had made the choice to do double laps and I think that proved to be their undoing.  I caught my man on lap 9 about halfway home.  He sort of just tipped over on a section of trail and was sitting there looking a bit shell shocked.  I asked if he was alright and the response was "Yeah, I think so."  But I could tell what he meant to say was "I just bonked."  I was fairly certain we probably wouldn't have to worry about them anymore and after checking later in the race it turned out that lap ended up taking him 2hr10min and ended their day.

Right around that time I also noticed that our gap to 3rd had come down.  Not by much, but maybe a minute or so.  We were past the half way point and Shaun and I were both holding steady keeping our lap times just about equal or loosing a minute at most.  Two laps later and the gap was down a bit more.  Shaun had been loosing a bit of time to his man most of the day but he was beginning to even it out and my man was fading fast.  Each lap the gap would shrink a bit more and Shaun would hold my gains steady.  It looked like we had a chance.  Our times were still holding and they were obviously bleeding time.  Only question was did we have enough real estate to catch them?

Lap 11 answered that question.  I was still feeling pretty good, a bit sluggish but I felt like I was moving consistently and riding within myself.  About a mile out from the finish I got just the adrenaline boost I needed.  I was coming up on some lap traffic and as I pulled by he yelled out "Aw man I just got passed by some other singlespeeder a second ago!"  I knew that had to be my guy.  I got on the gas and sure enough he came into view.  I had put 7mins into him that lap and I pulled up to him with relative ease.  We had a shot at this!  I did some creeping behind him for the last quarter mile or so because I preferred he didn't know we were right there.

Coming through transition I pointed out to Shaun that this was the team we were battling for third.  I told him to "keep it close" because I was confident that I would be able to catch my guy as long as he had less than a 7min gap.  Turns out Shaun misheard me and he thought I said "ride a lap faster than your last lap and put 6mins into a guy whose been putting time into you all day".  Nail in the coffin achieved.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Shaun come into transition several minutes before I was expecting him with the other team nowhere in site.  I was fully expecting to have to really race my night lap chasing a guy for the podium and instead I got to start the lap with a nice cushion that I ended up extending by another 5-6mins when it was all said and done.


13 laps, I rode 7 and Shaun rode 6 with a finishing time of 11hr15min (rules are you can't start another lap after 7pm).  2nd place had 14 laps and 1st place came in with 15 laps.  Official Results.

our lap times are the bottom row of Double Single

I'm super pumped with how we did.  A new format for both of us and I don't think we could have done anything better than we did.  This was a big question mark race effort for Shaun having never done anything quite of this magnitude and he stepped up HARD.  His lap times only differed by a total of 5mins and his slowest lap was not his last lap.  Pretty solid performance.  My laps actually differed more with a span of about 7mins (not counting my night lap).

My Lap times:
56:48 (night lap)

Shaun's Lap times:

Our camp mates also had a hell of a day with Carl's 3 man team taking their division, Crossley and Gould killed the 2 man Expert's and the 4 person Women's team also won their division.  4 teams, 4 podiums.  Hence 'Podium Camp'.  Awesome day, awesome course, awesome teammates.  Real good bet you will find me here next year as well.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whiskey Rye Ale

Man its been a long time since I used the 'Home Brew' tag!  Basically since last Fall/Winter give or take when I made the Black IPA / IBA. It's been a busy summer with great weather and home brewing has fallen by the wayside as a result.  It is what it is, this endeavor was always more of my crappy weather fallback and something I did when I couldn't be doing other stuff or I was injured.  Can't be shredding snow or dirt? Might as well make some beer.

Plus how can I in good conscious host Squamtoberfest without some home brew on offer?  Doesn't seem right.  But fear not!  I'm cutting it a bit close but I finally got the home brew gears turning again.  Going with a simple yet (hopefully) interesting recipe.  Base is just a Rye Ale using 6lbs of Rye malt and some Liberty hops with a late addition of some Sterling hops as well.  But I'm adding a little Crotchville Brewing twist, which would of course be adding some Rye Whiskey and some medium toast Oak cubes to the mix as well.

Unfortunately our local liquor store actually only really had one option for Rye, which seemed kind of odd but I guess it is nowhere near as popular as scotch and bourbon.  But I think Beam will work just fine even though its on the cheaper side it is usually pretty smooth and I think it will actually work pretty well for this application.

The plan is to soak the oak cubes in the whiskey (probably going to go with 16oz) for a day or two.  Then I'll add the cubes and the whiskey to secondary fermentation and let that all hang out for a week or two.  Should be all bottled up and conditioned just barely in time for Squamtoberfest.  I'm hoping the end product is a nice smooth/spicy Rye with a bit of smoky awesomeness.  Very much looking forward to enjoying one in front of a huge bonfire wearing overalls.

We're in secondary fermentation now, whiskey soaked oak cubes floating.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

URT Full Suspension Single Speed cont.

It's time to get back to the roots of this blog.  Mike has called me out a few times for Manarea going the way of just being a bike racing blog.  It's true, I have strayed a bit from my shed project days and I haven't homebrewed once this entire year.  But as we barrel into Fall I'm gonna try and revive the Manarea a bit.  I've got a Whiskey Rye Ale on deck and Project bikes to work on!  And oh what a project this one has been/will be.

My full suspension single speed has been an ongoing project for awhile now.  Actually got my proof of concept almost a year ago.  I rode it at the Turkey Burner to great effect...turned lots of heads rolling around the parking lot.  I even raced the damn thing.  That race however showed definitively that if I wanted to continue riding it I was gonna have to show it some TLC.

But why stop with just some TLC when you can get completely franken-ridiculous with the thing?  THAT'S the Manarea way...creating cycling abominations since 2007.  And this project is getting downright evil genius.  You're going to have to listen to this on loop while you read the rest of this post:

This had been laying dormant for quite some time until one fateful day when Jomo texted me to tell me he was mailing my old Bomber fork back from CO.  I had let him have/use/borrow it sometime back after I had bought my Redline.  Initially I had no idea what I was going to do with it but but then it became so obvious.  Whats better than a full suspension single speed from the 90's?  That's correct! A 69er full suspension single speed from the 90's! What could go wrong?!

old shock

new shock!

It looks surprisingly normal/badass right?  It's still a big question mark at this point.  I had enough parts laying around to get it to this point but there is still some work to do.  The geometry got pretty screwy but the Thompson layback actually helped quite a bit and I feel normal-ish on the bike.  It is obviously going to climb like crap but I bet it will descend like butter and hopefully ride ok enough on the flats to be workable.  I think it would work a bit better with riser bars but I'm fresh out at the moment, I think my last pair of Hellbents got sold with my first Monocog.

Also needs a BB5/7 on the front.  I thought I had one but I forgot that they were the short pull road versions I used on the monster cross when I had the dirt drops and road brake levers on it.  And last and most importantly it really needs a new rear shock.  But I might have a line on one...(Help me Obi-phil Manseau you're my only hope)

If this all comes together and the ride quality is not complete crap this will probably be the most ridiculous thing I've pulled off to date.  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 20, 2012

NH100 2012

Official Results

Ah yes another year of trying to recap a race that has you just about clinically brain dead via lactic acid about halfway through.  These are always my favorite.  Trying to remember things in order is IMPOSSIBLE.  This year was pretty good for blog fodder.  No lack of adversity and somewhat hilarious incidents, lots of suspense and intrigue and a whole lot of chaffing.  So without further delay I give you a recap of events in no particular order:

I'll start on saturday with some race prep because some of my decisions on that day played a big role the next.  I had some time after doing some stuff around the house saturday to give a good once over to all my gear and make some last second tweaks to the ride.  I went over everything...grease, lube, topped of the Stan's, adjusted the brakes, put my little top tube mounted food carrier on there. GOOD TO GO.  I did not however check or tighten my cleats. *insert Price is Right Fail song* nevermind I'll actually do it, this is the 90's after all.

So after getting all that squared away I hit the road for Greenfield around 5pm or so to camp out down there to save myself some time in the morning.  The plan was to sleep in the Fit.  I had heard from a teammate (Dan Ward) that is was possible and that he had done it in his Fit to great effect.

I have to agree it worked fairly well

I got my race plate and swag (Red Logo on the pint glass this year) and cruised the scene a bit, putting out the 'vibe' and the what not.  Bumped into a few familiar faces and a whole lot of not familiar ones.  Most crowded I had ever seen the campground at this race and tons of RV's of folks who traveled pretty damn far to race.

this doesnt do it justice but there wasn't a good way to capture the whole thing with one pic

The setup and organization was crazy.  I was a little worried that the folks putting this on would struggle a bit with the added attention, etc. that comes with being a race in a pretty big national series.  They proved me wrong 110%.  Stuff was DIALED.  To a fairly ridiculous degree, I was very impressed. Congrats to all the players who made this happen, amazing job.

inflata-banner?! BIG TIME

OK enough of saturday...TO THE RACE!  Lots of hustle and bustle Sunday morning with 400+ racers getting ready for some serious suffering.  I was able to get some pics of the Men's 100mi Open start because they decided to start the 100K SSer's back in wave 5 with the Novices and Clydes again (Guys if by chance you are reading this, Please, Please, Please don't do that again.  We always start with the Experts in XC why not here?? I'd love to hear the reasoning behind the wave 5 choice...)

 Mens Open lineup (w/ Carl in the foreground)

Mens Start with none of the big boys up front...they must know something none of these guys do

Our wave went off maybe 5-10mins later.  They sent us a little bit farther around the track this year and our SS group (that was at least allowed to start on the front of the wave) was already catching the stragglers from the Sport wave before we even took the turn off the track.  The turn was lightly marked and lots of people took it upon themselves to turn well before the tape and I promptly lost track of just about our entire field.  Schweet!

There were Sports everywhere, I was basically just scanning the crowd looking for high cadence.  I found a few and got myself into a small group but I was sure based on attendance that it was not the 'front' group but probably the second and I was ok with that, not much I could do about it anyway at that point.  Things stayed pretty civil early.  The best part of the early miles was having a SSer from Georgia somewhat complaining about how flat the course was at about mile 6.  In a really thick Georgian accent he was yelling about how he was from the mountains of Georgia and that there had better be some climbing or else he wasn't going to do very well.  You could tell he was the type of guy who had fun on his bike no matter what and NEVER shuts up.  Kinda funny for a bit but unfortunately for him he spent the rest of the day disappearing and I don't think he had even finished when I left to go home.

The first climb up Crotched Mtn went just fine except for all the Sport riders I had to weave through.  Don't get me wrong they were all great, very civil and accommodating but in those scenarios you kind of have to take the windows when you get them and the climbing gets real punchy as a result and I was digging a bit deeper than I wanted to at that point.  They added some new singletrack for our decent down Crotched because the last two years someone has nearly killed themselves coming straight down the ski hill that they used to send us down.  I never thought it was that bad, sure there are water bars but its not like they are hidden...whatever, the singletrack was way fun except I was still working my way through the Sport field and I could not believe how bad some of these guys were in semi-technical terrain.  Huge hold up unfortunately.

Middle section of the race was pretty uneventful for the most part.  Hedgehog and the Powerlines hurt like hell but luckily the temps were great this year.  The first feed station that I stopped at (feed #3) was the most organized I have ever seen it.  The volunteers were amazing.  They had us write our racer numbers on the bag and they had them all organized in rows and when you rode up someone would see your number go get your bag tell you to just throw your shit on the ground and they would hand you the new stuff.  Straight up pit crew and it was awesome.  I was in and out of feed 3 in probably less than a minute.

Right after the powerlines I had a run in with idiocy that was nearly catastrophic.  There has always been a really steep/fast descent right after the powerlines with really nasty rocky washed out sections.  I know because I've ridden it 3 times prior and I know that the line is on the left.  Turns out I should say knew because for some reason I was FLYING down the right side of the trail.  I realize a bit too late I am barreling right at a completely blown out section of trail full of rocks and tree roots that are still connected to trees.  Lucky for me my idiocy had me going fast enough to do the only option I had which was to air the entire thing.  Somehow barely made it and I spent the next few minutes wondering how the hell that had all just happened and trying to remind myself I still had a lot of racing to do and its not gonna matter how fast I'm going if I break myself in a ditch.

Somewhere after feed three I caught up to Brad B.  I was pretty excited about this because I figured he would probably be towards the front of our field.  He mentioned he thought there were about 3-4 in front of us making us 5-6...not bad.  We spent most of the rest of the day together in one way, shape, or form.  We would ride together for a bit and then one or the other of us would get a gap in terrain that suited us better and then we'd slowly crawl back on and ride together for a bit.  This really started to hurt after a while because we both seemed to want that 'Top 5' as opposed to 6th.  I thought for sure I had put in enough of a dig to have gotten away a few times only to have him quietly roll up behind me.  I also thought he had ditched me for good a few times only for me to eventually see him up ahead.  Thats the nature of racing at that distance you go from feeling good to absolutely horrible back and forth most of the day...surge, die, surge, die.

It was horribly painful business as usual until somewhere between feeds 4 and 5(?) I think...about mile 47 or so.  I was running/walking up a craggy little climb and at the top I go to hop and and my left shoe is feeling really slippery.  Every time I go to clip in it just slips off the pedal and my foot goes flying.  I get really confused for a second (cause my brain is barely working) and then I realize whats happened.  I check both sides of the pedal...nothing, check my shoe...nothing.  Cleat = gone.  I look around for maybe 30 secs and then got really broken mentally.  I was well on pace for sub 7hr at that point and probably closer to 6h30m.  Brad came up shortly after that and got by and I was sure that battle was over and I would never see him again and I would just slowly be bleeding time for the rest of the day getting swept up by the rest of my class and missing out on my goals for the day.

I kept moving in my somewhat bumbling manner but after maybe 3-4 miles I realized that not only was no one catching me, not only just no SSers but no geared riders either, but I was actually still coming up on riders and passing them.  I got a giant mental surge of "F this! if there is anyone that can pull off something as ridiculous as this scenario its going to be me. Use your god damned brain, figure this out and get moving!"  Jake and Mike shred on flats all the time so I should be able to figure out shredding on worse than flats right?  I was actually able to figure out a semi efficient way of climbing by getting my toe spikes jammed in the pedal.  Wasn't ideal but it was working maybe 60% of the time.  Descending I was sliding my foot up and getting the heel lugs jammed up against the pedal and then leaning my foot way back and pushing forward and up.  Again, sketchy as hell but seemed to be working about 60% of the time.

Luckily I did a great job of managing fluids and food this year and never really had to worry about that stuff. I didn't feel awesome a few times during the race but that always went away and any feelings of cramps came and went as well.  And I never ended up really having to pee which is a good thing because my threat to pee myself in order to save time if I had to to make my 7hr goal probably wouldn't have happened.  Not sure I could make myself do that.

I was starting to get 'comfortable' with my left foot free style and I was most assuredly going way too fast on descents again.  One particularly awesome event happened as I was screaming down a dirt road descent.  I know the course fairly well now but some of the little details especially later in the course escape me sometimes.  Like how there was a hairpin right turn into singletrack at the bottom of this road.  As I see the signs I realize I don't really have time to scrub that much speed and I'm going to have to just rail it.  Usually that would be fine but its a right hand turn which means my left foot has to be the platform I rail against and its not connected to anything.  No other choice at this point but to lay it over, start carving and pray.  Unfortunately the ground was not smooth and the first rock/bump I hit dislodged my foot, I lost my platform to push against and I laid it down and flew into the woods going probably 20mph.

Amazingly all I picked up were some superficial scrapes on my arm and hip...clean run through the trees.  A few dudes got a great show and I hopped back on and got back to it.  Shortly after that I roll up on Brad B. fixing a flat.  I'm back in 5th!  He didn't need any tools or tubes so I kept at it.  At this point I got another mental surge.  I was back in top 5, Brad was probably going to take at least another few minutes fixing that flat so if I stay on it I might stay clear, I think there were only 6-8mi or so left at that point.  Checking the clock I also thought there was an off chance I could still get in under 7hrs as well.  It was full blown game on at this point.  I was ready to suffer to a hilarious extent, no cleat and all.

I blew right through the last feed head down and hammering.  The singletrack at the end was interesting one footed.  Had a few close calls but no issues.  I was even still catching a few people here and there so I liked my chances and the clock looked good for me getting in under 7.  I was running/cramping on the hills but staying on it, basically racing at full XC pace and hurting like mad.  I was catching a guy just popping out of the singletrack onto the road at the campground and I took a deep breath...I was in the clear, I had time to make 7hrs and it was an easy haul to the finish...if the arrows had been pointing left like they usually are.  But they weren't.  Now this is probably my fault for being on cruise control heading into the race.  Its my forth year I don't need to go to racers meetings right?

Turns out they needed to add a bit of distance to the 100K course in order to make sure the 100mi version was the full 100mi because they couldn't get that little bit within the reroute they were using.  Turns out the course this year was more like 64mi not 62 and I did not know this.  I had a moment of complete freak out, after thinking I had pulled off the impossible I suddenly realized I could be massively screwed.  I started pushing cross-eyed hard, there was no way I was getting robbed at this point.  Those last two miles are a complete blur.  No idea what was happening, just pain and that clock ticking away on my Garmin.

I finally popped out of the woods onto the road again at about 6h57m.  I still had a chance but it was going to be close and it was going to hurt like hell.  I started spinning my legs up to the clown pace of 120-130rpms, which got pretty funny basically one footed.  I could barely breath but I figured it was ok if I passed out as long as I was over the line.  Looking at the clock I was worried that the parade lap was going to take too long and that I would just miss it.  I was spinning madly coming up to the road crossing, I would love to be privy to what those folks must have been thinking looking at me freaking out like that.  I crossed the road and look up to realize this year we don't have to do a parade lap all we have to do is take a right and ride less than 1/4 of the track to the finish.  It was only 6h58m at that point and I only had about 100yds to go.  That moment right there felt pretty damn good.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forecast Schmorecast

Sometimes you just have to tell the weatherman to sod off (sorry British/Olympic fever).

We had had this trip to KT on the books for months but coming into the home stretch the forecast wasn't looking all that hot.  The trip unraveled a bit with some having to bail and others not willing to risk the weather.  I was a bit worried that we would indeed get washed out but I rolled the dice and went for it with Adam and Jake confirmed to ride out the storm with me.

Turns out the weatherfolks didn't have this one all that figured out at least for the Burke, VT area.  It did end up raining pretty hard Friday afternoon for about 10mins but other than that we were treated to a pretty decent weekend.  The rain stopped Friday by around 2 or so and we were able to get out riding by 3pm or so.  I actually really like riding in light rain or just after a rain.  It does a number on your gear but the added challenge of slick roots/rocks and corners makes riding real interesting and fun.

We ended up getting almost 13mi in before we called it that evening, ripping around the Darling Hill side getting loose in corners and having a blast.  I even took some video on Troll Stroll, a new one at KT and already one of my favorites.  I tried the helmet mount for the first time.  Don't really like it at all.  Makes my helmet bounce around quite a bit and the angle doesn't show much detail and really flattens trails out (even worse than usual) but it is easy to setup for quick shoots here and there.

I also tried to get some pics in order to make a photo sequence shot on Old Webbs.  But the shots I got didn't quite turn out how I wanted them to.  I underestimated the view I would get with the fisheye and I don't think the end result would have been worth the Photoshop work.  I'll probably try it again at some point though because its easy to attempt and maybe one of these times I'll get something I like.

Saturday was gorgeous.  Forecast was fairly wrong on that one.  We got a morning run on the Burke Mtn side and checked out Lower J-Bar.  Fun stuff but probably more fun on not my bike.  We snagged lunch back at the campsite and then did another afternoon ride over on the Darling Hill side getting some things we missed on Friday.  We decided to call it a bit early Saturday so we could head over and check out the Trout River brewery.  I highly recommend it, cool local operation; the beer is great and even the pizza is pretty good.

Mike showed up and we followed up beer and food with more beer and food back at the camp.  Good times were had.  Sunday we all decided that Lake Willoughby was the best way to spend our time so we shot up there to take a dip and admire those epic views.  We salvaged a pretty damn awesome trip from a less than promising forecast and it was pretty good prep for the NH100 to boot.  That's 3 straight weekends in VT with a serious amount of awesome.  Hashtag YOLO.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SSUSA2012 Stowe VT

I don't even know where to jump in on trying to recap this weekend.  What a spectacle.  This race travels around the country with promoters battling for hosting rights after each edition.  George from won the rights last year and hosted this years edition in and around Stowe, VT.  This scene isn't for everyone, the race is equal parts party as it is biking and this crowd knows how to take things up a notch.

We rolled into town earlier on Friday and set up shop at Dustin's old ski coach's house right in town.  Awesome spot and Jason is fairly hilarious and will probably feature in a winter trip or two for some shredding.  We hung out for most of the afternoon, had a few beers and then rode our bikes up to the Matterhorn for the pre race shindig and to pick up our number plates.  Two were either number 69 or 666.

The next day we rode through town to the start at the polo fields.  Lots of lacrosse families were thoroughly confused with the droves of bikers showing up, some of which wearing lingerie or wonder woman costumes (you can get a feel for the debauchery here).  Lots of guys get pretty ridiculous for this thing.  I preferred to stick with our normal race kit, mainly for comfort on a long ride and to get NEMBA's presence known.  But I was able to find some spoke beads on Amazon earlier in the week so we at least had a bit of style points on the bike.

We got going and got straight to climbing, something we ended up doing quite a bit during the day.  Not sure if my Strava data is accurate, 5,000ft in just under 30mi feels a bit tall but I think Shaun's GPS was reading 3500ft at the finish.  At just 3mi into the race at the top of the first climb we had our first rest station stocked  The owner of the Alchemist was fully stocked with Heady Topper cans and a keg of some slightly lighter beer.  You can only get Heady Topper in the Stowe area so you know we had to stop and hang out for a bit.  It was cool hanging out with riders from all of the country drinking beer in the middle of nowhere.

After some Heady we got back on the bikes and got busy shredding.  All the good things you hear about the Stowe town loops are all well deserved.  Tons of great singletrack and George and crew put together a great course.  We (and lots of other guys) got a bit confused at one point because we didn't realize there was an out and back portion to the course and we were returning to town on a trail we had ridden in the other direction earlier on the course.  Some of the trail marking arrows were facing the wrong direction and many of us thought we had missed a turn.  So we wasted some time and went back and forth a bit trying to find where we were supposed to go.  Eventually we all just said screw it we'll just go back to town and hit the bar.  Low and behold that is what we were supposed to do...go figure.

The mid-station was right in town stocked with beer, whiskey, tequila, candy, cheese puffs and lots of other non-nutritious foods.  Like I said this scene isn't for everyone but we were having a blast.  We hung out there for awhile, Dustin bit through some beer cans...general merriment was had.


Not sure how long we stayed there total but we figured we should get back to shredding and crossed mountain rd and started climbing the trails on the other side of town.  Awesome stuff in there.  We were shredding right along at a decent pace when all of a sudden we see a guy riding back at us telling us we were lost.  We thought for sure we were still on the course...too much tequila at the rest stop?

We ended up getting turned around for a bit with a small crew trying to figure out where things had gone sideways.  We bushwhacked a bit and eventually found a trail that eventually hooked back up with the course.  No idea how/where we went wrong, but chatting with folks at the finish it sounds like lots of other people ended up doing the exact same thing we did.  The back half of the course was awesome.  Some big switchback climbs and some more sweet singletrack all culminating with a descent down Kimmer's which I think arguably is one of the best trails in New England.  So much shred.  The finish area was just another big party in the woods stocked with, you guessed it, more beer.  They tracked results for the first 30-40 riders and then everyone pretty much stopped caring.  We were out there for a long time and came in toward the back of the pack but had a blast doing it.

The competition to host next year, in true New England style, was a maple syrup chugging contest.  Several states put their hats in the ring and battled it out pounding a full pint glass of syrup.  Minnesota came out on top...that dude pounded that syrup in like 2secs, it was impressive.  The crew from Philly was none too pleased but I have a feeling they will come out on top in the not so distant future.


It was a hell of a day...I would definitely consider traveling for this.  Great way to sample the country's gnar and have a few beers while you are at it.  Minnesota in '13?  We'll see.  I'll cross post some pictures and videos as they are posted in the next few days.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Horror at Harding Hill EFTA NECS 2012 #6

I'd be ok with every race giving out syrup as awards

Ah the Horror.  Not my favorite course but like I've said I keep coming back so there must be something to say about that.  It is well organized for sure, probably some of the most efficient race promoters in the series (more on that later).  They mixed things up a bit this year and ran the course in the opposite direction.  Apparently years ago that was the way they ran it but I've done this race for 4-5 years in the other direction so its been a while.  It changed the feel and dynamic of how it rode quite a bit.  Climbs went from long and gradual to short and steep.  But the chatter remained, no matter what direction you were heading.  If you ride rigid you better be ready to vibrate at the Horror.  Luckily I thought ahead and threw my thudbuster on last week in an effort to help me stay seated and pedaling.

I have no real idea how big our field was, there were 5 pre-reg'd and with the mass starts its hard to tell who's who.  They ended up starting us with the Sports this time around which was...interesting.  Not really sure the reasoning behind that but I guess all told it worked out ok, but we did have to go full gas from the gun to try and get out front to avoid traffic later.  Things got going and Pete M., Taylor C. and myself got out front of the field with Mark not too far behind.  Pete disappeared (per usual) and I had Taylor in sight so I tried to bring things back to a bit more sustainable pace to recover a bit.  I was maybe 25-30ft behind Taylor when he topped out on the big climb early in the lap and by the time I got to the top he was GONE.  I thought I would catch him before long but the descents in that direction did not suit my bike at all.  Long, gradual, super high speed washboard.

I was moving ok but I'm sure a bit slower than anyone else with some squish to soften things out a bit.  Mark caught me about halfway through the first lap after being just a tad too far back in the start and getting caught in some Sport traffic on the climbs.  I continued to hammer expecting to catch Taylor soon, he had mentioned he hadn't been feeling 100% at the start but I think he may have been playing mind games.  Lapping through and he was still out of sight and I was beginning to think he had pulled a fast one on me.  The way this course was running I didn't really have too many spots to use my particular strengths and I was starting to worry that if I couldn't get him by the big early climb he would be able to stay in front on the washboard descents.

Sure enough as I rounded the slight corner on the climb I see Taylor topping out again about the same distance ahead of me as lap 1.  And again as I got to the top he was nowhere to be seen.  I knew I had to catch him in some of the slight climby terrain at the end of the lap to give myself some real estate to put some time into him before the descending started again.  Luckily I finally rolled up on him towards the end of the second lap.  Tried to keep the pressure on as much as I could to get some distance.  Now I just had Pete and Mark in front of me so now it was time to just settle in and keep things moving.  I was still worried about Taylor coming back in the fast chattery stuff though.

3rd lap was pretty uneventful, just more hot and fast suffering.  4th lap I was getting hilarious sloppy.  My ability to hold a stable line was completely gone.  Luckily I was able to keep things upright but I'm sure I was bleeding time that whole lap.  It was lonely out there, because they started us with the Sports we were 5 mins behind everyone else doing 4 laps and everyone we started with stopped at 3.  I have years of DFL practice though so it was no issue.  Stopped the clock at about 1h45m a good 12m clear of Pete and about 6m off Mark for 3rd.  Pretty pumped for a fairly legit podium but I think the one at Pinnacle I missed would have felt a bit better due to the larger field there.  Unfortunately I missed the podium photo op because the promoters were so efficient they did awards probably within 5mins of the last few Expert/Elites coming in.  Apparently I didn't even have enough time to change at my car.  Just as I'm heading back up the hill I see Pete coming down with a huge thing of syrup and a slightly smaller thing of syrup....uh oh.  I guess that's why they invented Photoshop right?

team photo stolen from Mark

Changing gears a bit now.  SSUSA this coming weekend and then nothing official until the 100 in mid August.  Time to start racking up the saddle time.  Also probably going to get back in the gym doing more consistent interval stuff to try and peak again a bit heading into the Fall.  YEEHAA.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

All out in Moody Park EFTA NECS 2012 #4

Remember that time the Sox won the series after they hadn't for like 4000 years?  Well this is kinda like that except Moody hasn't had a race that wasn't a mud fest for at least the last two times they've hosted a race but I think we are clear of the curse and today was exquisite.

A dry Moody Park is on par with the Pinnacle; great mix of terrain, decent amount of climbing, full gas, suffer/awesome'fest.

I arrived early to 'put out the vibe' and watch our Novice and Sport riders head out.  Eric and Nate were looking for another 1-2 sweep of Novice Junior and were only kept at bay by a strong slightly older rider.  They came in for 2nd and 3rd.  I didn't get to catch up with some of our other riders, the starts were a bit closer than some of the other races so I was busy with battle prep.

 future of the sport

Our SS class ballooned a bit with day-of registrations which was nice.  I was worried it was just going to be the 5 of us, but I think we got up to about 12.  Unfortunately some of the guys rolling in were of the 'silly fast' ilk.  Like Dejay Birch fast.  Literally.  And he was escorted to Claremont by none other than Thom P. AKA BigBikesMedia.  Pete M. showed, Brad B., Taylor was gonna be a good old time.

Everything was nice and civil until around when the gun went off.  Probably the fastest start I've been a part of this season.  Usually I'm right up in the top 1/3 of the field but I was pretty quickly relegated to about 9th or 10th of 12 right out of the gate.  We did our parade lap and got to railing a super fast, super fun descent.  It was me and Mark again, trying to work our way up.  We made a few passes within the first mile or two and were up working on mid-pack.  We caught Brad B. heading into the climb right after the first pass through the Cavity and we were sitting 4-5 behind the silly fast 3 of Dejay, Thom and Pete.

Not long after that we rolled up on Pete on the tail end of fixing a flat.  He was just jumping back on as I came up.  I asked since he was back here if he would mind towing me up to Dejay, he was very cordial and responded with a "Sure, hop on!".  He then promptly dropped me like I was standing still.  I still had Mark in my sights about 10-15ft up and we basically lapped through together.  I was able to keep the gap around there through the descent and the initial techy meandering climbing but as soon as we hit that middle fire road descent section he got away with his slightly bigger gear and that was it.

Luckily about a mile or two later Carl caught me and we got to NEMBA two-man TT'ing for a bit.  We actually stayed together off and on for a bit.  He would get away a tad and then have some bobble or issue and I would catch back on for a tad.  Definitely is nice to ride with teammates when the opportunity arises, but he eventually got away for good en route to a 3rd in Vet I.  The third lap ended up being fairly brutal for some reason.  Maybe it was because I was isolated and got a bit lazy or because the first two laps were such a slug fest but I was definitely cognitive of a pretty significant slowing of my legs and general forward progress.  Cramps were starting to tweak my calves here and there and the heat was not exactly enjoyable.

Unfortunately my lap 3 slow down led to getting caught at the top of the climb before the lap point by a Boloco rider in the SS class.  I believe his name was Andrew L.(?) he was a new face to me in SS, I was able to latch on as he went by and we lapped through together.  He offered to let me come by because "he was not very good in the turns" which was nice because he didn't have to offer that and it was much more enjoyable to take some serious risks trying to get away from him without him in front of me.

I took that descent like a maniac, probably my fastest attempt at that section all day but ultimately it wasn't enough as he creeped back to my wheel after the next climby section.  We yo-yo'd in some of the undulating techy stuff but as soon as we kicked out onto the smoother gradual climb to the Cavity I knew he was going to push it.  He had about 10 more watts than I did...I was able to hang for a bit but I could feel that it wasn't sustainable.  He slowly started opening a gap and I decided to dial it back a bit hoping he would bonk or have an issue in some technical terrain and I was going to save my last few matches for the final climb.

My strategy didn't work out and he ended up besting me by about a minute or so I think...Mark was another minute in front of him.  I don't regret it though, it was the only workable strategy I had at the time.  And even though 6th is kind of one of my old standard placings this field was stacked.  I rode clean and had a blast so I'm plenty happy with the day.  Just think 4-6 years ago I was finishing 15-30mins behind just the local fast-ish guy and now I'm coming in 15mins behind professional SS'ers.


I really hope the word gets out on this course and it returns to what it once was.  It's a great venue and super gnar.  I'll be looking forward to coming back next year after I find those 10W I was missing...