Sunday, April 29, 2012

Singlespeed-a-palooza 2012

single speeeeeeeeeds!!!


Yeah racin bikes! 2012 is under way and I couldn't have asked for a better day, course or conditions to get things rolling.  Shaun and I carpooled out to Dbone city to set up base camp before heading down for the 4th Annual Singlespeed-a-palooza.  I have heard great things about the venue, organizers and the scene/race in general over the last few years so we figured we'd have a look-see this year.

Saturday was perfect race prep.  Dbone got us straight to his 11yr old nephews birthday party where we ate as many hamburgers, hot dogs and pasta salad as possible.  Then we watched Keith climb a tree.  After that we continued the food binge with a huge pasta dinner and some wine that made us go crazy and we ended up coining the term 'Visual Pervert'.

Up early Sunday morning to haul down to Montgomery, NY.  Nice area, never really been down that way.  Stewart State Forest is set up quite nice to host races and Darkhorse Cycles knows their stuff.  Don't take good race organization for granted, you won't miss it until it's gone.  We got situated, stashed bottles, did our warmup and then immediately violated our plan by getting to the start way too late and having to file into basically the back of our enormous group.  Hashtag dammit.

Now this was a longer race coming in at 28mi so I'll recall this as best I can....

Air horn goes off and we've got work to do.  There is about 90 people we have to pass and everyone is off like a bat out of hell trying to get as far up as possible during the 'prologue', a 2mi section of access rode followed by a short stint on singletrack back through to the lap point and into the first full lap.  I get boxed in a tad early on but I found a way out to the left edge of the group and punch it at 150rpm to try and get through some of the slower guys who are content to hang back while the hammerheads get after it.

The bunch had split into two main groups the main 'fast group' of about maybe 30-40 (hard to tell with all the dust) was up the road and I had made it to the front of the second group and was trying to bridge up...unsuccessfully.  A few others joined my attempt and we were able to get up to the back end of things as the faster group started to fracture a bit right before heading into the singletrack portion of the prologue.

Now this is where things get AWESOME.  Were single file with basically nowhere to pass but moving along decently so I decide to just sit on and wait for my chances later.  Then about 5 minutes later our paceline is hauling down a slight hill and coming up to a slight bend apparently someone saw a little bit of mud and decided to stop and perform an environmental impact study or something because all of a sudden I realize everyone in front of me is stopping.  I was like "No way this is a race I'm not stopping" so I rammed the guy in front of me.  Pretty hard.  Full on explosion, my handlebars made sweet love to his rear wheel, right brake lever bumped out of place, the whole deal.  And remember that mud I mentioned?  I got in that a bunch.  We finally got our bikes separated and got back to riding single file at high speeds.  We quickly started catching back up to some riders who I really wanted to pass because I had lost all that time.  So I inform a nice lady that I will be coming by on her right, which I do, but as I'm completing my pass my right hand catches something on the side of the trail which pulls my hand/handlebar back T'ing my wheel and I explode/endo right in front of her and stop our paceline dead.  Everybody take 5!  Great work!

Good news?  Right brake lever has now been bumped back into the correct position.  Sooooo now that I've got all my 'silly' out I got down to actually riding my bike a bit.  The course and trails at Stewart are incredible.  Very fast but not boring by any means, plenty of sharp rocks to keep you on your toes and your brain picking smooth lines.  I'm very glad I stuck with the 32-19.  The course wasn't so much flat and fast as it was punchy and fast.  The 19 kept my cadence up and I was able to power over most everything and keep the leg speed up in the more technical stuff.  I was passing people back pretty consistently early in the lap so I felt like I was doing what I should but I had completely lost track of where I was in the pack.

I got isolated a bit here and there but I was just about always 'racing' with somebody at all times which was nice.  I was catching small groups of 2,3,4 riders here and there through the first lap and I was able to rest and ride away from just about all of them.  I still felt really strong heading into the second lap and I was still catching and passing people so I tried to just keep the pace as high as possible.  I eventually somewhat settled in with a kid who was riding about 30yds ahead of me that I couldn't quite reel in for much of the second lap.  We were fairly evenly matched and I just couldn't quite close the gap.  I did start to notice that I was closing distance on harder parts of the course, climbs, false flats, etc. so I was fairly certain he was slowly running out of gas where as I felt like I would be good to push decently hard to the finish.

I knew there was a longer false flat access road section coming up towards the end of the lap so I decided I would keep him close and make my move to grab him then.  My plan worked and the gap started shrinking as soon as the road tilted up.  I realized that just a bit past him there was also another rider so I thought if things went really well we could collaborate and catch him and maybe I could pass two people in the last few miles.  I caught my rabbit just as the hill was topping off and kept the pace on to try and drop him and get the next guy.  The next guy was also fading and I caught him as we turned onto the last singletrack section of the course.  I sat on his wheel for a bit of a recovery knowing there was a false flat and two little climbs still to come.  As luck would have it we started gaining on two more riders also fading fast.  I was able to make my first pass at the top of the first little climb and I used the next climb to get past the next two guys as well.

I kept the pressure on so they wouldn't be tempted to try and bury themselves to get back by and I ended up passing 4 people in the last 3-4mi for 10th place(!) in the NY and North class.  Initially thought it was 11th but took a picture of the results sheet and didn't even realize that they had made a correction moving me up one spot.  Not sure on the actual head count in our class but I'm 90% sure there were 97 pre-reg'd.

I am super pumped with that result considering where I started in the pack and how things went for me early.  I was also really pleased with my staying power, I think my training has really helped me continue to put out power at my threshold apparently well into longer events as well.  Hopefully I can stay healthy and keep this ball rolling.

Friday, April 27, 2012

High School Reunion Ride

I had a strange ride last night.  One of those rides where you find your head clear and thinking about a lot of things as you shred along.  Like why in the hell don't I ride these trails more often? and Am I really this much stronger than when I rode these trails everyday years ago? and Holy crap how are my tires hooking up on these wet roots?!

For some reason I have neglected the trails in and around Plymouth lately probably due to my increased involvement with CNH NEMBA and their presence being a bit farther South.  I don't think I rode trails in Plymouth once last year and maybe only once the year before that.  Not sure why, things just played out that way.  I had the good fortune of hooking up with Paul Y. who has ridden in this area for many years and has a good present (as well as historical) knowledge of these trails.  This ride with him was just what I needed to get these trails mind mapped again and ready to go.

Things have changed a bit over the past 10 years but the trails are in great shape and really fun.  It felt like a reunion of sorts.  All the lines coming back to me, memories of rides past flashing into my head as we cruised along.  We spent a lot of time in those woods and it was cool to relive some of that stuff while re-exploring things.

There is some free-ride stuff in there now.  Built on the side of a hill that is lap-able with a few lines available and some decent features built.  Many of the old trails still exist very close to their original form with maybe a reroute here and there.  Other trails have faded with time.  It was cool to find out that the trail we used to just call the 'Monkey Bridge Loop' was actually called 'Sponge' unfortunately that is one of the trails that has faded a bit since some of the features were damaged and never rebuilt. (perhaps I shall bring it back?).  Our 'Training Loop' is actually 'Twin Towers'.  Its funny remembering how that trail used to whup us fairly well (hence training loop) and now its barely a blip and I'm hammering a much larger gear than I ever was in the past.  We also got on Schweddy Balls, Lazy Boy, Sitter and Crosstown.  I was also informed that some of the trails across Texas Hill Rd are back as well as some new trail work going on over there.  Very much looking forward to exploring over there again.

Oh and Maxxis Ignitors at 20psi grab wet roots like its their job.  Couldn't believe it.  The rain actually worked out to our advantage.  It was looking pretty miserable at 5:15 but by 5:30 when we hit the trail the rain had stopped.  Things were slick but manageable and the rain knocked the bugs down and we actually had a really enjoyable ride.  Things were so dry up here a lot of this moisture lately has been getting sucked up quickly and there was hardly any standing water or mud bogs anywhere.

I'm thinking quick lunch rides up there this summer is going to be a must as well as cherry picking some after work rides and maybe bringing our Thurs ride up this way more often.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Train for Cycling Success

There are a lot of respected cycling coaches out there with tested and proven techniques to improve your strength, power and endurance.  But I'm telling you right now its all BULLSHIT.  If you really want to know how to kickstart yourself on a path to cycling greatness follow these however many steps I come up with:

1. Take the longest ride you've done in the last 6 months.
2. Multiply it by 4.
3. Make sure you include several big mountain passes.
4. Only invite strong riders with mid-season fitness due to a lackluster (or in their opinion very luster) winter.
5. Tell yourself before the ride you will keep things reasonable with a century pace.
6. Immediately ignore that plan as soon as you roll out of the parking lot.
7. Take one "massive pull" from minute 0 to minute 6 and then hang on for dear life for the rest of the ride.
8. Hang tough during the first 30mi at not century pace.
9. When the first mountain pass hits hold on for half and then demonstrate how to go backwards on a bike.
10. Enjoy the descent.  Seriously, enjoy it cause you're about to go to a dark, dark place.
11. Think about anything other than the 14mi gradual climb up to the 13% headwall between you and the car.
12. Again, hang tough but this time for far less than half the climb.
13. Realize that those 15-25mph WNW winds the weather man was talking about are now right in your face.
14. Now realize that your legs can't even handle 2% let alone 13%.
15. Start thinking about very confusing and complex subjects like particle physics and quantum mechanics to pass the time.
17. Get relieved as you see the slow lane forming ahead of you knowing the climb is almost done.
18. Then get horrified as the pitch gets steeper and steeper.
19. Keep your cadence at about 10. We don't want to get too crazy here.
20. Channel the Little Engine that Could.
21. Crest the climb and continue plugging at those WNW winds.
22. Wait for that inevitable and blessed broom wagon.


I guarantee I win Willowdale.

So as you can see I had a hell of a time on this lovely Good Friday.  The first 30mi were great. Myself, Ryan LaRocque, Bully, Carl, Art and Andrew were cruising right along making it into Gorham averaging a hair over 20mph.  Even in Glen after Pinkham we were still averaging 19+.  All in all I have mixed reviews on my fitness.  I think for April I'm good.  I was able to hang with a group a tad above my pay grade for 30 in rolling terrain.  I'll take that and conveniently memory erase most of the rest.  What doesn't kill you right? RIGHT?!

Temps were chilly getting started but the sun made it out and things were perfect for the rest of the day.  Except for those damn winds!

I was Living Free and Dying when I took this

Monday, April 2, 2012

Testing the Waters

Got my first harder pace ride in this past weekend at FFD to get a quick gauge on what I can throw down currently.  It was promising, I didn't go completely flat out the whole time I took a few breathers on a trail here and there but when I was getting after it there were several times I thought my legs and heart were gonna give it up but I was able to keep suffering.  Very good signs for March.  AND I racked up a pretty hilarious amount of KOM's for my trouble.

I'm really digging my setup for this season so far.  All my upgrades are meshing really well and I feel really comfortable on the bike already.  I think the decrease in rotational weight is gonna be a really big deal for me this year as well as the slightly smoother ride thanks to 10 less psi.  Add the phenomenal lead into the season I'm getting with this PSU physical training program and I think by June/July I will have made more progress than I have over the last few years.

One somewhat funny side effect of my new setup is with a lighter setup in general and specifically much lighter wheels I have to be a bit more deliberate and mindful of where I put my weight and when.  I literally float on this bike now and I had some issues on semi technical fast climbs where I would pull the rear end right off the ground because my weight was a bit too forward.  I also need to learn to trust the new cornering capabilities of tires at 20psi.  I cornered a few times at speed and the feeling of the rubber rolling over a tiny bit actually kinda freaked me out a bit the first few times because I'm not used to it.  I just need to learn to let the magic happen.

Hopefully the weather stays on its current trajectory and I have a chance to get some good miles in before ss-a-palooza.  Team ride in the Whites this Friday should be a good start.