Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hall Hall Hauler

I'm just now realizing this has been a really light year on almost half the usual.  How did this happen?  I'm gonna blame my wrist and recommit myself for a better 2014.  Also trying to decide if I should do more with this thang.  Now that I'm directing NEMBA Racing I'm thinking about maybe sharing more of the trials and tribulations of that or maybe getting into more in depth gear reviews maybe?  Who knows, hopefully I'll put my money where my mouth is.

But for now A PROJECT BIKE!  It's been for-EEEVER since I've done a restoration build. Maybe I should get back into dumpster diving as well?  Although I've heard most dumps aren't really cool with just anybody crawling around in their metal piles anymore.  LAME.


Ok. Back story. This ones got a good one. Many moons ago while still slinging cable in the telecom game I stumbled upon this ride resting on its kickstand in the middle of a large attic space in Samuel Reed Hall Hall at PSU.  Seemed like it was in decent shape and at the time I was worried it possibly belonged to one of the Res Life staffers in the building so I left it be.  Then less moons ago I was back in the attic assisting with the re-purposing of the campus webcam and low and behold it was still just sitting there.  Res Life staff rolls over pretty frequently so I was fairly certain that at this point it was not owned by anyone still around.  I wasn't in a place to take it right then so I left it and made a deal with the Telecom guys to let me know next time they were headed up there and I would tag along and snag it.

That time came not all that long after that day and of course we get there and its gone.  I had missed my opportunity...or had I? Yes I had. At least for awhile. On the way out we noticed that it had been moved down into the lobby of the building. I was ok with taking an obviously abandoned bike from an attic but I wasn't comfortable with taking it from the lobby when best guess is one of the current Res Life staff at the time had gone up there and found it and decided it was sweet and took it down to try and revive it.

There it sat for probably months? and every now and then the guys in Telecom would swing through and tell me that it was still just siting there.  Hall Hall was actually up for renovation and being repurposed for academic space and in its final days as a Res Hall the Telecom guys were over there going over specs with contractors and finally got the bike and the RD in the same room at the same time.  RD finally confirmed that no one was laying claim to it and BOOM...mine.

Now that we've got that out of the way lets get to some deets.  What we have here is your standard issue Columbia 3 speed straight out of Westfield, MA.  If I had to guess probably from the 60's right before the 10 speed boom in the 70's.  It wasn't in horrible shape but the front brake was broken and the rear hub had basically been reduced to a singlespeed thanks to years of gummed up grease.  I was hoping to just swap out the broken brake and front wheel with stuff from the parts bin, maybe some new/used rubber and some new cables.

Unfortunately I didn't have any brakes that were going to work which kind of derailed the whole project, you can get away with just one brake if its the front one but I didn't want to only have a rear brake.  It occurred to me that I had plenty of old V-brakes so I started scouring the interwebs for an old 1in threaded fork for 26in wheels that had canti studs and found a brand new one on ebay for about $40.  Seemed like a reasonable investment into this ride so I went for it.

posting this to make shop owners cringe.

wicked grips. dyude. guy.

Trimmed the fork to fit and it installed real nice.  Put some new levers and grips on and now it just needs some new cables and the rear wheel true'd up.  Also thinking about trying to install a huge wire basket that I have but I'm not sure if its going to fit yet.

Almost After.

Should hopefully have this thing completed soon and I'll post an official after pic once its ready to shred.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Singletrack Everywhere!

Last weekends romp around Saratoga kinda got me in the mood for more big XC rides.  Didn't have anything pressing at the house to take care of and I don't want to start raking the yard yet because there are still a decent amount of leaves still on the trees.  Soooo I got to trying to figure out some sort of linked epic I could check off my list.

I had several ideas but the temps stayed pretty cold today and there was a 40% chance of rain in some forecasts so being isolated a long way from home didn't seem like the smartest thing.  Originally I was thinking about trying to link Franklin Falls to Page Hill.  Which is totally doable, 8mi of pavement or there is even a dirt / class VI route that is possible but I haven't done it yet and cold weather isn't the best for constant navigation stops.  That one will happen next year for sure.

I've also been dying to check out Spaulding Woods, the new chunk of land that we are helping the Spaulding Youth Center develop into a riding destination.  They had already had some double track and had been slowly working on some singletrack.  We had a trail day there this Fall to build another new trail and do some cleanup and refinement of the other existing stuff.

My plans for a linked ride were foiled...but not if I linked them via car!  Plan was to check out SW first then drive over to FFD and then around to Page Hill.  20-25mi depending on what you ride at each spot, not that much driving and protected in case the weather turned on me, perfecto!

Spaulding Woods was as good as some of the rumors I had been hearing.  Not a lot of mileage yet but great terrain and some really fun trails that are easy to lap.  Most of the place is built into a hill so you can get a decent workout heading back up again and again to take a few more stabs at the down mountain trails.  Already some great berms and other features in place as well.  The trails need some wheels to buff out some of the chatter but once they ride in its going to be a really great spot in a great location.

Riding Franklin was nice, folks have been staying on top of leaf blowing and things were riding great.  Even scored a KOM and missed another by 1 sec.  Page Hill on the other hand was covered in about a foot of leaves.  Felt like riding through 6in of snow.  Getting really hard to navigate there unless you have either built the trails or ride them frequently, luckily I have done both.

I kind of like the linked by car format.  Lets you take breathers, warm up (if its cold), get some calories.  I'm thinking a full Central NH Tour de Force might be in order, although it would be a pretty big undertaking to do all the more well established ride spots.  A clockwise loop would be pretty reasonable as far as driving goes.  You'd need a full day, starting early.  Mid summer max daylight would help.

Ride Ahern first - 6-8mi
Then Ramblin Vewe Farm - 6-8mi
Then Spaulding Woods - 5mi
Then Highland XC Loops - 6-8mi
Then Franklin Falls - 8-10mi
Then Page Hill - 8mi

Solid 40(ish) miles of basically all singletrack.  Actually, as I'm writing this I'm thinking ending at Page Hill might be a bit brutal...counter-clockwise might be smarter then you could end the ride with a swim in Winnisquam at Ahern.  Hmmmm...Who wants in?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013. Shoulders and Wrists Maximus...Shoulders and Wrists!

We mortals are but shoulders and wrists.

I usually do one of these season recaps every year so here we go....2013.  Dominated by nagging shoulder and wrist issues but I still managed to have a decent year racing my bike.  Things went sideways back in late April / early May.  I was having a great run up getting more miles in March / April than I have in a long time.  At some point in April, not really all that sure when, something happened with the shoulder.  Not sure if it was rotator cuff or a minor AC separation but it had me laid up off and on for much of the early season.  As I dealt with the shoulder an old wrist injury cropped back up as well which my best guess is a damaged sheath that keeps the Ulnar nerve where it is supposed to be.

I then did my best to not let either of those injuries heal all year.

This made my riding patterns very sporadic and ended with the norm becoming long rides followed by down time trying to get pain under wraps and then once it was bearable back on the bike for a long ride.  Whatever I could manage really with races taking priority.  Fun fact: over half (55%) of my miles on dirt this year were race miles, almost 300mi of racing on dirt.  Luckily that pattern worked fairly well for my race plans for this year.  I decided to take another stab at more endurance formats.  I had tried this once before back in '08 or '09 but I don't think I was quite ready back then and returned to the XC summer series races the following years.  As I've made incremental gains over the years I have noticed that my endurance is right up there with really fast guys and my ability to suffer through long hours in the saddle is top tier as well but when it came to those really sharp VO2max, anaerobic type efforts I wasn't on the same level.

Even with all of my health issues this year I managed to surprise myself a few times at my longer races this year.  My win in the 100K at the Wildcat was a pleasant surprise and my finishing time was also a PR for me at that distance (although that was a fast course) and that was with early season fitness.  A podium at Carrabassett was also unexpected and again my time was the same as my Wildcat time on a much harder course.  Top 5 at NH100 with an all time personal best on that course and my fastest ever 100K time.  Not too shabby.  My luck ran out after that though and my last two endurance go-rounds saw me beat to a pulp with some of my wrist issues really catching up to me.

With my results this year I am fairly certain that I am an endurance type rider and I will continue to work on that type of fitness and that type of racing going forward.  100K and 100mi races are becoming more and more popular and we are getting more options in New England every year.  I think I need one more year racing these distances consistently before I jump into a 100 miler but that is probably the eventual goal here.  I'm certain I could probably finish one but I think with a bit more work I could be fairly competitive, not with the top SS guys they are beyond ridiculous, but I think I could be one of the better regional riders for sure.

First things first though; I need to get healthy.  I'm getting there.  I think I'm clear of the shoulder.  Pain is minimal and when it crops up from time to time the recovery is faster and faster and I think I can focus on strengthening it again now.  The wrist is still nagging but two weeks off the bike recently got me over a hump of sorts and I think I'm much closer to being back on track.  Much of my early work in the gym this Fall will probably be PT in nature.  I have gotten away with being hard on my body in the past but I think those days are over.  Gotta smarten up a bit or I will crumble to bits in no time I'm sure.

Next step will be to stay healthy next year.  Starting that quest with beating myself up less.  Yes, its (pretty much) official.  My days of riding fully rigid have come to an end.  There are things I really like about riding rigid and a part of me has liked the added challenge (in a way) as well as the respect you get for being silly enough to actually do it.  But the beating is no longer worth it to me and I've got nothing to prove.  I have really enjoyed my time on the party bike so far this Fall and it has also reminded me that I am a pretty damn good technical rider and descender when I'm not getting rattled into oblivion.

More than likely I will be getting some sort of fork for the Spot and possibly even going back to running the Thudbuster full time.  Even with the added weight and slight loss of efficiency I'm guess I'm going to be going real fast next year.  The drive is already there even now.  I'm excited for a healthy go at some long races.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Double Rye Bacon Whiskey Stout

Yup. You read that right.

This batch was slated to be a pretty standard but most likely delicious Rye Stout, kinda like an oatmeal stout but a bit spicier due to the character of the Rye.  Then I got to thinking about how I added Rye whiskey to my last Rye ale to great affect.  Then I got to thinking about how a Thanksgiving or so ago my cousin and I made some bacon infused bourbon.  Then I got to thinking I wouldn't mind having to eat an entire package of bacon just so I could use the grease.  And so was born the Double Rye Bacon Whiskey Stout.

I tweeted my intentions before brew day and Pog made absolutely sure thats what I wanted to do.  No 'yes' men in the Blue Zoo, we call it how it is.  Pog could not overcome my dedication to bacon though so I powered forth.  Can't wait for the first taste to see who was more wise this time around.  I'm a bit concerned...Pog's palette is renowned, but so is my homebrew track record.  Hashtag Thunderdome.

I think this one's going to be real smooth.  On the malty side with only 1oz of mellow Warrior hops to balance things out.  Early fermentation was energetic.  Luckily I got up early today to meet dad for 9-holes and caught things just starting to get into the airlock and clog things up.  Had to quickly make some sanitizer and get a blow-off set up before I left.  Hopefully it wasn't too hasty and I got things cleaned up enough.

Saturday evening I decided I might as well also make the whiskey even though I won't need it for a week or so.  Pretty easy to make, just cook up a full package of bacon to ensure you get a good amount of the grease/fat.  Once its all cooked up, let the grease cool a bit and then add it to the whiskey.  Give it a few hours, periodically swirling it around so that it mixes up otherwise it separates pretty quickly and you don't get as much actual 'infusion'.

Then you put it in the freezer overnight so the grease solidifies/freezes while the whiskey stays liquid.  Then all you need to do is strain the whiskey back into a container.  I usually just use a coffee filter.  Its slow going but works the best I think.

This one will probably be ready mid/late Fall and depending on the timing I may just hold off on it and bottle it for Thanxmas since we'll be in Hawaii for half of November anyway.  Aloha.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Bradbury 12


What a rip roarin' end to the season I'm having.  It's becoming apparent I'm dipping a bit too deep and its time to take a step back, dial it down, etc. and just enjoy the rest of the Fall riding season and finally get completely joint healthy.  And apparently in order for me to come to these realizations I need two pretty serious sufferfests in a row.

The Bradbury 12 is a great event.  One of my favorite courses, well organized, just a grand ole time all around.  Shaun and I planned on running our Double-Single team back again but life happened and I was without teammate trying to come up with a plan.  I had toyed with eventually trying something like this solo for a bit and figured this was as good a time as any.  I offered the support crew chief position to my dad, which he graciously accepted and we were a go.

I rolled into town Friday afternoon at about 1pm and scored the very last campsite available.  Complete dumb luck.  5mins later and I would probably have missed it.  And go figure the site was right next to the couple Shaun and I camped next to at Carrabassett.  We spent a few minutes trying to figure out who was stalking who then I set up camp and went out for a preride.  Course was actually still pretty wet in spots from a huge storm that apparently blew through earlier in the week.  It was only here and there though, the rest was pretty dry and fast.  I had decided last second to throw the 20t cog on the Spot to help me pace myself early and be easier to turn over late.  It was definitely the right call.  My low effort preride got me a time of about 50mins which was right around where I wanted to be.

Apparently completely unforecasted rain is like a thing in Pownal, ME because for the second year in a row I woke up to rain drops.  Nothing too crazy but enough to slicken everything up and make the wet spots worse.  I set up my stuff in the support area, Dad showed up and got situated and then we lined up for the start.  All us solo singlespeeders got acquainted and at the gun we filtered into our own little group towards the back of the first wave.

I was leading things into the woods and we all stayed pretty close for the first mile or so.  I let it run a bit in the tight stuff and David H. stayed with me, by the time we got to the first fire road climb I snuck a peak back and it was just the two of us the rest were out of view.  Towards the end of the first lap I all of a sudden starting hearing some really weird clunky sounds coming from the rear of the bike after a fast rough section.  It was bad enough that I stopped to take a closer look and its a good thing I did because my skewer had worked its way loose and when I picked the back end of the bike up to look the wheel fell right out.  Must have spaced locking it down real tight after changing my gearing.

For some reason it was being a real bitch to get back in, David H rode away and I was caught by Kaj and Jesse while I was trying to fix it.  I was able to get back going and catch back on to Jesse and Kaj and lapped through with them.  Got going on my second lap and almost ran right into an enormous porcupine.  Yes, thats right.  Rounded a corner and there it was right in the middle of the trail.  If I hadn't been paying attention I would have gotten to see if Stan's sealant can handle 50 quill punctures.  It eventually lumbered off the trail and I was back on my way.

Second lap was good. Traffic had worked itself out and I was trying to keep the pace reasonable.  Stopped for a feed at the end of 2 and I think Kaj snuck by me so I was into 3rd with David H still holding the gap he got while I was fixing my wheel.  3rd and 4th laps were ok but the course was starting to wear on me more than I had hoped it would.  I don't remember it being that bad the year prior but the breaks in between must have been just enough to recover from the beating.

I was concerned I was wasting a lot of energy (and time) in the rough stuff and I believe on lap 5 I was caught by Kevin M. early on and he just rode away through the bumpy stuff and I just couldn't quite stay with him.  This led to me making the (in hindsight poor/incorrect) decision of switching to the Party Bike early to try and make up some time and conserve energy through all the rooty sections.  I was getting antsy about loosing a minute here and there at not even the halfway point of a 12hr race.  Rookie mistake.  My lap times were still in the mid 50's or so and if I had continued on the Spot and switched much later like planned I think I could have ridden to 3rd or even 2nd but no point going too far down the what-if road.

Called for the bike change lapping through from 5 to 6.  Dad helped with the quick pit change and I got out on course looking to party.  And for awhile things were going well.  It was definitely faster in the rough stuff and I felt like it was easier to keep momentum.   I was trying to open it up in the tight stuff and take full advantage of the sections of the course that suited me.  Course conditions had been deteriorating all day, getting more and more greasy as mud got tracked around onto bridges and roots.  My poor decision making and risk taking came to a head about 2/3 into the all happened pretty fast so I won't be able to paint the best picture but its a pretty standard mix of high speed wash-out and getting jammed up going through some off camber roots and before I knew it I was flying off the bike to my left.

(guitar wailing)

As luck would have it I instinctively put my hands out to break my fall, which worked (I am excellent at crashing) but my bum left wrist took a doozy of a hit.  Surprisingly, right after things seemed ok and after I got sorted I continued on my way albeit a bit more cautiously.  As I finished up lap 6 I was starting to feel pressure on the tape around my left comes the swelling!  I wasn't feeling awesome at this point but I was still on pace for 12 laps even with all my issues so I got my bearings and went out for 7.  The shallow false flat early in the lap went well enough but as soon as I got to some shorter little power sections I realized that my left hand didn't really have the strength to hold/pull up on the bars.  The more I tried to just deal with it (SHUT UP WRIST) the worse it got.

I was forced to eventually walk a bunch of sections which was pretty demoralizing with a good 5-6hrs to go.  I finally finished up 7 with a time of about 1hr6mins for the lap, which to be honest really isn't all that bad but I have been getting more and more concerned about the levels of stupidity I have been dumping into my wrist the last few months.  So I made another lame/wise decision to pull the plug.

I still had a pretty decent amount of fun and it was cool having my dad there giving me all kinds of race intel each lap.  Not sure if I would ever do this format solo again.  These races seem much more tailor made and fun for a team.  So for now I'm gonna recover then throw a real small gear on the Party Bike and do Fall at 3/4 speed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Landmine Classic 2013


I have no idea how Wompatuck's reputation did not precede it but I totally missed the memo on this one.  Although I suppose it does exist in that weird middle zone between buff and full on technical that many people have a hard time explaining accurately.  But I'm gonna give it my best shot for those of us that ride without suspension.


Wompy is FAST.  But it is not buff.  AT ALL.  It is washboard roots and small rocks, not enough to really slow you down but just enough to require constant attention and rattle you into oblivion.  Its like that literally everywhere, it is relentless.  This course had maybe a handful of places you could 'relax' everything else was ridiculous high speed beat down.  You know how sometimes when things get really chattery you can have a bottle pop out after taking a solid shot?  I saw a bottle on the trail STILL IN THE CAGE.  This course rattled someones entire bottle cage off. By mile 10 just about all the food in my bento box was gone.  Either pulverized or sent flying into the woods.  I have been racing with that for years and never had that issue once.

For a short period I was having fun, maybe about 1/2 to 2/3 through the first lap.  I was getting beat up pretty bad but the pace was high and the trails are really great just so punishing at race pace.  I think I was sitting about 5th or so, which was in the money for this race so I was feeling pretty good because I usually finish stronger than most at these distances.  But around this time I was assuming the course was going to let up at some point.  This did not happen.  In fact it got worse.  I was laughing at times I was getting so brutally battered.

I was having a harder time putting power down because I was spending little time actually entirely in contact with the ground.  I was getting thrown around like a rag doll.  My wrist and shoulder were starting to feel weak and sore and I was starting to get a hot spot on my palm.  Never had issues with that before but I think it might have been caused by my attempt to let the bars float a bit in the rough stuff which created more rub in a weird spot.  It got pretty bad pretty fast and my prospects at finishing strong were dwindling quickly.

yeah blister pics! second one this season

Somehow I was still managing my nutrition ok.  No cramps, legs and lungs felt pretty good when the course actually let me use them.  No one had caught me for a while so I figured that meant everyone else was suffering as bad as me.  I could tell I was starting to fade though and I was having more and more issues riding things cleanly.  I wasn't dabbing or crashing but I was wasting A LOT of energy.  I came through the lap point in a little over 2hrs which I'm happy with.  My average was well over 10mph despite the brutality but I was still on the fence for continuing.

My hand had gotten pretty bad and I wasn't sure I had enough calories on me to make it.  I rarely quit though so I grabbed my bottles, figured there were some aid stations I could stop at for food in a pinch and I thought maybe a person or two would crack (like I was) and maybe I could sweep them up late.  I got back at it but things went south quick.  There was a short fast, somewhat smoother section at the beginning of the lap but after that you hit the biggest climb of the day and then right into the high speed rough stuff.  I forget exactly where it was. probably coming down off the lines were getting sloppier and my upper body was worked and tired.  My arms were locking out here and there cause I was getting lazy and at some point I took a less than ideal line and took a solid shot that went straight through my wrist directly up to my shoulder and shocked me pretty bad.

I almost yelped it was that good.  This changed my entire mindset.  I knew I was in for much more of the same if not worse.  My hand was starting to hurt pretty bad and I was sure I'd be paying the price for days to come after that jolt.  I started getting real tentative in the rough stuff which only made it worse.  I was the one getting swept up.  I got passed by two SSers in the span of a mile or two.  I was shutting down mentally and physically.  I was starting to think of sections that were still coming up and how much worse they were than what I was currently on and getting destroyed by.  I started thinking about recovery time and how much more fun the Bradbury course is for a rigid rider and I made the rare call to pack it in.

I just really wasn't enjoying myself at all anymore and I'd like to be healthy and fresh for Bradbury so I pulled off the trail onto the access road when the opportunity presented itself and I soft pedaled back to the venue.  Wasn't overly pumped about it but I think I probably made the right call.

This was a great race though.  Great organization of the venue, staff had things dialed, course was laid out intelligently.  HUGE turnout, probably biggest I've ever seen personally.  Bigger than Willowdale for sure, which is tough.  I might do it again.  But you can be damn sure I'll be on the Party Bike.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

British Bitter

Oy! Fancy a pint at the pub GOVNAH? No? Are you takin the piss?

Ok thats about the extent of my English...back to 'American'.  Yeah for those that didn't know, we actually speak American.  If you are overseas most Brits will yell at you to speak 'English', I've found that the best response is to try your best South London / cockney accent and let em have it.  Just make sure they aren't a Royal Marine first.

While it is fun to rib our allies on the Isles about our linguistic differences, one thing we can agree on I think is beer.  And that its good.  I've done a few UK brews over the years.  Its hard not to, they lay claim to so many distinct styles.  I've done some Scottish Wee Heavies, Irish Stout's & Reds but never a straight British Pub Ale.

My priorities have drifted away from home brewing lately.  Not really sure why, just one of those things that happens.  The outcry for me to get back into it has slowly grown over the last few months until it reached a point where it definitely felt silly constantly answering that I wasn't sure what or when I was going to brew next.  Figured I should start with something simple.  Remind myself how easy of a process it is.  Get something ready for Squamtoberfest in mid-October which was always the norm.  What better way to get back into brewing than the bedrock of most Brit's diets?  Simple to brew, simple to drink.

This will be a bit lower gravity but perfect after a Fall mountain bike shred or paired up with some Brandy and cider while chowing down on standard Fall eats.  Before too long I'm also going to be getting a Rye Stout going for late Fall / Winter that I'm pretty excited about.  Kinda digging on Rye right now.

Also going to be some homegrown / homemade apple sauce as well as our pickles, pickled beans, pickled kielbasa and even some pickled zucchini this year at Squamtoberfest.  Bring the whole family!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

NH100 2013 - One Man's Journey to 'Hardcore' Status

You've read one of my NH100 recaps you've just about read them all.  So I'm not gonna recap this years edition all that much.  Instead we're going to go back through time to see just how far I've come.  We'll start our journey in 2009...

2009 - My first go at the NH100.  It was in its 3rd year, Adam had done it the year before.  Seemed like a good challenge and I thought I was ready to step up.  This was not correct.  I had been racing SS in the EFTA series at this point but didn't think I was ready for SS at this distance so I built my Kona up as a 1x9.  This edition broke me.  90+ degree heat, I didn't know the course and learned about the easy first half and brutal second half the hard way.  Took me almost 9hrs to finish.  Reading back over the recap now is funny to see me describing climbs etc. for the first time that I now know oh so well.

2010 - The fact that I even showed up this year after getting so thoroughly shattered the year prior is a testament to the severe chemical imbalance I have that allows me to enjoy such horrible experiences on a bike.  Still didn't really think I was ready for SS at this distance and my Kona had become my SS bike so I raced the dumbest bike ever built.  A 33lb rigid 69er with dirt drops.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?! This was when I started to realize that I can't really ride geared bikes anymore.  I claimed the descents hurt more than the climbs and just barely broke the 8hr barrier.

2011 - NEMBA Racing is off and running and I'm racing quite a bit more.  I finally decide I'm ready to race the 100 on a SS.  I'm getting more acquainted with the course and what my body does under these kinds of efforts.  Feels a bit more like racing.  I stop to pee and lose the wheel of a guy that eventually beats me and I vow to piss myself the next year if I have to.  Part way through the race I realize the 7hr mark might be attainable.  I go for broke and come up short crossing the line at 7h16m.  But the seed has been planted and the 7hr mark becomes the new goal.

2012 - This was a pretty good year for racing bikes.  I had come off 8 weeks with a personal trainer in the Spring and my fitness / high end were probably the best they had ever been.  I was hoping for a strong showing and I was well on my way...until my cleat fell off.  This was the first year they added the 100mi option as part of the NUE series.  Lots of racers this year and the production value of the event went way up.  This was the year of the pit crew aid stations.  I was in the middle of a solid effort, yo-yo'ing with another rider for 5th/6th position.  Around mile 47 my left cleat went AWOL.  I checked out mentally and tried to just keep moving as best I could to get back home.  Before too long I realized I was still moving along decently.  I also eventually noticed that despite my handicap it looked like the 7hr mark could still be in play.  I went for broke again, doing my best to tear my own legs off and just made it in under at 6hr58m.

And here we are in 2013.  After having technically fulfilled my 7hr goal I didn't really have anything concrete to shoot for this year.  I figured that was better because really with a finish required to be inducted into the Hampshire Hardcores that had to be the priority.  Just get across the line.  But at this point just getting across the line is technically easy and I don't like easy I like horrible suffering so I decided since I had put up two times of 6h37m at my two previous 100K races this year that breaking 6h30m would be the new goal.  This year was actually pretty damn uneventful.  I know this course and my body at this distance so well now that everything was managed fairly well.  Except for that really dark place I went from about mile 50 to 55 today.  I was actually on a just under 6hr pace coming up to that point but I think I had been pushing my limits a bit more than I usually do at this race and paid for it a bit.  Luckily things came back around and I was able to finish strong.  Coming through the final singletrack I could tell the timing was going to be very close and I was looking at a repeat of last year having to put the head down and hurt as much as possible.  Coming into the campground I was spinning like crazy, my legs were starting to go numb, lungs were on fire.  But I got it, by 30secs.

So there you have it.  Went from 9hrs on a 9sp to 6.5hrs on a rigid SS in 5 years.  I'm pretty proud of that.  My entrance back into racing was pretty rough for a pretty long time.  Racked up lots of DFL's but I've seen it through and now I have a moisture wicking shirt and none of my joints work right.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

4NaaP plus 2F, TRT, CrK

Ah the beloved 4 Notches and a Pass ride (ie 4NaaP).  This time we did it in the correct direction because I didn't plan it.  But I was in attendance so it was still full of debauchery.  I've had a pretty solid string of drama riding in the Whites, be it epic conditions/suffering or mechanical debacles.  This ride was no exception.

Bully had us tack onto a regular group from the Merrimack Valley area.  Nice group of guys and no real slouches among them.  I want to say we maybe had 8 guys?  Things started civil enough but as soon as we hit the wall that is Kinsman I knew it was going to be a longish day of yo-yo'ing off the back.  I was never that far off but the pace was just a few watts above where I wanted to be for a 90+ mile ride so I did my own thing.

Descent off Kinsman and the run into Franconia was great.  Really perfect weather for the day.  Almost no traffic, nice reasonable pace.  Then we hit Profile Rd.  That one is just a bit too punchy and steep for me but kept it within myself and topped out just a bit behind most of the group.  I was starting to feel pretty good at this point.  Nice and warmed up and ready for the long haul.  We crossed I-93 and got onto the bike path for a short stretch to get to Rt.3 and then head north to Twin Mountain and Rt. 302.  That's a long slight downhill pretty much the whole way and we were strung out hammering at probably close to 30mph the whole way.

Very nearly got popped off the back just as we were pulling into town but made it to our first feed stop intact.

Little did I know, shortly after this my day would take a turn.  We hit the road heading to Crawford Notch.  Gentle drag with nice wide shoulders heading in that direction.  We were slowly getting back going after the feed stop, double pace line, basically soft pedaling.  I was right on a guys wheel just ticking along and BAM! No clue what I hit but I hit it hard.  I'm assuming a rock of some sort or some other type of solid debris.  Usually it comes in handy to get that stuff pointed out to you by the rider in front seeing as you can't see around him but he must have missed it until last second.

So I got right into what is the ridiculous ritual of trying to get the bead off my Easton Vista wheels (never ever buy Easton Vista's).  Got the tube in and the first stupid issue I had was a too short valve stem.  I must have grabbed a tube that came from my commuter stash because the valve wasn't long enough to extend past my deep(ish) rims on the road bike.  Luckily somebody had a valve extender that we were able to get to work and dodged that particular bullet.

Second issue was I didn't inspect the rim or tire well enough and about 2-300yds after rolling back out I hear the tell tale sound of the rear going flat again (thats the 2F, 2 Flats).  My drive for the day dissipated pretty quickly at this point.  I was REALLY far from the car and looking at having to steal a tube and closely inspect the tire to try and find debris and then more than likely limp home if possible.  As is the norm Carl is my savior in these situations.  I stole his tube and we made a plan for me to continue on if I could on the planned route and the group would continue on and he would back track in his truck / SAG wagon and pick me up.  Just like old times!

 I was able to find where the second tube went flat and inspected the wheel/tire in that area and low and behold a pretty nice sized dent/burr on the rim where the rock had made contact as well as a slight tear in the tire itself (TRT, taco'd rim / tire).  I'm guessing the second tube snuck out that tear just a bit touched the road and tore.  Luckily I keep a small role of electrical tape in my saddle bag and I had some wrappers from food as well.  Booted the burr and the tire with tape and wrappers and used my last CO2 with my fingers crossed.

tape boot for the rim

gash in the tire

It inflated and held so I started making my way gingerly heading straight at an enormous descent down Crawford.  I was not too pumped to have to fly down a 12-13% headwall with an iffy rear wheel.  I kept the speed down as much as I could and everything was holding.  This section is another very long gentle downhill for probably close to 14mi.  I knew they would be flying but I figured I could probably get going at a decent pace as well and if they regrouped in Bartlett I might have a chance of catching them.  Part of my brain was thinking "Hey if I don't catch them I'm getting a SAG wagon ride anyway so a big effort is no big deal."  Unfortunately my brain didn't spend enough time on the inverse of "Hey, what happens if you put in this huge dig and actually catch them and then have to ride all of Bear Notch AND the Kanc?"

I settled on "Whatevah" and got to it.  Low and behold I turned onto Bear Notch and shortly after heard a group coming up behind with Carl yelling "He's back from the dead!"  Turns out I had just rolled through as their regroup was wrapping up.  So now I was back in the ride, no SAG wagon, and pretty tired.  Whoops.  Usually Bear Notch would be a great climb for me but I was out of gas and had to keep things reasonable with the Kanc looming.

I am currently working very hard to purge the rest of the ride from my memory but lets just say as soon as the road ticked up at the bottom of the Kanc my legs informed me that they were cooked and cramps were imminent (CrK, cramp the Kanc).  I was out of electrolyte pills, and rationing fluids at this point.  The next 7-8mi were rough, lets just leave it at that.  Topped out and had a nice lazy drag back down into Lincoln.  TRAINED.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The High Five Ride

Because sometimes you just have to high five someone who lives 80+ miles away without using gasoline at all.

This idea originally spawned in the Fall of last year when Strava did some weird challenge promoted by BMC that required a 79 mile ride in the span of 24hrs to commemorate some 79th anniversary of something.  I actually looked into trying to do this one because it was the first one ever that was actually attainable by mere mortals with full time jobs.

In my search for a route that would work I randomly realized that it was almost exactly 40mi to the Maine border from one of the parks I sometimes start road rides from to avoid the dirt of Chemungville.  Ride to Maine and back...seemed like an interesting way to complete the challenge.  Then I figured what the hell Pog is riding a bunch now I wonder how far it is to the border for him.  Well look at that! 40 miles!

The High Five ride was born.  Ride to the border. High five. Turn around and we both get a Strava challenge completed. BOOM.  Long story short we weren't able to pull it off that weekend, I ended up doing another ride to fulfill the challenge with Clint but the idea seemed to good to just let fade away.

So we let it simmer and waited for an opportunity.  Millstone 12 didn't materialize this year and this Saturday opened up.  Pog was available, weather looked good.  LETS DO THIS.

I mapped out a little double out and back with a little loop in the middle.  I don't ride out that way much and I had never been on Rt. 171 through Tuftonboro but it was great.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pics because its one of those roads you can tick right along and once you are in that groove I find it hard to stop.  Cut through Ossipee and over to Freedom, NH and the border.  That section of Rt. 25 is a wide open flat drag.  It was nice heading out but I had a sweet head wind coming back.

We documented things with some pics at the border.  And probably looked very sketchy doing so.  My favorite was holding the high five while the camera's timer went down.  We then refueled at the Freedom Market and went our separate ways.  Me into the wind and Pog onto his first century.  My route was pretty flat all told but the wind made much of the way back feel like a 2% climb.

Got back to the house took a quick shower and then immediately went golfing.  Then immediately went to Common Man Ashland and ate food and drank beer on the patio.  Unfortunately today my wrist doesn't work so I'm reduced to blogging and not much else in hopes of getting back on terms quickly.  I'm hoping that eventually my body will realize that ain't nothing gonna break-a my stride, nobody's gonna slow me down, OH NO. I've got to keep on moving.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A2Z Components 68mm Post Adapter

Ok. So now I will finally shed some light on the utter ridiculousness that has become of my partybike build.  This started off as a pretty ridiculous idea and then due to a slight oversight on my part it went to ludicrous speed.

I was already required to do some weird adapting in order to get disc brakes mounted in the rear.  I found a pretty sweet period correct Manitou fork in great shape, titanium springs etc. on eBay and was able to snag it.  I was pretty pumped at how things were coming together and then I got the fork, installed it on the bike and then went to mount the brakes on the post mounts...

Disc brake standards have bounced around a bit, and suffered from some experimentation.  Especially back in the late 90's early 00's.  I knew there was some weirdness back then but I had forgotten about Manitou's random decision to make 68mm post mounts for a few years instead of the now standard 74mm that all brake calipers are machined to.  Go to mount the brake...6mm off. #sadtrombone


After a bit of internet'ing I found an adapter to get from the asinine 68mm to 51mm IS and go figure it was machine by the same folks who made the rear adapter I was using.  Long story short they were actually out of stock so the folks I ordered it from apparently had the same adapter made by A2Z components and shipped that one instead.

I was on my own with this adapter, no real instructions or description about its intended setup and things got a bit crazy pretty fast.  I don't have any calipers that mount directly to 51mm IS so I had to bolt an adapter to the adapter.  I'm not sure this is necessarily intended to be used this way.  If it was it would have been nice for them to machine in a bit more clearance in a few spots because stuff got REAL tight.  So tight that I had to get really weird.  Dremel tool weird.

We don't need no stinking clearance!

So in order for me to get the bottom bolt through to mount my second adapter to the 68mm post adapter I had to (in no particular order):

- Find a bolt to mount the 68mm adapter to the fork with the lowest profile head I could find.  The head on the standard brake mounting hardware was too big and would not let the second adapter sit low enough.  Luckily I found one at the local hardware store that bought me 1-2mm.

- Add an extra washer to the caliper mounting bolt on that side.  The standard bolt threads through the adapter just a hare so adding the washer makes the bolt not stick out and bought me another 1mm or so.

- It was still just a bit off so I had to literally Dremel metal off the 51mm IS adapter until it would sit low enough to allow that second bolt to thread through without cross threading.

- I then had to find another special bolt that was shorter so that it wouldn't stick through too far and hit the rotor on the other side.

It took a lot of troubleshooting but it all technically "fits" and feels solid (for the most part).  This setup requires you to increase the rotor size to make up the room added by the adapter.  So I had to purchase a 180mm rotor as well.  I now wish they made a 182 or 183mm rotor.

I would feel a tad better if this was grabbing just a bit more of this rotor.  But I don't weigh that much and its a 180mm rotor so braking power should be fine right?....RIGHT?!

I might try and mess with some more of those washers to see if I can get some better spacing but the shed was so hot and I had already poured so much time (and sweat) into this that as soon as I rode it around the yard and got it to successfully stop me I called it good for now.

I'll be honest, the sound of this brake 'working' is horrible.  Hard to explain in print but I'm sure anyone who rides probably knows what a horrible disc brake sounds like.  While it does stop me (on flat ground in my yard) I'm sure that the first thing going through my head at speed on an actual trail will be "I wonder if I'm about to die."  Initial testing will have to be done gingerly.

But thats it.  You could ride this thing.  You might not survive but you can ride it, go forward and then 'stop'...maybe.  Partybike doesn't really care about details like that, its mostly about the party.

Rock 'N Roll

Monday, July 15, 2013

Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge 2013

Ah the daunting task of trying to accurately recap an endurance race, I should be getting better at this seeing as I now do them with a fair amount of frequency.  Here goes...

Took a half day Friday so that I could get all the way up to Carrabassett Valley (its way up there) and still have time to get settled before it got dark.  Shaun and I arrived at just about the same time, got our race packets and got our makeshift camp set up.  Camping was a bit weird with folks just instructed to grab some grass around the edges of the gravel parking lots.  It ended up working out ok though.

We had some cool neighbors with some sweet RV and trailer setups.  I always get jealous when I see stuff like that but then I remember how much gas costs.  Got things going early the next day, the sun comes up early that far north.  I didn't have the best night of sleep in the Fit but I felt ok and was ready to get at it.

The start was pretty organized, they were taking lots of safety precautions and even marking our legs like a triathlon for easier identification.  I'm not sure I can think of another race where there are more course marshalls taking stock of when you go by than this race.  I felt like I was seeing them everywhere.  They let us go with the Elites and Experts at about 7:15am or so.  The start was a little frenetic but I had spotted just about our whole field mixed in with everyone.  The pace was a little quick right from the gun but manageable.

We even had the classic epic crash within the first 100yds with some dude exploding at the first turn, unfortunately I didn't get to witness it, just heard it and saw the aftermath.  Looked like it was probably pretty funny though.  After the initial shake out off the line I was sitting in 4th(ish) behind two guys I knew could probably beat me and one guy I didn't recognize.

The first sections of this course are AWESOME.  Tons of purpose built singletrack mixed in that is classic New England style riding.  Tight, twisty, rooty trails expertly built.  Lots of cross fall line stuff with great benching and ledge pack put in place.  Really a treat to ride.  Unfortunately its hard to hold yourself back on stuff like that especially when you are having so much fun.  I was definitely riding too hard but lucky for me I was reminded of this by taking a turn too hot and washing out on the edge of the trail and shredding my knee on said ledge pack.  That was a pretty good wake up call and I got back into a more consistent reasonable pace.

By this point Curtis L. had blown by me (saw this coming) and I also got caught by one of the local Rose Bikes guys.  Before too long though we started heading up the side of Sugarloaf for the first time.  Caught and passed the Rose Bikes guy back and got to suffering on the condo access road.  Almost caught the guy I didn't recognize from the start but missed the catch before the top and lost him on the fast washed out descent.  They had us traverse a bit and then head directly back up the mountain.  This was brutal and cruel.  There is nothing quite like turning a corner and seeing a long line of cyclists as far up a hill as you can see slowly death marching away.

look for the segment called 'Worlds Dumbest Race Route' for the climb from hell

This section made me very sad and hot.  I was starting to get worried about fluids because I was sweating a lot and starting to overheat a bit.  I also got caught by 'the guy in mesh shorts' which kind of made me more sad (but he was hiking really strong so good for him).  I had to keep reminding myself that I would probably see these guys again, just get past this and keep moving but I was starting to think that maybe I didn't quite have the same punch this time.  Luckily there was a small aid shortly after that fresh hell of a climb and I snagged a huge cup of cold water that helped a lot.

Then they sent us straight down a crazy washed out double track decent that was probably fine for anyone with suspension but had me assured that I was going to die and literally had my hands cramping about 3/4 of the way down.  I had to switch braking fingers to my middle finger because my index fingers had stopped working.  Just a bit after recovering from my near death hand cramps I was caught by another (different) Rose Bikes guy probably because he didn't have to descend in near death mode.  This really bummed me out because to that point I had spent most of my time getting caught by guys instead of the other way around.  I didn't feel like I was going all that slow but I was getting gobbled up left and right.  Mentally I was on the verge of cracking.  I was getting beat up pretty bad on the pretty consistently gnarly first 20miles and couldn't figure out why I couldn't even hang with a dude in mesh shorts.

I'm beginning to realize that for me the first 20 miles of these races is 'limit your losses' terrain.  Manage your effort, make sure you are setting yourself up for a good second half nutritionally but don't sweat those small gaps.  Easier said than done in the moment though.  Really hard to overcome that "THAT DUDE IS GETTING AWAY" feeling.  That's the trick I guess.  You just have to stay grounded and consistent and over power those thoughts as best you can.

Shortly after this we finally crossed the road and got over to the Bigelow Range side of the course.  Climbing up to the midway aid station I caught the dude in mesh shorts fixing either a flat or a chain.  Unfortunate for him but I'LL TAKE IT.  I'm back in this!  As funny as it seems that was actually a huge mental boost for me.  It immediately reminded me that this is going to be a long day and we're not even halfway yet.  TIME TO SWEEP SOME GUYS UP.

At the midway aid the 50K and 100K courses split.  I didn't know it at the time but Curtis L. had managed to accidentally get himself on the 50K course and ended his day a bit early.  One more spot in the overall, thanks Curtis!  Shortly after the aid at 29 miles we hit what I think for many was probably the make or break point.  A roughly 2 mile exposed logging access road with some sort of light colored gravely surface that was really good at reflecting heat.  I don't think anyone felt good on that thing but some definitely felt worse than others.  Topping out I caught the Rose Bikes guy who got me on the murder descent.  Luckily we turned off that road for a bit more sheltered climbing and shortly after I caught the guy I didn't recognize at the start and another guy I didn't even know was in front of me.

So just like that I went from feeling down and out to broom wagon status and at the time I figured I was now probably riding in 4th or so and feeling strong.  Unfortunately we had some more brutal (for me) chattery high speed descending and the Rose Bikes guy got back to me.  We rode together for a bit and I took the next short little climb as an opportunity to try and get away again.  I got a gap pretty fast and lucky for me there was a long false flat fast single track section that went on for miles with perfect little short punchy ups I could use to balloon that gap a bit.

He stayed close though and was coming into aid 4 as I was leaving.  Maybe 1-2 mins gap at best.  I then saw him again on the short out and back road they sent us on and knew he was still within striking distance.  He knew it too and I knew I needed some out of sight out of mind assistance to finally be clear.  We hit some pretty awesome gnarly terrain around mile 50ish.  Luckily it was mostly flat but you needed technical skills for sure and surprisingly I was able to ride just about all of it clean.  I was hoping maybe he had a few dabs, if you can't keep it consistent in terrain like that it can really take the wind out of your sails.

I was still feeling pretty good and the mileage was starting to tick off and I knew I was getting close to the final feed and that after that it was a carriage road drag up along a river.  I was fairly certain if I could get there with even a slight gap I should be able to hold it.  Got a quick swig of Gatorade and went head down for the next 6 miles.  I was still feeling good, pace felt good.  We even got a bit more purpose built singletrack at the finish that was great, including an awesome switchback climb up to the finish.

Crossed the line and got the sweet sound of the computerized voice telling me my class place was 3rd (Official Results). Say whaaaaaat?!  This is when I saw Curtis in street clothes and found out about his navigational problems.  Needless to say I was pleased.  I managed my race well, overcame some early mental issues and finished strong.  Can't ask for much more.  I'm still trying to decide if this was my favorite 100K course.  As a sum of its parts I think it probably is.  I think there was more consistently fun and interesting terrain in this course than any of the other 100Ks I've done.

I'm sad to report that there was either a communication error or just a goof on my part and I missed out on my podium pic and medal.  I had been sticking around (and even kept my kit on to appease the Bully) but as we got to awards they did a round of the overall classes for mens and womens 50 and 100K and then some awards for the oldest and youngest riders etc. but then they moved on to a raffle.  I thought that was it for awards and they weren't gonna do any more.  So we stuck around for most of the raffle (Shaun won some beer and I got a nice floor pump) but decided to hit the road because it was getting later in the day and we wanted to get down to Portland to hang with Pog and eat a lot of food and drink beer.

Then the next morning I see Team Bikeman tweet the singlespeed podium without me on it.  ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH.  I emailed the promoter seeing if there was any chance I could get my medal shipped out.  Not holding my breath though.  Oh well guess I'll just have to come back and try to do it again.  Hell I'd come back just for the views.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

B&S Brake Adapter

The partybike is back in the stand well on its way to v3.0! I figured I would break the build into a few posts so I could focus on a bit of the weird that is going on this time around.  But before we get into specifics I suppose I'll cover the thought process behind v3.

There was nothing wrong with v2, in fact the 69er version of the party bike worked much better than I could have imagined.  After taking my lashing at the Pinnacle (and dealing with some chronic joint issues this season) I was forced to meditate a bit on what I'm doing to myself.  I ping-ponged back and forth a bit on what I thought I should do moving forward but eventually landed on using my fast/light/rigid bike for my 'important' races which I have now decided are the longer format races I've been doing lately and that I needed a friendlier bike to race the slightly more brutal EFTA courses.

Thats where v3 comes in.  If I was going to race the partybike it was going to need to be a bit more 'normal'.  The 69er worked better than I thought it would but it was still pretty weird to sit on and kind of ridiculous to climb.  So I decided if I was going to race it I wanted to find an adapter to convert the old Trek 22mm direct mount to the more standard IS so I could run disc brakes, I would need disc ready wheels and a decent 26er fork.

The adapter was going to be the tricky part but after a bunch of research I settled on the B&S Brake Adapter.  This thing isn't exactly mainstream, feels more like something a hobbyist made for their own purposes and then a few friends liked the idea and wanted one as well and it gained enough steam after that that maybe they did some sort of limited run of them.

It seems solidly machined, definitely has some heft to it (weight weenies beware).  But I would imagine you'd want this to be solid with the types of braking forces it will be dealing with.

speed holes!

I went with this adapter because many of the other options would have you mounting the brake between the chain and seat stays and many of them required you to do some weird stuff like using a front brake caliper on the rear as well as using a slightly bigger rotor to make up that difference.  Some people also claimed that certain frames just don't have enough room for that to work at all.

This design extends beyond the seat stay and has you mounting the brake where most modern frames have them situated.  They don't guarantee that this works with all frames either but based on pics online I thought I had a pretty good chance.

I wonder why this 22mm design didn't last? Its so conveniently located and easy to work with...

It doesn't come with mounting hardware but I have been wrenching long enough that I have amassed all kinds of extra/spare stuff and I ended up having some bolts that were pretty much perfect.  It took a little bit of time to get things all lined up.  Clearances are a bit tight but it all came together.

I still need to get myself some real hardware for mounting the brake itself.  Right now I am just using some presta valve nuts that ended up being the exact size of brake bolts, go figure.  That was good enough to get things situated and prove that it would work.  I'll hit the hardware store tomorrow for something more substantial.  I'm very interested to get it cabled up to see how solid it feels.  I don't want to jinx it but I think its going to work just fine.

Slapped the rear end all back together and scoured the parts bin to see if I could re-gear a bit bigger.  32x18 was just a tad small for me in general on a 26in bike, more like a climbing gear but the easy change to 32x16  is a little tall for me to stay on top of.  I think I'm at my best/most efficient somewhere in the 48-49 gear inches range.  Unfortunately with the parts I had I couldn't land there with any 'normal' gear configs.  But I did have a 38t ring and my 20t cog that I use for the Pinnacle laying around which gets me just a hair over 49 gear inches.  And it looks kinda funny, which is good.

I'll cover some of my other new parts in the follow up post when I finish the build hopefully later this week.  New fork should arrive by Wednesday I believe.  Good chance I could be racing this at Moody next weekend.

Monday, June 24, 2013

NEMBAfest 2013

I survived.

Always nice heading into a huge riding weekend not knowing if various body parts are going to make it through to the other side.  Even though this is only the second year NEMBAfest has been up at KT we already have a fairly dialed routine.  Shaun and I get up to Burke late morning Friday, get camp set up.  The Dbones arrive shortly after and we get some afternoon shred in.

Shaun and I rolled over to the open field camping area and it was already looking almost as full as it did mid-fest last year.  Good sign.

Friday we did our now 'usual' climb up to Dead Moose, head over to Moose Alley cross to White School and down into town ride.  Somehow I got top 10 on Dead Moose Alley on a fully rigid bike.  For shame, freeriders, for shame.  Moose Alley beat me up good but hands, wrist and shoulder were hanging in there and I was having a blast.  The new stuff over in the White School area is fantastic.  Farm Junk, Sky Dive, Swan Dive all excellent additions.

We rode back up to the expo area and decided to try out the new climbing trail The Shire to get back up to the campground.  There really is no good way to climb that middle section of the mountain and this new trail is no exception.  Fresh grassy fields with a weird incredibly tight technical section thrown in.  We decided to bail before the switchback section and just take the road back up to camp.  Who knows maybe the switch back section is awesome but the first part was infuriating, which grassy fields usually are.

Saturday got off to a non-forecasted drizzle'y start and stayed that way pretty much all day off an on.  Never really rained that hard at any time but by the end of the day things were pretty greasy.  Early on my shoulder and wrist were a bit perturbed and the hands were tender.  But eventually I won out and things stopped hurting.  Body must have given up and just pumped endorphins out.  We did a nice loop courtesy of Mark T's local knowledge.

We were pretty beat Saturday night and the rain started to pick up a bit so cooking around the fire wasn't really an option.  We decided to head back into Lyndon (with probably the rest of the entire 'fest) and grab some grub there.  We found a China Buffet that ended up being perfect.  The hostess/waitress Amy was so incredibly happy and pumped about everything that you couldn't help but smile and have a good time.  They actually have a pretty impressive web presence for a Chinese Restaurant in northern VT (that Amy kept telling us to check out).  We had a blast and the food is good so if you are shredding KT check out the Lyndon Buffet (right across from the Trout River brewery in Lyndonville).

just look at how happy Dustin is...c'mon

I decided to pack it in Sunday and rest the shoulder.  I was concerned with the rain overnight that trails would be pretty slick and my shoulder doesn't handle quick jerky hail mary recovery movements so much right now.  Looks like some pretty big T-storms rolled through there that afternoon and if I had gotten caught in one of those I would have been pretty sad.

Got home and iced things a bit.  Immediately after icing my shoulder it felt horrible.  Worst it has felt in weeks easily.  Then I went to bed and woke up with it feeling the best it has felt in weeks.  No idea what is happening in there.

The brake adapter arrived over the weekend to bring the party bike into the current centuries tech.  I'll be picking up the new wheels this coming Saturday morning.  Guy selling the fork is being weird so hopefully I can figure that out soon.  Either way be on the lookout for a build post coming soon as work begins.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Pinnacle EFTA NECS 2013

Two words.  Rude.  Awakening.

Talk about 0-60mph.  Jumping into 3 laps at the Pinnacle with hardly any time on dirt let alone race efforts is a stiff drink for sure.  For those that don't know I've been dealing with an angry shoulder for several weeks now and I've just gotten things a bit more stable and I felt like I was good to ride/race with things taped up tight.

Due to the shoulder issue I have been trying to stay off dirt and stay quiet to recover, doing mostly commuting and some road miles to keep the fitness from completely falling off.  My fitness isn't horrible right now but I found out pretty quick that my top end is a bit dull and the rest of me hasn't been 'trail hardened' yet.

We had a decent sized SS field and unfortunately for me it was pretty stacked.  The start was pretty fast and I was positioned fairly well for maybe the first 300yds or so then as the first few pitches punch you square in the gut I could feel that the legs were a bit sluggish.  Each pitch the lead group inched away and I wasn't making up any ground in the singletrack.  But I was probably still sitting about 5th-6th of 10 or so.  I was all over the place on the first lap.  Functioning while redlining is one of those things that you also need to build into and my decision making and line accuracy was lacking at first.

The shoulder was holding up and I was starting to settle in.  I got passed on the last fire road climb right before topping out but I was able to pass him back once we started heading back down.  Shortly after that Bully came up behind me like clockwork right before the sustained descending started.  We have a routine where he catches me about there and then I show him how to crash at high speeds in spectacular fashion.  Not sure what he was thinking but he passed me a bit too early and he missed my crash this year.

We were in a pretty good pace line probably about halfway down ripping through a few quick S turns and I came out just a bit wide on the last one and my front wheel got out into the sluff and I took a dive.  Happened so fast I didn't even really let go of the handlebars, just high sided pretty hard and flipped over and rolled down the embankment a bit.  Luckily it was nice soft loam.

Finished up the lap without getting passed back and got back to slogging back up.  Second lap I was riding much cleaner and getting into more of a groove.  Was still feeling pretty sluggish though, no real punch.  By the time I got into the second descent I was starting to get pretty thrashed.  If riding steel is rigid, riding carbon up front is rigid+.  Without a doubt this fork is much more harsh than the Sanko steel Redline fork I was on last year.  But to its credit it may beat the crap out of you but when you point it it locks in and it shreds.  I'm going to have to do some heavy pondering though.  Steel is still pretty accurate when it comes to steering and compared to this fork is down right comfortable.  I'm going to have to decide if the accuracy and weight is worth the punishment.  I'm not making any decisions yet but short term I've got a line on Bully's old red Salsa fork and long term I might need to actually think about suspension...maybe.  Don't hold your breath.

The other thing I sort of took for granted was the callouses that I usually have pretty well built up by this time of year.  No time on dirt means no callouses, combine that with a much more brutal front end and you have a recipe for this.


Luckily adrenaline kept me from really feeling this during the race.  I could feel things getting a bit squishy and I was fairly certain what I was in for when I crossed the line.  And sure enough two big blood stains on the palms of my gloves.  I got right to trying to gross everyone out in the finish area.  I got a lot of "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU" and "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU JUST BUY SOME SUSPENSION"

Held my position for 6th of 10 starters (with one DNF).  My time was about on par with what I usually do on this course although I do think I probably lost more time of the descents than I usually do.  And even with all these issues I still beat an ok percentage of the geared Expert field.  So all in all it was an ok day and the shoulder is holding up well today so I'm gonna chalk it up as a win.  A raw, bloody, squishy WIN.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Coyote Hill 2013 Race Report

This weekend was a giant New England weather cliche.  Big temperature swings, rain, snow, mud. So naturally I decided I should probably race my bike even though I've been nursing a bum shoulder and hadn't ridden a mountain bike since my last race two weeks ago.

Its June next week! #NewEngland

We had been given Friday off due to working commencement so I had two full days to do very little except try to get the shoulder back on terms which I was successful at for the most part.  Range of motion was back, pain was minimal although it still felt pretty junky in there.  I had purchased some KT tape to try and had Gina tape me up while she was still in bed before I left for VT.

KT selfie

I was expecting the stuff to be a bit..stiffer I guess is the word?  It definitely offered some support but I guess I was expecting a bit more.  Initially I was worried it wasn't even going to stay put because it didn't seem all that sticky but it did seem that the longer it was on me the more solid it felt.  Maybe body heat activates the adhesive a bit or something.  I can't really accurately say if it helped or not.  The shoulder didn't hold me back at all which was nice.  As of this morning I have a tiny bit of pain but that was probably inevitable no matter what.  I guess what I'm saying is I have no idea if this tape is effective or not.  It did offer some support so I suppose that is better than nothing?  Although, at a dollar a strip...

ANYWAY. Not sure why I've never done this race before, it is really close to my house in the grand scheme of things and the drive is super easy.  Probably mostly due to my avoidance of sanctioned racing in years past and my focus on the EFTA series.  Kinda bummed now though because this course was a blast.  Even with all the mud and mess it was still probably 65-70% rideable (although slow going) and in my opinion its a great mix of up/down, tech/flow.  Definitely requires a well balanced rider to do well.  If it was dry I would say its one of the better courses in New England for sure.

Still had a pretty decent sized SS field in Cat 2 despite the conditions.  I think we ended up with 8?  A few of the names I recognized from various results sheets and several of us were stronger non-sanctioned racers who top out at Cat 2 due to the whole one day license rule.  I was freezing cold at the start and actually opted to race in my team CSC shell.  I was hoping the Swiss nanotechnology would keep me warm.  It did.

NEMBA Racing all bundled up

The start went up a slight incline (right up the farm's driveway) and then took a right into a field and we immediately hit 1-2in deep watery/muddy grass.  Everyone was completely coated within 2mins.  With that out of the way we got to some racing.  I slotted into second after the initial shakeout.  First sections of singletrack were greasy but doable and I was hoping for more of the same.  We had to do a bit of deep muddy grass climbing followed by a fire road.  I got passed here by Curtis L., I believe he was top 5 at Willowdale so I was expecting this.  Then I got passed by Lane M. a 13-14yr old racing SS.  This I was not expecting.  He was riding the climb incredibly strong and didn't even look that labored.  This worried me. 

I had a few of those "wait a minute, I am a grown ass man.  I can't let this kid beat me!" kind of thoughts.  But I figured I would be able to pass him fairly easily in the more technical punchy terrain.  Which was eventually correct but not after he put on a display of strength and riding ability that had me a bit dumbfounded.  Riding ironman like myself no less!  It was fun to watch and sobering to think that in 20yrs he'll still only be about my age and probably killing everyone.

After moving on from the Lane show, I continued to gobble up geared riders and waited for the eventual catch from teammate Mark.  I often start a bit faster but he typically finishes a bit faster.  Got me around 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the first lap and slowly faded away in some of the muddy tech.  Back half of the course got a bit harder to ride with a few grassy false flat and some steeper sections that were basically unrideable with that soupy slick mud.

yeah soupy grass!

Popped out in one of the fields just down the hill from the start and got a time check from Mark's wife.  Apparently I was still right on him and he was still right on Curtis in second.  Well OK then, this race is only 12mi tops so might as well hurt a little bit.  I tried my best to get on the gas, but that didn't amount to much in those conditions.  I got a good indication of where I was shortly after in a section where you enter a field you can look across and see riders existing into the same field from a small section of singletrack.  I saw Mark exiting as I was entering and I counted it off at about 15-20secs.  Nothing quite like a solid indicator like that to help you hurt yourself a bit more.

This was probably eventually my undoing because I decided I was going to take a few risks and let it run in the singletrack a bit to try and make up the difference.  This was working well and with less traffic things were working out and I thought I might have an off chance of bridging the gap.  I was catching a lot of geared riders again which was a good sign.  But it wasn't meant to be because as I was making two quick passes I took a probably less than ideal inside line on a corner to make a pass and shortly after powering up the next incline I got that tell tale huge increase in traction followed by a wishy-washy feeling.  Looked down and sure enough I was at about 8psi.  Upon stopping I could hear the leak and saw the Stan's bubbling up.  I rotated it to the bottom of the rotation so it would pool up but it wasn't quite sealing.

Got the CO2 out after a bit of bumbling and shot it with some air and jumped right on to try and get rolling and force the Stan's out to the edges.  This worked for a bit but every now and then I could hear air spurting out and eventually it was too soft to ride again.  Hopped off and shot it up again and repeated the process and made it a bit farther but eventually it was soft again and my CO2 was cooked.  I only brought one and decided against bringing a tube due to the short length of the race.  I don't necessarily regret those decisions but I do hate a DNF.  After getting home and cleaning up the bike a bit I found the gash.

thanks a lot...DICK

Just over a 1/8 gash slightly off center to the left and I was turning left when I think it happened.  Doesn't look like much and I think Stan's claims they can seal punctures up to almost 1/4in.  But this one is a bit irregular and with all the water and mud in those conditions I'm not really that surprised.  I ran the course for a bit figuring I didn't know where I was so I might as well just continue on the course and maybe try to just run it in.  But eventually I was getting bored and cold so I started bushwhacking and just b-lining it to the start via GPS.

So I'll be making a gear purchase in the near future, might need brake pads as well.  The rear was getting pretty squishy towards the end.  Next up is my White Mtn century ride and then the Pinnacle in a few weeks, hopefully this got my gear issues out of the way for the season and I'll be ready to make a serious run at the Pinnacle problem free. #knockonwood