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.