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.