Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anniversary of Sorts

Last year Memorial Day Weekend was going great, when on my third ride of the weekend, on the last "feature" of the ride, I fell off a log and hurt right thumb.  At first I thought I could just "walk it off" but when I still couldn't pick up  glass of water the next day I realized I should get it check out.  That sucked.

As I pulled into Sessions Woods on Friday afternoon, I was reminded that this is where things started last year.  A sense of deja vu came over me.
Hopefully the pattern would be broken.

Things started off great; Nassahegan has some of my favorite singletrack in the state.

cool
 cool


When I got to one of my favoritest twistiest tightest sections of singletrack in the world, this is what I found:

NOT COOL!

Every 30 meters or so the trail was disrupted by random "tree work".  To my untrained eye it almost seemed like a vindictive act of retribution by the MDC over the Parking Wars.

Fortunately only about a mile of trail was destroyed...but it was the best mile.

I was soon pacified:




The mile of hike a bike sort of took the wind out of my sails so I skipped the Trout Hatchery loop and called it a day.

Saturday I got in a Kitchen Sink loop from home.  About an hour in I realized I wasn't riding at the intensity I wanted to.  I dropped the hammer...then dropped my chain.  Rather unusual for me. 
On closer inspection I noticed this:

3 Quick links?  How'd that happen? Time for a new chain you cheap fook.

Sunday I wanted to ramp things up a bit.  I don't know if I did or not, but I sure had a lot of fun.  Rode the ol' Sidewinder.   Hot and humid; love it.

Maybe it was the fun factor, but I still didn't feel like I got the intensity  I was craving.  As I was getting ready to ride before the parade, the clouds burst, and the sky was filled with thunder and lightning.  When things cleared would I be too concerned with not getting hurt to ride the res hard?

Hmm...perfect day for a bike with fenders (hey! I've got one of those!). 

Took the Fun Machine out for a quick Hatchet Hill loop.  The mild rollers of the loop and the fixed gear made keeping the level right where I wanted it.  Got home and my legs had that pleasant buzz of exertion.  Perfect.

The cherry on top of a great long weekend...
100% intact and uninjured.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Two words:

Knee beards


Here's a few more:
Sometime on Monday before you loose count of how many beers and (or) hotdogs you've had remember why you have the day off.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pee green soup

I was Promised this:
What I got was this:


I rode the Sunday Princess this morning for a number of reasons:
  1. Top secret training plan  Ha! you thought that I linked you to said plan but I can't; it's secret.
  2. Two water bottles make extendy treats easier in the afternoon.
  3. The Fun Machine is still creaking (I thought it was fixed, but looks like I've got to go deeper)
Had I known (or actually took the initiative to look out the window), I would have gladly dealt with the creak.  The Fun Machine has the full zoot suit Mod complement of blinkies.  At least I could hear out of both ears, but damn! that ride was sketch!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's the economy stoopid

Boo-hoo-hoo, bike racing is expensive!

Race the World is $45 and far away.

D2R2 (not a) Race is $100.

VT50 is $125 and will probably fill (tonight).

When did bike racing get so expensive?

You cheap mofos need to step up and buy some sinks!
(like the Harmonizer)
Things were going well.
I Rambo'd through my set-up work, did a little billing, got a little marketing out in the mail.  Plenty of time to get in a little ride before the Q's baseball game, and or the impending thunderstorms.
Things were still slimy from yesterday's rain, and I had racerboy tires on my bike.  A lot of fun and good practice for Matt's race.
Things were flowing.
As I'm making my way down off the ridge the clouds part and the humidity began to disperse.
Huh?
Where's the doom and gloom they predicted?
Why am I surprised the weatherman is wrong?
That's okay, at least the weather will be perfect for Quinny's game...
except the game is canceled due to the weather  (as much as I wanted to see the Q play, I wasn't psyched about crossing the river at rush hour).
No baseball?  No extendy treats on the bike ride?
Nice call Haney.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rapture


Today was the "Rapture".
In case that meant doom, I figured I better ride my bike.
Yeah, I should be with my family, but they all were sleeping.
I thought in honor of the Giro, I would ride a Giro de Granville, but when Neal in is usual enthusiasm suggested a TdT, what could I do?
I'm a sucker for a good TdT.
Plus if this was really the end, I'd rather be in the woods.
At least that's what I thought before the first flat (Kerry).
I guess the Rapture coincides with the Mosquito hatching, or is that just a sign?
Then I got a flat...
Mental note: Just put a tube in it, if the Stan's didn't work, it's not going to
...promptly put my tire lever through my tube (BBI graduate indeed). 
Then Kerry got another...
and another...

This must be a sign.

But them we went to Moe's and everything was alright.


Rapture averted.
 
Just to make sure, I got a little post-rapture ride in:



On a post apocalyptic side note, I took a trail off the ridge I rarely ride. It's a steep chute along the powerlines that since they built the "new way down" has seen limited traffic (was double track that is now overgrown to single track).  In the worst possible spot were a couple of women hiking, well actually standing as they were not moving.  They stopped me and asked directions.  Although only 1.5 miles from the trail head, they were heading the wrong direction.  They had those far away eyes as I gave them directions back to their car, but at least they didn't hike all the way to 44 (I hope!).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I love riding on days like today.
The rain has scared other trail users away.
The woods mine alone, and by now the trails (my trails) are all but impervious to knobbies.
The colors are so rich and deep; hard to believe the trees were bare less than a month ago.

For giggles, I slapped the RaceKing I won at Orchard Assault, magically transformed into a grown up sized tire  (Thanks Neal!) on the front of an old friend.  Not the best choice for the conditions, but I do love that tire.  Supercalafragalistically fast, with a huge vertical volume.  Perfect tire to race rigid*.  It feels like it's accelerating just rolling.  Not the best on slimy rocks, but fun in between them.  You just need to ride it like you'd drive a Ford Falcon...fast on the straights, idle around the corners.
I hope the conditions are conducive to using it at Matt's race.




*unless trails are slimy and slick...like today

Kudos & Musings: Winsted Woods & the State Championships

First off thanks to Biker's Edge, Robert Carmen,  and Jill and Chris Logan for their tireless efforts in  throwing a great event (and series).  The weather was a wildcard that they really had to think on their feet for.

Now the nitty gritty...

What I liked about Winsted Woods:
  • The course.  It has the most elevation gain of any race in CT, and is arguably the most technical.
  • The spirit.  Biker's Edge had "spirit squads" throughout the woods offering cheers and friendly jeers to the racers.  Nice touch.
  • Organization.  It was raining.  Things moving smoothly reduces the PITA factor of the weather.
Nits I would pick*:
(*These nits are served with a big glass of STFU.  Since I'm not taking my free time to organize a race and State championship for some idiot with a blog to complain about, I have no right to say boo)
  • The course.  I like the Winsted Woods of old.  The big rocky climb was a demoralizing soul crusher that I personally enjoyed.  Breaking up the climbing, while more interesting, made it too easy.  Even when it was dry it was evident that the two fresh cut climbs would be sketchy once they saw some traffic, which might be more a SS specific nit because I was worried about getting caught behind a geared rider spinning up them in their granny and have to run.   As we saw once they were wet even the Pros were running.  Before it was cut down for safety I thought the laps were too short. 
  • Reducing the number of laps.  I think it would have still been a reasonable amount of time at the original lap count.
Well that's it for pointlessly whining about other people's hard work and decisions at WW.

As far as the State Championships go, I think the races  chosen were good.  Winding Trails is a less technical power course with minimal elevation contrasting with the more hilly technical nature of Winsted Woods; I think they balance one another out well.  If I were giving up my time so some snarky jerk could win a medal, I'd see about making it more than just a 2 race mini series.  Maybe even expand it to all the CT races so it would be even more well rounded.  Possibly have one throw away; I know mechanicals, and having to miss one of the races for personal reasons possibly had an effect on the final outcome (but as they say, "That's racing").

Just my thoughts, but again
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who worked so hard bringing us these events!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

See what I'm talking about












I think I'm done with the bikes and all about the strudel...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thievery

 TJ's better half made me look good so I thought I'd blatantly steal from them and share:

TJ just made me look goofy (or maybe I do that all by myself)

Priorities: Winsted Woods 2011 & CT State Championships


Winsted Woods was the second in the 2 race Connecticut State Championship mini series.  I was the highest placed Cat1 SS rider from Connecticut at Winding Trails (series race #1), so Winsted was high on my list of priorities.
We had beautiful weather all week long; on my pre-rides, I actually thought the course was a little too dry.
But this is racing in New England, so weather will always be a factor...and of course it was.
As I began to get ready, it began to pour, then my Mom called.

Mom:  What time is your race, it's an important one isn't it?   We were thinking of coming up to support you?

Me: 11:30 AM.

Mom: Oh, I don't know if we'll make it on time.

Me:  Mom, I don't even want to go out in this.   You don't want to stand in the pouring rain for 2 hours.

Mom: Hmm, you'd better get going or you'll be late.

Me: Yeah, I suppose...
A positive attitude hard at work

The drive out looked like this:

Before we get into it, here's another conversation I had over the weekend:

Me:  State Championships are tomorrow.

My Daughter Lillian (LB): and?

Me: I have a good chance at it.

LB: Do you win anything?

Me: Probably a medal

LB:  That's it?

Me:  Yes, but if I do well I might win something in the regular race, maybe enough to buy burritos

LB:  Oh!  Good luck!  I hope you do well!

Priorities became clear.

Fortunately it wasn't cold.  I debated if I should wear a rain "cape" for the race or not, and at the last minute pulled the old "Hold my bike" on Kerry.  The conditions were nothing like they had been during the week.  Hard pack was now greasy, and the fresh cut loamy stuff was churned into a fine unrideable slurry.
The first climb I thought I had made a critical mistake in my rear tire choice; it felt like it took 1 1/2 pedal strokes to equal 1.  But I made it, and it turns out the sections I had to run (some might call it running), everyone had to.
My front tire choice was spot on and I'm pleased to say I stayed upright throughout the race.
As I caught rider after rider, I began to think I must be having a good day.  I kept wondering if the leader of the 40-49 age group would catch me but it never happened.
The first lap I rode both jumps, on the second and third I rode the ride-around on the first jump as it wasn't really much slower and I had a gap.  After the James Harmon Flight School training I had on Saturday, I rode the 2nd jump all three times.
It wasn't pretty.
In the end I caught all but two of the riders who started before me (except for the Pros of course) and was third fastest Cat1overall winning the Singlespeed class on Bl├╝Steel, my rigid Singular Swift; sometimes simple is the best solution (the preceding was brought to you from the shameless plug department).


The spoils of victory

On a side note, I watched "Inglorious Bastards" yesterday.  There is a scene in it where Colonel Hans Landa orders strudel for himself and Shoshana.  That strudel  has stuck in my head.  On the drive home from the race the idea of coffee and strudel seemed very appealing.  I stopped at a Starbucks.  I knew I wouldn't get strudel, but the coffee is good.  I couldn't even get in the door because two bus loads of private school kids had just been dropped off there.  Then I remembered The Coffee Trade, they might actually even have strudel, but no, they were closed (even though their website says they're open until 5:00PM, tsk, tsk).  Tried one more bakery in the valley but alas, they too were closed.

Is strudel too much to ask for?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beat

I've been reading a little about the whole idea of quality time on the bike versus quantity.
Always seemed to make sense.
My only problem is getting the quality rest needed to go along with it.
I ride a bike because it is fun, and the idea of thinking too much about it or adding too much (any) structure to it, or not riding on a beautiful day because it's a "rest day" just doesn't sit well with me.
In preparation for Winsted Woods, I came up with this route to squeeze as much climbing as I could out of the res without getting totally redundant.
I rode it last Thursday and was pretty spent by the time I reached the final climb. 
I did it again today.
I t was my sixth day riding in a row.
Time to rest hard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I don't like cartridge bearings.
BBI ingrained upon me the disposable nature, and lack of adjustment made them inferior to loose balls.
My personal experience has been they are generally reliable, but my preference is still loose balls.  Plus I like to say "loose balls".
But there is always an exception to the rule and my front wheel is it.  The Formula hub seems to goes through bearings with the lunar cycle.  It was a cheap way for me to finally get into disc brakes.  It wasn't always that bad, but after 4 years, I guess the tolerances are getting sloppy (like my work bench).

But the list of performance loose ball mountain bike hubs is very short.  Very short indeed.
Short but sweet.

I sold the Niner carbon fork BluSteel was sporting for a couple of months. Due to the high demand of light weight plastic things my loss was more like a 2 month rental fee. It's found a home on what sounds to be a pretty high zoot rig down South.
I was thinking I'd have a nice little cycling funds nest egg for a while, but when a screaming good deal on a wheel with the best loose ball hub came down the pike, I just couldn't resist.
Here's to loose balls!

(loose balls...tee-hee)

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's becoming ordinary


The Tour de Talcott, aka TdT.
Once was a special epic ride.  Now it's routine.
Don't get me wrong, I loves me some TdT, it's just not the special occasion it once was.
But if you want to do a 30+ mile mountain bike ride on some of Connecticut's best singletrack, it's hard to beat.
There are more pristine and or technical trails, but the TdT really give you the flavor (flayva) of what mountain biking in CT is all about.  Some sections are beat down, there is a little pavement involved, but there are also two water fountains so you don't need to wear a hydration pack if that's not your bag (water's turned on now btw).   You'll probably see some other trail users too, but for the most part they are friendly and used to mountain bikers.
Sections of the route are some of my favorite singletrack.
Period.
 
I like my routine.

Neal balancing at the overlook

How can yo not love a ride with chimneys

Fun feature
Overlook on clear day

Friday, May 6, 2011

Little things are big to Charlie


I put a new cog and newish chain on the Fun Machine.  So smooth and quiet.  I almost feel like I'm getting away with something.  Like when you're doin' it in the room next door to your parents.  Feels so good!

But how cool is my new bell! 



Let's not forget those who have done so much for us (no matter what we try and get away with in the next room).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

OCD

I have issues.
This week I have repeatedly and periodically checked the UMass Bike Racing website to get the official results.
I know the outcome, but that's not good enough.
I need to pour over the results and run mathematical equations.
I not only need to know how I finished in my own race, but how I finished overall, and within my age group.  What were my lap times, and how did that compare across the board.
(should I be using a question mark or is that a statement?)
But I get to add a twist to my math this time; the "what if" factor.
Burping my tire cost me a little over 2 minutes (I need to work on that), so I get to run the numbers from a second angle.
Fun, fun, fun.

How can someone be so obsessive have a workbench that looks like this:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Milestone

Today I broke the $100 saved on gas mark.  Took longer than I though it would for various reasons and excuses.
I doubt the second hundred will take very long at all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Doomed: Orchard Assault Race Report



My rear brake had been feeling squishy.  Going all the way to the bar before any real action.  I did the sensible thing and bought the Hayes "Pro" brake bleed kit.  I hate to say nice things about Avid as I had nothing but troubles with my Juicy 5s (BB7s have always been and still are awesome), but compared to Avid's bleed procedure there is nothing "Pro" about the Hayes method.  I finally resorted to modifying my Avid bleed kit to use on the Stroker Grams.
In the stand, the bleed was a rip roaring success.  Lever was nice and firm, contacting the rotor 15-20 mm from the bar.
Go for a shake down ride (the day before the race), everything is feeling fine, then nothing.  Lever goes to the bar.  If I pump it eventually I get brakes, but this is no good.
Come home, pull the pads and squeeze to lever a couple of times.  The outer piston is moving, but the inner is frozen.  Give them a squirt of screw loose, couple more squeezes, outer piston comes shooting out of the caliper.

Oops.

Now what?
I'm screwed.

But wait!  Sitting on the bench, eager to serve is my sweet Mary Jane.
A hushed "put me in coach" echos through the basement.
I could steal her brakes and put them on BluSteel, which seems like quite a lot of work on a Friday evening, or I could choose the path of least resistance, and steal BluSteel's wheels.

Easy wins.

Saturday, race day, arrives.  Have a lovely morning with the family, and head up to Amherst.
Somewhere along the way the boys and girls at UMass neglected to say there is no sign for N. Pleasant St. on rt9.  I end up driving to Pelham before I become suspicious.
At this point I'm getting tense.  I have a little talk with myself:
this is supposed to be fun and just take it as it comes.  
Easy for you to say I reply.

I get a 2:29 warm up.

I lined up at the back with another singlespeeder, Mark,  figuring we'd be sent off in waves but that is not the case.  They give the Pros a minute or 2 head start, then all the Cat1 men, women and children will go off together.

Whatever...supposed to be fun.

Jill sounds some anemic little air horn and we're off up the first climb.

I'm doing a reverse holeshot.
supposed to be fun, enjoy riding your bike.

Riding unfamiliar trails on a bike I haven't ridden in the woods in 8 months...excuse me, racing unfamiliar trails on a bike I haven't ridden in 8 months.
Things are tight and twisty, and Mary Jane is twitchy.

As I make my way through traffic, passing in a corner, I burp my front tire.  I continue to ride, but it is really low, like Winter riding in snow low.  Can I nurse it for seven laps?
Better not try.

Pull over, yank off my gloves, grab my inflator, fumble with my valve (the whole core is turning!) press the inflator on, give it a twist...why won't it twist all the way?
Because in your anal-retentiveness you taped it on to the CO2 cartridge to prevent it from unscrewing and falling off.
Take the tape off, inflate the tire rock hard minus a tinch and I'm off in dead F'ing last.

(or so I thought, Alby broke his chain, fixed it with no tools and would charge passed me in a couple of laps).

supposed to be fun, enjoy riding your bike.

Slowly I'm reeling people back in.
The first lap was just a blur.

But that's okay, because I have 6 more to go.

On the backside of the course there is a climb.  A switchbacky brute of a climb.  lap 2 I felt very weak on this Mutha.  I make a deal with myself, if I ride it 6 times I can walk it the seventh.

Slowly catch more riders.  As the course winds back upon itself, I'm crossing Craig's path in approximately the same spot.  So either I'm riding pretty consistent laps or both Craig and I are fading at the same rate.

As I work my way up through the ranks, making passes stick is getting harder.  Sure I can get them on the climbs, but this course is up /down /up /down, so I need to really make it stick on the ups, or we're just yoyoing about.

At about the 1 hour mark, I consciously make an effort to finish my first bottle and tell myself to not be shy with the second.

Sixth lap, I get to the Mutha,  I clean it.  My contract is fulfilled, I can walk it next time as need be.

I'm beginning to lap people (most of the Pro field have lapped me); I feel really bad for them as they still have to do one more as people are BSing around the finish line.

Last lap.  One more time up the Mutha and it comes up on you quick.  I feel like I'm going to fall over, getting light-headed...but I ride it.  As far as I'm concerned the rest of the lap is just gravy.

Cross the line...in first.
Now in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, there were only 3 guys on singlespeeds (third guy was on a Spooky with tubulars).  This surprised me, because some very fast guys from MA have been tearing up the Root 66 series.  But a win is a win.

I won a juvenile sized tire, that Neal from Central Wheel, who won an envelope full of cash for finishing 3rd in the Pro class, is going to try the ol' Yankee Swap for an adult sized tire.

A couple of notes:
  • How come there are so many homeless people in Amherst MA?  Every shopping plaza had someone with a cardboard sign.
  • On the ride home I was fantasizing about what sugary delight I was going to treat myself to when I got home.  In the end what I really wanted was oatmeal.
  • Wholefoods' oatmeal is way better than Stop & Shop's
  • Counting to 7 is hard
  • Amherst must be a great place to live, because the traffic sucked
  • I was going to run a 33x19, but because of the bike switch, it was a 32x19...thank God!
  •  Umass said 22.4 miles, Garmin says 13.7.  I don't think either of those numbers are correct.



Not Doomed, but Damned; these geezer still rock wicked hawd!