Monday, July 30, 2012

Winsted Woods / CT State Champs 2012

Let's get right to it shall we...

The whistle blows and we're off.  After missing the call up I lined up behind Rob Carmen counting on him getting off the line quick.

He didn't disappoint.
Crossing the field I'm in the top five, rounding the corner into the woods I'm in second wheel.

Going up the first double track climb I'm feeling pretty go.  I'm right on the Expo Wheelman rider's wheel who is leading.  I move to the rough line of the double track to pass.  Seeing as it is double track and I'm taking the less than ideal line I do not call my pass.  The dude chops my line.

Really?  Your racing Cat 1 MOUNTAIN BIKE and you're chopping people's lines?

He chopped my line bad enough for me to put a foot down, but I maintain my position.

Keep trying to get around him, even calling my pass, but he's shutting me down.  At this point it's not intentional on his part; I just can't get around him between his trail blocking dabs.  I should have backed off to get a better view of the trail and where he was going

In the melee I must have struck a rock as my rear tire is going soft.  I try to ignore it and hope it's my imagination but at the bottom of the first rocky descent it is flat.  I stop, watch everyone pass me and hit it with CO2.

I'm watching sealant bubble out of the rim bead.  That can't be good.


The game plan was to go for it, if my stoopid light rear tire failed me, drop out.  I've got to get back to the finish line to do that so I might as well race until it goes flat again.
It doesn't feel like racing anymore as it is the first lap and I'm all alone in the woods.  All alone but not in the good way.  Things are feeling sluggish.
But I don't really have anything better to do today so might as well press on.

What's this?
It's the back of my field.
I'm gaining on them, and by some miracle my tire is holding air.
I pull back about 3 guys on the first lap.

Lap 2 I get the line chopper and some of the 30-39 year olds.

The course is holding up well and there are only a couple of spots I have to run.

Lap 3 pull back some more guys in my group.  Mike Rowell has flatted out and is without CO2.  I offer him my second cartridge but he tells me to just go.

I pull back a few more.

Lap 4 the rain has started again.  Things are now getting soupy.  Very much like last year.  Mike has hiked up the course a bit as I pass him on the sideline he yells "he's just up ahead".

Who is?

At this point I'm not exactly sure where I stand, but as I get to the farmer's field before the final descent I see an Expo jersey up ahead.  Could that be the leader?  Could I be catching him?

Ah no, that's a woman.


Final descent.  cross the line and there's nobody there?

Josh Wilcox, winner of the Cat1 SS is there, but I don't see anyone from my class.  It's raining so maybe they ran for cover?  Finally, Dave Diviney comes up to me and tells me "I think you are second, I think I won".  A quick peak over Jill's shoulder confirms this.

Instead of quitting I got 2nd place.

After going for a 2 hour training ride before the race Craig pulls off 3rd on his trail bike.

my nose always looks really big at Winsted Woods.

Was the gamble worth it?  Did the light, fast rolling tire pay off in the end or did it cost me?  Strava says it took 59 seconds to fix my flat, David beat me by 41 seconds.  Senseless speculation as who knows what would have happened if I was duking it out at the front instead of chasing from the back.

Anyways, great way to spend a rainy Sunday.

Props to Neal for winning the Pro race/CT Champs and James for 4th overall/bronze in the CT champs.  Great job guys!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In it to win it
All or nothing
Go big or go home
You can't win if you don't play

Yeah, I'm probably going to regret this...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where's Charlie?

After a tumultuous week I had to make a decision:

Spend all afternoon at Wrath of the Boneyard.


Bring the Q to one last baseball game of the Summer

Q wins.

I did get a few hours of reflective solitude in before though.


Working on the course had taken more time than anticipated, and I couldn't bear the Q spending another beautiful day in front of the computer whilst I stroke my ego.

On that note:
Thanks to everyone who made Wrath of the Boneyard happen, especially Fabian for the countless hours he and his family devoted to put on such a great event.

Fabian, you are the Man!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I went riding today (there's a shocker).
I ran out of water about 16 miles into 21.  That left me climbing the last hill without a drink.  I could have opted out as I was about 1/2 mile from the trailhead when I turned to go back up to the ridge.
Descending down the powerlines on the West side, I'd hit pockets of hot damp air. Not warm, but hot.   Like when you open the dryer before the cycle is done.

I've been traveling with a cooler full of bottles this week; never have I been so pleased to have extra water to dose myself with.

But relief from the weather is promised.

I don't know how I feel about that.

Last year Wrath of the Boneyard took place during a heat wave.  Between the heat and the rugged nature of the course, I think it was somewhat demoralizing for some.

I like that..

This year I'll only have the rocks.

Wrath of the Boneyard's Coming

Fabian's investing the sweat equity to make this year's Boneyard more awesome awesomeness.  Puttin' the "Bone" back into Boneyard.

Don't worry though we left plenty of Bonyard "character" for you

I only hope our Kid's course isn't too AWESOME!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For Royce

As we were cooling off in the stream after Bikes For Bovines, Royce and I got to talking.
It began innocently enough discussing the lack of modesty of bike racers.

When you first start you are trying to find a secluded spot to get changed, or try to change in your car, or god help you if you think about changing in a port-a-let.

By the end of your first season, you are virtually standing naked in the middle of a parking lot.

The conversation took a turn from there.


"You never talk about poop on your blog" Royce exclaimed.

"I'm sure I've spoke of poop" I retorted.
"Maybe I'll write a post about today's evacuation, it was a double.  I felt empty" I added.
(a regular, health digestive track is essential to peak performance.  Most athletes don't need to give this a lot of thought because generally we eat fairly healthily, and the physical activity moves things along)

But a quick scan of my memory banks yielded a post about such matters less than a month ago, so I guess we're good for another month or so before we have to retouch this topic.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bikes For Bovines 2012

Ah, New England.
Land of steady habits, abandoned bridges and awesome bike racing.

They redid the Bike for Bovines course this year; instead of the 4 mile ass-grinder of a loose fireroad climb (which I loved) and the 2 mile flat to downhill bike path (which I loathed) it was 90% singletrack (baby!).  Being a New Englander, I am resistant to change, and as much as I disliked part of the old course, I was reluctant to accept the new one.

There was a low prereg for the Cat1 SS class,  so I signed up to race with my peers.  The Junior Geezers as I like to call them (us).  the Cat1 40-49 has been consistently one of the largest and fastest groups on the racing scene.  From who showed up today that looked like it would be the case again.

The whistle blows and I do a spectacular reverse holeshot to about 10th place.  Swinging around the first tight fireroad turn, it seems I'm holding my ground okay. I actually feel I can go a little faster than my multi-speed compadres.   I swing into the rough and grab a few spots.

Another sweeper and the course begins to climb.

Climbing?  I love climbing!
These are just shallow pitches but they are enough to equalize things a bit.
Grab a couple more spots and cross the street.

Now the real climbing begins.
Other than the Start/Finish which is probably about a half mile of double-track, and a few connectors here and there, the rest of the course is singletrack.  But it's pretty passer friendly.  On a the wider switchbacks I grab a couple more spots.

I have the leaders in sight.  MKR has a little gap on RC, and I have a clear shot to RC's wheel.
On the longest climb I claw my way up to him.  Meanwhile Mike has done what  Mike does; lit the afterburners and got out of sight.

Rob leads most of the first lap, but on the tight little brute near the end of the lap, he lets me take over second spot.

This is short lived as we swing on to the fireroad, and he goes clicky-clicky.

But as the climbing starts I reel him back in and pass him back.  I'm getting little gaps on the climbs, but the effort must be taking it's toll, because I repeatedly dab, loosing anything I have gained.

That's okay.  As long as I can stick with him, maybe on the last lap I can make it stick.

Rob decides it would be in his best interest not to see my plan pan out, and as we swing towards the Start/Finish he lays down the watts and gets himself a good sized gap before we start climbing again.

Okay, time for damage control.  I'm still on the podium, let's keep it that way.  As long as I can keep RC in sight, I know I'm racing well.  I'm getting glimpses of him on the switchbacks and through the trees.


On the forth lap up the biggest climb I see him ahead of me.  I'm pulling him back!  This is awesome!

I bang my handlebar against a tree, and knock myself off my bike.  Guess I'll have to run it this time.

But I'm still gaining on him!

Ah, no, your gaining on one of his teammates from another age group.

But the rearview's clear and I finish in third.
(and narrowly escaped being lapped by the Honey Badger)

The new course is great.  Super fun.  It and Grafton Pond have really raised the bar.
Change is good.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How is it a 350 mm post does not have enough extension in a medium sized frame to provide the proper saddle height for a tiny little man?

Even with the EBB in the "no-zone"

the minimal insertion line is playing peek-a-boo

What is the world coming too?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I decided since Aspasia* was so light ("only" 2 pounds heavier than RC's geared HT) I should man up and put a smaller cog on her.  In reality I was just going back to my "regular gear".

As I was ascending "West side to the ridge with all the good stuff" I was beginning to think I had made a mistake.  It was really hard...

and really hot!

You lie Scott Haney.
Sure it might be a beautiful day but I was dying.

I reached the top and began to ride the ridge.  I started feeling a little better now that I was in the trees.

Pushing my bike into the corners, tossing her around (like your sister) , feeling the flow.

When I got home and began my metric geek-athon, my suspicions were confirmed.  It had, at least briefly, reach the mid 90s °F.

Right at the worst possible moment.

Maybe I'm not a total weakling (maybe not).

*why Aspasia?  So much more family friendly than "My Dirty Little Whore"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Aspasia: An Extremely short term review

How does it ride?

Much like a bike.

"Aspasia" is more than 2 pounds lighter than Blu.2.  I can't say I really notice the weight difference other than carrying it out of the basement.  

I wrote that yesterday.  My opinion changed today.

On Saturday I was riding with a bent rotor for the last 2/3rds of the ride (18 miles) so essentially was riding with my rear brake on.
Maybe I was a little "off" on Sunday, because after the ride I took a 2 hour nap and needed 2 cups of coffee just to go on a 2.6 mile hike with the Q.
Today, I can say the lighter weight did make a difference.  Especially on slow technical features.  I found I was able to crawl up rocks, manhandling the bike, cleaning things I rarely clean.  The only climb I did not make was the first steep after you cross Wintonbury Rd., and there was some jerk park in a Honda at the bottom of it (excuses, excuses).  Everything else was cake.  I even pulled myself off bad line with brute force (stop laughing)  and determination.  The hike-a-bike along the fence after res.6 was a "joy" with the lighter weight.

I can't say I noticed any harshness.  Low pressure tubeless 29" tires probably help this, but Cannondale has been doing Aluminum for a long time, so I think they are pretty adept in it's application. I've always loved how my Cannondale road bikes have ridden, so I guess this should come as no surprise.

The added steering precision of having a tapered steerer nestled inside a Foster's can of a headtube is not the hype I thought it to be.  I figured "what difference would this added stiffness make to someone my size" but it does provide a level of confidence that the front end will be going in the direction it is pointed.  At speed it held its line well.

The Carver fork falls in between the uber stiffness of a Niner carbon fork, and the compliance of the Waltworks.  It offers all the precision of the Niner, but with greater vibration damping.  Not quite on par with the Waltworks in the latter, but more so of the former.  It's as light as they say it is too.

The manufacturing tolerances of the Carver are not up the same standard as the others.  The brake bosses were not perfectly square requiring the use of concentric washers to align the caliper (Hayes brake do not use such hardware) which bolts to the fork via captive threaded barrels (think seatpost hardware) that spins freely making threading the bolts something of a pain.  But these are my only manufacturing gripes with the fork, and otherwise it is sound.  Can't beat the price.

The Cannondale EBB, although well made, and thus far silent, seems like it will be a major PITA.  When I have gone to move it, it has taken a major effort.  I guess this is better than slipping, but I don't think I should need to get out the rubber mallet just to change cogs.  There might be some trick to this, but it's not in the pdf.

These first initial rides have been very positive.  This was going to be my HT, but since my suspension fork fits the Swift, I guess that's the direction we'll go in.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Damn you Will Crissman!

WC showed up at Putney with a sweet new Commonwealth frame.  What was unusual about it was it was made in Massachusetts and was not Steel or Titanium!  It was the black sheep of custom bike frame materials...Aluminum (shudder...).

I've never been a soap box kinda guy when it comes to frame materials.  It just turns out most of the frames I have ridden offroad have been steel.  Since 1997, with the exception of a brief stint on carbon, I've been on steel.

In 1994 I built up a sweet Cannondale.  I did C'dale's frame swap program and traded in a POS Centurion for a "Killer V".  It was (is) a great bike.  I had it pimped out with Onza HO brakes and Topline Cranks.  But I fell in love with a rigid steel Stumpjumper.  It was the last of it's kind.  But no one was buying, and when it's price dropped to what we were going to spend on a bike for Mrs. CB2, I offered her my Killer V which she graciously excepted,

The maiden ride on the Stumpjumper was the first time I cleaned the Old Gasline Climb; a steep loose rock little brute.  How I was able to make this climb on a rigid bike that was almost 3 pounds heavier was beyond me.

Love story lalala.

In 2001 I decided to take racing more "seriously", the Stumpjumper was too heavy to race (the frame weighed all of 4 pounds) and got the carbon frame...which I seriously broke in a race.  Then I got another which broke Just Riding Along.  When it was replaced I sold it, and stuck with steel.

Anyways, WC brought Al back into my consciousness.

Then I saw a really light, really cheap European branded Al frame on ebay.  With a little creativity or a tensioner I could build up a cheap light singlespeed HT.

Someone else got to it first.

But I had been in communication with the seller, and he had another he could sell for the same small money.
I was all set to pull the trigger when a Cannondale Caffeine 3 with an EBB popped up.  Cannondale; I've heard of them.  Almost as small a monies as the RCZ (ever heard of them?).

I snatched it up.

My plan as always to do it on the cheap.  I'd use my spare wheels, my Manitou Minute fork, and parts off the dearly departed to build it up.  I ordered a reducer headset off ebay.

Then I noticed how long the Cannondale's headtube was.  Too long for any steerer on any fork I own.

So now I needed a fork.  Bikeman had their housebrand, Carver.  They have an all carbon, tapered steerer, stupid light fork for a nice price, so I got one.

Now I needed another different headset and now my econo racer had almost tripled my initial projected budget.

The frame showed up, was better than the seller described, and I started to transfer parts on to it.  When I got to the seatpost, the hole looked awfully big.  My 1994 C'dale uses a 27.2 post, my 1997 C'dale road frame used a 27.2,  The Sunday Princess uses a 27.2.

This frame does not.

Friends came through with a loaner until the next unexpected expense arrives.

For the record, my total expenditure was less than a new brand name frame.  Even a less expensive brand name frame.  Or a decent wheelset.   Just the moneyball started rolling a lot faster than I was expecting.

Review and pictures tomorrow.

Monday, July 2, 2012


I had my afternoon snack, but I was still hungry and I only had about a half hour until my ride home.
I really should have something light, but I was out of fruit and I had had my fill of rice cakes for the day.
But I was really hungry.

So I had a bagel with cream cheese.

Then I was really full, and it was time to go home.

Delightful afternoon for a ride.  The humidity had dropped since the weekend and the temps were only in the 80s *F.  Pretty good head wind (when isn't there?), but the soothing azure made grinding into it a pleasure.  No KOM hunting just a scenic trip from point A to B.

Then a gurgle.

A rolling rumble.


Problem with commuting by bicycle, avoiding heavy traffic areas is sometimes you just have to hold it.

I think I need a camera

The Nass was absolutely fooking be-u-tee-full this morning.
Unfortunately I lack the ability, patience and equipment to capture that.

and my personal fav

Crappy photos aside, the Nass sure beats riding back and forth up exposed gravel roads in 90 *F heat and humidity (which are conditions that actually suit me quite nicely)..