Monday, October 4, 2021

CT50 2021

After the disappointment of last weekend, there were mixed emotions about the CT50.  I cracked hard and was more than a bit down on myself.

So I did what any rational person would do.

Chinese plastic, a perfectly sane decision

With a degree of clarity, all systems were go.

The CT50 rules clearly state you must consume at least one donut before the start.  The consumption of said mandatory donut also acts as your waiver dismissing said organizers of all responsibilities.

A lot of this

photo credit: Anthony

Anthony displaying how everyone's forearms looked.

the mortification of the flesh. Photo Anthony

But you gotta give a little blood as a toll for the tunnel

Everyone managed to find the A line which meebe qualified as a B line

Except Alpaca, he found the C- line

It wouldn't really be right if there wasn't #mountainpizza

Water stop at mile 46

 This year's edition was nearly mechanical free.  Carl managed to not flat until mile 49, and all my headset adjustments were made as we regrouped.  The Horst boys declared the CT50 "harder than any NUE" they had done.  I don't know about that, but it is 85% singletrack.  Connecticut doesn't have any huge climbs so a lot of the legacy trails just go straight over hills.  Janky traprock hills.  

Alpaca ran a 34x19, I ran a 34x20 and Sean a 32x20.  On the last awful climb, extra washed out per record rains this year, Alpaca literally ran with his 34x19, yet was still moving faster than Sean or I.

My official speed sensor mileage was 53.5 miles.  There's a lot more trails in there.  Who's up for a CT100k?

official finisher stickers

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

VT50 2021; Not the words I wanted to write

 VT50 has been my #1 priority since 2014.  A beautiful, challenging course for a great cause.  

I hesitate in writing this because I need to take responsibility for my choices.  I chose how I handled the final month before my goal of the season.

Thus is how it went:


actually more like this


Everything started as expected.  Shot out the back descending from the mountain, clawing back spots on the climbs, forced dismount on the conga line climb, then things finally open up.

The climbs are always hard, but today they are really hard.  Well they are their usual hard, I'm just really slow.  The dorkometer says I'm not working that hard.


This is a race guy.

I rejoin Alpaca and ask how he's feeling as I'm not great and he's usually up the road.  I tell him I think this is becoming a ride for me and not a race.  Next upward pitch, he smiles and pedals away.

It's getting harder and harder to maintain my off pace pace.

Then I blow through a corner in the dark and have to walk a hill I usually ride.

Just watching the HR go lower and lower.

Maybe I should stop watching?

On the descent to Skunk Hollow, I accepted I don't have another 4 hours in me. I rode off course and to Peter's car.  I had planned on just letting him know, I was out and riding back to the condo, but he insisted he give me a ride as he had time to kill before meeting Alpaca and Monte at Greenall's.  In retrospect I'm glad he did.

Got back to the condo, showered and booked.  Got home before most of my friend's finished.  Collapsed deflated.

Back to back race weekends followed by 27 hours of moving boxes is not how you prepare for a 50 mile mtb race.  At least that's my guess.  Went for a Covid19 test yesterday just to make sure I wasn't a special breakthrough case (I'm not).

Right now I'm not much feeling like putting all or even any eggs in this basket next year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Landmine Classic 20th Edition


Landmine is one of the biggest mtb events in the Northeast.  For some it is the only mtb event  It was unclear if we'd be competing in this year's because of other exciting events going on in my Lovely's life,  Well it was unclear to me, she was adamant that we were.

Because of certain global happenings it was pre-reg only.  There were more people signed up in the CAT1 50+ than CAT1 SS class (a lot more!), but being an elevationally challenged course the singlespeed class would be a better.  Judging by who was already registered, John Skarupa and Ted Yobaccio, it was quality not quantity.

Race day comes, yadda yadda yadda, drive into the sun

 and they line up the CAT1s in two big groups: Pto/Elite and Younguns, then Geezers, Women, and SS. The SS crew slips to the front on the outside.   They count us down and we're off.  
I grab John's wheel on the perimeter of the field and as we turn to the wide singletrack / narrow doubletrack I use the mechanical advantage of my stupid gear to get to the front.  

Age group riders are using their even bigger gears and swarming around me left and right, but for a glorious mile, I'm in the lead.  Then John is warmed up enough to spin his tiny gear up to magic speed and begins to float away.

I'm keeping him within 7 or 8 yards (this is a Merican event so we use Imperial Measurement), we get to Prospect Hill the gap begins to close a bit as we are taking shitty lines grinding up past the geared riders.  Nearing the top, John slips between a couple riders, spinning his enchanted gear to great effect, quickly growing the gap.

At this point there are still a lot of riders in close proximity, it's hard to know who is in which class.  I'm in second and the ol' dorkometer says I'm right where I should be for a XC length race.

Yo-yoing back and forth with geared riders, staying with them when they are keeping a good pace, passing them when Wompy's rocks and roots trip them up.
With the gear I'm running you have to commit to a line and let it run it's course; there is no subtlety to 34x17.

With the next group of riders that surge up to me is Ted who catches and passes me.  "Ok, this is fine " I think "I'll hold his wheel for the next 20 miles and sprint him for second"..."and lose because you can't hold a sprint".

We come to a short steep grunt of a hill side by side, at the lip he spins out, yet I maintain traction.

Trying not to squander this opportunity, I put my head down in hopes of getting out of sight.  I think I have the bigger gear so every open stretch I try to capitalize.

Maybe it's working?

I'm mostly catching people, so it's hard to tell if people I see behind are coming and going.  

About 1:40 in another group comes forward...with a familiar orange helmet; TED!
Fortunately we are just getting to some more rocks which seem to be working for me and I'm in the front, so Ted has to deal with any bad line carnage from those around him.

Ok.  1:40.  The last time I did this race it took me about 2:00, the longest it ever took was 2:10ish I think, so I only have :20-:30 to go.  I can keep this up for that long, right?

Landmine is one big loop and there are some distinguishing features along the course.  I haven't seem some of them yet.

Head down these trails all seem the same to me.

Ok 2:00 is here.  The conditions are great, and I think I'm moving along ok so where's the finish?

Head down.

Powerlines.  I know these are near the end, but also there's a good bit past them.

Head down.

Big irrelevant mound next to the road, now I know this is near the end.

But there is also the last section of singletrack where we catch all the CAT4 and first timers.  


Dare a peek behind I see a blue and white jersey, is that Ted?!  No just a course marker I hallucinated into Ted.

It's quiet, I'm catching a few, but they seem more like CAT1s who  have lost their steam.

Finally there is lightness to the woods, and right before a familiar wooden bridge I pass a woman in long pants; I'm nearing the field!

Burst into the lightness and sling around the big banked corner to the finish line holding on to second.

Looking at the numbers i spent the majority of time in the Danger Zone  sometimes pushing to Infinity and Beyond, we won't talk about the Sausagefest.  I know this is technical cycling talk, but trust me it's good.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Barn Burner Marathon


Tahr had a great idea; Let's race the Barn Burner Marathon in the Cape Epic style duo class, and lets do it under assumed names!

Great!  What a fun idea.

Then Henri hit. 
The promoters were forced to postpone the race a couple of weeks.  Now Tahr has this silly policy that when his wife isn't working he wants to spend time with her and will not race.  Weirdo (says the divorced guy).

So what about Alpaca?  Two distinguished gentlemen going for marathon glory on Ti singlespeeds!
Alpaca was in, he was psyched, he was going to race his mountain bike!

He remembered it was Labor Day weekend.
Alpaca was out.

Fine, I'll just do it by myself.

Race day comes as do all the rituals.  On the eve, bike prep. bottle and food staging and packing.  race bag packing with clothes, extra clothes shoes, extra shoes, double check the car for duplicates of everything possible.  Morning of, standard race day breakfast, coffee, car food and go.

It's a grey day.  Not really raining, but damp.  Compared to past editions the parking field is sparse.  Sparse and soggy.

As I'm getting my feed prepared a familiar voice comes over the PA.  It's Logan!  And where there's Chris there's Jill; New England MTB royalty.

Quick hello, then the obligatory warm up spin.  Being a Marathon, basically just waking up the legs.

Line up in one big pack; men, women, duos and after some race notes, important stuff about not cheating or something, we are told to go.
Maybe a whistle, a signal, wave, command, something, and we are pedalling hard.

There is a LONNNG LONNG flat gravel stretch before the singletrack.  Reverse hoeshot is in full effect.  First clusterfuck of a rock garden (Goggle says I spelled clusterfuck correctly), lead riders are through cleanly but the inevitable happens and everyone else is off their bikes.

Then some dumdum is being a nice guy and lets riders who mounted up quicker go before he mounts up again.

Latch on to the back of the group and look at my dorkometer.  My HR is right where it should be so staying at the back of the conga line should be fine, right?  There's 3.5 more 7.something mile laps to go, just stay in the zone...

Then the egometer kicks in and says go faster.  Pass a half dozen people on the twisties of the back side of the course and cross the powerlines.

The last part of the lap is the most fun.  Still rooty, but more rocky, less loamy and fast;there are two wide open straightaways equal to the opening one.
Coming out of the woods onto the last straight, I look at my time; 51 minutes?!
For 7.something miles?  It's going to be a long day.

My feed zone plan was simple: just stop and grab a new bottle each lap.
Only problem is the grassy field the feedzone was in is a soggy wet field, so losing all momentum, each lap is less than ideal.

The first third of the course has four short steep little hills.  With momentum, they are tough but doable.  On lap two they are littered with the CAT2 racers either spinning out, or "eagling" up them.  Mr Cranky Pants is not happy and has to run them all.  

The course is loamy, and intermittent rain has begun making the roots slippery.
I'm not having fun.  The darkness is enveloping me.  I keep telling myself the whole week was planned around today, and what are you going to do if you don't ride the whole thing?  You need the intensity, you need the training.
Who cares?

Finish the lap, get the feed zone and hear "Go Charlie"; Jill and Chris are rooting for me.
Joke to them as I go through the Start/Finish "don't runners get a half marathon", and head out for lap 3.

Thinking about half marathons, I look at my mileage, it's over 19 miles?  What the?  Maybe I'm not as slow as I think I am?

Get to the four climbs and make 2 out 4 without traffic.  Getting a groove with the roots and keeping consistent.  
The forth and final lap, more of the same.

Finished somewhere in the middle, and I'm ok with that...
because I finished

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The first 1000

On Saturday I crossed a silly little milestone.

Which is a wonderful time to reflect on the custom bike experience.

I was first measured and questioned for the bike the beginning of December 2020.  They wanted to know my riding experience, what my current bikes were, intended purpose.  After submitting all these tasty tidbits, we waited for a drawing.  Due to some holiday in December, It took a little longer than anticipated for them to get that done.  Once done, we had to clarify a couple details and wait another week for the final drawing to sign off on.

Custom graphics and being a weirdo who wanted a frame designed to only be a singlespeed caused lead time to be longer than quoted.  This is something I wished there was greater transparency on.  But all was good, I loved the bike I was riding; it would have been nice to have a quarantine project though.

I got the bike.  A Seven Sola SL SS.  The Velveteen Coney.  It was built up with exactly the parts I wanted to put on it.

I"ve been and still am a fan of Shimano brakes.  After building a number of road bikes with Campagnolo disc brakes, and loving the feel of them, I decided to go a different route and try Magura MT8s, which have been wonderful.

I thought a USA made drivetrain would compliment the USA made frame so I mated A White Industries M30 crank, chainring and bottom bracket with a Wolftooth stainless steel cog.  Hear that?  No?  That's right, silent.

Does the carpet match the drapes?  You betcha! WI headset

So how does it ride?  Much like a bike.  A very refined bike.  Subtle.  One of the questions asked and submitted was "which is more of a priority, weight or ride quality"?
 Ride quality!  
Never been a weight weenie, and consider it a very minor property to be concerned with.  I want to get to the end of the ride, not have the lightest ride.

The standout feature of the bike is it's sexy ass that effortlessly leaves the ground following the arc with which I choose
That's it.
It's a stable, well handling bike that floats beneath me and holds a line when needed.  It goes over logs better than any bike I've ridden...

and rides like a bike.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Domnarski Farm 6hr Marathon

This was going to be just the facts and nothing but the numbers  and data.

But how bout a little story time?

I have raced Domnarski Farm many times.  Even won it once (expert age group).  The course is rugged, old school with a good deal of climbing; a few of my favorite things.

The marathon was an open class; any age, sex or bike.  It also had the largest field of any category. 

In the race itinerary e.mail the promoter stated the race would be staged in waves based on previous best time, fastest first.  The Marathon would line up behind me...thanks for the target on my back Matt!

Lead up to the race is textbook, even the yahoos trying to impress by revving their sports cars took it easy the night before so I could get a good night sleep.  Being only an hour away gave me plenty of time for coffee, breakfast and morning constitutional.

I'm nervous.  It's been a year and a half since I raced a bike.
I keep telling myself I'm just riding my bike in the woods with friends for 6 hours.

After signing in, I have a couple of minutes to noodle around before heading up the hill to the start. I see a couple of familiar faces, but the majority are an unknown quantity.

The countdown to the start is rather anticlimactic; the timer says go..and we go!

I get a short lived, slow motion holeshot which is for naught as we turn off the starting straight into the woods and the first technical climb.  

Everyone is off their bikes.

Back on and I'm sparring for position with 3 guys before the first significant climb.  I'm reminding myself not to get caught up in it, in the excitement, and ride my own race, it is six hours after all.  They pedal away.

Before the first series of 2x8 bridges, there are a lot of these, I hear a rider come up behind me.  Ok, when he passes me I'll be in 5th.  That's fine.  There's a long way to go and I'll still be in the top 20%.  The race predictor had me at 15th.

Wait. what the?!  It's one of the trio who rode away?  He had rode off course.

When I get to the long powerline climb, it gives me an opportunity to look back a couple minutes to see if anyone is in sight.  Nope.

On the last descent to the start finish, I'm catching a lot of traffic from the beginner race.  Just in case they slowed me down as much as it felt which in reality probably wasn't hardly at all, I don't stop at my feed coming through the start/finish.

(Dear Beginners, Domnarski Farm is not your typical race course!)

On the first long climb there's a lot of "excuse me, can I squeeze by, when you get a chance can I get by, on your left up here ok"?

I'm relieved when we get to the course split, but what the...the rider who went off course the first lap is coming from the beginner's split; he went off course again!

The rest of the second lap is uneventful.

I stop at the feed, swap bottles  and have a few bites of PB&J.

At the "Ten Dollar Pass" just past the 7 mile mark of the third lap, the leader of the pro race catches me.  The second pro catches me at the most technical descent, fortunately it opens up soon after so I'm not holding him up.

Swap some bottles and head out for #4.

Lap 4 isn't fun.  Arms and hands have taken a beating.  Knowing the course, my tires have a couple extra psi to hopefully ward off flats. 2012 saw me walking off the second lap when it took out a tire.  I'm not enjoying the first long climb which usually is cherished.  I'm being caught by leaders of the expert race, on a few occasions stopping entirely to let them pass.  

That's it, 4 is enough.

From $10 pass I'm going back and forth with a friendly guy, I let him take the lead for the last descent.  When he sees me starting another laps he asks "what, you haven't had enough"?
Yes I have but

there's just too much time left.  
"Marathon" I mutter and soldier on.

5th lap I have the course all to myself.  I tell myself "walk if you have to but just keep moving".

When I get to the first bridge it is no longer there.  The water is warm and thigh deep.

Turns out I'm not alone; I catch a woman at $10 pass.  She tells me she's going to stop and take a picture.

From there it's all downhill to the finish...with 10 minutes to spare.

Stop reading now unless you're into dorky numbers.

dorky numbers:
4th place
51 miles
(the winner Jake Inger did 6 laps so over 60!)
6300' of climbing
Gear: 34x20
lap times: 64:34, 71:11, 71:30, 73:59
Median age of the podium: 29
Average age: 36
Calories consumed 700
(600 liquid 100 PB&J)

Monday, December 14, 2020

Coneystock Day 3

 Day 2 was a winner of a failure.  I got to donate toys and ride my bike, but couldn't stay on course.  Will Day 3 be more fruitful?

After a rest day of shoveling snow and home projects with my Lovely (she got 8" of heavy wet snow), our riding options were somewhat limited.  

We would have to drive a substantial distance somewhere to find rideable trails.  We could drive almost back to my house to find something rideable. Or we could drive 1/2 hour out of our way so I could finally meet the latest Grandbaby, then almost an hour to The Summit General Store, ride Tiny Tim, and both have an hour drive home.  

Some people are worth an extra hour and a half driving.

We both successfully uploaded the course to our prospective computers, emblazed ourselves in orange, lubed our chains, checked our tires, and HIT START COURSE.

Climb up a road through a residential area to a cul de sac, where our computers tell us to continue straight.  Ok.  We find the trail, navigating around giant puddles on a dirt double track.  Above we hear the white noise of the windmills.

My Lovely has a tendency to smell the roses and snap pictures of them and other randomness along the way.  I'm prompted to turn right.  She's not insight so it would be best to wait, just in case.  With an ear to ear grin, she blissfully rides past the turn.  

Shouting after her, she pulls a U-ie and joyfully spins up to me with tales of all the nature she's captured in the last half mile.

Looking down at her computer, it's screen is blank.  "Aren't you following the course" I ask.  "I'm following you, but I have it if I need it" she replies,

Now I'm responsible for not getting two people lost...great.

Riding with eyes glued to the screen, waiting at intersections, comparing and contrasting my location on my phone with the image on my Garmin, looking at the sky, looking at the clock, wondering if Christine is warm enough, hearing shotgun blasts all around...nerve wracking.

But every time we reconvene, she has some positive spin; "aren't those canal like puddles pretty," or "doesn't that gun powder smell nice"?!

She's having a blast so maybe, just maybe I should mellow the fuck out?

I'm starting to see some familiar landmarks from Day 2; how often do you see matching gold Trans Ams?  It's dark, but we are in the home stretch.  I have blinky lights and my Lovely has a head light.  As we yo-yo down the Trestle Trail, doing  puddle slalom, I begin to relax and realize this might actually be fun and would have been more so If I could just be in the moment a bit more.