Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Chain Day!

Yes, that's a new chain. Coated in Nassahegan goodness.

I love new chain day; drivetrain is so quiet and smooth.

Back in the day, Calvin Jones, formerly of BBI, said "Remove that sludge the chain is packed in, that's just so it doesn't rust on the long salty boat ride across the Pacific". So even though I had ridden with the factory goop and liked it, Calvin was the teacher, so he must be right. I started painstakingly de-greasing and re-lubing my chains right out of the box, before I even turned a pedal.

Fast forward a decade or so, and now experts are saying the stuff the chain is packed in is factory lube and is the best thing you can run a chain with.


Maybe this is one of those chicken or the egg debates. Or the age old grease or don't grease your BB tapers. For you youngsters, bottom brackets and cranks used to fit together with a "square taper" joint; the crank arms would essentially be forced onto the bb as far as they could go and held on with friction and a bolt. Some people believed if you greased the tapers your cranks would fall off, others felt if you didn't they wouldn't slide on far enough, or never come off.

I'm glad it's ok to leave the goop on again; it makes it soo smoooth!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meant to be's

My Mom is always going around professing her faith in "meant to be's". Such as "If you didn't get the job then it wasn't meant to be" or that girl will sleep with you "if it's meant to be". Actually being the Irish Catholic she is, Mom would never discuss the prospects of a little pre-marital coitus; she wouldn't even think it. She's probably sensing I just typed that with her Catholic Mom super sixth senses.
Doing my "cross practice" yesterday, or what I perceive is good practice for cross, I got another flat. I was running OVER 50 PSI in my tires and I got a flat. On a fireroad.
No problem, I'll just throw in this tube I had lying the shop before the rain starts. Shraeder valve? How the fook did I get a shraeder valve tube? Guess I'll patch this tube before the rain starts.
Afterward, sorest legs I can remember. Different than after a mtb race, more of a about to cramp tightness.
Tubes are for the birds I decide, lets give tubeless a go. Been tubeless on the mtb for 9 years, converting some cross tires can't be that bad can it?
Since I have wheels all set up for tubeless on the Karate Monkey, I decide to try converting the cross tires on those wheels, and running the KM with skinny tires.
Very silly looking but whatever.
I put a 16 on it to give me a 58" gear; just a little lighter than what I've been running on the Fun Machine.
Tubeless ain't happening I decide after 15 minutes of squirting Stan's out of the rim / tire bead joint, so I decide to move on to running a minimum mtb tire, in my case a Kenda Karma 1.9.
Bead seals up nicely, but there is a pin hole in the tread. As I add more air to get some sealant over to the hole BOOM!
I assume I just blew the bead off the rim, but on closer inspection the valve stem exploded. Not the core, but the actual stem.
Alright, good thing I brought both disc wheelsets. Let's just go back to good old reliable Conti Race Kings. That'll give me a 63" gear, but at least I'll know what it's like (to pedal a 63" gear offroad).
Easy peasy, on, sealed, done.
My shop is in Crazytown, I mean Southington, and I'm only a couple of miles from Camp Sloper where they are holding the Wednesday Night cross training races. Tomorrow is week 3 of 4. Week 1 I missed because it was Kim and my 20th anniversary. Week 2, last week, I missed due to the Parent Senate meeting at Lillian's school. So today I figured I'd pedal over do a little course recon on an extended lunch.
Pedalling over, I hear the tell tale pft, pft, pft,pft, and feel a skirt on my leg. F'ing Crazytown! Animals in this town throwing bottles out their windows while they drink and drive.
Well Stan's does it's job and I make it to Sloper with minimal pressure loss.
Also on the ride over, I'm noticing how easy pedaling is. Is it the tires? Am I suddenly strong? Did I put the wrong cog on?
Back at camp Sloper...
Where's the course? They take it down every week?
Well, I guess I can check out some of the trails around the camp since I'm here. Good thing I did put the wrong cog on right? Wrong.
Even with the 18 I mistakenly put on, the rocky, moss covered, greasy climbs ain't happening with 42 cm drop bars.
Get to some flatter trails... that lead to a rock slide...a blazed rock slide.
Find some more trails around camp, and again pft, pft, pft...
F'ing Crazytown!
So it seems my cross infatuation is leading me to frustration. Maybe I should try and get over it and end the race season here before I start something tomorrow? I still don't know how to gear for it, and I don't know what to ride.
Maybe it's not meant to be?
Maybe I just need to get a real cross bike? I've got 2 sets of tubular wheels all set to go if I go geared, and a single speed tubular wheel too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Hero

Instead of racing today, I chose to go for a ride with my Mom.

30 years ago doctors told her the dizzy spells, blurry and blotchy vision were all in her head. Last year she was diagnosed with MS.
My Mom isn't one to let anything stand in her way, and has led / is leading a vibrant, exciting, and successful life.

When she asked me if I would ride the MS ride with her, I was honored. She kept on insisting I ride one of the longer options, that I'd be bored riding the 25 mile route with her. But taking after her, I wouldn't accept not riding with her.

So today through the rain, I followed my Mom through the rolling hills of Southern Connecticut, full of pride as she pedaled up everything thrown at her.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Plan "B"

This actually is more plan "A" than "B".

The idea of Monster Cross sounded so appealing, but in practice I think it fell a little short of my expectations.

So what's a boy to do?

Put cross tire on the Fun Machine of course!

The fit on the Fun Machine is drop dead perfect, plus it is the greatest riding bike...EVER!
Which apparently holds true off road as well; at least on fireroads.

Climbing felt much better on it too, and I had a larger gear (39x18 w/ 35's = 59") than on the KM. If I can man up, I have a 17t WI freewheel, but we'll see how I make out with the 18t first.

Descending was a blast; flying with reckless abandon...pftsssss...I'm too used to tubeless!

After I stopped to fix the flat, and continued my descent, I noticed the rear brake was more of a suggestion of braking than an actual brake. Not surprising since it's a 31 year old Shimano 600. I guess I just never noticed how lacking it was since the Fun Machine is usually fixed.

I do have this fancy "bit of kit" I could throw on the front, and put the superior dual pivot out back, but that sounds a little more work than I care to do right now.

Once I was rolling again, with a few extra psi's in the tires, the fun switch got turned up to 11.

I'm planning on doing the next two practice races at Camp Sloper and the race at Riverside Park in Hartford. This might be bad. Bad because I have a feeling I'm going to really love it and need to start racing CX.

Maybe I can sell Kim on beer and cowbells?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Karate Monster?

Monkey Cross?

Now that the race season is over for me I get to try some goofy stuff. I had planned to do this to my Soma, but I had to sell that frame.

The conversion was simple enough. Shorter stem with more rise, drop bars, long pull road levers, and a bigger gear.

The fit is pretty good, feels a little tall, but not too bad.

I wasn't enjoying climbing on it today. This might have as much to do with the 54.5" gear(34x18) or coming off a cold, as the position. The bars are narrower, but I still felt I had good leverage.

A 54.5" might be fine for some, or tiny for others, but was rather "uncomfortable" riding the res. Maybe it will be good on an actual CX course (maybe too small even?).

But I'll tell you what (A friend of mine knows this guy who would start every sentence with "I'll tell you what", we figure when he talks to himself he says "I'll tell me what"), once things turned downhill the fun began.

Riding singletrack or fireroads downhill, in the drops was awesome. Felt so "in the bike". Never have I had so much fun riding a fireroad.

Today I'm backing it down to a 49" gear (34x20); we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Retrospect (I swear I'm not going to blather about this all week)

At the beginning of the race season I had very modest expectations. This was going to be my first full season as a Cat 1 and from the trouncing I received in my only Expert race, I would be happy mid pack.
A little trip in the wayback machine at my pre-2009 race history might be in order.
I started racing mountain bikes back in the big booming 90's. Races were HUGE! 40-60 plus rider fields in the Sport category was the norm. We had 10 or 11 races just in Connecticut.
I raced a couple races as a Beginner in 1995, got 5th in the second and felt I should move up to Sport.
In 1996 I raced most of the series and invented the term "middle third". It was a way of not saying I finished in the bottom half (39th out of 60, "I finished in the middle third").
The rest of the 90's and early turn of the century racing was spotty at best. I guess that happens when you're breeding. I would enter convenient races in the Sport class with a 1 day license. I had started road riding, and began to occasionally make the top 5.
Hurt my knee. Started playing in a band again. A little smoking, a little drinking (define "little"), and the bike started collecting dust.
Put such tomfoolery to the side and started riding again, and really loving it in a way I never had before.
Then some kid calls Cycle Therapy asking about singlespeed conversions.
Next thing you know, I'm converting all my bikes to SS, and loving it even more.
DNF'd a singlespeed race in 2006 when one of my conversions decided it wasn't happy with our arrangement and throws the chain 7 times in the first lap.
In 2007 I had the bikes sorted out a bit better and won 3 of 4 Singlespeed Open races in the Root 66 series.
Time to move up to Expert, right?
Well I buy my license in December of 2007, and as the 2008 race season approaches, the economy doesn't seem to want to cooperate with me. I find it hard to justify spending all that money on gas to go racing. I end up only doing one race in the Expert Singlespeed class. Some kid kills it finishing like 15 minutes in front of me. But I get 3rd (DFL)!
But that race, Domnarski Farm, really lit the fire. I had so much fun out there, I didn't care where I finished. It was just such a thrill riding my bike as fast as I could.
For the 2009 season I had to choose to race my age group or the Cat1 SS. Since the fast men of the class were going to test their mettle in the Pro / Cat1 open class I figured no one else would be racing Cat1 SS, so I should just race my age group.
First race, Hopbrook Dam, comes and I do okay. I finish in the top half of a huge field (13 of 28 riders), some of which are sponsored, some of National champions, and I'm real happy with that, but I want to finish top 10 to score points, which is my new goal for the season.
Winding Trails was up next, and I do a little better. I get 6th out of about 20. I get points, so I now set my goal for top 5.
Winsted shows me I've been blowing the starts. Maybe I was intimidated by the talent of the field, but my first two races I didn't get a real good starting position, or start, and would have to claw my way through the field to gain positions back. At Winsted I get in the top 5 off the start, and as we begin to climb I move up to third. The leader flats out, and I move up to 2nd which I hold to the finish.
Now I'm beginning to think things.
My starts are getting better; I often get the holeshot.
At Bikes for Bovines I actually win one! I fully admit this victory had a lot to do with someone else's misfortune, but that's mountain bike racing, and being prepared for mechanicals is part of the game. What impressed me most about that performance is Kevin Hines only beats me by 6 minutes, which are easily attained on the 3 miles of gentle fireroad descent to the finish each lap, so I'm climbing good.
Climbing is where my strength lays, power courses not so much (gee there's a shocker).
Through out the course of the season, I learn what works where (gearing, and tires), and might try something differently next year to try and compensate for some of my weaknesses.
The Root 66 series is/was my priority, and as such I went to most of the races. The consistency of showing up was as much a part of the overall as the performance on the course.
I think there's a children's proverb in there somewhere?
I would like to send a special thanks out to James, whose advice on gearing was invaluable to me this year.
Also to my family for tolerating me spending so many Sundays away from home (hopefully they'll join me more often next year).
Finally to Jill and Chris for throwing a hell of a series. They put in a ton of work making this series so good and should be duly appreciated.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and sorry for the book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MT Snow.

Royce 3rd, Stu 1st, Charlie 2nd

I left for Mt Snow a little early anticipating having to fill my gas tank. But my wonderful wife was courteous enough to do it for me the night before, so I got to the venue with plenty of time to do a complete lap as a warm up!

All I had to do was finish 5th or better and I would win the series overall. We had a pretty small field, so I was confident that would happen. We would start with the 30-39 year olds.

The whistle blows and a big group is able to jump in front of me before we got to the first climb. This is a ski resort so, the first climb wasn't too far away. As we start our ascent up the first fireroad, I begin pulling back riders. As far as I know Stu Jensen is the only rider in my class ahead of me.

We turn for a quick descent and Gerry LaFleur comes flying past me. I yell "Go Gerry!" and he apologizes? I would have been super psyched if Gerry could hold it out, but as we start to climb I pull him back.

As we continue our climb I'm slowly eating into Stu's lead. About 80% up the climb I catch him. This doesn't last too long as he makes easy work of catching and passing me on the 2 mile descent to the start/finish.

I'm fine with this. When he first caught me, I asked him to let me know when he wanted to pass, so I could get out of the way. I just have to finish, so I'm just going to enjoy the ride. Stu disappears into the trees.

As I start the second lap I see Stu up on the mountain ahead of me. He has a good gap, but it seems to be closing pretty quickly. I figure, well as long as I'm here...

I catch him about a 3/4's of a mile lower on the mountain than on the first lap. I did have to walk the top of the toughest hill. I'm able to finish the lap without getting caught.

But Stu's got me in sight.

As we start to climb, I'm holding the gap, even widen it a bit, but I'm fading. Scratch that, I've cracked!

Every climb is getting harder and harder. I have to walk a portion of the two hardest hills.

But I get to the woods, and the descent still in the lead. At first I can hear the clanking of Stu's suspension following me, but as I continue the descent it slowly fades.

Am I opening my lead, or is Stu riding really smooth?

Apparently the latter.

As I exit the woods for the final fireroad to the finish, I've only got about a 100 meter gap to Stu. I pedal like crazy, but Stu puts it in a big gear and cruises by.

Maybe riding a full lap as a warm up wasn't such a bright idea?

Oh well, would of, should of, could of...

I got 2nd and the series overall. It would have been nice to have won the finale, but that's racing. Stu was even apologetic on the podium, but that's ridiculous, it was a well deserved victory.

There has been a lot of negative talk about the course at MT Snow, but I thought it was great. True, it was probably the best weather we've had all season, but even if it was wet I would have thought it was a good course. Hard, but that's a good thing, right?

This season far exceeded my expectations in many different ways.

1st and 3rd overall. No we're not holding hands.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Math

Right now I'm 2 points out of first place in the Rt 66 series Cat1 40-49 class. There is a slim mathematical possibility of me winning the series title. I need to finish 5th or better and the series leader, Jonny Bold, has to score no points.
As it stands with the best of 9 point counting system, all I can do is replace one of my lower placings with a higher one, while what ever points Jonny gets will add to his total.
So he needs to not show up or DNF.
Jonny, you've been having a lot of mechanical troubles the last 3 races so I suggest you avoid the frustration and anxiety and find something closer to home to do this Sunday. Here's a link to activities in Falmouth, and one to the calender section of the Cape Cod Times. On a quick perusal, I saw the Porter Thermometer Museum was open, and there was a Dorthy Hamill skating camp on Nantucket. Either sound like better ways to spend your Sunday than riding on some God forsaken hill in Vermont.
Just a thought.

See ya Sunday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shiny Happy: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There was a post over on the singlespeed board that piqued my interest; one of the forumites was making chainrings and tensioners on the side as "Home Brewed Components". The pictures looked nice and the prices were inline with what you'd pay for something from the Far East, so I thought "Why Not?".

Paypal'd him $35 for the Chainring, $20 for the tensioners (he actually took 10% off those prices at the time), and $4.95 for priority mail shipping. I requested gold for the tensioners to match my skewers and seatpost collar Dan warned me he didn't think his gold was as deep as others, but I said that it would be fine ( my seatpost collar and skewers are the same brand they don't match).

2 weeks from when I went clicky clicky, I had a envelope full of GOLD!

Everything was beautifully precise. Precise and tight. The chainring had zero slop to the bolt holes. They don't really need any either, because it is one of the roundest rings I've ever bolted on.

Color was deep and rich. Ultra Pimp! Nice tall unramped teeth too.

Roundness is particularly important with the singlespeed. If a ring is out of round you have to run your chain too tight to make sure at it's loosest it's not going to jump off, at least that's been my experience. Salsa rings used to be pretty good, but since they shifted production overseas, the roundness, fit, and finish have suffered.

I definitely recommend these chainrings.

The tensioner I had my reservations about. The supplied tension screws use a 2mm hex to tighten, and a 7 mm lock nut. My multi-tool doesn't have a 7mm open end wrench on it, and 2mm is a little dainty.

I figured I'd give them a shot, and if they didn't work, I'd find some sort of replacement screws and lock nuts, but didn't get that far.

On my first really climb, the lock nut backed out and my axle slipped. Re-tightened. Next short steep hill this happened:

Now, this design might be fine elsewhere, but for the Northeast, with our short steep power climbs, I think the design might be too minimal. Also Dan has them machined to fit snuggly in the dropout, which is rather ingenious, but also robs you of some adjustment.
If I had used both tensioners it might have worked better, but I need something easy and quick in case I have to change a flat during a race.
So take that for what it's worth; if you use two tensioners you're probably fine, but for my needs, not quite up to snuff.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Short Term Product Review: Ergon GP-1 grips

I put Ergon GP-1 grips on my bike on Friday night. Rode with them on Saturday, raced with them on Sunday.

I think I like them.

They spread the load and force of impacts over a wider swatch of your palms and are quite comfortable. The ergonomic shape also affords you a better grip on the bars without having to use the Vulcan death grip, and offers you a greater degree of control as well.

I might need girl sized ones though, at least on the left side. Maybe my left side is my feminine side which explains how I spent my idle time as an adolescent...maybe that's too much information...After the race my hands felt great, and there was less numbness in my left hand during the race than with traditional grips (I have a nagging thumb injury that for the life of me I don't know how I got. feels like I jammed my thumb).

So if any Ergon execs are reading this and are looking to sponsor a middle aged guy racing in a small regional series, I think I want the smaller size. In pink.

Speaking of too much information, for those of you keeping score my post-race production is moving along quite nicely, and is ahead of schedule.

Tomorrow I'll have pictures of shiny things!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I heard reports Hingham got 4.5" of rain on Saturday. Supposedly Sunday was going to be a beautiful day, but as I headed East, it wasn't looking too promising. It wasn't raining, but it was grey and wet.

That's how I found Wompamuck too after a wrong turn or 3; grey and wet. Those wrong turns, the long line at the porto-lets, and equally long line for preregistered riders cut into my preride time. I only was able to spin around for about 15 minutes before lining up.

Quite a crowd too, one of the biggest fields of the year. All the usual suspects plus some unfamiliar faces. To add to the effect, they started the 50+ group with us too to try and get things moving.

The start was fast. Full out. First on grass, then pavement then narrow fireroads. The fireroads were overgrown so there was one fast line and then grass or leafs and needles. Very hard to make up any ground. Starting with such a large group made it hard to know what position I was in.
Things tilted up and I was able to make a move forward. Picked off a couple of guys, and then started dueling it out with Todd Bearse. Todd's technical prowess would propel him forward, and I would reel him back on the hills. He was leading, but never had more than a 30 meter gap on me.

Then we went down a big drop after passing a couple of back markers. Todd sailed through the mud pit at the bottom, my front wheel stopped. Dead. My right knee found out they had filled that mud hole with gravel I'm guessing to firm it up.

That was it for my battle with Todd. I'd see him turning into the wood from time to time as I pulled out on to a fireroad, but never close again. Steve Arsenault from the 50+ passed me too, but couldn't make it stick.

Passed John Mosher fixing a flat. That didn't slow him down much because within a mile he came flying past me on fire.

Caught Stu Jensen, not too much later, and then Jonny Bold dealing with yet another flat. Other than them I would pass singlespeed riders and 30-39 year olds. Rode with Dave (my oxygen depleted brain feels lucky enough to remember his first name, can't recall his last) from the 50+ group for about the last 6 miles. I was going to make a snarky remarke about the girly lines he was taking when he dropped me on a rocky descent within the last mile. He told me soon after he was coming up on a 30-39 year old who was really throwing coal on the fire when he (the 30-39 y/o) ate it on one of the slimey boardwalks. EMT's had to walk him out.

I had no idea where I placed. Not the slightest clue.

The course was a lot of fun. It was hyped as this merciless technical terror laced together with pavement. But I found it no more challenging than my local trails. Fortunately there wasn't much pavement, and oddly enough, it seemed I could keep up okay on these sections. I don't think I could have pushed a bigger gear, and judging by my speed compared to other races and gear choice I think a 52" was good. Ignitors were the perfect tire. I do feel like I went a couple rounds with Tyson though.

When they finally did get all the Cat1 results posted, I came in 4th. That tightens the gap on Jonny Bold's point lead, but he has the series all but sewn up.

Todd got third. That makes us even; he's beat me twice and vice versa.
Congratulations to Kevin Hines, the latest GT Golden Bike winner. 49 years old and kicking serious ass!

What will MT Snow hold in store for us?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Potpourri

I had a dream last night. I was racing my bike. The course was perfect. Groomed singletrack through a coniferous forest. Kind of like Winding Trails but with hills. I came into the dream with the race in progress. I was in the lead and pulling away. It was a mass start and I got a big enough gap that I was riding alone. The dream fast forwards to waiting in the lodge for results. When they post the results, it turns out I won by a lot, and there was some grumbling about it. I woke up happy. Maybe even happier than when I have a sexy time dream.

I don't think Landmine will go quite like that.

From what "they" say, it's a pretty rugged, technical course, not a lot of climbing, and some pavement. It might rain the day preceding it. How do you pick tires for that?

I thought I had it figured out and put on the Nevegal / Ignitor combo pack. Took them out for a spin and actually cut two climbs out of my ride because they just were not working for me. The Ignitor out back might been ok, but pushing that big ol' Nevegal was killing me. I kept on dropping the pressure in an attempt to make it roll better but to no avail. I believe that was the combination I used at Domnarski Farm (I should write this stuff down) and it worked great, but that course was pretty wet.

So go back to the Race Kings, or split the difference and go Ignitors F&R?
Ignitors would bring me back below 22 lbs. But Race Kings roll sooo nice.
I had this shit figured out with 26" wheels, and the answer was WTB Mutanoraptor 2.4.

I think I obsess about tires as much as some people obsess about gear inches.

I thought the RK's sucked at Norcross, but I doubt they cost me a place.

Anyways, what ever I decide by the end of work is what it's going to be (no compressor at home).

Now maybe if I had the perfect gear, tires and song in my head I could wrassle the top step away from Corner Cycle?

Maybe not.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I hate wind.
But some times I love wind.

No, not just when it's a tailwind either.

Being <140 lbs, I'm not exactly the Northern European strongman type. Hills work great for me, long open flats, not so much. I remember praying for a hill before I got to the front of the rotation as big tri-guys drove the pace over 25 mph at the Tour of Litchfield Hills.
When it's 20F out and there's a wind pushing you back, demeaning you, insulting you, bringing you to the brink of tears (don't cry they'll freeze), wind sucks.
When it's in the mid 70's it's not so bad.
The ride home this evening was into a 10 mph headwind. Being so mild, all I had to worry about was staying low and turning over the cranks. But maintain a typical average speed took a bit of aggression.
When I got home I was delightfully wiped out. Depleted.
The wind had turned my mild manor commute into an energy sapping workout. Didn't even have enough left to shave.
Face or legs.

Careful What You Wish For

We had a wet Spring and Summer.
Very wet.
The past few weeks of relative dryness have been a nice change (with the exception of Tropical Depression Danny).
High traffic areas that have a hard time drying like the Res., are in pretty good shape.
Unfortunately the dryness hasn't been so kind to other areas.
Yesterday I was riding at One of the Happiest Places in the World, and was surprised at the conditions. Loose talc and scree over hardpack. Amazing how a matter of 5 miles or so along the ridge can make such a difference in trail conditions.
I was feeling a little flat, which when you add that to the dry, loose conditions, and slightly larger gear than optimal left me on the wrong end of the bell curve.
Short, technical, little grunts that I'd have a chance at were being walked.
Race Kings wouldn't be the tire of choice if these conditions were typical. Maybe Saguros.
Which leads me to this:
What tires to run at Landmine?
Race Kings are tough and fast, but aren't the best in soft loose stuff. But they are fast. If the course is hardpack with some mud and rocks they'll be great. Too dry or wet, not so much.
There's always good old Ignitors, or the Ignitor / Nevegal combo pack.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When Will the Carnage End?

The past week has not been a good one when it comes to my bike not being broke.
It started with me burning through front and rear brake pads in the course of a race. That plus the fact that setting up the hydraulic brakes is more finicky than cable pull led to me swapping the Juicy 5's for BB7's. A little heavier, a little less powerful, but I like the ease of adjustment, and the little extra pad clearance the provide.

Then my bottle cage broke! My bottle cage! Bottle cages aren't supposed to break?

Racing in New Hampshire I had jettisoned a bottle, so maybe it's just as well I replace them with ones that grip the bottle a little better. Profile Design Nylon Kages have proven reliable in the past, and since I had a couple from my dear departed Soma, they're ideal.

Yesterday, after bidding Charlie and Kerry farewell in search of some singletrack after a delightful fireroad flyer my cranks broke!

I know, I know, carbon road cranks on a SS mtb is just asking for trouble. Well I found it. Of course, and this goes without saying, I was about as far from home as I could possibly be while riding at the Res. Ripped the ring right off the carbon spider will climbing a hill.
These are the third set of cranks I've broken in the past 3 years, on a singlespeed. Never ever had a problem with cranks on a geared bike before. I have a set of FSA Energy cranks that I've swapped the broken carbon ones out for. Essentially the alloy version of what I broke.

So now my bike is 1/2 lb heavier (less than I thought it would be), and hopefully stronger than before.
Let's hope it last until the season's over.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What did I miss?

Was there some sort of National break glass on the road day in the past 7 days?
As I was about to leave work tonight I noticed my rear tire was flat.
Getting to change a flat in the shop is sort of a luxury, I only wish I could have patched the tube, but some how my patch kit was missing from my bag.
Anyways, I pull a nice little sliver of glass out of my Pasela Tourguard. Kind of felt like a guy who gets his girl pregnant while wearing a condom; "But I did use protection!".
Maybe I was more conscious because I just had to repair a flat, and only had a tube with a slow leak if I got another, but my whole route home seemed peppered with broken glass.
Generously peppered.
Like there was a teenage redneck parade from Southington to West Hartford.
Between the glass paranoia and the acrobatics my super sized snack was putting the old GI tract through, kinda spoiled how beautiful the weather was.
But onwards and upwards or some such thing.
Here's to 3 beautiful days of R&R.
Have a blogerific long weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Training Loop

I was out riding my "training loop" at the Res. today. It has evolved over close to 2 decades from an 8 mile loop to the 16 miles it is today.
The Res. works great for me as I can ride there from home or it's right on the way home from work (when I drive). It gets beat down by all the traffic, but you can't beat it's convenience.
At first I just followed the flow of traffic and rode the standard loop everyone rides. The more I rode, the more I'd find lessor known trails.
As I craved more mileage I would piece sections together to increase my ride's length.
Then I started riding it backwards. Turns out there is more climbing this way.
Charlie likey climbing.
Another bonus of riding trails backwards is you don't get stuck behind someone riding at a different pace than you.
For about a year and a half I would do an out and back starting backwards and turning around before I descended off the ridge. If I timed it right I would miss a lot of the after work crowd on the "and back" part of the ride. But some times traffic was a hassle.
This year when I get to the turn around spot, I started descending on a fireroad to work on leg speed and loosey goosey descents; things guys on geared FS bikes tend to blow me away at.
But this leave me a little short on time and mileage, so I head back up and hit a couple more climbs and some fun techy stuff.
But anyways, let's cut to the chase. As I was (just) riding along, I looked down at my computer and realized I was on a record pace. Then I realized I wasn't working very hard. Then I realized how awesome the conditions were. I was going so much faster because the trails were in the best shape they've been in all year.
I've felt a little guilty about not riding to work this week, but I'm over it now. I say
Get out and ride some trails now! The conditions will not be any better!

I Want More!

Nassahegan is one of the funnerest local places to ride. Maybe one of the most funnerest places ever.
A healthy amount of climbing, tight, twisty, techy.
But if you skip the area behind the trout hatchery, you only get a 9 mile loop. Now you're asking "why would you skip the section behind the trout hatchery"?
Because it has a few super sick technical descents that I always have to walk, and the last time I rode there, the boys at the hatchery were playing with a shot gun.
So yesterday I went hunting.
Anything that resembled a trail I took.
A couple of times things seemed quite promising; one trail I found had ladder water crossings, and was well crafted, but ended in someones back yard.
One trail was just a short loop to some stunts someone built.
One was just a game trail.
A lot of stop and go backtracking added to break up the flow of one of the best loops on one of the best days.
I should be satisfied, but I want more!
I'll have to start doing 2 loops.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I thought I was going to be so clever and post a picture of the carnage that Norcross wreaked on my brake pads. But apparently Mike Joos is more cleverer than me and had that idea before me. Younger and faster not only on the bike, but the internet too.

Well, here they are anyways.

The pads on the left are only 2 weeks old!

No wonder there was some grinding.
I don't care how "epic" your trail ride is, nothing puts more wear and tare on you bike and person than racing.

Maybe being a Saturday race, recovery was a little easier; having an extra 24 hours before having to go back to work really let me take my time cleaning up and coasting through.
That is one of the many pluses about singlespeeds, there are that many fewer parts to have to clean and maintain when you are beat down from racing and driving home from the venue. Even so, if you can hose it down before heading home you're a little better off.

I usually have a hard time sleeping the night after a race. My body temperature feels high and I ache. Arms, shoulders, lower back, legs. Although I'm exhausted, I can't get comfortable, and I'm restless. I'm not really hungry, but I eat anyways thinking my body needs fuel to recover and rebuild. I keep on drinking, and wondering when I'm going to have to pee (usually after I pass a rest stop).

Which leads to our next topic.

We're going to get into potty talk so stop reading if that bothers you or you're eating or something.

After a race, my GI tract isn't right. Usually, I poop like clock work. Everything just moves along and is very predictable. Throw in a race, and who knows what's going to happen.

More often than not, there is some back up that takes a couple of days to totally clear before my system gets back to normal.

Norcross was the opposite. Everything was "quicker", even the return to normal.

If you're thinking more info than I wanted to know, well, I warned you...