Monday, April 30, 2012

Singlespeed A Palooza 2012

I almost skipped SSAP this year.  I was registered and all but I did a cost analyst of buying gas to drive to NY, vs. registering for Massasoit, and begging Fearless Leader for a ride and splitting travel expenses with him.  Plus with most of the Northeast's singlespeed heavy hitters in NY...

Then I remembered Fabian races singlespeed.  I bet he's going to SSAP!  In fact he was and would be delighted to drive my cheap ass to the race.

After I randomly changed our meeting spot 3 times we were on our way.

We line up, Mike blows an air horn and we're off on a 4 mile gravel road prologue.

There's some jockeying for position, and the real contenders take to the front.

I am not one of them.  I'm sort of in the front of "the rest".
At one point on the first lap there was a guy on my tail in the singletrack asking to pass.  I'm not feeling super, so I get over to the right as far as I can trying to be a nice guy...and put myself into a bush.  My tailgater and another guy pass as I pull myself out of the rough.
Now I'm settling into a group of 4 with the two guys who passed, and a guy on a Green Custom rigid.
Lurking close by is Thierry Blanchet.

I'm not having fun.  I want to quit.
There are two sharp, brutes of climbs and I get rid of all but Green Custom (or so I thought).

Then we get to the fireroads.
Green Custom, Terry, and a guy from Bicycle Tech pass.
I want to quit.
I'm going to quit.

We go through the start finish and I forget to quit.

In the singletrack I get on Thierry's wheel, and I think I must be annoying him, because he gives me the line.

I get up to Green Custom's wheel.  I'm starting to have fun.

That's what this is all about, right?

I pass him, and as the trail points down he asks to go to the front.  After my foray into the foliage, I tell him I'll get over as far as I can, but you've got to make it happen.  Before he can do anything we are at brute #1.

I grind up it and get a little gap.
After brute #2 I'm alone.

Trying to stay on it, and enjoy the singletrack.
Then comes the fireroads...

I enter the fireroads alone.  There is a long, gradual climb.  Climb is good, right?

It's not steep enough for any power / weight advantage I have to be effective but I'm not strong enough to stay seated.

Thierry is.  He passes me, and with all the love in my heart, I tell him he sucks.
I throw everything I have at getting to his wheel and getting to the singletrack ahead of him.

Success!  I turn in before him.

I'm totally gassed and he passes me back; failure.
Then two guys I haven't seen all day catch and pass me (Chris Michaloski and Jeff O'Hara).  There are a couple of more climbs before the finish, but I got nothing left, and just hope no one else can get by.

No one does and I finish 19th.
My goal was to be in the top 20%.  This puts me at the top 27%.

Oh well.

I'm glad I didn't DNF, because the singletrack was really fun.
I just really suck at all the fireroad stuff.

Some one who doesn't suck at all is The Harmonizer who gets the big W.
must be due to his coach

Now go read about Doug's adventures.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I went for a road ride today.

I averaged just over 18 mph.

"Big deal" you say "my grandmother can average 18 mph".
Very true.  I've heard your grandma was, ah, "fast".

But James was on the ride too...on his singlespeed...with the same gear he ran at Winding Trails.

The idea was to do some motor-pacing.
But my motorcycle is broken.
So I rode my road bike.
I was going to ride my fixed gear.  I'm glad I chose the regular road bike; I don't think I would have been able to stay in front of him on the fixed!

Does Unibet have a line on Singlespeed-a-palooza?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I ate the candy,

so I really didn't have any choice but to do the ride

I really wasn't in the mood, but as usual, I was glad I did.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Price

Cleaned up the aftermath of Winding Trails last night.
I had to free up a chain put away wet, bleed my brakes front and rear, and replace all my brake pads.
About $40 in parts.  If I brought it to a bike shop, I could be looking at an additional $64 in labor (which seems fair as it took me about an hour to get Bl├╝2 back up to shape).

Yeah, brake pads wear out, but because of the particulars of racing, a set of pads that might last most of the season, will be toast in 2 hours.  If you just go for a ride in the rain you can tailor your ride to trails that are best suited for the conditions like rocky ridges or areas that are firmly bedded in and drain well.  But in a race you are riding whatever trail is taped off, no matter the condition.

When you add those costs to the entry fee we're up to $124 to get to ride my bike in the rain for 2 hours.
(okay only $60 because of my mad skillz).

I could say the generous prize Berlin Bike provided offset the cost a bit, but that money must go to appease the powers that be.

There may be divine wisdom in pulling the plug and cutting your losses short.

What's the forecast for Sunday?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winding Trails 2012, or be careful what you wish for

I wished for rain.
I knew the competition would be tough and I hoped foul weather might give me an edge.
When I left my house it was just starting to lightly rain.  It seemed so insignificant that I wore my nice shorts.
It was WT after all, which even in the wet isn't very bad, so what's the harm?

On my warm up the trails were awesome.   The moisture starved earth was really soaking it up giving the trails a fine tack.

The line up was one of the most efficient I've seen, without riders jockeying around to get into the right group or the need for the officials to ask everyone to move back.

Even so waiting 8 minutes after the Pros taking off was freezing.

The rain had picked up.
Not a down pour, but steady.

We have a good size group, 14 the official says.
Chris blows the whistle and we take off.   James, Josh Wilcox, and Todd Bowden quickly open a gap.
I'm leading the rest.
We are packed tight; there is no gap going back to like tenth place.
About 3/4 through the first lap we catch out first 40-49 rider.
I call out "on your left" and jokingly add "and block those guys"
Jake yells "I heard that"!
To emphasis his good hearing he blasts past me on the next fireroad like he has a motor hidden in his bottom bracket.  I think he's going to catch the leading 3.
I get that sense of doom and failure; oh well fifth isn't so bad.
Then Chris LaSalle passes me, but he's not opening up the gap that Jake did and we go through the start finish close.

As we get to the next singletrack section we begin to catch more 40-49s.  This brings Jake back to us a bit.
On one of the few climbs on course I do what little men do; I attack.
I pass Chris, and the guys we caught and now have Jake in my sights.
On the next fireroad section I'm able to pass him before the singletrack.

He, Chris, Kerry and Royce are right behind me.
I'm not opening anything up.

Near the end of the lap there is some singletrack that is progressively getting sketchier.  We catch another guy and I think he might have slowed the train down because as I get to the run up I realize I've got a little breathing room.
(Fabian was on top of it cheering and he would have cheered for Jake too if he was close).

The third lap things are getting soupy.  Usually WT is pretty fast even in the rain, but they cut some new singletrack to make the course more interesting which is turning into a fine loamy slurry.
I'm trying to stay seated and remind myself I've got the skills to handle this slop.
I catch more back markers, which is always fun, and think I'm in the clear.  But as the trail turns back on itself I see Kerry all too close behind.

Keep cool and keep the power on.
The conditions are really getting dreadful.
Going down a hill with an off camber turn at the bottom I pull my rear brake lever.
Nothing happens.
When it's sloppy I use the rear brake alot for control.  Guess I'll have to use something my foot.  I remind myself conditions are just as shitty for everyone else and try and keep it upright.
I do and cross the finish line where James is waiting (covered head to toe in mud).

He won!  Josh got second.
I ask what about Todd?
"He hit a tree and messed up his knee".
Not the way I want to get on the podium, but as "they" say "that's racing".
(doesn't make it any better).

Kerry comes in less than 30 seconds behind me and Royce was less than a minute back.

If Todd had finished, I assume ahead of me since he was up with James and Josh, I would have tied my best result at WT.  Due to his misfortune, this was my best result here.

Good day for Createx / Benidorm with James and I on the SS podium, Josh E and Jay G on the 30-39 (2nd and 3rd) and solid results from Craig TJ and Miles E(7th, 10th and 4th respectively).
I don't know how our riders from the other CATs did, as this is all about ME.

 My choice to wear my race shorts, the shorts I'm not allowed to train in that I've only worn twice; they ripped when dismounting for the run-up on lap 2!  Just barely grazed the saddle and ripped!

Thanks to Berlin Bike for their generous support, Winding Trails, and Jim and Johnathan for all their hard work,

Sorry for the crappy camera phone pictures but here's the SS podium

and here is the artistically enhanced 30-39 podium (Due to Jay's absence)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Home Sweet Home

An easy spin was what was on the agenda for the day.  Just go out and spin for a couple of hours to keep the legs feeling fresh for the race tomorrow.

Eat my breakfast, drank my coffee and headed over to the Res.

As I'm riding on a trail, an interior ridge parallel to the Metacomet that I've only once seen anyone else on (if they were not with me), I looked around at the natural beauty of the oasis so close to home and actually said out loud "I love this place".

I've been riding here for 19 years, sometime 4 or 5 times a week and never get sick of it.

At work, I get excited about production efficiency; how can I best schedule production to meet demand with the minimal amount of redundancy?
Riding the Res has a similar vibe for me.  How can I connect and knit together the trails to get the ride I want out of it with a minimal of re-riding trails?

Shortly after my epiphany, I ran into Dave C who actually expressed a somewhat opposite and lackluster opinion to our common ground.  "You're in and out in an hour, hour fifteen"  he exclaimed "and it's just this" he motioned to the wide, over used trail we met on that used to be the main route, but now is simply a connector for me.

I guess it can be "just this", a safe easy navigable trail that you can buzz through quickly after work.  But the two decades exploring I've done here have netted me so much more.

If you're nice I'll share.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bring it on!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Ted the Mechanic had diligently undone the wrongs that had been wrung to the electrical system of Mrs. CB2's car.
(sort of)
Now he wanted it off his lawn.

I began to ponder what would be the best route to Ted's in Crazytown evening traffic.

I could go this way:

or this way:

Google maps even suggested I go this way:

But then it dawned on me; the bike path that runs right behind my shop continues right past Ted (my names not Earl)'s house!

How convenient is that!

I'm not sure which is safer though; riding with cars or rollerbladers wearing earbuds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Spring Classics (or totally ripping of Rich Dillen)

Rich Dillen had a great blog Friday equating his season's races to the UCI road season.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery or some other bull crap so I'm blatantly stealing his idea

The steal is real.

Due to a laundry list or reasons, primarily finances and obligations, I find myself as more of a one day "Classics" than a "Grand Tour" rider.
Our early season kick off, the Het Volk of New England dirt is King Of Burlingame.  Everyone is testing their form, scoping out how everyone else is coming out of Winter.

The "Official" season kickoff is Hop Brook Dam, sort of our Tour of Flanders.  It's mostly a power course, and it's elevation profile isn't exactly menacing, but the climbs define the race.  Oddly enough they happened on the same day this year.

The next stop on the calender is The Fat Tire Classic.  It should be called the Fast Tire Classic as it only has about 300' of climbing per 5 mile lap. It's also only 7 miles from my house so I can ride to it. Maybe our La Primavera.   For singlespeeders this could be considered the E3 or Ghent Wevelgem as it is great preparation for the Paris / Roubaix of the Northeast; Singlespeed-A-Palooza.

SSAP is an all out balls to the wall hammerfest.  Sure there are hot dogs and beer and maybe some of  the sport guys are there just for the party, but for the 75 or so in the Pro/Open class it's game on.  It's exciting to race an all singlespeed field of that size.  They know all you SS "tricks".

But afterwards George and Mike really do know how to throw a party.

I do better in the races later on the calender in the Northern hills, but they happen in Grand Tour season so I'm not sure how I can connect the dots with those ones.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Car Suck

At least that's how I was feeling when I finally was able to take a shower yesterday.
Showers rule.

Friday we dog sat in Middlefield;                                                      26 miles driving
Saturday drove to Farmington to pre-ride WT;                                  27 miles driving
Home to cut the grass                                                                         7 miles driving
(with a quick stop at the res)
Sunday, drove to Middlebury, but that was a good thing                    32 miles driving
(no one told SBC a Superfly was not an all MT bike)
Back to Middlefield                                                                          27 miles driving
To Cheshire to drop off Mrs. CB2's car                                            13 miles driving
(so we no longer would need to start it with a paper clip)
Back to Middlefield to pick up B-I-L                                                13 miles driving
Bring B-I-L to train in NH                                                                 22 miles driving
Back to Middlefield                                                                           22 miles driving
Home to shower                                                                                26 miles driving

So 215 miles of running back and forth
(about $50 of gas)
Yeah, I'll easily drive that in just a day on deliveries, but this was my time off
Back and forth as a bacterial carnival was setting up for opening night in my shorts.

Muy malo.

So today it could have been hailing outside and I would have rode in.
(I say this on a morning that was 60°F, clear and sunny with the prospect of a sweet tail wind for the ride home) 

Friday, April 13, 2012

People Are Weird

Yesterday I was riding my bike (there's a shocker).
I was near the end of my loop heading for home.
As I turn to descend there is a gentleman wearing my team jersey mixed with my club's kit.
I don't recognize him, maybe he's more of a roadie, or a lower Cat, but I greet him warmly as is my custom.

He looks at me as if I have two heads.

Normally this wouldn't surprise me as some people just are not very outgoing when they are riding their bikes.
Some people don't even seem like they are having any fun when they are riding (that's just wrong!).

But we were wearing the same jersey.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


After Hopbrook while I was whining about dropping my chain, Monte made an observation.
"You've got your EBB in the "No Zone".

"No Zone"

"If" it slips at all your chain's going to loosen, you want to run it in the upper half so if it slips it will get tighter, but  you're pretty mechanical so you know that".

Makes sense, but I never really thought about it and never had an issue until I put the Pretty Things on.

So No, I didn't know about the no (zone).

not "No Zone"

I originally set it up on "the bottom" to keep the center of gravity low.  I was also concerned about how high my saddle would need to be with my ebb out of the "No Zone".

Turns out running it up top only resulted in raising my saddle 5mm or so.

It's been 7 rides without a slip.  I think I've given it a sufficient torque induced slip test.  I've been riding a big (for me) gear at my regular riding spot, and even tested it's mettle against "The Evil Backyard Wall".

Fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ghost Story

There is a ghost story about if you are driving along a certain stretch of road, and in the fog you pass a Model T driven by a man in old fashion garb accompanied by a young girl in similar attire, beware.  For if you mysteriously pass him 2 more times you will be in a fatal accident.

I summoned all my powers of google but couldn't find a link to that story.

Today I rocked it old school at the rez like it was 1999.
Except the beginning and end are totally different, and well part of the middle too.
But if there was a "standard" rez loop, that most people do, this was almost it.


When I first got to the ridge there was a guy with a green Santa Cruz breaking tree branches.  Why he was breaking branches off a perfectly good tree, I don't know, but I have the advantage of being able to go under a lot of things that riders of adult size may not.

Then on the Kerry Trail I pass him again.
How in the world did he get in front of me?

I finish the Kerry Trail and drop down to cross the fireroad to the East side and he's pedaling up it.

For the life of me I don't know what route he could possibly ride to get in front of me.

Get down the East fence line, ride My Own Private Idaho, and pop out to the blacktop.

As I pull into the lot, a white Camry with a green Santa Cruz strapped to the back is pulling out.


Monday, April 9, 2012

GPS Theivery

or Jobs v. Strava

On Saturday Neal, BG, "Thor" and I hit up Case. Conditions were Summer like ideal. Hardpack, where dusty plumes would kick up as you railed turns. Almost too dry, right on the edge.

 We teased BG and Thor of the impending doom, a climb that is just wrong; The Evil Backyard Wall.
The "Wall" has the ideal surface; smooth and hard. But it has an insane grade averaging 20%. There are a couple of water bar you have to get over and at the steepest part is the one place it gets rocky.

 BG kept asking "was that it"?  All we could do was laugh. "No, you know when you get to the "Wall". As we came out onto the dam, Neal pointed to the top of the ridge "You're going to be on the top of that shortly".

At the base I gave Neal a few pedal strokes so I wouldn't be running up his rear with our different gear ratios. We kept a pretty constant gap, at the only turn Neal soft pedaled so BG and Thor wouldn't get any ideas about turning right and missing the sickest pitch.

 We all made it, no one dabbed, and we continued on our merry way.

Get home, do the upload and...


Ah, 15 seconds?  Uh, not quite.
I'd have been psyched if I wasn't there.
The iphone screwed Neal!
Fortunately Neal's more mature than me.

It also should be noted that the mighty God of Thunder eats Luna bars.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Voices In My Head

At Hopbrook a guy in the 30-39 group was chastised for using earbuds by one of the USAC officials.  I'm fortunate enough not to need external stimulus for my soundtrack.

Most of my ride yesterday swung back and forth between


some how this ended up in the mix

The sound track abruptly changed when I was impaled on a fallen hemlock, but I'm drawing a blank and need to get to work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm being a sissy; I'm not commuting until the wind dies down to below 20 mph.
(Good excuse to ride the mtb)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Other than just a really bitchin' picture the above is a good example of counter-steering.
Counter-steering you say; isn't that when you turn into a slide when you're driving in the snow?
Yes it's that too, but on 2 wheels it's a little different.

Back when I was going through my first midlife crisis I got a motorcycle.  I also got a book by David Hough about motorcycle safety.
He spent a great deal of time explaining how two wheel vehicles don't turn like cars.  You don't turn left to go left you actually are turning right.
When you turn left, you put pressure on the left side of the handlebar, leaning left and your front wheel will be pointed to the right.

Yeah, okay at 2 mph, with the bike totally upright you would turn the bar in the direction you want to go, but  at even  moderately slow speed, you turn by leaning.  That's why toe overlap really isn't that big a deal, unless you just like to be uptight about stuff.

The real beauty thing about it is you do it without even thinking about it.
But you do it.

I learned a lot from that book, a lot that transfers over to the bicycle quite nicely.
I also learned for a motorcycle to be half as fun as a bicycle to me I had to ride at speeds way faster than the State of Connecticut deemed reasonable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Random Thoughts

I felt way too good today, and I slept way too well last night...hmm
I felt so good today I put on a pair of goofy socks

and went for a ride.
Yesterday was the first day since St. Patrick's day that phlegm wasn't part of my life.
That was nice.
Today was even nicerer.
As I casually spun around my local haunt I began thinking about the next race on the agenda.
Should I race my age group again or SS?
Winding Trails really doesn't suit me and the best I've managed there as a Cat1 was 4th (that day was one of my favorite race experiences).
What if I raced the Pro/Open?
Since the chances of a podium are slim, why not get an extra lap in for my money?
I very well could finish last but maybe the experience would be worth it?
Maybe I should do that at all the races where the Pros race an extra lap?
See what Doug has done?  He's got me all thinking about "the experience".

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hopbrook 2012

How'd it go?
Better than expected.
Although I couldn't get near my HR max, my avg was only slightly below what is usual for a race.  When actually racing I didn't feel phlegmy at all.

On Saturday afternoon only 6 riders had signed up for the Cat1 SS, whereas almost 30 signed up for the Cat1 40-49.  Racing 30 guys sounded like more fun than 6 so I decided to act my age and race my peers (although the SS is sort of like a satellite 40+ group).

Fearless Leader had a front row spot and let me slide in next to him.  This was sort of pointless because after the first corner it is a flat drag race for a quarter mile to the singletrack.  "This is a situation where the choice of multiple gears might be good" I thought as the field swarmed around me.

I reached the singletrack near the back of the pack and suffered the accordion effect as someone way up front made the slightest bobble creating a ripple that by the time it reached me had brought the conga line to a stop.

There are pros and cons to racing against gears with a singlespeed.
Pro:  you're gonna climb faster
Con: only if you have a rideable line
On lap two this scenario raised it's ugly head.   The group I was riding with caught the back of the 30-39 field on the toughest climb of the course.  It is a fireroad but there are points that have only one rideable line.  Trying to maximize my climbing advantage and skirting around the caught riders I lost traction and found myself off the bike running.  Not exactly the plan, but sitting and spinning really wasn't an option either.

For the first 3 laps I was yoyoing back and forth with Fearless Leader.  I'd usually catch him on the biggest climb, he'd get ahead of me on the fireroad descent and I'd slowly pull him back in on the gradual climb to the next descent where he'd catch and pass me again.  On lap three as he passed me I noticed he was in a pretty easy gear so I used some "colorful" language to try and motivate him to use those gears and build a gap over me and John from Bethel Cycles who we'd been racing with.  This worked in that he built a gap I couldn't close, but unfortunately didn't get rid of John.

Not being able to close the gap on Craig and John, I found myself in no man's land for the forth lap.  I was catching more 30-39 y/os and beginning to lap the women.  When I got to the big climb I see Mike Kelly from Biker's Edge who's been away all day and Matt Bodziony from NBX who had passed me on the 2nd lap.  As I was near the crest after passing a woman, I DROPPED MY F#CKING CHAIN!  
The lady passed me going into the singletrack where I tried to not be a dick and wait for a safe place to pass her.  I doubt she thought I was successful, but I did wait to the fireroad to get around her.

This gave Dominique Desmont from Danbury Audi the opportunity to get right on my tail.  I felt a sense of doom.  He was on a geared full suspension bike going into the section that Craig and John had consistently put time into me.  But the frustration of the chain drop had lit a fire in me.  On some of the hairier descents I'd hear his bike clanking behind me and I waited for the inevitable.  On the gradual climb I caught Matt from NBX.  There is one short road section before the last climb of the course.  If I can get to the climb, I'm home free.
I take a peak behind me as I reach the road and I don't see Dominique, but I do see Mike Kelly ahead.  If by some miracle I can get near him by the climb I might have a chance of pipping him at the line...

Anti climactic ending; I don't catch Mike and Dominique doesn't catch me, although he had a similar scheme in his head.

So how'd I do?  12 of 33.   If you were to cross reference my time with the SS (of course  I did!)  I would have been third in that class (a distant third), which had swelled to 13 riders after I registered for the 40-49.

Gear choice was good, and the conditions couldn't be better.

Now about the chain.   I hate to abandon the pretty cranks, but the problem started when they went on.  Monte gave me some suggestion on EBB setup and chain tension to try, but I just might go back to tried and true.

Fearless Leader suggested I try racing gears...