Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The dog days of winter"

Winter riding has it's challenges, Make no bones about it. The short dark cold days can get to you if you let them. It's the men who can get through it that have a distinct advantage come spring. Winter riding is not for the faint of heart. I too, often have trouble sticking to "the plan". Like today for instance. Snow is falling, cold as shit and somehow I have to squeeze in a 2hr plus ride. Do I go to the woods? Yesterday the trails were sweet and clear of snow. Today may be different, and you run the risk of not getting any quality riding if the snow is too deep. Do I go on the road? So tired of riding the road. The trainer? I don't think so, save that for really crappy days.
The only thing that keeps me going is that I know I'll be on a plane to Arizona by the end of January. That's only four weeks away. SSUSA here I come....Ready or not.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Did my first ride out of the new digs on Friday. A two hour jaunt, featuring some quad trails, a small piece of the AT (shish) and a very little bit of Wawayanda. The snow was still too deep so I did a lot of hiking but the rain held off so I was happy.
It feels weird riding such sweet trails right down the street. Normally in order to be in the woods I would have to deal with a long car trip, many stops at Dunkin Donuts and inevitably some mall traffic. This was surreal, an almost I could die here feeling. I looked at the sky the first night we were here and ran back in to tell Jocelyn, "I can not only see the stars, I can see whole constellations"
The best part is when I'm done riding the recovery can start Immediately....After the chores that is.....

Monday, December 21, 2009


Been riding from the apartment a lot lately. I don't know if I'm trying to save some gas or maybe just revisiting a few places that I know I'll never ride once I move, but it is nice not loading the car for a ride.
Jocelyn and I maybe ride from home 1 in 10 times. That means a car trip almost every day (sucks).
The house were buying is plopped right in the middle of the trails and roads I ride and I will be able to ride right out of the house (road and Mountain) 100% of the time.... Sweetness
I didn't realize it today when I was riding but we are closing this week, Wednesday they tell me. What this means is today's Lake Hiawatha loop is probably the last ride from East Rutherford. No more city road rides, no more Mills, no more Hilltop (sorry Chris) and no more red lights. I HATE red lights.

By the way; No more laundromats

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stoopid rides

Gerry, prepared to put the hurt on me today with his cheater bike

It seems like every year I make a similar mistake. There is always one ride that shouldn't have been done. Last year I ripped my derailleur of my cyclocross bike deep into "no cell phone coverage zone" many miles from the car with a 20mph wind on a 30deg day and walked on the road back to the car. Embarassing to say the least. The year before was the day after a nor'easter. With rising flood waters, I could do the out but not the back and shivered for hours in a Burger King while Jocelyn came to rescue me.
This year was the Ice Storm ride.

Today started out well enough, well enough for a road ride on a 25 degree day with a chance of rain (mistake). Rain is no problem, sleet and ice is. First two hours went without a hitch good tempo work with a couple of lead outs. Coming out of Harriman in the rain I became aware of a crunchy sound coming from my tires, better be careful I told myself. On Long Meadow road thru Stirling Forest I had the scare of my life. I came down the hill by International Paper at about 35mph completely out of control. The bike was sliding all over and I had to keep telling myself "stay loose, no brakes and no sudden movements". I considered ditching the bike in the snow bank when a salt truck passed me on the opposite side of the road but that would have meant a definite crash and most likely a long limp home. I don't know how but some how I managed to hang on. After that my nerves were shot. I could hardly ride the flats it was so icy and mostly rode on the unpaved shoulder on the downhills. 700 x 23c tires on dirt are not too good but a lot better than on ice. I hang my head in shame because when a passing motorist offered a ride I took it. I was soaked to the bone, covered in ice and shivering when to add to my embarrasment I started to defrost in the warm SUV. I was dripping water and road grime all over the seats. Thanks for the ride, for your hospitality you get a lengthy cleanup in your RX300. No seriously, "Thanks for the ride". Next time I will stick to the trails on a questionable day.

Until next years stoopid ride, that is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beer Cross Part 2

...LandShark laying out the non-rules...

Between Rossi trying to get "man friendly" at the start and Jocelyn throwing the stiffarm I had no chance, These distractions would compromise my position in the peloton. Like any good cyclocross non-race you can't make up for a bad start...

Check out this write up for a feminine view of the non-race of the year...

By the way, NEVER choose the dizzy bat option!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

N.E.C.S./Dark Horse Beer CX

Jocelyn, prepping for the nonrace

Happy promoter and resident land Shark, C-Dubs

I now know why they call him 3 beer...

Due to a undisclosed "upper body injury" Top Chef didn't race but showed up in costume anyway...

Eventual winner, Free Range Mark Waters

Who would have known Ike doesn't like organic chicken?

"The Mayor"(with antlers) Tackling the barriers...

Run, George, Run

Frosty cold PBR...

Thanks guys, lots of fun on a snowy day...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crunches Blow!!!!!

How I hope to look for Singlespeed-a-palozza in 2010
Gonna rip the cranks off the bike! (your bike that is)

Ab work sucks.....Its boring and I loath the time I spend on the floor doing many sit ups, planks, leg raises and such. Just riding the bike is so much easier, but conventional wisdom will tell you that you can only get so far just riding a bike (pun intended). I have read many articles on training and the general consensus is that cycling just doesn't stress the core muscles enough to make changes in performance. At the end of a long race what hurts the most? Often the lower back. Lower back pain usually equals week core. You do the math.
So here I am on the floor (working my abs) looking for the elusive step to the next level. Will I find it? Who knows. But as sure as shit on shoe I'll try and maybe unleash my inner Hulk in the process....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week one: In like a lion, out like a lamb

This week started off like hell, I was suffering badly. So badly that I was wondering if I even wanted to do this to myself again. Fortunately just as I predicted I found my groove. Somewhere out there was that rhythm and it took about five days to find it. That constant whirrrrrr of the drivetrain that I want to hear was not present early in the week. More like a vooop vooop vooop. Sloppy pedaling sucks the life out of you , makes you slow and is inefficient. Who wants to work hard to go slow? Not me sir...Leave that for the others..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Frustration station

Buying a house, Maybe? Maybe not....
Seems like a good time to make a purchase. Interest rates are low, prices are low and sellers seem desperate.
Make appointments,talk to Lawyers, Realtors, Inspectors and mortgage agents.
Found a house, offer accepted, Blah Blah Blah....
Wow those closing costs seem high..... Whats that? I thought you said no points! Whats that? I thought you said no P.M.I.!
Kaboom!!! Deal falls apart... Mostly due to the fact that I refuse to take it in the REAR..Oh well. I'll try again tomorrow. My dream house awaits me. It's out there somewhere.

On a lighter note I have begun foundation work for 2010, and its painful. Seems my mind still wants to put the hammer down but the body is unwilling. Going by years past it usually takes about a week or so to "find my pace".
I know its a little early to start training but the job situation is right (getting done at 1pm, sweet!), the body knows when its time (I'm getting a little doughy around the middle) and the mind is ready. So lets go.

Coming soon: Goals for 2010...

Monday, November 2, 2009

"This sport is stupid"

Somewhere around December I will begin beating my head against the wall.
In my attempt to prepare for the coming season I will endure wet leaves, ice, frozen trails, angry hunters, even angrier drivers and expensive plane tickets. I will use most, if not all of my vacation time to "train" during the worst possible conditions and the coldest weather all for the off chance of a few early season wins. A little glory if you will. My little slice of the pie.
All of this pain for naught it would seem because in starting this early I'm sure to be toast by July. Or maybe August the latest.
So why do I do it? The truth is I love this shit...

"True fitness, It's not a destination its the journey".

The training gives me a purpose and I would not be lying if I said I enjoy it more than the actual racing. I'd be training even if there were no races! No shit! I've been doing it for years.

A couple things I've learned in the last few years.
Number one: In order to be 10% better next year I'll need to do 50% more. Smarter + longer = stronger
Number two: Always have fun doing it. Yeah its hard work but every once in a while you've just got to let it go and just go ape shit giddy.
I'm now unofficially in "training" for Darkhorse beer cross. Watch out C-Dubs..

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Busy bee

Been way too busy to post. Not much going on in the mountain bike world (my world that is). More later....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Pumpkin Run"

Skipped the Heart of the Highlands for a more local race, the Rutherford "Pumpkin run". Drive an hour for a 20 minute workout or do one that I can walk to? Kind of a no brainer, Right?
Left the house about 9:50 for a 10:30 start.
Joc and I walked down to registration and after a short warm up the gun goes off.

Who's that guy with the freakishly huge legs?
Looking nothing like a good runner.
In the pain cave.
Normally envious, Joc was happy to be a spectator today.

My time for the 3 miles was 17:32 and I finished 6th overall. For the non runners that's a 5:51 average mile. Not bad, even if I say so myself.
Don't get me wrong, this race was painful. Just as painful as the 100 miler but in a different way (a puke in your mouth way).
As I write my legs seem to be getting increasingly sore, think I'll be feeling this one for a while.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Runners high...

The running season is upon us and I have decided to give a 5k a whirl. Haven't put my toes on the line at a running race in a couple years, two years to be exact. As a matter of fact this was the last running race I did. The only thing I can remember from the 2007 race was I got 3rd overall and my legs felt like they were gonna fall off for about two weeks. Seems like good bike fitness doesn't translate to good running fitness and vice versa. The only difference is this time I have been doing some trail runs leading up to this so maybe it won't hurt so much. I'm hopeful I can beat the fairly slow 6'10 pace I set in 2007. I'll be happy just not being crippled on Sunday. Stay tuned..

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

French toast?? (XDX 2.1)

When I first threw a leg over a 29er in the spring of 2008 one of the better looking tires out there was the XDX. Fast forward a year and a half and unfortunately not much has changed in the 29er tire world. Anyone who has talked to me long enough has most likely heard me voice my displeasure on the subject of 29er tires. In my opinion most of the tire company's seem not to be able or are unwilling to produce a durable tubeless race tire in the 29er version at a decent weight.
Except for Bontrager. Bontrager seems to be assembling a nice line up of 29er tires. Seems weird for a company (Trek) to have such a long line of 29er tires but not a long line of 29er bikes, But who's complaining? I'm not interested in Trek bikes anyway and I guess Fisher is a subsidiary of Trek but I'm not talking about bikes here. So if you own a Fisher or a Trek and I've offended you... Well you get the idea.
Back to the tires. The XDX has a thick casing to keep you from ripping the sidewalls and it works very well, My XDX tires show significant sidewall scuff but not one cut. As a matter of fact in the year and a half on at least 4 sets of the tires I can't recall one flat due to sidewall failure. The tire has a nice full feel, almost like a inch of suspension. This suspension quality is what keeps me coming back for more. At 59.95 a pop that's saying a lot.
The tread is a different story. Although this tire rolls very well on hardpack fire road and paved roads the "french toast" shaped knobs require some finesse to ride in anything but hardpack and loam and seem to wear very quickly. As the tire wears tread flats seem to become frequent and Stan's doesn't seal these tires at all. Must be why they don't recommend Stan's sealant, Duh. Also I must mention the tire slips on wet rock like the tread is lubed. While in practice this may improve bike handling its not something you want while racing. The knobs are well supported and don't roll over as the tire begins to slide. A good quality in dry hard corners, not so good on wet rock. The tire also needs to be "broken in". This can be done by riding it on the road for a while to get the shine off. In the mud the Bonty XDX (when new) offers decent traction and does not pack up at all. When the tire is worn (in the mud) it spins like a slick with every over torqued pedal stroke this singlespeeder can muster. This is when I start thinking about other options (like at Jungle this past weekend), But unfortunately there aren't many. So until then seems like I'm stuck with my Trek tires.

Suspension: 5 of 5
Mud shedding: 4 of 5
Rolling resistance: 4 of 5
Durability: 4 of 5
Puncture protection: 3 of 5
Cornering: 3 of 5
Weight: 3 of 5
Traction: 2 of 5

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rumble in the Jungle

Campmor H2H Race #7, Rumble in the Jungle, West Milford, NJ

...Hope the rain stays away...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off season training, Balboa style...

Every season In the spring I come in feeling great. Super strong on and off the bike. A full winter of crosstraining ie: lifting weights, Snowshoeing, rollerblading, trail running as well as riding has me fit, strong and ready to go.
But somewhere around April just about when the "real" racing is about to begin the workouts change. Slowly the crosstraining is phased out replaced by more race specific riding..

By June I've become one dimensional, Only able to ride a bike well...

By September I always regret this...

This Saturday Gerry and I took steps to change this.
Not wanting to waste money on joining the gym this year we cleared a large space in the woods behind his house for our "gym". It's crude, I know, but it's free and if you decide to quit after only a few months there are no contracts to break and best of all no stories to make up about being out of town "taking care of your sick aunt's cats in Wichita". Besides that who wouldn't want to be outside?

..Bench..(for abs, chest or whatever else I can dream up)

..Pullup bar..

..Step up station..(for lateral stepups, jump squats, etc.)

We also have a Farmers walk station where you pick up a large weight walk it up a trail only to return and a large flat rock for squat thrusts, cleans and shoulder work.
My first workout was on Wednesday followed by a thirty minute trail run and man I'm sore. I'm looking forward to getting back in shape. Its all about changing it up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shenandoah 100 recap

Down to the mountains of Virginia this weekend with the guys from Darkhorse for the Shenandoah 100 with zero thoughts of doing anything but finishing. Somehow the mountain gods were on my side and I ended up with so much more. The bane of my existence (the blazing sun) was completely absent this day and the temps were cool. So cool some were wearing arm and leg warmers at the start. Perfect Monte weather.

My plan was to ride this "race" at my training pace and hope for a sub 9 hour performance. I finished in 8 hours 2 minutes (16th overall and fastest singlespeeder) not bad for a off season race that I did like zero training for, not to mention the fact that I haven't finished a race in about 2 months so my confidence was at a all time low.

We were up at 4:30 and before the sun was up I was sitting in line with about 500 riders waiting for the start. Due to the dusty conditions the promoters decided to pace us out with a moto onto a flat straight road about 1/2 mile away.
Neutral start is over and I'm somewhere mid pack trying to do as little as possible taking advantage of the enormous draft from 500 riders (at this point I lost a little respect for TDF riders). At the prerace meeting the promoter announced there would be a prime at the 10 mile marker for the first singlespeeder and I knew If I was to have any chance of doing well I was not going to challenge for it.
The first 31 miles to aid station 2 went without a hitch, Just riding my race not allowing myself to get caught up in any craziness that accompanies most races in the first hour or two. Passing a few riders, some passing me back, most I would see again soon, some with punctured tires. Just settling in nicely.
Between aid station 2 and 3 I started to have trouble with my legs (some slight cramping) but I was able to stretch on the downhills and thank god they had endurolites at station 3. I would later take them at every aid station.
3 to 4 fairly uneventful, Just trying to stay hydrated and fueled for the big climbs ahead. Cramps seem to have subsided but still give me a little twinge every once in a while as if just to say hello.
Aid station 5 is about 3/4 up the top of a 25 mile climb with the last 4 miles before the station being the steepest, something like 15% I've heard. Rolling out of 4 I hooked up with a gearie who pulled me to the base of the climb. This would turn out to be the winning move. On the false flat before the climb (with me sucking major wheel) I would come across who at the time was in first place Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale). We went by so fast he barely gave a effort to jump on. I didn't know at the moment but I was now first single speed and about 35th overall. The climb continues after aid station 5 for what seems like forever (this is where I started to respect TDF riders again) and the downhill to aid station 6 is hardly worth all the up you just went through but looking at the profile it seems to get easier from here. Everything seems easier now.
At aid station 6 Laura Winbury was volunteering and informed me I was about 20th overall and 1st single gear weirdo to come through. Something clicked and at this point I put my race face on and managed to cover the final 12 miles in about 43 minutes to finish this debacle.
Getting ready to pop the champagne.

Exhausted from the effort I cleaned up and waited for my teammates and new friends to roll in. Plopping my tired ass near the finish line, eating many cheeseburgers and just taking in the scene I may have even shed a tear or two.... Maybe
Thanks to all the guys at Darkhorse cycles racing for making this a super fun weekend, one I will surely remember for a lifetime. You guys put the fun in racing and that's what this dopey singlespeeder needs.
Next up: who knows, who cares. How can you top this?


Monday, September 7, 2009

What happens at Shen, Stays at Shen

When we arrived there was a large bear-like creature in our campsite.....

C-Dubs adding some "special sauce" to his drop bag.....

Somehow this Trek 69er frame is now in my possession.....
More on this later.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wanna save some money, Kid

Second WTB laserlite disk hub casualty in a two week span. When am I gonna learn? Sometimes you get what you pay for. Repeat after me: A single speeder should never "cheap out" on a rear hub.
So now Im off to SM100 with a 40 pound rear wheel. Surly hub, Straight guage spokes and a screw on ACS BMX freewheel. This is my bombproof winter setup. Did I mention the bolt on axel? Now I have to carry a socket set for a hundred miles. Sweet.
Oh, and I'm stuck with a 34X19 so there surly be some walking in my future.
Sounds like fun...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mountain biking in N.J.

Once again I have stumbled upon a superfund site. At one time this was the portal to my universe, my mountain bike mecca. Even though the orange fences and inspection wells will not keep me from entering it somehow gives you a uneasy feeling riding here.
Seems like DouchePont, oops I meant to say DuPont has managed to pollute this trailhead with some sort of chemicals most likely seeping into the soil courtesy of the plant a block away. This soccer field was once used by kids playing, so many that on a weekday afternoon you could hardly park to access the trail. Now it is just another cleanup site. I wonder how the residents of Barbara Dr. in Pompton Lakes are taking the news, the chemicals have surely found their way into the basements and crawlspaces as well. Glad I didn't buy that house on the corner I was looking at a few years ago.
One other site that is famous in the Ringwood area is the Ford paint sludge dumping operation. Seems Ford payed the mafia in the 60s and 70s to get rid of their waste and the mob just dumped it in the abandoned mines scattered around Ringwood. more on that here.
Oh well I guess that's living in New Jersey, The garbage state

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Have fun, Stay single"

Rain! What rain?

Registered for Shenandoah in the single speed class. Must be out of my mind. 100 miles on a rigid single gear machine sounds like a lot but I'm doing it because I just want to be able to let my mind be free. Plus this past weekend after spending some time with my SS (getting reacquainted with a old friend) How could I go with the gears?
This post almost started as a top ten reasons why a single kicks ass but I will spare all of you the agony of my thoughts and just give the tippy top reason.
(1) Cleanup is a breeze

The lack of maintenance on a rigid single is a treat after a 6 hour day

Just blast it with the hose and lube the chain. maybe 5 minutes tops..

Remember kids: Ride it like ya stole it, then put it away dirty...