Monday, June 29, 2009

"Just a bit outside"

Sometimes when I'm hanging out after a race I'm asked questions about my training. They go something like this. What do you do during the week? How did you ride the course so fast? Well let me tell you there is no magic pill. I used to play hockey and there are many variables that are not in mountain bike racing. In mountain biking there is no 200lb defender to block your way, no hot goalie to stop your perfect top shelf shot. Unlike many other sports you get out what you put in. What I mean by this is that if you want to win a two and a half hour xc race training for only a hour and a half isn't gonna cut it. I cant tell you how many people I know who can't get past the 2 hour mark on a training ride, My question is: how do you even finish a race? Training is typically done at a reduced pace from what you race at so how do you expect to be able to go faster and longer on race day? I know your coach says If you do so many intervals at specific times you will be fast for the important races and this may be true. But whats the sense of being fast if half the field goes by you in the third lap?

This is a endurance sport, endurance is a premium. We don't typically race forty five minute short tracks or 20 mile crits. So why do we train for them? Intervals will make you rev faster like a sports car but the turbo diesel keeps coming. Remember speed is useless If you can't hold it for more than a couple minutes. Just my two cents.......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sometimes two wrongs do make a right...

....Last nights dinner (the 1lb bag)....

It's Thursday and I'm still cleaning mud out of my ears. After Sundays race I have not even looked at the 1x9 let alone set to the arduous task of dismantling and cleaning every crevice on the ill fated machine. The brake pads I pulled from the front wheel confirmed what I expected on my second lap when my brakes started making a horrific metallic screech whenever I pulled the lever. The front hub wont turn by hand and will be requiring a "servicing" and the rear wheel does spin but the disk brake is rubbing horribly and the lever goes right to the bars. Probably gonna need to do something about that.

I don't know why but it seems like I only choose to ride gears in the most dismal conditions, ie Hop Brook and the Gallop this year. The single would make much more sense. Easy to clean, no pulleys to gunk up. Just blast it off with the hose and go. The only thing I can think is sometimes you need to do everything wrong to get it right.

Monday, June 22, 2009


.At least we didn't have to sleep in it.

I'm still left speechless and am finding a hard time writing about this one, but here we go. I opted for the 1x9 this race just to switch things up and I pretty much ended up riding a single speed anyway. Who would have known that grip shift is impossible in the mud. Seems when you get mud on your gloves it becomes very hard to twist the little shifty thingy (almost impossible). I went for the 1x9 mostly because at the gallop the start just eats the single speed guys up, With the Alesios ,Seamus Powell and Mike Mooradian sitting at the line I knew this would be a tough start . It didn't quite work out like that mostly because of the 99 inches of rain we have had in the past 3 weeks there were huge puddles on campground road (prologue lap) and this kept the normally torrid starting pace at a somewhat comfortable level for me. Campground wasn't in that bad of shape, some slippery stuff and a couple large puddles. I'm thinking if it stays like this everything should be cool. Hammer up the fire road towards Major Mike staying in contact with the leaders who now have opened it up because this is the first and turns out to be the only section of clean trail. I warmed up on the road mostly because I didn't want to roll to the line trashed like Roger Foco did. Rog you looked like you had just finished the race not about to start one. So I had no idea what was ahead and apparently was about to find out. Like Lemmings about to fall off a cliff to their deaths we made the left into Major Mike, after cresting the two small hills the daily soaking Stewart has gotten in the past month had reared its ugly head. The trail had sections with a foot or more of peanut butter, Total devastation. I'm glad I didn't preride because If I would have seen what was ahead I may have rolled right through the start finish, getting in the car and driving right to the nearest Cracker Barrel. The Mud was so deep in most places and so well churned up that it had the consistency of a protein shake or maybe more like a coffee coolata. I was told the darkhorse guys had built some bridges and they were helpful, kind of like a oasis only the muck was the desert and the bridges were salvation. Just make sure you launch the far end because there were sinkholes after each one looking to swallow your front wheel.
First time through there I kind of picked my way down losing a little time only to catch the Alesios and Seamus on Sara's Way, Mooradian was up the road a little and out of sight but no worry because about a half lap in he was on the side of the trail fixing his bike never to be seen again, this seemed to be the theme for the day. Second lap its Andrew Alesio, Dylan Alesio and me, Half way through this lap Dylan loses his brakes and skids off the trail into the abyss gone for the day. The third lap I take the lead on Major Mike and get a gap on Andrew, The funny thing is I don't think I used my brakes at all on the final two laps I just aimed for the deepest mud and It slowed you right down. I wasn't nervous the last lap of this race like I usually am when I'm in the lead because i knew that If anyone caught me they were gonna go right by, I had nothing left. Completely spent I slowly climbed the gravel hill for the last time, almost crashing into the scorers table with my hands in the air for the win.
......No chainsuck for me SBC, your voodoo chants didn't work.....
Roger, major props again, coming back after your yard sale, busted helmet and all. you are a true competitor.
I hope Major Mike dries up sometime this summer It's a super cool fast technical trail when dry that unfortunately it has some drainage issues, guess that's what you get with a converted motocross trail sometimes.
Finally I'd like to say this may have been one of the toughest races to date. Most other promoters would have canceled and left the racers wondering what if, but not the Darkhorse guys. You did the best you could with the conditions we had and I think I speak for everyone when I say thanks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Cooooked

Worlds largest frying pan...

Wow what a difference a couple weeks can make, two weeks ago I'm on top of the world winning singlespeed-a-palooza and a few other races and now I'm feeling like shit. Big fat D.N.F. at Williams Lake definitely a low point in the season. It should be no surprise to me, I could smell it a mile away. The stench of starting a season in February has finally caught me and basically knocked me to my knees like a porta john on a hot summer day.
The funny thing is I just want to ride right now. Having the stress of racing every Sunday that I normally thrive off of has gotten to me, pulverizing me and leaving me a semi-broken man. Maybe a slight exaggeration

Oh well maybe its time to repriortize the rest of the season, cutting down on the number of races and focusing on only a few key events sounds good to me right now. The Gallop, Bulldog Rump and the 40 are definite. I would also like to do another 6hr and a hundred miler. I know, I know I said I'm out of that club but by tweaking a few things on the bike and with my fitness, maybe, just maybe I can salvage something out of the rest of this season...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Identity Crisis

Here we go again. My alter ego has reared it's ugly head. I woke up today wondering if I could be better, stronger and faster on a geared mountain bike. The wondering only got worse when I got to work and my buddy Steve handed me the latest issue of some random mountain bike publication he FOT (railroad speak for found on train). As I was reading this mag (in between stops on the 6:04) lusting over Julian Absalon's carbon fiber Orbea I thought to myself maybe I should put my geared bike back together. You see I bought this frame and built it up in March and since then I only raced it at Hop Brook Dam. I know what your thinking. Wasn't Hop Brook muddy as shit? Wouldn't a single speed be better in those conditions? And my answer is yes and yes and the bike or the body or possibly both didn't perform well either. After my 20mph face plant in the muddy field on the 3rd lap I not only lost my impetus dropping from 3rd to 5th but my bike didn't seem to want to up shift. Maybe the derailleur was tweaked or maybe my cables were gunked up but it didn't matter because I was cracked anyway. I was hurting because chasing Tim Johnson and Andrew Freye is no easy task on any bike and that's the number one reason for my Superman like dive off the bike anyway.
Alright lets get back on topic. So I come home from work and today was a scheduled off day from riding anyway so I pull the shifter,cables, derailleur and a new chain out of the bike part box and I get to work. As I work I'm daydreaming of putting the hammer down on Sunday at William's Lake, Shifting into the big ring and showing everyone how to do it. On the opening climb I attack, putting all the top guys into oxygen debt early as they all beg for mercy I relentlessly hammer them into submission. Then somewhere around the installation of the chain I start to get the twangs of doubt. Brian Kelly is preregistered and it's his first pro open race. He will be on a single speed most likely trying to take a crack at me. Who am I to deny him that chance. What if Dougherty shows up? I can't ride gears against him. That would be sacrilegious. I would have passed up the chance to race mano y mano against one of the most achieved single geared guys out there. Not to mention Sean Cavanaugh, he may show up. We have had some epic single gear battles. But mostly I feel a obligation to the singlespeed crowd and would feel like somewhat of a sellout on a geared bike.
I guess I'm coming back to earth as Sybil goes to sleep for another day I put the geared bike back in the bike room. Its only 90% complete but I'm only 100% sure of one thing...... I'm a singlespeeder

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blister's mean you're weak, Right?

Well this weekend was a stretch to say the least it all started on Thursday with my hilly road ride. Starting in Ringwood hitting Greenwood lake, Harriman state park and returning on Long Meadow road this ride has 4 climbs over 2.5 miles and If you're not feeling good can eat you alive. Luckily enough I recovered very well from Singlespeed-a-palooza and the ride was a breeze and actually quite enjoyable at tempo, strange huh.
Saturday I woke at 4:45 to leave my house at 6am the plan being ride to Glen Rock where I will meet Steve Mancuso and than we will ride over to Oakland to do the Pedal Sports Saturday morning hammer fest. I pull into Glen Rock around 6:30 no Steve in sight Hmmm, seems Steve sent me a text message saying he's running late and will meet me at Oakland (I always have my phone handy on a road ride.. NOT) No biggie. Get to pedal sports Steve's ready to go, Gerry doesn't show (big surprise) and we are getting looked up and down by the group. The ride shoves off and It seems like no one is willing to drive the pace. Now I didn't come out for a Saturday snooze fest so Steve and I try to incite the group by taking turns on the front, It doesn't work and we end up pulling the whole group for the entire 30 miles, Oh well I was looking for a workout anyway. after the ride we talked to Ken for a while about pack dynamics and stuff and finally set off for home. with the exception of a some verbal threats involving a mini van at a stop light a Ridgewood cop and later a huge flock of geese the ride home was uneventful. Question; Who's more agressive, some jerkoff in a minivan on a Saturday morning or a flock of Canada geese?

Sunday Sunday Sunday. I haven't done a 6hr race in a while and I figured it would be a good way to get some endurance training in so Jocelyn and I packed up the car and headed up to Schenectady N.Y. for Heather Rizzi's 6 hour race the plan being just to get a good ride in and have some fun. Pulling into the parking area I had a short conversation with Joe Yannazo and he said the place is pretty flat so I swapped the 18t for a 17t and with no preride embarked on my 6hr adventure. Some where around lap #2 I caught up with the head of the race and sat on that wheel for a couple laps just to learn the ins and outs of the place. Hour 2 I find myself in the lead not feeling great but not bad either, Ya see I'm a little over geared even though the place is mostly flat it does have some short steep ups and it is quite windy so windy you get dizzy. Around hour 4 I have a fairly commanding lead and I've grooved the track and at one of my pit stops I ask Jocelyn (who called it quits earlier) to give me a accurate count to the next rider, she tells me I'm ahead by 10 minutes. Perfect, I have no plans on doing any more laps than I need to and at 5hrs 25 minutes I set out on my last lap, Ive been doing 30 minute laps all day and I'll just ride easy this last one and come across the finish at exactly 6hrs. Easier said than done. My hands are killing me and I can hardly hold onto the handle bars any more but I manage to roll over the line for the win at exactly 6hrs bloody and bruised and glad its over. :-)

A couple of points to mention...
(1) I now remember why I haven't done a race over 4 hours in 2 years
(2) I officially take myself out of the I want to do a hundred miler club
(3) normally I feel suspension is unnecessary (this is not one of those times)
Also kudos to Gerry for finishing his first 6hr, 6th place 10 laps sweet

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Weekend Plans

Heading out on the road today for my traditional Ringwood "baseball field" loop. I'm suppose to be meeting up with another mtb pro for a 3 hour endurance road ride through Greenwood Lake and Harriman state park at 1:30 but it looks like rain and I haven't heard from him yet. Riding alone is good, I don't like being pushed all the time and if you ride with others you end up stopping more often. Stopping is BAD. It always seems like the bigger the group the more flat tires, dropped chains, loose stem bolts, forgotten bottles or gu and your garden variety of minor mechanicals that will put your average heartrate in the can I even call that a workout zone. So I'll go it alone and I'll get one killer of a workout for sure.
This weekend endurance is the theme. I'm thinking of getting a long ride on Saturday with some intensity in the middle probably gonna ride over to Oakland and do the Pedal Sports ride then ride home (about 4hrs total).
Team Bulldog rider Steve Mancuso turned me on to the Pedal Sports guys a couple of weeks ago and their ride is a blast. 1hr 20 min take no prisoners drop ride. Drop rides are fun they are the closest you can get to a race without pinning a number on and we all know I like races...

Heather and the boys, (hope I can leave the tights and arm warmers home)

On Sunday Jocelyn and I are heading up to do Heather Rizzi's 6hr in Schenectady N.Y. This event low key and only 10 bucks, perfect for a Sunday afternoon, perfect for my waning endurance and hopefully perfect weather. Keep your fingers crossed...

Duff Man wants you to line up at the Darkhorse 40

with the 40 coming up in a little less than 2 months my focus is on the longer rides and races....The 40 is the king of all events...You must attend

Monday, June 1, 2009

Singlespeed-a-polooza recap

Wow what a great event, Dark Horse cycles up in Montgomery, N.Y. really went all out for this one.
With riders coming from all over the northeast some as far as Canada (god bless you man) this race set up to be a barn burner from the start. As far as the competition some of the big names showing up were Emile Smith (Bethel cycle), Sean Cavanaugh (Bethel cycle), Thom Parsons (Gary Fisher 29er crew) Jesse Jakomait sporting his new team kit (Cannondale factory)(pic above), James Harmon (503 cycleworks), Terry Blanchet (Cannondale factory) and "the professor of singlespeeding" Rob Stine (Bikers edge). These guys I consider the Singlespeed cream of the crop, racing their single geared bikes week after week against pro geared riders and often winning.
Lets get to the race. I went with a pretty large gear (34x16 on a 29er) because I knew the downhill start was going to be a factor and I was right. Roger Foco (Vicious cycles) was the only one willing to smoke his legs at 160+ rpms to stay with me on the start so I backed off right before the singletrack letting him take the lead. He took the bait and I let him pace me up the first climb. Shortly after on the descent I passed him back knowing the fast flat doubletrack was coming up and with my huge gear it would be my time to shine. About 2 miles In and I'm totally alone with 18 to go and now its time to settle into a sustainable pace. For me a sustainable pace is about 170bpm (some pace huh). When you get alone off the front you have to try to ride as smooth as possible minimizing mistakes all while holding back ever so slightly just in case you do get caught, You want to be able to respond if you do. At about mile 8 it all came together, I was unconscious. Now if your a single speeder you know exactly what I'm talking about, the zen like feeling that you get when your riding well. It goes like this the pedals tick over effortlessly at a high cadence the tires grip the trail perfectly your breathing is perfect even the climbs feel effortless. Frankly Its why I ride. So anyway I rode in a zen like state till about mile 19 when I took a look over my shoulder to see if anyone was chasing me down, nobody was in sight and I got extremely happy. Coming over the line I did my best Sabine Spitz impression from the Olympic games (lifting my bike over my head) ecstatic and relieved I had won.
The post race party was awesome with just about everyone hanging out for the awards ceremony.
Major props to Jesse for 2nd place (in daisy dukes and a Curt Cobain flannel shirt). And for first year pro Roger Foco for 3rd Way to step up Rog.
Also thanks to all the guys over at Darkhorse Cycles, The most competitive all around fun races ever....can't wait for the 40


Our friends up at Dark Horse cycles in New York are putting on a single speed only race this weekend (may 31) at Stewart state forest near Newburgh N.Y.
This race is shaping up to be one heck of a challenge with the Pro/Expert class filling up with the best single geared guys in the northeast.
I've decided on a 34x16 gear combo for this course. I ran this same gearing at Fair Hill in the spring with good results and I trained on it at Stewart as well as out in Arizona in Feburary. This might sound like a huge gear but I've previewed the course and I feel like I need to get a good start because the single track comes after almost a mile of road on a slight downhill and has the potential to cause huge gaps in what is setting up to be a huge field of riders.

We shall soon see.....

Winsted Woods, Root66#3

Just sat down to writing after this weekend at Winsted woods (root66) and I've got to say we lucked out with the weather. I was talking to a bud of mine who went to Tymor park in N.Y. to race H2H series #2 and he said it poured all morning and the course was nearly unrideable, Glad I skipped that one.
Anyway here's my race report.
I had my usual back of the pack start even though I lined up in the front row mostly due to a slipped pedal on stroke #1 but no big deal since this race has a lot of climbing and I know tons of places to make up time as long as nobody misses on the first technical hill (nobody did). After about 5 minutes I noticed the pace starting to soften at the back so John Foley (Gary Fisher 29er crew) and I started to move through the field toward the front group that included Greg Carpenter, Seamus Powell (Windham Mt. outfitters) and Tim Johnson (Ouch p/b Maxxis). Tim seemed to be just sitting in trying to burn up Greg and Seamus and I was just fine with that for the remainder of the first lap. Now if you've ever raced at Winsted you know the course is a series of long climbs followed by a short steep washed out downhill. Downhill not being my thang I attacked on the final climb hoping to force the group to ride my pace on the downhill, It worked I came around at the end of the first lap attached to the lead group. Tim attacked going into lap two and I got stuck behind Greg and Seamus on the opening climb but didn't panic. Once there was a opening I went into pursuit mode and began to reel Tim back in. This task took the better part of a whole lap. So here we are on lap 3 I'm on Tim's wheel he gives a couple of hard efforts to try and shed me, but I worked too hard to get here I'm not going anywhere. On the only run up section (for Singlespeeders that is) I took over and after a short period of time I realize Tim is not there anymore. Could he be cracking? More on that later. Lap 4 I was alone and having fun riding as smooth as possible gaining time on everyone, pretty uneventful. Lap 5 I was reduced to a bumbling idiot, I took every bad line and had to run sections I previously had no issues on all, the whole time looking over my shoulder for someone to catch me from behind. Fortunately they never came. I came over the line In first place knowing that I gave it all and glad it was over. Afterward I learned there was a major shakeup in the original breakaway group with Greg and Seamus cracking and Tim getting a flat shortly after I took the lead. First XC win of the season. Next up Singlespeed-a-polooza.....
Winsted results