Monday, February 22, 2010

Monte's "death camp ride"

I started riding to High Point in the mid 90's. I was living in Greenwood Lake, N.Y. and with the beautiful Warwick valley just on the other side of the mountain, how could I resist? Of course back then I was a summertime roadie, didn't even know what a mountain bike was and didn't care. Hockey was my main sport and everything I did in the summer was to make the winter leagues and tournaments more enjoyable. I remember this ride being tough, and out of all the old loops I used to know this one survived in the memory banks. I would revisit this training loop at least once a year, often bringing "guests" along for the ride. This winter I bought a house near Wawayanda and started exploring some old road loops again, only this time on a singlespeed mountain bike. Why ride a mountain bike on the road? Because its effing cold and up these parts the roads are salted and sanded so heavily that skinny tires would have trouble. Plus I don't need to go as far. Let me explain. Last fall I did a 100 mile road ride (by myself) and covered that distance in 4hr 47m. I needed to do just about every loop in the northern N.J. area and not even accomplish a 5hr ride, The same ride on the SS would have taken close to 7hrs. That's if I could have averaged 15mph. Not a easy feat. This Saturdays ride was 5hrs on a 35x18 at 13mph av included the famous High Point hill climb and to add insult to injury the 5 mile climb up Brady Mountain (at times 17%) comes at the end of the ride. According to Jim from Pawling Cycle (he has a I phone) we climbed close to 6000ft.
So what should you take from this? I'll tell you. A bike is a bike, and in the winter as long as your pedaling your body doesn't know the difference. As a matter of fact most mountain bikers need to learn to ride more constant so you would think road miles would be good.
But then again, I'm just a dopey Singlespeeder...

Jim cresting the climb on Brady Mtn.
Some turned back early and hide their heads in shame

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Douchebag of the year

T.W. is a douche bag! Let me tell you why. For the last three months since his scandal broke the Almighty has been in hiding. Sex rehab? Gulf coast? Maybe Mexico? Nobody has been able to track the philandering golf great down. There were rumors that he may surface in Arizona for a tournament earlier this month. But he didn't. Good, Bad, Do you care?
So when does the Idiot decide to rear his sorry head? Smack dab in the middle of the Olympics. Yesterday I'm watching speed skating (a event that I get to see only once every four years) when Bob Costas announces that El Tigre will be holding a press conference in Florida on Friday.
Front page news this morning wasn't Lyndsey Vonn's Gold on a badly bruised shin. Nor was it Shonny Davis repeating gold in the 1000 meters. It was the idiot of the year. Narcissistic, media hungry ahole.
Do us a favor and keep yourself hidden for a few more weeks. When the athletes who worked their asses off for years (for five minutes of face time) are done performing.
Then we can go back to talking about how many chicks you banged.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homeward bound...

Took my last desert ride today. Nine miles over to the SSUSA course, did a lap on the 35x18 then rode home. Sixty five miles total. I don't ever count miles, They're relative. Thirty miles at home could take 4 hours. Today's ride took 5. Go figure? or don't...
The feeling of dread has been building all week. The realization that my annual trip to Arizona that normally brings me back to Jersey by late February (a week or two from spring) this time will time bring me back February 13th. With at least four more weeks of northeast winter to go (FU Punxsutawney Phil) I have to bear down and pray the next few weeks are kinder than the rest of the winter has been. Riding lots of hours in 20* weather and snow sucks but that's what is in store for me. Ya see I made my bed and now it's time to lay in it.
For those that remember the 80's classic, American Flyer's. "RES FIRMA MITESCERE NESCIT" Loosely translated to "once you've got it up, keep it up". Thanks John Amos.
There is no backing off now. Just keep pushing ahead. Soon it will all get warmer..... And then we'll become one with the MUD!

See you at the Mash....

Reggie,(warm inside) enjoying the snow from his window.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SSUSA Tucson, AZ

I always suck at lemans starts! It seems like I can never find my bike and then spend the next 5 minutes trying to catch up. This lemans start was no different. By the time I was reunited with my machine the lead pack was a hundred yards away and already around one of the many switchbacks on the opening climb. I worked my way up through the field to the front group dragging Niner pro rider Tim Allen with me. Last year at the Estrella hedgehog hustle, Tim went flying by me fast enough to make my head spin (he had gears) en route to the eventual win (I got fourth). This year was different. The lead group had about 9 riders including John (Fuzzy) Mylne (Niner Bikes) among others. There was a acceleration from Tim, splitting the group and dropping his teammate Fuzzy. Often when the pace slows a little after a acceleration there is a counter move and this time was no different. Climbing well within in my range I went with this move. Dax Massey (Bach Builders) and yours truly off the front 10 minutes into the race. The pace vehicle goes by shortly after and someone screams out of the window "Don't you guys watch the Tour De France? The initial break never stays away". We yelled back "yeah but they get the best photo ops". Dax and I worked together to lengthen the gap and after about a hour of racing had it to only about a minute. The 3 mile climb up to high Chiva would finally break the spirits of the chase group but unfortunately put me into the red zone and with not much intensity in my legs as of late I found some slight cramps beginning. Still hanging with Dax we worked our way back up the road into the final section of the race. This section would prove to be the most challenging with short punchy climbs, tough technical descents and so many small drops and roll offs my arms will be sore for weeks. Dax would get a gap on me here and there wasn't anything I could do about it. I was now in survival mode. The efforts to get rid of the rest of the field proved successful but at a cost. I was cracking. Keeping the gap respectable (mostly due to my preride of this ultra technical trail) I rolled into the finish 2 minutes behind Dax for a sweet 2nd place.
It was nearly 15 minutes before third would come in...

Later, the party was kicking and Dejay announced "who ever wants to host next years event, pick a partner and sign up". I picked my new bud Keith from Massachusetts and we proceeded through many heats to make it to a tug of war finals against a team from Colorado...
Sorry George, SSUSA is not coming to Rock Tavern, N.Y. next year.
So close but yet so far. Maybe if I didn't ride as hard I would have had something left for the match.

Racing for Dark Horse has made me somewhat of a minor celebrity. Seems like everyone knows of our kooky little team from N.Y.
The guys from Dales Pale Ale say hi...
James, Very happy with his 5th place finish

Ha Ha, your bike isn't that big after all (think 36er)

Many pizzas were consumed

And a good time was had by all...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Rode up to check out the first half of the SSUSA course yesterday. I had so much fun on the back half the other day I'd thought I'd give it a whirl. This half started off the same. Instead of dropping into the Arizona trail on the left (at the top of the 9 mile climb) I would go right.
Super fast swooping single track for about 3 miles dumps you out on a road. On this road you go about a half mile to a series of gates. The gates on the left go into a corral with no singletrack in sight. Can't be that way, right? So even though the map says left at gates I continue to follow this road hoping to see the trail somewhere. A few miles later and I'm back on Redington Rd (the opening climb). Ok,a slight detour, I'll just jump back into the singletrack I started on and in a few minutes I'll be back at the gates, at least I'll get to know this piece well. Back at the gates, I go through the corral and see a washed out stream bed ahead. This is the trail? Must be! Using my backwoods tracking skills I follow a Kenda Nevegal footprint through the stream bed. Sometimes riding, sometimes walking this is tough going. The stream turns to trail and eventually dumps you out on FR4426 where you make a left. FR4426 is a long exposed climb up to the top of Chiva Falls where you make a right on FR4405. We all know I love riding fire roads (sarcastic tone).
Here's where the story gets good: I'm looking for a corral then a piece of singletrack under a tree (great description). Finding the corral (I think) but I can't find the single track, Must be up the road further. I descend on this fire road with my chest on the saddle for what seems like miles until I come to a river. This river looks to be about 6" deep with a sandy bottom so I pull a wheelie drop off the bank into the river, fully expecting to ride right across.
Wrongo!! Front wheel goes into the sand up to the headset (no bullshit), I manage to put my left foot down before going OTB and am now stuck in quicksand up to my hip. Looking like I'm pulling off some strange yoga pose (standing crane with bike between legs) , I manage to wriggle myself free. At this point this is not fun anymore, I'm in the middle of the desert, lost, stuck in quicksand and know I have a lengthy walk ahead of me. Remember all the fun downhill? I now have to backtrack to who knows where, Maybe the whole course? And it's getting hot. After a long hot walk I come back onto the corral and right there, plain as day is the missing singletrack. How did I miss it? I curse under my breath and take the remainder of the course out to Redington Rd.
I arrive back at my mothers house an hour or so later a beaten man. My 3hr planned ride turned into a five and a half hour epic and I averaged 140 bpm the whole time. Not what I was looking for four days before a race.
James is coming in later today and I'm sure he'll want to ride. I think I'll rest till then...

P.S. If your strategy for the race this Saturday was to follow me? You may want to rethink that...Under my direction, we might not make it back for the after party...