Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Much more like Bruce Leroy...

There's something about riding gears that makes you think it's gonna be easier than riding a single speed. It is, if you want to be slow, but if you want to go fast it's actually harder. Much harder. A single speed bike is forced pacing....
Sunday 909 Pleasant Valley, N.Y. (while on the first trip up the infamous bulldozer climb) Aaron Snyder (Scott Bikes) decided the group we were in was too slow for his liking, so he jumped. Like a well heeled roadie, I followed.... Right move? Wrong!! Sean Cavanaugh (Bethel Cycle) would later tell me that there was no way he could keep with that acceleration and was amazed that I did. Well my single speed brother, I couldn't either. Sean caught me on the downhill after the ridge and then shortly after I took a spill. Like a pickpocket on the train he then stole 4th place from me, never to be seen again. No longer in contention and a little shook up from my tumble I began to look for the easier gears. Riding like this for a while Johan passed me followed soon after by Greg Waggoner. Not yet recovered from the early heroics I could grab neither wheel. Then It was Scott Feltmate's (Bethel Cycle) turn. Scott says "Monte, lets work together to bring these guys back". Sounds good to me and I jump on Scott's wheel. Scott sets the pace for a while then falls off, so I'm back in no mans land. On the final lap I can see Josh Wilcox (503 Cycleworks) making his way up to me. Shit!! Josh takes the lead on the descent off the ridge and I follow. He's trying hard to get rid of me but I dig deeper than I should and end up mounting a last minute attack to take my 7th place back. Three hours four minutes and change, 42min first lap, 45 second, 48 third and a 49 on the fourth lap. Not good, but better than last week.
So what went wrong? First of all I knew prior to the race I was gonna cover every move I could. This type of race plan is normally a mistake for me, I just don't recover after going that deep. Constant pacing is the way to the podium in a three hour plus race, but constant pacing often puts you alone in no-mans-land. Not knowing how to ride gears, I need someone to copy off of, "bootleg their style" so to say. Plus one of the reasons for me riding gears is so I can make that front group and you can't do that from 15 riders back with a "I don't want to blow up" mentality. The second mistake is that while alone I tend to get into a mindset of "oh, just finish now". This never happens on a single because of the sit stand or walk principle. On a single you either go fast or go home. Forced pacing, right?
I need to find the perfect balance on the gears, Neither too hard or too slow. So this weekend in a attempt to find some flow, I'll do what I know best...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Norcross Scurry and the 909

Keith Stone is smooth...With gears...I'm not!

With my mountain bike season officially over at this point it's time to have some fun. Knowing I'm gonna be racing geared next year I've decided to start paying my dues early. With the exception of experimenting with a one by nine setup (34T and a road cassette) for a race or two last year I haven't ridden a geared bike since 2005. Back then I was a sport class rider, now I'm a pro with sport class geared skills. Let me explain.
Shifting is not a natural thing for me in the trails. Normally I pedal hard and when I see a hill: I pedal harder, when I see a steeper hill: I sprint and when I see a hill that's to steep to ride: I run. Sit, stand or walk that's the three gears a single speeder lives by. On a geared bike it seems like you need to plan ahead (way far ahead) because if your going mach 1 on a flat section you most likely have to slam on the brakes, dump a bunch of gears and spin like a madman to get going again.
Repeating this like a million times in the first two laps I was completely spent. Normally my lap times are very consistent with not much difference between the first and last, I pride myself on this. Not today though. Losing the lead group because I drove the front wheel into a sandy downhill corner causing a complete yard sale at about mile one. I was now left to figure out the geared thing on my own. My plan was to ride Josh's wheel for a while to see how it's done but instead I resorted to riding my geared bike like a nine speed single speed for a couple laps. Thirty one minute lap followed by a thirty three followed by a thirty six. Do I need to go further? you get the point? Thanks to the granny ring I didn't have to DNF (it may have been less embarrassing). Around lap 4 I was off and smelling the flowers as the top expert guys started coming up on me. I would try to jump on but it didn't last and would fall off after a few minutes. Amazed at how fast everyone can spin I knew I needed to get going again when a couple sport class riders (on a preride) bridged up to me and shouted words of encouragement "He's just ahead, go get him". Demoralizing to say the least. I finished the race in 2hrs 16min. Fifteen minutes behind James who I beat by five minutes last week on my single at the 40. Hmmmm. Much room for improvement.

Sunday I went to the 909 to try to learn this geared thing again, only this time I enlisted the help of Jane Pearson to show me the ropes and the Kelly brothers to set the pace. Riding Jane's wheel I learned where and how to shift and keeping up with Brian and Rob I actually learned how to ride. At the 909 that is. I don't know if it will translate to other venues but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for me and this geared thing. Stay tuned..

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dark Horse 40 race report

Jocelyn had a great day, winning the womens single speed. (as if there was any doubt)

The week before the 40 I was completely relaxed. My fitness is good, my speed is good and I feel totally comfortable with the course. There was only one thing that worried me about this race. It's something that is a issue for all of us that ride a single speed against geared riders. The downhill start....
Thirty seconds in I realized I was in trouble....
Doing my best Robbie McEwen impression (sprinter with no leadout train) I grab what I think is a good wheel only to have him sit up. "Going on your left!" I call...No, not move to your left, on your left... Now I'm in the weeds... Totally boxed out I slowly enter the single track at a near standstill, in about 15th place. Holding Harmon's wheel someone tries to go by on my right so I throw my elbow out and rest my shoulder on his. I'm not quite pulling a Mark Renshaw, but letting him know this is not a move I'm gonna let go. Oh shit! It's Rob Stine. It figures, one of the only guys in the field I wouldn't want to put into the bushes and I do. Sorry dude. Busting my ass to gain some spots on the first road section puts me in the red for the first time. Hammer the roads and sit behind slower riders in the single track. This would be the theme for the first 12 miles where I would finally make the lead group. After some pleasantries were exchanged (eventual winner) Terry Kolb (clockwork construction) proceeded to put me into the pain cave for a while. Not that I wasn't in the hurt already but he seemed to know just where and when to hit me. The next 20 or so miles were spent dangling off the back of Terry's wheel. Bridge up on the climbs, get dropped on the roads and just survive the downhill sections was how it all went. I was never in any kind of control and in constant threat of being dropped completely. Patiently waiting for this war of attrition to sort itself out I was the first to pop. Feeling like I'm moving backwards now, I do all I can to hold off third place James Harmon (503 Cycleworks).

This race was supposed to be the finish of my mountain bike season but reflecting upon it I feel depressed and somewhat unsatisfied.... Wendi: enter your comment below.

Gonna race gears at Norcross this weekend and all of next year, should be fun. I haven't raced gears since I was a sport rider and will probably make a total ass of myself. More on that later.

Dark Horse 40 results