Monday, December 19, 2011
The following week was a planned rest week anyway so it would be a perfect time to build a bike without being in a rush to get it together for the next ride. No midnight oil this time. Take my time. By Wednesday I was ready to go, I thought....
The rest of the week was spent dreaming about taking this 23.2 lb monster into the woods. I'd hit a couple (easy road) recovery rides on it and thought I had it dialed but my first excursion into Wawayanda on Saturday had me scratching my head. I'm a 23 inch top tube with a 110 stem guy. I never waver from that. Never!! Every bike is slightly different and little changes can make a huge difference, I know. So I swapped the 110 for a 100, raised the bars a half inch and swapped the Fox fork for the Specialized brain. It won't work I thought.... I was dead wrong!
What a difference. The minute I hit the single track on Sunday I was in love. My buddies and I were meeting at 10am at Jungle and I rode down early just to see how it would feel. I'm amazed! The Tomac Carbide SL is hands down the best bike I've ridden on the tight and uber technical trails of Jungle Habitat. After about 15 minutes I found myself hitting lines that were impossible at speed on any other bike. That confidence had me off the brakes at points that usually require heavy braking. On the rare occasion that we would pause to grab a bottle or regroup I would check the rear shock. The recommended pressure for my weight on Tomac.com was right on point. I never bottomed but hit full travel. Perfect.
These trails are bony and can be rough on bike and body, the kind of place that can leave you feeling defeated and wanting to take up spin or some other sport. The nimble Carbide and I quickly made great friends. It's rare you find a bike that handles the tech this well and has no problem motoring on the road also. I think I found the perfect do it all machine....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
First off I'd like to thank my new sponsors for showing their support. Tomac bikes and Gu energy labs. I'm grateful for the support and am looking forward to 2012...I'm stoked to have you on board...Awesome!!!
I'd like to use the phrase off season to describe me laying on the couch, taking in a movie or maybe getting together with some non biking friends. This is not my reality. My laying on the couch follows me splitting wood for three hours straight or exhausted from the gym or waiting to go to a 7:30 yoga class, I get up at 4:30 BTW. The movies are Net Flix or some cheap slasher flick (can't tell you the last one I sat all the way through) and the friends are the local freeride crowd. I should ride with them more, it's eye opening. The point is, during the off season at some point I realize I'm actually training more than normal. This is all because I stop writing my workouts down. The training log causes me to realize that I'm doing too much. Crazy? Maybe. I just love being active. I'm enjoying it. Even if it's working me over. Let the structure begin.
The first week of December has long been marked on the calendar as the official start of my 2012 season.
I'm looking forward to March where I've worked out the logistics of my West Coast campaign. I'm front loading the season. Don't want to say too much but things are gonna get a lot tougher. Racing super fit competition in March will hopefully jump start my season. I require a few races to get my season on track.
At the end of April I'm registered at the Cohutta 100 (NUE series #1) in the open class. That's right, no single speed this year. This decision was easy. The single has treated me well but I have a "been there done that" feeling that I can't shake. I haven't even been on the single since the last short track race back in the beginning of October. I won't be at singlespeed-a-palloza to defend my three time title either. Hopefull some local will step up. Rog? Sean? James? Ron? Maybe Thom? I hear of a comeback.
How many NUE's will I do? That depends. In addition to Cohutta we have a cabin booked at Mohican and Jocelyn keeps talking about unfinished business at Lumberjack. Probably the W101 and Shenandoah also just because those races are so good. Who knows, with any luck I may be making a trip to Georgia for the finals. Well see....
Friday, October 21, 2011
Had my heart set on some sort of cyclocross season this year. Like many years past, this never came about. Earlier this week I even went out to do an on and off road time trial to keep the fire stoked for cross. It went well, I beat my best time by 45 seconds. Great, haven't lost much at all. It's just that it felt too much like training again. Don't get me wrong, I like training as much if not more than racing but in order to go forward I know you sometimes need to take a step back. I plan on taking a major step forward next year. I believe you only have so many matches to burn in a season and twenty five seems to be about my limit. This year it was twenty five big ass matches...Flares maybe. Next year will be bonfires....
Last night I took a bikram yoga class. I amazed even myself with my balance and flexibility. I haven't done much yoga this year, I don't even stretch much but I had an "on night" with laser like focus. I'm paying for it today but I'll be back with bells on next week. Figuratively of course. Note to self: Bring lots of towels to hot yoga.
Looks like I'm gonna be at the Mountain Man biathlon next week. In 2006, I won this race and the win gave me the confidence to get where I am now. The next year I won the H2H single speed overall and a shitload of races, upgrading to semi-pro late that year also. It's been a long trip since then, and even though the mountain man wasn't the start of this journey I believe it was the springboard. Many don't know I got my start to this debacle through duathlon and running races. You can learn alot from other sports.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Logs are down the hill to the left....Get the Idea?
The finished product, all split by hand...
Since the hurricane, the Appalachian now runs right down my street. I've been running on the AT and other trails that are "no no's" to mountain bikers...
Maybe splitting wood in running shorts is a bad idea?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A season of racing will always do it. The tell tail signs are there. Moaning while lowering yourself to the couch, unable to pick things up that you've dropped, aches and pains. A sit up or a push up seems a million miles ago. Hell, even on the bike I'm not as chipper as I should be. It happens every year. De-conditioning!! A dirty word.
Selene Yeager (Bicycling magazine's fit chick) said: "Amazing how you can get fit and weak simultaneously" Don't know how it happens, but it does.
For the next three months I'll be attempting to become athletic again. Today is a 15min "jog" in the woods and a yoga type tape. Not a lot, but I know from experience to take it slow and easy for a while. Soreness tends to be high with these workouts and with good cardio fitness I tend to get a little crazy, often doing too much too soon.
Does this mean you wont see me on the bike or even at a race here and there this fall? Not at all, but these rides and races will be secondary to becoming a fit and flexible athletic person again. 2012 will bring new challenges and the prep begins now, off the bike....
Monday, September 19, 2011
Once again the Mtbnj.com crew hit the nail right on the head. They managed to put on another competive but low key event at the perfect time for me. With Michaux coming up I have been riding long and super technical for the last two weeks so I knew I wouldn't be able to go to Blue Mountain for the H2H race on Sunday. I would be just too tired. Besides I had plans of meeting Gordon for the Ringwood super loop that day. Short track on Saturday worked out perfect.
Bagels and Bacon short track #1 was less like a true Norba short track and more like a mini mountain bike race, thats a good thing. The 1.5 mile course was awesome, the bagel with cream cheese hit the spot and to boot I got the top prize of two sixers of Dale's and enough bacon to last me a month. I've heard the next one is on the ninth of October and runs at the same time as Jorba fest (I can't confirm this statement). The leaves will be falling by then and the mountain bike season will soon be coming to an end. So come check it out. What have you got to lose?
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Bad Idea #1, 34x18...My memory must have been fogged from 2009. Winning a race can do that to you. I remember the downhills to be long and somewhat smooth, and a lot of flats. The downhills are really long and pretty darn techy and the flats are much shorter than I remembered. I was relieved to see that Gerry Pflug (Salsa Cycles) decided to run a rigid also but on the first descent realized I could have been going way faster. Gerry took the hole shot and I sucked wheel for quite a while. The opening climb I was quite comfortable keeping Gerry in sight, knowing that he wasn't going anywhere. Towards the top, the pace seemed to slow and I closed the 25 yards he had on me real quick. We entered the single track wheel to wheel and the whole first downhill I was relieved to see that I was in control with no danger of getting dropped. Matt Ferrari (Freeze Thaw/Hubcap Cycles) was close behind and closed the gap to us shortly after Aid station 1. Just as Matt got up to us, the pace lifted (thanks to the gearies), and Matt was dropped before the switchback climb section. Gerry lead into this section and even though I felt walking would have been faster and more efficient we stayed on the bikes for most of it. After a couple of technical bobbles I ended up in front of Gerry. We were all off and walking some of the steeper sections at this point and I managed to put a few riders in between me and him, mostly due to the steep pitches that the gearies were attempting to ride, and failing on. I got to the top just thinking of getting down the other side at my own pace. I thought Gerry would chase hard and possibly make a mistake or two. When I popped out on the road, I thought I would see him. He was not there. Instead two Trek 29er guys were trading pulls and I jumped on. We were flying, probably over 25mph and I was dangling, just hanging on. This would prove to be my undoing. I should have just soft pedaled and waited for Gerry and Matt. My race after all, was behind me. I showed I was strong proving to myself I could get away, all I needed was to play the game a little, bide my time. My head got the best of me and on what I would consider to be the hardest climb of the day, I began to feel the effects of the pace line to Aid station 2. Gerry caught and went by me near the top. I didn't chase. Actually, I had to walk a little just to compose myself. I figured I would catch him on the downhill and after reading his race report, I would have. If not for an unfortunate chain of events.
Bad Idea #2, Rigid fork...I felt the rim hit rock a couple times before it actually happened, the dreaded pinch flat. I stopped to put air in knowing that the sealant most likely won't work and continued on my way. What seemed like 20 seconds later I'm on the side of the trail and attempting to get the Stan's sealant (that shot off the tire and on my face) out of my eye. Back on the bike and 50 yards down the trail I realize I need more air so I stop and empty the rest of the cartridge into the tire. Back on the bike, 75 yards later, A yellow jacket, flew into my jersey and stings me under my armpit. I stop to kill the sucker and pull the stinger out. This is when Matt goes by like a freight train, I don't think he even saw me. I ride the rest of the downhill like a pansy with 7lbs of air in my tire knowing I have co2 cartridges waiting for me at the next Aid station. My race is gone, and I become depressed. So depressed that I considered quiting, instead I decide I'm just gonna ride to finish.
"My race is over", I thought. The next two hours I talked to people, rode with them, didn't pay any attention to heart rate zones or effort level and basically just tried to have fun. That's when Dylan Johnson (Oasis Bike Works) came up behind me at the base of the big climb. He asked me "how many are in front of us"? I thought the kid was crazy, we were in like 50th place. Until I realized he was talking about other SS'ers. Dylan and I rode together to bring back Matt at the top of the climb. Looking back, I should have attacked and put some daylight in between us but I was having fun riding with the 16 year old prodigy. He dropped me on the long loose downhill, I rode like a small child at this point. I made a feeble attempt to pull him back on the road before the final climb but never even caught view of him.
I was over-geared and under-forked, but managed to hit the podium anyway. My time of 8:31 was a full 29 minutes slower than when I won this race in 2009. Speaking of 2009, my course record of 8:02'02 was shattered by the three time single speed winner. Gerry Pflug.
Shortly after this race I decided that next year, I'll compete in the N.U.E. series. I'll be doing the required amount of races to qualify for the overall. Hopefully I'll be banging bars with all you guys again next year. The series is top notch and the competition is stacked. It's where I want to be...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Saturday was sweet. Mtbnj put on the first annual Mooch Madness at what was supposed to be in Allamuchy state park. Waving his wand and closing the state parks, our Governor extraordinaire decided on Friday that because the world was supposed to end sometime Sunday morning that we should all stay home and think about what we had done wrong to have mother nature unleash the potential wrath of god upon us. After some tweaking of the course to keep it on BSA property, Norm and the bunch decided to put the race on anyway. This decision was spot on. The rains for the most part stayed away and we all had a blast in the face of impending doom. Every other race on the Eastern seaboard was called off and many stayed home but the core bunch came and we had a ball on the perfect course. The run up section was awesome and a feature other promoters should consider adding to their courses.
My day was spent trying to get my pacing down for the Shenandoah 100, on the bike and with the setup that I'm likely to run there. I've been racing a lot of XC lately and am not so sure how my lack of endurance training will treat me around the eight hour mark. For four and a half, I'm golden. Probably stretch that to six no problem. But eight? Guess we'll find out.
Speaking of Shen, I'm flying under the radar for this one. After not showing up at the 101 because of personal reasons, I guess the single speed course record holder for the SM100 (me) doesn't really deserve a mention in the race brief. It's okay, I like nobody knowing I'm coming, takes the pressure off. Maybe I won't be a factor at all, Hmmm?
I like the Shenandoah 100, the course suits me perfectly and I will be "going for it". If any of you have raced me in the last few weeks you might have noticed a change in my strategy. This will continue in the coming weeks. We are in the meat and potatoes part of the season...What have I got to lose?
Ike, looking at the pond that used to be a creek across the street from the house.
The "pond" has taken over the end of the street also.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Choosing the right gear for a race you've never been to and won't have a chance to preride is a art form. Mistakes often are made, but there is a simple equation.
Fitness level multiplied by mileage, minus elevation change, divided by finishing times of single speeders in relation to geared finish times equals.... Oh, you're just guessing anyway.
At Rattling Creek I decided to use the same gearing I use on my local trails at home for the equivalent distance. I almost ran a tooth harder but was glad I bailed on that idea late Saturday night. Racing against gearies in cross country races I'll usually go a tooth harder but at a 50 miler you have to consider how you'll feel after 3 or 4 hours at race pace. Rattling creek is billed as a single speed friendly 50 miler. What does that mean? To me, a good single speed course is all up and down with very little flat at all, but then again I race gearies every week. Any place they get to big ring it on you can put you in distress real quick. When you're racing other singles, they just don't have that option.
I'd say Rattling Creek was a great SS course. It was all up and down but nothing so steep you had to walk much. As a matter of fact, I found the climbs enjoyable. One of my strengths is long tempo climbs and this course had plenty. Another thing it had was plenty of was rocks. In North Jersey we have large rock features that you ride over or around, and baby heads, lots of baby heads. In Pa. they have sharp pointy rocks that you have no choice but to ride on top of. Nothing that would throw you over the bars per say but the ever threat of tire damage will keep you on edge. I'd describe it like riding Split Rock and Buddha (at Waway) for 50 miles. Tough, to say the least.
This event was super sweet and well organized, going off without a hitch. The promoters even figured out how to keep the thunder storms away until after most of us were finished. The fireworks display was saved for a hundred of us huddled under a tent at awards while lightning struck just about every tree in the area. Next year definitely check this one out. The trails and the race are well worth the drive...
Leaving at 5am and getting home at 9:30pm is a long day no matter how you cut it. Having Chris and Jane along for the ride made the traffic on Rt80 almost fun...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Ominious clouds blanket the mountain for the day two XC race...
First off, if you have never been to Bear Creek for an event you must check it out soon. The hotel, lodge and venue are second to none. It's just what a mountain resort should be like. The trails, well they are challenging to say the least. You can make a trip here anytime to ride these trails (just check in at the lodge first). I'd recommend a suspension bike for the ultra technical trails. Of course I opt for the rigid single-speed. I like it hard.
I was hanging by the Giant tent pre-race when one of the juniors asked me...
Puzzled looking Kid: "Why would you chose to ride that bike here? What do you hope to prove by riding a bike with one gear and no suspension?"
Me: "Because in riding this archaic torture device at such a technical course I get to make the competition feel even worse about themselves if I beat them."
Puzzled looking Kid: "Really?"
Me: "Yeah!!!"....(under my breath) "Nahh it just goes up hill really fast."
Matt Miller (Giant Mid-Atlantic) must have overheard this conversation because even after my best effort to put enough time into him on the climb he still abused me like a stepchild on the downhill. Finishing just a few seconds in front of me. Enough for his 8th place, I finished 9th. The cross country in the rain was a blast, bringing back memories of my first years of training (when I used to ride in the rain more often).
The real story for me was the short track...
Short track is awesome!!! Every event should have a ST Saturday. Full on for 20 minutes with the guy in front who you can never catch and the guys behind doing the same to you. It's predator and prey all wrapped into one. You're the predator, and the prey. Eat or be eaten. Do or die. Just awesome. My heart rate was through the roof the entire time. I haven't gone that hard in quite a while.
The Super D...
Lets just say, I should have taken the time to pre-ride the course..
What would a trip to Bear Creek be without a stop at T-town?
The rain kept me from enjoing some sweet roadie SS action...
Single Gear God!!!
Monday, August 8, 2011
Even though I wasn't able to attend the 101, Shenandoah Mountain Touring sent me my T-shirt anyway. Class act promoters. That was a nice surprise...
Sunday I head out to the 909 for a H2H series race. The shortened lap and the cross country length race suited me well in the humid conditions. The H2H races have a reputation of being too long with the pro's often finishing over 3 hours. It was a nice change of pace to be able to race from the gun without worrying about cracking late and getting picked off right before the finish. Maurice (Team mtbnj.com) was a bit too much for me today, (he's flying this year) but in chasing him we both managed to put a healthy gap on the rest of the overheated field. My topsy turvy world of mountain bike racing is back in order. There are good vibes on the single for me. Fitness is coming around and I'm having fun. Rigid and Single is how I roll...
Next up is Bear Creek. I'll be racing my single speed in the triple crown pro series. Short track, Super D and Cross Country. I just might bring the suspension fork along for the ride.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
The heat has been oppressive in the North East of late. Temps in the high ninety's and eight percent humidity have really sucked the life out of me in the past week. This week was supposed to be a final push for the upcoming races on my schedule but was a complete wash. With the exception of this weekend.
Saturday, Jocelyn and I decided that if we were going to get out at all, we better do it early. Not 8am like I tried and failed at on Thursday. SIX!!!! Who rides at 6am? People who live in the desert maybe. It's been so hot so that when I suggested it she just groaned "I'll do it". Jocelyn is not a morning person. A couple strokes of the keys and I posted the ride on Facebook also just in case anyone else wanted to join in our sleep deprived suffer fest. It turned out it was just her and I but we were fine with that. We rode all our favorite trails and Jocelyn even turned me on to some super sweet single track I'd never seen before. This early Saturday ride was great, getting me home like a normal person at a reasonable hour to do some chores. I may make it a regular thing.
Sunday morning we headed up to Stewart to ride this years Dark Horse 40 course. A big group ride was on tap. I often don't do group rides but I rode with a few guys on Tuesday and had a ball, so I figured, why not? Stewart lends itself to a good group paced ride because the trails are so fast and flow well not to mention the 40 course was marked so if anyone dropped off the pace they wouldn't get lost. Roger Foco, Gordon and I ended up floating off the front after a while and proceeded to lay the smack down on the course. We all traded pulls the whole time only slowing to get by the small groups of preriders that we would come up on once in a while. About mid point of the second 20 mile lap the pace was starting to slow so Gordon got to the front and put in a monster Jens Voigt type pull snapping Rog and I out of our funk. Gordon was all business, Laying a solid pace down that had me thinking that if he had gotten in to the race he may have been a lock for a top ten finish. Shortly after, we finished in the rain, it felt refreshing on this hot and humid day.
The whole experience of the day had me thinking that if I could ride like this every week I'd be a very dangerous person on the XC circuit. Hmmmmm, maybe a group ride isn't so bad after all.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Just when you think you're starting to gain some momentum by putting in some consistent training hours, mother nature strikes again.
Winter was a bitch with freezing cold temps holding on till late April, it seemed. Spring was a wash (pun intended) with what would turn out to be biblical rains on a daily basis. Now the oppressive heat of a north east summer. Come on already! Freezing cold and fourteen inches of snow sounds good right now. At least I could go outside in the winter. I will never bitch about the winter again. NEVER!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Goal #1: Ride cross country race like it's a 20m short track...
Goal #2: After cracking, finish the best you can...
I've not done much cross country this year so I lack a good bit of pop, I wanted to race this way to work on that but also because I need to know what it feels like to crack and come back from it right now.
For me, endurance racing is all about avoiding the rough patches. I often come up on guys who were super fast at the start of an endurance race who look like crap four or five hours in. My goal in the endurance game is to avoid that. Training is part of it but pacing is crucial.
On the other hand cross country racing is about postponing the walking off a cliff feeling. If you can do an hour and a half at full speed, you'll win a lot of races. Right now, I have about 52 minutes in me. Don't get me wrong, it's getting better. Two weeks ago (Lewis Morris) I lasted 40 minutes then had to slow down so much to recover that it wasn't even worth finishing. This week at Fair Hill was better. Upon slowing, I was picked off by a few riders, dropping me to about 23rd place but was able to recover at a pace that somewhat looked like racing. The good news is, in the last 20 minutes I dug deep and managed to work my way back to 18th place. So I got through it, and from experience I know it will only get better. Room for improvement? Yes, but I can only go up from here and I'm okay with that....
Friday, July 1, 2011
Been back at Cannonball lately. That's what it's all about. This is where I got my start and learned how to ride a mountain bike. Trial by fire most would say. These trails are ultra technical and super raw. The challenge is to stay on the bike, that's how you go fast here. Smooth is fast. Perfect is fast. Almost Impossible to be perfect here. Once in a while it all comes together and it seems effortless, other times the trail reduces you to a blubbering mess. What makes riding here great is you're 'on' the whole time. No sections of easy fireroad to rest on, if you're moving you're working hard. If you want to clean these sections you've got to work and the rocks just keep coming. On my typical ride here I'll often go through everything I might go through in a long race. Feeling good? It will not last. Cracking? Suck it up cupcake, it gets better. Dizzy? Better eat. Feeling like a rock star? Flailing like a idiot? Whatever, just keep plugging away. The ultimate goal is true trail dominance. It's something you strive for but it is unattainable. In the long run the mountain always wins!
Monday, June 27, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My self imposed blackout has come to an end. I bailed off facebook and blogger for a while in an attempt to 'get back to my roots'. It didn't work. You can't go backwards in life, cycling or anything else for that matter. "Just stay the course and let things happen" I'm told, it is how it's supposed to be done.
After the Bearscat 50 I wasn't interested in endurance racing at all and often joked that I would specifically train for short track or super D. I was dreading the trip to Michigan for the Lumberjack 100, Often acting like a baby, kicking and screaming "I don't want to do this".
I haven't been riding my single speed much. Only like three times this year total. Once before Singlespeed-A-Palooza, once at Singlespeed-a-Palooza, two times on the road (to prepare for Lumberjack) and that's it. The rest of the time has been spent on learning to ride gears and most often a full suspension 26er. With this in mind how could I expect to do well at a 100 mile mountain bike race on a single speed against the top guys in the country. Delusional? You can't!!!
I lined up in the third row, knowing I would get swamped before the single track and totally accepting of that fact. While we were staging, Matt Ferrari turned around to scan the crowd, asked me how I was feeling today? As I secretly wished I was invisible I replied "we'll see". Cyclingnews made my presence known to the world a few days earlier and little did they all know I was about to implode. Or at least I thought. I spent the first part of lap one riding behind Amanda Carey and Cheryl Sorenson until I could get on some really good wheels going down one of the very few road sections. We were flying, picking off groups of riders ten at a time on the road and a few more in the single track. At about a hour and a half I felt the pace of my mini group slowing so I decided to set out on my own. It wasn't a attack or anything, just me getting to the front and looking at clean trail for the first time of the day. Fellow single speeder Ron Sanborn, was in my group and looked like he was interested in riding with me (dangling about 50 yards back for quite a while) but I was in the groove and working on pulling back the Pflug train that included super strong Matt Ferrari and up and coming star Jorden Wakely . I chased for what seemed like for ever, asking gearies "did you see any single speeders? "Oh, they're way ahead" I would hear this often, and it was somewhat demoralizing at times. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think of quiting at least once. Shortly after entering the final lap I caught a glimpse of a figure up ahead, this gave me a adrenalin boost. It was Jorden, Matt wasn't far ahead of him and the sight of another SS'er had me all 'full of piss and vinegar'. In the next half hour I pulled back the entire SS field. I felt great, I was gonna win....Then the cramps came. Maybe it was the 34x16 gear I choose or my lack of single speediness of late that had me cramping, at this point it didn't matter.
I did my best to stay with Gerry Pflug but in the end I couldn't muster the final push to win the race against the two time NUE series champ. 13 seconds was the final gap, so small a gap but yet so far. THIRTEEN seconds after a hundred friggin miles...WOW!!!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
"Michaux is the granddaddy of painful and challenging technical mountain bike races - in the eastern US or anywhere else. Nothing compares. Many otherwise hardcore racers avoid it like a 'ho with a case of the clap. Others are attracted to the danger, the challenge, and the rush of fear and adrenalin". -Brian Kemler
There are races that you do for fun and there are races that you do for training but once in a while you run across a race so hard that it changes the course of your entire season.
Up to this point I've entered five races this season and had won three so you could say I was confident coming to the Michaux Maximus this weekend. Maybe even cocky. Dave Lyons said it best at the first aid station (at this time I was pondering my further involvement in the sport) "Monte, you can't win every race". He was right, that comment knocked me right off the 'pity potty party' I was having. I thank him for that.
Long story short, The course handed me my ass. That was the toughest race I've done since I was a beginner. Back then every race seemed tough. It was tougher than Shenandoah, tougher than the Stoopid 50, tougher than the muddy Mohican that I battled out with Harlan last year. I was reduced to a bumbling mess mid way through this race...By the course, not the competition. They were gone, never to be seen again. Fucking hard ass men at Michaux.
Experience tells me that everything will seem easy from here on out, That's for sure. I have loops in Ringwood that I usually avoid because they are too tough for "purposeful training". I can't wait to ride those tough loops again. A week ago I was in a fog as far as riding and racing was concerned, now my head is as clear as a bell and I have a new purpose. Changes are being made, UST tires will be purchased.
Meeting and talking with Cheryl Sornson (who did the Cohutta 100 the day before) was inspiring and made me think further into the season, where I will now attempt to pull my own multi state mini stage race (details will follow). Cheryl is a machine. Losing only to Sue Haywood by a second. Sue Effing Haywood!!! The girls were starstruck and couldn't stop talking about it the whole way home. Hell, I was starstruck...
Jocelyn and Jane had a great time also, knowing they had raced the best and gave it their all. One of my favorite quotes was "There are no out of shape mid packers to battle with when you fall apart here".
It was true. Only the Hard Core apply...
Monday, April 25, 2011
Just feel like something different this weekend. Looking to chill after the pressure cooker of Singlespeed-a-Palooza. Forty miles of rocky and rooty fun awaits.
After doing a couple short races in the last few weeks it just feels like a long race weekend to me. So much of what I do is based on "feel", I don't think there is a cookie cutter made for me. I've been known to change directions, sometimes often. It works, I think.
So, we will be waking up at 2ish to drive four hours for a race when there is a race in the same friggin town I technically could ride to.
Oh, and James will be there...
It just feels right!!!!!!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Been ripping on the full suspension and having so much fun lately. So when faced with the question on what bike I would ride in this weeks M.A.S.S. opener at Fair Hill I was confused to say the least. Would I take the 18lb hardtail to this mostly flat and windy course? Or would I ride the fully? The eleventh hour decision to ride the full suspension was made. After all many of the heavy hitters are on fullys, so why not me?
Riding down to Maryland in the scare bus with the core group of VTC'ers, driven by (thank god he lives on the other side of the park) "Dave aka Panhead", was quite an adventure. I knew it would be a long ride when he said "don't be surprised if we get pulled over, we don't have any taillights". With the luck of the Irish (German), we arived safe and very warm at the venue where I proceeded to dive from the truck and kiss the muddy ground. Shortly after I went out for a prelap while the rest of the VTC group decided to take a nap. The course was wet but tacky with some corners that had some mud but nothing too hairy. After my lap I came back to the truck to get my bottles, ten minutes before the start of the race and somehow I was not surprised to find everyone sleeping in the truck. After waking just about everyone up I rolled to the line for pre staging.
I had decided earlier that I was gonna race from the gun trying to make the lead group and stay there as long as I could. This is a departure from my normal slow start and pick people off single speed strategy. I make the lead group in part because of my early season fitness and part due to the way I was able to ride the first doubletrack downhill with reckless abandon (while flipping through songs on my Ipod) mostly due to the suspension. Entering the singletrack section in about 10th and able to see all the way to the front rider was good enough for me. I could hear that behind me a few others had made the initial selection and were on the Schalk (Trek Bikes) train also. I rode the opening lap on Dylan Alesio's wheel, never feeling overly taxed. Coming through the start area after the first lap I considered attacking the group but with the caliber of riders remaining I had abandoned that train of thought quickly and so I stuck with the strategy of "hang on as long as you can and see how it pans out". There were many accelerations in that second lap and right before you cross the road I got caught out, leaving me dropped. Keeping the back of the lead group in sight but never being able to get back up there kind of sucks, but my thoughts are now turned to preserving my lead over the chasers and possibly picking off any stragglers. Going into the final lap I can see David Wood (Bike Doctor) chasing. I decided that I will keep my head down and make it as hard as possible for him to catch on, I managed to keep the gap at about 50 yards for the entire 7 mile lap. He did get up to me at the end of the final lap due to some lap traffic but I took the sprint for 7th quite easily.
This was my first XC distance race this season and I felt great, dare I say the race seemed short.
I'm competing in the M.A.S.S. series this year and if the races are all gonna be this competitive it's gonna be a blast....
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I finally put my schedule together for this year. I'd been putting it off for a while going back and forth on what I want to do. Just having a idea of what races I want to attend and actually putting it down on paper is two different things. First off I always say I'm gonna do more M.A.S.S. and never do. This year I registered for the series. I would like to do the required eight races to qualify for the series championship. I've also decided to go for the M.A.R.C. series. With two of the races local for me and Bear Creek only two hours away (I only have to travel for Greenbrier) this will be my local racing series this year.
Sadly, I won't be at much H2H this year, missing many local races due to conflicts and to avoid burnout. I'll miss seeing all the familiar faces but look forward to racing some new competition. I've heard they are guaranteeing Pro payout at H2H this year, but by still paying cash in Cat1, and other competitive Cat1's worried about series points, I fear many won't make the leap. That will leave us Pros with a small or diluted field.
On the endurance front, The Bearscat 50, Lumberjack 100 and the Dark Horse 40 will keep me riding the long training days. There is a outside chance at the Wildcat Epic and the Shenandoah 100, if I bail out of either M.A.R.C. or M.A.S.S. early. I would like to go back to the VT50, I feel I have unfinished business there but that's much later so we will just have to see how it goes....
Feb 5th: Estrella Hedgehog Hustle
Feb 26th: White Tanks Whirlwind
March 26th: Michaux Mash
April 10th: Fair Hill (M.A.S.S.)
April 17th: Singlespeed-A-Polooza presented by Dark Horse Cycles
April 30th High Point Hill Climb (TT)
May 1st: Granogue (M.A.S.S.)
May 7th: French Creek (M.A.S.S.)
May 15th: Tymor Park (M.A.R.C.)
May 22nd: Greenbrier (M.A.R.C.)
June 5th: Bearscat 50
June 18th: Lumberjack 100
June 26th: M.A.S.S. Festival (M.A.S.S.)
July 11th: Fair Hill Classic (M.A.S.S.)
July 17th: Bulldog Rump (M.A.R.C.)
July 31st: Dark Horse 40
August 7th: Sewell Summer Sizzler (M.A.S.S.)
August 13th: Bear Creek (M.A.R.C.) Or Wildcat Epic???
Sept 4th: Shenandoah 100 ???
Sept 11th: Coal Cracker Classic (M.A.S.S.)
Sept 18th: Bear Creek (M.A.S.S. finals)
If you see me, say hi....
Thursday, March 3, 2011
A little road to get to the trails never hurt anyone. Most people would drive, then again, most people aren't training for 100 mile mountain bike races...
I like combining the road and trail in one ride, Keeps you honest and gives you time to work on pedaling circles...
Once you get to the trails I always forget about the long road ride out, I've gotten myself in trouble this way but I can't resist...
Wheel sucker? Or a painful reminder to stay off the brakes?
Going home, we quickly realized why we were so fast on the way out. Needless to say, the smiles were all turned upside down at this point...
Feeling depleted, a couple of roadies passed us. They went by so quick I thought It was Liz Hatch and Andy Schleck or something. They must have been chasing pretty hard because shortly after it unraveled for them, We gave chase and pulled them back rather quickly. When we went by the man, he had gained 30 lbs and the woman aged 30 years and both were weaving like a drunkard on the hills. It was like Liz and Andy had pulled off to take a pee and let the stunt doubles take over. I was almost embarrassed for chasing....Almost!
My rides tend to sneak up on you. A nice steak and some fresh roasted veggies will cure all of that...
Thanks for coming out, I had a great time...