Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Single speeds may truly be dead!

Recently in order to fund my 2016 race campaign I decided I was going to sell off some stuff. First on the block is my 29er specialized carbon single speed frame. I started this auction on eBay with a very low price of $450. The frame is in great shape. It's got a few hours to go and has no bids. Carbon single speeds are truly rare anymore, due to the fact that the bike industry just wasn't selling enough of them. They couldn't continue to manufacture these frames just to have them sit on the warehouse shelf. Now if you want to single speed you only have a couple choices or custom. 
So it seems I have the 1982 Camaro of bikes in my possession. Not old enough to be cool but not cool enough to be current. Guess I maybe making custom mailbox posts out of old frames or just leave expensive frames in the basement to collect dust. I hate you bike industry. For changing something that is basically unchanged for a 120 years, every two years or so.  

The problem lies in nobody seems to be interested in anything but a fat bike recently. So a small niche of riders that were single speeders are now fat bikers. Leaving the small amount of single speeders that there originally were even more emaciated then we are. So in conclusion, the bike industry would have you believe that the 1x11 has killed the single speed (I've read) but in fact it's the fat bike that seems to be the single speeds demise. 
What's next? Boost 148 making everything else obsolete? You bet your sweet ass. And how are they going to get you to buy it? They're  going to tell you it's lighter and stiffer, like everything else they've sold us.  We're going to eat it up because we're a bunch of idiots looking to reinvent the wheel. On something as simple as a bicycle. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Into week 3 of the whole30

Whole 30 2 weeks down. 

This has been the toughest week. I'm moody and cranky. Workouts are going really crappy. Cravings really aren't there but I've considered sneaking a muffin or two. I've lost zero weight since the first week. I know you're not supposed to weigh yourself on this program but as a cyclist I can't help it. Although I'm not eating much different than I normally do, I'm bored out of my mind with the food I've been consuming. Seems the odd sweet here and there makes eating healthy all that much easier. Not only that but my workouts have taken a turn for the worse mostly because my diet is so perfect. It's the nothing to work off theory. Eat crappy, drink, work your ass off to pay for it. That's how it usually goes. Now it's eat healthy and ah what's the point? 
I'm still committed but I'm not gonna lie, things need to get better, soon. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sketchy shit!!

Well we took that tree down. The one that was gonna fall on the house. My buddy Dave came over and immediately declared "I don't feel comfortable cutting that" Thanks to the whole 30's  deep long sleep, I dreamed the night before about how to winch it back away from the house then roping it off so it would fall any other way. After much discussion about deductibles vs cost of tree service, planning of escape routes and backyard physics, we decided to give it a go. The hardest/scariest part for me was climbing up 25' or so to get the rigging on the dead tree. I was shaking in fear while holding the ladder. Lol. He did the climbing. Seems someone else being up in the air elicits the same fear of heights response in me as if I were up there. Once the rigging was up, the chain block made short work of this leaning 60 foot oak, pulling it straight in no time. I knew at that point it wasn't going toward the house. From there we tied it off to the side and he set out to notching it. We had a short discussion about the way it would react with three different pulling forces on it. The way it wants to fall, the rigging pulling it up and the rope I'm going to be pulling on. Escape routes were planned, the saw starts and in no time he yells "PULL". I can tell you that standing under a falling oak is way less scary than climbing it. As the tree began to fall I stepped to the side and it slammed to the ground not 10' from where I was standing. Exhilarating!!! 

I'm so glad it's down, the worst thoughts I had, were interestingly enough, that I was gonna have to waste the entire weekend making phone calls and waiting for tree service guys. Being held hostage made me actually consider just letting it fall on the house. I hate that shit!! 
Thanks to my friend Dave for his backwoods experience and daring. 
I owe you one. 
Now we can go ride bikes. -M

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Whole 30. Day 10.

The urge to quit the whole 30 is high now. I've been told that days 10 thru 14 are the hardest. It's true. Grumpy as hell. Craving all kinds of stuff. Only knowing that eating or drinking those things will lead to regret. I've broken protocol and been sneaking peeks at the scale. Whole 30 says "no weighing yourself". My pants seem looser but I've not lost much at all. That's a bummer. Riding the bike yesterday was like, umm, kind of like I've never raced a bike a day in my life. Legs wouldn't spin. Legs wouldn't mash. Hurt to stand. Hurt to sit. You get the picture.
 To add to the grump factor, I was walking the dog and noticed a tree leaning toward the house. It's in my yard and dead. It's beyond calling anyone. Imminent doom!  I can't tell if it's gonna slam, graze or miss completely. It's gonna come down today. High winds and rain forecasted. The only consolation is its tall and very skinny. We'll see, I guess. -M

Monday, November 16, 2015

All bikes can be fun at different times, I suppose.

Everytime I start thinking the whole 30 is easy it turns around and kicks me in the nuts. Saturday I felt great on the bike. Hammering up the climbs. Maybe like mid season fitness almost. At least it felt it. Sunday was met with a complete lack of enthusiasm to even ride and a really heavy feeling in the legs when I did. I managed to get a test lap out on the 34:19 but nothing more. Another 1h 11m time. Is no equipment change on the bike I make gonna make a difference? Seems only the effort level to pull the same time changes. Hence the age old ss problem. "You can only go so slow, but you can only go so fast too".  

The last few weeks on the single speed has been fun but just like mid summer I'm starting to doubt that it's a viable race machine for me. 
My buddy Gordon says that, particularly at our age, doing a stage race (let alone two) on a ss is crazy. I'm really starting to believe that. If you look at the times of the ssers and compare them to the other classes, they're not even close at stage racing. Surely not every sser can be a drunken fool at these races? I know I can compete in a one day event but the day to day grind? My thoughts are, the guys in the geared classes just recover faster. Leaving them fresher for tomorrow. Stage racing is tough enough. Why make it tougher? 
So what do I do? I'm registered in 40+ at pisgah stage race. I'll stick with gears for that, reassess, regroup and think about TSE. Maybe race ss at the xc stuff? Or maybe the ss is just something that I'm holding onto. Something that defined me in the past. Made me what I am but needs to be let go. Am I no longer a singlespeed racer? Am I just a mountain bike racer? Does it really matter? -M

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vegetable juice???

My whole 30 is going well. Today will be the seventh day. Yesterday marked the first day I did a hard ride. Just a couple hours at Stewart state forest with my buddy James. 
 Because you can't have any sugar on the whole 30 I purchased organic apple juice, organic vegetable juice and a few coconut Lara bars. To ride with!! James just shook his head. I put a pinch of salt in the bottom of each bottle and cut the juices 50/50 with water. To make a long story short, I felt great. I was able to go pretty deep. It almost felt like peak mid season fitness. Everyone talks about how bad they feel the first 2weeks. Aside from being tired (mostly at night when I should be) I've not experienced much of this. I've been a bit tingly and few days in I had a rough patch with some back pain but other than that it's been good. I look forward to this "tigers blood" phase they say hits at about 2 weeks. 

Now the bad news. 
Jocelyn and I received news the other day that our team, Toasted Head racing is folding. Yep, remember the anti-Facebook rant? Now I need it. Awkward!!
 Next year I'm registered at pisgah stage race as well as TSE. My secondary goals were gonna be local xc to prime myself for those events. Local xc doesn't exactly make you attractive to teams. At least the teams I've considered. I don't know if I want to spend the year doing nue's and traveling the country again. Those are the teams I have connections with. We've talked about maybe starting our own thing. That could be exciting. It is a bit late but if we act quick it could work. We certainly have the connections to make it happen. I don't know. All seems stupid sometimes. -M

Friday, November 13, 2015

Day 5. Whole 30.

I'd like to tell you that the whole 30 has been tough so far but the fact is it hasn't. Maybe if my normal diet consisted of fast food and cereal it would, but I'm pretty much a meat and potato guy anyway. I'm used to cooking breakfast before work. No adjustment there. The thing I thought I miss the most (beer) hasn't really even crossed my mind this week. I've been going to bed earlier. Mostly just to take advantage of the extra sleep. As a matter of fact, I woke this morning half hour before the alarm. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. I'm not riding much now anyway and it rained quite a bit this week so I've not felt the dreaded bonk from the carbohydrate depletion. 
Thursday was the best day this week (day 4). I felt great. Today my energy is high but the back pain is lingering. Tapering my optimism a bit. I was kind of hoping for a great metamorphosis but maybe it's not to be. Jocelyn tells me "the first two weeks are miserable". I can't say that, but I haven't experienced any euphoria either. 
She's doing a whole 30 now too. We're doing it together so the added pressure to not fail is there. I'm committed. I've seen her accomplish amazing things following this program. I'm hoping it helps me too. 
Looks like I'm going for a couple longer/harder rides this weekend. I'm told that pineapple juice or apple juice (unsweetened and organic) is allowed. As well as figs, dates or Lara bars for fueling. Gotta hit the store and stock up. 
Excited to see how I'll feel. -M

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rigid fork vs suspension fork findings.

The last few weeks I've been doing some testing of different setups on my bike. Ive chosen a local loop at Ramapo Mt. for this testing. It has a good mix of everything you'll find in a race. Long fire road climb. Techy downhills. Techy single track and even some jeep road double track. The loop is just over 10miles and I hold the Kom at 1:08:58. On a 27.5 rigid ss with a 34:20. 

Tested the suspension fork yesterday on this test loop. I can't help but feel like it just eats up a percentage of the pedal stroke. It's almost like the bike has to "load up" before moving forward. This is most obvious when standing. As any single speeder will tell you, you're standing a lot! I was working the lockout too. Clicking it on every uphill and opening it up on flats and downs. The effort for this test felt harder than previous tests. The conditions were basically the same. 

Just a few observations from my rigid vs. sus tests. 
(1) instead of being aggressive, I tend to stay on the seat and let the tech "come to me". This leads to slower trail riding overall. 
(2) on the fork, I can be more aggressive on the downhills but it's a effort to do so. Not allowing proper recovery for next climb. 
(3) there were some steep pitches that I just breeze up on the rigid that I actually had to get off and walk. I attribute this to not being able to use proper body english to maintain momentum. 
(4) bike really seams vague and washy in the corners. 
(5) I was pretty sloppy in the tech. Making many mistakes. Probably because I could get away with it on the forgiving sus fork. 

My strava times were telling. I was 1m slower than my Kom even though I felt faster and with a higher heart rate than all other attempts. In the middle of the loop I was sure I was on record pace. All of the downhill segments I was faster on but only marginally. All of the uphill segments I was slower and I seemed to lose even more time uphill as the ride went on. Losing 48sec on the final 9min climb. 

What does this all mean? I think I'm gonna be running a rigid for at least the xc racing this year. Obviously in the longer stuff the comfort factor will come into play but seconds are seconds and on a single you only have one game against the gearies. That's the ability to out climb them.

Next up, 27.5 vs 29 rigid testing...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


My bike seems to have permanent residence in the back of the Impreza. A blanket thrown over it to keep any passer by from getting too curious. My car also resembles what I would imagine it would look like if I were living in it. The last few weeks I've been working a lot so little things like keeping the car tidy have been ignored. I had planned on riding my bike yesterday but when I got out of work at 1pm it was raining so that didn't happen. Same plan today. Although it's still raining now. 
The whole 30 is going well. Been sleeping a lot. The time change has helped with that also. Last night I was in bed at 7:30. I've not had much trouble with the food on the whole 30. It's pretty much the way I strive to eat anyway. Minus the occasional fuck up. The big thing is the lack of beer. Quite frankly, that hasn't been an issue yet. It'll be a bit strange swapping sugary Gatorade for coconut water but I'm gonna keep my rides short for now to avoid the dreaded bonk. 
My lower back is angry this morning. Probably from laying in bed so much yesterday. Or maybe the layoff since Sunday? Or maybe the weather? I did put the suspension fork on the bike. My rigid experiment seems to get shorter and shorter each year. I know it's faster but the beating seems stupid now. I remember doing 20+ hour weeks on a rigid. Those days are gone. I like not having tingling in my fingers and it's just too much on the upper back. 
As I write the sky looks like it's clearing. I'm getting excited knowing in a few hours I'll be on the trail. Coconut water, don't fail me now!! -M

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day 1. Whole 30

Woke up knowing I need to change. Another sleepless night led to this decision. 176 lbs on the scale is eye opening enough. 
First thing in the morning I decided I was gonna do a whole 30. Other recent attempts at "cleaning up my diet" have failed. Too loose for me. I'm better with structure. Dumped out all three beers that remained in the fridge and trashed the remaining granola. The granola has been giving me the shits anyway. In the last few years I've begun to realize that I'm some sort of oat intolerant. Doesn't keep me from trying though. 
The beer. Uggh!!!
Beer has been a part of my life almost every day since I turned 21. It's a rite of passage for me. End of the day activity. Also a bad habit. I once did 5 years without any beer at all. It started as a competition between a buddy and I. Who could go the longest... I won. 
The first few years of racing without beer I had hit a level that was truly amazing for me. Then one day I woke and thought "what's the point?" 
I actually amaze myself that I can hit such a high level racing, all the while consuming 3 to 4 beers a night. Hell, I've won quite a few races hung over. On the flip side, I've had quite a few fails also. 
I'm hoping the whole 30 can help me reset. This is what it claims to do. I realize (and I'm warned) that there are rough days ahead. I'm ready. -M

Monday, November 9, 2015

So much has changed, so much has stayed the same.


I've bailed off of Facebook. I found I was spending way too much time on nothing positive. Either getting jealous because someone is doing something I'm not or getting angry at someone I hardly know just wasn't working for me anymore. It's been a few months and I can honestly say, I hardly miss it. 

I am, however going to attempt to resurrect the old blog. Only this time it's not gonna be a race post only blog. I'm hoping to use it as a journal for my 2016 race season. Not the same old race reports but a journey into the struggles and sacrifice that it takes to be competitive at high level xc mtb racing after 40. 
As I write this I'm on day one of a whole thirty. As well as in the middle of some (somewhat) scientific testing on the single speed. 
My fitness is nowhere near race levels and my alcohol consumption and diet has been poor for a while now. I'm at 176lbs. That's about 9lbs over my race weight. Not only that but it takes a real effort to feel excited about going hard on the bike. My coach and I will start training in December and I'd like to be well into creating good habits by then. At the same time getting rid of the bad ones. 

In an attempt to do this I'll be doing a daily blog post. Mostly just to keep my thoughts in order. -M