Sunday, July 22, 2007

good rides, gear, la ruta

Wednesday's ride was awesome. Went out in the nasty humidity for around 3hours. Random trails, random turns. Was lost for a while but it felt great. Michaux's bust quickly faded away as the pedals turned and I flew through the damp forest. Eventually found my way to trails I'm familiar with. Then stumbled upon some cool stunts. Went back yesterday with my camera. Check it:

Latest updates on my main ride:
  • Swapped the EL Caminos for 2007 XTR disc
  • Ergon GC2 grips
  • fixed my Shimano 959 pedals so the Time pedals went back in the box
  • removed bashguard (bb is high enough to not need it)
  • been playing with 34x20, 34x21 and 32x20
  • 25lbs

Figured out the remainder of the year's vacation time... Sucks to have to plan so far ahead but that's what happens when you only have 15 vacation days per calendar year to work with. SO, its now feasible for me to do La Ruta this year. Count me in. I just have to finish the logistics of registering.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Michaux - Curse of Dark Hollow 100k

Michaux was a bust. I'm not happy but you take what you can get.

TimmyD and I drive all the way out there, arrive around 10pm and I realize my front tire is flat. Not a good sign. Sunday morning I put a tube in and hope for the best.

Not even 5 miles into the race I pinch flat the front tire. I was having fun too sitting on Huber's wheel. Fixed the flat as I saw the entire race pass me. Now with a full front tire and holding DFL I began to pick people off. Made some headway in the back of the field but had a feeling I'd never see the lead guys.

Then I see Tim fixing a flat. Not good. He should be way out front. I also realized my front tire was low. WTF? Seeing as I was at the bottom of a singletrack climb I hiked up to the top. Then decided the trail and my bike were good enough to ride. Turns felt like the tire was going to roll off the rim but I didn't care. As soon as the tire fully let go I pulled over to swap out for another tube.

Low and behold... A 3 inch long hole in my sidewall. I popped 3 gel packs in need of the wrappers to line the inside of my tire. My 2nd new tube and I'm good to go. Back to picking people off. A couple miles later I pinch flat the front again. Now I'm out of tubes and air but a rider was kind enough to loan me his tube and CO2 (Thank You!). Fixed and refixed the sidewall hole.

Back on the bike and actually got to ride for once. Now I'm surely not going to catch anyone and am wondering what the fuck I'm doing. Why am I to even race this 62mile, nothing but rocks the size of televisions, race from the back of the field? Got around the reservoir and through the first water station. Onto some fire road climbs (maybe around mile 9). Out of the saddle pedaling I realize my front tire felt a bit too soft. Hmmm... Couple hundred feet later its fully flat and now I'm hiking. Hiked about 3 miles through some beautiful terrain wishing I could ride it. Then one of the motos saw me.

Ditched my bike in the woods and hopped a ride on the back of the dirtbike to camp. Turned in my number and eventually drove back to pick up my bike (it was in the woods right off a forest service road).

DNF. 2nd time ever I had to throw in the towel. I'd consider this my first official DNF. The previous one was years ago when I didn't know what I was doing.

Not really happy but am optimistic. I was feeling good to. Ready to pick people off on the climbs. Who knows if I would have lasted the full 62miles due to the rigid fork and huge rocks but I never even got a chance to try.

Harlan dominated and took the win over Trek's Chris E. TimmyD and I left before the singlespeeders finished but I did see the leaders (Buck, Topher and Huber) come through the 40mile mark (looking strong). I'm guessing the top 3 SS was them in some order.

Time to recoup and come back with a vengeance at the Wilderness 101 in a few weeks time....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

100k here we come

Been playing around with some adjustments to the 29er this week in preparation for Michaux. This is a long one. 100k (that's 62miles if you didn't know) of pure Pennsylvania rocky and hilly terrain.

Recall last race in Michaux my hands became blisters by mile 10. Making some changes this time around:

Found some large volume tires (29x2.2) to provide some form of shock absorption from the rocks. The front fits in my fork but the back doesn't fit. I think the tire is out of round on the rim. In other words. I didn't do a good job setting the tire on the bead for I was too focused to seal the bead with Stan's (yup. no tubes, I hate tubes). Since then I've played around with reseating the bead and double checking rim roundness
and trueness. One small spot on the tire is rubbing on my rear non-driveside chainstay. Going to cut the knobbies down tonight and that should fix it. All in all, very little room in both the fork and rear end for such large tires (after all, why would you typically want to run such a large and heavy tire anyway?). If the weather and terrain was wet I wouldn't even bother with these tires for I'd do some damage to the frame with mud and small corkcs.

Oh yeah! Did I mention how much I love these Ergon grips? The smaller diameter is perfect. Even though I've got large hands I had trouble holding onto the bars whilst descending with the larger diameter Ergons. Bar ends.... What are those? I haven't had bar ends in years. Well, they are a godsend on a singlespeed. New hand position. Better upper body leverage when out of the saddle attacking the climb. Pure bliss!

Tires are covered now. Grips are covered now. bingo.

Last thing is gearing. All season I've been on 34x20. Went to 34x21 for last night's ride. Felt good but the climbs weren't as steep as we're going to see in PA. Ran the wheel inches for various combinations of chainrings and rear cogs today at work. Will make a commanding decision on Saturday which gear ratio I go with.

This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

mac -vs- pc = 29er -vs- 26

This is a good article.
mac -vs- pc = 29er -vs- 26

Monday, July 09, 2007

darkhorse gallop

Rewind to early June.... After the Mohican I laid low from the race scene and focused on mileage. A mix between road and offroad. Each ride was a minimum of 3hours long as I played around with eating and drinking habits. Did quite a bit of interior painting on the house and even did some work to my car to make it faster.

Fast forward to the first weekend in July..... Saturday was spent digging holes and planting trees and all sorts of plants for a friend of mine. In the sun and heat. The Highlands to Hudson series made its 4th stop in the Stewart Forest of southeast NY state and I was happy to be a part of it (albeit missing a beach day though).

It was hot, upper 90s hot. The expert singlespeed field was also a decent size (14 strong) and stacked. Mike from NJ, Sean from Bethel Cycle, Ed Burgess etc.. Didn't see Ray (a good thing) and TimmyD & Dicky are still racing the 7day race from Vancouver to Whistler (complete with their pink IndustryNine wheelsets). The course was a fast 5.5mile loop and we exercised this loop 4 times. Last year each lap ended with a climb up this gravel access road with all the spectators cheering you on.. Whilst driving to the race I was anxiously awaiting this climb. Since the course is so fast this climb will help split up the group. Mmm... fun.

Upon arriving I got to see a bit of the Sport class race. Something seemed amiss here. Why were they riding down the gravel road climb? After asking a few people I quickly found out this year's race was on the same course as last year but opposite direction. Interesting. Either way, it looked like a good time.

As I was getting ready I saw Harlan and Topher. Sweet. Guess Harlan came back from Colorado and Topher was going to grace the SingleSpeed group with his appearance. He was also rocking a new Lynskey Ti singlespeed with bead blasted graphics. Super cool.

The course was fast and the race was short relative to what I'm used to (22miles). Hoping I hydrated enough leading up the race I figured 1 bottle per lap, a total of 4 gels (3 during, 1 before) and one banana (before). I also showed up with my new Maxxis Crossmark 29 tires (perfect choice for a fast course).

We went after the pros. The pros had a guest racer. None other than Luna Chix' Georgia Gould. Guess she was in the area getting ready for Mount Snow. The organizers let her race with the Pro Men group. The Orbea Oiz she was riding was pretty cool. Carbon Fiber chainstays and a rear suspension design that mimics the Cannondale Scapel (my first full suspension). Looking at Orbea's site they've got 29rs! sweet.

The first half of each lap had one hike-a-bike and three other short, steep climbs that I was able to ride up (34x20). After that we went through a few sweet technical downhills, across a road and then in and out of a field and power lines. The climbs and descents were very short (maybe 100ft of vert?). It was also cool in the trees on the first half. The second half felt like a sauna it was so hot.

The beginning of the race I was pedaling my ass off to stay up front. We immediately got into a long line sitting on each other's wheel. I was probably 6th going into this first short little incline. Taking the outside line I moved up a spot and tried to hang into Topher and Sean's wheels. They eventually pulled away with one other rider and I was left in a group of about 4 or 5. I was riding like a moron. Pedaling way to fast, breathing really hard and negotiating the turns very poorly.

Going into lap 2 I was out on my own with probably just a couple seconds of a gap. I found myself and was riding much smarter. Mike caught me and passed me like I was standing still. I tried to stay on his wheel but couldn't. Going into those short climbs in the first half both Ed Burgess and another rider caught up to me. Taking the lead down the descents and into the second half of the course I realized I could pull away from them. I also noticed someone dropped out which I think put me in 4th or 5th place.

By the time I got to the climbs (I hate to even call them climbs, lets use the word 'incline') on lap 3 I noticed Ed and that other rider caught back up to me. Hmm. Lets see if I can pull away from them again. By now I had my lines and could negotiate the course fluently. Sure enough. By the time I got up to the start/finish going into lap 4 Ed and company were no where to be found.

Going into the final lap I was feeling pretty good. No cramping and still had quite a bit of strength in my legs. I pulled over and tossed my empty bottle (oh, I also lost one bottle on the first lap) and picked up two new ones from my stash on the side of the course (one good thing of multi-lap races). Yuck. Hot Accelerade. I kept drinking one bottle anyway for fear of my legs cramping thanks to the heat.

Here come the inclines again and all I saw was that other rider but no Ed. The last incline I've been riding up and everyone else has been running so I figured this is where I'll pull away. Nope. He was right on my wheel up over the top. Shit. What am I going to do? Last time I was in a position like this (pulling someone around a course) I wound up doing all the work and blowing up near the end of the lap. A quick decision was needed. I got it, no brakes and a whole lot of guts on the descent (faster than previously) and I was able to open up a small gap. Entered the second half of the lap (aka: the Sauna) and I pushed it harder than the previous laps. This also resulted in losing a 2nd bottle. No sweat, I still had another one on the bike and the race was almost over.

Muscled right up this short rocky section near the end (Topher cheering me on) and I'm now at the finish! Sweet. 5th place singlespeed! All that effort on the last lap netted a short 3 or 4 second gap to the guy behind me. Just enough to claim 5th. Turns out Mike caught Topher and Sean and put the hammer down to claim first. Sean got a flat and Topher closed the gap on him to take 2nd with Sean 3rd. Dave took 4th not too far behind Sean (didn't realize he was there).

As soon as the race was over I tried to drink more water but couldn't really get anything down. Think that was because my gallons of water were hot from sitting in my car (note: bring cooler next time). I eventually cooled off a bit and hung around for the awards. Everyone was asking about my Ergons. Turns out they are a hit and Quality keeps selling out of them. My new t-shirt I received the day before was also a hit (Lizzie's 35th). Thanks Rudzik!

Awards ceremony came and I actually won something for 5th place. Money! Got my entrance fee back and some money in my pocket for gas to get home. Sweet! I'm stoked. Guess a month off from racing hasn't hurt anything.

While I'm digging holes for trees and racing my bike in the heat my dog decided he was to hang out at the kennel and get a good grooming to free all that winter undercoat. What a life.

This coming weekend is race #2 in the Michaux Mega series. A 100k (62miles) race through the rocky, and wonderful, Michaux State Forest in PA. I'm going to try some tires with more volume to help with riding rigid but the sidewalls seem to have so many pinholes that Stan's isn't sealing them. Hmm....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mohican 100 Detailed Report

My slack ass has finally gotten around to writing a detailed report from my experiences at this year’s Mohican 100. Yes, it has taken me over a month but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing…..

TimmyD and I took the Audi and cruised out to Ohio the day before. Rumor had it the weather was going to be hot and humid. It was hovering in the lower 80s on the way out. I drove the majority of the trip while my navigator was sleeping.

We arrive and find the start/finish and pick up our numbers and such. Then it was off to figure out our lodging. After some back and forth with Harlan, Tim and Simon we found a cabin in, what I think, was the Mohican Campground. Turns out the racecourse looped around the campsite on some sweet singletrack. Shortly after arriving we were greeted by Simon and Lindsay who drove down from Ann Arbor Michigan.

Mmm. pasta dinner and rest. Great way to spend the night-before. Early to bed, early to rise (5:30/6am) along with the ‘oatmeal challenge’. Then we were off to the start/finish at another campground. It was humid and did not look like a fun day was in store.

The first 25miles or so was all singletrack through the Mohican Forest. It was a rolling start out of the campground onto the road. We cruised along top of the dam that I was informed we’d be climbing straight up at the end of the race. The start was ‘supposed’ to be a rolling, causal start to keep the group together but that lasted all of what, ½ a mile? I was rolling with Harlan for a little (hmm.. guess I was up front) but and then he pulled away when I ran out of gear. Then Simon came past me on the road and I hung with him ‘till we entered the singletrack. Tim was way up infront and I recalled Topher being somewhere behind me.

Enter the singletrack. Sweet stuff too. Fast rolling singletrack with some nice turns and switchbacks. I was moving at a decent clip. One that wouldn’t put me over the edge and one that wouldn’t hold me back. Every now and then I’d see Tim a few turns up the singletrack. Hmm.. Am I really that far up? I was guessing my singletrack romp had me in the top 3 singlespeeders and later I figured I actually was holding 2nd place SS with only Tim infront of me.

Lets say 10miles in I caught up to a group of geared riders that was moving slow for my tastes. I tried passing them but they wouldn’t have it. I was having so much fun pushing my own through the turns without anyone infront of me that I was pissed when I came up to this group. Even more pissed when they wouldn’t let me through. A few elbows here and a few explicit words there I got through. Only to open up a gap and then crash pretty bad about a mile down the trail. Yeah, it was a quick left and quick right (ala: chicane). I thought I could bunny-hop and go straight cutting off the turns. Wound up catching something with my tire and folded the bars. Landed on my left side and slid for about 20ft. Lost a waterbottle and the group I pulled away from caught me and passed me. Doh!

After a very quick search for my bottle revealed nothing I jumped back on the bike and shook off the crash. It was my first crash of the season so I was somewhat disheveled but shrugged it off the best I could. The folks at the first aid station (mile 15?) were kind enough to provide me with a new bottle (now I had two again) and I was on my way.

Mile 20-30:
Pushing hard through the singletrack I was quickly finding that I was riding the first 30miles as if that’s all the race. Ugh oh. Not good. I still have 75ish-miles go to. Nearing the end of the singletrack (upper 20s) the temperature was rising and DeJay Birtch and Robert Elam caught up to me. Pushed it very cleanly through a rock garden only to notice I’d lost yet another bottle in the process. I was losing strength fast thanks to the humidity and let them pass me. I’m thinking I slipped into 4th place and was comfortable with that.

Mile 30-50:
Out of the singletrack and onto the road. Hanging with some geared riders and beginning to cramp. Oh, and I’m out of water in my one and only bottle. Temps in the 90s. Not a good combination. A few miles out from aid station 3 I hear someone calling my name from behind me. It was Simon. He took a wrong turn for about 10mins and had to backtrack (the story of last year’s Mohican). He let me finish his water bottle and we cruised into aid station 3 together. Said Topher and company were about 5mins back on me. Not good. Now Topher’s catching me. What a day.

Topher and Keith rolled into aid station 3. We all refilled and then took off together. I was fading fast while Topher and Keith pulled away from me. We were on a bunch of unpaved and paved roads. At one point I was creeping along all by myself for easily 10miles. I’m hovering around mile 50now. Saw Garth cruising around in his car and was seriously, seriously, considering flagging him down and turning in my number (ala: DNF). Lots of thinking and I was able to push away the thoughts of DNF and kept on moving.

At some point I found the next aid station around mile 50/60. I was not feeling well. Drank two full bottles and ate some food (oranges, bananas, etc) while I sat there. By now I’m sure Topher and Keith had 30mins on me and I was delirious.

Mile 50 – 89:
Somehow pushed on and actually found some strength and my legs weren’t cramping anymore. Rolled back and forth with this geared rider that kept on commenting on how strong I looked (if only he knew). He eventually pulled away and found Topher and Keith at the next aid station. Said a few things about how well I was feeling and that I was gaining on them. I arrived maybe 10mins after they left.

The humidity was insane but that would soon change. I was out of water again and now onto these flat Amish carriage roads cruising at 100+ rpms riding solo. The high cadence felt great on my cramping legs but I knew it would take its toll for I heard these carriage roads were long. I began trying to figure out what I’d do for water. Then I come across this picnic area and saw a well. Now I shouldn’t go pulling random water from random wells but didn’t care. As I was filling my second bottle I looked up to see this group of riders in a paceline going down the carriage road. In amongst them was a singlespeeder. Shit. I jumped back on the bike and caught up to them. Hanging onto the back of the paceline I sat up, grabbed my Ziploc of Accelerade out of my jersey and filled up the two bottles. Now I’m set and settled into the paceline. Setting a blistering pace was Danielle Musto from Slingshot. Somehow I was able to hang on with shotty legs and 1 gear. Then the rain came. Finally I thought. It’ll cool down. It also formed huge puddles on this nasty cinder-covered carriage road. We quickly turned black with grit.

At one point the carriage road had a short 20ft climb up to cross a paved road. Little did I realize but I pulled away from everyone on this climb. Back onto the carriage road I turned around and saw no one. Huh? Damn. I don’t want to ride solo. Then Danielle and one of the other geared riders caught up and the 3 of us worked together to get to the next aid station (I pulled away from the SSr).

Cruising into the next to last aid station around mile 70ish I heard that Topher and Keith left only minutes ago. Awesome! I’m gaining on them! As I was refueling Danielle took off down the trail. The other SSr caught up and left before I could so I took off after him again. Working hard cruising down the road I eventually caught up to him and passed him. Felt really good. Had some trouble on some steeper grades but for the most part I was feeling really good. That carriage road helped me recover. My stomach was still in a knot though.

Rolled into the last aid station (mile 89) to see both Topher and Keith standing there eating. Topher turns around with a mouth full of pretzels and spits them out as soon as he sees me. “WTF? Where did you come from?” was his reaction. I smiled and said “I’m back.”. I spoiled their plans of an easy spin to the finish. I thought I could keep up with them but didn’t have the strength to duke it out. I had barely enough strength to hold my own and get to the finish. They took off and I followed not to long after.

Mile 89+:
Mmm. more singletrack. It was another 10miles of singletrack along this river front. I knew that dam was coming and sure enough, it did. Huge thing and we had to go right up the front of it (it was grass covered). Every step I took hurt for every step consisted of cramps in my legs. Many steps later I’m at the top of the damn. Sweet! Mile 98. Only 2 miles to go. I knew the rest was some ups and downs with one last climb to the campsite start/finish.

Not long after leaving the damn (about ¼ mile down the road) something didn’t feel right. My stomach knot was unwinding. Projectile vomit all over the road as I’m riding. It was hilarious, painful, and reliving all at the same time. I pulled over and was hunched over a guard rail and threw up a few more times. Basically everything I ate and drank in the previous 3 or 4 hours was now on the side of the road. My legs were cramping and I knew whatever I tried to eat/drink would not be absorbed in the 2mile ride to the finish. So, I mustered on without drinking or eating and dealt with the pain in my legs. Somehow I was able to ride up the climbs that I encountered, including the last and final climb to the finish.

As soon as I finished I hunched over the bars in relief. TimmyD was watching and came down off the lodge’s porch to help me. Turns out I finished only 5minutes behind Keith and Topher. Sweet! I made up an estimated 25mins after they passed me back around mile 30. My final time was 10hours 3mins and I was excited with that. 6th place singlespeed was the final finish.

Just think of how Mohican could have gone if I ate better and stayed hydrated??