Saturday, April 28, 2007

ghetto-fashion tubeless

Felt pretty good after Cohutta. My quads and hamstrings were tight for a few days. Nothing a good massage and some riding will fix. Rode to work on Monday. The change in gearing on my track bike is nice (went from 49x15 to 49x17). It was good to stay moving even though my legs felt heavy.

Tuesday I converted my rear 29er wheel to my ghetto tubeless system. Took a 26inch tube, cut it circumferentially and put it on the rim over top of the V
elox rim tape. 3 cups of Stan's tire sealant, good mixing of the sealant thoughout the tire and bead. Pump up to 40psi. It took some effort to get the beads to seal as I was pumping it up but patience persisted and everything sealed up. Once at pressure take an exacto knife and trim the 26inch tube up against the rim and tire. Right now I've got a kevlar bead WTB Moto-Raptor tire but have some Maxxis Ignitors (kevlar bead) on the way. Rode Wednesday on this setup and things held great. As of today its still got full pressure. Going to ride tomorrow and see how things are. If this holds then my backup Stan's rim strips will just collect dust on the shelf.

Rode to work on Thursday and Friday. Knee was a little bothersome so I layed off high resistance and iced it a lot. Things are feeling good again.

Called up Veltec Sports and have some Sidi Dominator 5s coming my way. My Dragons are stretched after 4 seasons of use and now my feet are moving from side to side. A new, and narrow, pair of shoes will fix all this... size 47 Narrow to be exact. They are going to fit like a slipper with the Superfeet insoles (helps my high arches). I've quickly become a firm believer of the proper fit. It all starts with the correct frame and trickles down to the shoes and pedals. I've noticed how much more power I can get now with less fatigue. Definitely recommend finding your way to a shop that uses the Serrotta fit system.

BKB clothing is coming middle of the month. Good stuff.

Cohutta 100

What better way to start the race season than with a 100mile race on a rigid singlespeed?

The quick and dirty version:
Lots of driving, police, Virginia Tech, last minute bike fixes, cold oatmeal, Tinker, good start, Doug's rear tire flat #1, Tim going from 1st place SS to very BAD day courtesy of Stan’s 355 29r rims, Doug's rear tire flat #2, trailside flat help from Elk, knee pain nonexistent, Doug's rear tire flat #3, Doug finishing in 7th place SS on a flat tire. Couple ho
urs later: more fast driving, more police, sleeping in random fields, more police, sleeping in rest stops, more driving, home again.

The unabridged version:
It all started with Thursday: 1/2 day of work, physical therapy, load up the car and head down
to NJ. Stopped by High Gear Cyclery to pick up my freshly rebuilt rear brake, drop my dog off with my parents’ and met up with Tim to pack the rental car and hit the road. On the road by 6pm en-route to our first stop: my brother’s place in Blacksburg VA.

Just after midnight and I’m at the wheel of the car navigating, what I’ll call the ‘new’ rt460 in Blacksburg VA (they finished it right after I graduated but I have never driven on it). One exit away from Virginia Tech’s campus and we’ve got blue and red lights. 75 in a 55. A short, polite conversation later we’re on the road again with just a warning. Arrive at Dave’s place. Got rockstar parking and asleep by 1.

Awoke Friday morning to my brother Dave cooking Tim and I our breakfast. Eggs, bacon and oatmeal. Thanks Dave! We owe you. Gave
Tim a little tour of campus. Shocked by all the new buildings since 2002. Onward south to Tennessee. Walmart stop in Wytheville, VA for some camping chairs and food. Lunch stop with some high school girls. Head through Knoxville and arrived at the Ocoee Whitewater Center (near Copperhill TN) mid-afternoon. Tim and I took some time to chat with the Forest Service Rangers, snapped a few photos of the area and then found the race start. Picked up our registration packets, spoke to Brandon & Garth a bit and then found our campsite.

Late afternoon the day before the race and I’m bleeding my brakes and trying to figure out why the front brake is dragging like a mofo. Fun stuff. Finally got my front brake to work (had to clean & lubricate the piston seals so the pistons would retract). Bike is all set. Time to eat a ton of pasta and salad. Off to sleep around 8pm.

6am Saturday. Time to get up for a 7am race start. It was a bit cold (upper 40s I presume) and hard to get motivated. Clear skies so it looked like the day was going to be beautiful. Downed a huge bowl of cold oatmeal and some Ensure. Tim and I hopped on our 29r SSs and casually rode to the start (about a mile away). The cruise to the start was much needed to get things moving.

Some inside advice suggested we stay up front on the first two road climbs. After those two climbs the course dipped into some tight singletrack for a while and passing would be difficult. Tim and I did exactly that. Stayed up front from the get-go. I was worried about my knee for it doesn’t do well at WOT from the gate. My muscles need some time to warm up and get moving prior to significant stress on the knee. Well, got up the first climb without much difficulty and hung on in the shallow valley and into the second climb. I was in the back of the bunch and Tim out front. Must have been 30 or 40 people. I turned around and realized we had a huge gap on the main field. Awesome! Coming up quick was a right hand turn off the road and into the singletrack. I was on the right and was able to cut the corner and get into the singletrack probably mid-pack of the lead group.

The leaders were way off the front and disappeared (Tim included, leading the SS category). I was in some middle group with about 10 or 15 guys (Elk and Tom Parsons were the only other SSrs in my group). Cruised some
awesome singletrack with nice banked turns and such. Not once did I need to brake. The singletrack was tight and passing was difficult we we just held our position and cruised in a nice long line. After all, it’s a long race and there will be plenty of time to fight for position.

The singletrack swept back towards the Ocoee Whitewater Center (start/finish), across the bridge and then headed south towards Georgia. Shortly after departing the start/finish I got my first flat. Rear tire was slowly losing air. After battling the need to stop in my head I finally pulled over to fix the flat. At this time Elk and Tom were ahead of me and I was left riding solo. Replaced the tube and pumped it back up really quick. Took a short nature break. By this time a few other SSrs and geared riders passed me. I hoped back on the bike and began retaking everyone who passed me. My body felt great and I was riding strong. Passing people on the climbs like they were standing still.

Next couple of hours were spent riding solo grinding it out on whichever climbs came my way. Spinning out and kamikazing it on the descents. Developed a nice case of chafing on my right leg but tried to ignore it. Shortly after aid station 2 I see this person walking down the fireroad towards me. Not good. It was Tim and he had a taco’d front wheel. Turns out his Stan’s 355 rims are a bit too light with Industry Nine hubs and spokes for a 29er. He stood up to climb and folded his front wheel from the lateral forces. Took him out of the game. He was pissed for he told me he had a nice gap and was holding 1st SS and felt stronger and stronger as the race went on. He cheered me on and I kept on going.

Shortly thereafter I encountered Elk and rode with him for a bit. Just like in the Shenandoah 100 I knew something was up since I caught up to him. Turns out he wasn’t feeling 100% and was just trying to get to the finish. We rode together for a bit. My rear tire went flat again. He provided me with some C02 to get me
to the next aid station (mile 45). The climbs got a bit steeper and Elk pulled away as I slowed down in an effort to not cramp my quads. Finally rolled into aid station 3. Changed my tube again, ate some food, ditched my vest and arm warmers, and refilled my bottles. As I was changing the tube Elk took off. I thanked him for his help.

Tire back inflated and I’m off to tackle the undulating ridgeline anxiously awaiting the fast, long descent of mile 60ish. Caught up to, and passed, whomever left the aid station while I was fixing my flat (but never found Elk). Again, I’m riding solo. Enter the descent. A long, twisting fire road descent down towards aid station 4. I found it was best, with the rigid fork, to grab the handlebars very loosely (just enough to keep the bike going straight), tuck and point the bike. Flew down this descent with some braking going into the turns. Quickly found out the inside turns were chock full of washboards so I had to go wider than anticipated. Eyes tearing, arms pumping it was a great descent.

Got into aid station 4. Ate some more food and refilled my bottles. Didn’t really see anyone coming down the descent into the aid station. Wow. I put that much time on everyone I passed. I was stoked. Carry on. The next few miles were flat and hot. I’m spinning, probably 100rpm, just having a grand ‘ole time wishing there was the slightest of incline to mix things up. After a while (lost track of time) I was quickly realizing that I’m becoming fatigued and still have to climb out of whichever valley I was in. Ate some more food and drank more fluids. A geared rider flew past me like I was standing still. “Where did he come from?”. A few miles later we turned onto another Forest Service road and began climbing. Whoa hoo. I never thought I’d be so excited to see a climb. That meant change.. change of scenery and change of riding position. The flat road was too monotonous for me. Coming at mile 70 it also was like a kick in the pants.

Caught up that geared rider who passed me on the flats. Kept on riding. Don’t really remember much but more fire road. Rolled into aid station 5, somewhere around mile 85. Refilled my food and fluids. Ditched my watch in my drop bag for it had worn some nice cuts into my wrist from the vibration. Had one more major fire road climb and then a bunch of singletrack to the finish.

Here’s where I get all excited. Yes, I’m tired from racing 85miles thus far but I’m equally as excited for I’ve only got, yes, a simple 15miles to go. I’m still riding solo, passed two SS’rs on the fire road climb. They passed me back around aid station 3 and looked like they blew up. Guess I kind of shocked them coming out of now where and pedaling past them like it’s the beginning of the race. Passed even more geared riders. Guess everyone was falling apart and, for some reason, I was feeling great. Finally got into the singletrack. I wasn’t sure how far to go but knew the singletrack was the end. Bystanders kept giving me conflicting information so I stopped asking.

The singletrack had some climbs in it. Those were tough but I pedaled them out. Caught up to, and passed, a geared rider. He freaked out for a minute right before I told him I’ve only got one gear. Guess he thought I was someone else. The singletrack was fun. Nice and tight. Reminded me of the Brush & Gap mountain trails over in Blacksburg VA. Hurt like hell on my arms as I pointed the bike over roots and rocks. I’m now getting closer and closer. Figured I’m only 3miles from the finish and I notice the rear tire is getting low again. NO. Decided NOT to change the tube and pumped it up with another C02 to get me moving. I finally came out of the singletrack and cruised right near our campground. 1 mile go to and its all road. Spun like crazy as it both hurt and helped my legs to spin at such a high cadence. The bike also went fast J. A quick right onto a bridge, across the river and a quick left and I’m at the finish line. That quick left was interesting for I didn’t realize how low my back tire was. The whole back of the bike slid and the tire folded. Oops. Can’t go that fast.

I rolled across the finish line in 9hours 19minutes, 7th place SS division, 69th place overall. Elk was right there hanging out. He finished about 5minutes ahead of me in 6th place SS. Strangely enough, I felt great, didn’t have any knee pain the whole race, and was so excited for finishing under 10hours. I had a feeling I made it into the top 10 SS but wasn’t positive.

Hung out a bit at the start/finish. Spoke to Elk, Harlan and Garth for a while and then went back to the campsite to find Tim. He was sleeping when I arrived. I chose not to talk to him about his bike for he was very upset about the whole deal. Seeing as he slept all afternoon we packed up camp and I cleaned up. Then we hit the road enroute to get back to NJ early Sunday. It would have been nice to stay a bit longer but even I wanted to just get back home for I’d rather save my vacation days for later this year.

Dinner at some Mexican restaurant in Knoxville. Something thereafter we encounter another police officer. 70something in a 55 but got off with a warning. Not that much further, in southern Virginia we encounter another police officer. Couldn’t get out of this one. More driving. By now its around 1 in the morning and Tim is getting tired so we pull over (somewhere around Lexington VA). Found a field to park the car in and go to sleep. Ditched the car behind a tree, pulled out the sleeping bags and thermarests and went to sleep under the stars. Thirty minutes go by and I’m awoken by two flashlights in my face. The police weren’t too thrilled that we were sleeping in some farmer’s field. Had to leave. Drove another 50 or 60 miles north to the next rest stop and slept on the grass in the rest stop.

I was out cold and Tim woke me up sometime in the morning. The rest stop was empty and the sun was blazing. Turned out to only be 7:30am. More driving. Stop in WV for breakfast at a CrackerBarrel. Got back to NJ around noon. Hung out at my parents’ for a while and got back to CT sometime that evening.

Not sure what was wrong with my rear wheel b
ut I filed the valve stem hole a bit (each flat seemed to be a slow leak from the valve stem). I also made my own rim strip and threw in some Stan’s Tire Sealant. Yup, tubeless kevlar bead 29er! Took some finagling but finally got the beads to seal and the tire to hold air overnight. Been a few days and its still holding so we’re probably a go.

Next up is the Michaux Maximus on May 6th, an awesome 50mile loop through Michaux State Forest in PA. I’ve never done it but have heard nothing but good things from everyone.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Sitting here at work I can only think that in 3 hours I'm on the road. Stopping in NJ to drop off my dog and car. Picking up my rebuilt rear brake. Then catching up with Tim and we're hitting the road to find Elk and Harlan. Thanks to a friend of his at Enterprise we've got a super deal on a rental and don't have to put the mileage on our own vehicles.

Stoppy in Blacksburg tonight to see my brother and get some rest. Then off to the road again. Mapquest says almost 13hours from NJ. Sounds about right. Should get in around noon on Friday providing plenty of time to hang out, rest, get an easy spin in and prepare for Saturday's festivies.

Took the road bike out for an easy 2hrs yesterday. Got about 7 hours of sleep last night but my body is still tired. WhY? Don't know but I do know more rest is needed. Hope Tim doesn't mind me sleeping in the car while he's driving.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Spent last weekend in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Hung out with some good friends. Played around with the new camera. Omega got to sniff some butts at one of the dog parks. Saw a ton of fixed gears. Even found (accidentally) where NYC Bikes holds shop. Weather was great.

Little did I realize a NorEaster was coming on Sunday. It rained so much. Central Park got close to 8inches of rain. Every road I turned down on my way home was closed due to flooding.

If you make it to the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn I highly suggest you stop by NYC Bikes and say hello. I stopped in to pick up a 17t cog for my track bike and shot the shit with them for a while. Great people. Great store. Great prices.

Who's mug is this?

Back to more bike stuff. Got the Cohutta 100 coming up this weekend. First race of the season (yes. crazy me feels I can start the season off by racing a 100miler without any previous races to shake out the legs). Last couple weeks have been heavy training. Left knee has been feeling good. Guess my own therapy program is working. I also started professional therapy a few weeks ago. Not sure if it is helping but it'll take time. I'm still convinced the program I put together will help.

So, this week I resort to wine & cheese & drugs. Oops. That was last weekend. I have noticed that my knee is
bothersome this week. What Gives??? I've been resting, taking my drugs, stretching and icing down. Must be this damn low pressure. Stupid rain. I hate rain.

We'll have to see what happens on Saturday. I'm not letting it get me down. Until then. Enjoy. I'm going to sleep.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Grand Theft Velo

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wharf Rat

A great way to spend April Fools... racing through the streets of New Haven CT. Last year's race consisted of playing April Fools up to its finest.... multiple manifests. We'd get three of four stops done on the manifest and then they'd give us another one. This went on for about four or five manifests. Needless to say it was a long race.

This year was a short six stop manifest all in and around the coast on the outskirts of New Haven.
Weather was cloudy and somewhat cold. They said it was supposed to rain but the rain held off until after the race. Naturally, it was a bit windy along the coast. I teamed up with Matt from GhostShip and we came up with our plan-of-attack. Seemed pretty simple: Can do most of the stops in a good order with one of them being pretty far out of the way (on the other side of the New Haven Harbor).

Here's a cool shot from before the race (no handed skid-stop). I forget who the rider is.

As soon as the race began we too off southeast for the southernmost stop on the New Haven side of the New Haven Harbor. Oops. Matt and I quickly realized we took a wrong turn and was on the bridge over the harbor. Quick change of plans and we hit the stop on the bridge and then went off for the stop in no-man's land (southern tip of East Haven). Huge headwind making my 49x15 and Matt's 49x16 gear ratios not too conducive.

Next stop. North on Townsend Ave and across the Ferry Street bridge to get the two checkpoints in Fair Haven. Got all the way up to the Ferry St. Bridge only to realize it was closed for rebuilding. Shit! The next two checkpoints were right over that bridge! Hmm. If I paid more attention to the New Haven streets I would have realized that bridge is out (its been out for easily a year). Back down south to the route 1 bridge and then back up north. Finally hit those two stops and then cruised down Orange street... Right past the finish line, train station and into West Haven to hit the two final checkpoints. These were the two checkpoints we wanted to hit first.

The final checkpoint was waaay south and the wind was insane coming in off the harbor. We made it and I demanded we get inland and take some side streets to stay out of the wind. Matt knew his way around so I followed him. A few close calls at intersections and we made it back into downtown New Haven for the finish line. The finish was a mad dash up this inclined grassy knoll. We both shouldered the bikes and ran ala 'cyclocross-style to the finish. Matt out of breath and my left knee bothering me. We both finished somewhere between 10th and 20th.

All in all it was a good time. Went over to Bar (yeah, that's the name of the bar) for a little afterparty.

More details can be found at the GhostShip blog.

Here are some more pictures. And here are even more pictures.

Who is this freak?