Monday, November 29, 2010

they say things come in waves of three

I just finished three loads of laundry that took me three days to complete.

I just read these three blogs.

I tried to sell three bikes but only wound up selling two for the time being.

On yesterday's ride we were chatting about the three races put on in Michaux State Forest every year. Thinking about getting back to Michaux next season.

There are three things left on my TO DO list from Saturday. Oh wait. I just crossed one item off. Nevermind..

The past three weeks have seen me pedal a bicycle three times. About typical for me this season. That's right, back in the summer I don't think I was riding more than twice a week for a total of 4-6hours.

November started with an experiment of sorts.. I threw my Tomi Cog onto my Vicious 29er and took it out for a two hour trail ride one Sunday afternoon. My first fixed gear mountain bike ride.

Holy shit. This is insane. I don't know how Tomi and Dicky compete at a level they compete at whilst riding a fixed gear mountain bike. As Peter said when we were out at Breck this past summer, "its all about timing". Strangely enough he was just talking about that today. Well, waht Peter was referring to with Tomi's Fixed Gear off-road riding was 'Pedal Timing' to be exact. He spent a lot of time watching Tomi ride the inaugural Breck Epic fixed and noticed how Tomi would time the pedals with turns and obstacles.

Yeah.... Pedal Timing was probably the hardest thing I could not figure out in my first two hour ride. It was clearly evident when I encountered fallen trees. I could not time things correctly to bunny hop or gracefully float over the trees without smacking my pedals into the tree and stopping dead in my tracks. This is something I need to work on. I did figure out timing for wheelie drops off rocks and such. I also kind of got the whole 'pedaling while hovering above the saddle' figured out too.

Oh yeah, those 29x2.2 Wolverines don't quite fit comfortably in the small Vicious Cycles chainstay and seatstay provisions. That was one thing I never liked about that frame... The lack of accommodation for larger tires. There is some room with the fork but not much. Anyway...

The following week I sold my GT Track bike and bought a Cannondale Capo from Sean at Bethel Cycle. I wanted a track bike that fit me more like my Cannondale road bike and would handle similarly. This way I could go out on long fixed gear road rides should I want to do that instead of take the road bike out.

Its got the stock wheelset with Ultegra cranks and 170mm arms. Standard drop bars with SRAM 500 levers and FSA Gossamer brakes front and rear.

That Saturday was the Cheshire Cyclocross race which also happened to be the CT State Cyclocross championships. Last year I raced my Vicious there (Actually, it was 2008). This year I had no intentions of racing but did want to go out and support Matt from Ghostship Clothing while he raced in the CAT3/4 with his singlespeed 'cross bike.

I recruited Salem Mazzawy and we rode to the race and rode home. He left his house in Glastonbury and met me in the south end of West Hartford an hour later. We then rode into Newington and into New Britain. Took some other back roads and eventually came out onto rt10 in Plainville. Hopped on the East Coast Greenway and rode that through Southington and into Cheshire as far as we could. Took me about 2hours give or take to get down there.

paul bunyan says hello
(that's probably a 50+ft statue)

The Cheshire 'cross race includes a long run-up that, in previous years, not that many people have been able to ride it. Why? At the bottom there was a fallen tree that was about a foot or two off the ground with no adjacent logs. You basically had to bunny hop that tree and somehow maintain forward momentum to continue up the hill. The tree was a few feet into the ascend on the hill. Well... This year the tree was gone and I saw a lot more people riding the hill than in years past.

I was bothered. Why make the course easier? Why take away a staple that helps make the event what it is? This really upsets me when trail obstacles that some people can ride and others try are removed or even simplified. Some stuff in Penwood were recently 'modified' (I'll get to that in another post... as I've been saying for months.. right Charlie?) and the trails within West Hartford Reservoir have 'easy ways' around obstacles that continuously crop up. I continuously close them off only to find them re-opened less than a week later. arghhh!

So, yeah.. This sucked. Some of the people that were riding the hill should not have ridden it and the ability to ride it gave them a distinct advantage over others. F that. I saw this while watching Matt. He had a gear ratio optimum for 99% of the course on his singlespeed 'cross bike but it was too tall to allow him to ride up the hill. He therefore ran the hill but the guys riding the hill were riding faster than he was running. What is a 'cross race without being off the bike running?

Needless to say, Matt wound up finishing 4th place in the Cat 3/4 class and took 2nd in the State for his class. A most excellent finish given he was throwing up and coughing up shit the night before thanks to a newfound cold he acquired. I heard James Harmon did very well in the Pro 1/2 field and my doctor friend Becca took the women's win for the pro field.

I did not stay to watch all of James' race for I needed to get back on the bike so I would be home before dark. It does get dark early now-a-days (boo). A 2hr-ish ride home and I rolled up into my driveway right as it was becoming unsafe to ride with just blinkie lights. About 4hrs on the fixie that day. Coupled with working too much the ride home surely was taxing on my legs.

This past weekend we did another great ride in the awesome trails of Amherst Mass. Sean from Bethel Cycle gave me adequate notice of the ride this time (the past few times its been an email at 6pm the night before the ride for a 7-8am start the next morning) and I was able to join him and his friends.

We bundled up and hit the road early yesterday morning. Temps in Hartford were in the mid 20s (F) and up in Amherst it was in the upper teens. Frigid compared to what we've had thus far. George was down in PA and said it was snowing here and there. Sean's friend came down from his Vermont house and immediately realized he forgot his front wheel as we were getting ready. Fortunately the group of individuals we meet up with out there are super friendly and super awesome. We found Greg a front wheel and were on our way pedaling down the trail sometime after 9am.

Boy was it cold. I thought I dressed appropriately but my fingers froze instantly. My toes followed shortly thereafter. A few hard efforts up these technical climbs later I was finally starting to warm up.

One half of these trails are very technical riding. The classic New England slow-speed rocky trails. This is where I broke my Vicious 29er last year. This stuff is both very difficult and also very fun to ride (if you like that difficult/slow speed rock garden stuff). The guys we met up with ride these trails twice a week at a minimum and not that often do it at a race pace. Crazy.

Later in the ride we rode another section which was less rocky but more 'flowy'. A local that typically joins us when we're riding up there built these trails. Long climbs and super fast descents. Yesterday those trails were covered with oak leaves since they aren't ridden that often. Sweeping turns, sharp turns and off-camber lines were quite difficult to manage at speed.

Here is one such example.

Following that trail off to the right and then it loops back around itself and onto the other side of the chute. That's where I snapped this photo of Frank-The-Tank.

All in all we had a great day. I had just enough energy to get through the 3.5ish hour ride. While I enjoyed the ride my lower back did not agree. My lower back was a bit messed up going into the ride and now it is worse. Same feelings as I had back in 2007. Its entirely my fault. I stopped going to my bi-weekly yoga class in early October because I couldn't get out of work for my lunch hour. I didn't continue any stretching and what-not outside of work and thus things have degraded. I need to get back on this asap so I'll feel better. Starting to work on it effective tomorrow.

Wool kept me warm yesterday. Complete with my Pippi Longstocking knee-high socks. I love wool. It is such an amazing natural fiber.


Blogger CB2 said...

I usually setup a mtb fixed for the Winter. It's like traction control. After a couple of rides the timing becomes more natural, and you'll find you can oist your rear wheel into the air and reposition your cranks going over logs.

11/30/2010 8:16 AM  
Blogger Burnsey said...

Welcome to the club! Fixed gear MTB is freaking awesome. You will have to re-learn so much that you had totally dialed on your SS. Yes, logs and rocks are tricky. If you have a more experienced rider to watch, it helps with the learning curve. A few tips I remember gettting were 1) ride over the tallest part of the obstacle. 2) pull up on your front end, higher than usual to go over obstacle. 3) No bunny hops on a fixie; instead pull a huge wheelie, then stop peddeling and lean forward. You bike will do the rest. 4) Ride a pair of junk pedals until you figure it out...
best of luck! PSYCHED!!!!

12/06/2010 12:50 PM  

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