Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 TSE - Day Zero

I had Friday the 28th off (unpaid day) so the bulk of my day was spent running errands, packing and preparing for the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Eary Saturday morning Dave Cormier, myself and my dog hit the road. We had a brief stop in central New Jersey to a) pick up new helmets of mine from High Gear and b) leave Omega with my parents for the week.

We were then back on the road heading out I78 into Pennsylvania. Quick stop in Hamburg, PA for a Subway sub and then back on the road to Harrisburg and then out Rt22/322 to State College.

We arrived at the Boy Scout Camp [which we would ultimately call 'home base' for the week] somewhere mid-afternoon. Found the main office and a map and description of who is bunking where. Dave and I were in Eagle Lodge. Dave on the 2nd floor and myself on the first floor. A fitting name seeing as I am an Eagle Scout.

Found our way over to Eagle Lodge and unpacked the Jeep. Dicky had already shown up and was fully unpacked. He and his fellow Canadians were waiting on Peter. While they waited for Peter, Dave and I went to go pre-ride the course for stage 1: The Prologue.

The Prologue course looked really good. We did have some trouble finding one turn off of Sand Mountain road. A turn that brought us back into singletrack heading in the direction back to camp. Missing turns will be come a common theme throughout the week... For Dave.

Back at camp having completed the 10mile prologue course and it was time to clean up. Peter has arrived and we were all going to head into State College for some dinner. After following lousy Garmin GPS directions across State College and down 'no outlet' roads we found ourselves at some Italian restaurant named after Nintendo's Super Mario Bros characters.

After dinner we found a Target and picked up some perishable foods to stock Eagle Lodge's refrigerators with. Then a stop to a local liquor store for some beer. Once we figured out the liquor laws in PA and purchased some beer we were enroute back to camp.

I don't remember much beyond that. Guess we went to sleep..

Friday, May 28, 2010

the wrong way to prepare for a stage race

Here is my quick five step guide as to how NOT to prepare correctly for a mountain bike stage race. I think this is a much better approach than Dicky's preparation strategy as well as Jeremiah Bishop's strategy.

1) go to a company picnic five days prior

2) eat company provided food at said picnic

3) contract stomach bug from eating company provided food at said picnic

4) allow body to refuse to keep any food in body days post picnic

5) loose weight as a result of not eating/retaining good, healthy food and nutrients

That is right. On Tuesday I was at a company picnic and had lunch. Tuesday afternoon my internals started making all kinds of noises. No, it wasn't Kuato wanting to get out. Wednesday wasn't much better but I did manage a two hour mountain bike ride in 100degF heat. Thursday I started feeling much better. Today I took a few steps backwards.

I blame it on 'Big Brother'. Another way for him to make me not enjoy my time away from the office.

Guess I am racing the Translyvania Epic next week with some wet wipes in my jersey pocket. Don't be alarmed if I suddenly veer off trail when infront of you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

getting ready for Transylvania

This coming Saturday we're traveling to central PA for the Translyvania Epic mountain bike stage race.

Dave Cormier and I have been trying to get some long rides (4+ hrs) in the past few weekends. So far, with great success.

This past weekend we explored Case Mountain area and Gay City State Park for 4.5hours. I felt pretty good.

Turns out I did get three punctures in my tires but Stan's Tire Sealant kept me rolling and I only stopped once or twice to put a small amount of additional air in the tires. These tires are quite old and the sidewalls are starting to deteriorate.

All things considered. I think we're ready for Transylvania. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

EDIT: I did replace these tires with a brand new set of Crossmarks for the event.

During the event, you can keep tabs on us through their website or facebook page.

Monday, May 17, 2010

losing my home turf?

Last week this news article came out: MDC Ordered to Pay $2.9million to Injured Bicyclist

A few minutes later I read this: Lawsuit Verdict May Shut MDC Reservoirs to Cyclists

For those of you readers (wait, people read this?) that do not live near me... The MDC is the Metropolitan District Company. Aka: the water company. They have a reservoir a few short miles from my house. This reservoir, commonly referred to as the West Hartford Reservoir, contains many biking and hiking trails that many Hartford County residents utilize. I have been riding in this reservoir since before I moved to Connecticut. My first experiences riding here were back in 2000 when I was still in college and had friends living in West Hartford. When I moved to Connecticut in 2004 the only area in the Hartford region I was familiar with was this reservoir and the town of West Hartford. Naturally, I decided to call this place my home and found my current house.

With rumors circulating (and they are only rumors at this point) that I may lose the privilege of riding some great trails [where I can pedal to from my driveway] I have become quite bothered.

From the looks of it, I am not the only one that is upset by this decision: Uh Oh, the Mountain Bike Gods are Very Angry

The more I read about this recent verdict the more we, as the public, do not know the whole story. Some articles I have read say that the bicyclist was 'racing their friends down the mountain after dark' and came in contact with a motor vehicle gate, consequently causing spinal damage. This all occurred back in 2003.

Other articles discuss Municipalities & Recreational Use Statutes which, supposedly, relieve the MDC of legal consequences should someone hurt themselves when partaking in extracurricular activities such as bicycling. I also know there are signs everything stating it is illegal to be riding there after dusk.

If you are one of the few individuals that actually partake in that website called Facebook, please join this group. A group of individuals against the verdict and in favor for MDC not to pay any money.

I have not paid much more attention to this issue beyond those few articles I have read. Am I overreacting that we may lose the ability to ride in the reservoir? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Either way, I decided my riding time this weekend was better spent exploring the reservoir some more. I have not been there since I took my Superfly for its inaugural ride in early April.

Weather was looking great for Sunday so that was my day to ride. Temps in the 70s I think. Sunny and blue skies all day. Wind was low. I went out around 12:30pm to ridt the Superfly around the reservoir. Now, a loop around the reservoir on, mostly, singletrack around the perimeter could take me around an hour if I've got a good pace going. This ride started off great but not even 10minutes into my ride on the trail I was met with frustration.

Obstacles that are easily ridden have giant, and I mean 3ft wide, bypasses going around them. These were not present about a month ago. This happens to me all the time. I ride the reservoir every few weeks and find bypasses everywhere. I then spend time out of my ride to block off said bypasses so we can keep the trails from getting wider and keep a certain level of difficulty associated with them. It is a pet peeve of mine and, I guess, my way of giving back to the trails I ride.

I decided to start climbing up to the ridgeline from the Rt44 parking lot. Up first was a rocky pseudo doubletrack ascent (or descent depending on how you look at it). At the apex of this very short climb there are some big rocks. I immediately noticed a worn out path around them off to my right (I was climbing up). I kept on moving and cleared this rock section and got to the top of the climb (a few feet beyond the rocks). Then stopped and took a second look at what appeared to be a 'bypass' around the rocks.

"You've got to be kidding me!" I said to myself and immediately decided that said bypass should not exist. My justification: "If I can ride up the rocks on my singlespeed then everyone can ride up them on bikes with one gear or many gears. If you can't, then walk. That is how I learned to ride this stuff." I then spent the next fifteen minutes finding fallen trees to cover up and block this bypass.

This picture highlights the rocky section on the left and the bypass, on the right, which I just finished covering up. I rode towards it in both directions to make sure the bypass can be seen as 'non-existent' from someone riding along.

Now that I was happy for doing my good deed for the day, and slowly making my frustrations disappear, I got back on the bike and kept on climbing the next section of the trail. Not even 100ft later I encounter another bypass, around a fallen tree that has been there for years. "Hmm. This was not here a month ago and surely was not here a year or two ago. Come on people! Ride over the damn tree. Smaller trees were already placed as a 'ramp' to help you get over it. Oh, I get it.. You can't ride over the tree because it is on an uphill climb. So you'll ride around it going up the hill and then ride over it coming down. You lazy bastard. Ride over it in both directions."

Oh yeah, I cleared it no problem riding uphill on my singlespeed. And then cleared the next rocky section immediately thereafter before coming to the next 'landing' where the trail flattened out.

Off the bike and time to close off the bypass. Same justification as before. "If I can ride it on my singlespeed you can ride it on your geared bike. If not, keep trying or walk over it."

You can see the fallen tree in the middle-to-the-right of this picture above. The bypass was on the left which, as this picture shows, I covered up. It is more pronounced from the other direction (coming down the mtn).

Now I was on my kick where I was going to close off all bypasses. I typically see a bunch of them along the ridgeline because the ridgeline is quite technical and people like to 'cop out' of the 'good' lines as I come to call them. Lucky for me I did not see any other obvious 'bypasses' and the rest of my ride continued smoothly.

My plan was to do a few laps around the perimeter but I wound up zig-zagging in and amongst the middle whilst also riding some of the perimeter trails. There is a long (long by Hartford standards) gravel fireroad climb over near the south end. I did a few repeats up that climb. I also found some seldom ridden doubletrack (in the middle areas) and even some new singletrack that I've never seen (over by the dikes on the north side) so I explored those.

Somewhere between the three and four hour mark Ginger was able to meet up with me and we got a nice ride in together. She recorded it with her telephone (motorola droid).

Here is the loop we did (click on image):

Took us just inside of two hours and we covered just inside of ten miles with 1800ft of elevation gain. A nice way to end my afternoon of riding and a great ride by Ginger. She practiced her posture and breathing while climbing. Tested her courage on the descents and even rode over most of the fallen trees we encountered. A great afternoon and a total of around five and a half hours on the bike.

I hope to ride here again soon. I hope I'll be able to.