Wednesday, May 30, 2012

wednesday night road ride

Rain was in the forecast so the decision was made to head out on our road bikes. Last minute decision this morning forced me to leave the singlespeed 'cross bike and grab the Cannondale road bike.

I felt groggy and tired this morning at 5:30am.

Come 4:30pm I felt bloated from a large lunch but once I was on the bike I felt great.

Should have brought the singlespeed 'cross bike.

I rode the geared road bike kind of like a singlespeed. Probably used two or three gears and didn't leave the 53T chainring. Albeit there weren't many climbs today (if any) but still.
I had a good time pulling everyone around the Glastonbury/Manchester/Vernon area this evening. Tried to see how far I could go with every incline by downshifting and not standing up. Felt good this evening.

Perhaps it was my white Twin Six Metal kit I donned?

Or perhaps it was the new Shimano R241 shoes?

Either way, I felt great with two bottles and half a Clif Bar. The Bearscat50 this weekend is going to be fun. I can't wait.

Make sure you are keeping tabs on the Trans-Sylvania Epic on cyclingdirt and the TSE website. I am rooting for Barry Wicks to knock Bishop off the #1 spot. Hoping the Honey Badger can climb up to 3rd or 4th as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

suffering in the heat, but not in PA

Four day weekend for me and two of which were moving concrete and shoveling top soil. The remaining two were riding my bike and reading online about this year's Trans-Sylvania Epic.

You read that correctly. I am in CT and the third annual Trans-Sylvania Epic is full steam ahead. I opted not to compete this year. Guess I wanted a break or a change of pace. Now that the race has begun part of me is going through withdrawl of not being there. Not exactly sure what I was thinking but what is done is done and all I can do is watch from the sidelines and express my excitement for friends competing via social media.

With no TSE this week, what am I to do? I rode Sunday and yesterday and went back to work today. The rest of the week consists of work and hopefully I can sneak a few rides in here and there. Rain is in the forecast.

Saturday I'm heading down to NJ to ride the Bearscat50 course. Then I have to find a place to sleep for Saturday night and Sunday is the race. Waywayanda State Park is full from a camping perspective so I have to find an alternative place to stay. Think I might just look at a map and find somewhere near there I can set up the tent and sleep.

Now, I can't get down to Northern NJ by bicycle in less than a day. Despite my desire to ride to my races I have opted to drive to this one. The terrain this race has to offer is some of my favorite to ride, rocky technical singletrack. To have fun for upwards of 5 to 6 hours there I think I need to be somewhat rested. I don't know if any of that makes much sense but it is what I will be doing.

Looking out to the rest of the year I do plan on riding to the Darkhorse40 and am thinking about signing up for the Hampshire 100. I haven't raced a 100miler in a few years. The challenge will be riding to NH and then racing 100miles and riding home. Need to think more about that one...

So, this past weekend... I took Friday off to do more work on the yard and hauled 4 to 6 yards of broken up concrete to the dump. I also had 4 yards of top soil delivered on Saturday. In the midst of upper 80Fs and probably 80% humidity Ginger and I moved all the top soil around.

Sunday was a 47mile ride with Charlie, Harmon, SBC, Greg, Johan and Frank from Bethel Cycle. A spirited pace with a few hard efforts mixed in. It was hot but not as humid (for the first half of the ride) as Saturday so my plan was to focus on food and water consumption. I paid good attention and felt great for about 95% of the ride.

Turning over the 34x19 on my singlespeed in the heat for such a duration was my test to see how the Bearscat will go. I was pleased so I am even more exited for this coming weekend.

Sunday Ginger and I went over to ride Nathan Hale State Forest in eastern CT. A place I have not ridden much at so it basically is new to me everytime I ride there. We were joined by Matt from Pedal Power and my friend Joey. Temperatures were climbing yet again and the vegetation is thick so there is no air movement in the woods. Add to that singletrack that is very rocky and a hot power yoga class Ginger took earlier in the morning and we had our hands full. Matt's Crankbrother's cleats decided not to work and he took a few diggers. The heat then caught up with Ginger and we had to escape quickly so she wouldn't overheat. End result is an abbreviated ride but a ride nonetheless.
Today I should have ridden to work but was completely exhausted when I woke up so I drove. I should go for a ride this evening but I am not. I am going to get my stuff together for the Bearscat and try to find a place to sleep Saturday night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

wet mtb ride

I forgot what it is like to ride wet rocks and roots. It took me a few minutes to remember but after I smacked my ankle on a rock everything came back together. A good balance and agility test.

Left the house shortly after Ginger and rode up to the Reservoir and did a lap. Caught up with her about two thirds through the lap and then we rode the remainder together.

Ridgeline was misty damp. Kind of neat.

Impromptu ride that was fun. Strava link as the embed feature is broken right now.

Monday, May 21, 2012

concrete, amherst and 9spd?

Nothing like finishing a stressful week with a busy weekend.

Saturday was spent starting another house project instead of riding western CT with Charlie and company. Eight months have passed since we finished the kitchen and felt it was time to work on the next project. That project being complete re-landscaping of the front yard. The forsythia lining the insanely busy street I live on had to go. The snow we had in 2011 did some major damage to it. I also don't like them as they grow fast (aka: requires lots of trimming) and are only in bloom for a week or so a year.
Making the best of our 'tools'

Next up is the concrete walkway going from the house to the street. That is coming up and not getting replace. We will replace the walkway going from the fromt of the house to the driveway with a proper paver stone walkway.
The first piece really sucked but once that was out of the way I didn't need to use the jackhammer as the pry bar and 10lb sledge (should have had a 20lb'er) did well.
Six hours later we met our goals for the day and were off to enjoy the wonderful evening at a BBQ in eastern CT.

6:30am Sunday came too quickly as I slept on and off and was very achy from the concrete work.

Wolfing down an edge sandwich for breakfast and getting my bike stuff together. Next stop: Amherst Mass with Sean and the crew from Bethel Cycle. First time I rode here I broke my Vicious Cycles frame. No rest for the wicked in this place. My type of New England riding.

I opted to leave my singlespeed at home and actually really enjoyed riding Amherst with a rear derailleur on my bike. Shocking but I think it was just what the doctor ordered.
It was to be a hot sunny day so I focused more on staying hydrated and eating proper whilst riding than worrying how hard or easy I was riding. If I am to finish the Bearscat50 I need to eat and drink properly in the early June heat.

Sunday's ride was a success as I felt a relatively consistent level of energy throughout our four hour ride. We also had a lot of fun riding up things we've never been able to ride with a 52inch gear on our singlespeeds.
Afterwards it was some greasy fish & chips and good beer at the North Hampton Brewery. (that was the 2nd beer)

I've made some changes to the Cannondale. Added an off-the-shelf Stan's ZTR Arch EX rear wheel, Continental X-King 29x2.4 tires, XTR trail pedals and a Niner crabon handlebar. Front wheel was my Lefty/Stan's Flow wheel. Its been set up at a 1x9 for a while now. 36T chainring mated with a 11-34 9spd cassette. XTR shifter and XT derailleur with full length cable housing (heavy but it shifts so crisp every time).
I also had Mendon Cycle Smith rebuild my Lefty as its seen three seasons of use and no maintenance. I never could seem to get the fork dialed in correctly. It always felt like the rebound was too fast. I let some air out of the fork for Amherst (100psi currently) and turned the rebound pretty much to full 'slow' mode. Now I like the fork. It is now plush and lively as opposed to a pogo-stick.

The X-Kings rock. I think these are my Bearscat tires as opposed to the Bronsons I ran last year. They were unstoppable on the rocks and dry pine needlely terrain. The sidewalls seem very durable and relatively stiff yet you get the traction you need at the tread. I never heard rim which is a first as I've often gone by the mantra of if you hear rim once on a ride you have the proper air pressure. Anything lower than the pressure I ran would have made the cornering characteristics damn right scary. I had the front aired to about 20psi and the rear somewhere between 18 and 20psi.

The XTR trail pedals.. Meh.

I kept smacking the fronts of the pedals into rocks (see pic above). Think I am going to cut those tabs off the pedals and make them more like the XTR race.

Hopefully its not raining on Wednesday for our weekly ride. I envision more rides and more concrete work this coming Memorial Day weekend. It will be strange not heading to PA for the Transylvania Epic like the previous two years but I am cool with mixing things up this year and doing something different.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

sixty seven point one CX

Been raining for a few days so we opted to ride on the road for this week's Wednesday night ride. Work in a pain in my ass right now so I guess one could surmise I opted to make this week's ride harder than usual.

I brought my new singlespeed road bike, errr.. cyclocross bike.
I bought the frame almost a year and a half ago. It sat in the box for close to eleven months and then I finally ordered parts for it and started assembling it. The wheels were the last piece of the puzzle and I just received them the other week.

Probably the longest bike build I've ever done. Not sure why I dragged it out but I did. Now I can smile as this bike rides a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

What is this?

2010/2011 limited edition full crabon Raleigh singlespeed cyclocross frame made for the SSCXWC '10 that took place in Seattle. I bought a 58cm frame.
My first ride on it was Martha's Vineyard but with my Ksyrium road wheels and not the fancy Bike29 King/Alpha340 wheels pictured herein.

Tonight was the first ride with the new wheels. Lots of climbing and my 67.1 inch gear was heavy at times. Nevertheless, a great ride on the road and this bike fits me so well. I think its the short stem I put on it relative to my road bike.
matching paint Enve carbon cyclocross fjork and Avid Shorty Ultimate cyclocross brakes.

Rest of the specs are as follows:
SRAM 500 brake levers
80mm 0deg rise Thomson X4 stem
Pro Vibe 7s 44mm (c/c) aluminum bar
Cinelli gel cork bar tape
Pro PLT aluminum seatpost
WTB Silverado saddle
SRAM Force 175mm crankset with 42T Spot Brand chainring (for now)
975era XTR pedals
BackCountry Research Awesome 'race' Strap
Some big honking 700x35 heavy wire bead michelin tires for road usage

NoTubes Alpha 340 rims with custom Chris King cyclocross hubs. Custom in that the King made them one-of for me (hence why we had to wait up to five months after the order was placed). What makes them so custom?
Bolt On Rear Hub in a Cyclocross hub shell with standard cassette body freehub.

The long term plan is to convert this over to a belt drive (drop-out is slotted, look above). I'm figuring out gear ratios via a chain to ultimately determine which belt to get.

A big thank you to George from Bike29 for building me this wheelset and the trials and tribulations we went through for it.

I really like riding this bike.

Monday, May 14, 2012

strength in numbers

Friday after work I had to run out to eastern CT to pick up a new household tool. Then back to Hartford in time for the viewing of the latest freeride film "Strength in Numbers". A local bike shop, Cutting Edge, hosted the movie viewing. A spur of the moment thing and despite getting home late without dinner and having to wake up early for a long bike ride the movie was awesome. Glad we went.

Check out the trailer here:
I had trouble sleeping Friday night. Not sure why. Somewhere through our bike ride Saturday it would later become an issue.

So, taking a page out of T-hom's book, I slept 5-6hrs Friday night and was up at 6am to get ready for my bike ride with Charlie, James, Neal and Aaron.

On the bike at 7:30am to meet them up the street from me. The plan was to ride north into Pennwood State Forest and follow the Metacomet trail to the Massachusetts border. Then ride west to a little coffee place (that was really good) and then head south. I was expecting to be on the bike for the majority of the day.
Photo: charlie
The temperature was climbing into the lower 80s and I was not paying attention to eating or drinking. First hot day riding this year and that typically equates to me having trouble eating and drinking. I do not quite understand my issue with this. Perhaps I am used to not drinking a lot in the colder temps that the day it gets warm I forget? I don't know. All I do know is that 4hours into the ride I didn't finish the 3 bottles I was carrying and the majority of the ride I was working quite a bit. I also only ate a Clif Bar, one Gel and one Honey Stinger Waffle.
As a result, I was fading by the time we got up to Mass. To combat this I had a Coke and a veggie wrap at our stop. I figured this would help me and it eventually did but not as much as I wanted.

The paved rail trail south to Granby CT was a nice ease back into the ride home. It wasn't until the climb up to the Metacomet Ridge from Tariffville that I started fading very quickly. I couldn't quite recover from the climb so every little up or technical section from there on in destroyed me. I still managed to ride just about all of it but my pace was slower than a) I would have liked and b) everyone in the group.

My saving grace was time. As a group, we were getting itchy to get back as we were out for more than half the day. This meant the quicker more direct (and easier) route back home. Time also allowed my stomach to digest the coke and veggie wrap so I didn't have a knot anymore. This allowed me to be more comfortable pedaling.

In the end I made it home and had fun. Those two aspects are what matters the most. The outcome of me not eating and drinking properly on the ride is that my body was toast upon concluding the ride. I was also feeling the effects on Sunday whilst doing landscaping work at Ginger's parent's house.
On the bright side, the awesome thing about Saturday's ride is that we did a ride that I've been wanting to do for a few years now. Ride the Metacomet up to Mass and back. The catch on Saturday was the ride back was abbreviated relative to what I've been wanting to do. To that I give a big thank you to Charlie for taking the initiative of piecing this together.

Someday we'll do what I want to do: Get a group of fun people together to ride from the West Hartford Reservoir north along the rocky and technical Metacomet up to Mass. Then turn around and ride the same trail back. All trail. All hard shit. I can have vehicles placed at parking lots along the way for food and water in the sections where water is inaccessible. We will do this sometime.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Martha's Vineyard

This past weekend Ginger and I headed over to Martha's Vineyard for a bike ride in support of Multiple Sclerosis awareness and time away to relax.

Thank you for your generous donations. With your support, both Ginger and I raised more than our goal for this event. Thank You!

We parked in Falmouth MA and rode our bikes a few miles down the bike path to the ferry.
We met up with Ginger's friends at the ferry and then took it across the sound and onto the island at Vineyard Haven.
From there we rode a few miles over to our hotel in Oak Bluffs.
Once we got settled we headed over to Sharkies Cantina for dinner and to pick up our registration packet for the MS ride the next day. At Sharkies I stumbled upon this.
Why that is from the movie Jaws. It was filmed on Martha's Vineyard with scenes filmed in Oak Bluffs where we were staying. Pretty sweet.
Back when movies were made without computers...

We somehow made our way the five miles back to the hotel in the dark and retired for the evening. Saturday was the MS bike ride. We were riding the 30mile route which took us around the eastern side of the island.
The sky was cloudy and the temperatures were in the low 50s. Pretty chilly but we made the best of it.
Every year Ginger's group of friends have a theme for their 'team' and this year our team's theme was dubbed the "Green Cycle Skirts".
Stopped at the light house on Oak Bluffs for a few photos.
The ride was fun. The island is very quiet right now as it is the offseason. Lots of construction going on (predominately house rebuilds) which was cool to see as it gave me architecture ideas for my house and the next house. The quietness of the island was grand as it allowed us to relax and rest.
Saw this sweet Merlin track bike in Oak Bluffs. I haven't seen one of these in a very long time. Wish I had one. I still miss my old XLM 26" hardtail I had. That bike was a work of art and one of the last made in MA. I sold it in 2004 to make room for a Cannondale Scapel. Might not have been the best of decisions.

There was also this really sweet skatepark near the high school. Wish I had one of these when I was growing up.
Seeing as this was my first time at Martha's Vineyard I was intrigued. I could not believe how many bike paths stretched throughout the eastern side of the island and how bicycle friendly the area was. It was awesome to not have a car and not need one. The downside is I can only imagine how busy this place gets in the summer so the roads may not be as friendly then as they were now. No matter, I do not see myself going there during peak tourist season anyway.

Sunday morning we were greeted with sunny skies and much warmer temperatures. This was awesome. Wish we also had it on Saturday but you play the cards dealt.
View from our hotel looking out to the ocean.
After breakfast we went for a nice walk to enjoy the sights and sunny morning. Sometime later we made our way back to Vineyard Haven to catch the noon ferry back to MA.
Back in Falmouth MA we rode back to our car and headed back home for the weekend.
Nothing like a nice relaxing weekend riding bikes. Need to do more of these....

Monday, May 07, 2012

Singlespeed-A-Palooza video

We had a great time riding bikes on Martha's Vineyard this past weekend but I'll get to that tomorrow.

As mentioned in my last post, the fully edited SingleSpeed-A-Palooza video has made its way into my inbox. The folks at Darkhorse Cycles had an outfit from NJ come up to the race and put together this video. Came out great if you ask me.
I recommend watching it in full size.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

singlespeed-a-palooza 2012

With 100miles in my legs I was sound asleep minutes after climbing into my hammock around 10:30 Saturday night. Around 4am I woke up and was quite cold. Supposedly the temperature dropped just below freezing or something like that. Wrapped a towel around my feet and threw my Bike29 jacket over my knees and went back to sleep. Sleep, awake, sleep... that was the cycle until around 7am. My bladder was then telling me I had to get up.
But it is cold out
I got up anyway and saw Mike Stanley from Niner heading over to his truck. He invited me in so that I could warm up. Naturally I obliged. Some time passed and I warmed up a bit and then got dressed for the race.
Kick ass roadster Mike Rave from Darkhorse Cycles is building. I approve of this work.

George@Bike29 and the rest of the Vermont crew arrived just before 8am with a coffee for Mr. Stanley and I as well as my egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. I then hopped on my bike and rode over to the race start

First thought was:
Mmmmm. Breakfast
After that thought passed I quickly realized my legs felt pretty good considering the previous day's ride.
From here I filled my waterbottles up at the water jugs because the garden hose at the shop was frozen and rode around saying hello to a bunch of people I knew. Ginger arrived shortly after 8am for she was going to ride Stewart and have fun. I carried all my stuff over to her car and started getting ready.

The plan was two waterbottles for the whole race with two at the start/finish as an emergency. Food would be Hammer Gels. I made sure I drank a complete bottle between 8am and the start at 9 and had two full bottles on the bike when we started.
The prologue took us out up Ridge Road like we started the Darkhorse40 last year and then turned left onto the tail end of the lap we were to ride. We had to do two laps for a total of around 28 miles. The laps took us in a counter-clockwise loop as if looking at the map. Opposite direction of previous events here. This was awesome as it made for a completely different ride yet it was the same trail network.

We started at a decent pace and I felt bad for everyone in the open pro field behind us as we were kicking up lots of dust on the gravel road. James set about trying to control the pace with Roger Foco attacking here and there on the climb up Ridge Rd. It was Josh Wilcox that took over as we turned off of Ridge Rd and set pace for James. Roger fell back a little bit and Cavanaugh, myself and a small handful of others caught up to Roger. We were the 'chase group' if you will as I believe we started pulling away from the peleton. I passed Cavanaugh and Roger and around the time we came through the start/finish Roger made a move and got around me.

Heading out onto the gravel road in the upper left of the map, Roger was up with Josh and James (and maybe one other) while Cavanaugh was with myself and one or two others. My 61.6" gear made for what felt like a slow cadence so I pulled out of the draft and bridged the gap up to the lead group. I caught up to them by the time we turned into the next singletrack and they started pulling away from me again.
What am I doing up here? Could I sustain this? 
I slowed a little and one guy passed me. Cavanaugh then passed both myself and the other guy ahead of me to which I followed his line and tried to stay on his wheel. I was breathing heavy and while I enjoyed this pace my legs were telling me I had to back off. I also felt as if I was riding the singletrack wildly. Wildly as in I was not in control of my pace and how I'd want to pick my own lines. I felt my 2.0 Nanos bouncing off of every rock and heard nothing but rim. The rigid fork was not helping either.

So, backed off pace and found something I could settle into. Cavanaugh and that other gentleman took off and I was comfortable with that as here I am in the top 10 after the effort put in the day prior to ride out to this race. Comfortable with my ride I just kept on pedaling at my pace which allowed for my breathing to come down which made me feel more comfortable riding. I picked better lines and was starting to really like this 61.6" gear as the momentum carried me over lots of stuff I may not have made with my previous gears used at Stewart (58" and 54.8"). My lower back was not liking the 61.6" gear as I was not keeping my back straight while pedaling out of the saddle. I was able to correct this later in the lap and the pain subsided.

'46 Ford (around 1/4 through the lap?
Photo: GTLuke
By this point I didn't really see anyone ahead of me on the trail and in most sections didn't hear or see anyone behind me. I kept on riding trying to maintain a steady pace and eventually realized where I was (coming up the orchard which would then mean I am almost on Ridge Rd). Onto Ridge Rd and I could see almost everyone stretched out.
Wow. We're all pretty close.
I felt strong going up Ridge Rd but paid for it once we were on the last section of singletrack for that last section had a lot more climbing than I thought and I could feel my thighs getting twitchy. Definitely rode it slower than on the prologue as I backed the pace off in an effort to not cramp on the first lap. A few people may have passed me or caught up to me.Coming through the start/finish I seemed to feel better and was done with one bottle and two gels.

Most of the slow technical riding with the punchy climbs was at the front of the lap and the beginning of this section for the 2nd lap I felt myself ride it slower than the first lap. I had to as my legs were pretty sore. This sucked because I loved the pace I had on the first lap but knew if I were to survive and try to maintain top 10 I needed to slow down and not cramp.

A few people passed me and I tried to hang onto their wheels but couldn't sustain that pace. Settled back into my pace which was slower than lap 1. I still rode the climbs I rode on the first lap and walked the steeper stuff I walked on the first lap so in my head I felt consistent.

Orchard again and I was stoked for I knew I was close and tried to give it more effort while trying to keep some in reserves for that last kick on the singletrack after Ridge Rd. Finished my last bottle and had another gel.

Ridge Rd I could see two guys closer to me and two to three guys further away.
Lets try to bridge up to the first guy.

When he passed me early on lap 2 he looked like he was struggling and might crack.
I cranked up the effort but couldn't quite catch him on Ridge Rd. Couldn't quite catch him on the singletrack after Ridge Rd either; until we came to that steep climb.... I buried myself even more on that steep climb and caught him at the top but he rolled over the top quicker than I and pulled away from me.
I let go of all my brakes and pointed it down the singletrack in an effort to catch him. This worked as I saw that gap closing down. In fact, Strava tells me I rode that last section just about as quick as I did on the prologue. It definitely didn't feel as easy on the last lap as on the prologue.

The last little descent to flat to short climb in the field I pedaled my ass off and caught him at the top. Unfortunately from there on in was a quick descent to the finish so I finished the race right behind him.

12th place in the open / pro field out of close to 70. 2hrs 6mins of a hard effort.

I am happy with that.

I recorded this year's race:

6 minutes faster than last year. Last year was a very muddy course with this year being very dry. I also rode 100miles out to the race this year.
I am happy with that.

Afterwards I drank another bottle of electrolytes and changed into street clothes. After a few beers,  Hawaiian Mike asked me to do an interview with this video group that was out documenting the race. I obliged and answered a few of their questions. Once the final product is released I'll share it with you.

Food and more beer was on store for the remainder of the early afternoon. My legs were tired but not as shot as I thought they would be. They definitely felt much more fatigued than when I did the Ronde ride out in Boston two weeks ago. The headwind on the way out to NY, the huge effort I put in at SSAP and the high winds predicted for the remainder of Sunday and Monday made me decide to cut my own personal stage race short and catch a ride home with Ginger after the race.

It was a difficult decision as my goal is to ride to the race, race and ride home but after some thinking and the mental blow the headwind riding out to NY gave me I felt I would enjoy my day off from work on Monday better if I slept in, rested and did odds-and-ends around the house rather than suffer pedaling my bike home in high winds with riding through the hilly Western CT.

The feedback I've received about my plans this year has been nothing but positive. I am so thrilled that this notion is touching so many people and hope it inspires you to do what drives you. Thank you for your support and I look forward to the next time our paths cross!

Thanks again to Mike & George at Darkhorse Cycles for their hospitality and another fun race. Thanks to George @ Bike29 for the continued support!