Wednesday, June 27, 2012

another bike into the abyss

Two mountain bike rides during last week. Both on my Cannondale which is set up at a 1x9. The bike was making some creaking sounds on the second ride but I chalked it up to the EBB making noise.
I've been having a lot of fun riding this bike lately and planned to bring it up to Vermont this past weekend. Upon gathering my things for my Vermont trip I noticed something that did not fit in with the rest...
Upon closer look
it appears that my frame has a big honking crack in my top tube where it meets the seat tube and seat post region.



This bike gets hung up on the wall now. It is out of warranty. I am not the original owner. I also repainted it which supposedly voids the warranty. I can either have it weld repaired or find a new frame. The problem with weld repairing is I'd then have to get it heat treated.

I am looking into finding another Cannondale Caffeine or Flash 29er frame. I am also looking into weld repairing this frame.

Another option is to not even replace it but piece together something like a WFO, Bandit, Tracer29, Rumblefish or a Tallboy LT. Yeah... a long travel 29er. I kind am waiting out for when the industry delivers us a 36mm diameter stanchion 160mm travel 29er fjork. The 140mm is awesome but I think one of the aforementioned bikes will be sweet with a 160mm fjork.

Monday, June 25, 2012

escape to Vermont

This past weekend I ventured up to northern Vermont to ride bikes and hang out with great people. Dejay Birtch is out here visiting for a portion of the summer and we felt it was best to spend the weekend with George from Bike29.

Saturday George and I rebuilt my rear wheel which died at the Bearscat50. (If there's anyone who knows wheels its him.) I also cleaned and re-greased my DT240 hub. Now I have a perfectly round and straight wheel. Thanks George!

Dejay joined us from his ride and we went out to ride the Perry Hill trails in Waterbury. I haven't ridden these trails before so I was stoked to see what all the locals can't stop talking about.
Like most trails up in Vermont... You do a lot of climbing and are rewarded with some sweet descending. We rode up to Permission and took Permission all the way to the top. This is one of the newest trails the Stowe Mountain Bike Club and other locals helped create. Definitely a sweet trail to ride. Weather was perfect. Sunny and upper 70s / lower 80s with little humidity.
We then descended Joe's Trail down to near the bottom where we rode in from. Dejay and George were having a blast on their RIP9 & WFO9 while I was doing everything I could to hold on with my hardtail (was on my singlespeed). This is definitely a trail you want a full suspension bike.
This photo does not do how steep the rock is, justice...
Near the end we played a game of no pedaling. Whomever gets the furthest without pedaling wins.

George then had to take off so Dejay and I climbed back up Permission and then descended RastaMan.
RastaMan was such a sweet descent until we had to climb back out. That climb out of RastaMan was pretty steep but we buried our heads and kept on turning those pedals. Over to the Reservoir for some food and drinks and then back to George's for more food and relaxing. Such a great day.

Sunday was a Root66 race down in Grafton VT. We hemmed and hawed about racing versus riding for fun. T-Hom was covering the Hilly Billy Roubaix dirt road race in WV on Saturday and driving through the night to cover the Grafton Root66 race on Sunday.  We wanted to see T-Hom but in the end we opted not to race and just go ride our bikes near Waterbury and have a grand old time.

Looks like the Grafton Race went well for quite a few people. We had our fun near Salisbury VT.
George let me borrow his Jet9 RDO which recently received a 120mm Fox 32 TALAS fjork. 120mm of front suspension and 100mm of rear with a 2x10 drivetrain. What was I to do with this since I normally ride a singlespeed?
I had fun.

Kept it in the 39T chainring and sometimes ventured up to the 36T pie-plate of a cassette. The TALAS feature in the fork is sweet. Dial the travel down to 95mm and lock the ProPedal on the rear shock and this thing climbed super effortless. Turn off the ProPedal and let the fork travel go at 120mm and the bike was super plush and moved. Haven't had a day this fun riding trails in a while.
If you were there with us all you heard were a lot of hooting and hollering from all four of us. We had that much fun.

This is what it is all about.

Riding bikes on some sweet terrain with friends. Definitely worth more than racing (sorry T-Hom and company). This will be a re-occurring theme for me continuing on throughout the remainder of this year.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

ride to Montauk LI

Last Saturday I joined my friend Jason and we rode across Long Island on a big organized ride. Dubbed the Ride to Montauk, it consisted of upwards of 3,000 bicyclists of all walks of life with four routes (30miles, 75miles, 108miles, 152miles).
Our original plan was to do the 152mile route but the week leading up to the ride both Jason and I put in too many hours in the office (12+hrs/day) so we were pretty burned out. Alas, the 108mile route would suffice for the day.
Starting in Babylon NY we hopped on our bikes and headed east. Destination was the tip of Long Island.... The Montauk lighthouse.
We were greeted with a stiff headwind for most of the ride and no matter what we did [in terms of drafting] it seemed like we couldn't get away from the headwind.
My iPhone battery died partway through the ride so I did not get a chance to record the entire ride. We basically kept jumping on and off Montauk Rd as we headed east to the Montauk Lighthouse. 108miles total for the day.
We went over that bridge.
from ontop of the bridge

Then we made our way into the Hamptons...
and were passed by a Bentley and a few Ferraris

Aid stations were every 25 miles. We stopped at 75miles for a bit to relax and rest. That was at Watermill, just east of South Hampton.
Getting closer:

The last 10 or so miles seemed to put a hurting in on many people. We saw quite a few people sitting on the side of the road.

It was a great day to be out on the bike. Temperatures were in the lower 80s with humidity down. The headwind, stiff at times, was bearable but it certainly would be more fun without. The ride was organized extremely well. I was blown away by how the promoter was able to manage so many riders in such a highly populated area of the country.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

the anatomy of a flat tire

The only thing I have done in regards to cleaning my bike up from the Bearscat50 is fixing my rear flat tire.
On the first lap of the Bearscat50 I hit a rock so hard that my tire compressed and my rim dented pretty good (above).

Further investigation revealed two holes in my tire.
In the tread and on the bead.
These are tiny holes that should have sealed with Stan's sealant but it turns out I had very little Stan's sealant in the tire. I had enough to re-seal the tire for a few miles but it wasn't permanent.

Guess the two cups I had in there when I mounted the tires a few weeks ago went to barely coating the (brand new) tire.
My rim on the other hand took a beating. I've had rims (Crest 29) laced up to my DT240 hubs for two seasons now and thousands of miles. My rear rim has multiple dents in it which I've cold worked back with a pair of vice grips. They've all sealed up again so this dent shouldn't be that much different.
Now the out of roundness in my rims is the real problem as to why these should be replaced. I also can't quite keep the spoke tension proper as the spokes are pretty beat too. I was hoping to wait until this winter to have them rebuilt but looks like that might have to happen this summer.

The good news is I patched my relatively new Continental X-King 29x2.4 tires and they hold air so we're good to go.
Looking forward to more miles on these tires.

In the meantime I'll find my Flow/Hope rear wheel and use that for now. Speaking of Flow rims. NoTubes just redesigned the Flows like they did with the Arches and the new wheels look sweet.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Bearscat50 race - the good and the bad

If there was ever an event I was ‘ready’ for this one was it. Physically I’ve been feeling really good lately. Mentally I could not stop thinking about this event after last year's performance.

As a result I opted not to ride my bike to the Bearscat50 because I wanted to do well. That decision was solidified after it being suggested to me multiple times from a few individuals. When it came down to the wire I wouldn’t have ridden to the race anyway as there were torrential rains Friday afternoon and evening. Something about 130-150 miles in the rain does not appease me at this point in my life.

Since I am not riding to the race, why not ride a very technical race course the day before?

25miles of rocks is a good 'warm up'

That is exactly what I did. I rode one lap of the race course on Saturday to refresh memory on the magnitude of the rocks and the details of the course. I also wanted to see how this course changes when things are wet (it was very dry last year).

Two and a half hours later I finished a lap. I maintained a pace I felt I could sustain for 50miles which was not that far off from last year’s race when things were dry. I felt really good after one lap so this further solidified everything for me.

Spent the evening with my folks and got a good night’s sleep. My plan was to start the race at a comfortable pace and see what happens. Probably go harder on the 2nd lap when people are fading.

Come race day, I didn't really stick to my plan.

Two guys went after the holeshot out of the field and into the woods. My initial reaction was ‘let them go’ but I also wasn’t feeling the pace they were riding at so I stood up and passed them and settled into the pace I was comfortable with. I didn’t even attempt to look back and just assumed James would be right on my wheel.

Further and further into the woods I went and I realized I didn’t hear anyone behind me.

A gap.

Keep going. You feel good. Get through the 45+ traffic and figure things out then.

That is what I did. I worked really hard trying to get around people in the tight rocky singletrack all while knowing I shouldn’t be working that hard for a race of this length with this type of terrain. Most of the traffic I passed was on the jeep road just before the switchbacks at 5miles in. Everyone was going around the outskirts of the puddles so I went right through the middle so as to not slow down and wait for my turn around the puddle. It was not pleasant having wet socks and shoes 15minutes into a 5+hour race.

From here on out it got a little bit easier to pass people but a few individuals were stubborn no matter how much I told them I was not in their class. I became increasingly frustrated because I knew I could ride all of the trails but had to dismount at the most inopportune times and run around everyone. I prefer riding to running and still, after all these years, have not accepted running as a must at times in races with tight singletrack.

As the lap went on I found myself ahead of quite a few people and stuck somewhere off the back of the really fast guys in the open class. No signs of anyone behind me so I assumed the gap got quite large to the next singlespeeder (also assumed to be James).

Eating and drinking, spinning my 34x20 through the rocks, feeling good.

Until I barreled into a rock garden way off camber and had to dismount and run. I then heard a hissing sound coming from my rear wheel and my whole race flashed by in front of me.

I can’t flat on a course like this. I can’t ride rocks like this with tubes. Not with how wet things are since my tubed tire would be aired up to 40psi instead of my comfy 19psi when tubeless.

This can’t be happening.

I shook my bike around hoping Stans would seal up the bead on my tire but no dice so I started the process of putting a tube in. I first popped the bead on the side where the hole was and didn’t see anything at fault in the tire so I inflated the tire with a CO2 and reset the bead. This held air so I took off down the trail.

I then passed the three or four people who passed me while I was changing my flat and kept on going catching up to more people. Two plus hours in now and around 20miles give or take. I was on track to a sub 2.5hr lap time.

The ride felt good but a few turns felt squishy. I looked down and realized my tire was loosing air. I kept on riding until I couldn’t and then put a tube in. Just as soon as I was getting the tube into the tire James and another singlespeeder came by. They stopped to see if I needed anything but I waved them off thinking I was good.

Seconds later I stick my CO2 on to inflate the tire and nothing. It was empty.


Now my race is over.

I had five miles to go to the start/finish. I had more tubes, a pump and more CO2 at the start/finish so I took off running. Running in a mountain bike race sucks. I am using more energy running than I would if I was pedaling.

Through the next mile or two of running two people passed me and didn’t say a word. Two more guys from MTBNJ came by and threw me a pump.  I was extremely thankful as I now had a shot to at least hold onto 3rd place.

Doing my best to pump the tire up but the pump was taking forever. I eventually got enough air in there to ride it but ride very carefully. I was asking for trouble but knew I was a shade over a mile to the road and then had a mile on the road to the start/finish so I took a chance.

At the start/finish I swapped my bottles, threw on a spare Awesome Strap I had set-up with a tube and CO2 and then grabbed my hand pump out of my bag to inflate my rear tire.  Someone offered me a floor pump and we got my tire up to 35psi and I was off. I felt this resurgence in my mental game and focused on chasing James down.

A few miles into lap two I caught up to the MTBNJ guys who loaned me the pump and returned it to them with a huge thank you and took off.

Now the trails are fairly empty and I set into my rhythm I had on my pre-race ride and focused on riding smooth. My pace was still where it was on the first lap so I figured I had a shot of reeling James back in.

I picked the pace up where I could and every turn I hoped I’d see James. Nothing. Just one or two guys in the open men class.

For the majority of the second lap I rode by myself and really enjoyed that. A course like this I preferred to be alone. I could pick my own lines through things and not worry about someone else dictating how hard I would ride.

About halfway through the second lap I came around a corner and heard another hissing sound coming from the back wheel. I pinch flatted.

Pinch flat at 35psi? The singletrack early in the lap contains more rocks and I was flying through there. How could I flat on a section with hardly anything in the trail?


I just lost my chance at catching back up to James and potentially winning this thing but I still had a shot at staying on the podium. I quickly set about to sticking another tube in my rear wheel. As soon as the tube was in and I was cracking my CO2 to inflate the tire it started raining.



The trails were just starting to dry out and not be so slippery.

Yes, Rain, and lots of it. In a matter of seconds the trails were drenched and water was running down them like a river. I tied my busted tube to my handlebars and got moving again. The rain was cold and it started hailing (which hurt). Hail the size of small marbles.

Eyes squinted I bombed the fireroad descent into the aid station and pulled over asking for a floor pump. My CO2 didn’t inflate the tire as much as I would have liked.  I wanted a rock solid tire as I was out of tubes and did not want to DNF and lose a podium spot.

50psi and I was off.

The rain stopped a few minutes later but the trails were soaked. Soaked more than they were on Saturday. Not fun with a basketball for a rear wheel.

With a focus on just finishing, I ran sections I probably would have ridden because I felt all my luck was used up and I didn’t want a rock to give me another flat and take me out of the race.

Coming onto the road at the end of the lap I had one mile left and was not looking forward to my spinny 34x20 but dug deep for a high cadence to get to the finish. My legs felt great but my forearms were starting to cramp.

I finished and was so glad to be done.

After pedaling around for a few minutes I ran into James. He won the singlespeed field. I was happy for him. It wasn’t my day I was stoked to finish after what I went through.

Turns out there were two people behind James.

50miles of east coast rocky singletrack (which I love). 
Three flat tires
Running upwards of two miles with a flat tire.
Torrential flash downpour with hail.
Competing against a friend and a top notch bike racer.
4th place finish in 5hrs 28minutes.

I'll take that over a win!
Photo: Jocelyn

Singlespeed Results
I was 18minutes behind James but only 6minutes behind 2nd and 3rd.

Open Men Results

Official Results

Kind of hard to see but there's a BlackBear to the left of the access road. I snapped this as I was leaving the race.

Jeff and the crew at Black Bear Cycling did an outstanding job with the race. The weather was difficult but they managed to pull through with clear course markings and a kick ass pulled pork, grilled chicken, potatoe salad, beans, etc.. BBQ afterwards. There was even a raffle for some great swag afterwards which each racer automatically was entered in for. It is great to see such well-run events put on by people that care so much about the sport of cycling. Thanks again guys!

More on the flat to come. The engineer in me found some interesting stuff.

Monday, June 04, 2012

'12 Bearscat50 rumblings

Photo: Jocelyn

James Harmon took the singlespeed win. (Congrats James!) I did everything I could in an attempt to climb back onto the podium after three flat tires but 4th place had my name on it. My legs still had something left but my flat tires cost me too much time.

There are good days and there are so-so days. This is one of those days where mechanical issues caught up to me. All in all I have to say it was a great day though because we all shared similar experiences and were riding well for the terrain and conditions. Another day on the bicycle...

Some stats:
~ Pulled a big gap on the field on lap one while fighting hard (harder than I should have) to get around the 45+ field that was choking the rocky singletrack.
~ 3/4 of the way through the first lap I dented my rear rim on a rock so bad that my tire bead lost its seal.
~ A few miles further into the first lap my tire finally gave way but I had no more CO2 for my tube.
~ Ran a mile or two on the first lap until a kind racer let me borrow their pump.
~ Rode strong on the 2nd lap and thought I could pull James back but....
~ Another flat tire with about 10 miles to go (pinched the tube).
~ hail and torrential rains greeted my flat tire.
~ five bottles consumed, three of which were eletrolytes and two of which were perpetuem. Also used a flask of gel.

My pre-ride of the course on Saturday. I rode one lap we had to do two laps in the race.

More to come....

Friday, June 01, 2012

transylvania epic '12 - tussey ridge

Today was the 2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic 'Tussey Ridge Trail' stage. This stage is jamb packed with trails from the Stupid50, Wilderness 101 and the famous Tussey Ridge.

Tussey Ridge is one of my favorite trails to ride. Everyone that heads up onto that ridge absolutely loves it. First time I rode it was SSWC05 and I was way in over my head riding those rocks. Sometime after 2005 there was a fire up there and now it is mostly low lying vegetation. That means as you are navigating a rocky singletrack ridgeline whilst able to see the valley on either side. A pure spine so to speak.

A local PA photographer, Vince Camiolo, snapped this photo of me up on the ridge last year.

This year, Vince was set-up on the ridge with a zip-line and all his camera equipment. He has some really neat camera set-ups this year. I can't wait to see the footage.

Last night Ginger and I went to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra to see Carmina Burana live. This is one of those pieces that you have to see in person. It'll give you goosebumps for the entire 65minute piece.
This is now stuck in my head for this weekend's Bearscat50. Awesome!

The plan this weekend is to head down to NJ and ride the Bearscat50 course tomorrow morning. Then head a little further south and spend some time with my parents and get a good night's sleep. 50miles of awesome technical singletrack on Sunday. Looking forward to it.