Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You still there?

Hey there, I’m still alive.  Honest, I’ve just been so f’in busy with work recently that I’ve barely had time to breath.  I have no time today either so I’m going to steal some verbiage from Bikeman.com’s team manager -Big Gay Al- about an upcoming cx race to be held in Portland this December.  I may try to hit this one since I bagged the New Gloucester races this fall.  Since it will be its first year in existence I should try to get out and support it.  Anyway, here you go:

“Sorry everyone, another shameless plug for New England cyclocross.  I went over course design this morning with the promoter for the Casco Bay Cyclocross slated for December 2nd in Portland, ME.  There is great opportunity for course layout. 
What I laid out for a possible course provides for several off camber sections including a STEEP one, lots of chicanes, paved start, some paved recovery sections, some fast sweeping grass turns, some straight grass horsepower sections and one pretty sweet quick descent.  It also has up to three dismounts per lap.  Two are natural, the first being a greater than 50% chance that is has to be run in dry conditions, the other probably right at 50/50 if it is a run or a ride in dry conditions.  The third is a man made dismount in the form of a standard double barrier at fairly good speed.  There is opportunity to see much of the course from one location with spectacular views of Casco Bay.  The course doubles back upon itself in several sections allowing racers and spectators to see racers coming and going.  It also allows for one double pit at nearly the midpoint of the course.
This will be a USCF sanctioned event and promoter's intent is to have it at a level above a small, local race like Milford, NH or even Sucker Brook in MA.  His intent is to have it closer to a Verge NECCS event with the same categories and cash payout to the higher categories.  So spread the word.  Hopefully all the New England Bikeman.com crossers will be able to make it.”

Sounds like it has the potential to be a good race.  We’ll see if I actually do this one.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things have been pretty darn slow riding wise recently. We have been trying to get outside as much as possible though. With hunting season descending on us in a week we've been trying to cram in some last minute outdoorsy stuff. The pics here are of a hike we took last weekend during peak foliage time. Purty huh?

Yesterday, I got out for a mountain bike ride with a good group of guys I only get to ride with a couple times a year because we live and ride in totally different areas within Maine. A few times a year, though, we try to get together for a good group ride. Sunday, we headed down to Mt. Ageminicutinishamalamadingdong or Mt. A for short in southern Maine and spent 2.5 leaf covered, ass puckering hours cruising around the labyrinth of trails, bouncing off of every hidden rock and root. Good fun. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

i gotz nothin

Exciting days here in good-ole Maine. Recently my life has consisted of getting up at 4 or 5am, working for 9-10 hours, going home to help with dinner and get Brynna down to bed then doing another 1-3 hours of work. Sounds exciting huh? Thankfully, my presentation is tomorrow so things will settle down a bit after that. Hopefully.

I did manage to get out for a quick (20 min) cx workout in the rain with the pooch this morning. I didn’t really want to go out at 4:45 in the rain but my legs were begging me so I relented. It actually turned out to be a good, if short, workout. Something about cx in the rain just seems right.

To force a bit more riding, I had Marcy drop me off this morning so that I’ll have to ride home after work rain or shine. I’m feeling soggy already.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Season planning

Not much exciting stuff happening riding wise these days. I made a quick recovery from Sunday’s epic mtn bike ride. On Monday I did a nice easy walk with the dog in the morning followed up with a REALLY easy spin on the trainer while watching Scrubs Monday night. The legs felt tired but decent, it was my ass that needed some help. Sitting on a bike seat felt like I was sitting on a belt sander. Yowser. Sitting upright eased the pain enough that I was able to spin for the ½ hour. Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of my commuting for work so allowed me to shake the last of the cobwebs out and today I feel pretty darn spiffy and am planning a quick lunchtime spin with a co-worker. It rained buckets yesterday but I’m hopeful that the trails will be in good condition. We’ll find out.

I’ve also decided to bag the cx races this weekend in New Gloucester. I had hoped to hit one for shits-n-giggles but the weekend is filling up fast and that’s one thing that is easy to axe from the schedule. Sorry cx freaks. Also, since last weekends long ride, I’m beginning to realize (of course I’ve sort of known this for a while) that I really need to start focusing on longer races rather than short races. My body just isn’t wired for the quick, intense efforts required for a sport like cyclocross. It is, on the other hand, wired for long distance riding and racing. The longer a ride/race is, the better I typically do. With that in mind, I’m beginning to think about next years race schedule and I think I might try to incorporate some 6, 12 & 24 hour races and bag some of the shorter races I typically do. It’ll be nice to race at some new venues and will allow me to use my natural abilities to a greater extent. I’ll still do some shorter xc races but will be a bit more choosy about which I do. The two Camden races will definitely still be on the list as well as Bradbury (especially since they say it will be close to a 50 miler next year) but the all the others are more iffy.

Of course, with my potential change in focus for next year, I really need to start thinking about getting a real training plan going. I’ve gandered a bit at Training Peaks and it seems to have potential. I think that with just the tiniest bit of structure next summer, I’ll be able to improve my results without a significant increase in time involved. Of course I said the same thing this spring and I never did get structured but next year I will. Really.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Itty bitty bike

Here are some pics from the last race of me riding Al's teeny tiny bike.

good stuff huh? Posted by Picasa

mmmm photos 1

obligatory dos shot.

This log is always the highlight of the ride for me. The last two times I wobbled so much while in the center of the log that I was sure that I was going for a swim. This year though, I took the bike shoes off and crossed in socks and I got across without incident. Phew! This is Steve crossing. He, by the way coined the phrase "tinglesack".

Here's my exhausted face and silly hair after being jammed in a helmet for 9+ hours. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

mmmm photos 2

big ass conveyor

big ass nose

ouchie, broken seat post bolt. thankfully we were able to fix it.

my first pee at around hour 7. Posted by Picasa

mmmm photos 3

The group, pre-ride.

Rest stop no. 1. Fig Newman's good!


The one and only injury on the day. It doesn't look like much but I'd estimate the cut is about 1/4" deep and almost to the bone. Very nice job. Posted by Picasa


This past Sunday was the semi-annual Mike’s Metric Mountain Mash or MMMMmmmm for short. It’s a 100k mountain bike ride on some of mid-coast Maine’s finest trails which basically means 100k of very challenging double track, bits of singletrack and some short road connectors. Despite the fact that there is very little singletrack, it is always a good time. It’s a semi supported ride with food and water stashed in four strategic locations along the route and finish time is usually expected to be in the 8.5-9.5 hour range depending on many factors including allowing time to nurse ailing bikes and bodies. Because of the layout of the route, there are many possible bail-out points for anyone who finds themselves over their heads, cramping excessively etc. A typical year will have an attrition rate of between 25 & 50%. This year we had a total of five guys show for the punishment ahead.

We rolled out at an easy pace at 8:30 after some delish egg sammiches and some anti-smack talk (you know the type “I’ll probably be slow today, my culo is sore” etc.). It was a much more comfortable pace that what was set two years ago (the last time I did this ride) because the two young-uns weren’t there to push the pace early and then crumble mightily and slow the pace later. Despite the easy pace, I often found myself towards the back of the pack for the first couple of hours while waiting for my legs to wake up and began to wonder if my pre-ride anti smack was actually true. By about hour 4, after our second snack stop, I finally began to feel ok and started riding in the front and pushing the pace a bit. Not enough to crack the pack but enough to get us somewhat back on track time wise. This was about the time that I also started to feel the flow of the bike and was able to let it do the work for me on the very rocky, rooty, leave strewn downhills. I was finally having fun.

By about hour 6, I was feeling so good that I started whooping it up and jumping anything remotely resembling a ramp sometimes getting as much as 6” of mad air! I gotz the skillz yo! Unfortunately, this was also around the time that two of the riders in the group really started to feel the mileage so we were forced to slow the pace a bit and re-group more often.

As hour 8 crept up on us, I was still feeling like a million bucks and it was beginning to look like the two bonkers were going to pull through and finish strong so after our final rest stop I hit the road planning to put the hurt on for the final leg of the ride. 1 ½ hours later, the group arrived at our departure point tired but happy with a long, hard, fulfilling day in the saddle.

Our overall time at 9:45 was a bit slow because of a couple of nice mechanicals, the bazillion leaves covering every nasty root that lay in our paths and probably some overly long brakes but this isn’t really a test of speed so much as just a nice long ride with good guys. I suspect with 2-3 like minded riders and only one refuel stop, we could complete the same route in roughly 6-7 hours and as a matter of fact, I may just suggest that to Mike sometime and see what we can do.

mucho pics to follow.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Pretty slow around these parts recently. With the mtb race season coming to a close, I’ve been focusing on getting shit done that has been neglected all summer (mostly just catching up on work so far) and therefore haven’t been getting out on the bikes much. Of course, riding is tough when both you road bike and mountain bike are busted up and essentially unrideable. Thankfully I do have my ss and cx bikes to rely on for the time being though. Speaking of which, the Van Dessell is pretty much ready to roll. I’ve been tweaking it a bit each time I take it out and I think I have everything pretty much dialed (with the exception of adjusting the toe of the brakes) so I will do the final bar wrap soon. Being back on the Van D. has reminded me how much I enjoy riding this bike. There is something really nice about a single speed on the road. Hopefully it’ll also be nice on cx courses. Time will tell.

Now out with the spy photos.

 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I am hella sore today. I seriously feel like someone beat me with a 4’ length of 2x4 on Sunday. I guess that’s what a bunch of running in riding shoes over rocky terrain will do to you.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Floyd sings

check it.

Last one!

One more mountain bike race season is in the books.  Yesterday’s race was the 8th and final race in the Maine point series.  As I mentioned last week, I made it down to the venue on a couple of occasions over the course of the last couple of weeks to pre-ride and get the very technical course dialed in.  I felt that my preparation would ensure that I would at least be able to put up the best fight possible against some tough competition.  The Grillz Race is also the final race in the EFTA New England Championship Series so it means that the competition would be fierce with lots of the regions top pros showing up.  Last year (or was it the year before, I forget) Adam Craig showed up on a rigid single speed and schooled the whole field.

Fast forward to race day.  With my road bike on the stand with a broken front shifter, I decided to pre-ride the course one more time as my pre-race warm-up.  Over the last couple of seasons I’ve opted to warm up on the trainer with pretty good results but in this case I figured it would be helpful to get in that extra practice on some of the tougher sections of the course.  2/3 of the way through the lap, while chatting with a couple of other riders, I hear a horrific snap and grinding sound.  I knew it couldn’t be good and sure enough it wasn’t.  My derailleur hanger had snapped and the xo rear was wound up in my rear wheel.  Fuck!  Of course with coinage being what it has been recently, I had no spare hangers back at the car so I was more than a little bit s.o.l.  My only hope was that one of my teammates would have an extra with them back at the course start.  

The whole debacle happened right near (or so I though) the access road to the parking lot so I decided to jog out without the bike and come back by car and pick it up figuring that would be much easier than carrying a bike over uber rock terrain.  BIG FREAKIN MISTAKE!  After jogging the mile or so to the end of the course I frantically began searching for a replacement hanger.  Unfortunately none of my teammates had a hanger for me to use so my only hope was to rig the dos up as a single speed to try to at least get through the race.  So, with about ½ hour before race time, I hopped into the element an speed off to pick up the bike and here is where I realized my biggest mistake.  It turned out I needed to hike through some seriously rugged and swampy terrain to retrieve the bike.  Back to the element, I speed back to the lot with 10 minutes before race time and quickly grab my chain tool and sprint to where team manager Big Al was waiting to help me out.  I leave the bike in his trusty hands and sprint back to the car to pull off the knee warmers and long sleeve jersey, suck down a half bottle of HEED and sprint back to the tech tent.  

More bad news, with less than a minute to start time, Al informs me that the ss route wasn’t going to work because the chain kept trying to rid up the cogset and as a result skipped and popped constantly.  My season was over.

Or maybe not.  Just as the gun went off, Al offered up his bike if I wanted to try it.  Al is about 6” shorter than me and probably 40lbs lighter but I figured any bike was better than no bike so I grabbed his bike off the rack, ducked under the tape and proceeded to sprint to try to catch back up to the field who was already about 20 seconds ahead of me.  In my haste, I failed to adjust the bike in any way, including raising the seat and this would turn out to be the my final (and deciding) mistake.

I sprinted through the first lap, picking up quite a few spots.  The bike was way short for me and the seat was about 3” too low but since I was fresh it didn’t bother me too much.  I wasn’t as fast as I would be on my dos but I was at least fast enough to keep up with the mid-pack bunch.  Half way into the 3rd lap was when the ill fitting bike really started to take its toll.  I could no longer stand the whole time but when I sat it felt like my knees were going to hit my chin and I couldn’t apply much power from that position either.  I thought about stopping at the start/finish to adjust the seat but with a strict no outside help rule during a race, I couldn’t do it legally (all of my tools are in a seat bag on the dos so I was carrying nothing during the race) so I had to suffer on.  By the last lap, I basically had lost all will to live and was starting to cramp in the back and neck (what the frig is up with that?) so sort of coasted through, running most of the tech sections and finished up a disappointing 5th in my age group (no idea where overall).

My final time was about 2:10, for a race that usually only takes me 1:45-ish.  I still had plenty of gas left in the tank but without being able to ride the tech sections I had no way to access it.  This race will definitely go into the annals of learning races.  Some things I learned: 1.  Always bring an extra derailleur hanger with you.  2.  If you borrow a bike, adjust it before setting off.  3.  If you have a mechanical out on the trail, bring the damn bike out with you.