Monday, May 28, 2007

road trip

Sunday afternoon, the DamFam hopped in the car and headed to more humid pastures. Asheville N.C. to be exact.

View from the backseat.

Twenty three hours later (we had to make several extended toddler layovers) we rolled into picturesque Asheville ready for a serious shower and a nap. Unfortunately, there was no time for a nap before dinner but we were able to grab a quick shower before heading out. Of course, if we had known about the major dirty hippie population of the town we could have skipped the shower, got the nap instead and noone would have been the wiser. Our stench would have fit right in.

We ended up having kick ass pizza and beer at Mellow Mushroom (thanks for the tip Leslie!). We followed that up with a stroll around town marvelling at the amount of dreds in town and then headed back to the lovely Bates Motel, I mean, Days Inn to call it a night. Overnight, Marcy booted all of her Mellow Mushroom. She says she's sick, I think she's just making sure she can fit in her bathing suit! Women.

Today we check into our cabin where we'll be for the rest of the week and from there, who knows, maybe a ride, maybe a hike, maybe we'll have too many beers and pass out. The options are limitless when you have no plans.

Friday, May 25, 2007

wiggling south

I told you this past weekend's race course was a squiggly one. Well, I finally downloaded the gps info so here it is in all of its glory. I wasn't lying.

This weekend, the fam is heading out for a weeks vaca to the great smokey mountains of western North Carolina. If I had known it would be 90 degrees here in Maine when we scheduled the trip, we probably could have saved ourselves some money and stayed put but I'm sure its going to be a great time regardless of the temps. We've rented a cool cabin in the mountains which will be a perfect launching pad for some biking, hiking, kayaking, as well as your typical touristy crap. With time to relax I might even have time enough to make an actual good post. Don't hold your breath though.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Get a grip

Yesterday after leaving a comment on Jason's blog about Ergon grips I received an e-mail from Mr. 24 offering up a set of grips to test out. I'm stoked! I've been seeing these grips around (mostly on the internet since few people seem to be using them in Maine) for the last few years and have wanted to give them a try. I don't have a real problem with the current lock-on grips on my Dos Niner but the grips on the El leave a lot to be desired comfort wise. I'm not one to need a cushy grip but those just don't seem to work with my hands.
Hopefully the P1's will work better for me. As an added bonus, it will be easier to convert the El back and forth from single to geared with the Ergons than it would be with conventional grips.
Hopefully, when their new pack becomes available I'll be able to check it out as well. Looks killer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big thanks

A big thanks goes out to Marcy and Brynna for supporting me during the race this weekend despite the nasty conditions. Brynn was a trooper and Marcy did everything necessary to keep her happy and still managing to help with hand-ups. Because of her mommy duties, Marcy wasn't even able to use her shiny, new, fancy, schmancy camera like she had hoped and had to look on in dismay as a friend took all of the pictures. Next time babe, I promise!

Thanks also go out to my parents who helped with hand-ups throughout the race which on a course like this with no real good hand up spots was quite a job.
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A few more race pics

Here are a few more race day pics. If you look closely, it looks like I'm smiling in all of these pictures but believe me, those aren't smiles. According to Marcy, I just like to ride with my mouth agape gasping for air during races. Judging by these photos, I'd say she's right.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

A clean bike is a happy bike

Follow daddy's lead.

Thats my girl

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Touch the mud

MMBA race number one is under our belts and it was a muddy one. A week prior to the race the trail conditions were primo. Unfortunately, though, the five days leading up to the race it rained pretty much non-stop leading to a serious sloppy sufferfest. Because of the conditions I decided to race the rigid el-mariachi to avoid potential mechanical issues due to suspension. I figured the less that could go wrong the better.

Hand up from pops. Check out the fatty Panaracer Rampage front tire. Packed with mud its really giant.

My game plan for the day was pretty similar to last year's race here; get a good start (hole shot perferably) so that I wouldn't get stuck behind slower riders in the super tight/twisty singletrack. I rolled up to the starting line third so I was able to get a primo starting spot and when the gun went off, I trecked across the field and entered the woods in second right behind my nemesis Matt Boobar. Matt, of course, is so fast that he never had a chance to slow me down and quickly gapped me. If Matt is having an average to good day there is no way for me to hang with him so I let him go and settled into my pace. Soon I was passed by teammate Andrew Frye and John Bernhardt (both pros) so no harm there. I had hoped to hold them off sooner but it was only a matter of time so I didn't waste any mental energy on it. A few minutes later (probably 1/2 way into the first of four laps) a new bikeman teammate and U23 pro passed me as well. Thankfully, within another 1/2 mile I rode back up to his wheel and passed him. That would be the last of the passing/getting passed for me on the day.

The rest of the day saw me trying to reel in John B. and holding off anyone from behind. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that catching John wasn't possible so my focus turned to protecting my position. Towards the end of the second lap a buddy of mine, Nick Corson, made a hard charge and quickly started to close the gap on me and put the fear of god in me. Nick forced me to dig a little deeper to maintain my spot. Thankfully, after a lengthy running section (because of the massive amounts of mud) I was able to gain another good gap and never saw Nick again.

The rest of lap three was pretty uneventful with me just trying to stay upright in all of the mud and trying not to brain myself on all of the muddy roots. 3/4 of the way through the lap I noticed some thumping around in my front end. I immediately thought my headset had loosened up but at the end of the lap I checked my front quick release and sure enough, it had loosened up significantly. Phew, glad I noticed it before the front wheel came out and I augered in.

On lap four, I decided to put in one last hard effort to try to reel in John B. He had a big gap by this point but I figured it was worth a shot and you never know, if he were bonking it just might work. I didn't succeed in bringing him back but I did manage to almost make my legs cramp.

The El Mariachi performed beautifully throughout the race. There were only a couple of occasions where I wished I had some suspension. The combination of 29'er wheels and the big, fat Panaracer Rampage 2.35 at 30psi in the front took enough of the edge off to make it work. I may be using the El more than I anticipated this year. Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Something interesting will be happening in the Nelson household tonight. I won't tell you exactly what but here is a hint:

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The new schnazzy race only wheels. Enjoy.

The red hope quick releases match the sram lockring and spider perfectly which matches the Stans gaudy stickers very well which matches the Salsa Dos Niner's pinstripping. Some of this was planned, some not.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

nice and tight

A common complaint about 29'er wheels is that tires fit too loosely. Loose enough that at times, it can be difficult to mount a tire because as you're mounting the second bead the tire falls off the other side. I've had this happen several times to me with my Salsa Delgado Disc rims. Freaking frustrating and would be even worse in a race. Also, because of this looseness, they are very sketchy to mount up tubeless with the Stans system (or any other for that matter) because without a good bead seat its only a matter of time before the tire rolls off the rim. Because of this I decided to go with Stan's new Arch 29'er rim for my race wheels this year. The Stans rims are sized slightly larger to actually work with the current tires. After getting the wheels ready this weekend I can attest to the tightness of the rim to tire fit with the new Stan's rim. I struggled for about an hour trying to mount the tires up to no avail. They recommend first mounting with tubes to properly seat the rim strip but I found it impossible to get the tire on with the tube in there (I was using a somewhat small 26'er tube though. I suspect if I had a 29'er tube that it would have worked fine). It was so difficult that I actually broke two tire levers. TWO! I even had blisters on my fingers by the time I gave up.

The next day I figured I'd tackle it again. This time I was smart enough to pull out the tubes and use a soapy rinse to lube up the tire beads. Having done that everything came together nicely and now I have successfully mounted and aired up tubeless 29'er wheels. Wednesday I'll be taking them out to pre-ride the course for this weekend's first race, the Maine Sport Mayhem. Its a tight, twisty, rooty mess so I'll find out quickly how well the tires will hold up tubeless.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pasty white

Saw on the news this morning that Mike T. is recovering from the hit and run I mentioned yesterday. Good to hear. You can see the interview HERE.

My Wednesday night group ride was thwarted by a chamber of commerce event I needed to go to last night so to at least get a little time in during the glorious weather I skipped out for an hour mountain bike spin during lunch. Its the first time I've put rubber to dirt in a couple of months at least and it really showed. Talk about horrible tech skills! I was having trouble with shit Brynna could probably ride over on her tricycle. I'm sure the skills will come back quickly enough but damn is it humbling. Tonight I'm going to hit some real trails down at Reid State Park. That place will surely test the early season abilities.

Yesterday's mountain bike ride wasn't the only first of the year. It also marked my first ride of the year sans arm warmers. Oncoming motorists had absolutely no trouble spotting me from a distance with the way the sun radiated from my pasty white arms. Looking at the picture below I understand why some people in the office are becoming concerned about my weight loss. With veins like those I'd make one hell of a smack addict.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Be careful

I figure you haven't seen a pic of me in about two days so here's one from yesterday's commute. Enjoy.

On yesterday's commute I also spied this little gem on a dead end road I was checking out for the first time. Its the mailbox of none other than mister Bikeman himself. I guess now I know where to go when its 2am Sunday morning and I need new brake housing.

In other news, Monday morning while watching the news as I was getting ready, the local news station (STORM TEAM 13! ALL EXCITING ALL THE TIME!) was running a story about a cyclist who was involved in a hit and run by a car on Sunday afternoon. Apparently the cyclist was badly hurt and sent to Maine Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition. News 13 was doing 5 minute updates on the rider's condition which consisted of a reporter standing outside of the hospital saying "the cyclist will be waking up in Maine Med this morning..." They said the same thing in the same dramatic tone each time as if they were telling us something new. Being a cyclist I was, in fact, interested in what was happening but it annoyed the hell out of me that they built it up each time and told us nothing. As it turns out (at least according to what I've heard) the cyclist had been released from the hospital the night before so the major drama was for nothing. Actually, I guess it was for ratings and secretely I'm sure they were hoping the cyclist would die so that they'd have a REALLY good story to run with. Anyway, thankfully, it appears the cyclist is basically fine, pretty banged up but ok. Yesterday, I found out that the injured cyclist was a teammate's ex-husband. A guy that I've seen at many races and on some group rides. Hopefully Mike T. makes a speedy recovery and they catch the douche bag who hit him and then ran away like a chicken shit pus.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Road to nowhere.

On my spin in this morning I took a route I only take when I have extra time to kill (since I got up at 4 this morning I did have some extra time before needing to get it). A little ways up the road I come upon this.

I figured the road must have been a little washed out from the storm a few weeks ago. No problem I thought, I'll just ride around it. Surely I can get by on my bike.

Uh, maybe not. I'd have to bust out the General Lee to get over this bad boy.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The little legs that couldn't

What a great weekend! The weather is finally turning around and we’re seeing lots of warm, sunny, dry days. Bout time. It’s been nice enough that I’ve actually started thinking about finally getting dirty and taking the mountain bike out; off road even. It really can’t come soon enough considering my first mountain bike race is in less than two weeks. I think my fitness is there but I’m sure my tech skills are going to suck. Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in 4-5 mountain bike rides into the next two weeks. Thankfully, the first race is on my old stomping grounds so I know the terrain very well. Well enough that I can practically ride it in my sleep but its tricky enough that if you’re not on your toes at all times it’ll throw your bitch ass to the ground before you’ve even had a chance to say “oh shit!”. A couple of good rides there should get me dialed in. I hope.

Ok, back to the weekend. Saturday started out as any typical father/homeowner’s would. Run to the dump, ordered up a load of mulch, started hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow loads of mulch and crushed stone to get the planting beds into shape etc, etc. At 1, after putting in some good sweat equity time, I decided to take B out for a spin in the trailer. I only expected to get a half hour to forty five minutes in before she rebelled but thankfully, after about ten minutes she drifted off to sleep which allowed me to get in a very nice 1:40. We stayed close to home so that if she woke in a funk we’d be able to get home quick but thankfully I never really needed to use the escape route. We hit every hill in the immediate vicinity and I got a pretty good workout taking it pretty easy on the flats and powering up over the hills.

Sunday morning I was greeted with near freezing temps for the trip down to Portland for the SMCC crit. At the beginning of the B race (which I was sitting in on only for warm up purposes) I immediately knew I was in trouble. Coming off of a rest week with no real intensity my legs were anything but snappy. Of course I hoped that after a good warm-up things would turn around. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Apparently a few people had coughed up enough cashola that there were premes on 11 of the 20 laps, including the very first lap so I was put on the rivet from the get go. After a couple of miserable attempts at the preme sprints I decided to sit in for a while and hope (once again) for the legs to come around.

Eventually, I started to get antsy so decided to launch an attack and see if I could get away from the pack. Fortunately for me, the next lap ended up being another f’ing preme lap so I was gobbled up quickly thus limiting my self torture.

After that failed attempt I dangled off the back of the lead pack until the final sprint. Got myself in good position and then watched as no less than 10 people sprinted past my uncooperative legs.

Good news is that with a really good, intense workout from the race yesterday today my legs felt spunky and rarin to go. Just in time to see some 70+ degree temps. Sweet.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Must ride!

Holy cow, the ambivalence about riding the other day has certainly passed. It is so freaking beautiful out today that I cannot wait til quitin time so that I can jump on the road stallion and make tracks home. A couple of days of rest certainly can do a number on motivation. To top it off, with how dry and windy its been here recently the trails must be rideable finally. Hopefully this weekend we'll find out.

For the love of all that is good and holy, get out and ride!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

fire xc

Decisions, decisions. Now that Panaracer has allowed IRD to license their Fire XC tire design I'm left wondering what to do for race tires this year. Stick with the tried and true Ignitors or try the XC's? I think the Ignitors are a smidge lighter but I'm sure the traction is better for the XC's. Maybe Jason can give me some insight on this one now that he has these in his quiver. Kinda wish they were actually Panaracer branded tires so it would be a no-brainer to run them since Panaracer is a sponsor for the team. Of course, I've got two brand new, never been used Ignitors already so I guess my decision is made anyway.

I'm smack dab in the middle of another rest week. Perfect timing yet again because I found myself feeling especially lethargic yesterday and not wanting to ride despite the beautiful weather. Gave it some thought and realized I was supposed to be on a low volume week. That Friel knows what he's talking about I guess.
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