Friday, February 29, 2008

enough already

Not to sound like a broken record but I've been stinking busy lately. The good news is that while I haven't had much time to write, I have been able to work much, spend family time, squeeze some riding in, work on the design of our new house and finalize the deal to make the land ours. Stressful but good times.

Future house site, view from the living/dining to ledge outcropping.

View from living room to the south.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

from the mouths of babes

While watching Big George win Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California.

Brynna "Last night George held me and talked to me"

Mommy "I'd let George hold me and talk to me"
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Sunday spin

I promise that I'm working on my Winter XC race report. I really am, I've been running it through my head multiple times but the problem is that I have a ton to write about the race and little time to actually write. Hence the installments. I still need another day or so to pull it together so here's a quickie from my ride yesterday (much rather ride than write I guess).

Hit the local snowmobile trails yesterday for 2:45 of touch and go mushy riding. It's pretty amazing, before the Winter XC I would have never finished this ride on the trails because they were tough to ride but when you've spent 4:23 on the nightmare conditions that were the Winter XC, these conditions seemed trivial. In the end I was only able to pull off 20 miles in that time which included probably 1/2 hour of road at various points. Slow going indeed.

The only time I could take pics was when walking because the going was so sketchy. Take your hands off the bar and you'd end up face first in the snow.

Almost looks like I'm riding...

Powder on top of smooth as glass ice. If I had my studs this would have been no prob but I was running the Rampages for extra float. Despite being uber careful I still ended up doing snow angles a couple of times. To the delight of all the ice fisherman of course. Awkward!

This trail was actually a short bit of paradise since it was a slight downhill most of the way meaning I could let the bike find its way and I was just along for the ride.
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Friday, February 22, 2008


I just saw on the Ultimate XC site that they have a couple pics of me from the Winter XC ice crit. My fav is on the last page. I'm looking like I'm loving life right there. It was immediately after the race and I was trying to warm my frozen appendages.

check the gallery

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Challenge Day 2

After wrapping up Friday night's ice crit Steve and I took a gander at the back of the Element (where we were planning on camping for the evening) and what must have been the location of a suitcase bomb explosion considering the amount of bike clothes/parts strewn about the back. Surveying the carnage we decided it would probably be for the best to get a room at the lovely Newport Motel. In the end it was a good move because it gave me a chance to clean up the ice rash on my left hip and I was able to dry some damp base layers (still didn't sleep well though, pre-race jitters I guess).

Saturday morning arrived and I set about re-gearing the El Mariachi for the day's race. For some reason I couldn't get the chain length to work with the two gears I expected to need for the day. As I mentioned before, I had to cut the chain for Friday night's cobble so I had a decision to make. Go with the safe 20t cog and risk spinning out a lot or risk the 19t and hope for good, hard trail conditions to allow me to turn the harder gear. In the end I decided on the the 19t but had a short piece of chain with a SRAM power link at the ready to make a fairly quick gear change on the trail if necessary. (foreshadow, forshadow) (For you purist SS folks, there is no SS class for the race so I feel no guilt for setting myself up to change gears mid-race). It was pretty stupid of me to do this 2 hours before race time but what can I say? I'm stupid. Plus, Steve and I were throwing back a few brews with some riding buddies until lights out so we were too busy for such things. In the morning I also loaded up the Ergon BD1 pack with a water bladder with a Perpetum mix, all of the required safety gear (lighter, fire starter, duct tape, tools, tube etc etc) hand and foot warmers, some food and a lighter set of gloves (in case my heavy mittens proved to be too much) and a few other odds and ends. It was a sizeable amount of crap so I was really glad to have the BD1 since any other pack that I have used would have been miserable with all that junk.

When race time rolled around all 40-ish of us lined up at the start line and I was able to check out the competition (it was too dark Friday night to really scope people out) and was pleased to see that there were only a handful of Pugsley's in the field and one bike with a ski up front. For those of you who don't ride on snow, conditions can vary wildly from day to day, morning to afternoon, foot by foot and can quickly go from being so firm it's like riding on the road to so soft and mushy that it's unrideable. If conditions got nasty the Pugsley's (and ski bike) would have a huge advantage. Since I was on a 29'er with fairly wide 2.35 tires I sat sort of mid ground float wise. Definitely better than the 26" 2.1's I saw but definitely worse off than the fat Pugs'. On the plus side, if conditions turned out to be firm the whole way the advantage would shift my way since this Pugs' fat, 4" wide tires are heavy and slow.

Ok, enough nonsense, lets get to the race.

Pre-race euphoria (photo courtesy of Bike 29)

The course.

......tomorrow. suckers

Monday, February 18, 2008

why I haven't been blogging

well, lets start with the good ole standbye. work is killing me, I have an 18 month project that I'm expected to pull out of my ass in about 9 months. Good fun. Then, add on the fact that we've been figuring out financing, contracts etc etc on the land we're buying for the last couple of weeks. Last but not least, I've added hours to my work schedule (as if I wasn't stressed enough) to help pay for said land acquisition. This is a suckfest in some regards but it's nice to have a way to pay for the land without bankrupting the family and in the long run it'll be best for the whole family even if it stinks rotten road apples right now.

So, quick post right now and if I get a chance for a lunch break today I'll write my Winter Challenge report.

Last three days in 64 words.

Saturday: 2:30 studded ss road grindage with tempo intervals
Sunday: aborted snowshoe, pilates, 1:10 trainer, cyclo-core, stretch, start getting training plan together for 08, get ok from wifey to buy one of Lynda's training plans.
Monday: commute in the rain. Test the Ergon BD1's rain cover buy stuffing a roll of architectural drawings underneath it. 1 hour in mist/rain and the drawings are bone dry.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

brokeback mountain biking

I don't have time for a full race report for the 30 miler today so you get this instead.

If you've been reading this blog recently, you know that my plan was to do the Friday night crit, sleep in the back of the Element and then get up and do the 30 miler on Saturday morning. When I originally hatched that plan I was going over on my own so the car camping seemed like a good way to save money. When Steve was brought into the mix it still seemed doable. Right up until we got ready for the Friday night race. After the freezing shimmy into our kits and getting the bikes ready the back of the element looked like a dirty bomb had gone off in the back. There was no freakin way we could fit all of our junk and ourselves in the back of that rig. We quickly decided that it would be best to just split a room and put the whole Brokeback issue to rest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ultimat XC Winter Challenge Day 1

This year's Winter Challenge consisted of two stages, a Friday night crit and the Saturday 30 miler.

The toaster all loaded up and ready to leave's parking lot.

Friday, Steve and I loaded up the toaster and made the trek up to northern Vermont from coastal Maine. After only getting lost once (you can't get there from here apparently) we rolled into Newport at 4:30 pm. The first thing we did was check out the race course for Friday night. The ice crit was held on Memphrenmagog (seriously) Lake in Newport Vermont. Initially conceived as a 1/2 mile x 20 lap race it was changed day of race (because of unsafe ice conditions) to a loop of just under 1/2 mile and 25 laps. Oh, and it would be a figure 8. Upon seeing the course I quickly realized that my 32x17 gearing was going to be waaaaaaayyyyyy too slow. Thankfully, I had a 12t cog that I was using as a spacer on one of my wheelsets so I was able to cobble together a 32x12 which I figured would be just about perfect.

With 2 hours to kill before race time Steve and I decided to stomp over to the bar next door and get some food and drink. A couple of beers later we emerged, kitted up (ever get dressed for a race, outside in 15 degree temps? I hadn't either until Friday night) and headed down to the lake for a warm-up.

The gearing proved to be good and I hammered out my warm-up. Near the end though, while doing a final sprint my chain popped off and I hit the deck and slid across the start/finish line with a nice audience. Good way to start the night! (I would later find that I had a nice bit of road rash on my left hip from the textured ice)

Waiting for the start.
Steve Mitchell photo

Go time!

Steve Mitchell photo

The race started and I quickly found a nice place in the middle of the lead group. My goal for the evening was to sit in (take no wind) for most of the race and then in the last few laps try to make a move and that was exactly how it played out. During the first 18-ish laps we basically cruised around in lazy figure 8's, picked our way around the tricky corners (ever taken corners on ice at speed?) tried not to hit anyone at the 8's crossing and waited for any attacks to happen. I marked a couple of attacks myself to keep anyone from getting clear and kept the group at about 8 or 9 riders. With 5 laps to go, I found myself in good position to make a move on the leader coming out of corner 2. I immediately launched an attack for about 1 1/2 laps but quickly realized that it was nearly impossible to break away so I sat back up and slid back to 3rd wheel. We would now have to rely on the final 200 ft sprint out of the final corner.

Lapping through, notice the ice on the balaclava.

Steve Mitchell photos

Still third wheel going into the final set of corners, I took a wide line to allow for an earlier sprint start. Unfortunately, I started my sprint a tick too early and ended up doing a 90 degree turn right in front of the rest of the lead group. I quickly righted myself and sprinted my ass off narrowly holding onto third place for the evening.

Steve finished up a couple of mintues later a bit demoralized with how his legs felt only to find out later that his front brake had been dragging significantly the whole time!

30 miler report tomorrow (hopefully!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter XC short recap

Today is the short version. MAYBE tomorrow I'll have the real recap.

Fri night ice crit:
Course: figure 8
Result: Set up well in third place coming out of final corner but did a near 180 coming out of corner because I got on the gas too soon and had to lay down a mean sprint to salvage 3rd.

Saturday race:
Course: 30 loop on "groomed" snowmobile trails.
Result: Trails were groomed Friday night but by Saturday morning they were chewed up severly by snomobiles making riding downright brutal. From the start it was clear that the snowbikes had a major upper hand with the added floatation of 4" wide tires (or a ski in front in one case). I fought, stumbled, walked and finessed my way to 4th place on the day (after two pugsley's and a ski bike) and 3rd place overall for the weekend (first ss but they didn't have an ss class so that is more a matter of pride than anything else).

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Friday, February 08, 2008

today is the day

Of my first race of 08. Tonight, the Winter XC kicks off with a 20 lap ice crit on a lake in upstate Vermont. According to the promoter, the ice has too much traction right now so he's decided to flood the race surface with water to try to get a smooth, super slick surface for us to race on tonight. F'ing sick bastard. Hopefully my Nokian studdies are up to the challenge if not, maybe I should pack some knee and elbow pads for the inevitable smackdown. Maybe yesterday's fall was good training. (on that note, things seem to be ok for the most part. my ass is seriously bruised, my forearm hurts and my back is sore but all things considered it seems to be ok).

After the crit, I'll be hunkering down in the toaster for the night. Steve (bikeman dude and gas sharer) will either opt for the toaster or a tent. Sick son of a bitch. I thought sleeping in the car in Vermont in early February the night before a big race was a little crazy but to do that in a tent is certifiable.

Anyway, Saturday brings the 30 miler on snowmobile trails. Earlier in the week it looked like we were going to be blessed with nice, hard riding conditions because a rain band was supposed to roll through last night. Now, at least based on Maine's current weather, it looks like we'll be dealing with some fresh snow. If that is the case, that 4 hour race time could easily turn into 6+ hours of total suffering. This is going to be epic!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

snow day

It snowed last night and there was about 1" of snow on the ground this morning so the wussy school administrators called school for the day so B and I are enjoying a snow day. More accurately, I should say that B is enjoying the day because I'm allowing about 1000% more tv today so that I can get work done while she rots her brain. I'm sure I'll be voted 2008 parent of the year...

The good news is that since I head out tomorrow for Vermont and the Winter XC this snow day gives me some time with the spud (even if we do our own thing most of the day) before I head out for a couple of days. Plus, when I get sick of working, I can get the rest of my crap together for the trip. Me, being the procrastinator that I am, put off getting most of my stuff together until last night. Overall it was to big of a deal except I ran into some problems with the bike last night. I did eventually get everything working but it looks like my rear hub on my chi-chi wheelset is going to need a new part (right at the end of the axle) but it does seem to be working for now. Fingers crossed.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good for this weekend's races. I'm not in great shape right now but I should at least be able to FINISH Saturday's 30 miler. The promotor is expecting the leaders to finish in about 4 hours so if I beat the 5 hour mark I should be doing pretty well. I probably won't win but it should be fun regardless. On a bad note, this morning, while joging with the pooch, I slipped on a piece of snow covered ice and hit the ground HARD taking a serious blow to my ass cheek, right forearm and big ass Mag-Lite smacked me in the forehead. My head and arm should be fine but my ass hurts bad and it through my hip and back out. Not the movie "I can't stand up straight" out but an uncomfortable out. Hopefully all will be ok for the race. The 5 hour drive over and back will be the true test.

Well, time to get back to work. I probably won't be checking in again until Sunday or Monday so have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

pop quiz

What is this device below:


A. the world's most uncomfortable bra.
B. midevil torture device
C. a marital aid
D. neck stretcher/strengthener


A. no
B. no, but it looks like one when strapped in
C. no, but it looks like one when strapped in
D. yes, but nobody would believe us
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Monday, February 04, 2008

how to gain 7 pounds in a weekend

First, I should say that before the weekend I was within 2-3 pounds of my goal weight for the start of the season. Fast forward to Monday morning of too little activity and too much partaking in festivities and I suddenly find myself 9 pounds from my goal weight! Frick, frick, frickity, frick frick! Time to overindulge in fibrous materials and hope to poop out the equivalent of a baby seal. Too much info, I know but it's too late. You already read it suckers. The photo is cute at least.