Friday, May 30, 2008

T-minus 26 hours

Only 26-ish hours left before go time and I'm finally feeling like a human being again. For the last several days I've been so swamped that riding just couldn't happen. I could find a bit of time to ride but the will to do so wasn't there. Not good with a big race this weekend. Thankfully, I was able to get myself to ride the mountain bike in this morning and after about 20 minutes I actually felt good again. For a few minutes I was actually having fun. Maybe this riding thing is fun after all...

I did make one nice discovery on my ride in this morning. Our new property has an old road that bisects it and I didn't really know where it came out or what it was like so this morning, as I rode by on my commute, I jumped into the woods to check it out. It turns out that shortly after leaving our property it turnes into some pretty sweet single track that the locals use to walk their dogs and ride their horses. I weaved and bobbed through it for about 5-10 minutes and came out on the road just 1/4 mile from the Schmid Preserve where I jumped back in and continued my commute. I haven't checked out the gps info from the ride yet but I bet I'll be able to easily connect the trail to the Schmid Preserve without hitting the road.

All for now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Final prep

Only four more days until I throw down in my first multi-hour event of 2008 (I'm not counting the Winter XC because that was just for fun) and as a result I'm finally thinking about what I'll do this weekend. Before today my only real "planning" consisted of deciding to drive there day of race so I can get a good night's sleep, do the race and then maybe stay over and do the xc race the next day. Nothing else had been considered. Maybe I'm a procratinator, maybe I'm real busy, maybe both. What I do know is that it's a big race prep wise (for me at least) so I'd better get thinkerin'.

Yesterday's "similar course" pre-ride that I had planned at the Camden Snow Bowl got rained out. I was supposed to ride with Mike but just as I was about to head out he e-mailed me and suggested I bring a snorkel and fins. Not good. I had felt crappy all day anyway so I was kind of happy to have an excuse to lay low (do work from home) and let the systems rest up a bit and I'll be hitting the bowl today instead. The temps are going to be in the mid sixties so it should be a sweet ride.

All for now, time to get to work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

photo bloggy

no time short version:
road ride on sunday.
super nice.
sun burned thighs.
legs feel good for this coming weekend's race.
"pre-riding" a similar course tonight to get the legs used to the climbing per lap.

sweating the ballz off today in the office.
each day will get a JGI (Jim Glisten Index) (he's got a bald dome): today gets a 4.5 out of 6.7
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Monday, May 26, 2008


It's that time of year again. Training is in full effect, racing has begun, the ticks are out and, most importantly, grooming season. I'm a little bit late this year in taming the leg jungle but better late than never. For the past several years I've done a post on my grooming du-jour. Last year I discovered the joys of ripping the hair out by the roots so I figured I'd try it again this year. Sure, it's more painful to wax but, for me at least, it is far better to wax every couple of weeks than to have to shave every few days. A little pain now for less time squandered later.

This year I changed up the process a bit by doing a pre-shave with electric trimmers to tame the jungle a bit. Think of it like dropping a bit of "shock and awe" on the enemy before sending in the ground troops. The rest of the cringing, eye watering process is the same.

Step 1: pre-shave/family time

step 2: terrorize

step 3: warm up wax strips trying not to notice the breast pubes.

step 4: apply strip (sorry no pic here)

step 5: yank

step 6: inspect damage

step 7: rejoice

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

OK, I DIDN'T need that!

After Thursday night's 11 hours of sleep I figured I'd soon be on the mend with the whole sore throat/fatigue thing that was going on in the bod. By Friday evening, I was feeling pretty good. Right up until bed time when I realized that it was going to be a loooonnnng night. Have you ever gone to bed and knew that you weren't going to be able to sleep? Well, that was me last night. I hit the hay at 11pm, layed there for two hours and finally gave up and headed for the couch and some late night tv viewing. I'm not sure what time I finally fell asleep but I do know that it was after 2. Then, for some fastastic reason, I woke up again at 5 and couldn't get back to sleep. Awesome. Needless to say, I felt like crap today. I had hoped to get a mountain bike ride in with the pooch but given the circumstances, I figured it was better to just focus on the family time. That, at least, turned out to be a good idea. We hit up a minor league baseball game thanks to my retirement/life insurance folks, met up with some friends, did a bit of shopping at the new Cabelas (our first trip there and I have to say that it wasn't all that it's cracked up to be. sort of the Wal-Mart of the outdoor world. Give me LLBean anyday.) and then headed home to mow the lawn. Full and happy day.

Hopefully tomorrow has a multi-hour road ride to remind the body what it is like to ride for more than two hours at a time. With next weekend's race the body will need a refresher.

pre-game walk in the park.

at the game

Friday, May 23, 2008

I needed that.

Once again I've found myself putting in uber long hours at work this week, getting decent family/ride time but far too little sleep. Wednesday night it finally caught up to me. I was sipping a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA while working (at close to 10 pm!) when I started to get a sore throat. I thought that maybe I was dehydrated so I switched to drinking water but it didn't help. When I woke up Thursday morning I had a really bad sore throat. That kind of sucked because I had to ride in yesterday since I had left my car at work Wednesday night so I could ride home. So I was forced to ride in feeling well below par. To top it off, I had 10 hours of meetings yesterday where I was talking CONSTANTLY. By the end of the day I just wanted to have my throat removed so I could lie down and die.

Once home I had dinner and then hit the couch. By 7:30 I transitioned to the bed and fell asleep. Up at 6:15 (almost 11 hours later!) and I still have a freaking sore throat. Frick. At least I'm well rested now though. I find it kind of funny that just yesterday I left a comment on Groover's blog about wishing I could get 11 hours of sleep in and then that night I do. Maybe I should comment that I want a manage a'trois next! :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maine Sport Mayhem!!

Ok, time for the race report.

The Maine Sport Mayhem is run on the kick ass trails right out the side door of Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport Maine. It's a small piece of property but somehow Mike and many others over the years have been able to carve out close to 3 miles of sweet trails from (I'm guessing here) less than 15 acres of land. You end up with a twisty, turney, rootey, bermy good time. As tight and twisty as the course is, it has great flow and is a total blast to race on. As an added bonus, because of the compact area of the race, spectators can easily see a rider in 4 or 5 spots on course without too much trouble. The only potential problem with the course is that if it is wet, it gets really hard to ride really fast. Last year that played to my advantage since I've raced on the course probably 20 times (they used to do a weekly series) so I know it like the back of my hand. But this year, things were different. Forcasts called for rain pretty much all week but in the end we had a few brief showers and a super dry course.

Now for the race.

Because of the tight nature of the course, getting into the woods near the front is paramount if you want to have a good day. Get stuck behind one slow rider and big gaps open quickly. With that in mind, I got to the start line first to get a primo starting position. Wheels lined up next to me after watching his kids throw down in the kids races. Both of those boys will be fast if they keep it up. Incidentally, Camden has a great bike scene proven by the fact that there were easily 30+ kids there duking it out on a mini course Mike set up in front of the store. They also have a Junior Bike League and a high school team that has won the state championship for something like the last 5 or 6 years straight. If only more areas were like the Camden area...

Anyway, I'm off topic. From the gun, Wheels, Adam Larochelle and a junior x guy got the jump off the line with me in fourth. Not exactly where I wanted to be but Wheels was sitting third wheel so I figured if I stayed with him I'd be ok. We crossed the open start field and quickly jumped into the woods and the first trick question of the day. Is it faster to take the straight (and shorter) route through the one muddy area of the course or hit the fresh side hill bench cut that is dry but twists and turns and is a bit longer? The first four of us chose the straight route but I noticed that a bunch of others took the high route and were going to pass us. F!!!!!! Thankfully, for us anyway, the first guy on the bench cut ate it right before coming back onto the main trail and held everyone behind him up. Good for us, bad for them.

Once into the windy trails it was apparent that the junior x guy, while fast, was not in his element at the front and Wheels and I quickly got by leaving Adam L. leading and W & I right on his heels. The three of us were moving along nicely and quickly opened up a decent gap to the rest of the field. About halfway into the first of four laps I was totally maxed out and not completely warmed up (gotta fix that next race) so I let a small, maybe 3 second, gap open between me and Wheels. I wanted to stay with them but I also knew I had to wait for the legs to open up. Shortly before the end of the first lap, Wheels snuck by Adam and started setting pace.

About 1/2 way through the second lap, Wheels had started to open a bit of a gap between Adam and myself. My legs were coming around so I set about trying to pass Adam. It took a couple of tries but finally at the beginning of the third lap, he took the straight, muddy route and I took the high line and picked him off. At this point Wheels was out of sight but I knew from my parents and brother that he was only 30-ish seconds up on me so I dug in and tried to reel him in. At some point during the lap I had the gap down to the 15 second range but soon after, Wheels must have decided to stop playing games and quickly opened it up to close to a minute despite me riding smoother and faster than I think I ever have there before.

In the fourth, and final lap I gave it everything that I had hoping that Wheels would fade from his third lap surge but I never caught sight of him and ended up finishing roughly a minute back, second overall in the pro/expert class and first in my age group.

Overall, I'm happy with how things went. Physically, I wasn't quite firing on all cylinders but I was close. My tech skills seemed to be working sufficiently and the bike performed flawlessly. I can't say enough how well the Dos Niner handles technical rooty and rocky trails. It just gobbles them up.

Two other tech notes. Sunday was the first thrashing with my new Ergon GR2 grips. It was definitely nice to have the big contact patch for my hands for this race. Last year, with the ODI lock-ons, I walked away with extremely sore and blistered hands. This year, not a hint of soreness. The only problem I had is more of a personal set-up issue that I'm going to deal with by a bit of tinkering. More on that later.

The last tech note is that if you're looking for a set it and forget it shifting system, look no further than a SRAM XO derailleur and shifter paired with Dry Cables enclosed cable system. I've been running the same cables and housing for two full race seasons now and the combo of SRAM's crisp shifting and Dry Cables sealed system and you have a nearly maintenance free system. (totally maintenance for me so far).

Photos to come.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Maine Sport Mayhem!!!

quick update.

Finished 2nd expert/pro overall to Wheels (the boy has wheelz ya know). Felt good, everything worked smoothly on the bike, no crashes bonks etc.

Good times.

Real race report to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

better now (somewhat)

After Thursday's downerfest post Marcy and I decided to stay home on Friday to try to recharge the internal batteries. I still worked from home but I was able to sleep in. 10 hours of sleep later and my body and mental state are in a much better place. It is amazing what prolonged sleep deprivation can do to you.

Final prep is happening for tomorrow's race, the most important of which was getting the race treads mounted up on the Stan's tubelrss rims. The rear Maxxis Ignitor mounted up lickity split but the front was a total biznatch. Many, many, many tries later I was about to give up when it FINALLY seated. Of course, as soon as it did a big sidewall cut became apparent from the white Stans goop spray. That makes 3 Ignitors with full knobs left but no sidewalls. No more Ignitors for me. So I made a made dash to Bikeman, picked up a Bonty AC (about all they happened to have for racy treads on hand. Back home the Bonty mounted up easily and was holding air and a quick ride proved that the tire would hold air. Hopefully it'll hold up in tomorrow's race. Time will tell.

All for now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

T-Minus 4 days

and counting before MMBA series race numero uno (if you are really bored, refresh the Maine Sport page about a thousand times and you'll see a pic of me chilling at the starting line of a race and a pic of Brynna on her trike). Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about the race but I do have a bunch of nagging question marks leading into the beginning of the season. First, and foremost, work has been a total B-I-T-C-H and not only have the hours been long keeping me from riding as much as I'd like but the stress levels have been uber high as well. In years past, I always poo-pooed the notion that stress could hinder ride performance because I always felt that the best way to burn off some stress is with a good ride. Well, it turns out I just wasn't dealing with enough stress previously for it to be an issue. That has changed. I feel like I'm in a pressure cooker on a daily basis right now and often find myself self medicating in the evening to try to chill a bit. Stress + drinking = poor performance. This weekend will give me an idea of how this will effect me this summer but I do know that I've been having some trouble completing my intervals recently and I think that is directly linked to the stress from work. Oh, and did I mention, we're trying to sell our house? Nothing stressful about that in this market!

Another big question mark on the season is my endurance. I've cut back on longer races that I'm doing this year because of time and money constraints but there are still a few scattered about the season and I'm very worried that I'm not getting in any long rides. Last year at this time I had many 4-6 hours rides in. This year I have zero. I know that I'll be able to find some time this summer for some now that most of the work on our house is done but I've got my first 6 hour race coming up in two weeks. That'll be a shock to the system for sure.

On the plus side of things, because I'm finally following a training plan I feel that what little time I get to spend on the bike is time well spent. I would say that I have pretty close to zero garbage miles so far this year. Sometimes it feels like work having a regimented training plan but I know that for me being able to compete on race day will more than make up for the sacrifice.

Not to be forgotten is that, if all goes well, this time next year we'll be living in a sweet new house that uses almost no energy and the project that is eating me alive at work will finally be complete so life can get back to normal again. Only 12 months to go! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

red poop diaries

want a quick read about poop? check it HERE.

Morning stroll

Not too much to write about this a.m. I did my typical Tuesday commute. It was a very nice but cool (47) morning. Totally daylight by 5:10 so I may have to start heading out earlier to get more time in. The one thing of note on today's ride was that I was able to carry a roll of architectural drawings in my Ergon pack quite comfortably. There was still ample room for today's breakfast/lunch as well. Next time I'll try carrying a drafting board.

Sprint intervals tonight as I try to peak for this weekend's race.
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Edit: if you're racing this weekend at the Maine Sport Mayhem and don't know the course layout you can get it HERE for your pre-ride. There was a bit of screwing around at the begining and a couple of wrong turns that we quickly fixed so it's not perfect but it will get you around.

Monday, May 12, 2008

shake down

Wednesday last week I met up with Andrew at Bradbury State Park for some single track goodness. My first real goodness for the year. During the ride I was all asses and elbows and was a bit disheartened at how poorly I was riding. I figured some of it had to do with the fact that my fork seemed wonky and my brakes were sucking a high hard one but overall, I just found out of sorts on the bike. Not a good sign with my first mtb race of the year only 1 1/2 weeks away and on a tight & technical course to boot.

During this past week I finally found some time to do some much needed tlc on the Dos including tuning the fork, changine the brake cables/housing, adjusting the pedals etc.

On Sunday, I got a chance to test out the adjustments when I headed to the Camden Snow Bowl. My old stomping grounds. It was immediately clear that the adjustments I made had been sorely needed. I did more work to the fork than I ever have tune-wise and I think that for the first time since owning it (3 years) I had it set up correctly for me and it showed. It didn't dive into corners, bounce around, fling off of stuff. In short, it worked like a well tuned fork should. Mental note to myself to spend some time on the fork earlier when I get my next new one. Duh.

The brakes also worked well which helped with the whole downhill confidence thing so that was nice too.

I ended up getting in a hair over 2 hours at the bowl and then headed over to Maine Sport to do a quick pre-ride on next weeks race course, the Maine Sport Mayhem!!. It isn't marked out yet so it helped to have Mike there to show me around since he is the one who sets up the course. Typically, the Mayhem!! course is pretty muddy/greasy but yesterday it was almost 100% mud free which would be sweet for the race this weekend but, of course, they're calling for rain on Saturday and Sunday (drat!) so we'll see how things go.

View from near the top of the Snow Bowl.
A little closer to the top but not a nice of a view.
Mayhem!! trails.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

what is wrong with these pics?

My beloved Van Dessel, which I gave to my brother as a birthday/xmas present, was trashed a few weeks ago. When rus first told me we were both pretty bummed. The Van Dessel, while being a simple and pretty inexpensive bike, was still pretty sweet. I couldn't tell you exactly what I liked about the bike but it was a great do-it-all performer. Truth be told, I never would have gotten rid of it if I hadn't promised to do so before getting the El Mariachi. I hadn't been able to bring myself to sell it. It just didn't seem right for some reason but when I found out my brother wanted it back (it was his first) it seemed like a pretty good solution.

That is, until he had it locked outside of his office in Boston and came out at the end of the day to find this:

Thankfully, the damage wasn't as bad as initially thought. Somehow, somebody had managed to destroy the wheels, brakes, cranks and bb (and I believe bars) but leave the frame unharmed.

Thankfully, Rus is a bit more mechanically inclined than I and Van has risen from the ashes and rolls again.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

B rides!

We're not sure what happened over the weekend but B finally decided to use the potty. 5 times on Sunday without any prompting from us. She also decided that she knew how to ride her tricycle this weekend as well. Previously she could only push a pedal a few inches and had no clue about steering. Saturday was no exception and we were forced to push her around the driveway. Sunday, for some reason, things just clicked. She hopped on the trike and simply started pedaling and steering like she always knew how. Weird. Even more strange is that she's been riding the trike for three days now and I'm already thinking of getting her first two-wheeler...

Monday, May 05, 2008

yikes, busy day

no time to write today so you just get a couple of pics from my ride yesterday with Mike and my brother.

leeetle muddy

place your bets as to what the crow bar was for.
muddy but happy
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

monster bike revealed

For some bizarro reason, with the xc race season rapidly approaching I find myself dreaming about what I could have done differently at this February's Winter XC so that I would have been able to give the two pugsley's a run for their money. I know for a fact that I won't be able to buy my own pugs or better yet get a carver built up for next winter but one thing that I may be able to pull off are some minor mods to the El Mariachi to make it even more snow worthy. With some fat 29'er tires, the El already cranks through the snow but put it up agains the pugs monster and all of a sudden I look like a clown trying to ride a quarter bike in the snow. (speaking of clowns, you should check out my pissing match with a carnie over on DAMNelsons. I made a remark about circuses yesterday and rubbed his short, hairy body the wrong way. check it HERE. Hopefully he responds)

With that in mind, I've been scheming on ways to improve the float of the el without spending a pantload of jing. The obvious first step would be to get fatter 29'er tires but my Rampager 2.35's are only slightly narrower than the fattest tire in the 29'er line-up right now, a WTB something or other at 2.55. I will probably get the WTB for the rear next year but I'm thinking of upping the ante for the front. My current though is to get a Pugsley fork, a rim and an Endomorph tire for the front end. This is a 26" set-up but since the Endomorph is 3.7 " wide and SUPER tall the circumference is almost identical to my Rampages once everything is mounted up. As a bonus, the Pugs fork is slightly steeper than my El's so that should make the front end a bit quicker to hopefully counteract the Endo's sluggish turning.

Who knows if any of this will actually happen next winter or not but it's fun to think about.

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