Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Need Not Worship Me
(but you can if you want to)
Whew, quite the weather we're having today. Raining a good clip and windy as a mofo. Add in mid thirties temps and you have the recipe for crappy riding conditions. Sooooooo, of course, it just so happens to be my last chance for a commute this week. I could have been a wus and bagged the ride but I realized I'm much more manly than Jason so I wasn't going to let some silly rain and wind stop me. I got blown all over the road and occasionally had a hard time seeing when the wind was blowing the rain directly into my face but, otherwise, it wasn't too bad of a ride. Thankfully it was only a 30 minute ride though because I was getting mighty squishy by the time I rolled in. Thankfully, Tuesday night I had mounted the fenders onto the El Mariachi. My poor El has been untouched for a few weeks since I got the road bike going again so I figured it was time to put it back into the rotation as my inclement weather commuter. Without the fenders, I probably would not have done the ride. I'm stupid but not that stupid.

The weather peeps are calling for 2-5" (there's a joke here somewhere but I wouldn't want to sound like I'm bragging) of rain which would be a metric shit ton of snow if it were a few degrees cooler. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad that it's rain. On the one hand it would be nice to have more snow on the ground since it is only February but, on the other hand, the thought of early season dirt is pretty tempting. I guess either way I'm happy.
In other news, a few weeks back my father asked me to get him a new bike. My original plan had been to give him the Carver that I won at the Bradbury 12 but he wanted a full 29'er. I have a dos niner frame kickin around that I thought would fit him but I needed a build kit. After some searching I decided to go with a Bikes Direct bike. They're not the highest end bikes around but the pricing is damn good and it allowed me to order my dad a size smaller than the dos so that either way, he'd have a bike that fits. Usually I'd poo-poo going the bikes direct route but given the circumstances, it made sense. Ordered the bike last Wednesday and had it by the following Tuesday. Not bad.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back on Track?

Somehow, miraculously, I actually did what I said I was going to do over the weekend. Remember WAYYYYYYY back when (you know, Thursday, the last time I posted) when I said that I needed to ride my bike more if I wanted to trim down? Well, I somehow managed to pull it off this weekend. It took getting up at 5:30 on both Saturday and Sunday to do it but it was worth the sleep deprivation to get a spin in both days before working on the house. We're currently wrapping up the exterior siding so long days in the saddle won't be had just yet but soon, very soon, the big house stuff will be done so more hijinks will be possible.

Saturday morning was a quick 1:15 on the road where I just meandered around our local roads. The legs are feeling especially powerful these days so I'm easing into more structure and more training load. Ha, ha, I said "load". So toodle around I did. First up was a loop around the Great Salt Bay in Damariscotta. Since it's brackish water (a mix of ocean and fresh) a bunch of locals seem to think it's a great place for a shanty town every winter. Sure the ice is crappy (salty water doesn't make the best ice) and it's been above freezing every day for the last couple of weeks and we'll try to ignore the completely open water not even 100 yards from the shanty town and the fact that every year a shanty or two plunges into the bay. We might also want to ignore the story of a car going through the ice on Damariscotta lake (a fully fresh water lake) just this week. We'll ignore all those things and go ice fishing, or as I like to call it ice drinking. I think if I were out there I'd be wearing a float suit and maybe a set of water wings just in case.

Then a bit further into the ride I saw this sad sight. A barred owl who had recently been hit on route one.

His prey didn't make it either.
Once home, I quickly changed and proceeded to do this:

Close, so close.

Sunday was much the same but without seeing any idiots on ice or any dead animals.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things Aren't Going As Planned

Well, this just sucks. This really comes as no great shock to me but maybe it will help if I say it out loud. I'm a weak man. Put food in my vicinity and I'll eat it. Even if I'm not hungry. Sure, occasionally, I'm able to act like a mature person and pass up the tasty bits right in front of my nose but more days than not, I end up gorging myself at some point during the day. Blast it all. In order to fight this, I always attempt to bring plenty of healthy food figuring if my belly is stuffed with goodness than I won't feel the need for a candy bar or two. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. Here is today's menu.

2 oranges
2 apples
1 banana
1 nectarine
1 large and very colorful salad
ravioli's with parmesan and olive oil
a two pieces of homemade garlic bread (without tons of butter)

for most people, this would get them through a work day quite easily but there are days that I can go through this in a morning and then hit the honor bar in the afternoon (come to think of it, I blame all this on the honor bar). No wonder I'm a fatty right now. So, since the "diet" doesn't seem to be working, it's time to up the ante and do something I've been dreading ever since the Bradbury 12. Ride my bike more. I know, I know, it sounds like a pretty extreme solution to a pretty simple problem but I think that is what it will take. "But Racin Rick (that's right, my friends call me racin rick. that's not weird is it?) wouldn't it be easier and more enjoyable to just amputate something?" Yes, that is true and just think of all the money I'd save buying left over department store display shoes when I only have one leg, but that seems like the easy way out. No, there is other way. I must RIDE MY BIKE. God help us all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm Useless

How easy is it to flush 2 1/2 weeks of progress down the toilet? Pretty frickin' easy it turns out. I started out the week having lost a very respectable (and totally made up since I didn't weigh myself) four pounds in the last 2-3 weeks which put me on target to hit my goal weight by spring. But then yesterday happened. Approximately 2 1/2 pounds of the best mashed potatoes ever (nice job Marcy!) probably close to a pound of pork tenderloin (again, delish), a hamburger, fries, can of dew (or two)and two drumsticks.and voila! back up clydesdale status. Nice job Rick, nice job.

Thursday, I met up with the gents to do some snowmobile trail riding. It was my first trail ride on snow this winter and my first trail ride with my new pogies. To say that I was riding shitty would be a drastic understatement. I was getting schooled everywhere by everyone. First, since it was my first winter trail ride this year I was diamond in the sphincter apprehensive on all of the icy sections (IE-frozen downhill streams), second, with pogies your only bailout option from the bars is straight back instead of off the side, front, below, back etc. that you're usually allowed. This lead to a couple of funny endoes where I truly thought that I'd end up augured head first into the snow while my hands were still firmly attached to the bars. Good times, good times.

In the end, we put in nearly 3 hrs of ride time and I was completely knackered by the time we got back well after 10pm. Next time I promise to not embarrass myself.

most of the trail was of the packed atv variety. ready to rip.
channing and steve ready for an attitude adjustment.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Off to a Good Start

Things are starting to shape up in these parts recently. The weekend was nice so, even though I didn't get any riding in, I did get a bunch of siding done on the house and we're getting perilously close to having the exterior done. Once that is done it means more saddle time so I'll sacrifice a couple of sunny, 40 degree days for more spring/summer riding. Sure was nice out though.

The weight's coming down slowly but surely as well. I didn't weigh in this morning but from the way I'm feeling, I'm certain that when I weigh in tomorrow that I'll be at least another pound down from the previous week. If not, I may have to throw myself into a wood chipper because everything went pretty smoothly last week. I decreased the amount of beers that I drank for the week, got a couple of good commutes in, did some snowshoe running, got a spin class in and did a couple days of cyclo-core/pilates. I'm still far from being a featherweight (much closer to a clydesdale really) but if I can drop 10 pounds I'll be a bch away from my ultimate race weight, 185 lbs. Holy crap on a cracker! That's pretty huge you say? Well, at 6'-3" with a "muscular" build (muscular is in quotes since I'm only muscular in cycling terms) 185 is about the lowest I can get without looking, and riding, like a sickly anorexic chicken.

On this morning's commute I also came to a realization. I've been rationalizing getting started "training" late this year but this morning I had to hit myself in the head and remind myself that it's still only midway through February. Just because I can see bare ground all over the place doesn't mean that spring is days away. Yay! I still have plenty of time to over prepare for early season and then crumble and crawl my way through the late season!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On a Quest

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently in a quest to get my portly, clydesdale-esque, self back into fighting shape for the upcoming racing season. Like just about everyone else, I go through this every winter but this winter I've got an extra 5-10 lbs to deal with and I'm getting a later start than usual. In the end this may be to my benefit since I'm typically in great shape in the spring/early summer and then totally coasting in the fall since I'm either burned out on training or else I've used all of my kitchen passes for the year. So, maybe by getting a late start I'll be able to keep the motivation going further into the summer. Maybe.

So, in my quest to lose the girth, I'm upping my riding a bit when time allows and refocusing on my early morning routine. The snowshoes and cyclo-core are back out. Oh, and I'm buying lite beer now. Egad, he's serious! Thankfully, this is all working and I was able to drop 3 lbs last week. I'm sure I'll fluctuate some but progress is progress.

self portrait while snowshoe jogging. didn't really work.
the "trail"
whose cubby face is that???

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After yesterday's whiny little episode about usb cables I was sure that I'd find the missing cable in the most obvious place and, sure enough, this morning I found it in the pocket of one of my ergon packs. The exact same pack that I searched from top to bottom no less than three times yesterday. Ok, so I'm a dude and can easily overlook things like that time I was desperately searching for something in the fridge and getting supremely frustrated. So I turn around and ask Marcy if she knows where the (I can't remember what I was looking for but lets say Miracle Whip) Miracle Whip was and she looked at me and said "in your hand". Apparently I had moved the miracle whip out of the way trying to find the miracle whip. Nobody ever said that I was the brightest boy in town. So, to make a long story longer, I found the cable and now I have to return the multi-head cable that I purchased yesterday that promised to fit Nikon cameras but, of course, didn't. I don't hate many things but the giant USB cable conglomerate and it's massive Washington lobbying machine is quickly climbing the ladder.

Blood boiling.

Ok, so since I found the cord, I was able to upload my photos from Saturday's ride. It was my first real road ride in months. Real meaning on my road bike and longer than my commute. The ride fell together kind of by accident. We were going to a friend's art opening Friday night at the University of Maine and on the way back crashing at Marcy's mother's house. Then, Saturday morning Marcy was going to brunch with a friend and I'd ride the 40-ish miles home. Great plan right up until I woke up Saturday morning and it was -1 out. Below zero is ok when you're riding in the woods and windchill is of minimal importance but minus one is totally different when you're on the road and hitting speeds in excess of 30 mph on the downhills. I hoped that with a bit of time it would warm up so I had breakfast and about 18 cups of coffee and two hours later it was a balmy 4 degrees. Perfect!

Once on the road I knew I was going to be in trouble. The body was cool but fine but the hands and feet immediately started showing signs of bad times to come. About 45 minutes into the ride my feet were blocks of ice so I was extremely when I got to the first of three stores on my route. I had hoped to spend a bit of time in the store to warm up the extremities but some of the good ole' boys' sideways glances got me moving quicker than I wanted. Back on the road my feet were immediately frozen again. I knew of one store down a ways that I suspected would have a wood stove and a place to hang so when the store came into view shortly before the 2hr mark I did a little internal happy dance.

Yay, The Alna Store!

Once inside I immediately lost the shoes and warmed up by the fire.
And then enjoyed a tasty breakfast sandwich and a couple cups of coffee.
After the Alna store, things were smooth sailing. My feet were finally warm and the temps had climbed to 16 degrees. Still not toasty but warm enough to stay warm and before I knew it I was back home.

The end.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Stupid Nikon

Mini rant here. Why is it that with there already being a standard usb cable connector on the market for years some manufacturers (nikon, lg and I'm sure others) decide to come up with their own stupid connection? So instead of having one, convenient, cable handy, I have to have three on hand at any given time and sure enough, the day that I need the stupid f'n nikon cable, I can't find it! I've got stuff to write about a frigid road ride on Saturday, my one good ride in a week and now I can't blog it because it's nothing without pics. Who am I kidding, I'm sure it will be boring even with pics but who doesn't like random roadside pictures from a place they've never been?

Anyway, big doin's planned for this week. I'm meeting up with the Bath clan on Thursday for a night ride and if the rumors are true, the conditions there are better than they are even in the height of summer. A perfect combination of ice and packed snow has made for unbelievable fun trails. Or so I've been told. To celebrate the occasion, I'm going to pull Selma out of her winter slumber, mount up the studs and have a rip roarin good time. It'll be nice to straddle my old girl again, she has been missed.

On the weight front, I was making some good progress initially, dropping 1.5 lbs in the first week but then the weekend happened, the superbowl happened and then we had a meeting at work yesterday that included beer and chips. Woops. This morning I clocked in at 200.6 lbs. It's official, I'm fat and to top it off, Marcy seems to have shrunk my jeans because they are uncomfortably cutting into my stomach as we speak. Damn her!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Whatever Shall I Do?

Usually, this time of year is spent sweating over a new bike build but since I got my sweet ass, all blinga-ding Salsa Selma last year and barely raced on her, I don't have that arduous and totally fun process to look forward to. On top of that, I NEED essentially nothing for this coming race season. Sure I need a set of tires and some nutrition products but nothing else. ARGH! I had been lusting over a new wheel set for the race steed. With my twisted sense of logic, I figured that since I wasn't blowing a bunch of money on a new bike that I SHOULD, instead, get a new set of race wheels. Maybe something like this. When it came down to it though, I realized that dropping a grand on a wheel set might not be the wisest choice right now. Especially since my Hope PII/Stans Arch wheels have been bombproof and show no signs of going toes up any time soon.

Then, along comes a flurry of e-mails from our team manager with all of the deals from our team's sponsors for 2010. The major goodies so far are from Salsa but, like I said, I don't need a bike this year. Then, I get an e-mail about our team 2010 helmets. If you remember, I bought a new lid at the end of last season so that I'd have a day helmet and night helmet for the Bradbury 12 so that means that a new helmet also isn't in order even though they're changing the color scheme for aught-10. Damn me and my understanding wife who let me buy a helmet so that I could save two minutes mounting lights during the race!

What's a guy to do??? I've got imaginary money to spend and nothing to spend it on!

Friday, February 05, 2010


As I mentioned on Wednesday, while in Vegas, our Friday ride was a semi bust because of all the snow and mud we encountered so when Kevin and I headed out to Bootleg Canyon on Saturday we weren't sure what was in store for us. Truthfully, if we hadn't already paid for the rental on the bikes we probably would have bagged the ride. Nobody wants to fly 2500 miles to a warmer climate only to find that they have more snow and mud than you do back home. Thankfully, as we approached the venue, our fears were allayed and we were greeted with dry, almost moon like conditions.

The riding at bootleg is unreal. Miles and miles of beautifully designed and built trails. For a right coaster like myself, the speed, length and openness of some of the downhills were truly terrifying but fun as hell and all of the more gradual stuff had great flow and a very high fun factor. Our ride window for the day was pretty short at under two hours but we got to sample close to half of the trails there (I'm guessing). Unfortunately, both Kevin and I forgot our cameras that day so you'll have to make do with a couple of crappy camera phone pics:

You may remember that back on Tuesday I mentioned three things I learned while in Vegas:
I still prefer 29'ers. I hate gears. Specialized's stumpjumper sucks balls.

After two days of riding I didn't hate the 26" format as much as I expected to but I did find myself constantly thinking "my 29'er would roll through this stuff so well" on multiple occasions so I guess I still much prefer 29'ers. I also got a bit of justification for riding single speed while at Bootleg. While I was just riding along (I know all you bike shop types just love to hear this!) my rear derailleur just barely touched a rock. Literally, all I heard was a little tink and all of a sudden my shifting was completely gone and I was in my hardest gear. I expected to see a mangled derailleur when I looked down but everything looked fine except for the completely loose derailleur cable bolt thingy. How in the world does that happen? Spot on shifting for 3 1/2 hours and then all of a sudden the cable has pulled out and the bolt about ready to fall out??? Anyway, after a bit of fiddling I was able to get the bike to sort of shift but it was missing a couple of gears (I'm guessing a slightly tweaked hanger) and it totally messed with the last half hour of my ride. Stupid gears.

Finally, the biggest revelation of the weekend was that Specialized's stumpjumpers should be stump jumped right into a dumpster. What a stupidly crappy bike. The shop set the rear suspension for my weight but no matter what I did the rear suspension wallowed so much that pedaling while in full suspension mode was out of the question. So I ended up doing most of both rides with the rear locked out and only occasionally going full squish. This bike was a 2010 and I guarantee you that my 2001 trek fuel was a shit ton more efficient. One would think that with the improvements in suspension designs and valving etc that this bike would have felt like the xc bike that it is and not some sloppy pathetic excuse for a downhill bike.

Man did I miss my dos niner and selma. What I wouldn't have given for either of those bikes!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Chubby Hubby

Yikes! I knew this day was coming. My day of reconing. Marcy finally got a new battery for our weight/body fat % scale and I stood on it for the first time in months this morning and what I saw was sobering, not entirely unexpected, but sobering none the less. My weight now, after a couple cups of coffee is hoving dangerously close to two bills. 199.6 to be exact. Yikes indeed. My weight has steadily been creeping up from roughly 180 lbs about a year and a half ago. The primary culprit has been the house construction. With less time to ride and much more stress (and stress eating/drinking) it was inevitable.

I think my course to success will be fairly simple and somewhat painless. First, I need to increase my ride time. Uh, duh! But with the race season less than three months away I now have the motivation to kick it up some. This past weekend's ride were a good kickoff. Secondly, I need to cut back on my nightly beer. Another duh moment. Two to three beers a night can really add up. And three, my nightly snack. After three beers I tend to get the munchies so once I cut the beer out, I'll also be able to cut out the snacks. All together that's probably 4-600 calories a night. Not something to be trifled with.

Consider the weight loss process (not a diet) begun.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Back From Vegas

As I mentioned yesterday, we made it back from Vegas safely. We had a great time but I was kind of glad that we only had four days there. By the end of the fourth day, we were ready to vacate and actually spent most of that last day driving around doing sightseeing stuff instead of cruising the strip. Vegas is fun but unless you're into hard core gambling, it can get old quick.

On our itinerary was the aforementioned gambling (which we did little of), some nice dinners, a show or two, some clubbing, a bit of riding for the boys and lots of shopping for the ladies. Mission complete. I'm sure you're all just dying to hear about the two pair of boots that Marcy bought or just how fabulous the show was (pretty darn fabulous) but this blog is about riding and racing so if you want to hear about that stuff you'll need to i-m me and we can kibitz.

My buddy Kevin and I made rough plans before the trip to hit up both Bootleg Canyon and Cottonwood Valley. Originally, we were going to go the guided route but once we found out it was much cheaper to rent the bikes and a car for the whole weekend than it was to do one guided ride we went that route instead. I found a shop on-line that was in Vegas that had rentals. I was happy to see that they had their rentals on-line so I could be sure that our bikes would be ready for pick-up when we got there. WRONG! When we walked into the shop (which was pretty nice) the clerk looked at we sideways when I said that we were in to pick up the two Epic 29'ers. "We only have one 29'er and we just rented it out for the week." WTF? What is the point or reserving the bikes if you don't, I don't know, reserve them for the person? And the fact that the clerk obviously hadn't even known that we were coming in despite the reservations really pissed me off. They offered up two stumpjumper 26'ers instead and since our ride window was slowly closing we took them and headed out for our ride.

Ride number one was to be in Cottonwood. We had a map, a rough route planned out and about 2 1/2 hours of ride time so we were on our merry way. The beginning of the ride was nice but uninspiring (except for the views). It was mostly a slight uphill that would pay dividends later in the ride though.

new englander's legs, white and hairy, and just a peek of white boy pp

After about 40 minutes of riding we came to the begining of our main loop of the day, Dead Horse, and this is where things got interesting. We were soon greeted with snow and muddy trails. Really? We came all the way to the desert in winter to escape snow and mud!!!


Ever the optimists, we pushed on assuming that since the first part of the trail was so dry that we'd soon be out of the snow and back in bidness. Ahem, wrong again.

Peanut butter.

We spent the next hour, maybe even an hour and a half riding/walking through some pretty nasty conditions but we were too far in to make turning around worth it. To make matters worse, we weren't entirely sure where we were on our map since the trails aren't really well marked. Thankfully I had my gps with us so we were able to find our way and eventually we found what we thought was the trail called "Three Mile Smile". With a name like that it had to be good. After a bit more snow it turned into a bunch of flowey goodness. Eventually, it connected back to our initial trail and we were able to enjoy several miles of slight downhill, no brakes needed, twisty turny good times. Those last two sections saved the day for us. Phew.

Woops, that's it for time today. Bootleg Canyon tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Back From Vegas

We made it back from Vegas safely but I can safely tell you one thing. It's not true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because sleep deprivation will follow you anywhere. Five nights of 3-4 hours of sleep followed by a red eye with 2.5 hours of fitful sleep leads to one sleepy little boy. I have lots to write about but it'll have to wait one more day.

3 bike related things I did learn: I still prefer 29'ers. I hate gears. Specialized's stumpjumper sucks balls.
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