Friday, May 28, 2010

Meet Big gay Al

Over the past several years I've made mention of our team manager, Big Al, many times. More often than not, I've referred to him as Big gay Al. Not because he's gay but because whenever I hear people refer to him as Big Al I immediately get the image of Big Gay Al from South Park's Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary. Exposed left nipple and all.

Not only is he not gay (at least his wife claims he isn't) but he's also not big. In fact, he's a bit of a waif. Come to think of it. He's waifish AND he's incredibly meticulous about everything, including his wardrobe. Maybe he IS gay! Wait, wait. The point of this post was that he isn't gay. Getting back on track now... So, he's not gay and he's not big but I've heard rumors that he was a total load before he got into cycling so that's probably where the "Big" portion of his name comes from. When I first met Big Al, he was skinny and a wicked fast mountain biker so I assumed that "Big" referred to his ego. Now I know otherwise.

So, anyway, I don't think I've ever actually posted a pic of Big gay Al before. So that's him at the top of the post hamming it up for the camera prior to the Maine Sport Mayhem! last weekend. Consider yourself informed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trailwork Doesn't Pay

For the past couple of weeks on monring's that I'd typically go out for a 1/2 hour trail run before work, I've instead headed out to do a bit of trail work. I'm trying to finish up the loop trail around our property. The trail that will eventually be the jumping off point for other trails. It's been a pain because a couple of the areas that I've had to pass through are literally filled with saplings and small trees making it a pain in the ass to clear. This morning I started by doing a bit of raking to expose the little punji sticks left over from my initial chain saw clearing and then followed that by cutting the punji's with a hand saw.

After cutting a stump, the saw slipped and nicked my knee. Other than a hole in my hiking/running pants, no big deal right? Wrong. That little frickin cut just wouldn't stop bleeding. After unsucessfully trying to get the bleeding to stop I bailed on the trail work and headed home.

Just home. Not too bad.

Then I cleaned it up, put some antibiotic ointment on it and a bandaid. Success!

Uh, no.

So I pulled off the initial, bloody, gorey bandaid, cleaned it up and attached a big boy bandage.


Uh, no.

The final solution (at least I hope this is the final solution) was to put a bandaid on first and then cover it with a larger bandage. So far so good.

Be careful out there kids!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What To Do?

What do most married with children couples do when they unexpectedly find themselves kid free for an hour? My guess is that most American couples would use the opportunity to was tv unencumbered or maybe grab a beer or go for a drive. Marcy and I? Well, we didn't have enough time to get a ride in so, instead, we went for a trail run.

sorry for the blurry pics but do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture while you're running?

It sure is nice having trails right out our front, back and side doors!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maine Sport Mayhem!

Well, my first "real" race of the season is under my belt. I'm not sure if it's really as late in the season as it feels but, damn, it sure feels like I waited a long ass time for my first mtb race. It's probably the fact that we've had spring/summer like weather for the last three months and the trails are bone frickin' dry that makes me think that but either way, it's damn nice to have the season kicked off. Race numero uno was the Maine Sport Mayhem! (the ! is actually part of the race name. hopefully they'll bring the !). Traditionally, as the first race of the Maine season, the Mayhem! is usually plagued by mud and nastyness. It never fails that the weeks leading up to the race will be bone dry and I'll rave to any who'll listen (and some who would prefer not to but have no choice) that the course is fun, fast and technical. Then, as if choreographed by satan himself, it ALWAYS rains like a mother on Saturday night rendering a once primo course into a course riddled with tight, root filled corners, greasy off camber rocks, bridges seemingly designed to break body and soul and shin deep mud. This year, though, we were blessed with dry conditions and the potential for super fun.

Because of the 100% super tight singletrack nature of the course, it is essential to get a good start. Being on a single speed and sprinting across a long lawn to start the race can be difficult but doable. When the gun went off, I was out sprinted by my teammate Ryan Rumsey and local good guy Gabe Finkelstein (anyone care to guess his heritage?) and entered the woods third wheel.
the berm

Things hurt from the gun for me but I was feeling fairly comfortable and able to keep pace with the two in front. Before long, it became apparent that riding behind Gabe was going to be an issue. Gabe struggled a bit in the technical sections but honked right along on the more open sections so it was very tough to pass when the going was good and the tech stuff is so tight that it's impossible to pass someone while they are on their bike so I bidded my time and waited for a chance. While I was waiting for an opening I made a couple of tech mistakes myself when Gabe would slow in an uphill corner and I, being on a single speed, would be slightly overgeared and unable to complete the move while on someone's wheel. These mistakes allowed two people to pass me right before the end of lap one putting me into fifth position overall.

Lucky for me, in lap two, Big gay Al (one of the two who passed me) dropped his chain so I was able to easily move past him so I moved back up into fourth, behind Gabe again. I had witnessed the now Adam (another passer) make a risky pass on Gabe a bit earlier, almost sending them both into trees so I vowed to make my pass as clean as possible.

the bum

Again, I waited patiently and finally saw an opening while we rounded Maine Sport's storage building. There was a bit of grass on the inside of the corner that I could sneak through. I didn't know what lurked beneath the grass (the building is surrounded by detritus) but I knew it was my only shot. We almost tangled as I passed him but I apologized profusely and went about trying to reel Adam and Rumsey in.

Adam and Rumsey just ahead

Starting our fourth and final lap, another single speeder, Ryan Littlefield, came flying around me before we re-entered the woods and quickly blasted by both Rumsey and Adam (I guess he figured out a way to pass in there) who were just in front of me. I believe I picked off Adam first because he was having shifting issues and Ryan pulled over to let me pass since he was totally gassed (Both he and Al train specifically for cross so tend to fade after an hour) so all I had left was Ryan up ahead.
The way Ryan has blasted past me I didn't expect to catch him but I gave it everything I had to see if I could and to distance myself from Rumsey who wasn't far back. The last thing I wanted was to be passed by a geared rider in the final, sprintable, section to the finish. Thankfully, I opened up a comfortable enough gap of 10-20 seconds and rolled across safely in 2nd.

eventual overall winner, Ryan on my wheel
Overall, I was pretty pleased with how the race went. I do believe that if I had gotten ahead of Gabe in the hole shot that I would have had a chance for a V but that's racing. He played the race to his strength just like any good competitor would. My fitness was good, not great, so I'm optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Next up, the Big Ring Rumpus. Hmmm, maybe I'd better get meself a big ring for this thing.

#1 In The Books
My first race of the season is in the books. What used to be MMBA #1 (before the MMBA disbanded after last season) the Maine Sport Mayhem took place on Sunday. I won't have time for a full report today (that'll have to wait til tomorrow) but I wanted to give a quick shout out to some people who made the race possible for me. First, thanks to Marcy for putting up with me and my pre-race angst, taking all of the pics you'll see today and tomorrow and for watching the spud while I rode around in almost circles. I'm working on not being a total douche before races but I'm sure I've got room to improve. Lucky for me, Marcy and B didn't get to the venue until I was staging for the start! Thanks to B for rooting me on and being my number 1 fan. And, finally, thanks to MadMike for putting on a kick ass race despite the lack of a series and another EFTA race happening the same day. With some creativity (he had a trail running race just prior to our race) he was able to have a successful day.

MadMike, 6 months into fatherdoom (oops, sorry fatherdom) and 1 week into lyme disease treatment.
Hey look, a smile on my face!
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time for a Nap

With the rest of the family down for the count with various illness' right now, I've opted to make this an uber easy week to try to fend off the sickness myself. This has meant no early morning runs or rides and more (8-9 hrs) of sleep. I'm still feeling a touch of a sore throat but hopefully that'll go away. Or, more likely, I'll keep it at bay until Saturday afternoon that way I'll have to either suffer like a dog through Sunday's race (I love how creative they got with the graphics!) or bag it altogether. Hopefully, with a couple of properly timed rides and lots of rest, the legs will be ready to rip come Sunday.

Tonight, the Bathers are coming to mi casa to tear up the Schmid preserve and then enjoy some bevvies while eating brats and guacamole. The weather looks to be primo with temps hovering in the high 70's and only a chance of passing T-storms. I'll take that in May anyday.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice. I've decided to reinstate my squirrel rating system on the RacinRick-alopolis. It had some steam back in the day but I let it slide. I won't be rating every ride but I will rate races and notable rides.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Saturday, in prep for this coming weekend's first mountain bike race (link), I headed to the race venue for a little course recon. The Maine Sport race course is a gem of a course giving riders a 3-4 mile loop in an area of less than 20 acres right outside of downtown (whoo-yeah!) Camden. Over the years, MadMike and crew have created an amazing complex of twisty, turny, rocky, rooty singletrack that never fails to please. One has to look no further than the big bermed chute to know that this race is fun.
bermy goodness

Unless it rains the day of or the day before the race that is. It never fails that I'll be raving to people about how awesome the course conditions are leading up to the race and then BOOM! it pours all Saturday night and the race turns into a mudfest. From what I heard, this was the exact case last year. I had extenuating circumstances that kept me from attending but it sounds like everyone who partook had to totally strip their bikes down after the race. Mud and grit was everywhere.

So, I busted out a couple of quick laps on the course trying to get my groove back and am pretty happy about my bike handling abilities on the course. My fitness will be wherever it is this weekend but at least I know I'll have fun on a kick ass course. AND, of course, the conditions are primo, everything is dry and there is only a bit of rain called for in the long range forecast so the trails will probably be a muddy mess.

not part of the race course but this is one of the many north shore style fun that can be had there. as you can imagine, I didn't even consider trying this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm Dragging Arse

An illness is sweaping through the family right now, I'm behind in work as a result of staying home with B yesterday and now I've got a scratchy throat so I'm going to keep this quick again. I had a fun filled weekend that was capped off with my last SIP training crit of the season. The crits only go one more week and I've got my first mountain bike race this coming weekend so this was to be it for me.

I had hoped to have better legs than at the last crit and felt pretty good during my warm-up. I told myself before the race that I'd try to take it easy towards the begining and conserve myself for a strong finish. Well, that plan went in the shitter pretty darn quick. After the first lap, a prime was announced and then there were several more (all for cash) within the first 10 laps of the 20 lap race. This meant that the pace was uber high the whole time and I actually found myself contesting a couple of them. I wasn't successful in either attempt but (because of a bit of bad luck and rookie-ism) I did manage to lead out one of the sprints.

All that added up to me suffering a bit to even stay in the group. I never dangled off the back but I did worry at a couple of points that it might happen. We've all had one of those days on the road when you're just sure that your brakes are rubbing right? Well, that was how I was feeling for most of the race but having stopped in the middle of a road ride way too many times only to find that it was all in my head I knew that this could not be the case. Think again. After I got home from the race and went to unload the bike to hook it up to B's trailer (we were riding to dinner)I noticed a serious amount of drag and saw that at some point my brake had been forced hard into the rim. I'm not sure how or when it happened but it sure does make me wonder. Maybe my "competition" was so intimidated that they felt like they needed to even the playing field. Hmmmm.

In the end, I had pretty good position going into the final sprint but faded with about 50m to go and watched about 25 guys blast past me. I did manage to pass the two women in the field though before sitting up. Yay me.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Race

I raced my road bike this weekend and like most races, it started out like this:

I'm way behind today so that's all for now.

Latah suckahs!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Could've Been Worse

Thursday's, as is now becoming fairly regular, have become my group mountain bike day in Bath and yesterday was no different. I was especially excited for this ride because I was back on the Selma and it's lock-outable and much more plushly squishy suspension fork AND tubeless tires. In actuality, I think it was the tubeless tires that I missed the most. At some point, I need to build my other wheels with some Stans rims.

The group was rolling large with 11 riders showing up to lay down. Of the 11 riders, it felt like 8 of them were on Santa Cruz's. Very weird. It was like a santa cruz love fest going on. Stupid KillBill and his convincing ways. He should be getting kickbacks from SC.

The ride started out well enough but it wasn't long before "issues" began to happen. First, KB ate shit on a fast downhill while trying to hop two logs. I was right up his ass and somehow managed to only get his pedal stuck in my front wheel as I grabbed every bit of brake I had before laying it down. My bike was good thankfully but KB f'ed up his rear shifting so that required some fiddling. Fast forward a bit and Gary took a swim in a stream crossing and bent his derailleur hanger which took some tweaking. THEN Anna cut her tire and I ended up helping her put a tube into a tire coated with stans fluid and mud. Nice, but at least she was able to ride out of the woods. Once I helped fix her tire I discovered that my tire had gone flat while we were sitting there. I also had Stans so I pumped it up and we rode on. Before long it became apparent that I had more of an issue than I though. Air was leaking out at the base of the valve stem. I tried to tighten it but it was toast (see pic at top of page) so a tube went in my tire as well. What the frig?

Finally, we had everyone rolling and made it back safely to enjoy a few brews.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's 'appening Again

Well, this early season hasn't been shaping up the way I had hoped. Overall, I've been getting in a decent amount of ride time with a decent amount of quality but I think (and next weekend's race will confirm for sure) that I'm not getting quite enough. So, in addition to starting a semi structured training plan I'm also now going back to my roots and getting up uber frickin early to squeeze in extra rides. I don't plan on doing any interval type stuff at 4 a.m. but tempo work and endurance is certainly a possibility. Probably the hardest part of this plan will be keeping Marcy from stapling my scrotum to the door frame because I keep waking her up even before the buttcrack of dawn.

Day 1 of the new plan was Tuesday. It sucked that the temps had dropped into the mid 30's and I had to dig out some of my cold weather gear but it turned into a pretty good ride and I'm sure there will be many more to come.

As my brother would say, this is my patented Rick Nelson pose. It's really more of a Jeff Kerkove but who am I to argue?
2/3's into the ride I came across some sweet fields with mowed "trails". I'd recently put some fatty fat fat 25mil tires on the road bike so I figured why not take it off road? Flat areas were fine but any slope had me zizzz, zizzz, zizzzing and struggling to put enough weight into the rear wheel to maintain traction on tires with absolutely zero tread. It was actually good training for climbing weight distribution.

I rode the trails until I came to this beaut. I may come back some time with my mtb to try this but that was a little too bumpy for me to try.
When I got back on the road I was hearing a constant scraping and found the culprit to be an accumulation of frost packed into the top of the fork.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Leave It To Me

So, after much bitching, whining, pissing, moaning and far too much wasted suspension oil I finally gave up on getting my fork lock-out working again, pulled it off the bike and took it to the shop yesterday. Through the rebuild, I had made the fork buttery smooth but no matter what I tried, the lock-out just didn't do anything. I was convinced that the damper was shot but hoped that I had simply flubbed something simple. Given the fact that I have my first race of the season coming up in a little over a week I was a bit worried about handing my boing stick over to the professionals. This is their busy time of year afterall and while they do take good care of me, I can't waltz in and demand immediate service. Thankfully, when I handed the fork to Zach and explained the problem, he calmly unscrewed the lock-out cable stop, pulled a bit more cable through, tightened the stop and viola! I had a lock-out. Just to be sure we're all clear on this. I can now totally rebuild a fork but I can't adjust a cable? What an idiot! Of course, we all knew this already.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let It Be Done

I've put off my yearly shave/wax post ritual, waiting to be hit in the head with the blunt end of divine inspiration. There had to be a good way to spin a post about it. In spring of 06 I did my first shaving post. It was simple and informative (a bit less so when I cropped the photos to avoid the awkward "near junk" shots). I then followed that up the with my first waxing post in aught-7 which, as you can imagine, was quite popular in certain transvestite circles. So, obviously, a simple how to post wouldn't suffice but, alas, no good ideas were coming to mind and given certain bloggers recent brilliance when it comes to grooming one's hair it was going to be tough to come up with an appropriate post.

To top it off, I've been picking up ticks with my tick strainer leg hair like crazy this spring and have had a few of the lime disease carrying beasties latched onto me recently and, AND! Marcy really digs me with shaved legs and has been asking repeatedly to get it done so it was time to git'er done.

Sunday night, B was taking a bath so we figured the time would never be better. Breaking with tradition, I let Marcy do the work this time around. Being a shaving pro and all, I figured she'd get it done lickity split.

Lather up the legs. Nice.

rinse and grab razor
gettin busy. careful of all the scrapes!

notice my daughter laughing at me. "Daaaaaad! It isn't bad enough that you were pink AND spandex around me, you have to shave your legs too???"

I swear, my legs never look any better scar wise. Damn, I need to fall less.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Is It a Sign?

After yet another epic fail on the fork front yesterday, I was moping around the house like a self loathing 13 year old girl. Eventually, Marcy got sick of it and sent me out for a ride knowing that there is no better way to improve my mood. I could have just found out I have terminal penis cancer and I'd still by a happy camper after a quick ride. The ride wasn't anything special, just a quick loop through the Schmid Preserve on the El, it was short at 1:18 and it was windy as a mother but it was just what this boy needed to be in a chipper mood the rest of the day.

Towards the beginning of the ride I noticed something drop out of the trees in front of me. I was in a pine forest so I assumed it was a pine cone. Upon further inspection I saw that it was actually a decapitated mole (pictured above). I couldn't decide whether it was a peace offering from my friend the hawk saying that we're finally cool despite out multiple encounters OR, it was a warning. Sort of a reverse horses' head in your bed warning from the mob. Being a positive person, I chose to believe that it was a peace offering, tucked the mole into my jersey pocket and headed out for the rest of my ride.

I used the ride to do a final check on the route that I take groups on. Last week, there was some banter from the Bathers about coming up to ride so I wanted to make sure everything was kosher and I'm happy to report that the trails are in fine condition and ready to rip.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Let's Do This
After last weekend's epic failure at rebuilding my fork (blogger even failed to post the photos) I did a bunch of searching for something turkey baster like that would allow me to actually get oil back into the fork lowers. If you're off by a ml than the fork will be shit so I was taking this seriously. A call to the shop got me thinking that a kids medicine syringe would be the ticket so off I went to Rite Aid and got what you see above. So now I can administer some recalled children's tylenol or rebuild my fork. I am McGuyver.

Now that I've got all the pieces and parts I'm going to try again this evening with KillBill and Zach from the shop (who actually knows how to do this) to get some schooling on the proper rebuild method. Wish me luck.

Given the fact that the selma has no fork, I busted out the rigid El Mariachi for last night's Bather ride. It pissed down rain the whole night before and most of the morning so I didn't have high hopes for the trail conditions but a few hours of sun and light wind left the trails in fine condition four our 2 hour ride. KillBill gave me some lessons on proper cornering (which is my absolute weak point) and I got lots of practice trying to keep up with someone on a full suspension geared bike while I'm on a rigid ss on very rocky rooty trails. I bottomed my tubed front tire out many times but thankfully had no flats.

During the ride I caught some ridicule for wearing knee warmers despite it being close to 70 degrees. I told everyone that I wear them to protect my knees. Because I'm a knee model. Well, a bit later in the ride I took a tumble striking a rock with my knee and ended up with this:
it's hard to see but that's a piece of knee meat right there.

Funny story. I found the hunk of knee meat inside of my knee warmers, showed everyone and then tossed it aside. Only then did I realize that I should have taken a picture so I had to search the ground for the discarded flesh. Luckily I found it and showed just how much of a blogging photo whore I really am. That story wasn't so much funny ha ha as it was funny sad.

Anyway, it appears my career as a knee model has come to an end. I guess I should have worn my padded knee warmers instead.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's 'appening

Well, I swore to myself that I wouldn't follow a structured training plan this season. I haven't had the mental fortitude to deal with it so far this season and I figured that one or two group rides a week plus a race on the weekend would be enough. Theoretically it would be but as usual, life and the weather has gotten in the way. So it's time for plan B. Plan A is still to fly by the seat of my pants but I'm going to throw some structure in so that when I'm forced to miss the all important group ride/race all won't be lost.

Argh, I'm already throwing up in my mouth a bit at the thought of road intervals. Ick.

Tonight is another attempt at a mtb ride with the Bathers. Of course, it was beautiful yesterday, will be beautiful again tomorrow but today? Well, today there is a ride planned so that can only mean one thing. Yep, predicted rain all day. The only up side is that the Bath trails handle the rain well and it's supposed to clear up before the end of the day. Finners crossed.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

This is for you ThomP

Stupid ThomP beat me to the punch yesterday by posting a pic of a nice water view through a wheel but that won't stop me. Nosiree bob. At least I'll give you the story behind the pic instead of just posting it up like a total douche and leaving us hanging.

The only thing worse than getting a flat tire on a road ride is getting a flat on a road ride when you're practically within sight of your house. This happened to me the other day. I was finishing up a two hour romp and was less than two miles from the house when I hit a square edged rock while crossing a bridge. Pinch flat city. To make things worse, I was on a bridge with barely any shoulder on route 1 with cars whipping by at 60+ mph. Good fun! So here I am, daintily prancing along in my carbon soled shoes and spandex clad ass trying to get off the bridge without damaging my shoes while manly, tattooed men in big trucks roared by at 13 miles per gallon. Thankfully, just after the bridge there was a good spot to do the change. A few minutes into the change (what can I say, I'm not the speediest flat changer. no nascar pit crew career in my future) I finally glanced up and saw this:

So let that be a reminder to you kiddies while you're out there churning out intervals to take a look around once in a while. Unless you ride in the boston suburbs in which case I'd just concentrate on getting my ass wherever I'm going.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


On Sunday I made it out for my first ride of the year at Bradbury State Park, our local mountain biking meca. It's not exactly moab or Kingdom Trails but it sure is sweet and from the reports that I had been getting, it was dry and fast! I had tentative plans to do the Scarborough crit on Sunday morning at 9 so I decided to hit Bradbury on my way down for my warm-up. Up at 5:15, fuel up and at the park by 6:30. My first half hour was a "warm-up" on the O trail. For non locals, the O trail is a super twisty, turny, technical and sketchy in areas suffer fest. It's only positive attribute is that it's on mostly flat terrain so at least you're not doing it all up hill, both ways, in a blinding snowstorm, barefoot... I suck on this trail and running a hardtail singlespeed means that I don't get to sit for the entire time. There are just too many turns and obstacles to negotiate to be able to stay seated. This is the type of trail that I actually wish I had a geared full suspension bike. So, like I said, I suck on the trail but I do kinda, sorta enjoy it in a masochistic sort of way. Plus, I hope that by riding it enough that I'll eventually stop sucking at it. Probably not.

After my warm-up, I met up with my buddies Kev, Scott and Bill for another hour of riding before I'd have to jet for the crit. Before long, I was having so much fun that I totally bagged the crit idea and, instead, stuck around for a total of 2:45 of single track bliss.



Three bikes, three sets of Ergon grips. Maybe my sponsorship is actually paying off...