You perverted nipple gazers. Crazy busy the last couple of days but I should have some good things to write about next week with all of the Fat Tire Festival festivities and such happening this weekend. Keep the rubber side down.
Yesterday, through some cosmic alignment, Marcy and I were blessed with a small window of opportunity to go for a mountain bike ride together. The first time in 2-3 months. We jumped at the chance, loaded up the gear and sprinted for the Camden Snow Bowl. I'm pre-riding it as much as possible so that I know this weekend's race course by heart and Marcy's considering racing for the first time in, I don't know 7? (except, of course for last year's bradbury 12. thanks Rus) years so it would be good for me to get to know the course better and good for her to help settle her nervous stomach.
We had a great ride in near perfect conditions (dry and 75 non humid degrees). The opening climb was mostly uneventful other than me realizing that the full loop is crazy for the novice class this weekend. Way too much walking on the up AND down. They're schedule to do a full loop plus one short loop. In my, and Marcy's opinion, three short loops would be much better since they are totally rideable by an experienced novice and would make things much more fun for people thinking of getting into the sport. I'll have to get Mike, the race promoter, on the horn.
**note** all photos are a bit grainy since I'm still shooting without the benefit of knowing what I'm getting, what I may or may not be zooming into, if the shot came out etc. **
The climb was mostly uneventful but the downhill got pretty interesting. Marcy rode a few sections that I never thought she would (at least not the first time on the trail) and, more importantly, she rode and re-rode the section of trail that dislocated/broke/severed the ligaments in her ankle years back (thus the long gap in racing).
photo op at the top.
stupid ankle section. why is it that you always hurt yourself worst on seemingly easy sections of trail?
Slightly below the top, a tricky rock strewn, slightly eroded, tricky as hell drop that she nailed.
Then, shortly after that, just before another nasty section, she clips a tiny stump and ends up with bike art. Like I said, you never know when you're going to eat shit.
Imagine if you will, it's a gloomy night. It's been raining like crazy with occasional claps of thunder. The rain came after dusk so I assumed that the chickens had already retreated to their coop. Before bed, I glance out the front door and see the six chickens huddled against the side of the house, terrified and trying to stay dry. I'm only in my boxers and it's raining like a mother but I decide to forgo a coat and just slip on some well worn crocs instead and run outside to bring them in. I catch the first chicken, clutching her carefully so I don't harm her and head down the gravel hill towards the back of the house and the coop. Before I know it, my gripless crocs were sliding in the mud. My actions couldn't have been more perfect if they were in a movie. Both feet went out from under me as I tossed the chicken in the air and landed squarely on my right ass cheek in the mud. There was no time to waste though and I completed my task and got inside to survey the damage:
why, yes, those ARE martini glasses. I'm 100% high class.
You know how some weeks start out really well, you get a good ride in early on and you expect great things for the week? Well, that was me last week. Tuesday I hit the Brunswick road ride, suffered like a dog for three hours and felt content knowing that I'd be hitting another three hours at the Camden Snow Bowl on Thursady and then another ride or two on the weekend bringing me to a solid 8-10 hours for the week. That WOULD be good if it actually happened that way. Because of one thing or another my Camden ride got pushed back until, finally, on Friday I made it over. In the lot I ran into Trevor, a blog lurker and almost never commenter, who had strategically timed his ride to avoid running into me not knowing that the sunny day and Friday-ness of the day had me sneaking out of the office early to get my riding fix.
I conned Trevor into riding with me which was a good thing because I was riding on my newly mounted Racing Ralphs and had forgotten my pump. In the lot, the front tire was perfect but the rear tire was a bit slack so I added more with the floor pump I always carry in the car. Immediately onto the trail, the front tire started to get slack and I was forced to bum a pump off trevor to fill it up twice before the top of the climb. I topped off again at the top and hoped, hoped that the tire would be fine for the long downhill. I was already a bit "off" because I was riding new tires and had forgotten my gloves but I tried to put those things out of my head during the plunge down the front side of the mountain. Immediately, things felt weird so I told Trevor that my ride plan had just changed from four race loops to a single loop since things didn't feel right and it's never smart to ride like that. Not two minutes later, as I was taking a tight hairpin downhill turn, I burped the front tire and supermanned it onto the trail ahead of me. Did I mention that I wasn't wearing gloves? Well, the two reasons I like gloves is that they keep my grip on the bars secure (no sweat to grease things up) and for over the bar falls when your hands hit first. To add insult to injury, my left hand was already sporting two abrasions from an episode of chicken/thunder storm rescue the night before (story tomorrow) and, AND I smashed my camera that was residing in my new baggy shorts, got my new shorts dirty and stove up my leg. Drat.
I tried airing the tire up one more time, burped it immediately, threw in the towel and walked to the bottom of the mountain. FAIL! That was close to two hours of driving for a 40 minute ride and 10 minute walk. Yippee!
I couldn't see what was on my camera but I was able to snap a pic of Trevor as he rode off into the sunset.
Saturday, I spent a bunch of time messing with my tires, adding more stans, shaking them like Michael J Fox and airing them up again and on Sunday went out for a quick spin to make sure things were cool. Thankfully, they seem to be now.
Ralph's in their natural environment.
My new Mavic shorts. Review to come.
Tonight, Monday, I'm going to try the Bowl again. The race there is this weekend so I need a few "get to know you laps" before Sunday. If you don't hear from me by morning, send help.
Note: all photos in this post were taken without the luxury of a camera screen. They are all taken blind and, somehow, look no worse (possibly better) than my usual pics. maybe things aren't all bad...
After much hemming and hawing, I've decided to make the switch from my beloved Panaracer Rampages to Schwalbe Racin Ralphs as my race treads for the remainder of the season. If my calculations are correct (Hill Junkie, can you confirm these?) by losing roughly 200 grams of weight per tire I'll be 14.3% faster over the course of a 1.5-2 hour race making my finish times 8-12 percent faster. By those numbers, I would have mopped up the entire expert field at the Horron on Harding Hill and made the elite winner, Matt Okeefe, drink from my saturated chamois. Why didn't I do this sooner?
Tire 1. Taaaahhhhh daaaaahhhh!
The Racing (racin) Ralph's (rick's) mounted up extremely well tubeless, not needing any fussing or swearing to get the initial seal (me likey) and only a few minutes of convulsive shaking to get the final seal (again, me likey). Things were so quick that I was done with the front wheel in less than 5 minutes which is probably about the same amount of time it would take me to change a tube (yah, I'm not too quick at tube changes. sue me!).
adding my secret sauce
KillBill told me that the Racing Ralphs were the biggest tires on the 29'er market but I must say, the rampage's are close.
Ralph's on the left, Rampage's on the right.
A match made in heaven. Even the name works. Who is this Ralph and what makes hm so special?
I'll be trying the new tires out tomorrow night when I pre-ride the course for the next race, the Camden Snow Bowl Run Off. It's not shown on the flyer but this year, the Run Off is combined with the Fat Tire Festival which included (among many other things) a short track race on Saturday. A two-fer weekend. Who can resist? More info to come!
After my less than stellar showing at the Horror (how is is that I was only 3 spots back overall from my last race but I feel shitty when I was stoked about the last race? stupid competitiveness) and my lack of power I decided the best thing I could do would be to hit up the Tuesday Brunswick ride and get two hours of power work in. Mission accomplished. KillBill (damn him) and I made our pre-ride over just in time to catch a good size group rolling out. We had both decided to take it easy for the first half of the ride. Me? I was licking my ego wounds from Sunday while KillBill was licking his actual puncture wounds from Sunday so taking it easy seemed like a good idea. But, of course, group rides are where good ideas go to die. First, KillBill took a couple of massive pulls at the front then I took a couple of not quite so massive pulls at 32 mph and BAM! I was hurtin. I was smart enough to take it easy on the hills though. For once I hit the hills slow and finished strong as opposed to my typical hill approach of going ballz out and then dieing a thousand deaths trying to finish first at the top. This would pay dividends towards the end of the ride when I (for once) wouldn't get shelled out the back. Meanwhile, KillBill was also having a good day and managed to snag the final sprint at over 40 mph (I barely held onto the 37mph lead out). All in all, a good day.
Oh yeah, I don't think I've mentioned it but when the registration opened for the VT50, I tried to register just for a lark knowing full well that most seasons the 650 spots fill up within hours. I signed in to register a bit late but was amazed to actually get a spot so I guess this is the year. I'll finally be doing the 50. It's a race that I've always wanted to do but never thought of registering in time. I guess I need to thank fomer teammate Andrew Freye and his well timed e-mail for prompting me to give resistration a try. Now, if I can just figure out how to race fast for more than 1:15. Hmmm, this may be tough.
This Sunday was the annual Horror on Harding Hill Road mountain bike race. After pre-riding the course I couldn't see why it had the name that it does. The course wasn't particularly technical. In fact, it was pretty darn easy. It didn't have a whole lot of climbing, only a few climbs early in the lap that were at max 2-3 minutes long each. Huh, how horrible could this be?
By race time I was a bit late getting to the line but thankfully, because of staging procedures and a starting line wide enough for at least 20 people I was able to snag a spot in the middle of the front row. Because we were mass starting I knew I wanted a good start up the newly mowed field start so when the gun went off, so did I and somehow, within a few seconds I found myself ahead of the rest of the field but I didn't want to be at the very front with 5 minutes of carriage road type riding at the beginning of the lap so I eased up and let four folks past as we entered the course.
My biggest fans.
I held onto the four for the first 10 minutes but once we hit the climbs I knew I was out classed and had to let them ride away. I was feeling good and ripping the short single track sections like no one's business but not setting the world on fire in the power and climbing sections. By the end of lap one, Brian Currier came by me. Brian handily kicked my ass at the Rumpus so I wasn't concerned but I wanted to hold his wheel which I managed to do through most of the second lap.
Towards the end of lap two I had lost all of my mental faculties and even had to ask Marcy and Amanda what lap I was on after lap two. Yep, things didn't look good. I was still in fourth overall (I had passed one of the early leading three) but I knew trouble was ahead so I downed my entire hammer gel flask and soldiered on. During lap three, a dude who passed me in the fast sections on lap two only to have me fly by on the tech stuff passed me again blazing ahead on the climbs only to have me real him in during each single track section. This would continue for the rest of the race. Almost.
On my last lap I was hurting. Bad. I was unable to push the pace at all on the climbs. On multiple occasions I tried to make a last lap surge only to have my cramping quads shut me down. Early in the lap, the eventual expert s2 winner passed me and jokingly chastised me for not pushing the pace since I handily outsprinted him at the rumpus but, sadly, I had nothing to give. I held onto him and two others until about a mile from the end but at that point I had lost all hope of my power coming back and just pushed on hoping to not lose any more spots.
Also during that last lap, I saw KillBill catching up to me on one of the earlier climbs. That did light a bit of a fire in me because even if I wasn't contending for the overall expert win I could still take home some Midcoast Maine total domination points. I pushed on and somehow lost him (I later found out that he had a nasty crash shortly after bringing me into sight) until less than a minute from the end when he came blazing up to me. I tried for about 3 seconds to hold him off but had to give in and he passed me right before popping into the field and the finish. Drat.
In the end I was 3rd in expert vet 1 and 8th overall. Not bad really but not what I had hoped.
Sorry, no time for a proper race report today from The Horror at Harding Hill. That'll come tomorrow but I will give you a quick rundown. The weekend was awesome. The fam and I headed over to New Hampster Saturday morning, got a campsite and Marcy and B went to the pool while I hit up two laps on the race course. Lap one left me despising the course but I actually somewhat enjoyed it on the second lap. A good warm-up is key to experience I guess. This is not a course that I'd ever go to just to ride but for a race it seemed ok. There was, however, lots of smooth-ish, long power sections followed by climbs. Uh oh, that's really not my thing this year.
One of the open-ish climbs. I never did get any pics of the many skidder roads.
and a bit of nice single track. not quite enough though.
back at camp, Marcy headed over to ride the course while B and I did a bit more swimming and made dinnah over the fire and then stories by the Coleman light.
6:15, bright and early, B was ready to hit the pool. Too bad it didn't open until 9 and we had to be at the race venue at 8:30. :(
As I've mentioned about a bazillion times this summer, my riding hours suck, big time, and one of those reasons is that I've gone away from one of my tried and true methods of creating time. Getting up BEFORE the buttcrack of dawn. Well, this morning I did just that. The prospects of a ride after work were nil with Marcy's cousin coming to town so I sucked it up, set the alarm for 4:30 and hit me some single track in the Schmid Preserve. I wouldn't say that the ride set the world on fire, it was more like trying to burn wet rags, but a ride is a ride and it loosened my legs up so that they won't be tree stumps for the race this weekend (hopefully at least).
I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but we've gone all Green Acres and gotten us some chickens. They're surprisingly cool to have actually, but they are a total pain in the ass when you have a nice entry porch that wasn't really designed for chicken shit. Or the chickens eating all of Marcy's fabulously designed english garden plants. Those little bastards get up on the deck every morning with a newspaper and cut some weight. If they weren't so cute and friendly I'd be temped to do a little kick the baby with them.
Ok, nuff nonsense. I've actually got a race this weekend so I'll have something real to blog about come Monday. Yay me!
On Tuesday, instead of heading to Brunswick to cry on the side of the road, Kevin convinced me to mountain bike in Edgecomb instead so he and Gary joined me for an after work romp. We hit up most of what the local trails had to offer (even a few that I "tricked" them into riding to show their promise and to beat in the under used trails) and ended up with 2:20 of ride time, gallons of sweat from the swamp ass conditions and a good excuse to grill up some brats and drink some beers.
Gary 1, Kevin 2.
are you kidding me with this?
My semi thought out plan seemed to work with Gary suggesting we get a few guys out for a trail day. At first I suggested next summer but rethought that since I don't wan't to look gift trail help in the mouth (does that make any sense? what am I talking about? Looking a gift horse in the mouth makes no sense either) and offered to buy a bunch of beer for anybody who I can coax out.
I also saw something that I'd never seen before. The deer flies are at their max capacity right now so we were all doused in bug spray which did a reasonable job of keeping them at bay but towards the end of the ride, the flotilla of flies finally began to defeat our outer defences and made skin contact but, to their dismay, many met an untimely demise by drowning in the arm sweat on both Gary and Kevin. Unbelievable. Sweaty bastards.
This season has been totally different from what I expected. Last summer was crazy with house building, lots of work and little riding but I still managed to do OK in the maine xc series and in a couple of endurance races. This summer was supposed to see a slight change in focus from xc to endurance but that hasn't happened thus far but I'm ok with that. Somehow, despite abysmal riding hours I've still done pretty well in the xc races I've toed the line at thus far. Sadly, though, I've had to bag some races that I had originally hoped to do. The Wilderness 101 just isn't doable this year because of time and expense, I bailed on the Pat's Peak 6hr race this past weekend because I had to prep the house for a contractor coming on Monday and I've decided to do an off road tri instead of the upcoming Hampshire 100 just because I want to try something new to shake things up.
Am I griping? Nope. Actually, I'm pretty happy with how the season has shaped up. Am I bummed that I missed Pat's Peak and Thom's meteoric rise to enduro fame and fortune? Sure, but I can't complain. I've done some new, fun races, met some folks I've been bloggie with for a few years and generally milked my tepid fitness to it's fullest.
This weekend, we're back in New Hampster for the next installment in the EFTA series, Horror at Harding Hill. We're not saying that we're camping yet because every time we do that it rains like a mofo so we'll just say we're going to New Hampster this weekend. Maybe we'll have a tent and sleeping bags, maybe not.
Too little riding is making Ricky a fat ass boy. Not as fat as mr b.r. but fat-non-the-less. I had super duper grand plans for lots-o riding over the weekend. Unfortunately (fortunately) our foundation contractor agreed to show up on monday to parge our icf's so instead of mucho riding I did mucho preping on the house so that Monday would go off without a hitch. Money in the bank.
Tomorrow night, some of the Bathers and a Falmouther descend on Edgecomb to enjoy what the local trails have to offer. and they offer a lot, let me tell you. First, there are deer flies galore! Then there is the mud from yesterday's all day rains. and let's not forget the mid summer trail neglect with the encroaching weeds et all. Yeah, it's going to be a blast! Hopefully Marcy will take pity on our sad souls and make us some tasty burritos upon our not so glorious return. Marcy makes some seriously delish burrittos b.t.w.
Morning edit: I just did my first bike commute in something like three weeks. Where does the time go? Apparently, it goes into driving to rides recently to try to get fast and not live my life as a friendless hermit. Thankfully, I now feel like I have more than enough friends so maybe some more commuting and less driving to ride are in order. Maybe.
As I was laying awake at 3:15 this morning, my mind somehow drifted into the world of single speed vs. geared racing. In reality, I shouldn't be surprised that my mind drifted there. Ever since putting gears on my Selma for the Big Ring Rumpus I've been trying to decide when to take them back off. To be honest, if I were still racing in the Maine EFTA series, the gears would be off now since that series didn't rely on ski resort type races so while every race had climbing, it typically wasn't super steep and long ski slope climbs. The real EFTA series, though, seems to have more ski area races and thus, lots of nasty climbing. Maybe I'm getting old and soft but I just don't feel like fighting a single speed up most of those climbs. So I've been hemming and hawing about taking the gears off. I want them off but I think that I'm faster (this year at least) with gears than not. So, I guess for now at least, I'll be leaving the gears on and just take them off for the Bradbury 12 in September.
Actually, after perusing the EFTA site just now, I guess they don't have all that many ski area races, it's just my perception that has changed and I'm a big weenie boy.
Somehow, miraculously, over the holiday weekend I was able to get a solid training block in. Thursday night was close to 3 hours riding with the boys at Aggie, Friday and Saturday were all about family time and then Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I got solid 2.5-3 hour road rides in with Tuesday's ride being the Brunswick kick to the teeth.
There is something about that ride. I hate it with a passion and don't look forward to doing it but when it's done, I'm happy that I made the effort. Kind of like racing. I have very few actual enjoyable moments while racing but the satisfaction afterwards makes it all worth while. How many of us have done a 6, 12 or 24 hour race, suffered like a dog and swore to never do it again only to find themselves toeing the line again shortly later. The human brain is an amazing thing.
The ride this week lacked a couple of the heavy hitters but it was still strong enough that I occasionally had to take short pulls to keep from getting shit out the back of the group. By the time KillBill and I got back to the shop (we did a 10 mile warm-up and cool-down) we clocked 3 solid hours and my legs felt like complete jell-o. Perfect.
So, whats the photo at the top you might ask? It's a cool little nest I found at a house we're building and I was checking out as part of my new job. Actually, new job isn't entirely accurate but I have received a promotion of sorts at the ole mill stone with lots more responsibility, a bit more authority and, so far at least, no increase in pay! Yay for me! Negotiations are under way... (see there? I snuck a little work into the blog, the trifecta is complete)
Last Thursday, as part of our July 4 weekend, we headed down to york for a friend's beach house, riding, beaching, zooing etc. First up once there was a ride at Mount Aggie. I've only ridden there once myself but was impressed with the amount of terrain and trails. I believe back then, we rode 3-ish hours and didn't hit all of the trails on the mountain side of the road. This time, we were shooting for 3 hours on the north side of the road. We had two guides, Billy and Danz. Sadly, they both felt compelled to bring their gps units in order to be able to guide us. These are guys who ride aggie on a fairly regular basis and they still get turned around. Apparently, that's par for the course at aggie. Everybody gets lost.
3 hours of some beautiful and fun trails and approximately 15 gps checks later we made it back to the cars and beer while hitting the exact loop that they were shooting for. Victory! I guess...
Danz and Billy "consulting" their units.
Not to be outdone, Marcy got up early on Saturday and hit up a road ride with KillBill's s.o. Amanda
There are going to be big, big changes around these parts. I've made the bold decision to merge my two blogs (that, by the way would be a great 50's sitcom. If they knew what blogs or the internet was.) into one gloriously, riveting and dashingly handsome super blog. My thinking goes like this. DamNelsons really no longer makes any sense since we no longer live in Damariscotta. The name is no longer clever and it's a tinsy bit vulgar. To top it off, facebook has become Marcy's go to place for posting photos of Brynna while chumming for compliments so it's use was a bit redundant anyway. Over in these here parts, I often lament that work and family (and being a good dad) get in the way of being a super hero mountain bike racer and blogging superstar so I figured it was high time to include them over here to some extent. Don't worry, this won't be all about diaper changes (Brynna is, thankfully, out of diapers but my parents are retiring so maybe they'll soon be back IN them) and runny noses but if something interesting happens in other aspects of my life than you'll hear about it here. I'm not too worried about losing readers as a result of these format changes because, let's face it, it's mostly family that reads this crap anyway.
With that behind us, bring on the July 4th holiday weekend! I actually did ride quite a bit during our 4 day weekend but that'll come later. I figured today was the day to start the new routine. First up on the family front was a visit to York's Wild Kingdom. Brynna is a timid las but we were able to get her to feed some animals and ride the rides.
C-dog (that's what I'm calling Channing now) and I being good dads while talking about sports and stuff so that onlookers don't think we're gay lovers.
Then, for the fourth, we hit up the fireworks in Damariscotta. There was dancing, people watching, bug feeding and, of course, fireworks.