Tuesday, May 31, 2011

no time or inclination to write today but we did have a fabulous holiday weekend and I did ride my bike.  Twice actually.  Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Dirty

I'm in the midst of my biggest riding week of the year right now.  Still not exactly mind blowing miles or hours but pretty good for this poor schlub and enough hours to leave me feeling pretty beat during the Bathers ride last night. 

Since I have been having such a good week (and my legs are tired already) I've decided to forgo my morning runs with the pooch and do trail work instead.  As you may know, I marked out a couple of new trails over the winter and had intended to be working on them right now but this spring I spied a new potential route that was going to be at least as fun to ride and way the frick easier to build so I've turned my attention to the low hanging fruit.  Now, after multiple passes with the loppers, some brush clearing and some raking, I'm getting dangerously close to being able to ride it.  A pass with the weed whacker in spots, some bench cuts and a bit more raking and it will be done.  By the end of the long weekend?  Hopefully.

this section has green growy things that I need to remove but looking good


some bench cuts needed here.  but doesn't that look fun???

ginormous oak tree that the trail passes under.  I wonder
how much I could get for that sucker?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting There

Before the race season started, I set a goal weight of 185 lbs.  A weight that I last hit in high school when I was working my ass off to gain weight.  If you asked anyone who went to high school with me, they would say that I was skinny as a rail.  It was not a goal that I actually expected to hit but this morning, for the first time, I hit the magic number.  I got on and off the scale three times (and even had Marcy come and confirm) to be sure it was correct.  I then ran downstairs to grab the camera and magically gained .6 lbs.  Fuck the universe!

On another note, last night I made it out for the Wednesday night road ride in Brunswick.  The turn out was wicked (that's Mainer for "really") weak with only three of us showing but we did our best to turn ourselves inside out anyway and leaving me thoroughly trashed for tonight's bather ride.  Perfectamundo. If nothing horrific happens between now and Sunday, I'm on pace for my highest mileage week of the year (which means that tomorrow's post will be made from my hospital bed...)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weeping Ricky

Sunday was my first "real" race of the season.  Weeping Willow in Ipswich Mass.  This was to be the race that told me just how pathetic my training attempts had been this spring.  To be honest, I expected I'd be able to hang near the front, it was just a question of how near.  Mike, Kara and I made the trek down early Sunday morning and found the trails to be pretty freakin sweet (see photo of Mike above).  Ribbons upon ribbons of fast, flowy singletrack with double track sections interspersed so that there were passing opportunities.  Pretty much an awesome place for a race.  Unfortunately, Mike and I were a bit uninformed when we went out for a full lap pre-ride before the race.  We thought that we were doing three 7 mile laps but it turned out that we would be doing 2 10 mile laps.  That meant that what started out as a good pre-ride with plenty of time to do final prep afterwards turned into a mad dash to get to the line in time for the start.

I nabbed a front row starting position and found myself third wheel as we entered the 1-something mile opening double track first section of trail.  Perfect positioning.  Sadly, the first guy over cooked the very first corner and the second guy fumbled on a short climb so I quickly found myself in the lead.  Not what I wanted.  I like to stay near the front at the beginning of races but not on the front since I'm a bit of a slow starter.  So, I soon sat up and let three guys rocket past me right before the first single track section.

mad dash at the start
When we entered the single track I immediately knew I had a problem.  My rear tire was feeling a bit squishy.  I assumed that it was still just a bit soft from letting air our in the pre-ride so I continued hammering on.  Soon, the super fast cornering that the course allowed became a problem as my rear tire was losing purchase on all of the corners.  KillBill passed me at somewhere around the 8 minute mark and I kept him in my sights for another 10 minutes before I finally had to stop to figure out what was going on with my ever deteriorating rear tire.

I jumped off the bike to assess the situation and soon found that I had slit my sidewall on a rock in the opening double track section.  The stans was trying valiantly to seal it but it wasn't holding no matter how much tire shaking, adding air, and swearing I did.  Soon, I was out of co2 and decided to add a tube.  What should have been a quick fix turned into a jittery, messy, fuckity fuck fuck of a time.  First, I couldn't get the stupid nut off of the stans valve and then, when I did manage to get it off, there was so much stans in the tire (newly mounted tire = ricky adding TONS of stans for good measure) that getting the bead back on was a nightmare.  My nerves weren't helping either.  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (and turns out to be 16 freaking minutes when I look at my gps info) I was back on the trail and hauling ass.

The rest of the first lap and 1/3 of the way into the second I had a fire in my belly and a desire to make amends but after a while I realized that I was only catching the multitudes of sport riders who had gone past during my stop and almost no experts so my pace dropped to a fast but not quite race fast pace.

I considered bailing since I was so far back but the course was far too fun to do that and I needed the training so I stayed out and ripped it up as much as my mojo would let me and ended up finishing 20th in our class and 23 minutes off the pace.  Bah humbug!

post flat.  still having fun

KillBill, meanwhile was out there killing it, taking over the lead and winning by about a minute.  Stupid, I just started racing expert so I think I'm royalty, Alby also put in an impressive race taking third overall on the day.

KillBill on his way to the big V

Mikey boy also had a solid race coming in about 8 minutes off the wining pace.  Not bad considering the top expert finishers times would have put them in the upper half of the elite field.

My brother, Rus, also made it out for his first race in what looks like ages.  No racing for a few years added to EFTA's silly rule of not being able to drop a class meant that he was racing in the expert class.  I think he had fun, but based on his facebook posts, it might not have been.

Mike showing off the spoils of a hard ride.  Treating ourselves to Otto's pizza on the way home.

Sadly, I can only blame myself for my dismal race result.  KillBill had TOLD me to get the snakeskin version of the Racin Ralph but I opted for the slightly lighter no snake skin version instead and it cost me the race.  Would I have won?  Hell-freakin-no but looking at the times I most likely would have been in the top 3-4.  Ah well, there's always the next race...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Evacuate!  Evacuate!

Anybody who races is well aware of the pre-race jitters that one gets.  The good ole nervous stomach, necessitating "cutting weight" several times before each race.  I think we all have a love hate relationship with our stomachs on race day.  Thankfully, after racing for many years, my stomach does pretty well unless it's been a long time since my last race, it's a really big race or a race format that I'm not used to.  It's always funny though to be witness to novice racers and their internal/external debate.  I'm not going to name names but a certain someone who may or may not live in the Nelson household is considering racing at Weeping Willow this weekend and let's just say the nervous process has begun.  "Should I race this weekend or should I stay home?  Do you think I can do a whole lap?  (bathroom break) What do you think?"

I don't know where he/she will land on his/her decision about this weekend but I sure am enjoying being a witness to the show.

See you on Sunday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Out With The Old

For last weekend's race, I was running a set of my trusty Panaracer Rampage 2.35's.  Good all-round tires but a bit portly and not quite sharp enough in the corners for my taste.  Thusly (don't think I've ever used this apparently made up word according to blogger even though I've heard many people more intelligent than I use it...) a purchase of a new set of Racin Ralphs was in order since my others were getting thread bare in the side wall region.  Too bad too because the tread was still good.  To avoid the quick side wall wear this time around, I purchased tubeless ready RR's.  Slightly beefier sidewalls (and a bit more weight) should mean that these babies will keep me rolling for a while.

I mounted them up the night before the Wednesday night worlds in cape elizabeth this week so I was a bit apprehensive that things would go well. 

Once upon a time my work bench was clean.  Do you believe in fairy tales?

all mounted up and ready to rip.

Thankfully, I've done enough stans tubeless setups at this point to have had a powerful compressor on hand.  With luck on my side  the installs went smoothly and I can happily report that I didn't burp or roll a tire the whole time I was crossed eyed with effort last night. VICTORY! I did witness one spectacular crash by my buddy Mike though.  On one of the many slick, pt bridges, Mike got a bit sideways, headed for the side of the bridge  and tried to ride his bike off the side to save it.  Thankfully for us spectators, he was unsuccessful and landed face first in a muddy, stagnant pond.  He'll be checking for open sores and ringworm for the next few days...

Now onto happier days.  Last week, when people still believed in the sun, this is what the Maine Mayhem course looked like.  Sure does look purty doesn't it?

and this is what it looked like after a day of rain.

sorry, didn't have an actual pic of the sloppy sections of the trail...
suffice it to say that the trails went from beautiful to slick as rhino snot in 3.7 flat.  Just like it does every year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No. 1 In The Books

It seems like forever since I last threw a leg over my mountain bike to race (8 months actually) and it was high freakin time to throw down.  Anybody who comes here regularly knows that I was having an internal (ok, not so internal) debate about which race to do over the weekend.  Do I do the local race that MadMike puts on that is sure to be fun but is likely to have a low turnout or drive to hell and back (RI) for the Glocester Grind?  In the end, I opted for the family friendly local race.  The Maine Mayhem course is tight and technical.  Over the years Mike has been able to work somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 miles of sweet singletrack into an area the size of your local Wal Mart's parking lot.  It's a great venue for spectators since if you hang in one particular spot you can see racers pass five times on each lap. 

The turnout, as expected, was low with only a handful of experts on the line.  My main competitor for the day would be Mike Roy, a local bud of mine who knows the trails well and has been getting tons of hard road miles in (at least compared to me). 

rockin the new kit
There was a bit of confusion in the start chute with Mike and I going down a short dead end (where the race went last year) but we were quickly back on track and entered the woods 1 & 2.  Mike was drilling it from the start and I quickly lost his wheel as we headed through the first half of the course.  I was trying not to panic but I couldn't help some negative thoughts from creeping into my head.  Thoughts like, "I haven't riden enough for this" or "shit, I don't like to hurt like I used to"...Those thoughts continued through my head until Mike had opened about a 20 second lead by the halfway point of lap one.  This was where I passed my family for the first time since the start and the largeish group of people put a bee in my bonnet and I set out to pull Mike in (maybe my legs were warming up finally). 

Mike leading the charge

The next time we passed the fam (5-ish minutes later) I had reeled Mike in and was dangling just off his back wheel.  He seemed to be a bit faster on the first part of the course which is a bit tighter and I seemed to be faster on the faster second half of the course (maybe that's a 26" vs. 29" thing).  We finished up lap one exactly as we had started it with Mike in first and me right behind.

B cheering me on when she wasn't paying more attention to the dog that was there...

Shortly into lap two, Mike asked if I wanted to lead for a bit.  I wasn't sure if Mike was gassed and looking to take it a bit easy or if he wanted to see what lines I was using or if he was being just plain nice (this IS racing isn't it???).  The truth was, I wasn't sure if I could ride any faster than Mike's pace but if you're leading you can take advantage of your competitor's mistakes on this course so I accepted his gracious offer and went about trying to shake him from my wheel.

It wasn't long before I was convinced that Mike had let me pass so that he could figure out my weaknesses on the course because he was sticking to me like glue.  Finally, 2/3's of the way into lap two (of four) I heard the tell tale sound of either a mechanical or riding mishap happen behind me so I wasted no time and drilled it as hard as I could (beyond a sustainable pace) for a few minutes to try to open up a reasonable gap.  Just enough that it MIGHT make it hard for Mike to muster the energy to give chase. 

hitting the berm at speed is super fun
I opened up a gap of somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds and just tried to maintain a fast but reasonable pace.  One fast enough that Mike wouldn't reel me in but conservative enough that I didn't bust my face on the many, many nasty, off camber, rooty, rocky, muddy turns.  One fall would mean that Mike was back with me so that wasn't an option.

When lap four finally rolled around I had what I figured was a good enough lead to win if I didn't do anything stupid and if my drivetrain held together.  The combination of mud and a shit ton of pine needles had made my drivetrain sound like I was grinding granite into pumice.  Things seemed to be working fine but the noise was horrific and unnerving.  Thankfully, things held together though and I rolled across the line in first and claimed my $60 prize (6x the measly $10 race fee!) for the day. 

I TOWER over my competition (or at least it looks that way in this picture)

Single chainring jambed completely full of muddy pine needles
Next up Weeping Willow.

Monday, May 16, 2011


The first race for 2011 is in the books and things went well.  How well?  Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow for that.  For now you can enjoy a picture of my father and B dueling with sticks during yesterday's rainy, muddy race.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Honestly, who goes for a morning run and comes back with a nasty puncture wound?  Only a dumbass would fall bad enough while running to potentially require stitches.  I was that stupid person this morning.  While on my morning jog with the mutt, I was running along, minding my own business, saying hi to the birds and bunnies and helping little old ladies cross the trail when, out of nowhere I kick a small embeded rock and fall in a nice mossy area.  (how'd you like that run on sentence?) There should have been no issue but, apparently, there was a pokey little stick hiding in the moss somewhere that managed to drive itself between the calf meat and skin on my right leg.  Yeah, it hurt a smidge.  Not as much as it hurt scrubbing it out in the shower though.  Marcy had to close the bedroom door while she did her hair because my screaming was making her uncomfortable...

do flaps of skin make you queezy?  what if I told 
you Marcy had to pull it back this morning to get the trail 
debris out from under it?  would that do it?

This kinda makes me wish I had shaved my legs last weekend like I was supposed to.  With all the tape Marcy put on the bandage this morning it's going to hurt just as much tonight as it did this morning.  At least it didn't go INTO my calf though.  That would have been much worse.  "It's just a flesh wound!" 

To add insult to injury, I'm pretty sure that my new next door neighbor heard the fall and the ensuing manly screaming since I was right next to the road when it happened and once we popped out of the woods they (he and his dog) were right there.

Hopefully things heal up a bit before this weekend's race which is supposed (at least for now) to be a slick one. While riding with Mike on Tuesday I commented that I hope it's slick because I think I have an advantage in those conditions but now I'm kind of worried that I'll be packing this hole with a new round of trail debris...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Test, Test

After last week's throw down in Cape Elizabeth, my fork needed a bit of tlc.  The lock-out wasn't working and the fork felt a bit off.  Knowing my time constraints, I didn't delude myself into thinking I'd find the time to deal with it myself (and end up taking it to the shop anyway when I realized I couldn't fix the problem) so I dropped it at the shop late last week.

I was hitting up this weekend's race course last night and, because the gods love me, my bike was ready a couple of hours before I headed out.  A couple of calls, a supportive wife grabbing it from the shop for me, and a little last second dashing around later and I was in Rockport with Mike ready to do a few laps on the miserably wet, rooty, rocky, muddy course.

Once into the course I realized I had a new problem.  The fork was working fine but the shifting had gone haywire.  It shifted flawlessly last wednesday but apparently all of the jostling around between the shop and being jammed into two different car trunks put the final nail in my derailleur cables' coffin.  To be honest, it wasn't a bad run for the old boy.  Because I use full cable housing, I've been able to use the same cable for over two years now.

Anyway, after some trail side fiddling, I had things functioning more or less well enough that I didn't want to kill myself and we went about ripping out 3 solid laps.  Conditions were greasy and slick and those rocks and roots kept you on your toes but it's such a fun course that we didn't care.

(can somebody tell me how to format this stupid endomondo crap?)

This morning after the run with the pooch I switched out the cable (and added a link to the slightly too short chain) and quickly realized that it had been a LONG time since I'd had to change a cable on that bike because I had no f'ing idea how to fish it out of the shifter. Thankfully, SRAM has great tech vids on the web and I was fixed up lickety split. (turns out I had NEVER changed a cable on that particular shifter before because it was a process I hadn't done before)

Hopefully I'll get one more test run in before the weekend and, then on Sunday, the real season begins.  Bring it!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Finally Pulled the Trigger

As most of you know, I've been hemming and hawing about a purchase for quite some time now.  First I'd be dead set on the purchase and then I'd get cold feet because I didn't want to spend the money.  Then I'd see one again, get all moist in the loins and decide, once again, to get one only to have the shine of my lust corrode in front of me as I considered the money once again.  Finally, Marcy made the unfortunate (fortunate) mistake of running into the salesman in the grocery store the other day.  24 hours later we had this bad little boy:


As you can imagine, the bike purchase will be put off indefinitely unless I shit a golden nugget.  Landscaping here I come!

The weekend wasn't all agricultural bliss though.  We also had mamma's day on Sunday.  Marcy and I took all of the mothers and grandmothers out to brunch and in one fell swoop, had all but one visit taken care of.  Why didn't we think of that sooner???

Item number two on the to do list of the day was for marcy to get a ride in and for us to tire the pooch out.  A tired dog equals a happy family.  To get the deed done, we headed to Rancho de Nelson and dragged my brother and father out with their dog while my mom watched B and went flower (dandelions)  picking.  There was lots of bitching from my brother but we all made it out, did an out and backy type ride to avoid roads (since we had two dogs) and had a good ole time.

Marcy clearing a very rocky and steep climb.  It's much worse than it looks.  
I think this may have been her first time clearing it (my bad, Marcy has made 
this one several times.  it was the climb at the end that she cleared
for the first time).  D-boy (my bro) toppled over at the top while trying to
unclip.  Sadly, no photo.

the pooches enjoying a brief water break. inshape dog = ours
fatty boobalatty = my parents

speaking of fatty boobalatty!  D-boy, not Marcy! somebody 
needs a manssier.

the walk of shame up on of the hills. to be fair, we all walked this one.

cresting the day's biggest climb.  this is at the top where it levels out.  
just into the tree line below is one hell of a bitchy pitch

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A First

For this year at least. Marcy's and my first mountain bike ride together happened this weekend.  Lets hope that there are many more to come but first we need to build a cage for Brynna to stay in while we're out...

Right before the start.  We really need to get some landscaping
done so that the chickens will have something other than rocks to eat...

Rolling from the casa rockin last year's kit.  The new kits
are in and looking pretty sweet.  Can't wait to try them out.

somewhere in ze schmid

a rare moment of me being series and Marcy being the goofy one.
Good times were had but, sadly, we don't get these opportunities very often these days.

Last night I made it out on the Wednesday night Cyclemania mountain bike ride.  There is usually a good, fast group there putting the hurt on so I went mentally prepared for a butt kicking and boy, did it get kicked!  I'd never ridden the Cape Elizabeth trails before and it had dumped rain right before the ride so the trails' continuous slick rocks and roots were a challenge to be sure.  Thankfully, I had two very fast sets of wheels to TRY to follow and I found myself pushing at race pace for the duration of the ride literally sailing through the technical sections as I gave chase.  Having such fast dudes in front of you really motivates you to push past your comfort level which I did in spades.  When you're in a world of hurt, with total tunnel vision and snot laces hanging from your nose, who really cares about those pesky roots?

Our average speed was just a hair under 10mph which is pretty freaking amazing given the conditions and if you were to deduct the couple of short stops for air adjustments and my chain falling off (twice!) you're looking at 11mph for the ride.  I need to ride with these boys more!

This was only my second really hard effort of 2011 (last wednesday's group road ride being the other) so I was pretty happy with how I felt.  I've got a decent amount of rides in my legs so far this year and now it's finally time to get things amped up.  Bring it!!!  (if you can't tell, I'm kind of psyched to have had such a fast and fun (through the pain) ride).

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bout Time

Usually, by this time in May, I've thrown my leg over a bike in competition at least a few times.  Usually just in low key or practice type races but I usually have some sort of racing in me by now.  This spring had been slipping away and I began to freak a bit since my first "real" race is two weeks away.  Wednesday's Center Street road ride proved that I didn't have the guns loaded yet because any anaerobic efforts were answered by gasping, drooling and falling off the back of the group.  So, when Marcy suggested I go do the Scarborough training crit I didn't exactly jump at the idea but I gave it some consideration and when I actually woke up in time on Sunday morning (without an alarm) I decided I might as well get the suffer on.

I've had some success in the training crit series in the past but it's been years that I'd been doing a bit more structured workouts.  All sorts of timed intervals and other nonsense.  I don't have the mental aptitude for that any more so I now prefer to get my training the old fashioned way.  By getting my ass kicked.  I knew driving down that the day would be painful.  I just wasn't sure how painful.  If you remember back, I had to beg and plead with USAC to get upgraded to cat 4 so that I could do the A race in the series which meant that I was really a cat 5 racing against cats 1-4.  4's I can hang with.  Maybe even 3's on a good day but 1's and 2's?  Forget about it.  Those guys are animals.  Thankfully, most of the local animals were in Vermont contesting a two day stage race so it was mostly 3's and 4's I'd be throwing down with.

When the race started, I hoped for a few easy laps since I hadn't had time for a proper warm-up.  Sadly, on either the first or second lap, a group of 5-ish guys jumped off the front.  I didn't respond at first because I figured the group would.  When the group didn't two other guys launched attacks to bridge up to the leaders.  I was then that I realized that this could actually be the winning move on the day.  FIVE FREAKIN MINUTES INTO THE RACE!  So, despite not being warmed up again, I jumped off the group and quickly reeled in the two guys in front of me putting us about 200' back from the leaders.  I knew I was in trouble already but hoped that if I could grab the back of the lead group I'd be able to rest a bit a hopefully recover.  Training races are all about doing stupid stuff right???

I pulled the other two guys to within 20' of the leaders but when they pulled around I literally couldn't muster any more strength to grab their wheels.  I hovered between 20-50' off the back for half a lap but couldn't make any headway and the massive headwind on the backstretch was killing me so I decided to sit up and wait for the main field.

When I got back into the group, the next 8-9 laps (out of 20) disappeared in a fog of panting, the screaming in my legs, the bile taste in my mouth and silent, silent tears.  I was literally death on a bike just hoping and praying that there wouldn't be any sudden increases in speed.

Finally, with five or six laps to go, I began to come around.  Not enough to launch an attack but enough to position myself near the front so that if anyone else attacked I could jump on board.  I either went with or brought back a few failed attacks leading up to the end with not much to show for it except for one sphincter clenching close call.  In a sweeping 25mph curve where you can get a really good lean, I was sitting third wheel and as we went through the corner I drifted a bit to the outside while the guy in front of me took the corner a bit tighter than  I expected and we rubbed wheels.  Thankfully, I'm still not sure how, I managed to stay upright (and avoid massive road rash).

The last two laps saw me trying to conserve energy to attempt to contest the bunch sprint (the three remaining leaders were literally 500' up the road but we weren't catching them) but, stupid me, thought we were coming in for one to go on the final lap and missed my chance to not do well in the sprint.  Oh well, pack fodder it is.