Friday, July 29, 2011

The Carrabassett 50
The Thrilling Conclusion

Shortly after ditching Tyler and Montreal, I found myself in a super fun, mostly gradual downhill single track. Fast and fun stuff. After about fifteen minutes of riding by myself I started to think that the escape might keep but I kept glancing back constantly. This was definitely a predator/prey situation and I didn't feel like the predator. More like a fuzzy little bunny on alligator alley...

Eventually, I glanced back to see both Tyler and Montreal closing in on me. I knew the catch was imminent but I dug a little deeper to make them work to close that last 200 feet. The actual catch took another ten minutes and somehow Tyler made it up without Montreal.

The good news was that it was now down to a two man race. The bad news was that despite still having some energy reserves, cramps were starting to set in and we still had 25-ish miles to go.

A short while later, we hit another aid station at mile 43. The helpful support staff informed us that we were only 20 miles from the finish. Ummm, excuse us? 20 miles? That would make this 50 mile race 63 miles. It was quite a kick to the scrote.

Tyler and I rode together for the next 10-ish miles, frequently trading the lead and generally enjoying the super fun terrain. At mile 55 (5 miles from the actual finish) Tyler rolled through the final aid station maybe two seconds in front of me and we headed into the final section of rail trail/single track. The first part was a long gradual climb and Tyler's Vermont climbing legs began to show as he quickly opened up a 20 second gap.

I was in a world of hurt and unable to close the gap on the open sections but got within a few seconds at one point in the tight single track which I was still able to ride well. Unfortunately, the mental demons were creeping in making it hard to to dig in for the final push. Entering the final section of single track, I caught site of Tyler not far up the trail and gave it one final dig to try to pull him back but it was too little too late and Tyler crossed the line a mere 27 seconds ahead of me in the 5.5hr race.

Wrap-up tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Carrabassett 50
Part 2

By the time we exited the technical downhill, Chris was still in the lead and Ryan and I had managed to separate ourselves a bit from the group again but were soon joined again by Tyler and some dude from Montreal.  This is where it starts to get dicey memory wise. At mile 28 (roughly 2:40 into the race)Ryan and I did a very quick transition at aid station number two heading out for the outer loop for the last half of the race holding positions #1 and #2.  I was concerned about whether I could out last Ryan or not.  Last season he rode a super strong Bradbury 12 and got an easy SS solo victory and he looked to be on his way again.  He was spinning effortlessly along while I labored ever so slightly beside/behind him.

At some point, we were once again a 4-5 man lead group that I found myself at the front of for a bit just as we approached a horrendous grassy climb up an approximately 18-20% grade.  I was horribly overgeared with my single ring set-up and was forced to stand and hammer most of the climb while everyone else sat and spun on their puny lil' rings.  At a couple of points during the climb, I glanced back quickly hoping that I'd see everyone else walking so that I could get off and walk myself but no dice.  When we finally exited this, the crappiest, skidder trail like surface, trail on the course, (maybe Marcy can fix my punctuation) we came to an intersection with a dirt road going up to the left and down to the right.  Initially I didn't see an arrow but after some searching I located one laying in the ditch, made a quick calculation as to which way it was supposed to be pointing and plunged down the hill with Tyler and Montreal (I'd find out at the end of the race that Ryan had to stop because of leg cramping) praying that we'd soon see another course marking so we didn't have to climb back up this bitch.

The three of us rode together for the next, maybe, 10 miles until we came to the aid station just before the birthday trail (I think).  Tyler and Montreal stopped at the station for a full refil.  Me?  I grabbed a gatorade, some pb&j and snuck away while they both had their camelbacks off.  Sneaky me.  I hadn't planned this to be an outright escape but I did want to give myself a chance to ride at a more comfortable pace for a while and make them work to catch me.

Last installment tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Carrabassett 50
Part 1

This past Sunday was the inaugural Carrabassett 50 a (supposedly) 50 mile mountain bike race in the foothills of the Rangeley-Stratton mountain range.  I was semi familiar with the area having done several xc length events back in the day so I was excited to see what they could put together for the 50 miler.  I met up with WillC and 3/4 of his fam on Saturday for a bit of a pre-ride and some dinner and I was once again reminded that not EVERYONE from Mass is a mass-hole, just most of them.

WillC had hooked us up with a condo for Saturday night so that we could get a good nights sleep for the early race start so, of course, we stayed up too late watching the final TT of the tour and drinking too much beer (at least I did).  Off to bed with a max of 6 possible hours of sleep (not too bad) and then commence to wake back up at 2am and can’t sleep.  F’er.  So I killed an hour and a half playing online scrabble and reading an old issue of Ski magazine cover to cover and giving me a chance to take some tylenol for my quickly approaching hangover.  Mercifully, around 3:30 I fell back asleep and woke up for good at 5am so I decided to just get up and get the day rolling.

WillC and I rolled into the venue at 6am, set up our shit and went in search of breakfast and the all important coffee.  Choking down breakfast was hard.  Choking down coffee full of grounds was harder.  Just remember not to take the last sip!

mmmmm, groundy

 pre-race meeting
When race time rolled around I was a bit bummed to find that we were to head out five minutes after the elites.  I had hoped to try to ride with them for a bit at the beginning to see how I would have fared (turns out I wouldn’t have been with them for long anyway) but the expert only start allowed us to head out at a pretty reasonable race.

elite start line
On the start I almost got the hole shot but with a bit of properly applied brake action managed to let Ryan Littlefield pull the whole group around for the first few miles of access road type riding.  When we got to the first long gradual hill (15 minutes of climbing I think?) Ryan was setting a pretty comfortable pace and I was sitting 2nd or 3rd wheel.  Half way up the climb Tyler Merritt cruised by us and cranked up the climb.  We let him go since pushing that pace 20 minutes into a 5-6 hour race didn’t seem wise (for us at least) and thankfully we caught back up by the top of the climb.  The first downhill starts at the crest of the climb and immediately turns to shit with short boulder fields, steep, rooty, slightly eroded sections and twisty turny-ness.  Essentially super fun stuff if you’re riding well.  I was not riding well.  I had once again put too much air in my tires.  After my Saturday pre-ride with WillC I felt my tires were a bit soft.  Maybe a few psi tops.  So after the pre-ride I proceeded to add four or five pumps of air from a floor pump.  Genius.  So I was bouncing down the trail right up until I bounced right into it launching myself and my bike over a body pillow size rock.  There was no damage though other than watching 8 or 9 guys stream by me.

Once we were back on the access type roads I found myself with a fellow Bikeman’er, and leader of the SS class, Chris Cyr.  I didn’t want to blow sky high but I also wanted to catch the leading train of 8 or so guys (including teammates Big Al and Ryan Rumsey) and because we had a few miles of fast access road type stuff so I dug in a bit and pulled the group back about half way through the first of two laps on the old xc course.

At some point, when we hit some more technical single track, Ryan and I separated ourselves from the rest of the pack and rode most of the remainder of the first lap together being joined late in the lap by Chris Cyr who was killing in on his new carbon niner ss.

When we started lap two, Ryan and I eased into the climb and were soon joined by the rest of the leading group again.  This time it was Chris’s turn to push the pace and he quickly put a huge gap into us on the climb.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Tune in again tomorrow. 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wish I Had It

Sorry, still no race report today. I'm still waiting for the "official" results since there seems to have been a bit of a miscue. I promise to have the report tomorrow. So, for today, enjoy some random photos of me changing a cassette hub body and broken spoke before the race. Yay!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Done

Well, I made the decision. When it came down to it, I couldn't leave potential money on the table for this weekend's race so I signed up for the expert class. Major fail I know but with over one hundred clams on the line I couldn't ignore it. Alby may be ashamed of me but that doesn't even come close to the shame I feel for him so it's all good.

Now that that is settled I can go about getting ready for the race. I purchased some nutritional items the other day to carry with me in case the aid stations blow a big fat hairy one. The race says that the aid stations will be fully stocked but give not indication as to what that means. Food? Water? HEED? so, to be sure, I'm carrying a bit of food (shot blocks) and some HEED packaged in NUUN bottles since they are easy to open and close and won't easily spill (can't say that for ziplock bags).

In addition, I'm making some minor bike mods/fixes for the race. I'll be adding a second water bottle mount so I'll only have to make one stop during the race unless it's uber hot. I'm also shortening my chain so that I hopefully stop dropping the chain off the front. A couple of drops during the Camden race and a couple on my most recent ride so it needs to be addressed. Lessee, what else, adding some stans to the tires since I have no idea what to expect I want to be fully stansed so that I'll maximize my pleasure if I cut a tire and need to add a tube. putting a tube in a tire filled with stans is fun and environmentally friendly. And, finally, I'll be sleuthing the creaking in the cockpit of the bike. Now that I've fixed the annoying BB/hub creaking, I'm now hearing something nefarious up front. I wonder what I'll hear next after I get that fixed?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

 Bringing It Around

This blog sucks, my race reports suck (did you read that last stinker? I had an awesome race and had a blast but you wouldn't know it from the report.), and you suck too. I'm sorry, that was mean. It's me not you.

 pooping or posing?  you'll never know

I'm in a bitchy bitchy boo boo mood today so pay no attention to me. In fact, I shouldn't even pay any attention to me because things are pretty awesome right now. I feel my form is coming on (too bad I only have three races left on the schedule), we had a kick ass family camping trip this past weekend, the house is shaping up and work is going well. Please feel sorry for me.

the crew from the weekend's festivities

There are big doings going on this weekend. The inaugural Carrabassett 50 is going down on Sunday. I had originally planned on signing up for the elite class figuring it was time to man up  and just do it (and get WillC off my ass) but after perusing the bikereg page yesterday I see that the only payout is to the fastest EXPERT rider in the form of cash and free entry into next year's race. It seems weird to me to pay cash to an expert but only a medal for the elites. Very weird indeed. The reality is that I probably have a slim to nil chance of winning in the elite field (it's a small field so far so there is a SLIGHT chance) but I do have a good shot at the expert field win and some cashish. So, do I bail on elite and stick to expert for one more race? Tell me now because I have to sign up by tomorrow since registration closes on Wednesday and there is no day of.

I also had the chance to ride down at Bradbury for the first time in over a month yesterday. A well scheduled meeting in the area (thank me very much) and beautiful weather (even with sweaty nut sack temps and humidity) meant that I had close to two hours to put down a mean lap of the 12 race course with some extra credit thrown in. It also gave me a chance to see what ails the bike right now so I can fix it before the weekend. It also made it crystal clear that I should consider taking some form of bug spray with me during the race this weekend. If you keep moving you're ok but stop for two seconds and the deer flies are able to organize and swarm. Holy shit on a shingle. At one point it felt like my head was the center of its own little solar system with very angry bitey little fucking planets.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

 Camden Run Off

Ok, so let's try to do at least a semi-respectable race report from this past weekend's Camden Run-Off shall we?

Sunday morning dawned beautiful, sunny and hot. Not Florida, middle of summer hot, but hot for Maine. Alby, Mike and I did a nice warm-up lap on the short loop (the expert/elite race was divided into two long laps and two short laps) a perfect half hour jaunt with just enough climbing to get the legs feeling good and then we went our separate ways to make final race preps prior to the start.

At the line, the sun really started to get hot. Hot enough that folks were hiding in the shade right up until MadMike called us to the line and hot enough that I'm really hoping that team Bikeman's summer weight jerseys show up soon because the black can be H-O-T hot. At the line I did something that I don't usually do, I lined up in the second row. I'm not sure of my reasoning there but I guess it just felt right since we were going off with the elites. When the gun went off I was immediately swarmed and went to maybe 15th place in a heartbeat. 

Things were congested enough at the start that going up the very first pitch I saw WillC off the side of the trail trying to re-enter the race after having been forced off the trail. Thankfully, I was soon able to start picking folks off because I knew the front of the race (which included the likes of Andrew Freye and Brad Perley so I knew I didn't have much of a chance anyway) was riding away. The 20 minute opening climb was a bit of a conga line but, thankfully, I was riding close enough to the front to be able to ride everything with only a couple of dabs and picked up lots of positions as folks struggled on the tight and steep switchbacks.

Towards the top of the climb, I caught up to Bikeman's team manager, Big Gay Al, in his one time a year so he can still call himself a mountain biker race. He graciously let me lead down the hill because I had this descent DIALED. Or so I thought. Sadly, right before the race I added a touch more air to both tires and that turned my so freaking fast I'm on the verge of losing control descent into a holy crap I'm bouncing off everything and holding on for dear life descent. The good news was that I had the expert leader (Steve Crossley) just in front of me and a Bikeman dude who had just passed me so I was close to the front.

Shortly after rejoining the short loop, we entered a freshly raked downhill rock garden and I stacked it hard. I sailed over the bars and landed knee and forearm first totally destroying my watch and making hamburg out of my forearm. I quickly jumped up to get back into the race but the ti band on my watch was so mangled that I was forced to stop again and take the watch off before it severed any major arteries. Bye, bye expert lead!

The rest of lap one was uneventful but freaking fun with all sorts of fast and technical singletrack. When I came to the long climb on lap two, I repassed the Bikeman rider and set my sights on Steve Crossley and my bud SeaBass (who had apparently passed me when I was snacking on some rocks). We yo-yo'd a bit but I never got any closer to Steve than 20 seconds and SeaBass had found his climbing legs and was gone. I also got a chance to play a bit of tag with Alby on the climb before finally dispatching him to where he belonged. J

For the rest of lap two and lap three I rode essentially by myself but with others in sight both in front of me and behind. Entering lap three I had closed the gap to Steve to less than five seconds and was feeling good about my chances to pass him on the climb before hitting the singletrack. Unfortunately, as we entered the climb my chain dropped between the cassette and spokes and I was forced to jump off to extricate it. Thankfully it wasn't jammed to badly and I got it out quickly but the mishap allowed Steve to get a good 30 second gap on me.

For 2/3 of the last lap I drilled it as hard as I could but I just couldn't seem to pull Steve back so I finally decided to enjoy the last part of the lap by dialing it back a bit and getting my flow on.

In the end I finished 3rd overall in the expert field and 7th overall.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Lied

I know I said that I'd have my race report up today but what can I say? I'm a pathological liar. How else do you think I was able to convince Marcy to marry me? It certainly wasn't my pasty white, two pubes per square inch chest...

So, instead of a real post I'll drop some photos on you from the race weekend.

B rode her first chair lift with me.  She did much better than her Uncle Darren 
who cried and clutched the lift the first time he went up.
B entertained herself during my race by catching critters.  I'm almost 100% 
sure she didn't try to eat this worm but I do know that she was drinking out of acorns.

my ladies

Alby and I screwing around in the short track before he decided to actually race.

rockin the wood chip pile

and alby and I hitting the one single track section in the short track

Marcy snuck off for some single track while B and I rode the lift to the top.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Maine Sport Run-Off

I raced, I saw, I didn't quite conquer but I did have a good race and had a blast. Proper post tomorrow (hopefully).

It was so hot out that I had salty flames emanating from my crotch 
by the end of the race.  Sure wish I had stuffed my chamois 
with a potato before this pic was taken.

I also took a rock nap in lap one destroying my new watch and 
leaving some nice gouges in my left forearm and knee.  
There was much screaming in the Nelson household last night as 
I attempted to scrub it clean and was forced to ask Marcy to go 
at it with tweezers to get some of the more stubborn bits out.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bring Your Road Bike To Trails Day

Yesterday was Bring Your Road Bike To Trails Day. It was a resounding success although scampering over rocks in exposed carbon soled shoes and plastic cleats leaves a bit to be desired.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Yesterday's commute was supposed to be a blast.  I haven't been commuting by bike much this year as I chase that elusive (at least this year) speed by going to fast group rides instead.  After many trips to Camden recently to get ready for this weekend's race I decided it was time to throw down a 3 hour mountain bike commute.  The temps were in the high 70's and the sun was out so I expected a good ride.  Sadly, portions of my commute aren't heavily used (only by me in fact) so the first part of it needed some work but I was able to ride through without stopping.  Unfortunately, before I could get to the good part of the first section I came across a logging operation.  I hiked around for about 10 minutes to see if I could find the way but the place was decimated beyond recognition.  To make matters worse, the mosquitoes were as thick as I've ever seen them and despite having just applied massive amounts of insect repellent, I was GETTING EATEN ALIVE!  Thankfully, I spied a house through the woods and made a bee line to it so I could get the fuck out of Dodge.

Ok, section 1 is a write off for now but at least I still had the Zak and Schmid preserves.  The first part of Zak isn't well used but it's easy enough to follow and is usually in good shape so I rolled along trying to get my mojo back.  At one point I was marveling at how well the ferns were growing this year and how they really obscure the trail surface and was thinking to myself that I've had to stare at the trail directly in front of me instead of looking ahead when WHAM!  my front wheel hit a root on the bottom side of a roller and I was thrown to the earth with authority and somehow managed to slam my right knee into the underside of my shifter leaving a bloody tattoo of the mounting bolt just above my kneecap. Lovely. 

My mojo at this point was thoroughly thrashed so I pulled the plug and did a direct-ish route home through the Schmid.  Bah, I hate days like that.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

"Summer" is blasting away right now but you wouldn't know it by my blogging.  During the summer I can typically maintain an almost once a day post.  There is so much riding and what not going on that it's easy to find something to write about.  This year, there is still plenty o stuff happening, there's just so much that the writing has fallen off.  Too bad for you (I think) but Yay! for me.

The 4th weekend was action packed.  It started off with B and I heading into the Schmid Preserve to look for mica and tourmaline.  We found shit tons of mica (see pic below) and a couple large chunks of tourmaline for our efforts.  Now if only my mother would have let me buy that rock tumbler when I was 10...

There was also vast amounts of riding going on (for me at least).  Thursday night I hosted three of the Bathers for a sweet ride around the Schmid trails followed by bbq and bon fires.  Summer staples. (now if C-dog would just send me some photos of the ride since I forgot to take any myself...)
On Saturday, I was able to play tour guide in the Schmid trails with fast dudes WillC and TomH.  A super fun ride that saw each of us take at least one over the bar trip.  I'll be seeing them both again for the Camden race and Tom may be sending a portion of his summer camp kids down to do some trail work at the Preserve.  Good stuff.

Tom marveling at Will's v-neck

Then, on Saturday night my folks came down for more bbq/bon fire and a little bit of Nelson style croquet as well.  What's Nelson style croquet you ask?  It's extremely impossible wicket placements (on side hills, tree stumps etc) and exceptionally vindictive opponents (sending people into the pricker bushes was a favorite) and a lot of swearing, threat making and an occasional mallet to the junk.  You know, normal stuff...

Then, on Sunday, I met up with WillC again to do a couple of loops of the Snow Bowl race course plus a sampling of the out back trails.  It was an awesome ride and I can tell you one thing for sure.  When you ride with someone better than you, it definitely teaches you to push harder and take WAY more risks with your riding.  Good stuff again.

And then, finally, Sunday night was capped off with a shin dig at a mega house that I designed.  A little bit of food, lots and lots of booze and Motor Booty Affair.  Need I say more?