Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last days of summer

I really am not looking forward to this winter at all. Last winter I rode outside the entire time and probably scarred myself mentally. But the thought of the trainer is even more bleak so I know the wool layers will be coming out soon.
I went on a 50 miler with the Chief Sunday and guess where we ended up? You betcha, the greatest road bike downhill around. And this time it was plenty muddy at the top.
Despite his lack of fitness he managed to take 3 out of 4 sprints from me, so he's not a complete disaster. Man he loves pain, and I sure love giving him exactly what he wants.
I'm trying to get him fired up about racing again. I figured Saeler needs a good beating and the Chief is the only old guy around that can do it. We'll see what happens, I will keep working on him this winter. If he could just ride about 6 hours a week he would be winning in the Vet/Expert class I bet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WW3 about to start at the World Cup

Lorson sent this to me, I think Smed found it, which once again leaves me wondering...what exactly does he do with all his free time now that he's retired?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's about time

The last race in the NEO Power series was a time trial at Reagan park. It's a fun format, being only about 9 miles long, it adds a new dimension to the need for speed. The Reagan trail is the most twisty course I know of in Ohio. In other words, it was custom built for a guy like me. I don't like the big, open trails because they are quite frankly boring. That's what cyclo-cross is for anyways.
I signed up early and was the first off the line with 20 second intervals. This was nice because I didn't have to worry about any other riders to get in my way. On the other hand, it's nice to have someone to chase. Also, since I was the first rider in the woods I almost ran over three sets of hikers and a dog.
One of the Spisak boys was behind me and I held him off so I never got passed, I ended up first to secure my first win of the season. I was pretty stoked about that, but I keep thinking about that flat tire at the last race costing me a series overall win. I guess that just means I will have to return in 2010 to accomplish what I had set out to do this year. Jeff Cochran was only 11 seconds behind. I knew he was the guy to beat in my class after viewing his results from the last two years.
My prediction was right, and 26 inch wheels ruled the day, taking almost all the top spots. Dave Walker as always, won his class, but only by 1 second over Steve Twining!. I can't imagine Steve didn't beat himself up all night about that one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Long live the King! (26inches baby)

Well this is what I get for trusting a French tire I suppose(Michelin). The cut was 1/4inch long, and if you read the back of Stan's sealant, it claims to fill gaps up to that size. So technically I lost the race by 1/4", making it one for the record books. Take that Steve Bauer.

I am however, getting this Fox fork dialed in, using all 4 inches of travel now. If you are like I used to be, and putting too much pressure in because you think its faster, you are missing out. You might as well take your fork off and go rigid.

We had a good week off road. Knob race Saturday, Quail Hollow Sunday with the family, Findlay on Monday with the wife, and Reagan on Thursday.

Gillian rockin' the fourty-sixer.

Reagan was a reconnaissance ride for the TT this Sunday. The course is bone dry. While at the park I switched bikes with Feeman for a short loop. He's got a 29r and I had never really ridden one off road. The big wheels had astounding smoothness, and I can see how they would be very nice on open courses. But Reagan is not open at all, quite to the contrary.
In the tight trails it felt like I was trying to parallel park a limo in New York City. The front end just pushed to the outside of every turn and I had to manually raise up the front end and place it back in line with the trail. Now I realize that one ride doesn't do justice for a bike, but that kind of slow turning does not suit my style of riding at all. Velo News says the 26 hardtail is dead, apparently they haven't ridden any real tight singletrack. I may have a big wheel bike in my stable someday, but it will have to suit the course of the day before I ride it.
Choose your weapon wisely.

Of course he's running, he flatted on the last lap! If I see him in the woods this Sunday I'm gonna put some tire tracks right down his back. Get some Jenny Craig in your life you piece of lard!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rubbin' is racin.' And so is flats I suppose.

I went into the last Vultures Knob race with a five point lead on Lorson for the overall. So all I really had to do was beat him at this race and the series was mine. I knew he was in good form so I figured I would just take off like an crazed idiot and see how long I could hold it.
I got the holeshot and Walker was right with me. We went 1-2 into the woods and I tried to stay with him but that lasted less than a mile. That boy goes as fast uphill as most people go down.
I settled into my pace and was running back and forth with Chip Meek. We were 2nd and 3rd for the overall and I was leading the Vet/Expert class. He finally got away and one of the Spisak brothers also passed by me.
I got a few splits on Lorson's position and I was told he was about 1:20 back as I was into my last lap. The legs felt good and I was figured I just had to maintain the pace for the win. I came out of the snake and and met up with some of the worst luck I have had racing. I cut my back tire and it went flat in about 50 yards.
I used the Geax latex inflator but the hole was too big. My race was over. Lorson came by and that was that. I let out one explitive but really didn't get too mad. I calmly walked back to the car and got my Chiplotle burrito and EAS drink. 311 Promotions really does put on a nice race package.
I stayed for the awards and had quite a change of fortune. Groovy Cycles had a raffle for a frameset and they pulled my name out of the hat. "You got to be shitting me," was all I could say. Rody confimred it, he really did call my name.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Polishing the Knob.

Last Saturday I attended the Knob trail maintenance day. I got my first experience with a gas powered weed wacker. (If you have seen my yard you will realize that I know nothing about weed wackers). It was hot and bug infested but these sweet 1980's shades I found in my closet really kept the eyes safe. And they added a good bit of Duran Duran style I must say. It really is amazing just how much grass can fit up one's nostrils after this type of activity. Furnace, Mazeville, and The Good Bad and the Ugly all trimmed up. Fortunately I don't get poison ivy, 'cause Mazeville is totally infested with it.

Self portrait, respect the wagon.

I had the wife buy me some Pasta de Guayaba while she was visiting family in Florida. I can't find this version in the north but sure do miss it.
I used train down there with Henry, a Columbian pro, when I lived there. One day he pulled this stuff out of his jersey pocket on a 95F day. It was four hours into the ride and it was almost molten when he handed it to me. He didn't speak much English but just said, "good for you," so I ate it, and loved it.
It's just guava and sugar sandwiched between cheese slices, but on a long ride it trumps any bar or gel for palatability, and packs some serious calories.
Henry told me alot of interesting stories about racing in Europe on a Division III team. His training methods were archaic to say the least. His former coach used to make him climb mountains in Columbia while dragging a car tire behind his bike. He was not allowed to get out of the saddle for 5-6 hours at a time. He told me I was too fat to climb, and that I must take pills and injections if I wanted to be "forte." He said he never knew what they made him take, nor did he care. Making a living as a bike racer in Columbia was good job, so you didn't question anything.
I was always a big Fabio Parra(Kelme) fan back in those days. (I'll take Columbian Greaseball Climbers of the 80's for $500.00 please). So Herny went back home to visit family and brought back a Kelme Jersey for me. It wasn't from Fabio, but Humberto Parra, his brother, I believe. I traded a Doug Shapiro autographed Denver Spoke jersey for it. And if you don't know him either than you got some U.S cycling history lessons to learn.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The whole enchilada

This last weekend was the Manitoc Big Valley Festival. I took the family up on Saturday to preview the course after the hard rains we had on Friday. It was pretty sloppy in some areas but was mostly dry for the race on Sunday. I cant say it's my favorite course, but it definately is a big area.
The singletrack sections were good, but they were laced together by open grass fields and roads. This course suited the strong riders, and the strong guys won with good margins. As for me on the otherhand, the race played out differntely. I started out good, and got the hole shot, despite trying to take it easy. I would have rather have just sat in and drafted on the long grass start section. Ever since racing in Florida years ago, I just can't make myself start slow.
I had not raced since June so I knew this race was going to be brutal on me, especially given the long distance and steep, muddy climbs. There was a long gravel climb going into the first section of real singletrack and I knew I wanted to be first in so I attacked on the hill and kept the pace high in the woods. I was opening a small gap in the tight stuff, and thinking it might be a good day afterall.
Then I hit the first tough climb and was passed by Lorson and another guy. No problem I thought, I will just hang back and bide my time. Unfortunatly, my legs had nothing going into lap 2 and by lap three I was cramping hard. At this point I was just in survival mode and no amount of gels would bring me back to life.
I got passed three times with 20 minutes to go and ended up 6th. Te series offers a yearly supply of Chipotle burritos to the winners, and each time a guy went by I just kept thinking...there goes my burrito.
Oh well, that's racing, sometimes you got legs and sometimes you don't. I will adjust my training accordingly and should be ready for the next Knob race, where the course is tight and suits me much better.
One thing for sure, the Zaskar has not let me down once all year. It's by far the best tight singletrack bike I have owned. I often find myself brushing trees lightly with my shoulders because I take such a tight line. This suits my riding style to a T.

Photos credits:justysia on flicker. much thanks.

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