Friday, December 30, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
woke up this morning to a half inch of sleet on the ground in philly and my hopes raised for a snowy race at fairhill. once at the park it turned out that what had fallen as sleet in philadelphia had come down as rain further south and the course was already turning into a muddy, sloppy mess.
took a quick spin on the course between the C and masters race to see what we had in store us. the course was long and littered with lots of 90 and 180 degree turns. if the course was dry it would have been pretty fast, with little elevation change, save for the start/finish straight. today it was not dry and the course was muddy any place it wasn't on pavement. sticky mud, sloppy mud, sandy mud, grassy mud, watery mud, you describe a kind of mud and this course had it. there were long boggy grass sections, slick mud in the corners, a short technical section full of soft chopped up dirt that clogged up tires, pedals, and shoes. after my pre-ride i washed off my bike and changed my shorts and socks since the ones i was wearing were covered in mud and soaking wet.
after the masters race finished i ventured out of my warm car to "warm up" on the roads around the park and keep an eye on the staging area to get a decent spot for the scrum for the start line after the call-ups. since the group was fairly small (26) the promoters ended up calling up just about the entire field and i was stuck in the very back row the handful of other riders that don't have any MAC B series points. my expectations for the race were pretty minimial, so i really didn't care where i started. after my 38th place at the reston MAC race i just wanted to do a better job at pacing myself in hopes of avoiding cracking once we got past the 30 minute mark.
once the race started i hung back in the pack in the starting sprint, then started to pick of other racers after we hit the grass. after another race the course was muddier than when i pre-rode it, and most of the corners were even slower. i kept moving up through the pack over the first two of what, according to the lap card that was up at the end of the first lap, would be five laps. by the third lap i'd settled into a duel with an alan rider and after both moved up through the field i finally managed to put a gap on him on the start/finish stretch at the start of the fourth (and apparently final) lap. around the middle of the last lap one rider came around me and though i tried to hold onto his wheel i could keep in contact. after coming through the planks (inside the beer tent) towards the end of the fourth lap i noticed a bunch of riders standing around just past the finish. i hadn't looked at the lap cards since seeing "4" after the first lap, but it looked like we were finishing a lap early, since a 5th lap would have had the leader finishing closer to 55 minutes than 45.
after hosing the worst of the mud off my bike, grabbing my camera gear from the car, and a beer from the tent i checked the results and saw that i'd finished in a much better than expected 7th place (of 26 starters). stuck around to see georgia gould (kona) take the womens elite race and ryan leech (fort-gpoa) take the mens elite race with his teammate gunnar shogren taking 2nd place. congrats to fort james who took 2nd in the C race (after 3rd in yesterday's race).
more pictures from the elite race are up on flickr
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
the start of the race was really fast and the pace never let up. i was somewhere in the middle of the pack for the first half of the first lap, but got caught in the back of a bunch going into one of the courses technical features (a short steep and slick climb up around a tree) and was forced into a bad line and crashed, then got the bike hung up on a small tree while i was trying to get back on and wound up being passed by a lot of guys.
the course was a typical reston course: fast with a lot of climbing, a couple of turns that get muddy, and a couple of technical sections. i was able to use the climbs to get back up to where i was a the start by the end of the 2nd lap, but then the length of the race (and the sake and beer from the night before) started to take it's toll and i started drifting back through the pack. i ended up in 38th out of 49 finishers, about where i'd expected to be in a B race, but a little disappointed by the fact that guys i was near 2 weeks ago at leesburg where 10-15 places ahead of me. i'll be heading up to fair hill next weekend for at least one of the races, probably sunday's.
if the trails freeze overnight then once the trails start to thaw in the morning, they get really soft and become muddy very quickly and are easily torn up. as a personal rule, i only ride places like schaeffer this time of year if there is a prolonged cold snap and temps are consistently below freezing (or are covered in snow).
be careful out there and don't destroy the trails...
Monday, November 21, 2005
while i was up in philly this weekend i met up with Pat, a former City Bikes guy who's living up there these days and he showed me around some of the local trails. we rode from downtown on relatively calm streets, past the art museam, then up along bike paths that run along the schuykill river to fairmount park. the trails were tight and twisty and with plenty of steep climbs littered with tricky roots the park reminded me of Lodi Farm down in fredericksburg. we rode the trails in the park for an hour or so and then headed back into the city with a quick bike shop tour that included the blingy shop and this one...
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
shot the C race - won by my city bikes teammate, mike scardaville - then watched the first part of the masters race then started warming up in preparation for my first B race. lined up in the 3rd row at the start since my intention for the race was to play it safe, stay out of trouble, and get a feel for the Bs. there were a bunch of call-ups, but a lot of no-shows amongst them and 2 pro women who decided to add the men's B race to their racing for the weekend: sue haywood (trek/vw) and georgia gould (kona).
at the whistle were off and heading up the hill on the road toward the course... i'm sitting about 2/3rds of the way down the 20-30 rider pack but then around the first corner of the course a rider ahead of me overshoots and gets caught in the tape, tangling 4 or 5 of us up. we got sorted out pretty quickly and headed towards the barriers and off towards the back section of the course. once we settled in i started to pick up my pace a bit and pick off riders on the short steep climbs on the back side of the course. took one turn a little too wide and almost hit a short wooden post on the outside of the course.
by the end of the first lap i was somewhere around 15th, and then by the end of the 2nd lap i was up to 10th and was actually closing on a large group of riders that made up the main chase. i managed to pick up one more place as a rider dropped off the back, but i wasn't able to get any closer to the rest of the group. 3 laps in i finally got a look at the lap cards which were showing 3 laps to go. with a lap and a half to go the last rider that i passed came back around me and i while i closed the gap down a couple of times i was fading pretty badly and wasn't able to catch him again. the chase for 9th place may not have worked, but it got me a pretty good gap on the riders behind me and i finished in 10th (of 25 according to the results posted later in the day).
Friday, November 11, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
the trails were covered with leaves and blended into the forest floor so you had to watch the rider ahead to see the turns. somehow i managed to spend most of the night with ricky & jeremy in the lead group but i was on the edge the whole night. there's another night ride coming up at rosaryville on the 30th, keep an eye on the MORE ride calendar to details.
had a couple of bobbles while i was in the front when i lost the line and ended up somewhere i didn't expect to be... rain started falling towards the end of the ride but we managed to get in a couple laps of the racecourse a trip through the bowl and a couple runs down the creek trail.
rosaryville tonight, but the weather is looking a little iffy...
Monday, November 07, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
saturday was very cold with a couple of flurries as we started... a bad start and bobble in the sandpit put me way back in a big field... rode into the top 10 by the end of the first lap and finished 4th. snow picked up all day and ended up in near whiteout conditions for the later races.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
the course was wet, slippery, and full of off-camber turns and roots... 2 run-ups, the second with a set of barriers at the start, but both had good flat to downhill remounts so hopefully they wouldn't hurt me too badly. the hardest part of the course was a series of sweeping off camber turns on the side of the hill that sent you along the contours for a way and then forced you to turn sharply up the hill and then back down and were already getting torn-up before the racing started.
managed to snag a spot near the outside of the 2nd row in the starting grid. buddy was lined up on the singlespeed mountain bike, thom moore and kevin dillard were over on the other side, fort james was in the 2nd row with me, syd lea was on the inside of the front row. the start went well... the field was big, almost 50 riders, and i went just hard enough to be in the front group as we hit the grass -- probably around 8th - 10th place --and then started picking off riders one by one. after a about a 1/4 of a lap i realized that there were only 2 riders ahead, a pair from east coast velo. i caught up to them just before we got to the climb to the water tower and decided to just try and stick with them for a while, at least untill we knew how many laps we'd be doing. if they were smart and stuck together they'd have an advantage on the road sections and i didn't see any need to try and attack on the first lap.
as we were descending down the water tower hill (evil slick off-camber turns mentioned above) the lead rider of the pair ahead turned to early and got caught in the course tape and his teammate either followed him of just got caught behind him. i rode around them and started to push a little harder to take advantage of their mistake. can't remember if i made it around the evil hairpin on the first lap, but by the time i got to the barriers i was on my own and starting to build a gap. came through the start/finish and didn't see any lap cards out, not a good sign, but from the comments coming from friends on the course it sounded like i was building a pretty good cushion.
on the 2nd lap i tried to stay smooth and ride smart. the ecv riders were close enough behind that i could still see them from time to time but i had a pretty consistent gap, then, on the evil turn i slipped sideways... i got off and ran a couple of steps to the top of the turn and then remounted, only to realize that my chain had come off... i coasted to the bottom of the hill, then fumbled around for a few seconds trying to get my chain back on... not having any luck and knowing that the barriers were up ahead anyway i picked up the bike and ran over the barriers and up the short hill after them, then stopped again and got my chain sorted out... after this run-up there was a good fast downhill section with a couple of nice semi-technical turns that i could ride smoothly but might have slowed down the non-mountain bikers (thanks marc, this was your part of the course, right) so i was able to get some speed and try to save my lead.
coming up to the finish i heard two things, one worrying, and the other the sweetest sound in a cyclocross race... the first was some chatter from the announcer about another rider bridging up to, and then passing the chasers - if he was doing that he might be able to catch me as well, the second was the bell, one lap left.
managed to keep the bike moving for one last lap around the course... almost got caught up in the tape on the first run-up (thanks for the heads up susan) and had to keep the pace high as the chasers were still uncomfortably close and the mystery rider was now ahead of the 2 east coast velo riders and probably gaining on me. the climb up to the water tower hurt a little more this lap and i ended up running a couple of steps at the top of the evil turn. at the bottom of the barriers/2nd run-up i could hear some fans cheering on the rider behind me and as i was getting back on the bike he was jumping the barriers and looked like he was running the hill faster than i did (note to self: practice running with the bike and work on shouldering the bike instead of pushing it) so i kept the pace up and pushed hard on the road untill about 20 yards before the start/finish and managed to cross the line for the win. 2nd place (don yungher from rutgers) came in about 15 seconds later, then the pair from ecv almost 25 seconds after him. buddy took 6th, fort james (fort-gpoa) came in in 10th, kevin dillard (ncvc) 13th...
thanks to everyone (susan, pooch, dave, marc, chris, etc...) that yelled out advice and encouragement, this was my first win ever in any kind of bike race and every bit helped... special thanks to my philly cheering section for some extra motivation...
time to try a 'B' race?
Thursday, October 20, 2005
the new phase II trails have big insloped turns, a couple of switchbacks, and plenty of twisty singletrack and tie into the phase I trails on the hill with a couple of insloped turns that replace a series of tight, flat 180 turns that forced you to brake hard and scrub off a lot of speed.
damn these trails are fast, can't wait for the wednesday races next summer...
spent tuesday night tuning the setup of the tri-cross and getting my new tufos mounted onto my old road wheels. these will be my race wheels and i'll keep my old wheels with michellin mud 35s as training and backup wheels...
Sunday, October 16, 2005
today, instead of 3 hours on the road to the beacon race i opted for a shorter drive up to fredrick for a casual ride at gambrill with jason, david, rob, & chris. we did a pretty casual spin around the yellow trail stopping to play around on some of the technical features and speculate on alternate lines. there used to be a couple of sections of trail that i've never really felt comfortable on, but today i just felt great, flowing... perfect fall riding
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
if i was smart, i'd have kept some notes to help write this up as there were so many beers sampled that it's hard to keep them all straight and remember all of the names. most of the beers were pretty good, but a few fell short. had a couple of good pumpkin beers and a few good wheats. not surprisingly there were a lot of breweries serving up oktoberfest (and marzen) style beers, one of my favorites. these were mostly fair but none really shone, which is a shame as this can be a great style. the highlight of the day for me was the chocolate donut stout which has got a lot of mentions from DT and stoner. it had a great flavor with a solid malty base with undertones of chocolate and caramel.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
the course was still only half marked as we set out to pre-ride the loop. the tape wasn't up, but the stakes were in the ground and with a little imagination we were able to make out the course. the course was mostly pretty flat, winding around the ballfields, lots of grass with a couple of short ride/run ups and a tricky section that took a 90 degree turn down a hill, then 180'd and when straigt back up. on our preride laps only the down & up was hard enough require a dismounnt, the other two sections were both rideable. 2/3rds of the way around the lap the course went through a small culvert... easy enough to ride if you know what you're doing on a bike, but maybe big enough to force a selection in the field.
on to the racing
about fifteen of us line up for the C race at 8:45 as the rain starts of pick up. we're only 15 minutes behind schedule, not bad considering that the course still wasn't finished at 8:30. no instructions from the ref, just a one minute warning and we're off... a quick pavement section through a parking lot, 180 to loop back through on the other side of an island and onto the grass. mike and i take the 1 & 2 positions on the pavement and hold them into the grass. a couple of turns into the course i see a set of barriers on the course that weren't there when we pre-rode. no big deal though, the entrance and exit were both flat & straight. my crappy remount looses me a couple of places as a couple of coppi riders came by. the course is getting wetter and there are a couple of sections that really drain the power from your legs.
into the down & up section and an even crappier remount (damn off-camber remounts at the top of run-ups, what is it about them that gets me completely f'd) lets about half of the field past me. the 2nd half is fairly flat and put the emphasis on power. between that and the culvert i managed to claw my way up to third, behind 2 coppi riders by the start of the 2nd lap. at the end of the first lap the lap cards show 4 laps to go, more than i expected. i manage to hold my position a couple of seconds behind the 2 coppi riders on the 2nd lap and we start to put a gap on the rest of the field. i'm still having problems with the down & up section, and one of the other ride/run sections is getting pretty soft and unrideable. finishing the 2nd lap the lap cards skipped from 4 to 2 and i start to think that i can probably hold 3rd place.
after the start of the 3rd lap the 2 coppi riders start to separate and i start to gain some ground on the slower of the 2 riders. i managed to pass the slower rider for 2nd place before the down & up section, but lost the place thanks to my slow remount. with a lap & a half left i figured that to take 2nd i had to make sure i had a good lead going into the dismounts on the last lap so i attacked on the flats towards the end of the lap and managed to get a small gap and then extend it. by the time we hit the dismounts on the last lap i had enough of a gap over 3rd that he couldn't catch me while i floundered about on the remounts. heading into the last half of the last lap i looked over my shoulder to see no one behind me (and no one in front, as first place had a pretty good gap on me). i kept the presure on for the rest of the lap, just in case something happened and came across the line for 2nd place, my best 'cross finish ever. there was a swag table, but no podium...
the new bike was great, don't know what difference it made, but i was feeling pretty good so i took some beer by the shop on the way home.
Friday, October 07, 2005
need to sell my old bike now... anyone want to buy a 52cm gunnar crosshairs? black frame with a red IF fork... king headset (1" threadless), seatpost (ritchey), stem (itm), bottom bracket (shimano 105 splined), saddle (fizik nisene cp) included...
Monday, September 26, 2005
the mixed messages reception was a lot of fun. saw a lot of friends and the exhibit got lots of really good reactions. it was great to see how the other participants reinterpreted their parent images and honestly i felt like a pretender amongst a lot of really talented photographers. the exhibit is still open for a week or two at the columbia arts center.
plans for a ride on sunday evaporated when everyone bailed and i ended up heading to schaeffer for a couple of hours in the afternoon. i rode the new halfpipe a couple times to check out our work then just rode around, mixing the loops up. ran into eric welp from the team and his fiance and rode with them for a while.
finally feels like fall is starting. new leaves were down on the trail, starting to obscure old lines that got abandoned this year. there was a definite chill in the air all afternoon and the sky stayed gray. now i'm starting to feel like racing 'cross.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
rode the singlespeed
something was missing
not sure what it was, but something just didn't feel right tonight. my legs just didn't have it together. i wouldn't say i was tired or feeling blown up, but i just had no power, and technically i was just a little off... i wasn't making it up little climbs that i normally clean. might have been the riding this weekend at douthat or the running or maybe i overdid it a bit on the commute into work yesterday. maybe i'm just coming down from the peak that i hit for the sm100.
i was thinking about doing a 'cross race on sunday, but i think i'll skip it and just ride. haven't done more than look at the bike in the workstand and i need some serious practice on my dismounts before i race so that i don't embarass myself. looks like the start of my cyclocross season will be the october 8th hagerstown race.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
sitemeter has added a cool little world map feature to their system that puts a little dot on the map for the estimated location each of my last 100 visitors... i've gotten a little obsessed with it. most of my traffic comes from the dc area, then the east coast, but i get a decent number or hits from the rest of the US and occasional hits from europe (mostly england, france, and sweden), canada, and australia... looking at the refering pages, it looks like most of my overseas traffic comes from links from singlespeedoutlaw. if you're coming here from a long way off and feel like letting me know where you're coming here from, leave a comment...
Monday, September 19, 2005
put a new singleator on my IF sunday morning (to replace the explodalator) and then hit the trails at schaeffer for a late afternoon spin. ran into shawn and did a good loop around the trails with him. my knee was still sore from a stupid fall on saturday but felt surprisingly good and the new shorter fork made the IF handle more neutrally.
we finished up the ride over on the new section of the halfpipe that we built in the spring. we're going to work on fixing some problems with it on the schaeffer workday this saturday and i wanted to give it a look over before the weekend. this isn't the main project for the day so we need to make sure that there are enough people to handle installing the new signs before i get people to work on the halfpipe.
the tick is back on tv. it may have been back for a while but i just noticed that this old obsession of mine is in repeats on toon disney. i've already got the tivo season pass set up.
the hackensaw boys' new album 'love what you do' is out; they'll be back in the area at the funk box (formerly the 8x10) in baltimore on october 14th... big sandy & his fly-rite boys don't play around here very often, but they're going to be at iota in clarendon on october 23rd... angry johnny & the killbillies will be at the velvet lounge this saturday (september 24th)... listen to kexp...
Sunday, September 18, 2005
saturday morning things actually got started a little sooner than usual, which was a good thing for me, since i needed to finish up my ride by 2 so that i could pack up, clean up, and hit the road by 3 to come back home for a party on saturday night. i announced that i'd lead a steady moderate group, planning to ride both sides of the valley, about a 25 mile ride. since these groups can get pretty big dan hudson offered to come along and split off with a slightly more casual group. in the end i ended up leading a small group of riders on a ride that was probably a bit on the more spirited side of moderate. we rode across the lower trails to stony run and then climbed up stony run to tuscarora overlook where we lost Joe Penano due to some miscommunications - we found him later in the day. after a quick stop at the overlook we consulted the map and decided to try the lookout rock downhill. i'd never riddedn it and afterwards i wish i'd ridden it before. it was a great rocky and rooty downhill, a bit steeper than the rest of the trails in the park. after a quick stop at the campground to refill waterbottles we went out and hit the mountainside to brushy hollow loop again and then went back over to the trails on the west side of the park for another quick downhill. we managed the whole ride in less than 4 hours and then i had to head home.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
5 minutes into the ride i started hearing unusual noises coming from the singleator and decided to stop and check it out when i got to a good place to stop. 10 seconds later i start to pedal and something feels wrong... a strange noise, the pedals just spin, no resistance, no speeding up. i stop and look down, expecting to see nothing more than my chain off the chainring, but then i notice my singleator, or rather half a singleator. the pulley and chain guides were gone (along with whatever hardware was holding them on) leaving me with a spring loaded arm and silver axle attached to my bike, not very useful for tensioning a chain. i managed to find one of the silver chain guides, but none of the other pieces... the whole thing was under tension when it exploded, so they probably flew off into the undergrowth. i took the chain off and walked, scooted, and coasted my way back to the trailhead.
broke out the tracer for the ride, which i hadn't ridden since my dnf at the schwenksville race back in march. the bushings in the shock needed to be replaced and i finally got the replacement bushings, reducers and tool that i ordered on friday so i swapped out the bushing after work and put a set of big intense system 4 cross country tires that i used to use all the time.
the bike and tires felt great for the first half of the ride on the sometimes flowy, sometimes technical patapsco downhills and they were hooking up well on the climbs. i took a little while to readjusting to the tracer after riding the epic all summer. where the epic is fast, twitchy, and jumpy the tracer likes to stick to the ground and flow through whatever it come up on.
when we went over to the howard county side of the park my troubles started... following tommy into a hard right turn my front wheel broke loose and i went over the bars, taking most of the impact on my right knee, and putting a pretty good gash in it. a little while later, following tommy down a long fast downhill i overcooked a left turn and my tire broke away in the sandy soil and i supermaned over the bars... then exactly the same 5 minutes later.
part of the problem was probably riding trails that i only faintly know faster than i should, but i think these tires are coming off the bike... i might put a set of big motoraptors on or try out some of the 2.3 nokian nbx's that they've got in the shop. the intense system 4's would probably be good winter tires when the trails have a tack to them, but they didn't handle the sandy and loose conditions we've got right now. a day of rain would be a good thing right now.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
i'd driven down the day before with matt and his wife katie, set up camp with the MORE contingent in a nice and shady part of the campground that scudamore had managed to reserve, and got a quick ride in to make sure my legs were loose after the drive. the order of business for the rest of afternoon involved a strict regimen of eating a lot, drinking a lot of gatorade, a little bit of bike maintenance, and a lot of socializing.
back to sunday morning and the starting line... a quick reminder from chris scott on the course markings and as soon as it's light enough the moto pulls out, leading us down to the driveway of the campground and towards the road. pretty chaotic at the start: 350 riders, most barely conscious but with adrenalin flowing. onto the roads towards the first climb of the day i'm taking it easy, just trying to get warmed up. my sunglasses are stuck in the vents of my helmet since it's still too dark to see with them on. joel gwadz and mike scardaville both pass me as we make the turn onto the road leading to narrowback and soon we're turning onto the fireroad. the road rolls up and down along the ridge, slowly gaining altitude and i'm trading places back and forth with a couple of riders, some of whom look like they're working way too hard for this early in the day. once the fireroad turns more concertedly uphill i was passed by evan and then frank from mt. nittany wheelworks and larry camp on their singlespeeds. saw chris redlack for the first of many times.
riding up towards reddish knob welp and ezra fly past me in a paceline and i try to hang but soon give up (too much work too early in the day) and find myself riding with larry and frank. just as we're coming to the turn towards reddish knob a large pack comes up behind us led by andrew from wooden wheels. knowing that the turn is coming, and not knowing if the rest of this group does, i decided to get to the front of the pack to make sure that there are no problems with the turn. lynn trail was less painful than last year and with the size of the group that i was riding with there was a bit of groupthink going on about when to ride and when to walk. the wolf ridge downhill was a blast. i wasn't a big fan of this trail when i first rode it last year, but the more i ride it the more it grows on me. the top section is a great ridgeline downhill and then in the lower section becomes rocky chute that makes your arms scream and your hands lock up. on the road leading to aid station 2 i caught up with frank and larry again and then went ahead of them as the road turned downhill and i could hammer in the big ring for a while. larry caught me again just before the aid station and we talked about how we felt. he was feeling good and i was worried that, since i was keeping up with him, i'd gone out too fast.
jon wheaton was still in the aid station as i stashed my arm and knee warmers, got my camelbak filled up, grabbed my extra hammer gel flask from my drop bag, and refilled my container of endurolytes. i was back on the road pretty quickly after eating a pb & j and a banana and i was heading towards the bottom of the hankey mountain climb. larry and frank come by me once again, but i was feeling pretty strong. after making the turn to continue the climb up hankey towards dowell's draft i caught sight of jon up ahead and started shrinking the gap between us. we rode together for a while and he mentioned that mike scardaville was just up ahead. i was climbing pretty well and soon i was ahead of jon and closing in on mike as we approached he top of hankey. as we got to the top i came by mike, then a little while later he got back in front of me as the trail rolled along the top of the ridge before starting the downhill. the hankey downhill goes on forever, weaving along the contours of the side of the ridge on a tiny ribbon of trail sometimes as narrow as 9 inches wide but so well made that you can hold a lot of speed. this is one of the only downhills i know that seems to get longer every time i ride it. i passed matt along the downhill as he was fixing what turned out to be his second flat of the day and then passed mike as he bobbled on the downhill and pulled to the side of the trail. i followed by almost doing the same thing 2 minutes later as my front wheel got too far to the outside of the trail and started to slip down the side of the hill. rolling into the aid station i saw joel for the first time since the start just before he hit the road. another quick fill up and mike and i hit the road for the ride out to mountain house and the braley's pond loop.
on the road i made a quick time check. i was just about on track for my goal of 11-12 hours, perhaps even slightly ahead. mike and i swept up 2 riders into our group and the found ourselves closing in on a bigger group. we we caught the group and i settled as mike and another rider from our group kept charging down the road. up untill this point in the day i'd had no problems with cramping, but i was worried about the climb up from mountain house to the top of the braley's pond downhill, it's a steep climb and has a couple of sections where the pitch kicks up and forces you to put a bit more power down to keep going. i had a twitch of cramping in the quads on the lower section of the climb so i stopped for a second and took a couple of extra endurolytes and a couple swigs of gatorade and made an effort to keep my gearing a bit lower and keep spinning. this climb wasn't the monster that it was the first couple of times that i rode it, but it's still a long and slow climb. thankfully though the reward for that climb is the sweetest downhill on the course. the downhill starts out a little sketchy, kind of loose and rocky, with some really narrow sections, but as it makes it way down to the bottom the surface improves and soon you're slaloming through the trees faster than you think you'd ever be able to. at the bottom of the downhill i see that jon wheaton was right behind me on the downhill and we ride the mile or two into aid station 4 together.
jon and i headed out of aid station 4 just after matt and in pretty short order we picked up another couple of riders and were setting a pretty quick pace - a bit to fast of a pace for my legs. jon and i dropped off the back of that group and took it easy for a while. as we made the left turn to start heading to the climb up shenandoah mountain my legs were starting to hurt and soon i was well behind jon and lots of riders were passing me. up untill this point i'd been close to a ten hour pace and i thought that i might be paying for setting to fast of a pace. around this time i couple of decisions i made at aid station 4 came back to haunt me - my stomach was a little off coming into the aid station so i had the volunteers top up my camelbak with water and for some reason i filled my waterbottle with water as well as i was leaving - as i realized that i was running out of endurolytes. i took what i had left and tried to keep a pace that i could hold comfortably untill i got to the turn onto the climb.
once i hit the climb things started to turn around. i was able to get back into my climbing mode, shift down into the granny and spin my way up the five miles to the next aid station. it was a long climb, and at times i felt like i was crawling, and even got off the bike to walk a couple of steps to break up the monotony a bit. i got to aid station 5 a little ahead of the goal i'd set for myself on the road and decided to take a longer break than most than i had at the other aid stations. i refilled with gatorade, re-stocked my endurolytes from my drop bag, and had some food. joe penano, markie, and mark wigfield came into the aid station while i was there and after about 15 minutes i left with joe & jon to finish the climb up to little bald knob. the three of us rode together for the flat section and short downhill after the aid station but got dropped as the climb started up again.
the chestnut ridge downhill from little bald knob was a lot of fun. last year it seemed like it was full of little climbs but this year they didn't seem as bad. once i hit the skid road i was flying and it looked like it was going to get to aid station 6 a little earlier than i'd guessed at the top of the downhill and i might have a chance to finish in under 11 hours. when aid station 6 my stopwatch was reading 9:50 and i grabbed a couple of ibuprofen and banana and a red bull and was back on the road by 9:53.
i rode as hard as i could on the road to hankey and then set about setting a good pace up to the turn on lookout, in the little ring but a couple of cogs down from the 34 in the back. somehow i managed to dig down and find something to keep me going on the climb as i counted down the turns and then made the left turn onto lookout and started down the trail towards the final downhills. i hadn't remembered this section of the trail being so long so i was a bit worried untill i saw the turn arrows pointing onto the stribling springs trail. i rode the downhill fast - brakes squealing like i've never heard before, but that just made me use them less - and onto the fireroad. i pushed as hard as could on the fireroad and then saw the turn onto the downhill into the campground and weaved down through the tents and crossed the line with seven minutes to spare before 11 hours.
after the race i had some great food, several great beers, and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing, hanging out with friends, and waiting for more people to finish. after the awards (where i got a mention for cutting over 4 hours from my time from last year and a trip to the swag table) i ran into brian nutter, who i'd finished the race with last year. he'd finished in just over 12 hours this year, cutting 3 hours off last year's time.
thanks to all the great volunteers for keeping me going at the aid stations
thanks to all of the friends that were out there racing and volunteering
thanks to all of my city bikes teammates
thanks to all of the other racers for making the vibe at this event so cool
thanks to all of the shenandoah mountain bike club crew for keeping these amazing trails in such great shape
and of course many, many, thanks to chris scott for putting on such a great event...
Monday, September 05, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
pete lent me his cool little Light & Motion Vega light which is pretty small & light. it's a single 5(?) watt LED with a built in rechargeable battery. hopefully i'll be finishing before dark this year, but it'll be nice to have a something small i can toss in my drop bag without taking up too much space.
the nervous energy/excitement/anticipation is building up... more than last year. higher expectations maybe or the fact that i know how hard of a day it's going to be any yet i'm going back for more.
good luck to everyone who's racing (or just riding) this weekend and have fun...
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
8 days to go untill the main event of the summer, my second time around at the shenandoah mountain 100. i've been trying to keep my expectations in check for how i'll do this year - the doubt about whether i can finish has been removed after last year's result, but how much of a difference will this year's training make. i'm definately a different rider than i was last year and i think i can finish under (or at least around) twelve hours if i'm smart about keeping a good pace and not wasting time in the aid stations.
wednesday night i was riding at schaeffer riding back on the doubletrack through the fields i stopped on top of the one of hills, struck by the beauty of the scene before me... the grassy rolling hills bathed in the magic-hour sunset light, the cornfields glowing yellow, the trees surrounding the fields rimmed with a beautiful orange glow, the red-clay dirt of the trail ahead of me, another riding off in the distance cresting the next hill. love these evening rides... sometimes it's great to have company on a ride, but this was definately a great night to be out on your own, alone with your thoughts...
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
felt really strong on the climbs so i'm feeling pretty good going into the sm100 in 2 weeks. my calves were on the verge of cramping for a lot of the day, but i think most of that was from the walking and doing so much more out of the saddle climbing. the next two weeks are all about resting up and making sure i go into the 100 healthy and in good shape. anyone up for an easy ride at schaeffer tommorow night?
massive thanks to eric roman and all in the state college crew who helped put on such a great event. a bunch of pros and luminaries were mixed in with the already eclectic singlespeed crowd: gary fisher, jacqui phelan, jeff jones, keith bontrager, travis brown, marla streb, adam craig, and more...
sorry for the short post, but blogger ate my first post and i don't have the energy to re-write it...
Monday, August 22, 2005
saturday night after hanging out a tony's big easy at the party/registration a bunch of us walked over to zeno's since they had a better beer selection and stumbled on a really cool band - angry johnny & the killbillies - and $2.50 Dogfish 60-Minute IPAs
Friday, August 19, 2005
made it to wakefield last night for the thursday ride and did one of casual groups with my brother & dan. nice wasy night on the singlespeed... everyone was discussing plans for this weekend. think i'm going to bail on camping and just get a cheap motel room on saturday night since it's only for the one night and i'm going to hit the road right after the race.
was going to try to hit schaeffer tonight, but this rain doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
anyone up for a casual schaeffer singlespeed ride tommorow evening?
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
as usual, it ended up with a 'duh' moment as i realized what the problem was.
time to head home...
Friday, August 05, 2005
the republicans have realized that the legacy of reagan, if it's looked at on just on the facts, won't match up with their mythic image of him, so they're trying to create the myth...
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
the heat of city hit me like a sauna when i opened the back door from the newly air conditioned basement tonight, but once i was on the road and in the shade of rock creek park the heat index fell victim to my human powered wind-chill... an hour in the park, legs turning a nice smooth tempo, easy gears, spinning on the climbs with one eye on my heart rate - no reason to work to hard today... wakefield tomorrow, then a nice long ride up at the 'shed this weekend.
might ride out to wakefield on sunday and volunteer at the cranky monkey dirt crit. i figure i can get a ride in, watch some friends race, and help out jim in one... anyone know a good way to get from the w&od to wakefield?
this is dc, it's august, this is what the weather is like... but thinking back on my reaction today to weather i'm reminded of the first time i felt washington humidity.
late july or august 1984, dulles airport... we'd just arrived in the US for the first time from england and having spent a hour or two getting through immigration and customs in the frigid terminal walked out into the sea of asphalt outside. i had no frame of reference by which to judge this weather, being used to warm & sunny or cold & drizzly back home... the heat, the humidity, even the intensity of the sun reflecting back off concrete & asphalt was like nothing i'd ever felt before. there's a picture floating around in an album or shoebox at my parents house of my sister flopped down on top of one of our suitcases, a victim of the heat...
just a bit of a sense memory that popped up...
yeah, maybe he doesn't get it, but i think i know why...
there's been a thread in the MORE forums today started by a guy who claimed that he rode wakefield and just didn't get it. where was the challenge? did he miss some hidden trails somewhere? "this" isn't mountain biking?
he might have been referring to the trails, but i think i know what he missed... the people.
wakefield (and accotink) is what it is, a small park right by the beltway with a lot of trails stuffed into land with not a lot of elevation gain. what wakefield is, and what he probably didn't see, is a social gathering place of the mountain bike community. it's a place for beginners to start riding and meet up with other riders, a place for a quick after work ride with your friends, a place for a race against your rivals (and friends), a place for long time riders to get together and hang out.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
last night's race was no disappointment as i ended up racing all out for 3 laps with joe penano to set up a sprint to the line for 12 place (which i lost - i was gaining heading to the line, but just couldn't make up the difference). we traded places a couple of times during the race and joe had me totally maxed out on the last lap just trying to hold his wheel. i think i might have been able to get a gap after i passed him on the 2nd lap if we hadn't been passed by a couple of masters 35 riders going into the woods... they didn't keep as fast a pace as i would have liked, but i couldn't get around them.
my placings in the series -27th (mechanicals), 16th, 13th, & 13th - may be lower than they where last year and the year before, but i'm much happier with them. this field keeps getting bigger and faster, and it's doing it at the front of the field. there's no way that last year i could've finished within a minute of ricky (even if he overshot a turn and had to fight through traffic) or ended up in a sprint with joe or butch.
if you're in the dc area and not racing wednesdays at wakefield, why not? PVC put on a great series, mostly through the hard work of wakefield racing guru larry cautilli...
results are finally posted for fairhill. looks like i was 6th of 12 (2 dnfs) in sport sr II and only 8 minutes off the winning time. not bad, given that i didn't try for a good start and was focusing on pacing.
Monday, July 18, 2005
7 or 8 miles in on a fast grassy downhill the rider 10' in front of me wrecked, then through some combination of panic and hitting the same thing he did i wrecked in the same place and had the wind knocked out of me... i stood by the trail for a couple of minutes to get my breath back and check out my bike. back on the bike and after a couple of minutes i'm back in the swing of things... manage to pass some of the riders that came around me while i was on the ground. the trail just kept going and going, but the miles kept ticking off as we wound our way through the trees with little breaks on old degraded roads. by this point all of the classes were pretty mixed up and it was hard to tell who was racing who and i traded places a couple of times with a few riders.
by the end of the race i was pretty well spent. i was riding the steadily, but was a lot slower on the technical sections and starting to suffer on the climbs. 3 or 4 miles from the end joel came around me on a climb and decided to try to latch on to his wheel. having a friendly jersey to ride behind helped and i started to get a bit of a 2nd wind. joel crashed on the entrance to a bridge, i made it around him and continued on... my brother was waiting near the end of the course taking pictures, another little boost. hit the last section of the day - a short dirt road downhill, then a climb to the paved road to the finish - and pulled ahead of a singlespeeder i'd been riding near all day. at the top of the dirt road, just as i was about to hit the pavement and within a 50 yards of the finish my legs started to do what they'd been threatening to do for the past hour... all of the muscles in my legs started cramping at the same time. i shifted down and managed to limp the last few yards across the finish line and into the timing chute.
i finished in 2:22 for 6th place sport 30-34, but i'm not sure how many finishers there were. a long, hard morning, but a great course and a lot of fun - in that strange way that make mountain bike races fun.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
the singlespeed class looked small at first, but eventually it swelled to over 20 riders. a couple of conspicuous no-shows - ricky, joe p, butch - but a good field none the less. my start was ok, no wrecks to avoid this week. got a bar-end tangled up in something coming out of the creek crossing at the end of salamander and lost a couple of places but managed to keep up a good pace.
on the climb back into the powerlines a couple of riders, including blake from the bike lane passed me and i scrambled to catch his wheel as we rode down the powerlines. knowing that i'd blown up a bit on the last lap two weeks ago i held off a bit and tucked in behind him for the rest of the lap. knowing that i could ride a harder pace than he was holding i came around him at the end of the first lap, just before the start finish. i lost one more place as a rider that'd been on my tail came around me on the climb back into the powerlines on the 2nd lap. i think he managed to get past a couple more riders and i thought i was gaining on the riders ahead of me by the last lap, but problems getting past a lapped beginner rider left me with more time than i could make up.
i ended up 13th of 23 starters, not a bad result. i liked the shorter course since there was less chance to be caught on the long flats... i dialed my effort back a bit on the first lap after having a pretty big drop-off in my 3rd lap 2 weeks ago, but with the shorter course i probably could have ridden a bit harder, since i didn't feel anywhere near as worked as i was 2 weeks ago.
Monday, July 11, 2005
by the time i got home and pulled the old tape off i'd started thinking about tweaking the position of my bars and brake levers, and before i knew it i'd taken the bars off to swap them out for a pair i'd had in the parts box since i built my cyclocross bike a couple of years ago. the replacement bars had a shallower drops than the bars i was using and i thought they might give me a more comfortable position down in the drops.
turns out i was right about the bars, but the best part was the new tape - just plain black cinelli cork, but for the first time it didn't look like the job was done by a blindfolded monkey... nice consistent overlap, smooth, no bludges or loose spots on the bends, and nice tidy ends that didn't need a yard of electrical tape to hold them down.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Monday, July 04, 2005
the fireroad up to woodstock tower wasn't that bad. a little steep towards the end, but nothing too bad, and the views at the end from the tower were worth the ride. from there we worked on finding the massehutten trail to ride back north along the ridge. the entrance to the trail was overgrown but once we found it we were treated to miles of undulating and technical ridge trail. this trail was great fun as a technical challenge, no good for a beginner rider, but a lot of fun if you want to push yourself and don't mind the occasional fall. most of the trail consisted of slow-speed rock obstacles that at times were just shy of belonging on a trials course, but if you took your time most were rideable. i normally consider this kind of slow technical riding one of my weaknesses, but i amazed myself with some of the sections i was able to ride.
from the ridge we had a rocky downhill back down to the fireroad that we had climbed up to the tower on and were soon at the point that we'ed broken away from the usual bear wallow route. we climbed up to and around the reservoir on the fireroad and then started bear wallow, riding for as long as we could before the start of the hike-a-bike. i managed to ride a few sections near the top of the climb, but this far into such a long ride i didn't try much. we took a pretty long break at the top to let everyone regroup and asess our situation. a couple of people were completely out of water & food, so we redistributed as much as we could before we started on the downhill. once we got past the really rocky section at the top, bear wallow was a really nice downhill, not as smooth as the downhills in the harrisonburg area, but still a lot of fun. a couple of flats on the way down slowed the descent down a bit, bit it still seemed - as it always does - too short.
my brother and i had planned on staying down in harrisonburg on last night and then heading down for a ride at douthat today, but yesterday's ride was longer than expected and the rocks really wore us down. with an important soccer camp coming up this week, my brother decided that another ride would be too much, so we came home last night.
my legs are pretty sore from this weekend, so i think i might hit schaeffer this afternoon for a quick recovery spin.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
first lap was really fast, passed a bunch of riders, finished the first lap in 13th. second lap i just trying to hang on, lost 1 place. at the start of the last lap hand to get off on the climb up to the finish and then slid out on the entrance to the singletrack and lost a couple of seconds getting back on the bike. a group of riders caught up to me on the cinder trail & creek trail, then tried to get past on the climb back to the powerlines. one flew by, but i managed to hang with the other 2 - butch & stewart, who i'd passed on the first lap. the three of us rode together for the last half of the lap, probably all with the same plan: try to hang with the others until the end and then sprint.
we stayed in the same order for the rest of the lap, butch first, me 2nd, stewart in 3rd. on the final climb up from the stream crossing, stewart flew by the two of us. when we hit the finishing straight i was a couple of bike lengths behind butch but i went into sprint mode and managed to catch get him by a wheel at the line for 16th place. it may not seem like much of a victory, but it was a big improvement from last week, and the best wakefield singlespeed showing i've ever had, given the size of the field. the singlespeed field at wakefield keeps getting bigger and faster.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
If you didn't see it last time I'd highly recommend getting to this show. It's a great documentary that takes you inside the battle for the lat year's Olympic mountain biking team slots, lots of drama, emotion, and some pretty cool racing shots as well. They sold out 2 shows last month, so make sure to get your tickets early.
More Info & Film Tour Schedule/Tickets
went back to schaeffer by myself this afternoon and just rode... around and around for almost 3 hours hitting almost every inch of trail, most several times over. mixed up the pace, pushing hard sometimes, taking it easy other times, tried not to stop more than i needed. had more chain issues near the start of my ride. shifting problems caused something to happen (not sure exactly what) that mangled a link in the new chain i put on at big bear. pulled out the half mangled link and threw a master link in it's place. gotta see if i can get pick up some pc-99s, these pc-990s don't seem to be holding up. still, a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon...
Thursday, June 23, 2005
lined up in the 2nd row of a huge singlespeed class for the always awful start up the gravel road. figured that i'd try to see how far up i could get in the order when we hit the singletrack, since there was little chance of doing anything but falling back once we were there. it worked and by the time we hit the trails i was probably top 10 and held that position out around the first section of the new trails and onto the powerlines. turning off the powerlines i slid out and hit the deck, then felt another bike hit me while i was on the ground. lost a couple of places there, but i used the creek trail to catch up again and was in good position as we headed back to the powerlines. had to dismount and run the climb back to the powerlines as i couldn't find a good line and got stuck in traffic. back on the bike and i couldn't clip my right foot into my pedal. stop. check the pedal, no it's ok... check the cleat, there's the problem, it's very loose.
i stop and fish out my multitool and try to turn the mud filled bolts while the entire singlespeed field passes me. managed to get 1 bolt tight and hopped back on my bike and start passing the slower singlespeed riders. almost bite it around another corner and with the clouds building i can barely see in the woods with my sunglasses on. last climb to the finish is a hard one for me on the singlespeed, with the loose surface it's a 50/50 as to whether i'll get up it and this time i pick a bad line, don't make it up, and hit the deck as my right foot doesn't release in time... cleat bolts are too loose to clip in and once again standing on one leg by the trail, fumbling with the multitool while the riders i just got past are coming by. came through the start/finish at the end of my first lap in 34th place.
this pattern - stop to tighten bolts, get passed, start riding, pass the same 3 or 4 guys - repeated itself a couple of more times untill i took the time to sit down, dig the dirt out of the bolt heads and tighten them properly half way around the 2nd lap, but the extra time it took, and running into the back of the 2-lap beginner field made it harder to catch the other riders that last time. i thought about dropping out a couple of times, but every time i did, something kept telling me to at least finish, and at least try not to DFL... on the last lap i managed to pull myself up to 27th, i almost caught dave vannier at the finish, but the marshalls were moving the course tape for the start of the 7:00 pm races and pushed me into the woods and off my bike coming into the finishing straight.
many lessons learned and there are 3 more races left in the series...
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
spent thursday night up at my parents so that my brother and i could hit the road early to make sure that we got a good spot to camp. he came along to help us --a team with no name -- out at the race. the drive was easy, a bit under 3 hours from upper montgomery county, even with a quick detour around frederick to avoid a backup on 70. rather than the disjointed camping arrangements on the side of a hill at snowshoe, all of the camping was in together along an old unused airstrip, nice an flat, and most importantly, pretty dry considering that the area had gotten some rain in the couple of days before the race. we found an area to camp fairly close to start/finish that looked like it would hold us and the "ten pound monkeys" who were planning to camp with us and started setting up. the rest of friday afternoon was spent waiting for teammates, riding around the venue, enjoying some refreshments, and catching up with friends on other teams.
the sunlight got us up early, earlier than you really want to before an event like this but a couple cups of good coffee (serious props to the coffee vendor for some good product) and a bowl of instant oatmeal always make for a good start to the day. spent a bit of time watching the trials competition that was going on around the venue and listened to the normal pre-race talk from laird. mike was nominated for the run and first lap and talked my way into the 2nd position, having done a bit of research and figuring out that it was the position most likely to have only 1 full night lap. jon bruck took the 3rd spot, tris 4th, and jon wheaton (who hadn't arrived untill 3 am) got the 5th position. darren, a friend who offered to come down and wrench for us, showed up and we all watched the start.
waiting for mike to come in from the first lap it became clear that this course was riding a bit longer than expected. lap times had been expected to be under an hour for pros and around 1:20 for sport but the first rider (from a duo/pro team) came through the transition tent at 1:08 and the first sport riders started coming though at about 1:20. ezra (from the ten pound monkeys) came through around 1:30 and said that he'd broken his chain, and mike had broken his twice. mike was in 5 minutes later and i was off.
and then within the first 200 yards of singletrack i was on the ground looking at a bike with a broken chain. the first section of course looked like it had just been cut and was pretty rough. i'm not sure exactly what happened... i remember holding a nose-wheelie for a while and then knowing that something was wrong with the bike before i even looked at it, and then seeing the end of the chain hanging from the cassette. since i was just inside the woods next to the campground a couple of spectators offered to go get someone from my team to help and soon my brother and wheaton were both there. i found the power-link that i keep in my camelbak and managed to get the chain fixed myself in a couple of minutes, even though i was fumbling around a lot thanks to all of the adrenaline rushing through my blood.
i was back up a riding after losing seven or eight minutes and finally getting the lap started for real. the first half of the lap was rolling singletrack and overgrown fireroads with a couple of short rocky power climbs thrown in. pretty slick from the rain and previous riders but all rideable. thanks to my broken chain and mike's twice broken chain we were a little way back in the field, so i was passing riders pretty consistently. i was trying to keep a steady pace to make sure that i didn't blow up or make another stupid mistake, but the constant supply of targets to catch made sure that i didn't take it too easy. after the first rolling section you hit a fireroad for a 1/4 mile or so, a great place to eat and drink, or just put the gas on, depending on what you need, then turns into an area that was planted as a tree farm and the trail snakes through the pines on beautiful bermed turns.
after the berms the trail starts to get a bit more rocky, rolling for a while, then hitting the longest downhill of the course, a fun, fast, and loose rocky descent down into and then through a creek. having seen the course profile i knew that this was lowest point of the course and that you climb back to the top in 3 sections, with more up & down singletrack between them. the first climb was on an old fireroad and very muddy, but the mud was wet enough that it didn't slow you down. the 2nd was on singletrack, and the last and biggest on a combination of the two. nothing really long and all rideable except for a couple stretches of the last one that were about 50/50, depending on how fresh you were.
in between the climbs the 2nd half of the course was more rocky than on the first half of the course with short technical climbs and descents thrown in. at the bottom of the last climb was large boulder field that i only saw 1 rider even attempt to ride on any of my laps. once you hit the top of the last climb there was a gentle descent back to the camprgound on slick & rocky trails. then across the bridge into the start/finish tent to meet our next rider. 1:35 for my first lap with almost ten minutes lost to my broken chain.
by this point it was becoming pretty clear that we weren't going to be doing 4 laps a peice as i'd assumed and 3 each seemed more likely. the long lap, plus the 5 person team meant that we had plenty of recovery time, so i made some dinner and spent some time watching the race in the woods by the campground. darren swapped my chain out for a new one and fixed some strange cable routing heading to the rear derailler that was making shifting harder than it needed to be.
went out just before 10 and made it out of the campground without breaking my chain. the first half of this lap felt really fast. marc vettori passed me on the first section, flying up a climb on his rigid singlespeed. i tried in vain to keep up but there was no hope. a few minutes later i hit a downhill fireroad section i saw a rider up ahead and thinking it may be him i put the bike in a big gear turned on the juice to try to chase him down. coming into the bermed pine forest section the rider i'd reduced the gap and was still closing in. three turns ahead, then 2, 1, and i'd caught him. turned out it wasn't vettori though. as the rider moved over to let me past him, i looked over and it was gary fisher pro solo rider cam chambers. sure he was on his 8th lap and pacing himself for a long night, but it was pretty cool to have a pro solo rider let me by and then hang onto my wheel.
a couple minutes later i passed a speedgoat rider, and while i didn't get a good look at him or his number i thought it might be the sologoat. flew down the long downhill to mile 6 with at least one of the two behind me. felt like i rode the downhill twice as fast as i did durning the day, but it was probably just the darkness making it feel like that. after a while the sologoat came by me and it didn't seem like chamber was back there any more. i managed to hang onto his wheel for a little while. cam chambers came by in the boulder section - he was the only rider i saw try to ride it. my quads and vmo's were pretty close to cramping near the end of the lap but i managed to keep them moving and made it to the end without cramping. finished the lap in 1:35, same as my first lap.
i had a bit of a headache after my lap, so i was worried that i wasn't hydrating well. took a little while to cool off and made a cup of instant soup. it really hit the spot and by the time i finished the soup my headache was gone. too amped up after my lap to sleep so i waited around for the next transition then hit the sack for a bit of rest before my next lap. didn't really get much sleep, but at least i was lying down.
people had been saying for weeks that the course was a good one for singlespeeds and since my other geared bike was in need of work i brought mine along for the weekend as a backup bike, but made sure to take enough parts to make it into a geared bike. reports from us postal, the big meats, and hunter thomson experience were good too, so by the 2nd half of my 2nd lap (after getting passed by vettori) i was thinking i'd ride it on my last lap. i was a bit worried that my lap would be slower than normal and i didn't want to deprive anyone on the team of a third lap, so i ran it past them and they were all ok with it. wheaton and tris had already decided to switch laps on the last rotation since jon would be more likely to get in before 12 if it came down to the wire.
had another cup of soup when i got up and started to get my bike ready for my lap. dug out a set of cane creek bar-ends that i had in my parts box and put them on the IF, and added a bottle cage - my back had been hurting, so i decided to go out without a camelbak on this lap to see if it would help.
the first section of the course felt good, up out of the saddle on the short climbs. my legs where pretty much gone by the top but there was enough recovery time and i was really digging the new bar ends. still managed to pass geared riders, but figured i was running behind my pace from my first 2 laps, and at this point i was hoping to come in at 1:45 or 1:50.
coming off the long downhill into the first of the 3 climbs back to the top i was feeling pretty good, getting warmed up and into the rythym of the singlespeed. there were a few sections in the singletrack climbs where i just ran out of power and had to walk, but not many more than when i was riding the geared bike. coming into the boulder section and looking at the time it started to dawn on me that i might be able to finish in about the same time as my first 2 laps, or even faster. walked most of the first section of the last climb and then started riding again once the climb switched to doubletrack. i was riding with an expert rider (on a singlespeed) and checking my time constantly, trying to make sure i beat my time. passed crashmore on the the climb then saw darren out in the woods playing his banjo. got caught up in some traffic on the final singletrack section, but managed to stay upright through some rocky sections and get around most of the slower riders. one last time over the bridge and around one last rider into the transition tent to hand off to jon bruck and clock out at 1:32.... my fastest lap of the race.
bruck turned in his fastest lap of the race and then wheaton went out to try and get back in before 12 so that tris could get in a third lap. we all waited at the finish line as the clock ticked down, but it wasn't to be. jon made it into the tent at 12:02, just too late to get that extra lap in. we ended up with 14 laps for 8th of 21 teams in the 5-person/open class and 41st overall, right behind the boys from US Postal (joe, ricky, erin, and jason).
this was a great race, mostly because of a great course. the course was wet and in places very muddy but unlike snowshoe it was 99% rideable. it was technical enough to keep you on your toes but not so technical as to put less skilled riders off their bikes and the climbs were varied and well paced. there were plenty of sections to pass as a lot of the singletrack was on overgrown doubletrack.
the condensed venue also made for a more intimate feel for the event, although this may not last if it rebounds and they have to develop more camping areas - the 144 teams in attendance this year just about filled the existing camping area.
thanks to jj & darren for helping around the camp, all the ten pound monkeys for being great company (and bringing the monkey bike), and of course to the rest of "a team with no name" - mike, tris, jon, & jon - for being great teamates and making this a great race.