Thursday, June 30, 2005

that's a bit more like it - wakefield #2

no blow-by-blow account of the race this week, it's all at bit too much of a blur to remember much detail... the start: almost took butch & myself out right at the start when i tapped his tire with mine, got back on the bike near the back of the pack and managed to avoid the pileup that happened right in front of me. passed junkins just before the start of the trail and probably hit the singletrack around 20th of 30 starters.

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


the wakefield racing butterflies are setting in right on time... maybe it's the extra cup of coffee i had this morning or maybe it's knowing that most of the race is decided in first 20 seconds on the mad dash up the gravel road at the start, but i always seem to get really jittery before these races... .

Monday, June 27, 2005

Off Road to Athens - 2nd Chance

After the sell-out shows in arlington earlier this month, it looks like Jason Berry & Ken Bell have got another local screening of "Off Road to Athens" lined up for July 21st at the Bethesda Row Cinemas in Bethesda, MD...

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

lots and lots of schaeffer farms...

started off the weekend with my first look at the new hoyles mill connector... as one of the MORE picnic rides, we (mike miller, ricky, joe yannie, and a couple of guys i didn't know) did a lap of schaeffer at a breakneck pace, then picked up a couple of other riders (dan, susan, and pooch) and headed out on the connector towards black hill regional park. the pace settled down a bit, but many, many mechanicals - and a couple of falls - made for a long day. the connector is really well ridden in for a trail that's less than a year (or in some cases a month) old. the trail still isn't continuous singletrack, but most of the places that it's on trail are really nice and a couple of sections on the black hills side that rich edwards built with the machine are really really sweet and flowy. we rode some rarely ridden trails on the north side of black hill, then hit the hard rock & cabin branch trails before heading back towards schaeffer. by the time we got back to the cars we had 35 miles of riding behind us and had been out for over 5 hours. the time seems like we were taking it easy, but we actually pushed a pretty hard pace the whole time, there were just a lot of breaks, but that seems to be case with some group rides, especially when you're hitting trails that people don't know.

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

good days and bad days... wakefield #1

there are good days and bad days, good races and bad races... last night's wednesdays at wakefield season opener skewed more to the latter than the former. in spite of setting a goal of finishing well in sport for the series i made a last minute change and decided to race singlespeed for the sheer why-the-hell-not factor. the singlespeed class is always fun, even if i get smoked every time i try.

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

24 hours of big bear

since i didn't start riding until a couple of years ago i missed the 'good old days' of the 24 hours of canaan. last year i rode my first 24 at the last 24 hours of snowshoe, and even if it hadn't been the last it would have been my last. the venue seemed good but the course was a disaster. in spite of granny's efforts, snowshoe seemed more like a 24 hour death march through foot deep peanut butter mud than a bike race. sitting around the campfire a couple of weeks ago in stokesville i listened to a couple of veterans of the old canaan race talk about those good old days, without much hope that big bear would revive the race, but after this weekend i think this event might be on the rebound.


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.

counting down...

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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.


lap 1

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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.


lap 2

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.

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lap 3

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.

the finish

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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).

post race

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.


Monday, June 20, 2005


damn this big bear post is taking a long time... it's in the works though, so tune in later if you're hoping to catch it. i've got 150+ pics to post as well. long story short: the course rocked and the race rocked.

wakefield races start on wednesday and i'm torn between racing singlespeed and sport. i was planning on racing sport and trying to get a top 10 in the series, but after having such a good lap on my singlespeed at big bear this weekend (1:32, my fastest even though it was my last lap) i'm having second thoughts. i'm not fast enough to be competitive with the crazy fast singlespeeders, but it's a fun class.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


back on the bike... i've taken the last couple days off to make sure i'm completely over whatever hit me this weekend relaxing at home, catching up on some stuff around the house, and getting some good sleep. went to schaeffer last night with my brother and one of his friends for a really easy spin to see how my legs and lungs are feeling... so far they're feeling pretty good and i wasn't plunged back into sickness this morning, so that's got to be a good sign...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Saturday: Hoyles Mill Trailwork, 2 Hr Road Ride w/Matt, Dinner with the Family
Sunday: Sick in Bed
Today: At home, Still Sick