Wednesday, May 30, 2007

if it's memorial day, it must be stokesville...

another great memorial day weekend down at stokesville. rolled down early with jason and then led a (thankfully) small group around a dowell's draft/braley pond figure 8. mostly folks i knew, but i got to ride with liz, of ride like a girl fame, and blacknell. i've said it here before, but dowell's and braley are two of my favorite rides anywhere, and doing both in one day is always fun.

saturday night was the potluck and campfire. heather picked out some good beers at work (including breckenridge small-batch double hopped IPA, stone ruination IPA) and between those, a tasty IPA from shenadoah brewing company, and tequila at Joe Penano's campsite, we were in a very festive mood saturday night.

sunday matt, jamie, and i set out with camps, buchness, and junkins and a couple of other riders for a turn up lyne trail and down wolf ridge. the ride up lyne is one of the hardest climbs in the forest, and never fun. i was able to clean about as much as i ever can, but is wasn't disappointed.

after finishing the wolf ridge downhill matt, jamie, and i split off from the group - which was heading up narrowback to check out some new trails - with lou and rose and headed back to the campground. on the way back in we passed heather so i hung a 180 and we rode around the dirt roads a bit and then made our way back.

the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and rehydrating and playing around a bit in the skills park that dan and rich from IMBA set up. i tried a couple of the skinnies and drops, and the teeter toter.

monday morning after breakfast we broke camp and hit the road, stopping in gainesville to see mitch and amy and pick up a chair we were buying from their store.

overall i felt like i was climbing well and riding ok on the downhills. the new bike was right at home on these trails. the tires felt a little overweight at times (kenda negeval 2.35s) for rides with this much climbing, but made up for it on the downhills.

i guess i'll always be comparing my riding to two years ago, since that was kind of a breakout year for me. i'm not sure where i compare. i don't 'feel' as fast (going up or down) but then memories are always better than the real thing, so it's hard to really compare. i'm still having just as much fun though.

Friday, May 25, 2007

i'm not an expert... yet

"i don't think i'm an expert yet"... i said that to gwadz yesterday, as he passed me about a 1/3rd of the way around my last lap of the granogue course... i was trying to be a bit of a smartass, joking about how i was suffering, but after talking to a few people after the race and the more i think about it the more i see another side to what i said. i may not have the legs of the guys at the sharp end of the race (though this weekend's other activities may have had some effects on my performance) but that doesn't mean i'm going back to sport. to paraphrase something that eric roman said to me after the race - racing with people that are faster makes you faster, you rise to the occasion. ok, now on to the story...

2 nights of carousing in philly may not be the best way to get ready for a mountain bike race... but thats what i did this weekend. we spent friday night and saturday up in philly celebrating various events (not to excess, but i certainly wasn't being a "serious bike racer" this weekend) and then sunday morning drove down from there to granogue. we arrived with just enough time for me to check in and get ready to race, but not in enough time to get any warmup at all.

well organized lineup, and we're right behind the "elite" class with lots of other fast older experts lined up behind us. i recognize a couple of guys who've also made the move up from sport this year, and then we're off... fast. the start was faster than i expected, and by the time we hit dirt i'm all the way in the back. we stacked up a bit heading into the singletrack, but not for long. i'm hurting. my complete lack of a warm-up has left my legs cold and they're very quickly filled with lactic acid. once the field strings out i settle into a good pace and start getting passed by the leaders of the fields that started behind us.

the course was tough, but fun... dry in the sun, but greasy mud in the woods. plenty of wet roots looking to throw you off the side of the trail and lots of rocks trying to stop your wheels from turning. i did manage to pass a couple of people by staying on the bike on some of the technical climbs when other people where getting hung up and getting off the bike. we looped back through the start finish area half way through the lap, by way of a long field climb, and i saw heather at the top cheering me on and taking pictures which liftd my spirits a little.

the 2nd half of the course though, seemed interminable and was, combined with the constant stream of people passing me, a little demoralizing. i was making the technical climbs on the first half of the course, but not the second half, and they just kept coming. the lead in to the finish was a long road climb and by the top of it i didn't think that my legs had another two laps in them. on top of that, one of the few riders in my class that i'd managed to pass got around me and i wasn't able to stay with them.

but on the 2nd lap things started to turn around. as the various classes merged into one i found myself with rider that i could hang with for a little longer instead of hearing them behind me and then seeing them fly off into the distance. after a shaky start to the lap i started to ride better and made a couple of techincal climbs that i hadn't made the first lap, and that were forcing everyone else off their bikes. just before the end of the 2nd lap i took a beer handup to tide me up the final road climb.

the last lap started in the same manner as the second had ended, feeling a little better. tired but not exhausted, still riding fairly well. some tiny roots managed to trip me up every lap when other more difficult sections i'd ride with no problems at all. just before the halfway point of the lap i heard a rider coming behind me and out of the corner of my eye glimpsed the red & black of a city bikes jersey. it was joel, the one rider i'd really wanted to stay in front of (a little personal challenge), but alas, this was not to be the day for that.

just as he was about to pass i spot mike scardaville in the distance, but getting closer. joel may have passed me (and from a start a couple minutes behind me) but now i've got a new target. on the long grassy climb i catch and pass mike and focus on trying to stay ahead of him for the last half lap of the race.

by this time i've got the flow of the course down, and it's easier to pace myself... i ride from one section to another, knowing the finish is closing in. the back half of the lap wasn't as good the 3rd time around, with technical skills suffering from exhaustion just like the rest of my body. one last trip through the beer station and PBR has never tasted so good.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Originally uploaded by static-photo.
Congratulations Polly!

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Originally uploaded by static-photo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


a couple of weeks ago i had to bail out of the 24 hour team for conyers... family conflicts came up, but we managed to get a really strong team together to head down to georgia this weekend: mike will be leading the team again, with kent, steve, and jonathan rounding out the crew. here's hoping they ride strong and have some good luck.

the expected family activities in dc ended up mostly vanishing and some celebrations popped up in philly so we're headed up to the city of brotherly love this weekend and it looks like i'll get a race in this weekend. i'm registered for expert at granogue right now, and even though it's looking like there's a chance of rain this weekend i'm still looking forward to it. of course i'm second guessing my bike and tire choice... assuming dry weather i was going to ride the epic with larsen TTs, but now bigger tires seem like they might be a better idea.

i've been hitting the mountain bike hard recently... lots of riding, lots of fun, feeling good. my brother's home from school for a couple weeks before heading down to florida and then on vacation so i got in a ride with him yesterday and we're going to try and ride again tommorow, and heather's been riding a bit to get ready for the IMBA festival at stokesville and she's getting a lot more confident. all kinds of rides recently... easy sunday at avalon w/heather, jason, and maili, alone a schaeffer on sunday pushing at race pace, an fun and fast ride w/jj at wakefield.

the imba festival is in a week and a half, then big bear 2 weeks later... good times just waiting to be had.

Monday, May 07, 2007


salamander rock; 3rd attempt

jason tries the new subterranean line at salamander rock with unfavorable results

recently i've been looking for a better balance... a balance between racing and riding. too much racing and i miss just riding, but not enough racing and i miss that.

last year i hurt myself (broken collarbone) coming into race season and went straight from training on the road to racing in the middle of the summer. this year i spent time that i would have normally spent doing some mountain biking to get ready for the race season buying and moving into a new house. before the 24 hours of vail lake i'd trained a lot on the road, but only been out for a mountain bike ride a handful of times.

i enjoy racing... when i started racing a couple of years ago i found a competitve streak that i never knew i had. it's made me challenge myself more (mentally and physically) than anything i've ever done and it got me into shape.

sometimes, though, you just want to get out into the backcountry and ride all day, down little twisty trails with friends.

this past weekend (and this week) riding won. i rode with tommy, mike, bunky, and the rest of that crew at avalon on saturday, then with stoner up at the watershed on sunday. one of the best weekends i've had on a bike in a while. yesterday i got up to schaeffer after work and rode around for an hour and half... chased some people, pushed hard in the turns, had a blast.

i think i'm going to race the marathon (4hr) at granogue next weekend, then we've got the VA IMBA festival in stokesville the weekend after. after that there are friends coming into town and then the 24 hours of big bear.

ride, race, ride, race... the balance is coming.

Friday, May 04, 2007


i'd thought about racing lodi this weekend, since i can't do the 24 hours of conyers, but in the end i decided against it. i've never had good luck at lodi, but that's something i've blogged about before. truth is there are just too many things i want to get done around the house. chores that have been lingering since we moved in and have already been put of for racing.

enough of that joe, time to get on to the beer...

thursday night we went down to the national geographic headquarters on 16th street for one of their national geographic live events. this was actually the 2nd we've been to. the first was on cheese and was a lot of fun, but this one was on beer and was, not surprisingly, even better.

garrett oliver, brewmaster of brooklyn brewery and author of the brewmaster's table, led us through 12 beers, all fully refermented (often called "bottle-conditioned" or "cask-conditioned"). refermentation refers to letting the beer ferment a 2nd time to develop carbonation naturally, rather than being force carbonated with pressurized CO2. bottle conditioning lets the beers mature with age, and also captures more of the tastes and odors of fermentation, generally making for more complex tasting beers.

here's a quick rundown of what we tasted, with as much commentary as i can make out in my notes.

New Glarus Copper Tank Weissbier (New Glarus, Wisconsin) - warm copper color, warm & round mouthfeel. strong caramelized bananna with hints of chocolate and vanilla...

Mahr's Ungespudetsbier (Bamburg, Germany) - strong honey aroma; honey flavor but more subdued than expected, slightly yeasty and floury. low carbonation: ungespundetsbier literally means "un-bunged" as the casks are opened after refermentation and much of the carbonation is lost.

Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weiss (Munich, Germany) - light and fruity aroma; low phenols, hoppy for a weissbier (uses american cascade hops). lighter, sharper, and crisper tasting that most weissbiers.

1809 Berliner Weiss (Weihestaphen, Germany) - yikes! sour and sharp, lemony. based on a recipe from 1809 this is much less sour than contemporary berliner weiss and this beer is not flavored with any syrup, as most others are. tart and refreshing.

Saison D'Epautre (Blaugies, Belgium) - slightly sour with fruity aroma, earty, malty, dry

Thirez Blonde (Esquelbecq, France - herbal, fruity, dry. apples

Brooklyn Local 1 (Brooklyn, New York) - light sparkly fruit aroma, brewed with pilsner malt and sugar from mauritius. light and slightly spicy but watch out it's a belgian strong golden ale and packs at punch at 9% abv

DeuS (Buggenhout, Belgium) - very little aroma, but what's there is slightly spicy/herby. meaty apple-y, super ultra dry. cherry and ginger aftertaste. made in the methode champenoise.

Russian River Supplication (Santa Rosa, California) - alcohol and fruit aroma. soured with bretanomyces and lactobaccilus and more, aged in pinot barrels. very sour and fruity, sour cherries, very pleasant.

Trappist Achel Extra (Achel, Belguim) - deep flavor, malty w/fruity notes. coffee, fig, raisins. dry.

Scires (Montegioco, Italy) - deep red color, 40 lbs/cherries per 2 kegs. mild sourness, very easy to drink.

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (Ashford in the Water, England) - hoppy aroma, mild flavor. sweet, delicate, flowery, hoppy body.