Thursday, July 31, 2008

harry tackles the strange and usual american game of checkers

kinda wish i'd replaced this copy with the re-processed version i made the other night, as i'm not entirely happy with the color balance and brightness of this one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

At the last dcmtb team meeting, Mike & Tris joked that, since i wouldn't be able to see the tour finish on at Alpe d'Huez finish on my birthday in person, they'd paint happy birthday to me on the road up to the Alpe d'Huez and maybe i'd get to see it on TV. well i didn't see it on TV, but i did get this picture in my inbox last Wednesday evening. Mike, Tris, and Jonathan, you guys rock!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008


given that my riding since the 2nd round of the wakefield two weeks ago races has consisted of one 3 hour ride at the shed, a quick spin at fairland, and 3 hours at patapsco this weekend i was rather surprised to see that the results from last night had me drop another minute off my time... down to 1:09 after a 1:10 two weeks ago and 1:14 the first week. strange thing is, i felt like c$@p last night. my legs felt completely off for my entire pre-ride, i ate & drank so much during my warmup to make up for missing lunch that my stomach was churning before the start, and on the first lap my calves cramped up when had a wheel slip and was forced to run the top of the hill into the finish.

i did have someone to chase (for the first half of the race) and someone chasing me (for the last half) to keep me honest, though, so that helped on the mental front. probably the hardest effort i've ever put into a wakefield race for those last two laps as the rider in pursuit of me would gain ground on the straights and then i'd build the gap back up in the twisties.

coming up to the powerlines on the last lap i thought i was done for. he pulled close enough that he was coming into the lower switchback as i was finishing the upper one so i put it all on the trail, figuring that if i could maintain the gap through the powerlines i could get out of sight in the trees and stay away. in spite of a bobble at the bottom of the last hill before the finish, the plan worked.

11th place of 16 starters. for me racing expert, that's not half bad. like 2 weeks ago, i was able to keep pushing all the way to the last lap. that's always seems to be the worst part of moving up a group in racing -- it takes a while to get used to the extra time/distance you put in, and until you're comfortable with that, it's hard to know how hard to push yourself. this year i'm not having the last lap meltdowns i had last year.

riccardo ricco, saunier duval out of tour...

did anyone NOT see this one coming a mile away? what sucks is how, now, the default response to a rider doing well is to assume that he's doping... well, ricco didn't disappoint on that front.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Mark (Black & White)

This shot of Mark from the City Bikes team meeting on Monday just seemed to be screaming out for a black & white conversion. Still getting used my new iMac and all of the workflow options suddenly open to me now. Adobe Lightroom seems to be working better than Aperture for me right now. 30 days to decide before i have to plunk down some money for a real copy of one of them.
don't think i've ever made it to all four races of the wednesdays @ wakefield series... there was nothing scheduled against the series this year, so i thought there was a chance, but it was not to be as i got stuck at work with a little mini-crisis (now averted) yesterday afternoon. oh well, another goal for next year i guess.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

wakefield #2

results are up for race 2 of wednesdays at wakefield. there are some questions about the accuracy of the times, but i hope the expert times are good between the two races. i was 4 minutes faster between race 1 & race 2 and that jives with how i felt i did. i still ended up 2 places lower (21st) but it was an even bigger field, so i'm not two concerned about that.

since i've been thinking lately that my attitude was holding me back in races the only real change i made (other than switching from a camelbak to bottles) was a mental one. i kept a simple mantra running through my head the whole race.

i won't share the exact wording to keep this blog family friendly but basically i just kept asking myself if i was working as hard as i could right now and if i wasn't i told myself to work harder. strangely enough it worked and not only was i faster, but i felt better all the way to the finish. attitude is everything i guess...

Saturday, July 05, 2008



no, not me, but my trusty shoes. 2 pairs of specialized pro carbons...

3 or 4 years ago i picked up a pair of specialized pro carbon mountain bike shoes. a couple months later i bought a 2nd pair so that i'd have a backup for 24 hour races, or to just make sure i always had a dry pair if i got caught out in the rain. they've served me well over the last few years...


after starting with a pair of performance brand shoes, and then working my way through some northwaves (i was riding a gary fisher at the time and they sponsored the gary fisher subaru team) and a sucession of fairly cheap pearl izumis and never finding anything that was really comfortable i upgraded to specialized's top-of-the-line shoe, the "pro carbon".


they were a revelation and took me through all types of races, from wednesdays at wakefield to 24 hour races around the country, and rides from a quick spin at schaeffer to epics in the GW national forest, but the mud a this year's 24 hours of big bear was too much for them, and they've been replaced with...


a new pair of specialized pro carbons.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

this is not a picture of a bike race

sorry, no pictures from this weekend, so here's one from the garden

saturday i raced the 12 hours of cranky monkey with my brother and Alistair - a new dcmtb'r who's just moved here from australia - in 3-man expert. we were up against a fast bike lane team (Bruce Buckley, Ryan Bannon, and Steve Dotigny) and a team of adventure racers. the forecast was for very hot weather and lots of sun, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. with the race running from 8 am to 8 pm (or 7 depending on how you look at it) we'd be racing through the hottest part of a very hot day.

to get down to Quantico in time to check in an set up before the 8am start we were on the road from silver spring at 5, which meant being up around 4 and i didn't get a very good night's sleep the night before. we had a good representation of city bikes teams... 2 co-ed teams, our expert team, and a masters team and had a nice little camp set up under the new team ez-up and the whole foods ez-up i borrowed from heather. Alistair volunteered to take the first lap for us, i took the number 2 slot, and JJ rounded out our rotation. Alistair got us off to a good start, but i was the last of the 4 city bikes teams to get out for our 2nd lap -- Tom, Lynne, and Klasmeier had all gotten great starts.

i hadn't raced at Quantico for a couple of years -- i did the cranky monkey xc series race there the first time it was held on the base 2 or 3 years ago -- but i'd forgotten just how much fun the trails were. the loop was a nice mix of twisty singletrack, rutted fireroads with a "singletrack" line in them, and a good amount of gravel/fire road. there was also a good mix of techy singletrack climbing and some steep grunts up powerline easements and the fireroads to keep things interesting. i pushed as hard as i could on the flowy stuff and kept pushing but dropped the gears low to spin up the climbs to preserve my legs. the first lap felt great. i passed plenty of riders and came in sub 1 hour (ok, only by 2 seconds, but i was pretty happy with that).

after i handed off to JJ the next 2 hours were spent trying to re-hydrate and cool down and mother nature wasn't helping out at all. the heat & humidity was already building and meant that you just kept sweating all of the time. but those two hours passed and it was time for lap two. lap two felt a lot like lap one. no cramping, a few aches from my lower back, maybe a little slower on the climbs, but now the downhills were faster knowing what was coming and how to pace myself. 1:01 for lap 2. one minute slower than the first time around. had to make a more conscious effort to re-hydrate and refuel after lap 2 as i'd realized i hadn't had to take a nature break since before the first lap -- not a good sign when it comes to dehyrdation.

at this point we were solidly in 2nd place in expert, and somewhere near the top 10 overall. the bike lane were solidly ahead of us and continuing to build their lead, pulling laps that were a minute or two faster than us, and the 3rd place team was dropping further and further behind us. and we'd passed the 2 co-ed teams so we were the 2nd best placed dcmtb/city bikes team in the race.

lap three was the hardest for me. this lap was right around 3pm and the sun was out at full strength. there were some rumbles of thunder off in the distance as i waited for Alistair in the transition area, but they never got close enough to cancel the race. lap three just didn't quite feel right. i felt less flow, more stop & go, more near misses on techy stuff and had an "unplanned landing" when i didn't see a sapling of the left of the trail and hooked the end of my bars on it. lap 3 ended up coming in at just over 1:05.

lap four started at 6:50... 10 minutes before the cutoff for starting your last lap. i'd been worried that this would be my completely-blow-to-ruin-an-otherwise-great-day lap but that was not to be. i was able to keep riding strong. i felt like i was riding the downhills faster than any previous lap. the flow that was gone on lap 3 was back on lap 4. the air had cooled just enough to make the climbs more comfortable and the course was feeling more and more familiar, and as a result, shorter. for a while i was thinking that i might be on pace to ride my fastest lap, but in the end i was just over 1:02. i did manage to pick off a couple of the sport teams who'd snuck ahead of us on the overall. in the end we were 2nd expert, 9th overall... 11 laps in 11 hours 52 minutes (and 14 seconds).

given the weather, and my results in team endurance races so far this year, you'd think i wouldn't have great expectations for this race. but from the start, something just felt different this time around. my attitude going in was better than it'd been in a while, and maybe that was what made the difference in the end. i think i did a better job of racing smart than i have in a while: taking the climbs easy, not pushing too hard to early, but at the same time keeping a solid pace.

when all was said and done it was a day of great trails and great teammates, and that leads to a great race.