Sunday, December 21, 2008

80% is a good number...

It's now two weeks since my incident where I smashed into a car and surprisingly I feel pretty good. I'd say I'm about 80% and getting better day by day. As far as the injuries I basically had a lot of bruising, road rash, and soreness. The bruising is almost gone while the rash continues to shrink. My back was really sore a few days after and my chiropractor is helping that to get under control. Overall I'm really just surprised at my ability to recover.

I've already been back on the bike a few times and my range of motion is almost back to normal. I can still get power down seated, standing, you name it. This was a huge concern for me knowing my addiction and I've been very happy with the successful rides that I've done. I'm getting to the point of resuming all normal activities including running and skiing. With the winter break coming up I really want to hit the slopes and the knees are feelign good enough to make me contemplate a trip to Hunter this Wednesday. We'll see but good reports so far.

On the down side of things I have contacted the insurance company for the guy that was responsible for the accident. Of course they are avoiding me like the plague and hopefully more progress will be made this week. I'm staying positive that i will have a new road bike by early 2009. We'll see about that...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I've had bad days but come on...

This morning I had a nice 2 hour easy spin planned for my training. It's now day 6 of training and I'm trying to get accustomed to the different routines and working with the heartrate monitor. I wanted some company on this ride so I invited my roommate Andy along and he was happy to get out so it was all looking good. I took a tour through Morristown, Mendham, Jockey Hollow, Morristown again and back to Parsippany and I never made it back on the bike...

As we were coming down a slight decline, Andy and I were single file and cruising along at about 20-25mph when we approached the intersection of a local shopping center. It's usually busy so I'm always cautious around this area. So we are just cruising along and I see a car up ahead looking to pull out. I notice him and come closer looking for eye contact to make sure he sees us. No problem. I make eye contact and am positive he is staying where he is. I keep on coming and as I'm about 10 feet from his nose he pulls out into the intersection. This is where my day gets bad...

I proceed to grab my brakes which was only about 1 second before the impending impact. So I instead focus my effort on getting my body higher to make the impact easier. I guess it worked. I remember unclipping - flipping over with my head on the hood - closing my eyes preparing for impact - and then the impact occurred when I landed on the pavement on the other side of the car. As soon as I landed I look back to see my roommate screaming ....SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!! as he also hits the car(he was 10 feet behind me and couldn't avoid it either). I remember seeing him hit - his body tumbling forward over the hood - ATTACHED TO HIS BIKE. He didn't unclip but he then did in mid air as he was flying over the hood and launched his bike another 20 feet further than his body as his Cervelo whizzed through the air over my crumpled body lying on the ground. So there we were lying on the ground writhing in pain with carnage every where.

The first thing I assessed was my knees. They were both numb and they felt like both knees or legs were shattered. I started moving them around and still numb I could feel that they weren't broken but not in good shape. All I saw was two large tears on each knee through my PI Amfib tights and my knickers. Blood was close by underneath... I seemed to be doing ok so I turned to my buddy to see if he was ok. He was in a lot of pain and complaining that his ankle was hurt. I kept asking him over and over and we both agreed we were kinda ok just banged up.

Since the intersection was pretty busy there were PLENTY of witnesses. One lady ran over in tears since she - in her own words - "thought we were dead." They were amazing giving us support and warm blankets and jackets as we were freezing sitting on the nearby guardrail waiting for police and ambulances to come. The help was a little sluggish and unorganized but we got our ride to the hospital and the care we needed.
The results were overall very good. Andy was released with only cuts and bruises after examination and x-rays. I was also released with only cuts and bruises but a few more than Andy. My left knee is completely swollen with a large abrasion and a few below on my shin. My right knee has a few abrasions on it as well as my right shin is beat up and my right ankle is a little sore. Not too bad for two schmoes hitting a car at 25 and both flying over the hood. I REALLY want to see video of that...not that it exists.

The aftermath...

We went to the local PD that covered our accident and had to go pickup our bikes and answer a few more questions for the officer in charge. He wanted to know what the aftermath of the injuries were and we informed him that we were very lucky - he agreed. He gave us the update on the driver as well. The guy was an 84 year old man that said he saw us and then proceeded to pull out anyway. He said that he thought he had the right of way and couldn't believe that we hit him...WTF??? Are you kidding me? The driver was issued a summons for careless driving and will have to retake his driving test to get his license back. The officer also took notice of the driver's car and he said the front end looked like it got hit by a car. There was so much damage he couldn't believe that it was hit by 2 bikes.
The casualties of the day were my Lemond Versailles and Andy's Cervelo Soloist. Mine definitely took the brunt of the force. My front fork was sheared off, my front wheel taco'd, and my back wheel demolished as a few spokes were torn from the spoke bed. The spine of my frame is carbon fiber so I won't trust that as it was probably compromised in the accident as well. My pants and knickers are also gone as the knees were totally ripped open and the medics sliced them any way to treat my wounds. Andy's front fork was ripped from the steerer tube and his front wheel was demolished as well. He also had a carbon seatpost that was torn off the bike with his seat getting mangled as well. This is only upon initial inspection as I'm sure we'll find more as we're starring at the carnage.
All in all what a day. Day 6 of my 2009 training. Both ok, safe, battered, and bruised. I'm hoping I'm getting the bad luck over with early...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Bright Idea...

Well I got the inspiration a few weeks ago to try and spice up the holidays...errr my fixie. I've wanted to put some lights on my bike and I wasn't sure how to do it. Not for me to see, for others to see. I wanted to put christmas lights on the bike and draw a little attention. Boy does it work!!!

I ordered 4 strands of battery operated lights. One strand of white for each wheel and two strands of blue lights for the frame. They look awesome. I mounted the battery pack for the wheels next to the hub and strung the lights next to the spoke nipples oriented up so they wouldn't interfere with the brakes or frame.

I took it for a test ride around my neighborhood just to see what kind of reaction they would get. I had tons of smiles, thumbs ups, and cars slowing to see the spectacle that is me. It was great - well except for the person that decided to drive by and whip a bottle of water(?) or something at me (hitting me in the arse) and then proceeding to speed off. They are lucky I was on the fixie or they may have a broken window... Outside of that it was great to see the reaction of people and it was well worth the time and effort to string em up. Towards the end of the ride I went past some stores and I see the people in the pizzeria all starring and was priceless...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Darkness @ 909 Night Race

This past weekend was the official end of my race season - wohoo!!! Time for some relaxation and beer! The 909 race is always a good time and it brings out the crazies in costumes and those just wanting to have fun and ride their bike. I was a little of both. Decked out in my best geek gear and my roomies TT helmet I set off to get my best time on my newly built up rigid SS 26'er.

A friend was throwing out a frame so I gave it a good home. It was the 2nd ride on the frame and it performed flawlessly. The worst part of the whole bike is the v-brakes. There were sections of the course that I was setting a hot pace through and then a blind corner would come up and I had no control. I was used to the hydros and now I had to get used to drifting through corners. It was fun though. Put the inside foot down and pray that you made the corner!

The course at the 909 is nice fast swoopy singletrack that is very tight at times. The leaves made it more treacherous and more fun for sure. It's a time trial format with one minute margins so I went 43rd and tried to see how many of the previous riders I could pick off. I went out pretty hot and had to tone it down several times as I felt my dinner starting to rise. Little by little I picked off one person, and then the next. The hills were pretty brutal on one gear but I either rode them or ran them pretty quickly. The best part is the feeling of hauling through the darkness and seeing a little light up ahead to try and chase down. I think I passed about 12 riders all together and only had one pass me. It was a great time and an even better atmosphere. Really any night ride is ok with me...

I finished 3rd of 3 in my class - wohoo!!! (I was only 30 seconds off 2nd place) And I believe I ended up about 12th overall of 75 racers. I'm pretty happy with it all. A great end to the season and a lot to look forward to next season. Before I know it training will be upon me for 2009 so it's time to relax and look forward to what's to come.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Edge Adventure Race

Yesterday my friend Sharon and I competed in an Adventure race in PA called the Edge Adventure Race. This was the first time for me as I'm familiar with the XC and Endurance game but not the Adventure stuff. I knew going into it that it was going to be a cool day with 5 miles of running/orienteering, 10 miles of biking, and 5 miles of canoeing that awaited us. Little did I know that it started off with a human wheelbarrow race. Not a short one either. Probably 30 - 40 yards uphill and then back downhill. Crazy!

Next we ran to grab our passport which would tell us the order of the remainder of the race. 1st up was the bike. This was cool but was hard to get a flow going since we had to stop so often and punch our card at the checkpoints and orienteer on the bike. The trails were nice as they were pretty smooth with a few loose sections to climb but nothing too crazy. It was a mix of roads and trails depending on the order you selected to get the checkpoints in. We did it pretty solidly with no mechanicals and one REALLY hard to find checkpoint and then we moved on to the run.

The run was good since we already had a bit of knowledge of the park layout from the bike and we hauled and did our checkpoints pretty quickly. The race directors were a little sadistic in the fact that some of the checkpoints were made so you had to run through thorns or cross rivers to get to them. We kept each other's pace really nicely and were pushing but not getting too tired. The run was solid and we were very excited to get to the next leg - the canoe.

The canoe leg was cool but first you had to run about a mile to the canoe launch with your paddles and life jacket. Then you had to carry the canoe and drop it in and go get your checkpoints. Some were right on the waters edge - others we had to run up onto the shore to get them. Once that was over we did a little bush-whacking to save time and get back to camp to start the final event - team challenges.

The challenges were pretty simple but a little unfair. The first was the buddy carry. I had to carry Sharon across a part of a field about 40 feet and back piggy back style. And then it was her turn to carry me. With a little argument over the fairness of a 100 lb girl carrying a 170 lb guy she threw me on her back and got the job done! Then we had to crawl over a cargo net, do a little tightrope balancing and crawl under a bunch of ropes and run back to the start finish for the end.

We had 6 hours to complete the event and we finished in 3:57 with all checkpoints completed. It was a blast. Sharon had a really good race as well as I. We felt good the entire time but really had no idea how to pace ourselves. We agreed at the end that we definitely could have pushed harder but we just didn't know what the day would entail.

We finished 5th in our division of 13 or so and 30th overall of 103 teams. If you're looking for just a fun and interesting event this style may be the ticket. It's like a big adult scavenger hunt. Pretty cool...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

H2H Campmor #8 - Chainstretcher at Blue Mountain

This race was an absolute blast as usual. Quietly to myself I was wishing for rain since I think I have an advantage in the sloppy conditions and I got what I was wishing for. The course received a nice amount of rain early this morning which slickened things up and made the rocks just a little more dicey. Much thanks goes out to the crew that ran and organized the event as the Expert race went off on time and we had nice 3 minute gaps between groups to help sort out the madness. For a change it went Pros - 30/39, 40/49, and me - 19/29 with JR's and 50+'s. Which was nice to not have the 30's and 40's big guns fly through within the first couple of miles.

The first laps was good and we set out on a hot pace. The climbs were grimy and power sapping as you could feel your tires sliding out especially when out of the saddle. I settled in 3rd place after a little shuffling and was fighting back and forth with Geoff Lenat and the junior Cody K. <---- what a fast dood. Anyway it was good and we settled into a pace and heckled each other as we swapped positions and grinded out the climbs and we were all solid. Things stayed the same for the remainder of lap 1. Then I realized that there were two more laps to go

On lap 2 I caught Allistair(#1) as he had some issues but as I had forseen, about a 1/2 mile later he came flying through. At one point I passed Geoff and then he took it back a little while later and then came his downfall. He pulled off to be a nice guy and got a stick in his derailleur and his day was over. Sheared it right off. So now I was sitting fine in 2nd for the remainder of lap 2 - still feeling good and putting some nice power down. Then I reminded myself that we had one more lap to go...ugh...

So through the start/finish I went and took it down a notch to maintain and I just told myself not to be fast but to be smooth and the rest would fall into place. I was trying to catch Allistair but I knew it would be a tall task. I didn't see anyone in my own category on lap 3. I did start passing some of the 40/49 guys and then I started cramping. My left hammy and my right quad fired. I instantly downshifted, sat, and spun hard to get them to go away and they did. So trail by trail I worked on staying smooth and finally I got to the finish. I maintained to stay in 2nd with a time somewhere right around 3 hours. It was a great day as I love that course SOOOOOO much. Definitely my favorite park in the area. So I got my stuff together got my medal and some $$$ and got out of there. Now for some football and beer....mmmm.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The Tymor race was definitely a last minute decision as I had a rough time at the end of August in the Shenandoah 100 and I needed some time off after feeling severely burntout. I decided that I would enter the race at Blue Mtn NY and needed some kind of workout to get me excited. Tymor was it. My new frame was finally built up so I should test it out somewhere right? Ok so the race seemed like the perfect spot.

I knew the race would be good with Tim Schopen at the helm as he puts on many great races. He does the Tymor races as well as the Darkness @ 909 Night race - which is always a blast and a must do if you're in the lower NY area around Halloween.

The weather was pretty crummy all weekend so that I'm sure had to do with the low numbers. The were only a few hearty souls that showed up to challenge the hills and deal with the super slick conditions that Tymor is known for. In my division I had one other challenger. Gavi from Campmor was there to try his first MTB race. As a Cat1 road racer I knew he would have great legs but I wasn't too sure of the tech skills he had. We actually did a nice prelap of some of the course as well BS'd and enjoyed some of the scenery there.

They decided to send all of the Experts in one wave(this shows how small the field was). The sports followed 1 minute behind. The pace was pretty solid off the line as Gavi took off and was killin it. He said later that he knew his tech skills were pretty poor so he needed the gap. Granted - I wasn't going to be the guy to chase him though. Through the hills I kept a solid pace but didn't really pin it. I wasn't going to kill myself as I didn't know how bad all the climbing would be. I rode most of the climbs having to jump off only a couple of times to crest the steep demanding hills. I kept riding hoping to see my competition in sight and I did after a bit. Once we got out of the climbs and into the more slick techy stuff, I crept up and let my handling skills speak for themself. It was only a matter of time until I passed him and I did. Repeat more of this for lap 2.

Just before the end of lap 2 Gavi made a wrong turn directly in front of me and I called him on it and he got back and proceeded to pass me a minute later. The 3rd lap we didn't have the climbs so it was mostly the techy stuff. I was right on Gavi's tail waiting for a slip up. It came. On a nice downhill I stayed on him and he got a bad lean going. He had to stop on the side of the trail to stop from falling down the ravine of doom immediately below. Once this happened I pinned it and hoped my technical skills would be enough to hold me in front. They were. I tried to stay smooth and keep the pace hot and it worked. I finished and cruised around a little bit to see Gavi finish a few minutes behind me.

It was a great day, really great course setup, and some sweet competition. I don't know if I've had a race where it was more challenging and competitive going back and forth for one position. It was great for the experience bank and for preparation for next weekend. I'll take 1st place of 2 and the race was over in just over 2 hrs. The rain held off and I meandered home with my 1st place plaque and a couple of bucks more than I left for the race with. The Chainstretcher at Blue Mtn should be fun next week! The trek held up great and was really fun to get back on that crazy light carbon HT. I'm looking forward to more races on this rig...

New Bike is Alive

After a little indecision I finally have a bike to ride... I've had a little bad luck with keeping bikes in one piece lately. I had my 2006 Fisher Ziggurat that had a crash replacement that turned into a 2007 Trek 9.9 Elite. The Trek then failed as the bottom bracket was spinning out of the frame so that turned into a 2008 Trek Elite 9.9 SSL. I was going to try and sell it but in the long run I decided I wanted a fast light 26'er to rock the races with. And so it was as it was built up and born on Saturday. The build kit was the original from the Fisher and is still as light and nimble as ever. It's amazing how stiff and how responsive it is while still being compliant enough to not destroy your body. Great stuff! I look forward to racing on this bike and having experienced much pain together.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Hill Ride has been Ridden...

For about 2 years my friends and I have discussed a ride that would incorporate all of the larger climbs in the West Milford area. Well today I got out of work promptly and headed out on a solo attempt of this hill route. It went well with 5 extended climbs to suck the power out of your legs and a little bit of recovery in between. 60 miles in 3 hours and 37 minutes.

Check it out below:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NUE Overall Results

The overall results have been posted. Check them out:

My main goal this season was to finish 4 of the 8 races and hopefully contend in the overall for the series. After completing the Cohutta 100, Mohican 100, Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 I've got that much more experience under my belt and a better understanding of my pain tolerances. I felt good for most of the races and had my ups and downs and finished in a solid 17th place. What a great series and I couldn't have asked for more visiting all these gorgeous places and meeting all of these wonderful competitors. I'll be back for more next year and probably trying a couple new venues as well. The downtime is gonna be nice but I can't wait to start ramping it up for next year.

It looks like I'll have 3 more events on my calender for the remainder of the year. All just for fun but something to shoot for nonetheless. Any day on the bike is a good day period...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shenandoah Mountain 100 Race Recap

My main goal this year was to compete in the overall for the NUE 100 series. I have completed 3 races so far and to complete the 4 needed to compete I entered in the Shenandoah Mountain 100. This was an amazing event that was very well organized and much thanks go out to Chris Scott and all the workers and volunteers. It was perfect! I got there mid day Friday and had plenty of time to set up camp and wait for the race start - probably too much time actually. I was really anxious to get started.

The race started just after 6:30 Sunday morning and 550 racers jammed through the back exit of the Stokesville campground. That was a sight to see in itself. The course was going to be muddy as the torrential rains we had the night before surely effected the grounds but from preriding I knew it drained pretty well. My goal was to finish in under 10 hours and in the top 100 of the Open Male. With the wet conditions I knew the first goal would be tough but maybe the second would be in tact. We hit the pavement and off into the first climb which was pretty good. Legs felt fine, body was good, nutrition, hydration was on. Hit the second climb and I was towards the front so I wasn't bottlenecked too badly. This section was known to be bad if in a crowd and I hit it at a nice time. There weren't too many people there so I rode the majority of the hike a bike except for some of the sloppy steep top. As I crested the top though my quad started to twinge so I knew that wasn't good. The downhill that followed made up for it.

The next section was on gravel road that was good to put down a little power. It had a nice false flat up and then down. It was kinda strange cause with this many people I didn't really have anybody to draft with. A sign of things to come. Up the paved hills to aid 2 I grabbed some water and off I went through the next paved hill and into the 3rd big climb of the course. It's a nice steady gravel road climb that pitches up a little steeper at the top. It definitely took some effort but was totally rideable as I cleaned it and took on down the other side FLYING down those downhills. The down were amazing. They were fast, slick and kept you on your toes. The effort I put in climbing this hill hurt a little for afterwards. I got to aid 3 and took water and left again onto the false flat road. Again - no one to draft with. I got to the 4th big climb - which I bonked on in the preride I did very well and only had to dismount a couple of times on the really shaley uphill sections. That downhill was very rewarding and so much fun, but I wasn't sure how much was left in the tank and I'd soon find out. Rolling into aid 4 I grabbed some coke and water and was on my way.

Now the stomach was not feeling good. It had started hurting towards the top of the 4th climb and now was not doing so hot. I didn't know if I could eat, drink or what. I just tried to stay on schedule and this was not the best time to fall apart. I was on the outskirts of the 18 mile climb. The stomach felt bad and stayed that way. I couldn't put any power down. And worst of all those that I could draft off of passed so quickly that I didn't have enough power to jump on. So I did the climb all myself slugging my way through. Finally reaching aid 5 I was hurting and knew my goal of breaking 10 was not going to happen since it was 8:15 of riding for 75 miles. Not good. So I decided to get some real food and see if that helped out. Pizza and brownies were great! I got more water and headed out. Now my stomach had started feeling better but the power was just gone. Recovery was nowhere in sight. I finally thought about it a while. I've been all over this season and I think this is what it feels like to be burnt out. It was really difficult to get any motivation and I just kept myself in preservation mode. The worst part is that once you get to aid 5 the big hill seems to be over but it's not. It keeps going to false peak after false peak. Finally when you get to the top its a relief but it takes a major toll.

After gettin down to the road - once more - the downhill from the top of the big climbing putting a big grin on my face - once more - I felt a little better knowing the end was near. Getting to aid 6 was nice. I again grabbed coke and water and was off. 88 miles in and just as I passed the aid station I looked at my watch and it hit the 10 hour mark. Damn! There goes my first goal. So I kept on plugging away trying to find the gas but it wasn't there. I made my way to the final climb and crested entering into the singletrack and swearing at all of those little suffering climbs that jumped in the way to my finish. The most exciting feeling was bombing down those water bars and seeing those tents that would signal the end of the race. Of course they made it even sweeter by putting some sharp bends in there and one last nice massive grass jump at the end to put a cap on a very nice course.

The course was a lot tougher than I first imagined. Looking at the profile online it seemed pretty basic with a few big climbs. Little did I know how those false flats everywhere drained you and how badly my stomach would rob my power. All in all it was great completing the race and meeting so many more good people out there.

At the heart of it I'm glad I was able to finish all 4 and in respectable times. Early this season I was having some bad knee trouble and I was wondering how well this season would go. I'm very happy with the way things have gone and it's only set my sights higher for next season. As I think back at what I have accomplished it I'm very proud. I do ride quite a bit but as far as formal training that's where I'm lacking. I've decided that next year is going to include a lot more dedication, sweat, off-season training, and hopefully a coach. I don't want to just eek my way through these races, I want to put my all into them. These are my thoughts as I'm feeling pretty burntout from 08 and dreaming into 09. As of now it seems like I'm going to take some time off and relax and not race. I'll look into racing again in October and hopefully some CX this fall/winter. More fun and pain to come...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Darkhorse 40 Race Report

I'm fresh in from the DH40 and what a race it was! It was superbly put together, organized and a great time was had by all. And the barbecue was killer!!! I was wondering how well I would be recovered for the race but I had a good idea on the opening section of the course.

The race went off with the Pro/Expert 19-29/30-39/Singlespeeds in the first wave. As usual the gun went off and the pace was hot. I was reminding myself that I said I would take it relaxed on the first lap and push on lap two. Well that sounds good except for when you're chasing down a paceline. Through the first 5 miles it was pretty backed up and the positions were sorted out as some dropped back and I tried to keep pace with those I could hold on. I could feel the legs were a little lack luster and just found some guys and tried to keep pace with them. It seemed to work pretty well. After a while the pack thinned out and I latched onto a rider here or there to help with my pacing. Hydration was spot on but my nutrition was totally off. Since I carried everything on me I packed two flasks of Gu. I didn't realize that it is much more viscous than hammer as it didn't flow well and I had a really hard time eating. I did eventually get some but not as much as I would have liked. A few riders got through here or there the first lap but I was pretty satisfied with my performance so far. On to lap two.

Lap two was nice to relax and I was alone to set my own pace. This worked really well and I had a great time cruising the 2nd 20 mile lap as the singletrack was supreme. I knew that I needed to keep pushing and as long as I got to the 15 mile mark I'd be good. So I kept on pushing and trying to maintain my position and get to the finish. The legs were becoming more flat and I just kept pushing more and getting more power out of them somehow. Once again a few came through but I've been getting more experienced and knew that by the end the cramping game would be playing out. On one of the final climbs I looked up and saw the right side of the trail lined - lined with people cramping and hurting pretty bad. So I kept on, passed them and kept pushing with 4 miles left. With about 3 miles left I saw my teammate Keith up ahead and he seemed to be just wanting to get to the finish. I still had some legs so I told him to jump on and I'd see if I could get us to the finish. I pulled the remaining 2+ miles and got us towards the finishing chute. Little did I know there was a third guy that joined our train and was trying to come up from the rear to finish ahead of us. As true competitors as we all sprinted and my teammate was trying to help block as we both sprinted to the finish. It worked. I finished, then Keith and then the other guy. It was a great way to finish a fun 40 miles!!!

The stats were pretty good even though I know I was nowhere near recovered. I finished in a time of 3:31 and 4th place out of Expert 19-29. All in all it was a good day on fantastic trails. One I'll surely remember for a while.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wilderness 101 Race Report

Saturday morning I awoke and it was a bit chilly. The previous night the bike was all prepped and ready to go. I threw on the kit, all my supplies and lined up at the starting line. The race was off. I worked my way up towards the front of the pack anticipating trying to find a good pack to stick. If I found a pack using a good pace I could use them to keep the tempo and help rest into the first major climb. The first climb was shorter than I remember and the fireroad thinned out the pack and the groups started to form. I was in probably the 3rd pack from the front where they were setting a good manageable pace. In the group was Michelle Stopper and Carey Lowery so I knew if I could stick with them it would be very beneficial for me. We held it together through the first aid station and into the first singletrack. There after there was a new section which got back to fireroad and the group was staying together but setting a much faster pace. I held on as long as I could but the road pitched up and I fell off the back and paced myself on my own. I kept a nice pace and found a few people to latch onto and I made my way into aid 2 pretty easily. That was the problem though – I spent way too much of my energy keeping up with this nice group and didn’t leave a lot in the reserves.

After aid station #2 the LONG climb started and I knew I was in for a long time. I forgot how long it really was and was afraid to put the hammer down since I was so spent before. I kept the pace low and just struggled through the climb as a lot of my competitors got by me. I saw Kris Webber, Allistair Seibert, and Chris Baks get by me so I knew I had some catching up to do. Along the way there was a sweet sighting of probably a 4.5’ rattlesnake on the right side of the climb. Beautiful!!! Finally the climb ended and there was a competitor right in front of me and from other races I know that there are some tentative descenders out there so I charged ahead to create a gap which worked. Then shortly into the descent I realized that I forgot to switch off the lockout on my fork. So I was already feeling bad but that didn’t help. Into the next climb I had my nutrition working and regained some energy and did a lot better on this climb(which turns and turns and turns some more till it tops out). Then descending off the top of that ridge we got into the new singletrack and that was enjoyable but I was starting to get in need of water since the climbs were pulling the energy out of me. People were all scattered here and there but I made it to aid three catching the wheel of a few riders.

Into aid #3 I saw Chris and Kris and as they headed out I went with him. Unfortunately my teammate was having stomach issues and bagged it but I followed Chris up the horrible climb out of aid #3. This climb is especially tricky and strength draining. I made the whole climb minus one section of really rocky bottlenecked trail. On this climb I was feeling better and got through a bunch of people. I was feeling much better here than I was last year. I kept on the nutrition and hydration and kept on motoring. On the downside of this mountain was the crazy fast section of single/doubletrack that had my arms and shoulders wishing for it to be over…but it was so much fun. A couple of smaller climbs came and then it was time for the sweet – tight – loose downhill section. This section I usually see guys in the trees but not this year. It’s so loose and fast it’s crazy. I think I burnt through the rear brake pads on this one. The nice short section of road into aid station #4.

After aid 4 there was once again another long climb – in 2 parts. The first is a nice long dirt road climb that turns into a grassy/rocky/gravelly climb towards the top. Once the top is gained it quickly descends and then goes up to a trail that is very techy and rocky. It’s so much fun but by then it’s so exhausting it’s very tough to get through. It then turns to a downhill run on a nice scree slope that is tricky to descend and very unstable at high speed. It then goes to a nice overgrown trail that seems to wind downhill slowly and surely. It seems to take forever to get out since you are going very fast on babyheaded rocks forever. The hardtail was so brutal that I just wanted it to end. It was destroying my body and my will to finish. Attempting this race next year will require a full suspension for sure.***In hindsight - I was a wuss and had some bad bike setup. Too much front tire pressure and too much air in the fork can make you very cranky on rocky downhills ;-) ***

Into aid 5 for a quick bottle fill and then into the last section. I saw Chris again as I was pulling out of aid 5 and we rode together for a while discussing how 9 hours is very possible. I kept on pushing feeling the power dwindling and just wanting to make it over the last climb to the finish. Chris and I worked together to make it to the climb, both of us not knowing what we had left. The railroad beds were nice to keep pace and catch a draft whenever possible. I got to the road that leads to the last climb and it started pitching up. I tried to moderate power when I could to conserve a little but I wasn’t feeling that well. I could sense that the hard left that starts the real climb was coming up. It came and I was standing and pushing while seated just to make it to the top. Chris and I both started the climb together and told each other to go if we had it. I knew if I pushed it out it would make the rest of the ride so much quicker and easier. So every time it pitched up, I got out of the seat and killed it and waited for the next one. I came to the end of the hill and powered down onto the fisherman’s trail a few minutes ahead of Chris and catching one more rider at the top. Through the boulders I went and then onto the rail bed again.

Once on the final stretch of rail bed I pushed and caught a few riders. One jumped on my wheel and I did a couple of jumps to get him off the back but he stuck there so I grinded it out. Through the bridge successfully and through the tunnel I knew I was almost home. I got to the road and then I kept pulling this mystery rider so I was curious as to how much he had in the tank. I pulled over and said I wouldn’t mind catching a draft for a while so he pulled me for a little bit. I realized that he started to hold back and I knew he might try and snag me at the end so I told him I was just going to go for it. He said cool and off I went pounding the pedals down. Then he went flying by me with ½ mile left to go. Sonofabitch! …he used me to get to the line… So after he got a little bit of a lead and looked back twice to see if I would chase I mustered up all I had left and charged straight at him. He hit the final turn and I did shortly after although I had a lot more speed. He let up and I closed the 200 foot gap in seconds and I passed him in the final grassy turn to finish 2 seconds ahead.

What a finish…. 9 hours and 51 minutes

91st place overall

59th place open mens

Friday, July 25, 2008

Colorado and New Mexico were Amazing!

I was out in CO and NM for two weeks and it was great. I went out and did a few warm up rides before the Firecracker 50 in Breck and did a bunch afterwards. There were probably 7 rides overall and mostly over 10,000 feet. One ride was from Molas Pass to Engineer mountain on the Colorado Trail and it was some of the most breathtaking trail and some of the worst. Imagine snow for a mile followed by mud for 3. Not fun. But the other sections were cool. I eventually was doing better with the elevation but still was hurting. I got to stop by Pajarito Mountain outside of Los Alamos to ride for a bit and then take one of their downhill trails which was a blast. Nothing like flying off a jump or riding some of the ladder bridges in matchy matchy lycra. The downhillers were not amused. :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Racing at Altitude is Brutal: Firecracker 50 Report

The USAC Marathon Nationals were in Breckenridge CO this year as the Firecracker 50 . As part of a visit to see my brother in CO I was able to attend this race. We drove up Thursday night to a hotel in Fairplay CO about 30 mins outside of Breck to make the next morning a lil easier. Friday morning we arrived at the site, registered and prepared for the race.

As I was getting prepared for the race I was feeling a little jittery and checked my pulse to find I was at 98 bpm while sitting in the parking lot. I had wondered if this high altitude race idea was going to go well and I was about to find out. The town of Breckenridge is at an elevation of 9600ft and the race tops out at 11300ft. It was a little bit of a concern, but I figured I’d see what happened.

The race got started with a parade start from the center of Breckenridge and I was the 2nd wave out of the gate. It was cool to be riding in a group hi-fiving all the kids that lined the streets. The whole center of town was lined 4-5 deep as they saw us off. We rode at a relaxed pace until our marshall pulled off. Well, instead of our marshall pulling off, he faltered with the wave sign he was holding and had to stop before he fell. We then pulled around and the race was on.

We made our way from main street, took a hard left and the paved climb was on. From here it was a 6 mile climb to the first aid station. I took off pretty hot with my group and realized soon after that that recovery was going to be hard and that I would need to tone it down a bit to survive. The road kept winding up a gorgeous valley overlooking the ski area of Breck and turned onto a gravel road and kept going up. The incline persisted and I kept trying to latch onto the faster riders coming through but I just couldn’t push enough to keep on. We were all marked on the back of our right calves to signify what age group we were in, and I watched as the faster riders of each group came through. I did what I could to keep a nice pace and made it through the first aid station and turned into the singletrack.

The singletrack was nice and flowy and kept slowly working its way upward to it’s highest point and then the loose, babyhead downhill started. This section was treacherous and had to be done at blinding speed to ward off the group that was coming up from behind. Then there was a crazy fast smoother hill(that we would be coming up later) that was easy to reach speed of 35 – 40 mph. After flying down that hill we made a right past aid #2 and the worst climb of the course started.

There was a trail up to Little French Gulch that was really difficult. It was a loose shale climb that took a lot of effort to make it up. It was a slow granny gear climb that took lots of balance and motivation to keep going. There was 3 or 4 chilly runoff crossings that we would make and then continue upwards. Riding was hard or impossible as the conditions became looser and looser. We were passing snowdrifts and even part of an elk carcass. Finally as the top of that climb became completed we traversed and descended down Little French Flume which was a great singletrack that flowed on a sweet off camber section through scree and lots of loose dirt.

The trail continued down and took a sharp right to where another long climb continued. Again it was time for granny gear as the lungs were just not recovering and I was not feeling well. One by one riders came through and I just couldn’t get back any of the positions that I lost. I made most of the climb, getting off to walk a small steep section and continued up to a nice downward flowy singletrack that once again had babyheads everywhere that would pull you down in a heartbeat if you weren’t careful. There was also a sweet section of downhill with waterbars that were way to fun to play on. If I couldn’t climb well at least I was descending well. The next spot popped out to a field where it looked like it was going to get mellower and that lasted for about 5 seconds as it lead into the worst – loose off camber rocky rooty – downhill of the course. Brakes were squealing and fingers were tiring as you fought to stay in control and make it to the road below.

The gravel road then began again as aid #3 was passed and then climbing on the section that was descended before. It was a slow – not steep but descent climb that again was tough at altitude. I just kept steady as people passed one by one. I tried a few times to latch on but it still was not happening. I knew what my body could do and it wasn’t doing any of it. Finally at the top of the hill I knew it was mostly downhill to the end of lap 1. This was the most fun section of the course because it was a very fast downhill that lead to a sweet final section of flowy fast turning singletrack. I knew I could make up some time here so I kept on it and flew through the ST. The last section was the “Pinball” that entered into the start/finish area. It literally pinballed back and forth switchbacking down the final hill to the lap area. It was already getting rutted out and worn in from the tons of riders that were there. I finished lap 1 in 2:41 and seriously debated about bowing out do to the serious lack of energy and feeling horrible since I wasn’t acclimated to the altitude, but I persisted.

Lap two was the same as lap 1, just MUCH slower. I was really in survival mode as I worked through the 2nd lap. I rode most of the first 6 mile climb and got really dizzy at the top of it. I chose to stop and eat and drink to help recover. I popped a Gu and some Accelerade and it seemed to work for a little while. I reserved myself and realized any of the decent climbs I would be walking. That’s exactly what happened. As I rode the rolling stuff I put down a little power and climbed when I could but walked the steeper stuff. Actually I had to stop walking a few times in fear of totally collapsing. But, then I kept on. Through the final climb I knew it was coming to an end so I put down what I could and just enjoyed the final few miles through the tight twisty switchbacks.

As a result I finished with a time of 6 hours and 11 minutes. In the open 19-29 category I came in dead last of those that finished with at least two that DNF’d. It wasn’t what I’d call a successful day of racing but one for the memory bank as far as experience. I guess what it comes down to is that I’d rather be DFL than DNF’d. It was a hard day and one I won’t soon forget. I’ve been getting accustomed to the climbing over the endurance races, but that altitude is an adversary that I will remember for years to come.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bulldog Rump AMBC NJ State Championship 6/29

Yesterday was the Bulldog Rump put on by my club - Team Bulldog. It was race #5 in the H2H series as well as the AMBC New Jersey State Championship Race. The park it is held at is usually crazy fast when dry, and dry it was. We had a few sprinkles as we were waiting for the start and during the race but it held off and just made it a crazy fast day. As we lined up for the start there were 8 people in my class. A bunch of the usuals and then Topher. I knew topher from the NUE races and he's one fast dude. So I wondered how long I'd actually get to see him for. The gun went off and I was in a close 3rd into the first turn when the first two went wide and too close into the corner. I split them both and took first into the singletrack. I knew I was setting a fast pace so I decided to turn it back a little and see how that held up. Well a mile or so further into the singletrack Topher came flying by and that's the last time I'd see him. I few of the fast juniors came cruising through and I was sitting comfortably in 2nd for most of the first lap. That was until I hit one of the last downhills and flatted my rear tire. I pulled off to the side of the trail and waved to the pack as they flew by knowing it would take a lot to catch up.

I fixed the flat and as usual rode with some nice anger to try and catch up. I was pacing good and concentrating on being smooth to try and catch up. The pace was working well as I was picking off the slower riders from the other groups pretty well. One by one they fell. Lap 2 was fine and at one point I saw a racer in my category and wanted to close the gap. I counted he was 1:50 in front of me. By lap 3 at the same spot I caught him. I closed that gap FAST. I passed him and attacked to try and put a gap on him which worked for a little while but then he got a burst of speed and passed a few miles later. From all the hard work so far I couldn't hold on and let him slip a little ahead. This was ok as I figured I'd rest up a little and try to reel him in later. During the last lap I passed one of my teammates, and then another teammate as they were having flat issues as well. Then I caught another racer in my category and passed him. At this point I worked my way back into 4th. Then as luck would have it, 2 miles from my finish I had some shifting issues so I had to step off and one racer got by. Back into 5th. I jumped back on and then had flat #2. I ripped it apart quickly and realized I had a 26" tube for my 29'er and made it work and took off again, not losing any places which was great. I just wanted to finish now.

I made the final turn and all it would take was a mile of grass cross a road and then up to the finish. Well as I made that final turn my tire blew for the 3rd time... So I kept on rolling since it was in the grass. I hit the road, threw the bike on my shoulder, and ran up to the finish. Finishing in 5th place and feeling upset about the flats but good overall. Since Topher killed it and won the race handily and was from PA, I took 4th in the state. Not too shabby with all my issues. I think that if I didn't have the flats I would have podium'd for sure. It's all about livin and learnin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Headin West...

Well each summer I try to take some time and get out of Jersey. It's just good for the soul. So I have been talking with my brother in Colorado. After a little motivating(suckering-thanks G-String) I am gonna be headed out to Colorado June 30th. I'll be spending two weeks in the Durango and Central Colorado area. So far Crested Butte and Telluride have been mentioned as must do areas. As my brother is an avid climber as well, our rest days will be consumed with climbing whatever trad/sport routes we will find in the areas. Should be a blast. I'll be sure to get some pics and post them up. I can't wait! 13 days!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Well I've been riding my Rig'ged Fisher for a few weeks now and LOVE it. Big wheels are really makin things easy. But...I'm expecting either a repaired or warrantied Trek 9.9 Elite to come in soon since I cracked the frame. To add to things I also picked up a STOOPID light Kona Kula Supreme frame(Scandium) that actually might fit my style of riding since I'm not what you'd call a "finesse" rider. So I'm going to have a sweet race bike one way or another. The problem is that I want to have a 29'er race bike and a 26'er. It looks like it's going to be a Fisher and Kona to rock for the remainder of the season. The decision is where to put the good stuff. I want good stuff on both but the wallet doesn't agree. I think all the nice components will go back onto the 26'er and I'll scrape together some parts to keep the geared 29'er rollin. In time I'll try to get some more goodies to make the 29'er even sweeter but for now this should work. It'll be nice to have both to choose from. Now what to do with the 9.9?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Big Wheels R Fun

Rode for 2.5 hours today in a local park on my 29'er. It is a really techy place and I was wondering just how good the handling would be. IT"S GOOD!!! I cleaned sections today that I have NEVER cleaned before. It's slowly creeping into my mind as this is what I need to be racing on. The next time I get a dumb idea of trying to climb a wet and slick rock face think twice...I ended up donating blood and getting a sweet bruise from my handlebar on my chest. Moral of the always win...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Recovery Feels Good...

Got in from work today and took a while to cleanup and check over the bike. The old rule of thumb is not to change ANYTHING in the days before a race. I did the Mohican on a new bike. My Fisher Rig was converted from a SS to a geared bike 2 days before the event. So I wanted to check it all over and see what damage I did to this bike. Once it was all good I went out around town to spin for an hour and just open up the legs again. I waited 3 days since I've had some knee pain and I wanted it to be rested before I jumped back on. The few days after the race I've been rather lethargic as I thought I'd be and the ride today felt good and I feel much better after the ride.

So as the legs get back to recovering from Ohio, I'm awaiting the news about my Trek 9.9 Elite frame that was cracked and "hopefully" will be replaced under warranty. It may need to be sent back or they will ship out a new frame upon receipt of pictures of the damage. As for now the Fisher Rig'ged(With gears) 29'er is riding well and gives me the idea that I'd like to have a 29'er for these endurance races and my superlight 26'er for the short races(As well as the SS for fun of course).

Mohican 100 Race Report

It's 8:30 pm the night before the Mohican as I lie in my hotel room watching the weather channel and wondering how long it will take to be swept up by the incoming thunderstorms that are producing grapefruit-sized hail and tornadoes...wonderful. I did all the race prep I needed that night so all I had to do was wake up, put on my team kit and hit the road to Loudonville.

The morning of the race I awoke at 5(actually tossing and turning forcing myself to go back to sleep since 4) and started my morning ritual. Thankful that myself and the hotel were still in once piece, I started my day with a decent breakfast. I usually like to have a bagel with peanutbutter but since I couldn't locate any in this tiny town, I made a PB&J and grabbed a bananna to put down to start me off for the day. I then grabbed all my gear and piled into the car noticing the wetness of the area and wondering how much it had rained the previous night.

Arriving in Loudonville I got the bike out and geared up for the race. It grew closer and closer to the start time as we had a mini crit going on as people were trying to warm up. It was pretty crowded and I wondered how many people were actually in for the 100mi or the 100k. Since I was one of the gluttons in for the 100m I figured I'd take it easy out of the gate and settle in and do my thing.

7 am the race is on. Up the paved climb riding with a fellow local Chris Baks(Pawling Cycles) and realizing that I started from the back I had to pick my way through a LOT of people to get where I wanted to be. ***Mistake #1 - Start closer to the front*** We got into the double track and put the hammer down and had to deal with bottlenecking for a while. It thinned out and became better. All the while dealing with some very well dried out terrain and some slick corners, bridges and logs. The first hike-a-bike was a surprise as we all dismounted and trudged up this nice hill just wanting to be on the bike. I was starring at my gps calculating the mileage to go and noticing the nice mile markers that were laid out and how wrong they were. At mile 5 I think I saw a mile 2 marker and so on. I figured this may just be for some motivation, the bad kind for me. Aid #1 came up fast and I hammered through not wanting to stop til Aid 2.

Half way to Aid 2 I noticed I'd been pinning it the whole first section of singletrack(almost 30 miles). I had been going back and forth with Michelle Stopper(Visit PA) and tried to hold onto her for a while and she was just putting too hot of a pace down for me to keep up. I needed to start toning it down in order to conserve and still ride strong. At that point we hit a couple of really greasy sections that needed to be walked and my bike was caked with mud. Which started the chainsucking...and lots of it. In hindsight it wore off my light lube and was pulling my chain in whenever possible. This had to stop. The only way to stop it was to try and pedal smoother and ride it out till I got lube. At aid #2 I was relieved to see the stop so I could refuel and get some lube but they had no lube. ***Mistake #2 - Carry a small amount of lube just in case*** So I stood there, consumed a drink and a bananna, washed the bike and on my way I went.

Going in to aid #3 there was some more fireroad and some more singletrack that was sweet. Still chainsucking I had to bear with it and hopefully #3 had some. I wasn't feeling as well knowing I hit the first 30 miles too hard and had to conserve now. I fought it off and had a bast on more of the trails until arriving at #3. I was still feeling iffy but I knew I could get out of this rut. I took in some more fluids and some food and chilled for a few minutes too long. ***Mistake #3 - Take what you need and get right back on the bike***

I knew this next section would be a long haul so I worked on feeling better and trying to get the legs back under me. They came back and just in time. I hit the long rail section with some decent energy which was good cause I saw Carey Lowery sneaking up. I figured at this point if I could work in with people that I could save some energy and maybe crack into the 9's. So Carey, myself and another rider jumped in line on the rail trails. I couldn't believe how well they were pulling. I wanted to take turns to do my share but I couldn't hang on that long. So after a nice little effort trying to conserve energy I dropped back and worked on my own. Only to find a couple more riders to work with a little later. The rails ended and we finally arrived at aid #4 after a really sloppy messy section leading up to it. I knew if I got this far I can find the motivation to get to #5 and the end. I kept on it.

At aid 4 I got some more water and took a little more time than needed but got an ice cold pepsi(Which was AWESOME!!!) and hit the road again. I knew it would be a little bit of road and the end wasn't that far. I caught up with Mike Kuhn(Visit PA) and chatted with him and another rider and got some more motivation to keep on and he pulled away. I wanted to stick with him to hopefully save the 9 hr pace but I knew I couldn't. Then the last couple of killer hills came after crossing the suspension bridge. I wasn't doing that well but I knew I could get past them - walking. So I got over em and powered on to aid 5. I knew it was almost over but couldn't taste it yet.

As I hit that final piece of ST from #5 I kept looking to see the damn which would NOT come. That was one long 7 mile section. It finally came and I rode up to the bottom of the steps, dismounted and did the hike refusing to look at the top and focusing on each step at a time. Into the final section of trails I saw a guy suffering and used him as my mark and passed him gaining a little momentum to end the pain. Then as I was passing the cabins I saw another in front of me and used all I had to get past him and try and gain one more position. I had no idea if either of these two were doing the 100 mi but in my head they were calling me names and I had to get in front of them. Finally across the finish line I was able to grab my glass, some food, and some relief as I laid down in the grass. What a day. Truly awesome singletrack, great people, great venue and a decent performance. I know the things I need to do next time and I will hopefully have it all set for the Wilderness 101. That's the next stop on my tour. I completed it last year and if all goes well I'll have a new PR this year. Only time will tell...