Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 Down 1 to Go

It's been a long MTB season and it will be all done this weekend. The last race of the season is the Ringwood Leaf Blower. Hopefully it will be a fast dry course, although thus far the weather is not indicating so. Either way it'll be fun to get out there and wrap it up.

I did just find out I've got some work to do as I was going over my bike and found a frozen derailleur pulley that needs to be repaired by then. It'll be fixed and I'll be ready to rock. The rest of the bike looks to be in good order and believe it or not the fork is fixed. The cartridge that was loosening up has been fixed and it was nice to have a little squish in the front end this past weekend!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rumble in the Jungle

It was a tough course today. Definitely for those who can handle a bike. I had a decent start but was sitting deep behind a Bulldog train. So I figured that I'd put in an effort and see if I can get to the front before the nasty stuff started. Shifted to the big ring, locked the fork and dropped the hammer. I went from sitting 8th or so to 4th getting into the singletrack. Steve went by me not too far after that and I hung with Chris and Steve as we carved the rocky singletrack and it was good to not have any bottlenecking to deal with. As I settled in I couldn't keep the hot pace and drifted back as Shernce came flying by and with him came Marco. I let them go and just rode consistently and within my limits for the rest of the race. At one point Allistair had some issues and I got past him and that's the way the race ended. 6th place and glad to actually be able to race after last weekend. ***Edit, 7th place as I'm an idiot and managed to miss a rider in my class passing me on the 2nd lap as I thought he was in an older category. Way to be attentive - I know...***

I was a little bummed to have to clean off the bike once again but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Slimy and grimy and not good for parts but there's always room for upgrades right? Decent day and looking forward to Ringwood next weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CAT4 Road Upgrade...

DENIED! Well at least I gave it a shot.

I was thinking that there are some nice road races to try next year but you need to be CAT4 or above and I'm still a lonely CAT5. By the rulebook it says you need 10 starts. I've got 6 and a pretty extensive resume of CAT 1 MTB and a pretty decent Endurance resume so I tried to ask for an upgrade based on what I've done so far. I guess all that matters is road time...sheesh.

The response from USA cycling said that once I've done a few more road races, then resubmit the resume for approval. Is a few - 1, 2, 3, 4? Not too sure so either way I won't be doing any road races this season, which leaves me to return as a CAT5 next season. I'm not upset, just curious actually. I have no real aspirations to be a road racer, I'd just like a faster group to race with and get some more quality training time in. Better luck next year!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009 NUE Series Overall Results are Up!


The overall results were just posted today and I'm very happy to see them so soon.

I'm excited to see a nice improvement over last year.

2008: 17th Place Overall
2009: 12th Place Overall

The biggest improvement is my finish placings from last year, 271 pts vs 114 points. Just in the races that I have repeated this year I took an average of 1:11+ off of each race finish. Hopefully this was my launching platform and I'll continue to improve next year.

At this point I'm glad the traveling is over and I'll only be doing local events this fall. At this point my count is 2 more XC races and 5 CX races. Then base for the 2010 season will be fully underway.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What was it really like?

Talking to a few people today they were asking how a course could be as insane as Teaberry. So I figured I'd do a little picture searching to see how I can illustrate what it was like to ride the Michaux course. Here's what I came up with:

Teaberry Reflections

Well after a nights thoughts I figured I'd post up some revelations.

This race was freaking hard! INSANELY rocky and just astounding at what can be put into a race. With that said... I had a few things working against me. I realized that about 5 miles into the race that my newly rebuilt fork wasn't working. It was totally locked out and rigid. This really annoyed me since I had issues at the Fools Gold in Georgia with it and also in VA at the Shenandoah Mountain 100. It was supposed to be totally rebuilt so I'd have no issues with it. I tried to ignore it once I figured that out but mentally that killed me.

On top of that I passed up a bunch of aid stations and chose to only stop at aid #3. I was totally on fumes getting into aid #3. About 5 miles before that I had to start rationing water and that's not good. I ran out with about 2 miles left and just had to suck it up. Once I got my bottles filled I chugged one which left only one bottle for the next 8 miles and I started running out and rationing the last bottle. In hindsight I should have topped them off at aid two for the 30 seconds it would have taken, but no I'm a stubborn idiot and didn't want to lose those precious seconds.

So right there that would have made my race much better, but mentally it just wore me down and I struggled with the will to keep going. I was down and really not in a good spot mentally. If I had pushed through the little rut that I got in I probably would have shaved a good 10 minutes or better off of my ride. I know - it's the good old "what if?" game. If anything it gave me a new found respect for the other courses that are out there and the madness that is not put in there.

I can feel how much I had to work the bike as my shoulders are pretty spent today. Just in the one section alone there had to be 20 downed trees(and not small ones) in a 1/4 mile section that was just strenuous. I may be down for checking out some of the other races at michaux, at least knowing that I finished the hardest one.

The funny thing too is that I didn't really feel that shredded as far as my legs were concerned. I could go if I had the will to but that was the struggle. It was just DIFFICULT. If you have the urge to try a truly demanding soul searching event, you need to give Teaberry a shot.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Michaux Suck Fest

Well I've heard about the mystique of Michaux and now I can say I officially have experienced it. One memory that I want to fade very, very quickly so I can the sadistic trails out of my head. I have never ridden a tougher 40 miles ANYWHERE! The promoter called the trails sadistic and he was right. I can almost positively say that I rode more on rock today than I did on dirt. And not the nice side of the rocks either, the pointy jagged wicked edge of disaster - most of the time.

It was just the pounding that seemed to go on forever. As soon as you'd think it would let up, it would run right back into rocky hell. I for one love techy stuff and I was sick of the techy stuff. I like to ride it - but had no idea how to "race" it. The best I could do was to just try to keep moving forward and hopefully last longer than the other guys. I literally got off the bike and walked for extended sections audibly cursing up a storm and wishing it would all end. This was enough bad karma to have me, shortly thereafter, stung in the ass by an angry bee. Just what I needed for motivation.

I was relieved to have survived 39 miles of the course and in the last mile I saw a guy in red that I assumed was a competitor from a different class just up ahead. I would soon realize that he was actually in my category. I was trading places with him the last 15 miles, and he was just ahead mounting his bike after a hike a bike and saw that he was hurting. I had let him go and thought I would never see him again but he was right there. I was hurting too but at that point the trail was kinda smooth and I had waaaaay too much aggression to let this guy beat me.

I crept onto his wheel and saw his slower pace and just launched on him and he couldn't cover it. The parking lot was in sight and of course one more turn was to be had to scare me thinking that I've gone too soon. But it was ok. I kept on it and got around the next few bends to see the actual finish. It was a sight for sore arms, no ass, no sore eyes. Everything was sore.

So all in all it worked out with a lot of banging off of rocks, a little bit of hiking and a big sigh of relief when it was all done. Somewhere around 14 in my class including a couple of stout pros such as Harlan Price, Brandon Draugelis, and Aaron Snyder which were all way ahead of me and I finished in 7th place with a time of 5:09. Not too bad with the melt down I had.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Took out the new CX bike for her first spin today. Went from my apt over to the Tourne Park. On the road I could feel the knobbies causing a little less rolling resistance but not too bad. Then I got into the trails. Holy crap! The acceleration and flat out speed of this bike is nuts. I took it on some mild stuff and I hit a few rock gardens. It's of course sketchier in the gardens but man I don't know if I've ever seen 21 mph on a flat trail before today. It doesn't even feel like it takes much effort to go really fast on this thing. This is awesome!!! Oh and for you purists, there were a few trees down and I practiced my dismounts/mounts at speed

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CX just got more promising.

I've competed in one cyclocross event two years ago and I'd love to give it more of a go this year as an addition to my fitness. Actually it's going to be a challenge since it's exactly the area of my fitness that I do not accel at. Hard, fast, high HR races are pretty painful and it's time to experience more of that this fall. To supplement this I need the right equipment - and it came home on the roof of my car today. The Trek XO1 is now a sweet part of my quiver that I'll have to size up and get used to in the next few weeks. It's a sweet ride and I can't wait to throw down on this puppy. Should be tons of fun. Plus it'll give me a pretty sweet winter training bike as well. So lets see that means at the moment I have 4 MTB's, 2 Roadies, 1 CX bike, and 1 fixie. And guess what - 6 of them are 29'ers ;-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Terror of Teaberry

Weather is looking sweet so what the hey. I'm gonna go visit the rocky land of Michaux and go visit the Michauxslovokian Militia and mix it up to see how I fair. If it lives up to all that I've hear about this place it's going to be insane! I can't wait!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Still Recovering...

I dropped the race bike off to get some tender loving care and decided to take out my singlespeed Rig and get in some miles as my first ride after the SM100. The ride was amazing since it was supposed to be raining and it was a perfectly dry overcast day. I threw on the 20 cog and was enjoying the spinnyness compared to my old 18. Well that was until I was cranking pretty steadily up a tough hill and my heart rate didn't follow. Ahhh it's just not responding yet. No biggie. I kept on and hit another hill a few minutes later. Same deal. Alright I think I'm a bit shot so I'll just ride chill for a while and try again later. Yep, attempt #3 ended up in failure. I couldn't get my HR over 165 so I just enjoyed the scenery and spun out the rest of my ride. I was just happy to be on the bike and enjoy the wonders of Allamuchy before the rains set in for the weekend.

I'll be riding this weekend in the form of leading a group ride at JORBA fest and having a nice long ride on Sunday to bring my fitness back up for the Terror of Teaberry race. Hopefully I'll be feeling a little more up to the challenge but I'm looking forward to a nice fall riding season. This is my favorite time of year to ride. Time to throw down for the sake of fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SM100 Close Calls

The SM100 was a great race but it looks like it's taken a bit of a toll on my gear. Looks like my fork needs to be rebuilt. It's been leaky and acting funny and now it's lost some of it's travel and the ability to tune the rebound and lockout. Time for some surgery. It seems I was lucky to make it through the SM100 without a total failure.

Then I found out my next instance of being lucky. I just looked at my left pedal to see some carnage. It was making funky noises on the first climb and it's probably because it was about to explode. It's the crank bros egg beaters and it's got about 1/2" of lateral play in it. That's not kosher. I did feel it about the time it was making noise torquing my foot forward as my cranks rotated. It probably should have shot off the spindle and made my race a very miserable one. Thank goodness it didn't. I'm sure Crank Bros will repair it in their speedy fashion as they usually do as their customer service has been top notch. Either way these pedals have done a great job and need to be reborn.

The last thing that I noticed was that there was a bad bearing in my cranks that caused an annoying tick as my left pedal reached 12 o'clock. So it seems my bearings are most likely shot and will be replaced. Time for some ceramic bearings at least to give my Superfly a little love. After all it's been through some pretty nasty battles this season.

At least all of this stuff made it to the end of the season and didn't let me down when I really needed it. Luck has been on my side. I still have to figure out why I've been surfing down the trails on my face lately. 2 hard falls in the last 2 100 milers have made things certainly exciting. I could do without those.

Monday, September 7, 2009

SM100 Recap

Well I'm back with the SM100 fully in the bag and I just have to say.... Actually I don't really know what to say. I'm kind of speechless. Here's the story according to cycling news:


Here's my recap.
I got into the campsite Friday night around 10 and got setup and got a decent night's sleep. Saturday I had a nice lazy day with a little hour and 10 minute spin up the road to the first climb where I put in a 3 minute effort and then turned around and rolled gently back to the camp. The legs were feeling good and the climb was fairly effortless. After all it was only 3 minutes and the big climb the next day was 18 miles. So for the remainder of the day I just chilled with a few teammates and friends, had a nice pasta dinner that the Shenandoah folks provided, and turned in early to get ready for the Sunday festivities. My thoughts were that I felt pretty good but I wouldn't really know until I was in the middle of battle on raceday. The other thing that worried me was that on the preride I noticed a bearing that seems to have a dead spot in my crank. Wonderful. Also my back brake was feeling squishy and I hoped I wouldn't have any issues on race day. So off to sleep I went and as usual I didn't have a good sleep as I was anticipating the race so I could only do what I could do.

Awake at 4:30 and the campground already had a quiet bustle about it. Warming up my water to choke down my oatmeal I was feeling very unsure about the race but was willing to give it a go. 5:15 the gong was traveling around the cground and before I knew it, it was approaching 6:30 and I was off to line up with no warmup. Knowing last year I fought through most of the field, I lined up to the side of the start to try and get a nice position. It worked. The neutral start wasn't so neutral as we were traveling fairly quickly down the cground exit and onto the pavement. Once we hit the bridge the pace quickened and around the first turn onto dirt the pace lifted again. I hung with the lead group for the first 6 miles or so and then I knew I needed to ride within my limits to finish this thing so I dropped back and rode my own pace. I blazed through aid #1 and down the gravel I went catching a wheel to help recover and prep for the next climb.

We made a left onto the pavement and soon the group of two turned to a group of 6 or so. We climbed the pavement pace-lining and got in a nice order for the steep climb ahead. This is where you DON"T want to be bottlenecked. I was in a strong group so everyone was steady and solid on this climb. We cranked to the top dismounting on one rugged section but rode the rest. Hit the top and started the descent catching someone's wheel very quickly. I start hearing this woman's voice from behind me and was wondering who it was. Sure enough it was Sue Haywood. I bobbled on a couple of features and she showed me how to ride them as I watched from the side of the trail. Shortly after Gunner Shogren came up and came through as I was bobbling as a result of shifting issues. I caught up with him a bit later as he dropped his chain. So back to the fire roads I was off to aid #2 flying solo. Just before aid 2 I caught Sue and two other riders came up, Brad and ?. So we worked together and hit aid #2. Grabbed a bottle and I was off.

Sue, Brad, and I worked together into the Hankey Mtn climb and once again I had to back off to ride within my limits. This was just as Gunnar came flying through and made me look like I was standing still on his SS. This climb was actually a lot easier than I remember. It was looking good but I was still tentative about the next climb and then the 18 mile one after that. That's where I cracked last year and it wasn't good from there on out. So charging the top of Hankey I let it fly on the descent and was having a blast on that sweet benched singletrack. Having a blast and pumping my back brake because it was becoming inconsistent and would pull all the way back to the bar at times. Not what you really want on these screaming descents but I worked with it and tried to let it not bother me. Actually at one point I was getting held up by a rider and couldn't see my line well and went down hard luckily falling to the good side. I got up collected myself and promptly got back on the wheel I was chasing earlier. Soon after rolling into aid #3 for two bottles and some lube.

All was looking good so far but now it was the false flat road section that I had no one to work together with. I was hoping to work with someone but no luck. Here's where I had some trouble. I knew climb 4 was only 2 miles but it was a hard two mile climb. I struggled at one point and actually lost my balance and stepped off to the bad side. I went running down the hillside luckily catching a tree and getting back up to my bike with my legs starting to cramp. Great. To this point my nutrition and hydration was on but now I was questioning that. At that point I was having trouble just getting started so I pulled to the side as I let Roger Masse through. As quickly as I saw him he was now gone. I started to get some more juice and I topped the climb in better shape and started the descent. I worked the descent and railed it and took those couple small climbs at the bottom in stride and rolled into aid #4 for two bottles again.

On the road to the big climb I passed aid #3 and I just tried to set a solid pace. It was going well and I felt someone in my draft and I looked back to see Jason Hilimire sneaking up. I have read his blog a few times and it was cool to see him on the course and chat a bit. It was especially good since we were chatting on the 18 mile climb which seemed to help. We we were both feeling kinda iffy and hoping thing were going to change around. We caught another single speeder at some point and started rotating pulls to speed it up and it didn't last that long. We made some time but I was starting to feel crappy and I looked back and saw Jason was gone. Then I couldn't hang onto the SS'er. I was on my own now. I kept on it and got through a couple of nice punchy climbs until the hard right and the real climb was there. At one point I realized that my legs just weren't putting down what I thought I could. I decided to get my heart rate down and try to enjoy the climb. The day was nice and overcast and the scenery was gorgeous. So I turned it back and just gave it an ok effort. A few came through and I let them go just racing my race but it was hard knowing at this point that I was probably going to finish in 9:15 or 9:30. I wanted sub 9 badly but I knew the stars would have to align to get this done and it wasn't looking too hot. I believe it was about 7:00 when I got to the aid #5. And knowing that it was 25 miles in 2 hours was going to be hard to beat.

9:15 or 9:30 was settling in and I was content with that. It's been a long season and to do that at the SM100 was a feat in itself. So from aid #5 I got into the downhill and started climbing again. This went by faster than I remember and was really a lot of fun. Now my back brake was barely even there. So I was reduced to braking with 90% front brake on 40 mph gravel downhills. I wasn't too fond of that. Back to the road up to aid #6 I was riding with another rider and we were chatting about breaking the sub 9 hour mark. Riding up to aid #6 it was 1:10 til the 9 hour mark. It was possible but it was going to be painful. I didn't really think that I had it in my tank to do it. So I kept a steady pace and hoped for the best. I topped the last climb with 42 minutes til the 9 hour mark. I drilled that climb with all I had left. Down the fast downhill I flew and made the left onto the gravel fire road. I knew this had a couple of short climbs to ruin any motivation and hope of sub 9. So each one I hit, I hit even harder praying for that elusive mark. Then another, and another. I was just praying for that last left turn into the campground to come ASAP so it would all be over. It FINALLY did and I blasted down those final water bars - across the double grass jump - and around the horseshoe to the finish line. Somewhere in the low 9's would have been fine but I guess I was happy with what I finished in:
Holy Crap!!! I have no idea how that happened. I wasn't feeling stellar or even great. I guess I just rode consistently mediocre and that was good enough.

What a feeling crossing that line in 8:41. Last year's time was 10:39. That's 1:58 off of last year's time. I knew the conditions helped but the fitness just pulled me through somehow. It ends up I was 43rd overall and 36th in open mens. It's totally surprising considering there was 550 people there and a LOT of strong people. Truly a strong end to my 5th 100 miler of the year and a great way wrap up my season. I do have a couple of races left on the calendar but I was really vested in the NUE series and it's a relief for it to be over. Once again the SM100 people and Chris Scott put on one hell of an event!!! Thanks guys!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Awaiting the Start

This week has gone by so fast, it's amazing. I started this week by working some last minute summer work to help pay some bills. Then before I knew it I was starting teacher year #6 and 110 fresh faces were staring back at me in my classroom. The summer was great and really felt like a long break with all the traveling I did. I was happy to get through the first few days of school and then I remembered that I would be leaving after work on Friday(today - yikes!) to travel to Harrisonburg VA and take on the Shenandoah Mountain 100 Sunday. This week totally flew by.

It wasn't much for a transition but now back teaching, I've tried to keep focused on my training, but there's so much to get set up at work that it's hard to concentrate on anything else. Maybe that's a good thing. By this time last year I felt good going into the SM100 and then slowly grenaded about 50 miles in. Merely surviving the last 50 miles. This year I feel a lot fresher and I'm envisioning each climb and each fantastic(hellish) spot that sticks out in my memory(like the 18 mile climb). Hopefully this distraction may have me a little fresher going into this than I realize. Maybe I'm just desperately hoping for this? Could be...

Any way as the rumors go it's supposed to be, all things being equal(which they never are), that whatever time you ran at the W101 and add 10-15 minutes is the usual time for the SM100. Well 8:48 was my W101 and I'm hoping to cash in some extra credit and delete those 10-15 minutes since the W101 was pretty grimy and slick. So all things being considered, I've convinced myself that a sub 9 hour finish IS doable. Whether the stars align or not is anyone's guess. All I know is that I seem to have the nutrition and hydration fairly well dialed and the bike is dialed. So if both of those two pieces don't let me down I should have an enjoyable day. Either way I'm still craving pizza and brownies at Aid 5 - they better be there!

So we'll have to see how it all goes Sunday. Either way it'll wrap up #5 of the hundies for me this year and my main focus for the year. I'll still be doing some local XC races and hopefully some cross races for fun. I'll have to see as there may be a little addition to my quiver soon as the CX bike is calling my name. There may be bike #8 sitting in my apartment soon. Stay posted for details...