Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Calling all Root 66, 30-39 year old Cat 1 mountain bikers

This past season I raced in the Pro/Cat 1 category to see how I could compete with the best riders in New England. I finished somewhere in the middle every race. Which is good. I never came in dead last. But after each race I would complain about how I couldn't keep up with those top guys.

USA Cycling made some changes last year to get rid of the Semi-pro category and created the Cat 1 (used to be "Expert") class. Cat 1 was considered on the fence so you could race with the pro's or experts. Those that chose to upgrade from Semi-pro to Pro figured out that they really belonged in the pro field. USAC thought that this change in Category would fill out the pro field and thus give more "competition."

From my point of view after racing a full season in the Pro class I noticed that the same top 5 guys would break away after the first 5 minutes of the race. Leaving me in "No man's land" or hoping that one of the pro guys would crack and I would pass him limping along feeling good about myself for beating a pro. Or they have a mechanical and so it looks good on the results. So even though I finished most races somewhere in the middle I don't think I gave much competition to the pro field. Leaving me with a lackluster feeling of satisfaction. "If only" was the theme all the way home from the race.

Sandbagging- I looked at my results last year in the single speed class and found that if you compared my time to the other cat 1's it was usually top 5. So naturally I thought that I should upgrade to the next level unless I wanted to be labeled a sandbagger. But I think I skipped a step in between. Since I was racing the single speed class I should have upgraded to the geared Cat 1 age group. That would have been the small step that I needed to still be competitive. Geared riders hate being beat by a single speeder and thus it would up the competition. I find that racing for top 5 is much better than for top 15. And the 30-39 group is no joke. They typically are the fastest group and could potentially become the largest too. Plus, Kevin Hines raced his age group one week and then the next week won the pro race at Putney. If I came close to second or third place I might consider myself in contention to actually win a pro race. But the amount of training I do just doesn't get the job done.

Laps-I know that extra laps can make or brake a rider. I found that on some of the steeper courses I would catch some riders on the extra lap. I would get a sense of accomplishment with the extra lap, but I would have to curtail my riding to some degree to make sure I had something left for the final lap. On the other hand I found myself feeling like I needed more time to recover between races and I would feel run down during the week. So maybe racing one lap less per week will help with recovery.

So hear me out fellow Cat 1's on the fence (I know who you are) about whether or not you should stay in the pro class or race your age group. Race with me in the 30-39 age group and not the pro race so that we can have some fun. And let the best Cat 1 win!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easthampton #4 Accelerated cure project

Josh Wilcox took some mad footage.

The Spooky Bikes Cyclocross Race, race #4 of the 2009 Accelerated Cure Project Cyclocross Series was put on by the Cyclonauts Racers.

Fantastic race! One of the best courses out there. Lot's of turns, decent runup, mud pit, and sand pit all make it fun and best suited for my strengths.

At the line we were told that the first one across the start/finish on the first lap would get a set of tires. So being that I like free stuff I went out to get those tires. I was a little bummed when they didn't have tires but instead I got $20. Lesson learned, never listen to what the race official has to offer. It may be too good to be true. But whatever, I'm stoked to get anything.

After burning up 1/2 a book of matches to get those mythical tires I had to recover some. Graham when by and I couldn't hold his wheel. The last video of the Run up shows the order we were in for the first few laps. Graham Garber, Jeremy Durrin, Anthony Clark, and me. At the top of the run up Jeremy dropped his chain. Something that plagued me last year at the same course. And what's weird is that he had the same set up with the dog tooth thing. I'm glad I got rid of mine and stuck to the front derailleur and I didn't shorten my chain either. My chain came off only once this season at Mansfield. Jeremy was on course to win this race but luck or fate was on my side this time. Mckittrick was also gunning for podium but I'm sure he was just having one of those days.

I started to close in on Anthony and once I caught him I knew I had to shake him or he might think he could hang with me for the rest of the race. (By the way Anthony was killing it. I talked to him after the race and he told me he rides a trainer 9 hours a week while he babysits.) Josh was encouraging me by yelling out "there's the point difference!" (Meaning if I don't beat this guy I'm going to lose the series). I had 2 points on Graham but if we tied in points he would win the series. So all I was thinking about was beating Anthony. Once I caught him I hung onto his wheel on one of the paved sections rested in his draft while he put out effort and then like sprinting for a town line I clicked down a gear and punched it.

I punched it hard all the way up the run up and then needed to relax and breathe because I was really suffering. I recovered for a minute and then I thought "wow I'm in second place". I could see Graham on different parts of the course and I thought maybe I could catch this guy. The only way I could catch him is if he had a mechanical or crashed hard. So I started chanting "crash, crash, crash." Then I stopped because I thought it might make me crash. After the race I found out that he did crash. But it wasn't enough to make up enough time for me. I'll have to work on my voodoo magic during the off season.

So in the end I got "Garbered" for the second day in a row. My hat is off to you sir. Well done. I talked to Graham after the race for a bit and found out that he might not be doing cross next year. He will however be racing on the road. Anthony came in third and Jeremy 4th followed by Mckittrick. Nice job guys it was fun racing with you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cheshire Cross, CT state championship

Cheshire cross race this year was my payback from a crappy race last year. Last year I raced at Cheshire about 2 months after I broke my collarbone and separated my shoulder. It was 20 degrees out and since I had not been racing for a while my lungs were not used to the stress and I started coughing up phlem. So much phlem that I choked and threw up after the 3rd lap and quit the race. So ya, I was really stoked to come back this year and kill it. Above is me posing with my prime for getting the hole shot.

I almost slid out on this turn. Photos are by Jen Audia.

Santa was back and more obnoxious then last year by blowing smoke in my face.

The crowd was quite until I was halfway up the climb then they erupted with cheers. It was awesome and I gave them the thumbs up.

Finish line

Lots of friends and family came out to watch. Super cool. It seemed like every corner there was someone yelling my name. They made it so special for me.

Race report:

Let me take you back to a couple of weeks ago: didilloo... didiloo... didiloo... (time machine noise)

After Northampton I was thoroughly shot. The double weekend thing really took it's toll on me and I didn't even want to look at my bike for that whole week. Instead I decided to take a brake and shift my focus to running. Since it has been getting dark at 5pm with the new time change and getting cooler at night I really was having a tough time getting motivated to ride. So running was an alternative because I could stay warmer. During that week I ran early in the mornings and I did 9 miles on Thursday night. I was trying to figure out the Turkey trot course but got lost. Then Sunday I figured out the course and ran the 10k in 47 minutes.

Monday and Thursday I rode about an hour and ran a little in the morning. I confessed to Josh that I hadn't been riding and wasn't sure what to do. I was worried that I was going to suck for the Cheshire and the Easthampton race. But it turned out to be a good thing. A long time ago CB2 told me that your body will tell you if you need a rest and he was right.

Now fast forward to the race in Cheshire. spirrrruuuuut. Ding.

I lined up early to get the front row. Then Hunter (the judge) came over and announced that since there was only a few people signed up for the pro 123 race that they were going to cancel that race and only have the 3/4 race. Then he asked if any one has seen Graham Garber and to let him know that if he is going to race then he has to race in the 3/4 because the 123 race was canceled. (Later I would find out that he was in line to go to the bathroom when someone told him that he needed to line up now! But he was like, " I have to pee!") So we waited for Graham to get to the line and everyone was kinda bummed, including myself, that he was racing with us. "There goes my state championship" I thought.

In case you don't know Graham he's a pro in sheep's clothing. He won the cat 3 race in Northampton with only a 6th row call up. He used to be a cat 1 on the road and used to train 25 hours a week. This guy is the real deal.

Anyway, Graham gets to the line and the lady who told us all that we needed to know about the race before we started casually says "go." And were off. Lot's of guys were caught off guard but not me. I tore up the grass and headed directly for the inside corner. We pop a 180 and as I'm turning I see to my left that Graham was already there but his wheels slid out from under him and he almost crashed into me but I punched it as hard as I could and clicked through a few gears. Hole shot baby!

I lead out for a while until I was caught by Bill Kenny then I passed him back before the swoopy downhill section and tried to open a gap. Then the massive run up that only Josh Wilcox could ride. This hill is really steep and rooty and has 2 logs that are at least 18" tall. Really hard to pull off. In this video it's hard to see what's going on until the end but the sound of the crowd is all that matters. I really love this race mainly for the "Hill people." Cheshire is the best race of the season because people come out and go crazy on this hill. I wish I could have been in the crowd cheering myself on.

So once again Bill passes me on the run up but at the top of the hill drops his chain so around him I went. Later I was thinking how nice of a guy he was for letting me by. He could have blocked the trail or something so I would lose some time. What a nice guy. He is such a nice guy that later I found out that he was doing some kind of charity work instead of going to Easthampton the next day. What a good guy.

As you can see in the video Graham has caught me now and is working the lead. This guy knows how to put that hammer down! The strange thing is that once he opened that gap of about 27 seconds he stayed there. I couldn't gain anything. I did however gain a little bit on the last lap when Alex told me to "dump the tank!" With my response being "It's dumped!"

So even with out a warm up, a full bladder and sliding out on at the start and ending up last Graham Garber wins Cheshire 3/4 and is the State Champion! I got second place and Silver State Champion. Way to to Graham you deserve it!

Another cool thing about this race was to have an announcer as we went by the start finish line. During the race he told me to remember to pick up my beer after the race for winning the hole shot. Pretty cool!

I think the best thing about the race was all of my friends and family coming out to watch and cheer me on. I can't tell you how much that means to me. There were at least 20 people yelling my name around the course. Not to mention Alex and Paul rode their bikes from Winsted to watch and Emily came to watch and pick them up. And Josh and Alex running from spot to spot on the course to keep track of how many seconds I was back from Graham. Josh said later that he might overdid it a little going back and forth from the hill. I'm sure that affected his race the next day in Easthampton. Even Charlie came down with his son to cheer me on! Jen and Nay took some awesome photos that I put up here and my Facebook page. They raced earlier that day and stuck around. Their passion for cyclocross is amazing.

I would like to especially thank my wife Jesse for cheering me on and being so supportive and understanding with all of my racing and riding. You are the best!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Northampton Verge cyclesmart race day 1 and 2, Chi running and SSUSA

At the beginning of the season I thought that it would be impossible to get points if you signed up late for a Verge race. Then I got some points on Saturday and got a call up on Sunday. Sweet! So it is possible. I'll have to remember that for next year.

Saturday went well and Sunday went even better. Adam Myerson did a great job setting up this course. I loved every inch of it. After the race on Sunday I did a few more laps because I couldn't get enough of the course. Thanks Adam!

I moved up a lot on Saturday but at the end I lost some spots because I didn't sprint for the finish. I could have possibly gotten 14th but I had this weird feeling that I was going to crash so I didn't go for it. Man did I regret that. All night I stewed over that decision and vowed to never do that again. 18th for Saturday. Not bad for starting in 70th.

On Saturday some guy tried to get in front of me in the woods so I gunned for the corner to get there before him. Well he wasn't budging and I wasn't budging so I sent him into the tape by accident. Somehow he still got in front of me and was really threatening me verbally. Like "don't you f-ing touch me again!" I was like "relax man." I wound up passing him down the course hoping he wouldn't recognize my jersey and throw a fist out or something weird.
Thanks to my fans Alex, Em, and Josh and others who yelled out my name for cheering me on and encouraging me. You are the best and I appreciate it.

Sunday I was on a mission. Destroy every rider in sight until the end. No more hanging onto wheels to recover. I'll recover some in the upper wooded section. I loved passing guys on the open pavement section. I'm sure they were thinking "no, that's not how you do it." And it wouldn't be smart to do it that way if I was in the pro race. But then again look at the pro leaders. They are out there all by themselves with no one to recover with. At Providence Katrina Nash slayed her race even though she was way out front she kept the pedal to the floor.
On the last turn there was no one with me but I sprinted for the finish anyway. I saw one dude close to the line and thought I might make it but didn't. 13th for Sunday.

13th is a victory in my book at a Verge race. If only I could get the front row or 2nd row. I might have a chance at podium.

That double weekend really took it out of me. It's Saturday the next week and I haven't touched my bike. I'm feeling like my body needs some recovery time. It may sound weird but I did a lot of running this past week instead. I think mentally I might be burn out on bikes this week. I guess it's good timing then that I have this weekend off.

I've been "training" to do this run in CT called the Goshen Turkey Trot 10K. It's on Thanksgiving morning. So far I'm pretty slow. I can do about a 9:30 mile over 7 miles. I'm sure during the race it will be different. The top results for the last 3 years have been 5:33 miles average. I've got a long ways to go.

I've been learning a new technique called "Chi Running." It's all about running using the mechanics of your body and gravity to pull you along. It's really hard to master but the more I practice it the more fun I have running. And it promises injury free running. If I do it right.
I also got into the SSUSA race in Tucson AZ in February. I hope I am more motivated to get on a mountain bike soon. I havn't ridden Selma since Ringwood. I still have a broken spoke to fix. I might take all of December off anyway. We'll see.
Next Week, Cheshire on Saturday and Easthampton on Sunday.
Thanks for reading. Peace.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tymore Park

Tim Schopen and team from Eastern Sports Promotions did a great job setting up a course over an Equestrian park. Tim said they used Google Earth to map it out. We could see the course from the road and saw that it was all in this one field and was a little disappointed but once I was on the course I was stoked!

Lot's of twists and turns and out of the saddle efforts played in my favor.

Place Time Laps First Last Team
1 57:47 12 Johannes Huseby FiordiFrutta Elite Cycling Team
2 57:48 12 James Harmon 503 Cycleworx/LHCC
3 58:51 12 David Freifelder Westwood Velo
4 59:02 12 Joshua Wilcox 503 Cycleworks
5 59:57 12 Todd Cassan Westwood Velo
6 60:26 12 Brian Lariviere Team Bulldog/Cycle Craft

An article was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal by Nancy Haggerty.

"The six-rider Men’s Pro race was a two-man contest almost from the start.

Johannes Huseby of Danbury, Conn., who works for Cannondale and started riding cyclocross professionally 12 years ago, traded the lead with James Harmon of Litchfield, Conn., in the early going before settling in right behind Harmon’s rear wheel for the rest of the race.
Well, almost the rest.

On a short, steep hill with about 150 yards left, Huseby, who rides for FiordiFrutta Elite Cycling, passed Harmon.

He’d plotted the move long before, determining where Harmon was slowest on the course and where, with little more than tight turns and one obstacle left, Harmon would have a hard time recapturing the lead.

"He was strong and riding really well. (But) I knew I could hang (on) from that point on," said Huseby, who crossed a second before Harmon in 57:47.

Despite creating an energy-saving draft for Huseby, Harmon said he wanted to stay in front, fearing that Huseby, who was strong on the flats, might otherwise "power away."
"I figured if I kept him behind, I could manage," said Harmon, who normally rides down in Category 3/4 for 503 Cycleworx. "Towards the end, I tried to give it all I have and he was right there. ... He was smart. ... When he did make his move, I wasn’t ready."

I wish I could find some pictures to put in here. It was a really good race for me especially being my 1st pro race I felt pretty good about my placing.

Nancy writes other articles in the NY area that are cycling related. It's really cool to get some coverage like this for small events. Great job Nancy! And thanks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hartford Cross, Victory is mine!

Some sick dudes at the line up. I had to not look at them so I wouldn't get intimidated by there carbon wheels and onesies uni suits or what ever you call them.

Lot's of rain the day before left the course muddy. A pit bike would have been nice.

Jesse, Naomi, and Will cheered me on to victory. Thanks' guys for being there!

This was the run up. Check out the guy with the single speed mountain bike. He was killing it!
It turns out that he was Salem Mazzaway. Apparently a legend mountain biker. I kept yelling at Josh Wilcox to "get that single speeder!" I guess everyone was doing the same and it got to be annoying after a while. Josh did beat him and came in third! Podium weekend for 503 Cycleworx!
Woke up this morning at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep so I figured I would upload some pictures on Facebook and do my blog. Now it's 5:13am and I'm debating on weather or not I should go for a run or keep writing.

I'll keep writing for now. So yes the Hartford Cross race went better then expected for me. My Mother-in-Laws Fiance Steve asked me (through Facebook) how I did it? And I would like to share what I told him.

James Harmon October 26 at 4:04am
Thanks Steve! How did I do it? I think there was a lot of factors that helped me to win.

#1 was all the training that I did during the past week. I've picked up running early in the morning for at least a half an hour and then I had 2 good days of riding over 2 hours.

#2 was that I rested well on Friday and Saturday so when I got on my bike Sunday morning I really felt like my legs were in good shape.

#3 was the course had a huge run up and since I had been running and doing practice run ups it really helped me to not "red line." I just ran up it at a comfortable pace while others around me were really huffing and puffing.

#4 was that there were some tricky sections that only mtbing can give you the skills to make it through. When I talked to the guy that got second place after the race he told me that every time I hopped over this log he had to dismount and run over it causing him to loose time and then he would have to push really hard to catch up.

Not that I'm pro or anything. Or that you could benefit from me telling you what I did the past week to help me win, but I think I did do some things right. I've been doing run ups in my training. Lot's of run ups. And I was hoping for all of the cross races to have a mighty run up. Hartford was the first real run up this season. And I was happy that all of my work had paid off.
The race started off in this wide parking area and narrowed to double lane pavement with a right 45 degree turn and onto the grass. I knew that I needed to get the whore shot so I wouldn't get tangled with anyone crashing on this corner. I was second onto the grass and passed him 5 seconds later. I was happy to be safe.

The first lap I was battling it out for position and was in 3rd. I was comfortably riding behind the leaders and then the leader went down on a pavement turn I assumed the lead and held that position for a while. Then I traded pulls with a few guys up to the run up and then back to the lead.
Ryan O'hara stepped it up and pulled in front of me for a bit. I barely beat him last weekend at Mansfield Hollow so I knew I couldn't drop a beat. He followed me the rest of the race. I would get a gap and then he would close it on the flat sections. Every lap was the same. I would look over my shoulder and see him turning the corner that I just went through.

The final lap rang out and I knew I had to stay on top and ware him down as much as I could before the slick steep slope of a run up. This was the final run up so I pushed it really hard. If I nailed the off camber grassy/muddy down hill I was home free. But as I was descending I ran into traffic from lapped riders. The ruttyness of the hill made it impossible to pass. You just had to pick a rut and stay in it. Isn't that ironic? I made it down without crashing and put the hammer down. Hopped the log and kept my speed up. A few more turns and I'm home free. Out onto the grass I was out of the saddle and trying to not give it all just in case Ryan had enough in him to catch me. On the last turn I clicked down a gear got out of the saddle and hammered home. I didn't see how far back Ryan was but I knew that I pulled it off. Sweet!
This weekend I'm planning to go over to NY to race at Tymor Park in NY. Cash prizes and close to home! That's what I'm talking about. I now have a few victims. Mckittrick is my nemesis. He's killing it in the Verge series. No way I could beat him at Northampton. He will be in the front row and I'll be starting in 60th place. I guess I'll have 2 days to try.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cyclocross is really hard, but fun

John Foley crushed the 2/3/4 class at Mansfield Hollow. You really can not see how ripped Foley is in this picture but if you check out the site I stole it from you will see how impressive John really is.
Hey Mom! That's me with the blue helmet.

Michel Mckittrick eats pieces of sod like me for breakfast and poops me out the back. I grabbed these photos off of this site.
Thanks Steve Yau for taking them. They look much more impressive over there.

I haven't updated my blog in quite a while. Mainly because I haven't had the time or energy to do so. Since I was sick I felt like I had been sucking and therefore wasn't very excited to tell every one how much I suck. I also have been enjoying reading every one else's blogs that that consumes my time.
Anyway, Providence was fun but hard to move up from starting all the way in the back row. I went from 90th to 28th with 100 guys in my field. I was really happy that my grandparents from CA came out to see me race. I haven't seen them for 18 years. It was good to catch up on things.
I raced at Mansfield Hollow and placed 5th in the Cat 2/3/4. My goal was to beat McKittrick , but I think he wanted to beat me and showed that he could on the first lap. After we went through the sand I dropped my chain and there he went. Cross is so unforgiving. I'm not giving an excuse, I'm sure he would have beaten me anyway. Great job Mike! I battled it out for 5th place with Ryan O'hara, one of Mike's team mates, and I was able to get him at the line. It was tough to keep up with him but by the final lap I was on his wheel and I thought we could get up to 4th if we tried harder. I was trying to encourage him by telling him we can catch 4th, but I guess I wound up using him to get me to the finish line. That's cross. It's all about the mind games.
John Foley got the win. I won some winter riding gloves and some cash. Great course. I really appreciate the people who put this race on. Mckittrick wrote a great report on the course and race. Check it out.
I loved the course so much that for $10 more I entered the pro race an hour later. I was feeling good and confident. Then I told Colin I was going to be racing with him and he was like, "you're going to regret it after you start." I was thinking man he might be right but I'm feeling good so maybe he's wrong. He was right!
He was so right that he would have lapped me if I didn't drop out at the bell lap. That was really hard to suffer for that long. But I kept telling myself to stick it out. I still had fun. Maybe I would do better if I didn't blow myself out and then race the fastest guys around. What I discovered though was that I haven't been pushing myself enough for my own race. I haven't felt so much pain and suffering during the pro race and it took every bit of strength to finish the race. I got lapped so I didn't finish but I was done. My track coach in 8th grade told me that when I'm heading for the finish line if I wasn't fully out of gas I didn't push myself enough. I'll try that next time and let you know if it worked.
It was good to see Rob Stine racing with gears like me. The course didn't suit mountain bikers too much like I had hoped but then again Foley won my race so there you go.
Next race Hartford Cross! I see that Ryan O'hara is signed up. I'm sure he wants a rematch.
By the way is really cool. Thanks Colin for making that site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blunt Park round 2

Once again Blunt park was a pleasure to race at. A small field of guys came out to brave the elements and mud. Much more slippery than when we raced here in August. So slippery that when I was warming up on the pavement I went down trying to turn around. I immediately went back to the car and lowered my air pressure from 45psi to 42. It made all the difference in the world. I had high hopes to ride everything but once I saw how slippery the conditions were I changed my mind and ran. In fact I ran quite well. I ran so well that I decided to keep running. Not the whole course but some of the tricky parts that were slimy.

After Landmine I got sick. I was out a full week of work with some kind of stomach thing. It gave me a chance to rest my heart, lungs, and legs though. So back on the bike at the beginning of this week was interesting. I felt really strong but I didn't want to overdo it so I took it easy. I rode Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday for around an hour on the cross bike in my back yard. Then I decided to see how running would go. Friday morning I got my ass out the door and ran. Man I was sore the next day, but I think it paid off. I felt good running during the race. I think I will try to get out more.

I didn't get lost getting to the race like last time so I arrived in plenty of time to go the bathroom. Whew. I got to warm up much better than last time and I got to take a lap right before the start. I knew it was going to be rough going with every section of the course being goo (except for the pavement). I got to the start line and the front line was full so I took the next row. There were about 30 guys, so roughly 4 rows. My last start here wasn't too pretty and I was stuck way in the back for the first half of the race. This start went much better. I knew that my best chance was to get the inside of the first corner and come out on top. We took off and when we hit the first corner I was right where I was supposed to be. Everything was perfect until some guy went down right in front of us. Crap! By the time the guy in front of me (who would later get 2nd) untangled his pedal from the crashed guy's spokes we were passed by at least 15 guys. Half the field. So that sucked.

But I kept cool and tried to keep my wheels on the ground. Every corner a controlled slide with extra slide just for fun. Guys were dropping like flies all around me. I got to see some really crazy crashes and was able to thread through the carnage. Luck was on my side today. The ruts were throwing everyone from side to side and some of them went right into trees or off course. I just kept plowing ahead and smashing it on the open sections so that I could take more time in the corners. Some corners I just ran because it was too slippery for me.

Somewhere around the middle of the race I passed some guys. One of them was Eric Carlson representing CT from Bikers edge. I kept thinking that there were other guys up ahead that were so far ahead that I couldn't see them. I hammered hoping to see someone. Another dude, Jeremy from Spooky bikes, was on my tail and I couldn't shake him. Later I found out that he was a cat 2 roadie and this was his 1st day of cyclocross racing (this was his 2nd race that day) and he was on a borrowed bike. He also won the 4 race that morning. I think if the course was drier and he didn't race that morning he would have won. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had just taken the lead.

So me and Jeremy were duking it out in the lead. I would try to hammer the open sections but he would stick to me. I didn't know how to drop him and I didn't want him to get ahead so he would think he could take me. Which he probably could have. 2 laps to go and he was keeping close. Luck was on my side. Again I hammered the open section and gave it all I had. Then I heard a crash and looked over my shoulder to see that he slid off course and hit a tree. Man was I bummed for him. I slowed down a little thinking that I was in the clear. Then I thought what if he recovers? I really want this win. So I hammered some more. Some how he recovered and was closing down on me again. Like I said he would have won if I wasn't so lucky today.

1 lap to go and I have got to make this stick. I just kept saying to myself to not crash and everything will be fine. So then I crashed. I was trying to unclip to run over one of the first logs and my foot got stuck in the pedal. I went face first into the brush. Crap Crap Crap! back up and running like a mad man. I just had one more log to go. Every lap I bunny hopped this log with some trouble because the take off was soft. I nailed it and was half way home. I got to the next twisty section and he was getting close. I gave it all I had and pushed it through the next sections. Running up and down the slippery hill and over the muddy barriers. Then I knew I had him for sure and just concentrated on keeping my bike upright. Sweet I made it! My first win of the year. And now I think I'm in the lead for points for the series!

I won $60 and I had some extra cash with me so on the way home I stopped at Benidorm bikes in Canton and picked up some new shorts. My last short from Mavic fell apart.
Congrats to Josh Wilcox from 503 Cycleworx for getting 2nd in the pro race at the Rumble in the Jungle. He also got 2nd the week before at another mtb race in NY. Man he's on fire now! This weekend we will be heading down to NJ to race at Ringwood Park. Since I've been sick this week again and have been in cross mode I will be racing the cat 1 age group. 1 less lap. The pros will have to do 32 miles and from the youtube video it looks like there is a lot of climbing.
I figured out all of the cross races I want to do this season.
Mansfield Hollow, CT 10/17
Hartford Cross, CT10/25
Wicked Creepy, VT 10/31
Tymor Park, NY11/1
Cheshire Cross, CT 11/21
Spooky Bikes #4 Acc for the cure 11/22
I don't know if there are any races between the 1st and 21 of November that are close. So we shall see.

I'm going to be in Falmouth MA visiting with my grandparents from CA who I haven't seen in 18 years. So I might try to do the Providence Verge race on the 11th. But if we come back early I might do a NY cross race on that day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Root 66 Landmine Race

Landmine is a 3 hour drive for me and from last year's experiences driving so far before and after a race doesn't make me happy. So on Saturday we went up to Hartford for a couples massage at Prossage Muscle Therapy and had brunch at Agave restaurant.

I was feeling very relaxed happy and the food was really good. It was a Mexican breakfast with shredded beef and eggs with hot green peppers and rice and beans.

Part of the plan to go up the day before is having to deal with Boston traffic and directions. Last year coming home from the race I took a wrong turn and wound up in downtown Boston. So this year I wrote down tons of directions and did pretty well. Maybe someday I will have a gps to get me to where I'm going.

The rain was getting me worried about the course but I figured there was nothing I could do about it. The course was going to be wet and the bridges were going to be slick. During the race there was lots of water sections. Water up to the hubs!

Since it was so wet out I pulled Selma in for the night and wiped her down.

All of this traveling, getting a massage, going out to eat, and staying at a hotel was quite a lot of stuff for one race. I'm glad it's not like that for all the races. It makes me really thankful to be in the heart of bike racing where the races are mostly close by. Don't get me wrong. I still had a good time. Sometimes it was more stress than relaxing and it cost a lot of money. And I'm not sure if it helped me perform better as I will tell you next.

The race was interesting. I think I will stop calling it a race now and just call it a ride. So the ride was interesting. I got to start next to the Golden Bike guy and from what I hear he finished strong. Looking at the results you wouldn't have guessed that I was having a bad day. I would have won the ss class. But I digress. Would've but didn't.

At the starting line it was very weird with the golden cheerleaders dissing me with their protruding belly buttons, doing negative cheers like "you're too slow, he's gonna leave you in the dust". I just felt embarrassed and awkward --it's nothing against them-- but it just seemed weird to have these cheerleaders telling us we're not going to be as good as the golden bike guy. I guess that's supposed to help the golden bike kid win. I just felt bad for the cheerleaders because they were stuck in front of all these guys who were just wondering what the hell they were doing there and maybe they felt really awkward and wondering why the hell they were there too. I suppose it's just for fun.

What would be REALLY COOL would be to have some like guy on a dirt bike getting us all suped up or something, revving his engine and doing wheelies and stuff. I was on the drumline in high school and we used to supe up the football players before the game by going into their locker room before the game and just pounding the shit out of the drums to get them all amped! Or... shirtless drunk guys with golden painted faces screaming at us like some kind of pre-battle viking war chant. At least it wouldn't be such a downer. Maybe the negative cheers worked and that's why I had a bad race!!

So off we go and I'm feeling special that my heavy gear could keep up on the super flat double track section. I stuck to the core group as we headed into the first single track and right behind Randall Jacobs. I figured this was good. I could see the group ahead slowly creeping away from us but I was comfortable and all. Greg "the leg" Montello was right with us and the first tricky climb section I was off the bike and running up the climb. That put the hurt on me for sure and needed to recover. But recovery was not going to happen. I failed once again to pick the "right"gear and was stuck with the wrong gear. If you don't know the feeling it's when you get on your bike and start to pedal but are stuck in too hard of a gear and you want to down shift but can't. Mentally it drove me nuts. I knew that the 34x18 would be hard but not as hard as it was. So I lost all of my "spunk" and slowly digressed into self pity and loss of feelings in my gut to race anymore.

But it wasn't until I hit a rock while pedaling and smashed my cheap ass crank brother pedal that I really lost the edge to keep pushing. I couldn't clip in very well and it was hit or miss. Once I was able to clip in it was hard to keep focused on the terrain and I felt that it was unsafe for me to keep riding at "race" pace. It really was a big fat excuse for me to just sit up and chalk it up to experience and knowing that everyone has a bad race sometimes.

But before all of that happened I was really going good with Colin. (One of the fastest cat 1's and super cross man around) It was really fun to ride with him. Very positive guy that didn't seem to be racing as much as riding really fast and having a lot of fun. I'm sure having a full suspension bike had nothing to do with it. He was kind enough to drag me around on the flat open paved sections with his gears. At one point I was totally spinning like a blender just to hold his wheel. Yes Colin gears would have been nice. Again I had a lot of fun riding with him and racing was not really happening for me. So eventually he left me behind and that was that. Great job Colin you are really killing it out there. I can't imagine what your cross season is going to be like.

So after the pedal strike I pulled off to check out the carnage and saw that the one of the bars was bent and the pedal had a lot of resistance. That's when Mike Rowell passed me and Greg passed me too. I was out. I picked up a rock and started to bang my pedal to see if it would get back into shape enough to feel confidently clipped in. Didn't budge.

Back on the bike again and a single speeder from Independent fab passed me and wanted me to follow him because he knew the course. Ya, that would have been great if I could. The guy was killing it. I could hear some other guys behind me and so I pulled off to let them pass. It was good old Rob Stine. I didn't even try to stick with him because this was his bread and butter. Rough is his middle name. Especially on a rigid 26" single speed. He breaks all of his bikes every other week so he's down to his last frame.

Then the 19-29 guys passed me and the 30-39 guys passed and somewhere the 40+ dudes with Jonny Bold in the lead passed as well.

Then I saw Kevin Sweeny. The look on his face I could tell he was not too happy. So I thought that I would ride with him and try to cheer him up. We rode a steady pace and I was able to stick with him for the last 10 miles. I was having a lot of fun just riding with someone. He was cleaning sections that were kinda hard to clean. And I was so impressed that I couldn't help but yell some encouragement. I hoped it helped. Thanks Kevin for letting me tag along. You helped me to stick it out whether you knew it or not.

Kevin and I caught up to Greg Montello and he was in the same boat as us. Like we all stepped on a Landmine. His back wheel was all wobbly from a broken spoke. I also had a broken spoke. Did I mention this course was rough? So Me, Kevin and Greg pushed it through to the end. I was second to last with a time of 2:19 min. Which was 10 mins faster then last year. But I did get a flat last year too.

How Kevin Hines won the pro class and the golden bike I will never know. He's going to be racing in the 50+ category next year. It makes me damn depressed thinking about how good he is but it also makes me think that maybe when I'm 48 years old I can whoop up on the 30-year-olds.

I kinda got choked up a bit because it was fun just to be able to ride with these guys and this was the last race of the year for the root 66 series. And if you thought I was going to drag myself to Mt Snow for the finals you're smoking crack.

I'll finish racing mountain bikes this year for the New York series. Then it's local cross races for me. I'm boycotting Verge series because I'm a big cry baby that doesn't have $500 to sign up for all of the races 2 months ahead of time at lunch time to get a good spot up front for a chance at placing. What's the deal?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Golden Bike

This weekend at Landmine who ever is the fastest cat 1 racer wins this bike or the marathon full suspension bike. There was several races that this bike has been through and a few different winners. So this guy is supposed to be better then the rest and now he's is flying in from Wisconsin to defend his title/bike. Looking at his results from past races would not seem too impressive. I'm not saying I could beat him. He's got a coach and all that jazz. The big question is who will beat him at Landmine?

Well I think Kevin can. His last race at Norcross didn't go so well so that means he's going to totally redeem himself at Landmine. His results at Hodges Dam in the pro open class reveled what he can do.

Remember too that Jonny Bold and Kevin Hines are also cat 1's! Landmine is in there back yard. If they show up.

There are others who I shall not mention here just so that I don't jinx them. They did very well last year at Landmine. My time last year was 2:38 with a flat. Rob Stine came in first with an excellent time of 2:21. This course is well suited for his talents.

Colin will be back from his Kiwi vacation ready to kill it on his full suspension bike. Timothy Daigneault also had a mean time last year.

Who knows? All I know is that I just jinxed every one I mentioned on this page. Ha Ha!
See you Sunday and may the best cat 1 win the Golden Bike!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

909 New York Series, Gears for the future?

Sorry no pictures because I forgot to charge the batteries.
Awesome job to they guys that put on this race. The course was beautiful and well marked. Tim and Jim from Eastern promotions are great guys and do a fabulous job. Bike Way also was there to make the race awesome.

This was the same course as the 12 hour race that I did a few months ago. I used a 34x20 for gearing. At the 12 hour race I had a 21 on. So I thought that it would go 1 tooth better. I should have put a 19 on for this race. There are some hills but they are short. Brian Kelly won the single speed class with a 32x20. So I don't know what would be better. No matter how you slice it riding against guys with gears is hard to deal with when they blow past you on the down hills.

Before I get any further I got 5th place! Josh Wilcox came in 4 minutes ahead of me! Then Seamus Powell for 3rd and the Alesio twins from the fuji team came in 1 and 2. I was glad we stuck around for the awards because they went 5 deep and I won $60. We were comparing the times of the cat 1's and if we raced the 30-39 Josh would have won and I would have come in second. Greg Wagner crashed in front of me and flatted and another guy that was up ahead of me flatted so that could have cost us something.

Seamus was having some technical difficulties with his saddle and had to stop a number of times. He was there at the end with the brothers but just "spent too many matches" for the win. He was on a superfly 29'er. The Mancuso bros were also on 29'ers.

I was trying my best to keep up with Josh. On the first lap I caught him on the first climb but when we started to descend he blew past me with his gears with Seamus right behind him. I could only hope that I would continue to climb strong to make up time. Every climb I was turning myself inside out to close the gap. I could see Josh on the course and would count the seconds to were I saw him last. 25 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then I lost track of my counting and knew he was over a minute ahead. Crap.

Then it was no mans land the rest of the race and it was getting really hard to keep the high tempo up. But I kept hoping that I would catch someone. Finally someone came up from behind me and was railing the downhill on a full suspension bike. He blew by me like I was standing still. It really wasn't that I was sketched out it was that I was under geared. But nailed the gearing for the climbs. Well I did catch this guy towards the end and not knowing he wasn't in my class I pulled up behind him and sucked off his wheel. then when the finish was in sight I blew past him to the finish. Turns out he was in the 40+ group. So he beat my time by 3 minutes any way.

This race course was really fun. Super fast and dry with some roots and rocks to make it interesting. Lot's of twisty turnies and some super drops that made me pucker up. The climbing wasn't too bad. There was only 3 climbs and they were spread out. In between the climbs was the super fast single and double track that if I had some gears I would have flown down. But I was stuck with my 20 tooth.

This lead to a conversation on the way home with Josh. I could turn my single speed Selma into a geared bike if I want to. If I'm going to race with the pros from now on I might consider it. I know it's a "Monte" moment for me. He tried it but it didn't seem to work for him. But he also can hang and beat those guys that won today with only one gear. So is it me or is it the bike? I ride with gears on the road and for cyclocross because I can't keep the speed up with out gears. Is it true with mountain biking? I don't know. On this course I was having a lot of fun just getting out of the saddle and not caring what gear I was in because it didn't matter, until I was spun out and felt super slow motion.

We also talked about suspension. My hands really were hurting (more then usual) during this race. I think it was the speed of the race due to the dry conditions. Everything was more of an impact on my body from going faster. I just wonder what would happen if I level the playing field again. Upgrading to the 29'er was the best thing I've done. Every body is going that route. Are gears in the future? I don't know.

This leads to another point. Is it all about winning? I don't know. Is it? Winning is great. The first race I won was at Channel 3 for the sport single speed class 3 years ago. I was so happy that it made me cry. I won, I won, I won!

I think it's more of the feeling of it being unfair if I lose because I only have one gear and no suspension. But on the other hand I "win" against guys with gears and full suspension. And with that I get a feeling of accomplishment.

But, riding with a single speed can be more efficient because I sometimes spin at a higher cadence and that helps me to last longer by pacing my self. I think for the longer distance races ss is ideal because you can pace yourself over the whole race. If I have gears I might try to power the big gears on the flats and down hills but granny the climbs witch is essentually the opposite of single speeding.

Then there is the whole individuality thing. If I race with gears and suspension then I blend in. No one seems impressed any more. No one says "Check out the dude with the gears!" But impressing by standards doesn't really help me win races. Or does it? You tell me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blunt park 3/4 race and a clean slate

Sunday I raced cyclocross for the first time this season at Blunt park in Mass. Sunday morning I was frantically trying to get my Internet to work so I could get to the race. I left my house without directions and dropped Jesse off at her sisters house to babysit. I decided to run up stairs to use her computer but she went out for a minute but left the door ajar. So naturally we went in and opened her laptop but was blocked by her security password. Darn! Now I'm really late and so I decided to have Jesse give me directions over the phone when I got close. So I'm driving around totally lost with Jesse giving me directions. Finally she points me in the right direction and I find the rear entrance to the park.

I run over to get my number strip my jersey off in front of every one and try to pin my number to my jersey . (I just thought of a good idea. How about a plastic sleeve that you can just shove the number in) Anyway, so I start to warm up and get about 5 minutes in and see that everyone is lined up and the judge is giving everyone the rules etc. So I line up in the last row. There were 62 guys lined up and I'm in the last row. Not good. Alot of this course is single track. I knew my only chance was to get the hole shot. Ya right. Well at least to get the inside of the track just before the 180 degree turn.

I was racing against some really good riders but I felt like I was just a hair faster so I would get around them on the open sections. I think what happened was that I was holding back for the last 2 laps and then I was able to go all out while the other riders were fading. I was feeling good and Nay and Jen were cheering me on on the final stretch. Afterwards I went to my car and was thinking about leaving but I wanted to stay for Jen's race. So just for kicks I thought I would check out the results. I figured I was in the top 15. Somehow I pulled off 3rd and won some cash!

Since my Internet decided to stop working things got progressively worse. I tried to fix it but got no where and so Jesse took over. LSS Jesse "formatted" the hard drive. Which means every program, every document, every picture, everything was gone. Just like that.

At the beginning of the year I started a spread sheet to document my rides and races. I had the date the miles and the time spent riding my bike. I figured someday writing all of this information down would make me faster, right? Probably not. So I wasn't too bummed when it was gone. It feels like I have a clean slate now. Which coincides with my week off this week. Luckily, I wrote down my hours per week a few days before this happened. Don't laugh at the amount please. I try to get out as much as I can.

Since January I've done 227 hours and 40 minutes of riding. That's it? Yep. I averaged almost 7 hours per week of riding.

I do feel a little jaded towards my computer now. Why should I waste my time uploading, typing, fixing mistakes, or trying to make things work. It's such a waste of time. At least I have my blog and face book. They never let me down or waste my time. Right?

It got me thinking about why I blog about stuff. I get excited to tell someone what just happened to me. I can't help it. I'm always telling someone what happened to me and when they tell me what happened to them I look into the distance and remember what just happened to me. Just kidding. I love seeing what happens to other people too. I have a list of blogs that I read just for fun. I like the non-fiction type of stuff.

I had to skip Palmer and Norcross to go to a wedding. I'll be at Winding Trails today at a Family reunion laying it down on the cross bike.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Darkhorse 40 race report

Crossing the finish line in 4th place never felt so good.When Scott took this picture he was like "this didn't turn out too good" I was like "ya, probably because I just raced 40 miles in 90 degree heat."
Right to left #1 Sean Smith, #2 Thom Parsons #3 Nathan Kraxberger#4 me#5 Brian Kelly

As you can see I didn't win. But I sure had fun trying. When I got a flat at mile 4 I wasn't really that pissed. I tried to seal up the puncture with the amazing Stan's sealant and it didn't work. Then I shot 1 of 2 co2's into the tire and it just blew the sealant out the hole. I guess the stuff was old and I don't know how long it had been sitting around before I bought it from the "let's make a deal" bin. So learn from me. Always put fresh Stan's sealant in your tires every month or 6 weeks which ever comes first. ha ha Finally, I put my spare tube in and used my last co2.

I figured out a trick while I was out there. As soon as I realized that I was going to have to tube it I flipped Selma on her back and unseated one side of the tire from the bead. Luckily I had one of those valve stems that have a rubber grommet that screws on instead of having to take the whole tire and rim strip off. The valve stem was easy to remove and store in the jersey. I pulled the wheel off for a second to put the tube on the inside of the fork then I cinched the quick release back on. This way made a good stationary working position. Popped the tube in and pinched the Ignitor tire around the rim, and filled it with the co2, and I was done.

When I was fixing the flat it was really nice for everyone that knew me to check on me and encouraged me to keep going. Thanks guys that really meant a lot to me. Wouldn't it have been nice to just get handed a wheel with your size tire and air pressure?

I wasn't the only one with a flat. Josh Wilcox flatted, Colin flatted, Single speed Gerry flatted. Tons of people flatted. Thom P lost some air but it sealed. Oh ya, and my rear tire burped twice and I was left with about 10 psi for the last lap. I was praying for sure that it would hold because I didn't want to get almost to the end and have to run to the finish like I did at channel 3 last year.

I figured about 5 mins for trying to seal the tire and changing the flat. So if you knock off 5 minutes of my time I would have gotten 2nd. Except T-Pain would have schooled me at the finish and I would roll in 3rd.

However, flatting might have saved me from blowing up entirely. What I mean is that with the heat and humidity being over 90 degrees it was easy to go too hard before you had to recover. By the time I fixed the flat I was stuck all the way back to the 50+ crowd. So I would catch guys and have to slow down to pass because of the single track. Everyone was good about me passing but sometimes there wasn't an option to pass. Like on a rideable climb with no where to pass going insanely slow I just kept reminding myself that I was conserving energy for the last lap. Once I was into lapped traffic it got worse. At one point I remember seeing a cluster of riders walking up all of the lines of a short punchy climb. I got so frustrated that I cut into the woods and made my own line past everyone. I'm sure I wasn't the only one that had to deal with lapped traffic.

The real winner of the day was Scott Feltmate from Bethel Cycles. He was handing water bottles to 10 riders including me. Every lap he was totally pro and handed me 2 bottles and a word of encouragement. Great job Scott! I owe you one! Without him I might have not have placed 4th.
He also took the shots above.
The new bike rack works really nice.

Successfull trip to NY in the Focus.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Darkhorse 40

Nathan Kraxberger is signed up for the 40. Who is Nathan Kraxberger, besides his last name making me hungry? Well he's an ultra endurance single speed racer. He's my Gerry Pflug to Rich Dillen. (Gerry Pflug has won just about every 100 mile mountain bike race this year.) Nathan placed 5th for single speed and 26th overall for the Wilderness 101. Just 20 minutes behind Gerry. Yep. Nathan Kraxberger. Hey, I thought taking the single speed class would be easy. Nope. Especially if Parsons decides to join our class. And he should. The clash of the titans.
Then there is Adam Szxzepanski. As far as I can tell he is a master at cross. Racing in the pro cat 1 and did well.

Sean Smith who also did the Wilderness 101 came in 24th in single speed and 86th overall. And Finally Roger Foco who took 3rd at single speed a palozza this year. Oh, ya and he won the single speed class last year for the 40. Here are the results from last year.

I wonder if Monte will be on his single speed in the pro class? And where in the world is Sean Cavanaugh? I know he's got twins now, but should be ruling by now with some rest under his belt.

Well it's going to be tough. Really tough. I didn't do the wilderness 101 or any other endurance even that would put me in a better position. Oh wait. I did do the 12 hours at 909. But that took me 11hours and 30 mins to do 95 miles or so. Kraxberger did the 101 in 8 hours and 29 min!

The only thing I can hope for is that Kraxberger and Smith will not be fully recovered from the 101 and I will be recovered from the 909 race. It will be 3 weeks since the 909 race for me and I'm just now coming around. So I will have been recovered 4 weeks before the 40 and they will be only on their 2nd week. (Que the evil laughter) Ha Ha Ha.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Car and the 40

We checked out this Ford Focus on Tuesday and liked it. So next week sometime we will be sporting around Ford style. I never thought I would own a Ford. You know because of the whole "Found On Road Dead" thing. What was the other one? Fix... something something Daily? Well that's got me knocking on wood. I hope it will be a trouble free car.

I also think I will be getting this snazzy bike rack. Hopefully my bike won't be haunted by the ghost freeride bikes. Or that my little car won't feel like it should be more like a Jeep Cherokee. No more fighting to get the bike in the back or the stinky mess. Plus it will be more aero for gas mileage and it folds down. But the new car has 4 doors so I don't think I will have to access the trunk too much with the bikes on.

I thought I would be doing the Hampshire 100 on the 16th but because of the entry fee ($115) and the drive (3+ hours) I decided that the Dark Horse 40 will be my race. The guys down there know how to put on a race and personally invited me to race. Plus if I win the single speed class I would get $200! This is exactly what I've been talking about. The big pay off. If only all races could be done like the guys from Dark Horse Cycles.

Oh ya and if I am the fastest single speeder out there they will give me a new Niner fork of my color choice.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hodges Dam and FTS!

I think I left my legs at the 12 hours of 909. I haven't been the same. The last 2 weeks has been a struggle to recover and I'm still wondering when I'm going to feel the benifit of killing myself for 11 hours of mtbing. Hodges Dam race was an experiment race since I had nothing to lose. I chose to get all "Monte/Parsons" and put a stupid gear on. Rob Stine had the same gear inch as me. I ran a 34x17 and he ran a 36x16! The difference is in the wheels. 29 vs. 26. I feel bad for Stine because he had a flat tire. He's been having a rough season with mechanicals. Sounds like last year for me. I came in 11th out of 20.

I was 1 tooth overgeared I think. I could still climb a lot of the course but I just couldn't get it going. I got to ride with the superb Todd Wheelden for a couple of laps and then he saw my weakness and hammered on the flat fireroads. I saw him click through the gears and pedal slower and pull away. I thought I had a monster gear but I guess I could have used something more for the flats, which this course had lots of. The truth is I suck on the flats even on the road bike. I think I do much better on the hills. I don't know why. Todd and I when back and forth and we were hammering it for the 2nd and 3rd laps. I thought for sure we would catch someone. But it wasn't enough. I don't know how to ride any faster.

Congrats to Kevin Sweeney. If you read his blog you will see how wet the course was. I didn't mind the course but I was swearing a bit on the first lap. But after that I didn't really care anymore. June and July we have had the most rain ever recorded for the last 200 years! I've learned how to ride in the slop much better this year.

And now FTS!

During the race I was having some doubts. "I have doubts!" (From the movie Doubt) Great scene! So I was having some doubts that I would become even grass root sponsored by some big company. I was planning on trying to upgrade to "Pro" for next year because 2 seasons ago I was in sport then last year I upgraded to Expert and currently Cat 1. So it just makes sense that I would upgrade to "Pro" for next year.

I've been racing the Pro/Cat 1 open class all season. I did win $100 down in PA for 6th place but that was my best performance of the year. You don't get nothin' for 6th place in the pro class for RT66. This has left a bad taste in my mouth. What the F am I doing in the Pro/Cat 1 open class? If I raced the Cat 1 30-39 age group I would be on the podium every time and taking home some swag or green.

I thought my new bike would make me faster, and it is, I think, but it hasn't really propelled me to the top. I'm still placing somewhere in the middle of the pack. It seems like the top few guys that go to all of the races are really the only ones racing each other in the pro class. All that the cat 1s do is fill up the starting line and maybe get a hole shot, but that's about it. Bye bye birdy.

So would I be sandbagging if I returned to the cat 1 30-39? I don't think so. Hodges dam was a good example that there are still some fast Cat 1 racers out there. Kevin Sweeney would have crushed the 30-39 field. Instead he got 6th place at a pro open. My question would be this, Where are you going? Do you want to get a coach and "Train?" Do you want to ride 15 hours a week? I can barely recover from the racing to get any time in on the bike. Right now I don't even want to ride.
I finally ordered some shoes. These look good and they're full carbon. My last shoes just had velcro straps and they worked great. I think they will be nice and light.

I'm going to look at this Ford today to replace the Subaru. Its a Ford Focus ZX5 with 75,000 miles. It sounds like it will be a great little car that gets good gas mileage.

Up next I think I might try to do the Hampshire 100 on the 16th. It's a steep entrance fee of $115, but it sounds like a good time. I think I might enter the single speed catagory because of all the flat sections.

Monday, July 20, 2009

12 hours of 909

Laps/Time/Mins per lap

The times shown are with breaks. The first 5 laps I didn't rest much but after that I was stopping after every lap to eat something. I was searching for the results and found that Heather Rizzi from Team GT blogged about the race and said that the laps were almost 9 miles long and 900 ft of climbing per lap. So if I went 11 laps then I did almost 99 miles and 9,900ft of climbing. That's a lot of 9's. Can I just call it 100 miles and 10,000ft of climbing? Thank you that's much better. I can't find the results yet but I think I did the most laps for solo and matched laps with some teams.

The top men soloists were on single speeds! I think single speed is the way to go for long events like this because as long as you don't pick a monster gear you save yourself throughout the race. Monte did a great job trying to reel in his team with killer lap times, but unfortunately his new found gears might have got the better of him and cut his race short. I'm sure racing every weekend since February and not resting much has a lot to do with it too. Get some rest Monte and you'll be killing it again soon. I think my 34x21 was just right for this longer race. If I come back for a short race I would use a 19 or 20.

The course was really amazing! There was only a few sections that were muddy despite the 2 inches of rain the night before. The worst of it came as a freshly bulldozed logging road that had most of the climbing for the race. The tires just got stuck and slopped mud over the brakes and gear(s). But once that was over you got to go through 40 feet of standing water that washed the mud from the tires and then my bike would feel lighter again. Then it was down hill swoopy awesomeness that was wicked fun! The rest of the lap was all like that with a few short climbs that were not too hard but towards the end of the race I was walking up.

I thought my back would kill me or my butt, but they didn't. My hands started to hurt a lot and get those blisters under the callus but then I switched to my old fox gloves that had some padding in them and they worked perfect. I wish they still made those. That WTB rocket v saddle worked really well. I kept the tire pressure around 23 and that helped too. I'm still not too happy with the lack of clearance the rear tire gets. Rocks were getting lodged between the tire and frame and grinding. Not cool. I also found out the next day that I broke a spoke on the rear wheel.

11 and a half hours of riding with mud

Thank you all for cheering for me and wishing me good luck. I had a lot of motivation thinking about you during the race.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pat's Peak

The race was good and I surprised myself with getting 8th overall in the Pro/Cat 1. As I was warming up for the race I felt like I just couldn't get it in gear. Funny because I only have one gear. Not funny because the start was watching everyone pass me up hill clicking through their gears. Then we get to the flat section by the pond and there is like 20 guys ahead of me just floating away from me while I make a half assed attempt at spinning very fast. Then the first tricky section (with the pallets) hit and I took the wrong line while my team mate Josh was telling me which line to take. I wasn't paying much attention and later as he was telling me the story about how I took some funked up line that took me off the bike I would respond with "I don't remember." Well the next 4 laps I would take the right line (actually it would be the left line) and everything was fine.

Everything was fine. We all got to the bottom of the first climb and I could see everyone. Cool, I wasn't out of the race yet. Colin and I dueled a little bit on the first or second lap. We would hit a hill and I was ahead and then he would pass me with his mad skills on the down hill. It was fun to watch him go so fast down some rough terrain and right then I was wishing for a full suspension bike. My 34x23 was not helping me on the flats or down hills but it sure saved me to go 5 laps up a ski slope. I think I could have gotten away with a 22 but I didn't have one at home. I've got to remember to order one.

It was fun riding with Colin and Kevin. Even thought they might not sound like they had any fun in there blogs they really were having fun. I think. Well it seemed like they were having fun. I'm sure it wasn't fun going over the handlebars but hey no one got hurt. Too bad.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. Here is my view about the conditions of the course and all that jazz.

I'm not just saying this to be the devil's advocate but I liked the course. Maybe it's because I raced it last year when the conditions were much better and that's when I fell in love with the course. This year with the radar full of red and green the night before the race and with all the 24 hour riders (God bless them) out on the course turned some sections into a muddy yucky mess. But it's not like we haven't ridden through mud before. This whole year has been shit for weather and mud is the name of the game. Yes I will admit that my heart sunk when I came across the palleted section and saw 4 inches of slop. But actually the conditions got better as the race went on. Things dried out a bit on some sections and overall it wasn't too bad.

To me the open ski slope sections were nice because you could see who was ahead of you and it gave me hope that I could catch a few guys before it was over. Maybe it was the gear that I had that kept me from red lining the climbs and I didn't overheat too much.

As far as going off course I remembered all of the turns from last year and didn't have a problem. I loved the guy at the top of the course with the ramp. Every time I went off that thing I laughed and it was fun. It kept me in a good mood though the race.

At the start of the race when we were asked if we wanted to do 4 or 5 laps I really wanted to do 4. I'm sure Andrew Freye wanted to do 4 also. It's amazing that he won the 6 hour race with 11 laps and then race the pro race the next day and get 2nd! That dude is Amazing! 5 was the number and I'm happy it was because I was able to wait it out and pass some guys on the last lap. Sorry Josh.

So overall I enjoyed the course very much. I can tell you which course I won't be enjoying if I even go. Mt. Snow. I have a feeling I will go, but I'm threatening to not go if there is any rain a week ahead of the race. So I'm pretty much not going. We'll see. I raced that course 3 or 4 times over the last 2 seasons and the only time I had fun on that course was the day before Nationals last year. I liked the changes they did because of all the bitching on the Root 66 bitch board. (I miss the old rt 66 message board, don't you?) So the course was somewhat rideable. And I didn't scream like a girl when the down hill rooty craziness was dry. Then it had to dump rain overnight and messed things up. Let's just all pray to the Cycling god that there will be no rain this year. Please!

My new bike, the Salsa Selma single speed, is doing very well. I'm loving the traction and handling of the small frame and big wheels. I like my new tire, the Hutchinson Python, on the rear. I've discovered that if you lower the tire pressure to 23 it grips anything. Even though I'm fully rigid I think I can still go faster with the bigger wheels. However, I don't like when the mud sticks to the tires and my bike instantly becomes a tank. Dry conditions are a plus for this bike.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

PA trip, The Long Pine Classic

I had a really nice time going to PA to visit our friends Julie and Tim with their 5 kids. It turned out to be an all bike weekend! As soon as we got there Friday night they wanted to ride bikes and on Saturday Luke and Bethany took me on an epic ride up Kings Gap. Luke is now hooked on bikes and wants to ride for a living. They all came to watch me race on Sunday and on the way home Luke said," everywhere I go I see bikes now." That's when you know your hooked. It was all he could talk about.

Friday night I pumped up tires and straighten wheels. I tried to fix little Joel's tricycle but it was missing a pedal.
That didn't slow him down he just pushed his bike up the hill. Total single speeder in the making.Luke with the full moon behind him. Bethany looks really cool in this shot. That was a magical night. There were firefly's out in full force and a really sweet sunset. It seemed like a dream.Bethany and Luke at the top of Kings Gap.
It was Bethany's idea to ride from their house to Kings Gap on Saturday after breakfast. It turned out to be an epic 2 hour ride. These kids are only 8 and 10 and they were on bmx bikes. I had no idea what Kings Gap was but it sounded cool. 4 miles of climbing later and we were at the top. We had to stop a few times and at one point Luke said he felt like turning around but then said "I'm not a quitter!" They did awesome! 12 miles all together. It was the longest they had ever ridden and they were really proud of themselves. I was really proud of them too.

Here's a little video of them going down from King's

On the Fourth we headed over to Julies Aunts house near Lancaster and had a picnic, played Frisbee, and the kids played with sparklers. Afterward we watched some serious fireworks.On Sunday I drove down 233 for 45 minutes through Michaux State Forest and arrived at the Chambersburg Reservoir. Julie and Tim live on a farm surrounded by corn and soybean fields with only a few trees along the roads and houses. But if you drive just a little bit south your in the mountains of pine trees. Michaux is a really beautiful area and I hope to get back there to explore some more trails.

The start of the race was weird. They did a "neutral" start by having a dirt bike pace us down the dirt road for a mile and then turn off before the single track. I don't know if this was good or bad, but I was getting passed by every geared rider in my class and the expert class. So basically it was a plan to screw all of the single speeders. We finally got to a hill and I could pass a few people before the single track but I was DFL!

One thing that was good was that the conditions were dry and fast. I was really happy I put my new 2.1 Hutchinson Python on the rear. I could really feel the difference in less rolling resistance. I ran 25lbs of air in the back and I think it was perfect for the dry conditions. I was slipping on some wet rocks for one little short wet section but I think if I lowered the pressure it would be fine.

So into the single track and I'm behind guys that were crashing left and right so I start to make moves and work my way up. I would get behind someone and ride their wheel for a while and then an amazing thing happened. I decided to just ask the guys if I could pass them. And they pulled over for me. How nice was that. I must have asked 3 or 4 guys if I could pass and they were like "Okay" and pulled off. Weird. Not what I'm used to.

The single track was amazing stuff. Not too twisty but plenty of curves and rocky sections. Really fun and fast stuff. I don't think some of these guys were used to going over logs too much and were getting off their bikes or crashing right in front of me. I wound up falling off my bike over a rocky section and scratched the Selma up a little and gave myself a nice bruise under my left calf muscle.

So finally we get dumped onto a fire road and I see the lead group. ( I think) I smashed like hell to catch up to them and managed to hang onto the Bike Doctor Jed Prentice's wheel. At this point we get onto a flat fire road and I draft off of him spinning like mad. I think he might have been a little annoyed and pulled over. So I pushed really hard to get to the next single track section. Jed got in front of me just before the single track and for the next few miles he would take me on a really fast ride. He's on a full suspension bike and I just stuck to his tire through every curve and drop. I was having some real fun now and encouraged him to go faster. We were rippin' it. We both made up a lot of time thanks to him. Thanks Jed if you are reading this.

We were still together all the way to the bottom of the course. Then all of a sudden he was clicking through the gears in panic mode. Down shifting. My self only having one gear I was able to pass on the right up the first short climb. And then I saw it.

Click here to get a better view of the miles and elevation gained.

Looking back I think Jed must have ridden this course before and maybe he was sketched out knowing what kind of pain must lie ahead. I just was out of the saddle trying to gain some ground between us. I don't think I have ever climbed anything like this. IT just kept going up and up and up. We would turn a little and more up. This was like going straight up the mountain. I don't remember for sure but I think I climbed all of the first climb. I knew that I had 2 more giants to go. The down hill after the first climb was super sick. Lots of turns and fast. Then it felt like you hit the bottom of a well and up you go.

At this point I wasn't even trying to climb. This was steep! So off the bike and I'm walking as fast as I could go. Up ahead I see some guys carrying their bikes. With or without gears (even granny) you were off the bike. Then I would hop on the bike to ride a short section and then hop off again. Once I was on top I got screwed again. (see chart, after second climb) A single speeds nightmare. Flat or slightly down hill perfectly smooth dirt road for what seemed like a mile. I think I was willing to sell my soul for gears at this point. All that hard work on the climbs just to be caught on the easy dirt section. But Cycling God must have heard my prayers and I made it to the top of the down hill without anyone catching up.

The third and final major climb was not so bad. At some point it dumped us out onto a dirt road climb and then I just annihilated myself! Out of the saddle and smashing it! I had the Bike Doctor again to thank because it gave me a vision to defeat the Doctor. I must beat the Dr. The stinking rich Dr. Up and more up. I thought it would never end. But it did. Right onto more flat or down hill dirt road that would make you cry to see how slow I was going. I'm tucked right up with my hands together at the stem and pedaling like I'm mashing potatoes. Slight down hill and it was pedal, pedal, pedal, tuck, pedal, pedal, pedal, tuck. How many minutes wasted?

Finally I turn off and I know the end is near. My camel back is out and my bottle in the cage is dry. One big loop and no feed zones. I think I like that. ? I don't know. Anyway, I'm trying to bomb this down hill and it's all loose rock and logs going across the trail. Full suspension would really have been nice. Down onto some single track and I'm giving it all I've got. Pounding my way through the twists and turns and thanking my bike for being so awesome! Out onto another dirt road and I'm tucking and spinning. I get to see Jesse and Julies kids cheer me on as I turn onto the final single track. I smash it up a short hill forcing myself to push with all I had left and I crest the hill to see a rider. Hey! I can catch that guy! So off I'm flying and up the next short climb and I've almost got him.

What are those people standing there for? Why is he stopping and why is the guy taking off his tag. Is this the end? Yep. The end. Weird. No finish line just the end. So I came in 6th place in the Elite group and was the fastest single speeder of the day! I won $105 too. I can't find the results yet but I will post them as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading my blog.