Monday, June 1, 2009


Kombucha tea, homemade brew

This was a fantastic race put on by the darkhorse cycles guys in Stewart State Forest, NY. I was super impressed with the promoters as they invited all of us ding-dongs to get together for one huge single speed race. Sooner or later someone would "Git 'Er Done" and I'm happy that they did-r. The course was marked perfect including laminated signs of encouragement along the trail saying things like "Got Toast"? Or "who needs gears?"

The results are up. I got 5th and Josh crushed it for 4th. 503 Cycleworx represented!
Back up a few days to Friday and I was on the couch with some kind of stomach bug. Didn't eat dinner and just slept. I tossed and turned all night and then ate a little bit for breakfast and went right back to bed. Woke up on Saturday at 2pm. Still felt like crap and was really getting bummed that I was going to miss the one race I was really looking forward to. I rode for 1/2 an hour with my 2:1 gear on the surly and felt really crappy. I could barely push the pedals over. My replacement rear wheel was feeling sluggish and I don't know if it was the frame or the wheel flexing but I couldn't get the rotor from brushing against the brake pads. On top of that my bottom bracket was chirping pretty good. So my bike was not really encouraging me to do well. Telling me things like "you suck.. you suck." I'm really looking forward to getting my new bike soon.
Sunday morning came around and it was now or never. Feeling okay I got ready to go and met Josh at the bike shop. Thankfully he brought the directions and knew all the back roads to get there. I wonder if he got the directions because we got lost coming back from Landmine last year and wound up going through Boston, costing us an hour of travel time? The trip out there was uneventful. Josh only got 3 hours of sleep the night before and was yawning the whole way.
Thankfully when I got on my bike to ride a little my legs felt good. Pre-rode the first climb section called "Major Mike" with Charlie Beal and Josh and was happy with my gear choice of 2 to 1. Charlie was pushing it hard up the climb (Josh noticed too) and I needed to rest. He ran the same gear inch as me (52). He told me he based that on my results at Farmington, and if it didn't work it would be my fault. Just kidding. I wasn't sure but I don't think it worked for him since he said that he would go one tooth harder next year. Whoops. I guess I like to spin 200 rpms. It seemed like 2:1 was the gear of choice for 29'ers except for Monte who ran a "little better than 2:1" Acording to my calculations he was running a 61.6 gear inch! I was running a 52. So for every pedal stroke he was going almost 10 inches further then me! No wonder he beat me by 10 mins!

This was just before the single track section. I was trying to wave Jesse past me because I didn't mean to cut him off and I knew he would not be happy behind me. He did get around before the single track.

The start was a way down from the actual course so that riders could get sorted out before the single track. Knowing we had almost 50 fast dudes in our class I got down to the start early and pegged my self at the starting line with Sean C , Monte, Roger Foco, and Rob Stine. We got off to a fast uphill start and once we crested the hill Monte looks back and sprints chirping his tires as he punches it into "4th gear." Thankfully I was able to draft off of Sean and stay with the top guys. After the initial climb Monte, Roger, and Jesse are drifting away up ahead down the hill. I almost lose it into a tree and regain my head for a second. Damn these guys are fast! When things flatten out a bit Josh pulls ahead and sets his sights on Foco. I try to keep up and then a short down hill section gives them the gap and that was the last time I saw them. Now Sean and another Cannondale guy are right with me then passing me. I follow and then they pull away. I start to wonder if I will ever catch them again and then I would rally on the flat sections and catch them by the second lap (which is weird because they were running a bigger gear so you would think that I wouldn't be able to catch them on the flats). Once we got to Major Mike again I made my move that would seal my 5th place finish. I had a second blast of energy and pegged it down the hill and made my second lap faster than the first.
I came up on Thom Parsons ,who was having some tire trouble, passed him and then he caught back up. I tried to keep on his wheel and he just floated away. Then I caught him again hanging his bike up in a tree to work on it. Some how knowing that Thom could come up behind me again gave me some extra motivation to keep punching it as hard as I could. Too bad Thom had to change his tire. I know he would have been top 3 for sure. I knew Sean was behind me now too and this was his turf. He knew every corner and burm. Sean was really tough to beat and he was still feeling the effects of being sick last week. He'll get me next time for sure.

Mile 17 and I was out of water. I only had 1 and 1/2 bottles of water at this point and really could have used another 1/2 at least. The feed zone was a little bit confusing and I didn't know where to put my bottles. So after the 5th mile I picked up a full bottle and used that for the rest of the race. Like a jerk I forgot Rob Stine's water bottles that I collected for him at Coyote Hill. He was able to get some water bottles to use. Sorry again Rob. I've got the whole bag of them for next time I see you.

Josh placed 4th for his single speed debut race! I knew he would do awesome! He can suffer a lot so single speeding is perfect for him. I'm crossing my fingers that he will be racing more with his single speed. Maybe even a new bike might be in the works for him? He rocked out his Specialized with a chain tensioner and V-brakes. After the race he told me that that was the most fun he has had on a bike in a long time! He loved the course because it reminded him of racing motocross. Ya, he's a sick motocrosser. I've learned so much from riding with him and love to follow him on the single track and watch him catch huge air off of stuff. I wish I had some video to show everyone how sick he really is. Of course he won't do any of that stuff during a race. I'm really lucky to be able to ride all the time with him, and he's the best mechanic I've ever known. He knows every trick in the book. If you need your bike fixed or need to build up a new bike I would take it to him. He's the best! He's saved my ass so many times with bike issues and is super generous with taking the time to figure out what's wrong with your bike, but will get your bike to you fast. He's an Indi Fab dealer and gets new builds all the time.
This was a really important race for me. I was handed $100 for placing 5th! The guys at Darkhorse are really generous and I hope that other promoters can afford to do the same. It really makes you feel good and want to do more racing. A lot of guys could have won 5th. The time difference wasn't ridiculous. A bobble or a crash or flat and that would have it. I'm overwhelmed with the caliber of people who are racing single speed bikes and I get to ride with the top guys. I'm so lucky!
Shout out to Charlie Beal, Emile Smith, Sean Cavenaugh, Rob Stine, John (who beat me at Farmington in 2006)


  1. Congratulations, you did great.
    Josh is a mottocrosser; no wonder he has mad skillz!

  2. Imagine growing up racing dirtbikes that weight 3-400 lbs. and then you hop on a 23 lb. mountain bike. It must be a joke to him. Great job, James! You are riding awesome.

  3. Thanks for the props James. Don't know if I deserve them but thanks. You are the Single Speed Samurai, and we all know if you were 100% that first lap, I would have been sliced and diced! You would have been on the box for sure. And of course I had some of Charlie's S.S. Mojo in the form of a rear tire that he saved me with at Winsted Woods! Your tech. skills are getting pretty sick. That rock face you did in W.M. was crazy! Yea sure I can suffer, like when I suffered from a serious case of lack a'sack and didn't do the rock. Anyway great job, your killing it this year! I'm not looking forward to the beat down at the next race when I'm all geared up and your single speed speeding away from me!