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.