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.