Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Knight Rider, but like during the day

Sure, we at Bull City Cycling have been known to brag about our bikes, but can any of them do this?

Actually, I've never tried this, but maybe that the secret of all well-built trails: you don't need to steer, the bike will just naturally follow the trail. I suggest you try it. Next ride, just take your hands off the bars, close your eyes, and coast.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Arrival Part Two.....From the Father

Yes it is true. There was a lull in the Brian house renovation/clean out process last night and with the help of Linus, my new Carbon S-Works hardtail is alive.

It is light and very sexy. Bling-tackular. Hopefully my back will survive with a few less aches and pains next season. The bike is light. Loaded with everything (pedals and 2 cages) it is right on 23 pounds. That is even with my heavy rear wheel on it. Not that I am going for super light......but I am personally in the superlight category, so this helps me. Plus with my move to Colorado coming up, I need every advantage I can get to hang with those boyz out there (like Dave Wiens, etc etc). Haha

Props again to Linus for the help! And thanks to Dr. Seven for the motivation. It will have to wait until next week to get dirty.

And as a bonus, my old Stumpjumper (previous race bike) is now a lightweight single speed and I have a Santa Cruz Chameleon frame for sale (size medium). Huck bike anyone??


This bike is, according to Hollywood, hotness. Expect a full post from Hollywood about his hotness in the coming days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Long Rides and aching muscles...

Just checked the Blog, I have to say that I concur whole-heartedly with the Professor. I went out on a couple of extended MTB rides with Daniel this weekend, there were two results:

1. I am extremely sore all over my body...it feels like I was in a boxing match and had my teeth handed to me.
2. Daniel has a new nickname "Chef Caesar", the first part is obvious the second is a shout out to his brethren that hail from Germany, Big Jan...

The story behind the nickname began a couple of weeks ago but was confirmed on the Saturday ride. We had done an extended Umstead bridal loop, Hubcap, Sludge and were venturing out on 286 when Chef Caesar says to me, "Whoa, I am still in my big ring!" I mean come on, really? It wasn't enough that he was punishing me on the climbs, looking effortless, but in the big ring the whole time... I think he took a little satisfaction in that, personally. Mistake? not sure. Kicking a man while he's down? Probably. Good time shredding some dirt? For sure!

By the way, we ran into one of the trail builders on 286. He had just added an additional 2 miles of singletrack. According to his calculations, the trail tips the scales at 8 miles. As you can imagine, its pretty soft and fresh but feels pretty nice.

Anyway, I went home pretty sore from the effort but wanted redemption. ON Sunday, we loaded up the bikes and headed out to New Light for an evening ride. Feeling a bit better, I pushed it a little and finished with a great ride. Although I am feeling pretty tired as I type this message.

I am heading to Flagstaff for a 5 days in a couple of weeks so I am trying to prepare myself to get completely destroyed by my boys out there. Should be amazing as always...

less = more

Less riding = more suffering. Despite Greg Lemond's claim that it doesn't get any easier, you just get faster, things can be more difficult if you are off the mountain bike for an extended period of time, then try two races in one weekend. Case in point, NCSU collegiate racing.

Sure, if I had been training more consistently, I could have finished faster (although based on the level of other riders, probably wouldn't have placed much better). However, time off the mountain bike does more than just reduce your speed. 

1) Hands. My hands got soft and so I got blisters. Sure, a suspension fork and less rooty trails might have helped. But I got to toughen up again.

2) Lower back. My lower back hurts. Muscular, not spinal, fortunately. But still, I gotta get my core strength back.

3) Ears. I'm not sure how my hearing was affected, but somehow I missed the part about how we were only doing 4 laps on Sunday instead of the advertised 5. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for this discount. But I only figured this out on the last (4th) lap after getting caught by another rider (on a singlespeed, no less). Not to say that I would have done better (maybe one place, maybe not), but it would have reduced my level of dread.

Saturday, Crabtree: 6th out of 11
Sunday, Harris Lake: 8th out of 14

Other race notes:
* This was a collegiate race for Duke, so I was not able to sport my BCC kit. Maybe we need some logo stickers for our bikes.
* We raced at Crabtree (saturday) and Harris (sunday) and local riders were super cool about letting the racers pass. Thank you all very much.
* One non-racing person thought it would be a good idea to remove course marking tape in critical sections of the trail. This was not a good idea, especially for kids who drove down from places like West Virginia, only to have their race needlessly complicated by some petty jerk.
* I was the only person riding a singlespeed in the Men's A race on saturday, but people must have got the message because three other dudes came wielding singlespeeds on sunday.
* Also spotted, one UNC Men's B racer and a AppState women's A racer on singlespeed. Mad props to you as well.
* I got some props for sporting my neon green/pink/black Oakley brand "Blades". When asked where I got them, I told some dude that I bought them at some store in 1988. I think he was thinking I found these retro specs on eBay or something and seemed to pause while he did some complicated math. I realized that he probably was not born when I was spending my allowance money on these dope shades. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

fake race/fake win

some weeknight, everywhere around the world, local folks get together and host some sort of fake bike race. it's slightly more organized than a group of kids doing laps around the jungle gym, but it would never be mistaken for some UCI/ASO fiasco. no entry fees. no race officials. no neutral support vehicle. no photo finish. no prize money. it's just for the glory. oh, the glory.

and while i've given the tuesday night fight the ol' college try for most of the summer, victory has been elusive. partially because my tactics are often rash and impatient. mostly because i can't sprint my way out of a paper bag (try it, it's more difficult than it sounds). but, as i continue to tell myself, it's never about the win, it's all about the game. the action and drama of the way the fake race plays out. even into the fall, when weather is iffy, the days grow short and motivation grows even shorter.

but the fake isn't about the win, it's about the fight. it's a chance to throw down. make stupid attacks. make risky moves. suffer. at the end of the day, it's only practice. one part high-intensity training, one part testing out strategies. playing the pack weasel or just waiting for everything to come back together is lame (unless you're struggling just to hang on--then that's a workout and a strategy).

so like i was saying, i rolled out to the race this tuesday. it had rained pretty consistently for the previous day and a half, but close inspection of weatherunderground.com radar said that the rain was done and the ride should be on. long story short(er), the rain must have scared everyone else away so i rode the loops by myself TO VICTORY! and let this be a valuable strategic lesson to you all: training is good, but the best odds for winning a race is finding a race where no one else shows up. similar to G.I. Joe's mantra "knowing is half the battle", Cat. 4 Joe's mantra is "showing is half the battle". and i take this confidence with me to my first mountain bike races in months. enter the collegiate mtb season. wish me luck...luck that no one else shows up.

Finally Ready to Roll

I know all of our loyal fans have been waiting for the debut of my new 2009 race bike (mainly based on the constant reports from my PR Agent Ali aka....Dr. 7)

And here goes.......the first spy shots of the 2009 Hollywood Race Bike:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Despite the Professor's woes...

Just checked the blog and noticed that our token hammerhead, aka The Professor, is issuing a futile attempt to convince the riders of the Durham peloton collectively that he is losing fitness.

I say heed not the pontifications of this wolf in sheeps clothing. He is a menace on both the road and the mountain. His inactivity signals just one thing to me...he will merely rip my legs off on the next ride with not only the traditional smile and cordail demeanor but a sigh and maybe a head shake..."I must be feeling ok afterall".

I have made the mistake of thinking that I was on a good day and he was not, believe me don't take the bait. He will punish you and be as nice and polite about it. In fact, I am not even sure that he believe this living in Oregon thing, if I didn't know better I would say that he oozes Southern Charm and Hospitality. You know nice and sweet on the surface but a rattlesnake just below.

So do all you readers out there, don't believe the hype...Chris is fit, was fit and probable always will be fit.

The only hope that i have is that he takes up smoking...

Chris, you know I am just kidding...your my boy.

the end of the summer

the weather's been crampin' my style. it's finally getting cooler, but the rain prevents us from mountain biking and makes road biking kinda lame. actually, road biking's still fine, the rain just makes me lame about riding. and that's pretty bad, since i grew up in oregon, where even hype-clothed hipsters ride ancient schwinns in the rain. oh, what have i become? i might as well sell all my bikes, buy a serotta that shall never be ridden, and pour myself a glass of chardonnay. please! send help!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Beaver Dam mtb race


Postponed, due to excessive moisture. Rain is good to relieve drought conditions, but bad for mountain bike trail conditions. I haven't ridden the ol' mountain bike in ages, so it is somewhat fortunate that the Triangle MTB series finale has been postponed. Train more/slack less.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lance is coming back!

If you haven't already heard. Lance Armstrong plans on winning his 8th Tour next summer. http://www.livestrong.com/lance2009/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How Hiedelberg could kill a man...

This is something I can't understand: how a bike can near kill a man.

Pressed for time last Sunday I headed out to the southwest of Albany to get a couple hours of riding in on the skinny tires. I'd planned to head about halfway up the Hiedelberg Escarpement, a ridge outside of town that begins to loom over you as you get onto progressively smaller country roads. Unfortunately I can't read maps (or wasn't paying attention), and my route took me winding to the top. (And you know it's the top by the beautiful views, and the cell phone towers.)

Here's my route:

There's no way that the map can convey just how out of shape I am, so let me say this: at the top of the ride I actually had to get off and walk the last hundred yards or so. I've never, ever had to do this on a road bike before and I have to admit that it was pretty humbling. I imagine if I had a 27-tooth cassette in the rear -- or a compact crankset -- I would have been fine, but on Sunday the choice was stop and walk, turn around with my tail between my legs, or fall over and hope someone found me. So I walked. Of course as soon as I unclipped the only car I'd seen for minutes pulled up behind me to make sure my humiliation was witnessed.

So yes, I have been beaten and unmanned, but I'm ready to go back for more: at my slow pace, the ascent took somewhere around 25 minutes, all but a couple hundred yards or so were uphill (there were two quick dips). Some was just steady climbing, but there were a few switchbacks and steep pitches. Needless to say it was quite a change from doing repeats on Mt. Sinai (which I was never very good at, and I haven't done for almost a year now).

There were a few minutes where the only thing that got me through were my snazzy new bottle cages. But survive I did, and I'll live to ride -- and walk -- another day.

Rocky Road...

JD, Daniel and I have been sneaking away after work and meeting up at the Crabtree/ Rocky Road/286 area the last few weeks for some nice evening riding. As we are warming up, we catch up on what's going on with each other and more importantly, pick which trails to ride.

Since the development of 286, I know that the trend amoung riders in the area has been to hit it up. While it does offer something new and different, I find my rides there are left wanting in some way. As a result, I convinced the guys to head over to my old stomping grounds, Rocky Road, for a ride a couple of weeks ago.

It was as I remembered...tough, challenging, frustrating and invigorating. I have to admit that I love the challenge. Sure it's not the smoothest trail out there but if you clean it, head to toe, you have truly accomplished something for the day.

Daniel and I fondly refer to Rocky Road as "The Humbler" simply because you can feel fit, shred every trail in the area and still get broken down by RR. I love that...

So, sure 286 is sexy and new and deserves to be riden but don't forget about your old friend Rocky Road. Don't listen to Pirate and the single speed haters of the world(sorry John couldn't resist). Get out and shred it, I promise its worth it!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Le Patron retourne?

Don't call it a comeback.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Is it possible to feel like riding 100miles when it's 6:30AM, there's a honeybun and poptart sitting in your stomach, and you've endured an assault of pouring rain, fireworks, and air horns the night before. The answer is no but I saddled up and hit the first short section of pavement with over 500 other delusional people. Thankfully I was able to trick myself into thinking this was fun until it actually was fun, then miserable, then fun again. The last 25miles there was no question that this was pure pain and going slower just means you'll suffer longer.

To start the race I actually set a good pace, something I felt like I could maintain all day. I never spent too much time at any aid station although I probably carried too much water in my camelbak for most of the race. The weight penalty was worth not worrying about a lack of water anywhere. The volunteers at the aid stations were the best I've seen. As soon as you roll up somebody grabs your bike and asks what you need, then they actually get it for you very quickly.

I hit mile 50 at about 5hours and was very happy about that. I still felt like I could ride another 50miles and hoped that my pace wouldn't drop off too much. It did but there was alot more climbing in the second half than I realized. Climbing that required me to walk more than I ever have on a bike ride. I spent what felt like too much time in a low cadence crawl so whenever I got the chance to spin fast on gradual inclines or flat stuff I tried to get my speed up and improve my efficiency. Rolling terrain was like manna to me. Drafted where I could on the flatter stuff but that's tough to do in most places when you're stuck with one gear.

The mud wasn't nearly as bad as I though it might be from the rain. There was only one section that really became a problem. It was some grassy double track around mile 80 or so. The entire climb, you're either on sticky mud or thick grass with huge amounts of rolling resistance. I questioned the sanity of trying to ride a bike on this kind of terrain so I walked mostly. A rocky downhill followed that had me going pretty slow and stopping to rest my arms a few times. A suspension fork would have been a nice thing to have at the time but I probably would have needed the rest anyway.

The final climb was unbelievably long but my early pace seemed to pay off here. I still had to walk in spots but I was riding strong when I got on the bike and passed a singlespeeder that had been ahead or just behind me since mile 45. The final downhill was a little rough or seemed that way at mile 90 of the race but I forced myself to keep going without a rest since I was so close to the finish. Final time was right around 11.5hours. Not too bad considering I've never ridden over 65miles in one day or been on the bike more than 8hours at one time. Bottom line is that this is a fun place to ride and a fun weekend that includes camping, two big dinners, and plenty of beverages with your race fee. I'll be back next year but I'd like to make sure I spend less time on the bike.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Spire Falls asks "How big a boy are ya?"

Answer: not big enough; or, conversely, too big. Clearly my options at this point are to lose a few and join the ranks of my more svelte BCC-brethren down in the southland, or to get some meat on my legs and learn how to ride up hills. Either way, I clearly have my work cut out for me.

The day started reasonably enough, with Dan and I loading up our 29ers and heading about an hour north of Albany for a set of trails know as Spire (or Spier) Falls overlooking Moreau Lake State Park. As we got off the thruway the roads got twisty, ridges rose around us, and I realized that I was in for a good time. We parked near an inviting lake, but quickly turned our eyes to the hills and headed up.

I've learned something about the north in the past few weeks: people here do not warm up. Whether as a result of trails that jump on you from the word go, or from some sort of biologically programmed, high-powered starter, of the three rides that I've done with others here, each began with a bang (possibly the sound of my heart exploding). Back in NC I had a bit of a reputation of pushing the pace a little too hard from the beginning (as a result of youthful exuberance, I'm sure), but I have nothing on the few ankle-breaking beginnings I've experienced here.

Since we'd parked at the bottom of the hill there was no way for us to go but up, which we did immediately and continually for several miles. Notice that I do not say quickly, as while Dan motored his way up the tight, twisty, and rocky climbs, my ever-enlarging posterior was soon plodding slowly up each rise on my two left feet. On and on I seemed to walk, with only the relatively low weight of my Ferrous as inspiration.

Every few hundred yards I found Dan waiting patiently for me, he having happily spun up the slopes that were crushing me. The moniker emblazoned on the toptube of his Ellsworth Evolve is "Gnarly Old Dude," and while that certainly fits, I would also like to suggest "He-of-stoic-patience-and-hill-crushing-legs." It's been a while since I felt like I was the anchor on a ride, but Dan was understanding, as well as just being happy to be out on the trail.

Luckily for me, after we approached the top and I was able to ride -- as opposed to push -- my bike, and after I got a minute to let my heart rate dip below 200 bpm, I started to get a rhythm again and began making a few climbs and bashing through some of the more technically difficult sections. I was far from putting on a clinic, but I didn't feel any longer like I was ruining someone else's day.

Our route was a circuitous one around the ridge that borders the Hudson river to the south. The trail system up here is rugged (to say the least), but as the holiday weekend had families out to the state park, we saw some hikers venturing up the trail. No other bikes, though: while Dan and some of his friends ride these trails relatively regularly, it appears as if there aren't a whole lot of other people taking advantage of these climbs. And the trails are rough: we did a little exploratory route-finding, and found ourselves walking some extremely steep up- and downhills. So steep, in fact, that I actually fell while walking, in what I think was the day's only 'wreck.'

Neither of us had a computer to log our miles, but by the time we got back to the truck we'd put in somewhere around four hours. Since we weren't exactly flying along (largely because of me), I'd guess we actually rode around twenty-five miles: not a huge amount, but plenty for this southern boy at the end of August.

After we were done we took a quick dip in the Hudson River to wash off the dirt. I'm getting used to the swim-after-ride tradition up here, and even if it's a little chilly I like being able to wash off some of the worst of the ride funk before heading home.

Here are a few pics from yesterday. They're people-, bike-, and trail-less, but hopefully they give you an idea of some of the scenery.

Here's hoping that the Shenadoah rockers are heading happily home after 100 fast miles

SSWC is blowin' up

SSWC08 featured in the NY Times.
Has it jumped the shark?
And does Carl Decker's ride report on his custom coaster brake bike represent the future of mountain biking?

None of us were there (not this year at least), but I figured I'd post something while we wait for word back from the boys at the Shenandoah 100.