Monday, October 27, 2008

Rutland remembered

The plan for last Saturday's ride was simple enough on paper: jump in the car early; meet up with Jeff and Chris, a couple new folks from the interwebs, and Brian (my tour guide for the SMBA trails and the Grafton-Pittstown extravaganza); zip over to Rutland, VT; get in a couple of hours on the Pine Hill Park trails; then head back to the Empire State and be done with things by two in the afternoon. Easy, schmeezy. I hadn't been out on the mountain bike -- or any bike -- much in the last month, but with snow in the forecast I figured I should take my non-frostbitten rides where I could.

There were a couple harbingers of doom -- Chris reported cougar sightings in the area and Brian had his car rearranged by his toddler on the way to meet us -- but as we pulled into the parking lot in Rutland and geared up, the rain from earlier in the morning was slackening and things were looking good. Brian decided to start things out with a bang and while poking around the park's activities building tripped a loud alarm. Not to be daunted by the closed door, the chain across said door, and the lights off, his attempt to sneak into the facilities was met with a sphincter-constricting FAIL. Rather than wait around to chat it up with Rutland's finest, we decided to hit the trail.

And it was a good thing that we did: any time missed on these trails is time wasted (and especially so if it's spent explaining to the authorities how ya just hadta go, ya know?). We started out on some flowy, techy trails on the lower section, complete with decent little freeride drop. Being the stunt expert that I am, I volunteered to film Brian as he launched the smooth transition.

Here's a still shot of Chris sizing up the rocks and then Brian making it look old hat. (Clicking on the pics will make them bigger. 'Playing' the videos will, well, play them.)

This was just the beginning of a trail system that represents untold labor hours in its creation and maintenance. It was really rather amazing, as the many of the trails had the ample rocks pushed from the middle of the trail to the sides, not only making things faster, but making for an easy path to follow through the leaf-strewn woods. In other places there were rather elaborate rocks playgrounds, and everything was clearly cut and well-marked. There were a number of criss-crossing trails, and we were happy to leave the navigation up to Jeff, who whipped his map out regularly to plot the best path.

After a short (for the region) carriage road climb (read: rock-strewn double-track bent on shaking your fillings loose) to the upper side of the park the fun really began, with some of the slow speed maneuvers from below replaced with fast, berm-filled, "grip it and rip it" fun. I didn't stop to take pictures of this because I was simply having too much fun, but if I can ever convince you NCers to trek north on two wheels I'll want us to go here: the trails were fast, techy, scenic, with a wide variety of terrain and a great use of space. No complaints, except maybe wishing that they were a little closer.

But as great as the trails were, they were not without their quirks. Exhibit one: an enormous suspension bridge in the middle of the trail that crossed what was little more than a wet seep. This thing was an impressive feat of engineering, with four huge anchor posts, treated lumber decking, and a totally-legit suspension setup. Much as we couldn't quite figure why bother, we did have fun playing around on it. Here's a couple of videos of us playing around on the swaying wonder:

There are also some rather interesting trail names, and I have to admit that I chuckled every time we took a turn down the Droopy Muffin. (I'm not sure if Brian thought so too, of if he was just humoring me in this photo.)

However, it was while drooping the muffin that we had our first problem, when Jeff realized that the creaking that he thought was coming from his seatpost was actually a cracked frame. In an attempt to keep the crack at the toptube-seattube from getting any larger he shoved his seatpost all the way down in the frame and rode BMXican style for the rest of the day. He may have sat down a couple of times, but I didn't see it, and instead was happy to pedal huckster style around on his bouncing bike.

A little later we ran across what is certainly one of the weirdest things I've seen while on the trail: a collection of hanging rocks, rock pyres, and weird things made out of branches that would have been more at home on the set of the Blair Witch Project than interrupting my ride. I would have stopped to take a few pictures, but it was really a little creepy.

Not incoincidentally, a few seconds down the trail I got a flat. The curse of the witch you think? No, you say? Well, then what do you say when I mention that the valve core pulled out of my spare tube after I got it pumped up? What if it happened again? Still not convinced? What if I told you that the witch (possibly in the form of Jeff) also stole Chris's brains around this time? (Sweartagawd.) Clearly, the place is cursed and should be avoided when you ride the trail. Alas, I couldn't tell you where it was.

The tire issues and the lack of cognitive abilities led us down the trail and back to the truck after one more rip down a trail aptly named Halfpipe. At the parking lot the clock on the wall said 2 o'clock. (Last call. For alcohol.*) For those of you keeping track at home that's when we'd planned on being home, but we were in the wrong state, in need of food, and still lacking Chris's grey matter. So we stopped in to a local pizza joint to top off our cholesterol reserves and prepare for a quick trip home.

The road home was, well, interesting. Not only did I learn about the vicious cougar attacks of ought-eight, but I also came home with a much broader picture of the Upstate riding scene, including -- but not limited to -- the following**:

  • Their fondness for reminiscing about kicking Spiderman's ass.
  • A hatred for the mullet.
  • Nothing is ever "at altitude," because everything is "at altitude." (Dammit!)
  • It is in fact possible to be too messed up to go to a junkyard.
Heard on the trail or the ride:
  • "I'd take that [stuff] and I'd eat it."
  • "Well, I am a dirty boy."
  • "I like to meet new people. And watch them eat. I mean, see them eat. I mean, see what they eat. Nevermind."
  • "I think there were four generations in that house. And an airmattress. I dunno, it was weird."
  • "You know, vodka out of a plastic bottle and hawaiian punch gatoraid really isn't bad when it's mixed for you by and old lady and given to you after a long ride. And has roofies in it."
I think that's all of the PG-13 stuff we have.

Needless to say it was a great day. Maybe without the pain of the Grafton-Pittstown epic that left Brian with a broken shoulder, and possibly more expensive when you figure in the broken Yeti, but still good times. Sure our quick morning jaunt turned into an all-day affair, and maybe when we got back to town Chris and I had had our cars towed, but it was totally worth it, if only for ten minutes spent on the Droopy Muffin, and maybe a few more on Halfpipe.

I'm not sure when we will get out again, as there's snow in the forecast (they said that you can bike comfortably down into the 20s, but I'm not believing it), but at the very least we got in one last good ride before we turn to dogsledding or curling or whateverthahell else they do here for fun in the winter. Keep on keepin' on down in the NC.

One for the way out:

*I know that this clip takes you to a song where the quote is "The clock on the wall said quarter to midnight" and not "two o'clock," but I can't in good conscience link to the George Thoroughgood version where he changes it to the latter. So instead you get an inconsistency, but at least one with soul.
**All of the below are taken from my extremely suspect memory of the events and then painted liberally with a brush of Guinness-forgetfulness masquerading as poetic license.

NCCX #3: Boone

Whilst the majority of the team was doing an awesome job at the Second Empire 5k, BCC's special teams cyclocross unit headed west to Boone.

Barriers, beer gardens, and Bull City Cycling. This is what cyclocross is all about. The Boone guys put on a great race with a challenging course at a cool venue, two beer gardens, and a dj who was kicking tunes ranging from Stevie Wonder to Sonic Youth to Madonna to Gang of Four. Linus woke up with nasty congestion and a cough and prepared for the race with coffee, Bojangle's biscuits, and his special super secret PowerSauce. I don't want to give away his secret, but I'll just say that the label said it may result in "dizziness" and "awesomeness". Given the fact that his ailment inhibited breathing and given the fact that breathing is an important part of cycling as well as living, Linus put in a strong effort. Recent rain added a little mud to the course and damp grass combined with a strong headwind really sucked the power out of us on long straightaways. 

Linus and I drove up with Durham's own mtb bandit, Jay, the fasted guy on 26" wheels. 
Jay once again proved that expensive cyclocross bikes are not necessary for a top-ten finish. 

I, on the other hand, wanted to use my needlessly expensive, but much beloved cyclocross bike to redeem my poor result from last Sunday. As you may recall, I rolled a tire on a steep descent, so I bought some new glue (Vittoria mastic) and glued the hell out of my tires and crossed my fingers. The finger-crossing was put to the test, given a really tricky off-camber, precariously-rooted section of the Boone course. The tires held as I made up for my slow start by picking-off riders throughout the hour. 
Initial results said I was in 10th, but looking at the website today, it has me in 11th. I'm not sure what that's all about (I'm not sure what the truth is), but I do apologize to the real 10th place person--I took your prize money. Payout went 12 deep, and since 10th place only got $15, my guess is that I owe someone $5. Or a giant beer. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Second Empire 5km Run

Greetings two wheel friends. Today I turned in my two wheels for two feet and JD turned in two wheels for three and two extra feet. For those of you out there trying to do the math and figure out what is going on.....JD and I ran a 5K Road Running Race Sponsored by Bull City Cycling's Title Sponsor -- Second Empire Restaurant. JD opted to draft his 2-year-old son into service today and loaded him in the running stroller for a 3.1 mile (5km) jaunt from Second Empire around the North Carolina State Capital, down Hillsborough Street and back to Second Empire.

JD and Company blasting through the finish line.

Me approching the finish line.

Chef Daniel, Ali-Wiz, and Ben "I'm as tall as the building next to me"

Chef Danial was on hand to help run the show. Ben and Ali also joined us for the event today, single handedly blocking and/or directing all motorized traffic away from the race course (ok so they had the help of another dozen or so volunteers and the Raleigh Police too). Nonetheless they directed traffic like champs, cheered everyone on and looked really cute in their blaze orange vests.

Skyscraper and Mr. Wizard displaying the newest fashion trends in traffic directing wear for 2009.

JD and Luke at the finish. Who is happier? JD because the running is over or Luke because of the cookies?

In the end it was an excellent day (75 and sunny), a wonderful painful experience, and a fun way to pay our respects to our title sponsor -- Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern.........and a chance to eat Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at the finish.

I love Krispy Kreme!!!!

Last but not least, proceeds from the race benefited Camp Woodbine and is part of the Second Empire Gran Prix.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

giant beers (formerly mad props)

there's not enough love out in the world today. however, after racing cyclocross this weekend and voting today, i am feeling some of the love and wanted to identify some of this to our loyal readers.

1) to Peter at bobkestrut, who celebrates greatness with great writing and giant beer (at least to the extent that he recognizes people deserving of a giant beer, if not personally buying them said beer). Peter was out at the Cary races, cheering people on, and he mentioned that he's taken an editorial job over at cyclingnews. Congratulations.

2) to cyclingnews. in addition to keeping us up-to-date about the results of obsucre south american road races and technological breakthroughs in $700 cranksets, they post sweet pictures like NCCX badass Nathan Wyatt biting the dust (or sand, to be more precise). one of these photos even made the random race photo in the upper left hand corner of the cyclingnews homepage. sweet. also, mad props to Nathan--someone buy that man a giant beer.

3) to people who race cyclocross on mountain bikes. there are few things i love more than a cyclocross bike. actually, no, there are LOTS of things that i love more than bikes, even cyclocross ones. however, as far as bikes go, they're really the bee's knees (bees live there). that being said, many people who already own a road bike and a mountain bike have opted against acquiring another bike, in favor of paying their mortgage or for their kids' braces or buying deserving people giant beers. and that being said, i'm always kind of shocked to see how many people show up for cyclocross races with cyclocross bikes. sometimes very nice, new cyclocross bikes. bikes that are raced between 1 and 5 times per year, and ridden a dozen or so times the rest of the year--it's kinda crazy. i'm all in favor of the right tool for the right job, but sometimes, there's something satisfying in using an old fashioned screwdriver (one you already have), rather than going out and getting a new electric drill, just to hang a picture. that, and that, and that being said. i'm really not someone to tell someone that they have too many bikes. my main point is, cheers to the people who drag their old mountain bikes out and rip it in cx races. two giant beers for people, like our other friend Adam (not shop Adam or Olde English Adam, but Adam of Denise and Adam fame) who was kickin' it on a hybrid (with tights and baggy shorts). To hell with the pro style guide--bring back anything-goes style.

4) to kids racing cylcocross. at first, watching juniors (10-14 year-olds) try and haul a bike nearly half their weight over a barrier nearly the height of their inseam seemed like a cruel joke. like those pictures where they dress up babies to look like vegetables. but after talking to some of these kids after their race i learned that they were totally stoked to be racing. they were having a blast. and so i realized that, for kids who like to bike, it's a great environment. much better than my early days, standing around a baseball field in itchy polyester, getting yelled at by some jerk-ass coach. i would have much rather pushed my bike up a grassy hill (something i would do most days) but with dozens of adults going nuts, ringing cowbells, encourageing me, and getting ready to do the same darn thing themselves. however, while these kids get mad props, they receive no giant beer. maybe root beer. but only after they finish their homework.

5) to fans who watch cyclocross. hootin' and hollerin'. ringin' cow bells. nodding politely. you deserve a big beer. preferably while watching the races.

6) to big beer. not the big business side of big beer (like "big tobacco" or "big oil"), but beer in large containers. because a 750 mL beer is like the 29er of beers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CX: Cary, NC

After feeling pretty good in Raleigh, Linus and I headed down to Cary for Sunday's races. The Cary course always features a tough run-up along the dam and usually some wicked downhill S-turn they call the super-D. Conditions were sunny, cool, and drier than Saturday, but there was still enough moisture to allow dirt and sand to pack-down a bit. Linus raced first and fought his way through another large Men's 4 field. Soon after the start, racers were strung out all over the long course, so it was tough to tell exactly who was in what position. Linus can probably give you a more thorough description but he rode another smart race, avoiding mishaps in the nastier sections to finish 17th. I didn't envy Linus at all--since the Cat-4 race is only 30 minutes, it requires a ridiculously high intensity and leaves no room for mistakes.

Big props to our pal Jay, who was also out kickin' in in the 4s on his vintage Bontrager mountain bike. He finished 22nd out of 60 racers, beating lots of dudes on shiny new cyclocross rigs and proving it's all about the engine.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a photographer out with us so there is no visual evidence. Jonah received many compliments for his documentation of the Saturday race, but just to remind him not to quit his day job, he did take a couple of lousy photos, including the back flank of Linus (which may or may not have been intentional) and this one:
That being said, this photo is actually a good representation of my race. I had a pretty solid start and felt even better than the previous day. However, about half way through the race, I overshot the apex of the final super-d turn and rolled my tire. My crash provided a nice show for the spectators who gather at this section waiting for just such misfortune. Yes, you are all most welcome. I think I loosened-up the glue with some hard cornering on some of the very tight turns and was one of several victims of the rolled tubular. After picking myself back up, I started running toward the pit, which turned out to be a long, long way away. I still had a little air in the tire, so I'd slowly ride some flat, straght sections of the course, but ended up doing a lot of running as everyone else passed me. After finally making it back to the pit for a wheel change, I was sitting pretty in last place, so I decided to keep on riding and finish. I'd rather pull a DFL than a DNF any day, and all things considered, I feel pretty lucky that I didn't injure myself or anyone else on my stupid crash. The lead trio caught me with 2-to-go, giving me a one-lap discount. Lucky me. Yeah, so that sucked, but I'm getting fired-up for the upcoming races.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cyclocross weekend, part 1

Garner, NC; 10/18/2008; NC Cyclocross Series Race 1. Linus and I headed south from Raleigh to the BMX track for some racing. Unfortunately, rain the previous day caused them to eliminate the section of the course that would have sent us through the banks (and jumps?) of the BMX track, but it did give us a little mud to contend with. Besides a little mud and soft, slow grass, the course was fairly open and flat.
Linus jumped out to the front group of a huge field and settled into his first ever cyclocross race quite nicely. Please observe the totally focused look on his face. Also, the way he's hammering away on his new R. Kelly frame.
Linus finished an outstanding 13th, but most impressive is his post-race composure: 
Observe Mr. O-G's jaunty expression as competitors to the left and right of him buckle-over in agony. 

Jonah was kind enough to join us and take these pictures. He just defended his dissertation so wasn't racing, but he's been a fixture of the NC scene for several years now. In addition to his physics/engineering work, he has a keen eye for an edgy art photo.

Note the skewed perspective, bisecting lines, and the deft composition which captured Linus in the background. I was pleased with my early-season form and also finished 13th. One of the Inland Racing guys caught me in the last lap, pushing me out of the money, but I was just happy not to get totally smoked. Racing mountain bikes for the past several weeks has been fun and given me some endurance, but I was skeptical of my ability to do a short, high-intensity effort. Fortunately, singlespeed mountainbiking forces me to either grind away on long climbs or spin furiously on open flat areas, which might be a pretty good way to prep for a cx race. I was also encouraged by a late-race holler of encouragement from Linus, "Do it for Biscuitville!", which not only got me pumped up, but also made the announcer give a B'ville shout-out over the PA system. (It should also be noted that at this point of the race, a theoretical biscuit made me happy, but if someone actually tried to hand me an actual biscuit, I probably would have barfed.) 

So we hit up some post-race Bojangles (Biscuitville was closed, although Linus claims that Bojangles' biscuits are better) in an attempt to recover for the sunday races. Stay tuned for the Sunday report...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cyclocross im Deutscheland

Radsportclub Kleinmachnow e.V.
Karl-Marx-Strasse 44 a, 14532 Kleinmachnow
Boris Eichler – Vereinsvorsitzender

Pressemitteilung KOCMO CROSS CUP 2008

Sehr geehrte Sportsfreunde, 14.10.2008

seit heute steht fest, dass zwei hochkarätige Radsportstars im November beim schon traditionellen Kleinmachnower Cross-Rennen am Start sind:

Hanka Kupfernagel und Philipp Walsleben starten
beim KOCMO Cross Cup
am 15.11.2008 in Kleinmachnow.

Hanka Kupfernagel ist Deutschlands erfolgreichste Cross-Fahrerin und sie gehört mit vier Weltmeistertiteln zur absoluten Weltspitze dieser Disziplin. In Kleinmachnow übernimmt sie außerdem die Schirmherrschaft für ein Nachwuchsrennen.

Philipp Walsleben ist momentan Deutschlands größte Cross-Hoffnung. Der Kleinmachnower, der mittlerweile in Belgien wohnt und trainiert, wird in dieser Saison nicht mehr oft in Deutschland starten. Walsleben gilt mit seinen 20 Jahren bereits als bester deutscher Cross-Fahrer. Das haben seine beiden Siege in Hamburg und Berlin bewiesen. In seinem belgischen Team „Palmans Cras“ wird er intern bereits auf Platz zwei hinter Niels Albers geführt. Querfeldeinradsport ist in Belgien die populärste Sportart der zweiten Jahreshälfte. Philipp Walsleben brennt darauf auf seiner „Heimstrecke“ im Eliterennen zu brillieren. Das erste Rennen in den Kiebitzbergen wird er um 10.00 Uhr start. Der Start zum Eliterennen wird um 15.00 Uhr fallen.

Schon jetzt haben über 300 Starter für das traditionelle Kleinmachnower Rennen gemeldet. Der KOCMO Cross Cup ist Teil des Deutschland Cups. Das ist eine bundesweite Querfeldein-Rennserie, die als Gesamtwertung ähnlich dem Ski-Weltcup funktioniert. Die Veranstalter hoffen wieder auf mehrere Tausend Besucher in den Kleinmachnower Kiebitzbergen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Dave Weins Profile

Check out this great profile of Colorado's Dave Weins, the 6-time winner of the Leadville 100, in today's New York Times. No mention of CERA in mountain biking.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So that's why so many people MTB.

Hey there cyberland-face! I can't help but feel remorseful about my shameless lack of blogging; suffice to say it has taken me a while to warm up to the whole idea.

Apologies aside, mountain bikes are awesome. Today, Ali, the Professor and I went for an early morning ride all single speed stylie. After some deliberation en route it was decided to do a quick warm up in crabtree (a practice many of our fellow teammates have sworn off) and then head over to 286. Now, it's worth mentioning that this was also the second time I've been able to ride my kick-awesome new bike (a Surly 29er all rigidified). Also worth mentioning is that big wheels are fast. My old bike was a '92 Specialized HardRock cobbled together with new and old parts and setup single speed. While fun, not being able to straighten one's fingers or back after riding for two hours is not so great. Happily this is no longer the case.

286 seemed to go by fast in part, no doubt, to Ali crushing it for a good while. The big wheels didn't hurt either. I'm still getting used to the bike but I can already feel the handling becoming more intuitive and I'm becoming more confused as to why everyone says 29ers don't handle quick. Its a little higher off the ground but I can still toss it around like a BMX bike. Word! Fun and fast, who could ask for more?

Oh, and plenty of funny pics are to follow as soon as blogger stops confusing me.

Weekend Ride Anthem

"No one on the corner has swagger like us."-MIA

I heard the anthem late this afternoon played from the loudspeakers at Duke East Campus Field Hockey Stadium. While I was intially startled by the sound of the amplified gun shots, after a moment of recognition I thought that the song's bravado and, uh, enthusiasm captured my weary but elated state. I was happy to get in a pair of rides on my singlespeed at 2-6 this weekend. On Saturday, Ben and I rendezvous'd with JD, who became a father a second time over about a week ago. After greetings, congratulations, and some time admiring JD's beautiful new Waltworks 29er (21.5lbs!), we warmed up through Umstead and the looping trails. It was here that Ben uncharacteristically took a double helping of trouble. The first was quick, caused by too much speed on the downhill approaching a rock garden, but the second was far more dramatic fall into a drainage as Ben tried to act on his second thoughts approaching a "skinny" bridge. I saw Ben's tumble in agonizingly slow motion: feet over head, Ben landed on his back with his bike on top, leaning against a barbed wire fence. He came out with a few scratches and maybe some bruises, but the damage could have been far worse. I fell in this exact spot about a year ago. The resulting knee injury bothered me for at least a month. Falls out of the way, we enjoyed the rest of the trails without incident.

On Sunday morning, Linus, the Professor, and I made a singlespeed trio on the same network of trails. And we were moving. Linus, dailing in his new Karate Monkey, declared the bike to be "perfect". Unlike the day before, we came across many, many other riders, including one of Chef Daniel's pals who gave us a shout out when he saw the Second Empire kits. We capped the day's perfect weather and perfect rides with a perfect visit to Biscuitville.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Epic Rides...Flagstaff Style

Got back earlier this week for a 5 day trip to Flagstaff. It's been over a year since I have ventured to the beautiful Southwest and my body was not happy about the lack of oxygen and my inconsistent riding regimen.

I arrived on Thursday to blue skies and 70 degree temperatures, perfect for mountain biking. I woke up early on Friday and headed out with my boy, Chris Hull, not to be confused with the Chris Hull of Bike Chain fame. We hopped on our rigs and pointed the bikes north towards Shultz Pass, an amazing 4.5 mile climb that takes you deep into the vast network of trails that the western side of the mountain has to offer.

As we start the climb, we are chatting it up, or should I say he was chatting it up and I was responding with curt one word answers due to the lack of oxygen at 7000 feet. That being said, I have been on this trail literally hundreds of times and I knew that if I just kept it cool the breathing would settle down and everything would be fine. The real climbing was yet to come...

One thing you have to understand, I am going up the pass at a relatively chill rate, the legs felt great but I was huffing and puffing for sure. If I hadn't of know better, Chris was sitting on the couch in his living room. I was thinking "come on man, at least look like you are getting a work out". Just as I am thinking that, he mentions very non-challantly that he just received word for the USCF that he was upgraded from Semi-Pro to Pro. Great! Here comes the acceleration...

We finish out Shultz and link over to Sunset. I scrabble on to his wheel only to look down and see that he's in his big chain ring...I mean, Damn...really, do you have to throw it in the big ring?

Anyway, we hit up sunset and finally my breathing is chilling out and I can actually hold a conversation. Sunset has always been my nemesis, I have tried to clean it maybe 20 times and have always dabbed at least once. It's beautiful, epic, steep but not so technical. It just breaks me down mentally, once I think I have a rhythm it kicks up again. Well, I am very proud to say that I pushed through and successfully navigated it without touching down...4 miles of steeps without a dab. Needless to say I was pretty stoked.

We continue on and linked a string of other trails including Little Bear(insane DH), lower moto, Ft Valley and a couple other that I can't even remember. The big highlight of this section was Super Moto...DAMN, it was off the chain. Lets just say that they named the trail appropriately. It was sooooo technical! I had to dab 4 times and that included pulling off some DH sections that I honestly don't know how I did it. I would look back after I cleaned something and just shake my head. If you have ridden with me, you know what I am talking about, I am clearly not the best descender in the world but the stars were just aligned, I guess.

Anyway, thought you guys might like to hear a little about the trip. Hope everyone is doing well out there on the inter-web, hopefully I will see you on the trail soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Collegiate racing. Men's A, twenty-five miles at Uwharrie. About half on fire roads, but we more than made up for that on rocky descents. Rocky descents with a rigid fork. My poor, baby-soft hands.
Buy my hands survived, unlike my rear tire. Minor sidewall cut that could not be resealed by that Stan's NoTubes stuff, so I needed to throw in a YesTube (a normal tube, not to be mistaken for NoTubes or YouTube). For me the verdict is still out on Stan's. True, no pinch flats, but minor sidewall cuts kill your ride and perhaps make your tires unusable (for Stan's use in the future). Additionally, I am having second thoughts about the rigid fork for XC racing. I felt fine racing singlespeed, occasionally spinning-out on the fire roads and really grinding up a few punchy climbs, but this is all well and good. I was getting killed on the descents, both in terms of my hands and in terms of my lap times--I kept getting caught and passed as I struggled down the technical sections. However, my thrift and budget will keep me riding what I've got for now. 

Even with the flat tire change, I re-caught and passed the two dudes who passed me and I finished third. I'm plenty happy with that.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back to the hills

After two weeks in which the only riding I got in was on my short commute to school, I decided that the beautiful autumn weather and my ever-tightening pants meant that I needed to get in some quality saddle time in. Without enough time to hit the trails I pumped up the Cannondale to 135 psi and pointed my handlebars to the southeast to take on the Hiedelberg Escarpement.

The last time that I headed this way I met with rather dismal defeat, and today I was even less prepared: poor nutrition? yep; fattyboombalatty? check; lazy? uh-huh; lack of sleep? guilty. However, I might be a little wizer. Rather than map a route that took me rather straight to the top, I took a longer, more gradual approach to the top of the ridge. I'll probably wear out my 26 tooth cog if I do many more rides like this, but by getting in a groove and rolling I at least was able to avoid the walk of shame.

The fall colors were nice, and while it was never cold, by the time that got to the ridge the wind was chilling my ears pretty nicely. This route was much longer -- possibly my longest road ride of the year, embarrassing though that is -- and the rollers once I got to the top of the hill really took a lot out of me. By the time that I limped back in to Albany I was ready for a hot shower and some eats.

Here's a map of my ride for your cartographic enjoyment. The total ride time was just a little over two hours and twenty-two minutes; take a whack at those number Adrawk!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now let us praise great pros

How can't you love mountain biking Barry Wicks? The mountain bike and cyclocross terror who was one of the main highlights of the CX films "Transition" and "Pure Sweet Hell". He also writes a funny blog and now a column for velonews. He's not always the fastest (although often he is), but he seems to be enjoying the sport more than anyone else out there. I think it's partially because he's from Oregon.

I remember racing against Wicks back at collegiate cyclocross nationals in Portland in 2002. Which is to say, I do not have any memory of racing against him at nationals. Truth be told, after the starting gun, I never saw him on the same stretch of course that I was on--I could only see him on other portions, far far ahead of me. I got totally destroyed. By him and most of the rest of the field. I attribute this trouncing I received to several factors:
1) Barry Wicks et al. are fast. Just because people race in the collegiate division, doesn't mean they aren't just warming up for the elite division.
2) Overtapering. True, you are supposed to taper before big races, especially end-of-the-season races where your body is fatigued. However, stopping racing, and almost all riding a month before a big race will make you suck.
3) Mud. There was mud. Ridiculous mud (see "Pure Sweet Hell" for footage from these races). Not like the mud we get here in North Carolina. In fact, the past few seasons, we haven't seen much mud during cyclocross season. 80 degree weather in October? Yes. Mud? Not so much. To compare cyclocross in fabled places like the Pacific Northwest or New England with North Carolina is like comparing, well maybe like warm brie on toast points (classy smoothness) compared to Lance brand Nip-Chee crackers (crunchy dryness).

Both are essentially the same thing: cheese+crackers. But the dissimilarities are many. Don't get me wrong, I love Lance brand crackers (sponsorship anyone?) as well as fancy cheeses from France. The point is, there is really no reason to compare these things against each other. Both are great in the correct situation. Like, what's better: creme brulee on a fancy date at a fancy restaurant or an ice cream sandwich from a suspicious van that rolls through your neighborhood on the hottest day of the summer? Answer: both, especially if it happens on the same day. But I digress. What was I saying? Okay, yes. My skills are like pre-packaged snack crackers served on a silver tray by a butler.