Thursday, November 27, 2008


I got the call midweek. Josh (Inland Racing) was looking to fill-out a team for the 6-hour mtb race at Carolina North. With the NC cyclocross series four hours away in Hendersonville and Linus: Original Gangster out of town, I figured I couldn't pass up this opportunity.

Okay, here's the situation: 6 hours of 8-mile loops at Carolina North. Our 3-man team consisted of Josh, me, and C-Hill icon, Derek N., a one-time bike shop employee, part time trailbuilder, and sometime golfer. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Three Philosophers. Our team was named after the beer (which Derek brought, but which the trail landowners, UNC prevented us from drinking (go to hell Carolina!)). The beer was probably named after three philosophers, but I don't know who they are and am too lazy to google right now.

Josh blazed off to a fast start, taking the hole-shot down the fire roads. We couldn't see much until he returned to the start/finish zone. Our strategy was to each do two laps, then switch to single laps, if there was time left. This strategy, was designed to give us time to warm up, settle into our laps, and relax after riding. Given the cold temperatures, I think it was a sound strategy. After the first lap, Josh was in about 4th place overall and he calmly rolled into his second lap. Derek was up next. He claimed not to have ridden much in the past year or so, but he turned in two fast lap times. He definitely used the home-court advantage, but I also think his version of "haven't been riding much" still means that he's fast.

My first lap: 4:00 rolled around so I finally got to racing. I quickly burned past a few people who seemed puzzled. Of course they were, they had been riding for 3 hours while I had just been bumming around anxiously waiting to ride for 3 hours. So I passed you and you in a demotivational way, I apologize. If my caviler freshness just made you scoff and motivated you to go faster, I applaud you.

My second lap: the sun finally went down. Riding in the twilight has a motivational element. Psychologically, I always feel like I need to try and ride faster to get home before it's too dark to see. Also, according to the previews, twilight is when the sexy teen vampires come out. Watch out. I turned on our borrowed Light and Motion Seca. Let me first say that these lights are bright. Let me next say that for such an expensive light (retail price ~$600), their mounting system sucks. It's a plastic strap with a few holes in it like watch you'd get out of those plastic egg dispensers in the entryway of supermarkets. Mounting one of these on a fully-rigid bike didn't help and whenever I hit a pretty big bump (which was frequently on these trails), the light would rotate up or down, throwing $600 worth of light straight at my front wheel or off into the cosmos. And between blinding centipedes and misdirecting planes landing at the nearby airport, I rolled on through the darkness. The weird thing about nightriding in the winter is that feeling that your head is totally disconected from your body and you exist in this world that is about two meters wide and 4 meters long. It feels exactly like bonking. I realized this about 2/3 of the way through my second lap and since I wasn't sure if I actually was bonking, I pretended I was and just tried to keep turning the pedals over and hoping to get back quickly.

So what have I learned about endurance racing:
* Teams are cool. Solo riders looked miserable.
* Solo riders are cool. Plus they get to brag about being hardcore later.
* Hang out with people who do a lot of endurance racing: they have chairs and tents and bring all the best food and stuff.
* If you can't hang out with people who do a lot of endurance racing, at least hang out with people who do outdoor presentations, like Josh, who does promotional stuff for his chiropractic clinic.
* Do endurance racing in the summer. It's cold in the winter.
* Get your lighting set up right.
* Endurance racing brings out a wide range of people. I recognized a bunch of people, ranging from local mtb xc racers, to cx regulars, to shop guys to personalities, to Duke-affiliated folks, to dudes I just see around on the trails.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pisgah Sucks

Ben and I had both been jonesing for some Pisgah lately. You just can't go too long without mountain biking on some of the trails out there. I found a day I could get away from the budding family and we headed down Saturday night. Sunday morning we were ready to go after scoring breakfast at Allison's Diner in Black Mountain. Ben had never ridden Heartbreak Ridge and since it's a must do ride and a little bit closer to the Triangle than Pisgah Ranger District this was where we would make our stand.

We parked at Andrew's Geyser and headed towards the Heartbreak trailhead. Not 10minutes into the ride I attempt to roll through a deep creek crossing and have to dab at the end. Foot slips, splash. Felt real brisk since the temperature was barely cracking 30F if that. Thankfully there was some brutal switchback climbing on Lower Heartbreak to get me warmed up. Ben was rolling through most of the switchbacks despite plenty of leaves stealing traction and hiding goodies like roots and rocks. At star gap we started the descent down to Jarrett Creek Rd. The downwhill switchbacks were more my style.

Next up Curtis Creek Rd, the brutal 6mile fireroad climb that is in really good shape now that it's been repaired and opened back up to cars. Curtis Creek dumps you onto the Blue Ridge Parkway where you get more climbing, a little descending, and a final one mile climb before hitting the trailhead for Upper Heartbreak. We noticed a little snow on the BRP road surface then as we climbed the snow kind of grew and got thicker especially over in the trees beside the road. The hike a bike off of BRP that gets you to the start of Upper Heartbreak had 2-3 inches of snow which made it hard to keep on trail and got my feet wet again. My piggies stayed wet and cold most of the day.

The snow was kind of patchy in places on Heartbreak but was about all I could handle along with the slick leaves. Those leaves were hiding a nice rock that decided I needed a good endo. This is a sweet long descent that ends with the switchbacks we climbed up to start the day. I tried "real hard" to talk Ben into tacking on a Kitsuma loop too but the car was too close. Butch's BBQ in Morganton sponsored our ride by offering unlimited hush puppies with the BBQ plate.

After dropping Ben off at home, I had a scary but in the end very lucky mishap. When you see the car behind you flash the high beams pull over. At first I wondered what they were doing and then noticed my bike wasn't on the rack. Pulled over and the bike was being dragged, held only by the rear wheel still in the rack. Since my fork has no lawyer tabs I guess it just popped right out of the fork mount. Miraculously there is no damage to the frame or fork. Sadly my beautiful gold Hope stem and headset are destroyed along with my front disc caliper, bars, and saddle. A few more miles and the headset would have ground down enough to expose the head tube. Thanks dude with the high beams.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Farewell to Hollywood...

Well, the time has come...Hollywood is officially switching status from Team President and Le Chapeau of the Durham Peleton to Chapter President of the Denver BCC squad.

With heavy hearts, Daniel, JD, Hollywood and I headed out for one last ride on the dirt. With all the excitement of actually having a sunny day, we forgot a camera to document this historic ride but alas we have the memories...

After a few pleasantries, we saddled up our steads and headed towards the trails. As many of you know, I am a firm believer in the physical benefits of a nice easy warm up. That was not on JD's mind at at all!!! Kid came flying out of the gates and immediately put Daniel and myself in difficulty, Hollywood, of course, cool as the other side of the pillow peddled effortlessly on his sweet new rig.

By the time we hit the trail head, my lungs felt like they were bleeding. Cold air always seems to have that effect on me.

JD and Daniel proceeded to swap turns at front inflicting pain on everyone in their wake. It was truly a good hard ride and I am thankful that I was able to get out there. I, like many others, get tremendous satisfaction from suffering through tough patches and recovering to endure another onslaught of pain.

We were able to sneak in just under 3 hours when it was all said and done. Hollywood in true form busted out the Rock and Republic jeans for his post ride digs...I opted with track pants by stark comparision.

To Hollywood, fond farewell and best of luck to you in the west. I am truly jealous of the riding and the experiences that await you. I wish you all the best.


Double-O CX: A Quantum of Sandpit

Just as James Bond has a license to kill, Coreys Haim and Feldman have a license to drive, and Billy Ocean has a license to chill (revoked in 1989), BCC agents Linus O-.G. and Chris O. have a license to race bicycles.

To honor these licenses, we headed down to Southern Pines on a super secret cyclocross mission. A number of other racers in the NC series apparently chose not to accept this mission (in favor of the Blacksburg, VA race, the New Jersey UCI race, or sitting on their butts back at BCC World Headquarters). Nevertheless, there the race went on with plenty of fast dudes and plenty of challenges on the course. Southern Pines is in NC's sandhills region which, while not very hilly, is very sandy. The promoters always put together a nice race on the campus of Sandhills Community College (who are kind enough to let us use the restrooms in the student center, rather than accursed porta-johns), winding across a flat grass field and parking lot. This is all well and good, but the real trouble comes when we enter the woods; a descent with quick switchbacks through deep sand, followed by a long, sandy run-up.

Call me crazy, but there isn't enough running in bike racing. Watch the Euros, or races in the US where it rains a lot. The conditions get nasty and riders are forced to run. Here in NC, we are blessed/cursed with ild wintertime weather, meaning that while we don't freeze our fingers and toes off, we don't get ridicuolus mud. I think that this should encourage race course designers to find some wacky feature that forces riders to run with their bikes for a while, but this typically only happens up the dam in Cary and up the sandhill in So-Pines.

But this is all just theory and philosophical musing of what makes a great cyclocross course. In reality, these run-ups suck. They hurt like hell. The are motivational killers because you not only feel like you're moving so slowly, but when you finally get back on the bike, you try to pedal and you have zero power. Ooof.

Linus always gets great starts, quickly settling into fourth position. This appeared to be a big help, because there were few places to pass on the serpentine infield and there were huge bottlenecks once the pack hit the sand. Avoiding these pitfalls, Linus settled nicely into his rhythm, rode cleanly and smoothly, and held off a late charge from some dude to finish 11th. He seemed a little bummed he was just out of the top 10, but a fine result. He rewarded himself on the drive home by buying a beef stick at a gas station. I thought it looked nasty, but he seemed satisfied.

My race was a strange one. Only 7 riders, all of whom had beaten me in previous races. However, I had beaten at least one of them when they were sick or had mechanicals. And while I would not wish ill upon one of my competitors, racing is an opportunistic endavor--when someone is having a bad day, someone else gets to step up. If I could finish, I was assured one of the highest-placed finishes of my CX-1-2 career, not to mention some cashmoney. However, could I avoid a last place finish? I got off to what's becoming my trademark slow start (initiated in racing singlespeed against the mostly geared collegiate men), as to avoid getting in the way of dudes that were clearly faster than me. My body seems to respond better when I start conservatively, holding wheels and not trying to jump past people in the first few minutes. This worked out pretty well as one, then two dudes kinda popped. I followed the wheel of Scott, an Inland rider, for a couple of laps until he gapped me and was on his merry way. I was feeling pretty okay and had a fairly sizable lead ahead of the 6th place guy, trying to ride quickly without taking any silly risks. The final lap presented a late surge from Aaron (the aforementioned 6th place guy), so I had to dig a bit deeper to fend him off. So while there is a big asterisk after this fifth place (my highest finish in a CX-1-2 race ever), it is still one of my most proud third-to-last place finishes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

the other side of cyclocross

Regulation cyclocross barriers are short and easy to jump over. A wall of foam on the other hand...

(photo swiped from HTATBL)

There's World Cup cyclocross and crazy-ass SSCXWC. Some things can be both darker and more sinister and brighter and sweeter at the same time. It's what I picture when my friend talks about more enemy rainbows. Beware. I wasn't at either of these, but probably should have been invited to both. I need to re-negotiate my contract.

Cyclocross in the Times

Jump the barrier? Jump the shark? Does it matter? Cyclocross.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bicycle sharing programs take off

The popularity of bicycle sharing programs is growing in European capitals. Coming soon to Chicago, Boston, and New York. Is Durham next?

Transfer rumors

We're still waiting for confirmation here at BCC HQ, but word on the "street" is that Hollywood is moving over to Rock Racing next season. Here to stay? Doesn't sound like it.

daily math #n+1

zero posts = zero awesomeness
zero awesomeness = zero giant beers

it's time to get this team back on the program. otherwise we might as well all quit and join the franklin street bike team.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

daily math

Plug this one into your T.I.-81:

the end of daylight savings
indoor trainer time

and ample empirical evidence has proven that,

indoor trainer time

however, given that in Standardized Boredom Units (SBU),

free european cyclocross videos<<

we can conclude that
indoor trainer time * free european cyclocross video downloads
pretty fun

Let's call this one Spear's Theorem (Nathan, not Britney--see the link). Yes, in fact this guy has uploaded a bunch of broadcasts from Belgian tv. Once you register, you can watch them for free. Has he done this with expressed written consent of major league cyclocross? Who knows. Does it help to alleviate seasonal training disorder? heck yeah.

p. s.