Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DAS Wot I'm Talkin' bout!!

For the second time I headed out of work a little early to do a little racin' at the Wednesday night Danielson Adventure Sports CX Training series on the Chil Con Crosso.

And for the second time this handsome young feller trounced me - but I'm figuring some things out. 

Things like "tactics". 

Back in June I encountered these tacticky things racing against Doug at the Big Ring Rumpus.  I commented on his account and he offered these words: 

"Alby - you got a taste of the dark side of road racing. MTB courses have become increasingly technical. Top riders get spread out. It becomes a test of skill and fitness, really an individual time trial. I used to believe that was real racing. But it lacks the tactical element, the uncertainty of what others are going to do. You end up being at the mercy of the pack when they impede a chase or tag-team you to death when you respond to every move at the front. It has a special allure you don't get in most MTB races, except for the Rumpus and maybe Leadville."

So tonight's joust went like this:  We took off and pretty much the separation from the rest of the group  happened instantly.  Anson was up front moving fast but not too fast.  After a couple of laps I got bored and  thought I'd take the lead and up things a bit.  Within a couple of laps I eased up - then Anson goes by on the flats near the start / finish area like a freaking missile.  He keeps the power on for a good lap or so - creating nearly a half-lap gap. 

Then...  out of nowhere - he eases up to a crawl..  I catch up on the little climb and say it:  "Your employing tactifiicationalization huh?"  He looks a little puzzled and shrugs off the comment - but I'm persistent.  For maybe a minute or so we start discussing backgrounds and stuff.  He's a road biker with pretty good fitness (no shit) - and I'm a mountain biker with pretty good handling skills - that said Anson is no slouch with handling.  The concept that all roadies can't handle dirt is just silly.   That's the beauty of CX - good mix of different cyclists.

He lets me lead for awhile then with maybe two laps to go - does that pass at twice your competitors speed thing across "the flats" again - cripes he can drill it.  I up the pace a little - and really start finding the limit of these skinny CX tires carrying speed through the turns into an uphill.  Leaning into an off camber RH turn up the little climb the front tire starts making that sound tires make when they're at the limit:  Still gripping but folding over.  You know, kind of a ripping sound.  Drat.. That just cost a few seconds - I was gaining on him too.

The gap is maybe 7 seconds or so - so I keep the pressure on.  Through the woods - and across the double barriers (there was only one last week - bonus! more learning) I can see Anson not too far ahead.  Naturally across the flats towards the hike a bike climb he lays it on pretty thick.  I return the effort and then some - closing the gap a little.  The plan is to carry a shitstorm of speed into the hill to dismount maybe half-way up. Sure enough - I get to the hill and he's about 3/4 the way up. I fly up the hill as planned but haven't got enough dismount skills to hop off "just so" - and end up kersplat on the ground "just so".  Some gal at the top gets to witness all of the clumsy sputtering antics.  That's what men are on the planet for - right?

That pretty much ends it right there.  He weedles through a little singletrack techy spot - gets ahead and drills it to the finish.

Certainly was entertaining and it's great having someone there to keep you honest.  

Speaking of totally different races - I have been working on the epic fail (missed a turn at mile 48) report from last weekend at the VT50.  Every time I start thinking about that race I seem to find alcohol.  Makes it very difficult to finish.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bradbury 12 Race Report

Beginning with a simple email:  "Hey, you doin' the Bradbury 12?"  Rick: "Of course- geared solo" - reply:  "I'm thinking about it, but the VT 50 is the next weekend"....  The next day - Rick: "Let's do a two-man and give Freye a run for his money"

Rick is really confident and good looking to begin with - how could I refuse?  But just to be sure he wasn't having a man period - it seemed  prudent to double check and make certain he was truly OK with himself.  Yep, he seems intent on this team thing - after all (in his words) "there's a me in team".

After some childish back and forth, we (or maybe it was just me) settled on the name "The Freye Swatters" - so wicked clevah.

A few days before the event - there it was - the rebuttal team name "YOU GOT FREYE'D" - Andrew Freye of course and teammate (drum roll)...   Chris Gagnon.  Awe c'mon Andrew!!  Were you that intimidated??   I sure hope he was worth the fee.  You may as well have brought one of these to a paintball battle.  Sheesh.

The day before the race I headed out of work a little early.   I figured I'd have plenty of time to scope out a good spot to camp.  Being a Friday, traffic was typically slow...  After 4 hours of driving I passed Portland at 7 then headed into Freeport to find some pasta.   I came across "Amato's" which fit the bill foodwise.  Nothing extraordinary - but it was all about the carbs.. 

A quick trip over to Bradbury Mountain park and it was obvious on arrival:  This place is full.   Button popping full.  Like, no way you're gonna be able to camp anywhere in here full.  Crap.

After driving around I found the NEMBA gang - Carl mentioned he had settled in on Wednesday (??!)  After a quick discussion - it seemed I'd have to head over to  the lower lot parking across the street.  Fair 'nuff.  Pasta is pasta & sleep is sleep.  I ate up - headed over to hang with the NEMBA crew and just as I was about to leave the Rickster mysteriously emerged from the darkness - a bit less nervous knowing I was on site.  After all - our planning consisted of silly emails unrelated to planning.  Maybe coordinating multi-million dollar projects during the day renders him helpless with the easy stuff or something.  That's alright - cause I'm always calm and collected about everything.

Despite the crispy-bright moon - I slept pretty well.  A 40ยบ night will do that for you - as long as you have enough blankies.

I woke up sans alarm (the start was @ 8) made some coffee & oatmeal then headed over to the tent Bikeman had set up.  That was a pretty sweet arrangement.  Rick showed up and declared:  "You're doing the first lap" - then we tried to figure out whether to do single or double laps.  Some folks like doubles - but we opted to start out with singles.  We'd change things up if it felt better.

So..  there I was.  On the front line.  Saddled right up next to Napolean Freyenomite himself.  I chittered and chattered with folks - and seem to have not been paying attention to the instructions on who was supposed to go when.  Somewhere along the line I deduced that I was in the second wave or something.  After they yelled "GO"  I hung out until a frantic Rick yelled out:  "ARE YOU GONNA GO!!??" Listen up.  ADD hadn't even been invented when I was a kid.  Cut me some freaking slack.

I charged right outta there -ahh..  not one bit of traffic whatsoever to be concerned with.  Around the bend - and within less than a minute - I caught up and passed a few trailing riders.  I don't like leading anyways. 

Having never ridden these trails and being a little soggy - I had to find the balance between catching the hell up and not crashing.  I got through most of the field  - only to be bested by Andrew and Greg Jancaitis with a time of 44:27 - which was improved on several times later in the game.  Andrew was already almost 2 minutes ahead. 

After ending that lap I high -fived Rick and off he went.  He ripped a nice 43:29  and from there we kept at it.  So much for doubles - which wasn't a problem.  At one point Ricks dad came over and asked: "Ricky want's to keep doing single laps if that's OK with you"..   Thank goodness.  We finally found a way to communicate.  So what if it required a mediator.

One thing for sure - this 2-man team business was way easier than a solo effort.  When Rick was out, I'd down a bottle of Perpetuem (3 scoops worth) maybe a banana - and on my best lap (coincidence?) an Espresso Gel thing.  There was time to relieve yourself, chat a little then soon enough - you were up and at it.  Throughout each lap the good lines became more and more evident and the course was drying up. 

The course itself was 100% fun-ness.  Just a great sequence of single track.  Not alot of climbing except two steep rocks that made you have to work a little.  A bit rooty through the start and middle but overall a complete blast.  The end of each lap was super sweet: Log lined flow with an almost pea-stone base.

I was lucky enough to have Rick come in at 6:30 towards the end (7:00pm cut-off)- which meant the last lap was all mine.  Half-way through the lap - the lights came on.  There was extra traffic, but at the same time - folks were extra quick to move aside.  The ride itself was magic.  I don't get much night riding in except for commuting.   Scooting along between trees at night feels quite a bit faster and through the woods you caught either reflections or flickers from other riders' lights. 

As I approached the finish the sound of the crowd kept growing and growing.  Around the bend and up ahead you could see Tiki Torches and the finish line tent aglow.  There had to be a few hundred people - yelling, screaming and making a helluva racket with cowbells.  I cranked up the power to finish strong and flew into the tent.  Kids were everywhere giving high-fives.  It didn't matter who you were - you felt like a rock star.

In the end - we got "Freye'd" by a whole 11 minutes.  Not much at all when you consider that was roughly 130 miles worth of riding between us.  To see that I was actually gaining some time opposite Andrew later in the game was encouraging to say the least.

Casco Bay has tapped into a great formula:  Supreme singletrack, festive atmosphere, fast timing results, BBQ & even some live music.   Hell yeah.

And sorry - no real race pictures.  I did catch the kids race during a 45 minute "Rick Stop" (note the little guy getting nearly squashed - I've been there dude)

Speaking of kids..  If you happen to have a kid with say...  "Alot of nervous energy":  Get'm a bike.  They'll calm the eff down and who knows - might become the next big thing in cycle racing.

And finally - I'm calling it right now.  We're gettin' em next year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Landmine Classic Marathon - Race Report.

I had such high hopes..  Possibly delusional hopes -  but this course was reputed to be chock full of rooty & technical riding  - with virtually no climbing.

Couple that with the Spearfish  which was designed with endurance events in mind and it seemed as though I might have a chance for some kind of payout (5 deep for the CAT 1 / Pro field 50 mile marathon)

I'll save some drama:  In the words of Jack Skellington after realizing his aspirations were out of reach:  "Ohhh  well..."

According to some of the event coordinators turnout was a record breaker.  No surprise really.  Between the proximity to Boston, the weather and a relatively quiet weekend for events, some talent showed up on a day or two before the event.  Including the usual suspects:  Jancaitis, Hines, Bold, Petro .. Yeah,  Those guys. 

Lotsa folks.

I arrived about an hour before the 9:30 start and got a little warmup riding in.  I also found where I was parked was optimal for setting up a midpoint station.  Out came the cooler and bottle stand.  The plan was to put one bottle over at the feed station you passed on the way to the lot - then set up this station. 

Between the bottles here and there with some Heed - and 4 packs worth of Gu in a Flask - I should be all set!  Right?!  It seemed like a good plan.

At about 9:20 we all grouped together at the staging area, listened to the pre-ride announcment and then rounded the bend towards the start.  I was in maybe the 2nd or 3rd row - not too far from the front. Nowhere near my usual hiding spot at the back.

When it was go time I maintained position - then as we started passing spectators near the parking area I heard someone shout "Go Alby!!" - Not wanting to dissapoint, I throttled it and gained 4 or 5 spots before entering the single-ish track beyond the field. 

I followed Steve Segenchuck for a little ways then passed and realized he was running full rigid.  Freaking Masochist. 

The lead group wasn't too far off - so I evenly applied some more power - and within a few minutes caught up with a second group not too far behind.   At the back - Will Crissman.  Oh good - he turned out a respectable time last year.  If I can just hang with him.

We continued on through moderate terrain - the pace was hurried but not quite as insane as the lead group ahead.  At the first sorta hill a few riders slowed up - so I passed on the right.  Will returned the favor and then muscled past (SS 33X17).  He did mention that was pretty much the only hill.  Thatsa relief. 

After Will gapped me by about 10 seconds I slowly made ground and caught back up.  Will had joined up with Greg and Alec - and who were pulling at a strong  but manageable tempo.  Sweet!  I'm riding amongst these guys!  That's gotta be good!  As we made way - the terrain got progressively more techy.  Even better! 

At some point Greg lost his chain. Will and I darted past - now Alec was leading.  I forget where it happened but we were able to pass through a rough spot.  Holy @#$!!  I'm in front of Alec??  Will joined up and we discussed this improbability.  I figured Alec and Greg maybe did a 12 hour race the day before or something.

After pacing with Will - he missed a turn leading.  I was able to yell to him within 10' of the turn - but the damage was done.  Now, I was all by my lonesome.   I little ways further a spectator yelled out:  "They're about 50 seconds ahead" - who?  The leaders!  Damn.  Today could be the day I thought.  Then I realized it is stupid to think things like that so early in the game. We were like 17 miles into a 50 mile race.  Alot of stuff can happen.  

Within time it starts to happen.  I am easing up a little to save energy for later - and little by little I can hear and see Alec making ground.  Crudburgers. Where did he come from?  Oh right - it's Alec you dope.  He snacks on over spirited youngsters who try too hard at the start.  Same goes for Greg.  Won't be long.

I approach the satellite feed station and stop to fill up my water bottle - then continue on straight ahead. There are lots of people at this station and I quickly realize the course don't go this way.  So I turn around then ask:  Where does the course go?  Someone pipes up - "over there!" pointing to the left.  I head over and get cranking.  Within 5  minutes I realize I have ridden this terrain before.  Uh oh..  What to do?  Turn around?  Maybe they just change up the course as you go.  I have been in races where they do that.  So I keep going.  Oddly - no one is around.  Am I really riding this well?

As I keep riding I keep looking at my watch.  Huh.  If my calculations are correct I should be passing the midpoint around 2:15 or so.  Was the feed station the midpoint?  I am not thinking clearly at all.   To make matters worse my flask cap has gone missing.  Rather than risk losing any of the precious contents I down it all.   Big mistake.  After an hour or so going around the loop I start getting that quivering sensation that occurs when a bonk is imminent.  You're supposed to consume this gook  guck (no Charlie, I don't supplement rides with yellow skinned peoples) little by little. If it lasted then you'd just down it all and go ride for 4 hours.  Crap! Crap! Crap!  Riding devolves into a death march.

Sure enough the feed station comes back into view - and now I see clearly where things went wrong.  I ride ahead to a table - find my bottle of HEED (Thank god) and down it in about 10 seconds while belching in front of some pretty girls.  Hey, I'm happily married and stuff - who cares.

I head back to fill up my water bottle and the folks at that table say "You know you're going the wrong way right?".  I know too well - turn around and launch up the embankment outta there with enough speed to catch way more air than I really know what to do with.  Yeehaw!!  Riding when your pissed is kind of liberating.  I blast through the last 4-5 miles passing countless riders from other classes. It is amazing how much of a difference having some fuel in the tank makes.  The speed differential is rad.  I remember thinking how rad it was being passed at my first race by some Pro dude.  I wonder if they are thinking the same thing..

I pass through the start/finish line 3 hours on the money.  Based on my estimates- yeah dumbass,  you messed up.  At this point reality has finally settled in.  So I just ride it out with the intent of getting in a good workout.  May as well.  These trails are super fun anyways.

The plan is to take a right turn at the feed station and finish up my ride with the same miles as you would if you rode the course correctly.  On the way to the station the ride is as lonely as it gets.  There's like no one in this pattern.  Finally at the aid station I hook a right and head back to the finish. 

At the finish I tell Jill and some folks tabulating results that I should be disqualified for screwing up.  I head back to the car wash up and discuss with folks.  Then it dawns on me:  I have done exactly the same terrain & mileage.  Maybe I can Un-disqualify.

Right - we'll see how that goes. 

Final results should be posted soon.  Finishes I think I have correct:  Will: 5th / Alec: 4th / Jonny: 3rd / Gregory: 2nd and first - I'm not really sure.

Damn, damn, damn.  

That won't happen again - at least at the Landmine.

The Landmine is a fun, fun course.  In spots the flow is too sweet - think swoopy up and downhill terrain that goes 8' at a time.  Whee!! 

When I got home - the usual post-race meal, Well, not quite.  I changed the brew up a little - have to support my VT peeps.

T-Bones - On sale!

Yep - it's prit'near fall.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's been three days

Burnout towards the end of MTB season?  No chance.  Get me outta the stinkin' car.

I've gone three days without riding.  Anxiety is high, weight is up and HR impossibly low.

Tommorow's commute can't come soon enough.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Psst.. I got me a CX bike.. Salsa Chili Con-Crosso semi review & first ride

Back in February I ordered the Salsa Chili Con Crosso through Bikeman as I plan on doing some CX racing starting this season.  It finally came around last week and was delivered by my mother in law to try and save on shipping - (Thanks Cynth!)

 As much as I'd like to be cool enough not to care about the color - it was nice to see it wasn't that blah silver color they offered last year.  Instead a nice black base - with blue markings.  It won't match my Bikeman kit though. Bummer.

First impressions - wow.  It's very nicely built.  The joints are smooth - nearly Cannondale Aluminum frame smooth.  I did the old 'ping' test for tone variance then checked the spokes with a tensionmeter.  The wheelset (DT Swiss 450's) was built very uniform  - good sign.  The brakes are Avid Shorty Cantilevers - definately old tech - but with some proper toe-in / alignment and balanced tension  they work plenty well.  Forks: some nice carbon work here- very smooth - no shuddering etc when braking.  Seat: WTB Silverado - I usually ride the WTB Rocket - this one is a little skinnier & longer.   We'll find out soon enough how it is for longer rides.

I built up the bike in a couple of evenings and figured out how the SRAM double-tap shifting works.  I like it.  Shifting is crisp - and you might even be able to wear clumsy gloves with these and still shift.  Shimano brifters with their two-lever system can be nearly impossible to shift with bulky gloves.  I also like that there is no front derailleur - there is plenty of range available with the 42 chainring  / 11-28 cassette. 

An additional bonus:  Don't like gears?  No problem - swap out the dropout hardware at the rear and run it single speed.  Cool.  Always wanted to try single speed and I just so happen to have a single speed wheelset.

Today I went out for a shakedown ride starting at the house.  Destination:  George Washington Management area - the same place I rode several times last winter on the snow bike.  I thought it'd be interesting to check out the trails in summer mode.

The Con-Crosso comes stock with Clement "LAS" tires.  They look to be suitable for dry hard courses - and worked well on the road-ride to the entrance.  The ride on the road was amazingly comfortable - that's in part due to the width of the tires.  The carbon fork and engineering that goes into the flattened seat and chain stays really smooth things out as well.   My Salsa Vaya commuter isn't quite this smooth  running WTB Terrainasaurus tires (32's).  That says something right there - maybe it's the tires, maybe not.

Before getting to GW Management  - I took a ride up Jackson Schoolhouse Rd.  There are some bony little singletrack trails aways in.  After riding the trails for 25 minutes or so through the woods I accepted that there was just too much debris on the trails after Tropical Storm Irene to risk damaging the drive train.  Sure enough a twig got caught up under my chain at the chainring and jammed up into the Pauls Keeper.  To think I had contemplated a "no-tools" ride.  That'd have been the end of the ride right there. 

Fallen trees everywhere.  Plenty of opportunity for dismount / shouldering practice out here.  

I freed up the chain, re-adjusted the keeper and headed back out towards the real destination.

When I got into the management area they had gates up in several locations.  Huh..  Didn't have those last winter.  Riding in aways there were people camping all over the place.  Didn't have those either.  But what they did have were some really nice dirt roads to cruise on. 

Some seasonal comparison pics:

Winter from the parking lot


Trail in the winter

Same general location ..

And finally - the beach.

A little different today.

Consensus: She's a keeper. Often you'll hear folks praise CX bikes for versatility.   No doubt, the Con Crosso is pretty versatile.  That said - it doesn't have a plethora of braze-ons for racks fenders etc like several other Salsa products.  It's meant for racing - and you can bet she'll be properly fed.  On the other hand - it rides sooooo smooth!!  At the risk of offending the hardcore CX population... umm..  I kinda want to use it for commuting. 

Bonus shot from Pulaski (right around the corner from GW Management):  Some pretty mossy singly-track.  Who doesn't like pretty mossy singly-track??

Back home - with a proper coating of dust.  Soon it'll be MUD!! & BEER!! & WAFFLES!!!