Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ah, what a great day at work. I got a van ride up to the Trillium Lodge to help unload a dishwasher, then hopped on a borrowed coiler (i know i linked to a coilair and not a coiler. shoot me.) and rode down the mountain to town.

I made my way down the pavement and turned off onto a a steep rocky gravel road. The full suspension was super fun on the downhill. At the bottom the trail flattened out and ran parallel to some railroad tracks. Off in the distance, I saw a dog walking towards me.

"wow. thats a really large, muscular dog..." I thought

"Oh shit. That's a bear"

I got off my bike very slowly, turned around, and started riding away while humming a tune. As soon as I was out off sight from the bear I started to hammer up back up the mountain. Riding a geared full suspension is hard work. Damn it was hard. I think I could have climbed two mountains on my single speed with the calories I expended. Maybe I'm just not used to spinning in the granny ring.

At the top of the mountain I realized that I had made a very wrong turn. I should not have been on that road at all, and if I would have continued on it, I would have gotten farther and farther away from town. So the bear actually saved me from getting lost.

I have packing, laundering, and bottle washing to do to prep for my morning departure. So off I go.

I'm going to try to update everyday with pictures of the trip. Saturday is the big day. Hooo boy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

toot toot, i hear the shoe train a commin'

Its finally time to retire my old'e Shimano shoes. The soles were delaminating, I had sewn the velcro strips back together twice, and honestly I can't imagine that they were helping me get power to the pedals.

Enter the northwave raptor (and no nothwave, no link for you until i get free shoes)
From Drop Box
100% psick and in matching tenderfoot colors. huzzah.

My friends (i use that word extremely loosely. im nothing more than a number to them. anyhoo.) at backcountry outlet.com floated me a super secret pro 50% off coupon that they only give to people who sign up for their free news letter. I took the opportunity to order these little devils. (they actually didn't even ask for my coupon code at check out. that makes me feel a little less special.)

The shoes are much stiffer than my old ones, but more importantly, they have a clicky buckle. Ever since seeing photographs of the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth rock, I have wanted clicky buckles on my shoes. And now I have them (im hoping that this will lead to a massive increase in riding speed.)

Unfortunately, Northwave provides an insole with these shoes that is nothing more than a cruel joke. It's thinner than a saltine cracker. Until I can find a decent footbed, I put my old Shimano insoles in on top of the Northwave ones. So far so good.

My only other gripe with the shoes is the rubber on the tread. I can't wrap my head around why a cycling shoe maker wouldn't use a soft hiking sole. The zytel on the Northwaves is not terrible, but it has room for improvement. I guess I should be thankful that it isn't just a nylon plate with a couple token patches of black stuff like pearl izzume uses on their racing shoes.

Overall I'm quite happy with my new kicks. Hopefully the added stiffness will help during the multiple massive climbs of the 101.

I just stumbled across this blog about riding a 'scoot.' Apparently, its a big deal for this guy to ride a motorized scooter to work in slightly chilly weather. I wonder if scooter guys would find me as weird as I find them.

Nah. Not possible.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

101 approaches

Two more days of work until I leave for the 101. I can't wait.

The lady bear and I are heading to sunny Philadelphia on Wednesday to stay with some friends. We're going to a show Thursday night, after which I'm going to book it back to my gracious host's residence and try to get as much sleep as possible. We'll make the trip out to Coburn on Friday morning and set up camp, and I'll try to sleep some more.

The grumbler is staying home for this race, because the lady bear can't drive a stick (can a stick be driven? it can't in my opinion. she can't shift a manual transmission. that's what i really mean), and I'm anticipating that after racing 100 miles, I will not be capable of driving anything.

My goal for this race is to place in the top quarter overall. (of course in the land of gilled water bunnys and lumberjacking bovines my goal is to win. but we'll stick to reality) I think that a top 25% finish is an attainable goal as long as I keep eating. I definitely cannot let my self start to run out of fuel this time. The newman-O's and brown rice syrup are on the ready.

After some digging I think I found the correct elevation profile for the course:
From Drop Box
There's gona be some hills. I can feel it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


From Drop Box
You gotta love the sock mud line.

10 days left until the Wilderness 101. Holy shite. That came fast.

I rode around the general area of Hidden Valley yesterday, and some how popped out of the woods into a boyscout reserve. It was a bit strange. (sorry for that link. the website is very obnoxious)

I've been using some brown rice syrup in gel flasks as a cheap alternative to real gel, and its not to shabby. The taste and nutritional value is basically the same, and the cost is about 1/3rd. I just put a little water in it, shake it up, and its good to go. Hopefully it will save me from an sudden death by lack of fuel at the 101.

And with no relevance to the above, my co workers bike:
From Drop Box
Oh yes, its glowing. Outstanding.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

turdsday update

I've been putting in a caboodle of time since my lack luster performance at the shate shamps. On Tuesday I did a 60 mile road ride on the poo poo thunder. I would include a shinny 'map my ride' map, but the interwebs are being to slow. I guess I'll have to just describe it with words.

How archaic.

I started in the home base of Greensburg and took a windy road out to a tiny little community that no ones ever heard of. Then I road over a really, really big hill, ate a banana, and spun my brains out down the other side. I thought I was done with the really big hill, but I wasn't, so I went up some more. Then I took a highway out to Speedgoat (good group o' guys), picked up some gel flasks, and road home on another highway. Road riding is the bomb! Woot! Lets pave the whole world!

Yesterday I did some mountain riding up at 7 springs, which was great. I was attempting to find the 24 hour race course, and I failed. But that place does have some fantastic XC trails. Big rocks, tons of obstacles, and just the right amount of smooth dirt in between. But as I rode, the lady bear was waiting at home with a surprise dinner. That I just happened to be two hours late for.

Needless to say, I felt like a giant meat bag. In the worst way. (I'm still real sorry)

Today I dug out the unicycle and putsed (putzed? putsted?) around for a few minutes before work. While at work, a lady and her daughter came in with two bikes that had been jettisoned from the rear of her SUV while traveling at highway speeds. They weren't in good shape. "How quick could you fix them? We're meeting someone then riding 70 miles." "Uh...half an hour?" Doh.

I'm a poor guesstimater of time.

I set to work on the damaged wheels, and I was doing something to one bike on the floor, when I stood up suddenly. Into an overhanging tandem. I felt the back of my head, and when I looked at my hand, it was covered in blood. "Uhhh... you better get a bandaid for your head..." shuddered the daughter. "don't look at it if its making you queasy." I replied, and went back to work on the bikes.

All of a sudden bike maintenance was giving me a huge headache. No idea why.

After my head stopped gushing blood and I got off work, I rode at hidden valley. I hit the trails for about 45 minutes, then practiced my cornering in a gravel parking lot while attempting to catch those little floaty things dandelions give off. (I'm sure I could look up what they're called. But I'm not going to.) After the ride I hit the computer hard and wrote about how stupid road riding is. Then I gave an account of my adventure at 7 springs and feelings of meatbaggieness. Afterwards, I bent the collective minds of the five people reading this blog and told them about what they read before in a way that made it seem like something new. Woah.

I think that self inflicted blow to the head made me a little grumpy. Growls.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WV State Championships

After my pre-race tortellinis and bathroom runs, I lined up in the front row on the start line, next to another guy on a one9 with a "west virgina unit. vaginas are cool." sticker covering his toptube. Classy. where can i get one?
From Drop Box
start lines are exciting!

The start was a fast 100 meter section of dirt road that turned off into a little ditch and onto the trail. When the man with the mouth shouted "Go!" I instantaneously forgot how to clip into my pedals. I spent the first minutes of the race desperately trying to get my right foot to perform a simple motion that it had done roughly 5302 times previously.

But when we hit the trail, by some miracle, I was still in a good position. The beginning miles of the race were smooth and flowy, with one deep, black, fetid puddle. Even though the water in that thing was absolutely revolting, it felt rather refreshing to splash through it. I was still passing riders at this point in the race and before long I caught up to Benji Klimas, who was the first SS at that point.

I was riding decently on the smooth stuff, but by the forth mile I could already tell that I was lacking the horse(pony?)power that I usually have. I was struggling when the trail turned uphill, loosing some ground on the flat, and staying in the saddle and bashing into every rock I could find. About 30 minutes in, we hit the only gravel climb on the course, and Benji stared to pull away from me. Then another SS blew by both of us like we were standing still. I hardly ever get passed on climbs. I knew I was in for a tough 2 more hours.

I stuck with Benji through the end of the first 6 mile lap, and for about 3/4 of the first of two 12 mile laps, we traded places back and forth. At one point I attempted to break away from him, but my glorious attack was halted when I hit a logging road and didn't know which way to turn. He went by and we turned down the road, towards some pink flagging. The next descent was ridiculously sloppy in comparison to the rest of the course, but it was nothing compared to what we would soon hit.

At the bottom of the grade, we started an accent to the craziest part of any course I've ever ridden. Moon rocks was nuts. In the most rotten, worm eaten, walnutty kind of way. I consider myself a good rider in slow rocky sections, but there was no way I was going to get through that thing. The slabs of rock were steep, deteriorating limestone, with huge rim swallowing rain ruts every few feet. Given a few hours to work and rework the section, I'm confident that I could have eventually cleared it, but in the race it was just faster to push. So push we did, and even then, the ruts were trying to eat my wheels and feet.

Benji got back on his bike a few seconds before me when we exited the rocks, and before I knew it, he was gone. Then all of a sudden I cracked. My legs felt like lead, and I could hardly make it up the little climbs. To make matters worse, the course after moon rocks was real technical and rocky. I was passed. Then passed again. I was friggin tired.

On the only big decent, I realized that I had made a big boo boo setting up my new fork. All day it felt super soft and power sucking on the uphills, but I just figured that was the name of the game for suspension. But the rocks reminded me that I did not have enough pressure in the damn thing. I was blowing through the travel so quickly that I could have sworn I was riding rigid again. Shite. Another SS passed me.

I rolled through the start area and grabbed a bottle from my friend then I headed out for the last lap. I was really feeling like a piece of dried meat. 2 miles into the lap I heard someone mutter "Ok time to go." Gunner shot by me. I think he was only the second geared guy to go by me. Conveniently, everyone else was a place displacing single speed.
I was by myself when I walked across moon rocks. At this point my concentration was slipping and I was loosing the race state of mind. I climbed up an area that looked alot like Laural Mountain, and was passed by another SS'er who made sure to yell "later!" Thanks for that bro. I rolled down the big rocky downhill again, and I knew 100% for sure that I screwed up putting the pressure in my fork. Another SS went around.

I climbed up the loose gravel hill in 7th place, where 12 miles ago I had been tied for 2nd. It was a little bit disheartening. But the end was near. I saw a rider ahead and I gunned it to pass him. It turned out he was a rather portly sport guy, but I could not have cared less. Behind me I heard someone gaining ground, and I really gave what little I had left to hold him off. And I did. By 15 seconds. The last downhill to the finish had a great little jump, and I gave it a little push to get some massive air. (maybe a foot. or two.) And I was done. Results.

From Drop Box

7th SS, 18th out of 56 overall.

I felt like crap for the duration of the race. But I really shouldn't complain, because I was out doing what I love to do for 2 hours and 45 minutes on a fantastic course.

And hell, if I would have raced junior expert I would have won by 14 minutes. I wanted better than a 7th place, but as a guy reminded me while I was packing up the grumbler, at the ripe old age of 18, I'm at least 10 years out from my endurance peak. There's a lot more racing to be done. I'll get there.
From Drop Box

Sunday, July 12, 2009

7th SS at the state champs. I'll try to get a report up tomorrow. oi.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

lost meh crag

Yesterday I took the day off from riding to do a little cross training. (by taking the day off i mean that i did a hill workout in the morning) A few amigos and I grumbled out to the Lost Crag in Dunbar, PA to climb the rocks. The crag is hidden far in the woods and requires a 30 minute hike to access. Unfortunately, the lady bear decided to wear some positively un-trail-worthy “trail shoes,” and was plagued with blisters for the duration of the day.

From My Pictures

"aw geez ah geez i hope i don't rip my pants"

I think I should probably stick to mountain biking, at least until I climb as well as this bro:

From My Pictures

From My Pictures
The length of time that he was able to stand on that ledge without making any vertical progress was astounding. It truly was a sight to behold.

We had a good time heckling and poking each other with sticks. And no one died, so it’s all in good fun.

I’m starting to get real excited for the WV State Champs. Incidentally, the rock climbing may have been good practice for the race course:

Hells yeah that's a big rock. Its a little bit different than the soggy meadow I was expecting from looking at the pictures from last year. I couldn't be happier.

Saddly I'm not going to be able to get out there on Saturday to do the pre-ride thing, but since the race is so close (2.5 hours) maybe I'll be able to check out some of the course in the morning. I've been feeling really good on my rides lately, and with my new cycle mounted pogo stick I should be able to descend with some speed. Huzzah.

I need to start adhering to a regular blogging schedule at some point. I never write in the morning, so I'm thinking Sunday night to Thursday night. A 'read about today tomorrow' kind of deal.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

i hear the squishing of water filled boots

I guess its time time to let the cat out of its pajamas.

My bike used to look like this:
From 2009 Racing Season

Now it looks like this:
From 2009 Racing Season

I've been riding around with a squishy thing on the front of my cycle.

And I likes it.

I've been riding and racing rigid for almost exactly one year. And because that one year was my first year of serious (i use that term loosely) riding, I really have not known anything else. So I have learned everything I know about mountain biking on a rigid SS. I've learned to keep traction out of the saddle, pick good lines, float over rocks, and stay loose. If I failed to do any of those things, my bike would kick my ass.

Now that I'm able to translate those skills to a bike with suspension, I have gained a hogshead of speed. And I don't even know what form of measurement a hogshead is.

I used to be terrible at riding downhill. But the other day, on a ride after work I was bombing down a rock strew slope at over 30mph. I passed a guy on a full suspension. That would have never, ever, ever happened with my old steel cromoto grande up front.

I rode the race course at Apollo, PA today in 50 minutes, without breaking a sweat. That was stop and start riding to boot, because I had to constantly wait for my velocially challenged riding partner. My best time on the rigid was 46 minutes.

Suspension is so much faster and more enjoyable than rigid was. I can't wait to see how it works in a race. And I won't have to wait long.

WV state champs are on Sunday. Hopefully I'll be able to get out on Saturday and pre-ride the course. It looks like every picture from last year was taken in a field, but I'm going to assume that the rest of the course is a little more technical than a bumpy meadow.

Lastly and most sadly, it seems I'm so fast that I've burned a hole through my shorts.
From 2009 Racing Season

Thursday, July 2, 2009

commuting fail

The commute to work half failed yesterday. I take that back, the commute to was successful, it was the ride home that failed.

The ride in was 26 miles and took me 1:45 hrs. It was a ton of climbing and descending, and I definitely felt it on the fixed gear. Every time the brim of my cap flopped into my eyes going downhill, I could tell that I had hit 40mph. Good times.

I was forced to change my route at the half way point. One innocent looking section of connecting fireroad turned out to be a steep trail covered in mud. Needless to say, I didn't feel like attempting a ride up it on a bike with 32c tires.

The Poo Poo Thunder II did its job, but its going to need a few tweaks. The tires I'm running are way to small for wet fire roads, I think I need at least a 40c. I'm geared entirely to high for the mountains around here. I can ride them with a 39X14, but its much harder than it need be. Crank brothers egg beaters are downright scary on a fixed gear when spinning a high rpm downhill. My feet did not feel secure. I'll need to find some full coverage fenders at some point because the clip-on mountain fenders I have don't fit. Other than those set up gripes, I absolutely love the bike. It's light, strong, and handles better than anything else I've ridden.

Onward to the failure.

It looked like it was going to storm when I got off work at 6:00, and with 1500 feet more climbing on the way home, it was probably going to be dark before I got back to the townhouse. So a coworker graciously offered me a ride in return for an ice cream cone. I accepted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a new commute

I took the Poo Poo Thunder II on its maiden voyage yesterday, and everything checks out. It handles much nicer than the decrepit green thing, and even though its a fairly heavy frame, its still almost two pounds lighter than the old bike. I approve.

This morning I got my new commute to work all mapped out. It looks a something like this:

Actually it looks exactly like that. 26 miles and about 1500 feet of climbing on the way to, 3000 feet up on the way back. I'm pretty damn excited. Its really been bugging me that I've had to drive so much this summer but Odin willing, the grumbler should be able to get a little break now. I hate burning gas. I really really do.

If I ride to work everyday, I'll be able to put in about 250 miles a week, plus what I do on the mountain bike. That should prepare the legs for the coming endurance events.

I need to get packed up and ready to head for the mountains. I'm going to try to shoot some pictures of the scenic (i hope) commute tomorrow to put on the knobby pages.