Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shannock Valley Festival ('10)

This past Sunday, I went to watch my lady friend Colleen do a 15k trail run at Yellow Creek State Park. Her race was in the morning, so I figured that we would have enough time to make it to the Shannok Valley Bike the Wilds race. Colleen crushed the trail race with a 7th overall, and victory among the women.

After she had eaten a few cups of granola, I asked "So, you wanna try to make it to that mountain bike race so that I can be the firstiest pro on east coast?

"Absolutely." she replied. I ran through the rain to the Grumbler and got everything packed up. Colleen hopped in when was finished with her shower, and I shifted into gear. Google maps said that the race in Rural Valley (middle of fucking no where) was 45 minutes away from Yellow Creek park. It was 10:15, so we had exactly 45 minutes to make the 11:00 start. 

Although it's easy to beat Google trip estimations in most cars, the Grumbler is not the fastest vehicle on the road. I ripped out of the park and nailed the throttle to blast up to 65 mph. I was still optimistic that we could make it.

I ate a pb&honey sandwich in route. We made the turn off of the hi-way, and did my best to keep the Grumbler planted on the road through all the sharp corners. I was really pushing it.

A few minutes later, we hit a closed road. It said "Open to local traffic only." Knowing that the detour would be slow, I decided to chance it and head down the closed road. I figured that being from PA made us local enough. 

In three miles I skidded to a stop at a half demolished bridge. I briefly considered jumping the river and landing the Grumbler on the opposite bank, but decided against it since I was carrying bikes on the back. 

There were fifteen minutes to go until the race, and I was following a pickup down a back road on the detour at 20mph. I wanted to slay the meandering red neck as we poked along down the winding road. 

With 5 minutes until the start we hit the last hi-way before Rural Valley. The town was supposed to be two miles down the road. I turned right and gunned it. 

6 miles later, I started to think that we had gone the wrong way. I turned back. When we got back to where I had turned, I realized that the detour had popped me out right where I needed to be. All I needed to do was go straight across the street. It was now 11:10. Dammit. I held out some hope that the race start would be delayed.

We rolled into the parking lot at 11:15. A couple of Pepsi signs hung from the side of white EZ Ups and flapped in the breeze. The parking lot was entirely deserted. I pulled into the middle of the lot. Rain was falling heavily. I listened to the flop flop of windshield wipers.

"Shit. Where the hell is everybody? I could swear the website said the race was on the 24th." I said.

Colleen looked at me. "Today's the 25th."


WV State Championships ('10)

As soon as I jumped into Don Power's cute little white Mazda, the complaining started. "My nose is stuffy. Waaa. It's so stuffly. Waahaa." He sniffled and snuffled the rest of the way to Davis.

I was excited, hoping to burn some fast laps around the course. Last year the race was the first time I had used a suspension fork, and I massively fudged up the settings. The fork was diving and bottoming out the whole race. I finished 7th in SS, my worst place that year.

When we entered the old western looking little town, Don was ready to fall asleep. We checked the medication he had taken that morning. I read the warning on the back of the box "May cause severe drowsiness. Do not take and operate machinery."

Since a bicycle is machinery, we headed to the Shop N' Shave at the end of town to counter medicate. Don went for the drug section and tried to find the cough medicine that had the ingredient used in meth. With dismay, we realized that it was not probably sold over the counter anymore. He settled for some daytime stuffy nose cure and a couple mini Red Bull shots.

We did a shortened lap of the course with Brad to warm up. I was surprised how bumpy it was. The rocks were expected, but I didn't remember the dirt being so rough. It seemed like everywhere there was a chunk, there was also a hole. The bump/hole/ground level terrain gave the course two dimensions of jarringness. 

I lined up in some tall grass next to Gunnar and waited for the race to start. Hands went up, numbers counted down, then we went. The start was fast, and once we were off the first dirt road and onto the course I was about five riders back. 

Places to pass were sparse, so I made fast moves when I could. Fifteen minutes in, I took the lead, and I was feeling great. I thought it was my day to crush it.

Five minutes later, the bumps really started to hurt. Jeremy Rowand was breathing down my neck, so I moved over to let him and someone else blow by. I went backwards for the rest of the day. 

Gunnar caught back up to me and I followed him for most of the second lap. I knew the moon rocks section was approaching. There's only one line through the sandy rain rutted rock, and it's almost impossible to find without pre-riding the section. I hoped that I could keep Gunnar in sight long enough to feed off of his wisdom and make it over the slab. 

I couldn't. Gunnar rode away while I tried to hike on the rock.
Damn locals and their lines.

Joey Riddle cruised passed me and made a smart comment that "Bikes are for riding." 

"Oh really? Is that what they're for? That's so funny. I didn't even know it." I replied in annoyance.

The rest of the day didn't get any better. I had put some tri flow on the sanctions of my fork to lube it up before the race, and it was completely worn off. Now the stupid fork wouldn't move. I squished it up and down and cursed its shittyness. 

Eventually I stopped to let air out of the positive chamber. I lost a few minutes unscrewing the top cap and looking around for a twig to depress the schrader valve. It didn't help. The seals on the fork were screwed many races ago, and now it was catching up to me. I felt like a total turd. 

Morgan Miller caught me before the third lap, and we traded places until we hit moon rocks again. I foolishly led into the section, and not knowing the line, I started to hike. Morgan knew where to go. He rode away from me. 

I made up some ground on the following climbs, and I was going hard to try to catch him. Unfortunately, every time we hit a downhill, I sucked. And I was missing a little spring from the front of my bike. He pulled away.

At the top of a rise I cracked my pedal into a rock, snapping off one of the wings. My foot wouldn't stay clipped in anymore. It was the final nail.

I finished the race about two minutes back from Morgan, and was the 2nd SS. I felt like garbage, and I was pissed at how poorly I had maintained my Reba. It certainly bit me in the ass.

The next day, I went on the SRAM website and found some videos that allowed me to rebuild the fork. When I pulled it apart, there was hardly any oil in it. I changed the seals, filled it with some fresh oil, and put it back together. It feels awesome now. I wish I would have done that work a few races ago. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lil Moe's and Valley Falls ('10)

It's been a while since I updated this propaganda machine. Whoops.

Two weekends ago, I did the WVMBA race at Lil Moes place. I had a good start, but it was painful to ride fast. My cross country speed felt toasted by all the endurance racing in June. I started to lose it as soon as we hit the first hill.

On the middle of the course I was following Joey Riddle up a steep rock pile. Without warning, he put a foot down. In an effort to swerve around him, I rammed my bar end into his ass. Impacting his posterior sapped all my momentum and made me dismount as well. Morgan Miller and Nate Annon got around both of us, and I didn't have the energy to go with them.

I rode the rest of the twisty lap and kept falling back until Rob Loher caught me. He gave me a little encouragement, and I reeled Nate back in on a flat section down by the river. I closed the gap on Morgan, 
but I was never able to catch him. He was killing it on all the rocky downhills.

Finishing 2nd in SS that race lit a fire under my ass. I was still in a funk from 100 miles pulverized cow shit at Mohican and my crash at Stoopid 50. I hadn’t been riding hard enough to be competitive in an XC race. For the rest of the week, I rode Laurel Mountain and Ohiopyle as fast as I could, trying to get some speed back.

I also installed a new drive train:
hooray for ano

I felt great going into the race at Valley Falls last Sunday. The race started up a huge fire road climb. I led most of the way up the hill, but near the end the trail pitched way up. My legs felt like they were going to pop out of their sockets, so I decided to get off and hike. Nate passed me, and in 75 feet he was awarded $50. I missed the pre-race meeting, so I didn’t know about the money. Not saying I would have been able to get up the hill any faster had I known, but I might have knocked Nate off his bike.  

The rest of the course was steeper than the first part. I had to give up on riding most of the hills and hike. The descents were just as crazy, with steep and loose dirt leading into off-camber rooted switch backs. I was almost riding a nose wheelie to get around them. A few geared guys passed me in the remaining two laps, but I didn’t see any other single speeds. I finished out the race and won the category. It was by far the steepest race I’ve ever ridden. Being the steepest course in West Virginia is no small feat. 

This coming weekend is the WV State Championships and Davis. After that, the Wilderness 101 is only two weeks away. If I get lost in this 100 miler again, I will kill the first thing I see when I re-locate the course.

Following the 101, I only have a few days before I head out to Colorady land. I’m planning on hitting a Mountain States Cup race in Keystone, rolling over to Moab, and then heading east to Boulder to hang out with Samwise Morrison for a few days. Hopefully by the 22nd I’ll be comfortable enough with the altitude to not die in Breck.

Plans are starting to come together for the big trip, but I’m still in the market for a co-driver. An Official Knobby Meats Racing Conglomerate Co- Pilot and Foot Washer application will be forthcoming.