Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's finally time to go. I'm heading to Breckenridge today for check in. The race starts tomorrow morning and ends next Friday.

I'll be updating stuff here and blogging on This is gonna be sweet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mary Jane Circuit '10

Winter Park, CO sits at 9,000 feet. The Mary Jane Circuit started at 10,000 feet. There's not a lot of air to race a bike up there.

Sam and I left had to leave super early in the morning to make the 10 am start. I beat on the steering wheel as the Grumbler struggled to maintain 45 mph on the 75mph road. An old sedan towing a boat blew past us.

We started the climb up into the mountains from Boulder.

After registration, we headed back to the parking lot to change. I felt out of breath after climbing the stairs. I spun back down to the resort with a girl single speeder. She asked what gear I was using, and after I told her 38x20 and cheerfully added that I was from PA, she looked at me like I was an unusually stupid piece of dirt. "Well. I think you're going to regret that." she said.

Sam and I hopped on the lift to ride up to the mountain top. The race was three four mile loops on the summit of the mountain, starting at 10,000 feet and climbing up to 11,000 each lap. After the third lap, it was a Super D to the finish with almost 8 miles of ripping fast descents.

The Pro Men started two minutes ahead of the Single Speeds. We stood on the line, then were off up the first fire road. I went hard, but kept myself in check because I knew that I wouldn't be able to recover if I blew up at the elevation. I went into the woods in forth.

The course reminded me of home with lots of roots and rocks on the single track sections. I followed the guys in front of me down the hill, then passed one of the fire road climb up to the top. The climb switched back to rough single track and steadily wound towards the top of the mountain. The climbing wasn't too steep, so I felt like I was able to recover going up the hill.

I made my move on the single track climb on the second lap, and pedaled into first. I kept griding up the hill and tried to open up a gap. On the third lap I started to run into traffic from the back of the pro/open field and I passed as many riders as I could. I was feeling good, so I just kept riding at a nice steady hundred miler pace.

From what I had seen earlier, the single speeder behind me was a good descender. This was his home terrain, so I figured he would put some time into me on the 30ish minute downhill. I tried to stay smooth through all the banked turns and brake stutter bumps.

The trail dumped me onto a fire road and a geared guy blasted past me almost immediately. I gave it everything to jump on his wheel. I held the pace for a few minutes before he popped me off. The road turned up, and climbed half way back up the mountain.

The trail got rougher and my hands started to get tired from the long bumpy downhill. I noticed the 2nd place guy right behind me, and really hit it to stay ahead of him. I sprinted the rest of the way down the hill and through the finish.

I stood next to the finish coughing. My nose felt like it was bleeding and my lungs were killing me. I've never had my respiratory parts hurt like that. The 2nd SS guy came across the line and we gave each other some congratulations. I looked at the little Master's National Champion sticker on his bike, then started hacking some more.

After I stopped feeling like death, Sam and I decided to take advantage of our lift tickets and get some more downhill runs in.

We were ripping down the hill when I heard a loud pop, Sam's front tire shot out of his Lefty, flew almost 15 feet into the air, he ragdolled down the hill, rolled a few times, then got back on his feet and ran. I skidded to a stop, looked at his naked front wheel, tire folded up on the trail, and started laughing hysterically. That might not have been the nicest thing to do.

A few armored downhillers stopped as they went passed, and I'm sure they were making fun of the lycra clad XC kids when they got down to the bottom of the mountain. We walked down the hill to a fire road and caught a van ride back. It was the craziest crash I've ever seen.

Sam caressed the frame to check for cracks when we got back to Boulder. Unsurprisingly, there was one right under the head tube. Whoops. Silly crabon fiber.

The riding was done for the day, so we sat around under a big tent waiting for awards. A few hours later, they started them.

Win! And I'll never wear a t-shirt under my jersey again because I think it makes me look fat.

Every class was awarded the same thing:

I'll risk sounding jaded. Winning a little medal is lame.

This is what the glass should have been filled with:

Two dollars and a bottle cap was all I had on hand for demonstration purposes, but it would have been nice to at least win my $37 entry fee back.

Or they could have given us oats. I can eat oats. I can't eat a medal.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Drive to Colorado Part Deux

After the Super D, Tim and I drove back to Indianapolis to fetch his silly little clown car. We stopped at Chipotle to grab some giant burritos, he hit on the cash register girl, then we headed back out onto I70. It was already dark.

We drove through the night, and it got hotter as we went west. When we hit Misery around 2am, it was already 90 degrees.

We napped at a rest stop, but after an hour of sitting in the Grumbler, I was drenched in sweat. I woke Tim up and suggested that we press on. As the sun was coming up, we drove into Kansas and decided it would be a good time to make breakfast and poop in a corn field.

The sunrise looked innocent enough.

I turned on the radio to listen to some twangy country stations. It was a nice morning, but the people talking through my dashboard were already issuing high heat warnings, with temperatures of 105 and a heat index of 110 to 120. I took some pictures of the big wind farms while I listened to the ballad of a pissed-off trailer girl. She sang about shooting off her man's dick.

By noon I was fighting to stay awake. We had been driving since 10pm the previous day, and it felt like it was 130 degrees in the un-insulated Grumbler. I tried to pour a big jug of water on myself to cool off, but it was also 130 degrees. It burned my chest.

Kansas had flattened out, and there was nothing but corn. I wanted to light the state on fire so that I had something to look at while we drove. But that would have just made it hotter. I'm convinced that Kansas is hell. I can't believe people actually live there.

Kansas went on and on and on forever. Finally, after six of the most miserable hours of my life, we crossed the line into Colorado. And for two more hours, it looked exactly like Kansas. Fug.

But we started to climb up, and there was scenery again.

I was really excited, but I still couldn't stay awake. I stuck my head out the window. My hat was torn off my head. Damn it. I pulled the Grumbler off the road, and ran up and down a stretch of 70 looking for the poor sweat stained thing.

It was gone. I gave up and sadly went back to the Grumbler. When I turned around to grab a bottle of water, I saw the hat behind my seat. It had blown inside.

I drove off again, swerving occasionally as I succumbed to fatigue and dehydration. The speed limit went up to 75 and Colorado people ripped by me with their foot to the floor. I could smell coolant inside the cab, and my leg was getting cooked next to the gas pedal. Then my idiot light went off. I called Tim, and we pulled over. We were only 35 miles from Denver.

I popped the hood, and steam started gushing. Tim grabbed a rag, and quickly twisted the rad cap off. The radiator vomited everything in a boiling green gush. When it stopped spewing, we filled it with new water and took off again.

We finally hit Denver, and cruised another few miles into Boulder. An hour or so after we pulled into Sam's house, we grabbed our bikes and rode up one of the mountains outside of town.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sub 9 Super D and Part 1 of the Drive to Colorado Land

I'm happy to report that the Grumbler made it within 30 miles of Denver before overheating. However, I overheated 200 miles earlier, back in soul crushing plains of Kansas. More on that later.

Tim Carson and I started the drive to the rockies last Thursday. We did a relativity short 7 hour leg to Indianapolis. A little outside of the city, Sally Collins let us crash at her house. After a fine sleep on a comfortable couch we stocked up on some groceries. Tim forced his phone number on some poor girl while we checked out. Certain that she would call soon, an excited little Tim and I headed down to Brown County State Park for the Sub 9 Super D on Sunday.

When we got to the park, I was shocked. There were hills. Steep hills. I was under the impression that Indiana was completely flat, but Brown County looked a lot like West Virginia.

I followed Carson out onto the trails. He took off, going as hard as he could. The trail system was awesome. Perfectly tacky dirt, long down hills, and banked corners. It was similar to Raystown Lake back in PA, only faster because there were fewer rollers. We were having a blast, and ripped around the park for almost three hours before heading back to Sally's RV for dinner.

On Saturday, I decided it was time to fix the creak that had been worsening in my bottom bracket. My bike rack worked great as a stand, and Tim and I ripped the dirty bb apart behind the Grumbler.

My eccentric bottom bracket was covered in dirt, and full of scars from where the set screws had dug into the metal. I wiped it clean and filed down some burs.

Unfortunately, the non dive side bearing on my bb was super gritty feeling. With no other option, I put it back in the bike.

A few minutes later, Sally and her friend Pauly came by the campsite to pick us up. We drove out to their friend Rob's house to do some work. Rob has been sick, so Sally organized a party to help pull weeds and do other things around the house that hadn't been taken care of in a while. Tim and I cleaned gutters. After the work party the place looked tons better than before. We ate some excellent homemade pizza.

When we got back to the park, Tim and I did another pre-ride on the Super D course. The course started with a ripping downhill that led to a few man-made rock gardens. There was a steep drop off on one side of the trail, and shoulder width sets of trees lined the course. After the hill, the trail flattened and wound around down by a stream. There were a few minutes of climbing before the final twisty downhill to the finish.

We rode the course hard, and while Tim was able to pull away from me on the downhills, I caught and passed him on the climb. Tim was incredibly confident that he would win the next day, and not afraid to let everyone he talked to know it.

Our start time was late the next day. I entered the Pro/Open class so that I would have a chance to race against Tim and maybe shut him up for the rest of the trip. Fortunately, no one asked to see my non-existent USAC pro licence. We did some riding on the other trails and chatted with other riders while we waited for the 3:00 start.

Tim toed the line and sprinted away. Two minutes later it was my turn. I shot down the hill, but the Breck Epic was in the back of my mind the whole time, so I rode with some reserve. I didn't want to crash. I hammered up the climbs as hard as I could then ripped around the turns to the finish. Then it was over.


My 20:08 time was good enough for 4th overall, and I'm pretty sure I was the only one riding a single speed. Tim won with a 19:40ish, and was awarded a 2010 Thru Axle Reba. Son of a bitch. But really, I'm happy for him.

We showered, then hit the road again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wilderness 101 pre- report ('10)

I wish I had more time to write, but I don't. I'm starting the drive out to Colorado today for the Breck Epic and crushing of Thom Parsons at the end of the month. I'll up date this thing with a bunch of enthralling pictures of the Midwest as I grumble across the country.

A big 25t cog from Endless Bikes just came in the mail, and I put my spare Race King on my front wheel, so now my bike should be ready for the mountains.

The 101 went great. I rode with the Pflug, Matt Ferari, and J-Pok for the first 60 miles before I got tired and dropped off. I ended up finishing 6th SS, but I was still able to break 8 hours. It was an awesome race, and I dropped over 20 places and 2.5 hours from my finish last year. I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of endurance racing.

And now I need to go buy some oil so that the Grumbler doesn't blow up on the trip.