Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wednesday Wakefield 2

Here's a cool pic of The Pedalshop's Amy Marquis flying to her first win. Shot taken by Martin, who I haven't met, but I recognize his name from great photography of White Grass.

It's funny how much I like a race, where your finishing position can be decided within 30 seconds of the start. If you don't get the hole shot or close to it, you're likely to not move much for 3 laps. Last night I got the #2 hole and was comfortable behind Pearce. Actually, maybe too comfy, and too safe, because I started bunching up the guys behind me as I grooved and chilled on the flowy creek trail. As guys got up my wheel, I was awakened, and reminded that I was actually in a race, .... oh yeah, step on it. Four guys got around me and I settled in for happy 6th. Though even 6th didn't come easily as Frasketti and Aaron were bungee-ing off the back of me and nearly reeled me in at the end of the last lap.

My gear consultant Albert pre-rode the course Monday on a 34x16 and determined that it was the optimal gear. As he says, his bike "goes to 11". He gave me the clue in plenty of time to change my gear, but I didn't take it. Albert jumped up to 3rd from 6th last week, and I did the opposite. So, ....what will I run for the last 2 races?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

race pics

Gary Ryan knows how to shoot mountain bike races. He knows our race courses, he knows the special spots on them, he knows the racers, and he really knows how to get the good shots. Whenever I see him out on the course, I usually try to do something goofy.

from last night's Wakefield #1
Thanks Gary!

Wednesday night battle

Took that wimpy gear off for the first Wednesday at Wakefield race last night. My gear consultant (Albert) told me a 2:1 or harder would be perfect for the flowy fast course with banked turns, twisty creek love, and Rich's classic IMBA switchbacks. On went the 32x16.

If you've never done this race, it's hard to explain how an 11-mile suburban race next to the Capital Beltway can be so ridiculously fun. But, I know. This grassroots series has been part of my summer life for many years, and I had a grin on my face the whole drive over from my office in Fairfax. Yes, having to occasionally check-in at work in Fairfax gives me a great excuse to get down there for the races. There were 275 racers last night, so I must not be the only one jonesin' for a midweek adrenaline fix.

I lined up on the front row and was 4th heading into the singletrack. That quickly became 3rd as RickyD faded fast, and I thought I might have a leisurely ride in for 3rd. But, if you take your foot off the gas at all, someone's gonna be up your wheel in no time, and Paul G. and then Jon got around me. So, now I'm a happy 5th, oh well. On the last lap Paul started to come back to me and I hammered it on the jeep trail hoping my larger wheels would pull me past him. I had to work pretty hard to keep Paul back there, even after he slid out on a turn, he was right back within distance. At the last creek crossing I saw Jason, who'd been leading, putting his chain back on (for apparently the 3rd time). He jumped on ahead of me and gapped me, but he dropped his chain again, and I passed him for 3rd as he was running into the finish chute. Bummer for Jason, as he woulda easily beat us all.

The Bike Lane and PedalShop had the usual stocked coolers of rehydration formula, and then it was on to Kilroys with the crew for food and liquids (I had to drink H2O). Made it back to Chambersburg a little after midnight, which isn't so bad considering I sometimes get home from Darius' later than that after weeknight rides (with a lot less water in me).

from last year's finale

Reasons why I love W@W:
  • BMX in the woods
  • lots of places to catch air
  • the banked turns
  • the month-long trash talkin' and psych jobs (you're gonna run those tires with that gear?)
  • maxin' the heart rate for an hour
  • railing the creek trail without touching the brakes
  • the coolers
  • the Kilroys laps
  • 30 friendly SSers trying to kick your ass
  • I get to wear a dress without a lot of nosey questions

Monday, June 18, 2007

changing gears 2

After that whiny self-reflective post, I got a lot of feedback. Much of it consisted of "use a bigger gear". So I took off the 22 and put on the 20. Started off at Big Flat yesterday with 13 people, and ended up with 4 of us, six hours later after an extra fun jaunt on 3-Mile Trail. That gear felt fine all day, and I kept up on the fireroads for the most part. It didn't seem to hurt any more than the lower gear, but we didn't do anything stupid like Dead Woman Hollow either.

I also got in a couple of pleasant, short, solo road rides last week. Well, as pleasant as the Gilbert Rd. climb can be. This makes me think that maybe I do care about fitness some after all. I know the key to bike fitness is road riding, and if I rode the road twice lately, hmm, maybe I just do care. Or, maybe it's the time of the season to ramp it up? Or, maybe I just wanted a bike ride without getting all beat to hell in the rocks? Nah, I like getting beat up, must be something else.

The road riding from Chambersburg can be sublime. Quiet, rolling farm and orchard roads, Mennonites working the fields, the vast emptiness of Letterkenny. In 2 hours, I think only 5 cars passed me from behind the other day. If I want more work than just rolling, I can climb up Gilbert into Buchanan State Forest and head down into Fulton County or up into the Shippensburg area.

This week is the beginning of the Wednesday at Wakefield series. I was the defending SS Chump for 2005, but sat just off the wood in 4th in 2006, as everyone else got wise to the bigger gear trick for that flat course. Ironically, I rode the biggest gear I could (34x15) at those races and was always up front. I hope to make most of these races since I'm always looking for reasons to drive back to put in a day in the office (my paycheck still comes from Virginia). Was hoping to be able to hit the post-race Kilroys laps at the bar, and then crash with Nick or someone, but now Kim has a 6 AM boot-camp at the YMCA on Thursday mornings, so I'm gonna need to be home for Oliver. I'm not sure what to do yet.., but maybe I'll see some old friends this week.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ridin' to school

Kim and Oliver ride the pleasant few blocks to school.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

changing gears

"Why does mommy's bike have gears? Gears just makes your chain mess up" Oliver Camp, yesterday.

Time for some self-reflection. That's what blogs are for right?? Looking at the results from the Stoopid, seeing where I placed, seeing some friends names I usually finish with, most of whom were above me in the table. Why, I wonder?

Most readers of my words know that I take these long races at party pace. This isn't the Weds. at Wakefield, or Fountainhead, where I have had a realistic shot at the podium. It's all about finishing a long ride with more friends than usual, not being too destroyed to party after the race, and be able to ride my bike the next day. But I do expect to finish fairly well, given how many of these that I've done, I'm only 155 lbs, have decent rock skills, and I ride a bike which makes me climb hills fast. Sure, I'm 45, but, so what...., I ain't the only one. If I have any actual "goal" in these 50s and 100s and XXs, it's to finish in the top quarter of the field. I think I've done that once in the SM100, the first year I rode my SS, with a 32x18. My only sub 10-hour finish there.

So, breakin' the table down into 15-minute finish increments, ignoring the sub 5-hour group, let's see where I might think I should've finished... The 5-5:15 group, Withers, Jamie, Litterbug, nah, I don't think so. The 5:15-5:30 crew, Pete, Travis, Kuhn, Tomi, Topher, Taylor and Martin. Nope, maybe on a fun ride in Michaux they'll let me hang, but not when a gun is involved. OK, so the 5:30-5:45 group of mostly guys I don't know. But I do know Keith, and I know I ain't as swift as he, even with a missed turn. 5:45-6:00?? Albert, Buddy the Leg Breaker, and FatMarc? Now that's familiar company. So I finished 3 minutes after that group and I'm giving myself a hard time??? Three minutes behind Brian Kenny who usually kills me at the Wild 100.

I guess I can get over it.
I guess, if I really want to get over it, I can swap out that wimpy 32x22 for something with a little more bite to it. Sure, that'll hurt a little more, but hey, then I'll get back 5 minutes sooner and have more time to drink beer.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stoopid 50

The Nittany Mountain Bike folks, Wheelworks, Kevin Bergman, and Chris Scott put on a groovy singletrack fest covering 50-ish miles of some sweet trails yesterday up in Rothrock State Forest. As with all of Mumbles' races, this one was a high-quality affair, even without the hundred volunteers he's accustomed to having at the Shenandoah 100. This one seemed to be run by a small few, including Chris' parents (who just heard about it for the first time on Thursday), Kathy, and a couple others.

There was some problem with the power when we got to the venue, as in, no electricity because a t-storm the night before took down the distribution line to the camp. And no electric meant, no water pump. Which was a major bummer since this 4-H Camp venue was chosen mainly because it had good water. Darius played hero and re-wired the panel box to a generator to get power and water running, and a few minutes later the power company got the whole line running again (so Darius had to undo what he just done (with a now "hot" panel box).

Stayed up late with Shawn and Buck (why are the old guys always the last ones at the fire?)
Up at 6, three hours before the start,..... what to do?
Eat two breakfasts, have after breakfast sessions, have a sugary breakfast dessert, then have another, and then,...don't touch anything on my bike.
Full stomach, on the line...
Off slow & safe. A very non-SS-friendly start allows anyone with a big ring to get way ahead of me. I had quite a time working my way back into familiar company, and it took to about the first aid station.
Caught up to Darius on the way to AS-2 as he was working on the 3rd of his 4 mechanicals. Waited with him awhile, then we rode off together toward AS-2. On the road, Darius big rings it, stands up, drops me, and passes several others.
Caught Darius and Tiffany Kenny on a singletrack climb. Also caught up to 3 teammates from a team with blue jerseys and shared the most annoying hour-long game of leapfrog I've ever had in a race. Two of them were on SSs, and the guy on gears was acting as 'coach', yelling encouragement to one of the SSers like "get on it, you can do it...". Why in the hell was I leapfrogging single-speeders anyway? What was wrong with them? Or me? Just drop me please, or just stay the hell back when I drop you, or at least give me more than 5 seconds after I pass you for the 10th time....
I've known Tiffany from all the Wild 100s where we've spent some fireroad hours together, and when I caught up to her early on she said, with some polite concern, ".... so did you have a flat, or are you just pacing yourself..?" Just pacing my dear, and a very low gear, no worries...

Behind me, Darius was having his last and worst mechanical, a broken saddle. So he had to stand up for the remaining 15-20 miles. Yea, nice. Since he broke his chain 3 times over the weekend and replaced them with quik-links, he had very little chain to get up onto the large cogs. So he had to hammer too, while he was doing all that standing. Sounds familiar.

Darius gets the tough guy award for that performance, and for the fact that he had to drive home, unpack, re-pack for 2 weeks of work in Charlottesville, and then drive down to Richmond to spend the night. Tough.

I finished in 6:03, about 15 minutes faster than my Michaux time, which seemed to be a common thing. Consensus was that this course was harder, and had more singletrack than Michaux, so, how come our times are faster???