Jul 27, 2007

Only Slacking in Some ways. Two Wins, in two weeks.

Yes I like a good stream.
These past two weekends have added up to 126 miles of racing.
First: The Curse of Dark Hollow. 100k 8,000 ft of Michaux scares me, but I love it.
First I had to find a place to park my handgun.
During the Curse race I had the idea that, tho I don't hunt with a gun, racing for me is, in way another type of big game hunting. I think I get some of the same thrill out of competing that a hunter gets when tracking and out-smarting some elusive creature. Now if I could only eat those I catch.
It's not much of a secret that Michaux is one of the hardest places on the East Coast to ride or race. There are past articles written in a hushed and awed tone in Dirt Rag magazine about these trails. The forest will eat you. A lot of people skipped the Curse to do the Fair Hill race, because it's fun and flows like taffy at the shore. But for those who thirst for the unique challenge that is Michaux, this was a big gulp that a few couldn't finish and many more were cursing. In a good way. Even the promoters admitted they would probably not do the 100K format again, citing that it was too much for them and probably the racers. That doesn't mean anyone was disappointed, just really tired.
Pete and Stephanie rode up with me the day before for a little pre-riding. Pete on his downhill ready 96er Engin and Stephanie on my bike from last year. She was going to do it on here fully ridged 1996 Klein Rascal, but I couldn't let that happen. It would have been involuntary woman slaughter. After a good little introduction where Pete got to let his bike out of it's cage and Steph learned a bit about how disc-brakes work, we went to my mom's and got ready.
The 7am start was early but necessary. My mom can to hand off water-bottles, which is something I sort of resist. Ideally I would like all the riders to have to use the same resources, but Eatough repeatedly had a feed as well as Brandon Dragaulis. After a couple of races this year where not having a feed proved to be a definite handicap I accepted my mom's offer.
The usual start had us blasting through some dual track to a rock strewn descent, that has claimed my tires in the past, and was sure to put it to a few people today. We exited the woods did a quick transition climb to more single track climbing on loose rocks for about 10 min to Abby Trail on the ridge.
It was pretty much Chris and I at the top, and we began to roll Abby with a solid pace, through the rocks. When I say rocks I mean the things that people launch off of, and spend time riding over and over again with their friends till they clean it types of rocks. The type of trail that only gives you pleasure if you take it with force and finesse.
Half way through Chris E. had to stop to adjust something, and I asked if he was okay. He said yeah and I rode on, not attacking but trying to keep the same rythmn we had had. I expected him to catch up shortly but from that point on it I started to stretch my lead on him.
1.5min then 2, then 3, 4, 5, 6 and finally on the last climb of the day and at the finish I had 7 minutes.
I got ahead of my self. So the course is classic single track, with good mile to three mile climbs on gravel or trail with mostly insane descents through the woods on the log-piled ribbons. It continued like this for the better part of 4 hrs. I was stressed trying to keep my bike together and my lead. My mother made perfect feeds and gave me splits back to Chris. It was hot and hellish towards the end of the day when the course turned right off of the infamous Graves ridge and sent us over two or so miles of the most washed out, rooty and boulder strewn atv trails I had ever ridden. At the end of this little gift we crossed the road and was treated to a 2 mile finish, all up hill on gravel dual-track. Holy crap! What a way to end a grueling race.
At the end I was spent but excited to have a legitimate win over one of my biggest rivals. Unfortunately I have to do it two more times to say that it wasn't a fluke. That is skateboarding rules. 3 times to own the trick.
Pete had a good day and Stephanie managed a 3rd place finishing 10:30hrs. Ouch. She was smiling at the end.

These guys know how to use their tools.
Lots of Ti!!
Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell.
100K 11, 000 ft of climbing. Dogs with Mohawks!
Race promoter Todd Brennan puts on ORAMM, and apparently it's pretty popular, if the 450 people who showed up count for anything.
I had a tough choice to make, and I'm not sure I made the right one. Was it honor at Mt. Snow and the NORBA National Championships or NC and the possibility of LOOT?
Well considering I had blown all of the raffle money in CO getting ready for the Marathon Nat. Championship, I thought I should do the only thing that's making me any money these days and go south. With the most excellent traveling partner currently known as Topher. I knew that most of the competition would be in VT, which was actually disappointing, but handy. I like a good fight. Also on the line (I thought) was the course record, 5:08 set by Jeremiah Bishop in 2006, with a $500 bonus for breaking it. I figured I had a chance. Unfortunately the promoter had to change the course slightly, and even though it was the same distance you can't break the record if its a different course. So I set a new goal of trying for the 5hr mark.
With 450 people on the line it was sort of intimidating looking around at all the people, wondering who was the mystery meat that would present a challenge. I saw some familiar faces that could do some damage on a good day. We started with a "rolling" start, that was pretty high speed, till the first gravel section of climbing. Mostly all together we rolled up to the first bit of trail, and I went in first. And that was pretty much it. One guy was keeping me in sights till the next climb then I never saw anyone again. It was a pretty lonely day, just me and my computer telling me what my average speed was, which I was monitoring to keep around 13mph to break the 5hrs.
The climbs were pretty much all gravel while the descents were raging trail, that went on for miles. (4-7) My forearms were paying the toll, but they were fun, and the main reason I wanted to ride down there.
Towards the end I came to a set of railroad tracks we had crossed earlier, only to find a freight train rolling by. I had no option but to sit and wait, take a leak and contemplate if I could throw my bike over the thing and jump on, on one side and jump off the other. 1.5 min later, after what felt like an eternity it passed.
Eventually I rolled back into Old Fort and across the finish line at 4:54:49. But I still regretted not going to Mt. Snow.
Topher got third. On the talking bike.

Jul 12, 2007

Michaux #2: 26er death: Life without Ergon

Lookie there. I'm on the front page of the Race Michaux web site. Sunday is the 2nd of the three Michaux series races. Eatough and I'll be going at it again. As well as Brandon Dragaulis and other company. E. is fresh off a 7day stage race and my altitude training could shake things up.

I went and pre-rode the other day and flopped around on the ground a couple of times, lost my glasses, sprained a wrist and got a little tubeless tire patching practice in.
My 26er is the bad step child. Unpredictable and misbehaving.
After coming back from CO, I didn't have the 29er so I put last years small wheeled bike together. This was a perfect opportunity to make a judgement on the 29 V 26er debate. I have been on the big wheeled bike since April 19th and the 26er was disassembled collecting dust.
So not only did I get the tiny bike together I also left it without Ergon grips.
I took the old Steele deluxe to NY for the Darkhorse gallop, and then it went with me to pre-ride Michaux.
Hands down the 29er is my bike of choice. I remember when I first threw a leg over it everything clicked besides a little getting used to timing for hopping logs. And that was my first big wheeled bike.
Now going back to the 26in wheel has been a harder transition. It might be a little quicker on the climbs (I can't prove it) but overall it feels so squirmy and unstable. In Michaux the smaller wheels felt like they were catching on every rock, root and pine cone. There might be some disadvantages to a poorly designed 29er, but a well crafted one, rises high above.
The amount of control and smoothness of the ride would serve anyone of any size well. Maybe the 26in wheel has it's advantages in racing situations, but I think they should be sent to the world of racing dorks. For me I'll race the big bike. It's more comfortable, smoother and just more fun to ride.
And until I went without them I didn't realize how much stability and control the Ergon grips provided me. Again I'll never go back.

Jul 9, 2007

A Joke, A Race and another Race

A fairly well known man walks into a bar and asks one of his admirers if he's ever read his blog. Flustered and experiencing Blog Paranoia he answers "Yes". "I don't have a blog!" answers the questioner.
Blog Guilt
It exists.

Let me tell you about the Firecracker 50. What a great race. It started with us leading out the 4th of July parade past thousands of people lining the streets of Breckenridge. They cheered, we chatted and as our group of 30 pro's came to the last light in town and our left hand turn up the first 8 mile climb (10,800 ft total in the race), the sprinting started. Nat Ross went off the front, and then came back. But the group got smaller and smaller and I felt like things were going pretty good as I stayed with the front group. Then about the time we hit the gravel section I might as well have been riding through thigh high pudding. I couldn't breath, my legs wouldn't go and groups of riders just started to peel past me.
I tried to stick a few wheels but felt like a dyslexic at a spelling bee. 30 minutes in and I thought all was lost. So much for goals and planning. When Christian Ball came by with his encouraging words I think my response was a four letter word for sex. But then Nat Ross came around, the trail got a little more level and a prediction of my sister's nagging disappointment fueled me to keep going. How could I let her down since she came all the way out here to see and support me. So I dug in. Kept a steady but not blistering pace up the second steep climb and started to real people back in, one at a time.
The downhills were mostly washed out jeep roads at about -18% grades. Braking too much was as dangerous as going to fast. But it was a relief from the climbing, and gave me a chance to recover. My sister was waiting at aid station 2, just before the biggest and burliest climb of the day, Little French. It was relatively short but with long sections of 16% grade. As I grabbed a bottle from Nicole, I couldn't even muster a thank you. She told me I was 30th something and all I could do was stare ahead. Josh, my host, was there and told me later, that I looked so bad that he exchanged that "oh shit" look with my sis.
At the bottom of Little French I stuck it in the little ring and set a metronome pace, slowly picking off one person at a time. And that is the general story of the day. Rock the downhills and stay steady on the ups. In the end I managed an 8th place finish, which I suppose is good, but still a little disappointing, when I think about the time and money I invested in this race. I've never committed so completely to one race, and therefore I was probably bound to be less than satisfied with anything less than 1st. I'm my own best Hater.
Oh well.
To rub my bruised ego and hopefully make a little money, I went to NJ Sunday to do the DarkHorse Gallop. Traveling right hand man Topher made the trip with me to Stewart State Forest for some fun and fast trail riding in the Campmor Series race. I decided to sit in and protect the tired legs, and from the start found myself with Troy Wells and Ed Ceccolini for the first three laps.Troy did a lot of the work, then Ed and on occasion I got up front, but each time someone came around me. It was a fun race with the three of us going back and forth, but in the 4th lap Ed attacked and my chasing dropped Troy but I also lost sight of Ed. He pulled away and all I could do in the heat was stay the course and hope Fast Eddie faded. And sure enough at the end of lap 4 I caught the man and pulled away slowly, but never comfortably. I had two bottles placed in trees for my feed but as I came by them they were on the ground so each time I had to stop and pick them up.
Tho I was running for my life, I was never able to get far away from Ed, and in the end there was only a 30 sec gap between the two of us. And my heat exhaustion was coming on. Still it was nice to do well and the race was really fun and well run. Good job guys.
Oh and Georgia Gould came and raced the mens race, and was only 5 min behind wich was good enough for a 4th place. She's fast.

Jul 7, 2007

Crack, scoundrel of the 80's, Firecracker 50 (high grade)

7/7/07 this day don't ever come around again. What happens when life gives you two pits? First a little opinion. Then at the bottom a race report.
The Firecracker 50 has officially gone the way of the 4th of July. A colorful day already circling the globe on it's way back for next year. Can't say that I'm real excited about my 8th place finish. But lets look at something. Check out the results. If you notice I'm the only person from East of the Rockies in the top 20. Not that that is real special, I just want to point out that there is poor representation from the East Coast at the National Championship race. As a matter of fact there is almost none. I think I can count on one hand how many people I can identify that come from the far or mid east. Who's fault is this? Are the east coasters scared? Weak? Not competative? Or are they realistic? Racing at 9,600 feet and up doesn't exactly feel encouraging for flat-landers. This is the 3rd year in a row that the marathon National Championship has been at elevation. It would have been at Mt. Snow if not for some logistical issues with the mountain. So what does USACYCLING do? They send the Marathon back to high elevation for, get this, TWO years.
I'm feeling that USA Cycling is only getting a part of what the US cycling scene is like. It's not hard to figure out that the organization does a much better job of representing the rockies and the pacific. Sure there is a huge amount of history out there but, they seem to have stopped reading contemporary literature, because there is a movement in the east that goes unnoticed because we are happy not being a part of the daily workings of a large organization that doesn't seem to consider us east coasters to be more than a blip on the map. A majority of the races in the east are not NORBA affiliated. A lot of that has to do with disillusion with the organization and possibly might have to do with the fact that capitalism works great out here and when dissatisfaction with one product became overwhelming we searched elsewhere for what we needed.
USA Cycling needs to learn that they should be a representative of all cycling not just a of those who pay into their pockets. There are a lot of great races that don't require NORBA membership. But I have a feeling that when USAC sent out a call for bids they only sent the call to races that were already in their circle. I'll find out soon, because I'm going to start the petition process to move the marathon to the east for next year.
This will present a problem because of all the non-USAC affiliated races, that might not want to deal with the headache of dealing with cycling's governing organization.
Yes it'll be a balancing act convincing race promoters out here to, live by someone else's rules, pay their extra fees and sacrifice their time. But it should set some precedences. USAC and NORBA are deep in the tornado of the self-fulfilling prophecy. 1. East coast has been fed up for a long time. 2. NORBA keeps committing alienating acts.
Where is the healing?
Loveland pass, continental divide. Separating east from west.
Race report::I'll do it tomorrow. 7/8/07

Jul 2, 2007

Super-Dogging, Fire-Crack'n, Mopering

This came to me in regards to the Mopery question;
"I was riding my bike up the path in Arlington when I had a sudden urge to..you know..take my clothes off. Not just remove them and run through the forest, mind you. But to disrobe and be seen. I rode my bike off the path and ditched it behind some bushes and proceeded to peal myself from the spandex. I squatted there waiting...when to my enjoyment another path user came strolling along with a dog. I deliberated, fearing what the dog may do and quickly jumped into their path, naked. The dogged cocked his head, the man said "hello," and they walked along. I was sorely disappointed and shrugged and put my clothes back on to ride away. As I continued up the path it began to rain and thought to myself, "why was that man wearing dark sunglasses on such a cloudy day?"
Of course this is exactly what Mopery consists of. It seems fitting that the Indy Fab Team Captain, Bruno would know so well such a nefarious crime.
In this new found thirst for the fast and sketchy, I decided that another Super-D race would be a great primer for the Firecracker 50.
About 20 miles from Breckenridge is Keystone resort and the site of the G3 Gravity Series race number 1.
16min of almost pure down-helling on the 29er against 22 professional downhill racers.
One thing I really enjoy is putting myself in awkward social situations. Like going to a funeral dressed as a clown, or hanging out on top of a mountain with a bunch of baggy shorts and armored dudes while revealing all my goods in a skintight spandex package.
After a 10min chairlift ride I changed into my superman outfit and took a run down mountain. So if the Crested Butte race was 29er friendly this course was definetly full-suspension ready. Actually I'd say about half the pro's chose to use their DH rigs while the other half had 5-6in of travel. Yeah I felt like a dork and the younger kids would hardly talk to me, just grunts. I flashed back to elementary and middle school outsider status. As a matter of fact everyone was stoked on the course, saying "this is what Super-D course should be like." It had no uphill portions and very little need for pedaling. Where I could I used it as much as possible. Obviously there were no XC riders there to complain.
Since this was a big purse gravity stage race, it drew some pretty heavy hitters. Number 1, Leov, and 2, Graves top world cup racers. I'm being a little self-serving here by building this up to the final conclusion. We went off in 15sec intervals, and since only me and one other guy were the only ones who signed up only for the Super-D and not all three stages, we got to go last. As I was sitting there I threw a little trash talk out and told the armored boys in front to not let a hard-tail riding, spandexed dude catch you. So to the end...I caught a few. Oh Yeah!
I do have to say I owe alot of the confidence to the two WTB Exi-Wolves I got in the mail the day before. Thanks Dain. That was a surprise.

Pro Men

Overall Overall
Place Name Time Pace Place by Sex
1 Leov,Justin 15:19.3
2 2
2 Graves,Jared 15:21.9
3 3
3 Olsen,Todd 15:37.4
4 4
4 Leonard,Kain 15:42.5
5 5
5 Keene,Curtis 15:45.1
6 6
6 Krahenbuhl,Eli 15:53.0
7 7
7 Price,Harlan 15:55.6
8 8
8 Buell,Brian 16:07.5
9 9
9 Wilderman,Cody 16:07.8
10 10
10 Cranston,Ryan 16:11.8
11 11
11 Warren,Willy 16:15.9
12 12
12 Heath,Chris 16:16.5
15 15
13 Buell,Michael 16:25.9
16 16
14 Griffith,Zachary 16:34.1
17 17
15 Hall,Heikki 16:56.8
25 25
16 Vogt,Greg 16:57.5
26 26
17 Harmony,Dante 17:07.3
30 30
18 Howse,Mike 17:08.7
32 32
19 Kittles,Chad 17:47.1
39 38
20 O'Driscoll,Chris 20:57.5
51 45
21 Boice,Chris 22:05.1
52 46
22 Lindsley,Ariel 22:06.7
53 47