Monday, April 26, 2010

Rocked by the one cog--Single speed polooza race report

What a weekend! After 9 hours in the car on Saturday, I got home in time to take the new climbing bike for a quick spin before total darkness. I finally collapsed in bed at 11 after packing for Sunday's race. 4 am came around rather quickly. At 4:42, I went out to the car and felt a bit of optimism as the forecasted rain had not yet appeared. I headed back inside to brew a cup for the road. When I returned outside at 4:49, it had started to alternate between drizzle and light rain, which continued until about an hour and a half into the race.

When we got to Stewart State Forest, it was obvious that the SB8's were not going to work, so I put on a set of Kenda Karmas, which was a wise decision--as even the Karmas were caked with mud and sliding all over the place. The other equipment decision that was questionable was my choice of gearing. I have raced at Stewart twice before and both times the singletrack was hard and fast. I decided to go with a 32-17 on the 29er after hearing from the awesome folks down at Dark Horse Cycles that after the big climb, the trail was relatively flat and even if it did rain, the course would hold water well.


So how did the race go? After a brief and inadequate warm up which left me wet and covered in mud, I got to the start line and waited as my group started last. I started on the front line and managed to make the turn into the singletrack in the top three. Feeling pretty good, it did not take long to realize it was going to be a long day with a 17T on the back. I popped out of the first singletrack loop in 7th or 8th and headed for the climb, which started on the road and after a very short flat section turned into the woods and started up on the single track--not fun on 2 inches of thick slippery mud on a over-geared SS. I was able to ride the climb but it was taking way too much effort and very slow-going. I felt like I was turning the pedals over at about 30 rpm--just crushed my knees.

Popping out on the road to start the road climb.

After getting over the top, the descent was a host of sharp off-camber turns again with the thick mud and now the wet roots were making their presence known--did I mention my SS has a rigid fork--reconsidered that choice all day! The hill, both up and down, killed my hopes of a top ten finish as it seemed like I must have lost 10-15 places--mostly on the descent. As I was told, after the descent, the trail was relatively flat with nice manageable rollers--the gearing felt much better and I just tried to be efficient and choose the best lines. The trail was still very wet and slippery but more of a watery mud, not the super thick stuff that sucks the power out of you, so I felt like I was going good. Towards the end of the first lap, the course detoured through a old building which was pretty cool--would love to see those pictures. By this point, I had been riding by myself for half an hour or so and was guessing I was in about 20th place.

Somewhere on the flat part of the course getting killed by the rocks and my rigid front end.

As I finished the first loop, I was still feeling really good all things considered and my goal for the second lap was to pass 10 people--I managed to get by 4 by the top of the road climb and I held them off through the singletrack climb which was now totally trashed after 250 people had ridden over it--that hurt! I got 2 more before the trail spit out on the next road section where I got on more that was number 7. Back on the singletrack, the guy I passed on the road passed me, so I was at 6 and he seemed to ride away on a little downhill through tight trees. I did not see him or anyone else for that matter for a long while. On the other road sections, I could see people up the road but could not close on them. It was not until the last mile that I caught him and 2 others--there was a steep little rock face that we all came into and I ran up, getting ahead and managed to hold them off for the last couple of minutes. I ended up passing 9, which was nice--unfortunately they were not all from my group. I finished in 2:31 which was a lot slower than I had planned--of course, my planning was based on the dry super-fast singletrack I rode at the 40 2 years ago.

The steep little rock face that I mentioned--got by 3 on foot.

In retrospect, with the 17t, I felt like I definitely had an advantage on the road sections and probably passed a dozen or so people; however, I got killed on the wet, muddy hills. My goal was to get in a 2.5 ish hour hard training ride and have fun doing something different,which I did. This was my first SS race and I must admit I greatly under-estimated single speeding as a specialty--I have a lot to learn. Will it be my last? Not sure, but safe to say it was my last for a while because the one cog killed my legs and the rigid fork beat the piss out of the rest of my geriatric body--man am I sore today! No wonder I've been loving the road bike. In all seriousness, I did this race to break up the monotony of training and that was accomplished, but I'm so sore I'm not sure I could get on a bike today if I had to and tomorrow's intensity may be out the window as well.
It's worth mentioning that I think Stewart State Forest as a race venue isn't the greatest--i.e., very limited resources/parking--which always makes it hard on the family, but with that said, the singletrack rocks and the folks at Darkhorse Cycles have always put on great events--they did not disappoint with the 2010 SSAP.

Just before the finish--still love to play in the mud--man were my legs cooked.

About the cleanest my glasses were all day-- During the race I had to spray them with my water bottle every chance I got just so I could see.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's going on.

It's been a long week. I worked the last 3 nights--really long, really painful, but finally over.
I have 15 hours of riding scheduled this week--lots of z1z2 and some well-planned intensity. I set new zones this week as I got the data from Joey--as always, it makes everything feel harder which I love--makes ya feel faster. I took today off for some much needed rest.

Tomorrow I'm off to Fitwerx to pick up the Z5--rumor has it it weighs in at an anemic 13 lbs. 2 oz. fully loaded with heavy tires. With light-weight tires twelve something pounds should be very reasonable for Mt. Washington. I'm going to ride App Gap and possibly Lincoln Gap after I pick up the bike--should be a pretty sweet maiden flight. Not sure what I'm going to do on Sunday. I'm registered for the Single Speed a Polooza which I have been really looking forward to, but the combination of cold rain and the 6 hours of driving has me reconsidering. I did put the 17t cog on the SS earlier today and after a quick spin I can say it feels pretty darn good--we'll see. Sorry about the lack of pictures--it's your recovery 'cause you know what's coming--uber bike and rocking the one cog in the rain!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No more rest!

Yes, Obi-Wan, I have been transported here to work on the house--man is it slow going! Back to the shop tomorrow to finish up some of the window crown for the bedroom--we'll finally have the bedroom windows done and on to the bathroom.

It feels like it's been awhile since I have trained hard. I think my taper was preceded by a rest week and the ToB was followed by a rest week so it's been about a month since I have had a lot of volume and intensity. The next two months are loaded with both--I'm kind of excited as my training is all focused on Mt. Washington and raising my LT. That means a lot of time doing intervals.

Looking down my new home away from home on the bike--Cornish Hill is steep and takes pretty darn close to 5 mins to climb at threshold wattage.

Today I went out with Chris for about an hour and a half and then headed over to Cornish Hill for the day's real suffering.

I got in 9x 5 mins at 300-310 watts with the only rest being the ride down hill, which was about a minute. I'm going to try to do this workout twice a week until Mt. Washington--hopefully this will morph the legs and up the threshold--we'll see.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Wabash Trace Ride

Got a few miles in today on the old Wabash. Mack and Jess walked and scouted on foot.
Right before we took off.
Getting back from a grueling off road trek, about 7 miles total. About 3 on trails and 4 on rock road. Q prefers trails.
Mack got some mileage in with his buddies big wheel.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

2010 Battenkill Race Report

After a relatively peaceful night at the "Duck Hotel" in Albany, we were up at 6:30, which frankly came as a relief, as I had been lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep since 3 am. I was a bit startled when we got out to the car and it was 35 degrees and windy as shit--great day for a bike ride.

We made it over to the race venue by 8:15, which for once left me enough time to warm up and attend to all of my pre-race rituals. I was feeling pretty good after a meager 20 minute warm-up--I was sweating and the now 41 degrees and even windier than shit was starting to feel somewhat manageable. As the forecast was for sunny, warmer weather by early afternoon, I wasn't entirely sure of what to wear. I went with the knickers, fleece jersey and a vest, which worked out perfectly, as the wind really never let it warm up.

My start time was at 9:55am--our group of fifty was off and we spent the first ten miles or so at a pretty chill pace.

I had the race profile taped to the handlebars--I was told that our race would be decided early, on Juniper Swamp Road, which is the second tan little blip on the chart. The climb on Juniper Swamp Road is relatively short, but steep. Someone with 20 years of racing experience told me that this is the only place they've ever seen pros get off and walk. Not sure if that's true or not, but nonetheless, you get the point. I knew that when we got to the hill, I had to be out front, which I was, and I managed to get over the top in third or fourth place.

My crew froze their asses off waiting on top of Juniper Swamp.

At least she froze in style. . .

Working hard over the top as the field started to fall apart behind me. I managed to get into a five-man breakaway--working together, we quickly put a nice gap on the field.

The five of us rode together until about the 52-mile mark, when we lost one off the back and the eventual winner managed to get out about 30 seconds in front of us.

Taking my turn up front--I tried to pull at about 330 watts, which seemed to work well, but it was awfully tough in the strong headwind, which were gusting at about 25 mph.

Heading up the last climb, we were still 30 seconds behind the leader. We seemed to slow down quite a bit on the climb. I felt like I had 2 choices--to attack and try to close the gap by myself or to stay together and take my chances in a sprint.

I'm not sure what the right decision was--I'm still kind of kicking myself for not attacking. I guess I felt I had a better chance in the sprint and was worried about overcooking it on the climb, getting dropped and placing fourth. So the three of us rode the last five miles together, taking very short pulls. We were all racing for second now--we made the last right-hand turn with 300 meters to go. I started the turn on second wheel, went really wide to the left and couldn't see the finish line. I waited for a sprint that never really came.

I finished second in my group--a great start to the season.

I almost missed the awards ceremony when I went to the car to change. Cora borrowed a stranger's phone and called me to tell me to hurry the hell up. I rolled up just in time to hear "In second place, from Jackrabbit Racing, Matthew Jones."

To the victor go the spoils. This Battenkill Creamery chocolate milk is phenomenal and I'm sure you'll find it hard to believe that I had a ton of help finishing it off. The jug is going to make a fine trophy--hopefully the first of many that will line the walls of the CBC.

A quick rest before loading up the car.

Got a little help from Don Bull who reportedly told Cora that it was all because of him that I got second because he's been teaching me to go fast.

In case you forgot, a spot on the box earns a burger and fries. We made it back to Cooperstown in time to take my mom out for a birthday dinner. A good time was had by all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jackrabbit Squad Rounds Out

Team Tyler: 5 Team Jones: 5

How bout them apples?

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I headed over to the Johnny Cake Lane race in Coxsackie which was about 90 miles away. My Mom was kind enough to tag along with the camera and to keep me company. I figured it might be a good idea to get a road race under my belt before next weekend. Other than the experience, I just wanted to get in one last really hard effort before the Tour of Battenkill.

What a great day for a bike race--in the 70's with the Catskill mountains in the background and not a cloud in the sky. The course was a 7 mile loop which was relatively flat with only one small hill to mix it up on. The wind was a bit stiff at times and put a premium on riding smart within the group.

Giving a little love to my girl-- OK I couldn't get the (bike) pump to work.

Doing a little work at the end of the first lap. Yesterday Big Dave and I had a bet about who could post the best race report ala Sir Helmet the Tool. We were both too tired , so we'll give you our best rendition from the tool shed next week.

That's me on the far left--I think I ended up ninth. I would have raced a bit differently if a win was the goal but as far as getting a hard effort in, I was successful. TSS was 109 for 1 hour of work--just wish it was a little longer.

The pay off--had to feed Mom, so we headed over to Moe's for a double order of tacos--that girl loves her tacos. Of course we stopped at Starbucks for coffee before driving home. I've said it before and I'm going to say it again--my mom is awesome and such an amazing lady.

We got home and I found the kids making a huge mess in the yard or what's left of the yard. I thought this looks a touch like Shelby Lee Adams work--my kids go all Appalachia in Cooperstown.

Just like that--Max goes all postal.

Psycowpath Jewell Park TT Race Report

RF being a goober on the mic while I wait

Well RF put on a great race at Jewell Park today. I had never ridden the course so I was a bit skeptical of this whole time trial thing. The shram chain got twisted on my last ride so I spent some time massaging the old chain back into shape this morning. Then at exactly 11:25 I lined up behind two leg shavers and in front of two t-shirt wearers. The field looked pretty tough. Right before I started Kent Mcneill of Leadville fame rolled in under 17 minutes. I was then thinking cool Kent can do it in 16 minutes so how much pain could it be. Well let me tell you, I sprung out of the starting shoot and up the first little rise and realized I had not been on a real mtb trail in over 6 months. I felt acid in my chest and I don't think my heart rate came below 185 for the next 26 minutes. I passed one guy in the last 25 yards so that helped me feel a little better. Quinn later told me that that guy took a huge digger into some really gnarley looking rocks near the finish. At about half way I heard some puffing behind me an within seconds I was passed by one of the t-shirt guys.

Getting clipped in while Qman watches the start
Out the start shoot
Turning onto the only flat 50 yards of the course

Dropping out near half way
Popping out at the finish

Friday, April 2, 2010

Westside Dirty Benjamin

Well the Jackrabbit squad is all signed up for the Westside Dirty Benjamin...Hmmm which one is Dr. M.J.? Is he the Wax Toilet Bowl Gasket? Maybe he is the gallon of Rocky Road...I'll not tell. He has agreed to "ride with me" which means a good deal of heckling throughout the day about my sorry climbing skills. It will be a great day and a good warm up for the North O! Jackrabbit 100 miler.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools Day

My last shift before a very needed three days off--can't wait.

April first was day one of commuting by bike to work. Even though I can walk to the ER in about three minutes, I thought it would be fun to try to ride to work. I have been going the long way around up and over the back side of Chicken Farm Hill which takes about 25 mins. each way on the single speed--a pretty decent workout. As daylight extends, I'll think about lengthening the route. It's like a free hour of riding. I just have to hone the shower at work routine and I'll be good to go.

Got home--with the thought of the next three days off, I was in heaven. Max and I rode downtown to the bakery for some "prizes."

Max needed a "extra" prize on top of the donut he already had in the bag.

Good thing he had the glasses on--food was flying.

After a few hours of sleep, John and I went out for a nice two-hour ride. We went up and over Hooker Mountain, came back over Konchar Rd. then up to Middlefield before finishing over Murphy Hill.

A quick water break saved the day--this nice lady was kind enough to fill John's bottle, she even put ice in it. It took a little thought to ride in the warmer weather again--had to remind myself to drink.

After a little rest, it was back out with the crew. Max took us all out on his favorite ride which he calls "that Ahmo road." Great day--four rides.