Sunday, August 29, 2010

Max the film maker.

I found this little gem on the point and shoot camera. Max made it all on his own--not sure how he managed to get the video going all by himself--pretty cool. This is the last 50 meters of Mt Washington.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I should have been working on the House.

I could not help myself it was beautiful out. When the cats are away the mouse has to play.

North of the lake--looking over the Mohawk Valley.

We stopped at the Black Cat Cafe--great coffee. The only downer is the steep part of the climb out of Sharon Spring really kicks up about 50 yards out the door and it murders the legs after the rest. The coffee--it's worth it!

By the way I spent the first part of the ride talking to Mike about doing Leadville next year--I think he is intrigued. It would be a blast with a group--will see.

I got 5:11 in today which felt really good--Hope to do it again tomorrow.
Still can not decide if I'm going to race Windham on Sunday--I sure am digging the low stress of LSD.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Epic!!! again

Even though the training schedule clearly stated this is a week of rest, I woke up and looked at the forecast thinking I should get out and spin the legs as they were still a bit, shall we say pissed after Mt. Washington. By all accounts the forecast was for 100% rain. I was thinking how bad could that be--it would have to stop eventually. I sat for a while, ate some breakfast and starting loosing motivation which was fine.

Fattail and I were most content watching Sports Center when the phone rang. I could tell there was determination in Chris's voice when he said he was still planning on getting in 150 miles. I looked out the window and it was pouring--it was too late, my fate was sealed--I had to ride. I agreed to ride the first part of Chris's ride which was about 75 miles and would most likely get me home in about 4 hours.

I headed over the hill north on Rt 28 to meet Chris at the Flycreek General Store and was soaked in about 5 mins. We headed south for the first 2 hours which I failed to realize was all down wind--thus I felt like I was flying. More importantly, it was not very cold. The cars were few and we joked about how it always seems like we only ride when the weather really sucks. All in all I was having a blast.

We stopped at about 2 hours so I grabbed a coffee which hit the spot. The folks in the gas station had a bewildered look on their faces as we walked in and I'm sure they were not too happy as we left a huge puddle of water on their floor--oh well.

Back at it, we were now heading a bit west and it seemed to be getting colder and certainly windier--my legs were definitely questioning the wisdom of stopping.

By the time we made it to Edmeston, both the rain and wind were picking up and it was definitely colder.

We stopped quickly to top off the water bottles which killed my legs.

Heading east along Route 80 was tough--much colder mostly because we were riding into the wind and the back to back rollers add up in a hurry.

We made it back to the Flycreek General Store for some much needed real food--they make a fine sandwich!

Bryne Dairy 1% chocolate milk--undisputed number one recovery drink (well, okay, the best lowfat recovery drink--Battenkill Valley Creamery chocolate milk is absolutely the very best).

We were about 75 miles and 4 hours in when we stopped for lunch. Cora called and asked if I wanted her to come pick me up. I said no--although I was awfully tempted to call it quits, I had just told Chris I would try to knock out another 25 miles--I figured a hundy would make a nice story.

No sooner did Chris's phone ring-- it was Heather, she and Cora were together and pretty much told us they were coming to get us as they could barely see the road while driving the kids home from the movies. They said that it was absolutely crazy (actually, I think the word was stupid or maybe idiotic) to be riding in monsoon-like rain. I think deep down, we were both relieved to get yanked. We suffered the 10 mins back to Chris's house and took a most welcomed hot shower and had a fantastic dinner. All told, we logged about 4:15 mins and it was 100% in the pouring rain.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010 Mt. Washington Hillclimb Race Report

Disclaimer—I’m manic and this is going to be a long one.

We were so, so lucky, as we got the hall pass grande this weekend because my super-special extra-fantastic mother took the kids yet again. The funny thing is that they would much rather be with her than go to another one of my races. We left for New Hampshire early Friday morning and after several stops for "necessities," we got up to Mt. Washington by 1:30--perfect timing to get an hour ride in before the 3 pm sign-in.

The stop


I must confess as I walked over to the sign-in table marked 40-49, I was slightly disappointed about my narrow miss at Newton’s Revenge—14 seconds and I would have been at the Top Notch table which, by the way, had no line—oh, the perks of being faster. As with Newton’s Revenge, I left registration with an awesome shirt and some sweet “usable” swag. Cora and I headed down to North Conway with two very simple purposes: 1) get to Delaney’s Hole in the Wall for some eats and 2) get a very nice uninterrupted night of sleep. I was unusually proactive about getting all my gear together, so having nothing to do but go to sleep at 9 pm was surreal and oh so nice!

I slept really well which for me is unheard of prior to an “A” race. I did, however, wake up in a panic because I thought I was doing Leadville and had forgotten to discuss my nutrition with my crew—kind of freaky. We got out of the hotel in record time which included a traditional breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. Cora suggested that my recent switch to bran flakes for breakfast has contributed to the compulsory two pre-race porta-potty stops that have been greatly eating into my warm-up time. This morning I beat the system by going back to oatmeal and by leaving 15 minutes early. I only had to make one porta-potty stop and I was able to get in a very nice warm-up.

A beautiful morning--cool and crisp.

My only complaint about this event would be that they make the cars go up the mountain by 8 am, which leaves 40 mins or so with nowhere to stash last minute goods/clothes, but I found some cool guys who let me stick a jersey in their jeep to be retrieved after the race. When it came time to line up, I started at the front, as I was told that there could be some traffic issues. I felt really good waiting for the start as I was not that nervous--as funny as this sounds, not feeling that nervous made me feel less nervous. Now that’s not to say that I was totally composed--with 6 mins to go, I bolted 100 yards to hide behind a dump truck and express my bladder one last not-so-fruitful time.

On my return, I noticed that Selene Yeager—“the Fit Chick” from Bicycle magazine was lined up next to me. I had two thoughts: 1) I know she is probably going to be super fast--if I’m not mistaken, she won the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic and 2) Oh my god, is she hot in person. Well, make that three thoughts—she was riding a very sweet I'm assuming custom- painted pink Pinarello Prince. Needless to say, fast hot fit chick on a sweet ride made her the one to follow—if I could.

I made it across the flat section with only a couple of people from my group in front of me. For whatever the reason, I suddenly got really nervous that the day was going to suck—I really made an effort to focus on my cadence and find a rhythm that would keep me on target to knock out a mile every 10 minutes—if successful, that should get me to the top in 1:15. The bottom 2 miles were easier than I remembered and I went through the 2 mile marker in about 17 minutes—not bad--way ahead of pace. I started to worry again as I rode that section fairly well for Newton’s and then went into a catastrophic melt-down mode which resulted in finishing like a small recently-spanked child. Thankfully my self-doubt was short lived. The day was gorgeous--absolutely perfect for climbing and as I went through miles 3 and 4, I was still 3 mins ahead of schedule and starting to realize that I may be able to uncork a good one today. I knew if I could get past the dirt section on pace, I would be in great shape to hit 1:15.

The dirt section starts somewhere just before 5 miles and ends before the 6-mile marker. I don't know why, but I find it to be mentally very tough--this time up was no exception. As I made it past the first steep part on to the brief “flatter” section just before the right hand turn, I noticed my average speed was still 6.1 mph—on pace. The only problem now was the steep section after the turn and I knew if I could get to the pavement without a meltdown, I’d be golden. I really concentrated on rhythm and cadence--something I could maintain which was only yielding a very spry 5 something mph. I was a bit surprised/very psyched when I went past the 6 mile marker still with an average speed of 6.1 mph. After some calculation, I realized if I could keep this going and picked it up a bit on the top I would be in the 1:13 range.

Now I was really feeling like I needed that second porta-potty break as I knew the last mile and a half was going to hurt badly. It was at that point I recalled a conversation that the baby Moose had with me when he said “Daddy, I am going to be very angry and very aggressive until I get what I want!”—true story. If I have not said it yet, this was my race this year and I really wanted to break the 1:15 mark--a pipe dream would be 1:10. Although I promised myself I would not put all my eggs in one basket, having learned that lesson last year with Leadville, breaking 1:15 was the only specific goal I had this year and in my mind I was going to be very angry and aggressive if I did not get it today. I kept reminding myself of this as I passed the 7-mile mark and rounded the last steep left right combo.

starting up the steep section

With less than 5 mins to go, I was behind a guy wearing a 545 velo jersey and for the first time today, I started to race someone else. With a couple of tenths of a mile to go, someone jumped out on the road screaming at me to catch him—it was really cool--it was as if he knew that I had just decided that was the plan. I turned up the final 22% grade--it was crazy with people--basically all the people watching at the top are packed into the final couple hundred meters, all screaming and ringing cowbells. They were fueling my fire and god knows it was trying to go out.

Spectators HELP!!!

The really steep section can’t be more than 50 meters or so, as I came around the first turn, I was crushed and intentionally looked up at the spectators. It seemed to me that everyone was screaming, "Catch him!" One last glance and I saw 2 things: the guy in front of me was now only a couple of meters ahead and the clock said 1:22, which minus 10 mins. meant that if I could get my ass in gear, I could break 1:13. I dug deep, passed him at the line and finished at 1:12:45.

Mission accomplished!

We had a premium parking spot at the start of the steep section so I had a front row seat as I warmed down.

Mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez finished second.

As I said before, we had a premium parking spot which literally got us off the mountain first after they released the cars to go down--it was nice to be first down as that got me started on my traditional post "A" race gluttony of food and drink. As they did for Newton's Revenge, the organizers put on a fantastic spread at the bottom serving none other than my favorite meal of all time--turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing with salad--yum, yum good! They were also kind enough to serve a little ice cream which went to my hard working crew chief. The 7-hour drive home was a real sufferfest made no shorter by stopping multiple times for coffee. I know this should be no surprise but we got home at 10 pm to find 2 crazy kids wide awake and one snoring little animal lover.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mt. Equinox Hill Climb Race Report

I was looking forward to this race for a while--not sure why as I knew nothing about the climb.
It was a really long, but good day. We were up at 3:25 am to make it up to Manchester VT early enough to get a warm up in. My wonderful mom was kind enough to come over and watch the kids, so yes Cora and I had a hall pass and it was most welcomed time alone. We made good time up to VT. The only downer was that we were too early for a Starbucks stop as none were open yet.

I took my time signing in and started to warm up on the trainer, but then we realized that Cora had to leave to go up the hill at 7:40am. I hopped off the trainer and rode up and down Hwy 7A instead, which was fine. My wave was off at 8:10 am with perfect climbing weather, clear and crisp, with temps I'm guessing in the 60's.

Both the above images are borrowed from
If you are at all interested in hill climbing, I highly suggest you check out this site.

I emptied the tank with a couple hundred meters to go.

I liked the hill a lot. The start allows you a couple of minutes before the grade kicks up which was perfect to get into a rhythm. I think the thing that made the climb so nice (at least for me) was that it seems to have very well-spaced out areas of rest, including a small downhill. The "rest" for me was enough to recover a bit without destroying my rhythm. I found the corners to be steep but they actually were enjoyable as you can enter them outside and cut across and it felt like you could actually gain a little speed. The hill is rumored to have a very short steep section in the 28% grade neighborhood. I never felt like I was riding anything that steep. I suspect that number was measured on the inside of one of the turns, if at all.

As what seems to be the norm at these things, I found myself off the back right at the start. Of course I started wondering if people were going out too hard or was I riding like a child. I was especially preoccupied with this, as I opted to leave the PowerTap at home. I wanted to ride the bike as lean as possible with the same set up as planned for Mt. Washington. I concentrated on riding my own race and slowly started passing the folks in front of me. I was feeling better and better as the climb went on. I finished in 46:25, which was about 3 mins faster than expected, so needless to say I was very happy.

The race itself was great--really well-organized. They had people handing out water halfway up, which made for a nice shower. At the top, they not only had ample goodies for recovery, but they managed to woo my wife--Cora was ecstatic that they also had doughnuts for the spectators. They announced each finisher by first name, which I thought was a class act. At the bottom, after the race, they had a really nice barbecue. My only ding against them would be that they served up arguably the worst hamburger I've ever had, but in all fairness, I have to say they recovered completely by having a very well-stocked ice cream cart. Doughnuts and ice cream--I think it's fair to say that Cora will be back next year, as will I.

Two Days, 3 Races, One Epic Fail. Quinn Podium.

Possibly the most unflattering picture Jess took of me. I could not stand after my "sprint."
Results: Psycowpath
The weekend was going to be long and hot I knew that. What I did not know was how poorly I would perform, and how obvious my lack of riding would become. Firstly, a huge thank you to RF and the whole Psycowpath crew for an amazing weekend of racing. Excellent planning and execution for all three races. Day one had two parts and began with a time trial around Lewis and Clark. Last year at this venue I did the marathon and felt I did pretty well. This year on a shorter course I felt terrible and had to hike a bike on the trail in multiple places. My legs felt like rubber and my breathing and heart rate were spiking after only a few minutes of mild effort. I just couldn’t figure out why. It may have had something to do with a crash on Sunday 6 days earlier that left me with either a bruised or cracked rib. My breathing was still a bit shallow and tight due to stiffness so it may have caused my lactate to build at an unreasonable rate. Either way, I was ridiculously slow. As a punishment to myself for being so crappy at the TT I decided to go to the afternoon race and torture myself at my favorite bike park, Tranquility. The name is really quite appropriate, even on a busy day I may see 10 riders the whole time I am there and my son can do the entire loop and nobody seems to mind us walking sections. Which by the way are fewer and fewer this year. The little dude will probably clear the whole course next year, but that is a different story. So, the race was to be a Short Track race. I have never tried it before so I was a bit leery at first.

Thankfully the Cat 3 40Plus group went off before us and I could see that they were taking it easy and not going too hard. The other great thing is that 3 laps took only 15 minutes. I didn’t fail in the morning race until about 15 min in so I figured maybe I could last. Heck it was only a year ago that I would rip this entire section in the dog and never change gears from the flat to the moderate climb that was the real race section here. At the start I went very easy hitting the climb at the back of our group of 9. I passed 4 guys along the way and entered the trees in 5th.
Then I hit a tree and fell about 10 seconds in to that section…great. Back to 8th as 3 passed me while I quickly got my yard sale out of their way. I jumped on no worse for the wear it was just a hard shoulder tag and a clean endo. The second lap was uneventful as I took the back and tried to see if I could put on a late surge on the final climb. Sadly, I could not. Instead I saw an opening at the very top and passed two guys right before the descent. I passed one last dude on the final straight and tried to sprint for I was about 3 or 400 yards from the finish and there was a guy loitering down the trail. He must have thought I was way too far back to worry about. Any way, the guy I had just passed tried to go by me and I big dogged it and tore ahead to get the guy up the trail. He heard an elephant panting and tugging at his big gear and turned just in time to challenge me. It must have looked kind of ridiculous to the 10 or so spectators who saw me charging for 5th but this dude was game and he was not going to just let me nip him at the line. He got out of his saddle and we did a real sprint for the line. I came out from his slipstream at exactly the precise time and dug deep. I had been at redline for about 200 yards before he stood, but I still managed to swing out and pull even. We both shoved our bikes at the line…it was very close. He got me by 4 one hundredths of a second. I saw that he barely got me…timing chips were the proof. It really was my highlight of the weekend. I was slow and depressed, but I still had a killer instinct. Everybody that beat me that day earned it, I still will never let anybody get a freebie. Never. Even though I really and I mean really sucked it was still fun to pretend. Race three was a straight up XC race. Two laps at Tranquility on Sunday afternoon. This was an epic fail from every angle. I felt horrible, the bike was having trouble, and it was 97 degrees out. I did one lap as the front crank became useless and was actually ghost shifting because it was detaching from the bottom bracket. The front fork was bottoming out even though it was locked out. I may have been able to nurse it for two laps but I was going so slow it seemed pointless. So I bailed and waited to see Qman decimate the under 10 race. He was stoic at the start, but I had given him instructions that as an official Jackrabbit racer it was imperative that he hit the single track in first. I was ecstatic as he whipped by while buzzing the pace rider’s back tire. The pacer was about 14 and riding a 29er it was really funny. The kid had not expected someone on sixteen’s to be that fast.

He hasn’t seen Qman at top speed on his SS I guess. Any way the pace kid sped up and Q hit the single track in first. That meant that all the kids and I mean all the kids were chasing a 5 year old on a tiny bike with no gears. He hit the technical section that included a straight wall that is twice his height and a log fall that is twice the thickness of his tires. The little bugger didn’t even dab. Now the bigger kids were worried…he actually pulled away from them at this point. There was a long straight on a dirt road that connected two parts of the trail. Two nine year old boys on 26 inch bikes got past Quinn who was turning about 10,000 rpms trying to stay ahead of them. They hit the last single track section and Q maintained third right behind them.
It was freaking awesome.

Friday, August 6, 2010