Monday, December 7, 2009

NBX CROSS RACE, Master's 35 +, cat 123...

So…ehhhh…where do I start w/ this one…

Let me start w/ the first excuse here. It's my off season!!!! Though it was my “off season” and I had not been on the bike very much, I thought doing this race would be a good motivator.  I also needed to retest my LTHR and what better way of doing so than actually racing.   When I looked at the times, cat 4 ‘s race was at 8:30 am.  Not exactly my idea of a good racing time, especially in December when it’s really freaking cold in the AM.  And, since I did fairly well at the last cross race I did in September, I thought I would just upgrade to cat 3 and race the master’s 35+ at 11:30.  ...good idea…

......Yeah, I am not quite sure why the hell I thought I could pull off upgrading after having done 1 cross race and being at my worse fitness, but I did.  Perhaps there was some arrogance from my mtb season... which is now all gone!

The course was pretty flat but quite muddy w/ a couple of roots here there.  Since I was racing my mtbike, roots were no issue.  The challenges were the fast sections into the tight turns on the mud and the fairly long sections of asphalt (excuse # 2), and the beach run (I still don't get why cross likes running?  What is that about?). Overall, not a mountain bike course at all (excuse #3).

We lined up on asphalt which S curved in a parking lot into a short steep muddy little climb.  Since I signed up at the last possible minute, I got to line up at the back of the pack.  This actually worked out, since when the whistle blew, I got dropped right away!  The climb which had not been a problem during warm up, was packed and a mess. I had to dismount and start running.  By the time I was back on the bike I was loosing positions rapidly.  My goal had been to try to stay w/ G. on the team and ride his wheel but he was getting away.  On the dirt section I was able to stay w/in reach but when entered the second longish section of asphalt, at the end he had put an even bigger gap on me. That plan was not going to work, and I knew by the end of the first lap, I needed to change my goal to not getting lapped and not DFL.  During the second lap, the few stragglers in the back w/ me were pulling away, especially every time we hit pavement. There was only one guy left behind me and he kept on getting closer during those asphalt sections.  

Well in the end, boy oh boy, did I get my ass handed to me.  Worse of all was that I did end up getting @#%$ lapped!!!! Hell the only way it could have been worse is if I really injured myself (though then I would have had a reasonable excuse).  So the two highlights of the race are: i did not bleed or brake anything (though my drivetrain might disagree), and that last guy never passed me.  

I did have a great time and other than the shame and the embarrassment , it was actually fun.  A couple of thoughts I took home: there is something really paradoxical about running on the beach when you are bike racing; and it is really neat to be racing in December.  I need to use cross more next year to not lose as much fitness as I did in my off season.  One more thought: I did get lapped by Johny B and Kevin H. who will be the guys I"ll be racing against next season in Cat 1.  This race put that into perspective…

Friday, October 23, 2009

Race Report: Providence Cyclocross race day 2: Master’s Cat 4

The day started w/ getting pulled over by the police not four blocks from my home.

I was of course running late, and was seriously speeding through the neighborhood without ever checking to see if there happened to be a cop around…since there normally isn’t! “Driver’s license and registration please”. At least he used please. Last month when I got pulled over, the cop used the F word a LOT and was sputtering and spitting he was so furious (that‘s a different story). “…you know you just went through two stop signs and were speeding don’t you?....U have a race?” I was in my full kit already. “yes officer, I was trying to make it for the start time in Roger William’s park” He took off w/ my paperwork and I was certain that was going to delay me too much for my first CX race. Yet he was back w/in minutes handing me my license, insurance, and registration. “you got a speeding ticket last month didn’t you? Where?” “In East Providence sir” “you know this ticket would cost you over three hundred dollars? But since this is the first time you get pulled over in this town, I’ll let you off w/ just a warning! Good luck on your race!” “Thank you officer, have a nice day!” What a nice bunch of guys our local cops!!!!

Since this was my first cross race, or even attendance, I had no idea what to expect. My USA license is good for cross…what da ya know… More expensive than mtb though. At the race I quickly found some team mates who are avid/dedicated/obsessive CX guys (like me w/ mtb). The advice was to practice remounting while running. A couple of tries showed me I needed to make sure I kept track of where my pedals were before jumping back on the bike. Also landing on my upper thigh on the saddle instead of the general taint area would most likely save me some serious pain. Obvious stuff but not a given. I did not get much of warm up and heard on the PA, this was the “last call” for my group. Crap! I was actually on the other side of the park still warming up. Made it just in time and since I was the last person to register, got called up last. The group looked big, and I was the only guy on an mtb.

Since I was having a pretty good mtb season, I had been told I would do quite well in cat 4 Master’s. Ugh, that was not pressure I needed, especially since I was now hanging w/ the roadies/cx guys on the team and had to show that my mtb results were no fluke or a sign that mtbers are not as fast as roadies. It’s already bad enough that cat "2" mtb is only really equal to cat "4" road.  40+ years old and crap like that was still going through my head… Anyways, I was looking to win this one (since I was expected to) and starting all the way in the back was not helping my pre race jitters. “Get to the front as fast as you can” came a seasoned team mate’s advice…

Off we went and a sea of cx guys was flooding the way. People were bumping into each other and cutting each other off. The start at mtb racing can also get a little hectic but there just are never this many racers vying for the hole shot. Also I am always lined up at the front getting the hole shot! As we cleared the pavement and funneled into the double track, people were crashing into each other and wiping out. Slowly I elbowed my way through the pack but was already completely red lining. Racing on my mtb was giving a little bit of an edge on the tight turns though as I could take the lines over the tree roots everyone was avoiding, and allowed me to pass a couple of racers. By the beginning of the second lap racers were starting to thin out and I felt like I had made up some good ground on the front. Sadly though, I had given it all that I had and had nothing more to give. There were a couple of guys in front of me, but I had lost contact w/ pole position. As we hit the pavement the second time around, I got dropped pretty quickly but fought my way back once back on the grass. At the start of the third lap, it was still the same three guys and I switching positions. Any time we hit anything straight they would pass but as soon as we entered the twistier track I would pass again. Eventually I was able to hold a slight lead to those guys but had no idea how many more racers were in front. I knew there were quite a few and that they were un-catch-able as the PA would announce them lapping while I was still quite far from the start/finish area. By the end of the second lap I was so far in the red that I could see through the fog that was forming in my brain, my team mate cheering me on, but could not register what he was saying. That was most likely a good thing cause I am sure he was hurling some insults to try to motivate me. In the end I was able to hold of those three guys and ended up placing 8th out of 58. Not first but not too bad for my first cross race.

My heart rate monitor showed that I hit 190 bpm 10 seconds into the race and never came down below that for the rest of the 34 mins race time. Most of the time it was hovering around 195! That is pretty intense and I definitely need to warm up a lot more next time…if there is a next time. I had a lot of fun, no doubt! It was a super twisty course that had some really good flow and was challenging. From that perspective, I would love to do another CX race. Yet on the other hand I am done w/ cycling for a while. It has been a long and hard mtb season, I am ready to spend some time sitting on the couch doing nothing or playing the wow 10 day demo I am downloading. Maybe even put on a couple of pounds…

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Racing Results and Standing for 2009 Season.

3rd Place Finish: King of Burlingame, Charlestown, RI; MTB Time Trials, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 3/5/2009.

8th Place Finish: Bunny Hopbrook Dam Mtn. Bike Race, CT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 4/11/2009.

3rd Place Finish: Fat Tire Classic, Winding Trails, Farmington, CT;  Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 4/26/2009.

1st Place Finish: Winsted Woods MTB, Winsted, CT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 5/17/2009.

1st  Place Finish: Putney/West Hill Mtn. Bike Race, Putney VT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 6/28/2009.

1st  Place Finish: Domnarski Farm Race, Ware, MA; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 7/5/2009.

2nd  Place Finish: Root 66 Racing at Mt. Snow, Dover, VT;  Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 7/26/2009.

1st  Place Finish: Annual Hodges Village Dam, Oxford, MA;  Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 8/2/2009.

1st  Place Finish: U.S. Cup/Snow Shootout, Mt. Snow, Dover, VT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 8/6/2009.

1st Place Finish: Bikes for Bovines, Keene, NH; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 8/23/2009.  Also full category win.

1st Place Finish: Norcross Scurry, Ashford, CT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 8/29/2009.

1st Place Finish: Mt Snow, Trail of Two Lakes, West Dover, VT; Root 66 MTB Race Series, Cat 2, Age 40 to 49, on 9/20/2009.

2009 Series Winner for the Root 66 MTB Race Series for Cat 2, Age 40 to 49.

National Rank by USA Cycling for Master’s Cat 2: 8th (out of 1200

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Cat 2 Series Winner

So I won the 2009 Root 66 Race Series for Cat 2 (age 40 to 49). Yeah…pretty sweet…I guess. I thought I would be more excited about winning it than I am. Maybe it was the fact that I knew a month ago I had it pretty much locked down. So maybe it was the lack of surprise or the absence of possibly not getting it. Maybe it’s the knowledge that winning Cat 2 means next season I will race Cat 1. That right there comes w/ a lot mixed feelings. Perhaps it is the fact that officially winning it means the season is officially over. Which means no more racing (I am not in that CX craze everyone seems to have been bitten by – though I have never really tried it), cold is coming, it gets dark freaking early, and that only means long rides in a dark basement staring at wall for the next four/five months?! Shit, I think I am whining… Root 66 will supposedly send me a jersey stating I did win the series, and if it's a nice jersey, I might wear it proudly when on training rides and that might bring some excitement.
That whole Cat 1 idea is going to have to be a topic on its own as the moment it came up, so did a lot of pretty strong conflicting feelings..

Also of note was that I was ranked 8th in the WHOLE USA for Cat 2 (out of 1190 cyclist). Being top 10 in the country (of cat 2) has a pretty nice sweet sound. I have to admit that at times I toy w/ the idea of dropping the Cat 2 context completely out. That would actually mean I would be on level w/ an Armstrong, Zabriskie, Hincapie, Leipheimer, or more "realistically" with the likes of JHK, Craig, and Bishop etc... That has a really nice ring to it and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in my pink fuzzy fantasy world but...I'd better step up my training before I really do that! First I have to beat the local cat 1 guys, and that is most likely not going to happen, especially guys like Johny B.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Root 66 Race Series, Mt Snow, Trail of Two Lakes

Race Report for Mt Snow, Trail of Two Lakes, 9/20/2009

This was the most exiting race of the year!!!

Weather: Could not be better!

Course description: Third time this season for racing Mt Snow, w/ the first two resulting in a lot of bitching from racers (incl me). None too happy to be back at Snow for the season finally, but got there on Sat to pre ride, as they supposedly had redesigned the course somewhat. Lo and behold, course was awesome! Dry…I have to say that one again…dry. I feel like Homer Simpson, saying donuts... Climbing was done on the access roads all the way up (+- 2K feet I believe). Steep and loose but all rideable. At the top, the course shot into some really twisty gnarly singletrack, the likes I have not seen yet this season. Some sections were long sections of just roots. The tires would not touch dirt for yards. Then there were rocks, lots of them, big and sharp ones, with the course actually being in a dried up stream bed. Somehow though, it all had some great flow to it. The downhill being so dry allowed for a superfast and fun descending. The speed did add some good adrenaline, for if you screwed up, you were going to be in a world of hurt.

We had to do two laps. Turnout was low, but the usual faces were there, including the guy who beat me at the first Mt Snow. He took off pretty fast and I had to give it all to stay w/ him. Half way up the first lap I was really struggling to keep to his wheel but I really did not want to let him go. I was hoping he was riding faster than he could sustain w/ me on his wheel and that he would blow up on the second lap. Though at that pace, I was pretty sure I was going to blow up on the second one too. He had created a little gap by the top, but I caught back to him pretty quickly on the downhill. It seemed I was faster on the down, so my goal became to stick to him going back up, and pass him just before entering the downhill section and try to drop him. As we started going up the second time around, he seemed to be struggling just a bit so I passed him but could not drop him. Soon he had me passed again, but was not dropping me. As we neared the top, I screwed up over some rocks and had to dismount which gave him quite a big gap. He entered the downhill section way before me. So much for my very clever plan! I was able to catch back up and half way down found a section to pass him. I flew down, completely out of control to try to gap him. He stuck to me though and to my great frustration, slowly passed me again on an uphill section 20 yards before the finish. As he crested the top and turned to go down toward the finish, he took it wide, and I was able to cut to the inside and gave it everything I had left! I came in first by a bike length.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Root 66 Race Series, Landmine Classic

Landmind Classic, Higham, MA, 9/13/09

Boy was I looking forwards to this race.  After the US Cup, this is the biggest race.  Not only because of the huge annual turnout, the epic 26 miles technical race, or the GT Golden bike award, but also because cat 2 and cat 1 race the same course and distance.  This is the time where I would get to see where I would place if raced cat 1.  This is the humbling moment.

Well the start went well, and unlike last year, I got there w/ plenty of time (kinda of) and was able to get some warm up before the start.   W/in the first three miles I was able to claw my way into first position and was feeling pretty good.  Sadly, after I caught some air coming off a bridge, I landed right on a sharp rock w/ my front wheel.  The moment I heard the metal sound I knew this was not good and was expecting to flat.  Somehow my tire held air for about a mile.  It was just a tease though as it then suddenly went flat.  I had a spare tube and though got caught by everyone as I was changing it, I knew the race was long, perhaps affording me a chance to catch back up w/ some.  As I got the spare tube in, inflated it, it went flat right away.  At that time I also noticed the serious wobble in my front wheel and the fact the rim edges were bend in.

It was a long freaking walk back to the start.  A nice rider handed me a tube which held and I was able to ride the last mile to the car.  One DNF for me.  People say better DNF than DFL, but at least when you DFL you get to ride the whole course, so I"ll take a DFL any day over a DNF!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Root 66 Race Series, Norcross Scurry, Asford, CT

Abbreviated Race Report for the Norcross Scurry, Root 66 Mtb Race Series, 8/29/2009

Weather: If you stuck your head out on Saturday (or raced), you know…full storm, just downgraded from a hurricane

Course: 6 miles of ankle deep peanut butter mud w/ rocks and roots hidden under all of that. Anything with more than a 3% grade up was unrideable due to loss of traction. Even on the flat sections it was a granny gear spin to keep your traction. Then it would be spinning like crazy to only be moving at 3 mph.

Race: start..mud in your eye….run…run…run some more, ride, back to running, running some more…ride, mud in both eyes…blind…rocks…otb…run…ride…otb again…swearing, cursing, drop of water bottle…run…fall while running, some more cursing..ride.. finished 1st. 

The picture is Nate, a team mate who was brave enough to come out and play on this day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH

Race Report for Root 66 MTB Series: Bikes for Bovines, NH, 8/23/2009

Climb mother phucker, climb!

Course: start in a nice quaint farm; quick fire road onto short section of pavement and back another fire road that went up, and up, and up…five miles of straight unrelenting climbing. The climb started on a nice groomed fire road but then turned into a loose wet slippery rocky dirt track. 2000 feet elevation gain on that first climb. At the top of the climb, the course shot into tight twisty, off camber, rocky and rooty single track which was very wet from the massive rains NH had gotten over the past two days. Looking at your brakes the wrong way at the wrong time and down you went! Several miles in, another climb, this one shorter but w/ many sections too steep and muddy to actually ride. The last three miles were fire roads back down: flying in the big ring and aero position to gain as much speed as possible. Lap length: 13 miles. Thank dog, we only did one!

They called us up by age group and lined us up accordingly, but then announced a mass start! There were three age groups lined up in front of us and somehow we all to have to fit through the narrow start gate. The whistle blew and of course it was one giant ass cluster phuck. Riders were banging into each other. One of them banged into me, making me bang into someone else who … To add some insult, right after the gate was a giant mud puddle through which I went flying (no choice as I was stuck in a pack). I lost traction, slipping sideways, about to go down, but then slamming into the racer next to me, who went down, but helped me stay up right. Thanks! The climb was wide enough that everyone could pass. Some were racing up, while others were settling in. I tried to find a guy that seemed to have the same pace as me and grabbed his wheel. People were passing but then burning up and dropping back. Within the first ½ mile there were only 10 riders left in front, and that number quickly dropped to 6. The rest of the pack was falling back and a good gap was starting to form already. A racer behind me picked up some speed and passed me, so I grabbed his wheel. Slowly we started to pick off the rest of the riders ahead. One by one. I had no idea how long the climb was and noticed I forgot to reset my computer. DOH! So my strategy was to stick to the guy in front and try not to burn up all my matches. Several miles in, still climbing, without any type of brake what so ever, we had passed everyone. My legs were screaming and I was struggling to catch my breath, but just kept on holding on. The guy’s pace was starting to come down and I could tell he was getting tired. I eventually passed him and he grabbed my wheel. We finally (!!!) crested the top and started the tricky single track. He fell behind quickly and had soon lost him. I finished the rest of the course by myself, and beat him by two minutes.

I ended up winning not only my age group but the whole field. This was pretty sweet for me since I was on the next day, adding one more year to the pile of years I had already collected, so it was nice to beat all those younger guys!

If you like climbing, add this race to your calendar next year. This was a massive climb.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Race Report for US Cup Mountain Bike Series

This was the big one of the year.  The National circuit!

I raced this course two weeks ago for the Root 66 Series w/ a second place finish. At that time, I told myself not to do two laps the day before the race, since it was too much of a work out and it contributed to my legs crapping out on the second lap of the race. Two weeks later, the day before my biggest race of the year, there I was doing a second lap. I did try to convince myself that this was not a sign of being a dumb ass, but rather a result of not having been on the bike at all since last Sunday’s race (the Root 66 Race Series Hodges Villages - 1rst place finish btw). My knee had been really bothering me during that race; so much so I finished the last section of the last lap w/ my right leg unclipped and only pedaling w/ the left. So, I told myself, I needed a little bit of a workout to get the blood flowing again in my legs. That was the reason for the second lap. Yeah sure!

Two weeks ago, the course had been a draining mud fest that was as challenging going up as it was down, w/ no traction in either direction. It had since dried up significantly, making for a much faster course, especially on the downhill. I would almost say it was maybe kind of almost a fun course. The climbs were still stupid steep, w/ sections only the pros could ride, but the techy stuff was now much more manageable w/ good clear lines. The downhill singletrack actually allowed for good momentum w/ out the fear of death, and to occasionally catch some air. Here is a video of the women pros ridding the same course: (

The day of the race, my brother and I were warming up about an hour before the race and surprise, surprise…my legs were of course sore and feeling tired (as were his). In addition, the guy who beat me by over two minutes here two weeks ago, was warming up, looking very fresh and way too relaxed. Also, since this was a national circuit race, we had to do 3 laps instead of the two. Right there I thought I could see the writing on the wall!!

Since the turnout was absolutely dismal (18 in my age group, maybe 50 for the whole category), “they” decided it was going to be a mass start for all the age groups. Always good to find out of these things 15 seconds before the race starts. I was able to find /fought my way to the second starting row. I needed to make sure not get bogged down by slower riders. I had one thing working for me, which was that in the past two weeks, I had ridden this course seven times. So I knew the lines, and knew that momentum was key in getting through the techy sections. It was really important not to get stuck behind someone who would hesitate, slow you down, or crash.

We went off, and w/in a 100 ft hit the first climb. My legs were feeling really slow and mushy and I was starting to lose some ground. My brother passed me and I tried unsuccessfully to keep to his wheel. At the top of the first climb I was hurting big time already and was not a happy camper. I could no longer see my brother and I knew I had lost track of who was ahead of me. During the decent, I picked up speed and passed quite a few riders struggling w/ the rocks and roots, and regained some ground. Looping back through the spectator area, I was able to spot my brother starting the climb on the other side of the mountain. I told myself that if I was not going to win my age group, I could at least try to have my younger brother not kick my ass. As we climbed, I was slowly gaining ground on him and by the top of the climb had grabbed his wheel. My legs were actually starting to feel better and though I had just put in a big effort, I was feeling better! At the start of the techy decent, he dabbed over a rock garden, and I was able to pass him. I felt good too during the decent, being able to pick my lines cleanly, flowing over the rocks and roots and keeping some pretty high speed. By the end of the first lap I had passed a few more riders. At the end of the first climb on the second lap, I was starting to put some distance on my bro and had again passed a few more riders. By the start of the third lap, there was no one behind me, and I had not seen a rider in front for a while. I had no idea where I was in the standings but thought I was doing alright. My knee felt pretty good and I kept the pace as high as I could. My calf was starting to cramp but I kept pushing through. The last downhill section was all about not cramping up and making sure I did not do anything stupid to end up w/ a mechanical.

I ended up winning my age group by over 5 minutes, and (obviously) beating the guy who beat me two weeks ago, and who came in second this time.

I am going to give my bike some props here. Usually Mt Snow will beat up riders due to the high technical demands of the course, and the steep climbing. Riders have to choose between a hartail for climbing or a full suspension for the downhills. Well, this bike was really having both. It handled the ups like a super stiff and efficient hard tail, and went down like a super plush full suspension bike. That brain concept really works, and a course like mt snow makes that apparent. It was just flawless! (btw, many of the pros were also ridding the Spech Epic)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Annual Hodges Dam, MA

Annual Hodges Dam, MA, 8/2/2009

Seems I never wrote a race report for this race!? Or at least I can't find it. There seems to be some vague memory of writing one...but what ever.... It 's a great fun race. Not a lot of climbing and lots of twisty fun stuff. That race was after some serious rain fall and some sections of the race course required you to wade through waste deep water for several hundred yards! Finished first!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Mt Snow #1

Race Report for Mt Snow, Root 66 Race Series, 7/26/2009.

This was the local race w/ the national race in two weeks on the same course. Come on out and play…

If you have never raced Mt Snow, you just don’t know!!! This sounds stupid, but boy is it true!

Up the ski mountain and then back down. Sure that sounds easy and perhaps even somewhat fun. Sure! The course starts climbing on the north side of the mountain, spits you back to the start area, and then there is the long climb on the south side. This starts on a quaint fire road at a 18 % grade but soon changes to grass. Add the weather we have had, and you get a 1000 feet of climbing in two miles with what feels like ½ of it on wet sloppy soft and muddy power eating kick you down suck up all your freaking energy and leaves you feeling dead nasty m-f’ing muddy grass. For extra fun, Mt Snow had redesigned the course this year to add some climbing on singletrack, but again w/ the weather, this became a no traction push your mud covered bike up a slippery slope. All the while, chair lifts were easily gliding over head, making me wonder why I had not switched over to downhill riding yet. Crap, if technology exits to easily bring you to the top, why put yourself through this... To get to the point: going up was a total suffer fest! Usually the work put in to get to the top gets rewarded when going back down. The downhill section which is usually a very challenging technical trail of roots, drops, and sharp rocks was now slick as could be and in some sections covered w/ one foot of mud. If you grabbed a little too much front brake, you could kiss your front teeth goodbye! This was true for both the north and south side. Welcome to a total masochistic experience (which I paid for and drove 3 ½ hours to get to).

I had gone up Friday. Since my knee had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, I had cut down on my training, and thought it would be wise to make up for the lack of fitness by being well prepared for the course. I pre-rode easy on Friday and like a good idiot rode it hard twice on Saturday. At that time there was enough mud on the course that I bend my derailleur hanger and snapped the inside of my derailleur cage off. Every time I went over a rough section, the chain would fall off the pulley and I would have to pull over to put it back on. On Saturday night I was beat with a giant ice pack on my knee and a mis-functioning bike. Bad knees and skinny carbon parts don’t go well w/ mtbing!

When I lined up on Sunday, my legs were sore and I knew this was not going to be pretty. Everyone at the start line looked nervous and many admitted to having second thoughts about this course. The discussion agreed that no course was as treacherous or challenging as this one, especially at racing speed and w/ all the mud. We went off and my plan had been to stay behind the fastest guy going up the fire road but to be in front the moment we hit the singletrack. This would allow me to pick my own lines instead of getting stuck blindly following. I put a little gap on after the first techy section but had to pull over twice to put my chain back on my pulley, and found myself right back in the group. Again I was able to put a little gap on by the start of the climb on the south side of the mountain and was trying to find a pace to settle into to survive the whole thing. 2/3 of the way up, a guy I did not recognize was on my wheel and was not letting go. We crested the top and started to go down. I dabbed going over a big rock and he passed me. It’s a fairly long way down and by the time we got to the bottom he had pulled open a small gap of 5 seconds. I caught back up to him on start of the north climb and was able to stay w/ him to top, where once again after entering the technical section, I lost my chain. Quickly fixed it, caught back up, and as we were going through the spectator area, I tried to show off and catch some air over this small jump. Dumb ass! Of course I lost my chain again, and it took me three attempts to get it right. By the time I was back on the bike, he was gone and as we started the climb on the south side, I could see him slowly starting to increase the gap. My legs were shot ½ way up and I knew there would be no catching up. It was for me now just a question of holding onto my current position, and not die on the way down again. I did eat some grass when on a flat and easy section I rode right into a well marked (and thankfully padded) ski lift support pole. This was towards the end of the race and I was obviously bonking pretty hard. Another sign of my bonking hard was when on the finishing stretch a kid from another cat passed me, and to my own surprise, I called him a mother f’er!

I finished second, one minute behind. Not the smartest race I have done, but probably good training for two weeks from now for the nationals. Hoping, if the knee holds on until then, for a top 5 finish. The nationals are also a bike fest, w/ road rides, mtb rides, parties at night and cheap camping on the mountain slope if anyone is interested. I am going up Thursday on the 6th and might have some extra space, staying till Sunday!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Domnarski Farm Race

Race Report for Domarski Farm, Root 66 MTB race series 7/5/2009
This was a good family venue: not too far of a drive, on a horse farm with lotsof cute horses you could pet/feed, a zip line and a pond the kids could use.Course had lots of climbing, with some pretty techy terrain, such as lots of wetrocks and giant rocky mud pits. Last year I went OTB hard on some steep rockymuddy downhill section. I recognized the spot right away, but w/ my newsuperduper fast and stable bike, it was no problem this year! I tried ridingthrough the first mud pit but after seeing my front wheel disapear past the huband get stuck, I ran the rest of them. Most of them were at least knee deep anddid not smell so fresh. At one point there was a swamp crossing, requiring youto negotiate several very long and skiny planks (some were 2x4). I of coursesliped and fell in. The water was almost waist deep and very warm and green. When I got out, I was expecting to find several leeches attached to my legs.The usuals suspects lined up at the starting line and when the took off, the guywho always takes off fast and then blows up, took off! I stayed w/ him andwaited for him to blow and passed him. Never saw anyone from my groupthroughout the race again, and ended up winning by 3 mins. Some guy in sneakerstook third.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Putney, VT

Race Report for Root 66 MTB series: Putney/ West Hill VT

Well I hate to state the obvious but VT ain’t no RI!!!!

This was a very personal race for me as my younger brother was racing the cat 2 w/ me though the younger age group. At the end we would be able to compare our times!!!! Ahhhh brotherly love and competition. He is normally a fast mofo, and is currently leading the NY/NJ series. I have not been able to keep up w/ him in a long time.

Before pre-riding the course, I had read online it was about almost a 1000 feet of climbing per lap, and we would be doing 3 laps. I had actually no freaking idea what that meant but found out when doing a lap for warm up: it hurts! The course was up, down, up, down, up, up, up, up, up, down, and back up for a long time. There were no flat sections. On top of that because of all the rain, the first half of the course was super slick w/ lots of off camber roots, which made traction something special to come by. And in some of the long climbs, the soil was soft and muddy to make sure you really were working it. For those of you who have done the Winsted Woods race, it made that course look flat. Welcome to freaking Vermont!

Right from the start, the guy who had beat me at the second race this season took off like a bat from hell! (Here is the video of the start: I had to give it everything I had to keep up and then reel him in. I knew from the last race that the moment we would hit the slick techy section, I would be able to pass him. And indeed once the course got really slick and rooty, I was able to pass him and I just stomped on it. I wanted to try to set the tone and bluff about my fitness for it to be a little demoralizing to him. At the end of the first lap was a LONG straight climb and when I crested and looked back there was no one from age group to be seen. I decided I would try to keep the pace high for the second lap and suffer as much as I could through all the climbs to keep distancing myself. Then I would just try to survive w/out walking any of the hills climbs. It worked as I finished first by three minutes. The icing on the cake, was that my brother won his age group; and even better than that, I beat his time by 18 seconds…(to his fairness he had partied hard the night before). It was a fantastic race and my front derailleur has never seen this much action!

Here is what Jonny Bold had to say about the race:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Winsted Woods

Race Report: Winsted Wood, Root 66 Mtb, Race 3,  5/17/09

I’ll start w/ the important information: I freaking won!!! (Cat 2, 40 to even older age group) And beat the guy who took me by 5 seconds last race by 4 minutes…Jeff placed second in his age group, though really the guy who won should have been racing the next class up. Curtis thought he came in third in Cat 1 (and would have been second if it had not been for an uncooperative root!)The rest really doesn’t matter that much…But here are the details anyways:This course is known for the amount of climbing involved. Mike calls it the mini mt snow race, while Jeff did the math and calculated that it was 2/3 climbing, with 1/3 down. The start of the course shot out of a parking lot into a small field and climbed up this fire road which was muddy, slippery, rocky, and rooty. An awful way to start, as w/in a 100 yards of the race, you are already redlining and gasping for air. The course then twisted up the side of hill on some more slippery single track w/ lots of criss-crossing roots and rocks. Back down on a super fast loose rock fire road, and back up the hill on a fire road w/ good traction. Just as it flattened and you thought you were done, it pointed back up steeply for some extra pain. Flat again, w/ some slippery single track sections and then up again on a fire road in the woods and then continued up through a field (with quite a nice view at the top). Then w/in down some slippery twisty single track which w/in 3 mins spit you back out at the start area. After all that climbing it seemed unbelievable that you could be all the way back down in such a short time and distance. 3 laps for Jeff and I, and I think Curtis had the pleasure of doing 4. (Btw, Curtis, did you race w/ your gps? Do you know what the climbing total was per lap?)Jeff and I got there again w/ some time to spare to make sure we got in a proper warm up. We did a partial ride of the course and got that proper warm up in. Then we just stood around in the cold and waited as the race was delayed by ½ hr. Just long enough to cool all the way back down again. I had to line up at the back of the group and when we went off tried to fight my way to the front as I wanted to make sure that unlike last race, there were not going to be a couple of guys taking off w/ out me realizing they were doing so. As we hit the fire road climb, I was in tenth and we were grouping together. The moment the mud started, people in front started to dab and hesitate and I quickly found myself (after Jeff and I had found during the warm up, a good line through a rocky mud pit) in 4th place. I was starting to hit my max w/ this short climb and decided to just settle there and recover. As the course turned to single track, the guys in front kept on loosing traction over the roots and rocks while I was not (thank you schwable rocket rons and stan!!!). This was allowing me to ride steady and soon found myself recovered and pushing into second place. After rubbing tires w/ the guy in front a couple of times (the guy who beat last race), I decided it would behoove me to be in front so I could read the terrain better and pick my lines more carefully. Just as I was thinking this, I dabbed, and found myself back in fourth. I quickly passed the group and when I glanced back, realized they were falling back quickly. I decided there I would try to really brake away and disappear from sight. By the end of the long fire road climb I was by myself. At the end of the second lap, as I had tried to keep my pace high, I thought I was going to bust. So I started my third lap telling myself to ride smart, not make any stupid mistakes, and of all things not to flat. During the race I was experiencing a flash back as at the last race, I thought I was in first place for a while to only find out a couple of guys had gotten away. Since this was the same scenario again, I talked myself out of thinking I was first, though I had been much more careful to monitor the front this time. When I crossed the finish line, there seemed to be no one from my age group there. Second place came in four minutes after…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Farmintong Classic

Race report: MTBERS posting some results at the Farmington Classic Root 66 Race Series!!!!!

Jeff had stated before race day, that warm up w/ this warm up (!) would be key in the race. Boy was he right!Jeff and I got to the venue about 1 hour before race start and decided to do a lap of the course to warm up. It was fast fire roads, w/ some twisty singletrack thrown in to keep it an honest mtb race. This year it had more single track than any previous years. Nothing more technical than an occasional log crossing (though we did see a guy land on his face from endoing on two small logs that were placed close together). The most difficult aspect would be to lay off the brakes and keep your speed and momentum in the twisty singletrack or sandy fire road turns so that in the heat you would not have to constantly re-launch. Just lean the bike and zip in between those trees, and rail those turns. It was all about flow. And if you could find it, boy did this course just flow. Jeff’s comment after the race summed it up best: “that was (freaking) awesome” (or something like that!).I normally never do very well w/ sprint start and tend to fall off the back and then have to fight the rest of the race to catch up and pick off riders. W/ the warm, I found myself in the lead group right at the start. The start was pretty sandy and needed some negotiation, so I did not get a chance to count all the riders in front of me but I thought I was in 7th place. Soon two groups of 3 riders formed, me hanging on to the last wheel of the second group, while the first was slowly pulling away. W/in a mile, I started to realize that I was not as winded or tired as I though I ought to be. Historically hanging w/ the top ten at a race should have red lined me right away, but I was not. I was actually feeling pretty good. As this course is fast enough to at times use drafting, I came from the behind the wheel of the last guy and sprinted past the second group and grabbed the wheel of the first group. Again, since this was very early in the race, that should have killed me, but I recovered quickly and found myself wanting more. Towards the end of the first lap, I passed the lead guy w/ good “authority” and no one was able to grab my wheel. By the time I went through the start, I could not see them behind me. I was in complete disbelief: this was the end of the first lap, and according to my (mis)calculations, I was actually leading. I tried to keep the pace high during the second lap making sure I was hydrating enough to not overheat, and to keep off the brakes and the flow going. There was no one ahead of me (other than significantly slower riders who were obviously in another category) and no one behind me. In my head, I kept on replaying the start to see if I could figure out if I had missed anyone. Part of me was really exited that I was “dominating” this race, while the smarter part was saying that a group might have escaped at the start w/ out me seeing it. It was not until ½ way through the last lap that someone on the side line encouragingly yelled out to me I was going to podium. I yelled back to see if I was in first, and she answered there were a couple of guys ahead of me. Soon after, I passed another category rider and he told me the next guy in my cat was less than a minute ahead. I gave it all I had and 2/3 of the way through the lap spotted him, when a rider in a group ahead suddenly took off after turning around and seeing my number. I knew he knew... Slowly I gained on him but I was just starting to completely overheat and hit the wall. I actually was able to grab his wheel right before the finish. Sadly, to cross the line the course did a small but steep climb where I just blew up. He beat me by 5 seconds. What sucks is that at the beginning of the last lap, when I came through the feed station, I accidentally dropped my new water bottle when I went to grab it. I had to hit the brakes, turn around, grab it, and get going again. This cost me at least 15 seconds….I ended finishing 3rd, which in the end I was quite happy w/. Jeff had a fantastic race as well and place in second place being only 30 seconds behind. At this time, both Jeff and I are the current race leaders for our age group in cat 2 (sport).
Posted by Refunds Now Cycling Team

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bunny Hopbrook Dam Race, Root 66 MTB Series, race 1

This race should be called: Mud in your eye, …and nose, and mouth, and ears, and places you did not even think mud could a find a way in! This race is known by those who have done it in the past, as a cold, wet, mud fest. Sadly this year, they got the weather forecast right. As I drove down to pick up Jeff, it started to rain, and then it just poured the whole 2 ½ hour drive there. As we pulled into the venue, we could see the cat 1 racers on the course and they were covered in mud from head to toe. Getting ready just sucked! It was cold and wet and so raw. Pre race warm up was not great either and when we lined up at the start, every one was jumping around trying to stay warm. Surprisingly, the start field was really big for this kind of weather. In my age group, 33 people lined up, and the count for the day was well over 300 total racers…who says mtb racing is dead? The course started on a grassy area, where racers lined up almost 10 wide, but narrowed to an opening of 2 ½ racers wide w/in 20 feet. Of course the grass was soaked and that small opening was of course muddy and slippery. Everyone went for the hole shot and a nice pile up ensued. I had stayed back a little bit and made it through unharmed. The next cluster f**** occurred w/ in the next 200 yards when the course once again narrowed to a steep short climb into the woods and into a narrow single track. One racer ahead did not make it up the muddy slope and when he came to full stop right at the top and dismounted, the domino effect happened: everyone off the bike and trying to run up the slope to pass those who are not fully dismounted yet, banging elbows and bikes. Back on the single track I remounted my bike and tried in vain to pedal the slight slope. The mud was like peanut butter and I could feel my tire start to slip side ways. I dismounted again and ran this section (during which I immediately was reminded why it would be a good idea to include some running in my training!), which actually allowed me to pass several riders who themselves were trying hard to find some traction but were just spinning out. I remounted as the trails leveled. Even on level ground, traction was hard to come by and the first little downhill section was pretty treacherous. I was trying to only use my rear brake, which was making my rear tire skid all over the trail, but this worked well enough to keep front most of the time going in the direction I wanted it to.After this single tract section, the course went back to a short section of road , where everyone would gain enough speed to have their front tire spin off all the mud it had collected (on the second lap, I made sure I kept my mouth closed!) The road dumped you into a wet long grass power robbing field, and back into single track. The rest of course, though it included a couple of steep climbs that were un-rideable and, one also almost un-walkable, was challenging but was, as long as you did not try to either push too heavy of gear, or picked the right line, manageable and fun. Still very muddy but w/ traction. The key was to just pick the right lines…As mentioned, I started slow and ended up after the slick section, about 2/3 back. I settled into my pace and became more confident w/ the course about 2/3 in. I then started to pick riders off. I could always see the next racer ahead, and would catch up to them, ride their wheel to push them (and recover just a tad), and once I felt they were starting to slowdown, I would pass them and try to catch the next rider. I did this for the remainder of the race. I wiped out once trying to cut a corner after a fast downhill section to pass a rider I having trouble passing. My rear tired slipped, and suddenly found myself doing a 180 and riding back wards. A little like MTB ballet… In the end I managed to claw my way back to 8th place. Jeff did great and finished in 3rd for his age group. One of my struggles w/ racing is that it takes me so long warm up. I think my placement would greatly improve if I could start fast and stay fast. When I try to start fast, I get winded way too quickly and blow up. Any recommendations on how to improve this would be most welcome. I already try to do fast start intervals but this does not seem to be enough….
Ohhh....and this is what we looked like before the race:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well, I ain't no King...

Race Report: King of Burlingame - 4/5/09

This was a mountain bike time trial w/ each rider starting at a 30 second interval.Good turnout from the team (for a mountain bike race that is) w/ Jeff, Geoff, Nate, Kirk (sp) and myself. 5 refunds riders at an mtb race! Maybe everyone will convert to mtb in the next couple of years (yeah right!).I was wondering how I would fare this year. Last year I was still recovering from my knee injury and never really had any serious training time. This year, though my knee was (and is) still acting up here and there, and has prevented me from putting in hard efforts, I have been able to spend time on the trainer several times a week.Well I am definitely no King (though I have princess like qualities!)Jeff and I pre rode the course yesterday and we had stopped in several sections to try to pick the best lines through some technical sections. Nothing was too bad and everything was ride-able (at least for jeff). Some lines just lend themselves better to keep your momentum. Perhaps there were three tricky sections total. The first was a short uphill then a flat w/ some large sized rocks, this came soon after the start; the second, a large down wet tree over a stream at an awkward angle; and the last was a mud hole with a couple of large rocks after a bridge. Throughout the whole pre-ride I think I dismounted for only those sections w/ everything else being very ride-able.I felt pretty good this morning and was looking forward the season opener. The first 1/3 of the race quickly dampened my enthusiasm. Right from the start I kept on hesitating and taking the wrong lines. I kept on telling myself I should be looking down the trail and not right in front of my tire, but my gaze just kept on coming back to only what was right in front of my tire, resulting in much dabbling and having to walk certain sections which I knew I should have been able to flow through. This was really slowing me down, and starting to piss me off. I did quickly catch up to the guy in front of me which energized me, but when I passed him, I realized it was not because I was fast but rather because he was just really slow. A little bit of a letdown but I was still glad that I at least had passed one guy as I would not end up being dead last.The rest of course was easier and had many more flowing single track sections, and there I found my rhythm. Midway, there was a fire road climb and I saw the next guy in front of cresting the top. Soon after re-entering the single track sections and finding a good flow on the downhill and over the rock ledges, I caught him and saw another racer ahead. That one was hurting, and I had to dismount and run off the trail past him as he was short on air and not quite aware of what he was doing or that I wanted to pass. The rest was just a hammer fest w/ a few mud pits thrown in at the end to slow you down and make you work just a little harder.Though the race was a short 7.xx miles, it was pretty painful from being pretty close to max heart right from the start and having to stay there throughout the race. No time to allow for any recovery and where. I thought I would finish mid pack and ended up finishing third, with a time of 34 min and ?? seconds. This might actually be mid pack since I have no idea how many racers were in our group, and there might just have been 6 or7. It looks like the guy (Steven) who came in second, might have beaten me by less than ½ second. That makes me wish I had not coasted over the finish line! I'll see when the official results are up. Anyways, I did win a nice new pair of Spech gloves.Also of note is that Jeff ended up winning not only his age group but the whole sports category w/ a fantastic time of 31 minutes!