Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turtle Pond, NO! Turtletown Pond

Heat was a factor Saturday when the Capt'n and I raced at Turtletown Pond. It was 90 degrees in the shade at the 1:10 pm start time. The course is an 11 mile lap with two hills being the main features, Oak Hill, a 1 mile 200' vert climb at the start of the lap and a 150' 20% grade wall at about the 8 mile mark.There was a full field of over 40 guys and an official "neutral" first climb up Oak Hill. Then the racing began. The pace was high with some trying to get off the front but the breaks were consistently brought back. I rode on point only once, feeling myself slow the group when facing the wind. There were plenty who thought riding point was the goal, so the pace remained high and hot. This year the promoter added Hot Hole Pond Rd. with the wall coming 3/4 of the way through the lap. It was enough to cull the weaker riders - thankfully since a lot of them were riding willy nilly all over the gruppo's safety zones. "Hey #554, good god man - stay straight PLEASE!" There was still a group of 20 or so after two laps. Last lap: I'm calling for the two on the front to step up the pace on Oak Hill as I'm trapped behind them but they let me through and I'm pushing on the front, coming together over the top since the wind would prohibit me from getting away 10 miles from the finish. There are about 10 of us that seem quite strong in a gruppo of 20 or so and we're doing most of the work. Just before we climb the wall one last time, 1 rider goes off the front. The Capt'n rides up alongside and past me. I'm wondering if he's gonna pull/block/crack open a fresh pack o' Marlboros or? I decide now is the time, ease by and attack the hill. I get to the top and look into the faces just behind me. Tired and haggard! Good! I'm gooooone, chasing and gaining on the guy in blue over the next 2 1/2 miles, head down in TT mode, gruppo chasing. Dang! After a couple miles the group comes over me on the looong downhill 500 yards from the finish. I slot into 7th position, recover quickly and am set up on the road's yellow line in a near-perfect sprint position. We are subject to a 200M yellow line rule so everyone has to wait, wait, wait to cross the middle of the road and explode in a bunch sprint. SOB! A bunch sprint amongst a bunch of newbies, greaaaaat. But at 300 yards out, 5 guys take off left, crossing the road's midline and box me in as the rest respond to my right and the two guys in front of me touch wheels!!! Rubbing, rubbing...EeeeecccKKKKK!!!!!! Brakes! Stablilize! Everyone is still up and I roll across in 13th and relax, having dodged a bloody takedown. Others got gauzed and some carried off earlier in the day; the ambulance crew kept busy since a few crashes happened with the downhill bunch finishes full of New England's Mario Cippolinis.
I felt a bit queasy under the heat a couple of times but my body came up some strong climbing that set some of the race's tone. If it had only finished with the final Oak Hill climb as in past years... ;>)After the close call and nervous riding, I can't wait for some MTB racing! Bolted home afterward to pack and drive to Maryland and back Sunday/Monday for fam,ily's meber's passing. I had a MTBer-only moment when a car with two Greenbriar Challenge race-plated MTB's atop it pass me on 695 late Saturday. Only we understand. Later.
Hmmm, it must be later:I arrived homeafter work last night early and The Clayton pulled up in front of the house for a proper MTB ride. After the road race, driving, funeral and catch up, it was just the Rx I needed to break out of the accumulated funk. Dirt, long climbs, rumbly granite laden twisties and power. We headed into the sunny 60's, trees bursting with lime and chartreuse in the breeze. God inspiring beauty blowing right through me.
We opted for the snowmobile trail wilderness ride. I ended up on my back climbing the knobby power line off of Deer Meadow straight up tip over backward on the super steep that was meant for downhill travel over ledginess. Hardy har har and WTF? all at the same time. Climbed the rest after remounting, passing a heaving Clayton who just plain tuckered out before the top, but not for long. The rest of the ride was an assortment of dusty downhills on branch covered doubletrack and twisty navigation off of Weir Rd finishing out along the Merrimack River singletrack well into nightfall. The power was there for the entire ride. The skills showing and my hands throbbing with trail demands greater than what they'd been accustomed to. A proper ride. Skin intact. Springtime.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who needs pedals?

Saturday's errands:
Pick up birthday cake
Buy cards
Co-op food
Drop off Sidis...
Hey, stop right there! Sew up is more like it although I leave that to the professionals... Concord's Annicharico family cobbler. Forget spending $200 on new Dominators, just go to your local cobbler, right? Yep, that's exactly what I did before '05's Tibet ride and again this year with the pair bought in '07. New velcro, Lorica patches and the magical touch of real shoe craftsmen, priceless. They'll be ready on Saturday and until then I'll just change throw some pre-used cleats on my old sidis to suit the Eggbeaters. The photo I took of a patched Sidi I shot on the Lamna La that the cobblers have tacked to the wall made me feel confident. Ready in a week? Good stuff.
I returned home with the morning's hunter-gatherer harvest and changed out the cleats on the old pair. "I dunno, these things look pretty worn." I could just push the newly cleated shoes in and out of the pedal with one hand. Dumb racer brain takes over, reminding me that I hate Shimano pedals for MTBing.
1 day later, The Clayton shows up and we're off for 09's inaugural Quarries ride. Hmmm, the cleats sure are releasing easily, ah whatever... Beetch! My foot pops out. "Muthafaaka I hate that when that happens!" as in when ya pop out of an eggbeater and the end of it bashes into the side of your ankle - a mortal reminder when navigating a tight little rocky knar. I gave up relying on staying attached to the pedals and just started goin' for it and transformed into MASHER, LORD OF THE QUADS! The Whaleback rock? Check. Baby head clutter? Check. Hmmm, trackstand while waiting for my bud to clear the Rockpile? Check? Power up and over said Rockpile? Check. I guess I can ride like a big boy, momma. Sometimes sheer Will makes it happen when reliance on equipment fails. Easter Sunday was that day. 5 days until Return of the Sidi.
Which reminds me: When I was changing the cleats at home Jeremy at S&W created a monster at my urging: FRANKENSHOCK. He called me late Saturday with a smiley toned "gotterdun".
Directions for a FRANKENSHOCK
1. Buy a mint 20# 2001 Homegrown Limited in 2008 for $950
2. Race the SID Race on it for a season, letting the frustration of a racing a wiggly noodle fork without a lockout buildup in you all year
3. Buy a used '06 SID World Cup, crack the steerer while sizing it after you discover why it was only $50-the headset cap insert was ripped out by an Aggroman
4. Have a revelation to change out the Race's cartridge with the WC cartridge and lockout mechanism
5. Install it in the Race's body
6. Break off the shifter indicator on the your front XTR derailleur lever to make room for the lockout bar mount
7. Attach cables
8. Throw seven grains of salt over you left shoulder while chanting kirtan's to a Yogini
and voila, FRANKENSHOK.
Suddenly I wonder if I should go hammer me Mt Snow's XC Nationals climbs again. Naaaaa. Maybe at The Pinnacle, or Putney. Ya, Putney.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Struggle

I'm having a crisis. It all amounts to an internal conflict with the angel on one shoulder chatting up social riding, a relaxed season and an extra beer. Ahhhh, just to relax for a season. Oh how I long for thee, oh mistress of ease.
Then there is the devil, complusive, agitating me, goading me with a long pointy thing, compelling me to train! Look at your weight! Ride with a purpose, not for clowning around. You've got work to do and a race rep to live up to so get serious!
Oh how I hate the devil and love the sensations that he/she evokes: accomplishment, discipline, long term purpose... hey wait a sec... maybe the devil is the angel and the angel is really the devil!?! WTF, see I am having a crisis. Welcome all to my world. Truth be told, I suspect many of you who take the time to check other hack's racing blogs feel the same way. Maybe I should start a club, or a program: Race Addicted Compulsive Egos Riding Seriously, aka RACERS. Ingenious. I could cultivate them and then get them to buy into a 12 step program. Moowaahaahaahaa! MOOOwahahaha! I must be money.
I've lost 8-10 pounds in the past few weeks following my aforeblogged revelation that spinning classes and weekend riding does not a racer make. Also drilled some hillclimbs climaxing with 5 ascents of Carter Hill Tuesday evening- 3 x seated and 2 x standing and rocking the hill. Grrrr.
Looks like the devil and I sleep well together. Not so sure about angels, soft, fluffy, gentle, kind, embracing....... temptresses if ya ask me. Time to climb. 4/25's Turtle Pond race looms., dammit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Old Weird Harold

Not so Fat Albert here reporting on the latest, wish it was the greatest, riding report(s). Harold Parker State Forest is laced with flowy and not so flowy technical challenges. For the newbies, there's doubletrack and a bunch of bruises waiting around each corner of the rocky technical stuff, and for the experienced, a set of wild ass super fast techincal power demanding trails. I myself prefer the latter, although bruises have their place in the past. Far away past, like last week even.
Last Thursday, The Clayton and I met at the Derry Park and Ride(how appropriate) and we parked(!) and then drove to HP where we ripped it for over two hours, riding away from the guides and lofting ouselves up, over and through every rock garden and uprock and drop. Rode super solid and beefy with the turbos on. Every once in a while it all goes right and ya just gotta keep on the gas and do it front to back. That was last Thursday evening. But the tale takes a twist folks: when we returned to the P&R lot, The Clayton packed away his wheels, clothes, dish washer, etc. and then drove off - leaving his C'dale Rush upside down in the parking lot. Quite a sculpture left behind in the Park, Ride and Forget lot. Priceless.
His call came Friday afternoon while I was deep into company heavy shite et al "Oh man oh man oh man, did you pick up my bike man? I think maybe it's in your car but man man man...." he went on for a while like this and after I did a quick "Yes a bike has NOT materialzed in my car overnight' check, his heart sunk further. For all of you Derry Park and Ride enthusiasts: it is a Black and orange RUSH with shimano stuff and naturally, a Lefty. If is had been a NORMAL FORK, he would have dropped the wheel out, loaded it and then put his bike in the back seat. Bad C'dale, Bad! Speaking of bad, C'Dale just announced it is offshoring and outsourcing its manufacturing. So much for buy USA. BUY TAIWAN everyone. It's American. Kinda.
My next race: The TurtlePond Circuit Race on April 25. My god: I prerode two weeks ago and realized just how much my power has lapsed since the fall. Oak Hill just about brought and end to my"I can compete at this" attitude. So that humbling made me focus a bit and bring on some hillclimbing. The test came with two laps yesterday, under control and with decent power. Two or three more hilly rides and I should be 10-4 good buddy. Until then, ow.