Monday, October 18, 2010

Video Fix - Bavarian Cowpath Extravaganza


Somehow bringing my stuff(kit, helmet, shoes, pedals, tools, tube etc.) leads to hitting the trails and breaking up otherwise end to end days of work. It's a welcome event and this past weekend Georg picked me up at the hotel in Munich and we ventured south to the Alpen lands of Leggries, taking in a gravel road ascent and cow-path descent up out of and back down into the clouds. That was one good beer consumed listening to some old gents singing traditional tunes while overlooking a sea of white with Austria jutting upward beyond. This bit of vid should give you some of the malty flavor. What a day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ECCC Collegiate Racing

Catamount Family Center Oct 2
For the past several weeks, the local collegiate MTB racing scene been rockin'. These kids, ahem , young adults, fly in both XC and gravity events split between Saturday and Sunday with XC and Dual Slalom or 4 Cross the first day, and STXC and DH on Sundays.
I've be travelling with the UNH team as "coach" and it's been wicked good, ayup.
Exhibit A(Catamount Family Center Oct 2):
Exhibit A implies there is an Exhibit B(Catamount Oct 2):

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mount W and Tinker




Moments before winning, Nico Toutenhoofd grinds up 22 degrees of pain.




That's Peter Ostrowski getting career advice from Tinker Juarez, atop Mt Washington moments after Tinker placed 2nd in 58:08. Thanks to Tom Barton's invitation earlier in the week, Tom and I spent the weekend transporting, breaking bread, and sharing the glow with a guy whose prolific results still has him a professional at 49. Tinker was a graciously approachable, chatting it up with none other than this 10 year old lad - Jonah Thompson from Albequerque, NM. The kid rode a full size frame with 150mm cranks and a rolled up the big one in only 1:28.(!)

Equally impressive was Andy Chambers' ride, a 1:02 good for thirteenth overall. I've got to post Andy's and Tinker's shots here with appropriate signage backdrop reading "OLD POWER HOUSE."
A good day on Mt W.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Running the Great Wall


The Great Wall at Mitianyu- a notch in some of the super steeps of the Wall.

Tower 23.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the past 11 days spent on supplier visits and 2 day's as tourist in the PRC(People's Republic of China) and Hong Kong. My god it was hot(90-105 degrees) and smoggy. NH is truly Disneyland in every pleasant respect.
We had to run downhill on the Great Wall to make our ride back to Beijing.
What a blast of economic prosperity, construction, and crush of people! Saw a few fantastic sights: Beijing's Olympic Village and The Forbidden City and people people people...

The Forbidden City
And of course there was the bike, not just any bike but a rear suspension rocker!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

GET DIRTY

If you havent' seen the new MTB anthem, have at it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

VT MTB Fest- Not USAC

250 rode for two days of exquisite stuff. Highly recommended.

Here is some footage of the Waterbury VT MTB Festival last Saturday.

It's from the "Stowe Epic" including some fantastic bench cut trails and the stuff on the von Trapp estate ( yes, The Sound of Music). A guy named Hardy has done a big chunk of creating the trails and he took us out for a good long 5.5 hrs of saddle time. It was somewhere around 90 degrees - perfect for a 200 oz of H2O summer ride.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mont Tremblant Race Report

Mont Tremblant was quite a scene: a slopeside ski village with a hundred stores, restaurants and bars, merged with a hotel complex. Big. I ventured down to the start finish area and saw some of the mondo-racer types finishing the 58K trail run. The finish area was on the Lac Tremblant beach, after the racers ran straight through the middle of the village. I imagined myself slipping underneath the surface after finishing the next day. The podium was huge, as was the production the promoter pulled off, something well integrated with the local businesses and Mont Tremblant resort.
The MTBMind team came together in time for a couple of pics and nervous reassurances before hitting the hay. Our 4:10 am alarm wasn't needed after a night of hooting and hollering out in the street as partiers, well, partied in displays of righteous inebriation on an echoey street. The start was 25K away. Steve's family sleepily carted us to the starting field and before we knew the details, Dan started the race. I am seen here licking magic sleep crusties while poised for pain.Game on. The same silly fast start as a 2 hr XC race blasted away from me. I took up a position alongside Katherine for a bit, hoping to survive what I thought would be 6 to 7 hours of riding, feeling the weight of power bars, tools and tubes straining the fabric of my jersey, pulling the whole jersey back thus effectively strangling me until which time I loosened it to the point where oxygen resumed its flow into my bloodstream and my eyes reopened.
The first fields gave way to some nice wooded singletrack over the farmland of Bertrand, president of art glass designer thinkglass.com, and friend of Dan Desrochiers who had built some trails for the heck of it. I came across him twice on the trail as he clicked off some pics that he later sent my way via e-mail - including the promise that he'll race it next year. His trails were tight and had a nice steep flow through lush Quebec woodland.
Eventually we came to the second checkpoint and feed station. They were at 10K intervals throughout the race, manned by great support people who'd grab my bike, fill my bottle and offer bananas, PB&Js and boiled potatoes alongside hammer gel. I opted to carry one bottle and refill it at every checkpoint, which worked perfectly except for the 7th and 8th checkpoints which seemed VERY far from one another, but maybe it was becasue of the something thousand feet of climbing in between. At around 40K I rode up on Steve S and we pedalled for the next 25-30K or so with James, who eventually finished third in the three day full solo event. The guy can ride and after two days of killing himself, eventually rode away from Steve and I when we got to the 5K backside climb of Mont Tremblant. The climb was after what I guess was 5 hours of riding and in 80 degree heat, up a fireroad in the sun. Unlike the race's previous sensations, walking parts of the mountain was friggin' demoralizing except that when I reached the halfway point, Tyler Merritt was laid out on a chairlift seat, regrouping or sleeping or cursing but definitely not moved forward. Someone had it worse off than I, which gave me momentary relief until the road once again turned upward after a short descent. Like Steve, I rode the last supersteep to the applause of 20 or so spectators, hoping that my show of force didn't cost me in cramps later. As I crested and rode to the aid station, a gentleman official informed me there was only 26 K to go. It seemed impossible. I just didn't want to accept it, but there's nothing better than riding to get to the finish and that I did, down down down the white knuckle super fast hiking trail thinking "is this sucker ever going end?"- I could hardly feel my hands but for the dull ache. At one point I stalled out and flopped sideways while waiting for a guy to extricate himself from some blowdown trailside. I didn't clip out and the torque on left leg sent it's hamstring into a cramp. Oh! So there's the cramping... It only reappeared once while walking up the next fire road climb for an instant, which I poured water and electrolyte tabs over. One tab for each bottle was my strategy and it worked fine. Somewhere along the way I ran out and I copped some water from Bob, another hardcore full solo racer and threaded my way through more hillside bridge-laden trail. The last 5 K was simply nonsense. It was fresh cut super twisty that would be fun fresh, but sucked tired, 'cept for the lovely cascading waterfall. After finishing I realized I hike-a-biked it during the eight hour of the race, hence the uniformly applied distinction as "sucky." At the end of it, there was a super steep descent over some ledges slopeside which I ripped in order the distance myself from an anonymous road racer. It was a surge to feel the end coming and soon I flew down the main street lined with tourists spectating and yelling encouragements at the curiosity. The end in sight, I spread my arms and relaxed after nine hours of saddle time and no flats. I dropped my bike, shoes, jersey et al and waded into the water where I immmersed myself, plunging into the underwater world of the lake.
The lack of flats during this race was significant for me, having succumbed to the Pinnadebacle a week earlier. Research shows that my method, and this is double secret, to prevent flats is 1. freak out over a Stan's No Tubes slow leak a few days before the race, putting off my wrench who sees No Tubes as "an experiment", 2. carrying one tube in my jersey and another taped to the seatube, and 3. also carrying three 16oz CO2 cartridges, none of which were used in any way except as sweet resistance training weight. And I mean really sweeeet. Works purrfectly. I finished 18th in 9:04 or 8:53 depending on which results are referenced and with a very big smile across my face as first old guy of a not so huge field of 3. Meh. After the swim, Steve rolled in and before long, Ernie and then Eric crossed the finish. Katherine, kept the suspense high, arriving as the most happy finisher at 13 hours. MTBMIND got it done that day and I'm still experiencing a solid sense of satisfaction. Speaking of satisfaction, Paul Simoes, oft-relegated-to-second-place demi-god, pulled out all the stops, riding in harmony with the course in 7:40to win by more than 20 minutes. Paul had an awesome race performance and looked fresh on the podium after a brutal day on the trails.
P.S. If you are or were a Wayne's World fan, you will have noticed the references to my costume theme, something that was lost on, well, pretty much everyone who saw me. As Garth Algar, I'm sure I rocked the biking world, or definitely something really cool like that, like what Wayne would do if he was... king... of the biking guys... riding bikes... on mountains.
Costumes afford anonymity, which I put to good work while staring straight into the face of a unsuspecting, shapely 20 year old race administrator saying "Woah, you're Babelicious. If you were President, you'd be Baberaham Lincoln." BTW, I didn't win the $500 costume contest. A three day full solo guy with a red arrow mohawk did, a costume which we'd best be quick to employ next year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Just In - Simoes Takes the Ultimate XC 100K

I'll put up a proper post in a day or two, but for now I'll tell you that the race was won by a margin of 20 minutes by none other than Paul Simoes. Paul had the ride of his life while schooling the locals., winning in in seven and half hours. Most commonly word used to describe the course: Brutal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ultimate Ultimateness

This coming Sunday I'll be on the 6am starting line of the UltimateXC 100K MTB race -Crazy Quebequois Dan Desrochiers idea of sadism with a smile. My race training has been nothing but... almost nothing. Fact is, I've been on the bike to train for 2 hr hillclimby races this year, which means all my training was for the Pinnadebacle. Naturally, I treated training for a 62 mile 80% singletrack with 8000' of climbing as incidental, until I woke up last Saturday with "OMG WTF!" This prompted some quick thinking.
With plan in hand the following day, I departed Concord on the road bike with zeal and a fresh outlook at 6 am. My head said go, but my legs said otherwise for the first hour. They whispered "Not now Albert" and clung to their bedsheets - pulled up around their somewhat hairy scrawniness. I pushed on to Gilmanton and downed a coffee from the general store with remarkable doping effectiveness. Caffeine, my hero.
From then on it was "Game On!" ( the significance of which will be explained later). Rt 140 rolls easily and then its up up up to Sanborton on Rt 132. A long set of rolling hills keeps ya honest. Then I buzzed Rt 127 through Salisbury and back to Concord. 4 hours later I resigned myself to the fact that it is going to be a reeeaaallly long day in Canada. Don't get me wrong - the ride went well, it just seemed interminably without termination.
Now it's four days later and I've supplemented my rigorous preparation by 1. freaking out over my No Tubes rear wheel that was leaking, 2. riding for two hours Wednesday evening in 85 degree humidity, feeding clouds of deer flies with my blood gorged buttcheeks (they took me for all I'm worth), and 3. riding a few times at 6 am, doing 1/2 hour wakeup spins. That makes me fully prepared for a 62 mile race on an unusually cautioned course, right? Riiight.
My double secret strategery:
Shhh. Don't tell anyone. Dan ran into some official issues with his race. Seems that the Canadian Cycling Federation has taken exception to his holding a MTB race without their sanctioning. They took the strongarm Mafioso route and posted that they would ban all participants from competing in any of their subsequent events if you race in Dan's race. That makes perfect sense doesn't it? It kinda reminds me of high school teachers that would hold everyone for detention unless someone squealed on the 'troublemaker' who'd orchestrated rebellion against administrative tyranny by getting everyone to wear shorts to school, in the middle of January. Jackasses. Oops, that just got me banned for life. Oh well.
Therefore Dan changed the race to a costume contest- with official timing- and a $500 prize. My plan is to take the podium by storm, wig and all. It's amazing what suffering and humiliation people put themselves through for $500.
BTW, the forecast is for 70 degrees and sunny... And my tire is holding air.
Auspicious.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fast slippery singletrack

The Pinnacle saw the largest elite field yet - thirty something PJ announced at the line. Tom Sampson edged O'Keefe by three seconds... I'd like to hear the story.
Despite the lack of any mud holes or water anywhere on the course, it was slick with the slightest film of mud on pretty much everything. It ate a few riders- one poor sod passed by me while I walked across the field, displaying a classic broken collarbone hunch and in obvious pain while Michael Goode pulled down the win but paid the price when his shoulder met a stationary tree after clipping a sapling with his bar. More prevalent mortal reminders were huge raspberries on bruised thighs. The bruises under the crushed skin take a while to dissipate don't they? Mmm. Hmm.

Lap One: today's race plan was to put as many experts between me and the rest of the field on the first lap, ride steady through the top and bolt down the downhill. I rode away OK, but had some bobbles on uphill roots here and there, making up for it with good solid power and a little recent pre-ride familiarity.
Lap Two: plan-ride steady and get out of the saddle on any longer rises - which worked out but for a few nagging slippery spots.
Lap Three: The rocky stream jaggedness 1/3 of the way up just before you head back up again on the doubletrack bit me, well my rear end. I flatted 100 yards later and suffered the consequences. I had made a conscious decision to run heavier tubes in my tires and skip bringing air, tube and lever. So there you go.

I was going for broke and it was working out, but as I've said before, you have to get all of it done.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So,Ya wanna race the Pinnacle

That means you'll wanna see this to whet your appetite. The big rippin' downhills - both on back side and the tricep jiggling main descent- hold up against any downhill singletrack. Last evening Brian Currier, race promoter and fast guy, shared some cool new stuff w/bermed corners that beg you to throw your bike around them. If we're lucky, we'll see it next year.
Enjoy. For better quality go here

video

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Willowdale Race Report

The answer to my last post: There sure was. 400 mountain bike racers on a warm spring morning can't be all wrong.
By now, most everyone local in the MTB racing scene heard what a turnout there was, how the course was fast, narrow and traffic plentiful. The race was pretty much everything racers want, including generous schwag being raffled(you didn't even need to buy a raffle ticket, just enter the race and you got one) and weather everyone in the entire universe thinks is a perfect day.

Smackdown Section One: ... maybe I misunderstood.

EFTA races are put on by individual promoters with EFTA sanctioning them and providing a series framework. What happens is someone who races manages to cobble together a totally non-profit EFTA race, and then thousands of us enjoy it over a period of several years, producing $1K-$5K in charitable donations each year. It is all about racing and and benefiting others. Racing welcomes people with uber-fit shark-like racing minds, recreational tourists out for a ride, and the rest of us in between. Races are a good thing to be able to access, live, breath and remember, and promoters deserve great appreciation for getting it done. Putting them on is an imperfect science and one with glorious results.

Since you looked over here, here's the race report I set out to write: Sunny, hardtail, high rollers, low seventies, dry, crowded, strong effort, consistent throughout, busted a spoke, stopped to wrap it and ate up 30 seconds or so, got back on, pressed, missed the win by 34 seconds, found my rear v brake rubbed for the last lap. That's it in a nutshell. I was ready willing and able but relegated to 4th and a taste of what might have been. Next up is the Pinnacle, a race that puts the Mountain back into Mountain Bike Racing. It has a solid climb, albeit tamed from years past, some sweet pump and the famous DH singletrack that begs you to stay off the brakes if you dare.

Smackdown Section Two: Any Expert Master/Cat 50+ in the northeast who wants to race a killer Mountain bike course head to head, be there. Let's have our own NE championship. Was that direct enough?

Oh and I rode with the GSW out of Concord last Wednesday. Ouch. Patrick Roane and crew sure do put out the wattage. Yes, I got dropped - with 2 miles to go- but still felt like something was accomplished.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

There must be something happening

Willowdale has 254 pre-registrants. Who woulda thunk?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood

Just got back from the Grind. The warmth of the sun and merciful cloud that came over on lap three, coupled with an air-as-refreshment sensation that only happens on certain spring and autumn days, made for an auspicious vibe.
We clicked off the starting line and Spin Arts went to the front and there they went, further and further away until I hear they sprinted for the photo finish with The Curlinator getting the job done. I, on the other hand, looked over my shoulder once during lap one just before the open field tape maze and saw Michael Goode. I rarely look over my shoulder when racing since it just invites a follower to be there, as if they materialized because you invited it into your perception, and it takes our eyes off the mission at hand: faster, faster, faster!
I broke out some mojo and chased away the demon, coming into waves and waves of traffic, which I actually enjoyed it - getting to talk up some guys that are back on the race scene between "OMG this incline out of the mud is getting longer with each lap", "wow there really is a LOT of traffic today", "this is not my beautiful race" and "ride or run?" The course defies conserving energy as each corner includes a rock, root, or angle that chases speed, You are forced to. Sprinkle in some candy coated rock gardens and shake. I maintained and didn't stink up the technical parts too badly finishing third in 1:32:06.

Root66 and EFTA had a good cross-pollenation thing happening. It should happen more often. A beautiful day in the neighborhood thanks to Doug Peckham, Family and Friends.

Oh, and Hines killed it, riding aerobic to demolish dreams. Fast guy, with Wilson ripping down a 1:25 to lead the expert field. Zoom.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oops, killed a cyclist.

There are some things that defy logic. Apparently being drunk while driving, and running over and killing a high school student on a bike is, ahhhhh, just a mistake.

A Rochester, NH court accepted a plea bargain for a $930 fine. Glad that is settled.

Things that lack just treatment simply infuriate me. That and things like Boumediene vs Bush and the Barnes Foundation story. It is a small world in which my friend Rob ended the Boumediene's living nightmare.

Humans: a random and destined-to-be-temporary species.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hard Core?

The Inaugural Ultimate XC Race is happening at Mt Tremblant on June 27. Seeing Dan Des Rosiers' announcement about it got my blood flowing. 62 miles, 80% singletrack, >8000' of climbing and a warning about its difficult nature, I said "That's for me!" Dumbass. Dan's races are a product of imagination and inertia, i.e. the moment he asked me if I thought a figure 8 course for a ice crit race course would work back in Feb of 2008, I knew I'd have to do any and all races Dan promoted. In Chaos We Trust. No one was injured in the making of the race except maybe Racin' Rick's ego when he almost took us all out on the final turn ... singlespeeders...

Last night I spoke with Dan and I learned that he's added a twist: $500 to the best or most disturbing costume. Which got me to thinking along the lines of "What would Thom Parsons wear?" It's a take on "What would Jesus buy?" as a Christmas theme, only I am referencing the one MTB racer who earnestly delves into the realm of heroic disturbation. (Disturbation: process of repeatedly evoking mindfocks in the hopes of inadvertantly revealing a profundity) or something like that. I'm thinking paint-on speedo. It'd go nice with my hairy back. Haven't figured out the chafing issue though. Anyone offer some expertise in this area? On second thought, I don't think I want to know how such expertise was developed...so nevermind. Still, the contest is for real.

The race is part of a three day contest of kayaking, running and MTBing. Anyone wanna share a condo or rooms at the village? I promise not to wear the speedo except in the race. Peace yo.

Al

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Satisfaction

Sunday turned out to be perfect weather for racing. By 2:15 and the start of pro/cat1, the temps were hovering around 50 degrees with partly cloudy skies. The course had only one wet spot. It seemed to be improved over my only other foray there two years ago to the extent it had more singletrack and excellent flow - a high speed ripper throughout with three very short rises/climbs. I came with no ambitions other than to make a solid effort, get in some high HR work and be around the racing scene renewing friendships. Kevin Hines decided to race pro rather than demolish the field by 20 minutes so that left a Cat 1 50+ field of 17 guys, the biggest I've seen except for the Nationals. Ken Welch blasted his way through everyone to take the win - I never saw him after his bull-in-a-china-shop start - but I did have the unexpected pleasure of racing most of New England's 50+ best- "The Most Hated Racer in Cycling" Paul Curley, Steve Arsenault, Mark Virello, Bob Bisson, Andy Chambers and more. On lap two Steve came around to pull after I'd done much of the work early on. He was tearing it up- lean, quick and skilled through the tighter parts with Chambers and Bisson somewhere up ahead. Steve got us back up onto Chambers' wheel by lap two and we became 4 in a line - 4 to 6 feet off one another's wheels for a lap and a half. It was surely a highlight of the 2010 season for me to feel that level of flow and trust between riders so closely matched as we streaked along after so many years of racing one another, and with Curley as the hard core tactician waiting to strike. I was tense, blissful, wary. Last lap and we were hammering when with 1/3 of the lap to go we came into a small rise and everyone slowed a bit up the rumbly roots with soft organic matter around. The odds of me beating all in a sprint was low and I knew I'd have to make a move at some point. The opportunity presented itself at that moment, so I drilled it up and over and through the top, separating myself from the bunch until Curley was able to bridge across on the next section of doubletrack - sneaky, quiet, looming. We hit the gravel hill and Paul signaled to two Bike Barn guys as he killed it at the bottom, positioning himself to use the two other as blockers. Then he ccame all the way across the 8' wide trail left to right to block me out- riding me into the leaves toward a tree - enough to elicit a few choice words and amazement at his level of aggression. Paul is a 29 time national champion and used to make a living back in the 80's and early 90's as a professional racer, living in Switzerland as a part of the UCI World Cup scene. He is no slouch and doesn't have his dubious reputation cuz' its a joke, it's because he is a shrewd and fierce competitor who knows how to win and will do anything to get the result. I figured I could learn something from him tactically. Watch , learn, employ. He held me off and then after the last steep, proceeded to block at about 3MPH, forcing me around so he could draft and come around me on the final sprint. We rode at 3MPH for a hundred yards before I jumped, and sure enough Paul came around me at the end by a bike length- but he made a critical mistake, finishing in the lap ride-through area instead of the finishing chute. I used his own tactic of using the course to the advantage of the front rider, keeping left in the field as I sprinted, but still straight as an arrow without impeding him - using the course to challenge. Jill had explicitly directed everyone had to go through the finish chute when we were waiting to start, but Paul had been so focused on taking the sprint that he goofed, handing me the last podium spot when he crashed his way through the separating tape, pulling out two stakes and screwing up the chute areas to get back over the finish chute. Had he looked up, or otherwise kept a clear mind, he would have come around OK. It was a moral victory and I couldn't contain my huge smile. We left the venue grateful for a great day of racing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hip?

Sunday, I hammered the same ride as last week's hill blasting despite lingering hip discomfort... from walking. When I did Tucks x 2 on last week's Saturday/Wednesday combo, it pushed me into some kind of hip revolt. I'm referring to "hip" as the thing at the end of your femur that connects leg to torso, not the MTB "hip" associated with being a)under 35, b)wearing ladies clothing at races, c) singlespeeding and d) blogging a marguerita full of sarcasm and asuteness.
I'm not hip, but I have two and one decided to say "WTF? Al". Tight piriformis? Inflammed joint? hehe. Or just plain tired out? I opted for tired out and so went for another hill killing ride Tuesday evening- 40 miles in 2.25 hrs after agreeing to a 1.5 hr worksession- riding in after dark and wondering how my hip would deal.
Somehow, doing more to something that seems to want to chill yields a stronger, more vibrant you. And that's what seems to be working for me this week. The hip is fine and the legs are OK so everything is a go for the first real '10 MTB race, a race that looks like it'll be a battle of attrition in Farmington. Hey, did ya notice Cat1/pro goes off at 2:15pm? That's damn late for a race but we'll have to suck it up in order to enjoy the mud covered glory of finishing somewhere in the pack. Hip.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuckerman with the Right Tools


Saturday was the SPF40 day we had hoped for- peaking out at temps warm enough to see some skin.
I decided it'd be best to use the boards instead of treads and packed up skiis, poles, boots, food, water, and enough other stuff to wear a lasting groove in each shoulder from footfalls and gravity. Got up to the lunch rocks in time to watch a small avalanche carrying some boulders and dirt down the right side - coming in our direction but harmless. Climbed up the supersteep "Lip" area of the headwall, stepped in and eased back down past the main headwall's waterfall and icefalls, - spectacularly beautiful in that high place... (You can see both the Lip where people are climbing and the brown avalanche in the photo above if ya click it.) Sherburne was moguly and soft and had an unannounced plummet into a 30' ice shrouded waterfall- that was surprise. There was one walking section if 50' and so last run made the parking lot. Grandeur.
Here is a two minute video of the ski run Get in a car and go hike it, ski it, ride it, whatever!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Always more there

Got home last night and hit the road with a hill finding compass front and center. Hill one: - .9 miles of " Oh god I have no climbing power WTF?" Hill two: .7 miles of "this is going well, I guess I'll find some more hills". Hill three, " was that a hill?" Hill four: .4 miles of "damn this sucka's steep, oh hey, look at the purdy view". Hill five: .5 miles of "Ok so this isn't really a hill" followed Hill six: .5miles of "this used to be steeper" climb and a Mach 1 12 mile blast back home.
It was weird. Weird as in when on the downhills "if I have a blowout at this speed, the Red Cross is going to come with a wet vac" weird.

Skiing Tucks tomorrow, or bringing a bike to try to ride some of the headwall. It's a coin toss right now. There will be pics if I finally blow off the thrill of skiing the lip for the sake of the MTB ride o' the day. Stay tuned...up.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

King of Burlingame's Usher

Saturday four of us roared into Burlingame Park stuffed into a too big super-black, super-slicked(Armor-alled sufficiently to render it a candidate for poser status since we couldn't step on the running boards, step-ins etc) Ford badass 4X4. My first view upon walking behind the truck to access my rig for a pre-ride of the course, was Malesky's third leg pointing my way - issuing forth a puddle on the ground immediately behind the truck. Gawd! WTF? Dude that's what the woods are for!

After pulling the truck up a few yards, we off loaded, changed clothes in the 38 degree breeze and ventured out on the unmarked course, using the map from Grimley's site. The 34 year old among us zipped off up the road, full of quick, with bravado in his wake.

We found the yellow dot trail and followed it for a bit- streaking throught he first swoopies when suddenly we were confronted with a rock garden that seemed to have no line. We settled on the middle way and proceeded through the rest of the early sections a bit on guard as we realized the KOB is no 'flat double track' course. It is flattish, but throws down some testy rock gardens, sometimes after bridges that make pre-riding essential. At one point we came to a 6' drop down and I'm thought someone's going to break something there the next day. We rode the rest of the trail, circumnavigating the pond, crossing off-camber bridges and scouting hard bottomed lines through the mud holes. At one point we are forced off the bikes to tiptoe around a flooded trail section. Upon completion, we were wet, muddy and bewildered by the wakeup call of reality. KOB is fast but it also challenges.

The next day we arrive and I warn Hilljunkie about the one drop. He's nervous about the roadie crossover factor but is probably capable of 350 W for the duration. What I later learn, after racing the course, is that we went off course during the pre-ride since it wasn't marked until 6 am on race day, and had ridden some stuff that was not part of the course. Hallefrickenlujah.

Most of the guys showing up to this have been riding through the winter and so it's a tough bunch. My mission is to ride strong, with no bobbles and no broken body or bike parts.
The starter, Mr. Coffee, holds my seat and steadies me as they delay me for the no show riders in slots 16 and 17 and then boom, I'm gone. Through the opening fishtaily mud hole and off. After four rock gardens I'm feeling relieved since it becomes apparent that the real course bypasses the super-gnar section and I'm out of the saddle to re-accelerate after every turn. Good body feel, legs strong, head up and hitting the right lines. Then comes my brush with greatness as I call to the guy floundering ahead that there are two of us coming through and Kevin Hines and I glide by and in an instant, Hines glides by me like I am igneous bedrock mounted to the earth's crust as the tectonic motion of sea floor spreading progresses. Yes, I am only an usher for the great one, the KING of Burlingame. We bypass the off camber bridges and I'm finally near the last road section when I bobble, my only, and clumsily get up onto the road and drill it through to the end, never catching site of Hines again. He's 49 huh? 29:05. Wow.

Later on after finishing, 34 year old guy struggles to figure out how he could possible cut off 3 or 4 minutes to podium in his sport class. I wonder how many days there are until there is a real MTB race, the kind that is 20+ miles, climbs, and includes extended technical sections. The KOB TT is a novelty race. Novel enough to keep me coming back. Finished 24th of 133 starters in 34:23. No mechanicals, no regrets, all smiles.

BTW- here's an astute observer of rationality.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Itching for a Fight

Last night in the man cave, I swapped out some tires, settling on some Maxxis high rollers for Sunday's TT race in Rhode Island. While the Dead swirled around me, I could feel the adrenaline that has been waking me at 3 am and finally at 5:30 the past few nights. Damn, it's that pre-race surge of tea party like irrationality- react first. The beast has awakened within, gnawing away at relaxation, calm and poise. At work, FY planning deadlines, Dilbert direction from corporate and human foibles have been conspiring to put me over the edge- but I've come to realize it is me, the animal, the seeker, the race hound pacing back and forth, waiting to run, the trapped animal seething that is driving me to use the F word under my breath, to look at issues and challenges, to feel something big ahead.
The competitive genes have come alive after a year of wishy-washiness and pleasure seeking while on a bike. I wondered if ithey would appear on their own, or have to be conjured up by music, cycling videos, or reviews of past year race reports in my annual excel workbooks. The answer is a clear no.
The EGO. The identity. The me-ness that directs action and elicits interaction with the world outside, wants to know what all the fitness focus is going to yield. Will the race put a stamp on the ego's desires, or kick me into another mode, humble - aw shucks - oh well acceptance? That is probably healthier but somehow lacking and starves the desire to prove to myself that I will, I can, I do. Will Shiva quash the flames of the ego, freeing me to be one with the cosmic reality that is total expansive awareness of our inter-related and inseparablity from the whole? During the race, my ego will be out there: one with the effort, one with the bike, one with the terrain, one with all that have, do and will ride. And the destroyer will have to wait until another day.
Monday I'll have something to talk about. Until then it's all a dream of the ego, trying to predict the future.
Surge of adrenaline racing inside... you know the feeling brothers. Time to race.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waking Up

The grey and brown and white and blacktop and pine's green have finally given way to the white shining rays of spring. Hallelujah and more sun salutations on this fine Wednesday, a day when paid spin class plays second fiddle to the promise and reality of calm woody trail, and raging riverside trail.
As the Wiccans say " Blessed Be."
Thank the powers that be for the relief and opportunity for the restoration of my sanity, imposed upon, even eclipsed by the interests of 'the business' during the long sluggish semi-consciousness of winter.

An hour and half outside right now is a wakeful experience. Don't wait.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Story of the Day

There is a site that posts child like observations about the world, accompanied by stick drawings, and are often more accurate than our life-filtered adult perception.

The one posted today reads:

This is a special bike that's not very good at listening to excuses, so it takes you exactly where you really want to go & if you kick & scream it makes you pedal harder & go up steeper hills until you're too out of breath to complain & after awhile, if you're lucky, you start to see that it doesn't really matter if you laugh or cry, because it just wants to ride like the wind.

To no particular point - under the category of "things that make you say 'Hmmmm?'"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

TT ( The Nausea Drill )


Note that TTing requires head tipping as shown in exhibit A above.

Had my first indoor TT test this morning since 2003. I have only done three and all in the month of February.
2002 was when I got some coaching from Mt W and NHIS Series hammerhead Seth Hosmer. When we started he set off right away with an assessment which included a 20 minute TT test on a computrainer in his hot( a furnace where New Guinea tribesmen suck the tanoana out of shunken human heads) apartment. I think part of my brain remains between the floorboards. Result 227 W. Av HR 177. Max 180.
2003 was another, only not as hot and with some earpleasure TT motivation rock a la Zeppelin, Lenny Kravitz and the Dead. Result 246W. Av HR 180. Max 186.

Today, the TT was hot and compounded at 5 minutes in when I asked for more resistance. The computer that makes the adjustment to the mechanism has a delay, which the operator didn't allow for and next thing you know I can hardly pedal, and over 400 watts is coming out o' me wee lit-tle legs - and drops to 200W for the next minute as my blown legs recovered and I got back into the rhythm. Started out at 260, lulled into 250 here and there capped with 336 for the last minute.

Result: 262W. Max 409. Av HR 177. Max 190. Bonus: 5 minutes of nausea as the nasty metabolic byproducts flushed out. Blechh!
Feel pretty good about it now. It was friggin hot indoors again but I was functioning. Some delicious chocolatey goodness(milk) helped the blood sugar bounce back. And then I got to watch, and fan with a piece of cardboard, Mike Lambert's TT. Serious.
I weighed 161 lbs when I stepped on the scale this morning for est 16 lost in the past 3+ weeks. That makes the power to weight ratio 262/(161/2.2) = 3.59. People do this because they want to. Imagine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Hey, is that a pair of Amfib(TM) tights on that bikin' guy?" Funny you should ask...

Set your clocks 'cuz right now is "Blithering Idiot Exclaiming The Virtues of a Product" time.

Pearl Izumi Amfib(TM) tights are a wicked super comfy three season tight. F'in, they ARE the awesomest awe-inspiring awesomely super awesome epitome of what every mountain biker finds to be perfection when riding, and when standing around in a parking lot afterward. The front panel is wind and waterproof, the rest has fleece pile everywhere inside, and 8" ankle zippers make it pretty sweet for form fitting warmth. Awesome. Awesome awesome. They are, yes, indeed they are.

Just got my second pair in 4 years. Life is short so treat yourself. If I write "awesome" one more time, my head will explode. Awesome

Monday, February 22, 2010

He always looks like that.

After a sweet night ride.

The scene at Massabesic:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Michaux Bound


Decided that 4 hours of early season racing in Pennsylvania is AOK. Last year I did it on a whim with Mike Patrick and Rickey Visinski and had a good time chillin with some other nutties out in the middle of the woods, riding bikes and basically, staying out of Chris Eatough's way. I got in 4 x 9 mile laps, a broken finger and a lot of driving. I can bend the finger enough now that I can actually make a closed fist again- after one year - which I will likely use to punch another rock at an inopportune time on March 14.

I wonder how my Trek will do on the 3 feet of snow they received? Guess I'll find out soon. C'mon sun and do your tidings- melting away the vestiges of winter before we arrive.




They have good beer.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Two More, Including a Bike



Blair Mathieson and I descending off the Pang la with Shishpamangpa in the background. Ya, the place is biiiiiggggg.

Blair's bulging surfer legs almost got in the way of Everest - I'm still waiting for a royalty check from Chris Charmichael. Think I should send him a bill?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Old Ride, Good Memories

This time of year evokes longing to ride on actual dirt wearing shorts and short sleeve jersey on some sweet singletrack. And it also evokes random memories, but still biking related. Today I am remembering riding in Tibet, so here are a few pics from 2005...
















This one was taken after Cha Cha decided he owned the road going up the Karo La. When we got to the top, there was a Tibetan woman knitting and another collecting dung, yak dung to be specific - in a big basket that was slung behind her back and lashed to her body. Can you imagine saying to your wife in the morning just before you leave for a day of barley harvesting "Hey honey, would you mind going to the top of 15,600' pass and collect some ... dung?" I know my wife would come through and I'd have a big heaping pile of dung when I got home. Fo sho'. Hey, waddaya know - here she is now:








A few miles later we rode by a clan of hotties lounging on some rocks, who for some reason are into dogs, very unfriendly dogs, and cute little sheep, and beer... there was a pile of Lhasa Beer empties behind them, like say 300 empties. Come to think of it, that's a good afternoon - hanging with the peeps, mountainside, waiting for brightly colored foreginers to ride by on bikes while sipping a tall one. Yeah!



The last is from the Lamna La after leaving EBC. This was at about 16,000' and in an area of many stones, many many stones about the size of a head that rumble the living shite out of your arms, shoulders and head. I got stoned that day by some naked kids as we rode past a small bridge. Literally. Seems stoning foreigners is a quick thrill for the little ones. No wonder kids are stoners and the ladies drink bee-ya.










Anyone want more?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weigh In 1 and 2 And ...Riding

Last week I walked into Health Services' scale room and mounted the platform.... 173.75 #. Hmmm, not bad but geez, I felt the weight melting off all week and somehow had 8-9# loss in mind. Coming in at 6.25# lost, I felt an odd sensation of "Hey! I worked harder than that. Were my brake pads rubbing of something?" - just like in a post-race review where everything went well but you end up slower than last year's race, or slower than the guy you beat last year. That just goes to show me it'll come off as fast as it does, but there is a redeeming explanation too: my weight has just been moving around! Ah, yes, surely the bench presses I added to my weight (pun irresitable) routine 4 weeks ago must be adding muscle mass in my upper body as I lose it around the middle! Eureka.

Today I stepped on and my weight was 171.75. What the?! I ate less calories and exercised more than the week before. Conclusion: my upper body must be bursting forth like Arnold or Rocky. Impressive. My mirror says otherwise so there must be a mysterious force at work. Logical huh? This morning's weigh-in also taught me something else, that MLW and my decision to discard our "other" scale at home was fraught with ego... we kept the one that was 5-6 pounds less than the discard some years ago. I stepped on it today before leaving home and it showed 166 pounds. OK, so my scale at home is 5-6 pounds light - which means race weight is really 160# and I had 20 to lose, not 25.

Somewhere on my body is a chamber labelled "super dense fat inside". It has a tiny little hole from which yellow ooze eminates and dissolves into my bloodstream when aerobically exercising.
Which brings me to riding.
Saturday morning I ventured out on my Canterbury loop 22 miles of solid riding on snowmobile trails, marshes, some road and plenty of hills. It was 16 when I left and 24 upon return... I stopped three times for a nice 2.5 hours ride on stuff that was solid and offered some long continuous pushes. The legs felt pretty beat later on but not enough to keep me from going out again on the same route on Sunday with a new riding buddy, Pete. 22 more miles. 5 hours in the dead of winter on that route. It puts a smile on my face like the one that grew across my face last night when New Orleans intercepted Manning's pass. That's all folks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back to Riding


I can't imagine anyone wants to hear about anything other than bikes, bikes BIKES! So here's more on bikes.

Any one of you reading this blog know that last July, Clayton and I rode some of the Western Slope in Colorado, namely Crested Butte but also some in Gunnison and the high ridgeline of Monarch Crest.

We shot video at MCrest and I pieced together a condensed version of ONLY 8 minutes. Since the ride is 30 some miles long and descends from 11+ thousand feet down to Salida at 7700, it's hard to cut out the boring stuff cuz none of it was boring. We lucked out with a perfect day, 'cept for the hailstorm on Rainbow Trail as we neared the end.

The speed and terrain were quick and rumbly once we were off of the first main ridgeline. I can see why people doing the Continental Divide consider this section among the finest.

So HERE is the video.

In other news... my new riding bud Pete put this edited VIDEO together of Ft Rock when we rode. Dig the nice musical edits...

Does anyone like this stuff? Does it make you nauseous, hate me like a drunken boasting idiot, or am I able to simply convey some enthusiasm and, at least for a moment, share some of the good bike vibe? Well?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ethics....

In the sixties, my basic values were formed. I lived in Baltimore and participated in the first desegregation bussing program. I was bussed to a school in a "colored" neighborhood. On my first day at the new school - I was made to hold the hand of a local girl and the two us us led a staged group walk to the playground for newspaper photo ops. I was in 2nd grade, a tow-headed kid who was embarrassed, not by the integration, but because I had to hold the hand of a girl.

At home, my Republican parents expressed ideals about respect and inclusion, despite their parent's backgrounds and disdain regarding "coloreds." This even included a framed notice of sale for "Two Good Slaves" from an ancestral auction in the 1800's that hung on the kitchen wall of my paternal grandparents. I recall the word "nigger" being used by my father's father and my mother's mother. I do not recall my parents ever using the word, nor disparaging anyone of another ethnicity. But I could see fear on my mother's face as I left to go to school "across town." She could feel fear and a sense of "wrongness", but acted on her ideals.

I have tremendous respect for my parents' ability to intellectually embrace the greater concept of "us", and choose to pursue a self-less view, despite their fears and pre-dispositions due to their parents' coaching and many friends' statements. At that time, "whites" lived in separate neighborhoods and there were mostly two parallel societies with one believing themselves to be "superior" to the other.

What I now recognize is that my parents set an example of acting on their ideals, despite the temptation to be self protective and to act selfishly to protect their own position and preserve their sense of "superiority" or otherwise exclusive and controlling status. They recognized we are together in our community, nation, and planet. This was when my values were being formed... ages 4-8.. a time when the fundamentals with which a person views their world are imprinted.

The sense of pursuing ideals as a virtue and the only truly worthy pursuit- go beyond the self and enter the realm of selfless action. In practice, I have found I revert to self when I look at my actions: taking care of me and my family first, then a small part for others. I still struggle with this and have not sacrificed self to the same degree that I satisfy self. But I have made choices: the type of business I am willing to support, the charities I donate to, and the political stance I express and actively support.

Around 1980, our political leadership began expousing the merit of "I, me", first. Much of the media touted the supposed ideal that accumulated riches was our right and we shifted to a "have it now" society. Borrow today, scramble over others to get what's yours and pay for it later. "Greed is Good" marked the front cover of Time magazine and our leadership openly encouraged it.

Here we are 30 years later. For me, the consequences look like shite. Our values are confused, our national identity is that the US is only a segment of the global market and our national ethic to serve on another, muted. To accomodate our selfishness, we have narrowed our view, our inclusion, to us/me versus them(others). We are doing this to one another.

Ideals and ethics are interwoven. Manifesting them comes in the form of acts. As a crude example for let's say, Christians, ask yourself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?" Then do whatever the answer is. For the agnostic narcissists, ask "How would this look on the front page of the newpaper?" Then act in a manner fits. For those who feel genuine love for another, ask yourself " Would I do this to my Grandmother?"

On the playing field of MTB racing, we compete in a safe and mostly inconsequential arena. In life, I invite you to follow the Golden Rule. If you have forgotten "The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity. It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, though it has its critics.[2] A key element of the golden rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with consideration."

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weights and Losing Some

The competitor in me is beginning to get restless and reared his ugly head last week, activated by the prospect of winning a weight loss contest - at work. Most people tell me I'm skinny, slim or otherwise unhealthily built. "Eat!" is what I'd hear from my Italian mother and Grandmother, if I was Italian.

At today's weigh-in, the number came in at a "healthy" 180 lbs of lean mean bikin' machine. If I stand in front of a mirror, I like to think it only shows in the love handle region, but I've managed to put on a nice uniform layer over my entire body of sweet sweet adipose tissue, a.k.a. blubber. I've noticed that my pants are a bit tight and that I look like a goober with high water cuffing since my hips, butt and physique makes all clothing sit a bit higher as its tries to wrap around an ever-growing girth. "Gee, these pant legs used to drape over my shoes but now I'm ready for to wade for trout."
I can hear your thoughts now: "No Al , tell us it isn't true. You can't possibly by 29 pounds heavier than you were at the starting line of the nats in '08!" Ok I'm not. Since we weighed in while dresssed in work attire, minus shoes, pocket stuff, and the congenital twin living in my abdomen, I am probably ONLY 177#, a mere 26 pounds heavier.
The contest involves two categories: % of body weight lost in 12 weeks AND % body weight lost in any one week. There are 31 competitors. I am in the "WTF is he doing here" category. Oddsmakers in Vegas are saying I stand a 1:31 chance of net overall and I say a 1:10 chance of a weekly loss title. Can you hear the NBA theme song pumping up the crowd? I can.
My goal is to weigh in on April 25 at 160. So let's see here, according to my calculation (Time x Avogadro's number x the circumference of the earth divided by pi x Schroedinger's equation net of atomic attrition and corrected by the dark matter gravitational distortion x coefficient of friction of the red pigment used on the heads of Nubian hunting tribes near the African Sahel known as Nuer), the result is something significant but probably not relevant to anything we've discussed so far. Let's just say everyone will be cheering as I approach the final weigh in. Everyone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snomobike Video and Cutting Ice




Last week I made my way out to Mast Yard for a relaxathon. Yes, and now you too can watch this or take two Ambien(TM) to get a good night's sleep. Sometimes the purr of corduroy snomobile tracks makes everything seem at peace.

I did a stint as NH farmer today- cutting ice on Kezar Lake in Sutton. It's now resting in a 19th century ice house, awaiting August's Farm Days celebration. Wet, cold, ice, a lake, Model T's on skis racing out and back, sun, and some delicious venison stew kept the genuine nature going.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Riding the Bridges at Ft Rock

Rode over at Fort Rock last weekend. Conditions for January... fantastic. The real coup was hitting the trails with some new buds that know the place. Here's the Hero Wide version:
Bridges in the Snow About 2/3 of the way through, Shadrack drops a nice lip and at the end, I'm forced to do a brief trackstand at the mid point on the swamp crossing bridge - that'll bring things into focus real fast, no matter if the consequences are water or ice. I've always thought that bridge would make a sweet race feature but alas, the Ft Rock Revenge is no longer. A race at Willowdale has replaced it. No doubt it''ll rock.

Pete made this one from the same ride with a VHoldr.
Pete's Awesome VHoldr Ft Rock smoothie
I'm in blue since you're all wondering, well maybe not... I like his resolution more... and come to think of it, maybe I'm encoding the movie wrong...maybe I need a lesson...or maybe I should just Shut Up and Ride. Tomorrow: snomobile trails in the Mink Hills. Varoom...