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 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.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


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


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.