Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Almost famous and varsity cycling programs

There are monthly collegiate cycling emails, and this month there is a picture of me in it! Well I should say that I am not the primary focus, but at least I am involved. Anyways the article was about the status of varsity programs in collegiate cycling, and had numerous opinions on whether they should be perused or avoided. I tend to think that they are not necessary a great idea. The point of college is to get an education, and I think that some people may choose a better cycling school at the expense of a higher education. Regardless if you are varsity or not, you race the same races, fight the same battles, and still get the feel of a coherent team. The major advantage to varsity programs is the funding, you can't get beat getting every thing paid for. That being said, the two collegiate cycling teams I have been on have been fairly well funded, and I did not really feel that more money would have made a tremendous impact. Club teams are good because you can be as serious as you want, this allows you to focus on school when you need to, and you feel extra good when you beat up on the varsity programs ;) This being said, I still think it would be pretty cool to be on a varsity team.

I tend to agree with my most of what my friend Ian says here, and I am proud to be a product of a non-varsity collegiate cycling program.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where have I been?

I have not posted in what seems like forever. With winter rolling in and business to take care of at school I am not able to go on any real picture worth bike rides, so I end up not posting. But, in spite of that a few things have happened since that are at least blog worthy.

1) I bought a power tap for my road bike. This will allow me to train more effectively as this device tells me the amount of power that I am producing, taking out lots of guess work on intensity, this should be a big help in the upcoming year.

2) I went cross country skiing for the first time this past week, I woke up to about 6 inches of new snow and I went out for about an hour, it was awesome. Good to be enjoying winter sports again!

3) I went downhill skiing for the first this past weekend, it was good, and I am looking forward to lots more of this!

and finally real training will be starting up in January, should be good!

Catch out this cool picture of some neat reflections off my rim!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Weekend!

This weekend was great for riding. Both Saturday and Sunday I hit Earl's trails (which are flowey fast trails) on my single speed. Saturday I went out with two Jeffs, and Sean, and it was my first ride on my single speed in those trails in a long while, maybe since last fall. Below is a really weird picture of Sean, one of the Jeffs (Elie), and myself, yeah really weird.

Sunday it was Sean and Jeff (Cronin), and we did some good exploring. We sort of just went which ever way we wanted, and the trail network is so all over the place that it works well. Sunday was particularly good, maybe it was because I took off the suspension fork on my single speed and replaced it with the rigid "tough guy" fork, or because the weather was just perfect, or perhaps a lot of both.

Then on the way home from that ride I found there huge leaves on the trail across the street from my house. Attached is a picture below:

The leaves around the big leaves are normal sized [for comparison :) ], and all of these big leaves fell in about three days time, it was a really cool to see them all over the place.

This was one of the best weekends of riding in a long time, it was great to just go and ride the trails with some good friends with nice weather. I really like riding in the fall, it is most defiantly my favorite time of the year to ride. Maybe its the crisp fall air, or the end of the serious racing season, or maybe its all of the beautiful colors, one way or another, it is fun.

This upcoming weekend I will be racing in my first cyclocross race, should be an interesting experience. But for now, its time to sign out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One Year Blogaversary

Tuesday Oct 27th was the one year anniversary of this here biking blog. I would say that I have more or less stated true to my original intentions, keeping the topics mostly about biking with a little bit of other jabber here and there. I will not supply a few statistics.

I made 40 posts this year, which is a little less than one per week. In turn you blog readers have visited my site nearly 1800 times, which is about 5 a day. People have visited from 20 states, and I am also an international favorite, with a few visits from Canada.

Well, enough about all that. Recently I have been getting on the bike more, and it is much better than not being on the bike. This weekend I went on a nice ride around the Quabbin Reservoir, which is a huge reservoir that supplies Boston with water. Either way it was a little more than 75 miles, and it was a great day, with lots of nice views. Below is a nice picture I took:

Well, thanks again for a great first blog year!

Friday, October 16, 2009

In the name of Science: Part II

Well, looks like all the hard studying payed off, I passed the cumulative exam! This means, that I am done with those things, and with the unfortunate placement on these exams on bike races, I no longer have to worry about this conflict.

Either way, I am commuting to school almost every day, but other than that I have not been spending too much time on the bike. I have started going to the gym to lift weights, which so far has been fun. Although I would like to start spending some more time on the bike, I think things at school with be more manageable, so I should have time to get out.

Well, thats it for now, Caroline is coming into town this weekend, should be fun!

Friday, October 2, 2009

In the Name of Science!

Hello again, and sorry for the delay in my posting. The last few weeks have been very busy, and little of that has to do with my time on a bike. The life of a graduate student is great, I get to do awesome research and enjoy my time at work, however it is a lot of time, especially lately. I recently started a new project, and this allowed me to travel down to Arlington, VA for a meeting on the project. This was a great trip, my research adviser, post doc in the lab, and myself headed down to the meeting where I learned some great stuff and also got to do some sight seeing. I have never been to Washington D.C., so one night the three of us decided to tour the monuments, and my adviser was a great tour guide as he had previously lived in the area. I really enjoyed all the monuments, they truly are something every American should witness. (Below is a picture of me at the Ab Lincoln monument)

After the trip I was busy making a poster for a large Polymer Event at UMASS which happens in a few weeks. And now, I am studying for my next cumulative exam which could be my last, so I am going to be working hard on passing. The exam also happens to be the same day as the Regional Championships in the collegiate race series, so I will not be competing in that race, or the race that was this weekend so I could study for the test. Either way, these tests have unfortunately been placed on the biggest races of both my summer racing and now collegiate racing, just another reason to finish these things.

Through all of us, I ended up taking about two weeks off the bike, so we will count that as my rest period, which now means that the next month or so will be dedicated to fun activities, on and off the bike, with little emphasis on racing. Lets not forget about the research, there is a conference I would love to go to in March, so I need to get some data together, so I will be in the lab for sure.

Either way, no one said that getting a Ph.D. and trying to race at the professional level was going to be easy, but it has certainly been fun so far!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Collegiate Race of the Year

This past weekend was the East Collegiate Cycling Conference opening weekend and it was hosted by none other that UMASS. The race was held in West Dover, VT (where Mt Snow is) so we were able to once again stay at Sean's place. As I did not race in August it did not really rain, so when the weather heard I was racing again it of course rained and rained. So Saturday was the cross country race, on a trail that would have been sweet if it had been dry, but like I said it was raining and it was wet. My race went all right, I was having trouble keeping control through all of the slippery mud and roots, and then came the swamp section. The swamp section was full of huge mud bogs and puddles. I was in the lead until this point, this season my single biggest problem has been extended mud bogs. I can't seem to pick a good line and I just get stuck, and then everyone blows by me. Either way I dropped back a few positions, and then had to do this for four laps. I ended up coming in second place behind a storming Chris Hamlin, who had a great race.

Sunday was short track, and luckily it was not raining, but it was still not dry from the day before. Long story short, I came in second once again, behind Chris. It was a pretty fun course that was really difficult, with a hard climb and some really slippery downhills.

All and all it was a good weekend. I am not sure that not racing for about 5 weeks is the best way to prepare for fall racing, but I may come into good form in a few weeks. A lot of thanks goes out to Hucker Joe, who nearly single-handily set up and controlled all four races from the UMASS weekend. Thanks is also due to Sean for letting us use his place, and Jeremy who like Joe placed a big part in making sure all the races went off right!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This week in riding

There was a race this weekend, but I did not go to hang out with some ol'college buddies. This weekend two friends from UMich were in town, Sean M. and Mattison B. and we had planned on some pretty good rides. Thursday we did a good 3 hours at the local rocky loop. We suffered two flat tires, and by the end pretty flat arms (this thing works you!).

Friday was a rainy ride in the woods with Sean K., we got there pretty late so we only got about an hour in, but it was still pretty fun. Saturday was supposed to be a road ride with Sean M. and Mattison B. but that hurricane off the coast made for some cold, wet, terrible to ride in weather. later that night I did hit the road bike for a while, and got a sweet tailwind coming home, sweet!

Sunday was the last ride with Sean M, and Sean K tagged along. This was a confusing ride because having two Seans on one ride is tough, especially when you are yelling while out of breath you don't have enough air to add that last name letter. Either way, it was a pretty sweet ride with stream crossing (which were ripping from the weekend rain).

I am glad I got to ride with my UMich guys, especially because Mattison will be in the peace core for 2.5 years, and Sean M. knows the trails better than me, so he is always good for a ride (and yes Sean K you are good to ride with too, but you are local so I am sure I will ride with you again this week).

On a final note I have also been wipping up some t shirt designs for the upcoming collegiate season. Below you will find the almost final UMASS MTB shirt design, its first public unveiling, enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekend riding and those long miles

This past week I rode over 200 miles, which is the most I have ridden in about 18 months (I had longer weeks on the trainer, but you don't actually go anywhere, so that does not count). The gem of the week was a ride on Saturday with Sean that was meant to be over 100 miles long. The ride was going to take us over a few big climbs and then take us to the highest point in Mass., Mt. Graylock! However as these things go, it was raining the whole time, and as fun as the ride could have been riding in the rain for 6 hours is not all that fun. So instead the ride was 5 hours long and we covered 80 miles.

We did make it to the top of a big climb where we found this sweet deer statue:

The most exciting part besides the rain came when we were about to descend for a long time. I stopped at this restaurant to get some news papers to stuff down my jersey to keep me warm, however this did not go as planned either. The guy there went looking for newspaper but did not find any. He then offered me a sweatshirt, which I declined. The guy then said "Wait one minute" and then he came back with a t shirt, which had apparently came off some guys back! I tried to decline again but he was not having it , and insisted I take it. So I did, and below you can see how amazingly good I looked in the shirt, and it did in fact keep me warm.

We will have to complete this ride another day (that is when it is drier), because of the 80 miles I say, it was great.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Take Over, The Breaks Over

It seems like I have not been on a bike in ages, however true it may be. This past week I spent most of my time on Cape Cod, hanging out with my girlfriend and some other friends. The week before I was studying till my head hurt for my exam (which I passed by the way, so it all paid off). Now with the break over its time to get back to work on the bike, and get ready for the rest of the season. I have a list of races to choose from between collegiate, Root 66 races, and perhaps even some cycle cross races. The real bummer of the whole situation is that the next cumulative exam (and my last if I pass) for school happens to be the weekend of collegiate regionals, which kills my chances of any sort of high overall placement, so I will have to focus on winning other races throughout the season. I will hopefully have it all planned out in the next week and I will post it on the side will all of my previous races. ttfn.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The updated racing schedule

Well the exam is final over, and the headache it always seems to cause it also finally gone. I feel pretty good after the 6 or so days off the bike (I did commute to work a few times in there), I was due for a break. I topped off the weekend with about 6 hours of riding, with a nice easy ride on Satruday mixed in with some pretty tough riding with Sean on Sunday for about 3.5 hours.

In terms of racing the Windham race this upcoming weekend I am going to pass for a few reasons. Reason # 1, my girl friend Caroline will be in town and I would rather not spend two days of her time driving over to New York and then racing (I am sure there will be many more opportunities to race big races in the coming years!!!). Reason # 2, I still think that I could use a little more time away from racing so I can come back strong in September and October to finish the season off right.

Well thats it for now, but I think I will be heading over to Cape Cod for a few days break form work and I hope to get in some cool rides out there, hopefully I will post some pictures.

Ta Ta for Now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Break time and one last good ride

With the legs feeling a bit less than strong and with a very important exam coming up in my grad. school endeavors I will take the next week off from riding. This was a planned break but with my legs feeling drained it has come at a good time. This sort of thing happens when you start training in January, by the time August rolls around you have been going at it for 8 long months, and I am physically and mentally a bit tired. I hope to build back up in August and be ready for some more racing in September and October (might do the US MTB Cup final on August 15th if the body feels up to it).

With that being said Sean and I went out for a great 5 hour ride today. The weather was perfect, and we had a nice route with some nice climbs and cool views. By the time I rolled back to my house I was cooked, I had a head wind on my way back after I left Sean and that is a tough way to end out a 80 mile ride with 5000 feet of climbing (some of which was pretty steep!)

All right, speaking of that exam I should start studying, over and out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mt Snow Classic

This past weekend was the Mt. Snow Classic cross country mountain bike race in Vermont, a true classic (as far as I understand it been going on for years, and in my past few summers I have now raced here 5 times.) I was hoping to get a great result, with a 5th a few weeks back and a 3rd last weekend I was hoping to keep up the streak. Enter the problem, a high level of fitness is hard to obtain but easy to have slip away. The past 5 weeks I have done 8 races, averaging one every 4 days, and I knew I was slipping but I was hoping to have one or two more races left before meltdown.

My friend Sean, Tom, Joe, my self and a few other stayed at Sean's house right next to Mt Snow, and I headed up Saturday to make a weekend out of the race. Saturday was pretty fun, got to watch the Mt. Ventoux stage in the Tour and had some dinner and a ride. Sunday morning we awoke to wet roads, a sign that it had rained the night before, which is to be expected with the almost constant rain the past week, which only makes Mt. Snow more interesting, however I have never raced it dry so its really hard to say.

Fast forward to the race, after an all right warm up I ended up lining up against 28 pro/cat 1/open racers, a great turnout, and the field was strong to boot. The race went off, and everyone was jocking for position as usual, and we hit the first climb and I felt all right, I was heading up the hill in 4th position or so, and feeling all right. We then went through some sloppy single track, and started the longer climb in the race, and this is where the 8 races in the past 5 weeks would either make me or break me, and unfortunately for me, they broke me. I just had nothing in the tank, and tried to keep pedaling but people were killing my up this hill. I think I dropped into something like 20th place, and seriously considered dropping out, but I like to finish races that I start regardless if I feel great or terrible. So I bit the bullet and kept grinding it out. On the second and third lap I was able to keep my head down and pass 7 or 8 guys, and I was just looking for the finish. On the last lap I was able to catch an old time rival Ben Moore, from the MidWest Cycling Conference, and pass him as I was trying to cook down the final hill to the finish line. I ended up coming in 9th place out of the 28 startes and actually not a bad result considering how I felt, but not where I was hoping.

I am now going to start building up some base fitness again, as when I was racing so much I pretty much just raced and recovered, with little actual training or nice longer rides. This should be a nice break as I will be able to get back to some fun riding, however there is a race this upcoming weekend that is tempting me, depending on how I feel I may or may not show up.

In conclusion, see the photo below:

Mt. Snow got the best of me this time, but there is always next year! (not to mention the winter when a chair takes me to the top, haha)
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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Horror at Harding Hill

This past weekend was mountain bike national championships out in Colorado, but unfortunately I could not make it out there, so instead I traveled with my buddy Sean Kennedy up into New Hampshire to race The Horror at Harding Hill. I also got to see and race against my friend Tom Sampson, as he said the trail was cool I hold him partially responsible for getting me get up there. The weather had been pretty dry lately (relatively speaking), with a few showers here and there, so I was hoping to break the streak of being covered from head to toe in mud. However after talking to a few people who had pre-ridden the course, they said that there was some "mud bogs," so much for it being dry.

The race was a mass start, with every field taking off within ten minutes, so as the elite riders lined up there were a lot of spectators! The race started and I was second going into the double track behind Matt OKeefe, I then got passed by Brad Perley I stayed there for a little bit until we came to the first mud bog, at this point I picked a terrible line and these two guys soared through the mud and got out way before me. We then started a climb and I managed to get back on board with them, which is where I stayed until the mother of all mud bogs, it was at least 100 yards long, and about 75 yards in I sank in and had to run the rest. Matt and Brad again found the right line and left me stumbling through the mud. At this point I was joined by Thom Parsons and another dude, which was a great asset, because as we got to the top of the next hill I blew by the trail (to my defense I say an arrow but I did not see trail so I decided to keep climbing) Thom then saved my race and was yelling telling me that I did in fact miss the trail, thanks Thom. After a lot more mud bogging and a few more climbs we finished the first lap. It was at this point that the mass start nature of the race became a problem, as I was saying "on your left" about as much as I was pedaling for the rest of the race. I eventually was able to say so long to Thom and keep on riding.

I spent the rest of the race trying to find the best lines through the mud bogs, as they were really slowing me down, however unfortunately even after 5 laps I felt that I was not able to do so. I did however, feel really good climbing, so at the end of the day I ended up crossing the line in third place.

As seen below the mud did do a number on my bike.

This bike was covered, and I had to spend an hour Monday morning before work cleaning it up!

I have to congratulate Sean for an awesome race and crossing the line at the front of the expert class, way to go! Also, I am glad I was not wearing white shorts

We ended up going swimming to get cleaned up after the race, which made the trip home much better. On the way home we also go to drive by the Bartlett Blueberry farm, I wanted to stop by to see if I got a family discount, but I decided to eat a pear instead.

Overall a good day coming in third place, got covered in mud for the 100,000 consecutive race it seems, and I will be spending the new few days cleaning up!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Domnarski Farms XC

This past Sunday was the Domnarksi Farms cross country race. The week coming up to the race I was not sure if I was going to race, the weather had been pretty rainy, it was the day after the 4th of July, but it was only 3o minutes away I did want to race. So as Friday and Saturday were pretty nice, and I didn't have too late of a night on the 4th I decided I would race.

Last year I did the holiday farms cross country race, and I thought that the Domnarski Farms race was the same event, however I found out that this was not the case when my GPS told me to head south instead of north, oops. When I arrived at the race I realized that I forgot socks, great. Luckily I talked to Greg Carpenter and he gave me a pair, brand new blazing white socks, thanks Greg.

Fast forward to the start, I had a pretty poor starting position sitting at the back. When the whistle blew I tried to work my way forward, but did not make much progress and got stuck a little on the first steep climb, but after that I started to work my way up. We climbed for a little while, then we hit some two track, and this is when I realized that the course did not dry out, and was still pretty wet. The two track was like covered with huge puddles, but if you payed attention you could find some lines around the edges. I made it out of this all right, and then hit the single track again. I eventually caught up to Greg and we rode together a while, continuing to weave through the puddle when we got into double track. Then it happened, we came to the section of the trail that did not really dry out at all. One second I was flying down a hill, a came up to a muddy section pulled my front wheel up to make my way through the mud, and then nearly flew over my bars. I quickly hopped off my bike, and then sunk into knee deep mud. I made haste to run through the mud, but I was stuck, the suction form the mud just pulled me down, I then decided to use my bike as a crutch and get through the mud. There were at least two or three more life sucking mud holes and then we finished our first lap. With one lap to go I worked to try and catch the leading racers, and long story short I made up some time and eventually passed "The Monster" Ben Moore (he used to race in the Midwest Cycling Conference with me, and he was able to gobble up riders, giving him the nickname), as I crossed the line I was not sure how I had finished but I felt pretty good about the race. I was covered in mud from head to toe, and my blazing white shocks were a nasty muddy black, seems like all the races this year are mud fests, which results in an extraordinary amount of cleaning!

I ended up finishing 5th out of a field of fifteen, my second best result this year in the Root 66 series behind my 4th at Winsted Woods. The field had some pretty awesome riders, and a 5th place was a great result!

I am heading home this weekend so no racing, but I do think that I will race the Bachelor St. Time Trail tomorrow.
So long for now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Putney XC Race and Caroline's Visit

It was a busy weekend, my girl friend Caroline was heading out and the Putney XC Race was on Sunday. In order to get ready for the big race on Sunday, Caroline and I decided that it would be best if I was properly feed and race ready. So it order to prepare we went out to a great restaurant on Friday night, had a great breakfast, lunch, and pasta dinner on Saturday. We also went for a bike ride, up one of my favorite climbs, Gulf Rd. It is a tough little climb with an awesome river running down the side of it, but I figured it would be a good spin out for me and a nice challenge for Caroline. Below you can see a video I took as we rode up the climb, I must say that Caroline has a much better pedaling technique than I have video skills (or commentating skills for that matter).

The race on Sunday was at one of the classic courses in New England, and it happens to be one of the only races that I have done the past two summers. We took a team picture before the race, and with everything going on I only got in a small warm up. When we rolled up the pro/open line there were 35 racers, a very large field. The sky was a big overcast, and judging by some of the riders who had ridden a bit of the course, it was going to be pretty muddy in the woods.

My start was pretty good, I started about mid pack and worked my way through the field into the top 5 or 6 as we hit the first bit of singletrack. The first lap was pretty good, but there were a few pileups as he went from single track to double track and back, and everybody seemed to have to dismount a few times, not my cup of tea, but you have to do what you have to do. Eventually I settled in to a pack with Matt White, Matt Green, and Chris Hamlin, so three guys from the Pioneer Valley and a good friend from my collegiate racing. With two laps to go or so our train started to fall aprt, I worked hard and with one lap to go had shed my companions and was looking forward to the final lap. The course dried out a bit on the last lap and the sun came out, so things were looking good on that end, but my body was wearing down fast. I started to get the first signs of cramping in my legs, and just tried my best to stay fast but smooth, becasue it seems that when I surge in these situations sometimes I end up in a full on cramp, which whould have really hurt my race. I ended up finishing without cramping, and came accross the line in 10th place, 5:30 back on the leader.

Overall it was a pretty good race for me, I was climbing strong, but I could have ridden the descents and some sections of single track better. I found myself having to ride the climbs hard to catch the other riders after a descent, not a good use of energy. Riding with Caroline on Monady after the race was pretty tough, dont tell her, but she was going a little too fast for me! The bigger races in the season are coming up and I seem to be on track to be in pretty good shape. I just want to be careful, I have been feeling a little fatigued doing the Wednesday night timetrials, which have resulted in 4 races in only 11 days. Next weekend we have Holiday Farms just down the road from here, if all goes well I will be there and feeling good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Housatonic Hills Road Race

I participated in the Housatonic Hills Road Race this past weekend in south west Connecticut. I was in the cat 3/4 field, along with about 120 other racers. The race started out pretty good, it was a neutral start up this long hill, and at the top the race begun. Everything was going all right, I was working my way towards the front, and then it happened, people started bumping around. One guy hit the guy next to me, which then hit me hard on my left back side, I then ran into the guy next to me, and those three riders hit the pavement, and I heard the terrible sound of metal and flesh hitting the ground. I was relieved that I did not go down, nothing worse than falling because someone runs into you.

I then regained my composure and got to the top of the next hill. However on my way down this hill everyone was flying by me, and I was having to pedal hard to try and keep up. I got dropped, and then chased the pack with a few different groups. We eventually finished the first lap, and then we were going up the first climb, when I heard a grinding noise, I thought my free hub was freezing up, so I jumped off my bike. I examed the situation and then saw the problem, my brake caliper had shifted and was sitting right on my rear wheel, I could not even spin it a full revolution. I then straighted the brake and was on my way.

I rode the seocnd lap pretty much by my self, and I rode it faster than I did the first lap when I was riding with groups. Overall an unlucky race, as I believe my brake was rubbing about 15-20 minutes in after the crash. However I must congratulate my good friend Pete, as he won the Pro,1,2,3, field, and is the official Connecticut Road Race Champion, way to go Pete!

Moral of the story, crashes can ruin your race even if you don't go down, and race more like Pete.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mid week Race

Last night I participated in the Bachelor Street Time Trial series. Bachelor st. is a trail head to some of the local trails around here, in particular, the rockier more technical ones. Four weeks ago a time trail series started where you ride two laps around this 20 minute or so loop. The loop is awesome, it has a few nice climbs, a few ripping descents, and in between a bunch of cool rocky single track.

Long story short, I ran two hot laps a finished with a total time of 36:45, setting a new time trial series record. The legs felt all right, but it was just a lot of fun ripping through the trails, dodging rocks and roots left and right.

I think that I will continue to participate in the time trails series, it was a great bunch of guys and girls, and overall just a lot of fun. Racing on a Wednesday, yes please.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Skipping the Pinnacle Race

This was a rough week. I had a cumulative exam, which is a qualifying exam to become considered a doctoral candidate. Through the week I had planned to ride, however I started to have constant head aches starting on Wednesday, followed by flu like body aches Thursday and Friday. It was most likely a combination of studying 10-14 hours a day with the added stress. Either way, body aches and head aches are not what you want going into a race.

There are a few local races on Wednesday that I will hopefully feel up to jump in. I am also thinking about adding a road race next weekend to get a race in, otherwise its a little while till I am scheduled to race again. Races help you get fast, and I want to get fast, therefore I should race...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tubeless Tire Fiasco

So I noticed that a few of my tubeless tires were starting to loose pressure quicker than normal, so I decided to fill them up with more sealant. My first tire had no problems, I just had to use some CO2 to get it inflated, not abnormal. Then I went to the next tire, which has a removable valve core, and decided to fill this one up with an injector. I then filled up the injector with sealant and screwed it onto valve and tried to push the plunger... but it was stuck. So then I tried a few tricks to clear up the hose, and then I gave it a little harder push, and then all of a sudden the hose popped off the valve and sealant went everywhere, as pictured below!

What a mess, the cost of tubeless tires.

On another note, last week I took the entire week of in order to recover from the 24 hour race and take a mid-season break. I went on a hike with my roommate to the top of a local park. I often ride my bike in this park and I ran across this weird circle of rocks, and on the hike I took a picture. It is some sort of Buddhist peace circle thingy, I forget the technical name for it, but thats the gist of it. Pretty cool, maybe one day I will stop by and try it out.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

24 Hours of Boyne

The 24 Hours of Boyne is quickly becoming a tradition, 4 years in a row now, and by the sounds of it, more to come. This year we would be defending our title from last year, the stakes were high, and this time we would have a fourth member. So let me introduce you to the 2009 Sofa King Fast team:

The Tough Old Bird, my dad Bob Bartlett.

The Newbie, my sister Kelly Bartlett.

The Seasoned Veteran, Nick Boswell.

The 4th man, myself Mike Bartlett

And the ones who keep us feed, happy, and pedaling, the pit crew (Caroline, my Mom Diane, and Melissa):

We were also joined by the single speed machine Steve Cain, riding solo.

The day started like any other, set up the tent, register, get the room set up, set the food out, fill up bottles, get dressed, etc etc, and lastly take the front wheel off my bike and head over with the rest of the starters for the LeMons start. They said go and we were running to our bikes to get the front wheel on and then hit the single track. I was able to get to my bike and install my wheel first and was off into the single track. I then rode a pretty good lap and was the first guy to complete a lap, completed two personal objectives for the race, now only one more, ride ride ride until noon the next day. After my second lap I handed off to Nick and he was out for two laps himself. He then tagged off to Kelly, who rode one lap and then she tagged off to my Dad, who rode his lap, and tagged me back in for two. This is how the process worked for the entire race, until the last few laps where we mixed it up a bit.

At the end of the day I rode 11 laps, Nick rode 9, Kelly 4, and my Dad rode 4 laps including the final lap for the team, which totals up to 28 laps, the same as last year. 28 laps ended up being enough, as our team won the race, beating "The Coolish" team composed of our friends Corey, Sean, Neal, and John, who rode an impressive 27 laps.

I must say Nick and I ran some hot laps, but Kelly and my Dad are the true heros of the team. With Kelly knocking off 23 minutes from her previous fast lap, and my Dad knocking off 10 minutes from his fastest lap the previous year, for times of 1 hr 2 min for Kel and 1 hr 3 min for my Dad. Way to go guys, and next year I am hoping something under 1 hour. I also hope Nick and I can knock a few minutes off our times, making Sofa King Fast that much faster.

Also congratulations to Steve, riding 17 solo laps, and winning the single rider class. I do not know how he does it (I think Melissa helps!), but what a ride!

The race was fun, but all of the spectators made it awesome. Grandpa and Grandma showed up, providing lots of support, it was great to have them out there. Also Uncle Jim and Aunt Nancy stopped by for a few hours, Uncle Jims a regular at this race now but Aunt Nancy made her first appearance. I really appreciate your support, and it was great to see you all on my visit back home.

Also, I would like to extend a special thanks to the pit crew, Mom, Caroline, and Melissa. My Mom was in charge of food, an enormous task, but she got us everything imaginable, and she also made sure we knew we had it (I think she had the entire menu memorized!). I would like to thank Caroline for staying up for 24 hrs with us, making sure we were up for our start times, making bottles and keeping track of our laps times, thanks again! Also Melissa was a great addition to the pit crew, and I hope that she will be here for years to come. Some "people" shots can be seen below.

Lastly I would like to thank my team. The Tough Old Bird was especially tough this year, I mean he forgot his helmet inserts, so he had to make due with bandannas, and he still ripped around the course (but next year please bring your inserts, and hmmm...... take off the bandanna!). Kelly made her 24 hr debut in excellent fashion, pushing through the tough morning ride and ensuring that we were able to stay in the race. Nick was riding strong, and made sure that I was going hard on my laps as well, knowing down some key laps. Some pictures of the "machines" doing some handoffs can be seen below.

Long live Sofa King Fast!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The New Fork and the First Race

Recently I have been getting used to the new bike; swapping stems, changing positions, playing with the suspension, tires, there are lots of variables. I also have a new fork, and guess what, its white instead of the standard issue red. I had some problems with the previous fork and when I got it warrantied I got a color choice, so I decided it would be cool to have a more custom bike, and white does look nice.

So as if trying to figure out the new bike was not enough, I had my first mountain bike race this past Saturday. The race was held on the UMASSS campus by the team here, so I got to be a part of setting, running, and also racing in the event. I must say, for the a small patch of woods and some field the course was awesome, and the race itself went off smoothly, so thanks for all that helped, participated, and spectated. For my race I was a little nervous as it was the first race of the year, and I am still getting bike figured out, oh yeah, and it had to rain, making much of the trail section wet and slippery.

The race started off great, I got the hole shot and was the first one into the woods. Then I started to slow down, and people started to come around me... I guess my mind remembers my fitness last fall, but my body does not. Either way, I rode 6 laps with 2300 ft of steep climbing and came across the line in 7th place out of 10 starters. Not a great result, but I got to race against three of my collegiate friends from the fall (Tom, Chris, and Sully) and some other pretty fast guys. I felt ok throughout the race, it seems that my base miles are paying off as my laps times were almost identical throughout the race. However I am now starting periods of higher training intensity, so I am hoping that in the next few months I will see those lap times go down, and my placement go higher.

Also congratulations to my good buddy Sean who took the victory in the Mens Cat II field, way to go!
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Race of the Year

Today was my first race of the year. It was the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race, only about 15 minutes down the road. It was also my first road race in about a year, so I knew I was in for something. Got there and was a little behind getting ready and only had about 10 mintues to warm up, but for a road race, that seems like enough time. The first half was pretty moderate, however there were a few extended climbs and some fast decents. I stayed at the front of the pack, I was not about to get involved in a crash, and kept up just fine. They were some fast sections and some slower sections, but nothing muched happened, as no one really works together in a Category IV field, but every now and then one or two guys would get a little ways down the road. At this point the group ushually decided to chase them down, however when I say group I really mean me self and my friend Sean, as only one or two other guys were helping at all. The final climb came and unfortunately I didn't know where finish line was, so I got a little late in the final seconds but came in 7th place, one place out of getting paid! Sean came in a little after that, and my other friend double flatted, so he rode almost the whole coarse by himself.

It was a hot (85 degrees) beautiful day and it was a nice start to the season, my fitness felt really good considering that I have not started high intensity training, and it is a good sign for the rest of the season.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The New Machine

The new bike has arrived and it looks great. The bike is totally redisigned from last year, and much changed from my bike from 2005. The suspension design looks pretty good, and the fork is entirely different, so I am excited to see how it will feel out on the trail.

The crankset is similiar to my roadbike, so I think it should be nice and stiff.

The bike has Avid brakes so I need to learn how to deal with a different brand, because if they are anything like my old brakes I will need to learn how to adjust them!

I wish I could get out on the bike but I left my shoes back at the bike shop and I wont have them for a few more days, nothing like having a brand new toy and not being able to pllay with it....

Thanks to the guys up at Bikers Edge for getting me set up on this thing, I will try to return the favor by getting up on the podium, I certainly have no escuses about the equipment.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First Mud

So the past few days have been pretty good on the bike, well at least in theory. On Sunday I decided to head over to the famous Quabbin reservoir, never heard of it you say, well prabley not, but its a big lake down the road. The ride was very hilly and very windy, but I made it back home in one piece, and 70 miles under my belt. Along the way I stopped in front of this neat church to snap a shot.

In other news I got back late from work today but I decided to just head out on the bike for a few minutes before it got dark. In doing this I somehow decided to take a right and not a left, and then took the wooden bridge into the woods. I tooled around and it was not that bad, dry in most spots with only a few wet areas. As you can see below, I got my first mud of the season on the bike.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Its been like four weeks or something, time for a new post!

Well it appears that I have once again gotten behind schedule.
I suppose the biggest news is that last week I created my first ever training plan. I have always toyed around with sort of making one, but I never really ever finished. However this time I sat down and decided to give it an honest effort. The long and short of it is that I did some self evaluations trying to figure out my strengths and weaknesses. I then picked the important races for the year and said "I want to be my fastest here!" and then I work backwards planning my weekly hours and training objectives. As I sort of decided to do this about two months into my training I had to make some adjustments, but it looks like it should be all right. In doing this I realized that before I really only had three different rides: slow, medium, and race. I would throw some other types in before, but in general I was always just sort of going medium. With my new plan it is more specific on what types of rides I do, so it theory I should be fast this year, haha, we will see. Hopefully when June and July role around I am not sick of riding in a particular manner according to the plan, but time will tell.

In other news I visited home this past weekend and it was sure nice to be back. I went up north over the weekend then spent Monday and Tuesday in Ann Arbor with Caroline and saw some other good friends. The weather was great up north, as seen in the following photo take at the summit of Nubs Nob:

In Ann Arbor on I got to spend some nice time with Caroline which included a run which took us past the football stadium, it is certainly looking different these days. Tuesday was St. Patricks day and it was nice to be in Ann Arbor around some familiar places and faces. To top off the night we got to drink some green beer, and after we were done it was easy to tell that we had, as Nick and I show below:

Thats it for now!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Its been like four weeks or something, and all I see is that thumb

The title of this post is a direct quote from my Dad and was hinted at from many of my loyal readers, time for a new post!!! It has been a busy month, lots of very important exams and Caroline came and visited for a whole week. But things are getting back to normal here and I am started to get back to riding. Well I gotta go for now, but I will fully update this weekend!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thumb Therapy: Day 1

Today was the first time that I did exercises at physical therapy. When I got there they treated me with therapeutic ultrasound, its not the imaging type, but the sounds waves are supposed to help reduce swelling and help get my thumb back in action. I also performed a number of exercises with a puddy designed to strengthen and stabilize my joint.

For some color commentary I decided to throw in a picture of me performing one of my exercises:

Don't worry, doing the exercises is much more exciting than it looks, but either way you better believe I will be doing them as prescribed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Current Thumb Situation

So I sprained my thumb back in Novermber, and it has not really been healing like I would have liked it to. So on Tuesday I went for my first visit to the physical therapist. They did some tests and determined that my strength and range of motion were the same on both thumbs. My problem is that it is still swollen, and I just dont feel confident if I were to fall on it again, so gotta get it fixed. I have another appointment on Friday, to began the real therapy, but in the mean time I am wearing this wrap. In case you were wondering this wrap is made of a high tech polymer called a shape memory polymer, cool stuff!

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Third Week of January

The third week in January I was not training quite as much (only 1 hr on the bike). I didn't feel that great on Thursday and Friday, and with my girlfriend Caroline coming to visit, I didn't want to risk getting worse. I did do some good cross training with some weight lifting and a few days on the cross country skis.

But the best part was Caroline's visit. We had a great time, made some really good meals, did a little bit of shopping at the Hadley mall, and went cross country skiing. Below is a picture of our skiing adventure, isn't she pretty?

A nice shot of my favorite horses:

In other news I renewed my Blockbuster online account, so I will be able to get more movies for the trainer. I am starting with the first season of the TV show 24, it comes highly recommended by Nick, who once claimed then when he grows up he wants to be a mix of "Jason Bourne, Jack Bower, and Bruce Wayne." That is a direct quote, and Jack Bauer is the hero in 24 series.

On another note we had a snow day on Wednesday, my first one in about five years. So I decided to celebrate and Sean and I went skiing up at Mt. Snow. It was snowing the whole time and the conditions were great. Below is a picture taken by Sean before we ripped the double diamond:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Training in the second week of January

The second week of Januray was a pretty good week for training. As I am working in the lab full time I unfortunately can't do too much outside because when I get out its dark outside, this leaves me with the weekends and indoor activities. I rode the trainer like ushual, watching some great movies like Joe Dirt and Ray. I hit the gym one day and actually enjoyed myself, doing lots of reps and sets at a lower weight, so I am looking forward to this Wednesday when I plan to hit the gym again. But the highlight of the week was going skiing at Mt. Snow on Sunday. I went with Sean and we were out for about 4 horus. We had some fresh snow, the temperature was just right, and it has been about two months since I skied last, so it was great.

On another note, I got my new UMASS kit (jersey and shorts) and I have to say they look great. They are from Giordana, a brand I have not had before, and they made a great initial impression with a nice fit and nice initial quality. Below you can see my sporting the new outfit, unshaved legs and all, and below that you can see a close look at the back.