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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