Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mansfield Hollow and Stratton Brook Cyclocross Races

Last weekend was my first time racing cyclocross on both Saturday and Sunday (and Caroline's first double weekend of support and pictures too).  On Saturday I headed down to Mansfield HollowDam  Connecticut, right outside of where I spent two summers interning as an engineer. I spent plenty of time riding my mountain bike around the dam, so I was excited to race my third cyclocross race around a familiar location.  When I arrived I started to ride around and I heard a familiar voice yelling my name,  I turned around and it was the one and only Peter Hurst, my college roommate and stupid fast bike racer.  Pete and I enjoyed trying to annihilate each on the bike while on the U. of Michigan Cycling Team, whether it be on dirt or on the road, riding up a mountain or riding through the roads of Ann Arbor, we had some good times.  I finished warming up, and went to the line in the Category 2,3,4 race. 

Pete and I before the race
The race started and I jumped into the top 10, ripped a few corners, and bombed down a steep hill into a straight away, at which point it was time to start moving up.  I got into the lead group, and after the first set of barriers and a couple of quick turns I was feeling pretty comfortable, however then came the sections of straight away power sections.  Being a light mountain biker, I am much stronger on tight corners and quick accelerations, however when it comes to the flat power sections, I lose some time.  

Jumping the barriers
With about 15 minutes to go I was sitting in 4th place, and I saw a monster named Pete on the attack.  Pete is the type of guy I lose time to on the straight aways, and I knew that I would have to fly through the technical sections and try to keep him from keeping up on the straight aways.

Going hard out of a corner
With the final set of straight aways to go, I could see that Pete was coming up fast.  I decided to step on it through the final turns, and as I was coming out of the last one I went down, and Pete came around me.  I jumped on my bike as fast as possible, I managed to get back on his wheel, but the final 30s was a drag race, and Pete got the best of me!  I finished in 5th place, and had a great time, however it was time to get back home and get ready for the race on Sunday.

This time Caroline and I were off to Simsbury, CT for the Stratton Brook Cross race.  I managed to put in a nice warm up and ride about half of the course, and I found that with the plethora of turns and a 200 yard sand pit I had a good chance of doing well.  

The gun went off and it was a sprint to the first set of barriers, which were important for what was coming up next!  I got to experience my first pinwheel!  A pinwheel is a circular obstacle in which you ride into a big spiral (thick of flushing a toilet) and when you get in the middle you turn around, and spiral back out!  They are awesome to say the least! This is pictured below.


After the spiral I was sitting in 2nd place, and when we got into a straight away a racer attacked from behind, I immediately jumped around the guy ahead of me and onto the attackers wheel, after a minute it was down to him and I.  We rode together for the first 3 laps of 5, and when we got to the sand pit I had mentioned before, I put in an attack! (as seen below)

The winning move (nice picture Caroline)
I powered through the beach like sand, and kept up the pace through the next few sections, and when I turned around I had put a nice gap on the second place racer.  
Flying Solo to the victory

I kept the pace high for the remaining laps and came across the line first, for my first cyclocross victory!

I enjoyed racing both Saturday and Sunday, and to finish in 5th one day and win the next I was really excited about how the races went.  Caroline also had a good time, and took some great pictures, so we are looking forward to more double headers in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crossin for Canines

It was a 90 degree day in the middle of September, the perfect way to start my cross career.  I had gotten my cross bike on Saturday, rode it once or twice, and it was now a week later and I was lined up to race the the Category 3-4 cyclocross race for a bunch of dogs (hence the Crossin for Canines).  So needless to say I could have used a little more practice time, but sometimes you have to jump right in.

The gun went off and the group surged forward, I made a few quick passes before the first corner, and was sitting in  about 3rd place.  I kept this up, and when the first hill came I jumped ahead and was leading the race.  We started entering some barriers and corners, and at this point a few guys started coming around me.  I watched them flow through corners and glide over barriers, and then I tried to follow suit, however I sort of made it through corners, forgot which way to swing my legs over barriers, but either way I was racing!

This continued for 45 minutes, with me trying my best to get through corners and over barriers and during this time I was baked in the heat, but I crossed the line in 4th place.

It was a great first experience, and since the race I have gotten more practice, and feel much better on the bike, as you will see in the following posts!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last 2 Mountain Bike Races of the Year

Its been a little while since I have last posted, however I have raced two mountain bike races, Bikes for Bovines and the Landmine Classic.
Serious before the Bovine Race

The Bikes for Bovines race was pretty fun, it consisted of a 30 minute climb, followed by some rolling climbs, then a fun twisty downhill, and finally some speedy sections till the finish.  It was raining just a little bit, so some of the rocks were a little slippery, however nothing to get too worried about.  As the gun went off nobody was really going for it, as we all knew we had a big climb to overcome.  About half way up the climb the pace picked up, with Adam Snyder leading the charge I jumped on his wheel, and held on as long as a could.  After I lost his wheel a settled back into a group of two other dudes, and we chugged along from there.  Half way through the lap I heard a knocking sound coming from my bike, and l looked down and my water bottle was falling out.  I quickly reached for it and tried to pull it out but I could not, I then tried to push it through and I could not, so in a last ditch effort I yanked it out, breaking my carbon fiber cage, and one of the sharp edges slashing my finger.  I started to bleed, however I was not about to slow down, so I stepped on it and got back to the group.  The rest of the lab went well, blood getting and my handle bars and all, however the light rain kept everything pretty clean.

The second lap came around and I wanted to drop my group, so I got going on the climb and never looked back.  I crossed the line in 2nd place, I had ridden the second lap a couple minutes faster then the first lap, and finished only about a minute behind Snyder.  Overall a really fun race, a lost a bottle cage, but a got my second consecutive 2nd place, pretty great.

Me and Nate after the race

After Collecting hardware, and Apples!
The final race of the Root 66 Series was the Landmine Classic, and it was shaping up to be a great race.  My finance Caroline was ready for her first bike race since moving out here, and the field was looking very strong, including the likes of Matt OKeefe, Tom Sampson, Neal Burton, John Foley, and Tim Daigneault name a few.  The race started off pretty fast with the Cannondale killers Matt and Tom keeping the pace high.  I was on their wheels until a hit a rock that I did not see and it threw me off the trail.  However I speed back up and next thing I knew Tom was sitting on the edge of the trail with his pedal in his hand, and Matt had speed off.  I kept up the pace however I came to a junction in which I had no idea which was to go, so I had to stop and wait for other rider to catch up and decide where to go.  Once they got there we decided to go left, however I was planning on going right, so it was a good thing that I waited.  At this point I settled into this group and rode along at a good clip for a while.  I got to the front and tried to drop riders, however the nature of the course did not make this easy, and I was unable to do so.  This went on for a while, until we reached two miles to go, and I really went for it, and as soon as I had put a little gap on I hit my pedal on another pesky rock and my chain fell off. As I watched Neal and Tim fly by I knew I had to be quick, so I got my chain back on and rode like crazy.  I caught them pretty fast, however I was out of gas, luckily so were they.  So I got back on pace, and Neal and I dropped Tim and it was off to the races.  We then ran into the beginners and had to swerve in and out right until the finish line, where some dude was running his bike in over his shoulder, essentially blocking me off of Neal's wheel, and going into the last turn I could not get around the bike carrier and Neal took second place, with my finishing in third.

3rd Place at Landmine, all right!
This was a great way to end out the MTB season, finishing 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd against some very strong fields. I will now try my hand at cyclocross, it looks like a lot of fun, and should be a good way to gain some high end for next mountain bike season!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hodges Dam Race: On the Podium! (with a dead car in the parking lot)

A few weekends ago I had a very good weekend.  It all started out with my sister and her two friends coming out for a Boston Red Sox game.  They started driving from Michigan on Friday at noon, and left Sunday at 9:00AM, in between this we spent almost all day Saturday in Boston.  The Red Sox were playing the Detroit Tigers and we all made out first trip to Fenway Park to watch.  Before the game we took a tour of the Sam Adams Brewery and did a little sight seeing in Boston.  Although I do not have any pictures of all of us, I did manage to put a good picture of Fenway together:

Long story short, it was a nail bitter and the Red Sox pulled off a 5-4 win, with a walk off double by Big Papi.  It was great to have them come visit, but hopefully next time they can stay a little longer!

Now comes Sunday and the Hodges Dam Race.  My original intentions were to go to the race to see how two nights of little sleep, drinking beer midday the day before, eating ball park food, and walking all over the place would impact my performance.  I made the trip down, but before I parked I noticed a rather loud knocking in my rear end.  With this I decided that I made the trip, so race first then take care of the car later.  I registered, and started to warm up, and I felt pretty fatigued, it was hot and dusty (terrible for asthma), and  the field was very strong, with the odds stacked pretty high, I knew this would be something.

The race started, and I wanted to get into the single track first because of the terrible dust.  I accomplished this goal, and to my surprise I actually put a little gap on my chasers, however my chain then fell out and I had to hop off the bike.  Once I got it back on I had fell to 9th place or so.  I then began my chase, and slowly started passing a few dudes.  I then caught up to John Foley, and him and I continued to ride through the field together, and at this point I actually started to feel pretty good.  We kept it on until we caught Mike Mooradian, who was in second place.  At this point we rode together, which meant that our group represented 2nd-4th place, I have placed 4th too many times, so I knew this was a good chance to crack the top three.  With this is mind I got up front and pushed the pace.  However we were sticking together, and I just kept it on, and eventually with about 30 min left to race it was just Mooradian and myself.  I knew that I was feeling good, so as we got into the singletrack I kept the pace high, and was able to  put gain some ground between myself and Mooradian.  I was now on second place, and knowing that Seamus Powell was up front I wanted to try to keep second place.  However, I started noticing that my rear tire was losing air!  I franticly put CO2 into the tire, and hoped back on.  I was ten minutes out and just slammed on the gas, and as I was making a corner I went down.  I got back up, and then kept up the pace until I crossed the line in second place (Nate got second in his race too).

On another note this was the Massachusetts State Championship Bike Race, and as Seamus is from New York I won the state title in the Pro/Open category (my grandparents claim that I am now the King of Mass!)

So my experiment turned out differently than originally expected.  I ate horribly, drank beer, walked all over the place, hardly slept, and had the stress of a broken car and I managed my best race of the year.  I do not think that I will do this before every race, however everything lined up pretty well and the course was a good fit.  Check me out on the podium, still in my racing clothes covered in the dust (why you might ask, keep reading):

After the race was over I started working on getting my car home (hence not changing).  I called AAA, and found out that I could get my car towed 3 miles for free, and than pay a ton for every additional mile.  As I was about 60 miles from home I decided to have it towed near by, not ideal, but it would get my car out!  In times like this I am always happy to have my buddy Nate Peppin around, who stepped in with his 100 miles tow card, and I called AAA back up and let them in on this new development.  The tow truck showed up, as seen below, and took the car to Nate's house:

Nate and I had looked around the rear end and noticed a broken rod in my rear suspension, we thought we could fix it.

Nate took the reins and got the part ordered and installed, he then came and got me and I picked up my functioning car!  I would like to thank Nate and his mom Dawn for helping me out in this situation, I am happy to have had these great people at bike races for all of my four summers out east starting back when I had my internship in Connecticut.  Whether its bottle support or sitting around waiting for a tow truck and then feeding me dinner afterwards, they have truly been an instrumental part in my mountain bike racing!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mt Snow Recap

I raced at Mt. Snow this past weekend, head over to the Competitive Edge Blog to see how it went:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Putney XC and Holiday Farm Wednesday Race

This past weekend was the Putney XC race.  For a full race report check out the new Competitive Edge Racing Blog at .  I will periodically be sending you over here to read race reports, but feel free to keep tabs on it, it will be over on the left hand side of my blog.  The race went great, and I managed to come in 4th place in a strong field of riders!

After the excitement of Putney I decided I would make the trip over to Holiday Farm in Dalton, MA, where they have a Wednesday night race.  There used to be this great Wednesday night series locally called the Bachelor St Time Trial, however this year it does seem to happening, and a fun more casual race on Wednesday was always a lot of fun.  So when I had the opportunity to head over and check out this race, I was in.

Nate, Robin (Nate's very helpful girl friend), and my self made the 1.5 hour journey today, it was was the nicest weather we have had in a while.  It was about 75 degrees with some slight cloud cover, which was a great relief from the 90 degrees and humidity we have been fighting recently.  As we suited up the atmosphere was great, pretty casual and to my surprise the kids race had what looked like 10 or so kids.  For todays race I was hoping to ride at about 90% of race pace, because the race on Sunday was pretty tough.  As we lined up there looked to be about 40-50 people there, with about 15-20 in the "3 lap" field (which was the longest).  As the gun went off one guy really went for it, so for the first 5 minutes the pace was pretty high, and with trying to keep it at 90% of race pace, I was trying to be as smooth as possible.  The pace slowed a bit at the top of the hill, so I jumped in front to keep things in check.  At the end of the first lap there was about 4 of us together, including Nate.  At this point I had recovered nicely from a downhill and went for a sprint to mix it  up, however as soon as I did this the course marking got a bit confusing and I had to slam on my brakes!  After the four of us determined where to go, it was back to racing.  As we went through the second lap I stayed up front, and had a small gap on the others.  But as we came around for the third lap I put a little more pressure on these guys and was able to put more time in.  I crossed the line first, and Nate battled it up for a nice 4th place finish.

Overall it was a great time, with awesome weather, a really fun course, and to my surprise I had pretty good legs and thus was able to keep myself to my original goal or not going too hard.  Another awesome Wednesday race series, I suggest you check it out!

I will leave you with this nice shot I grabbed on Tuesday:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Recent Riding in Pictures

Yellow flowers on a recovery ride.

Sunset before a storm

Car graveyard (there are about 5 or 6)

Stream on a nice day

A delicious meal, chicken sandwich with peach slices.

Well time to get ready for the Putney race tomorrow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Recovery, stress, and trying to get back to normal

After the Boyne 24hr race it always takes me a little while before I start to feel good again.  After the race I didn't ride for 3-4 days, which looking back I wish I would have gotten on the bike a little bit, but with travel and such things this is what happened.  Once I got back on the bike it took me a few days before I started to feel good again, the first few rides back my legs always feel like lead weights, however once I worked all of this out I stated to feel again, about a week or so after the race.

The first week back I ended up going on a pretty long ride on the road bike,  and it happened to be earlier in the day and the moisture in the air was thick.  Below is a picture of one of the hills I was climbing, there is no rain, this is just the water hanging in the air, preventing any sweat from evaporating keeping my temperature a little on the high side.

The ride was great, however about 20 minutes after I got home it looked something like this:

Oh well!

After I started to feel good again, work started to kick in, with a presentation in Washington D.C. it was pretty much all work, and when I could play, it was shorter and more stressful than I would have liked.  Long story short, and I will spare the details of late night and weekend shifts, we put together an awesome presentation, which was well received by our audience.  This took an unexpected toll on me, and through this time when I did train it didn't feel very effective, and on some rides I felt just plain bad with flu like aches.  I skipped a few planned races, which was a great decision as I am sure I would have felt off and just would hae made me more crunched at work.  I learned that sometimes when your stress level is too high off the bike, trying to get on the bike just adds to the stress and becomes counterproductive.

With the presentation now over I am starting to feel normal again, and I am looking forward to racing at Putney, VT this upcoming weekend.  For now, I should get to bed and continue to catch up on lost sleep! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

24 Hours of Boyne 2010

For the past five years Memorial Day weekend has meant riding my bike through the day, the night, and then finally through the day again. It has meant two hours of sleep maximum, trying to eat anything in sight, and enough chamois problems to make an almost grown man cry. I am talking about the 24 hours of Boyne, a bike race where the race starts at noon on Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday, and to complicate things they make you ride up to the top of a ski mountain. (just ask my Dad, he will tell you how terrible this is in vivid detail).

Once again the Sofa King Fast team assembled for the race. On the team is myself, my sister Kelly, my friend Nick, and the tough ol' bird, my Dad. Also in the gang is my Mom who is the master of preparatory lists, Caroline who is the feed guru, and my buddy Steve who rides solo and his girl friend Melissa, who impresses us by taking such good care of Steve. I would also like to note that the Sofa King Fast team was up against a bitter rival, consisting of four dudes from the UMich Cycling Team, so the stage was set for a tough race.

This year I decided to fly back to Michigan, so I had to get tons of bike stuff into small bags. As you can see below it was about a weeks worth of gear and food, and it all fit very well into the three small bags. Also, when flying with a bike you get to pay extra, luckily Southwest does not charge you a ridiculous amount, however as I didn't want to miss too much work, I got to leave at 6:00AM Friday morning, so it was great to start the weekend already in need of more sleep, it at least prepares you for the race. Once I arrived in Michigan it was time to head to northern Michigan, and on Memorial weekend this is always a challenge, and this year was no different, we had lots of traffic on the way up. Once we got up north, we celebrated my teammate Nick's birthday, took my bike out of its traveling box and put it together, and then finally off to bed!

Before the race went off we got a special visit from some family members. As you can see below our hang out tent was very full, my grandparetns, Aunt and two cousins made it out for the start of the race, it was great to see them there and it really makes the race more fun.

The race did not start in the traditional Le Mans fashion so it was a normal start. Right out of the gun Sean from the rival team took the hole shot, however about 20 yards into the trail there was a tight turn, and I was on his wheel, and unforuntaely Sean was going so fast that he flew right off the trail into the brush. I took this opportunity to step on it, I wanted to come around the lap first, for my self, but as I noted before our tent was full of supporters, and I wanted to send them home happy. After a few minutes it ended up being just me and another guy, and he was riding pretty fast, which of course meant that I had to ride pretty fast. Long story short we were riding pretty fast, and when we got to a longer extended climb I put the heat of and finally got rid of him. I came across the line first, got my bottle from the cutest water bottle girl in history, got some great cheers from supporters and went back into the woods for some more. This lap I slowed down a little bit, I could not keep up that pace forever, and I made it across the line again and then sent Nick out. Nick ripped it up, in fact he broke a spoke, and took Kelly's wheel for lap two, let it be known that there was literally "no time". This meant my Dad had to step up and ride the next lap out of turn. He tore it up in style, and by this time Kelly had her wheel back and then rode a rocket lap. At this point we had 6 laps, and it was my turn to start the rotation again. We continued to run smooth all day and all night (I would like to thank Brendan for his late night pacing), and when noon came the next day we had ridden 28 laps, the most of any team at the race. As you can see below, we had some pretty awesome handoffs throughout this event (my favorite being the tunnel for Kelly who rode the last lap of the race for us.)

The two teams at the banquet, Sofa King Fast got first and Arm Chair Prince Quick got second.

Overall this was my best 24 hour race to date. I rode strong the entire time, was able to eat consistently which typically gets extremely difficult around 3AM, handled saddle sore and chafing issues, and in general was in a great mood. I ended up with 10 laps, 1 less than last year, but I rode much faster on average, riding all of my laps under 48 minutes with a ripping lap of 39 minutes. Chafing is normally the most difficult part of the race for me, however this year I came over prepared, and developed a 5 layer chamois miracle system, which worked great.

So much of this race happens in the tent, and this year we put up two tents for increased coverage and awesomeness. Also, we rent a room for showering and sleeping, a necessity for a successful 24 hour race. Not pictured is my Uncle Jim, who stopped by once again on Sunday morning, thanks for the support and keeping it lively in the morning.

We always rock awesome tattoos, somehow we forgot to get a pic of everyones, so here I am sporting some PowerBar tats, as well as Thor with his hammer.

Five years ago Steve and I first entered this race as Sofa King Fast with my Dad as our pit crew. My Dad then for some reason went crazy and wanted to race too, so Steve went solo and my Dad and Nick joined me, which meant that we recruited Mom, Kelly, and Caroline for our pit support. Kelly was the next to go crazy and the past two years she has joined in and Melissa jumped into help Steve.

I really enjoy how this has evolved, and although we suffer in numerous ways, we all come back for more. With the future of the race in question, I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who has helped. I appreciate all the racers who compete against Sofa King Fast because without you I would not have to push so hard at 4AM to gain/catch up a few extra minutes. All of the supporters through the years, especially my Grandma and Grandpa who even in their mid 80s cheer their hearts out, my Uncle Jim for comic relief on Sunday mornings, and the countless other supporters who have come and gone over the years. The support crew holds a special place in my heart, Melissa always willing to help even though she clearly has her hands full with Steve, Caroline keeps us running smoothly during the race so all we have to do is pedal, and my Mom does so much behind the scenes work to make sure that the racers never have to worry about food. Finally I would like to thank my teammates. Steve got me out there, and when I needed help that first year he rode some laps for me, thanks Sensei. Nick who has been nothing short of astounding, riding laps upon laps while pushing me to keep my lap times down, I hope Nick knows that I really only cared about beating him (Purdont anyone). Kelly for going head over heels for bike racing, and deciding that a 24 hour race with her brother and Dad was worth losing sleep over. Finally, I would like to thank my Dad, who stated out as pit boss, getting the tents set up, making sure we have lights, deciding that a generator is a must, and most importantly making the famous team banner. He then went from the pits to the race course, and has impressed me every year with his dedication to training, getting faster over the years, and always stepping into his role when necessary.

The Sofa King Fast crew, thanks everyone for all of your help, riding or feeding, it all means a lot to me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gloceser Grind, fogged in, and Power Bar

This past weekend was the first EFTA race on the calendar for 2010, The Glocester Grind (RI, not MA). Sean and myself represented the Comp Edge MTB Team, and because we like to roll in style we brought a dedicated mechanic Nate. I was looking forward to the race as these EFTA races are pretty fun, and the weather was looking good, so I was expecting some dry weather. When we pulled off the highway to get to the race, the area looked familiar, and immediately I realized that I was about 5 minutes from Rogers Corporation where I interned for two summers! This gave me good feelings, and when we arrived at the race I was ready to get registered, dressed, warmup and then rip it up.

The whistle went off (no guns for bike racing) and the elite field was off, immediately we were shot around a tight corner and I got into a good position and ended up going into the woods in about third place. I was here for a little bit and was feeling good, and within in a few minutes we ended up getting into the muddy rock gardens and this is where I started to get a little thrown off. There were these extended mud pits, and for some the reason the past few years these have given me endless trouble. I always seem to pick bad lines the first few times through and people eat me alive, to make matters worse a lot of these mudpits had rocks in them, so I was losing time. The course was as flat as a pancake and in general had fairly rough ground, because of these reasons I was unable to really get into a groove, and hills are ushually a good thing for me, so I just kept on pedaling, ended up running through most mud pits, and I came across the line in 4th place. I am pretty happy about this as the field was strong, and this course was not well suited for my abilities. If I race enough of these mud pit courses I am bound to get a feel for them, so I am happy to be challenged in this way.

Check out this video from Cycling Dirt of the race:
Post race legs, covered in mud, and yep that is blood. The course was pretty crowded with people from other fields, so I was running by someone who got stuck in mud, and I fell right on my knees. Also, what you can't see is that something hit me in the back of my leg, and caused a huge knot in the back of my knee. This is gone now, but it hurt pretty bad and made my leg really stiff at the time.

Here is Nate, our dedicated mechanic, he keeps the machines running properly, and it was awesome to have him at the race, thanks Nate!

Sean came across the line first in the expert race, and now he is upgrading to elite in EFTA, should be great to have a teammate around.

Here is an awesome waterfall I came across last week, its hard to tell its scale, but the waterall is about 10 feet high.

After the race weekend I found all of these PowerBar wrappers on my passenger seat floor, I eat a lot of those!

Finally, this Wednesday it was raining, however I was scheduled to do hill repeats, and I am not going to let rain stop me, so I still rode to the top, and by the time I got there I was in a cloud, awesome!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pictures of the area and some MTB Racig

Recently I upgraded cellular devices and now I will be able to take some more pictures while riding, which should make the blog a bit more multimedia rich. The first picture below is from a cool stream I can across, there are tons of these around and I always enjoy running across them.

This picture is a lake that is fairly nearby my place but I did not realize that it existed until I ran across it last week. As you can see it is a pretty nice lake, maybe I will be able to take a swim once it warms up a little bit.

Also this past weekend the UMASS bike racing team hosted their yearly mountain bike, the Orchard Hill Assault. This is a great race as it happens right on campus, and it is a great more laid back race. On Saturday a few of us went to mark the course and right in the middle of it, the clouds decided they were getting too heavy and dumped on us. Well, this was not going to stop us, so we had to finish taping in the rain, great.

On Sunday all of the racers showed up to a great day to ride a bike, the rain the previous day had put the trails in great condition, so you can't ask for much more condtions wise. This was the first race were Sean and I were both sporting the Competitve Edge kits, it was pretty cool, and we are looking forwared to Nate suiting up as well to get the whole team together.

So although this was a more "laid back" race that does not mean that is was a stroll in the woods. The Pro/Open field was strong, and this was going to make for a great race. When the whistle went off I pushed off and missed my pedal, and had some trouble cliping in (ushually I do this very well, so I was a litte confused by the whole thing, but I eventually I heard a 'click' and it was go time), I then put some good pedal strokes together and made it third into the woods. James Harmon got in first and burned down the first hill, and then killed it up the first hill, after that he was long gone. At this point I got passed by a few guys as is customary for me in a race, as I try not to go too nuts in the first few minutes. I kept clawing my way back up and got into fourth position, and tried to chase Josh Wilcox, however it seemed that he was not coming back or getting further ahead, just dangling at about the same spot. Well the rest of the race went this way and I came across the line in 4th.

Here I am, focus.... (Photo courtesy of Gary Kennedy, awesome shot!)

Overall I had a good race. I did this race last year, and I am in much better shape now than back then, and I am feeling stronger every day. We did 7 laps and my times were pretty consistent across the board, so I think that my endurance base is holding steady (I suppose those three 100 mile rides in 8 days are paying off). I think that my top end will be coming around and it should be a good summer of racing. Sean also had a good race, and crossed the line 5th in the Cat 1 field, way to go Comp Edge Team!

For now I have races the next two weekends (EFTA race in Glocester, RI this weekend followed by Winsted Woods the next), and then its back home for the 24 hours of boyne, should be a great three weeks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To Mt Graylock and Back: A Cyclists Story

A ~100 mile ride over two of the most difficult climbs in Massachusetts, including a 2.5 miles beast that averages over 10% grade (Whitcomb Hill to the locals), as well as a ride up the tallest peak in Massachusetts, Mt. Graylock. Not your typical Saturday afternoon, but cyclists are not your typical type of people. Sean and I had been wanting to do this ride for a little while, and once we attempted but when we were in sight of Mt. Graylock the weather forced us to head back home. Today, we would have no weather issues, there was not a cloud in the sky, so today was going to be the day!

For a ride like this I decided to bring my camera along, and because of this I put an awesome saddle bag on my seat, and it carried some tools for me! Below are a few shots of actual bike riding. You can see Sean climbing up the first climb of the day around mile 15, and below I am climbing Mt. Graylock around mile 60 or so (also included is an attempt to get both Sean and I riding along this cool river.)

On good bike rides you also come along some pretty interesting sights. For instance you can see this super cheesy store complete with a tall Native American fellow as well as a fantasticly colored metal tepee. At the top of Mt. Graylock there is a cool tower dedicated to the Veterans of Massachusetts, as well as a neat metal thingy that shows all of the mountains in the area. Sean and I stopped for pictures at the top of Whitcomb Hill, and we also had some dudes that a picture of us near the top of Graylock.

And finally no good ride is complete without a cool panoramic shot (this is a picture near the top of Graylock).

So all right, good ride so far. We climbed up two really tough climbs and the sun in still shinning. We are now planning our way backhome, and on top of Mt. Graylock meet this cool guy who gave us a good route to get back home. So we are on our way back, and we are climbing out of this valley looking for the road the guy told us to find. So we are continually going and going (we are around mile 90 at this point), and then finally we decided to look at Sean's phone which doubles as a GPS. Well what we find is that either we missed the turn the guy was telling us, or the guy sent us the "Long Way" home, the GPS says that we still have 50 miles. It is also about 5:30PM at this point and the sun likes to go down around 7:30 or 8:00. So as you imagine Sean and I start getting a little worried at this point.

Below I have included a map of out route in red (we were traveling counter clockwise), and the blue line is where we actually wanted to go on the way back. All right, so now what do we do. Well we decide that is would be stupid to turn around, and we decide to just bite the bullet and head home on our current way out of the way path. As we are crunched for time we are working pretty hard to get home on time, and lets not forget that we have been riding about 100 miles at this point. We climb two big climbs and we finally feel like we are on the home stretch. However, we look over and it says that we still have about 20 miles until we are at the point where we are half and hour back home. So this is when the phones came out and we started making phone calls to everyone we know to meet us somewhere and cart us home.

Well after about 8 calls went to voicemail without anyone picking up we just put our heads down and kept pedaling. Eventually we did get a hold of someone and they were able to meet us in Northhampton and took us back home. Seen below is Sean sitting down after we finally arrived where our ride was going to pick us up. We were extremely excited to be done riding, and as Sean is showing in the picture, we were pretty much reduced to mush.

I would like to leave you with a few quick stats. We ended up riding 127 miles (my longest ever), and actual pedaling time was 7.5 hours. We climbed just about 9,000 ft and I went through around 5000 Cal. In terms of our "wrong turn" it cost us 15 miles. It may not sound like a ton, however it would have allowed us to return back to where we started before dark, and we also would have been a little more at ease the last 2.5-3 hours of our ride.

Anyway, it was a great ride and defiantly one to remember!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The most recent occurances, including an encounter with a bear

Sorry for the late post here, but things have been busy over here in Massachusetts. For one, I had my first MTB race of the year at Hop Brook Dam (and my first race at this venue). When I entered the race I had mostly been training on the road bike, so I was excited to hit some dirt, however road bike training does not always directly transfer to the mountain bike, so it was going to be interesting. We ended up with great weather, and I also ended up with the #1 plate, so that was a good sign. As soon as the race went off, I jumped to 3rd of 4th wheel, and when we got the the entrace to single track, disaster hit, the loop was not clearly marked and some rider including myself made a wrong turn. Mass hysteria insued and next thing I knew I was ducking under mulitiple rows of tape and running up a hill to catch back up to the group! I caught back on and got to work. However I was pretty tired after all this early excitement and fell back a few positions, but was able to keep about 4 guys in sight. By the time I was on my second of four laps I had caught these dudes and was duking it out wheel to wheel. At this point I noticed a clunk in my bike, and was not sure what was going on. I started to look down at my rear suspension to see if anything was loose, but I could not see anything. At this point I came to the conclusion that my rear shock had died (this was a very fair assumption considering I am already on my third shock!) Long story short, I was bobbing around like a pogo stick, and my seat would kick me in the butt whenever I had to use my brakes down hills. I accepted this fate, dropped these dudes I was riding with, and came across the finish line in 7th out of ~20 guys.

I am happy with this result, it is a good start to the MTB season and I now that I am hitting the dirt more I think my results should only improve. I would like to thank my friend Melissa for her help with bottles at this race, and for taking the cool before and after pictures as seen below (notice the awesome Competitive Edge jersey!!!).

On other notes PowerBar really came through, and supplied me with tons of the best sports nutrition products around. Below is a snapshot of all my energy food, it will take me a little while to go though all of it, but I am trying out lots of new products and I am very excited about that!

Caroline also came to visit me since my last blog post. We had a great weekend, with an awesome 18 mile bike ride on the road [no bike pictures here, but check out the one below ;)], as well as a great cook out with some of my polymer science buddies. Below is a great shot of us at the BBQ (notice the fohawk, haha, I decided to change it up a bit)!

Lastly on my bike ride yesterday I came across a rather large animal during one of my hill intervals. I noticed something moving in the woods, it was very large, black, and had four legs. If you are thinking a Massachusetts Black Bear you would be right on. This bear and I had a stare down, about 20 feet from one another, until I flexed my muscles and he went running into the woods. This is only the second time I have come accross a bear on my bike, the first being up north when I was on a ride with my Dad and my friend Kevin. Along those lines, I have noticed many interesting animals over the past few weeks, some eagles and hawks, a vulture with a chipmunk in his mouth, and now a bear, of the great outdoors!