Friday, September 28, 2007

Goal Updates! As if you care! The original goals post is here.

1) Descend harder on a MTB -- Hit a log and hurt my hand at Mt Snow, pushed hard enough on last lap to make my triceps cramp. This is going well. Vermont 50 is coming this weekend, so more chances to tear down hills I've never preridden, so I'll make up a lot of time until I go over the bars.

2) Learn to Cross Mount Correctly -- Going badly. I went over the barriers on the last lap at Bedford with Mike Z and he killed it, while I did the lame stutter step. These were slightly downhill barriers, and I still only lost half a bike length. So this just doesn't seem pressing.

I did spend some time in a park last week practicing, and came to the conclusion that I can't do it at all. It's a mental block -- I jump up, swing my leg, and then my brain jumps in and goes "holy crap what are you doing?!!?" and my other legs goes straight down so that it touches the ground just before I hit the saddle. Any advice?

3) Win a non-Verge B race -- 6th on my first try, and I had beaten the guy who won the day before at Coonamessett. This looks very doable, I just need the right combo of smaller field/mtb-ish course/lining up at the front to get it done. I screwed the pooch last week and decided to ride my own race instead of fighting for the front group. What's worse, it wasn't all my starting position -- here's a picture of me directly behind the guy (Scott Rosenthal) who finished 2nd. So even with a back row start, you can stomp the first lap and get to the front like he did.

4) Top 15 Verge B's -- Looks doable. PvB has done this at least once, and I finished with him last weekend. Unless Pierre is part of a larger conspiracy to build up my confidence before destroying me at Gloucester, which is more plausible than you think.

5) Cat 2 Upgrade -- 4 points in the bank already, 5 if you realize that Lyne Bessette isn't actually a Cat 3 man. But she can steal my upgrade points any day.

6) Beat Josh a bunch -- 2 for 2, but of course he hasn't been fresh for any of those races. Probably part of that conspiracy I mentioned earlier. NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN!

This weekend isn't about cross, though. It's about a five-hour MTB epic. And that's all right with me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bedford Cyclocross Race Report

One of the great things about cross is that you can do it twice in a weekend because it's not as physically destructive as mountain biking. So instead of spending Saturday farting around and resting up for Sunday's MTB race, you can just race Saturday, and if that doesn't go well there's always Sunday.

Which isn't to say that Sunday won't be a bit slower, but it's not a guaranteed suckfest like back-to-back 3 hour MTB races would be.

So with that in mind I headed up to Bedford Sunday for some more cross. The good news was that I was racing the 3/4 race, so no pros crushing me and no sixty minutes of hell. The bad news was, I could definitely feel Saturday in the legs, and the Bedford course was far more roadie-friendly than Eco Cross. Instead of singletrack and turns, Bedford featured long, rough, grassy straights that demanded the kind of seated watts I just can't produce for very long.

It wasn't totally lame, though, it had one nice, dusty and slippery high-speed corner and it had a steep runup that lead into almost nowhere to remount before a rocky and dusty drop that claimed more than a few people who didn't get clipped in. I saw someone trying to improve the rideability of it by clearing out the rocks, but this drop was hungry for blood and no amount of work was going to make it easy, or even safe. As a mountain biker, I considered that a good thing.

So the typical thing happened, the masters race finished and no B's were lined up. I ride 3 more minutes, and hey, 40 B's are now lined up and I get a back row start. If I was a really crosser I would recognize this was bad and bully my way to the front, but I was scared my legs were going to give up the ghost if I started too fast. Next time I'll man up and push my way to the front.

I also realized just before we rolled off that one of my season's goals was unexpectedly in play -- Lynn Bessette snuck into the front row of our field. Apparently risking her season by racing the calamity that is 3/4 men in September is not too sketchy for her, so I applaud her for that. And I guess when you're a country's national champion, you can take a front row spot if you show up late. Humph.

So the whistle blows and Bessette jumps off the line in a very pro-like manner. I watch in dismay as none of the other frontline riders match her speed, and as we hit the first corner Lynn Bessette has gotten the holeshot on us. This is a dark day for the B Men of New England. Have you no testosterone? Half of you are going to blow up by lap 3 anyway, why not step it up just a bit more and save us from the ignominy of getting holeshotted by a girl?

It's easy to say these things when you are blocked in at the back.

The first lap is a dust storm of chaos. The runup becomes a rundown as the inevitable crash happens and we storm around the fallen rider. I feel like I've lost tons of time in this cluster behind at least 30 people, but when the course loops back I'm still within 20 seconds or so of the front, and yes, Lynn Bessette is still there, although someone else is now leading.

I'm scared of going into the red too early after yesterday so it's all I can do to hold my place on lap one. Everyone is still too excited and making adrenaline-fueled jumps out of every turn. On lap two the pace starts to slow and by lap three the pretenders are dropping left and right, crashing on the off-camber, crashing on the drop, crashing through course tape. I start making some serious places along with an IBC guy, and soon Jordan says I'm nearing the top 10.

Thanks to all the loopbacks on the course I can see the lead group several times a lap. A Cambridge Bikes guy (apparently the Messenger World Champ) is going off the front, but other than that they aren't gaining on me. As we pass the halfway point, I'm starting to think that I just might be closing on Bessette.

Eventually I stabilize with a group of 4, two other guys (West Hill and Cox Communications, maybe?) and the IBC guy who has been moving up with me. My legs want to sit in here, and there's still 3 or 4 laps to go, but after a lap with them we're losing ground on the leaders and I have to suck it up and move on. The IBC guy comes with me, and the other two are quickly gone. Lesson learned -- if you started at the back, never sit in, ever.

The places come hard now. The field is strung out, few and far between ahead of me. I gradually distance myself from the IBC guy and make a place or two as the race winds down. Finally, on the last lap, I see the blue kit of a Zancanato rider getting closer and on a turnaround I see his custom painted HUP bike and I realize it's none other than the legend himself.

Mike Z has apparently gotten very, very fast compared to the guy who raced mountain bikes at this spring. I do not like this development.

But, at least today, he's flagging. I catch him with half a lap to go, and my body has hurt long enough it stops reporting pain, so I go by as soon as I can and sprint home for 6th place.

I'm reasonably satisfied, given that it was not a great course for me and some of my competitors took Saturday off, but I can't call it a success. Not when a certain Canadian National Champ finished 25 seconds ahead of me in 3rd.

One of these days, Lynn. One of these days.....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eco Cross Pictures

Here's some pictures from Alex. There would be more but I already feel vain enough posting three pictures of myself.

Three ways to get up the sand -- Pierre pushes, Ben rides (mostly hidden), I carry.

Looking halfway decent setting the bike down.

help help it's Matt White and he's coming to rip my legs off!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eco Cross Race Report

Ok, so when we last left our intrepid hero he was freaking out about the unspeakable beatdown he was going to receive riding Open Men at the Eco Cross. Let's see how it went!

Well, the initial prognosis was not lookin' good. As if Toby and friends on the prereg list weren't enough, a certain legendary cyclocrosser whose name rhymes with "Shark McCormack" was there. Various Keoughs were rolling around wearing some national champ stripes, which was intimidating me. My old buddy and pro roadie Ward was there. It was looking grim. I said to Josh, as we waiting in the shade for the women to finish up, "Well at least Matt White isn't here."

5 minutes later, guess what jam-related team rider rolls up? EFF US.

At the end of the women's race I got my bike back from Anna McLoon, who was using it for her first CX race ever. We had like 20 minutes until start and of course instead of warming up I had to fix the brakes, since one of the wheels was considerably less true than it had started. Gewilli introduced himself by heckling me working on my bike at the last possible moment.

Ok, so, racing. There were maybe 35 people on the start line. I had been hoping for a lot more pack fodder but apparently the smart cat 3's were up at New Boston not getting mauled by Matt White.

So GeWilli, myself and Josh all line up at the back, and when the course bottlenecks we basically come to a complete stop. It took like a half lap to get un-blocked since it was a no-passing kind of course, so Josh and I kept talking nonsense while we couldn't ride. Eventually G told us to shut up, probably because we weren't even breathing hard and he was.

After a while things got moving and I was at the absolute rear of the accordion I couldn't move up because everyone was sprinting out of the corners. Finally I decided that maybe chilling in last place wasn't a great plan (sorry Josh) and I got it going on one of the few spots wide enough to pass. From there, I raced my normal CX business (which is to say, good cornering, low power, bad remounts) for a few laps and moved up through the field. After 3 or 4 laps I was in a pretty groove until I came through the start/finish and saw seven laps to go. Seven freaking laps. Holy crap, I am not ready for 60 minutes of racing.

This sobering realization took its toll on the whole field, though. I backed off the pace, but ahead of me PvB and Ben Corbalis were in sight and getting closer. A few more laps of trying to ride steady and crashing through at least one bush per lap and I had made it up to Ben's wheel, and while I sat on he reeled PvB back in. So with four to go, we kind of consolidated into a group of three, and since I'm stupid I rode at the back.

I kept lapping wheels with Ben on corners, trying to find an opening, but the course was not very forgiving. Three times I either touched his wheel or had to put a foot down to keep from hitting it, and I was getting frustrated. Finally I reached new heights of stupid racing and tried to take a ridiculously aggressive line on the corner on the fastest part of the course to make the pass -- next thing I know I'm tumbling across the grass with my bike flipping over me.

Get up, grab the bike, run, run, mount, shift the derailleur hard to pick the chain back up... ouch. When the adrenaline ran out, I was left with two twisted brake hoods and a body full of lactic acid, and a brain that suddenly didn't want to hammer anymore. I rode a lap and lost a place. Ben and PvB were up the road... but man, what the hell? I was there, man, I coulda been up with those guys, but I had to crash like a dumbass.

I guess the nice thing about racing for 60 minutes it that you can take a introspective lap and still have some time to get your race on.

I finished the lap and decided that I wasn't blowing this chance at a very decent result. Brain and Legs had a quick conversation and Legs reluctantly admitted that they probably could give a little more for the last 15 minutes.

I picked it back up and got my place back.

At the end of the lap, I caught Ben. Then PvB. Matt White lapped us on his way to the victory, and suddenly we only had 1.5 laps to go. I decided I'd sit in for a lap and then try to sneak by with a few turns left.

I spent the next 6 minutes vigorously defending PvB's wheel from Ben. He almost got me on the sandy runup, but one more trip into the pain cave kept me on PvB's wheel. With about a third of a lap to go, I had a smooth trip through a nasty corner and crept up on PvB enough to make a bid for the holeshot into the final tight section. I sprinted past and kept my heart in my chest just barely enough to ride the last technical section in control, then put my head down and suffered into the finish.

No idea what place I was.

60 minutes is so hard.

Bedford tomorrow is gonna hurt, but at least Matt While won't lap me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eco Cross Open Men Preview

Dude, what's going to happen when Colin rides 60 minutes of Open Men on Saturday? Man I wonder! Let's ask a Ryan-K-inspired MSPaint:
Holy crap!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Crosshype: How Fast Is Tim Johnson?

Everyone knows that Tim Johnson and the rest of the Elite Men field is ridiculously fast. But how much faster than you is he?

What about Elite Juniors? Or A Masters? Or B Men?

Anyone could look at lap times and answer these questions, but it's a fair amount of number-pushing to get to the points where you can say "Tim Johnson rides X% faster than me." Lucky for you, I like numbers, so I did the heavy lifting, and now I want to talk about it. If you're anti-math or anti-cross, read on at your own peril.

Ok, so we're going to use the results from Caster's Grand Prix last December. Not because I have a particular affinity for that race, but it had long laps so it's pretty easy to figure out how many laps each field did. And the results have times for almost everyone, which is great.

Here's the initial breakdown:

CategoryWinnerTimeLapsLap Time% of TJ
Elite MenTim Johnson57:3587:11 100
A MastersMichael Yozell46:2367:43 93
U19 JuniorsNick Keough38:5357:46 92.5
B MenGary Douville39:1957:5291.5
Elite WomenLyne Bessette41:3358:1986.5
C MenMatt Knight33:4548:2685.3
B MastersMike Triosi34:0948:32 84.3
Masters 55+Phillip Bannister35:3648:54 80.8
B WomenErin Duggan47:2459:2972

Sweet. A chart. The last two columns are where it's at -- lap time, and speed as a percentage of Tim Johnson's speed. So, for example, C men ride at 85% of Tim Johnson for half as many laps.

Math warning: Division is hard. If C Men are 85% of Tim Johnson, what % faster than C Men is Tim Johnson? (Not 15% -- 17.6%)

But, if Tim Johnson is going 17% faster than C Men, how much more power is he putting out? An excellent question, my friend! Unfortunately we can't measure the rolling resistance of a cross race. If we treat cross as frictionless (haha) we can get some numbers from air resistance and use them as an upper bound.

Riding 17.6% faster, if you are only being slowed down by air, requires 38.3% more power. (Resistance proportionate to velocity squared, 1.176/100 * 1.176/1 = 1.383)

So Tim Johnson is putting out somewhere between 17.6% more power (ignoring air resistance) and 38.3% more power (ignoring rolling resistance). The true number is somewhere between the two. Anyone want to estimate average rolling resistance for a cross race?

Man, I don't know what this proves, except that Tim Johnson is fast. Don't forget that part of going 17% faster is handling your bike at that speed.

As long as we have the numbers here, lets look at how the fields stack up. Note that everything here assumes you could maintain lap times in a longer race, which is unlikely.

  • The winning A Master and Elite Junior would have placed 19th/41 in Elite Men

  • The winning B Man would have placed 21st/41 in Elite Men

  • The winning Elite Woman would have placed 23rd/64 in B Men (although she actually raced B Men and was 12th!)

  • The winning C Man would have been 28th/64 in B Men

  • The winning B Master would have been 38th/64 in B Men and 44th/66 in A Masters

  • The winning B Woman would have been 18th/20 in Elite Women

In summary, anyone near the front of their group can easily move up and be competitive, with the possible exception of B women. If you have any friends who are waffling about what category to ride at Verge races, show them this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kenda XC Klassic Race Report

While the rest of the blog-reading world was at Sucker Brook getting their cross season started, I was up at Mt Snow getting my MTB season ended by an event that's so tough, they spell classic with a K. Hard. core.

The "Klassic" was a reprise of the MTB Nationals course, with a few changes. First off, the opening dirt road climb was replaced by a climb up an intermediate ski trail that put your nose on your handlebars and your heart in your mouth about 3 minutes into the race. It was so steep that guys in my class were walking it on lap *one.*

Later on we skipped a woods section up by the snowmaking pond with another face-to-stem fireroad climb that was almost as steep, looser, and came at the end of nearly 20 minutes of climbing. So that didn't exactly make things easier.

And the descents? My god, Mt Snow has a unique way to make trails hard -- ride the crap out of them with hardly any maintenance for years. The downhills were horribly worn out boulder and root fields that provided absolutely no rest and beat the hell out of you. Combine that with 1000+ feet of climbing per lap and you have two hours of truly impressive sufferring. I really haven't hurt that much, for that long, all season.

We set off with 12 guys riding expert 19-29 and not 50 yards in two guys ate it. I was bringing up the rear and had to swerve around Nick Barstow who was attempting to roll on his face, sans bike, down the trail. I had a pretty relaxed start since with 12 guys and a 250 foot opening climb, positioning was of little importance. Sure enough the field gapped me early but by the time the climb finished I was inching past people who were walking. And of course, 5 minutes into the race, I was already totally into the red. It was going to be a long day.

On the first descent out of two I passed Miles Ericson (I'm on a full name basis with the regulars now, ha) when he bobbled on that ridiculous crap Mt Snow calls a trail. This put me up to around 7th or 8th in the field. Meanwhile Nick came back, riding angry after crashing, and I had to let him go to try to ride my own race. I figured he was probably going to overdo it after the crash and I'd get it back later.

So we headed up the monster ascent, literally 20 minutes of steady climbing (except when it's too steep to even ride) and almost all of it in the granny ring. I fought to keep my front wheel down tried to ignore the 30+ guys who were filtering through the slow-climbing 19-29 pack. Ben Corbalis, whom I never, ever beat, was having a bad day, and trying to middle-ring it. Not surprisingly, you can grind out a few climbs at 30 rpm out of the saddle, but when you're looking at 20 minutes straight that eventually destroys you. After swapping back and forth with him for a bit he eventually blew up and disappeared, and then DNF'ed.

So eventually we reached the top of the monster and I tried to forget about how I had to ride up it two more times. This was my first time down the really trashy descent that I had only seen the pro men ride -- I remember at the time being generally unimpressed by how fast they went down hill -- of course now that I was on a bike instead of spectating I discover how incredibly hard it was. Not fun-hard, just hard-hard. There were people scattered around all the really sketchy parts which was probably so they could call an ambulance when the inevitable happened. Based on how close I came to wrecking repeatedly, I can't believe everyone made it down in one piece.

Near the bottom my luck ran out, I was closing up on a guy in my category going into a hard left with giant rocks and I was going too fast. I adjusted my line to avoid him and saw a big-ass log sticking out of the woods horizontally. Of course my brain says "omigod don't hit that," but my eyes stayed locked on it and I slammed my handlebar straight into it, crushing my fingertips and thumb between bar and log.

As seems to be standard for my racing lately, I spent 30-60 seconds off the bike there, gingerly holding my gloved hand trying to figure out if I could ride again. I kept wondering if all my fingernails were still attached and what it would feel like if they weren't. Eventually I got back on because there was nothing else to do and I couldn't take my glove off to look at it. Shifting hurt. I rode slowly for a bit.

Then out of nowhere, I hear the chain-slap of a descending madman and Matt Jalbert roars by my gingerly-pedaling ass like I'm standing still. This galvanized me into action, I mean, I should at least catch him so I can explain why I was going pathetically slow, right? Feeling wronged, I attacked the downhill again and stayed somewhat within sight of his wheel.

I was ticked off enough at getting passed that I pretty much ignore the pain in my hand for a while -- and by the time I got back to the start/finish area it was feeling good enough I had shelved any ideas of dropping out. Thanks, adrenaline! But I still had to ride two laps.

I passed Matt back at the end of the North Loop, for some reason there was one high-speed waterbar descent I was faster on even though he was clearly a better descender than I. Anyway, I put him in the rear-view and assumed he would disappear on the climb. Unfortunately, my legs were already hitting their limits on lap two and he most certainly did not disappear, instead dangling 15 seconds back for the entire 20 minute climb. Somewhere in there I did pass another guy from my category who was totally blown to make a place, however. At the top I was feeling pretty wasted, but this time I got down the descent without mishap and probably went faster, too. In any case Matt didn't catch up with me and at the bottom I could even see Nick 45 seconds ahead or so.

The third lap was just pure suffering for forty minutes. Even in my easiest gear my legs were too cooked to make the climb on the north loop, but walking was nearly as fast as riding. I noticed at the top however that the walking had really toasted my calves and they were feeling crampy...

So I was deep in the hurt locker, but everyone else was too. Nick was still periodically in sight on the climbs, and every time I looked back Matt was still there too. All I could do was count down the granny ring pitches until the torture was over. On the last brutal, loose fire road climb I tried to stand up, spun in place twice, got one pedal stroke, and then my calf cramped. Somehow I thrashed out of it and kept rolling, but my body was starting to rebel against the slave driver.

All I needed was to hammer the last downhill and finishing climbs to get in with a recent result. I'd held off Matt descending last time and I made time on Nick -- it seemed like I had a good shot at moving up. Unfortunately, heading downhill again I discovered that my triceps were joining by calves in mutiny, and were cramping up when I squeezed the brakes. I tried to stretch my hands out, but the descent was relentless and every other part of my body wanted a rest too.

Despite the problems I was still going faster than the last lap before. I was sure I'd put the last nail in Matt's coffin when I heard that chainslap again. I picked it up to a new, barely braking, wheel skidding pace but it was hopeless -- the chainslap kept getting louder and before I knew it he was on me. I've never ridden a bike downhill that recklessly, so he couldn't pass me, but when we hit an intermediate climb he went past like a guy whose legs were not at the breaking point. I tried to get on his wheel my calves were basically cinder blocks, so nothing doing. Nick was now a tantalizing 15 seconds up the road at Matt was already closing in on him.

I gave it everything I had for the last 5 minutes and with 500 meters left Nick was still dangling in front of me. He was looking defeated after getting similarly roasted by Matt descending and I thought I could make a run at him. Last gradual climb, put it in the big ring, come on this is it, one last burst.... there was just nothing left. I got out of the saddle, got a few pedals strokes in but my calves just cramped again and it was all I could do to stay on the bike.

I softpedaled in for 5th in my category, best result of the year on the hardest course I've ever raced a mountain bike on. 3rd and 4th were oh so close, but after battling the mountain and my body as much as other racers for two hours, just getting across the line felt like victory.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Landmine Classic Race Report

Ok. It's been seven weeks off. Let's do this thing.

Sunday I went with my buddy Bryan down to Wompatuck to do the Landmine Classic. This was a cool event because it was a 1-lap 22 mile course, and since I'm a dirty cheater I prerode about 80% of it last weekend. So I had the position of every single rock in every single rock garden memorized... well ok, I knew that there were tons of rocks and very little climbing.

It was Bryan's first race in like 3 years so he rode sport. He almost tried to ride Beginner but I shamed him out of it. Score one for not sandbagging.

Since the majority of semipro types were riding the 2-lap marathon course, they let us start with the semipros. As if we needed help going out too fast. So despite the impending 2+ hours of suffering, we left the start line at a rate of speed more suited to a cross race. Even worse, due to the flat nature of the course, I felt like I should really try to grab some wheels and draft, so I couldn't just let my opponents go.

Not surprisingly I found myself in some "difficulty" about 1.5 miles in, having spent the whole time before that in my big ring. Luckily there was some more technical stuff coming up which slowed the pace down, so I got behind Nick Barstow and set about stuffing my lungs back down my throat.

We went up and over Prospect Hill twice, and it's a very technical climb. Of course I had been able to preride it easily, but throw in some moisture, crowds and a sky-high heart rate and I was all over the place. Everyone else was too. I did a slightly better job than average at staying on the bike, but I was pretty lackluster off the bike, so I didn't move up at all. Plus, the singlespeeders and 30+ guys were starting to catch us, so it was basically rolling chaos all over Prospect Hill.

On one completely unrideable rock garden, I was jogging with my bike when I looked down and saw a gel on the trail. "Oh man, that sucks," I thought, as I smugly looked down at my thigh at my gel stash. Except my gel stash wasn't there.

Well crap. I pedaled on, but the enormity of this problem took a while to sink in. At first I told myself I could tough it out, but come on, am I really a poster boy for toughing it out? I think not.

So later on I was jogging through this rock garden (sound familiar) with some other guys and I saw another gel on the ground! Eureka! Completely oblivious to the guy behind me I stopped dead and picked it up. He was not amused, but it was worth it. Back in business! I spent the next 60 seconds trying to descend rocky singletrack with a gel in my hand before I realized that I was going to kill myself trying to put it in my jersey.

Ok, so, now my primary excuse for riding slow is gone, time to hammer, right? Well, kind of. I got my hammer on to a limited degree, but only a mile or so later I was cranking hard in the middle ring and I blew the chain right off my cranks. Straight into the bar went my knee, and straight into a swearing world of hurt I went.

Since it was light out I could tell I didn't need stitches or anything, but damn, that one hurt. I took a trailside break which mainly consisted of panting "ouch" and looking at the ground for a while and then tried to ride again. It hurt but it was doable, but 60 seconds of stopping was terrible for the motivation. I'm practically DFL in my category, my knee is killing me, and I have to ride 16 more miles? Are you kidding me?

What's worse is that my rear triangle was messed up, in a fairly typical fashion. Let me just say that I had to reset the rear wheel to fix it, except that made the brakes rub, so I had to put it back again at just the right angle to get the brakes to clear, and did I mention that my rear shifting was completely screwed up? I hate my bike. I'm getting a new frame next spring, I swear.

There was some more stopping involved in this diagnosis and repair, so I had slid all the way back to the semi pro women. This was actually pretty good since Bryna Nestor and Marci Titus Hall were riding together and I know they're both relatively close to me in speed, so I had some company which was exactly what I needed to keep from dropping out. So we cruised around for a while, I tried to stay out of their way since they were racing for 2/3 overall and I was just some clown with a broken bike and a chain that kept slipping in his middle ring.

You know why my chain wouldn't stay in my middle ring? Because I had a brand new chain, and I had paired it with a 3-year-old crank I got used, from ebay, for $25. Oops.

At one point I found another gel on the ground, which I also picked up. If I'm going to finish last, I'm gonna do it with $20 of gel in my pockets, dammit.

At some point Bryna dropped off a bit and I went around her an rode with Marci for a while. Like a typical racer male I rode right on her ass in the technical stuff, and then I couldn't pass her on the climbs and flats because I suck. After a while she got sufficiently annoyed to tell me I should pass since she was having trouble picking good lines. The funny thing was that I also was having a horrible time steering my bike, but since I was behind her she had no idea how much junk I was riding into.

Finally we got out of the woods onto a paved section with a sharp turn, and as soon as I try to turn my front tire folds halfway off my stupid wheel, because apparently I had a stupid slow leak, which explains why I can't steer my stupid bike. So, I'm a good 8 miles from the car, I might as well get some flat-changing practice in, right?

I tossed the bike down, whipped out my levers and got to work. Got the tire off and the tube out in 60 seconds or so, feeling pro. Stuff the tube in, start putting the tire back on, man I'm so awesome I'm going to change this tire in like 3 minutes....

Or not. So it was a tubeless tire, and the bead is soft and rubbery, (so it's airtight) which means that muscling it back over the rim is hard. And by hard, I mean impossible. Rider after rider streamed past as I struggled to finish off the last 12 inches of the rim. I'd get a little bit, and the other end would slide off. After a while, I gave it everything I had, pushing laterally with my thumbs. The tire didn't go on, and I actually separated my thumbnails from the skin enough blood started oozing out. Eeew.

Of course by now Brian and the rest of the sport leaders had come by and I was pretty well disgusted with things, so I decided screw it, I'm using the levers. And even THEN it took another 5 minutes of wrestling to get the tire on. Is there some trick to this I'm not aware of? Seriously, does anyone reading this have any tricks for putting a tubeless tire back on other than "have incredible hand strength?"

All in all I think the whole thing took about 15 minutes. By the time I was back on the bike I was hanging out with the rear of the sport field with dudes in T-shirts. I really like how, after 24 years of having awesome mechanical luck, I am suddenly unable to ride anywhere without breaking my bike. Did I mention I need a new bike? Seriously.

Well, the last ten miles of the race were pretty fun. Compared to the people around me I was flying, so I was going all out whenever I actually had clear trail in front of me. I was blowing past overweight sport riders on the climbs like they were overweight sport riders, which was exactly what I needed to brighten what had been a very crappy day.

In the end I only caught up with a few expert women, so I think I was still the last expert male to finish, which isn't gonna look good on the results. But on the plus side, I felt really fast for the last hour, and Bryan flatted too so he didn't beat me. Sucka! And I couldn't really stand up for the last half, since my stupid chain was slipping constantly in the middle ring.

My bike is such crap and it's all my fault. You know what can fix this? Money and time. You know what I don't want to spend, and don't have much of this coming week? Money and time......

Whatever, I still love bike racing.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Attending a Bike Wedding

Ok, so this blog has been pretty quiet for a while. It's because I've been adhering two my own two "rules of blogging" -- 1, Don't blog when you have nothing to say and 2, Don't blog when you don't have time to do a decent job.

So I haven't finished a race in 7 seven weeks (see rule #1) and I spent this past weekend moving into a new apartment (#2). So I've had more pressing concerns, like getting some freakin blinds up in my room since you can see straight into it from the street.

Anyway, I also attended Justin's wedding last Saturday. Ordinarily going to a wedding is not a bike-blog-worthy event, but in this case Justin is a big biker (well as much as singlespeeders can be called bikers...) and the event featured a "bike procession" (precession?) after the ceremony, where probably 40 people rode mostly beater bikes 3 miles from the church to the reception. Highlights included...

A homemade recumbent tandem where the riders point opposite directions...

A bike with 36 inch wheels....

and of course, bride and groom on a tandem!

Note nifty rope keeping Stacey's dress out of the wheel. I'm not sure about the kid(s) in the trailer but I don't think they're theirs -- unless I reaaaaally missed something.

Anyway, I'm sure it's not the first biking wedding event, but it's the first one I've ever been to, and it was cool. Another "action shot" from inside the caravan:

And check out the crazy double-cassette action on the recumbent:
As you can see I'm far more interested in the recumbent tandem than I am in, say, looking respectable. Linnea and I took a test drive -- I would describe it as "squirrely." Sorry about that cut on your leg, Linnea...

Recently I hooked up Google Analytics on this blog because I have a thing for numbers. The results were surprising to say the least. Here's the map for visitors in the last ten days:
Would you believe that the second most common visitor location is Syracuse? And freakin' Anchorage cracked the top ten? I guess I have Jess and Laura to thank for that, and I guess that means I might actually have some nordic readers.

Blogging about your own blog might be the lamest thing in the world so I'll quit now.

In other, less visual, news, since I now live just 1 mile away from the Fells in Teele Square I decided that instead of doing boring old road intervals I would go do some MTB intervals at the Fells tonight. I learned a few things --

1) There are too many people in the Fells to hammer for 3 minutes on a mountain bike. Next time I need a quality workout, I guess I have to go back to Eastern Ave.
2) It might seem pretty light out, but you're always just a broken chain and some clumsy attempts at fixing it away from riding in the dark.
3) Once you put a chain back together, you better make sure you got the pins centered perfectly, unless you want to break it again next time you stand up.
4) I need a new chain.

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