Monday, July 31, 2006

Jay Peak - Race Report

This year I felt confident to go back and face my demons at Jay Peak. Two years ago this race beat me to a pulp..Uncontrollable cramps that forced me to the fetal position and cry for mama on the finish line. That painful memory had faded but I knew this year was going to be a real ass-kicker. As I type on the keyboard my back side feels like I went 3 rounds with Hulk Hogan as he kicked me no less than 900 times with steel toe boots square in the buttock...that's what I get for riding a hardtail for 8 hours in northern Vermont singletrack.

Jen, Jeff, Bronte and I rolled up to Sarah and Mike's place in central Vermont on Friday. Extremely nice of the Jordans to feed us a home cooked meal and let us crash the night. Mike has been training for the Jay mtb race for the better part of 2006 and by the looks of him at the finish, with a big smile on and a beer in hand his training was a success.

Didn't know what to expect of the race course after driving through couple of full-on down pours but they turned out to be localized flooding. (Yeah, the sides of dirt roads washed away down four feet on each side!)
So after eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dinner we called it a night and the dreams (more like nightmares) of descending down Jay Peak unraveled from my tired cerebellum. I had time to summon memories from my 2004 experience on Jay and the troubles I got my self into. I vowed never to be in that much pain EVER again so I laid in my motel bed calculating my strategy... to eat lots of bananas and cliff bars and drink gallons of Gatorade and water the entire race was the master plan...sounds easy right?

The morning was upon us, Jeff took charge of instant coffee and oatmeal. We ate up and nervously headed down to the start line (which was directly three flights down - schweet!). Start of the race was delayed for 30-45 minutes, when Dan (the race organizer) stood on a table with a megaphone announcing the pre-race info he again reiterated how brutal the last 12 miles were going to be...sorry was the final 22 miles for me. Then Dan told of us of Tinkers' bad luck with the stupid Airline losing his bike!?

The race starts and It's my kind of race! 200+ mountain bikers lumber out of the start gate and proceed to climb Jay Peak. No hurry or sprinting. Just a friendly ascent for 40 minutes. I was surprised to be in the top ten on the summit along with Jeff. Legs felt great, no burn. Heart rate through the roof (180+) all the way to the summit.

Now for the decent. Took it very conservatively remembering my thoughts just hours before. I love to rip down mountains but prefer to do it on a downhill rig with pads and a full face helmet. My ass was hanging soo far back it may have touched (more than once) on the rear tire. The smell of burning brake pads in the air and screeching rotors could be heard from every direction. It was on!

The 40 minute ascent took 5 minutes to descend back to the tram house and rip past spectators on our way out'a town and points unknown. Jeff had let it loose on the downhill from Jay and was tearing up the stretch of hilly asphalt that was the race course. We turned into the woods after a brief stretch on the road and I lost sight of Whittingham. We were united a little while later about mile thirteen on a tight and twisty jeep road heading downhill at about 30-35 mph. Might have been the most fun I'd have all day..Hard-packed dirt double track and banked corners. Hooting and hollering we ripped up the jeep trail, this was great...then a rear flat. Jeff offered assistance but I was prepared for such emergencies. Two competitors sped by as I threw a tube in my rear wheel and inflated.

Back on course within 3 minutes I caught up with Alec (one of the guys that past me). We rode together for a while in search of the elusive Mr. Whittingham. Alec (who I called Alp D'hez) is a self proclaimed roadie who just came back from riding the Alp D'hez stage two weeks ago. Cool! So Alp and I traded off pulling for a while but I lost him at an aid station. Drinking and eating was the plan and I had help on course by none other than a guy that knows this race. Mr Harry Precourt was an essential part of the rest stops. Harry was at every damn stop shoving cliff bars at me and filling my bottles and camel back. Who's the man? - Harry's the man. I know he'd rather be racing on the bike with all of us but after running the mountain marathon the previous day (not to mension hiking 2200 + miles on the A-T) he was taking it easy and helping Whit and myself.
Some great winding single-track through out this race with burley granny gear climbing. I rode along side another competitor for hours, nick-named him flower-power due to his flowered shirt (real name Tyler Merritt). Flower power and I had some good times out there, at that point I couldn't give a shit if he past me or if I past just didn't seem like a race for a big portion of this ride.

Lots of concentration needed in the woods to keep it rubber side down, the road was a welcome sight after any of the numerous wooded sections...and vice verse when it came to the road. Some road (and dirt road) sections were brutally hot and long. But nothing as much as the final dirt road ascent that seemed to last for ever.

It was Shortly before the final ascent that Jeff and I met back up at aid station 10. It was classic..meeting back up for the first time in hours, Alp D'hez right on my tail with Flower power closing in...The ladies, Jen and Sarah and her kids there..Mike Precourt shooting mad amounts of pictures with a high tech camera.

It was now the four of us; Alec, flower-power, Jeff and myself...and now it was a race again. Didn't want to get dropped on the dirt roads but didn't want to push it to the point of puke knowing Dan's advice on this section. Forced another cliff bar, spilt more red Gatorade down my gullet and mushed on up the road in our four person train. Alp opened a gap 3/4 up the mountain but this hill seemed endless..I didn't want to attack till the decent but was forced to respond to this now 20 sec. advance by Alp D'hez. I left Jeff and the now ailing flower power to attempt to grab Alp's wheel. Didn't make the pass till the bottom of the decent in the woods..perfect timing. Put on the after-burners in a muddy bog-crossing and stood on the pedals up and over a small rise. Alp was history.

After a ridiculous hike-a-bike section (where I was cursing Dan's name numerous times) with a stream crossing under a bridge? and through the golf course it was just Jeff and I. That brother was back! Alp and Flower Power no where to be seen. Couldn't have planned this grudge match better...this was after all a grudge match between friends. Earlier this year I beat Jeff down in Tennessee and then he beat me in Ohio. This was the final tie breaker that turned into a tie for third place over all. I had hopes for a top five finish but didn't think it would be here at Jay... What a day. Couldn't have predicted such an event in a million years.

After the awards Jeff and I hung around and talked to David Tinker Juarez about RAAM and 24 hour racing. He's a down to earth guy that just rides his bike - alot. David was phyced to race at Jay and was let down by the airlines' screw up...he did however have plans to ride the course on Monday when/if his bike arrived. He'd just follow the dirt marks left behind by 250 riders. Good plan...wish my legs had some power left for a ride with the legend but that simply wasn't the case.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Jay Prep

The foundation is layed for an explosive race. Just finished my first ever twenty hour training week:

three hour solo MTB
four commuting days in steamy 90+ degree heat
an eight hour mtb epic on Sunday.
+/- 250 miles in seven days (180 road, 70 mountain) starts the taper.

Sunday's ride was perfect. Relaxed pace was the secret to our success in cleaning nearly every trail on the north time we'll start at Red Dot and get'em all!

Kerry, Harry, Jeff and I set out at 9 am to reach a cooler full of food, water and a six pack of beers that Jeff and I had ditched in the woods in Gloucester. The weather wasn't the best at 100% humidity but low(ish) temps in the 70's made conditions comfortable.

Most memorable parts of the epic for me:
Being surprised by Harry's arrival for the ride...(he just finished the A-T two weeks ago and hasn't been on a mountain bike since October!)
Asking the group (after 6 Hours on single track) if they'd rather hit the road for an hour spin home...and Kerry asking if we could ride Ancient line again! we did.
No camera on the trail to capture the action because of rain...but Jeff's phone somehow lived to dial another day after he forgot it was in his jersey pocket durring the entire ride...Downpour and all.
Post epic cook-out where Jeff and I ate One Pound Burgers and watched Floyd bring home Yellow in the individual TT in the tour de France!

An Email from Kerry describing her favorite moments:
Highlights: lunch, of course..Harry crawling up side of rock...standing at ledge near teeter-totter looking down...watching you riding over those ramps..pouring rain on pipeline..ancient line X2...all the mushrooms and moss..seeing the couple without helmets to mention a few.

good stuff..thanks for the ride.


I feel bad but I'll post this anyhow...Is anyone one of the lucky thousands to travel on the airlines with their bike?...did you take along some C02 cartridges just in case you flat during your vacation? Did you unpack your neatly packed rig to find the TSA had ripped it apart and confiscated your lube and C02 cartriges...well sorry. But I found where they dispose them...

no, I don't work for the TSA.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


No racing for me this weekend...Relaxed Saturday and spent some time in the water with Lesli and the boys and then went to a cook-out with Marko Dirks and his family later in the day. Good food, Thanks to Oscar and Erin for inviting us to the party. good times.
Needed a couple days off the bike...body is beat down from a few quality rides last week. Like Jeff, my brain doesn't see the good lines in the woods when what's the point of riding.
Went out Sunday on a solo mission to see if my body had had not. Felt pretty weak through Gordon woods so I popped out at Pine st, skipping Ancient Line and rode up 127 to Gloucester and reentered the woods at red rock. My brain came around and I started to have some good times on Rez Dog and Pipe Line. The tubeless shit that George gave me rocks! That brother hooked me with 5 or 6 tubeless tires and a pair of XL wheels! Thanks again George. Had a Maxxis high roller up front and the IRC Mibro 2.1 in back. Crazy traction and comfortable ride at 37 psi...don't want to run'em too low and damage the rim. 37 seems good.
Got to save my legs for a planned epic comming the weekend of the 22nd-23rd. Should be a rip! I hear Harry Precourt is rolling up for this one! Going to start assembling a good crew for a 5 or 6 hour kahuna. Only took 9 hours last November with Jeff and John H...cause we took an extended trail-side break to eat, and eat...and eat.

Now the big news for the weekend:

Lesli has been researching scooters (I call them mopeds) for over a month... She wants to leave the SUV at home a few times a week and commute to work + run some errands around town. Yesterday, in a moment of weakness on my part, we went down to Cycles 128 for a closer look knowing this would only lead to us buying we did, a used Honda metropolitan 49cc scooter. Fun little toy..just wish we had good weather year round to get the most out of it's 100+ mpg!! yup..that's right..I was amazed too...but not amazed enough to buy one for myself. She loves it. I dig pink flame helmet.

The whole neighborhood came out for a ride infact!

Kate was a natural.

Mean Jean was not, hat's off to her for getting back on after a little mishap with the throttle.

Good 'ole, Don gave it a try. That's the spirit!

Scott was too cool for the pink flame helmet.

I was trying to find the cranks

First grocery run let's eat!

Friday, July 14, 2006


Got a HOT weekend on tap with a few different riding options...but what ride makes the most sense? - (stupid actually to be this worried about riding a bicycle)

Daulton probably...but don't want to but a full year Norba license (that I won't use again) just to ride a 30 mile race...but a good race indeed...
Pat's Peak 6 or 12 hour would fill the riding void but a muddy course coupled with the fact that I'd be rolling totally solo doesn't sound all that fun...
Kerry's 100 mile epic starting in Arlington, GBF, BCT, ending in Ipswich is a great plan but is a logistical pain in the butt for me...
Super road epic to Mom and Dad's camp?? 95 degree heat and 100 + miles of road...maybe not..

Good to have choices but nothing here is jumping out at me...ugh...

Last night's adventures in the Fells went according to plan. Jeff stayed on the bike and kept his pinky finger out of harms way. We rode some burley-ass lines on the red trail, hike-a-bike'd it on the white trail for a bit and spun da legs out on fire road...perfect 2 hours of after work riding.

George hooked me in a BIG way with a set of Mavic XL's that needed some TLC. The rear got a new hoop and spokes and the front needed to be tweeked back into shape. Rode'em for the first time last evening...IRC Mibro at 37 psi were amazing!! I've been riding tubed tires for years at 40+ psi to avoid pinch-flats therefore giving up comfort and traction, tubeless may just be the way to go...Thanks for the kick-down G !

Monday, July 10, 2006

All out in Moody Park

Fun, fast and technical. I had never done Moody Park, although I thought I had raced there years back but would have remembered the infamous "gravity cavity". Jeff, Thom and I rolled out at 12:30 for our warm-up lap after arriving to the venue a bit on the late side. Did a casual spin around the 4+ mile single track getting familiar with a few mud-holes and tricky spots. We reached the end of our warm-up and were cutting it close to the start time of 1:00, when we arrived at the S/F line got stuck in the way back behind 20 or so other senior II experts...Seemed like a bunch of racers came out for this one.

The race started and I tried to muscle my way up to Jeff and Thom but got held back three or four riders off Jeff's wheel. Forced to practice patience and pick smart lines through the mud and rocks and look for opportunities to pass for half a lap. Now up to Jeff's back wheel looking to hang with the brother but Jeffy proved to be faster on the slick as snot winding downhill and slipped out'a sight. Didn't realize till an hour and a half later that Jeff was riding with a bone-deep gash in his pinky finger and bleeding like a stuck pig.

I held my position for the remaining 3 laps and had fun rocketing up the gravity cavity. Thanks to Roz and Mike Deak for cheering me on while climbing the sandy slopes and to Jen Whittingham in the grassy field atop the final climb of each lap. Always good to hear some friendly shouts of encouragement.

The entire race I thought about Thom pushing his one-geared IF Deluxe and how truly efficient he must have been riding because I only saw that dude on the start line. I attempted to ride my third lap in 34-18 exclusively but found my thumb on the shifter when the going got tough. I am intrigued with the thought of an SS and a new challenge but know how much it will kick my ass at first.

Got home pretty late after the kind medical staff at the Claremont NH emergency room sewed up Whit's finger...which proved a better location to receive a few stitches then the other mountain bike racer who we witnessed slowly limping out of the ER after taking a shot to the mid section.

In all a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in New England despite an 11th place finish but there was a strong field of racer types out there. I did a few things right and a few things wrong, basically got schooled but in a good way.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Got it!

Found the good route to work. Peabody to the out skirts of Lynn and Saugus. Now just need to eliminate rt 107 cause it smells like trash.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Just a'nother day at the beach

Lesli and I had our first ride on Iglehearts' custom tandem yesterday, I like to call it "Big Blue".

Huge fun...this is going to be habit forming for sure.

After a brief riding lesson around the block we were tandem pro's. Communication was essential when slowing, turning and shifting. The shifting part being the most critical...really had to plan ahead of hills and traffic because Big 'ol Blue wasn't the smoothest shifting rig I'd ever pedaled.

We strapped the GPS to the rear handlebar to monitor our progress and to see how scary fast we could get her on the down hills. - only managed to get her up to 27 mph but was plenty fast for Les. I bet if couple guys were riding this thing (Jeff) and we could get her up to near 50 mph.

Spun over to Singing Beach for a slushy and some ocean breezes on this extremely humid day in the north east. On the cruise away from the beach Lesli remarked how easy it was to pedal the monstrous rig...that's because I was doing all the pushing honey...but I liked the work out. Today my body is burnt, legs and ass are as sore as if I'd rode a century. Wonder if this is how you fathers out there feel after pulling your kids around in a bike trailer?