Thursday, September 28, 2006

ECV cross practice

So, I had my first go at Cyclo-cross last night. Way different than endurance mtb! ECV practices cross on Wednesday nights about a mile from my house so I spun over to watch and learn a few things. Jesse Anthony and Lyne Bessette along with Paul Boudreau with ECV heading up the practice. Who better to learn from than a couple of pro's?
I stood out like a sore thumb on my rigid mountain bike among 30 others on their 'cross bikes - but it did the trick. The guys and girls from ECV and a few other teams welcomed me into their practice session happily.
I knew a few guys from CCB - Andy and Sean and a fellow Igleheart rider, Glen Cook showed me some pointers. We did some laps around the 1.5 mile course that ECV had set up. Ran some drills to practice dismounting/mounting while jumping over 12 inch barriers. Last we practiced sprint starts on asphalt for 90 meters. Almost puked riding home after 3 or 4 of the high speed sprints. In all a great experience, glad I went over...I have a much better understanding of what 'cross is all about.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Screwing around

Christopher Igleheart was kind enough to kick me down one of his beautifully simple forks for a good price yesterday. While I installed the mat black steel fork I had to ask myself, why? Why am I taking my plush 100mm fox shock off for what is going to undoubtedly be a painfest of an experience? But I'm doing it anyway.
Bike gear it self seems to be cyclic. One season I'm riding a 7 inch dh bike, the next a 5 inch freerider and now I'm back to where I started 10 years ago..on a rigid steel rig. I can only hope by spring I'll be on a dual 4 inch carbon rocket.

My road wheels mount up nicely. Would like to take'r out for a spin but no brakes with out the rotors... Maybe time to look around for a set of 29er wheels.

Monday, September 25, 2006

loving the ride

The commute to/from work via bike is the best part of every day. I prefer the ride home. September has afforded enough day light and fair temps to allow a fairly mello pace in the afternoon. There are days that my legs don't feel like turning at 190 rpm, so I spin slow and enjoy the view. Things I'd miss unless cruising in the open air.

Today was especially sweet. Left home wearing a chamois and a cotton T and a pack with a rain layer just in case it rained...and it did. Within 10 minutes I was riding in a slight shower. But the weather girl said mostly sunny? - guess thats why I had the rain coat. Was not enough of a storm to get soaked. The water was evaporating as fast as it was hitting my cotton shirt. Perfect temp at 60 degrees, no wind.
On the ride home I did something that I haven't done in 6 months. I put on two layers to keep warm. Shit, autumn is here...but for some reason I can't wait for the cooler months. Change is good. Nothing can stop it so just accept it - or move. Bring on October and November!

In the beginning of this season I wondered if I'd suffer from burn-out by the end. Answer is a definitive: No. (For one thing I only did one race a month.) I can't wait to convert my Igleheart to a rigid 700c cross bike and take on a new challenge.
I missed out on this weekend's vt50 (where Jeff and Thom kicked some SERIOUS ASS!) Not being there was a total lack of planning on my behalf. But missing that race has fueled the need to race again soon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Playing with fire

Bees actually, but what's worse - gett'in burned or getting attacked by yellow jackets?
Invited my friend Bill over for some expert advice on landscaping my front disaster of a lawn. Riding every weekend during the summer doesn"t help weed the planting beds nor does it leave time to prune overgrown rhododendrons.
Could have just left well enough alone but feel responsible not to bring the property values down in my part of suburbia. Billy gave Lesli some great ideas. #1 rip out the big-old ugly ass bushes on either side of the ranch. Gave me an excuse to use the willys and a cable to extract the root-ball after cutting down the yews. Wish the damn cable didn't break and shoot like a metal whip at the tail gate of my antique suv, my fault. I'm over the carnage, what's a little paint any how? five years ago it would have been a big deal.
After a couple cold ones I'm removing cement blocks that were half burried and entangled in weeds and grass and wham! wham! wham! I'm getting stung in the face, ear, and side of the neck. Took a sec. to figure out what's happening. Never saw the little f**kers but heard 'em. My neighbor (Mary) had just stepped out for her car to the sight of me dancing round the lawn swearing like the father in "a Christmas story". - what the...Rack n frak, u little sons a... ahhgh!! all the while swatting at the buzzing pests with a shovel. real nice. Should have taken Harvey's advice and went for a ride.
So that was yesterday.. This is today. I'm not giving up, put my head down and drive thru this project bees or no bees.
Forgot all about yesterdays pain and went right back at it. Shoveling loads of dirt and weeds into my wheelbarrow and then, Buzzzzz buz buzzz. Swarming in a flying mass of yellow and black above a bush. After a minute they returned to their borrow. I went to the garage and grabbed a can of Raid. "Sorry guys", as I soaked the area with poison. No more bees..went back to work removing cement blocks. Every now and they looking at their hole, nothing...that was easy.
10 minutes later I disturb their underground nest again but this time the motherload emerge. Dom and Gus (my dogs) can't identify the danger quick enough and are coated with stinging bees. Poor Dom was hit bad. The yellow jackets stick to his long hair like velcro, they burrow in for the kill. I swatted 20 or 30 off his long black coat but he was getting wailed. I look over to Gus, he is dragging his face on the ground trying to rub out the pain after being bit several times on the snout.
This is war. Tomorrow I hit up the hardware store for a bee bomb.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

why no discs?

I don't have big bucks to spend on a sport that I know little about. 'Cross has always seemed like a strange off shoot to me, not road biking but more so than mountain biking. Racing around in a park? Dis-mounting, mounting, dropbars, shouldering the bike, running, running? My legs? I have not used those running muscles in a year...shit, do I really want to do this?
Just need a way to keep a high level of activity through the fall. Not only to hang on to fitness but I've grown to like my 4000 calorie/day diet. Wanted to convert the Igleheart frame, yeah- Chrostopher built the rear stay bridge up and out of the way to accept 700c wheels...just need a ridgid fork..and whalla, cyclo-cross...kinda. But then I hear that the UCI has a rule concerning disc brakes? Gotta have canti's? Seems a little old fashion.
I have a book titled, Cyclo-cross training and technique by Simon Mom gave it to me about 15 years ago. Maybe I give it a read now.

Monday, September 18, 2006


One of the last great weekends for summer '06. Did it up right with a surprise Birthday Bash for my wife Lesli. Yes, she was surprised. I was fearful a month ago when picking the date..was the weather going to cooperate or was it going to be 55 and raining?
Here is Chef Matt placing the finish touches before we torture the little guys.

Thanks to the Puleo's for loaning me their giant Lobster cooker! This is the only way to cook! Put all ingredients in a huge stainless steel bowl, cover with tin-foil, light the flame and crack a cold beer - An hour and a half later serve to a couple dozen friends.

Smells ready!

Put on your bib, it's time to get messy!

And Messy we got! There is no clean way to eat Lobster...I guess a lobster roll, but not quite as fun as ripping the lobster body apart and sucking every last bit of meat out of the legs and claws is how to enjoy crustations.

We ate for hours and then relaxed on the deck as people said their goodbyes. It was great seeing Donna and Nick again. I know we have met a few times in Westfield at family reunions. Donna is my great cousin...Let's see how that works, my great grandmother's - sister's - daughter. I guess people come out of the wood work when they hear lobster bake! I'm kidding of coarse Donna. Hope to see you and Nick again soon.

Taylor, Kyle and Mason on the trampoline. When I heard "More Mud!" I went over to investigate but my presence with the camera only encouraged them to throw more globs of mud on the tramp and get dirtier.

nothing like kids being kids - coming from a guy that still gets this dirty.

Thanks for a good laugh Taylor, but I don't think Lianne enjoyed doing the laundry the next morning. :-o

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

would'a - should'a - could'a

What was I thinking on 05/25/06 at 7:00 pm. Why was I not in front of my computer while 850 other riders were? Where was I? What was I doing? Why does this race sell out in minutes? Did I realize then, that I really would want to race this one this year?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Shenandoah Mountain 100

I roll up to the starting line which is in a wide open field, 200 meters across. 400 mountain bike racers ready to get their pain on. Chris Scott stands above the long stretched out ribbon of riders to tell us a few last tid bits of advice on his killer creation, which is this race coarse. A dirt bike kicks to life and the two stroke winds away switching gears. The wave of riders shout and holler, the Clicking sound of clipless pedals engaging, cat-calls, hoots and whistles. Wer're off!
Down a dirt road we snake. Hundreds of riders shoulder to shoulder, bike racers surround me. Concentrating on keeping upright and out of the wheel in front of me. I look in the distance to see the lead group pulling away already, their red shirts popping above the rolling double track every couple minutes. I see a few familiar faces in the B group around me. A little voice in my head can't wait till this race breaks up a little and I can relax and get into a groove.
The start of this race is perfect. Long stretch of dirt and gravel before we hit a rocky, technical singletrack named Cookie trail. My rear tire pops out of the drop out and I stop to see why it feels like the rear stay is broken. Skip comes by me while I'm sidelined. He's got major concentration as he pushes his 34x16. The rocky single track leads into a technical climb named Lynn that is a total ass kicker. Held my concentration up the switchback granny climb and it soon spilled out to a gravel road for a few miles of recovery.
There, I rolled with some more familiar faces and the leaders of the ss race. The road turned to dirt with a left turn and we went up on some rolling climbs. This is the road we would finish the race on in a few hours I'd later realize.
At Aid 3 I stopped for a minute to refuel. When I rolled around the gate and stopped in front of the aid table I felt like a nascar driver pitting. Straddling my bike I was asked if I'd like lube? Sure, I hoped off, a guy took my bike and cleaned the chain and rings with a rag and placed a fresh thin coat of oil on the chain. I watched and drank two bottles and refilled my camel back. Left Aid 3 with a huge smile having felt the love of the support crew from SM100.
Heading up to a section called Braley Pond. This would be some of the best rolling trail that I'd ever ridden, but riders had to earn the privilege first by peddling (what felt like an hour and a half up) to the summit. I wish I had a helmet camera to share this section of Braley's. I don't have a computer on my bike, so no idea as to the speed obtained on this ripping singletrack, but felt close to 40 mph. Momentum and gravity pulling you along and the only thing slowing you down is the pain in your fingers as you try to hold your line in the corners.
Shortly before Aid 4 I was passed by Rich Labombard as I careened into a tree. I managed to slow just before making contact with the small pine. Luckily that would be my only crash of the day.
Entered Aid 4 with Rich. We both received first class treatment once again. I caught a glimpse of Thom P rolling in as we rolled away, I knew it wouldn't be long before that guy would be passing me. Now on the section that Kerry and Harlan warned was brutal...the 17 mile climb up to aid 5 and the summit of Shenandoah Mountain.
Perfect timing meeting with Rich. We spun on the false flat gravel roads big ring'in it. Staying away from Thom p for as long as we could. Done with the miles of false flats, we turn hard right up the mountain. No more big ring, I stand while mashing the middle. Trying to use the biggest gear I could push.
Aid 5 was again what I now expected..."can I lube your bike sir?" "Sure, I'll be over here relaxing for a minute." They had pizza at aid 5 for those who could stomach it. Was a great idea for those that were going to be hitting this spot hungry at supper time. I settled for pb+j and a half a banana and 4 dixey's of coke. Man, that coke hit the spot! The sugar and caffeine had my legs pumping like pistons over the long ridge summit of Shenandoah.
The trail finally pitched down and the single track was gnarly. I had to pull over for a minute as my head was swimming...wish I had more coke...or was this the after effects of the sugar and caffeine cocktail? Took a sec. to regroup and unwrapped a pb+j I had stowed in my jersey pocket. Ate it in one bite and screwed chewing.
Wham! Flat front tire! Damn! Adrenaline pumped through my brain as I repaired the puncture on the side of the mountain trail. Harvey Minton sped by and we spoke for the first time in the race. Shortly after Thom appeared on the down hill. He stopped and helped with my flat front as I handed him a spare C02 cartrige. He was gone after the brief encounter and I inflated my repaired wheel and set out to catch the now second place SS'er Thom Parsons.
The backside of Shenandoah lasted for miles and was awesome. I'd go back tomorrow just to ride this mountain again.
The remainder of the race was rolling double track and then it was over! 9 hours and 11 minutes for 32nd place. One bad-ass race with some bad-ass racers. Thanks Chris Scott and everyone involved. See you next year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Heading to Harrisonburg

I'd never been to Harrisonburg Virginia, but I'm going back first chance I get. There's a different breed of cyclists down there, crazier than I've EVER seen...and I like crazy. Large contingent of singlespeeders in the race 10 of them were racing fixed gear! I am a geared rider but have huge respect for SS'er (and of coarse Everyone out there). I partially credit mother nature in forming the athletes native to Virginia. Those guys and girls are truly blessed with some kick ass terrain...lots of climbing and a ton of fast descents.
We left Boston for Virginia on Friday. Skip Brown piloted the Seven Cycles van 600 miles down Rt. 81 while 5 of us (Kerry Combs, Lloyd Graves, Thom Parsons, Rich Labombard) ate and gabbed, and ate more and enjoyed the first class comfort of the van. I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting Rich and Lloyd before this excursion but feel the bunch of us are friends after spending time rolling down the interstate. Looking on my internet phone periodically I was disturbed to see hurricane Ernesto sitting over Virginia in no hurry to move north.
We hit the wall of the storm Friday night entering Harrisonburg. It was dark, wet and stormy. We stopped for a bite at Luigi's for some incredibly tasty pizza. Lloyd and I went conservative and split a simple Zorba while Rich and Skip went to town on a 14 topping combo...Those boys weren't fooling around. We rolled on the final few miles to the campground where we would hurriedly set up camp in the pouring rain and sleep in flowing rivers of pooling water in our tents. As Thom said, "it wasn't bad, like being in a wet suit...once I warmed up the water in my sleeping bag it kept me warm all night".
Disaster almost struck as I guided Skip backing the van in the camp ground. I learned that even small branches should be avoided as one nearly ripped my bike off the roof..It did break the rack but the bike was spared. Who better than Lloyd Graves to assess the damage. No visible cracks in the Igleheart frame or fox shock, although this incident was fresh in my mind hours later as I roared down Shenandoah Mountain hoping my rig would stay glued together.
Saturday morning was clear and beautiful. After breakfast the six of us mounted up and hit the Cookie Trail for a couple hours of preride. Thom showed us <-- he could remove rocks from his shoe without stopping. Preriding portions of the course was invaluable having never ridden this race. We warmed up on a gravel road for a few miles and heard a couple blasting gun shots and barking hunting dogs at work in the woods. As we were passed by a truck on the road I noticed that the two hunters inside were using a radio homing device to locate their hounds. Had no idea that Hunting had such technology.
Hanging at camp Saturday afternoon this little guy kept us entertained as he perfected his skills on the waterbar jumps. I tracked down his father to tell him that his son is going to be a daredevil mountain-biker in a few years.
That night while we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner and Old Dominion Beer I was reacquainted with an old friend from Allspeed bike shop. Mr. Jeff Herrick and I shared a few stories about riding out'a Gary Bush's shop with Daren Mourneau and the boys. Great times from back in the days of early epics for me and everyone involved.
After we carbo loaded on beer and pasta Kerry and Harlan shared their advice on the race while we looked at the race map, Thom and I carefully listened. This would prove to be the single most beneficial ten minute conversation all weekend. Kerry and Harlan knew the race like their own back yard (hell I think it is Harlan's). This course run down along with the preride earlier was what my nervous mind needed to settle down for the night and grab some ZZZ's up at camp. Wrapped in my sleepingbag a couple hours later, their advice on sections of numerous long climbs, descents and stretching fireroads sunk in and I had the course layed out in my dreams.
Wide eyed and hungry for an all day epic we rose at 5:00 am from our toasty cocoons. Eating oatmeal and sipping on strong coffee that Lloyd had brewed.

It was go time.

I like to tell my self that it's not a race..instead, we get to ride all day.

gatto go, more on the race later.