Friday, September 28, 2007

A favorite race this weekend

This weekend I'll be visiting an old friend that I haven't seen in four years. This is the friend that spawned my obsession with pain and discomfort many years ago. Forced me recognize the importance of nutrition and was the impetus to train in order to overcome leg cramps and endless climbs. This friend.. VT50. Looking forward to it, bittersweet because it's the final mountain bike race for me this year. I am a lucky guy indeed. It's going to be a memorable reunion I hope.
On the Igleheart news front: There's a great Boston Globe article about Christopher, his passion for providing two wheeled vehicles to the world, hand made, one at a time. Don't know why the scowl on my face...maybe cause I had a flat? Can't remember...And yes, we called each other before this ride to be sure we were color coordinated.

Per a phone conversation with curious George earlier today I was reminded that I've been neglecting my blog audience, sorry. As for the kitchen project.. almost wrapped up. Maybe by Thanksgiving we'll be truly done. The punch list is dwindling but lingering none the less. Here's a before and after of what Lesli and I have been doing at home.

Hard to believe that it's the same room, or that we didn't do it sooner.
Gus helped too, and boy he's tired.
And this was just dropped off by the mail man...
In our hasty departure from the Great Glen 24 hour race we didn't have the opportunity to stand on the podium next to our worthy opponents. Mary has sent on the medal and trophy. Thank you. Funny, this is the second reminder of that race this week. Wednesday I was teamed up with Jon Bernhard for "Madison" drills at ECV 'cross practice. Jon was a driving force on the MTB Mind team that we battled with for 24 hours. We both laughed, now on the same team for a short time Wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Double Hoo'na and 29'er Review

The air was crisp, clear and a bit chilly but I didn't go for the tights quite yet. I did opt for the long sleeves and glad to have them. Sunday's high temp for Boston was in the low sixties. The best of riding conditions in my opinion. Rain on Saturday flattened out the trails and dust was at a minimum. Glen Cook, Jon Stanwood and myself rode from the hood to Gordon and points north on a modified double K that would take us 6+ hours to complete. Two Planned Sags along our route where I stashed a gallon of water and fruit the previous night.

Whoops, next time I'll put the bananas in an animal-proof box and not just tie them to a tree in a plastic shopping bag!

Multiple choice; choose the best answer...
(a) Glen helping John place his bike on the other side of the guard rail
(b) two riders having a closer look at the rear wheel
(c) Glenn using the guard rail to bend back John's big ring!

The view from atop Red Rock, visibility was ~30 miles

Now for a quick review on my Igleheart 29'er Single Speed.

I can now write an informative review on my new ride now that I've had some longer rides on my new Favorite bike. I've started to sell off my 26 inch components and am hooked on the 29 inch wheels. This thing rocks on the rocks! The larger wheels fill in gaps that 26 inch wheels get stuck in...bottom line is that 29'ers run smoother over the rough and seem more stable.

A slightly longer wheelbase aids in out of the saddle climbing and high speed descents. My Igleheart 29'er likes to attack rocky climbs and loose conditions and really digs in. As a new comer to one gear riding I can tell you that attacking climbs is a big part of the ss riding style, especially where I live. Small technical ascents and rocky descents is what we've got here on the north shore of Boston...and glad to have 'em. I notice a huge improvement on traction in general while standing on climbs. The bigger wheel up front allows for better descending characteristics and although the Reba that I've chosen only provides 3 inches of travel up front this bike handles downhills with ease.

With a downside to everything, a 29 inch wheel is most likely weaker than a 26 inch wheel and more susceptible to warping. For this reason I don't think that many 29'er down hill bikes will be roaring down the face of whistler any time soon but you never know.

Another trait I've noticed is directly due to the lower top tube of the frame on this bike. Not only does it's position provide for better clearance but makes for a stiffer bike laterally. This is important because (from my own brief experience) SS riding involves more lateral torque on the frame as you twist, pull and stomp the pedals to the top of climbs.

I am having a absurdly large time with this new bike and can't wait for another ride. Thanks again to Christopher Igleheart. You done good!

I stashed sag #2 under a pile of rocks in B+T's...provided a safe haven for vital replenishment :)

Missouri was friendly to my neighbors

The tour of Missouri was kind to Jesse and Tim
but more like the tour of Misery for Huff

Brad Huffs bike (Slipstream-Chipotle) was determined to get to the finish line with or without him
Tim Johnson (Healthnet) comes to the front to help bring back the break
Jesse Anthony Kodak/Sierra Nevada comes to help teammate Dominic Rollin with the 3rd place

Fourth placed overall Dominque Rollin (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) and third placed David Cañada (Saunier Duval-Prodir) only one second ahead. After Rollin won the first intermediate sprint just ahead of Cañada, it was down to the finish sprint. "With one kilometre to go I had two team-mates left with me and I jumped at a good moment," said Rollin. "They did an amazing job to keep me up there. Jesse [Anthony] dropped me off with 300 metres to go and it may have been a little too soon but it worked out perfect. I am happy with my accomplishment here."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shenandoah Mountain 100

Get Pumped!

I was stoked to be on a single gear for this years Shenandoah 100. More out of curiosity and to try something new. The opportunity came last week when vicious cycles finished up the paint job on my Igleheart 29 Single Speed..."send it overnight!" Which they did and my frame arrived Wednesday morning and was built Wednesday evening at the Shop.
I woke early the following morning and threw my leg over the top tube for the first time and tore around my local trails for an hour. Instantly noticed the improved traction of the over sized 29x2.25 tires and the gear felt right at 32x18...but what the hell did I know about that.. having never been stuck in one gear. I looked forward to riding all day on this new ride with no ambition of a podium finish, it just kinda happened :)

Go Hard in the front yard Ramponi!
Jeff and I were camped with some fellow Bostonians, Karen Potter, Jeff Gilman, IF's Lloyd Graves, and Mike Ramponi. Here's Ramponi and his vintage 1988 "top banana" jersey. Quite a statement about cycling as the fountain of youth, the jersey still fits after all these years. This long time ss'er has been "hard in the front yard!" for the better part of 20 years and still rockin. Mike turned in a 6th place in SS this year at SM100. Floyd was a class act, hanging around for hours post race, enjoying conversation with fellow mtb'ers and drinking his share of old dominion Sunday night. Swamper and Buck tried to feed him some good'ol West Virginia whiskey after we kicked many kegs. Landis sipped from the shot glass but turned down his rock star opportunity.
There's a great story on Cycling news of how the race unfolded and how Harlan Price and Jeff Schalk took on Floyd Landis, and about Sue Haywood totally destroyed her course record.

This is a picture from last years Shenandoah Mountain 100 but the weather was identical this time around. Early morning start and the sun rose just in time to don my shades for an all day spin. I stood on the line with Jeff Whittingham but as soon as Chris Scott bid 475 riders farewell that was the last I saw of Jeff. The pack swallowed me like a whale shark swallows a million plankton. Perfectly ok tho. I was there to ride all day and forget about the race as I spun 180 rpm for the first five or six miles. Geared riders were off the front and I was now surrounded by some SS guys I'd yo-yo with for the next eight and a half hours. Topher Valenti, Rich Dillon, Tim Dougherty , Jason Morgan, and Benji Klimas.
I was constantly looking around for Ramponi and Buck Keich hoping to ride a portion of the race with those dudes. Buck later told me that he was slowed with a flat while negotiating a large puddle on the first fire road. As for Mike and I actually heard him from high above on the Lynn Trail switchback shouting "I get to ride my bike all day".
The climb to Brailey's I remembered all too well from last year. I was fairly comfortable on the ascent, and sat aboard eating oatmeal cookies that my wife Lesli had made. I stuffed my jersey pockets full of these tasty cookies, no wrappers to drop or fidget with and no chocolate in the cookies to melt. My fueling plan now in full effect and I was hoping it would last till aid 4 where I could refuel.
The single track descent off Braily's was my favorite part again this year. Fast was not a problem, let go of the brakes, pick a good line and don't take too many risks on the tight off-chamber single track. Throw down a turbo pedal blast every now and then. The fat tires and plush Reba fork were soaking it all in. I loved how silent the SS was. No chain slap or gears to crunch or mis-shift.(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bruck)
Aid 4 I asked the attending mechanic to tighten my pedals two clicks each as I rapidly ate 11 orange slices machine gun style. I changed up bottles and had a cpl Advil and was back aboard for the long road stretch which would have totally sucked without help.
The road stretch ends with a right turn, over the river and up to a mile & 1/2 hike-a-bike that I mostly walked. I heard someone riding behind and got out of the way...Topher laying down the power. Good ride man! as he passed. This was my low point last year but this year I seemed to be hanging tough...must be the oatmeal cookies.
About twenty minutes before hitting the climb to Shenandoah Mountain I was alone on a false flat gravel road spinning my brains out and looking up the road at a group of 5 or 6 riders. As I closed in I could identify the unmistakable turbo pedaling traits of four SS guys. At this point I still didn't realize that Tim Dougherty had mechanical trouble with his rig and was forced out of the race..but instead thought he was tearing up the race and had escaped all of us. I could see from my vantage Topher was being reeled in by Rich, Benji and Jason and I was closing in just as fast. We soon grouped along with two geared riders and rolled together in a pod three across on the gravel road that seemed to mostly dip down to Shenandoah.
This was the coolest part of the race. Everybody was resting, conserving for what was coming. Friendly conversation in the air. It was clearly the calm before the storm and we all knew it.
The right turn up Shen, Jason took off, me next. Not looking back till getting to aid 5 near the top. Dicky came by and matched Jason's level of intensity. I was still in conservation mode, pedaling while seated, laying down power but remembering the length of this cigar shaped mountain must be in the neighborhood of ten miles and figured I'd reel Rich in somewhere in between. Simply not the case. Those guys held in there for the next hour placing 1st and second. I was stoked to grab third in the single speed race. Maybe the most fun I've ever had in a race. Later I'd realize that I beat my last year's time by 21 minutes placing 27th over all. sweet. Now that 12 hour drive from New England was worth it.
craziest guy out there (on a fixed gear) Tomi McMillar
turned in a 9th in SS
Eatough and Price #1 and #2 respectively in the NUE Series
Fast women of Shenandoah

Fast men of Shenandoah