Monday, October 29, 2007

we over-paid Saturday, got change.

3 riders is the way to roll when you want to keep away from unnecessary stopping for anything but taking in the view. We covered dirt roads that rolled like ribbon candy and climbed switchbacks that were layed out by a maestro.
Nature's sag. mother prepared syrup.
"that's where you guys were yesterday when it was pouring and visibility was 100 feet".
These cows didn't mind the first snow squall of the year. We enjoyed it too. simplicity is a beautiful thing.Comfort brought to you by YKK zippers. Never have I used a zipper so many times in one ride. I thought it might melt into a ribbon of plastic by the days end.

Dreadful wind and rain

Meet my partner in adventure, Roger.
If you can't tell through the rain drops and fogged camera lens that's a smile on Roger's face. He's smiling because we're on top of Brandon Gap with two gaps to go. When a ride is planned weeks in advance the weather is a big variable, but that's why we own rain gear! One thought in my mind while sitting atop Brandon Gap were; 1 gap down, two to go. But found my thoughts wandering from the task at hand and began thinking about the warm radiant heat of Jeff's wood burning stove, along with thoughts of Jeff's comfortable couch and wide screen tv back in Waitsfield.Fenders rock.
We flew down the paved back side of Brandon gap to a quite forest road. Once on the rolling gravel we spun side by side eating and talking for an hour before our next challenge, Lincoln gap. A 20-24% grade with 1843 vertical feet of rise in 12.1 miles. Perfect venue to test out a volcano-worthy gear ratio, and it was indeed a worthy gear.
I was familiar with the climb from two previous visits here earlier in the year. One ended in a emergency room visit to sew up a friend's hip. Undoubtedly I'd be heeding on the side of caution on the decent but need to get to the top before worrying about the descent.
Here we go! The climb was on, passed the snow-cat and the end of pavement. Zippers wide open in the cold pouring rain, pink skin getting pinker, rain pouring harder, steam now pouring out of me creating my own localized weather system to keep me comfortable. Hammering the climb while trickle charging a cache of deep storage for the arrow-straight final 1 mile, 24% pitch of pain and pavement to the summit. No pictures from atop Lincoln as the skies were pelting Roger and I with a torrential soaking. We stayed for a moment on the summit, ate a cliff bar and then batten down all available hatches to cut through the wind like cruise missiles programed on a heading to Rt 100.
We made a brief stop at a truck stop/gas station two miles from the start of our next challenge, Appalachian Gap. Hot chili and coffee never tasted so good. People entering the restaurant shook their heads and looked at us with a puzzled crooked stare as our saturated clothing deposited gallons of water, forming big puddles at our feet. I asked the attendant for a mop I felt so bad about our mess. The guy was super cool, saying "mopping will give me something to do when you leave".
Roger and I could have bailed out of App Gap at this point. Jeff's house a few miles to our right, Summit of Appalachian Gap 10 miles to our left. We made the right choice and climbed the gap, which turned out to be my favorite of the day. The rain subsided for the climb and we were rewarded with views of the red and yellow dotted ridges from 1777 feet above. On the summit the rain was coming at us sideways. A woman approached us and rolled down the fogged window of her Saab '93, defroster on high and windshield wipers splashing water on my legs. "are you guys alright?" Roger's reply.."why, do we not look alright?" She seemed offended at Roger's reply as a scowl came over her face. I thanked her for her concern and she drove on her way. Roger and I got a laugh at the expense of our good Samaritan.
Jeff had to bow out of our soaking gaps adventure on Saturday to do some dad stuff with Seneca, reading books, playing hide and seek, and some general QT with the cutie. He cooked us a protein-rich stew post ride which served for a perfect recovery meal and we watched the Red Sox in the World Series on that big screen tv from the warm and dry living room that had motivated us for 5 hours.
Sunday the three of us got out in perfect conditions as Jeff led us on a day's worth of dirt road gaps and a secret stash of back country single track.

Friday, October 26, 2007

with a little help from my friends...

Didn't the Beatles have a song that went something like that?
This WAS plan A, my geared 26 Igleheart outfitted with some custom fenders for a back to back gaps attack. Even the best plans go to waste and the bicycle destroyer strikes again! - the way I should title this post. Another title to this post could be "switch to plan B".
After spending some hours prepping my geared 26'er for a wet trip to hill country, other wise known as Whittingham's turf in northern VT, plans to take the geared 26 are in the circular file. Hours of tweaking on my geared bike were all for nothing...or almost nothing. The geared bike is officially out of commission and I'm afraid it's structural and you guessed it...the bike destroyer strikes again.. I dented the top tube on THAT bike months ago with a wipe out at Hampshire 100k so bad that a crack developed and now grew to a couple inches and upon inspection last night that bike is unride-able. If I took it up north it would surely break on top of App or Lincoln..or worse, break while descending down App or Lincoln..

Christopher cleared out his schedule this morning and was going to perform an emergency tube-ectomy to save the ride. But that would have been plan C. Currently I'm simultaneously creating plan B and switching to a plan B at the same time.

Plan B involves my single speed 29'er and a front derailleur, a chain tensioner and some honk'in fenders. It's going to pour all weekend so Bill set me up with the perfect pair of mud flaps. The front derailleur will help me keep up with Roger and Jeff on fast rolling roads. The freak dual speed is born, well almost born..will be born, with a little help from my friends at Western Cycle, KC and Igleheart. Kerry loaned me just the right freewheel for the weekend, and I hope it to be the correct gear for La Ruta. Many thanks to Christopher for quickly fabricating the sliding rear hangar this morning and thanks to Kerry for the White clicker. you rock. Pictures of the freak dual speed next week.

Words of wisdom from vet racer Kerry Combs, told to her from Lloyd Graves many years ago..
(about staying on the bike on tough climbs) - "The rubb'a on yur wheels is faster then the rubb'a on yur Heels!" I think that will come in handy this weekend.

-Peace out

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

fun with science

I held out a small amount of hope that dry ice was going to be a clean and quick way of magically pulling a dent out of my beautiful steel Igleheart frame. The instructions we found said 'best results attempt on a sunny day' we heated the toptube with a hairdryer, then applied the dry ice.
We also mis-used a can of dust-off,...(no we didn't huff it) in the upside down position to freeze the area around the dent. We repeated the process a few times hoping to see the dent pop back straight. I starred at it so long that I thought I saw it move.. and was ready to be startled as the ding snapped back into alignment...but that didn't happen. This trick may work on thin sheet metal but unfortunately didn't work on Columbus Life tubing.
So we resorted to playing with the extra dry ice and had a couple beers.
And filling Kerry's kitchen with Carbon Dioxide

Monday, October 22, 2007

one dent, one dislocation, a few PBR's

I hopped on my bike this morning and was quickly reminded of an on-trail mishap from Saturday. Ouch. A small section on the Red Dot trail from here on out will be known as "top tube alley". My bruised undercarrige will fade in a couple of days...the dent in my bike however will not. Glenn quickly reminded me his nickname for me is "the bike destroyer".
I had been out riding since 10am and eaten all the food in my pockets, almost out of water, and was heading home when I passed Jess and Tal on their way meet Glenn and his friend Dave for a spin through red dot and Gordon. Sure why not. I've only been out for 6 hours..what's a couple more.
We were moving through red dot quickly, staying together pretty well. It's a technical single track with small can get pretty beat up if your thinking about something other than riding. Well..maybe I was thinking about the choirs I should be doing at home when both feet popped out of the peds on a slippery rocky down hill section. Ended up riding it out on my top tube. Applied some brake, took hold of the reigns and got back in control. "Whew that was fun". With Tal right behind he saw me flailing around like I was riding a bull. Funny till I noticed that I had come down on my top tube so hard my freekin pelvic bone put a sizable dent in my shiny new bike? Sort of crazy. My bruise will heal..the bike..probably not. I should look into a tool to roll dents out.
Shortly after my tt ride, Dave (who is a doctor) dislocated his ankle while falling backwards off his bike. Jess witnessed the injury and the unnatural position of Dave's foot. Thankfully Dave was ok after the shock of popping his foot back into the correct place...I didn't feel so bad about my little dent. Dave made it out safe, ice and a prescription of PBR while playing flip it was the therapy. Good going Dr Dave.

Just found this about using dry ice to pull out dents on just need some dry ice. I'll let you know how it goes.

Remove Car Dents With A Dry Ice Block - video powered by Metacafe

Turns out it was my Ischial Tuberosity (#3 on the photo) that made contact.
I'll take the dent over breaking that part of my body...doesnt look like an easy fix.
Tomorrow I'll try the dry ice trick on the dent...

Friday, October 19, 2007

pain or more pain?...more pain please.

Ever so firmly I sit perched on the fence of indecisiveness, dramatically wavering from one side to the other. On one side we have gears, and for a moment that sounds like a great idea. That (in theory) allow swift and smooth ascents possible, expediting movement across flat sections, (not that there are very many flat sections in Costa Rica)...Foolishly I'm prematurely thinking about the final and cruel 25k of rail bed I guess and how I'd wish for a swift end at that point. Can't put the cart before the horse here Andy.
Gears will undoubtedly complicate matters while also making the race more bearable and some climbs possible where a single gear is useless at times. But do gears make me faster? is the real question. I switched over to a single gear a couple months ago and the simplicity actually made me faster on climbs but I've never been faced with a 10 or 20 mile hill climb before...Roger and I need to go to Mt Washington and see if the Auto road is passable via 32x20. Do they allow bikes on the auto road to train? prolly not...hmmm I wonder. Harvey would know that...
The simple question is can my knees take the abuse of four days and 30,000 ft of climbing on a single gear or should I sign up for a double knee replacement surgery now.
I certainly don't want the aggravation of skipping, crunching, unneeded stress and maintenance post race that gears will bring to the equation. Costa Rica mud = non fuctional gears. Hell, Tim Dougherty tore that race apart last year, and Dicky keeps coming back for another helping of abuse. I think I heard Topher is going south to Costa Rica again this November...and from what I've read he hasn't had a double knee replacement yet, now I wonder if he's riding a rigid fork again this time?. Doug's is going down with his SS. My friend and fellow Bostonian Tom is feeling the same way I am...or I was.
OK. Single speed it is. The fence has been removed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Atypical Wednesday

4:55pm on Wednesday and the sun is threatening to duck out of sight. Just one more quick stop at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter and I can get suited up and ready to roll. 5:05pm and I race to the bowels of terminal B to dress in what I'm hoping is a couple of dry layers that I hung hours such luck. Still wet, bummer. Hope no one gets close enough to detect that I have a slight aroma kick'in.
Now time to escape. I stand my road bike on it's rear wheel and manipulate the bike around office furniture and out into the hall. Now feeling exposed in the hall wearing my nija kit. I try to make a quick get-away down to the first of two security doors. My rear hub clicking gives me away. The five people in the inflight office see me roll by and come into the hall to check out freak boy in his spandex suit. I hate that, but love it at the same time...but mostly hate it.
We say a quick goodbye and I turn to swipe my card and lay my fingerprint down on the sensor. The door clicks, green light, I roll. Under the bag belts and snake through the bag room trying not to get run over by a rampy in a tug. I punch the keys at the final door and I'm thru to the public side. Just one more encounter with two girls in the baggage office as I take a sec to secure my ID in my jersey pocket and glide to the lobby and out the double doors to the cool autumn air.
5:15pm, I'm free. In a low gear, I give a couple of kicks past Terminal C. Feeling good, ready to race the available sunlight for an hour to the north shore. Oh helmet! is back in my office!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I took the long way to work yesterday morning, poking around the cobblestone streets and brownstone neighborhoods of East Boston near the Mystic river. The gravity of Boston's cityscape sprouting from the ocean pulled me here so I took it's picture with my low quality camera phone. Under the Tobin Bridge, looking up to the massive structure as rusty flakes floated down like snow as traffic buzzed on two decks and six lanes within. And then the oddest sight.. looking to my right, upriver at a park I didn't know existed under the Tobin Bridge. A cobblestone way lined with Federalist granite and brick structures dotting the Charles river from the age of George Washington and Sam Adams.

And this tree, absolutely the oldest I've ever seen. Like a monstrous three armed serpent muscling it's way through the earth has got to be older than the bridge that stands above it. Oh well, enough history. Got to get to work.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Opportunity knocks but once

Someone has got to open the door...I did, and behind it I find my friend Roger Mercaldi with an offer I could not let slip away,

Dear Racer-Companion / Estimado Corredor-AcompaƱante:

- You are officially in LA RUTA 2007, thanks for join us for the adventure of a life time. If you have any questions feel free in asking.
- Usted esta inscrito oficialmente en LA RUTA 2007, gracias por unirse a nosotros en la aventura de su vida. Si tiene alguna pregunta, no dude en realizarla.
This is the year of La Ruta de los Conquistadores for me. This was an easier decision knowing I'd have four trusted friends to share the slog and suffering. There's plenty of red mud and volcano ascending to go around! Reenie + Thom Greene, Harry Precourt and Roger Mercaldi (among many other familiar faces). I can't tell if it's nervousness, fear or excitement that's making me shake in my chair right now, could be an abundance of caffeine...Decisions need to be nailed down about equipment choice, gears or no gears? I am leaning to my Single Speed but will ready the geared bike in case my common sense gets the better of me. Holy Cow! I'm going to Costa Rica!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I live here, I ride here, so do the rest of these people..but it takes a Kahuna ride to bring out everybody simultaneously.
Prerequisites for the annual Kahuna ride;
Large hang-over...check
lots of riders,
seventy seven to be exact...check
heavy, fully suspended bicycle...check
lots of sugary snacks for fuel...check

6.5 hours of technical trails...check
well then, let's ride!
Brad and Thom P got the tough guy award for their equipment choices.
Thom being a die-hard SS rider and Brad went 'hard in the front yard on his 29'er.
George was good enough to loan me his Wraith for Kahuna '07.
An exceptional machine for rough terrain and drop offs. Constructed of all steel, slack head angle, single pivot design with a unified rear triangle. Game on!
With it's stout steel frame the Wraith proved to be an efficient pedal'er and allot of fun, fully able to ride out of many precarious situations (ie, it saved my ass a few times).
Jeff and Ken also enjoyed the day aboard a Wraith.
Jeff was very stylish with his color coordinated black diamond rig.In short, the kahuna is the anti-race.
fun with friends
go full throttle
stop and share stories
and chug grape soda
I wonder if the north shore of Boston is known in the bike industry as a hot bed of destruction and a frame company's worst nightmare.

pool is open

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Vermont 50, a pivotal 3 miles

This is one of the most beautiful races in New England, if not the entire country. Numerous times during this difficult ride racers are rewarded with 360 degree views of Vermont's hilly panorama. Rising above it all, lush gentle green whale backs surface through wispy white fluff. Fog burning off as rays of sun sear the morning haze while dull gray blue horizon grows to a deep Sapphire as the day is born. Drink it in and feel the reward of a fucking spectacular day. The last time I got into this race (2003 or 04) it rained all day. It doesn't get better than this year my friends, commence mother nature.

Photo credit, Ride Junkie!

I am peering off into the distance as I crest the highest point in the race at mile 22. I take a lone second to soak it in for a fleeting moment and store in an earmarked folder in my noggin, I have no camera aboard to capture this view. As I look to where the fence once stood the hurdle is no longer. I enjoyed hopping the fence in years past, then smelling the eggs cooking at aid 4, hearing Jimmy Buffet tunes and gorging on food. No fence, and no Buffet singing this year. Silent supporters starred motionless. I don't think they were fully awake yet, it seems that we were among some of the first 600 people to roll thru. Thom Parson's silhouette is climbing aboard his two wheeled rocket and dives down the slope. I am filling my bottles and stripping a layer as Thom rolls out of sight. It's for the best. I need to race my own pace. He is a climbing machine and my strength lies with a different stride.
I whisk past my good friend Jeff Whittingham, he is crouched in the high ferns shooting pictures with a DSLR and he yells, "3rd SS, 20 seconds!" That's the lead Thom has on me, and I know Brian Lyster has a couple minute lead on Thom, and his lead will grow, as will Thom's. I am satisfied with what I've got, "now just keep it together Andy" I tell myself. "Hold it fast, fight, get pissed." Twenty five formidable miles to go. Tear it up!
And that's pretty much as it went. Good hard earned memories and a few cold beers for desert.
Results here. Timing is screwed up and somehow put Thom in 136th place...he should be 6th overall, 2nd Single Speed. I grabbed 12th overall, 3rd SS'er at 4:47.
Thanks for the good times everyone that put this one on. Big Thanks to Jeff Whittingham for the support and photos, Race director Mike Silverman, Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, and all the people at the many aid stations.
Update, scroll to the bottom..they also have me as a DNF #361. Maybe I had an out of body experience?

Greg, Me and Thom after dirt? We look as clean as roadies after 50 miles of Vermont roads and single track!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bolton Bill

Bill sent along some pictures of his weekend at Bolton Valley.
I liked this one the best, I call it Bolton Bus Bill meets Saturday Night Fever.
Stayin alive, staying alive...

Here is a short video clip
don't worry the second guy is OK
looks worse than it seems?? (says Bill)
Oh, now I remember why I got AWAY from freeriding
Thanks for passing along William.

---Point the arrow --->

The following post is directed to the many cycling junkies out there that suffer with stabbing lower back pain DURING long races and adhesions the size of concord grapes in the shoulder area RESULTING from hours in a crunched position on the saddle.
I was given some very effective advice from Betty. Now that the MTB season is almost over I'll share this info with my competition :) (I mean my friends) This advice is not so much about pain relief but pain avoidance. I call it "point the arrow".
The longer the race, the more time spent in the pain box. I have made the mistake in longer races by hurting myself with bad race posture. Crunched into a ball after hours of climbing, curving my spine, Abdomen & obliques tightened, clenching the bars with knuckles glowing white, gritting teeth, squeezing facial muscles, squinting eyes...(sounds like fun huh MOM?)
Point the arrow is simple but I didn't quite figure it out untill Betty explained it in a very simple I'll share her advice and it might help you too.
When standing against a wall with eyes pointed straight in front of you, take your hand and touch the very top of your head. This is the point of your arrow.
Back to your bike...It's hour five of a 100 mile race, you are suffering half way up on a huge slope. Instead of crunching into a ball and tightening up --point the arrow-->...turn your pelvis, lengthen and straighten your back. Imagine that you must break into the earth's atmosphere with just one point of your body and this is the very top of your head. NOT down low but at a comfortable upright postion. crazy talk? Try it.
Pelvis--back--neck--head--> aligned. Now point the arrow. Don't bend your neck but look with your eyes. Head in line, stomach muscles now release because you are lengthening your spine and straightening not crouched over. Blood flow improves to your core, breathing greatly improves, overall stress level dramatically drops, release facial muscles, now the hands...bend the elbows and release pressure from the palms.
Fun level returns. Pain subsides. Drop the hammer.
VT50 report to come... yes I did allot of arrow pointing.

OK, enough about bike pain, how bout some bike hotties from interbike '07???