Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

Bleah. Winter's coming. The cold weather is here, and today's dusting is a precursor to snowy days to come. Bah Humbug. I guess it's time for my favorite winter past-time; complaining. I've taken whining to a higher level, so if you're new to bitching and complaining, I don't mean to overwhelm you. You see, despite living in the northern latitudes for most of my life, I've never developed an affinity for any winter sports. Everything I like to do is a "warm weather" pursuit, although, admittedly, biking and running can be done year 'round. I just hate the cold weather, and snow certainly adds another element, literally, to the deal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dollars, Donuts, and Derailleurs...

http://www.russcam.com/
Ah, the Ice Weasels... I wish more races had the vibe and atmosphere found here in Wrentham. Rowdy crowds, irreverent announcing, crazy barrier prizes, beer hand-ups, and an overall party flavor. New, this year, was mild temperatures, a dry course, and a fly-over.

Similar to last year, at least for me, was a mechanical issue with my bike. Unfortunately, the Fickle Pickle of Fate was not on my side this time around. You see, last year, my pedal broke right in front of the pit area--I had to run about two steps to get my other bike. I was not so lucky this time around.

I had a decent start, felt good, had some gas in the tank, and was optimistic about the race. On my first pass over the barriers, my chain fell off, DESPITE a chain keeper. I ran a little farther to get out of the way to get the chain back on, but, the chain keeper, which should have kept the chain from falling off in the first place was preventing me from sliding it back on. Oh, and a quick look at the back of bike revealed that the chain had already lodged itself securely between the rear cassette and the spokes, and the derailleur was up at an odd angle. My assessment was that the bike was out of commission and I was far away from the pit. So, I started running, all the while riders were passing me until there were no more riders to pass me. I still kept running, er, jogging, um, okay, finally walking. It was a long walk. I got to the pit, switched bikes and headed out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lynn Woods

I haven't been to Lynn Woods in a long time. That used to be my default mountain biking or trail running spot. I guess I got bored of the chewed up trails, who knows. Lately, I've been thinking about heading back for some miles. I was just there the other day, but not running, not biking, just heading out for a hike with Jean and the mutts. The renovated stone tower is great, and the trails are calling me back...

See more pics here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where did I put my giant foam finger?

Okay, so I went to a basketball game last week, and the whole scene, from top to bottom just seems absolutely ridiculous to me.

First off, cheerleaders, or, okay, "dancers," ... really? Is that supposed to invoke something in me other than cynicism? Don't get me wrong, I love scantily clad women, but a team of them jumping around on the middle of a basketball court flanked by camera crews, ball boys, and a guy on stilts with giant foam hands, just makes me think the whole idea is stuck in a tacky 80's cheese-fest.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cyclocross Racing!

Sure, if you've been a devoted follower of this site, and I know you are, you might be thinking that not much has been going on. But that would be woefully incorrect. Plenty has been going on, including some seriously sub-par racing on my part. As prolific blog-viator (yeah, I just made that word up by marrying blog and bloviate... does it work?), I've got lots of blogs to attend to. Most of my racing rants and whining is posted on the Racer-X site, so here are a couple of links to let you know that yes, things HAVE been exciting!
I think that's all that's been missing. Now, don't you feel better?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bikes, Beer, and Bavaria

Men and women don’t always want the same things in a vacation. Women seem to like romantic European towns, quaint villages, and quiet restaurants. Most men would be happy with a vacation that revolved around bikes and beer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Texas.

Obligatory Photo
So, I just flew back from Texas, and boy, are my arms tired. Ha, that joke never gets old, does it? Yeah, I know. "Loser." I'm okay with that. I did just get back from Texas though, and I have a few observations and opinions I'd like to share.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Days off...

Yeah, I'm off today, and I'm getting caught up on "stuff." You know, dropping the car off for service, picking up some groceries at Trader Joe's, returning some e-mails, making some calls, and, of course, blogging, tweeting and drinking coffee. Mmmmmm... coffee.

One place that I spend LOTS of time in while I'm off is down in the "workshop." I seem to spend lots of time tweaking bikes... changing handlebars, making bikes singlespeed, making them geared, sometimes just rotating the tires... For me, working on bikes is a great way to relax. I'm not worried about medication interactions, kidney failure, heart failure, arrhythmias, nocosomial infections (nothing worse than an infected nocosom), or the worst part of medicine, documentation. Nope, I just turn wrenches and make sure that I don't strip threads. I lube pivoting parts, and yes, I shine stuff with Pedro's Bike Lust. Ah...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Night Weasels Cometh!

And they bring rain. Sure, for many, cyclocross and rain go hand in hand. And this week, Mother Nature stepped up to provide three days of nearly non-stop rain leading in to the Night Weasels race. I texted my wife earlier in the day telling her that I absolutely could NOT wait for the carnage.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biking=Fun (right?)

Like most riders, I bike because it's fun. Fun to flow on twisty singletrack, fun to roll along scenic roads, fun to travel by bike and enjoy the outdoors. But, would you say it's also fun to meet up in a giant grass field to practice riding around in circles and running with your bike on your shoulder? In the dark? In THE mosquito breeding grounds? Well, Jamie and Glen call it fun, so I wanted to experience the joy and rapture too.

Yeah, it's that time of year again when the cyclocross race calender is looming, and like a patient desperately brushing his or her teeth just before a dentist's visit, hoping to make up for all those times you didn't floss, I'm hoping to start "training."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kingdom Trails


Self, Andy, Doug..

I should probably start making my friends sign photo release forms. To ride with me is to be photographed by me. I hope no one minds... I know poor Jean has had me bark at her like a typical snooty fashion photographer when all she really wants to do is to get out for a ride.

Oh well, they're my megapixels, and I'm going to use them the way I see fit. Plus, I get to work on my skills at riding one-handed while trying to frame shots (that's how many of the following pics were taken).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vermont, Part Deux

Yeah, it's been a Vermont kind of week. I had a killer time rolling around in a ball of cramps and agony in the field at last week's race, and, well, after a few days of rain, I was anxious to get back up to VT for some more riding.

I was able to convince Jamie and Andy to make the 3+hr drive up to Kingdom Trails, and I suspect that they had a good day trip. I know I did. Even after all that rain that soaked New England, the trails were in prime condition. We hit Harp, Coronary Bypass, Fencline, Pastore Point & Loop, Coronary (a tough climb where I totally dropped the HAMMER on Jamie and LEFT HIM IN MU DUST), Tap & Die, River Run, Webs (ah... Webs), Dry Feet, West Branch, Violet's Outback, Sidewinder, Border, Jaw, Maxilla... okay, get the picture?

Monday, August 23, 2010

VT 30!

Some days you’re the hammer, some days you’re the nail.
Some days you bite the bear, some days the bear bites you.
Some days you’re the gloved finger, some days you’re the boggy prostate.

On Saturday, I was the latter in all three examples.

The scene of the crime was the VT30, a 6-hour mountain bike race in Pittsfield, Vermont. I don’t have all of the details of the crime, but as near as I can tell, I was riding along, minding my own business, when I was ambushed by team of varsity field hockey players, doped up on testosterone, and looking to take out some frustration on a man. I suspect I was drugged, midazolam or maybe a rufie, because I don’t remember much. But I do know that my muscles feel like they were beaten with field hockey sticks, so it must be true.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

VT 30 Pre-Ride

By now, you've read all about my recent race exploits in NY over on the Racer-X blog (day one and day two), and you're probably hoping to read more about my Montana trip (I know, I've still got more to post!). But, alas, you'll still have to wait for more Montana. Here, I'm going to chat a bit about the course for the upcoming VT 30 mountain bike race.

Rob Bousquet, Andy Nook, and myself took a short cruise up to Pittsfield, VT to get a better sense of what to expect for the six-hour mtb race. In a nutshell, we'll be expecting some climbing... lots of climbing.

From what I understand, there's actually less climbing in this year's course as compared to previous routes... zoiks!

The course is essentially one long up hill, with a relatively short, flat, technical section at the top (called the labyrinth), then a long down hill. The climbs and descents are NOT technical unless you consider countless tight switchback turns as technical, which I do not.



We did two laps, which should have been about 10 miles each. My GPS came in at about 8.5 miles per lap, but Andy's & Rob's were both pretty close to 10. I guess I was connected to crappy satellites. Our first lap was filled with doubt and confusion as the actual race course isn't completely marked yet. We had to stop MANY times to check the map to figure out where to go.  We got fairly off course at one point, but overall, it seemed that we found everything.

All in all, it was a super fun course. The first half is plenty of work, but it's do-able. None of the climbs are steep enough that you have to get off the bike--well except one section that's got two false summits, but that's more demoralizing than steep and unrideable. I'll be gearing down from the 32x22 I rode yesterday to give myself a better chance at banging out four laps. And, by "banging out," I mean suffer slowly.


Each of us had a crash, but nothing serious. Only one of us actually came out of one of his shoes though. I'm not going to name names though, but I will say that the gears could be to blame.

I can't wait for the race!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pat's Peak

Did you catch my race report from my recent 24hr race?
Click over to the Twin Six team page, and then link over to the Racer-X site.

Click, surf, ah!

Montana--Day 4, Part II

As I mentioned, after our day of driving and short hikes, I was eager to get back on the bike, even for a quick spin. My National Geographic Map showed a trail near the east entrance of Glacier that apparently allowed bikes. Cool, for VERY few national parks allow bikes on the trails.

I gathered my map, my bike, and headed off, leaving Jean near the visitor's center with her book(s).

The trail is called the Old Flathead River Ranger Station Trail, and it, like everywhere else in Glacier, was grizzly country.

I like to think of myself as brave, and I tend not to shy away from activities that have an element of danger, but while out on the trail, alone, the mind can wander, and you start to think exactly how you'd stack up in a fight against a bear.  I did some quick calculations, factoring in the few mixed martial arts classes that I had taken and determined that I'd be dead.

Of course, the number of bear attacks appears to be exceedingly low, and some bears simply break into people's houses in home invasions. Of course, this was just sent to me...But I was still probably more at risk by being attacked by a human. However, the mind, the mind does play tricks. As fully grown adult male, I'm not used to thinking of myself as prey in any situation, and when mountain biking, NONE of the trails I ride at home have predators that I need to watch for, unless you also count the ticks and mosquitoes.

video

be sure to let this video load...
Anyway, I followed the recommended precautions, used my bear-bell (which in bear-speak is known as the dinner bell), made lots of noise, and kept my eyes open.

It would make for a VERY cool story now, if I could say that I did see a bear, but I didn't. I saw nothing. It was still a good ride though, fairly buff singletrack, with the occasional tree down across the trail. I didn't make it to the end as I was hoping, because while I was watching for bears, I had to keep my eyes on yet another threat--a fast moving thunderstorm. After a few claps that seemed very close and a couple of flashes of lightening, I decided to head back to the visitor's center.

For what it's worth, the storm blew through and never really amounted to anything, but that's okay, even though there were no near death experiences, the post-ride beer (not bear) still tasted good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Montana--Day 4

As I was saying, I've waited too long to post, so now I forget some of the finer details from each day. Damn. Fortunately, I typically take hundreds of photos each day I'm on vacation, so I am able to piece most of the day together.

We woke to a pretty cool sky just after sunrise. Although it looked ominous, the sky actually cleared up pretty nicely and overall, the weather was great.

We decided to drive the whole Going to the Sun road, from West to East, to get the full experience. We did get stuck in the construction traffic again, but it was no real big deal, and we got to chat with some of the construction workers while waiting.

Our first real stop was Logan's Pass, our original destination for our ride the day before. There, at the top, there was still PLENTY of snow. In fact, the trails just out from the visitor's center, while open, were still buried under several feet of snow. In some spots, we were walking next to tree tops, with the rest of the trees buried below.

Anyway, in shorts and sneakers, we hiked out, through the snow, to the look-out by hidden lake. It was a fun, and *interesting* hike, slipping and sliding along. Jean had her trekking poles, so she had some more stability. We got to see some wildlife and some amazing panoramic views.

After making it back to the visitor's center, we continued on our drive to the East side, grabbed lunch, and drove back to the West side. I would have loved to have done the whole road on the bike, and I really wish there was a route something like this here near home to use for training... but alas...

We stopped along the drive and did several short hikes along the way. All in all, Glacier National Park is an incredible place, and our time there was barely enough to scratch the surface.

We have to go back, and there's even more to be found outside of the park. Anyway, after some hiking, some driving, some hiking and some driving, we finally arrived back at the West entrance of the park.

I knew there was a trail near the West entrance that actually DID allow mountain biking, so I left Jean to chillax in the car, while I geared up for a ride. I'll detail that ride shortly, but for now, here's some other pics from the day's driving and hiking:


Monday, July 19, 2010

Animals of Montana

One of the best parts of visiting other parts of the country is having a chance to see some different animals. Glacier National Park and Montana as a whole is home to bears (grizzly and black bears), mountain goats, rams, and so many other wonderful and wild creatures. We did see one black bear, but I didn't get a pic (amateur!). Here's a sampling of the animals I did get to shoot.


This deer followed me for about a hundred yards or so while riding up the Going to the Sun road...


Clearly, this guy is used to getting food from hikers...
 This guy didn't seem to shy either... he (she?) was losing his winter coat...


 ew... bugs...


Thanks for posing!


 Yikes... retirees driving RVs!

MORE to come!

Epic Ride for a Wild Cat Epic!

The Wild Cat Epic 100 is coming up. Gulp. Should I start training? Should I start to taper? Should I "carb up"? As an official certified USA Cycling Level 2 coach, you'd think I'd know the answers. And, well, I do know the answers, but it's much more fun to ignore logic and recommendations and just go out and ride. Maybe that's why I'm not pro. (Yeah, and that's the ONLY reason, right...)

Anyway, I got some good saddle time in while in Montana (more details coming by the way), but I needed more. My week off this week was a bit hectic, so I didn't get to ride as much as I was hoping, and I was still a bit sore from my part in my team's award winning performance at the 24 Hours of Pat's Peak mountain bike race.

So, the week flew by, and before I knew it, I was faced with one day left before heading back to the grind. I had to make my ride epic.

And what's more epic than heading out on a hot summer's day with not nearly enough water, a map, and $20? Answer--nothing.

The big race I'm *training* for is going to be mostly on fire roads, with not much technical singletrack. That's fine... I'm not such a mountain bike snob that fire roads are looked down upon. I love being on my bike--road, dirt road, singletrack--whatever.

Anyway, I really needed to get time/miles in, I'm not trying to learn how to ride roots and rocks. Got that.

So, I headed out with a plan to link some of my favorite trails together, obviously with long road sections. My goal was 50 miles, and I nailed it.

I started with some of the trails in Beverly Commons (Greenwood Ave). From there, I popped over to Gordon College Trails. From there, I hopped on the road and headed into Hamilton. I found some Discover Hamilton Trails which spit me back on to the road, I and found my way back to some trails at Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

I was back on the road for a bit and then in to Bradley Palmer. After hitting some of my favorite trails in there, it was time to cross the river and cross the road to get to Willowdale State Forest. Yeah, I LOVE riding in Willowdale. I picked up a good loop of fire road and single track--then I took a loose rocky downhill a bit too fast and pinch flatted. Damn. The bugs were psyched and I provided a delicious blood meal to what seemed like thousands of hungry insects.

I hit about the 3hr mark while in Willowdale and I was running low on water (i.e.--gone). I had originally planned on stopping along the way, but the stores were not as ubiquitous as I had anticipated.

I rolled out of WIllowdale--hot, sweaty, and depleted of fluids. Fortunately, I knew there was a Dunkin Donuts just down the road. I waited in line behind people getting disgusting "coffee" drinks (i.e. short on the coffee, tall on the flavors, sweeteners, and fat) to get waters, Gatorade and a bran muffin.

Bolstered by this, I headed back out into the blazing sun, up Rt 1 (good hills), down 97, and back towards Beverly.

I was planning on a mostly road ride back at this point, but at about mile 43, I passed a sign for some Essex County Greenbelt trails. Of course, what better time to explore new trails? I have an uncanny ability to find trails that look great at that start, only to head downhill, and then taper off into nothing. I did that twice, and each time I had to turn around and head back up. Argh. Jean will attest to this super power as she has fallen victim to it on occasion. Anyway, at one point, I even came across a park bench--in the middle of nowhere. I took an opportunity to sit and reflect, and then made my way back to some more prominent trails, and then ultimately back to the road.

I got home, cooled off with the garden hose and replenished more fluids. It was a good ride--50 miles of mixed road and trails. Ultimately, that's my favorite type of riding--I do hate driving to a trail, doing a loop, and driving home... and that's the one and only drawback, I think, to singlespeeds is that riding them on the road (at least when geared appropriately for of-road riding), is a chore. I gotta get me a Hammershmidt.

Anyway, I'm going to build on this loop, add in more trails, and ultimately make it a century. Stay tuned!