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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sea century

What would it be like to ride 50 or 100 miles along the ocean? Not up on some busy highway close to it, but right on the beach?

The thought never left my mind this past week as my wife and I spent our annual pilgrimage to Daytona longing for some saddle time. We use this week each year to live life without bicycles. Why? I have no idea. I guess the old "absence make the heart grow fonder" thing works for bicycles as well as loved ones. I sure missed my bikes.

Each time we walked along the beach, I could picture myself on one of those awesome single-speed beach cruisers, tooling slowly along taking in the sights and sounds. Or, perhaps I could roll off the miles and miles of beach on a fixed gear, spending all day working on perfecting my pedal stroke.

I did think a lot about what it would be like to embark on a beach epic. Daytona would be the perfect setting. After all, there is enough hard-packed sand to allow motor vehicle traffic, so riding at a decent speed would be no problem. There is also a bunch of real estate to work with. From Ormand Beach, where my make-believe epic would begin, down to it's end at Ponce Inlet is about 20 miles. A 50-miler entirely ridden on the sand is quite possible.

It makes me think that a week of riding in a totally new environment may be better than a week completely sans-cycle. I sure did miss my bikes. And I bet they missed me too.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Superhumans

Ned Overend followed by Lance Armstrong in an old MTB race. Both of these guys turned out to be pretty good, eh?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Franklin County Cyclocross Pics

Skip skipping a barrier in the Men's B race.













Ed Dickenson and Ron Glowczynski were neck and neck the entire Men's Masters race...












...with Ron sprinting for the win in the final straight away.













Tony Billotta gritted it out in the Men's Masters 45+ race.












Ron's super high-dollar custom built cyclocross machine.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Next season starts now

If I've learned anything from my few short years of mountain bike racing it's that having a goal is crucial to success.

So, in the keeping with my "bigger is most definitly better" mentality, I've set a goal for the 2006 season not only to finish the Shenandoah Mountain 100 mile mountain bike race next September, but to do it in under 10 hours - on my single speed. I have some training to do.

After a few conversations with Team El Toreo racer and top 20 finisher Ron Glowczynski (that's him in the pic racing at this year's SM100) , I've become intrigued with the challenge of training for an event of this length.






In Ron's race report from the event, (http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/RoanokeCycling/message/271) he mentioned that he had never done a mountain bike race of more than 42 miles, yet he was able to train and race very well (16th overall) at the SM100.

I've always done well in short, fast events, but the longer races have been a real challenge. In May of 2004, I barely finished the Middle Mountain Momma race , a 21 mile climbers delight held at Douthat State Park near Covington, VA. Leg cramps and nausea had plagued me from about half way into this awesome course. I'd cramp viciously when I tried to pedal with any power. If I tried to get off the bike, the back of my legs would seize up. I'd walk a bit, feel a tad better and try to remount, only to have the front of my legs lock up. It was agony. I felt like I was going to puke or pass out, or both, for hours after I had hobbled to the finish line. The rest of the 2004 season was very similar: lots of pain, cramps and poor finishes. Something had to change.

I spent the majority of this past spring doing rides of 4 hours or more, trying to build a good base for the higher intensity training that came later in the year. I had set a goal for the 2005 season to finish STRONG in every race. After many training hours and miles, some dietary improvements and some great products from Hammer Nutrition, I accomplished my goal. I finished the 2005 Middle Mountain Momma feeling fresh and strong - on a single speed.

So, the goal is set. I know it will take a lot of hard work to accomplish it, but I believe I'm up to the challenge.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Be nice to your bike

My Rig and I have been through a lot this year. Together we covered tons of miles here in Virginia's lush forests, braved the mud in Wets Virginia (oops, WEST...sorry) and took on some back roads in Western Pennsylvania that made a few trails I've been on look smooth in comparison.




It has never let me down in a race. Always solid. Always did everything I ever asked it to do, without the slightest complaint. I wish I could say the same about my legs.


Gary Fisher must have had an idea how loved this machine would be when he designed it. Each Rig rolls out of the factory with a "Man's Best Friend" sticker on the backside of the seat tube, just above the bottom bracket. Nice touch, Gary.

I figured it was time to do something nice for my bike, since it has been so nice to me all season.


My beautiful bride also realized how close my Rig and I have become. So for my birthday, she bought a nice gift for the Rig, knowing that would make me happier than getting some new shirt or an electric razor.
Thank you, Pookie. The Rig loves it's new Thomson seat post. Light, strong, bling bling out the wazoo. Very impressive craftsmanship.
Next came the fancy Surly cromoly cog. Oooh, this thing is sweet. I'd venture to say that it's a 300% improvement over the stock $3 stamped junk metal cog that came on the bike. Most cogs are a flat piece of metal with teeth. The Surly is thicker through the center so more metal comes in contact with the freehub body. Just from spinning around a short time I can already feel the overall drivetrain is stiffer and more power is being transferred to the dirt.





Combined with the stainless steel Surly chainring and SRAM PC-1 singlespeed chain, the Rig's vital organs are in great shape.












Finally, these new Time ATAC XE composite pedals will keep me and the Rig tightly joined together for a long time. I'm ready to ride, and I know the Rig is too!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Aimless

I've been lost since the end of the mountain bike racing season last weekend. For the past seven months, I've been on my bike almost every day. Commuting, long weekend training rides, shorter rides every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, races...then it's all over. Awkward. My body is still set on race mode, but my brain is telling me to rest and relax.

I'll do random physical activity for the next week to complete my two week "transition time" from race mode to weight training mode, then my body will begin to get used to new rituals of stress and recovery. I'll sneak some rides in there too.

Of this I'm sure: I will steer clear of the monotony of the resistance trainer at all cost, unless there is absolutely no other option.

I jumped on just a couple nights ago just to spin my legs out, and even with the aid of some fresh tunes on my MP3 player was bored out of my gord.

Nope. Life is too short to spin aimlessly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Champions

The Virginia Derailer Mountain Bike Race Series crowned the 2005 series champions after the conclusion of the Poor Mountain Hill Climb this past Sunday, Oct 2nd. Here are the majority of them. You can follow the link on the right hand side of this blog to see the complete series results. Sorry if I missed capturing anyone on film. See ya'll next season!

Expert 14-17:

Gordon Wadsworth - 1st, Jerry Wells - 3rd, Ryan Owens - 2nd


Expert/Pro 18-35:

Skip Huffman - 2nd, Roger Newcombe Jr. - 1st

Expert/Pro 36-49:

Martin Owens - 3rd, Ron Glowczynski - 1st, Tim Miller - 2nd

Sport Women 10-13 champion Hollis Owens

Sport 18-35:

David Anderson - 1st, Caleb Smith - 2nd, Chris Tomkins - 3rd

Sport 36-49:

Quinn Hershberger - 1st, Warren Schimizzi - 2nd, Philip Love - 3rd

joined by women's Sport 36-49 champion Paula Schimizzi

Novice Women 50+ champion Cindy Morisco

Novice 18-35:

Joshua Draper- 1st, Michael Roth - 2nd, Danny Mobley - 3rd

Novice 36-49:

Tim Osgood - 1st, Terry Gardner - 2nd, Ray Wells - 3rd

Sunday, October 02, 2005

VA Derailer #5 Poor Mountain Hill Climb

My friends,this race is incorrectly named: this most definitely is a mountain, not a hill!

About 70 riders came to challenge this rocky, surprisingly technical climb that slithers up the side of this beautiful mountain. The views from the top are spectacular. Where else can you look down on every other mountain in the Roanoke Valley? Getting up there is the battle.

As I did in the four previous Derailer Series races, I rolled up to the start line on my Rig. Big wheels and one speed. I have to admit that this time I was nervous. Showing up gearless at a course made up of rolling singletrack trails - like the Danville or Lynchburg races - or a fast doubletrack circuit - like Franklin County or Bedford - is kinda fun and alot more challenging, but very do-able. When you show up to the Poor Mountain Hill Climb on a singlespeed, people look at you like you've lost your mind.

I wasn't sure I could make it. Seriously. I had this vision of myself, half way up this colossus heaving my breakfast into a ditch, with a big DNF hovering over my head. Just like the Arby's logo in those annoying commercials. This would be a wicked hard climb.

After a two mile warm up from the race's host facility at Camp Roanoke, we all began our assault on the mountain by climbing the paved section of Poor Mountain Road for about two miles. Here we had 69 racers on geared bikes, then me. Kids with tricycles were whizzing by me as I spun myself silly along the first mile. Then things began looking up.

As the road began to gain elevation, I pulled in all the Novice racers who almost made me quit when they first passed me. Then the paved road turned sharply to the right and kicked viciously upward. I passed a ton of folks as it got steeper, including my wife who shouted some encouragement my way.

I was feeling it in my legs. I knew that if I really put the hammer down that I would cause cramps and increase my chances of a DNF. It hurt that bad. I just wanted to ride to the top and finish. I had no thoughts of scoring a respectable time.

When the road turned to dirt, I started getting into a rhythm. It was a standing-up-mashing-on-the-pedals-breathing-as-hard-as-I-could rhythm, but it was sustainable. The climb is comprised of several long straight sections that allowed you to see a quarter mile or so in front of you. I started to notice that I was reeling in the folks up ahead. I dug a little deeper, caught those riders and passed them, then backed off. The rocky dirt road would switch back and reveal another long straight-away and new prey for me to track down. Two more riders passed.

Then around the next corner I saw Quinn Hershberger (#1 in points in my class) and Philip Love (#3 in points) and all of the pain seemed to melt away. Now we're talking. I didn't think I would see these guys today at all, yet there they were. It seemed like forever before I could get by Quinn. I finally worked my way around him then reeled Philip in. I think it was about half way up the mountain. Then it got steep.

The higher we climbed, the more the mountain threw at us: loose rocks, pebbles several inches deep, steep switchbacks...and I was getting tired.

I couldn't climb while in the saddle. This course is just too steep for the gear I was using. I had to stand almost the entire 6 3/4 miles. I added bar ends just for this event and I was glad I did. The added leverage made the long jaunt out of the saddle a bit more endurable.

Finally, the road leveled out for about 100 feet before turning right onto a demoralizingly steep loose gravel pitch that takes whatever life you had left and squishes it like a bug. I stood up and started to hammer. My legs said "not so fast, partner". I had nothing left. Plus, I was loosing all traction on the gravel by trying to stand. My back tire was spinning all over the place. I jumped off and started jogging my bike up the pitch. As I did, Philip Love worked his way back up to me and got past me in the last half mile. Kudos to Phil for not giving up and riding hard all the way. I was sure he had the win, but as it turns out there was another Sport 36-49 racer up ahead of us. Philip took 2nd and I was thrilled with 3rd. Heck, I was thrilled to finish! (That's me throwing the peace sign inthe pic, not a 2nd place sign)

I was able to roll up on a respectable 1 hour 41 second finish time. My wife Paula rode very strong behind me to finish in just over 1 hour and 3 minutes. What a beast!

Once we all got back off the mountain, we were treated to some fine eats and a nice awards presentation. The series champs were crowned and a good time was had by all. I'll put up another post in regards to the final series standings once they are all tallied and I can identify everyone in the tons of pictures I took.