Friday, September 29, 2006

Jeremiah Bishop to race 2006 Poor Mountain Hill Climb

International superstar professional mountain bike racer Jeremiah Bishop of the Trek/VW Factory Mountain Bike Race Team, fresh off the best finish by an American in eleven years at the 2006 Mountain Bike Worlds (8th place) will race the 8th annual Poor Mountain Hill Climb this coming Sunday October 1st in Roanoke County!

JB is an all-around great guy who also happens to be the course record holder. He will be riding his hot new Trek Sub20XC in attempt to break his record.

Come on out and race, or just to cheer for someone you know, or someone you don't!

For more info, click here!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another good outing for Team El Toreo

From left to right:
The Rev Warren Carswell - 7th place Sport 36+
Yours truely - 2nd place Singlespeed
Paula "Bikerchickypookie" Schimizzi - 1st overall Sport Women
Chip Camper - 3rd place Sport 36+
Chris Clark - 2nd place Novice 36+
Ron Glowczynski - 3rd place Pro/Expert 36+
Todd Reighley - 2nd place Pro/Expert 18-35

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Roadies fight like girls

Race Report- Falling Creek Park (VA Derailer #4)

Everything changes. Usually things like trail systems change slowly. Not so for the trails at Falling Creek Park in Bedford, VA - host of VA Derailer Series Race #4. Last year, each 4.25 mile lap was about 50/50 singletrack trail/doubletrack through open fields. This year, each lap was still about 4.25 miles, but about 90% was on some fairly technical, newly-cut trail.
This year's race took on a totally different character from last year's edition.

Let's do a lap together, shall we? From the starting gun , racers do a quick 1/2 mile prolog around an open field of trimmed down grasstrack about 12 feet wide. A few hundred yards of climbing before reaching the first singletrack section spreads everyone out. I hit the gas on the climb in order to stay right behind the other Singlespeeders, and to stay in front of the tail-end of the Expert group so as not to get caught-up in the technical sections.

Now the fun begins - Switchback number one is a tight right hander that everyone gets through pretty well. Across the ridge we go into a downhill, left-hand switchback that a few folks in front of me bobble on. A few hundred feet below comes the first surprise: a greasy left turn uphill into a section with slick roots. "I should have hammered in the grass section to get out in front." I'm muttering to myself as folks in front of me are getting off their bikes to run up this section. Next comes a super-slick steep grunt that slows everyone down again. I just have to be patient. This tricky section continues across the hillside and down a fun little chute between two trees, then into a field for a couple yards before the next section of singletrack.

Now comes a few fun turns, then two more slick uphill sections. A bobble in the group in front of me that includes Expert Women's winner Erin Garvin, and Singlespeeder Quinn Hershberger allows me my first opportunity to pass.

The top of the climb puts us into what I was calling the "Pine Quarter" - about a quarter into a lap, and almost all pine trees. Very cool and Ewok village-like. Alot more fun too, since it's more wide open and a chance to let 'er rip a bit. I get on the gas to put some distance between Quinn and myself. He and I were tied for 2nd place in series points in the Singlespeed class going into this race.

After the Pine Quarter comes "The Log". Fun stuff. About three feet high and set up perfectly in the middle of a grassy section of trail. I built up some momentum and charged at it head-on. A lift of the front wheel and a hop and off we go! I skimmed the top, corrected just a tad, kept the shiney side up and hit the ground on the other side without scrubbing off any speed. Laps two, three and four would be progressively less graceful as I fatigued more and more.

Back into another fast pine tree shaded section, then a left into the U-turn. This section was neat - Hop a log to get started, then another log about every thirty feet until you reach a right-hand turn that sent you back from where you came. Oh yeah, logs about every thirty feet in this direction too. I'm glad I run tubeless tires - no pinch flats here!

A left into a grassy open section, then another left into more freshly cut trail complete with briars grabbing your arms at every turn.

Into a field once again before entering the last big singletrack section. Along a stream for 1/4 mile, left turn half-way up onto the ridge, then back the same way you came, only 100 feet higher up on the hill side. Some fun on the newly constructed, whoop-de-doo singletrack, then a tight right hander sends you climbing all the way to the ridge top and back in the other direction. Soon after negotiating some tricky roots, rocks and dips, your back in the open field again and just about finished with you lap. A climb back to the starting line parralel to the climb we did to begin the race and the lap is complete. Now do it three more times.

I was able to catch Robbie Bruce and slip into 2nd place on my second lap. I didn't see him again for about a half an hour until he caught and passed me again to reclaim 2nd position. He put about 100 yards on me near the beginning of the fourth lap, and I was having trouble closing in on him. I'd hit the gas and bring the gap down to a 100 feet or so, then he'd pull away. This happened a few times until finally I dumped into an open section and saw him right in front of me. I hit the gas to catch him expecting him to take off when he saw me, but he didn't. As I got closer to him I could hear some horrible noises coming from his bike. "What's up?" I asked, thinking maybe he threw his chain or something. But, a simple mechanical problem this was not. He had totally broken his frame in two! The down tube was severed and hanging down enough to rub against the front tire. "I'm pretty sure you're gonna beat me now", he said in disgust. "I'm sorry Robbie." I couldn't think of what else to say. He was stronger than I was in this race, but my bike was stronger than his.

I finished strong and feeling good after four laps on this fun course. 2nd place again to Michael Coco who was was just flying, as usual. Robbie, broken bike and all, was able to hold onto 3rd place. I moved into sole possesion of 2nd in the Singlespeed class series points with one race to go.

Up next, the finale' - The Poor Mountain Hill Climb, Sunday Oct.1.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Charge 'em if you got 'em!

It's that time of year again. I'm barely able to see when I leave my house at 7am to pedal to work. Getting home is still bright, but before long I'll be using the HID in both directions. There's something depressing about riding to and from work in the dark.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Race Report - Peaksview Park (VA Derailer #3)

Ever seen a dog chase it's own tail? Funny isn't it? Racing at Peaksview Park in Lynchburg, VA is alot like chasing your own tail. Pedal, turn. Pedal pedal pedal, turn. Pedal, turn, turn, pedal, turn. You get the idea. It is a blast, but it's as tight as they come. Throw in some recent rain to slicken up the rocks and roots and you've got some good racin'!

Heading into this race I was mentally prepared to see the Lynchburg locals I had been racing against in the first two races of this series hammer on their home turf. Four of the six entrants racing in the Singlespeed class reside in Lynchburg.

The six of us lined up at the back of the larger-than-normal Expert field for about 3/4 mile of paved bike path before making a half-lap around a soccer field, then into the twist-o-rama singletrack. Someone in our group got the idea that we should stay on the back of the Experts from the gun, which required us to spin our one gear at a rediculously high cadence. I looked down at one point and my bike computer said "you're an idiot". I tried to stay on the wheel of the guy in front of me all the way into the singletrack, but there was no way. The pace was just too high. I backed off, losing a minute and a half to everyone in the Singlespeed class - until we reached the woods.

To my surprise, everyone was bunched up less than 100 feet into the singletrack. Cool. I passed my teammate Aaron into the first chute, then jumped onto the wheel of Robbie Bruce who was in fourth place. I followed him and Quinn Hershburger for at least half of the first of our two laps. I could see two of the four guys who I knew where in front of me. My legs and lungs and Rig felt good. The Stan's Tubeless with 20 psi were sticking like glue to the slick trails. I could see the guys in front struggling a bit to keep traction. I began to look for my spot to pass. A bobble on a root strewn uphill grunt presented the opportunity. Quinn and Robbie had traded places, so I was able to get around Quinn first. I paced out behind Robbie for a bit longer before another tricky section allowed me to pass him as well.

Now I sat in third and could pick my way through some traffic to see if I could make up some time on Michael Coco who had handed my butt to me in the previous two races. I knew I couldn't catch him, but I was going to try. In the process I was able to catch Ben Warren who was in second place for most of the first lap. After the singletrack ends, the paved path begins again to lead racers back to the start for lap 2. I spun at a pretty high pace on the pavement, but not as fast as the race start.

When I reached the trailhead to begin my second lap, I was all alone. I rode within myself, keeping my wits about me to ensure I wouldn't wrap myself around one of the billions of trees that lined the trails at Peaksview. The Rig was sticking like a mag-lev train. Fun.

I made it to the pavement for the finishing stretch, but this time I put the hammer down. I spun at about 160 rpm for the entire length of bike path. By the time I reached the finish line I was seeing stars. It was as hard spinning at this cadence for this long as any stiff climb me and my Singlespeed had ever tackled.

2nd place. to come soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sign theories

...continued from the previous post.

More thoughts on the sign project at Carvins Cove.

It's hard to plan where you're going if you don't know where you are. A sign at the trail information kiosk at the Bennett Springs Parking Lot would let trail users know the name of the location where they are starting. The kiosk is already there. The addition of a "Bennett Springs Lot" sign would do the trick.
Why a sign at the parking lot? Because trail signs deeper into the forest can then point users back in the direction they came from. Observe...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Finding the way

I'm helping to bring signage to the trails at Carvin's Cove. Long overdue. Over the years I've pointed many a wary mountain biker in the right direction after they've lost their way at one of the Cove's many look-alike intersections.

Some background for those reading from afar: The Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is located just outside of the City of Roanoke in SW Virginia. A kindey-shaped man-made reservoir provides water for the city. The land around the lake is great for outdoor adventures. The "Cove" has about 35-40 miles of trails and fire roads open for mountain biking. Most riders new to riding here start off on the Happy Valley fire road that leads from a large gravel parking lot at one end of the reservoir to a boat dock eight miles away on the opposite end. Someday we may be able to loop all the way around the entire reservoir, but for now it's only out-and-back. Several singletrack trails jut off from and loop back to Happy Valley. The lack of signage at these trail intersections make it pretty hard to determine what direction to go to get back towhere you started. If you're not a local and want to check out a map, look here. Some good signage would be a huge help.

My quandry is this: What makes a good trail sign? The first picture of this post is some existing signage at the Cove (actually, the only signage), the second is at Douthat State Park. The following is a mock-up of what might be good at the Cove.

So I need some help.

First, does this mock-up cover all of our bases? My thought is that signs like the one above would work for only one part of a "T" intersection. Another sign would be needed to point folks in the right direction if they were going the opposite way. Anyway, in terms of the appearance, would this work?

Second, if you live and ride in the Roanoke area and want to help out with the signage project, please post a comment to this post or send me an email at or follow the "Sign up for trailwork" link on the right hand side of this here blog. We're still in the early stages, but we'll need help with making the signs as well as putting them up at the Cove. I'm sure we'll be organizing a couple of work days this fall to begin this task. Later gators.