Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bedford County MTX #2 Race Report

POST DISCLAIMER: I'm falling asleep as I write this, so the quality should be stellar!

Same park, most of the same folks, but very different weather! Last weekend's 60 degrees and sunny gave way to the weekend's 37 and an angry wind. The other major different; darkness. A six PM start time guaranteed that we'd be racing under the cloak of night, and that the temperature would only get colder as our race progressed.

This week's field was only three racers smaller than last, despite the cold and dark. Race promoter Kenny Palmer laid out another excellent course designed specifically for lung-busting. A nice mix of single track, gravel, pavement and a leg-scorching climb made for an interesting and fun race.

Same format as before: slower racers got a big head start, faster racers are held back. Everyone was trying to do the most laps overall in their allotted time. I started with 44 minutes left on the countdown clock with fellow Expert Vet racers and friends Cliff and Dave. Each lap was similar in that we all rode the singletrack at about the same speed. We'd hit the dirt road and I'd pull away (thanks to the 1x9), then we'd all bomb the grassy downhill section through the small creek crossing. Then the three of us would trade positions just about every lap when it came time to face the open-field climb, and the numbing winds. It was Cliff who would be the strongest in this race.

Long story short: Last week Dave finished ahead of me and Cliff behind. This week Cliff finished ahead of me and Dave behind.

The handicap format works well in ensuring that you have to push yourself really hard to catch the folks who have a head start on you. This week my wife ended up on the top podium spot overall. She rode well and seemed to have fun even though she HATES riding in the wind.

I finished up in 4th overall and moved up a bit in the series standings.

Next week, race #3 and possibly 50 degrees...if the forecasters are right!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How long will it be?

The weather is getting warmer at a painfully slow rate, but it is getting warmer. The snow around the Roanoke Valley is disappearing from our lawns and driveways. The mountains are a whole different story.

I've heard tales of five foot snow drifts that are still burying mountain bike trails. And even once the snow is gone, the trails will be so muddy that it just wouldn't be a good idea to be on them.

So how long will it be? March is just a few days away, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. I've seen some wet, nasty March snows before.

Is it possible that we may not get back on the trails until April? I shutter to think...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bedford County MTX #1 Race Report

Chocolate pudding. Say it with me in your best Bill Cosby voice..."chocolate pudding". Now imagine riding around in it for an hour. Yep, that's a pretty accurate description of the trail conditions at this past Sunday's MTX #1.

Race promoter Kenny Palmer did a great job with laying out a course that was 99% ride-able and 100% fun, despite the icky conditions.

The format is simple: the slower you are, the more of a head start you get. Everyone races against everyone, just some of us have less time than others. Whoever gets the most laps wins. Simple, fun and fair.

I hadn't pinned on a number since last August when I dislocated my shoulder. I was fairly sure that I could hang, but was a bit worried about my technical skills. After all, my jello pudding experience was a little lacking. Luckily the start was about 200 yards of pavement. I hung out in about third position into the singletrack. I didn't want to lead. The course monster was out there and if I was first, he'd get me for sure. He lurks just below the surface of muddy trails and yanks racer's wheels out from under them. He strikes when you are pumping with adrenaline and trying to set a blistering pace is less-than-ideal conditions. I've seen it happen before first hand. I know he exists and I was scared. Scared and smart.

So I hung for a couple laps, then tried to turn it up a bit. I did OK for my fourth time on a mountain bike in six months. That being said, it was some things I did off the bike that had a greater effect on my riding this day. As you know from my last post, since you are all such faithful readers of this here blog, I changed several things on my bike the day before the race. A big no-no in the world of racing. I did it anyway. I thought I could buck the system; outsmart the MTB gods. I could adjust, check and re-check and it would all be OK. I was wrong.

You see, the day before a race is not the day to change things for one reason; you have no time to test ride and adjust what doesn't feel tire pressure. I rolled out on brand spankin' new Maxxis Aspen rubber, aired up to a whopping 45 psi. I discovered that the optimum tire pressure for these new beauties was about 28psi when I was about 13 feet onto the slick trails. Ooooh, this was gonna be interesting.

I could have jumped off and let out a few pounds, but I figured I'd just go with it. By the last lap things were so greasy that I was spinning in place on the final climb and had to get off and run. Still, the Aspens performed excellently and I can't wait to try them on something a bit more earthy and less pudding-like.

I finished 7th out of 31. I'll take it. I felt strong and I didn't hurt myself, which is really saying something considering that two of the last 5 times I've been on a bicycle I've SERIOUSLY injured myself.

Let's just hope that I can continue the trend of keeping the shiny side up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Breaking the rules again.

Do you know rule#1 of mountain bike racing? Don't change anything on your bike the day before a race. So what did I do today? Switched out the familiar Hutchinson Python tires for new Maxxis Aspen treads, moved both brake levers and repositioned my bar-mounted lock out for my REBA.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time to bring it, partner!

Sunday is raceday. I'm not at all ready, but I'll puke my lungs out like everyone else pushing myself well past my limit.

Yea, I'm looking forward to it. Time to see what I'm made of.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Almost out of the woods

I know we can make it.
It's February 15th and there is still 10 inches of snow on the ground.
We have been on average 10 degrees below normal since the beginning of the month.

Yet the birds each morning are singing a happier tune every day.
The sun is getting higher in the sky.
The days are finally getting noticeably longer.

We can make it kids.
We can make it to spring.
I promise we can.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I think that cyclocross should a winter olympic sport. It can be run in any weather, is extremely flexible in terms of venue, and is spectator friendly.

Let's start a petition.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nina needs new shoes

On order are a couple pairs of the Maxxis Aspen XC tire. Ever review said they are a good combination of light weight and good grip. We'll to follow soon, once the weather cooperates!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Great White South?

Someone told me yesterday that they heard that we have had more snowfall here in Roanoke, VA so far this winter than Anchorage, Alaska!

Enough already!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Skate lust

I know this is a bicycle blog...cut me a break. It's been snowing so much that I feel like I still live up north. I'm sure my mindset will change entirely when the snow melts and I can ride outside again!

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Routines are for ___________________.

If I had a Google Maps car, it would look like a fuzzy shark.

Two more hours on the trainer on tap for today.

Caps have won 13 in a row. Who do I root for Sunday?

Why doesn't Indianapolis have a baseball team?

Best line from the movie Watchmen: "I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me!"

I don't own enough Hemingway.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


The 1st race on my 2010 schedule isn't going to happen because of the impending ice and snow. Thanks Phil. Stupid groundhog.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Double time

My friend Wake posted on Facebook recently that riding one minute on the trainer is equal to riding 2 minutes outside. I hope he's correct. That means that I've done 5 separate 4-hour rides so far this season - all on the trainer.

BTW, this isn't my bike, my trainer, or my TV. I wish I had this hook-up, nephew! Schaaaweet! Maybe if I save my pennies.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Twinings Prince of Wales tea is as elusive as Bigfoot. I've found it a variety pack with other far inferior flavors, but only once have I been able to purchase a whole, complete, gloriously delicious box of the Prince. Trouble is, I can't remember where I bought it. I've looked at Kroger, Food Lion and Wally World and returned empty-handed.

I will scour the globe until I can find an entire box! It has become my quest.