Monday, September 28, 2009

Whirly Bird Cross - So it Begins.

This past week, I finally did something that I've been threatening to do for the past three years - I tried Cross. And I liked it!

Back in the day, I was a relatively competetive runner. I was a middle distance guy on the track, and I loved racing. Specifically, I loved to beat people. I loved to break people. I loved to put myself through an extraordinary amount of pain, just to hear them fade off the back. The past few years, I've been using my mountain bike as a competetive outlet. Sure, I've beaten plenty of riders out there, but for some reason, its just not the same. In a MTB race, I feel, almost lonely - always strung out in no man's land, no idea where my competition is. Nobody there to beat. Nobody there to crack. While it's great fun to push hard on the trails, there's just something missing and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I truly miss whatever it is that I'm missing.

So after one practice and one race, I can tell you that without a doubt, Cross has what I'm missing. Cross has what I need. I'm a little pissed that it took me three years of Competetive mountain biking to finally pull the trigger and give cross a go.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

24 Hours of Racing?

Endurance Racing is not my thing...

Last year sometime, I made the proclimation that I would infact dabble with endurance racing in the 2009 season. I really have no idea why I might have done this... Last season, I found myself cramping and coming unglued at cross country races that were on the north side of 20 miles. Of my 10 cross country races last year, only one was under 20 miles. That one was offset by 4500 feet of climbing in +95° heat with 357% humidity (it felt like I had the slug from .357 mag lodged in my head after this race). In summation, as far as I can recall, I cramped and/or came completely unglued at every race last season. Why I decided that I'd want to try endurance racing next year, is truly, beyond me.

Endurance Racing is my thing... Sorta.

This season, true to my word, I took the plunge. I started small with a muddy, early season 4 hour race, followed that up with a mid season 9 hour race, and a 24 hour relay in the waning days of this season.

The first race, 4 Hours of Iron Hill, I was a fool. I went out too hard and didnt drink nearly enough fluid. The second half was a downward spiral which cluminated with my last lap of doging mortar shells. I wasn't quick enough.

The second race was one of the best grassroots cycling events I had ever witnessed. The official race was 9 hours. My race which was riddled with shouldering trees, cramping and general soreness, only lasted 6 hours. After 4 hours, dry clothes, folding chairs and coolers full of ice cold brew were taunting me. By hour 5, those three inanimate things had launched a barrage of fire onto my morale and motivation. At hour 6, I succombed to the attack and called it quits. Fortunately, my partner in crime - Adam - had a strikingly similar mental battle brewing, pun intended.

My first two endurance races were clearly less than stellar. Oddly enough, I still found them fun.

Seven Springs Champion Challenge 24 hour MTB Race

This past weekend marked the finale of my 2009 racing season. And what a finale it was. After all my displeasure with endurance races, Seven Springs blindsided me. I had heard that 24 hour relays are "fun," but admittedly, I was wrongfully skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised that everything about this weekend was laced with fun. Epic, masochistic, fun.

The Lemans Start...

For those of you that don't know my history, I'm a bit of an ex-runner. As such, I feel quite at home doing LeMans Starts at bike races. In fact, I'm reigning LeMans start champion at the early season Marysville Team Relay. I saw no reason to let my undefeated status slip away here. Not surprisingly, I claimed the holeshot with authority. It took 6 miles for my singlespeed and I to be caught. The guy that caught me, was shredding, so kudos to him. I finished out my first lap without incident, although the half mile run did take its toll. I ended up finishing second wheel, about 2 minutes off the lead. Lap time: 1:06:34.

Lap Two

Lap two was my fastest lap - by far. I felt like I was on fire for this one. I was rockin' the descents, railing the corners and hammering the climbs. I finished this lap in 1:04 and change which gave me a top ten lap time overall and 3rd fastest on lap 2. I was pretty stoked and felt great. Lap time: 1:04:27.

After this one, my next lap was going to be around 1:00am, so I needed grub and sleep. I gorged on some great food prepared by John Plewa and other friends and teammates (without you all, this would NOT have been a good experience). I plugged in my lights and got some sleep.

Lap Three

After a couple hours sleep, I rolled up to the team HQ feeling fresh. I prepare my gear and start setting up my lights. I'm excited to try out a new light that I had just received the week before. I'm a little wary about the fact that I am relying on an unproven light during a race in the dark. I'm comforted by the fact that I have my trusty NiteRider HID as well. Wouldn't you know? 10 minutes till start and my NiteRider is shorting out. Perfect.

Now, I'm considerably more nervous about running a shady, new, unproven light on smokin fast, dark and twisty descents. The light held up, but my lack of confidence showed. Lap three was my slowest lap by about 5 minutes. Oh well - lesson learned: Check your gear DAYS before the race, not minutes. Lap time: 1:14:40.

Lap Four

Lap four would be my last lap, starting around 7:00am. For me, this was the toughest lap. I was tired, I was cranky, and I was cold. I didnt want to get out of bed, nor did I want to suit up. Once I got out there, though, everything was A-O-K. The course was great at getting you going. The whole first three miles are downhill, so it really pushes you to race your lap rather than sit back and ride. After the long climb just after half way, I raced hard. I was redlining because I knew that our race as a team was close. Our main competition had some type of mishap overnight, but I knew they were coming for us - and they were hungry. It was all I could do to muster up a sub 1:10 final lap. Lap time 1:09:51.

Finish it up

The race was out of my hands now so it was time for a beer - at 9:00am - which felt totally normal and tasted delicious. Ron put in a nice final lap. KTown amazed everyone with what was nearly her fastest lap of the race. Federer rolled out a good lap and Campbell managed to hold off the final charge of our competition by riding in his flat tire to clinch first place in our 5 person coed division. KTown, Ron, Campbell and Federer all rode well to contribute to our team victory. What better way to end an epic race than with a top spot on the podium.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Convenience of Selling Online

I'll admit it. I have a problem with buying things online. Specifically, I buy second hand stuff from people on Craigslist. I've scored some seriously good deals in the past couple years and as a result, I compuslively check CL for more deals on stuff that I must have.

Giving Back

Recently, I decided to offer some of my crap to the Craigslist community. I decided that was time to give somebody else the opportunity to score a deal. I'd allow someone to have the joys of finding a great deal on something that they must have. I'd simultaneously be cleaning out my garage of useless crap while putting cash directly into my pocket. Its really a win, win situation, and Its seemingly a fool proof plan. Well... that was my plan.

Easy money

I listed two items recently, and just minutes after my ad went live, I had my first set of replies. Score! This stuff is gonna sell like hot cakes. The emails received were from foreign countries attempting to purchase my items... odd. The emails are so generic and vague, that its almost as if they're prefabricated and dont even apply to my item... odd, again. Seriously, after reading the first line or two, I realized that its a total scam attempt. The thing is, I just dont understand how these scams are ever allowed to come to fruition. They are so blatant, that I can't wrap my head around it. Are people really so trusting that they would mail an item to somebody with a mere promise of payment? Its like Wimpy making a promise to Popeye... "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday..." They're so absurd, that I just can't see how anybody, ever, could fall for them. Yet they must work, because I'm two for two with my listings... two items listed, two scammer's firing out repeated messages from foreign countries.

The best of the two was in response to my King Headset advertisement. A woman from France is willing to have her secretary mail me a certified check, then send her "movers" to pick up the item. She wanted to be "surprised to have it in her house upon her return to the country", which is why she needed a mover to pick up a bicycle headset. I sent her a message to set up the logistics of my sale, but unfortunately I haven't heard from her since. If anybody happens to know Jenny Gold, from France, please have her look me up. :-P

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tweet You, network security.

Twitter, the cool thing to do.
Apparently, twitter is all the rage these days. I hear about it on the radio and the news all the time. All these celebs and cool people are tweeting this and tweeting that. They tweet from their movie sets, they tweet from their cars, They tweet their 911 calls, they even tweet about the deuce they just dropped. Whatever, the bottom line is that everybody's tweeting. Until now, I just havent felt the urge to visit the twitter website let alone actually tweet for myself...

A Daily Routine
Each morning, I rise at 6am, I commute to the office the same way through central Philadelphia. Once in the office around 7:00, I grab a cup of coffee and settle in at my desk. As I sip my coffee, I enjoy searching for updates to various web pages and blogs that I follow in a specific order - the same order each morning. One of the websites that I enjoy most is Fatty's blog. Basically, I enjoy (abuse) unlimited access to the world wide web. Once about 4 years ago, I accidentally tested those limits by clicking on a link to a porn site. That site was denied, and until this morning My access was literally unrestrained.

At the bottom of Fatty's recent blog post, he linked to Lance Armstrong's Twitter page. For some reason, despite all the other celebrity hulabaloo about Twitter, because of Fatty's comment, today was the day that I would deviate from my routine and check to see what its all about. Or not. See, apparently, Twitter is a really bad place - or at least my network security thinks so. This morning, I fired out a nice big red flag to my network police, that I, wshowers, have hereby been procrastinating at work by attempting to access the vile social networking site that is Twitter. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think it strange that a stuffy, ultra conservative, international Pharma company would block out such a site. This is not ordinary, however. As I said, I've got basically free riegn over the entire internet, with only two exceptions. Porn and Twitter.

I have to wonder why Twitter is grouped in with Porn? I have access to facebook, myspace, craigslist, every message board I could ever want, chat rooms, blog sites, etc, etc. Bot not Twitter! Twitter is a devious social networking site!

Is it really that bad? Maybe I'm missing out? Maybe I need to be a twit. My curiousity level is now spiking through the roof. I have an insatiable urge to access the forbidden fruit of Twitter.

Twitter must be very evil indeed, and I must have access. Right Now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Centrifuge of Fun...Riding in Circles in Marysville, PA

[Disclaimer: This will be mostly a photoblog as I'm busy today and because of the sheer awesomeness of the event there is too much to discuss. Ronaldo]

June 26, 27, and 28 marked's Mid-Atlantic Super Series Mountain Bike Festival Weekend. Honestly, if the Neshaminy race hadn't been cancelled I'm not sure that Team LoweRiders (TLR) would have made an appearance, but it was, so we did with more than 15 racers, and I'm glad we did because Mike Kuhn and the guys put on an awesome event. The festival was held at the Oesterling's Farm in Marysville, PA and consisted of a night time trial (NTT) (team or solo) on Friday night, endurance event (9-hour solo or 12-hour relay) on Saturday, and a short track race on Sunday. There really isn't a better more versatile venue for a multiple day mountain bike race/festival. The NTT consisted of a twisty 6.5 mile loop with multiple low hanging branches, logs, and other various technical obstacles. The endurance loop was an 8 mile backwards hybrid of the NTT loop. And the short track was a 1 mile flat and fast loop around the camping and "festivities" area.

TLR's Tent City (located ~5 miles into the ~8 mile endurance loop)

TLR's "Pit"

Le Mans Start of the Endurance Event

Campbell, Ktown, and Bshow at the start

"Oddly" BShow was first to his bike and started the clock

AJoelsen and Ktown finding their bikes

Jason Grant after putting in a loop for his duo

Mr. Showers Spectating in the shade from the pit

BShow and Adam calling it a day after six laps each in the 9-hour solo

The short track crew before the race

Ktown railing a corner

BShow, me, and Adam taking the same corner

TLR participants and results are listed below:

Night Time Trial:

Bill Showers - Fourth Place, Solo Men
Michael Campbell - Seventh Place, Solo Men
John Engle - Thirteenth Place, Solo Men
Travis Cardoza - Fifteenth Place, Solo Men
Kevin Mertz - Seventeenth Place, Solo Men
Ron and Kathleen Harding - First Place, Duo Coed

Endurance Event:

Bill Federer - Eigth Place, Solo Men
Travis Cardoza - Fourteenth Place, Solo Men
Bill Showers - Nineteenth Place, Solo Men
Adam Joelsson - Twentieth Place, Solo Men
Michael Campbell - Twenty-Second Place, Solo Men
Kevin Mertz - Twenty-Seventh Place, Solo Men
John Engle - Thirty-First Place, Solo Men
Martin Eckberg - Second Place, Solo Masters Men
Jessica Eckberg - Fourth Place, Solo Women
Ron and Kathleen Harding - First Place, Duo Coed
Jason Grant and Dan Joelsson - Seventh Place, Duo Men
Dan Williams, Toni Ogborn, and Joel Flambaum - Fourth Place, Trio Coed
Tommy Oneil, John Plewa, and "He who shall not be named because he rides for bikeline" - Second Place, Trio Master Men

Short Track

Ron Harding - Seventh Place, Expert Men
Bill Showers - Ninth Place, Expert Men
Adam Joelsson - Fourteenth Place, Expert Men
Kathleen Harding - Third Place, Expert Women

That is quite enough (can't wait until next year),


Monday, June 22, 2009

Vitamin D Feels Good...

Its finally sunny today...for now. The sun is out and it feels good, but I find myself constantly checking the horizon for the inevitable black rain clouds. My handy-dandy weather channel desktop updater (getting my weather from a "faceless" entity somehow makes it less frustrating when its wrong 90% of the time) is predicting partly cloudy skies for most of the week with isolated thunderstorms 2-3 days this week. Hopefully this will be one of those 10% instances where the meteorological shamans at are correct. In any event the partly cloudy skies should give the trails some time to dry out. Which will be nice for this weekend's Mountain Bike Festival in Marysville, PA. I'm not exactly sure how to prepare for an endurance event like the 12-hour relay. But there will be plenty of LoweRiders there to help out all around so it should be fine.

We'll see...


Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Just Waved at Noah...

The weather "mystics" were calling for scattered thunderstorms today (Saturday), and so it rained for eight straight hours. It wasn't just drizzling for eight hours, it rained...with intermittent periods where it poured. The meteorologists' [what a freaking joke that occupation is] magic eight balls must all be on the fritz lately, and by lately I mean a little period I like to call 2009.

I'm going to start gathering woodland creatures in pairs...just in case...

I'm starting to feel like the little girl in "All Summer in a Day."

Remember that story from elementary school?

Man the rain is messing with my head.

Ktown and I are talking about moving to Seattle because its sunnier there.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

...come on back another day, which, if the first six months of 2009 are any indication will undoubtedly be a Wednesday since it literally has rained 90% of 2009's Wednesdays. What is the deal with rainy Wednesdays?!? If the team ride wasn't on Wednesday night I obviously wouldn't care much, but it is, so I do, and so it rains...every...single...Wednesday. Maybe we should switch the team ride night to Thursday to see if the black cloud of ride ruining rain repositions itself righteously on Thursday [alliteration cha cha cha...]. Actually it pretty much rains all the time in Southeastern PA now. I must have missed the memo, but apparently southeastern PA is currently Seattle, weather wise anyway. The team didn't even try to ride last night. We made the decision fairly early on to forgo the ride in favor of going to Sly Fox for dinner. Ktown, Campbell, BShow, Newbie Jim, and I had a nice dinner. The Keeb, his lady friend Kim, and a couple of their friends showed up later. The evening was still fun, if soggy.

Looking forward to sunshine and dry trails,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour de Tykes (a.k.a. Danville) Race Report

It's been a while since I've posted a race report. To my adoring fan I apologize (Sorry B). To my detractors (i.e., Campbell) I humbly say, "Shut your hole or do it yourself ." Anyway...

Sunday June 7, 2009 marked the 4th race in the MASS XC series; the fabled Tour de Tykes race in Danville, PA. The racing field was definitely smaller this year than in past years, which is especially odd considering that the temperature this year at 80 degrees was 21 degrees cooler (yeah that's right 21 degrees) than last year's race temperature and last year's race was one of the most attended Danville has ever seen. June 7, 2009 was also the day of the "Philly Bike Race," and the associated party, which probably accounts for a large portion of the absent racers.

In any event, Team LoweRiders again fielded a strong group of racers. Most TLR racers traveled to Danville the day before the race and camped at Hess field in anticipation of participating in the "Hess Fest", which will hitherto be referred to as the Hess Unfest as aside from the camping racers there really wasn't anyone else around "festing". We "carbo-loaded," hung out, ate dinner, worked on our rigs, and Ktown and Sandra danced on stage with the Salamanders (click here for more information/incriminating evidence on that little tid bit). A fun time was had by all.

I have to give the Salamanders credit; no one, I mean no one, was watching them, and they just kept on rocking. That takes an extra special kind of self-delusion and for that I applaud them.

We could not have asked for better camping weather, cool, comfortable, quiet, and flat. The race course, however, was anything but flat. With 3,600 ft. of climbing over the 18 mile Exlite/Expert course, I found myself wondering if the race promoters had actually ever ridden the race course (it turns out they have/had) because of how difficult it was. Riding a single-speed I also found myself playing a little game I'll refer to as, "What I Would Give Right Now for Gears". Kidney? Sure why not I've got two anyway. Fingers? Okay, technically I only need a couple on each hand to pull the break lever and hold the bar. Left testicle? Well, Lance seems to be doing alright with one and my knees and back are killing me, give me the knife I'll do it myself. Uhuh...

Aside from the relentless climbing the course was awesome and the race was well run. TLR's results are provided below.

Podium Finishers:

Ron Harding - First Place, Expert Singlespeed Open (Hmmmm...)
Adam Joellsson - Third Place, Expert Singlespeed Open (Nice work, nice work...)
Kathleen Harding - First Place, Elite Women (Yeah!, money, money...)
Daniel Stein - Third Place, Sport Junior - 18 & Under (Dan has been tearing it up.)
Dan Dix - First Place, Sport Senior II Men - 30-34 (You are such a freaking sandbagger, man up already...)
Michael Campbell - Second Place, Sport Senior II Men - 30-34 (Nice work Campbell, seriously though shut your hole.)
Linda Mattioni - First Place, Sport Women I - 19-34 (Since you finished smiling and confessing that it was, "easy," me thinks a female sandbagger is amongst us.)
Douglas Morrell - Second Place, Sport Singlespeed Open (Nice work man keep it up.)
Jason Koenig - Third Place, Sport Singlespeed Open (Jay is new and already tearing it up.)


Bill Showers - Tenth Place, Elite Open (Tenth place elite, freaking-a right!)
Larry Distefano - Eighth Place, Expert Master 1 Men 45-49 (Master Experts are inspiring.)
Steve Collina - Sixth Place, Sport Veteran II Men (Too bad you're too old to race in Sport Senior II, yet another reason not to get old.)
Joel Flambaum - Eighteenth Place, Sport Veteran II Men (Way to bump up to sport buddy, keep it up.)
Gary Witmer - Eighth Place, Sport Clydesdale Men (Nice work man.)
Jason Vliet - Thirteenth Place, Sport Clydesdale Men (Jason's from Ithaca, NY always a trooper.)
James Brower - Fourth Place, Beginner Senior I Men 19-29 (Newbie...camped and raced, diving right in.)

Those that DNF'd:

Todd Strauss (a.k.a. El Presidente)


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Iron Hill Race Report

Team LoweRiders (TLR) had another good showing at MASS Race "No. 4" (Its actually No. 3 as French Creek was postponed) Iron Hill on May 31, 2009. Fielding 25 racers and several podium finishes, (TLR) continues its unofficial quest for the Cannondale Team Cup overall victory for large teams. The weather mystics were calling for perfect weather all weekend, and so, to no one's surprise it poured rain for an hour and a half directly before the Beginner/Enduro start. The trails were ridden dry throughout the day and by the time the Elite/Expert riders were let loose they were more or less dry.

Bottom line, we tore it up. Results from the race are as follows:

Podium Finishes:

Steven Havrilla - First Place, Beginner Senior II Men
Michael Campbell - Second Place, Sport Senior II Men
John Plewa - First Place, Sport Veteran II Men
Linda Mattioni - First Place, Sport Women I
Douglas Morrel - First Place, Sport Singlespeed
Ron Harding - First Place, Expert Singlespeed
Adam Joelssen - Third Place, Expert Singlespeed
Kathleen Harding - Second Place, Elite Women
Bill Showers - Third Place, Enduro Men


Daniel Stein - Fifth Place, Sport Juni0r
Mike Patton - Eigth Place, Sport Senior II Men
Neil Young - Eleventh Place, Sport Senior II Men
Danny Deao - Fourteenth Place, Sport Veteran I Men
Steven Collina - Fifth Place, Sport Veteran II Men
Kevin Mertz - Eleventh Place, Sport Master I Men
Travis Cordoza - Fifth Place, Sport Singlespeed
Bud Mauger - Seventh Place, Sport Singlespeed
Gary Whitemer - Fourth Place, Sport Clydesdale
Jason Grant - Eigth Place, Sport Clydesdale
Jason Vliet - Fourteenth Place, Sport Clydesdale
Jason Matthews - Sixteenth Place, Expert Senior Men
Nicholas Cappriotti - Tenth Place, Expert Singlespeed
John Engle - Twelth Place, Enduro Men
Daniel Joelsson - Nineteenth Place, Enduro Men

Those that DNF'd:

Larry Distefano

Pictures of the race can be found here:



Monday, May 4, 2009

Escape from Granogue "Race" Report

The second "race" in the MASS series was yesterday.  Escape from Granogue, as it is appropriately known, is historically one of the more difficult races in the series.  Yesterday was no exception.  The weather has been uncooperative around here lately.  It rained more or less all week leading up to the "race", heavy the day before, and even heavier the day of.  The sport riders got at least one good lap in while the trails were still trails, but by the time the Expert/Elite riders were let loose only ~2.5 miles of the 7 mile loop were even remotely rideable.  The remaining miles were a heavy, cakey, muddy, swamp...hike.  

Its taking all of the restraint that I can muster to keep this blog post from dripping with contempt for the "race" promoter and/or bristling with expletives about how the "race" should have been cancelled.  Suffice it to say that the situation of the Granogue "race" was...regrettable, and the "race" promoter's decision not to cancel the "race" was...unfortunate.

Despite the unfathomably horrible conditions, Team LoweRiders fielded a respectable team.  Some of us did very well, the rest of us didn't finish.  Results from the "race" are as follows:

Podium Finishes:

Sport Senior II - Dan Dix, First Place
Sport Veteran II - John Plewa, Third Place
Sport Women I - Linda Mattioni, First Place
Sport Single Speed Open - Douglas Morrell, First Place
Beginner Junior III - Daniel Stein, First Place


Elite Open - Bill Showers, Eleventh Place (a.k.a. BShow)
Sport Senior I - Michael Wells, Fifteenth Place (a.k.a. Wellsy)
Sport Senior I - Mike Trahey, Sixteenth Place
Sport Veteran I - Danny Deao, Seventh Place 
Sport Single Speed Open - Bud Mauger, Seventh Place
Sport Women I - Jessica Eckberg, Fourth Place

Those that DNF'd:

Ron Harding
Kathleen Harding
Adam Joelssen
Todd Strauss
Michael Campbell
Steve Collina
Martin Eckberg

(If I missed anybody I apologize.)


Monday, April 27, 2009

I Want to Like Granogue I Really Do...I Just Don't

Saturday morning Ktown, Campbell, and me, got up early (well earlier than normal) at 6:50AM hopped in the weekend mobile, as it has become affectionately known, and zoomed off to French Creek for the Saturday morning group ride.  As usual we had to make the requisite, "we're running about 10 minutes late" call to BShow, even though we more or less organized the ride, and we're (read I'm) the reason the ride time was earlier than normal.  BShow shows-up to rides 10-15 minutes early even though he lives in Jersey and its a 1.5 hour drive to French Creek from his Jersey abode (Dix was early too, but he told us he wasn't showing up till 9:00AM so I don't feel bad about making him wait).  When all were present and accounted for, six of us (Ktown, Campbell, BShow, Dix, JMatt, and I) rolled out of the parking lot heading for the Miller's Point side of the park.  We always do the Miller's Point loop first, not so much because its a good warm-up loop, but because its fun and it sucks to do it tired.  After that we headed into the park to "pre-ride" this year's race loop (shhhhhh!!), or at least as much as we thought we knew about this year's race loop.  We picked up Patton along the way somewhere and then the group was seven.  

Though the pace was moderate people were dropping like flies.  Dix had to bail early because he was helping his Dad collect some "free heat" (i.e., fire wood for the winter).  They were gathering wood early this year in an attempt to avoid the hottest summer days.  Ironically, Pennsylvania is having a freak April heat wave and Saturday's high was 91 degrees, imagine that.  Campbell, had been having a rough ride all morning and was fed-up with "swimming up stream" and bailed soon after Dix.  Sometimes you just have bad days.  Patton disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared earlier in the ride.  And after the gruesome Blue downhill (which has no business being part of any "race" course) developed a severe hop in his front wheel and bailed because he felt a taco was imminent.  Then there were three: the unlikely trio of Ktown, JMatt, and I were left to finish the race loop as the mercury continued to rise.  

All in all the ride was great and conditions were perfect.  Ktown, Campbell, and I were able to leave in just enough time to meet my father back at the house and continue work on the two-year bathroom/laundry/hallway remodeling effort.  We've made a lot of progress, but there is still much to do.  I'm looking forward to a day when I can relieve myself without having to walk upstairs first.

With Monday morning here I'm thinking often of the approaching "Escape from Granogue" race.  I'm not exactly looking forward to it.  I want to like Granogue I really do...I just don't.  I don't know what exactly it is about the race that I don't like.  Its held in memory of a former friend of the race organizer and of cycling in general, its raced on some very nice trails, and its hard; all good things.  I usually like the harder courses (i.e., Danville, French Creek, etc.).  I think my dislike of the race has to do with its relatively early placement in the series schedule (its the second race), and the fact that the trails are off limits until race day.  I don't know the trails, and I don't like not knowing the trails.  Its fear of the unknown I guess.  In any case, we will race it, and regardless of the outcome it will be a fun time spent with the team.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Race Report, Something Funny, and Something Sincere

Race Report
Sunday April 20, 2009 was the official kick-off of the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Super Series (MASS) with the Bike Line Fair Hill Classic Mountain Biking Race [Some will say that MASS was kicked of with the International Intergalactic Global Open Mountain Bike Team Relay Championship of the Universe Including the Anti-Matter One. (There, That Should About Cover It.), IIGOMBTRCUIAMO(TTSACI) for "short".  I scoff at these people.  Scoff, scoff...].  Anyway, The 7.5 mile loop (1 lap for Beginners, 2 laps for Sport, 3 laps for Expert/Elite) took racers through ripping and rolling, smooth single track.  The weather held out and conditions were perfect.  The soil was tacky and firm.  Former six-time world champions were present.  Lap times were crazy-fast. 

Team LoweRiders (TLR) started their bid for the 2009 MASS Large Team Cup win right proffering 27 racers.  TLR’s presence was felt on the podium as well, with no less than 8 podium finishes ranging from Junior Beginner to the Expert level.  TLR entered their first racer in the Elite category as well (yeah BShow!), and although he toed the line straddling a single speed on a more or less flat course, he finished in the money in 18th place.  Brews and burgers afterwards.

Podium finishes were as follows:

Beginner Junior III - Daniel Stein, First Place
Beginner Senior II - Seven Havrilla, First Place
Sport Senior II Men - Michael Campbell, Third Place (a.k.a. CBell)
Sport Veteran II Men - John Plewa, Third Place
Sport Women I - Kathleen Harding, (a.k.a. KTown) First Place
Sport Women I - Linda Mattioni, Third Place
Sport Single Speed Open - Douglas Morrell, Third Place
Expert Single Speed Open - Ron Harding (a.k.a. Ronaldo), Second Place

All other participant finishes were as follows:

Beginner Veteran II Men - Joel Flambaum, Seventh Place
Sport Senior II Men - Ted Harlan, Seventh Place
Sport Veteran I Men - Thomas W O’Neil (a.k.a. Tommy O), 10th Place
Sport Veteran I Men - Danny Deao, 23rd Place
Sport Veteran I Men - Todd Strauss (a.k.a. El Presidente), 34th Place
Sport Veteran II Men - Steven Collina, 13th Place
Sport Master I Men - Kevin Mertz, Sixth Place
Sport Master I Men - John McLeod, 23rd Place
Sport Master II Men - Nick Nudy, 16th Place
Sport Women I - Jessica Ekberg, Fourth Place
Sport Single Speed Open - Bud Mauger, 14th Place
Sport Clydesdale - Jason Vliet, Ninth Place
Elite Open - Bill Showers (a.k.a. BShow), 18th Place
Expert Senior Men - Jason Matthews (a.k.a. JMatt), 14th Place
Expert Senior Men - John Engle, 20th Place
Expert Master I Men - Martin Eckberg, Eighth Place
Expert Master I Men - Larry Distefano, 12th Place
Expert Single Speed Open - Adam Joelsson, 7th Place
Expert Single Speed Open - Nick Capriotti, 9th Place

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the racing season.  We've got a good team this year made up of some great people (that's not the something sincere, wait for it...).

Something Funny
Ktown's birthday was yesterday, woohoo!  Happy Birthday Ktown!!  In light of that fine occasion here are some not so funny jokes and interested facts about redheads (for Ktown is a redhead...).

Q. How do you get a redhead to argue with you?
A. Say something

Q.  How do you get a redhead to change her mind?
A. Wait ten minutes

I know, I know the jokes are horrible.

Interesting facts about redheads:

Something Sincere
[Warning the following language contains subject matter that may be hard for some to read.  It contains sincere, heart-felt, "mushy" acknowledgements from a husband to his wife.  It will be short, I promise.  Yes - I am prepared to take any subsequent ball-busting that results.]

I (Ronaldo) am happily married to Ktown.  We've been married for the last 5 years.  And I gotta say:

Babe, the last five years have been an awesome adventure.  I feel lucky to have shared it with you.  I feel blessed to have you as a part of my life and for the opportunity to be a part of yours.  I can't wait for the rest of the adventure to unfold.  Happy 29.

Much love,


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One Less than Originally Intended

Last night, I forwent a ride with some of the guys from the team atWissahickon and opted instead to ride with the lovely K-town at Marsh Creek.  I was tired from my lunchtime ride but conditions were almost perfect and K-town was excited.  I just got my 29er back from the shop and was feeling pretty good.  K-town was killing me as she was fresh and has been bouncing around lately with excitement due to her recent return to activity from 7-10 days of being on the DL list (Dr.'s orders).  The ride was fun and basically uneventful until I tried to ride the only log ride Marsh Creek has to offer.  Not to be boastful, but let me preface this by saying I've ridden this log without incident several times before.  Obviously, that was not the case this time.  I approached the log thinking, "This should be fun, I haven't ridden this log in a while, it looks clean, the approach is smooth, should be no problem."  On the log I was thinking, "Nice work Ronaldo, this log is in the bag, you've kept your momentum up, no slips, first try, nice job."  These positive thoughts were immediately interrupted by my face and chest meeting the log with enough force to knock the wind out of me.  I haven't had the wind knocked out of me since I was a kid, I don't remember it being such an unpleasant sensation, but it sure was unpleasant.  
I wasn't hurt but my bike did suffer a casualty.  I broke the rear brake lever.  So, I finished the ride with only a front brake.  Riding a single-speed with only a front brake is an unusual sensation.  You need to keep your momentum up (because you only have one gear), but not too much (because you have one less brake than originally intended and you don't want to become a permanent fixture of that tree).  Overall the ride was great and riding with 50% less braking power wasn't too weird.  By the end of the ride I didn't even notice except for the downhills, flats, corners, rollies, jumps or anywhere where there were roots, rocks, mud, or dirt.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Its Been a Long the way I Hate March

To all of my endearing fans, my humblest and most sincere apologies for not posting for more than a month.  And since I am the only one that follows this blog regularly my apology is hereby accepted, and further I plan to buy myself an ice cream later today just to show there's no hard feelings.  

I also apologize that this blog post concerns something that pisses me off (again I hereby forgive me).  Those of you who know me won't be surprised and will read this post without so much as a second thought because you know that most things, if not all things, tend to piss me off, or at the very least ruffle my feathers.  What, you may be wondering, is this thing that is so infuriating that I should call it out specifically from the underlying background of irritation that is the world around me?  In a word...March.  

That's right March.  I hate March.  If the day of your birth happens to fall within this cursed month I feel for you I really do, but I can't help the fact that your parents were bored in June.

What is the deal with March anyway?  Its a winter month.  No, no wait its really a spring month.  But wait no its really a winter month, but with sun that's not really warm, and the nagging possibility for below freezing nocturnal temperatures.  The flowers are starting to come up and the trees are budding, but there's still the outside chance that it could freak snow like a foot, and then melt the next day.  March is by its very nature frenetic at best.  

For a Pennsylvania mountain biker who is trying to sharpen his fitness for the commencement of the racing season in April it sucks.  We just got over ~six months of dreary winter weather.  I'm suffering from cabin fever, tired of riding the trainer, and looking to shed some layers, I want to ride my bike in shorts and short sleeves and not have to worry about being blown off my bike, off the road, or into oncoming traffic, but I can't because March can't make up its mind about whether its the commencement of spring or the last hurrah for winter.  The wind alone is enough to make me put my road bike down until May.  It may just be me but I don't enjoy pedaling as hard as I can to go downhill.  Aren't downhills for coasting?

Beware the ides of March,


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

5-Minute Recap of the Last Two Weeks

Ready, set, go...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 some members of Team LoweRiders (TLR) met some members of Cradles to Canes at Marsh Creek for that rare unicorn of winter night rides, the snow ride.  Conditions were pretty much perfect, and even better when I realized that lower tire pressure may make turning and climbing much easier and therefore much more fun.  Great fun was had by all.  Pizza, wings, and beer at Foster Boys after.

The following weekend Campbell, K-town, and me rode Fair Hill and White Clay.  We met JMatt, BShow, one of his college buddies, and couple of his friends for a 3-plus-hour tour of Fair Hill on Saturday.  And unlike that most famous 3-hour tour we didn't get lost...almost.  We have finally learned a decent loop at Fair Hill that is long and includes most of the good trails that Fair Hill has to offer.  And it only took us a year to learn it.

Sunday, Campbell, K-town, and me went to White Clay and rode almost every trail that the park has to offer.  We now know this place inside out...pretty much.  

Trainer, trainer, trainer...

The following Wednesday it rained/iced/sleeted like three inches of bullet proof crap which just recently melted...for the most part.  

Trainer, trainer, trainer, treadmill (WTF!)...

Its now Tuesday February 3, 2009 and is currently snowing on top of the bullet proof crap that didn't melt over the weekend.

Trainer, trainer, trainer, treadmill, Spring...


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

The time has finally come to set aside the things of the past and move on to fresh beginnings.

My helmet and I have been through a lot. It's the first helmet that was truly mine and mine alone. We've enjoyed college rides in Vermont, trips to California, and my first official MASS season to name a few. Though the padding was lost years ago, it smelled, was ugly, and didn't really fit properly ever; I didn't care it was my helmet, and it has brought me through many a scary and precarious fall, "safely".

I have much to look forward to, a grueling season of expert racing, a spiffy new bike (known as the "Tanginer" by my beloved teammates) and finally, freaking FINALLY a brand-spanking new helmet.

It's shiny, has pads, doesn't smell, and comes complete with a new fangled adjustment thingy so that it actually fits.

It really is the simple things in life...


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Got Snuggie?

A quick note about our usual Wednesday night ride...

It was damn cold!

We managed to persuade c-bell to come out of the house from beneath his snuggie, sipping his hot cocoa and join us. Glad he did!

Nice little post ride gathering at Victory... it was a much needed a change of scenery.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dreary Pennsylvania Winter Weather Leads to My Recent Love Affair with Coach Troy Jacobson

I’m a mountain biker, but due to time and seasonal trail restraints I do most of my training on the road. I also own a trainer, but let me say that like most avid cyclists I despise my trainer. My hatred for static rear wheel trainers and rolling trainers alike is a bottomless pit of loathing and abhorrence. Prior to this year I considered trainers to be the dainty tools of fair weather riders, and would only hang my head in shame and not ride outside (on the road) if it was torrentially down pouring, sleeting, there was snow or ice actually on the roadway, the wind was enough to knock me off of my bike or into oncoming traffic, and/or the temperature was sustained below 15 degrees F. During the 2007/2008 winter, I thought that trainers were for riders who lived in subarctic or arctic areas where snow was prevalent more than 180 days a year and riding outside during the winter not only was no fun, but presented a liability both to one’s safety and sanity. I looked down my proverbial nose at people who could ride outside but voluntarily chose not to because it was too wet, too cold, too windy, or their winter bike was in the shop. My mindset has changed somewhat for the 2008/2009 winter.

While I have toughened my dedication to cycling for 2009 I’ve also simultaneously softened my approach. I don’t need to ride if its only slightly raining, I don’t need to ride if its only blowing sustained winds of 17 mph and only gusting to 25 mph, and I don’t need to ride if its only 17 degrees F (I’ve raised my road riding temperature limit 10 degrees to a balmy 25 degrees F). You may ask, what has caused this change, this apparent softening, this base erosion of my previous training habits, after all for the bargain basement price of $639.99 I can own an Assos jacket (and bibs for an additional $450.00) designed for riding in temperatures from -7 degrees to 4 degrees, is waterproof yet breathable, dead sexy, and capable of girding me for riding in any inclement riding conditions mother nature can throw at me? One name, Troy Jacobson and his Spinerval workouts.

My buddy Chuck has for years told me that Spinervals provided a way for him to stay sharp throughout the “off season” (Chuck lives in Seward, Alaska, if we were to look at a year of weather in Seward, Alaska I’m fairly certain we would conclude that there isn’t really an “on season”). Anyway, chuck would laude the difficulty level, power generation, and overall conditioning that the Spinerval workouts would provide. He told me that he couldn’t finish the first Spinerval workout he’d tried, an important tidbit that I unceremoniously ignored as he is an endurance racer. He “enjoys” 24-hour races, 100 milers, and other such insanities. I’d tell him if I wanted to live like a hamster, I’d round out my house’s hallways, build a giant wheel in my bedroom, sleep on wood shavings, or buy a treadmill.

However, I recently succumbed to the peer pressure of two fellow teammates, dusted off my trusty loathsome trainer, and met them for a training session. I figured what the heck, I’ve already ridden once today, how hard could it be, at least you’re riding with people, you can talk. In retrospect there wasn’t very much talking. We popped in Spinervals 1.0 – No Slackers Allowed and spent the next 50 minutes thrashing our legs into pulp. I was able to do all intervals as instructed (barely), complete the workout (again barely), and I didn’t throw up (threes a charm now, barely). Since then I’ve done two more Spinerval workouts. I don’t admit being wrong easily, especially when it concerns Chuck, but I hereby stand corrected. Spinervals are great and they make the trainer not only bearable but transform it into a winter training asset.

In light of the recent change in my training mindset that allows me to avoid the weather and still ride hard, I’d like to thank Coach Troy Jacobson for the extremely hard interval workouts that make me feel like I’m on the high school track team again, and for the quasi knock-off, eighties glam band elevator music that numbs the conscious mind (while piercing the unconscious mind with the equivalent of an acoustic ice pick) making the tough intervals that much easier. Here’s to you Troy.



say cheese!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holiday Break Numero Dos Ride Report

Mountain Bike Tour of the Tri-State Area

In my earlier mountain biking years my riding buddies and I (i.e., Chuck and Dan) rode one place primarily, French Creek State Park in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Sure we would occassionally take the shorter trip to Marsh Creek and ride those (then) greasy, overgrown, hive inducing (for me anyway) trails, but given the necessary 3-hour block of time required to get a decent ride in at French Creek we would always opt to go and thrash our rigid, trash-picked mountain bikes, sans helmets (our heads were a lot harder back then), on the jarring technical trails of French Creek. And while I do still love me some Turtle Trail or Millers' Point riding, I've ridden French Creek enough for 5 mountain biker's lifetimes. So, when I find myself with 4 or 5 frozen days, as I did recently during the second half of my 2008 holiday break, I (and subsequently those who are with me) are more inclined to go elsewhere for our riding fix.

The 2008 racing season opened my eyes to all of the other wonderful "local" places there are to ride in the immediate tri-state area (Editor's note: tri-state area refers to PA, MD, and DE, NJ is not nor will ever be listed in the tri-state riding area for one very simple yet pervasive reason - Jersey blows. Sad but true, sorry BShow.) In light of this, K-town, Campbell, and I, along with other occasional team riders including BShow, TStrauss, Camden, Double D, and Nick Cappriotti, rode all of the "other" (i.e., not French Creek, Marsh Creek, or Downingtown) riding locations worth visiting within a 1-hour drive (the list is pretty short and includes: Fair Hill, Wissahickon, Brandywine, and White Clay/Judge Morris/Middle Run).

New Year's Eve at Brandywine (Delaware)
(Pre-rant disclaimer: I have yet to see the good riding that Brandyine has to offer. I'm told its really good if you know where to go.) New year's eve, K-town and I decided to wait around all day for Campbell to get done working before riding Brandywine in the afternoon/evening. In retrospect this was totally retarded. It seemed like a good idea, given that Campbell works literally 6 mintues from the Brandywine trail head and he "knows" the trails, and that K-town had ridden with Campbell and BShow at Brandywine a week previous and came home with a positive report. She's really nice, bless her heart. Those who know me will tell you that I'm not nice at all. Case in point, the Brandywine ride totally sucked. Campbell was detained at work past a time that made sense for us to wait for him, so we soldiered on without him. K-town lead with fuzzy trail knowledge from the ride the week before. To her credit she did great recreating the ride that Campbell had constructed previously. It was the trails/loop/ride that sucked. It consisted of thirteen miles of 95% gravel path, paved road, farm road, and open field trail. Picture mountain biking across the frozen Siberian tundra, that was Brandywine. The 5% percent of single track that we did ride was okay, but not great, and certainly not worth the hour drive to the trail. You'll have to slip me a roofie and shanghai me A-Team/BA style to Delaware to get me to ride Brandywine again without video proof that the trails don't totally suck.

I was left questioning why anyone would ride there more than once. It wasn't a total waste though as I ran into a guy who told me about a Fair Hill ride the next day.

New Year's Day Fair Hill Ride - Maryland Awesomeness Revisited
I can't get enough of this place lately. We've streamlined our driving route so that it actaully takes less time to get here than to French Creek. I feel like I've been missing out not going here more over the past few years. Campbell, K-town, Double D (who is actually a severely flat chested guy), and I met up with the DE Trail Spinners. The group slowly split apart until it was just us and Chris (a.k.a. Possum). The ride was essentially a guided mountain bike tour of the best that Fair Hill has to offer. We rode long and hard. Possum was great. He's fast and knows the trails backwards and forwards. We need to learn this place. Its too good not to ride more often.

Virgin Trip to Wissahickon
Like Brandywine I've heard good things about Wissahickon but my experience was limited to a single trail run two years ago. So, the day after new years K-town, Campbell, and I met BShow at Valley Green to see what Wissahickon has to offer. BShow has ridden at Wissahickon a couple of times but none of us really know the trails. 10 minutes in I was gearing myself up for another Brandywine-esque disaster. We started from the Valley Green parking lot, crossed the river, and headed west on the north side of the park. A mile in we hit a dead-end and turned around and headed east. From there we essentially just took whatever direction we felt like at each crossing. We eventually made it to Rittenhouse Town 4.5 miles in and were feeling like we were tired of milling around without a known loop. But behold!!! From out of nowhere as if descended from heaven Nick Cappriotti (who rides Wiss literally everyday) came rolling out the woods. We hooked up with him for the remainder of the ride and ended up doing an awesome 15 mile loop. We'll definitely go back. We finished up with good eats and beer from the Manayunk Brew Pub. Awesome.

Sunday Group Ride at White Clay
The riding area collectively known as White Clay is ridiculously awesome. Its like the moutain biking Garden of Eden. Its not particularly challenging and doesn't provide the greatest workout unless your hauling, but it is the most fun you'll have on a mountain bike...guaranteed. Again, K-town, Campbell, and I hooked-up with members of the Guy's Racing Team, the DE Trail Spinners, and other TBR/TLR riders including Camden, Patton, TStrauss, Collina, and Tommy O, and went for one of the most fun 2.5 hour rides you can expect this time of year. The name of the game at White Clay is how fast can you go without touching your brakes or wrapping yourself around a tree? Sweet, just plain sweet.

(Editor's note: Patton show up on time, in you're gear, with your bike ready to ride. Just sayin...)

That's enough,


P.S. Todd I love Mexican but I prefer burritos.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome Back!

Tacos Anyone?

This was the Welcome back ride. Exactly 1 month and 1 day since I last clipped in… First ride of the New Year! Welcome back Todd. Welcome back Camdiddy from what I can only imagine was the most moving trip ever. Welcome back to White Clay… a little slice of heaven just south of home. Huge group. From the team – Patton, Ronaldo, K-town, C-bell, Keeb, DocC and camdiddy to name a few… some Guy’s were there as well as some awesome locals that led the way. From what I hear it was a 3 hour tour…
while the groups ride over all was nothing like the most famous 3 hour tour of all,

mine had a similar result.

Not sure exactly how it all happened. These wheels have seen some of the toughest, rockiest, rootiest singletrack around a la French Creek, yet just 30 minutes into the ride on the most pristine singletrack known to man, I blew a tire off the rim, taco’d my wheel, and snapped the body of my break lever. It was a very nice walk back to the car, I must admit.

Welcome back. Here’s looking forward to a great season!