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!