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.