Wednesday, September 28, 2011

until next year...

Kingdom Trails 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Division: Expert Singlespeed Open
PlaceNameTeam NameBibLapsTotalLap 1Lap 2Lap 3Lap 4
1Nick McCormickTRESTLE BRIDGE RACING184241:56:400:11:310:33:450:35:170:36:07
2Charles Kline 171041:58:180:11:530:35:090:35:350:35:41
3SCOTT GREENSPUD RACING11841:59:060:12:050:34:570:35:420:36:22
4BILL FEDERERTRESTLE BRIDGE RACING14242:01:390:11:550:36:340:36:480:36:22
5JOHN ROONEY 12742:10:110:12:270:38:200:39:530:39:31
6ERIC NEFFERDORFWOODEN WHEELS RACING53242:15:570:13:160:39:360:40:490:42:16

New team issue Dickies are on order...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Love/Hate French Creek Pick One (Oh, and Racing with Teammates)

This blog post will not be particularly interesting, insightful, or humorous. Largely because I'm not feeling particularly interesting, insightful, or humorous. In fact, in the two days since the French Creek race I've been feeling rather listless and more than a little unmotivated. Too hard an effort? Probably. Meh...

I love and hate French Creek. Always have. Both are true, sometimes on the same ride. Like many others in the Pennsylvania/Maryland/Delaware mountain biking community (see one blog-post down), French Creek was the first area that I rode regularly after "discovering" mountain biking as an adolescent. (My first ride at French Creek was on a too-big burnished chrome Ross Mt. Hood that my mother pulled out of the trash. Sans helmet of course. I was an invincible teenager after all.) If you can regularly conjure the elusive rhythm necessary to flow through a ride on the French Creek trails I congratulate you and am a little jealous. For you are a better rider than I. Finding that rhythm was not a regular occurrence for me back then and still isn't. Finding it during a race, all but impossible. If you can find it though, if you can unlock the rocks, if only once in a great while, riding at French Creek is awesome and will bring you back again and again. (In fact one summer as a sophomore in college I rode French Creek literally everyday for like three months. I never spent so much on replacement parts as I did that summer. I think I went through three SRAM 9.0 derailleurs in three weeks). French creek is at the top of the list of places that people say is great to ride, but not so great to race. I totally agree. This Sunday's race was probably the hardest XC length race I've yet participated in. For those interested, a race report follows:

Kathleen, Patton, and me along with relative newbies Mike O'Connor and Jeff Stephens pre-rode the course (shh, don't tell) the Tuesday night before the race, which may not have been a good idea in this case. The course difficulty revealed by the pre-ride did nothing for my race confidence and I think Katheen and I were both looking at the race as something that needed to be done rather than something we were looking forward to doing. I warmed up well, lined up on the far right side of the course, the only single speed in the elite field as has become the norm, and when the sadistic course designer yelled "go" I got out uncharacteristically well. For a brief moment at the start I was actually in second place behind Mr. Shalk himself having made a beeline for the tangent cutting across the entire elite field from right to left (I was most assuredly the only one that noticed). Once I ran out of gear, which happened almost immediately, I was passed by six riders (Fawley, Draugelius, Snyder, Schempf, Gamahno, and teammate Showers). Seventh into the single-track with a sizable gap between myself and eighth, with Schempf and Showers just ahead. I yo-yo'd off the back of Schempf and Showers for the better part of four miles until the first of what would be many climbs. Halfway up the climb my right foot started feeling a little loose. I reached down and felt my cleat and sure enough it was loose. I clipped back in and rode to the top of the climb where I planned to stop and fix it. When I unclipped to make the repair the cleat, shoe plate, and both screws came completely off and fell in the dirt. This constitutes my first ever race mechanical. (I still have never flatted during a race. That's right, I said it. I thumb my nose at the mountain biking deities.) I was very lucky that the cleat fell off right as I unclipped and simply lay in the dirt right where I stopped. It took me a couple of seconds to find all the bits, but soon I was sitting in the dirt next to the trail with both shoes off attempting to reattach the cleat to my shoe. In the minute or two that this act took seven riders passed me, seven! I went from seventh to fifteenth just like that. I thought about pulling the plug, but I felt okay and figured that a couple of people would bail, suffer mechanicals, or blow-up and I'd make up a few more spots and possibly finish in the top ten. So I put my head down and ramped it up a bit to catch back on. By half way through the first lap I had caught all seven riders except Yozell (ridiculously fast forty something year old WTS!?!) and had caught back up to Showers. In the meantime Snyder and Gamahno had both suffered mechanicals and bailed. So I was back in seventh. I rode with Showers and Yozell ever so briefly until I couldn't hang anymore. Soon after that I completely unraveled and resigned myself to trudging through the second lap in no-mans-land alone with my too tall gear (34x18, a bad decision born mostly from apathy earlier that morning as I couldn't get 34x19 to result in a chain-stay length I was happy with and so through in the towel after only one try) and my ever present thoughts of bailing. After riding back into seventh I couldn't bring myself to pull the plug . On the second lap I went over the bars, ran/walked/shuffled up two climbs, got caught and passed by Cameron Dodge (ridiculously fast teenager WTS!?!), re-caught Cameron Dodge, and continuously lamented my single-speed until the finish. Narrowly besting Dodge for seventh by a mere five seconds. French Creek 2011 taught me that I still love and hate French Creek, and that geared bicycles do indeed have a place in bike racing. I should probably think about getting one.

Did I enjoy the race? No, not really. Am I glad I finished? Yes, yes I am. Am I looking forward to next year's French Creek race? Meh...

In response to some post race discussions and emails, I had a whole blog-post drafted that explored the age old question of Nature (Showers) vs. Nurture (Harding) as it relates to racing mountain bikes, but decided to scrap it. The truth is that nobody (least of all Showers and Harding) really cares. Sure a friendly gentleman's rivalry fueled by a spirit of competition exists (after all we are both first born males from families with all male siblings, type A, highly competitive individuals, that have competed in endurance sports since high school). That's why we race down 322 on our single-speeds like we're leading out a field sprint and otherwise attempt to rip each other's legs off on Wednesday nights like a couple of tools. That rivalry makes all of this all that much more fun. At the end of the day though I think we both feel fortunate to occasionally find ourselves in the top ten (even more occasionally the top five) given the level of competition we take part in. The fact that there's a friendly face there wearing the same jersey is a bonus. That said, could either of us tell you who has won what and where the imaginary "count" lies? You bet your ass.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Traveling Through Time; Racing 'On the Rocks at French Creek'

I love French Creek State Park. This place has been a part of my life for as long as I care to remember. Looking back, Some of my fondest memories are of camping here with my father and my brothers. Throughout the nineties we camped here regularly, year round. As kids, we'd go for a hike and when I picked up running in High School, we'd explore at about 7:00 mile pace. As a young teen, it was awesome to be out there in the seemingly endless wilderness. The feeling of freedom I found while exploring these trails is a memory that remains fresh in my mind. My love of French Creek was forged in these explorations.

After High School, life took me in a different direction. The camping trips came to an end and it would be nearly a decade before I'd find my way back to French Creek. I'd long since hung up my racing shoes and I found myself yearning for a competitive outlet. Enter: cycling.

One day in the fall the fall of 2006, I walked into LoweRiders to change my life forever. I treated myself to a modest singlespeed 29er - a bright green Kona Unit 2-9. One of the first places I took that bike was to the trails of French Creek. I went there alone - which I never do, even to this day - as if to take a ride into my past. As I pedaled through the trails of my childhood, I brushed shoulders with my future. In a fleeting moment out there in the wilderness of French Creek that day, I found my true love...


I was perplexed about how nervous I felt Saturday morning. Kim reassured me, but that only helped marginally. The drive to the park was pure torture. When Kim joked that she might lose her breakfast, I chuckled nervously to downplay her nerves but secretly I thought the same thing. It wasn't until we got on our bikes that they subsided. After that, everything just felt right. Before Kim and I parted ways, we shared our good luck sentiments and reiterated our goals to finish the race in one piece.

On the start grid I found myself oddly relaxed as I sat upon my top tube, waiting for the green light. Marcus started his countdown; 3, 2, 1, GO! I had a decent start hitting the singletrack just inside the top ten.
(entering the Single track with Ron in tow)

For the first few miles, I felt great sitting in 5th place. Felt great, that is until I was on the rocks at French Creek - literally. At the bottom of a fast decent, I hit a rock garden with way too much speed. My bike went left, my body went right. I slid head first across some rocks while my bike came to rest upside down in the middle of the trail. It's too bad I didn't have a camera. All I've got to show for it are some nasty bruises and abrasions. Luckily the only thing that came home in two pieces was my bike... considering the speed at which I crashed, I'll gladly take the $50 replacement fee for this lever blade...
It took me a minute or so to collect myself, and get back on the bike. In the meantime the race was still going, Mike Yozell and Cameron Dodge caught up. Apparently I looked a bit disheveled because both of them kindly checked in to see if I was OK. Shook up, I persevered and rode with Mike for the rest of the first lap and part of the second. I don't think I ever fully regained my composure out there, and Mike's descending skills were way too hot for me to handle... On the second lap he rode away from me and I was relegated to sixth place for the day. I feel like I was very fortunate to have finished the race and the sixth place finish was a nice bonus.

Looking back on the day, I think Marcus designed the course this year with one intention: to punish people... I picture him sitting at a table on Wednesday night, with a beer in his hand saying: "eff em... I'm making this year the hardest yet." I think he succeeded...

Our Mother's Day recovery couldn't have been more perfect...
Hope you had a good one. I know we did.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wawayanda Spring Cleaning H2H series #1

The alarm went off at 5am. I really wished it hadn't... I loathe that cell phone jingle, alarm thing. I would have loved to stay in bed for a couple more hours, but no, that was not to be. I rolled over, stumbled out of bed and threw on the clothes I had laid out the previous night. I staggered around the house, searching for the kitchen and ultimately, some breakfast. I sourced some mediocre scrambled eggs, a nice buttered multi-grain bagel, a pint of OJ and a shitty cup of french press coffee - why can't I make a good cup of coffee anymore? I pinched my nose and pounded the coffee in an effort to jumpstart my race morning with some UCI legal stimulant.

I had just about everything I needed prepared and ready to go the night before. It's so nice - and so different from the norm - to not have to scramble the morning of a race. Apparently, some of the good in Kim is rubbing off on me. It's a damned good thing too... we needed to be on the road at 6. BP showed up in our driveway at quarter till.

The drive took us through scenic Bucks County and into the rolling hills of North Jersey. As we approached the venue, I marveled at the menacingly large hills and plentiful rocks. The terrain wasn't nearly what I was expecting, but I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting... Regardless, the landscape had my mind racing and my nerves churning. We arrived a full two hours early for Kim's race at 10:30. I knew she was a bundle of nerves being her first H2H race in years. Fortunately for her, relief was coming soon, whereas I needed to wrestle with mine for almost five hours before toeing the line. Some light hearted joking about Ron's amusing USAC license predicament helped pass the time. I also snuck away to catch Kim on her laps to give her a lil love.

(Kimmy racing up the double track)

Time for the Gun Fight.

Ron and I lined up on the front line wielding our knives - our rigid steel singlespeeds. Ron was the only familiar face in the crowd. I love that. I love to think that the other guys are grumbling about "the tools with rigid singles on the front line... they don't belong up there... they'll be out the back door... etc, etc." In reality, they probably couldn't care less, but it fuels my fire - so in my head - they're saying it.

I got a good jump on the start and was second wheel at the top of the first hill. Unfortunately, I spun out the 32x18 pretty directly thereafter on the doubletrack descent into the woods. Ron was better geared than me - more on this later - and he was one of the first to blow by. A few more guys made a last ditch effort to get ahead of me into the woods. They succeeded and I was relegated to 7th or 8th into the singletrack - not really where I wanted to be on a technical course. Meh.

For the first couple miles I was getting jammed up by the traffic. It was frustrating for sure, because I could see Ron slipping away and I knew there was at least one guy away from him. One by one, the guys ahead of me were making mistakes that I could capitalize on. Finally I managed to break free and bridge up to Ron.

(There's Ron checking his gap to the next guy - me)

Unfortunately, that was short lived because the last third of the lap is mostly doubletrack. I waved by-bye to Ron as he just walked away, pushing the right gear.

Early on the second lap, I traded spots with Brian Lariviere and another guy for a mile or two. On one of the pretty techy sections, Brian took a nice digger in front of me... I went left and made it through unscathed while the other guy got jammed. After that, I managed to almost bridge back up to Ron again. I got to within 10 seconds, but just couldn't close it. The double track struck again and that was the last I'd see of any of my competition. It made for some interesting head games on that lonely third lap. I'd push hard, then follow it up with complacency. I'd get scared, look around and push again. For a while, I was fueled by the prospect of reeling in Ron, but it just never came to fruition. Not wanting to get caught with my pants down, I pushed as hard as I could on the double track. I knew if I was going to loose 3rd, it'd be here. In the end, I found out that Ron was only ~20 seconds up. Damnit... just out of sight.

At the end of the day, TBR brought four racers to Wawayanda and we earned four podium spots. Not a bad showing, not bad at all. We were all pretty destroyed after our efforts on a truly abusive - but super fun - course. This was more technical than any course in the MASS, I think. This place is ROCKY. This place is AWESOME. This place will make French Creek seem kinda tame. See you out there...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday Night Ride: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's no secret that many of the TBR crew use the Wednesday night group ride as our proving grounds. In reality, this ride is a balls out interval workout disguised as a group ride. We ride our new rigs, we try out new components and we test our mettle against one another. We do this on one of the toughest trail networks in the tri-state area. I think sometimes we all take for granted how fortunate we are to have these awesome trails in our back yard.

In seasons past, these weekly efforts slowly build up team members, setting the foundation for some pretty solid results throughout the season. This year, there are some new regulars to the ride, who are pushing the veterans along. It's great to see the team growing, but still retaining that small team feel.

Last night was one of the toughest Wednesday night rides that I can remember. The trails were good but not especially fast... Looking down through the group, I think every rider had somebody to battle with and it made the whole ride faster, harder, more rewarding. It just shows that there's a lot of fitness floating around the ranks and it's exciting to see. I think the team is poised to have a great year, all around.

The post ride at Foster Boys had a good turnout as well... there were 25-30 people hanging out between the two groups. Nick hooked up a case of Bell's Brewing IPA and some other leftovers from his fridge. The Bells was a nice change, but I missed out on the "good stuff." I'm over it.

Now, I don't know if everybody has spring fever, or if it was a full moon, or what... but at about 9pm, things got a little out of hand...

We're all sitting around, talking, having good ole time, when out of the corner of my eye I see a yellow blur coming towards the shop. Seconds later, I see a middle aged woman wearing full tights and a day-glo windshirt, throw open the door to Foster Boys. Her attire was perplexing, since it was 80° and extremely humid yesterday. I was just about floored when she started screaming at our group of ~30. Just as quickly as she appeared, she was off and running towards LoweRiders - where about half of our cars and bikes are parked.

10 or 15 of us emptied out into the parking lot to see what all the fuss was about. She's standing in the middle of our cars, yelling about effing tow trucks, effing parking and yelling at us to effing move oure effing cars. We try to peice together what the hell she was talking about, but there's just no way to rationalize her gibberish. Ron, being unusually non-angry in such a situation tried to calm her down. She returned the favor by pushing him away and taking a swing. Then she proceeded to place a call to 911 Emergency services.

Rather than hulking out, Ron took the high road and walked away. Downingtown's finest, show up in full force, sending four peace officers. They were pleasant enough and not terribly interested in any of us. They seemed more intent on finding the lady who fled the scene after she saw them arrive. I doubt we'll make the blotter.

Never a dull moment in good ole Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pre-Intergallactic Interplanetary Anti-Matter, blah, blah, blah...(Marysville Relay) Conversation

My Buddy (excited) - Do you want to race Marysville this year?

Me (confused) - huh?

My Buddy (confused at my confusion) - Do you want to race Marysville this year?

Me (still not understanding) - I don't understand the question.

My Buddy (dumbfounded and getting a little exasperated) - Do. You. Want. To. Race. Marysville. This. Year...

Me (unflinchingly) - You can't "race" Marysville.

My Buddy (bewildered) - huh?

Me (nonchalantly) - In order to be considered a "race" the possibility of winning, no matter how unfathomably improbable, must at the very least be a remote possibility.

My Buddy (wide eyed in disbelief) - ...

Me (not affected) - A one-legged, custom-wearing, midget riding a tricycle has a better chance of winning Marysville then you and I and whatever team we pull together.

My Buddy (rolling his eyes) - ...

Me (continuing) - Unless we pull together a team of 12-year olds, or a team of pros, the ranks of which neither of us belong to, we have no chance whatsoever of even finishing in the top ten.

My Buddy (with renewed hope) - Yeah but I was thinking we could dress up as the gang from Speed Racer.

Me (flatly) - There was a "gang" in Speed Racer?

My Buddy (his excitement returning) - Yeah, you know, Speed, Trixie, and the monkey and that little boy that hang out in Speed's trunk.

Me (annoyed) - ...

My Buddy (unaffected by my lack of enthusiasm) - Come on it will be fun.

Me (now in disbelief) - Fun?

My Buddy (in opposition) - Yeah, fun, you remember fun? A light feeling of joviality precipitated by an activity that one finds enjoyable.

Me (incredulously) - U-huh, So you want me to dress up like a racecar driving twelve year old complete with red bandana and white bell bottoms and ride around the farm in the mud for "fun." What is this Halloween?

My Buddy (trying to be persuasive) - No, its for fun.

Me (flatly) - oh...

My Buddy (hopefully) - So?

Me - No thanks.

- end -

We did go to Marysville and "race" although we didn't wear costumes. Marysville is always a good time that even though I may not look forward to it each year, I always begrudgingly admit in the end that it is fun.


Baker's Dozen 2011 Edition

Saturday April 9th marked the 5th annual Baker's Dozen on the historic Rockland Farm in Leesburg, VA. This would be my first race on the farm and Kim's second. We were looking forward to a great weekend away with some fun racing bikes mixed in there.

We climbed into the XTerra just before lunch time on Friday in good spirits, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy here in good ole Dub C. Hopes were high that 150 miles to the South, things would be a bit more cheerful. They weren't. It rained the entire drive and after a couple hours, our conversations and thoughts turned from: "It'll be warm and sunny and dry because its Virginia" and "I think it's clearing up!" to "it's cold and wet and we're mudders; these are our ideal conditions!" We were thinking positive either way and looking forward to toeing the line the next day.

As we pulled into the pasture, we found a decent pit area on high-ish ground and started to set up shop. Dodging rain drops and cow pies, we pitched our tent. We debated setting up the "camping" tent and scoffed at the thought of camping here, on this night. The $60 or so spent for a room at the Hilton turned out to be the best 60 bucks I've spent this year. Score.

As we finished setting up, the mud had already claimed its first victim... a big ass box truck.

And Yeah... those clowns are trying to push that 20,000 pound truck; up hill, in the muddy cow shit, in the pouring rain. I thought about offering to hook them up to the XTerra and pulling them out. I thought about it for a minute... but gladly dismissed the thought when I overheard that some farm equipment had already been dispatched to rescue them.

The rain stopped for a minute, so we swiftly kitted up. Just before pushing off, we ran into Benny the Jewler and crew who were just wrapping up their pre-rides. It was nice to see some familiar faces and despite their advice to bag the pre-ride we were set on getting in a lap. As luck would have it, our pre-ride lap was great. It was super muddy, super slick, super FUN. Feeling good about how fun our lap was, we cleaned up in our hotel room shower (can't imagine how miserable I'd be if we were camping...) and went out for some grub. We relaxed at Brewer's Alley with some good food and a couple decent IPA's.

The Race

Saturday morning we made a Starbucks run for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich before driving to the farm. I'm surprisingly relaxed as I roll to the start line. Mister Twenty20 and I line up together and awkwardly exchange a few words... then just like that, the 13 hour race was under way.

As always, my strategy seems simple: sit back so I don't blow up... This is a 13 hour race, after all. That first lap isn't gonna make it or break it, ya know? I'm third into the woods and hot on Gunnar's wheel. So much for my race strategy. It felt like we were movin' pretty good considering the super slick conditions. Movin' pretty good that is, until I launched myself over the bars about a mile in. Meh. I recovered and pick my way back through the riders to sit on Auer's wheel for the rest of the lap. In retrospect, that crash was probably a good thing as it forced me to be more conservative that first lap.

There isn't much to report on the next few laps, except that the course was sort of drying out. The trails were turning from muddy-slick, to muddy-peanut butter. It was a tough day to race, that's for sure. As soon as I entered the woods on my 6th lap, I had a spectacular crash which left me bruised, bloodied and battered; lying on a boulder. I dont even know what happend, but it hurt pretty damned bad and I had to walk it off before retrieving my bike from the brush. I limped my way through what would be my last lap.

At the end of the day, We ended up 5th place after pulling the plug just short of the 11th hour. Given the circumstances, deciding to bail early was a pretty easy decision - it needed to be done. We were both already hurt and finishing this mud-fest in the dark just wasn't worth risking the rest of the season over.

We retired for the evening with some breakfast courtesy of the only place left open and serving food and a much needed hot shower, mattress and pillow at the Hilton.

Maybe we'll head back next year for redemption, maybe not. Time will tell.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Which One of These Things is Not Like the Other?

Why is it so much more fun to ride one bike than another? Both weekend rides brought Kim and I to French Creek. Same trails, two different bikes; and two completely different outcomes.

Saturday, Kim dabbled on a borrowed full suspension rig, while I played on my "race bike". In retrospect, the Ellsworth may not have been the best choice of steeds - but let's be honest, with access to a really nice bike to tool around on, how could you not partake? Well, the dually was all out sketchy and Kim's ride suffered dearly. While Kim was battling with the Truth, I had my own demon to slay. This demon has been harrassing me for a while now: My "race bike" doesn't feel especially racy, especially fast, or especially fun. It's been a thorn in my side and I just can't figure out where in Hell it comes from.

A couple years ago, I started riding a rigid steel singlespeed - all the time - and loved it. A couple months ago, I set up that rigid singlespeed as a 1x9 looking for a little extra push for the upcoming race season. The bike worked flawlessy, but something was missing. A couple weeks ago, I put an F29 on the bike thinking, I better get this figured out before race season. That was no good... the bike just seemed to flatline after that.

Sunday morning, Kim was obviously much more at home on her race bike, while I found myself having a blast on my rigid SS. Yesterday, I had a bit of a revelation. I felt great, my lines were clean and I was having *gasp* fun. It seems that I've found what the other bike is missing: soul.
So much for keeping up with the peleton at those wide open XC start lines this season.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tarmac, Metal and Gravel: Lunch Time Explorations Gone Awry

Last week I ventured out for my first lunch time road ride from the new office. I came up with a loop from the confines of my cubicle with a little help from the people whom are methodically taking over the world. I need to keep the loop under an hour, so I looked for the nearest climbs to make it as worthwhile as possible. My first loop at about 18 miles, came up a little short but it had some promising roads and some decent climbs.

I went out again today with intent to get the loop dialed only to find myself exploring disappointment. A single lane, open grate bridge at the bottom of a screamin' descent is enough to sketch me out of that road. A long un-road-bike-able gravel climb is enough to exclude another.

Oh well... I'll get it figured out in the next couple of rides. Nevertheless, its a great day to get on the bike so what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A reason to smile...

its almost race time...


Friday, March 11, 2011

Just Around the Corner: The 2011 Racing Season

This weekend is officially mid March 2011. To many of us 'mericans, it means that in just a few short days we all turn into whiskey swilling "Irishmen," complete with slurred accents and T-shirts that direct us to kiss each other. Ironically however, In Ireland it's pretty much just another rainy day.

For those of us at TBR (along with the rest of the competetive cyclists in the region) it means that the Start of the 2011 racing season and the Mid Atlantic Super Series are just around the corner. The other day, I planned out my race calendar. I'd be lying if I said that I'm not excited to start racin' again. With the months of foul weather and trail conditions, a few recent tastes of dirt have me raring to go. Clearing the cobwebs out will be tough at the MASS Team Relay and Baker's Dozen, but it sure will be a fun way to kick off the season.

Pre-season bonus points to whoever can tell me which TBR member is shown here, "clearing the cobwebs" in 2006:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Were rollin' with Stan's this year...

Proud as hell to have the VBC on board to keep us hydrated this season!