Friday, December 18, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
This last Sunday was the last race of the Team Lake Effect Cyclocross series. It was held at Boughton Farm in Copley on a flat and muddy course. I had though Willoughby was the hardest thing I've done. I know have changed my mind and put this race as the hardest.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Base miles have always been a favorite part of the season for me. It seems like a grueling concept, after not doing anything all winter you go out while it's still cold and ride your bike for as long as you can. For me it gives me a chance to try new roads and to see new scenery. During the season I have already found my routes and go on certain routes that tailor what I need work on. Base miles, however, are also my time to venture out and find new routes to ride.
Today, Sara and I ventured out on a adventure to find new roads. I had replaced the cross tires on my cyclocross bike with a road tire to see how it would work over the winter. It's a set up I had thought about when I bought the bike and I think it will prove fruitful over the winter. I also decided to retire my road bike for the season and use it's wheelset for my back up cross wheels, and after Christmas I'll spring for an upgrade of Easton EA90's for my road bike. For now I'll make the second set my pit wheels and when the season ends I'll put some road tires back on. That way I'll have the road tires for the winter but when the snow's out I can swap out the wheels and run cross tires in the snow.
So back to the ride. Sara and I decided to do a ride today, since we haven't done a long ride for quite some time, and I had always wanted to show her my favorite crappy roads of portage county ride. We hit some favorites Lynn Road, and Sunnybrook road. But added a little double track around Mogadore Reservoir which led to us finding some singletrack, which I did on 700c x23 tires pumped to 100 PSI with no problem. We spend some time admiring the reservoir and taking some photos. It was one of the rides that allured me to get into road biking. No destination, and just enjoying the ride. The pace was brisk but not pushing it. I smiled the entire time. Afterwards, we came back, ate an entire pizza and large antipasto salad and then chilled. I still can't belive how lucky I am to find some like Sara, who enjoys doing stuff like this. I'm sure it would have been an an enjoyable ride solo, but this ride was made even more special by her.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sara and I drove up from Akron in the morning and arrived at the race. I was amazed by the amount of people that attended. There were 500+ men there. Sara and I warmed up before the race and met up with some of her Grunt Girl team mates. I'm really glad she got on the team as all the girls are really nice women. Before the race, Sara moved up to the front as she wanted to actually compete and the other Grunt girls and I lined up about mid pack. I thought I'd be around them and run a steady pace. The race started I took the first turn and wanted to go. So I went, pushing myself to run a little faster than I had on my other training runs. While running, a girl turned around and told the guy I was running next to "I'll see you later." I turned to him and told him, we could be the guys with girlfriends who are faster than us. I soon dropped him too. The course ended by going around the block. I had secretly wished to do a sub 25 minute 5k. Didn't think it was possible, since the fastest I had run that distance was 28 minutes. When I turned the corner, I saw the clock and it read 23 minutes. I ended up coming in at 24:11 with a 7:55 minute/mile pace. Didn't think that would happen.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Last week end I did my first practice 5k, ended up with a around and 8:30 pace and completed it in 28 minutes. Not to shabby for my first attempt and not even pushing that hard. Sara was impressed by this, which made me more confident. So yesterday I had planned to ride the Kent cyclocross course which I had missed because of work last week. After work I'm driving home about to get my gear and head over when I get a text from Sara asking if I wanted to ride the course with her. Perfect! I'm throwing on my gear and she calls and asks if afterward I wanted to do a trail run, I say to myself why not and throw my shoes into a bag and I head off.
We are on a time constraint because we have to be in Hudson by 4:30 for the trail run and I left my house at 3:20 to bike over to Kent. I do my best time trial effort with a headwind and a large bag to bike the 7 miles as quick I can. I show up and we do two quick rides around the course, which after the Cross my Heart course was a blast. I will definitely be at this one next year. The two run ups were a blast and the spiral was fun and tricky. After riding back to here car I did 9.5 miles. We load our bikes to the back and we head towards the valley.
After meeting up with some of her Grunt Girl Teammates we make it to Pine Hill trail head at about 5. We run a good paced three miles until we get to the badly rooted part of the trail. It's well past sunset now and our lights aren't bright enough so we turn around and run as far as we can until our lights don't give us enough light to see the routes and decided to walk back out to the cars instead of hurting ourselves. We probably did 3.5 miles of demanding trails running.
Back at the cars, her teammate Andrea asks me if I plan to do the 5k that Sara is entering this weekend. She said my pace was fine and that I'm ready. After some badgering we leave and me and Sara decide I should do it this weekend. So now I'm doing a 5k Saturday and then the Kirtland Park CX race on Sunday. Should be a fun interesting weekend. Check back monday for a recap of my races.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I'm missing a cyclocross race this weekend because I'm working, it's all fair because I worked for him last week. Hopefully, I can hit up the Grunt Girls trail run Sunday morning depending on my schedule with work. Then I'm confirmed for the last two cross races. Then in December the Ray's indoor Mountain Bike Time trial starts so I'll be doing that. The second sessions starts in January. So I won't be starting anytime soon.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I don't have much to say about this race. I didn't do well, in truth I wasn't in last place for the simple fact that my friend and fellow racer took the sport/expert section and added on half a mile of trail. Otherwise I would have been dead last. This placing come down to a lack of training in hills. I felt good and lead the race off the start. Had a good lead on the first place overall in the series, but then as soon as the trail went up my legs turned to mud. The last time I'd climbed a hill was in August and I was ill prepared for the toughest climb in Ohio.
So I resigned myself to enjoying the scenery and enjoying probably my last good weather and good condition mountain bike race/ride for the season. I ended up taking second overall and not disappointed with that. I figure if I have a decent off season my jump up to sport won't be bad. Truthfully, next year I probably won't be fighting for position every race, but I'm ok with that. I still have a lot of races to do and I'm taking my improvements realistically. I know eventually I'll be fighting for the wins again but it may take a season to get my legs up to that.
The big thing I take away from this season is getting out and actually racing and doing well, something only a select few choose to do. I've met a ton of great people and enjoyed it greatly and I'm looking forward to another great year after a little break from Mountain Biking, (still will be on a bike). My teammates have been great, supportive, kind and inspiring. There's something about watching a teammate do well that even on your bad days you come back feeling good because of them. Looking forward to the return of Nancy and Brian from injury and I wish them a speedy recovery this off-season. Mainly, I'm glad it's over but I'm already looking forward to next year.
I gotta say a big thanks to Sara, my wonderful, beautiful supportive girlfriend who drove almost two hours (including a detour for construction) to the race and took pictures and supported me. I'm truly blessed to have found her. Each day I wake up and think how lucky I am to have her in my life.
I would say goodbye till next year but I'm nowhere near done yet. I still have three cyclocross races and Rays Indoor Mountain Bike Time Trial series. So I'm not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Thanks Camba, Bike Authority, Crank Brother, Rudy Project, Ritchey products and Kenda for making it one of the best summers I can remember.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
The rhythm room looked amazing and the pump tracks addition to make it a complete loop was nice. The sport and expert sections stayed about the same, and the beginner rooms flow has been improved so it's a little safer when the XC loop dumps into the room. Overall, I love the changes and it was nice to be back there and see a lot of my riding friends.
Saturday I woke up early and Sara and I headed up to the "Cross your heart and hope to die" cyclocross race. Trust, me each lap as I enter the "Spiral of Death" I was hoping to do. I was worrying about the sled hill climb "Todd Hill" but it was the baseball field spiral that killed your legs and your spirit. Overall, the bike performed perfectly and my Hutchison Bulldog tired shed mud and gripped great. my one regret was the 42t chainring. I took Johnny P's advice on the size. But I forgot that my strengths and tendencies means a smaller chainring that I can spin up works better for me. My road bike uses a compact crank and my mountain uses a 40t big ring instead of the usual 44. It's just the nature of my small size. Most of the course I was wishing for a lower gear. Luckily I had an extra 39t ring laying around. So that's all ready to go.
Sunday I worked open to close at work and decided to "help" our sales for the day I picked up a new Sram Rival drive train. When I got home I cleaned and tuned Sara's cyclocross bike so I could return it to her in time for her commute to class today. Cleaned and tuned my Cyclocross bike then installed the new drivetrain on my road bike. I haven't gotten to do a true test ride yet, but I can say it was an easy install and was easily tuned. The shifting system seems ingenious and something that I could get used to and like better than Shimano shifters. Look for me to have all my bikes converted to Sram next year. Test ride tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
So the year is slowly winding to a close. The leaves are starting to fall, old men are selling apple cider around the Tallmadge circle and I haven't shaved my legs, face or head for over a month. For me it signals the end of the summer and the racing season, October 25th will be my last competitive race. It's sad and I'm glad at the same time. I'm going to miss all the riding and the good weather, but the training has taking it's toll on me. I'm ready to take a vacation from cycling and enjoy some of my other interests. I plan to keep riding, of course, but slower paced and shorter rides mainly to enjoy being on a bike. I'm hoping to get into running and doing some trail running around the metro parks and the valley. Wouldn't mind getting into rock climbing again. Who knows. I still have 3 Cyclocross races so I won't be totally off the bike.
It has got my thinking about how my life has changed over the summer. First off what this year has done to me personally has been great. I'm feeling the best I have ever physically or mentally. I'm generally happy with my life. I've met some great people in the process. My CAMBA bro's Brian Lennon, Brian Jay, Brett Zink, Micheal Farley, Bill Braum, Esther Gates, Micheal Ryba, Tim Rhodes, Glynis, Micheal Bloomhuff, and too many more to list. A ton of people I've met at races: Roger Sommers, Even Krekeler, Steven Mieskoski, Dirk, Ted Rauh, The Spisak brothers, can't pass up my main bro Johnny P. Can't forget the Srokas. Most importantly I can't miss Sara. A random chance meeting in a parking lot after a ride has lead so much more and I'm lucky to have met her.
Then there's the accomplishments, so far I've done 2391 miles this year on 166 different rides, up 1563 miles from last year. I've competed in 13 races. Finished 12, top 10 in 10 of those races, Stood on the podium at 7, and won 5. I finished 2nd overall in the NEO Powerseries, I have podiumed in two different disciplines (Mountain and Road.) Truthfully not a bad year.
These pictures are some of my favorite of the year.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
So I admit I have been really bad at updating this. Settling into the new job and the new schedule has been a little difficult. I'm slowly weaning myself off the late night routine. But you don't care about that so onto the important bit.
Last Sunday was the OMBC West Branch race. It was a nice change of place having a race less then 15 minutes from my house. I enjoyed sleeping in and lazily making my way to the race. It was also a nice to see so many familiar faces. I get to see most of the racers at each race but it's nice to see the locals. It seemed everyone was there. I was happy to meet Dave Ruller, the city manager of Kent. Someone I have been talking to in trying to get a trail built in Kent.
The day before it rained pretty hard all day, and I was looking forward to another muddy ride. I was let down to see the trail holding up well, (from a race standpoint, but I gotta give credit to CAMBA's trail crew who have put in a lot of work to make this trail sustainable.) However, the roots and rocks were slick as ice. As always I got the hole-shot onto the single track. I had built up a decent lead and was feeling good until I noticed my front quick release was loose. I had to stop and fix it and let second place pass, while 2nd and 3rd fell in behind me. We stayed together in a pack until second place slipped on a uphill and I took the lead again.
It seemed like a yo-yo was attached to me at the point. As one of the other 3 riders would catch me and I would either be able to pull away or I would here them go down behind me. This played out for most of the race. Near the end I slipped on an uphill and the second place rider bridged the gap. I was now sitting behind a rider from another class. I knew if I could stay in front of him I could hopefully hold him off till the end. I followed the other rider until the last hill, where I said "Passing on your left" and started sprinting up the hill. I had used the rider as a block and him having to find a place to pass gave me enough time to reopen the gap and get the win.
The other big news was I got to get in some cyclocross practice today with Johhny P and Robert Sroka. I took their collective knowledge and learned as much as I could. Thanks guys for helping me out. It was last minute for me so I showed up a little late and opted to go in instead of warming up first, since daylight was slipping. This was a mistake. We did a couple sprint starts, dismounts/remounts and cornering. I now have a couple drills to work on when I practice so I should be ready for my first race. Which I'm really looking forward to.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Velonews.com's Matt Pacocha has been experimenting with different wheel sizes and different platforms this summer. It all started in his article on the National Championships where in the top 5 a 26 ht wasn't represented. A 26 hardtail wasn't represented until 6th place. Interesting fact, out of the top five in the mens category three were Gary Fisher Superflys. His conclusion that technology had progressed in suspension design and in the design of 29ers that it would only be time until the 26 hardtail was dead.
The most interesting part of the article was this paragraph that ended the article,
"Is the 26-inch hardtail dead? Yes, I think so. Of course, you’ll continue to see the traditionalists and Europeans using them. And you’ll also some of the world’s most talented riders, like Orbea’s Julien Absalon, on them. But I would suspect that if these racers aren’t careful they’ll eventually be caught out. Maybe then, if the manufacturers can keep the steep technological development curve going, it’ll mean our U.S. racers who are willing to accept 29-inch wheels and full suspension will have the upper hand they need to win some big races."
Now there's a couple things that this paragraph entails:
1) The current US riders are using inadequete bikes, and that with more technological development the 29er and full suspension bikes will eventually be the better bike.
2)Europeans appearantly are staunch tradiontionalist and won't switch over away from 26 ht's and if they do it will be too late.
3)And most importantly an American will only win when they have bike that gives them an advantage.
His second article which was titled "Despiste the world's results, Velonew's Matt Pacocha says tests show 29-inch wheels are faster." In this article he did a test to see which one platform was fastest. The 26 hardtail, 26 full-suspension or 29 hardtail. Here's him describing the test:
"Over the course of 14 days I rode a full-suspension bike and hardtail bike 28 times on our 3.1-mile test course. Both bikes were built from aluminum and the position of the bikes was matched. The weight of the bikes differed by roughly one pound. The same wheelset was used on both bikes and tire pressure was kept the same. The bikes also used the same gearing. They were ridden in the same smooth-pedaling manner; riding out of the saddle created power spikes and was therefore avoided. Data was gathered using Garmin’s 705 GPS unit and a PowerTap Disc hub."
Now I give him the benefit of the doubt for trying to make the test as scientific as possible, however, his real world tests weren’t real world. Well let’s be serious it’s the real world that defeats any test of a bike. The most blatant and hard thing to control is the human factor, each riders size, style and skill will determine what bike will be best for them. He doesn’t give us any information on what the human factors. We also don’t know what bike’s he was riding. He states that “positions” of the bikes are the same. That is all well and good, but it doesn’t say the dimensions where the same. A different head angle, shorter wheelbase all lead to a different ride. If we really want to know what’s faster in wheel size, then the test should be the same dimensions with the only difference being the wheel size.
I also feel that taking away standing skews the results because that is the main reason why I chose my 26 hardtail as my race bike, I spend a lot of my time when I climb out of the saddle, I also sprint a lot more and it’s those features that make a 26 hardtail what it is.
Now the course description:
“The test course consisted of just under a mile of rolling, lightly technical terrain, a half-mile climb gaining 50 feet in elevation, 1.2 miles of non-technical but bumpy flat double track and a half-mile of twisty, fast-descending singletrack with three moderately technical sections.”
Roughly 3 miles of riding? I understand wanting to make it a smaller course to keep rider mistake out of the equation, but how often do most riders do a three miles loop? The other thing is 50 feet of climbing in half a mile is not a climb. That’s a 1% grade. Which isn’t enough to test the climbing prowess of each bike.
So, the conclusion of the test was that the 29er was a minute faster than any other bike and the Full suspension bike was second. Hence, the 26 hardtail was dead. Now I’m a numbers person on the bike, I keep all my information from my Garmin. Now on my 3.6 mile loop I’ve found the fastest times have been on my 26 inch fully rigid single speed. Now on other trails, my Full suspension is faster (think West Branch). Even on different days a different bike may be faster because of my fatigue level and line choice.
I think instead of arguing which one is faster, cause no matter what bike your choose it’s your legs that are powering it, instead lets focus on the good. Now we have an excuse to have another bike. No matter what bike you choose it’s going to be the rider who makes it faster. So stop the fighting, ride what you brought and have fun!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Big Valley Race was a race I had circled on my calendar since it was first announced. For a little background, I was as a scout when I was a wee little one. I got my eagle and spent 8 years at Camp Manatoc. So this a very special place for me. I remember walking the trails of Camp Manatoc as a scout thinking these trails would be awesome to bike on. So last year when I started Mountain Biking and found out their was a race at Manatoc, I made it a goal to race that race. I ended up breaking a chain and finished second to last. So I had a settle to score.