Friday, December 18, 2009

Well it's official.

I will taking over the presidency of the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) on January 1st. So make sure to come down the the CAMBA Poker run to celebrate the new year and my first day as president. Click here for the details.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boughton Farm Cyclocross

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.

Sara and I arrived shortly before 11 to get ready for the race. We got our stuff together and finished putting on our leg warmers and shoes in the car. When we arrived the temp was well below freezing and the sun was behind the clouds. After we signed in we headed out for our warm-up lap.

Not even a third into our warm-up lap my rear derailluer binds with mud and is pulled towards the wheel. I stop look down and start trying to right the wrong. I can clearly see the hanger is bent. I tell Sara to go finish her lap and I run back to the car to find a pair of pliers to right the wrong. I spend about 10-15 minutes with a crescent wrench trying to straighten it out. In the end I don't even get it close but enough to get it shifting and away from my spokes.

During Sara's race I set up her awesome trainer, it's rim resistance unit makes it perfect for cross and mountain biking because you don't have to switch wheels. I know I'll be picking one up soon. I spent about 30 minutes warming up on the trainer getting ready for the race. I really prefer this method to warming up riding around. I was able to control my efforts more and warm up right to the moment the race started.

I lined up towards the back in the skinny start area and the race soon started. I felt really good off the start, passing a couple people, up until the start of the single track where there was a bottleneck. I'll tell you what, getting into the single track is a lot harder in a cross race. No offense but I've never had that much problem in a mountain bike race. We mountain bike racers are more aware of it and plan for it while roadies seem to not think about it and when the bottle neck happens stand around not sure what to do. I was stuck behind a person who had gotten totally off his bike and ran the whole first section holding me and everyone else up.

Out of the single track I was still part of the large chase group, a little behind the leaders. I was still feeling good and still slowly picking off people. Until the first mud section hit, until the mud started to pile up on my bike. I had to stop and clear out the mud and the leaves from my tires to even get my bike to move. This stop let my legs get cold and the pack get away from me. From there on stopping and cleaning out the mud was a ritual I would do each lap atleast two to three times, Even pulling off my front tire once to get the mud out. At that point I rode my race, and focusing on trying to enjoy myself in these miserable conditions. I started carrying my bike over the mud sections to try and curtail the mud buildup in vain. Really didn't work but it didn't get my feet wet which made them freeze.

I finished the race a lap down in 20th place and went straight to the car to take off my shoes and warm my feet which had started to turn a deep shade of purple. Sara was kind enough to come and help in the warm process by warming my feet in a towel.

I was happy to finish my first season after a lot of races. I will probably do a race or two of the winter cyclocross series and I'll keep training. I'm happy to be down though, and I'm sure my dwindling bank account will be happy too.

Thanks for Bike Authority, Camba, Rudy Project, Ritchey Products, and Cranks Brothers for making this a great season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to Basics

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

Pigskin Classic 5k/ Kirtland Park Cross

This weekend was a crazy but fun weekend. I swear I was in Cleveland more than Akron. Saturday I competed in my first 5k. I know a lot of the cyclist who follow my blog, I know I kid myself thinking people follow my blog, have given my some crap about getting into running. I gotta be truthful I like running. It's not better, sorry Sara, and it's not worse. It's just different. I like challenges, that's my nature. Truthfully, I got into cycling not because it was fun, though it is. I did it because it was hard. Watching tv is fun, but it's not something I tend to do on a regular basis. I want to be outside pushing myself to my limit and then past that. I was to get better at what I do. It will just give me something so I don't get burnt out.

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.

Kirtland Cross

Sunday was the Kirtland Park Cross race. Sarah and I arrived at 10:30, well before the noon start. So we were able to walk to course, then do a slow ride to pick out lines, a faster ride to see if the lines would work. Then I took Robert Sroka on a lap to help him out on the lines as well. After signing up we still had almost a half hour to warm up some more. By the time the race started I had a good grasp of the course.

Sara's race was first and she kicked ass. She ended up 13th overall and the first woman by a large margin. She looked strong and was riding really well. I would like to think I've helped her to become a better cross racer, by teaching her some of the skills and showing her lines and how to pace herself, but in truth she's a beast and will kick most people in whatever she puts her mind to.

My race started next, I lined up on the second row. This led to a not so good start for me as the bottle neck lost me some positions. I had planned to be to the inside of the climb on the non-preferred line, to my dismay I got stuck on the preferred line and got bottlenecked and had to walk up the hill. From there on I started picking off positions on the climbs and descents. The first lap I passed someone going down a hill by continuing to pedal. I flew up the climbs but then lost positions on the long flat. It was a great course with lots of climbing and technical descents. The highlight had to be the amphitheater, thanks Robert and Johnny P for putting that in the course.

I ended up finishing in 21st, one place behind my top 20 I had hoped. Over all I had fun. Big Props to Robert Sroka, for his 2nd in B's, Johnny 8th in A's and Sara for her 13th.

Thanks Camba, Bike Authority, Rudy Project, Ritchey products, Kenda and Crank Brothers for helping me race.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This is going to be a quick one as I have to leave for work soon, but I have been running a lot more often now. To all my cycling friends don't worry, I won't be hanging up the bike for good or switching over to running. For me it's going to be a nice compliment to my biking. I doubt it will make me a faster rider, but it will give me something to do to break up being on the bike and still being active. That way I can end the season and not be as burnt out as I was this year.

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

A whole lot of nothing.

So after the OMBC championship race I took a much needed vacation off the bike. It's been a hell of a season but by far an amazing one. I have been spending my time resting and eating whatever I wanted to.It's been nice, but truthfully I never really rested. I've done a couple bike rides, and started running. I didn't think I'd like it but Sara has been a huge help. Learning why I cramp up when I do, what shoes I need and all that stuff is all the little things that Sara helped me out with. She was impressed with my first run with her and I'm really enjoy. So the plan is to do some sort of run on Thanksgiving morning with Sara, my brother Travis and my sister Valerie. It should be fun.

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

Mohican Wilderness OMBC Championship

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

More Pictures from Hope to Die

Thank you Nancy for the pics!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Best Weekend ever

So this week end was insanely crazy for me. Friday I worked 9-4 at the shop and immediately then headed up to Rays Indoor Mountain Bike Park. Each year CAMBA puts on a preview night where you can get into Rays a day before it actually opens and ride the park for free. If you haven't checked out Ray's you must if are a mountain biker. A lot of new features this year. The cross country loop has been given new lines to take, though it hasn't been lengthened. This should make the indoor time trials more interesting. I got to talk to Ray a little bit and he confirmed that there was going to be an indoor tt series.

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.

The spiral of death, AKA Willoughby Cyclocross

Saturday I did my first cyclocross race. Tons of fun, and I learned a lot. Didn't do well (24th) but I did move up a class to what I normally raced. So Overall not a bad weekend. I'll give a full report later but I worked 8 hours today, Cleaned and tuned sara's bike, installed a Rival drivetrain on my road bike and put a new chainring on my cross bike. To hold you over here's a couple pics.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I've learned

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

West Branch, and CX practice

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

Medina Reagan Park Time Trial

Today was one of my favorite races, the Reagan Park Time Trial. The main reason I love this race is it's my home course. It may not be the closest but being a group rider for the Wednesday night rides here I know the trail better than any other. It also holds something special as last years race was the first that I completed without a mechanical (Manatoc had the broken chain last year) and I ended up placing fourth. This lit the fire for me and now I'm here... So the calm before the storm...

Once again I had a small fan club of my parents and the wonderful Sara, add onto all the people I've befriended this year, there was plenty of hobnobbing to be done before the race. At around noon we had the processional over to Reagan Park for the start. Being a novice ready I had to sit around at the start for an hour for my time to go. I cheer on my friends and teammates while I wait. An hour after arriving at the start my number is called and I set up at the start line. Quickly down a Gu and clip in. The countdown ends and I'm off. One pedal stroke in I pull out of my pedal and lose a couple seconds, which only drives me on faster. I enter the singletrack flying, I'm back in the zone and feeling good, until I wash out on the loose dirt on a switchback and go down, giving me some nasty "road rash" and knocks my saddle to the left. I get up and try knocking my seat back but it won't budge. I do get it moved over enough so that I can pedal.

After that I started to pick off riders left and right, swerving around them as I haul through the trail. By the time I reach Reagan Parkway I've passed about 10 riders and I'm feeling good. In the connector trail I'm able to open up and gain some time as I didn't catch anyone. Coming up onto Weymouth road catch two riders. I'm on the second riders tail when I pass Sara who was helping out and taking pictures. I latch onto his wheel and draft him through the gravel double track. After the first climb at Huffman he relents and pulls off and lets me pass. I'm now behind a single speed rider, he sprints hard up the hill and pulls a gap and I re catch him on the downhill. We fight like this for a while until he can't make it up a steep uphill and I pass him. I enjoy the fast flowing last part of the trail and finish strong. I wait around for my time. I'm one of the first in my age group to come across, and the times sheets showed me in first, but with only one other rider in. I wait for a while until it's confirmed I got another win.

It was a strong showing for the CAMBA race team and CAMBA Members.
CAMBA Race Team:
Andrew Miller- 1st Novice
Jeff Cochran- 2nd Expert
Micheal Ryba- 3rd Sport
Darren Spence- 5th Sport
Brian Lennon- 9th expert

CAMBA Members-
Micheal Bloomhuff- 2nd Sport
Frank Dessoffy- 2nd sport
Brian Jay- 7th sport

Good job to all the CAMBA race team and CAMBA members for their strong showing. Thanks to Bike Authority, Kenda, Crank Brothers, Ritchey Products, and Rudy Project for helping us race.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Starting a new Job

I was recently told that I wasn't going to be giving off for every race anymore at the restaurant where I work. Or as my boss put it "Requesting off every other weekend is not going to happen anymore." Luckily I had already lined up an interview at an LBS the next day. Well I got the job and I start Monday at my new job as a bike Mechanic. So tonight is my last day at Bricco. I'll be glad to get away from the stress, long nights and generally a not nice place to work.

In other news I'm excited to started my cyclocross season.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

26 Hardtail is dead?'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!

Lingering Injuries

As most athletes know, in the heat of competition and injury and it's pain is suppressed through adrenaline. If you ask almost any athlete if this has ever happened to them, you'll hear stories of bad injuries that they didn't notice till after the race. Depending the severity it could be from the second they cross the line to hours later.

In the case of my injury at the Manatoc race it didn't show up for hours later. In my report of The Mantoc Experience I mentioned a crash early in the race. What I didn't realize was that during the crash the brunt of force had been taking by my arm which then connected with my ribs. Me being the skinny person I am and having bony elbows i ended up hurting my ribs. It didn't hurt till later that day but became much worse the next morning. So for the past week and a half I have been in a fair amount of pain and every morning I must roll on my side to get up because it hurt to much to sit up.

I'm not one to stop riding because of a little soreness or a little blood shed so I did the a couple rides last week and handled my own. Truthfully, as long as I didn't hurt it again I would have been fine. So today I went out the the CAMBA group ride to lead the group. Last week even with the injury I lead the "A" group and held an average Mph of 9.9. Today's I was feeling the pain again, and a little worse and I was being careful as my steering was a little slower and I could turn my body and I was climbing seated to minimize the pain. All was going well until I hit the river trail and picked up a little to much speed on a downhill, couldn't make a slight jog to the right in time and barrelled into a tree with the full force on my injured left side. Made it through annex an about a quarter mile through Reagan before the pain was to much and I broke off the group and road the road back to the car. Under 5 miles done of the 10-12 that we normally ride on the group ride.

I came home and took a shower and iced my side and downed the Advil and as of right now I'm feeling fine. Sara was sweet enough to bring me Raspberry sorbet and blackberries which made it so much better.

So the next week I'll be focused on recovering and not reaggrivating the injury so I'll be riding the road bike alot and hopefully next week I'll be able to hit the trails on a full suspension bike. I'll be missing the Vultures Knob race this week end along with the Bike Authority Cyclocross race. And hopefully by next Sunday I'll be back up enough to race the Medina Time Trial.

On another note CAMBA race team member Nancy is also recuperating from a back injury after the manatoc race. She crashed into a tree, injuring herself and still came across the line first. Reports are that she is able to go to work again and is able to walk. Hopefully, she'll be back on the road bike again soon. Best wishes to her and wishing her a speedy recovery.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Manatoc Experience

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.

I showed up and parked and met a very nice couple who drove down for this race from New York. They said they got their bikes this month and found the race today. Good for them. Lined up and got ready. I was questioning my tire choice as I picked my Small Block 8's, hoping it would be dry enough. Unfourtanitly, I could have really used my knobby Karma's. Live and learn I guess.

At the start my goal was to get to the front, and not wear myself out. So at the start I slotted in behind the first rider and stayed on his back wheel. I got a nice draft and saved a lot of energy doing so. The two of us slowly started to pull a gap on the field pretty soon and it was long before we had a 30 second gap on the field. When I knew our break was going to stick, I asked him what age class he was in suspecting he was in age group above me, that way if he was we could work together. He was in the next class up but any hopes of working together went down the drain when I washed out and fell hard, throwing my bottle and gel packs flying. Picked up my bike and got back on. I looked back and saw the third place rider and pushed myself to get my gap back. A short two miles later I came down a gravel road hill and started climbing up to see my mother and the beautiful sara cheering me on. This picked up my spirits and I picked up the pace once again.
I soon crested the hill behind the flagpool and knew it was all over, I never got passed the entire course and crested the hill and rolled down to the finish line knowing that I had completed what I had dreamed of doing for a year. It was a great feeling to hear people cheering for me and yelling my name as I came down that hill. I crossed the line giving CAMBA President Brett a high five and being surronded by Sara and my mother. I had completed the course in 48 minutes (a lot better than the hour and a half than last year), with a 10 mph average. It was a great moment for me and it was great getting another win after not winning since April.

Thanks CAMBA, Bike Authority, Crank Brothers, Ritchey Products and Kenda for letting me fullfill my dream of winning this race.