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.