Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feeling good, going slow..and first light ride

So I Strava-raced myself again.  After my single speed kicked my geared bike's butt a couple weeks ago, I decided to give it another go.  I've been riding my geared mt and road bikes the past couple weeks, and feeling pretty good with the gears.  And I feel like I've gotten use to the worse handling of the geared HT (Carbon Stumpy) vs my SS HT (Alum Niner w/ Lefty).  In short, I've been feeling pretty fast on the Stumpy.

To recap:
SS time: 32:09
Stumpy time from two weeks ago: 34:47
Stumpy time from today: 35:24

I hit the 6.2 mile loop quick, but not blow-up quick. I kept a good clip going and rode well and smooth and felt like it was going to be really close to the SS time.

Not so much.  I'm going to try the single speed again next week and see whassup.

But all is not lost as today's sunrise ride, first with a headlight, was really sweet.

Cedar tunnel

Bridge to morning

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wife nightmare

Had a bad dream last night that my wife and I got in an argument.  Woke up at 5:45 and couldn't shake the negative feeling -- stuck with me like a nightmare hangover.
Had a quick breaky and got my gear on and was ready to head out the door to bang out a few miles on the trails on the way to work.  I suddenly rushed to look at the calendar.
Our wedding anniversary.
I guess the nightmare was my subconscious telling me to not forget.  Phew! I left a nice note with awesome drawings (world's worst drawer) and got a call from Kristy at work a couple hours later wishing me a happy anniversary too (with a confession that she forgot also).

Seven years on and a couple of additions to the fam:

Happy anniversary love! See you in my nightmares :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gears vs. Single speed...Strava virtual race

I’ve been training hard and my last race of the season was this past Sunday, so I was going to take this week off from riding. 
Who was I kidding?
Too nice out.  And with a couple of Strava loops across the street from work, the temptation to “race” during my lunch break was too much.

Today I rode the time-trial worthy 6.2 mile “counter clockwise loop” on my geared bike to compare it to my results from a couple weeks ago when I did it on my single speed.

So which was faster?

Let’s get to the bikes first:
> Single speed: AluMINium Niner One9 with a carbon Cannondale Lefty fork with 80mm travel.  And a fairly cushy saddle (for a race bike anyway..I broke my race saddle at the TVR, so I put an old Bontrager saddle on it, and I’m absolutely loving it).
> Geared: Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Comp 29er hardtail with 90mm travel Reba.  Light and stiff race saddle.
I don’t think any other components (other than forks and saddles) made that much of a difference for the purpose of this test.

How I felt:
Geared ride: fully rested after 3 days not riding.
Single speed ride: slightly more tired legs as in midst of training days.

Warmup: I only have an hour for lunch, so there’s no real warmup.  It’s change-ride-shower.

Today’s geared ride had pretty perfect weather - warm, sunny, dry.
Single speed ride - it rained heavy night before and light rain during ride. Trails were not soggy, however: the rocks/roots were a bit slick, but the trails were actually a bit sticky thanks to rain.

Trail profile: Fast and flowy, rolling terrain with no significant climbs.  Some technical bits, but nothing extended or difficult.  Lots of tight turns, but with berms so they can be railed and accelerated out of.  Admittedly, pretty much perfect for single speeding.

6.2 miles
Niner single speed: 32:09, avg speed 11.5
Spesh geared hardtail: 34:37, avg speed 10.8

I knew the single speed would be faster while I was on the geared bike today.  The Niner just handles way better, even with 10mm less travel.  The Stumpy’s carbon frame is snappy while accelerating and when out-of-saddle on climbs, and absolutely hauls ass when at full throttle on double track, but it’s a bit harsh compared to the Niner when it comes to the tight and twisties.  The frame transmits every bump through to your posterior (not helped by minimalist XC race saddle). 

On the Niner side: I have to say that I’ve liked every Lefty fork I’ve ever ridden – they just seem to smooth stuff over better, let you plow through techy stuff, help you keep a line.  The Niner’s steering is also more predictable than the Stumpy’s, which trends to oversteering at times in this tight terrain.  And the frame seems to deflect trail feedback better than the Stumpy. 

So that’s my official unscientific report.

An unfortunate note about riding mt bike Strava loops at lunch:  I saw a couple other riders out there but didn’t stop to say hi as I normally would because, you know, I was virtual-racing against myself from two weeks ago.  Sorry if that was you. Next time. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Race Report Landmine 2012, cat1 single speed

I was looking forward to this year's Landmine for a lot of reasons:
> It's an awesome, one lap, 25 mile course.
> And an extremely well run event that's only 1.5 hours from us in the mid-Cape area.
> I wanted to make up for a poor showing and DNF at TVR.
> And wanted to see how I'd do if I went out a bit faster at the start of the race and see if I could hold the wheels of the lead guys.  Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking that...

So a bunch of strong guys lined up at the start. Fast guys, good technical riders - could be anyone's race. 

Whistle and we're off. Notoriously fast starter Dave Terrell takes off and sets a quickpedal pace that everyone tries to match. He got the single speed train cooking along nicely through the first flat mile or so. Eventually Jake Colvin went by Dave, and sticking to my plan to stay up front, I went with him. Soon Pat Higgins went by both of us. I saw Royce Yeomans just behind me and heard Gerry LaFleur yell at me too, so I knew we were still all pretty close as we hit the rough stuff. 
Jake then me. Going according to plan at this point, but...(photo: notaskitrail on mtbr)

...Pat the wrecking ball is lurking. (gotta love the lefty pron).  (photo: notaskitrail on mtbr)
We went in that order for a while. Jake and I traded spots and worked together a bit on the linking road and fire road bits. Pat was in front of us, but since I had beaten him at Massasoit earlier this year after he ran out of water and faded towards the middle of the race, I figured he might do the same again (the fading, not the water-running-outting...ironically, I ran out of water at Landmine, but it was late enough in the race that it didn't affect me).  So I was thinking it might come down to me and Jake fighting it out for the win...but I was weary about the fast guys behind catching the pace was still cooking.

After a few miles, Pat had inched away, out of sight.  I started to worry a bit, and decided to go get him. I put in a strong push and finally reeled him back after about 5 hard minutes. Jake dropped off a bit behind me, so it was just me and Pat at that point. I passed Pat, and considered putting in an attack, but I decided to recover at that point. Then we got caught up in geared traffic, and a guy crashed on a bridge in front of us.  As swearing geared guy righted his bike and swore his head off, Pat got by me and got an immediate 10 - 20 seconds on me. 

The guy who crashed in front of us was near me in the woods for a while.  He kept on crashing and then swearing like a trucker at the top of his lungs. At first I was kind of put off, but then I couldn't help but laugh my butt off. This made the "constant barrage" of roots and rocks a bit more fun.

I crashed a couple times too and bobbled a few times, but I was still confident that I would catch Pat. I was sure I'd see him around the next turn.  But the rocky/rooty miles went on and on and I never did see him. And I was pushing - so much so that I was really happy with how I raced.  But the next time I saw Pat was at the finish line.  He was a wrecking ball out there on a technical course.

So I got 2nd and Jake got 3rd. All the cat 1 single speeders came in really soon after, one after another. So it really could have been anyone's race. Awesome.

SSers raced awesome Sunday

Me, Pat, Jake
So my season...started with 2 wins in cat 2; then I upgraded and got a 4th, a 1st, and two 2nds. I finish the season feeling really good about it and knowing what I need to work on to get faster (technical stuff) and knowing that when I am feeling good, I can probably go harder.  I'm really hoping that the crew that was racing Sunday is out there next year, along with the faster Cat 2 guys.  It'd be nice to get a real big, competitive group going.

One of the prizes was a pint glass.
Couldn't wait to fill it up...and then empty it. 
I owe a lot of thanks on the season to my team shop, Sea Sports in Hyannis. Owner Jeff is super supportive and knowledgable about racing.  If you're ever down the Upper/mid-Cape and need anything cycling-related, Jeff's shop is the place to go.  I'm already looking forward to our epic shop winter training rides.  And Sea Sports mechanic and teammate "Majick" Mark kept our bikes humming. 

Shouts out to Cape Cod Beer and Cannondale for helping us out also. 

Congrats to teammate and "iron man" Lucas Provost for winning the iron rider award again and leading our team to a great year.  Everyone did really well. 

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What's making your head swim

I’ve heard a fairly regular refrain lately from friends who are sickened and confused by the race for the White House.  I don’t think it’s the race itself that’s doing laps in their head, but more the deluge of misinformation.

It's clear that the politicians have figured out a formula - that lies reach way more people than the subsequent fact-checking and revelations of those lies.  Lie and a million people hear you - get caught lying and only a tenth of them find out.  This isn't always true, as in the case of Tiger Woods, but it seems so with presidential campaigns.

Of course, the media is brutally complicit in letting the lies of the two party agendas trump the truth.  In fact, if you were to read the Huffpost and then Drudge, you’d swear they were talking about two different countries.  Same with Foxnews vs MSNBC.  All media outlets have agendas, and if you believe what they say, you do so at the expense of the truth. 

So where is the truth?

It’s in objectivity and research.  Unfortunately, when we rely on media to do the research for us - as is supposed to be their job - we risk never finding the truth.  The truly objective media is a dying breed and many journalists will either not have enough time to do proper research, are under the influence of laziness, or will bend/omit their research to fit their parent company’s bias. 

Of course, people are more inclined to believe what they want to believe, and not believe what they don’t want to.

It’s easy to question what we DO NOT want to believe.  In seeking truth, however, it is more important to question what we DO want to believe.  

If we accept the Sam Harris definition of lying as intentionally making someone believe something that isn’t entirely consistent with reality, then most journalists, as well as both prez campaigns, are being paid to lie in favor of either their conservative or liberal agenda. And they’re often doing it viciously.

That vicious lying leaves a bad taste in our mouths and a sick feeling in our stomach.  And what's making your head swim - and so many other peoples’ - is that you know you’re not being told the whole truth.  So unless you're willing to do the research yourself, you’re falling back on believing either what you want to, or what comes closest to what you think the truth is.  But you can’t shake free that gurgling in your brain that’s saying “I wonder if there’s more to this story than I’m being told.”  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A brief history of Cape Cod mt biking, and some stravapron

Couple good rides this weekend.  I created my first Strava segment, the "clockwise with extras" loop in Willow St.  For those that know the trails, it goes Art's trail, automile, bushwood, back9, the wall, burning man...cross over the fire road and go back down to the split rock to go left and it does Art's trail in reverse.  So the loop never hits South 6 trail (except for the first 50 yards entering the trail area).  It goes over another segment that someone created previously, but my segment goes in the opposite direction, something Strava doesn't seem to properly acknowledge, plus I added in some extras.

By the way, the "Art" in "Art's trail" is Art Hastings, who along with Doug Jordan, are a couple of the godfathers of Cape Cod mt biking.  Art and Doug started mt biking WAY back when.  According to Art, the two of them found a topographical map of Cape Cod, pinpointed the highest elevation, and said 'let's start there!'  If memory serves, "there" was the top of a ridge in TOT/Sandwich.  There's a makeshift stick teepee and old picnic table there now in case you've ever been there.  Roger Wharton added in some very difficult climbs (his "heartbreakers") some time later and the Sandwich side of TOT is now probably the most challenging mt biking on Cape Cod.  Art and Doug proceeded to build and coop from mxers many of the Barnstable-side TOT trails, as well as Willow St, Weir Rd, probably Nickerson, and some other trails Cape Codders and visitors enjoy to this day.

I met Art at the gym one day in the early 2000's.  We got to talking and he agreed to take me mt biking some day.  Day came and we went into the Weir Rd trails, most of which he built, and he pointed at a pile of rocks and said 'there's the trail' and I said 'behind those rocks?' and he said 'no, it IS those rocks.'  I didn't believe him. He rode over the pile of rocks. I was hooked.

Had a nice group ride on Sunday in Trail of Tears with some of us from team Sea Sports, along with Jason Holm from team Nemba, and Scott and Matt who ride up around Groton.  Didn't get to everything as we started running low on time.  I might try to sneak over there this week at some point to get one long/hard ride in before the long/hard Landmine Classic this Sunday.  The Cat 1 single speed class is stacking up with fast guys, so it should be a real test.

Thanks for reading.