Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ICE WEASELS 2014; the Diamond Hill Monster

I spent 4th and 5th grade at Mercymount Day School on the other side of Diamond Hill. So I know well the story of the Diamond Hill Monster.

Long before the mirrorflage alien of Predator, the Diamond Hill Monster's sparkly specter took frightening shape in Rhode Island folklore.

Rumored to be made of diamonds, the monster lurked in the thick forest of Diamond Hill and awaited unsuspecting night hikers.

The best time to see the monster was when the moon was rising over the hill. Suddenly something transparent would pass in front of the moon, and its glow would dampen and its light refract and blur. Then just as quickly, clear moonbeams would return, the hiker's sight restored, but a tingling curiosity would start them shivering. The distant sound of crunching leaves under heavy footprints would stand their hairs on end...the noise coming ever closer...snapping twigs, just behind now....then all sound ceased into an eerie silence.

The hiker would peer into the dark woods as shapes began to take form. "What is that, who is that, next to that tree? Wait, it kinda looks me! It's a reflection. But how?..."

By then it was too late. The slicing had begun. (Cue the burst of scary music).

Our old gym teacher scared the shit out of us with that stories like that. Then a field trip over the hill was cancelled when someone died in the park. The official cause of death was a heroin overdose, but rumor has it that the police were a bit baffled over how a simple overdose became such a bloody mess.

We weren't baffled...we knew it was the work of...the Diamond Hill Monster! (More scary music).

And so for me it was with slightly morbid joy that the Ice Weasels 2014 moved to the Diamond Hill Park. I raced the "age-discriminated*" Killer Bs (*the announcer's name for us 40plussers) and the Single Speed party, er, race.

I didn't get attacked by the monster at all, so that was good. But I crashed pretty hard, which wasn't.

And I got yelled at (more than once) for shitty riding, but that's my own fault :-)  It was only my 2nd CX race. Cross is hard, all those stupid muddy turns.
Putting down the watts! All 27 of them! (photo Aliicia Crowell Furrer)
For the SS race I wore a pimp costume and lost my purple pants between barriers and whipped them to some dude who waved them and whooped as I subsequently rolled by.

Gal on right was all smiles until she ended up behind me through some turns,
 and then she couldn't pass me fast enough. I'm so awful at this. (Photo Aliicia)
I have CX trust issues: I don't trust my tires in the turns. It's amazing how quickly a real CX racer can close down on you when you take every turn wide and shaky (see above caption). Having only a handful of rides on an actual CX bike didn't help, but still...

See my fatass Sea Sports blue kit embarrass itself through a few turns at about 4:55 of this vid from fellow Cape rider Steve (who fell into the reverse holeshot at .01 of the race when the guy in front of him missed clipping in, but then Steve caught and passed a whole lotta racers). I look so slow, so pitifully slow.

Kudos to my fellow Sea Sportsters Gabe ("Goose") and Bryan (who was closing in on the top 10 in the Jedis before DOUBLE FLATTING on a sharp rock).

Goose taking turns and talking to Maverick. (Photo Meg McMahon)
Bryan: The force is strong in this wan. (Photo Aliicia)
Kudos to my fellow Codders from C4 racing (of which I'm now a proud member). They are the NICEST people.

Trish threw the donut before the rock...

...and caught it in her mouth on the other side. (Photos Aliicia)
Kudos to the race organizers and volunteers for putting this together in 48 hours and making it seem like they've been having races there for 10 yrs. And to the timers and lap counters -- not sure how you kept track of things. Voodoo, I assume.

More kudos to the funny announcer who never lost his breath, voice, or sense of humor.

Kudos to the monster for not slicing anyone's face off, though I have to wonder if he had something to do with Bryan's double flat.

Today's the one-year anniversary of ending up in the hospital because of Lyme's disease. Still healing, but fingers crossed that Lyme's is in the rearview for good.  Ice Weasels was the perfect fun fitness test to end a fairly tumultuous year of unhealth.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gordon Barker No Brakes Race Report and the Period at the End of the Sentence

After a lost race season, I decided to suit up for Sea Sports at the Gordon Barker No Brakes Race at Stratham Hill Park in Stratham, NH.  My local teammates have been kicking my ass lately, so I figured I’d let 50 other people have that pleasure. I raced in the Expert 18+ field.

The race course was really sweet, lots of bench-cut single track, a few steep climbs, and tons of really nice volunteers.  Seems Stratham has a really nice community, not unlike my little village in Sandwich. Bravo!

I’m not sure why I decided to do this race. I guess I wanted to test myself, to feel the rush of racing again, to feel like I wasn’t useless. But now that I feel like I’m maybe/actually/finally feeling “normal” again, I guess I was hoping I could look back and give the Year of Lyme’s the big middle finger. 

I planned on riding my Cannondale (geared hardtail) but I cut the tire this week and couldn’t get the old tires I had lying around to keep air (tubeless) on Saturday, so I decided to just race the Misfit single speed. 

I put the climby 32/20 gear on, the race being in NH and all. Had the rigid Salsa steel fork on the front. I don’t think I could’ve picked a worse set up to race at Stratham Hill.

Strava says there was about 850’+ of climbing per each of the two laps, but it felt like maybe 200’. If that.  I didn’t expect to see any Wilichoskis or Crossleys during the race, but I also didn’t expect to be spit out the back so quickly.

The start was flat. Flat road, flat dirt road, flat double track.  Me and another SSer from NEMBA RACING chatted at the back as we watched the entire field disappear into the future in the first 30 seconds. 

Once we got into the single track, I started to pick up places. But the 32/20 was so spinny that I just couldn’t get a good flow going, and the first real climb didn’t come for about 2 miles. And while the course was not technical, there were enough little roots and rocks that the rigid was constantly popping me up because I was spinning so much. Nonetheless, I relaxed and picked up a few spots here and there, mainly on the climby parts. As usual, I felt better in 2nd half of race, and made some more passes to end up 26th out of 50 or so.

I think I was 2nd out of 3 single speeders. I came close to the SS leader at one point (thanks in part to a pull from another NEMBA Racer -- thanks!), but he was stronger and he crept away.  He might’ve been running a bigger gear, 32/18 I’m guessing, and had a fork.

So that’s that.  My race season lasted 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Now looking forward to mellow rides, more trail running (my new obsession), lots of stretching and weights, losing about 12 more lbs, some rest … and then cranking up the training early in 2015 in prep for next year’s race season. Hopefully this Gordon Barker race was the period at the end of my Lyme’s sentence. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Starting O-o-veeerrrr

Haven't written in a long time because, you know, who gives a shit?  Plus I haven't raced at all this year.

Only writing now for the same reason someone might write in a diary - just to see how I felt at a particular time in my personal history.

And that felt is pretty good, actually.

Approximately 8 months after treatment for Lyme's and low b12, and I'm (finally) feeling pretty good. I've strung together about 5 days in a row of pretty goodedness and that beats my recent record by about 4 days.

AND, that happens to coincide not coincidentally with having not ridden my bike in 15 days.  I felt pretty good back in the beginning of April too, but then relapsed and I've spent the last 4 months on a roller coaster of sorts. Was tested for lots of stuff, but so far haven't found out anything to explain the raft of neurological symptoms plus fatigue and constant muscle soreness.

Back in April, my sis-in-law (doctor and elite runner) suggested that I might be overtraining as I was coming back from the December bout with Lyme's. Only took four months for me to decide to now really test that theory. I do admit that there were many rides in the last few months where I knew I wasn't recovered and still went like hell. Plus the stress of selling an old and buying a new house and having two kids under age 5, etc...  But I wasn't riding nearly as much as others I know...but they weren't coming off stage 3 Lyme's either.

Well now 15 days off saddle and I'm really wondering if she was right.

And thanks to Strava, I can look back and see some pretty silly stuff in the past few months. Riding to the ride, riding like a bandit, then riding home. Fun, epic, dumb. Oh well, live and learn.

Strava is a double-edged sword for a competitive dude like me. Easy rides have too often turned into KOM attempts because I know the orange eye in the sky is tracking my every move, even as the fatigue demons lurked deep in the weaves of my quads.

[As an interesting (to me) aside, the fastest I've ever been on a bike, generally speaking, was when I only used Strava to track rides, and BEFORE the local Stravaites segmented out my local woods. And that was on my Niner One9, that noodly little bitch with the dodgy BB, and in a 32/18 because that was the only gearing where the BB would rub the warped BB shell enough to stay put.  I wasn't "training" then, was just trying to ride fast and have fun.]

So my new plan is to wait until I hit a full week of feeling close to 100% and then start riding again, and SLOWLY build, avoiding Strava and group hammerfests for a while.  That close to 100%edness is probably a ways off, but I definitely feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

It'll be just like starting over - starting o-o-veeerrrr.