Monday, March 17, 2008


I'm not sure if that quite captures my experience in my first crit this year. I started out slow and it wasn't even little by little, I died out completely and quickly. I've got great fitness this year but damn, not one bit of speed. The repeated punches out of the corners killed me stone dead in 10 minutes. I guess that is one of the problems with trying to cover the different disciplines in this sport as I've done in the last couple years. While my single speed mountain biking is really going well at the moment, my road is suffering. I guess I really need to go back and start my uphill intervals and low gear sprint training for the year. Now that it is getting warmer as well as lighter, this will be easier. I still can't believe how much of a slow-twitcher I've become over the past couple years. I'm not entirely comfortable with it since I used to be a pretty reliable crit rider even when I was out of shape. I did drown out the bad memory of the race on saturday with a good long fun (fairly tough at some points) mountain bike ride. After riding out and with Gunnar, Betsy and Mark Glass, with did a bit more than 3 hours on the trail. Then on the ride home, we did some sprints on the rail trail. I did all five while they took turns trying to work me over. I was undergeared to them (32x20 vs their 32x19 - makes quite a difference really). I still won 2 of the 5 and I also did them all. I'll put that trophy up there with my Black Bear derby win from last year. That'll get me a small coffee at some truck stop somewhere. Afterwards, we road a bit more on the trail, but then had to go up this nasty climbing trail. A good portion of it we had to walk the bikes up the trail steps. It looked like a 150+ foot gain in a short distance and then we still had the final climbs up to the house after that. I stayed with them til the final little pitch before the roadway. Then I fell apart.

just before proving you can do an endo on a 29er.

Git off them there brakes dammit! (pics from Race the Trace WVMBA '07)

Over the last several years, I've made falling apart a total art form over the years too. In a bigger race, if this is done right, it can be quite profitable. I had been to one stage race where I was the last rider on the road on the hilly road stage. Every time I caught someone, they'd quit. I guess they figured if I'd caught them, they were really out of it. It was raining and cold. The body was totally locking up and I was even having trouble breathing I was hurting so much. When I finally got in and crossed the line, I completely collapsed. I had to be helped off the bike. I was a total mess. Lying on the ground, drooling, I did look pretty pathetic. But, in my sorry looking state, I did arouse a lot of sympathy and my helmet quickly turned into a fruit basket and I was being given energy gels and bars, cokes, gatorade and water. Plus, the lady who was helping me gave me a good massage on the legs and back to help stop them from shaking so much. If I'd been in any shape to drink any beer that night, I don't think I would have had to pay. The riders who'd bailed and were in the truck behind me couldn't believe I finished and said drinks were on them that night. I guess that experience showed that if you can't do something well, at least be colorful about it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fitness at hand?

Yesterday was the regular Sunday Morgantown mountain bike ride. It is seemingly getting easier. I think the pace was a definitely slower than the week before, but I wasn't even stretched any. My biggest problem is I need to take up the tension on the chain. I had to pop it back on about 6 times. That was pretty much the only reason I dropped back any. I did dump it once and was the stopping point for a bit of a stackup on a wicked decent. I had a couple riders toppled into me but amazingly, we all kept upright. Halfway down, we got the call to stop since Betsy took a nasty spill at the bottom. She apparently buggered herself up some since she bailed on the ride shortly thereafter. Hopefully she's ok. Reportedly she was, but she rode straight home but had one of the other girls let us know that she was fine and not to worry. I'm guessing she'll be feeling it tomorrow. Gunnar will probably be in a bit late to work after riding her into work and their kids are probably all worried. On a couple of the road rides I did this past week, I'd done ok on some climbs and was able to stay in the saddle for them and even kept the pace up. I really do have to get a new chain. I've been riding the one on this bike for a bit longer than I like to. It's time to make the yearly order for the 5 or 6 chains I'll go thru this year. I also really do need to get a 25 or 26 for my smallest cog. Even though I'm making it up the climbs, I'm just feeling that it's a bit early for trying to do the He-man thing and muscling it up. I haven't really started doing any specialized workouts. I've found that starting those too early makes the season really long and it usually takes my first ass kicking to get me to start thinking about what I have to do to get competitive. I'm really aiming to repeat the WV 40+ series title I had gotten last year. I'd won 3 of the 5 individual events as well as the overall at the Mountaineer stage race. This year, they're even supposed to have leaders jerseys which will be cool. A bit of a budget crunch on their part stopped that for last year, but I can deal with something like that to help get a good series started where I don't have to drive for hours to get to the race. I guess I'm getting lazy in my old age. It's that or I'm saving the driving batteries for cross season. One of the other big goals for this year will be my defense of the prestigious Black Bear Derby. I gave Gunnar, F**kerman, and Mike Yozell a kicking in that race. I aim to rub it in as much as possible. Beyond that, the WVMBA series starts up soon. I did ok in my category last year and considering I really didn't have a clue as to what I was doing on a mountain bike, it was a good overall result. I'll probably have done around 14 mountain bike races this year so it'll be a lifetime high in that category. I've been finding it much more fun compared to the Wednesday night crits in Pittsburgh. Since we've had the oval, far too many people think they are A category riders because they can sit in the pack and get pulled along. Plus, with the team thing there, it's gotten more like high school with all of the little cliques that have formed up in the last few years. Rather than just having a fun race, it's become FAR to serious with some of the teams acting like they are pros. I know pro riders that aren't as uptight as these guys are. I guess you get all types though. Myself, I like to race hard, but having fun and being safe about it ranks just a wee bit higher than the 'where is the team and our riders ranked?' that seems to prevail in our formerly friendly ACA club in Pittsburgh lately.

Friday, March 7, 2008

%$@%^&!!! Weather

For the third week in a row, my race has been canceled due to the weather. Here's a perfect time to roll off into a good old man rant:

When I was a young racer, dammit we never canceled races due to weather. Unless there was 6 inches of snow and ice on the road, it was game on! I remember winning a race because my bike was the only one left that could change gears. It was that bad out. And we didn't have any of this sissy gore-tex-thinsulate wondro material clothing either. It was good ol' wool socks, silk undershirts, plastic bags in the shoes and if it was really nasty, a chamois chest protector. Do they still make those? No, of course not. They were cheap, easily made and they lasted a good long time. I still wear wool gloves out on the road. Your hands still stay warm even if the glove start getting wet. This past week, I decided to try to embrace technology and I used a pair of neoprene socks the other day. It was around 30 degrees and yeeeessshh, my damn feet froze. This is moving forward? Hell, I'll just go back to my wool socks and plastic bags if this is what the tech clothing world does for you. I pine for the old days when little things like a blizzard didn't stop us from having a race. It just made it more of an epic day and one more classic thing to brag about to the young riders when we'd be out on a training ride. It'd be like 'Oh, you think today is bad. I remember doing a race when things were so bad out....' and 'and just when we crested the climb, you'd think we'd get a chance to rest? Heck, no, we had to climb the other side of that mountain too. We only had 10 gears to do it with too. You punks are spoiled rotten.'