Category Archives: Racing

There Will Be Mud!

And sand! And run ups! And barriers!

Running through the sand at the Georgia State Championship.

I have found a new love.  Cyclocross.  Now my road bike has even more reason to glare at me from its prison on the trainer.  My mountain bike is crying outside in the garage.  The cyclocross bike that I’m borrowing…she’s chomping at the bit to get ridden more.  (Sorry Kurt, but I’ve decided your bike is a girl.)

My first two races in the Georgia Cross series were done on  Frankenbike 2 after I pumped the tires a bit higher and played with the fork settings.  Here’s a quick clip of me running the barriers at my second race.

I love the advice from my friend who was filming.  “Don’t fall.”  Yeah, right.

For the GA State Championship at Ft. Yargo, I got my hands on a true cyclocross bike.  I only had five days to get used to the lack of suspension.  My first ride was at night in rainy 38 degree weather.  I came home with frozen toes, frozen fingers, and a huge smile frozen on my face.  The day before the race I did a few laps of the local beginner mountain bike trails.  I was even able to keep up with several guys on full suspension 29rs.

The race course had telephone poles, two sets of barriers, and my first sand section.  I had a blast.  The CX4 racers got to do four laps.  I cleared the telephone poles twice and nearly crashed into them on the last lap.  I wasn’t able to ride through the sand on the first two laps, so the last two I didn’t even try.  The last lap I rode alone, trying to bridge about a 15 second gap to a group of four guys that I’ve been chasing at both of the other races I did this year, but it didn’t happen.  Oh well…there’s always next year.  Hopefully I’ll have more time dedicated to training specifically for CX on my own bike.  As it is, I can say that I am the 40th ranked CX4 racer in the state of Georgia.  For anyone who is interested, here is my ride on Strava (which is a great website).

The title for this post references a shirt design from an awesome design group Stomach of Anger.  You should get the t-shirt.

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Been a While

It’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog.  In that time a lot of things have happened.  They are as follows, in no particular order:

My wife and I had a little girl.

Jane

I became the store manager at the shop where I work.

My car needed a repair that would have cost more than the car did originally.

I picked up a BMX bike.

I picked up some new shoes and Speedplay Zeros.

I picked up a new frame for my wife.

I stabbed my leg with an XT brake lever during a Pivot demo.

I raced the RAGNAR Miami to Key West race with my entire immediate family (and a few other people).

Team Much Dutch

I raced the RAMBO 4 Ways in a Day race again this year and placed 6th in my division…out of 6.

On the big bike.

I stopped riding my road bike in favor of my mountain bike.

I rode my mountain bike while Atlanta was shut down because of snow and ice.

I continued to switch between clipless and flats on the mountain bike.

I was featured in two online newspaper articles.

I ran my mountain bike into the roof of my garage.  Twice.

I rode one of the most expensive mountain bikes I’ve ever put a leg over.

Nickel. Full SRAM XO 3x10, Easton Haven wheels, 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork with carbon steerer tube, Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock, Truvativ stem, bar and seatpost. Maxxis tubeless tires, ODI lock on grips

I participated in a trail day or two.

My plan is to start contribute to this blog more often.  Since my leg injury healed I’ve been getting outside more and that’s a positive change.

Is It the Engine or the Equipment?

So I crashed on my mountain bike a few weeks ago and the damage to my knee totally took me out of the game (both physically and here on the blog).  No running, no riding, and with the slump in activity, even my swimming felt the hit.  But I’ve started PT and hope to fix my knee for good.  And then this situation came up and I felt it was certainly worth sharing…what do you think?

Lately I’ve started coming to the realization that it’s not always about the equipment but more about the engine behind it (i.e. me and you).  It’s interesting to me, because I’m coming at it from the perspective of someone who works with the newest cycling technology every day.  My job is to convince people that the newest cycling technology will make them better riders.  And I believe it will.  Mountain biking went from rigid clunkers to carbon full-suspension 29rs to DH bikes with more than 10″ of travel.  Road bikes started about as steel and since then have been made from aluminium, scandium, carbon fiber, heck even bamboo!

But the other day I got to ride a tricked out version of the aforementioned Santa Cruz Tallboy 29r owned by one of our regular customers.  This sub-25lb. bike had everything: Edge (now called  Enve) composite wheels, SRAM XX 2×10 drivetrain, carbon handlebars and a Rock Shox XX Sid fork.  Everything, that is, except clipless pedals.  That’s right; the guy who owned this bike worth over $5k (and that’s just at dealer cost) didn’t even clip in.  After years of riding, he’d just never gotten the hang of it.  But that didn’t stop him.  His regular circuit at Big Creek would turn my legs and lungs into a lump of jelly.

A few weeks ago, pre injury, I raced in the Big Creek Time Trial Series.  I felt alright about the time, it was slower than my 4 Ways time, but told myself that it could be better if I had a newer, lighter bike.  This was confirmed when a friend picked up my bike and called over to the officials, telling them to knock a few minutes off my time because of how heavy it is for a XC bike.  Later that same week, I was talking with one of the regular customers at our shop, mentioning my plans for a new bike.  He asked what my recent lap time was and looked at me in disbelief.  Even with his new bike that weighs four to five pounds less than mine, my slow time was two full minutes faster than his best lap time.

This caused my focus to change a bit.  Instead of worrying out when I’m finally going to scrape together enough cash for my new mountain bike, I’m going to focus on improving my body using the equipment currently in my possession.  Feeling sorry that I own a 35lb. XC bike – think of it as resistance training.  Still have a granny gear on my road bike – just means I need to hit up steeper hills.  Bum knee – more time to get back into swimming and rock climbing and build my upper body while I rehab the knee.

Big Creek Race Report!

My first mountain bike race happened two weekends ago and it was quite a race.  As I’ve said before, the Big Creek 4 Ways in a Day race combines XC trails, an uphill climb, a DH run and a Slalom run.  The King (and Queen) of Big Creek is the person with the lowest combined time.  The shorter events are weighted so that you can’t just run away with the XC course and survive the remaining events.  You have to be a well rounded rider.  Some people brought two bikes to to take advantage of gravity – either going uphill or downhill.

The morning started a bit brisk around 40 degrees.  The riders signed in and had a choice: hit the trails early for the first lap or wait until the last minute and hope the temperature warmed up.  I chose the former since riding around the concrete Greenway was freezing my fingers. The riders were starting at 1 minute intervals when I took off and I managed to pass two riders and only get passed by one, so I felt pretty good even though it took half a lap to warm up.  I didn’t have to get off my bike in either of the two sections that have been giving me problems lately.  That was an accomplishment in itself.  While I prefer the first direction we went, I knew from past laps that the counter clockwise direction is faster due to long, slow uphills coupled with steeper downhills.  Fully warmed up, I pushed hard on the second lap, again passing two people and getting passed once, despite starting at 30 second intervals for the second lap. 1 way down, 3 to go.

With the second lap finished, it was time for the El Scorcho climb.  It’s 700 linear feet with around 150 vertical feet of climbing.  While this might not sound too tough, it was a newly cut trail, so the ground hadn’t packed down much and there was evidence of rear wheels spinning out after each switchback.  On my 14 year-old 35lb bike, just getting up the hill is tough enough.   The race officials were estimating a little under two minutes per run and I finished in 1:48 with a loud grunt and no dabbing.  The eventual winner beat out two guys on cyclocross bikes with a time of 1:03.

The race was halfway through and it was time for lunch. The RAMBO folks cooked some tasty (and giant) burgers.  A few shops were there offering neutral support and I got a chance to drool over some new Niner bikes.

After lunch was over, the real fun began with the  DH and Slalom events. The sun had climbed higher and the weather was perfect for the competitors and the spectators.  Finally, the weight of my bike was going to pay off.  Being the only person running DH with V-brakes was a little intimidating, butI was totally focused by the time my countdown started.  I narrowly avoided clipping a tree and a 2 foot drop on the first run and felt way more confident on my second run.  Slalom was more fun, since I didn’t have to worry about any major drops and there were some massive berms to carve through.  I rolled all the jumps and ended up a respectable 4th place in the Beginner division.

I returned to the starting area and watched the crowning of the King and Queen, grabbed my sweet pint glass and headed home with my first mountain bike race in the bag.

Rejoice – DST Is Upon Us!

This past weekend marked the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in Georgia.  While it’s now light out until almost 8pm, we’re still stuck in monsoon season.  Every day I eagerly check the weather report only to find that my days off always manage to coincide with the days it rains.  Needless to say, my training for the 4 Ways in a Day race has been severely limited, especially on the downhill section.  I was confident with last years race line, but this year they’ve mixed up the route and made it more aggressive, even for the beginner class that I’ll be racing in.  As long as the weather cooperates, that is.  I already know I can’t get time off for the make-up rain date in April.

Bring it on 2010!

It’s almost mid-February and by now people have forgotten their New Year’s resolutions.  Usually that would be the case with me.  But this year, I took the time to write down my recreational goals, and I’m going to share them here to keep myself reminded of the lofty ambitions instilled in me with each passing January.  So as I look back on a relatively unproductive first month, resolution-wise, I am reminded that I already have to play catch-up on a whole month’s worth of workouts.

My first resolution is to fix my right knee.  During last year’s ING Georgia Half Marathon, I injured it around mile 4 but still finished the race.  Feeling completely disoriented, I decided I’d rather go with the flow of 11,000 participants than against them.  Maybe not the best decision in retrospect, but at the time it actually hurt more when I walked than when I ran.  Eleven months later, I struggle to run 2 miles without significant pain.  I resolve to actively repair my knee: be it through stretching, weights, non-impact exercise machines, even physical therapy or any combination thereof.

Last year I had a set of mileage goals that I did not achieve, so I am going to use those as my goals again this year:

Swim – 88,000 yds (50 miles, including at least two hour-long continuous swims)

Bike – 2,237 miles (the total distance of the 2010 Tour de France)

Run – 262 miles (10 marathons worth or a long run for Dean Karnazes)

Aside from the general mileage goals, I want to participate in two cycling races (one road; one mountain) and two triathlons, as well as finish my first century ride and maybe even a cyclocross race.  I want to get involved at the velodrome here in Atlanta and complete their beginner’s program.  I want to build a pump track in my backyard.  I also plan on volunteering at 4 trail days.  There is nothing more satisfying for me than riding past the grade reversal I carved out all by myself at a local mountain bike trail. They might pass by in a split second while I’m riding, but those 15 feet of trail give me a sense of ownership far beyond anything else.