Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TSA Is Here To Protect You from Endurance Food

How on Earth could I forget to mention what happened with TSA? My bag got searched BOTH DIRECTIONS by TSA. They left little fliers in my bag and appear to have sampled my Endurox (see baggy photos below). I wonder if they snorted it to check it out. Maybe they were tired and needed something to drink...

All I know is that I feel much safer. Oh, and I feel safer that they upset my packing job and half of my riding clothes were drenched when I unpacked on Saturday morning. WHEW!

Thanks TSA! You guys ROCK!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vail Lake Race Report

Oh jeez. Where to start. These pics are out of order, of course. MattyD and Kemler are on the right. Then MattyD heading out on his first lap, my bike with Kemler's (working) bike at the start/finish, Kemler before his first lap (flying de colores), MattyD lined up for the run, JoFo after his first lap, the campsite at Vail Lake and the team pic (L to R, me, MattyD, JoFo, Kemler).

I got on a plane in DC on Friday morning. Nothing too crazy early. That was nice.

I got to San Diego and it was cold. It started raining as soon as I got in the cab. I wasn't amused.

I got out of the cab at Bike Tours San Diego and rolled into a war zone. Pete is gutting the place and Joe was hiding out in the back, putting his bike together. It started frikken raining. Africa rain. It was a deluge. This wasn't San Diego weather, it was Seattle weather. I got really scared really quick. I was hungry...

We got the bikes together, loaded up the minivan and headed to Whole Foods for our weekend grub run. I grabbed a pound or so of their ginger-something trail mix and started GRUBBING! I was hungry. While we scooted around and filled up our cart with our race food, I ate damn near 1/2 lb of that stuff. Can you see where this is going? This is called 'foreshadowing.' I was hungry, did I mention that?

We rocked out of there and hit REI for a few essentials. No problems, no getting lost, nothing. Just a few inches of rain. Did I mention I was scared?

After slogging through rush-hour traffic on I15N, we FINALLY make it to the camp ground/resort a few hours later than planned. MattyD and Katie were even later so Joe and I kicked it at the site. Ok, Joe kicked it, I was dealing with A Number One headache. (Foreshadowing). I felt like unholy ass for a solid hour and a half (during which MattyD and Katie showed up). We were trying to figure out where to set up our tents on the acre of campsite we had all to ourselves (no kidding). I went for a walk and lost weight the model way. Yup, campsite boot and rally. I was upset. Too much sugar and ginger, methinks. Actually, I was relieved but my stomach was PISSED OFF! I felt a lot better so we headed off to newly-suburbanized Temecula for some local fare... at friggen Applebee's. I know, I know. I polished off a steak and felt like one hundred dollars.

We set up camp when we got back and I just crashed in the back of the minivan. It was a disturbed sleep. I wasn't happy...

Katie woke me up and the whole morning was a blur. Kemler showed up during the Captain's meeting down at the start/finish area. That was a pretty big relief. Damn that guy is skinny. It was really great to see him again. He's a great guy and I knew we all would have a good time. But...

We got off to a great start. MattyD ran for the Le Mans style start and had a fast lap. I think we were in the top 10 right away. No surprises. I had a solid lap even though I went out WAY too hard on the first (and biggest) climb. The back half of the course requires some power and I was spent. The downhills were FAST! I was spinning out my 44x11 gear. Me likey. There were a few hike-a-bike sections that basically went straight up. There was no way in hell to clean these suckers. WAAAY steep. The last 10 minutes of the course are mostly downhill and FAST! It wasn't technical but to hold the momentum took some guts. There were drops and pretty-big breaking bumps but you could damn-near ride the thing blindfolded. Did I mention it was fast? 1500' of climbing per lap over 10 miles and we were averaging a few minutes under an hour. Woof.

MattyD, me, JoFo, Kemler. Repeat.

While Kemler was warming up for lap numero dos, he rode back into the campsite, threw his leg off the bike and tossed his rear brake over the top tube. It was still attached to the cable, just not to the bike. He broke his cantilever boss off the bike. Oh. My. God. Talk about deja vu. I swapped his Time pedals over to my bike and I sent him off. We had opposite laps so it just made sense. Off he went, no issues. If you read this blog closely, you'll remember that Kemler had issues with his bike at 12 Hrs of Lodi back in 2001, the last time we raced together. I fixed him up then and I took care of him now. Sonuvabitch! I should have known.

I tried to prove something on my first two laps. I managed a 55:59 and 55:42. Not bad. After that, I kinda fell apart. I was pretty un-motivated. We were solidly in first place for Expert. We had the other Expert team camping right next to us and they had been talking about hanging WAY back after the first few laps. Hell, after my first lap, we were ahead by 14 minutes. That's good. By the time we hit the sleepy-time hours, I was starting to lose it mentally.

I don't know what happened. We were doing well. Kemler was stoked on my bike. Everybody felt fine. We were having fun. But it was cold. In the 40's during the night. And it was humid. I couldn't find anything. My brain was working against me. I was slightly dehydrated after my third lap, or rather, that's when I noticed it. I don't know what it was but I just wasn't feeling it anymore. I wanted to go to sleep. And NOW!

I botched the 1:20am lap hand off with MattyD. I was drying my clothes at the fire. Nobody was awake and I didn't have a watch so I was just gambling with the time. I felt like ass. I rode a 1:09 and paid for it the entire lap. I just couldn't get it going. Something was off and I still don't know what it was.

Kemler ate shit pretty hard in a turn and pulled a 1:33 on his pre-dawn lap. He was laying down for a few minutes and got up once he figured out he was alive. He ganked his knee and elbow pretty good and removed himself from the lineup when he got back to the campsite.

We had been knocking around between fourth and seventh overall during the night. I couldn't get my head out of my arse long enough to pay attention to the standings during the night and just did the best that I could. By daybreak, we were pretty sure that we had the Expert class sewn up but the overall was close. We were 1/2 hour out of third (made worse by my lap times) but only 15 seconds up on fifth by the end of the race. MattyD and JoFo really pulled through to ensure our place in the overall. Big ups to the boys. MattyD and my bike get MVP awards. My bike pulled 10 laps and Mattyd pulled seven. Studs, both of 'em.

We have some pics coming from the rest of the team and some stuff posted on I also rigged up MattyD with the helmet cam for his last lap so we have the last 9 minutes or so of the downhill from the top of the hike-a-bike at the top of the ridge. I have to send this over to a buddy of MattyD to edit it and it's too big for YouTube. We'll get it rolling asap.

This was the first race in a while where I wasn't the last man on the course for my team. I REALLY appreciated that. It's fun to ride the victory lap but I didn't have it in me this year.

All the lap times and standings are hanging out here. Special thanks to Pete from Bike Tours San Diego for letting Joe and I crash at his rad downtown apartment in the Gas Lamp. Thanks to Katie for waking my dumb-ass up when MattyD went out for his laps and for the life-saving PB&J at 3am.

So first place Expert, 5th place over all. I'm stoked. I'm tired. I have a lot of work to do. It was rad. The course was really fun and difficult in terms of physical effort but not in technicality. 'Flow' was the word of the day. Laird did a great job, even though somebody stole his bike...

Thanks to City Bikes, Metro Gutter, Temperance Hall, Whole Foods, Sportlegs, Serfas, WTB for their support.

Vail Lake Victory!

First place Expert, 5th overall. Here's MattyD celebrating after his last lap, with helmet cam... We'll have videos, race reports, course info and more coming in the next few days.

Great race, great venue, good times, broken bodies and bikes, hot showers. Thanks Laird.

More later...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Days to Go!

I'm packing up all my crap for the race. I'm a bit nervous about my 'needs' during the race. Here's a shot of my packing job on my Endurox. I hope TSA isn't concerned. This might not go well...

I've got pills, powders, gels... I might not make it through the airport, let along through the race! Keep an eye out for my pictures from jail!

The nerves are down but the energy is up. I've been busy getting the shoes and helmets ready, including the helmet cam for a night lap.

It's a lot of stuff. I've got the big bag and a torso-sized back already full. This is why I hate flying with a bike... So much stuff AND a huge container.

See y'all next week! I'm on a plane out of National in the morning...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hot Off the Press: Spec'd 29 Stuff

The entire industry has been using the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey as a de-facto new product launching area. It's crazy how important this event is for the Big Boys these days. If you don't have something ready for the Otter, it's probably not going to be ready for INTERBIKE. Spec'd took this op to announce and show some new stuff including a bike, wheels and tires. If you quicksearch around, you can see real live pics of this stuff instead of the .pdf-stripped images that I pulled for you to check out. I haven't seen ANY of this in person and can't really vouch for how it's going to hit, but knowing Specialized, it'll be worth checking out.

(By the way, a friend of a friend beat Weir in the DH at Sea Otter. Nice work Curtis!).

Here's the new Stump 29'er. Spec'd just sent our a press release about it. They said a bunch of good stuff about it. No way. Last year, they poo-poo'ed the 29'er thing when we asked about when they would come out with the bikes. Now they realize that this goofball, inbred industry is just selling more bikes to the same bike people over and over again and they should get in on the racket. Giant will be on-board next year... Keep those trends comin'! WOOHOO!

They also have a new mtn wheelset that's supposed to be sub-1400 grams in 26". THAT'S light. No word on when this stuff will hit the public. Wait, late Summer 07 for the wheels at $800. Not bad. DT stuff mostly. I'll try to get some inside info.

Also on deck are some 20/25mm thru-axle wheeliedeelies from Roval. They are E5 rims but a bit more stout for big boy use. It's nice to have an option for the 25mm stuff and these will probably come on the 08 Sworks bikes. Going 20 to 25mm thru on a single wheelset will solve a lot of problems for the travel-bike set regarding getting involved with the new E150 fork on the Enduro SL. We'll see how it goes. We won't see 08 stuff from them until August (Salt Lake this year) and I'm sure we'll see additional pressure to bring these suckers in. Since Easton has been crap on delivery this year, we'll probably see them in the store anyway. Looking good. Oh, the name is Roval XC Race and Roval Traversee with an accent over the second-to-last 'e.' (How to type that?)

On deck for later this year, we have some new tires as well. Sauser AND Ned get their own tires it appears. July 07 will see two versions of the SauserWind tires, both in a BEEFY 1.8" version. Hmmm. I wonder how many I'll buy. Oh yeah, none. The 2Bliss version of this tire is tubeless (no way) and is sub-500 grams with flat protection. Not sure what that means, but it's not an Armadillo tire. Race weenies UNITE! Or UNTIE! Whatever you need to do...

The other tire is named after Ned 'The Captain' Overend. If it's not, I feel stoopid. This is a bit more reasonable 2.0 tire in Sworks, Armadillo and regular Sport versions. This is something I'd run just in the hopes that Ned gets a few bucks extra if I buy 'em. Hear that Ned?

I've been pretty happy with the current tires from WTB (sponsor) so I'll be hard-pressed (or is that hard-up) for new tires any time soon. I hope WTB doesn't get mad that I mentioned Curtis 'Bucky' Beavers beat WTB employee Mark Weir in the downhill at Sea Otter. Maybe I shouldn't have just typed that again...

3 days until 24 Hours of Vail Lake... Laird sent me an email saying 'the course is in GREAT shape.' Weather is calling for some rain on Friday which should knock down the dust and make the trails PERFECT for racing! Getting excited!

Patapsco Flow Trail Update - Oops

I still don't know what to call this damn project. We had a meeting with DNR yesterday and even though it seems a bit silly now, people want to know, so here you go. Thanks to Erock for the summary...


My Thoughts for Virginia Tech

My thoughts are with the students and their families of Tech. My buddy went from high school went to Tech and there are a lot of local alumni in this area from Tech. Horrible.

My first thoughts always go to my kids when something like this happens. I worry that something could happen to them as they grow up and gain more independence from Susan and I. I don't stay up at night (yet) worrying, but I never want my kids to have to go through something like this.

I was out with E&J this morning and we saw a kid waiting for the bus with a VT sweatshirt on. I immediately began thinking about what I would have to say to them if they were old enough to realize what just happened. I don't know if I'll be up to the task of giving them perspective. I think I'll tell them that there are horrible things that happen in the world, that people ALL have evil and good inside them, constantly battling and that it is a CHOICE to go one way or the other. I don't ever want them to think that there is some outside force that causes them to do one thing or another. I want them to understand that you have to CHOOSE to be a positive impact on the world and people around you, every day. That you have to keep on living in spite of all of the bad things out in the world, to not be afraid. I think I'll tell them that there is no amount of planning that you can do to keep bad things from happening, you have to deal with them as they come. No matter how bad things are now, they will get better and a time will come when they are worse than they are now. I hope that I have the strength to help guide them through the things they choose to share with me and Susan as they grow and learn about what it means to be a full member of society under their own power.

I hope that I can be there for them. I hope that I am smart enough and strong enough to be a positive force in their lives.

Be strong Blacksburg. Our thoughts are with you.

Puts a silly thing like bike racing in some pretty stark perspective...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

In My Mind...

24 Hours of Vail Lake is a week away. If you want to follow our progress, click this. The real-time scoring stuff is really cool. Bikes will be racing 4-man Expert.

A lot of physiological stuff starts to happen with me when it gets close to race time. The nerves start and I have a need to constantly talk about the race. I tell pretty-much everyone about what I am gearing up for. Not so much on the details, but I mention that I have a race coming up. It's on my mind so I share it in order to move on with their needs. I have a solid block of internal doubt and insecurity that pushes its way closer to my consciousness with every day that slips by before a race.

A few weeks out, I start freaking out about how much I have or haven't ridden. Over-trained? Under-rested? Enough base miles? Enough intervals? ANY intervals? I don't exactly have a plan for 'training.' I just try to ride as much as I can, weather permitting. (I don't like wet, but cold is no problem). One of the ways that this worry manifests itself is a complete lack of desire to ride my mountain bike. I know it sounds weird, but I get so set on riding a lot that I won't even drive 1/2 hour to ride for 1 1/2 hours when I can ride out the front door for 2 1/2 hours and not drive. Also, racing a lot is expensive so not driving when gas is at or near $3/gal helps out with my sponsors - Susan, Emma and Jeremy.

When I get to the minus-one week time frame, everything turns to logistics. I start thinking about what I need to take with me, worrying about what I'm going to forget and planning on how I'm going to deal with losing EVERYTHING on the way there but still finding a way to race. I line up who I can borrow a light from, who has a bike and gear I can use, that kind of stuff. I plan on having the least amount of stuff with me so I have to count on whatever I DID remember to bring. The more I try to simplify and concentrate on the real needs, the more I am able to relax and keep my brain from exploding.

I also start worrying about the weather. Luckily, San Diego is friggen paradise. My year + living there freaked me out as it pretty much doesn't rain. It's a desert. You had to wear a long-sleeved jersey in 'Winter' (emphasis on quotes) which was Jan-Mar, that's it. If it DOES rain, it's an absolute NIGHTMARE to try and ride. The trail turns to absolute MUSH and makes ECoast riding seem like road riding. Some areas hold up pretty well, but places like Mission Trails are almost un-ridable. The weather affects the clothes situation too. I always bring enough clean clothes to wear clean stuff every lap. If I am right about the lap times, we should be looking at 1 hour or less laps. That means that we might have to complete 6 laps each, maybe 7! That's a lot of jerseys, shorts, gloves, headbands... I bring two pairs of shoes and two helmets as there is nothing worse than a 4am lap with wet gear. Avoid that if you can.

Now, what can I forget? Exposed riding in SD requires a visor. Don't forget that. It's really dry and I'll be flying the day before so drink lots on the flight, try not to pee my pants. Hope the bike survives UPS. At least my buddy's shop will be able to hook me up if I have issues. I'm bringing the helmet cam to record a night lap. Should be fun. Do I take the computer so I can download the video and record multiple laps or just buy a few sd cards? Should I even bring the cam? Is anything going to get confiscated by TSA on the flight? I have to make sure I get some White Lightning. The dust out there is crazy and any other lube can grind your drivetrain to a halt. Ugh. I'm glad that I do this for 'fun' (emphasis on quotes) and not professionally. It's stressful enough as it is.

When it comes to race day, all of this worrying will actually pay off. Once I get suited up and go to watch the start of the race (I'm NOT running!), it's all gravy. I'm probably the slowest or second slowest on the team. JoFo and MattyD have the same coach and have been getting stronger and faster each year. I'm bigger than they are, my bike is heavier but I'm angrier! I haven't heard the official 'I got a flight' communique from Kemler up in SF so it might just be the three of us. Woof. That would be something. I can count on my boys to push through anything, crank out laps, fix whatever goes wrong and be consistent. Mechanicals happen, but these guys will run or turn their bikes into singlespeeds if they have to. Flats? Who cares, ride. Light out? Follow somebody with an HID and DO NOT lose them under any circumstances.

I've got a bunch of work to do before I leave for the race on Friday morning. There's still plenty that can go wrong but I'll dwell on that until we touch down in San Diego. I'll be walking from the airport to Bike Tours San Diego to meet JoFo and get my bike. Should be interesting with 60lbs of gear strapped to me.

Noon on Saturday (PST), 4/21, drink a beer for me. Noon on Sunday (PST), I should be cracking my own. Here's to your own goals and dreams... I vacillate between a few quotes that inspire me, albeit cheesily: Never stop fighting til the fight is done. Lights out, guerilla radio!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Patapsco Update

Meeting with DNR on Monday coming up. Details to follow. Hopefully we can get our project moved forward.

BK's Back

Word from the heard is that BK is making his City Bikes Team re-appearance... We are one man low for 24hrs of Vail Lake out in SoCal and it looks like Kemler is in. He's taking a few days from his busy job at Google (yes, THAT Google) to travel down South and throw-down with the crew.

Oh, wait, he just needs a few things to race. A new fork and a light. Classic Kemler.

I love this guy. Here's a race report from my first race with the guy. It's from the 12 hours of Lodi Farms race back in 2004, my first with City Bikes. By the way, that pretty-boy on the Lodi page is Mr Larry 'Too Fast' Camp. I raced with him at Lodi when there were only seven (that's right, seven) of us in the solo class and I was the only singlespeeder. 1999? Yeah. How times have changed. It was called 12 Hours of Hollywood Farms back then. In 2006 there were around 60 solo riders AND a solo singlespeed class. Damn. Here's the 2004 race results. I almost forgot our team name, Big, Bald and Bossy. Guess who I was... I forgot we raced expert. JGwadz, Pooch and me. Kemler raced with Welp on Blanche Devereaux.

More races to come in this jam-packed year. I know I'll do A LOT less than most but I'm always very grateful to my sponsors Susan, Emma and Jeremy. I gotta tell ya, there's nothing better than to come across a line and see the three of them smiling at me. Actually, the best part is Emma hugging me and saying 'Daddy! You are all sweaty!'

I DARE You...

To make it ALL THE WAY through this. It's not bad. Lord knows I loves me some Buscemi. But...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Funny stuff, Tracy Morgan

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