Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Barkley jibba jabba fuh

Saw this via the blue collar boys via go clipless

My name is Charles Barkley I don't know what I'm talking about

Monday, August 29, 2005

VA Derailler Series #2 race report

Race #2 of the VA derailler series was this Saturday in Danville, VA.

Doing this race ended up being a total last minute decision and my prep for it was totally unlike what I'd normally do. The race date was SATURDAY. I totally (make an) ASS (out of) U (and) ME-D that the race was on Sunday like almost every other race I have ever done. In emails from people I saw mentions of Saturday, or "are you gonna be there tomorrow" and thought that they all made mistakes until I checked the web page again.

Doh! It is Saturday. Let's see today is Friday, that means that tomorrow is the race. What are you gonna do? Hemming hawing, back and forth. It's a long way to drive. I'm not ready if it is tomorrow, the course isn't for me. Yada yada and on and on.

I started to think more about it. Basically deep down what am I trying to accomplish with all this. Training for races was the first answer, but more to the truth, I think I'm training to learn how to race. What I mean by that is developing the mental strength to push myself up to and past existing limitations. There are many who this is just a natural extension of their mentality. They can just push. I guess for others like myself it has to be learned.

In fact that is what I'm striving for here. Taking the risk to leave my protective bubble of a life, using mountain bike racing as the backdrop, and find that brick wall that is my limitations and break through it.

The last race I did, #1 in the series, ended with a great result (3rd) but honestly I didn't seem able to push myself to that limit. So I said that I should go to this race regardless of the other excuses to get another chance to practice how to race.

As I said preparation was not like normal. I rode Wed and Thursday fairly hard but not too long. Fri was a good short but hard which actually worked well as a warm up. Though normally I would have had an easy day 2 days before a race.

And my cardinal rule of
Don't make any major changes to the bike or body before a race went out the window.

Thursday, I swapped to flat bar that was 2" narrower in width, and I set the bar 1cm lower than the where the other bar was. The ride on Fri was on some track that was sort of similar to the race and it was feeling nice and quick.

AND I was having this really weird chainsuck issue. When shifting from the MIDDLE to the small ring, it was hanging up and then sucking past the chainstay.

When I did it real slow on the stand the chain was hanging up on the BIG ring. The chain seemed to be catching on some pins and on the edges of the cutouts of the big ring.

It is weird how the chain is catching on the big ring when it is shifting from the middle to the small.

I started to file a chamfer into the edges of the cutouts and that didn't do much then realized that it was really the pins in the ring that were catching. So I changed to a totally new big ring on Friday. Didn't even ride on it before the race.

So with worry about the position changes and the mechanical changes, and with trying to get myself psyched up to run into my mythical brick wall, I had a hard time sleeping. And woke up the next day with some stomach issues so to speak. On top of that, my nutritional preparation was totally out of whack.

Normally I'd start stuffing my face on Thurs or Friday for a Sunday race. But this week I just haven't been eating all that much, and didn't eat much Fri night. Sat morning I had an egg sandwich but hardly ate any of it. I try to not eat anything after the 3 hrs to go mark. And with an 11am start by 8am I was supposed to be done eating. And I did, but my stomach was growling at 8. Not a good place to be.

I picked up my friend Sam outside his dorm. Sam is a great young man unlike most of the college Rude-ents around here. He's been adopted into our family even though he did say to my wife that she was middle aged! It took about 2.5 hours to get there and I am hungry as ALL get out but don't eat anything for fear of upsetting the stomach during the race.

Here is Sam before:

Here is Sam after:

Ok No blood, no dirt, no grimace, no sour look on his face like he just ate a whole bag of sour patch kids!!! So not fair. This guy hasn't ridden his mountain bike in over a year, in fact the last time he rode it was at a race in Oct 2004. Goes into the Senior sport class which has some fast guys, and gets 3rd. You just cannot go into a super twisty course like this when you haven't been riding your bike w/o some natural talent. He's gotta drop that road thing and move over to the dirt.

Tried something different this time. I brought the trainer and warmed up with the road bike. Of course it was raining lightly at this point. So I am sitting on the road bike blowing a mixture of sweat and rain off my nose as people are staring at me like Why is this guy taking this so seriously. Normally when warming up at a mtn bike race, it is so hard to focus, and to get a really good warmup in so that the muscles are ready to go. Mtn bikes races are flat out from the start to get good position then the settle out. So almost always there is that shock of pain/burning legs/ burning lungs. So this time I got a real good warmup then did some jumps on the mtn bike at the actual start.

The start was poorly designed IMHO. About 150 yards of gravel road, before 100 yards of a field before into SINGLE FILE only singletrack. They started all sports together and they had two rows of senior sports in front of us Vet Sports. So regardless of how good a sprint I had there was no way to get that great positioning. That being said I did not have any bad leg or lung burn at the start. Though I did sweat a ton on the trainer and was drinking a lot.

The course was fun fun fun till your daddy takes the T-bird away fun. Tight twisty single track with all these little to mid size Whoops then a couple of big G-whoops where you let it all hang out and shoot up the other side and then if you're in the right gear you can pedal out. There were a few short steep climbs as well. Seemed to be one of those all on all the time courses. As opposed to the Rocky mount course that seemed on/off/on/off. It was technical in terms of the tight turns, but not technical in terms of rocks or slow finesse single track.

I gotta learn how to do those little dips better. Sometimes I'd time it right and unweight on the entrance and the push the backside and get some free speed, but most times I'd suck it up with the fork and the the rear and just take a big hit in momentum.

How did the bike ride:

SOOO glad I put narrower bars on it. Not snagging trees, and it seemed to turn quick. I felt like it was riding great and climbed great. The fork is still out of adjustment as it is too soft when not locked out. The lockout makes the bike climb fast when engaged, but it is hard to engage sometimes and I have to move my hand off the bar to disengage, so for quick transition courses it was dangerous sometimes. One time I forgot too unlock it on this super V and had a fun ride down and up that! The suspension was climbing great. I had it in the 4.75 travel and one of these days I need to set it to the 3.5 travel to see how it works. The whole bike was probably overkill for this race and it felt heavy when hike a biking up a few hills.
Though I did use every single bit of that travel:
Check out where the O ring is. I went right through the bottom out bumper too. I probably had the air pressure set too low for this type of course.

So I'm riding, I'm racing. I had the mantra "EVERY SECOND COUNTS" going over and over in my head and had some song by the Bouncing Souls going in my head. Things thinned out in the track pretty well after a little bit. I feel like I am pushing real well, hanging with some people. My stomach is growling, but don't feel like I am bonking. Towards the end of the first lap I feel the twinge of leg cramping, and then into the second lap I get the first cramp. Not good you say, but good I say. I was daring myself to cramp. Daring myself to that limit line. This is NOT the way to win races. But sometimes it isn't about winning, it is about riding into the ground. There is some confidence in that. Knowing that I had the mental fortitude to push it to the point that the legs cramped, which seems to be a major indicator of my physical limits, and then to continue pushing through it and figuring out how to deal with it.

Come on Sucka what you got?

I basically had a meeting with my financial advisor

And paid into my investment portfolio of pain.

The idea is that the payoff is going to come at another time, another place, another race where I'll be smarter about this and pace. Rather than crashing into that brick wall that defines my limits, it will be more of a gradual tiptoe to the wall and dance on top of it, before crashing down hopefully right at the finish line.

When you start to get the leg cramps. It is a tough situation. It's like you're in the neutral Zone. You can go into the bad side for some day trips and rescue missions, but spend too much time there and some pointed eared guy is gonna come on screen and want to blow you away

For this course, when the cramps hit, average speed dropped considerably. I had the heart and head to want to push but the legs could only take so much before the cramps would start to crescendo again. And there were several steep pitches where it was a forgone conclusion that should I attempt to ride them I will lock up. Walk or ride? I tried to ride most of them, and was able to start pedalling immediately after in the granny to try and spin out the cramps. A couple of times I was riding with both inner legs locked and it actually wasn't that bad.

BUT that absolute last pitch before the end, I knew , i just knew it would lock me up. Why didn't I just walk it? But I rode it and had total lock up where I fell off the bike. So here I am hobbling stifflegged on this side hill trying to get out of the way. I read somewhere about this technique of pinching your nose really tight when you get a cramp. And it is supposed to make it go away quicker. What the hell. So I have my nose clenched like I am 20,000 leagues under the sea

and these guys pass me like What is wrong with this guy. They were expecting to see blood gushing from my nose!

I think it actually worked though. They went away enough that I could start pedalling and on I went to finish.

So what about that Elete stuff? Well I do believe that it helps out with the heat, but I think the reality behind my cramping is EXACTLY like this Smart Man said to me about cramps:

Cramping is simply a situation where the muscles fail to relax. While mineral (electrolyte) deficiency can lead to cramping, more often than not the cause is fatigue. Not only do we need proper mineral levels for contraction and relaxation, these minerals have to be in the right place at the right time. For instance, calcium must be present in the muscle fibers to allow contraction but must be removed and replaced by magnesium in order to promote relaxation. Considering the number of times you are contracting and relaxing during a race, it is easy to see how this system of mineral transport can become overwhelmed and lead to cramping. So, the answer is usually not more supplements, which are almost never in short supply, but more hard training to improve the endurance of the mineral pumps that control the flow of electrolytes in and out of the muscle

And the reality of it is. I haven't been training that hard lately. If one of the indicators of my fitness is cramping than I oughta be getting close to it in training rides. But I just haven't been able to do it, and for the past few months I've been more bike geeked out on bike stuff than focused on riding hard.

When I finished, my stomach was in turmoil. I was SO hungry, though I didn't feel like I was near bonking at anytime and used Hammer gel during the race. And I wanted some free pizza so bad, but I also felt like throwing up. I had that grimaced face where I did feel like I ate a bag of Sour patch kids.

Mission accomplished. That was the goal after all. Finish like you want to curl up and die.

So I thought I rode hard, I felt like the bike was working well and moving fast. But the other 5 guys ahead of me didn't share that viewpoint. Of course cramping had something to do with that.
But this is one of the reasons why results should never be a goal, or should never be the benchmark upon which you judge yourself. For one they are completely out of your control. You never know who is going to show up and what kind of race they are going to run.
Did I crash- No
Did I bonk- No
Did I dehydrate - No
Mechanicals -Not bad
Did I push hard -YES

Goals accomplished=feel good.

It was also really cool at this race that I got a chance to meet some people that I've only talked to online. The
Blue Collar Mtb guys were there. Here I am with Honest Abe (Tim) and Mike

I also got a chance to talk to a fellow Hollowpoint owner from the MTBR Iron Horse forums.

So the plan is to do two more of these races and then http://www.eastcoasters.com/rowdy_dawg.htm.

I am thinking of actually racing for the best result at the next one. Meaning pacing to try and figure out how to finish on fumes, and then taking the last race to ride into the ground as the last prep for the Dawg.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dismay in the endurance world

I've been reading with dismay the sad state of affairs in the endurance racing world. It's quite a shame that for voicing an opinion One of cycling BLOG world's favorite sons has been suspended from the 24 Hours of Adrenaline worlds.

Man the dude had a countdown timer to that race for like almost 200 days. I've seen it tick down almost every day.

It's ironic. In the early days of the 24 hour craze, it was seen as the antithesis to the businesslike NORBA/UCI scene. Pure grass roots. Crazy costumes, crazy people, doing a crazy thing like riding for 24 hours.

And Yes, I was there. I rode in the 1996, 1997 and 1998 24 Hours of Canaan. Those events provided some of my defining moments in cycling, with some of my absolute best performances and one of my absolute worst. From my first time doing it where I was honored to race with my friend Denny who to me was the greatest bike handler I'd ever met. I was so in awe to ride with him and his crew. Till 3am in the morning when one of the guys decided he'd had enough and I had to do his lap, and then later on at 10am when I had to do his lap again.

To the next where our sport crew got 10th.

To the MUD year where I did a 1hr lap in 5hrs, and the year our open team won 2nd place against a team that only ran their woman the minimum requisite laps, and we ran our woman (my wife) through the night.


I've got the aprons, the frisbees and the Timbuk 2 bag to prove it.

I was there when John Stamstad payed 4 entry fees and wrote a different alias for him for each entry and did it solo. Sort of jump starting the 24 hour endurance craze. It was pretty cool to get passed by him and then try and hang on his wheel for a second.

But now the 24 hour scene has become as business like as the Norbas. With Laird the Ego suing this other dude. And the serious sponsorship going into the events.

Now it is things like the Single speed world championships and the SM 100 that are taking torch for the grass roots casual, fun, but still ride hard events.

This guy Stuart who is banning Jeff must not have a clue as to the reprocussions this may have over time. As many in the cycling world still poo-poo Blogs. Tell it to Krypotonite. See what they think about the power of the Blog and the Internet.

I hope it works out, and that Jeff get's his shot at the race he was counting down to. He deserves some credit too for not just lambastinig the guy for what he did. JK just stated the facts pro-fesh-en-al and all.

Danville race report coming soon

Last minute decision to race at Danville in #2 of the Virginia Derailer Series.

My flicker account is full right now so I'm going to wait till sept 1 to upload some pictures.

Let's just say. Lock up leg cramps, that sick sour feeling like you want to hurl. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dialing in HP

Went down to East Coasters to talk to CB about some bike fit stuff. These guys are Serotta Certified Fitters and know their stuff.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how small tiny adjustments can make a huge difference in power output and handling. Earlier in the year I worked with Wes at the Roanoke Store and he made some changes to my saddle that showed IMMEDIATE power improvements when I got on the ergo trainer later.

I've been riding for more than 15 years, and am also the type of person to tinker and mess around with position. And you'd think that I'd have dialed in a fit that I could take from one bike to the next. But I highly recommend to anyone, new cyclist to veteran of 20years to consider getting a fit done from someone who knows the Serotta system. It is based on your flexibility, something which I have very little, and not based on static measurements.

Fitting a mountain bike is a different than a road bike. The lower body setup is similar to place you in a power position. But because of the dynamic nature of off road riding, and the handling characteristics off road fitting the front end is not so scientific. Some people steer different than others, and stem length, rise etc have profound affects on handling between individuals. And unfortunately, Chris said that even at the Serotta school they don't spend a lot of time on mountain bike fits.

I'd set the bike up with a saddle height like my hardtail which was a tad lower than my road bike. My fore aft was still a little to the rear. On my ride yesterday, I tried to bust out a good climb on Old Farm single track and I was like a minute slower than my best time on the Salsa. I KNOW this bike is a more efficient climber but it just didn't seem like I was getting on top of the pedal stroke very well. I went for a short ride after the change to the saddle, and could tell an immediate difference. I was getting on top of the pedal stroke and just ticking a great cadence off and climbing awesome. Just amazing that such a small change had such an impact.

CB moved my saddle forward more and also tilted it to get my sit bones placed better on the saddle. Really really small changes, so small you had to measure to see them as eyeballing showed hardly any changes.

One thing he noticed was that my bars are pretty wide. My shoulders measure 40cm, and with the halfpipe shifters my hands are all the way on the ends of some wide riser bars.

This places a lot of stress on my upper shoulders and rolls my shoulders. I do notice really tight upper traps after rides. On my road bike they made similar changes to a narrower bar that immediately rotated my shoulders in and relaxed my upper body a lot.

He suggested lopping off like 1" on each side. that is big. With the riser bar, the bend in the bar really starts to limit how far you can move things inboard. And the halfpipe shifters are so big they limit how much room you have and were you can put you hands.

I've got some old bars at home I'm going to cut down and play with, but I may go back to a flat bar. I haven't been on a flat bar in like 8 years or something. The main reason with going with the riser bar in the first place was to get the bars higher for more technical riding, But with the highly sloping top tube of this bike, I am not going to have a problem with a flat bar, and I've got plenty of room on the steerer tube to place a flat bar high enough with spacers.


The bars are too high right now. I can tell when climbing that the front end is too light, and even though I like the on demand front wheel lofting, I'm having a hard time controlling it. The taller fork is probably to account for the raise in the front end.

Also the stem is too long, I can tell that it's harder to corner and lean than I want it to be. This is the same feeling when I had a too long stem on the Salsa.

Lowering the bars will help get some more weight on the front end which I do need because this bike seems biased towards the rear. Getting a shorter stem will quicken up the steering making it quicker in the single track. And a shorter bar will quicken it up, but also require more leverage.

I've felt the bar has been a little wide for me before, but kind of got sucked into that wider bar for burlier riding sort of marketing. My hardtail has a narrower bar and it didn't feel any worse to me.

Other things that need dialing in are the fork sag. The stock spring is for someone 150-170lbs. I'm at 135 or so. So I'm putting less air in the air spring in order to get the right sag. And the rearward bias of the bike makes me use even less air. The result is the fork is too squishy.

A soft spring kit would allow me to set the right sag but still keep the air spring pressure up making it stiffer and a better overall ride.

Regardless of these changes. I just cannot emphasize how happy

I am getting with this bike. One the three rides I've been on it just gets better and better. The pedaling of the
DW link that Iron Horse licensed is really amazing. It uses all the travel but still doesn't suck energy away on the climbs.

I don't want to get too comfortable or adapt too much on the current setup because some of the changes may be drastic. But it is just flying on the downhills.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ok, I am never riding HERE.

Dude falling off the side of a trail

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Iron Horse Hollowpoint initial impression

Warning lots of rambling below.

Initial impression are important. It's tough to throw a leg over a bike and not take that initial impression as gospel even though it really takes a few months to get a bike dialed in with stem position, handle bar height, saddle fore/aft, saddle height, shock settings, etc. and on and on.

But I must say that I am very very pleased with my initial impressions of the Hollowpoint on it's first real trail ride.

From just looking at it, the highly sloping top tube makes the top tube look shorter than it is, but it is slightly longer than my hardtail. But the slacker seat tube had me put the saddle more forward on the rails. I put the same 90mm stem that was on my hardtail just to see how it goes. The sloping top tube also seems to place the bars pretty high.

Here is the hardtail for comparison

It is heavier than the full Scandium frame I was just on. But thankfully the weight is only apparent when doing the parking lot test for weight and racking the frame. Later I'll have weights for everything from the frame, shock and lots of the components.

You can see how tight things are down by the BB

Not a whole heck of lot of room for a front derailleur. That XTR on there is going to be replaced by the stock XT cause I can't get to the cable binding bolt because of the lower linkage.

And the 100mm fork is new to me. It is a Black super so no SPV, and it is cush. Boing boing when you stand up on it. But it has a bar mounted lockout. I was riding an 80mm Black but lately for the past several weeks it has been a rigid fork/hardtail. The fork is Kona Project 2 and is suspension corrected for only 60mm. But with a rigid hardtail the BB height never changes. Regardless the new fork feels tall to me.

Not sure yet about what setting to use. The manual says that the fork lockout can also be used to set some compression damping but it sure feels just On/Off to me. The bar mounted lockout is real nice, but my grip shifters and my brake lever clamp bolt sort of get in the way a little. I can engage it pretty easily but disengaging I have to take my hand off the bar for a sec.

Discerning eyes will notice that one of the spacers is not like the others. It is from an old seat clamp, I wanted to leave a lot of steerer tube for adjustments but I didn't have any more spacers.

Went out to the pond and rode some of the Gap trails. No real long sustained climbs, but some steep stuff and some of the more technical stuff locally. It is a great place to demo a bike.

The front der. wasn't working too well so I only rode in the middle or big. Also I am feeling some real good legs so any bike was going to feel good. But this bike felt real good. Not sure if I got close to the right fit off the bat, or if it is the DW link, but this thing climbed like a rocket.

The DW Link seems like a pretty sophisticated design. I am not even going to pretend to understand how it works let alone try an explain it. It does however require some good setup to get the most from it.
DW link setup. This amount of sag I think is more than usually recommended on an XC bike.

I'm never sure how to really set sag. Sit on it, get off? Sit on it, ride on flat pavement, get off. Regardless I had more than 25% and less than 33%.

Getting the fork sag was another thing to do. The bikes seems to have a rear weight bias. So it seemed that I needed less air to get the front to sag 25%. That is 1" of sag on this fork.

The rear weight bias might because of the taller fork, but regardless, I was able to pick up the front wheel on demand. Which I LOVE. The Salsa was harder to get do that with, and I like being able to get the front to lift when I want it to.

First thing I noticed was that even though the shock does move when you look at the great thing is that it doesn't FEEL like it is moving on the flat stuff. But you can feel it soak up whatever it hits anything substantial.

Not sure how to describe the efficient feeling of it. Much better than the feeling of the Salsa I just sold. It feels like the chain is tight, and that all my energy is going from the pedals through the chain into the cogs to the wheels. Does that makes sense? It seems to just want to go forward, especially climbing.

The tall feeling of the bike is throwing off my Center of gravity feels high. I feel like I am sitting tall. I wasn't sure how much I could lean the bike into turns. So it is going to take some time to find how much lean it'll take before the tires break. Even with that tall feeling it seemed to handle great. Though I found myself steering the bars more than I would like rather than pushing/leaning. Maybe it is the cushiness of the longer travel fork. A few times I'd lean it over and it carved nice, even though initially I felt like I was going to fall over.

But even with that tall feeling I did hit the pedals on some stuff. I did that with the Salsa too but rarely with the hardtail. At first I was questioning going with the 100mm fork, but if I had gone with an 80 it would have been even lower.

I think the thing that really amazed me was what happened when I put the fork in lockout mode. I knew that for standing climbing it would be good, but I had no clue how well it would climb while seated with the lockout on. It was like this turbo kicked, and I could feel the bike just surge forward when the lockout engaged.

It surprised me because I've always felt that climbing anything but pavement and dead smooth trail that some small bump compliance was good in the fork. And that things like SPV actually messed up climbing offroad. But with the fork locked it actually climbed super on even some mildly technical stuff. I think the rearward weight bias combined with the taller fork made it super easy to pick up the fork just a hair as needed to clean roots/rocks.

The times when locking the fork out did not work were when it got too technical where hitting the rocks/roots with the fork would cause too much momentum to be lost, and when it got too steep to keep the front end down. When the fork did hit a root/rock the shock got transmitted right through the frame and into the rear shock causing it to compress and then lose all momentum. But if I cleared the root/rock, then the rear just rolled over it.

Standing up with the lockout was good too. The rear just stuck on the ground and rolled. I try to emulate the pros/experts and stand up, but it never works for me. On the hardtail the rear just spins out or bounces, making standing up a mistake. The only exceptions are for me anyway are pavement and dead smooth track. With the full suspension the rear followed the trail, did not spin out and did not bounce me around.

Of course on pavement or smooth track the rear suspension does slow you down.

The traction was just awesome. I was just waiting for the rear to break even when scooched way far forward or floating over the nose of the saddle, but it rarely did.

I did notice that the chain seemed to slap around much more than other bikes. I kept thinking that I'd forgotten to put it in the big ring on the downhills. Also sometimes there is this delayed reaction to pedaling. Where I'll be pedaling but it takes a sec for the chain to engage. Not sure how to explain it. I remember reading that this suspension is tied to the chain tension.

I'd stop often to see how much travel I was using, and I'd every time I'd only have like 25mm left of travel which is probably what the bottom out bumper is. So I was using up all the travel but it still pedaled well. I'm not sure if I have the settings too low. Some people say that you should only use full travel a few times on an entire ride. With the Salsa, I always had like 1/2" or more of travel left to use, even after some major downhills. I'd only get full travel if I'd have the shock set for downhill cushiness only, and in that setting it never pedalled well.

The trail was wet and the rocks were slippery. My tech skills and confidence were not there, and because I just wasn't sure how the bike would move under me and feel, I didn't ride some stuff I knew I could. The wish is always that the new bike is going to make you feel god like, but that will take time and is much more in my head than in the bike.

So lots still to do in terms of dialing in the shock settings, fork settings, fit, etc. And a little learning on how to move with the bike and steer/push/lean etc. But for right now I am really really stoked. On an extended downhill, I just felt like I was able to work with the bike, and compress/ uncompress and flow with it.

And considering that I sold the Salsa for more than I bought it for (even though scraped hell a paint off the chainstay with chainsuck), and that I got this used for $400 for the frame/shock I'm pretty happy. There is some real good value in this frame.

More to come as I get more time in the saddle.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Fantastic road ride today

Rode with John on the road bikes today. Can't believe it has been over month since I've seen him. I ALWAYS have a good ride when I ride with him. You know how when you ride with some people you just seem to ride to the occasion.

We were climbing some short steep hills in the valley, and my legs felt better than they have in months. We'd get towards the top of the hills, and he'd pull out these massive sprints. It is a good thing, cause I would never have had the motivation to do that. That takes some serious mental gumption to slog up these climbs and then sprint. It is exactly the kind of training needed for these shorter lap races coming up.

So it is either sit there, or go. You gotta pay to play.

Instinct reaction to go all out to catch and then hopefully pass. My lungs were bursting,

I think that inhaler is working cause I was breathing harder then I have in several weeks. On the hills I was able to grab the wheel and then pass.

But on the flat sections, no way. He just rolled away.

Definitely didn't eat right for this ride. One bagel in the morning and then some coffee later before the ride. Was going on fumes and jitters towards the end.

Anti Midas Touch

Rain this morning. I've got the Iron Horse built up but haven't done anything but ride around the house. As typical with my Anti Midas touch, meaning whatever I put my hands on goes wrong whether it is my fault or not.


The build hasn't been going the greatest. First the guy I bought it from had put some spacers in the wrong spot. Thankfully he realized that latter and informed me, there is no way I would have known they were out of place. Actually it wasn't a bad thing because it forced me to take apart the linkages and put them back together so now I know how to do that.

Then the frame is so small and the linkages take up a lot of space that there was no way planned front derailleur-Xgen was going to fit. It needed a top pull top throw (where the clamp is below the cage).

So I found and XTR on ebay, great price, buy now, right clamp size, right throw and bought it. But, when installed, the lower linkages make it impossible to get to the cable clamping bolt. I either need to saw off an allen wrench shorter to get it to fit in the tight spot, or pull this jury rig trick of raising the the unit up high enough so I can get to the clamping bolt, then clamp the cable but with some extra slack and then lower the clamp into position. Not real pro. Imagine trying to do it on the trail. But it sort of works. Though it scrapes in the small ring.

Thankfully the guy I bought it from had the original front der. that went on it and it is in the mail.

Then after I had it built up enough to sit on, the shock would move like 1/2" before the shock body hit the linkage shuttle. Hmmmm. The shock had been installed backwards. No big, flipped it around. Again good learning.

Then I'm trying to adjust the rear derailleur and it isn't working very well. Lower limit screw is all the way in but it still wants to shift past the biggest cog. Shifts ok on the smaller cogs but then wants to jump up on the higher cogs. I think the der hanger looks bent in towards the cogs at the bottom.

That diagnosis would make sense for how the shifting is acting. This same der. and shifter were on the salsa and the BREW before this and worked ok. So I then pull out the BF-crescent wrench also known as Mr. Precision

and try and bend it a little. Obviously I should take it to the professionals and have them use the Park DAG-1

Then the threads seem to get mangled, so I get my tap out and clean up the threads.

But now I'm not so sure the hanger is bent, as the rear derailleur does have a lot of play, but it worked ok in the last two bikes. But it is working ok now after I bent the hanger a little. I've got another rear der to test out, and should have the shock check it out with the DAG-1

Anyway, I wanted to ride it so bad on the trail, but it was raining so we went road riding instead.

However, two things I've noticed riding around the house.
1) I can see the shock moving, but it doesn't feel like it is moving while on the road. This is good, cause with the Salsa I could see it moving and it sure felt like it was moving
2) climbing this one grass hill in front of my house felt really good. Like it just wanted to climb. There could possibly be something to this DW link
3) longer travel fork is going to take some getting used to
4) fork lock-out could be the greatest thing since sliced bread...or not.

So I've got so much anticipation built up to see what this baby can do, but can't until later.

Oh well, just like ketchup I guess

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mentally approaching races with lots of transitions

This is the race profile for this next VA derailer series race at Danville:

650' climbing per lap, each grid line is 75'

Almost all my training lately has been longer climbs, longer downhills and longer single track sections. Mentally I can get a mantra going and keep try and keep focus.

That time trial at the Cove last month seemed to suit me well, if I could have stayed on course.

I've got to figure out mentally how to approach these courses which change from minute to minute, from climb to short dowhill, and back again.

It seems that on a more consistent course be it climbing or more rolling/flat single track that I can ramp up and hold a good pace and gap someone behind me. But with these types of courses I just can't keep it rolling as well.

Sci Fi medicine

Went to the doctor the other day. Well Nurse practioner to be exact. She said that there is no fluid in my lungs and they sound totally clear. And that I might have been exposed to something up in NY that is still in my lungs.

She gave me this Sci fi looking inhaler that is a bronchi dialator and also has a steriod in it.

Not sure if it is working, they said it may take up to a week of use. But yesterday my legs felt really good, and this morning on the trainer they did again.

Maybe I just needed that last race to be a kick in the pants to get my legs jumpstarted?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Going to the doctor tomorrow.

Since I didn't win yesterday I am going to the doctor to get checked out....Just kidding. But something just isn't right. Today, my chest feels real tight, and I can't take a deep breath. This is the same feeling I had right when we got back from New York 2 weeks ago.

And since then I haven't been riding all that well. I chalked it up to too much time off the bike, and also just focus and heart to push hard. But after yesterday, which just didn't feel great, and where I just didn't have the hankering for a hunk a cheese

to push into the see spots zone combined with this feeling today. I am thinking that I've got some sort of low level respitory infection.

Today I rode 2 repeats up a hill climb, and my legs seemed to be fine, but I couldn't get the to turn over because I couldn't breathe very hard.

There is a little congestion in the chest but not much. I've got some Albutoral I've been trying and it doesn't seem to be doing that much. Oh well hopefull nothing a little chemistry can't fix up.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Race #1 Virginia Derailer Series report

Today was the Franklin County race of the Virginia Derailer Series. This series is pretty interesting. Several county parks got together and put together a mountain biking series that takes place in late August through October to promote tourism. The courses takes place at county recreation areas, and are typically short 5-8 mile laps. With the exception of the last race which is a mass start hill climb up Poor Mountain that Jeremiah Bishop won in 2003

This was the first race of this series I'd been too, and judging by the turn out the word is out. I think they doubled their turnout from last year. It was just an awesome time, and it was so good to see a lot of new blood coming out to the races. And also see Charles Stanley return to racing after 5 years off. This guy has got to be one of the most naturally talented racers. 5 years off, 3 kids under 5years old and he destroyed the expert field. Racing in SW Virgina has been on the decline for several years maybe this is a sign that it is turning around.

This was a very well run and organized event. Good food, a band, T-shirts in sizes other than XXXL, and great venue for kids with 2 playgrounds, and a super kids race. Trophies for the kids and ribbons and prizes.

Today was the first time that my whole family had come to the races with me. Years and years ago my son and wife came when he was a little baby, but now they are all old enough to ride bikes. It's hard enough to get yourself ready for a race. Whew getting all their stuff together was tough.

We didn't even bring my wife's bike. My bike, and 3 kids bikes. One with training wheels and one without just to see if we could get the little one to try practice w/no training wheels.

My little one did the 5 and under race, and my older did the 6-8 race. It was SO cool to see the kids with their numbers an camel baks.

Here is my younger one doing a last minute bike check

And the older with his decked out Trek with my old V brakes on

The little kids rode down a gravel path.
My son got second, training wheels and all.

He was SO happy riding and was just all smiles as he came across the line. First , last it didn't matter, they were just having fun.

Charles' kid got first, gotta be in the genes.

My older son looked nervous as he waited for his start. Just like I get.

The timing was getting tight for me to get ready and warmed up for my race, but there was no way I was going to miss him coming across the line. He didn't podium like little brother, but he won some sweet gloves in a raffle. They are from Cannondale, and he now thinks Cannondale is the coolest company on earth. Now that is marketing.

Gotta thank the promoters for putting on such a great kids race, it really made their day and mine too.

The start was mass chaos. Gravel road start that funneled down to a grass climb pretty quick. I cut off Phil from the shop just for good measure. The single track was pretty fun. And while not very technical it was rough enough with lots of small bumps to make the rigid
probably not the best choice, but it was my only choice for right now. I just don't have the skills to hang on the downhills, and felt pretty sketchy. Climbing it was sweet though.

These types of courses are so different than what I normally do. Usually we have more extended sections of climbing or longer singletrack sections. I don't think any one section was more than 5 minutes long here. Just transition from one short climb to the next short downhill to the next short section of flat..

There were two stream/river crossings that came up past my knees. Definitely a disadvantage to those shorter racers as myself. I told the marshall they needed to have those signs you see at amusement park rides, Must be this tall to race

And there was that super micro fine silt on the banks. At one crossing there was ankle deep mud before the road started again. Took a lot of beating on the SPUDS to get the mud out. I'm going feel grit between my toes for the next two months before I get ride of it out of my shoes.

I registered for the sport class, 2 laps. Maybe I should have done the expert. I could not have hung with the top guys, but 2 laps was a really short race. And in these kinds of distances you have to just go balls out, and today I just didn't have that killer instinct. And it took at least half a lap to feel like the legs were going. I think I found the culprit when we were packing up to go home. My pre-race coffee was sitting untouched in the cupholder of the car. In all the hustle/bustle of the kids race and running short on time to warmup I totally forgot about it.

I wanted to finish so spent that you curl up in the fetal position, but ended up crossing feeling fine. I felt so much worse after that 1hr time trial last month. But it takes some serious mental effort to push yourself into that kind of pain. Sometimes it is better for me to just go longer but at a lower pace.

Still I got third in my class, which I'm happy with and really surprised. A lot of guys passed that I just didn't have that get up and go to chase.

Our whole team was on the podium a lot today.
Lori and Rachael got 1-2 in the women's expert and took home paychecks.

Phil made it past me after I cut him off and I never saw him again.

The only suggestions I've got for the promoters would be try and lengthen the lap as much as possible and get sports to do like 1.5hrs at least. Our times were around 1-1:05 for 2 laps, and the experts did 3 in like 1:18+

Only winners allowed in this family
(Well actually a third, second, and participant in the kids race, but who's counting)

So it was a real fun day, but my god what a scorcher. It was fine during the race as it was in the trees most of the time, but afterwards it was an oven. Had to be 95 or so. The kids were breaking down hardcore towards the end.

The little one was asleep almost immediately

There are several more races in the series, spaced perfectly 2 weeks apart. Same style, short laps, short courses. Should be good building towards the Rowdy Dawg on October 2nd.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"demo-ing" another FS frame

I found a killer deal on an excellent condition 2004 Iron Horse Hollowpoint. I did tons of research on it. It is supposed to have some of the most efficient pedalling of an FS out there.


It's not that I don't like my new Salsa. It is fast, light, and plush. But there are times when the pedaling action seems to work against me, which I don't like. Ideally, I should have demo-ed it and other frames. But there is a problem being out here. We only have one good bike shop, which I love to death, but they are a Trek /Fisher dealer, so that is all that is around here to test out. Sure they are good bikes, but I just don't want to get what 80% of the population out here has. Well that and I am a cheap-ass-skate, and take pride in finding something that is a good value, meaning cheap but good.

Regardless of which one I decide to keep, I am confident in my scouting and my ebay prowess to make a profit or break even. The selling is as fun as the buying. Seeing if you can take something that you bought, and turn it around with better presentation and sell it more. We are SUCH visual creatures, hence why we like blogs with lots of pictures and have a hard time sticking with ones that don't. That it amazes me how little time people take to present their auctions.

One crappy picture and a little text. VS this one guy who takes pics of his items like it is a model shoot, with red velvet backgrounds, and angle shots. Incredibly well done, and also high end stuff. He always gets tons of bids and sells at the higher end of the market value.



I could have made the contrast more but you get the picture. I bet there was a lot of time that went in that photoshoot.

I asked him how he did it. He is a nice guy and we share bikes and ebay as passions and he basicaclly said he finds them at ebay/mtbr, and buys them at a good price, strips them and parts them out. He is doing it FULL time now. Not sure I could do that.

I'd like to try it sometime soon. Finding a bike, dismantling it and selling each part as it's own auction. Could be fun, could be a ton of work to make all of 5$, but it least it was fun and had to do with bikes.

I wonder what some good guidelinies should be:
no compoents over 1 year old
no components scratched/broken
frame in good condition, must be a popular botique brand or main brand.
I dunno, I think I need some general rules of thumb to go by before starting ou.

Racing this weekend

Sunday is race weekend. Two choices.
#1 of the Virginia Derailer Series or one of the legendary mid atlantic big dogs, The Hoo Ha at Massanutten

The HooHa is one of those races that the mere thought of chills me to the bone. It is a harsh, hard, epic, rocky rooty, fantastically technical race. Up there they put something in the water and everyone from juniors to any local is a mountain bike demi-god.

I've been working pretty hard this year, and should have had this one on my mind for weeks. But honestly just haven't been into it. With the demise of the VA State series, and the long gap of no races, I sort of lost some focus and motivation. And I'm sort of in between bikes and forks right now so doing it on the rigid just doesn't appeal to me.

And for me to go up there, I'd need to be into it 100% to survive.

The VA derailer series race sounds sort of fun. It is much closer, They have a kids race, and a band and BBQ afterwards. Each race is put on by a county parks and rec. Most of them are lap type courses. But don't Ye be fooled. Anyone who thinks a lap course of double track is not going to be hard is in for a surprise. The less technical it is the harder it can be because there is no place to recover. No long downhills to catch a breather, and no tricky tech single track where you have to slow down or risk pinballing into a tree. It's redline all the way.

But I've got a dilemma of which class to race. In all reality I am a Vet Sport. Make no bones about it, I may obsess over training, and am as fanatical about bike setup as an expert, and try and ride myself into the fetal position like an expert but I am sport.

A few years ago I moved out of sport and raced expert just because I thought I should, having been in sport for so long. I wanted "to get my money's worth" by doing the longer courses, etc. and just wanted to say that I was an Expert. And every race I'd ride caboose, and just keep finishing as my only goal. It wasn't much fun.

After coming back to racing last year in the Vet Sport class, it was really fun to actually be competitive in my class. Yes it is nice riding at the top of your class. But honestly, there is no way I can match the speed and distance of the Vet Experts.

But at this race, the Sports do 2 7 mile laps and the experts do 3. I understand the course is pretty wide open double track with some stream crossings. So I am not sure if I want to do the 2 laps or 3 laps for more training.

The real question is what am I doing? What are my goals. If it is to race and do the best I can in my class than I should do the 2 laps. But long term where do I want to be. I think my long term goal is to be a competitive Vet Expert in regional events.

If that is the case than I gotta do some longer races. And also short term the big goal this year is the Rowdy Dawg race, which is going to be 2hrs minimum. So I am sort of leaning towards the 3 laps. And most of the big dogs are going to be at Massanutten, so maybe I'll be a bigger fish here.

So then the question becomes how to race it. There are 2 kinds of races. Investment races, where you ride yourself into the ground with the intent to kill yourself and not to race to win. The other kind of race is a payoff race, where you want your past investments to payoff. In this kind of strategy you might consider some pacing and not go too hard too soon.

I've thought about trying to race it with negative splits, where each lap is faster than the previous. That will get pretty hard come the 3rd lap. But will force me to start slow and finish strong. Another option is to do the first lap at tempo and then kill myself the last 2. And there is always the option that I bet will be followed, which will be go from the gun until I cramp or blow.

I'll be racing on the hardtail/rigid fork. I put a triple crank back with the 8 in back because the chain was dropping in technical sections with just one up front.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The sock affair

In the vein of the Festina affair

from the Tour several years ago, a similar incident occured at the Tour of Regular Life this weekend.

In an unprecedented display of power the Tour of Regular Life (TRL)management performed pre-coffee raids on the Team hotel rooms, and informed the racers, that socks with holes and stains

(only a representation, the real images are too horrific to show the public)

are not to be worn for public functions or even around that house, and are to be used only for cycling. The Tour's and the Team's sponsors (Le Wife, and Le Family) are not being respected and are embarassed by the poor fashion sense of the teams.

And like the peleton's of the past, Team Married with Children's star GC rider Ashwin(big) Earl-ini led the peleton in protest and organzied a sit in at the kitchen before the start of the day's stage.

In the wake of mounting angst from the public (5 and 7 year old waiting for their Saturday Cereal), the Tour of Real Life organizers rescinded their ban on holed and stained socks from public display and indicated that they will not place decrees on public forms of dress anymore.

Team Married with children, Full Time Job, and No Genetic Talent, got back on their bikes and continued with the rest of the day. The public got their Saturday Cereal and the stage continued. Another stage in the Tour of Real Life has been completed.

To stem the dischord between the Tour Organizers and the Peleton, Ashwin Earl-ini decided to look for more socks to replace the holed and stained ones, and the set aside special socks to be used only for public dress and to not be used for cycling.

We feel that the unrest has passed and are looking forward to a great stages to come in the Tour of Real Life.

However there is a rumor from the press mill that the Team's Soigneur was stopped at a border crossing with a pair of casual khaki shorts that are worn in public with grease stains on them ( Chainring stains-the horror). At this point the rumors are unsubstaniated, but it may not bode well with the peleton.

Stay tuned for more reports from the Tour of Real Life.

2 day turnaround from Manitou

So remember my fork.
I sent it to Answer before we left for vacation.

I think they probably got it on the 27th. It left their place on the 29'th.

Not bad for being one of the busiest times in the racing calender.

Did they fix it? No. They just sent a brand new 2005 instead. Now that is customer service. Here I am racing and riding the fork for over a year. Most companies in the industry seem to give a 1 year warranty and after that you're on you're own. A lot of companies would say. Tough luck. That is regular wear and tear.


It is interesting how people rate companies. Especially bicycle component manufacturers. A lot of people will slam a company because something went wrong with a part or it doesn't work like they feel it should. It's amazing to see people slam a part after a year of hard riding on it. We expect a lot from our components but at the same time we don't realize how much stress and abuse we place on parts. Especially something like a fork.

I've been on Answer since 1992. And yes over the years I have had problems. That of course isn't good, but what I feel is a more important criteria for evaluating a company is how they dealt with the situation.

With Answer they have fixed the situation every time. Usually with little/no cost. So for the past 10 years I have had good customer service from them.

And for several years they sponsored our little grass roots team. Rock Shox wouldn't touch us.

Just my humble opinion. But that kind of customer service goes a long way.

So yeah, I was w/o fork for a little while every time, and it cost me shipping to send it in, and I had to get an RA# yada yada. but in the end it is always resolved to my satisfaction.

try getting that from Shimano.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A National Champion on our team

The East Coasters Race Team that I'm on just got a National Champion on the roster.

Bernie Sanders
This guy is an animal. A shame he doesn't mountain bike.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Quite possibly the perfect Vegetable

Ok. Let's get a couple of things straight. I am NOT a vegetable person. If it was up to me they would be removed from the food group pyramid. Except for iceberg lettuce, and those little baby carrots. Corn too is ok I guess, but only when soaked in butter and either freshly husked or out of that Little green giant can.

Well in general I'm not a vegetable person. My wife got these things on a whim, and they are the absolute greatest thing since sliced bread.


They are basically soy beans.

Soy by the way has got the be the most versatile food item ever found. I cannot believe the amount of stuff they can make with it. I'm lactose intolerant

And have developed a taste for Soy milk. The vanilla kind cause it is sweet. But soy milk is just the top of the iceberg. They got Soy ice cream, that tastes quite good. Tofu of course. I'm just waiting for them to make clothes and tires out of it.

Anyway back to these beans. I don't know what it is about it. Maybe it's the form factor cause you gotta squeeze the beans out of the pod, which is kinda fun. But they just taste SOO good. This brand is lightly salted and even taste buttery. There is another brand that is still good but not as good as this one.

The whole family digs them. It becomes a race to see who can eat them the fastest. You snooze you loose. Take a breather for a second and they are gone gone gone. Finicky 5 year old and 7 year old love them.

Got some protein too.

Don't be stingy like my wife and only make half the bag. Cook it all up cause you are gonna love them.