Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sussex TOOOOO!

At the end of the long 4 day Thanksgiving day weekend, when everyone is feeling fat & lazy, the second Sussex race comes along to give you a little kick start to get ready for that post-turkey slumber week that nobody wants to face. In a way, it's makes life easier, because the pain of the 45 minute race makes going to work easy in comparison. At least for an hour or so. This weekend we had another good crew of blue & orange up at the Sussex Fairgrounds for installment #2 of the SCCX Double.

40+ Men


First race was Norm & ChrisG (and some other guys) where we saw Lombardo check out as usual. There was a fight for 2-3 between Eric and some other non-regular, and then the 4-5-6 was a bit of a battle with Norm, Doug Spitz, and a 3rd guy who I'm not familiar with. In the end, I didn't have much in the tank as my season feels like it wants to drop kick me at this point. So I ended up 6th of the 3. As the bell rang on the last lap, nothing changed at all. That's a tough time to try to cover anything and as usual, the lap ended as it began.

I don't have the results so I'm not sure where ChrisG ended up. He was battling behind me and I saw the trailing blue and orange the whole race, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't too far back.

C Women

After the 50+ the ladies lined up to go, with Robin & Mandi representing yesterday. Robin is in mid-stride with her training and really did a great job trying to hang on to Gerilynn's wheel yesterday. I stuck around for the women's race and got to see a lot of familiar faces in blue & orange as well as assorted other colors. Here's Robin trying to track down that tricky podium:

Alas it was not to be, as the1-2 girls checked out and Gerilynn managed to hang on to the 3rd spot. Mandi rolled in with a 7th place finish, solid times all around. I have to say that for as little as she ends up on the cross bike, she's a near pro with the remount. Here she is on the tricky downhill section:

Meanwhile, Pearl watched it all unfold:

A Men

No blue & orange in the fast class, as Fred is mired in central Jersey with no coffee roaster so spends most of his time with a Big lighter and an old wok that he found in a Carribean island. But Maurice was out there, who does wear blue & orange for some of the races. He checked out yesterday and won the A race, hands down. Here he is on the triple barrier run-up:

B Men

Feeling the effects of coaching his kid's hockey team, Ilya was forced to skip SCCX #2 which left Utah as the only blue & orange rider in the B class. He managed a 12th place finish, which is the same as last week but better since the fields were deeper this time around without the Supercross race to compete with. Here Utah makes an aggressive pass as Chris Esnes watches on:

40+ C Men

Next up were the 40+ C men, where Sean Runnette has been ripping up the class this year. Lo and behold, Rob (old not young, but I guess that's implied by the class) did his best to rip it up and he did exactly that. While not walking away with a win he did manage to land us a 3rd place and help the team cause. Rob managed our best result of the day and along with Robin (4), myself (6), ChrisRU (6), and Mandi (7) led the charge in helping us retain our hold on 2nd place in the NJ CX Cup standings.

C Men

Finally the day wrapped up with the C race, where we have our strongest presence. Chris26er was rocking a potential podium until he flatted towards the end.

ChrisRU tried to hang on to 26er and he did for a while, but in the end he let that podium slip away a little bit and would up 6th on the day. Chris has really come a long way this year and it's great to see him reaping the rewards of all the hard work he's put in.

Like myself, Pearl has about had enough of the cross season and the big rides over the Turkey weekend added up to produce a somewhat lackluster result on the day. Slipping just inside the top 10 isn't a bad day for not feeling it though. Here he approaches the sketchy little downhill turn.

Rounding out the team day was Capers, who is off his great ride at Cathedral last weekend. The 6 hour training does not really translate to the shorter, high-end efforts of cross. By his own admission he was a bit of pack fodder on the day. To be expected given last weekend.

In all a great course again, and a great weekend for the team. No idea where we sit in the team standings but hopefully we managed to hold on to the 2nd place overall. Somerset is likely too far out to catch. But there are a slew of other teams breathing down our neck last I checked.

See you next week at the Scramble!

More pics here:
Norm's pics
Mandi's pics
Robin's pics

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Misfits at Allaire (by Utah)

So I have been hearing about the awful sand, flat and boring conditions at Allaire for 3 years now.  Frank has been trying to convince me to never ride there as it is indeed not worth the drive.  Well despite the negative reviews I figured I would hit up the Misfits ride and see for myself.  Misfits ride as in a ride for owners of misfit bikes.  Matty B originally organized this ride for all misfit owners as they are apparently some sort of hells angel gang of bikers who wear tights rather than leather.  However, the ride was in fact an all-inclusive and I was not harassed for riding my conformist cannondale.

After meeting up with Luke and Eileen, we made our way down.  Arriving in the parking lot, I was surprised to see it completely jam packed with riders.  I would name names, but there were far too many to list.  The misfit drivers soon came together for a picture

Soon followed by the rest of us….Mitch took the picture, but sadly could not join us on the ride.

So after some social this and that we finally hit the trails with Matty, Frank and Chris G leading the way.  Within a few minutes the train was moving at high speed and we were having an absolute blast.  Cant understand why Frank dislikes this place so much J.  It’s a really nice change of pace from the rocky and technical trails that surround my hood.  I can’t remember when I have been on a group ride this large and seen it move so quickly.  Got to do some quality chit chat with lance, walt, spence, lou and even some james pearl commentary!

Train was crazy long

Our locomotive

James Pearl must be in cross season

Eventually we made our way over to this thing…Luke kept us there for 10 minutes until he cleaned it

Nail it Wookie!

The pines

In total we racked up about 15miles in an hour and forty minutes of moving time which was dam good considering the size of the group.  Cant believe I waited this long to hit this place up, its an absolute blast.  I only wish it was closer to my house.  Great times and a great tour…Thanks to Matty and Frank for the guidance.

After the ride, about 15 went for some post ride refueling..good times!!!

A Time of Thanks (by Pooriggy)

I love this time of year, bike races are winding down, the weather is still good for getting out and it’s the kick off of the holiday season…which means less work and more time to bike and spend with family. Mountain biking is now more about going out on an adventure and less about training for the next race.

This was a different Thanksgiving for me this year. Instead of going to the in-laws for the usual turkey dinner I spent the day at the hospital. My dad had esophagus cancer 4 yrs ago and due to complications from the operation to remove the cancer his lungs are in poor condition. Thursday it got to a point that he had to go to the hospital so he could be put on a respirator. In the past 4yrs I have become somewhat numb to events like these, I mean I hope for the best but am ready for whatever comes at me. These days I try to focus on being there for my mom, she needs the support.

My support for dealing with things like this is getting out on my bike with friends. As we all know getting out on the bike can turn one’s mood around and help us to make the best out of any situation. The day after Thanksgiving I spent the morning mountain biking with Utah and Falco at Ringwood State Park. No matter what crap goes on in our life cycling seems to make everything feel better. I am grateful to have my health and buddies to share a ride at one of my favorite parks in NJ.

We met at Ryerson School and rolled out at 7:45 as other cars began to filter into the parking lot for post Thanksgiving rides. Despite the frosty grass and cool temp’s it didn’t take long for the climb up warm-puppy to warm us up. With Falco up front we got into a nice rhythm as we headed out toward Shepard’s lake on Skylands trail. Our 29” wheels flowed over rocks (with an occasional dab) that seemed to be created by the geological process. Its hard to believe these trails where built by Jorba, they feel so natural.

Bombing down a fire road Falco ripped his sidewall and got a hole in his back tire. Yes the boy works at a bike shop and was too lazy to set up his tire tubeless. No worries he uses a Gu pack as a boot on the sidewall and has a spare tube, oops wait he has a hole in his spare. Utah pulls out his spare tube from his bag of tricks and discovers that his has a hole as well. This reminds me of HS days of carrying condoms around in my wallet that break before they ever see any use. I pulled out my condom and gave it to Falco, no hole…good to go.

After the Shepard’s lake area I have no idea where I am, but I do know we are heading toward the old boy scout area on some of the most technical trails of Ringwood. By the amount of fresh leaves on the ground you can see that this is the path less traveled. The rocks are now more randomly placed and menacing. At one point my hand slips off my handlebars while going down a rock and I start heading over the bars only to be saved by my stomach hitting the bars. I think it may have been better if I went over, ouch!
The old BSA area brings back some fuzzy memories for me; I camped here in the late 70’s as a scout. It’s tough for me to recall this area on a bike; if I had more time I’d hike around here to jar my memory. I’ll settle for a picture instead.

The ride back to the school from this area is incredible. Some sections are crazy rocky, some are floweee rocky and some offer great views. This section beat me up some more and I started to get sloppy as my body began to get tired on the uphill technical stuff. After descending the downhill rocky switchbacks we came upon a stream crossing that Falco picked the perfect line across. Utah aimed for that line but slid off a rock and his front tire sank into 3 feet of water. This is never a good thing; he did his best to stay dry but ended up doing the backstroke in the current. Which I must say the stream crossings where certainly at high tide this time of year. Luckily we didn’t have far to peddle to make it back to the cars.

Rolling back to the school in less then 2.5hrs we managed to cover about 14 miles. My Garmin 500 is never 100% accurate in the woods. This ride was exactly what I needed to deal with stuff that life throws at you. From time to time everyone has unpleasant things to deal with but we can all be thankful for our family, friends and the opportunity to get out on a bike and enjoy ourselves. Keep on bikin!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Six Hours Cathedral pines. through the eyes of a Capers

Couldn't have asked for a better day for 6+ hours racing mountain bikes on Long Island, in the middle of November. As expected, this year's Six Hours Of Cathedral Pines was a real treat and an opportunity to shake things up a bit while in the midst of cyclocross season. This would be my second year participating in this event and I couldn't be more stoked to race it again.

Hit the road around 6AM with teammates Rob Perazzo, Dana Napurano and Chris Brawley (Pooriggy). We crammed 4 bodies, 5 bikes and a ton miscellaneous shit onto and inside Rob's little Toyota.

Arrived at Cathedral Pines County Park about an hour before the start. We hooked up with Kirt and Dave Clapp at the gate so that we could all park and pit together. Shortly after, the Gozicks rolled up.

I don't see much value in warming up before long format races like these, so my pre race ritual became a bit more laid back than normal. I picked up my number, kitted up, ate and cruised around to check out the scene. Chatted it up with several friends and teammates. The vibe was good.

After the pre-race meeting, all 300 or so of us lined up for a mass start. I picked a spot towards the front and shot the shit with my buddy Dan Brodeen. As we were talking, the gun went off without warning, taking us completely by surprise. Unprepared for this, I leaped onto my saddle cyclocross-style and pedaled like a madman up the prologue. As with any race, I did my best to pick through the riffraff to secure a decent position towards the front, leading up to the singletrack.

The Mass start is as crazy as you've heard - Photo by Jennifer Carlson

There was a bit of congestion as we entered the woods but thats unavoidable considering the volume of riders. There were some hang-ups on the first series of hills but I managed to dodge & pass those folks and kept pedaling. I wasted no time jumping ahead of riders that were not moving fast enough and by about 25 minutes in, settled into a nice groove with a group of about 8 guys. We hammered out the remainder of the first lap which ended up being 51 minutes exactly.

I continued riding with this group for just about the entire second lap, always keeping someones wheel a couple feet in front of mine. Half way through lap 2, I spot my teammate Rob and he takes the lead for a while. we pushed the pace a little bit harder and banged out a 49 minute 2nd lap. I'm feeling pretty good at this point. While passing through the transition area, I pull up alongside Rob, we exchange pleasantries and I take the lead into the singletrack. Always a good feeling when you have a friend to ride with. Rob stayed relatively close behind and was never out of site. By now the group had mostly broken up into smaller pods of 2's and 3's as we continued to hammer through the sweet, flowy Long Island singletrack.

I kept a consistent effort, onwards through the next several laps but It wasn't before long that something evil began lurking within my legs. I have never experienced this before in a race, and that evil was the cramp monster! The cramping was relentless and hung around for the remainder of the race. The only way to suppress the pain was to pedal faster. Slowing down only caused my legs to lock up. At times I found myself shifting to an easier gear to spin a faster cadence. Nevertheless, I fought through it and did my best to maintain momentum. I still had plenty of gas in the tank.

I really had to force myself to eat every time I came around through the transition area. I didn't want to loose any time so my stops were 30 seconds or less. I mostly ate on the go, which was rather difficult with solid foods. Nearly choked on a cliff bar. That was ugly.

At the end of Lap 5, Chris (Pooriggy) catches up to Rob and I. We all pass through the transition area together. My cramps are at their climax right now. I downed almost an entire bottle of water, a banana and a package of chomp blocks. Chris Takes off and thats the last I see of him. Rob decides he doesn't want to ride anymore and bails right then and there. This is OK for him as the registration numbers were so low for his age group that at this point, he wins by default! I congratulate him and take off for lap 6.

For the next 2 laps, I find myself mostly riding solo with the occasional wheel sucker latching on. Dialed into autopilot mode, my bike rails the twisty turns with speed and finesse. I am quite literally in that special place called "the zone". James Brown's "Get on the Good Foot" is on repeat in my brain and my groove is unstoppable. By now many of the other racers are really beginning to fade, none of which were racers in my class. I 'm passing folks like like crazy. Well, passing as courteously as one could. We're all here to have a good time so I did my best not to be a jerk.

Towards the end of lap 7, I look down at my Garmin and see that I have passed the 6 hour mark, so an 8th lap isn't going to happen. I have a huge gap on the next rider in my field behead me so I ease up and cruise the last mile or so to the finish line. I end up wrapping it up with 7 laps at 6:11 and a 5th place finish. Not a bad day!
It wasn't until I dismounted that it hit me how beat up my body felt. It's the good kind of soreness though, the kind you earn!

I was pleased to learn that every single one of my teammates threw down strong finishes in their respective classes. Outstanding! Quite a few podiums were had for MTBNJ..


Rob Perazzo 1/1, Cat 1 Male 19 to 29 Laps 5, Time 4:18:26.9
Dana Napurano 3/5, Cat 2 Female 30 to 39 Laps 5, Time 5:51:12.6
Eric Capers 5/23, Cat 2 Male 30 to 39 Laps 7, Time 6:11:11.6
Chris Brawley 3/27 Singlespeed Open. Laps 7, Time 6:02:22.7
Chris Gozick 7/27 Singlespeed Open. Laps 7, Time 6:17:09.3

Kirt Mills 3/19 Male Duo Relay Laps 8, Time 6:38:19.5
David Clapp 3/19 Male Duo Relay Laps 8, Time 6:38:19.5

ChrisG - Photo by Wayne Lewis

Dana - Photo by Anthony Benavides

Capers - Anthony Benavides

Iggy on cruise control - Photo by Jennifer Carlson

Kirt doing his part - Photo by Wayne Lewis

RobP drinkin' up - Photo by Jennifer Carlson

Part of the crew enjoying the delicious post-race chili.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Supercross & Sussex Weekend

That's right, 3 races, 2 states, 2 days, 10 MTBNJ racers, and 1 newly certified spin instructor. If you weren't out there racing this weekend you missed plenty of good times. If you were, then bonus! Surely you saw lots of blue & orange if you were.

Behind the ‘Stache : Super Cross Cup Edition (by Fred)

The Long Island race weekend historically for me has been the weekend that leaves me packing my car with haste and more than a few curse words about my weekends riding.  Fried burnt out, cracked.  Ya, any of those describe how I would be feeling on Sunday.  But this year I have focused on trying to keep things fresh and not race EVERY race that I could find.  This has become especially crucial with the addition of Nationals to the schedule.  Wisconsin in January?  Sure!  Sounds like a great idea!

The mid week rain had me curious to what the course conditions would be like come the weekend.  A Fast, Flowy (more so on the second day) and Fun race course are what we arrived to mid morning Saturday.  Good, hard, clean (like not muddy) bike racing was in store for us at Eisenhower Park.

Both days were just that.  Good and hard bike racing.  I hung onto the wheels of the boys at the front for as long as I could…the brutally hard accelerations corner after corner made things a bit tough to keep up with.  I’ll get there one day I hope.  The fields were not big but they sure were strong.  I was happy to finish inside the top 10 on both days.

 I am pretty happy with the weekend.  Two good rides and I am not ready to hang it up just yet.  Plus I was able to convince Linda to take the winnings on the weekend and apply them to something I have had my eye on for quite some time.

 Time for some rest, relaxation and over eating.  Madison or Bust!

Fred: 9 of 20 - Elite Men
Maurice: 3 of 30 - Masters 35+

Fred: 8 of 16 - Elite Men
Maurice: 2 of 25 - Masters 35+

SCCX#1 (by Norm & Pearl)

Meanwhile, in NJ I lined up with the old men at 9:00 and gave it all I could for a good 3-4 laps, where I was able to hang with those leaders until they pulled away from me on the run-up. For all my preaching not to bother running when you train, this thing really got me. By no means am I short, but I felt like I was 3 feet tall on this one. The last 2 laps was an effort in just riding it out, as 5th place was pretty far back. I ended up 1-2 minutes back of the leaders and comfortably in 4th place. My series is pretty much locked up in 3rd place at this point.

It was nice to have a dry course for a change. Here was the easy run-up, which was right after I slipped and almost fell.

After I cooled down and got dressed, I hung around for a bit and took some pics of the ladies. Here Robin rips on her way to 4th place, matching what I had done in the first race:

Then I had to go. Eventually some of the other guys showed up, including Pearl. In his words...

Front and center. The trumpet sounds and we are off. I find my pedal and I'm in front of everyone in sight... WTF? I easily had the best first 200m of my life. I'm 2nd into the first uphill climb behind the Knapps rider (guy who was pounding the beers at Westwood). Paul easily sneaks by me. I try to latch onto his wheel and he pulls away. Can't remember how the next 3-4 people get by, but they do. Mostly on the climbing sections of the course. I end up behind Dan Harpers wheel. Motivation kicks in. I want to give this guy a run for his money. Couple of times I try to sneak by, whether dismounting the tree turn or after he OTB's on the smaller barrier section. I have better cornering skills than Dan but he has the legs and lungs. Chris26er squeaks by and is now working on Dan. He eventually gets around him.

This happens for 4 laps, me chasing Dan around and trying to squeeze him out. The bell goes off and so does Dan. WOW. Dan and the rest of the field had another gear that I didn't that day. I lose contact with Dan and am in no mans land. I see RobG and another rider battling 2-3 turns back. I'm trying to save something as I know they will get me, but not let off the gas too much. I peak back and see RobG take a good, protecting line from me. Not sure if he knew this, but the inside line helped out with the other guy on his tail to keep his position. One last turn.

I feel as recovered as I could for the last 200 meters of a sprint. I peak under my left arm and see another rider, not RobG, out of the saddle and hammering it.

I give it all I can, for as long as I can... I had about 20 pedal strokes in my body and it shut down. I lose 8th spot and finish 9th.

What an awesome venue and course. 13.5MPH average? I was on the fence about racing next week at the same place, but holy crap this was fun.

Norm: 4 of 16 - 40+ Men
Robin: 4 of 9 - Cat 4 Women
Ilya: 9th of 24 - B Men
Utah: 12th of 24 - B Men
ChrisS: 6 of 31 - C Men
Pearl: 9 of 31 - C Men
RobG: 10 of 31 - C Men
ChrisRU: 11 of 31 - C Men

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fair Hill & Westwood Weekend of Pain

Saturday: Fair Hill & Westwood

The weekend kicked off down south at Fair Hill, which is somewhat north of the Mason-Dixon line. I think?

From Robin:

"This past Saturday I had the choice of either racing Westwood (NY) or Fair Hill (MD). Both were going to be a drive and I was already signed up for Sunday’s Westwood race. I decided to go with fair Hill since my coach, Ben, would be there and it there would be some new faces to line up with in the Cat 3/4 Women's.

"Arrived early enough to get a lap in between races and went over some spots with Ben. Warmed up and went up to the call-up. There weren't as many girls as Granogue, which was my first MAC race, but more than I'm used to at the NJ series. I was in the third row for the start, which included slight gravel climb. I felt really good out of the start, making my way into the course - which I absolutely loved. Turns and little ups and downs. Conditions were prime - dry and fast. Did I mention I loved the course?

"I had a blast out there. I placed 9th, and considering the girls I was up against, overcoming my fear of passing, and dealing with a "flat", I'm very happy with that finish. Great vibe at the race - spectators cheering and tasty beverages. The race promoters did a fantastic job and I’ve put this on my “to-race” list for next season."


Fair Hill Results:

Robin - 9th/16
Fred - DNF (he got run over)
Maurice - 1st/33

Meanwhile, up north it was a disaster. I (Norm) got there bright and early and did a lap of the course, and while it was wet, it was nothing like it would become. I was having a great race, holding down 2nd in the 40+ until my wig was soiled, and my chain exploded. Without question, I was incredibly disappointed and wanted to throw my bike. I hear stories that Fred did exactly that which is what I was close to doing. But the price tag on this sport is already high enough, no need to tack on a few thousand dollars smashing a perfectly good carbon frame. Better luck next time, so they say.


Ilya - 5th of 13
Utah Joe - 8th of 13 - B
ChrisRU - 2nd of 17 - C
Capers - 11th of 17
Norm - 2nd...wait, DNF. EAT IT!!

Sunday, Westwood

Pearl on Sunday:

Sunday Westwood Experience: I raced Sunday, and boy was that painful. Mud sucking your shoes off and running through long stretches of oozy, thick, peanut butter mud just did me in. I can't remember the last time I ran more than 20 feet, but trying the run, learn how to shoulder (my shoulders are really puny and boney) and try not to fall on my face was a task in itself.

I ended up flatting halfway through the second lap, so my day pretty much was over. Dan Larino was in the pit and loaned me a wheel, but my brake wouldn't work as his wheelset was wider. I can't say what else I had left in the tank, as I was slowly starting to walk instead of even jog in these mud sections. Anyway, Here is the rest of the day in pictures!

Mandi starting another painful lap, ladies ended up doing 4!

Robin through a tricky downhill corner, saw a couple of guys eat it here later in the day

Mandi and Robin right after the race, Fun faces!

Fred working the steps

Fred and Maurice on the podium in the A race.

This was the scene for a couple of sections of the course. Ouch.

Chris showing the rest of the field how to ride the run-up.

Shout out to this guy from Knapps, can someone ID him? I think he was doing well in this race as well.

Team Results:

Ilya - 5th of 23
ChrisS - 11 of 29
ChrisRU - 15 of 29
Pearl - 22 of 29
Robin - 5th of 10
Mandi - 7th of 10
Maurice - 2nd of 13
Fred - 3rd of 13
Norm - 7th of 18
RobG - 8th of 22