Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Norm's Jungle

I'm a roadie prick. You know this. 

They say the first step in addressing any problem is admitting it. I say they're out to lunch, and the first step in addressing any problem is to open a beer and think about it, preferrably on the deck or patio. If your problem just so happens to be beer, then drink wine or something. Don't ask me, I just try to ponder as much as possible these days. 

Ok, let's rewind a bit. Well, let's see. First the Earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes.

Wait, too far. Let's go back to the winter, when Utah said he wanted to peak for Jungle. We never bring up the W word. W implies you have more control of the situation that you do. When it comes down to it, you are merely a P. That would be pawn, in game of life. Like Mongo. You can only work hard, line things up, and step up to the line on race day. Most of the rest is up to chance. So the W word never comes up. But you can try to have things lined up for that single day. Because...you never know. 

So Utah's goal is Jungle, and as many of you either know or have figured out, I've been moving around the chess pieces on his board for a while now. This is his big day, so I want to show support and be there for him. This all begins a few weeks back when we go for a pre-ride of what we think the course may look like. 

In the rain.

I had the SS that day and felt fine. It was our Tuesday ride which I'm used to by now. I seem to ride well on Tuesdays, which is funny, because most of you know that in general Tuesday sucks. Fast forward to the weekend, 1 week before the race. We meet again, this time with RU, young Rob, Jeremy, and Matty. Rob brought me an greatly undersized Jet 9 which I hated, then I did a lap on my SS which I hated some more. We knew the course by now and rode what the race was going to be. 

After 2 laps, I was done. That night at the team gathering I declared I was out of this race. It made no sense. Why would I do this? Like I said in the start, I'm a roadie prick. Rocks and trees and stuff? No chance, this course will kick my ass. And what am I thinking riding an SS at this race? That's just asinine. I can support in a lawn chair. 

Ok, so my race is over before it begins. But then this guy in Japan says that he'll make a deal. If he flies back the day before and races at 9:00 am, I have to race. Fine, I can't argue that. I'll bring the gears, dumb down expectations, and just try to make it a hard training ride. We pre-ride the course again, but this time I have gears, and I admit to Utah the gears make a big difference. In the back of my mind, expectations & goals start to build up. This happens. When we're not pondering on the patio, we usually think too much. 

I promise there's a race in here, somewhere.

We watch the cat 2s go off real quick, then head back to the cars to sit down for a few minutes.

Right before we roll we talk to Mike, Utah's biggest nemesis coming into the race. Shortly after we do a full lap pre-ride with Pearl. At his request, I do my best to keep Utah's mouth from ruining his pre-game, and we get out at about 9:35, which brings us back to the lot with about 10 minutes to spare. I want to be warm, and Utah is up for the long warm-up. I suffer from bad starts usually, and tend to warm-up too little. So I want to make this one longer than normal. In the end, it's just an experiment.

We go off as the 4th class, and I think Lombardo is gone before I cross the start line. For as much as I saw him they may have started him on the course. Our class is deep, which is why I have no expectations on much of anything here. I want a top 10, which seems a reasonable goal for me. This is only the second time racing this bike, and my first non-SS race of the year. With the deep class maybe top 10 isn't reasonable, but I don't care.

I get on Bill Romolino's wheel to start and on the fire road pass him, then get into Warthog in maybe 10th or so. The start hurts, but not as much as usual. Once in the woods I do my best to just follow a wheel, as I find that this keeps you on your game better. By the end of Warthog I am at the back of a fairly long train, and I see Pearl ahead and he pulls over to let us go. He was going to try to hold me off all race, but he only had a 1 minute head start, not 2.

In the back of my mind I'm wondering who the first 30-39 racer is that will catch me. As I pass Luke, he is floored that I am ahead of Utah, which makes me laugh. Or blow a kiss, or whatever I did.

All of the small spots that were tripping me up on the various pre-rides were not an issue today. The tight left that kicked me off every time, the first turn into Otter Slide, the big rock wedged in between the trees - none of these are an issue. Pre-riding is good. The only thing that got me was the end of that Tiger Pit, or whatever that uber rocky thing at the end was called. Cleaned it every time but the gravel at the end got me every single lap. Stupid gravel.

Anyway, as I turn on to Boon on the first lap, I hear Utah behind me, "YOU GOT THIS!"

Right, no pressure there. I do clean it and somehow gap him a little bit. We ride out the ST to the pavement and talk a little. He tells me he's pushing too hard, and I tell him to dial it back and make sure he paces properly. He says he will, then continues to push too hard by jumping ahead.  I ride his wheel most of the rest of the lap. The rocky Tiger Pit end-lip gets me, and he gets a small gap, which he holds through the lap.

As I ride through the S/F I get some yells and comments about how close to Utah I am. Well, at least for 1 lap. I know I won't be able to maintain this and he will. But for a lap, hey look, here I am!

At the end of Warthog I engage in what I would call a little team strategy. I know Utah is out ahead, and he's being chased by Mancuso and another guy. So the longer I can stay ahead of him, the more likely Utah stays out ahead. At the base of Otter Slide Steve asks me in perhaps the kindest tone if I could find a chance to let him by. He also admits that it's not a great place to pass.

I do my best to stay on my bike and hold them off. I manage to stay in front all the way up to the top, but they eventually get by and I follow them for a bit after that.

Roll through lap 2 with less fanfare than lap 1.

At the start of Warthog I catch 26er, who I had been seeing on & off for a while. He does his best to hold me off, but eventually he overcooks a line and ends up in the weeds. He gives up the fight there and pulls over and lets me go. As I pass he says, "Keep at it, Frank is right up ahead."

Me, like an idiot, "Really?"


Ok ok, eat me. I keep riding, my legs hurt. Up Otter Slide, my legs hurt more and almost-sorta want to cramp. I go past Luke and he tells me I'm catching Utah. Uh oh, not good. I was afraid he cooked too much to start, but I hope he's got enough of a gap to hold it.

As I run over the pipe, I know that 26er is behind me and is a solid 30 seconds behind me by now. At this point I know I just need to roll it out clean to hold server. I dial it back so I don't end up in the weeds, and roll out the lap. Other than the stupid Tiger Pit gravel, I ride it clean & easy, and roll through the S/F.

I see Utah and ask, he shakes his head yes. He managed to hold it off, which is awesome. I end up 8th in a deep field, so I'm happy. I roll it out a bit with Iggy, then get dressed and hang out with the crew before heading home.

But I'm still a roadie prick. Who likes to ponder.

Monday, May 21, 2012


As hannibal liked to say...I like it when a plan comes together.  And truth be told, today was all a plan, put together many months ago....Every detail thought out at mental patient level.  From my diet, to training, to my new bike....the goal was to win this race.  Everything else was secondary.  So by the time today came I had run every turn on this course, every rock, every tree, 1000 times.  I certainly wasnt sure that I could win it, but I was sure that I had done every bit of homework possible. 

This past week or so with the company of my team I think I did around 8 or so pre ride laps and initially i was pretty bummed about the removal of goat and animal chute.  They are classic jungle death trails and once you master them, your ability to gap people in this race can be staggering.  I felt that the real hard stuff was missing today and the harder the course is, the better for me.  That said, it was still a great course and the road sections were pretty minimal and the majority of the course was my idea of a XC race. 

So as I have mentioned many times in the past, Norm has been my go to for training advice and this week I really followed everything to the letter.  Soon as I got on the bike this morning to start warming up, I felt as good as I ever have for a race.  Norm, Pearl and I rolled around for a full lap to warm up and all systems were go. 

Chat with the current king of my class Mike Merrit.  He murdered blue and waywayanda with little or no pre riding so I feel I still have a pretty big task ahead of me today. He told me how he had never ridden at jungle before, ever. This usually is not a good formula for JH. Its just not like any other h2h course.  Its brutal hell and there is a huge difference between doing everything on the course and doing everything at race pace. 

Headed over to the start and lined up.  This time we are lined up behind 40-49, 19-29, SS and Pro.  Not a huge fan of this.  Jungle is not the easiest place to pass at and with the tech section you tear though groups of people in minutes.   So anytime, prep time is over...KILL!!!!!

We rocket off, someone stands up and pulls off the front, mike drops in, then Steve, then me.  Pace is now death.  We hit the fire road leading to the parking lot and the leader pulls off leaving Mike, Steve and I.  No idea who is behind me and for the first time in a cat 1 race, I could give a shit...I see that mike is heading for the hard left into warthog at 110mph and since he hasnt ridden it before, this is going to get ugly.  He loses the front end into the turn, but recovers quickly.  We are now all wheel to wheel as we hit the ST. 

Instantly we hit traffic and this is about the worst place to pass.  Its monumentally important in the first 10min of a race to NOT let the leader gap you and fall off his wheel.  Mike gets a couple of breaks and steve and I are struggling a bit to make our way though.  Props to steve though, he was all over everyone and moving everyone out of the way in rapid form.  And really I dont like doing this, but nothing was going to stop me from letting go of mikes wheel....thus I did trade a bit more paint that usual today.

Steve lets me by after a few min and I make my way to mikes wheel.  The pace is super hard, but im feeling ok.  I made a stupid move and passed someone in the weeds that would not move over...this knocked me off my bike for a second and caused my chain to drop.  Really dumb and could have ended my day.  Steve repasses me and I know have to peg it to catch back up. 

Into the rocks we are now well into the 19-29 guys and im really struggling to make my way around and stay with mike.  Mike is also have no trouble clearing whatever is in front of him with zero mistakes.  Im thinking any tech advantage I might have could be moot....but otterslide is coming. 

We hit the base and im close behind, steve right behind me.  Mike has to run the start of the second switchback, but a gang of walkers keeps me from passing.  I stay close and get ready to attack. Next switch back, mike has to jump off and thats it, I dropped the hammer.  Put my head down and blew though the remaining part of the climb like I have done countless times.  I see Iggy and let him know that I just got the lead...He cheers me on then sends me by. By the time I hit the tanks, i have opened a gap. 

Rip the downhill hard!  Pass Kirt who also cheers me on, then soon see Norm up ahead.  about this time I look down and in 20min, my ave hr is now 170...this is nuts and will never hold.  Im glad I did run into norm when i did because I could really use his level head right now.  And Norm delivers as he usually does.  I need to switch from insano CX pace, back to xc pace and this is not easy when you are being chased.  I stay with him for a bit and try to ease up.  We stay together until near the end of lap one, then i pull away a bit. 

Hit the lap button
31:35....christ...nearly 5min faster than my fastest pre ride lap...Just goes to show you what race pace does. 
Ave HR 169.  Highest ever for a lap 1 for me.

I dont blow up like I used to anymore, but it was clear that I just drilled it at level stupid for 30min and now im going to have pay for that.  I look back and I cant see anyone that looks to be in my class....so I try to ease up and calm it down.  I pass Victor on the pavement and he latches onto my wheel though warthog.  Kept it very clean and smooth this time and vic is keeping me pushing.  Pass 26er and Eddie V who both give me props and send me on my way. 

Otterslide...ug...Like and asshole I catch my bar, then fork on a sapling on the side of the trail and literally have to get off my bike and yank it off of it.  Im fuming, angry utah pissed off now.  Hate this...stupid mistakes that i assume are costing me tons of time.  Anyway, I soon get my shit back together and hit the climb.  Im really feeling the pain now...I pass luke and im pretty certain that if there is anyone on my tail, im now powerless to respond.  Pace is still ok, but im well into the pain cave. 

The downhill and following flats help me out a bit and I try to take it nice and easy for the rest of the lap. 

Hit lap 3...lost a couple min, but still a solid 33:30 lap.  So back of my head now is 30 or so more min of pain and its over.  My legs have now gone from pain to numb and this helps.  I make it to warthog still in the clear.  Chris Ledonne lets me by at the start and I had a very clean, very smooth ride though this section. 

Last time up otterslide and im in massive amounts of pain, but I still keep it clean.  I look down at some point and see who I think is Mike Ahearn.  Hes a ways down the hill, but im doing the math and I think its maybe 30sec to a min?  No idea, but that was it for me.  Locked out the fork, stood up and drilled it.  I caught falcon on the top of the big drop and tried to stay right with him. 

I pass and tell him to stay with me.  He sticks right to my wheels and helps me greatly though the final 15min of the race.  Yelling at me to pedal whenever I let up a bit and keeping my head in the game.  By this time, im quite miserable and im thinking to myself that I never ever want to do another race again....usual stuff.  The pain cave is not a fun place.  But falcon is keeping my mind occupied.  Hit the river crossing and I feel like if i can clean this, its over, I got it!  Nailed it perfect!  Hit the hill after and im certain that its over. 

Roll the tunnel and finally....VICTORY!!!! (thanks for the pic robin!)

So my laps  were  31:35, 33:31, 33:35.  Not sure how I matched 2-3 together, but whatever.
Finally!  Its been since ringwood in 2009 since I got to stand on top of a podium.  Since then, 2 brutal years of getting cut to pieces in cat 1.  Not that I ever had any thought of giving up, but many times I have thought "these guys are just too fast and you will never get there"  So it was a great feeling of payoff today for alot of hardwork.

Cant say enough about my team and the part they played in my win today.  Norm helping with training and focusing on what my goal is.  Kirt, Bill, Iggy, Woody, Luke falcon, norm......the whole gang out there all winter putting group rides together.  The A rides, the short track series...all were key to today.  This team really is the best and made up of the best group of people I have ever been a part of. 

thanks for the pic iggy...cant wait to see how miserable I look in lukes pics

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hunting on Hunter, by Glick

Most people associate Hunter Mountain with skiing however Saturday they held the first annual Hunter Mountain Spring Classic Road Race. The same people that do Battenkill, Tour of the Dragons, Tour of the Catskills and a handful of other ultra punishment road races put on this race. 

I shared the ride up with Shawn Ericksen (Elite racing cat3) and Alex Cooper (Tenafly Road Dawgs cat 4) on what was about as perfect weather conditions and as beautifully clear sky as you could have. Sunny clear and cool (60s ish). Walking over to registration I introduce them to my teammates Ben and Kush, as they are both in these guys groups. The overall vibe was really great and I have to think that the weather had everyone in particularly good spirits. I was a bit surprised and glad to see Roger of Fincraft there for his first race since his severe crash last season. Great to see him back in racing action on a bike. 

This race is 80mi, 5k' of climbing and although not super hot it was going to get a little warmer and regardless it’s a long way to go with no water. I was concerned about being short a bottle but I wasn't going to carry 4. Ultimately it didn't turn out to be an issue and they did have a feed station shortly after the lap 2 start where they handed out poland spring bottles and I was able to snag one. Oh that reminds me, as I entered the feed zone at the start of lap 2 I had my empty in my back pocket so I went to toss it off the side of the road by the 300m to go sign so that I knew where to find it later and my toss had such amazing aim that it actually hit the post that the sign was mounted on sending it shooting back like a grenade hitting one of those baseball practice thingys and launching it right back into the pack. I held my breath for a few seconds praying I wasn't about to take everybody down. Yikes.

I'm not going to give a play by play but to summarize, the front of my group stayed together for the most part all the way to the big climb in the second lap which was around 65 miles in. At this point we were down to 7 riders and this is where I began to struggle a bit. For the first time I had to work harder to stay on and sure enough another rider and myself came unhitched not far from the top. This was very physically and mentally frustrating because I knew if I could just hang on for like 15-30 seconds longer I would be able to stay with the lead group probably to the end. Amazing how a race 80 miles long comes down to critical seconds. When we got over this I could see that someone else had popped also and was dangling between the leaders and myself. I worked like a bastard to get to that person fast enough before they totally popped so that we could work together and try and get back on. But as I have experienced so many times this always seems much more possible in your mind than in real life. We chased for 15 miles and were never able to close that down but holy crap was that hard just to maintain that gap of what eventually became like a minute. So close...

 In closing, overall it was a great race experience and I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to do a long road race that has 2 major things going for it logistically: first it is not quite as early in the season as Bkill so you are likely to be in better shape for a big event and second, it is significantly closer to get to than Bkill. Course is also much easier on your body and equipment, there were holes but they were clearly marked, nothing compared to Bkill terrain. In closing, this is likely a not to miss event for the predictable future for me. Oh and lastly can we make arrangements for the same weather next year?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kirt Rocking it at Waway

Waway. Clapp meet me at my house & we headed up to grab Iggy in Booton. Always better cruising up with people just makes the whole day more complete. Got there early enough to take our time getting ready & warmed up. 

Lap 1

The prologue had me a bit worried but it turned out to be a non-factor. Hit the double track about 2/3 back from the front. The 1st little rocky up & the group is off & walking. Jump back on & decide I need to make a move, really lots of moves. I guess at this point I decide to just go for it. Lap 1 would be my make or break lap & second would be the try & hang on lap. I'm being super aggressive, which is not normally my thing & passing a bunch of people. Finally settle in behind Esteban who I know is always up there in the end. Hang on his wheel for a while, even pass him after Outlook. Didn't last long as he runs by me on 1 of the slimy ups & is gone. Felt good while it lasted. In sitting Bear I get a glimpse of Victor, new target. Get to about 30ft off him close to the S/F & decide to fuel up before I try & make the move. 

Lap 2

Eat my gel (must bring the flask next time, just so much easier) pop a few Sportlegs & I'm off chasing him down again. Climbs & fireroads are uneventful. Come up on JimV at 1 point & crash trying to catch him, ouch #1. Back on the bike & I'm now chasing Jim again. Catch & pass him at 2 Bridges & then he passes me back on the next climb. I try to hang on which is a good thing as he pulls me to within 20 feet of Victor, bad thing is as he passes Victor, Victor try's chase Jim down, big gap again. Damn. We finally get into the ST & I pass Jim 1st as he's off on the rocky up. I'm clean on both & I close to the back of Victor's wheel. I'm riding clean & he is not so he just tells me to pass. Ok I'll take it because my legs didn't want to try a pass. Next I pass Mandell who's off the bike. I had decided at that point I was going to walk the Outlook climb as the cramping is getting worse. Get there & look back & Victor is closing. Damn I have to ride it now & I actually make it. Man did it hurt. I was so spent I crashed on the next rocky DH right in front of TomH (the bike patrol guys), ouch #2. Get back up & keep plugging away. I get to SB & the cramps are starting to get really bad. Mandell rides my wheel for a bit & finally passes. I stay with him until the last climb (MattyB's hangout) & he's gone as are my legs. I'm toast!!! Hit the end & couldn't be happier it's over. 8th out of 25. 2m off 7th & 3 off 6th. Not unhappy with that at all. All the faster guys beat me. I felt like I gave it everything I had & more. I'll keep working hard & hopefully can close the gap a little more each race.

Great seeing & hanging with everyone. I agree the whole scene was so much better with the format change. Congrats to Utah, Alex, Patty, Allison, Eric on the podiums, you guys earned it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eric's Completely Fabricated Wawayanda Race Recap

Sun: Waywayanda

Aside from 2 short track races in March this was going to be my first real race effort for the year. It's been a busy few weeks so I wasn't quite sure what kind of form I'd be in when the horn went off. Also, this was going to be only my 3rd XC event ever (raced KVSP the past two years on a 26" sofa pillow with less than stellar results). Oh, and I rode a mountain bike maybe 5 times max during 2010 and 2011. Nonetheless I had set high expectations for myself. Like as high as you can set them. Probably not realistic but they say to visualize success, right?

So how'd it go? Honestly all I can remember is that I got on my bike, felt like I was going to hurl for an hour, got off my bike. Instead I'll just make up a totally fictitious recap.

Warmup looks something like this: Stand around shivering in spandex for about 2 hours pushing the stroller while Allison is out racing. Brad is kind enough to poke sticks into the child's eyes while I ride a few hundred feet to warm up. Allison finishes her race, congratulate her, hand off the child and go ride a few hundred more feet. 

Knowing that I want to be the first wheel or two going into the singletrack I pick a great spot in the staging area right at the back of my field. Horn goes off a minute after the 30-34 guys and were off. Weave through the pack and hit the road section in 5th and the voice inside my head says: "go to the front Eric. Pull everybody up the road and burn yourself up." So I do. Dumb. 

Hit the first climb in the lead with some guy right on my wheel. Figure it's a whole train. By this point we are deep into the 30-34 field and weaving through traffic like a truck driver high on a handful of cheap amphetamines. Finally look back and it's just one red dude and me and we've but a big dent into the field. Bobble a rocky section before the bog and red dude passes me then proceeds to go back to the future--full on 88mph-in-the-delorian style time warp. He puts about 20 seconds into me in as much time. At that point I know I'm racing for 2nd unless red dude ends up getting into a fight with Biff at the prom and his mom falls for him instead of for his dad. 

Middle of the race is a complete blur and I feel like just getting off and going for a hike instead. Asian dude that I know is in my field passes me on the fireroad which lights a fire in me. Shaved legs + nice calves = Roadie. Murder. He's off his bike on the next technical section but passes me again on the next climb and I think he's gone. Now I'm hurting again. At this point Lance has made his way up to me as I'm fading. We trade places for the last 5 miles. I gap him then drop my chain. He gaps me and I burn a match to catch up and so forth. Good battle. 

Utah said during our Tuesday pre-ride that it's not about riding the technical stuff fast, its about being smooth. In cross my mantra is slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Somewhere during the race I decided that sloppy and erratic would be a better strategy and I proceeded to crash in spectacular fashion at least 3 times on sitting bear. One of the crashes dislodged my rear wheel from the dropouts. Another crash stopped my bike dead and somehow I was able to eject and land on my feet running downhill for about 20 yards. Like I said, smooth is fast, right? 

See Lance about 10-12 seconds ahead coming up on the last hill but I've got nothing left. I figured 4th place but Asian dude cramped somewhere and we passed him without knowing. 3rd. Podium. Not quite where I wanted to be but I'll take it. 

Lessons learned. 1) Technical stuff looks a lot different at race pace. 2) Technical stuff is a lot harder when you can't see straight. 3) You need to ride a mountain bike on technical stuff if you want to be able to ride it fast. I feel like I have the fitness at this point but I really need to channel the flow.

I'm flying back from Japan the evening before Jungle which should put me in top form to crush it there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SSaP - The view from Utah

From the one and only Utah; Taken directly from his blog on MTBNJ:

I feel that this race is kinda the start to the mountain biking season for me anyway. Its like the opening memorial bbq that starts the summer off. Anyway, as the previous 3, the course was awesome and the vibe is usual dark horse "out of the park" fun

Something new and really nice was the early packet pickup. Last week Norm and I were able to get our numbers at the shop and not have to run around before the race. This was really nice. Got out of the car, got dressed, got on the bike. Its perfect for someone like me who has severe "cant STFU syndrome"

This will be the first real test for my new carbon MT-056-R2D2-C3P0-XR4TI frame. I have been riding it a bit, but in races, all bets are off. I was hoping it would survive the beating. Plus it would be rolling on my new carbon utah/oishi wheelset. I felt confident on all of this stuff, but until you give it a real bench test, you never know. All set, ready to go...5lbs lighter than my karate monkey I used last year...somehow the hills still hurt though, go figure.
This is a true frank-n-bike. Fork is from lous old cannondale, brakes from my scalpel, cranks from my 09 stumpjumper, among other things. The guesses people had on the frame yesterday were pretty funny. A few people believed me when I said Jay got me a prototype cannondale frame and they didnt have time to paint it  

So anyway, the race. Start warming up with norm...we did a couple laps though the first section of ST. Then we head and realize that they already called everyone up and we are in the wayway back. Thankfully the ladies were nice enough to let me get in line with Pearl and my friends....But at the start, we were still pretty far back. 
I think about 30 sec into the start I got pegged in the eye with a stone and I said "F this" im out of dust cloud. I started weaving my way though like an ambulance driver. Finally I pull up next to fred and ilya and we sit a few guys off the front. James Harmon was setting the pace. This section is almost comical....we are all at near max speed and pretty just hanging out. 

Get to the turn in, look down and we have averaged 19mph thus far...dam, didnt feel that fast. I settled in behind Fred, Ilya behind me. We were probably around 10th or so. My plan was to see if I could just stay with fred for a while at least, then not melt down when he pulls away and drops me. 

Fred pulls us though the prolog and then following ST section like a champ. Pace was just perfect. We break out onto the road with the leaders up maybe 50yrds, 3 behind them, then me and Ilya. This was just awesome, its one of those race scenarios you always hope for...In a good spot and with your teammates. 

We stayed right together with fred leading the way until the first walk up climb. The 3 guys in front of us all walk...I try to do this, but I cant...I make a light jog and go around these guys and get to the top first. We soon link up again, but now its just me fred and ilya. On the next run up, Sean Cavanaugh rides by me as i walk. Impressive for sure, but I know my back would have exploded if I tried this...not happening. Ilya and I soon track him down and its somewhere around I dont see fred anymore. Which was a bummer because we were having such a good together. But I figured he would be back. 

Me sean and Ilya then start working together and pushing each other. Its working so well. Im not feeling that lull that happens sometimes when you're alone and trying to find motivation to kill yourself. We were taking turns leading in different sections... then finally out on new road, Ilya took over and threw down an awesome battenkill like pull at the front. We can still see Roger up ahead and he is now alone, maybe 30sec up or so. This is good for us. We discuss amongst ourselves how absolutely awesome it would be if we could track him down and its really helping us working together to move faster. 

Got to the top of scofield on lap one, look down and see that we are ave. 13.9mph at this point...holy hell! On the downhill I lead and try to hold the pace at "tumbling boulder" 

Finish lap 1 and sean tells me "we lost your buddy"...I look back and Ilya is gone. Sean think he rolled his tire. This was a bummer, we were working really well together and this would now get much harder. I lead though the rocky ST and out onto the road, look back and Ilya has made it back to us. SWEET!!! 

We still see roger and every time we do, we just hit it harder and take turns pulling though sections. Sadly somewhere on the horse trail, sean flats and has to drop out of our group. Now its just Ilya and I. Were pretty sure were doing well...maybe like 7th 8th? No idea though...but top ten for sure. I knew there were guys in front of Roger, but i didnt know how many. 

Second time at the walk up...I step off the bike with Ilya and instantly my calfs start cramping as I walk....I had to jog a bit as the walking was not going to work. Ilya soon catches back up and we roll over to Luke. I asked him how we were doing and he comes back with "4th place, roger is 70sec ahead!" HOLY SHIT!!!! The two of us were now totally stoked. Top 5 with probably 30min to go. Probably not going to be able to track down roger, but I WANT that top 5 so there is no way im going to let anyone else catch us. Thus we keep on it. Hit the next walk up and I again have to jog to fight off the cramps. I put a little space on Ilya here, then again with the next short run up. 

The remaining ST I switch to my best TT mode, put my head down and grind. Back out to new road for the long stretch to scofield and I hit the climb as hard as I can hoping to maybe get lucky and see roger on the other side of the hill....Nope, he's gone. Hit scofield and just tried to hold the pace until the end....just cant wait to get to the finish line and confirm that I actually did pull off a top 5....because I still cant believe it! 

Roll in and Roger greets me with congrats, as do james and josh who finish 1/2. Maddawg looks as stunned as I do and is wondering how he missed the other 12 guys who finished before me lol. He asks for a piss test, but my lawyer tells me to decline. Soon Ilya comes in, followed by Fred....True team effort if there ever was one. Reminded me of the great time I had last year with Bill and Norm at the DH40 and how I wish every race could go like these did. 

Very big thanks to Fred, Ilya and Sean. Fred absolutely prevented me from doing anything stupid at the start and helped me settle into a solid pace. Then sean, Ilya and I just kept each other motivated trying to track down roger. It was about as fun as a race gets. 

I must also give a special thanks to my mr miyagi, Norm. The "paint the fence" and "sand the floor" stuff might sound silly and mundane sometimes....but do it and make a point to do it correctly, dont ask questions and you see the results. 

Im thinking this is probably my greatest bike racing effort to date.
Of course no DH race is complete without an after party and this one was better than ever. Cake for James Pearl, Norm plays Chris Berman and interviews me for sports center...great times!!! 

And the home brew bike and wheels....If ever I put a caining on a bike, yesterday was that day. I beat the holy hell out of that thing for 27miles and it got me home. Love this thing!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Singlespeed-A-Palooza - The Day After the Hangover

Now that all the beer cans are cleaned up, hot dog breath is brushed out, dust is our of our pores and blue tape is wrapped up in the garbage bin, we can discuss what an awesome weekend the boys at Dark Horse Cycles put on. If you are reading this you already know how big of an event this is. People travel from all over the east coast to throw down on some of the best singletrack NY has to offer. If you haven't ridden Stewart, you need to get out here. If you haven't raced a Dark Horse event, you really are missing out!

The last two years offered wet conditions and some sloppy riding. This year brought dust from the fire roads. The dry conditions brought smiles to faces and pain to legs. I personally have never gone this fast on my mountain bike before in a race.

The race is ultra competitive with such deep fields. Sure you remember the race and remember the super fast singletrack, but what is more memorable is crossing the finish line and hanging with 250+ like minded people you just shared 27 miles of racing with.

Robin had a mechanical and was the first one to the keg!
The Maddawg himself and Sport NJ Winner Mitch
The Scene
Jeremy, Jay and The Birthday boy
Open Menu Podium with Fred, Utah and Ilya 4th-6th
Bunch of MTBNJ regulars; Martin, Mitch, Dustin, Chris and Jay in Sport NJ
Look at that smile!
Fred and Jake really know how to enjoy each others company.
A Cake presented to Pearl for his birthday from George, Mayor of Dark Horse himself.
Ilya and the rest of the people who stayed around for the festivities got to enjoy some cake.

Team Results

Open Men
4th - Utah Joe
5th - Ilya
6th - Fred
14th - Norm
25th - Jeremy
27th - Iggy
38th - Chris26er
41st - ChrisG
43rd - RobG
44th - Woody
45th - Pearl

Sport South Men
10th - Capers
12th - Matty
14th - Jake
30th - Brad
Some reason Shaggz is not on this list. Will update.

Sport Women
5th - Dana
7th - Patty
DNF - Robin (Bending chainrings!)

Here are all the results, just incase. Throughout the week we will let you know how the races went, stay tuned.