Archives for March 2013

All Bets are Off

I’ve secretly been collecting parts and pieces to convert my old 26″ Stumpjumper hardtail into a single speed fun ride. The ole Stumpy had rim brakes, and mid grade components. Seemed like a fun little side project to pick up parts to convert to disc brakes, tubeless tires and finally, into a single speed machine!

I’ve been accumulating used and new parts for several months and the final shipment came in last week to complete the conversion.

Friday night after the kids were down, I headed out to the garage to work on the task.

2 hours later and everything was done! I still have some fine tuning to be done, particularly to bleed the brakes and get those dialed in, but also with getting these Kenda Slant Six tires to hold tubeless.

At any rate, the conversion went well, but when I came in from the garage, all the house lights were off and wifey was in bed. Uh oh, that doesn’t bode well.

Sure enough, my ‘disappearance’ into the garage sparked off a heated discussion about how cycling has become such a big part of my life. And more specifically, my race and training aspirations and how the time requirements have been putting a strain on things on the home front.

More pointedly, any races that are more than a couple of hours away make for truly difficult days as my wife often has work obligations that precludes her from being able to help with the kids. Which leaves me with having to watch the kids, miss important races, and generally see my chances of even completing 8 races for the state series looking grim.

I won’t be able to make Solavaca this weekend. And I will also likely miss Pace Bend in 3 weeks. Big Cedar is pretty iffy. Warda I hadn’t even planned on racing due to the nature of the course. Not to mention that it is yet another problematic weekend due to kids/etc.

So guess what, that means there is a good chance I won’t make ANY more of the spring races. Looking to the Fall, I could make 1, MAYBE 2 of those races.

So yeah, I have 4 races completed, and only 3 of those are ‘quality’ finishes. It is not looking likely that I’ll even get 8 races through the whole year, let alone 8 quality finishes.

It is disappointing, not to mention aggravating that it is so difficult, neigh impossible, to get even that small amount of available time. And as long as I hold out hope that I can possibly make races, the greater the disappointment when I don’t get to make them.

It would be so much easier, and less stress, to give it up. To not worry about my racing goals for this year. Obviously that is a painful thought as I’ve already devoted so much to that goal this year.

I’m still not willing to give it up just yet, but I think with forced missing of Solavaca and Pace Bend that I’ll be ready to call it quits. It’ll be all but over at that point anyway…

MOAR INTERVALS!!

Boy, these twice a week interval sessions are getting old, and hard to stay motivated for. So I decided to change it up a bit this week just for a little break.

On Tuesday, I broke out the road bike and was planning to just do a steady state 90 minute ride or so. Unfortunately about 45 minutes into the ride, my rear tire decided to turn to shreds which brought the ride to a stop.

I called up a buddy who has been training for a triathlon in May. We’ve been trying to hook up for a ride for months but things just never seemed to work out. We finally had a chance to hit the pavement together.

Things started out well and I was hanging with him. I doubt he was really pushing hard but I was feeling good regardless =)

I had noticed that I was getting a slight bump bump bump from the rear tire, but paid it no heed. Ooops… Eventually the tire blew out. We had a spare tube, but no boot. We shredded the punctured tube to create a rubber boot and then limped 1/4 mile to a nearby bike shop where I had an F1 tire exchange.

Continental Ultra GatorSkin

Unfortunately, by the time this was all done, we needed to head back due to kid duties/etc. Ah well, at least now I have a new tire on the back wheel!

Wednesday was no ride planned, but I had finally scheduled a doctor appointment. I went in for a checkup and to talk about the issues I was having back in February. After some discussion the doctor didn’t really have an answer, but wasn’t worried that I was in any serious health trouble. We did an EKG just to be sure and I have been referred to a cardiologist for some additional testing, just to be sure.

Not my actual EKG

Not my actual EKG

I also got a prescription for an inhaler as I have lately been really suffering from Exercise Induced Asthma. In short, I had been suffering from heavy coughing for a period of time after hard efforts. It could last anywhere from a couple of hours to into the next day. It was a minor annoyance, but with the inhaler, it should go away completely.

Today I headed out to Pace Bend to do a fast pace timing loop, just to see where I stood on the race loop. I had a good ride, but not going to go into too much details here until after the race next month =) Let’s just say while I was very happy to see I had made immense gains from last year, it’s still not enough for me to finish where I want to in the race.

pace_bend2-lg

I was able to give the inhaler a test after my ride and I must say it was great to not have the coughing fits after the hard paced ride!

This weekend I’ll be out of town and unable to put in serious training time. I’m going to take the bike to get in some saddle time, but I’m not so sure it’ll be the quality bike time that I’m supposed to get this week.

For all the screwing off this week, next week I’m going to have to pick it back up again and hit it hard in an effort to make some gains before the Pace Bend race which is a short 3 weeks away.

Hermosa Tours – Durango to Moab Day 4

Back in Spring of 2012, my buddy Todd and I decided to plan a trip to mountain bike from Durango, [Read more…]

Madrone Trail

Madrone Trail Trailhead

Due to circumstances surrounding kiddos, dance conventions and babysitting, I found myself in the position of being in San Marcos, Texas with a couple of hours to get away from it all. After hunting around and asking for tips, I settled on heading out to the Madrone Trail at Canyon Lake Park.

The day was cloudy and cool. Temps were around 51F. I met up with a fellow Bike Mojo rider and we hit up the trail for a couple of laps.

The trail is reminiscent of Pace Bend Park, only with more gnar and less fast and flowy. While there is less than at Pace Bend, there is plenty of flow to the trail. And the numerous rock gardens gave ample opportunity to test line choice decisions and rock climbing abilities.

All in all, I found the trail to be fantastic. If the trail were closer, it would definitely be in my regular rotation of rides. I greatly enjoyed the ride and the company was good!

While this will be classified as a destination trail, it is one that I would make the trip for and definitely would not pass up if I happen to already be in the area.

There is no usage fee. The trail is covered pretty well so will be a good summer ride.

2013 Bent Wheel Bash – Buck Creek Trails – Abilene, Texas

March 17, 2013 – Bent Wheel Bash is held at Buck Creek Trails, just north of Abilene, Texas. <br [Read more…]

New Trinkets!

20130319_204053

Finally got my ENVE Sweep Carbon Fiber handlebar over the weekend. I already had my new Easton EA90 stem but I was waiting for the bar to get here before I did the swap.

I put the new bar and stem on Betty last night. She appreciates the new bling! The scales appreciate it too as I was able to get the bike under 26lbs with that upgrade. She now weights in at 25.8lbs! Not too shabby!

Options for further weight reduction will be carbon cranks and considering an upgraded fork. Neither of those are something I’ll be looking at doing anytime soon.

IMG_20130305_174553

I did get in a good training ride yesterday. I chose to do it on the road for a change. Hammered out 9 2 minute intervals, although I did have difficulty getting my HR up as high as I was wanting. It just wouldn’t increase no matter how hard I pushed!

Later in the day I took the grommets out for a little spin at the local park. Sure is interesting to herd 6 little girls and a 2yo boy around. 5 grommets on bikes, 1 on the pedal trailer behind and the 2yo in the bucket up front!

Next training ride calls for a 2.5hr endurance ride. Not sure how I’m going to squeeze that into my schedule, but I’ll see what I can do!

2013 Bent Wheel Bash – Race Report

Well, now that I have gotten my grumpy post out of the way, better put together an actual race report.

The Bent Wheel Bash takes place on the Buck Creek Trails in Abilene, Texas. Typically this is a Fall series race, but with the 2013 change to a year long series, the race moved to a spring time slot.

I raced this course back in the fall and this course became one of my favorite race venues. The trail was fantastically fun with some great technical sections, fun descents and some sweet flowy singletrack. I had looked forward to making this race all year-long.

Abilene is typically a lighter attended race, and leading up to the date nearly all the top 5 riders had reported they were not going to make this race. The fall course was also a favorable course for me, with the technical sections, no long sustained climbs and flowy, speedy descents. With that in mind, it meant I had a very real chance at a podium finish! And if I have a real good showing, then who knows what might happen!

To my disappointment, the race directors completely changed the course this year and removed nearly every last bit of technical trail features. I won’t go into that here, but you can read about my displeasure in the ‘Whiny Lil Bitch’ post.

So on to the race report!

vlcsnap-2013-03-18-15h11m57s219

I arrived at the venue by 10AM, which gave me more than ample time to prepare and be ready for our noon time start. I got everything ready, set up the bike and cruised around visiting with the various racers. I saw that a couple of the top 5 guys had shown up to race. Kudos to them, but that meant I was going to have to work harder for my placement =)

At staging, I counted 20 men in our group. A good number and I was pleased that there were more than back in October. I knew that was good news for the race promoters.

We rolled up to the line and anxiously await the send off.

That's me on the far left, green & white kit

That’s me on the far left, green & white kit

The countdown was called and we’re off!

I settle into 3rd place behind David C (#4 in series) and Steven C (#2 in series) on the start loop. I figure that will be a good place to be going into the singletrack. That didn’t last long however, as apparently our 18mph wasn’t fast enough for a couple of riders. I’m not sure of their names, but first one (John E I think) passed and went to the lead, hammering hard. Steve C grabbed his wheel but David C eased up. I imagine he knew he’d be fine once we hit the singletrack and didn’t want to risk blowing up.

The first turn off of the jeep road is a hard left and having ridden that section during warm up, I knew it was soft and a real problem for a possible wash out. I’m not sure if John knew this because he went into the turn very hot… too hot… and down he went. He took Steve C out with him as well and they tangled at the turn.

Riders down!

Riders down!

I basically had no choice but to go around and take the lead going into the singletrack. I had the hole shot and I didn’t even want it!

We went into the singletrack riding hard and heavy. I knew the first technical section was cut from the course so I wasn’t suspecting anything at first with hammering through the ribbon of dirt.

The corners were loose and sketchy so holding the turns and paying attention to handling was paramount. I kept pedaling hard.

I lead for probably close to 5 minutes and I was REALLY looking for some technical rock to help me out a little. I knew some technical would give me a little breathing room from the pack of 7 or so riders that were right on my wheel.

Damn near gapped the ladder (unintentionally)

Damn near gapped the ladder (unintentionally)

But the technical didn’t come. I finally had to give in and ease off as there was no way I could hold this fitness hammer pace for much longer. As I eased off, the 6 riders who were hot on my wheel got around and kept hammering.

David C powering by

David C powering by

David C was in the lead through the fun little ‘Bobsled’ segment of the trail and I was trying to stay in the mix. I kept looking up the trail wondering where were the rocks? Where is anything except this flat, hammerfest dirt?

Steve C, Jeff J, John E and Steven C were in the line ahead of me. It was beginning to sink in that they hadn’t just cut out the first technical section, they had cut it ALL out. Not only that, but the short punchy climbs were gone too. It was flat, flat, flat and nothing but hammer, hammer, hammer.

Losing steam

Losing steam

At one little line choice section, a couple of the locals (Todd S and Tracy J?) knew the shorter line to take and they got around me at that section. I was now somewhere in 8-9th place and looking at the reality that this race was just going to be an all out hammerfest for the duration of the race.

It was about here that I started violating one of my primary tenants when mountain biking and one that I belt out anytime I sense someone around me is starting to succumb to its soul sucking evil.

I started grumpy riding. On of my typical mantras is ‘NO GRUMPY RIDING’ and I was violating it hugely. I started cursing and sputtering and just generally not having a very good time.

It was near here that I came up on John E on the side of the trail again. It looked like he had likely washed out again and was adjusting something on his bike. I went around and continued on.

I rode alone for a while, passing the earlier age group stragglers.

After a bit I heard riders coming up on my wheel and I knew it was the next group in our age group. It sounded like it was 4-5 riders. I knew I better get my act together and start riding or I was going to finish a lot worse off than I originally was.

I contemplated letting them all come around as I wallowed in my grumpiness, but my better sensibilities won out and I started pushing again.

Mark A, David O, Michael C and I’m not sure who else, were all right on my wheel. I motored on, still being pissy, which is unfortunate as I’m sure the course is actually a lot of fun, it just wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

John E caught back up and motored by. It was about right here that Todd S was on the trail and going slowly. I think he may have had to end his ride due to a mechanical or something.

It is worth noting that I felt fine. I was basically giving it all I had, but I’ll be the first to admit that my 100% on all the time fitness just isn’t where it needs to be for that kind of effort. I really need those ups and downs, in and out of the saddle changes that allow you those ever so slight moments of recovery in your legs and chest.

Oh look!  A rock!!!

Oh look! A rock!!! A rare moment on the new course

This new route just didn’t have any of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I only got out of my saddle on this course less than a dozen times total. My rear stayed firmly planted in the saddle and pedals were turning nearly 100% of the time.

As we were closing in on the final quarter of the course, we finally hit a couple of small technical sections. They were brief but I capitalized on each little section and each time put some gap in between me and my pursuers. They would invariably close the gap again in the wide open sections, but I remained in the lead.

Mark A rode my wheel for a long time and I kept expecting him to make a pass, but he never went for it. With about a mile to go in the course he said something like ‘One mile left, let’s finish strong’.

I knew he was right on me and my chasers were still threatening so it was about this time that I started lighting up what few matches I had left. When I passed a straggler, I would gun it to try to put some distance between me and Mark before he could get around the straggler as well. I didn’t want to give him the chance to come around me at the last minute.

I came across one last straggler probably 1/2 mile from the finish. I called my pass and hit the gas, giving everything I had left. A glace over my shoulder a few seconds later confirmed that my chasers had gotten jammed up behind the straggler and I had some space to push on to the end.

Thumbs down on the new course (my opinion only!)

Thumbs down on the new course (my opinion only!)

I finished it out and got 7th in my group. I averaged over 12mph over the course which is hauling pretty good imho for a mountain bike course. There was less than 300ft of climbing through the route which put this course at about the same (or less) difficulty as the entry level trail in Austin, Slaughter Creek Trails.

UPDATE: There is also a write up in the Abilene Reporter News site.

Race Day Recap:
Weigh In: 160 lbs
Bike weight: 26.6 lbs
Nutrition: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 cup coffee, some fruit, 1 honey stinger 30 mins before race, took 1/2 bottle of water, but didn’t even touch it during the race
Weather: Clear and perfect, 60 degrees
Dress: Bibs, short sleeve jersey
RPE: Went hard off the gun, eased up through ‘meat’ of the course, burned hard through the finish. Still not quite feeling 100% in the cardio category.
CTL: 42.8
TSB: -13.8 (rising)

Whiny Lil Bitch – Or the castration of Buck Creek Trails

Where did Buck Creek Trails' balls go?

Where did Buck Creek Trails’ balls go?

A quick little post while the fires are still hot.

I’m a tech rider. I hugely look forward to the technical oriented courses because I know that will favor my riding style. That, and you know, it’s nice to have some ‘mountain bike’-esque riding in the races sometimes.

I thought one such race was the Bent Wheel Bash in Abilene, Texas.

Unfortunately, for 2013, I was very, very wrong.

I was looking forward to this ride all year. I knew the course had some good technical portions, good rock crawling, some good technical descents, and some good punchy climbs. Add in there was quite a bit of flow in the trail and you have a win-win scenario.

Sadly, it appears that too many people had to hike a bike in the rocks in Fall 2012. I can’t imagine why any mountain biker worth his salt would have to hike a bike much on that course, but whatever. So they made the great decision to dumb down and sanitize the trail.

Yeah, well, by dumb down and sanitize, what I mean is they completely cut out almost every single bit of actual technical riding there was at this trail. Instead we were treated to characterless, dirt trail riding. I think this one should have been called Beginner Wheel Bash because the trail was so ridiculously simple, that even pure beginner, once a month casual trail riders would have found this trail agreeable.

So what does this mean? Well, it means the fitness/roadies were able to turn this once greatly balanced course into an all out hammerfest. It’s no big surprise that I didn’t finish as well as I’d like because the fitness side isn’t my strongest point. I prefer to actually ride my mountain bike, not ride a road bike for 6 hours a week so I can go hammer a cheesy simpleton of a trail on the weekends and stomp riders who could rock climb them into the dirt.

I managed 12mph over the extent of this course. That is ridiculous. Hell, back in the fall I still managed 10mph with the technical sections.

Ridiculous.

Sadder still is that I am now ashamed. Ashamed that I talked this course and venue up to so many people, encouraging them to make the much longer distance drive because the course was so fun. Ashamed that I pointed people to the full loop video from the fall to tell allow them to prepare for the race only to have them ask me after the race, ‘Where was all that fun stuff?’.

I had to do a lot of finagling and sacrifices to make that race this year. But it was a great course and I knew it would be worth it. Boy, was I wrong. What a waste of time, and a waste of a weekend riding opportunity.

This course was so demoralizing that it really makes me question if I even want to waste my time with any other TMBRA (that does have MOUNTAIN BIKE in it somewhere doesn’t it?) races. It really drives it home that I could have put together a fun little trip to go with friends to an actual fun course to ride rather than put forth so much effort for the pile of steaming horse shit that was presented today.

I hate to denigrate those who put forth the effort and drive to make this race happen. I know they put a lot of work into it. But why such a drastic change? I’ll tell you why… money. They were too worried that the technicality of the trail was scaring away possible roadies that they dumbed it down to a Sunday ride in the park. Well, I sure hope those roadies loved the new course, because, I for one, will not be returning to Abilene to ride that race again. What a joke!

In closing, if you haven’t figured out who the ‘Whiny Lil Bitch’ in the title is yet, it’s me. I’ll totally own up to my whining and crying. Because what I rode today was pitiful and a waste of my time. I like to MOUNTAIN BIKE not spend so much time and effort to RIDE my mountain bike on dumpy little trails.

Further still, this is my home territory. I grew up in Sweetwater, just 40 miles west of Abilene. And I am further ashamed that people new to Abilene will now think that this course is what to expect from West Texas. Dumpy little, grandma cruising, flat, non-descript cheeseball trails, and not the hard, bust your balls, technical trail that could have been presented.

What a fucking waste…

The Waco Race – Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association 2013

Link to full SuperD run – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQDqIgPjg28

February 16, 2013 – The Waco Race was held [Read more…]

Video – Mellow Johnny’s Classic – 2013

March 2, 2013 – Mellow Johnny’s Classic is held at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch, a great trail and race venue [Read more…]