Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Measuring Stick


There are many ways to measure performance.  Some are direct and quantifiable like your weight on a scale or functional threshold power, while others are more subjective like how you feel on a ride or whether or not you can get on top of the right gear.  We all use some combination of these measures to assess our condition. 

One of my key numbers is my time climbing the Bolton Valley access road.  The 4+ mile climb averages over 10% grade and has extended sections that get as steep as 17%.  In my opinion it is the toughest paved climb in the state of Vermont. 

I have a long and complicated relationship with Bolton.  As a collegiate racer I did several XC events there, and my results were never inspiring.  The courses were littered with climbs and freshly cut, root-infested, tough, slippery singletrack. 

My first attempt to ride up the access road was a tough one, and I ended up taking a very long time to get all the way to the top, grinding and standing on my 39 x 25 low gear.  Two years later I would try it again and would have a much easier time getting to the top, though I did it more for the feeling of accomplishment than for a time as I didn’t take note of how long it took.

All of that changed in 2009 when Spinney called me to go for a ride "to Bolton".  When I talk about a ride to Bolton it's usually just to the Bolton Town Hall on Route 2 and back- an easy 45 minute spin.  "Sure," I told Spinney.  "I'll go."

When we met up for the ride I realized he meant climbing to the top of the access road, not just riding to the town and tackling the roughly 200 feet of vertical gain over 14 miles.  No, we were going all the way to the top, all 4 miles and all 1700 vertical feet. 

I plodded, tacked, and pried the pedals for almost an hour getting to the top, but I got there without stopping.  It was a turning point- I knew I could do it, and I knew if I had lower gearing I could go faster.

Over the course of that summer I made several more attempts on the climb and set a new personal record almost 15 minutes faster than the ascent earlier in the spring.  Over the course of 2010 I continued to make regular efforts and set a new PR in August that was 90 seconds faster than my previous best.

Yesterday I tried again.   I had already climbed it once several weeks ago when the snow was still melting off and with a 12 x 25 cassette.  It went reasonably well as I established my second-best ever time, a remarkably good sign for April.

On Wednesday I'd done a short, hard ride where I rode home into the wind to avoid and oncoming thunder storm.  I was only out for 90 minutes, but the intense wind and desire to stay as dry as possible made it a modest effort.  With some sense of fatigue I swapped out my cassette for the hill smashing 11 x 26 and headed out.

I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t think I was going to explode  either.  It was hot- over 80 degrees at the start, and much warmer than I was accustomed to.  At a deliberate pace I made my way up the climb and stayed seated as much as possible, standing only when necessary. 

The result of my effort was a new second-best time, although I prefer to view it as my new early season record.  Next month I'll try it again, and I won't burn so many matches the day before. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Here- Moots Mooto X RSL Mountain Bike

The new Pro-35 race machine arrived today in the form of the all new Moots Mooto-X RSL 29er hardtail.   We had some trouble tracking down the exact crank/bb setup I was looking for in the BB30 configuration, but the rest of the parts are here so I should be able to start building it shortly.

Here's a quick rundown on the build spec:

Sram XO shifters, derailleurs & brakes
Rock Shox Reba SLT 29er fork
Truvativ XX BB30 156 Q crank
Steel press fit 30 bottom bracket
Chris King ISO disc hubs
DT Competition double butted spokes
Stan's Crest 29er rims
Kenda Karma 29 x 1.9 tires (for now) 
Ergon GX1 grips
Moots RSL 30.9 Ti Seatpost

And of course I have some tricks up my sleeve.

Frame weight out of the box is 3.54 lbs for a 19" frame.

I'll post more pics as I get it built up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Less Than Optimal

Things just have a way of unraveling. 

This past week weather, work and family all conspired against me.  In a near-perfect alignment of factors I had a very tough time getting out on the bike with any regularity and for any duration.  I don't say that to complain or to solicit sympathy, but I think it's a pretty common experience for anyone committed to being a competitive cyclist.

The short version is that I've been traveling a lot over the last ten days between a weekend trip to NYC, a business trip to Chicago and Milwaukee from Monday to Friday, and then a family Easter weekend Saturday afternoon and Sunday.  During that window my opportunities to ride were extremely limited as I was traveling or talking/mingling/boozing on top of my normal work week schedule. 

At every turn I made an effort to stay relaxed and flexible  to manage each obstacle as it appeared, knowing that I'd be able to get back to riding soon enough.  I ended up giving myself some slack with the idea that I still have over a month to prepare for my first race, and that any losses in fitness would be minor and relatively brief.

With all of that rattling around in my mind I set off on a lengthy outdoor ride at 5:00 PM yesterday.  After a sleepless night in an 80 degree guest room, Easter dinner and some heaping handfuls of jelly beans  I finally got my act together so that I could stick to the plan of getting a head start on riding home; Carrie had planned to leave later and follow me on my route so she could pick me up on her way through.  

Normally operations like  that require a degree of precision.  Timing who needs to be where and when on which route is critical information when you're trying to arrange a rendezvous at some midpoint between either end of the journey.  Those calculations are best made with a map, slide rule and a quick review of 10th grade mathematics, and not on a Sunday afternoon after a couple gin & tonics.

With all of that in mind I got dressed for my ride, and quickly realized that I had forgotten my arm warmers and had neither bottles nor drink mix to fill them.  This was going to require some creative apparel combination and a trip to local convenience store.  20 minutes and $5 later I was wearing a long sleeve winter jersey and had procured my fuel for the ride: a 20 oz Coke, a pop tart and two 20 oz bottles of Gatorade.  As I stuffed the Gatorade bottles into my bottle cages I patted myself on the back for having the presence of mind to choose cages that could also carry non-standard bottles in emergency cases like  this.  Of course I'd put myself in this situation by forgetting bottles and GU Brew in the first place, so it wasn't really a win.

As I pedaled along the miles started to slip by and I found a groove partly out of necessity and partly because I was glad to have put the week's events behind me.  Daylight was fading and I knew I had to work to get my ride in and I was intent on making the most of it.

About 75 minutes into the ride I contemplated how well I was going to handle the effort when my recent activities caught up with me.  Fortunately I had a backup plan, namely that Carrie was coming along behind  so if I completely derailed I could always pull over and wait for the sag wagon. 

That moment never came, and somehow I felt great.  I wouldn't recommend the Coke and pop tart regimen but it worked fine for me yesterday, and it taught me a valuable lesson: be flexible, play the hand you're dealt and make the best of it. 

It's easy to have a good day when you can sleep in your own bed, eat your normal breakfast and ride a route you know well, but how often does it go like that on race day?  There's always something that breaks, something you forgot or some other unforeseen gotcha.  The key is to not let it ruin your day.  Being prepared is as much mental as it is physical.

The carrot for me is that I know the trails will be dry soon and I'll be able to ride in the woods.  My new RSL race bike is in transit and scheduled to arrive this week, so I have things to look forward to. 

Those are two bright spots to keep things in perspective. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Road Toolkit

I hate saddle bags.  It's not that I think that they don't have a purpose, but I just think that they detract from the simple aesthetics of race bikes.  Earlier I mentioned my byekyle simple strap solution for the mountain bike, so here is my saddle bag- free solution for the road.  

Like most competitive mountain bikers I spend a fair bit of time on the road, and this time of year that's the only option.  My long training loops bring me through some remote areas where I'm a long way from the sag wagon and I need to plan accordingly.  

A few summers ago I had a stretch where I was going through 2 inner tubes a week.  I attribute that to a bad batch of tubes, but in one particular instance I flatted once, fixed it, then flatted again ten minutes later.  Since then I've been better prepared.   

The contents of the bag are pretty simple: two tubes, a vulcanizing patch kit, a pump and a multi tool.  CO2 is great for fixing one flat, but after getting multiple flats in a single ride I've decided to carry a pump to make sure I can always get rolling again.  There are about ten patches in the kit, and by the time I've used about four of them I've probably already thrown the bike in the woods and started walking anyway.

The Crank Brothers multi tools are the best I've used and I carry one with me whenever I ride.  Chains fail on road bikes and it's important have a chain tool in addition to the standard assortment of hex wrenches, spoke keys and screwdrivers.  Often I'll tuck a couple dollar bills into the rubber ring on the tool.  Spare change goes inside the patch kit box.

All of this fits neatly into a Thomson stem bag which I've labeled as "Road" to distinguish it from my CX and MTB kits with different tube sizes.  Altogether this is a good solution that has me prepared without an unsightly saddle bag.   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Warehouse- Shirts and Stickers In Stock

 The shirts have arrived, and Cris did an awesome job on them.  I have Men's sizes S-XL available, so if you'd like one track me down or drop me a comment and I'll get in touch.  As much as I'd like to give them away I do need to offset the cost of getting them setup, so $15 covers a shirt and shipping. 

Here's a close up of the artwork on the chest.

This is the artwork on the sleeve.  

I also have a ton of stickers in both the older style on the left and the newer style on the right.  The newer ones are based on the sleeve art from the t-shirt.  If you'd like either one please let me know and I'll drop some in the mail for you.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I blame cycling.

Before I started racing I never touched caffeine and now I can't live without it.  At first it was innocent enough.  Tea was my gateway drug, and I added it to my water bottles for a late race kick.  It tasted awful, especially when the teabags ruptured and I'd get a mouthful of energy drink and need to chew my way through the leaves, but it worked.
Later that fall I contracted mono and attempted to get through finals by propping myself up with increasing amounts of caffeine.  In many ways that was the beginning of the end. 

The nature of endurance sports can lead to a dependence on caffeine.  Long workouts lead to fatigue, and for most of us life doesn't stop when we get off the bike- we have to power through when all we want to do is take a nap.

The latest additions to the Pro-35 stable actually live in the kitchen in the form of my new burr grinder and stainless French Press.

So yes, I'm now essentially freebasing coffee, and I blame cycling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review- Rudy Project Zyon

Sport eyewear is a critical part of any cyclist's equipment, and this season I've decided that the Rudy Project Zyon is going to be my primary option.  I won't get into the need to protect your eyes because it's common to see even helmetless riders wearing sunglasses, and I always have a couple pairs in my gear bag.  Part of that is to have lenses to suit varying lighting conditions, and part of that is to change styles depending on my mood.  There I said it.

If we're being honest with ourselves, we can admit that sport eyewear often has as much to do with fashion as it does with function.  Looking through decades past we can get a sense of how sensible sport eyewear has evolved from street sunglasses to become more sport-specific by incorporating more sculpted frames and lens colors beyond smoke black.

The Zyon Sport is a full frame model with Rudy's trademark adjustable temples and nosepiece.  It shares the same temples and fit as the Genetyk (reviewed here) and the Noyz.  On the temples you can see small ports where additional peripheral eye shields can be added.  I promptly removed and then promptly lost those shields because I prefer maximum peripheral vision and ventilation, but to each his own.  Those same mounting ports are on all three models, but the shields only integrate with the Zyon lenses. 

The basic frame design of the Noyz incorporates a full frame that surrounds the lenses on all sides, so although the fit is similar to the single lens Genetyk the lenses are decidedly different.  The full frame protects the lenses from damage and makes the glasses a little sturdier without a weight penalty.  I've never considered a full frame, single lens style like the Genetyk or Freeon to be flimsy, but I worry less about the Genetyks when I need to take them off and stuff them into a pocket. 

Under normal conditions I keep glasses on as much as possible until it's too dark for the lenses or they become too coated in mud or sweat to be usable.  On the road I'll tuck them into the front helmet vents, but on the mountain bike I have a hard time securing them to my helmet and often need to put them in a jersey pocket for safe keeping. 

One of the best things about the Zyons is the adjustability.  Being able to set the nosepiece and temples to fit your face and stay clear of helmet retention systems is something I've often taken for granted, but it eliminates a lot of the guesswork in expensive trial-and-error compatibility testing.  I wore the Zyons with a knit cap while skiing, with a wool cap under a helmet, with a cotton cycling cap under a helmet and with just a helmet all without incident.  When adjusted properly they stay clear just fine even when moving along even at the slowest speeds.

The downside of the full frame is that the peripheral vision is slightly hindered compared to a single lens, shield-style model.  That means I need to turn my head further when I glance over my shoulder to check for cars.  Whether that's important or not is a personal decision, but there are plenty of pros wearing both full frame and shield style glasses so there's more than one right answer. 

In previous reviews I've explained the benefits of the dark laser blue and the racing red lenses, so I won't rehash them here.  They both have their benefits, and fortunately the Sport model comes with both so you don't have to choose (but if I did need to pick one I'd go for the Racing Red as it's a slightly lighter tint and more versatile). 

Overall I've been very happy with the Zyons.  They fit well and play nicely with my L/XL Sterling helmet.  I haven't changed the lenses very  often, but it was easy enough to switch them out by simply pressing on the inside of the lens and pushing forward.  These are a great option for both on and off road riding and worth considering if you're looking for a new set of eyewear.  They also look slightly less NASA-issue if you're not quite ready to step up to a shield-style model.

For more information visit www.rudyprojectusa.com.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spooky On the Brain

Recently I've been obsessing over Spooky bikes.  I don't own one and they don't sponsor me, but I've seen enough of them to have an appreciation for their no-frills race-oriented offerings.  They're made in the US, offer a solid price/performance ratio and have a very unique and almost geeky company feel.  The decals are also variable in both their placement and design, which contributes to simple anodized aluminum bikes looking very different from each other.   

In no particular order here are some Spooky bikes that I've been drooling over (all pics jacked from Spooky's Flickr pages or their site).

Here's a Skeletor owned by one of the Clif bar team riders.  Understated and with the tried-and-true red/white/black color scheme.  Sram Red really looks sharp and although normally I don't like the mismatched hood/tape combo I think it looks really good on this bike.

Another Skeletor, blacked out with Campy 10 speed and a Time carbon stem.  Very cool.  I really like the purple tape, and I'm not normally a purple fan when it comes to bikes.

Sticking with the black theme, here's a Supertouch CX rig.  The semi-goofy pastel decals look sharp with the black frame, black cockpit and the white hoods/tape/saddle.  Rev WW carbon hoops accentuate the fact that this probably owned by somebody who races a lot and still pays for his own stuff.  I'd be psyched to race something like this in the handful of CX events I'm likely to enter this fall.

I'm not sure whether or not one of these is in my future, but I can certainly appreciate them regardless.

Pro-35 Stickers

It all started when I was cleaning the basement.  Somehow I stumbled upon some old rims, got inspired and then  ordered some t-shirts.  I liked the design so much that I wanted to get some stickers made up with that logo.

Here’s what they look like.

Of course, I already have a mountain of stickers from my earlier run last fall.  How many stickers make up a mountain?    Roughly 481.  

These are really good quality stickers, and I can say that because two of them went through the laundry in the back pocket of a jersey and although they came out slightly crinkled they still had crisp corners and the adhesive still worked.  

If you'd like any of the old or new design just email or leave a comment and I'll drop some in the mail for you.  

I've got plenty to go around.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review- Kenda Nevegal 26 x 1.95

I'm a self-professed tire geek, and having access to Kenda's full product range has been a dream come true. Kenda makes many models and in a variety of sizes and although you can get the popular Karma, Nevegal and Small Block 8 models from most distributors it can be hard to find the exact width and casing configuration you're looking for.

The Kenda Nevegal comes in many size offerings, and the 26 x 1.95 is my favorite. The web is littered with Nevegal reviews, but everything I could find was for the wider 26" models or the 29 x 2.2". So, here are my thoughts on the 1.95 version.

First of all, these are awesome tires, and the 26 x 1.95 is the narrowest and correspondingly lightest option. I consider them the "Diet Nevegals" as they offer most of the ride with 35% less weight...or something like that.

I first rode the 2.1 version and liked their predictable handling and deceptively smooth roll for such a wide and knobby tire. Still, at over 600 grams they were a little too heavy for regular XC use and I could feel that on faster pedaling sections I was working a little harder than I needed to. The 2.1 is worth a look when things get slimy in really thin, slick mud and maintaining your line and keeping momentum is more important that fast rolling.

With that positive experience I figured a slightly narrower and lighter version would make a great option; it has been nothing short of amazing. I rode most of my early season on a set of these and only on a couple of occasions in very dry or very wet conditions did I wish I made a different choice. While I won't say that this tire is excellent at everything it is very predictable in all conditions.

This tire is best suited to intermediate terrain- if it's super dry hardpack then the Small Block 8 is a better option, and if it's very slick or muddy then a Karma or Blue Groove would be preferrable, but in pretty much everything else the Nevegal is the king. For sandy and loamy trails with rocks and slick roots it doesn't get any better than this tire.

The ramped and semi-soft Stick-E rubber treadblocks are good at balancing rolling with traction and make what would otherwise be a blocky tire roll well.  The profile of this tire is pretty square, meaning that the contact patch is pretty wide and more of the outer lugs are in contact with the ground when rolling straight.  Because more of these lugs are on the ground it really helps that they're ramped. 

This wide lugged contact patch is part of what defines these tires and where most of their stability comes from.  When the conditions change quickly there's a reassuring amount of rubber on the ground that produces inspiring amounts of traction. 

The downside of that stability is of course slower rolling.  On twisty courses I've been able to stay with riders on smoother tires because I can carry more speed through the corners, but if the terrain involves long climbs or extended grass sections you'll end up working harder than necessary with the Nevegal. 

As I mentioned above these are great tires and a very good addition to any racer or rider's tire quiver.  They're my do-it-all tire and what I run when I'm heading out to ride unfamiliar terrain or in variable conditions.  The stability and predictability make them capable in literally every condition, but best suited to those in the middle.  Hardcore racers will want to run something smoother on true hardpack or in deep mud, but for technical terrain or unknown course conditions this tire is unbeatable. 

For more information visit www.kendausa.com. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ski Season Retrospective

Now that it's April my ski season is officially done, and with that in mind I thought now would be an appropriate time to post my end-of-season retrospective. 

It's no secret that cycling is my main focus.  In some ways it's an accident of circumstance that I got into nordic skiing, but I've grown to really enjoy it.  Previous posts have given you some insight into my usual ski workouts, so I won't retread the day-to-day details. 

In no particular order here are the things that were noteworthy about the season, either because they were of some minor significance or because they offer some interesting anecdote.

I skied with the top skate group in my weekly master's training.  Last year I started in the beginner category and moved up through the categories until I found myself skiing in the top category this winter.  Somehow I didn't consciously get into that group, but the guys I normally ski with were doing it and I knew I could keep up.  It was a great experience, and I think I really improved a lot because of it.

Classic skiing is still an anathema to me.  I made a concerted effort on several occasions to pick it up, and I did make some progress, but it's still not natural and I don't consider myself very good on classic skis.   I've gotten better, but I still have a lot of work to do. 

My worst skiing related injury this year was smacking my left knee cap on the top of my ski while attempting to learn classic.  It wasn't terrible, but it did slow me down and make me hobble for a couple weeks.  During that time I seriously contemplated ditching classic altogether and working on biathlon on classic weeks next winter.  At this point I could go either way on that. 

Every year for the past few years I've skied up to the Slayton Pasture Cabin at Trapp's at least once.  That streak ended this year primarily because I always found myself more interested in skiing for distance on rolling terrain rather than shelling myself on the long slog to the cabin.  I'm a little bummed about that, but in my mind the cabin route is more of a tourist's rite of passage than a true milestone.

I broke my first ski.  It was kind of cool to feel like I was pushing it enough to cause an equipment failure like that, but it's not covered under warranty and made my last day out a very expensive.  Fortunately it was my condition-specific Madshus X3's and not my Atomic World Cup all-rounders, but it still sucked.  Those things were hardly used and ran really well in soft snow.  It looks like I'll be replacing them with another set of Atomics instead.

For the third year in a row I didn't get my shit together to ride to the mountain and then go skiing.  Yes, the Hampsten has indeed proven to be elusive, partly because the conditions need to be just right but also because it's a logistical headache and nobody cares other than me.  There were a few days when I seriously considered it, but instead I opted to keep skiing for an extra hour rather than screwing around with windproof bib tights, two layers of shoe covers, icy roads and frozen water bottles.  

I didn't enter any ski-related events, including a winter triathlon or the Stowe Derby.  This one I feel semi-bad about.  Last season I did a winter tri and the running section almost killed me.  It wasn't that the 5k was more than I could handle, but I legitimately hadn't been running in the six months leading up to the event and I dug myself a deep hole in the 30 minutes it took me to complete the run course.  Out of 50 or so racers, I finished the run in about 48th position.  This year I had been working on running more often and made some real progress, but the winter tris are expensive to enter and the amount of gear required for them is ridiculous.  For the six hours of driving and the $100 entry/temp license fees I decided to stay home and get some real skiing in on real terrain instead of circling around a flat, Boston-area golf course for 75 minutes. 

Next season I'm seriously considering doing some longer ski events like the Lake Placid Loppet, the Keskinada Ski Marathon in Gatineau, PQ, or even the 10k Valley Cup at Ole's.  Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won’t, but I think November is going to be my down time since I won't be racing 'cross.  That way I can start preparing for ski season in early December and be ready for some racing in late January or February.

Like most things, my goals could change at a moment's notice, but I expect to do more mountain bike racing this summer, take it easy this fall, and then get an earlier start on skiing.  I won't have a trip to France next year so maybe I'll plan on doing the Craftsbury Spring Fling or some other late season race to keep me motivated.  Remarkably I can go uphill reasonably well on skis, primarily because I can actually use my upper body instead of just dragging it along. 

Maybe I'll even do another winter tri, but probably not.  I do see myself becoming more of a winter/summer guy and taking my time completely off in the fall.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Message

 Last fall, I decided that I was going to make the effort to get my elite racing license.  On paper, I race in one category below the elite riders.  Although it seems like a small step, in reality it's a huge difference.

After I made the decision, I  told a handful of friends and family members about it.  Everyone was supportive and enthusiastic, but I think few people really knew how hard it would be.  I'm not even sure that I knew myself. 

One of my friends who did know was John.  In college he put a massive amount of energy into his racing career, first on the mountain bike, and later on the road.  Through his own mix of analysis, determination and work ethic he worked his way up through the ranks and won some big regional events. 

A few years and several new responsibilities later John is still riding, but not actively competing beyond an occasional cyclosportif.  When I visited him earlier this year there were some very obvious ironies, primarily that  John had the fitness while I had the goals.  When we rode together, John was always stronger, especially on the uphills. 

It wasn't that I was terribly out of shape, as I'd spent the winter skiing.  All things considered I felt pretty strong, but in early March I clearly didn't have much mileage under my belt, and certainly not outdoor mileage. 

During my two-week trip we did a ton of riding, roughly 300 miles with over twenty thousand feet of vertical gain.  I've posted many pictures from those rides and I'll remember them for years, but what the pictures don't show is what really happened during that trip. 

Whether knowingly or not, John pulled me along for most of those rides.  I never bailed or gave up, but I certainly didn't set the world on fire.  He'd ride ahead, and I'd push myself to keep up.  The power files reveal that the pace wasn't entirely above what I was capable of, but it was a stretch, and that was the point.  If I wanted to get faster I had to push it and ride at a pace above what I thought I could handle. 

I didn't put it all together until I'd gotten home and had a few days of rest before getting out for a ride on familiar roads.  More than anything else I felt fast, and I felt purposeful. 

The feeling of being "in form" is hard to articulate to non-cyclists, but it's basically  the difference between having everything go right compared to feeling like you can't get out of your own way.  You don't feel invincible, and you don't even necessarily ride that much faster than normal, but inside your head there's the incredible feeling that things have fallen into place and you're being rewarded for all of your hard work. 

This past Thursday I did one of my normal mid-week training loops.  My original intent was to do the loop at a reasonable pace and make it home before dark.  As the miles slipped by I realized that at I was flying along while staying within my predetermined pace and within striking distance of my PR for the loop. 

By my calculations I took over a minute off of the mark I'd made six years ago when I was arguably in the best shape of my life.  I've had other good days on the bike and have set other benchmarks, but when I think back on that ride it always seems like it was a fluke.  One hour and twenty-seven minutes were possible for a mostly flat 28-mile loop, and it meant an average speed over 19 miles an hour, solo, on a standard road bike with no aero equipment.  That's not Herculean, nor barely average for any self-respecting middle category road racer.  For me it's a big deal, and a step in the right direction as I slowly prepare to compete this spring. 

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, John's message was clear--you can do this, but you need to work and you need to push yourself.  All at once it was encouraging and supportive, but delivered with an honesty that I'd shielded myself from when I looked in the mirror.  More than anything else, it was what I needed, and it's not something I will soon forget. 

Friday, April 1, 2011


I'm noticing a pattern in my life.  Maybe I'm trying to build the bridge between  the delayed gratification of competitive cycling and having small things to look forward to.  Maybe I'm just impatient and need to come to terms with it.

The winner of the Topeak-Ergon Base Camp Video Contest gets announced today.  If you haven't seen my entry yet you can watch it here.  

Like any contest, the judging criteria are deliberately vague and the winner is determined by the contest organizers.  I'm OK with that, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around subjective competitions.  In almost everything I do, success is very clear: you finish ahead of certain people or within a certain time, or you build something that works and stays together.  That's probably why I have a hard time watching Olympic gymnastics or ice skating because the competitions are decided by judges, not a stopwatch.   

It's not that I don't appreciate artistry or commitment to one's craft, but determining success based on personal feelings isn't something I'm inherently comfortable with.  That is also probably tied to some personal insecurity or need for acceptance, but I don't want to lean to heavily on my one semester of college psychology classes (especially since they started at 8 AM).

The Pro-35 t-shirt order has been placed and will be ready next week.  I've been collaborating with Cris at Factotum, and I'm really excited about it.  As I've said before, Cris does great work and has real skill when it comes to screen printing.  I posted the proofs earlier this week and I can't wait to see the finished product. 

I've also posted about my 2011 race weapon, the new Moots Mooto X RSL hardtail.  Like any new product, the launch date has slipped back a few times and hopefully it will be sometime this month that it arrives.  In all honesty that shouldn't be a problem since the trails here are still several weeks away from being rideable and I have a perfectly good YBB.  It has less to do with need and more to do with the fact that I've been dwelling on this bike since I first saw pictures of it from Interbike last fall.

Last but not least, it's snowing again.  Not heavily, and it's not really sticking, but it's still snowing and that's definitely within the normal definition of seasonal weather for early April.  It is also part of the normal order of things that snow is still on the ground given how much it snowed this winter, but it means I’ll probably drive somewhere to go mountain biking in the next week or two before I have a mini-meltdown.

All of these things are temporary obstacles, and deep down I know that.  So far my coping mechanism has been to get a cup of coffee and relax, but that also will soon backfire unless I switch to decaf.  It's all coming together, I just need to be patient and enjoy the moment, even if that means riding inside for another few days or doubling up on shoe covers when I ride outside.