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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Assorted Bikes and Friday Ramblings

It's been a rough week.  

Sunday was the Eastern Cup 6 Hour race at Catamount.  I can't find any good pictures or much time for a formal write-up, but I'll have that together shortly while it's still semi-relevant.

The short version is that I had an awesome race.  Bounced around in traffic a bit on lap 1, but settled in and rode steady for 8 laps and a 13th overall finish in a very strong field.  I beat some guys I've been gunning for all season and closed the gap on a few others.

Monday night we had an intense rain storm, which triggered a string of all too familiar feelings and reactions, all of which were bad and very much blown out of proportion.  As a result I ran around filling holes and just generally panicking, which is bad pretty much always.  

I had planned to try to race two weekends back-to-back, which is a tall order but possible with optimal rest and recovery in between.  I've had neither and am still formulating my weekend plan.

This week has also been tough at work, and I'll spare you the details.  I've spent a lot of time on the phone, and that means my mind is inclined to wander to thoughts of bikes and riding.  Here are a few images that I've stumbled upon this week. 


Late 80's LeMond.  Not sure of the material- looks to be aluminum lugs, but it's definitely not organic enough to be a Calfee.  My guess is that it's a LeMond/TVT from around '88-'89.  Totally dig the paint.

At the other end of the drop bar spectrum is this 2013 BH disk equipped carbon cross bike.  Wow.  I thought disks for 'cross were hokey...until this.  Same goes for the tubeless wheels.  Very svelte and shapely package.  This was posted on the BH FB page.

Also from the BH FB page is French Olympian Julie Bresset's hardtail race bike.  I can only imagine that this decked out carbon sled weighs comfortably under 20 lbs.  Carbon wheels and the ISP give it a very purposeful, race-only vibe.  Also a 1 x 10 XTR drivetrain with a KMC X10 SL Ti chain.  This looks fast sitting still. 

 I've posted pictures of this particular Fat City Shock-a-Billy before, but I think it bears re-posting.  I really like lilac paint with the fork and stem to match.  The mismatched headset and different color shift/brake housing really don't bother me either.  Maybe this is because boutique full suspension bikes are on mind since my MX Divide is scheduled to arrive any day now. 


 Enough said.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Keeping it Local: Eastern Cup This Weekend

In a series of posts I've rambled about having great form and poor results simultaneously, so I've decided to change my tact.

Last season I felt like I wasn't able to capitalize on being in great shape and was painfully close to making a breakthrough at the races.  This year I feel like I've improved on that fitness and am riding smoother yet I haven't been able to tap into that fitness on race day.

Wednesday Worlds races have been great this year, and I haven't done any endurance races since Whiteface.  I hadn't planned on doing the Eastern Cup 6 Hour race at Catamount this weekend, but since I know I can race well there and it's a good distance for me I'm going to go for it.  

Part of my problem may be going too hard midweek and being tired on the weekend, so with the idea of competing this weekend I decided to pull out after 2 of 4 laps at Catamount this week.  I was riding with a good group- pretty much the same handful of riders I'd been mixing with for the last few weeks.  

After I pulled out I rode back to the start, and as the leaders rolled by I pulled off the trail to watch and started my stopwatch.  As leaders rolled by I saw how small the gaps were and was motivated to see that I'm improving, and although there's some hard work to do to keep that momentum I'm getting closer.

And this weekend I'm going to keep it local.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Frustration, Anger, Acceptance

"The more things change the more they stay the same".   That adage with its blended elements of zen and pessimism is a pretty accurate summary of my attempts at racing standard cross country events this season.

I'm in good shape.  A couple weeks ago I set a new PR on the Bolton hill climb, and at last week's Wednesday Worlds I had a 1 minute gap on my nemesis on lap 2, rode off the course, he passed me and I was able to claw back a 30 second advantage by the top of the climb.  So the fitness markers are there.

My skills are improving.  While I'm not setting the world on fire I am much smoother than I was a year ago.  

My cool kid inhaler seems to be working.  I can start hard without wheezing, and generally feel like oxygen intake isn't a problem beyond the usual at my limit and can't go any harder sort of thing.

I've even switched to half and half in my coffee instead of light cream.

With all of these indicators going the the right direction I've decided to try my hand at a few standard distance XC races this summer.  

And at the risk of sounding melodramatic it's been all for naught when I toe the line for standard cross country races.  It's like I somehow have reverted to the fatter, slower and less smooth version of myself from years past at those races. 

For both XC events this year it's been hot- over 85 degrees with high humidity and an even higher pollen count, and I've also dug really deep midweek before both races so I may not have been in optimal racing condition.  

It just confounds me.  I'd like to be able to do some races that are a little shorter and cheaper than marathons, but really it's been an enormous sense of frustration to be able to race for 1 hour or 4 hours but not 2.

So I'll be sticking to marathons for the rest of the season, which was the plan all along. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reading the Trail: A Session with Knight Ide

I've never been a great descender.  Average for an XC guy, but never great.  In rough sections I can stay upright, but I tend to lose time on the front the field and don't carry as much momentum as I should.

With all of that in mind I sought out some trail skill lessons with Knight Ide of Ide Ride in East Burke.  Knight is one of the cornerstones of riding in the Kingdom, and the lesson options offered through his Ide Ride are targetted at getting people to the next level.

For me that next level is improving in XC and marathon XC races.  Slight advantages in skill can add up to huge amounts of time and energy saved; even in races 100 miles long seconds count.  The difficult part is translating that goal into something that can be taught in the confines of a lesson.

My main goal with my session was to improve on corners.  We talked about my mental approach and what I needed to think on the trail.  Knight's first comment was "you're not reading the trail."  Right.  The good lines were obscured by obstacles and I was staying upright, but not smooth and certainly not fast.

We talked about how to read the trail and how to approach corners.  After absorbing as much insight as I could we made our way up to the top of Kitchell for the first of several trips down through the sweeping bermed section.  Bermed turns are exaggerated corners, so with less risk of sliding and an increased need to look ahead DOWN the trail Knight recommended we focus on that.  

First trip down Knight rolled through first and was clearly well faster than I was, which I expected.  I was also starting to put together how I needed to attack the berms in order to maintain some speed.  With the goal of starting further outside and looking down the trail I started to improve a little each run and was able to stay off the brakes. 

After the session I began to analyze how I'd been approaching corners and looked back through a couple of race pictures to see if I would have taken a different line now.

Here's a shot of a short downhill section right before the finish line at the Dark Horse 40 last year.  There's nothing heinous here, but my line is indicative of not looking far enough down the trail.  A better line would have been to start further outside, go around the rocks at the top and then also be setup outside for the (rider's right) turn just out of the frame.

Interesting.  So how did it work out on the trail?  Well in my first race on a flat, technical course I maintained speed and had my best Wednesday Worlds of the season.  You can read the details in this post, but the biggest win there was being able to ride smoothly and maintaining speed.

The formal product offering from IdeRide includes options from individual coaching through camps and clinics which I highly recommend if you're looking to take your riding to the next level.  For more info check out www.ideride.com.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stickers and an Update

Things have been up and down on the racecourse over the last few weeks, but the good news is that I think I'm figuring it out.

Today my new stickers arrived.

I promptly wasted most of lunch break sorting out how I'd best display them.  They're a little taller than last year's version so they don't lend themselves well to round frame tubes.  So with a little creativity and a pair of scissors I came up with this- bumper cutout on the right leg, url around the left below the SID decal. 

More news to come including some details on riding with Wayward and look for a great post called "How I Spent My Summer Vacation, or Why I Got An Inhaler."

Yeah, really psyched to be one of the cool kids now.