Friday, May 27, 2011

saw tooth

Ok, not exactly but I can say that its pretty damn close. This is the profile of the VT50 MTB race. ~9000 ft. of climbing in 50 miles of mixed dirt roads, ATV and snowmobile trails, logging roads, farmers' fields and nearly no pavement. This is "THE" race for me each year. I love this event.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The next chapter

The VT50 is a great event. It is also hard to get into. They limit the number of entries and it usually sells out in minutes. This will be the third year that I am doing it. The first year, '09, I got swept. You have to make it to aid stations within a certain amount of time or they pull you. I was about 9 hours in with 28 miles to go and got pulled that year. Last year I did it and finished. I had completed it is 9 hours 14 minutes, which happens to be the same time of where I was when i got swept the year before.

This year I am hoping for a finish of 8'30" or better. Four months and counting to prepare. Part of that preparation will include a Duathlon with my wife. She is running, I'm doing the bike leg. It should be a fun event. I am also one of a four man team for the 24hrs of Great Glen on 8/12. This is going to be a blast. It should be enough riding for each of us and not too much to blow us up. On 8/28 I will try and do the Race to the Top of Vermont. This course goes up the Auto Toll Road on Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in VT. The road is only opened once a year to this event for pedestrians. The elevation is 2,550 ft in just 4.3 miles. Up Up Up! That brings me full circle on this post with the VT50 which is on 9/25 which is my wife's birthday. I have to find something super nice to share the day with her. We plan on renting a room at the mountain for that weekend. Fun times!

10/1 is the 200k Fall Classic brevet that is made up of a lot of dirt. Since it is the weekend after the 50, I may ride my MTB on this ride. And let me not forget to mention that all of this will only be possible if I can get my bike built in time. I retired my old MTB and I don't want to go backwards here. Time to get busy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My 400km brevet


I can't even begin to explain how incredible this was. In some ways it seems entirely crazy, in others not enough. I do have to say at this point it is enough. I finish the 257 mile course in 25.5 hours. I never felt beat or broken and enjoyed all of the sweating, climbing, and down pouring that was thrown at me. I am very proud of my accomplishment. I am not the typical cyclist type and it takes a huge effort to get me up and around on the hilly and mountainous roads of VT. But, that doesn't stop me and now I know I can do anything that I set my mind to.

It all started at 2:30am. I got up to get ready for Mike was picking me up at 3:15. We drove out to the park & ride in Waterbury (hey, that's what we did - parked then went for a ride). We rolled out of Waterbury at 5am and headed to Montpelier.

Early up for an early start

I road ahead of these guys with some others for a short bit, stopped and snapped a pic

Mike getting on his game face
Our first control was in Roxbury. We grabbed some things that we thought we might want and headed down the road. There was one guy behind us who showed up at the start late. He later called in and dropped out for something he had to take care of.

first control
Below starts some pictures that I took along the way. Mainly they show the varying conditions that we encountered. If I had a waterproof camera, I would have taking a bunch more. We had some torrential dumping for a while. We passed by a chasm that was absolutely stunning but I had no desire to dig through my bag at that point.

this is a cool vantage point

as is this one

the cockpit
I borrowed one of my friends' lights for the ride. The one on the left is my mini newt 150 that I use for commuting. It was plenty bright for this ride but Joe's on the right is 1000 lumens! Who can argue with that. It was awesome. Late in the dark (4:11am) I had a problem with it that is getting solved. I was using it for more burn time and to test it. It is new to him. We think he had a lemon but they are warrantying it, so it's all good. If you look closely under the stem on the top tube, you can see the TD sticker that Mike designed.

this was the view after some long descending

picturesque Vermont

roads that keep on going
This was not a control but a good place to stop to refuel, grab a pastry, and freshen up. Mike and I were leap frogging with another guy, Tom. He was here when we rolled in and ended up taking off just before us. I thought to myself that there was no way that I wanted to blow up on any part of this ride. I wanted to finish it within the time limit and not be hurting when I did that. I can now say, success!

my trusty friend that keeps getting me through everything

ticking by the time

Trouble (rain) rolled in before we made it to Putney. It got pretty heavy and at one point we were headed downhill for quite some time with nearly any breaks due to the rain and it was pounding so hard that I could hardly look ahead to see what I was facing. It was sketchy for sure but it was for a short period of time.

40th anniversary of West Hill shop in Putney, VT
West Hill Bike Shop was our furthest point south on the course and one of our controls conveniently setup by Mike so that we could refuel for lunch. Nice food and great people. They had a ride that day and even though they had their own glow, they were eyes wide open when they heard what we were doing. It was a great place to end up.

our bikes (on left) taking a well deserved break
After we left Putney we headed into some (more) climbing. It was plenty and once again it was paired with a well deserved bombing downhill. I broke my personal best on this ride. It is now 51.23mph. I drop like a freaking brick thrown from a window when the road turns down. I fall away so quick from whom ever I'm riding with. It's crazy.

one of many covered bridges we saw, the only one we crossed
15 minute nap at a control

Here are some pictures that were the last I could take for the day. It was going to be getting dark and I wanted to concentrate on riding. I have done rides (plenty) in the dark. All winter my commute was dark in both direction.

cockpit at speed
After it got dark, I went into a different mentality of riding. I really enjoyed riding through the night. Mike and I had caught back up with Tom at a control in Ludlow because he had done some bonus miles. We all decided to just ride together and keep it rolling. It was so much fun. At one point, when we were in Granville Gulf, Mike was up ahead and came across some moose prints crossing the road. Fresh muddy prints and some water splashing says we just missed it. Thankfully it didn't ram into us as we rode through.

After the daylight came back, we were all pretty much flat out tired and there was little to no talking anymore. I didn't take anymore pictures. I was ready to be done and scurried right along so that we could call it done. In fact it did come to an end. I am still working through catching up on rest. Because the ride started at 5am and got done at 6:30am, there is a time warp in my mind. It feels like I got up real early to go for a ride, rode for a few hours, then came home not too long after. Not easy to explain. I recommend doing an event like this. Not too soon but I will do this again and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bit of it.

loaded up and ready for home

Monday, May 16, 2011

catching up some more

Got out with my training partner, Mike, for a wet ride yesterday morning. Mike got a new bike and we thought it was only proper to put it through the ringer. We did pavement and dirt and muck and rain. It was actually a good time.

The weekend before I updated my drivetrain. I put a new ring, cog and chain on the bike. The one that I removed had gotten me through the winter and it was time for a new one.

Shiny and new!
When I changed out the rear, I put an 18t on down from the previous 20t that I ran in the winter. I wanted a little more top end but didn't want to loose too much low end. After riding it now for a week, I think that I am going to try a 40t ring up front. The 38t is new and I had it already so that's what I went with. Also I want to wait until after the 400k to go taller. I heard from a reliable source that there is plenty of climbing on this course.

you are what you drink...or something like that

I put a little inspirational bling on the top cap to help get me through these long rides, for what it's worth anyways. I have decided that the 400k will be my last ride in the brevet series sans the fall classic which I very much look forward to. I think with my upcoming schedule of events, I need to alter my training a bit and focus more on some other areas of my fitness.

Some things, although changed a bit, will remain a big focus. This is one of them:

Here's a hint!

I will write up my thoughts on this in my next post. I have been constantly sorting out details in my mind and have things pretty much figured out now. One last picture to show a bit of what's to come. I have received some of my build kit for the Tour Divide bike. The cockpit is all Syncros which is a Ritchey Components company. Awesome stuff and I got these in my favorite color. It is called matte white grunge. Need I say more!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My 300k

At the end of the day, I had 195 miles in my legs. I finished minutes (2) shy of 15 hours. I wasn't destroyed when it was over but I was quite pleased that it WAS over when I made it in.

It all started the day before when I did what is commonly known as one of the big mistakes in cycling. Working on your bike the day before a big event. As much of you know, I have ridden this bike through the winter and really putting it through its paces. The bike is amazing. It just keeps on getting it. I put the Alfine IGH on the bike at Christmas time and have not had nearly an issue with it since. I have learned a few things and like most of the time, the best way to do this is with experience.

But, I digress. Friday, the day before, I planned on changing out my shift cable and my drivetrain. A simple task turned extensive. The STI type shifter for the IGH has a shift cable like the old Shimano 105 where the cable does not route back under the bar tape. It comes off the side of the hood and just heads to the downtube to get to where its going. I though how pleasant it would be to change this cable without messing with bar tape. Boy was I wrong! I cut the shift cable near the bottom of the head tube and slid the housing off, took pressure off the rear brake cable and tried slide the shift cable out of its seat and the ball end would not move for anything. Nothing helped get it out. Frustrated, I decided to cut the rear cable and unwrap the bar to take the lever off. I had to find a way to get the cable out. I ended up taking the shifter nearly all the way apart and found a spot to lever the cable out. At which point it comes out with relative ease.

Put it all back together and remount it on the bars. Now I have to go to the LBS and get another cable for the rear brake and some more bar tape. Small job turns into a big job. Sound familiar? Needless to say, I am now down some time and still have other planning to do. I wisely decide to not dive into the drivetrain. The last thing I need is more trouble the night before the ride. I just ran the chain and gears that got my through the winter. A little noisy and slightly crunchy but trustworthy.

Which brings me to the morning of... I awoke at 3am to get myself ready to head out a little after 4. I rode to the start at Old Spokes Home where I met up with everyone signing in and getting their brevet cards. MikeB organized the ride and had to spend the day before rerouting because of our record lake level and flooding everywhere. We essentially did an out and back. We took off at 5am and Mike had decided not to ride because of his lack of sleep making sure that we had a great event. I rode out and got to the sandbar and saw some of this:

These were two of the very few pictures that I took while I was out. I was hoping to take more but I seem to get so caught up in looking around and keeping my nose to the ground to stay on point, that I forget to take pictures. There is significant flooding of the houses and properties that surround the lake. There were also several roads that we encountered that we had to forge water to continue. It was an unsettling sight to see the damage and maybe losses that these people faces.

Once the sun rose, I knew that it was going to be a beautiful day.
One of many majestic scenes that I encountered 
I ended up between two groups of riders for about 50 miles until just moments before reaching the first control I came upon three riders that were on top of the bridge dealing with a flat. I stopped for a moment as they were finishing up and I said I was rolling to the control. Two of the three showed up sometime later and the guy with the flat was not one of them. I was told that he slashed his sidewall in a crack in the rode. He was virtually out. But, later after the finish, I heard that a couple from Maine at the back of the field actually had a spare tire and gave it to him so that he could finish. That was not only amazing luck but demonstrated the camaraderie of the riders.
good coffee and a apple crumb cake set me off right
John, Andy?, and I left the first control after some coffee and rode quite some time together on and off between the first and second control.  We saw roadies down from Canada burning up the streets of new York at a paceline somewhere around 22mph. It was a bit windy for up to hold that and we had a long day ahead of us so we let the Peleton roll by without much thought. Our paths crossed again later and their group got larger and ultimately faster. I was pretty cool to see.
That's regular gas for over $4/gal. I later saw $4.11

Just before the second control the road turned up with some pretty long ascents. This is where I ended up alone again. Not a great climber but I can hold my ground. I got to the second control which was the turn around point of the course. It was a pleasant stop and the hospitality was over the top.
good hogie for lunch! mmmm!
This is where things got interesting for me. I thought that an out and back would be a good way to have the miles tick away back to the finish. I think by the time I got to the third control I changed my mind. It was nice to have a sense of where I was compared to where I would end up but it seemed to get a little torturous mentally. On the second hand, the reroute took the climbing from ~6000' down to about ~3000' which in the end turned out to be a fine trade off. When I was done, I didn't feel defeated at all but I will have to say that I was glad that it was over. I feel that at my current fitness level, 200 miles is about my limit. That doesn't leave me feeling too comfortable knowing that the 400k is in three weeks. I am pretty sure that I will do it but I have to get to a better place in my mind.

We will call this pedal tan!
The next morning I felt incredibly well after doing what has become my longest single event to date. I look forward to working on improving and pushing this to the next level. I don't know how far I will take it. Maybe the 600k but I am sure that there is no room in my current plans to do the BMB 1200k. It just so happens that that is on the same weekend as the 24hrs of Great Glen. I have joined a four man team for that and I am at full tilt with excitement. Its going to be a blast.

Stay tuned. I still have to do a write up on my plans for the Tour Divide.