Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Post race report and Public Service Announcement

It all starts the day before. I rode with Bob down south to Russ' house. I have been fortunate enough every year that I have raced the 50 to be able to stay at his house. Like last year, we got there, unloaded our gear and carpooled over to Ascutney to check in and grab our race packet. We then headed back over to the house and pondered many things for a while. Then it was time to eat. We headed to Outback Pizza in Ludlow for a couple of large pies to split. The five of us took down some good grub to "carb load" for the next day's big event. Back to the house we sit around a while in the basement talking and doing some last minute setup and/or adjustments to our bikes. Before long it gets late and we all call it a night to get some rest before the 3:15am rise and shine. It's a bit ridiculous but it is part of the ceremony. At 4:15am we drive off to the mountain for a 5:00am mandatory check-in and racer meeting. Blah Blah. It's like hurry up and wait. We don't take off until 6:20am so the wait drags on.

I started with my friend Dave who says that he is going out slow to not burn out and save some for the end. I think that this would be a good chance to hang out for a bit (however long that is) before he turns up the gas and leaves me behind. We took off and after a short while we head up this steep paved road. I just got into a comfortable gear and settled in for the climb. Eventually we got to the woods and that is where we start marching. That beginning stuff is pretty steep and it is too early in the race to try and kill it. I walk for a while. I kept looking back and I never saw Dave. Not sure what happened exactly but in the first 32 miles, when I arrived at a planned stop at the aid station, I still never saw him. I later heard that that is where is dropped out. This aid station is where my wife and daughter came to see me and cheer me on. It is a great feeling to see them about half way through this grueling ride. They give me motivation.

I don't even know what I was thinking here

Regrouping my supplies. I decided to ditch the saddle bag and carry my tool kit in my jersey. I only had a long sleeve and a rain shell in the bag anyways. With it being warm and no chance of rain, I thought it be best that I leave it behind.
After a short visit with my family I was off again. I managed to blow through the first three aid stations without stopping. At the fourth all I needed was some water and I quickly moved on. Well not before grabbing half a turkey and cheese sandwich. I stopped again after the half way point at the Margaritaville aid station. I loaded up on E caps and slammed a shot of Mountain Dew.

This is the scene at one of the aid stations. Apparently alot of people had problems with chain suck. Not me! IGH is golden in situations like this. I love it.
 I quickly realized that I had major burning sensations in my quads. Lactic acid building up and it hurt! The fix to the situation turned out to be as easy as getting back on the bike and continue the climbing. I guess the muscles did not want to stop working. I obliged.

As time wore on, I felt fatigue setting in. Up to this point I had only gotten in the woods at about 1-1.5 hours at a time. Trail riding was putting my freshly healed collarbone through the ringer. I was originally worried about how I was going to manage a ride that was easily three times as long. I never got too far in over my head but it was noticeable that my upper body was getting tired.

I continued to march on and new that as long as I continued at any speed in a forward direction, I would at this point finish before the 12 hours cut off. That was my ultimate goal, to finish. I had no problems with the bike at all until I got to only 4 miles to go. I came across and bridge and started heading up a hill when I heard this load ping in the rear. Sort of the sound a stick makes when a stick hits your spokes. Yep, I broke a spoke. I wrapped it around a neighboring spoke and spun the wheel to see that it was still true enough to ride on. It seemed fine and all I had at this point was hope that it would survive as well as me to finish. It did and I did too!

Finally. The best thing about the finish is the last 1.5 miles that switchback DOWN the mountain.
The three things that worked against me this year compared to last didn't really seem to hold me back as much as I thought they would.
  • Accident - I wasn't on the bike long before this race. I was probably off the bike recovering even longer. It seems as if the base that I built over the winter held up a bit for me.
  • Fully rigid bike - I didn't ever feel like I made a mistake. The bike is fun to ride. Last year I did it on my friend's full suspension Nomad.
  • Weather - This year was warm and dry on race day but it wasn't leading up to it. The course was quite wet and muddy. Very slick and deep in sections. Not as bad as '09 but still challenging. Last year was bone dry, even dusty.
I'm happy with the outcome and even better I am fired up with motivation to see if I can get to the next level for next year.

And now for a PSA!

First of all I want to give a huge shout out to Finish Line dry Teflon lube. It claims all weather conditions and I would have to agree. My chain looked as clean and fresh at the end of the race as it did when I started. It goes on wet and dries to a paste like consistency that doesn't attract grime. It also resists wetness. I'm sure the fact that the IGH sets up your chain similar to a single speed had something to do with it but nonetheless I didn't have to reapply oil or touch the chain at all during the whole race.

Secondly, a huge gratitude to my friend Bob for something he does for bottom side protection. When I do long rides like this I use Balmex to protect my booty. He also does the same but I saw him early morning before the race smearing it all over his chamois. I have never used chamois creme at all so I am unfamiliar with its benefits. I do know that this is the first time that I coated my chamois completely with Balmex and I fell in love with my saddle. It was the strangest feeling at first but that goes away quickly. After that, it was non issue the whole day. Try it, you'll like it!

Friday, September 23, 2011


This weekend is the Vermont 50 mountain bike race. I have a hard time saying that I am a racer but I do put in a solid effort. I have spent quite a bit of time in the woods at Sunny Hollow. I love that place. Last week I rode Friday after work, Saturday morning, and then again Sunday evening and I managed to switch it up each time. There is so much going on in there and with it so close to my house (I just ride over there) it's great.

Tomorrow I head down to southern Vermont to check in and get my race packet. The race starts at 6:15am on Sunday and there is a 12 hour limit. Last year I did it in 9:14. This year I wanted to better that but don't know if I will. I am down a bit from my accident but I think (feel) overall that I am in better shape than when I did it last year. We'll see how it turns out.

I got the Voodoo switched over for the race. I put Nevegal 2.2 tires on in place of the great rolling, pretty awesome Vulpines. With mixed terrain, I prefer them but we will be sure to see plenty of mud this year. Also the terrain will call on some good traction for climbing and braking.

hope these do good. Supposedly there will be mud.
I love these babies!
I also got some Ergon GX-2 grips and pretty much fell straight in love with them. I think if i build a single speed attack machine, I will run the GX-1 grips. They don't have the bar ends. The ones that I got do and I got them because I will invite the idea of multiple hand positions on the Tour Divide. I am still shaking this bike out to come up with the setup that I will have for that "truly" epic event. But I digress:

I also put a 32/21 on the bike. I had a 35/20 and I love it but it will not be low enough for the 50. Hell, I don't know if this will be low enough but "Run what you Brung"

fuel tank and saddle bag, courtesy of Mike
A little out of focus. Sorta symbolic, huh?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

WTF? a ride!

First sizable ride since the collarbone breaking accident. That was on 6/4. About 11 weeks of lost fitness. Well, I must say that I felt pretty damn good today. ~68 miles in about 6.5 hours with around 4100' of climbing. I'd say that there were one or two climbs that took everything from the engine to get up and over.