Mohican leftovers

I only had one “bad” wreck while on the Mohican course. It was very early in the race, and was the result of a left turn/rear wheel slide that happened so fast that I rode it all the way to the ground. The bruise on my butt is starting to turn all sorts of nice colors…

Singlespeed vs. Gears- a rant

There’s something I’ve been hearing a lot since Cohutta: “We need to get you on some gears so you can be up there with the big girls” or, “Wouldn’t you be faster if you had a geared bike?” or any number of other things along those lines. The advice is generally well-meaning, I know, but let me clue you in on a couple of things…

1) I own a geared bike. It’s f*cking awesome, and I love it.
2) It’s not my lack of 19 other gear options that’s slowing me down. It’s called “being slow” (relatively speaking, of course) that’s slowing me down. In fact, in some instances (such as the long forest road climbs @ Cohutta), being on a singlespeed made me climb faster than if I’d had a granny gear option.

So, that being said, my geared bike is staying at home until I’m damn well ready to use it. Get over it and enjoy the show.

 

Mohican 100 Race Report

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

With Amanda Carey and other NUE podium “regulars” off at the Trans-Sylvania Epic, the battle for the podium was set to be fierce for the rest of us chasing NUE points. OK, well, Cheryl Sorensen was there… and she’s generally the only one that challenges Amanda (exception- I heard Sue Haywood gave her a pretty hard run for her money at SM100 last year). I knew short of Cheryl having a major mechanical or wreck that I’d likely be battling it out with BrendaLee Simril and Laureen Coffelt for the remainder of the podium spots.

Saturday morning, I was up before the alarm on my phone went off. After a delicious breakfast of powdered eggs and french toast from the local American Legion, I went back to camp, suited up, and rode the mile or so down the local bike path to downtown Loudonville for the race start.

The race start was fast as usual. The first half mile or so is downhill before the course shoots up a ~100-150ft climb up a road out of town. In typical singlespeed fashion, I fell back at first and passed half the pack back on the first hill (I finally settled on using a 36×21, which turned out to be a slightly overzealous choice). It also meant that I passed Laureen and caught up to Brenda. I could tell that Brenda meant business when we hit the next hill, and I heard her upshift as other riders were downshifting. It was on.

Well, at least for the next mile or so.

I entered the first singletrack a few wheels back from BrendaLee. Then I ejected a bottle and had to stop for about a minute and never saw her again. Err…

The first singletrack was otherwise great. This year, with the combination of improved speed and course conditions, I wasn’t stuck behind a bunch of people walking their bikes in the difficult pitches of singletrack. I also didn’t break all sorts of parts of my bike, which is never a bad thing. I did, however, have one rear-wheel slide-out wreck (landing me an awesome goose-egg on my left ass-cheek) and also realized that I was overgeared.

Side note(s): In case you were wondering, one of the worst feelings of impending doom is realizing at mile 15 out of 100 that you’re overgeared. Also, I still stand by the statement I made last year that the hike-a-bike (in Breckenridge) known as French Gulch was the most physically difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life (doing it three times reinforced this) compared to any other hike-a-bike.

Sometime before Aid 3, I had somewhat of a  Double Rainbow moment when I crested a hill to see an amazing view of rolling farmland lit by the mid-morning sun. I realized just how fvcking lucky I was to be out there riding my bike. I mean, really… from the moment of conception, things have generally just gone right in one way or another. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 40 miles into a bike race, and it’s exhilarating.

Sometime after Aid 3, I realized that the Cytomax in all of my bottles was mixed too strong. It’s the type of stuff you think of when you’re 50 miles into a bike race, and it’s nauseating. Luckily, just past the”nearly gagged when I passed an eviscerated raccoon” part of the trail, there was a water-only aid station where I topped off both bottles with plain, cold, water. Eventually after, my gut was able to function again, and I started to recover from over an hour of what felt like a near puke/bonk. I can’t say it didn’t slow me down, though. Luckily, the trail leading to the next aid included a long railroad grade that allowed me to recover a bit and get some calories down. Once I reached Aid 4, I dumped half of my cytomax bottles out and diluted them. It eventually led to me feeling (somewhat) normal.

Unfortunately, during that time, Brenda probably put a healthy chunk of her lead on me. Fortunately, Laureen didn’t catch me. After walking up part of the “gravel wall” just after Aid 5, I realized that I was inside of 20 miles from getting my first podium finish at an NUE race. It gave me the wings I needed to finish the remainder of miles despite the exhaustion and threats of cramps coming from my quads. Boom. Done. Nothing beats being on the top of the podium (literally, of course, and figuratively). However, at a race as big as anything NUE, where most entries are there to kick ass, it’s freaking amazing to get to any of the steps, even if it was behind Cheryl and Brenda. Thus… the theme song for Saturday evening, courtesy of Lady Gaga…

 

Addendum…

You may remember I recently gave you the Summertime Guide to Bike Shop Etiquette. I need to add something to this:

7. On tubulars… if you want to use tubular wheels, we would be more than happy to glue the tires for you. If, on Thursday, you bring in tubular wheels that currently have tires on them and want them stripped, re-glued,  and ready to race this weekend, we’ll do that, too, but just so you know, we’re really fvcking busy right now, and you’re guaranteeing that a mechanic stays late/comes in early to get your tires glued and other service completed. Also, we hate you. No, not really, we actually care a lot about you, which is why we hate doing a skill-sensitive thing like gluing your tires when we’re really damn busy and you’re wanting it done yesterday.

Beer tips highly recommended.

Introducing… Endo Machine

Early last year, someone abandoned a bike at the Union Avenue bike shop. When I started working there somewhere around October, the bike immediately caught my eye, and I decided to call the “owner” and inquire about it. He informed me that he’d “wised up” and didn’t want to pay that much for a bike (repairs included new wheels, cables/ housings, tune up, and tires, among other things).

We’ve dubbed it the “endo machine” since it’s a 26er with a failing headshok fork. Also, Matt endo-ed it inside the house the other night…

Indecision 100

Six days out from the Mohican 100, and I’m already feeling the pre-race crazies. At least 3 of the usual NUE badasses are at the TSE race, which runs from today until June 4th (same day as Mohican). This means that I’ll have the opportunity to scoop up some good NUE points if I can place well (I’m currently sitting 5th overall). Not that I’m totally discounting the current entries into Mohican or anything- BrendaLee Simril will be there, and she’s finished ahead of me in both NUE races so far. Also, I’m sure Laureen, just a couple of points behind me, will be looking for the opportunity to strike as well.

All of this, in addition to not knowing the course very well, leads to a little bit of singlespeeder apprehension. Last year, the course was a blur of mud and thunderstorm. I broke my rear brake lever off, then proceeded to bend and break my chain (two separate occurrences in two different spots on the chain). At the 3rd aid station, I said f*ckit and DNFd the race. Once I was home, I realized that I’d also cracked my Air9 in the process. In the meantime, I wasn’t paying attention to the course or giving singlespeeding it any thought.

This year, the forecast is looking good for fast course conditions (though, now that I’ve said that “out loud,” the city of Loudonville is doomed to a tornado on Saturday). I’m still not totally sure about gear or suspension choice, and somewhere, in the back of my mind, there’s a tiny voice saying “take the geared bike!” since what I do remember about the course is a lot of short, steep hills that will undoubtedly put me on my feet if I choose a singlespeed gear that will get me through the flat parts of the course without major spinout.

…fear not though. I’m feeding that voice a tiny glass of STFU with a side of GTFO.

In other news, the rule in the house on Friday was “no one under 30 can wear a shirt”…

 

A9C Shift-Mod Update

I almost forgot to mention…

Today I rode the Air 9 for about the 5th time since I modified the shift cable routing to include a liner through the FD side of the cable guide and a solid piece of housing though the frame. I must say, even though it’s NOT RECOMMENDED by the guys at Niner, my shifting is absolutely like butter now- fast, ultra-smooth, no half-shifts, dragging, or creaking. Here are a couple more photos to include the headbadge routing and the liner through the BB:

Crisis Averted

After Sunday’s failed attempt at training, I was prettymuch freaked out. Nothing I can think of had changed in my post-race/pre-ride routine- sleeping, eating, stress levels, activity levels… you name it. Normally, under those circumstances I’m ready for training a few days after the race. So, when massive fatigue struck when I tried to get back into it, I was totally caught off guard.

In the two days following that, I felt pretty awful- both physically and mentally. I couldn’t think straight, and I just wanted to lay in bed and hide with the covers over my head. Instead, I worked, ate, and recovery rode on the commuter. Nothing like a trip to Yogurt Mountain when you’re feeling drained…

 

Yesterday (Wednesday) was D-day. After breakfast, I suited up and attempted another workout. First hour- feeling good… though, with the headwind, I was occasionally riding 14mph @ 255 watts. No spacing out, no feeling tired. All systems go. The two intervals that followed were absolutely painful in the best possible way. Success! I rode the tailwind home and threw in a couple of hill attacks for good measure.

Hell Hath no Fury

I was going to jokingly crop this photo down to just the “bad” part and label it as “why you should purchase your Cannondale at Outdoors, Inc.” However, since I’ve apparently been dubbed “Mandrea” by the person pictured below, the gloves are off.

Phone Photodump

…and more random thoughts that I can’t write an entire post about.

– In the comments (and in post-race conversation), I’m getting a lot of “if you had gears and suspension, you’d be fast” type comments. Ok, I’ll give you suspension. The rigid fork was perfect for Cohutta. It slowed me down on the fast parts of the Syllamo trail. But gears?

Last I checked, Gerry Pflug has finished ahead of Amanda Carey at both Cohutta and Syllamo.

Yes, I realize that I’m not Gerry Pflug, but give it a rest. I’m not totally sticking to one or the other, I’m just having a lot of fun on a singlespeed right now. My point is that gears aren’t a necessarily a prerequisite for success.I still stand by my statement that at places like Syllamo, gears are a liability.

- On a totally different note, I think that the “age group” placings for triathlons are silly. It’s like “participation awards” for the kids that couldn’t win anything at field day in elementary school. If you win your age group, but 4 other people of your gender finished ahead of you, then guess what… you did not win. The exception- masters racing. There is a point at which you start to slow down (men moreso than women), so it makes sense to offer a “masters” category (as in road racing). But 5 year age groups? That’s just silly. Try to beat everyone.

-Speaking of age, I turned 30 the day after Syllamo’s Revenge. My parents took me to dinner at an authentic Chinese place, where we had a giant fried fish that was awesome (photos below).

-Other things included in the gallery: pre-race photos from Thursday’s ride & post-ride soak in the creek near the cabin, stuff inside the cabin like Iron Chef, my alone-at-the-cabin security system, Matt covered in terriers, and porch views. Next, some birthday shots of Matt’s present to me, a card from my parents, and the aforementioned giant fish. Also,  though I didn’t race the final Tiger Lane crit, I did ride up and watch. Included are some shots that involve beer. Finally, a couple of random weekend shots- including one of me drinking a Smirnoff Ice. For all of you who have wanted to see a mohawk photo… here’s your chance.

 

Addendum: for those of you that don’t read the comments, I though I’d bring the following to your attention for further clarity on the triathlon matter.

From Mike:

Triathalon is MUCH more popular than mountain bike or road racing nationwide. That’s fact. What bike race has amatuer registration in the hundreds, sometimes over a thousand? Many tris do. Even the biggest mtb race I’ve done (the Shenandoah 100) doesn’t come close to the registration numbers of scores of tris on the east coast alone.
Part of the reason for this is age group placement. It gives more people a chance to compete in an evener field.

Try considering the bigger impact on the health of the sport rather than who’s really “winning.”

Disclosure: I am not a triathlete at all (terrible swimmer) but my wife is relatively successful…as a previous age group champion for the southeast.

My thoughts:
You’re exactly right. Triathlons are wildly popular vs. road or MTB racing. However, I don’t think that the main reason is because of age groups.
First, just to clarify, until you get to the “masters” realm, an age group- ESPECIALLY for women- does not denote an “evener” group of competitors. Physiologically speaking, it just doesn’t. You can’t argue with science. From an ability standpoint, it makes just as much sense as taking all the people from ages 18 to 35, putting their names into a hat, and drawing them out into random groups to tell them who they are competing against. I still stand by my statement that if you “win” your 20-24 age group while coming in 4th overall, you just didn’t win. You got 4th. Hate me for it all you want, but it won’t change human physiology. My original comment is addressed towards that 4th place person, not the person that just wants to be healthier.
The real reasons why triathlons are so popular is because, to the crowd that just wants to improve health, challenge themselves a little, and isn’t overly concerned with winning, a triathlon is a great thing to do- because of the variety of skills involved, the training is more interesting than the “specialist” athlete, and, above all, a triathlon is much less intimidating than a road or mountain bike race.
With road racing, you have pack dynamics, strategy, confrontation, etc. It can be an intimidating environment. Put me in a road race with a triathlete that’s stronger than me on the bike. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ll tell you now that her chances of beating me are slim. Road racing is like a strenuous game of chess. It’s often the smartest (as opposed to the strongest) who wins. Someone who doesn’t want to tackle that learning curve isn’t going to have a good time road racing.
Same with MTBing- it requires a great deal of skill AND fitness to be a great mountain biker. Once again, for the person just looking to be more fit and have a good time, the amount of skill required can be discouraging.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a triathlon isn’t “hard,” I’m just saying that from the perspective of someone wanting to be more fit and try some sort of competition, that (save those who swim like a 1-legged horse) it’s the easiest and least intimidating from a skill standpoint.