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.
…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.
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.
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.
After a week of relaxing and riding, I was ready to get back to my usual training schedule. Yesterday morning, I decided to ride the geared bike first thing and try the Powertap wheel and new cable routing.The workout was somewhat short and meant to serve as a wake-up call to the vacationing legs. I hit the prescribed numbers, but felt a little sluggish. No big deal- I figured it was just the “waking up” process.
Oh yeah… and the shifting is awesome now. Hopefully I’ve solved that one for good. The powertap, on the other hand, is getting a warranty replacement on the freehub because the two bearings inside seized up sometime during/after Ryan rode it in the Syllamo’s Revenge 50.
Anyway… I thought I’d be good today. I awoke to thunderstorms this morning, but since it’s (finally) warm out, I headed out for my long ride after the worst passed and the rain was steady and thunderless. I felt fine, but should have known better when I passed through a space/time gap early in the ride (you know- where you space out for a minute then are somewhat disoriented when you snap back). I did my best to ignore my brief lapse of awareness and continued on my way.
An hour and a half later, I started to feel exhausted. I sent a text to my coach and asked for advice, and in the meantime, attempted one of the prescribed intervals. It wasn’t good. I checked my phone and saw the advice that I probably should have figured out on my own: “Go Home.”
So, I did. It rained more. When I got back, I laid down in the shower and almost fell asleep. It wasn’t a total wash of a day- I still had 3 solid hours of steady riding. The rain was fun, too.
Now, I’m laid back on the bed eating a Kashi pizza and watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on Hulu with a snoring dog and farting kitten. I finally figured out how to get my computer and my phone to talk to one another, so I’ll get some photos of all sorts of things posted tomorrow morning.
If you’ve been a reader for very long, you know I like stuff that is absolutely reliable with little to no maintenance. The shifting on my Air 9 Carbon has not lived up to that standard. The cable guide for the internal routing causes too much drag on both front and rear derailleur cables. However, the Air 9 Carbon is, hands down, one of the most awesome bikes I’ve ever ridden, so I’m willing to put some work into making it better. So, the following is a rundown of the modifications I made to work with the cable guide issue…
Step 1: Remove old stuff/prep frame/cable guide
– If you’ve already got cables routed, take the old cables out, but leave the piece of cable housing in the chainstay. You’ll use it to run a guide cable from the rear to the BB in order to guide the housing through later. If you have a bare frame, then you’ll need to run a cable from the chainstay hole to the BB.
– Remove and drill the cable guide. You need to drill the front derailleur side out enough that a piece of cable liner can fit through it. I clamped mine in the vice at the shop and drilled it for a piece of Nokon liner.
– Next, you have to drill into your headbadge. I chose to go with the side opposite the shifter. I originally had my shift cables routed to NOT cross from headbadge to cable guide, but later routed both the shop demo bike and my bike to be crossed. Crossing the housings in front of the bike and the cables in the downtube results in less bend in the out-of-bike housing from shifter to headbadge, and better shifting. The drilling isn’t all that bad. I just started with a small drill bit and moved up from there until my cable housing would fit through. Periodic blasts of compressed air are good to clear the shavings.
Step 2: Run the housings/cables
-Do the front derailleur first. It’s much easier to run a cable through the frame first- before you’ve run solid rear housing from front to back. I made the mistake of reversing the order when I modded the shop demo bike. Route the cable as normal, but have a piece of cable liner running through the cable guide and out the frame hole leading to the front derailleur.
-Next, measure out a piece of derailleur housing to run from the shifter, though the frame, and through the chainstay. Because of the need to run a guide cable, you need to be pretty precise- if it’s cut too long, you won’t be able to get the end of the guide cable through the entire piece of housing, and getting the housing through the chainstay will be next to impossible. Based on the recommendation of an awesome mechanic from Little Rock that I met at the Ouachita Challenge, I used Jagwire L3 coated housing.
-Run a fresh piece of derailleur cable through the old cable housing you left in the chainstay. Then, pull the housing out and leave the cable (it’s now run from the rear chainstay hole to the BB).
-Run the cable housing from the headbadge to the BB. It will try to go into the top tube, so you’ll need to bend it some to make it aim towards the downtube.
– Once the end of the housing is in the BB area, run your guide cable through the housing. If you’ve cut the housing length right, the cable should be just long enough to pop out of the housing end outside the headbadge. If you’ve got an XL frame, you may need to use tandem cable. Clamp the end of the cable (the one that’s coming out of the end of the housing outside the headbadge) with vice grips. Make them tight- this will allow you to pull on the cable while guiding the housing through the chainstay.
– Now, the hardest part- getting the housing through the chainstay. It takes some finesse mixed with force, but through gentle tugging on the guide cable and pushing on the cable housing, you should be able to get the housing through the chainstay and to the rear derailleur.
-Once that’s through, you’re essentially done with the hard part. Trim the cable housing to be just right, adjust your derailleurs, and enjoy your newly awesome shifting.
I’ll get some more photos and reports up once I’ve ridden a couple of times. Initial impressions are that the shifting is MUCH better than before. Time will tell if the liner for the front cable will hold up. Email or comment if you have any questions!
After the race this weekend, I was giving mud-covered post race congrats/hugs to Brenda and Sonya when Ryan O’Dell (the “NUE Guy”) asked Brenda and I if we could do a short interview. Here’s the Cyclingnews race report that includes a little bit of that: Syllamo 125 on Cyclingnews. The highlight of the article is most definitely the “Mohawk and piercings” part. The last paragraph of the interview was actually a quote from me, but is labeled as “Simril.” The article also includes a quick mention from local hero Boomer Leopold, who placed 3rd in the Singlespeed category behind The Pflug and a guy from Motor Mile
In other post-race news, I found the cause of my shoulder pain/arm numbness following my red trail wreck. I was at the chiropractor Monday morning, and, after he did his usual adjustments, he told me he’d like to check my shoulder. After a little poking, he put a hand on either side of it and pushed… a move resulting in a really loud POP that resonated through my entire torso. The doctor informed me, “your collarbone was dislocated.”
Awesome. At least it feels better now.
Training-wise, I’m doing my best to relax and recover now. I don’t feel quite right yet, and my tailbone is still killing me. Tailbone, you ask? Yeah, I didn’t want to mention it before the race, but on Thursday when we were pre-riding, somewhere on the blue trail, the nose of my saddle smacked my tailbone. It hurt really bad at first, then went away with some riding, and didn’t hurt for the rest of the day. Friday morning when I woke up, it hurt like hell. Riding a little made it feel slightly better, but a tailbone is like bruised ribs- short of wrecking and hitting the same spot again, riding & racing isn’t going to make it better or injure it further, it’s just going to hurt like hell. It generally hurt worse throughout the day on Saturday and is still making a lot of movement uncomfortable today.
I don’t have anything substantive on my training schedule until the weekend, so I’m going to ride easy, work on my bikes, and drink a few beers until then. I’ve got plenty to occupy my mind, as the suggestion was made to me (by none other than Ms. Carey herself) that I should consider taking on training/racing full time if it’s somehow possible. If you’ve been reading my last few posts, you know that I entertained the idea not too long ago. It’s still an entertaining idea, but not one that’s happening soon. I’ve got lots of walking to do before I reach the herd of cows at the bottom of my hill.
It’s not very often that I’ve looked at the start list for a race and thought, “I could race a perfect race, and still finish DFL.”
The start list for the Syllamo NUE Series race was short and stacked with seasoned women who had all (for the most part) kicked my butt at one time or another. Even though the race didn’t offer a singlespeed category for women, the Syllamo terrain lends itself well to singlespeed riding. Also, I’m still on my singlespeed rampage, so I lined up against the heavy hitters on geared bikes in the women’s open category.
The race start is challenging in terms of pacing. The 3/4 mile mad dash up Blanchard Springs forest service road dumps you into the trail system close to one of the most technical, rocky sections. The crowd of racers heading up the hill was thick enough that I didn’t really know how I was placed going on to the trail, but I assumed it was good since I was feeling awesome.
My assumption was correct. As I tried to calm down and hit my rhythm, I realized I was swapping places with Brenda Simril, Namrita O’Dea, and Sonya Looney. In the past, I’ve watched their results from a distance while riding my own pace in the back. Now, I was on home turf and throwin’ bows.
The first 15 miles of trail has some tough technical spots, which were made worse (slippery and more treacherous) with the mud and moisture spread around by large amount of race traffic. I passed Namrita and Sonya on the yellow trail then swapped back and fourth with Brenda (and her husband Lee) for the 3rd place spot behind Amanda Carey and Cheryl Sorenson. At the first aid station, they passed me while I was swapping out bottles and airing up my front tire, which had punctured then sealed itself when I gave it a shot of CO2 from the Big Air I was carrying.
The green trail flew by, as did the first part of the orange. On the second orange trail climb, I caught back up to Brenda & Lee, who were working on Brenda’s bike, which was suffering from massive chainsuck. I have to learn how to keep from getting too excited, because every time I’d pass her (or any one of the other women), I’d bobble a section of trail that I could normally ride with my eyes shut. I passed her and kept up the pace, hoping that her mechanicals would keep her from chasing me. Unfortunately, she caught back up to me on the descent to the first Highway 5 crossing to the 2nd aid station. It was at that point that I realized I should have picked the suspension fork.
At the 2nd aid, I swapped bottles and a gel flask. Brenda and Lee took off up the trail. I felt like I needed to back off a click so that I wouldn’t kill myself on the next couple of climbs. So, I settled in and hoped that they’d come back at some point.
Fast forward a bit, and I’m up the blue trail climb and up to the 4th aid station. I never saw Brenda and Lee, but I kept to the same tempo pace for the red trail. Somewhere along the way, Sonya Looney flew past me like I was sitting still. I knew I wasn’t going to chase her down on her big ring, so I kept trucking in hopes that when she caught Brenda that they’d hammer at each other enough that one of them would pop and I could make a catch on the second time around the yellow trail.
Unfortunately, other than passing a few end-of-the-pack 50-milers, I was alone on the yellow trail. I managed to cut a sidewall about a mile out from the final aid station stop before the final red loop. I was low on CO2 from my first flat, so I knew it’d be better to try to refill it at much as possible and get to the aid station. At one point, a guy I passed informed me that my tire was flat. I told him that I’d brought that wheel into the world, and I’d take it out even faster.
At the aid station, Nate Carey graciously helped me get a tube into my tire (Amanda was already well into her final lap of the red trail). I crammed a powerbar, took on a fresh bottle, and was off on my final 12 miles of trail. I was absolutely drained at that point, so I was trying my best to flow the downhills with no brakes. The thing about the red trail is that it’s fast, non-technical, and slippery in some spots because of loose rock over hardpack. It’s very easy to have a high-speed wreck by way of losing a front tire off the edge of the bench of the trail.
With about 7 miles to go in the race, I did just that. I was headed down a slightly fast hill when I wrecked and tumbled face first into the bushes and a deadfall tree. After laying on the ground for a minute to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed, I got up and assessed my bike, which was a good five feet away from where I come to rest. I had to dig my multitool out to straighten my handlebars, and I felt like my face was bleeding and my helmet felt tighter than before (it ended up being scratched on the right side and pretty dented in the middle/front, so I retired it to the trophy wall at the cabin).
Thank you, Rudy Project, for once again saving me from the life of a vegetable.
I continued on, albeit slightly more cautiously than before. I did my best to zone out and forget how much everything was hurting at that point. Eventually, I was making the turn back on to Blanchard Road and was hauling ass down to the finish line. Luckily, no one passed me while I was having my tire/wreck difficulties, and I ended up 5th…
45 minutes behind the winner, Amanda Carey.
Sure, 45 minutes is a long time. At last year’s races, it was two or more hours. It’ll be a long journey of small steps, though I’ll be the first to admit to my constant impatience. Hopefully, Saturday was a sign of good things to come in upcoming races. I think I might have arrived on at least one or more radars in the past couple of weeks.
I’ve expressed my impatience to my coach, and this was the text message reply that I received back:
“Two bulls are standing on a hill overlooking a group of cows. The young bull says, ‘let’s run down and get ourselves a cow.’ The older bull says ‘no, I have a better idea. Let’s walk down and get them all!”
So, I guess if I’m patient enough, all the cows will be mine? I’m not totally sure, but it made me laugh, and seemed like promising advice on the virtue of patience…
I know, I know… I’ve been scarce lately. In lieu of several fun and entertaining posts to catch you up, I figure I’ll just do it in some nice, boring bullet points.
-Last Saturday, the Trinity ride was pretty insane. I hit a season best 20 min power average while off the front of the group with one of the Memphis Velo guys. We were eventually caught, and I dropped through the group like a hot coal through a paper towel.
-Sunday, Ryan and I went to the Outdoors Inc water demo day. We tried out the stand-up paddleboards (BTW- those are a sweet cross-training balance to pedaling singlespeed) first, then I hopped into the Epic skate-ski V10- which is essentially a narrow, round bottom racing kayak. After a few near-tips, I started to get the hang of it and was motoring around Patriot Lake. I followed it up with 4 hours on the road bike.
-Monday and tuesday were pretty laid back. I rode the SS powertap Tuesday morning. It was pretty boss, though the cadence is kinda squirrely when I’m JRA.
Yesterday, I headed to Mountain View, where I took to forest roads for a little leg-wake-up. This morning, I met up with Amanda & Nate Carey and Eddie & Namrita O’Dea. We rode a bit of the blue and orange trails. Amanda rode the A9C for a few minutes and she totally hated it. She nearly knocked me down to get back on her awesome Felt.
Also, today is opposite day.
Afterward, I dropped my bike off at the cabin, picked up Turbo, and went to the creek near the cabin for an ice bath.
I have a bunch of cool photos on my fancy new “ruggedized” smart phone (Casio “Commando”), but I haven’t figured out how to get them out of there yet…
After a few years of training on the road with a powermeter, I finally ponied up and bought a powertap mountain bike hub. I wanted to go as light as practical, so I built it up with a Stan’s Crest rim and DT Aerolite Spokes (still went with brass nipples, though). At first, I put a cassette on it and put it on my geared bike. However, after a little thought, I realized that I won’t really be riding the geared bike much in the upcoming week or two. So, I pulled the cassette, slapped a 21t cog (for Syllamo next week), and put it on my singlespeed.
As a rookie singlespeeder, I sometimes fret a little over gear choice. Though a 32×20 will get you through just about anything, a 32×21 has been my gear of choice for the Breck 100 and most rides at Syllamo. Though the terrain in those races is vastly different- long climbs at >10k feet vs. short, steep sea level climbs, the lower gear seems to work out well (especially at Syllamo, where there are very few places where you can spin out).
At Cohutta, the 32×20 worked well, though if I’m more fit next year, I might bump down to a 19t so I can keep the pace up on the flat spots (same song for SM100- the 32×20 was great last year on the climbs, but the long flat pavement section was monotonous). I’m sticking to the 21t for Syllamo, but Mohican? Uh… I’m not really sure. I DNFd last year with geared-bike mechanical issues- a blessing in disguise since I also cracked the Air9 frame and decided to say “to hell with gears” and warranty it with a One9. The course is generally rolling, but has some short, steep spots, so I’m not totally certain of what to do. Same for ORAMM.
Wait… did you just say ORAMM?
Yes, the fact that I’m even considering it must mean that last year’s ORAMM was apparently a pain similar to childbirth. For the uninformed: I knew that the weekend following the Breck 100, I’d either have “awesome superstar legs,” or I’d be a total lump of sh*t. Surprise- it’s wasn’t what I was hoping for. During the race, I dislocated my thumb around mile 20something. It forced me to decide between painfully slow descending or fast and excruciatingly painful descending. If any of you vultures who hung out at the “people will probably wreck here” spots and thought you heard sobbing as I passed by, yes, you heard correctly. About halfway up Curtis Creek, I started having lower back pain. Lots of back pain. I’ve figured out now that as convenient as it is, I just can’t wear a hydration pack of any style. I’ve tried the traditional style pack, the Wingnut, and the Camelbak LR, and all of them, at some point, will make my back hurt. To cap off my ORAMM experience, I started to massively cramp just before the last climb up Kitsuma. Worst cramps of my life, in fact.I swore the race off forever.
Fast forward to this year. I’m working at the Outdoors Inc bike shop. We’re kicking ass and taking names. There’s no way, in my current role at the shop, that I can take 3 weeks of summer to gallivant around New Mexico and Colorado. Yes, I could probably make it a short trip where I arrive, race within 24 hours, then go home a day or two later, but that’d be pretty lame. So, the Breck 100 is on hold until I’m either A) Pro enough that I don’t need to work in a shop, or B) Ryan gets a fat raise at work and I don’t need to work in a shop. ORAMM, which is July 24th, is looking like an attractive option. I’ve obviously forgotten how bad it hurt last year and/or figured that since that was officially the “worst race of my life” that it couldn’t really get worse short of me leaving the course in an ambulance.
So, I guess the point of all this is that I’m trying to decide what gear I’ll use for Mohican and ORAMM. It’s not easy to go off of advice that others give, so I’ll likely just decide at the last minute and spend half of the race cursing my decision (which half will be determined by whether I choose too hard or too easy of a gear). Then there’s the rigid vs. suspension thing… who knew that singlespeed riding could be so complicated?
Finally, I’ve now got a gaping hole in my race schedule from Mohican (6/4) ’til ORAMM (7/24). Race suggestions (must be weekend-trip-able) are more than welcome.
In a day and age when it’s easy for big companies monopolize the cyclist market while half-assing good customer service to weekend warriors and wannabes such as myself, it’s always refreshing to be reminded that there are still small companies that aren’t under rule of a guy with a business degree wearing a suit and sitting behind a giant mahogany desk. As fighters of the man behind the desk, they actually have to care about their customers- something I experienced last night that made me feel all warm & fuzzy inside (well, it could have been the Maredsous, but whatever).
As you may remember from my race report, I flatted early and found that the Awesome Strap Race that Dicky gave me after Southern Cross had somehow cut a hole in my spare tube. I don’t really fault the strap- if you ride off-road, stuff rattles and vibrates. No matter how you secure it to your bike or person, a tube can have a hole rubbed in it over time, and it’s my job to check for that. I fault myself.
However, last night, I got an email from the president of Backcountry Research. He apologized profusely for my problems and is going to send a Hitch strap out for me to try. Hell yes! Win on so many levels.
So, there you have it. Hurray for “Awesome” customer service.