Sunday, March 30, 2008

Race report

Chickasaw Trace Classic. Won that shit.

why nobody else threw up their hands is beyond me

I tried in vain to use my race wheels, preride testing with lower and lower pressure to get traction in the corners just wasn't working. Sliding through corners in what turned out to be with 10 psi? No thanks.
So I threw on my mud/training tires and rolled to the start line. I took third into a quick chute before an open field, then jumped into the lead into the single track. This turned out to be critical since I was apparently the only guy to clear a rocky climb shortly after the single track. I figured I'd take it a little easy but still make 'em ride hard to chase.
Ended up whittling it down to me and two others by the end of lap one, at the end of lap two it was me and one other. Over the course of the race I found out my adversary was a track racer and decided I did not want to pull him to the line so he could sprint around me. About 2/3 through the last lap on a muddy run up, I sprinted. He didn't. Enter off road TT mode. Turns out my tire selection was top notch because I was railing every corner. If I wasn't hooking up it could not be done.
Over the last 2-1/2 miles I ended up putting just over 30 seconds into him for the solo across the line. Alas, no pics yet but I'm sure it looked good.
My time ended up being good enough for a top 5 in the Semi Pro/Pro race. Not too shabby for my first race of the year.

The trip home makes 2 for 2 on stopped traffic, this time only about 30 minutes. I ended up getting in about 12:30 last night, so I'm beat and going to go take a quick 20 minute kipper so I can finish out my day.


-the ATM

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Well, that was fun.

Drove to the race today... about 4-1/2 hours of sunshine and 55F. What happens when I get 10 minutes from the trailhead for a preride?
Yep. Thunderstorm. What the fish?? Soooo.... no pre-ride today. That sucks. Eh well, drive back up to Nashvegas for my temporary domicile, grub up, get sleep.

Racing in the rain is not my favorite, but I'd say I do way better at it than many. I embrace it and hit it, regardless. Alot of people bitch about it. That's fine with me, tho. If they want to mess up their head before the start - have at it!


-the ATM

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This week brought to you by...

...No Chain

This whole week has been a string of great rides. It started off on Saturday, when I threw down my best threshold power test ever, so I got that goin' for me... which is nice (name that movie). Did a chill ride on Sunday for a few hours.

I got snowed on. It was pretty rad. Had Monday off. Got in a good flatland ride on Tuesday. Nothing special but felt awesome. Last night, I did some threshold intervals and started out with the ol' gams feeling a little flat but they bounced back right proper towards the end. Everything was capped off by today's ride.
Holy crap, it was awesome. With temps in the mid 50s and a 70% chance of rain, I rolled out. Maybe it was the killer playlist, the light rain or the gently rolling hills I picked as a route, but I could not stop smiling and [quietly] singing along. The rain did not bother me in the least. I even think it enhanced the ride a bit. Call me crazy. Anyway, I ended up with just under 2-1/2 hours of awesomeness.

In other non-riding news, it's nice to be needed. Maybe I have a career in the thankless world of wrenching. Well, maybe just bike washing. I'm just happy to help a brotha out with a huge opportunity in his first dance on the National Stage because we all know, to be PRO you have to have a clean rig, no exceptions. I figured it couldn't hurt so I waxed his bike too, make him extree fast.
I also got my shit totally dialed on the new MTB rig. She's 100% race-ready and looking quite svelte.

Including the portly 300+ gram Ergomo BB and computer, it weighs in at exactly 21 lbs and looks good enough to eat. This is all good timing because my first race of the year is this weekend. Fear me.

The only negative to the whole week is my insanely silly lack of sleep. It's always something, but welcome when a buddy stays at my place whom I've not talked to in probably 6-9 months. It started with a quick free hub swap on his Ksyriums (switching to the goodness known as Campy, no less!), morphed to discussing my race bike, then progressed to general bike stuff.
I'm hitting the sack early tonight, but first a quick wash of the rig then download ride data.

Lastly, as sweet as they are, I really hope pink is not the new white:

Master Chavanel has a seriously white (and big) grill, plus he's rockin' some great form right now. Could a Frog get a Beligian Classic W??


-the ATM

Monday, March 24, 2008



I had visions of this picture looking a whole lot more like the scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules breaks bad on Brad, quoting scripture and what not. Problem is, my briefcase is aluminum and I don't have a goatee.

Other than that, totally nailed it.

Anyway, my super sweet bottom bracket I mentioned earlier is contained in that case. Since SRM is rather slow in delivering their MTB cranks, I decided to get the Ergomo BB that measures power instead. I'm going to do the install tonight, but playing around with the interface still reeks of German engineering not unlike the SRM. Since my lineage is German, I'm an engineer and I have an SRM on my road bike, I figure I should be able to pick this up pretty easily. One nice thing is that is has a backlight, which is something the SRM lacks. Well, yours does. I bought some LEDs and wired up a few batteries to give my SRM display lighting for the long winter rides I do.
I'll probably post a few pics, but it's just a BB with wires coming out of it. Naturally you'll see my trick/stealth wire runs, but other than that there's not much to see.
For the times I'd rather have a DEEEE-sgusting light bike with no power I'm going to roll a Crank Brothers Ti Cobalt BB at a silly 180g tare.

I really do have a sickness.

-the ATM

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rain ride

Since I was prepared, but didn't get, to ride at camp in the rain I felt obligated to give it another go back in the real world. The past few days have offered plenty of opportunity to do said rain ride so I capitalized on that yesterday.
On tap was a basic endurance ride, and I could not bring myself to plunk my bike in the trainer in my cozy garage and throw down 90 minutes. Call me crazy, but all the beautiful riding I did last week reminded me of the good times...
Anyway, I tested out my new rain cape but made the mistake of only going for a medium embrocation and knickers instead of donning leg warmers. Turns out that was the only error in clothing. While the embrocation offered a PRO-like sheen, it did not offer a warm cocoon like leg warmers would have. After the ride, my exposed shins were more red than white. Yikes! A post-ride shower only helped a little in removing the redness. Eh well, lesson learned. No more 40F rain rides without all skin covered.

Also, sorry about the huge photo up top, but that's from MTB Nats last year and wanted to share the sweet spectacle toss caught on film. BTW, it was a muddy race. Give me a few more days of appreication and I'll take it down.

all for now.

-the ATM

Monday, March 17, 2008

Strong + Light = Stronglight

So my retro Cannondale cranks pretty much gave up the ghost 5 minutes into the maiden voyage last week at camp. The crank fixing bolts kept backing out as the rides progressed. Upon teardown, I could see how worn the Octalink splines were. Oh well, anyone want to buy a barely used 112.5mm XTR bottom bracket? 1 week old...

As luck would have it, I got a hookup on a set of Stronglight Oxale Two cranks. In fact, I got THE last set of Oxale Two cranks in the US. So you can't have 'em.

As the name suggests they are, indeed, light. Since my coach loves these cranks and he's been known to put out a few dubbyas, I'm going to assume they are, uh, strong.

"But Andy," you ask "with cranks as sick as those, what bottom bracket are you going to use?" Well, my friend, I'll tell you...

But those are words for another post.


-the ATM

Friday, March 14, 2008

Please excuse the mess

As I skimmed through my camp week posts, I was pretty appalled at the lack of quality. Sorry about that. I'm going to attribute most of the substandard quality to the building fatigue throughout the week. The rest of the crap was probably me hurrying to get done since we had to drive to get interweb time and we could only stand about an hour of dropped connections before throwing in the towel. Plus we had to watch the season of Californication in 4 nights.
Anyway, I was going to write a long diatribe about how I sat on the interstate for over 90 minutes (stood, actually - as in feet on the ground) before moving but I decided against. I got home safe, car is unpacked, laundry is done, yada yada.

Might take a few days to recollect and come up with a meaningful post.

-the ATM

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Camp report #4: Welcome to 711

As we were looking at the weather and taking stock of our legs, common sense prevailed. As much as I wanted to and was mentally prepared to ride 711 tomorrow in the rain, I started to remember how much I don't enjoy riding in 40 degrees and rain. Since the plan was to ride around 120 miles, we'd have to leave no later than 9a which is where that whole 40 degrees comes from.
The group took a vote and decided it was best to cut the ride to 70 miles, which meant driving to a nearby town and leaving from there. While it was not the epic day we all wanted, we still got in around 7000ft of climbing and just over 72 miles. The two big payoffs were the Fire Service road 711 and the 5% false flat down to finish the ride which provided for 12 miles of 25 mph at a measly 175W.

The ride to 711 provided some great views, including a great lodge

several crossings of a breathtaking stream,

and a random roadside grazing meadow

Especially since there were about a dozen fly fishers, I could not get the
movie "A River Runs Through It" out of my head. That movie has some seriously powerful scenes (thinking only of the river, not the city stuff).

After we finished up the ride, we headed to what every ride should end with: Mexican. This time it was El Pacifico Restraunte. Mmmmm, enchiladas. They started out with some really sweet chips and, when asked, brought some killer spicy salsa. It was perfect for me - not too spicy but still had kick and had a nice smokey flavor to finish it off. An enchilada and a burrito, plus some spanish rice topped of my belly for the drive home.

All is not lost, though. The weather is supposed to be in the 40s at 7a so we'll get in a nice hour and a half MTB ride before we head out. It may be a little wuss-like but we still got in about 24 hours of seat time. Not too shabby to jump start the season. If nothing less, I got to put my new MTB rig to the test. It passed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Camp report #3: Another one bites the dust

Today started out pretty good; left @ 9a for another MTB ride. It was rather chilly to start out, maybe 40F. I decided to run full leg warmers and several layers up top to fight off the cold. Good choice. I never got too hot as long as I was diligent with unzipping layers when we started to climb.
Sad to report we had another derailleur hanger issue today. Zach did a better job of snapping off his derailleur hanger completely off.

Good thing he's a top notch mechanic. That makes two days of making a makeshift single speed. Today was an advanced challenged since he was riding his Giant Anthem with 3.5" of rear wheel travel. As we were really close to a sweet fire road climb (and thus descent) that Zach wanted to do, we snapped a group photo in the missing man formation to honor him:

The afternoon's road ride was a shorter one where we were targeting around 60 miles. It peaked out on Stecoah Gap at 3165 ft.
The gradient you see is what we climbed, but the descent was just about the same. The road ride seemed to have a universal head wind. This was ok on the descent but I still had to pull around 350W to stay above 40 mph. This was necessary because I had to chase back on the group since I was slow to roll out. You see, mobile phone coverage is non-existent at the village and this was the first time in days we were able to get any signal.
Back to the ride... the road out of Robbinsville had a few rollers but most of it was a false flat down, at least until the climb up to Deal's Gap. I threw down on the climb and won, naturally. I took a "little nature break" at the gas station on the top and came out to an empty parking lot. Apparently they thought I said move on but I didn't. Eh well, I figured a nice solo ride back to the cabin wouldn't be that bad... it's only 11 miles, right?
Wrong. Add in what seemed like a universal headwind and some tired gams to pretty much stink up my chase. I just decided to roll in to save whatever strength I had left for the 1 mile climb back to the village.
I really hope this is my bad day on the bike. It sure felt like it. I think tomorrow will be a semi-easy spin (with this many hills, tho, that may be hard) for a few hours to recover for Friday's epic 7-11 ride with an unpaved service road at the 50 mile mark. Did I mention it will rain? Yeah, that is going to be epic for sure.

I'm beat.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Camp report #2: "I'll put my vagina away"

Or so says Dave Strole:

He said that after we suggested he stay with the group rather than turn around. He was glad he did; we hit some great trails shortly after we changed his mind.

Today was a bit easier than yesterday, mostly in preparation for the upcoming epic Cherahola Skyway with around 10000ft of climbing on tap. We got in 3:30h of MTB ride time, but that was including the one mechanical we had on the day:

The unfortunate thing was that a stick shoved Don's rear derailleur into the spokes so bad it took about 30 minutes to get everything back to almost normal, minus the upper and lower 2 gears. That mechanical came back when the chain didn't like things and twisted the cage into spaghetti. Single speed it is!

Along the way we had some sweet views, punctuated by some killer views:

Basically, the trails were in awesome shape with just a little leaf cover and not too many wet sections. We will definitely have to hit it up at least one more time because we didn't get a chance to climb and thus descend a winding fire road. Can't wait.


-the ATM

Monday, March 10, 2008

Camp report #1

Sunday's drive was super uneventful. The weather conditions at home were quite motivating to get rolling...

I made the drive in just at 6 hours when I expected it to take over 7. I had to do a double take when I was rolling down the road and saw a semi carrying a bit more cargo than expected...

The drive was capped off by a jaunt on the curviest road this side of the Mississippi, Hwy 128. Also known as the Tail of the Dragon. 318 turns in 11 short miles. Sweet.
So we started out today with a nice little 90 minute MTB ride around the camp. It was super chill and a great way to break in the new MTB, which is sweet by the way. A few pics is all I could take, and those were a bit silly, given the terrain.

After that ride we loaded up on some lunch and coffee, then headed out for a 60 mile road ride. Total tally was 64 miles and 5500ft of climbing in just under 4 hours. The out point was the Foothills Parkway which was damned near a perfect steady pitch of around 7% for 6 miles. I was told by coach to drill it on the parkway, so I did. Before we got to the parkway, there was a hella-sweet vista overlooking a dam.

A nice little respite before a 10 minute curvy descent that lead to a few kms of flat. Hang a right and enjoy the climb. As with any out and back (taking the Parkway would have added another 3+ hours to the ride) involving a climb, you pay in to the sweetness bank to have an almost immediate return. After taking a quick pic of the payoff,

we had close to 5 steady minutes of zero cadence at 35 - 40 miles!

Ugh, another monster post and my guys are sweating me to get done, so I'm off.


-the ATM

Friday, March 7, 2008

My new favorite superhero

I previously talked about the Bialetti Moka Express espresso maker I ordered. I got it in the mail on Wednesday so I tried it out for the first time on Thursday, and again this morning.
First impression? Nice little machine that performs very well. The 4 or so shots it makes are fantasmalactic. A side benefit is that I can have a shot of espresso then use the rest to make a killer americano.

To summarize, my new favorite superhero is L'Omino:

-the ATM

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Safe blogging

Occasionally, as part of my job I have to take online training courses. Today's training course covered Careful Internet Communication. As you might guess, the subject matter discusses how best to and how not to communicate via the internet.
The first part of the training talks about an employee who exaggerates some findings of hers in an email. The training module then presents multiple choice of what she should have done.

The correct answer is not (A). I guess that means I can't write about any potential product issues. So don't expect to hear about them here.

This sucks because I find it therapeutic to tell at least one person (or blog) about the bigger things happening in my life.

-the ATM

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Words don't begin to describe my excitement at the prospect of riding today in 50+ degree weather. This means I can expose my lower legs without fear of losing them. The other good news is that it's new kit day.
All of these combined with my team coming down to get in a long road ride with some hills should produce one of the best days for me of the year. I'm sure it won't last on the list very long because camp is only a week away and the weather looks to be headed for the mid-60s

Can't wait!

-the ATM