Monday, July 28, 2008

Instant Gratification

I know how to ride a bike - I swear. Yet another crash in yet another race led to yet another chase. I really need to learn how to make these hole shots I keep getting Todd Wells stylie count.
This crash ranks pretty high on the dipshit scale. I somehow managed to clip my 23" wide handlebars on a tree that was 36" away from the tree on the other side of the trail. It sure was a doosey... I flew over the bars and assumed the fetal position lest I get clipped by the chasing pack of 6 fast guys. After I felt safe, I jumped back to my bike to survey the damage and remove my bars from Don's wheel. You see, Don was right behind me and assumed I would be able to ride my bike. Silly boy.
Reinstall chain and commence chase. I must have been pretty close to making the bride but dug pretty deep to get there and had to recover a bit. Never quite made it and started to slow a bit on lap 3 to make sure I could have a strong finish. I ended just over 3 minutes off wining pace, set by none other than Semi-Pro Don. If I hadn't dropped my chain, I totally would have been there. I think.
I was pleased with my effort and wished I had the data. You see, the bar mount for the head unit worked it's way loose in the crash and did a number on the connector, rendering the unit worthless for race data. At least it still works.

So after a faster than usual ceremony, I talked the crew into a post race dinner. What else? Mexican. Two important things were discussed:
(1)You can't really consider yourself a mountain biker if you don't at least want Mexican after a race or even ride.
(2)Tortilla chips and salsa. You're generally hungry after a race, and chips are a great form of Instant Gratification.

-the ATM

Sunday, July 20, 2008

So close…. Ever so close

may be 'just another race' but it was still big enough to bust out white, white, white
After my call up for being #2 Expert in the country, Dave B (whom I had met a few weeks earlier at the AMBC on the July 4th weekend) took his #3 call up and we exchanged good lucks before the gun. Based on how he rode at the AMBC race and his better-at-updating-people-than-me blogging he’d done, I wanted to make sure I kept my eye on him. He reeked of top notch form for sure. That didn’t change the fact that I wanted the hole shot.

Dave B #3 and me #2, 35 sec before Work
So I took it. I simply wanted to put some sting in everybody’s legs. After a quick descent the first big climb came up and I settled into my own pace. Not wanting to blow after a lap or two, I watched the two leaders of my group climb away.
There was almost 10 solid minutes of descending, east coast style - all kinds of roots and rocks that snake down the mountain. For some reason, I seem to have a retard switch on this trail that allows me to descend like a stone. My older brother’s sage advice kept playing in my head throughout the day – brakes only slow you down. I was picking off lots of back markers so I kept pushing the downhill pace. This turned out to not be a good idea for the entire descent because I took a pretty sharp digger into some roots that gave my knee/shin/hip some witness marks.
the straight lines mask the actual squiggly trail

I’ll spare you the picture of my outer hip
After remounting, I rode fairly stupid for a little bit while I regained my composure and got my leg back working at full strength.
Starting into the meat of L3 climbing I saw P2 ahead of me and he was suffering. What was a 30 second gap at the start line had come down to 10 seconds pretty quickly. Once I passed him I never looked back. I was motoring whenever possible in the hopes that P1 would come into my sight – Nope. I crossed the line 2nd, nearly 4 minutes back. Dammit.

While it burns my ass that I didn’t quite reach my goal, I still had a fantastic race. And I still got some hardware even if it is the wrong color.

Big up to Dave B for showing that the Midwest knows how to ride a bike.

So now it’s one or two more MTB races, then heavy on the crits as training for ‘cross. Because, um, my new wheels are sweet, and Cross Vegas will be here in no time.

-the ATM


I've determined that I can't come up with a short post, so I'll have to break it up. Race report to follow.

I started training this January with a little something to prove since I didn’t have a good showing at 2007 Nats. Much as last year, the jersey was my season goal. Sure, I wanted to have some good results along the way but nothing really mattered except Nats. After two crashes sent my race Tango Uniform last year, I was quite wrecked mentally for the next 6 weeks...So much work for 23rd place -->one spot away from DFL.
As the time drew nearer to ‘the day,’ I was trying to understand how I felt. On Thursday I was able to pull it all together: There was really nothing more that I could do. I’d give everything I could give and take whatever I’d get. A few months back I committed to myself that I’d take my Semi-Pro upgrade after Nats and this, without even realizing it, took a huge burden off my mind. This was further reinforced when I went to sleep the night before the race and didn’t have my typical hour of nervous tossing and turning before a big race.
Anyway, back on task. As I pulled into staging, my dad and asked if I was nervous or worried. Nope. It was just another race - A very big ‘just another race’ but just another, nonetheless. Time to, as Big Black says, do work.

-the ATM

Friday, July 18, 2008

Welcome to Vermont

Damn, New York is a long state. Really long. It took about 8 hours to drive through, and it dragged on and on.
Anyway, once we settled into our lodging it was a bit of interweb surfing then lights out. Woke up this am to get a little preride in on the 90% different course than what I've ridden the last two years. I like the new course - could do without the fresh cut opening section, tho. I like last year's separator/opening climb better. More of a powerman's climb then small single track section. No matter, good stuff all around. The descents are S-A-H-W-E-E-T. Ultra gnar-gnar with lots of rocks and roots. There are even a few rocky punch climbs that have 'big ring' stamped all over them.
So now I'm in the room, just chillaxin'. The legs are trained, the bike is dialed, and on Wednesday just before I left even got a sweet Oakley hook-up in the form of red ear socks to compliment my white chrome Radar frames. Getting ready to head out for lunch, then come back for a nap and a movie.

I kinda like being lazy.

-the ATM

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Not too shabby

Even though I probably didn't really get hoops custom made for me, I'm going to pretend like I did. I mean, how many of you have your names on your wheels?

I'm still waiting for the correct length spokes to show this weekend for the rear wheels, but that didn't stop me from building up the fronts.
That, among other things were done this weekend, making me hella productive for the extendo weekend. First off was a wash/clay bar/polish/wax job on my car that was woefully overdue. I'd been putting it off since it generally takes 2 days to finish since you have to tape the trim so as not to require a day to removed extra polish, etc.
For whatever reason, I was on it and only took a day. The paint is now smooth like buttah!
That gave me plenty of time on Saturday to wake up sans alarm, make some pancakes, get in the rough lacing of one wheel, open up the legs with a ride for an hour, then come back and finish building both wheels. They were surprisingly easy to true and didn't require much in the way of adjustment after relieving spoke tension. Can't wait to ride 'em!
I even got to watch The Prestige, which, if you've not seen, you should. Not so much a magic show as a psychological thriller with some crazy twists.
Sunday was my last MTB race before Nats in two weeks, so I wanted to have a strong ride. Good thing I have a power meter to record data because I wasn't feeling so awesome about my result (7th). Went out a little too hard and thought I paid for it, but looking at the data I probably had my best race of the season. Fancy that.
Finished my weekend with a cookout at a friend's place.

all for now.

-the ATM

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sweet, sassy!

Whew! I needed that. My last several races have not exactly shown the form I felt I have, and as it turns out put me into a bit of a funk. It was a little deceiving because it wasn't any one thing - just little bits and pieces that kept innocently piling up.
Anyhoo, with the planned MTB stage race postponed due to rain, I decided to do an OMBC race outside of Cincy. This was good because I was not spending the entire weekend away. This allowed me to spend an afternoon with my newest time distraction. More on that in a minute.
I was able to bridge to the two who launched uphill from the gun, and pip them for the hole shot into the single track after a lengthy road section. This was key since I had maybe 15 minutes of trail time, and the trail was definitely challenging - lots of sections that started to flow but then turned right. It took me two laps to get the flow, so my first two laps were not smooth at all. So unsmooth that I washed out of corners 2 times and clipped my pedal twice. End result was 3 spills and one dropped chain.
The road section was a blessing in disguise, even with a stiff headwind because I could flat drill it and make up some time. Heading into the third lap, I caught the 2nd place guy and let him make pace until I sensed we were getting reeled in by 4-7th. Naturally after I took over it was game over, and we cruised away. A long grinder proved to be my unintended launch pad, as I gapped the guy. Darn the luck, anyway. I ended up 90 sec down from 1st and 30 sec up on 3rd, so job done. I definitely had to earn it and felt good about my performance. A nice motivational shot in the arm heading into a few mui importante' races. OH, and all 3 laps were within 20 seconds of each other. That's 1% for those keeping track.

So back to my Saturday distraction...

I even got them laced up, only to find I got some bad info and the spokes I had were about 2mm too long. So I got to break them back down. Sweet. Anyway, I'm working on the correct length so I should be able to have them built up by next week. Seeing as they are tre' pimp, I will be ever-so-unPRO and rock a set of tubulars on the very first ride they are glued up. Poseur status be damned. They're too sweet to leave bottled up... 1400g for an aero wheelset? Yep, thank you very much.
Two sets, you may ask? Why cyclocross, silly. But having that sweetness hang in my garage for two months without using a set for road borders on sacrilege. Besides, I did have to sell my wonderfully awesome Shamals to cover these wheels, so it's only right that I get to use them.

That's all for now.

-the ATM