Tuesday, May 18, 2010

World In My Eyes

I've been meaning to post a bunch of pics I've taken over the last few months for some time now, so enjoy.

This is a picture from a ride we did in January where we ended up on Lake Monroe.  An by on, I mean ON.  The posts you see used to be a 'road' that appeared to be reclaimed by the lake.  The thin ice I was standing on tipped me off to that.  I turned around.

I've had a long term plan to put a small subwoofer in my car to tighten up the bottom end since, for all their virtues, BMW cannot engineer a car stereo.  I think the best attempts were some Harmon/Kardon iterations but they still sounded like muffled garbage.
The challenge here was to install the sub and not lose any storage space since prime directive of the car is to haul bikes and other miscellaneous things that require, uh, space.  Putting a big fat cube in the cargo bay is quite antithetic to that whole notion.
Of course, a small sub requires a small amp, which helps with packaging but still takes up space.  Being mostly virtuous, it turns out my car has some space where some optional electronic modules would mount.  Since said optional modules were not there I opted to install my own.  Once the load floor is installed you can't even tell there's an amp in there.

This brings me to the project I started while watching the Super Bowl.  As I said, space is at a premium so I decided to mock up a box to check for sizing and installation ease.  It worked like a champ because the sub box fit the first time without fuss.  Naturally I didn't take any pictures of it after this stage, but I promise I will.  The last year or two, any project I work on tends to get 90% done to where it's functional then it sits long enough until I get tired of looking at it not finished.  Once I have some spare time I 'll finish upholstering the box and take a few pics so you can see it.  Again, I promise.

Bridal Veil Falls - Dupont Forest, NC.  If you follow my Twitter feed you saw a pic from here.  As I'm sure many (including myself I'm sure) have said, this is where the chase scene from The Last of the Mohicans was filmed.  Not ashamed to say that's a good movie.  Makes it all the better to see first hand the place where it was filmed.
Oh yeah, this and the next few are from our spring training camp.  It was 80 degrees and awesome.

John Rock.  Kinda funny because it's not only a rock, but I'm pretty sure I saw a plaque saying the guy's name for which the rock was named was John Rock, like "hey, that's John Rock's rock"
Unfortunately my camera was my phone and autofocus picked the trees on which to focus.  Eh, you get the gist.

Beautiful waterfall on the descent down Butter Gap.

"Now it's a ride!" Not sure when, but somewhere on the descent down Black, I did that.  As I see it, this is the best kind of cut to have; it doesn't hurt but there's blood so you can say it was a good ride.

Another car project more born out of necessity.  The rear windscreen wiper seized on my car, which illustrated to me exactly how much I need a rear windscreen wiper.
I ordered everything to replace except the one part that was really rusted solid so I got to drive around for a week with duct tape on my car to cover the hole it left in case of rain.  The edges were cut with scissors, not ragged tears so it looked like it was supposed to be there.

I'm also not ashamed to admit that.

That big ring of rust is not supposed to be there.  After 30 minutes of wailing on the spindle with a BFH, I decided to count my lucky starts for not having missed the spindle only to connect with the rear glass, so I had to cut away at the metal bracket from underneath.  I guess you could say I'm getting wise in my old age.

I just think this is a neat picture.  I suppose its like most pictures from vacations and such in that they remind you of your time spent wherever the pic was taken.  In this case, when I left my house to commute from Bloomington to Columbus at 5:30a it was 38 freaking degrees.  If my car had been in the garage I would have without a doubt driven in to work, but I drove in to work the day before and ridden home after work, so my car was 45 miles away.  Instead, the only option was to man up and ride, so I did.  Did a few intervals, too.  Parenthetically I don't recommend threshold intervals 60 minutes after waking up.
Anyhoo, along the way, there was much fog and temps were up to around 40, so the leading edges were pelted with water vapor, but not enough to form drops and drip down.  The result was that my brake and head tube, along with shins were perfect magnets to collect road dust.  On the last 20 min of the ride, once the sun came up, the dust dried to what you see here.  Pretty cool, but it didn't matter that night - I still washed my bike.

In other news, as much as I may like the house we're renting, I'm really getting tired of not owning it.  The house has a nice layout but there's so much I look at and want to fix/change that it has me longing for another house I can call my own.
Of course, before this happens I need to sell my house in Columbus.  This is proving more difficult that I thought.  Yeah yeah, economy and housing market blah blah blah, I'm not buying that excuse - there are plenty of houses that are on the market for a freaking week.  If they're going that fast people still want houses.  From the discussions I've had with my real estate agent I've decided people are just plain stupid.  Not dumb - S T U P I D.  To decide to buy a house based on the color of the wall, not the brand new furnace that will last the next 20 years completely blows my mind.
Anyway, I need to stop thinking about it.  I'm pretty sure this situation has given me the headache I've had for the last 3 days.

So with that, I'm out.

-the Mexler

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sweetest Perfection

For many years now I've structured my season around July so that I could have a good race at MTB Nats.  This worked out well, especially in 2008 when I took second at Mt Snow in Vermont.  Even before that race I somehow bonded with that course and it has become one of my favorites - some really good climbs along with some insane rocky rooted out descents.
Anyway, the down side to this is that I've never had really great spring races.  Sure I've had pretty good results but never great results.  Top 10s, top 5s but never really having the chutzpah to make the podium and feel content with how I did my race.  This has meant there have been plenty of time spent towards the end of the race when I was racing by myself, with waning motivation only to beat myself up later because I would lose a bit of time from lap to lap and end up with positive splits.  At least for me, when I don't get the positional finish I want I look for ways to make myself feel better.  Positive splits do not make me feel better about a race effort.
For this year I decided to put more emphasis on early season form since racing into July kinda peeters out with only a few MTB races on into August.  Of course now with cyclocross taking more emphasis and starting in mid-September, it's a little hard to wind down from a peak then quickly wind back up for a solid cross season while still having the motivation to race (and more importantly train) when the late fall hits and the weather turns to shit.  Since I have really never had a great race at the DINO series opener at Winona Lake, I set my sights on it as really wanting to podium, perhaps even take the W.  Signs were pointing to a good execution of plan when I had a good showing at the PRO race wave of the SERC series at Tsali trails in Bryson City, NC a few weeks back plus good sensations at the DRT Brown County State Park Hesitation Point time trial (minus the mechanical mishap...), but one never knows until the finish line is crossed.
After a week of great weather the trail reports were that they were blazing fast and ultra dry, but reports were calling for some pretty nasty storms the night before.  Usually at Winona the magic mud sheds water well, but the pre-ride showed otherwise.  I decided to switch to the mud tires to avoid potential issues then headed off to toe the line.
Throughout the first lap the lead group of 4, including, and being pulled by my teammate/coach/friend/business partner/all-around good guy Don put some serious time into the rest of the pack.  About 2/3 of the way into lap 1 a crash whittled us down to 3.  Starting into lap 2 another crash left Don and me 20 seconds up on 3rd place so we tried to hold a steady high pace.  Alas it was not to be since Matt Battin was in 3rd and he was, as he generally can, able to close the gap.  With Matt now leading into the third and final lap, Don caught a root and yard sale'd, forcing me to stop for a second while Matt rolled up the trail.  Once I got going again I was pleased with how quickly I calmed down and set about closing the gap.  It took some time but I brought it back, then went to the front to set the pace.  Matt and I were pretty even except on the climbs where I seemed to have just a bit more, so I rode to stay in front as well as ride my own race.  Towards the end I sprinted hard out of a sharp corner and got a few seconds, then kept attacking up the series of short hills that ended up getting about a 10 second gap.  There was only one minor panic moment with lapped riders, through no fault of theirs, where there was no room to pass so I had to wait what seemed like an eternity for an opportunity to get around.  It all worked out and Matt was far enough back that my small lead was preserved.  I carried this through the remaining bit of trail to post up for the win.
So I feel pretty good to have achieved the first of my season goals and I guess this is where I have to resist adding too many new goals trying to cash in on my good form.  While I can't say it was a perfect day for the team result we wanted it was pretty damned close since Don was able to recover from his crash to hold on to 3rd place and consolation prize of fairly deep gash on his leg.  I can say, however, it felt pretty close to perfection to be able to ride a strong race in its entirety then seal the deal in the waning minutes to grab a victory at a target race, and that is pretty sweet.


the Mexler