December 20, 2011

Check it Out!

The 2012 bikes are here! Below is the Scott Scale 29er RC in Extra Large, coming in at about 21 lbs, with some modifications. Other team members will be racing the redesigned full suspension Spark in 26er and 29er versions.

The Polar Bottles will keep our water from freezing on cold rides this winter.

The ESI Chunky grips will keep our hands happy.

Winter Training with Mike and Dylan

Mike, new Scott team recruit Dylan Johnson, and I have been riding parts of the Montgomery County Epic Loop in Montgomery County, Maryland the past two Sundays.  The MoCo Epic is on IMBA's registry of epic rides and it doesn't disappoint.  Just a few miles from DC, you can find a 60 mile circuit of great singletrack.

This past weekend, we got in almost 50 miles and 4.5 hours of nearly all singletrack riding at a solid endurance pace.  It's great to be cruising along in the cold weather, keeping up a good endurance pace and flying through the trails that are now mostly cleared of fallen leaves.

We started out from Schaeffer Farms in Germantown, MD and took the new Schaeffer Ridge Trail, a 4-5 mile section of trail the local trail building/advocacy group MORE built over the past year.  It's awesome!


November 29, 2011

Season Closer - Cypress Bend Resort - Louisiana State Championship Series

Over the past Thanksgiving weekend, I headed to Louisiana to the Cypress Bend Resort in Many, LA for the final stop of the Louisiana State Championship Series.

The Battle at the Bend was a killer 6 mile loop with 1000 ft of climbing per lap -- at three laps equals an epic race. Who knew LA had that type of terrain?!

The race went as smooth as it can go for extending the race season an extra 2 months.

I ended up 2nd and the resort and race promoter, Kerry, were top notch.  They really made this kid from the north feel right at home.

Also check out the cool PR release following the race:

"In fact, The “Battle at the Bend” racetrack, Hercules, features a 6.1-mile loop with 1,000 feet of grueling climbs and downhill elevation changes typically seen in famous mountain bike destinations such as Colorado.

“This is something you’d find in northeast Vermont or other locales known for very challenging mountain bike courses. I would never have imagined Louisiana would have this terrain, but I will definitely be back next year to battle Hercules,” said pro rider and World-Cup finisher John Arias of New Jersey."

- John

November 05, 2011

Cyclocross Season

Cam has been having a great fall cyclocross season, winning in West Virginia and placing well in the UCI events.  John has also gotten into cross this year, making his debut at last weekend's snowy and muddy UCI race in New Jersey.  I jumped into the packed DC-area cross racing and have been having fun at the party-like atmosphere of the local races.

We've been riding the Addict CX, a lightweight carbon frame and fork.  I have an aluminum Team CX as well, but like the carbon bike so much more.

 Here are a few shots of John at last weekend's NJ race:

- Jeff

Iceman Cometh - Michigan - November 5

Good luck to Ross this weekend at the mtb season closer, the Iceman Cometh, in Michigan.  Scottie is also there with the Scott van and is at the trade show, showing off the new bikes.  If you're there, make sure to stop by and say hi!

October 27, 2011

Good Luck to Nathaniel at Collegiate Nationals in New Mexico

Nathaniel had a stellar first collegiate season this fall, riding for UMass-Amherst, and qualified to race at the national collegiate championships held at Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico on October 28-30

It looks like it could be a snowy race:

I did a collegiate nationals like this one in 2001 at Plattekill in NY and it was a pure race of attrition that we New Englanders are good at surviving (I ended up third overall in the omnium, even with a broken leg in the downhill).

A few shots of Nathaniel this fall:

Good luck to him in New Mexico!

- Jeff

September 22, 2011

Shooting with a Pro - Scott Product Launch 2012

Check out some of the high quality photos Scott Wilson is in from the 2012 Scott product launch in Sun Valley, Idaho from this photo shoot with Adrian Montgomery of Scott and two professional photographers.

Here's a taste of some of the shots:

Photo Credit -
Morgan Taylor and Scott Markewitz
Photo Credit -
Morgan Taylor and Scott Markewitz

Photo Credit -
Morgan Taylor and Scott Markewitz

H2H Chainstretcher - A Win and a Fifth Place

The Chainstretcher
September 18, 2011
Peekskill, NY

Congratulations to Ross Anderson for his win this past weekend in the master's division of the Chainstretcher at the H2H series held in Peekskill, NY.  Ross holds a commanding lead in the season series.

John also picked up a 5th place finish in the Pro/Open category and is in 4th overall for the season series, close behind 3rd place, with three races left to go this season.

MASS Series Finals - A Win, a Second and a Third, Plus an Overall Series Win

Mid Atlantic Super Series Finals
Bear Creek Resort, PA
September 17, 18

This past weekend was the finals of the MASS series, the premier mountain bike series in the Mid-Atlantic region.

(credit to Joe Liston for photos)
Aaron had a screamingly fast day, taking the lead from the start and never looking back for the win, avenging last weekend's close second place to Brandon Draugelis in the Coal Cracker Classic.

Cam also was flying, coming in a close third in the open/pro category and Jay was second in the Master's race in a tight finish.

 Aaron also had time to help out with the kids race.

 A great way to finish off the season!

Results are available here:  

For the season, Aaron won the overall Pro/Open series and Cam was 7th in the Pro/Open category.  The team also ended up 4th overall for small teams (10 or fewer riders).  Congratulations to all on a fine season!

September 12, 2011

Coal Cracker Classic

September 11, 2011
Tamaqua, PA
Conditions: drying out after 10 inches of rain the week before
Riders: Aaron, Mike, Jeff

Following a 4am wakeup, I headed to Maryland to pick up Mike and we drove the 3.5 hours to central PA to race in the Coal Cracker Classic, a race on private land near (or maybe on?) abandoned coal mines.  The race had some of the hardest and most challenging singletrack I've encountered in the MASS series and reminded me of the trails I grew up riding in New Hampshire.

The course started with a newly cut singletrack trail up the side of a mountain.  It was loose, rooty and wet.  After that initial 1 mile climb, it flattened out onto a long fireroad along a ridgeline and dropped back into tough rocky singletrack that seemed to go forever.  Finally, the course dropped back down the ridgeline and into some cool singletrack that followed the natural terrain features.  While advertised as 22 miles, I recorded about 17 miles of riding (or in my case, riding and hiking).

After a 25 minute delay at the start due to local kids removing or re-routing trail signs, we got started.  On the first climb I realized I hadn't warmed up very well and was in a world of hurt while trying to follow Aaron, Brandon Draguelis and Kevin Carter.  I hit my rear derailleur on a rock and lost the upper three gears on my cassette; the two gears I really needed for that climb.  About a half mile into the climb, I passed Aaron who was working to remove his chain from where it had gotten jammed between his spokes and cassette.  It was really wedged and took him 2 minutes to free.  From there, the course went up a newly cut trail that was loose and wet.  I've been riding too much easy singletrack as of late and had some trouble keeping my momentum on the trail (I finally got back into the swing of things after 30 minutes).

Aaron passed me at the top of the climb, just before an unridable section of trail that went throught the middle of a "V" shaped tree. 

Immediately thereafter, I hit a rock that tore a 3 inch hole in the sidewall of my tires (I was running some older tires with bigger knobs today, not my normal tires with good sidewall protection).  The flat took me nearly 10 minutes to fix after sealing the hole with a GU wrapper.  I watched the whole elite field pass me, then the senior expert field, then the masters expert field and just as I was finishing the repair, the singlespeed class passed me.

I passed a bunch of people on the ridgeline fireroad, but not enough before the turn-off to a long section of rocky, muddy singletrack.  I ended up running up most of the climbs to pass people as I couldn't use my low gears.  The trail was definitely tough and offered little opportunities to get something to eat or drink.

After a seemingly endless series of challenging rocks, the trail opened back up into another fireroad that led back down the mountain via some crazy steep descents and onto some smoother singletrack that included lots of steep drops and short climbs.  I got into a good rhythm and saw a few people ahead of me.  I caught one, but the race ended as I was getting close to passing some more.  Despite the delay for missing trail signage, the course was well marked and easy to follow.

Aaron nearly won the race, finishing second while clawing back all but 57 seconds on Brandon.  Mike rode a great race to finish 5th and was closing in on 4th when he ran out of trail at the finish.

Aaron 2nd, Mike 5th
I ended up 14th out of 18.  Not bad considering my mechanical failure.  Results are available here.  This is a race I'd like to do again next year, but I'll bring some bigger tires with stouter sidewalls...

Here's my file from the race from

- Jeff

September 08, 2011

Shenandoah Mountain 100

September 5, 2011
Rider: Jeff Dickey
Conditions: Hot, humid, and slightly muddy
Place: 26th (24th in the open men's category)

I returned to the SM100 this year after getting worked over last year (double flat and bonking, resulting in a 15 minute aid-station stop to eat a bunch of pizza) and hoped that knowing the course layout would serve me well.  At least this year I knew that the "Death Climb" truly did end.  I also did some research on to see what other riders had done on the various climbs, how long and steep the climbs were and thought about what I needed to do to get over them.

I haven't been doing any structured training since early June and have been relying on racing and hard training rides to maintain fitness.  That kind of fell apart after traveling a lot for work (along with eating while on the road) and other work-related pressures, as well as the cancellation of various races due to weather problems.  So, I was a bit nervous coming into this race as I hadn't done anything to really prepare for it and I was hoping to just survive and enjoy myself.  My race strategy was not to go out too hard and ride an easy tempo on each of the climbs to avoid going too far into the red.

I've done a few 100 mile events, but Shenandoah is the most fun one I've attended.  The pre-race pasta/beer feed makes for a great atmosphere and fits right in with seeing many friends over the holiday weekend.  Camping Saturday before the race and Sunday after the race limits travel time and also adds to the sense of community at the event, something I missed at other events like the Leadville 100.

I'd replaced most of the wear-and-tear parts prior to the Breckenridge 100 in July and so my bike was ready to go.  Also, I've been running Maxxis Ikon tires since the Breck 100 and invested in the extra-heavy EXO sidewall version (worth the extra gram weight penalty). They fit incredibly well on a set of Stan's Crest rims and inflate easily with just a floor pump (all tires should work this well!).  Plus, they hold air unlike any other tire I've used.  I last inflated the tires in July and they held nearly the same pressure through September.

At 5:00am on the morning of the race, the SM100 campgrounds were awoken by Chris Scott, the organizer, riding through the tent city banging on a gong.  A unique way to wake up!  After gulping some exceptionally strong coffee (thanks to some retired Marines I was camping with), the race started around 6:30 just as it was getting light.  The pack of 700 or so riders headed off for a long day of riding in the George Washington National Forest

The start at sunrise (photo thanks to Shenandoah Mountain Touring)

On the first climb of the day, a fire road with a steadily increasing grade, I had to back off the leaders as my legs hadn't yet warmed up (and I had a few moments of throwing up - not a good way to start the day...).  At the top of the climb, I found myself in a group of 5-6 awesome riders, including Garth Prosser, Patrick Miller and Ryan McKinney.  We rolled along to the first section of fireroad and Ryan set off on a blistering 29mph pace, stringing us out behind him.  The group worked well and after a few rotations at the front to keep the pace up, we picked up 5-8 more riders, including Ian Spivak and his DCMTB teammate.

We motored along to the start of the Briery Branch ascent, a great singletrack climb, but with so many riders, it turned into a game of follow the wheel in front of you. At least this kept my pace slow and measured.  After the long ascent, we flew down the awesome Wolf Ridge trail.  The descent was as good as riding the Colorado Trail out west with nicely constructed singletrack winding through the woods.

Once back to the main fireroad, I found myself alone with Garth Prosser, who proceeded to set a wicked tempo that quickly ramped up my HR.  I didn't want to follow his wheel because I was having flashbacks to 2010 where I'd blown myself up on the same stretch of road, trying to catch up to the leaders after a double flat tire.  So, I backed off and rode along at my own tempo to the base of the Hankey Mountain climb.  I knew from Strava that it should take about 45 minutes from the base to the summit of the climb (a 5 mile, 1,600 vertical foot ascent) and settled in to an easy tempo on the muddy road.  Before I knew it, I was at the summit and catching some riders.

The descent down Dowell's Draft to aid station #3 was fast and fun and made up for the long grind up the mountain.  I stopped at the aid station to say hello to Laura (she was volunteering at the aid station - great to see her there!) fill up on more nuun, grab some more GU and gummi worms and get some more water.

Filling up for the next sections of trail
It took me a little bit to get my food and water together and some riders passed me.  Unfortunately, I headed out on the next section of paved road without any other riders to work with, so I took it easy, ate a bunch of food and waited until I was caught shortly before the next climb.

Despite eating a lot, I started to bonk on the steep and rocky ascent of Braley's.  I was having trouble keeping my HR up at a tempo pace and my focus was drifting.  A few riders passed me and I had to walk a few short sections of rocks.  Luckily, I started to feel better on the descent and caught and passed Ian Spivak again (he went by me on the next climb) and cruised along to aid station #4.  I filled up with a lot of Coke and more nuun and ate a sandwich as reinforcements for the upcoming 2+ hours of climbing up the Death Climb.  I would be climbing from about mile 57 of the race to mile 83 of the race and the day was getting hot.

As I was exiting the aid station, one of the Trek 29er Crew, Dan Atkins, caught up with me on the paved road section of the Death Climb and we worked together for a bit until I bonked (again) and had to let him ride away.  After recovering for a few minutes, Pat Miller and another of the Trek 29er Crew caught up to me and I had recovered enough to start working with them.

We eventually formed a group of four, me and the three Trek riders, and we worked well to get up the never-ending road climb.  As we made the hard right turn to the steep Reddish Knob climb, I could feel another bonk coming on (yet again) and hoped to make it to the next aid station before I cracked completely, so I maintained a constant HR up the climb and rode a pace that wasn't too hard, but would get me to the summit.

Unfortunately, I ran out of water with 3 miles remaining of the climb.  The day had turned hot and I was starting to get some dehydration-related cramps and so I had to back off my pace and a bunch of riders passed me.  I could feel the sun burning me through my helmet and my face was getting sunburned too, all leading to a feeling of fatigue. I thought I was much closer to the aid station than I really was and kept looking for it around each bend in the road.  Mentally, that took a toll on me and I slowed down even more.

I finally got to aid station #5, I inhaled a lot of food and water and refilled my pockets with more GU. I was pretty cooked by this point and it showed.  When heading up a small hill to exit the aid station, one of the spectators encouraged me not to get off my bike and walk that section because I would have been the first to do so all day.  Ouch. I really wanted to walk that section, too...

After the aid station, the climb ground on indefinitely.  I had heard that there were 16 or 17 meadows on the next section and that they screwed with your head as they all looked the same.  Upon entering each meadow,  you thought you were at the summit, only to be disappointed.  I decided to count down the meadows, and I'm glad I did as it gave me something to focus on other than the cramping in my hamstrings.  I counted off: 1 meadow down, 15 to go; 2 meadows down, 14 to go; etc. At 16 (or maybe it was 17, I wasn't thinking very clearly) meadows, the entrance appeared to the 7 mile single track descent down Chestnut Ridge.

The downhill was scary fast and I slowly started to lose my front brake due to overheating.  Thankfully, I was able to retain just enough braking to get me to the bottom.  Along the way, I passed several EMTs assisting Michael Simonson, who had crashed heavily on the descent while in the top 5 of the race.  A full-blown rescue was under way to get him out of the woods with more EMTs and paramedics hiking up the trail to assist him.

After the descent, I met up with Laura who was waiting for me at aid station #6.  So good to see her just before the finish!  She'd run 12 miles that morning to aid station #3 and was planning to run back to the finish (another 4 miles). Her words of encouragement got me to the finish as I kept repeating them over and over in my head.

Still smiling after 90 miles and lots of bonking
After a quick photo and some more Coke and Swedish Fish, I headed out for the final 8 miles to the finish, up and over two last climbs and a long descent/fireroad to the finish.

I kept a steady pace up the first part of Hankey Mountain and passed one rider.  I was hurting even more at this point, but he was in a similar state.  We were both so cooked we could only grunt at each other in passing, but I think we knew what the other was going through.

The never-ending fireroad after the Hankey climb was just about the end of me, but I hung on for dear life and eventually got to the finishing singletrack.  I was happy to get to the finish and beat last year's time by over 30 minutes for 26th place overall.  Not bad for bonking at 3-4 times, throwing up, and coming into the race without much training!

Relaxing at the finish - happy to be done!

Here's my ride on Strava (I screwed up at the start and hit the wrong button - I was 8 miles into the race before I realized I hadn't started recording):

Other local riders did very well.  Kevin Carter, who I'd raced with a bunch this past summer, caught the lead group at the beginning of the race and hung on strong through the Death Climb to finish 4th.  Dylan Johnson, 15 years old, finished 2nd in the singlespeed race (and was only a few minutes behind me, despite flatting).  10 year old Adam Croft beat many other riders and looked fresh at the finish; he reported that he had a much better time on the downhills than last year!

The post-race party following a swim in the river was lots of fun with tons of food, very good beer from race sponsor Heavy Seas (they make a great porter),  homemade limoncello and far too much wine and bourbon. I'll be back next year.

Results can be found here: along with more photos.

Next up for me is the east coast adventure racing championships.

- Jeff

August 29, 2011

Devil's Backbone Mountain Cross

August 27, 2011
Devil's Backbone Mountain Cross
Conditions: In the midst of a tropical storm
Place: 5th

After a week of work travel in 109 degree temperatures and returning Friday night to face the possibility of Hurricane Irene and the cancellation of the D&Q Summer Sizzler, I decided to get up at 3am on Saturday morning to drive to Wintergreen Resort to race/ride in the Devil's Backbone Mountain Cross as preparation for next week's Shenandoah 100 mountain bike race.  I used to live near the location of the race while I was in law school and had ridden some of the roads the race was going over, including one of my favorite climbs up Irish Creek Gap.  I have a vivid recollection of riding one of the roads (Cub Creek) while hallucinating from dehydration during a 120+ mile ride in 100+ degree heat.  I wanted to see if the road was as bad as I remembered (it was worse).

Per the race description, "Any bike will do. A Cyclocross bike is the best tool for the job. However, a road bike will also work, but mount up some puncture resistant tires! Mountain bikes would be comfortable, especially on the dirt road descents. Whatever bike you choose make sure you have some low gears for the 6600 ft. of elevation gain and some 17+% grades!" I figured I'd give my Scott Addict RC a try for this ride as it was 50% dirt roads, 50% paved roads and mounted some 23c Continental Gator Hardshell tires with Spin Skin tire liners and tubes filled with Stan's sealant and put on a 12x25 cassette.  Definitely not the right equipment for the job...

After a long, early morning drive, I arrived to fairly good weather.  But, as soon as I got out on the bike, it started to pour and rained off and on for the rest of the day.  On the first climb of the day, an 11% wall, I felt the 1,000 miles of driving I did the week before and had to fall off the pace of the 12-15 person lead groups.  After a hair-raising descent on the first dirt road section (two wheel drifts through each of the corners on loose gravel), and a fast climb up the second dirt road section, I caught back on to the lead group just as we were about to turn onto a 9-12 mile dirt road climb.

My narrow tires dug into the dirt on the roads and I couldn't follow the pace of the leaders again and settled into a comfortable tempo pace for the climb as it got steeper and rockier.  At one point, I thought I took a wrong turn as the road turned into a narrow, rocky jeep track that I could barely climb with my road gearing (39x25), but I didn't have much choice as I'd also forgotten to swap out my road shoes and pedals (waking at 3am isn't the best for remembering everything).

After a short section on the Blue Ridge Parkway and a well stocked rest-stop, I had a fast downhill on Irish Creek road and a never-ending climb up Nettle Creek and back onto the Parkway. for a stretch back to the rest-stop.  By this point, Irene had kicked into full force, with strong winds and blinding rain.  Tree limbs were falling on the road and I was hit on the head/back with one (another good reason to wear a helmet!).

I caught up with a few riders in front of me when I hit the rest-stop and teamed up with a fellow from the Haymarket team.

We flew down the dirt North Fork Road descent, hitting 35+ mph in the rain and mud, jumping over rocks and drifting through corners while passing other riders who had flatted or were taking the downhill at a safer (and more sane) pace.

I hit the final climb of the day, Cub Creek, where I'd had a meltdown 10 years ago while on a ride to escape law school.  The ascent was every bit as bad as I remembered. Just before the start of the uphill, I fell off the pace of my two riding companions when I  came around a blind corner, slid through 2-inch deep gravel, nearly hit a parked car and just I just got things straightened out to squeak by an oncoming truck. 

With my heart in my throat, I hit the final climb.  The road surface was soft due to the rain and I couldn't stand up (or get off and run because of my road shoes) and had to pedal while seated with a very low RPM (like at 25rpm). Thankfully my knees survived and I caught up to the two riders who were ascending just in front of me. I outsprinted them at the finish for 5th place for a satisfying finish and a good training day.

Jeremiah Bishop won the ride/race easily; it seems as if this was his last day of training before heading to Switzerland for the World Championships this week.

You can see my ride on Strava here (though I think my GPS was off - the total climbing was more like 6,600 feet):

While my bike choice was not the best for muddy roads and jeep trails (I really need to get a cross bike), the tire choice was awesome for flat prevention. A lot of riders got flats during this ride and the flat-resistant Continental tires, plus Stan's filled tubes and tire liners were indestructible and something I'll probably use for the rest of the fall and winter with a set of MKS fenders.

- Jeff

August 15, 2011

Keeping Busy...

Great Race today Ross and I went 1 and 2 today at a local race where we call it the Monmouth County World Championships. Ross and I crushed it and I won with Ross in a planned 2nd place, thanks Ross. We had a 4 min gap ahead of 3rd place. Great warm up for for Kenda Cup.


June 26, 2011


Last weekend I finally had a respectable finish in an Elite field, 14th out of 25 starters. EFTA's "The Pinnacle" is a race I've wanted to do for a while, but I always had final exams get in the way. This year I got to race and everything was perfect. The weather (sunny, 70s, low humidity) was great and my bike and body cooperated. The big climb was over before I knew it and the decent was AWESOME. When you are having fun, you forget how much pain you are in and just keep going. No pictures have surfaced, however, I did pass Colin Reuter at the start and he got it on video.

Pinnacle Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Look to the right while still in the field. I passed him just so I could be famous on the internet. Colin, if you didn't know, is King of the Internet.


June 22, 2011

Guy's Neshaminy Classic 2011

Overall a great race for Scott RC mountain bike team... We had 3 riders in the top 5 (in the elite category)... Jeff Dickey was 5th, Cam Dodge 3rd and Aron Snyder 2nd.

June 08, 2011

My First Road Race (sort of)

EFTA's Big Ring Rumpus is a crit on dirt. 100% fire road, almost no elevation change, 7 4 mile is a road crit...but it's on dirt.

I figured this race would be good exercise, it is a pure fitness course - there is no hiding.

I was the only Junior and I was staged with my two friends, Nate and Fred, who were the only 19-29'ers. I dropped both of them by the end of the first lap. The 30-39 group started 2 minutes back, but there were a lot of them and they were working together. They split into two main groups. The first group went right through me. They went by so fast, I did not even consider joining. Rick Nelson was in that group, but got dropped. We rode alone together for maybe two laps. I pulled him, he was tired. I was cool with that, I was pretty honored to race with him. He thanked me for my help.

And then the second group caught us. I didn't think I would be able to hang on, but Rick went with the group, so I figured I had better as well if I wanted any chance of doing well at the race. Group riding was absolutely critical since speeds were 18 mph average for Cat.1 and 20 mph for the Elites. It was a struggle at times, but the group was pretty well matched for me.

The group (why am I not in the picture???) Photo credit: Rick Nelson.

I was pretty happy to be able to ride in this group. At the end of a lap with this group, a rider in front of me stacked it in a tight, CX style turn. I was right on his wheel, I couldn't stop quickly enough, so I kind of sort of rode over his front wheel. This person very likely was Chandler Delinks. He kept racing, and from what I heard, his stem was out of alignment slightly but his wheel was okay. We had a 5 or 6 person group and most people took helpful pulls. I took a few long pulls and even broke away from the group on the last lap, but I decided to wait for everyone because I knew I would be caught and I would not be able to make up the two minute difference (from the start) in a 12 minute lap. On the last lap, everyone was going balls to the wall. Out of the saddle attacks were launched, tires were rubbed, swears could be heard, etc...basically it got sketchy. To make matters worse, just as we were coming into the finishing chicanes with the aforementioned CX style single file turns, the Elites caught our group and so did another Cat.1 group. At this point, there were 20 guys fighting for a 90 degree left turn at 20+ mph. The Elites were fighting for cash, and the fastest Cat.1 got $200. Money was on the line and everyone was caught up in the heat of the moment. I survived the madness, but people did go down. Since I was the only Junior and everyone in all three groups was technically ahead of me, I didn't go crazy. If someone wanted to get by, I was more than willing to give an inch more so than some others.

I finished 17th overall, but times were very tight, given the nature of the course. A few madmen finished an astounding six minutes up from me, but most who finished ahead of me were
I enjoyed this race. It was completely different than anything I have ever done before and it caters to my strengths. I work well when I can keep momentum and don't have to do crazy climbs. I got a good workout and got to see what road tactics are like. Thanks to the promoters, it was fun!

I saw a bunch of people with cameras, but no pictures of me just yet. So, here is a picture of my dusty bike.

May 30, 2011

Catching Up

How about some race summaries??? Sure!

King of Burlingame MTB Time Trial: This was the first race of the season. It was short (30 min) and technical. I was the only junior in the Expert / Po class, but overall I was about midpack. Pre-riding the course would have been helpful, but doing it blind was fun. It was a good way to start the season. My bike stayed together and so did I!

Fat Tire Classic: Well, it was going really well until I randomly flatted. On the start of my second lap, on a smooth section, I managed to slice a sidewall. How, I have no clue. Wizards??? I ran light tires because Winding Trails is smooth and fast, but there was nothing on the trail that should have caused me to flat. I didn't panic too much because I had already built a 4+ minute gap on second and I had an awesome CO2 inflator. The cut eventually sealed, so I started riding again, but the hole ruptured. Ehhh, that was a bummer, especially since it is a 3 hour drive each way, but at least I got a really good lap in.

Massasoit Lung Opener: Based on how well I WAS doing at the FTC, I decided to do the Pro/Open race. Guess what? There were at least three fellow racers in the Open race who had been to either the CX or MTB Word Championships. One of those guys was...Jeremy Powers!

JPow!, Seamus Powell, Johnny Bold, Justin Lindine, the usual...

It was pouring and 40 degrees at the start. My first lap was decent, not too far back from the lower 50%. Then, halfway through the second lap my rear brake stopped working. Not having a rear brake kind of stinks because you can't stop (duh) I crashed into a tree on a downhill...which stopped me better than my failed rear brake did. I snapped the trunk of the tree in the process (it was LOUD!) and banged my head into something. The crash broke my front shifter's barrel adjuster, which forced me into the 26t chainring for the last lap.That was okay, though, because I really couldn't pedal at that point anyway. My head was okay thanks to my Limar helmet. I'm pretty sure I saw SNOW sometime during the race, maybe it was hail. Either way, there was stuff falling from the sky, and it was cold. My vision was horrible because of the mud being flung into my eyes. AND THEN I FINISHED! I was delirious towards the end of the last lap. I was totally trashed. It took me several hours to get warm again and I kept shoving food in my mouth until it was time to sleep. It was HARD. Was it fun? Maybe...

Weeping Willow: This is my "home course." I can ride to it in 45 minutes and I enjoy the trails. I wanted to do well this year. Last year was great and I wanted to repeat that success. I decided to stick with Cat.1 in hopes of having a stellar race. The pros were doing an extra 8 miles, which just seemed like too much. The juniors were staged with the 19-29 group.

I led for the first mile, which was entirely fireroad. One junior and an "adult" squeezed in front right before the singletrack - no big deal though. We quickly caught the HUGE singlespeed field and passing was nearly impossible. The guy behind me was having a temper tantrum, swearing and rubbing my wheel, but I had nowhere to go and neither did he. I ignored him and luckily I never saw him again. I passed the junior and once I had some open trails to work with, I drilled it to get a gap. I began to cramp halfway through the race, not because of dehydration; I was just pushing myself to go fast.

I went full gas until the finish. I won by 14 minutes and got 25th out of 108 Cat.1 men. I'm pretty happy about that result. I had fun and it sounds like everyone else did too.

Coyote Hill Classic: This was my third time doing Coyote Hill. It is a small race in the middle of nowhere. Mapquest doesn't recognize the town as existing, GPS units don't work and cell phones don't always work either. Welcome to Vermont! I have fond memories of the venue, but the course itself doesn't really suit me...soft loam, tight turns, muddy grass, short steep climbs with wet roots and some slick rock gardens. Each six mile lap has a decent amount of climbing. It is always wet for whatever reason. The course got changed since the last time I raced it (2009) and more loam and more rain made it slower than ever. Keeping momentum is not easy on this course. My legs were sore before the race even started, it was a long drive and, honestly, I wasn't too excited about racing my bike. This was also the first warm, summerlike race...80 degrees, 70% humidity! The other juniors were both Vermont-ers who knew the course better than I did, so I told them I'd hang out behind them on the first lap. Zeb led Matt and I through the first lap at a casual race pace. He got something in his derailleur, and as nice a kid as he is, this is bike racing, so I gunned it. Sorry! Matt hung on for a while, but eventually faded. Zeb came back on the last lap, casually saying "Hey Nathaniel!" through the switchbacks. I freaked out because I thought he was right behind me. Turns out he was actually about 5 minutes back. Those switchbacks are deceptive! So, I won, but it was not easy at all. I struggled. I could not ride my bike for the life of me. Chain suck was a persistent problem with everyone. I ran probably a quarter of the race (no joke).

The mud left three options: 1) Cross chain big-big, no chain suck, but say hello to CRAMPS!, 2) Spin in the small chainring and get chainsuck every 4 pedal strokes (also no joke), 3) RUN! (or walk...).

This was definitely the hardest race of the season so far and the hardest race I can remember from last year. Talking with others led me to the conclusion that EVERYONE basically had the same problems I did. Chainsuck was the name of the game. It is no wonder why the singlespeeders absolutely destroyed everyone. No opportunities for chain issues and no place for mud to accumulate.

Yay bike racing!