Thursday, January 30, 2014

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration


I am a beast among lambs
I am a lamb among beasts

Star (looks like a white dot)

I think that describes this weekend's race. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Moose Brook Fatbike Race

OK,I didn't win and that's not surprising since this is the first time I've ever even seen another fatbike in the wild. I've seen a few on the bike shop floor but never out in the world.  Where to start?  OK, it was cold.  The kind of cold where your family and friends tell you that you need your head examined to be out in it.     And it was cold , so cold that doing ANYTHING outside before the race was miserable.
After 1 minute outside before the race.
 But I dressed appropriately, I have to thank my commuter skills for that, and during the race I was anything but cold.  A check of the Mount Washington weather, not far to the south, showed that they had wind chill values in the vicinity of 100 below with gusts over 100mph. so we really had it pretty easy.
You can see I left a place on my forehead for all of the heat to escape my body.

I was out to have fun so I started near the back of the pack.  The race started out almost in slow motion compared to the start of other bike races.

Big Pack of Fat
The event itself was awesome!  The race directors seemed to pull it off without a hitch.  The course was very well marked.  Something I appreciate having wandered off course in the CBBC this summer.  All the volunteers were extremely cheerful for the conditions they were putting up with.  I am SO glad they were able to secure the lodge because doing the before and after stuff would have been pure misery in that cold wind.  The food was great and the wooden raffle tickets/finishers medals were a nice touch.  I also need to give a shout out to my wife, my biggest fan, for braving the cold and taking these pics.

The waiting is the hardest part

 Despite having a fatbike for almost a year I don't know much about fatbiking.  Mostly in the area of tire pressure.  I had recently been experimenting with really low pressure and that felt like trying to peddle around an elephant so before the race I had overcompensated and went with a pretty high pressure for the start of the race.  During the first climb I was feeling pretty smart.  I started near the back of the pack and passed about half of it with my quick rolling setup.

Then we turned onto the singletrack... It was a lot bumpier with lots of solid frozen footprints than I was expecting.  My teeth were chattering and my tires were bouncing off he trail like a basketball at a 3rd grade gym class.  Some of the people I passed were passing me back.  Once back on the flat smooth snowmobile trail I was happy again and was in the passing lane.  Then it was back to the singletrack.  Since I had never ridden the course before I had no idea what the mix was so I was determined to make it a full lap without adjusting my pressure.  I bounced my way around the course nearly bouncing off bridge entries.  It wasn't being much fun.  Once I passed through the start line I knew what I was up against so I decided I'd stop at the top of the second snowmobile trail and bleed out some air.  I probably dropped from a very overinflated 12PSI down to a still slightly overinflated 8PSI.  Once the pressure was adjusted it took what seemed like forever to get my hand back into my sweaty double layer of gloves.  Time was lost.
Finding my place in the back right after the start.

The second lap went better.  The bouncing was quelled some and the course seemed pretty ride-able now.  There were some icy spots and the icy chute of death at the end which I rode once but decided it wasn't worth re-breaking my collar bone during it's healing.

I really could have / should have let some more air out of my tires but experimenting in the middle of a race didn't seem like a great idea so I stuck it out.  I was on the last half of my 3rd lap when the first rider lapped me.  I was both impressed and pissed.  Impressed that he could glide through the bumpy singletrack with what seemed like ease.  Pissed that he could do it so much faster than me.  I was lapped by 3-4 other riders.  Each time I pulled off the trail so they could race their race.
I'm done.

The results: I finished in 2:46:08 / 23rd out of 32 starters and about 47 minutes behind the leader.  Honestly, I didn't think I was being that slow.  A lot of people uploaded it to Strava and as it turns out, I was being that slow.  2014MooseBrookFatBikeRaceCourse

Now for the excuses!  I probably lost 3 minutes adjusting my pressure, 3 minutes going slow enough not to bounce off the trail in the first lap, 5 minutes overall by still running over-inflated tires, 2 minutes by being cautious about my collar bone and another 3 min for not having studs (There was 1 climb that was impossible without them)  So what's that 16 minutes I probably could have made up which would have put me in at 2:30.  Still nowhere near the leaders who are clearly stronger and more skilled than I but not quite as far back as I was.  I can live with that.  Now I'm going to have to put it to the test next year.  I'm hoping it will be warmer, like 10F.

This just in:  I am #88 and show up at briefly at 0:55 and 2:52

Friday, January 24, 2014

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Also early morning cyclist revelation.  At least a mini revelation.  First with the inspirational sunrise picture.

Ooohhh Aaahhh

Now for the revelation.  OK, I'm still thinking revelation is a little strong, how about realization.  Anyway... I've been bitching about this slow fatbike thing for some time now (and that probably won't stop because it is, what? Slow).  My last time out on it took 2 hours to go 12 miles and nearly an hour to go 8 with some roads thrown in there.  The trails are firming up enough where I thought it was time to ditch the fat pig for a nice spritely mountain bike.  This time the results were mixed.  In general it was faster but a little squirrelier and scarier with a tendency for the front tire to wash out.  As I write this it sounds less like a realization and more like Duh.  The realization was, that on the sections of trail where the only tracks were from my previous 3 days of fatbiking (as well as snowmobile packed trails)  I could go faster on the studded mountain bike.  If I got off that trail, the mountain bike handled like a bear and instantly got slower and scarier.  So the fatty really does serve a purpose to exist symbiotically with my other bikes to get me to work over the trails in the winter.  Again, Duh.  I guess I just need to try to quell my bitching.  I'm never going to be one of those guys that claims the fatbike is my go-to fun bike but I'm glad I have it.

Loosely packed trails.

The Numbers: Same route (almost), same temp (almost), same trail conditions (almost).  The regular mountain bike is a little bit faster but it did feel a lot faster.

On The Fatbike:

On The GT Sensor:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Year End Review

I can't ride my bike right now but I can still post about it.  

2013 was a big year for biking, surprise, surprise.  Let's see, I got a new fat bike and I broke my collar bone on my new fat bike.  I guess we'll call that even.  And then there was the new cross bike!  The bike that just wants to go fast.  But I wasn't the only one to add to my bike collection.  My wife added a new full suspension MTB and a lightweight road bike to her fleet, bringing the total number of bikes between us to...12 (not counting the antique).  That also led us to make a pact that no new bikes would be bought in 2013.  It was the 3rd of January when I got the email reminding me that it was a new year with a link to a cross bike she thought might be good for her.  Somebody's got the bug.

Other than adding bikes, I added events.  2013 was my first endurance mountain bike race and my first cycling leg in a sprint triathlon.  And I moved up to 3rd place overall in The Great Adventure Challenge (Not counting teams because they suck and ignoring the fact that I was on a team in the Pirate Tri)

.  I rounded out the year with two100 mile rides The Loon Echo Trek & The Dempsey Challenge
My "training" consisted mostly of commuting of which I did over 4500 miles for a total yearly mileage of  5452 miles.  Down a little from last year but I'd like to think they were higher quality miles.  With 8 bikes you might say, "Why do you need so many bikes, you can't ride them all" and I'd say, "Not True"
  • Uvivega, 946 miles, a nice showing for the old steed.
  • Cross Check, 1337 miles,before this year this was the new bike so it got a lot of miles.
  • GT Sensor 9er, 667 miles, OK, this was also the new bike so it got quite a few.
  • Bridgstone, 416 miles, gets the award for the least miles but this is the go-to bike in the worst weather.
  • GT Sensor 1.0, 540 miles, not bad considering it was in the shop a lot.
  • Scott, 579 miles, mostly on centuries and races.
  • Pugsley, 510 miles, these miles should count triple, especially the 3 I rode with the broken bone.
  • Felt CX bike, 457 miles, considering I only had this a few months this is a lot.

So what's up for 2014?  Well, I am registered for a fat-bike race but my participation may depend on my healing progress.  I'm also signed up for the Pirate Tri as an individual because teams do suck.  I'll be healed for that one.  Otherwise, I'll probably do all the usual events.  It will also be the year to have fun with Strava with my new Garmin.  A little late to the Strava party but hey, I'm having fun with it.

I'm going to see if I can go the year without adding another bike to the stable.  Notice I said adding, replacing isn't off the table.