Monday, June 29, 2015

Just Peachy

Well. Another weekend of racing. I had family in town the three days prior to yesterday, and we stayed so busy that it wore me out. Beer drinking, wine tasting, and walking all over the place does not a good race make.

Of course I felt tired and sluggish when I woke up and started down the road to Spartanburg, SC...

But on the way I started to feel peachy.  Ha.

I left a little later than I wanted, which gave me little time to sign in and warm up  (and of course shoot the shit with everyone I saw.)  We lined up, and before we took of we were laughing and joking around. My plan was to take it easy and see how I felt. When we started I did just that. 

I ended up in third and we weren't setting a fast pace. The group stayed together for a while, until the three of us started pulling away. About two miles later, first and second pulled away.  I kept my pace to control my heart rate, and tried my best not to lose a spot.  

The trail wast fast, and with only a few roots and no features I was just zooming along. The first lap was pretty uneventful until I came out on the road heading for the start/finish line...

I spotted second place heading out for lap two.  Now I had a reason to pick up the pace.  I sprinted to get back out on the course but he was long gone.  I no longer felt tired at least and was able to keep my effort high.  About three miles later I ran up on him but he didn't try to get away.  That was good except that I didn't have it in me to pass.

I was getting tired of slowing down and made a plan to pass.  I was taking the climbs better so the plan was to pass him on the next one.  Just as I made my move, he fell over. I slowed in the middle of the climb and asked if was okay.

He was.  That was good because I wouldn't feel right passing him if he was hurt. 

I pushed hard, trying to build a big gap.  He would disappear and reappear, trying hard to keep my pace.  I pushed harder when my legs and lungs would let me. When I saw a familiar sight  (the last section) I gunned it. It was longer than I remembered. I started fading and wondered if I would even make it out of the woods. 

Just then I popped out on the fire road and put the hammer down one last time. 
I finished second. 

Photo cred: Meghan K.

It was a hard effort, and a tough race. I left it all out there and came away with a spot on the box.  I was happy.

And yeah, I actually had fun too.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fun Friday

This week took forever.  It actually felt like four Mondays form which I could not escape.

Now, it’s the weekend.  Your weekend.  Mine too.  Whatch gonna do?

Buy some new shit you don’t need?

Buy some new shit to make new shit you don’t need?

Ride something fun?

Yeah, me too.  Actually, I’m gonna race this weekend.  Of course I’ll tell you about it on Monday (or Tuesday if I forget to show back up here.)    In the meantime, I’m heading out tonight to watch some musical acts with rock guitar sounds and all that.

See y’all next week.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Too Much Change

So yeah, it’s been a while since I mentioned the new bike I got from Niner I guess.

If you’re looking for some sort of long term review, then I suppose this could be it.  I really like the new EMD9 for the most part.  It’s an entry level 29er hardtail XC bike, and with that comes decent components.  It’s a solid build, but a little on the heavy side.  Since I’ll probably keep it for a while (and race it of course), things are in the works to made it a little lighter.  Why just a few short days ago I made a call to my local bike shop to get things going…

Anyway, it is a good bike, especially for the price.  The geometry is the same as Darth Maul (my One9) so I didn’t really have to get used to a different ride. One minor complaint I have is the seat, but that’s just because I’ve been riding the same seat on every bike I own for years now.

I took care of that too.

My last and only real complaint is the shifty stuff.  And quite honestly, I hate it.  No offense to Niner or the quality build of the EMD9, but I just can’t get used to shifting.  Ain’t gonna happen.

I’m stuck being a single speeder.

Thanks to Mike L. for that gem.

Gears have a purpose, but not for me.  When racing, I either find myself in too high of gear (forcing myself to work harder than necessary on climbs) or I get lazy and shift down when the trail goes up.  This is unacceptable.  I’ll keep riding it geared and all that for a while, but I don’t think I’ll ever undo the damage that was done by riding just one gear these last few years.

Who gives a shit.  Single speed is dead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Second Part Of…

That race I did Sunday.  I was on lap two and figured that I had plenty of time to move up.  It was hot but I was plenty hydrated.  I felt good (legs and lungs anyway), but mentally I knew I had some work to do.  The only thing on my mind though was the fact that I had to do two more laps on a not so fun trail.

Well, I guess it was fun but my state of mind was wrong.  Suddenly, I remember what my friend told me about making sure to have fun when I raced and I realized that I could.  I started hitting every little jump and bump to catch some air, and taking the turns as fast as I could. 

I even got all Enduro™…

 I don’t know who took this photo.  I found it on The Internets.  Sorry, but thanks to whomever it was.

Anyway, I was having fun, and stopped worrying about whether or not I caught anyone else.  I passed a guy (not in my class) and got passed by a few (also not in my class.)  I was working hard, but no longer feeling like racing was a chore.  Lap three was more of the same.

I finally finished, and felt good about myself.  I think I was in 8th place or something like that, which is okay considering the wheel issue I guess.  As far as the overall standings go, I might still be good.  I finished ahead of one guy who’s ahead of me overall, and with a few races left I have time to make some upward movement.

The main thing is, I really did have fun.  The course was actually pretty good, and the event was well organized.  I really can’t complain, even if I wanted to.

With a long “season” and series, it’s easy to get down.  I can’t be on my “A” game every time I hop on my bike and I’ve learned to accept that.  When it’s all said and done, maybe I’ll finish in the top three overall.  If not, hopefully I’ll at least come away feeling like I had a great time.

Only time will tell…

Monday, June 22, 2015

Battle Of The Bikes

I kinda got screwed.

After a good week of riding/training/talking to a friend about getting burned out, I was ready to jump back into the Southern Classic Series and give it all I had.  After a couple of wrong turns yesterday morning, I arrived at Country Park in Greensboro ready to race.  When I lined up at the start, I noticed a couple of Cat1 guys in my class, no doubt taking the easy way out so they could get on the podium. It discouraged me a little so I lined up in the second row of a pretty big field.  The plan was to ride my own pace…

But plans change.

Photo credit: Mike Long

When the race started, the “ringers” took off.  I got a little mad about it, and transferred that anger to my pedals.  I put the hammer down and dropped the whole field.  I knew I couldn’t keep that pace up the entire race, but I wanted to make them work to catch me.  I had a huge gap before we hit the singletrack…

Then I noticed that something wasn’t quite right.

After a proper warm up (for once) I felt good physically but had an issue with my bike.  As I tried to shift into a different gear something made a crunching sound.  I looked down to see my chain all crooked and junk.  Then all of a sudden the whole field went by me.  Shit.

I stopped for a moment to see what it was and couldn’t find the problem.  I rode a little further and felt like I was dragging an anvil behind my bike.  I stopped this time and found that my rear skewer was askew.  I straightened everything out, tightened it, and took off again.  I was hurting bad from such a sudden stop, but I knew I could catch back up if I worked hard enough at it.  I pushed and pushed, and eventually came up on one guy in my class.  I hesitated to pass him since I was so tired from my effort to catch back up, but eventually he told me to go by.  I worked hard to put a gap on him, and with my new-found confidence I started looking for the rest of the pack.

The trail was sorta fun, but it was typical cross country stuff and very roadie friendly.  I think maybe I rolled over one log pile, hit a few roots, and maybe even saw a rock or two.  This did not bode well for me, since would have to work extra hard to even catch a glimpse of the rest of the field.  I kept working but I was getting bored.  I was on lap one of three so I had plenty of time, but I didn’t know if I could survive the boredom.

I made it through one lap, where Mike was once again waiting with a camera.

One down, two to go.  Could I keep going?

Tune in tomorrow…

Or don’t.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fun Friday

I have some good news…

Not, there’s never good new on the News.  My news is, you made it to Friday.  And more importantly, made it through almost a whole week of my crap and nonsense.  I don’t have to write it, and you don’t have to read it.  But we do for some reason.

I know how you feel. 

Well, go do something fun this weekend.  If you’re local (or out in the desert), make sure you stay hydrated.  It’s awful damn hot. 

I have a race on Sunday.  I hope I don’t spontaneously combust.  I’ll do my best to keep cool.

I’ll most likely see y’all Monday with a race report of some sort.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Still Just Like Us

Just as I started getting back to “regular” blogging, something threw a monkey wrench into my plans.  I was out late on Tuesday night, which meant that I didn’t have time to get my shit together yesterday morning. So I'm behind. Again.

After I got out of work, it all started with this:

A trip to Common Market for a giant sack of beer meant that I was ready to party.  But this was no party.  A special friend was in town for a girl’s night with Little Miss Sunshine and Jana, and I sorta crashed the party (actually I was invited.) 

Who the hell am I talking about?

Our friend, pro mountain biker, and all around positive person Sonya Looney.  She’s my biggest fan.

Although she is sans socks in that photo, she is a self-proclaimed sockaholic (just like me.)  And I figured that having two very enthusiastic DeFeet supporters in the same room is something worth talking about.  Well, that and there’s not much else going on.

It was basically just a nice evening with friends.  Many of you know her as “pro mountain biker” or “famous”, but she is actually a real person and pretty damn cool to hang out with.  I mean, she even went out to dinner at a regular restaurant, just like us.

The conversations in our group were all over the place, but that’s what friends do I guess.  I really dig how motivational she is though.  It’s a constant struggle for me to stay motivated (especially during race season as you already know), so talking to her was huge for me.  Although I may seem like I don’t need any help screwing up things on my own, I really enjoy having positive people around to keep my head in the game (so to speak.)   Most of our local bike people are really cool and like family to me, and Sonya is no exception.  Well, except that she lives is Canadia now, eh.  What’s that all aboot?

Anyway, didn’t ride that day (other than indoor at TC), but spending an evening with bike friends was still more fun than anything else I do.

I know.  Who gives a shit.