Thursday, August 24, 2006
Brian Head was great! Great weather. Great friends. Great race. I felt wonderful for the whole course. Of course I WAS gasping for air the entire time (10,000 ft up will do that), but I never got dizzy or had blurry vision or even thought about calling a cab back to the room (the very opposite of last year).
Although I only took 10 min. off of last year's time (unlike the 40 min. off of Sagebrush) it was still an awesome ride and at least seemed to go by very very quickly (even for people watching me!). It might have been that half the race I was pursuing or pursued by a couple of Joy's Expert women cohorts (who are hella fast!) (oh, and hella cute!). It may have been the new Kenda Kharismas that I strapped onto the Litespeed. It may have been Fuzzball's professional quality water bottle hand-off skills. Whatever it was, it was great. The first downhill singletrack section is so unbelievable twisty and fast it can't help but bring a smile to my face. And the descent through Dark Hollow still makes me ponder whether I'm actually doing a NORBA race. Sick is the only word to even half-way adequately describe it. And actually having the strength to consistently pedal (and smile) on the fire road toward the finish makes for a happy ending (not THAT kinda happy ending, smart-ass!).
Well, I gotta run before they kick me outta here. I've been super-sick since Saturday and am only now beginning to feel normal, so I'm still debating doing Rim Nordic on Sunday. We'll see.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Taking photos at 90 mph on the freeway between Vegas and Cali, or at 40 mph on a twisty mountain road in Big Bear should be reserved for trained professionals such as myself. You have been warned.
Ah, the Rim Nordic. I did all my pre-race stuff right and in a more-than-timely manner. Thanks to Dana Point Clint and his Uber-Trailer for the oatmeal. You rock, dude. I had the best start I've had in a long time. I wasn't dropped by everyone in the first 30 seconds! It took 10 minutes this time! My first lap went well and I felt good, though. The second lap the altitude began to kick my ass as I climbed toward the fire road, and I slowed down a lot. And the third lap reverted back to the hell that has been my racing career for the last 2 years. At least the downhill was fun with my new fork (when I ignored the searing pain in the bottom of my feet) (oh, and the searing of my pasty white flesh by the emerging afternoon sun - guess my perfect pre-race ritual did have one flaw: sunblock)
Thanks to Christie's friend Jess (from the Camp N Rizzle crew) who was kind enough to take on water bottle duty for me, AND for some reason cheering duty. Which isn't easy considering I'm out on the course longer than anyone else on the mountain (I think Rim Nordic is considering banning me just so their volunteers can go home an hour earlier!).
I did take home a Jose Ole prize package from the raffle drawing, so I managed to pull something good out of it all.
Well, I'll keep fighting the fight and we'll see...
Remember kids, I'm an expert, and any attempt to replicate these results could be fatal.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Besty travelled to the scorched homeland of Vegas Bob this weekend for some serious R&R (riding and reveling). Braving the oven-hot weather (topping at 107 later that day), the thin air (at, oh, 4800'), and on an unfamiliar ride ("Susan" the Litespeed), she still managed to easily truck her way up thru Badger Pass to Red Valley. She even dodged the most moronic rider I've ever seen coming down the trail, that tried his hardest to run the both of us over rather than yield the right-of-way. But nothing would stop Betsy from enjoying the ride, even the fact that she realized (way too late, I might add) that there would be barely anything even remotely resembling a tree anywhere near the trail (What part of desert she didn't understand beforehand beats me).
We soon got to the end of the climb, though, and after enjoying a view of the strip that most people never ever see (look through the dust in the back of the pic), she told me "Let's go. I'm going to tear up that downhill like a vulture rips apart carrion!"
Yeah. It scared me, too. So quickly we were back on the pedals and flowing our way over twisty, dry white singletrack back toward the "3 Mile Smile." I led the way on "Sky" the Kona (cuz she obviously has more travel) but was more than happy (and kind-of frightened) to see Betsy none-too-far behind, easily negotiating the rock-laden descent. I couldn't tell if her ear-to-ear grin was elation or bloodlust, but we got to the bottom and she told me "Susan and I are getting along a lot better now!" and I felt at ease.
We crabbled up the tricky switchbacks back to Badger Pass and crossed paths with some other riders that were super courteous. It redeemed our faith in the Rules of the Trail and our belief that the asshole we encountered earlier was the exception that proved the rule. More and more descending over fast-curvy-whiterock-dry-creekbed-singletrack and we were back to the truck. Mission accomplished. Betsy thanked me for the great ride, but thanked me more when I started the engine and the air conditioner spewed out frosty coolness.
An hour later we joined the Timster at the Flamingo for some serious poolside lounging under the misters and consumption of icy alcoholic beverages (and I may have ogled a bikini-clad ass or two!). And all was good.
Later that evening we decided we should take some money from the casinos, so while Tim mastered the Pai Gow dragon and raked in the dough, Besty and I joined her friend Lindsay at the Blackjack table and proceeded to clean up there as well.
And thus ended a perfect day in Vegas. My stay here in Sin City is soon (VERY soon) coming to an end, and spending one of my last weekends here Livin Large is just how I roll. I will sincerely miss some of the friends and places I have come to know here. It helps, though, knowing that I am starting out on the next phase in my life with great times ahead of me and even more great friends to share them with. And the neon in the desert will always be here, not far away.
"I've led a charmed life." -Mike Ness.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Well, I got two in the chest from the place known for it's "Double Barrel" brew. While Ara was busy downing some of the namesake liquid during his 5 turns of the course, I was barely able to hobble around 2.
After my well-fought-for 12th place at Bonelli (in my inaugural run there) I was eager to continue the fight in Santa Barbara. Fate had other plans, though. After saying hi to everyone at the start line including listening to Papo's usual pre-race self-degradation (even though he wipes the trail with us), I joked with his teammate Mick. Mick said he wasn't feeling great and I probably wouldn't see him much after the start (cuz he would be so far behind). I laughingly said that maybe I wouldn't see him cuz I might be so far behind. Ha Ha! It wouldn't be that funny in a few minutes.
The initial run off the line and up the first climb went great. After rubbing tires with and repassing a guy who thought he would cut me off to get around me and then drift two bike lengths off the rest of the pack, I settled right into the middle. Not expending too much energy, but not lagging behind, either. I followed Bert's limey cycloX friend down the first descent even though he went a bit slower than I wanted because I couldn't pass him before we got to it, and I knew he would just pass me again on the next up anyway.
I know I was doing fine, my post-race heart rate check recorded a max of 204 at some point (which is normal BTW), but by the third climb I start slipping. I looked down and was running at 167 (i usually race right around 190) and I was giving all I could. I cruised around the back of the course thinking I would recover and fight back in the second lap. I figured I had drank too much and waterlogged myself or something. When I passed King James' cheering me on at the campgrounds and headed into the vineyards, I popped a Sonic Strawberry Clif Shot hoping the caffein would give me a boost. It didn't seem to make much of a difference but I was still able to middle-ring all the little climbs on the way to the start/finish so I kept on. Ryan (AKA "Little Bert") handed me my water bottle as I started my second lap, and my recovery drink with protein, potassium and sodium totally hit the spot. As I wound my way up the initial climb, though, I felt pretty bad. But there were still other riders around me and I kept going. I even caught and passed Chewy (AKA "Fuzzy") on his 10th (or something?!*) lap.
The guy in front of me on the traverse almost ran headfirst into one of the 2-ton bulls that were roaming the course that day, but luckily he actually frightened the walking steak more than it did him (maybe it was the A-1 in his CamelBak?) and it went stubbling hysterically down the hill at breakneck speed! The rider was visibly shaken, though, and let me pass as he fumbled his way back onto the trail.
At the third climb again, I felt the horribleness setting in again. Single-speeders were chugging by me on all sides now, and lots of 3 and 4-man packs from the older categories, too. I looked at my wrist again and it read 127! That's near comatose for me. I was now on the fast track to Hurtville. I was sweating more than Chris Farley at a bacon convention, and the bottom of my feet were burning like I had sulfur insoles. I turned the suspension up on my fork from 2 to 4 inches, praying it would help, but the lumpy cow-tracked backside of the course was unrelenting. I rode slower and slower. And slower.
The granny ring became my friend as I resolved to just finish the race. "I feel no pain" became my mantra.
It only half worked, but half was enough.
The Pro women started passing me, which is always a morale booster (no really, it is), even when one thought I was in Ara's Marathon race because I was riding so slowly! They are always in a great mood and it's awesome to cheer them on as they fight it out at the end of their race. Another concernedly asked if I was OK. "Yes," I lied and rolled on.
I finished. I lay down on the cool, tall grass under the E-Z up and thanked heaven it was over.
I wish I had some cathartic ending that tied everything all together, but I don't. It was a severely painful race for me. Three others from my category DNF'd, so I'll concede to a DFL. This time.
Monday, April 17, 2006
...I need to put a new post on here. I'm backdated 2 races already. I just haven't had the motivation as of yet.
Until then, I'll share a little brightness. This is from today's ride which featured crazy 30+ mph winds.
Tailwinds shooting me up rocky climbs at unnaturally high speeds, headwinds making other climbs painfully demeaning and slow, and crosswinds blowing me right off the side of the trail.
My little red friend was one of a very very few that graced the side of the trail.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Guess what was on my doorstep waiting for me this evening? A package from my homies at SPINERGY! A shiny new hub and cassette body relaced to my rim. How do like them apples??? You don't, unless you're on my team, cuz I'm gonna be ridin by you on em!!! Ha HA!
Talk about speedy service, too: I sent the broked one in on Wednesday, it got there on Friday, and now it's already back in my sweaty little hands. Plus it's a new-and-improved beefed-up version of the hub.
Guess what's gonna be on the Litespeed tomorrow? =)
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I finally got around to hooking some Egg Beaters up to my race bike on Saturday after a messy ordeal removing the old Shimano cleats. A bolt didn't want to leave it's warm cozy spot on the bottom of my Sidi. After my attempts with power tools failed, I was forced to take it to the shop where there were bigger better power tools and men with much more elbow grease than I have at my disposal! It had actually rusted in (see previous posts about Monsoon and Monsoon II) but was thankfully removed.
On Sunday, with the new pedals and cleats now installed, it was time to hit the trail! I found the 'Beaters to work very well. Tons of float (so much that you wonder if you're clipped in sometimes) and very light. It made the transition very easy. It made the first mile of trail superb. Which was great, because that's as far as I got. I was spinning up the first part of "The Hurl", where you've just come out of a dry creek bed and started negotiating up some rocky switchbacks, but nowhere near the steep, gnarly rocky section that comes later, when my rear rim started rubbing somewhat awfully on the brake and the chain began to jump wildly. I figured my quick release had somehow come undone. After untightening and retightening the QR and still not fixing the problem, I was pretty mystified, until I noticed the following:
Yes, that's the rear hub coming almost completely apart at the seams! No, you aren't supposed to see the innards spinning around in there (like I did)! Well, I wasn't even able to ride back down the hill, so I had a nice hike back to the truck (cross-training is good, though, right?).
Spinergy is on the case now, and tomorrow the broked wheel goes via FedEx to it's final resting place, and hopefully it's replacement is soon to return to me for wielding against my racing foes. Warranties are good things, my friends, but whilst making sure you are in shape for the season, be sure all your stuff is in shape, too. Dust it off and look for cracks and such where they shouldn't be (the one on your backside is supposed to be there!).
Just a little safety reminder as we ready ourselves for a seasonfull of careening speedily down rocky mountainsides in large adrenaline amped masses.
(ta ta for now)
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I'm riding with my new winter gloves because it is, in fact, winter. And here in the desert it gets cold. And windy. Besides being very warm, the gloves are also fuzzy inside and slightly bulky. My connection to the bike isn't what it should be. Steering has a little mush. Reaching for the brake levers is just a little bit harder. The dulling feeling they give me mimmicks all too closely the feeling I, myself, am already exuding. Too many drinks last night. And the night before. Good times beckon, especially here in sinful city. Great friends all around, and the beer flows like wine. And the hope of making new friends. More liquor. Last Call? What's that? Strip Club? Right next door to the bar. Live music? Six blocks from home.
My nose aches from the elbow I took in the scraggly mosh pit last night. My neck is stiff and doesn't want to look down the trail far enough. Do I still taste the lime from that last Corona? No, not possible. But the muddled feeling remains nonetheless. Loose rocks slide underneath the tires. Swithbacks come up too fast. But it's not the bike that's moving quickly, it's the brain that's moving slowly. Up now. My lungs sting from the chilly air, in that bad but good way. I know the fresh winter air is trying to bite through and push out the smokey bar exhaust and fuel the muscles that are riggored from too many days not riding. Climb. Climb. It's the only way to purge it all out. Then more rocks. Hard and cold and solid. One dab. Two dabs. After five I stop counting. I just want to keep the momentum going and these damn rocks keep taunting me. Any other day and they would have no power over me. Now they relish in their chance to even the score. I fight on. Now loose ones, again. The rear tire spins and I teeter toward the downhill side of the trail. Toward my bad knee. My eyes suddenly become eagle-sharp as I focus on the rocks, the weeds, the dirt, and find one spot where I can plant my toe spikes and avoid injury. There it is, that's it. But as I continue to hurtle downward I still wonder if it's enough. I fold into the hillside with my body as much as I can and take the bike down with me. And it's over. I'm fine. Get up. Back on the bike. Keep climbing. Keep purging. Once at the top again I have what I wanted. What I needed.
The sun is gone and only the fading twilight left. No time to lose. Seat in the downright position. Move. Calf muscles twinge and fingers ache. Don't slow down, though. The branches are getting harder to see. The deviations in the trail are blending together. One small climb and then the final stretch of down. Floating over and around. And it's over.
Muscles relax and the brain lilts on its natural high. Breathe.
Get out and ride.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
I'm blogging, sheesh! I'm sorry it's been like a month!
Chris's Blog was woefully void of pics, so I figured I had to step up to the plate. What a fricken ride!!! Although I had to ditch my glasses AGAIN (this pic was minutes before they had to go bye bye) the Rocky Peak ride was MUCH better than Monsoon I: Rim Nordic #3. I had Jay and Fuzzy and Jim to follow down the trail which made it much easier without my glasses. And I had my brand-new 5" travel DAWG to soak up all the bumps (cuz I was busy soaking up the water along with everyone else). Dawn with her Inoperative Intense and Betsy on the hardtail both slugged it out, too.
It was a wacky wet time. Thanks for rolling out the Old Year with a bang, guys. Can't wait for the New One to fulfill all our riding desires.