Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Winning and stuff.

So I haven't written in a while because I have been busy putting some real work in and doing a great job.

Legends of Stank XC: Raced Men's Cat 2 15-29
I used Ryan's full suspension Titus Racer-X 29er with Andrea's lightweight aluminum wheelset. I had done a few hot laps leading up to the race and felt like I could finish in the top 4-5. I warmed up well and was feeling great. We all lined up and GO! it was all out. I hadn't raced a XC race in a long time and forgot how hard it could start. I made sure to follow this fast looking guy who dove into the woods first and within 4 minutes it was a light pack behind us. I didn't like the way the leader was riding so I ended up passing him and leading for a little more than a lap. Near the end of the first lap I got tired of hearing everyone behind me talking like Chatty-Kathy's started dropping the hammer hard. I turned it up and didn't really let off. They stopped talking but it was bonker's fast. About 1/3 of the way through the 2nd and last lap Dylan Vance blasted past me on the left and never let up. I chased him for a second and realized it was dumb to ride that hard. I knew we were too far from the finish to be riding at that pace for me personally and I backed off. I let the other guy who was with us around to chase and they never came back. I put in a really solid effort and had a great time. I couldn't have ridden that fast without being loaned a bike and I wouldn't have pushed myself that hard without the help of my friends in the last few months helping me realize my abilities. Fun tid-bit: my average heart rate for the 1:33 race was 182bpm.

Cirque Du Velo Circuit Race
I overslept and was too cocky. I went out stupid hard and got dropped from the main group and pulled from the race by the officials. This really pissed me off. I knew better than that. I knew better than to go out that hard. The breaks from the gun never stick in Cat4. Why in the Hell did I chase? Because I am an idiot. The worst mistakes are the best learning lesson. I will say lesson learned. Chip placed on shoulder.

Riverside Classic XC
With a big chip on my shoulder and a stomach full of anger I decided to go race Riverside XC. The course was supposed to be rocky and gnarly. I said "OK". It was supposed to be hot. I said "Good". It was supposed to be 15 miles for the SS race. I said "Whatever, that's a sprint". I was really looking to get some vengeance and redemption from my previous weekend of riding like a Cat5 triathlete.

I rode with Andrea over to Little Rock the night before. We showed up to the wrong La Quinta in Little Rock, looped around the block twice and ended up at the other La Quinta less than 4 miles from where we had been. If that gives you an idea of how bad the traffic right there was. La Quinta was like "People want to stay here but gosh, this is hard to navigate. Hell, let's build another over there." I digress.

Woke up, had breakfast at Starbucks, get to the race, run around like an idiot, get ready to race, line up. There are 10 people in the single speed race and they started us behind a few too many of the Cat 2 age groupers. I think we were supposed to start behind the 19-29 but ended up behind the 29-39 guys. That was a little bit of a suck.

The race started with a paved, non-neutral start. One guy says "I guess we won't have a sprinting match with these single speeds on the road" and I bit my tongue pretty hard. I have been trying to not be a cocky little shit and spout off at the mouth all the time. When the man said GO! I started to spin. I eased up on the nose of my saddle and spun pretty hard. At the first little rise in the road I did my best to keep my cadence up and maintain my speed. Maybe some others didn't follow suit. When we hit the bigger hill I tried to do a mild attack out of the saddle and kill the hill. At the top of the hill it was time to dive into the woods. A guy snaked the long way around a tree and dove into the woods first. I watched him for a minute and he was bobbling and panting and hurting - he was riding outside of his ability. As soon as the trail turned up I rode around him and dropped the hammer hard. I didn't hear any one cussing or scrambling to come with me from deeper in the pack so I kept the spurs in myself and really laid it out for a few minutes. I hadn't preridden the trail at all so I didn't know anything to expect. The trail is great and usually sensible. The fast parts stayed fast and the slow parts got tight and twisty. I almost wrecked trying to pass a guy from a race that started ahead of mine. He was listening to his phone on full blast in the top of his camelbak so he couldn't hear me yelling "single speed leader, single speed leader wanting to pass" so I said "hey on your right, right now" as I stormed through the bushes and ended up losing my front wheel in the leaves. I got off, ran around him who was very startled, and ran for about 20 yards up the trail. I was pretty frustrated but he was still stuck in his granny gear listening to Nickelback or something so I got over it pretty quick.

I started the second lap and started bumping my rim on the ground every once-in-a-while. I kept riding hard, but only uphill. I would destroy the uphills and then conserve downhill trying to not whack my rim on the ground. I hadn't used my own air pump and trusted the gauge like it was mine. I just didn't have enough pressure. It didn't show up til the second lap when I was getting comfortable and really letting it hang out on the trail. About 400 yards from the finish line the most awful clanging noise occurred. I was ripping down the last 3 straightaways before the finish and I ripped a huge hole in my rear tire. Handfuls of front brake and a good bit of cussing allowed me to make the first turn. At this point I realize I need to make one more turn, cross the road, then ride smooth grass in to the finish. I leaned all my weight forward and eased down to the last turn and creep through the turn. The guys at the road called clear and I eased my way out over the lip of the road and then off the other side. I probably had around 5psi in my rear tire so I sat on the nose of my seat and pedaled hard across the line. First win in the books with a decently cool story, needless to say I was pumped.

I am appreciative of the help and support that is given to me along the way. I do my best to help get the HBStache Jersey on the podium when I am riding offroad. My BPC/MB team mate Jonathon has been doing a ton of work giving me training advice and helping me to understand how to achieve my goals. Ryan and Andrea are nice enough to let me live with them which in turn allows me to afford racing my bike. All in all it takes a ton of nice people for me to line up at a race. Thanks to everyone. Hopefully it will keep getting better.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I draw the line at solids

So over the last few weeks I have really picked up the amount of time I have spent on the bike. I have always had a hard time trying to figure out how to ride, how often to ride, and what to expect from that riding. I recently worked out an agreement with a friend to get some advice on using my time on the bike to be more beneficial to my goal of becoming a better cyclist.

Rewinding to early Christmas time I happened to find PowerTap hubs were all on closeout due to the eventual launch of their new G3 line of hubs. The price may not have been just right, but I knew that I would never get the same deal on a reputable power measuring device again so I jumped at the chance. Up until about two weeks ago I had been using it half-heartedly and not really embracing the possibilities of training with power. I had done little research on my own and hadn't really tried to train myself. One person posted an ad on Facebook claiming to offer free training but it was all a game of smoke and mirrors. It was free training IF you buy a monthly subscription to this life-coaching service that is written by Helen Keller. It may not have been a life-coaching service written by Helen Keller but it was something that one would find as equally absurd.

I had spoken with a friend one a few occasions about getting some help with my sprinting. I had it in my head that I hadn't won the Hell of the South road race because I was outsprinted by a half-of-a-wheel. My friend finally explained to me that it would be much more beneficial to me if I were to work on raising my threshold. As my threshold increases I will be able to react and cover during races and be more consistently within my ability. Then because I have only been over my threshold 12 times instead of 16 I will be mo' fresher come time to sprint it out. When one sprints mo' fresher one is more likely to win said sprint. Truth. My friend offered to help me with this by adapting his workouts to meet my power ranges and time budget. Also he said he gets really tired of counting all  the $100 bills at work and needs something to do to break up his day of being a big time banker. So I created an account with Training Peaks and gave him access to my account.

The short term outcome has been: I have ridden more than I ever have before and it isn't easy. Over these last few weeks I have had to constantly reminded myself  "If being fast were easy, everyone would do it." and tried to focus on how this will help me meet my long term goals. In case you can't deduce from my previous rambling: my future goal is to be fast as shit.

According to this guy it isn't going to get easier the more I do this either. I will just go faster. And since going fast is my goal I will have to embrace this and get better at managing my time around my training.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Photos from the last year or so.

I rode Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels one day.

Kenny showed up how he gets down in fur


Thor showed us that kitties are shrimp.

Powertap hubs went on sale.

A new skatepark opened, new bmx happened.

I drove to Little Rock to race.

I warmed up, Bryant Funston took pics.


Mean turtle.

My very new, very heavy mtn bike.

Joe Royer came to a crit.

$5 chain, lockring from $300 cassette.

Mtn cruiser, 69er style.


Daily advice for me.

Found my old card while cleaning.

Worked with an uber-bike.

Poplar shut down.

It was a bomb threat.

My toe, post nail eradication.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Syllamo's Revenge of the Toenail.

Last weekend was my fourth try and making it big in Syllamo's Revenge. Every year the course has been drastically different in terms of trail conditions. The first year I was awoken at 4 a.m. by the sound of monsoon quality rain and thunder, the second year we hung out in a tornado shelter the night before the race but the rain stopped by 10p.m., last year it was surprisingly mild but I was frustrated by the 125k's impact on the trail, and this year was unseasonably hot.

To elaborate on last year: it was the first year of the 125K event held in tandem with the 50 miler. The 125K started an hour before us, so even though I entered the woods with the lead group of men and rode in the top 40 all day, the trail had seen around 75 riders in the 125K before we got to it. This meant that each small puddled was splashed out and strung out for 5-10 yards down the trail making the limestone rocks slicker than snot and hard to ride. I know, I could pony up and do the big boy race, I feel I still have a bone to pick with the 50 miler. I digress.

This year I rode single speed again and decided to ride a gear that was just a tad harder than what I had used last year. I entered the race with probably slightly better physical fitness but definitely mentally stronger than in years before. I am starting to get enough riding in my legs to have an idea of what I am actually capable of doing and how to mentally badger myself to make that happen. Steve Parker had us start lined up on the road a little different than in previous years. Since I had done well last year and there was no official call-ups or start order I lined up on the front. I knew I needed to go up the first climb hard and I should make anyone who feels they should be ahead of me work for it. Not in a "it's a race, find a place to pass it's not my problem you dick" way, but more of a "I'm going to attack and hammer hard from the line" way. I went into the bottom of the climb in 5-8th place, went into the woods in probably the top 20. Ryan Bosio and Fo' Owens were right behind and I tried finding my single track groove and make some early mojo happen. Fo' told me "Get your young ass out of the way I have a podium to hit boy." Or maybe he said "When you get a chance let me squeeze by Matt." While the latter is more true, the former turned out to be what he meant. Shortly after that a guy who had been behind me insisted on passing so I eased up cresting a hill and let him around, only for him to not 45 seconds later slide out his front wheel, spiderman across the trail, and block up everything. The trail was pretty loose so even though I watched him start to wreck in front of me the best thing I could do was slide to a stop beside his bike and end up with my foot standing on top of his bike lying on the trail. Oops I crunched your bike. I get off his bike so he can get back on it and we start rolling again. Everything was pretty cool, a few guys asked to go around, I passed a few guys, and overall settled into a hard pace of attacking the hills, not braking, and trying to ride at a pace I could do for a few hours.

I started to feel the fatigue set in around the 2:25 mark. I knew I had been riding hard and that it was about time to back out of "kill everything, damn it all to Hell" riding style and more of a "ride steady, eat some stuff, drink some stuff" approach for a while. I didn't properly prepare my nutrition for this race, I probably got behind on water consumption, and I had forgotten how much to respect the mountain because eating on the trail was much harder than I had remembered. I kept everything together, never wrecked, never had a single mechanical issue, and pretty much trudged along for a good while. The hike-a-bike-ride-deathmarch up to the Stairway to Heaven on the Blue Trail really sucked. I didn't want to drink my sports drink from my Camelbak because the flavor had turned. Just FYI do not use a drink mix without preservatives on a ride longer than 3 hours, over 75 degrees. I wanted to drink more but it tasted funny, I hated hiking because it was pissing off an ingrown toenail I was carrying on my left foot, and I started to hate myself.

 When we got to the Red Trail it was hot like fire, I was falling apart, and overall was upset with myself for not being in better shape in order to be able to continue to attack the trail. A few people were passing me and at one point when a single speed guy passed me I wanted to quit. I had no idea what my current placing was but I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be. Another single speed guy passed me about 2 miles from the finish. I stayed on his wheel, watched him wreck in front of me and clog up the trail, then attacked the living shit out of him once we hit the fire road. I did a super-roadie move and hammered as hard as I could while aiming for the left side of the road. I then tucked in and didn't brake until the very bottom of the hill. I spun as hard as I could on the road, almost cramped, spun a little bit more, and came in through the finish setting a personal best of 5:27:46 for the race. That was only good enough for 7th in single speed and 28th overall.

Upon inspection of the results if I had just been a little smarter, ridden a little harder, I could have been on the podium for 5th with a time of 5:27:09 I would have only had to have ridden less than 1 second faster every mile. In all seriousness I rode as hard as I could. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't disappointed that I didn't place better, but I have no real remorse other than not filling my Camelbak with plain water or regular Gatorade or having my toenail looked at before the race.

After the race we all went back to the cabin, made hamburgers, and had an overall good time. The women's 125K winner Amanda Carey was staying at the cabin and she was kind enough to let me put my finger in her adorable little button hole. I assure that link is very G rated.

The next day we got up, cleaned up, and drove home.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tiger Lane is over and Syllamo looms ahead.

Last Wednesday was the last week for the Tiger Lane Crit series. I had a blast, won a prime, and BPC swept the podium in the Cat 4 race. Unfortunately one of the BPC 5s was in a pretty big tangle and ended up with some broken bones and skin left upon the pavement.

Next weekend is going to be my 4th attempt at Syllamo's Revenge 50 Miler. I am going to race my steel single speed with my roommates Fox fork installed. I am glad I wised up and installed the suspension on that bike for the race. I have done better every year and hope to continue that trend.

While my fitness may be a little better over this time last year I am not prepared for the race in any other way. I need brake pads, Hammer Gel, a handful of Honey Stinger waffles, a new cog, and maybe a longer chain. My bike doesn't have the right tires on it yet either. That means I need to make an order for some personal parts and get to swapping some tires.

I do have some hope to do very well at this race. I know people who have flatted twice in the first 5 miles and spent the rest of the day death-marching. My first year I sat on the side of the trail hoping for a shorter route back to the car. While I want to my best I am realizing some days everything doesn't like up so swell. So if I rip both of my tires on a rock and break my chain my contingency plan is party hard.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where I've been and where I'm going

So I quit blogging for a while. I got back from Interbike which was an amazing trip. I was able to run around indoors with a Camelbak full of vodka and cranberry juice while wearing a skinsuit. I had a great time, met some really cool people who I hope to see again, was amazed at the level of fitness at CXVegas, and realized just how big a bike has to be for a guy like Ryan Trebon. When I got home it was full-tilt-boogie working at Outdoors INC getting the new Poplar Bike Shop opened.

The bike shop was a pretty big project that included all the fun of building bikes, helping construction guys, listening to everyone gripe about everyone else, and having fun building bikes. I was there alone with the door locked and built the first 50 bikes for the sales floor. It was a neat experience and was something that I was able to get really efficient at because it was so methodical. Somewhere near bike 48 I got really bored and when someone showed up to help I found myself just talking so much. I guess making the switch from retail to recluse took a little bit of a toll on me. Things at Outdoors have been rolling pretty slowly - it seems everyday we realize there is a tool, product, or thing-a-ma-jigger that we don't have.

My quiver of bikes has flip-flopped drastically in the last 12 months. I sold my Surly CrossCheck, got a Cannondale CAAD10, got a PowerTap wheelset at Christmas, bought a BMX bike, sold my Felt geared mountain bike, sold my Felt CX bike, and bought a Redline MonoCog Flight 29er.

I have been focusing mainly on the road bike. Using my PowerTap wheel makes me atleast 10x cooler than any cyclist without power. More realistically because I do not make a ton of time to ride in my schedule I do best to do more focused workouts while training with power. I feel that it has made a huge impact on my fitness. I have been trying to work myself into riding more consistently and it has been on a not-so-steady but overall uphill trend.

I was riding the BMX bike a good bit there for a while but I was having trouble knowing my boundaries and seemed to always have some weird nagging pains even when I hadn't been wrecking. I believe it has something to do with eccentric muscle contractions and those make me really sore.

I hadn't been jiving much on the mountain bike so I decided it was time to sell it off and get something that was single speed oriented with the option to add gears in the future if I so wished. I had wanted a Redline MonoCog Flight 29er since my days at Bikes Plus. I finally bought one and am extremely happy with the bike. The geometry good and the bike is steel and plush - which lends itself to going pretty fast and making those "oh fucking shit" moments happen pretty often. Everything is really cool until all-in-the-sudden things aren't cool anymore and everything is out of control. Adding a suspension frok seems to help the bike go faster on rougher terrain.

I have raced about 6 times already this year. I only raced about 10 times all last year. I feel like I am knowing my abilities a good bit better than I did last year. Also I feel like I am learning to read the races and get myself to where I need to be to not be in trouble.

Race#1 CrossWinds Classic - Little Rock, Arkansas - Cat5 Road
Went into the day with 4 guys in the 40 and under race. I helped organize our guys to ride smart, break the group once about 4 miles from the end, string it out within 1 mile to go, then at about 1100 meters to go I began to bury myself into a really deep hole that broke the lead group. Nathan Greene, one of my teammates won the sprint.

Race#2 Hell of the South - Bumfuck, Tennessee - Cat5 Road
Nathan Greene and I went because we felt this would be a good race to try and get me a win. It had a little bit of rolling terrain, about 2 miles of gravel*, and the Cat5 race was only 29 miles which was within my fitness at the time. Getting to the race was a ton of fun and a little shady. I was a little stressed about by a lady working the hotel without shoes on but she was bat-shit crazy. Nathan didn't get a waffle. We left a little late and the fog was really thick so we didn't really get to warm up. The race takes off and a guy goes down in the first 500 meters. I guess having SRAM Red, a full carbon bike with integrated seatmast, and carbon wheels doesn't mean you aren't a jackass who won't overlap wheels with the guy in front of you on a straight and flat road. I digress. The only thing I knew about the course was the gravel started around mile 9. I stayed near the front but not on the front and ate a Gu at mile 7. We made a slight left hand bend onto the gravel and all hell broke loose. I knew that if I wanted to be with the group I need to burn up some matches right here. I dug deep and kept contact with the leaders through the gravel. We kept things turned up to 11 from then til about mile 14. We had popped a few people and started letting things ease up so everyone could eat, drink, and start eye-raping one another about who was going to go. When we got within 2 miles from the finish we were back on familiar roads (the couse was a giant lollipop with a tiny stem that was home to the start finish). I started moving up when I could and was freaking out hard. I felt like I had been on a chill ride with one only few hard efforts. As the 1k sign comes into view the pace picks up and people starting falling apart. Sliding up through traffic I suddenly counted only 4 people in front of jdeath marching. I stood to move around them and the guy pulling looks over his shoulder at me. He looked through my eyes and into my soul. I swung hard left towards the 200 meter sign and sprinted as hard as I could. He beat me by about half a wheel. While it would have been nice to win, he had been animating attacks throughout the race and was a strong rider. I had done my best and he was faster.

Fast forward a few weeks to the beginning of 901 Racing's Tiger Lane Crit series. That's right, four back-to-back parkinglot crits that are as flat as a board and highly likely to be windier than a South Memphis hooker's front teef.

Race #3 TLC #1 Memphis, Tennessee - Cat4 Road
I made my debut into Cat4 road racing with a 35 minute crit that averaged over 25mph. To say it was brutal would be an understatement.

Race#4 SlobberKnocker 75 Miler Perryville, Arkansas - Single Speed
75 miles of single speed, 58 miles gravel road I could drive my Ford Focus on, 15 miles of pavement, and 2 miles of gnarly Jeep trail. I paced myself well, rode a ton of the race with Full-Face Kenny, and ended up smashing my target time while simultaneously hitting the podium that never got called to the podium. Seriously, what the fuck Fred Phillips.

Racce#5 TLC#2 Memphis, Tennesse - Cat4 Road
I took a different strategy into this race. Rather than hold on and pray I decided to try and hold on until I felt myself approaching the end of my fitness then launch a glorious attack. It worked out pretty well and I got dropped in a graceful way.

Race#6 TLC#3 Memphis, Tennessee - Cat4 Road
I left work late, thought I lost my wallet, ate my Gu to late, blah-blah-blah sand in my peehole. I thought about the things I could do to make the race good for myself. Nothing came to mind. I was sitting on the start line burping up Gu Roctane and cursing myself for my shoddy preparation and spending my many miles on my single speed the day before. The lady said go and I went. For the first few laps I tried going hard and I felt as if I may throw up, shart my chamois, or do both. I slid back to about midpack, regrouped, and decided to go as hard as I could until I blew up or threw up. No one was off the front yet so I thought I would get the race animated and hope one of our strong guys would counter my attack. I got dropped shortly after my attack. I was about 25-40 yards out the back and a prime bell rang so it was game over for chasing them back down. I made myself a new goal of not getting lapped by the field and held them off for about 15 minutes. All in all some good racing and a great workout.

I am gearing up to do Syllamo's Revenge in about 2 1/2 weeks. Hopefully in the next year or so I will be able to continue building my fitness and getting faster. So that is where I have been. Where am I going, it is hard to tell. I may become consumed with endurance mountain bike racing, road racing, brewing beer, or just drinking beer. I am going to try and revive the blog and make that a part of my weekly life.