Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bite!

Occasionally when riding I have profound thoughts.  Usually I forget what they are because I'm having so much fun riding, but sometimes I remember something, but usually it wasn't the absolute most profound thought.  So, whilst out on my mountain bike today, I thought a lot about tires and how they work. 

There's a lot of fuss about mountain bike tires.  People swear by a certain brand, design, pattern...whatever.  The important thing is once your set, you're set.  Maybe.  During a race this past season, one of the guys I was riding with (who's been racing as a pro since forever) told me tires are tires, once you get good you can ride anything.  I think he's right for the most part.  Once you learn the way to handle your bike, be it a road bike, mountain bike, 'cross bike-whatever, you get a certain feel of the "edge of your tires.  That is, the very point at which they break their connection with the trail/grass/road. 

As I ride more aggressively and progress into more downhill and gravity based riding, tire adhesion becomes all the more important.  Now, I look for a tire that rolls well, but bites in the corners while also allowing for the  absorbing of rocks and roots.  Generally, I've found that a square-ish profiled, high volume tire fits my riding style best.  I'm having a lot of success and comfort in riding a 2.3 front tire and a 2.2 rear tire.  Both pretty aggressive and definitely not speedy, light cross country tires.

One more interesting thing I've found is just how much rear tires influence turning when you're really pushing the corners.  When I raced XC this past season, I stuck with matching front and rear tire patterns, and saw that the guys that didn't only opted for an aggressive front tire with a much less aggressive rear tire.  With speedier entrances and exits of corners though, the rear wheel bites down that much more.  More times than not, if it isn't an aggressive enough tire you'll find yourself "power sliding" around the corner instead of sticking it. 

I'm not sure entirely where I mean for this post to go, but this is what I was thinking at some point in my ride today.  As I experiment more with tires and tire combinations I'll post more.  My suggestion to anyone would be to try, try, and try some more.  If the budget allows, get on and feel the difference between all the different tires there are.  A fast bike can be made slow with the wrong tire combo just as a slow bike can be made fast with a solid tire combo.  It's all in the choice, and whether or not it's good for what you ride.  Have fun!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Happy/Merry Christmas to everyone!  I'm not the biggest fan of this holiday (not the actual meaning of it, but rather all the fluff that goes on with it!), but it is a special day to be with family and loved ones.  Now that it's here, let start getting ready for the 2012 that's going to be lots of fun!

Friday, December 23, 2011

December?

So the calendar says December but I really think it's lying.  The last two days have been spring-like.  Warm temps, and almost muggy most of the time.  If things stay like this for the rest of the winter I'll be a happy fellow. 

Christmas is in a couple days and I could not be happier for it to be over.  I've never been the "bah-humbug" type, but for some reasonn this year just ain't makin' it in the Christmas department.  Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy...

Anyway, looking forward to spending some more time up at Sprain ridge this coming week, along with a cool little excursion "somewhere" to ride the skinny wheels this coming Tuesday (more on that in another post!).  Looking to be a pretty cool last week of the year on two wheels.  Fun, with unseasonable temps.  Can't seem to go wrong with that!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

MTB Love

There are several reasons I love mountain biking.  Solitude.  Challenge.  Fun.  Shredding.  Focus.  There are many more words, but I think the biggest thing that draws me to mountain biking is the never ending skill set you aquire from every ride.  There are so many things you can work on as you ride, whether you are an XC guy, a Downhill guy, All Mountain guy, or a Freeride guy.  For me, it's just amazing to find something about your skills on each ride.  Something magical happens that second you clear an obstacle you didn't "quite" think you could when you rolled up on it the first time.

Interestingly, when I started riding bikes seriously when I was racing triathlons a few years ago, I NEVER thought I'd ride a mountain bike.  In fact, I was terrified to do so.  I denounced everything dirt, stuck to the road, and that was that.  I'm not sure when it all changed, but one day I just "got" it.  It might have been that first shred in the corner, or maybe it was the first rockgarden I cleared.  Whatever it was, I was hooked big time.  There hasn't been more than a few consecutive days passed in the last 2 years that I haven't hit the trail.  I'm drawn to the trails; to the excitement that gives me a smile every time I ride.

The feeling I get when I ride is something I can't put into words.  Getting better, more skilled, and pushing the envelope is something that drives me.  I guess it's the never ending progression of what my body and mind are capable of.  Like I said, I NEVER thought I'd be riding a mountain bike, much less doing and riding the things I am now.  Never say never and ride on the dirt, it'll change you life.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sprain Ridge

Hit up the trails at Sprain Ridge about 30 mins outside of NYC today and I'm totally stoked!!! It's amazing how much good riding can be had within an hour of downtown Manhattan.  While it's not quite north enough to get into the mountains, it does have quite a bit of elevation change (for what it is), and a good bit of rocks, rollers, and drops from 2-6 feet.  To me, it's a perfect "All-Mountain" trail.  Not quite fast enough to be a cross country trail, but plenty technical-enough so to even have some good Freeride potential if one is so inclined.

I rode one of my smaller "big bikes" there today.  Last time was a 7 inch travel AM bike, but today I stuck with the 5 inch Stumpy FSR.  I'm shocked with how much this bike can handle.  It doesn't plow over everything like my Specialized Enduro does (the 7inch bike), but if the right lines are taken, it competes.  Add to that the lighter weight and therefore better climbing ability, and you have just about the perfect bike for these trails.  The only mistake I made was going a little too firm on the air pressure up front.  My Fork was probably at about 90 psi which works well for the smooth trails around here, but I would have rather had it around 80 psi for some of the big bastards I was rollin' over today!

All in all, great day today.  Probably going to try and hit these trails a couple more times before Christmas. After that, there's no telling what the weather is going to do.  Hopefully the snow will hold out until forever!  This place is like Heaven on Earth!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Big Bikes

So if you've been reading this blog (and I know all 2 of you have!), you'll know that over the course of the past few months I've changed my direction quite a bit in relation to my competitive goals.  I last raced in August, very disappointed with my race, and decided to take some time off.  Well that, mixed in with some health issues as a result of the race forced me to just relax and take it easy.  Of course that meant still riding my bikes everyday, but without much of a focus.  Ok, well the focus was actually to have FUN and not to TRAIN.  Fun, I've certainly had...

So in all this time, I've grown quite fond of all things long travel and gravity based in mountain biking.  Any time the trial gets gnarly and points down, I get more and more excited!  I don't mind the pedal up, as long as it's followed by some reward in the form of flowing, break-neck speed singletrack with some rocks and drops mixed in for good measure. 

Of course with all this new "fun" comes a change in equipment.  Gone are my super light, carbon, short travel suspension xc bikes.  They've all been replaced with long legged, trail and All Mountain bikes.  I do still have a hard tail, but it has a 150mm fork on it, big fat tires, and a low seatpost.  I haven't bought a race-oriented mag in months, but rather magazines like Decline, Dirt, and Bike; the mags that deal more with guys dressed like teenagers jumping off rocks with endless goofy grins on their faces.

Maybe all this is just me rebelling against the 'structure' that is training.  Maybe playing competitve sports my whole life has finally caught up with me.  Maybe I just want to be a kid again.  Whatever it is, I'm all about FUN.  Triathlon can be fun.  Running can be fun. Cycling can be fun.  (Swimming still sucks though!).  And right now, riding big bikes over rocks, roots, and down steep descents is fun for me.  That's all there is to it, and that's where I'm going to focus my energy right now.  Will I race again?  Who knows, but only if it's fun.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More on the Enduro EVO

The Enduro EVO arrived from Cali on Friday.  I put it together and got to looking forward to ripping it up this weekend.  Man this thing shreds!  Easily the most "all around" bike I've ridden.  It's got 170mm of travel in the front, with 160mm in the rear.  It's all coil sprung (which is seriously underrated on All Mountain Bikes.  The plushness of coil springs is amazing.  They might not be the most efficient way to get up the mountain, but man, they definitely don't disappoint when things get rocky and gnarly. 

The way this thing pedals is simply mind boggling.  For a bike with such long legs, it is just as efficient as my 5 inch trail bike.  Even out of the saddle there is very little pedal bob, and the 160mm of travel must hide somewhere because it feels an awful lot like my Stumpjumper FSR.  All said, I'm a very happy dude.  I can't say enough about how well Specialized does mountain bikes.  They're just the total package.  Most companies put together a good frame, but leave a lot to be desired with components.  Specialized really makes the not only a good frame, but a real solid complete bike.  Props to Specialized!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Specialized Enduro EVO

So I probably shouldn't write anything about this yet because I haven't received the bike above yet (and who knows what could happen to it between now and the time it arrives at my door-it IS coming from California), but I'm so excited to be getting this thing I can't even manage my excitement! 

I've only ever bought one other used bike in my life, and though I've sold many over the last couple years and months, I was still a bit skeptical sending a large amount of money to someone I've never met for a bike I've never even ridden and/or seen.  But (and that's a big BUT!), this was just too good of a deal to pass on.  It's a 2011 Specialized Enduro EVO I bought from a seller on mtbr.com.  I won't say his name here, but he turned out to be a really cool dude that does some big work in his industry.  Needless to say, I feel comfortable with the sale.

I'm hoping the weather will hold out for this weekend so I can have some fun on it! I'll update when I get it!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Power Outage

On my ride tonight the lights went out.  Literally.  My dumbass didn't make sure my battery was fully charged so I was treated to a beautiful mile and a half hike back to the trail head in the pitch black.  Luckily I wasn't too far, but it still isn't always ideal to walk out using your feet rather than pedal out using your bike.  Either way, it was a beautiful night and I'm not complaining.  I wouldn't want to do it again anytime soon, but one time is okeydokey.

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Hard Tail Fun

Spent another, albeit easier, day on the TransAM.  Well the whole day isn't accurate, more like a solid ride of my local loop.  Still fun though!

I decidedly took things easy today.  I was squeezed for time on my ride yesterday, so I hammered it out in near record time (despite the fact that I was on a bike that weighs about 10lbs more than my race bike!).  Today was just a pure "out for the fun of it" ride.  No time constraints, no "workout" attitude, just enjoy the 70 degree temps on an unseasonably beautiful late November day. 

In all I'm still impressed by the hard tail.  It's amazing how little things can change so much on a bike.  It's a good lesson in allowing yourself not to think that a bike can't feel faster if you just tweak things.  A week ago I had thought I made a mistake in getting this rig only to have it become one of the top two bikes in my quiver.  I'm really digging it and so stoked that I have it!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

AMHT (all mountain hard tail)

Sounds like some sort of thing you go and hunt...

Anyway, I picked up my bad ass Transition TransAM hardtail and ripped it today.  I was having a convo with a buddy last night about this bike.  Basically I was a little skeptical of it.  I bought it from a guy a couple weeks ago that had ridden it for about 6 hours total.  I couldn't believe the condition and the low price so I pulled the trigger.
Since getting into "big bikes" this summer, I'd wanted to build this exact bike up.  I figured it would be fun (especially on Long Island where there is absolutely NOTHING terribly technical), not to mention fast.  Something about a hardtail with a long travel fork just spoke to me.

After the first ride I was less than impressed.  It was sluggish, heavy, and not nearly as fast as my full sus bikes.  I wanted to give it another chance and swap some things, so I spent a little money to get what you see in the pic above (not too much mind you!).  I swapped out the heavy bashgaurd and little chain "nub" (the thingy you can attatch to the seatpost to avoid chainsuck) for a single 32 tooth ring and MRP Lopes chainguide.  Simple upgrade but got some weight off the bike for sure.  Next I got a new Saddle, a WTB Devo Thinline that was on sale at the local shop.  It was a test saddle that had never been installed.  Good score!  And finally I swapped out the WTB Weirwolf tires the seller had on it for my Kenda Navegal 2.35's.  A pretty aggressive and wide tire, but it roles well, and seems to compliment the hardtail nicely.  I had these tires already, and they were installed on another bike.  They sucked on the other bike, but roll pretty damn fast on this one...go figure!

Otherwise it's built up as follows:
Answer Pro Taper Handlbars 720mm
Truvative Stem 60mm
Thompson setback seatpost
Rock Shox Sektor Coil Sprung U-turn adjustable fork- 120mm to 150mm (I'm shocked with how much I love this!)
Transition TransAM Steel frame
Deore Hollowtech cranks w/32 tooth ring
Sram X7 9 speed rear derailliur and shifter
Easton Havoc Wheels
Avid Juicy 3 Brakes

Truly a badass bike and one that will make your handling skills all the better.  Riding full sus bikes is great, but if you wanna take your skill to the next level, try riding a good 'ole 26inch wheel'd hardtail on some chunky stuff.  You MUST get better...no doubt!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Plenty of Riding and a Vid from Yesterday

Got in some good riding the last couple days to fend off the "fatassness" associated with Thanksgiving.  Although I'm not formally training for anything at the moment, I do ride almost everyday and have even been hitting the weights again.  As I'm deciding to focus on mostly gravity related races next year (DH/Enduro with a little XC sprinkled in for good measure), I guess it's more important that I worry about bike handling and getting air instead of pure fitness.  Either way, it's fun to ride a bike and that's what I do.

Wednesday and Thursday saw me taking two days off the bike for the first time since I don't know when.  I can't remember the last day I didn't ride, much less the last time I didn't ride for two days in a row!  So yesterday it was back to business with a light and dark ride.  I rode one loop of the trail system in the light, finished up, got back to the car, mounted the lights on my helmet, and did the same loop again in the dark.  All told it was a good 3-3 1/2 hours.  I hate measuring time on the bike, and I don't like to think about training numbers or whatever, but yesterday I just wanted to at least hit 3 hours to burn off some energy and calories. 

Today was back at it again, riding with my buddy Nate.  Nate is a tri-guy, but recently bought one of my mountain bikes.  He's new, but the dude is picking it up quick.  Very fun riding with someone new and eager to learn as well as showing them a new trial they've never seen.

Below is a little clip from yesterday's "light" ride.  Camera angle was a bit low, but it's kinda cool to watch the ground... :)

video

Monday, November 21, 2011

Night Rider

 Always a good idea after a ride!
So I got out for my first proper night ride with the new light.  In a word, outstanding.  Riding at night brings out so many things that are great about riding.  It makes an old trail new, and sharpens your skills like nothing else.  All the stuff you forget to do (i.e. looking up through corners, looking ahead of you on the trail, etc.) are brought back.  You HAVE to do these things or else you'll crash.  It's like being super concentrated on one task and one task only.  I'm sure after I get used to it a bit more things will change, but for now, this is one of the coolest things I've done in a while.  Love my light and will have many more night time adventures to come!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Disappointment (Super Sarcasm)

Ok, I'm being a bit of a drama queen posting "Disappointment" as the title of this blog, but it's my blog so deal with it!:)  Anyway, since there is such little excitement in my life these days (more sarcasm), I got disappointed last night when I was suppossed to get out for a night ride with a friend on my mountain bike only to be ditched at the last minute and not be able to ride.

So the last few days I've gotten a few new toys (see pics).  One of those is a new, bright as balls (not really sure what that means but it sounds good) light.  It's a Nite Rider Pro 1500.  Since I've never ridden with a light before, I'm not sure how much better this light is than others, but I do know that from riding up and down my block it'll be just fine for my riding.

The other two toys are a couple new rides.  The first is my new Specialized Stump Jumper FSR.  Bad. Ass. Bike.  That's really all I can say.  This thing is tight-literally.  The suspension is super plush but not squishy, and every little detail was thought of.  There is not one thing I want to change on this bike-an amazing thing considering how I've never bought a stock bike and kept it stock.  Everything down to the tires, the fork, the saddle, the seatpost, etc. is just perfect and works well together.  Specialized really know what they're doing and put together an amazing product.  I'm such a Specialized guy now!!!  Best bikes in the world, hands down.



And the other toy I got is a Transition Trans AM.  This bike is sick!!!  Originally, I'd planned on buying a Trans AM frame, and building it up little by little as a little project over this coming winter.  Well, that was the plan until I found a ridiculous deal on Ebay for the complete bike you see in the pic.  It's a steel hardtail All-Mountain bike.  It's got a 110-150mm fork, Easton Havoc wheels, a 1X9 setup, Shimano crank, Answer Pro Taper bars, and I threw a Kenda Navegal tire up front with a WTB Weirwolf rear.  It's a little on the heavy side for a hardtail, but I'm not looking for it to be a race bike.  Rather, it's a bike I'm just gonna rip on, have fun, and enjoy.  The steel is super forgiving, even if it's not fast like an XC bike.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nada...

Wish I had more to write about, but there's really not a whole lot going on these days.  I'm riding everyday on my "big bikes", but it's definitely not training, more just riding for fun.  It's nice to just go out on a ride, go hard if you want to, or easy if you want to, and just generally chill, take pictures, and laugh about sections that made you clench your buttcheeks. 

I picked up a new bike after selling a couple of 29ers I used to race on this past season.  I usually sell all my stuff at the end of the season and get a new bike(s) for the coming season.  Anyway, I got a Stump Jumper FSR to rock and roll on.  It's unbelievable how much bike they packed into such a simple platform.  I got the Comp version, the "entry level" Stumpy FSR. I can say, though, that it's anything BUT "entry level".  The thing is dialed in with some of the best parts I've ever seen on a stock bike.  So much so, that I'm not going to upgrade a thing.  It's perfect for what I'm doing right now.  With 140mm of travel front and rear, it's got balls and legs at the same time.  Great bike and awesome fun.

As for a race bike for next year, I'm still not sure.  I've been thinking of a Specialized hard tail 29er, but there's a the Yeti Big Top that looks pretty nice too.  Looks like I've got the opportunity to get both bikes at a great deal, so it'll be a hard decision.  It also depends on what races I'm planning on doing.  More than likely I'm going to focus on Downhill, Super D, and some All Mountain/Enduro stuff, so my season will be gravity oriented, but for the XC stuff I'll need a weapon. Decisions, decisions...











Friday, November 11, 2011

Got passed...

Got passed on the trail by another rider today for the first time I can ever remember.  Kind of humbling.  I can't say that I'm really shocked, given the fact that I haven't "trained" in months, but it still stung a bit.  There was the fact, too, that I was riding an 8 inch travel bike with flat pedals and the dude who passed me was on a rigid 29er...but I'm not picking straws. :)

Anyway, I'm hitting the road again tomorrow for the third time this week-the most I've done on the road bike since August.  I think the "soft around the middle" feeling  is starting to get to me a bit.  I'm still super fit by "normal" person standards, but gettin' passed was a bit of a kick in the stomach.  Gotta get my mojo back! 


Also, looks like I'm picking up a new bike on Monday.  A friend of a friend (don't ask) hooked me up BIG TIME with a new Specialized Stump Jumper FSR.  Super excited to get this new beast and shred it out.  It's got 140mm of travel front and rear, which is a little less than what I'm used to riding, but I'm sure it'll be awesome.  The new Auto Sag technology that Specialized has is, I'm sure, gonna rock, not to mention that the bike is spec'd out!  Looking forward to rolling the Roval wheels and seeing what they're all about.  I'll have a review and some pics up sometime next week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flatty flat flats

Another post on flat pedals...Sorry to all of my 2 readers:)  Fact is, I'm pretty psyched about these things.  It's been a while since I've added something to my bike that made such a difference in my riding.

Today was the second time I've ridden the flats since I got them last Friday.  I was spectating the NYC marathon this weekend watchin' my new ladyfriend run, so I didn't get a chance to get out on the bike this weekend. Anyway, two more things seem apparent from my second ride.  For one, I'm amazed at how quickly I've adapted to them.  Riding today didn't seem at all awkward like it did the first time out last week.  I'm still getting used to getting my foot position just right, but still, didn't feel alien at all to be on flats today.  And secondly, I've heard people talk all the time about how riding clipless (clipped in for the lay person) makes them really feel a connection to their bikes.  While that might be true, I'm going to suggest the same goes for flat pedals.  You really have to use your feet quite a lot when jumping and pedaling, almost gripping the pedals with your toes at times.  Flat pedals bring in a lot more of the muscles of your ankle and foot than riding clipless.

When I bought the flat pedals I was worried I wasn't going to like it.  I was worried it would be too different, and not efficient enough.  I was completely wrong.  I love the way it feels, the freedom it gives you, and the skills you have to learn to ride effectively.  I certainly wouldn't race cx in 'em, but for everyday riding, I'm hooked!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Flats!!!

I'm sure most of the people (all 3 of you!) reading this are looking at the title and either thinking about running or about getting a flat tire.  Well, I'm not talking about either of them here.  As I mentioned yesterday, I got a pair of flat, platform pedals for my mountain bike.  Coming for more of a racing background, I was hesitant at first to try these things.  I mean, c'mon, most people think flat pedals and think of the days when they rode their bikes as a kid-before they became a "real" cyclist.  I'm even guilty of that.  Nevertheless I hooked them up last night and rode them today.  "Amazing" is the only word that I can think to describe the experience.

I was a little shaky at first, but once I got the hang of it, I realized how "freeing" it actually is.  My pedal stroke is very smooth (which I think helped me to transition easily), so I didn't loose much speed, even while climbing. I'm more of a finesse climber anyway, so I was able to just spin my way up the hills the same as I would if I were riding my clipless pedals.  Otherwise, the only other noticeable differences were in sprinting-lost a little power wearing flexible "skate" style shoes-and the fact that you can't cheat when jumping or bunny hopping.

There were a couple times where my feet came off the pedals in mid air, but I soon adjusted and got used to manauvering the bike differently so it wasn't an issue.  Also, being able to dab and powerslide into corners at speed going downhill really makes a huge difference.  It's an art in itself!

While I'm totally geeked out right now on how awesome it is to ride flats, and astonished at how fast and strong I can still ride with them, I'm not swearing off clipless forever.  There's a time and place for both, but I think I'll ride out this flat pedal thing for a while.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Officially NOT a racer right now

Put flat pedals on my mtb today because it helps me to ride more aggressively.  My brain is officially shut off from any time of riding other than just to have fun and challenge myself.  No racing even CLOSE on the horizon.

With that said, I'm going into the big city this weekend to watch my ladyfriend:) run the NYC marathon.  Maybe being around a race atmosphere will get my juices flowing again.  Maybe not.  Either way, I think I'll go for a run in Central Park if I get a chance.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weights

Since it's snowy, rainy, cold, and just plain miserable today (not to mention the fact that I'm lazy and didn't have the desire to clean mud off my bike all afternoon), I decided to hit the old weights for the first time in a looong time.  To think I used to lift EVERY day back when I was in college is amazing.  I forgot how hard it was!  Moving weight fast, no matter how fit aerobically you are, is hard damn work!  Glad I did it, though I'm not all that excited about how sore I'm going to be for the next few days...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winds of Change

"My life got flipped turned upside down..."-Fresh Prince Intro.

I can easily say that the thirtieth year of my life has been, without a doubt, the hardest.  From an emotional standpoint, everything in my life has seemed to result in some form or another of stress.  In May I took a trip to Spain to see my then girlfriend.  After one day of being there I was super-sick (the kind where it's coming out both ends-I'll spare the details).  To make matters worse, we argued most of the time about things that now seem kind of trivial. And then, to put the icing on the cake, my proposal of marraige was turned down.  To put it simply, I left Spain with my tail between my legs, looking forward to getting home and concentrating on work and training throughout the summer.

I got home to a shit-storm at work.  A loyal client of mine left me to go with another trainer.  She had given me her word before I left that I had nothing to worry about, and that she was only training with this new trainer while I was gone. I was assured she'd pick up with me right where we left off when I returned from my trip.  Instead, through a text message no less, she informed me that she was no longer going to be working with me and that she hoped we could still be friends.  Yeah, ok, FUCK YOU.  Not only had I been denied by the love of my life, but now I was coming back home to what I thought would be the safety net of work, only to be betrayed by two people I trusted: my client and my co-worker.  I apologize for writing this, but both of them can go fuck themselves. 

So I figured that would be the end of it.  I was wrong.  The "safety net" of work became replaced by the safety net of training.  I poured everything I had into training hard and racing harder.  My races results were ok, but nothing spectacular.  Work dwindled, and I wound up having the worst summer financially that I've ever had as a trainer.  Sure this is more likely a result of the economy, but it still wasn't very confidence inspiring for my already shaky self esteem.  My last race of the season (not intended to be) literally took everything I had.  I wore myself down so bad that in the days after the race I had dizzyness and shortness of breath which prompted a doctors visit.  Being a hypochondriac I also began having panic attacks that gave me heart palpatations and tightness in my chest.  The doctors visit and test results didn't show I had any long term health issues, but I was severely fatigued and I believe so dehydrated that I caused some serious internal damage.  I pulled the plug and haven't raced or seriously trained since.  That was the beginning of August.

And then the true bomb dropped.  I got a call from my girlfriend in Spain.  In hindsight, I should've known something was up because she NEVER called me (we either skyped or texted), but when my cell phone rang and her number came up I was grinning ear to ear.  It had been quite a while since I'd heard her voice as the internet connectivity where she was nearly non-existent, and any time I heard from her my world got brighter.  This wasn't a "good" call though.  This was to be the last.  I was being dumped.  I guess the marriage proposal and the distance had proved to be too much.  I was completely blindsided.  My whole world came crashing down around me.  It was one of those moments in life where emotion is more painful than any physical act could ever be.  Even though she was thousands of miles away and we'd only seen each other twice in about 6 months, I felt alone for the first time since we'd met.

I'd never loved someone more intensely and this was the biggest let down of my life.  For the time that we were together I felt like I was moving forward with my life for the first time.  It was good to feel like I had some direction.  I was planning to move and join her in Spain.  With the breakup I felt lost.  I went from having everything somewhat figured out to complete isolation.  I had no starting point.  I managed to keep a cool profile from the outside, but inside I was a mess.  I started drinking a little more, riding a little less, and generally just not caring. Not good.

Fast forward to now.  I'm still not over everything that's happened, but things are looking like they're finally starting to turn for the better.  Work is still not what it once was, but it's getting better and I'm having fun just riding my big bikes and doing crazy stuff on the trails.  I'm not sure when the next time I'll race is, and it's honestly not a huge priority.  Getting my life on track right now is where I want my focus to be. I've got a bit of my motivation back and that's good.

I'm sorry if this is long winded.  I've never really spoken to anyone about what's been going on and I had to spit it all out.  I'm probably not going to reread this, so there are probably some mistakes.  I'm going to take a little "creative license" and write them off as being part of the writer expressing his emotions on the page (I think one of my creative writing professors said something like that once...). 







Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crashin'

In the last two weeks I've had about 7 crashes on the mountain bike.  I NEVER crash.  Maybe a couple dabs here and there, but NEVER anything big.  Once in a blue moon I'll go over the bars, just like everyone, but in the last year plus that I've been pretty exclusively riding in the dirt, I could count on one hand the number of crashes I'd had (and races don't count).

So last Tuesday while riding with a friend, I wiped out hard.  Real Hard.  The type of hard that takes you a minute to get up from.  The type that makes you kind of question exactly what the hell you're doing.  So there, I thought.  I got it all out of the way and it would be another year until I had another big one.  Wrong!

I can't recall all of the crashes, with the exception of the last one today, but damn if I'm not sore, covered in trail rash, and a little sketched out.  This crash today was a real brain-rattler.  I got launched of the bike after hitting a tree stump with my right pedal and landed directly on my head and shoulder.  My poor bike got thrown into a tree, and I bent the ti rails on my favorite saddle.  Otherwise no damage to the bike, but  my body is getting more sore and stiff as I type.

Anyway, it all could have been much much worse, but I think it's time to take a few days off the mountain bike and ride on the road with the crazy drivers where things are SAFE!

I've been thinking of why all these crashes are occurring and the one thing that they all point to is an improvement in skill.  That's right, I said improvement.  Given the fact that I ride quite a lot, my technical skills have gotten to the point where I push the limits A LOT more than I used to.  When I was strictly doing XC riding, I usually kept things pretty mellow-just get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.  Since I've taken my little hiatus from racing, and have been more interested in All Mountain/freeride stuff, I think my balls have grown.  Air is run.  Skinnies are fun.  And power sliding in sharp corners is REAL fun!

All this is to say that I need to be a little more calculated.  I don't mind the occasional crash here and there, but when it starts to become a daily thing, it's time to reconsider how I'm looking at lines.  I'm not 18 anymore for goodness sake!  I think I'll take a couple days off the trails and rediscover my road bike while I heal up.  Let's just hope I don't get hit by a car!














Monday, October 10, 2011

Not much new...

Not much new to report.  Have a few things brewing, but nothing worth talking about yet.  I think since I've stopped "formally" training and racing for the time being, I don't have much to write here.  Not that that's a bad thing, I just need to re-adjust my thinking.  It's been a long time (almst 25 years) since I've not been doing at least something competitive.  To be honest, it's kind of a relief.  My life has been stressful enough without having to worry about the added pressure of racing and training.  Right now, I just exercise for fun (which really means just ride my mountain bike a WHOLE LOT) and enjoy the days.  If I don't get a ride in-which is almost never-I don't beat myself up about it.  Life goes on and there's always tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Muddy Fun

I've said it before, but nothing beats riding a mountain bike in mud-not even 'cross.  Something about being able to go through streams on a bike and then cruise through sloppy mud with slick rocks and roots everywhere just makes me go a big soft one inside:).  Soooo much fun! 

Today was a nice easy 90+ minute ride in a steady rain on my favorite local trail.  Temps weren't quite cool enough, but they'll do.  The humidity here is still getting at me, but I'll take what today gave any day.  The rest of this week is going to be warmer, and I'm hoping to get in a nice little "road trip" this weekend with some friends to go and ride.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Couple of good rides

Coupla good rides the last couple days.  Both on the dirt and both nice and muddy.  I understand the appeal of 'cross racing, but it seems a little overblown when people talk about all the mud and rough conditions.  Seems like EVERYDAY on the mountain bike is a mixture of sand, mud, dirt, and whatever else is in the way.  Rocks, roots, and jumps make things so much fun.  Cross is awesome, but riding a mountain bike, to me anyway, kind of beats it.  Not to mention disc brakes and suspension allow you to do so many things a cross bike just can't do.  I love mountain bikes and I love cross racing, but if I had to choose between the two, the fat tires would win every time.

Anyway, enjoyed the last couple of days riding in the mud.  The weather seems to be looking like rain for the rest of the weekend, so the trails should be muddy and fun for the next couple days.  I'm considering riding the road bike with some friends tomorrow, but that would entail me waking up super early on the one day I get to sleep in a bit ('till 7am instead of 4:30am!).  Looks like it'll be a gametime decision.

On another note, I'm seriously considering this race for next year.  If I can get in it might be the only race I do next year:) Check out this vid:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nuthin'

Didn't ride a bike today.  And I'm ok with that.  Part of me wanted to get out and ride, but the other part just told me to chill and not do anything.  We had some very strong thunderstorms today, and getting soaked when I wasn't really "feeling" it just wasn't my cup of tea today.

As it is, even though I'm not formally training for any particular race right now, I spend at least 2 hours a day on the bike, 6 days a week.  Now, 12 hours of a week of training riding is by no means anything crazy, but it's a pretty sweet spot for me to keep some fitness while still enjoying to ride for the fun of it. After all, fun is the real reason I'm riding right now.  No stress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wow...

I could probably watch this all day...



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Road Ride

Got out on the road bike again today!  Third time in the last 4 days!  The difference I feel in my riding now versus how I did in the middle of my race season is dramatic.  I think I'd be perfect for some 40k TT right now as my power is way up.  However, with that power gain, my weight is about 10-12 pounds heavier than where I was this past summer.  I'm not quite as 'zippy' up the hills, but the flats are just one big blur.  In any regard, I'm happy that my power has gone up.  This will be good if and when I decide to start my 'cross season.

The weather here looks to be taking a turn toward more fall like temps in the next week which has me super psyched to take some day trips to the 'mainland' and do some real techy riding.  Long Island is great if you want some tight and twisty single track, but there isn't too much in the way of technical riding.  I can only think of one trail we have here that has flow to it, allowing for at least some fun downhill action.  Heading to New Jersey or Upstate New York (which are both only a couple hours away) can put you in the mix of more typical East Coast rocky and rooty goodness.  I'm either headed up to Lake Placid for the weekend or taking a day trip over to Ramapo Mountain State park on Sunday.  Either one should fulfill my riding fix.  I'll be sure to ACTUALLY take and post some pics when I go!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rode the Road

Got my fat ass out on the road bike for two days in a row this weekend.  Sure it was only about 4 hours of total riding over the course of two days, but it did feel good to switch things up a bit.  I don't currently have a cross country mtb buit up, so all my off road riding is done on my 5 and 6 inch full suspension bikes.  Needless to say, they're a bit more sluggish than a nice hardtail 29er.  Heck, even my full sus hifi 29er feels like a hardtail compared to my trail bikes!

I'm still not committing to any racing, but I'm starting to get the itch for cross.  It's still kinda hot and humid here, so the "'cross" weather hasn't completely grabbed me by the neck, but seeing race reports and recaps on line is starting to chip away at me.  Only problem is I gotta get a bike to race first!






Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slept...

Just slept for about 12 hours.  Haven't slept this long for too long.  Rest is something I haven't put a high priority on since I've taken my my little hiatus from racing.  It's been more beer and hanging out than resting, even though I'm still riding almost every day.   Today I think I'll start to focus a little more on nutrition and rest...feels good to feel 'normal' again:).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another day, more trails

Getting kinda redundant here, but I got out on the trails AGAIN today.  Nothing really different than what I've been up to for the past month plus.  Just enjoying the act of riding a bike and not thinking about racing.  At this point, I'm really considering forgoing the "cross season" I had planned in favor of just continuing the fun.  If anything, I'll at least do the local cross series, but that doesn't start until December so I've got plenty of time to ease back into it.

I meant to include some pics of my new C-dale Jekyll, but I forgot my camera on the ride today.  A picture of it sitting in my living room won't do it justice-it deserves a nice, dirty background.  What I can say, though, is that the bike is absolutely amazing.  Every bit of " hype" that I'd heard about it is true.  The Dyad shock is amazing.  I wouldn't say it climbs like a cross country bike (it is 27lbs afterall!), but for a bike with 6 inches of rear travel, it more than holds its own. 

When things point down in a hurry is where the bike really shines.  It gobbles up everything in its way, and makes getting air ridiculously fun.  All I can say is I can't wipe the smile off my face the whole time I'm riding!  Pics to come soon!




Monday, September 19, 2011

Shreddin' the track

Nothing is better than shredding singletrack...NOTHING.  Got together with a buddy of mine today and we both got out and rocked it.  He's getting more and more comfortable with being on the dirt, and he's beginning to stick with me on the techy downhills.  Not sure he enjoys flying through the air as much as I do, but either way we had some fun today. 

Funniest quote of the day was when John  said, "See, I have this thing where I can't feel my feet."  The funny thing about this is he really can't feel his feet!  He's a badass.  He was in a serious accident where he was hit by a car on his bike and the doctors said he would never walk again.  He responded by doing multiple Ironman races and pushing me on the mountain bike.  He's seriously inspires me every time we get a chance to ride together.  Google him-John Carson!  Awesome guy!

Tomorrow will be a bit more of the same as the last month: just getting out and riding dirt.  I'm secretly planning a trip out west (CO, AZ, CA?) next month.  I wanna get in some good riding somewhere I've never been before the weather turns.  Well, that and I'm gonna start looking for a new career wherever I land! 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kinda of a waste.

Kind of a wasted trip.  As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering a day trip up to some new trails I'd heard were pretty good.  After a little debate this morning, I decided "What the hell" and went for it.  I can't say that it was a complete waste, but if I knew what I was getting for the 90min plus ride, I might have thought twice before taking the plunge.

I was really looking for some good, flowy singletrack with some drops and "pee in your pants" parts.  Jumps would've been nice too, but I wasn't gonna be that picky.  What I got was mostly cross country double track, with some decent single track mixed in.  Sure, it was chunky, rooty, and rocky, but it certainly nothing that couldn't have been ridden on a cross country hardtail bike. 

Basically I think I brought too much bike with me.  Brining six inches of dual suspension travel to this trail was like bringing an atomic bomb to a knife fight.  I'm not saying I'll never ride there again, but I'll be sure to bring my hardtail 29er.

So anyway, the day wasn't a complete waste since I still got to ride my bike for around 4 hours with some newly-met friends, but I could have stayed home and had a much better ride.  I guess the search for good single track continues...









Road Trip? Maybe.

Actually more like a "day trip".  There's a really cool (from what I hear) trail system in a state park that's about 2 hours away from my home.  I hate driving far to ride for the day, but I'm dreadfully bored with what we've got here on Long Island.  Not much elevation change, (duh!), and not many rocks.  We do have some nice, tight and twisty trails, but when you ride them all the time, they get sort of predictable.

So I'm on the fence about taking this trip today.  On one hand, it'll be great fun and a bit of adventure, but on the other hand it's taking a whole day out of a weekend that's already going to be busy and spending money on gas that I'd rather not spend.  In honesty though, the gas money isn't really that big of a deal, and the weekend isn't THAT busy.

Anyway, It'll be a game time decision.  Hopefully, if I do go, my stupid video camera will actually work and I'll get some cool vids to post.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Got it!

Finally picked up my new Cannondale Jekyll from the shop today.  I had been trying to sell a few things (bike parts, bikes, etc.) to come up with the scratch to buy this beast, but was still short up until yesterday.  I had put my Superfly Elite up on Ebay and it didn't move.  I got an email from a guy who was interested when the auction began, but couldn't come up with the money at the time.  He told me to contact him if it didn't go, and low and behold, he came through after no one on Ebay bid on it.  Long story short, he gave me a bit more than I was asking and was a super fair buyer.  Looks like I actually might have made a friend out of the deal!

In honesty, I was never a HUGE fan of the Superfly.  I enjoyed the light weight of the bike, but I felt like it wasn't as stiff as I would have liked it to be.  I have a Trek Paragon (same geometry as the Superfly, just in aluminum) and I've always enjoyed the way it rides.  Sure, the ride is a bit more harsh, but I feel that on the dirt you don't notice that as much as you would on the road.  Low tire pressure takes the edge off, so getting beat up isn't too much of a concern.  I'll pay the weight penalty to have that little extra bit of stiffness and responsiveness a hardtail should have.

So with the money I was able to get from the extra "junk" I sold on Ebay, along with the sale of the Superfly, I was able to pull together enough to get my Jekyll.  All I have to say is that this thing is amazing.  It comes with what Fox calls a "DYAD" shock.  Without going into particulars, you can switch from 90mm of travel in the rear to 150mm with the flip of a switch on the handlebars.  In otherwords you can go from a mountain goat climber to daredevil downhill rider in a snap.  This is particularly good for me, as I've taken recently to jumping just about anything I possibly can, and bombing down flowy singletrack like crazy.

I keep saying this, but I'm really enjoying having fun doing things on a mountain bike I never thought I'd be interested in.  It's not like I've become some crazy freeride maniac, but pushing my limits is a lot of fun.  A few months ago a good weekend would have consisted of 8-12 hours of riding, pushing and trying to gain more fitness.  Now, a good weekend includes packing my Camelback with food, hitting new trails, and sitting by a lake enjoying the fall weather.  Racing will be there when I get back.  Right now I just need to get my head straight and actually ENJOY exercise again:).










Wednesday, September 7, 2011



This song's lyrics are a little dated, but it just pumps me up.  Tito Ortiz came out to this once and I haven't heard it since.  Makes me wanna crush something:).

By  the way, the new header pic is the Cannondale Jekyll which will be in my quiver soon!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baaaack!

Took a little of a hiatus from the blogosphere to find that my blog had been all twisted and whacked out by some malware nonsense.  Sorry to my 2 loyal readers:).

Anyway, not much new going on.  I've really been enjoying 'just riding' lately.  No structured training. No serious riding.  Just cruising.  Going hard and going easy all depends on the trail and how I feel.  No pressure to do anything I don't wanna do.

Just about 99% of all my riding has been on my 5 inch travel, full suspension trail bike (Trek Fuel EX8).  I'm loving this thing to death.  It's fast, comfy, and plush.  Not the fastest bike on the ups, but man does it cruise on the downs.  Been able to really get some air off the jumps and hit some nice drops I wouldn't attempt on my XC bikes.  I'm in the process of selling one of my bikes and some extra bike parts to buy a 6 inch travel bike, the Cannondale Jekyll, which is by all means my dream bike.  It has an adjustable option for the rear suspension that allows you to run either 90mm or 150mm of travel depending on the trail.  It won't necessarily be a race bike, but just a total rockin' and rollin' fun, balls out bike.  Really it's just what I need in my life right now.

As I've mentioned before, I just don't wanna race right now.  I was finding myself too high-strung and too stressed about racing all the time.  Truth is, it wasn't fun anymore.  Sure, training was fun, and I LOVE riding mountain bikes, but I just don't have the desire to push it right now.  And if I can't push it, and race how I want, then I'm not having fun.  This time in my life just isn't right to race.  I'm sure this will change, but right now I need mountain biking to be an outlet for my stress, not a cause.

Ok, enough of that.   I'm planning on doing some ride specific weekends before the fall gets too crazy.  One Upstate New York trip to Lake Placid, and maybe a couple more to New Jersey and Pennsylvania to ride some rocky stuff.  I'm hoping to get out west sooner rather than later, and certainly before the winter hits.  If I don't get out there before then, Spring will definitely have a trip to Colorado, Utah, or somewhere of the like:).

That's it for now.  Catch ya later...









Thursday, August 25, 2011

That's a wrap..for a little bit anyway

Decision made: I'm shutting it down until December. I'm burned out on competition. Actually, I think I'm burned out in my head.

I've been riding my bike every day this week for nothing other than fun. No time measured, no distance, no nothing that even resembles training. I sold a few things and picked up a sweet trail/all-mountain bike and have been focusing on shredding and not on racing. I've gone from wearing lycra to wearing baggies and a loose fitting jersey and to a 'chunky' helmet with a visor on it. My rides have begun when they start and ended when I'm done. Just FUN and nothing else.

If I haven't felt like hammering up a hill I haven't. If I feel like bombing a downhill I do. And I'm not afraid to eat that little extra and drink a few more beers if the mood warrants.

This is all a bit of rambling, but I think I really just overcooked my brain. My training was smart, and I feel I got the best out of myself, but I really believe I made the mistake of being too hard on myself. The fact of the matter is that this year I've earned exactly $0 riding a bike. While it's not about money, that does sort of put things into perspective (at least for me anyway). For all the hours I've trained and sacrifices I've made, if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, it's just not worth doing.

I'm harder on myself than anyone. When I crossed the line at the Wilderness 101 in 8 and a half hours, I was devastated. My plan went to shit, the wheels fell off, and that was the day. What I failed to realize was that no one cares. Sure I do, but none of the guys that finished in front of, or behind me gave a damn. I was racing me. That's it. After all, isn't this what it's all about anyway? Get the most out of what you've got.

Ok, this is all kinda going around in a circle, but I'm just toasted. I love competing, and I'll be back, but for right now I just wanna ride my bike like I was 8 years old, have fun, and get my personal life and affairs in order. The races will be there when I'm ready to come back. :)

Gotta say too, I'm REALLY happy with the bigger suspension bike. It's a 26er and I'm loving it. I had forgotten how much fun these are. Much more twitchy, but that makes it fun. I'll have a little write up on the bike coming soon.

Sorry for the blathering-just had to get it all out there:).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shut it down?

Seriously considering shutting things down for the rest of the season. It's been a really year for me on a personal level, and things don't seem to be getting much better. I'm not blaming it on anything in particular, probably just a whole butt load of bad luck, but that's life I suppose.

Anyway, with that in mind, I'm really thinking about bagging the rest of my race season-at least until 'cross starts. I'm really just feeling very wishy-washy about serious training right now, and kinda just want to ride my bike for fun. I've been dedicated and disciplined throughout the summer, and I think I might just need to let my hair down right now.

I'll probably change my mind in a couple of days or maybe I won't. The only thing I know for sure is that I'll be riding regardless.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pickle...

I've found myself in a bit of a pickle....

I just sold my tri bike. With the money I received for the bike, I intended to buy a new 'cross bike that's been hanging in the shop waiting for me the whole summer. The pickle, though, comes in the fact that I'm not sure that I want to buy it right now. I've had my eye on an All Mountain long travel suspension bike for a bit now, and kinda want that more than the 'cross bike. Add that to the fact that I just don't really feel like racing that much right now, and here I find myself.

Really, what I'd like to do with my fall and early winter is do some bike packing trips. Just head into the woods with a bike and a tent and spend a couple days and nights relaxing in the great outdoors. The all mountain bike would be perfect for that.

My competitive fire has sort of died for the moment. Maybe I'm just burned out, or still bummed from my last race, but I just feel like riding for the enjoyment of riding right now. 'Cross is a load of fun, but I'm not sure I want the responsibility of staying super fit all fall and winter. I mean, I'm sure I will stay fit throughout the winter because I always do, but I kinda just wanna step back and enjoy just riding my bike for nothing other than fun. Maybe I'm just too competitive:).

Anyway, this is all just how I'm feeling at this moment. I might wake up tomorrow and wanna kick some ass. Who knows. My motivation (as well as my life) is all over the map right now.

Sunday

Along with a life changing event comes the desire to change...I guess. Either way, that's what I think I need right now, if nothing more than to get my head back on straight. Whatever...

This weekend started out well, but pretty much went to shit today. With an XC race coming up (it'll be 21 miles total), my focus this past week has been on short and sharp efforts. I've already got my "hay in the barn" from training for long distance events all summer, so getting a little top end speed is really whats needed.

My technical skills are at they're sharpest right now, so I've spent some extra time on the road bike working my engine. I really love the road. Something about it, I don't know if it's the "romance" of riding a road bike, the speed, or the efficiency, that makes me like it, but it is a welcome treat. Don't get me wrong though, nothing beats techy, rocky singletrack on a mountain bike or dirt roads on a cross bike, but I'm enjoying riding the road. Maybe I just like to ride ALL bikes?:)

So anyway, yesterday I spent 2 hours on the trails, attacking the hills and keeping the tempo steady otherwise. Today I was meant to ride the road easy for 3 hours, but because of helping my mother out with some stuff, I was only able to get in an easy hour 'recovery' spin early this morning. Kinda suited me though, as my legs were still a little tired. I'll get out on the road tomorrow for a few hours to make up for today before starting to really focus on sharpening up for the coming weekend.

I don't know what to expect and I don't know how I'll do at straight up XC racing, but regardless it'll be fun. I'm really hoping to win a raffle they're having for a sweeeeet all mountain bike at the race. I know I've got a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning it, but man, it would be sweet to get a nice long travel all mountain bike. I'd love to do some over-night bike packing weekends this fall and that bike would be perfect for it. Fingers are definitely crossed!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still don't know what to say...

It's been a few days since my last post. I usually try to post something every day, but I just haven't known what to say.

For the most part this has been the toughest year I can remember having. Personal woes, financial issues, and work problems have just continued to add up and up and up until I'm just at my breaking point. Actually, that's not true-I'm not sure I really have a breaking point:).

Anyway, I recently ended a relationship that meant the world to me. It ended fairly and in honesty I think it's for the best, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Sometimes things just don't work. That's life. We make plans and God laughs.

Compounding the personal issues has been the fact that I've had to take things pretty easy on the bike since the Wilderness 101. I had to go to the doc and get checked out and everything came back fine, but I'm still suffering from some lightheadedness every now and again. It's getting better as the days go by, but it's still there. Kind of annoying. This has made things difficult in regards to training because I'm really trying not to overextend myself. I've gotten out for a ride most days last week and every day this week, but nothing too long or too hard. It really leaves me wondering whether or not to shut it down until 'cross starts, or just soldier through and race my last few mountain bike races.

Anyway, enough negative thoughts. Just had to get that all out on the "interwebs". :) On a better note, I finally sold my tri bike on ebay and should be receiving payment for it tomorrow. Said payment will go directly to my bike shop so I can at last pick up my new 'cross bike! The poor thing has been sitting in the shop ALL summer! I think it's time to build that baby up, get it dirty, and get ready for some fall 'cross action!!! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirty...

So far being thirty has sucked. Plain and simple. Just. Sucked.

Yesterday

Definitely went a bit too hard yesterday. Felt good while I was riding but the rest of the day was filled with the familiar symptom of dizziness that's been with me while I've been recovering. Not terrible, but it was there for sure.

Today will be more of an easy spin (if anything), followed by resting my ass off some more. The good part about work being slow is that I can sit on my ass for an afternoon with my feet up. The bad part, of course, is that I'm not making any money while I'm doing it!

On a side note I picked up a pair of Sidi Genius Pro 5 Shoes the other day. I've never had a high end proper pair of road shoes, so these are a bit of a treat. Unbelievable how plush these are. They're not cheap, but straight out of the box you realize just where your money went. I've never had a more comfortable shoe on me feet, and I'm sure as these get more and more worked in they'll be even that much better. I'm hoping that (and for the price they better!) these will last a long time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another good ride

Another good ride on the road today. Probably went a little too hard at times, but still felt good. The only difference between today and yesterday is that I'm pretty tired after this ride. Yesterday was the perfect tempo while today was just a bit above what I should be doing. I'll rest up for the rest of today and try to stay off my feet. Should help.

Tomorrow is probably either going to be a complete rest day or just an easy 60 minute spin. I'm really focusing on taking things very easy this week. Like I've said before, I really, really, really don't want to set myself back by going too hard. I'm already afraid that I might have burned a couple too many matches today, but we'll see how things go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First ride back

Got in any easy, easy 60 minute ride this morning as my first back since Wilderness. The road bike was a welcome companion today for sure. I took it really easy, mostly just a simple little spin, but it felt fantastic to be back on two wheels again.

I think in addition to my fatigue and exhaustion, I've been having a little "exercise withdrawal" too. I missed my endorphins and I'm glad to have them back!

Tomorrow I plan on taking it easy again, but riding for a little while longer. I'll gauge the time based on how I feel, but I'd like to cap it at 90 minutes. Baby steps for now will save me from overdoing things and toasting myself.

One good thing I noticed today was that I feel fresh, not out of shape. My legs feel just as strong if not stronger than they did before the race, though of course I didn't really get a chance to properly test them today. No matter, they'll be there when I need them I'm sure!

Monday, August 8, 2011

When training and racing go wrong...

Haven't written much in the last few days. Not for any reason but there's been absolutely NOTHING happening.

A couple days after Wilderness, I had a funny episode where I had shortness of breath and dizzyness. Kinda freaked me out, but I knew that I had gone hard in the race and was extremely dehydrated at the end. Not to mention the fact that I didn't sleep or hydrate well in the days before, or that I drove 6 hours home shortly after I got off my bike. It was all a perfect storm for complete exhaustion.

I was freaked out, but decided to give it until the end of the week to see if anything changed. There was never another shortness of breath episode, but I couldn't shake the feeling of being dizzy and lightheaded. Friday came and things didn't change so I got my ass to the doctor.

I was examined for everything, had my heart checked and my blood drawn. The prognosis: I'm just one tired mofo! The funny thing is that I don't feel tired, sleepy, or fatigued, but my body is just not ready to push.

I haven't ridden or even exercised since the race, and I'm going to let my body fully recover before I get out and start riding hard again. In all reality I could go out and ride, but I'd more than likely push my complete recovery back, or stop it completely. Not a good idea considering I still have a few races left in the season, not to mention 'cross season coming up.

Like I said, I haven't ridden in almost a week and a half. I'm feeling a little soft and like I'm unfit, but I'm sure once I hop back on the bike in the next few days it'll all get back to normal. I'm planning on just riding super easy this week, probably no more than 90 mins or so at a time. Also, in all likelyhood, it'll probably be all on the road. I'm really focusing on NOT stressing my body any more than it has to, while still keeping some form of fitness. My next race is on the 27th of this month, and it'll only be a 'C' priority race. After that I'm looking at the Terror of Teaberry, a 40 mile super rocky and technical race. Then 'cross season begins and I'll be focusing there. I'll probably do the Something Wicked Events 6 Hours of Cathedral Pines race, but I kinda want to do it as a team instead of solo like last year.

In the end I'm just happy to have gotten a clean bill of health from the doctor. More important than any cycling is health. If I'm not alive, how the hell can I ride my bike??? ;) For now just restin' up and giving my body the TLC it deserves.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Restin', restin', restin'

I'm not going into it again, but after my less than stellar race this past weekend, I decided to take a complete week off the bike and pretty much any exercise at all. My body just hasn't felt "right" since Monday, so maybe I ought to listen to it and hang it up for a little bit.

I can't remember the last time (without sickness) that I went more than a day without some sort of movement. It amazes me that people actually live like this! I'm starting to think that I haven't felt quite normal because I'm not exercising. Not exactly sure, but that's just my theory.

Anyway, most likely won't do much until next Tuesday when I start back on the bike again. I've registered for my first XC race on August 27th and will be looking forward to the short and hard effort. I'm still on the fence about doing any long races again this season. There is a 40 miler and a 4 hour race that are on my radar, as well as the Something Wicked Events 6 Hours of Cathedral Pines race that I'm still kinda into doing. For some reason though I'm just not willing to commit to the longer stuff at this moment-almost like my heart just isn't into it. Maybe time will adjust my thought...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just a thought...

Maybe it's the dissappointment I'm still dealing with from this past weekend, or the fact that my body is just crying out in pain with every step, but I'm seriously thinking of dedicating the rest of my mountain bike season to shorter, true XC events. I never considered racing these, but now I'm starting to think it might be an overall good decision. There are still some good races left, they're cheaper, and I might actually be good at them.

The only thing that I have to worry about is that I'll have to start racing in the Sport Category since I've never raced any USA Cycling Events before. Then again, if that's the only worry, then I should shut up and do well enough to get my cat 1/pro license instead of bitching:).

Anyway, just a thought for now...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wilderness 101 Race Report

Ok, since I think these are boring things to write and read (unless you won the damn thing), I'm gonna try and keep it short and sweet.

Overall I'm really disappointed in my race. I did some dumb things in the final 48 hours that completely destroyed the expectations I had. Basically, I didn't sleep well for the final two nights before the race, spent the day before the race out in the sun and heat sweating and dehydrating myself, then slept on the ground in a tent sweating all night-further diminishing any hydration I had feebly tried to replenish that afternoon. While I'm still a rookie to mountain bike racing, I'm not a rookie to endurance racing. I should have known better and have no one to blame but myself.

Race morning I woke up feeling like absolute dog crap. If I had had a training ride planned for that day instead of a race I would have cancelled it. I knew at that point it was going to be a long day. After a quick breakfast of a Cliff Bar and Banana, I warmed up and headed to the start.

The first 60 miles was good. I stuck with the second group and worked with the other riders to keep out speeds high. So much of the race was on gravel roads and double track it allowed us to really keep things moving. I was feeling good and thinking that maybe the day would be salvaged.

Everyone had said prior to the start that the race really doesn't start until the last 41 miles. Very true. There is some gnarly climbing and some rocky singletrack that makes things hard when your legs are already burning from the extended gravel road climbs. Nevertheless, I was still feeling good. UNTIL... the cramps started. The dehydration I had been managing to fend off was now coming back to bite me in the ass (actually more like the inner thighs and quads). From this point on, it was all damage control. Any power to the pedals would result in my legs locking up and me having to dismount the bike and walk to get them uncramped. Very demoralizing and VERY frustrating. The pattern was as follows: Ride, pain, dismount, walk, try to ride, curse, repeat. I seriously must have walked at least 25 percent of the final 40 miles.

Finally, to add insult to injury, I got lost with about 2 miles left in the race. I missed an arrow and climbed up another gravel road for about 15 minutes before realizing I had gone wrong. Awesome. I descended the climb, limped it in to the finish, and got off the bike. Finished around 8 hours and 30ish minutes. Disappointment. Disappointment. Disappointment.

Ok, now I know I sound all negative and whatnot, but I AM terribly upset with myself for taking such a casual attitude into this race. Maybe I was a bit overconfident, or even cocky, and it taught me a very valuable lesson. When I go on these race trips I try to treat it like a business trip. Be professional and race like you mean it. Well, I did neither, and this is what happened. There will be other races, and I'm certain this type of thing ain't happening again.

So now I'm moving onward. I'm considering not racing the Shenendoah Mountain 100 (another NUE series race), and instead doing a couple 50 milers and a 4 hour race. After that I might hunt around for some more fall season mountain bike races, or just focus on cyclocross. The only thing holding me from coming straight out and saying I WON'T do the SM 100 is that I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from Wilderness 101. I might wanna take another stab at the 100 mile game before the end of the season. I'll make up my mind soon.

The next couple days will be dedicated to getting some rest and figuring out what and where I wanna race next month. Something tells me that no matter what races I choose, I'll have a much better appreciation for pre-race preparation.

That is all. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday

After a great weekend (albeit with the worst migrane I've had in years), I'm super pumped to get racin' this weekend. I'm so happy I got a chance to check out Waywayanda and it's lovely rockiness, not to mention hammer on the road bike the day before. Both sessions were real confidence boosters going into Wilderness.

Yesterday was a pretty mellow mountain bike ride with a few 90 second race efforts thrown in. I got these from Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible and did them before the Stoopid 50. I really think these work well for keeping me sharp while keeping the overall volume down. Felt great on the trails and had to work to keep myself from overreaching quite a few times.

Today is going to be another mellow ride, this time on the road bike, with a few more 90 sec race efforts thrown in. I'd like to keep the ride time below 90 minutes, but may even go for less if it's hot and humid. No need to burn matches now.

As for bike choice, I'm 99% sure I'm going with the full suspension rig for the race. After riding both last weekend, I'm nearly convinced that there is no need for hardtails in endurance racing. I mean, I haven't been doing this all that long, but if you're going to be spending 5+ hours on ANY off road situation (excluding gravel and dirt roads), I can't see how modern suspension can hurt you. Just my 2 cents, but all I know is I feel less beat up and much faster on my full squish bike than I ever felt on a hardtail. So much so, I'm even considering selling my hardtail! Any takers???:)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Waywayanda State Park

I had the opportunity to head west a little bit to the great state of New Jersey yesterday to ride my mountain bike. Catch the sarcasm? Anyway, I have family that lives close to the park, and from what I heard about the trails being rocky, techy and gnarly, I couldn't pass up the trip.

I had originally planned on racing the Curse of Dark Hallow in Pennsylvania this weekend, but in the end it was smarter to save a bit of money and energy riding Waywayanda instead. The trails are a mix of double and singletrack, with plenty of rocks, roots, and technical descents and ascents. It was like a little slice of East Coast Heaven.

The two vids I shot (check out the links to my vimeo page at the bottom of this post) are pretty basic portions of the trail. My camera ran out before I got to the really techy stuff, but you can get a pretty good idea of the rock garddens and downhills from what I was able to shoot. Also, if you fast forward toward the end of the second vid, there's a really cool bridge I rode over a swamp. Glad I made it-didn't want to find out what was in the water!

http://vimeo.com/26888403
http://vimeo.com/26885570

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday

Got up early this morning to discover that I didn't have to head in to work, so I hopped on the road bike to bang out a hard effort which will be my last "serious" training until Wilderness.

After all was said and done, I got in close to three hours, about 2/3rd's of which was as hard as I could go. I've been really happy working without a computer or power meter, but today is one of those days I wished I had one. It would've been nice to see some data after today, not only for distance and time, but power numbers I'm sure would have been some of the highest I've ever put out.

I'm very happy with where I'm at fitness wise right now. I'm the fastest I've ever been on the bike, but surely not as fast as I'll be at this time next year. Might have to pick up a Garmin at some point so I can actually track my progress!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Crash!

There really was very little reason to get out and go for a ride today. First of all, it was deathly hot today. The kind of heat they tell you not to go out in because you seriously might die. Secondly, because of the heat, I decided that the intervals I was planning for today needed not to be done. And thirdly, I'm just about a week out from the Wilderness 101 and if there are any matches to be burned, they certainly don't need to be burned right now.

Anyway, being that I was excited to ride my hardtail again for the first time in a couple weeks, I got out and hit the trails anyway. Even from the beginning I found it hard to breath. It's been a rather humid week, but today was just the icing on the cake. Oppressive doesn't even begin to describe it today.

So.... about halfway through the ride, I accelerate to get up to a log crossing (of which I've ridden and cleared dozens of times now), get up, and quickly loose my wheel to one side of the log while I fly through the air in the other direction. Now, I'm not one to say that I'm some crazy ninja, but damn am I good at falling. I really believe spending years training mixed martial arts gave me the ability to land softly on almost any part of my body and "roll" out of almost anything. Just a natural reaction I guess, but I was up and on my feet before I knew it. I wish I had video of it because it must have looked awesome. I picked up the bike (which was fine) and got on with the rest of the ride.

After that, not much happened. Just smacked my hand on a tree, hit my knee on a rock, and wished I'd stayed home and taken a nap:). One important thing did occur to me though. I've gone on and on about how much I like my HIFI and how sold I am on full suspension mountain bikes, and today really justified it for me. Riding the hardtail again was nice, but after feeling the efficiency of a full sus bike, I can't see myself racing long races on anything else. Sure the HIFI is heavier, but it rolls over so much, and extrememly smoothly. It flows on singletrak, and handles beautifully. Before the ride today I was debating on which bike to ride for the W101. I'm not 100% positive I'll be on the HIFI.

Tomorrow I'll more than likely try to get out early and head for a group road ride if I don't have work. If I do have to work, I might hit the trails for a bit if the temps are too much, or ride the road if they're not. No matter what, it'll be a pretty easy day. Sunday is up to Waywayanda State Park to ride some rocks for extra practice, then all next week will be focused to rest, recovery, and getting set to slay the Wilderness 101.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More on the HIFI

So I know I've talked my new full suspension mtb to death, but I really do love this thing. If I could do it all over again, I would sell all the bikes I have an buy a Superfly 100. Full suspension is really where it's at in mountain biking. I know there are some courses and venues where a hardtail is appropriate, but for the east coast United States, with the rocks and roots, a 29er full suspension rig WILL make you a better rider.

The one and ONLY complaint I have about the bike, and this is probably an issue with ALL fully suspended mountain bikes, is that it makes a hell of a lot of "clicky" noise. Not a "bad" clicky noise, just the noise of parts moving. When you think about it, there are more a whole lot of moving parts on the frame that allow your back wheel to move up and down, so naturally, there might start to be some creaking when you apply pressure to your pedals. It's not a downfall of the bike, it's just something I'll have to get used to.

So other than the little "clicks" the bike makes to let me know it's there, the thing is an absolute rocket. I plan on riding my hardtail tomorrow. It should be interesting to see the difference between the bikes.

Oh, and one thing I forgot, but is important: There is a pretty big difference in the way you catch air on a full sus bike as opposed to a hardtail. I've noticed that the back of the bike comes up way more and way faster off a small jump than a hardtail does. I'm assuming this is a result of loading the rear suspension with pressure and releasing it upon takeoff. Certainly something to be aware of as I've had some near endo's more than a few times now. :)

Hot

Seems like just yesterday I was complaining to everyone that would listen about how I was so bummed out about the snow covering the trails. Now it's the heat that's crushing me! In reality it's not that bad. I really like being in the heat, and I believe I'm actually stronger when it gets soupy and humid. The biggest obstacle I face is forgetting to hydrate properly. More than not, I find myself with that "hangover" headache after a hot day on the bike. Need to work on that.

Yesterday I was out on the road bike. Even though I had planned on taking it relatively easy, things got going and I upped it to some tempo work. I have a habit of going with where my body takes me, and yesterday it was asking for some hard riding so I obliged. In the end I probably spent about 90 mins of my 2:30 ride at tempo pace. It was nice to put some power into the pedals and get some solid work done despite the heat and humidity of a midday session. I remembered to drink, and took care to make sure I got in some proper recovery afterwards, both in the way of nutrition and hydration.

The legs are a little sluggish this morning, so today will ABSOLUTELY be an easy day. It's supposed to get hotter and more humid today, so I'll be careful not to over extend myself. More than likely I'll have a mellow ride on the trails and chill out afterward. I've been having some issues with my IT band lately, so I'll be sure to take care of that as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Made up my mind.

The decision has been made-no race this weekend. I had been kicking around the idea of racing the Curse of Dark Hallow 40 miler this weekend as a last prep for the Wilderness 101 the following weekend, but in the end, I think I've come to a mindful and responsible decision.

As I outlined yesterday, there were two positives and two negatives to racing this weekend as I saw it. Eventually, I came to the decision that in order to save money and in all likelyhood ENERGY for the race, I'd take a little day trip about 2 hours away to ride some good, techy, rocky singletrack. A friend of a friend who is now my friend (following?), suggested the trails to me yesterday during a ride. The new friend, John, has had his story on slowtwitch.com. Really cool dude. He was slated to compete at Leadville this year, but decided to move his entry to next year on the advice of doctors. John had raced at the trails he suggested earlier this year, and in effect saved me time and money, not to mention most likely giving me a great training day before I rest for Wilderness. Thanks man!

Yesterday was a double header: Hard tempo ride on the mtb for about 75 mins, then out on the road bike for some hill repeats with friends. I never really do many hill repeats as structured workouts, but after the tempo work on the mtb I really like the way they let my legs feel. I'm feeling super fit right now, but with that I have to be careful not to push things too much and burn too many matches in this last week and a half before Wilderness. I REALLY REALLY wanna do well at this race so I'm going to try and be uber-careful. 'Nuff said.

Today I'm going to more than likely scale things back a little with an easy-is 2 hours on the road bike. This is subject to change of course if I feel like hittin' the dirt a little. It's suppossed to be balls hot again today, so perhaps the shade of ridin' in the woods might actually be the smarter choice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday

Gonna be a HOT one today. Looking forward to getting back on the bike though-as I always do after a rest day. I'm planning on a 2 and change hour off-road ride today. I'm still a little undecided on whether or not to race this weekend, which is throwing a little of a wrench into my training plans.

The two biggest benefits of racing this weekend would be getting some more practice on the gnarly Pennsylvania rocks, and squeezing some more miles into the legs. The two biggest negatives would be the risk of burning too many matches before Wilderness 101, and spending extra money on the trip that I should probably be saving. Both sets of factors are valid and making things really hard to decide on what to do.

The one solution to this dilemma might just be to take a nearby day trip and get in some good techy riding. That way, I won't be tempted to go "race hard", and I'll save money while still being able to get in the benefit of riding and practicing on some rocks. The only problem with that is where the hell do I go? Seems the only rocky trails I know enough to ride are in State College PA, a nearly 6 hour car drive away. I'm sure there is something closer, but I'm afraid that once I got there I might not know enough about the trails to put in a solid ride. Either way, I've got a few more days left to decide on what to do.

In other news...

I've been really stressed out about work of late. I've got some side projects in the works, but for the day to day stuff, I just need a big time change. I've been personal training now for almost 10 years and while I still love it, things are starting to get a little old. I either need to get a spark from working with more athletes, changing things up, or something... Or, I need to look for a new career. I'd love to work in the bike industry, but I have no idea on where to start. I'm completely up for relocating, I just need to find a job first. If anyone has any ideas, let me know! :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Weekend

After a sub-par mountain bike ride on Saturday, I finished up strong on Sunday with a nice long road ride. It's funny, but I never thought to actually do some of the "tour" type/century rides as training. When you think about it, you might pay a small fee to sign up for them, but most are fully supported and done on some nice roads. Add to that the fact that not only are there other people to chat with on the ride, but because of the amount of people riding is safer because drivers can see you much better.

So today is pretty much a rest/stretch/foam rolling day. Looking forward to chilling out a bit and relaxing. I'm about 80% sure I'm going to race this weekend, so the rest of the week will be determined by that decision. The Wilderness 101 is a week from this coming Saturday and I really wanna crush that race. I'll have to see how I'm feeling during the week. If I'm feeling good, I'll race this Sunday, if not, then I'll take the opportunity to rest up and get ready to go for the W101.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Damn


The next time someone tells me that cyclists are just a bunch of fairies in lycra, I'll show them this pic. Damn. That's a B.A.M.F. (Bad Ass Mother- "Figure out the rest")

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Aw Crap.

NOT a good ride today. Started off well, but just never got rollin'. Lots of stopping and turning around, messing with my bike, and generally letting stupid crap get to me.

I had planned to make today an "adventure day" on the mtb. There are some old and barely used trails I wanted to take a peek at today. Yeah...they sucked. I guess I didn't realize that when trails are barely used, they normally aren't any good. So therein was my stopping every 5 minutes and turning my dumbass around to get back on a trail that actually went somewhere.

Then, after riding a bit, I noticed some clicking in my new bike!!! Instead of thinking rationally and realizing that things need to "settle" a little in any new bike, I wigged out and started tinkering with stuff. Sure I could have just realized that if everything was tight and good, there probably was no problem, but that just wouldn't be me:).

Anyway, turns out it's not a big deal with the shock, just needed an adjustment and some of bolts on the pivots needed to be tightened. Kinda bummed I let it get to me so much... Oh well. Tomorrow's another day.

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm going to do the Tour of the Gold coast. It's kinda a big "gran fondo" type of ride. Some guys race it, others just ride. I'm looking to just ride, but I'm not making promises. Once the competitive juices get flowing... Either way, it's a good way to get some saddle time in on the road-something I really hate doing. Riding on the dirt is just so much more fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wow!!! First HiFi ride report

Ok, ok, I know I posted the same pic yesterday, but I'm just THAT excited about this bike!

Being that this is the first full suspension bike I've ever owned (or ridden for that matter), I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I had been thinking it was going to be pretty squishy, and that I would notice a HUGE difference in power transfer compared to my hardtail. For all intents and purposes, I expected this bike to be a slow accelerating, but comfy ride that I might get frustrated with.

Honestly, I couldn't have been more wrong. From the first pedal stroke, I was amazed with how quickly this thing accelerated. It really doesn't feel all that much different from my hardtail in that regard. Sure it feels different, but not in a bad way.

Handling was a bit different as well, but again, not in a bad way. Every bike handles slightly different-even if it's set up the same. The chainstays are slightly longer on this bike compared to my HT, so the long wheelbase is just a bit less nimble. I felt a tiny bit slower in the twisty stuff at first, but once I adapted to the change, it was barely noticeable. The biggest thing I did notice, was that this bike really really SITS in the corners. I've had a similar sensation after running lower pressure in my rear tire on my HT, but with the added suspension on the HiFi, I can really be aggressive in the turns and not have to worry about loosing traction.

Downhills are FAAAAST! So fast, in fact, I got caught off guard a few times and nearly went off the trail after screaming through a bumpy downhill. 29er full suspension bikes are like cheating in this regard. It rolls over EVERYTHING-and quickly! I thought the HT was efficient...not as much as this!

And finally, techy uphills are much mush easier. From what I can gather, a full suspension bike really rewards the efficient rider. The better your pedal stroke, the better the bike will suit you. Less "pedal bob" and more grippyness on the short, sharp, and loose climbs. Even when you stand up and mash the pedals, the rear tire grabs because, unlike a hardtail, the frame absorbs the power and puts it directly into the tire. The result is you get less skid and more grip. Basically, it relieves you of the need to softpedal when things get slippy.

Overall, I couldn't be more satisfied. I'm completely sold on the use of a full suspension bike-so much so, that if you were to ask me to have one bike, it would be this one. I never imagined how efficient this bike could be, and I'm so happy I decided to get it.