Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I finally seem to have broken through my fatigue! Monday morning was the first day in about two weeks where I woke up and didn't feel tired. That's no good for riding! I've been battling a toothache for the past few weeks too; I went to the dentist again yesterday and I think we've got it figured out.

I've got a little vacation coming up this week. The family is going to Boston (by car), so it will be interesting to see if I get any rest on that trip or not.

The Pontiac Lake cross-country race is just after I get back. It will be my first Expert race. I'm sort of looking forward to it, and sort of not. I still don't feel like I have any high-end fitness. At least Pontiac Lake is a trail that I know really well.

Novi Relay

I had a good time at the Novi Tree Farm Relay this weekend, despite some bad weather and some not-so-good riding. It ended up raining a lot before we raced and some during the race, so the trail was pretty muddy.

I got there early to try to get a good feeling about riding on the trail (I hadn't ridden my mountain bike in a week). After my recon ride (maybe it was too short?), I didn't feel great about my Kenda Karma tires in the mud. Maybe I just don't have enough experience riding them yet; certainly plenty of people rode well on less-knobby tires. Anyway, I decided to switch to my mud tires (some old Geax Barro's) mounted to my old wheels.

I rode 3rd on our team. The trail was in a little worse shape than when I'd ridden it earlier, but it wasn't terrible. I didn't ride particularly well that first lap, lots of little bobbles (and one topple), and I didn't push myself as hard as I should have. It rained on me a few times, but it didn't really affect me too much.

Everybody on the team was turning in decent laps though, and we were in 2nd place when I started my second lap. It had stopped raining for my second lap, but the trail was much muddier. I felt like I rode much better the second lap, no bobbles and better pacing, but the mud slowed me enough that my lap time was a little slower. In terms of pacing, it seemed to help me to have Sport racers to chase down. In contrast, my first lap was basically a time trial, I only saw one other person on the trail.

The team ended up a pretty solid 2nd place in Advanced Co-ed. 1st place was a long way ahead of us, and 3rd place was pretty far behind us. I ended up with the 2nd fastest aggregate time on our team, so I guess I rode OK, but I was really shooting for lap times under 50 minutes.

This race sort of reminded me of the Ruby Campground race last year. Same last minute tire changes, questionable rest and fitness, sub-par bike handling, low motivation, first race of the year, etc. Just got a much better result this time around.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recovery Time!

It's definitely time to try to recover. I got a somewhat rude reminder of that at the track last night. It was a TT night, and my main objective was to try to pace myself better. Last time I went out too hard and rode inconsistent laps. I felt like I did pace myself a better this time, but I only ended up riding one second faster than last time.

We just did one race after that. My front derailleur suddenly decided not to work properly (it was fine for the TT), so I had to do the race in the small ring. I'd like to blame my poor performance on that, but it probably didn't make much difference. I ended up getting popped only a lap and a half in... not so good. The race wasn't so fast that I shouldn't have been able to at least hang on.

I was pretty worn down all last week and I haven't gotten off to a good start this week. My nutrition was bad (for me) last week too. Anyway, it's all just an indication that I need to rest up. So, the plan is to take it easy for the rest of this week. I'll try to get out for a little while on Friday night to wake up the legs before the race on Saturday, but that's about all I plan to do.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Maiden Voyage

This week ended up being a long one. It was the last week of a training block, I was busy at work, and Nathan wasn't wanting to go to sleep. That's how it goes sometimes I guess.

Friday night, Cora helped me clean up the bikes in preparation for the weekend. She liked putting soap on the tires...

I did some riding at Lakeshore Park on Saturday in preparation for the relay next weekend. Apparently, my Friday preparation was lacking... I forgot to bring a mini pump or CO2 inflator (fortunately, I didn't need them) and I forgot to put a bottle cage on my mountain bike. So I ended up riding around with a bottle in my jersey pocket... not ideal for a hot, humid day.

I rode 2.5 loops on Saturday, and I'm feeling pretty well-prepared for the race. It should be a good time.

I've been so busy that I haven't posted this yet, but I bought a new 'cross bike. I ended up deciding on a Salsa Chili con Crosso. I also tested out a Bianchi Cross Concept. Each bike had it's own advantages and disadvantages, it was a hard choice to make. Regardless, either one was a step up from my current bike.

Here's the Salsa this morning before it's maiden voyage...

I set out today in search of some hilly dirt roads. This time, I rode from home and headed out toward Davisburg. Some local singlespeed guys are doing a self-supported ride next weekend called the "Spartacus 100", since they had the route posted, I thought I'd check it out... at least, the first part.

The roads they picked were pretty decent: mostly low traffic and in basically good condition. It just wasn't as hilly as I'd hoped for (at least, not on a geared bike!). My GPS and SportTracks calculated only 425ft of climbing over the 3 hours. My Auburn Hills / Lake Orion routes easily give me 600-800ft in much less time (I still want to improve those too!).

Oh well, the weather was perfect for a ride this morning, and I really liked the new bike, so I can't complain too much. I will need some time to adapt to the SRAM shifting though. There were a few times when I was trying to shift to an easier gear but didn't make the second click, and ended up in a harder gear. Not really a problem on the road, but it could be bad on the 'cross course. Still, it's just the first ride, so I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

Monday, July 12, 2010


"Dude, you're killing it on that singlespeed!"

I'm opening my racing season this year with the Novi Tree Farm Relay. It should be a pretty fun race; the Rhinos are bringing 4 teams, so that will be cool.

I got out there for a group ride on Sunday. I brought my singlespeed, thinking it would be an easier-paced ride... it wasn't. I was able to hang pretty well anyway. With the rigid fork, the little chattery roots were killing my hands though.

I was reminded again how important good vision habits are to riding singletrack quickly. On sections where there was less underbrush and I could see pretty far ahead, I felt like I was ripping along pretty well. When the brush got heavy and I couldn't see, I was way slower...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I rode my bike to work today for the first time in years (since 2005!). Back in 2004, I commuted pretty regularly, but I stopped as I got more serious about racing. I decided to start back up again in an attempt to get a little more riding in during the week. The route I took today is a little less direct than my 2004 route and ended up being about 11.5 miles... pretty hilly as I get close to work too.

The riding was nice, but I've forgotten a few things about commuting. The big one was that it isn't so comfortable to carry a bunch of stuff on your body. Today I took my clothes, shoes, lunch, cable lock, and some basic repair stuff, all in a messenger bag. I used to bring my clothes and shoes ahead of time so I didn't have to carry them around. I also used to have a rear rack on my commuter bike so I didn't have to carry stuff on my back; I didn't particularly like the way that changed the handling of the bike though.

Next time, I think I will at least bring in my clothes and shoes ahead of time. It should cut down on the bulk of the bag quite a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much stronger I felt than I did back in 2004 (I guess it shouldn't be a big surprise). I always used to suffer a bit on the hills as I got close to my office. Today though, they just didn't seem as bad as I remembered.

Monday, July 05, 2010


I had a nice weekend of riding. People have been complaining a bit about the heat (it's been above 90F during the day), but I've been enjoying it. Maybe it's because my knee was messed up this Spring and I'm still in the mode where I'm just happy to be riding at all.

On Saturday, I did some laps out at Addison Oaks. It's definitely become one of my favorite trails to ride. I was thinking about how, when 'cross season starts, I always have to pay more attention to my shifting. It's very obvious when you're in the wrong gear when you're racing wheel-to-wheel with someone. It made me wonder if I do the same thing on the trail, but just don't notice since, even in a race, there's usually no one right in front of me. It's something I'll try to work on a bit.

I tried for another hilly ride on Sunday. I've definitely found a good hill, on Drahner Rd, near Bald Mountain / Addison Oaks, but the rest of the roads I checked out were a little too flat. They did have plenty of momentum-sucking sandy gravel though! So, the hilly ride is still a work in progress...