Sunday, May 31, 2009

Brighton Race

Today was the Brighton Race. I have been wanting to race here for a while but every year there seems to be other things going on the same day as Brighton: weddings, baptisms, family picnics...more important stuff. I live right off the trail so this is where I have done 95% of my riding for the last 12 years. In my previous two single speed races I finished 2nd and 1st so I was very optimistic about today. The neighbors, which watch me with curiosity as I take off on rides in sub-Artic temperatures, decided to come watch since the trail head is just a couple minutes from our street. Today was perfect weather; sunny and cool. Everything was looking up.

We didn't go to church this morning so I had 5 hrs to get my bike ready. All I had to do is change my rear gear. I had 12 years to figure out which gear to use so I knew I got it right. My front tire was a little low on air. I decided to change the tube just in case this slow leak got worse. My rear wheel had come loose at the previous race. I noticed my Salsa skewers were smooth where they clamp the frame. I swapped them out with Shimano skewers that aren't smooth so the wheel wouldn't budge. I also changed my pedals. I really like Bebop pedals but Shimano pedals hold cleats much more secure so I could stand up and pedal as hard as I could without worrying about my shoe releasing. I am not athletic but I am prepared. Everything was looking up.

Only six people showed up for the Sport Single Speed class. I was talking to the other single speeders at the starting line and this young guy, I didn't recognize, said his times are normally in the middle of the Expert Single Speeders. This could spell trouble since my times always would put me in the back of the Expert racers. I formulated a plan, a brilliant plan. The course takes off on the normal part of the trail but where it crosses Bishop road, the race course makes a hard right hand turn so you race down the road a 1/4 mile instead of going straight across the road to get back on the trail. I decided to get the hole shot so Ricky Racer would be behind me. I would head towards the normal trail across the road, let Ricky pass me, and send him careening down the wrong trail while I turned right on the race course down Bishop road. This plan would only work if he didn't bother to look at the course ahead of time. This isn't cheating because part of racing is knowing what you are doing. It worked perfect. The course marshals shouted at him to turn around. I could hear him swearing in the distance. I entered the trail where the race organizers intended, looked behind me, and Ricky was no where in sight. I know the trail well and figured if I could make it to the single track before Ricky I might be able to hold him off. Everything was looking up.

Then everything fell apart. When I changed the tube I put 60 psi in the tire to seat the bead. I forgot to deflate it to 42 psi. I have never made a mistake like this. I was busy talking to people and just forgot. My front wheel slide out just as I got on the single track and I hit a tree so hard I broke my helmet. Two people passed me. I did an inventory of body parts, saw I was basically OK, and took off after them, slid out 100 yards later and clocked another tree. This time Rick Racer past me.

Then I heard my brake shoe rubbing against my tire. When I change gears I need to readjust my brakes since the wheel moves back or forth in the dropouts depending on the size gear that is installed. I forgot to tighten the left brake shoe. I never make mistakes like this. I wanted to turn is a very good time so I used my light camelbak that doesn't have room for tools. I very rarely needed tools on this trail so I thought it was a safe calculated risk. Without tools I couldn't tighten the brake shoe. It rubbed my tire for the entire race. It wore the left hand side of my tire down to the threads and it felt like I was riding through mud the entire time. And my rear brakes were almost useless. All this within 5 minutes of the start.

I past a few racers and finished 3rd out of six. Ricky Racer was much faster than me so I couldn't have caught him even if I wasn't an idiot but I wanted to turn in a good time even if the best I could have done was second. A miserable race and it was because of stupid mistakes, not my lack of power. What a pisser.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The race at Bloomer that was suppose to happen on 5/17 was re-scheduled for 5/24 because of rain. This trail is swampy even on a good day.
I did this race after five unscheduled rest weeks in a row. I spent these rest weeks carbo-loading so I showed up on Sunday well rested and with five extra pounds of stored energy around my waist. I have never been so unprepared for a race in my life. I won the Sport Single Speed class but that doesn't mean anything by itself; only four people showed up in my class and I would have finished in last if I raced Expert Single Speed. I was exactly 30 seconds faster than last year and my lap times were average for Expert geared racers, which are both positive signs.
At the last minute I changed my rear gear. It turned out to be a good choice for the course but apparently I didn't tighten my rear skewer enough. The wheel loosened up and I dropped my chain three times before I stopped, readjusted it, and hopped back on the course just in time to get stuck behind the second wave of Sport riders. I finished the first lap over a minute out of first. My family came to watch me race, first time in about 5 years, and it looked like I was going to come in last place. Nice. I slowly crawled my way back into the race. An OK finish but a reminder to myself that I can't take another 5 weeks off.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Little Artist

Em was one of only several hundred elementary students in Brighton to have their art put in an art exhibit at the Brighton High School. I gladly gave up my Thursday night group ride to see it. The art show (in conjunction with rain and other commitments) did make this week my fourth unplanned rest week in a row; I am averaging about 3 hrs of riding a week. I stripped my geared bike to re-build my single speed with the best parts I have (wheels, fork, seat post, seat, etc.) but I should have put my Felt back together with my extra parts so I could ride it on the trainer at night; riding under natural light is out of the question. I really need to get motivated here soon.

I am going to do a single speed race at Bloomer on Sunday. I am in no shape to race but this wasn't a scheduled race. I am using it as just a hard training ride.

I hope to get back on some type of training plan next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bike Geek

I work with someone who is just getting into mountain biking. This week he gave me $2,200 and told me to get him all set up; no requirements other than disc brakes, full suspension, and I stay within $2,200. Sweet...I get to buy a bike and bike stuff and it doesn't cost me anything. It actually cost me $4.21 because I went a little over budget.
He is a very intelligent Engineer, but it is funny how people new to the sport take MSRP so seriously. He wanted a Garmin 305 Edge. It lists for $379. He got excited when he found one for $350. I bought one for him from Cosco for $179. The original plan was to buy a hardtail with XT parts from, throw away the frame (or put it on ebay) and build up a used frame. I ended up getting him a new full suspension Motobecane with XTR shifters and derailleurs and called it good. I spent the remaining $400 on a Camelbak, tools, tubes, etc.
The UPS trucks will start showing up at my house on Tuesday. I will put everything together for him by next weekend. I am giddy even tough I don't get to keep anything.

Monday, May 4, 2009

'09 Fort Custer

Below is a post from May of '09. I didn't bothered to post it back then.  I don't post a lot of entries because really, most of them are just notes to me. I will post it now, 2 years later, because I am guessing I will be able to use the exact same post after the Ft. Custer race this weekend, I will just change the date. Actually I am hoping I can.

Yesterday was the Fort Custer Stampede race. I finished second in Sport Single Speed and won a stylish yet functional glass. I am satisfied. On one hand I dropped down to Sport and I am not proud about that but on the other hand, Sport Single Speed is a competitive class and I was faster than last year, and last year I had 26 additional gears to help me along. At my age, any improvement is encouraging. I know I was pushing myself on the single track because I clocked a dead tree with my shoulder so hard that I knocked a hunk of bark off from the top of the tree that landed on the person a few seconds behind me. Sweet.

The problem was my low heart rate. Up until now it was just an interesting curiosity but now I am baffled. My average HR was 166 BPM (up until last year I would often average 177 BPM). My first lap I did in 42:23 and averaged 164, the second lap I did in 42:10 at 169. The first lap I understand: I was intentionally sitting in second place and I was confident I could easily drop the guy in front of me (Dan Grow, a lawyer, and dropping a lawyer would feel good, no offence Dan). A solid plan but apparently the person in third had the same solid plan and ¾ through the first lap Ryan Flesher past Dan and me like Wily E. Coyote with an A.C.M.E jet pack strapped to his back. I spent the rest of the race chasing Ryan.

I was really trying to push myself but kept looking down at my heart rate monitor and just couldn’t seem to stay in the 170’s, like one of those dreams where you are trying to run but your legs won’t listen to your head. I really hope this is some type of serious cardiovascular degenerative disease because if I am just lacking motivation, I will be pissed.

Friday, May 1, 2009


The last two weeks were suppose to be part of my "build" phase; however, dance recitals, yard work, tea with my parents, and the rest of life decided these last two weeks would be rest weeks. I set up my trainer so I could have gotten in some type of riding if I really wanted.

So it wouldn't be a total loss, I did use this time to sift through a half dozen pairs of Bebop pedals to pick out the best set for my single speed. I am surprised I haven't met anyone else that shares my affection for these pedals. When Bebop went out of business a few years ago, I bought every pair of NOS Bebops I could find. They are apparently back in business but I have a supply that will last me a few more years.

I am loyal to certain parts. My SLR saddle, SIDI shoes, Chris King hubs...I feel like Linus and his blanket when it comes to bicycle components.

Sunday is Fort Custer. I am going there (after yet another dance recital) tomorrow to pre-ride. At least I am well rested.