Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sour Grapes

WTF? I started my three week vacation today and now this is heading our way. So much for some nice long rides, outside. Tomorrow's forecast says rain likely, 90% chance of rain. Well no shit, with a 90% chance and that front coming I'm pretty sure it's more than "likely" it will rain.

I did get out for a 3hr ride today. Felt pretty good for being jammed up with a head cold the past week and a half.

In other news, Maddy is almost 1! I can't believe it's been a year already. Sunday is her birthday so we're having a small party, looks like I need to go out and get some beer. Lately she's been all about cruising and exploring. It's pretty awesome to see her but now we really can't leave her alone for 2 seconds because she'll take off and get into something. Makes me realize all of the things around the house that are NOT child proof, electrical outlets are just the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


It's sad, but I can't honestly remember the last concert I went to. If I had to guess, it was Jane's Addiction and Live at Nissan Pavilion in 2002? maybe 2001? Figure this was a good way to make up some lost early onset hearing loss.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Waiting for Charon

So Mike and I ventured out for another long training ride today. Unlike previous rides the wind wasn't bad but having not ridden since Monday and logging about 11hours in the car traveling while eating a truck driver's diet for the last 3 days, I was left feeling pretty flat, not to mention Maddy has a cold which means I'm fighting one off. I debated even going but got a solid night's sleep and felt pretty good when the alarm went off.

On tap was a 90mile loop out through Montgomery and western Howard counties. With the legs not feeling as good as hoped for, I managed to shoot my load only about an hour and a half in, and Mike ended up dragging me around for better part of the remainder of the ride. Mike's route had us go down some roads I've never been on before and at one point we were bombing down a hill when the road turns to gravel with some deep potholes at the entrance. After a quick map check we continued down the gravel road until we were met with a 30ft. wide creek about a foot deep. We checked around and finding no way to cross it without getting wet we decided to turn around. Apparently the road is still used as several trucks and SUVs came from both directions, Mike suggested we ask one of them to ferry us across.

By my count we only got a bit over 83 miles in about 4hr 30min, towards the end I was cramping so the 7mi shortage was not missed. After today and the forecast of rain tomorrow, looks like racing the MABRA 'Cross champs tomorrow is out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finding the Sweet Spot and Random Nonsense

It's been a while since I've put together a real update so here's a mix of random thoughts and events from the past several weeks. Maybe I've just been too preoccupied watching my 401K take a huge dump.

Time has been passing by pretty quickly, Maddy is growing so fast it's hard to believe it's been almost a year already. She's all about standing and cruising around exploring everything and anything she can get her hands on. Here she is checking out her uncle Paul and aunt Angie last weekend when we visited them in Lancaster.

As for me it's been a low key fall with no 'cross racing. On the upside I seem to have finally kicked the leg and back issues that have plagued me the past two years, keeping my fingers crossed that it holds up as the intensity picks up first of the year. For now it's just a lot of structured training during the week, Sub-TH and Sweet Spot Training and group rides on the weekends for the mental break.

This past Sunday Hef2 and I headed out into some nasty wind for a 4+ hour ride. First 3 hours were a steady diet of headwind or crosswind with 30+ mph gusts that could throw you from your bike if you weren't paying attention. After making it out to Mt. Airy we finally turned east heading home with the wind at our backs, nothing like cruising effortlessly along the flats and rollers at 30+ mph to make you feel PRO. Afterwards I was absolutely crushed, Maddy is wondering what's wrong with me as I fall asleep playing with her.
Tuesday I wasn't feeling fully recovered and should have rested a bit more since I was still tired from Sunday but went ahead and did my prescribed workout anyway. Later that night as I went to bed, I rolled over on my side and realized the room was spinning, like the spins you get after drinking a bit too much. I think it's been from spending a little too much time in the Pain Cave.
Basically I spent yesterday in bed as the spins turned into a steady pounding headache by the afternoon. Seems I'll be taking a bit of an unscheduled rest.

I did make the mistake of joining Facebook, what a life sucking distraction that site is. Other than that, life is pretty sedate, just resting up for the holidays. Having not really taken any time off this year and carrying over vacation from last year, I've banked so much time I have two weeks of use it or lose it so I put in for the 2nd and 3rd weeks of December off knowing everyone else will take the last week and half off pretty much guranteeing me a three plus week vacation. Hopefully the weather will be decent so I can log some long rides.

On a final note, big congrats to Joanna Zeiger for winning the 70.3 World Championships earlier this month in Florida.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Picking

We took Maddy to the Elioak Farm today to pick a pumpkin out but first we made our way through the petting zoo. I think the horse was mistaking her foot for a carrot.

Picking out her first pumpkin was so difficult, there were so many to choose from.
But after checking out a few she finally found one just her size.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clean Slate

Things just haven't been right in the universe for quite some time now, and ignoring this fact I've trudged along not enjoying things the way I used to rather than working on setting things right. When you just don't feel good, nothing makes you happy and the things you used to enjoy just make you more frustrated with this reality. Fortunately there has been a bright spot through all of this in Maddy.

Cycling is one of those things I used to enjoy, but the past two years my body and mind just haven't been on the same path, more like opposite paths that are only getting farther apart. This past weekend was the start of the 'cross season pretty much everywhere across the country. From Oregon to Michigan to Maryland and up to New England, the most devoted 'crossers around broke from their summer shells and made a pilgrimage to the first race of the season. That is, all except me.

I couldn't even stomach the thought of going and just watching. Don't get me wrong, I could have raced, my heart and mind were there but the body is not which the first two can overcome, to a degree. I've decided it's time to try and fix things once and for all or hang up the bikes for good and join the masses hugging my couch for hours on end each weekend watching football or golf.

Fall hasn't come soon enough to cast a long shadow on what will hopefully be history once and for all. Depending on how things progress, I'll hit a few races later in the season when it's cold and miserable outside and ripe for good 'cross conditions. But until then, I've got other plans.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What's This Thing?

Maddy and I were playing today so while she was standing on me I grabbed the camera to try and get some action shots. It's hard because she always stops to pose whenever we pull the camera or camcorder out. How does she know? This was obviously the first as she is staring at it wondering if it's a new toy.

The camera strap became a chew toy.
Trying not to shoot with the flash on, I forgot I had set the manual settings to B&W last week but some good shots. The second is my favorite although it's a bit out of focus. Hard to manually focus with an 8 1/2 month old crawling on you and pawing at the camera.

One of manual setting has the F Stop set at 6 seconds so there were some interesting results ike this one.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Silly

I snapped a series of photos of Maddy eating Cheerios at lunch today, this was the last one...

Friday, August 15, 2008

8 Months

Maddy turned 8 months old yesterday, it's so hard to believe it's gone by so fast. It seems like yesterday her and I were struggling to get through a day together without each of us completely melting down and wanting Gina to be home at the end of the day. Now on the days I watch her during the week we have a pretty good time together. Her naps and feedings are regular and over the past few months she's become both more interactive and independent when it comes to being entertained.
I call this one the "Turret of Terror", when she gets going in it it sounds like all hell is breaking loose.
Sitting up and being able to grab things is also a big help.
Last night she had a teething cookie. It's suppose to help her learn to chew real food and helps sooth her gums with all of the teeth she has popping out, four so far. Personally, all I think it was good for was making a huge mess. She's looking like a little vampire.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Greatest Generation

I've had the opportunity to travel to France twice so far in my life. The second time was in '04 to follow the second week of le Tour through the Pyrenees and spend the last week in Paris with Gina on our extended honeymoon. While spending two weeks and enjoying the country on a grander scale with my new wife, it doesn't compare to the week spent there two years earlier with my grandfather traveling through the Normandy region. This wasn't my grandfather's first trip to France either, his first trip as he would always say was courtesy of Uncle Sam, first stepping foot on Omaha beach in Normandy on June 6th, 1944 from a landing craft while taking fire from German artillery and machine guns. He was in the National guard as part of the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division out of his home town of Frederick. During his time in France he earned two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star, but as the story goes, since his Company Captain didn't have a Silver Star no one in his command could either, so the orders were rewritten as a Bronze Star.

In 2000 he returned for the first time in almost 60 years with a group of veterans, when he returned he insisted he go back again with his two grandsons. Growing up we always knew he served in WWII and landed on Omaha beach. Over the years I can't count the number of times I watched the movie The Longest Day and watched in amazement how these men were able to fight their way off the beaches let alone go on to liberate France. My grandfather never talked about the war, only little things here and there like the hedge rows, the first German he had a close encounter with while searching a farm just inland from the beach and some other lesser events of his experience. He never discussed the things that I knew kept him awake at night, even years later I know he still had nightmares of his days there. At the suggestion of a friend he began writing down some of the stories but I have yet to read them. When we visited the WWII museum in Aramange they had a small theater where you watched a short movie recounting the events of D-Day. Within the first few minutes of the movie that opened with the sound of machine gun fire and explosions, he had to leave the theater. This was probably the first time I had ever realized how much this part of his life still affected him and made me regret all of the Christmas and birthday gifts of books and movies on the war that probably only served as a reminder of things best forgotten.
During our trip we visited a small farm not far from the city of St. Lo made famous by the 101st Airborne to visit the Wall of Remembrance. The Wall of Remembrance was erected by the local farmers to pay homage to the soldiers of the 29th. Typically if your name is up on this wall, it is put there posthumously. To our surprise, while we were there my grandfather was honored by having his name put on this wall with his daughter and grandsons present. I think this was the first time I had ever seen him cry.
When he returned from the war he married my grandmother whom he had only corresponded with through letters. He originally wrote to her sister but she was already engaged at the time so she had her sister respond. After the war he continued to serve in the National Guard and went on to become a cabinet maker. My fondest memories of my youth were the summers spent working in my grandfather's basement workshop constructing things out of wood, glue and nails.

He passed away on Saturday, June 28th at the age of 88. He's survived by his wife Madeline, his daughter, his two grand children and his great grand daughter. At his service, many of the men he later served with in the 29th came to honor him as well as those who had grown up or worked with him. They all spoke so highly of him, considering him among the greatest people they knew and how they were all honored to have known him. One man that grew up with my grandfather told my brother and I that "we could only hope to be half the man he was". I believe him.
It's taken me a month to come up with the words for this post and be able to finish writing them down before having to walk away. Regardless, they'll still not capture the man that my grandfather was or how much I'll miss him.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Take What You Want, Eat What You Take

"This means you, Numbnuts!"

Life is full of things to do, just beware of bitting off more than you can chew.

I was registered to do the 12hrs of Cranky Monkey this past Saturday as a singlespeed duo team with my teammate Tom.
Tom is one of our juniors and a really good bike rider, both on and off road. We were all psyched to do this race way back in early April. Fast forward to a week before the race and things start to unravel. First, my grandfather had fallen very ill and I wasn't sure if I would be able to race so I told Tom I would help him find another teammate. Second, Tom was now leading the Jr. 17-18 BAR competition and would have to miss a BAR points race the next day. I left it up to him, we could work it out with me doing more laps to keep him fresh for Sunday, but ultimately decided it was best for him to not race Cranky Monkey and be rested for the crit.

This left me with several choices, find a replacement teammate, race solo or not race at all. I tried searching for a teammate but everyone I was referred to was already racing solo. It's hard to find someone to commit to racing a 12hr race let alone on singlespeeds. So I was left with two choices and seeing that it was too late to get my entry fee back I decided to just race solo, how bad could it be?

Bad, very bad. Cranky Monkey is held on the Marine Corp training base at Quantico, VA. Of all the off road racing I've done in VA, unless you're west along the Appalachian's, the courses are flat to moderately rolling so I figured no problem racing SS for 12hrs. Well, the course turned out to be very singlespeed unfriendly in my opinion and was shared by some of the other solo SS riders as well. Fast descents into hard turns where you then then faced walls.

After the first lap I was already questioning my sanity and ability to finish 12hrs of this course in the hot and humid conditions. To make matters worse, I started the second lap without pitting and went out with a third of a water bottle for a 10.7 mile loop. By half way through the second lap my head was pounding, dehydration headache. I pitted after lap 2 and downed some Coke. I felt a bit better on lap 3 but not great. About a mile from the finish I flatted on a long gravel road section. Nystrom stopped to lend a hand as I had given my toolkit to Adam at the start of lap 1 when I saw him standing on the side of the trail on the first climb with a broken chain. As I go to inflate the tire and put it on the rim, I notice I have way more tube than required for a 26" wheel. I remove the tube only to discover it's a 700x35, WTF? Why do I even own this tire let alone carry it as my spare. Nystrom riding a 29er didn't have a tube so I rode in on the flat.

After about an hour or so of rest, rehydration and eating with Nystrom, Chris Larkin and Tony Vachino who were all racing SS solo as well, we decided to go out for another lap. Larkin was rolling and was already a lap ahead of us and Chris, Tony and myself were pretty much tied for 2nd although in time I was off a few minutes due the flat. Nystrom and I started our 4th lap together but less than a mile in I knew I was cooked. I struggled up every little rise and walked the steeper stuff. Soon some stomach cramps kicked in and the headache was back with a vengeance. After a crash in the last few miles I decided it was over. I couldn't concentrate on the downhills and I wasn't about to hauled away for dehydration or heat exhaustion or some horrific crash. At the end of my lap I turned in my key fob tracker and resigned myself to the tent to rest up for the trip home.

I definitely think I bit off a bit more than I could chew and that my appetite for suffering was larger than my ability to swallow the pain it brought.

Monday, June 02, 2008

No Title

Shit, another month has gone by. Not a single post, was May that uninteresting? Actually it wasn't, but I've found I have a lot less motivation to sit around and talk about what I did. Instead it's mostly hanging out with this chick.
I decided racing hasn't been going so great so I would go back to something I know I'm good at, drinking beer. A new liquor store opened up close by, it's been there a few months but I just haven't made it there until last weekend. It's called The Perfect Pour, more like, The Perfect 'Way to' Pour 'Money into the Economy'.
I figured while picking up mulch at Lowe's I might as well pick up some good beer. I'd heard the selection was good, but this was incredible. So many Beligians to choose from. You know it's a good day when you spend more at the liquor store than the home improvement store. I picked up an importer's mixed six and a six of singles. They also let you mix and match out of 6 and 4 packs.
I've only sampled the Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale so far but what an experience. A mix of old and new beer that smacks your senses with a pungent vinegar aroma well before it ever touches your lips. Once on the palate though, it's a very smooth and flavorful beer with an almost carbonated texture. I was in the kitchen when I heard Gina gag and knew she had just taken a sip, bravo for at least getting to her lips.

I guess the biggest news of the month was my final breakdown and submission to the purchase of a minivan. Yep, you heard right, a minivan. What an ordeal though, I so hate buying cars. We went to the dealer a few weekends ago to test drive after doing all of the research online and knowing exactly what we wanted. That's where we met Ben. Ben was severely hung over the day we went in and is probably still ruing that day he met us. Gina drove, I thought Ben was going to toss his cookies in the car as Gina immediately put the minivan to the 0-60 test.

When we went back to finalize the purchase, what should have taken less than hour turned into a three hour hair pulling, teeth grinding experience. All we (I) wanted was a tow package, for a hitch mounted bike rack of course. Basically, do not try to go outside the box, even if it is an "offered" feature from the manufacturer. This was the cause of much consternation between Ben and the service department. In the end, a tow package with no hitch mount, why call it a tow package then? Anyway, it was coming from out of state but Ben realized he entered the wrong color code, he then couldn't get the color we wanted so we went to our fallback, black. Finally, a week after actually buying the van, we picked it up Saturday.

Maybe I can find someone to get to look like this...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mudfest 2008

The rain from last weekend found it's way back to thoroughly soak the course for Sunday's Greenbrier Challenge. After a second pre-ride Thursday and a warm up ride at Patapsco Saturday I was expecting a dry fast course, that was until the biblical rains came and dumped several inches of rain overnight. I spent most of the week getting the bike ready and as of this post I'm officially ending my relationship with the Singleator. I decided to go with a gearing for the climbs but in the end the chain length to do so caused issues and pretty much ruined the day, along with my dead legs.

Two stops to repair the drivetrain and a lot of running pretty much summed up the race. I had planned a strong finish really only looking at Mayhew as the lone competition.
The highlight of the course was the final downhill, a washed out, muddy, rooty mess with a steady stream of water flowing down it with some large stone and log waterbars at the bottom to launch off of. It almost made all of the climbing worth it. I finished 10th, well of my goal. I'm boxing up all of my Singleator parts and shipping them back to Surly with a letter, hopefully my new tensioner is sitting down at Avalon Cycles.

Maddy is growing up so fast. She's trying to sit up on her own and loves her new Bumbo chair. She's such a happy baby, always smiling even when she's crying like last night when she went to bed. She started to cry but was smiling at me the whole time at me as I tried to calm her. She also loves her feet, they're probably her favorite toys. Whenever she's cranky I just take her feet out of her sleeper, whenever she has the chance they go right in her mouth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Spring Classic

Rain, rain and more rain. That pretty much sums up Sunday's day of racing. After early morning showers the rain relented a bit as I made my way over to Gateway for the Carl Dolan race. It's so nice living 5 minutes from a bike race, almost too convenient as I was a bit late getting out the door.

I was registered for both the 30+ and the the 1/2/3 races not quite sure what kind of legs I was going to have. My only road race so far this season was Walkersville where I got shelled at the start of the 4th lap. I was coming off a decent race at Fairhill so I did have some confidence in my fitness despite the prolonged sickness.

As we lined up for the start of the 30/40 Masters race, the skies grew dark and drops of rain began to hit our faces forewarning us of the impending deluge. The first couple of laps we actually pretty mellow for some reason, that would all change. By about the 3rd or 4th lap the scattered drops of rain turned into a torrential downpour. It was so bad you couldn't see the wheel in front of you. On the fast downhill after the only turn on the course, there was a river of water an inch deep and as you made the transition to start the uphill through the start finish, a river of water was flowing down the road at you. Incredibly we were bombing 35+ mph through this inch of steadily moving water.
We had a solid 40+ squad in the race while Chip and I held up the 30+ end of things. I made a few attempts to escape and for some reason it always turned out to be Craig Snydal from LSV. The first go at it we had a small gap and were working together along the backside of the course. When we were finally caught Chip rode up and apologized for putting Ryan on the front to reel us in not knowing I was up the road. Oh well.
The rain kept pounding us and at one point it felt like needles sticking me in the face and my left hand was so numb I thought I broke my shifter off because I couldn't feel it, not even the pressure from squeezing the brakes. I ended up in another short lived move with Craig then spent the rest of the time trying to keep the pace high as Ramon and Fuentes had gotten themselves a nice gap. We never caught them so the race was on for second in both fields since Ramon had the 40+ while Dave had the 30+.

I was in decent position through the final turn and starting up the hill but with about 300m to go it happened. Just in front of me to my left I see some bozo jump right and into the handlebars of some Artemis rider. If he went down I had no where to go so I reached for the brakes. For a split second it looked like he might save it but his unweighted rear end finally gave in to the slippery pavement and fishtailed out from him, as he landed he somehow managed to skid from left to right. At that point I had to jam on the brakes as hard as I could hoping to not hit him or have to try and ride over him. I watched as he skid in front of me and then in a horrific ending to to an already bad crash, his teammate who was sprinting for something like last place rides square into him, ejecting him from his bike and apparently taking out several other riders.

Chip pulled off an impressive sprint to take 2nd in the field sprint and 3rd overall in the 30+. After waiting around an extra 45 minutes on top of the hour and a half wait between races as the EMTs scrapped up a bunch of 3/4s off the pavement from a 20+ rider crash which required a restart of the race, we finally started the 1/2/3 race. Just like the previous race, as soon as we line up the skies turned black and the rain drops start. The legs were heavy and water logged and the first couple laps hurt pretty bad. About 3 or 4 laps in I see the moto ref pull off at the officials tent, I assume to talk about whether or not they were going to call the race. I was raining almost as hard as the earlier race and a lap later as we come up the hill I see lightening in the sky, that's a definite show stopper. Next lap some juniors struggling on the climb let a huge gap open up, Chip, Ryan and I were sitting on the back snoozing and had to jump across the gap to the back of the pack. At that point I decided it wasn't worth the effort since this race was going to be called. I pulled off and headed for the warmth of a dry car. After a quick change I was already rolling out of the parking lot as the rest of the pack was riding in, the officials had called the race at the end of the next lap.

I really enjoy racing in the rain, I'd prefer it to be a road race than a crit, although Dolan is technically a road race but raced like a crit. The rain washes the suffering away, makes the hurt feel good.

*Photos courtesy of Jim Wilson

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fixx Your Singleator

So I've refused to give up on my Surley Singelator for my singlespeed chain tensioner, I have just way too time and money much invested in this stupid little part to let it overcome me since I now own three of them. I've come to the determination that this is a simple case of over engineering a simple solution. This is pretty much it for parts, minus the pulley wheel.
The Singleator relies on loading an internal spring to put tension on the chain. That task requires bolting the arm onto you derailleur hanger and using an 18mm cone wrench to pre-load the spring as you tighten the arm down. Nice idea, poor execution. The notches for the cone wrench on the aluminum sleeve are too narrow for any wrenches I have causing the cone wrench to get trapped between the arm and the hanger making it impossible to get the cone wrench out once tightened.
Problem lately with them is two fold, the spring never holds enough tension to keep the chain tight and second, the internal threads of the arm strip out for the bolt that holds the pulley assembly rendering the whole thing useless. Basically I have two stripped out arms and only one pulley wheel that hasn't been sucked through my drivetrain after the bolt loosened up while riding.

Today I finally remembered why I was running a 32x15, because it was the only gear configuration that worked to put enough tension on the chain. This all fell apart though after I put on a 17T cog to go pre-ride the Greenbrier course. As soon as we took off up the first hill, the dreaded sound of my chain skipping over the cog, slipping off the teeth. Then on the first downhill I hear what sounds like coins hitting the pavement and look back in horror at my rear wheel to see the entire pulley assembly gone. Fortunately it all landed relatively close together and I found all of the pieces. Needless to say this meant for a frustrating day. I managed one lap, at the start of the second, Sean's rear derailleur cage sheared in half so that was the end of the day since he was my ride.

When I got home I went down to Avalon Cycles since they cater a wider variety of riders and have some boutique parts in stock. Although I didn't find a Soul Craft chain tensioner or similar design that does not require a spring, I did talk to one of the shop employees who had converted the Singleator on his trials bike to not need the spring. He accomplished this by grinding down the aluminum sleeve that holds the spring in place and has the useless notches for the cone wrench.
This solves two problems, first it allows the arm to to be bolted tight against the hanger and second there's no more messing around with the cone wrench to adjust the tension. Just set the tension when tightening the arm to the hanger and you're done. I just converted mine and it works great, still need to hit the trails with it for a good dirt session but it's definitely promising. It does require carrying a 5mm with you to loosen it should you need to remove the rear wheel but at least it works.

Simple solution to a simple problem.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABRT in the News

It's not very often you get good press about cycling in a local news paper. Last time anyone was in the paper it was part of the Anne Arundel County police blotter for an apparent incident with a motorist at North Beach.

One of our teams newest members, Lance, is a born again cyclist. As a junior he went to the Olympic training camp and trained with the best. After quite a while away, he's refound his love for this sport and is pouring his heart into it. He was able to work with the new sports editor of The Capital, Annapolis' local newspaper, to get this article printed.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fairhill - A Day in the Dirt

Sunday was the Fairhill mountain bike race sponsored by Bikeline. I decided last minute to do this race, more becasue I just love riding the trails at Fairhill but also as a warm up for the State Champs at Greenbrier in two weeks than anything. I envy anyone who lives close to this area as they are near some of the best trail riding around. For me I just don't get there often enough, and unfortunately it's only to race.

Registered for Single Speed Expert I wasn't really confident of my fitness. Saturday I went to Davidsonville and had to sit up from the group before we even got to Rt. 258. I spent the next hour and a half riding solo back to the park and ride wondering how poorly I would do the next day and hoping it would rain enough to cancel the event so I could get my $28 back.

Sunday's weather was cool and damp, cross season weather, I like racing in this weather. I almost didn't make it to the race as I assumed it was at the same location as the summer race, fortunately I read the website one last time and realized the parking was in a completely different area. The ABRT/Latitude team was out in force representing juniors through expert class.

Our youngest racer, Spencer, puts on his game face for his first mountain bike race
While his mom Sue also looks to be having a good time in her first race
Sean and Doug representing in the SS Sport class, sorry Kidd, no one took your picture but we know you were there, too. All three placed well in the SS Sport race.
Dennis taking home the big DUB-YA in the Vet Sport class, still representing his Guy's team though, nice way to start the season...
I went against one of my general rules of racing and made a major equipment modification the day before by swapping my rigid fork for a suspension, only major in that I haven't ridden suspension is well over a year or two and wasn't sure of handling since I had no time to dial the thing in. I was also concerned over my gearing selection, I got my ass handed to me last year at Granogue because I ran to large of a gear. While at Race Pace Saturday picking up my bike I grabbed a16T cog thinking I had been riding on a 17T all winter and wanted something a bit smaller for what was said to be a relatively flat course. When I took my wheel off to swap the cogs I found that I had been riding a 15T, no wonder the waterbar climb was kicking my ass. So instead of making a second modification to the bike I decided if I could ride Avalon on the 32x15 I could race Fairhill.

Warming up on the gravel roads my legs were heavy and tired, not a good feeling going into a 22 1/2 mile race. The SS Expert field doubled from 13 to 26 riders with day of registrations making for a nice size field. The turn out overall was huge for the first cross country race of the MASS series. For once I had a teammate in a mountain bike race, our junior Tom Mackay.

On the start up the gravel road Tom took off for the front but it was a bit comedic as the pack took off then bunched up as no one could really go any faster than the next guy regardless of how quickly you spun the pedals. I moved up on the long gravel road down hill and hit the single track about third wheel. Two guys quickly opened up a gap and I just didn't have the legs to follow. A few more guys got around me so I was sitting top 5 with Poz on my wheel. We were ripping through the course picking off slow moving Sr Experts and just having fun on the great trails.

By the end of lap 1 we were sitting 4th and 5th, not bad for being sick all of March and feeling like shit the day before. I managed to lose my waterbottle on a bumpy log bridge and I was losing my waterbottle cage as well so I didn't bother trying to take a bottle at the end of the first lap. Lap 2 we headed into the woods but Poz opened up a gap on me by getting around some geared riders. Then, in what I can only say is what Adam Craig describes as Eye Bonk, I blew a turn and ran head on into a sapling riping me from my bike. I picked myself up as Buddy the Leg Breaker went by and started chasing.

Thanks to Dennis, Sue and Stu for hanging out for my race and handing up bottles. I grabbed one for the uphill gravel road but tossed it knowing I couldn't carry it through the woods.
I was pretty much riding solo for the better part of the third lap which sucks because it becomes too easy to back off the pace. Two guys caught me and for some reason I just couldn't chase. Entering the back half of the course I could see a small group closing in but couldn't tell if it was anyone in my class when I clipped a tree hard with my shoulder and came to a stop. Another SS'er went by me, f$%!. Chase, chase, chase. I stayed on his wheel and decided I would just take him in the sprint. As the trail opened up into the field I jumped right to try and go early but the grass just bogged me down and I ran out of real estate before the line.

8th place. Tom finished not too far behind me in 11th.
Not bad for a last minute race I hadn't been training for and a great day all around for the ABRT/Latitude team.

*Photos courtesy of Sue Estes and Dennis Smith