Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mount Snow race report.


I like to scour the internet, looking for course conditions, recent weather, reports from people who have pre-ridden, any information that could give me a slight advantage on race day. In the days leading up to the race, I received conflicting information about the "new" course at Mount Snow. On the one hand, there was the press release Mount Snow put out, which contained the following quote:

"Mount Snow’s trail system has been thoughtfully designed and constructed over time with you, the mountain biker, in mind."

This made me laugh. Problem with inviting racers to beat on your trail twice a year is those racers get to know your trials very well. I have raced Mt. Snow more times than I care to count, and the only thing that I have noticed happening over time at was neglect and erosion. As far as I can tell, not counting the calendar last year, the race loop at Mount Snow has not changed since the late '80s.

I dismissed the press release as marketing propaganda. I figured it was just Mount Snow telling the mountain bike community what they wanted to hear in order to draw them in. However, there was another quote in that press release that caught my eye:

"Mount Snow’s trail care crew, along with the U.S. Forest Service, has carefully sculpted sustainable trails that shed water with the least amount of erosion."

That was music to my ears, but unfortunately it sounded to good to be true. The astute squirt gun show reader would notice, I have recently been preaching the gospel of sustainable trails that reduce erosion. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this quote was in the same paragraph as the first quote, I wrote it off as more marketing propaganda. I prepared myself for a slightly modified race course, but I figured I would still hate Mount Snow just as I, and many other New England bike racers, have in the past.


When I went to preregister, I found to following, conflicting, course description:

"Our course will be very much similar to previous years."

Oops! Looks like the marketing department didn't write the BikeReg course description. Did a little bit of truth slip out of the marketing machine? We'll find out soon enough.

Race day.

My driver told me we were leaving super early. I didn't argue, I didn't check to see when the race started, I didn't do the math. I showed up when and where driver said to, my driver is scary, you don't mess with him.

Turns out we pulled into the parking lot early. We had plenty of time to gear up and take a practice lap. What can I say about the practice lap? It sucked. I was hating the course, I was hating the weather, and most of all I was hating the "trail care crew". I hit the bike wash to find that pretty much everyone who was dumb enough to pre-ride had a similar opinion. Most racers heard about the horrible mud, and scratched the pre-ride, figuring four laps would be enough abuse for the body and bike.

Then we lined up. I was at the back of a good sized field, tons of fast guys came out to prep for the big race in two weeks. Whistle blows and off we go. You're not getting a recap. If you want to know more about how my race went, read Colin's report. He sums up my race better than I could. Let's just say I did better than I expected. Way better. Mount Snow is the race that I historically do the worst at, and I came in 13th out of a field of 29 elite racers. I shaved an hour off last years four lap time. Sure, the lap was a bit shorter, but it wasn't that much shorter.

The aftermath.

Shattered. Such an abusive race. Long grinding grassy climbs in the hot sun. The psychological torture of knowing you'll be laying it down on muddy boulders if you even think of touching your front brake on the decent. The achy muscle agony on the way up. The high speed terror on the way down. I could hardly walk for the two days after. My Monday and Tuesday commute redefined the term "soft pedal".

The hate.

I wanted to continue hating Mount Snow. I did. When I first sat down to write my race report, I was ready to spit the hate like the hate had never been spat. I was going to do it player hater's ball style. I had jokes, tons of 'em. I even made a graphic...


Ooooooh, I wanted to hate so bad. I feel that after my Pat's Peak discussion, I have become the mouthpiece for mountain bikers that hate ski area races. I had big shoes to fill, I HAD to hate. I have been type-cast into the "mountain hater". I wrote and wrote, but just wasn't feeling it. The hate was forced, it didn't come easy like it did for Pat's Peak, I just wasn't feeling it.

The problem was that Mount Snow tried. Regardless of whether the course sucked or not, they had made changes. They did trailwork. Sure, not all of it was great, but they picked up a shovel, and really, that's all I've been asking for. They seem to no longer be content with the course they have been running for the better part of two decades.

They tried something new, and regardless of whether it worked out or not, I commend them. Lucky for them, it's easy to tell which parts of your course did not work (hint: the parts that are no longer there did not work, you can find these parts at the bike wash). All you need to do is walk the course, the sections that leave you without shoes on your feet, those need more work. The trails need some waterbars, more drainage would help here and there, and they need a few more bridges. That grassy traverse switchback has to go. However unfortunate it is for the hater in me, the race loop seems to be moving in the right direction. I've done trailwork, I know it is slow going if you do it properly. We can't expect every problem area to be repaired in the course of one year; a five mile loop is a lot of trail.

I never thought I'd say this.

Mount Snow, please continue doing what you are doing. (If your trail care crew keeps putting in the effort,) I am looking forward to racing your course next year. I can't believe I just typed that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harding Hill race report.

I'm all backed up. I'm racing tomorrow, and I still haven't written the race report from last week. And I've been hearing about it. Much like the flack I once received from my high school English teachers, fans of the squirt gun show have been demanding a Harding Hill report. Well, my public is fickle, and entertaining them is the burden I must bear, so without further adu, or procrastination, I present the Harding Hill race report.

I killed it. Done.

No really, you deserve more. By now you've probably noticed that I'm not too into the "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" type of race reports. There is no shortage of race reports on the wide web, so if you're looking for course conditions or layout, look elsewhere. Today I want to talk about the one thing that I took away from this race.... I am really fast. All modesty aside, I'm serious. Ever since I've started racing against the pros, I've held down the back of the pack and pretty much felt like the slowest guy in the race. I've been watching the back of Colin's jersey since the beginning of June (I know, right?). Well, not anymore, let's back up a bit...

Goal for the day.

I had a pretty tough goal for this race, I had to bring back respect and honor to the International Bicycle MTB ninja platoon. It seems that last week, a certain teammate of mine was out making our team into the laughing stock of the New England bike racing scene. Our street cred was at an all time low.

Why I raced expert.

This expert race cost $28 to enter. The elite race costs $45. I have been racing the Elite Root 66 races because I feel a bit guilty riding off the front of the expert race, and you get extra training for the same price. I did not want to pay $45 (+$4 for a one day EFTA license) to get my ass whooped at a small local race. Plus, my career nemesis Brian Wilichoski was pre-registered in the expert class. Cheaper price, mixed with the chance to tie up some unfinished business? Easy decision.

Mass start.

I like to arrive fashionable late to the start line. Harding Hill used a mass start. These two facts do not play well together. I didn't realize all the experts were starting on the same whistle until I was standing at the back of the pack. Thankfully, the start line was about 50 feet long, and I was on the correct side of it. TWEET! (that was the starting whistle, it has nothing to do with twitter) The group sprint starts, it was a blur, but I remember threading the needle, 3 times, moving up through a tight field. I was kind of on autopilot, going where my instincts took me. I attribute these skills to years of lining up at the back of gigantic killer b fields for cyclocross starts. Only difference is, cross racers go for the whole shot like their team sponsorship is on the line, mountain bikers can't sprint, and don't really care to. Due to this, we are flying down the single track and I'm third wheel. Alec Petro takes off down the trail, not to be seen again until the award are handed out, and I'm left bird-dogging a Claremont Cycles singlespeeder. I feel fast.

Through the first sloppy section, we're cooking, and I'm following way to close to pick out a line. I end up going down pretty hard, thankfully the ground is like a sponge, and I'm back up and running immediately, trying to stay in front of the gigantic, fast moving pack. First guy that moves up past me? Brian Wilichoski. Awwww shit. That flipped the switch. From then on it was hammer time.

I am much faster than beginner and sport racers.

At the end of that first lap, I caught some of the elite racers. On the second lap I caught up to the beginners. On the third lap I was catching sport racers, on the forth lap it was madness. I literally passed over a hundred racers. On the climbs I was weaving between slower traffic. Left, left, right, left, right. I felt fast.

Harding Hill by the numbers.

After the entry fee, one day EFTA license, veggie Sub and chocolate milk I got after the race, gas money for Thom, I was exactly $50 poorer. First place expert payout? $50. Sweet.

In summary.

It sucks to try and write a race report a week after the race. But I am done before the start of my next race, so that means I pass right? Lamest race report ever. You think I'd at least throw some clip art in there or something. Hold on, I'll run spellcheck, but then I'm done.

Oh yeah, I won. And I beat someone I've been trying to beat for 4 years. Sweet. I feel I should mention that I've always hated Mt. Snow. Just putting that out there.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Old School" mountain biking.

The Pro/Open field at Pats Peak was pretty stacked. I realized this early when I lined up at the start next to Jonathon Page, yes, that Jonathon Page (why doesn't his wiki page note that he got 2nd at the 2007 Cyclocross World Championships?). I was fortunate to be able eavesdrop on his conversation with Jerry Chabot, who had just won the Cat2 singlespeed race. I picked up some valuable course reconnaissance. Jerry mentioned that the course was "old school" mountain biking. This stuck with me for some reason, then I heard a whistle and sprinted into a ditch.

Alone time.

As I was making my way around what was left of the Pats Peak course, I started thinking about exactly what "old school" mountain biking means. I've heard this phrase used before to describe courses like Brialee and Mt. Snow. These courses are tough, mostly because the trails are in horrible condition. From what I can tell, "old school" mountain biking is what mountain biking was before the sport got popular. Back in the day when you could ride a bike on any hiking trail you wanted to because land managers weren't even aware that it was possible to bike in the mountains. Back in those days, there were no "No Biking" signs on any trails. NEMBA, IMBA or any other MBAs did not exist. The concept of sustainable mountain bike trails had not been thought of yet. There were no trail care crews, or trail building schools. A trail was a trail, if a bike could roll down it, it was used for mountain biking, for better or worse.

The curse of legitimacy

There is a reason mountain biking changed, or went "new school". It was a result of the popularity of the sport and the number of participants increasing. Other trail users began taking notice, not only of the bikers themselves, but of the effects they were having on the trail. Trail user conflicts emerged. With increased numbers, it quickly became obvious that a lot of trails were not sustainable for mountain bike use, and "No biking" signs started popping up. If anything can be blamed for the death of "old school" mountain biking, it was the no biking sign. Ironically, "old school" mountain biking had to die for the good of mountain biking.

cold-hearted killer.

What does this have to do with Pats Peak?

I have noticed that most of the time, if you complain about a tough muddy race, you are branded a pussy. Most people assume (some more vocally than others) that I complain about the horrendous condition of the Pats Peak trails because I am a pussy that can't handle difficult trails. This is not the case. I like racing on difficult, technical trails. The trails at Harold Parker are incredible, Landmine and Fort Rock are two of my favorite races. I won Winsted Woods, which was both technical and muddy. I do not like Brialee, but I always do (did?) well there.

old school, baby.

The problem with Pats Peak is that due to erosion, which is obviously accelerated by thousands of mountain bike tires, the trails are quickly becoming unrideable. If these trails were on public land, you would probably be shot on sight if you were caught with a bike near them. In the last 3 years, I have not noticed any trail work being done, or trails being rerouted around sensitive areas, or bridges being built. The trails are just destroyed, then left to be destroyed even more the next year. This not only gives mountain biking a bad name, but in most other situations the race would disappear.


Yes, disappear, as in go away, and leave us mountain bike racers with nothing but a weekend of yard work. There have been a handful of races that have disappeared over the last few years. While the reason for disappearance is never officially announced, rumors almost always appear on the message boards claiming that the destruction of the land was the primary reason. There really never is any reason to dispute this either. We as racers usually just shrug it off and say "wow, that kind of sucks." The North Shore Classic, which used to be held in nearby Bradley Palmer State Park, is a perfect example of this.

Hypothetical situation: Imagine if there is a family that goes hiking at Pats Peak every Monday afternoon. How do you think they feel about mountain biking after this week's hike? Let's hope that family isn't influential in the local or state government.

But it's their land, we can't force them to not destroy it.

Yes, Mt. Snow, Brialee and Pats Peak are all races held on private land. This is no coincidence. An economist will tell you that the organizers of these races feel the profit they make on race day is great enough to offset the damage done to their land. This is true, and is also helped by the fact that zero percent (estimation) of the profits are used to repair race day damage. If something doesn't change, there will be a tipping point where racers will feel the trails are just too horrible to justify racing. I raced Pats Peak in 2007 and 2009, and as far as I can tell there hasn't been a single man hour of trailwork done in the last three years. After this past weekend, I think the tipping point is right around the corner, unless someone picks up a shovel.

Pats Peak 2010?

Concessions can be made. I don't see where blatantly ignoring common sense and destroying trails promotes the sport. Technically, USA Cycling exists to promote the sport of biking. USA Cycling is also the body that sanctions these races. We can't tell private land owners what to do with their land, but I would like to see certain guidelines put in place (similar to IMBA's rules of the trail) that must be followed in order to become an officially sanctioned race. If last year's trail damage is not repaired, or if this year's course is not rerouted through a less sensitive area, then you're not getting sanctioned. (yes, I realize this will not happen because a) it's not practical and b) it would involve USA Cycling actually doing something.)

I have seen trail maintenance days scheduled after EFTA races specifically to repair the damage caused by the race. I think this is an excellent idea. You would be surprised how much free labor you can get from the pool of mountain bikers, if you just give them an opportunity. (Did you hear that Mt. Snow?) Buy a keg, and you'll have more volunteers than you know what do with.


Let me briefly touch on the subject of weather. It has been said that the organizers of Pats Peak are not to blame because they can't control the weather. While it is true that you can't control the weather, you do know if your course is particularly susceptible to moisture. You also know the climate in your region. I'm not breaking any news when I say it always rains in late spring/early summer in New England. So if you have a race course that falls apart when it gets wet, you don't schedule your race for the rainy season. Pats Peak has already chosen the exact same date for next years race, as opposed to a historically dryer date in late August, for example. So the excuse of not being able to control the weather only works the first time your race turns into a mud bog, after that you have to take your region's weather into consideration when you pick a date.


This is a long winded way of my trying to convince you I am not a pussy and that "old school" race courses are bad for mountain biking. The reason I do not like Pats Peak, Mt. Snow, Brialee or other "old school" courses is because they are bad for the sport of mountain biking, and I like mountain biking. By racing Pats Peak I feel like I am hurting the sport of mountain biking.

(late edit: Just found out that another great race, Moody Park, has been cancelled this year. Last year was a miserable mudfest (here, here, here and here). Moody Park is public land. People hike there. Just sayin'.)

(even later edit: while looking for links for the above edit, I learned that this year Fort Rock is being held under the conditions that it be postponed if there are heavy rains leading up to or forcasted for race day. They acknowledge it's pretty much a logical nightmare to cancel so late, but besides that I think this policy avoids more problems than it causes.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pats Peak race report.

If you've seen the results, you're probably here for an explanation of what happened. I took a wrong turn. If you're looking for a more through explanation, read on.

Where to start, I have so much to bitch about. First, at the start, everyone is told that that the course is in horrible condition so they are shortening the race, then the waffling starts. There is an open discussion, with random opinions yelled out here and there, no agreement is reached. Then a "vote" is attempted. We are asked who whats to do 5 laps, and a few hands go up. From where I was standing, it looked like a tiny minority, like 5 out of the 23. It is then decided that the race will be 5 laps. The 18 people still waiting to vote for 4 laps are left confused.

Basically, it comes down to this: If your race course is beat to shit and you decide to shorten the race because of it, then shorten the race. You know more about the condition of the course than everyone standing at the start line, so don't ask them what they think. Technically, you should also care more about the condition of the course as well, so you shouldn't let a few racers talk you into further destroying your land, but I don't think this is the case at Pats Peak. As long as the gazebo is still picturesque at the end of the day, nothing else matters. The decision to shorten the race was the correct one, it's too bad it was abandoned so quickly.

Soon after the number of laps decision was made, some miscellaneous instructions were given. One of these instructions had to do with the start, I heard the phrase "You have to follow those two arrow straight ahead, you don't have to go between them, but you have to go in that direction" or something like that. What they didn't mention was that if you didn't go in between them, there was a wheel sized ditch hiding in the long grass. Since mowing the starting stretch is more trail maintenance that Pats Peak feels is necessary, my start was horrible. Both feet on the ground, stem in my crotch, at a standstill after about 8 seconds of racing.

I chased back up to the group, and fell in line up the first uphill section. I then went over the bars in the first bombed out section after the pallate bridge. When I say bombed out, I mean there were rocks and roots, with about 12 inch deep mud holes in between them. And you couldn't go around them because those lines were in the same condition since racers had been widening the trail for at least the last 26 hours, but probably closer to the last 10 years.

My race was not going good, I was off the bike, unintentionally twice in the first two minutes. I decided to get back into the race by staying off the brakes. Long story short, I went off the trail three more times in the next two minutes. This is a racing style I like to call "i'm retarded." Crash, sprint, crash, sprint, crash... James Harmon had a front row seat for this, I hope he found it more humorous than annoying. Sorry James. I eventually realized that I should just try and ride my bike fast, and not worry about how far away the rest of the pack is. I eventually got my shit together and hung out around 20 to 30 seconds behind the back of the pack. On the climbs, the gaps seemed to stay the same, I was just keeping it steady, watching the jerseys up ahead.

You already know my opinion of everything in between the single track after the pond and the top of the decent, so let's skip all that.

At the top of the final climb on the first lap, I came up behind a Cat2 woman that was deep in despair. She was having a miserable time and didn't want to move to the side and let me by, so at the top of the singletrack climb section, where it dumps out onto the doubletrack, she stayed left, and I went straight past her, shortcutting through a huge puddle, then hanging a left into the decent.

Skip to the second lap, same spot. I was pushing hard up the climb since I could still see Colin a few places up. I was hurting, anaerobic. As I've gone over before, my cognitive skills aren't too sharp when I am anaerobic. I got to the top of the single track, and hung a left into the decent. Problem was, it was the left about 20 feet before the correct left. I descended down a washed out fireroad for quite some time, wondering why in the hell someone would lead a race down what was basically a dried up creek bed. It didn't strike me as strange though, because I remembered a part of the (correct) decent from the first lap that was similar to a dried creek bed. I eventually came to an intersection and stopped.


No sign of bikes, no arrows, no course ribbon. Right around then I had figured I was off course, way off course. In my anaerobic haze I couldn't figure out when, where or how I had taken a wrong turn. In the interest of not cheating, my only option was to head back up the way I came. I walked/rode for awhile and after a few minutes I saw some racers riding beside the woods, so I did a little bush-wacking and hoped back on the course between two 40-49 Cat1 racers. I was at the bottom of the dirt road climb that leads into the wooded single track climb, meaning I did that climb twice on my second lap. I probably gave up around 10 minutes with that wrong turn. Keep in mind that I was already off the back of the pack before this "detour."

I was hating the course. The conditions were miserable. It was hotter than hell. I had bug bites. We weren't even an hour in yet and I had no chance of not finishing last. None of these excuses struck me as a reason to drop out, so I raced my bike through the woods. I rode the last 3 laps at my own pace, it was a pace that hurt, but it didn't break me. I passed a bunch of Cat1 guys, and only got passed by one rider (not counting stars and stripes jerseys, or getting lapped by Driscoll and Freye) in the last two hours of racing.

Sure enough, on the next time up the final climb, I saw a piece of course ribbon laying on the ground, and quite a few tire tracks going down the route I took. Somewhere out there are a few other dumbasses that did exactly what I did. They probably turned around much sooner than I did, but let's not split hairs.

What actually happened.

While I was looking for an overhead view of Pats Peak for "the discussion," I noticed that Google maps actually considers the route I took to be a road. No really. Look at that course map again, it's called Craney Pond Road. I added my awesome route down in blue, and my lame route back up in red...

(You're probably going to have to click on that to make it viewable)

Who's to blame for this?

Me. I'm a dipshit. Promoters can't be blamed for a piece of tape being down in the furthest corner of the course, and Cat2 women can't be blamed for not being friendly in the most miserable of race conditions.


Let's quickly discuss the nuances of DFL, or Dead Fucking Last for those not in the know. Last place is the last finisher in an age group. DFL is the last finisher in a category. I'm Cat1, and I did not post the slowest Cat1 time of the day. To me, that means I wasn't DFL. Give me that at least, it's all I got.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pats Peak, a response.

I'm not a fan of commenting on my own blog. It strikes me as amateurish. The squirt gun show is for me to try and amuse you with my wit and opinions. It is not a tool I use learn the opinion of others. But every once in a while, the squirt gun show collects some comments that are just too hard to ignore.

First up is Anonymous. What happened? We used to be so cool. You used to agree with me. You used to think I should be Pro. Let's make up, why don't you tell me which parts of my post were not true, aside from the fact that it was an entirely contrived conversation between two imaginary individuals, and I will apologize for them. Are grassy, muddy traverses actually awesome? Were the dirt road climbs straight up the ski trail not actually there, were they just a mirage? Do mountain bikers like trying to race through an ecological disaster that is so encompassing you can't even run it without losing a shoe? Was it the palette bridges, do they actually take significant effort to lay on the ground? Did I miss some fresh cut that you and your buddies worked on all spring?

Wait, the more I read your comment, the more it makes no sense. What I am actually trying to do is throw mud in face of 100% of the people who think Pats Peak is the best course in the Northeast. What I think you're trying to do is allude to some poll you conducted, where you asked every mountain biker in the Northeast what their favorite course is, and 99% of them said Pats Peak. Yeah. Maybe we shouldn't be friends. (you didn't poll me)

And why is PPG2 talking to himself, does it have anything to do with your missing spellcheck button?

Rosey, Right on. Nice to see that there are still people that appreciate a little creativity sprinkled on top of their Internet rants. Anyone can rant (see below), making your rant amusing or interesting takes a little extra time. Thank you for noticing.

McKittrich, you have a call from Kettle on line one. Are you seriously going to try and play the promoter card? The most tired argument in bike racing? Didn't feel like thinking yesterday? Figured you would just cut and paste some crap someone left as a comment on your blog?

The "plight of the promoter" argument isn't going to fly. This event was put on by Pats Peak. It wasn't some individual putting his neck out with his own money, making deals with land managers, arranging for porta-potties, getting permission from land owners, renting a PA system, etc... It was held on private land, and was (probably) organized by Pats Peak employees.

Besides, how does me not having any promotion experience suddenly make a complete lack of trail maintenance excusable? Are screaming downhills into loose, or muddy, 90 degree corners only sketchy after I have promoted a race? The course hasn't changed a lick in the 3 years I've been familiar with it. Silence is not going to get an actual bridge built, or a climb rerouted. Please prove me wrong. (PLEASE!) Other parts of your comment will be addressed later this week.

Colin, There is an actual race report coming, it's already typed. I wrote it before I wrote "the discussion." It contains facts about what happened during my race. It's about as whiney as the English language can possibly get.

John Spartan. Finishing 18th out of 23 doesn't put me in "dead last". Or are we somehow pretending that dropping out of a race puts you in front of the finishers?

In summary:

"The discussion" was supposed to be the humorous appetizer served before a week long bitch-fest. You have all jumped the gun. As the week wears on, my posts will become more whiney, and less creative. So please, holster your hate-pistols until I have given you a full clip of ammo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pats Peak, a discussion.

Years ago when Pats Peak decided they didn't like not making money all summer long, the decided to create a mountain bike race course. This is how the discussion went:

The players:

Pats Peak guy 1 (PPG1), let's call him the head snowmaker.
Pats Peak guy 2 (PPG2), let's say he is an event coordinator.

Note that neither of these two guys knows the first thing about land management, sustainable trails, or pedaling a bicycle.

The scene:

PPG1 and PPG2 are standing over a table with a satellite picture much like the one above. They are trying to come up with a race loop.


PPG1: Well, I know there is a nice smooth loop around around this pond, you could probably ride a bike there.
PPG2: That's a good start, but we probably need to start the race at the bottom of the mountain, how are we going to get up the the pond?
PPG1: What? Just have them ride straight up the middle of this here ski trail, duh.
PPG2: Good thinking, there is some nice single track off the back of the pond, we could have the go up through there next.
PPG1: Yeah, but I think there is a stream that goes through there, maybe we could build a bridge over it?
PPG2: No, we have to do this without thought or effort what-so-ever, my cousin works at a freight company, he's got palettes coming out his ass, we'll just throw some of them down.
PPG1: Alright, but you're carrying them up there. I know there is some pretty sweet single track on the top of the other side of the mountain, let's have 'em go down that.
PPG2: OK, but how are we going to get them over there?
PPG1: Run up right up the middle of the ski trail!
PPG2: Eh, this course has to be around 5 miles, we're going to have to put a bunch of bullshit in between those two nice pieces of singletrack.
PPG1: Son of a bitch, well let's hurry up, the Pats are playing in 20 minutes. Let's just zigzag them across the front of the mountain, then dump them into that single track.
PPG2: Alright, how about a grassy traverse to that dirt road that goes straight down the trail.
PPG1: Perfect, and we can have the bastaaahd's rip a 90 degree turn in lose gravel at the bottom of that dirt road.
PPG2: Awesome, and we can put some photographers there, racers love to buy pictures of themselves shitting their pants.
PPG1: Alright, how about another grassy traverse, then a short climb through this wooded section.
PPG2: But isn't there a stream that runs through there?
PPG1: Shit if I know, I don't leave the lodge when there isn't snow on the ground.
PPG2: Yeah, who cares if the entire trail washes out, it's not a ski trail, besides, we got extra palettes.
PPG1: OK, so let's do another grassy traverse, but let's make this one retardedly muddy, and out in the sun, and maybe we can do something to attract swarms of flies?
PPG2: YES! then we can run the fuckers right up the middle of the ski trail again!
PPG1: IN THE SUN, right in the open, but close enough to the trees so there isn't even the slightest breeze!
PPG2: You're a genius. After that we can...
PPG2: No no no, this time will have a small ribbon of dirt for the traverse, but we'll pepper it with waterbars to make sure it's not too much fun.
PPG1: What the hell is a water bar? Sounds gay to me.
PPG2: Yeah, then it's straight down the mountain into a muddy 90 degree turn.
PPG1: More photographers?
PPG2: God willing, but this muddy turn is more than a 5 minute walk from the parking lot, so I doubt any photographers will be there.
PPG1: Darn, 5 minutes until kick off, let's end this.
PPG2: Errrr. Alright, we'll just run them straight up this dirt road in the middle of the ski trail. If there is one thing mountain bikers love it riding long straight dirt roads.
PPG1: They do?
PPG2: I have no idea what mountain bikers enjoy. Let's hope they like grassy traverses.
PPG1: HAHA! Yeah, and straight shitty downhills that lead into sketchy 90 degree corners.
PPG2: Ok, after the downhill, we gotta get them back to the start.
PPG1: Yeah, lets snake then unnecessarily through the grassy downhill, making sure all the holes and mud are right in the middle of all the corners.
PPG2: Yup, and we can end with a muddy 90 degree corner right into another palette bridge.
PPG2: Shit, that was pretty easy, for a second there I though we might have had to pick up a tool and do some trailwork.
PPG1: No, not at all, we can run this same loop for years and years without a single lick of effort.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Domnarski Non-Race Report.

As I stated before, I race series. I don't train specifically for single races, I train to be consistent all season long. This can be burdensome since it basically means that I have to race every race on the series schedule. We all know there are weekends where your head just isn't in the game and racing feels more like work than pleasure.

A little background:

Every 4th of July, I head back to Upstate New York and go to my friend's 3rd of July party. It's on a lake, there are fireworks, and beers, and BBQ, and potato salad(s). All of these are awesome. I get to ride wide, smooth, mostly car free roads while I am there, and the scenery is amazing. Again, awesome.


Months ago when I looked over the Root 66 schedule, I noticed that there was a race on the 4th of July weekend. "They can't be serious" I thought. It kind of felt like your boss telling you that you had to work on Christmas. Well, being the series racer that I am, I cancelled my travel plans and prepared to race Domnarski.


That's what my girlfriend said when she found out we weren't going to Upstate New York for the 4th. She thinks upstate is as awesome as I do and she wasn't having it. Plans were altered, we would go to the 3rd of July party, drive back on the 4th, and I would race Domnarski on the 5th.


While I was in upstate, the miles and training didn't come as easily as I planned. Some would use the term "derailed" to describe my training last week. I was blowing off family and friends to try and squeeze rides in between thunderstorms. I felt guilty. Time on the bike was spend thinking about what I could (and should) have been doing instead. I was on vacation but I was worried about getting in the miles, and Domnarski was always in the front of my mind. I couldn't relax.

On Friday morning, I headed out on what was going to be an epic 100 mile figure 8 around 2 of the Finger Lakes; this one ride was going to re-rail my training. 20 minutes later I was on the phone with my Dad, requesting extraction as I stood next to my bike with 2 flat tires, holding one tube with a valve stem too short for my rims. It was at that point that Domnarski was kicked to the curb. I decided that I should grab a beer, and dip my feet into the finger lakes instead of ride circles around them. Turns out, this was a great decision.

That photo above is one of the lakes in question. It's a nice lake to bike around, it an even nicer lake to sit next to while sipping a beer.

I stuck to my original plan of returning to Boston on the 4th. Instead of carbo-loading, prepping my bike and going to bed early, I went to another BBQ, drank more beer, and watched more fireworks. I spent Sunday on the couch. I took about 4 naps. I did not race Domnarski. It was the first Root 66 race that I voluntarily missed since I started started racing mountain bikes. My only regret from last week is not abandoning my plans to race Domnarski earlier.


I do not wish failure on any race promoter, but scheduling a race on the 4th of July weekend cannot be condoned. I am happy to say that I celebrated my independence by blowing off Domnarski. U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!