Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coyote Hill race report.

(Dear Internet, I know. You like pictures. Text is boring. Hang in there, soon I will have a camera to amuse you with. For now, be glad I figured out how to add links. Baby steps. (edit: Found one!))

The squirt gun show is a very young blog. Because of this, you might not be expecting too much from it, but today that changes. I am going to share with you a medical breakthrough that will rock the foundation of athletics. What I am about to reveal is a breakthrough so important, all stairs will be replaced with escalators; sidewalks with conveyor belts; and every chair will have wheels, and a motor.

As for the race report, let's pick it up in the middle. Second lap, I'm angry. What makes the folks at Coyote Hill think they can just use mountain bikers as trail building tools? Just cut some brush, rake a little bit to make what looks like a trail, then run 300 pairs of tires over it a bunch of times to make it into an actual trail. Last year there was a bunch of fresh cut. This year, more fresh cut? The nerve.

Problem is, the course was the same as it was last year. I liked it last year. It hurt this year. It reaaaally hurt.

See that picture? That's proof, proof of my pain. That should be the last time you see that ill-fitting helmet, but it certainly won't be the last time you see me trying to hide my pain-face from the camera.

Let's jump to the end of the race. I am done, not just with racing, but with functioning. I crossed the line, veered into the tall grass and laid 'er down. I stayed there for a few minutes, panting uncontrollably. My body wanted more oxygen than the planet earth could provide. I eventually made it to my feet and started cleaning up my feed. I collected all my spent bottles, put them back into my cooler and started to granny gear it back to my car. I had my cooler in one hand, the handlebar in the other. As I slowly (slower than you're currently thinking) passed my car, I set the cooler down right next to the drivers' side door. As soon as I let go, I hit a bump, or jerked the bar, or did something that resulted in me running directly into the side of my car. It was loud, people noticed. I was laying across the hood, trying to push myself up but did not have any energy or strength. I was a useless human being.

I managed to collect myself physically. Tried to wipe dry dirt off with a towel. Almost locked my keys in the trunk, but was saved by my keys, which prevented the trunk from shutting when I slammed it on them. I lost a glove 15 seconds after taking it off. I spilled chocolate milk all over my arm, from shoulder to wrist. I probably would have pissed myself if I wasn't so dehydrated. Just a useless human being.

I gave up on doing anything useful, and went to wait for results. I tried to mill around and shoot the shit with everyone but was having a hard time putting words and thoughts together to form sentences. So I opted for a seat in the grass, and long stare at the ground.

About an hour later, I'm driving home and wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Somehow or anther I started thinking about how a lack of oxygen to your brain can cause brain damage. hummm? I just emerged from about a 2 hour oxygen debt. hummm? I wonder if these could be connected? Then I missed my exit, and the next exit was well.

Later on (I made it home), with a little help from google, I learned the following about a lack of oxygen to the brain, or Cerebal Hypoxia:

Especially susceptible to injury structures include the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory; the cerebellum Purkinje cells, which are responsible for coordination; and the pyramidal cortical cells, which are cells near the surface of the brain that are responsible for all higher brain functions like communication, thinking, and mathematics.


I was racing the exact same course as last year, but was convinced it was in the area of 55% new, fresh cut trail.


Picture my upper body sprawled out on the hood of my car, and my lower body still clipped into my bike.


There was plenty of that going on around me as I sat, staring at the ground while waiting for results.


um. yes, I would like some of that please. Thank you.


I avoid math after races. I find it easier to just eavesdrop on Colin, that usually ends up answering all my math questions.

So there you have it. All of us bike racers are making ourselves dummer by the day. You have two choices, give up on all physical activity and retain what brain cells you have left. Or, take the path I have chosen and race away your brain. yeah! stupidity!

I like to end all my posts with a little positivity, so I'll point out the silver lining of my slow slide into mental retardation. You get to watch. Yes, this blog will take on a sort of second half of Flowers for Algernon vibe. Well, maybe not the second half, more like the final third, I never really set the bar that high to begin with.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

GT attempts to find, and reward, World's Greatest Sandbagger.

The theme of the week here at the squirt gun show is the ugly topic of sandbagging, and lives of those it touches.


Pro mountain bikers get all the love. Huge houses, tons of ladies, caviar for breakfast, golden showers. But what about the rest of us? The working men (and women)? The fast Cat 1 guys (and girls). Sure we might sniff the podium a little every now and then, maybe even get to go home with a new pair of gloves from the clearance bin for our 3rd place finish, but where's the gigantic financial windfall we deserve?

Well, this year, GT bicycles is there for us. They have decided to spread a little love around by creating a race series, and rewarding the fastest non-pro with a dope ass bike. That lucky pencil-pushing, cubicle-dweller that just happened to peak on the right day then gets flown to the next race in the series to defend his new dope-ass bike against another hungry pack of kinda-fast guys (and girls).

More information is at gtisgolden.com. They do a better job of explaining the contest than I do. Shocking, I know.

That bike is mine:

Sounds like a great idea, and the caboose of this race series is a New England classic, the Landmine at Wompatuck State Park. "I own Landmine, that bike is mine" I though. A few potential snafu's popped into my head though. USA Cycling has some convoluted rules about what category you can or can't race if you don't have a yearly license. This usually means the superfast roadie pros can't race against the super fast guys (or girls), they are forced to rip the legs off the sort-of-fast guys (or girls). I ran this scenario past GT and they assured me that mountain AND road pros were not allowed to compete for the bike.

Awesome. That bike is mine. Then the race season started and I realized I'm not fast. Well, maybe I am fast, but there plenty of faster dudes in the Cat 1 field. My main weaknesses seem to be temperatures over 60 degrees, stars and stripes jerseys, and guys named Greg. I have since given up on the Golden Bike. It was stupid, I didn't want it anyway. Dumb bike.


In the two months since I have realized that the stupidheads at GT will never give me their crapbike, there have been some interesting developments. A scenario that even my gigantic brain couldn't conceive has occurred. What if a World Cup* racer from France came to the US and bought a Cat 1 license? Well, he would win the stupid Golden Bike. Then he would go to the next race and win, then the next, then the next, then.... You see where this is going.

The Problem:

So in an effort to reward the fastest unsung, everyday, non-pro mountain biker; GT has actually managed to conduct a very effective search for the world's greatest sandbagger. Then they reward that sandbagger handsomely. I'm going to assume this was not their original intention. The irony of this is that he is French. Now us Americans have a little taste of what it is like for a hated foreigner (Lance Armstrong) to show up and win all our prizes.

Silver Lining:

It's not all bad though. With a $5000+ bike up for grabs, I have a feeling the fields are going to be deep at Landmine. This is probably the richest purse a Cat 1 race in New England has ever seen. Mid-Atlantic racers will make the journey, as will Canadians. A lot of these "non-regulars" that show up to race will be roadies. Wompatuck is not a roadie-friendly race. Long story short, we are going to see lots and lots of roadies cry. How sweet is that? We get to look forward to an entire week of race reports where roadies talk about how they didn't realize mountain biking was so difficult. I'm going to be running around the finish with a gigantic bucket, because we all know, nothing makes a better recovery drink than the tears of your vanquished foes.

*The angry internet masses are claiming this guy is an ex-World Cup racer, I haven't seen any proof. I have seen some impressive results from him as a member of the BH/Suntour team though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Winsted Woods, the aftermath.

The day was Sunday, September 10th, 2006. The event was my first Expert/Cat 1 race. The venue was The Horror at Harding Hill. I didn't win. Since then I have gone on to not win 28 other Expert/Cat 1 races. I have won exactly 1, it was three days ago, and it ended my heroic losing streak.

Spend a little time with a calculator and you'll discover that my winning percentage is a whopping 3%. With stats as impressive as these, it's only a matter of time before ugly words like "sandbagger" and "upgrade" start getting thrown around. Personally, I think words such as these should only be uttered by Cat 3 dudes to explain their mid-pack finishes, but nonetheless, I must defend my honor.

Let's go through the pros and cons of upgrading to pro.


1) You're not winning another race for at least 5 years.

2) You are now racing to not be DFL in local races, and not to get lapped in national races.

3) You have to explain to all your friends that pro doesn't mean you get paychecks, or bikes, or anything other than your ass kicked.

4) That full body pain you always get on your last lap? Now it's going to last twice as long because you have to do two last laps now.

5) Dudes won't blog about how fast you are anymore. There should probably be links in that last sentence. Give it time internet, I'm new here.

6) Doping tests. No more sitting around with the old college buddies, passing around the double chamber blood centrifuge.

7) Pros have to shave their legs. This is a significant commitment. I can't even keep up on my facial shaving. And my girlfriend already told me I can't go near her razor, meaning I have to buy a lady's razor, at a public marketplace.

8)Instead of just the super fast older guys flying by you, now every superfast dude will be flying past you, geared and singlespeed, regardless of their age.

9) Those few guys that you can never beat in the Cat 1 races? They're going to think you're a retard when they see you lined up with the big guns. You will feel silly when they pass you.

10) When you get smoked at a cyclocross race, you're not only disgracing yourself, but the entire sport of mountain bicycling. I can hear it now, some roadie that just out sprinted you for 37th place in the B race: "What!?! That guy's a pro mountain biker? Wow, mountain biking is hurting."


Dude, fucking pro. What's more pro than pro? You'd have a license that says you're pro, therefore making everything you do and say the essence of pro.

Showing up to the race late? That's pro now. Going over the bars? pro. No warmup? Forget your chamois cream? pro. No toilet paper in the portapotty, and you only have your race number? PRO.

Looking over this list, why wouldn't I upgrade? Look at that one pro, sitting there looking so pro.

Problem is there is a race this weekend. My history at this race is less than stellar. 10 of 20 in 2007, 14 of 17 in 2008 (flatted, ran the last 1.5 miles). Those results aren't pro. They're damn near Cat 2. Plus, we're talking about this coming weekend, and I don't want to feel hurried with this whole upgrade thing. There is over a month without a Root 66 race after this weekend. Now that sounds like the perfect time to compose a little love letter to USA Cycling asking them if it would be alright if I sent them more money. Then I can dip my toe in the pro pool in the form of an Elite EFTA race or two, and be ready to get my legs torn off at West Hill come the end of June.

So it's settled. Victory lap this weekend, then it's in the hands of USA Cycling.

Sunday, May 17, 2009