Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coyote Hill race report

Jeff Lukach took this photo as I rolled over his midsection.

What went right.

New kit. I was lookin' good. Ever notice that this section is really short?

What went wrong.

Rear tire wouldn't hold air. Kenda sidewalls are notoriously porous, and take more than the 24 hours I gave them to set up correctly tubeless. I pumped that bastard up 75 times, all day long on Saturday. Sunday morning I was still pumping it up. We stopped for food on the way to the race, and I had to add air again. 20 minutes later we got to the venue and it was flat. At that point I submitted to my stupidity and threw a tube in.

Cut to about 2/3rds the way through the first lap. I'm headed down a short, steep slope into a smooth and sharp left hander (you know the one). Next thing I know I'm sliding on my back and using my legs to try and keep my bike off my face. I get back up and start running. Something wasn't right, I immediately check that bastard of a rear tire. Seems fine. Front end seems firm. Wait. The front end feels firm because the rim is sitting on the ground. Shit. CO2 number one couldn't get it to seal since the bead of the rim was packed with dirt. CO2 number two was used after I got a tube stuffed in there. Back in business.

After playing catch-up for two laps, I'm booking down a nondescript straight-away when I notice the front tire is getting all wishy-washy. I get off, give it a pinch, find it soft, and empty the rest of CO2 number two into there. For some reason I hopped back on and started to race, even though I knew that adding air to a slowly softening tube was only prolonging the inevitable. A few minutes later I was walking. (autopsy later revealed a tiny thorn sticking out of my tire.)

taken during the brief period between flats.

What did I learn.

1) The Bontrager ACX blows ass. Well, that's not fair. The Bontrager ACX blows ass at staying on your rim during high speed turns. As a racer who puts out puny watts, high speed turns are where I earn my paychecks. Two of the three races I have done with this tire have had me on the side of the trail trying to get it back onto the rim. Technically, it's not a "tubeless" tire, but none of the tires I run tubeless are. Technically, I was running 32 psi and the sidewall says the minimum recommended pressure is 40 psi. Technically, some ebay user is about to pick up a whole pile of Bontrager tires for really cheap.

2) I used to say that the only thing lightweight tubes were good for was carrying around in your jersey pocket. Then I realized that at some point that lightweight tube is going to have to be stuffed into one of your tires. It's at that point that you realize lightweight tubes should only used in the tires of very expensive race bikes, while they are still on the showroom floor. They are like a novelty item, there should be a warning on the box "do not actually use".


DNF. ytrf (that was my forehead violently striking the keyboard.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Massasoit Lung Opener race report

(edit: I wrote this a while ago, and it sat waiting for an image of my ride home for about a month. downloaded about two months worth of crap off the garmin last night, so this post finally gets published. pretend it's April 21st...)

What went right.

I got a good start. At the last two races, I had too much left in the tank at the finish, and felt great during the last lap. I figured the best way to maximize last-lap-pain was to start super fast. So I did, I was 5th or 6th wheel going into the woods. A few miles later I was still going strong, following Timmy D and Foley, playing the part of caboose of the 29er Crew train.

My man Rob f'n Stine decided not to race since he was doing Singlespeed-A-Palooza the next day. He offered to hand me bottles. Since the feed zone was flat and paved, high speed hand ups gave me a definite advantage. Rob Stine is the man.

What went wrong.

I need a new bike. While I was playing the part of the caboose early on in the race, at one point I dropped my chain on an uphill. I came to a swearing stop, managed to get the chain back on, then managed to remount, and get pedaling again. I tried to put the hammer down and catch back on, but was suffering from the lack of coordination that comes with panicked, anaerobic efforts. 10 seconds later I was taking a trip over the bars. A few minutes later, with the train way up the trail, I settled into a more reasonable pace. I went to take a drink and found I had no bottle. 9 mile lap, temps in the 80s, I hadn't taken a drink yet, and I'm at least 5 miles from the feed zone. Danger.

The next 1.5b laps were spent trying to get Ezra Mullen off my wheel. On the second lap I managed to find, and finish, the bottle I lost on the first lap. With my hydration strategy back on track, and a pro feeder handing me bottles, I was able to attack through the feedzone going into the last lap. I got a little gap on Ezra, and kept my foot on the gas to cross the finish line 1:55 ahead of him.

What was learned.

I'm really fast at the end of races, I should try harder in the first 66%.

...and my drivetrain is defunct.


7 of 14. Best result of the year, second best ever. I'm not getting too worked up though, Singlespeed-A-Palooza was the next day, take the top 4 from there, put them in front of me where they have been all year, and I'm back to my usual 10-14 range. (faster than last year).


At Hopbrook, I put 1:56 on Chris Hamlin in the last 25% of the race.
At Winding Trails I put 1:57 on Matt Green in the last 40% of the race.
At Massasoit I put 1:55 on Ezra Mullen in the last 33% of the race.

I've been finishing too strong. Leaving too much in the tank. How much? Well, as a little test, I decided to bike home from Massasoit as a way of running the tank dry, just to see how much I had left in it.

Not sure if it was the increased traffic, stop signs, and red lights that began around Braintree, or if it was an impending bonk; but I seemed to have about an hour and a half of hard riding left in the tank.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weeping Willow race report

Neutral gang colors. Yes, my jersey matches my wheels, thanks for noticing. (photo: Uri)

What went right.

ummm. The weather? Beautiful day.

What went wrong.

My course recon. I was under the impression that Willowdale was flat and this was going to be a high speed big ring race. I came to win. I had my fastest tires on (xr1/rear, knobless wonder/front) (no link for the knobless wonder, apparently it is no longer in production) and some stiff suspension settings. I mentioned before the race that my setup was the shit, and only had one weakness: pine needles. Any sort of loose ground would render my bike completely useless.

There was this one mile section of fast doubletrack that I CRUSHED. The other 95% of the race was tight corners on loose ground, and I flopped around like a, .....like a, (Thom, quick! i need a metaphor!). I was constantly over-cooking corners and dabbing on flat ground because my bike only went in straight lines. I had to shave speed for even the gentle corners, and when I tried to punch it on the way out, the back tire would spin out.

While there were no long climbs, the course certainly wasn't flat. There was a lot of "rolling" terrain, and tons of punchy little uphills. This race had more turns per lap than any other race in the history of the world. It was not a high speed big ring race.

What did I learn.

1) Lapped traffic is much easier to deal with when you are racing to minimize losses, as opposed to actually racing.

2) Traction makes biking easy and fun!


8 of 26. All things considered; a decent result in a huge field. I can't wait to race this again next year. It would have been serious fun if I had even a little bit of traction.