Sunday, October 31, 2010

Into the Pain Tunnel

Yesterday I headed to Memphis for day one of Spooky Cross.  I'd planned to head to Louisville for the Eva Bandman but bagged it in favor of Memphis for several reasons:
1.  Closer
2.  Cheaper
3.  TBRA Points
4.  I could double up
5.  Afternoon racing

So it was with much anticipation that I headed for Memphis.  Weather was still beautiful (will we see mud this season?) and the drive was benign.  The course they set up was really exceptional and soul crushing.  After a long grass-crit start, we hooked up with the last quarter of the course, winding through a tight set of corners, a super fast off-camber left hander, then a little up and down that required brakes, power and intention.  After a super tight set of corners the lap started with a really sweet high speed left/right cornering section then dropped into the amphitheater.  We had to dismount to cross a double railroad tie, then run across the amphitheater and up a large set of decomposing stairs, seen here:

After a remount we plunged into some wicked singletrack that was several dudes unmaking (and one of the few places I could make time).  A couple barriers, some flat along the lake, a crushing grassy singletrack climb to a paved bike path, then into the last quarter grass section and through the start finish.

Single Speed lined up in front of the B race.  I took the holeshot and set the pace the first lap.  The course designer and crowd favorite Boomer glued himself to my wheel for the first 3 laps until I kinda cracked a little.  He rode me off his wheel and I floated by myself for the remaining 3 or 4 laps.  Finished 2nd.  I need to learn some tactics.

The A race started immediately afterward.  I drank a little water, pulled myself together and lined up in the back.  For the first time I was last headed out of the start gate.  It was interesting to watch from the back but also a little humbling.  I started moving up, picking off a rider here or there.  I started to feel really good after about a lap and a half, but we were doing 10 and with 6 laps to go I really started to suffer.  After giving up a few places late in the race, I was dying for an excuse to drop out, but fortunately I got lapped.  Yep, lapped.  Humbling.  Kept me from quitting, though, so it was a blessing in disguise.  Don't know how I finished, had to split and find fast food. (Update:  finished 4th of 4 in the 1/2 combined, 2nd of 2 in the 2's behind Bosio...  baby leg)

I'm so fortunate to be racing at all and to even be pseudo-competitive at this stage.  I'm trying to not get attached to my results and yesterday's A race was a prime opportunity to face that.  This wasn't a priority race like last weekend, so I spent a lot of time on the bike last week, even got in my first long run since my surgery.  I think the competition is getting better around here, the field was certainly larger than I expected and the front of the B Race was really cooking.  As the sport grows, it's probably safe to assume that fields will keep getting bigger and wins will be harder to come by.

Can't say enough about the course out there.  Lot's of really great elements, tons of corners, lot's of braking required, definitely not a roadie course.  I was absolutely killing the bike handling, now if I could just get these legs going...  maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

USGP Wrap-up

Wrap it up!
USGP in Louisville last weekend.  Lots of dust.

I started 114th and 118th, finished 41st and 39th.  Last year I pulled off 19th place so I was decidedly slower this year, though everyone agreed the competition was a little more fierce this year.  I didn't look good.

definitely gotta drop a few more lbs before I'm riding like I was last year...

Friday, October 22, 2010

USGP Bitches!!!

Headed to Louisville for the Big Dance, the USGP Derby Cup, out at Bandman Park.  Louisville has set aside this little corner of their fair city for Cyclocross.  That is to say, cyclocross only.  Very very nice.

Apparently Louisville put $125,000 into this thing...  pretty epic, I'd say.  Psyched to see it and race it.  Might even head up there for the local race next weekend...

Becker took me to the Predators/Penguins game last night.  It was a nice little date.  Penguins won 4-3 in overtime.  Becker was happy.  Maybe I'll take pictures this weekend.  Probably not.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a couple bike dorks...

Got up uber early this morning to do a little 'cross practice with my man Jeremy.  He just landed his new Kona Jake the Snake and was itching to get it on some dirt prior to this weekends main event.  I lucked out and got the course mowed last night before dark.  I was able to drop the mower to it's lowest setting so there was a clearly defined route when we went out there this morning.  Super fast, lots of bullshit and remount sessions.  No pictures from the park, still not sure if I'm going to get harassed or arrested for my "course improvements" but it's a really sweet 6-7 minute loop.  If I had a helmet cam I'd let you in on it. 

Yesterday I took the 'Hopper in to reduce the travel from 100 to 80mm.  I didn't think it could be any faster but it is.  3 consecutive 41 minute laps out at Lock 4 have me convinced that I'm not "recovering" anymore, just a little slower than usual.  What a ridiculous bike.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The Festy was absolutely ridiculous.  Here's a link so some amazing pictures.

Seriously the best time I've had in my life.  After staying up till 2am drinking Stringduster beer and moonshine in the campground, I was up at 8am for the Devils Backbone Challenge.  We started at the Brewery and after a neutral roll-out climbed about a mile and a half up a steep paved road.  The pack sorted out, I pushed hard, felt great and rode some amazing terrain.  An hour and five minutes later I rolled back into the finish at Devils Backbone in 1st place.  Thanks to Woody and his crew for putting this thing on.

This was what it looked like from our perspective.  Next year, same time, same place, cyclocross race and another night of music.  Make your Festy plans now, fool.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've been waiting for this bike since my custom painted Schwinn Homegrown hardtail got stolen from a party back in college.  Not that I didn't have a few other rides along the way, just none of them had the handling characteristics and vibe that the Hopper and the Homegrown had.  With just a few minor tweaks on the ride today, I think the 'Hopper and I are settling into a nice rhythm.  I'm no good at photos, here's the only one I got.  I'm sure there'll be more.

Once I tilted the handlebar back (I like it in line with my arms so the bar bends up a little) adjusted the brakes (I like them looooooose), got the seatpost to stop slipping (grease?), and tightened up the headset, the bike started to feel really comfortable,  familiar even.  The 30 degree bend in the handlebar is glorious.  The morning was perfect, just a little chilly, and no one was out on the trails at Montgomery Bell.  I took one minor spill on a steep switchback (still working with little to no horsepower) and clipped a tree with my right forearm but otherwise managed to not break anything body or bike.  Headed for The Festy (see yesterdays post) with running shoes and bike in tow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Festy Preview... and more!

This weekend is the long awaited Festy Experience, a music, outdoor and beer festival hosted by yours truly and The Infamous Stringdusters at the Devils Backbone Concert Grounds in Nelson County Virginia. We've put together a ridiculous lineup.  Seen here, at right.  As well, we've joined forces with the Devils Backbone Challenge mountain bike race and The Blueridge Burn 5k and 10k trail runs.  I intend to do the 5k and the mountain bike race, but I make no guarantees.  It all takes place this weekend, October 9,10 on the concert grounds at the Devils Backbone Brewery, 2010 World Beer Cup Champion Brewery. They're making a special beer called The Stringduster specifically for the event.

It's about a beautiful location, beautiful people, incredible music, world class beer, mountain biking, hiking, running, and just about any other fun thing you want to do (ultimate anyone?).

So basically we've got it all.  If you can't stop in, I'll make you aware of what you missed.

This just in!  A photo for you bike people.  

Oh that's the stuff.  Feel so good when it gets replaced.  Put the new bike together tonight (actually another Travis at Biker's Choice did it but I watched) and didn't finish until the sun was setting so I haven't had a chance to ride it or take a decent photo.  I'm going to remedy these things tomorrow early in the morning before we head to The Festy. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bike Snob on Cyclocross

Big Snob NYC nails it.

Rode the practice course yesterday, it's fantastic. 6-6:30 lap times. New section winds through the ravine single-track style. Makes me want to get a helmet cam just to show it off.

I'm going for a ride.

Update: It was awesome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week (Weak?)

It's been a week since my last post, mostly because I'm trying to not just puke a bunch of nonsense onto this page, but also because there's basically nothing going on noteworthy.  Well, maybe there is, let's see, shall we?

- Last week was IBMA week.  For those of you who don't know, IBMA used to be a huge bluegrass party, now it's just a small one.  We partied in one room, all week, every night, till like 6 am.  Tons of music, great new bands, check out Milk Drive:

and Roustabout. Really killer music all the way around. We even got in some impromptu showcasing, here's our "band" Heady Festy feat. LARF playing in the Acoustic Trail room.  This is basically a dream band with Falco on guitar, Panda on banjo, Dennis Ludiker on Fiddle and Dominic Leslie on Mando.  Sarah's lurking in the corner as well.

- So while all that was going on, I was getting no sleep, drinking heavily and basically taking poor care of myself.  I got out for a short ride then honed in my course at Charlotte Park.  There's more dirt, more technical aspects and more speed this year.  I took the weedeater, the rake and mower out and made a full lap with the mower.  Today when it warms up I'll head out there and take a few hot laps, see how the new layout feels.  Might even take a few pictures...

- Still waiting to build the Single Speed which also means I'm still waiting to shoot photos of "the crack."  As soon as that's all up and about, you'll know.

- The Festy is this weekend.  Three days of music, outdoors and beer in the hills of Virginia.  Tickets are cheap, the lineup is ridiculous and it has something for anyone that would find themselves reading this blog.  We've been preparing for our festival for a year now and it's upon us.  Cyclocross race next year, this year you'll have to be content with a run or mountain bike race.  The Revivalist blog did an interview with me about the Festy.  Check it out