Monday, June 27, 2011

All Out In Moody Park Mountain Bike Race

So the easy play on words here is, "All Out In MUDDY Park". Parts of this course were seriously saturated, and the destruction we did to the trail network can only be compared to Mt. Snow. I thought we were done doing that sort of thing a long time ago, but I guess not. I felt guilty taking part in it, but it was a race, so I just figured I'd carry on and comment on it later.

The Elite field was a little lean with Putney Mountain Bike Race happening right down the road. Do we really need to have Mt. Bike races on the same day within 50 miles of each other? Seems crazy. We started with 7 elites and I was happy to see New England good guy Matty O at registration and on the line. Matt Boobar and "The Internet" were also numbered up and ready to go. There were also some really young looking cats with that eager/scared look on their faces. But thats not saying much coming from me. To me, everyone looks young these days. So it wasn't super deep, but plenty talented.

There was a short prolouge lap around the parking lot to try to help stretch the field a bit, before entering the single track. I managed to get into the woods 1st, and was soon passed by Matty O. There was another guy from Blue Steel Cyclery that I didn't know that made the selection as the 3 of us sort of separated from the field pretty early on. His name was Andy, I know this because I heard several people cheer him on.

It wasn't muddy for the entire circuit, which was just over 4 miles per lap I guess. There were a few sections of really fast double track and even some pretty stout climbing, but thankfully not too much. Lots of steep climbing combined with heavy mud on the bike and body as well as lots of off & ons takes it's toll.

Matty was impressive on lap 1 riding some of these mud bogs that looked impossible to me. He's pretty good at "creating" lines too. I was a mess, often c-blocking Andy when I dabbed or lost momentum. Late on lap 1, I bobbled pretty bad and Andy went around me as Matty pulled away. Before I knew it he was starting to disappear. I finally got back around Andy when it tilted uphill before we finished the lap.

I didn't see Matty again until very late in lap 2, and that encouraged me. I stayed on the gas and tried to be as efficient as possible, because I knew the shit he was doing in the mud was using up a lot of leg, and that sooner or later he wouldn't be able to do it as well. I just commited to running the mud bogs and even so, it was brutal. There were times my leg disappeared almost up to the knee and getting the leg out was tough & I just hoped my shoe would come with did. At times I tried to lift the bike, but it seemed to weigh 1000 lbs.

I didn't catch Matty before we turned onto lap 3, but I had him in the cross hairs for sure. I was glad to be the hunter instead of the hunted. No one else was close behind me, so I figured it was worth risking cramps and cracking to go for the win. I got close in the first section of single track and mud bogs and when we came out onto the double track he was right there. I went by and commented on how much the mud sucked, and he agreed. I put in a hard attack/surge after a loose sandy 180 degree right hander and just stayed on the gas. I didn't look for awhile, but when I had to get off later for a mud sectiuon I noticed he wasn't there. I was encouraged by that and tried to increase my power output in the next climbing section, but the course was really starting to beat the shit outa me. Too much hard pedaling for 1 mph or less or just trying not to fall off a busted pallet bridge.

There was also the much talked about "Gravity Cavity" and I have to admit it's aptly named. Its a 100 meter or so straight vertical drop over a wide, dry wooden bridge right into a sandy, rooted, steep climb. On the first lap when we hadn't seen it yet we kind of fagged out a little going down, but the rest of the laps I let it rip and I'd say I easily hit 40 mph. It was cool!

I stayed on the gas the rest of lap 3 and kept drinking and shooting gels, which was hard to do because my bottles were disgustingly covered with thick, black, stinky mud. I rode lap 4 as hard as I could while trying to be conservative. Which translated to ripping the double track sections, running as hard as I could in the mud and being careful not to make the big mistake. I had a few of those shooting cramps you get when you put your foot down to balance check or dismount. Thankfully they were fleeting, and didn't have teeth to bite and lock in like a pit bull. I've had that happen before too. Ever see a guy rolling around on the ground with the agony face like he just got shot, for no apparent reason? I'm looking at you Rooter.

The bike performed amazingly well. The drivetrain was completely caked with sticky mud, but I had use of all the gears including both chainrings up front all day. The discs were making some haenous sounds of course, but I think that was everyone too.

I was able to cruise the last half lap and finish without the stress of being hunted. Matty pulled in about a minute later and Matt Boobar was 3rd just a short way behind Matty O. Colin 4th.

My teamate, Bill and I (Bill was 4th in the expert field on his brand new Superfly) found a nice neighbor that let us use her hose for a bike/body wash and that made all the difference in the world for the drive home.

I was a little bummed out to only get $50 for my first Elite win. Shit I got $50 for 4th last week, $200 for 2nd at Big Ring Rumpus, and $75 for third at Weeping Willow. $50 for the win? Really? Entry fee was $35ish, gas was easily $20 each for 2 guys, throw in a sandich & a pint and it cost me $20 to drive 7 hours and win a race. Thats still not bad I guess. I dunno, I just think the race winner should at least be able to break even on the day. Oh well.

Thanks for reading, JB

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Pinnacle Mountain Bike Race

This is a tough race. It's hilly and fairly technical. Nothing dramatic in the technical department, but just rugged the whole way through. I did this race in 2009 and they've added some more climbing as well as descending that stretched out the lap by 5 or 6 minutes. They did some work on the re-routed sections of the descent and there were a few

major burmed corners. Those were way fun.

The Elite/Pro wave was the biggest I've raced in all year. It looked like 25 to 30 guys at the start. Andrew Freye and Dylan McNicholas were on the line as well as the Rooter, and several others that I didn't know but looked serious. We had 4 laps to do. The gun sounded and we took off like a shot. This is so mental for a hard 2 hour race, but if you don't do it you'll be buried behind too many guys and you'll never even see the front of the race ride away. I got to the front and slowed down a bit hoping everyone would be satisfied with the pace, but Andrew came through pretty hard so I jumped on in 2nd wheel. He went pretty hard up the long climb and I didn't put in any extra when he gapped me slightly, but instead just rode my own rythm and sooner or later I was back on his wheel. This scenario would repeat itself several times. He rode reasonably down the descent and I enjoyed not taking huge risks.

We had Dylan just about catch us near the top of the climb then he had a slight issue on the descent and decided to have a little dirt nap. That would be it for him on the day. He was banged up, but OK. 2 other guys were also close on the climb but at the bottom they were out of sight, although we couldn't see too far back.

The bottom of the descent has the famous Pinnacle Plummet which is a radically steep 100 meter drop from the sky. It's pretty easy to go from 15mph to 40mph in about 2 seconds. Andrew took a bad line at the top and had to grab a big handful of brake and I jumped ahead. I didn't try to push the advantage, but rather just rode my rythm. On the short splinter loop that brings us back to the propper climb I felt my rear tire get a little squishy on a corner. It kept getting worse, but it was pretty gradual. I just kept going because I didn't have a co2 withe me (dumbass).

Near the top of the climb Andrew pulled away a bit and I kinda thought I might not see him again, I was riding in a defensive way, trying not to burp any more air out of the tire. The descent is long and I never saw anyone. When I blasted the plummet at the bottom and curled around the field and headed back into the woods, Andrew was just 20 meters in front of me. Theres a pretty steep climb in the splinter section and I was right behind him again. Then on the same corner where I first felt the squisy tire a lap earlier, I burped out almost all of what was left. Now I was screwed. I was bottoming out on everything and now I was dabbing on simple sections just to try not to ruin my wheel. My plan was to keep rolling as well as I could and ask one of the lappers for a co2 when I ran into them.

Half way up the climb Chris Hamlin came by and passed me for 2nd place. He was cool and said "sorry about the flat". I asked the only person I passed on the climb if she had a co2 and she said "no....sorry". Then the climb goes from fire road to single track, and I got caught from behind again. It was Peter Ostroski. He noticed I had a flat right away and asked if I had anything. I said, "No I'm an idiot, I got nada". He said I have a co2 and I'll give it to you. That was so cool of him. He's never even met me, I'd been ahead of him for over half of the race and now he hands me a co2 with the head on it ready for use. So I can maybe get back up to speed and race him. Thats mountain bike racing for you.....everyone is nice and supportive. I will have co2s from now on and I'll give them to people that are stuck, like I was.

I hopped off at the very top of the climb to re-inflate, so I could just go straight to descending when I got back on. I drilled it for the next lap and a half and was surprised at how much I had left. I thought for sure I'd get a glimpse of someone in front of me. I did lots and lots of times, but it was always an expert rider that I was lapping. I never saw Peter, Chris or Andrew again until the finish line, where I returned Peter's co2 head and thanked him again for saving my whole day. Andrew won, Peter made it up to 2nd, and Chris was 3rd. I finished 4th and Colin was 5th. I was impressed with Colin's ride for sure. Dude's sharpening up them skills, and gettin fit. Good on ya Rooter!

On a side note, my teamate Jamie Tosca made the trip with me, but didn't have his best day. I was talking with Dylan at the finish line for like 15 minutes when I said "Where the hell is James"? Dylan goes "Oh he dropped out, he's over at your car". Doh. I'm sitting there waiting for him all that time and he's chillin in the shade drinking a Pepsi.

So it's Tuesday night and I'm still sore and tired from that damn race. Mountain bike racing is HARD!

Thats it, thanks for reading, JB

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Of all our recent titles, this one means the most to me! I can't believe it. The BOSTON BRUINS ARE THE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!