Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Riding the Flint ridge into West Virginia

   After awhile of waiting i was finally able to get a set of the Kenda Flintridge Pro tires in. First thought when these tires were announced was that they were going to be a fast rolling gravel tire. Coming from the Happy Medium i was a little dissuade with much smaller cornering knobs. Though the lack of corner knobs that stick out so much should help with the drag on the road. This will be my first try going tubeless for gravel grinding.
                                                                                  The Flintridge comes in at 442 per tire and is 40g less than the claimed weight. Mounting them up on the Bontrager TLR wheels i have was a breeze, took a bit of muscling it to get it on. They weren't the easiest tires to mount, nor were they the hardest tires (where i would have to use tire levers). With a cheap floor pump i was able to mount them to bead up by 40 psi (10 below the max of 50 on the sidewall).

The first ride on them, was on the single speed. So i would have to carry more speed around some downhill turns, to carry more momentum into the next up hill; in the rolling hills here in western PA. At 40-45 psi these tires felt really stiff, making for a rough ride on the larger gravel, but on the road the took up the road noise perfectly. Now being new to tubeless for gravel riding i have to get away from my habit of running tubed tires 50+ psi, so that i can get a true feeling for these tires.  These felt smooth on the road, quickly get up to speed (especially on descents). Cornering felt solid on them, though bit tough to hold a line over really rough gravel at the high pressure i was running. Once i drop the tire pressure down, it should help them feel much better over the rough stuff.    
The Flintridge Pro (left) and Happy Medium (right)
Both 35mm versions
                    Look for a longer term review after i use these for the                                                     HillyBilly Roubuix and spend more time getting used to tubeless tires.                                    

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 Tour of Tucker County Road Race

Each year for the past five or six years, I start the Memorial Day weekend with a drive to Tucker County, WV for the Tour of Tucker road race.   Each year, I look forward to the challenge, and yet dread the agony of this race.  And each year, I struggle to finish in the top 15 of the Masters 40+ class.

A seven mile long climb up Limestone road is a difficult but manageable start to the 56 mile race.  Then, a ride across a rolling mountain ridge eventually drops to Route 50 in Aurora which puts racers into one of the fastest three mile switchback road descents in WV....quite possibly the only real opportunity to rest the legs.  From there, Rt. 50 to Rt. 72 offer some "relatively" flat riding with two steep climbs back to Saint Thomas.  Finally, the true test of the legs and lungs begins at mile 48 with the steep 1900ft climb up Sugarland road to the giant windmills at 3500ft elevation on top of the mountain.

Every year in the past, I've gone out too hard from the start, only to fight wind alone on the ridge, and eventually suffer leg cramps on the Sugarland climb.  This year, however, I managed to hang on to a small chase group of Masters 40 and 50+ racers to the top of Limestone Road.  At that point, the group dwindled to just myself and a racer in the 50+ category.  We traded pulls, picking up and dropping other racers along the way until we reached Saint Thomas.  From that point on, he pulled ahead in his own race with other 50+ guys, leaving me alone to tackle the final climb that I know from past experiences will cause leg cramps, overheating, and doubt that I would ever come back and race again.

During the final climb, I was passed by another 40+ male.   Struggling to stay within 30 yards of him, I contemplated lying in the creek adjacent to the road to lower my core temperature.  For miles, there seemed to be a power threshold that muscle cramps in both legs.  As the competitor reached the steepest grade next to the cemetery, I noticed he was beginning the fight with cramping muscles as well.    My last gulp of water was enough to get me past him with only a mile to go.   Then, after the final surge to the top I rolled across the finish line for a 5th place spot on the podium

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bye Bye School and Hello Cycling!

It took me a second to figure out what photos I wanted to go along with my post, but then the idea popped in my head to use a picture of my “racing wall” in my apartment. TADA! I was surprised to see how many ABRA races (17 pictured here and a few random 5Ks) I have done in the last year and a half.  What surprised me even more were the improvements that I have made despite not being able to ride my bike much this school year!

I started pharmacy school in the past year, and was I surprised to learn how much time I would have to dedicate to school and work instead of exercise. It turned out to be a major adjustment period. I spent an hour here and there a few times during the week on a stationary bike and ran on the treadmill. Some days it was difficult because of how fatigued I was from my near nonstop days during the school year. Not ideal circumstances, but I would go hard during those sessions to make the most of them. If I wasn’t able to get out on a bike for a few hours at a time, mind as well make the hour sessions worthwhile! Apparently I was doing something right with this method of training.

Now that the school year is done, I have been able to do a bit more with cycling. A 6th place finish in the Women’s 3/4 race at Steel City Showdown was a great way to start off the summer. Let’s see if I can keep this going later in the year!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lining up for 2016

2016 has been a great year for bikes so far. Coming back from injury has been a slow process of regaining bike fitness, but it is definitely more enjoyable when you aren't hurt. Rob over at Dynamic Physical Therapy pushed me through the whole process so I wouldn't give up until I was finally pain free. Now, I am making sure to foam roll and stretch the surrounding musculature to limit the chances of reinjury.
My bike season started off with the team training camp. There is nothing better than doing a big group ride with your friends. Thanks to Pathfinder and Morgantown Brewing Company we had the supplies and fuel needed to get us through the weekend. We finished off the weekend by climbing up break iron followed by a challenging decent increased my confidence as a rider. Big climbs challenge mental and physical strength while I convince myself that putting a foot down will do more harm than good.


Next, I traveled to a few collegiate races on at Navy, VT, and Appalachian State. I am so proud of the WVU cycling team for pulling out an overall third place in Division 1 for the ACCC and qualifying for Nationals. Individually I was able to pull out a 3rd place overall for Womens B. Early races always remind me how much I haven't climbed hills in months as I contemplate dropping out with every pedal stroke (don't worry I didn't).

WVU Home crit

With this beautiful weather I hope everyone is getting outside and enjoying themselves! Can't wait to see you all soon at the next ABRA event, Steel City Showdown!

Race spectating with my Swiftwicks and Pathfinder bottle

Appalachian State

Thursday, March 31, 2016

new food for riding

I have been working on a new recipe for bars to eat while riding.  Those that were at our team camp a few weeks ago had a chance to try these new treats.  They are a tasty treat with plenty of carbs and some protein.

Here are the ingredients you will need.

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup creamy unsalted peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups rice cereal
  • 1 cup of dried mealworms
  • ½ cup of dried crickets

You'll want to put the honey in a small pot and bring to a light boil. As you are waiting for honey to heat up mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl; rice cereal, salt, dried meal worms, dried crickets. After your honey comes to a boil mix in the peanut butter. Stir the peanut butter into the honey until it's smooth. once thoroughly mix pour it over you dry ingredients. Mix everything thoroughly to make sure the honey and peanut butter coat all of the dry ingredients. Once the mixture is completely coated pour it into a glass 9x13 baking dish and spread evenly, press firmly to compact it into the pan. Let it cool completely, about an hour.  After it has cooled it's now timed to cut. I prefer pieces about 1" by 2" to eat while riding, though this can be cut any size that you see fit.

There you have it a quick simple recipe to eat while out on the bike, it'll help replenish the carbs you are burning and protein you body will need to recover. These are very tasty and will go quickly, so long as no one ask for the recipe.

Wait, why are there other dudes dressed like me…?

As winter had loosed its grip over the area and an increasing amount of decent days helped get me back in the swing of riding, I started to notice a strange thing happening. I was beginning to ride with a lot of other people wearing the same kit as I was. How could this be? It has been so long since something like this happened out on the roads. How long? Well I thought about it and the answer is 20 or so years! Yep, not since the early-mid 90’s have I been on a such a comprehensive team. I must say I really missed it!

While I mainly train alone I have always been a “team” guy, I enjoy the structured environment of one. I also love having a large group of teammates enjoying a sport as much as I do. I haven’t had that in quite a long time and for the last few years prior to this one I was hoping to find it again. With each passing week, as we have more team training rides and races together, I feel the team atmosphere will continue to grow. Of course bike racing ain’t easy and we’ll each have our bad and good days on the bike but it will be great to have teammates to share all those days with the rest of the year and beyond.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Beginning of the End

As my spring break comes to an end, I begin the last quarter of my senior year of high school. After that I have summer break and then the next chapter of my life begins. It's pretty strange for me to think about: it seems like just yesterday I was a freshman in high school and tomorrow I'll be a freshman in college. Before you know it I'll be sixty-something, writing a blog about how I am about to retire. But that's a long ways away and it's best to live in the present.

Being the end of my senior year, I really don't have that much school stuff to do. I have two study halls every day, so the only work I really have to do at home is math homework and the occasional writing for my Creative Writing class. This lack of excessive work has freed up some time outside of school for me to enjoy this wonderful weather that we've been having. Here are some photos from my endeavors!

I asked my Girlfriend to prom!

I went longboarding(many times)

Remember that nice weather I mentioned? Unfortunately it didn't make it to this race

Fortunately a few days later I was able to ride with exposed arms and legs! 
A beautiful skyline on a beautiful car, to finish it off
Spring is here and soon it will be summer. I'm excited for all the great times and memories I will make with all my great friends and family before I begin the next chapter of my life!