Monday, January 28, 2013

Well, I Guess THAT officially wraps up the 2012 Season

As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and it proved itself accurate once again.  Usually the Allegheny Cycling Association's annual awards banquet is held in late October at the National Aviary on the Northside of Pittsburgh.  However, due to a change in management at the Aviary, the banquet was postponed a few months and moved to a new location, Latitude 40 in Robinson.  Admittedly, this was the first ACA banquet that I attended, but I can't imagine the old venue could be any better than the new location. It was impressive all the way around.

Typical of most females, Amber announced the morning of the banquet that she didn't have anything to wear. Having been around the block a time or two, I knew that meant if she was going to go to the banquet with me, we were off to go buy her a new outfit ASAP. So... we were at Robinson Center by noon to start sifting through the racks and racks of clothing. While she was trying on some of the various options, I stumbled across a dress that I liked and handed it in to her. She wasn't sure, but when she opened the changing room door, I knew we had the outfit. Sassy, Sexy and most importantly Sophisticated. I can't tell you anything about fashion, but I know what I like, and when I saw her, I knew that I liked what I saw. And the fact that it was on sale for less than $12... SCORE!

Back to the house to change and on our way back to Robinson, she confesses that she feels self-conscious in the outfit because she wasn't tanned.  The first thing through my head was how cute it was that she was concerned about her tan and being around a bunch of cyclists.  Apparently she didn't know what a "cyclists tan" looked like.

We sat with the other Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder teammates and showed off all the bling that we won over the past season. Pretty impressive display of hardware and the night was just getting started.

Dinner was delicious: grilled chicken, steak, or a vegetarian option. I of course, opted for trying all 3.  And after Chris Popvich presented a quick run down of the ACA, David Mitchell was introduced and he gave a little presentation on Pennsylvania Cycling Association. Then, it was what we were all there to see, the awards presentation. First up was the Women's and Juniors titles and then came the Men's Category C. Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder missed out winning the team title and finished second overall, by only 14 points. And that happened only after both Shawn and I, essentially took the month of June off from racing at the oval for one  reason or another.  Then came the individual honors and I was rather happy to see Shawn head to the stage to collect his 4th place series winnings. All season long, despite leading the series in points, I was always focused on trying to win the team honors because it really meant more to me in the long run. Sure, its nice to win, which I did twice at the oval last season, but I want to be the consummate team player and REALLY wanted to hoist the team hardware. I figured it was something the whole team could be honored with, not just me as an individual. So I was very surprised how happy I felt when my name was finally called as the series winner. I guess it was more important to me than I probably led on. I received an awesome etched glass plaque and a little cash to go along with it.

The rest of the awards for B's and C's were distributed, then David Mitchell got back up an passed out the awards to the local recipients of the "BAR" or Best All around Rider. It was great to see so many local riders receiving so many honors, despite most of the point races being held out in the eastern part of the state. David Mitchell promises more races in the western part and maybe even into WV (we know who's shoulders that is going to fall on, don't we JR). He also conceded that for some reason, there is an unwillingness for the eastern riders to travel further than Harrisburg to race. Some may argue that its the price of fuel, but I say its cause 5 hours is a long way to go to get your ass kicked by the local crowd.

And then the part that really excited me was when David Mitchell started talking about the state champions jersey.  I never knew a jersey existed, so when he said that ONLY the elites were given the jersey but the other classes could buy their own, well, lets just say the cash prize I received quickly became the property of the PCA. I texted my fellow state champion on the tandem and confirmed his interest in owning said jersey, and I left the banquet with yet another award.  That was probably the second best part of the whole night.

Without a doubt, the BEST part of the night was hanging out with 3 of the coolest cats in the Peloton... JR, EJ, and Shawn, and of course that meant Gina, Nikki, and Amber. Last night left me REALLY looking forward to the start of the team training camp in March. I hope they are all as excited as I am! After all, its only 40 days until ABRA Training Race #1!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Annual Bear Claw ride

So January 7th marked the 1yr anniversary of finding "The Hand" so it only made sense to re-ride the same route that we did 1yr ago when we found "The Hand."  For those of you that do not know what I am talking about I will fill you in.

A year ago some of my buddies and I were doing a ride around Atwood lake when we came across a hand lying on the side of the road.  Needless to say we were shocked and thinking we came across evidence of a murder so we quickly called 911.  For the remainder of that 3hr ride all we talked about was what possibly could have went down.  And then the next day the following article hits the newspaper:

MAGNOLIA — A hand found Saturday afternoon in Carroll County by a bicyclist most likely is that of a bear, not a human.

Sheriff Dale Williams said the hand was found about 1,000 feet north of Magnolia on state Route 542, near Heritage Road.

“It’s probably a bear, but it looks like a human hand. It really does,”he said.

Stark County Coroner’s investigator Rick Walters concurred, although Coroner P.S. Murthy had not made a ruling as of Sunday night.

He said a bear hand, although different in design, does resemble a human hand.

“We get these all the time, all winter long,” said Walters.

He said most of the time, they are the remnants of a bear hunt. After the bear is cleaned, the hand may get carried off by a dog or wild animal.

“It’s not uncommon at all,” he said.

I felt pretty stupid after reading the article, but it really did look like a human hand.  The only thing that we didn't notice while inspecting the hand was that it had 6 fingers.  Opps. 

So on Saturday, January 12th my buddies and me rode the exact same route and laughed about what had happened one year early. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Riding with the team.

Over the past year I've done a few team ride and they were a blast. These past couple weeks I've go down to Morgantown, for a couple team team dirt road rides. They were some of the most fun I have had on a bike for awhile.

"Just your average WV road ride"
Last week I decided to come out of hibernation a few weeks early and join the team for a ride. Jonathan, JR, Jerry, Jeff, and I met up at JR's and headed out. Our first interesting part of the ride was riding through a crazy tunnel. You could ride through, or you could crawl out of the side of the tunnel.

After while we were on Little Indian Creek Extension(L.I.C.E.), which was the most entertaining part of the ride. Came to the creek crossing and JR was trying to get everyone to take the shallower route across, though I kept urging them to take the deeper section for more interesting photos. Everyone had made it across without problem, well all except Jonathan who didn't even attempt to ride it. Almost right after we started going again I decided to go right through a large puddle which brought me to a stop. I decided to not jump around the edge, since I did the same thing during JR's birthday ride and just ended up on the ground. As we were nearing the end of L.I.C.E. JR and I stopped and where waiting for everyone to regroup, when we could hear Jerry yelling about something, he decided to ride through a puddle and it was a lot deeper than he had expected, and his bike sunk to above his water bottles. Sadly the only witness to this was Stephanie and no one caught any pictures. After this the ride was still fun but nothing really note worth happen, besides be bonking on the final 10 miles.

Most likely Chris favorite part of the ride.
This weekend since JR's Race in North Carolina was canceled due to flooding, so JR organized a team ride. I was contemplating making the trip down to Morgantown right up till the last minute as for me to make it there on time. I showed up to the parking lot I saw Jerry, Jonathan, and Steph all huddled together and JR right in front of them, later I had saw they were taking a picture. As I hurried and got in to my riding gear, I saw Jonathon head out as he wasn't riding with us today due to wanting to rest his knee. The first few miles were on rail trails up to Point Marion where we would meet up with Chris, he would ride with us until we got back to Point Marion.

After we left Point Marion we hopped on a atv trail because the road was too “smooth”. We Eventually got back on the road and started climbing, this climbed seemed familiar but I wasn't sure from where, until Jerry and mentioned this was from a ride Jerry, Jeff and I did last year.

Jerry trying to find a line, thinking were just Baiting him.
After awhile we left the smooth roads and rode along a old rail road bed. We came to a Y in the road where we stopped and I grabbed a bit to eat as a side by side came up the trail behind us. They dropped over the hill side in front of us down to the crick. We took the longer way down to the crick, the hill we rode down was pretty loose dirt. As I got to the bottom the side by side was still trying to work their through the crick. I watched for a bit, after they were on the shore I just clipped in and attempted to ride across and didn't clip in completely so I came to a stop in the deeper section, after I got situated I clipped in and rode the rest and had a wet foot. Jerry stopped at the top of the hill to take video, while JR and Chris tried to find a way to walk across without getting wet. Steph was following JR but took her own route and rode half way across. After we were all across Jerry came down and was trying to scout a line, as we were trying to coax him along to just ride it. The Next crossing had a muddy lead up but wasn't to difficult. As we were riding to the next one JR called out a log and I saw it and was thinking I could clear it, so I built up speed, then I realized there was 2 logs separated and I wasn't to sure if I would clear it. I was lucky enough to clear both with my front wheel and hit the second square with my rear wheel.

The smoothest crick crossing.
The third one we had to hike a bit through the woods to get to a spot to cross, Again Chris and Jr were looking for a way to cross and stay dry, I again just lined up and just went for it and made it across but hit a root on the other side and came to a stop. Jerry followed suite and made it across, he eventually went back across to try another line. Jerry, JR and I were trying to find Steph a line that she would be able to make it across on the first attempt and not fall over. This is why Jerry had went back across, JR pointed out a section that was deeper but calmer and thinking it wasn't as rocky. Jerry lined up and rode across and Steph Followed suite only to make it half way across but something happened half way across before taking a plunge, knowing that its not fun being wet in this temperature we each offered up something dry or to keep her warm. The next to crossings were a lot easier and smoother and not as interesting.

After 5 Crossings we went up hill and came to a spot under some power lines. JR took the lead and we started to head down towards a valley, JR was snaking down down the hill side and Jerry had been taking a more direct route down. I opted to Follow JR down he came to a stop to check out the bottom of the hill, I stopped behind JR. We both sat and watch Jerry come down from the side, he was saying his breaks weren't stopping him. We watched as he sailed over the hill and hit the ditch a the bottom and went over the bars, JR and I made our way down to make sure he was alright and disappointed that no one had a camera on Jerry yet again. Jerry said he tweaked his right arm, shoulder and knee but hasn't too bad. After everyone grouped up at the bottom JR had said we had bypassed the last crick crossing and we're heading back to Point Marion, where Chris went his own way and we headed back to Morgantown. The ride back on the rail trail seemed longer than on the way out, guess my legs and body had hit the wall.

All Pictures are courtesy of JR Petsko.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Pleasant Surprise: Nordic Skiing in and around Morgantown

West Virginia may not be known for its skiing, but in and around the Morgantown area lies several options for winter time base fitness and adventure.

I've been downhill skiing since I was 8 and Nordic skiing (cross country skiing) since I was 13.  I really enjoy Nordic skiing as there is really nothing like it in terms of whole-body workouts.  Plus, contrary to what many people believe, it's actually pretty exciting and similar in some ways to cycling.  Nothing like flying down a hill and seeing that corner coming up, when you're going ~30mph, on a 4cm wide ski, without your heels attached!  And it's much, much, much cheaper than downhill.  MUCH.

My favorite place to ski- Craftsbury, VT.
This is a winter with little snow, but still a great picture.

In Vermont, where I grew up, I had lots of opportunities to Nordic ski.  When I was in high school and in college, I competed in several marathon distance (25-50k) ski races for fun.  It was never a really competitive thing for me, as I didn't have the greatest equipment and I was always a little burnt out from running and doing triathlons during the summer and fall.  However, I did have the opportunity to work with a really great coach who essentially was the Olympic development recruiter for the New England area (he was also my cross country running coach).  Now, I was NOT EVEN CLOSE to that level, but it was great to get lots of help with my form and to see what folks at the highest level were doing.  I even had the opportunity to coach the high school team and travel to Quebec City, Quebec to help with skill development.

Nothing will ever compare to skiing in Alaska.  This is no more than 100 yards from the cafeteria of APU.

Late in my college career I spent 5 months in Alaska as part of an exchange program, and my love of skiing really grew.  I could walk out my dorm door, and be on professionally groomed trails (that were free) in less than 200 yards.  The best part was, these trails ran for miles and miles and miles- over a hundred in fact.  That winter, from January to May I skied about 100k a week, with peak weeks approaching 200k!  I learned to love it, my form improved immensely, and I was hooked.  Especially skate skiing.  If you don't know what that is, check out this link of some amateurs out practicing their technique.

When I came back to VT I continued to ski, but I was graduating from college that next year, and it was a bad snow year, so I didn't get a whole lot of skiing in.  And when I learned I was coming to WV, I was a little sad.  I really thought I'd have no opportunities to ski.  After I'd just learned to really enjoy it.

Me competing in the PA Nordic championships

However, I was very wrong.

In the last 2 weeks I've skied about 120k!

There are basically three locations I ski in WV.  Each has it's benefits and each it's weaknesses.

The first is Coopers Rock State Forest in Morgantown, WV.  If you are from this area, you know of Coopers.  Its generally thought of as a great place to run, hike, climb, and mountain bike.  However, in the winter months it can also be a great place to ski.  And for me, it's the place I go after work to get 30-90 minutes of skiing in.  Due to it's high elevation, we can have no snow in the city of Morgantown, and if you drive the 20 minutes up the interstate to Coopers you can be in over a foot.  If you like adventure skiing, or back country, this is the place for you.  Break out the fish-scales and wide skis, as there's no grooming and if there's a lot of snow it can be wild.  However, with the average storms around here being significantly more tame than what I've experience in VT, the trails at coopers can actually be skied with skinny race quality skis- with 6-10" of snow, the rocks get covered up yet there isn't so much snow that you get bogged down.  Especially after folks have got out on the trails and broken them in.  I've skied the road side trail many, many times, and down the furnace trail, and intermediate ski trail can be very...exciting...not really anything intermediate about it. Also, the road to the overlook is plowed, but not scraped.  So, if the conditions are just right, I've been able to skate ski on the road as well, which is about 3 miles long.  And if you're lucky, the road heading down to Henry Clay Furnace can be plowed as well, and can serve as a great place to get some hill work in.  Just park at the gate, and ski away!

The next place to ski is Whitegrass in the Canaan Valley of WV.  It's a full blown Nordic ski area, with over 50k of groomed trails.  It's also a pretty adventurous place, with lots of back country off-trail options.  But, you also have the options of getting in 1, 3, 5, 10+ hours of skiing without setting foot off a groomed trail.   The trails at Whitegrass are fairly narrow, so it's not great for skating, but if you have a little experience it's not bad.  I wouldn't recommend it for someone trying to perfect technique or just learning.  Unless you're willing to ski the snow farm, which is always an option.  The snow farm is a flat area in front of the small cabin that the put snow fences up and catch the blowing snow, and then use groomers to spread it out.  It's usually the only really well tracked and super hard packed area of the whole place.  If I have my race poles with the small baskets, it's the only place I can really use them to put power down.  Don't get me wrong, I use them all over the area, but they often sink through the softer groomed areas.  If you're classic skiing (traditional Nordic skiing) than this is your place.  I'd say about 30-50% of the trails are tracked, despite what they say on the website.  I've never been there when everything was tracked, although I've been there when all 50k was well groomed.  It's a little expensive at $18 to ski, but there's really no other options in the area.  Negativity aside, my wife and I always make the 2 hour pilgrimage to Whitegrass 1 time a year in the winter for a fun 3-4 hour ski day together.  Be ready for serious elevation gains and losses, as like much of WV, you're either going up, or going down.  There's no in between.  The best part of Whitegrass is the cabin which provides delicious cheap lunches and basic gear, including waxes, equipment, and waxes.  Overall, I do enjoy Whitegrass and it's worth the drive, as long as you're not expecting wide race-groomed trails.  I will probably compete in the Mountain State Marathon next week if there's snow's hoping.

A typical whitegrass trail- groomed, but not perfectly, and very hilly!

The Snowfarm, Whitegrass
Another typical trail for Whitegrass- The 3 Mile trail

The final place that I ski the most distance and time at in the winter is the Laurel Ridge State Park.  It's an easy drive north past Connelsville, PA.  Yes, it's not in WV, but it's close.  They claim to have 20 miles of trails, but I've really only skied about 10k of them, and really focus in on the really great 5.5k "red" trail.  I've skied it over, and over, and over.  It's basically the only trail you can really skate, or rather it's so much better than the others it's the only one I want to skate on.  But like I said, I've skied more K's there than any other place besides the trails in AK and my home Nordic ski area (Craftsbury, VT).  The last time I went (couple weeks ago) I skied 25k, and wanted to ski more, but had to leave for other reasons.   The red trail is almost a perfect trail, it's SO sweet- it's NEVER boring, and it's not overly crazy.  You get to climb, you get to go down hills, and there are sections of relative flat- but no long, straight, flat sections.  Lots of corners too.  But the best part is that it's always groomed EXTREMELY well.  They pack it down hard so you can use your race quality stuff, and the tracks are always solid.  At least, it's the best in the immediate area in terms of grooming- there are places I've been which were obviously better (St. Annes in Quebec for example) but given the amount of snow, and the equipment they have, they do a fantastic job.  And, it's much cheaper than Whitegrass, $8 (it went up this year, the last 3 years it was $6).  So even though they don't have the crazy terrain that Whitegrass has, it's better in my eyes because it's cheaper.  And they do have some refreshments  like pastries and cold sandwiches, and often have some kind of soup.  The downside is it can get very very crowded in the warming lodge, and people can be a little rude and pushy.  But generally it's fine, especially if you time your lunch (we've never ate there) or stops to non-peak times.  Laurel Ridge is also the site of the PA Nordic state championships (amateur of course), so if that even peaks your interest a little, why not ski the course the races are on?

The trails at Laurel Ridge are WIDE!
here are also a couple other options withing driving distance- Alpine Lake supposedly has some good classically groomed trails.  They even have the capability to put in tracks.  I've never been because I'd rather ski at Laurel Ridge since it's good and it usually has more snow.  There's also Blue Knob, which I've heard can be good, but it's 2 solid hours away.  I may also venture North to Wilderness Lodge in PA, but that is going to be a weekend trip, as it's 3.5 hour drive one way.

And if all else fails, and there's snow, the rail trail in Morgantown is also a viable option.

So get down to Pathfinder, get yourself some skis, and get out there!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Little Buddy

even with a "free" open seat, Brady preferred the ride of  my Cannondale Caffeine to that of my Subaru.... smart dog

Taking in the sights and sounds as assistant sag support on the 2011 HillyBilly Roubaix

Just in from a swim

SOOOOO tempting but just not sure of the whole igloo idea. But that kielbasi  Tater was eating was eventually enough

Jordan and Brady playing in the snow

I'll stand guard... no ones getting what in the cooler with out a fight.... or at least rubbing my belly

Maiden's Cliff, Camden, Maine...  always up for an adventure

Favorite photo of him of all time... kind of sums him up in a nut shell
Gonna miss you Brady....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Get to know the team! Post # 13 of 13 - Chris Jones

Name:  Chris Jones

Age:  40

Hometown:  Pisgah, WV

Place of Birth:  Shinnston, WV

Interesting fact that most people don't know about you: Ripped the top of my ear off in a bicycle accident once. 

If you had a snail that could magically grant wishes, what would you name it? Have one.  His name is S.D. Gonzales (Spee Dee).  see the attached picture of him escaping

What nocturnal animal would you be if you had to choose and why?  I suppose it would be nice to move so quickly through the night as a bat and not collide with anything...a nice skill to have in a night race.

2013 Cycling goals:  Improve on my 6:1 training schedule (6 recovery days : 1 race).    ABRA mountain bike championship, Cyclocross series podium.

Favorite Movie:  Lonesome Dove, Hoosiers ("Hickory, Hickory, Hickory...")

Favorite Musical Artist/Band:  Too many to list...Blues Travelers, Godsmack, Metallica, .....

How often are you late for work?  Never

Would you rather have super strength or super intelligence?  Already have one....sure, I take the other.

If you were given the opportunity to spend 48 hours with absolutely anyone (living or dead), who would you spend it with and what would you do?

Do you still watch cartoons?  Doesn't everybody?

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?  The one opposite of the one being covered by the unknown movie-goers 'spare tire' next to me.  Happened once...thought I was resting on the arm of the chair.

Missed a rider? View the entire list at our Team's Blog -