Monday, June 30, 2014

Honey Badger Don't Care

When I saw that Kenda was releasing a tire called the Honey Badger, I just had to try them. The Honey Badger popularity grew with the viral video a few years ago. If you hadn't seen it here is the link. As it says in the video, the honey badger don't care. That seems to be case with these tires, they just don't care.
I've been riding the kenda honey badger 29 x 2.2 (the all mountain version, just a bit heavier than the narrower xc version.) for about a month now, and finally my first race on them at Tomlinson run this past weekend. I set these up tubeless on a set of RXL rims, the Badgers set up easy with a quick burst of air and some sealant and was ready to go. 
Photo from Mike Briggs
Within the first ride i realized that these tires like to be aggressive, they will reward the rider who will be push them, or they will save the newbie who takes a turn too fast. Now I'm not a terribly great mountain biker, so ill deal with extra weight, to have a sure ride and traction, with short center knobs and aggressive cornering knobs make these a fast tire. With coming from the  Kenda Nevegal all last year, i would be getting used to having a lighter & faster tire, but with sacrifice of so much traction that the Nevegals offered.  During my first ride on these tires, which was at north park, with a mixture of conditions (roots, rocks, dusty, tacky, and 1 slog of peanut butter like mud). I learned that the more you lean into a turn the more these tires will grip.  i learned this the hard way after taking a turn to quick and just having to lean more than I'm used to but as i did i could feel the honey badgers just digging in and letting me carve through the turn. this first hand experience left me with a lot of confidence with the traction in turns. so i was pushing it a bit more than i normally would, i could feel in the tires slip in a dusty turn but it immediately dug in and found grip

Photo thanks to Mike Briggs
My first race on the honey badgers was at Tomlinson Run State Park for the WV state championship. This race is known for its climbs with about 3 climbs about 1 miles each over a 7 mile course, and several steep sections, and also for it's fun descents. With heavy rains the night before, it meant was going to be mix of slick and tacky trails. My goal was to treat it more a cyclocross race, since within 300-400 meters from the start on the road, to the entrance of the trail, so it would be a pile-up and get clogged with people trying to get into the trail. With the short center knobs these tires they spun up and rolled quick, as i settled into a rhythm in 6th place entering the trail behind the guys i knew i would be pushing the pace up the first climb. i knew not to chase to hard and blow myself up early because that would lead to a very long day. On the first climb the Honey badgers climbed up and over the slick roots with no problems. On one of the steeper sections there was a straight of peanut-butter mud in a easy gear, with a quick light cadence i could feel the tires just spinning and digging in to find grip. With only losing 5 minutes from my first to my second lap, mostly from a deteriorating me and a bit more deteriorated trail( but mostly me when my legs would lock up while trying to get over the gear on steep grades. need to get out for more longer rides), i  still managed to finish 10th out of 25+ sport riders.

Even the tire says they Don't Care
(actually the DC is for Kenda's awesome Dual tread Compound)
The Honey Badger tires proved to live up to there name, they just don't care and try to find traction where ever you ride. I just keep hoping that Kenda releases the Honey Badger in a narrower cyclocross version, they would be a great dry and all condition tire.

The “Not So Ordinary” Life of a Bike Racer

"So you want to be a bike racer little Johnny................."

So, the month of June for me was pretty tame in regards to racing.  In the beginning of the month, the team raced the McKeesport Grand Prix and placed (3) riders in the top 10!!!  After that, a few brave DPT souls did the Hilly Billy Roubaix and all kicked some serious ass…… 
Hunting For KOM's

For me, I have been doing more training racing, long rides, and soul searching more than anything.  Being the super domestique for Devin as we went out this past weekend and he crushed some Strava KOM’s near his house in McKeesport.  (Just so the other bike racers in that hood have something to occupy their time in July by trying to beat him and take the KOM). 
It’s nice to stop and smell the roses every once and awhile and enjoy the things in life that are really important, aka family and friends.  I had been on the go so much at the beginning of the month with work, training, and racing, that the break I have been enjoying and the one I will have coming up in July will be just enough to let me re-charge my batteries and head into the finishing stretch of the season revitalized.  I’m actually going to take my first vacation in over 2 years this September to go and visit a friend that I have known since we were kids, even if it’s only to Florida…..Damn time fly’s………
As always, a huge THANK YOU to the awesome team sponsors for 2014:
Dynamic Physical Therapy
Pathfinder of WV
Morgantown Brewing Company
Sketches by Anne
Apothecary Ale House & Cafe
Performance Coaching Services
Kenda Tires
Cannondale Bicycles
ProGold Lubricants
Red Rose Imports
Nalini Custom

Behind the scenes and a and a heart felt thank you!

It seems that every week my inbox is inundated with emails seeking people to help volunteer with races. I do my best about forwarding those emails to my friends who live in the area where we will be racing, or I tag them in JR's cute little Facebook photos where he is begging for some help, or I shoot a text out to a friend or two who might be able to help out. But this past weekend, I took a much different approach to helping him out. I met him Friday night in Tomlinson Run State Park to camp and help him with trail cleanup on Saturday. He had already been there since Tuesday night and he had put over 20 hours in in the previous 3 days by himself.

So I arrived late in the evening just in time to see him headed out for dinner and he pointed me in the direction of his campsite.  I found another site just around the corner from him and set up my tent, then headed over to his site to relax and wait on him. I had a pretty busy week at work, including a stressful wait on the announcement of who was getting the promotion to Location Manager for our Wall terminal (which I was ultimately rewarded with) and it was nice just to sit there in the dark and listen to all the sounds that nature had to share.  Even the kids playing a few sites down the road was enjoyable to my ears. JR finally showed up and we spend the next few hours BSing around the fire until we headed off to our tents.

630 the next morning I was up and I was hungry. Knowing JR was not a morning person, I headed off in search of breakfast. The breakfast trailer hadn't opened up in the campground yet because the park had
been without power since March and it had only recently been turned back on. I need a few provisions from Walmart, so I made a 15 minute drive to Calcutta, OH and bought what I needed as well as some hot breakfast sandwiches. When I returned to camp around 830, JR was already preparing for the trail, so I gave him the coffee I had bought for him and we set off down the road to put things in shape. I was to set poles and tape off the course at the top Poe Trail and direct them through the campground's outdoor "restaurant" area and back over to the other side of Poe Trail for the fun descent. Since the trailer wasn't open yet, we could set this up and we had time to build a short piece of trail through the woods rather than down the driveway. While I did that, JR started his 8 hour day of weedeating as he set off down the Poe Trail descent. He had left a long stretch of the Bigfoot Trail
untouched (and extremely overgrown) so that was the next project to tackle. He continued to weed eat while I walked the trail ahead of him marking the course with arrows and removing unnecessary/unwanted obstacles, including two stumps that were right in the middle of the path. The first of which came out without any problems. However the second stump was a different story. I had carried a 5 pound mattock for the purpose of digging a 6" stump that had literally been left smack dab in the middle of the trail years ago. I dug out around the base of it to access the roots and set to work choping them with the axelike side of it. After about 10 good whacks, as I sent the mattock home on the 11th, I felt the handle give, the head break free, and then the handle slapped me in the shin. I carried that mattock for 45 minutes only to have it fail after 30 seconds of work. Ugh. I picked up the pieces, and headed back down the trail. I filled JR in with the details and continued on to the truck. I drove around the the far end of Bigfoot and started back in to finish my job, this time equipped with a 15# chainsaw. This time I won!

Around 3 PM, we finally finished the trail around the lake and headed for Maple Trail. A couple of locals had started weed eating the trail but had to cut things short because one of them scratched their cornea and headed for the local express care. Again, I hung arrows and JR ran the weed eater.  (I would have offered to take over that tedious job, but knowing JR's OCD, I knew I would just be wasting my breath). When I finished ahead of him, I went ahead and marked the road with arrows and headed up Beech Trail with the pruners and arrow to mark. Finally, around 6 PM, JR called it quits and we headed back to camp to head out on an easy spin around the course. We caught Mike Janeiro finishing up his test run of the loop, and he agreed to go ride with us on our loop. 

The first couple miles were fast and fun. Then we hit the climb on Maple and it started hurting. By the time I started the climb up Beech, I could feel the walls closing in on me and started sensing, for lack of a better
Medium Deluxe Pizza from local restaurant Roma's on Rt 8.
Just a short drive from the park entrance and worth the trip.
description, what I call Color Bugs. (When I am suffering, my vision starts to blur and I get the sensation that there are all these colorful little flies, like a gnat, that fly around in my peripheral vision. It distracts me because continuously turn my head to follow them, but they just move further out of my line of sight.) It was somewhere along this time as I was pushing my bike up the smallest grade that I hadn't eaten since 730 and was going to bonk on a 7 mile ride. I had failed to grab any food (it was only going to be 7 miles) and I only had water which didn't really help but provide me with something to instantly sweat right back out in the 84 degree muggy heat. I bailed on the last climb (up Poe Trail) and instead opted for the paved road up to the campground. I almost blacked out in the shower and was still suffering from the color bugs as we headed off to dinner. When my pizza was placed in front of me, I didn't know whether I should finally cry or smile, so I just preceded to eat like I hadn't eaten before. I ate the entire thing in a few short minutes then sat around the campfire where I ended up eating a tube of Pringles, a half a package of sugar cookies, 2 packs of peanut butter crackers, 2 donuts, and 4 quarts of Gatorade. Finally, as I went to bed, I started to get my energy back.

I share this story, not because I want to toot my own horn, but rather to sing the praises of JR Petsko.  I have never met a person who was more willing to give up their own time and spend their own money to make our local mountain biking trails what they are. And YES, I recognize that he also scratches out his
living from promoting race events, but those of us who have tried to keep up with him when he is doing trail maintenance knows he puts far more time and effort into our local trails than he could ever expect to make from promoting the races. I know how hard I worked helping him on Saturday and I don't even want to begin to think about how tired and sore he must have been after 5 days of hard labor. And I know that not everyone who rides a mountain bike, also races, but anyone who has ever had the pleasure of riding the trails in the weeks following one of JR's events knows what I am talking about when I say he is probably the single best thing to happen to our sport in this area in a long time. So the next time you get an email from him begging for your help, don't just automatically send it to the deleted file because you plan on riding
somewhere else that day. Whether you're a mountain biker who thinks roadies are stuck up snobs or roadie who thinks mountain bikers are a bunch of thrill seeking yahoos, PLEASE consider helping out as a volunteer for events that you cant or wont participate, or bring your significant other to act as a volunteer on your behalf. If we each do this for one race a year, "our" local
race scene will continue for many years to come. But if we all expect someone else to step up instead, we will eventually be faced with cancelled races because while JR is a man of many talents, he cant be at every corner and we need someone there to look out for OUR SAFETY as we are racing on public roads.  God forbid, but if he ever has to quit promoting races in lieu of a "real" job, we are all going to suffer.  I've said it for years... I'd rather spend 3 hours helping him set up or clean up after a local race than to have to drive 7 hours round trip to a MABRA race... I still gain 4 hours and 30 gallons of fuel that I would have lost traveling to another race.

JR.. from the bottom of my heart I thank you for all that you have done for me, my friends, and the cycling community as a whole. Your generosity of your time and your resources is appreciated and I want you to know that my life, and the lives of so many other local cyclists, is better because of what you do.  PLEASE, don't hesitate to ask for help from me or turn me away when I can repay the favor.  We are all indebted to you and to Gina for allowing you the freedom to pursue such a financially unrewarding career. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And of course, Thank You!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tour of Lawrence 2014

Photo Credit: Fred Jordan
On June 26th I drove to Kansas to race Tour of Lawrence.  After little sleep the night before my drive was fueled by brownies provided by Willem de Boer (to say thank you for me letting him use my kit at the Hilly Billy, since he forgot his).  I think my kit fit him well (see picture --->).  But anyway, back on topic of Tour of Lawrence, Friday night started with the Sunflower Outdoor & Bike STREET SPRINTS.  The race is decided in different heats off the 200m course, the first heat 4 start 2 move on. I won this heat by a few bike lengths.  The second heat the winner sprints for places 1-5 in the final heat and the loser sprints for places 6-10 in the final heat. I won this heat by even more than the first heat.  So far I was really surprised by how well I was doing because I am not a sprinter anymore.  But I was reminded of that in the last heat when I had to sprint against some very fast women (including a pro), so I got 5th.

Only picture taken of the Women's Pro/1/2/3 Circuit Race
due to rain. Photo Credit: Lanterne Rouge
Saturday was the Meadowbrook Apartments KU Campus CIRCUIT RACE.  The Women's Pro/1/2/3 race was scheduled to be 8 laps of the 2.25 mile course.  At the start of the race the announcer said "in case of inclement weather we will announce a shortened or neutralized race from here" then there was a loud clap of thunder followed by all of the women letting a little air out of their tires. The course was shortened (distance and climbing) from previous years but it was still really fun...until it started pouring the winding downhill and all the turns became very sketchy and led to a lot of fish tailing and slow corners.  Then there was a strike of lightening, as we finished lap 3 they rang the bell at us signalling 1 to go.  At this point there were two women off the front, a group of 9 of us following, and all others dropped off the back because of the wet turns.  I finished 9th overall and the 5th cat 3 (they had a bonus prize list for the cat 3's in the race).

Sunday was the Free State Brewery DOWNTOWN CRITERIUM.  The Women's Pro/1/2/3 race started with a hero prime lap ("You've got to take your hero lap on the first lap, otherwise the announcer doesn't call you name," Christian Beattie 1973-2013) in honor of Christian Beattie who died from cancer last year.  So the race started out very fast, then continued fluctuating between fast and slow because of so many attacks by many different women.  All of these attacks were caught except for when Katie Kelter with GP Velotek attacked with 5 laps to go.  Even with many hard attempts to bridge and the pace of the entire pack 
picking up no one was able to catch her but women started dropping off the back of the pack.  I finished 9th overall and 3rd cat 3 (another bonus prize list for the cat 3's in the race).

Photo Credit: Lanterne Rouge

Photo Credit: Lanterne Rouge

Photo Credit: Lanterne Rouge

USA Cycling Talent I.D. Camp

This week, June 23-28, I am participating in the USA Cycling Talent ID Camp in McHenry, Maryland. I will be keeping a daily blog of my experience at the camp, as they happen; this is that blog. Unfortunately, I was so occupied with all the fun I was having that I forgot to take a lot of pictures, however, I do have a couple. 

Monday: Its about 2:30 in the afternoon and I just arrived at camp. I am helping unload our nutritionist's truck now, there is so much food!.. I sign in, get my binder and jersey, and go to my room to investigate... I am the only one in my room right now, but I have a roommate that will be here soon. I go downstairs to say goodbye to my dad, and begin my week of camp alone... I just now met my roommate, Trevor. Trevor has very similar eating habits to me so I know I'm not the only one that will struggle with the extremely healthy meals that will be served thoughout the next 5 days... We are about to eat dinner now, then we have an educational experience in the building across the parking lot... We just finished the educational experience, which was pretty much learning about the importance of eating and training smartly throughout our lives to stay healthy. It's time for bed! 

Tuesday: We just woke up at 6am, TOO EARLY!! Now we are off to yoga... Yoga was much harder then I expected, probably because it wasn't even 8:00am. I'm at breakfast now, we have skill practice in about a half hour... Skill practice is now over; we worked on track-stands, multiple types/ways of turning, and different balance skills; now we are getting changed and getting lunch, then we are off on our first trail ride...  Well, it rained and our ride was cut short so now we are headed back for some dinner, and then another educational experience: this time about the specifics of nutrition and training. Once again, it is now time for bed. 

Wednesday: Another early morning. This time I'm going to the local grocery store to learn how to buy efficiently and healthily. I also plan on buying some snacks... I bought zebra cakes and powdered doughnuts, YUM! Now we are headed back to the dorms to eat breakfast and get ready for today's ride, which is in Davis. Today is different from yesterday because we will be doing 2 trail rides with lunch in between, instead of skills and then trails. I'm happy about this cause I want to ride more... Our first ride at Davis ended up being about an hour and a half longer than it was supposed to be. Now we have lunch and a talk from Jeremiah Bishop about staying drug free in cycling... He told us about the different the different procedures that he has to go through, such as updating his locations so that USADA knows where he is, and also about how strongly he feels that doping is wrong. It was pretty much the standard anti-drug talk anyone would expect. It's time for our second ride of the day. I'm going on the hill group; I need to work on hills... We got a little lost on our second ride, but that's ok! I needed the extra hills anyway!.. We are back at the dorms, and we are eating soon, then we have an over-the-web discussion with somebody from USADA the importance of not doping... It was pretty much just learning about what is and is not legal, and how to check if a supplement or medicine you take is legal or not... My favorite time of the day is here once again. Sleep. 
Junk food diet for the week

Thursday: Crap, I have plyometrics today. Too tired to even function... Well, that's over with! Nap time!... That nap didn't even exist. But my roommate got me the Cheez-Its I asked him for. Yay for more junk food! Breakfast now, then to the bike shop for some new brake pads, then more skill games!.. That was a lot of games! We have an uphill time trial later today, so I'm stocking up on noodles for lunch, then taking a 1 hour nap... That nap was awesome!! I feel sweet! Ready to ride, let's go... They put a stages crank on my bike... Finished my TT. Learned 2 things: 1) Stages sucks 2) so do road time trials on a mountain bike. But it's over with and now we are getting on the trails... A girl cut her knee pretty bad and needs to get stitches, so our ride was cut short again, but that's ok... Headed back to the dorms now. Tonight Matt Tinkey is talking... The talk was about bike fit and the benefits of cross training/stretching. I'm tired and I have another early morning. Goodnight blog. 

Trevor was very excited about nap time
Friday: It's the last early morning. We have a morning workout, yet again, and I'm feeling pretty horrible from getting up at 6:00 every morning... I see jump ropes on the floor, oh gosh... The workout wasn't too bad, just a lot of jump-roping and some core work. Now I eat breakfast and get ready to go to Big Bear for our last day of riding... Well, the last ride was pretty rough, and included quite a bit of hiking actually... After the ride and lots and lots of food, Trevor and I have just decided to go tanning in our kits... Tan lines are looking epic... We just got to the beach for a bit of swimming and there is a sweet rock to jump off of. Although we have been given very clear instructions to stay away from it, Trevor and I cannot help ourselves... Sweet... Uh oh, here comes Kristen, and she is not happy. Oh well, it was worth it!.. We are in the car headed back to our dorms and about half of the car is asleep, and the other half is dead silent... We are back home and have a few hours before dinner, so I'm going to take a nap!.. What a nap! Now I'm gonna go clean my bike was some super sweet ProGold products and get it nice and squeaky clean!.. My bike is shiny and the pizza has arrived, let's eat!!.. What do you know, you go upstairs for a shower, and miss some kid drinking a bottle of hot sauce, which I later saw all over the ground! Should I post a pic???... Now we are off to play some shoe-less soccer... Soccer was sweet! Speaking of sweet! ICECREAM!!... It's 9:30 now and people are supposed to be in their own rooms, but instead, Tommy is locked in Josh's bathroom, his mattress and everything is in Lucas's room, and everybody ganged up on Trevor and made him look like a tranny(with face makeup of course)... Since it's almost 10:00 and everybody was supposed to be in their rooms 30 minutes ago, Kristen is not too happy about what is going on. It has been a rough day, I'm rather tired and it's 10:30, so I'm going to bed.

Such Classy Icecream
Trevor the Tranny (not actually)
Saturday: There was an optional workout this morning and I skipped it, as you might have guessed. So I just got up at, it's 7:15. Still too early.  It's a simple breakfast this morning, then I have to finish all my packing and clean up the room... Well, that's all done. Now we are just sitting here and reminiscing about the week... We got bored so we went to play more soccer. I played goalie this time and I wrecked, we won 11-5!.. My dad is here now. It's time to pack up the car, say goodbye to my friends and head home. It's been real.

The Crew

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Whats in the word EPIC

One of the most commonly used and likely overused words in a cyclist’s vocabulary is the word “EPIC”.  It seems that on every day, one of my cycling friends shares a story on Facebook about their most recent ride and how “epic” it was.  According to Merriam Webster, epic means a) extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope; and b) heroic.  Is it truly conceivable that there are so many “heroic” rides happening? Take the recent HillyBilly Roubaix… 72 miles of Monongalia (WV) and Greene (PA) Conuty’s gnarliest and nastiest country, gravel, and dirt “roads”. At one point I had 7 consecutive posts from friends that were all touting the HBR as an epic adventure. Really? I don’t think that’s possible.  If I look at the elevation profile of of the course, its hard not see the similarities it shares with the jaw/teeth of an ornery old alligator.
Ouch... even without the power of a 12' gator behind it, this jagged profile hurts BAD!

But then I started thinking… rides can become epic for a number of reasons.  First of all, you have those rides that are epic because of how well the rider finished. Winning your category and getting to hold a five pound chunk of West Virginia’s greatest assests while standing on half of a dilapidated wooden barrel, would have to be a highlight of most racers careers and therefore be considered an epic day.  
Once again the Rodostas show how its done, taking home the top step honors at the HillyBilly Roubaix

Then there are those that have epic days because their ride is accentuated with numerous mechanical failures like flat tires and broken chains, epic rides no doubt. For example, my friend Ken Mowry of E2C2 had 4 flats and was observed bumming spare tubes and CO2 cartridges at the first aide station since he had already depleted his supply. And I’m also told that my former teammate, Jonathan Suite, broke his chain 4 times but still managed to collect enough quick links along the way to keep his rig running. 
Notice Ken's pocket is already bulging from one of his destroyed tubes after flatting on John Fox rd, just 4 miles into the race.

And when you really get down to it, the HBR is epic for people who aren’t even racing. One volunteer missed the corner they were supposed to working, and made the mistake of thinking that all roads are built the same.  She found out the hard way that the Legend of Little Indian Creek Extension lives on and may have even grown in stature after these two pictures of her poor car were shared. 
But as a side note, she got the car pulled out with minimal damage and she still managed to keep her wits together enough to go on to pass her state board examination later that day… congratulations for surviving your own epic day. 
Typically, two wheel action should refer to bicycles, not the number of tires that get lifted off the ground when a car slides down a muddy road into a crater.
As one racer put it... "Thanks JR for taking the time to fill the biggest holes to make it safer for those racing the bikes"  And apparently this was not the only vehicle to get stuck on LICE as someone else made the mistake of trying to preview the course the night before.
 And finally, there are those rides that end up being epic for no fault or effort of your own.I had the pleasure of riding Coed Duo with Nikki Berrian (Read her account of her HBR experience here).  This is the 3rd time we have teamed up for some hairbrained adventure and I have enjoyed every single one of them. But this was different because 72 miles is further than either one of us has ridden this season. She was riding a bike she borrowed  because she didn’t trust the brakes on her CX bike and I had to ride my MTB because I haven’t gotten around to replacing my Cannondale CAADX, which was totaled back in March.  Up until 2 months ago, I had planned on driving sag, but Nikki got into the sangria and drunk texted me her brilliant idea to race the coed duo with me.  And against everything I have ever sworn since I completed the HBR in 2012, I proceeded to sign us up.  And as we started, we lined up in the back of the field with a smile on our face and rolled out for what we hoped would be a fun day.
Its another fine mess you've gotten us into, Olie.

 I wasn’t sure I had it in me to complete all 72 miles and I admitted to Bee that as we left the Second Aide Station, we had already made it further than I expected.  I think this hurt her feelings as she took it as me doubting her, but it was as much as me doubting my own ability as anything… and that’s when our ride became epic.  At one particular random intersection, we could see the personal belongings of a course marshall sitting on the side of the gravel road.  And as we got down to it, there was no sign of them anywhere. I joked that they must have been abducted by aliens.  In the words of my fellow Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team member, EJ Hubstenberger… “AND THEN..” and then we saw them.  They were having their own epic day out in the middle of some farmer’s field. They were obviously unaware of our presence and were caught up in their own little moment.  I knew that no one was going to believe me when we got back so I just had to take the picture for proof. 

On the one hand I am sorry that I accidentally left a “filter” turned on when I took the picture, on the other hand, the filter protects the identity of the parties involved.  I don’t know them personally but am friends with some of their friends, and I know there was a lot of ribbing for them on the ride home. They probably had the ultimate in epic rides, but because of the story that Nikki and I rode away from the HBR with, it made our ride an awesome ride an epic ride for us as well.

So in reflection on the past weekend of racing, I realized that epic exists on multiple levels. People experience epic rides for a variety of reasons. Some rides are epic because they do well and they get to shower their competitors with cheap sparkling wine. Some rides are epic because they do poorly or have have to overcome seemingly impossible odds to finish. Others have epic days because of how they overcome obstacles and challenges and come out on top and achieve their own personal goals. And then some rides are epic because of the sights they see and the stories you live to talk about.  In short, the word epic is synonymous with the HillyBilly Roubaix.  Heres to your next HillicBillic ride.

And here are just a few of my favorite pictures from the rest of the Hilly Billy Roubaix... thought you might enjoy them as well:
Friday Night's Ominous skies... and the weather didn't disappoint

It was a completely stupid way to break in a brand new pair of socks, but I was overdue for laundry day and I wouldn't dare take on such an adventure without a pair of Swiftwick Pursuits on my piggies.
Speaking of piggies... you can see me in the light blue kit on the right thrid of the background

Pre Race Wrenching Courtesy of Mackdiddle
That Final moment when the race is over and the Mason Jar beer mug is finally earned

Sunday, June 22, 2014

When in doubt have some sangria...

                About a month ago I went out to Happy Hour with a good friend, Greg Flood.  Happy hour is always dangerous especially when there’s sangria involved.  I came home and got this crazy idea “I’m doing the Hilly Billy duo.”  Of course, the only person I could think of to sucker into this event was my partner for the 2 mountain bike races I did earlier this year…and he was probably one of the few people that wouldn’t leave me stranded on the course while I was walking up some of those hills… Jeff. 

                I knew I was going to have to find a bike with the biggest cassette possible because EVERYONE knows that I am not a climber.  Thankfully, I have awesome friends who let me borrow their gear.  So yesterday off I went with Stephanie Lamb’s wheels and Christine Lovejoy’s bike.  Carl swapped out the cassettes the day before so I could ride a 32.  Huge thanks to them for helping make this latest adventure possible!

                At the start line my HR was 130!  I think I was a little nervous.  I refused to look at the course prior to actually experiencing it or preride it when JR offered.  I figured it couldn’t be worse than it was in my mind.  I was spot on with the ridiculous hills, but I was not expecting the pools of water on Little Indian Creek.  They just made a perfect cool off spot as Jeff and I each fell into them.  Nothing wrong with getting a little muddy!!  The day was filled with a bunch of things I did not expect though… helping 2 people’s vehicles out of ditches, overturned car causing the road to close after aide station 1, and seeing people having a little too much fun in a field.


 I never doubted that I’d be able to finish.   After the first two hills though I was thinking “man this is going to be a long day if I’m going this slow on these hills”.  Jeff was nice enough to point out that I was still in my big ring!  I started going a little faster after that.

                It may have taken us 7+ hours riding time to finish and my Garmin may have autopaused on some of the hills because I was going so slow, but that was the best kind of pain!  It was a day filled with multiple laughs, awesome friends, crazy hills, bikes, and beer… I can’t think of a better combo or way to spend the first day of summer!   


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back In The Saddle

I’m back

I’m back in the saddle again

Well, I am definitely not fully recovered, but I did get a chance to hit some single track to see how the fractured ribs and shoulder would feel.  Before I get into the ride itself I should first tell you about the ride location.  I decided to do my first “test the ribs” ride at the only mountain bike single track course in North West Ohio that I am aware of.  It is at Jermain Park in Toledo, OH and it was created by Toledo Free Ride.  Now anyone who has ever been to NW Ohio knows that it is pancake flat and this is the main reason I decided to ride here.  The Toledo Free Ride mountain bike park offers two loops that when combined together make up about 6 miles with only about 200 feet gain.  It is considered more of a beginners’ course and is not very technical.  Just watch out for the little tree stumps because they can get you if you are not paying attention.  They got me twice! 

For this first ride back my steed of choice to saddle up was my 1995 steel framed rigid  converted 1x.  The bike is a beast!  It has been abused beyond imagination and still will not break.  It is definitely a trust worthy ol’ faithful.  Anytime I am going out for a training ride on gravel roads or non-technical, flat single track I always grab this bike. 
Starting out on this ride I was nervous and really didn’t know what to expect from my body.  It still hurts to sneeze, laugh, and cough so hitting some single track could be painful.  On my first lap I hit all the log piles and some of the small jumps.  I quickly found out that my ribs and shoulder didn’t approve of this so for the remainder of the ride I skipped them.  Once I settled down and decided to spin easy while mostly remaining on the saddle I really didn’t feel too bad or have much pain at all.  And it felt so good to get back at it again. 
This park also offers a pump track and a lot of big jumps in a centralized section beside the trail head that is not part of the single track cross country course.  I knew better than to hit the jumps, but I couldn’t pass up the pump track.  Now obviously you can’t stay in the saddle on a pump track so I did a slow, old mans’ version of pump track riding.  I basically rolled as slow as possible without falling over, but yet just fast enough to make it over the humps. 
All-in-all I had a good time riding at the Toledo Free Ride mountain bike park.  Besides the single track the park has a lot to offer.  Many playgrounds and picnic areas.  A golf course, paved bike trail along the outskirts of the entire park, jumps, a pump track, and a river running through the park that many people fish.  Plus, you see lots of deer while riding which also makes riding this park interesting.  I believe the family is planning to spend the Independence Day holiday weekend at the lake so I will most likely hit this park up again.  Hopefully I can talk some of my Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling powered by Pathfinder teammates into joining me.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Greater Good

I've never really had the chance to work for someone in a bike race before.  I thought that this transition would be very difficult for me.  But, as I do more and more, it has become easier for me to instinctively play a role as a team mate and no longer a selfish individual.  I guess this comes from my years of playing hockey when "the name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back."

As most everyone knows, my road season starts in February with collegiate cycling.  This collegiate season was one of will power.  And I think it was because of the sense that I was racing for my school and had team pride.  It wasn't that I raced well, it was that I raced.  I was able to get points for my team (just needed to place top 20) most of the times by finishing races others would not.  The result was helping WVU make nationals as a team for the first time since, we speculate, Rob Acciavatti, won a national championship.

I was somewhat saddened by what had come to an end, but eager for what was coming up, especially with another college rider joining me.  I got a few chances to help out for the "greater good" of DPT at the training race and the Clarksburg Grand Prix when we went winning 2 for 2.  However a race packed May, makes the legs and mind tired and it was time for some much needed R&R, and the hopes of learning how to ride as a domestique.  The sense of team pride can carry over to the summer season and my tired body can be fueled by will power once again.  I look forward to this every race now because I can know my efforts were not just for me but for a greater good.
      Leaving it all on the table at Clarksburg

I've always been so used to going from team mates that hang out all weekend from February all through April, to showing up to races by myself from May on, and my friends from college either not there or riding for someone else.  But then something amazing happened this year.  I realized there are amazing people on this team that I can hang out with and have my sense of humor still and I actually like!!  And the kicker: I get to race with them too!

 Having fun at team dinner

Having fun at staging.