Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mohican Wilderness Race Report

After busting my ass all winter, it was time to see how things would turn out. The first OMBC race of the season at Mohican Wilderness.

The weather was less than cooperative, and the minute we pulled up to the course there was a nice torrential downpour to keep things interesting. Ran into Ross during registration, nice to see him. So after getting my neat number plate I took a quick warm up spin down the street, and before you knew it was 1pm and I was at the line.

The sport class turn out was all right for the weather conditions. Starting off the first lap I was feeling really good, legs felt strong, stomach wasn't too tumultuous, and I was staying relatively dry.

All was going well and boom I'm staring at the first big climb of the day. Since I'm on the singlespeed I had pretty much no choice but to grin and bare it, so I started mashing up the hill. Once I got into the tree line, I got a bit balled up behind some other racers, so I had to start hiking up the trail. This would be a common theme throughout the race. After a brief hike, I was back on in the saddle and climbing away.

It was interesting trying to figure out my climbing technique today, as if I stood and got my weight too forward my back wheel would pretty much uselessly spin. So I had to stay seated most of the time and put the Jones Bars to good use. Sucked.

As I got to the top of the climb, I was out in the front with one other guy, Chris (I think that was his name) from Coshocton. Then the trouble started.

I'm a pretty big propoenet of wool, so I was wearing a Swobo wool jersey and an Endura wool longsleeve over that. Worked fine on the flats and downhills, but shit it was terrible on the climbs. I was seriously overheating in the mid-section, and it got to the point where I faced two options.

a) Keel over dead from some sort of heat-induced affliction
b) Stop and take off my longsleeve

No one likes to die, so longsleeve came off. That being said, I was pretty spent after these climbs, so it wasn't as graceful as one would think. I was a big panting, sweaty mess trying to paw at my longsleeve and take it off, searching for any bit of manual dexterity left in my body,

So wardrobe malfunction aside, this is where the ride report gets boring. Stopping to take my jersey off gave me a bit of a time hit, and the guy I was following was long gone. I figured if I could keep my pace somewhat stable, focusing on gaining time in the uphills while trying not to die on the downhills I'd be all right. Here is my trying to do that. Maybe not succeeding.

I was all by my lonesome until about mid-way through my second lap. And then like an oasis in the desert, I see other people. Sweet!

Met up with a nice Camba dude whose name escapes me, and it was good to have someone to talk to and to pace. After shooting the shit with him for a while I decided I had a race to win, so I picked up the pace a little and tried to catch up with Chris, who dropped me like an hour ago. I wasn't too optimistic about that.

After suffering for a bit, what do you, I see him up the hill! Right by the men and women's split in the course. It really gave me a boost to know that I could at least see the guy again. I keep the tempo steady to catch up without burning myself out. I finally caught up with him and we started hiking up hill. Not super glorious I know, but it was nearing the end of our second lap and the course was getting unridable in spots. So after hiking up this monster uphill, I held on and hoped that I could keep up with him in the downhill that followed. I kept on his tail up to the double track logging road, and I figured if there was a time to make a move this is it. So I mustered what strength I had left, passed him and really gave all I had left on the climb out of the logging road. It was history from there. Just finished up at a consistent pace and tried to not take myself out getting to the finish line, which was maybe a half mile away.

So I ended up in first place in the senior sport class. Must have been my lucky day or perhaps a broken clock is right twice a day, right?!

Here's the aftermath, ignore my goofy ass blink. Muddy.

It was a good day for Northeast Ohio too. Rudy and Julie Sroka finished first in their respective classes (vet and women's sport), my buddy Andrew Miller won senior novice, Steve Twinning got second in expert, Ross Clark got 5th. I think. Good job to all.

I have to give a big thanks to my mom, uncle, sister, and my friends for coming out to root me on. It made my day to hear them screaming for me when I was suffering. I gave them their money's worth when I slid out in a pretty dramatic fashion right in front of them.

But yeah, good day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Double Down

Good day today. My apologies for no pictures, but I was too busy killing myself to take some snaps.

I started off going to Quail Hollow to put in some laps. The legs felt great today, 4 laps in a hair over an hour, so about 16 miles total. I face planted once pretty dramatically trying to bunnyhop over a downed tree. My first few laps it worked well, but I was so pooched that I tagged my back wheel and whammo to the face. Glad the ground was nice and soft and my face is nice and hard, as the damage was minimal.

Ran back to the house super quick to get ready for the Summit freewheeler ride down at the Botzum trailhead. I think I'm a little too scatterbrained, and as a result I have a serious problem with being on time for anything.

After getting food, airing up the tires on the Waterford, and changing shoes and socks, it was 5pm. Shit. So I hop on the Waterford and hauled ass down into the valley.

I made it as far as Akron-Peninsula and Bolanz by the ride start time of 5:45. Luckliy Andrew is a bit more prompt than me, and I gave him a call and he told me that they were headed up towards me. So after ten minutes of sitting around I met up with the Freewheelers, and we were headed up Truxell. It turns out the way they were taking me was back towards Kent, so I peeled off midway to head home. 36 miles on the roadie. Big ups to whoever was in the green SUV and honked and gave me a wave on Graham. The headwind sucked towards the end of my ride and that gave me a little boost.

So safe to say I'm spent. I'm sitting here listening to Bongripper (yes, they do have the coolest name of any doom metal band ever) pretty much being crushed by how heavy they are, half falling asleep.

Thinking about either going to Quail again tomorrow or maybe riding up to the parents' house in NR. Weather is looking pretty shit and my Cross Check is in pieces, so maybe not. I've also got some new parts coming in for the Salsa, so all of you out there in blog-land can peep them tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Break Cruisin'

My grand plan today was to wake up ass-early, ride out to Quail Hollow, put in some laps, and ride back home.

Well, spring break happened. I slept in until 2 o'clock. Whoops. I guess it's a perk of someone who just lost their job and doesn't have shit else to do.

So with day light dwindling, I figured some riding was better than none. So I suited up and decided to take the Salsa for a spin to make sure everything was in order for the OMBC race at Mohican Wilderness this weekend.

One thing I quickly realized is that a single speed mountain bike's gearing is less than optimal for riding on the roads. I was pushing 32-19 and felt like a hamster on a wheel. All that work and nothing to show for it. So after cruising speed was established on flat at a glacial 15 miles an hour. I forged ahead.

After a quick spin around the block to loosen up the old hams, I figured I should try to hit as many hills as I could find, being that Mohican Wilderness it chock full of them.

See, the problem with this thought is: Portage County is pretty much farm land. There are no hills. Here's a snap of Meloy Rd, from the top. Something's wrong when this was the biggest climb of the day for me.

After conquering that grueling climb, I pedaled on. The weather was right on the verge of being cold. My body could not make up its mind whether I was sweaty or freezing. It sucked. I'd climb a hill and start to feel myself working up a sweat, but quickly on the ascent I'd be caught with a cold breeze and feel like I was going to free to death.

Onward I cruised. Up Howe Rd, over to Meloy, North on Powdermill, where I snapped this picture of my shadowy doppleganger.

After Powdermill I swung back by Brady Lake for my daily dose of nice scenery. I need to perfect the excellent take a picture of yourself while you ride move, because man I look pissed off here.

Bikin' on by the lake I was home free. I turned in about 15 miles in little over an hour. The Salsa felt good, and I'm really excited to see how this weekend fares at Mohican Wilderness.

Tomorrow is the Summit Freewheeler's group ride. So hopefully having a group of people to ride with lights a spark under my arse to ramp up the training a bit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good Weather = Off Road

So in celebration of the great weather today, 67 degrees!!!! Andrew and I decided to go to Mohican Wilderness. Get a change of scenery and ride what some claim to be the best singletrack in Ohio.

So after stopping at a gas station to get some snacks, time warp two hours, and we're at Mohican by 1pm.

It's something else down there. It's strange to think that the geography and culture an hour fifteen from my house is quite different. I realized it would be neat to live down there for maybe a month before I got sick of nothing to do.

We quickly found a place to park, suited up, and hit the trail.

Holy shit it was hilly. Seriously. My Salsa is overgeared, and it failed to cross my mind until I hit some of these climbs. I stood no chance. The second I got home I started pricing out 32t Salsa chainrings, credit card grasped between my trembling fingers.

Here I am struggling up an old logging road, which crisscross the single track and serve as a connector to many of the sections. All I can say is that anyone planning on racing the OMBC race here is in for a treat.

Here's Andrew, reaping the benefit of gears:

So after these wild climbs come some pretty fast downhills. I really enjoyed screaming down them and railing some berms. It should be awesome to hit them race speed and hold on for dear life.

The one problem we faced on this ride was our inability to find the trail. The typical situation went a little something like this: cruising along all is well, and we'd be faced with a treacherous climb, being the naive guys we are, we would huff and puff and struggle up to the top of these climbs. When we got to the crest of the hill, we'd look around and there'd be nowhere to go. So back down the hill it took us fifteen minutes to climb. And what do you know, there's the singletrack! And it's not at the top of a HUGE HILL. So safe to say, wasn't the fast riding here today, but man it was fun. After finally getting our bearings we found out the last portion of the trail has super good flow. Here I am navigating a little step down between 2 trees.

We quickly cruised through it back to the trailhead. Along the way, Andrew's stem stripped, which cut our day short. Sucked, but so it goes...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bike Polo?!?!?!

I saw a few fliers posted up around campus the last couple of weeks about a bike polo game. I didn't know who was putting it on, so I was a bit skeptical.

That being said, I headed to check it out today. I browsed the parts bin for stuff to throw on my long-dissassembled monocog, and came up with this:


Color me wrong, it was super super fun. I guess organizing the game was some sort of class project for some Park Management majors or something. Long confusing story that I wasn't paying attention to.

We're doing weekly polo now in Kent to coincide with Professor's Pub Tuesday bike nights. So if anyone is interested in playing some polo and going to get $1 PBRs after, drop me a line. Goldsprints may happen soon. We'll see if I can figure out the logistics of it.

Riding to See the Parents

I figured mom and dad probably missed me, so I cruised up to their house from Kent. It was the first time I've taken the Waterford out this year. Super smooth!

Here's the route. 70 miles, 2100 feet of climing. Not badddd.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Nothing too much going on in the bikin' front lately. I have been going for a run when I don't have the time to ride. I think I really like it, and i've been working out muscles I didn't even know existed. I've also been really watching what I eat and dropping weight. Pretty close to my goal weight of 150 lbs.

Why no bikin' you ask?

"Well, adulthood." I would say. I'm graduating school in May and here's and abbreviated list of what I need to do by then:

1) Find a job. Know anyone looking for a video editor / motion graphics designer :-)
2) In order to find a job, I need to have my demo reel site up and running, so I've been putting a lot of work into that. Look for it soon.
3) In order to make myself more marketable, I'm learning Cinema 4d. It ain't easy.
4) After finding a job, find a place to live. My lease in Kent is up in June, and then hopefully I'll be heading back to the Cleveland area.
5) Stay strong in all my classes. I'd like to finish out my last semester on the Dean's List. For personal satisfaction and to keep my cumulative GPA high for the possibility of grad school if all else goes to shit.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jeez it's warm

I wake up this morning to my alarm going off at 8am, and a strange booming sound...

What could it be besides thunder. So after assessing the weather situation. I went back to sleep.

At the luxurious hour of 12:30PM I roll over, open up my curtians, and lo and behold, it's nice outside! I start a pot of coffee brewing and check my weather widget. 72 freakin' degrees. Wow.

So I figure some saddle time on the Salsa would be nice, so I have my two cups of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal, and I'm off.

Since pretty much all all off-road options are off limits for a while, I figured I'd hop on the closest thing to a trail. The Portage Hike and Bike : ). Beggars can't be choosers, and some spots are a little less maintained than others, so at least it's a little bumpy, right?

So I end up doing an out and back starting on the MUP that runs on Kent State Campus. Here's my Salsa in it's native environment. Click it to go big, dude:
The nice MUP, right on Kent Campus. Not too long but good for a run or a romantic walk with the lady.
And here's the Portage Hike and Bike:

The Portage Hike and Bike ends in Ravenna, and sorry to all that live there, but my humble opinion is that it's the most depressing place on earth. Here's a snap of me next to an animal rendering plant that runs next to the MUP. Not pictured is the silo that says ANIMAL FAT on it, nor the smell that was pretty harsh to my weak vegan stomach. Poor animals :-(

So after a bit of an out and back, I realized that the Kent MUP is done! I don't know if anyone reads this from the greater Kent area, but man it's nice. Super smooth and realllly really wide. You can hop on it immediately south of the Crain Street bridge. Parking is available at the old diner on the corner of Crain and 43.

So all-in all not a bad day, all things considered. I'm absolutely thrilled for spring and summer to be here.

•18.8 miles
•1:28 saddle time

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ride and Smile

The Salsa is done!


So as a result of finishing it up I'm broke.

Here are some future changes / additions / tweaks.

In the for sure category:
• Higher volume tires. Either Maxxis Ignitors or Schwable Racing Ralphs. Mayyyyybe Stans tubeless.
• Longer Stem, hopefully a Thomson

In the maybe some day in the future / pissing away my tax return / financial irresponsibility category
• On One Mary bars or Groovy Cycles Luv Handles. I'd really like to get the Groovy's as it's a local company and Rody seems like a cool dude, but a wait to get a set and the substantially higher price is discouraging.
• A new rear wheel, probably a DT Swiss 240 disc hub laced to a Mavic TM719d.
• Last but not least, who doesn't love a Thomson post.

None the less, I'm pumped to ride this thing. First race is the OMBC Mohican Wilderness at the end of this month.