Had planned to drive to the gravel and begin there, but once I got outside and organized decided to ride from home. There was fresh snow on the road which hadn't been plowed and the going was a bit slippery, but left the neighborhood at a good clip. Cut through the back way and out to 48th. 23 minutes after leaving my door I was at the doorway to all of the gravel that is SW of Rochester and beyond. Literally flew the first few miles, relishing the fact that the packed snow/gravel of the road actually felt faster under the Nokians than the snow crusted pavement had. Around 4 miles out I realized I was going much faster than I should have been able to... the 38x18 gearing of the Monocog didn't seem to be enough? At mile 7 I reached the airport and another stretch of pavement, skirting the airfield itself. As soon as I turned to the right the wind hit me... Two minutes later my beard was frozen solid, my chest was frozen to my long underwear and my ears were freezing. This was going to be like sailing. Two hrs later I was still "tacking" back and forth across the hills trying to get my miles without ever feeling the full brunt of the wind for too long when I crossed the Almanzo course to the North. I decided to try crXX or whatever it was prior to looping back to the course and heading home. Two miles of gravel later (complete with normal road signs) I turned a corner and found myself in someones front yard with no discernable road continuing elsewhere. Additionally, the owner himself was bearing down on me with a tractor.
I will come back to this and post my recent training (for my own purposes) later.
What can I say? Got excited about having a 26" xc bike again, of course that meant going all-in. Had my friend Eric weld a rear disc tab onto the bike and remove all the unwanted braze-ons etc. etc.. I was a bit nervous initially when I let him take the frame, but things absolutely couldn't hav turned out any better. Excellent quality of work and attention to detail too. Then I spent some time of my own creating a cool custom finish for the aluminum crankarms, brake levers and bashguard. Lastly, I sold some stuff I didn't need and financed some tasty new Ritchey parts, a race quality disc wheelset and a titanium velo saddle. Things were coming together fast... Then, as the clearcoat was drying I got a call from an old friend. I hadn't heard from Lin in a couple of years, and the serendipity of randomly hearing from a custom airbrush artist on that evening was just too much to ignore. Expect big things- I'll save the pictures for later.
I've also made a few other equipment changes here recently on the other bikes- continuing to lighten things up and sell what I no longer need. The salsa got some new Easton Monkeylite sl bars among other little upgrades. The Jamis got a 70mm raceface stem and a kmc chain. The Monocog got some real SS cogs and a new chain as well. I also picked up 4 Yakima racks for the Tahoe, so we're up to being able to carry 8 bikes when necessary. It should be helpful as it will make it easier to carpool and hopefully save some gas next summer.
Went and rode there once again last Thursday and just feel that I have to mention how freaking awesome that trail system is. The main loop there is the best in the midwest that I have yet been to and by a wide margin. Nothing in the Cable or Duluth area even comes close to the absolute quality of trail. HPT is full of little technical spots and tricks and legitimate climbs in a way that is mostly unmatched in this part of the world. If you haven't been, go!
Huge thanks to Chris for putting on the cx race today. I'm glad I didn't make the trip over to the "real" race in Northfield. The course was top-notch and it was a perfect laid-back atmosphere. Almost a full hr of "all out" was a great workout too (especially at this point in my week). Where else could I have sat down after a big effort and been handed a Hamms and a railroad tie? It was also nice to meet a few more local people. I will be in for the next local race on the 28th.
26" cross country resurrection!
After all my recent breakages I was down to basically zero working mountain bikes during the early part of the week this week. Decided to take the Marin off the trainer and take it out for a spin. I'm hooked! Quickly convinced myself that I needed to build it up with some race-ready parts and that the 26" ss hardtail certainly has a place in my 'arsenal' of regularly used bikes. I don't remember ever having so much fun riding it. I think all this riding this year has really improved my skills and am glad to see that they transfer back down from the 29er.
I will be building it up with some lighter/modern wheels, a slightly newer manitou air fork, disc brakes and single speed (of course).
You may be saying- why not rigid? What kind of a wanker builds up such a 'hardcore rig' as a mid 90s steel hardtail for xc racing 15 years later and puts a suspension fork on it? Well- I'm not trying to build an excuse. I want a build that I can choose to race on and that I can feel comfortable on. If you think your more hardcore than me- so be it. If you use your bike as an excuse- "well I was on the SS", "I was fully rigid for that race", "I was on the 26" rigid", etc. etc. then I have no patience for you. It's even worse if you are a racer making those kinds of excuses. If you are going to spend the money to travel to MNSCS races and then rock a bike that you think is an excuse rather than fast something isn't quite adding up. So that's why I won't be rigid with the 26". I WILL, or course, continue to race the 29er rigid where applicable.
I will post pictures as soon as anything actually happens with this new build.
What is up with the Mercedes "AMG" SLS? As an AMG owner I am embarassed that they have stooped to bastardizing the legend that is the 300sl. Beyond that, they are about 5 years late into the retro styling game. I don't even care about the performance numbers of the car (which is roughly fast as mine if I had decent traction from launch or if we raced on the freeway and costs about exactly 10x what I've spent). What a bunch of sellouts.
What is up with the old dudes who hang out at Eastwood park? I don't approve of what they are doing out there in general (obviously) but this Friday took it to a whole 'nother level. In the past we've had to call the cops about things out there on two different occasions (one of which involved me 'catching' someone with their pants completely down at 5:30pm on a Friday 10' from an oft traveled trail and 500' from a playground) but this was just beyond creepy for me personally. I showed up out there alone at 6:30 packing my 10lb battery and light set-up hoping to make a couple laps. In no way was I expecting to have any company from weirdos in the woods. I noticed that the "green car guy" was there (when is he not?) and was sitting in his car with the parking lights on reading a paper (again- when is he not? Seriously if I've been to Eastwood 100x he has been there 85 of them). I took off on my lap and got into it a little bit, soon becoming comfortable in the dark. After 1 lap his car was still there, but now with the lights off. Any feelings of comfort vanished. As I rode by I had to glance toward it. My headlamp illuminated the front seat. I saw nothing but saturn interior... For a minute I fell into the normal training dialogue, "be tough, don't quit now" but it quickly turned to "let's just go ride on the road and get out of here". I won't be going back to Eastwood alone after dark, not sure I ever should have thought it was a good idea regardless of who else might be out there. I'm mostly worried that if I infringe on their "space" that they'll mess with the trail in some way that might become dangerous. It could also be quite scarring to accidentally illuminate certain things with 25w of light.
mon- 90m x 7.5 at eastwood on the Jamis. Jamis around downtown 'after' work. no commute.
Raced Saturday up at Hillside in a very "low key" event. A couple of the fast guys showed up and I was excited to try to hang with them a little bit and get a feel for what I'm in for next year. Start was pretty good and I got into a comfortable rhythm before breaking the chain about 25 minutes in. This one was very frustrating, would have loved to sneak in there with a finish amongst the expert folks even in a super low priority race like this. Regardless, I'll be significantly faster the next time I race than I would have been had everything gone perfect Saturday and it's ok.
Probably spent too much time/effort trying to figure out what chain to switch to (heck- if I could have made up my mind two weeks ago I'd have had it for Hillside). I ended up taking the advice of one of my competitors fathers and going with the KMC x9sl. I picked one up for the Monocog as well- their $20ish SS chain in gold. Looking forward to not having to worry about chains for a while.
I appreciate all the advice I get from everyone, but the chain issues have got me thinking about how much of a 'crapshoot' my first year of racing has been equipment wise (and probably training as well). It's hard to know who knows what they are talking about when it comes to equipment- it seems some, particularly the bike shop guys, don't use their stuff as hard or as much as I want to be able to. The $$$ that's poured into little upgrades and replacement parts has really added up, but I've quickly realized I'd much rather pay even $100 more to not have an equipment problem. The costs of entry fees, traveling, being away from home add up to the point that almost ANY added expense in componentry would be worth it.
Halloween was fun- I'll post some pictures later. I raced in my german beer girl costume and went out later in the evening as myself. I figured I didn't really need a costume and would rather just wear whatever I wanted to- what other day can you get away with wearing a flannel, jeans, CLOGS, a ridiculous mustache, and can bring a flask into a bar, can't waste that opportunity by wearing a costume. That reminds me- I'm doing the movember.com thing for the next month. I already have a 2.5 week headstart, the mustache is going to be nuts.
Huge thanks to Dr. Thorson for giving me a second? opinion on my knee. He was able to find a few muscular imbalances and 'core' issues that should be able to be addressed in order to greatly help me out. I also now have a proper referral for as many physical therapy sessions as will be needed. I feel good about having more 'work' to do in order to attack this problem, rather than the crap plan that Mayo foisted on me.
I get that we are in a financial crisis. I get that healthcare costs are soaring out of control. I get that a lot of people who shouldn't be are completely incompetent (I realize this more and more each day I go to work). All that said- the Mayo Clinic's sports medecine "clinic" can't just can't be as bad as it has seemed to me. I'd almost feel better overall if I thought the crap care I've received was just because I am an employee- but I don't think they had any way of knowing. How can anyone just send someone to ONE PT appointment for a condition that could lead to (well, let's just say it could lead to pretty bad things).
I also get that I'm not a professional athlete and they don't really care if I can do what I want to do. Seems most doctors just think it isn't natural to ride a bike or run- doesn't make a lot of sense to me unless it's just because they are so used to seeing the endless parade of overweight, alcoholic, smokers that make up the general population (even of clinic employees). In a way this just motivates me more to get strong enough that the next time I have to deal with them they'll "believe" that I'm serious about this stuff... I (misguidedly I'm sure) feel like if I looked like Lance at the end of the tour that they'd have taken me more seriously.
I'll stop ranting and return to normal thought processes and grammar, NOW
wrapped the bar ends and over the grips on the monocog with bar tape- hoping the larger size diameter and added insulation keeps me warmer through the cold weather and also insulates me from some of the chatter. This has been working great since my ride Sunday. The new, comfortable, location with my hands on the bar ends is reminiscent of my favorite position on the hoods with drop bars.
mon- 120 at 8- extended commute in both directions (35 miles) monocog. Cold riding from 1:30-2:30, saw some weird stuff (blond on the lap of some guy driving a 15 year old lexus down highway 14 at about 15 mph)... got to love having a 50w headlamp that "looks" wherever you do in THAT situation, "umm, hi".
tues- 90m at 5.5 at eastwood- took it easy. Huge thanks to Charly Tri for the new trail sections! Obstacles I/we put in are still in good shape and look solid. Made log ride and rock pile to skinny first tries. Tried to get comfortable on bike salsa- race saturday.
wed- 49m full lap of leb at 8.5ish. Wanted 'race' pace but it was a bit greasy. Fell, hit knee on wood section leading up to the new, easy skinny and took it easy from there out. Racing Ralph's not ideal tires today.
120m at average of 8- rode to douglas trailhead and out to a total of 15 miles very hard, averaged 19 mph on monocog. was trying to attend a group ride that may or may not have happened (never saw anyone). rode last 45-50m of ride at a comfortable/easy pace back through town in the dark.
There's a couple pictures of each of them. Salsa is right before heading to the blufflands epic race so that's the "endurance" look there with the suspension fork and the manual pump etc.
easton ec70 seatpost
Have appointment Wednesday for a 2nd opinion and more information about the chondromalacia (the proper term for my actual injury). Will post details after that.
I know enough at this point about it that I know I can start training and that I will more or less be "ok". I've been going at it relatively hard now the last few days. Feeling fresh and motivated...
mon- rested and rode Jamis for extended commute
Tues- left work early after bad news with the knee. 2 hrs on the trainer. fairly even effort with a few run ups to harder effort and back down. 120min at 6.5 effort.
wed- had pt appointment. mowed lawn etc.. monocog commute.
thurs- 90m at 7 on trainer. picked laura up at airport. 75m at 7 on trainer after work. no commute (went in late)
friday- 60m at 4 on trainer (just spin and then ice knee- cycle seems to help the rt one). 60m at 7 on trainer after work
sat- 60m at 5 (salsa needed tuning- went home and worked it out), 120m at 6 on trainer watching gophers- commercials=sprints, 60m at 8 on monocog just before dark. lots of stretching and pt stuff
sun- 55 miles in 195m at 7.5ish on monocog. rode end section of Almanzo course. Felt very strong.
some say we'll see armageddon soon
i certainly hope we will
i sure could use a vacation from this
bullshit three ring circus
...learn to swim
aenima has been getting a lot of play recently- to be honest dating all the way back to the "heck" (where I just about went through the whole catalog). It seems even more fitting after dealing with the circus, that is the clinic, during regular business hrs the last two days. I can't say I feel like I have anything in common with 99% of the people you run into downtown Rochester.
It's been 9 weeks now since I walked off the field at soccer with knee issues and self-diagnosed as having a cartilage problem. I finally received an MRI today and will truly find out what's going on next Tuesday. In the meantime, I've been told by a general practitioner and two different physical therapists that I didn't need an MRI and that I had a chronic use (from running) problem. I'll stay away from further judgement until Tuesday, but I have not been in any way impressed with the care I've received thus far.
I'm fretting that the WEMS race this weekend will be cancelled due to the rain. Bike is ready- got the 24/36t double installed with the Shimano shifting now and everything seems good.
Had another idea today about why I like riding so much... the freedom. When you are a kid you love your bike but in the back of your mind is turning 16 and getting a car. It's sort of the american dream to get the car and the freedom that goes with it (I remember a rhetoric class I took where we listed all the things "the car" allows you the freedom to do--- from skip school to a place of your own for sex). However, the car never really provides that freedom. With cars you are hassled by the cops when you do anything fun and you have to feed them gas. The combination means that driving becomes a chore and just one more reason you are bound to stay plugged in to the matrix. This is a sad realization for me- I really love fun cars and driving and I'm sure I always will, but I think this is true. There is so much more legal (mostly) fun to be had on a bike and all you have to do is eat, something I already do a lot of, to fuel it. Not only that, but the more you ride the more freedom you get. Your motor gets bigger and bigger and all the sudden you can ride to the cities if you want to and truly be free. You can leave Rochester in a rain with a 30 mph headwind at noon and cross the river into St. Paul at sunset with a 4 pack of Surly's on your rack and a tear in your eye.