Tuesday, June 30, 2009

12 Hours of Cranky Monkey - Low Expectations

On Friday night Leland and I were discussing how unprepared we felt for this race. Neither one of us had ridden much, if any since Big Bear two weeks prior and we both still had some bike issues that remained to be ironed out after that brutal race. Mine it turned out was to remain wrinkled and I set out Saturday morning with just the Jamis Dragon 29 SS conversion in the back of the truck.

Leland took the Le mans start and had me a little worried as he came through the run lap and then the bike lap solidly placed within the top 10. I knew he'd mentioned to me he was afraid he'd go out to hard and blow up super early so I called out to him to settle into a comfortable race pace once they got to the trails. An hour later I was out for my first lap on the unfamiliar course.

Apparently showing Vinny how many laps I was gonna ride. I'd equate it to when Babe Ruth pointed to the outfield... Uh, yeah ok... or predicting our placement before my second lap...

The quantico trails were loaded with short but steep little climbs all over, especially (or so it seemed) towards the end of the lap. There was one large fire road climb I never even attempted after seeing SS vet Jonathon W walking it in front of me and then a couple of sharp, steep switchbacks that weren't worth the wasted energy. Otherwise I was able to climb mostly everything on the 33x19.

The 3 Person Coed on top of it all - #1 overall team! Woot!

My laps went very smooth and consistent; forced to ride the same gear I just settled in and went. I managed to keep my mind in the game and grind out the tiring climbs even through the last lap and kept my lap time consistent. First lap was a sub 1:02 and my last was 1:04.02 with the inner 2 laps being right around 1:03. Very nice. I'm convinced I'm better off on the single speed for races like this one; not too hard to accomplish on a single speed but hard enough I'd be rocking the granny gear way too much and spinning way too easily while I "raced".

For a while we were battling it out for 3rd place in the 3 man open category though we soon were shown the way to 4th by the home team, USMC that had had a 30 minute mechanical early on. We held on for 4th though and stood aside the podium, which went 5 deep, to collect our Pint Glasses.

2/5ths of the podium ain't bad. Even Cass got in on the action.

In the end DCMTB rolled out with some hardware (or at least a number of pint glasses).
3 Person Coed - 1st Place (1st overall!)
3 Man Open - 1st Place (2nd overall!)
3 Man 35+ - 2nd Place (5th overall!)
2 Person Duo - 2nd Place (10th overall!) (split DCMTB/PVC team)
3 Person Coed - 6th Place
3 Man Open - 4th Place (13th overall)

Great race, tough venue and an excellent time!

All Pictures courtesy of Vince Gunville (except for the 1 he's in...) More here!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kick'em while they're down!

It's tough to complain in light of recent events about how rough I've got it, but being the accomplished whiner that I am, I've managed to pull through just the same. In all seriousness my thoughts are with those affected by the crash and my hopes lie with those in Iran, doing what they can to be heard.

A few weeks ago I got angry with Mike and Bryan for inciting havoc on bicycle tires everywhere, but I figured the worst was through. Turns out I was dead wrong. Instead my luck has continued on the downward trajectory that has been my path of late (did I mention the torn sidewall on the scalpel during the shed ride a week before Big Bear? Yeah...). If those weren't enough, last Thursday after riding from Hains to work and back I got home only to find another rear flat on the CAAD9 and a large piece of glass sticking out of the tire. I hung the bike up and left it for the weekend deciding to busy myself with house work and spring cleaning instead.

So, come Saturday evening when Aimee and I are heading out for some fine dining at the Olive Garden courtesy of a gift card left over from Christmas the last thing on my mind is a flat tire. Apparently the great deflater wasn't through with me yet. A large drywall screw and my back passenger side tire had become intimate friends during a brief drive for gravel and once again my tire changing abilities were brought to the forefront.

Actually we took Aimee's car and left mine for the next morning parked against traffic where the tire would be accessible on a flat section in front of my place. Long story short, the lug nuts are basically corroded to the bolt and a call to AAA is in order since the 12 inch tire iron just won't provide the leverage. Get everything finished and head back inside to take care of the dogs and grab Aimee for the drive to the tire repair shop, etc and when I come back, maybe 30 minutes later I've got a parking ticket for parking against traffic.

A little additional history here, since I've been dating Aimee I've received a few parking tickets. Most recently and notably are the $100, tow required "failure to secure DC tags" tickets I've been getting by the handful during non-residential restricted times. I currently have two in for review and another which I did not send in within the required time frame. So, not only do the tire gremlins have it out for me, but the parking gods shine elsewhere these days as well.

The Rear derailleur was just a little icing on the cake, oh and my crappy Hayes Sole brake that was blown out on Jamis is in the process of being replaced as well. At least the mechanical Avid BB7's won't have issues with fluid pressures/levels or blown fluid lines. (Sweet! Just got the call the Jamis is all ready to go! THANK YOU FAMILY BIKE SHOP!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Redline Cyclo-X 57cm Frame and Parts - Want 'em?

I'm selling my Redline Cyclo-X frame and the parts (available) that I had/have on it.

The LX derailleur is moving over to replace the XTR derailleur busted at Big Bear this past weekend (yes Mike I can definitely feel the weight difference there...) and the shifters were just returned to Scott who loaned them to me 2 (really, it's been almost 2 years???) years ago.

So, frame and a majority fo the components including Ultegra front derailleur, Shimano 105 bottom bracket, newer cane creek headset, truvativ seat post, WTB Rocket V saddle/Intense factory saddle and a basic stem and handle bar plus some basic cantilever brakes.

$250/obo - Make an offer if'n you're interested.

The wheelset, if I sell it will go seperately and I'm thinking $175/obo for the Mavic CXP 22's laced to Shimano 105 hubs including a shimano Ultegra 9 speed cassette and a set of Maxxis Raze tires mounted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who'd have guessed I'd be forced to demo an Ellsworth AGAIN?

Racing with DCMTB this year, the 24 Hours of Big Bear was a blast. I must admit the stigma that goes aloing with even just being associated with a team like DCMTB is pretty cool, especially at a race like this one. It's cool to be on a well respected and recognized team, even if those things don't necessarily apply to me.

Anyway, enough star/naval gazing. We turned out two teams for thgis year's race which included my 5 person coed team of Leland, Vince, Alex, Ilana and myself and a 4 man expert team consisting of Jonathon W, Mike K, Darren and Kent. All in all an awesome and supremely entertaining group of people to race and hang out with. We all did a preride on Friday which revealed a mucky but mostly ridable final 10 miles or so, though we missed out on riding the rerouted beginning few miles.

A friendly "pat on the back" during the campground lap.

I did the Leman's style start where we racked the bikes, ran a quater mile loop around the camp grounds, jumped on the bikes and rode the same loop then tore down to an entrance to the course. Here things got ridiculous as the freshly made trail was swampy and pretty rough to ride, especially with folks stopping in the line of 20 to 50 riders stacked up in front of me. Things finally opened up and spread out and I settled in to a comfortably hard pace for the 13+ mile loop.

After my lap we were in 5th in our division and Leland took it out for lap number two. Unfortunately a busted chain slowed his lap considerably and we found ourselves fighting back from 9th from there. Alex pulled the fasted DCMTB team lap and the second fastest lap for our dividsion with a 1:23 and Vince and Ilana both rode solid problem free laps as well.

Showing off the pythons(garden snakes) after my first lap. (Cleaning GU off my leg)

My second lap began just as it was getting dark and aside from 2 lost contacts within the first 5 minutes (I had spares in my bag) I was cruising along at a solid pace and passing people as went. I ran the rock garden and got to the big climb out and suddenly I heard a metallic ripping sound coming from the rear of my bike, stopped and saw my derrailluer hanging by the cable and chain. I tried to run it but the derrailluer was bouncing off the wheel so I shouldered it and walked the rocky sections and did my best to run the remaining 2 miles back to the start/finish.

When I finally got in I was ready to lose it from frustration but my teammates calmed me down and got me thinking rationally again (the bike nearly found it's way back into the woods superman style). After I dropped us from 7th back to 9th with that, the team rode solidly through the night and by the time I was mounted up and ready to ride my morning lap on board the Ellsworth Truth we were back fighting for 6th!

Aside from some additional saddle adjustments I didn't have time to make, the Truth rode like a dream. I had wanted to try the Evolve (again) but the Truth was available so that's what I rode and I was glad I did. I took the descents faster then I'd imagined I could and more comfortably and under control then any of my previous laps. Unfortunately the saddle position kept me losing time on the climbs. I did manage to catch a guy that had dropped me within 15 or 20 minutes of the start of my lap during the downhill before he pulled away again up the long fireroad climb after the descent.

Leland followed my lap with a solid mechanical free lap followed by what Alex described as a terrible and slow lap (he still beat the rest of us...) while Ilana brought us home with a solid 7th place out of 16 teams. All in all about what I think we would have expected and really even better considering our troubles. If Leland and I had managed our few laps without mechanicals we'd likely have been racing for 3rd place and pulling out 15 laps total. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Otherwise it was fun chatting with friends and catching up with Greg Cappelle from high school racing with the Proteus squad. Adam was out riding (for only the third time this year...?) and Eric was out offering support to his one person wrecking crew of support from Lodi, Liz.

Again another fun year at a great event. Heres hoping I won't need to demo an Ellsworth come next year's race though. Nothing personal of course!

Last year's Big Bear report...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tha 5-0

Today I decided to live a little dangerously. Been wanting a new bike for a while so I stole one I saw sitting out on the road (turns out it was Dave's! Sorry Dave!!!) Got into a gnarly chase with the local Po Po's and finally they had to side check me to get me down. It was like that classic get away video of the guy on the free way getting away from the cops on a bicycle... Cept, that's just not quite how it happened...

Rode home from Aimee's today after taking her to a couple of doctor's appointments and what not. Taking it easy after a long day in the saddle at the Frederick Water Shed yesterday, cruising mostly on the flats and just generally spinning my way home in the nice and somewhat warm weather.

Get to a blind corner with a green light (only maybe 300 yards from where I get on trails for nearly the remainder of my ride), spin it easy around the corner and "whoop whoop" a cop is in my lane coming at me with the lights flashing. Sh*t! I'm on the flats so I can't just grab a handful of brakes, maneuver as much as I can but there space is limited.

End up slamming the left side of my body into the rear drivers side door, bounce off a little and go down on the right. Cop gets out, makes sure I'm ok, I do the quick systems check and all systems appear a go, I mention I'm more worried about the bike so she gives me a business card and takes off to whatever emergency she was headed for.

Bike's alright but the new bar tape (2 short rides on it) is trashed and the front wheel is knocked a bit out of true. Loosen the brake and ride home. A guy in one of the 10 or so cars lined up at the light that the cop was heading around yells out I should get off the bike and sue that *^&^*(; I shrugged and kept going.

Back home it looks like I might have a bruise on the thigh (though doubtful), a couple of additional scrapes and not much else aside from a bit of soreness tomorrow. The bike on the other hand needs the wheels trued, new bar tape, new HANDLEBARS (the right drop is now bent in somewhat severely) and well, probably another general tune up similar to what I spent 3 or 4 hours doing on Saturday. I hate riding a freshly cleaned and perfectly tuned bike!

Whatever happened to karma anyway?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A slightly different approach

Ever since Lodi Farms the Scalpel has basically been on the DL. The conditions there combined with parts that had passed their prime and my own poor excuse for mechanic skills kept the bike in the bike room just waiting for the latest QBP order to arrive. This week the QBP order arrived!

I decided to drop the triple ring set up and go for the simpler 2x9 (and yes, I made this decision before SRAM XX was announced) with a bash guard. I bash my ring much more then I should (though I have been getting much better with that). More importantly I almost never use the big ring on the Mountain bike and rarely really ever use the small ring for riding around here. So, why put a nice big ring on when I can instead protect my rings with a bash guard and just bump the size of my 2 smaller rings up a bit?

A little change of pace...

Enter the Race Face Team FR Ringset; 24-36-Lightweight Bash. Nice. Got to work on replacing the rings late this afternoon after a thorough cleaning of the road bike before quickly realizing I don't have the proper tool to remove my hollow tech crank arms and get at the small ring! 5:25 PM and Family Bike Shop just closed so I hustled my butt over to Proteus Bicycles to beg the use of their shop for a moment, with no beer in hand at that. They generously allowed me the use of their Park Tools combination crank/bottom bracket wrench (need to get myself one of those) and I was back in business. (BIG thanks goes out to Proteus for helping me out today!)

Yeah! I love shiney parts, even if they're rare on my mountain bikes...

Got everything all set up on the Scalpel including a new set of jockey wheels and took it out for a spin. SWEET! No chain suck, everything shifts perfectly and I even managed to correctly adjust the outer limit screw to keep the derailleur from trying to pop the chain out onto the bash guard! Now I just have to hope I haven't over geared myself for the 24 Hours of Big Bear course next weekend. Hopefully tomorrow morning's Shed/Gambrill ride with the team will give me some idea of what I can expect out there.

After a year of the blue tape the red looks a bit strange. I'll get used to it quickly I'm sure.

In other news I popped some new red bar tape on the road bike just for sh*ts and g*ggles. Now that my team kit is actually red I feel like I might as well keep my apparent favorite color scheme going...

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Elusive Isolation Run

I think I've found my new favorite weekday lunch run. While it's far from perfect is still farr better then the usual tourist trap trot down the Mall and back. The slightly extended jaunt down the Mt V trail from the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the 14th St. Bridge is nice and even somewhat secluded but it still just doesn't quite provide that feeling of getting away that you really look for in a mid-day get the heck outta dodge sort of run.

Let my shift gears here for a quick bit. A couple of weeks ago I finally broke down and bought up a couple of pairs of the Montrail Highlander's off Steep and Cheap just hoping they'd fit alright. I have a hard time just buying one of something on these sites since no matter what they still charge $10 s&h hence the 2 pair. At $30 per plus the $10 shipping I figured it was a reasonable gamble to go for. They came in this week and I spent a few hours wearing a pair around and getting them worn in and all and finally broke them out for my run today with the intention of finally checking out the Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial over on the Patomac.

With all the rain it was a bit wet but aside from large puddles ontop of some pretty hard packed dirt the trails weren't too bad. I did the Swamp trail loop which includes a nice long boardwalk section through the swampy area and a bunch of little (unofficial) little off shoots to the shore along the Patomac. The trail offered a couple of rooty sections to test out the shoes though mostly was just a very tame dirt trail.

What makes this my new favorite run though was the complete isolation I had while on the island. I know the complete lack of people on the trails was pretty much due to the crappy weather and anticipated mud. But unlike a run down the Mall, I felt isolated from the cars and the rush of the city, even feeling distanced from the Roosevelt Bridge running directly over part of the island, shut out by the trees and greenery of the swamp. Plus I'm sure the real tourist terrors, the throngs of middle and high school kids on field trips don't tend to make it out to this particular memorial.

It'd be a stretch for me to work this one in on a regular basis since my route today logged around 8 and half miles and we'll just call it an extended lunch hour... But, for the benefits of being able to actually get away from it all on a lunch run, I think I'll be working these in when ever I can.

The shoes by the way worked out great. A little rub on the outter pinky toe but great support and comfort. Gamble = Paid Off.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

DCMTB Team 2009

The new kits finally came in and they are SWEET! I think they look really sharp and aside from a slightly short torso fit for the bibs they feel great. Unfortunately my vest did not make it in the order. I really am in that picture... you can just see the top of my head and my closed eyes!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Its amazing how nervous you can get sitting in a hospital waiting room for something as common as tonsil removal. The good news is the surgery went fine, Aimee is awake and doing well (according to the doc) and her monster tonsils are history (no more tonsil hockey for us I guess ;)

Bad news is they said noon would be about the earliest they'd let her leave and its only 9:30 right now. I know all she wants is to be back comfortable in her bed right now. Hopefully the pain meds are doing there business.

On to another cup of coffee after our 4am wake up this morning.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, June 01, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Roadside Inflation - MSR Tire Inflation Kit

It was bound to happen. I knew it as soon as I saw the post about it. I tried my best to distance myself and pretend that I didn't know anything about it. I couldn't help but notice it's effects on our fellow riders. Alas, I couldn't escape the jinx.

Saturday on my first good long road ride in a long while I double/triple/quadruple flatted if you will. Thanks Mike and Bryan! I guess I can now fess up to my roadside tire inflation techniques (and short comings) since I've already paid the price (knock knock knock).

Basically Jim's got it right. I use the basic mirco-flate screw on CO2 inflation chuck. Turns out, it's even better then I before realized since you can actually save a CO2 cartridge to reinflate a slow leak tire multiple times during a long ride... I got a full fill plus at least 3 top offs during my ride out of each cartridge. Ride/Life saver considering I couldn't get a pick up savior on the phone yesterday.

On the other hand I now see the genious in Jim's plan to also carry a frame pump for a ride. Eventually, even when you're carrying three CO2 cartridges, knowing full well you've been jinxed despite your best efforts of avoidance, and two tubes you will run out of air if you've got a slow leak on a 70 miler. Ah well. For what it's worth though, screw on CO2 is by far worth the marginal extra cost in my book. Those guns for the non-screw on type wouldn't really fit in my seat pouch anyway.