Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Looking forward to 2010, I placed my chips down for the Baker’s Dozen. In a moment of “delusions of grandeur”, I registered for the Cat 1 race, instead of trying to go back and repeat with a top sport finish. I could switch races, but that would cost an additional $15, so I think I will just tough this one out. Since my training has been derailed by snow, rain, and being sick, this will literally just be a ride in the park for me. The distances have been lowered from last year too, because a 28 mile race in January is too much! I do love the trails there on the farm though and cannot stay away. The promoter is running a 4 race series there, so I may be back for more of the same.
Christmas was good for everyone in my family. Isabella was very excited about all of her presents. I think she was most excited about the puzzles she received. She likes the toys, but really enjoys working out problems in her head, so she loves every puzzle she gets to build. On the two days following Christmas, the first thing she said to me was “Can we play puzzles Daddy?” We did.
Hopefully I can get out and ride soon, but I am not going to push it and end up sicker. Sadly our trails are perfect now that they are frozen, but more snow and rain are on the way, so this condition may be short lived. Bummer, but for now, I better stick to the trainer and weights.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have taken a different approach with my off-season training from last year. I did not do any running this year, while I ran last year for about six weeks. It provided a good aerobic base and helped keep the extra winter weight off. I was going to continue to not run, but based on our recent weather, I am going to go ahead and do some running for the next month or so. It may be the only chance for outside activity in the near future, although I did see Euro Camp Bound Jeff Bahnson out riding his MTB yesterday.
I also wanted to do a regimented weight lifting program for 2010 and failed there too with only periodic and non structured weight training a few times and not in a regular pattern! Luckily, there is still some time and once again, the weather outside has provided an excellent opportunity to do some weight work. Last night, in addition to other lifts, I did dumbbell squats to failure and my legs locked up big time on the last set, just like they do when I am off the back on a group ride and trying my best to get back to the pack, so I think doing some weight work will help me for the racing season. I worried about being able to get upstairs after the last set, but in time the legs loosened up.
I registered for my first race of 2010 over the weekend, the Snotcycle at the end of January. I went back and forth quite a bit trying to decide if I would race this again, but it was a lot of fun last year and I would be sorry if I did not do it. The course is a good match for my riding style and it is a lot of fun. Perhaps this year there will be no snow on the course and it will be even faster than it was in 2009. I do know I need to take a different approach with hydration, because my bottle was frozen after one lap last year and I was really thirsty! In addition, there is a crit training series scheduled for an area not that far from me and I am looking forward to taking part in a few of these events. I have done training crits in the past, but had to drive for 90 minutes to get to them (T-Town). No info posted yet other than “Wilmington Training Crit Series”, but I keep checking back.
So to sum up, slow rides in the snow once I get the trail cleared, running, weights, and the first race of the season is five weeks away! Time to get moving.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Have to go do some more planning for 2010 . . . .and ride my trainer : (
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I am looking forward to the 2010 racing season. Some decisions to make, some easy, some not so easy, but all in all it should be a good season.
Take a minute to go check out Delaware's favorite junior national champ in action here and feel free to drop a dollar or two in the bucket while you are there if you find it appropriate: www.dccofd.org/jeffbahnson.htm
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Rode my first long ride yesterday in a long time, a 3.5 hour tour of Fair Hill starting and ending from home. Had great company for the ride, but it seems like we went up almost every hill in the place, minus the long down and up lead-in to Skip a trail. Good times.
I will begin to lay out a plan for next year, but the mext two months looks a lot like this: Long slow rides with a little intensity once per week!
Oh yeah, go check this out www.dccofd.org/jeffbahnson.htm and drop a few coins in the bucket for ol' Jeb.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I will be racing in my Fat Cyclist jersey on Sunday. Other than contributing to team fatty and his livestrong effort (perhaps I should have joined the team for Philly?), but other than contributing, there is nothing I can do, but I can and will the jersey Sunday in honor of Susan.
Go hug your wife/husband/child(ren)/dad/mom/brother/sister/dog/cat/neighbor. Enjoy the each day and embrace it. Each is truly a gift and you never know if will get the same gift tomorrow. Make each one count.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I wanted to share my experiences with you from the night race at Marsh Creek State Park. When I first heard about the event, I knew it was one I wanted to do. I have always had a good race at Marsh Creek, with my record being 2nd, 5th, and 3rd for the last three years. The course is nice, with some singletrack, some nice climbs, and some power road sections, which I do not like, but that is because wide open power sections are a weakness for me. Throw in some rocky sections, and some mud and it is a lot of fun. Before we get there though, I want to talk a little bit about my 2009 racing season.
A top five series ranking in the MASS is my goal for the year. It is my last year in Vet 1 Sport as I will officially be old next year (40) and racing in the next age cat. So far, the season has been fairly kind to me, with both Fair Hill races being the exception. I started racing way back in January, finishing 4th out of 60 riders in Leesburgh, VA in the ice and snow. In April, FH 1 was not kind to me because I was not smart at the start. I learned long ago that a finish line sprint at the start of the race is not too smart, but I entered this race with one goal in mind and if the course was only 1/4 long, I would have accomplished that goal. Unfortunately I forgot my previous lessons and I paid the price. The rest of the season has been pretty good to me, finishing just off the podium at many races and coming back late in other races to finish up strong. Granogue 6th. Iron Hill 4th. TdT 6th. Then I got sick after Tour De Tykes. Real sick. Coughing, phlegm, nasty sick. 11 Days of anti-biotics did a number on my body and I finished them the day before FH 2. I started the FH 2 race feeling strong, but knowing I was sick and had not trained in the three weeks prior to the race. Mentally I was blown before I even started. Sure I rode during these three weeks, but I did no intensity. None. And I paid the price. Right from the start, I was off the back and just rode the race instead of racing the race. Everytime I tried to get going, my body said no. My 15th place finish was not good, but it matched my finish from the Spring FH race, one that I was hoping to drop from my score. It was still better than mid pack though and I did manage to stay in the big ring for just about the entire race. It was also my first race on a 26er in a very long time. On the open, fast course, my 29er would have been a big advantage.
After FH, I looked ahead at the remaining races and put together a plan. Marsh Creek was too soon to train for, but I had to start training for the rest of the season. Game on. Tuesday after FH had me doing 5 minute start intervals. Wednesday was hill climbs, Thursday was two 20 minute time trial efforts on the MTB. Love those things.
I arrived to the Marsh Creek venue to find it was very dark. I got lost a few times getting to the venue, but that is to be expected up there as the park is tucked away behind houses and an actual town. Soon after registering, I found Joel Kahney. Shortly after, I met up with Steve McCann and then I saw Kid Chris (Consorto). Cool. We had four strong riders. I got dressed and took a pre-ride with Mark Sanford and Dan McDermott. I got lined up at the front and hoped for the best. Fields were smaller, but it was hard to tell who was in each class. I knew Mark Sanford was there and Chris Yanovich too. Number 1 and 2 ranked in my class and I was currently sitting in fifth place. I stayed close to Chris on the MASS start and I was among a select group of ten riders. I knew Mark had to be very close behind me. I held my position for a bit, then I got myself into trouble in the dreaded open sections by the Dam. I managed to hold my position in the first open section as Mark Sanford rolled easily up to my wheel right before we entered the woods. He coached me through the wet sections as he pre-rode the course earlier in the day and knew where the trouble spots were. I managed to get away from Mark over a really big (3 foot) double log crossing and started the stone road climb back up. Mark came rolling by a few minutes (OK, seconds) later, knowing the open sections were my kryptonite. This open section of the course was over a mile long and I really, really hated that. A few more riders came by and I could not wait to get back into the dark woods. I knew from racing this course last year that a big climb was coming up, one that I had to run with my singlespeed last year but would be able to ride with gears this year. I got most of the way up before slipping out and having to run the rest of the way. The woods were really dark and I switched on my second light so I could see better.
The rest of the race was pretty much all of the same. Some singletrack, some narrow doubletrack, some nice climbs, both long and short ones. The wide open sections were only part of the prologue, so I was happy to be through those sections. Wet trails at the bottom of the park, dry at the top, a lit up ruins house in the middle, and a rock valley that allowed my rear wheel to slide two feet to the right every single time (scary fun). I rode each section as I would my 20 minute time trial efforts. Somewhere out there, the battery for my bar light slid down my bottom tube and it disconnected. After wasting 15 seconds trying to reconnect it while still riding, I gave up and tucked the wire under my cables. I still had my helmet light and if I lost that, I would come to a stop and fix the bar light. I passed the scoring trailer, confused if I just rode 4 miles or 9 miles. See, the course was 1 prologue lap and two laps and I never asked how many times we would cross the finish line. Looking at my watch, I figured out that I was out for about an hour and hopefully had two laps down with one to go. During my last lap, I got passed by a few of the Elite riders that were out before us and rode one more lap. First was Rob L, then a little later Wes came by. When Matt Miller came by in 5th place, I jumped on his wheel for three seconds, then I heard Kid Chris announce his arrival and I backed off so Chris could jump on Matt's wheel. I pointed out that Matt was right there in front of us as he passed me, but Chris told me he was right in front of him all race and he had been trying to close the gap for the entire race. I rolled on Chris' wheel for a short time, allowing him to pull me forward and therefore closer to the finish. The rest of the lap was uneventful and I was surprised how much shorter it seemed (well, duh, it was only 5 miles VS the 9 for the prologue/lap ). After crossing the line, I verified I was indeed done and turned in my chip.
The podium was kind to me as I finished in 3rd (of 5 riders) and scored the points that go along with 3rd, moving me up in the overall Vet 1 rankings. Awards started about 1:50 AM and looking at the pictures, it was pretty clear I was sleeping on the podium. My only podium this year so far and you would think I could look happy? I know I felt happy and smiled, so I think the posted picture was taken early in my 15 seconds of fame. I think this finish places me solidly in 4th place, but I am not taking the time to do that math right now. Once we get past 7 races, the posted points mean nothing unless you account for the best 7 races for each rider. Prior to this race, the rider in 4th has one extra race than I do and the rider in 6th has one less race than I do. The 4th place rider has beaten me the last two races by a small margin and is a great climber. The rider in 6th was the de facto champ in Vet 1 Sport last season as the rider awarded the championship upgraded to Expert once the title was locked up mid season.
As far as team points, prior to this race, we were in 5th place. I think we may currently be in 4th and we have some work ahead of us to make it to third as Bike Sport had a ton of riders out there on Saturday night. When I joined this team, it was with the vision that Allied Milk would be a top three small team in the MASS. It has been a great ride and I hope we finish that ride up strongly. I trained quite a bit in the off-season, losing 25 pounds of extra body mass and training like never before, scouring the internet and training books to learn how to get better, as well as bugging all of my racing friends for training ideas. I left a team I have been riding with since 2003 (first as the Wooden Wheels team and then Henry's Bikes, with a core group of riders all moving at the same time), give or take two seasons where I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Fort Frames, where I starred every week as pit master for the Elite team after racing the C and B Master's races earlier in the day. I gave up cyclocross last year to focus on MTB for 2009, allowing myself to build a good base in the off-season instead of racing myself silly year round. I am just an average racer that has had to work hard for the results I have earned and I know that I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be, but I am passionate about this sport and goal oriented. I wanted this season to count and I wanted to be on a team that wanted the same things I did. I know that Dan wanted a team podium when we talked about it over the winter. I know from Saturday night that Joel and Steve want it. I know Kid Chris wants it - why else would he be chasing down Cannondale sponsored riders for a 5th place finish at 1:45 AM instead of being out late partying like other 22 year old males?
So for the rest of the season, I have laid down a challenge to myself to finish up on the podium at each race and keeping myself firmly positioned in the top five ranking in the Vet 1 class. I am facing my kryptonite at Sewell this weekend, the land of super-fast big ring riding and few climbs or technical sections. I know it will be the hardest race of the series for me, for I am at home when the riding is technical, the climbs are long, and the conditions are horrible. I get by with my skills and average fitness. But I am facing my demons on Saturday. The rest of the MASS season is important to me and to my teammates. Who knows where we will be next year or what will happen with the MASS? Things could change a lot, but rather than focus on next year, let's focus on the rest of this season. The only thing that matters now is the next four MTB races if we want to podium. On Saturday, we will be in the belly of the beast, slaying the D and Q dragons who I think are now right behind us in the Small Team rankings due to our Saturday night performances. They have been close to us all season and I get to directly take on one of their riders who will be in his element on this power driven course.
Thanks for listening to me. I hope to see you all at the Summer Sizzler on Saturday.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Tour De Tykes
I was disappointed to be the only Allied Milk rider at this race, other than Seth who did not race but provided moral support out in the woods. Race started on a very long climb and I managed to blow myself up before the top, sat in, and took about two miles to recover. Once I got moving like I knew I could, the course started going downhill and I was left to just ride the brakes on the steep, loose terrain. It went this way until the second loop of the course. I saw fellow rider and friend Mark Sanford up the trail, so I took chase. We were climbing a long climb and it appeared he was in granny (I later found out his shifter cable broke and all he had was granny, although on this course, one could get by with just the little chainring). So I worked my way though a couple riders and got on Mark's wheel. He immediately offered me the chance to pass, but I told him it was me and that I would not pass until I earned it. He let me by anyway and I thanked him. I worked hard to put a gap between us and shortly came up on Tom Snook. I played the same game, passing the riders between us, was offered the chance to pass, and identified myself and told him I would earn the pass. He agreed. I was able to pass him shortly after that, and worked to put a large gap between us, not large enough as I would find out later on. At this point, I was riding pretty good and other riders were falling off the pace. I saw another "V1" on a calf and made chase. We were in the last mile or two of the course and I really tried, but was unable to pass this last rider. I would get close and he would pull away. An Expert rider was between us (they started before us and rode a longer loop). The Expert rider would bobble and allow the V1 Sport rider (another BikeLine rider named Chris Doocey) to gap me. The last 1/2 mile of the course was cruel. The course would head downhill and you would think you were done, then it would turn right back up the mountain. It did this at least four times. I kept my eye on the Bike Line rider (Chris) and would watch as Tom Snook was behind me, but not able to pass me.
We finally came out on the road and I sprinted for all I was worth to the finish line. I should have sprinted a little more, 2 second faster to be exact. You see, the race used a timing mat at the beginning and at the end. Remember in American Flyers when the Russian, David, and 7 Eleven guy were racing along and 7 Eleven guy said "You are in front of me, but I am 10 seconds in front of you?". It was the same with Tom Snook. He had a 10 second cushion on me, because he rolled over the timing mat 10 seconds behind me at the start. Even though I gapped him and fought hard to stay in front, he was awarded the 5th place finish because it took him 2 seconds less to cover the course. There was so many places I could have pulled back those 2 seconds, but I had no idea. Rich Bilson finished on the podium about two minutes up on me, but I do not even think he hung around to get his medal and prize.
The climbs in this race, combined with conversations with Nathan Diebert had me thinking a 26 is a good choice for certain courses. I "think" I would have climbed better with the smaller wheel and the course was technical, but not that technical that I would have needed the 29er. The flatter rolling courses are where 29er is king (not to mention the rocky venues too), but 26 climbs better than a 29er when one is in granny and the course offers 180 degree turns followed by more granny climbs. I was definately taking inventory of my parts after this race, seeing if I had enough to put together a race worthy 26 from the parts I have in the basement. I think I am pretty close.
So even though I have failed to earn one this season, I am still in the game for a podium shot. The guy who keeps me off the podium, Chris Y from D and Q? He finished up in 2nd place at TdT - good for him. I knew he was serious when I was getting dressed and he was warming up on his trainer with his road bike.
I am looking forward to the next races in July. That allows me a good training period to get ready for the races and I have a plan in place. Hopefully by the end of July, I will have the chance to stand on a MASS podium. Racing has been good to me this year and I have some really good finishes, just not quite what I am looking for. Season is not even half over yet though and there are plenty of opportunites for improvement.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
As I was leaving my house, the skys opened and rain began to pour. YES! I love the days with rough conditions as I think it brings out the true mountain bike racer. Muddy courses require fitness, bike handling skills, and a good mindset. Technical courses like Iron Hill even more so.
Arrived on site and helped the promotors with registration. They decided to take a different route with the timing chips and I think the Sport lines may have been a little longer than those at Granogue. The timing guy is new this year and we are all learning. Here is a message to other promotors using the time. Split up your chips by beginner, sport, and expert so that you do not have to sort through hundreds of chips at a time.
Mark Sanford and I went out on a little pre-ride to scout out tissue hill and slime hill. Tissue hill went straight up the hill this year (down by the parking lot) and the angles were a little different. On to slime hill to see if it would be ridable. It was not, but we talked about where to run up (left or right). Left was King here. We got to see some 8 year old boy become totally frustrated here, falling down over and over again. He started to cry a little bit, then Mark picked his bike up and got him up the hill. It was a very nice move on Mark's part as the boy stopped crying and started racing his bike again.
The race start was not too fast and furious. I think all of us in Vet 1 are content with a cival starting pace, at least everywhere except Fair Hill and I can thank myself for that start. Chris Arterburn was leading us once we got into the woods, followed by Damon, Paul, Me, and Mark Sanford. Poor Chris went down on the first wooden bridge and his wreck was not bad, but he was on the right side of the bridge and his bike was on the left, so he had to wait to get back to his bike. Order was now Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. Paul was the next to go down, so order was Damon, me, Mark, Paul recovered and came around to make it Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. I let Mark by and the four of us just pulled away from everyone else. I fell off the pace, but passed Mark on Boneshaker as he crashed hard and was pretty shaken.
I remained in third from Boneshaker until almost the end of the race. Riding along, passing lots of folks from other classes, feeling the build-up in my legs, but feeling pretty fresh the entire time and attacking sections of the course. I was a little surprised at how easy it felt, but my legs were telling me we were putting out some efforts.
(MORE TO COME)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Before I knew it, my group was at the starting line and next to go. Fat Marc set us off and I fight my temptation to go hard off the front. I still find myself at the front, but decided to just sit in and not get too excited. Former Fort Mate Richard Bilson and his C3 teammate start to pull away from the rest of us towards the tower. I sit back and wait for someone else to chase, but after about 5 seconds of this, I decide to bridge up to their wheels. Rich led us up the Tower Climb and we hold formation to the top. Once on the other side of the tower, a few folks get around me, and then slow me up big time on the singletrack climb out to the cross-roads. Into the new singletrack section and through Deputy’s Woods, I am definitely in the wrong place and get held up a lot. I found it faster to just get off the bike and run around some of the riders who are slowing me up. By the end of Deputy’s Woods, things are more open and I start to move forward. I also pass the last place singlespeed rider right after the road crossing. The trend of passing the singlespeed riders continues for the rest of the race and I pass all but the top three SS racers by the end of the race.
The rest of the race was mostly uneventful except for my exchanges with Chris Y from D and Q. He and I start exchanging positions about halfway through the first lap and this continued to almost the end of the race. He had more power than me on the open sections, like the road climb, and was a much better descender. I rode uphill a bit better and ran better. I casually mention we could wait until the end to fight out who would finish first and he replied “Or we could just continue to sort it out now”. He got away from me at the end of the first lap and I did not see him again until the river trail, where he stopped to clean his bike. I told him I was going to go ahead and attack him and he said fine. He jumped on his bike and hung with me for the rest of the lap. I asked him if I thought we were close to the top ten and he told me we were in the top five, which turned out to be true. We both advanced forward, but never caught anyone from our class. He did have two teammates up ahead and we saw one of them at the top of the last singletrack climb. Chris attacked me on this section and got away. I never saw him again. It was about this time that my rear shifter crapped out, leaving me with two front rings and only a 34 in the rear. I switched to the big ring and stayed there until the end of the race, ending up in 6th place for the day. One place away from the podium.
The next MTB race in the MASS is not until the end of this month. This is the Iron Hill race, an event that I am looking forward to competing in.
Major props to Rich Bilson, who ended up 2nd in Vet I and had a blazing first lap time.
Pictures by the uncomparable Dennis Smith
Monday, May 4, 2009
I will post my race recap tomorrow, but suffice to say I was pleased with my finish. I also figured out that I blew my Fair Hill Result in the first 60 seconds of the race. The rider who finished directly in front of me at Fair Hill commented when he saw me at Granogue about how fast the FH start was. In pictures, he was right behind me in the starting line sprint. At Granogue, he finished up in 3rd or 4th position. I did not overcook myself at the start of Granogue and was able to do much better as a result. I was stupid at Fair Hill, drew other riders out in my stupidity, and they suffered a similiar fate. Lesson learned. No more sprint starts for me.
Big thanks to this guy and a well timed comment about my race performance. Your words made a lot of sense Travis and when I read them last Thursday, I started feeling good about my chances at Granogue. Your advice, as small as it may seem to you, continues to help me get where I want to be. Knowing you were here before and seeing where you ended up helps a lot, like when Julian Michaels on the Biggest loser pulls out her fat pictures!
Race Recap will be posted soon.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I finished in 15th position at the Bike Line Fair Hill race. I did poorly and was utterly disappointed in my finishing position. The End.
The Long Story
I finished in 15th position at the Bike Line Fair Hill race. On the day of the race, I felt that I did poorly and was utterly disappointed in my finishing position. At the start, I put out a cyclocross type effort and made it to the top of the starting incline in first positon. There was a large crash directly behind me, where two riders tangled bars. I heard that one of the rider’s bikes flew up in the air, like a wheel was at head height. To me, it sounded like the entire field went down, so I took it up a couple more notches, hoping I could get a little further down the trail before the affected riders could get back on their bikes. Dan Conrad told me he the crash was directly behind me and he was surprised I did not go down as well. So I dug deeper, crossing the bridge and into the downhill portion of the course fully taxed from my efforts by the time I hit the flat section. Then I got passed. Again and Again. Breathing was labored. I went too hard for the start. AGAIN. And I would spend the next mile unsure about when I would be recovered from that effort. I felt weak and was unable to attack the other riders as I planned, because I was stupid and went too hard at the start. About ½ way into the first lap, I was able to push myself again and started to pass people. I also wasted some time here and there by not passing people in the singletrack when I came up to their wheels, instead I waited for an opening. The trails at Fair Hill are tight and twisty and I should have been more aggressive.
I was also confused at the results trailer, because I was able to determine where I finished up and I knew where I was overall in Sport (61st), but had no idea where my peers finished. On Tuesday, results by age class were posted and I found that the winner of my race was 4 minutes and 30 seconds up the trail. Compared to previous races, that was not too bad. I also found that 90 less seconds would have earned me a single digit finish, which is my goal for all of the XC races I do this year. I am pretty sure I lost 90 seconds between the start effort and not being super aggressive in the singletrack with my passing. I did pass a lot of other riders, some in my class and some in other age classes. So seeing the actual results put a positive spin on this race for me. Conditions were faster this year, but I cut 10 minutes off my 2008 time - - which is a pretty large chunk of time. I have a lot more work to do before I will be back up on the podium, but I am working hard on it and will be standing up there soon.
Major props to my Allied Milk teammates. Team Captain Dan Conrad won the 19 – 34 Expert race by about a minute or so – considering the course and the competition, that is a pretty sweet finish. Joel upgraded to Elite Open and finished in the money for the day, while the rest of my teammates finished Top Ten in the Expert rankings. Fellow Sport racer Seth had a good race and it was great to see him there, rocking the fully rigid single speed!
While waiting to see the race results, I noticed a small crack in my frame. It is on the way back to the manufacturer for warranty replacement and in the meantime, I will be training and racing on my singlespeed, in the Singlespeed Sport class. I was really having a hard time deciding if I would race Age Cat or SS Sport this year and instead of having to decide for myself, my frame just made the decision for me. I am not disappointed and based on previous seasons and my love of singlespeeds, I know I will do just fine on my singlespeed. The one good thing about racing a singlespeed is the gearing provides me with a rev limiter at the start of the race. I am able to push a respectable gear (34-19 on a 29er, sometimes 34/18). Last year, my results in Age Cat Sport were about the same regardless of gears versus SS, so the biggest difference will be different racers in the SS class. I will have a teammate in the class with Seth and hopefully he does not knock me over when he passes me!
So my next race is Granogue. Here is registration and do not forget the HERA raffle.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Get your tickets on bikereg:
Way cool products, way cool time, and helping Sam spread the word about cancer awareness and help find a cure.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The first individual MASS race is nine days away. It takes 24 minutes to ride there from here. Hopefully some magic will happen there.
Until then . . . .
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Growing up, I had a great BMX facility right down the street from my house. It was known as “The Trails” and it was a 2 acre site covered with BMX trails. There was the Ski Jump, which was a jump directly at the bottom of a three story tall steep hill. The jump was pretty much an Evil Knieval triangular/pie shaped ramp and folks used to line up tires at the bottom for jumping over. The longest jump I witnessed there was fifteen tires long. The rider rode a loop of the track and then dropped in. He was flying, down the hill and over the tires. Understand that the hill was so deep that one could skid 1/3 of the way down and still have enough speed to jump three tires. Not that I would ever wimp out that way, no sir ; ). The average rider could clear 8 tires.
Another feature there was the pit jump, which was a flyout jump preceded by a roll in. Imagine sprinting at 100% effort and then dropping down three feet and up six within a span of ten feet. That was the pit jump. Jumping tires was popular here too, but they were stacked high rather than laying them out lengthwise. Four foot was the average amount of air a good rider could get. I remember seeing a friend crack a brand new Powerlite cruiser frame on this jump. It was THE best jump in the entire place and definitely the most popular one.
There was a section called the Roller Coaster, which basically was a long downhill and uphill, but broken up with flat sections, so it felt like riding a roller coaster. In the middle of the park, there was a bump jump and at the top of the park, there was a hump jump. One was good for distance and the other one was just for fun with no real ability to get much air, but it was fun to speed jump.
As time went on and more folks were riding and racing BMX, we added jumps like the ones at the BMX tracks. I remember building a set of doubles, with one angled out further than the other so folks who could not jump them at the further distance could jump them at the closer distance. These jumps lasted a few weeks, and then the folks who could not jump them started to tear them out. We convinced them to turn the jump into a tabletop jump, then we made the tabletop jump a reverse step up. We then turned it back into a larger double jump with the center filled in, but the same folks who tried to remove the double removed the new double as well, leaving it a reverse step jump. I did manage to build another double jump in another spot. This set was only 8 inches high, but the jumps were about ten feet apart. This made for a challenging jump for those wanting to try it and those who did not could just ride them as two humps. These stayed until the park was plowed over.
This BMX park got a lot of use and I was lucky enough to be able to ride it every day. We played a lot of bike tag, rode a lot of laps, and learned how to jump there. It was not uncommon to have unsanctioned BMX races there, but the outcome was pretty much the same because the same people always rode there. It was here that I met two very good friends that I am still friends with today. One of these guys was a huge benefit to the place and a leader among the group. He had visions of what the place could be and had all of us moving large mounds of dirt to make it happen. He had the trails widened (which was good here) so that we could race side by side rather than have to follow the leader. He changed the roller coaster from a goat path to a six foot wide trail with a large step jump in the middle. He helped build all of the jumps. He raced BMX, road, MTB, and worked at Henry’s bikes when Henry’s was a small bike shop in the city. On the road, he raced as a Cat 3 and he raced Expert MTB. He still works in the industry, but no longer races. He is still pencil thin and could probably race road or MTB in the Cat 3 road/Expert MTB and do well with a year of serious training .
My other friend from this era still rides bikes as well. He races MTB from time to time, but work and his family keeps him from seriously training and racing these days. He was a very good BMX racer and won a national in NJ in 1985. He still has the five foot tall trophy to prove it, or at least I think he does. He was even lucky enough to have his picture with his name printed in Bicycles Today, the NBL monthly newspaper/magazine - - a feat of which I am still in awe of today. This is back when the internet did not really exist, blogs were just a twinkle in someone’s eye, and getting magazine coverage was pretty darn hard for “just some guy”.
BMX racing kept me out of trouble as a youth. There was trouble to be found there too, but wanting to race kept me on the straight and narrow. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to do well enough to get on a good team, someday getting good enough to be on a Factory Team, the ultimate achievement for any BMX crazed teenager in the 80’s. I always made sure my gear and bike were clean, just in case some BMX team manager was at the race scouting for new riders. Even at some little local events.
I probably raced 200 BMX races in my career and there are three events that stand out clearly in my mind as the best 3 races ever. In the summer of 1985, I had a great race that put me on the Wooden Wheels BMX roster. Tom Harvey Sr was at the track, as he frequently was. He was a huge supporter of the track and gave both dollars and time to the sport. I was racing 15 Novice (which is like Sport in the MTB class categories). I was not riding for a team at the time. Mr. Harvey was always extremely nice to me as was the rest of his family, although Tom Harvey Jr. was not working in the shop nor was he around the BMX scene at this time. I suspect he was pretty wrapped up in his band at the time. Anyhoo, Mr. Harvey was telling me he was considering adding a rider from my class to the team. It was right before my moto and he told me he was considering adding Bill Swanson from PA or some other guy named Billy from Kennett Square. I looked him in the eye and said both riders are pretty nice and that would be a tough choice. Bill and Billy were both in my moto that day and I went out and won that moto with Mr. Harvey watching. When I went back to staging for my next moto, I said to Mr. Harvey “What about me Mr. Harvey? Would you consider adding me to the team?” He shook my hand right there and said welcome aboard. I went on to win the next two motos, stoked to have been added to the team (a similar event would happen later in life, same team, different manager, different discipline, but the same excitement).
The second event that I clearly remember was the 1985 Ironman Classic in Howell, NJ. This race was held on the first weekend of December and it was a pretty big deal. Back then, BMX was usually finished as soon as the cold came, typically October. The Ironman was one last chance for a race and the payout was good. EVERY rider to make the main event (top 8) would get a new helmet. They had good sponsors for the event and you would even get a special number plate just for the event. I trained very hard for this event because I wanted a new helmet badly. I lifted weights every day to get my body ready, spent a lot of time on the rollers, and spent hours doing sprints outside in the cold. On the day of the race, I was leading the first moto by a lot and spun out in a turn, going from first to sixth quickly. Second moto was a win by a large margin. I was crossing the finish line as the second place rider was rounding the final turn. All I had to do was finish the last moto in 4th or better and I would transfer. The helmet would be mine. I led this moto out of the gate all the way to the final turn where I once again spun out and four riders passed me. I finished 5th and did not transfer to the main. It was a large disappointment at the time, but clearly it was my best race ever. If I had tires with more tread (I was poor, remember?), I probably would not have slid out. I may have been trying to apply too much power for the conditions as the track was frozen in the morning and thawed out during the day.
The third event I remember was a double points race at Lums Pond. It was 1985 and my last year as a Novice. No one else was registered for Novice in my age category, so I was forced to race the 15 Expert race. My good friend Craig was in the race too and this was about the time he was really training and racing well. We often rode together at the trails and spent time riding and hanging out, so when he got the holeshot I and rode on his wheel in second, it was just like riding at the trails for me. I remember telling him “I’m going to get you Craig” in every corner and followed him, beating all of the other Expert riders around the track. I finally got passed in the final straight by Alan Foster, who told me I should upgrade to Expert because I was good enough. I was do distracted by trying to beat Craig that I was able to beat a lot of great riders racing in a class above mine.
Around 1987, BMX racing dried up quickly in the Mid Atlantic. Kids stopped racing, tracks started closing, and BMX became unpopular. Having to get a job at 16 made it tough to train and by the end of 1988, BMX was done for me. It was hard to travel 2 hours plus to races to only have 3 or 4 guys in your class - - and that class was 15 and up, so at 18 I was racing 15, 16, and 17 year olds, which was not the case when I started in 1984 and BMX was huge.
I rode my BMX bike a little bit from 1989 to 1993, jumping curbs and bridges down by the brandwine, but the trails had been flattened and there was no real BMX “parks” around. In 1993, I traded a BMX cruiser for a Jamis Dakota that was way too big for me. I had a MTB though and that is all that mattered. The Jamis opened up new doors . . . . to be continued.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It all started with an old Kent banana seat bike. For years, I begged my parents for a bike. Living adjacent to a four-lane highway (Concord Pike and by adjacent, I mean ½ block) and my front street being a 3-lane road (Broom Street), it was not happening. I remember going to friends of my parents’ house and seeing a “hopped up” Schwinn Sting- Ray with BMX style bars, flat black paint, and aggressive knobby tires. In case you were wondering, it was not meant to be, even though it was for sale and I really wanted it. I do think that is where my off road story begins though, because that was the first off road bike I wanted and wanted to copy. This would have been 1979 or so, so BMX was just getting started and most kids made their own BMX bikes themselves from whatever they could get their hands on. The kids in Cali had been doing this for years and the East Coast did have a BMX racing scene at the time, but most kids in my neighborhood had wanne-be BMX bikes.
Around 1980 or so, my grandfather was selling an apartment building he owned. Let me explain how my family owned an apartment building for a minute, so no one gets the wrong idea. The Italian Immigrant method of home ownership involved buying a house and then cutting it up into apartments. Most of the time, you rented the extra space to family, but if not, you rented to close friends. Even when you moved your family to another place in later years, you never sold the first one - - you just kept it and rented it out. You knew your tenants well and you took care of the place. So back to the story, my grandfather was selling the apartment building and there was a bike in the basement from a tenant many years ago. My grandfather contacted the former tenant and they had no desire to come get the bike, so it became mine. I am guessing that it was a Kent, but I really do not know for sure. My mom was not happy at all. She had never learned to ride a bike as a child and saw no reason for me to learn either. It was a red stingray style frame, red banana seat, tall chrome handlebars (ape hanger style), and the best part was a knobby rear tire, white wall of course. It was a single speed with coaster brake. It needed grips, so off to Pep Boys to get some new ones (Black Hunt Wilde’s motor cross style) and a patch kit for the rear tube.
It took me a while to learn how to ride the bike, mostly because I learned to ride in a 15 X 20 paved backyard (another city thing - - remove 80% of the grass and concrete it over - - less to mow, no mud, and everyone did it). I do remember riding down the street and in a parking lot with my father running behind, holding the sissy bar so I did not fall over. And like most kids, the first time he let go and I rode by myself and did fine until I realized he was no longer there and of course I crashed.
Riding was good though and my Dad took me to area parking lots to ride quite often. Wanting to be like Fonzie and having an abundance of wood around the house (Dad was a carpenter), it did not take long for a ramp to be built in the backyard. This was before I understood what getting air really meant, so I rode over the wooden ramp, let the front wheel drop to the ground, and then the rear. A bit like riding over a log, but I thought I was jumping.
One day, after “sessioning” the ramp in the backyard, I realized I had a decal on the down tube that was cracked. Kicking back on the deck, looking at my damaged sticker and drinking Kool Aid lemonade, I came to the realization that the sticker was not cracked, but the frame was. Said my first curse word, and went inside to tell my father. It seems that riding off the ramp and not jumping would allow the down tube (curved, like the “modern day” specialized MTB’s) to strike the ramp. My father was not pleased and even though I did not mention the ramp, I am sure he knew the break was caused by something stupid that I did.
Being from an average working family, a new bike was not possible for a bit. I probably could have obtained a frame from somewhere and moved the parts over, but it was 1980 and I did not know anyone that had a pile of bike parts just sitting around (yet). I think it was Christmas that year or the next, but a Blue and Yellow Huffy Blue Thunder made its way into my life. It was a whole new world now . . . . (To be continued).
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Reality is I have nothing to say that is much different from the other bike bloggers in February. Trails are soft and wet, so all of the riding has been on the road or on the fire roads at White Clay when I feel the need to get out in the woods. Been fighting a sinus infection, well a cold first that turned into an infection. Rest has been tough with the cold, and has made getting my training hours in this week tough, but that is life.
The MASS schedule has been posted, as well as the Kenda Cup. I am going to try and race almost all of the MASS XC races this year, except for one (Sorry Travis, nothing personal but timing for me. I love your races and your venue). I am thinking about the Kenda cup races in NY and VT, but not sure if the time in the car will make it worthwhile, especially when the Cranky Monkey Race series takes place on the same weekends and the drive is only two hours VS six. Trying to find which venues offer the most family entertainment for weekends away and right now, Fountainhead park with the pools and waterpark seems most family oriented. Isabella loves waterparks! The idea of racing in the National events is tempting, but the competition in the MASS is probably tougher. At least the fields are larger. I have always wanted to race at Mount Snow though, so we shall see. Good thing about Cranky Monkey is the small number of events versus a season long battle for points. And no license to buy.
See, nothing new here. Same old “riding the road, fighting a cold” story as most other bike racers in February. Maybe next week will bring new topics. Like new kits for Allied Milk. And riding on trails again. Maybe frozen, maybe dry.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
At that point, I decided I would put the tube in so I could continue to ride. I had some air left in the cartridge, so I went ahead and started taking the tire off the wheel. As the tire came off, much to my surprise I found this little guy ---------> living inside of my wheel. I also found some very thin Stan's fliud inside. I suspect this little dragon ate up a bunch of my fluid (look at how full his belly is!) and that is why the tire was not able to seal. Pesky little devil.
I had some trouble getting the 26 tube into the 29 wheel, but it went in finally. I aired it up and to my dismay, I did not have enough air left to fill the tire. I started to ride home, but the tire was very soft and in 200 feet, it was totally flat. Apparantly I pinched the tube when I re-installed the tire (or ten month old tubes taped to a stem do not remain to be good). Lucky for me the snowy ground mated well with a flat tire and I was able to ride home very slowly.
So now I will ride today with a regular tire and tube and hope that works out well for me. I need some new more Stan's latex and hopefully I will be able to patch the old tire with fresh fluid.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I signed up for the first race of my season too. Pretty early to race, but I would like to get the race experience under my belt sooner rather than later. The race is the Snotcycle in Leesburg, VA and will be held 1/31/09, rain or shine. There are no age classes, just Beginner, Sport, Expert, and SS. I will be in the Sport class with my gears, unless the temps are warm and the course is wet and sloppy. We shall see.
Hopefully I can work on more frequent updates.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
So looking back, it is safe to say we had a great holiday this year. Isabella got a lot of stuff from Santa (so much that Santa put some to the side on Christmas eve). Her face was full of joy every single time she passed the Christmas tree, proclaiming "WOW" every single time. That never got old. Lisa and I really enjoyed Christmas this year with Isabella. It was a really good time.
She was a little unsure about opening presents too. She frequently tries to rip her books and always gets told not too, so getting her to rip open the wrapping paper was not an easy task, but we helped her and it went fine.
We had family over too for breakfast and dinner. Dinner was really easy, because everyone else cooked and we just made some vegetables. Here we are a week later and I think Isabella still has some stuff she has not played with yet.
One of her favorite presents from Santa was her princess couch/bed. She tries to sleep in it every night, despite it being less comfortable than her own bed!
So now I just have to get though year end at work and continue with my training. Base 1 is already over and we are one week into Base 2. Fitness seems to be coming along well and the season schedules should be out soon, so once I know when all of the races are scheduled, I will finalize my training plan.
Happy New Year to all!