Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Being One with the Mud

After what seems like months of rain, we have yet another wet race. I was a little hesitant going into the day, but I had already sat out two races because of the rain, and with a car full of carpoolers, it was like I already had my momentum going there, so I followed my inertia. The sun peeked out when I arrived and it was a wonderful site.

Laura and I warmed up together on the back roads in the park. This was actually the first race I have felt good enough to even put my heart rate monitor on, and I was pleased to see my normal spikes. We decided to ride into a trail we came upon, and although it was not in the race, it is one of my favorites. Besides being glad to ride this trail, it gave us a good idea of what to expect. … water, water everywhere, but bottoms hard and wet rocks with some grip. I was quite comfortable with all of these things.

The Pro’s and the aspiring Pros lined up in the first row, and Wendi and I got shuffled to a third row, with all others in the second row. Lining up in the back is not always bad if you chose a good wheel to line up behind, and in this case, I was shot like a projectile into 5th spot going into the prologue turn. As expected, I blew up, and Melissa and Katina came by right before the first giant puddle, … kursplush!!! The unknown feeling of the first puddle was sooo much fun! I never rode through a puddle like that as a kid, so it was like reliving my childhood in a new persona. Shortly after and half way through the prologue single-track, Ellen came by, and disappeared. I managed to keep Katina in sight. I was feeling surprisingly good.

I got a little mentally bent out of shape on Major Mike trail that first lap, but totally figured out what I needed to do for future laps. When I exited, Katina was still right there in front of me, so I felt like my mishaps did not cost me as much time as perceived. I did not dwell on what I did wrong, but envisioned what I would do right on the next lap. Luckily Stewart has a heavy shale content that made a firm bottom for the many puddles that covered the trails. I am very thankful for the deep puddles, because they kept my tires clean enough so that I could keep them rolling, and that was my main focus of the race.

My plan was to find water. Halfway through my first lap, I committed myself to this quest and it began to consume me, pushing me forward. I did not ride super fast, but stayed steady and efficient. By the end of the first lap I moved back up into second place and started working my way through the men’s class. The less I used the brakes, the better. I bumped a few trees and put a foot out here and there, but had no falls.

I finished the race feeling stronger at 2:48 than my last race at 2:00. Good thing, because I had a lot of clean up to do. It may seem strange, but I enjoy the clean up. My bikes bring me so many good times, that returning them to good health is quite rewarding. Muddy mountain bikers were indeed smiling on Sunday, and I was feeling as one with the mud.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Escape to Blue Mt

I love riding at Blue Mt, and with all the rain we have having, it felt great to to able to ride in the woods. Three ladies, three bikes, three hours of riding with three big smiles and one short movies to remember the day. To view the movie go to my photo and video gallery in my links.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Touch of Poison

After working with volunteers out on the trail over the weekend, I thought it might be wise to spread the know and not the oil of the infamous poison ivy plant. Three smooth leaves as pictured above growing on the ground. It also can grown on a hairy vine up a tree, kill the tree and engulf it as seen below. It is easy to miss from above. There seems to be a lot of it this year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Singlespeed -A- Palooza 2009

May 31, 2009 : 204 mountain bike racers gathered for the first ever Singlespeed-A-Palooza at Stewart Buffer Zone in Newburgh, NY. Racers came from as far as Canada on this pilgrimage with various bikes in tow. Some with big wheels, some with little wheels, in fancy carbon or ghetto rigged home-made steel, even a unicycle. The common denominator was that all the bikes had only one gear. As we gathered, there was much excitement of the anticipated simple adventure ahead. An incredible highest ever turnout of 19 women in a single-speed event, were registered.

Violet, is the name of the bike I have owned the longest and a very dear friend to me. We have been through a lot together, and months may go by without a ride together, and within seconds of getting back on her, I am at home. She is my current singlespeed, and I have updated her with a fox 100mm platform fork, disc brakes, chain tensioner and a bell. For the race I used Industry Nine race wheels and an assist pink rubber band on my tensioner to match. I had decided to play it very conservative and picked a light gear of 32X19.

There were 5 classes: Pro/Open Men, Pro/Open Women, The North Cat 2, The South Cat 2 and Cat 2 women. I went off second in Pro/Open Women and with my light gearing, fell off to the back of the class on the slightly uphill to flat gravel road start. Once I crested the top of the grade, I got into a tuck and nearly bridged back up to the back of the leaders. Already I felt like a child playing games. Imagine that?

All this at the start really doesn't matter as it usually settles itself out in the first single-track eventually. I had to wait to pass a few, but it gave me a little rest and gave Violet a chance to rip it down the first little downhill to catch the next racer. It is amazing how fast you can go pumping the terrain without pedaling. I spun as fast as I could on the flats, but I quickly lost sight of the racer in front of me, and by the second lap, the spinning was wearing me down. A heavier gear may have been the ticket for a faster race, but dealing with what you have is the beauty and simplicity of this event.

I kept a smile on my face and enjoyed every piece of single-track to it's fullest, although there were times that felt more like I was riding, not racing because of the gearing. The north and south guys were passing me often on the flats and up hills, but I held my own on the flowing down hills and still really enjoyed the flow of the course. I ended up finishing 3rd for the women that day, which was certainly better than expected. I came home with a pint glass, bottle opener, cool trophy, pro pay out, a dot of poison ivy and a smile. The promoters, Mike and George, go out of their way to make all their events fun. If you did not do this race this year, it is a must for next year!

photo by gtluke http://gtluke.smugmug.com/biking/798708