Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stony TT: You shouldn't shift a Single Speed

I had a longer blog about the race but lost it just before publishing. Short version: I raced the Stony time trial today and took 4th in Expert 50+. I raced again in the SS class on the same bike, switching the crank to one with one chain ring and the rear wheel to one gear. I kept the derailleurs the way they were for chain tensioners.

The start to the race is downhill and once my SS race got under way I shifted while going down the hill. Bad idea when there are no other gears to shift to. I stopped and put the chain back on and was forced to chase the guy who started with me. He had a bigger gear which meant he could be faster on the flats.

It took a long time to finally bring him back, I would start to gain on the climbs but he would be gone again once over the top. He missed a turn which brought him back to right in front of me. I finally passed him when he bobbled in the singletrack but it wasn't too long before my chain came off allowing him back in front.

I caught back up and stayed in front until he told me to go by. I managed to put some time on him but was looking over my shoulder as we got to the double track. Over the last stream crossing you have to carry your bike and once I was aways on the other side I set the bike down and the chain came off again.

Out on the double track again I could see him back there but he didn't appear to be gaining as fast and I thought I could hold him off for the last mile and a half. Riding along the grass by the road I was picking off other riders until the chain slipped. Thinking I might be able to shift it back on I was riding along looking at the rear wheel when I was stopped dead by a wooden sign post that that was along the shoulder. Normally it is no problem as there is plenty of room on either side of it. It sure caught me by surprise and stopped me cold.

I lost a lot of time and allowed the other rider I had been fighting with to go by me and I was never able to catch back up. He finished 4th and I took 5th. I still had fun and might look at building a dedicated SS based on the frame I rode today. At least that should solve the chain issues.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend in review

This weekend was just about perfect in almost every respect. You couldn't ask for much better weather on both days. Moderate temperatures and low humidity made the riding all the better. Yesterday I set a new PR on my 37.5 mile "hill" route and spent another hour and a half just enjoying the ride.

Today I did another 4 hours at a slightly easier pace and pre-rode a lap of the Stony TT for next weekend. In spite of the beautiful weather I didn't see too many bikers on the trail at Stony but earlier the Paint Creek Trail was crowded with runners, hikers and riders.

This afternoon we grilled marinated steaks with fresh corn on the cob. Paired with a good wine the only thing I needed was a hammock to catch a snooze in the shade.

Tonight I am catching up on the Tour and sampling another German wheat beer. Since spending time in Germany I have come to really enjoy this type of beer and have been trying to find something similar to what I had over there. Unfortunately with the preservatives put in beer shipped out of the country I don't think anything will taste as good as something served in Germany.

This week will be some shorter efforts leading to the TT on Sunday and then about the same next week before leaving for the Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Out riding the back roads today near Addison Oaks and came across a snake on the road. I passed it but turned around to get a closer look as the markings were unusual. As I got closer I saw the dark brown markings and then heard a rattle. Sure enough it was a small Massassagua rattle snake, about 18 inches long and and an inch in diameter but had a very loud rattle when agitated.

I have seen posters in all the area parks that say they are around but I have never actually seen one. There are a couple of snakes that can be confused with this snake and I have seen a lot that I thought were rattlers but weren't. It was cool to see one like this but I will definitely be keeping an eye out while in the woods.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shortest race of the year so far

Photo courtesy of Steve Balogh

I decided earlier in the week to race at Ruby today as part of my training to do more intensity. I hadn't been there in 4 years and wasn't really looking forward to going back. The course crosses a river twice on each lap and a has a few climbs and one steep downhill that had a rope down the side in case you decide to walk down. It was so steep that you needed something to hold on to if trying to walk.

I had heard they had done a lot of modifications to the trail so a few of us went out there earlier in the week to check it out. The climbs and descents have been modified with switchbacks which made both ups and downs easier. The rest of the course was pretty tight as it wound its way along the river banks. Not exactly my style of course but it would be a good workout.

I couldn't decide which bike to use, a 26 or 29'er because the course was so tight in places. I practiced the switchbacks at Bloomer yesterday to try and decide but couldn't make up my mind so I took both bikes to the race.

I tested both while warming up and felt more comfortable on the 29'er. The race started with another racer and I sprinting for the entrance to the singletrack since we knew passing would be a problem. He just beat me to it and I stayed on his wheel for a while until he was able to make some passes on other riders where I couldn't.

I gradually lost sight of him over the next few laps but I was comfortably in front of the next person in my class. I finished 2nd in just over one hour and 22 minutes. The shortest race of the year so far.

Now a couple more weeks of training before the Stony TT which will be even shorter and then the Wilderness 101.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Boyne marathon xc lowlights

At least I finished. That is about the the only good thing I can say about the race yesterday. I went into the race with high expectations. Being a longer race than the normal XC race I thought I should be in good shape, having done a number of longer races already this year and having been somewhat successful.

I felt pretty good on Friday's ride and the HR was up where it should be for the short sprints I did. I had been hydrating all week in preparation for the expected high temperatures. I also was going to manage my HR better than I did at the Lumberjack race.

Only four of us lined up for the Expert 50+ start and I knew the competition would be tough. I think only the hard core (or crazy) come out for this race. We started at an easy pace and I felt comfortable. My HR started to climb as we also went a little harder. I saw the HR start to exceed where I wanted to be so I backed off the pace some to preserve my energy.

I began to realize that even with my HR down into a somewhat reasonable zone I did not seem to have any power. I was having some problems up the hills and feeling a little off sorts. I was walking some hills that I should have been able to ride up with no problem. During the third of four laps I seriously considered abandoning the race when I got back to the start/finish area. I stopped briefly at our tent and talked with Robin and Shari but then decided to head out for the final lap to at least get some points for the CPS series.

I was feeling somewhat dizzy on the more strenuous climbs but got through them to finally get to the highest point of the course and started the last downhill singletrack leading back to the finish. To cap off my day, or add injury to insult, the front wheel slipped off the trail during the descent and managed to send me sliding on my left side again, tearing open the scab on my left knee for the third time in the last four weeks.

I am not sure exactly what went wrong at this race but I noticed I did not take in enough calories which might explain my light headed feeling. I think the power loss can best be attributed to the lack of intensity in my training over the last three weeks, including the week in Germany. It does not take long to lose some fitness when trying to race at a higher level. Combined with the high temperatures I was not able to perform despite the high heart rates.

I plan to add sprints and more intense workouts over the next few weeks as the next race is a time trial. This race will be shorter, around an hour and of much higher speed and intensity. The following week will be the Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


My wife and I spent a few days with her sister on the west side of Cleveland and the visited my parents today before returning home. We hadn't seen any of them since Christmas.

Yesterday morning I went for a short ride on the canal towpath that stretches almost from Cleveland to Akron. I rode a major portion of the trail last year and this year I went as far north as it currently extends which is about 4 miles from downtown. This portion of the trail is paved; farther south it is crushed limestone.

There were a lot of bikers, hikers and joggers out on the trail enjoying the holiday. The park system has done a nice job with this trail putting up informative signs at various viewpoints. There are also some displays of old machinery and the trail center building is full of historical artifacts and exhibits.

We didn't plan on going out to see any of the various communities' fireworks displays but wound up viewing some much more local instead. Around 9:30 at night it was evident that there were more fireworks going off than the normal bottle rockets and firecrackers. The fact that we could see reflections of light from the fireworks made us curious.

Stepping outside it sounded as if the entire neighborhood was setting off the explosions. Multi colored displays were constantly going off in all directions. They seemed to be very close to the commercial fireworks, complete with multi-explosion colors and those that whistled and crackled. Walking out to the main street we could see them in every direction, it appeared that each resident was trying to out do the next.

We could also see the "official" Cleveland fireworks in the distance. It looked like it was a fantastic display as well but we were enjoying the local show just fine. So were a lot of the residents that we saw sitting out on their porches and front lawns. At one point a police car came down the main street but never slowed down. I guess firework patrol was not on their list of priorities. I'm glad as it was a great night of taking in the sights and sounds.

We were able to spend a few hours with my parents, both in their 80's and enjoy lunch with them. They both have a lot of energy and seem to be going strong. I hope I have inherited the same longevity genes they seem to have.

Tomorrow I head up north to Robin and Shari's cabin on Lake Higgins so that I can spend the night before heading over to Boyne on Saturday for the race. Race distance should be about 50 miles or so. Hopefully the 100 milers I have done will allow me to do well.