Friday, April 18, 2014

Singlespeed-A-Palooza 2014

Get in the van!
I know for a fact that I spent the good part of my education sleeping away in creative writing class. Many afternoons I awoke to a puddle of drool and blamed it on the lunch, but it was a combination of many things. Hanging out with my friends late into the weekend nights, drinking too many beers , and lack of belief that there was a real world that I actually may have to perform in. Rarely does this happen now. Too much goes on in my life that requires coffee to keep me rolling. Sometimes gone are those days of carelessness and bliss unless I’m being inspired by others.  Goofy movies come to mind during these moments.  Such as Animal house, Old school, Fubar II and even reality television shows such as call of the wild man. Each portraying crazed characters individually motivated and on the fringe of society.  Last summer our team mate Kevin had bought a conversion van for road trips with his family and friends. What this van would come to be is a reason to reflect on those days prior to the real world while being encouraged and inspired by others to enjoy life for the moment.
We loaded up the van with bikes, beer and some clothes and headed on our 5 hr. road trip to New York for the 2014 Singlespeed-A-Palooza race put on by Dark Horse Cycles. Careful calculations were made so that we didn’t exceed the weight limit of the springs on the van due to the coolers that were loaded with Iron Mike pale ale and Bone Shaker brown ale from Moat Mountain.  Our plan was to spread the beer love at this event with the tasty Moat Mountain beers. Taylor would later yell to me to “Get in the van!” and blasting rock music and a van full of beer this fraternity was on the road. This year four of us would go down and race in the men’s open. Taylor, Kevin, Dave and me. Since we rode the course the year before on a 32x20 which was too spiny for the fire road sections we upped the ratio to a 32x18. The 18 is little faster on the fire roads and your still able to climb everything in the woods. This course features single track with a good flow to it and a point to point race. This is a nice change compared to the hamster cage races that we normally attend. The course this year was fast and fun with a couple of muddy areas near the end.  Nothing terribly bad. We got a chance to pre-ride and then we checked into the hotel and got our room. Saturday night things got a little fun. We met up with Shoogs, Ray Cloutier, Lone Wolf Cycling Tim Woods, the boys from Gigantic Hawk, Team Awesome and the DAS crew at the camping area, got the bonfire rolling and cracked open the coolers. Sometimes you have to wonder if we forgot that there was a race the following day.  It’s not every day that you get a chance to hang out with friends you see once a year. So let’s have a good time. By the morning we realized that the coolers were about bare. What a night, now what a morning. Race day. Ouch!!
We got ready for the 9am line up with a little Advil and a smile. Started off in the back and worked our way up to the front pack on the fire road. The 18 seemed to roll pretty well.  With this gear I didn’t have to trade spots with many people and was able to just keep rolling forward. I got to the top of the fire road and looked back to keep my team mates in sites. We originally wanted to try and stay together but got split up by just a little bit. Into the first single track climb things were going well. Taylor and Dave were close behind and were rolling well.  The second small climb would do my pedal in.  Snap. Gone. My drive side pedal snapped right off and I was left with nothing. Taylor would later roll by and say “Get on that and RIDE IT!” What? I said I just broke a pedal. Screw it I‘ll Ride it out to the fire road. Half a mile more and I hit the road with one pedal. All right I paid 75.00 to race some of the best single track and I’m done at the 2.5 mile mark. The heck with it I’ll just keep riding.  I was able to keep cranking with one leg and having the other just hanging over the other side off the ground. I couldn’t stand up but I was eventually able to rest my right leg on the sloping top tube of my Misfit frame and kept cranking with the left. Being raw aluminum I didn’t have to worry about scratches.  Cranking and coasting down the single track and part way up the hills only to later jump back on over the top. This wasn’t going too bad. If I could keep it up until the beer stop at the half way mark I’d be content.  I ran into Mike Rave at a fire road section and he asked “what are you going to do? “ I said “I’ll ride it out!” The race was long gone and I was having fun. Just before the beer stop I yelled to Kevin to wait so we could ride together but he wanted to keep riding. At the stop one of the event staff had an old Crank Brothers Candy pedal that he said I could have.  Awesome!! I’ll drink to that! Two beers, a Red Bull, two GU shots, and some water all while he installed the new pedal and then I was off and running with a new outlook. Railing the downhill’s and making the climbs kept me smiling. I ran into Kev on the climb by the old car then I caught up to Taylor on the fire road going the opposite way and walking. Two flats had done him in. He told me Dave flatted once and was off to finish. So I rode on. I was still feeling good and made it to the finish and happy to have made it here. I think it’s a combination of determination, bliss and stupidity that gets me through those situations and keeps me rolling much like the characters in the movies I mentioned. Delusional and outrageous it puts a smile on my face.  At the finish I was able to hang out with some great people, enjoy some beers, barbecue and enjoy the moment.


The van is loaded up and ready for the road trip.

Cooler full of Moat Mountain awesomeness! Photo by Randy Shoogs Larrison.

The bonfire was raging because of pyromaniac Tim Woods. Photo by Dave Harris.

One legged Anthony Catauro. Photo by Luke Kelly.

Super hungover Taylor Clark. Photo by Luke Kelly
Hammer down Dave Harris. Photo by Luke Kelly.

Kevin Como cranking away. Photo by Luke Kelly.

The CBR wrecking crew; either wrecking our gear or ourselves.
Great day of racing bikes, drinking beers and hanging with our friends.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Moose Brook Fat Bike Race

Sunday we traveled way far North to the inaugural Moose Brook Fat Bike Race in the big city of Gorham, NH. It was cold, windy, and it felt like –80 or something. However that didn’t deter 50 racers, dozens of spectators and numerous volunteers from braving the elements. The course was PHENOMENAL, the people were awesome the event ran like a well oiled machine, and the cookies were worth writing home about. I was quite content sitting next to the roaring fire playing with a furry little chocolate lab puppy until someone yanked me out of the lodge. Here are some pictures I managed to get before my index finger turned black and fell off. This silly fat bike fad just seems to get funner and funner everyday!

Mandatory racers meeting at 9:30 am.  No Anthony or Taylor.
Dan getting toasty.
Ray Webber is ready to race!
The race begins and Anthony and Taylor are still at the car.
Super fan Dan Mutz and racer Anthony Catauro delivering the mail!
Derek "Big D" Griggs enjoying his fat bike in the wood.
Ray Webber having a blast!
Taylor Clark rolling through the ice section.
Ray Webber drifting it into the corner towards the finish.
Kyle Clark taking a break from his photography duty.
Dan Mutz cold-ass chilling.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Racer Profile: Dave Harris

Name: Dave Harris
Age: 49
Hometown: Hookset, NH
Discipline(s): Expert XC / Single Speed
Years racing: 20+
Favorite race: 24 Hours of Great Glen
Occupation: Carpenter
Career highlight: Pisgah PMBAR Race
Favorite beer: New Belgium Fat Tire Ale
The stable: Gary Fisher Superfly SS

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Treasure Valley Rally

Somewhere between the pebble, the rock and the boulder I lost my sh*t at the TVR. I know there was a trail there but had no luck finding it this day.  Maybe it was the full moon this week that had a strange pull on my brain because as much as I wanted to stay straight on the course I kept crashing left and right.

 We Left Pittsfeild at 7 am and that gave us plenty of time for our 2 hr journey. Just Taylor and I rode together and Ray and Judy were going to meet us down there. We got to Palmer and checked in. We got a chance to meet up with alot of familar faces as it was to be the EFTA finally. We got lined up in our age groups and called to the starting line around 11am. There are a lot of fast guys in expert vet 2 so just holding on to a wheel for a good period of time is the best bet. Ride it out for about 2 miles and see what happens. Sounds like a great plan if it works but you never know.

So we get called up and we’re off in a minute. My legs felt good off the line so that wasn’t a problem. We raced up in the single track and things were going fine, I rubbed some tires and made a couple moves. Rubbed one more tire and had to dab. Since I had a train of guys behind me I Just pulled over and let them by. Jumped on the back and started moving up again. This was all in the first mile so I’m off to a great start. Did I say I had a plan? Well by this point it’s probably gone. In the next ¼ mile I grabbed a hold of a JRA riders bike as he went over the bars so I wouldn’t run him over and then passed 2 more guys only to come down to the first stream crossing. This is where I went ass over tea kettle in the river. Someone please just toss me some soap because I can’t ride today and I mine as well take a bath right here.  I flipped the bike over and continued on rolling forward as a good rider should.  Got to the top of Sampson’s pebble and rolled down hill. I must have hit every rock on that downhill side because I couldn’t ride anything. This poor single speeder behind me was having the same kind of day I shouted out a couple of words and continued off. It got better  as we climbed back up. I felt strong besides the aching right leg that I bashed on the handle bars when landing in the river. Picking up on some more riders as I closed out the first lap I was gaining and it felt good. I started to think I brought the wrong bike. Probably should have a full suspension for this one. Man the rocks get to you after time.  I crossed the river with ease this time and caught up to Taylor on the new single track. “What took you so long?” he said. We rode together for a while and he told me to go so I went. Rolling along and making the climb up to the pebble and down. After climbing back up to the pebble my rear tire decided to go soft. Nice! It’s always something today. So I gave it a hit of CO2 and let Stan’s do his job. That worked. This is surprising because it’s not always the case. Stan and I have had a battle for some time. I’m glad it worked. So 5 more people passed as I fixed the flat and I continued on. Finishing up near the bottom of the pack as it was one of those races where you would just like to forget it.  The next race I’ll have forgotten all about this.


Single Speed Open - photo courtesy of Mark Tucker

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Hampshire 100

Don't stop till everything's gone
Straight ahead never turn round
Don't back up, don't back down
Full throttle wide open
You get tired, you don't show it
Dig a little deeper when you think you can't dig no more
That's the only way I know
-Jason Aldean

 This was my strategy for the Hampshire 100 this year.

In July, I finished dead last in a hot, brutal 61 mile Carrabasset Backcountry Challenge Race with a broken front derailleur cable only 18 miles in.  I almost quit with 4 miles left to go but knew that I would always regret that decision so I kept going.  Ray told me I should be happy since he DNF'd  after both of his legs cramped at 39 miles. It didn't make me feel any better.
  I got discouraged since we have been doing a  longer  rides and lots of hills and I'm still too slow for the Sport class.
 I went through a 2 week period where I did not enjoy riding my bike which is very unlike me. 
I had already signed up for the 100 so it was either volunteer at the race and lose out on my registration fee, or put on my big girl panties and race.  Since I'm not a quitter, I decided on the latter.
The day started out with a beautiful sunrise, comfortable temps and my traditional pre-race bear hug from The Maz.
My only goal was to finish in less time than my 9:59 finish last year.  Since all the Sport women  were in the same group and look very serious about this race, I figured I would end up last.
It was nice to know that Ray, Mike, Dan, Judson, John and Larry would all be suffering  too.
The start was pretty easy, I stayed with a group of 3 guys on the sandy part by the airport, focusing on the guys in front of me to forget about the pedaling.  They were pretty easy on the eyes so that went by quickly.   The climbs went on forever, but I expected that after last year.
The runners and riders were passing each other back and forth, the runners could climb faster since they weren't pushing bikes up the hill.
The  riders/runners were encouraging and friendly, one rider stopped to make sure I was OK when I crashed in front of him and gashed my elbow open.
The singletrack was awesome, the fiddler was good, and the nice man handing out Octoberfest draft beer at mile 27 was my hero!  Thank you!!!!
The volunteers at the feed stations were awesome, making sure we didn't need anything. As I rolled into one of them, the EMS mechanic said "Go get some food while I lube your chain for you."  At that point, I thought those were the sweetest words a guy could ever say to a girl.
Last year I was afraid to push myself too much, fearing that I would get too tired and not be able to finish.  Now I know that I can go that distance.
I decided that this year I was going to try to ride the hills further before walking, push harder when I felt good, and just keep rolling when tired.  Surprisingly, I didn't tire as quickly as I thought I would.   I tried to eat/drink even when I didn't feel like it, and not stop for more than a few minutes at the feed stations. Being a multi-tasker, I even  ate a Hammer Gel while in the porta potty to save time. 
I guess that was working for me, as I passed two women in my class.  The nice woman from Canada was getting tired and trying to ride a rigid 26er over some rock gardens.  I felt bad for her on that bike. That gave me renewed energy and I got my second wind.  I tried to put as much distance between us as I could.  It felt good to pass by some guys who were burning out along the way also.   I thought about the CBR guys and where they may be, and about Stephanie who has more than likely been done for hours. 
I was beginning to realize that although I had about 10 miles left to go, I was going to beat my time.  I was having trouble concentrating enough to figure out what time I would be done.
My legs were beginning to burn but I kept pedaling.  I couldn't bear to look down and see my legs still working after so many hours.  I think I was trying to pretend that they didn't belong to me. 
I had blisters on both hands despite wearing gloves, and my forehead had a stinging, chafed lump forming from my  sweaty helmet. My left foot was completely numb for the last 10 miles from my sciatica which made it hard to walk the hills because I kept tripping on rocks.   My upper arms were beginning to cramp.
 I've  decided that mountain bike racing is just like childbirth.  You forget how painful and exhausting it is until you do it again.  The Hampshire is one long  labor.
I got excited when I passed by the last water stop, people were cheering and waving me on across the road.  Cindy saw me and started honking her horn.  I knew then that I was going to  make it to the end.  I was still looking behind me for the other girls but they were not there.  I was aftraid they would sneak up behind me in the end.  I forgot about the pain an pedaled with renewed energy.  I met up with a rider who was also finishing up his race and we chatted back and forth for a bit.  It was the longest 5 miles of my life.
I finished with a time of 9:13 happy that I survived, beat my time by 45 minutes, and didn't finish last in my class.  I finished 5th out of 7 Sport women, and seeing Ray waiting at the finish line trying to hand me a pickle made me feel like a winner.
I discovered that this type of race isn't always about beating other riders. It is also about  seeing how deep you can dig, pushing through the pain, and proving to yourself that you are stronger than you think; all while riding your bike and making friends along the way.
I'm doing this again next year. 


Dan and Mike talking about fried pickles at the finish

Judson, Ray and John

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

24 Hours of Great Glen

Déjà Vu? So there we were around 9 a.m. at Great Glen Trails on Friday Morning, waiting in line behind the same exact vehicles as last year. Despite the glorious forecast that once portrayed sunny blue skies, it was raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock, just the same as last year. As soon as the campground opened, the parade of vehicles made their way over. With only a handful of them in front of us, we were hoping that none of them would take our little piece of land at the base of Mount Washington that we had hoped to call home for the next few days. Much to our surprise all those people in front of us were solo riders that were camping in a different location. We checked in and grabbed our little piece of paradise in the back forty. The rain held off for a little bit allowing us to start setting up camp. Once again it started pouring out so we all crawled in Kevin’s conversion van and watched movies on the flat screen in the comfort of dry reclining leather captains chairs. Finally Mother Nature decided to throw in the towel and turned the spigot off after dropping 3 inches of rain on us. The clouds blew over the mountains and Mr. Sun and his friend Blue Sky finally arrived at the event. We finished setting camp up and Kevin cooked us up some gourmet dinner. We chilled out with old and new friends with the campfire and tiki torches burning bright. This was the proverbial calm before the storm. We awoke to a beautiful Saturday Morning that was breezy, sunny, and 75 degrees. At 12 noon on Saturday the cannon fired and would not fire again until 12 noon Sunday. It was go time! Kyle and approximately 119 others ran around the pond and jumped on their bikes going over the first obstacle, the over-under bridge. This year the course ran mostly in reverse. This eliminated the traffic jam on the climb on the infamous Blue Berry Hill. The first mile was a breeze but the next few were nothing but a climb. After that the rest was just a mix of gradual up and down fire road and single track until you crossed through the tunnel. It was then the torturous climb up Blue Berry Hill to the cabin and up the Aqueduct Loop and onto some fresh greasy off camber single track. Once through that it was back down, through the tunnel, under the over-under bridge, yet another unforgiving switch back climb, down the stairs, and around the pond or over the floating pontoon bridge where you took the chance of saving 30-40 seconds or falling into 13 feet deep water. Then into the tent where you slapped down your RFID card on the sensor and your next team member took the baton. Upon arrival back to basecamp we would shove a slice a pizza and a can of coke or moxie down our throat. We repeated this process for the next 24 hours. Although we had around two and a half hours between going out for one's next lap, it felt like only 5 minutes. Things were going well until the wee hours of the morning where one starts to become sleep deprived, delirious, and just a complete hot mess. The sun began to rise off in the distant which is always a sight of relief, but it’s not over yet, there is still about 6 or 7 hours left to go. As soon as sun starts to rise, the bag piper starts playing, the birds start chirping, it gets dramatically brighter. It is quite amazing to be out on a lap during this. From now until noon is where you just want to crawl into the fetal position onto a bed of nails in hopes that an out of control tanker truck piloted by Chuck Norris filled with gasoline and acid is coming straight your way. After Kyle and Anthony did their sixth rotation some bad news came their way, the other members of the team HAD ACTUALLY ben run over by Chuck Norris. So Kyle and Anthony went back out for their 7th laps. After his 7th lap Kyle got sucked into drinking Yuenglings with completion and went missing. After doing his 7th lap no one was there to relive him, Anthony contemplated whether he wanted to go back out or not. He sat down in the timing tent for a few minutes where he pondered life and then yelled '”YOLO” at the top of his lungs. After doing most the course in decent shape he hit the wall on Blue Berry Hill and ran out of gas. He ravaged for some actual blue berries but none were to be found. So he asked a spectator if he could have the rest of her half consumed Coke. She agreed. (True Story) With just a little bit of fuel left he managed to finish the last few miles. We then threw in the towel and opened the emergency cooler full of pints of Berkley Beer . After our first lap we were in second place and then fought between second and third. However the single speed, hula skirt, dress wearing team in front of us were pulling some fast times. We decided not to kill ourselves and backed down and tried to maintain 3rd place. We were just ahead of a Canadian team. We figured that an International throw down was more important anyways. At around 10:45 Sunday we were a few laps ahead of the Canadians and called it DONE. Although we say every year that we will never do this again we, some how end up back. We already can’t wait until next year! Here are some random pictures from the event.

This is what it looked like when we arrived at the Glen Friday morning

I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down for a while
The CBR base camp
Déjà Vu of 2012
Meanwhile at Great Glen
Finally the rain clears
Parker coming into the last corner for the big "W" at the 24 minutes of GG race
Kyle testing out the Nite Rider Pro 3600 lumens light
Likin Bikin's own Dan Mutz replacing a bottom bracket at 1:00 am on Sunday
Post race relaxation with many beers
Anthony, Kyle, Taylor and Kevin on the podium for 2013
Third place in 4 person Expert