Sunday, December 28, 2008

Amazing weather...

We just had some amazing weather here for the end of 2008. It was probably almost 60*, with some mist coming off the roads, overcast then sunny and overcast again.

Taylor, Beth, Ray and I got out for about 3 hours out towards Green Lane. I was surprised to see so much traffic on some of the road we were on. I guess you just have to take full advantage of days like this in December as we won't have too many more of these.

After the ride I chilled at SMC, enjoying some Roxy Rolles from Magic Hat and a really good stromboli from Armetta's.

Enjoy the balance of '08 and see you in '09.

-matt

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas...

I would like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday! Hopefully everyone got out for a ride today as it was pretty nice out. I was able to sneak out for a road ride from my grandmothers house in Easton, to the in-laws in Pen Argyl. Roughly an hour and fifteen minutes later, and very minimal traffic later I arrived at the in-laws for a FEAST!

After a plate full of food, and another plate of dessert later I feel about 20 lbs heavier. Guess I should ride some more, huh? I hope to hook up with Cali-Pete for a ride at Lehigh tomorrow afternoon.

Enjoy your time with your families!

-matt

Monday, November 24, 2008

'Cross...


Well the cyclocross scene is almost over in this area, and I'm just starting to really enjoy it. Yesterday a few of us went to the Spring Mountain cross race just outside of Green Lane. The race was supposed to be at Spring Mountain, however when the temp reaches a certain level the snow machines automatically turn on, blowing snow all over the already staked and taped course.

The guys at Philadelphia Cyclismo and Cadence Cycles did a great job on such short notice at moving the venue to the Upper Salford Park just outside of Schwenksville. They put together a very fast flat course with tons of turns, mud bug, a steep ridable hill followed by an off camber switchback, and a set of barriers.

I decided to pre-register for both the B and C races. The C race started at 10:15ish with about 40 racers. At the start we were informed that there would be a preme for the first person to the barriers (Jamie Bockes). Jamie went out pretty hard and kept battling back and forth with 2nd place - ending up in first! I chased Plunkett the whole time, and he had put some time on me throughout the race, but I caught up to him by the end but couldn't sprint him for 3rd place. So I ended up in 4th place - my best cyclocross finish yet.

I was contemplating not doing the B race, however after Vegan Rob showed up - after riding from Nazareth to the venue. I figured I might as well do the B race since it was Rob's first cross race. I got to the line after finishing the first race with about 30 seconds to spare, but with no Rob in sight. The whistle blew and we were off, still no Rob - I yelled to Topher to let Rob know he's missing his race. About 30 seconds later I see him motoring along catching up to us.

There were definitely a few times throughout my race I contemplated dropping out, however I had such a cheering/heckling section I just couldn't do it. I finished the race in 14th place, just behing Rob. The pace was very quick in both races, just longer in the B race. This was my first day of doing both races.

Next up for me is Phillipsburg cross on Sunday Dec 7th. Then I think that is it for the season then? Hope everyone has good Thanksgiving!

-matt

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mercer Cup Mudfest 2008..

This past weekend was the Mercer Cup USGP Cyclocross race in Trenton, NJ. I attended only the Sunday mudfest, although a few friends were slinging mud on Saturday as well.

Our race started about 30 minutes late as there was a course re-route from the previous days racing. The called us up by the order of registration which I thought would have went well for me but I guess I reg'd later that I thought. Bill Strickland ended up with a front row spot! I was somewhere in the last 3rd or so, with Mark Taylor about a half mile back chillin' on the dock.

I tried to ride as much as possible but that still proved to be a lot of running/walking. Though I swear I've seen the old people in the mall speed-walking faster than we were trudging through peanut butter like mud. Here's a pic of me trying to ride right through some of the other "runners". It probably helped that I had Bowman yelling at me to ride it out, not sure which was faster.

I ended up riding pretty well, and place 27th out of 79 riders, with Taylor coming in 29th after starting further back than I. Damn he's fast on that SS Indy Fab.

The rest of the day was spent drinking, eating, and some cheering/heckling. Pete was gonna get into a fight with Ryan "Rusty Trumbone" Trebon, but Rusty backed down, guess he saw the mullet and got scared.

Next week is the Spring Mount race near Philly, I hope to make that race. See you all there.
-matt

Sunday, November 2, 2008

wow...

I managed to skip an entire month of blogging. I haven't really had anything to talk about, been riding some, working a lot, and eating even more.

My wife and I have been going through a troublesome time, our 6 year old yellow lab Duke, passed away on Saturday from cancer. He was having issues on Tuesday of last week keeping food and water down, so we took him into the vet where they kept him overnight. After some x-rays, blood tests and $600 later, we were told that he was anemic (sp?) and had a lot of mast cells in his blood (cancer indicator)

We were told to take him to Dr. Ann Jeglum in Chalfant, PA for a bone marrow biopsy, which turned out OK, with low count of the mast cells that were found in his blood. After speaking with Dr. Jeglum, she informed us that his spleen was very enlarged and would require an ultrasound to determine what was going on, as well as a blood transfusion to get his red blood cell count up. There was a potential to have to remove his spleen.

Fast forward to Thursday morning, Dr. Jeglum called my cell and told me that Duke had to have his spleen removed right away or he would die, because there was a 6 cm mass (a little smaller than a tennis ball) had ruptured and was bleeding into his stomach. So we made the decision to have this $2500 required surgery with the hopes that the mast cell hadn't spread and/or caused any more tumors.

Friday morning we went and picked him up from the surgery center to transfer him to Dr. Jeglum's office in West Chester, he was moving really slow and not really perking up the way they wanted him to. He was however happy to see us, which was nice to see some resemblance of our Duke. We had a really difficult time getting him into the car, and an even harder time getting him out of the car. We got a stretcher and loaded him onto it to get him into the office, after he was checked out by Dr. Jeglum, she met with us to give us an update. If he gets through the recovery of the splenectomy, we would attempt to treat the cancer with steroids and possibly chemotherapy.

Saturday morning I called off from work and headed down to visit him at the vet. We got to the office and hung out in the waiting room for the doctor to take us back. A few minutes later we heard a pretty loud howl, hoping it wasn't Duke. The doctor came out to bring us back and as soon as we got to him he was arresting. That was a terrible site, as well as seeing the brain reaction causing his head to move while we were standing over him.

I know this probably wasn't the post anyone wanted to read and I certainly didn't want to write about it. But I figured if you see me out and about, and didn't quite understand why I might not be myself, you'd at least know why. Sorry for long sad story. Thank you to all my friends and family for their support during this trying time.

Trying to keep my mind off things, I got to ride two days in a row at Salisbury. Saturday late afternoon I did a loop on the SS 29'er, and about a minute into the ride I was kinda spacing out and ran my front tire right into a stump just of the trail sending me about 15 feet down the trail face first. I got up and brushed myself off with no "real" injuries, and headed back out to ride awhile. I realize a few minutes later that I had dropped my water bottle in the crash, so I had to right back up to get it. At that point I almost just rode back to the car and headed home, however I grabbed my bottle and went back out to do the normal loop.

I was out there for awhile before I even saw another rider, as I went up the switchback climb I caught up to John Eoiro (sp?) a local MASS racer that I had met once or twice before. We finished the ride together and grabbed some good mexican food at La Lupina in Bethlehem, near Lehigh. I was cool to just chill and shoot the breeze about riding and racing with someone else who shares our love for racing, and it kept my mind off emotions.

Sunday I headed back out to Sals and did a double loop at Sals. I put in about 4 hours total with probably a bit over 3 hours ride time. Lots of riders out there, and lots of flats. Turns out Dan K. had 4 flats throughout the day, I was able to escape with only one. However, that one did ruin a brand new Maxxis Crossmark tire, at least for tubeless use - with about an inch long gash in the tread. By the end of the ride my right knee was starting to hurt again from a crash 2 weeks ago on the new rocky switchback downhill at Sals.

I'll try to keep posting a little more regularly moving forward. See you all on the trails!

-matt

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's finally over...

The 2008 XC season has finally come to a close. After 26 races I can say I'm happy to just ride some cool rides with some good friends. This season has been great, both results and friendships & cool rides.

The Bear Creek finals were today, and it seems like there was a great showing of all the teams out today. I think the intent with the double points was to increase attendance of this race, which some have regarded very technical. I think Chuck and the guys at Bear Creek did a great job on the trails, and organizing this event.

The race started with a short prologue lap to the start/finish area. Sport had 2 laps to complete at 7 miles a lap, while Expert/Elite had to do 3 laps. I can't imagine doing another lap, especially not at the pace those guys ride. My plan for the day was to ride smooth and stay with the leaders and try to make my move later in the race. That kinda worked, as I kept an eye on Nick Capriotti from Loweriders (season champion) I just didn't have it to make the move later on, and I finished a minute off the lead.

With the 2nd place today that was my 7th race for points and the double points allowed me to drop a 9th place at the first Fair Hill race. I was sitting 3rd in points and todays race bumped me to 2nd place Sport Senior II. And today was also my last sport race, there I said it. Look for me at the back of the Expert Vet 1 pack next year.

I'd like to give some props to the recently upgraded to sport from beginner rider (Dave I think) He rode a really strong race and was hanging with Nick, just ahead of me until he bobbled in one of the rock gardens. I later found out he then sliced a front tire in two spots, with no tube he dnf'd. That sucks for your first sport race, but great job on the upgrade!

Congratulations to all the riders/teams out there on the podium today. Hope to see you all out on the trails in the off-season.

Pics to follow tomorrow or the next day.

-matt

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seasons...

Well, the XC season is just about over, and a lot of people are already racing cross. From what I know and have seen about cross, I'm not sure its for me since running just seems to defeat the purpose of riding :) But I'm sure I'll race it anyway just to stay fit, otherwise I'll take a big exhale and lose the "fitness" I've worked towards this season.

I need to continue preparing for next year, more distance and faster pace. I'm just about at my limit of time in a sport race, at least at race pace. Therefore I really need to work on my endurance this off-season.

Yesterday a friend and I went for what was supposed to be a short ride to grab some breakfast. We rode about 5 miles, grabbed some grub and headed back out on the road. After we crossed over rt 61 (where they are doing some construction) we couldn't get back to the road I wanted. So we went over Hawk Mountain, something I really didn't want to do. But, I really tried to pace myself of the climb - which I don't usually pace myself well.

Here is the elevation profile for the climb, I really thought it was longer than that. I need to find some local long steady climbs, so send me your recommendations of longer climbs.

Hope everyone is having fun at Nittany Cross today, seems like perfect racing weather this morning. And I'll see you all at Bear Creek tomorrow.

-matt

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cross season..

Well it seems cross season is upon us, funny that XC isn't even over yet. I have a weeks vacation from work, so I actually had a Saturday off. This morning Mike Yozell put on a cross clinic for about 8 people at a park near SMC.

This was a really helpful session, with a lot of dismount, mount and bike lifting drills. I had some issues with my dismount before these exercises, and after it was a much smoother, more fluid movement. I'm still having some issues with the remount, doing a stutter step on my left side and kinda hopping on the bike. Mike showed us that it's more swinging your right leg onto the saddle mid-thigh while running rather than jumping/springing onto the saddle.

There is a cross race at Bear Creek put on by Ray Ignosh next weekend the 13th and 14th. Should be a fun event, and just a week before the MASS season finale. I've seen a lot of people out pre-riding Bear Creek and the conditions are amazing and the crew there has done a lot of work on the trails, great job!!

Hope to see everyone out the in 2 weeks to battle it out for the series.

-matt

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vandals...


While I was out riding Bear Creek with some of the Bikesport crew, my Element was attacked by a zip tie vandal. The plan was to put in 3 hours, however after 2 laps of the race course that was only an hour and a half or so, so I road over to SMC for some coffee and a slice from Armetta's - make sure you order the well done crust, it's the best.

On the way back up Mountain Rd the rain started - fortunately it wasn't coming down too hard yet! I got back to my car to find this

This is only one of the quick pics, there were zip ties all over the rack, making if very difficult in the lightning and pouring rain to rack the bike. They were on the windshield wipers, rendering them near useless from the skipping, the mirrors were all jacked up and the fuel door was open.

All I can say to the responsible party is that payback's a bitch!

Let the games begin.

-matt

Monday, August 4, 2008

Blog name change??

Maybe I should re-name the blog "Slackura Matt" as I've been really slacking on the updates. Not much to update with no races going on, other than Bear Creek short track which was last Tuesday.

I won the "B" race and came in 4th in the "A" race. I have been trying to ride there a fair bit, preparing for the MASS finale at Bear Creek. Chuck's got some nice things planned for the XC loop.

Yesterday Chuck, Mike Melnick and I road some laps of the proposed XC course (some stuff may change). The weather was great and conditions were superb!! After the ride, Chuck and I road over to SMC for some coffee and snacks, I was trying to put in a bit over 3 hours. We got back to Bear Creek a little of the prescribed 3 hours and I can definately say that I was pretty tired after this ride.

The 29'er has to get torn down and needs a little love, it's creaking from everywhere. The new Lefty cartridge should be here tomorrow as I lost my lock out at the Tuesday short track, then lost some oil in the fork on Sunday (contaminating my pads and rotor) That's always nice to have to relace $25-$30 pads because your fork pisses oil out the bottom. Oh well, at lease they are sending the (revised) replacement parts.

That's it for now - I'll try to keep things a little more up to date for those that check in.

-matt

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fair Hill...

Today was the 2nd race at Fair Hill, with this one being the Fair Hill Classic. This is the longest race in the MASS but very fast, my average speed 11mph. They pushed back our start time 15 minutes to 11am, I guess they wanted to give the Experts a little more time so they didn't have to pass us.

The race started just a bit after 11:00, and it was definitely hot though not as hot as last year. The pace off the line was quite fast, with Nick and Bill from Loweriders setting the fast pace. I tried my best to stay with them but fell back a little and was sitting in 4th place for awhile. It was really nice that they had some water stops along the course, definitely helpful with keeping the temps down by splashing water on my neck and back.

After one of those water stops I got passed by 2 riders and I tried to jump on and hang but couldn't pick up the pace. Through "Crack Head Bob" a really twisty section I was riding pretty smooth but didn't seen anyone (the trail weaves back and forth soo much and there is no sight line, so it feels as though you are out there alone). Once out of the the twisty stuff there was a bit of climbing and I spotted a few riders and picked up the pace to try to finish somewhat strong.

Down the last bit of singletrack I spotted the 4th and 5th place rider and sprinted to catch and pass them (the one guy was cramping pretty bad). So I ended in 4th place, but apparently the 1st place rider felt he cut the course as he was 6 or 7 minutes in front of Nick from Loweriders. He did the right thing and reported the accidental course cut to the timing people, and they DNF'd him moving Nick into 1st place and me up to third. I was 2 minutes 44 seconds behind Nick which seems about right as he won the first Fair Hill race earlier in the year but about the same margin.

I got a cool pint glass for third, a metal, and a trip the prize table. I grabbed a shock pump which I was just telling Mike and Lisa that I needed a new one earlier in the day. Now I've got almost 2 months off before Bear Creek, where I need to do really well to secure some double points to make up for missing Granogue, Sewell, and Neshaminy.

-matt

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tandemonium...

Tonight was one of the few Friday nights at the Velodrome - oh whoops the Valley Preferred Cycling Center which is there new name. It was tandemonium night, which is very cool to see tandems battling it out on the track.

Ray Ignosh and Andy Kuklis the local Emmaus contingent were battling it out for a podium spot and I think they succeeded with a 3rd place overall. Kuklis looks soo unhappy as the stoker, well he always looks unhappy when racing at the track.

I rode the brunch with some Nodales and lunch with the Rodale/Nodale crew. Nodales = non Rodale employees on the lunch ride. Brad Ford chose the route for the day as it was his birthday (I won't give away his age as it suprised me - and I'll let you all wish him a happy belated and ask him for yourselves). The route choice was Mill loop, with the plan for the day being to sit in not to "try" for any sprints or kom's. Not that this is difficult as I can't possbily hang with these guy's in a sprint anyway.

I am getting fired up for Fair Hill since it's my last MASS race until Bear Creek. I might throw an H2H race or two in the mix just to stay fresh and to experiment with pacing options. I'm gonna try sitting in a little bit rather than just going out too hard and blowing up and slowing down my 2nd lap.

See you Sunday!

-matt

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Official training time..

So I guess it's time to get re-motivated to train again. I did some 20 minute sub-lt intervals yesterday recording HR and using my newly acquired Powertap wheel I recorded power as well. I know it's a bit much as far as gadgets go, but sometimes the numbers really help me stay focused.

Here is a graph from SportTracks without the power, as I don't have the correct download cable yet.

I hope to actually do a 20 minute threshold power test to see where I'm at now, and to compare for future tests. Its pretty amazing how much stuff affects wattage on the road. I tried holding a constant 200-220 range and keeping it steady is very difficult. I guess after using the PT for awhile I'll get it more figured out.

Hope to the weather holds out for Fair Hill and see you all there.

-matt

Monday, July 7, 2008

Visit PA Stage Racing...

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend! The weekend Stage race and mountain bike festival at Marysville was a total blast. However, today I'm pretty tired from all the racing.

The weekend started out with packing the car on Friday morning in the rain and heading to Marysville to setup camp. Fortunately it was dry when we got there and we were able to get everything unpacked and setup before the rain returned. After chilling out for a while, drinking some Mad Hatter IPA and shooting the breeze with some fellow racers, it was time for the night time trial.

The night tt is probably one of the coolest events of the weekend, with riders going out every 30 seconds starting around 9pm and riding a roughly 4 mile course. Most of the course winds between through the XC race course, though sometimes in different directions. I was able to do the loop in 23.5 minutes securing 5th in Sport "A" and 1st in my age group.

Saturday morning was really different for me as I didn't have to wake up really early and "race" to the race. I was already there and didn't start until 12:30, so this was a welcome change to the normal race day prep for me. Beginners went off around 9am which was cool as they went right by our campsite. Our race started right on time and I was sitting in 4th place for a bit and was able to pick off one racer moving me into 3rd where I would end up for the race. I definately need to work on some core stuff and endurance as I was really tired by the 2nd lap.

Later that night they did some awards from the XC races and swag toss. The Spokes team had some great results at this race, although we would've liked more to come and enjoy this cool weekend of racing. There was a trials demo by Topher, Austin Carter and a few other - it was really cool to see what some of these guys can do on a bike.

Sunday morning began with some bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Not sure if this was the best breakfast choice with the hill climb and short track still to come, but it sure tasted good!! I hadn't done the hill climb last year so I had no idea what to expect. It was 2.5 mile climb out of the farm on some dirt, some gravel and some road. My plan was to just keep Travis and Gunnar in sight and I knew I would do well in Sport "A". The worked well as I chased those guys up the hill and got 7th overall and 1st again in my age group.

After some much needed chill time, short track was next. Sport "A" racers were set for 20 minutes of pain. This was a really cool loop about .50 mile and we did 10 laps in just a bit over 20 minutes. I was very happy with how this race turned out as well, I think I got 7th overall and 1st in my age group as well.

I should have secured myself the 1st place points for the Stage races towards an extra XC race. This is something I really need as I won't be able to get to Iron Hill and missed Granogue, Sewell, and Neshaminy. After next week's Fair Hill race, I'll be done racing until Bear Creek so this is a dangerous time for me. Last year during this break from racing I kinda stopped riding all together - so I'm gonna try really hard to stay motivated and get ready for Bear Creek as that counts for 2 XC races as well.

Hope to see everyone at Fair Hill where I hope to not get smoked on the drag strip by all the big ring mashers. See you Sunday.

Pictures from the week should be up by tomorrow.

-matt

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Updates...


I did some hill hunting on the road bike, trying to find some good hill repeat intervals. I found the backside of Hawk Mtn from rt 143 to be a decent steady climb about 2.5 miles total climb. I was running a bit short on time so I just road there from home and did a 10 minute climb and back to the house. Here's a pic of the scenery on the way.

This weekend is the Stage race at Marysville! I just received word there are a few more events for Saturday. The events are Bike Polo, a trials event with course design by Topher Inc., and a dual slalom trike race. Go here for the most up to the minute updates.



All in all this sounds like it's gonna be a great weekend with a bunch of good friends and fun races. Hurry up and pre-register as it closes tomorrow at noon. See you all in Marysville.

-matt

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Short track...

Tuesday night was the 3rd month of the Bear Creek short track Xc series put on by SMC. I figured since I was off work and testing out how the ribs were feeling, I would check it out.

The ribs felt ok, and everything went well in the first race. I was able to go out front and stay there for all 3 laps. Gunnar was on my wheel for awhile until he bobbled in one of the rock gardens and a few guys got by him. Then it was Evan chasing me the whole rest of the race, another bobble and Evan was gone, leaving me in first, Dave Joachim in 2nd, and Evan in 3rd.

The second race was a whole different story! I was chasing Yozell, Lath, Vegan Rob and Topher - damn these guys can ride. I obviously have no chance of hanging with these guys, I'm just using that race as a learning experience and a little longer workout. These guys ride soo smooth and fast that its ridiculous.

The first 3 laps went fine and I was sitting mid-pack, then on the 4th lap I flatted in one of the rocky areas after the start/finish area. I probably had about 10 seconds on John Eurio at this point and he got by me while I was trying to get the Stan's to seal the cut - not happening.

I walked back to the finish area to fix my flat to do the 3rd (fun) race. This month was a miss and out in the gravel parking lot. This was an issue for me as apparently I can't corner for shit, I crashed 2 or 3 times, with one of them grinding my right bicep into Dan's rear wheel while trying to pass him.

So while trying to heal my ribs, it was probably a bad idea to take chances after riding clean up till then. Yeah well, at least I have a little time until Marysville. Head on over to Bikereg.com to register for this cool event. I'm really looking forward to a full weekend of camping, drinking, and even racing.

See you all there!

-matt

Monday, June 23, 2008

No XC for me...


I was contemplating doing the XC race at Neshaminy on Sunday, but with the way my ribs were feeling I through that idea out the window. In lieu of racing, I called Dan to see if he was up for a chill road ride.

Dan was doing some family stuff, then called Cody to arrange a 12:30 meet at the Velodrome. We left from the parking lot around 12:45 for a leasure paced ride towards Kutztown. The pace started to pick up as I was testing out the ribs while sprinting every hill on the way out. We stopped that the Bagel House in Kutztown for some iced coffee.

Instead of just heading back east the same way, I convinced them into heading northeast a bit for some hills and a little more distance. We weaved our way through some backroads in Berks county, needing some water we all stopped at a gas station for bottle refills. It seems that helped Dan and Cody to make it back to the cars.
At first when I saw this pic I thought Dan was throwing gang signs.
Once back at the Velodrome, Cody headed home and I told Dan I would ride home with him since I made the ride a little longer and faster than planned. So by the end of the day I had a little over 50 miles and a total time of 3.5 hours with a fair amount of stopped time.
When I got back to the Velodrome I saw Taylor going out for a ride on a borrowed Wilier which is one sweet bike. I headed home to go to dinner with my wife and in-laws. A couple Sam Adams lager's and a filet later I was feeling pretty good! I even forgot my ribs hurt, until I tried sleeping - that's a real challenge right now.

-matt

Friday's bruised ribs & mullets...

Dan, Mike and I went to Rattling Creek on Friday morning for what is supposed to be the best singletrack in PA. We did a little over 20 miles of almost all the singletrack there, most of which reminded me of the Stoopid 50.

On the way to the ride I stopped at a little gas station at the bottom of the mountain, and saw this amazing site --->

That is probably the craziest mullet I've seen, so much so that we had to play stealthy paparazzi and grab a pic.

The riding there is very cool, with some of the most flowing singletrack around. There were a bunch of mountain laurel plants along the trail and room for one bike on the trail with very little sight-line to rail the corners.
After Mike put a bounty on the next rock garden of 2 gel packs for cleaning it (Fawns Ridge), I got a little cocky and my front wheel got caught up on a rock so I tried to trackstand it for a sec and then hop the front end over it. Well I didn't succeed, I went down like a ton of bricks and jacked my ribs and hip up.
Here are a few pics from the day.



Now my ribs really hurt, guess that should be like another 4-6 weeks of pain.
-matt

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stoopid 50 - err Stoopid 40 for me...

This Sunday was the 2nd annual Stoopid 50 in State College, PA. I did this race last year and finished in 6 hours 59 minutes. I really wanted to beat my time last year by at least an hour, I figured that was feasible with better fitness and some longer rides than last year.

I arrived Saturday night around 8pm, set up camp, grab some spaghetti dinner, and watch a movie at the pavillion. Sunday morning started with packing up the tent, then enjoying some pancakes and coffee. The race started promptly at 9am with about 3 miles of road/gravel road then entered some sweet singletrack. There was quite a bit of bottle-necking early on with a few mud bogs and muddy bridges.

When the traffic cleared it was a blast, until at about 7 miles I heard my rear tire hissing - hopefully the Stan's would fix it, not a chance. I pulled off the side of the trail and there was about a 1/4" slice in the tread, so in goes a tube and there goes 25-30 riders right by me. Now of course I'm in chase mode (read: time to blow up)

I passed right the through the first aid station and up the gravel road towards the hike-a-bike. Boy was that fun, it felt like we were walking forever. Finally at the top, you have a nice break from climbing for a bit, some sweet decents on some really cool singletrack. I made a turn onto the road exiting the singletrack and caught up to Mike Carter who also had a flat. We was climbing really strong and pulled away from me up the next long (2 mile) steady climb. That was the last I saw Mike until the end.

At about mile 30 my stomach started feeling pretty bad and my legs were cramping pretty badly. I felt as though I was drinking and eating enough - I guess not though. I pulled in the aid station around mile 33 and those people were great! They filled my camelback with water, my bottles with Heed, gave me a sandwich and a cup of Coke. I grabbed my drop bag, downed some sportlegs and E-caps and headed out. The next couple of miles were really cool sweeping rollercoaster like singletrack, with a few climbs thrown in.

Now the rocks were starting again, usually I'm pretty good on the rocks but by this point I was riding pretty sloppy. I rolled up to area where the guy was taking pictures through the one rock garden, and I was walking! After walking the rock slabs, I jumped back on the bike and cruised down to the next road crossing around mile 40, this is the point where I was really done. There was a guy hanging out at his truck and offered to give me a ride back to the start/finish area. I unfortunately took him up on the offer - my first DNF. While we were driving back to the finish I saw Mike Carter riding strong to a 5:47 finish!!

I rolled though the timing table and told them I DNF'd, went to the car and cleaned up. After getting some food I started to feel a little better, but also glad I didn't do the last 9 miles. So the Stoopid 50 ended up being the Stoopid 40 for me. They had a really cool pint glass for the riders - fortunately not just the finishers.

I hung out and talked with a few friends and then headed out on the 2 hour drive home. I guess if I really want to do these longs rides I should start riding a bit more. Seems to me that I'm a bit more suited towards the 2 hours and under events.

Hopefully the weather will hold out for the Neshaminy XC race this weekend. Look like some rain is headed our way for a few days. This is a day of registration only, since it doesn't drain all that well I guess. See you all there.

-matt

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Racers wanted:

One of the coolest mountain bike weekends is rapidly approaching, the 2008 Visit PA Mountain Bike Stage Race and Festival Weekend. For those who have not attended this event, you have really missed out on some fun, so make sure you go here to pre-register for the event.

The event is held at the Oesterling Farm (map) in Marysville, PA near Harrisburg. There is a night time trial, XC race, endurance race, short track race, and a hill climb. For those who can't make all the XC races in the MASS series, you can earn the equivilant of 1 xc race by doing the short track, night time trial, and the hill climb.

Kyle Hammaker's family handle a lot of the food concessions, and they do a great job! Mike Kuhn's family & friends handle pretty much everything else - and these folks know how to promote a race and party!! Hopefully the band from US Open MTB Relay return, because those guys rocked!

Hope to see you all there, and bring the whole family as there are a lot of things for the rest of the family to do.

-matt

Monday, June 9, 2008

Danville = hurt!

Yesterday was the Tour De Tykes XC race, the 5th race in the M.A.S.S. The temps were in the mid 90's, which made for a very challenging day for any course. However, Danville boasts that they have the most climbing per mile of other races.


It would seem that they didn't lie, as this was the most difficult XC race I've down yet. I'm sure the temps had something to do with that, as I saw quite a few people DNF due to heat issues.

They did something different this year, a mass start of the whole sport class and your time started when you crossed the timing mat. Theoretically this would allow all the traffic to spread out on the climb before entering the singletrack, not sure if I like this method as you can't really rely on chasing the top guys or you don't know if you are in the lead.

My result was a good one - with a 3rd place finish. That was however, 8 minutes off the leader - damn that's a long time back. The rest of the Spokes team had a very good day as well! Seems like its time for chilling in the A/C since today its gonna be 95* as well, and almost 100* heat index.

-matt

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bike friday..

My Friday day off program dealt me some nice weather, and I got a chance to ride with Aaron on some of his favorite trails. It's a good thing for me he had an easy day planne. We met at 9am and rode for a few hours, I'm sure he felt like he was being interviewed with all the questions I was asking him. I'm trying to see what the REALLY fast people do for training, and get some insight into my own riding.

I recently had an issue with my Garmin 305, to which the company hooked my up with some great customer service and helped me with an upgrade from the defective unit to the 705. This is an actual mapping GPS with all the features of the 305 and some power meter options as well. I got to test out the unit and recorded our ride for future rides at the same place.

The next great customer service story I have for the day is regarding Stan's No Tubes. I had recently got some 29'er 355 wheels from them, however the rear wheel was creaking and had some weird tensions. Maybe that was too light of a wheel for my riding, but they rebuilt the wheel to an Arch - supposedly approximately 20% stronger rim.

I sent the wheel to them on Tuesday afternoon, with them only being in New York it was there on Wednesday. They rebuilt the wheel late Wednesday and shipped it back to me Thursday, I received it Friday afternoon. Now that is some crazy FAST turnaround - Thanks to Mike @ Stan's. These guys have been a really great sponsor.

Next on the schedule, Danville (in the 95* heat) followed by Stoopid 50 in State College on the 15th. Last year I did this race in 6:59 - this year I'd really like to do sub 6 hours. That may not be much of a goal for a lot of others - since that would still be like 50th place in last years results.


-matt

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lewis Morris Challenge..

I made the last minute call this morning to take the trip to Morristown, NJ for the Marty's Reliable Cycles Lewis Morris Challenge. This is part of the Campmor H2H series, a NY and NJ series.

We were set to do 3 laps of a 7 mile fast, few roots, couple rocks and a fair bit of climbing. They sent the SS class out first, followed by the 19-29 a minute later, then us 30-39 a minute later. That was 2 classes 30-34 and 35-39 starting together but being timed apart.

The trails were perfect! Fast, flowing non technical singletrack, with a gravel climb at the start of each lap. I took the wholeshot and didn't let up, however one guy in my class got by me up a climb that I tried to power up but it was a little longer than I though. However, he broke a chain shortly after that, putting me back in the lead. About 3/4 of the way through the 1st lap one of the 35-39 guys caught me and we rode the rest of the race together. I figured he would take the overall 30-39 win, but he started pulling back a little (cramping). Nearing the finish I threw it in the big ring, locked the fork and sprinted as fast as I could as I saw a few guys just behind me coming on fast. Turns out it wasn't anybody in my class, a few younger and 2 older guys.

So I took the overall 30-39 win, although this wasn't confirmed by results, podium, or medals. Apparently they had some timing difficulties, after waiting about an hour for results we found out they probably wouldn't have it figured out today.

After my race I saw Aaron and Matt (the fast guys) getting ready to warm up for their 5 laps of Pro/SemiPro racing. I feel as though 3 laps is enough, so I'm not looking forward to doing any more laps next year.

While waiting around I got see the really fast guys take off, and saw Aaron come through for a 25ish minute first lap! That is smoking fast! I didn't hit the lap button on the Garmin but checked as I passed through, 1st lap 31 ish, 2nd lap 33 ish, and 3rd 33ish for a 1:37. Right where I wanted to be from checking previous years results.

Time for some sleep!

-matt

Friday, May 30, 2008

Slacker updates...

Well it seems I've been slacking on updating the blog. Busy work schedule and beautiful weather has been to blame.

This is the view I get to enjoy during road rides near my house. It would seem that I should stay local more than I do, however I prefer riding with other people vs. riding alone. I forgot my camera so the iPhone was up for the job, the only thing that sucks is the aspect ratio it takes pics.



Tuesday night was the 2nd SMC Bear Creek Short Track Series for the season. I was able to rush out of work and get there in time to warm up on the new course. This loop was a little longer than last month, a little less technical, but with more climing in my opinion.

I rode the first race and came in 2nd place, chasing Gunnar Bergey the whole time, last month was the exact opposite. That kid is FAST!! If he keeps it up this kid is gonna kick some ass in the jr expert class real soon. Keep it up!


Here are a few pics my wife took from the Short Track race. In all the blurry pics you'll notice that I'm chasing the really fast guys. The pictures of me alone are either of chasing Gunnar or the "A" race guys.

Sunday I hope to race the Marty's Reliable Cycles Lewis Morris Challenge. Now I'm off the head to SMC to meet up for the Rodale lunch ride.

-matt

Friday, May 23, 2008

Passing the torch...

Apparently I've passed the torch to Duane as the FME (Fastest Man in Emmaus) This is a title that Bill Strickland came up with. You'll have to ask him the true meaning - I can only assume it is only partially true and partially a joke?? On to some actual riding info.

I got to enjoy some road miles with the Rodale/Nodale brunch/lunch ride crew. This is a really fun road group - although I don't love road riding, I would much rather be on dirt. I have done more road training this year than previous, seems a lot easier on the body. On any give ride you could find a few local pros road racers, a national champion expert racer, some really fast track racers, and some folks like myself (mere mortals).

We did a total of 40 miles with 3300 feet of climbing in about 2hrs 40min. This was my first ride of the week and was quite challenging. I like how these folks push the pace on the climbs, although most times I can't hold the pace.

After some coffee, a slice of pizza, and some post ride conversation, I headed home to feed the puppies and head out for the Spokes Bike Shop shop ride. We ride Blue Marsh from Old Church Rd and do roughly 13 miles. It takes a little over 2 hours, for some riding, regrouping, and just messing around.

I figured I had to make up for not riding all week, weather sucking and lack of motivation. I want wish all the Granogue riders good luck and it looks like they should have some great weather. I wish I could be out there with them, but unfortunately work has to be a priority sometimes.

Enjoy your holiday weekend with some great weather and good rides.

-matt

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Interesting read...

I was checking out Bill Strickland's blog and stumbled upon a really interesting article he wrote for Mountain Bike magazine in '99. I figured I would pass along the link for everyone who hasn't read it to enjoy.

How true are these statements in your life?

-matt

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5/18 Lehigh Ride..

Today was gonna be a tour of Lehigh and Salisbury for some folks that haven't ridden around here, and it turned out to be a couple locals having a good time before the rain hit.


The plan was to meet Keith, Christine, & Dan at SMC to carpool over to Lehigh for a couple hours of fun before the impending rain. When I arrived at SMC, Dan was already there and Keith & Christine were getting their gear and bikes all together - only to find a flat rear tire on Christine's bike. She figures she'll change it at Lehigh, so we all jump in our cars and head to the trail.

We met Frank at the parking area, only to find another mechanical issue (this one a little more severe), he cracked the face plate on his Thompson stem, leaving the bike out of commission. He returned home to grab another bike while the flat was being fixed, then we headed in for some great trails.

After as much rain as we had for the past couple days I had expected some areas to be more muddy, but was very happy to see that the trails dried up well. It was almost the perfect mix of dirt/mud for traction. I led the group through Crazy Bones, I got to race a deer down the powerline, then we climbed up Ono (lungbuster) out to the Goat (a tough rock garden) to meet up with Frank on his super pimpy Superfly.

Here's a blurry pic of Frank flying through the Goat, he's going so fast I can barely capture it on film. Gotta love those 29" wheels.

It seems that the 29'ers claimed the rock gardens for the day as Frank, Keith and I went through the Goat like it was paved.

Some more climbing was still in order as we went up Superman, a 12 or 13 turn very tough switchback climb which is fairly technical at points with a few short recovery points. At the top we saw the SVB crew out on their normal Sunday Loop. This group can be as few as 2 and I've seen as many as over a dozen riders on this ride. As the saying goes, what goes up must come down, we descended for a bit (thankfully) as I think everyone was tired of climbing (except for maybe Frank).

We finished out the day with the Channel 39 loop, some rim trail, a quick downhill through Deer path, and a wet rocky Wayne's World crossing. Only 9.5 miles of trail were ridden in about 2 hours and 25 minutes, but we finished just in time for the rain to start (perfect timing). As we were all tired and ready for coffee, we headed back to Emmaus for some SMC coffee.

I'm glad those who showed up did and sad those that couldn't make it didn't. I hope the people that couldn't make it get to come out and enjoy what amazing trails we are lucky enough to have in our area. Some of what Lehigh has to offer makes a lot of other areas seem like paved bike paths.

Good luck to all the lucky ones who will be racing Granogue next week, I have to work and will regretfully miss this great race which Marc organizes in honor of Andrew Mein. There is also a raffle to benefit HERA Womens Cancer Foundation, so buy some tickets - you don't even need to be present to win!!

-matt

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reward...


At French Creek, they gave out some nice pint glasses to the top 3 in each sport/expert/beginner class. So this is what I filled it with, some Mad Hatter IPA from Shangy's in Emmaus, PA. They also give a medal for top 3 as well.

-matt

Saturday, May 10, 2008

French Creek..

The weather held out for the French Creek M.A.S.S. race. They pushed back the start times 1 hour for each class and dropped the Endurance down to 5 hours. The park rangers were diverting parking from the upper fields where everyone parked last year, down to the surrounding parking lots, most of which are about a mile away from the start.

The race started the same as last year up to the cabins, however instead of going left down the washout, we turned right and climbed for awhile. The was a group of about 5 of us leading up the gravel climb, then a few dropped off and it was just Nick Capriotti and I up the washed out climb. We caught a couple of the senior 1 guys, fortunately they were cool about moving aside.

I had no idea what was coming next, fortunately Nick knew the course and I was content just following him for awhile to pace myself. Up the short section of road we picked off a couple more senior 1's to put some places between us and the rest of the group. Then came a nice rocky downhill, Nick was taking it a little easier than I wanted to go, so I passed him. I really starting picking up the pace and rockin' this downhill to put a gap on him. I thought I flatted going down this section, I must've hit the rim quite a few times.

Through the next few climbs and singletrack I couldn't see anyone chasing my down so I thought I was in the clear. A few minutes later I saw one of the Loweriders crew (I thought it was Nick) back a little way. I tried kicking up my pace just a bit more and was holding my lead, then came the beginning of the end - CRASH, hard. I smacked a pedal on the last downhill switchback and got shot off the bike, smashing my forearm into a rock - instant lump. I jumped up all flustered and about 150 feet later same damn thing happened, now I gotta calm myself down a bit. After the downhill you shoot out onto the road and you're supposed to make a left back into the trail towards the finish. I say supposed to because I noticed the flags for the turn a little late and grabbed some brake and the bike washed right out from under me and I slid for about 20 feet on my left side. There goes first place, the Lowerider's guy got by me, I jump back on the bike and attack with as much as I got. 3.5 seconds back - I got my best XC finish yet 2nd place and at a place like French Creek with all the rocks and a good amount of climbing (not my strong point)

So 3 crashes later, a little clean up, some recovery drink and an excellent burger from the Nudy family - apparently they were running the concessions there. Their sons are some really fast expert racers in the MASS.

The Spokes Bike Shop team had a great day! Mike got 6th in expert, John - 1st in beginner, Lance - 2nd in Sport master 1, Lisa - 6th in beginner, Stanley - 12 in beginner.

The Emmaus crew were all camping at the park, and I was invited to chill with them for a bit. These folks really know how to camp and party - they were cooking some great food. We had some killer nachos, some steak, and a really good pasta dish with grilled salmon. Hoping to not be in too much trouble for being out all day I headed home to chill with Christine.

I think we're gonna go to the Rodale crit race tomorrow morning, my first road race. Its only 12 laps (1 mile laps) so I'm hoping to do well and ask?? for an upgrade to Cat 4. Bill gave me some pointers, so I'm thankful for that.

-matt

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Big wheel vs. little wheels..


Today I woke up early to ride Sals before work with Weldon, after getting only 2.5 hours of sleep. For some reason I couldn't sleep last night, so I cleaned the Caffiene and did some maintentance on my little wheel bike (Rush). I found that the seatpost was cracked right where the binder bolt is - damn carbon posts, or damn me for probably tightening it too much.

So I'm considering taking the Rush to French Creek this weekend, wondering if the suspension is a better choice than the hardtail there. So to make sure everything is all good with the bike I rode Sals, I could definately feel the difference IMMEDIATELY in the wheel size. I felt a lot closer to the ground and the bike just felt twitchy, I guess I just got used to the slower steering 29'er. I still really like the 29'er just want a little suspension.

The bike definately didn't flow the same through rock gardens, but I was appreciating the rear suspension all over again. I find myself getting fatigued on longer rides, mainly lower back area on the hardtail. So now this has me thinking of selling the Rush and maybe the Caffiene and picking up a Niner Jet9, I'm just having a hard time with the retail only pricing. I hate paying retail.

Now I'm really tired though, 2.5 hours of sleep, 1.5 hour Sals ride at 6:15am and work (well sit here) from 9am-9pm. Makes for a long day!

Thats all for now, I'll update if the bikes are getting sold and a FS 29'er is in the works.

-matt

Monday, May 5, 2008

Michaux Maximus...

Saturday night I got my bike all ready to race on Sunday morning. Although I wasn't sure where I was gonna race, it was either Michaux 25 mile rocky race or 2 laps of Wawayanda (another national qualifier). I was gonna make the call Sunday morning based on weather.

I decided to take the closer drive to Gettysburg area for the Michaux Maximus 25 mile - which turned out to be the right decision weather wise. It couldn't have been nicer weather for the actual race, chilly at the start with the sun coming out shortly and warming up nicely with just enough cooling breeze.

I first did this race as a beginner XC race 2 years ago and had a blast - the promoter puts on a hell of a race. This year was no different, apparently last year though they got rid of the XC and went to just an endurance series with a 10/25/50 mile option.

Right from the start we got to race in some fresh singletrack which was cool but kinda sucked at the same time. It really seems that once it is all ridden in, that will be some really sweet singletrack. Mud and water holes were the next thing thrown at us and all I could think about was where are all the rocks I remember. I guess they had the same idea when planning the course, because before I knew it there were the rocks I was looking for.

The lead group was 3 guys and myself, with Lath Carlson and Mike Yozell passing us quickly (after starting 2 and 4 minutes later respectively). We then dropped the 4th place guy and kept on moving, next thing about 10 miles in the lead guy flats I get by him and I'm sitting in 2nd in SR. and according to the people at the course crossings I was 8th overall at probably mid-way.

A little later on the guy with the flat passed me somewhere on one of the climbs, only to catch him at Grave's Ridge (I think that's what the locals called it) where he apparently took a bad line and crashed in the rocks. That was a pretty nasty section, but also pretty fun at the same time. As it turns out that area claimed a few injuries. I really starting bombing down the next section trying to put some time between me and that guy.

After the last bit of singletrack the course turned up a dirt road to the finish which seemed to go on forever. I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 46 minutes in 3rd place in the SR class and 10th overall. Somehow the guy that crashed at Grave's Ridge, who never got by me after his crash ended up 5 minutes ahead of me and in 1st place. After talking with the promoter about it the guy admitted to never passing me, so the decision was that he must have "accidentally" cut the course and to move everyone else up a place and he gets a DNF. We all agreed and I went about our post race clean up, eat, and drinking. I was talking to Harlan and Aaron, and a few cars away I hear some yelling and swearing. I look over to see the DNF guy talking to the girl he was with, and she is flipping out about how he can't take DNF (as if there is some negotiation). He must have gone back to the promoter and said he couldn't take a DNF and now he remembers always seeing arrows wherever he was going. What nobody can figure out is how someone can win by 4-5 minutes and never pass me after their crash??

Oh well 3rd place is a great effort, what really sucks is the guy that got 2nd place should've really gotten 1st place. He wasn't around for the whole dispute out the placing. I went up for my pick of the prize table and scored a nice set of carbon flat bars.

The local contingent had a great day, Lath secured 1st in the SS class and took the overall win, Mike Yozell was 2nd in Vet and 3rd overall, Selene took 2nd in the womens class, Kim Dubeck finished her first race pace big mile event - 10th place and ahead of quite a few people, way to go Kim. She's gonna rock it at French Creek - I think she was toying with the competition.

The 50 mile race had the big guns out for some cash payouts. Here's the run down of the top guys - Chris Eatough, Jeff Schalk, TJ Platt, Jon Gwodik, Harlan Price, and Aaron Snyder. Those guys were flying with Chris in just under 4 hours for 50 miles! Topher took 1st in the SS class and 11th overall (on a freaking SS)

French Creek
here we come! Apparently they made this course super hard, with about 17oo feet of climbing per lap. Boy I feel sorry for the people doing the marathon - 6 hours of rocks.

Night all.

-matt

Friday, May 2, 2008

long day...

I had to drop off my wife's new car for its first service at Becker Subaru this morning. Instead of waiting for it, I brought my road bike along to pass the time. I met Brian Wacik for a ride over to the Yozell's house and pick up Erica for a ride before the Rodale lunch ride. We weaved our way through Emmaus, and headed out towards Mertztown and back to SMC to meet for the lunch ride.

14 riders showed up at the North St building for the Walker loop. I still don't know all their loops and when the sprints are and the KOM's (king of the mountains) These guys/gals are really fast, and when the sprints go - it is really on!

Back at the shop, most of the riders went back to work, Brian, Tom, and I met Christina for another ride. We did the Huffs Church loop, "rolling hill's" I was told - but after the 50 miles I had in already the "rolling hills" felt like serious climbs. We looped back to Emmaus to drop off Christina and Tom, then I rode with Brian back to his house and back to Subaru to pick up the car.

First oil change was free - now that is exciting. 80 miles later, and now I'm really tired. That was probably a little too much of a ride if I'm contemplating racing on Sunday. We'll see how tomorrow goes before I make that call.

I hope all the Lehigh Valley people find everything they are looking for at the Spring Velo Swap on Saturday. I of course have to work all day - again.

-matt

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bear Creek short track xc...

South Mountain Cycles put on the first of their short track series tonight. This was my first short track race, and it hurts.

I got outta work just after 5pm and blasted over to Bear Creek to check it out, a few people were there already. I spoke with Dan on the way and he had just left work at around 5:20 and he said he was bringing the new SS 29'er. I saw Bowman at the reg table and signed up for both the sport "B" race and the expert "A" race.

I went out and pre-rode the course, about 45 seconds in following Joe Luby, I overshot a turn due to minimal brakes after Sunday's mudfest. A short time later I went into the rock garden after the bridge a little hot and went over the bars - yeah even on a 29'er it happens. I rolled back to the reg table to possibly bail out on the "A" race and just do the "B" race - I figured with my lack of brakes and I would probably be tired enough after the first race, but I'll make the call after the first race.

Chuck had us roll down to the bottom of the one road for staging. On "1" we go, and we sprint up the hill, a right turn into the singletrack for a little climbing to the log ride/balance beam. The lead group was Gunnar, Joe Luby and me, and Gunnar was rocking the course. I ended up getting by them and grabbing the lead for the next 4 or 5 laps. I averaged about 3 1/2 minute laps for 7 laps.

As I'm riding around cooling down, and hacking up a lung, Topher, Matt Miller, Matty B, Keith R, Mike Yozell, the Nudy brothers, Matty K and another guy I didn't know were getting ready to head down to the start area with Chuck, so I decided to suck it up and do the "A" race after all. Again we go on "1" and sprint was on with Mike Yozell, Topher, Matt Miller and a few others were off fast. I was feeling a little tired from the first race, but kept on moving. Matty B, Keith, Dj and I were battling it out most of the race, with the fast guys probably 15-20 seconds up ahead. I got around Keith on one of the road climbs (he was on a SS 29'er) and I had gears, and I was chasing Matty B. A lap or two later - the final lap, I catch Matty B in the rock garden - apparently he bobbled because someone was off the bike in front of him, so I got by him and sprinted up the road hill AGAIN. Chasing Dj this time, I was on his wheel and he stands up to sprint, I shift down and stand as well giving it everything, just not enough as he got me by a wheel for 4th place. The fast guys obviously stayed out front but thankfully didn't lap us - placing - Mike Yozell, Matt Miller, Topher, Dj Nudy, Me. I didn't see how the rest of that race panned out but I'm guessing Matty B came in right behind me.

After everyone cooled down, Bowman lined us up for a missing out race. There was some handicapping setup, so we spread out in the designating (by Bowman) areas. This was the first time I've done this kind of race as well, short story - I took the win after about 15 laps. There was actually a $20 prize for the missing out win - cool I've never won cash at a race, so I get my race fee back + $10.

Bowman, Chuck and I headed down to the bar and had a few beers and wings. Time to race home and hang out with Christine around a fire and eat some burnt marshmellows. Take a shower, clean out the car, take out the trash - time to sleep. Night.

-matt

how to be a man...


Now this guy manned up, singlespeed cross bike at Greenbrier. I saw him come through on his 3rd lap and he was moving pretty good. I'm sure it was hell on the rocky muddy downhill - probably just ran it. He's a better man than me, I don't think SS rigid drop bars would've been too fun.

-matt

Monday, April 28, 2008

Perseverance or stupidity...


Sunday morning I packed up the car and my wife, niece's and I headed to Boonsboro, MD for the AMBC Greenbrier Challenge. This race is a blast, and attracts the big dogs as it's a USA Cycling national qualifier. They had about two inches of rain just days before the race, so it was bound to be a muddy mess.

When we were close to the race I was checking the fields for standing water to get an idea of how wet were gonna get, and it didn't look too bad. I got to go out for a pre-ride with Travis and one of his teammates, and realized just how muddy we would get. However a quote for the day "mud don't stick to wet" - only a few might get that (inside joke) We rushed back to the start with minutes to spare before the start.

They sent off the 19-29 class, then my class 1 minute later. I was starting at the back of the pack, after getting there almost late. I was able to work my way up on the first climb and picked up some places. Down the next fun rocky downhill and a nice doubletrack slight downhill through some puddles (lakes) and make right turn through a deep stream crossing, up a bit of a hill I'm now 1st or 2nd, and I stupidly down shift in the back (forgetting I was in big ring up front) my X0 rear derailleur cage explodes! I jump off the bike and run up the rest of the hill and around the log at the top to pull off and assess the damage - diagnosis = not trail repairable.

I walk/run/coast out back to the start and leave my bike with The Bike Lane guys, and run to my car to get a spare cage I thought was in my tool box - which I found that I had left at home on the workbench. Damn, now what - I see Liz packing up her stuff after finishing 4th in her race, I convinced her to lend me here X9 rear derailleur. After unbolting her derailleur I run down to The Bike Lane ez-up and bolt the derailleur on and off I go to RESTART my race.

Great, I get to climb the start 3 more times. But, I have yet to DNF a race and I didn't really feel like starting now. So there I got passing everyone I can to hopefully not DFL the race, but I'm 47 minutes back at this point. I love this course though, the rocky/rooty stream downhill near the end is a blast. I think I felt a 100% better this year than last year, so my fitness must be better than this time last year.

I finished the race dead last, but I finished! My times with out the mechanical should have secured me at least a top 3 if not the win - based on how I was feeling pre-mechanical and subsequent lap times. On a more exciting note, Travis got 2nd only seconds behing the lead, his wife one her class, Mike Carter got 15th in expert 40-49, Liz took 4th place, and Aaron Snyder got 4th place in PRO! with the fastest lop time of the day.

My first DFL and hopefully my last, now I gotta order a rear derailleur and some pads from my newest sponsor Magura USA. I'm not sure what's next on the schedule, supposed to be rainy this weekend and the Campmor series starts Sunday with Wawayanda - we'll see.

-matt

Friday, April 25, 2008

bike Friday (day off)

I woke up early on my day off and met Frank, Weldon, and Geoff for a Jordan ride. We busted out a 10 mile loop in about 1 hour 11 minutes - I was on the SIR9 SS. I definitely need an 18 tooth rear cog for Jordan, although I don't know if it would great for Salisbury.

After the ride, I had a doctor's appointment then headed to the chiropractor for a quick work-over. I shot back over to Emmaus to meet Brian for my 2nd ride - the brunch ride. We did Hemp Hill backwards 17ish miles in 58 minutes, just in time to stop at SMC for a post/pre ride espresso.

When we got to the shop there were a few people getting ready for the Rodale lunch ride - round 3 for me. We downed our coffee and did the Vera Cruz with Spring hill loop - 20 miles in an hour fifteen minutes. Now I'm starting to get a bit tired. Well all enjoyed some post ride coffee, while Ryan grabbed a 40 of Corona (in a paper bag) and a few of us drank on the stoop of Armetta's - what a great afternoon!

I had to head to Spokes to pick up my bike after the new internals for my Lefty SL were installed - ahhh, now you can actually lock it out. Chip also spent some time on my rear wheel which was pretty far outta true. Looks like I might need to use a beefier rim soon.

That's it for my bike Friday, although I probably should've taken it a little easier today with Greenbrier this Sunday. My wife and I went to Texas Roadhouse for diner and then ice cream afterwards - I guess that was the perfect recovery food, although I'm not sure I burned as many calories as I took in. Yeah well, now I'm gonna just chill and prolly hit the sack early.

-matt

Monday, April 21, 2008

Leesburg Bakers Dozen...

Last year a few friends did the 1st Leesburg Bakers Dozen - 13 hour endurance mountain bike race, and they raved about the venue. Mike Carter and I were talking about doing it Solo, but later decided with Greenbrier next weekend, we would do a 2 person team.

My wife and I had planned on leaving around 3ish on Friday to head down to Virginia for the 2nd annual Bakers Dozen. As with all my other trips, I was running late. Strauser showed up at my while I was still getting my back up bike together - well building it actually :) Then I had to wash my main bike and get that all ready, pack the car and head out. We probably left the house by 4:30 - and encountered traffice on rt 83 which really slowed us down.

We arrived at the race around 8:00pm and found the Spokes Bike Shop banner, where the Carter's were parked - saving us a spot. We set up camp and hung out with everyone for awhile then went to sleep.

The next morning I awoke to Lisa cooking pancakes and sausage in their camper. That was really nice to have some real food before a race like this. Mike and I had our game plan set - I would start the first lap, since I usually go out pretty hard to start, and he has the steady endurance to go all day. Then we switched to 2 on 2 off laps, with Mike busting out a 3rd in his rotation. Another rotation of 2 on 2 off, then we switched to 1 on 1 off laps for the duration. Our transitions went off without a hitch (except for one) Mike came in from his last lap at 11:46pm, so I rolled through for my last lap, number 24 for us. I felt pretty slow and every log crossing seemed about 3 inches higher than the earlier laps.

I finished our 24th lap at 12:25. We ended up in 7th place, 1 lap off the leaders and 50 seconds off 6th place. I'm very stoked for where we ended up. After it was said and done - I'm not sure how fresh I'll be for Greenbrier now :)

Mike Belefonti rocked out 14 laps for 11th place solo - exactly one year after his 1st chemotherapy session and it was also his & his wife's wedding anniversary. For those who know Mike - give him some props next time you see him. Vance from our team did a 2 person team with a friend of his Donnie and ended up with 21 laps for 15th place - a very solid ride. And Brian Strauser from the Dirt Devils busted out 10 laps for his first ever endurance event, and he was on a fully rigid singlespeed Kona Unit 2-9.

So it was a great event with a great showing by the local crew! Unfortunately there was one injury that I know of, and the race director's personal Moots-x YBB was stolen. Hopefully the injured rider recovers fast and the bike is recovered.

I hope I didn't leave anything out, and I will post pictures soon.

-matt

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

strength vs. weakness...

I was reading some of Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible, and there was some info about listing your strengths and weaknesses. I'm sitting here trying to come up with at least one strength, cause I can easily list some weaknesses. I guess I'm not great the finding my positives in cycling - great another weakness :)

So yesterday and today have been some climbing to work on that weakness. I did a lap of 2,5,10 with Dan on a borrowed (sweet) Independent Fabrication Crown Jewel. After the road, I threw my pedals back on the 29'er and did a lap up at South Mountain Emmaus - and I got a little lost. I don't know that network of trails too well, but in keeping with the weakness theme I did some climbing!

This morning we had to show up to work at 6:30 AM!! to attend a Employee of the Quarter breakfast. I usually have to show up at 9am - so after the meeting I jumped on my road bike and busted out another 2,5,10 lap in around 45 minutes. After my ride I got to have a coffee at SMC with Dan, Bill Strickland, and Mark Bowman. Bill just got back from Belgium, enjoying some classic cycling for 2.5 weeks (I'm sure we're all envious) Apparently he got to have lunch with a legend of cycling - read about it here.

For those that don't know what 2,5,10 is, it's 2nd, 5th and 10th streets in Emmaus, PA. It is a little over 10 miles and about 1500 ft of climb. 2nd is long and sustained, 5th is shorter with one steep turn, and 10th is a bear something like 21-22% grade I believe.

Now I gotta work till 9pm - and I'm tired, more so from just being here at 6:30 and not so much the riding. The weather was looking great for the Leesburg Bakers Dozen this weekend, however now they are calling for some showers on Saturday there. I'm hoping everything holds weather wise - cause 13 hours on wet trails might suck.

-matt

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bike Line Fair Hill xc...

Well the first XC race is on the books. After all the ball bustin' from Dan about sandbagging, I guess it's a good thing I didn't upgrade to expert. Guess I'm gonna save that for later in the season.

I finished 7th out of 31 finishers, pretty tired after the first lap but was doing OK at that point. The second lap was a different story, I can never be consistent on my lap times and this time was no different, adding 2.5 minutes to my 1st lap time. So now I need to work on some distance and intensity I guess.

Any input on how to not drop off that much between laps, I was sitting 2nd or 3rd after the first lap - but then drop off pretty hard from there. I've done some longer rides, some fast rides and some slow rides. Any help would be great.

It was great to see everyone out there, and Bike Line put on a great venue. Next up Leesburg Baker's Dozen.

-matt

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fair Hill XC!!!

Well the rain we were supposed to get bypassed us!! Fair Hill is on for tomorrow morning. The car is packed, sandwiches are made, bottles are mixed and I'm gonna get some rest.

Good luck to all Fair Hill racers.

-matt

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fair Hill not so Fair???

So the kick off XC race to the Mid Atlantic Super Series doesn't look to be shaping up to Fair. Hopefully this weather will blow through here quickly without too much rainfall and they keep this race for this Sunday.

Apparently this is one of the shine only events, so no pre-registration on BikeReg for me. Let's all hope for the best on this one.

-matt

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Team relay representin'...

Today was the M.A.S.S. Season opener - The Team Relay at Marysville.

The Spoke's Bike Shop team was in full force with a full 2 teams representing the shop. We had Team A - Mike, Vance, Mike B. and myself and Team B - Aaron, Tom, Lisa and Stanley. Our "B" team was full of beginner racers with a ton of heart, and they did great. Our "A" team was kicking it in gear - going back and forth with some of the Bean's team.

Mike Carter led off our team with the Le Mans start (he hates running) We made the tag without a hitch - or the running tag that some teams were doing later in the day. We went through the rotation a full 3 times and Mike B. got back in just enough time for Mike C. to head out for his 4th and final lap for the team.

It seems as if everyone had a blast with very little incidents of crashing, at least during the race (we had a few casualties on the pre-ride). After we were all gathered at the team pit ez up, we grilled some burgers and dogs and ate some great greasy recovery food.

This was definitely a kick ass venue - thanks to Mike Kuhn, the Oesterling's, and the rest of the VisitPA team! It was great to see all the people I've met throughout the past two years of racing. Happy 33rd birthday to Kim Dubeck who was partying it up typical Bean's style - and she had her own band on site - well her brother's and and they rocked! Since I was fried at the end of the race I didn't catch their name so if someone could let me know the name, I'd appreciate that.

Now I'm tired & somewhat sick, I think I've got some sort of cold brewing. Should be a full blown cold by Fair Hill. Night all.

-matt

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Blue Marsh & Team Ride...

This morning I was planning on heading to Fair Hill for a pre-ride of the race loop, only its about 2 hours away and I woke up just in time to be late :) So instead of rushing around I hooked up with Mike for a loop at Blue Marsh - well Mike will tell you I was still rushing around since I'm always late, but only 3 minutes this time.

Conditions were excellent with only a few trees down to go over/around. After the ride we headed up to the Hamburg water reservoir to meet a few of the team members for a little climb up the Pinnacle. A hiker was kind enough to take our picture after watching me fumble around with the self-timer and how to setup the shot.

Spokes Bike Shop Team - (most of them) from left to right. Stanley - beginner, Austin (Mike's son and support staff), John - beginner, Aaron - beginner, Mike - expert & me - sport.

Time for me to take some time off the bike for a few days since I'm still feeling kinda tired, before the Team Relay.

-matt

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Duck season, wabbit season??

Actually today was the first day of fishing season. This is one thing I never really understood, the only fun part seems to be drinking at 7am. I got outta the house early before work and did an hour ride at Jordan creek.

As I rounded the corner near the gardening area at Jordan, I could've sworn there was some sort of cult meeting going on. There were tents, campfires, and a bunch of camouflage clad fisherman. As I've never been a fisherman - what the heck are they hiding from?

Today would've been a perfect day for a bell, which is something I've never had on a bike. I got really tired of having to ask people to move please, plus most of them looked at me with the same confused look I had when seeing them out there by the hundreds.

Tomorrow I might end up going out to pre-ride Fair Hill or stay local and do a lap at Blue Marsh. I hope everyone enjoys the nice weather we're supposed to have tomorrow.

-matt

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

tired legs..


I went for a road ride on Tuesday morning - 21.8 miles 1:22 ride time with only a 132 avg hr. I was feeling really sluggish and couldn't really get my HR up. Guess I needed to either do a recovery ride after Sunday or what?? I felt like I was working hard but just didn't have the legs for it.


I hope as the weather starts to warm up I start feeling more like getting out there on a more frequent basis. Although I'm sure everyone around is waiting for that day!


-matt