Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wet N Wild

Team RowMan+ got some tough man miles in the last couple of days.
Wednesday we couldn't make the Wednesday Night'r so we put together our own ride. Strong group of riders (Steve, Jeremy, Nate, Robbie and myself) headed out to do Fort Martin/Taylertown loop with Bobtown climb thrown in for some fun. Started out with a pretty steady rain to get things nice and wet and maintained a nice drizzle for awhile. For anyone that doesn't know, those road are not the cleanest in wet conditions thanks to the coal mines. Check out the filthy group after a couple hours in the wet.

Today was the Thursday Shop ride. I headed out a little early to catch up on some ride time. Got some rain early but it didn't really make it through the canopy. Trails were in good condition with a bit of mud but not enough to make it greasy. The HiFi was feeling especially dialed in. Hooked up with the group at the usual time. Attendees: Colin, Jeremy, Nate, Robbie, Jake, Bala and Ryan P.

We started out going up Spaghetti which is always a challenging way to start out a ride. After stopping for a flat change it was on to break in the new trail a lil more. Jake did some leading after that and kept the pace up. Look'n strong kid!.........Then the new trail in opposite direction and then the sky opened up. Thunder, lightning and hard winds. Not a good combination in the woods. We had a real interesting decent to the gate but all the troops made in in one piece.
The team will be heading down to Eleanor, WV for WVMBA#4, Creek to Peak. The brothers and I will be turning Ma and Pa Chappy's place into a biking Bed and Breakfast since they live about 30 min. away. Sweet, short drive on race day.
See ya at the races,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good Weather...Good Ride'n....Good Beer

Life is good.......Things have been looking up this week. Along with the vast improvement in the weather I've been able to shake off the after effects of the hog flu and get back on the weekday rides.
Tuesday was a duo ride with Super J out around Preston County. Started by going up Summer School Road, which is a wicked cool climb, then out to the Kingwood Pike and around the WVU Research Farm. From there it was Reedsville, Masontown, Snake Hill and back into Sabraton. There was some talk about heading out to Pt. Marion after Snake Hill but it was determined there was not enough day light or gas in the tank. Great ride in full sunshine, except when I got bombed by a bird. He got me real good, from stem to seat post........yuck!

Wednesday I made it out to the Wednesday Night'r ride for the first time in quite awhile. With another day of great weather the roadies showed up in force. I heard there were 29 riders in the group. A new ride record from what I've been told.......awesome! I had some Team RowMan boys in attendance to work with. Steve and Nate were there to keep me safe and pull me around.

The group did a neutral roll out down the rail trail to Star City, across the bridge and over to Rt. 100. When the pace heated up there was a pretty good paceline working and the group was moving along smoothly especially considering the size and the conditions of the road. I hit the gas a bit on the Lazelle Hill and got away from the group, got passed by the forever strong Gunnar and Steve with Adam A. and Sexy Leggs Jimmy on up the road. Over the top hit the big ring and pumped out some giga watts but couldn't pull in the two hammer heads in.

After the regroup, I set out the state line sprint cause I wasn't feeling comfortable hammering it out in a large tight group. Going up Big Shannon the attacks came pretty hard but a lot of riders were able to hang on the front end. Me thinks people are getting faster and stronger, very cool! I was in the red the whole way out but stayed with the top dogs while we tried to chase down Nate and Jimmy who got out on a break. I think Nate got the first to the end award but maybe Jimmy. I can't remember, no oxygen in the brain. Adam was there and of course Gunnar, Steve and myself. Not a bad group to be in. The return trip had some good pacing with my boy Steve doing more than his share of pulling. Steve and I ended up battling it out for the end of Big Shannon sprint. He threw me a bone and let me get the line. After the Rt. 19 climb and regroup it was a high speed decent back into Osage, Westover and down to the trail. What a bad A ride. Fast, fun and a good workout. Good job everyone who kept it safe and fast.

Today, was the Thursday night shop ride at Bakers. More great weather brought out another large group. There were 12 at the gate for the start, which is a good showing for the ride. Attendees: Team RowMan+ (Steve, Jeremy, Ryan, Josh), Robbie, Sean Z., Jake, Bala, Andrew, Ryan P. and his lady friend and a dude on a SS who's name I didn't get. Trails were in great shape. Very little mud but still a little tack for traction. Hit up lots of trails, with a new one thrown into the mix. The trail ferry put a new trail up on top, its tight and technical and in my opinion has good promise. Also, hit up a couple of the newer gnarly down hills. The HiFi performed above and beyond my expectations. I didn't even notice those rock gardens. Had a great time with a good group. Thanks to all who showed up and threw down.
So after 3 great days of riding I invited an old friend over who just came into town. Welcome to West by God Yuengling my friend.

Have a great Holiday weekend, I know I will.
Power to the pedals,
P.S. Pictures from Tour de Lake. Not on iplay.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Victory @ Tour de Lake

Team RowMan+ brings home the $ @ Tour de Lake.
Jeremy came through with win number 2 of this young season. The team headed down to Spencer, WV this weekend for WVMBA #3. We were one short cause Coach had some family obligations and couldn't make the trip...........Props to Myra for getting her Masters.
It was another cold, wet day in the WVMBA series, but again there was improvement over the '08 season. There was significantly less mud and water this time around. The temps were a bit lower, especially early on. However, just after the start the sun came out and brought it up to optimal racing temp.
The start time got pushed back a half hour so, the flag didn't drop until 12:30. The start was a lil different this year. We lined up just short of the road climb going up the dam to the upper parking lot. I thought we started further down the road last year before we hit the uber steep road climb but I could be wrong. It was pretty tight going up the climb and through the parking lot. I didn't get a great start, got pinched on the start. I was probably around mid-pack and I could see Jeremy and Nate closer to the front and could feel Steve on my wheel. After the parking lot we went onto a brand new section of trail instead of going up the fire road. It was a nice trail but things were still a little crowed to squeeze everyone onto some single track. Add to that the greasy wet sections on a climb and that equalled a line of racers hiking up the hill.
After I got off the new trail and back on the fire road I could no longer see Jeremy and Nate's group, lost too much time stuck in traffic and pushing my bike. Once on the fire road I popped it in the big ring and took advantage of the flat terrain to get around a few folks before the single track. When I hit the single track I was feeling a little better about my position and focused on the tight single track and staying in my zone. I got around a couple more then Steve Hill came around me. I was happy to see him cause I knew he is familiar with the trails and would be a good wheel to follow.
Then, I got wrench thrown into my plans. Well, more like a small stick. The little bastard jumped right into my cassette and womped my derailleur tab.............Dang! Bad luck........It got me good cause I could only stay in a couple of the middle cogs. So, I stopped to switch out tabs.........Double Dang!.........I forgot to pack a wrench that could would work on the reassessed derailleur bolt. I tried to bend it back a bit with little success. At this point all the experts had passed by me and most of the sport guys. Eventually, I was able to bum a wrench and got a new tab on. By this time could see the beginners coming up the trail. I was way back. I considered throwing in the towel for a second then I thought what the hell, I'd just go out and have a good time. I figured I was at least in contention for some series points. So off I went.
There was lots of traffic but I tried to be patient and pass when it was safe. The rest of my race was pretty uneventful. Completed the first lap and was feeling good and kept it up climbing the fire road on the second lap. Once on top hit the big ring and cranked it out. At that point I was determined not to be last in the expert class. It was all about pride at that point. I finially finished in just over 2:20 and 10th in men's expert. some series points.
That was my first mechanical of the year. Last year at this point I had more than I could count. Improvement is good. Evan though I lost about 15-20 min and was off the back, I still had a good time and enjoyed riding the sweet trails around Charles Fork Lake.
The rest of the team did well. As previously mentioned, Jeremy took home the gold with a time of 1:43.........That's moving man! Great job J. I think the new hair-do cut off some time.
Nate pulled out a 4th and Steve came in 6th. Nice work boys.

So, that makes 4 victories for Team RowMan+ thus far this season. Looks like all those hours in the cold and ice and trainer time this winter is paying off. Hard work does pay off kids.
Next stop, Creek to Peak.
See ya at the races,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ryan's 12 hr Racing

I have managed to gorge myself on some fine events completing 6 races in the last 6 weeks. In this early season bike racing binge I found myself headed to the 12hr Creek to Peak race in Elanor, WV. This past weekend was a race that I had long awaited. I wanted to squeeze in a 12hr race last season but couldn’t make it to any in the neighboring states. Once I realized the Dub-V was going to play host to one, I knew I had to have some of it.

My preparation consisted of...well secret workouts that I just can’t release to the public, the purchasing of my not so secret weapon-a hot new GF Superfly, a marathon race, and few months of planning and practicing my nutrition strategy. I was a going to be a newbie to the 12hr scene, but from early this year I planned on being a competitor for this specific event. I periodized my training to go into the event with a 2 week taper, this would provide me with some much needed rest and allow for maximal performance during the race.

Post-Mountmud, I attempted to get my bike in order, but also worked longer hours so that I could take off on Friday before the race. Thus, I found myself doing a final tune-up on the racing rig Friday morning. During the tuning process I couldn’t get my rear brake to tighten up. The pads seemed to not be auto-adjusting as usual with my hydraulic system. I figured I would swing by the LBS (Wamsley’s) on my way out of town for some form of a quick fix. I am new to all this fancy stuff, crazy hydraulic disc brakes...last year I raced with old school v-brakes. Anyhoo, I prepped on by organizing my food and bottles. I pre-prepped my drink mix so the support crew, #1 Wifey, would just need to add water and shake. Other preps consisted of multiple pairs of glasses, shorts, socks, and jerseys. I had some spare parts in the mix: tubes, big airs, a tire, a derailleur, a derailleur tab, and some cables.

I strolled into the LBS around 3:30 Friday afternoon. After some conversing with the boys, I pulled out my pads to inspect’em for wear. Well, I had plenty so that wasn’t the issue. I pushed the pistons in, re-inserted the pads and pumped the lever to see if the pads would re-adjust, a procedure I performed twice in the garage without any luck. Presto, maybe I just needed to be in the presence of some fine wrenches; my system adjusted and I headed back up to the counter on my way out. While talking to Jeremy at the counter I continued to squeeze the lever. Crap, the brake was fading and eventually the lever was going to the handlebar again!! Of course, it couldn’t be that easy. I headed back to the stand and after some inspection found the problem. The system was leaking at the lever ever so slightly. After some more conversing with the boys, the wonderful fellow Jeremy offered up a spare off the bike he had commuted in on for the day. Jeremy was making the race possible - he was already allowing me to borrow his light system in case mine failed, and he now offered up his brake. Thanks Jeremy; you’re awesome!!! After some quick work around the shop and taking up two bike stands at a time I managed to finish the swap and head out of town ~5:30.

And then there was rain!!! About 15 mi out of Charleston the sky began falling and fell harder and harder and harder. By the time we cruised into the race venue I really didn’t want to get out of the car to register. After a quick dash over and around quickly forming puddles I finally found a familiar face. JR was pitching his tent in the barn to avoid the washout; good thinkin’ JR, much better than waking up in a puddle. I asked him about registration and after some conversing with the director Larry Perkins, I found out registration was going to take place in the morning. I thought I could get it done between 7-10 the night before the race, but no biggie - I could just knock it out in the A.M. I hopped back in the car and we headed out. On the way to the Wifey’s folks house we met several high water spots, thankfully nothing that wasn’t passable.

After some evening stretching I had a quick catch of the weather and news. It seemed that the eastern half of the state was under a flash flood watch...oh goody, more mud. I really had to play some mind games convincing myself that tomorrow was going to be muddy but it would still be fun, right?

I had my usual breakfast of coffee, oats, and toast with PB before heading back to the race venue. Registration was quick and painless; no long lines for this one. I guess the weather and distance had turned some folks off. I briefed the wifey on bottle prep, glasses cleaning, and how my food consumption would go down, found a good spot for her to pass off all the goodies, got in a quick spin and racers meeting, and the race was off.

Some folks went out pretty fast for the first lap. It was tough but I stayed in my desired HR range and let’em go. I figured they would slow down or blow up. The mud was prevalent but not impossible. I rode on and had some fun. At the end of my first lap I found out the leaders were about ten minutes out - a bit of a blow, but they must be carrying a pretty heavy pace. I ate a bite, picked up fresh bottles and quickly headed back out. I felt like I could carry my pace well into the day, a good start for a 12 hr event. The second lap was quite slippery. The trails were definitely get’en greasy. About like Mountwood, thus it still wasn’t a disaster. I managed to maintain my pace and was still having some fun. Back through the venue for some more bottles, gel, and clean glasses. For the next lap I planned to meet the wifey at the bike wash.

At the start of the third lap I was still feeling strong - not fresh, but I still felt like I could carry my pace for a while. I noticed the trails were actually starting to tack up a bit and I really got excited. The sun and wind were going to dry things out and I figured the remainder of the race was going to turn out just fine. Then the sun disappeared behind some big clouds, big dark clouds, least I won’t get a sunburn, right? Oh no, oh no, not this, not that, ahhh!!! Rain!!!! My nice tacky trails turned into streams! Water on mud, hmm, this sucks! Well, I kept going, nothing I could do about it. I just kept telling myself everyone has to deal with it, be patient. I rode less and walked more. My third lap was completely off pace by about 30 min and my HR was now below my target; whelp, no need to worry about blowing up. Chain suck was constant and traction was an afterthought. Then, I had nice surprise towards the end of my third lap. Josh had made it out from his folks to catch some action. He provided me with some much needed motivation and encouragement.

I rolled into the wash station and it was like a pit crew was waiting for me; Myra with food and clean gloves and glasses, Josh with waterhose in hand. Myra fed me while Josh sprayed off the Superfly, poor baby was look’en rough. After some quick lube action, I headed back out. I was still feeling pretty good and a little more motivated after some familiar faces. Thanks for the help Josh, nice work on the Superfly!!!

Fourth lap was much like the end of the third: ride, walk, ride, walk, ride, ride, walk, walk. I should cross-train more...After about 20 min on the trail the bike was again caked with mud, chain lube was pointless, and chain suck – well, chain suck made climbing impossible even when there was some form of traction. Some cussing and cursing took place and after an eternity I made it in from my fourth lap mentally blown. Wifey's parents stopped by to check out the action; it was great to have some support from the family, I really needed it. It was brought to my attention that the folks out in front of me decided to quit. Not sure if they blew up or just got fed up with the conditions. I am guessing a combo. Either way, one more lap in the slop would put me into first. Ok, “I can do it.” I picked up gel, bottles, and my light. I quickly sprayed off and the adventure continued, walk, ride, blah, blah, blah.

At the start of the fifth lap, I was actually able to ride some sections of trail that lacked the necessary traction in the previous lap. Things were looking up, the trails were going tack up a little. I was climbing, then POP! BOOM! CLANK! I stopped to find my derailleur all a dangle. SH**!!! I just couldn’t have a nice victory lap. Ok, Ok. I break my quick link, thread the chain out the derailleur, pocket both items and walk, trot, run, trot, walk...I just want to finish. I thought about the SS option, but here it can destroy a freehub, thus I went with the former--walk. I wanted to keep moving in case one of the other solo males made a move and decided to head back out. So I ran, trotted, ran, ran, ran. At least I was actually getting a workout now. I was actually passing people riding; I should have started running on my third lap. I had passed two solo males and a duo racer by the end of the lap, go figure.

I finally finished by running my bike into the barn throwing one leg over and coasting to the finish line. I was now a top the leader board. I did some quick math. Steve Hill had started racing at 3. When I finished he was on his fourth lap. If he got six he would move into first. He had been going at a ~2 hr a lap pace but was starting to slow. After some deliberation I figured it would be pretty impossible for him to get six. I thought about another lap; I had a spare derailleur in the car, but figured with the nasty conditions I was just asking to break something else. I turned in my card and called it.

I spent a solid 30 min at the bike wash, ate a pop-tart, a pb and j, this, that, and some other. Changed clothes and headed over to check things out. Steve had slowed considerably and was just making it in from his 4th lap. I was glad to see him head back out for a 5th, pushing him up into 2nd. All and all, I put in 5 laps in 10:20, about 50 mi, stark difference from the 40 mi in 3:47 at the Greenbrier Challenge. Steve Hill, with his late entry, knocked out 5 laps in about 11 hrs.

I was pretty happy with my result, no reason to not be. I wish the course would have been a little better, I really don’t feel like it was I good test of my endurance because I walked about as much as I rode. I will definitely do some more. I hear there is actually a 12 hr series down in Georgia. The move to Atlanta will provide me the opportunity to catch the series final in October. And next year, oh yeah, I will be taking place in the 4 race 12 hr series.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Yea, it was back to the races this weekend. This episode takes us westward to the Challenge at Mountwood. I would like to emphasis the word CHALLENGE. First, I want to flash back to last year(insert visual effect here)...........This was my first official WVMBA race and I can't remember much from the '08 version. Mostly because I was meditating in the pain box most of the day. I did recall cold, wet weather, mud and lots of going up but strangely not much descending. At one point I thought I had crossed into the bizzarro world. But after it was all over I somehow had a smile on my face and couldn't wait to do it all again..........I'd caught the sickness.

Flash forward............So with all my vast experience I knew what the forecast was.........PAIN! After a week of steady rain and not to mention a bout with the hog virus that kept me off the bike all week I knew it would be a tough day for myself. But I was for some reason still excited for race day.
Picked up the boys and hit the road early. Leaving Morgantown there was a good steady rain. There was a lot of grumbling about the sucky weather and some talk about going home and crawling back into bed. But we pressed on. By the time we got to the venue the rain had stopped and the temps were in the 50's. Not to shabby. Last year I think it was sleeting before race time. Vast improvement.
Did the pre-race thing that seems to run much smoother this year. There seemed to be a good showing for the WVMBA/OMBC combined event. Not the 300+ expected. I suspect there may have been some fair weather racers. Before I knew it, it was high noon.........Race time.

I got one of the best starts I've had thus far. I hit the big ring on a flat section off the start and was able to pull around a number of folks. I was shocked to be on the tail of the lead group. I saw Jeremy and Nate up ahead with Gunnar, Ben Ort, Dave "Blue Jeans" Walker and maybe one or two more. At one point, I looked up and saw some jerk in the gutter splashing a tidal wave on everyone. Then I saw that jerk was Jeremy, I had to laugh to myself. I guess rubb'n is race'n.

After we hit the single track the leaders were gone but I held strong for awhile but could feel the effects from the fast start creeping in. Had a couple of stumbles and some weird breathing/wheezing problems and the next thing I knew I was getting passed up by like five or six dudes. Ryan motored past me as well as Steve, wished them luck and just tried to keep it in the zone. Things were going well, passed one or two, got passed by one. Then, just before the start of the second lap the wheels started to come off and I crepted into the pain box. I blame the hog flu. Second lap was like a mud bog. Greasy mud that made turning hard and climbing even harder. I bonked! It hurt! I lost a lot of time. Then the cramps started. I was begging for the finish line but it just didn't come. After like an eternity I came around to the line and felt like laying down in my grave.

Saw Jeremy at the team tent and he was holding his arm, had torn shorts and looked like death warmed over. A vast improvement over myself. I thought he must have crashed out or something, but kid pulled out a podium spot, 3rd. He's an animal. Coach came in 6th and Nate "To Fast" got in the $ for 5th. Great job boys! Stephen had a visit from the flat tire monster and had to DNF. Been there dude, you'll get'em next time.

As predicted there was abundant pain going around. Heard Gunnar went down hard, could hear his scream all the way back where I was. Nate said he bonked hard. To many interesting stories to tell. Hope everyone had as much fun as I did ;o)

On a mechanical note, the Bontrager ACX tires preformed great in the muddy conditions. Great tire for the soft trails. And check out J's new wheelset........Gold Hope hubs, Stan's Arch rims w/gold nipples.........Hot. And the Rowands Bontrager kicks.

No racing next weekend, except for Ryan who is going to the 12hrs of Creek to Peak. Good luck big guy. Next Team RowMan+ stop will be the Tour de Lake in two weeks.

See ya at the races,