Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Brief History of my Finding Love on the SS

I know, it is really just some filler until North Carolina, but it seems fitting. I have been riding for about 20 years now; more competitively for the last 5 or so. I will get right to the point; the last "full time" 26er I had was my beloved Fuel 100 dualie. I loved that bike. I put quite a few miles on it, but never won a race on it, came as close as 7th, but that was it. I can remember, and most of this was due to my fitness level at the time, just being tired and inefficient when riding hard or for long periods of time. The bike felt great and fit me well, but there was something that always bugged me, and I could never figure it out. I can remember one day at Patapsco with my friend Mike and a guy passing us on a SS like we were standing still. The only thing I could think of was that guy was a freak of nature.

I guess it was fall of 2006 and I was volunteering at the Seagull Century and I remember seeing a guy on a Raleigh MT700 that he converted to ss. We got to talking and he let me take it for a ride. I thought it was cool, but really didnt see what the benefit was. It ran out to fast and climbing out of the saddle seemed to hard. Never gave it much thought after that and continued to always being befuddled with my Fuel.

Spring of 2007 I was browsing around ebay and came across a new Redline Flight Monocog 26er frameset. The price was right at 100 clams, so I bought it. Funny thing was I remember not being real excited at first when it came. I threw on some parts and rode it a few times around the neighborhood and that was that.

I thought this would be good bike to use as a training tool. I remember taking the SS out on the trails for the first time on a night ride to see what it-and more importantly-I was capable of. I thought to myself this thing is hard to ride! These climbs are killing me! What I didnt realize at the time was that I was riding sections faster than I ever did on my Fuel. The pain was from using leg muscles in a way I never had before. I was hooked.

I started riding it more, but alas, the 26er SS was not meant to be. In the store was a shiny new Haro Mary SS 29er in Carolina Blue...GORGEOUS! It didnt take long for me to sell the Redline and the Fuel to make room for my new love. I was a little nervous at first, I mean what was I to do without gears? This would be the one bike.

My first ride, as it is forever known as "The Liberator", not that Liberator, gutter mind! Anyway, I was forever changed; both mind and body after that ride. I mean I felt like Superman. I climbed better then I had ever climbed before. Some training still needed to be done, but this was the way to go. I never thought, ever that I would be riding a SS full time...ever.

Well, it has been almost 6 years since I first threw a leg over that Redline and I havent lost that love. I am 44 and I have been getting stronger every year since. I dont shave seconds off of race times, but minutes. I know at some point that it will plateau and my legs and knees are not going to handle the constant stress that the SS places upon them, but I intend to ride the wave until it takes me under.

So if you have never given the SS a thought, switch your thought patterns and get one. Build a cheap one and have fun with it-even a 26er if you have too. Just be aware that you will also become Singlespeed Moron like myself-enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cherokee, NC...My home away from home

Well, this time next week, I will be in what hopes to be our future home. It is my favorite place to be with the family and the bikes. We have been going there for 20 years now and it never gets old-ever. It is full of history-albeit not so pretty, and the cycling is amazing. The Tsali and Pisgah trails are some the best around.

Of course it is a hikers, equestrians, kayakers, canoes, etc. mecca as well. I feel all giddy inside just thinking about it. No, wait...I have to go to the bathroom.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feeling the Power Again

This past week, I have really shown great improvements in my recovery; especially with climbs. Thursday I rode Patapsco for the first time since April and I felt really good; unfortunately, the trails are still a bit rough from some storms that blew in a few weeks ago. I had great power and took back one of the hardest climbs at the park-Reggies Demise. With a 13.8% avg grade, this one is a tough cookie. The fact that it is a loose gravel fire road climb doesnt help. The overall ride was a respectable 10.7 mph avg on the Ferrous 32/18. I am putting out some really good power numbers as well. The HR is starting to come down and I have better sustained power.

Today I was really put to the test at the Bike Doctor Shop ride. There are some super fast guys that come out for this every week. 6 of them from our AFC team. It is the first time in a month that I decided to test my fitness level. As usual, there isnt any warm up-just go. We averaged 23.2 mph for the first 10 miles...and I was actually doing some of the pulls! The first test for the climbs was Dunkin Donuts, my previous best was 18.1 mph. Today, not only did I shatter that with a 20mph effort, but passed 5 people on the way up-great sign. I recovered well and it was off to the next test-Race road climbs. My previous best there was a 19.3mph effort at 3:13. Today ripped it by 13 seconds and ended with 20.7 mph speed. Again, recovered fairly well.

Overall, I ended up with a 20.5 mph avg over 29.2 miles and 1700 feet of climbing and 3 pulls at the front.Today was one of the best rides I have had in a long time. It felt good to get out and stay in the front and lead pack. Most of all, it is good to have my climbing legs almost back to normal. Actually, they are feeling better than they did earlier this year. I cant wait to see what the rest of the race season is going to throw at me.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Great Weekend for Baseball

This weekend was awesome! Short summation of events-Friday, Alex was in his first all star game. Saturday and Sunday, Alex played in all 3 games on the travel tournament team. The cool thing is that this is Alexs' first season playing baseball-he is the only first year player on the team. He shows so much potential that it is weird at times. He throws hard and is accurate to boot. He just knows what needs to be done and does it. He is a super competitive kid...hmmm wonder where that comes from? He isnt at all boastful. He is very quiet about how he plays and doesnt like any attention brought to himself.

During the regular season, Alex pitched 18 innings. He allowed 3 hits and struck out 40-without allowing a run. Unfortunately, as soon as Alex gave way to the pitching machine, the runs started pouring in and his team ended up 2-8.

The Alexander Express
I was worried about his hitting though. He was not confident at all in his ability to hit. He was 6 for 20, which is still .300, but this weekend he was amazing. 3 for 3, 1 rbi, a walk and 3 runs. All 3 hits were line drives over short. In 7-8, they pitch the 1st and 6th inning and the dreaded pitching fills in the rest. He had such a hard to switching back and forth. In travel, there isnt any pitching machine; the pitchers pitch all 6 innings. This is just what he needed to get him back in the game. He is a great kid and the best part is he still comes over to me after a hit or an inning after pitching and gives me a hug and a kiss and says thanks for helping him. Man...the best.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Feeling a bit better

Well today was my first attempts at "real" hill repeats in a month. After pushing hard on yesterdays ride, I wasnt sure what to expect. I was surprised at the results.
I was very consistent with time, speed and HR-almost perfect. My times were very close to my previous best efforts in march. I was able to push a 53x17 gear on a 3.2 % grade climb (long repeats) and 53x21 on the 12.8% short repeats. These were all done while standing. If you had read any of my previous banterings on SS specific workouts, you know that hills are the key to your success. They suck, I know, but this is where we have the advantage over those girly men geared guys! Seriously, if you want to be competitive or at least a stronger rider overall, fit these into your schedule; but remember, if you cant maintain your power or cadence levels around 10% or so, stop the workout; you wont get any benefits from a workout that doesnt push your limits without pushing your limits to the limit ????-makes sense to me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rough Day at Fairhill, but a nice 6th Place finish

As you already know by my previous writings, I have been recovering from Rhabdo and an Appendectomy; so this race was to be the first real hard attempt since Bakers Dozen. I am not really supposed to be on the bike now buuuut...This morning I got up and really thought of just staying home. I didnt have the desire nor the "kick em while their down mentality. Needless to say, I did decide to head out to Fair Hill and see just how bad I could hurt myself.

My warm ups were a good indication of how this race was going to go...pain cave all day. At the line-where I usually line up at the front, I was about mid pack. Not at all nervous or anything, the bell went off and we start by going up a grassy climb. I was feeling bad already at this point-good sign 100 yards into the race, eh? I settled in around 12th or so and kept my eyes on Bernie and Jon for as long as I could. Now mind you, my mind was saying to just finish this race and be ok with that. I think the neurons missfired somewhere along the way and my body that was saying "oh please no, not the competitive side, were not ready for that!" kicked in and the race was on.

I have been have trouble maintaining any sort of lengthy power, but struggled on and tried to keep the lead guys in sight. To my amazement, I started to pass a few guys here and there. My first lap was 33:03, which I was not shooting for at all. I was going for 35:00 or so.

My second lap started to come undone. I felt really bad, but pride kept me from slowing too much. I hadnt ridden here since 2010, and the course changed a bit with the addition of a few very steep climbs. I geared the bike down to a 32/17 set up not knowing of the new course-I am a moron, remember? So those few climbs started to wear on me. I finished the 2nd lap with a dismal 34:48, but no one passed me. The 3rd lap started to feel like the 2nd. About 3 miles in, I pushed a bit into the pain cave and just went for it. My legs felt like concrete, but my lungs were ok-again just no power. I had no idea where I stood in the overall grand scheme of things, but I just wanted to finish. The 3rd lap ended up being 34:10, which was faster than my second lap, which has never happened before for me.

Much to my surprise, I ended up 6th and 3 minutes out of first for 22.3 miles. It was my first time out of the top 5 in over a year. I think overall I did much better than expected, but disappointed in the fact that had I felt like I did in april, I would have been in the running for 1st, but thats how racing goes sometimes.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Schultz! Close the gates! The War is back on!

Man, one day youre in the hospital, the next your racing again. This sunday is my first race in almost 2 months. It will be interesting to see how everything unfolds at Fair Hill. The past 3 weeks have been some of the toughest for me since they cancelled Hogans Hero's. Thats right... Colonel Klink rules the TV.

I have been riding quite a bit, but still dont feel as good as I did in April.Power is still not consistent, and my HR is still a bit high, but it is getting better.

I will be racing against some good friends as well. Eric Evans, teammate Jon Houghton, Bernie Shaio-hopefully they will have pitty on me and allow me to tag along.

I won this race back in 2010. It is a great course, but I will change my gearing now that I am familiar with the trail. The only thing tough about this race is that it doest have alot of climbs. That is my strength, so it is a little tougher for me on the flatter stuff; weird thing is guys who weigh 183lbs shouldnt be good climbers anyway. I will run a 34/18 as apposed to a 32/19, which will give me 52.1 gear inches; a little taller than the 46.4 current setup.

I know the gang from Hogans Hero's will be with me on sunday and I am hoping this recovery stint doesnt become my Stalag 13...because as Colonel Klink says "No prisoner escapes from Stalag 13!