Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Singletrack

Conditions in the woods improved yesterday after about 4" of snow plus a little rain and freezing rain fell. A few days earlier it was downright nasty as there was open water and thin spots.

No wonder I'm confused, I don't know which way I'm going!

This is the trail intersection bearing Jon Kindig's name. He grew up in Wayne (yes, Wayne, Maine!) taught here on the Hill for a few years and coached mountain biking. He has moved on, but continues to compete at a high level in the silly 24 hour solo discipline like the World's.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Look What Santa Brought!

Actually, when I was in limbo in Boston awaiting Babs' and the boys' return from MN last Thursday in the snowstorm, I picked this puppy up from Cycle Loft.
This is the Inside Ride eMotion. I have never ridden rollers and given the early snow this year, it looks like a long off-season indoors so it was time to give them a try. I have been suffering with this Minoura rim-drive for the past 2 seasons. It has done the job, but the sessions were always dreaded.

Hopefully riding rollers will be less of an act of self-mutilation!
In terms of learning to ride them, it took me 2, 5-minute sessions wearing sneakers to ride freely. I sort of followed the company's advice to use a wall as support, but actually found that starting off like normal off of step up worked best and I was spinning away. I'll post any relevant experience on them as the season rolls on.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hockey Boys

Drake is absolutely infatuated with hockey. He plays on the Maranacook Youth hockey Mites team. 1 practice a week is not enough for him, so he skates with Fenix on the Atoms for fun. These are pics to make any hockey dad happy, no pressure though!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Natz Videos

There are some beauts on YouTube.
Here is the first lap in the 50+ race by Jim Gentes. Epic conditions, crazy crowd, and useless course tape:

Pro Biker Pic

I was trying to post a picture to the NE CX Group, but it apparently didn't go through. So, I'm an ass for trying to be funny!
Anyway, here's the pic in case anyone cared to link to my blog.

There was much discussion on the group as to when its appropriate to begin drinking "man sodas." Apparently, you're an amateur if you start drinking after your last race. Only pros drink during the season, and back off in the off-season. Also, there is much debate on when you should actually start drinkng (assuming you're an amateur): after your last race; after nationals; after worlds.

I say drink when you're thirsty!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trebon CX Natz crash


Early Winter

This was the scene a few weeks ago, our first snowfall. I figured it was just a teaser.

This is the situation today! The snow stayed and has done nothing but accumulate. As a result, I've accepted the fact that winter is here to stay and training consists of the gym, trainer, and snowshoeing.

Christmas prep

Here are some snaps of the fam out for our traditional chopping down of the Christmas tree. One year we went into the woods on campus and cut down a natural tree. Charlie Brown had a better tree! It's worth going to a tree farm, trust me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NECCS #5 @ Sterling Report 11/24


You know when I don't post for a while after a race I'm not too keen on the result! This is no exception, but with more meaning. This race marked the end of my race season so writing about it really brings closure. The result was expected, but not wished for. My internal alarm clock went off earlier in November that said its time to wake up and take time off. I was mentally and physically ready to get off the saddle for the winter. Thus, I was fairly ambivalent about the event, yet wanted to have a good showing and have fun.
The whole fam was on hand for the finale as we had just spent Thanksgiving at my mom's on the Cape and we were en route to Maine. It was the coldest day of riding yet, with temps around freezing which made for a very hard racing surface. The course was unique in that it included a gravel running track, giant 2 log step up, a super steep run up, and many off-camber sections. I felt pretty comfortable with my bike handling, but I could tell I hadn't practiced fast mounts and dismounts for a while as I was pretty slow there.
All photos by racer/photographer extraordinare Paul Weiss

I lined up at the back of the pack and after 2 laps around the track to spread things out I realized just how not into racing in the red zone I was! I quickly found myself DFL and shifted my mind to survival mode with the hope of not getting lapped. To summarize 60 minutes worth of racing: I settled into a groove I felt comfortable sustaining, rode in a mini-pack of 4 or so, passed some guys, got lapped, season over!


Babs and the boys were troopers as they withstood the chilly temps as long as they could, then ended up sticking their heads out of the Sequoia's sunroof and cheered from there! I wish I took a picture!

I hung the bikes up and haven't touched them since, although I'm starting to get the desire again which has probably led me to write the report. January 1 training will begin in earnest as I prepare for the 2008 campaign racing semi-pro mtb and Cat. 2 'cross. Until then, its time to enjoy a life not structured around training. I'll be posting random stuff from here, so tune in if you're wicked bored!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I must share this race report written by Kona's Erik Tonkin. The event was won by co-Kona racer Barry Wicks pictured above:
2007 Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championship
Man, that sounds like fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Plymouth 'Cross Pics

Thanks to Verissa for snapping some fanastic photos!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Plymouth South Cyclocross 11/11

Pro 1,2,3

I zipped down to the Cape Saturday after Drake’s first hockey game and classes. I stayed over at my mom’s and polished off one of her infamous lists Sunday morning. Then it was a short drive to Plymouth South high school, site of today’s event, a new one on the calendar. There was quite a nip in the air, but it was sunny so it felt OK. As this was a local event, the Elite field was predictably small and there were some familiar faces at the start line like pro roadie Mark McCormack, fellow Elite masters Johnny Bold, Kevin Hines, Colman O’Connor, and mtb single-speeder Thom Parsons. I anticipated the race to be a fun, hard event given the cast of characters.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of today’s race was the spectators. KHS alums Joey K, Verissa, and the Moff were all in attendance in addition to my dad and Katherine. I actually had a small fan base who didn’t have to cheer for me just because they’re related to me, although my dad and Katherine did! I chatted with the KHS trio as I was warming up. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this may have been when the pressure to perform well took root.
Here's a LINK to the course.
I took a couple of laps on the course after the Elite women finished. I wasn’t immediately sure how the track did or didn’t suit me. It began on pavement to spread things out, took a few turns, then narrowed to singletrack through some woods. There was a quick pitch up after a loose left-hander that demanded preparation by shifting well in advance. Then we crossed a road to an open field where we were sent up a small hill that had a 45 degree turn right at the top, then down and around a baseball field, half of which was into the wind, then into a nice singletrack descent which naturally led to a climb which also needed to be planned for by shifting to the right gear in advance. The final stretch had us back into an open field followed by 2 sand pits with barriers in between. I was unable to ride either pit during my warmup, but figured at race-pace they’d be rideable.
I lined up on the back row with Thom and a Bikereg guy whom I’ve raced with before. The start was uneventful and I thought I was in decent position heading into the technical stuff. Got passed by a few on a turn which surprised me, I guess I didn’t have a good line. We get to the road crossing and suddenly I’m down! I must have either leaned in and tried to turn on the road or stood up to accelerate and lifted up the front end. Either way, my wheels washed out from under me and my ankle, thigh, and elbow all kissed pavement in that order resulting in some superficial scrapes on bike and body. I was in such shock! I quickly righted myself and sprinted to catch back on. All but Thom and Bikereg were now pulling away from me. I pinned it to the summit of the climb on the back side when fate knocked me down again! I believe I caught my handlebar on a little pine tree right at the top and it hooked me resulting in a fairly harmless lay down. Thom and Bikereg had to take evasive action and did some bushwacking of their own to get down the hill unscathed. I felt like a total dip for making them lose touch with the group. What was the deal with me!? I think I know, anytime I race Elite, I feel pressured to do too much too early. I was racing over my concentration level. Plus, I had all those fans there, I didn’t want to disappoint! Well, if they wanted to see me DFL, I gave them their money’s worth! So there I was, last watching the line of riders get thin and small as they cruised into the distance. Last time my dad watched me race, I was DFL thanks to a flat. Now I had only myself to blame, so I set out to try and salvage the day. Thankfully, I had no further bufonic incidents. I just set my sights on any rider ahead of me and worked on reeling them in. I quickly reeled in Bikereg, he later DNF’d. Then it was Patrick Goguen I think, he DNF’d. then it was Thom. He was a tough nut to crack as he had a proper gearing for the straights and killed it every time. unfortunately, I think the long climb actually killed him and that’s where I passed. Its hard to remember if I nipped any others in the long, middle stretch of the race. The funny thing is, apparently folks were DNFing anytime Thom and I passed them, what are chop liver?! With a couple to go, I heard 2 things from the announcer that motivated me to dig deep to finish up: 1. Mark McCormack was closing in on me and I did NOT want to get lapped and 2. The rider ahead of me was in 8th place, the final $ spot. So I found another can of whoop-ass deep inside and I set out for the CCB rider ahead of me which in turn should keep me ahead of McCormack. It all played out. I passed the finish line with Mark still a minute or so behind and I sensed I gained a lot of space on the CCB rider. See, I had been trying to be a tough guy and ride both sandpits I mentioned. The first one was tricky as it was just after a turn, so momentum was minimal, plus the entrance had evolved into a hole where more speed was scrubbed off. I finally just ran it like I’m sure everyone else was doing. I came to this realization after my right calf locked up in a cramp when I straddled my bike when I came to a dead stop mid-sand pit. The 2nd pit was no sweat as I found a nice line on the outside and could power through all day. I officially reeled in the CCb guy on the final lap at the top of the little hill which was just what I hoped would happen so I could sit on his wheel in the wind. About mid-way through the field I made my move and passed him so as to be ahead in the singletrack. It worked like a charm. He either gave up or had an issue as he was not in sight as I snuck a look back before the final journey through the sandpits.
I crossed the line out of the money officially in 8th, but still on the lead lap and with some dignity restored for just finishing. It was great to have people there, I just wish I could have given a better showing. Katherine kept me going with her cheers twice a lap. I think Joe, Gerry, and Verissa were a little unsure of whether to cheer or not because I was so far back, but knowing they were there made me work harder than I perhaps would have.
Next up is Round 5 of the NECCS @ Sterling, MA on 11/24. This looks to be my last race of the year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Porky Gulch Stage Race Report 11/3-4

Hillclimb: 4th
Crit: 2nd
‘Cross: 2nd
Overall: 2nd

I have always wanted to try this race out. But, due to the busy ‘cross season, there always seemed to be a conflict. This year was no exception as the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the New England Cyclocross Championship Series was held in CT and MA. However, I stuck with my gameplan set in the fall: if I wasn’t in the top-15 after the first 2 races, I wasn’t going to chase the series. Since I flatted in round 2 in Gloucester and finished 80th, I was definitely out of the running! So, I lured Babs and the kids into a trip to Gorham, NH for the weekend. I got the kids by staying in a hotel with a pool and gameroom, and Babs by making a stop in N. Conway for some outlet shopping!
Here are some links that explain this unique event as well as a post-race wrap-up written by the organizers, which you should read in order so I don’t have to be so verbose. It’s best described as a fun, low-key, small-scale, non-sanctioned, amateur event.

Mt. Wash. Hillclimb:
After consulting with last year’s stage winner Anders Larson and weighing my bikes, I opted to use my Major Jake for the 1.8 mile assault up Mt. Washington’s Auto Road. When I did the full hillclimb event in 2006, I used my mountain bike to be sure I had the proper gearing. My ‘cross bike has 36 inner chainring and a 12-28 cogset, so I figured I had the proper gearing and thought the lower part of the road was less steep. WRONG! Man I buried myself. I blew up so badly, my upper body was hurting as much as my legs. I thought I had a pretty good warmup, but I may have overdone the flat start relining it from the get-go, never to have a chance to recover my heartrate below 180 until the end. There were actually times when I wanted to just quit, or at least get off the bike and walk. It was the most suffering I’ve felt in a long time on the bike. And what did I show for it? A mere 4th place. I really thought this was my event to excel in, at worst finish 2nd, not get beaten by 3 others. I wish I knew what bike and gearing they used.
I now had a 13-point deficit I had to make up in the next 2 stages.

Story Land Crit:
This was by far the most unique race I have ever been involved in. We actually rode around inside Storyland around rides, pools, over bridges/traintracks, through tunnels, it was wacked! My strategy was to actually ride behind someone because there was so much eye candy, I was not confident I’d know which way to turn for the first few laps. I thought the technical nature of the course would be in my favor and give me a chance to get away, but the other racers were strong, despite the significant accordion effect in the pack. There was a long, windy straightaway which favored group riding, so a pack of 6 of us stayed together until the final lap. There was a mad sprint on the last straight before diving into the park for the final time and I was fortunate enough to be 3rd, behind legendary Paul Curley and the overall leader Pete Ostroski in first. 52 year-old Curley tapped his years of experience and executed his planned move to pass first place on a short rise mid-way through the course as I was only beginning to figure out how I could make a pass. It wasn’t until the final turn in the park that my card was played for me. Pete caught a pedal, altered his line and missed a pedal stroke. I took evasive action and just managed to avoid rear-ending him and slipped by. Unfortunately, this bobble was enough for Curley to get away and I cruised in to take 2nd. Ostroski must have struggled to regain composure as he was passed by another rider and finished 4th. So, a good point day for me, putting me only 5 back heading into the ‘cross race.

Rockpile Rampage 'Cross:
The overall stage win came down to today. The points difference between 1st and 2nd was 5, then it was 4 from 2 to 3 on down. No matter what, I needed to finish 2 places ahead of Ostroski. The previous night's weather brought rain from the hurricane, but there were no signs of it today. It was a clear, brisk, dry day almost perfect for 'cross, minus the mud. My legs felt solid and I was ready to give it to 'er! I did a couple of recon laps to discover it was a pretty long lap, with some long open straights, little technical sections, and a couple of short steeps requiring a drop to the inner ring. My confidence rose a couple of notches when I noticed Ostroski lined up on a mountain bike! The start was clean and I was 2nd. I followed the leader most of the 1ts lap, but felt he was a little slow on the turns so I took over the lead for the 2nd lap. The pace was high and the pack was quickly whittled down to me leading Curley, Ostroski, and another guy who is in the 'Cross in the Glen Series lead. My hope was to lose Ostroski somewhere back there and I accelerated on the 3rd lap, bringing only Curley with me. Unfortunately, I caught a pedal on a turn and ended up on my side. Curley passed on and by the time I righted myself, the other 2 were in tow and it was recovery time. Curley led a lap, and even Ostroski led 1 which was nice. But I was the one with the most to gain from this race so the work came on my shoulders and I found myself back out in front pushing the pace. We dropped Pettengil and on the back side of the course with 2 to go the savvy Curley made his winning move accelerating from behind me to create a gap. I responded as best I could, but for the life of me could not close the gap. Ostroski was dropped, but unfortunately there was no one between us. I could only maintain the gap Curley had on me and he went on to victory. I knew I had to catch him, but I was at my limit. Oh well, Ostroski came in 3rd and thus won the overall by 1 point.
It was a fantastic weekend overall. Although I was preoccupied with racing well (read: moody!) I was glad to have the whole family in attendance, especially hearing Drake's cheers lap after lap! I raced 3 unique events in 2 days and enjoyed the competition. This was pure fun on the bike.
Next up is the Sunday Plymouth 'Cross race.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Babs! 10/28

Babs had a birthday and she got the ultimate present, a Kona Lisa HT! Diamonds may be forever, but bikes are for riding! Now the whole family can go out for rides together.

KHS Home Race 10/20

Kents Hill School hosted 1 of the Maine High School Mountain Bike Race Series races this date. Trail conditions were awesome up until the day before the event when we received a couple of inches of rain that killed the course. Then again, its been tradition that we host a mud event so this year was no different. Kids were dying to finish!

The team pre-race with their shiny Konas

Jake suffering through

Race day was a glorious fall day


Its been quiet on the racing front the past 2 weeks, so here are some snippets of what the Wheelden boys do for kicks!
First it was the naked crit, now its crustacean 'cross!
Fenix's first solo 4-wheeler ride
Drake posing for action shots

Monday, October 22, 2007

Where was I last night?

Game 7!
Courtesy of new best friend and office-mate Jim Smucker (who's from Cleveland, poor sap!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gran Prix of Gloucester #1 & 2 Report 10/13-14

Elite Masters 35+
Day 1 18/97
Day 2 80/96 (Flatted)

There is no glorifying this weekend. I leave the first 2 rounds of the New England Cyclocross Series with bittersweet memories. These 2 events have been aptly coined “The New England World’s” given the extremely talented pool of competitors. I leave my opinions out of it, and simply present the facts, in black and white.
I headed south from the Hill early Saturday morning as Friday night was the Parents’ Weekend Auction here at school. I arrived in Gloucester, MA around 9am with ample time to pick-up my number, kit-up, take a few practice laps, and warm-up on the trainer. It was a marvelous fall morning consisting of warm sunshine and chilly air. The usual dilemma arose regarding what to wear for the race since I needed leg warmers and a thermal long sleeve jersey for warm-up. The temps were predicted to be not quite 60 by race time. So, it was shortsleeve skinsuit all the way!
Let me take a moment to explain the lineup procedure for the series’ races. Since there are a buttload of racers in almost every category, and the races last only 30-60 minutes, a proper start is integral to your success. For my group, which consists of racers age 35-54 category 1,2,3, they call up the top-15 racers from the previous race (top-10 from last year’s series), then by order of registration. Within this call up, there may be some 45+ racers who are scored separately and receive their own top-5 call up. Thus, there’s a potential for there really to be only 10 35+ call ups (out of 97+ mind you). So, there’s a race within a race to register as soon after it opens online as possible. I was in Vermont racing when it opened, so I actually had Babs register for me at the stroke of noon when it opened! She got me registered in the top 30, so that meant I was on the line in the 40’s on race day.
The race: The start was uneventful. It took me a little while to get the engines firing on full cylinders. We had about 200 yards of standard road pavement before we were condensed into 4-wide or so and onto a grassy field with turns. I don’t think I gained or lost any places. Once things were spread out, I lost some spots, but gained more. I tried to follow Big Al’s strategy of doing whatever it took to bridge any gap of the group ahead, then hang on for dear life. The problem is the top-20 guys are very fast! I tried to find a comfortable pace, but it was clear from the gun, this race was all about 100% redline effort and if you couldn’t hold on, enjoy the view from the rear. Fellow mtb and road racer Mark Gunsalus came by soon after some of the Westwood Velo legends did, and I set my goal to stay with him. I knew we were top-20, but not sure exactly where. We had a couple of Stevens Cross guys within our group so there was some entertainment. Mark did the lion’s share of the work leading us around the course which was best described as wide open with very little technical elements where I could gain some ground save for a sand pit where many ran, but was easily rideable. There was a steady breeze, so any wheel you could ride behind, the more energy you conserved. We worked pretty well together. I took a pull up the finishing straight with 2 to go and it looked like we had a chance to catch the group ahead of us which definitely had a top-15 result. But I was maxed out, I could not go any harder. Positions stayed the same, Mark finished first in our group and 1 of the Stevens guys came around me for the sprint which I had none. The worst part is, we were battling for 16, 17, and 18th spot. So, despite the fact that a top-20 finish in this field of studs is fantastic, it meant nothing in terms of the series, no call up the next day = another top-40 start!
I stayed in Cambridge overnight after spending the rest of Saturday visiting my mom at her rehab hospital, her last day. My legs felt pretty good despite the effort the previous day. I took a cold bath Saturday night and spun the junk out pretty well. Sunday saw identical weather conditions, course layout, pre-race ritual, and start position. My dad made the journey up from the Cape which was awesome. Having someone else around helps keep my mind off the lofty task at hand. Fortunately, the start went very well. I lined up on the outside right this time since the previous day’s line didn’t give me much advantage. As we tore up the paved hill, I could hear some commotion to my left as some riders went down so I was lucky not to be involved and was in excellent position hitting the grass in the top-20. I found myself in a small group with Todd Rowell, a Stevens guy again, and Big Al leading us around. It’s funny how the usual suspects find each other. It’s also funny when there is more than 1 Todd in the group, seems like I have more fans! Towards the end of a long straight, I was getting itchy to move up and Rowell must have felt the same as he pulled out just ahead of me and I grabbed his wheel. As he went by the front of the group, Al jumped in behind him, forcing me to alter my line. And that was that. I was out of the groove and my rear wheel impacted a jagged chunk of pavement resulting in a pinch flat. This unfortunate occurrence also marked an end to my quest for a top-15 finish and thus my participation in the remainder of the series. I limped around about ¼ of the course riding the flat to the pit. I passed my dad and he told me I was 44th (dang, I was top-20!). I then took WAY to much time changing the wheel. It was excruciatingly frustrating trying to loosen the brakes. I soon realized, the entire field had passed, so my sense of urgency faded. Of course I thought about bagging it right there and take a DNF. But, my dad was here, the weather was perfect, and it’s fun to ride a bike, so I finally changed the wheel and rolled on. My goal was simple, don’t finish last! It’s humbling riding around alone at the back, but I didn’t care. I was lucky enough to pass a few guys, but wasn’t fortunate enough to not get lapped by the leader just before going into my final lap. After the race, I noticed my rear brake was rubbing the spare wheel, insult to injury! I had to work twice as hard to pedal at speed than normal. No wonder I got lapped.

All photos courtesy of this guy: Paul Weiss
Despite the disappointment, I enjoyed having my dad out there cheering and spurring me on to finish. Although the course did not suit me well, I was competitive in the toughest field.
Now, rather than spend a couple of weekends away from home chasing the series, I’m hoping to spend some time with the family and participate in a few random races to wrap up the year like the Porky Gulch Stage Race and a few individual CX events in MA. Until then, it’s bottoms up!