Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eatonville Road Race

Today I was able to drag out my road bike for the first time in a long time. Since maybe September. Has anyone else noticed that it is always either wet or dark this time of year?

I'm pretty sure I was the only person using downtube shifters or a 20+ year old bike. The bike worked wonderfully, like it always does, except for one problem: my rain bike (that I always ride this time of year) has a rapid rise derailleur and down tube shifters so I had to constantly remind myself to shift in the opposite direction. I wish there were rapid rise short cage derailleurs available.

There was a dusting of snow and black ice on some of the hills approaching Eatonville on the way to the race but thankfully the race course was in good shape- no ice. It was a good circuit, with a couple of decent hills to keep things interesting. A starbucks rider went off the front right after the first lap and stayed there for at least 1.5 laps before a 6 man chase group including myself caught him. We had to ride hard to catch him. He was willing and able to immediately start taking turns pulling after being caught. After drilling it for most of the race in our 7 man group, and riding solo for 1.5 laps, he won the sprint- this dude was really strong! I was feeling a little worse every lap and with 1k to go, when the accelerations started happening, it was everything I could do to stay on a wheel, let alone counter. I didn't contest the sprint and wound up seventh. I think my man Todd Morse Tucker was third.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just the facts

I've noticed that in the last 10 years there has been a trend for ski manufacturers to print the dimensions of skis on the ski itself. I like this. These are my backcountry skis: 184cm long, 105mm at the shovel, 71mm at the waist, 90mm at the tail. These dimensions, along with the method of construction and stiffness, give you a good idea about how the ski performs. This is a fairly narrow ski by recent standards, moderately stiff, foam core. A good lightweight ski to handle variable conditions in the backcountry.

It would be nice if bike manufacturers would do the same thing. Rather than pointless subjective descriptions like "laterally stiff, vertically compliant" we could have numbers for top tube length, head angle, fork rake, tubing diameter and wall thickness. That and the type of tires on the bike determine how it will handle. Put it in fine print on the seat tube. Just the facts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mashel Nisqually kermesse

First road win! Granted the field had 12 riders. Due to the big turnout for ASK there was a Cat 4/5 race at 9am and everyone else at 11am. I guess nobody wanted to show up at 9am to race. It worked out well for me though- being my daughters birthday I could do a race in the morning without being gone all day and being a deadbeat dad. Maybe everyone went skiing instead, which I was tempted to do too. But then I would have been a deadbeat dad and also maybe a dead dad given all the avalanches yesterday.
Anyway, even given the small field I was proud of myself because Todd, Nolan, and I formed the initial lead group and I couldn't keep up with either of them at ASK. They may be Cat 4 on the road but both of them are badass Cat 2 cyclocrossers and this is a 1 hour race that is half dirt. Todd started riding off ahead of us after a few laps. I thought that might be good, Nolan and I could let Todd dangle off the front and wear himself out. The distance got to be a bit much though so I bridged up to Todd and Nolan didn't come with me. Todd and I rode together the rest of the time. I tried to drop him on the Mur du Mashel on the last lap and it didn't work. Coming onto the road I was in front and forced him to lead out the sprint, tucked in behind him, and came around at the last minute.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Andy Salmon kermesse

Great day for a bike race. Mt Rainier stood as a proud sentinel over the course. I wish I had pictures but its hard to do when your pulse is 180. Or more. I saw some strong cyclocrossers at the start and figured those are the guys to watch- Todd Tucker, the OTB crew, Bill Booth. And I did watch them ride away from me with a few other people. Nothing much I could do about it. I fell in to a group with Hahn Rossman, a couple of Apex guys, and a Starbucks rider. I would usually pull on the road, Hahn would take over on the dirt and downhills. It worked well because Hahn is a good descender- there was no touching of the brakes down the rocky Mur du Mashel. He and I were both riding on wider 32mm tires which probably helped. We were never able to put too much time into the Apex riders on the dirt though, and they were not too eager to help pull on the paved section. There seemed to be a lot of flats/mechanicals- not very surprising given the bumpy dirt section. It must have taken a toll on the lead group too because at the end there were only 3 guys ahead of our group. On the last paved uphill leading to the finish I was able to drop everyone except one of the Apex guys, who of course pipped me on the line.

This was my first kermesse- style race and it was a blast. I used my cyclocross bike with 32mm Panaracer Paselas and didn't change out the gearing- I've got 46-36 chainrings and a 12-27 cassette. 45 psi in the front and 55 psi in the back. I wouldn't have changed anything with the setup and the other racers I talked to seemed to feel that cyclocross gearing was plenty adequate too.