Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Enchilada Buffet 2013

First off, thanks to the EB crew for putting on a great ride and going above and beyond with the Silipints. I know the kind of effort it takes to put on an event like this and you guys rocked it. Thanks to the Trail Angels along the way, I count on those water stops to keep me going. Finally, a big heartfelt thanks to the beer and BBQ at the end - you were delicious.

This year, I'm sporting a new Anthem thanks to the boys at Texas Cycle Werks and their warranty mojo. The 1x10 gearing usually isn't an issue but it made me a bit sad when, basically against my will, I had to pass guys on the road hills. I remember whining to Vince Colvin about it as I regretfully passed him on City Park road (but I don't WANNA go faster than you!).  This year, I set a goal of 9 hours which, considering the re-routes due to mother nature's tantrum in the Greenbelt, seemed achievable barring any mechanical issues.

The ride started at 6:40 and by about 6:42 my feet were wet and would stay that way the rest of the day. I'd taken Bill's advice, however, and was pimping some wool socks. They don't help with the pruning and they sure don't dry any quicker but they keep your feet a nice regular temperature no matter how wet they get. Thanks Bill (good finish by the way).

The roll down to BCGB was fun and uneventful. As we arrived at the pool and everyone piled into that limestone stair/chokepoint I was thinking "we're all good, this'll be no problem, just like last year. Oh, wait, except that guy - he's not gonna make it..." then he starts dabbing on the stairs and basically ended up running down those steps straddling his top tube - slightly scary but mostly pretty funny.

The Barton Creek Greenbelt was pretty torn up from the flood, but shadows of all the lines were still there so it wasn't that bad. My wife, daughter and mother were waiting for all of us at the turn into Jedi. I stopped to get a quick smooch from my kiddo, which, for the next few hours, Shane Wolfe would refer to as that 'illegal emotional handup' I received. Haha.

Shane and I rode the rest of the Greenbelt in tandem until the HOL. Shane wisely chose to walk several of the ledges near the end but I saw the photographer and decided to ham it up a bit. At the top of the HOL I popped through the gate and caught up to Nick Picchetti at the light. Just as the light turned green Shane slid in right behind us and the 3 of us headed off to City Park. I asked Nick how old he was. He says '22'. I looked back at Shane - "forty" and  I said "thirty-eight" and just like that Nick just moved in front of the geriatrics and started pulling our old asses down the road like a freight train. As we crossed over Bee Caves I was watching for a gap to move across the ramp and accidentally kicked up a stick - right into Shane's wheel. Thankfully, according to Shane, his spokes "Ginsu'd the motherfucker" and we blissfully carried on.

We caught up to Vince and few other riders at a light and we all started Courtyard together. I ended up walking the end to conserve the legs. Caught back up to Vince on City Park road and spent a few minutes coveting his 26 tooth front ring before 'effective gear inches' forced me to pass him. Just as I was entering CP Shane caught back up with us (he'd held back on 360 a bit). There was a big group of guys in front of us that were confused about the correct way into CP. I just took the route I'd learned last year and Shane yelled to them to follow us. One of them for sure did - Mary Kovacs. Quick note about Marty - he brought extra matches to burn on Saturday. Poor guy didn't know the route through CP though, so he was literally making all the climbs and waiting on us at the top. Finished up CP with my 2nd fastest time ever, I can thank Marty for pulling and Shane for pushing me to a near-PR in an endurance event - jerks. ;)

Mixed up my Infinit at the Trail Angel stop (thank you) and got back on the road. About halfway up CP road I started getting some cramping that I'd be dealing with the rest of the ride. The road miles were taking their toll on me; I don't ride road much and spinning in the saddle isn't in my wheelhouse due to some soft-tissue nerve damage. It was literally a relief to drop into St. Eds and Thumper after the road. Next year, I'll be conditioning my hamstrings to do something other than hold my bottom out of the saddle while I descend...

Shane and I caught up to Nick at the 2222 light and we rode with him all the way through St. Eds. St. Eds was a good time - forgot how frickin steep that trail is on the descent - fun though. We lost Nick at Cindy's station (thanks Cindy - again!) as he had some adjustments to make to his bike. Shane and I dropped into Thumper and pretty much immediately saw some guy walking backwards up the trail. He had a half-crazed look and said he'd been wandering around for 35 minutes. We told him to hop on but he just kept shuffling about - he's probably still in there. As we neared the Wall we saw Jason Smith above us through the trees. We thought it was strange that he was behind us since he is way faster than us; turns out he spent 20 minutes wandering around in St. Eds proper before he found his way to the hill. You should check out his Strava - it's pretty funny. Rolled out of Thumper, grabbed a bit of cold water and found the guys in front of us (Colvin & Royle) had left 20 minutes before. Shane suggested that we keep a nice sane clip over to Walnut and bang out the lap since we weren't going to catch the next guys and we hadn't seen anyone behind us for a while.

Shane was looking mighty spry, and he pulled most of the Parmer wind-tunnel which was awesome. Rolled the Walnut lap without incident and came in at 2:59pm, 8h19m after starting, tied for 16th place with Shane (Strava link). I think if the BCGB lap would have been the same as last year, we would have hit our 9hr goal so I'm happy with the results.

Thanks to Shane Wolfe and Nick Picchetti for pulling and the Trail Angels for the water and smiles. Thanks to my wife, mother and daughters for all the cheering. Thanks again to the EB crew - great event.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2014 Shimano XT Wheelset 29er - First look

Got my hands on an early version of the 2014 XT wheelset.

Weight front (w/o skewer): 849 grams
Weight rear (w/o skewer): 1018 grams
Total wheel set weight (w/o skewers, with valves): 1867 grams

Tubeless, come with valves and rear skewer. Front wheel is 15 thru axle. Centerlock wheels.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ATX100k - Reveille Peak Ranch

I had a tough time sleeping the night before this ride. The last minute venue change had me nervous that no one would show up AND it was raining off and on all night. When I woke up, it was a torrential downpour and there were already posts at 5am from riders wondering if we were on. On the drive out my phone was buzzing with questions about the ride. I did my best to get the message ‘it’s ON, Burnett is dry’ but driving through the apocalyptic storm required some attention.
In a testament to Central Texas rider’s overall gnarliness, 40 (!) riders braved the weather to come out to a venue that was much harder than the ride they’d been training for. We rounded up the riders, got them registered and started our first group just after 8.
My first lap felt good and I rounded the finish about a minute before the lead group was heading out. John Russell called to me to ride with them but I knew I couldn't maintain their pace. I made up my Infinit and hopped on the bike. On my way out I saw Al coming in – he’d started in the 2nd group so I knew he was making really good time. The second lap I rode a bit with Colvin and Schaller but we got separated at some point (it’s blurry). Got to chat a bit with Antonio who had had a lap from hell and was walking his crippled bike (bummer). 3rd lap fatigue was starting to kick in and the heat was getting to me. The sun would blaze out at different times for the rest of the day and any time you were over the slickrock it was like riding a hotplate. Stifling is too mild a word for the combo of the sun above, radiant rock below and the rising steam. At the end of my 3rd lap I took a long break to try to get my core temperature down. I was dumping ice water over my head and it still took me ~10 minutes of that for my head to stop throbbing. Popped some Advil and extra electrolytes, chugged a bunch of ice water, dumped my Infinit into my pack and headed out for the 4th lap. By this time I was walking most of the technical climbs to prevent flubbing a line, panic-dabbing and cramping a calf. The 4th lap definitely felt better than the 3rd but it was hotter. The 5th lap brought some reprieve from the sun since it was well past its zenith. Also, every time I passed a rock feature or a climb I got to say “I won’t have to ride this bastard again for a year” so that helped a lot. I felt like I was barely making any forward progress for the last half of the 5th lap, crawling along in granny. Near the end of the race loop I heard brakes behind me – Johnny was closing in fast.  Russell would normally be hours in front of me, but he’d had a really freaky forearm cramp during his 2nd lap that worried him so he was just doing a chill pace for the last 3 laps (his ‘chill’ pace made up 30 minutes on my ‘I’m about to barf up my soul’ pace). With Johnny on my tail and 3 miles to go I dug down into whatever I had left and rolled across the finish line with 2 minutes to spare before Johnny came through.
Interesting comparison for Austin mountain bikers: the Enchilada Buffet took me 9:47 (8:18 moving time) to cover 82 miles. This ride took me 10:13 (8:57 moving time) to cover 62 miles.
Thanks again to Todd and Tony for scouting the course knowing they’d probably have to take a DNF the day of the race to get it done. Thanks to Gary for helping manage the crowds during the rain crisis. Thanks to Robert for taking the hit on his 4th and final lap to stop and pick up the race signs. Big thanks to Vol out at Reveille Peak Ranch for his willingness to help us with the emergency move. Finally thanks to all the riders who had the faith and the stones to come out and attempt this monster.