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Mejo Piscina Ride (Italy)

August 20, 2009

Yesterday Renzo (www.mtbclub.eu)  and I got together for a nice ride up the mountain. It’s well over 90 degrees here in Italy, but the weather is perfect and it was hard to resist a challenge like this. I started from Franci’s house in Porcia and met Renzo at his place in Fontannafreda where we checked over the bikes for a few minutes and almost decided to go to the Pordenone pool instead. Mejo Piscina means just that–“the pool would’ve been better”. As we made our way up the road it seemed to get hotter and it was only 0830. I have to admit that sitting around the pool catching some sun and eating 10lbs of gelato would’ve been easier, but the ride and the company was great.
We rode up a rocky trail that hit 20% in a few places and came down one of the longest, sketchiest descents I’ve ever ridden. The rocks on this descent get more loose and seemingly more steep every time we ride it.
The best part of the whole thing is I was on my old hardtail with the 80mm Manitou Skareb. I don’t know what I was thinking. The bike was in terrible shape when I got here and it took me almost 4 hours to get everything ready. I’m still a bit sore, but I had a great time. I also discovered 2 things:
1. Full suspension bikes are where it’s at if you’re riding here
2. Climbing is good
Here’s some stats from the ride:
Temp. at the start 27 degrees
Temp. Col dei Scios 30 degrees
Temp. Piancavallo 28 degrees
Temp. Budoia 34 degrees and humid
Temp. Asphalt too hot to touch
Dati tecnici:
Km 75
Climbing Tot. 2100 mt
Km climbing 30,52
Max Alt. 1569 mt
Avg Climb 6%
Max Climb 23%
Km descending 34,74
Avg Descend -5%
Max Descend -13%
Total pedaling time ~6 hours
Avg Spd 12,00 Km/H
Max Spd 64,58 Km/h

GPS: http://www.mtbclub.eu/gpx/2009/MPiscina/MejoPiscina.htm

Always a great time when I ride with this guy.
Grazie, Renzo.

The Eifel Classic 2009

August 16, 2009

hector-eifel-classic-09-fix

This year I got to help organize the Eifel Classic.  This is our road race at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.  The course is basically 5 laps (50k) around the perimeter of the airfield.  In previous years the race was part of a series that included 4 races: the first in Italy and the other three at bases here in Germany. One of them was actually at an outside Velodrome. This year more funding was directed to the super intense sports like bowling, men’s softball and bowling, so the series was cut back to 2 stand alone events.

My job was getting the word out and bringing in the riders.  Sending out and answering emails and making sure everyone knew what, when and where.  I got to work with the Base Fitness Center who handled marketing, set up, tear down, volunteers and everything else.  Up until this I really didn’t have any experience organizing races and I had no idea what kind of work went into these things.

The race went pretty well.  There is always an overall winner but the MWR Series races also have 3 categories: Men’s Open, Men’s Senior, and Men’s Master.  Same categories for the ladies.  Our goal was to get the overall win and put a rider on the podium for every category.

As soon as the race started our fastest rider Martin took off and pretty much soloed the whole race for 1st overall.  We had 2 of the 3 women riders, so we had that covered also.  With Martin in the lead and another rider at the front, my job was to protect our Men’s Master winner and keep him in 1st for his category.  I’ve never done this “team tactic” thing before, but I have to admit it was pretty fun.   Dan was really grateful for the effort and he thanked me a few times after the race and I left feeling pretty good about it.

This was also my first time on the new Race Face Cadence components. I really like the position on the handle bar, probably because I spend so much time on the hoods. The crankset got quite a few looks and a lot of questions because most of the other riders didn’t know Race Face made road components. Now they do.

Next year, my goal is to get 50 riders.  With the little bit of experience I picked up at EC09, I’m sure next year’s EifelClassic will be a success.  Note to self: roadies like cool event t-shirts.

Kenda Dread Tread 1.80 DTC Review.

August 9, 2009

After an encounter with a barbed wire fence on Tuesday, I parked the Rush for a few days while I healed up.  Saturday I was ready to go, so I got dressed, grabbed all my stuff and headed to the shack for the bike.  Much to my horror the back tire was flat.  Since I use Stan’s in my bikes I knew the cut had to be pretty bad.   I aired it up, spun the wheel a few times and let it seal.  A few hours later it was down again, so I finally decided to take a better look at it.  The rear tire hit the barbed wire in two places and cut the side wall pretty deep.  It probably would’ve lasted a bit longer, but I didn’t want to have to worry about it going flat on a ride.

Breaking the bead on a Kenda sealed up with Stan’s was a sad moment.  The two work so well together.  Sometimes it’s a pain to get the tires to seal, but once they do their usually good for a season.  I’ve come back from 5 month deployments and found about 20 psi in this set up.  I ended up changing them out for a set of UST Karma 1.95 just to change things up and I figured it was time for a review.

I mounted up the Dread Treads with Stan’s about a year ago and went a whole race season trouble free.  This includes about 8 races in Germany and one in Italy.  The year prior I was running a Nevegal in the front and a Small Block 8 on the rear (also a great set up).  I never had a problem unless the mud was so deep that I had to run anyway.  They rolled great and were relatively smooth even on the street.  Most of the races here have alot of fire roads leading to short sections of single track and the Dread Treads never missed a beat.  I keep them at about 28 psi and never had a problem with the slick roots and rocks here in Germany.  On the mud I just sat back a bit and pedaled up stuff I had to run with the Small Block 8.  Cornering was decent and even as the wore a bit they still worked well.

The only issue I had was the narrow size and this was only in Italy.  On the trails with fist sized rocks the rims took a few nice hits.  I think with a larger size, maybe even the next size up this wouldn’t be an issue.  Overall the experience was a great one and I’d recommend these to anyone racing XC or marathon style races.

Note: Using Stan’s in Kenda tires voids the warranty.

Lesson learned: Avoid the barbed wire.

August 4, 2009
Germs!

Germs!

Today ended on a nice note.  After working 12 hours on one of the nicest days we’ve had here in a while I decided to go for a ride on the MTB.  With about 5 minutes to go, on a nice down hill single track (one of the few), I wiped out and slid along a barbed wire fence for a while before landing in a cow pasture.

Cow shit + rusty barbed wire + open wounds = massive infection.  I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.  After finding my Ipod and bike tool, I started riding home.   Got home, cleaned up and headed to the Bitburg ER where I was seen pretty quickly.  I voted for no stitches mostly due to the fact that they’re not big on numbing stuff up before poking at it (and because I hate needles).

I ended up not wearing chem gear all week, but I also missed out on a nice marathon race.  Life is give and take I suppose.

Schlaflos im Sattel (Sleepless in the Saddle) 2009

August 1, 2009
My lights on the shelf.  They spend the weekend there.

My lights on the shelf. They spend the weekend there.

This should actually be called “Sadness in the Saddle.”  2009 would have been the third year for me at SIS, but instead I spend the weekend at work.  The really shitty part is I was at work getting ready for an exercise (that was pointless) the next week.  That Tuesday on the first day of the exercise during a ride, I ended up hitting a barbed wire fence.  I basically spent the rest of the week covered in gauze and not doing anything.  Fun times.

The winner rode 16 laps.  Last year with very little prep I rode 12.

If you enjoy working weekends, 12 hours a day, getting paid the same as a bunch of goons who work 8, and not ever being able to plan anything, I’d highly recommend joining the Air Force and getting a job on the flightline.

This is getting old.

RODENBACH TVR (USFE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE #6)

July 26, 2009
Start at Rodenbach. Photo by Krista

Start at Rodenbach. Photo by Krista

Rodenbach is always and absolute blast.  It’s only an hour away by car, so I can get there nice and relaxed and I don’t have to shell out a bunch of dough for a hotel (camping is out of the question).   This is also the 3rd year for this race and as usual, it keeps getting better.

The Rodenbach TVR hosts the race which is part of the MTB Saar Cup series as well as the USFE Championship Series.  It’s always great to race with the local clubs and all the usual suspects were present. The only thing missing was the usually much larger military group.

Year after year the organizers find a way to make the course better for everyone.  I really don’t know how they do it.  This one was fast with lot’s of single track mixed in with passing areas on fire roads.  There was only one slightly long technical descent which opened up onto some fire roads leading back through a field to the start finish.  Rodenbach is unique because of the way they start the race.  With a field of over 150 racers heading onto a short stretch of road leading to single track, the organizers use a staggered start.  Racers line up according to thier number and start 3 at a time every minute.  The start line is also separated from the race.

“Mountain Bike Time Trial” comes to mind when I think about this race.  The lower numbers start first, so it was a bit easier to tell how I was doing as I caught riders in front of me.  There is also an advantage for the riders in the back if they know what times the first riders are getting.

I didn’t really prepare for this one like I should have, but I ended up with a decent finish anyway.  I ended up winning the military side overall with a 1:15:27 in Men’s Open and a 17th place in the when mixed up with the German riders.  I was really hoping to break into the top 10 at this one, but I’m still happy with the result.  The course was so fast that I spent a good amount of time in the big ring then down to the second for the hills.  Another race with flawless shifting on the new Next Crank set.  I stayed with the 1.80 Kenda Dred Treads for this one and I was really happy with the decision as I was thinking about going with the Kenda Karma’s.

Cheesecake!!

Cheesecake!!

Post race: after a race like this it’s always great to know that our German host’s have that food thing covered.  Frikadella sandwich, cheesecake, apple cake, 2 bottles of water and a coffee for 5 euros.  Entry fee with early registration was 13.  Where else can you get a great race on a great course, a t-shirt and a bunch of great food for 17 euros? Only at Rodenbach.

The race organizers where fantastic.  The course was marked well and early, there was a covered area for eating and for the families to hang out,  showers, prizes and great competition.  I look forward to another year at Rodenbach.

If you’re in the area and want to check it out go to this site:

http://www.radsport-tvr.de/ –it’s in German, but around race time they put info in English.  Tim, one of the organizers is also really great about responding and helping out riders who haven’t honed thier German speaking skills.

Huge thanks to Race Face, Kenda,  Volvo,  Service Credit Union and Speedgoat for all the faith and support!

ANSBACH KNOBBY JAM (USFE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE #5)

July 18, 2009

Trying to get to the front.

Trying to get to the front.

This is the 3rd year I’ve been going to this race and it’s one I always look forward to.  There’s always a great vibe at our MTB Series events, especially this one.  Last year a racer came through the start finish with a flat and one lap to go.  He left with two tubes and ended up using one and giving the other away.  I was standing with small group of riders who finished and were at the start/finish cheering on the rest of the field.  The flatted rider told us he wasn’t going to finish the race because he was out of tubes.  Before I knew what was happening there were people pulling his wheel off, running for tubes and searching for a pump.  That rider finished the race and and we waited to make sure.  That’s what it’s all about!

Seeing familiar faces and talking with friends right before ripping it up on a great course always makes for an awesome weekend.  The Ansbach Crew always hosts a top notch event and this year it was even better for two reasons: the course had some new sections added and there were no paintballer guys shooting near the race.

In the past the course has been dry and fast.  There are always the two big climbs which were always riddable and a long stretch of single trail going back out onto the road that was a blast to ride.  They were both still there this year, but both were pretty slick.  At dinner that night we were talking about the race when out of nowhere came a downpour that lasted almost all night.  Hmm.

I knew getting out fast was going to be key because most riders would be forced off the bikes for the first part of the initial climb and I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic.  Four riders got out before me and three of them disappeared until I saw them at the finish line.  The Kenda Dread Treads did a great job of keeping me upright in the turns, but after a whole night of rain even running up the hill was a challenge.

The second climb was just as muddy so off I went, bike in hand running up the hill and jumping on before a nice piece of single trail with some off camber turns and a sudden climb that took us out into a field then onto a road.  The rest of the course went by some construction on fire roads for about 2km before getting inot some freshly cut trail right before the start/finish.  The sudden changes made getting from the big ring to the second ring quickly important and the Next crankset didn’t dissapoint.

I felt pretty good on the second lap and I still had some left on the third.  I turned it up a bit and was able to reel in  a rider right before the finish to come in 4th overall and 2nd in the Men’s Open cat.  The rest of the team did really well and we took home 3 more podium finishes at this race.  Another great event.

A huge thanks to Race Face, Kenda Tubes and Tires, Volvo and Service Credit Union for the faith and support!

Next week: Rodenbach!