Monday, July 20, 2015

Ara's Mammoth National Championship Race Report





Capitan,

This past weekend was the National Championships up in Mammoth Lakes, Ca. I had qualified for Cat 1 XC and went for it with all I got. Was feeling pretty good after a month long road trip that saw me ride some great single track in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. Riding with Jim Roff and Jay Shippers really honed my skills and the hours of climbing in altitude kicked my butt. With my support crew of Shortstack we headed up to Mammoth to represent and throw down some hot laps.

The course was fun! 5.5 mile circuit with appr. 1,100 feet per lap. Fun single track and a great downhill finish on Shotgun. The key for me was not to blow up on the first climb so I stayed back in last place and eyed the competition. Right away I picked off a few riders gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air. Caught up to the main group surprisingly and rode on their wheels until the front pack accelerated. Wasn't sure what place I was in but was holding my own, lap 1 hurt! Shortstack handed me my bottle for the second lap and that is where I found my rhythm. Kept on drinking Amino Vital Endurance each lap. My Sigma Rox 10.0 had me on even splits each time. The lap setting is great to have on the bike computer. Also was getting more confident on the descents, especially with Kenda Honey Badger XC Pro on the front and a Small Block 8 1.9 on the back. That back tire did not once slip on the incline or decline, very surprised!


The course had many loose sand and pumice, very chewed up of all the racing from the prior day. Sharp rocks hide under the many "baby powder" but never cut the tire or burped. My Xpedo Ti pedals took a bashing but never had an issue. The last lap was fun. As soon as I grabbed my last bottle from Shortstack on the steep fire road climb I got passed by two riders from my category. The Blackstar rider flew by and then the Velo Reno rider threw a sprint to pass me onto the single track! I calmed myself down, didn't panic, and slowly reeled him in on the long climb. Passed him near the end of the first climb and kept on the pedaling for dear life. I could see the Blackstar rider ahead of me! Racer behind me, Racer ahead of me, on the last lap! Near the top I felt my hamstring twinge, more Amino Vital needed! Powered through the pain and started to descend down Shotgun trail with reckless abandon. Good thing I had my Voler Kenda shorts on because I was pounding down that trail. Rocks were being thrown onto my Ryder Sunglasses and my Royal Quantum gloves gripped to the handlebars like an Osprey catching a Rainbow Trout. Made it down to the finish straight away and passed the line with Larry Longo's voice booming in the microphone "Ara from Backbone comes through the finish in 6th place". What?! Didn't know I was up there. Podium was 36 seconds ahead of me. The Velo Reno racer was 12 seconds behind me. Good times!

Big Thanks to Shortstack for cruising up with me to support and feed bottles. Worst photographer but most importantly the best bottle feeder, that is more important to me. Big Thank You to Roger at Kenda for the help and support also. Jim Wannamaker, KMC, chains was out there and heard him cheer us on each lap. Thank you to all the sponsors; Sigma, Xpedo, Amino Vital, Royal, KMC, Voler, Hydrapak, and many more.

Recovery time with a lot of Amino Vital Pro because this coming weekend is the Grizzly 100 at Big Bear, CA. 100km with over 10,000ft of climbing on a mountain bike hard tail.

Until then, cheers!

Fuzz

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Josh Qualls Tests His Helmet In Kentucky.




Started out as every normal club weekend ride, everyone being social, chatting about bikes, the tour and future rides.

21 of us went out for a 55 mile ride on the back country roads of Kentucky. I was out to spin out the legs and take it easy for the day.
29 miles into the ride things took a turn for the worse.

As we crest the hill the pavement was wet from the lack of sun in that neck of the woods. We were cautious on the downhill. As I leaned into the slightly left hand corner somehow my rear wheel kicked out to the right, I was able to save the skid for a few foot until I hit the section of road that had a large crack/pot holes. My rear wheel caught and stopped dead, which launched me over the bars and onto my head at 25 mph (According to my Sigma Rox 10.0) 

I rolled/slid 40 foot across broken up pavement, then 6 foot over an embankment, hit a large rock with my feet which of course had barbed wire in front of it. No joke!!!




I had road rash from my shoulders down to my ankles. As I climb up the embankment all the riders were there to lend a hand to help me back onto the road. ACE has the best people I have ever met. People were offering everything they had. A couple of riders checked over the bike as the rest were checking on me. One rider even kissed me once she found out I was okay! :-) Bike seemed okay, as did I. So what did I do?..... I finished the ride. 

My right Thrust 8 Xpedo pedal took a hard hit and broke. My helmet is cracked and possibly my frame has a small crack in it.

I have a great "nurse" taking care of me. I don't know how she's doing it. The smells that are coming from these wounds are horrendous. I'm gagging thinking about it!

PLEASE WEAR YOUR HELMET, ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN. I know I'm happy to have mine on. I may not be able to share this story with you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

100 Miles Of Florida With Josh Qualls.

            FLORIDA CENTURY





I set a goal/challenge last year to ride a century in every state.
The reason for this challenge is due to this quote:

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. --Ernest Hemingway

I remember something special about each century I have completed in the 6 states I have done so far. KY, OH, WV, NY, GA and now FL.

Florida was by far the toughest. Not only was it completely flat (other than a drawbridge, twice) it was 98°+ with 15+ sustained winds and gusts up in the 20's.
I bonked at mile 60 with muscle cramps and heat exhaustion setting in. I couldn't count the times I wanted to quit and try it another year.
I dug deep, kept my legs spinning and pushed my body to the breaking point. Around mile 80 my body started to shutdown. It took everything I had in me to hold 12 mph. I was weak, sick and ready to be finished.

I came across a beach park that had showers and I stood under the shower with my kit on trying to cool my body down. Once the water hit my skin, it felt ice cold, had chills all over my body. I swear I was having or had a heat stroke.

I kept peddling until I finally saw 100.20 miles show up on my Sigma Rox 10.0. I was never this miserable on a bike ride and never happier to finish a ride.

I should have listened to my body and stop but I'm stubborn. I'm not exactly sure what what I did to my leg but I'm walking with a slight limp. I either pulled a muscle in my leg or that muscle is knotted. Rest and recovery is in my future this week/weekend.

So happy that I don't have to do that EVER again.

Thank you Amino Vital for keeping me hydrated. I brought enough mix for 4 bottles, quickly found out that it wasn't enough.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Cuyahoga Awesomefest Special Edition With "Girls With Gears"

Muddy butts at the end of a 47 mile dirt ride through Cuyahoga National Park.

As always, driving up to Cleveland and staying at the amazing Cleveland Hostel to ride bikes on limestone towpath trails is perfect. The National park is always great, even if the last 10 miles of dirt were ridden in 6 inches of mud and a torrential downpour...on road bikes. Gotta' love the adventure, right? We saw big snapping turtles, deer, baby geese, lots of fish, old canal system locks, a guy dressed an Captain Underoo begging for change, LOTS of booze, the Christmas Story House, more mud, an historic train, The Guardians Of Transportation, The West Side Market, Great lakes Brewing Company, and picked up a legendary cake from Sue at Wild Flour Bakery in Rocky River. Thanks to everyone who made the trip and sucked it up to finish the ride! Enjoy some of the photos from the weekend...


Dawn Norris rocking the selfie.

Gina Smith laughing at a really bad joke near Brecksville Station.

Chris Blumenschein, Gina and Dawn heading back to the Hostel after Great Lakes Brewing Co. beers.

Up front with Teresa Setnar and Janis Jett along the marsh south of Boston Mill.

Janis, Dawn and Shanna at Brecksville Station.

"Hello legs? Yes...can you give me more power please? Thanks."

The Christmas Story House.



Chris B.'s BMC getting some petrol for the final push home in Boston Mill.











Ahhh the smell of chamois butter in the hair always makes Gina Smith smile.

Measuring up with Janis and Dawn.

Ara, Mark and Gabe's Big Bear Beatdown.





From the desk of Ara Movsessian;

"It was hot with some hot racing out at Big Bear this past weekend. Even though we registered at Snow Summit but we still can't use the land there. Mammoth Mountain have bought them out and it looks like they are doing great with their gravity trails. Packed with downhillers and enduro riders.

Getting hydrated was key for this race. Loading up on Amino Vital Pro on the pre-ride on Saturday and during our warm-ups in the morning . Pro/Cat 1 course was one big 24 mile loop that was pedal to the metal for the first half and then techy single track for the last half. Skyline trail kept us on our toes and what a relief not doing the "5 bitches" anymore. Had a good start and was with the pack on the beginning climb and then we got stretched out at the top.



Was in contact for the first hour and was in contact with a few of my group. Ben passed me on the single track and we had a fun time chasing each other along the new single track. Had to do a few dismounts cyclocross style and thanks to my Xpedo pedals had no problem getting in and out. Did a mental error on my shifting on one of the rocky trials section and lost Ben. Tried to catch up but I started cramping. I only had one bottle of Amino Vital Endurance, oh how I needed the second bottle of that great nectar! Pounded my last drops of AV and my Sigma Rox 10.0 showed 18 miles to go. Caught my second wind and started to haul ass down Fall Line and into the new Skyline #2 downhill to Fern Trail. Running a nice set up of Small Block Six 1.9 in the back and a Honey Badger XC pro 2.0 in the front gave me huge confidence as I passed numerous riders on the downhill section. Man, those tires grip! Blasting through the rocks would have been tricky because of the shadows being under the trees, but my Ryder sunglasses eliminated any glare and blind spots. The glasses didn't even budge off my nose as I hurdled down the side of the mountain. Finished strong into 4th place and only 7 minutes behind the winner. Big improvement since the last couple of races. I like high altitude!

Gabe Margve got 2nd place in his category only 25 seconds behind first place. He dropped a chain and while he was getting it back on his nemesis passed him! That hurts. Mark Thome through down a hot lap also and looked like he was hurting, but the guy loves it!

Big Shout-out to Stack, Joy, Big Al and his wife, Gabe's wife Dot, and Roger from KendaTire for all the support this past weekend. Can't do it without you guys."



Mark Thome was up there racing as well, and he also admits to the heat playing a major part in how he and everyone else performed over the weekend. He found more great pix of the team at www.pbcreativephoto.com for anyone who wants to check out Mr. Beckman's mad action photo skills.

With lots of "winter weight," Mark was angry with himself at being last in his class for the second race in a row...but understand that he has had a crazy schedule with his recent move back from Missoula. Insane personal lives as adults often don't lend themselves to race training, right? Mark says for each pound he loses, he should take one minute off of his lap times..sounds good to me! On a good note, he said that the last two venues (Big Bear and Sant Ynes) have both been totally revamped and the race courses are so damn fun it's just amazing. Mark is planning to roll back to Montana and do the Missoula XC race just for fun, and toss in some OTH events back at Irvine Lake. GO THOME!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Josh Qualls And The Mothman

From the saddle of Josh Qualls...
"Legend has it that a mythical being has been spotted in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia since the late 1960's.The first believed sighting was November 12th, 1966. Five men who were digging a grave at the cemetery near Clendenin, WV claimed to see a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads.
A few other sightings happened over the following year leading up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, December 15, 1967 and the death of 46 people. People speculate that those sightings and the collapse were connected.
After mapping out a route with the Sigma Data Center I was off for a long solo ride, 124.6 miles (which is my personal record for a solo ride) to see the statue of The Mothman.
With a tail wind, I managed to average 20 mph on the trip up. I made it to my destination a lot fast than I had thought. The statue stood tall, at least 12 foot. It's red eyes seemed to glow as it looked over the Ohio River.



I knew with the tail wind, I was going going to have a horrible head wind on the way home, so I skipped the Mothman Museum and headed home. There were times I was holding 15 mph and my Sigma was beeping at me alerting me about staying in my training zone. I looked down and my heart rate was 170+.
Over the 124 miles I still averaged 18.4 mph. I must say it was worth the ride to see the statue.
Thank you Amino Vital for keeping me hydrated on such a long day on the bike. I can't wait to try the new formula."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ara's 2015 Sea Otter Report



Captain,

It has been almost a decade since I attended the bicycle racing orgy that is Sea Otter and nothing has changed. You have your gravity punks, XC gram counters, shaved legs roadies, and a sprinkle of trials/cyclocross/average Joe's having fun in Monterrey. The setting shouts fast being on the Laguna Seca Speedway. The festivities are endless and the shwag from companies to wow you. Great excuse to mingle and say thank you to various sponsors.

Wasn't feeling too good going into Sea Otter. Catching a nasty head and chest cold put me out of US Cup Bonelli the weekend before and off the bike for 5 days. Got there on Friday with Gabe and registered for Cyclocross and XC, what the heck, got to have fun! Pre-ride on Friday afternoon was painful. Congested, mucous, and green goo coming out of everywhere. Sleeping in on Saturday was in order.

Cyclocross! It has been over 4 months since cyclocross season ended but it came back quick. surprised on the field size of 43! Had a great start and was holding my own on the techy jump section and fly over. I could feel the power waning as the race went on but was stilling holding on the top ten. Was wearing my Sigma Sport jersey to represent and it was covered in snot, sorry for the mental image. Two laps to go and crowd was going crazy near the Sierra Nevada Beer Garden. Then WHAM! Hit a curb and pinch flatted my front. Just like that I was out. The Kommando wheels are great but the Laguna Seca raceway curb has taken out Dugatis also. Broke my heart. It is what it is. Fun while it lasted. Took a parade lap and chugged a beer from a heckling fan followed by Amino Vital Pro grape to recover.

Saturday night I was coughing up blood (Gabe is my witness). Was not feeling good at all. Woke up at 6am and headed to the XC race. With 5 minutes to spare got in my Cat 1 group and took off on the tarmac. Lets just say I was "racing" the 24 mile 3300ft of climbing course. Had fun, got a good workout in, more yellow mucous with a little bit of blood came out, and most importantly represented our sponsors. My Kenda Honey Badger XC Pro were a great choice because there were some sandy spots and my Sigma Rox 10.0 registered a climb at 18% but still didn't slip. I lost my Ryder sunglasses on a gravel downhill but the guys at the Ryder booth were super nice. Did not cramp up when I was pushing it to finish the course in 1 hour 48 minutes.

KEN is the MAN! Ken from Xpedo is awesome. He rebuilt my mtb pedals and hooked me up with the "Beard" socks. Crash and the Beard are super nice American Classic/Raleigh pro team racers. These guys are rippers! Major respect.

Gabe Margve got 8th place in his category but could have done better if it wasn't for the slowpokes on the single track climb. Great Job old man! Mark is officially back and raced last second on Sunday!

Major props to Ed from Voler, KMC,  and Jay from Royal.

Santa Ynez is in two weeks, hopefully it gives me time to recover and build up again,

Until then,

Fuzz

Three Races In One Weekend For Josh Qualls




Decided that I was ready for some suffering to see how my training did over the winter. I drove down to Tennessee for the Three River Rumble in Kingston TN. (About 4.5 hours from home) 
It's a 2 day 3 race event. 

Day one: Time trail in the morning and a Crit in the afternoon. 

The time trail was a great course with a few fast turns and a couple of small rollers. I held a 25.2 mph average (on a regular road bike) with a max speed over 34 mph. Placed 3rd with just 4 seconds between 2nd and myself.

The Crit
The course was a figure 8 set up with 8 turns in .8 miles. It was fast to say the least. You were either going into a corner, in a corner, or coming out of one the entire race. 
The field was small, which meant more work. No time for resting. We averaged 22.6 over a 30 minute race. 
I was very impressed with the Novatec Impulse Wheelset with the Kenda Kountach mounted on them. I was taking more than 90° corners at speeds of 26+ mph and was never worried they'd lose grip. Grabbed 3rd place again for the second time in one day.

Day two: Road Race

Oh my! Where do I start with this race. With 90% chance of rain in the forecast, I was a little nervous.
20 minutes before my start time the rain let up, only for it to come down harder as the whistle blew. Off we went with 26 miles of hard racing ahead of us. With 11 riders in the group, we stuck together for the first maybe 2 miles. As we crested the first climb, 4 of us had a small gap on the others. We made the descent at speeds of 35+ mph the sky threw everything it had at us. I was soaked to the bone within 4 miles of the race. The 4 (two guys were on the same team) of us worked together to get a nice gap in between us and the peloton. 
We had a 3 minute lead at the half way point. Did I mention that it was raining?? Hard??
The teammates attacked and left me and the other guy working hard to catch up, which we failed....
So it was him and I going for the last podium spot. With 2 races in my legs and him not racing the day before, I didn't have enough gas in the tank to keep him from taking it away from me. 
3rd was just out of reach but happy with 4th place after the weekend I had.

On the 26 mile course I averaged 22.2 mph with 1400+ in climbing. 
I'm so glad I had my Sigma Rox 10.0 set up to alert me with a tone about my heart rate because I couldn't see it the entire race. 

I'm calling this weekend a huge success in my books. I was the only one who had raced all 3 races during the weekend that were in the top 5 of the road race. 

P.S. Shout out to Amino vital for keeping me hydrated even though there was plenty of water coming out of the sky and off the tires in front of me, I still managed to down a full bottle of the Amino vital Pro grape in the road race.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Randy Eats S**t In Fontucky!



"Cap'n,
Well after another busy week (and no riding) I headed out to Fontucky for the final round of the winter series feeling pretty damn good about myself! Rolled out Friday to arrive late afternoon and get settled in for the night. I'm glad I missed a couple of rounds because those were 60 mile an hour Santa Ana winds and a rainy cold one so damn happy I missed them.
Saturday morning did the usual routine and headed to the stating line. Smaller turnout than the two previous races I did but still ten guys in my class. Actually got off to a decent start running the top ten as Donnie combined four different age groups. After the paved road climb headed up to the elevator shaft I believe it's called I just had a feeling this might not be a great day...more on that to come.



So one guy I've been having some good battles with was just in front of me and I'm thinking just relax and stick here and everything is good. Halfway through the first lap I get stuck behind some slower traffic coming into a section called the luge. At the top of it I get past the last guy and head down. Now I'm trying to make up some time and hit the G-out, head back up a little into a right hander, then downhill and catch a lip with my front wheel and eat shit as bad as I ever have on a bike.
I have never hit the ground that hard on my bike, motorcycle yes bike no! got up and stood there for four minutes or so shaking the cobwebs out thinking "ok they are gone I will just DNF and call it a day." When I got to the finish line I thought "I've never quit a race in my life and I'm not started now." My second lap was slow but did catch a few guys and ended up finishing 7th on the day which was my best finish so far this year... so actually I was pretty happy.


Thank you to all of our team sponsors: Amino Vital, Kenda tires, Ryders eyewear, Sigma sport, Hydrapak, KMC chains, Xpedo pedals, They are absolutely the best in the business!
Won't be able to make Bonelli next weekend but should be good for Fontana national.
Till then have a good one Cap'n.
Randy"