Monday, June 25, 2012

Lake Hope Race With Sean & Jeff

It was a scorcher this weekend in central Ohio. Not quite as bad as it had been, but plenty warm and humid for a mountain bike race. Luckily, Lake Hope is a regional fave for a XC race.  Flowing and fun singletrack darting through the woods makes for a fun day of suffering. Sean had stopped by to get his KMC X9SL chain mounted up the day before, with some brake work thrown in for good measure.  His Tomac Carbide was ready to race! 

We rolled south to the Zaleski State Forest early to get registered up and wait for Tookie, who was en route from Kentucky. Chillaxing in the shade, we got the boys ready to race and Dan Clark's wife and I rolled out to the feed zone to keep our people well fed and hydrated on a hot as hell afternoon. Thanks to HYDRAPAK for such amazing products like the GEL-BOT and DUAL-BOT...they completely saved the day. With a large number of racers DNF'ing in the feed zone thanks to failing legs, hydration was key to success here.

The guys looked surprising good, despite Sean's pre-race regimen of titty-bars and White Castle until 4 a.m. the day of the race. Jeff actually did NOT eat his weight in fried chicken before the race...unusual I know..but that seemed to work.  As everyone cam across the finish line, and results began to tabulate..we ended up with a stellar first place finish for Jeff in Clydesdale! The Slant Sixes really were a very popular tire for the guys this weekend, with only Sean running something slicker up front (like a Small Block!).

 Sean's new chain coupled with a 4 year-old cassette (I had no idea it was that old) would result in a poorly shifting drive train that would slow him down a great deal in the hill sections. With no crashes, no injuries and no mecahnical was a successful weekend of the guys racing...and me HECKLING!  YAY HECKLING!


Cal State Season Finale Report

Capitan Christopher H. Sharp, here is the race report from the Cal
State Championships,

Cannot believe the whole US Cup Series and State Championships have
come and gone this season. Our last chance for redemption was last
weekends Cal State Championships in Big Bear. One time shot for glory.

After the US Cup West Series Finals debacle where I had just gotten
back from backpacking, I really wanted to prep myself for this race.
So, I decided to go up to Mammoth Mountain for four days and train up
there. Got in really good training rides on their singletrack trails in
and long road rides. Kept my hydration up with Amino Vital during and
after the rides. Riding in 8,000-10,000 elevation really makes a
difference when you have to race at 7,000ft. Rested on Saturday, ate
super healthy (bacon wrapped almond dates), and had a good night sleep.
Next morning Shortstack and I loaded up the Sigma EZ up of Impending
Doom, trusty ol' steed Tomac Type-X 26er, and a cooler of beer.

Mark Thome showed up to make our little homebase in the parking lot.
Thank goodness for the Sigma EZ up because the day was turning to be a
hot one. Shortstack I think fell asleep before he went over to the
Kenda Trailer to help out, good idea! Had a good hour of warm up in and
absolutely did not feel the altitude up there for the first time.

Feeling good by now, lets head up to the start line!

Gun goes off (Tom's voice) and we go off straight up the mountain. Legs
feel great, breathing feels great, I'm actually ahead of others and
keeping up with the pack until the "Cat 1" who should be Pro's just
take off. Feeling good, legs are pumping tremendously well, the Amino
Vital Focus Zone is kicking in by now, and I'm waiting for the
singletrack sections to come up so I can tear it apart with my Kenda
Karma 2.0's. More fireroad. Riding into a new area I had never seen
before, more fireroad. Finally we hit a singletrack, Wet Dreams, and
start climbing up it back to 2N10. What? Lame! We start hauling ass on
the fireroad ridge passing Cat 2 and 3 racers. The sun was glaring at
us in the open but thanks to our Ryder Sunglasses it was not bad.

Finally, we hit singletrack on the way down to the finish. That was fun and actually
mountain biking. At the end I was listed as 5th, but there was a
mistake so I got bumped to 6th. That is the best result I have had in
Cat 1 since moving up three years ago and been improving each year.

Very disappointed on the course though, this is mountain biking not a
leisure ride with Grandma on a gravel road. Fast course but for
roadies. Overall, felt really good on the bike. Prep work and getting
in the right state of mind is key to competing at your top level. When
your Xpedo pedals are glued to your shoes, your Spinergy Wheelset is
running true, Kenda Tires are gripping, Tomac Type-X is responding to
every acceleration, Amino Vital is pumping into your muscles, Royal
gloves are glued to your grips, then it all becomes instinct out there.
Your mind can focus on riding your best with all the fun that comes
with it, thanks to the sponsors for making this happen.

Big Shout-out to Captain Chris in BFE, Ohio. Roger at the Kenda
Trailer. Shortstack for lending a helping hand. Vegas Bob for
supporting us while he is on the mend. All of the sponsors that have
made it happen this year : Molly from Amino Vital, Joel from Tomac,
Randy from Sigma, Ken from Xpedo, Matt from HydroPak, Chan from KMC
chains, Roger from Kenda, Jay from Royal,
Jimbo from Denver, and everybody else.

Time for some epic rides now, let the summer begin!


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ara's Big Bear Wrap-Up!

Hey Chris... been super busy but here is the race report from me !

Big Bear Shootout - US Cup West Series Finals

Most racers, especially Cat 1, prepare themselves weeks before to be primed to compete at the highest level on race day. What does the Fuzzbucket do? Goes backpacking with a 60 pound external frame pack for six days in the Sierra Nevada Backcountry. Great high altitude training but totally using different muscles (strained groin bouldering) and the greatest part was we got back the night before the race. Threw down the pack at home, grabbed the bike gear, the beer, and the of course my trusty Tomac Type-X...headed up to Big Bear Saturday night. Does this sound like an excuse? HAHA! No!

Mark Thome, Vegas Bob, and my good friend Joy stayed at the Condo thanks to Jan who hooked it up for us... (Thanks for letting us check out late so we could have showered after the race! )

Race day was warm. Humberto "Coyote" Castro was the first to be sent off for the Endurance race. Tinker Juarez showed up to push Humberto a little. Vegas Bob and Joy went up the Ski Lift at Snow Summit to feed the peeps, turns out Joy was up there for three hours giving out water to everybody. You're Awesome! Good sight to see when you are on the verge of cramping. Mark Thome and I took off next to a 3 mile straight climb. Felt good actually and was in the pack but then the legs gave out on the other side of the course. Just didnt have the OOMPH! in my legs. Technical riding was good, but no power in the legs. Made the best of it and enjoyed the day. The course was mostly fireroad but the CAT 1's had some good singletrack. The end of the course was great! Instead of bombing down the fireroad after Fall Line into Fern we road a nasty singletrack that made it hurt even more.

Finished the race in 8th. Did not get last place. Tomac Type-X worked marvelously. The bottle of Amino Vital Endurance Joy handed to me got me to the finish line, or else I'll still be out there. Kenda Karma 2.0 hooked up well in the loose sand of the FireRoad course. My Sigma Rox 9.0 works way too well because my heart breaks when I look how much more we have left in the race, too accurate! haha. Xpedo pedals have been bashed and mashed, still works great. You won't believe this but my Spinergy Xyclone Disc wheelset is still true... Upper and Lower Fall Line have nothing on it!

Big thanks to Roger at the Kenda Trailer for his support and kindness. Major shoutout to Vegas Bob and Joy who stayed at the top of the mountain all day to feed us. Everybody else out there I missed to mention because I'm still recovering. Jimbo... still love you man!

Next up State Championships at Big Bear again... hmmm... Everest next week before the race?


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Magic In Cuyahoga

The start to a perfect day looks much like this scene in Peninsula, Ohio yesterday.

It's a funny thing riding south along a major river and watching it roll by you... the NORTH? The Cuyahoga River Valley is a magical place, where a river runs north (the only one in the U.S., actually) and on a weekday in June, humanity is nowhere to be found. It's the only National Park in the Buckeye State, yet nobody seems to know about it. Just two hours north of Columbus it sits in forrested splendor waiting to be explored. I hadn't taken the time to do it solo, but with a soon-to-be-finalized divorce and nothing but time on my hands, I loaded up the truck and aired up the Kenda Kountach tires on my TCR Monday morning and hit the road. It's a short drive, really, in the great realm of National Park drives. What's two hours? It's longer than that to get to just about ANY of California's National parks..from ANYWHERE in the state. You spend two hours of your paid work day on Face-Space. Having packed light for a single night, I had more time invested in what cycling bibs and jereys to bring than actual clothing. Rolling in to the sleepy village of Boston Mill by 10 a.m., I wasted no time jumping into my XPEDO road pedals, resetting my SIGMA uber-computer, and heading out. Down the old gravel road from the irresistable front porch at Stanford House lies the Tow Path. It's 90% dirt. It's 100% fun on a road bike. It's a pretty common misconception that road bikes can't handle dirt. That would prove to be false as Saturday's ride would wind up being 65 miles long, with the vast majority of it being on dirt. Having taken a quick glance at a satellite image of the area, I had some idea of where I wanted to go...with my ultimate matter what..of hitting the waters' edge at Lake Erie. Within about a quarter of a mile from the B&B, you hang a fast and dirty left from Stanford Road 'round the bend onto Boston Mills Road. A couple of pedal strokes and you lean a bit more to the left at Hines Hill Road. Almost immediately I was choking on the acrid smoke billowing from the now-on-fire heart rate monitor as my pulmonary arteries began to beg for mercy. Crazy. A quick ascent led to a majorly false descent...that led into a wheelie-popping climb that made me glue my chin to the bars in order to keep from flipping over like a puppy begging for a scratch. Ouch...seriously..ouch. Thankfully, just as I was about to cave in, it relented and leveled out as I rolled east to the park's boundary. Just south of Brandywine Falls, the Ohio/Erie Trail opens up. Nice. This patch of old train-bed will guide me like a missile all the way north to Tinker's Creek Gorge.

It didn't take long on the TCR to reach Brandywine Falls..which sits right above and behind the Stanford House about a couple of miles as the crow flies. I'm gonna kill that damn crow, because he didn't have to climb Hines Hill. Bastard. It never fails...there are a million signs to keep all the dips**ts out of the lower falls area...but now for the third time in three visits I sat watching Park Rangers trying to arrest people with infants in the flood plain.

 Oh Charles Darwin, where did it all go wrong? Shaking my bulbous head, I rolled on to the north. The ride for the next few miles was pretty nice. Once in to the Sagamore Hills neighborhood, the trail gets broken up a great deal with bisecting careful..many of these are fast downhills below blind drops for have to commit and pin it every time. Looming,  robot-like power line towers begin to straddle you as you ride the trail, images of Transformers filling your head. It wasn't long before the trail drug me to my first check point. Bedford Reservation sounded like a winery, so I was all smiles as I pulled into the park's long and empty road, fresh pavement making the bike instantly feel ten pounds lighter.

 I passed one single human..a lone woman walking what apperared to be a lycanthrope...the entire time I mashed pedals north and east past Great Falls and to the terminus of Tinker's Creek Gorge. I didn't want to stop, as the park was just stunning as a cyclist to ride through (take note, the bike path in Bedford Reservation land is awful..stick to the paved roads). Never finding the winery I had envisioned, I turned about and rode back out a short distance to Broadway Road. Noting on the sat image that this road cuts into Rockside Road and the small towns of Bedford and Maple Heights (making a straight line to Rockside Station in the river valley) I broke plan and went for it. Now...usually when I change routes it's with good reason. Historic spot..great vista...chili dogs..something...and at first it was working out pretty well. I rolled past the OLD cemetery in Bedford.

 I had to stop and take a picture of the sign at the entrance. I half chuckled thinking that, utterly alone and with my closest family member three thousand miles away I may well end up in this very Bone Orchard before the ride was over. Haha. Funny. Or not. Rolling out, I came to Bedford's quaint little Main Street area. The obligatory light-pole mounted flower pots and city-sponsored cloth banners flapped in time with the thousands of American flags found in small towns here. Making the left onto Rockside road was hell on wheels. my wheels held up on what had CLEARLY been a Viet Nam war practice range for B-52 carpet bombing missions is beyond me. Worst road ever. Tijuana has better roads. Thanks to Mavic for making a wheel that held up under my girth and the abject garbage that was Rockside Road. Thankfully, I had a way out...a plan B. Making a left on to Dunham Road, I BLASTED through the small Burg of Maple Heights. That led to a right turn onto Schreiber Road and a face-sizzling sixty-plus mile per hour descent into the Cuyahoga.

To say I was apprehensive after the beat down the wheels just took would be an understatement....but what do you do? Hit the brakes? Not so much. Finally reaching the Tow Path Trail, I dutifully pointed the front wheel north towards Lake Erie. There are shorter ways to get there for sure..but none more scenic..or safe..than the trail. The route north of Rockside Station gets less and less scenic, however, and becomes a concrete and steel industrial wasteland as the lake draws ever closer. Not much to discuss here really. The trip back with the wind at my back was nice. Like a horse coming back to the barn to eat, I knew I was on the way home and my legs lightened a bit.

 The huge span bridge at Rockside Station is always a pleasure to see. The river flows quickly here..NORTH...and the roiling water looks great with the bridge behind it. It isn't long before the historic Frazee House comes in to view. Built in 1826, it still stands alongside the path and is now a visitor center. A road detour into Brecksville Station was a nice change. The train bridge and bike bridge here, coupled with the infamous "Hell's Half Acre" lock make a great place to inspire your sun-ripened skin to push on.

The ride from here back to Boston Mill is stunning. Huge horseshoe bends in the river give way to a dead-flat sprint into the old Visitor Center. It's only a quarter mile back to Stanford House now..and a much needed cup of coffee and shower..maybe at the same time...I was too tired to care at that point. Sleep came early Monday night.

The sun was up early Tuesday, and I had a fun albeit shorter ride planned before racing back and loading for home. Heading south towards Akron on the Tow path is my favorite ride in the park. The wooden swamp-bridges, tunnels, marshes, the old quarry, covered bridges, farms and Deep Lock in Peninsula are all fabulous.

 It's a pretty fast run to Akron that early on a weekday, so I stopped to hang out at the beatiful Everett Road Covered Bridge to take a picture or two. Young corn was beginning to sprout in the fields in front of me...and I could sense the temperature drop and see the clouds darken. Time to go. Flying back up Riverview Road, I was glad to be heading back north from the Continental Divide (the whole reason the river flows north) to Stanford House and the helpful and accomodating staff there.

 A well earned shower and change of clothes (driving home in a chamois-butter-infused pair of bibs for 140 miles is less than ideal) made me happy. Stopping for a splash of gas I drove back to CBUS...and into a hot cup of Luck Brothers coffee. Another min-vacation in the books. It was different to do it alone, but fun. I even met a park employee who had been to Dana Point once. Crazy. To book a room..or the whole 330-657-2909, extension 119. Room rates go from $50 to $150, and breakfast/linens are included. Time for margaritas...and a nap.:)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bob is Blogging!

Message flagged Monday, June 4, 2012 8:01 PM Yo Cap’n! I thought I’d check in from the sidelines. It’s now been 7 weeks since my injurious bike crash. For those who don’t know, here’s the story. I was on my morning training ride, going south through the beach trail/parking lot at beautiful Doheny State Beach. This is a gorgeous spot and as such there is a ton of activity every day; walkers, joggers, dog walkers, strollers, inline skaters, etc. Basically it’s a busy busy place where you should be paying a lot of attention, and following the rules of the road. The other cyclist who plowed into me coming from the opposite direction wasn’t doing either of these. As I rounded the corner where a wide parking lot road cul-de-sacs and the much skinnier bike trail starts, this moron was riding two abreast and way too fast. I barely had time to react, swerving to my right into the sand off the trail. He, of course, was so out of control and stupid that not only did he not hit the brakes, but he swerved in the same direction, smashing straight into me. I took the entire impact of his body weight to my left shoulder. While I writhed in pain on the ground and someone called 9-1-1, this sad excuse for a human being decided to pick up his bike, jump back on it and flee the scene. Wonderful. Luckily the bike was ok. Probably due to the fact that I landed in sand and that my body took the entire impact. I didn’t come out so lucky, though, but all things considered it could have been worse. I have a Grade III acromioclavicular separation of my left shoulder, which is the clavicle (colar bone) separating from the scapula (shoulder blade) with 3 being the worst grade below actually tearing the tendons to pieces. Yay. So, I’m off the mountain bike for probably 6 months. Doctor prognosis is that I will get full range of motion and strength back, but they can’t put the clavicle back where it was so I’ll have a bump in my shoulder for the rest of my life. Not a hump as bad as this guy… …but nonetheless a nice forever reminder of some Jerk-off’s riding idiocy. Not being able to use my left arm has obviously been a pain in the ass, especially because I’m left-handed, but luckily I use my right hand to use the mouse, so I was able to go back to work somewhat easily with just an adjustment for not being able to type shortcuts with that hand. Well last week I finally got to take my sling off and started my Physical Therapy. I was fortunate to find a superb PT place that is taking great care of me. If you’re ever in the need (though I sincerely hope you aren’t!) definitely look up South Orange County Physical Therapy Specialists The head has a positive outlook, a great sense of humor, and is actually a huge cycling enthusiast, so I feel right at home. And I’m already got me lifting a 1 lb weight with that shoulder, so I should be back on the trail in no time haha! It was great to hear that the other ‘Boners did well at Sagebrush, that’s definitely a favorite course of mine. It’s got a great combination of beauty and difficulty, and there’s always a chance that the course will beat you instead of the other way around. I think moving it from the start of the season to the middle looks like it might have been a great move as far as weather is concerned, since before it was always a flip of the coin to whether race day would be freezing cold or baking hot. But the people who actually raced will have to weigh in on that one. Till next time, safe rolling out there. Vegas “Stuck at the Blackjack table” Bob