Tour of Battenkill 2014

Do you ever have the nightmare where you show up to take a test and realize that you’ve never opened the text book nor gone to class, and you’ve also forgotten to get dressed? Yes? Well that was my experience in this year’s edition of the Battenkill when I signed up with my friend Skip Thomas in the CAT 1-4 35+.

It all started out pleasant enough with 41 guys rolling easy through a sunny 30 degree morning. Pleasant until the first 35 mph dash down through the Eagleview Covered Bridge and subsequent dirt section let us know that our race would be a test of who would be the strong man.

Test… Each technical section, each pitch, would lead to massive surges in and over the hills that were brutal and seemed calculated to keep blowing everything apart. But then on the flats everyone would sit up and regroup. The pace/style of racing continued to make withdrawals from my bank of winter training (you see, I thought I’d gone to class) and I made Perry Hill, Juniper Swamp, Route 64 . . . and although attrition had begun I was in the lead pack with the majority, and I felt in control.

Until my pants fell off at Joe Bean Hill (mile 27 http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3511335) and suddenly it was a little dark. But I worked with a few guys and caught back on just in time for the next climb. This happened over and over again – hill, dropped, furious chase, regroup, drop . . . each time losing something. Finally at Herrington Hill (mile 42), the strong men began to race and I found I had no clothes. I saw the peloton split and accelerate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD45k-BrSMU at over 700 watts and the nightmare was complete.

A few stragglers gathered, which I’d known from previous chases, and wobbled for the next 20 miles (thanks Johan and Steve). At one point the pace car for the 45+ leaders was just one corner behind, but we somehow managed to stay ahead and finish together for 20-22 place, and a little over 9 minutes off the leaders.

Looking at the results:
The attrition on our group was significant – especially compared to the other fields – no wonder it felt like hell.
Results for the M 35+ Open are better than expected, especially when compared with how many CAT 1 & 2 riders there were. I was the 4th CAT 4 rider finishing within 5% of the winner by time.  So while I felt like I flunked, grading on the curve might make me try again next year.

Spring Training

springSnow, ice, freeze/thaw, is it going to get cold enough? Kittens exploding, ruts, trails braided, angry trail builders, depressed mountain bikers, trolling every social media site to find a trail rideble… driving anywhere to ride that trail… it must be spring in the Northeast; I gotta get out of here, I need to ride my bike…

Every spring, for eight years now, I head to Blacksburg, VA to ride with great friends, find new trail and tap out for just a few days… we all love that. This year takes new meaning: It’s a six day, ride everyday trip, I have a jam packed race/ride schedule coming up this season and I’m trying not to embarrass myself in a NEMBA kit. So… here we go…

Today is Patapsco Valley State Park (http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/patapsco.aspx), my home away from home. Just outside of Baltimore, an incredible network of tight, twisty, flowy, technical, and serious climbs. You can get whatever you want here and string together huge days. MORE/IMBA (http://www.more-mtb.org/) has done amazing work here the past few years or so… a great kickoff. Then to Harrisonburg, VA and a day with the crew from Shenandoah Mountain Touring. They put on the Dragons Tale, SM100 and others. It’s my first time in these mountains and with the SM100 on tap for the fall, I’m excited.

If we make it out of there, it’s down to Blacksburg and Jefferson Natl’ Forest and my friend of 20+ years house backing up to the Natl’ Forest. We’ve been coming here for so long I’ve gotten to know these trails. Huge elevation, all day rides, suffering, it feels like a backcountry excursion, you’re out in the middle of nowhere. There will be fourteen of us, I think these are the days we all want when we get on the bike.

Leaving Blacksburg it’s off to Carvins Cove (http://www.roanokeoutside.com/carvinscove). My first time here, it’s the poster child for sustainable trails around a major water source on the East Coast. Heading north it’s off to Meadowood in Northern VA (http://meadowoodproject.org/). Another amazing project that has been led by MORE and another first time stop for me. I’ll wrap it up with a return trip to PVSP and a day of spinning to see if my legs are still fully functional.

So, we’re off… a lot of miles, great friends, a lot of quality libations… stay tuned

King of Burlingame Time Trial

What a day!!!

As I awoke this morning the pitter patter of a deluge of rain coating my house. I thought to myself “I should just sleep in and enjoy a good cup of coffee” but my next thought was “nope, I work too much to miss out on this!” fast forward 2 1/2 hours and we are 10 minutes from the battleground when each of our cell phones chimed in with emergency alerts warning of the potential of flash floods!! My trusty 4runner deftly navigated water runoffs and lakes that had formed roadside until we finally weaved our way into the parking lot. The surrounding landscape was scarred with deep ruts from raging waters the night prior – it certainly set a foreboding tone!!

My bike today was my ’13 Cannondale scalpel that I had luckily fitted with my favorite tire – Maxxis Ignitor’s, I definitely was going to need the extra tread lugs over the stock “Racing Ralphs”!

Riding to the start line the trail was soggy but it did not let on fully what I was in for!! Luckily I had gotten to the start line just in time – the first sport class rider had just left the gate and I was supposed to go second! I didn’t have time to work up any nerves! At the go I took off but was quickly slowed by deep mud, rain, and the all the stuff being thrown up by my tires into my face!! I didn’t think it would be too bad for too long but it only got worse (worse in a good way!!). The course was reversed this year so we were starting out in the lowlands – the water just got deeper and deeper and deeper (it reached my headset a few times!!). the boardwalks were floating loose, lines were impossible to pick as there was no earth to see!! at one point  about halfway through we essentially had to bike “up a river”, the runoff flowing down the hill was flowing fast and the only line to take was right up the middle – where the loose squishy stuff had been washed away and what was left was the firm substrate that didn’t make me lose any more energy than I already had climbing through the rapids!! At one point I had wished I had put those big blue paddle wheels on my bike that you see at beach resorts!! I only recall about a half a mile worth of trail that had any firmness to it and would have to relate that the amount of water crossing the trails or running down the trails was, well, almost biblical!!

Luckily all of the raging water kept washing the mud off but it got to a point where my brakes would not stop grinding, and I’m sure my steed will not be happy with me, and a serious overhaul is probably now due!!

I only managed to take 7th out of 11 in my class, a kick in the butt to get after it more!! One of the volunteers said there was something like a 90% no show rate – good news for the trails (not that the racers could have done any more damage than mother nature at this point), but a shame as this was a very memorable race for anyone who showed – I’m glad I didn’t sleep in!!!

In the parking lot I was regaling to a friend that I had only gone over my handlebars once, when another rider chimed in – “that’s it!? I went over my bars at least a dozen times – looks like I won at least one category today!!” – it was said with a smile on his face!!!

Dana Finch

2014 Team is Set!

It’s official! We’ve wrapped up our recruitment period and the team has almost doubled in size!

It looks like we’re going to have a great group this year.  We’ve got a good mix of ages and ability levels and we are spread all across New England with every state represented (except for Maine…whats the deal with that guys??).

I’m really looking forward to meeting all our new racers and getting the ball rolling on the 2014 race season.

Next up is ordering Team Kits and then before you know it we’ll be toe’ing the line looking to get a good start on those summer series races and to build up our endurance for the longer format stuff later in the year.

Accepting Applications for the 2014 Race Season!

Hey Everyone!

Winter has a solid hold on New England now but we are already planning for our 2014 race season.  Our team kit order will be placed in February so we are looking for new racers now to join the team for 2014.  We have a great group returning and we would love to bolster our numbers and make NEMBA a mainstay of the New England Racing scene.

We accept racers of all ages and abilities and the primary focus of our team is not about results, its about participation and a constant presence.  Our goal is to promote trail advocacy and the NEMBA mission within the race community and to try to have as much fun as we can while doing it.

The only requirements for team membership are current member status in NEMBA (obviously) and the purchase of at least the NEMBA Racing jersey (full kits and accessories are also available).  With our bulk orders jersey cost has been between $40-$50 and that cost can be reimbursed if you participate in 5 races wearing the jersey and participate in at least one trail day.  You also get access to some of our sponsorship agreements with several local companies and shops and support/cheering/bottle handups at races from teammates.

UPDATE: Team is set for 2014. Thanks!