Yesterday I competed in my first race in 12 years and it felt great. I raced novice Veterans II and hung on to finish a distant 14th out of 21. I was amazed at the pace and skill in the novice class. Looking forward to Pinnacle and increasing my training. Good people, fun race, and perfect weather.
We’ve wrapped up new rider recruitment and we’re super excited to get the 2017 race season started!
Fat bike racing is in full swing and conditions have been pretty decent for off road riding so far this winter. Before you know it the early season TT races will be upon us and then it’s Kenda Cup, NECS, NEMBAfest…the list goes on. We are spoiled in New England. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the start line come Spring. Ride on!
NEMBA Racing is accepting new racers for the 2017 Season!
I’m hoping by now many of you have seen our riders/kits around, either at NEMBA events and rides, at local races, or even just riding your local trails. The team is growing every year and we’d love to have you with us.
We launched our Gravity team 2 seasons ago and they are rolling strong. We have a core group of riders representing NEMBA consistently at the East Coast Gravity series events. We are looking to build on that success and grow the Gravity team even more in 2017!
Racing can be many things to many people. The production value of local MTB races is getting better and better every year. There are new summer series races popping up, the gravity series are stacked with events, new and more endurance events many of which are closer to small festivals, and we now have 2 Pro XCT events in New England for 2017! They are family friendly, they have local vendors, beer tents, it’s not all just suffering!
I want NEMBA Racing to be a home for every type of rider. New and developing riders looking to get fit and challenge themselves, strong riders looking for other like minded folks to help push them further, riders looking to ride new trails with lots of other folks and then have a beer afterwards. Join us for 2017, I highly doubt you’ll regret it.
The Racer Application Form can be found here: http://racing.nemba.org/?page_id=1835
Questions about the team can be sent to Team Director Kevin Orlowski at kevinorlowski[at]gmail[dot]com or Gravity specific questions can be sent to Stacey Jimenez at flionfree[at]gmail[dot]com
I have absolutely no idea how to wrap a weekend on this scale into any kind of reasonable recap so I’m either going to miss a lot of stuff or this recap will be unreasonable. You’ve been warned.
I arrived early Saturday AM to get NEMBA’s expo tent(s) set up and situated before they closed vehicle access. The hustle and bustle was already starting and even at that early hour Sat it was impressive the amount of work that had already gone in to getting the event staged. Every time I try to fully wrap my head around every T that would need to be crossed and I that would need to be dotted I immediately get a headache. I’m glad we have guys like Pete and Marty who are willing to take on that kind of pain so that we can watch some of the fastest guys and gals on the planet and then race our own bikes on the same course. If you have the opportunity buy them a beer or at least give them a high five, they’ve earned it.
I signed up to be a course marshall for the UCI races. Figured that was a pretty good way to get some front row access and simultaneously help out a bit. I got assigned a pretty good spot (albeit a bit lonely) out on a section where I got to see the groups coming by twice each lap. It was pretty cool to watch the speed, intensity and focus in both the men’s and women’s fields. Truly a level beyond. It was also cool to see our local pros battling it out as well…I can assure you everyone was going as haaaahd as they could.
But enough about these really fast professionals, lets get to the coolest thing that happened all weekend…my bike. I made the mistake of floating the idea of racing my Y-bike monstrosity while chatting with Pete at NEMBAfest and Pete solidified that idea by changing my name in the BikeReg pre-reg list to Kevin “Y-Bike” Orlowski. I figured the weekend would be a little bit more party than fitness oriented for me anyway and there is nothing more party than the Y-bike so I decided to go for it. My latest iteration of this build is probably as solid as its ever been, but thats not really saying a whole lot. To put it in perspective my local shop will not work on this bike because it is nothing short of a shit show. A relic with somewhat modern tech bolted to it in horribly janky ways and to top it all off…no gears. Because if you try to ride a 20yr old bike with gears they are not going to work so don’t bother.
It was getting a lot of attention as shit shows are apt to do. I was fully anticipating getting all this attention at the start and people pumped about the bike etc. and then I would maybe make it through the start loop and then have the chain break or maybe the brakes fall off in the first 100ft. Amazingly not only did that not happen but I actually managed to finish a 15mile race in less than ideal conditions for keeping any bike together let alone one from the 90’s. I think I probably just got really lucky. There were plenty of times I thought for sure something had just ripped off the bike. Probably my favorite periodic horrible noise was I believe caused by the hokey brake mounts flexing to the point that the rotor would hit the caliper body and make a giant TWANG! sound. Both the fork and the rear shock sort of sounded like they had an old lady with emphysema trying to breathe inside. And the giant hollow frame was like a shitty bongo band following me around all day. I also loved when I would apply the brakes heavily in a squirrelly downhill section to the point that they would start to hum a bit in the wet conditions. Then I would stop braking but the hum would continue for another few seconds.
It probably took me the entire first lap to get “acquainted” with attempting to ride a 20yr old bike at speed. Forgetting all the jank the hardest part was probably just the 26in wheels. How did we ride those?! I easily spent 33% of the race just trying to not go over the bars and the other roughly 66% trying to figure out where my momentum kept going #brakerub. The second lap was better. I was starting to get a feel for the bike and even though it started to rain a bit more the course at least got a bit more consistent in the slipperyness…does that make sense? probably not. I got into a nice paceline with Grant H. for a bit which is exactly what I needed at that point in the race. Forget about everything else and just hold that wheel. Against all odds I was able to roll it into the finish a bit under two hours for 6th place. The results sort of made it seem like half the SS field DNF’d and I’m not sure the guy who won actually won looking at lap times I think something got weird there but SS’ers don’t really petition results so much as they immediately start drinking beers after a race.
It was a great time all around. Hanging out after the race was awesome. Such a great scene in the expo. This event has certainly raised the bar for mountain bike racing in New England. I’ll definitely be back next year to help out. but PRO TIP: if you agree to help with pulling course tape be sure to bring a knife, maybe some music, snacks, fluids. It’s an endurance event in itself. So much tape….SO. MUCH. TAPE.
The Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge has become one of my favorite races of the year. For me it combines all my favorite aspects of racing. A well balanced course, distance (100K option), a removed adventure feel, and it benefits a great cause (local trail building efforts). I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them really dial in their operation over the last few years and their registration numbers are growing as a direct result. I believe this year was their biggest and I’m sure that trend will continue. Tip of the hat to you ladies and gents…keep up the great work!
Now to my somewhat laughable go at this year’s edition…
I’ve done somewhere between 10-15 100K races in my career. I could find you the exact number but I’m too lazy. I’ve had the good fortune of finishing every single one of those races with hardly any issues and I have managed to pretty consistently improve my times at that distance down to sub 6hrs. Sometimes a track record like that can cause the Cosmos to want to even the scales in dramatic fashion and this past weekend my number came up.
Fast forward to a few hours before my start. Folks are milling around the parking lot getting bikes and bodies prepped. A Ford Transit from a bike shop in Maine (I think?) pulled up and parked next to me. He had a van full of Niners and we chatted about how he also had a ROS9+. He asked me about my rims and whether or not I had had any problems with them yet. He mentioned how he had destroyed his and that he had heard lots of stories about others having issues with the 1st generation HUGO’s. I told him “Nope! They’ve been great so far no issues!” Now that I had thoroughly taunted the Universe at large I figured I’d get a little warm up in before the start.
I know this course fairly well at this point and I was looking forward to the early parts of the course. It suits me well and provides a great warm up before things get serious. It can get a bit crazy though as the Elites, Experts and SS all head out in a mass start. Things always get sorted fine but the first few miles are typically pretty high speed single file shred. At the gun I got myself up to the top 25% or so of the field and was feeling ok there. Weather was perfect and I was getting settled in a nice tempo mentally preparing myself for a long day in the saddle. Got the first little section of singletrack out of the way and popped back out onto some nordic trails. The train was flying down a little downhill section and up in front I could hear folks ‘slapping’ through a little divot in the trail that had a rock at the bottom of it. Almost like a mini water bar of sorts. You’d hear the tap-tap as guys absorbed and continued on. Wasn’t anything crazy and it didn’t seem to be causing anyone a second thought.
It came to be my turn and my 29+ failed me. Hard telling if it was just an early rim failure due to speed and force or too low pressure on my part. I’ve been running the pressure I was at to great success for months now riding burly trails pretty aggressively from time to time. It happened fast but I never really felt (or heard) a rim out on the rock. Just heard the tire go flat fast. Pulled over and spun it around fast giving it a quick once over. I didn’t notice anything at that point and hit it with CO2 hoping to set the bead again and be on my way thinking it was just a violent burp. But all my CO2 did was shoot Stan’s from the real problem which was a smashed (and cracked rim).
For a moment I thought about going caveman on it with rocks but then thought better about riding another 62+ miles on a caveman’d rim. Yes that’s right my DNF came at mile 1.5. Such is life. Luckily I’ve reached a certain level of Zen with my racing nowadays and something like this doesn’t even phase me. No frustration at all, just an acceptance with a bit of mild sadness for all the rad trails I missed out on this year. Took the (short) walk of shame back to the start and drowned my minimal woes with a few early AM beers.
I’ve received word today that Stan’s is standing by their product and is going to warranty the rim and I’ve heard rumors that the 2nd gen HUGO’s are much stronger. I’ll be back at it in no time. Next up is the Boston Rebellion PRO XCT at Adam’s Farm. That is looking like it is going to be a mega event this year. Everyone should come and hang out at the NEMBA Tent and race some bikes, drink some beers and heckle some World Cup level racers.