Archive for May, 2008

What the hell have I been doing?

May 16, 2008

Honestly not much riding, but I did get to watch some awesome riding.  I went to the 24 hours of Finale Ligure planning on riding a bit on a twelve man team.  Yeah twelve folks doesn’t mean much riding, but it was supposed to be just for fun and lots of sleep.  It was not much riding for sure, but not any sleep at all.

I ended up having one of my friend’s down from Germany, a super fast 17 year old named Isaac, and promised to support him which meant being up at 0400 to give him bottles of water or whatever, which I did.  But I also inherited another great rider to help out, Rebecca a super nice, positive and fast Niner racer. As I have never really supported anyone, usually I am being supported in my vain attempts at a top 15 or so finish I didn’t realize how easy but stressful it could be.  

Well Isaac was easy, his first 24 and anything he got he was stoked to get.  He has also lived in Europe for a while so the food, although not German, was not all that unusual to him.  Rebecca was also happy with whatever she got  however she was eating strange Pringles (they do taste much different than the US ones) odd soups and along with something she called Wiki juice. I still don’t know what it was, but I may have to get the recipe as it works very well for her.

Well on with to how my charges rode, and both riders can have their performances summed up as amazing! Rebecca spent the whole race fighting with a German woman, who seems to have had some strange lap times, for first place.  Unfortunately for her she ended up in second about seven minutes behind first. Throughout the entire race she rode with, at least reporting to those that saw her, a smile and a positive attitude.  She never came close to stopping or really slowing all that much. If I can do as well as she at my next 24 I will be pretty happy.  Regardless or her result I was really happy to have helped her race.  Oh yeah she was riding a borrowed bike as she had not planned on racing and therefore had none of her own food.  Man, there are a few riders earn the admiration of their peers but she earned more than admiration from the racers she earned a ton of respect for her great riding and great attitude.  If she ever comes back to race here or if she needs help at a race in the States and I can, I will, and gladly.

Isaac had a little problem with cramping about eight hours in, which hampered his results a little.  This was due in part to his blazing fast pace and lack of prior 24 hour racing.  He seemed to get a lot better when a really nice fellow rider named Angello (sp?) let him use some of his secret race drink.  It was some type of Enervit product that really helped him.  About midnight he decided it just wasn’t as fun as it should have been to ride at night on a rigid bike.  Oh yeah kind of left something out, Niner Bikes Italy let him use a demo for the full 24 hours, coolest thing I have ever seen a company do.  Mauro, the Italian distributor, is one of the best reps for his product ever.  BIGGEST EVER THANKS TO NINER BIKES AND MAURO.  He just laid down for about 3 hours and recharged.  He went back out around 4 AM and rode like an animal for next ten hours and finally ended in 17th well ahead of many who did not sleep at all.   He will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.  He just smiles and rides and goes faster and smoother than I ever will.  If he ever needs help again he has it here, and with the Los Lobos guys.  We are all impressed with his great ride.  Bad thing for everyone else in New Mexico, he is coming home in about 2 months so get ready to fight real hard to win.  

I also met the 4 niner riders Deejay, Cameron, Fuzzy and Mark.  Okay, so I really saw four really fast blurs who nearly dominated the entire field.  They finished third overall behind two eight man teams.  Deejay and Mark brought me a beer which was really tasty and a kind thought.  I have got to say watching those four ride makes me realize how fast bikes can go.  Oh well, mine never will, but it could.  Nice guys and great riders.  

I need to really thank the Niner folks for having Americans at a race in Italy.  Chris and Steve are both awesome guys with great bikes, Niner, and really make me want to buy one of their bikes for my next ride. Mauro for everything he did for Isaac and last but not least the two solo riders who made me staying up such a great experience Isaac and Rebecca.  


Riva del Garda

May 4, 2008

Well I went ahead and did the long course at the Bike Festival in Garda, which was not a good idea. Training (term used very loosely) has been a bit on the not so much side lately and touring with my parents has been on the upswing.  Good for seeing Italy, not so good for going fast, but I never have been all that fast, so really what does it matter?

Having heard only great things about the Garda area, best trails in Europe, greatest area to ride, and other grand rumors about the area I had held the highest hopes for a true to life mountain bike race.  Since moving to Europe four and a bit years ago I have done only one real race, the CCP in 2005 (I think may have been 04) and that was in the Oregon.  The rest of the races have had nearly the same format, gravel road climbs followed by gravel road descents followed by harder gravel road climbs followed by steeper and rockier gravel road descents followed by, well you get the picture.  

The race organizers seem to think that the harder the climbing and the worse the descending the better the race, which I believe to be a very Euro point of view.  There are some great trails in the area of Garda and some of the most amazing views in the world along with some of the steepest gravel roads in the world.  I can’t see or understand why the people putting on the race couldn’t use a few more trails and a few less world’s steepest gravel roads.  Of course, this is all sour grapes as I don’t help, volunteer or add any construtive ideas to the planning of the route, so what do I know, maybe it is the best they can use.  

So after the preamble, which looks more like a whine session, here is the kind of race report thing.  I rode pretty well up the first mountain, rode really very well down the first mountain, climbed all of the second mountain (very quickly I must add as I passed people by the boat load and I did feel great), descended pretty well down the mountain.  My hands did get a little numb as most of the descent was on cart trail, think huge rocks in cement, and then came to the long course and medium course split.  Here was my mistake, I felt really pretty good and the gravel road looked really rideable at the turnoff, so what the hell off I go to the long course.  

Well the rideable part lasted only until the first switchback, then the road turned up at what must have been 9-12 percent grade.  Not to make it sound like it was all bad, it was a nice gravel road, situated so that the sun beat down on you all the way up the mountain, so I did get a bit of sun, as I walked and walked and walked for an hour and forty or so minutes.  I was passed by seven or eight guys on the climbs so I wasn’t walking that slowly.  It was the hardest forced march (okay I did it to myself and I could have quit whenever) that I have done in a long time.  

Reaching the last aid station was almost anti-climatic as I knew a harsh and less than fun cart trail/gravel path waited for me.  Hope still lingered in the air that maybe a great mind numbing, not hand numbing, descent awaited me as I left the aid station and saw a little bit of single track, but that was the only bit of single track to be had.  Passing so many trail heads as I descended made me angry.  I could see trail after trail of sweet single track that I knew went into Garda, but the course was always marked down the cart trail so I had to (I still could have quit) finish the race.  

Mercifully the descent ended, my hands were as numb as blocks and my legs had just begun to cramp whenever the trail turned up, so I was really glad to see the asphalt road into town.  Turning onto the road I began to spin as fast as I could, 14 mph or so all the way to the finish line.  I was passed by a number of people who would fly by in their big gears and make me jealous, just for a second, then I would yell great job, or good ride to feign enthusiasm because all I wanted to do was finish.  As it happened there were more than three miles of riding on the road into town, too long at that point, and it seemed to just add to my irratation for the day.  Arriving at the finish line I felt little satifaction at all, more happy it was over.  I have never been to a race venue that offered so much promise only to be let down in such a huge way.  Will I go back, yes.  Will I race again, yes.  Will I lobby the organizers for a SS catagory, yes.  Hopefully I will enjoy myself a bit more next year.