Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wilderness 101 finisher

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
803PM Melanie finished in 13 hours! I just received this picture message on my phone.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
rest week

Friday, July 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


unbelievably epic??????????????????????

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More required Tour reading

For those of us desk-bound during Le Tour reading about the race is about as good as it gets during the day. Fortunately, there's a ton of excellent writing out there. I've already mentioned Martin Dugard's blog and here's some more good stuff to get you through the day.

Sam Abt has a nice Tour piece most days in the International Herald Tribune.

Check out this colorful commentary on the Tour and L'Etape du Tour from former pro Paul Kimmage.

And, as always, the live updates are always well written and entertaining.

Here's an excerpt from this morning:

13:17 CEST 67km/120km to go
Brard leads the peloton, resplendent in his tricolore French champion's jersey. Leader Pereiro is in fourth wheel, with the long mullet of Vladimir Karpets flowing in the wind behind him.

That's good shit.

Enjoy today's stage to L'Alpe d'Huez. It's a cool place...really a mecca for cyclists, both road and mountain bike. We were there in 2004 and here's a look back at our experience.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fair Hill

I ride the mountain bike a lot. I pretty much enjoy any type of cycling, but riding the trails brings me the most enjoyment.

However, when it comes to racing my focus is on cyclocross. I've done less than 10 XC mtb races in my life. It's not that I don't enjoy them (even though they're really really hard) it's just that with a limited amount of time to devote to going to races I choose to use that time for 'cross.

The last time I started an XC race was at the 2004 Race for Chocolate. That one didn't last long as I blew up my chain about 15 minutes into the race. Since then all I've done is a few endurance events.

Earlier this year I decided to race Fair Hill for a couple of reasons...the trails and the training. The trails at Fair Hill are a seemingly endless ribbon of fine singletrack. It's tough to pass up a chance to ride these trails without worrying about getting lost. Plus, with 'cross season quickly approaching I needed to get in some hard training. There's nothing like a mountain bike race to work you over and make you stronger.

I picked up Bernie at 6 and we rolled up 95 for the 45 minute drive. Bernie likes to punish himself and since he had never raced a mountain bike he was looking forward to the experience. We warmed up by riding down a long gravel road connecting a bunch of horse paddocks. We also took a peak at the last mile of trail before the finish. I was surprised to see that it was pretty muddy. Baltimore had not received any rain, but Fair Hill had been dumped on the night before.

I don't mind slick trails, but they usually mean a harder race and more mechanical issues...not to mention being covered head to toe in horse poop.

Staging for our race was a bit intimidating. There were huge numbers of riders in each class, with over 40 in just our Sport Vet I (35-39) field. We were staged behind the Sport I and Sport II's so that was close to 100 riders in front of us, with even more staged behind. It was going to get crowded once we entered the singletrack.

The start was on a long (~1.5 mile) double track farm road. Given that our race was pretty long at 23 miles and I haven't raced this year I didn't want to go too hard at the start only to blow up later. I rolled up the road in about 20th place with guys doing stupid shit to move up a place. It was like a cat 4 road race. I just held my spot and stayed in line until we approached the turn into the singletrack.

By then a number of guys were fading from the initial effort. I moved up to about 15th heading into the woods. From there I started to pass guys whenever I got the chance. There were a number of spots where guys bobbled on a slick climb or lost traction on a muddy rock or root. I was trying to stay relaxed and not fight the trail.

I had moved up onto the tail of the leading group and was feeling really good. I had recovered from the initial effort, was flowing in the singletrack, and was in a good position somewhere around 5th.

So just as I was settling in for the long haul I took a fast left hand bend and felt my rear tire start to washout. "Uh oh...not good" I muttered to myself. It wasn't flat yet, but it was down to about 20 psi. I was bummed, but there was nothing to do but stop and fix the problem, most likely a pinch flat from slamming a root during a pass.

As I listened to rider after rider whiz by I tried to decide what to do. I was anxious to get back in the race without losing any more positions. At first I was just going to jam a CO2 big air on the valve and fill 'er back up, but since I was running tubes and no sealant that would have been a very dumb thing to do. So I proceeded to do a very slow tube change as all of my class and most of the SS class passed me by.

At this point I was initially bummed, but I was out here to ride some great trails and do some training, not necessarily to get a result. I got back on my bike with the goal of passing as many guys as possible and having fun.

I was still feeling good and passing a lot of riders. I caught up to Fort James, who was in the SS class. He and I rode together for a while. He said he was dying, but he was still riding well. He really helped me out by giving me a head's up on a short & very steep rocky climb and encouraging me to pass a big group on another climb. Together we passed a couple of large groups before having to dismount on a climb that was crowded with walkers. That was frustrating but we still passed a few more guys during the hike-a-bike.

On a couple of the insanely twisty sections the race turned into a logjam with a train of riders held up by riders that were not feeling the flow. Every curve turned into a brake check with riders coming together and kissing tires. This was really tight singletrack with very few places to pass. All I could do was use these spots to recover and save energy.

As soon as possible I passed and hit the gas to get away from the logjam. Without a line of riders in front I could ride these sections much faster with the same amount of effort. Although I would slide in many of the curves the Maxxis High Rollers always grabbed and kept me on course.

I caught the next big group of riders on one of the exposed field climbs. With the blazing sun and stifling humidity these things were like death marches. I was suffering, but I knew that the open climbs were the best places to advance through the field. I was doing a pretty good job of measuring my effort and trying to save a bit for the end. I was picking off guys that were fading during the last quarter of the race.

I managed to catch and pass the 4th place rider in my field and kept rolling in search of the first 3. I didn't know how far ahead they were, but I was going to keep pushing until the finish.

On one of the late climbs I was starting to feel the cramps coming on. I grabbed a handful of sport beans out of my pocket and gobbled them up, washing them down with the last remaining fluid in my Camelbak. I tried to keep the effort steady to avoid locking up. I was still moving pretty well when resurgent Fort James passed me flying up the hill. He was totally kicking ass and charging.

This fired me up and I tried to stay with him. The cramps started coming back so I settled back down and kept rolling. Other than the cramps I was still feeling good. I passed more guys by riding a rocky climb that they were walking. It hurt, but I knew it would hurt more to get off and walk.

After passing the 2 miles to go sign I was psyched. Bernie and I had pre-ridden this section and I knew there was nothing too challenging the rest of the way. I kept the pedals turning and cruised ahead in search of 3rd place.

Then my chain blew up. I wasn't even pissed...I just laughed. It happened as I was riding up a short rock-covered rise. I wasn't shifting and I wasn't even putting a lot of torque on the pedals.
It takes me a while to fix a chain even under calm conditions with the bike in a stand. On the trail, mid-race I'm all thumbs. I did a quick calculation and then started running.

I ran and pushed my bike until the quads started cramping, forcing me to walk. As soon as the cramps subsided I'd run again. So this was how I finished the last mile and a half or so of the race...running, walking, and pushing my bike. A bunch of guys passed me, including 10 in my class putting me at 14th, less than 4 minutes out of 4th.

Melanie's comment was that at least I had gotten in my running for the week! 8-)
In any event, I had a blast and got in some fantastic training. Without the flat and broken chain I might have gotten a decent result but I'm not at all upset about it. I got to spend the morning riding amazing singletrack with a bunch of cool people.

Bernie finished up saying that this was the hardest thing he's ever done on a bike...and he's done some hard races on the road! Hopefully he'll be back out on the mtb soon.

The Delaware Trail Spinners put on one of the very best races in the country. From the course to the organization and army of volunteers they do it first class. Based on the number of racers that show up every year there are a lot of people that agree.

I don't know if I'll be able to get out for any more mtb races this year, but I'll be back to Fair Hill next year for sure.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A must read

Martin Dugard's Tour de France blog is a must read.

The dude is a fantastic writer. He really captures the ~experience~ of being at the Tour.

Check it out.

I'll be doing the Fair Hill mtb race this Sunday. Hopefully I won't suck too bad, but my expectations are pretty low. I just want to have some fun and get in some hard training.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Joe Cool

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

Melanie sent me this camera-phone photo of Thor chilling at the pool today.

I miss some cool stuff while I'm at work, but the bills won't pay themselves.

Melanie sent me this camera-phone photo of Thor chilling at the pool today.

I miss some cool stuff while I'm at work, but the bills won't pay themselves.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

random shite

I love my mac, but it's turning into a piece of shit. It's painfully slow and the battery dies after only 15 minutes of use.
Now I have to keep my laptop plugged in so that I can use it...or stare at the screen while it locks up.

The trails are finally good after all of the recent rains, but the creeks have changed dramatically. I ate it in one today when I hit a bunch of rocks (that didn't used to be there) in water that was deeper than I expected. I went over the bars, slammed my ankle into my crank, and landed half in the water. Gee. It was still a good ride with 3 hours out on the trails, but my ankle is bruised and pounding tonight.

Yesterday I knocked out a couple of 15 minute LT's...or I should say they knocked me out. Between those and today's ride I'm exhausted right now.

I'm confused...

My co-workers tell me I've way skinny, but in cycling terms I'm still a pretty big dude at 6'1" and 175 lbs. My ass gets dropped in a hurry when the road goes uphill for any extended time. There's no way I'm getting below 170 (due to my love of Mexican food and a Belgian beer now and again) so I'll continue to suck on the climbs. At least in 'cross the climbs are usually short. As for the co-workers I'll tell 'em to jam another doughnut down their throats! I guess even if I'm a non-skinny bike racer I'm still thin by pork-o-american standards?

I'm pretty sure I'm doing Fair Hill on 7/16, my first xc mtb race in a long time. I think I'll be good for about 20 minutes and then blow sky high, puking on the side of the trail as I fight off cramps.

Speaking of fat about Boonen. In today's TT he looked like a giant compared to most of those guys. I know he's anything but a lard, but in relative terms the guy is huge.

Levi totally shit the bed today. What the hell was wrong with him? I think he's capable of winning big races, but maybe his head isn't quite in it sometimes.

Bobby J looked like a rag doll going down in that bend. He's another guy that maybe was feeling the pressure of being the team leader.

Disco tanked it and T-Mobile were stellar. I foresee a tough battle for the Phonak boys. If T-Mobile plays their cards right they should be able to win the Tour. Hell, if Jan were still racing the race would practically be over after today's TT.

Will any team be able to control the race in the mountains? No way. Floyd is going to have to do some chasing of his own. No doubt, it'll be exciting. More crazy shit is sure to ensue.

I was on vacation all last week so life is good here...plenty of riding and family time. I could get used to this.

Good night.