Saturday, April 8, 2017

A new bike season

I guess it's been awhile since I posted anything on here so here is what I've been not doing lately. Winter was pretty long this year, and after riding and racing pretty much non-stop from mid-January through the end of November I was not all that motivated to work out and ride the trainer.

I did ride the trainer a few times, and I did walk and hike a few times, cross country skied, downhill skied, but it wasn't a whole lot. 2-3 hours was a big week for me. What I did do was drink plenty of beer and sit around.

I borrowed a fat bike from Missoula Bicycle Works for a couple of the Thursday rides at the Ranch Club. They had groomed trails and opened up the bar so you could take a lap of the golf course and then warm up/drink a beer. It was very cold out the two nights I went- like 0F. Fatbiking in the snow is pretty fun although you need a good hard-packed surface. I am not sure I want a fatbike of my own- seems like it would sit around not being ridden a lot.

Finally, around mid-march, we were starting to get a few nice days and the roads were clearing up of snow on the shoulders and debris. On the 12th, I got out for my first ride, and then managed to get 598 miles and 43 hours in by the end of the month, which is a decent start. I even got a century in on week two plus quite a few 70+ mile days, so fitness is starting to get back to normal.

The group road rides this spring have all had big turnouts. This was on a Sunday a few weeks ago:

The speedwagon classic was April 1st, and it was the 10th anniversary. So Matt decided to change up the course and add about 20 miles to the race. I have done this 4 times now and I always screw something up and wind up outside of the lead pack. Last year it was a random flat on the paved roll out from the start. This year I was with the front until the first aid station. I should have brought 3 bottles with to make it to aid station 2 at mile 60, but didn't, and I wasn't going to have a good time trying to hang with the leaders on two bottles for 60 miles so I had to stop.

Unfortunately, no one else seemed to have that plan, and in fact one guy attacked right there, and then we went into some rollers so the whole group blew up right there. I managed to catch up to a few people and would up in a chase pack of 7, with I think 10 more up the road. Conveniently it was all guys (and one girl) I know pretty well so we just kind of set a comfortable pace and snacked, because there were two big climbs coming up- one, 1000ft up to mile 60, and the second, another 700ft climb to the finish at mile 72.5. Since I picked up that 3rd bottle and had the time to eat I felt good on the climbs where we split up. Two guys rode away when we were cruising and I managed to catch one of them before the finish. Wound up 12th of about 35, which was about right given the entry list and my current fitness and the start list. Really should have brought 3 bottles to start- I might have wound up a spot or two higher, or I might have blown up, or crashed on the descent after the first climb which was loose and I took very slowly.

Anyway, I stayed upright, ate and drank enough, and am starting to feel the fitness come back. So it was a good day. Food at the end was good, turnout was good for Montana. Next event is the MT Hell Ride put on by The Cycling House. Real road racing seems to have died in the state so the unsactioned dirt races are about all we have.

I've been doing all my "road riding" on the CX bike for the last year since my caad has a cracked frame plus most of the components are worn out. For the most part it is fine, and I use some super plush 32mm clements. With all the dirt and gravel we wind up on it works well but out on the road in a pack there are some disadvantages. Since Alex at MBW and I are the same height I have my sights set on his Supersix evo, which he is looking to sell. I just need to come up with a fairly significant amount of cash. gofundme?

In other news, the trails are starting to clear up so I've been out on the MTB a few times. I also upgraded the drivetrain, which was badly needed. I was getting chain suck, dropped chains, and a little skipping in the higher gears. Swapped to 1x11 with a combination of sram and shimano

On the plus side it works well and is almost a full pound lighter than the old setup. On the minus side a single 11-42 cassette has a narrower range than two front chainrings, and so I don't have as low of a climbing gear or as tall of a high gear. My lowest 32x42 is equivalent to 28x36, which you notice when the climbs get steep. I'm wondering how that's going to feel climbing things like sheep mountain or stuart peak. Probably not great. But the narrow-wide ring and clutch derailleur seem to be doing a good job at keeping the chain in place and it is no longer banging around on the descents. First thing I noticed going down chopsticks last week was how quiet it is.

Well, that's all for now. Have a few weeks to get some more fitness going and then it's the hell ride, roubaix, and mountain bike racing season. I don't really have any big racing plans. Hell Ride, Missoula XC and Rolling thunder are the ones I would like to do well at, and then I'll turn up at wednesday races and whatever else I feel like doing. Considering Pierre's Hole down at Targhee as I know a lot of people going this year

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