Ride the Ridge race 2009

The first race is in the books for 2009 and I have learned that I am in sorry racer shape.
I had seen this race being advertised, and I realized that it was very close to the Vining Tract cabins. So we rented the Vining cabin, with Jon, Elizabeth, Jamie, Kevin and Sara. Kevin was going to race his first Mt. bike race and boy did he pick a whopper.
We went down on Friday, and we got to the Blue Ridge School just in time to do the pre-ride. During the pre-ride I was thinking that this course was the hardest mt. bike race course that I have ever done. We did the beginner loop which was around 7-8miles. The course had some massive climbs and lots of technical rock sections. Reminded me of a cross of Big Bear and Gambril, but take out any fast sections besides the doubletrack downhill. Kevin rides with Platforms and is still learning allot of mt. biking skills so he was going to run through the stuff he couldn't ride. I thought he would do ok cause he was climbing almost as fast as me.
As usual I got up with plenty of time, but didn't leave on time. We get to the race site there is perfect weather and we have 20minutes before the race goes off. We get suited up and Kev changed his tire since the patch on the tube didn't hold. I lined up back of the experts and that was where I would stay all day. My game plan was to ride fast, but not to push myself like I did last year at Greenbrier. I am not in shape so I knew that I needed the miles, and a good hard effort would help my conditioning.
Lap 1
Course had been cleaned up even more then it was Friday. There were only like 3 sections that I needed to scamper though. I was riding pretty consistantly, I passed one guy on the trail and that was the last person I would pass.
Lap 2
For the 2nd of the sport riders and the 2nd, 3rd of the expert riders the race course added another climb up some switchback with rocks laying around. I was doing a pretty good pace up the climb, and by this time I am riding with the top sport guys. I was able to get thru this one rocky section that a guy was cheering at. After that climbing effort I was starting to feel my back so I started thinking of quitting after the 2nd lap and calling it a day. I kept the door open to doing another lap, so I rode conservativaly to have energy for the 3rd lap.
Lap 3
After my second lap Sara, Jamie, Elizabeth, and Jon were cheering for me at the start finish area, and I told them 110minutes for another lap, boy was I wrong...... so on the third lap I was just consentrating on just pedaling. I wasn't taking the steep downhill sweepers as fast, cause I didn't want to wreck. I was walking more of the short steep grunters that I had riden before. My lack of base miles was really showing that last lap, I started to get muscle cramps. By half way through the 2nd lap I went from racing to riding and then in the 3rd lap I went from riding to surviving. It was right about this time, one of the two expert female racers passed me. I was almost done, so I went down the hill and the back up to the super slow grass section to the finish.
I don't have my official results but here are the stats:

Darren Biggs DCMTB Whole Foods 0:58:30 1:19:18 1:29:32 3:47:20
-My first expert race where I was DFL, but at least I wasn't DNF.
24 miles
4600 feet of elevation!!
the longest XC(not enduro,SM100 kind of thing) race I have ever done for a frame of referance Greinbier the Mid-Atlantic National qualifier I did in like 2:07.

Things that went well:

  • The Vining Cabin was a great base for the weekend with the other couples we did a winery, got see the horses, and play some games
  • The pre-ride was benificitial cause I knew that I was going to need to "save" myself
  • Making a pre-determined effort to lockout the front shock and stand for parts of certain climbs.
  • Not overly stressing my lower back and ruin my season
  • Actually got through the mental hurdle of doing the 3rd lap
  • Putting in a sub 4 hour hard effort in nice weather should help the conditioning
  • I got thru two obsticles on the course I didn't believe I could
  • Kevin doing a great ride, his first mt. bike race and he did sport class where he rocked on the up hills.
What I learned:
  • I need to train on an indoor trainer or do spinning class in the winter.
  • That this Standardsville area has some good biking(did a cross dirt ride here last year)
  • I still need to work on my technical skills
  • I need to replace my cables and drivetrain soon.
  • That the course that I thought was maybe too hard for a race was actually a great course, if they berm a couple of turns and make 2-3 approuches to rock sections right it will be about perfect


Bakers Pre-Ride

From March 14

There was to be a pre-ride at the bakers dozen course so we decided to have a DCMTB ride since several of us were going to be there. We had Tom, Lynne, Scardiville on his new custom 29er with nice compact crankset. Mike Sweeney a new DCMTB recruit came out but had drank too much the night before-bad mt. biker :-), Chris and Mark rounded out the group. We rode the trail, and they are running it backwards from last year, but the same way as the first Bakers Dozen. Scardiville was leading us out on the new bike, with myself following behind. Everything was going great until I stopped to tighten my seat post clamp, and I broke the bolt! So I did the rest of the ride standing and sitting on my seat that was slowly going down into my seat tube. I quit after one lap, but the others did another. I think halfway through their next lap the rain finally came that had been forecasted. I found out that the issue with my seatpost slipping was the seat collar. The Salsa seat collar which is nice, was a tad big, once I put on an old Gary Fisher quick release the seatpost stayed pat. I am exicited to race Bakers dozen, but also sad cause our teammate Samantha will not be there cause of her operation and recuperation(get better soon). So not sure who Mike K. and I will race with.


Skink, Viper, Salamandar at the Shed.

So I went up to the Shed, and did some new trials that Mike K. has been working on. The trails were nice, not my best terrain but It is good to go up there and get better at riding the rocks. I finally saw mike break his chain so that was kinda cool after him harassing me so much. I rode up with Matty so it was good to catch up with him. The proud moment of the ride, was when I was in front after the pit and going towards Rock Candy I was riding stuff pretty well. I had Pos, Mike, Matty behind so I knew I needed to get going cause those guys can rock the technical stuff. So the trail had big air stuff and ride arounds, which were not easy mind you(through rocks still). I went over the things I had to and then there was a Rock skinny that went through a big ditch. I just made it over that so it was my shinning moment! I think the Skinny work at Fountain Head helped. We didn't get to Iceburg the weather was getting worse so Matty and I climbed to Sand Flats. We got mexican afterwards which was good for the system. The ride and weather got me sickly so I went home and slept 2.5 hours. I am going to map that whole place out and do some big rides up there.


Finally did the Skinny

So last week I was able to get a mid week ride in at fountainhead. I think that fountainhead is one of the best training rides you can do. The trails have technical, have enough up and downs, and it is a good length to measure a lap time. I did two laps with the first being slower and the second a faster pace. What I have found out is I am so far behind the curve right now. I mean I know my fastest time out on the trail was 42:30 and I once did a three lap test at 50min. per lap. So I think I got a 55 or so on my second lap, now I wasn't totally killing it, but you can see that I am way off what I need to be at. I think I will do another test in June. The big news for the ride for me was I finally did the skinny forward, and backward. I am not the best technical rider, but I feel I am usually able to hold my own. One area that has been getting me is these skinnies. Most rides you don't need to ride a log to get over something, but I did use the skill gained here on a some rockwalks in the shed. On my second lap I chased down some guys that went in before me, and then afterward got to talking to Adolfo who was a nice dude. Should see him again at the Bakers Dozen race.


GamJams Reviews: The Wheels I Want - 3 pairs

I ride/race allot of different bikes road, mountain, and cross. So here are the wheels I would like for each........

What I have Xaero lite:
For the road I have been riding these wheels for 8 years and never broken a spoke!!!!! Now wheels with J spokes I have popped countless ones of those. Now my wheels are just like these but have the yellow carbon spokes. These wheels were great with my Aluminum Bianchi, but with my new carbon bike I think a stiffer wheelset would do me good.

What I want:So the Wheels I would like to go to our this wheels cousin

Spinergy Stealth FCC

I think with these wheels I would get the stiffness I am looking for along with super strong spokes that I like.

ZTR 355 29'er Wheelset

My next wheel is an idea that I think I am actually going to buy well not the full blown Idea. I am going to race the SS division at Wednesday @ Wakefield this year so I was thinking of getting some No Tubes Stans wheels to lighten it up and to run tubeless. I was also thinking to then use these same wheels for cross season. The version I will get will be built up with the WTB Lite hubs but if I had the $$ I would get DT Swiss 190 for a 1500 gram 29er/cyclocross wheelset!


Fixies are not crit bikes....

I have been taking a true off season, and part of that off-season is playing volleyball. I have been playing with the fairfax meetup group. I will be stopping soon so I can bike more, but I was still signed up for a couple of events. I decided to do a fixed gear ride after playing volleyball since it was in the high 60's. The good news was that the middle school where I was playing volley-ball was right near a bike route I do to work.
I changed up the ride a little by going down Holmes run to Eisenhower through Alexandria to the Mt. Vernon trail then to Shirlington and back on the bike route road to the middle school.

The Holmes run part was ok, but it is more of a walking path then a bike path. There were sections that were totally dirt so you wouldn't have been able to ride a race bike on it easily. Eisenhower ave was ok I took the new bike path until it got close to the metro then I was on the road cause it turned into a sidewalk path which is not conducive to bikes. There was some major traffic in Alexandria but that was ok since I was on a bike I was able to do some cut-throughs. Once I got on the Mt. Vernon trail I started to encounter the mass amounts of people. Trouble started when I went past a slow biker, and turned a corner and I had a pedal strike. My rear wheel jumped like a foot to the right and I almost wrecked. I was like,"that was a close call" So I was going fine until I came to a chicane under ridge road. I am going and I have another pedal strike, my rear wheel jumps like 2 feet to the right and my tire I think came off the rim cause I heard a loud BOOM of my tube exploding. Since I am on a fixed gear I am still pedaling and I know I am going to wreck. So I am not sure what happened next but I think I got bucked off the bike and hit the ground and rested into a wall. I think my pedal cage got a little bent in the first pedal strike, so that is why it kicked my bike up in the air so much. I was lucky and didn't get hurt too badly just my ego :-/
Well here is where I messed up... somehow my bike didn't have a tube or the wrench in the bike seat bag. So I didn't know what to do, luckly I know people. I called Mark who lives in Arlington about 3 miles from where I was. He was home, and he came to the rescue with a tube and a wrench. I was able to fix the bike and finish the ride. The other big highlight was being able to ride the new Glebe Rd/395 underpass that has taken like 15 years to get done!!! I went to some Arlington Bike meetings a couple years ago and the issue was that like 4 parties owned the land and they had a hard time getting the rights to build a path on that land. The ride up the hill in Shirlington, and some of the roads back to my car were a little steep for a fixie but I was able to tuff it out. First thing I did when I got home was take a hack saw to the pedals and cut off the "U" part of the platform side of the pedals(I use regular shoes on the is bike sometimes).