Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weekend by Pictures

As promised, here are a few photos from the past few days, starting with the Mt Washington race. This year's race could remain as my most memorable race on the Rock Pile. Ideal conditions to start, PR pace, mechanical, setting a PR despite adversity, then hail and lighting just after finishing. How whackier could things have been?

Myself finishing on 22% grade

Coming by the camera woman (my wife) into finish, broken spoke induced strain in the legs

Ominous cloud forming over summit area

Beginning of hail and lightning

The business trip to Minnesota went well. Monday was a long day, but I was able to squeeze in a ride at dusk on a wonderful paved rail trail called the Douglas Trail. It heads 13 miles out of Rochester to Pine Island, a small village. During this ride, my front derailleur kept rubbing in big ring. I kept backing out the shifter barrel adjuster, but then in another mile it would be rubbing again. I thought for sure the cable was ready to snap. This was my winter MTB, and I hadn't checked the cables in a while. But it was fine. Hmmm... Start riding some more, rubbing gets worse and now I'm out of barrel adjustment. I recalled hearing a little bottom bracket creak earlier. What if crank was coming loose. I checked it, and it was on verge of falling off!! I was standing up hammering some of the overpass bridges. I shuddered thinking about the consequences of losing a crank arm hammering at 20mph. I torqued it down and was good for the rest of the ride.

Last night testing wrapped up a little earlier, so I was able to get up to Red Wing, MN. It is about 50 minutes north of Rochester. This place was wicked cool to ride. They have MTB races there on purpose built singletrack. I had map, but with no signage on the ground, it was hard to follow. I essentially did a lap backwards from race route. Then I saw a local rider head in the right way, booking it. I followed. There are several areas that flow like a half pipe in gullies. You experience about 3G forces in the bottom with nearly weightlessness on the upper bows. I passed the local rider where the trail widened to double track. A little while later I stopped to look at map and he came by again. I follow up a hill and he asked if I liked a good climb. I said yep, and he said a really good one was coming up, in an almost taunting way. I cleaned it in my middle ring, but barely. I nearly hurled on this intense 3-4 minute effort. The elvation change here is around 500ft, a little more than the other three places I rode out there. This loop contained all the best stuff that folks head up to the Kingdom Trails of Vermont for. I turned 46 this day, and guys my age should never be allowed to have this much fun. I was able to get in nearly 8hrs of riding during the trip.

Decorah, IA: Steep switchbacks on bluffs above Iowa River

Decorah, IA: Ice Cave

La Crosse, WI: I believe this was on trail called Hill Pig

Winona, MN: One of the bonier switchbacks

Winona, MN: Mississippi river and bluffs in background

Rochester, MN: The Douglas Trail

Red Wing, MN: Town of Red Wing, Mississippi river in background

Red Wing, MN: One of the slalom sections. This one was so steep that I wussed out on the latter part around the log. It had a little kicker (jump) just before the 180deg turn, and it appeared the only way to negotiate it without falling and sliding all the way to the bottom was to turn in mid air. It put Sidewinder at Kingdom Trails to shame.

Red Wing, MN: The area called The Quary

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