Sunday, November 17, 2013

Size Matters

The fall of 2013 just keeps on giving and giving to the mountain biking community. Cyclocross racers who thrive in greasy, muddy conditions must be hating this season. I suspect most races have been dusty dry.  Pitty I haven't done a single CX race this year. I certainly do not thrive in greasy conditions and wouldn't mind jumping into one race, but the economics of renewing my USAC for single 40 minutes race locks me out.

Fall is my "off" season anyway. By the time Christmas rolls around, I'm probably at my lowest fitness of the year. I don't roll off much, but I do little to no VOmax work this time of year. Instead, I ride for pure enjoyment, burning down the fitness I accumulated over last winter on skis and over the summer on the bike.

This Saturday, three of us enjoyed yet another 50 mile MTB ride on a perfect day. How often do you get to ride in shorts in mid-November and finish with shins covered in dust? Just awesome. Dave, Soups and I hit the GWB (Georgetown-Rowley, Willowdale, Bradley-Palmer) loop again, the same course the three of us rode in August. I'd have to say that is one of my favorite local rides, along with the 50+ mile Massabesic-Bear Brook loop. Both offer boat loads of flow and just enough tech to keep it interesting.

Leaf drop is pretty much complete now. That added an element of sketchiness that was not present in August. Dave was on his rigid with road friendly 2.0" Geax AKA tires. Soups was sporting monster truck tires, 2.4" Maxxis Ardent's. I was somewhere in the middle, having just mounted new 2.25" Schwalbe Racing Ralph's. Can you guess how this turned out?

We went out pretty hard, with a bit of pavement and a lot of carriage track in the first 15 miles. It didn't take long before knee warmers came off. The cloud cover dissipated, giving way to a perfect bluebird sky. Bombing down "Skull Face" in Bradley Palmer, Soups just took off. I was on the cusp of smacking up with a tree continuously with my RR tires not gaining traction in the leaves. Soups claimed it was his tires, but I suspect there was a lot more to it than that. Soups no doubt brought his CX skills to the game as well.  Dave, with his gravel grinder tires, experienced even more near death experiences. This became the pattern for the rest of the ride.

After topping water off at the Cumberland mid-ride, we headed into Georgetown-Rowley. The most challenging terrain is saved for last, when the fatigue begins to skyrocket.  Lots of tight trails in there, and not flat either. Dave suffered a boo-boo early in GR, I suffered a mishap as we left GR. Deep leaves on ATV trail masked loose orange-sized rocks around a turn that instantly spit my bike out from under me. Of course, I landed hard on the wrist I fractured in August. At first I feared for my scaphoid, but I think maybe I just "loosened up" some scar tissue in there. Soups was not having any of these difficulties with his behemoth tires. Perhaps size really does matter.

With a bit more down-time than usual due to a broken chain, crashes and frequent bike set-up induced re-groupings, the sun was getting low in the sky as we finished. Actually, this time of year, shadows stay long, even at noon. Starting with long layers, shedding them mid-ride, then feeling the need for them again as we finished stimulated the senses. Have to love days like that.

I finished with 50.9mi, 4400ft in 4.4hrs moving time on my Garmin 705. This was about two minutes faster than in August, despite leaf drop. I used a wheel sensor. I also ran my Garmin 500 linked to the sensor. Both recorded same distance (within 0.2%), yet Strava ignores wheel sensor data with the 500, shorting me 10% on distance. Only the 705 data is posted on Strava right now, as Strava no longer lets you post duplicates of a workout. I will post on Strava distance inaccuracies later this week. In the mean time, here are a few pics from the ride.

Ipswich River

Dave on lots of leaf cover in Willowdale.

Soups with no fear of washing out in leaves.

Soups riding glacial esker on Bay Circuit Trail

Beaver dam crossing

Dave in Georgetown-Rowley around a rock that confounds Soups each time

Soups towards the end of loop through Georgetown

What's on your ride (like "What's in your wallet" commercial)? Soups' Ardent on left, Dave's
AKA on right.

Who is this bearded man? A flannel shirt and overalls would complete the look.

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