Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well, I was hoping to post another picture of me on top of the Mohican 100 NUE Series Single Speed Podium with this post. Unfortunately, the luck I needed for that win was not with me. I had a great race going up until just before the 3rd checkpoint. I was riding with last years NUE Series Single Speed Champion Fuzzy John and was feeling real good. We had a real big gap over the third place single speed rider and were in the top 15 riders overall before my bike had a mechanical issue which brought my race to an end.

On a steep downhill with railroad ties used as water bars, I heard a loud cracking noise right before checkpoint number 2. I knew the noise was nothing good, but the bike still seemed to be riding okay so I continued riding. The longer I rode the more creaking I heard coming from my bike. I started becoming pretty worried about the creaking and figured it was probably coming from my frame. Finally, on a long rocky descent going into checking point three, the creaking noise became so loud that I knew there was a major issue with the frame. I then lost contact with the group I was riding in going down into checkpoint three because I took the rest of the downhill very conservatively, in fear that I might completely snap my frame. When I arrived at checkpoint three, I examined my bike and found that indeed my frame was cracked on the top tube.

The frame I was using had about 3 years of use and actually had cracked at an indentation created by my handlebars coming around and smacking the frame last year, so it was definitely not caused by bad material or workmanship on the frame manufacturer's part. The sad thing about this story is my new frame was to arrive on Thursday before I left for the race, but did not actually arrive until after I left for the race on Friday. Talk about luck!

After leaving checkpoint three, I decided to ride back on the 100K course to get back to the camp ground where the race started. Surprisingly, the bike was still riding okay even with the cracked frame. I did not trust it though, so I rode the descents very slowly and cautiously and kept a constant eye on the crack. I ended up finishing the 100K course in third overall and as the first single speeder, even with my cautious riding and a cracked frame. I asked the race promoter if I was able to switch from the 100 mile race category to the 100K category after I finished, but he would not allow me to switch since I was registered for the other race.

Fuzzy John did end up winning the single speed class. In the men's open race (geared guys), Jeremiah Bishop took the overall win. The lead group was flying this year with the perfect trail conditions. Andy ended up finishing 19th overall with a time of about 7 hours 51 minutes and Ernesto finished 21st with a time just over 8 hours, which was not bad for those guys considering all the pro racers that showed up at the race. The NUE Series is becoming super competitive now with top pros coming to every race. It has been cool watching these events grow in popularity.

All in all, I was pretty happy with everything about the day and race except obviously the fact that I was not able to finish the 100 mile race in the way I had planned. My legs felt great and even the bike seemed to be working great other than my major frame issue. I feel pretty confident I will be able to pick-up where I left off at the next NUE Series race in Michigan in three weeks. So, I guess I will take solace from this race by considering it as a good, but very expensive training ride. Happy Trails - Gerry

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Big Thanks!

Last week was a big mileage week for me, as I prepared for the Mohican 100 this coming weekend . In total I did 18.5 hours of riding. The highlight of the week and actually the last ride I did was on Saturday at North Park. I grew up at the edge of North Park and as a teenager rode the horse trials there long before mountain bikes were even invented on my MCS Magnum 26" BMX Cruiser in the early 1980s. In many ways that old bike was not much different than my current single speed mtn bike. But, it was not my bike that made this ride special.

The old horse trails of Allegheny County's North Park were okay to ride back in the day, as long as you did not ride them on a muddy day after a group of horses were there. The trails now, however, are absolutely amazing. I ended up doing about 4 hours and 20 minutes of riding on Saturday, with about 3 of those hours on the new single track cut all over North Park. The trails were so much fun that I barely noticed how long I was on the bike. There were so many new trails to choose from that I was glad to have Andy along with me as a trail guide, since this is home training turf and he is very familiar with the new trail network.

Anyway, I need to say thank you to PTAG for the hard work they did on the North Park Trails. It is volunteers from PTAG that made riding at North Park a completely new experience for me. One of our team's sponsors from the Law Firm of SPK, Brian DelVecchio, is a PTAG member and a big contributor to this trail work at the park and so he deserves a big thank you also.

I must say that if you haven't been out to the North Park Trails lately, you do need to get there and ride. And when you do ride the trails, think about how much work went into them and then thank Brian or any other PTAG Member that you know for what they did and continue to do to improve the mtb riding at the park.

On another note, only four more days until the Mohican 100, so this is an easy training week for me. The weather for race day now looks like it should be pretty good. Additionally, I am feeling good and everything else seems to be ready to go, so hopefully, with some good luck, I can ride to another NUE Series 100 mile single speed win on Saturday. Happy Trails - Gerry

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Wilds

Gorski and I raced at the OMBC Race called the Wilds this past weekend. The venue is near a wild animal preserve called the wilds, hence the name. The course was on a 13 mile loop of some pretty sweet single track. We did two loops, or about 26 miles of racing. The course was technical without being too grueling on the mind or body.

Since I have been doing the single speed thing this season, I decided to stick with it at this race. Apparently, I was the only one that actually registered for the single speed class. I did not learn this until after the race was over though unfortunately. I could have sworn I saw many other single speeders riding around before the race, so I am not too sure what happened there. Anyway, the race promoter called the experts and single speeders to the starting line and off we all went. I raced like I was leading my class, which I was because I was the only one in it.

At the end of the race, I ended up taking 5th in the expert class....the 1st (and only) single speeder. Of course, only the top 4 expert riders got paid. If I would have known that I was actually racing with the expert class, I might have raced a little more aggressively, or maybe even chose to race in the vet expert class. Oh well, it was a fun race and the $10 seat bag I got off the prize table certainly made my trip a worth while experience....

My angry little travel buddy, Gorski, was able to take the vet expert win, so that was cool too. The picture above is Gorski grabing his cash and a view of the huge prize table from where I got to pick my finishing award. One last mentionable note about the race was seeing SteveO make his 2009 mtn bike debute. Always good to see SteveO, especially since he was able to snag 2nd place in the expert class!

I can't seem to find any nearby XC races this weekend, so I think I will do a few long and hard days of training before tapering off for the Mohican 100 on June 30th.
Happy Trails Friends, Gerry

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Racing out of the Saddle

Usually, when someone speaks of being out of the saddle, it means the race was fast and hard. Well, the second stop on the WVMBA XC Series was the Mountwood Race and it has always been known as being a challenging course because it has many climbs. I raced out of the saddle today not because I was going all that hard, but because about 6 miles into my 22 mile race, I cracked my carbon FSA Seatpost off at where it enters the frame. At the point in the race where the post cracked, I was leading the single speed class and had worked my way up to about the top 5 overall. I was feeling good and enjoying my ride in the nasty mud, which covered the course.

I am not too sure how the post cracked because it is only a week old and I was not even riding on anything that could be consider too rough. When I noticed that it cracked, I grabbed it with my hand and carried it for a short distance, trying to consider all of my options. I thought about putting it back in, but knew it would not do too much good because of the short length. Since I figured that getting the remain post out of the frame would be a very difficult task, I ditched that plan and decided to try riding without a post. I then saw a course volunteer standing by a truck and I asked him if he could hold onto the post until the end of the race. He agreed and off I went.

It did not take much time for other riders to start catching me as I got used to riding a bike without a seat. I was surprised, though, that more riders were not catching me and that no other single speeders had caught me yet. I kept pounding away on the course out of the saddle. After doing this for a few miles, I could tell it was definitely taking much more effort than spinning along seated on my bike. My arms and quads were certainly beginning to feel the effects of my extra effort. I challenged myself, however, to keep going and to not give up. I figured that I paid my entry and drove 2.5 hours to the race, so I might as well get a good workout out of the day, if not anything else.

It took quite sometime before the second place single speed rider caught me. He rode behind me for a short distance and then came around me. I was a little bummed to be caught, but did my best to hold his wheel. After riding a mile or two with this other rider, I started to catch my second wind and decided to pass him to keep my pace up. I did not see him again until after I finished the race. It was an ugly win, but I must say a gratifying one for me, since I had to overcome such a difficult obstacle.

There will be no racing for me next weekend. My plan is to do two long rides each day. I will do at least 100 on Saturday and probably about a 4 hour hilly ride on Sunday. Anyone care to join me? I will be sure to bring an extra bottle of pain along with me if you like, but this time my bottle of pain will include a seat. Later Friends, Gerry