Wednesday, June 26, 2013

XXL Gets "Stoked" for the 100

Great Trip down to Stokesville this weekend.

Friday: Cain headed down to Stokesville and attempted to secure us a camping spot at Todd Lake, but unfortunately or fortunately, they were full. He drove on down the road and got a spot at the North River Campground.

Saturday Morning: Steve, Ernie, Simona, Brad, and I all met at the Vienna Metro Station to carpool down. Ernie arrived with a the largest duffel bag I have ever seen. A few of us thought he might be bringing Larry with him packed in the bag. Drive down was uneventful, but we did a make a stop at Love's Truck Stop where Steve picked up a poncho made of "Fibers" and Simona was creeped out by some life-size dolls.

We arrive at the Cain's Campsite at North River and immediately determine that it wasn't going to work. Even though Sharon wasn't there, we were worried that we were going to be too loud to the other campers and the camp host. Luckily, we saw a good private primitive campsite just a couple hundred yards down the road. We cleaned up his camp, threw his tent on his truck, and staked our claim.

Saturday Ride: Headed out at 10:30 am and immediately started climbing Hankey Mountain.

The climb is about 4 miles long and the Grass was super high. My legs and arms were totally cut up, puffy, and itchy. I did my best to not scratch and thankfully Simona had some Benadryl. After five false summits, we were finally arrived at the Dowells Draft downhill. We flew down that thing faster than we should of and fast enough to be scared. A few of us paceline down it and if the leader wrecked, the rest of the group was going down as well, which fortunately did not happen. That downhill is awesome. Great mix of technical and fast. Near the bottom we spooked a turkey that others foolishly thought was an eagle. Silly NYers.

We headed over the general store/taxidermy shop to restock our water and met some fellow cyclists who were professors from JMU. After filling up we headed up the road to Mountain House. We deliberated for a while on the best way to cross the stream, but eventually we were on the steep climb up Bridge Hollow. Brad and Simona led the charge to the top. Besides the rock stairs in the beginning, the climb is steep, but mostly rideable. Thankfully, there are no false summits, but the air was still and warm. I managed to make all of it except for one section where I didn't have enough speed. The descent down Bald Ridge is another great one. Last time I rode it I was really hurting, so it was great to be able to let it go. Bench cut and fast, with just enough tech stuff to keep you on your toes. We were flying again with me in the lead. I barely missed a turn and Steve had to ride into the woods to avoid me. Thankfully, he stayed upright and unscathed. At the bottom we took the turn onto Johnson Draft as you would do in the 100. Wasn't the best decision, but not terrible either. Trail was overgrown and wet, so we pushed our way through. Hopefully it is drier in September.

Brad, Simona, Steve, and I decided to take the gravel road towards Camp Todd as you would do in the 100 to another climb and then take a downhill trail that I have never ridden (Flat Run) back to our campsite to get some extra miles. Mike and Ernie decided to take the more direct way back to camp and remaining four of us climbed up the road. After a steep gravel climb we arrived at the trail (or what I thought was the trail). The entrance to the trail appeared to be overgrown, but we decided to push on. We bushwhacked for a 1/2 mile until we arrived at an old meadow, or what was an old meadow. It was totally overgrown with grass, briars, nettles, and small pine trees. The 'trail' that we were following just disappeared. We did some exploring, but we couldn't find where to go. The only evidence that anything had been there was the bear poop. We were forced to turn around and decided to take long road back to camp (I now know where we went wrong, sorry about that). After passing a Ham Radio camp, Simona looking fresh as a daisy led us up the last hill.

5:30 PM, 7 hours, and almost 40 miles later, we were back at camp. Zero mechanicals and a 1/2 crash (Ernie fell, but no one saw it.) 

Saturday Night: After cleaning up in the stream with some good ole' boys fishing above us, we had some Carne Asasda, Campfire Burritos, Chips, Salsa, etc. Conversation consisted of standard XXL Banter (Making fun of everyone that wasn't there, etc.) Around 9:30pm we noticed a creepy blue van driving down the road. "Is that Russ?" Simona walks out to the road to make it easier to be kidnapped and the van starts driving back. Sure enough it's Russ. He had ended his bike-packing trip a day early and managed to find us in a secluded unmarked campsite in the middle of the National Forest. He was a bit delirious and it turns out he had incorrectly visited some other sites looking for us. We hung out some more and got to watch the super moon rise over the campsite. 

Sunday: Packed up camp and headed out for the ride. Russ decided to join us for the ride and we climbed up Tilghman West for two miles up to the Tower Trail and Narrowback Ridge. That trail is a blast. Very cool rock work combined with flow, but it is going to get stacked up in 100. We descended down to the dog graveyard and took the gravel and paved road to the Briery Branch Reservoir and the Lynn trail. That climb has got to be steepest most unrelenting climb down there. I started off well, but just ran out of gears. It was hot humid and I arrived at the top soaked with sweat. Both Simona and Brad said it was harder than they remembered. Mike wanted to hit me.

We were waiting for everyone to arrive and bees started swarming around us (hope they fix that before September). We hastily retreated down the trail and hoped that those who hadn't arrived at the top didn't get stung. Mike had a long drive ahead, so he and Steve rode down first. Brad and I were next. The majority of that downhill is not that fun. Sketchy loose rock and rutted out. Everyone's hands were burning. The last third is a flowish type trail (where I broke my hand three years ago) that is very fun. I was following Brad, but he was quickly out of sight. I know I am not very fast on that type of trail, but Brad is able to really move on it. After a two mile gravel grind we eventually all made it back to the start. Four hours, 20 miles, zero mechanicals, and zero crashes.

Another bath in the stream and we headed to Flying NY Pizza in Bridgewater for some pie and cheap cold beer. The five of us hit the road back to DC. A most Excellent Adventure. Glad that Mike could make it down from New York. Hopefully, he had as much fun as he did at the NOVA Epic.

Lesson Learned: 1x10 is not going to cut it in the 100. I would like some more gears on both the high and low end for the race.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Cycling News: Cobb Imposter Bonks; Hedgehog Presumed Dead

Just your ordinary Team XXL Shed ride.

1 broken shoulder
2.5 flats
multiple headset adjustments
a cracked helmet
one angry hedge hog with a tire track on his back
one body snatched!

Reports Captain Steveo, "Ian went left in a rock garden type bridge/feature thing and should have gone right, Joel tried to go up gallantly over a rock but the rock won. Miller and I flatted and Larry basically hit a hedge hog1 at 34.6 mph on the road down to death march."  Assuming that readers would question or care about the accuracy of his report, Steve continues "How do I know 34.6 mph? B/C that was my top speed for the day and we were hauling down that road until the hedge hog encounter."

Mr. Cobb, who nearly missed the hedge hog, reported "Ernie never expected that I had such concern for furry small animals2 and he nearly smashed head long into me from behind."3  Cobb, typically leading the group up difficult climbs, was unusually sluggish on Sunday.  Rumors of a body double ensued.  Employing the Team XXL Guide to Excuses, Ernie defends Cobb: "[his] efforts [the day before] included dropping a CAT 1 rider on the climb out of Rosslyn Saturday morning."  Cobb commented: "he passed me on the 2nd hill up Military,  then I dropped him on the last hill into Glebe,  but I strategically turned off onto a side road the minute I was out of sight,  and spent 10 minutes recovering in agony.  Poor guy thinks some old fat guy dressed in an Extra,  Extra Large (XXL) jersey kicks his ass."  Perfect XXL form. 

1.  Yes, readers, you are correct.  There are no hedgehogs in North America.  This is Queens speak for woodchuck.

2.  There have been suspicions.

3.  The editor, trying to maintain journalistic integrity with accurate reports, apologizes for this disturbing image that will haunt most of us for days.  

Cycling News: USA Pro Challenge Could Get Top Rider Joel Kennet of Silver Spring

The Denver Post's John Henderson breaks down the seven major UCI World Tour teams entered in the USA Pro Challenge:

BMC Racing team (U.S.)
Features two Boulder residents: Tejay van Garderen, winner of this year's Tour of California and the top young rider in last year's Tour de France, and Taylor Phinney, defending champion of last year's Pro Challenge time trial. Team leader is Cadel Evans, winner of the 2011 Tour de France.

Cannondale Pro Cycling (Italy) Formerly Liquigas-Cannondale, it features Ivan Basso, winner of the 2007 and 2010 Giro d'Italia, and 2010 Vuelta a EspaƱa. Peter Sagan won the green points jersey in last year's Tour de France.

Leopard RadioShack (Luxembourg) Stars are the Schleck brothers. Andy, the 2010 Tour de France winner, is recovering from a broken pelvis last year and is only 78th in this week's Tour du Suisse. Brother Frank, third in the 2009 Tour de France, returns from a one-year doping ban July 13. Fabian Cancellara, the four-time world time trial champion who won Paris-Roubaix, is not doing the Tour de France and will focus on the world championships in Sept. 21-29.

Sky Procycling (Great Britain) Bradley Wiggins is the defending Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion but is recovering from a chest infection. Chris Froome finished second to Wiggins in last year's Tour and is favored this year.

Team Argos-Shimano (Netherlands) In its first year on the World Tour, the team had wild-card berths in the 2009 and 2012 Tours de France. Marcel Kitten, a 25-year-old German, is having a breakout year. He won France's Tour de Picardie in May and has won stages in the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice and three in the Tour of Turkey.

Team XXL (U.S.) Boasts Kennet, coming off a 4th out of 5 finish at the Big Bear 2x12 in 2012, Extra-G Fressa, whose ban, imposed in 2008 for traces of vodka cranberry in his blood, has been lifted, and Cookie Boynton, who recovers from a subdural hematoma suffered after a gruesome crash on the WOD.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff (Denmark)
Timmy Duggan, a Boulder native and Nederland resident, is recovering from a broken tibia and collarbone suffered in January at the Tour Down Under. He finished 91st in the Tour of California and 77th in the Tour of Turkey. Team picked up Rory Sutherland, who won the Pro Challenge's epic Stage 6 up Boulder's Flagstaff Mountain for Team Unitedhealthcare a year ago.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Goings On Around Town

The DC metro region had a BIG weekend of biking.  True to our name, XXL played no small part.

Saturday was the second annual (for DC) New Belgium Tour De Fat. Never ones to pass up "Beer, Bikes, and Bemusement" (why didn't WE think of that slogan?) XXL was sure to be there.

Carey, artist behind XXL's new t-shirt, shown here, rolling in the TDF

XXLer and MORE Boardie Jason, with one of his XXS's

Sunday marked the inaugural MORE NoVA Epic.  Team XXL hosted the Lake Accotink Aid Station, fueling riders with energy bars, gummy bears, and, to be sure riders were replenishing their salt levels, bloody marys.  Hey, the ride was during brunch!  XXL also fielded a couple of riders.  As this was not a competitive event, we felt comfortable with our entrants.

Steveo rolling into the XXL Aid Station

Team XXL assumes no responsibility for this bike build

Off they go!

XXLer, Accotink Trail Liaison, Wrench -- is there anything Mike P. can't do?

Team XXL welcomes Bikenetic friends to our pit stop.

Summer's here folks!  See you on the trails.