To say I am excited would be an understatement. For the last month or two I have felt highly motivated. This spring I don’t have a problem with getting myself on the bike. I’m having a ton of fun. The bigger problem is tearing myself off the saddle and telling myself that the ride has to end sometime.
Some of the highlights so far this spring have included:
- Winning the skinny tire division in the Chestnut Ridge fat bike races put on by Combo in January and February.
- Completing the Death March Ride put on by Dino at the beginning of March and hitting every checkpoint – 72 miles of road, gravel and trail.
- Tackling almost all of the bike paths in Columbus in one 80-mile bike ride on my singlespeed mountain bike. (Next time I want to hit them all and make it a century.)
- My epic 72-mile day with Joe Worboy where we rode Mohican and then did a 50 mile gravel grinder with 5000 feet of climbing.
- Joining Strava! https://www.strava.com/athletes/quickdirt (I might be developing an addiction.)
- …and buying my new Trek Superfly Singlespeed from Breakaway Cycling in Delaware. This new bike has definitely provided me with tons of motivation!
These have all been amazing experiences and could easily fill my entire highlight reel for 2016, but really they are just the precursor to my ultimate goal – racing this summer. My focus this year is on the Mohican 100, Tristate 6-hour series, and 6 Hours of Vulture’s Knob. But as the season gets closer, I’m also getting pretty jacked up for another year in the Expert 40+ division of the OMBC.
For every epic journey I’ve had this spring though, there have been at least a half dozen “mundane” training days. I put the word mundane in quotes because it doesn’t really describe how I’ve felt while I’m doing them. I’m happy as a clam when I’m out riding, I would ride even more if I had the time, but these aren’t the kind of rides that you blog about.
Having the new bike has really helped. I’ve never been single speeding before this season and it has changed how I train quite a bit and given me some new inspiration on my local routes. I’m no longer just looking for an open stretch of highway with a 90 rpm cadence when the trail is wet. I can’t get a good singlespeed workout on flat roads. I need vertical. I find myself looking for hills to climb. …and that ain’t easy in Lewis Center, Ohio.
I’ve done more hill repeats than I’d care to admit this spring, but each one feels like it’s done with a purpose. When I’m on my 14th trip up the same hill, I can’t help but think of all the hills I’m going to have to climb at Mohican this year. I think about the Barbed Wire Ascent at Great Seal. I think about the Wall at Scioto trails. I think about the sledding hill at Dillon. I don’t want to walk my bike up these. I didn’t take up mountain biking because I like to hike. I want to pedal and that’s motivating me to train.
Sidenote: Here are some of the new items I have in my workshop. Click on the links to see reviews and prices:
- Park Tools CCP-44 Crank Puller
- Bontrager Flash Ready Charger Tubeless Ready Pump
- Powergel Tangerine 2X Caffeine gels – 24-pack
- Park Tools Valve Core Remover VC-1
- Stan’s NoTubes Sealant – the big bottle
- Surly Singlespeed Cogs 16T, 17T, 19T, 20T from Breakaway Cycling
- Origin-8 Singlespeed Spacer kit – red to be more colorful
- Bontrager Inform Evoke RL Grips
- Stan’s Notubes Sealant Injector
- Garmin Speed Sensor and Separate Cadence Sensor with NO MAGNETS. LOVE IT!
The new singlespeed has also given new meaning to my local trails at Alum Creek. There are only so many times you can do a 6-mile loop before you start to go crazy. But now, I find myself looking forward to the new challenge of seeking out PRs for my new bike. I was able to lay down the fastest time for the year on Strava for the full loop at P2. (On another occasion, I went almost a minute faster, but Strava didn’t record it, so it didn’t happen.) I’m sure that victory won’t last as more people dust off their bikes, but now I’m hungry just to beat my own time. Could I beat my geared PR on a singlespeed? It’ll be fun trying. Basically, the new bike/Strava have given my old speed workouts a new twist. …and that’s the kind of motivation I needed this year.
At the end of last year I was feeling burnt out. It was my first year in expert and I spent most of the season getting my butt kicked by riders who seemed like they had better bikes and more time to train. Then I spent more time getting beaten in Cat5 CX. It started to get a bit demoralizing at some points. Many times, I wondered why I was even trying.
But, now I’ve been able to reframe my goals in a brand new context. My bike is lighter. I’m losing weight. I have a very specific goal of 162 pounds for the start line at the Mohican 100 and I’ve managed to stay on track to reach it. So, my power-to-weight ratio is improving (although I don’t have a power meter on my Trek to officially measure this) and that means more speed.
2016 is all about being sleek and powerful – faster acceleration, more climbing, more standing in the cockpit, nimble descents. I want to be a trail panther stalking prey through the forest. (DORK!)
Of course, this is all about the positive vibes that I’ve been feeling this spring – not actual results. We will find out if those vibes translate to fast racing on April 10th in Mountwood, West Virginia – a mere 12 days away. Find more info about that awesome event here. This is the race that I consider to be the official start to mountain bike race season. It’s co-sponsored by the RVMBA and OMBC race series. They always get over 200 racers and it’s one of the largest cross country races in the region. The atmosphere is festive and it’s a wonderful day to hang out after a long winter spent inside.
Am I ready? I’m not really sure. I still fear that my legs will give out after powering my 32:18 gear ratio up the 3000th climb that day. Like all of you, I wish I had a few more weeks to train. If only I had more time on singletrack to hone my skills. But, that’s the beauty of an early spring race, some people have killed it all winter (Joe Worboy), while others are just knocking off the cobwebs (Congrats to Nahum Burt and his new baby). This is the first test of where you stand.
My team, Breakaway/Quickdirt/Trek (You can follow us on Facebook by clicking here), will have almost a dozen riders at the event. I look forward to the morning when our carpool caravan drives up route 50 and turns into the park. The sea of cars, bike racks, & mountain bikers seems to go on forever. It’s like seeing the first robin bopping through the yard in the spring. Let the festivities begin!
But, if you aren’t up for the drive to West Virginia, then the official start to the Ohio mountain bike race season will begin on April 23rd at Mohican State Park. This is one of the highest-rated trails on mtbproject.com and is a rite of passage for any Ohio trail rat. If you only do one race this year, then this is the one you should do. (But, I have about 10 others I could recommend – hmmm… maybe a future post here at Quickdirt???)
It’s going to be a fun year for mountain biking. Make sure you tell your friends to follow Quickdirt on Facebook. I’ll try and get plenty of photos when my heart rate settles down. If our paths cross this season, make sure you say “hi” and introduce yourself. I’ll be the exhausted guy with the big grin on his face.
Special shoutout to Mike Whaley, onecogblog.com, who has been a good riding buddy and a fountain of information about all things singlespeed this spring. Thanks Mike. Make sure you check out his blog and Facebook page for another perspective on mountain biking in the area.