Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun Ride, Playing with LED Lights, Eclipse

Thursday's MTB ride turned into a night ride due to bad time management throughout the day. So I decided to test out the new LED lights (since I didn't test them before the OP race). I wanted to see how they compared to my HID light. I had a really fun ride, a new bike and new lights to play with. Then I noticed that the moon, which had just come up full, was now a weird shape. I was riding toward the moon and watched the entire eclipse, pretty cool. Cell phones are not the best cameras...
As for the lights, the Dionette 600L does have a better, more consistent light pattern than my nightpro EVO Extreme HID. The 600L is much more of a flood, but seems to reach just as far. The surrounding night does not feel as dark, it felt like riding at dusk, but with a light. I say 600L on the helmet for sure and either a 600L or (hopefully) a 200L on bars (just to cast shadows for better depth perception). That will be the next test. I don't think the 600L handlebar mount is tough enough (I already broke one), but I won't need to run it on the bars if the 200L is strong enough to create shadows. Plus the 2nd 600L is Todd's...
600L vs HID

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1st place in 4 Person Women Open

Left to right: Zephanie Blasi, Heather Holmes, me, Amanda Riley Results

The Titus factory caught on fire, our photo shoot in Phoenix was almost rained out, and it rained and snowed at the venue with 25 degree lows, but we still had a great time. The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo event is tons of fun and it was great hanging out with the Kenda Titus Hayes team, staff and sponsors. We ran brand new Titus bikes, most of which were put together right before the race. The only hardtail I have ever ridden is my singlespeed, but it didn’t take long to get used to the Titus Fireline. Since we didn’t have much time (and I didn’t want to get my brand new bike dirty), my first ride was my first race lap. Todd kept telling me to be careful so I started slowly but picked up the pace pretty quickly; it is a great bike to race.

Running tubes in cactus country isn’t the best idea. We had flats like crazy, but most were slow leaks so we rode in on them. Some leaks weren’t slow, but it was cold so we rode in on them anyway. I did not have to change a flat on the course! Actually, I didn’t have to change a flat period; we had the best mechanical support possible in Chris Davidson. No matter what we did breaking in the bikes or running over cactus, they were good to go for the next lap. Chris asked us to stay on the trail and out of the cactus, but that is a lot easier said than done (especially when you have to pass 40+ other racers per lap).

For the first two laps my fork would lose air, making it hard to control. Then the Hayes mechanic figured out that a nut was loose on the fork and that fixed the problem. Our tire selection was spot-on, Kenda Karma (front) and Kenda Small Block Eight (rear); they hooked up really well. I know I was faster in the corners than on any other tire I have ridden. I never washed out the front tire, even on my crazy night lap. The Hayes Stroker Carbon disk brakes were also great; basically they worked perfectly, the lever was positioned exactly right and I never thought about them during the race. The reach adjustment on the lever is really a nice feature.

Lap after lap at race pace is a great way to shake down a new bike, I made adjustments for the first few laps, and it was dialed in for the last few laps. After coming in from the first lap with really sore arms, Chris pulled my brakes, shifters and grips in so that ~1.5" of bar was sticking out either side; magically my arms felt great. I now have a 3 inch stack of spacers on my steerer tube from lowering the bar. I still need to practice getting into Crank Brothers pedals and I need to take the bike in for a Wobble-Naught fit. It will be interesting to see how close I got it just by feel. I wasn’t getting all the way over top of the pedals like I do with the 55nine fit by Eddie O; I need to get back to that sweet setup.

The Really Bad Lap (my 2nd lap): I ran from the exchange tent to my bike and when I turned on my brand new Dionette light the mount snapped in half (too cold?). I had a tiny light (Dionette 200L) that was almost worthless by itself. I thought about stopping and taping the 600L to the bar, but didn’t. It made for an interesting, crazy, scary lap where I was in the cactus more than I was on the trail. With ~30 minutes left in the lap, I got a huge cactus spine in my shin. It hit a nerve or something, if I pointed my toe down even a tiny bit I got a shooting pain down the front of my leg to my toes. If I had been walking I would have fallen down it was such an overwhelming pain. When I finished my lap Todd pulled it out, it was down to the bone. I am not sure why I didn’t stop and pull it out… The adrenaline from everything going wrong seemed to help because my lap time was not bad.

On my second night lap I had working lights, but I did go down hard. A guy would not let me around and I finally forced a pass, but it didn’t work. I cracked my already hurt knee (car/bike incident) and had to spin for a minute. I caught him again, asked nicely for a pass, his response was to slam on his brakes, coming to a complete stop in the middle of the trail. Somehow I avoided smashing into him and got by as he yelled at me to not follow so closely. Of all the people I passed he was the only rude one. I feel sorry for the solo guys and gals who had to let us by all night long, they were very patient.

The best advice was from Dejay Birtch, who told me to "find the flow" and "let the bike ride itself". I did that for the third night lap and it was fun, but not as fast, so I ditched that plan for the final race pace lap. My teammates had to pack their bikes for the flight home so I tried a final fast lap (no issues, my fastest lap), then a super slow spin lap for a total of 6 laps. I rode the Fireline the entire time and felt fast. The hardtail was great for this course but I can’t wait to get the new Carbon Racer-X for more technical rides.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Crazy Week

What a week, was it only last weekend that I did the local AZ race? I have "lived" at Freightliner, the White Tanks venue (for the race), Freightliner (again), a truck stop between Tucson and Phoenix, a campground in Tucson, a hotel (back) in Phoenix, and in the van at the Old Pueblo (OP) race in Tucson. I have woken up to the alarm clock (cell phone alarm) every day for the last week; I really don't like getting up early. Todd made it back from the east coast Wednesday night bringing me the VW van for the OP race, which was really nice. It is so much easier/quieter/warmer/drier to live in the van vs. a tent.
The Kenda Titus Hayes team met up in Phoenix Thursday for a mini team camp. It was great to meet everyone including ultra endurance racers Danielle Musto and Hillary Harrison who have a different race schedule than the rest of us.
It rained Friday, turning the long dirt road to the OP venue into a muddy slip n slide. There was a long string of traffic headed in and I was really worried that the van would get stuck and block everyone. Luckily I made it in and found our team area which Jim at Kenda had set up for us, a great place to stage and stay dry. It started snowing on and off that evening; my teammates, team director and mechanic decided a wet 25 degrees was too cold for camping and risked the road out to find a hotel. I crashed in the van and never slept so well. I woke up at 1:00am to find the place crazy quiet and covered in over an inch of snow. I was too sleepy to find the camera so went back to bed, the snow had pretty much melted when I woke up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

First XC Race of 2008 - Local AZ race 2/9

I haven't found any pictures of the race yet, so here is one of my camping spot at the venue. Pretty huh?
I ended up seeing an orthopedic doctor for my car-incident injuries. His verdict is that my knees are bruised behind the kneecaps and my right quad is still recovering. I am still limping, trying to walk as little as possible, and trying to never turn/pivot to the right. But once I get on the bike everything feels better and that's all that matters, right? This was my last race as a Colavita rider. I raced the local MBAA series; race #2 White Tanks, just west of Phoenix. I loved the course, just enough technical to break up the pedaling, but all rideable. The laps were ~32/33 minutes in length; it was a fast course ~13.1 mph average (for me). These times do not include changing a flat (pinch flat), but I am very happy to report that I performed a significantly faster flat change than in the SSAZ08 race, I am now down to 4:17. I have never had to change a flat in a National race and I sure hope I never do, 4 minutes is a loss of way too many places.
I raced Expert men and came in 7th of 13 finishers in my age group. (Without the flat it looks like I would have placed 4th, just out of 3rd.) Which was still not good enough to beat Jenna Zander who showed up to race in the Pro Women's field, she is training in Tucson for the winter as well. I would have placed 2nd of 4 there (with or without a flat). All expert men started together so it was a big start with pro men ahead of us and SS, Sport and Rock Crusher men behind us. They ran all women and beginner men earlier in the day.
My Aunt Rusty and Uncle Jim winter in Phoenix and came out to see what this bike racing stuff is all about. They did feedzone handoffs for me and were great. I somehow still managed to mess up a feed and go down in the feedzone, great entertainment for the spectators I guess. (I came in too fast, missed the feed and hit the front brake in gravel. A rookie move for sure.) I am very happy to get in a race before Fontana, I made some mistakes and hopefully won't make the same mistakes in Fontana.
I am now in the Freightliner Trucker's lounge waiting on an alignment, tire rotation and a wire harness fix (I have been driving without any gauges (speed, etc.) since September). Next weekend: 24-hours of Old Pueblo as a Kenda Titus Hayes rider.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New Friends

We had seen and smelled this one for a few weeks. Then I left the cat food outside, when I went back out to get it this guy was having dinner and would not budge. I didn't want to get sprayed, but I didn't want to feed him either...
Look twice before stepping out of the house when parked in AZ desert. There was a family of javelinas hanging out by the front door. All but this little one took off before I could grab the camera.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Krista vs. Pickup

I was headed home from a workout and got hit by a car. Well, I hit a pickup. I was in the bike lane and the driver did not see me till it was too late. He pulled out in front of me, I hit the brakes but still nailed the front quarter panel, my bike and I went over the hood and landed in front of the truck.
I am fine, just bruised up, my right quad is one huge knot and deep (soon to be) bruise. My right knee hurts, otherwise just some scrapes and all-over-aches. The bike seems okay except for bent rims. Three police cars, a fire engine, etc. showed up, it was quite a scene. I was able to open the brakes and ride (limp) home. I think the adrenalin allowed me to ride home, but I probably should have taken the firemen up on their offer of a ride home. Watch out for cyclists!

Single Speed AZ 2008

SSAZ08, 45 mile loop (50 if you include riding to the start and back from the finish), ~6500feet of climbing, lots of hike-a-bike, super techy and a long crazy DH descent (good picture in one of the links below) to the finish. I have not seen any official results (single speeders…) I finished 5th or 6th SS out of 47 (1st of the 3 girls). My time was 5hrs23min. The race started in 32degree weather with a 47minute paved climb to singletrack, the first place guy soloed off, then there was my group of 6 including the other pro girl Jennifer Wilson, I looked back down the climb when we turned onto singletrack and didn't see anyone else. I was in a good position after the first downhill, but had to stop to change a flat then play catch up for a while. I rode with a quite a few different guys, it was a very social race; trying to figure out the trail with other racers is a lot more fun that going it alone.
And all on less than 3 hours sleep. Being a SS race, we had to be at the bar (in Tucson) the night before from 11:45 to midnight for "packet pickup". Some of the other serious racers blew it off and I probably should have as well, but I thought I would do the SS thing. And they actually got rolling at sun-up, hangovers and all.
This picture is the finish line, pizza and beer in a wash, very nice pictures in the MTBR links:

Bye Sadie