Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Crusher in the Tushar 2013 Race Report

On paper the Crusher does not look all that ominous, 69 miles and 10,500 vertical feet of climbing.  In practice this race is absolutely diabolical.  A word of caution if you are thinking about doing this race, it's hard.  Easily on par with Leadville 100 and the Park City Point to Point.  It is a well oiled machine.  Burke Swindlehurst and the volunteers in Beaver do a fantastic job catering to racers needs both during, before and after the race.  This was my third year of suffering through this race and certainly won't be the last. I thought I would throw out a couple of thoughts for what it's worth.

I had three goals going into this race.
1. Don't blow up and get shot out of the back of the peloton until after the start of the dirt 11 miles into the race. 
This is something I failed to do the first and second time I raced this course as I tried to keep up with the cross bikes on my fat tired MTN bike.  (This year I ran 700x35 cross tires which worked much better.) 
2.  Don't blow up on the flat through Junction trying to keep up with pace lines. Another thing I failed to do the first two years.
3. Do not under any circumstances walk any part of the KOM climb.

For me what makes this race so hard is the sustained effort.  Most MTN Bike races have more of a sawtooth profile, shorter climbs broken up with descents.  Lots of little breaks to get your legs back.  The Crusher has one break at approx miles 25-38 where you descend the washboarded Col D' Crush followed by a short steep section of pavement.  These miles are an insignificant portion of the race and before you know it you are back on the throttle. 

The sufferfest starts in earnest when you pass the 20 miles to Finish sign which greets riders at the base of  the Col D' Crush. Year one I walked a good portion of this climb.  Year two... I walked a significant portion of this climb.  The pro's install mountain cassettes on their cross bikes so they don't have to walk sections of this climb. The last mile of the KOM climb is the hardest and longest mile I have ever ridden. 

Year three was good for me.  I still suffered just as much as previous years but for a shorter time.  Fitness and tire choice kept me from getting chewed up and spit out the back early.  I was able to work with other racers in all the areas where it was important.  I stayed in the peloton until we hit the first dirt section and then I got into a great paceline through Junction.  And finally I cleaned the Col D' Crush, that alone made the race a success.

For me this is a race against the clock.  I get beat by lots of people.  This year I was surrounded by friends for the final 10 miles which was awesome and I beat my PR by 48 minutes. 

Finish times
Year 1- 7:31
Year 2- 7:02
Year 3- 6:14
Year 4- Sub 6???

Next year I need to focus on the last 20 miles of the race which means I have some big mountains to climb between now and then. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rubbin's Racin' The Night We Almost Killed Jordan

I have a video to share but before you watch I have to introduce it with this background story.

A little while back Lane had a cracked wheel on his bigwheel so he pulled out a roll of duct tape and made a few wraps around the wheel to reinforce it so he could ride.  That night Lane went from a mid pack rider to a podium finisher.  The duct tape added just enough extra grip in the corners which allowed him to carry more speed.  My bigwheel was faster in the straights and I remember getting out front then every corner Lane would come blowing by me on the inside as I struggled to keep from being flung to the outside and off the road.  I would pass on every straight and then get passed at every corner, it was frustrating.  I thought I was just having an off night and that Lane was just picking better lines and doing a better job at setting up the corner. 

Lane's conscience got the best of him and the next week he spilled the beans on his new found speed secret.  It takes a lot of skill and finesse to navigate the switchbacks of Squaw Peak at high speed on plastic wheels.  When my brother told me they were all going to tape their wheels the purist in me was a little offended.  I told them that they should just go straight to rubber wheels if they were going to do anything at all.  The next week everyone but me in the core group had taped their wheels.  I was still holding out.  As an added bonus Randy and his race car buddies showed up that night.  Nobody said a word about the tape to the race car guys.  It had been a while since these guys showed up and our group was looking forward to being able to dominate. 

I got spit out the back almost immediately, there is just no way I was able to keep up, Jordan who has always been the fastest in the race car group was the only one not cheating that was able to keep up but barely.  While everyone else was relying on  the grip of the tape to keep them on the road Jordan was dropping his rear wheel off of the inside edge of the road and hooking the edge like a rail to keep from sliding to the outside.  This method works great on right hand corners but it's not such a good idea for obvious reasons on lefts.  Jordan's frustration level was growing.  How was it that everyone else was suddenly so much faster? 

After getting beat the first two runs Jordan pulled out all the stops for run number three.  This is a long video so if you want to see the good part skip to 6:50.
I had no idea what happened until I got to the bottom when they told me that Jordan tagged a car.  I asked if anyone stopped and the response was. "No... We were racin'".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1938 Schwinn Autocycle Blues

I have an obsession for checking KSL.com multiple times a day to see the new listings for “Schwinn”. Today just prior to leaving work I pulled up the search again and this is what I found.

I found this 1938 Schwinn Autocycle in my Great Grandfathers Garage while cleaning it out. I Did some research and found it to be a lost treasure. First introduced in 1936 the Autocycle seriously revolutionized the balloon tire field in styling and sophistication. So much going on here that Schwinn incorporated the word AUTO into the title of these bikes. No other bike of the period had as many deluxe features and accessories as the Autocycle. This jewel tanked bicycle is 100% original parts, no aftermarket stuff at all. From the full floating "pogo" saddle right down to the deluxe speedometer crossbar. It has dual Seiss headlights, locking truss fork with original Yale Junior Arnold Schwinn & Co. key, WW Goodyear G-3 Tires and a Schwinn Speedo head. It also features the early Fore Brake and super rare early brake handle with the original cable. NOS Liberty headbadge and a Liberty decal on the downtube. First year for the feather chrome chainguard.

I don't know what to ask for it in it's current condition before being restored but I want it to be a fair price for both of us so if you are interested and have an idea of how much it's worth please call me and lets talk.

Thank You,

I picked up the phone and called immediately because I knew there would be a fight for this bike. The seller said that he had another guy coming to look at it and offered $750. I told him I would do at least $800 and with that I raced off to try to be the first there with cash. Sadly about 2 miles from the sellers house my phone rang, “Sorry I sold it, but thanks for offering 8 I got another 50 bucks out of the guy who bought it.” He then asked me if I knew who Mike Wolfe was, and that he had just gotten a call from him wanting the bike just after he sold it. He was disappointed because he thought that he might have had a chance to be on TV if he had held out.

I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I turned around and went home. And to add insult to injury I told my wife about it. Now I am in the dog house with her for not discussing the attempted purchase with her first. Seriously this one is going to haunt me for a long time. I doubt I will ever see another in this good of condition for that kind of money.

I am still in the market if anyone happens to know someone with an extra Autocycle lying around, be sure to send them my way.

Damn that thing would have made one hell of a commuter.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frozen Hog 2011 Last Place Podium Finish

After another December of overindulgence, I started training for the Frozen Hog. I look forward to this every year. It gives me a reason to get out of bed during the grey winter. Usually at 4:40 so that I can make it to the 5:15 spin class followed by a 2-4 mile run before work. Given the choice I would always rather ride outside instead of on a spin bike at the gym but the reality of it is that it's just a more efficient use of time. The running part of the training is entirely new to me, last year I neglected to train for the run and found myself hobbling for a week after the race after my atrophied running muscles got completely shredded. You never know what you are going to get, this race is entirely in the hands of Mother Nature and last year she decided that she wanted us to run. I suppose this may have scared a lot of people off because the numbers were a little sparse this year.

The trail conditions were absolutely fantastic. This was the drag race of winter mountain bike racing. I went into the Le Mans start feeling confident with all the running time I had put in during training, but I just sucked at it. I got passed a lot and got a poor start position going into the first single track section. The first real opportunity you have to make a clean pass is about half way through the lap at the start of the down hill. I did my best to make up time and started passing riders but just didn’t have the power I had hoped I would so the progress was slow. The laps flew by and before I knew it I was riding up the final road to the finish. My sputtering engine finally started firing on all cylinders and I gave it all I had. I wish I would have been able to do that earlier in the race. I ended up finishing 3rd out of 3, yep dead last in my class yet still a podium finish. I doubt that will ever happen again.

One thing I have noticed that can either make or break a race is the promoter. I think there are lots of race promoters that do a great job at all the behind the scenes stuff but when it comes down to the most visible stuff like having DJ skills to call the race and announce awards and raffles they fall on their face. And then there are the prizes, a race promoter needs to be aggressive and convincing to the sponsors that their donated merchandise and serviced will make good financial business sense. Every time I have been to the Frozen Hog they have given away at least one bike and usually two. This year Raleigh gave away a belt drive single speed and a 24” kid’s bike which were awesome. Josh did an excellent job at all aspects of promoting and I look forward to future races.

The beauty of this event is that it exists, I don’t know what the conditions will be like next year but I can tell you this much, I will train for the worst and hope for the best. To all those who didn’t show up because they didn’t like the conditions last year, it is time to put away the purse. Oh and Josh next year you might want to coordinate with Lynda Wallenfels.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trek MOD ified Big Drift Bigwheel

Back in September I reported the progress on the search for a new bigwheel supplier.  The Big Drifts looked awesome but I knew the rear wheels were going to be a problem and so did the manufacturer below is their response after I reported the results of my test run that melted the wheels off.

Our legal adviser advised us to tell you that our Big Drifts as is shouldn't be used in such a high speed (30 or even 40 mph) as you said.
As you already know, our structure (particularly the rear wheel) is not made for such a high speed and abuse.
Attached please find our "Assembly Instructions", which includes "Warning", which specifies that the maximum speed is 20 km (12.5 mph).
If you go over our maximum speed, please retrofit or re-enforce it enough to endure that kind of high speed and abuse at your own risk.
We're telling you this for your own saftey.
Thank you for your understanding of our concern.

What is the point of living if you can't exceed the 12.5 MPH speed limit! 
Randy had new axles made for the Big Drift that will fit the Trek MOD wheels and now (at my own risk) I am updating the maximum rated speed to brown-out minus .5 MPH.  As long as you can control your sphincter feel free to go as fast as you like, you have my permission. 

I have a limited quantity available in Red, Orange and Yellow they are $350 (Modified axle and Trek wheels included) and I will ship free to the lower 48.  If you want one for the kids to tool around in the neighborhood $250 will get you one in the stock configuration (the wheels will only melt off if they go really really fast) 
Be a Hero this Christmas
Give me a call if you want me to send one out 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 3 Drive It Like You Stole It

While Allyson and I were dating she called and wanted advice on buying a new car. She was at Chatwin Motors in Provo talking with a salesman. She told me that she was going to trade in her Rabbit on a Toyota Tercel. I told her that they would probably inflate the price of the car by $500 and then turn around and give her $500 for the trade. I told her that she would be better off just keeping it and selling it privately if she really wanted to get rid of it. She finished up the paperwork and drove home in her new car leaving the Rabbit at the dealership. Later that night she went back to the dealership after they closed and picked up the Rabbit.

A few years later I was cleaning out some old files and ran across the paperwork from when she bought the Tercel. Curious as to what kind of deal she got on the car I started looking through it. One line item really stood out to me. It was the one that said trade in and had a $500 credit for a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit. I added up the figures just to make sure I was reading it right and sure enough the price of the car had been reduced by $500 for the trade in value of the Rabbit.

I called Allyson into the room for a little explanation. The conversation went a little like this.

Me “Looks like the dealership gave you $500 for the Rabbit”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But you still have the Rabbit?”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But they gave you $500 for it”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “How does that work?”

Allyson “I don’t know”

Me “How did you get the Rabbit back?”

Allyson “I just went and picked it up after they closed”

Me “You stole the car?”

Allyson “No I had a key. I just went and got it”

Me “But you traded it in”

Allyson “Yeah?”

We went back and forth with this for a while and in the end we both stood our ground.

Me “You stole the car”

Her “No I did not”

To this day she denies stealing the car.  I know that she didn't intentionally do it.  It was just a little misunderstanding between her and the dealership.   But that being said it’s a fun little story that I will hold over her head for the rest of her life.

Well it was pretty obvious that the dealership really didn’t want this car and I am pretty sure they never reported the theft to the police. Since then I have been pulled over a couple of times in it and never had any problems so I guess she got away with it.

Tonight the Rabbit went to a new home, not including Chatwin Motors this is its second owner. This is probably something that I should have disclosed prior to selling it but hey if you can’t live with it being stolen bring it back for a full refund.
Warning not as innocent as she may appear
Love You Sweetheart

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 2

I worked for Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale California right out of school. They hauled both of our cars and all our belongings down there on their dime. It didn’t matter that the freight bill was more than the cars worth. It was amusing to see the faces of the movers when it came time to load the car.

After a year it became obvious to us that we would never be able to buy and pay for a house in the San Jose area so we made the move back to Utah. I filled a moving van and trailer with all our personal belongings and a 55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. There was just no room for the Rabbit, we left it behind. I thought hard about getting rid of it at that time since I was fairly confident that it would not make the trip home under its own power. It had a blown head gasket and was overheating.

I was feeling lucky and had a fool-proof backup plan in the form of a 1988 Bianchi road bike strapped to the back (It has downtube shifters how can you go wrong with downtube shifters?). I figured between San Jose and Salt Lake there are no towns farther than around 100 miles from each other and knew if I needed to I could abandon-car, ride to the next town and buy a Greyhound ticket. The perfect plan…

I bought a one way plane ticket and headed out. From the airport I took the train to the station nearest our old house and walked the last few miles. We still had a couple of days on our rental contract so I slept on the floor and woke early to start preparing for the trip. I bought seven gallons of water and a roll of duct tape from the grocery store and a couple new coolant hoses and hose clamps from the parts store. My last stop in San Jose was Taco Bell. I always order a 7-Layer and a bean burrito. I try to stay away from the meat there.

One eye on the road and the other on the temperature gage I made my way East. Slow and steady. I left the cap on the coolant tank loose to bleed off the excess pressure that was blowing by the head gasket and filling the coolant with exhaust gasses and oil. I had to hit the sweet spot on the cap not to tight and not too loose kept the coolant in and let the pressure out. I played a mechanical balancing act with the car until the temp gage approached the red line at which point I would pull over and refill the radiator with the life giving water (approx every 40-50 miles) and resume. It was like we were working as one, I was intimately connected to the car I could feel its pain. I could feel where I could push, where I needed to ease of and when I needed to give it a rest. It was a mentally exhausting trip, instead of listening to the radio I listened to the motor. I refilled my gallon jugs of water at every town as we limped our way through the Sierra Nevada’s and across the Nevada desert. When I couldn’t take any more we stopped at a rest stop and I spent the night sleeping in the driver’s seat.

When the sun rose the little diesel miraculously sputtered to life. I was like Cramer driving on empty; never had man pushed the limits of a machine as far as I did that day. As we passed through Wendover then across the salt flats I got a little misty eyed as the Wasatch came in to view. This is my home and I had been away far too long. I felt whole again, everything was going to be ok.

Tonight prospective Buyer #2 came to test drive the Rabbit, I like this guy, like me he enjoys working on cars and knows and appreciates the beauty that is just a little more than skin deep on this car. While he was out on a test drive I got a call from a lady who found the car on KSL obviously by searching by the maximum amount she could afford. She had no clue what it was. She asked if it would be a reliable 50 mile a day commuter. My response, “Absolutely not, one thing that I can guarantee is that something will always break on this car.” And that was the honest truth. The good thing is that it is cheap and easy to fix when it does and all the hard stuff has already been done.

Buyer #2 returned with a smile on his face. He took it to a buddy of his who is a professional Volkswagen mechanic and told him what I already knew and that it was a JEM worth every penny of the asking price. He is going to come and take it tomorrow.

I think I am going to be ok.